Monday, December 31, 2007

Ringing in the New Year

After nearly 7 days, 30+ hours of which were spent in the car, Kevin and I are back from our whirlwind tour of the Midwest. Everytime we go to see our family for Christmas, we swear the next year will be more relaxing. But truth be told, I don't think we would want to miss out on any of the gatherings! The sweetest, by far, was our day with Clarice and Gracie, our 5 week-old twin nieces. They are so beautiful and precious. Nothing beats babies at Christmas!

On another note, I received a gift that will keep on giving: a Cuisinart slowcooker! It's the Mercedes-Benz of crock pots, and I've got a fabulous Tarragon Chicken dish simmering as I type. Mmmm...A tasty New Years Eve dinner awaits...

A happy, grace-filled New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No One is Immune...

It's official. I fell into a state of Christmas Freak Out. In a previous musing, I peacefully contemplated our lack of time to prepare for Christmas and what a gift that has been to our prayer life. Well, for the first time in a month, we spent the weekend at home, and what did I do but make ridiculously long lists of Christmas tasks to accomplish only to end up in a puddle on the couch on Monday night with 7 sealed Christmas cards, two wrapped gifts, half-finished mint brownies for the neighbors and my loving, patient husband to console me.

So what did we do? We decided to send Epiphany cards, wrap most presents when we arrive at my mother's house, and finish the brownies at some point before we leave. It is time to let go.

Giving up control is an on-going theme for me this Advent. From Christmas preparations to travel plans to my own interior thoughts and emotions, I have been called, repeatedly, to give control to God and trust that He will lead me by the hand to accomplish the necessities of life in a loving manner (i.e. refrain from sitting my husband down to tell him how inconsiderate he is for not helping me with a list of To-Dos he was not even aware of). In contemplating the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus, I am continually reminded of Mary's fiat, her yes, in which she trusted God to conceive our Lord within her, for the life of us all. And as hard as it is, I want to be the handmaid of the Lord as well, living on His terms.

So to all of our family and friends, you can look forward to receiving some Epiphany-love in the next couple weeks.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Car By Any Other Name...

Friday started out as any other wintry work day for Kevin and me. Bundle up, scrape the cars, make the slushy commute into work, rustle up a parking spot, settle into my desk for some emails and toast. It wasn't long before things got interesting.

"Good morning, this is Andrea Lynn"

"Hi, it's me."

"Oh hey, you forgot your lunch this morning! I hope you can find something else besides The Smasher's* sandwiches."

"I don't think that'll be a problem. I'm at home."

"What? Why?"

About half way into his drive to work, Kevin started feeling queasy. (This isn't terribly unusual since he has a sensitive stomach and takes a vitamin the morning.) Then he got a funny taste in his mouth. And before he knew it, there was vomit everywhere. The dash, the steering wheel, the vents, even the windshield, causing him to have to lean over to see out of the passenger's side. Somehow he had the gumption to get Scooter**, our blue Ford Escape, into a parking lot to turn around and make the stinky drive home.

We talked numerous times throughout the day. How do I clean my clothes? What should we do about the car? Do you have a fever? But the biggest question lurking in our minds, even now, is what could have caused this?

Here are three probables:

1. One of Kevin's coworkers was sick last Tuesday and missed an important meeting with a "stomach bug."

2. Kevin took his vitamin too long after he ate, and the queasy feeling was just too much.

3. Kevin, in a effort to make sure I could use my windshield wiper fluid for the slushy commute, used his tongue to melt the ice that was covering the wiper fluid valve on the hood.

It remains a mystery what really caused this impromptu Cookie Tossing, but #3 is pretty suspicious. However, I'm glad to say there was no subsequent vomiting and he's felt like a champ ever since.

Scooter is another story. In the Bible, certain characters undergo name changes after significant events. Jacob becomes Esau after wrestling with an angel. Simon becomes Peter when Christ makes him the leader of his disciples. Saul becomes Paul as he embarks on his life as an apostle. And after Friday, Scooter becomes the Vomit Comet for enduring such a fate.

*The Sandwich Smasher is an employee in the cafeteria at the lab where Kevin works. For some reason, this person flattens sub sandwiches as she assembles them and cuts them in half. She is now infamous among Kevin's coworkers.

**I always name my cars and Kevin has followed suit.

Love in Action

Thank you Kev! I love you too.


Happy Gaudete Sunday to all! This is one of my favorite Sundays of the year. Why? Pink vestments. I know they're technically "rose," but let's be honest. Pink is pink. It's an attention-grabbing color...especially when a priest wears it.

So let us rejoice this Gaudete Sunday! Our Savior is soon to be born!


Our tree is finally up and preparations continue. This is the first weekend we've been home in a month! A breath of fresh air...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Love Until It Hurts

Here is a wonderful post from one of my favorite blogs. A beautiful reminder to love always, especially when it hurts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

80 Years Young

On December 2nd, Kevin's grandmother marked her 80th year. As you can tell from the picture below, she is very envogue!
(I hope that I can pull off luxe animal print when I'm 80 years old!)

More importantly, the celebration of Grandma's 80th birthday was a tribute to her gift of love and sacrifice that has shaped every one of us, even those who married into the family. (Like me!) Thank you, Grandma, for your love, patience, and support. We pray you will have many more years of blessing!'s what's for dinner

Kevin is the Grill Master at our house, but I had my turn at the Lumber Baron's Restaurant in Bay City, Michigan a couple weekends ago. I chose my own juicy filet and grilled it to my liking over an open coal fire pit. It was fun and satisfying to prepare my own steak...maybe I'll have to take on the Weber when the weather is nicer!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Season of Expectation

During the past few weeks, I have been duly reminded of the need for the Advent season. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle, lights, tinsel, presents and food that the approaching Christmas holiday brings. And this year, it seems I haven't even had time for that! Kevin and I made our long trek to Michigan for Thanksgiving only to turn around and fly back the next weekend for his grandmother's birthday party this past weekend! (More on that later.) And this weekend, we are heading up to Lake George for a youth retreat. (Picture me hyperventilating into a paper bag.) All that being said, we haven't even had the time to be franticly preparing the house for Christmas, purchasing Christmas gifts, writing Christmas cards, or making travel plans. Life is full, but not in the usual December way.

Though visible preparations for Christmas have gone by the wayside, our inner preparations have begun to blossom. Advent is a time of prayer and expectation; a time in which we prepare our hearts to receive Jesus, to experience the miracle of his coming to earth in a deep way. Here is a prayer* that Kevin and I are offering each night:

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"

So let us prepare our hearts, that we would be more open to receiving the miracle of Jesus' birth into our lives this Christmas.

*Prayer written by Father Henri J.M. Nouwen

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Our trip to Michigan for Thanksgiving was a success! The border crossings were clear, the dog stayed calm, and I didn't fall into Interstate Syndrome. And for the first time, I felt like a part of Kevin's family. Since we have been married, it has always been a struggle to be away from my family, and I felt somewhat on the outside of his during these special days. This Thanksgiving, I felt at ease, cared for, and totally comfortable being myself. Truly a blessing.

However, the best part of Thanksgiving was spending time with our nephew, Edward. He is nearly 12 months-a precious little ball of energy and giggles. Truly priceless.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Have Headlamp. Will Travel.

Tomorrow is the day of our 9 hour Thanksgiving Road Trip to Michigan. This will come as no surprise to my husband, but I am not very good at road trips, especially those over 30 minutes or so. I'm probably worse than most toddlers. And you can't occupy me with a sippy cup and fruit snacks.

Here's the usual routine for our treks. I'm ok for a while, listening to music, singing along, making conversation. But eventually, I go into Survival Mode which entails staring out the window, and ignoring Kevin (who prefers to do most of the driving) in an attempt to will the car to our destination. Intermittently, I'll pick up a book or a Sudoku puzzle, but inevitably, Survival Mode will commence, once again. It only escalates when the sun goes down and I don't even have the option of print distractions: Full-blown Interstate Syndrome complete with glazed-over eyes and a crabby disposition.

Last year, however, I found a solution my problem of nighttime car boredom and Kevin's problem of a crabby wife: the headlamp. When it gets dark (which is at about 4:30pm these days), I slip on my trusty headlamp and I can knit, read, do puzzles, search for snacks in my numerous bags, all without the dreaded Dome Light, a serious hazzard to night driving.

However, after a few regretable incidents, we had to set up some parameters for the headlamp's use.
1. The wearer's head must stay reasonably still while the headlamp is in use. (Imagine strobe light in the passengers seat.)

2. The headlamp cannot be worn while going through customs. (We need to have at least the appearance of sanity while crossing into another country.)

3. When wearing the headlamp, do not stare out the window toward other cars while it is on. (Flash of light in another driver's eye...startle...swerve...accident...lawsuit.)

I must say the headlamp has come in mighty handy during our long trips in the dark. It's not just for spelunking anymore!

Here's hoping I can avoid full-blown Interstate Syndrome, at least for Kevin's sake.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Brrr...It's Chili!

As much as I love warm sunny weather, I look forward to fall and winter, at least in part, because of the casseroles, stews, soups, roasts, and other yummy comfort food. Let's face it. Turning the oven up to 375 degrees to bake a casserole for an hour during the dog-days of August is not very appealing. However, a big pot of chili and a batch of cornbread on the first cold day in October is priceless!

Here's my favorite chili recipe. I've been making it for a couple years now and it's morphed considerably. That's the beauty of chili and most soups, really. They are easy to personalize. Enjoy!

Turkey Chili (Version XXVI)

3tbs olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1 package taco seasoning
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 can (14.5oz.) beef broth
1 jar salsa
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 7 oz. can diced green chilis
1 can dark red kidney beans, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Sour cream and cheese for garnish

1. Heat 1 tbs oil on med-high heat in large stock pot. Crumble trukey into pot, break up w/ spoon. Season w/ taco seasoning and spices. Mix and continue browning until turkey is cooked though.
2. Pour in beef broth and simmer about 5 minutes. Add salsa, tomatoes, green chilis, and beans. Bring to a moderate simmer for 10 minutes.
3. In skillet, heat 1 tbs oil and cook green pepper, onion, and garlic about 5 minutes, until onion is transluscent. Add to chili and continue cooking at a low simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Ladle chili into individual bowls. Garnish and serve!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Real Solutions, Better Health

With all of the conflicting research around hormonal birth control or "the pill" and its risks, I think this USA Today article is worth reading. The article discusses a recent study at Ghent University in Begium which centered around whether hormonal birth control brought on an increased risk in artery-clogging plaque. This study is especially timely with the recent years' increasing awareness of heart disease in women.

While the study found a 20%-30% increased risk of artery clogging plaque in women who took hormonal birth control, the general conclusion was that the study was small (1,031 subjects), and this topic needs further study to substantiate the results. However, this is just another risk that has been speculated for women using the pill, especially those women who have been taking it for many years.

There are a myriad of reasons to be taking the pill and many are medically legitimate i.e. a treatment option for an medical disorder, not just a method of shutting down a woman's reproductive system in order to prevent pregnancy. To those women who use the pill as a method of birth control only or as a means to control menstrual pain, flow, or irregularities, there are alternate methods of dealing with these issues that do not involve pumping manufactured hormones into your body.

On the topic of postponing pregnancy and/or spacing children, one solution is the symptothernal method of tracking your fertility. Here are two sites that outline this method in detail and provide resources such as classes, physicians, and help hotlines to aid you in the process of allowing your body to function naturally while exercising reproductive responsibility. This is NOT the rhythm method (i.e. assuming every cycle is 28 days in order to estimate the time of ovulation) The symptothermal method of tracking fertility is medically proven and when used diligently, can be over 99% effective! Nothing to sneeze at. Here are the links:

The Couple to Couple League

Taking Charge of Your Fertility

The pill is very often prescribed for women who experience painful, high flow, or irregular menstrual cycles. While the medication often succeeds in alleviating the symptoms, it can also mask greater problems in a woman's overall health. The nature of the irregularities in a woman's reproductive functioning can be an indicator for a greater problem. By pinpointing the symptoms and then taking the appropriate steps to identify the deficiency or abnormality in the woman's body that may be indicated by them, the woman's symptoms can be diminshed and a greater state of health can be achieved! Here is a link to a great book that may help you to locate resources and start taking a closer look at your menstrual cycle symptoms and their root cause(s).

Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon

The links below also provide information on natural, researched ways of dealing with many problems that occur in a woman's reproductive system: cycle irregularities, premenstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian disease, repetitive miscarriage, postpartum depression, prematurity prevention, abnormal bleeding, cramping, and hormonal abnormalities. These methods and organizations represent thirty years of scientific research in the study of the normal and abnormal states of the menstrual and fertility cycles.

NaPro Technology

Pope Paul VI Institute

Ladies, your fertility is worth nourishing and protecting. Here's to your health!

Here are some comments that a friend made. Thought they were good...

  • "It's worth adding that all hormonal bc has risks, and there are no longitudinal studies on any one form of hormonal birth control. It's a changing beast. The levels and combinations of hormones available from one pill to another, and from IUDs to patches, are completely different, and the formulas have changed each year since the pill was introduced in the late 60s.And because there are no long-term studies, problems with artificial birth control (ABC) are discovered largely by accident. In 2002, the patch went on the market. In 2005, the FDA (in reaction to about 20 reported deaths) announced that women who used the patch were exposed to about 60 percent more estrogen than originally thought.Also worth mentioning: those .5 to 1 percent failure rates advertised for ABC are method failure rates. Not typical user failure rates. Typical user failure rates can be up to 20 percent, depending on the characteristics of the person using the method." Saint-Like Mother to Be Philomena

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Tribute... the Maize and Blue. Here's to a great win over MSU!

The greatest fight song EVER!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pray for Us!

Today is the feast of All Saints, a day to remember those who have gone before us, who now share in God's heavenly glory. Kevin and I went to the vigil mass last night and I was struck once again with the beauty of our faith, the immeasurable gift of the communion of the saints. Most people have saints that they seem to identify with in a particular way, and my closest spiritual friend in heaven is St. Therese of Lisieux.

I chose her specifically as my patron saint at my confirmation. At the time, I simply liked the fact that she is called "The Little Flower." I like flowers. I want to be something beautiful for God. That name will do. As I have continued on my Catholic journey, learning more about Therese, Christ's love, and myself, I can see that she has become integral to my spirituality and vocation. Therese lived her life in poverty and service at a Carmelite monastery. She scrubbed, swept, prayed, and prayed some more. She contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 24 in 1897. Despite her short and humble existance, Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Universal Church, one of only three women so named. St. Therese realized that it was not necessary to do "great deeds" in order to attain holiness or express her love for God. In her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, Therese wrote,

"Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."

The spiritual patronage of St. Therese is more than the beauty of a flower. God gave Therese something that God longs to give me, something that I so desperately need: humility and love for God; a will that is perfectly in sync with that which God wants to give me. I have spent a lot of time making plans for "great deeds"-plans of multiple degrees, success in the professional world, recognition for great accomplishments. But will I accept where I am, right here, right now? Will I allow God to be glorified at all times, even when I'm scrubbing the kitchen floor?

A couple years ago, I found a holy card with St. Therese and this prayer on the back:

Lord please grant that I may allow myself to be guided by you, follow your plans and perfectly accomplish you holy will. Grant that in all things, great and small, today and all the days of my life, I may do whatever you may require of me. Please help me to respond to the slightest prompting of your grace so that I may be your trustworthy instrument. May your will be done in time and eternity, by me, in me and through me. Amen.

Thank you God, for the gift of your saints. Heaven knows we need them!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hard Corps

Last weekend, Kevin and I drove down to Washington D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon. Kevin had been training long and hard for the race, so there was definitely a little bit of nervous energy in the car. Not only was there the anticipation of Sunday's race, but the drive was downright stressful-Friday at 5 on the New Jersey Turnpike in the rain...need I say more?
Saturday and Sunday were absolutely beautiful. We took some time on Saturday to check out the monuments and other capitol attractions, without putting too much strain on Kevin's limbs.

The Capitol Building

A frog we found on an exotic flower at the United States Botanic Gardens

The sight that made the biggest impact on me was the World War II memorial. It is very beautiful with tall columns, dedicated to the men and women who served from all 50 states. There were many people visiting the memorial, even a few WWII veterans. It brought tears to my eyes to think of what it must be like for them, to remember the pain, the courage, the hope, and all the events that surrounded that time in their life.

Race day started really early. Kevin's friend, Jason, came from Cleveland to run the marathon as well. So, Britt, Jason's wife, and I took the Metro to the starting line to begin spectating. Watching a marathon isn't like watching any other sporting event. You actually have to haul yourself around to multiple places on the 26.2 mile route in order to cheer for your loved one. It can be exhausting! Especially when you're with thousands of other people who are trying to reach mile 14 to pick out their loved in in the crowd of crazy runners.
Kevin had a great race and finished hard. There was a tough hill right before the finish and I got this shot of him powering up the hill. Hard core.

To the left of Kevin is one of the many Marines who volunteered their time for the marathon. In my civilian life, I don't have many chances to see the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect the U.S. and so many other countries around the world. It was inspiring to see many men and women from all branches of the Armed Forces running the marathon with all of the strength and courage that they could muster. There were also many participants wearing shirts in memory of a loved one who lost their life defending our country and our freedom.

To all the men and women of the Armed Forces, especially those overseas, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families. Thank you for your sacrifice and courage.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fab Film

For those of you who love the movies, especially breakthrough indie films, I highly recommend the award winning "Bella." This film won the 2006 People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, an honor shared with other films such as "Life is Beautiful," "Hotel Rwanda," and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The movie celebrates life, in all of its adversity and joy. It is a love story that goes beyond romance.

Go to the website to find a theatre near you!

Monday, October 22, 2007

(Not Quite) There and Back Again

Here are some pics from our latest adventure! Kevin's parents were in town so we took them up to the High Peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. We attempted Cascade Mountain about 6 miles east of Lake Placid. The peak is the 36th highest of the High Peaks at 4098ft and the ascent from base to summit is 1940 feet. There are 46 high peaks and this should have been our third, but alas, we did not make it to the top. I think the pictures tell the story best...

As you can see, a decent fall day. Leaves have fallen, 40ish degrees. Onward and upward!

A delicate, white dusting...

...and winter was upon us!

What the heck! It's October 14th!

Believe it or not, the summit is hidden by all that blowing snow above Kevin, and all of those rocks are covered in ice. We didn't venture much further. While it's never fun to give up and turn back before you bag the peak, it's better to live to tell the tale!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Our Launch into the Blogosphere

I never thought I'd actually be doing this...blogging. Until very recently, it seemed to me that blogging was just a lot of people airing their grievances, reviewing any product they can think of, or giving their two sense about what's going on in the world. Why would I care to read any of that?? It's just a waste of time, right? I have better things to do.

Well, I've changed my tune. I have become sucked into cyberspace in a way that goes beyond searching for discount plane tickets and closeout running shoes. I am now an avid blog reader...friends' blogs, mommy blogs, product review blogs, teenage angst blogs, Catholic apologetics blogs...the list goes on. So, now that I'm hooked on reading them, why not add my own two sense to the blog-filled cyberuniverse?

Here I am, or should I say, here WE are cyberspace! Kevin and Andrea are making their inaugural post.