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!