Monday, July 23, 2012

National NFP Awareness Week

July 22 through the 28 is National NFP Awareness Week! Because of this I thought I would list some sites I find useful in learning more about NFP.

Some of these sites have also helped me feel like my husband and I are part of a larger community. This is important because as individuals, we’ve come across a lot of misunderstanding, negativity, and even downright cruelty toward our beliefs and teachings. Getting on Facebook and seeing that someone else believes in the power and joy that NFP can open doors to helps us in our efforts to keep promoting NFP where it might not be as generously accepted.

First off, as a Couple to Couple League teaching couple in training, I have to promote CCL and their website. On the website you can find what type of NFP they promote, Sympto-Thermal Method, a little bit about the method, and why they teach it. The website also deconstructs some myths about NFP, gives reasons to use NFP as opposed to contraceptives, and includes testimonials from couples who use NFP for a variety of reasons. is where I first learned more about NFP and how Ben and I enrolled in classes so we could apply it to our lives.

Since contraception is considered a grave sin in the Catholic Church, NFP is the obvious choice if you are avoiding a pregnancy, and it 100 percent supported by the Church. As such, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has some good information on their site. It is a very comprehensive list of all the Church documents and scripture that supports the teaching against contraception. Think of the documents as really intense sermons. There are even some MP3s if you don’t feel like reading. And if you are just dying for more, there is also a list of current medical research on the topic of contraception and NFP.

NFP and Me is a blog written by Katie, a young, married, medical student. It was also one of the first places online I found that helped support my decision to switch from contraceptives to NFP. I’m happy to say she didn’t stop there. There is now a Facebook page and a brand new website (literally a few days old) called IuseNFP. The website is designed to be a comprehensive and fun site. It is non-religious and promotes knowing your body, respect of all life, and strong families. I’m so excited this is out there and highly recommend you check it out today and in the future as it will be growing.

Another brand new site (they are popping out of the woodwork! Wonder why…) is This site was created to encourage married couples to discontinue contraceptives and to take up NFP. Again this site is not religiously affiliated and has some of the coolest graphics. They encourage visitors to spread these graphics as a way of promoting NFP, but they are just downright, cool art as well. So if you like it, print it, pin it, and promote it.

Living the Sacrament, A Catholic NFP Community has both a website and Facebook page (but really, who doesn’t nowadays). It was created in 2010 by women who felt there needed to be a Catholic NFP Support Forum. Since that time they have been answering questions about NFP and life as a wife, mother, or human being in general. They have some pretty good links to the various types of NFP methods as well, so check those out.

So those are just a few of the sites out there that help promote NFP through education and community building. I hope you’ll take the time to browse them, comment, and expand your own knowledge base concerning NFP. I know I did thanks to each of these sites, and I truly appreciate all the hard work and continual effort it takes to maintain them and keep positive. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Light Switch Dance

God said, "Let there be Light," but My Husband said, "&*$%!"

I'd like to think that my husband and I were rational adults who purchased a house after scouring the web for information and fully examining every square inch with our home inspector. I'd like to think that, but the longer we live here, the more I ask my husband, "Why didn't we see that when we were purchasing this place?" The lights would be one of those things I missed when all I saw was a prime HGTV episode being lived out by mwah!

Our home was built in 1985; so it's older than I am, and if I'm already thinking about trading in my knees of new ones, I can't really expect this house to be in much better shape. That being said, I think whoever ran the wiring in this house needs a new profession!!! Each time we have a new guest, my husband has to preform the light-switch dance.

Step One: Flip the far-most-left switch up.
Step Two: Walk to other side of dining room.
Step Three: Flip right switch to dim.
Step Four: Walk back to other side of room to turn light off.
Repeat in living room and bedroom.

We've lived in this home for several months now, and we still usually have to hit one or two switches before the gaining the desired result.
Nasty, dirty, lightless ceiling fan in bedroom.
The light switches were not our only problem. There were literally no lights in some rooms; our bedroom being one of those rooms, and yet there are FIVE light switches. We even tried plugging in a lamp to ALL the outlets hoping one of the switches was connected to them. Nope. Two of the five switches still have unknown results (I keep waiting for a neighbor to walk over and ask why we are always strobing our outside lights. So that's what that one does ...). Our living room also had two ceiling fans with no lights attached. There is a light in the entryway and two small ones over the fireplace, but no central light. No biggie; easy fix.
Gotta love the gold fixtures.
I have no idea how seven months escaped our notice in total darkness! The other day we were in a big-box home improvement store looking for a door, (but that's another story) and ended up leaving with three new ceiling fans, complete with lights. An hour later my husband was on a stool on top of plywood, on top of our ginormous, king bed frame putting up a ceiling fan with a million and one pieces. We should have waited to get a ladder and some strong friends to move the bed before attempting to put up the light, but we (OK, just me) couldn't! Three hours later (wish I was exaggerating), I performed a new light-switch dance. But this was not a happy dance, as the light did not turn on. The fan worked, but no light.

I think it's safe to say, I assumed that meant our house was broken, not the new light fixture. Two electricians and a bill proved me wrong. Luckily the home improvement store didn't make us take back all one million and one pieces. We brought the light portion of the fan back and swapped it for a new one.

My patience hadn't gotten any better in that week's time, so the husband stood on our bed about 30 minutes later and attempted three times to reattach the light. It was very heavy fully assembled with glass lamp shades. By the third time, my very well-tempered husband was biting back what he really felt about this light, and I was attempting to help (You can do, honey! You are so awesome! Come on, I really want this thing working! I mean, it can wait until tomorrow.). He persevered, attached the light, and it works! I'm just happy the electricians put up the other two!
The light turns on, too!

I would show you the whole room, but it's a mess!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why NFP? It's Organic!

Why NFP? It's Organic!

So about a year ago my mom started learning a lot about eating organic foods and using all natural products. Her interest eventually seeped into conversations with me on the other line, and I started to get on the bandwagon.

I’m personally rather attached to my boxed foods with expiration dates that seem likely to never arrive, but she had some good points. Some of the statistics she was throwing my way and the side effects of these chemicals made my stomach turn (or maybe that was the spray cheese from a can).
I had a lot of comebacks though (Oh Snap!). “But isn’t it really expensive to eat organic?” “Haven’t people been eating this stuff for years, and they seem fine?”

All of her responses left me without clever retorts. “Eating organic might be more expensive right now, but it could save you on medical bills down the road.” She also linked certain chemicals in popular use in everyday foods and a corresponding rise in several illnesses. Needless to say, I starting picking up foods (and not all of them boxed J) that said organic or at least all natural with the USDA stamp.

It was around that same time that I started to learn about the Catholic Church’s teaching on birth control. (I’ll save that post for another time.) The reasoning for the Church’s stand on birth control was beautiful to say the least, but I wanted to know if there were any secular reasons to not use birth control. Boy was I shocked to find that I would have been looking for NFP even if I weren’t remotely religious. Let me take you through some of what I found. We’ll start small.

Some of the side effects of the pill:
  •          Menstrual difficulties (breakthrough bleeding, menstrual irregularities, abnormal uterine bleeding)
  • ·      Weight gain
  • ·      Depression/mood changes
  • ·      Decreased sex drive (this could be very serious to some ;))
  • ·      Headache/migraine
  • ·      Breast pain/tenderness
  • ·      Fatigue
  • ·      Irritability
  • ·      Nausea/vomiting

These side effects vary from person to person and are triggered or worsened by various other activities like smoking. I can personally, after 10 years on the pill, attest to several of these side effects that I eventually just thought were normal me. In fact I was worried about discontinuing the pill mostly because I was afraid of who I would be without the hormones each day. I was positive my hormones would be all out of wack and my mood swings would have my new husband second guessing “I do.” Come to find out I was harder to live with on the pill than off!! My moods have never been so steady and normal! The list goes on, but perhaps best for another post.

More serious side effects of the pill:
  • ·      Bone density loss
  • ·      Heart disease
  • ·      Delayed return of fertility
  • ·      Increased risk of breast cancer and other estrogen- or progestin-sensitive cancers
  • ·       Adrenal insufficiency (doesn’t allow the adrenal glands to produce the chemicals necessary for certain organ function)
  • ·       Arterial and venous thrombotic disease (fancy talk for blood clots)
  • ·       Live tumors
  • ·       Liver disease
  • ·      Renal impairment (aka kidney failure)

These facts (both lists) were taken from “Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention” (1995) and Yaz’s (a brand of the pill) warning label. Both lists are very serious reasons to consider using an alternative form of family planning. If you purchase foods that don’t have certain chemicals in them to protect your body, why would you pop a pill that would negate those efforts? There are ways to avoid a pregnancy (that yes take some self control, but so does not eating spray cheese) that are good for your body today and in the future. I hope you’ll consider it if you haven’t already.

Special thanks to the women at IuseNFP for making the stickers included in this post. Like their Facebook page if you are interested. One is a medical student :)

Friday, July 13, 2012



A while back I was in a car accident that significantly weakened my back. Laundry happens to be an even more unpleasant experience than usual when my back is feeling tired, so we decided to do something about that.
When we purchased the home, the washer and dryer were not part of the package deal. Luckily we purchased the home around Thanksgiving and found a great Black Friday deal on a beauty of a pair! I wanted red, but they only had the washer in red. (I wasn't feeling the candy-cane theme.) I love my boring white ones regardless, but they are front loaders. When we were looking at purchasing them, our sales agent suggested we purchase the stands they sit on so I wouldn't have to bend down as far to load and unload a million loads of laundry. I was all for it until they told us they cost $225 ... each! And that was the sale price. We were already shelling out a pretty penny for the luxury of doing our laundry in our home. I couldn't see myself handing over another $450 so I could do it standing a little straighter.

But remember, I'm married to an engineer. He solved my problem, and I'll show you how.
This is our "before" laundry closet.
First we took everything out, even about 12 inches of dry wall. I have to say I was a little skeptical about this plan at first. You can see the hack job one of the previous owners did a little higher up when they tried to move the water hoses and decided better of it. However, behind the drywall we found some early-stage mold issues so we luckily took the time to patch everything up and waterproof it. (Water + Florida = Mold) In order to get a level line all the way around we set up a laser level. It made fast, easy work of getting it just right (we only had one shot at that). 

Next, Ben created a platform and hooked it into the wall.

Pretty nifty, huh? But would it be strong enough to hold the laundry machines?

It's blurry because my sister and I are having a dance party on it. We deemed it strong enough shortly after.

The next step was to put up quarter round along the edges and then to paint. I decided the laundry room (ok closet) would be a good place to have a little fun with the paint. I decided on a bright teal. The paint is the inspiration for this blog post's title. If I had to pick out a paint color based on a name, I don't think this one would have made the cut. Magical oasis ... what every laundry room (ok closet) should be.
Next I cleaned and painted the old shelves that were originally in the closet and put them back up, but this time a little farther apart so there was an even amount of space on all sides. Then we added a new light, which I LOVE!

Finally it was time to see if our dance party was correct in assessing the strength of our newly engineered and constructed platform. (Disclaimer: I do not suggest that an actual dance party be used to test the strength of anything! I'm married to an engineer who went to college to design stuff. If you don't have a degree to do that, I'd suggest getting a professional opinion on the matter.)

Prettier photo of it created by my sister at I love it! I can now do laundry standing upright, under the glow of our new light or the lamp my hubby got for me, and with smiling faces in the shelves above. I can even reach the shelves now thanks to the platform. Maybe it is a magical oasis?!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Human Weakness is No Excuse

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me: wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you…” – Psalm 139: 13-15

One of the arguments I hear most when people are trying to find reasons not to use natural family planning (NFP) is human weakness. What little faith they have in the most incredible thing on the planet.

Examples of what I’ve heard:
“You can’t honestly rely on the everyday person to abstain from sex.”
“It seems to be working for you. Unfortunately not all women are as devout and strong willed as you seem to be.”
“The less strong and less faithful women are just forced to get pregnant and have an unwanted child.” (Riiiight because someone is forcing them to have sex…)
“Human willpower cannot be depended on to fix anything.”

I’ll admit that my faith does fortify me in doing what I believe to be right. There is no better tool or shield. However, regardless of your faith, a human is capable of extraordinary feats, and yes, abstaining from sex for a few days each cycle is one possible example.
So where did this idea that “human beings will fail if high expectations are set” come from? Haven’t we gone to the moon with a computer less powerful than a smartphone? Haven’t we found ways of performing life-saving surgery with barely the indication of an incision? Haven’t we spanned mountains and seas? The list could go on forever.
This mindset is disheartening for several reasons. The first is that several people gave me the “easy way out” because they thought my human frailty to be too great. On my page about My Story, I noted that I, or someone near me, directly asked experts on the subject matter, doctor and priest, whether birth control was morally/medically OK. Both times I was given an “easy” answer. Just take the pill. They saw a college-aged girl of this generation and underestimated me. “She won’t be able to commit.” Why don’t you let me decide that?
If you set the bar low, then people will only fall further if they fail. What’s the saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Seems appropriate.
I say do away with the bar altogether! Why not just give people the facts and let them decide what they are capable of? Why let doctors decide what you are capable of? I want options! I wish my doctor had said, “To treat your irregular cycles and pain, you can start taking vitamins, drinking more water, exercise regularly, and eat healthy, or there’s this pill you take once daily.” Sure the later sounds easier, but what if I wanted to make that decision? The doctor is who I rely on to tell me how to treat my ailments. They are the experts, but they aren’t the experts when it comes to what you and I are capable of.
I wish the priest in my story had told me what Church doctrine was on birth control instead of assuming I’d fail anyway. He is the expert on the subject, but again, not the expert on what you and I are capable of.

And ultimately what were these people shielding me from? I’m sure their intentions were good. They didn’t want to see me have an unwanted pregnancy or continued discomfort. But instead they set me up for mediocrity and potentially caused me more harm than good if I become susceptible to the many harmful and potentially life-threatening side effects of the pill. Also, how many people did I subsequently relay this same information to? I must have told several if not dozens of people what my doctor and priest told me. I was just continuing the cycle until friends of mine didn’t give me the “easy out.”
The human being is an amazing thing. I’ve always known that to some degree, but if there is one thing I’ve learned from NFP that I value more than anything else, it is a profound level of awe at what the human body is and what it is capable of (particularly when it is fertile and when it is not!). I also learned that it is designed beautifully, so much so that it is NOT in fact difficult to learn a form of NFP. After a little bit of learning and practice, it is ridiculously easy and I know my body. It’s incredibly liberating! If the doctor and priest truly knew that, they greatly underestimated me and every other person they spoke to! I won’t do the same thing, and hopefully you don’t underestimate yourself. You are capable of more amazing and good things than you know!

Friday, July 6, 2012

You Don't Have a Soul

"You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." - CS Lewis

July! That's the month before August. And August is our target month for being fully trained as NFP teachers through the Couple to Couple League. What was I thinking starting a blog during the thick of training! I must be crazy, but so far it's been fun. Prayers would be greatly appreciated regardless, however.
In an effort to get some information on our blog and to prepare ourselves for teaching a method of NFP, I've included two new tabs at the top of the page. One is a general "gist" of what NFP is. I was mortified during my research for this page to find that lumps NFP with the Rhythm Method and thus equates the effectiveness of the Rhythm Method with other methods of NFP. It is true that the Rhythm Method is one version of natural family planning, but let me assure you that there are much more effective methods for couples trying to achieve or hold off pregnancy that are both scientifically based and natural. To find out just how effective, take a moment to read the page. (I can't wait for you to go read it! It's 99.6 percent method effectiveness and 98.2 percent user effectiveness, but I will make you go read the page to find out the difference between the percentages.)
I also included a page about my personal story, and subsequently my husband's, as a birth control user of 10 years. I will hopefully get the chance to expand on that over the course of this blog, but I wanted to give readers my background on birth control. I understand what young women think about birth control from a variety of viewpoints because I've been in many of their shoes. I was all for it (obviously if I was addicted to it for 10 years), but I've broken the habit and couldn't be happier now that I know what my body is capable of. My bones and body are beautiful just the way they were created ... and so are yours.



My parents purchased a very large, wood coffee table back when I was in grade school. Needless to say after one or two dogs and three children, it was a bit loved. It soon made its way to the basement and remained there, getting shoved to various corners and rooms.
Shortly after we purchased our home, my husband and I made the trek to Illinois, where our families live, to visit for Christmas. When I spied the coffee table in the basement of my parents' home, I saw potential. It had good bones! My grin must have set alarms off in Ben's head because he immediately said, "No way." But being the engineer that he is, his mind immediately went to work sizing it up to see if it could make the trek back to Florida in the back of our truck. He couldn't help his oversized brain or my batting eyes.
My parents being eager to get rid of the oversized dust collector gave us their blessing to take it (if we could get it up the stairs, around the tight hallway corner, and into the truck bed).
Darn if we didn't manage that! We not only fit the coffee table, but also a load of tile (from my brick-layer father for a future project :)), rocking chair, suitcases, and other Christmas presents. We then wrapped it in a tarp and ducked tapped the whole package together. My parents dubbed our truck the Florida Hillbilly Mobile. They suggested I attach the rocking chair to the top and sit in it on my way back home.

My dad and I in front of the hillbilly mobile :)
We had to stop about three times on the way down to re-duck tape a few areas and get creative in a few others, but it made the continental journey! So here it is pre-refurbish.

So we went to work to sand the table down to its bones. Needless to say it took a while, but I'm so happy my husband was like a kid in a candy store and purchased every power tool he could convince me was necessary. I'm thoroughly convinced we made the right decision after spending the afternoon sanding this beauty.

Wearing my fancy orange eyewear this time. Should have done that to begin with.

Ben didn't let me have all the fun of course. 

Side note: Notice the kayak on the ceiling??? That is the work of my rocket scientist (literally) husband. He tried to explain to me how the pulley system would work pre-rigging, but I told him I trusted him (and secretly said a prayer to God that it wouldn't come crashing down on him!). He managed it somehow and it's been secure on the ceiling ever since! What a space saver! Maybe I'll make him write a post about it. 

Back on track: After the sanding we blew all the dust off with an air compressor (another must-have on the hubby's list of must-haves) and cleaned the garage as best we could prior to staining. We spent hours staining and when we finished ... we HATED it! It was all streaky, uneven, and bumpy, lumpy in areas. It looked awful, and I was about to despair when Ben spent the next few evenings resanding our newly stained coffee table. He really is the best! 

The second round of staining was done with a brush instead of a rag. HIGHLY suggest using a brush when you want a nice, even coat. We also used the two-in-one stain that has both the color and the polyurethane, saving you a step (or preventing you from screwing up one of the steps). When it was finished, it looked amazing!

The coffee table fit perfectly with our new couch and inspired some of the wood grains in the frames I hung on the wall. The frames are an ongoing project that will be added to over time. Should result in a wall full of memories! Right now we have our coffee table, which is also full of childhood memories and ready to be instilled with new ones in our new home.