Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Splintering the spindles and throwing them in the garbage pile was some of the best therapy after stressing that we’d never get this house to look how I imagined it could look. Once they were down I was ready to continue. Unfortunately our weekend had drawn to a close.

Weekends feel like the only time available to get any of our big projects done. After working all day, most people don’t always jump at the chance to come home and tear off wallpaper. I’m not most people. Every night for over a week I came home and spent the better part of the evening tearing off little pieces of nasty, dirty, 27-year-old wallpaper from the walls of our formal dining room. How do I know it was 27 years old? Well if the solid layer of dirt didn’t give any indication it was the fact that there was only drywall underneath. No paint. No prior wallpaper remnants. What I’d like to know was how long this was there.


And what does 27 years of dirt look like? Remove border to find out.

Double eww.

As with most things lately, my first step before taking down the wallpaper was to comb Pinterest for ideas on how best to take down wallpaper (sometimes I seriously wish Pinterest had existed when I was planning my wedding. Most of the time I thank God it didn’t). Most of what I found/was told was to use a concoction of water and fabric softener to prime the wallpaper. We also borrowed one of those perforators and a scraper from a friend of ours.

After getting all my supplies together, I went to town on the first panel of wallpaper. Well if you call tearing tiny, nasty, slippery pieces off for three hours straight “going to town” then that’s an accurate description. It was a nightmare.

I went back to the drawing (PInterest) board. A lot of people mentioned steaming as an effective means of removing wallpaper. I did not have the luxury of a steamer or the budget to purchase one. So I got creative. Have iron, will steam. Yep I steamed the whole room of wallpaper with my clothing iron. I also got an arm workout. 
It was really time intensive and lots of patience is required to remove wallpaper, but it was also so rewarding to see the room when it was all off the walls!

What you see me doing in the above picture is priming the walls. Since there was drywall under the wallpaper and no paint, we decided to prime the walls before painting them. We used a primer specifically made for drywall and it worked beautifully. It only took one coat of the final paint color because the primer was so effective. Primer was also about $10 cheaper than the paint used for the top coat, saving us money since we only had to buy one gallon to paint our 144 sq ft room.

Cover your floor if you don't want to be scraping up paint later. You will spill/splash/sprinkle I guarantee it!
Paint is up!
And you should be proud of me for using a color. I was thinking various shades of beige in every room, until I realized I was about to make it as drab as it had been with wallpaper. I love the green! 

That's all for now. Next time I'll fill you in on the ordeals of trim and filling in the holes in the wall where the spindles use to be.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Subordination or Bust?

Who do you think would be more interested in taking a class on natural family planning, a woman or a man?

I know what my answer would be, but then I would be wrong according to a recent study.

Population-based surveys in Missouri and Utah yielded:
·         About 25% of women are interested in NFP to avoid pregnancy.
·         About 33% interested in NFP to conceive.
·         About 40% of men were also interested in NFP.
·         Interest NOT associated with religion, education, age, or income.
Journal of Family Practice 1998: 46: 65-71.
Utah’s Health Annual Review 2003: 9:40-45.

I just thought this was so interesting because I just naturally assumed a woman would be more prone to want to learn more about their bodies rather than their husbands, boyfriends, or fiancés. It made me step back and consider why this might be, and I think I have one possible answer.

Last night we were at a Bible study (stay with me this isn’t going to get too religious), and we read Ephesians 5:21-33, the chapter with the verse that says basically, “Wives be subordinate to your husbands.” We discussed how too often we, as women, shut down after hearing the word subordinateMany women hate that verse in the Bible and it may even be one of the reasons they don’t subscribe to the faith. They never read the following six or seven verses that say women should be subordinate to their husbands only if their husband loves them like Christ loved the church. If you aren’t aware of the full story, Christ DIED for his Church! So ladies, wouldn’t you rather just be subordinate to your husband rather than have to die for your husband? My point is, however, that subordinate makes women feel lesser because of the connotations of the word in today’s world. A few centuries ago (ok even today in some parts of our world and country) subordinate wouldn’t have even caused a stir. It was normal. But today women are up in arms over the word because we are still fighting for our equal share of the world.

Like the word ‘subordinate’ has come to mean ‘lesser than,’ birth control has been paraded as women’s freedom, women’s tool for conquering subordination to man. But you need to read the next few verses so-to-speak.

Hormonal contraceptives are not empowering women. They are abusing women. They are restraining women. They are defeating women. The pill not only causes major health issues, both immediately and potentially over time, making us even weaker to our male counterparts, but also keeps us from knowing and understanding our own bodies. Knowledge is power. By forgoing the knowledge of what makes you a woman, your reproductive cycle, you are forgoing any of the power that knowledge could hold. By knowing and charting your cycles you can actually detect abnormalities early and correct them. By regulating your cycles naturally you not only become a functioning adult without added hormones, but you also are healthy and stronger.

It infuriates me when I hear that giving out free birth control is a means to empowering women. What a misconception! Why not give out free NFP classes so women can learn about their bodies? Why not require doctors to learn more about women’s anatomies and promote that learning instead of controlling and changing them with medications? (I have a friend, who is a doctor, who said he learned more about the female reproductive system in his two-hour NFP class than his entire medical training. That is an affront to women!) Why not give free home birth classes and resources? Why are we not giving women what will open their eyes to the awesomeness that makes them women instead of trying to make it disappear with a drug? I don’t know about you, but I’m a feminist because I believe women, as we are, have equal standing with men, not because I think women should become more like men.

So if your husband, boyfriend, fiancé is interested in NFP and learning more about it, maybe be subordinate to his will because he is trying to build you up! He is trying to give you the tools to be an even better WOMAN! Then you can work together, as an inseparable, equal unit, to decide how to plan your families.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Take a good look at this picture and see what you can deduce from it.

Yep, that's my hubby. He's standing in our formal dining room. He's holding a spindle from 1985. He's smiling. And he's in his swim trunks.

Sometimes my patience run out. So I was sitting in our dining room waiting for Ben to come out of the bedroom so we could hit the beach for some much needed fun in the sun. I was thinking about the beach and how I needed to grab the sunscreen out of the office, the ugly office that we need to paint,  but the wallpaper in this room is even uglier, and those spindles. BEENNN! I basically told him that if he didn't remove at least one spindle I would. He looked at me and said, "If I remove one spindle, that means we have to redo the whole dining room and the kitchen." The picture above should tell you what my answer was.


Our home was built in 1985, so I guess spindles were in. They're not in anymore. I hated these spindles more than any other 80s fixture in the house, even more than the sailboat wallpaper in our bathroom. So I think it's a credit to my patience to have waited 7 months before having one of my "sudden obsessions" as Ben calls them. 

I couldn't help it though. They had to go and they had to go right now. 

After Ben placated my "debilitating need" to remove at least one spindle I realized it was like removing a bandaid slowly. We needed to rip it off quickly and all at once. 

Ta Da! So much better right! Now it was time for the beach, but only the beginning of our dining room/kitchen reno. Stay tuned for more chapters to this newest project!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


One of my fears as my husband and I get closer and closer to teaching the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning through the Couple to Couple League is that I'll sound like the Peanuts' teacher.

I don't plan on actually making those noises per se (unless we get stage fright!), but I'm more worried that's all the students will hear when listening to us. I know that's about all I heard when someone tried to tell me about NFP for the first time during our pre-cana. Luckily it went something like:


At least I heard what I needed to for further down the road when I was ready to listen. So if you could pray that the students will have open minds during our preaching teaching, we'd really appreciate it (God too I think)!

The reason for my ramblings is because as of today our witness talk has been approved and our teaching materials are in the mail! We now enter the mentoring phase of our training to be certified teachers, which takes about six months, BUT we can teach during that time! So for all those anxious to sign up (stop beating down my door, please), we're in the process of confirming a time and location.

Though I joke about beating down my door, Ben and I have been pleasantly surprised at the response we've already had. We've only been yaking about it for four months while we've been training so I guess it finally wore a few people down. More than likely though God has readied their heart for the beauty of knowing their bodies more fully and finding a respect and admiration for their spouse that they didn't know was possible. Truly, I thought Ben might be overwhelmed by an ick factor when learning about all the phases of my body, but instead he's only respected and loved me more. Something I didn't know was possible. Such a good hubby. If you are single, I pray you find a spouse just like him and who's willing to talk about cervical mucus to boot!

Stay tuned for details on upcoming classes! And thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Operation EVEN STEP

The path on the side of our house runs from the garage to the patio off our dining room. However, if you were in our backyard and needed to get to the garage, I would have suggested you walk through the house. And if your shoes were covered in mud or worse, I would still have suggested a tour of the house rather than risk your neck on the path.

See what I mean! That thing was scary. And my husband and I were tempted to pretend we didn’t see it (for like 10 years), but one day I started picking up pine cones over there, and I couldn’t stop. I started cleaning up the leaves next, and eventually I started pulling up stones. Once I get started on something it’s hard for me to stop until it’s “perfect” or at least close to how I envision it.

Ben was a good sport about the project as well. He, like most of our projects, had to do most of the heavy lifting, and some of those stones were huge. We also went even further than just removing the pinecones, leaves, and stones. We ripped out all the nasty, rotting railroad ties that bordered the path as well. It was a very productive day … followed by four weeks of very unproductive days. Our back porch was a rock garden for the entirety of that time, but eventually we got back out there.

First we wanted to level out the path. Over the years roots had grown across the path. We considered removing them, but there was no way to do so. They were HUGE! We had no choice but to build the path up. We went to a big box store to get some sand, but it would have cost us $60 plus just for sand. We live 5 minutes from a beach, so I wasn’t about to pay that much. Luckily we didn’t have to go steal beach sand because Ben found a local place that filled the bed of his truck with sand for $10. Check your local businesses for similar deals.

Before we poured the sand, we laid a weed barrier fabric on the ground. They had three options of longevity: 10, 20, or 30 years. We went with 30 because I don’t feel like pulling those stones up any time soon to lay down more.

To keep the fabric in place we purchased some brick pavers as our new path liner. They don’t rot! We placed them on the edges of the fabric that we laid out to be the exact size of the path we wanted.

Next came the sand. We spread it out as best we could when it was dry, but had much better luck getting is smooth when it was wet. It didn’t feel pretty though. It was like muck and I was covered in sand from head to foot. I intended to use a trowel to smooth out the sand along the path, but like I so often do, I ditched the tool for my own two hands. Ben will vouch that I frequently give up on hand tools for things like putty, caulk, even sometimes paint, and just use the tools God gave me.

Next we laid the stone back on the path. It was like a huge puzzle with no right answer. Basically we laid the large stones first so they would be evenly distributed throughout, and then filled in the holes with the smaller ones.

Then it was time for more sand … yeah (said with forced enthusiasm)! We filled in the space between the stones almost completely with sand, but we left enough room to fill the final space with pebbles. In total the project was under $100, but definitely time and work intensive. 
If you'll notice there isn't a picture of the finished product. That's because we finished one hour before we went and adopted a puppy, who subsequently came home and destroyed our path. So if you are planning on getting a puppy, my suggestion would be to skip the outdoor projects for a while.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Feeding 5,000 Costs What?

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

Today is the day! We finish our NFP classes and await our final certification to teach NFP!

I was all excited about this until I read that today is the first day the Health and Human Services Mandate (which taxes everyone, including religious institutions but not churches, so that women might receive birth control, sterilizations, and abortions for free) takes effect. Way to rain on my parade. I have to say I got seriously depressed. I wasn’t sure what I could do to combat something on a national scale and so engrained in both our country and our world’s mindset. I want nothing more than for other people to find the joy in NFP that my husband and I have found. Honestly, I can’t think of something I want more because we’ve found peace in Christ and what His teachings have led us to in our lives. But how do I show people that? I was about to break down in tears in my office at work when I remembered something I heard at mass last Sunday.
Thanks to the ladies at IuseNFP.
The Gospel reading was the very well known story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. I’ve heard it a million times, and I reluctantly admit the homily usually falls on deaf ears when it comes to me. However, this Sunday my priest’s words resonated with me. He spoke about how Jesus took what little the boy had to offer (the bread and fish) and used it to feed 5,000. Now whether or not that was the actual number Jesus fed is beside the point. In biblical terms, 5,000 is a huge number. It would be like someone today saying, “I’ve heard it a million times” … oh wait. So Jesus fed thousands of people and there were still leftovers. How incredible!

Also, after doing a little of my own research on the Gospel story, I found something else out. Did you know that aside from the miracle of the resurrection, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is the only story that appears in all four Gospels (Matthew 14: 13-21, Mark 6: 31-44, Luke 9: 10-17, and John 6: 5-15)? The death and resurrection was basically the whole point of the entire Bible, and if that was the only other story that repeats in all four Gospels, then that must mean that the story I’ve heard a million times, was worth hearing that many times and more. It’s that important because Christ is telling us that if he can feed 5,000 with a little bread and fish while on Earth then He can do the same with anything else we have to offer.

I thought about what my husband and I have to offer, and it’s our time, our home, and our commitment to NFP. Our teaching NFP is one small way of helping spread God’s message about the beauty of the human body, life from conception to natural death, and the importance of relationships based in Christ.

I don’t have misguided preconceptions about having to rent out a hall in order to teach all the couples we have lined up about NFP. In fact I’m pretty sure we’ll be lucky if we get one couple at any given time, but I have faith that God will use us as His hands and feet. So, depression gone and an incredible sense of wonder and joy has replaced it! I’m so ready to start teaching!