Monday, April 14, 2014

Checking in and two recipes

Accountability partners!

How is it going?!  So far, so good for me and I hope you're finding success in your hard work, as well.  I'm down in poundage and up in spirits!

My number one weapon in this endeavor is my ultimate accountability partner and support system, my loving husband.  He listens to me rail on about the next recipe I want to try, how many grams of lettuce I've eaten in twenty-four hours, and how much I'm loving feeling so empowered in these last few weeks.  He's the best.

I know, puke. But God blessed me; what can I say?

Two cool things I'm trying today (the school system where I usually volunteer has spring break this week and I'm just about done with my homework...hence: free time): Roasted Chipotle Chickpeas and Kidney Bean Relish

Roasted Chipotle Chickpeas

1 cup of dry chickpeas
eyeball a few drops of EVOO
A few dashes of Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle seasoning

Soak the chickpeas in water over night, covering the dry beans with at least two inches of water.  By morning, they will expand quite a bit.

Cook the chickpeas in a saucepan for at least 20 minutes at a boil (I'm an estimator when it comes to cooking).  Stir them and know that they're done when you try one and it tastes edible and not too crunchy/chalky. Drain.

Stir in a few drops of EVOO, enough to get them "wet," and throw in enough Mrs. Dash to make sure each chickpea has some on it.  I like spice, so I was generous.

Spread it out on a cookie tin and broil it in the oven (or toaster oven, as I did) for about twenty minutes.  You want them to be crunchy, as these are your salty-craving squasher! And they are good for you! Yay, legumes!

Nutrition info (calculated on MyFitnessPal):
4 servings of about 1/6 cup (ha, obscure enough?) each (19 g, .68 oz)

62 calories per serving
Fat: 1.9 g
Sodium: 5 mg
Potassium: 157.5 mg
Carbs: 10.5 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 2 g
Protein: 3.5 g

Kidney Bean Relish

1 cup dry kidney beans
3 stalks of celery
1/4 white onion
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
spices to taste

(A lot of this is repeat. Pete and Repeat get in a boat, Pete falls out...)

Soak the kidney beans in water over night, covering the dry beans with at least two inches of water.  By morning, they will expand quite a bit.

Cook the kidney beans in a saucepan for at least 20 minutes at a boil (I'm an estimator when it comes to cooking).  Stir them and know that they're done when you try one and it tastes edible and not too crunchy/chalky. Drain.

Cook the corn as directed on the package.  In the meantime, dice up the celery and onion into little pieces.  Picture putting this relish on your salad, chicken, or rice (maybe?) and picture what size of veggies you would want to scoop up with your fork.  That's how small they should be (again, I'm an estimator, married to an engineer).

Pour all ingredients (beans and corn at room temperature) into a bowl, mixing the apple cider vinegar and spice (to taste) in with the lot.  If you have a container with a top or you want to put this mixture in a zipper bag, do so, because this is a great, healthy alternative to dressing on your salad that should last all week.  I think it would also be good as an alternative to chili on a sausage or hot dog in the summer.  I also think this could be tasty with some sauerkraut mixed in.

It's a clean, refreshing, crunchy addition to the day!

Nutrition info (calculated on MyFitnessPal):
10 servings, 63 g each

38 calories per serving
Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 11.7 mg
Potassium: 132.1 mg
Carbs: 7.6 g
Fiber: 1.1 g
Sugars: 0.7 g
Protein: 1.9 g

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

My View - Cathedral of the Sacred Heart




My husband and I had the opportunity to be at the deaconate ordination of a friend of ours at the Richmond Diocese's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.  The Mass was beautiful and it was transcending to watch a faithful guy I've known since childhood receive Holy Orders, one year before he (God willing) becomes a priest.  Sitting in this beautiful cathedral, I'm also reminded that I will soon sit in these pews again to watch two other friends enter the Sacrament of Matrimony!

Visit Julie at The Corner with a View for more "My View" posts!
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Feed

He turned and looked at me after I poked him a few times.  What he saw was a sheepish grin, determined and begging.

"What?" he said.
"I think it's Snack Time," I responded.
"What? We just ate dinner! We have a run tomorrow," he said, jokingly (I presume), knowing that it was, in fact, Snack Time. Of Course.
Snack Time

One of those bits of insight people tend to give out to brides and grooms to be is about the married people version of the Freshman Fifteen that seems to be inevitable.  I was only slightly worried about it, because I knew I was already in the habit of working out regularly and my steadfast, runner husband was far away from giving up his endorphin habit.  We had been and still are running buddies (Thank you, God).

Unfortunately, a few of those pounds snuck up on me during those PJ-movie nights and multiple trips up to the snack cabinet.  When the above interaction occurred a few weeks ago, we were sitting in our living room with two good friends visiting town, who witnessed my overexcitement about a snack I really didn't need.

I realized this after some reflection (as trivial as the subject sounds) in Adoration.  Along with some other aspects of my life that are governed by a similar compulsion, I saw this silly interaction for what it was: an example of unthinking ungratefulness for what I can access.

We spend Lent fasting, almsgiving, and praying, yet I need to apply this to my daily life outside of Lent, as well.  The sacrifices we make to improve ourselves can pay off in confidence, joy, and a clearer perception of our relationship with God, so long as week keep giving Him the credit for our Earthly success.

I decided to refocus on how I can glorify God through my body.  Putting it in a blogpost is a step in the motivation direction, y'all.  Accountability partners, anyone?
My 10k bib from this weekend, pre-rainy-race.

Goals:

  1. Cut time off of my running personal records.  I've worked so hard in the last several years at improving my times that I see now that the next step is to carry around less baggage and to recommit to running.
  2. Reduce my sugar intake.  I have a history of diabetes in my family.  I need to start thinking about what I'm making my pancreas perform on a daily basis.  My sugar addiction has not been kind to it.
  3. Avoid the binges.  But if they happen, to go to my support sources (Christ, my husband, my family, my friends) and revamp.
  4. Track everything in MyFitnessPal. For real.
  5. Replaces as many starches as possible with veggies or legumes.  Potatoes, rice, pasta, {and cookies} are a sometimes food.  I want to concentrate on knowing, "How is this food fueling my body?"
  6. Cheats are okay, but I want to go at least five days without a real cheat.
  7. Try to get as close to a 12 hour fast as possible.  Considering I eat breakfast as early as 6:00 am some mornings and can't get dinner until 7:30, this is not going to happen on many days.  The cut off time for "snacking" is 8:00 pm.
  8. Enjoy my life :)


Sidebar: I contacted the lovely Liesl of The Spiritual Workout Blog about whether or not she thought posting about this would be lame/vain/self-serving.  If it is any of those things, please forgive me.  I think refocusing on this daily need (fuel and thoughtful assessment of that fuel) is going to feed (pun intended) into my growing spiritual life.

What I know about myself:

  • I'm valuable because I'm a daughter of God and a sister in Christ.  This isn't going to change that.
  • Feeling accomplished through hard work puts me in a confident mood. This makes it easier for me to interact with and be friendly with others.  Being more friendly and joyful with others means more people who might hear/see the Gospel.
  • Slip-ups tend to make me feel discouraged. Which is why I'm so fortunate for my next point...
  • I have an extremely supportive husband.
  • I'm not terribly unhealthy or heavy now, but my habits with sugar could become dangers to my future health. I want to establish good practices with my relationship with food and my body before I have children.
  • I'm an athlete and I thrive on competition. This is a competition with my alternative choices.
  • I have a sugar addiction and a family history of diabetes.
This is not a cold turkey, GET HEALTHY RIGHT NOW process, it should be known. There are already a lot of key steps I have taken in the last few years.

My current habits:

  • Working out (running on the treadmill) 4 to 5 times per week and logging those miles on RunningAhead.
  • Tracking my food on MyFitnessPal on and off since November.
  • Measuring my food (literally pulling out the measuring cups, tablespoons, or digital scale), knowing the nutritional information for a lot of the foods I eat regularly.
  • I gave up fried food and soda in 2012.  The vast majority of my meals come from home (not restaurants) and are simple foods.  I also tend to order soup or salad when I go to a restaurant (because making salads can be a pain in the patooty and if someone else will make it for me, I's gunna eats it).
  • No artificial sweetener...as of two weeks ago. Not even in my coffee (cream only in this addict's cup). This was a drastic switch after learning about our body's reaction to sweetener.  The nutshell understanding is: our body craves sugar and when you give it sweetener, it isn't fooled, though it thanksyouverymuch for the flavor.  It increases your sugar craving to drive home the point, "YOU CAN'T FOOL ME! GIVE ME THE SWEET STUFF."
Though weight loss is not my primary goal (mostly because I know if this is strictly about weight loss, I'm not going to succeed), switching out starches with plants has already had an impact.  I would love some advice from those who succeed in meditating on Christ in prayer during their workouts, because this is lacking from my routine.

Again, I ask, accountability partners, y'all?

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Elation Hibernation

The sun is coming out, the air is beginning to warm, birds talk to each other between the budding trees.

Hello, again.

Lately I have joked with a few friends and family members about what I call the Elation Hibernation.  Since getting married last spring, I have been fully aware of (and basking in) the Elation Hibernation I have been enjoying with my new husband.  It has been a necessary step in our relationship and in our vocation.

You can find a million places and people around the world who will give you their version of what the first year of marriage looks like.  My husband and I have gotten a continuum of responses, from "If you can make it through the first year, you'll be together forever," to "The first year is the honeymoon stage; just wait."  Boo, I say, to ye negative ninnies!
Hey bear, time to get up!
Image courtesy of Toa55 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Married life has gotten better and better everyday of this, our first year.  I love him more now than I did when I first realized I was falling for him, than I did when he surprised me by kneeling with my ring in hand, and than I did when I looked at him as if he was the only one in the room while I vowed to be his wife forever.  I have also spent more time with him than any human being on the planet since I was a baby attached at the hip to my mother for those first few months.

We have become expert chefs (in a few dishes), fit runners (well, he was already a ridiculous runner), committed workers (on both our marital choices and employment), movie-cuddlers, and explorers into each other's minds and habits.

I'm blessed with parents and parents-in-law who understand that my husband and I needed to learn about who we are as a family.  They generally wait for us to contact them, which, unlike has been my lifelong habit, means I don't talk to my family for days sometimes.  We are learning about our autonomy. It's a whole new step in the direction of adulthood (am I there yet?) that I didn't see coming.

Warning: ignoring the fact that you're hibernating can alienate you from the outside world.  I became aware of it (though I still delighted in our PJ and movie-watching evenings) and came up for air in the form of reconnecting with good friends.  I'm so grateful to have these friend and family who show us, every time we see them, that they understand with their outstretched arms and interest in our lives.

The next step, as any good sitcom will teach you, is to find great couple friends. We're blessed to have several already and we're working to spread the joy.  God has blessed our marriage with so much Grace that we've both grown in our relationship with Him through our covenant with each other.

Honestly, part of me feels like summarizing with "Sorry I'm not sorry," though I know I could be much more successful at reaching out to others, like we are called to do.  As soon as spring shows up, so will I :) In the meantime, pass the Netflix.

I'd love to hear from the married folks, dating folks, engaged folks, and single folks on this phenomenon.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Saint Claimed Me

January Prompt: Saints: Picking Them, Picking Us

Check out The Bright Maidens over at the Facebook Page! 


"I picked her and I literally have zero in common with her, except our names. And mine has an E," I told my husband less than a month ago, condescendingly patting my 17-year-old self on the head for my shallow reasons in picking my confirmation saint.

Image borrowed from this video
I went on to describe her life:
  • Lived her childhood through the Revolutionary War
  • Husband's formerly healthy business went underwater
  • Husband died of tuberculosis after suffering through the disease for most of their marriage
  • Family disowned her when she converted
  • Raised five children alone
  • She looks ridiculously depressed in virtually every rendering
  • Eventually started the Sisters of Charity and helped found the current Catholic education system
My saint always depressed me, but what choice did I have? We had the same name, it was easy.

The first image that pops into my head is from a documentary I watched on her at some point in my life. She's in a dark room, kneeling at her husband's bedside, weeping as he passes away. Phew.

My shelf holds at least five books about her, though I knew I'd rather not share her trials. I held her at an arm's length, hoping to avoid more commonalities in my lifetime.

It took a wicked norovirus striking my married household and a PBS video to V8 smack me: She picked me!

Yes, people say that all of the time and I must admit that I've never had a strong dedication to one saint over another. I hardly tap that resource, aside from my constant pleadings for Mary's prayers. I'll blame myself for not seeking ways to answer non-Catholics' digging questions about our relationships with the saints -- instead of having to figure out how to appease the hatahz, I avoided exploring it at all.

Well, I was sitting on the edge of my marriage bed, trying to comfort my ailing husband as he suffered from a ridiculous bug and BOOM. That image of the first American-born saint with her tuberculosis-stricken husband rushed to mind.
I mean, she looks like a ball of fun. Source.

A few days later, I was in class, watching a video about the history of education in America when the era of conception of the Catholic school system played out in front of my eyes. A product of a Catholic high school, it never occurred to me why there would be a Catholic school system, except the obvious: parents wanted their kids to learn Catholic-ness in school.

No, it was because the only free schools for immigrant, Irish (and Italian, Polish, German, etc) children were unabashedly racist against those from the Emerald Isle and extremely anti-Catholic. This is why it's such a big deal that my saint is the patron of Catholic schools: immigrants who wanted their children to learn the faith despite poverty and sincere anti-Catholicism.

She sought me out. I have basically ignored her my entire life as books of her life sat on my shelf, so you can hold onto your arguments of the power of suggestion. She has been far out of my mind for years.

As a recently married grad student currently earning my masters in teaching elementary education and English Language Learners, I'm grateful to finally acknowledge one of the great ladies who has been praying for me throughout my life.
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Phew!


A lot has happened since I last wrote on the blog. There was a spirited "discussion" with someone I know in real life on my last blog post (which, like all "discussions" on the topic of marriage have been in the last several months, was really more about two people pretending they "just want to talk about this," but were really trying to unmask the stupidity of the other person's position), I finished my first year of grad school, I MARRIED MY BEST FRIEND, went on our honeymoon, moved into a new-to-me home, and began a summer class (and a new blog - what am I doing to myself?!).

As I make decisions about the direction into which I want to take this blog, I'll pause for one of my number one summertime struggles (oh yeah, first world problem). What should I read?!

Lauren from The Loveliest Hour (and the creative brain behind the Bright Maidens' new blog layout...which we have failed to fill) has a list of 12 Refreshing Reads for Summertime. Go check it out!
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Buttons

This will be my last post on same-sex marriage and same-sex parenthood for a while. It will be harder to assert that this is not my number one issue if I keep writing about it, but I thought double-dipping posts by sharing papers I had to write for class fit right into my busy schedule!

Here was my most recent assignment description:

You will be given a button that says “Support Gay Rights.” You decide whether you will wear the button or not, it is up to you. Regardless, you will write a one page paper describing your decision of whether or not to wear the button and how that affected you. How did people react to the button? Were there some times that you felt more comfortable wearing the button? What does this say about how gay people may feel? Reflect on what the button means to you. If you do not know what “Gay Rights” are, how can you find out?

Notice how they pointed out that "gay rights," as they have defined it, are factual, definable rights that I could go look up somewhere rather than showing openness for discussion.

And my reflection:

The button, minus the
"Support Gay Rights" caption
I chose not to wear the button. To prevent myself from forgetting to return the button, I never actually took one to begin with.

This issue is divisive on a number of levels, as our conversations and the film we watched have shown. The film focused on the idea that those who oppose changing the definition of marriage to include same sex marriage get their arguments from the Bible.

I’m here to object to that stereotype, as I have reasons beyond the ones proposed in the film that oppose gay marriage and the adoption of children that often follows. As someone who will be married in about a month, I will point out that I don’t consider marriage a “right” or something that I’m entitled to just because I’m in love with someone of the opposite sex.

Marriage is a foundational building block of our society, as well as virtually every society (non-Judeo-Christian and Judeo-Christian, alike) that has formed in our world. Men and women exist on this Earth as counterpart human beings, not just because of their sexual organs and typical attraction to each other, but because of their biological attributes that complement each other. True, one reason that marriage exists and that the government recognizes it with so many tax and other benefits, is because most marriage unions result in bringing children into the world and into our society.

“Homosexual relationships do nothing to serve the state interest of propagating society, so there is no reason to grant them the costly benefits of marriage,” wrote atheist Adam Kolasinksi. My fellow students may argue that lesbian unions can result in children through artificial insemination. Not only do I believe that removes the beauty of what sex was intended to be from the act of creating a child, but the argument fails to address the fact that we have seen ample evidence to support the need for both a male and female parental unit (anecdotally, David Popenoe's Life Without Father presents a clear message on this topic).

I wish someone would answer the question why free birth control and increased access to abortion are so often supported with the argument that they aim to prevent the increase in single parent homes. There is so much research to support the benefit of a two-parent, dual gender role home in the context of the alternative of a single parent home, but the same doesn’t apply when the topic of same sex marriage and same sex adoption arises.

This is the most comprehensive study to date on the subject of same sex parenthood. It clearly shows that adults 18-39 who grew up in same-sex parent homes have an increased likelihood of smoking, getting arrested, pleading guilty, being on public assistance, being unemployed, to have recently thought about suicide (and many other things), and are less likely to have perceived themselves safe or secure as a child than those who were raised in an "intact" traditional mother-father parent family. 

From the above-linked study
There is probably a greater percentage of people who support same-sex marriage separately from same-sex parenthood and who may even oppose same-sex parenthood for the aforementioned reasons. However, I would pose the question about why that is. Why oppose same-sex parenthood for one reason, but support the institution of marriage to extend to include the very relationship you condone as less than healthy for children?

It’s a rich issue that is open to a lot of discussion, albeit unfortunately divisive discussion. The only “reaction” I can report is that which I faced when I shared with my shoulder partners in class about why I would not wear the pin.

I understand that this is the currently popular position and that my fellow classmates hear the word “rights” and throw their hands up in salute so as not to stand in someone else’s way of social justice. However, I argue that the “right” to marry not only does not extend to same sex couples, but also to three people who want to get married to each other.
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Multicultural Education

This was the week. I've been praying in anticipation for my multicultural education class this week, knowing that the topic would be "heterosexism." This really isn't my number one concern for our world, but I knew I would be in the minority on this issue and didn't want to neglect my call to it.

In preparation for this week, the professors gave everyone a circle pin that says "Support Gay Rights," asking us to make our own choice about whether or not to wear it for two weeks. There is a reflection assignment due at the end of the semester reviewing our choice. No discussion, just "will they or won't they?"

I prayed that I could open up my heart to be the Holy Spirit's instrument and that I would be able to communicate Love for person, while still speaking the Truth. I knew this would probably alienate me from most of my classmates.

We have to write a reflection paper at the end of every session of "Multicultural Education." This was mine:

This debate is demeaning Love down to this.
As is my habit, I think I made my views somewhat clear last night. The risk with having views such as mine, especially after the entire class watched that film ["For the Bible Tells Me So"], is that voicing them falls on ears that already have opinions about me as an Other. I wish the button experiment was a discussion rather than an assumption that choosing not to wear the button means one is a bigot or a religious nut. I make a very conscious choice never to use “gay” as a derogatory or to refer to people with same sex attraction as an Other. People with same sex attraction face a lot more struggles than I can comprehend and just like other people who face struggles I don’t fully understand, they deserve my respect and compassion. This issue truly isn’t my number one concern, but I think it influences a lot of other parts of our society that concern me (ie, adoption of children by gay couples intentionally removes a parental role from the family). I understand that I am in a shrinking minority, but the message that I kept hearing last night (“Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get one.”) is an unfair one that undermines and silences discussion.

I appreciate that the film included parents who discovered that they needed to have compassion and Love for their children. I also understand that this played well into the “Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get one” stance. However, I agree with the African-American mother when she said that she realized that her thoughts and fears about her daughter’s sexuality centered mainly around her having sex.* Her daughter is still her daughter, no matter to whom she is attracted, and she needed to remember that. This is an important thing to remember for every “Otherism,” including the otherism the movie displayed against their icon for “Christians who stand against ‘gay rights.’” We all struggle with our own burdens and understandings of our world. I don’t subscribe to the idea that the world is void of a Universal Truth, but I recognize that we’re all searching for it, even if that is subconsciously.

*This link will bring you to the part of the movie I mentioned above. Note: I don't 100% agree with her approach, but she made a good point that can help those of us who forget to Love all people.
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