Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Time For Romance

I have told ya'll about my dear friend Lauren, from It's Becker Style, several times.  She's awesome.  One of the many reasons I love her so much is because she spontaneously does things like this.  If you hop over to her blog, you will see that she has challenged her readers to a month of silent romance. 

What does this mean?

Every single day during the month of February, she wants us to find ways to show our husbands how much we love and appreciate them.  This could be anything from a note in his lunch to a 'night to remember'.  All of these things should be done without mention of this challenge.

So, I'm in!  Are you? 

If you decide to do it, let us know so we can trade ideas and encourage each other.  I hope this helps to make the most romantic month of the year memorable!    

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm Trusting You...

I have always had an innate understanding and trust in God's Will.  It is not something that I worked to develop, it has just always been there.  That faith has always brought me great comfort when I was up against something that was, humanly, very hard to understand. 

This trust has been under attack in the last few weeks.  As exciting as this move is, I am terrified!  I am scared about spending the money that we have worked so hard to save. I am scared to finally come to terms with the idea of homeschooling (I didn't say that out loud, ignore it).  I'm scared that I won't cut it when trying to be the mom I KNOW I'm called to be. 

The other day, after looking at the amount of closing costs/realtor fees needed for the selling and purchasing of these two homes, I about lost it.  As I rode in the car with P, I closed my eyes and prayed, "Lord, I don't want to do this.  I know we are supposed to, but I don't want to.  It's too hard."  With the most perfect clarity I got, "Trust me."  With that, I went to sleep (I think it was more of a body shutting itself down from stress kind of nap) and woke up with the most awkward peace.  I was still anxious, nervous, and emotional, but I had an authentic peace that if I just keep going, it will come together as it should.

My dad has always told me that at some point in life, I would have to risk it all.  I'd have to step up, shut my eyes, and just jump.  Well, I think this is it.  This is our game-changer.

I have trusted in God's Will for my life thus far, and they are right, His will always brings me the most fulfillment.  I suppose there is no reason to stop trusting now.  But for the record,

(Thanks for letting me say that!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Raining!

I have wanted rainboots for over a year!  On rainy days, everybody always looked so cute wearing their rain boots and skinny jeans.  Then there was me, dredging through, jeans wet to the knees. 

The thing is that I am a bargain shopper.  I refused to just go out and send $30-$60 on RUBBER RAINBOOTS.  Not happening.  One time, I saw them marked down on clearance for $12.99 at TJMaxx but for some reason didn't buy them...bad decision making clearly!

From that day on, $12.99 became my goal price.  Well, almost 9 months had passed, the rainy season almost over, and I was still soaking my jeans.


We were wasting time walking through a store and there sat ONE pair of rain boots about my size sitting on the clearance rack!  P told me to go look just to see if, by any slight chance, they were my size and price. 


Price: $9.99

Enter the happy dance!!!  I was SO EXCITED!  I had waited so long and FINALLY I was finally getting my rainboots!  WOOHOO!

So, today is the first rainy day since then and I am SO excited to be rocking my super cute, polka-dotted rainboots!  Who knew, something so simple could make me so excited...does that mean I need to get out more?

On another note, we are signing all of paper work to put our house up on the market today.  Scary scary!  I'm anxious to get a bunch of contractors into the new house to give us a final number of what we are looking at in renovations...I'm ready to get this thing started!  Definitely feeling the anxiety of the calm before the storm.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Nitty Gritty

There is a great swing on the front porch!  So great that Mini-C
refuses to get off of it without an absolute fit!
Now that I have gotten everybody excited about our new adventure, I wanted to tell you more about this house.  I will preface all of this by saying, decorating, colors, remodeling, etc, are NOT my thing.  If you have suggestions, let me know!

So, our lovely, new, enormously big house.  I never expected to buy a house in the 5000 sq ft range.  Neither of us did.  I grew up in a large home and since becoming a mom, I have learned that chasing children through a big house can be quite complicated.  So, when I first saw the square footage on this house, I was hesitant.  Then, when we went and saw it, I realized that it was wonderfully compartmentalized.  It is not huge open spaces, rather large specific spaces that I can keep under control.

The house is a forclosure so it's not in perfect condition.  In fact, it will need quite a bit of work upon closing but that was something we took into consideration with our offer.  We had it inspected before we even put in our first offer so we knew what we were getting into.  While the list is long (new roof, flooring, kitchen counters, sealing/staining the logs, etc) there are no structural issues.  In fact, the inspector, in his awesome country accent, referred to it as "a sturdy ol' gal."  haha.  How's that for comforting?

The land is AWESOME!  The home backs up to a ton of trees with a creek being our property line.  We also have an AMAZING rope swing tree in the front yard.  That will be one of our first things we do upon moving in. 
We don't close for another 60 days, so we have until March 25th to get all of our stuff in order.  While the purchase of that home doesn't depend on it, we will also be selling this house.  So, pray for my sanity as I organize all the necessities for a renovation and showings on this house with three kids all at the same time.  I'm a little worried. 

So, I am going to do my best and keeping ya'll up to date and keep the blog posts coming.  BUT, if I am not around, you know where I am...losing my mind! 

Stay tuned for this awesome adventure!  I can't wait to see whats next!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Under Contract!

My husband and I have a dream.

We have a dream where we can raise our kids to be self-sufficient, do it yourself, running through the grass barefoot, fun loving, 'old school' kids. 
We have a dream of having a few chickens, maybe some horses, a goat or two, and some dogs. 
We have a dream of teaching our kids real life and practical lessons that will not only help them pass their standardized tests but will also give them the confidence to go out and chase their dreams with enduring perseverance.
We have a dream that our kids will grow up as kids and not know about the chaos of the world around them until they are actually old enough to comprehend it.
We have a dream that our kids will care less about the TV and video games and more about going outside to play on the rope swing and treehouse.
We have a dream to raise our kids in such a way that responsibility is not something they do rather it's who they are.

We have this dream.

We've always known exactly what we were working towards but we were waiting to see how we got there.

Then, about 6 weeks ago, P sent me a random e-mail with a link.  I opened it and laughed.  It was of a foreclosure listing of a huge log house that looked like it was an old house sitting on the side of the road. 


Then, it just kept going.  He finally convinced me to go see it.  After that, I agreed to see the inside with a realtor.  With every step, I was expecting SOMETHING to scream


But, it never did.  The house is SO COOL.  It has almost 4700 sq ft, 5 bedrooms, and 4 1/2 bathrooms.  It's on 5.5 acres.  Despite it's look of utter discombobulation, it's bones are beyond sturdy.  With every meeting, inspection, and pre-qualification, the journey just kept moving.  And now, as of January 25, we are official 'Under Contract'. 

When our realtor called to tell us the news, neither P nor I really knew what to say.  This is it.  This is the start of our dream.  It may take a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears but it is what we make it.  The door has now been opened, it's time for us to step through.

So, here we go!  This road will be long but worth it.  We are not just buying a house, we are buying a dream.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let's Do Something Fun!

For the past month or so, Little P has approached me at least once during the day to say,

"Let's Do Something FUN, mom!"

When he first started saying that, I wanted to drop my shoulders and ask what he was talking about!  We've been building castles with blocks!  Coloring!  Dressing up! 

It took me about a week but I finally figured it out.  He wasn't asking for me to move mountains, he just wanted me to shake up the routine a bit.  While our routine is very functional for me, the one who has a bazillion other things to do in the day, it can get boring for them.  So, whenever he's asked, I've been trying to be creative with coming up with something different. 

This morning, he asked first thing and, in light of the fact that we're leaving for a trip today and I need some time to finish preparations, I suggested that they eat their breakfast at their little table in the playroom while watching a movie!


He was so excited to do something different (aka 'fun')! 

My kids are great at pushing me to break my mold.  I am such a woman of routine that sometimes I lose sight of the fact that, while it may work for me, it could bore the heck out of them.  I'm trying to learn how to be a little big more 'loosy goosy' and just go with it.  Routine's are great, but even they need to be adjusted sometimes!

So moms, break your routine, forget your laundry for a bit, and GO DO SOMETHING FUN!  They aren't little for long, right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pocket Surprise

After the Crayon Catastrophe I had a few months ago, I have become very diligent about checking pockets before putting clothes into the washer.

Today, while putting in a pair of Little C's super cute skinny jeans, I laughed when I saw what she had stuffed in that oh so small pocket of hers...

A car. 

Of course!  Girls should ALWAYS carry cars around, right?

I think its time I get her some pretend make-up or something.  

Living the Island Life

A few years ago, while we were living in Italy, P and I got the chance to go to Paris for the weekend sans kids.  While we dated often (we aim for a date every other week), we had never left them over night.  We jumped at the opportunity.
Naturally, P had zero worries and was super excited to spend the weekend with me and I, while very excited, was anxious beyond belief.  I had zero worries about the safety of my kids but rather I was nervous that they would wake up to early, whine the whole time, and just basically make the weekend very inconvenient for the family that was keeping them.  Well, that didn't happen and WE. HAD. A. BLAST!

After that weekend, we made a promise to each other that every year we would take a weekend (3 nights) vacation.  It didn't have to be anything special but our marriage needed that one-on-one time to re-check ourselves and get a chance to take of our mom and dad hats.  In addition, every 5 years (convenient to the big anniversaries), we would take a week long vacation.  Something that we would save for little by little over the course of the 5 lead-up years and then be able to go all out and have a ball.
We made a deal.
A side note: Our weekend vacations are no less than three nights for a reason.  The first night away from kids, while I am enjoying my freedom, I am thinking about how they are doing, if they went to bed easily, etc.  By the second night, I am so tired after not sleeping overly well the night before and a full day of fun that I pass out and sleep great.  To have to get up and head home would be a drag.  I just relaxed!  So, that last night ensures that mom and dad actually gets a day or two to really relax and connect.  That last day is usually our most fun day and the day when we have our best conversations.  I know my kids are having fun and I am completely focused on P.
So, last week, was our first 5 year vacation and boy did we enjoy it!  I booked a 7night/8day cruise to the Southern Caribbean.  We had saved a certain amount of money so we could do whatever excursions we wanted.  Unfortunately, laying on the beach just isn't our thing, we love to DO things.  So we did.

One of the best decisions was our balcony.  Holy macaroni, I will never cruise on an inside or windowed room.  For just a little more money, we were in HEAVEN!

We cruised with Princess Cruise lines and it was GREAT.  During the whole cruise, I only saw maybe 10-15 kids and they had a great spread of ages.  The food was INCREDIBLE!  Well, maybe a little TOO incredible since my pants are fitting just a little tighter these days.  Anyways, our first stop was St. Thomas.
For the first time in years, I was going on vacation and was not pregnant!  It was awesome to finally get to do all of the things that I couldn't.  So, in St. Thomas, we decided to go Scuba diving.  We had never been before and it was awesome!

One of my most favorite things about Princess cruises is that they often "Movies Under The Stars" which means that next to one of the pools they show movies on their HUGE (think football stadium) screened all throughout the day.  I am not a 'layerouter' (I definitely made that word up) but I LOVE to watch movies.  So, while we were in Tortola, instead of doing an excursion, we planted ourselves in two lounge chairs watched a few movies, ate some ice cream cones, and had an awesome time!

The next day, we stopped in Antigua.  I was super excited about this stop because we were going ZIPLINING!!!  So cool!

The next day we stopped in Dominica where we went on an 'Off the Beaten Path' private tour with our tour guide Woody. 

One of my most favorite memories from this trip was stopping to speak with some of Woody's friends who have moved from the States down to Dominica.  They are building a home down there and living in tents in the meantime (they have a pretty cool set-up).  I got a chance to ask a lot of questions about their experience!  So glad we got to meet them!

As we got back on the boat that evening, we captured one of the coolest pictures!

The last port that we went to was Barbados.  We went on a thriller snorkeling trip.  We got to swim with the turtles, snorkel around a reef, and three ship wrecks.

You know that beautiful 'windblown' look these swimsuit models talk about?  Yea, this is mine!  I think I'm in the right line of work.

Our day at sea was an awesome one!  We slept, watched movies, hung out on our balcony, slept some more, got room service, and then slept a little more.  It was perfect.  For people who never get to lounge, it was the perfect day!

This vacation served us so well.  It gave P and I the opportunity to really recap last year and  talk about our hopes and excitements for this year.  We are starting a new budget, trying to buy a house, hopefully get a new job, and, dare I say, maybe getting pregnant with #4?  We got a chance to talk about the things that we want to work on and the things that we want to completely change.  Every year throws ridiculous curve balls but we are starting as a team.  As long as we're on the same page ready to support each other and our family, we're not scared about what could come.  We're excited to see where we are this time next year and the experiences and lessons that we have learned. 

So, here's to mommy/daddy vacations!  THEY ROCK!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Beginning With The End in Mind

P and I got home last night from our cruise.  It was such an awesome week is so many ways! 

 While I get everything back together today, I wanted to share this post written by one of my most admired mom's.  I have read Lindsay's blog, My Child, I love you, for several years.  She is a mother of 6 with another babe due in April.  She has the perfect mix of faith, humor, encouragement, and practicality.  Without knowing it, she has taught me so much about being a wife, mother, and woman. 

Without further ado, here's Lindsay!

Thank you, Jeanne for offering space on your blog to share thoughts.  In reflecting upon our gratitude for your husband and all our military and their selfless service, I cannot help but be grateful for you and your service towards your family and our country while your husband was away. That being said, you both must have "the end in mind" with your ability to serve in such a selfless manner and understand a deeper motivating love.  Thank you. 

Beginning with the end in Mind

Oddly, what motivates and drives me most days in motherhood and life in general is picturing myself on my death bed or on judgment day. I even say often when questioning a decision, "Will I be glad I did this when I am dying?"  Someone once told me this advice regarding parenting. She said you should picture the kind of adults you want and work backwards.  I tend to picture the kind of life I want to have in the end and work backwards.
I know on my death bed, I will be grateful I kept my faith.  I will be grateful for all the rosaries said, times stopped by to make a visit, hours spent in prayer instead of doing other distractions, time reading God's word, and ultimately the sufferings I either endured and offered up and even greater the sufferings through the grace of God I willingly took on myself for the greater glory of God.  As hard as suffering is AT THE TIME, I know I will leap with joy that I ENDURED and USED it to save my soul, my children's souls, and poor souls in purgatory.  I will be glad I used suffering to help others who are suffering. 
It will be like training for a marathon.  Day after day, you wake in the morning to run the allotted miles amidst all conditions i.e weather, fatigue, lack of motivation.  It will be so gratifying on race day that I trained and trained well.

I cannot recommend enough the book "Consoling the Heart of Jesus" by Michael E. Gaitley.  I am not all the way through this work, but the message is so very powerful.  He reminds us once again the purpose of our lives and the things in it be it people, children, spouses, jobs, friends.

"Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to SAVE HIS SOUL.
The OTHER THINGS on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.
Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment OF HIS END, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition.  Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created."

On my death bed, I will be so grateful that I was a good wife to John and kept the promises that I made to God however many years back that I would be with him UNTO DEATH DO US PART.  I will be so glad I took care of all his needs each day because I love him, but ULTIMATELY because I love God.  The days as a wife, mother, and human in general are just routine.  We wake to laundry, food, meals, discipline, correction, food, naps, food, prayers, and bed.  At first, I think we do things out of love for ourselves for the other person.  We are trying to impress THEM to like US so we bend over backwards to win their heart.  It is not real love because OUR end goal is still being sought after.  Next, if we let our love mature, you start doings acts out of love for them and not necessarily our benefit.  You may not want to, but you press on out of love in hopes of making their life good.  Finally, you reach the final stage of love which is you do all for them out of LOVE FOR GOD.  The joy that takes over your life is immeasurable.  Even if you are married to a difficult spouse, you press on out of love for God whose love for us is constant.  John's grandfather told him this before we were married.  He said, "I will share with you a little secret.  The more you serve Lindsay out of love of God and putting aside your own desires, the more your marriage will grow and blossom."  Our ultimate hope is in the end (or should I say beginning if our real lives in HEAVEN), the wayward spouse will see God's love shining through and be moved to love God and be with Him in heaven.  You read it over and over in the lives of the saints namely St. Rita and St. Monica.  Sure, by today's standards they have every reason for annulment, BUT they stayed married out of love for God and they were made saints because of it.  What a heavenly reward for their years of suffering, sacrifice, and loneliness.  No deed given to God goes unseen.  We must remember that when enduring trials.  He sees every tear dropped out of love for Him and will remember them on our judgement day.

On my death bed, I will be glad and thankful for each child we had by God's grace.  God could have chosen any way he wanted to bring forth new life and yet he chose the way he did.  It seems so simple in my (our) minds that it be left of up to HIM who states "Before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU.  Before you came to LIFE, I consecrated you."  If HE knew you before you were even formed in my womb, then it seems so funny that I would try to think I have control over the people He already knew.  For some reason, He allows us to participate in the creation of new human life.  It seems so funny that I think I control it when God is the ultimate giver of life.  He deems every person ever lived.  I believe He desires us to be like Mary, Our heavenly mother and her simple "Yes."  Imagine her circumstances. Not married.  Stoning as a punishment.  Having to tell her parents.  Confusion of knowing she was not with a man.  And she said "Yes."  So to you my Heavenly Father, I say "Yes.  Let it be done unto me according to thy will."  We say the words in the Our Father "Thy will be done."   My grandparents (2 people) had 13 children.  From that 13 children, came 70 some grandchildren.  From that 70 some grandchildren has come a hilarious number of great-grandchildren and still growing every year.  If we back it up, from those two people came hundreds and hundreds of generations of people and souls in heaven.  Two people=hundreds of generations and souls.  For me to say "No" to another child, I would have to say "No" to hundreds of generations of people. If my grandmother's parents said "No" I would not be here.  Fascinating to think about.  It is not about numbers to me.  It is about God's plan for salvation history if we listen to the words in scripture.  "Before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU."  When I look at each of our children, I see generations.  I see a soul who will pray.  I see a soul who will suffer for others and bring them to heaven.  I see a soul who probably will hold their own child's hand and teach their own child about God and try to lead them to heaven.  That is why each one is so important to me.  Their life is so valuable not only to John and I, but valuable and essential to all humanity and its survival.  God has a specific plan for EACH PERSON. 

Childbearing and child rearing have no guarantees.  I do not know what God has planned for their futures.  I do not know what He has planned for their life spans.  There is much pain physically, spiritually, and emotionally involved in parenthood. I have felt the pain of miscarriage several times.  I have felt the pain of wayward siblings who were raised right and chose to turn their backs on God, BUT I do know each soul has a purpose. 

I know I will be grateful on my death bed that I gave God the dominion over my fertility to use as He sees fit for all eternity to bring forth the lives He has chosen to be with Him forever in heaven.
On my death bed, I will be glad I was home to watch my children grow everyday.  My grandmother recently told me, "I wish I would have realized how they are BIG for most of the lives and little for just a few short years.  I would have had more patience knowing that."  I will be glad for the books we read, the meals we cooked, the birthdays we celebrated, the walks we took, and the times I just sat and listened to their stories.  I will be glad I didn't miss it and somebody else saw all their firsts.  In the end, it will be all worth it.  It will be worth every financial sacrifice made for the TIME we were together.  I know I will be glad I wasn't somewhere else while they grew up everyday before me. 

To get to these points of death bed vision, I think I (we) must first understand that just because we are struggling either mentally, physically, or financially doesn't necessarily mean you are doing the wrong thing.  In the END, it is probably quite the opposite.  It is in the struggle that we are closest to Christ.  It is in the struggle that are efforts are most worthy to Him.  It is in the struggle that we are able to console Him the most.  So, I would gander to say if you are struggling you are doing just fine and right where God wants you to be.  The world will preach to you the opposite that IF you are struggling you must change something or MUST be doing the WRONG thing when really it is Christ calling you to closer union with HIM if you let HIM and know of HIS love for you.  The ultimate act of love.

Being that we aren't guaranteed a full 80 years in life, I want to live my life right now with those visions and that motivation.  I know that when I die, I will be well-satisfied that I finished strong, struggled, failed, consoled, and used all sufferings to show God how much I loved Him.  We must get to this point that we see our work as saving OUR soul.  We must get to the point that we see OUR marriages as saving our souls.  Everything we do is out of love for God.

Beginning with the end in mind, how do you care to view your short earthly life?  What do you want to say on your death bed you accomplished out of love for God? 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Moving on From 2011

I haven't written anything about the New Year yet.  I've tried.  My words just weren't coming together.  I couldn't get myself together this week and I didn't know why.  Now, at 11:30pm on Thursday night, I am starting to figure it out.

2011 was tough!

Let's recap:
*Started 2011 with all of my children being sick for 6 weeks.
*Mini-C was Baptized by Fr. E
*Attended Fr. E's first home Mass and Reception
*Prepare for deployment
*Visited the hubs family in New Hampshire
*Took a weekend trip with P
*My friend, Shannon, was murdered
*My dear neighbor, Mel, passed away
*Took the kids to visit my parents in Atlanta
*Earthquake located 20 miles from my home
*Minor melt-down
*Best friend had first baby who ended up in the NICU
*Lost 33 lbs
*P came home from deployment
*Everything that goes along with the homecoming and readjustment
*Visit to New Hampshire
*My other best friend has her second baby who also ends up in the NICU
*New Years

As I struggle to put one foot in front of the other this week, I couldn't figure out if it was hormones, a thyroid issue, or if I was just relaxing in anticipation of P and I's week long cruise starting this weekend.  Now, as I lay awake, I realize that I've never let down after this year.  I keep trying to focus on what I've learned and how I've grown but I haven't stepped back to acknowledge the fact that it was a tough one and I SHOULD be tired.

I struggle to put a cap on last year because I scared that I will forget.  I don't want to leave Shannon behind.  I don't want to move on from my brother's ordination and first Mass.  I'm scared that I'll forget all of the lessons that I learned while P was gone and more importantly that I will take for granted the fact that he's home. It's so easy to go backwards and get comfortable but this year was far too profitable for that to happen.  I'm just not sure how to categorize it and bring it into the new year as an asset instead of baggage.  So much happened that I wasn't able to really process any of it!

Maybe 'feeling' it isn't at all what I need.  Maybe this is one of those times where I am supposed to just hand it all over.  I've lived it all to the best of my ability.  Now, it's time for me to walk away carrying all of my triumphs and bruises having confidence in the fact that there is someone in far more control than me.  He knows.  He knows whats to come and why I needed such a 'crash course' kind of a year.  He'll let me know when it's time but for now, I can move on.  There's no need to hold on to any of it.

I am being given the opportunity to rest and relax with my wonderful husband next week.  It's time to recharge my battery, regroup as a team, and come back ready to tackle 2012.

Happy New Year, friends!  I'm excited to see what it holds.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Handmade Thank You Notes

One of my New Years Resolutions is to write, and help the kids write, thank you notes ALL YEAR!  This means Christmas, birthdays, surprise gifts...ALL YEAR!  In a time of e-mail and texting, I want them to understand the personal touch of HAND WRITING notes. 

So, I decided to come up with a fun way to write them.  I figured that everybody would know that I filled in those 'fill in the blank' thank you notes so I went for something that had more child involvement.  This is what I did.

First, I shocked the kids when I pulled out the paint to get hand prints and footprints.  They had such a good time doing it and it also alleviated the stress of a particularly whiny day.

After they dried, I got the kids ready to color.  I folded pieces of card stock and had them color on the inside cover (a bit of personalization).

While they colored I cut out all of their prints and a glue stick.

As they finished up each card, I glued their hand and foot prints on the front, had them help me write 'Thank you', and name and dated each print (not pictured).

One by one, we started talking about what each person gave them and what they wanted to say.  They had some funny ideas.  I put their ideas into complete sentences, helped them to sign their names, and they were done!

I was impressed at how much they understood and remembered.  This was definitely a fun craft to help the remainder of Christmas break go by and teach them something that I am still struggling to learn.

Now...to write MY thank you notes...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Crazy World of Natural Family Planning (NFP)

Lately, I have had several people ask me about Natural Family Planning (NFP).  I have tried to write e-mail after e-mail but I can't get it all into an e-mail so I decided that I would just use my blog as my avenue.  For all I know, it will find its way into a lot of other people's lives because it's posted here.  I guess I'll just start from the beginning. 

So, NFP...

I do not believe in contraception.  I believe that our fertility is a gift.  So, when P and I were talking about getting married, I knew that NFP would be how we planned our family.  I have never craved an extremely large family.  What I did crave was to seek God's Will because I knew that it was the only way to find fulfillment.  This goes either way.  If His Will for me is to only have three kids, then as much as I may humanly struggle with that, I'm okay with it.  And if His will is for me to have 15 (and Lord knows I'd struggle with that)...well...by that point, I'm sure I'd be okay with it.  My point is that I wanted to give God the first shot.  He created me, He created my roadmap, He's going to know what will bring me fulfillment, I sure as heck was not going to put an obstacle in His way.  He has already proven Himself, no need to give Him another test.

Okay, so enough on why I chose it, back to NFP.  So, what NFP consists of is tracking a woman's cycle to determine her times of fertility.  With each month, based on the couples discernment of God's Will for their family at that time, they can have sex or abstain from sex.  This period for most couples, is about 7-10 days.  Without a doubt, abstaining during this time is very difficult.  God was smart when he created our bodies to desire intimacy the most when we are fertile.  He told us to 'be fruitful and multiply' and then did everything He could to make it happen...haha.  Smart man! 

So, how do you track these signs?  Well, there are several 'methods' of natural family planning.  Each method focuses on different ways to determine fertility.  I use the marquette method that along with charting bodily changes, I also use a monitor that tells me when there is a switch in hormone dominance (signifying fertility).  Whatever method you choose, Marquette, Creighton, Billings, etc, they will all teach you to accurately track what is going on with your body.  The first step is finding a teacher for the method that you think best fits your lifestyle.  This website can help you find someone in your area.

The Pros of NFP:
In the words of my husband,
"I'm not saying that I like it but NFP is one of the best things we've done for our marriage."
*NFP, without a doubt in the world, forces constant conversation about a couples sex life.  This includes ones likes and dislikes, fertility issues or concerns, and what each spouse is discerning about the future of their family.  It completely takes away the hesitance to speak up about anything.  When I first got married, I was very embarrassed about sex.  Because of the constant conversation about where we were in my cycle, one conversation would lead into another which would lead into another.  I rarely had to bring anything up out of the blue and the knowledge that we were always on the same page created an incredible trust and bond within our marriage.

*NFP makes it much easier to fix an irregular cycle.  Because you are tracking your symptoms on a daily basis, it is easy for a doctor to help you figure out what is going on to make things irregular.  This is also very helpful when dealing with fertility issues.

*More frequent and better sex.  I know, that's kind of blunt but it's not just coming from me...it's proven.  Because of the increased conversation about your sexual relationship, sex is more fulfilling.  Your likes/dislikes have already been talked about and you are more likely to speak up if something comes up.  Also, because there are times of abstinence, couples who practice Natural Family Planning, experience the 'Honeymoon Effect' much more frequently than those who have no restrictions on their sex life.  

*Deeper intimacy with your spouse.  This is HUGE.  One of the biggest things I have learned while using NFP is that intimacy does not mean sex.  Intimacy is anything that brings you are your spouse together and allows for an emotional, mental, or physical connection.  During times of abstinence, a couple can not just disconnect for a week...they have to find other ways of staying connected to one another.  P and I have found so many other ways of staying connected that we would have never known about if we would not have practiced NFP.  This is definitely one of my favorites!

*Confidence that you are giving God the first shot at your life, family, and fertility. 

The Cons of NFP:

*It's hard.  Let's face it, constantly opening yourself to something that might not be 'convenient', abstaining during an anniversary trip, and having to be persistant about charting can be a pain.  (But a worth it pain, I promise.)

*Surprise Pregnancies.  We have not planned any of our pregnancies.  I have to be honest and say that I cried after finding out I was pregnant 2 of the 3 times.  After the fact, what I have learned about NFP and 'Surprise Pregnancies' is this:
1) Surprise pregnancies have nothing to do with NFP.  At the same time that I was having my children, I had multiple friends who were on birth control ALSO find out they were pregnant.
2) While a surprise, I know exactly why I got pregnant with Little P and Little C (God must have willed Mini-C because I have no clue.)  NFP is 100% accurate if done right. 
3) There is great comfort in knowing that you are always open to the lives that God wants to give you.  I'll admit, it took me some time to say that I genuinely felt this way but I really do.  One thing I never want to experience is going to the gates of heaven and meeting the children that He wanted to give me.  I want to be open to whatever He has for me.
4) God is SO MUCH SMARTER THAN ME!  When I think back to when I got pregnant with Little P, it astonishes me that he wasn't in my plan.  We have no clue what will unfold in our lives, how can we 'plan' for something that we know nothing about?
5) I have learned more from my 'surprise pregnancies' than I ever could have imagined.  There were lessons that I NEEDED to learn and character qualities that I needed to gain in order to be the woman I was meant to be.  I never would have learned those things in 'my plan'.

So there you have it.  That is everything I have about NFP.  I do want to make one thing clear.  God gave us common sense, intuition, and a brain.  These are also things that need to be used while discerning.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.  I just wanted to get the base line out there.  Also, a lot of my friends are on birth control, there is no judgement (and I hope that they all feel this way).  If any of this came off as preachy, I did not intend for it to be.  My heart is genuine in laying it out for those who are inquiring.
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