Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Edel Gathering 2014 - Day 2

On Day Two of the Edel Gathering, nothing was planned until 12:15pm. I LOVED THAT. I loved  not having to get up and go first thing in the morning unless I wanted to.

Luisa and I went to The Taco Shack for breakfast to meet up with some gals I know from a Facebook group -- some were Edel attendees, some weren't. We had yummy breakfast tacos and great conversation. 

I met Brittany and her adorable baby Matthew!
Afterwards Luisa and I walked to a convenience store to grab a few items and then headed to the Omni. We were an hour early for registration, so we found a place to charge our phones and relaxed for a bit. During that time, I saw Jen Fulwiler and introduced myself. (Total fangirl moment for me...) 

At registration, Cari had each attendee pull a random saint's medal from a box and put it on ribbon, the objective being to find the other two people with your same medal. The first trio to return to the registration desk got a prize (and it took about 15 minutes for that trio to find themselves and win). 

We had a bit of time to peruse the vendor tables, and there was so much great stuff!

We also got swag bags with some wonderful freebies. Definitely the best swag bag I've ever had at any conference, hands down (for example, each attendee received a FREE prayer pillowcase!).
There was also a "create your own nametag" station.
We hadn't even heard the first speaker yet and we were having a blast!
 Peter is loving this chandelier at the Omni. #edel14

The first speaker was Hallie Lord, and oh my goodness she was fantastic.

It was great to hear all the babies cooing during the talk!

Haley Stewart and Marion Fernandez also gave talks, and I don't have time to recap them but suffice it to say they were all EXCELLENT. All talks were recorded so I will be sure to link them here once they're online.

We had a break midday to visit the vendor tables and have coffee and pastries - it was great! I had time to visit all the vendor tables for a chance -- something that is usually a challenge at a conference.

After the talks and vendor table fun, we went back to our room to rest before preparing for the evening entertainment -- a Tex-Mex buffet with dancing and karaoke afterward.

The food was phenomenal and the karaoke even more so. If you haven't already, take the time to watch Kelly Mantoan rap to Flo Rida - her performance was worth the price of admission alone.

Someone else also got up and did some karaoke (badly).

yup, that's me
I had spent so much time singing and screaming and cheering the whole evening that my voice was cracking all over the place, and I think I weirded out a lot of people by doing The Saga Begins. But some people were, I think, impressed:

And then, right after I got off the karaoke stage, this happened:

This gorgeous pregnant lady (who looked really familiar) walked right up to me and said, "Hi, JoAnna, I recognize you from Facebook. I'm Abby Johnson."


I am STILL geeking out about it.

Stupid me was too stunned to get a selfie with her, but I did have the presence of mind to get her autograph at least.

Peter and I danced too.

I was told he was unofficially voted the cutest baby at Edel. I have to agree but then I'm biased. :)

Luisa and I left the party about 11pm -- I would have liked to stay longer but little man was all tuckered out.

I was so revved from the party it took me a long time to get to sleep. It had been a fabulous evening.

Stay tuned for part 3!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Edel Gathering 2014 - Day 1

I'm jumping on the Edel-recap bandwagon (mostly as a way to avoid the stacks of laundry and dirty kitchen I really need to deal with today). But I'm going to do a three-part post, because otherwise I'm going to be sitting at my computer all. day. long. trying to cram it into one super-long post. So, here's Edel Gathering, Day 1!

I wasn't able to start packing or laundry until I got off of work on Thursday afternoon, so I was up much later than I wanted to be.

We were up at 4:30 in order to get to the airport by 7am (we picked up our friends Michaela and Luisa on the way). 

After an uneventful flight, we arrived in Austin!

I called Collin to let him know that we'd arrived safely, and he gave me some bad news. His paternal grandfather, Norman, passed away early Friday morning. I was already in the air when he got the call. So while I was at the airport bus stop waiting for the bus to La Quinta, I called my boss and arranged to take bereavement leave from work so Collin could fly to North Dakota the following Monday for the funeral. I was sad for Collin and his family, but I knew Norman had lived a long, full life (he was 92 when he died) and had suffered a lot in the last year or so before he passed. I was glad he was finally at peace.

By the time we got to the La Quinta, I was starving - neither Luisa nor I had had anything to eat other than a granola bar before we boarded the plane.

After checking in, Luisa, Peter, and I walked around the downtown area a bit and found a Quizno's. Then we headed back to our room to get ready for the "Cocktails and Crazy Shoes" party.

It was so much fun. So many women! So many crazy shoes!

These were mine. $7 at Saver's!

The winner (deservedly so) had glued her kids' toys to her shoes! Ha! I wish I had thought of that.

And there were babies EVERYWHERE! In slings, in strollers, in wombs. Peter made some friends. :)

We went back to our room about 11pm, exhausted but happy. Peter was so revved up he didn't want to sleep, but I finally coaxed him down and collapsed into bed.

Stay tuned for day 2...

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Winner's Guide to NFP!

Did you see the awesome giveaway by Simcha Fisher in honor of NFP Awareness week? Check it out!

And while you're at it, check out her book The Sinner's Guide to NFP. Far and away the best NFP book I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - July 18, 2014

--- 1 ---

I've been pretty quiet lately, and the reason isn't a great one. Unfortunately, last month Collin lost his job. We had to pull the kids out of daycare and he's been doing the SAHD thing as he searches for a new position. We've slashed our budget to the bone but things are still very tight and our stress levels are high. (Don't get me STARTED on how ridiculous and bureaucratic the process is in this state to try and get [paltry] unemployment benefits and nutrition assistance... grrr.) Prayers are appreciated.

--- 2 ---

However, I AM still going to Edel. Peter and I (along with our friend Luisa, and another friend in the area) are flying out one week from today! I'm so excited. I scored some great deals at Goodwill and Saver's last weekend so I have several pretty new dresses to wear. I even found a pair of crazy shoes ($7 at Saver's!).

--- 3 ---

We went camping at Show Low Lake over the fourth of July weekend. My dad went with us and we had a great time. We were still able to have a campfire despite the Stage II fire restrictions -- the campground rented propane fire rings so we got one for two nights. I had no idea such things existed! We're thinking of buying one for ourselves once our financial situation improves; a lot of summer camping destinations have fire restrictions so it'd be handy to have.

Spending time with Grandpa

--- 4 ---

On the last night of our camping trip, there was a bad thunderstorm that forced us to seek refuge in a hotel (a tent is the last place you want to be when there are lightning strikes around!). 

--- 5 ---

We were also able to visit with my aunt Ramona (my dad's sister) and her family that weekend, as they were in AZ as part of their epic family road trip (they basically drove from Montana to Arizona and back again). I hadn't seen her in years, and she'd never met Gabriel or Peter, so it was great to spend time with their family. 

It's hard to tell but Peter is actually laughing in this picture - he thought auntie Mona was hilarious.

--- 6 ---

School starts in less than a month (August 6). Eeek! I need to get the kids in for haircuts before their first day. We'll probably do that this weekend -- I want to get a cute new haircut for Edel.

--- 7 ---

How awesome is it that Theo is home? I smile every time I see his pictures.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Natural Family Planning is "#Zeropercenteffective" - A Response

Blogger Jerrid Sebesta claims that Natural Family Planning is "zero percent effective" because he and his wife experienced an unplanned pregnancy after six months of use.

How on earth does an unplanned pregnancy after only six months of use mean that the method as a whole is zero percent effective? Any birth control method will fail with user error; it does not mean that the method itself is "zero percent effective." If his wife was on the Pill and forgot to take it one day, and she became pregnant, would he claim that the Pill is "#zeropercenteffective"? I'm guessing not.

Mr. Sebesta doesn't share which NFP method he and his wife were using (the notoriously unreliable calendar method, perhaps?), or if they had any formal training or classes, or how their charting and reading of fertility signs went wrong. He simply warns his male readers, "Guys, if your wife tells you 'I know my body'... don’t believe her."

Also, that line is so infuriating on so many levels. He's the one who is fertile 100% of the time, yet he (apparently) leaves 100% of the charting and interpretation to her. This is a common burden for women even with contraceptives; the vast majority place the burden of use on the woman, not the man. Pia de Solenni has an excellent article about that state of affairs. Of course, if an unplanned pregnancy occurs, many men are quick to blame the woman, despite the fact that it takes two to tango and no method of avoiding pregnancy is 100% effective. 

I have a hashtag for him: #you'redoingitwrong. He's a literate man; he can read her chart and then they can both decide, TOGETHER, if her signs indicate fertility or not, and make decisions about abstaining from intercourse from there. NFP encourages men and women to manage their combined fertility together; it shouldn't be all on one person as he seems to believe. 

Attitudes like his frankly frighten me, and here is one reason why:

Why, look, here's a handy dandy little device that men like Mr. Sebesta can pressure their wives into using. Then all he has to do his hide the remote from her, and he can turn her fertility on and off at his pleasure. After all, he can't trust her to know her body, so it's best that he controls it. For the good of their marriage, of course.

I'm amazed that feminist groups aren't screaming from the rooftops about the potential of abuse of this device.  For example, China could pass a law calling for all women to be forcibly implanted (with government officials in charge of all the remotes, of course). 

[Incidentally, why isn't NOW vociferously objecting to remote-controlled contraception that can be used and manipulated by abusive partners or governments? Oh, that's right, they are too busy calling nuns "dirty" and complaining about Hobby Lobby's refusal to pay for abortifacients to deal with an issue that is an actual threat to a woman's bodily autonomy and reproductive health.  #butIdigress]

Back to Mr. Sebesta: they either didn't follow the rules, misread or misinterpreted fertility signs, or decided to take a risk during a potentially fertile period -- or a combination thereof. (It's  possible, albeit very unlikely, that they experienced a genuine method failure, something that could happen with any method of birth control.) As I discussed above, a couple's user failure is not an accurate reflection of NFP's method's perfect use efficacy any more than someone who forgets their Pill is a reflection on the Pill's method use efficacy. 

My husband and I have been using NFP since 2003 to both achieve and avoid pregnancy (at first we used the SymptoThermal method, and since 2011 or so we've been using the Marquette Method). We've had seven pregnancies, and only one of those was "unplanned." I frankly admit it was due to user error -- I was charting very lazily (not recording all of my signs, waiting days after the fact to record my temperatures, when my memory wasn't very accurate) and so we weren't following the rules. NFP wasn't effective for us in that case because we weren't using NFP as it was meant to be used: correctly. Every time we've actually followed the rules, we've been able to successfully avoid or achieve, depending on our intention. 

I guess that makes my hashtag #100percenteffective. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - June 27, 2014 - Catholic Book RecommendationEdition

--- 1 ---

A friend of mine asked me for Catholic book recommendations. She's a cradle Catholic but fell away from the faith and now is re-examining it.

On my recommendation, she's already read "Something Other Than God" by Jennifer Fulwiler and is currently reading "Rediscovering Catholicism" by Matthew Kelly. 

What follows are more recommendations for her (in no particular order). Please leave a comment if you have a book recommendation that I didn't mention!

--- 2 ---

Pope Awesome and Other Stories by Cari Donaldson @ Clan Donaldson. A lovely romp through the adventures of a Catholic convert mom and her feisty, fun-loving family.

It's one of Peter's favorites. 

--- 3 ---

Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter, edited by Hallie Lord. I actually haven't read this one yet (I know, I know, it's on my list!) but I've heard nothing but rave reviews from other Catholic women.

--- 4 ---

The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living by Greg & Jennifer Willits. 

I've listened to Greg & Jennifer's podcast for years, and was thrilled when they released a book. It's a wonderful reflection on Catholic family life and practice. 


--- 5 ---

The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism by Devin Rose at St. Joseph's Vanguard. I first read this book after Devin self-published it (it was then called "If Protestantism was True") and was thrilled when Catholic Answers Press decided to pick it up. It's an excellent analysis of how Protestant doctrine doesn't hold up to intense logical scrutiny as compared to Catholic doctrine.

--- 6 ---

From Atheism to Catholicism: How Scientists and Philosophers Led Me to the Truth by Dr. Kevin Vost. A truly outstanding conversion story rooted in science, logic, and reason.

--- 7 ---

The Sinner's Guide to NFP by Simcha Fisher of I Have to Sit Down. This book is, hands down, the best explanation regarding the Church's teaching on "pelvic issues" (birth control, contraception, NFP, etc.) that I've ever read.

--- Bonus #8 ---

I haven't yet read Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity by Trent Horn, but I know he's a fabulous writer so I feel confident recommending it.

 Also, while not a specifically Catholic book, a must-read (or, must-listen) is C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. It's available as a free audiobook here (last link in the post).

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shocking Photo of a Mother Nursing in Public

photo courtesy of chrisroll @

Seriously, though, I am really perplexed by all of the outrage about breastfeeding moms nursing in public.

For example, this person took a surreptitious picture of a breastfeeding mom (when interviewed, the mom, Kate White, said she forgot her cover, and asked her friends if they'd mind if she fed her child first):

Is anyone else confused? Why was this person outraged that a mother was feeding her child at lunchtime in a public restaurant? Isn't that what restaurants are for?

Then there was an Internet conniption over Karlesha Thurman's picture:

Again, I'm not seeing a problem. A nursing mom who just graduated from college is feeding her baby. And this is a problem... why? Apparently some people would prefer to hear her baby screeching throughout the ceremony instead? We should be applauding this woman for making it through college while parenting a kid, because that is HARD.

My question to all the people who clutch their pearls and shriek with horror at the above pictures:  are you also ranting and raving about pictures like these, all of which show up in public on a fairly regular basis?

What if you're at Chik-fil-a and someone is reading a copy of the above magazine? Do you ask them to put a cover over it, or to take it into the bathroom to read?

What if you see the following in the grocery store checkout line? Do you gasp in horror and grab the nearest issue of Good Housekeeping to shield your eyes? 

Oh wait. 

What if you're walking through a store and they happen to be playing the Oscars on a display TV screen? Do you declare how actresses need to stay at home if they can't cover themselves in public? (Okay, you may have a point, but we're talking about double standards here.)

I see a lot of condemnation and outrage directed at moms who nurse their babies in public, and yet I don't see similar levels directed at women who show as much boob (if not more) in magazines, advertisements, etc. 

Take the picture above (Brandi Glanville, 2013 Oscars). Did it go viral with complaints and judgement? I don't think it did. But why not? Ms. Glanville is showing just as much skin, if not more, than Kate White or Karlesha Thurman. 

The only difference is that she isn't feeding a baby in her picture. 

If you get up in arms about seeing a mom feeding her baby, I have a word of advice for you: 

I see a flash of white to my immediate right, but not a nipple to be seen
A mama is feeding her baby - hey that's that's awesome; she's a queen!
But the world is howling like a swirling storm outside
"Gotta keep it in, gotta run and hide!"

"Don't take them out, don't let them see
God forbid you feed your own baby
Conceal, don't reveal, don't let them know..."


Let it go, let it go! Don't freak out anymore
Let it go, let it go! Even if you're at the store!
She's feeding a kid, don't make her hide away
Let the storm rage on
Some boob never bothered you anyway.

(profuse apologies to Disney et al, but I couldn't help myself)