I found out today the church of my childhood has decided to allow “partnered gay and lesbian pastors” into ministry at their church.  It is pretty much a given that this decision will result in people disagreeing and breaking off to form their new church.  I won’t delve into the details of why or how this happened since frankly, I don’t know and I’m not an expert on it (and I’m actually confused about what it even means in application…so they’ll accept “partnered” but not single?  what if those couples break up?).  I will say that the fact that such a decisive decision was made doesn’t surprise me.  Decisive decisions on matters of faith and morals must be made.  So while it doesn’t surprise me, the repercussions of such a decision do make me sad.

I was surprised at my own reaction.  Why sad?  Shouldn’t I be gloating?  Saying “See? I left right on time!”  I didn’t feel that. At. All.

Instead its like I’m reliving the pain of the schism or the reformation.  The pain of families disagreeing and breaking apart like a divorce. Or the pain I knew I would cause just by me telling my own family “I’m becoming Catholic,” all over again….

See, the statements like the one given by Rev. Noko regarding the actions of Lutherans after another “controversial” decision by the LWS  in 1957 are again being referred to for this decision:

“Our forebears in faith decided to do the most sensible thing to do under those circumstances, and that is to stay together. They did not forsake one another…They understood that the Church is the Body of Christ, a creature of the gospel and, therefore, not ours to dismember.”

I read that and think, brilliant.  I love it.  That statement is SO TRUE.  But couldn’t that be used for any controversial decision made in a church?  Most notably, that big divide that happened oh, say, around the 16th century?  I say that not to make light of that situation, but to point out how left to our own human discernment, we will naturally splinter off into a billion little pieces because we each have our own intuitions and intelligences that will lead us to our own conclusions.  I think that’s free will and original sin in all its glory.

I think of that little phrase, “WWJD”…oh yes that was EVERYwhere in 7th grade, on everything, as a little mantra to guide our existence.  “What WOULD Jesus do?”  Who knows?  How do we know who truly teaches what Jesus did?  Through the Bible?  Then why are there so many interpretations?  Most importantly, did Jesus come down from heaven, divinely, just to leave His church in thousands of fragmented pieces in order for us to figure out on our own what are the things He was REALLY sure on, the important things that are the non-negotiable?  If he was truly part of the Trinity, GOD, wouldn’t he have had a better plan than that?

Its hard to get an exact number of the types of Christian denominations out there but I’ve read anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 Christian denominations can be counted (this does not include Mormon/Jehovah’s Witnesses  and their respective splinter groups either). [Note: I think that number is so large because every Baptist church has to be counted separately since there is no unifying creed (i.e. set of beliefs) of each Baptist church and they believe different things.]

Whenever I think about this my head starts to explode a little.  [Seriously, I couldn’t even make it through this explanation of how the group that the church of my childhood came to be.]  Why did all these denominations form?  How did they form?  What issues did each group think were so important enough that they needed to break off over and create a whole new church?  Who has the authority to do this?  Is this leading us closer to or further away from “the truth”?

I’ve heard from a childhood friend that its likely that the church I went to as a kid will break off from the ELCA now as a result of last week’s vote.  So, the cycle continues.  More splintering will occur. The vote over allowing partnered gay and lesbians into ministry was that deciding factor that made people say, “No, that’s not what Jesus intended.”  How do they come to this decision?  Why was the vote of 2/3 majority of other active reverends was not enough to convince them otherwise?  If the vote had gone in their favor, would that have been enough to convince them that they were following “the truth”?

I never thought about these issues when I was at the Lutheran Church.  I remember learning about Martin Luther like he was a hero, who saved us from the oppressive Catholic Church and who taught us the real truth.  I think Lutherans in general feel that way since they are the result of one of the first major breaks, so its easy to fall into the trap and think that their changes were necessary, but not all the ones that came after.  I wonder if the decision that was made at my childhood church last week would have been made when my family attended, what we would have done.  Would we have stayed?

And then I wonder about the next generation.  If they will grow up thinking, “Remember when [insert name of guy who made final vote about partnered gay/lesbian ministers] saved us from that old, oppressive Lutheran thought?”  Who’s history will they believe?

At times like this I am especially thankful for the true Church founded by Jesus Christ himself.  We are truly blessed.

Donating your body to science

Being the true engineering nerds we are, my husband and I agreed to donate our bodies to science!


Ha, we’re actually participating in a study on natural family planning through Marquette University to determine the effectiveness of two internet based methods.  It’s pretty awesome.  No more paper charts for me!  Its a randomized stud.  One method uses the Clear Blue Easy Fertility monitor to directly measure the hormones I discussed here and the other method uses more “traditional”, secondary observations, if you get what I’m saying :)  Just to keep it interesting, I’m not going to tell you which one we got !  Heh heh.

Buy anyway, if you’re interested in postponing pregnancy for a year try out the study over here and see if you’re eligible.  It was a lot of soul searching to figure out if this was right for us but ultimately I think the amount of couples that fall under the “not trying for a baby but we’d also love to have one” category is pretty small, so we felt like we should step up.  Most people want to have absolute control over this aspect of their lives and can’t really understand that mentality.

But, if you’re not necessarily wanting to postpone for an entire year but still interested in the study?  You can also sign up for this 6 month study to give them feedback about the website and automatic fertility algorithm here.

Incidentally, that website is also really helpful with answering other basic NFP questions.

Happy (electronic) charting!

26 reasons to not be against the “Institution of Marriage”

This is first of what I hope will be many reflections on marriage and its place in our society, in part due to the experience I had at the Ruth Institute Student Conference.

Sociology of Marriage

I’ve been working on this post for a couple days, but I had a new inspiration for how to introduce this information last night.  See, just yesterday I met someone who had that strong aversion to “the institution of marriage”.  You know, the person who says “I’m hell-bent against ever getting married” or  “Marriage doesn’t really matter since its basically the same as dating”.  I’m always intrigued when I meet these people because for 1) at one point in my life I didn’t see myself married either so I can relate on some level, but also because 2) I can’t figure out someone would hate marriage itself and in its entirety or can’t see its value/difference from dating. Maybe they didn’t have the best experience with it growing up.  Maybe they saw their parents duke it out their whole life and that has made them cautious about getting into a relationship for life.  But does that mean that a rational conclusion is that marriage itself is the problem?  Why not blame the individuals?  Or the situation?  But to blame marriage, that ‘institution’ that been around longer than any of us?  It’s an interesting take to me.

So instead I find myself trying to understand the person and their experiences which usually lead to their feelings, because although marriage exists in virtually every known human society, it can be difficult to formulate an exact response for why its good for society and many times this is ineffective since people cling so tightly to their experiences they know to be true.  Also, I do believe that for a marriage to be healthy, the people entering the marriage have to understand themselves and the point of their actions first, otherwise it can  almost be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.  Fortunately we have people like Dr. Brad Wilcox compiling social science data based on many  studies (summarized in Why Marriage Matters, 2nd Edition, Institute for American Values from which I get almost all this data) which concretely conclude that marriage:

1) is an important social good, associated with positive outcomes for children and adults alike;

2) is an important public good, associated with rage of economic health, educational, and safety benefits that help all governments serve the common good; and

3) has benefits that extend to the poor and minority communities, even though it is more fragile in those communities.

Before I go into the specific results, I first want to point out the common issue in social science of “selection effects” – i.e. the idea that there are pre-existing differences between people who choose to marry, cohabit, divorce, etc.  As was stated in this summary,

“Good social science attempts to distinguish between causal relationship and mere correlations in a variety of ways.  The studies cited here are for the most part based on large, nationally representative samples that control for race, education, income, and other confounding factors….have been able to use longitudinal data to track individuals as they marry, divorce, or stay single, increasing our confidence that marriage itself matters.  Where the evidence is, in our view, overwhelming that marriage causes increases in well-being, we say so.  Where the causal pathways are not as well understood, we are more cautious. …Despite its inherent limitations, good social science is a better guide to social policy than uninformed opinion or prejudice.”

The 26 following conclusions are taken directly from the document Why Marriage Matters, headed by Dr. Bradford Wilcox, cited earlier.  I expand on a few of the points I thought were particularly interesting based on reasons the paper.  Some of these may seem like no-brainers and at parts during his presentation I definitely thought to myself, “Wow, isn’t it kind of sad that someone has to do research to prove this? Shouldn’t these results be obvious?”  But the fact is that they are needed to define and quantify, as much as possible, the benefits/side effects of marriage in order to help the Ben Affleck types who have an aversion to marriage, maybe from bad past experiences (maybe fear of #3?).   I believe that understanding that marriage is indeed a good thing in and of itself on many levels is crucial to our generation’s future well-being and happiness, regardless of how personal experiences have tainted your perceptions of it.

*Also, please note that these are based on averages and statistics, so outliers are always possible/present.  The author himself came from a single-parent home so I find it interesting how he removed his own bias-ness. The fact is that many people grow up in single/divorced parents homes and do not face these consequences, but you can’t argue with the trends that the numbers show.  Also, keep in mind that social science data is better at showing THAT something is happening rather than determining the CAUSE of why its happening.

Effects on Family

1.  Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers and mothers have good relationships with their children.

2. Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage. – Although it looks like marriage at a first glance, studies show that children of cohabiting couples have outcomes more similar to single parents than married ones.  Also, cohabiting relationship are not surprisingly less stable (50% of children from cohabiting couples see this relationship end by age 5, compared with 15% of children from married couples).  This is mostly due to selection differences since cohabiting couples generally have lower income and education, and also report relationships of lower quality, lower satisfaction, and higher conflict than married couples.  Cohabitation is different than marriage in part because Americans who choose to live together are generally less committed to each other as partners than married couples (see 2 below for more references).

3. Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents. – Daughters raised outside intact marriages are approx. 3 times more likely to become young, unwed mothers than daughters raised in intact marriages.  Remarriage is also shown to hurt even further, with emphasis to child well-being based on stability of the family home.

4.  Marriage is a virtually universal human institution.

5.  Marriage, and a normative commitment to marriage, foster high-quality relationships between adults, as well as between parents and children. – A new belief that all family structures are created equal as long as there is love in the relationship is all that matters is gaining popularity recently.  But by offering legal and normative support to direct a relationship, providing an expectation of sexual fidelity and lifelong commitment, and by furnishing a unique social status as “spouses” marriage typically fosters better romantic and parental relationships than do alternatives.  Interestingly, just valuing the institution of marriage for its own sake, makes your marriage better.  Individuals who embrace a conditional ethic to marriage are shown to be less happy in those marriages.  Its like believing is living.

6. Marriage has important bio-social consequences for adults and children. – I thought these were some of the most interesting findings. Marriage reduces men’s testosterone levels (associated with aggression, sensation seeking, and other antisocial behaviors (selection factors may play a role – i.e. men with lower testosterone may get married, cohabiting also lowers it, but marriage definitely plays a causal role in driving down testosterone).  Also, girls who grow up apart from an intact married family are significantly more likely to have early menstruation and premature sexual activity.  Girls with close, engaged relationships with their fathers have menstruation at a later age than those who lose their bio father at a young age.  Also, girls who live with an unrelated male have even earlier menstruation than those living with only their mother.  Speculations is that development is influenced by male pheromones.

Economic Effects

7.  Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers. – Even after controlling for race.  Between 1/5 and 1/3 of divorcing women end up in poverty following their divorce.

8. Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples. – Partnerships are generally more economically efficient.  Norms that encourage healthy, productive behavior and wealth accumulations (such as buying a home) also appear to play a role.  Help from grandparents is also present, while not necessarily so for cohabiting couples.

9.  Marriage reduces poverty and material hardship for disadvantaged women and their children. – In one study, mothers with low academic abilities who married saw their living standards rise about 65% higher than similar single mothers with no other adult, over 50% higher than single moths with another adult, and 20% higher than mothers cohabiting.

10.  Minorities benefit economically from marriage. – These economic benefits are not limited to whites.  Not only materially but African Americans and Latinos who are married also enjoy significantly higher levels of household equity, compared to their peers who are not married.

11. Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories. – Marriage increases earning power of men by 24% (selection effects possible factor).  Reasons not entirely clear but married men appear to have greater work commitment, more strategic approaches to job searches, healthier and more stable personal routines (including sleep, diet, and alcohol consumption).  Also, one study found that married men were more likely to quit a job only after having lined up the next, which was not as true with unmarried men.  Husbands also benefit from the work effort and emotional support of their wives.  Interestingly enough, I looked into this to see the effect on women and generally when they get married, the woman earns less on average, mostly due to the differences caused by raising children.  I will go into this topic in another post :)

12.  Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children’s risk of school failure.  – These kids are more likely to have lower grades, more likely to be held back, and more likely to drop out of high school.   The absence of a father actually affects African American children’s performance in school more than whites.

13.  Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs. – Children of divorced parents have lower occupational status and earnings and have increased rates of unemployment and economic hardship.   Less likely to attend and graduate from college, even after controlling from family background and academic achievements.

Effects on Physical Health and Longevity

14.  Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms. – Studies show that children of married parents live longer (4 years longer) even after controlling for childhood health status and family background, as well as personality characteristics such as impulsiveness and emotional instability.

15.  Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality. – On average, having an unmarried mother is associated with an approx. 50% increased in the risk of infant mortality.

16.  Marriage is associated with reduced rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teens. –Not only that but teens who parents stay married are also the least likely to experiment with tobacco or alcohol.  Pathways involved that lead to this are likely increased family stress, reduced parental monitoring, and weakened attachment to parents.

17.  Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles. – Marriage can increase you life expectancy by about as much as not smoking can. Where are those public service announcements?

18.  Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women. -Married people manage illness better, monitor each other’s health, have higher incomes and wealth, and adopt healthier lifestyles that do otherwise similar singles.  These health effects of marriage vary by martial quality, especially for women (not so much for men).  Marriages need to be of high-quality in order to get the health benefits.

19.  Marriage seems to be associated with better health among minorities and the poor.

Effects on Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being

20.  Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness. – “Divorce typically causes children considerable emotional distress and doubles the risk that they will experience psychological problems later in life.”  Seeing your parents break up can be nothing short of traumatic and foundation shaking, so this is understandable. Children of divorce are at a higher risk for depression.  This however did not appear to be correlated to a consequence of some underlying genetic predisposition towards psychological difficulty that the parents and kids share, its situational.  Twin studies to prove this.  High-conflict marriages were conflict is high and sustained, children were shown to benefit from divorce, but not from “low-conflict” (2/3 of divorces in America are low conflict).

21.  Divorce appears to increase significantly the risk of suicide.  – Both men and women are twice as likely as their married counterparts to attempt suicide.  Sad :(

22.  Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers. – Single mothers can be depressed due to burdens of child rearing alone, whereas cohabiting mothers have less confidence that their relationship will last.  [41% of single white 18-19yr old single mothers reported depressive symptoms compared to 28% of their married counterparts.] Longitudinal studies also shows that marriage boosts mental and emotional well-being for both men and women.  Focus on maternal depressions here because it is a mental health issue and risk for the children.

23.  Boys raised in single-parents families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior. – Even after controlling for factors such as race, mom’s education, neighborhood quality, etc, one study found that boys raised in single parents homes are twice as likely to commit a crime that leads to incarceration by their 30’s.

24.  Marriage appears to reduce the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime. – Single and divorced women are 4 to 5 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than married women, are TEN TIMES more likely to be raped, and 3 times more likely to be victims of aggravated assault.  Marriage also reduced male criminality.

25.  Married women appear to have a lower risk of experiencing domestic violence than do cohabiting or dating women. –Does NOT mean marriage can reform men.  Selection effects are big here since women are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce violent men.

26.  A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at a great risk for child abuse. – You see this repeatedly in studies, mostly because these children have contact with people who are not their biological parents and do not have their best interests at heart.  “One study shows that although boyfriends contribute less than 2% of non-parental childcare, they commit half of all reported child abuse by non-parents.”  Also, “young children in step-families are more than 50 times more likely to be murdered by a stepparent than by a bio parent, 40 times more likely to be sexually abused.”

Ok, so there is SO much more to this topic but I had to condense it and leave some stuff out since this post is getting ridiculously long.  Please ask for clarification where you think I could have put more and let me know if you would like any topics expanded!


2.  S.M Stanley, H.J. Markman, and S. Whitton, 2004.  “Maybe I Do: Interpersonal Commitment Levels and Premarital or Non-Marital Cohabitation.”

Susan L. Brown, 2005.  “How Cohabitation is Reshaping American Families,” Contexts 4 (3): 33-37

Wendy D. Manning and Pamela J. Smock, 2002.  “First Comes Cohabitation, Then Comes Marriage?” Journal of Family Issues 23: 1065-1087.

….I got lazy and stopped referencing too.  Let me know if you’d like to look something up!

That’s green-house gas coming out those diapers

Interesting opinion piece on the idea of equating births merely to carbon footprints.  Definitely goes against all traditional Catholic/christian thought. It reminded me of this T-shirt I saw once that said:

“I heart the pitter patter of little carbon footprints!”

Some excerpts:

“When Mr. Murtaugh runs the numbers, he finds some alarming results. Take an American woman who checks all the green boxes: She recycles, installs energy efficient windows, cuts back how much she drives, and so on. Yet simply by having two children, Prof. Murtaugh reports, she will add nearly 40 times the amount of carbon dioxide emissions she had saved with those lifestyle changes. No wonder the Los Angeles Times Web site reports on this study under the title “Tie Your Tubes and Save the Planet?””


“Little more than a week ago, two British doctors writing in the British Medical Journal made the same point—this time about British babies. Each new birth in the U.K., they note, will end up resulting in 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a new birth in Ethiopia.

Their conclusion? British couples need to be told that having one less child “is the simplest and biggest gift anyone can make” to a habitable planet. Britain, they suggest, needs to promote an “environmental ethics” where having fewer children is “analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high carbon cars.””

I’ve read articles arguing these points before but I like this conclusion and am impressed it ran in the mainstream media :)  There is hope!

“The real answer, of course, is to have a little more faith in the creative powers of human beings. Given the freedom to grow and innovate, surely the same people who have licked polio, sent a man to the moon, and given us a revolution in information will sooner or later come up with new technologies that will provide for our energy needs while being friendlier to the environment.

The task is not without its challenges. But we’re not likely to get far with a “science” that defines the problem as American babies.”

Here we go again….

Last week the paperwork on our home was progressing nicely and we were super happy to hear that the appraisal went off without a hitch!  Our new home was appraised at a value much higher than what we are paying for it.  Yay! (Mostly due to the really nice houses going up all around it balancing out the remaining ‘crack’ homes – I’m trying to get a hilarious picture that illustrates this perfectly soon).

So this was a relief to us, especially if you’ve talked to me or read about all the drama we have had with the home already, not to mention the rest with the previous 4 homes we put offers on!

So we’re flipping through the appraisal, looking for all the gory details of what the appraiser considered during his evaluation, like did he love the granite countertops? (no) the crown-molding? (no) or, was is really just all the other homes waayyyy nicer than ours? (yes) and we finally get to the picture section of the report.  Hurray!  Looking at pictures of the house and daydreaming about living there is one of my favorite pastimes (don’t judge) lately and after all, these were some new angles compared the ones I took myself!

Like here’s one of the outside of the home:


And here’s the living room again:


But when we got to the kitchen picture, we felt something was a little off.  Can you tell what it is?


Here, I know its a little difficult, so I’ll put the before/after pictures below, side-by-side:

Before Major Drama with Seller's Realtor

Before Major Drama with Seller's agent (that's our Inspector!)

After Major Drama with Seller's Realtor

After Major Drama with Seller's agent

Someone went jack mode on our fridge and stove/oven!!!

The common response when I tell someone this is, “Oh great! Now you can buy the one that you want!”  But look at them!  They’re practically brand new, stainless steel appliances!  I really would have been just fine with those.  Really.  I’m not picky.

So, now we get to solve a mystery! We don’t know who stole them (was it our best-friend, the seller’s agent who we raised heck with trying to make him not back out on our deal, including storming into his office when we wasn’t there and making his secretary cry? – I’m not proud of that – Or maybe some guys from those nearby ‘crack’ homes with the signs in the yard saying they’re not ever moving, ever, so stop coming by offering them wayyy more than their little homes are worth?)  So many characters and so many motives.  Or maybe they’re not even stolen (I keep going with the “Maybe the seller is just keeping them safe for us” line…)

But of course now we’re going to have to go through many more hoops in order to get them back, including insurance claims, etc. Assuming we can even get them back.  AND that the seller’s agent ever calls us back. [This is, of course, assuming that buying the house “as is” as we signed in our contract meant “as-is-when-we-looked-at-it-and-had-the-inspection”.  However they could meld it to mean “as-is-when-we-close-and-you-get-what-we-give-you”.  Any one have any help on this?  Can they just do this?]

I think the best part is that when Mike and I found out about this, we barely blinked an eye.  Just started laughing.  Hysterically.  Of course this would happen!

Here we go again….

August 14th – The Day That Would Never Come

August 14th has a special place in my heart for reminding me that things do happen eventually and if I’m just patient enough, things will come in their right time and place.

More specifically, August 14th, 1999.

I was in 9th grade and had just survived a move from Nebraska to Virgina a year earlier.  The sole fact that I was in middle school and middle schoolers generally have a difficult

mine had blue in it :)

mine had blue in it :)

time anywhere was probably enough to make me hate Virginia, but at that the fact that everyone thought I was a farm girl and cows roamed freely in Nebraska, I was made fun of for my way cool Saudi Arabian backpack, had to leave my new found best friend back in Nebraska, I was kicked off my Odyessy of the Mind team upon arrival in Virginia, we stopped going to church, AND I wore glasses (oh the horror!), Virginia never even had a chance.

My only saving grace was the fact that I knew we were moving soon.  The following year we got orders to Belgium.  Brussels, Belgium.  I remember having to look up where Belgium was on the map (its in Europe, I think?).  “Hmm…that seems like an odd place,” I remember thinking.  I don’t think I had any preconceived notions about Belgium.  I don’t think I’d ever even heard of it!   That didn’t matter.  All that mattered was we were moving.  Somewhere else.

And we were moving on August 14th.

For MONTHS I looked forward to that date.  But I never thought it would actually happen.  We were supposed to move cool places before, like Nevada and Italy, and that always ended up falling through.  Of course this would fall through too.   For months I couldn’t will August 14th to come fast enough.

But it eventually it did.

And that was 10 years ago.

Somehow every year on August 14th I think about little 14 year old me, waiting so impatiently.  Dragging on each day just to get that day where now life can begin.  Anyone who knows me knows how impatient I am still.  I don’t think I’ll ever completely change.  But I do try to calm it down a little and realize that eventually your August 14th does come.  Whether its the date for your wedding that you’ve been looking forward to your whole life, a move (into a new house), a graduation (from the never-ending graduate degree) or the time to begin the next phase of your life, your August 14th it really will come.

And before you know it, you’ll be looking back 10 years later and think,

Wow.  If I knew August 14th was going to come to quickly, what else could I have been doing in the meantime?

***Interestingly enough, I also remember arriving in Belgium on August 15th, discovering that we couldn’t do anything because everything was closed.  I didn’t get why at the time, but years later I discovered that its the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Makes me think that such a memorable day in my life is also one of the most holy days in the Roman Catholic Church is just too much to just be a coincidence… ***

Take 7 (3)


I’m up doing quick-takes at this hour because my husband and I have developed an extremely bad habit of pushing the snooze on the alarm clock for the requisite 2 hours before it finally gives up on us and stops….and we keep sleeping.  Seriously, when I wake up at 10:30am and realize that my alarm clock went off 4 hours ago I get this sinking feeling in my stomach like I’m totally worthless and it carries with me all day.  Waking up at 10:30am and getting to work at 11:30am would be cool if it didn’t mean that our entire day shifts into the evening hours.

Oh yes and I do blame this schedule entirely on traveling over the weekend, as well as a firm lack of willpower.  Mike’s mom mentioned past weekend how hard traveling on the weekends must be and yes, I do agree with her that it is hard to get back into the swing of things after having your schedule messed up.  But its worth it!


Speaking of worth it, while we were in San Diego at the Marriage Conference (I promise, overwhelming, life-changing knowledge still coming…) Mike’s ENTIRE family drove down to meet us and hang out together.  We all stayed in one hotel room (yes, 8 adults, 2 beds, a blowup mattress, and mike and I on the floor and couch, respectively) and it was nothing short of glorious.  Yay for unbreakable family bonds!  Now if everyone would just stop ragging on Texas (and Brazil!) we’d be fine, eh?  :)


I have experience baby name stealing.

What’s worse, is I always laughed at girls that got upset when someone “stole their baby name”.

Until I had it happen to me.  And now I am devastated.

(And, for the record – not pregnant)

Emily, you know the name.  Only you and Mike are aware of my deep, dark, desire to name my future child _ _ _ _ _ .  Please keep it a secret though since it still might be salvagable .

I will never laugh at another girl again.


We found out our house is already in the underwriting stage, which I’m told is one step closer to the “ours” stage!  I’m already looking for used-yet-nice furniture on Craigslist.  Maybe we’ll get lucky!


I really need to figure out how to adhere a polysulfone support layer to a gold quartz crystal so that I can begin my QCM-d adsorption experiments.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know :)


I was reading a old Family Foundations magazine and I found an article where a man detailed his budget of $44K a year that he supports his wife and 6 children on.  Wow.  And they tithe 10%.   Kind of crazy to realize that on about what Mike and I make as graduate students we could be supporting an entire family (granted, there would be no weekend excursions).  It was also good to know that God will provide and while its good to worry about how to support your family, a little faith and thriftiness goes a long way too.  Also, I used to think we were doing good with out 5% tithe but I’m realizing that its about time we bump that up too….


While I’m getting really excited about our new home, a part of me is a little sad that we won’t have more of a yard.  I know that this will be a secret blessing since we ultimately plan to rent it out and the people that we would likely rent to wouldn’t want a yard, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic for the garden that I never had.  That is, until my friend Elizabeth introduced me to square-foot gardening!  “I can do THAT!”  What do you think?  Do I have enough room?  I joke with Mike that I literally want to cut the grass with a pair of scissors.

square foot yard

More Quick Takes and good reads at Conversation Diary!

More than a “Friendship Certificate!”

Before I write the series on marriage, I first wanted to shed light on the current popular perspective on marriage by doing a little movie analysis in light of what I learned this past weekend on a movie that you may remember from a while back, “He’s Just Not That Into You”.


When I saw this movie last week I realized what a good place it was to start looking at the modern perspective on marriage, especially since the movie is based on a dating advice book that should eventually lead you to marriage, right?  And while I do understand that the movie is meant to be a fluffy chick-flick, I think it should still have relevant social commentary on the topic of dating/marriage.  What I saw instead made me feel like I was the only one out there in crazy land!

Incidentally, I have read much of the original book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (as it was left in our lab by my undergrad – thanks Candace! – and it takes 20 minutes to collect a sample, the perfect amount of time to read a few chapters!) and the movie matches for the most part with the book.  The movie intertwines a few plot lines (much like ove, Actually) of different characters each playing out their own scenarios from different chapters in the book, illustrating for us the different “He’s just not into because….” reasons (things like, because he doesn’t call you back or because he’s still with his wife,etc.).

He's Just Not That Into You

For the most part the stories are cute but interesting, however there was one thing that stuck out to me.  Ben Affleck’s character and Jennifer Aniston’s character have been dating (and living together, I might add) for 7 years.  JA’s character gets a phone call one night about how her little sister is engaged and getting married to which BA’s character says “Oh that’s great!” to which JA’s character (naturally) responds “Why is that great for them and not for us? Don’t you think we’re going against nature or something by not getting married too?” (slightly paraphrased).  Here’s what BA’s character says in response:

“You have a lot of girlfriends that you’ve had for life, right? Best friends that you’d do anything for and they’d do the same, but you wouldn’t go down to the courthouse and pay $45 for a ‘friendship certificate’ with them, would you? Of course not, so why should marriage be anything different?”

Ok, that was definitely paraphrased some more (forgive me, I already took the movie back!) and he goes on to say that people who get married are just insecure who overcompensate by sharing their feelings with the world. SO, to that pitiful explanation, JA’s character actually AGREES.  She AGREES people!  Even though she an inclination that they’re literally going against nature by living together and not getting married she accepts the idea that marriage is no more important than a platonic relationship with your best friends. Seriously?  Never mind the fact that you are intimate with your husband and that two opposite sexed people living and sleeping together could spontaneously create another life with needs and wants completely separate from their own.  They both (or mainly him) view their sexual relationship as no different than a casual friendship.

This is the type of mentality that has marriage on the decline everywhere and self-destructing, if it ever gets off the ground in the first place.

I wish the movie would have developed BA’s character further, since there is no background given or reason for why he views marriage and “truly doesn’t believe in that institution”.  Unfortunately, I can think of many men in my life (not so much on the women, though – wonder why?) who believe the same thing, either that marriage is outdated or is unnecessary to define a relationship between a couple.  I think we could learn a lot from BA’s character and maybe understand the decline.    Instead I’ll just have to settle for showing why we all SHOULD believe in marriage :)

In another post of course…

Enlightening Weekend!

Hello again! We’re back from a very long and eventful weekend and I have SO much to share here.   I am very excited about it all!  Any feelings of trepidation were taken away this past weekend as I saw that I am not alone in my views and that there is an entire community out there trying to be heard, with extremely good research on their side to back it all up with.  Hopefully I can be a voice to this view and share with others so that each person can understand for themselves the effect that marriage has on our society and why we must do what it takes to preserve it.  I met some very intelligent people doing great work and I had not realized how much I was missing by not having this supportive community around me all the time.  So it was a great time and I’m inspired to share with those around me (in blog-land and real life!).

Also, we had a reunion of Mike’s ENTIRE family and as his mom aptly put it “We always make it happen, huh?”  YES they DO!  It was a great 36-hrs that I know was hard to come by but oh, so worth it :)  It went by so quickly though I didn’t even bother to waste time behind the camera!

Anyway, I plan to write up all that I learned in my own words with references to great sources so hopefully that will start up this week.  It might take a while to put it together effectively but I promise I am still here!

I have a new name…

…and its Auntie Ali!!  I’m literally the most thrilled person on earth, maybe apart from my sister and her husband, who welcomed this little bundle of joy into the world (officially) yesterday afternoon.  I cannot wait to meet him come next weekend.


Mitchell Alan, Born August 4th, 2009

It looks like he has his beautiful mother’s beautiful hair!