July 2, 2017

We Try, We Fail. We Try Again

Have you ever heard the annoying phrase, "We plan, and God laughs?"

I find it annoying, because the older you get in life, the more important your plans are. Maybe in high school it was slightly comical when your daydreams didn't become reality, but when you get into your thirties, plans become pretty essential.

Plans to get married, plans to have kids, plans to give your children a certain life. Plans to become the people you have looked up to for years. Plans to avoid the habits you detested in others.

And then God 'laughs.'

You work so hard for something. Night and day you toil and try. Then, the thing turns to dust. A pregnancy is lost. A marriage vow breaks. A job is dissolved. Maybe the thing wasn't your fault, maybe the loss was completely out of your control: A spouse cheats. Or, maybe you just were not as strong as you thought you were. The weight you wanted to carry broke your shoulders: You became depressed.

The idea that God 'blesses' some with the plans they wanted, and 'laughs' at the heartache of others is crushing. Fortunately, it's also not true. Those with a seemingly perfect life are not 'blessed' with everything they ever hoped for. Those that struggle are not lacking in anyway. We are humans, living in a broken world, striving for heaven. Heaven has nothing to do with us achieving our plans on Earth.

We try. We fail. We ask forgiveness, and forgive others in return. The cycle of our hard work is more important than the actual success of our planning. The cycle is what will ultimately bring us closer to, or far away from God. Strength is not measured in worldly success, but in our ability to keep walking towards God. We are successful when we continue towards holiness, even when our path is hard, rocky, or full of thorns.

So, be brave, blessed little strugglers. To those broken by broken plans, do not loose hope: God is not laughing, He is growing in you. Keep your focus towards Christ, look to Him for strength, and always remember our ultimate plan should be eternal life with Him.

June 23, 2016

Camping with Kids

The first heat wave of Summer smacked us in the face last week. 
Temperatures were well into the 100s.

My kids like dirt.
Welcome to camping season 2016.

Our family started camping years ago as a way to celebrate my husband's birthday. That first camping trip was a surprise for him, so I put the responsibility for planning the trip all onto myself, my infant son, and toddler daughter. I employed my hiker/camper/backpacker/explorer brother for advice. My second source of information was Pinterest.


After multiple phone conversations and many, many pins, I felt ready to take my family into the forest for a weekend of fun.

Not the forest, but a view of the Watchman in Zion National Park

Our first camping trip was awesome. Our kids (who spend most of their time playing in our condo) needed unlimited access to dirt and bugs and all things kids. My husband needed a 'no signal' message on his work phone.

We not only survived, we thrived. Camping is now a family tradition and our main source of vacation adventure.

Toddler backpacks are amazing.

Camping was made very accessible by our local REI. We rented tents, sleeping pads, and stoves until we were committed to purchasing our own. The employees there were always helpful, friendly, and encouraging. We quickly hit an REI Garage Sale and purchased our own camping palace: The Kingdom 8. We set up our tent for the first time in their parking lot, with an employee providing direction whenever we strayed.

See that stuff pocket way at the top?
It's perfect for keeping things away from the kids.

I love sharing our camping adventures with friends. The most common questions I get asked is: Isn't that A LOT of work? Wouldn't it be easier to go without the kids? Is it safe to bring a baby camping? Do you sleep in a tent?

Did I mention she likes dirt?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. AND it's worth it. My kids are growing up in a virtual, touch screen world. Camping for a weekend gives them a needed break from screens and a much needed dose of dirt. 
Our next adventure is Sequoia/Kings Canyon,.

Add string lights for ease of nighttime stuff searching.

Let's Go Camping.

October 10, 2015

Job Application: Stay at Home Mom



I've come to the decision that it is time to re-enter the workforce.

This decision is about three years in the making. I had never planned on being a stay at home mom, but when the opportunity presented itself as a win win situation, I took it. We have talked on and off again about me returning to work over the years. It never seemed like the right time, but for multiple reasons I think the time has finally come.

I've been swimming in the job seeking world for a few months now. It seems like an entire course could be taught on how to apply for a job. You need to know where to look, how to decipher job descriptions, how to correctly complete an application for each company, and how to compile a 'correct' resume and cover letter.

I'm sure I will look back at my stay at home mommy days and reminisce if this all works out. With that in mind, I present my current job description:

Disclaimer: To any fellow parents out there, I just want to state that I don't think being a 'working parent' is any less difficult or involved. We are all 'full time parents' trying to get it done! But.. with that in mind...

Title: Stay at Home Parent
Status: Full time 
Location: Varies, travel required


Position Summary:
The stay at home parent will be the primary caretaker of any and all children within the family. They will be responsible for the general well being of the house, as well as cooking, cleaning, and shopping duties. The stay at home parent will work under the direct guidance of God, and will work closely with their spouse on all matters related to home and children.

Qualifications and Requirements: 
- General knowledge of child development, especially as it pertains to meeting developmental goals by scheduled doctor's visits.
- General knowledge of first aid. CPR certification is preferred. Experience performing the Heimlich Procedure is ideal.
- General knowledge of all childhood diseases. Ability to differentiate the need to go to the pediatrician is a plus.
- Ability to multitask effectively and prioritize tasks efficiently under duress.
- General accounting skills. Good credit history is a plus.
- Ability to stand, run, lift, and tackle as needed. Good eyesight and hearing is preferred. The stay at home parent is an equal opportunity employer.
- Ability to work under pressure with varying work environments.
- Ability to cook quick, delicious, and cost effective meals. Experience on the TV show 'Chopped' is a plus.
- General knowledge of sweeping, moping, vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing with an emphasis in disinfecting.
- Ability to work independently and with spouse is necessary.
- Ability to drive under extreme pressure and distraction.
- Ability to communicate effectively with spouse on all mentioned items.
- Other duties as assigned.

Education:
- General life experience required. Medical degree preferred.

Schedule: 
6am-8pm. Must be available to work nights, weekend, holidays, and overtime. Must schedule any time off with spouse. Schedule conflicts must be resolved using 'rock, paper, scissors.'




September 1, 2014

Our First Camping Trip



I have explored San Diego from many view points: from the air when landing at Lindbergh Field, from the underground cave in La Jolla, from a high rise in Down Town, and I can finally say I've seen it through the mesh of a tent. Our family attempted and succeeded at our first camping trip with a toddler and an infant. Not only did we survive, we thrived. It was enjoyable from beginning to end. I intended the trip to be a trial run of camping, and a way to test our children and their tolerance for bugs, dirt, and s'mores. They were pretty OK with it all.

We decided to head to Observatory Campground (located in the Cleveland National Forest), which includes amenities such as flushing toilets, coin showers, and, most importantly, a breathtaking view of the San Diego night sky. The stars at night were so numerous it seemed as if the whole sky was glowing in bright patches. It is easy to forget the amount of stars that exist beyond the light and air pollution of the city.

The trip must have been blessed by all of our guardian angels, because nothing seemed to go wrong. I prepared for the trip like any other major life event: finding list-based camping blogs on Pintrest, and creating my own spreadsheet to keep organized. The amount of stuff we brought for one over-night trip seemed ridiculous both in theory and in practice, but once we arrived at our campsite it all seemed to fit together to make the whole camping in comfort or 'glamping' experience go as smooth as possible when caring for two young children (one recently potty trained).  Among the stuffs brought was a small potty for the toddler, a pack-n-play for the baby, plenty of glow jewelry for night time fun and safety, and lots of food capable of cooking over a fire. Wipes also. Did I mention wipes? Baby wipes. Bring baby wipes.

After reading three or four articles with titles such as, "Surviving Camping with Kids," the suggestions of items to pack started to overlap, and at that time I felt as though my research was coming to a natural end. Thank goodness for those articles. I would have never thought to have lollipops in my pockets during hikes to instantly end meltdowns. Sometimes the "we are going to sit here until you decide to listen to us" method just does not work in certain situations.

Although the research I did was irreplaceably helpful, almost all blogs and articles seemed to leave out what I think are two extremely valuable tips. The first is to have a goal for your camping adventure. Why are you going on this trip? Is it to disconnect from your phone and internet? Maybe you are looking for a way to spend quality time with your family, or even just to test your limits. Whatever the goal is, keep it in mind as a motivator to have a great camping experience. We went camping because we wanted to have fun together. We all came together to have a good time, and made decisions to keep that goal alive. Flexibility and a good attitude are key here. I'm not ashamed to say an iPad was among the stuffs we brought and used. I'm also quite OK that our breakfast ended with some s'mores. Once all safety issues were secured, we relaxed and just enjoyed each other and our surroundings.

My second suggestion would be to have a plan for re-entry. On the drive back to civilization, we stopped for some barista-served coffee and discussed how we were all going to get showered, dressed, and unpacked. I think it is necessary to take a well deserved hot shower and put on some nice, clean cloths after a camping trip. Even my toddler, whom only hours before declared she was ready to make the tent her new home, agreed with a smile that her warm bubble bath was pretty nice. Within an hour of walking into our front door we had all persons washed and dressed. We were also tossing load after load of laundry into the wash and getting gear wiped down and ready for storage. It was the icing on the camping-cake to be able to relax that night knowing the house was clean and all of our things put away.

Our weekend was so successful we are already planning our next trip. What other part of San Diego will we venture to? As long as it has a spot for a tent... as well as a toddler potty... we are good to go.


Please visit my Pinterest board at http://www.pinterest.com/katieglina/camping/ 
for a list of helpful camping pins.

August 23, 2014

Marriage for Sinners

What do you think of when imagining a perfect marriage? One that has past the test of time, with both husband and wife happy always, smiling constantly in public, and never seen arguing or cross with each other? This is what most people want when starting a marriage, a life of happily ever after, as seen in most romantic movies. This is not necessarily the case though. A perfect marriage might include arguments, frowns, and tears. It might take time for the two to join together as one working unit. Disney movies don't include this fact in most of their love stories: Marriage is a sacrament where two sinners come together to grow closer to God.

I think most people have heard of the 'honeymoon' phase of marriage. The first few weeks, months, or years where life feels like a fairy tale. It seems like most people also know that this phase tends to pass, but what we hear less about is the phases that follow, and why we go through phases at all.

Many religious and secular sources acknowledge the changing phases in marriage, even if they vary slightly in their descriptions. For this post though, I will be referring to the stages as described here. Many secular websites I have seen tend to use a negative viewpoint on the changes in marriage, and basically make it sound like marriage sucks most of the years the couple are together, specifically the child years, and that marriage is not enjoyable until after the children leave and the couple can be together again. The link I shared from foryourmarriage.org gives a much more positive light. I think it is because, being a Catholic website, it understands the true meaning of marriage, and the purpose it is supposed to bring about.

Marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic church. Sacraments are 'signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body. The purpose of sacraments are to sanctify men (Catechism of the Catholic Church).'

If marriage is a sacrament, and if sacraments are meant to sanctify, then by it's nature marriage will change the people involved. If the couple is letting the marriage work in their relationship, they will grow. Growth is hard work. It takes humility to see problems within yourself, and even more humility to let God work through another human to get rid of those problems and grow up. The couple may also grow at different paces, causing even more hardships.

I often see arguments as failure. Something didn't go right, and because of that an argument happened. Someone wasn't being humble. Someone wasn't being understanding. Someone was being selfish. I'm starting to think that arguments themselves are not the issue. The important part is how gracefully we act before, during, and after an argument. We are all imperfect sinners, or else we wouldn't need the sacrament of marriage. We are all going to mess up and stumble at some point. The goal is that spouses are understanding of this and are Christ-like in their reactions to the fall: They love each other unconditionally, even in the face of a mistake. They are there not to point fingers and to place blame, but to offer help, support, and forgiveness.

We marry because we love each other, we want to spend the rest of our lives together, and because we want to grow close to God together. All three aspects need to be present in a successful marriage no matter what stage we are in. A perfect marriage is one where we change from sinners into saints together as a couple. Is there any fairy tale with a sweeter ending than that? In the wisdom and words of my toddler, "I don't fink so Mommy."



August 14, 2014

Long Days and Cooking

Last week was long. Husband was working long hours at work, and I long hours at home. I learned today that the next few weeks are going to be similar, without a break in the near future. I can feel my tolerance dropping, and to reserve energy, I have been putting off projects to be able to focus on getting through each day. After a twelve hour day doing what seems like everything, nothing tangible can be felt by 9pm. It came to a peak this afternoon when I found myself spending a blessed hour of both kids napping at the same time (miracle!) checking Facebook. Again. I tossed down my phone, realized I was hungry, and started cooking.

Within minutes of boiling water, I felt better. Chopping increased, and blood pressure decreased. After about 30 minutes of work, I had two very humble meals of veggie tacos and spaghetti. It wasn't award winning, but it was good.

Something happens when we live in a virtual world. At most desk jobs, all work is done via computer, and can't be seen once the laptop is closed. Payment for the day's work goes via direct deposit into the bank, and is accessed by a debit card. Driving home in an automatic car, arriving at home, and for some reason being too exhausted to do anything more than watch TV. It is a spiral effect, causing the mood and energy to decrease together.

How do we break out of the virtual world? Out of survival mode, and into reality? By doing work with our hands. The results of building, cooking, painting, and other hobby type activities can be seen instantly, and don't go away if the power suddenly goes out. It is probably the same reason my toddler can be playing a puzzle game on the computer, and end end acting emotional and frustrated, while a different day do an actual puzzle, and walk away happy.

I cleaned as I cooked, and walked away from a clean kitchen and a full refrigerator. Doing something with my hands (In silence...) was so much more revitalizing than taking a nap, or spending more time on social media. I hope this post will be at least a personal reminder that when things get tough, get up and make something good.

July 20, 2014

Ages, Stages, and Babies in Apartment Spaces

When my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child, we were elated. We were so excited to start a new chapter and had always wanted to welcome a child early into our marriage. I came home from work the day I found out, and walked into our 600sf, one bedroom apartment.

It hit me like a slap in the face: we needed to upgrade.

I put a lot of pressure onto my husband to agree with my 'need' to move into a two bedroom. I wanted the experience of decorating a nursery. Where would the baby's cloths and toys go? Where will the crib go without a nursery? How would we pick a baby theme and color if there was no space to coordinate?

Looking back, I wish I would have calmed down. I wish I would have just been joyous to have an apartment in such a nice area of San Diego. But I, like many parents before me, got sucked into what I will henceforth refer to as the Babies R Us Vortex, or BRUV for short.

As it turns out, babies don't need their own bedroom. They don't need their own closet. They don't need a swing, bouncy chair, two strollers, a garage, an SUV, their own blender, and whatever else the employees at the BRUV insist you add to your registry. Do these things help with taking care of an infant? Sometimes, but there are quite a few examples of 'must have' baby items that are quickly recalled, or deeply criticized by pediatricians and developmental specialists. In my first ever list-oriented blog post, I'd like to outline a few ways that you can reduce the impact of baby items, which will reduce clutter in your space hopefully making apartment life with a baby much more pleasant.

1. Baby Gyms- I used a baby gym for both of my kids. It provides a cute place for baby to play, but a blanket on the floor does about the same thing. Gyms also have activities to keep babies entertained while lying on their backs, which isn't the desired position for baby to be spending their awake time. The blanket on the floor alternative can be made even more apartment friendly if it is a blanket that can be 'stored' as a couch throw when baby is not using it.

2. Toy chests- A hollow bench or couch ottoman is a much more apartment friendly way to store baby toys and necessities (like diapers).

3. Nursery- This is the biggest hurdle to jump. You do not need a baby nursery. Staying in a smaller living space as long as possible allows more time to save up for future goals. Also, having a smaller apartment means less time spent cleaning. I could literally clean our entire one bedroom apartment in an hour. Getting around the nursery is pretty obvious: set up a sleeping space for the baby in your room. It is honestly ideal to have baby in the same room, because the baby will be waking frequently at night. Having the baby close to you will allow everyone to sleep better.

4. A bounce seat and a swing- Having a safe, comfy place for the baby sit while you take care of yourself (shower, eat, use the restroom) is very helpful. Pick one, not both. We got thru two babies (one with colic) with one bounce seat, and no swings. We also still don't own a rocking chair. The swivel chair in the office works nicely.

3. Multiple strollers- Someone will recommend to you that you need multiple strollers: A snap-n-go, a full sized, and an umbrella stroller. Having that perfect stroller to fit your specific travel goal for the day would be awesome. But where are you going to put your strollerssssssssss? Do all three fit in the trunk of your car? If not, getting one multi-purpose stroller that grows with your child will save you space in the end.

The most important thing to remember is that babies grow... they will grow out of their crib, out of their swing, out of their cloths. Every time you buy something for your baby, ask yourself, "Where will this go when the baby grows out of it?" This was the most logical way for us to decide what to buy for baby when we were living in an apartment (that didn't have storage space). It's also important to remember that you have to live in your apartment too. An apartment cluttered with baby items starts to look more like a daycare center, and less like a home for both babies and adults.