Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude

"In  all created things, discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks." (St. Teresa of Avila) Though Thanksgiving has passed, in the busyness of preperations, we often forget the reason for this holiday. Even though it is a secular holiday, we can turn to our Creator and be thankful to He who created us out of pure love. How do we remain in gratitude when it seems we have nothing to be thankful for? How do we remain thankful during a time when consumerism attempts to place itself above all things including God and family? Let us take a closer look at the virtue of gratitude.
Gratitude is expressing appreciation to someone for words and actions and stems from true humility. The very sacrament of Eucharist means "giving thanks." We can be grateful to our parents for raising and caring for us. We can be grateful to our children for making us grow in selflessness and all the gifts of joy they have brought us. Most importantly, we must be grateful to God from whom all good things come. God has given us everything and everything good we have comes from God. How important, then, is it to give Him thanks?
Personally, I have much to be thankful for. I encourage you to make a list of your own things in life that you're grateful for. I'm grateful for my faith and the Sacraments, family, health, life, home, education, hobbies and talents. I could go on! I have so much to be thankful for. For me it is especially important to give God thanks constantly because I can easily point out what I do not have that I wish I did. For example, I would love to have a house like my parents have for my son to live in and run around instead of a one bedroom apartment. Aready God is showing me His love and providence. I was not going to buy any presents for my son this year for Christmas. Make him a couple things, and I had one leftover from last year. Last week, though, my husband received a Babies R Us gift card which will now be used to buy at least one nice gift for my son. That one small act has given me such joy that my son I'm sure will not even understand. I am grateful to the person who gave my husband the giftcard and to God for constantly shaming me in my despair.
With Black Friday ever encroaching on Thanksgiving, it can be hard to remember that the importance of gratitude is not in wishing for more but rather being content where we are. Even though I would like a house, I am very happy with our sizable apartment. I really am. So as the shopping season comes into full swing, you can maintain humility in a number of ways. Do not be attached to certain gifts. If you can only afford a certain amount, do not spend more than that. Your children will have a great Christmas as long as the gifts are thoughtful whether or not the number beneath the tree are large or small. A great way to show gratitude at Christmastime to those you love is handmade gifts. Those are certainly going to dominate my gift giving this year. Handmade gifts are growing in popularity. As popular as they are, they still feel countercultural. With enough thought and effort, handmade gifts can express great love to the important people in your life for less money than anything bought could have. Another way is prayer. Advent is a time of prayerful preperation and anticipation of the coming of Christ. As long as we pray every day and attend mass on Sundays, ingratitude will hopefully be far from our hearts. 
There are times when it seems we have nothing to be thankful for, even this time of year. Maybe you're out of a job, you've lost a close family member, or anything else that makes this time of year especially difficult. It is important to feel sorrow if there is a reason to. In those times of sorrow, however, we must not dwell in despair but rather turn to God and Our Lady for comfort. We must offer up to Christ on the cross our own crosses and pains. We can pray to receive what we need. Even in times of sorrow, though, we still have things we can thank God for. Each day, whether easy or challenging, is a day to be thankful for. We can even be thankful for the sorrowful times because they give us an opportunity to grow closer to God. Whatever is going on in your life, it is imporant to take a step back to see what you can be grateful for. 
Gratitude is a virtue. Like all virtues, it must be consciously cultivated and prayed about. Through humility and love we can give God thanksgiving all days of our life most especially on Thanksgiving and during Advent. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Debunking the Catholic Vegan Myth

When I first told my husband, then fiance, that I wanted to be vegan, he freaked out on me. He criticized me and became very hostile. I explained to him that I was a vegetarian for a long time before I stopped and after doing some more research, I just couldn't in good conscience continue eating meat. My husband later admitted that one reason he freaked out is because the only vegans he had ever met were mean and judgmental. I asked him if I was mean and judgmental, he said, "No," so I asked why changing my diet would change that about me, and he had no response. This is not a commentary on my husband, but he represents a group of Catholics out there who may oppose being vegan or vegetarian because of all the negative ideas the vegan community represents. It seems to me that the idea of veganism is tied very closely to New Age philosophy which I do not support. I try not to associate myself with anything religiously or philosophically questionable, so I would like to explain how a person can be Catholic and can be vegan.
Yes, yes, I know we are designed to eat meat. Yes, yes, I know God gave Moses the animals and Peter was told that all animals are clean. (My Ignatian Catholic Study Bible, by the way, says that it was an allegory of the Old Law being abolished in Christ and that Gentiles were welcome into Christianity.) So how can I justify not eating meat? Well, also in Genesis, man was given dominion over animals. Unlike most vegans, the actual eating of meat does not offend me. It does gross me out a little, though, you can ask my husband. The actual idea of it though, I find acceptable. What dominion means is caring for the earth and using (not abusing) her resources. You cannot find a faithful Catholic that would say animal abuse is holy. In fact, grave animal abuse is considered a grave sin. See CCC 2457. The main reason I decided to become vegan was to relieve the suffering of the animals. Yes, the cows and pigs on your plate most likely suffered in some way before they were killed. I will not go into details, I encourage you to do your own research. For this reason, I support grass fed beef and local farms ethically raise their pigs and chickens. Meat that comes from well treated animals is more expensive and more delicious, but that's why I encourage people to spend their money on good meat and then eat less of it. A mostly vegetarian diet.
If the animals don't die to make milk or eggs, why not eat those? Again, it's the suffering. Mother cow and calf are constantly separated and calves often sent to be made into veal. With egg-laying chickens, well, again without details they suffer pretty horrifically, and to be honest, neither are really necessary. We find a woman's milk grotesque to drink, but we have no problem taking it out of a cow? Where's the logic in that? Cow's milk is for baby cows and Mom's milk is for baby humans. My friends ask me that if I owned a chicken, would I eat her eggs? My response is if I liked eggs, then yes, I would. But I hate eggs anyways and can bake just as well without them, so I have zero desire to ever consume an egg again. As far as ethical substitutes, I there is grass fed cow milk on the market, and I read that because of the cow's larger variety in diet, the milk's taste changes. For eggs, I have found the best option that my husband buys is American Humane Certified. We buy them at Target, but I have seen them at Safeway. They are more expensive, but my response is to just eat fewer eggs.
Aren't people more important than animals? ABSOLUTELY. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states that even though it is important to be respectful of animals, it is a mistake to treat them more importantly than we treat people. (2418) This is why I spend more time protesting abortion than protesting CAFOs. The advantage to being vegan or to being mostly vegan, is that we can still serve humans while maintaining the dignity of animals. This is why I truly consider myself pro-life because I place human life first but I also remember our animal companions.
My son and a vegan raspberry sorbet we shared at a very expensive restaurant in Disneyland celebrating his 1st birthday. The chef came out and had a satisfying vegan meal on hand for us.
What about fasting? Yes, well, this does bring about a dilemma every year around Lent and St. Phillip's fast. The way I observe fasting for now is that I abstain from caffeine on days when everyone else is abstaining from meat. What I will most likely do with my kids is on days meant to fast, we will abstain from anything with added sugar such as desserts and soda. (Although hopefully the soda thing won't really be an issue) As a Catholic, I know we have seasons of the year, and it is important to observe those seasons, so I just find my own way to do extra penance. (Because believe me, being vegan is penance.)
Another piece of resistance I have met that surprised me the most is turning food into a "god." That by having a particular diet, I obsess with food. I admit, at first, I read a lot of labels. I encourage you to do that whether or not you have a particular diet. But someone who has a lactose, nut, or gluten allergy has to read labels too, right? Does that mean they're turning food into a god? No, it means they're trying not to get sick or die. How do you balance maintaining a diet and not turning your diet into a god? Pray about it, for one thing. I still pray about being vegan. About whether or not it is the right choice for me. My spiritual adviser encourages it, so I'm not going to question him. Now that I know what's vegan and what's not, I'm not so scrupulous about labels anymore. As far as attending parties and such, I let the host know I'm vegan, and if I can't be accommodated I eat beforehand or bring something for myself. When I host a party, I like to accommodate special diets too, so I don't feel bad just letting the host know. I got into a huge fight with my husband and my dad about whether or not our wedding cake should be vegan. It did end up being vegan and nobody noticed. Now, if you practice a mostly vegan diet, and you're going over to someone's house for a meal, you can plan that as one of your few meat meals for the week. The Catechism also talks about maintaining physical health as a good as long as it does not interfere with the common good. (CCC 2288) If your diet turns you into a mean person or endangers you for whatever reason,  probably should rethink that. It is important, however, to maintain a healthy diet out of respect for yourself, your loved ones, and most importantly the Creator. What may seem like to some scrupulosity, to me is just life. I don't feel like I obsess. I have my vegan cookbooks, food blogs, etc, and I work from there like any other family would.
Sweetpea bakery in Portland, OR (vegan)
So, I have presented appropriate substitutions for eating meat. Why do I not then adopt those? Mostly personal reasons. I really don't like killing animals even though I see how acceptable it is. I like being vegan. I really do. I love trying new vegan recipes and restaurants. I'm a vegan food blog junkie. I think my largest Pinterest board is my Vegan Food board. I do encourage my husband to eat appropriate substitutes, and my parents buy grass fed beef. And even though I have presented ideas on how to eat more expensive meat, it plain tastes better. During my brief non-vegetarian period in college, I ate some of my parents' grass fed beef, and it was way better than the regular stuff. Made me not dislike hamburgers so much. In California, we have In-n-Out which serves grass fed beef. Even during my non-vegetarian phase, I would eat veggie burgers except at In-n-Out. They are so delish! So why not eat them? Of the very few meat foods that do tempt me, In-n-Out is one of them. Even though I know it's ok, I just don't really want to. I'm perfectly happy eating my veggie burger. Plus, the idea of eating a dead cows is a little gross to me. I know many of you are unwilling to surrender your meat, but maybe consider where you can cut back on meat. Have beans for breakfast instead of beacon. (Don't worry, you can put your beacon on your salad with dinner.) Have a hummus wrap instead of a turkey sandwich for lunch. Your health will be better off too!
For further research I encourage you to see the movie Food, Inc. and read Dominion by Matthew Scully and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Prayer in the Quiet and in the Noise

Teresa of Ávila by Francois Gerard (1770−1837)
My junior year of high school, for my Spanish class, we had to do a biographical puppet show in Spanish on a famous Spanish-speaker. Having hosted a Spanish exchange student, that summer, I looked into female Spanish saints I could do. I ended up doing St. Teresa of Avila. Yes, I made a puppet of St. Teresa of Avila and wrote a speech for her to give on her life in Spanish. It wasn't bad. Later in my junior year of college, I attempted to read her book Interior Castle. Yeah, that pretty much went over my head. I'm going to try reading a commentary on it before I attempt it again.
During my engagement, I explored more deeply different spiritualities among the Catholic faith, and I found refuge among St. Teresa, St. Therese, and the Carmelites. Their quiet spirituality inspired me to become a Stay-at-Home-Mom. I grew a deep friendship with St. Terese through her book Story of a Soul which I will discuss at a later time. For now, I would like to discuss the first Carmelite I met.
My favorite story of St. Teresa was when she was five, she convinced her brother to accompany her to be martyred at the hands of Moors. Fortunately, her uncle found them outside the town walls and escorted them home. She reminds me of my grandma who, not so piously, during the Great Depression tried to convince her brother to shout "Boo Hoover" while they were out on the town as children. That spirit of mischief my grandmother and St. Teresa de Avila had in common. Though I myself would hope my children would not run off to be martyrs, I do hope my children live lives of piety with joyful spirits. And maybe a little mischief.
Another of my favorite stories of hers is when she had her visions, many of her friends ridiculed her and gossiped about her, thinking she was mentally ill or possessed by the Devil. Jesus' response to her complaints was "Teresa, that's how I treat my friends." She responded, "No wonder you have so few." This is a great reminder that the road with Christ is not an easy one, but we know it's the right one.
What are lessons that we moms can learn from Teresa? Well, Teresa spent most of her life struggling with illness, spending time in meditation and prayer, and reforming the Carmelite order. Let's focus on each of these individually in the context of motherhood.
Any one of us could be struck by illness or any other hardship. Teresa de Avila's illness was so severe, she was paralyzed for years. What if that were to happen to us? With all that is involved in running a household, I cannot imagine being bed-ridden. I would be so sad not to be able to play with my little boy like I can now. When we face a severe illness that may even take our life, we must place all our trust in God and be thankful for all that we have. We must not lose hope. All that we have belongs to God, and He can take it back when He so desires. As mothers, healthy or not, we must remember to appreciate every moment and trust in God no matter the struggles we may face.
I know for me, spending time meditating and praying is a necessity I wish I could afford more of. The semester before I became pregnant with my son, my husband and I took a weekly workshop at a local parish on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises which required an hour of daily meditation. I spent an hour every morning meditating before going to daily rosary and mass. I gained many fruits by doing this and was so sad to stop because being pregnant, I needed that extra hour of sleep. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 2705 describes meditation as ". . . [seeking] to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking." Teresa describes mental prayer as ". . . nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us." In order to understand the needs and desires of our spouse and children, we must spend time with them to listen. When we are so busy that our prayer mostly involves daily speaking rather than listening, our purpose can become lost. It is even more important to spend a few minutes of quiet with the Lord whether we are in the shower, grocery shopping, or cooking dinner. If you can find time to pray quietly before an icon or the Eucharist, all the better. Even us busy moms can pray without ceasing if only we turn to the Lord in those quiet moments.
Now, we most likely will not need to reform an order of nuns. We do, however, need to make sure our domestic church has her priorities straight. Teresa noticed the vanity of her fellow nuns. After her years of prayer and visions, she knew the Carmelites needed to be more Christ-centered in their spirituality. Where does Christ live in your family's prayer life? Is He in the center or more off to the side? I know I struggle to keep Christ in the center of my family's prayer life. With St. Phillip's fast under way, it is the perfect time to put Christ at the center once more. Does your family observe the Liturgical Calendar? We make an effort to go to Divine Liturgy on special feast days even if they are not Holy Days of Obligation. In fact, we're going tonight to celebrate the Entrance of the Theotokos, or the presentation of Mary for you Romans. Like Teresa de Avila, we can prioritize Christ no matter what stage of life we are in.
As a busy, stay-at-home-mom, I know how tough it can be to even remember to pray. This is something I struggle with every day. Though we ourselves are not cloistered nuns like Teresa, out in the world she has a lesson for us. Teresa believed that prayer should lead to action, which we moms are very good at. As long as we make time with Christ a priority and all things are done in His name, just like Teresa, God will take care of us and our children.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Interstellar is Stellar!

Copyright Warner Bros. 2014
When deciding which movie to see in the theaters, we must consider several factors because of the high cost. Frankly, it's not worth seeing if you are not going to IMAX or 3D because Blu-ray is such beautiful quality and I pay for Netflix anyway. It's important for action films to be worth the money people pay for them because people pay a lot for the 3D and IMAX and want to be satisfied with their 2+ hour and $20 investment. I would say that Interstellar is one of those movies that is most definitely worth seeing in the theater despite the glaring errors.
As a theatrical experience, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is quite spectacular. This film has been compared by reviewers to Gravity. I would say that in some ways the experience is better and in others not as good. Gravity is such an amazing movie, that even falling short of it, Interstellar holds its own. Interstellar is about an astronaut named Cooper played by Matthew McConaughey whose given the responsibility to lead a crew of astronauts through a wormhole to search for a habitable planet for the whole of humanity to move to and survive as the planet earth's resources disappear. This adventure takes us on a visually and audibly awe-inspiring journey that only Christopher Nolan can take us on. Several shots reminisce of Stanley Kubrik's 2001: A Space Odyssey including a shot of a silent explosion. The cinematography and visual effects wrap you up in a type of science fantasy that is indescribable.
As I mentioned in the intro, action films must be good because they require a small investment from the audience. The characters, story, and plot come together to make a screenplay that the audience is thoroughly invested in. I walked into the movie hungry. I walked out suddenly remembering how hungry I was because during the film I had completely forgotten! Almost every moment keeps you on the edge of the seat. Once again compared to Gravity, many aspects of story and character are weaker in Interstellar. No character is as compelling as Sandra Bullock's, but the story in Interstellar is much more complex with several storylines going on at once. The robot characters are even compelling and interesting to watch. Another nod to Kubrik's 2001 is the robots who assist the astronauts are mobile monoliths. The story is full of twists and turns that keeps you wondering what will happen next with several surprises, good and bad, along the way. Story wise, I would say Christopher Nolan's Inception is probably a better story, but Interstellar is on par with his quality of writing and directing. Not only do the visuals and audio keep you invested in the film, the screenplay keeps you emotionally and psychologically invested.
Some of the criticisms for the film is many of the weird science. Some of which most likely is impossible. I have to say, though, the characters are able to explain the science and it remains consistent. It is Science Fiction, so the science does not need to be realistic. The viewer does not need to understand specifics in order to follow the story because everything else is simple enough to follow.
Every good movie has a message that the director communicates to the audience. Interstellar is one of those thinking movies. I'm still trying to analyze it, but I will give you my best assessment. The movie portrays a very humanist-centered idea of humanity and our place in the universe. It is actually quite narcissistic. I will not delve too many details, but it presents the idea that humans are ultra-beings with superior intelligence. Almost God-like. Actually, it is the humanist philosophy that humans are gods. Despite this, the film actually has some good things to say about love. Nolan presents love as a powerful force in the universe beyond science and our actions should be out of love. Cooper's motivation for anything he does is love of his children. Some of the characters try to present that as a primal survival instinct and try to place survival of the species above survival of those we love. Nolan rightfully presents the question, why save the species if we cannot save those we love? Nolan places a high emphasis on family and human dignity with one major caveat. Some of the ideas he presents are uncomfortable and quite sickening. The professor who creates the mission and sends Cooper into space is named Professor Brand played by Michael Caine. He presents Cooper with two plans to save the species. Plan A involves shipping the entire human population to the planet that Cooper's team deems habitable. Plan B, however, is thousands of embryos. Using an incubator on this planet, in the event humans are unable to arrive at the planet somehow, Cooper and his team are to place these parent-less embryo's on the planet to keep the human species going. Cooper is naturally aversive of this idea but not for the right reasons. He is sickened by the idea of not being able to save his family and those on earth. What is actually sickening, is that the children are frozen in petri dishes and moved around like cargo rather than being treated with the dignity that humans deserve. Nolan's pro-family message is muddled by his treatment of these poor, innocent children. Another disturbing instance that is not so much sickening as uncomfortable is the lack of any mention of God. Ann Hathaway as Professor Brand's daughter has a big speech about the power of love, but nobody at any point of the movie mentions the source of love. One would think that when faced with the end of humanity, people would begin to question their relationship with God. Without God, Nolan's ideas about love and family all seem superficial and meaningless.
Interstellar is an amazing film on many levels. Even with the few disturbing aspects I mentioned, one is able to enjoy it as long as you buy into this fictitious world. When you're deciding to spend $17 a person on a movie this weekend, the three hour suspenseful and visual spectacle that is Interstellar is worth every penny and every minute. As imperfect as the message is, Interstellar is a secular man's one step towards holiness despite his two or more steps backward.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Commentary on Vegan News

I am not one to criticize other mothers because only a mother knows how to parent her child. A news story about a vegan mom has been making waves this week when she regained custody on Tuesday after losing her child back in June because she fed her baby soy formula. Her baby faced significant weight loss, so her doctor prescribed a non-vegan formula and requested she take her baby to the hospital. My husband asked me about it yesterday, so I thought I would blog about it today.
  1. How sad! I know I would have been devastated to find out my milk isn't enough. This is what we women were designed to do: nourish our newborns. Sarah Markham probably may have been afraid for her child's health as well. She most likely was in a vulnerable state, especially so soon after giving birth.
  2. Sarah could have asked her doctor to respect her wishes for a soy formula. If she did, and he refused, she should have found a better doctor. Yes, she has a right to raise her baby vegan, but her baby has the right to be healthy.
  3. What isn't mentioned in the news is if the doctor called social services because Sarah was feeding her baby soy formula or because she neglected to take her kid to the hospital. That much weight loss that early on is a serious and potentially dangerous health concern. Even if Sarah wanted to supplement with soy formula, a doctor at the hospital may have prescribed a soy formula for her baby. Should Sarah have taken her baby to the hospital? Maybe.
  4. Should the doctor have called social services at all? The doctor has a responsibility  to report suspected child abuse WHICH IS A VERY GOOD THING. I have, however, read countless cases of social services being involved in families where there was no case of abuse, someone just didn't like the way someone was parenting. This can cause more harm than good. Protective services is a necessary yet flawed system. In this case, a mother was separated from her child during the most critical time for bonding. I don't know the details, and I don't claim to have the answer for the perfect time for protective services to intervene, but this may have been one of the situations where it was not necessary.
  5. What kind of a world do we live in where the police are being called to report abuse when a mother feeds her child soy formula (which is supposedly "formulated' to meet all a newborn's nutritional needs) and we have six-year-olds being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes because of obesity. I don't know if either situation should be considered "abuse" but it says a lot about our culture. 
I don't have all the answers. I don't know the details of the situation, and I am unfamiliar with child abuse. I don't want to pass judgment on this mother or the doctor. They both were acting in the child's best interest from their perspective. You can find an article here about the situation and decide for yourself.
I do have something to say to all you vegan mothers or expectant mothers. Vegans boast that it is the most healthful diet. Well, it may not be. When you're feeding your kid vegan junk food, that is just as bad as or worse than a mother who feeds her kids non-vegan junk food. (I feed my kid junk food once in a while, so I'm on the same boat!) What's important is establishing healthy eating habits. Even if an adult is not careful, he or she may not receive all the calories or nutrients they may need which can be harmful. How much more so if young children do not receive all the nutrients they require? Even if a mother is breastfeeding, she especially needs to make sure she is getting enough vitamin B-12. Plenty of health food stores sell B-12 supplements, several foods are fortified with vitamin B-12, and nutritional yeast is pretty much pure B-12. It's not about if your kids eat vegan or meat or fish, it's about if your kids are eating well. This is important for vegans and non-vegans alike. Healthful eating habits of childhood do carry into adulthood, so it's important to make sure your kids eat right. A mostly vegan diet has actually been proven to be best. Eating meat a couple times a week rather than every day will save you money and improve your family's health. As far as kids adapting to health foods, my little guy is a fan of oatmeal for breakfast and tofu, beans, veggies, and fruit for lunch, dinner, and snacks. Don't underestimate how your child will respond to healthful food. Even if he doesn't like it, keep feeding it to him, and he'll eventually warm up to it. If you have any nutritional or health concerns, please consult your child's physician. I am not a licensed nutritionist or health professional, I am providing only suggestions based on personal research.

This is my little guy happily nursing away.

Copyright 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Small Success Thursday

As a stay-at-home mom of a toddler, it can often feel like I'm not accomplishing anything. All I do is chores, chase/play with my boy, and cook. I've decided, at least for this week, to participate in Catholicmom.com's Small Success Thursday with three of my week's successes. By doing this, hopefully I can take a step back and get a better look at my week.

1) Started this blog! The number one thing I'm proud of this week is starting this blog. I have missed writing and blogging so much. What a great way to wind down during nap time. I look forward to the many adventures ahead.

2) FINALLY I have a game plan to get my son on a regular sleep schedule. He has not been getting enough sleep which has made everybody around here cranky. After a disaster of a day yesterday, we started the day off right when he woke up at exactly the time his new schedule needs him to. He also went down for a nap at exactly the right time. Maybe tonight, then, he will go to bed when he needs to.

3) Yesterday, Nicky and I saw Jack and Sally at Disneyland! He liked Sally, but was a little nervous. He certainly was nervous around Jack. Of course, he's only comfortable around the Disney Princesses. We both had fun and got cute pictures. Check it out!

Check out Small Success Thursday on Catholicmom.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Welcome to Lunch in the Garden of Eden

Hello, and welcome to Lunch in the Garden of Eden. Allow me to introduce myself and my new blog. My name is Violet Olszyk. I am a Californian born and raised. I moved from NorCal to SoCal to pursue a career in film. (God had other plans.) I studied film at CSULB in film theory with an emphasis on Production Management. I spent more time writing papers than producing movies, however. During my time at CSULB, I grew in my faith thanks to the Catholic Newman Club. Through the Newman Club, I met my wonderful husband. Before I started my last semester at CSULB, I became pregnant with my darling boy. Now, nothing to do with CSULB. I have developed and interest in food, particularly the ethics of veganism and how to incorporate all that into faith. I will be exploring that topic in particular through the blog more so than I have up until this point. I mentioned that I am Catholic; I was raised roman Catholic but now practice the Byzantine Rite. I love the Byzantine Rite which I was introduced to through my husband who will be joining the Byzantine seminary next fall. Our journey with that will be featured on the blog as well. This blog is about a stay-at-home Byzantine Catholic Mom who likes movies and vegan food. With that, I will introduce you to my blog which will feature my four favorite "F's": faith, family, film, and food.
Faith is the absolute center of my life, so I can't keep it out of my blog. You may notice my faith appear in blog posts that have nothing to do with faith! I encourage those non-Catholics out there to keep an open mind. I do not boast of my faith in order to shame others, but in the hopes that you may appreciate the beauty of it that I see. Faith plays a central role in my daily decisions from how to put my son to sleep, what to eat, and what to watch. God has shown me that I cannot live without Him, which means I cannot write without Him. I hope rather than finding my faith hostile, you see it as beautiful. I welcome comments that would disagree as long as they are not mean-spirited, negative, or hostile. I especially will focus on Byzantine spirituality, but I still have a little Roman in me.
In service of the Lord, I serve my family. I have given up everything for them. When my husband becomes a priest, I will give everything else, including my family, to the church. I am not a perfect parent, and I know very little about parenting. Much like my journey with food, I will be using the blog to explore topics of parenting. I have a great post in mind involving cloth diapering! (That, I do know a lot about.) There are many topics that can be explored here from finances to church to daily life. The list is endless since family plays such an important role in our lives.
I have been watching movies since I was younger than my son is. My mom told me my favorite was Mary Poppins, and I would spend all day watching it. (My son's favorite is Frozen, by the way, and he cannot stand watching it for more than 40 minutes at a time.) I spent so much time watching Mary Poppins, I figured out how to rewind and play the video tape. Then a few months ago I realized, I had really good taste in movies when I was a 10-month-old. I have been making movies since my first documentary on Christmas Day 1998 when I received my first video camera and editing software. Most of my free time since then has been spent watching and making movies. Now, I write more about movies. I hope to delve into social and spiritual topics as well as write my own reviews once in a while about movies I see. The most recent film I have seen is Big Hero 6. This weekend, thanks to my mom, my husband and I will see Interstellar, so look out for a review of it next Wednesday.
Finally, I will mention food. Since I moved into an apartment in fall 2011, I have become very interested in food. Being vegan, I pretty much have to prepare everything from scratch. I even make my own "fake" meat because the store bought kind is expensive. Another reason is because a vegan diet is an entirely different approach to eating. Animal meat no longer plays a starring role and dairy and eggs are nowhere to be found, so these must be replaced by plant foods even in our favorite comfort food. My husband admitted to me that he has had to grow used to not having meat as the center of the meal. My journey in a vegan diet has allowed my appreciation for vegan food to grow, and I enjoy creating elaborate meals once a week for my family and easy meals the rest of the week. I will explore a variety of vegan food to encourage you to maybe try some even if you're not vegan. It could be a good route to go for Lent or St. Phillip's fast.
I know my blog will cover a large range of topics, but I have a large range of interests. I'm excited to start sharing this journey called life, and I hope you are too.
yes, this is my little family outside Haunted Mansion on a Monday night "just because."
You can find the original post on my visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe on my Violet in Mexico blog here.