Monday, March 9, 2015

10 Tips for Taking Babies to Disneyland

I have been taking my son to Disneyland an average of once a week for the last year. I've celebrated his first birthday there and even heard his first word there because of a cast member. There is quite the controversy over whether or not you should take a baby to Disneyland. My son has enjoyed our
annual passes as much as if not more than I have. Two years from now, he won't remember a thing. Twenty years from  now, I'll still have the pictures. I highly advocate taking babies to Disneyland, no matter how small. It's not like this is the last time I will ever take him. Over the year, I have learned a few things that my mom didn't even know with her many years of experience, so I thought I could share some tips whether you're a pass holder or planning a family vacation with a baby.

1) Locate the Baby Care Center within the park you're visiting. The one in Disneyland is at the end of Main Street next to the photo shop. These centers offer parents many services including quiet diaper changing area, small potties for toddlers, private area for nursing and pumping, high chairs, and all sorts of baby supplies on sale not for profit. We always change my son's diaper there especially when he was smaller because the noises in the bathroom used to scare him. At the baby care center, he likes the quiet environment and they have a bath to rinse poopy bottoms and diapers. You can also tell your older kids to meet there if they get lost.

2) Naps should be strategic. Obviously you want to take your little one on all the rides they're able to go on, don't skip either carousel, and you may even have older kids who want to go on bigger kid rides. Well, you have two options for handling the mandatory baby nap. If your child is still able to sleep in the stroller or baby carrier and everyone else in your party does not need a nap, you can stay at the park all day and use the opportune nap for the adults and older kids to take turns going on rides either with fastpasses or single rider lines. Your second option if your toddler refuses to nap in the stroller, is for one person to take him or her back to the hotel or for a quiet drive, returning to park in the parking structure for the rest of naptime. Note, these tips are for people staying at the park all day. If you are only going for a few hours, take your baby right before nap or right after their nap.

3) Any photograph you really need, such as in front of the castle, do that first. Later on, there may be a longer line and the special costume you put on your kid may have been ruined in one way or another by the time you get around to taking the picture. They are babies after all.

4) Don't think that babies and toddler don't want to see the characters. Even as an infant, they will have their preferences. I was talking to a cast member telling him that my son only likes to visit the princesses, so I like to take him to the princesses. This cast member said that he met a baby who only liked villains. For my son's birthday lunch we ate at Ariel's Grotto. Now, however, he drags me around to characters. He made me take him to see Pluto and Daisy over the last two weeks. I also took him to see Minnie Mouse, and he had a ball. Yes, you are the one who benefits from the pictures, but you never know what kind of special moments can happen even with your infant. Don't wait if the line is too long, though.

5) If you're taking a vacation, or if you're a passholder celebrating a special occasion, do the Character Dining even with your toddler. There are five restaurants throughout the resort, one at each hotel and each park, where you sit down and the Disney characters come to you! I mentioned we celebrated my son's first birthday at Ariel's Grotto because he likes the princesses. If we were to go for another occasion, I would look into one of the other experiences because he has become a lot more comfortable with all the characters. A huge tip, however, and this will sound counter intuitive but trust me on this, make sure you child eats at least a little bit right before your reservation and be sure to make your reservation so it doesn't interfere with nap time. It wasn't until the last princess that my little prince was able to enjoy himself because he was so hungry the entire time. If they have at least a little food in their stomach before your reservation and are not tired, they will enjoy themselves better. It's not like they will eat a lot during the meal anyways. By the way, make a reservation at least a month in advance, perhaps two during a really busy time such as spring break or summer.

6) Plan on doing things your child enjoys. Even infants have personalities and preferences. My son has always enjoyed music and stage performances, so we enjoy taking him to all the shows. I took him to World of Color a couple times and once he was absolutely still and quiet at least for twenty minutes. Your child might not be a fan of such things, but he might enjoy running around Toontown. I suggested taking your kid to characters but if your child is really shy, he or she may not want to. My son used to like Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, he still likes most of the ride but recently the two drops make him so upset that we just don't take him on it anymore. I still take him on Pinnoccio even though he gets scared because he doesn't get scared enough to cry. See what your child can handle and do what they like.

7) Toontown: the best place in the park for infants and toddlers. It opens one hour after the park opens, and that is when I suggest you go. By noon and later in the afternoon it's pretty crowded. These also will be the shortest lines to see Mickey and Minnie. Do the Rodger Rabbit ride first then go to Mickey and Minnie's house. You will often see Pluto and Goofy wandering around, and this is a good time to see them too. You can let your kids wander around the characters' houses. Goofy's house has a piano that makes silly noises and a small playground. It's designed for 2-4 year olds but one-year-olds will enjoy it as well. Just be careful, some parents let their 10-year-olds run around which, in my opinion, is unfair to the toddlers because they can be aggressive. There's plenty for your little ones to enjoy in this area of the park.

Some general tips.

8) The crowd at the park fluctuates throughout the day. The slowest times of the day are from opening until 10am and later from 1pm-5pm. By 10am, everyone has arrived at the park and by 1pm everyone has left either for naptime, lunch, or both. After 5, people are returning from dinner or, like us, coming after work.

9) The slowest times at the park are pretty much the entire month of September, first two weeks of November, second week of January until President's Day and Valentine's Day, and then Last week of February until mid-March. Now, it would be easy to just say go during these times, but particularly during September and January, they have shorter hours and fewer attractions because they don't always have the nighttime entertainment and the slower times are when they do maintenance on most of the rides. Even if you go during the busier months like March and April or November and December, as long as you don't go during the summer or on or near any major holiday you won't have too much trouble with the crowd. It just depends on what kind of experience your family wants.

10) Check the website prior to planning your trip to make sure any favorite attraction or show will not be temporarily closed. You cannot plan for if a ride breaks down but often times they will close certain attractions for an extended period because they're doing routine maintenance or they're revamping it. For example, World of Color and other attractions are closed in preparation for the Diamond Celebration of Disneyland. You can also check the website for when their Christmas stuff starts or for special events such as Lunar New Year and the Diamond Celebration. It's sometimes nice to plan a trip around such things.

I hope these tips help you plan your next Disney vacation to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. My whole family has enjoyed our year at Disneyland. We are sad to see it end, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. I have seen my son grow up at Disneyland and have shared many precious moments with him. Any age is the perfect age to take your child to Disneyland. My parents have taken my brothers and I so many times over the years, and they are some of our favorite memories as a family. Even though my son will not remember this year, I will always have an amazing story about his first word, thanks to the generosity of a Cast Member giving my son ice.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vegans and Lent

Nicky exploring our church
Ah, it's that time a year again where Catholics make Lenten promises that don't last a week and  suddenly every Catholic decides to eat fish on Fridays. Well, did you know that it used to be tradition that EVERY Catholic, not just those crazy Eastern Catholics, did not eat meat on Fridays? Also, did you know that Bl. Pope Paul VI said that when that requirement was removed that the intention was for Catholics to decide on their own reparation on Fridays and were encouraged to abstain from meat anyways? In a culture where we find meat on our tables for three meals a day, and sometimes snacks, that seems quite foolish.
Now, because I'm vegan, that means that I don't have to worry about Fridays, right? Wrong! Every Friday especially during Lent must remain solemn. People like going out on Friday nights to celebrate the end of the week, but maybe it's best to wait until Saturday night, especially during Lent. A tradition I wish to begin during this Lent and to carry on throughout the year is to do the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 PM with Nicky. The Divine Mercy Chaplet was given to St. Faustina, a Polish nun, during her many visions of Christ regarding Divine Mercy. On Good Friday, I also enjoy reflecting on the Way of the Cross with my family, a tradition which began with the ever famous St. Francis of Assisi. On the market are so many versions of the Way of the Cross that I'm sure anybody can find a version they like. This can easily be done throughout Lent as well and Fridays during the year.
Prayer is all well and good, so does that mean I don't need to make any physical sacrifices during Lent? No! As Catholics, we should make all kinds of sacrifices for we are creatures of body and spirit. Christ saved us through the sacrifice of his body, so it is good to sacrifice our body for Christ even if with deprivation rather than death. During Lent we are called to pray, fast, and give alms. Prayer is sacrificing your spirit, fasting is sacrificing your body, and alms giving is sacrificing your resources. I'm using the CRS Rice Bowl app to pledge one of my sacrifices every day during Lent and to pray.
It is unhealthy for me to fast during Lent even before I became pregnant with my first. I also already abstain from all animal products on a daily basis. What, then is left? In the Eastern Church, part of our history is also sacrificing wine and oil during times of fasting and abstinence. This encouraged me to try other sacrifices. For example, alcohol. That does not work perfectly though because while breastfeeding and being pregnant I don't drink alcohol anyways. That leaves caffeine. This is perfect! Even while pregnant and breastfeeding, I drink small amounts of caffeine daily either as coffee or tea. During Lent, then, I can offer up my morning caffeine kick. Sometimes I miss it and sometimes I don't. I then use the CRS Rice Bowl app to pledge the cost of my daily cup of tea.
So, by doing a daily reading as my spiritual adviser suggested either on my CRS Rice Bowl app or  in my Lenten booklet, by abstaining from caffeine, and by pledging the cost of that coffee, I am able to fully experience Lent. I hope everyone has examined what they can fast from. Another thing I'm trying to fast from is some of my more habitual sins. I of course encourage everyone to try vegan at least on Fridays, but few can handle that. It's never too late to start participating in Lent.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love, Lust, or Run and the Importance of Modesty and Beauty

This is not my most beautiful look, but in High school, I got really into dressing well after being mistaken for a boy too many times. I loved this outfit and my hair looks great. I started feeling a lot better about myself. If only that smile in this picture could reveal my inner beauty.
Tonight is a new episode of the brand new TLC show Love, Lust, or Run. Stacy London spent a decade transforming the lives of countless women on TLC's What Not to Wear. Her new show focuses more on the transformation rather than the shopping. She also takes women who dress more extreme than on What Not to Wear. I was inspired to do this post after last week's episode about a 20-year-old young lady named Jessie who wanted to be a New York City police officer, a very noble profession. She dressed, however, like a hooker. She honestly did. I was also shocked when the show said that she was 20 because she looked 25 with all that make-up and very adult outfit and accessories.
The first part of the show after Stacy gets to know the young women, is stripping the ladies bare: removing all clothing, accessories, and make-up. After this, Jessie actually looked her age. Stacy then shows the ladies what kind of make-up looks flattering on them and takes them shopping. Often, there is a struggle but when they trust Stacy to find clothes they like, there's usually a win. The show ends with the transformation which is always shocking. These women finally look beautiful because they look themselves.
The show's title comes from the part of the show where they go out on the street with photographs of these ladies in their favorite outfits. Each person is asked if they love the look, if they lust it, or if they want to run from it. Jessie's original look had only lust responses.  This was the kind of attention she was aiming for with her dress, but she realized it was not the kind of attention she really wanted. She wanted to be respected. Well, after the transformation is revealed, Stacy shows Jessie the responses to her new look. All but two loves. The other two were lust. After the transformation, if there are still "lust" responses, one can clearly know that it has not to do with the young lady's appearance but with the heart of the person looking at her. That person is doing something wrong because he has no respect for any person's dignity, especially women's.
As Christians, it can quite often be a struggle to ask ourselves, why does dressing well matter? Clearly, we should not dress like hookers. Does that mean that the alternative is to dress in ill-fitting jeans and boxy t-shirts? We would not feel very attractive doing that would we. Looking attractive doesn't necessarily mean one is attracting a new mate, it simply is attracting others' attention and respect. On What Not to Wear, often times people who ended up on the show put dress last because of their charity work. Their boss at the charity, however, wanted them to dress better to be a representative of the company. Why? Because when you're trying to bring attention to a cause or raise money, people are more likely to respect what you say when you have a presence, including appearance, that demands attention and respect. Sometimes, then, if you work for a charity, you would be helping the charity you work for by dressing well.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses modesty in dress and may surprise some people. It says, "The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person (CCC 2524)." First off, because it is appropriate in our society to wear skirts that hit the knee, it is not immodest to wear anything that hits above the ankle. It is also appropriate to bare our legs and knees. It's not about specific clothes, it's about dignity. We must not only dress modestly, we must also behave modestly which requires respecting the human person for his or her God-given dignity. And teaching modesty does not mean teaching our children how to dress, but how to approach themselves and their fellow man. This will then influence their dress decisions.
So why does it matter if the image we present of ourselves is of physical beauty? Obviously if our interior beauty needs a makeover, that comes first. But if that is taken care of, then shouldn't our outer beauty reflect our inner beauty? If we are beautiful on the inside, but nobody knows because our beauty is hidden beneath bad clothes and imperfections, don't we as individuals and God as our creator deserve for the world to see who we truly are? Don't we deserve to for people to see our true beauty?
It can be difficult to distinguish between materialism and what I'm describing. One thing I have always taken away from What Not to Wear and what a person can very easily take away from Love, Lust, or Run is that beauty is not about buying the most trendy, most expensive items of clothing. As long as you have a foundational wardrobe, preferably by buying a few expensive pieces and a few less expensive ones, then dressing well will actually come without thinking. All you will need to do is grab a bottom, top, and completer piece. Materialism says you have to go shopping every week to get the latest look. Beauty is dressing in clothes that you actually like and that actually look good on you. Modesty is showing the world your God-given beauty and dignity in both actions and appearance.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Milk: an Essential Nutrient?

What a busy last couple weeks! My husband finally handed off the application to me for the priesthood, and Nicky decided to stop napping. This means I no longer had time to sit and write anything really, and I only had two weeks to write it all. Last week, my mom came for an awesome visit which both kept me from working and helped me work at the same time. Finally, everything was completed and turned in on Saturday. Nicky even went down for a nap yesterday and today to give me time to write this.
The dairy industry is a very powerful organization of farmers they pull a lot of money and have major influence in public opinion and and politics. Everyone remembers the "Got Milk" campaign of the 90s. Images of strong athletes and celebrities with milk mustaches encouraged children to enjoy white milk. The industry had some push-back particularly because chocolate milk became so prevalent in school lunches. On Jamie Oliver's show Food Revolution, he posed the question of why we must offer chocolate milk to our children. The defense was to get children to drink milk and more milk because they would not do so if it was not chocolate. Jamie Oliver asked "Can't we do better?" My mother and I asked, "How much milk do children really need?"
When I was pregnant, my doctor gave me a nutrition pamphlet. I read through the pamphlet and saw how many references there were to milk and other dairy products saying how essential it was that pregnant women drink milk. I found the suspicious, so I looked on the back and the pamphlet was produced by the Dairy Council of California. I promptly threw the pamphlet in the trash.
A few months ago I read that the milk companies we're trying to re-brand they were launching a campaign to make people aware of milk; make it a lifestyle. Yesterday on the VegNews website I read that the Milk Processor Education Program are launching a new campaign on social media. (Hey! Look what I found. Kinda creepy if you ask me.) They will be flooding Twitter and Facebook with information about the benefits of milk and and express suspicions of almond milk. Once again we need to ask ourselves how much milk do people really need if any at all.
Popularity of nondairy milk has risen over the last 20 years due to lactose intolerance, nutrition awareness, and the rise of veganism. I would say though that our falling population may have a small contribution to that drop however it is true that nondairy milk is growing in popularity. At our home, we drink almond milk mostly because my husband prefers the taste of almond milk instead of soy milk. I would say soymilk is more nutritious for you than almond milk but is perfectly fine to consume. (just watch out for those sneaky sweeteners.)
If milk is so good for us, what nutrients in milk make it the center for a balanced diet? According to the website of the Dairy Council of California, milk provides calcium, protein, vitamins D, A, and B12, potassium, magnesium, and riboflavin. I will demonstrate non-dairy alternatives to each of these nutrients proving definitively that as long as someone has a well-balanced plant-based diet, even a nursing mother has no need of milk.
First up, the most well-known benefit is calcium. Calcium is essential for bone health, teeth health, and nerve health. According to Health magazine website, there are 12 other foods that vegans and non-vegans can use to take in this essential nutrient. They include: collard greens, broccoli, broccoli rabe, the infamous kale, edamame, bok choy, figs, oranges, white beans, okra, tofu, and finally almonds (also almond milk). Clearly, if a person consumes a good amount of these various foods, one should receive enough calcium without the dairy or cholesterol. (Fun fact! I took a calcium quiz on the Dairy Council of California website to check my calcium intake, and I exceed it without a single dairy product. Pwnd, dairy!)
The most common question a vegan or vegetarian is asked is, "Where do you get your protein?" Would you be surprised if I told you that all plants have protein? They do! Some have more than others, but even if I eat a bowl of steel cut oatmeal, I will receive as much protein as eating an egg. Nobody needs to drink milk in order to consume enough protein, especially if a person eats a diet rich in whole grains rather than refined grains.
I'm not even going to talk much about vitamin D because the only ways to receive vitamin D is to either be out in the sun, take a supplement, or consume a product fortified with vitamin D which plenty of vegan food is. Many doctors are concerned about peoples' vitamin D intake because we need sunscreen to protect our skin from the thinning ozone, but the sunscreen also blocks our vitamin D intake. Fortunately for me, I do not burn easily so a 20 minute walk around Disneyland with my son is enough for me to get vitamin D naturally.
Vitamin A is essential for eye, immunity, and reproductive health, according to Health magazine online. The highest concentration of Vitamin A is found in the beta carotene sweet potatoes. Baked sweet potato fries for everybody! Hooray! (Sweet potato fries are my fav.) It can also be found in carrots, winter squash, and spinach. I'd rather have sweet potatoes than milk any day, even before I was vegan.
Vitamin B12 is a little trickier for us vegans. I will admit that the best source of vitamin B12 is animal products, however, pretty much any animal product may be used to attain this vital nutrient, including but not limited to milk. Vegans get their B12 from nutritional yeast, algae, vegan yogurt, and supplements. Bacteria in meat products is how we humans get our vitamin B12, so vegans get their vitamin B12 from the source. B12 is essential for the formation of DNA and red blood cells and is important to guard against anemia. I took a blood test just before I got pregnant two and a half years ago, and I had healthy levels of vitamin B12, without a supplement.
Potassium is an electrolyte to regulate your body's energy. This and the protein is what makes milk a good post-workout beverage. I would say that chocolate soy protein drink is probably just as good for you. (And quite delicious.) Potassium can be found in sweet potatoes (whoo hoo! another nutrient for sweet potatoes), tomato paste, beets, greens, and regular potatoes. Who would have known that greens have so many nutrients that make milk so good for you. With fewer calories too!
Health magazine describes magnesium as a versatile nutrient that the body uses for more than 300 biochemical reactions including "maintaining muscle and nerve function, keeping heart rhythm steady, and keeping bones strong." Magnesium can be found in wheat bran, almonds, cashews, and green veggies such as spinach. Look at that, almonds and green veggies provide both magnesium and calcium. Who would have thought that plants were so good for you!
According to the Dieticians of Canada, riboflavin is a B2 that is essential for your cells to convert fat, carbs, and protein into energy. Nobody needs to consume more than 2 milligrams a day. Some foods for vegans that contain magnesium are mushrooms, spinach, corn flakes, muesli, pasta, soy milk (which actually has almost as much as dairy milk), tempeh (which does have more per serving than milk), almonds, soy nuts, and Vegemite. Plenty of sources of magnesium outside of dairy.
When you seen an ad for milk, ask yourself, does spinach need ads? What about almonds? (yes, I know there are ads for almond milk and soy milk) And when you hear somebody preaching the dairy gospel, ask yourself, what is their source of information? Ask yourself, do I really need milk with breakfast, cheese for lunch, and yogurt for dessert? Probably not. Ask yourself, should the people who have a financial stake in my consumption of milk be deciding what is necessary for good health? I encourage you to do your own research and decide for yourself what is best for you and your family. Just beware the scary dairy propaganda!

Health Magazine:,,20845429,00.html,,,20660118_1,00.html
Dairy Council of California:
Dietitians of Canada:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Walk in One Life LA 2014

Both secular and religious news sources would agree that the pro-life movement is gaining momentum. National Catholic Register reported the lowest number of abortion centers in decades this past year. 40 Days for Life is done multiple times a year all over the world. This time of year, the month of January is the time of year for protests and marches. We are so fortunate to have groups of people who work so hard to lead these marches and people will travel far and wide for them. The largest march is the March for Life in DC on the anniversary of the infamous Roe V. Wade. People travel from all across the country and every prominent leader in the pro-life movement makes an appearance. The second largest is the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco. That I have attended every year since I met my husband. I may have done it sooner, but even though abortion has always been an important issue to me, I didn't even hear about the Walk for Life until I met him. The Walk for Life West Coast falls on the Saturday following the anniversary of Roe V. Wade, so if you wish to attend both rallies, you certainly may. This year, instead of going to the Walk for Life West Coast, Los Angeles is had their own rally this year which is brand new. We did way too much traveling over the holiday season, so we were glad they had a rally in LA this year.
The signs were great for blocking the sun
One Life Los Angeles is the name of the LA walk for life. It was a brand new event that kicked off with a great start. The walk began right outside Union Station at La Placita Olvera, passed the Cathedral, and ended at Grand Park right in front of City Hall. At both the pre-walk rally and the post-walk rally, there were plenty of speakers from local and international pro-life organizations including David Bereit, national director for 40 Days for Life, and Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, SV who is the First Superior General of the Sisters for Life.
I took the train into Los Angeles with my husband and toddler, our family friends Franklin and
Nicky liked holding the signs
Shannon, and some members of the Newman Club I graduated from.When we walked out of the train station, we knew where to go because we could see a massive crowd about a block from the train station. We walked around for a bit looking for signs, and holy moly! At the Walk for Life West Coast, you walk around to the different booths and groups to pick up signs. However, One Life had their own signs. So, there was a huge area of giant boxes filled to the brim with signs from One Life and all the other organizations. What we liked about the One Life signs was they were not just about the unborn but also the disabled and elderly. I liked the sign with a family on it.
Once we had our signs, we had about fifteen minutes until the walk started, so we decided to find a spot to wait for the walk to start. Also, half our group was coming from Long Beach instead of Orange County, so the Orange County group wanted to find a place where the Long Beach group could find us. We missed most of the speakers, but we did get to see Archbishop Gomez. That was so cool! I mean, I guess I see him every year at the Religious Education Congress, but it really gives validity to the event. We realized how Catholic the event was. Obviously, people of different religions spoke and there were non-Catholic groups at the event, but with the bishop blessing the event and no other religious leader, it really to us felt very Catholic. Which makes sense because it was put on by the Archdiocesan Office of Life, Justice and Peace. That may also explain why the bishop attended.
Once the group organizers initiated the walk, it took a good five to ten minutes for us to get walking. We were somewhere in the middle. One of the things we did that we do every year is keep an eye out for pro-choice protesters. At Walk for Life West Coast, there's usually a group of about 40 or fewer people. Honestly, you're not going to get a lot of people traveling across the country promoting abortion unless they work for, like Planned Parenthood or something. The group of pro-choice protesters was quite minimal. There were about five of them standing on one corner, and there was a larger group of pro-lifers standing around them at that same corner. It was quite pitiful. Shannon thought it may have been because this was the first year of the event which is the most likely scenario.
One part of the walk that was really cool and really fun was the diocesan high school band marched. They stopped in front of the Cathedral so that everyone in the walk could hear them perform. Towards the end of the walk, our Newman Club got out our rosaries and prayed. Some people around us joined us.
We finally arrived at the park and fortunately there were food trucks because we were hungry.We settled into a spot so we could listen to speakers, eat, and let my son play. Many pro-life groups had booths to promote their services. The speakers were so inspiring as they talked about life. A father of a down-syndrome son, a young lady who spent her life in foster care and was finally adopted at the age of 17, and lives saved right in LA county because of 40 days for life. So moving, I was brought to tears. The event really proves that the pro-life movement isn't just about ending abortion, but about valuing each individual life. Each life matters because God created that person. Each person deserves dignity and love. It's about loving and celebrating life. Most of the world's problems could be solved if everyone gave Christ's sacrificial love to all those whom they encounter. To end with the rally's slogan, "Be somebody to somebody." God bless.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Why I Got Rid of My Cell Phone and am Not Replacing It.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the sad demise of my cell phone. Well, following that, the next step was to go about replacing it. I'm going to recount that process to explain why I'm ultimately abandoning cell phones forever.
After my phone broke, we contacted Verizon to find out our options. "Luckily", we bought insurance, so I could file a claim and replace my phone. Well, upon filing the claim, we found out we had to pay half of what we initially had to pay to buy the phone. On top of that, it was quite expensive to pay the data plan and everything on a monthly basis. I was so upset because realizing how much money my phone was costing me, the life value was just not worth it, even before Nicky's little mishap.
Especially because my husband will begin school in the fall, we're really trying to pay down our debt and live within our means. The last couple months have left us with not very much extra cash. When my phone got lost within the depths of our couch early last year before I replaced it, I knew I couldn't be responsible for a cell phone. I wanted a landline. I kept using Nick's phone to text my mom, though, so after a few months we upgraded to smartphones. It was nice having a phone especially with a nice camera. Well, all I really needed was a time telling device (I have a watch), a small camera so I don't have to take my DSLR everywhere (we have a point-and-shoot that fits in my purse), and a phone, so I can call people especially during the day when Nick has his phone at work. Anything I use the smart stuff for I can use on Nick's phone or my iPad.
The cost and the headache of being responsible for a cell phone are the biggest reasons I'm not replacing it. Not just how expensive it is, but how expensive it is compared to the value of how it enriches my life. It just is not worth it. When we found out how much money we will save every month, I realized I can get more supplies I need to continue working on Nicky's baby scrapbook which has been on hold because I ran out of pages. Now, I can buy some. I was overjoyed when I found that out.
I continue to mention how I am incapable of being responsible for a cell phone and how stressful it is. Well, over the years I have lost my phones many times. Usually they are found, but especially after becoming a mom when I have so many other priorities than "Where did I put my cell phone?" I realize that I just don't want to keep track of it. I don't like wasting time trying to find it because that seems to be a daily task. I have enough frustration finding all the ingredients when I'm trying to make dinner, I hate having to do that with my cell phone too.
In the Christian life, it is important to live simply in order to focus on what really matters. Everything we do needs to be in support of our values: faith and family. We can't spend every moment in the Church or with our family, so any time away from those two should still support those values. Our careers, for example, should be done in order to support our family and to serve God. If our careers compromise our Christian faith in any way, we should consider other options. Getting rid of a cell phone is a huge simplification in support of my values.
Ever since I realized we can't take everything with us when we move, I have been purging our apartment of anything that is a waste of space. Anything we take with us will cost us time and money, so we have to decide how much each of our possessions are worth to us. Obviously we can't get rid of everything, but we can get rid of anything we don't need or that compromises what's important to us. The same is said of our finances. When I realized how out of control our spending was, I realized that what we both really wanted was a comfortable life. We had been trying to live the extravagant life, even with the excess smartphone. Living in extravagance now could cost us comfort in the future. Getting rid of my cell phone both simplifies my life and my budget. With our spending under control, a purging of our apartment in progress, hopefully our lives will be more comfortable and more joyful.
So, how am I replacing my phone? No, I'm not getting a pay as you go phone or even a cheapo cell phone. (Don't want to keep track of a cell phone, remember?) Our internet currently has a deal where for an additional $10/month we can add basic cable and a phone line to our plan. Today, the cable guy came to install everything. I love OnDemand. :-) Yesterday, we went to Target to buy a phone. I bought the absolute cheapest which is a corded phone without a speaker or an answering machine, and I'm very happy. Yes, whenever I get a phone call, I will have to stand awkwardly next to the TV, but at least I have caller ID.