Monthly Archives: November 2009

Nov 28

Did Tiger Woods Simply Have a Car Accident? I Sure Hope So.

By Dustin | Communication

Tiger Woods Car Accident and Marriage

When I started seeing “Tiger Woods car accident” flying around on Twitter yesterday afternoon, I was immediately concerned.  I am a big fan of Tiger on the golf course, so I would hate to see anything happen that could derail his seemingly inevitable path toward capturing all of the important records in golf. My focus online is typically marriage related resources and news stories, but this was a favorite sports icon and it legitimately concerned me.

Those thoughts were fleeting, though, as I remembered that Tiger Woods and his wife Elin Nordegren have two small children.  I was particularly concerned when I read initial reports that Tiger had wrecked his 2009 Cadillac Escalade, and the results were serious injuries.  This news story was very concerning to me.

Wait a Minute, Where & When Did the Car Crash Occur?

As the news reports started to materialize, it became clear that this was no mid-afternoon freeway crash.  Instead, Tiger Woods had wrecked his SUV in his neighbor’s driveway.  Strange by itself, but when accompanied by the fact that this occurred at 2:25 a.m. and it was a single vehicle crashing into a fire hydrant and tree, the story was taking a turn for the strange.

Naturally, those facts start to raise serious questions.  Why was Tiger leaving (quickly it would appear) his home at that hour?  How do you hit a tree in your neighbor’s yard with enough force to cause what were initially reported as serious injuries?

Say It Ain’t So.

Fast forward to about an hour ago, when I read that TMZ was reporting a totally different version of what had taken place.  According to their reports, Tiger’s wife had actually caused the facial lacerations that had previously been attributed to the car accident.  They alleged that Tiger was fleeing from his home after a serious argument with Elin, and she had actually hit his SUV with a golf club out of rage and not to “free” him from the vehicle after the crash as had been reported.

And the real kick to gut was the TMZ assertion (also reported by several other news outlets) that the cause of the couple’s fight was the suspicion that Tiger Woods could be having an extramarital affair.  I just really hope that this is not actually the case.

Don’t be Like Mike…or Kobe…or A-Rod…or…

I love the way Tiger Woods plays golf.  That is what he is known for, and he has done a great job of keeping his private life out of the public eye.  That’s the way it should be, and I for one hate tabloids and their parasitical reporting practices.

So, why did I write this post?  I felt compelled to write this post because what I have admired about Tiger more than his insane golf game is the way he manages his life.  He seems to have it together and not be involved in self-destructive activities.  He has a beautiful wife, two small children, a fantastic charitable foundation, and he seems to have his priorities straight, particularly for someone with so many pressures for his time and attention.

In an era where the biggest faces in sports represent our society to many around the world (children and adults alike), it was refreshing to hear Tiger’s name and think about him as one of the “good guys” who respected the importance of family life.  Too many of the other faces in this arena have unfortunately been tarnished by scandal.

Michael Jordan has quite a fondness for gambling and got divorced from wife of many years.  We all know about Kobe Bryant’s admitted affair and criminal rape charges (which were later dropped).  Alex Rodriguez got divorced after allegations of affairs with a long list of women, including Madonna, and recently had his past use of performance-enhancing drugs exposed.

Of course, these stories only represent the tip of the iceberg.  It seems that scandal, adultery and divorce are the rule among sports celebrities rather than the exception.  I hate this.

I Hope Tiger’s Marriage is Strong.

We need more good guys for our kids to admire because whether we or they like it,  these players will always be looked up to by those growing up playing their sports.  We need more examples of sports “heroes” that play by the rules, serve their community, and respect their family and their marriage vows.

This is one marriage blogger that sincerely hopes I can remain a fan of Tiger Woods for what he does both on and especially off of the golf course.

UPDATE 1/1/2010: Well, so much for wishful thinking.  It appears that Tiger is a dog and one with a far-reaching history of infidelity at that.  I am very disappointed in him and just hope that he can reform his ways.  It looks like his transgressions are going to cost him dearly both professionally and personally.  Sad situation.

Photo by Stefano A
Nov 27

Round-Up of Interesting Reads #8: Black Friday Edition

By Dustin | Link Round-Up

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving and didn’t go completely broke during today’s shopping sprees.  We enjoyed a nice, local holiday with visits to each of parents and plenty of good food and great company.  I spent Black Friday hanging out with the kids, while Bethany and her Mom “enjoyed” their annual shopping spree that began before the sun even chose to rise this morning.  All in all, it’s been a great couple of days to mostly relax and enjoy family.

I will have a big announcement about Engaged Marriage coming the middle of next week, and I hope to write a few more posts this weekend in between several birthday celebrations (including Bethany’s).  In the meantime, enjoy this installment of the Round-Up, which is topped off with a clip from my favorite show on television: The Office!

  • Nominate Marriage Blogs for a “Top Ten” List of 2009.  Stu at The Marry Blogger is currently taken nominations and votes to compile a top ten list of blogs about marriage.  If you have not already done so, I’d really appreciate it if you clicked this link and took a minute to leave a kind word for Engaged Marriage (or another favorite marriage blog if you prefer).
  • The Number One Rule to Enjoying Your Kids More.  I loved this article at Zen Family Habits.  As our lives become more hectic, the reminders offered in this post become vital to appreciating all that our families have to offer.
  • And finally, please enjoy this awesome wedding clip from The Office!
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jqk5I236DQ[/youtube]

20 Questions to Help You Overcome Barriers and Find Your Passion

Nov 25

What Are You Thankful For?

By Dustin | General , Spirituality

What are you thankful for?

As I reflected a bit on my “I am Thankful for Sexuality” post and the great comments you have shared there, I couldn’t help but wonder what each of you is thankful for as we officially enter the holiday season.

So, take a moment to think about your life as it stands today.  Think particularly about your relationships and all of the ways (good and bad) they have changed since last year at this time.

What are YOU thankful for in your life?

Please take a minute and put your thoughts in the comments to this post.  Let’s all rejoice together at the many blessings that we have been given.

Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for being part of such a positive, growing community here at Engaged Marriage!

Photo by floodllama
Nov 25

I am Thankful for Sexuality

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Gotta Love Sexuality

It seems that blog posts describing all the things we are thankful for are all the rage right now.  ‘Tis the season to reflect on how blessed we really are and to share our appreciation with others.  So, I took some time today to think about it for myself.

I am thankful for sexuality.  Yes, sexuality.  Now, please don’t confuse this with sex.  I’m certainly thankful for that too (!), but that’s not where I’m going here.

So What Exactly Do You Mean, Then?

I am thankful for the gift of unique sexuality that we are all blessed to possess.  I’m talking masculinity and femininity here.  Male and female.  Man and woman.

After all, it’s the inherent attraction between masculinity and femininity that has brought us together in marriage.  It is the basis for sexual attraction, and it is what makes us fit together and complement our spouses both physically and emotionally.  Sexuality is the reason we are able to leave our individual families and become “one” as a married couple.

Sounds a lot Like Sex to Me…

Well, yes, sex itself is obviously based in sexuality and the attraction we feel to the opposite sex.  That’s the way we are used to thinking about it within the context of marriage.  But it goes way beyond that….bear with me for a moment.

Think about what you admire(d) about your grandfather if you were fortunate enough to see him grow into old age.  For me, it was the strong paternal spirit that remained until he passed away.  It was the fact that he liked fishing and playing cards with the guys, and he could fix my bike.  And it was the way he still provided for my grandmother and looked over her with a protective spirit.  It was his enduring masculinity.

My grandma loved to cook and give hugs.  She was a petite lady that supported my grandfather in a caring way even when he didn’t deserve it.  And she retained a strong, but feminine, spirit until the day that she died.  You could see her femininity in the glow of her eyes.

I see it in our children as well.  Our son is all boy, and our little girl is beautifully feminine.  The roughhouser and the princess.  Mama’s boy and Daddy’s girl.  He loves his baby niece and she is crazy for her grandpa.

The attraction between males and females is there even when the relationship is not “sexual” at all.

OK, I Get It.  Why Should I Care?

You ask such great questions. 🙂  You should care because when you realize the power of sexuality in your life, you see your relationships, your tendencies, your thoughts, your concerns, your strengths, your weaknesses and so much more in a new and healthy way.[quote]

Men and women are different.  They just are. It’s built into our brain structures, our physical build and our hormones.

Men prefer to communicate their emotions through action (sex, building stuff, punching inanimate objects).  Women prefer to talk and be held close.  Men inherently have shorter attention spans and are quicker to jump to action with decisiveness.  Women like to ask for directions first.  Men tend to make decisions based on facts and previous experience.  Women rely more heavily on emotional responses and empathy.

Does any of this sound familiar in your marriage? Obviously, there are exceptions because all men have a limited number of feminine traits, and the same holds true for the ladies.  But, in general, guys are masculine and women are feminine no matter how much society would like try convince us otherwise.

The sooner you realize that this is just the nature of things and affirm those sexual traits in your spouse rather than fight against them, the sooner you can start to build an extraordinary marriage.

I Am Thankful for This Knowledge

This is obviously not rocket science.  You knew this stuff before you read this post.  But did you realize the depth to which our masculine and feminine traits influence our marriage and really our entire world?

I only came to this realization lately.  And I am thankful for the knowledge.  I look at my wife as a beautifully feminine mate, and I understand why she doesn’t always think and react the same way that I do (thank God).  And she can forgive my shortcomings a lot easier when she realizes that I am not being obstinate or difficult…I just have inherent differences in the way that I see the world.

After all, I’m just a boy at heart.

Photo by Mo Kaiwen 莫楷文

Nov 22

Who Reads Engaged Marriage, Anyway?

By Dustin | General

Who Reads Engaged Marriage?

I have really enjoyed seeing the results of the Help Engaged Marriage Grow Up the Right Way survey come in over the past few weeks.  To date, a total of 74 responses were received, and I really appreciate it!  Please note that the survey closes at 100 responses, so if you would like to add your thoughts there is still time.

I love writing the posts here at Engaged Marriage, and I am proud that virtually everything you read is original content.  Most posts are written by me (Dustin), while we are occasionally treated to a guest post from a like-minded person with some valuable advice to share.  By the way, if you have something you would like to share, please send me a message using the Contact form at the top of the page.

Who Reads This Stuff?

As much as I enjoy writing, it can be tough at times to know my audience and feel connected to you.  It turns out this is pretty important when you are creating posts about marriage, sex, romance, money, etc.  Everything here at Engaged Marriage is intended to reach you on a personal level and help you achieve the extraordinary in marriage and in life.  It helps to know a bit about you when trying to meet this high standard.

This is where the survey idea came into play.  I thought if I could get a few of the readers to share a little about themselves and their preferences for the site, I could make Engaged Marriage a better place for all of us.

I hope that the survey served this purpose (and continues to do so with your continued input).  I want to give you a brief summary of the results, so you can see who your fellow readers are and what they think.  Let’s see if this matches your own thoughts and preferences.

The Survey Results in a Nutshell

  • 75% of the respondents are female.  Based on the proportion of comments and the feedback I’ve received via other platforms (email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), this was not a real shocker for me.  I am a bit disappointed that the men in cyberspace are not investing time learning to improve their marriages to the same degree that the ladies are, and I’d love to draw more guys to balance this out.  I’d love to hear your ideas on how we can get more manly-men interested in visiting the site.
  • The engineer in me loves the results of the question “How long have you been married?“.  As shown in the screen shot below, the graph is a pretty stellar bell curve (normal distribution) with the greatest number saying they’ve been married for 3-5 years.  I always figured the target audience were those married 0-5 years, and this is generally true.  I love that we have numerous single people and those married more than 21+ years actively involved here!

How long married

  • What types of posts would you like to read More of? Here’s the top 5 results in order:
  1. Communication
  2. Romance
  3. Children/Parenting
  4. Sex & Family Planning
  5. Finances & Careers
  • What types of posts would you like to read Less of? Here’s the top 5 results in order:
  1. Book & Product Reviews
  2. Marriage Preparation
  3. Individual Fulfillment
  4. Finances & Careers
  5. Links to Interesting Reads

I thought it was interesting that “Links to Interesting Reads” was chosen by 25% of respondents for a topic they wanted MORE of and also 25% for something they wanted LESS of. 🙂

  • Which topic for an e-book (short electronic book) would interest you the MOST? The results here were quite conclusive!  By a margin of nearly 3-to-1, you chose “15 Minutes to an Extraordinary Marriage: Why You Need Time Each Day to “Just Be a Couple” & How to Find It” as your top choice.  Also popular were the topics on Fitness, Natural Family Planning, Sex from the Soul, and Money & Marriage.

I would really like to start working on developing an E-book soon.  If you have specific thoughts on this topic, I would love to hear from you!

  • I only received a few requests for specific post topics.  Also, almost all of the suggestions for improvement were to write more posts!  I take this as a very nice compliment, and I am doing my best to keep the quality content coming while balancing my own marriage, family, a full-time career and a few hobbies thrown in.  Rest assured that I will do my very best to keep Engaged Marriage a place you want to visit frequently!

Let’s Build a Community

Like I mentioned above, it can be tough to write meaningful posts when your only feedback comes from reading your own words back to yourself.  In order to help all of us get the most out of this site, I’d really love to form a community at Engaged Marriage.

To do your part, I’d simply ask that you leave comments on the posts that you read, sign up for E-Mail updates or an RSS subscription, follow me and interact on Twitter, and become a “fan” of the Engaged Marriage page on Facebook.  I really see the Facebook page as a fantastic place for us all to interact.

Right now, please leave a comment to this post to say what you agree or disagree with from the survey results.  Let me know what you would like to see from Engaged Marriage in the future.  And, of course, you can still take the survey yourself until it reaches 100 respondents.

Thank you!

Photo by Marco Bellucci

Nov 20

How Does Natural Family Planning Benefit Marriage?

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Natural Family Planning Benefits Marriage

As you know if you have read my previous post describing what Natural Family Planning is and watched the NFP Informational Video, my wife and I are big proponents of Natural Family Planning.  I often cite NFP as one of the best things that has happened to our marriage, so I thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of the marriage benefits of Natural Family Planning to give you more insight into why we feel this way.

First of all, I need to let you know that some of the best benefits that NFP has provided for our relationship have really been intangible.  My wife and I have a great deal of peace about our sex life both from an intimacy standpoint and on the moral/religious/spiritual front.  And trust me, that’s saying a lot for a young Catholic couple trying to do the right thing. 🙂

When we found Natural Family Planning and started using it, we no longer had any of the lingering, often back-of-mind, worries about whether we were harming her health, marginalizing our intimacy, or reducing our sex life to something less than it should be.  From the outside, especially from a guy’s perspective, NFP can seem daunting and quite confining.  After all, it does require some periods of abstinence and we men aren’t the biggest fans of that idea.  Well, I’m here to tell you that after five years of using it, Natural Family Planning represents incredible freedom for our relationship.

Now for some of the more tangible benefits.

Five Benefits of Natural Family Planning for Marriage

1. A Stronger Bond. My wife and I have always been close and shared a special bond.  After all, we got married and have been a happy couple for many years.  However, when we started learning about Natural Family Planning and then started to put it into practice together, we grew closer on a level that I never knew was there previously.

When you can talk about the intricacies of your wife’s fertility signs (because you’ve bothered to learn them) and interpret those signs by her side (because you really care), you have a good bond.  And when you do this day-after-day and month-after-month through challenging times and in the face of cynical friends (and even family), you have an incredibly close bond that only you can share.  And when you come to the realization that sex truly is intended to be a religious experience (and you have experienced that way), you have formed a bond that you actually didn’t know was possible.  You just don’t get that from a condom.

2. Open Communication.  Listen, I have talked to my wife routinely about basal body temperatures and cervical mucus.  And not in the super sexy, erotic way that you must be thinking (that was a joke, just to be clear).  No, I am confident that I have more knowledge of the female fertility cycle than five generations of my forefathers combined.

Who cares?  My wife.  She knows that I care about her body, her sexuality and her soul because we routinely communicate about it.  You cannot effectively practice Natural Family Planning without improving the level of communication in your marriage.  It’s part and parcel, and it is one of the sweetest benefits of the process.

I simply cannot imagine a more intimate and sacred topic of conversation than that of fertility and the willingness to accept children (or not).  My wife and I have these discussions on a regular basis, and it has made us excellent communicators in all aspects of our marriage.

3. Mutual Decision Making.  When we decide if we are going to have sex during the “transitional” times between fertility phases, it is a complete and total mutual decision.  It really cannot be one-sided and it requires open communication.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times throughout each month where total spontaneity are possible…and fantastic.  But there are those times where we have to think together and reach important mutual decisions.  For us, this ability to make decisions together has enhanced everything from our finances to our parenting skills.

4. Raises Appreciation of Intimacy.  This one rocks.  We used birth control for the first four years of our marriage, and we thought we were getting all that we could out of our sex life.  We were wrong.

With the introduction of Natural Family Planning, the intimacy in our marriage (both inside and outside of the bedroom) achieved entirely new levels.  It wasn’t that things were all that different physically, but they were worlds better emotionally and spiritually.  Through our decision to try NFP, our NFP training and especially in our daily use of Natural Family Planning, we have definitely learned an entirely different appreciation for sex and intimacy.

Oh, and the “honeymoon effect” after the brief periods of abstinence each month is pretty sweet, too.

5. Marriage Insurance.  I think this term really sums up the value of all the other benefits in a very real and tangible way.  I’ll let the statistics speak for themselves:

The divorce rate for couples practicing Natural Family Planning is less than 5%. For the general population, it is nearly 50%.

‘Nuff said.

I hope this post helps to provide some insight into why I am so comfortable telling others that Natural Family Planning is the best thing that has happened to our marriage.  There is much more to this story, and we’ll get there with time.

For now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.  Do you practice NFP?  Have you even heard of it before this post (or before finding Engaged Marriage)?  What problems/challenges do you think you would have if you tried it?  This topic is a passion of mine, and I really want to hear from you.

Photo by pedrosimoes7

Nov 19

Vote for Your Favorite Marriage Blog!

By Dustin | General

Marriage Blog

My cyber-buddy and fellow marriage supporter Stu at The Marry Blogger is composing a list of the Top 10 Marriage Blogs, and I would love it if you can help.

How to Nominate your Favorite Marriage Blog:

1. Click here to post your nomination.
2. One vote per person…if you have more than one, only the first will be counted.
3. Include the URL of the blog.
4. Give a reason for your choice.
5. Pass the word on to other Marriage Blog readers/bloggers so they can vote too; you can contact your friends via Twitter, Facebook, your blog, carrier pigeon, etc. (here is a link to use: http://j.mp/top10marriage).
6. Your nomination must be received by December 2, 2009.

Thank you for helping out with this. Of course, I would love it if you voted for Engaged Marriage, but I won’t be offended if you choose a blog that you enjoy a bit more.

I think there is a real need for this kind of list, and I really look forward to seeing which websites get recommended and what readers enjoy about each. Remember, you have to click over to The Marry Blogger to post your nomination.

Thanks!

Photo by √oхέƒx™

Nov 17

7 Ways Children Teach Us About God

By Dustin | Children

Kids Teach Us About God

If you are a parent, a Godparent or just the cool aunt, you know both the joy and challenges that children bring to life.

If you believe in God, you probably also feel a responsibility to help raise these kids in a healthy way that teaches them about your faith.

This is fantastic, but have you taken a step back to consider what these same children teach us about God everyday?

Give it Some Thought

Really, you don’t have to be a deep thinker or get all dogmatic about it.

Just make a small effort to “zone in” and observe how you interact with the children in your life.

I took this opportunity myself, and I was amazed at all I learned about myself and my relationship with the “Big Guy” upstairs.

I do not intend to share an exhaustive list here.  Instead, I want to get your mind started in the right direction so you can better appreciate the very cool way that God communicates to us through the simplest relationships in our lives.

While this exercise will surely be effective for the parents among us, I really think anyone can see this truth, even if you just reflect upon your own childhood and the joys and tribulations you provided to your poor grateful parents.

7 Ways Children Teach Us About God

1. God feels the same about us as we feel about our children.

2. God is crazy about us and wants the best for us, even when it is not obvious.

3. God wants us to share and be kind to those we encounter.

4. God gives us free will & allows us to fail, but He hopes we learn our own way.

5. God’s love never ceases.

6. God is forgiving beyond our understanding.

7. God strives to give us the best possible direction, but we must choose to follow it.

When compiling this short list, I was tempted to write out some kind of comprehensive explanation behind each point.  However, I really think the beauty of this exercise is its simplicity.

Plus, each of us has our own unique experiences, both with God and with children, that we may contemplate for each idea.

Practice What God Preaches Through Children

So, next time you are enjoying a special moment of closeness with a little child, or (gasp) even a teenager, consider the source of your joy and just how cool it is to love and be loved.

Likewise, when you are at your wits end and ready to snap at the immaturity shown by your kid, take a step back and put your “God hat” on for a moment.  When you realize all of the ways that you act childish and fall short of what God wants for you, I suspect you’ll humble up a bit and see the value of patience and forgiveness.

What has a Child Taught YOU about God?

Photo by ☂CharlotteSpeaks
Nov 15

A Man with a Toothache Cannot Be in Love

By Dustin | Romance

Love Through Pain

Have you heard the title quote before?  The first time I came across it was this week, and it really hit home.  I believe the words “A Man with a Toothache Cannot Be in Love” originated with Shakespeare, but I’ve also seen the phrase attributed to Sigmund Freud in some internet searches.  Regardless, I thought it was a cool quote with a potentially deep meaning.

So why did I notice these particular words when I read them?  Well, I have been in pain this week.  Nothing super-serious, but for almost an entire week, I have had some pretty intense pains in my neck and upper back.

As my wife would be quick to point out, this pain is self-inflicted as it originated after spending several days sleeping in a camper by night and bowhunting by day.  I’m not sure exactly what I did, but it hurts and there is no good way to get neck pain out of your mind.

OK, so I have pain and I obviously have a low tolerance for it.  Now you must be thinking, “Quit the whining and make a point about how this affects me and my relationships.”  Thanks for asking!

Pain Can Overshadow Love

As the title quote implies, we can sometimes allow our pain to overshadow other, more important aspects of our lives.  This pain could be acute and physical like a throbbing toothache or a migraine.  It could also be the spiritual pain of loss or grief.  Or it may be the stress of financial difficulty, job loss or a difficult child.

My wife actually told me this week during one of our 15-minute discussions that I hadn’t been doing a very good job being romantic or helpful lately.  And especially not in light of the fact that I was gone the previous weekend on my “guys trip.”

That’s when I saw the Shakespeare/Freud quote and it hit me like an Epiphany.  I was allowing my own pain to overshadow my responsibilities to my wife and family.  Not good.

Show Your Love Through the Pain

There are many distractions in life that can affect our ability to properly prioritize our time and show love to those who are most important to us.  However, we simply cannot allow this to happen.  Our marriage comes first, and selfless love requires sacrifice even in the face of pain.

Of course, we are partners for a reason.  When we are experiencing pain, whether it be physical or emotional, it is vital that we let our spouse know about it.  I’m not talking about whining and complaining (though I’m good at that).  I’m talking about reaching out for help when we need it.  Whether it’s a simple neck rub or a late-night heart-to-heart about a career change, it is our spouse that we must be able to depend on in our times of pain.

Lessons Learned Through Love & Pain

It’s been a long week, but I have learned a lot.  I have learned that I need to get in better shape so I’m not so susceptible to nagging injuries.  I’ve learned that I can easily slip into a mode of selfishness where I let my own pain distort my priorities and let the romance in our marriage fade.  And I have reaffirmed the fact that I have a fantastic wife who is understanding, open and forgiving.

Above all, I’ve learned that Shakespeare or Freud were wrong.  Not only can a man with a toothache be in love, but he should be able to depend on his caring wife to help and support him.  And he should buy her some flowers, hold her hand and let her know how much her love helps to ease his pain.

Photo by dannotti

Nov 13

Round-Up of Interesting Reads #7

By Dustin | Link Round-Up

Among the other great information you have provided so far through the Help Engaged Marriage Grow Up the Right Way survey was some insight into how the Link Round-Up posts are being received.  Well, maybe insight isn’t the right word…the number of people who said they wanted more of these posts was almost equal to the number who said they wanted less!

So, for now, I will continue to share my favorite reads from around the web.  But the schedule for these posts will not necessarily be weekly.  This should provide plenty of time for me to write about the topics that everyone said they enjoy, while still pointing the way to other great resources available out on the World Wide Web.

So, without further ado!

  • The Day I Killed My Credit Card. Brad at Enemy of Debt provides a funny, satirical look at the difficulties of breaking away from the cycle of debt.  Your rewards card is not your provider.

And last but not least, I have to use the photo space in this edition of the Round-Up to share one of our latest family photos.  This was our first attempt at outdoor photography with our two little ones, and we had a blast!  Here is our happy crew:

My Great Family