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Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft :
104 article(s)

Vanessa, a Notre Dame grad, loves the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic education, and overbearing Mexican mothers, which she may or may not be. She lives in Austin with her husband and three daughters and is a freelance writer. You can find Vanessa at v.kraft.im or follow Vanessa on Twitter @laluped.
August 22nd, 2013

“OK, you two, stand up and look at each other. Vanessa, you’re a fiery Latina. Brandon, you’re WASP-y and keep everything bottled up inside. But now you’re on the same team so you have to work together.”
This is probably the one comment that has stuck with me the most six years after meeting with our priest during Pre-Cana (marriage prep required if getting married in the Catholic Church). I know I’ve talked about some ways that Brandon and I are different, but we differ tremendously in how we communicate.
Years after we went through Pre-Cana ourselves, we now facilitate a Marriage Prep Retreat for engaged couples during which I’ve heard many couples give the advice that arguments or heated discussions…

August 15th, 2013

You can ask any person who knows me, I am probably the worst procrastinator they know. My college procrastination antics were miraculous at times. I started every single paper that I wrote in college at 2 a.m. the same day it was due. No joke. I even pumped out my entire 17-page capstone paper for my Peace Studies minor between 2 a.m. and 12 p.m. (at which time it was due in my professor’s office on the opposite side of campus).
This is not something that I am proud of at all and I’m fairly certain that it will cause me to die a few years sooner. But even after college I continued this. When I was teaching I would write exams at 3 a.m. or finish grading seconds before my students walked in to pick up their grades.
Really, though,…

August 8th, 2013

I am not outraged (as some have responded here) that President Obama addressed the nation after the verdict in the Zimmerman trial. He absolutely needed to say something. He cannot pretend that he’s not African-American nor can he pretend that the experience of Trayvon Martin did not resonate with him. The notion that he cannot comment is asking Obama to not be human. We should welcome that the President, who comes from a different background from every other president in history, can offer the country a keen insight into what it is like to grow up as a black man in America.
That said, President Obama spoke of some scenarios I’ve heard before:
“And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the…

August 1st, 2013

I read a lot of articles on parenting. Working parents, stay-at-home parents, self-employed parents, somewhere in between parents. And if there is one trend that I have taken issue with, it is the amount of people who dismiss moms trying their hardest and doing good work.
I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve made fun of the mom with perfect salon hair and a cute hipster outfit, pushing a newborn around. “Obviously her child is a robot if she has that much time to get ready in the morning,” I would quip. Or when a mom I know on Facebook constantly posts about her workout routine and how much weight she has lost. I immediately go for the jugular, “Yeah, if I wanted to neglect my kids every day, I could have six pack abs, too.”…

July 25th, 2013

Brandon and I pretty frequently make decisions that cause big life changes. Sometimes I wonder if we’re too quick to change. Regardless, here we go again.
When we got married, we decided that one of us being home with our kids was a priority. After Olivia was born, I quit my job and stayed home. Then Brandon quit his job and picked up a new, more flexible one. So the second year I worked part-time and Brandon watched Olivia while I was at work. Then the opportunity for a higher-paying job arose. Brandon quit his job and became a stay-at-home dad. For the past two years I’ve worked full time at a wonderful Catholic high school.
I have loved my job these last two years. If I was single and had found this job, I would have felt…

March 6th, 2013

I’ve written about it before. My total contempt for technology. Brandon has always tried to get me to understand its value and benefits while I have always focused on the damage it does.
He can’t blame me too much. I was in college when social media started making the move from AOL Instant Messenger to Facebook. Texting was just picking up speed, too. Then I went to working with undocumented immigrants where I saw that U.S. consumerism was convincing some of them to spend money on useless extravagances like fancy phones with data plans instead of sending the money back to their families or saving it. Then I went on to working with high schoolers where I come to find out that most teenagers consider texting a hobby…

February 5th, 2013

I was up really late one night watching some really bad sports talk show. These two guys were debating something about Tim Tebow. I can’t remember exactly what it was about. But they were really getting into the argument. At one point, one guy asked the other, “Don’t you think that Christians are the last acceptable group to hate?” The other guy paused for a moment. I honestly expected him to start bashing Christians but his face softened for a moment. He finally said, “Look, a lot of people persecute Christians and their beliefs. It is everywhere. But what do we expect? Jesus told us this would happen. It’s spelled out very clearly. Jesus, Himself, told us that we would be persecuted, hated, killed. So…

January 22nd, 2013

This year La Lupe will turn 85. I’ve seen La Lupe through many different lenses during my life. When I was little, I saw her through the yelling-all-the-time-at-my-cousins-but-not-me-because-I’m-her-favorite lens. In college I began to appreciate her for more than just her great cooking. I began to appreciate her experience and wisdom. But then I started to make decisions that she didn’t necessarily agree with, so I saw her through an oh-this-is-what-it-feels-like-to-get-on-the-bad-side-of-La-Lupe lens. But I still appreciated where she was coming from. Now I can see her through my motherhood-makes-all-of-us-crazy-so-I-get-you-way-better-now lens. Every time we visit with La Lupe, my…

January 7th, 2013

I’ve always been a person who doesn’t like to hear excuses. I don’t dismiss all excuses because some are completely valid and the situation is out of the person’s control. But, especially since I work at a high school, I believe most excuses are people slacking off and trying to get away with it.
Recently, though, Brandon and I were given the opportunity to coordinate a Marriage Preparation Weekend for engaged couples. This is a ministry we’ve always been interested in helping out with, so we jumped at the chance to be able to facilitate the weekend. We should have more seriously considered that we would have a 6-week-old at the time, but we were optimistic about our time management skills. As the weekend…

December 19th, 2012

I really do. I can’t stand waiting for progress in people. You can call me a product of my generation. I need instant gratification. It’s not that I don’t want things to get better, it’s just hard to be patient enough to wait for it. I don’t want the excruciatingly slow army crawl toward a goal; I just want to arrive at it.
As newlyweds, Brandon and I found that this was the first big issue that came up in our marriage. I had such a hard time being patient with Brandon. In college, neither of us was particularly tidy or used to cooking. We went from living with our parents to a dorm room and dining hall for four years then a few years of us living in separate messy apartments eating a lot of cereal. After getting married…

July 31st, 2012

I feel grumpy. And I mean truly grumpy. I can hear the tone of my voice when I talk. I listen as pointed comments slip out of my mouth with the intent of making others feel bad or criticizing them. And I can’t just blame it on being pregnant — have I mentioned that I’m pregnant? For a while I have not been able to shake this cloud that has been hanging over my head. I have been blaming it on being pregnant, which might have a little to do with it. But I’ve finally owned up to the fact that I am feeling pretty joyless right now because I haven’t seriously prayed in a long time. I mean I’ve gone to Mass every Sunday and said prayers with the girls but I have not purposely sat down to pray or do anything devotional in about…

July 18th, 2012

I was very interested in one of the latest questions from the Busted Halo Question Box. The question was whether or not the person writing in should report a priest for yelling at him/her during confession.
This is an interesting question. I truly believe in the amazing healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In order for a person to even step into the confessional, that person has to overcome so much ego, so many excuses. Showing up for confession requires a huge amount of vulnerability and humility on that person’s part. Obviously, any person stepping into the confessional should not be taken lightly. We never know the battles this person is fighting or how life changing this moment can be for them.…

July 10th, 2012

I’m not one of those really proud annoying Texans who thinks Texas is better than every other state. But I am one of those annoying Texans that doesn’t know much about the rest of the country because I’ve lived in this huge state for so darn long. So when I think of New York City, most of my stereotypical assumptions come from either Friends or Seinfeld. That being said, you can imagine what I was anticipating when Brandon and I scheduled a vacation to New York City when Olivia was just six months old.
Brandon had a conference to attend all week and Olivia and I were staying with my best friend from high school who lived in the city. I was so nervous. If you know me at all, you know that I am pretty much the opposite…

June 26th, 2012

At Notre Dame, I was lucky enough to take some art classes. I love art and these were some of my favorite classes. In fact, I loved these art classes so much you would have thought that I should have been an art major. But I was too scared to put that side of me on display. After we finished each assignment, we would go student by student and critique one another’s work. Even though people were only commenting on my drawing of some fruit, on the inside I felt like they were critiquing how I looked in a swimsuit. I was dying on the inside. I couldn’t handle any kind of criticism of my art. I felt too naked, too vulnerable.
I couldn’t even handle it when my professor was offering individual advice as we worked. I loved painting…

June 13th, 2012

Wedding season is upon us once again. We’ve got four lined up this summer. Weddings always make me remember everything that went into our decision to get married. It was not simple and I had my share of harsh words with God. But in the end, we knew it was the path we were supposed to go down.
Ever since I was little I was always really open to becoming a nun or a sister. I had this very romantic image in my head of being in a cloister and praying all day or becoming a sister and living and working with the poor in some remote village in a far off land. I was ready for that life if God wanted it for me. This was not a hard lifestyle for me to imagine because I was not a boy-magnet in school and frankly, boys scared me. Of course I had my share…

May 1st, 2012

Since I was a kid, I have been in love with Dr. Seuss. His writings are so prophetic and contain such simple but powerful social commentary. He’s a man after my own heart. Although, The Cat and the Hat still kind of weirds me out, so many of his other books are just so good. I don’t know much about Dr. Seuss’ life or how he came to possess his set of values and morals but I can’t help but note how Catholic his writing is. A lot of his books line up with the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Horton Hears a Who — Dignity of the Person. Yertle the Turtle — Rights and Responsibilities. How the Grinch Stole Christmas — Call to Family, Community, and Participation.
But The Lorax,… this has always

April 18th, 2012

Spoiler Alert: This post assumes you have read The Hunger Games series and gives away parts of the story.
I totally jumped on The Hunger Games… bandwagon. I was completely engrossed in this series. I’m pretty sure I read all three books in about four days. As I read the story, I felt excited that teenage girls would feel empowered by a strong woman character. In my head I made up lesson plans as to how I would teach this book. Katniss is a girl who keeps her family going despite the most terrible of odds. She is not held back by society’s view of her nor does she lend much attention to what others expect of her. She is fiercely loyal to those she loves and would do anything for them. But what I liked most of all about Katniss is

April 11th, 2012

One day Brandon and I made up our minds to run a marathon. If you knew us, this decision would have sent you into laughing hysterics because we are both the most un-athletic people we know. But we were both desperately out of shape and were firmly resolved to do this. We found a running group. They placed us with a coach. Slowly over the weeks, we ran more and more miles. It was horrible. Excruciating. I had never worked so hard physically.

March 27th, 2012

I come from a family that shows its love through gift giving. I think this stems from La Lupe. She raised eight kids on the most meager of salaries, so now that everyone is grown and she has more discretionary money, she loves to buy gifts for people. It’s her love language. Some people are very affectionate, some write notes, some vocally proclaim their love. La Lupe does it by loading you up with tortillas, dried chiles, and cookies every time you leave her house. And occasionally you’ll get all this in the mail.
This character quirk of La Lupe has rubbed off on most other people in our family. They love to give us (especially our girls) gifts.
I understand this is not a bad problem to have. Oh, I never have to buy my children…

March 20th, 2012

The other day I was buying some food from a food truck and I noticed a homeless man sitting by the truck playing his guitar. I bought some extra food to give him as I walked back to my car. As I stopped to give him the food and tell him to have a good night, he grabbed my hand and asked me to listen to his song. So I did. I sat next to him and listened to the love song he had written. And then he talked to me for some time about the lady the song is about. He didn’t look twice at the food and seemed to have forgotten about it by the time I headed home.

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