Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wow We are Now Mama and Papa...

Dear friends,

Greetings! The weather here in Vienna has been off and on. The Viennese say that this is the "typical weather" for the spring - unpredictable.

Speaking of unpredictable, I must say that if you had told me five years ago that I would meet the woman of my dreams and have the most beautiful son I would have chuckled and changed the topic; but this is now the reality, and I must say that I am loving every moment of it.
Cay and I were talking after I got home from work today about our life as it stands. We have both realized that we are the happiest that we have ever been. For myself, I cannot recall any moment in my history that I have been this happy.

We also realized that becoming parents is a huge change from not being parents (to put it simply). Let me explain. It was one thing to get married - to go from dating and engagement into married life. Yes, it was challenging, and yes, there were times we wanted to tape each other's mouths shut. But to go from not having a child to having a child is another earth-shattering thing altogether.
For Cay, it is noticeably different in every way. First of all you have this beautiful tiny human that needs the mother in every way possible - from comfort to food. Cay can't simply take a break from Elijah (well, at times she can; thanks mama and papa!); he is fully dependent on her for everything. Cay needs to feed him and comfort him. Don't get me wrong and don't underestimate my role; I do try my hardest to help in this department. But there is a bond (emotionally, physically, and perhaps, spiritually) between the mother and the child that cannot be substituted. I even notice as I try to hold him while he is crying and Cay takes him from my arms... it's like he is instantly soothed. Elijah knows who his mother is.
I asked Cay if she felt this difference and responded with a strong yes. She said that it just feels different now that he is in the world. She said she feels more protective now; and not just over Elijah, but over me as well. I believe that she has truly become a mother. She now knows what it means to sacrifice not just her time, but her body as well for another person. This is extremely profound.

For myself, I feel as if the world has changed as well. I have felt myself being more protective as well. When Elijah was born last week, the midwives were saying he was a bit small. I must say that I have never prayed for a woman to produce more breast milk! I'm interested now about things from health insurance to school-systems.

I think now my mindset has changed. The fear that I had has been replaced with a firm resolution to be the best man that I can be; for not just Cay and Elijah, but because that is what the One who has made me has designed me to be. Like a soldier defending his country, this is something I am both compelled and bound to.

The world is different now with the birth of our son, Elijah Rene Granado.
In our talk, we both concluded that our life is "different". And it is different in an amazing and beautiful way. We both agree that we cannot imagine our life before he was born, and it's like we, through our marriage, are finally becoming the people that we were intended to be: mother and father. We can now say, although with a short time of experience, that parenthood has been the most rewarding, beautiful, challenging, awesome and transformative experience that we have both gone through.

Blessings to you all,

Vince, Cay and Baby Elijah

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Welcome to the World Son!

Dear beloved,

May we present to you our son, Elijah Granado. He was born today, 21 April 2011 in Vienna, Austria at 9:14am.

We will give you more details shortly :-)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Close Call...

Dear all,

Today was an interesting day for all of us here in the Granado/Santayana home.

As usual Cay and I went to work (although we left a bit earlier today).

We went our separate ways in the office (Vince works in Nuclear Safety and Cay works in Human Resources).

And usually we meet up for lunch at around 1pm.

That is the usual routine and we have done this hundreds of times since we both started working at the UN.

Today was different....

I called Cay at around 11am, after a very hectic morning of running up and down stairs between two offices, to vent to my wife about how I was dramatically improving my cardiovascular condition from all the running and stair-climbing. I asked her, "Honey, I have had such a crazy morning. How are you?" (As I have been mindful of her super-pregnant condition as of late)

Her answer nearly took my breath away.. "Umm, not too good. I am leaving for the hospital, because I am feeling pains in my lower back."

At this point I remembered what our doctor told us at the last visit, "...the contractions could feel like lower back pains in some women."

WOAH. I thought to myself... He is really coming now! Elijah is on the way!

My mind completely filled with wonder, panic, fear, excitement, happiness, and almost every other emotion. But most of it was filled with the joy that our son was about to be born...

I blurted out a question, "Are you having contractions? Is this it?"

She answered, "I don't know, but I'm going to the hospital; Mama and Papa are on their way to pick me up."

WOAH (again). My mind again was filled. IT'S REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN! All these months and here it is!

I asked again, "So this is it? I'm coming too!" She answered calmly, "No don't go yet; it could be nothing. I will call you when I get to the hospital and let you know if it is really happening."

My mind was already made up that this was it and all that I could think about what Elijah's arrival.

My colleague was working on something as I hung up the phone and she asked me if I could do her a favor. I said, "It's really happening and I'm a bit nervous."

She answered, "Don't be nervous, just answer the questions confidently." She thought I was referring to an upcoming job interview in the department.

"No, the baby is coming! I think." I exclaimed

"What?! What are you doing here? Go!" She was flabbergasted.

"My wife told me to wait, because it could be nothing."

"Oh, well then. Nevermind. Can you fix the funding line on this document?" Her wisdom took over as she knew that false alarms were very common in a pregnancy.

In short friends, it was indeed a false alarm. Elijah was not born today and although he is 3 weeks away each day seems like an eternity. It's like waiting a the top of that tall rollercoaster before you take the first plunge downward. Your stomach churns in anticipation and every discomfort that my wife shows I quickly ask if she may be in labor. The anticipation is killing me and yet my beautiful wife is calm and serene as she always is.

But here is some food for thought. Where is YOUR heart in moments of panic or close calls? I believe that in instances like these we really see where we have invested ourselves.

Comments welcome :-)


Vince and Cay

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Debt Free at Last....

Dear brothers and sisters...

Greetings on this gorgeous Saturday. We woke up to sun (a bit of wind) and very cool spring weather. It was the perfect sleeping weather on a Saturday morning in Vienna.

Although there is much to do today, the stillness in the morning was well needed after such hectic weeks of travel and work. We are also sure that baby Elijah is enjoying less stressed mommy and daddy.

So this morning we are writing on debt.

Debt is a noun, and it is typically referring to something, usually money, that is owed or due.

Now that I'm thinking of it, I am reminded of famous Greek philosophy on debt. They believe that there are certain debts that can never be repaid no matter how much you work to chomp away at it. One kind of debt like this is the debt that is owed to your parents. In that your mother bore you in her womb for nine months it is incomprehensible to think of the amount you could give her to par with that expense. It would be impossible to pay off that debt; you would simply have to be indebted (through love) and grateful to her for the rest of your (or her) life and try your best to care for her in her older years. That's the ancient Greek mindset at least.

However, there is debt that can be paid off. And the debt that should be paid off, above most debts, is financial debt.

When you are financially indebted, no matter how much you are on top of things, you always know it. You can try to forget it, rationalize it, etc., but the simple truth is that (unless the institution you're indebted to dissolves your debt OR you declare bankruptcy) you will always owe. I am speaking out of personal experience here when I say that when you are in debt it is as if there is a weight placed upon you.

And some of us have heavier weights than others.

But today my brothers and sisters I am here to tell you that we are 100% debt free! Vince payed off the last credit card today and now we feel as if the last weight had been taken off of our backs. It's actually physically relieving to know that you owe no one any money!

You may be asking how we did it, and we could give you the whole plan on how Vince did it. Chances are if you are intrigued by this you have seen all the plans for paying off your debt (consolidating credit, spreadsheets, financial success classes, etc.), and you may have tried many of them. If you want the in-depth plan that Vince made in killing our debt, email him at

But the simple truth is that the way to kill your debt is simple:


Spending Less

When Cay and I got married we quickly agreed that we need to monitor our spending so that we could live simply. We both agreed that we have a lot of things and that there was no NEED for anything more; anything else we were to acquire in our life would simply be a luxury (not that there is anything against luxury, but like all excesses they need to be kept in moderation). We agreed that shopping sprees were bad and that we would talk about practically everything we bought (from books and shoes to houses). It took some getting used to, but it works and we are now enjoying the rewards of this philosophy. The most important thing is this aspect is that you DON'T BUY ANYTHING YOU CAN'T AFFORD. This means not using your credit card. Actually it may not be a bad idea, if you are addicted to yours, to cut it up until you have paid it off.

One thing Vince asks when he wants to buy something is, "Can I use this 5-10 years from now?" and then he says, "I will wait till the weekend is over and if I still think I need it then I will buy it."

Debt Payment

We both work and Elijah has not been born yet therefore we have made it a priority to save a large majority of our paychecks. Why? Because there will come a time when Cay may not be able to work. And all of you with children know that kids (in a nice way) incur expenses. So when you can save you should.

But more importantly, above saving, you should attack your debt like warrior in battle. Do not let your credit card, loan, mortgage payments ever get through the lines. And when you can, pay more than the minimum. Vince was able to pay off his credit cards by paying at least twice the minimum payment. There were times that he paid 4-5 times the minimum. It may seem like a lot, but you will be saving thousands in the future.


Wow... this is a big topic. What is tithing? In the Old Testament the Israelites were to give 10 percent of their riches to the Lord as their first offering. What does that mean to us? Well, if you want to speak in terms of strictness it means that you give 10% of your total household salary to the Lord, usually through your Church. Cay and I like to give 5% to the Church and 5% to our prayer community. Sometimes we will give our tithe to a charitable organization (like the Japanese effort organizations), but the most important thing is that right off the top 10% of our salaries go to helping others.

How does this help with your debt you ask?

In helps in a couple ways:

1) If really makes you budget your expenses. When you commit to tithing, automatically 10% of your income is gone and now you have to work with what you got - with debt attack as the first priority, right after food and shelter.

2) We believe that the Lord has a lot of money and when you give back to Him, He does not fail to bless you. One concrete example for us this year has been His generosity to us through the Austrian Government. We have been tithing strictly this entire year and just recently we both received checks from the Austrian Government for the pre-tax Euros we were contributing before we joined the UN. (The UN has it's own pension scheme, so there is no need to contribute to the Austrian one) After we started working at the UN, the Government gave us back nearly all the taxed Euros we contributed since we started working in Austria. Anyways... it was a very very big check. And we believe that it is due to divine intervention through the Austrian authorities. GOD IS NEVER OUTDONE IN GENEROSITY.

So in conclusion... kill your debt. Live simply. And when you are finally debt-free you will know what I am talking about when I say that a weight will be lifted off of you. Moreover, contrary to pop beliefs, there is no such thing as "good debt"; the only good debt is no debt.

Blessings to your weekend!

Let us know what you all think in the comments :-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Crazy Couple of Weeks...

Dear all,

Greetings! I hope you didn't think we fell off the face of the earth. These past couple of weeks have been a challenging one.

Vince has been pretty much away for the past couple of weeks. He was in London two weeks ago helping plan out a youth conference and then this past week he was in the Netherlands for work. For those of you who think the charm and delight of travel is amazing... well, it is. But it is really difficult when you have someone(s) who are waiting anxiously for your return.

It's also tough when you are traveling and you don't have someone to share the beauty of the moments with.

You all know what I am talking about.

We were talking the other day and we remembered the times we traveled to different locations (before we were together) and we both said to our respective selves at the time, "This place is beautiful/breathtaking/wonderful/etc., but it would be so much more when you have some one to share it with."

When Vince was in Amsterdam this past weekend all he wanted to do was call and tell me how beautiful the city was.

(side note: He was in the Redlight District and it was very interesting for him to see women pent up in windows and to smell marijuana up and down the streets.)

The thing is that when you spend so much time with a person, a person you go to sleep with and wake up next to, its weird when you aren't around that person for a while. It's like you are not entirely whole. Like that person now contains a part of you and you of that person.

Thoughts on this?