'Muff'in Dome

Our Love Story

wedding invitation

Stephen shared a bit of our love story here when he gave me more sweet praise than I rightly deserve.

But I wanted to share a bit more on this 4th anniversary of our first date.

This story is our story and even if no one else reads it, I want to be sure I don’t forget any details. I want my children to know the story of their parents’. For isn’t every life just a series of stories woven together? But the moment one dares to fall for another, their lives become inextricably woven together until death do us part. The story of our lives became intermingled for life on our wedding day, but the weaving together began much sooner.fiddling-aroundWe began with a little prelude. And a wonderful prelude it is. <3

 


 

Before I share our first encounter, I must back up a bit and give a little background because the past does inform our future. As much as we want to hide from the past sometimes, when we are able to confront and learn from it, we are best able to move forward in the life God has planned for us.

My first image of Steve was from a Facebook photo. The mysterious man in the yellow shirt. A photo taken from a hitchhiking trip through Mexico, I could see he was an adventurous spirit. At the time, my friend and roommate was the one who had an interest in him.

man-in-yellow-shirt

I was in the midst of healing from a very damaging relationship. I had been engaged to a man who greatly lacked integrity and honesty. We never should have been in a romantic relationship, but discernment of this was greatly hindered by his lack of openness. The truth was revealed by him after much too long, and the damage was done. My soul had been battered by love lost, but also a sense of lost time and terror of what could have been had I not called things off. It was a lot to work through. My ability to trust had completely been torn asunder.

I gave myself some time alone, refusing proffered dates from good men. Even after I hesitatingly ventured back into the dating scene, I kept feeling I was not ready. The Lord was still doing work in my heart. It was not ready to love and trust again. Just yet.

 


 

November 2011. My aforementioned roomie was planning on attending a Thanksgiving Pilgrim-and-Indian party at the “mysterious man in the yellow shirt’s” house. He had invited all the young adults from our local Theology on Tap group. At that time, I was tentatively dating a young man {who remains a good friend to both of us!} and we decided to attend.

As we walked in the door at Stephen’s home, his warm welcome made a great impression on me. I found out that evening that his grandfather, whom he was very close to, had just passed away a few days prior and he had just found out that he did not pass the California Bar Exam on his initial attempt. You would never have known. He exuded joy. His positivity was infectious, although he must have been suffering interiorly.

It was an interesting evening, to say the least — my ex was there and we had a lengthy, jovial conversation about his family like nothing was wrong, which was very odd in retrospect — it became clear to me that the guy I was “dating” was not right for me — and my roommate and Stephen confirmed for each other that night that friendship only was for them.

The world kind of shifted that night. I didn’t realize it at the time, but saying ‘yes’ to that party on that dark and stormy night was one of the best decisions of my life. {Doesn’t a shift in the plot always occur during a raging storm?}

 


 

Over the next few months, Stephen and I ran into each other at various young adult/Catholic functions. We chatted a bit online. He was studying for the bar exam again and was coming down to Sacramento regularly for classes some weekends. In an effort to be hospitable to a kind soul, I invited him over for dinner with my housemates those days since he made a long trek to get there. At the time, I truly only had friendship in mind with him {or anyone else} and I wanted to get to know him better.

Steve & Laurel June 7

Turns out, God had other plans for us.

{He actually was interested in me, but I wasn’t fully aware. He was cautious about asking me on a date or anything because of the prior interactions with my roommate.}

Laurel-Stephen-at-the-beach

In March, my roommates and I held a long-overdue housewarming/St. Patrick’s party. Steve was our knight-in-shining armor, starting the bonfire in the tiny porch on our condo without burning the place down. When he came into the living room, he noticed a framed picture on a bookcase of St. Josemaria Escriva. He questioned whose it was. I remarked that it was mine, a picture of “an old friend.” He, too, called him “an old friend” as he had had an affinity for him since before he was Catholic. One thing Stephen didn’t know was that since being introduced to this saint in high school, I had prayed to him for help in discerning my future spouse. And, then, our “old friend” seemed to introduce us to each other.

That evening was the first time we really sat down and got to know each other. We spent a good portion of the party chatting and learning about one another. I definitely grew in my affection for him that night, but was unwilling to admit it, even to myself.4th of July 2011 Donner LakeOne weekend in April of 2012, we were praying with others at the sidewalk at the local abortion clinic where many young adults gathered on Saturdays to pray. Often, afterwards, we would all go out to a Catholic, family-owned restaurant and creamery as they were supporting our efforts at the sidewalk, so we tried to support them in turn. We did so that particular Saturday. Stephen and I ended up sitting next to each other and both ordered the same open-faced tuna melt. {Obviously destined for one another! ;)} After our meals and ice cream, we all parted ways. It was my father’s birthday, so I was headed to his house to celebrate. Stephen was headed home, an hour away. I stopped into a grocery on the way to my parents’ to pick up a few things, when I got a phone call that the party was cancelled due to illness in the house. Since I now had a completely open Saturday afternoon, I ran through in my mind possibilities of what to do. I had been wanting to visit our local art museum as it had recently undergone some serious renovations. I thought Stephen and I had had a conversation about it recently, and that he had told me he wanted to visit too. So I called him up, didn’t reach him, and left a message telling him that if he was nearby still we should go. He discovered the voicemail within minutes, pulled to the side of the road to listen to it and promptly called me back.

He’d been wanting to ask me on a date and here was his chance. Never mind that we had never talked about the museum! He diplomatically called me back and said he would love to go and was available! He never mentioned anything about the fact we had never spoken about it until later. A dream prompted by a guardian angel? Maybe. 😉

He offered to pay when we arrived; I allowed him to engage in the chivalrous act. We had a marvelous time walking the halls, making fun of the strange exhibit that glorified the death of Mickey Mouse (??). {Don’t worry, there were better things we saw too.} On the way home, we stopped by the Starbucks where my other roommate was working to quench our thirst and continued chatting for a bit.

4th of July 2011 Donner Lake 2

When she got home that night, I was questioned at length about what Stephen and I were doing together, but I was insistent that nothing was going on. He was just a great guy and we were hanging out.  That’s it.

Fast forward a few weeks. Stephen was over at our place again after a Bar study weekend. We had finished dinner and this same roommate I just mentioned was asking him about a “date” he had with another friend of hers to his brother’s wedding. He had invited this girl because she was a friend and he thought it would be great to bring along a “date”, but just wanted a friend. She kind of thought it was something more {even though he was clear from the get-go}. He was telling us that it was unfortunate that she was pushing things when he had been very clear with her where he stood. My brother’s wedding was the weekend following his brother’s, so I remarked that it was great idea to bring a friend along as a “date” to your brother’s wedding, but it was too bad this other girl was rather dense. My roommate piped up, “Well, I’m sure Steve would love to go with you!” Secretly, I’d been wanting to ask him and he’d been wanting me to, so although that was awkward, it worked out in the end.

king-of-the-mountain

Later on that week or so, he asked me on our first “real” date. We were to go to the Jazz Festival in Sacramento the day after his brother’s wedding. I love music and I love the Jazz Festival, so he won major brownie points with that pick. Within minutes of arriving at the scene, we entered our first venue where we kept waiting and waiting for the performers to arrive. It was a group of Mexican mariachi musicians, who, as it turns out, had fallen asleep in their van between performances. Someone, eventually, woke them to let them know they were on. I discovered that it was the same band that had played my post-race performance at a half-marathon I had run a few weeks prior. This was turning out to be quite interesting. Just after the band finished their set, an older couple approached us. They were cousins of Steve’s mom. They remarked, “How nice to meet you at the wedding yesterday!” I think Steve wanted to hide under a chair, but I easily laughed it off as I knew about this previous “date”. It just provided further comic relief to the already odd start to the day.

We spent the day listening to fantastic music and wandering around Old Town. At one point, we stopped on the river boat for drinks. I remember standing on the helm, sipping in the twilight, and thinking, I’m going to fall in love with this guy. want to fall in love with this guy. 

mountain-top-laurel-stephen

For a long time, I had been holding myself back in a big way. It was one of the reasons why every time I agreed to go on a date, sort of take a chance, I couldn’t last past a few dates. I didn’t want anyone else in my life.

But now. Now I did.

I didn’t tell him that night. I was still afraid.

old-town-sac

We finished off the night at a fun Italian restaurant in midtown where we sat at the largest table in the place because it was the only one available. Never mind that it held a dozen people. We found we had a similar, adventurous taste in pizza and shared two of the most exotic on the menu.

The following weekend, we had a great time at my brother’s wedding. We even had the pleasure of driving the bride and groom to the reception when they found a flat tire on their car after leaving the church. {That’s where my brother and sister-in-law met her soon-to-be brother-in-law, from the back of his car, on the way to their reception.}

Berkeley October 2011

Within a week, he asked me on another date. It was a surprise. We drove up to a little hidden gem called Biba’s in downtown Sacramento. It’s an Italian place whose chef is world-renowned. I knew of this place and had dreamed of going there, although I don’t think I ever voiced this to anyone. He was winning his way to my heart step by step {and swiftly}. Sometimes it seemed like he knew me better than I knew myself already.

We closed the place down that night, and before he said good night, as he walked me to my door, he told me in no uncertain terms that he was serious about this, he wanted to date me. His frankness was stunning, yet so comforting.

Truckee July 2011

I told him I needed a little time to think. God seemed to lead us to this place, yet I was still afraid to take the step. I didn’t want to get hurt.

But I wanted to say ‘yes’.

When I finally did a few weeks later, I was almost certain it was for life.

He knew too.

We dated for two months and were engaged by August. But that is a story for another time. :)

lets-merry

Moments ~ {Vol. 8}

outdoor play

Lots of time outside during these beautiful Spring days. Evelyn draws, Lucie observes.

rosebuds

We have a single rosebush on our backyard fence. It is very stingy with the roses. It produced twice as much this year and this is half of them.

static hair on the slide

Her hair is the perfect length for the static look after coming down the twirly slide at the park. 😉

coldstone

Summer-like weather one day had us out searching for the biggest ice cream treat. Success.

picnic lunch

Picnic weather!

strawberries!

Need to work on that “talking with our mouth full of food” thing…. 😉

whipped cream!

My daughter possibly loves strawberries more than I do. Is that even possible?!?!

inspecting her hands

“What is this strange stuff on my hands??”

stamping

Fantastic thrift store find. She’s all about stamps right now.

winnie the pooh puzzle

And puzzles. She sits for hours most days working on them.

new york puzzle

Her taxi one we picked up in New York. So proud!

watching the rowers

My youngest brother participated in the Southwest Regional Rowing Championships this past weekend. We enjoyed watching and wading in the warm water.

beach babe

Those rocks were great for sifting through her fingers. Over and over and over….

bean bag love

She had never encountered a bean bag chair before but we happened upon this one at the used kids’ clothing store in town. She carried it over to me and said, “There’s something in here, mom,” very concerned look on her face. I had to explain that it was like a big pillow and it was filled with things to make it soft for sitting on. Next thing I know, I come around the corner and find her like this. She understood. :)
fun with friends

We celebrated a good friend’s birthday this week with a gathering of wonderful faces that we love to see.

 

 

happy birthday matt

His wife made a delicious ice cream cake with funfetti cake and butterfinger ice cream per his request. It was a great combo!

 

blowing out the candles

Happy birthday, Matt!

Fr. Junipero Serra: A Vital Part of California’s Heritage

Sometimes I find myself complaining that the United States seems to be lacking in heavenly friends {i.e. saints of the canonized variety}. But, in truth, there are more than I realize. Actually, one happens to be resting in the terra firma {although I’m not sure how firm it is due to those shaking quakes} of Northern California.

He’s kind of a big deal here out West.

Blessed-Junipero-Serra-

 

Blessed Junipero Serra {soon-to-be SAINT come September} started the movement and founded many of the beautiful missions that run up and down the coast of California.

I’ve long had a devotion to this California missionary. He truly is “one of the founding fathers of the Unites States” as Pope Francis recently called him, having established community and culture here in California during the 1700s. These little communities erected around the missions helped in both the material and spiritual welfare of its citizens, providing refuge from an oftentimes hostile environment out on the frontier.

The Franciscans of the missions provided instruction on useful life-skills. They aided in the development of technology of the day. They provided medical services for those who were ailing. And like many of the monks who came before them, they helped preserve texts and the sacred music of the Church too. All of this in addition to sharing the Gospel of Christ with those they encountered.

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Recently, the US Senate proposed and voted to remove Junipero Serra’s statue from the nation’s capitol, claiming he wasn’t a suitable representative of California. It is a great insult to our nation’s history, and especially that of California, to even suggest removing it. His influence was great in the founding of this state, and as San Diego’s Bishop McElroy recently pointed out, he is representative of the ever-growing Hispanic population residing in our state having come here from Spain himself.

It is unfortunate that our Senate must engage in revisionist history in order to push their agenda. And all of this is happening just as Pope Francis is preparing for his trip to Washington D.C. in September to canonize Serra.

“What made Friar Junipero leave his home and country, his family, university chair and Franciscan community in Mallorca to go to the ends of the earth? Certainly, it was the desire to proclaim the Gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty.”

Junipero Serra had a missionary heart. He gave up much to serve the people of the Americas and bring the Good News to this nation. I’m sure his actions were not always perfect, but his intention to bring a better life and share Christ with others was full of greatness.

Let us pray with the Holy Father for an extension of this upon our country once again as we prepare for Fr. Serra’s canonization.

“We ask the Risen Jesus, Lord of all ages, that the life of our American continent may be rooted ever more deeply in the Gospel it has received; that Christ may be ever more present in the lives of individuals, families, peoples and nations, for the greater glory of God. We pray too that this glory may be manifested in the culture of life, brotherhood, solidarity, peace and justice, with a preferential and concrete love for the poor, through the witness of Christians of various confessions and communities, together with believers of other religious traditions, and people of upright conscience and good will. Lord Jesus, we are merely your missionary disciples, your humble co-workers so that your Kingdom may come!”

Southwest Junior Rowing Championships Regatta {7QT}

A series of quick takes in photos from the regatta last weekend:

at the catch

At the Catch

recovery

Recovery

flying

Flying Down the Course

digging in

Digging In 
cheering crowd

Cheering Squad

babes at the beach

Babes at the Beach

joy of the waterThe Joy of the Water

 

 

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7QT. 

My Domestic Mission {Blessed is She}

“I am a missionary. Yet, I have never been on a mission.

I live out my mission each day in my home.

Missionary work calls us to give of ourselves to those in need. Some of the neediest ones I have right before me every day. My little ones require food, clean bodies, education, entertainment. They require my attention, my affection, my affirmation, my heart.”

Click here to read more.

Sharing my thoughts on my ‘missionary’ work at the Blessed is She blog this week.

When the Well Runs Dry ~ ‘Capture the Moment’ {A Book Review}

The creative well can run dry. Any creative soul knows this. But true artists know that pushing through the dry spell is not only necessary, but can often result in a renewal of the fountain.

The intricacies of photography are not unknown to me {although I am constantly learning new skills and improving}, but where I really run into a wall sometimes is finding inspiration in my creativity. Finding new angles, new subjects, new sources of light.

photo 1-9

Sarah Wilkerson, the CEO of Clickin Moms, has a new book out which is helping me overcome that creative dry spell in leaps and bounds. Not only does she provide ample, novel technique suggestions in Capture the Moment {accompanied by exquisite example photographs from the Clickin Moms community}, but she also gives challenges at the end of each chapter to complete.

Maybe it’s my competitive nature, but it certainly helps get me motivated to get out there and get clickin’.

Photographing my every day is important to me. I love capturing what may seem like the mundane, but, in truth, is really the beauty and substance of life. Sure, it is wonderful to capture the once-in-a-lifetime moments — birth, weddings, etc. — but the day-to-day is equally special.

The interest of the viewer {and the photographer, really} is better captivated through a bit of creative license, rather than just an average snapshot. Wilkerson’s book helps one do just that.

With a wealth of ideas for photographing a variety of subjects, it would be hard to find one’s creative well run dry with her book in hand.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

Life

life with pic

Jubilee of Mercy: Merciful Like the Father

 

Today the website was launched for the Jubilee of Mercy. There has been much thought put into this extraordinary year which will begin December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and reach its completion on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. There will be celebrations for youth, catechists, priests, prisoners, the infirm, the disabled, the Roman curia, consecrated, religious, workers, volunteers of mercy, etc. The Holy Father leaves no one out. He invites all to the celebration, to experience the Mercy of the Father.

 

I especially love the logo designed by Father Marko I. Rupnik for the occasion. The rich symbolism is beautiful. Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 7.16.49 AM

The logo and the motto together provide a fitting summary of what the Jubilee Year is all about. The motto Merciful Like the Father (taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure (cfr. Lk 6:37-38). The logo – the work of Jesuit Father Marko I. Rupnik – presents a small summa theologiae of the theme of mercy. In fact, it represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption. The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.

The scene is captured within the so called mandorla (the shape of an almond), a figure quite important in early and medieval iconography, for it calls to mind the two natures of Christ, divine and human. The three concentric ovals, with colors progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the night of sin and death. Conversely, the depth of the darker color suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father who forgives all. 

Source

Tea Time! {Adagio Tea Giveaway – CLOSED}

Tea gives rhythm to the day. A cup to warm up and wake up in the morning. An afternoon sip to accompany a small snack and bring a little wakefulness to the mid afternoon slump. An herbal tisane to help send you into peaceful slumber.

tea pots

Since college, at least, I’ve enjoyed the rhythm of tea drinking throughout my day. Some of my best memories of college include sitting on the floor with a group of my closest pals, forcing a much-needed break from our studies to catch up, laugh, and forget those papers and readings for a moment. We would pull out our fine china cups and large tea pots, filling them up with a jasmine, an oolong, an earl grey. . . Sweet treats that had been stashed away to share would emerge from drawer. We would settle in for an hour to enjoy each other’s company while sipping a warm cup.

tea time

Now, as a mother, I still like to take that pause in the middle of the afternoon with my girls. Cookies or tea cakes come out of the cupboard. I steep a cup of tea. {They enjoy a cup of apple juice.} Our daily tea party is important. It is a great place to ‘waste’ time together, a great place to connect.

photo 1-8

 

I recently discovered an online tea company, Adagio Teas, that is helping me to carry on this tea habit. They have an amazing variety of teas. AND they allow you mix your own blends!

adagio teas

I picked up a blend called Valentine in February that is reminiscent of chocolate-covered strawberries. {And you all can imagine how all over that I was!} It’s a fun tea to drink alongside a slice of chocolate cake.

Earl Grey with lavender has always been one of my favorites. Caffeinated, yet calming. It is best with a splash of milk. I’ve had difficulty finding it but Adagio did not disappoint.

Their green teas are great, their white teas are bright, the chai hits it with just the right amount of spice. If the herbals are more ‘your cup of tea’, they have some fun berry blends, a delightful chamomile, and a collection of mates. I’ve never seen so many rooibos options!  And you don’t want to miss their flavored black teas — they’re sure to have one of your favorites.

I created a Cool Vanilla Peppermint blend for a friend. I was able to determine exactly how much of each tea went into the blend. Try blending your own!

The teas are available in loose leaf sample packs, 3 ounces, 16 ounces or as tea bags. So many options. I ordered a handful of sample packs for a few dollars a piece {most of which make about 10 cups of tea!}, and a few of my favorites in the larger pouches.

 

Would you like to try a cup or two of their excellent blends?? Adagio has sent me a collection of samples to send to one lucky reader! To enter, leave a comment with your favorite tea. For an extra entry, follow me on Instagram and post a comment letting me know you did. Giveaway ends May 4th, 9pm PST. The winner is Katrina! Thanks for playing, all!

If you just can’t wait, head over to Adagio where all first-time buyers receive $5 off their first order.

Our Trip to New York City : the Last Two Days

There was a lot of walking this past weekend.

walking the streets of nyc

In between wedding events on Saturday, we meandered the streets of New York City. A highlight of our sightings was this shiny, red engine that had just backed into its garage right before we walked by, lights and sirens blaring. Evey was in awe.fire truck nyc

Stephen was part of the wedding party so we dropped him off in the morning to prep and feast while we went on our own adventure. We found ourselves at Central Park for a little picnic in the gorgeous spring weather.

picnic in central park

picnic in central park

Even did a little swing time…

swinging in central park

….with a beautiful view of the city.

swinging in central park

These were my seat mates as we waited for the ceremony to begin inside the gorgeous St. Malachy’s chapel in Midtown.

Lucie at St malachys

Evey at St. Malachys

I managed to snap a few pics inside the chapel before the girls awoke from their naps.

st malachys

st malachys

Lucie attempted to sing with the choir throughout the ceremony, but otherwise, was well-behaved.

wedding at st malachys

wedding at st malachys

wedding at st malachys

wedding at st malachys

bride in nyc

limo to reception

reception at copacabana

The reception was at the Copacabana Club, on their rooftop lounge.

reception at copacabana

With a gorgeous view of the city from the top.

rooftop of copacabana

True to form, Evey couldn’t wait for the dancing to commence so she was swinging with her daddy before others got out on the dance floor.

dancing with daddy

dancing with daddy

dancing with daddy

dancing at the copacabana

And, just like her mama, was one of the first out on the floor when the party got started. 😉

dancing at the copacabana

She kept escaping back onto the floor to bust a move.

dancing at the copacabana

dancing at the copacabana

at the copacabana

She was also very fond of the mother-of-the-bride and tried to hang out with her every moment she got.

L and Daddy at the copacabana

Lucie was not as easily entertained.

L is not impressed

sisters

Unless Evey was around. 😉

wedding cake sparks

The cake cutting. Spectacular.

wedding cake sparks

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On Sunday, our flight didn’t leave until 5:30 in the evening so we escaped back into the city for one last adventure….to the second-largest bookstore in the US!

strand nyc

And a tasty treat at Dean & Deluca in the New York Times building.

dean and deluca nyc

Bye-bye, New York! See you next time.

bye nyc

bye nyc

Back home on west coast soil, a bit bleary-eyed, we still had a 2+ hour drive home. The girls conked while Stephen and I loaded up on caffeine to make the drive back.

home to sf

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