'Muff'in Dome

What I Learned in July


It has been fairly quiet around here. And that’s a good thing. Lots of activities happening with my girls, work on our house and in the yard being accomplished, time for reading books and time to contemplate what I’ve read, ‘date nights’ with my husband. It’s been a good month.

I like reflective posts–posts where one looks back at what has influenced them over the past week/month/year. Emily Freeman has a monthly link-up of “Things Learned In {Fill-in-the-Month}” so I’m joining up this last day of July to fill you in on a few things I’ve learned this past month.

  • There is still hope that the United States {and world} will wake up to the atrocity that is abortion. That they will see it for what it truly is.

I haven’t watched a single video that has been released over the past week or so by the Center for Medical Progress because I know what is happening. I know it is grotesque to be ripping our children apart limb by limb in their mothers’ wombs. I don’t want to hear people speaking casually about it like it’s no big deal. But I’m glad it is being revealed so that those are blind to what is happening may actually see and hear, and, hopefully, have a change of heart. I hope this is the catalyst to truly change hearts on the issue of abortion.


  • It is perfectly legitimate to eat ice cream for dinner when the weather has been 100+ most of the day.

I’m a bit of a rule-follower. {Despite my requests for cookies for breakfast as a child.} But I have not minded bending the “ice-cream-is-dessert” rule one bit this summer. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  • Creativity in the kitchen feeds my soul as well as nourishes my body {and those of family}. I need to practice it.

I started out blogging as a food blogger about six years ago. It was very difficult for me during pregnancies {because of food smells} and even more so with littles running around {because we want to help, we’re hungry, etc.} but I’ve had a small ease up on these difficulties so I’m attempting to make time for it again. I love creating new recipes and sharing them with others so you should see more recipes on here weekly.


  • Fresh flowers, even in a semi-cluttered home, make the home so much brighter.

Sometimes I hesitate to spend the four or five dollars on a bunch of flowers at the grocery. It seems frivolous. But is it? I think appreciation of beauty, particularly natural beauty, is a sign of human flourishing. Why wouldn’t I want to foster that attitude in my home?

  • That vulnerability is a good thing. It allows us to love. The opposite–shame–breaks down relationships.

This month I read Brene Brown‘s Daring Greatly. I’ve had so many thoughts on this book and I’m hoping to share more, but for now just contemplate this truth. {And if you have a second, go watch her TED Talk.}


  • With something slightly out of the ordinary, at-home date nights are possible.

For a while, it seemed silly to me to have date night at home. I spend most of my day at home, the last thing I want is to sit at home to refresh and relax with my husband. But finding a hobby we enjoy together has made the time at home together special and unique from the usual lounging on the couch reading or watching TV. We both enjoy craft beers so we bought a beer journal and have been learning the art of beer critique all the while enjoying a brew or two and discussing it. We love it! Follow along on instagram: #muffbrews. {And I’m hoping to have Steve publish posts on our discoveries!}

  • Forgiveness is always possible {with God}. 

I’ve had my own great struggles with forgiveness but I think this would seem an impossibility for me. Praise God for all His blessings.


What have you learned this month?

{Also linking up with Kelly for 7QT.}

Salmon Bread Salad ~ {Eat Seasonal}

In the summertime, I work really hard to avoid as many dishes as I can that require me to turn on the oven. This one is an exception. It’s fairly quick on-and-off. And you can get it done earlier in the day to avoid heating up the oven at the hottest part of the day. {But if you do, just high-tail it to your nearest watering hole for an after-dinner swim.}

Seasonal zucchini and tomatoes straight from the garden or farmers’ market. A healthy dose of Omega-3s from that tasty pink salmon. Delicious and nutritious–what’s not to love?


Salmon Bread Salad

Adapted from Food52

1 T French dijon mustard
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and set aside. 

about 2 cups of rustic bread, pulled apart into bite-size pieces
1 lb of zucchini, quartered and cut into 2 inch slices
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
8 large green onions
olive oil
sea salt, to taste

1 lb of salmon
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat bread slices in olive oil and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Crisp in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Turn up the heat to 450 degrees. Spread zucchini on one sheet and douse with olive oil; spread tomatoes and green onions on another and also give a good glug of oil. Place zucchini in the lower part of the oven and tomatoes and green onions in the upper half. Push the tomatoes and onions around as they cook. Green onions should be removed once they are softened, about 7 minutes. Tomatoes come out once all the skins have broken open, about 12 minutes. And, finally, remove the zucchini once tender, at about 15 minutes.

While the veggies are roasting, heat a skillet over medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, and cook through turning once. It takes about 7-10 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fish. {Fish is done once the pinkness lightens and becomes flaky.}

Once your veggies have cooled, toss them in a large bowl with the toasted bread. Drizzle about 3 T. of dressing on top. Cut up fish into bite-size pieces. Plate salad and place fish on top. Use additional dressing to add more flavor to your salad, if desired. 

Feeds 4.

Breakfast Peach Crisp ~ {Eat Seasonal}

We woke up one morning with a bunch of peaches just on the cusp of turning mushy. I had a hangry crowd. Most breakfast bakery recipes take too long from start to finish to satisfy a hangry crowd before it turns on you. But the crisp is an exception. Cut up your fruit any way you like, macerate it for a few minutes in some sugar {and lemon juice, if you like}, and mix up a crunchy topping to place atop. From counter to oven in about 10 minutes, out of the oven in 15-20. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.

Oh, and don’t forget the yogurt to make it feel like your not just eating dessert for breakfast.


Breakfast Peach Crisp

 6 peaches, sliced
1 T. flour
2 T. sugar
lemon zest from one lemon
1/8 t. nutmeg

1/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. flour
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. pecan pieces {or almonds}
6 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Slice peaches and place them in a large bowl with flour, sugar, zest and nutmeg, mixed together well. Set aside to macerate. 

In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pecans. Melt butter and drizzle over top of other ingredients. Mix together well. 

Place peach mixture into a 9×13 dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over peaches. 

Place in the oven, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, until topping is slightly browned.

Enjoy with a generous helping of Greek yogurt.

Gathering My Thoughts : {Summer Play}


Outside my window: Plants to be watered. I’m procrastinating a bit this morning on getting outside and watering my garden but I’ll regret it if I do for too long. It’s going to be a hot one.

Listening To: Good ol’ Bebo. He’s one of our go-tos for inspirational music and a good jam.

Clothing Myself In: Comfy clothes. I slept about 4 hours last night and I have no desire to get out of clothes that I would happily fall back asleep in. Hoping for simultaneous naps this afternoon….a great joy of motherhood.

abacus fun

building blocks

fun with daddy

Talking With My Children About These Books: We have an annual favorite we get every summer: Elisha Cooper’s Beach. The beautiful watercolor pictures and descriptions of a day at the beach help relieve that itch when you can’t visit.

In My Own Reading: Just finished Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Still processing but hoping to get a post up soon on my thoughts regarding vulnerability and shame {the topic of her book}. Next up on the book shelf: The Man of Villa Tevere by Pilar Urbano and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Steve just finished the former. It’s a biography about St. Josemaria Escriva. He said it was one of the best books he’s read in a while so it’s made its way to the top of my stack of to-reads. The latter is Rubin’s latest about developing good habits in our lives and how to do that well. I’ve enjoyed her books, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She has some great insight into having a positive outlook on life and living one’s life intentionally. Stay tuned for a review of her latest.

Thinking and Thinking: About how quickly this summer is passing us by!


“Anyone who can casually discuss tearing children to shreds while having lunch and a good cabernet is a victim of the father of lies. Anyone who thinks that divvying up murdered bodies does “a little bit of extra good” is a captive subject of the dictatorship of relativism. This video reminds me that anyone who traffics in abortion loses a vital and beautiful spark of humanity. Evil coarsens us and deadens us—robs us of the freedom life offers.”

“This week’s video put a human face on the power of the culture of death. Let us pray for those who promote and support the abortion industry. Let us pray that they might experience conversion. Let us pray that they might know mercy and freedom. Let us pray that through Jesus Christ, who came to the world as an unborn child, every abortionist might rediscover the dignity, the joy, and the beauty of humanity.”

Great thoughts by Bishop James Conley reminding us of the power and importance of prayer for those who are ensnared by the Culture of Death so prevalent in our society. Let us pray for their release from the darkness.


Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: The warm days have us running outside first thing in the morning for some fresh air. There is a slowness to the mornings which I’m really savoring. I usually try to get a few things done in the garden while they bike and dig in the dirt. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk usually make an appearance too.

Creating By Hand: I bought some yarn for a project that will be a gift this Fall. I haven’t done any knitting projects since last winter. It’s kind of a seasonal habit for me. Time to start thinking of warmer clothes and cooler seasons.


Learning Lessons In: Parenting an extrovert. Until our sweet Lucie came along, we were a family of introverts. 😉 She has such a strong need for interaction with others that goes beyond my comfort zone, BUT is so good for me. There are so many people we end up chatting with that we otherwise would probably have walked past because she reaches out to all that pass her by. Her need for exploration is strong, so I have to be extra vigilant about dangers to her, but I love watching her venture out. Her exuberance is a delight…and a challenge all in one! :)

Encouraging Learning In: Puzzle making–Evey’s absolute favorite pastime. We’ve graduated to 24 piece puzzles without a guide board and she’s fantastic at them. These petit puzzles by Petit Collage are her favorites. {And at $5 each, the price is right!} We also enjoy their floor puzzles and colorful alphabet flash cards.

farmers market haul

Crafting in the Kitchen: Weekly trips to the Farmers’ Market has yielded us an array of fresh produce to work with in the kitchen. I love supporting local farmers and enjoying such rich, flavorful food. We’re in peach and nectarine season currently. It’s been difficult holding onto enough for a pie or cobbler as the girls and I just want to munch them all up at lunchtime every day. Salads have been frequent here too as the warm weather is a strong deterrent for turning on any heat source in the kitchen. Our neighbor produces a wonderfully peppery arugula we purchase frequently.

To Be Fit and Happy: I managed two days of Barre3 last week. Hoping for three this week. There is a noticeable improvement to my energy and mental clarity on the days I dust off the cobwebs and get moving for even just 15 minutes. Gotta stay motivated.


Loving the Moments: Family time on the weekends. Our ability to indulge in time together has increased tenfold since Steve completed his Masters program, and I couldn’t be more grateful. {Love language–quality time–may have something to do with this.} This past weekend, Steve and I spent Saturday morning working on a project for a new business endeavor he’s attempting. Then, the afternoon with Uncle Eric and Aunt Lindy swimming and enjoying dinner together. {So fun to have them closer now!} Sunday morning, we went to the State Fair in Sacramento. We enjoyed taking in a few exhibits before the sun began scorching us. Steve got a perfect hat for the hot weather that he’s been searching for for some time now. Evey and Lucie enjoyed visiting Smokey’s Safety area and learning all about fire safety. The rabbit, guinea pig, and fowl exhibit was a huge hit and we made it out without any fingers getting munched. And the kids’ play area with larger-than-life blocks was hard to pull them away from. Steve and I each enjoyed a beer at the craft brewery pavilion and meandered through the county exhibits while the girls slept in the stroller, gaining new ideas for places to explore nearby. Church and Sunday dinner together were a perfect ending to the {too short} weekend.

smokey the bear

smokey the bear

Evey fire truck


naptime explorations

Living the Liturgy: We are currently celebrating “Ordinary Time” in the Church’s calendar. I love this post by Laura Fanucci on 3 simple ways to celebrate Ordinary Time. Celebrating the hidden holiness of daily life. Summertime is a great time to just relax into the every day. Love it.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Cleaning and errands are the biggest things on the to-do list this week. {And that’s plenty!} We’re hoping to hit up Wee One Wednesdays in Roseville tomorrow. Storytime, art projects, and splash pad fun — all great things for some mid-week fun!


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Moments {Vol. 10} : 4th of July Celebration

We spent 4th of July weekend at my in-laws’ newly renovated cabin. It is absolutely gorgeous!

And, although I didn’t think it was possible, the view from the deck got better!

4th of July

Not sure if she’s trying to go out or he’s trying to come in, but they’re looking to help each other out.

4th of July 2015

Hanging with Gram!

4th of July 2015

Hard at work on multiple projects.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Playing ‘spinning’ with Aunt Lindy.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Her favorite pastime currently is placing one object inside another. Spatial awareness lessons for free.


4th of July 2015

The annual 4th of July Serene Lakes sailboat race!

sailboat race Serene Lakes

sailboat race Serene Lakes

4th of July 2015

sailboat race Serene Lakes

4th of July 2015

Many refreshing drinks served all day long.

4th of July 2015

corona and lime

Chillin’ on the deck.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Aunt Lindy was, hands down, the favorite of the weekend.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

reading with Aunt Lindy

4th of July 2015

Only dancing finally put Lulu to sleep. She wanted to keep the party going all day long.

4th of July 2015

Delicious ribs for dinner straight from the smoker, skewered with bamboo from the backyard (Uncle Eric’s genius move).

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

“What’s yours is mine, right, Nicky?”

4th of July 2015

The lack of fireworks was not a problem with the sunset we received.

sunset at Serene Lakes

sunset at Serene Lakes

Early morning walk the following day….

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015



a man and his pipe

And the weekend wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach for splashing and sand digging!

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

Hoping your 4th was as enjoyable and relaxing as ours! :)

Life Happenings {Offline} ~ {7QT}

Linking up with the fabulous Bonnie at A Knotted Life {who has some wonderful news of her own to share!!!}. She’s filling in for Kelly this week.

4th of July

One) We had a wonderful time celebrating 4th of July at Steve’s parents’ newly-renovated cabin up in the Sierras. No fireworks due to the dryness and heat of California, but the sunset that evening was better than any fireworks display I’ve seen. Thanks, God, for the show! I am planning on writing a longer post about our trip sometime this coming week. I promise lots of pictures! 😉

Two) On our way down the mountain, about 15 miles from home, our radiator hose blew on the car. Fortunately, we were rescued by AAA and our fathers. They were joking that we should other places to hold family get-togethers. The car was out of commission for a few days in the shop which made life interesting as we are currently a one-car family, but we had lots of help from family. {Thank you!!} Our other vehicle was towed to the shop today after sitting outside in front of the house for about a year now completely unusable. There is some sort of electrical problem which thus far hasn’t been properly diagnosed. Hoping this time is the charm.


Three) We are gearing up to celebrate a little lady on Sunday who turned ONE last month. The weekends fill up fast in the summer and we had so much going on we had to put it off for a bit. Not a problem, though, because we are having the mildest weather right now–perfect for an outdoor party!

Four) I’ve been busting my buns on the yard lately, getting our garden cleared of that horrendous Bermuda grass {STILL a work in progress} and planting a few things. We got tomatoes, bell peppers, and sunflowers down in the main garden. I also put in pots: radishes, arugula, and several herbs {but the only ones that sprouted were the basil}. We still have an empty bed and I think Steve’s going to put in some cucumbers for pickling. He made some amazing pickled radishes a little while ago so I’m encouraging him to keep that hobby up.


Five) On that note, I am so happy it is tomato season {and happy it was the basil that came up}. We’ve been making some fantastic salads this week, perfect for hot summer nights. We had this gazpacho panzanella which had the most perfect lemony zing to it and this warm bread salad with salmon. {I’ll share our version with you soon as we did it a little differently.} And while you’re at it, bookmark Food 52 {where these came from} because it always has the most wonderful collection of seasonal recipes around {drinks included}.

Six) Keep thinking and thinking about my photography. I got a subscription to Clickin’ Moms {both online and mag} and I need to dive in. It’s something I’ve been putting off but really want to up my game at. That and exercise……Buuut we won’t talk about that.

Seven) The husband is off tonight at an evening of recollection and I am just so happy that he is finally able to go. I don’t think he’s been since before Evey was born {too long!}. It has just been too hard to with school, work, one car, etc. He took the day off {pushed his 4th of July holiday later} to get some things done around the house and so was able to make it. I’m off for the women’s one in the morning–also been forever for me. Looking forward to a little spiritual refreshment.

Later alligator.

Folding Napkins

Evelyn loves ‘helping’ me fold the laundry. She’s been at it since before she could walk.

Just recently, she’s actually been able to help me. :) She’s responsible for folding the cloth napkins. She takes her job very seriously and works hard to fold each one just right. {Often, this also means keeping little sis from making a mess of her pile.} I am grateful for her help!












Gathering My Thoughts : Summer Rhythm {And Answer Me This!}

Putting some thoughts to “paper” as we embark on a new week. {Inspired by Elizabeth Foss….}

Outside my window: Heat. We’ve had some scorchers past one hundred degrees the past few days, our first heat wave of the summer. We’ve been a little spoiled so far so I’m worried we’re in for it come July.


Listening To: French Cafe radio on Pandora. I love the rhythm of the sweet love songs. I keep thinking of brushing up on French. This is helping to inspire me.

Notre Dame at dusk

Clothing Myself In: Tank tops and shorts. This is my ‘mom uniform’ of the summer. Sometimes I exchange the shorts for a skirt, but easy to don and easy to move in are essentials for me of my summer wardrobe chasing two toddlers around.


Talking With My Children About These Books: We’re a little stale with books this week as we missed our trip to the library. Same as last week. Although I’m looking forward to picking up Train Song, recommended by a friend last week that just came in at the library. Just need to get out there and pick it up!


In My Own Reading: I finished Marie Kondo’s, The Magic Art of Tidying Up, this week. Still thinking over her method and how I will incorporate any of it in my own household. I like her notion of throwing out things that do not inspire joy. It reminds me a lot of William Morris’ : “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” which I really appreciate and try to live. I certainly have some work to do in my home regarding purging but I just don’t think I will end up with things as sparse as she suggests. I’m also not into the animistic view she has regarding objects–thanking them for their assistance to you or greeting them. I am appreciative of the gifts God has given me but they come from Him, they are not living beings to be interacted with.
It was my ‘book that was originally written in a different language’ for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge, as it was originally done in Japanese. Not sure which topic I will pick up next but I’m enjoying working through this list. It’s getting me outside of my comfort zone a bit in my reading topics.


Thinking and Thinking: Of Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court on the issue of ‘same-sex marriage’. Here are a few thoughts that I had which I posted on a Facebook group today:

Yes, it is certainly a moral issue, but what occurred yesterday is more disturbing because of its political ramifications. The justices of the Supreme Court whose very job it is is to uphold the Constitution decided to blatantly dismiss it and acquiesce to the demands of the LGBT community on the basis that it was something they “wanted”. The States have voted AGAINST this time and again, and our justices decided to override the voice of the people. This is not how our government was established. I think it certainly paves the way for further abuses of power. I pray this can get sorted out. 

And I am most certainly praying for the CHANGE OF HEART amongst those in our country who are indifferent to this issue because this is very damaging too. I believe the majority of Americans are against it, but too much into this false understanding of “tolerance” to stand up for what they really believe in and are allowing themselves and true ‘rights’ to be trampled upon. If those who were against same-sex ‘marriage’ were as convicted those who are, I think this would die. {Justice Kennedy is an excellent example of this — read his Decision if you haven’t yet.}

Praying for our country and our children.

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 10.48.01 AM

Pondering: There is no greater force against evil in the world than the love of a man and woman in marriage. After the Holy Eucharist, it has a power beyond anything that we can imagine. ~ Cardinal Raymond Burke

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: I’ve been working hard to get our yard cleaned up and our garden growing, so we head out most mornings immediately after breakfast to take care of things before it heats up too much. Chores are done and errands run in the morning too. Usually that is followed by Lucie’s nap, Evey’s nap, lunch, and hanging out inside in the afternoon reading, watching a show or two or crafting. It’s a good rhythm for warm summer days.


Creating By Hand: Bouquets of flowers. I love fresh flowers scattered throughout the house so Evey has been helping me pick out bouquets {until our cut garden blooms!} at the grocery or farmers’ market that we bring home and throw together in vases. My mom puts together the bouquets at her parish and I’ve learned a few things from her about arranging so I’m trying to put that knowledge to good use adorning my house with beautiful arrangements.


Learning Lessons In: Stepping back from overanalyzing and more doing, talking….


Encouraging Learning In: ABCs — Evelyn is jumping into learning her alphabet organically. We picked up Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at the library recently. I hear her attempting to ‘read’ it herself. She tries to memorize most of the books we read repeatedly. This is working well with an ABC book as it is helping her memorize them without much effort. She also likes to do a Winnie the Pooh ABC tracing game on Daddy’s iPad so is also learning how to make them. I’m thinking of doing some more direct learning of how to write them with her. Perhaps while Lucie is napping.

chalk painting alphabet

Crafting in the Kitchen: I hadn’t been baking much lately but this week Evey and I made banana bread muffins {we added shredded coconut and pecans} which were just the perfect breakfast addition for a couple mornings and an enormous pink birthday cake for Lucie’s birthday. Ever since the calendar flipped to June and Evey spied Lucie’s birthday on the calendar, she’s been talking about making a ‘pink cake’ for Lucie’s birthday. It just so happens that Lucie is in love with strawberries so I sought out a cake that would meet both criteria. This one from Smitten Kitchen fit the bill but it was the most decadent cake I’ve had in a long time. It was like a strawberry pound cake, adorned with the sweetest cream cheese frosting. We enjoyed every bite {and we still are!}. Hopefully, more baking this coming week….



To Be Fit and Happy: I fell off the Barre3 bandwagon when I caught a cold earlier this month, but I’m going to try to take up some more physical activity this week. I have been working hard to clear the garden of weeds so there has certainly been some physical activity this week that has left me nice and sore. Evey keeps reminding me I need to exercise so that will help get me back on track. 😉


Loving the Moments: My girls have been very affectionate this week. I’m loving the moments were we just sit together and enjoy each other’s company. Lucie throws out kisses every time she hears a loved one mentioned, or even spontaneously. It is just the sweetest thing. Evey, who tends to be always on the go, is actually pausing to sit with me and just be. Loving this too.


Living the Liturgy: We had grand plans to do some sort of bonfire for the feast of St. John the Baptist this week but it didn’t happen. {Mostly due to the fact it was scorching hot outside already and we didn’t want to contribute to the heat.} We celebrated St. Josemaria’s feast with dinner out and a date night for my husband and I. He’s a great friend of ours and a big influence on our relationship. {We even had the opportunity to visit his resting place in Rome and attend Mass there on our honeymoon.}


Planning for the Week Ahead: Fourth of July is on the horizon. Evey is into the red, white and blue and American flag so she’ll be helping me do some decorating this week. {Stars and stripes forever!} 😉 Also looking forward to seeing Steve’s family’s newly renovated cabin and helping them get moved in this week!



Answer Me This! with Catholic All Year

This week’s installment of questions:


1. How long have you lived in your current home? We’ve owned our home for a little over two years now. I’m still working to make the house ‘our home’ as we’ve been distracted with several things over the past couple years, but finally making some headway painting and creating the yard we want.

2. How do you find out about news and current events? My husband. :) He is much more up-to-date on what is happening the world than I am most of the time. I find out many things through Facebook, but if I want to know the world beyond what is reported there, he’s my ‘go-to’ source.

3. Would you be able to make change for a twenty right now? For a dollar? Nope. I’m rarely with cash these days. And I try to get coins out as quick as I can otherwise I have a hard time closing my wallet.


Muscles…or mussels. Get it? haha. Part of a paella dish, one of the best foods I’ve eaten–also on our honeymoon.

4. What’s the craziest food you’ve ever eaten? Frog legs? We had them in Spain on our honeymoon as my husband is more adventurous than me when it comes to food {although I tend to be pretty open to trying new things} and he ordered them. Not a fan.

5. Which of the commonly removed parts have you had removed? (tonsils, wisdom teeth, appendix, etc.) I had my adenoids removed when I was about 12. My wisdom teeth were removed along with four other adult teeth {canines} as I have the tiniest mouth on the planet and it just couldn’t accommodate eight entire adult teeth.


6. What’s your favorite sport to watch on TV? Soccer or American football. Although I would still rather watch these in person. I like being able to cheer LIVE.

Defending Marriage, Defending Family {The Quoteable St. Josemaria Escriva}


In the national life there are two things which are really essential: the laws concerning marriage and the laws to do with education. In these areas God’s sons have to stand firm and fight with toughness and fairness, for the sake of all mankind. ~St. Josemaria Escriva (The Forge, 104)

The ruling of the United States Supreme Court today saddens me greatly. As Bl. Fulton Sheen said, “Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.” The foundation of the family is undermined in our country by this ruling, but it does not change the TRUTH about marriage: it is a union between a man and a woman. Saying otherwise does not make it so.

The growth of healthy and happy families is reliant upon its foundation: the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Families are better capable of flourishing when the couple which comprises its foundation are growing in love together. The union becomes fruitful and multiplies. {And I don’t just mean in the physical sense.}

Defending the family means defending the truth about marriage.



Today is the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva. It is also the 40th anniversary of his death. Fittingly, the prelature of Opus Dei {of which he is the founder} is celebrating #JuneForFamilies this month. They are offering prayers and reflections on the growth of a family, the love of a husband and wife, and the relationships that grow within amongst children and siblings.

St. Josemaria had a special influence on the establishment of our family {which you can read about in our love story} and continues to be a guiding light in our daily lives. If you have not had a chance yet to read any of his works, I highly recommend doing so. The Way, The Furrow, The Forge {or all three in a single edition} offer short reflections, most of a sentence or two, that give great insight into living as a Christian in one’s every day life. He makes sainthood attainable for the layman.

A few of my favorites reflections relating to family:

A person in love doesn’t miss the tiniest detail. I have seen it in so many souls. Those little things become something very great: Love! (The Forge, 443)

Some people bring children into the world for their own benefit, to serve their own purposes, out of selfishness. They forget children are a wonderful gift from God for which they will have to render a very special account.
Do not be offended if I say that having offspring just to continue the species is something that….animals can do too. (The Furrow, 845)

No Christian married couple can want to block the well-springs of life. For their love is based on the Love of Christ, which entails dedication and sacrifice. Moreover, Tobias reminded Sara, a husband and wife know that “we are children of saints, and we cannot come together in the way of the Gentiles, who do not know God.” (The Furrow, 846)

Your task as a Christian citizen is to help see Christ’s love and freedom preside over all aspects of modern life: culture and economy, work and rest, family life and social relations. (The Furrow, 302)

“You won’t laugh, Father, will you, if I tell you that, a few days ago, I found myself spontaneously offering the Lord the sacrifice of time it meant for me to mend a broken toy for one of my little children?”
I am not laughing. I am delighted because with that Love, God sets about mending our faults. (The Furrow, 986)

“It’s very difficult”, you exclaim, disheartened.
Listen, if you make an effort, with the grace of God that is enough. Put your own interests to one side, you will serve others for God, and you will come to the aid of the Church in the field where the battles are being fought today: in the street, in the factory, in the workshop, in the university, in the office, in your own surroundings, amongst your family and friends. (The Furrow, 14)

“If any man comes to me without hating his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life too, he can be no disciple of mine.”
Every day I see more clearly, Lord, that family ties, if they do not pass through your most lovable Heart, are, for some, a permanent source of the cross; for others they are a cause of more or less direct temptation against perseverance; for others again, the reason why they are totally ineffective; and, for all, a dead weight which impedes their total surrender. (The Furrow, 214)

You have to learn to disagree charitably with others–whenever the need arises–without becoming unpleasant. (The Furrow, 429)

“Who said that to reach sanctity you need to seek refuge in a cell or on a solitary mountain?” That was what a good family man asked himself in amazement, and he added: “If that were so, it would not be the people who would be holy, but the cell, or the mountain. It seems they have forgotten that Our Lord expressly told each and every one of us: be holy as my heavenly Father is holy.”
My only comment was: “Our Lord, besides wanting us to be saints, grants each one of us the relevant graces.” (The Furrow, 314)

I am moved that the Apostle should call Christian marriage sacramentum magnum–a great sacrament. From this, too, I deduce the enormous importance of the task of parents.
You share in the creative power of God: that is why human love is holy, good and noble. It is a gladness of heart which God–in his loving providence–wants others freely to give up.
Each child that God grants you is a wonderful blessing from him: don’t be afraid of children! 
(The Forge, 691)

Remind others (and especially all those fathers and mothers, who call themselves Christians) that a vocation, a call from God, is a grace from the Lord, a choice made by divine goodness, a motive for holy pride, a call to serve all joyously for the love of Jesus Christ. (The Forge, 17)

A Year Full of Light and Life

L at Jamba

Sweet girl. Today you hit your first year milestone. I can’t believe you’ve been with us that long already. It feels like forever and it feels like yesterday you arrived. We are every bit blessed to have you in our lives.

You are a firecracker. Every bit, you fit your name. Those eyes. That smile. Your exuberance for life.

Your sister adores you and has from the moment she met you. Sure, you have your moments where you get on each other’s nerves, but those moments are few and far between. You roll around on the floor together giggling. You squeal in delight at each other, upping the ante each time. You’ve recently started this game where if you have something Evey wants, you run the other way with it, your eyes flashing with mischievousness. But you always give kisses and hugs to each other before bedtime. I hope you will always take care of each other and love each other fiercely.

Your outgoing-ness pushes me outside of my comfort zone, but I don’t mind too much. With you, it is easy to meet and make friends. When we visited New York earlier this year, you wanted to befriend every person that walked by. You wave, you flash that beautiful grin, and bewitch every passerby. You just want a smile in return.

You began walking a few months ago. Now, I have to run to keep up with you. Although your balance is still a work in progress…sometimes you get going too fast down the hall and crash into the wall, at the park you are overeager to walk on uneven surfaces and eat dirt too often. You can’t keep up with your growing height — under the table is now a dangerous place to play as the edge smacks you right in the head when you stand up. But it is so fun to watch you explore the world around you as you gain your newfound skill. The backyard is your favorite place to adventure.

Your first word was ‘boat’. I pointed them out in the marina while we were down in southern California and you took great delight in the little ones floating the harbor. You also love ‘doors’ — this is anything that goes to the outside, windows included. You point excitedly and shout ‘door’ every time you see one. You were easily taught ‘uh oh’ and now drop things from your high chair just so you can practice. You become very agitated if someone doesn’t pick the object back up after you’ve announced as clearly it doesn’t belong down there. It just needed to be dropped for a minute.

The past few weeks you’ve taken to a small stuffed bunny, which we call ‘bun-bun’. She’s your lovey and you like to carry her around with you. You understand when she has to sit on the couch while you eat your meals at the table. I place her on the arm and you go grab her when you are finished with your meal. The bunny was a gift to Evey when she was sick from Nancy on the train, but she doesn’t seem to mind passing it along to you.

You have incredible rhythm and bop to every beat you hear, be it the dishwasher running or a car driving by with a bass stereo blaring. You feel it in your bones. Your favorite toys tend to be the music makers — the maracas, the xylophone, the egg shaker. I’m eager to see what instruments you pick up as you get older.

You are a daddy’s girl through and through. Always have been. You’ve been happy in his arms from day one. He’s often better able to help you get back to sleep on those restless nights than I am. His arms are your favorite resting place. He loves to play with you and make you laugh those great belly giggles, flashing your toothy grin. {Already at an even dozen!} You are his favorite fan as he walks in the door in the evening. You run as fast as your little legs will carry you straight into his arms, squealing with delight all the while.

The expressions of your face say you have a lot you’re thinking about, a lot you want to express. I can’t wait until I know better what goes on in that active brain of yours. I have a feeling there will be a lot of creativity, tantrums, and inquisitiveness in the future.

It will be bright. Just as you are, my little Lucie {light}.


Love, Mama

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