'Muff'in Dome

#write31days ~ Day 6: Artful Tot







artful-tot-october 7

The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento does a monthly program called Artful Tot which the girls are huge fans of {as is mama since she doesn’t have to clean up the majority of the mess!}. We attended this morning where they had a wonderful selection of activities, including vegetable and fruit painting, making tracks with farm animals, and water painting. The latter was done on a Buddha board {also made in a mini version}. I’d never seen these before but they’re amazing. Definitely going to consider for Christmas gifting!

Gave these a little extra contrast in post-processing to emphasize all the beautiful colors happening in these pictures! :)

#write31days ~ Day 5: Dancing in the Rain



dancing in puddles


California has seen a scarcity of rain the past several years. It has gotten to the point that every drop is cause for celebration.

Evelyn gets especially jazzed about jumping in those puddles and begs to go outside and splash in them every time they appear. How can I turn her down since we don’t know how long it will be before we see them again?

One evening, she took daddy outside and had a little rain dance with him. And then continued on long after he returned inside. Can’t stop the rhythm of that little girl.

The first two photos, I was actually able to capture the raindrops as they fell. It was difficult keeping the shutter speed fast enough to capture their action, but slow enough to capture the drops. {Click through on that second one, especially, to see their capture!} Also, I’m not a big fan of using the attached flash on my camera, but it was necessary that evening because of how dark it was outside. I like the way they turned out, despite having to use it. :)

#write31days ~ Day 4: A Baby Shower


A simple capture, really. But these types of moments are so dear to my heart.

Yesterday, we were celebrating a friend’s second child–her first son–who will be born at the end of November. It means so much to me to celebrate each LIFE that a friend brings into the world. And, also, to celebrate and encourage her in her motherhood.

It is a lot of work growing a baby inside you. It is even more work raising that child up. It is so great to pause as we rejoice and support as she embarks on this journey with her newest one.

Every pregnancy is different, every child is unique–it is good to stop and remember.

#write31days ~ Day 3: Pigtails






My motivation for taking these were two things: those pigtails and that golden light.

This is the first time Evey was able to wear pigtails. {The cuteness factor just went through the roof!} Her hair is finally at the point where I can put the teeny, tiny elastics in. It is so thin that it is difficult to get any sort of clip to stay in, but it is starting to bother her as it tickles her ears. Luckily, we were able to find a solution. And an adorable one at that!

You always hear from photographers about the golden light that occurs in the early morning and early evening, and how magical it is for shooting photos. But until you experience it yourself, you can’t imagine just how magical it truly is. We had been out running errands in the afternoon, but I raced home before it faded to capture these lovely photos. I think it was a wise decision.

#write31days ~ Day 2: Portraits of My Girls



I think these photos do a great job of capturing the girls’ personalities. Evelyn {top} is a very thoughtful dreamer, who is a touch shy. Lucie {bottom} faces the world head-on, always a go-getter…and is a tad mischievous at times.

My aim with these two photos was to work more on my post-processing. I took my time learning better the different tools. I was aiming for a softened look to these to emphasize my girls’ youthfulness.

#write31days ~ Day 1: Sacramento Moon Set


Yesterday I went with the girls on a little adventure to Sacramento via train to the train museum there. {We’re all about choo-choos in this household.} We arrived at the station around 7:30 in the morning to find the moon still high in the sky. It was resting right above their daddy’s office so I couldn’t help but capture it.

This was a little tricky as I wanted to catch the details of the sky but still have enough of the foreground illuminated to catch detail. I like how it turned out.

31 Days : Photography Improvement



A long-term goal of mine has been to improve upon my photography. I’ve done it semi-intetionally for a while now, but this month I’m going to get serious and be wholly intentional about it.

I’m joining up with the Write 31 Days group under the category ‘Personal Endeavor’. My goal is to write something, however long or short, every day throughout the month of October.

I will also be engaging with the Clickin’ Moms forums and, perhaps, join a challenge or two there. They are hosting their annual conference next week and a few of their workshops will be available live online, free of charge. That will be a great asset.

I plan to post at least one photo a day and talk about either the skill I’m working on or simply share a bit about the moment it captures.

Please follow along! :) The first will go up tonight. I will archive the posts below.

Day 1 ~ Sacramento Moon Set

Day 2 ~ Portraits of My Girls

Day 3 ~ Pigtails

Day 4 ~ Baby Shower

Day 5 ~ Dancing in the Rain

Day 6 ~ Artful Tot

Things I Learned in September


  • Time outside is good for all of us. 

We’ve had some nasty days this summer due to smoke from fires. This has kept us inside more than we’ve liked. It becomes quite apparent just how great being outdoors is for us, when we’ve been cooped up too long inside.


  • The visit from our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the United States felt like welcoming our grandfather into our home. 

I had such an immense feeling of excitement and peace with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Although I was too far to attend any of the events with him, every time I sat and listened to his words, saw him greet the crowds, watched him give his blessings, it felt like he was more physically present than he was in actuality to me. It truly felt like the visit of a wise grandfather come to visit his family and impart his wisdom and blessings.


  • We must encounter people where they are at, not where we want them to be.

This gem from Pope Francis really has given me great food for thought. It is so easy to approach people with our own agenda instead of meeting them where they are at. Just listening, just supporting them in the place we find them.


  • In order to really develop a skill, it is important to give it specific attention. 

I had the best of intentions to work on my photography this year. In the Spring, I purchased a subscription to Clickin’ Moms but I’ve been on the site about three times since. {Usually, when I invest money in something that is sufficient motivation, but I have just been too. busy. to actually click through.}

Write 31 Days starts tomorrow. It is held annually every October. Bloggers across all genres write and support each other in the endeavor for the full 31 days. I’ve decided to join this year — but — my focus will be on my photography. I will post a photo every day this month with the intention of developing my skills. My writing will be a caption for that photo. Please lend your support! :)


  • Changing seasons are a great piece of God’s plan for this world. 

There are so many wonderful things to enjoy in each season, but I find–the good and the bad–starts to wear thin just as we are approaching the change to the next. I’m about done with the heat and I’m very happy to eat all things pumpkin and apple this coming month.

  • Saint Josemaria Escriva is a great patron of our family, but is an excellent patron of every family. 

Read more reasons why at Someday Saints, where I’m guest posting today. :)


What about you? What did you learn this month? 

Linking up with Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky for her monthly discussion of things we learned this month.

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Brought to You By the Letter ‘T’


Outside my window: The air conditioning is on today and, as usual, California is notorious for joining the autumn game late. It is nearly 90 degrees today. Not feeling like autumn one bit.


Listening To: Evey is working on her letter for the week at the white board – ‘T’. It is quiet as Lucie is still resting, so I’m just listening to her organize the markers as she works.

Clothing Myself In: A simple skirt and shirt combo that I threw on before we went shopping this morning.


Talking With My Children About These Books: We are on the letter ‘T’ this week in our curriculum. There will be lots of discussion about our favorite mode of transportation this week — TRAINS! Our list includes: Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherry Dusky Rinker, Train by Elisha Cooper, How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton, Hey Mr Choo Choo, Where Are You Going?  by Susan Wickberg {one of our all-time favorites}, Tea Rex by Molly Schaar Idle, The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco, and One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies. 

We mixed it up with a few non-train books for some variety, although I doubt the girls would mind if it was ALL ABOUT trains. 😉 One of these days, I need to write a post about our favorite train picture books. I’m pretty sure we have come close to reading them all.


In My Own Reading: I finished Emily Freeman’s Simply Tuesday last week and I’m planning to join the (in)courage group in reading through it again starting at the beginning of October. Such a great read, one that needs to be pondered several times over. Is anyone else interested in reading along? I would love to discuss with a smaller group too. Perhaps we could make a Facebook page to facilitate.

I also just finished Witness to Love which I wrote a lengthy review of last week. This ministry is wonderful and sorely needed.

I’ll be starting Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection later this week as it finally came in from the library.


Thinking and Thinking: About Christmas gifting. I have a dozen or more projects that I would like to accomplish for gifting so I’m getting my ducks in a row to get things started. So much to do, so little time. 😉 It really is coming up on us quickly!


Pondering: Still drinking in all the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, from his visit last week. I’m hoping to write a post of a few of my favorite quotes, but in the meantime, here is one:

“And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and produce no fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus, and His life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, in the failure of the cross.”

~ from Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral


Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: We are trying to get the girls on a better sleeping schedule. Bedtime has been a little too flexible as of late and it is making them extra tired and cranky. Better nighttime rest, also means better naps–something all of us appreciate.


Creating By Hand: Still finishing up my series of three sweaters using the In Threes Baby Cardigan pattern. I’m about halfway through my last one–a red one for Evelyn. I can finally share the newborn one I made for my sister-in-law that I gifted her this weekend at her shower. There is something so sweet and precious about tiny knits, particularly ones in pink for baby girls.

Also, made a little blanket with starburst stitching on the edge. I have a few more blankets for little babes in the queue this week.


Learning Lessons In: Patience. Mine has been a little thin the past few weeks, so I’m learning what I need to say ‘no’ to in order to reduce the anxiety which decreases it.

Encouraging Learning In: Also, patience? 😉 These little gals want it…and they want it NOW!


Crafting in the Kitchen: Moving into a rhythm of Fall foods–apples, squash, pumpkins, etc. Later this week, we’ll having one of my favorites–stuffed acorn squash–which I will share the recipe for soon.

To Be Fit and Happy: My brother, Raphael, is on the same crew team that I was in high school. This past weekend, his team hosted a pancake row, where they invite family members for a little breakfast and a chance to jump in one of the boats and try their hand at rowing for a mile or so. He invited me to come along and I jumped at the chance! I hadn’t been on the water since high school, and I do love it so. I wish there was a Masters team nearby that I could join. Perhaps some day. :)

rowingLoving the Moments: We’ve witnessed some great moments of childlike faith from Evey the past few weeks and it is so inspiring, both from a parenting aspect and in my own walk of faith. Just yesterday, we were going to see the Supermoon eclipse but there was some cloud cover which was going to make it very difficult to see the moon. We told Evey that she should ask Jesus to move the clouds so we could see it better. She let out a sweet prayer and, sure enough, the clouds moved just at the moment of total eclipse. On the way home, she kept peeking out the window of the car, hoping to catch another glimpse of the moon but all the city lights were making it rather difficult. She says from the back seat, “Jesus, could you please move the lights so we could see the moon?” 😀

supermoon eclipse

Living the Liturgy: Two great saints celebrated this week — St. Therese of Lisieux on October 1st and St. Francis on October 4th. I picked up a few roses at the store for the Little Flower’s feast. I’m sure we’ll have a little treat the evening of after our dinner. St. Francis loved animals and nature, so perhaps we’ll go for a little hike on Sunday.


Planning for the Week Ahead: Two of my friends had babies this month and we are on dinner duty this week for their families. One we have yet to meet so are looking forward to seeing her. Our week of the letter ‘T’ involves a trip to the train museum tomorrow after riding the train down to Sacramento. So much fun with choo-choos this week! Also, about to start a ‘t’ea party with my sweet girls….

Pope Francis’ Speech at the World Meeting of Families


I couldn’t find the transcription from the beautiful speech Pope Francis gave at the World Meeting of Families tonight, so I typed it up myself from the words spoken in English by the translator. Here it is in its entirety:

Thank you to those who were willing to give their testimonies. Thank you to those who gladden us with your heart, with the beauty which is the path that leads to God. Beauty leads us to God. And a true witness takes us to God. Because God also is truth. Beauty and truth. And a witness given in order to serve is thoroughly good. It makes us good persons. Because God is goodness. He takes us to God. All that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful leads us to God. Because God is good. God is beautiful. God is truth. Thank you all, those who’ve offered their witness and for the presence of all of you. That is also a great witness. A real witness that it’s worth being a family, that a society is strong and solid if its edified on beauty, goodness and truth. 

Once a child asked me — you know that kids ask difficult questions — he asked me, “Father, what did God do before creating the world?” I assure you, I found real difficulty to answer the question. So I said, now, what I’m going to say to you, Before creating the world, God loved. Because God is love. And so much love–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–it was so overflowing. I don’t know think this is very logical but you’ll understand: He was so big–it was so big, this love–that God could not be egoistic. It had to be poured out of Him, so as to share that love with those out of Himself. And then God created the world. God made this marvelous world in which we live. And because sometimes we are a bit confused, we are destroying it. But the most beautiful thing that God did, says the Bible, was the family. He created man and woman and he gave them everything. He gave them the world. That they may grow, multiply, cultivate the land. Multiply and grow. All that love He that he made in creation, He gave it and shared it and bestowed it on a family. 

And let’s go back further, all the love that God has in Himself, all the beauty and truth He has in Himself, he gives to the family. But the family is really family when it is able to open its arms and receive all that love. 

Of course, its not quiet earthly paradise, there are still problems. Men and women through the astuteness of the devil, have learned, unfortunately, how to divide themselves. And all that love that God gave, almost was lost. In a little period of time, the first crime, the first instance of fratricide. A brother kills another brother. And war. Now, the beauty and truth of God…and destruction and war. And between them, we walk ahead. It’s up to us to choose, it’s up to us to decide which path we want to take forward. 

Let’s go back… when man and his wife made a mistake, God did not abandon them. So great was His love that He began to walk with humanity, with His people, until the bright moment came and He made the highest expression of love–His own Son. And where did He send his son? To a palace? To a city? To a country? No, He sent Him to a family. He sent him amid a family. In a family.

And he could do this because it was a family that had a truly open heart. Doors of their heart opened.

Let’s think of Mary. She couldn’t believe it. How can this happen? But when the angel explained it. She agreed. St. Joseph–he finds himself in this surprising situation that he does’t understand. And he accepts. He obeys. And in obedience–love of this woman, love of this man–there is family in which Jesus is born. God plans so that our hearts will be opened. He likes to bring His love to open hearts. It comes out from Him. You know what He loves most? To knock on the doors of families. And find the families who love each other. Families who bring up their children to grow and move forward. To create, to develop in society, truth, goodness and beauty. 

We are celebrating the feast of the family. Families have a citizenship which is divine. The identity card they have is given to them by God. So that within the heart of the family, truth, goodness, and beauty can truly grow. 

Some of you might say, of course, Father, you speak because you’re not married. Families have the difficulties. Families, we quarrel! Sometimes plates can fly. And children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mothers-in-law…

But in families there is always, always, always light. Because the love of God, the Son of God, opened also part of us. But just as there are problems in families, there is the light of the Resurrection afterwards. Because the Son of God created that path. Forgive me, for I have to say that the family is like a factory of hope, it’s a factory of resurrection. God opened this path, this possibility. 

And children, yes, they bring their challenges and we also are the cause of work and worry. Sometimes, at home, I see some of my helpers, they come to work and they look tired, they have a one-month old child. And I ask them, “Did you sleep?” And they say, “I couldn’t sleep because they were crying all night.” In the family, there are indeed difficulties. But those difficulties are overcome with love. Hatred is not capable of dealing with difficulties and overcoming any difficulties. Division of hearts cannot overcome any difficulty. Only love is able to overcome. Love is about celebration. Love is joy. Love is moving forward.

I don’t speak too much because it would be late, but I would like just to offer two points about the family. Take special care…somethings we really do have to take care of: children and grandparents. Children, whether young or older, they are the future and strength that moves us forward. We place our hope in them. Grandparents are the living memory of the family. They passed on the faith, they transmitted the faith to us. To look after grandparents, to look after children, is the expression of love. It promises the future The people that doesn’t know how to look after their children, and the is a people that knows not how to look after grandparents, is a people that has no future. Because it doesn’t have strength or the memory to go forward. 

Family is beautiful. But there is effort involved and there are problems. In families there are inimical relationships. Husbands and wives quarrel. It can end up badly, separated. Never let a day end without making peace. In a family, you can’t finish the day off not being at peace. 

May God bless you. May God give you hope. God give you the strength to move forward. Let us look after the family. Let us protect the family because it is in the family that the future is at play. 

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