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Author Archives: Laurel

Marriage Preparation

My friend, Laura, over at B is For Bissonnette inspired me to write this post. (Thanks, Laura!) It started out as a comment on her recent post, but I decided it was getting rather long to leave as a comment, and would be beneficial for me to share with my readers as well. 🙂

Marriage preparation is vitally important, not only to assist in determining whether you are truly with the right person God has chosen for you as a lifelong partner, but also to aid in the forging of a foundation for a lasting and healthy relationship to be improved upon throughout your life together.

There are many great books to help in this endeavor. Laura listed a number of great ones; I’d like to add my own to that list.

things i wish i'd known

This first one we used during our marriage prep, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman (Chapman is famously known for his book, The Five Love Languages — another essential-read for couples!) In this book, he gives some really great, down-to-earth advice about topics couples should discuss before marriage (and continuing after!). At the end of each short chapter, he provides a few questions which (hopefully) help lead into a discussion between a couple about the topic covered. We found these very helpful in discovering and opening up about topics we had overlooked or didn’t consider that important at the time. He covers a range of topics, from dealing with past baggage to jiving well with in-laws to dealing with pet peeves committed by your spouse.

dear newlyweds

The second is Dear Newlyweds by Pope Pius XII. I guess the audience for this book is more those who just got married, but it doesn’t hurt to get it on your bookshelf. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a stack going that you’ll probably reach the end of by next year, so you might as well get it in the queue. 😉 Speaking of which, I actually haven’t read this yet but it was given to us by a friend for our wedding, and it is top on my spiritual reading ‘to-do list’. It’s been recommended by many couples who are friends of ours.

sex and the marriage covenant

Sex and the Marriage Covenant was also given to us by our marriage prep counselor to read. It explains the meaning of sex and marriage, especially the Biblical basis, and discusses NFP, reasons for and against using it within marriage. It is more theoretical and intellectual, so a bit more dense to get through, and better read in small chunks.  The author also co-wrote a book with his wife discussing NFP in a more practical light, as well as ecological breastfeeding (another good one) called Natural Family Planning : The Complete Approach. This book has sample charts as well as ones you can fill out yourself to help you in the NFP process. It is written in a question-and-answer format which I found more helpful than if it was written like a regular book.

tob

Theology of the Body by Blessed Pope John Paul II is absolutely essential for married, religious and single alike. Although, unless you’re trained in theology, I would recommend reading one of the more explanatory texts, either Theology of the Body for Beginners or Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West, first. It is rather difficult to get through on one’s own. I was fortunate to take a class on it in college, and even then found it a bit overwhelming at times. It has become a regular book I return to time and again as I always find new insight when I read it. JP II reveals wonderfully how beautiful human love can be when it is rightly ordered! (It reveals the divine!!)

 

It is rather wonderful that we have so many resources to learn about marriage and love! If only more people would take advantage of them (and follow their teachings!).

Do you know of other good ones to add to the list?

12 Weeks

Evelyn turned 12 weeks old this past Friday. (Does that make her 3 months? I’m waiting until the 9th of February for that because I’m not ready to say she’s that old just yet. ;))

happy Evey

happy Evey 2

Her personality is just blossoming! She loves to chat, tell long ‘stories’, and ‘sing’ songs.

chatting

talking to Daddy

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Her cries are certainly distinguishable now. I can usually tell when she is hungry, angry, bored, hurt, etc. It is awesome how well she can communicate without saying a word!

upset

Evelyn has very strong legs (we’re still betting on just which sport she will take up). But lately she’s been working on arm and core strength. When she’s propped up against a pillow, she will push herself up with her elbows in order to sit up. However, she doesn’t quite know how to stay up so we have to catch her or she face plants.

sitting up 1

sitting up 2

She’s also begun to roll over. The first time I saw her was last night; Stephen saw her first time a few nights prior. She really struggles to get over. In fact, she becomes really frustrated when she just can’t make it over. She will turn her face down towards to floor, twisting and twisting.

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rolling over 2Sometimes it even brings her to tears.

Frustrations

One of her favorite games is to hide behind her blanket just so her eyes are peeking out to spy on you. And as Stephen said in an earlier post, PEEK-A-BOO! 🙂

hiding 3

hiding 2

hiding 1

She’s even soothed herself to sleep a few times while holding onto her blankie. (Hooray!)

sleepy time

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Here’s to One Year!

wedding vows

Stephen and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary yesterday. Can’t believe it’s already been one year!

kiss!

whisked away

wedding photos courtesy of jasmineleephotography.com

My mom kept an eye on Evey so we could enjoy some alone time together. (The first since she was born!) We enjoyed a nice dinner together at home of slow-cooked lamb in red wine sauce with creme de choufleur on the side.

anniversary table

We finally got a chance to use our beautiful wine glasses gifted to us by one of my bridesmaids and her husband. We hadn’t used them previously because I was unable to drink wine for a while when we found out I was pregnant shortly after we returned from our honeymoon.

wedding glass

We drank the wine we picked up at a restaurant in Rome while on our honeymoon. It was merely the restaurant’s table wine but we enjoyed it so much we decided to bring home a bottle for our anniversary celebration. It was surprisingly delicious after sitting in our dark closet for a year despite temperature changes and such.

rosso vino

My mom did a fantastic job preserving our wedding cake top that my dear friend, Emma, had made for us. We pulled it out of the freezer last night to enjoy it. The carrot cake with cream cheese frosting was every bit as delicious as it was the day it was made (albeit frozen)!

wedding cake top

I love this man so much!! I pray we are able to enjoy many more years together. <3

first wedding anniversary

One More to Go Before the Big 3-0

Over this past week, we celebrated my birthday. (You should be able to tell by the title how old I turned.) 😉

Evelyn and I went down with some of my family to the de Young Museum located in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco that day.

bay bridge

golden gate park

caleb, sadi and evelyn - golden gate park

There was a special exhibit of Dutch paintings from one of the museums in the Netherlands currently under renovation, most notably Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

de young museum

courtyard - de young

de young - girl with pearl earring

It is often referred to as the Dutch Mona Lisa, and quite honestly, I felt the same about it when I saw it as I did about the Mona Lisa — don’t understand all the hype about it. (The Mona Lisa‘s claim to fame is that it was the first painting to use the technique chiaroscuro — not sure about The Girl with the Pearl Earring.) Well, actually, I slightly preferred it to the Mona Lisa, which is something because I’m not usually all that enthralled with the Dutch artists. As someone mentioned while we were walking through the exhibit, their works are rather dark. I did enjoy the exhibit, however. It had some of my favorite still lifes.

girl with a pearl earring

Unfortunately, our trip was cut short as we had to be back in time for dinner. We had only just arrived at 1pm, so leaving at 3 was not particularly enthralling. Even though we didn’t have to be back until 7pm, we were heading out of the city early in order to beat the traffic. That was an epic failure. Not only did we fail to beat the traffic (apparently it starts early on Fridays), but Evelyn was very unhappy being locked into her car seat for over 4 hours. We stopped once so I could feed her but it wasn’t enough. She wanted OUT. I couldn’t blame her.

driving to Sf

We walked through the door shortly after 7 to a fantastic meal prepared by my husband. It was such a wonderful, welcoming sight. 🙂 He prepared pureed cauliflower with garlic and chives, blistered asparagus, and stuffed asiago chicken. So good! (I wish I had taken pictures but I was too hungry and tired to think of it at the time.)

birthday carnations

And in the center of the table was a beautiful arrangement of my favorites — carnations.

Wonderful end to a rather long day. 🙂

Southern California trip: Part II

In the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, I had convinced myself that I was just too tired with Evelyn’s lack of sleep (and, thus, ours too) in our uncomfortable hotel room to possibly do anything other than sleep the rest of the day after dropping Stephen off. But when the light of day came, I thought, who knows when I might have the opportunity to explore this city again? (This is often my attitude when travelling — who needs sleep? — and so I arrive home exhausted. Oh well. )

Evelyn’s and mine destination Sunday was the Huntington Library and Gardens. We drove through a bit of beautiful Pasadena to get there and arrived just as they were opening. We spent the majority of the time in the gardens, exploring the Desert, Japanese, and Rose Gardens.

Desert cactus 1

Desert cactus 2

Desert cactus 3

Desert cactus 4

Desert cactus 5

Desert cactus 6

Desert cactus 7

Fish pond

Entrance to Japanese garden

Bamboo Bonsai

Japanese Gardens at the Huntington

Rose garden

Chihuly Rose

Although she spent most of the time in the ErgoBaby, at one point, Evelyn was able to enjoy the view from one the benches in the Rose Garden. 🙂

Evelyn at the rose garden

I meandered quickly through the gallery in the gorgeous mansion on the grounds. The only photo I captured was one on the porch as I was leaving.

Gallery Porch - Huntington

Stephen was released earlier this day so we picked him up and enjoyed tea at a nearby coffee shop until it was time for Mass.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Just down the street from USC, I happened across a beautiful church, St. Vincent de Paul’s. As Stephen had classes starting at 8:30 in the morning, the only possibility for a church service that day was an afternoon or evening time. Fortunately, St. Vincent’s had a 5pm Mass. It was supposedly bilingual, but turned out to be exclusively in Spanish. But, I understood enough to get by and Stephen has a fairly good grasp on the language.

interior of St Vincent de Paul, LA

Dinner was at the Foo Chow restaurant in Chinatown. Part of “Rush Hour” was filmed on location there. Their food was great and portions were generous.

Last day, I discovered this French patisserie/bistro, L’Amande, where we enjoyed a large breakfast of tomato and goat cheese omelets with chocolate hazelnut croissants. This place did an excellent job of transporting me back to my time in Paris. I wish it was closer to where we lived! (On second thought, maybe not — we might go broke with the amount of time I would spend there. ;))

Last stop before the airport was a walk along the Long Beach coastline. We stopped at the nearby Yard House for an afternoon Boddingtons before hopping on the plane to head home.

Boddingtons - Yard House

Southern California trip : Part I

We took a little trip down to the Los Angeles area last weekend for Stephen’s USC orientation weekend. Evelyn and I travelled with him so we could explore a bit while he was in classes (and with Daddy when he wasn’t).

It was Evelyn’s first plane flight (outside the womb ;)), so a big day for her! She did very well! (She slept the whole way down and sat with me while I read a magazine on the way back.)

Daddy and Evey at airport

 

Evey first airplane ride

After landing at the airport on Friday, we picked up our rental car and drove out to La Mirada to visit Stephen’s undergrad, Biola University. He had not been on campus since graduation so it was a bit nostalgic for him. This photo of Evey and Daddy is under the famous mural of Jesus on campus.

Evey and Daddy at Biola

It was unusually cold down south but we couldn’t miss out on a trip to the beach. Stephen took us to Huntington Beach — his favorite — but one I had never visited. I caught the beautiful sunset on film but we had to leave quickly as it was extremely windy and really bothersome to Evelyn.

sunset Huntington Beach

Saturday morning, Stephen had classes all day at USC. Evelyn and I spent the day exploring the Getty Museum.

Getty explorations

I had never been before and was anxious to see it. We arrived just in time to join a tour of the museum’s highlights. The woman giving the tour was very well educated about the masterpieces she showed us. Our first stop was in the Impressionist room, my favorite painting time period. They had one of Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral on display.

Monet's Rouen cathedral

He did a whole series of these at different times of day and in different seasons. I have been to the cathedral itself. The facade looks out onto a large, open square and it certainly does seem to “change” colors as the day progresses.

Another favorite at this museum was the French wall and furniture decoration. They had rooms with works from the periods between King Louis XIV to Louis XVI. I loved this “Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire” chandelier. See if you can pick out those elements at play in this piece. (Hint: The glass bowl was actually a fish bowl!)

earth, wind, water, fire chandelier

Someone pointed out that this painting of King Louis XIV had him standing in fourth position. The docent said that this was because he was actually the inventor of the ballet positions after having founded the first ballet school in Paris. Never knew that before!

Louis XIV - 4th position

Although cold, it was a beautiful day. All the smog had been blown out of the city the day before so the view from the top of the Getty was spectacular. The distance that could be seen is rarely possible.

view from the Getty

We arrived a little early on campus at USC to meet Stephen for dinner with his classmates. Evelyn and I walked around the beautiful campus while we waited.

sunset at USC

Tommy Trojan statue USC

Dinner was at the University Club on campus where we were able to meet many of Stephen’s fellow classmates. (Sorry, I didn’t take any photos.)

Stay tuned for Part II….

First Shots

Evelyn went into the doctor today for her two-month check-up. Sadly, for her, that meant her first round of shots.

immunization recordShe did really well, though. I think Mommy was more traumatized by the whole event. Although, I definitely heard a true cry of pain for the first time today which nearly brought me to tears.

DSC_0004She’s growing well — she’s now at 12 lbs 4 oz and 23 1/4 in.

 

After a long nap this afternoon, she’s was feeling a little better and was cooing and laughing at me for a while, some of the brightest, happiest sounds I’ve heard from her. I guess she’s not too mad at me. 😉

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Stronger

Evelyn is not usually a big fan of tummy time on the floor (she’d rather do it on Daddy’s chest), but when we put her down last night, she was showing off just how strong she has become! 🙂

Tummy time with Daddy

Evelyn's tummy time

2 Months!

Goodness she grows in leaps and bounds!

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Evelyn has discovered the wonderful world of color! She is able to spot the mobile above her bassinet and it gives her hours of pleasure every day.

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She even spent some time with her cousin’s baby doll watching the mobile at Grandma’s the other day. (Her cousin, Rosie, insisted that her ‘baby’ join Evelyn in the Pack ‘n Play for the viewing. It was pretty cute.) 🙂

Mornin' Evelyn

Evelyn’s favorite time of day is first thing in the morning. She becomes a bundle of smiles, chatter, and even some laughter.

Happiness

She’s starting to smile socially now and will respond to happy faces near hers. What a beautiful smile!!

Grabbing

Her hands are beginning to find their way into her mouth for a little self-soothing. She’s grabbing toys and sometimes navigating them towards her mouth. She loves grabbing Mommy’s hair and refusing to let go. She sweetly gives little pats on your back when she’s at your shoulder if she’s in a good mood….or more aggressive ones if she’s not.

Evey and Daddy at Christmas

We had a special treat with Daddy home for few extra days during the holidays. They spent quite a bit of quality time playing together.

Flying with Daddy

She loves to stand while he balances her, or fly high in the air. She also likes Daddy’s beard that is coming back in, scratching her head back and forth underneath his chin.

Hooray for sleep!

This is how she likes to sleep. (Hooray for sleep!)

What a blessing our little Evey is!

Another First Christmas….

This year was Stephen’s and mine first Christmas together as a married couple. Christmastime last year we were rather preoccupied with wedding preparations and didn’t have nearly enough time to focus on the celebration of Christmas.

wedding busyness

This year, we put up our little tree at the beginning of December, hung it with a strand of lights and our few little ornaments, made an attempt at an Advent wreath (which never got lit, but at least it had a presence on our dining table), hung Christmas lights from our apartment balcony (only ones on the row), enjoyed homemade eggnog, hot buttered rum and Gluwhein on numerous occasions, created candy cane reindeer, munched peppermint candy bark, and “hung” stockings near the ‘burning log’ on the TV as we lack a fireplace.

wedding reception kiss

But most importantly, we were together commemorating this amazing first year together. I am so blessed beyond words with his love, and having him by my side with our newborn daughter was the best Christmas present ever.

Muff family at Christmas

Here’s to many, many Christmas’ with him to come!  🙂

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