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Author Archives: Laurel

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!

IMAG0236

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.

IMAG0241

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!  🙂

Evelyn’s First Christmas

I loved watching Evelyn and Daddy open stockings and gifts under our tree. We did this a few days before Christmas as we planned on being at Stephen’s parents’ house on Christmas morning.

First Christmas 1

First Christmas 2

She was very excited about her new fleece jacket and hat! She loves her fleece!

First Christmas 3

One of her favorite gifts is this blanket and hat made by her Grandma Muff. She loves to snuggle inside when we go on car rides or walks in the cold.

Snuggled

On Christmas Eve, she got all dolled up in her party dress, but was pooped long before the party ended.

Asleep in her party dress

Grandma Munsill gave her this little silver bell with her name engraved on the side. I read the story of the Polar Express to Evelyn so she would know Santa would visit her as long as she heard its sweet sound.

Evelyn's silver bell

For someone so little, she certainly had a big Christmas! 🙂

Laurel’s Goals for 2013

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I aim for New Year’s GOALS, a few things to work towards throughout the year. Saying ‘Exercise every day’ isn’t very motivating, but saying ‘Run a 10-K’ gives you a reason to run.

Laurel photography

* I want to work on my photography more this year, learning how to use my Nikon DSLR better in manual mode and practice composition techniques. (Perhaps to start a photography business in the future???) To help achieve this goal, I started a 365 Project on a little side blog — http://laurels365project.blogspot.com — which I intend to post a photo on every day for a year. Please stop by! 🙂

Eiffel at night blurry

* I would like to be fluent in French by the end of the year so I’m going to start working on Rosetta Stone at least 5 times a week. I still need to determine a reasonable amount of time each day to work on it. Another aid to gaining French fluency? I’d like to read “Les Miserables” in French from cover-to-cover but I’m not sure I’m up to the task just yet. (This is a lifetime goal for me.)

holding daddy's hand

* My brother gave me a scrapbook for Christmas that I am turning into a baby book for Evelyn. I’m planning on fixing at least 2 pages a month, updating it with milestones and photos. It is my intention to have it filled out by the end of the year to commemorate her first year.

running on the beach

* I have some exercise goals that I’m still hashing out as I’ve just begun to get back on my feet after giving birth. Starting out this time around after an exercise hiatus is a bit different with my body having changed from pregnancy as it never has before. I’m doing some research on good exercises to restrengthen my core and beginning to walk daily with Evelyn before I begin running again.

March - Steve and Laurel

* I love to spend quality time with the people in my life that I love……especially my husband! 🙂 On that note, we are making it a priority to have a date night (or morning or afternoon) every Monday. My husband has the day off and many places are empty of people since it is during the normal work week. Our little ‘third wheel’ may be along for the ride most of the time for now, but it’s important that we have some time together despite our lack of ‘alone time.’

I will come up with more things as the year rolls on but it is always good to get things off to a good start in the New Year!

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