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Author Archives: Laurel

Park Day

We’re so blessed with an early Springtime here in California. It was nearly 70 degrees yesterday, so we took advantage on Steve’s day off and made a trip out to the park for a lunchtime picnic. We’ve had one illness after another over the past month, so it was particularly nice to be outside.

Daddy and Evey at the park

It was Evelyn’s first time enjoying the park. She kept looking longingly at the older kids playing on the play structure and swinging on the swings. It seems she can’t wait to be out there herself, running around.

Daddy and Evey at the park 3

Daddy took her closer to the action where she could watch.

Daddy and Evey at the park 2

And she and I took a little trip on the swings. 🙂

Mommy and Evey at the park

Mommy and Evey at the park 2

Happy Valentine’s Day!

3 month - Evelyn 2

Someone’s finally feeling a little bit better today!

3 month - Evelyn 1

I’m so happy that she’s full of smiles again!

Happy Valentine's Day!


I took her 3 month photos in her Valentine outfit Gram Muff gave her. 🙂

3 month - Evelyn 3

3 month - Evelyn 4



3 month - Evelyn 5

3 month - Evelyn 6

3 month - Evelyn 7

Love those little toes!

3 month - Evelyn 8

Still Sick

Evey sleeping

I took Evey to the doctor again yesterday because she wasn’t feeling better. If anything, she was worse. She woke up with a gunky eye and seemed more uncomfortable than the day before. She was so miserable. Turned out she has an ear and eye infection, and possible bronchitis. Poor thing!

I’m glad she has some medication now that will help her feel better. We set up a vaporizer in our room to help her breathing and I’m upping our visits to the ‘steam room’ (bathroom with the door closed and shower on hottest it will go) to an extra visit each day. It is so difficult when she can’t communicate what hurts. But it is good to finally be able to provide a little bit better relief.

Saying Goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI

As I hurried along the path between the Commons and the women’s dorms to get to my next class, my friend, Lizzie, whizzed past shouting, ‘Habemus Papam!’ The white smoke had appeared. Joseph Ratzinger had been elected as the 264th successor to Peter.

Pope Benedict XVI

Just a few weeks earlier, I had arisen in the wee hours of the morning to mourn with fellow students the passing of Pope John Paul II during a live televised program of his funeral in Rome.

This was my experience of the end of a reign and the election of a new pope. In fact, it is everyone’s who is alive today. Until now.

Pope Benedict XVI has done something not done since the 15th century: resigned the papacy.

It is a little strange. We were just discussing this at dinner the other night, what would happen when a new pope was elected. My thoughts fell to the passing away of our beloved Benedetto and the cardinals hurriedly rushing to Rome to choose a successor. I never thought of him stepping down, of a ‘lengthy’ preparation for a conclave.


It is almost a year ago to the day that Stephen and I stood in St. Peter’s Square listening to Pope Benedict as he gave the Sunday Angelus blessing to all the pilgrims gathered there.

st peters square angelus

laurel st peters square

We went to Europe for our honeymoon last year. When choosing places to visit, we tried to stick to places neither of us had been. But we just couldn’t pass up a visit to Rome despite the fact I’d traveled there several times before, including living there a semester of college.

stephen st peters square

stephen st peters square 2

It was Stephen’s birthday. We found a place in the square hours before he was to appear. We wanted a prime spot for viewing his apartment window as he looked out on the square. A cheer rose up from the crowd as the red banner was dropped from the sill.

papa benedetto 1

papa benedetto 2

He said a few words in English, greeting the large American crowd there celebrating Cardinal Dolan’s elevation. We prayed the Angelus in Latin and were given his blessing before he retired for the afternoon.

We surely count it as a blessing to have seen him before he leaves the papacy.


It seems his legacy was shorter than John Paul II. But, then again, is it?

He had a great hand in shaping the documents of Vatican II (as did JPII) and even more so when he worked as the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith just prior to becoming pope. He was close friends with John Paul II. They worked on many things together over the years, helping the Church to become what it is today. There is a wealth of writings Benedict has bequeathed to the Church, most recently his three-part series on the life of Christ. He wrote an excellent exposition on the fundamentals of Catholic theology, which is extremely rich and thought-provoking. The encyclicals he gave us as pope are concise, yet never lacking. He says much in a few words, as evidenced by his resignation letter. And there is so much more he has written.

His eight years have been full. He has given much to us as he served as our shepherd, of which I and many others will be forever grateful.

There has been much commentary today both on secular and religious platforms about Pope Benedict XVI and what his resignation will mean for the future of the Church and the world. A great one I came across was one written by my college Latin professor discussing Pope Benedict’s reasons for resignation. Worth a look.

I am sad to see him go, yes, but am excited and hopeful for the future.



Evelyn came down with her first full-blown cold yesterday (she may have had a slight one earlier last month when I was sick, but seemed to escape the worst of it as I was sick first and providing her antibodies).

It breaks my heart to see my baby girl sick and be nearly helpless in assisting her. It started out with a nasty cough. We made a visit to the doctor yesterday afternoon to make sure it wasn’t something serious. The doctor said her lungs were clear, just a lot of mucus in her nose and throat.

Funny thing — the last time we were at the doctor, she received her 2 month shots. She recognized where we were when she caught sight of the instruments on the wall! She began to freak out, thinking she was going to receive shots again. The doctor said she was a bit young to recognize anything but faces, but the expression she made, the reaction she had, was the same one as when she received her shots. I’ve never seen her do that before or after, only when she was given her shots.

Her runny nose has started today. I’ve been trying to keep her nasal passages clear with the bulb syringe (which she can’t stand!), but, fortunately, it’s beginning to clear out on its own.

As I write this, she is sitting next to me, sleeping upright in her car seat, resting. I hope it clears out soon.

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.


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.


talking to Daddy


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!


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.


rolling over 2Sometimes it even brings her to tears.


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


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!


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

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