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Author Archives: Stephen

A Special Breakfast

For quite some time, Evelyn has had an interest in making food. Her mama has done a great job including her when time and complexity of the meals allow. If she ends up being able to cook half as good as Laurel, my prospects of keeping off the weight I just lost is slim to none (sorry, bad pun).

As you can see, Evelyn has baked muffins:

And pizza:

However, now, it’s my turn! I often make breakfast for everyone on the weekends when I’m home from work. Recently, Evelyn has asked to participate. Now we’ve done it together enough that she knows the routine. In fact, she’s ready for her own cooking show. Well, that gave me an idea!

 

Thank You, Laurel

*To regular readers, forgive me while I, Stephen Muff, commandeer this blog today. *

 

 

 

“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. What they don’t tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.”

-Big Fish (2003)

Time Stopped

It was the same week my grandfather passed away and the same day I had a run-in with the California Bar Exam, so I attribute this to Divine Mercy. I had already planned a Thanksgiving party with friends from a local young adult church group (called Faith and Ale). I didn’t feel very thankful, but nonetheless, I knew the show must go on.

Laurel came with her roommate, having never met me before. She was also dating somebody else, who is a good friend of mine now. Before I proceed, I’ll add this tidbit: my Thanksgiving party required people to dress up like pilgrims or Indians. We were both pilgrims.

She struck me the second I met her, and it’s true, time stopped. When it started again, it threw things into fast-forward and it has yet to slow down.

Anyway, months later, Laurel was no longer dating anyone. Many of us were at a prayer vigil and then went to the amazing Leatherby’s Family Creamery for lunch. We didn’t happen to sit next to each other (I deliberately sat next to her), but we did both order the same delicious tuna melt.

On my way home, I realized I missed a call from Laurel. I pulled off the freeway at the next exit and listened to the message.

“Hi Steve, it’s Laurel. I think we talked about going to the Crocker Art Museum – I don’t remember, but I think we did – anyway, my dad’s birthday is cancelled today because he’s sick and I’m free to go if you are.”

Pause. We never spoke of going to the Crocker. I wouldn’t lie, but I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I called her back.

“Hi Laurel, I’m still in Sacramento if you want to go. I’ll pick you up!”

I never said we spoke about the Crocker, but I wasn’t going to tell her we never did.
And that was our first non-date, despite me picking her up and paying.

Not long after, one of Laurel’s roommates heard Laurel say that she did not have a date for her brother’s wedding, so her roommate suggested me – in front of me.

About a week later, the day after my brother’s wedding, we went out on our first date to the Sacramento Music Festival.

A few months later, we both knew we were right for each other, and I asked her to be my bride.

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Catching Up

As they said in Big Fish, time moved extra fast to catch up again. It’s 2015, we have a house and two kids. Laurel is my greatest support in life, helping me with chores and our two girls, but also encouraging me when I’m down, relieving me when I’m stressed, and praying for me – and God knows I need it.

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Her stamina and perseverance amazes me. She’s not just watching a two-year old and a six-month old, but bringing one to ballet and the other to the doctor, both to the grocery, and so-forth. You know! If you read this blog, you can see what an amazing mother she is. I have a two-year-old that enjoys baking! That says enough.

All the things you see on here are not even half of what she does for me. She knit me a beautiful scarf, which I meant to take to work today, but was rushing out the door and forgot. Since one car is having trouble, Laurel drives me to and from the train station several times a week. She does this, managing two little ones at the same time.  When I get home, dinner is virtually always ready or in process, and I can relax the best I can after a long day.

I do what I can to help her outside of going to work, but she does so much she rarely leaves anything for me to do (so I ask the blog readers to keep her accountable and leave something for me). With that said, most days I come home absolutely worn out, but she’s there to welcome me home. I cannot express how grateful I am to her and to God for putting her in my life.

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How it could be anything other than Divine Providence that someone like me would end up with such an amazing person by his side?

I could go on and on and on, but I won’t – for now. All I want to do is say thank you to Laurel for helping me through hard times, guiding me in the dark, and supporting me when I lack the energy and strength to do it myself. These days, that’s every day.

I look forward to the day when I live closer to work and have no school or exams for which I am studying so that I may spend time with this amazing woman. At least her birthday, our anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday are coming up and we can see each other more. I can’t wait!

 

Thank you, Laurel, for everything!

 

Yours Truly,

Stephen

Welcome Home, Weber!

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As Laurel, Evelyn and I move into our new house, we bring along with us another member of the family – Weber! Ever since our troops returned from WWII, this grill has been gracing the backyards of the American suburbs. However, with Laurel’s 8 brothers and two sister-in-laws, and my two siblings and their spouses, I must prepare for feeding massive amounts of people. That is why I got the Weber One-Touch Gold 26.75″.

 

Many posts to come! Wave your mouse over the image for a link to the Weber site!

We have a new video camera… and we used it in Carmel!

This is a quick video I put together of our trip to Carmel! Laurel is writing a more detailed post soon!

 

 

One thing… it abruptly goes to a bunch of fish around 4:00. Those are at the aquarium in Monterey!

 

 

Where I’ve Been!

 

DSC_0008Laurel has written the past eight posts. It’s my turn! I’ve obviously been absentee from the blog, but thankfully, I haven’t been absentee from my family. Instead of writing posts, I have been spending a lot of my time in the evenings watching Evelyn try to roll over, babbling long stories to me, and my favorite, playing peekaboo.

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It’s quite funny since she’s just starting to react to it, and hasn’t really grasped the concept yet. I’ll say, “peekaboo!” and she’ll get a big grin, which would otherwise be a toothy grin, had she any teeth. Then, she turns away with a shy little look on her face. It’s so cute! Right now, Laurel is doing a fantastic job taking care of her, but she’s a little fussy (I mean Evelyn, not Laurel).

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I’ve also been busy with something else. It’s the reason we went down to Los Angeles recently. I am in the Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Southern California! Fight on! For those who are not familiar with what this degree is, it helps train government or nonprofit executives. Further, it helps with policy analysis and its implementation.

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Many lobbyists, management consultants, and public relations professionals also get this degree. It is, in my opinion, the most valuable degree for those interested in politics. This will play nicely with my law degree, and so will the fact that USC is in the top 10 Masters of Public Administration programs in the nation. While I’m taking my classes online, USC has a satellite campus in Sacramento, which I’m sure will be useful. Their alumni network is strong here, and I’ve already made contact with many of them!

 

 

I Was Home For Christmas!

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This was, by far, the best Christmas ever.

I didn’t celebrate the birth of Our Lord as a bachelor, and I didn’t celebrate it as a man running around preparing for his wedding on February 4th. Nope. This year, I celebrated it with my wife and our little daughter. We had the blessing of enjoying the time together, as well as the time with both of our parents, my aunt and uncle from Texas, my brother and his wife, my sister and her husband and their little boy Danny (a few months older than Evelyn), and Laurel’s eight brothers and two of Laurel’s sister-in-laws. Oh, and let’s not forget our 4-year-old nephew and 1 year-old niece!

My parents were gracious enough to open their house to the entire Munsill clan. It was definitely busy, but in the end, everyone enjoyed themselves. Elliot, my sister’s husband, played Christmas songs on the guitar with Johnny, Laurel’s brother. Everyone joined in singing. Laurel and I spent the night at my parents’. Evelyn gave me and Laurel a wonderful gift– she slept through the night! In the morning, we opened presents, had a delicious brunch, and lounged about the house.

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Mid-afternoon, we left for the Munsills’. Laurel helped her mom prepare the food for dinner while I enjoyed a beer with her brothers and did my best to entertain little Evelyn. Laurel’s family draws names at Thanksgiving, so each person only has to buy a gift for one person (unless they opt for more). I received a fine bottle of Scotch, my second that day, and Laurel received a scrapbook that she intends to make into a baby book for little Evelyn.

More than all the gifts and good food, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing our families and spending time together. We are very blessed to live near most of our family members and look forward to holidays to come!

A Most Wonderful Christmas Carol

The Christmas Spirits

After reading what I’m about to write, you might offer a few suggestions: that I see a priest, that I see a psychologist, or that I see a paranormal investigator. You see, on Christmas, three Spirits visited me. This was truly a life-changing experience.

First, the Spirit of Christmas Captain Morgan visited me. He came in the rare form of Hot Buttered Rum. This brought me into the past. In law school, a man from Tennessee conjured up this Spirit, which was the last time I saw it. It’s perfect on a cold winter day. This time, my wife summoned forth this Spirit. Her incantations were as powerful as any Midwesterner. The Good Captain, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla extract is enough to make even the most stoic man nostalgic – and fat.

Second, the Spirit of Christmas Aberlour visited me. This Spirit arose from the Highlands of Scotland in a small but powerful region of Speyside. In 2006, I crossed the River Spey when traveling along the coast of Scotland by train with three friends. I never met this Spirit before, but knowing the sheer, rugged beauty and goodness of its homeland is enough to guarantee its place in the near future of my life. When my parents introduced me to this Spirit, I was not afraid; I was honored. People have enjoyed this Spirit’s company for 186 years. I reckon that I shall see this spirit before my head hits the pillow tonight.

Finally, the Spirit of Christmas Glenrothes visited me. Hailing from the same Speyside region as her older cousin, Aberlour, this Spirit is slightly sweeter, but still has the same gold aura. My brother-in-law – wise and discerning – allowed me the pleasure to test this Spirit, and she was good. Laurel agrees! I imagine our future will include invitations to the Spirit of Glenrothes to grace our Christmas season’s table.

This Christmas, I have learned not to be a Scrooge and to share what I have. Well, these Spirits have not disappeared yet, and I look forward to inviting a few friends over so that I can introduce them and share their splendor. In fact, I should go do that right now!

Evelyn is Baptized!

Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. That is the day that Catholics remember Mary’s birth and how she was preserved from Original Sin. When the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and said “Hail, full of grace!” the word “full” means bestowed upon. God bestowed His grace upon her, and she never rejected it. What a beautiful day to have our child baptized! God, through baptism, bestowed His grace upon our daughter that day. As Mary was the first Christian (quite literally saying “yes” to Christ, and accepting Him into her life), we pray our daughter looks to her as as model of faith.

Our friends and family joined us at St. Stephen the First Martyr parish in Sacramento for this momentous occasion, when our daughter entered the Church. We are looking forward to watching her grow! Here are some pictures – click on them to see larger versions!

Advent is Here!

Yesterday, my wife and I brought our daughter to Gram and Grandpa Muff’s house. My dad and I wandered into the woods and we chopped down a little Christmas tree for my apartment. Laurel and I brought it home and decorated it tonight. It’s borderline a Charlie Brown tree. It doesn’t matter, though. With lights on the balcony rail and the tree decorated and lit up, our place is ready for the holidays!

With warm Christmas adult-beverages such as Gluhwein and Eggnog (recipes and descriptions to come later), we need to keep in mind the season. Today was the first Sunday of Advent – a penitential season to reflect upon the coming of Christ into the world. Songs such as O Come Emmanuel and Gabriel’s Message remind us to keep in mind how we want Christ to find us when He comes into the world again.

Along with our other reflections this season, it is time for remembrance of our blessings. This year is my first Christmas with Laurel as my wife. Last year, we were very busy preparing for our upcoming wedding in February. This year, we get to relax. Well, a little bit. Someone else joined us. Evelyn is here! I’m not sure how much relaxing we’ll get, but it’s nice nonetheless. My wife and my daughter are my two greatest blessings this year. I am looking forward to each moment I get to spend with them this season.

Turning the Page!

Laurel is still carrying the baby, but this time, IN HER ARMS! On November 9th, Laurel gave birth to a beautiful 7-pound-11-ounce, 20-and-a-half-inch Evelyn Rose Muff. It’s been a while since the last post, but now you know why. The tiny little girl made us both too exhausted to write, but what a blessing! I am finally regaining enough energy to communicate and attempting to return to work tomorrow.

We chose the name Evelyn because it’s the name of one of my all-time favorite people. My grandmother. Evelyn Pervier passed away last year after a long struggle. Before the health issues arose, she was the funniest woman, full of spunk and life. Let me tell you – our little Evelyn is probably going to be quite similar! This will be a grand adventure and Laurel and I are looking forward to every minute.

What a whirlwind! After all that, in short, Laurel and I are doing well. God has blessed us abundantly and we have much to be thankful for this season other than turkey and pumpkin pie.

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