Wednesday, February 15, 2012

We have moved!

Our blog has moved!

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Our new blog has more features and is more personalized than ever. Hope you'll make the switch with us!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Two Love Birds

These two love birds are getting married in two weeks! We love them both and could not be more excited.

BTW, their wedding is going to be gorgeous. Shannon has impeccable taste, and has put a personal touch in everything from the gourmet catered food to the DIY decorations (which her family, friends and fiance have been able to help make, giving us a special memory in the pre-wedding process). Besides the venue, the bride is going to look stunning. Can't wait to take and post pictures.

Thanks for sticking with my blog readers! Some have you have asked why the infrequent posts? Two words: grad school. I've also taken down multiple posts from the past because it seemed prudent not to broadcast all of my thoughts from religion to politics. For those of you who left thoughtful comments to those removed posts, I saved them in my personal files! I value your insights, and that you took the time to share.

Hope everyone is excited for the holiday season. Get ready for the smell of burning leaves, pumpkin spice, and the twinkle of Christmas lights.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Challenge of Being Ourselves

Too often we still live with the pinched expectations of a culture of conformity, which sees daring as dangerous. Go along to get along: that's its mantra. Only a principle refusal to be terrorized by these stingy standards will save you from a Frankenstein life made up of other people's expectations grafted together into a poor imitation of existence. You can't afford to do that.... Homophobia, racism, religious bigotry: they are all bricks in a wall that divides us, bricks cast of the clay of fear, fear of that which is different or unknown.

- excerpt by Anna Quindlen in Katie Couric's book "The Best Advice I Ever Got"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dan's Surprise party

(Find the directions for these guys at

Dan's closest friends gathered at Laser Assault to surprise him for his 30th birthday.

Though I had planned this party a month in advance and had done my best to ensure that I was in control of the success of the day, life decided to screw with me by reminding me that the illusion of control is life's way of regularly telling you to suck it! Whatever life! “If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.” -Mario Andretti. Two can play at this game! (Warning: unbridled zeal is never a good thing).

I drove a blindfolded Dan to the Laser Tag venue. His stomach was empty. Being the strategic planner that I am I had starved Dan to the point of fainting so that he'd appreciate the food he'd find at the party, kinda like, "Hey, remember how your vision got blurry and you could barely stand cuz you were so hungry? I provide FOOD! Go get it birthday boy!" To which I envisioned tears welling up in his eyes while he glanced at me with gratitude and pride before diving headfirst into a large-pizza box. However, my fantasy turned nightmare when the combination of an empty stomach and wearing a blindfold caused severe motion sickness (side effect of ZEAL).

"Just 10 more minutes of driving," I'd reassure him.

But 10 turned into 30 as bumper-to-bumper traffic caused a third of our friends to arrive late to the party, and I had to stall by driving around in circles. CIRCLES! Of all the shapes to choose to drive a motion-sick passenger around in. I was a bit panicked.

I was nervously eying spots alongside the road that looked good for an "I'm gonna puke" moment, but luckily there was no need.

This is going to be great! I'm gonna win! Life, you ain't got nothin' on this!, these and similar phrases ran repeatedly through my mind throughout the day as I envisioned an imaginary war between me and life's unpredictability. Dan may or may not have commented on "Why the maniacal look in your eyes?" but then wisely turned away from my wide-eyed gaze and white-man's under bite expression, pretending the question had never been posed.

Eventually, I parked the car and proceeded to retrieve the cupcakes I had hidden in the trunk. I knew upon placing the food in there three hours previously that trunks were not designed to preserve food. But my optimism took over and I irrationally convinced myself it would work out. But upon opening the trunk I saw that the carefully crafted angry-bird-themed cupcakes resembled the Wicked Witch of the West after she melted, and maybe bile. I grabbed the bag of food, dragged my green husband out of the car, guided him into the venue (bumping him on a door frame or two), and yanked his blindfold off, nearly ripping his head off his neck in the process cuz, well, I was excited!

There are times when you realize a month's worth of effort is all going to pot in a matter of 30 seconds. Life 19 : Stephanie 4. That's when we say, "I'm just gonna roll with it" and pop an oozy green angry-bird pig cupcake into your mouth to muffle the screams.

The evening from that point on proceeded without a hitch. We played a couple rounds of laser tag, watched Dan demolish his playable angry bird cake (similar, though much less elaborate, as the one pictured below), and spent the rest of the night eating, chatting, and watching season 2 of Modern Family with Ben and Rosa.

Originally I had anticipated having the day of Dan's party to myself to prepare for things while Dan was at work. Then he says, "Honey, I think I'm gonna take all of my birthday off and spend the entire day with you."
"Grreeeaaat!" I said a little too high and tried to make my smile look genuine.

The day of was fraught with lying to Dan left and right...
"Hey, why don't you take Coda to the park while I get ready for the day... she's so ancy" so that I could load his trunk with party goodies.

"I think I'll leave the fancy camera in the car under the seat while we go into the arcade"
"Why don't you just put it in the trunk Steph?"
"Oh, you know what? I think I'll just take it in. Maybe I'll get a good picture."

"Honey, why don't you go to the gym? I won't be getting out of bed for another hour or two." Cue sound of door shutting as Dan leaves so I can hop out of bed and finish decorating 24 cupcakes.

"Steph, did you make reservations for Tucano's tonight?"
"What? Oh! Oh yeah, mmm-hmmm, sure did. Except they don't take reservations, so we'll just have to get there before the rush." (They do take reservations)
"Well, did we get that birthday coupon in the mail from them yet so we can get a free meal tonight?"
Knowing I could not produce the coupon that had not yet arrived, but still needing to convince him that Tucano's was the agenda of the night, I said, "Nope, but they told me you can just show them the birth date on your ID." They said no such thing because I never spoke with them.

I even let Dan drive us 30 minutes to Tucano's, hungry for plates upon plates of meats, and then right before parking told him to swap seats with me and put on a blindfold. He looked like he might cry.

But alas, he WAS surprised, so all of the lying and evasiveness? Totally worth it.

Thanks everyone who helped make this day special for sweet Daniel!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Natalie and Jim are getting married...

in just 2.5 more weeks! We're very happy they found each other.

Here's Natalie at one of her Bridal Showers, looking lovely as ever.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday Dan!

This is a digital version of the wallet-sized flipbook I made for Dan.

From your family to you on your birthday – your life is a gift we’ve experienced everyday these past 30 years. We love you. Happy Birthday!


D is for the dorky things you used to do to drive me nuts—“Alrighty then!”
A is for the adventures you had in skateboarding, river rafting (Phiney Creek and the white waters near Sacramento), business retreat activities, and hiking, many of which I knew about (and cringed) and some I only learned about through your English class papers in college.
N is for your native ability to sing and to play the piano beautifully.
I is for your interesting sense of humor, evidenced by the Mother’s Day card I once received that stated: “I love you like a mother!”
E is for the excellence with which you served your mission in Montreal.
L is for the special love a mother has for her last child.

N is for Noire, your beloved dog you raised from a pup, who never realized that walks were for walking, not pulling people on roller blades, as you taught her! How the rest of us suffered as she tried to pull our arms off when we took her for a “walk.”
E is for the effort you put into achieving your sales goals and other milestones you set in life.
I is for (what else?): I-L-L-I-N-I country in Illinois where you grew up.
L is for likeable—you have always had many friends who have appreciated you for the good person that you are.
L is for your contagious and often unpredictable laugh and for your general love for life.

D is for your devotion to the Gospel and dedication to your personal beliefs.
U is for your unbelievable charm which you have figured out how to turn on when it suits you best. Work it!
N is for the nocturnal facial expressions that provide amusement for your wife and dog!
N is for your natural ability to find fun wherever you can and to enjoy life to the fullest!

I love all that you are and all you will someday be! Happy, happy 30th birthday, my dear son!

Love, Mom


There he was.

Curling through the streets.

Yet unknown from where he came and where he goes,

He glides –

Not bothered by the pitted peril, looming with every step,

His eye sees an open road,

A path unblemished by mere imperfection, and unobstructed by fear.

For his safety is not founded in his padding or in ignorance.

And his joy not born in rebellion or spite.

His virtue lifts his knees and springs his feet, propelling his pursuit of right.

And he goes on.



Dan’s the one who always knows
In the winter when it snows
That his car and Stephanie’s, too
In spite of forecasts will get through.

Dan’s the one who taught me value
Got me hooked on American Idol
Now I watch it all the time
When I should be making a dime.

Dan’s the one I tell “Drive slow!”
But as far as son-in-laws go,
He’s the one who takes the toast
And next to my daughter, I love the most!

Coda runs a very close third!



From diapers to doorbells, it’s been fun to see Dan grow up into such a great man. He’s gone from a Garfield-reading, Gameboy-playing, Newspaper-delivering, Musical-practicing BOY, to an Alarm-selling, Adventure-seeking, Cruise-taking, Husband-caring MAN. I admire Dan’s musical abilities, dedication to his career responsibilities, devotion to his wife, love of life, charm, and personable and likeable disposition. In a nutshell: Je ne pouvais pas demander un meilleur petit frere! =)


By 30 years old did you know you would be
An uncle to 6 nieces, 3 nephews
A homeowner on ******* View
Dad to a mutt breed

Did you know you would be
A mother’s joy
A mother in law’s favorite boy
A wife’s priority

Did you know you’d be
The aim of your brother’s respect
Loved by a dear sister in every aspect
The best worker in a company

Did you know you’d be
Whole where once broken
The subject of loving prayers spoken
That you’d mean so much to me?

At 23 you made me laugh, cry, and believe
At 24 you said “I do”
At 25 we bought our first home
At 26 things in life kinda fell through
At 27 our love story really began
At 28 we were well on our way
By 29 you’d become a strong man
Now at 30, I am every day amazed

Dan you are
Coda’s best friend
Your sibling’s blood
Your Mother-in-laws’ blessing
Your Mother’s heart
And my everything


Friday, February 25, 2011

2010: A Year in Review in our little, sometimes slanted world

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind -

Poem by Emily Dickinson

2010: A Year in Review
-Dan grew hair long and adopted the nickname “Ringo Star”
-Steph grew hair long, got a tan, and adopted the name “Snooki”
-Coda found a new way to ride in style

-Dan was recognized as the #1 sales rep in Titan Alarm
-Stephanie’s blog, reached 30,000 readers per month (that’s not a plug or anything)
-Stephanie lied about submitting a shameless plug into Newsletter
-Dan and Stephanie celebrated 5-year wedding anniversary
-Coda learned to jump on a trampoline
-With help of generous and talented friends (mostly Josh, pictured below, and Justin and Jimmy), we finished our basement apartment in our home and moved in while keeping our fabulous tenants in the main portion of the home.
-Dan attended an esteemed Taxi songwriter’s workshop with BFF Josh in LA
-Stephanie got accepted into her number one pick for Grad School, Seton Hill University, to study “Writing Popular Fiction”
-While living in a motel we successfully avoided confrontations with Man With an 8-inch Knife and Steroid-Popping Weightlifter who worked out at 11PM, 2AM, & 5AM while sharing a wall with us and dropping his weights loudly after every set
-Stephanie shot at least 3 new candids of Dan sleeping with his eyes open

Good Times:
-Spent a few days in beautiful Yosemite

-Got to visit parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins in CA, VA, IN, and UT

-Went to DC for a day

-Saw Michael Buble in concert

-Went to see “The Lion King” on Broadway

-Dear friends Kaitlyn McGuire became Mrs. Todd Whitcomb, and Rosa Parma became Mrs. Ben Gardner

-BFF Shannon McGuire became engaged to Ty Bailey and BFF Natalie Hess became engaged to Jim Cannon

- The Twilight movie “Eclipse” came out. Period.
-Titan Alarm generously took us on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera where we ate 2 flans a day, gained 2 lbs a day, and swam with dolphins
-Participated in Disneyland’s “VoluntEar” program where 1 million people who did service for their community received free Disneyland passes for a day. Our service was singing for an old folks community home. Stephanie may or may not having noticed certain folks turning down their hearing aids while she sang “Poor Wandering One”.

-Went to Boston to visit Shannon and Ty, and got to see Steph’s Grandfather Duke’s only-living sibling, Uncle Jimmy.

We made some new friends, and were able to be with old friends too.
"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere." -Anonymous
Thanks for sharing in our lives and letting us share in yours.

Happy 2011!