Tuesday, September 28, 2010


For Today

Outside my window... appears to be gray and overcast but the trees are blowing. It is only a fa├žade as it is really muggy and humid.

I am hearing... Dave Ramsey on the radio and inspired to stay on budget and be debt free.

I am pondering... about how amazing life has been the last 6 months.
I am creating... a scrapbook of our life together.

I am thankful for... friends and family who have continued to love, support, encourage, and pray for us.
From the kitchen... I create meals from love that nourish the one I love.

I am going... places. We are going somewhere. We have a future that is full of hope and know that we heading in a positive direction.

I am reading... several books at once but not really making a dent on any of them.

I am hoping... that others continue to be inspired by the life and experiences I have lived.

Around the house... is more clutter than I would like there to be. Time to get cracking on the housework.

One of my favorite things... getting lost in a book and being transported into the world that it creates.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Mass and quality time with my hubby.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... A moment with my Mom & Dad before the wedding...

The Simple Woman's Daybook is a brief outline for women/mothers who blog to use as a way to compose thoughts, plan the week, and keep a grateful heart. It is typically published once a week on Tuesdays. I saw it on a friend's blog and I thought I would use it as a way to update you on what has been happening in our marriage thus far. I hope that you continue to follow our blog and find inspiration in the stories and experiences we have to share.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Happy Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul

Feast of St. Vincent de Paul: September 27

My husband and I are so lucky to have our lives and marriage touched by the stories and legacies left behind by so many of the Saints of the Church. One such Saint is St. Vincent de Paul. Tomorrow celebrates the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul. We honor and celebrate him and the work he did for the poor.

Our experience with the St. Vincent de Paul Society

Soon after we were engaged, I heard from a friend about new dresses on sale for 90 percent off at the St Vincent de Paul Society thrift store in Cocoa Beach. I called my sister soon after learning of this to see if she would be willing to go to the thrift store to look at the dresses. I never thought to get my dress at a thrift store but I knew they were brand new dresses and was excited about getting a beautiful dress for less money. Not to mention help a good cause such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society who does so much through the Church to serve the poor. There was to be no dress hunting. There was to be no big search. I was determined to buy a dress here. After trying on only about 8 dresses, I was able to find the dress of my dreams and buy it for only $47.40.

Trying on the dress of my dreams

Our wedding day was the most amazing day of our lives and I certainly was a beautiful bride. I was so proud to tell everyone the story of my $50 dress. A $50 dress that made me just look and feel like a princess.

Before the ceremony
After the ceremony
Two weeks after our wedding, my parents held a second reception where donations were collected in lieu of gifts. We were able to collect $560 and donate it to the St Vincent de Paul Society chapter at St Mark the Evangelist Church in Fort Pierce, Florida, where my parents are parishioners.

Kris and I were able to make another donation for $400 to the St Vincent de Paul Society in the Diocese of Orlando where my dress was purchased. The $400 is the remainder of what I would have paid for the dress had I purchased it in a retail bridal shop.

The memories we made on our wedding day making our vows to one another in front of God and our family and friends and celebrating with them are worth more than any amount that we can donate.

We are grateful for organizations like the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the work that they do in the honor and memory of such a great saint. We are thankful for the memory and story we have to share with our friends and family for the rest of our lives. We hope to continue to make donations to the St. Vincent de Paul Society in the honor of our anniversary and the memory we will have for a lifetime.

Happy feast day!

Unfortunately, the thrift store in Cocoa Beach where my dress was purchased has since closed. There are still two other thrift store locations in Apoka and Cleremont that continue to the work of St. Vincent de Paul in the Diocese of Orlando. For more information, please visit their website:  http://www.svdporlando.org/

For more information on the St.Vincent de Paul Society, please visit their website: http://www.svdpusa.org/

For more information on the life of St. Vincent de Paul, please check the website:  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15434c.htm

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In retrospect: The first time I ever saw your face

Keeping on with the retrospective posts I have decided to recollect on the day that I met my husband.

Our first meeting

As you have read, I met my husband on Valentine's Day 2001. It was not on a blind date. It was not even a date. It was just dinner with some friends. Valentine's Day was not my favorite holiday. I would have been content if it was just another day of the year. Valentine's Day had become a day of bad luck for me. Years before I had some not so pleasant experiences on Valentine's Day. They might not have been unpleasant at the time but they turned out to be not so good years later. I just did not have any luck on Valentine's Day. So in 2001, I continued on with my Anti-Valentine's Day rituals. I just wanted to enjoy dinner with friends. We all did not have anyone in particular for Valentine's Day so I figured dinner with friends to forget that we did not have anyone special in our lives. We had nothing to celebrate. We were just having dinner and it just happened to be Valentine's Day.

I arrived late to dinner that day which was nothing out of the ordinary for me. I had worked that day and knew ahead of time that I was going to be late. Being one of the last to arrive, I had to sit at the end of the booth. But I was not the last one to arrive to dinner. A few minutes after I arrived, a new member came to join us for dinner. It was a guy. I certainly was not thinking anything much less dating potential. As the last two to arrive, we sat across from one another in the booth. His name was Kris. He was not dressed particularly well. He was not the most attractive. But I was not looking to meet someone. I continued on with my bitter rage against meeting people on Valentine's Day so I am sure I was not the most attractive that day either.

I do not recall what I ordered for dinner that day, but I do recall what he ordered. The sight in fact is burned in my memory. He ordered a Smokehouse Burger. It was not just your regular burger. It was a bacon cheeseburger topped with onion rings and oozing with barbecue sauce. I could not imagine eating it and I was glad that I did not have that in front of me. As I watched him eat (I just could not help but watch as he was sitting directly in front of me) the barbecue sauce dripped everywhere. He had it dripping from his mouth, his hands, and just everywhere. I could not believe the sight I was seeing. And in public, too! If there could have been any potential here, it certainly was shattered after that sight. I did not think human but rather heathen.

Smokehouse Burger

Our second meeting

About a week after our first meeting, I was meeting some friends at Stevie Tomato's for karaoke night. Being Filipino, I love karaoke. I love to sit in the audience and sing along. Sometimes I even work up the courage to get up on stage and perform. I never get nervous being on stage but my voice is a separate entity from me and she gets quite nervous in the beginning but she settles down after a bit. Other friends from the singles group were going to be there even though I was meeting other friends. After a while, someone new came to join us. I had a few to drink so I was very comfortable and we talked most of the night. As the night was ending, he asked me if I wanted to go to get something to eat at Denny's. I agreed. It was much easier to talk and be heard at Denny's than it was at Stevie Tomato's. We did not have to shout or repeat ourselves. We stayed up for quite sometime just talking although I think I did most of the talking that night. We traded email address and phone number. I was quite happy to have made a new friend.

When I got home that night, I logged on to my computer. I found my new friend online and we continued chatting until the wee morning. It took me some time but I soon realized that the person I had met a Stevie Tomato's was the same person I had met the week before at Ruby Tuesday. He cleaned pretty well. He was dressed nice. He was even nice to talk to. I thought I had made pretty good friend.

Within a few months, Kris and I began dating. This was the start of our on again off again relationship. Who would have known that it would come to this?

In retrospect

On the day we were engaged, Kris and I went back to that Ruby Tuesday. I thought often of that day we first met. I thought how funny it was that on that day when I was not expecting to meet someone I met the man who would someday become my husband. I was not attracted and I did not think for a moment on that day I met him that I would be married to him someday. We ordered that famous Smokehouse Burger just for old time's sake. For extra added measure, Kris slathered on even more barbecue sauce. I looked at the half of a burger I had sitting before me. I could not even figure out how to hold the burger without getting sauce on me. I tried from every angle and just could not figure it out. So I finally picked it up and took my first bite. As I finished biting into the burger, I looked at my now fiance and uttered the sincerest apology I had given in a long time. Kris asked me why I was sorry. I told him, "All those years ago, I thought it was you who was the heathen. I was wrong. It was never you. It was the burger." We both had a pretty good laugh. I am glad that I did not let the burger get in our way and now we are happily married.

Kris and the offensive burger (May 29, 2009)
Kris taking a bite from the Smokehouse Burger (Notice the barbecue sauce oozing from the burger)
There was more sauce than this when I met him
Notice the barbecue sauce dripping from the burger
Valentine's Day

Last year for Valentine's Day I had my friend from work make a "bouquet" for Kris in commemoration of our first meeting. My former co-worker Erica made it. I told her the story and the details and she did the rest. She used nine Spongebob Squarepants crabby hamburgers and added red hearts. She used red and yellow-orange cellophane. She put it all in a yellow-orange pot with white dots to resemble a hamburger bun with sesame seeds. She added the Ruby Tuesday logo to top it all off. It sits atop one of our planter shelves in the living room.

Hamburger Valentine's Day Bouquet

Groom's Cake

For our rehearsal dinner I bought Kris a Groom's Cake. It was fitting to get a cake in the shape of a burger. I had it made at Publix and had them write on the "It was you" in reference to that it was the burger and it was him all along. He was the one meant for me.

Groom's Cake
My Groom and his cake

It is a great memory for both of us and a great look back into what we knew then and what we know now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In retrospect: The Proposal

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Verse 29: "Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
Sometimes I look back on certain events in our relationship and I think about what I was thinking and feeling at that time and compare it to what I have learned and what I know now. I like to call these blogs "In retrospect." It is a way of looking back at things with fresh news eyes and seeing how it lead up to where we are today.

One such event I have often pondered is the day Kris proposed to me. On May 29, 2009 at St. Peter's Church in Naples, Florida Kris proposed to me out in what used to be the grotto and Stations of the Cross. The wooded area where it was located back in 2001 when we first met was over grown. We could not walk through each station. The only ones that could still be seen were Stations 12 to 14. There was to be no surprise about his proposal. I knew it was coming. I set up the whole day except the words and how it was all going to go down. I left all the details up to Kris. So what I thought would be no surprises turned out to be the best surprise of my life.

Events leading up to the proposal

We knew relatively quickly after our re-new-ed relationship in March that this time we either were going to get married or we were completely done. I was not going to settle for our relationship being completely done. I was going to do what I could to make sure that we were going to be married when it was all said and done. Nine years was just too much time to put into a relationship to see it end that way much less not in marriage. I knew my love for him was deep and true and I was not going to lose it this time. I just had to know for sure that his love for me was just as deep and true.

It took no time at all for both of us to realize that our love for one another ran deep and true. We both could not deny how we felt any longer. We knew after a few short weeks that this for sure was going to culminate in an amazing marriage. We just had to make sure that both set of parents were supportive of our wishes and desires. We had already seen that from his Mom and Dad since I had visited him several times after we re-new-ed our relationship. I had a new found relationship with his parents and it was going smoothly. My parents knew we were together again but were not quite sure where we were heading this time around. They had known Kris for the past nine years but were not certain if our relationship was ever going to go anywhere. They already suspected our intentions this time to get married but we had not told them directly. They still had some doubt in their mind if we were really going to take this to the next level or just walk away completely.

We told my parents a few days before my birthday May 2009 of our intentions to marry. My Mom seemed very hesitant to give us the okay. We were not asking so much for approval as we both were adults old enough to make this decision on our own but we wanted them to be aware and to accept that after nine years we finally were ready for the next step. My Dad seemed to be relieved that finally there was someone who could take care of me and look after me if anything should happen to them. He was okay to finally let go of the strings. My Mom was just not so sure if we both really knew what this meant. We more than knew. We were more than ready. We assured my Mom that we both knew what we were getting into and were willing to accept whatever challenges the future had to throw us. Despite my Mom's initial hesitation, they both congratulated us and welcomed Kris into our family.

The Proposal

Things moved pretty fast after we told my parents of our intentions. We purchased the ring I had been admiring on my birthday. It took some time to have it sized but we picked it up from the jeweler just a few days later. I knew in a short time that I would officially get the ring and Kris and I would finally be engaged.

The ring in its box
Kris had already had an idea of where he wanted to propose. He was thinking of several spots in St. Augustine where we had vacationed a few times. He did not know when we would have the chance to go there again. He was trying to plan it out when I had other ideas.

I was heading to Naples from Orlando for a work related conference for a weekend (May 29-31) just shortly after we picked up the ring from the jeweler. Kris was living in Bradenton which was not far from Naples. I had decided that it would be in Naples where we would get engaged. I wanted it to be at St. Peter's Church where we had attended Mass together when we first met in 2001. The rest of the details I left up to Kris to decide.

He planned a nice morning in Naples for our engagement. He came to Naples and picked me up at my sister's house where I was staying for the weekend. We drove out to Mass at St. Peter's Church. We were early for Mass so we sat in the car and listened to Christopher West talk about Theology of the Body - a teaching we both had grown to love and embrace as the foundation of our relationship. We held the ring in its box in both our hands. When it came time for Mass, we both headed toward the Church holding hands. We both knew what was soon about to happen. When got into the Church, we realized that there was no Mass being said at that time. We both were a little disheartened but instead spent time in Adoration at the Tabernacle in the chapel. It gave us both a chance to reflect. On our way back to the car, we ran into one of the priests. We asked him to kindly bless us and the ring. After finishing Christopher West's talk on Theology of the Body, we went out to the Stations of the Cross. There we found a bench in what remained of the grotto. We prayed the Stations of the Cross even though it was summer and Lent had long passed. Before we prayed, Kris read the reading from Proverbs on the ideal wife. I was amazed by the passage. I wondered if I ever could be such kind of wife. I wondered if I had what it took to be that kind of wife to Kris. The kind of wife I thought that he deserved. I prayed as he read the passage that I could be this kind of wife for him. I prayed that God would give me the strength and direction to be that wife. As we prayed the Stations, each prayer related somehow to marriage and the journey we were about to embark. It was as if God was giving me to answer and the tools needed to be that wife for Kris. After we finished praying the Stations, I sat on the rock under the cross. Kris knelt not on one knee but both knees and he used 3 verses from the passage he read to me to propose. He asked me if I would serve the poor with him. He asked me if I would laugh at the days to come with him. He asked me if I would be his good wife. I cried. He cried. Even now it makes me cry. He could not have said better words to me. He could not have planned the details better. I WAS surprised. The only answer I could give was a very emphatic yes. Yes I will be your good wife. After he proposed, we knelt before the cross and I asked the Lord Jesus to be the third person in this marriage. We asked him to be our spouse and be one with us. I know that on that day, May 29, 2009, he gave us his yes, too.

The ring with 3 diamonds
The rest of the day was a whirlwind. We had plans for lunch together to celebrate at the Ruby Tuesday where we met on Valentine's Day 2001. After lunch, we drove out to Ave Maria to buy something to help us remember the big day. We found a nice marriage blanket at one of the shops there. It has a picture of the Blessed Mother and her betrothed spouse St. Joseph. A good model for us as to what a true marriage should be.

Reenactment of the proposal
That evening we had dinner with old friends from Naples to not only celebrate birthdays but our engagement. It was a magical day for both us. One we will not forget.

So in retrospect, on that day I prayed to be that ideal wife for Kris. I prayed that I could have those qualities that he read to me from the book of Proverbs. I did not have the confidence to be that wife. But now looking back on that day, I realize that Kris did not read that passage to me so that I would have a model as to what kind of wife he wanted me to be but because he believed that I WAS already that kind of wife. He had found one worthy to be a wife. He had found his ideal wife. I am that worthy wife. I still struggle today (and I think I always will) to be that worthy wife. But I know that my husband believes that I already hold those qualities that make me a good wife. I am so blessed that my husband has the faith and confidence in me to be a good wife. I continue to pray that God gives me the strength to continue to be that good wife and the faith to know that I am.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vacation is fun until it is over

We are just getting back into our normal routine after Kris' 10 day vacation. We had so much planned originally but due to some reoccurring medical issues (That darn shoulder), we had to make a few changes to our plans. We had originally wanted to drive as far north until we could no longer see our breath or Canada. After a night in St. John's New Brunswick, we would have head back stateside and hit the whole New England area in just 8 days. Canada and six states in 10 days. It was going to be one heck of a trip. But we had to settle for three days in Savannah, Ga near the end of the whole vacation instead.
It was not a long drive from here to Savannah. It was just a mere 7 hours which is not bad when you think we drove about 12 hours to New Orleans last October. Most of the 7 hours was just getting out of Florida. Once we crossed the Florida-Georgia border it was only about 2 hours to Savannah. We actually survived the trip up in the car without killing each other. Thank God for the music on our cell phones and the CDs from Ryan and Afra. They kept us well entertained. It was already late afternoon when we arrived so we just set up camp (at the hotel) and rested. We had every flyer, map, and magazine necessary to plan our day in Georgia.We had only one full day in Savannah and we wanted to get in as much sightseeing as we could.

Kris looks at the map of historical Savannah and plans our day

Friday was our first and only full day in Savannah and we had lots planned. We had so much to do and only 24 hours to do it all. Kris being the very methodical vacation planner I knew we had much crammed into the day. The day at 6AM which is VERY early for both of us. Strange how when we are on vacation we always end up getting up much earlier than we normally do when we are not on vacation.

We had intentions of starting the day off with Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist but when we got there the doors were all locked. We headed back to our hotel room to enjoy the free breakfast. The day already seemed to get off on a not so great start. After breakfast we decided to head to Tybee Island and see the lighthouse. I am not too fond of heights but Kris seems to find tall places a pure delight. I could not deny him the enjoyment so we headed off on a 30 minute drive over to Tybee to see the tallest lighthouse in Georgia. I agreed that if we had to both pay admission to just see the lighthouse then I might as well climb however many steps to get to the very top. This always seems to be the case when we visit lighthouses or any other such tall building.

We started with a short drive around Tybee Island just to get a view of the beach. It was well past sunrise but the views were still just as breathtaking. We eventually made it to the lighthouse and I certainly was not looking forward to the climb. It was a 178 step climb to the very top of the lighthouse. I have no problems walking up the stairs to get there except for tired legs but once at the top I find looking over the ledge (especially down) very nerve wrecking. Kris seems to enjoy walking around the whole lighthouse and getting pictures of the view from above. After a while I eventually make it outside onto the ledge. I can look out and across but I can never seem to take a look down. The ledge at the Tybee Lighthouse seemed rather shaky at points and a bit more nerve wrecking than usual. I made it all the way around to see the view but after a very slow once around it was time to head down to the ground which is always more my level.

The Tybee Island Lighthouse
At the top of the Tybee Lighthouse
A sign of our accomplishment
Kris showing off his accomplishment

It was nice to spend sometime at Tybee checking out the scenery and the views from the top of the lighthouse. I am sure one of Kris' favorite parts of our whole vacation. Back in Savannah we finally made it to Mass at the Cathedral. But it did not seem like much of a Mass. It was hurried and quick. I guess it was more like a prayer service since no priests were available for Mass. It was still nice to go inside and see the beauty and splendor inside the Cathedral.

The inside of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah, Ga.

The rest of the day seemed to go by pretty fast. We got tickets to ride on the trolley and toured around the historical district of Savannah. It was so beautiful -- the old homes, the old buildings, and the history. It was a nice way to see all the sights without having to walk them. Our legs were still tired from the long climb to the top of the lighthouse.

After riding around on the tolley, we decided to have lunch at Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons restaurant. My sister had recommended we eat have the buffet there. We made it just in time to enjoy a lunch buffet. And it could not have been better timing. They were just getting ready to close to get ready for the dinner buffet. I am not sure either one of us could have made it until dinner time. The buffet was grand. There was fried chicken, baked chicken, fried fish, jumbalaya, pulled pork, collard greens, black eyed peas, green beans, etc, etc, etc. If it was classic Southern, it was there. So delicious. And the best sweet tea I have ever had with a hint mint. And it even included three desserts we could choose from - banna pudding, peach cobbler, and a gooey butter cake. I chose the banana pudding and Kris chose the butter cake. We had to take them to go.   We barely had room for a second plate at the buffet. We came home with a few nice souvenirs for family and ourselves from Paula Deen's gift shop next door. It was nearly 4:30 when we finished at Paula Deen's restaurant. We did not have much time to catch the trolley to where we parked the car so Kris decided that a walk in the dead of afternoon might help us to walk off some of the calories we put on at lunch. I am not sure it helped but we made it back to the car and hotel. We rested well (as well as you can being away from home) that night for sure.

Riding around historical Savannah on the trolley

On Saturday morning Kris decided to wake up at dawn to make a drive out to Tybee Island to see the sunrise. Living here on the west coast of Florida, we do not get to see many sunrises. Even though I though it was a wee bit early to wake up while on vacation, I decided to join my dear husband out on the beach at Tybee Island to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic. What an amazing sight it was to see!!! The sky was just clear enough to see the sun make its way over the horizon. The beautiful orange glow over the water was just breathtaking. It was so calm and peaceful despite the waves coming in from Hurricane Igor out over Bermuda. I could not imagine a better place to be than in the arms of my love as we watched the sunrise.

The (still) newlyweds after the sunrise on Tybee Island
Marriage not only looks good...
...but it feels great, too!
Shoes in the sand
The sunrise on Tybee Island. The End.

We are home from our vacation and we both are struggling a bit to get back into our marital routine at home. Kris has returned to his job at the newspaper and I am slowly getting back into the housework that needs to be done. Vacation sure was a lot of fun. But now it is time to get back to reality and the work that has to be done.

Make new friends but keep the old

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.

Friendships that have stood the test -
Time and change - are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray,
Friendship never knows decay.

For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply.

Cherish friendship in your breast -
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold. 

Poet: Joseph Parry

We have not had the chance to make new friends or catch up with old friends since we have been married. Since we had to make changes to our vacation plans, we were able to work in a day trip to Naples just to catch up with old friends.

Catching up with The Mastersons

The first set of old friends we were able to catch up with were David and Taryn Masterson. David also met Taryn through the Collier Catholic Singles group where Kris and I first met. When they were married in July 2005, David passed on the leadership of the group to me. They have 3 kids - Ryan, age 4, Brandon, age 3, and Mary Kate, age 9 months.

We had not seen them since May 29, 2009, the day we were engaged. They have been very influential throughout the course of our relationship. Both David and Taryn have been supportive and encouraging throughout our entire relationship. It was Taryn who kept at us both throughout our friendship. She was always there as our friend no matter where we were in our friendship. At any point if I told her that we were just friends, she would simply say "Okay but are you sure?" My reply was always the same, "Yes, we are sure. It will never work out." We went back and forth for several years and each time Taryn just nodded and said okay. All the while, she kept poking and prodding. Through the years, it was hard to ignore such poking and prodding. David jumped on the bandwagon after they were married and both them continued to support both us no matter where we were at in our relationship. They both were hopeful that God had a greater plan for us and they continued to pray. Taryn was one of the first persons I called when Kris and I resumed our on again/off again relationship. I told her we were certain that this time there would be no going back. As our re-new-ed relationship began to progress, I called them (I usually called to speak with Taryn but she was always busy with one of their 3 kids so I normally spoke with David) to update them on how fast we were progressing this time around. They both knew that this was going to happen many years before we knew it ourselves.

We are so grateful for their friendship and glad to have such a couple in our lives as a great example of true love, marriage, and devotion. We were glad to finally have caught up with them on our visit to Naples.

 David and Taryn and their 3 kids (Ryan, age 4, Mary Kate, age 9 months, and Brandon, age 3)
David and Taryn with Mary Kate and Brandon

Lunch with Ronald and a visit with the Josephs

After our meeting with The Mastersons we were able to have lunch with a our very dear friend Ronald. We met Ronald when he joined Collier Catholic Singles back in 2004. We became instant friends. I saw something very special in him and took him under my wing as a little brother. Despite his Trinidadian background, I knew that Ronald was my "brother" and we have remained close ever since.

We enjoyed a nice lunch buffet at Cici's Pizza. I enjoy going to Cici's with Ronald because you can get a nice inexpensive meal and the company is GREAT, too. I have watched Ronald grow and change through the years and it is always nice to be able to catch up with him. 

After lunch we were able to visit and spend a little time with Ronald's Mom and Dad (Jennifer and Ron). They both have recently been very influential in our relationship. They are both readily available for any kind of advice I need whether it is about faith or marriage. They have a lot to share on both. They are an incredible inspiration to both of us in our new marriage. I chose them to be one of our wedding sponsors and Jennifer just took it to a whole new level. She stayed in the bride's room and helped me get ready for the wedding and she even took charge of my camera during the entire wedding and reception. I had it with me but I was not sure how I was going to capture memories of the big day on my own. It was a hectic day from the start. As we were getting ready, she knew that I would not have a chance to take pictures so she took charge. Thanks to her I have pictures of our big day that even the photographer did not capture.

Jennifer and the bride before the wedding
Ron and Jennifer with the bride and groom
The Joseph Family (Jennifer, Ronald, Sr, Nadiya, and Ronald, Jr)

Meeting baby Michael Alberto for the first time and Jose and Lindsay Kukurelo (The other Mr & Mrs. K)

The last couple we were able to catch up with were Lindsay and Jose. Lindsay and Jose met on a blind date through Jose's friend Terri. Terri and Lindsay became friends through the Collier Catholic Singles group. I have had the privilege of not only watching but being a part of their growing relationship. Lindsay asked me to be her Confirmation sponsor during Easter Vigil in 2008 before they were married. They were married on October 11, 2008, and I was there to help with all the preparations leading up to the big day. I also read the first reading at their wedding (Genesis 2: 18-23) They recently had their first baby, Michael Alberto born on July 28.

I was not able to visit them on my last visit to Naples in July. Lindsay and Jose were in the hospital that evening preparing for the birth of their new bundle of joy, Michael Alberto. I was trying to make arrangements to meet up with them but Michael had an agenda of his own and was not to be interrupted. It had been more than a month since his birth and I was just eager to meet the newest member of the Kukurelo family.

We had an incredible visit with them. I even had a chance to hold him despite my tired and sore shoulder. I certainly was not going to leave there without holding him even if it was for just a moment. We spent much time cooing with him and making faces. I was not sure when I would get my chance to hold him. After a little bit of fussing, I finally got my chance to hold him. I was so warm. He was so small. It was very different after having held both the twins who are bigger than average 7 month olds. After some time in my arms, little baby Michael fell asleep and he even had a smile on his face. Holding him was like having a piece of heaven in my arms.

Jose, Lindsay, Me, and baby Michael (minus Kris)
Lindsay, Me, Kris, and baby Michael (Sorry Jose!)
Baby Michael and Titi Eileen
A very happy baby Michael

We were so glad to have caught up with all our old friends in Naples. There are still a few people that we are hoping to catch up with but this visit was definitely worth a trip south on I-75. It is one I hope we can do again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Romance is not dead

Gas for date night: $7, dinner for two: $23, Sunset on Siesta Beach: PRICELESS. 

I ♥ U!

Tonight for our five month anniversary Kris and I enjoyed a nice romantic date night. We had dinner at Applebee's and stuffed ourselves up to our eyeballs with Fiesta Lime Chicken and Provolone Stuffed Meatballs and Fettuccine. Then we drove down to Siesta Beach to watch the sunset. I was surprised to find out that in the 4 years Kris has been living here, he had never been to Siesta Beach. It was so beautiful. The sand was soft like powder. The water was warm. It was not too crowded. It was not too hot. We both even donned our swimwear which we have not done in nearly 10 years. 

It was such a nice relaxing evening with the love of my life. We enjoyed each others company and found sometime to just sit back and relax together. I think we need to do this more often. We live 30 minutes away from one of the most beautiful beaches. We really ought to take the opportunity to enjoy evening sunsets on the beach more often.

For a few hours, it was like no one else existed. It was just Kris and me. I did not even bring my phone and his did not ring the whole time we were out. It was nice to have a date night without any distractions or interruptions. It was a great way to celebrate this month's milestone.


Genesis 2: 23-25

In the first year of marriage there are many milestones. Couples celebrate the first time for everything. Some can say it is because the couple is in the "honeymoon stage" of their marriage. I would say that no matter how long you have been married (a few months or 40 years) you ought to celebrate EVERY milestone even if it is just another day or month of marital bliss.

Today Kris and I are celebrating five whole months of marital bliss. This last month has flown by so quickly just as the first few months of marriage did. I am not sure where the time has gone since we were married. I cannot even think of the things we accomplished in this last month of marriage. We have had our share of ups and downs in the last 5 months. We have had our share of joys and sorrows. I know I have learned a lot in just these few months of marriage. We have learned lessons that we will remember and carry throughout the remainder of our marriage.

I am so happy to have found my Adam to my Eve. I am happy to have found the one who was made for me. We have been united as one flesh and we could not be happier. Despite our ups and downs, we love deeply and know that there is no one else we would rather have beside us in those times of trouble.

Happy Five Month-aversary to my wonderful husband.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Memories of the big day

To the K Power
My favorite picture from the wedding
Another favorite from our wedding
The newlyweds
The blushing bride

Full of hope

Jeremiah 29:11

I have been told for some time by a close friend that I ought to start a marital blog to chronicle the lessons and experiences that we learn over the course in our marriage. She also suggested that I log (or blog even) the stories and God-incidences that eventually brought us to this point in our lives. She said those stories and memories would be lost if I did not record them. I knew she was right, but I certainly was not ready to start blogging about our marriage. The thought had crossed my mind several times but as a newlywed I did not think I had as much to share as other married couples who had been married for a much longer time. So I just kept putting it off although it was in the back of my mind the whole time. Perhaps it was not so much in the back of my mind but really in the forefront.

I think one of the biggest road blocks in starting our marital blog was a title or name for our blog. I wanted one that not only expressed who we were but told a story on its own. There is so much in a name or title. A name is how you identify or know someone. The name has to fit and has to catch your eye in order to get others to notice. As the idea for starting a marital blog lay in the back (or forefront even) of my mind, I began to try to think of a title for such blog. One did not come to me immediately so I just kept putting it off and telling myself eventually I would get around to starting a marital blog. In the meantime, I kept sharing and telling stories of our experience with friends and family so as to keep a record of what we had experienced.  

Last night after sharing our blessing (see first post) with a friend, I finally got the courage start our marital blog. I knew I wanted to share the joy of our family gathering and how God had provided enough food and room for everyone in our small yet adequate home. The one thing I kept thinking about was a title. I wanted to start our marital blog but I did not want it to go without a title. I already had our first post written having sent it out as an email to share with friends but I did not have a title yet. I could not start our blog without one.

I thought for a moment about my favorite Scripture passage - Jeremiah 29:11. This passage has meant so much to me since I heard it when I was part of Singles for Christ. This passage has become my mantra. It finds it way to me by no coincidence but always by God incidence. Someone will share it with me or I will find it or see it somewhere when I least expect it. I think of it often when I am struggling. I remind myself that God has something planned for me. Something greater than where I am at that moment. He has a future full of hope planned for me. I have found my hope in this passage.

And that is when the title of my blog came to me last night. A Marriage Full of Hope. I know that God had this marriage planned for us. Even though it took us a long time to get here, He had this planned for us from the very beginning. He made us for one another. In the nine years we waited, He made us both ready for marriage. At times we both felt ready, but it was never at the same time. We were not on the same page. Perhaps the same chapter but not on the same page. We have been close but still never on the same page. God did an amazing work on both of and over time we became closer and closer. Eventually, we both realized that this marriage was our future. This marriage is our future full of hope that God had planned for both of us. This was the future God had planned all along. This is what I was seeking when I thought of my favorite passage.

This marriage is our future. This marriage is our hope.

Our History Time Line

So just to give you a little background on Kris and I, I made this time line that briefly tells our story. I could not write our story as there much to tell in 9 years of history. This time line gives you just a brief look into our relationship and what soon became our marriage.

The History of Kris and Eileen Mae

February 14, 2001 (Valentine’s Day): Met at Ruby Tuesdays Naples, FL I was a member of a Catholic singles group and he was joining us for the first time. He had the messiest barbecue bacon cheeseburger. He had barbecue sauce dripping from both sides of his mouth and his hands. I WAS SO NOT ATTRACTED.

About a week or so later: Met again at a local karaoke bar. Did not realize it was the same guy but talked all night. I could barely hear him but we had a great conversation. When the bar closed, we went out for an early breakfast at Denny’s. After breakfast & arriving at our respective homes, we stayed up chatting online until about 3am or so.

We spent quite a bit of time hanging out and getting to know each other over the next few months. It helped that he worked late and I was a bit of an insomniac b/c when he would get home late at night, we would chat online until the wee hours. On the nights I was really sad and needed company, he would come over to my apt and sit and chat w/me.

A few months later: After Mass we were sitting in his apt chatting. I took the chance to lay close to him (with my head in his lap) and told him I was interested in taking this to the next level. If he felt the same then I would be waiting for him to give me the word. Five minutes later, he kissed me.

We dated for about a year and half after that (late 2001-early 2003) and due to some stress in our relationship, he decided to end things with me. I was VERY hurt. I was heart broken. But we continued to remain close & remain friends.

We both dated other people on & off and when we weren’t dating other people we always came back to one another.

June 2006: Kris had already been seeing another girl (Christine) for a short time and he had decided to take a job in Sarasota (with encouragement from Christine & myself) and moved to Bradenton a few months. The whole time in Bradenton while dating this other girl, he was still calling me and talking to me EVERY night. In late 2004 or early 2005, Kris and Christine broke up due to distance.

October 2006: I moved to Orlando. I decided after almost 7 years in Naples that I would venture to a new place and move to Orlando. Kris and I continued our friendship.

2006-2007: This was probably the only time that we were actually NOT together. We had decided that we were going to be JUST friends. We continued to talk online and on the phone but did not see much of each other in person. Perhaps once or twice a year or if I had the chance to stop by Bradenton on the way to Naples to visit my sister.

May 20, 2008: Worst birthday ever. After a talking with a mutual friend online (Fallon), I had revealed to her that I was very much still in love with Kris and had hopes that he too had felt the same. So after we finished talking, she had a conversation with Kris. She told him how I felt and asked if he had felt the same. His reply: Eh Not sure what that meant but knowing that it meant that I had no chance or hope with him I decided to cut him out of my life as much as possible.

June – late July 2008: Although I had decided to cut him out of my life, I still held on by a VERY thin string. I had removed him from my IM list but not my phone. He continued to call and IM me. I answered an occasional phone call and IM but kept things pretty brief.

August 2008: I had a very big spiritual awakening that had really begun November 2007. I had made a big realization that God was a major driving force in my life and it was okay to communicate with Kris again.

November 15, 2008: First CM Central Florida event. A few people on CM decided to start planning events for CM Central Florida members. I jumped in on the bandwagon. I invited Kris who had started seeing a new girl (Christina) Their relationship was new but seemed to have some potential. After this event, though, Kris and I continued talking more & more.

December 2008 – March 2009: Kris and I had continued to talk more & more. We even were flirting a little back and forth. We started to take notice of one another again. Things with Christina were not working out. I had seen a few other people in the meantime, none of which worked out for me either.

March 28, 2009: Rekindled our old romance. Kris had been inviting me to attend his Dad’s 70th birthday. I was rather hesitant because I was not sure what this had meant for our future and us. I did want to join him for his Dad’s birthday without knowing that there was not going to be a future. After everyone left and Kris & I had some time alone together, we both decided to give our relationship another try.

April – May 2009: Things really started to move along pretty quickly. We quickly fell in love again. We both began to realize that the other person had all the qualities that the other wanted in a spouse. We began to talk about the future. We began to express more & more how we were feeling and our intentions for the future.

May 16, 2009: I had planned a birthday party with friends & family. I had asked Mom & Dad to come so that Kris & I could tell them of our intentions. We told them that we were hoping to get married in Feb 2010. After much discussion, they were happy. We went to the mall to show them the ring I had looked at (by myself) the night before that was similar to the one we had seen on the Internet.

May 20, 2009: My BEST birthday ever. I had planned to meet Lalie & the kids for dinner for my birthday. We met at Hurricane Grill. I was not expecting Kris to be there. After a few minutes, Lalie mentioned she had left something in the car. When she came back, Kris was standing there. I was shocked. He mentioned that the jewelry store was open until 9pm. I was not ready for him to make the purchase but after dinner we went to the jewelry store and purchased the ring we had looked just a few days earlier.

May 24, 2009: We had a double date planned with another CM couple (Lisa & Victor who had been egging this on since February) But due to some unforeseen circumstances they had to cancel on us. Kris & I ended up spending the day together at Church, lunch, and then went to pick up the ring. It was fast and easy. We tried it on and made sure it fit. It fit nicely. We returned it to its box and both left smiling & grinning really big.

May 29, 2009: Proposal. Where: St Peter's Catholic Church in Naples, FL How: Proverbs 31: 10-31
Answer: YES!!!!!!

Wedding: April 10, 2010. Kris & Eileen Mae 04-10-10 (Engraved in my wedding band)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fishes & loaves

Matthew 14:13-21

God is so good. All the time.

Today we had a packed house. Kris and I wondered how we were going to get everyone to fit in our 1400 sq ft house. The last time we had a gathering at our home, we had 12 adults, 1 kid, and the twins and thought there was "just enough room" for everyone to fit comfortably. Today the plan was for 20 adults, 4 kids, and the twins. We barely had enough seats for everyone. We had one less adult and one less kid show up and had "just enough room" for everyone and more than enough food (with leftovers to take home for everyone and at least one container of food for us. probably about 5 containers total) It didn't look or feel too crowded. It was just enough and an awesome gathering. Everyone had a GREAT time and it started at 11am and ended right at 2pm just as we had planned with a few (my parents and cousin) chatting until 3pm. We got a lot of great compliments from everyone. Even though we stressed and worked until the last minute to get things cleaned and organized for the guests, it all worked out perfectly and without a hitch. I am always so amazed by the turnout (guests and overall)

The gathering was for not just his family or just my family but for a mix of both our families. Having just recently been married, our families have not had a chance to really get together. Today was such a nice mix and everyone got along just great. Everyone was talking, laughing, and sharing. The kids enjoyed each other and played well together. Considering the rocky road Kris and I experienced early in our relationship, this is a very pleasant surprise. My Mom has always been concerned about the blending our our two families if we should ever get married or if we continue to stay together. Our families have blended so well that my in-laws enjoy my parent's company as much as they do ours (my husband and myself) This has been a welcomed change since our first meeting that I dare to think that that the hearts of all have changed since the beginning of our relationship.

I have been making an extra effort to eliminate the words luck and coincidence from my vocabulary. I am starting to believe that nothing happens by luck or by coincidence. Luck is not luck but a blessing and gift from God. Coincidence is not coincidence but a God-incidence. I know that sometimes I say "I just can't do this alone" but really what I am saying is "Lord, I can't do this alone. So I will do what I can and You do the rest."

Our God is so good that even when we think we are lacking or inadequate, He makes everything perfect according to His plan. It is so true that God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called.