Ave Maria Living Magazine | Issue #3 | Nov. 2016

avemarialiving.com

Ave Mar i a

LIVING

Graduate Story:

Roman Samuels

- Page 7

T h e Sol or z an os - Fr om N ew Yor k T o

Issue # 3 | Novem ber , 2016

A v e M a r i a !

A Stella M ar is of FL Publication

- Page 12


Stella Maris of FL

CONTENT

avemarialiving@outlook.com

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Meli and Matt Neubek

617-519-7423

www.neubek.com

WEB PRESENCE

Robb Klucik

239-898-4052

avemarialiving@gmail.com

avemarialiving.com

Fr om the Pu bl i sher s

We hope you enjoyed the October issue of Ave Maria Living. This

November issue is a fun one. Our featured Ave graduate, Roman

Samuels, is a vibrant and driven young man looking to leave his mark

on the world and our featured family, the Solorzanos, are a

fun-loving and energetic family with a brand new bundle of joy -

baby Kilian! We'd like to thank them for sharing their stories.

We'd also like to thank our awesome photography team, Meli and Matt

Neubek, and our new writers, Sarah Blanchard and Lauren

Solorzano. They have been instrumental in putting together this

publication.

Finally, we would like to thank all of our local business sponsors. This

publication would not be possible without their support! If you would

like to see your business in this publication give us a call or send us

a message.

Have a Happy

Thanksgiving!

FEEDBACK/IDEAS/SUBMISSIONS

We are always happy to hear

from you! Please email

avemarialiving@outlook.com with

your feedback, ideas, or

submissions. Please note, that all

content must be submitted by the

15th of the previous month.

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS

Emergency..................................911

Sheriff's Office...........239-252-9300

Water Park.................239-348-8384

LCEC............................800-599-2356

AMUC..........................239-348-0248

Quasi Parish...............239-261-5555

Publix..........................239-304-3269

Immokalee Library.....239-657-2882

Donahue Academy....239-280-2450

Ave Maria

Montessori.................239-261-2272

Ave Maria

International..............239-692-8919

All cont ent is ow ned by St ella

Maris of FL, Inc., Copyright 2016.

?Ave Maria Living? is a t radem ark

of AveMariaLiving.com and is

used by perm ission.

Hi!

Fr om the Photogr aphy Team

We?re Meli and Matt. We?ve been shooting together

since 2015. Meli has been in the business since 2011

? started in Boston (Go Patriots!) and has been in

Naples since 2012. Matt grew up in Naples since 1985,

has been a self-taught photo hobbyist since 2005,

and got his professional start in 2015 shortly after

he and Meli got married.

We are storytellers and artists and get excited

about being creative with our craft. While our goal

is always to create art, we never fail to

memorialize the day and tell your story. All the

while, having fun.

Capturing moments that make people go, ?woah!?

makes us genuinely happy. Happy is good. Happy is

even better when it?s shared.

You can check out more of our work and get in

touch with us by going to www.neubek.com.

We?d love to meet you,

Meli(ssa) & Matt(hew)

2


Business Bio

AV E CROSSFI T

It is said

that we

can?t truly

begin to

understand

where we

are going

until we know where we have been.

Let me take a moment to introduce

myself. My name is Wilson Ospina,

co-founder of Ave CrossFit.

From a very young age I devoted my

life to helping others. No other choice

I?ve made thus far has more

conclusively demonstrated this than

joining the United States Navy. As a

Fleet Marine Force Hospital

Corpsman, my sole purpose, mission

and objective was to care for and, if

necessary, rip marines, sailors,

soldiers, airmen and civilians from

the grips of death on the front line.

Finding CrossFit

I?ve carried CrossFit in my heart ever

since I first came across it in 2008.

After I left the Service in 2011, I finally

had a chance to visit my first real

CrossFit Box in Naples, FL. I chose

CrossFit Blaze. My mind was blown

away. The sense of camaraderie, the

tangible passion of everyone there,

the shared anguish all in an effort to

truly pursue fitness. It wasn?t just

about bigger pecs or traps or quads

or how thick the biceps were. It

wasn't about the scale or the number

reflected or the size of your waist or

how skinny or good you looked in

the mirror. This was different. This

was about really developing, growing

strong and finding your true

potential. Creating a better version of

yourself with a focus on longevity

and pushing back disease.

Crossroads

Shortly after my wife and I relocated

and started to attend CrossFit

Redline, where I met some of the

most gracious and wonderful

individuals (I only wish I could have

been there longer), I was confronted

with VA doctor's opinions regarding

my physical health. I decided to

comply and heed their recommendations

to change my fitness habits to

better suit their findings. It was

difficult for me to believe that at 30,

my body would be incapable of

heavier exercise. This never really

sat well me. I found that my health

began to deteriorate. I gained large

amounts of weight and my

cholesterol went through the roof. I

had never felt so miserable about

myself. But at least my knees and my

back were staying healthy, right?

How Far We?ve Come

A little over a year ago today, we

arrived in Ave Maria. My wife and I

were searching for a home and fell

in love with the community from the

moment we arrived. I was thrilled

with the idea of having my own

garage. Truth be told, I barely knew

what I was going to do with it.

Initially my goal was to get "a few

things? for myself to play with. A bar,

some plates and a rower later, I

began my journey back to CrossFit.

My neighbor joined me for workouts.

One neighbor turned into two. Then

four. Then 8. Fast forward 10 months

and we are holding 3 to 4 classes a

day ranging from just a few to about

18 motivated neighbors at a time, all

from my two car garage. It has been

truly amazing but it seems as though

we have outgrown our little space.

What began as a simple idea in a

garage, a love for fitness and a

distaste for a sedentary lifestyle has

blossomed into a state of desire for

constant improvement. We are driven

by the betterment and the

improvement of others. Today our

battle is different. Our fight is against

complacency. Against chronic

diseases. Against inaction. I view my

role and the roles of our team with

the same passion, drive and

importance as when I served on the

front line. Our mission today is to

live healthy, invigorated and plentiful

lives and to share this philosophy

with as many people as we can. Now

it?s time to begin our next adventure.

Now we want to share this with

absolutely everyone. Stand by. This is

just the beginning.

Who We Are

Our CrossFit Gym in Ave is a family.

We are unique and diverse, but

3

all-inclusive. This is a place where

everybody knows your name. We

believe in having fun. Exercise needs

to be different every day and present

new and fun challenges. We believe

this creates a true sense of accomplishment

and confidence. We believe

in mastering the basics. We believe

that building a foundation of

knowledge and proper movement is

a cornerstone of improvement. We

believe in always being a student of

both life and of CrossFit. You can?t

progress forward if you think you?re

done learning. We are here to learn

from CrossFit and each one of our

members, day after day.


What We Do

It?s plain and simple: we make people

healthier and more fit. And we do this by

utilizing the best from many programs like

gymnastics, weightlifting, endurance

training, calisthenics and more. We train

functional movement, meaning we utilize

movements that the body is intended to do.

The CrossFit program is designed to

improve ten general physical skills:

cardio-respiratory endurance, stamina,

strength, flexibility, power, speed,

coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

The result is well rounded physical fitness

and restored vitality.

Who We Train

Everyone! It doesn?t matter if you begin

CrossFit as a couch potato, a yogi, or a

marathon runner- you will gain incredible

results by committing to our program.

CrossFit is for you if you:

- Are sick of the regular gym atmosphere

- Are tired of not seeing any results

- Want to finally get in shape without doing

it alone

- Have lost interest in your normal gym

routine

- Want to improve in your sport

- Want to feel, look and be your best

possible YOU

- Be a part of an incredible community of

like-minded individuals

For more information, Follow us @

https://www.facebook.com/AVEXFIT/


~ Residential mortgages for home purchases

~ Construction loans ~ Lot loans

~ Refinancing your existing mortgage can be a sound financial

decision. Benefits may include: lowering your interest rate, lowering

your monthly payment, removing mortgage insurance, or

consolidating debt.

~ And more

NMLS# 903827

Mark Fein - Mortgage Loan Originator 239-784-7236 Mark.Fein@53.com

C O M M U N I T Y

SUBMI SSI ONS:

Book Fair! Ignatius Press.

Sat . No vember 12, 3pm-8pm

&

A T H A N K SGI V I N G D AY

P R AY E R

Sun. No vember 13, 9am-4pm

@ Ave Maria Quasi Parish Hall

Chr ist mas Tr ee

Light ing

and M ovie Night.

December 16

More Info to Come

TENNIS ROUND ROBIN

FEBRUARY

MORE INFO TO C OME

513

We t hank you, Fat her, for t he gift of

Jesus your Son w ho came t o our

eart h and lived in a simple home. We

have a great er appreciat ion of t he

value and dignit y of t he human

family because he loved and w as

loved w it hin it s shelt er. Bless us

t his day; may w e grow in love for

each ot her in our family and so give

t hanks t o you w ho are t he maker of

all human families and our abiding

peace.

Am en

~Msgr. Michael Buckley


Legal Corner

By: Robb Klucik

WHAT IS A WILL?

Often people

ask me to

explain the

basic elements

of a Last Will

and Testament,

so here I

will share

some information

compiled

by the

Florida Bar:

A will is a written direction

controlling the disposition of

property at death. The laws of

each state set the formal

requirements for a legal will. In

Florida:

- You, the maker of the will

(called the testator), must be at

least 18 years old.

- You must be of sound mind at

the time you sign your will.

- Your will must be written.

- Your will must be witnessed and

notarized in the special manner

provided by law for wills.

- It is necessary to follow exactly

the formalities required by

Florida law for the execution of a

will.

- To be effective, your will must

be proved valid in and allowed by

the probate court.

No will becomes final until the

death of the testator, and it may

be changed or added to by the

testator by drawing a new will or

by a "codicil," which is simply a

separately written addition or

amendment executed with the

same formalities as a will. A will's

terms cannot be changed by

writing something in or crossing

something out after the will is

executed. In fact, writing on the

will after its execution may

invalidate part of the will or all of

it.

WHAT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED BY

A WILL?

- You decide who gets your

property instead of the law

making the choice for you.

- You may name the personal

representative (executor) of your

will as you choose, provided the

one named can qualify under

Florida law. A personal

representative is one who

manages an estate, and it may be

either an individual or a bank or

trust company, subject to certain

limitations.

- A trust may be created in your

will whereby the estate or a

portion of the estate will be kept

intact with income distributed to

or accumulated for the benefit of

members of the family or others.

Minors can be cared for without

the expense of proceedings for

guardianship of property.

- Real estate and other assets

may be sold without court

proceedings, if your will

adequately authorizes it.

- You may make gifts, effective at

or after your death, to charity.

- You decide who bears any tax

burden, rather than the law

making that decision.

- A guardian may be named for

minor children.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERE IS

NO WILL?

If you die without a will (this is

called dying "intestate"), your

property will be distributed to

your heirs according to a formula

fixed by law. Your property does

not go to the state of Florida

unless there are absolutely no

heirs at law, which is very

unlikely. In other words, if you

fail to make a will, the

inheritance statute determines

who gets your property. The

inheritance statute contains a

rigid formula and makes no

exception for those in unusual

need. When there is no will, the

court appoints a personal

representative, known or

unknown to you, to manage your

estate. The cost of probating may

be greater than if you had

planned your estate with a will,

and the administration of your

estate may be subject to greater

court supervision.

Attorney Robb Klucik has been

practicing law in Ave Maria,

Florida, since 2009.

6


WHAT THEY'RE DOING TO M AKE THE WORLD M ORE BEAUTIFUL:

ROM AN SAM UELS

"THAT'SALLVERYWELL, BUTTHEREISATHIRDTHINGYOUMUSTDO. YOUMUSTDOSOMETHINGTOMAKE

THEWORLDMOREBEAUTIFUL."

- COONEY,BARBARA. (1982). MISS RUMPHIUS. LONDON: VIKING PRESS.

Wr i tten By : Laur en Sol or zano

?People don?t get it, until they see

you do it.?

Roman Samuels was once known as

?the suit guy? at Ave Maria

University, and as he looks forward

to his next journey, he?s hoping to

leave the suit and tie behind.

A graduate from the class of 2013,

the way Roman ended up at Ave

Maria University is not much

different than many people?s story;

his parents urged him to go to

college. As an eighteen year old his

vision for his future involved music,

and dreams of becoming a rock

star. He was already the

singer/songwriter for his band in

Denver, CO and was not exactly

dedicated to school. Getting a late

start in the application process,

Roman applied to mostly state

schools with the exception of Ave

Maria University. His father had

gone to a talk by Tom Monaghan

and, feeling inspired, encouraged

Roman to give it a shot.

When talking about Ave Maria and

his visit here in July of 2009, Roman

states ?it just felt...peaceful. I could

see myself here.? Admitting he

found the place a bit bizarre at first,

Ave Maria University gave him a

feeling of being cared for or

wanted. On phone calls with

admissions staff they referred to

him by name and asked about the

recent shows he performed with his

band. Compared to the state schools,

where he was asked his student

number and phone calls were brief

and impersonal. Roman chose to

journey to Florida and leave

Colorado behind. His high school

band dissipated with a little

resentment and Roman began his

college career in 2009.

In 2009 the University was going

through the accreditation process,

7


which meant they had to freeze

their curriculum. The majors

offered at the time were very

limited, so with music in mind

Roman chose the closest thing

he could think of...economics.

He laughs as he explains his

thought process; the music

offered was sacred music so he

wanted more of a business

route. There was no business

offered at the time, so

economics seemed like the next

best thing. His initial plan was

to stay at the University for six

months and then transfer to a

school with more options that

better suited his interests. Then

he took his first economics

class in his second semester

and he was hooked.

As a high school student Roman

didn?t care much for school, but

by the end of his first year of

college he found himself

thriving and even loving the

things he was learning about.

He started to think about his

future differently, learning

about stocks, investing,

analyzing companies...in his

words he was ?bitten by the

bug.? After mastering the

juggling of classes, homework,

papers and a social life Roman

remained at the university that

summer to add another

challenge to his plate, a job. A

job as a student worker in the

library quickly changed to

working in the office of Tom

Monaghan on the third floor.

As a student worker Roman did

not need to wear a suit, but

Tom Monaghan quickly got to

know Roman and put him in

charge of a project referred to

as the ?zig zag wall? (a wall of

chapels that would lead up to

the Oratory representing every

rite in the Catholic Church -

with the Oratory representing

the Roman rite. It would be an

outward symbol to show how

universal and multicultural the

Church is - unfortunately the

project hasn?t made it to

production? yet). As a

sophomore in college Roman

purchased his first suit, he

began working from 7 am to 7

pm, meeting with people to

head up this vision Tom had

entrusted to him. Breaking for

classes in between work and

doing homework in the

evening, Roman rose to the

challenge that work and school

brought him. His time working

on the project was limited to a

year, but his future as ?the suit

guy? had just begun.

After the department he worked

in was dissipated due to budget

cuts, Roman looked for work

elsewhere and he didn?t need to

look far. With a recommendation

from Tom Monaghan,

Roman began working for

Schwartz Investment Council,

also known as Ave Maria

Mutual Funds. He began to

enjoy putting on a nice suit and

tie each day, blissfully unaware

of the presence and attention

he had gained from his

business attire.

After graduating in June 2013

with a double major in

economics and business,

Roman was offered a full time

position at Ave Maria Mutual

funds which he gladly accepted.

Appreciative to have full time

employment and not have to

look for work when so many of

his classmates were not finding

jobs, Roman embraced work

and took advantage of all the

time free from homework and

the benefits of a paycheck. He

says ?that?s when music came

back.? Writing and playing in

his free time, his life became

finance by day, music by night.

He used his money to self fund,

self produce his first full band

album which was released on

iTunes May 1, 2014.

After two years of working full

"It just felt...

peaceful. I

could see

myself here."

-Roman Samuels,

class of 2013, of his

decision to come to

Ave Maria University.

time for AMMF and playing

some local venues, Roman

became torn between his

passions. He loved both his

finance life and music but could

not find the joy he got from

playing in front of an audience

at his desk job. In July 2016,

Roman decided to take a

?sabbatical? from work to figure

out what to do. He returned

home to Denver for a month to

spend time with family and

come up with a plan. It became

crystal clear: if there was a

time for Roman to pursue

music it would be now as a

twenty-five-year-old single guy.

In August 2016 Roman left Ave

Maria Mutual Funds, which he

cannot speak more highly of.

His appreciation of the

8


opportunities they gave him are

clear and you can tell the

decision to leave was a hard

one.

So what is Roman doing now?

His time in Ave Maria is coming

to a close as he plans to

relocate back home to Denver,

CO in January. He is using his

experience to come up with a

business plan for how he will

pursue his music career, with

clearly laid out goals,

developing his brand and

finding the market that will

help him grow. He reflects back

on something Tom Monaghan

had told him during his days

working on the zig zag wall

project, ?People don?t get it, until

they see you do it.? It?s a phrase

he can relate to now, because

his dream just doesn?t seem to

make sense to some people. He?s

hoping to make it, and show

people rather than just tell

them.

Reflecting on his college

experience and the timing of

events, Roman is glad he didn?t

just hop on a tour bus with

some band when he was

eighteen. He says college gave

him ?a realization that he had

more skills than just music.?

With a college degree and a

growing resume, Roman is

confident that he can fulfill his

dreams and that this might not

have been the order of events

he would have chosen, but that

the timing is perfect. You can

keep up with Roman on his

journey at

romansamuelsmusic.com

and/or sign up for his weekly

newsletter. He plans on

potentially having a last

performance in the coming

month or two to say good bye

to the place he has called home

for the last seven years.

Thank you Roman for sharing

your gifts and passion for

music to make our world a

more beautiful place!

***"The diversity of rites in the Catholic

Church manifests its universality. Most

Catholics worship according to the Roman

rite, but there are millions who worship

according to different rites. The more we

appreciate their worship the more we can

appreciate our own." Our Sunday Visitor.

By: Emily Stimpson***

9


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What Makes Specialty Coffee Special?

In the quest

for the

perfect cup

of coffee, we

must start at

the source,

the cherry. Coffee trees produce

berries called "coffee cherries."

Inside each cherry are two green

coffee beans.

When the cherries are ripe, they

turn a bright red color. Ripe

cherries make for the best tasting

beans. But, in many cases, coffee

plantation workers will pick

cherries that are not yet ripe or

over-ripened because it is much

easier to strip each branch of the

berries than picking and choosing

the ripe ones.

Generally, coffee berry pickers

are paid by weight of their

harvest and are, therefore, not as

concerned about the quality of

the cherries they pick.

Coffee farms that produce

specialty grade coffee are

operated a bit differently.

Typically, the workers are paid a

By: Guadalupe Roastery

higher wage and are focused on

the quality of their harvest. rather

than the quantity. Specialty

coffees are usually produced in

ideal climates and on smaller

farms.

To promote and regulate the

industry, growers, exporters,

roasters, retailers, and equipment

suppliers have established trade

associations.

The standard for green coffee

bean classification provided by

the Specialty Coffee Association of

America is:

Specialty Grade Coffee - must

have no more than 5 total defects

with none of them being primary

defects. Must possess at least one

distinctive attribute in the body.

flavor, aroma, or acidity.

Premium Grade Coffee - must

have no more than 8 total defects

and primary defects are allowed.

Exchange Grade Coffee - must

have no more than 9-23 defects.

Below Standard Grade Coffee -

24-86 defects.

Off Grade Coffee - more than 86

defects.

Roasters who pay a premium for

specialty grade green coffee

beans generally take special care

to roast each batch to bring out

the coffee's best attributes.

When it comes to the preparation

of the coffee, there are a wide

variety of options. Many specialty

coffeehouses prefer the pour

over, but it is much more time

consuming than a typical brew.

While the roasting and

preparation are important, it is

the superior quality of the

specialty grade coffee bean itself

that produces a more vibrant cup

of coffee and a more enjoyable

coffee drinking experience.


The Solor zanos - Fr om New Yor k to Ave M ar ia! By : Sar ah Bl anchar d

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Everyone loves a good love story, especially one

that takes place in Ave Maria.

What are the chances that two kids from New York

would only come to find each other? and love? in a

little town in Southwest Florida?

Mike and Lauren?s families lived just a few hundred

miles from each other. Lauren grew up on Long

Island, while Mike?s family moved to Rochester when

he was eight. (Before that, he lived in the Bay area

of California? and Mike still considers himself a

Californian at heart.) When Lauren was looking at

colleges, she had one priority: to get out of New

York. Florida, the land of alligators, skunk ape

sightings, and 80-degree Christmases, was about as

different a place as she could imagine. She fell in

love with the University of Florida?s campus when

she went to visit, and decided to spend the next four

years in Gainesville, earning her B.A. in English.

Mike, too, was in search of balmier weather when

12

he began looking at colleges, but he was also looking

for an education in the Catholic liberal arts. His first

choice was to return to California via attending

Thomas Aquinas College, but when he was

wait-listed, he decided to look around at other

options. He jokes that he ended up at Ave Maria

University because TAC didn?t want him. Luckily for

Lauren, Mike didn?t realize at the time that his high

ranking on the wait-list for TAC basically

guaranteed he would have made it into the

incoming class that year. He put TAC behind him

and decided to go to AMU.

So there they were: Mike was starting his B.A. in

Literature at Ave Maria University, and Lauren was

three hundred miles away, studying English up in

Gainesville. They had both traveled the distance of

1,000 miles from New York to Florida while

succeeding in maintaining the few hundred miles

that separated them.

Continued on page 14


17

-Quote Author


But Mike and Lauren were clearly

meant to be together. Anyone who

knows them can see how well they

balance each other, how they share

similar interests, how they make

each other? and everyone around

them? laugh and share their joy.

Events seemed to be working to

bring these two together when

Mike?s roommate freshman year

began dating a girl who had been

friends with Lauren since high

school. And yet, it took two more

years for Mike and Lauren finally

to meet. But once they did, things

started moving quickly.

Over Halloween weekend in 2010,

Mike tagged along with his

roommate and his roommate?s

girlfriend on a trip to visit Lauren

up in Gainesville. They went tubing.

On November 9, Lauren?s 21st

birthday, they had their first

?unofficial? date. Lauren and her

friends stopped by the Pub in Ave

Maria before heading down to Key

Largo for the weekend. Mike joined

them there. ?We really clicked that

night,? he says. The next day,

Lauren and her friends took off for

the Keys, but according to Mike,

Lauren?s mind was in Ave that

weekend. ?You pathetically called

me the whole time!? he teases her.

Lauren can take it, but she can also

dish it. She reminds him of the first

time he told her that he loved her.

?We weren?t even dating!? she says.

It was December 17, a month since

that night at the pub, and hardly

two months since Mike and Lauren

first met. At 11a.m. on the morning

of Lauren?s last day at the

University of Florida, her phone

rang. It was Mike, and he was

telling her how much he loved her.

This event is now a little bit of a

debate between them. Mike had

finished his final exams the night

before, and when he called Lauren,

he had been up the whole night

celebrating with his friends. He

insists his profession was sincere,

but Lauren is skeptical, considering

circumstances, how much he could

have meant it. Either way, it hardly

matters. They began dating

officially two weeks later. Mike and

Lauren laugh and shrug about that

phone call, chalking it up to ?life

before marriage.?

Lauren graduated the next day and

moved in with her mom, who had

come down to Naples in 2009. Mike

still had another year left of school.

?I was on a 4.5-year plan,? he

14

laughs. ?If I had my way, I would?ve

stayed five.? Lauren cuts in, ?No

you wouldn?t!? And Mike

immediately agrees: ?You?re right. I

wanted to get married.?

Mike and Lauren dated throughout

that year. Lauren began working a

few odd jobs, first at a daycare,

then assisting students in SAT

preparation, and finally as an aid

at various schools, including

Immokalee High School. It was

through her time at Immokalee

High School that she was offered a

full-time job at the Eden Park

Elementary School for the following

year.

On December 17, 2011, Mike

graduated from Ave Maria

University. He moved back to

Rochester and started looking for

work? particularly work that could

support a family. Lauren was on

his mind, and he was making plans

for a proposal.

That Spring, Lauren traveled up to

visit Mike in Rochester for Easter.

The way Lauren tells it, the week

was a crazy one? ending in near

disaster. ?Mike?s brother was

getting his tonsils out, so we were

in and out of the hospital; and then


it was Holy Week, so we were going to Mass all the

time. And then we got into a fight. I said something

aggravating to him, and Mike said: ?You?re going to

eat those words.?For some reason, I thought he

meant he was going to give me a swirly.?

At this point in the story, Mike and Lauren break out

laughing. ?How did you get that idea?? Mike

wonders. Lauren says, ?I don?t know. I thought you

meant it literally? that I was going to have to eat my

words.?

Mike takes over telling the story. ?No, what I meant

is that I was planning to propose.? Mike had ordered

the engagement ring and it was late arriving. ?The

reason why the ring got here late was because

Lauren had told me she had really fat fingers.? The

idea that Lauren has fat fingers borders on the

preposterous, but Mike took her comment seriously.

He contacted the ring dealer and requested it be

sized up for ?fat fingers.? The extra time to get the

ring sized caused it to come late in the mail. He was

anxiously waiting for the ring to arrive when

Lauren showed up at his house? a day before

expected. ?I was trying to surprise him,? Lauren

breaks in. ?There?s photographic proof of this,? Mike

goes on, ?that when she surprised me, she literally

jumped out of a trunk. And you can see it on my

face: ?Oh son of a gun. I?m not ready for you. I don?t

15

have my surprise ready yet.?

When the ring finally arrived, of course all of Mike?s

family wanted to get a look at it. That?s what got

Mike and Lauren started on their fight. ?I had Nosy

Nelly over here,? Mike gestures to Lauren sitting

across their dining room table, ?nagging me about it.

And that?s when I said she was going to eat her

words. I was thinking, ?You?re going to be so

surprised, you dummy!? They?re both laughing again.

A few days later, after Easter, they took a drive up to

Niagara Falls, where Mike gave Lauren a swirly? just

kidding! He proposed. The ring was sized up so

large, Mike explains, that Lauren had to put a whole

pack of Band-Aids on her finger to keep it from

flying off into the Falls.

By summer, Mike was still looking for work and they

were holding off on setting a wedding date until he

found a full-time job. Since nothing was working out

in Rochester, he moved down to Florida to at least

be near Lauren. He started working an overnight

security shift for Moraya Bay (a high rise condo

near Wigins Pass Beach), and volunteering for

Habitat for Humanity in Immokalee. Lauren was

teaching fifth grade at Eden Park Elementary School.

That December, they decided to go ahead and get

married. ?I had a full-time job,? Lauren says, ?so we


could at least pay for our

wedding, and maybe life after.?

They set the wedding date for

July 27, 2013, at St. Williams

Catholic Church in Naples.

Two days before their wedding,

Mike was offered a full-time job

with Habitat for Humanity as

Director of Construction for

Immokalee. As Director, he

oversees anything having to do

with construction, from

infrastructure to the top of the

-Quote Author

roof, from pulling permits to

dealing with venders. Lauren

calls the timing of job offer

perfect. ?We got to go on our

honeymoon, and then go right to

work the next day!? Few would be

so excited about work when

there is a wedding to think about,

but for a young couple eager to

start a life and family together,

income is an important

consideration.

A blonde-haired little girl

wanders over to the table. ?She?s

a honeymoon baby,? Mike says, as

he picks up their two-year-old

daughter Kolbe. Lauren is still

sitting at the table, cradling their

newborn son, Kilian, in her arms.

She is glowing? and it?s not from

the sun setting behind her. There

is a gentle love and a strong

security that can be sensed in

every aspect of their home.

The Solorzano?s house, which

they purchased in July 2014, is on

a canal in Emerson Park. Their

dinning room looks out on the

water, with the tangled Florida

wilderness stretching beyond.

They live in a three-bedroom

single-story home. It?s one of the

original models, but one would

hardly recognize it for all the

work that Mike and Lauren have

put into the home. On the outside,

they recently painted contrasting

colors that draw out the

architectural details of the house.

A set of bright orange adirondack

chairs speaks of the fun and

friendly lives within. Inside, Mike

and Lauren have put down

engineered bamboo flooring.

They?ve renovated the bathrooms,

painted cabinets and doors in

cheery colors, and even installed

a custom-built breakfast nook. (It

certainly helps that Mike is in the

construction business.)

Mike says they?re a fan of the

?tiny home? lifestyle. ?I want to

try to be practical with space.?

They go back and forth, sharing

some more of their plans to

install more custom shelving and

storage, maximizing their space.

Lauren adds: ?We figure this will

some day be our tiny home,

depending on how many kids we

have.?

?We love Emerson Park, now that

we live here,? Lauren says. They

came to the neighborhood

?accidentally,? simply buying a

home that suited their needs.

Mike wouldn?t prefer to live

anywhere else in Ave Maria. He

loves the community, and to see

all of the kids growing up around

them. Lauren loves the layout of

the neighborhood. ?I like how it

feels like we?re close to everyone,

and how the people around the

corner still feel like immediate

?I like how it feels

like w e?re close to

everyone, and

how the people

around the corner

still feel like

immediate

neighbors.?

- Lauren Solorzano

neighbors.? Now that the

Solorzanos are in Emerson Park,

Lauren says: ?We would choose it

again, every time.?

One can?t help but think that Mike

and Lauren know a good thing

when they see it. For all their

jokes and teasing, they are clear

about what is important in

life? growing in their love for

each other, making a welcoming

home for their children out of

this love, and choosing a place to

live, like Ave Maria, where their

love and their family can thrive.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

17


Stella Maris of FL

Ave Maria, FL 34142

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Hail Mary Full of Grace Luke 1:28

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