Welcome to Our Humble A-Bloge! 

The Sword and the Stein is a means for us to discuss anything and everything that God has so graciously blessed us with — be it heavenly or worldly — especially our faith, our child, our hobbies and our home.

The Ryan and Shannon Story

Yes, he is wearing authentic leather lederhosen. 

The first time Shannon laid eyes on Ryan, he was pretending to be a gargoyle. Ryan had recently been voted out of his four-person dorm room. Paul, one his former roommates, had a a little more patience for Ryan's antics than the other two ex-roommates at the time (who would later be friends of Ryan's). Paul also happened to be childhood friends with Shannon. One evening, Paul invited Ryan to tag along with Shannon, her roommate Amy and Paul to go see a movie off campus. When Shannon and Amy approached the meeting place, they found Ryan and Paul posing as gargoyles on the front stoop of the music department building. They all laughed and had a fun evening. Shannon made certain to mention her boyfriend about a gazillion times, and she was hoping that Ryan and Amy would hit it off. They didn't.

Ryan and Shannon's first picture together, taken the night of their first meeting.
Those are Arby's straw-wrapper people. 

Little did Shannon and Amy know that Ryan possessed the ability to be more annoying that most humans can achieve (thus the getting-voted-out-of-the-dorm-room thing). They soon learned this fact, as well as learning to avoid Ryan like the plague. 

This is Shannon's punk stage, and Ryan's hipster-before-it-was-cool stage. And that's all there is to say about that.

Fast-forward about a year. Shannon had dinner plans with Paul, and she was to meet him at the music department building. As she sat, Ryan approached. "Oh, geeeeze," she thought. "Not HIM." Ryan sat down next to her and said a simple, "Hey." They didn't talk long before they realized Paul had double-booked his dinner dates. OF COURSE. Ryan was supposed to eat with Paul too. They wait. And waited. Finally, Paul ran up to them and said, "Guys, I totally forgot I have a lesson, and I'm running late. Sorry!" So Shannon and Ryan sighed, looked at each other, and decided to go to dinner. 

The best man (oops — spoiler!) Paul and Ryan.

And it wasn't that bad. Conversation was plentiful, and even enjoyable at times. So they decided to take a walk after dinner. And they walked until 2 a.m. For the next two weeks, they ate dinner together and walked until late at night. Shannon realized that, like fine wine or modern art, Ryan was an acquired taste that she now realized she had acquired. They started to secretly hold hands. All their friends knew they didn't get along, so they decided to test the waters a bit. Shannon invited Ryan, Paul and Amy to go see "Jake's Women." When Amy saw Shannon and Ryan holding hands, her eyes bugged out of her head, and Shannon shrugged. 

Shannon, Ryan and Amy before a choral concert.

So, Amy became their personal photographer for a time.

Courtship. Man, they had a lot of hair.
Engagement and marriage.

These days, they aren't often photographed together, so they're training the little guy to take the pictures.

St. Patrick's Day, 2012, by Cruncher (then 4-years-old). Not too shabby.
P.S. This is where Ryan asked Shannon to marry him yeeeeears before. 

Conversion, Reversion, Conversion

When Shannon was 12 years old, her mother said they were going to start going to a Catholic church. Shannon was LIVID. Raised Lutheran and very involved with her church, she felt like she had no say in the decision and said she would go back to the Lutheran church when she got her driver's license. Shannon refused to sit, stand and kneel with everyone during Mass, claiming she "just couldn't follow all of that," with a gargantuan eye roll. Her mother was very patient, praying she would come around, probably realizing Shannon's younger sister's faith relied on her sister being invested.

When autumn came, Shannon was tutored for first communion by Sister Mary Cecile, as Shannon was too old for the second-grade class but too young for RCIA. Shannon had a love of learning and a respect for old people, so she listened to Sister, at least to appear polite. And — whadayaknow — the Church made sense to her. The more Shannon learned, the more she realized that the Catholic Church fit all of the beliefs she already held true, even the ones the Lutheran church didn't espouse. Before long, she knew more about the faith than any of the kids in her CCD class (but let's be frank here — unfortunately, none of them acted too interested). Soon, Shannon's family felt called to a smaller, more orthodox parish where their faith thrived.

When Shannon went to college, it didn't take long for her to start asking questions and not getting answers from the right people. The Newman Center on campus was very liberal, and she never felt home there. She still went to Mass most Sundays, but she really started to question her faith going into her sophomore year. She even began playing with the idea of Judaism. She knew the God of Moses was for her, and she also valued history in religion. It was just a matter of deciding if she truly believed Jesus was Christ, or if he was just a prophet.

The first night Shannon and Ryan went on a walk together, her Catholic faith and questions came up. Ryan was certain Jesus was his savior. When he was 12 (just about the time Shannon was converting to Catholicism), he became hospital-bound with kidney failure. His mother was told he wasn't going to make it and to say her goodbyes, as Ryan had been running a 105-degree fever, he hadn't walked in days, and his organs were shutting down. Ryan remembers asking God to help him, something along the lines of: "I'm too young to die!" The next morning, Ryan woke up, stretched, walked down the cafeteria, and ate an entire pizza all by himself. The doctors were shocked and could find no reason for his rebound.

Despite his come-to-Jesus moment and his Baptist upbringing, Ryan didn't really belong to a church. As Ryan and Shannon grew closer and starting talking about baby names (he started it), Ryan revealed he supported the children being raised Catholic and thought he should even attend Mass with them. Ryan's curiosity lead to Shannon's excitement to educate him, drawing her back into her faith. Explaining the Catholic Church to someone she loved rekindled her love of the Church, as well as started a fire in Ryan.

Shannon tried to explain to Ryan how the Newman Center wasn't like Mass was back home, but he didn't really understand until he visited her family. They attend Mass at that small, rural, orthodox church, St. Charles Borromeo, and that was when Ryan knew. He saw the Mass wasn't manmade. It was heaven-sent, and he had to be a part of it.

When they were engaged, they discussed having a small Catholic ceremony sans Mass, and Ryan converting down the road. One day that fall, Ryan nonchalantly mentioned to Shannon, "Oh, by the way, I signed up for RCIA." He knew it was right, and he knew he didn't want to wait. He was baptized Ryan Charles Borromeo on Easter 2005.


You'll likely catch Ryan and Shannon loudly harmonizing together in the car, he in operatic tones, and her belting a la Broadway. Ryan beat-boxes, and Shannon mouths guitar. They both enjoy impersonating brass sections and theremins, and Cruncher is equally as loud.

Ryan loves craft beer. To date, he has tasted and rated more than 1,000, and his next goal is to try a beer from every state, as well as focus on our home states.

Shannon enjoys DIY and home improvement, and what she can't complete on her own, she asks her Daddy to do. He's a retired carpenter.

Ryan's favorite Catholic readings: the Holy Bible (duh), John Zmirak's Bad Catholic books, all three of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth books, The Faith of the Early Fathers series, and he's currently carrying a Father's Manual in his pocket.

Shannon's favorite Catholic readings: Meredith Gould's The Catholic Home, The Imitation of Christ, The Imitation of Mary, Divine Intimacy, Alice von Hildebrand's writings

If you come over to Ryan and Shannon's house for a meal, you'll likely be met with a plate full of odd cheese varietals.

Ryan likes to wear a writing utensil behind his ear because it makes him feel important and ready for anything.

Shannon takes notes in a small Moleskine reporter during homilies, which helps her pay attention during Mass but doesn't always work.

Both Shannon and Ryan are still at their first adult jobs despite being 30.

Ryan majored in music education and played the trombone. Yes, played. He sings tenor in church choir when Shannon lets him. He is STILL working on his master's. He is an elementary music, art, drama, math and reading teacher, only one of which he was trained to do.

Shannon majored in journalism and minored in government. She is a recovering liberal feminist news junkie and kept her last name. She works at a custom magazine publishing company, which she loves and hates simultaneously.

Ryan and Shannon both love antiquing. Promise.

Ryan's favorite Catholic musical composition is "Allegri Miserere."

Shannon's favorite image of Christ is the San Damiano crucifix.

Ryan's favorite prayer is the Divine Mercy, which he prays daily. His second favorite prayer is the St. Joseph Prayer.

Shannon cannot resist buying used Catholic books less than $4, vintage Catholic goods less than $20, vintage costume jewelry under $5 or a latte from her favorite coffee shop.

Ryan has a pair of cargo pants from junior high that still fit.

Shannon recently traded in her first car, a 1998 Ford Escort with 200,000. She felt verklempt when she handed over the keys.

Ryan's patron is St. Charles Borromeo, chosen because of his experience at Shannon's home parish (Ryan's experience, not St. Charles Borromeo's).

Shannon's patron is St. Maria Goretti, chosen for the same reason most teenage girls choose St. Maria Goretti.

Ryan's favorite thing Shannon wears is anything plaid.

Shannon's favorite thing Ryan wears is a ripped 1996 Poppy Mountain Music Festival T-shirt from college.


  1. oh my gosh you guys sound like so much fun! what a great story!

  2. What a clever pic. with straw wrapper people! :)