July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Who was this incredible birthday cake for?


It was for this spunky lady! 
This is my Grandma Kate...  although I call her Namas. 
Since the time I was about two years old. 


Namas just turned 90 and so my Dad decided to surprsie her...




...a great big...





And what birthday par-tay is complete without a big 'ol birthday cake?


A big old cake with 90 candles on it!


Yep.  Ninety.  Candles.
(They almost set the fire alarm off.)



She needed a little help blowing out all those candles. 
Especially because they were trick candles!


Happy Birthday, Namas!




¡Felíz Cumpleaños Abuela!

¿Para quién era este queque?

Stream Of Consciousness

Ok I'm sorry. I know I promised to post WHOSE birthday cake that was... And I will. But first I have just GOT to write all of the words I've been composing in my mind all morning.

Last night I went to go do a Mary Kay facial with a woman I met at a Country Music Expo a few weeks ago. I did do the facial. But the reason I was supposed to go was for a very in-my-face intense encounter with God. (We'll call her Heidi - um 'cause that's her name.) Heidi had some prophetic words for me and they went about as deep and true into the heart of an issue of mine as is possible. I don't think I'll share too much about it (at least for now) but it was just an incredible experience and it left me quiet and introspective. And awed that He would orchestrate such an encounter through an almost stranger. And overwhelmed with His love. And exhausted at work done and more work to be done still.

So that's one big ball of thoughts I've been mulling on since last night.

Another big ball of thoughts I'm mulling on is the fact that yesterday we decided to pick our family up and head out to California for a couple weeks. Alejandro has several jobs lined up in San Diego through family and friends, so off we go with no sure date of when we'll return. Yesterday it sounded exciting and I'm sure tomorrow it will again but today I'm just a little overwhelmed at all that needs to be accomplished between now and Tuesday when we leave.

One major task is finding a home for our cat, Abby. In the picture above she's snuggling with me and Danny before he was born. Ok actually she's SITTING on Danny before he was born. Anyway, she is a sweet friendly wonderful cat. She's been "fixed" but not de-clawed (we don't believe in doing that to cats) and we want to find a really wonderful home for her. We are just not able to give her the attention she deserves anymore. If you are interested in taking her, or even if you'd be interested in having her for a short time while we're in California, please let me know (reneeporras@marykay.com).

Ok while I'm laying my requests at everyone's feet - I mean computer screens... Here's another need of ours: Our life for the next two weeks would be significantly easier if we had a laptop to take with us. If you have an old but functioning one you'd be willing to pass on or sell for very cheap, please let me know that too.

Alright, before this email gets to sounding too much like a string of Craigs' List posts, I'll move on.

I AM pretty excited about going to San Diego. I hear they've been having cooler weather, and since I've pretty much been sweaty since last April (gotta love those mommy hormones) I'm looking forward to a cool ocean breeze. I'm ALSO looking forward to letting Danny have time with all his grandparents and seeing my sister and burying my toes in the beach sand and fresh fish tacos and seeing old friends and spending some time with my Mary Kay unit (I started my business in San Diego) and... Yeah ok the excitement is coming back.

But for now it's time to take away the cherry stem Danny is chewing on and get my house ready to leave. Oh, and post those birthday pictures!

TTFN! (Ta ta for now...)


July 28, 2010

Want to know who this was for?

Come back soon and find out!

Danny is stealing produce.

And do I stop him?
I grabbed the camera.


Danilo está robando limones.
¿Y qué hago yo? ¿Le freno?
No. Agarré la cámara.

Helping Papa Wash the Car

Mi Querida Biblia - Day 123

184x184 biblia sidebar button
Today is day 123 in our year of reading through the Bible together and we are fast approaching the half-way mark. Although I've done a miserably poor job of posting on it, I have actually been reading fairly consistently.  I am about 25 days behind but maintaining. 

My friend, Sarah Brown wrote the following to me on facebook and it was so encouraging I wanted to share it wth you: 
Don't beat yourself up girl! You can do it- just do a little at a time and enjoy what you're reading. I've had to really think about what I can learn from these really hard sections and one thing I've found is that it's not that hard. God told the Israelites exactly what to do and what not to do and said, "Hey, you guys, listen to what I'm telling you to do and life will be simple and everything will work together for good. But if you just blow me off, then we have a problem." I've always felt like I don't know what to do or what God wants of me and I don't want to disappoint Him. But then I've learned, hey the only thing that matters is following God wholeheartedly and loving Him completely and everything else will fall into place.
Well put, Sarah!  Thanks for that reminder.  It is about relationship, not about action or duty or works or anything else.  The point is to know God's heart better by reading his Word. 

So right now I'm in the middle of the book of Judges, reading about how the Israelites circled the same mountain a million times went through one judge after another as they followed God and then fell away and then followed God and then fell away.  Do you know that this cycle happend thirteen times!?  God's patience is truly unending and thank Him it is, because I've had my own history of circling the same mountain a million times finding myself weak and then strong in Him and then weak and then strong in Him again and again. 

What I want to drive home though, and what I want to mediate on today is that,

He keeps coming back.

Like a devoted lover, he returns again and again and again for his bride and he will stop at nothing to find her.  "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39)

He is passionately and deeply and truly in love with you.  And that will never change.  Just let that sink in a bit today. 


July 26, 2010

Introducing Fiorela...

This little Costa Rican beauty is our new niece.


It took me a while to get a hold of some pictures of her, and we're pretty proud of her.  But not anywhere near as proud as her Daddy is.


She is, of course, a sleepin' fiend right now.


Hey look!  I know someone else who sleeps this way.


Little Fiorela...


...and her Dad...


...and Mom...


...are doing just fine. 


Welcome to this world, sweet one!


Born June 24th at approximately 2 a.m. 

July 24, 2010

A Really Important Decision... Or Not.

Ok, I need your help.  I'm stuck between the sepia colored header I had up yesterday and the color-filled one I've got up now. 

What's your vote?  :) Comment away!

July 23, 2010

a few changes around here

Well in addition to the major changes that are happening in our household...  there are a few changes here on my blog!  I hope everyone likes the new header! Leave a comment and tell me what you think. 

Since MckMama tweeted at me this afternoon, I know I'm getting lots of new visitors to my blog, so welcome!  Please stick around.  I'm honored that you stopped by.  :) 

Things around our house have settled into a sort of new regular but hopefully temporary routine.  I am SO proud of Alejandro and how intensely he has focused on applications for a new job.  Please keep praying for him.  Pray for favor, for his spirits (and mine) to stay positive, and for clear direction from the Lord.  He was offered a job today, but unfortunately it wouldn't meet our needs, in addition to the fact that it's not really what he's looking for.  So, needless to say, he's still looking. 

I've got pictures of our new niece in Costa Rica, wedding pictures from my trip to San Diego last June, a couple of cloth diaper posts, and a video or two to share, so come back soon.  :)  Oh, and by the way, if you're visiting, I am definitely not a photography guru, so any great shots were either sheer luck or they were taken by Matt Frank or Jon Eichelberger (great friends of ours). 

Ok, that's all I've got in me in the way of words at 1:45 a.m. so until I return...  Happy Friday!


July 22, 2010


...you just have to stand in the pouring rain.


July 20, 2010

stream of consciousness

five minutes ago i blew my nose in my hankerchief.  then i just cleaned my glasses with my hankerchief.  now i have boogers on my glasses. 

i'm sure ya'll were just dying to know that. 

well, that's what you all get when i decide to stream-of-consciousness blog at 6:30 in the morning (a writing style is stole from mckmama).  two weeks ago i started a new practice of blogging from 6-7 a.m., and not allowing myself to blog at any other time (for the most part).  the purpose is to keep me from being distracted during the day and to motivate me to get up early.  and to go to bed early.  it was working pretty well, so here i am.  yesterday, alejandro and i sat down and had a great conversation about a few routines and "rules" for ourselves we are putting in to place to help keep us focused, keep our spirits up, and to keep us from worrying and working 24/7.  this was one of them.

so far we've done pretty well at staying positive and focused and keeping things in perspective.  it seems god has given us an extra measure of grace in this area and i am so very thankful and i'm pretty pleasantly surprised. 

i'm also (once again) so very thankful for my mary kay business, from which i've learned so many skills that have helped me (and therefore us) stay focused, stay organized, keep things in perspective, create routine and schedule that is reasonable and to remain thankful.  what a gift to have all these skills at my fingertips when i need them most! 

in church sunday i was writing during worship - which is a regular thing for me.  god talks to me and i write (on my phone) and talk back while i sing and worship.  i wrote: 

"i have set the lord always before me.  because he is at my right hand, i will not be shaken."  psalm 16:8

totally out of control. 

and completely at rest.

for the first time in a very long time, i am completely at peace.  totally at rest.  i'm sleeping soundly.  on thursday, every last shred of control was taken away and i couldn't be more relaxed than i am right now.  i finally let go.  i was holding so tight to everything.  i was trying so hard to fight the good fight and to work to resolve certain worries and troubles in our lives.  it was a huge struggle and i was so tired. 

why do we do that?  why do we think we have to look like we've got it all together?  why do we work to maintain control and hold onto our will?

on thursday i quit fighting.  on thursday i sat down still and started letting him fight.  he took  the riegns and i am finally resting in the bottom of the boat amidst a huge storm.  fast asleep.  at peace. 

thank you jesus for taking everything out of my hands.  thank you for forcing me to let go. 

find rest my soul
admit you're weary
i will cast my cares
for you have always cared
his yoke is easy
his burden is light
i have decided
i'm gonna fix my eyes
on the perfector
the author of my faith
jesus christ.

psalm 27:1-4
the lord is my light and my salvation—

whom shall I fear?
the lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

when evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

one thing I ask of the lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the lord
and to seek him in his temple.

i wish i could say that the feeling of rest and peace lasted longer than two days.  (good grief lord, how long will i have to walk around this mountain?)  but it didn't.  last night i was feeling the urge to get up from the bottom of that boat in the middle of the storm and to walk on water, following jesus out into the middle of the raging storm. 

i suppose i will probably go through many yo-yo's of peace and worry.  by his grace i pray that through this i'll learn to find peace more and longer and to venture out into the storm with confidence that i follow the one who is in control of it all. 

well, that's it for this morning.  and since i've got no good or smooth ending to my steam-of-consciousness post, i'll just stop. 

oh, except, would you please click over and pray for this sweet family?  thanks.  :) 


July 17, 2010

A Bump In Our Road

Thursday was a pretty normal day until after breakfast.  As I lugged Danny upstairs to change his diaper, the phone rang.  It was Alejandro.  I picked it up and said "hi" in my normal groggy somewhat cranky voice.  I don't really wake up until around 9 a.m.  As soon as Alejandro said hello back to me, I knew something was wrong.  And I knew what it was.  It had played out in the back of my mind all morning, as if I knew it was coming.  Ale knew it was coming too. 

"Paul had to let me go," he said. 

I went numb.  The layoff was no surprise, but it still hit like a ton of bricks and we're still reeling a little bit.  I listened and tried not to diminish what he might be going through while at the same time I tried to process it.  In a voice choked with emotion, he told me he had to sign some papers, clean out his work van and he'd be home in a bit. 

The shock took all day to wear off and I'll spare you the dramatic retelling of it.  We both had our fall-apart moments* but we both pulled it together by about noon.  I was really impressed by how much Alejandro seemed at peace with the whole thing. 

*A fall-apart moment is what I call it when I allow myself to bawl my eyes out over something for a time before pulling it together, washing my face, putting the moment behind me and moving forward with a positive response. It helps me get my emotion out without ending up in an all-day pity party that paralyzes me.

There is sadness at having to leave his job of 5 years.  There is gladness and thankfulness for 5 years in which he learned a lot and enjoyed the leadership of a Godly, family-oriented boss who I will always appreciate.  I really hope Paul (Ale's boss) realizes how thankful I am for all he has done for us.  Paul is the kind of guy who would buy the guys a burger if they had to work extra late and then give me a personal call on my cell phone to thank me and apologize for not having my husband home for dinner.  "I know it's tough to do the evening routine with a little one without him," Paul would say.  He's the kind of guy who looked out for his employees like family and the kind of guy who would hold onto an employee as long as he could before having to do something as drastic as a lay-off.  We are blessed to have been a part of Schmallen and Associates and I pray his business flourishes in the coming months and years. 

So anyway, we've spent the last two days figuring out what needs to be done, and what takes priority.  We have some savings, and we are overwhelmed with the grace God has for us.  We know He holds us in the palm of His hand and we have never lacked for anything.  We know that this door closing means a new chapter and another door open.  We're just not sure what that is right now.  It was really amazing to feel the gentle assurance from our Heavenly Father, as phone calls poured in on Thursday.  I had women book facial appointments with me.  Alejandro got a call asking if he could make a few more crosses for someone. 

(Alejandro carved and stained this beautiful wooden cross. It is 6.25 inches tall,
4.5 inches wide and has a nail-hole in the back to easily hang in your home.)

We got email after email from a former co-worker of his with leads of possible job openings.  It was really amazing. 

We are so blessed by so many!

Lots of you in the past have said to us emphatically, "If you ever need help, make sure and let me know."  Well, now we need help!  Ha ha!  Please pray for us.  Please pray that God would remind us daily that we are taken care of and that a spirit of fear would have no place in this household.  Please pray for clear direction and for favor for Alejandro as he applies for many positions.  For those of you who want to pray very specifically, I am asking the Lord for a position for him with a better salary, with benefits, and doing something that he really finds enjoyment and fulfillment in and in which he can use his God-given talents.  Am I asking for it all?  To the God who holds the entire world in the palm of His hand and who gives good gifts to His children, yes I am asking for it all. 

As far as the best practical help to us right now... 

1.  ...if you have any knowledge of a job opening in Colorado Springs, please email me and let me know.

2.  ...last week before he was laid off, Alejandro started a handy-man business on the side.  Here is his business card.   
Alejandro is really skilled and I really do say that he can fix anything!  Ha ha!  If you need something done in your home, business, church or organization or if you know someone who does, call Alejandro and see if it's something he can do and what the price would be.  His goal is to do it for cheaper than you could hire anyone else to do it for and get the job done better. 

3. ...if you need to stock up on facial cleanser, moisturizer, mascara, makeup remover, eye cream, (you get the idea) please consider ordering on my Mary Kay website.

4.  ...if you are in the Colorado Springs area, hosting a Mary Kay facial party is another way for you to help us.  If you have three other women join you, you get great hostess benefits.  Email me and I can tell you more about it.   

Thank you all for the blessing you are to us.  I know I said it already, but we are truly surrounded by love and support and we are so thankful.  Have a really great weekend! 


(and Alejandro)

July 14, 2010



Dear Danilo,

You've enjoyed two weeks of being one year old now and you've wasted no time in trying lots of new things, growing in new ways and testing the limits of your abilities.

It has been my most favorite pastime this year, to watch you grow, to watch your papa grow as a father, and to watch the two of you fall in love with each other.  You two absolutely adore spending an entire day together playing legos, taking walks, talking, eating...  just being boys.  I am so very blessed by God's gift of YOU in our lives.  I love you my little one!


Lately you've been crawling around the house like you've been doing it forever, rather than just three weeks.  You prefer to crawl on our rug, but your curiosity no longer keeps you from venturing onto the linoleum floor.  (Although it does keep you from leaving a picnic blanket and getting onto the grass.)  More and more you are venturing into the corners of a room and into another room from where we put you down.  It's a good thing you are doing this becoming-mobile thing gradually, because getting our house safe for you has happened gradually too.  You're pretty good at listening to "no" when you want to head for the tv or the plant and you even sometimes listen to "turn around and go the other way."  I'm so proud of the listener you're becoming! 

But even more exciting is the talker you're becoming!  You've been working on it for months, but Friday of the Independence Day holiday weekend, you said cheerios to us when we gave them to you to keep you occupied while we packed to go camping.  Well, ok, you said, "ee-o."  But we knew what you meant!  Then that Sunday you looked at Toby and said here.  It sounded like "hi," (with a short i sound).  The next day, we all laughed when you looked at Toby, pointed to the ground and emphatically said "tay!!" (stay).  You've been trying to say Toby's name and we can always tell that's what you're saying, but it comes out different every time you say it.  At first it sounded like, "Thhhhhhh!" with a lot of spit.  Now it's "Bo" or "Toe" or "Eeee-bo" or "Beee-oo" or any number of combinations of those sounds.  Anyway, you're becoming quite the little talker. 

On your birthday, you weighed 16 lbs and you stretch a whole 27.5 inches tall.  So you're small and doctors are worried about you.  I'm trying not to be, but your week-long bout of fevers and diarrhea after those 12-month shots on top of the nasty bit of teething you did the same week had me pretty concerned about your all-around health.  But now you're back to being the normal, feisty, energetic, smiley you, with your almost-8 teeth!  (Four on the top and almost four on the bottom.) 

You were kind of spaced out and really tired for this picture, but here's our family. 


You're pretty good at voicing your opinion - or rather your disagreement with Mama or Papa when we take something away.  You love turning the pages of books.  You like knocking over towers.  You adore the sippy cup Great Grandma gave you and the polar bear puppet Grandpa gave you for your birthday.  You are really good at holding a sippy cup, tipping it up when it gets almost empty, and turning it around in your mouth when you are holding it with the spout on the wrong side.  You sleep on your side and sometimes on your stomach.  When you're overly tired, you sit up in your crib and crawl around but can't remember how to lay back down again so you scream until I come in and remind you how.  And then you scream for me to pick you up because you forgot that you really wanted to sleep in the first place.  But most of the time you cry for me to put you down for your nap and go right to sleep once you're there.  You love your little yellow plastic tow-truck and you make truck sounds while pushing it across the carpet. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life.


I could listen to you giggle All. Day. Long. 

Danilo, you are my joy and my delight.  I love you to pieces and I'm so proud of who you are becoming. 


**Photography by Jon Eichelberger

July 12, 2010

Toys That Never Go Out of Style

It's another afternoon of free-play on the rug and I'm here with my Blackberry phone to entertain me while Danny works hard at playing.

So of course, blogging from my phone is the inevitable result.

Today, I thought I'd share with you this activity book that he's playing with. It's got a sturdy cover and cloth pages. The coolest thing about this book is that my Mom made this book for me when I was a baby! And now, 3 decades later, Danny loves it too!

Of course, at this stage, Danny enjoys CHEWING on the snap-on cloth baloons rather than matching them. But that's ok. He'll get it sooner or later.

That's what we're up to! What are YOU guys doing today?