October 30, 2010
I toyed with the idea of calling this "Blogging for Dummies," because it really is truly a simple thing. It's so easy, in fact, that although my Dad asked me how I do it, he beat me to the punch and started his own! I cannot WAIT to read more of what he writes.
The first step in starting to blog is picking a host. There are many to choose from, but the most popular are Blogger and Wordpress. This blog is hosted by Blogger. I checked out both. I understand that all the "big" bloggers use Wordpress, and that it offers much more flexibility and options. However, as a brand new beginner with absolutely NO knowledge of html code (the computer language that blogs are coded with) I found it confusing and difficult to figure out. Blogger made it simple and walked me step by step through each part of getting it set up.
After choosing a host, you'll need to choose a name and a web address. You can use one that includes your host's name for free or pay a small annual fee to have a unique name like http://www.miqueridafamilia.com/. You can also start using one and then switch later. One of my favorite things about blogging is that you can start simple and add more as you go without losing your readers or their ability to find you on the web. Even though my blog address is now http://www.miqueridafamilia.com/, you can still find me at http://www.queridafamiliablog.blogspot.com/ because you are automatically redirected.
Next is the task of picking a layout. This is an important decision, because although you can switch layouts later, it's a little harder. You can also pick a layout and tweak the html code to include or exclude features you want. For instance, I wanted to change the color of the side-bar titles. It took a little work and research on Google to figure out the html code for the color I was switching from and to, and then I Googled "how to change my blog title color." I found some answers and was able to change them. Sometimes figuring all that out can be painstaking and can take longer than expected, but I also found that every time I wanted to tweak something, I learned a lot in the process.
After the layout is picked, there's all kinds of things you can do!
I use Photobucket and Picasa a LOT for my blog. Photobucket is an online site which you can use to upload and/or create images. Those pictures are then assigned an html code which can be pasted right into a post or other component of your blog. Picasa is a software by Google that can be down-loaded for free and allows you to manipulate photos. I use it mostly to crop, fix the lighting, add special effects, and collage my photos. My blog header, for example, was created using a combination of these programs. I used Paint to create a page with a tan background and the words "Mi Querida Familia" and our names. Then I opened Picasa and cropped the pictures I wanted to use for my header. Then (still using Picasa) I created the collage using six pictures and that Paint document with my blog title. I changed the settings so that each image would have a border and a bit of a shadow. Then I saved it. Next I uploaded that collage to Photobucket and used photobucket to re-size the image so it would be the same width of my blog. This took a bit of trial and error. Last I went to the "Design" tab on my Blogger dashboard and uploaded the image onto my site.
It sounds like a lot of steps, but once you are familiar with a few simple programs, it's simple and very easy to figure out. I used the same process to create all of the images in the side bars of my blog.
Let's see... What else might a beginner blogger want to know? Well last week a friend of mine asked me how to change the commenting system so that she could reply to those who commented on her blog. My favorite of what's available for Blogger (and the key here is of what's available because there isn't much) is Disqus. It has its flaws, but it's the best I've found. If anyone knows of any better, do let me know.
Kingdom Mama did several great posts that have helped me a lot. She posted about how to create a web button like this one:
You know... how you have a pictures that is a link too. She also wrote a post on how to add buttons right underneath a blog header. Here's the link for that post.
If you like my signature underneath my post, you can make your own at MyLiveSignature.com. If you'd like people to be able to subscribe to your blog, try Google's Feedburner.
Oh, and if you think it's kinda' cool to know how many people are clicking on your blog each day, week or month, there are gadgets for that too. I use StatCounter. It's one of many, but it's kinda' fun to see that three whole people actually read what you are writing!! :)
Have I missed anything you are curious about? If so, let me know in the comments section and I'll do my best to respond. In the meantime, I'm going to go start the two-hour process to make arroz con leche, our dessert for tonight. Happy blogging, everybody!
October 29, 2010
October 28, 2010
so while they snooze next to me (at almost 11 a.m.), I thought I'd take some time to do one of my favorite things. Blog. (I know you all are so surprised.) Somebody (ahem, yours truly) forgot to turn the heater on last night before bed, so none of us had a very good night's sleep. At about 7 a.m. we pulled Danny and his popsicle toes into bed with us and we've been here ever since. I'd post the picture of them both sleeping, but if I did that I'd be in BIG trouble. Ha!
The other day my Dad asked me in the comments section of a previous post HOW I blog and WHY I blog. They are really two different posts, so you can count on part 2 coming soon, but for today I thought I'd tackle the first part.
I wrote about why I blog here but of course why I started blogging and why I keep blogging are two entirely different things.
I was introduced to blogging by my good friend Sarah over at Kingdom Twindom. I wrote all about her yesterday. I started reading her blog long ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. What I liked best about it then was the "scrap book" of sorts that had evolved online of her family and the journeys God takes them on.
Fast forward to Fall of 2009 when I was pregnant with Danny. We live a 17-hour-drive away from my family and 7-hour-flight away from my husband's family so needless to say, I found myself emailing lots of pictures to many. I only did that once or twice before deciding to streamline the process with a website of my own. Hence, my blog was born.
Well, the old one was. About a year later I switched to Blogger. I did try Wordpress and found it complicated and hard to figure out. I understand that Wordpress gives you many more freedoms and options but I didn't have the patience for it. Anyway, this rabbit trail is more suited for the "How I Blog" post, so I'll leave it at that for now.
So my blog started purely as a way to document our history through stories and pictures. I love to write and I'm sort of (ahem) opinionated so I found myself sharing my thoughts about more than just my family. As I learned more about how to blog, I did more creative stuff to my blog layout and to each individual post. I fell in love with the creative outlet.
Why I continue to blog today... Well, it's a combination of things. The fact that a creative outlet can be realized through my love for writing blended with my love for training and sharing publicly and my passion for influencing others for Christ is just too much to pass up for more than a day or so at a time. It's my meat and potatoes, so I try to write here often. The fact that it blesses others to be able to catch up with my family and watch Danny grow is just gravy. The fact that someday he will be able to look back in detail at his infant and childhood years is the cherry on top (or maybe the sour cream over the gravy, to stick to the same analogy).
Other things I like about it: I have formed and deepened friendships through blogging. My IRL* friends read my blog know me better because I write here about things I think but don't talk about. I even tell my husband to read if he hasn't for a couple of days, because of the depth of stuff I share here, that just doesn't come up in regular conversation. I also love that my best girlfriends have gotten to connect with each other by writing and commenting. And last... well, I heard it said once that when your great passion meets the world's great need through one of your biggest talents, that is when you've found your calling. It is truly my hope and prayer that this blog meets some needs out there.
*In Real Life
So there you go! WHY I blog. Anyone wanna try it? Come back soon and I'll tell you HOW.
October 26, 2010
But then I jumped over to
So I decided (in true bloggy friend fashion) this was a more appropriate post. I was going to save it for her birthday, but, well... that's just WAY too far away.
I knew Kingdom Mama first as Sarah, when we met in the grocery store a mile from my house. It was quite a story, but you should really read her version. I liked her from the moment her twin-filled tummy drew my curiosity, but I had no idea at the time that the friendship that would be born over lasagna and a room filled with all four of her babies would alter my life so much. And yes, they were all babies at one time.
Sarah inspired me to blog. Then she taught me to blog. She may not know it, but her writing shapes mine. She helped me discover one of my greatest loves in a new fresh way - writing.
Then I watched her parent her little ones and learned during our visits to their tiny mountain town, when we slept on their living room floor. I learned a lot.
I remember knowing them when their marrige almost fell apart. (Although I didn't know it then.) Alejandro and I always felt a special bond with Papa Bear and Kingdom Mama.
When I got pregnant, she reminded me I was normal despite my total emotional fall-aparts.
Then, when it was time for Danny's world debut, she was there to catch the whole thing on camera.
She prays with me in my moments of self-disgust and weak faith. She coached me through figuring out Babywise with Danilo. She listens and then (somehow without condemnation) shows me exactly where my attitude is wrong and then points me back to the cross. Following her direction is easy, because the imprints of her knees are already at the foot of it.
Without Sarah in my life, well, I'd be quite a different person.
So, Sarah, on this terrible horrible no good very bad day, just know that I'm sending God prayers of praise and thanks for you. :) I hope this cheers you up, lady.
October 25, 2010
October 24, 2010
I've just been lost in July and August of 2009. Oh, memory lane is so sweet. Especially when there's a newborn involved. I have been working on moving over posts from my old blog onto this one. July is when I really started blogging more consistently. I wanted to capture all the images of Danny I could.
Well, I just heard the water turn off. I have been trying to upload a video of Danny doing his newest moves, but things are not being cooperative. I'll keep trying.
G'Night, ya'll... (ahem, apparently I'm feeling Southern tonight)
October 19, 2010
October 17, 2010
If you haven't noticed already, Alejandro and I like to play harder than we work. And we work pretty hard. Give us a kid-free weekend and it's all over. We're bound to go get ourselves killed.
Yesterday we decided to go biking. We picked a kill-you-cuz-it's-hard (that's my translation of "moderate") trail that's 8.5 miles long with a 1000 foot altitude gain. The trail head is at 9,000 plus feet, so we were goners from the beginning. But then we got lost, so it was probably more like 10 miles and 1500 foot altitude gain.
This is me, feigning a smile as I huff my way up the hill.
And this is
And then once we knew where we were again, it got REALLY fun! Because right about then, we hit a downhill, single-track, really technical trail. Those are my absolute favorite. (For all you non-mountain-bikers, that means a 3-foot-wide trail with lots of rocks, tree roots and such to maneuver over and around.) For me, the entire point of mountain-biking is going OVER stuff, and if I can do that going downhill (aka without any exertion on my part) it's even better!
This is your friendly Mary Kay beauty consultant shooting a snot-rocket. It was just so funny that Alejandro caught it on camera that I couldn't resist posting it!
This is looking down on Keystone (a ski resort).
October 16, 2010
October 15, 2010
Alejandro had spent the Spring and Summer in San Diego doing mostly yard work and side jobs, saving up for a ring. Then he proposed and we had two weeks to gather paperwork and meet with a lawyer to start the immigration process, while at the same time, enjoying the magic of Fall and engagement combined. Alejandro’s birthday is four days before we were married at the courthouse. That day, we drove out to Santee to a pumpkin patch. He’d never seen pumpkins before. They’re not exactly grown in abundance in Costa Rica. There were a few children here and there but it was a quieter day on the farm and he just marveled at the size of the huge orange vegetables. We had our own private hay-ride, which was either really cheesy or really romantic. Or both. But no matter what, it was absolutely wonderful.
The farm workers asked us about us and thoroughly enjoyed hearing our story. Since we were close enough to our wedding day to do the count-down in hours, we were all too eager to share. And the fact that this particular patch had the honor of hosting Alejandro’s first view of pumpkins made the farm workers even prouder to be a part of our story and more eager to hear it.
Now, seven years later, after driving through the Colorado mountains on the way to our romantic weekend away, all of the orange in the Aspen trees bring the memories flooding back. That day at the pumpkin patch, we held hands like kids and walked through the hay-bales. We grabbed snow sleds and slid down the hay bale slide. We petted the goats and buried our fingers in the sheeps’ wool. We watched the baby chicks.
Looking back over the last seven years – and I realize this is only seven and I probably sound like I’m talking about it as if it were 25 – we’ve come a long way. I’ve given up waiting for the day when we feel like we “have it all figured out.” I’m thankful for the way God has used us to make each other holy instead of happy. I'm amazed by how much happiness this marriage has given me too. There is so much to be thankful for.
Anyway, back to our romantic getaway... We've never been at this location before, so when we booked it, we didn't know exactly what was in store. Wow, were we in for a surprise! It's fitting that when we arrived at our romantic destination, we were blessed with this view out the back window...
October 14, 2010
October 13, 2010
Sarah's response in the comments section was SO GOOD, I had to share it with you all. She said...
Just a thought, but even though praying before meals can be a wonderful family tradition (it's honestly never been part of my life much...sometimes we do, sometimes we don't), it is MOST important that he loves it. Just exposing him to prayer is what's most important right now (IMO). Let him observe as you and Ale quiet yourselves, hold hands and pray....write it on his little heart. He'll volunteer to join in soon enough.
As the mom to five very smart and *uber* strong-willed children, God has to remind me every day that He created them to be strong-willed. That doesn't mean they get to disobey. But it also doesn't mean I'm called to "break" them. It's a wonderful molding process (for me and them) parenting strong-willed children. And, no, it doesn't always FEEL wonderful at all! ;)Wow! Thank you for this! Today at lunch I simply bowed my head and prayed out loud. I was able to TRULY pray and seek peace from my Father and pray over my son, rather than "faking" a prayer while wrestling with Danny's hands. It was AMAZING! I got still and quieted my spirit and Danny instantly got still and watched me. He was FASCINATED!!! He even sort of grabbed his hands together while he watched me. He stayed quiet for the duration of my prayer and then went back to his chatty self once I said "Amen."
The day was even better due to a couple of other things... I babysit at the gym I work out at one hour a week in exchange for a free membership. Today was my day to babysit, so Danny and I headed out the door first thing in the morning. It was a great hour of play and socializing with other kids and he got good and tired.
Then I came home and gave him a small snack around 11 a.m. before setting him in his crib with books and stuffed animals for his quiet time. I explained in a matter-of-fact way that "this is what we're going to do," and then set him down, kissed his head and walked away. It's the same principle of "Babywise" for sleep-time. Put the baby down and walk away.
Danny yelled for about 10 minutes but then when it was clear I was not coming back in, he sat down and started reading. Do you know that he read and played with his activity book for a solid half-hour!?
So fabulous! Lord, thank you for great friends. Thank you for words of encouragement. Thank you for your guidance and for your miraculous work in all of our hearts... even the 15-month-old hearts. I am blessed to be your child!
October is always challenging for us. It's a month full of celebration and special events and it's when the weather turns and there seems to be a last big effort to get outside and enjoy the weather before it gets cold. Today was cold and rainy and it was finally time to turn our heater on.
For us, October means Alejandro's birthday and our anniversary. Add to that an annual Mary Kay retreat (which is where I was this past weekend) and it becomes a very full month very fast.
This year I'm having many mixed emotions. Things feel very uncertain in our household since the income to pay next week's bills usually doesn't show up until this week. Don't get me wrong. We've never lacked for our needs, but some days are easier to have peace and trust than others. Today is a tougher day. Turning on the heat means higher bills and a part of me is worried about how we'll make it through the holidays and if that will mean less work for Alejandro. I have done the holidays with my Mary Kay business many times, so I'm pretty certain of how it will be... As long as I'm consistent, so is the business. But Alejandro's in a brand new situation. And as I said before, some days are easier to trust Him than others.
It's an interesting dichotomy to live in. My Mary Kay business is flourishing and I'm so blessed by all of you who are a part of that! Last month my team compeleted our company's first month (of four) of qualification for a Mary Kay car. My goal is for us to finish next month so by December, with God's hand of favor, we'll be celebrating a big victory! What I am MOST excited in that is how that will impact my team's lives and how those women will be blessed and challenged and stretched and immersed in a whole new life of abundance! They are such an incredible group of ladies! I love them dearly and I think it's amazing to see how God is molding my heart into the heart of a true leader whose most important passion is to love and serve her team. I am certainly not perfect at it. I have a lot to learn. But I am so blessed.
Danny is growing like a weed and challenging me every day. My patience is tested so much more now. He is just SO very smart! And I fall for a lot. Please pray for me as a mom. I struggle to teach him to pray before meals. He loves to pray with his Papa but the last two days he yells when I hold his hands to pray. I've been a wimp about insisting on his morning reading time in his crib. (It's a half-hour of down time that he can be awake but stay in his crib and read or play with stuffed animals.) And as a wqman who grew up with one sister... I gotta admit that I think his Daddy is WAY better at playing with him than I am. The onset of cold weather worries me a little because it means we're stuck inside a lot more. Or at least it requires much more creativity and bundling up to make it outside.
This is kind of a whiny post.
I'm just feeling challenged tonight and writing about it gets it off my chest and helps me process through it.
Danny's tossing and turning in the other room. His pajamas are too small. I don't know if that's really what's waking him. But it is seriously time for some new pajamas. And some more new diaper covers and diapers.
Hang on. He's up again.
...Ok, I just went in and changed him out of his pajamas into a pair of 18 month footed pjs. I was sure they'd be too big. Nope. They fit perfectly. Anybody know any great consignment shops in Colorado Springs? Or does anyone have any 18 month boy clothing they want to pass along? Sigh...
He's 18 lbs and 28.5 inches long now. Which means it's officially time for the new car seat. Actually he's doesn't quite meet the weight requirement for the new seat. He's long and lanky. But he definitely meets the height requirement and he's way too big for his infant carrier. Finally! So tomorrow I get to wrestle with a new car seat. Oh joy!
Oh, and he's up to the 13th percentile for his height and weight, which is a big improvement upon the -1 percentile he was in several months ago! Good job little buddy!
I hope you are all enjoying a restful night. I'm going to go join the rest of you in dream land now. Good night!
October 9, 2010
It's the life we are offered through Jesus.
Now before you tune me out, let me just tell you that I used to misunderstand this gift. I pictured it in a plain box wrapped with brown paper and scotch tape. I pictured the insides as ordinary contents that were sort of boring and usually sat on the shelf and collected dust. I imagined a plain hard-cover book with an undecorated cover and bland worn pages. Pages that didn't turn. Pages that are crisp because they were never read. A book that collected dust and contained a bunch of unattainable principles that were only for the extra pious and super boring.
WHY would I ever want to pass that on? This gift sat in the back corner on the top shelf of my bedroom book case collecting dust.
Several years ago, upon attending a church full of people who lived dangerously and pushed the limits of their comfort zone, I realized that this gift was NOT as I had imagined it. I realized that it looked much more like the one in the picture. It is bursting with color and life and it's DYING to be opened and discovered! It's hot pink and beautiful and promises peace, adventure and fun all in one. It's a life fulfilled and filled to overflowing. It's a life in community with others who are equally ecstatic to open the gift. This life is not free of challenge. It can be exhausting. It can take you to the end of who you are and then further. But it's the best kind of exhausted there ever is. There are ideas and plans inside this lime green and fuscia gift that seem to act of their own volition, that exceed your wildest dreams and expectations. And this gift... When you REALLY grasp the contents of this gift, they cannot stand but to be passed on... Given away... Not thrown haphazardously to a crowd of people, but carefully and delicately placed into the shakingly grateful hands of one who cannot wait to receive it. Much like a delicate ring placed on a woman's trembling finger by a man's sweaty nervous-with-anticipation hands, this gift is given with much love and intentionality.
I pray that today, you see this gift differently than ever before and that you would grasp how wide, how long, how high and how deep Christ's love for you really is. (Ephesians 3:18)
October 8, 2010
October 6, 2010
Especially since I got the post to her four days late. Really,
But she loves me anyway. :) That's what great friends are for right?
So hop on over and read... and then read on! As the mom of five under five-and-a-half (two sets of twins plus 1), and the wife of a miraculously redeemed marriage, she's got quite a lot of wisdom to share. I highly recommend her blog!
Our trip was originally intended to last only two weeks. But it stretched into four. There were plenty of challenging things about this but plenty of blessings too. The fact that our trip to Southern California over-lapped with Lori's by a day and a half meant we could finally meet each other! Yay! After praying for her family for so long and getting to know each other through blog-land, it was super sweet to put a voice to a face and a name and get to bond on a common alma mater. So we found a McDonalds halfway in between her and I and let our kids eat french fries and smoothies and play in the play-structure.
It was fabulous. We gabbed and snacked and marveled at each other's cute kids. And gabbed and got to know each other more.
She's really truly fabulous!
And when we were almost done and our nap-deprived toddlers had had enough, we decided we ought to get some pictures before we part ways...
So we tried. I have no idea who this cute Asian little boy is. Neither did Lori. But that was no deterrent for him. He plopped right down in the middle of the picture and "helped" keep Matthew facing forward. Ahem. Or something. He even smiled for the camera and said "cheese!"
October 2, 2010
October 1, 2010
***Be forewarned, this post contains plenty of TMI and talk of poop, so if you're queasy or male you might not want to read on. You are welcome to, but don't say I didn't warn you!
I'm sitting here in my chair in Danny's room soaking up the last remnants of warm sunny weather through the window before Autumn takes over completely. Is it really already October first? And do I really already have a 15-month-old?
I should go grab my laptop to write and a box of tissue to blow my nose but I'm just way too tired, sick and lazy to get up and do that right now. So I'm pecking this out on my phone and blowing my nose in Danny's baby burp rags - which he has outgrown but which I haven't put away because one of his favorite games is pulling them out of the basket one by one. (That was a run-on sentence and a half!) Since yesterday, ALL THREE OF US in the Chinchilla Porras household are sick. And if there's one thing worse than having a sick kid, it's being sick and having a sick kid.
On top of the fun of explosive diarrhea diapers and a sleepless night, I got to go get my annual pap smear today. Which is my absolute favorite thing to do! (Not.) But my doctor is fabulous and he cracks me up and somehow makes me forget what I'm doing spread eagle with my feet in stirrups. Plus he always gives Danny plenty of attention and smiles.
My poor little guy is just dragging himself around he's so tired! In the middle of playing he lays down on the floor, sticks his thumb in his mouth and touches his eyelashes for a few minutes. No, our son doesn't rub his eyes when he's tired. He caresses his eyelashes... Which, by the way, are disgustingly long and gorgeous like his Papa's. It is just beyond cute.
----Oops! Danny just came over and wanted my attention and my phone so I guess that's the end of that post... I'll see if I can come back later with something better. :) 'Cuz this is probably one of the worst posts I've written! Oh well, at least the picture was sort of all right.