December 31, 2011

A New Day

Five a.m. on a Saturday morning and I can't sleep, so tippy-toe I go, down the stairs, in stealth-mode so as not to disturb the two men in my life.  I feel like I'm coming out of a fog, or coming up for air after a long time under water.  December has been a rough month for us, and I've not had words to write.  I've battled to find joy and while I truly have loved (I always do) this season of lights and Christmas music and gifts and friends and fun, it's been a tougher December than most.

We have all been sick (two of us twice).  And not just runny-nose sick.  Whole-body-achy-needing-antibiotics-really-should've-just-stayed-in-bed-can't-function-sick.  This doesn't bode well for a household of the self-employed..  We don't have sick days or paid vacation.  If ya' don't work, ya' don't get paid.  It's even less fun when you can't call Grandma to come over and hang out with Danny because I can hardly drag myself downstairs to fix breakfast.  And work has been slow on top of that.

I don't know why this is all hard to admit.  As though we've somehow done something wrong.  But it is.

And the other half of my struggle to find joy is our collective home-sickness.  I told my family on several accounts that I have desperately wanted to be in three places simultaneously this Christmas.  Here we are home.  Colorado and cold and not nearly enough snow and our church are where our hearts live.  Yet in San Diego my sister is preparing to get married and there are dresses to buy and parties to plan and moments that sisters are meant to share and I wish I were closer to share them.  Families are gathering and a baby niece was born and another is on the way, and I've missed the gatherings and eating together.  In Costa Rica, another niece is walking and talking and zillions of cousins have married and are having children and my heart longs to laugh and love fully in another language.  Three places I long to be.  All at once.

So I've been in a fog.  Wanting to enjoy the season.  Wanting to give of my time and my resources and wanting to stretch out to others and write and share memories and pictures and create good traditions for our son who is two and a half and talking like there's no tomorrow.  Surely I've done some of that.  But certainly I've spent much more time than I wanted trying to get well - as though I could do that and God were not already working on it - and trying to catch up on work time lost and wishing I were spending my time differently than I am.

But today is a new day.  As the Lord spoke to me as I crept down the stairs - this is entering into a new season.  There is indeed more to do than ever, and with the close of Christmas and the beginning of a new year, God has miraculously provided, our work schedules are once again full and we are healthy and well.  (It occurs to me that this is only the second time in a year and a half that Alejandro has experienced a lull in work and I am extremely thankful for that.)  We have never lacked for anything we need and God grows faith in our hearts as He teaches us to trust in His provision.

There have been many good memories, and loads of great pictures to share.  I am looking forward to the creative process of sharing those with you.  I love new beginnings.  I love breaks and vacations and a rest from work, but I love just as much the getting-back-to-routine and schedule and the daily Kingdom work set before me.  Alejandro has joined me on the couch and I hear my other little man stirring upstairs.  So I think it's time to enjoy early morning breakfast and snuggles and playing Angry Birds and Blast Monkey on our phones together.  This is, after all, the important stuff.

Happy New Year everybody.  Here's to fresh starts.


December 24, 2011

We want to wish you...

Merry Christmas!

Alejandro, Renee and Danilo

P.S.  And now that I'm on a dose of antibiotics and I'm feeling human once again after a week and a half of being really sick, I hope to be around here a lot more often.  ;)  I miss you guys!  

December 17, 2011


It's been a little quiet here, with a flurry of pre-Christmas activity, but I think it's about to slow way down soon and I can update you on what we've been up to. 
Remember our home-made Christmas last year? Well, we are continuing the tradition.  We are also continuing the tradition of getting everything to the mailbox late.  Uh, sorry family. 

We've also all been sick.  After the bout of pink eye we had last week, we had a few days of not sick and then more sick.  Ick.  Alejandro had it first.  Danny got it next.  Now I'm feeling crummy, but I think today's the worst day and I'll be on the mend soon.  Both boys are find now already, so I'm hoping I follow their pattern of getting over it quickly. 

Alright, off to finish...  what I was working on  ...and then I'll be back for a real post with pictures for you.  And maybe I'll even post something on Mi Cocina so you don't think I've been eating Whiskey Glazed Carrots since Thanksgiving. 

:)  Happy Saturday, guys!


December 12, 2011

There Might Be Something Better Than This...

...but at the moment, I just can't think of what.

December 9, 2011

Sick Day

So Danny and I are home sick today. We came home from urgent care last night with a positive diagnosis of pink eye and drops for our eyes.  Actually, neither one of us feels very sick, save for the four times a day I have to put drops in our four little eyes and Danny throws a raging fit as though I were requiring him to consume mud.  I'm not even certain that I have pink eye, except that I'm completely incapable of keeping my fingers away from my eyes.  Alejandro thinks it's ridiculous.  It probably is.  So I figured that if Danny has pink eye, so do I and I might as well quarantine myself along with him and share his antibiotics and wear glasses for two days.  The doctor agreed.  I now have paranoia with every little itch I feel on my face, which is many, since I have very sensitive eyes and deal with eye allergies anyway.

It sort of reminds me of the time I taught third grade and one of the third grade students in my school was sent home with lice and even though the kid wasn't even in my class, I wore my hair in a pony tail and petrified it with hairspray for a week anyway and every tiny itch I felt all over my body was multiplied by ten and I noticed every time any one of my students touched their head for any reason.  Sort of like that.

Where was I?  Oh yeah.  So we're home not really sick, but quarantined.  Come to think of it, it's sort of like an impromptu vacation.  We slept late, played, ate breakfast late, had cereal for breakfast,

and now Danny's playing with his frosted mini wheats.

And I'm letting him.  

He's turned it into a complete soupy mush which he's been kneading with his hands for the last half hour, and now he's painting with it on the kitchen counter.

And I can't stop taking pictures of his long lashes and pouty lip.

But he's content 

and being creative and his hands are out of his eyes 

and he's only two and a half once, right?    

Oh yes, he's almost two and a half!  Can you believe it?  It's high time for another Dear Danilo post.  The child just doesn't stop talking.  It's fantastic.

I am in love with the word fantastic right now.  In love.  I don't know why.

What was I talking about?  Oh right.

Last weekend, after this post, we had planned on going to cut down our Christmas tree, as is our annual tradition.  But seeing as it was blowing snow and negative 5 degrees out, Danny and I stayed inside and Alejandro heroically went and cut one down for us.  Isn't that fantastic?  (Sorry, I had to use it.)  He was really so wonderful to do that.  My two boys were SOOO tired after last weekend's adventures.

Alejandro's been working really hard all week long, 

and bringing me flowers to boot, 

so our little Charlie Brown tree (which I never would have picked, but am totally in love with) has sat in our living room un-decorated all week, along with the base that we cut off and all the pine needles all over the floor.

That is going to change tomorrow, if I have anything to do with it.

My stress relief these days has been working out at Jazzercise (which incidentally is probably where Danny picked up this little case of pink eye) and my winter sweet hot drink of choice.  The two stress-relievers sort of cancel each other out, now that I think about it.  Each year I settle on a sweet drink and have it all winter long in mass doses.  Last year it was Kingdom Mama's decadent hot chocolate.

This year it's a chai tea latte (from Costco) with whipped cream on top.  

It's even better in my favorite cup given to me by my across-the-street-childhood-best-friend.  I love that cup.  And her.  ;-)

Oh, my last little bit of news?  Remember last week when I was Tweeting about my little visit to the DMV that worked out amazingly well?  No?  Well I went to the DMV, picked up my number, and took a seat.  After a half an hour, they had progressed through about 8 numbers with 60 to go before getting to my number.  I had an afternoon appointment to get to, so I gave up, left, and headed to my appointment.  I happened to finish my appointment early and had an extra hour I didn't count on having, so I thought I'd head back by the DMV and see what the progress was.  Do you know that there were only five numbers left until mine!?  I only waited another 15 minutes, took my turn, and was out of there in time to pick up my son.  Who does that!?  I was pretty giddy about that little blessing.

What's that?  Why was I at the DMV?  Oh, I'm so glad you asked!  I am now the proud owner of a Chrysler Town and CountryMinivan. Mommy-Mobile.  You might be the mother of a small child if you find yourself wishing and dreaming for a mini-van.  Alejandro has his Jeep.  I have my minivan.  :)  Know what it has?  Bun warmers.  And remote start.  Yeah.  I know.  So cool.  Especially given that negative five degree weather we had last weekend.  Wanna know what else?  We paid cash.  Yeah.  I'm pretty proud.  :) Hence all the smiley faces.  :)

Well, it's time to get my little monster (and I mean that in the most endearing way) in and out of the bathtub and down to rest.

Have a great day!

December 5, 2011

How the Lord Spoke This Weekend

Frustration flows, when I want it to ebb.  This God-given frustration at dreams unrealized... at the picking feeling that I still reside in the mediocre and not in the promised land of The Calling.  Frustration because I know not how to change it.

And then this:  (Phil 4:8) Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.

The enemy jabs with reminders of what I have not, when He has placed so much in front of me for me to have.  The father of lies would desire me to see discontent, frustration, ... and then the notes of my friend on the piano ring peace in my heart and remind me that worthy is the Lamb who was slain, so that I might have it all.  I have been given friends.

I have been given a day to rest.  Snow.  Christmas trees.  Worship belted out and uttered in whispers and all is a beautiful chorus in Your ears.

And even then, the song ends and the knot in my throat returns.

Psalm 119:114  You're my place of quiet retreat.  I wait for your Word to renew me.

"Well, child, some things are really meant to be laid down.  Every person needs hope planted at the bottom of their hole."  - Anne Voskamp

There it is:  the reason for the activity.  The Calling.  The why behind selling lipstick.

Colossians 3: 15 - 16  Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other.  None of this going off and doing your own thing.  And cultivate thankfulness.  Let the Word of Christ - The Message - have the run of the house.  Give it plenty of room inyour lives.  INsruct and direct one another using good common sense.  And sing, sing your hearts out to God!

In Him, there is renewal for transformation.  We come to the place of saying, "I CAN'T DO IT, GOD!" And He says, "Well, I've been waiting for that, Renee."  What we think is the problem is never really the problem.  It's always looking at something to fill the need that only the Savior can fill. We find adult pacifiers that poorly try to replace Him in our lives.

The thing is that it doesn't happen over night.  The Power of the Cross must be applied consistently (not just once) in order for transformation to occur.  We try repentance in our human strength and fail.  We try to think right.  Reason right.  Do right.  But it doesn't transfer to the heart.

Then we recognize our incapability and beg God to deposit it into our souls, to write it on our hearts, to inscribe healing into us, and He graciously does exactly that.  God reveals it to me and it becomes me.  This Godly repentance.  And in that He kills the lie that I've been believing.

Deliver me, sweet Jesus, from the lie that I must live today in mediocrity.  By the power of your Holy Spirit, eradicate from me the fear that comes along with realizing my purpose and following my Calling.  Pour your strength into me to accomplish what I cannot on my own.  Give me your joy in all things.  Remind me of what I have so that gratitude might be my default.  And by the power of your Son, bring freedom, that I might live it and pass it on.

December 1, 2011

The Highest Form of Flattery

Just a small reminder 

that when I wonder what he's doing

he has probably

been watching


November 28, 2011

If These Walls Could Speak

I love change.  I just love change for the sake of change itself.  New places, new looks, new arrangements, new scenery, a new project, a new system.  Sometimes I change my systems just because I get bored with what I've been doing.  I sort of sabotage myself that way.  Often.  So I try to resist.

But when it comes to furniture, houses and decorations, change harms no one, and it's super super fun!  So last weekend, Alejandro and I decided to rearrange not one, but two of the rooms in our house, upon the arrival of a new-to-us couch for our living room.

Then, I decided I wanted to capture the look of those rooms, and remember the things about them that I love.  Sometimes, our homes hold memories that are lost in remodeling or rearranging, and unlike people, we don't typically photograph homes and remember how they change through the years.

There used to be a set of couches that sat in the living room of my childhood home.  They were brown and 80's and sort of striped, and they faced each other.  I used to lie on one and watch TV.  That was my spot.  I remember many movies in my teen years that I watched from that couch.  Remember Beaches?  Yeah.  That couch. And me blubbering like a whale with my junior high best friend. And before that couch and the TV were there, it was that couch and the fish tank and us small-sized girls with our noses pressed against the glass watching gold fish.  Aaah...  But anyway, before I get lost down Memory Lane, here's what I want to remember about this couch and living room:

It's the way the light spills in and warms your feet as you sit on the recliner during the day, and the way you can stare at the fire at night.  It's the fireplace with our engagement picture over it signed by our wedding guests, the candles from our wedding, and the Believe sign that was a gift from one of my Mary Kay heroes.  It's the rocking chair that my step-brothers were rocked in as babies. The Bienvenidos frame that I cross-stitched as I sat in language school every morning in Costa Rica in January of 2002.  The rug that we wrestle on and play Legos on with my son.  These are the things I want to remember about my living room.

In our bedroom...

It's the sunlight through the window that acts as our headboard.  It's the early morning shadows cast on the walls.  It's the hope chest and dresser drawers I got as a high school graduation present.  It's the fact that not a single solitary piece of furniture matches in that room.  

It's the rockers that we sit in to talk.  Or that we it in to not talk, but just to be together.  

It's the coffee pot that we put in between those chairs.  Because there are days when it takes a little something extra to get me out of bed, and a coffee pot in my bedroom, making me feel like I'm in a fancy hotel, is sometimes just the trick.  And who says you can't have a coffee pot in your room?  Not me.  

It's the extra floor space to play on, the picture that I can't believe was taken ten years ago.  Surely I have not been getting older, have I?  

It's movie nights in our room.  Because the only place you really want to watch a movie from is bed, right?  And it's Cars or Bob the Builder during Mommy's shower time.  Because, for the love of all that is fresh and clean, sometimes I just need to shower.  

It's this picture, taken the day I earned my teaching credential, three months before we were engaged.  It's these pieces of jewelry, which are now my favorite, and which seem to live piled up on the little table between the closet and bathroom doors.  

It's the secret space hiding behind our pillows that acts like a shelf and hides things that Danny won't find.  Like the clown doll that sucks its thumb that was mine when I was young enough to suck my thumb.  

It's the night stand that holds the lamp that's older than dirt and that I can't believe is still working.  My journal, given to me by a dear friend.  My Bible.  

These are the things that hold precious memories and restful times and romantic evenings and soft (and sometimes loud) mornings.  These are the things I don't want to forget.

November 25, 2011


Well, we did it! We cooked our first Thanksgiving dinner!  It was scrumptious, and it was SO MUCH FUN!  I really enjoy making a great meal.  I don't like the cooking part, so much, but I do love to put it on the table and call it mine.  

So around 2 p.m. (I know, a teensy bit late) I gathered all the ingredients for the five recipes I would be responsible for, and set to work.

My Mom hung out on the couch and entertained Danny by drinking 
wine from his straw cup, which was so thoughtfully served to her.

My family really needs to loosen up.  

Alejandro went to work preparing and baking the ham.

Meanwhile, I made the candied carrots.

My mom and step-dad brought home-made pumpkin pie

and the drinks.

Time passed, and I got impatient, therefore turning all of the subsequent pictures into horrible specimens of I'm-impatient-so-I'll-just-set-my-camera-on-auto-thereby-giving-everything-a-barfy-yellow-tint. 

I made the sweet potato casserole, 

ham gravy,

(I know! I'd never heard of ham gravy either!  
'Till I decided to invent it.  It was SO good!!)

green bean casserole, 

and mashed potatoes.  

The company was divine!

And finally,

it was time

to eat!

Every single recipe came out fantastic, so you can click here to see them all, or you can click on each one for the individual recipes.  :)  Enjoy!