March 30, 2011

21 Months

Dear Danilo,

This month you did so many new things that I wrote them down day by day so I could remember them all!

Our least favorite thing that you did was have lots and lots and lots of icky diapers and take us to the pediatrician 5 times, but at least now we know you are not allergic to anything common.  Well, ok we don't think you are.  I've been told that those test aren't fool-proof, so we'll keep monitoring your diet and your diapers and see.  In any case, your Papa and I are more thankful for solid poop right now than we ever envisioned we would be.  Anyway, that's enough potty talk for now.

Speaking of talking, you are quite the little talker now!  Earlier this month, you were enamored with socks, only you can't say the S yet so you kept saying, "Fffock!" with a spitting sound accompanying the F.  It was super cute and somehow wrong at the same time.

Ever since you said, "Doggie" to a dog... Everything is a doggie! One morning you saw a squirrel and a bird outside your window and you were completely enamored. You pointed back and forth to each of them and said, "Doggie! Doggie!"  

A week and a half ago (on the 18th) you held the ball at the breakfast table and said "My ball!" I'm not sure if you knew what you were saying, but if it was purposeful, it's the 1st time you put two words together. Since then you have also said, "Is doggie?" and "What's this?"

This is something else you did at the breakfast table.

You loaded your cereal in the back of your pick-up truck.

We laughed about it together.

You now walk up and down the stairs holding our hand and the wall. You will have none of the crawling stuff when it comes to stairs anymore. No sir-ee.

You imitate me a lot. Once this month I was drying our wok so you grabbed the small skillet that I let you play with and a towel and you started drying it too. Another day I was leaning against the edge of your crib with one leg crossed over the other and you came over and did the same thing.

You also love to imitate and help your Papa!

You love shoes. You love to put them on. You always get two shoes that match each other to wear and you usually put them on the right feet. You also love your  pacifier (still) and your stuffed friends.  Lots!

You kiss with your lips puckered making a smacking sound now. Once you saw Papa and I kissing long and you wanted to do it too. We decided not to kiss that way in front of you after that. But you give the very best little kisses with your lips all stuck out and puckered!

On the 16th you ran across your room and you jumped! You just did this little two foot jump right in front of your window. It was so cute!  Today when I told you to go tickle Papa, you got a stuffed animal and wiggled it into his face and neck like he does to you to tickle you.  Then you and Papa got me in a double tickle attack!  It was awesome!

The 18th you had a fever and you wanted to cuddle with me. You got your blanket and your pacifier and came to sit with me. Then you went and found another pacifier and brought it for me to suck on and you put it in my mouth.

Last Tuesday, when you were really sick, you were dirtying 4 or 5 diapers in an hour. Finally I just sat you on your potty seat to see if you'd go there. And guess what? You did!  You pooped on the potty for the first time! And then you signed that you were "all done."  Not that I expect it to happen again any time soon, but now you are comfortable with your potty seat and you sit there occasionally at bath time. You were pretty miserable that day, but you got lots of praise from us.

And on Saturday you climbed up onto the ledge of your window.  (It's like a window seat.) You don't like to get down by yourself, although you can, but climbing up and playing hide-and-go seek in the curtains is tons of fun for you!  Today you and Papa were watching squirrels and feeding them bread from your window.

Now that it's warming up, outside is one of your favorite places to be!

You LOVE LOVE LOVE Toby (our dog).  There isn't anymore fear or intimidation left between you two.  You play with him, call him, boss him, help Papa get his meals ready and feed him treats from your hand.  The two of you are quickly becoming great friends (and the best of all) you entertain each other!

Oh, and today, you hit 21 lbs 4 oz!  Yesssss!!!  You are officially not underweight for your car seat!

I love you and I'm proud of you, sweet boy.



March 27, 2011

I Haven't Fallen Off The Planet

It's been a week since Alejandro got home and I'm still wondering what on earth happened to all of my routine, organization, motivation and structure.  Oh yeah.  It went out the window.


So let's see...  Danny's been sick (he's had diarrhea) since Alejandro got home.  Ok, actually he's had excessively loose stools for the past I-don't-even-remember-how-long.  Months and months.  Add to that a tummy virus that he got last weekend and that's taken us to urgent care, the E.R., his pediatrician, and the lab twice.  He's being tested for allergies and all sorts of digestive problems and I'm really hoping we can get to the bottom of this.  He did a blood test (which he was very brave through - the nurses were so impressed that he actually smiled at them before leaving) and a stool sample (which I had the pleasure of collecting and taking to the lab.  Tomorrow he'll get an ultrasound at the bright early hour of 6:30 a.m.  Oh joy.  There aren't any foods that seem to help or worsen the situation, so I'm baffled and all sorts of scary possibilities are making their way into my problem-solving mind.

Anyway, hopefully by Wednesday we can start to get some answers.  I'm just ready for my little one to be fully healthy again.

Danny is still generally a really happy and obedient kid.  He just sometimes gets very cranky.  I've never had an almost-two-year-old before so I don't know if how he's acting is normal or not.  But my gut feeling (which I generally trust) is that he's more cranky than he would normally be if he weren't dealing with a health issue.

Let's see...  What else has been going on?

Some yummy recipes that I'm looking forward to sharing with you, including sushi and a blow-torch.

Also, Beth is hitting lots of obstacles.  That's to be expected - spiritual opposition, that is - but it's hard.  She was able to start a Mary Kay business (she collected money for a starter kit through sales) but she still needs a 2nd job.  Her boyfriend (who is no longer her boyfriend) hit her and her tire blew out on the same night last week and yesterday her daughter went to the E.R. with strep.  On the bright side, I'm incredibly impressed at her budding spiritual maturity, as she learns to listen to and seek God in her struggles.  She told her 9 year old daughter (who was mad at her) to quit screaming, look out the window and talk to God.  When her daughter asked sarcastically if that worked for her, she said, "Yes, actually it does, but you have to open your heart to Him and listen to what He's saying to you."  Simple truths will take us a long way sometimes.

What else...  Please pray and help us spread the word about Alejandro's work.  Do you know anyone who needs something fixed, built, remodeled, or painted?  Big or small, please send them our way.  We'd really appreciate it.

And my work...  Well, it's a battle of the mind.  I'm not sure if that makes sense to any of you at all.  My business is doing very well this month in terms of recruiting, but low in terms of selling and gaining customers.  God is really using me in the lives of the women I'm meeting, and I'm SO excited for what my team is doing and how they are growing personally!  Amidst all of the transitions at our house and Danny's health issues, and the fact that my schedule, routine, motivation and structure went out the window...  Well, my business always suffers when that happens.  The bottom line, though?  God is blessing the work I am doing.  He's working through my relationships with my team.  I'm a stay-at-home mom for my son.  Those are three huge things to be thankful for.

Alright, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I've become hopelessly addicted to Gray's Anatamy.  I know.  It's terrible.  Especially after all my talk about making sure what goes in is positive.  Garbage in, garbage out.  I've gotta' cut myself off.  It's part of what's making my structure go out the window.

And truth be told, it's sort of hard getting used to being back together.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm SO VERY GLAD Alejandro is home.  It's just a little challenging.  I re-learned how to do things so I'd thrive while he was gone.  Now I've gotta' undo all that re-learning.  So I'm re-re-learning. Amazing how many habits you can establish in only 10 weeks.

Our dog Toby is happy and healthy and barking at every squirrel and bird that passes by.

Spring is here and we are enjoying snatches of time outside when it's warm enough.  Yesterday we went to the park and built a fort in Danny's bedroom and watched Veggie Tales and played Legos inside it with him.

Oh!  And speaking of lack of structure!  I just realized what time it is and I have two ladies coming over for facials in an hour.  I guess I'd better get myself cleaned up and looking like a beauty consultant.  ;-)

March 21, 2011

On Being a Single Mom and the Last 48 Hours

The last 48 hours have been all about recuperation, rest, settling down, and getting better.

Half an hour after Alejandro and our dog, Toby, pulled into our driveway Saturday afternoon, we loaded ourselves into the car with snacks, blankets and pj's, prepared for a long evening and headed to Memorial Urgent Care. Danny had a persisting medium grade fever and was more lethargic than I've ever seen him. Kiddo's pretty high energy and all he wanted to do was sleep and cuddle.

At urgent care we ruled out RSV and strep, so now we're just waiting this thing out. Since we were there, I went ahead and checked in, too, to see if they could diagnose a sinus infection. They couldn't. At least not definitively. They did, however, send me home with a prescription for antibiotics, which should help, whether it turns out to be sinus or dental or both. Anyhow, Danny woke up yesterday without a fever, and I declared on Twitter that he was fine and that it must've been teething, but then yesterday afternoon, the fever came back and along with it, a nasty case of diarrhea.

So, our first full day together? Pajamas, church livestreamed online, movies, pedialyte, a few intermingled errands, and diapers. Lots and lots of diapers.

Alejandro and I did manage to get some quality time together after Danny went to bed, though. ;) And although having a sick one is no fun, it was sweet to be together. Now, Alejandro's outside working in the garage, Danny's asleep in my arms and I sit writing to you all from my phone.

The last 48 hours have been a mix of sweet and struggle, but it's getting better by the minute.

As I now attempt to undo everything I changed and adjusted in order to survive and thrive while Alejandro was away, I've been thinking about how I made it through two and a half months without him and how I did  pretty well (if I do say so myself). I want to share a few pieces of advice for women who suddenly find themselves as a single mom, either temporarily or permanently.

Before I share, though, I want to say this: I offer this advice with the utmost humility. I am certainly not any kind of expert. These are just a few things that made a big difference for me. Also, I had the unique opportunity to figure this stuff out WITHOUT the emotional trauma that most women who are suddenly single moms experience. I did not have to grieve the death of my husband. He did not remove his love from my life. I was not facing divorce or financial ruin. I wasn't worried about his injury or death on the battle lines. We got to visit several times while he was away and we were able to chat via phone or skype daily. I got to do this growing experience in the most ideal circumstances.

That said, here are six things that really helped me make it through, because despite all of that, it was NOT always easy.  Come to think of it, it would do me well to keep doing these six things, even now that he is home.  Anyhow, it's not by any means an exhaustive list, but I hope it helps.

1. Accept help.

I suck at accepting help. It took a total fall apart moment an hour and a half of crying and a stern lecture from my good friend Melissa before I quit resisting help.  All of the strongest godly leaders I know really struggle to ask for help.  Why is that?  For whatever reason, it seems to be true.  In any case, once I allowed the body of Christ to do what it's meant to do in my life, and step in and a lend hand, I struggled much less.  Amazing how that works.

2. Have a "Me day."

With all the things to do daily, taking time out for myself seemed lowest on the totem pole of priorities, but the truth is that if I went too long without some time to get away and have some time to myself, I was a worse mom anyway. You can't pour out from an empty bucket and a car can't drive with an empty tank of gas.  It's important to fill your own bucket and make sure your gas tank doesn't get to empty.

3. Get an Ergo.

Or whatever your favorite baby-carrier of choice is.  Mine is my Ergo.  I can't even tell you how many times this has saved me.  When Danny was sick and wouldn't let me put him down, I put him on my back and he hung out there while I worked in the kitchen.  When grocery shopping was only half done but Danny was DONE sitting in the shopping cart, I put him in the Ergo.  A good baby carrier is worth its weight in gold.

4.  Have a schedule and stop working when the schedule says to.

Moms and Mary Kay beauty consultants have no end to the amount of work they can get done, so it doesn't matter how early you start or how late you go, there will always be more to do.  So make a schedule.  A reasonable one.  Then follow it.  And STOP at the end of the day, and go to bed when it says to.  Simple enough, but doing this made a world of a difference in my ability to carry on the pace for long periods of time.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Pace yourself.

5.  As you figure this thing out, let some stuff go.

Something's gotta give, so once you figure out what is on the bottom of the totem pole, let it go and don't sweat it.  I'm not so great at this either.  (That's the understatement of the year.) For me, this time it was my diet and exercise.  There are just only so many things I can do well.  This time the diet and exercise was not one of them.  There will come a time when you'll be able to tackle whatever that thing is for you, but for now, cut yourself some slack and just let it go.

6.  Have a sanctuary.

And go to it.  Often.

March 18, 2011

Spring Snow

Spring snow (as opposed to snow in the dead of winter or even in the fall) is my favorite.  Waking up and looking out my window

to see the ground covered in a blanket of white

and each branch coated with its own sleeve of snow

just makes me smile.  

So this morning when the sun shone and made the snow-covered yard sparkle

I had to grab my camera

to see what I could capture

and grin

right after my cup of hot peach tea.

**1st 4 pics were taken a few weeks ago.  2nd 4 pics were taken this morning.

March 16, 2011

I Want To Open My Mouth. But How?

Since I posted about Beth the other night, I've been asked several times how I manage to get into such great conversations and get to the heart of an issue.  I think this is worth writing about, because I wondered the same thing not long ago.  Well, here's the answer, but be warned, it takes commitment and investment of yourself.

First, I read scripture daily.  Okay, I try to read scripture daily.  I mean, let's be honest.  I am so very human.  But the point is that I yearn to know Him deeper daily and getting in His Word is important to me.

Second, I surround myself with people who encourage me to share Christ with others and who praise me when I stretch toward my goals and dreams.  My friends, colleagues and family are all very much behind me in what I do.  This builds my confidence, which is a huge factor when the enemy would throw my fear in my face to keep me paralyzed.

Third, I started saying to the women who come into my life:  "I am committed to praying for my team members regularly, so I want you to know I am praying for you.  But I'd like to know if there is anything specific or hidden in your heart that you'd like me to pray about."  Then I just listen.  When someone shares a bit of something with me, I often ask more, or I simply say, "Tell me more about that."  Those five words will take a conversation a long way and women yearn to open their hearts and have someone truly listen.

Another thing:  I have started to pray regularly that God would help me to see my people and know their needs.  I am amazed at how my eyes have been opened when I pray this.

Lastly, in the midst of the conversation, I keep praying that the Holy Spirit guides my words.  There are times when God puts a thought in my head that I feel compelled to share and other times when He says, "Be quiet."  That happened a few times with Beth, when she just needed to process and hear Him.

Learning to hear the Lord's voice and follow His guiding is a spiritual discipline, and like other disciplines, it can (and must) be learned.  If you don't know how to hear His voice, think back to a time when you know God was speaking to you.  Think about what He was saying.  Sometimes He speaks through events, other peoples' words, or thoughts He places in your mind.  If you can think back to that time and remember what it felt like to hear His words, then you can keep looking and listening for more experiences like that.  Pray and ask the Lord to help you hear Him and clearly know when He is speaking to you.  Then when you think you hear Him, search the scriptures and make sure that what He is saying doesn't contradict his written Word.  If it does, it was not His voice you heard.

To many of you, this is basic stuff.  To others, it's new.  You (like me 3 or 4 years ago) have never been taught these basic disciplines.  The great news is that it's never to late to learn and an old dog can learn new tricks.

And now...  I'm off to count to eleven with my son.

A Little Note About Today

I am just full to the brim today. I know days like these don't happen every day, but when they do, I just want to bask in them.

Beth was just as open-mouth stunned today as I was. Her life has completely turned upside down (for the good) in the past 24 hours. This afternoon before handing her an envelope with $416 in it, I told her with a gleam in my eye that she had to tell me she wasn't going to work tonight. She asked me with a smile if it was a trick.

"Nope, not a trick," I said.

"Ok," she quietly murmurred, "I won't."

"Good, because this is to cover your bills for the rest of the month while we find new income for you," and I handed her an envelope.

"What?! How did you?! Renee!!"

"It wasn't me," I said and I explained.

She just couldn't say anything.

Aside from the fact that she's at home with her kids tonight, there were many other steps of progress we talked through, and she shared more of her story with me. She's still new in my life and even though you all don't know her real name, I don't want her to feel like her story is all over the Internet so I'm going to keep the rest private for now. I will just say that God orchestrated multiple people to make various things come together in different areas of her life, meeting multiple needs of hers.

She is BEYOND WORDS GRATEFUL. So on her behalf, THANK YOU!!!!

As for Danny and I, we hung out at home the rest of today. I'm dealing with a massive sinus headache and hoping it's not an infection, but that's hardly affecting my mood on a day like this.

Oh and guess what else?! (I know! There's MORE!) Friday night, my husband will be pulling into our driveway with the dog and the Jeep for GOOD! We are both SO excited that after 2 1/2 months away, he's headed home. No wild plans for the weekend, but that is of course, exactly what we're both looking forward to.

I miss this goofy guy like crazy.

So, would you all please continue to pray for us? Pray for Beth and courage. For Alejandro and a safe drive home. For me and this sinus headache and for God's leading as I mentor Beth. For Danny's continued health and growth in knowledge of Jesus.  Thank you friends, for walking through this with me.


March 14, 2011



I wish I could somehow convey the open-mouth feeling I have right now.  Apparently God had this one covered before I even asked, because 20 minutes after I posted this, all $416 came in from one person.  God is out-of-control amazing.  That's all I can say right now.  :-O

Original Post:  

I want to tell you about a new friend of mine.  We'll call her Beth.  Beth came to me by way of my Mary Kay business, but God has been working to guide her my direction for a long time.  Beth is a single mom of three.  She has a 9, 11 and 13 year old.  Two girls and a boy in the middle.  Beth dances for a living.  Yes, that kind of dancing.  For a living.  Because it's all she has.  Attempted suicide, drugs, alcohol, abuse, hurt, shame and God-knows-what-else are a part of her past -- her recent past.

Tonight, Beth drew a line in the sand.  Tonight she broke down and surrendered.  Two hours ago, she shed tears along with the shedding of her guilt, her past, her sin, and her stain.  Two hours ago, Beth gave her life to the Lord and received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

After she hugged me tightly, dried her eyes and we made a plan for tomorrow, including lunch with me so we can talk about what's next, she walked out the door with a new glow.  I've only ever seen that new shining glow on one other person's face in my life, and that was my husband's after he gave his life to the Lord.  The visible difference seen in someone who has just received Salvation is a sight to be seen!

Here's the thing.  Beth needs a small miracle.  She needs $416 to cover her bills for the rest of this month, while we figure out another source of income for her.  She has already received a notice of shut-off from the electric company and her cell phone (her only phone) is days from being shut off as well.  She is scheduled to work tomorrow night.  This precious new daughter of Christ is so new in her faith.  She fiercely desperately longs to quit dancing for a living.  She MUST quit dancing for a living.

Can we step in and support a single mom and sweet gentle-hearted new sister in Christ who has radical life transformational work ahead of her?

I am going to see her tomorrow for lunch at 1p.m.  I pray it will be the first of many many lunches as she turns her life around.  I want to be able to give her what she needs so that she can quit her job and show her children a new way.  Will you prayerfully consider helping me hand her $416 tomorrow at 1 p.m.?  Will you email, text, tweet and message everyone you know and spread the word?

Would you also please commit her to prayer?  Pray that she learns to hear God's voice and to follow His leading.  Pray for COURAGE (her personal request) to make the hard decisions ahead of her.  Pray that Jesus continually reminds her how much he loves and adores her and that her shame has been washed away.

This is important.  This is REALLY important.  Thanks you guys!


March 12, 2011


When my son comes to me for help, I often sneak in a kiss, and if he'll linger long enough I usually steal a hug and give him a good tickle too.

A while back I read a post by Sarah over at about how many kids get no more than eleven seconds of eye contact with their parents each day. Ever since then, occasionally I will grab Danny's cheeks, pull his face in two inches from mine, stare deeply into his twinkling eyes and count to eleven. Inevitably by the time I get to 5, he's giggling, and I rarely get to 9 without a knot in my throat. I love that boy so much it hurts. Counting to eleven at our house has come to mean, {I love you higher than the heavens, deeper than the oceans, and more than life itself}.

There are LOTS of times when Danny and I are together. Indeed, most days we are together 24/7. But we're both pretty busy little bodies, always occupied by something. It's easy to spend a whole morning occupied with his activities and mine without ever really spending quality time just loving on each other. Then he'll come interrupt the all important thing I was doing (not) and ask for help putting on a shoe or taking apart Lego pieces and I'll realize that right at that moment I REALLY needed to give him a good squeeze.

I do that with my Lord WAY too often. I go about my daily business, taking for granted that He's by my side and forgetting to look fully into His face. Then I need help putting myself together or taking apart something I'm stuck on and He so graciously helps me. Then He pulls me close to steal a kiss, to hold me for a moment, and to get me laughing with a good tickle.

In that moment I realize I've forgotten that He wants so much more than to just be by my side. He wants to be "all up in my business." He wants to talk about every decision. He wants to help me make a mess and clean it up. He wants to stare into my face and count to eleven, or as high as it takes to get us both laughing or crying or both.

Lord, help me to remember today that the most important moments are the ones just counting to eleven.



Cuando mi hijo me busca para ayuda, frequentamente le robo un besito y si se queda por más tiempo antes de ir a jugar, le doy un ataque de cosquillas y abrazos también.

March 11, 2011

This Might Be Getting Redundant.

We spent another afternoon having lunch and playing on our front porch today. 

I realize this is the third post in two days with pictures of Danny on the porch. 

But It's March.  And it's sunny and warm.  And we were outside.  

So it's totally not my fault that I felt compelled to take a picture every 30 
seconds we were there.  Plus, you know, he's so cute.  So I can't help it.  
He started playing with my cup of water.  

Then he went inside and got a rag from the kitchen.

So he could clean the front porch.

You can't make this stuff up.

He cleaned the storm door.

And then he poured it all over himself.

So we did the only logical thing.

Strip him.

And put the cup on his head.

Isn't that what you would do if you spilled water? 
It's a good thing he's not shy.

It was a great afternoon.

{A Hint Of Heaven}

This is the third day in a row we've had lunch on the front porch.

March 10, 2011

This Afternoon

We enjoyed a pretty normal day today.  We woke up an hour late, had breakfast, I showered while he played and then we headed out to do errands.  It was gorgeous outside.  (Thank you God for that little birthday present.) So we headed out to play on the porch for a half hour.  

I rolled up the sleeves of his cute little button-up.

He played with twigs.

And leaves.

And rocks.

And dirt.

And he watched airplanes through the blinding sun.

We just enjoyed the sun on a lazy birthday afternoon.