Te amo!

If Wednesday was Color and yesterday was Faces… Today was Abrazos y Besos (hugs and kisses)!!
The kids have been just drinking us up since the beginning but today was just the explosion of love now that they are truly comfortable with us and we have reinforced our love by returning a second day. The hugged hello, hugged adios, and hugged just to hug. Kisses on the cheek from the bravest and I said “te amo,” as many times as I could. And I got it back too. Little Jennifer Nicole – a six year old charmer – gave me a big hug and I lifted her up and whispered “te amo” in her ear. She squealed back, “I love you also so, so much!” And Karina… One of the young teenage girls. She drew my heart immediately with her sweet beauty and shy, quiet, attentive smile. She’s hung back a bit, but always participating if a bit tentatively. By the end of vbs today she warmed up to ask me to take her photo and told me about her cousin who had come also. Then right as we were leaving for the day, she tapped my shoulder and said, “I love you,” in English as she made a heart sign with her hands over her heart. It chokes me up just to write it.
Unfortunately our plans have changed a little. We were supposed to spend one day at the beach to unwind and process all we have seen and heard. Unfortunately though the whole village it seems like will be gone for most of the day on Sunday. They do have a night church service but it is not safe for us to be at the village after dark. So we are leaving for the beach a day early. I’m sure it will be quite enjoyable but I would so much rather stay in Cebu and I think everyone would agree. I don’t say that with pride to show you what a saint I am. I say it to God’s glory. He has laced my heart irrevocably to the village of Cebu. My mind is just beginning to roll around a vision for the future. Pray for us as we build this long term partnership.
So tomorrow is the last day in Cebu. Pray that our message will be not “adios” but “hasta la vista.”

Abrazos y besos,
Alanna

Dia 1

How in the world to begin? My heart is full and my mind is bursting with experiences and sights I want to share but there is so much I literally cannot think how to start.
Wednesday was a day of colors. I decided on the drive that it is the color pallet which is so familiar. It’s crazy how colors can be so completely different from country to country. God is amazing. He painted Honduras with the same pallet He used with southern Brazil. So many greens… The same bright pigments splashed across the same plastered cinderblock houses. All the colors glow with a golden yellow undertone. Yet… Everything is veiled with a saturation of grey. The dust and the heat are literally a visible coating on everything.
The palm groves. I have never seen anything like them and there is no way a photo or my words could convey what they are truly like. Perfect rows of 50′ trees fall in straight line. Beneath the connected leaves it is dark and still… The rows of trees extending as far as you can see. Stately and beautiful, imposing yet intriguing. One end of Cebu just seems to slowly melt into the groves. Most of the people of Cebu are gleaners of sorts. They comb of the forest for palm nuts left by the plantation workers. This they can sell for an average daily income of $2-3.
Faces – yesterday was faces. The nervous yet excited children waiting for us to arrive. Five minutes later their joyful smiles as they sang for us. Their wide open eyes and eager expressions for each new activity at vacation Bible school. The careful watch of the line of faces at the school window… Parents and older siblings and aunts and uncles. Slowly drinking in our words, as attentive as the children. Curious faces of all the residents watching us everywhere we went… And breaking into broad smiles in response to ours. The slightly overwhelmed face and slow, small smile of Karen the teeny one who grabbed my heart at afternoon vbs.
My heart is so full. It feels at home. Back to my heart’s calling. God is good… All the time. Just as I sang with the brilliantly intelligent and talented dreamer I met and had an impromptu jam session with last night.
So much more. I’ve got to hold it all in my heart til I have time to record it all.
Besos y abrazos,
Alanna

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Me with baby Eileen.

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Singing Padre Abrám… Father Abraham.

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Palm grove.

Bienvenidos!

¡Hola amigos! First post from Honduras. The day started verrrry early; we gathered at the church at 3:30 am. I was SO not awake. It’s crazy to me that even with the early start we are already arrived, lunched, checked in at our hotel, and ready yo head out to the village and it’s not even been 24 hours yet! Every time I’ve been out of the country it’s taken at least a day just to get to the destination.
Anyways, here’s my first view of Honduras (from the plane).

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The terrain is much like I’ve seen in Brazil… But yet it’s still so strikingly different. I’ll try to get some more pictures on my phone this afternoon because it’s just hard to put into words.
All for now… We are ready to head to Cebu! My heart is so excited! Here I am, Lord. I have heard You calling in the night. I will hold Your people in my heart.

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You Can’t Hold It

Through my dear friend Brenda, I’m privileged to know singer/songwriter Myla Smith. Besides been ridiculously talented, she’s a bubbly, sweet person who’s great fun to be around. She just released her latest music video, which is awesome. She had asked if I would be an extra in it, but sadly I couldn’t the day they were filming. I’m bummed because it’s totally awesome. Check it out:

Weekend with Mumsy!

Sorry it’s been so long! My mom visited this weekend… I was out of commission with regards to internet for the most part. Just enjoying mother-daughter time! 🙂 Unfortunately I forgot about Instagram-ing everything after the first day, but sometimes it’s just good to be in the moment and enjoy. So here goes a recap…

She arrived Friday afternoon and after lunch we headed to the Mud Island Riverpark. It’s one of my favorite places in Memphis. It’s actually on an island in the Missippi and the park holds a scale model of the riverbed – from its beginning in the North to the Gulf of Mexico (represented by a large pond in which you can ride paddle boats!). Along the way, the major cities are laid out in slate tiles, with metal showing roads.

Memphis is larger than the scale of the river and it’s fun to find all the places I know. Mom and I even snuck in a quick visit to Graceland (which, by the way, I have never visited, even after 4 years – too expensive!):

It was a hot day (like pretty much every summer day here) but there was a lovely breeze and we waded through the “river.” There are such lovely views from the island: downtown, the forested Arkansas banks across the way… and the famous TN-AR ‘M’ for Memphis bridge. Or is it only famous to people who live here?

The river is still pretty high from the flooding in April and May – I never actually joined the thousands of Memphians who went down to gawk at the flooding (and I kinda regret it). It was amazing to see the high water mark. I couldn’t even fathom that much water. It went from a width of 1 mile to 3 miles. We spent awhile dangling our feet in the pond and wading some more, then headed to the inhabited part of the island. It’s a planned community – a subject which my brother the architect could tell you way more than I can – but what I know is it means is pretty much the most adorable community in Memphis. I would SO live there if it weren’t far away from everything in my life.

I mean, how cute is that? It’s got such French Quarter feel, without the dinginess and drunk people of Bourbon Street. There’s a quaint, little grocery store where we split a [very large] sandwich, The Parisian: brie, ham, apples, and mustard on a croissant. NOM!


During dinner I had a scathingly brilliant idea to go to Seize the Clay, an independent and very awesome paint your own pottery place. We collaborated on a gift for some very special friends. Since I link to the blog from Facebook, I won’t post a finished product. Never know who clicks through! But here’s a couple ‘in process’ pics…

Our color scheme! Which reminds me… I still haven’t picked it up! Oops. Gotta run errands this afternoon, so I’ll add that to the list. It’s soooo much fun to pick up the finished piece and see how awesome it looks glazed and fired. Can’t wait!

My beautiful, sweet Mumsy! Several people actually thought she was my sister at church on Sunday. No one believes she’s old enough to be a grandma! Which is good news for me… we pretty much look exactly alike so I have a great future ahead of me. If I take care of myself, that is.

After this, as I mentioned, I forgot about taking photos. I kinda wish I’d taken some more, but I have loads of good memories of sweet times with my mama. Perhaps that’s best overall. No fussing about pausing for a picture, just enjoying the time together.

Love you mumsy! And happy early birthday!
xoxo
Alanna

Under the sea!

Earlier this week I made a Goodwill trip and SCORED! Originally the intent was to pick up some skirts to wear in Honduras next week. But, of course, I liked everything I bought and only one of the skirts will be packed for the trip. I plan to just toss in some of my older skirts I already have. As a side note: pants and knee-length bermudas are allowed, but I personally find skirts much cooler (and cuter)! Anyway, I picked up this lovely green linen skirt from Zara for $4! It seems barely worn AND it has pockets! Love me some pockets. Immediately I knew that it was time for another Princess Project post. Can you guess which princess inspired my look? Yep – Ariel!

I think it’s pretty good, don’t you? I couldn’t get a good full length shot. I think I’m going to have to break down and ask someone to help me with outfit pictures, or figure out how to get a good timer shot. Anyway, my sister requested I post a picture of the inspiration princess, so here is one of Ariel:

 via Disneywiki

So there you have it. Me as the Little Mermaid! Or… inspired by the Little Mermaid. 🙂

xoxo
Alanna

Days 8 + 9

Ooops. Didn’t realize I hadn’t posted yesterday’s prompt. I finished it kinda late, though, so makes sense. Ooooh… and I had an interview this morning for the job I really want! It went very well… I should hear about their decision in 3-4 days. He said I was “very poised.” *preens* Hahaha. That means I wasn’t too distracted by the fact that his shirt perfectly matched the wall (warm golden-yellow). It was almost like you could see the wall between the lapels of his jacket. Anyways, on to the art journal pages:

Day 8 – What would you put in a time capsule?

Obviously I wouldn’t put some of these things into a time capsule (hello? Whom would I sleep with without Curly?), but this was a “stretch your imagination” prompt. But these are great items to give a sense of my 2011 life to my descendants in 100 years time! Whom, apparently will have awesome hair-dos à la my Uncle Mark’s book Moog-Moog, Space Barber.

  Day 9 – Completely fill your page with something random. Leave your pen in your desk today and find beauty in the everyday random things around you.

I’ve never done much with mixed media journaling, but, um… IN LOVE. This is so cool because this prompt actually fits in very well for the vision for my (coming soon) Etsy shop. I actually feel like this page is very expressive of my life right now. My fav prompt so far.

That’s it for now… mi madre is coming tomorrow for a visit (!!!!!) and I need to do a little organizing/cleaning. And clean the major art journaling mess off my bed!

xoxo
Alanna

PSA: Sun Safety

Please bear with me as I take my stand on a soapbox for a brief moment, but I do hope you’ll read this and think about it.

That’s my Uncle Ken… and the cute little bean? Yours truly, around age 2. Ken’s my mom’s oldest brother (she’s in the middle of four boys). He was a successful surgeon, a kind and gentle man. Husband to a beloved wife and dad to two young boys. He doted on me, not having any little girls of his own. It appears I loved my uncle, too, from this photo. Unfortunately, I only know all this because my mom has told me.

You see, in this photo Uncle Ken is dying.

I never got to know this sweet man. He died of melanoma when I was about 2-and-a-half, just six months after my grandpa (his dad) died of lung cancer. I don’t know if Ken’s melanoma was directly caused by sun exposure, but it is definitely the Killer you invite when you bake in the sun (Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring) without protection. It started out small but by the time Ken found out it was too late. He didn’t even go through treatment because as a doctor he knew it would not help.

You are a beautiful and unique gift. PLEASE, do not risk robbing your loved ones of the gift you are.

Neutrogena spray sunblock has been my new BFF this summer. SO easy to apply evenly (and to hard-to-reach places!) and it’s not heavy or greasy. One thing I’m not good about is putting it on my hands and arms when I’m driving. Pool and beach time aren’t the only times you should protect yourself, y’all! I know some people worry about the chemicals in sunblock. Would you consider a nice brimmed hat (they’re so in style right now), staying in the shade, and avoiding the intense mid-day sun (all great along with sunblock, too)? A “glowing tan” is so not worth the potential to really pay for it later. And skin cancer is NOT the only risk from the sun! I have totally embraced my fair, Snow White complexion (which is good, because I couldn’t be tan if I wanted to). So, y’all, say it with me:

PALE IS THE NEW TAN!

And if you really want that summer skin, there are great tinted lotions, bronzers, etc. Please protect yourself!

xoxo
Alanna

Life Lately: Instagram Style

I don’t believe I mentioned yet how big a fan I am of the iPhone app Instagram. Haha. 🙂 Seriously, my life was sadly deprived before I downloaded this. I have been taking pictures like mad the past few days! Want a glimpse of my life lately via Instagram? Read on, Lizzy! <– Kudos to you if you know that quote.

The kitties love the windows at the condo… nice and low with wide sills! Lu especially can often be found here. She likes to stretch out and snooze. It’s so cute because she’s got a little extra chub and her belly hangs off the windowsill!

 They also enjoy the fact that I put my wicker craft cabinet right by the bed… they can get up there and look down on me. Charlie likes to play “bat the fingers” with me. Oh my four-year-old kitty may be a grownup in cat years, but he’s still a kitten at heart [FYI, this is not Charlie in the pic, though].

It’s as hot as h-e-double hockey sticks, so Sunday afternoon, M. and I along with some friends had some quality time with the pool. The water is cool… ish. It won’t be long before it’s lukewarm and not refreshing anymore. Ugh… summertime is the season where I sometimes have regrets about living in the South. It’s so STINKIN’ HOTTTTTT.

Yesterday I saw this Lilly Pulitzer jeep. Completely floral. The tire cover said Lilly Pulitzer and the name of a store, which I’m assuming sells LP stuff. And, mom, I was at a red light. Not moving. 🙂 Anyway, I would never drive this but still I thought it was kind of awesome.

I love my naturally curly hair for many reasons, but one of them is that it is so easy to put up. A necessity in this hot weather. All I do is start pinning and I end up with this awesome twisty mess of curls. And a cool neck.

Some awesome, sweet church friends gave me their bread machine and I am SO delighted. I made the first batch last night and it turned out perfectly. M. wanted to go on a walk after work last night so we did an M.-style walk: go to the nearby snobby shopping area and window shop. We went into White House | Black Market, Ann Taylor, etc. and sampled tea from Teavana. When we arrived home, we’d forgotten about the bread. We took one step inside the house, breathed in, looked at each other, and “AAAAAAH!” We had bread and butter for dessert.

So there y’all go. Hope Summer is treating you well and you aren’t melting in the heat!

xoxo
Alanna

Day 7 – My Beautiful Friend Cat


Day 7 – Write a love letter to someone…

I actually had trouble with this one. I drew the envelope and stationery early in the day but absolutely could not decide on my recipient. I have so many people in my life who are amazing. Words are pretty important to me so I like to affirm my friends and family. Finally I asked M. (my roomie) and she suggested I think of someone who might need some words of affirmation. I immediately thought of my friend Cat from church. She is absolutely a ray of sunshine. I have seen her face a lot of heavy burdens and trials, not only with perseverance but also joy. I know I will never be with her without being blessed! I am so privileged to know her. So here’s to you, Cat! LOVE YOU! And I’m going to come do nothing with you before the week is over. Promise.

xoxo
Alanna