2012 Spring Fling!

AllGloriousWithin I participated in the 2012 Spring Fling hosted by Erin and L! I was paired with the fabulous Evanne to exchange packages of encouragement with the rule that we must send each other flip-flops! I love sending packages of goodies to people so this was so much fun. In addition, I got to meet another sweet blogger friend. Evanne has a fun blog with a mix of craftiness, DIY, fashion, and life. I can tell she has a strong passion for life and a bubbly personality. Please go check out her blog; I highly recommend it!

And… it was a pretty good deal for me on the receiving end. Look at the wonderful contents of my package from Evanne!

Adorable giraffe-print flip-flops (with an added bow!); personalized mini-pail (holding some of the ribbons that had adorned some of the items); two spring nail polish colors; the mini Smashbook (more on that later); feather earrings from Evanne’s shop; little bird earrings, tabs for the Smashbook; a blue wood bangle (and it actually fits my thin hands and wrist!); cute post-its and notepad; and a pretty card with a sweet message.

I have to show you close-ups of the pretty earrings:

Aren’t they both beautiful? You really should check out Evanne’s shop; in addition to fun feather earrings, she has many other beautiful pieces. Also make sure to check out all the other participants and their fun packages!

I’m so glad I got to participate! It truly was so much fun to pick things out and pack up Evanne’s package. And I’m not going to lie: receiving her package was pretty great, too! I have found great contentment and peace in my financial situation this past year and of course I don’t think that “stuff” means happiness. That being sad, I’m like any girl and pretty new things put a smile on my face. It was great to receive the package just as I was starting my new job. It felt like a celebration of the difficult year past and the new beginnings! Thank you, Evanne, for the thought you put into everything!

xoxo,
Alanna

P.S. I found a great online, FREE photo editor – iPiccy.com! All the photos in this post were edited using iPiccy. And, no, they didn’t pay me to say that, I just wanted to share this with you!

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Once Upon a Time: Personality

Gratuitous cute pic of baby me – look at that enormous forehead!

I know the whole reputation of “terrible twos,” but, really, toddlerhood is one of my favorite ages. The blooming of a little person: exploration of their world, exploding verbal skills, learning to pretend and to be funny, and establishing a personality. All of the kids I’ve watched this past year are within a few months of each other. My nephew is nearly 2, and I have several good friends with toddlers. It’s so fun to see how crazy-different and how strong these little people’s personalities are!

My parents have told me many stories of how early many parts of my personality and tastes appeared. And if I look back to early, preschool memories and feelings, I can see the strong thread of Me all along.

  • I think I was 18 months old, or younger, when my mom saw me line up all my Fisher Price Little People on the edge of bathtub facing me… in age order from grandma to the baby. Yep, an organizer from the beginning.
  • I have always been a touchy, affectionate person; I can remember finding my way into every houseguest’s lap by the end of their visit.
  • I used to iron my doll clothes. For fun. Yeahhhh… that’s actually one I’ve outgrown!
  • Always the fashionista, I was just as happy to wear my tutu and leotard or dig in the dress-up box for daily wear.
  • On a visit to my grandparents before I could walk, I crawled away unseen and was finally found sitting in my grandma’s closet, sucking my thumb, cooing, and stroking all her long dresses hanging down around me. I still often unconsciously reach my hand out to touch and stroke clothes as I walk through a department store. Color and texture (and clothes!) have always fascinated me.
  • Anytime a new American Girl or J.C. Penney catalogue arrived, I couldn’t wait to look through every page with someone. I didn’t want to just look at the pretty things, I wanted to discuss everything. My patient mom spent a lot of time debating which shower curtain on a particular page was her favorite (yeah, I mean the whole JCP catalogue – I was in to decorating even then!). It was never a question whether I was an extravert or not.
  • My tender heart was easily manipulated by my family. It wasn’t uncommon that I would “sorry” myself instead of a family member when we played Sorry! I couldn’t bear to send someone back to the beginning. And I’d like to point out that they certainly took advantage of this play-pouting any time I tried to do it! To be honest, I still have some level of anxiety with competitive games; I’m normal and don’t like to lose, but winning makes me guilty.
  • I can remember how much I loved the magical days when a bath, clean jammies, and clean sheets all happened on the same night. It was such a wonderful feeling of CLEAN.
  • I have never been a morning person. On Sundays, my dad used to come into my room and make my dresses dance around and talk to me, competing to see which one I’d choose to wear to church. Eventually I’d start to laugh and join in, but without that I think I was a dreadful grumpy bear.
  • I can remember playing a game with my Playmobils where I would organize them on the floor into massive family trees (and yes, that was it). People, relationships, and organization. šŸ™‚
  • Although I knew my stuffed animals were just fake fur and polyester filling, I couldn’t bear to say which one was my favorite. I just couldn’t risk hurting their feelings. It still doesn’t take much for me to impute feelings to animals and objects!

What about you? Did you have a personality that showed itself early on? Do you remember things which you know can see as “you”? Have your parents told you stories?

xoxo,
Alanna

A dream that will need all the love you can give

“April showers bring May flowers,” so the saying goes. April 2011 certainly brought more than showers… a seeming monsoon in the form of being fired from my job (although I soon realized that rain can be a good thing). In terms of employment, it took a full year of rain for those May flowers to bloom. Here I am, May 2012, just over one year from being fired, and one week into a job I didn’t imagine filling 365 days ago, but one I am now incredibly thrilled to have.

I’m a nanny. I’ve mentioned that one of the ways I’ve stayed afloat this year is short-term and part-time nannying. But now it’s turning full-time. I am taking over for one of my closest friends as she steps down from her nanny position to have her own baby. My new charge is “almost two,” as he’ll tell you. I couldn’t ask for a sweeter, cuter, more enjoyable little companion. The family is wonderful and I feel so blessed to have such great employers (it feels weird to call them such a former title). May and June are transition months, as A and I work together to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Days are filled with trips to playgrounds and parks, finger painting, snack-eating, and playing ball of any kind. Singing songs and pretending. There’s a carseat installed in my car. It’s not where I imagined God would take me after this year of pondering and praying over my future. But let me tell you, it is 100%Ā right and I truly could not be happier. I honestly couldn’t imagine anymore going back to an office job. Maybe some day again, but for now I find this a million times better! I guess the Father does know best, doesn’t He?

For obvious reasons of privacy and safety, my little buddy won’t be appearing on the blog, nor will my job be much of a central topic. But as I’ve shared some of the trials and blessings of this past year with you, I wanted to tell you this great joy! I kept having moments last week where I reminded myself just what amazing things God has done and I felt giddy. I had almost stopped believing that my life would have an upswing and yet now I’m back with a steady salary and making plans and dreams again.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. – Psalm 40:1-3

xoxo,
Alanna

P.S. Gold star to you if you know why I picked the title of this post.

Road trip

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Yesterday morning, after catering two nights in a row (the second a two course meal plated and served for 150 people – that’s vs a buffet), I started out on a road trip. Six states, 650 miles, and 11 hours. All by myself. It was hard.

But it was worth it. I would do it again. For this reward:

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Finally, FINALLY having my precious, scrumptious little niece in my arms. It’s been a hard wait… Since Valentine’s Day. Y’all. She is just the cutest baby girl ever. Gorgeous blue eyes and expressive eyebrows. Rolls upon rolls of chub I just want to eat up.
xoxo,
Aunt Boo*

*my family nickname was Boo when I was little, so starting with my 20 month old nephew I’ve been trying to establish this as my name.

April 12 on 12

Do you remember the 12 on 12 post from last month? It’s that time again: time to take 12 photos on the 12th of the month. Well, actually, obviously that time is past. So here is my yesterday condensed to twelve Instagrams!

L-R: work out clothes with running shoes already shed after a 3.69 mile run; trying to be good lately about taking my vitamin every day; a trip to the most addicting store on the planet

L-R: twirling my rainbow skirt – it’s full and just begs to be twirled; smoothie time! – 1 whole gala apple, plus frozen strawberries, plus pineapple, plus vanilla yogurt, plus kids’ juice (a little weaker); side pony!

L-R: I promise this looked better before I saved it! The night sky – one of my favorite colors ever (if you look close there’s two stars – I think I must have accidentally changed the filter because it really was more obviously sky); a box of tiles ready for me to paint Scripture on Right Focus Designs; a little grooming for Lucy – she loves it!

L-R: Lucy saying, “I love you,” by making biscuits on my leg… and I think it’s time for a claw-clipping because it hurt!; Scripture card bookmark; the last thing I do before turning out the light: lip balm and hand lotion!

Yesterday wasn’t a particularly interesting day. I stayed at home for the most part. But that’s what this project is all about: capturing your day, no matter what it holds! Hope you enjoyed this little peek into my life.

xoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time: Books!

This week’s OUaT post is inspired by these thoughts from Gussy Sews. Just like her family, one of our common loves is a passion for books. Luckily both my brother-in-law and sister-in-law enjoy reading as much as the rest of us, or I predict they’d be pretty left out! Both my niece (2 mos.) and nephew (20 mos.) have growing libraries – in fact my sister had a book shower for my niece. I think it’s an awesome idea… tucking it away for my future progeny.

A large part of my childhood memories of free time are those spent with a book. Curled on the couch, or perhaps “hot-sitting” – my siblings’ and my term for sitting on a floor heating vent with a blanket. One of the best things my parents did for us in regards to reading, was to only ever limit our book choices for content. I only ever remember being told I couldn’t read a book because it had themes or situations inappropriate for my age, but never because, “that’s too big a book for you.” In fact, I can remember the deep indignation I felt whenever I discovered I’d read the abridged version of a book – what had I missed?

My family didn’t just enjoy books individually, though. Some of my best and favorite reading memories are those when my mom read aloud. Every single morning, after Bible study, before we got going with schoolwork, mom would read a few chapters from a book. Sometimes it was a story from the particular era we were studying in history, sometimes it was a classic she wanted to introduce us to, and sometimes it was one we had picked out. As we listened, we occupied our fingers… my brotherĀ alwaysĀ drawing, while my sister and I either drew or worked on cross-stich.

This tradition only stopped when my brother left for college… when I was sixteen turning seventeen. I still love to hear people read aloud, although that isn’t an opportunity grown-ups get very often.

My mom picked the picture at the top when I requested a reading photo from her (she always gets a OUaT preview because I always have to apply to her for old photos). That’s from March 1992. I was 6.5, practicing my reading with a Bible story book we still have – I like to think that some day grandma and grandpa will introduce the stories of God’s people to my little ones from that same book.

A funny anecdote about the photo (besides the fact that, yes, I’m wearing the prairie dress): I think it’s probably taken not too long after my mom got her shoulder-length hair cut and permed. I don’t remember this, but apparently when she arrived home, I took one look at her, burst into tears and exclaimed, “You don’t look like my mama anymore!” Poor mom. I’m sorry! I think you looked lovely and it was in fact more flattering than the longer hair was!

What about you? What’s your history with books?

xoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time: Where are you from?

When I meet new people, inevitably the question comes, “so where are you from?” Occasionally it’s worded, “So… are you from Memphis originally?” but that’s usually with some hesitation in the voice. It’s pretty obvious from the moment I open my mouth that I’m not a born-and-bred Memphian. I may have added some Southernisms to my speech in the last few years, but I sure don’t have the accent.

I actually never know how to respond. Sometimes I just say, “I moved here from Pennsylvania,” if it’s just a passing conversation. Often, though, I respond with the more complex answer, because, frankly, I really am not from anywhere. So this week’s Once Upon a Time is a little peek into my geographic history.

1. I was born in Portland, OR. I wish I remembered more of it, because I know it is a fabulous city. I haven’t been back since I was about 14 or 15. I guess, if anywhere, this is where I’m from. My parents are both Californians and I think that if there’s any geographical influence in my life, it’s probably West Coast.

2. My dad has always worked for the church, but when I was 5.5 we moved across country to Richmond, VA, so he could go to seminary to become a pastor. Richmond was a fabulous place to be a homeschooling family. Again, my memories of the city itself are vague, but I can recall many fun trips to DC and to surrounding historical sites. Colonial Williamsburg, plantations, Civil War reenactments. It didn’t matter here where we were from because everyone at the seminary was from somewhere different – even around the world.

3. My dad’s first church was in a little town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We lived a few blocks from Green Bay, and I have lots of memories walking down to the street along the bay with my family. The best beach for swimming was a few minutes’ drive away. I was very happy here… the queen bee of my group of homeschooling girlfriends and enjoying the attention of being a pastor’s kid (I may or may not have been a bit of an attention-seeking child). We arrived here when I was almost 8, and left the summer I turned 13.

4. The small town near Pittsburgh, PA, is place where I lived longest (9 years). You might think this would be the place I name as where I’m from, but this town and the one in MI are places where you’re not from there unless you’re really from there. Attending the local school from kindergarten on up, spending Friday nights at the highschool football games, marking the summer with the annual festivals. Grandparents living closeby and knowing who formerly lived in which old house. It’s not that we didn’t join in to the town life, we just weren’t complete, tried-and-true locals! Being a pastor’s family always sets you apart a little. I went to college just an hour away. I really did love living here and this is probably the place I’d say I “grew up.” 13-21 is a pretty important life chapter.

5. Finally Memphis! I moved here a few months after my college graduation (in fact I signed my lease on my 22 birthday). It was supposed to be a short, two-year adventure with A., my roomie-since-freshman-year. She had a commitment to the teaching program she entered and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life so I came along. Fast forward 4.5 years. We’ve both fallen in love with the city and are nurturing ever-deepening roots (she’s married!). Without a doubt, Memphis is my home town.

So now you see why I never have a simple answer for the “where are you from?” question. I guess for me it’s a little easier to look at other influences to respond to the query. I am from my parents, from my sister and my brother. I am from homeschooling. I am from books and history and imagination. I am from love and faith. I am from the family of God.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.Ā For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ~ Romans 8:14 & 15

So where are YOU from? How do you respond to that question?

xoxo,
Alanna

Daily Dozen: 12 on 12

Hi friends! You know I like a fun photo challenge, especially when I can use my beloved Instagram. I’m joining Elizabeth Kartchner of Dear Lizzy with the Daily Dozen: 12 on 12. That’s 12 photos of taken during the day on the 12th of each month (or maybe the official rules don’t include every month, but those are MY rules). I’m hoping I’ll remember every month from now on. Oooh… need to set myself a reminder on my phone. On to what you really care about, photos of my intensely thrilling day yesterday!

l-r: Cats enjoying morning sunshine; Cheerios breakfast (I live on the edge); lying on my yoga mat doing leg exercises

l-r: getting my vehicle inspected (please note that’s pronounce VEE-hickle); I passed – woohoo for Cam and me!; stopped right by the crosses at Bellevue

l-r: Happy Hour!!! Love me some Sonic – a Lemonberry Slush, if you must know. It was a dollar well spent; my new pillow arrived from Amazon! – memory foam and it’s super nice (no more neck pain); $5 Rayban knock-offs from Wal-Mart since my other sunnies broke

l-r: a little organizing/decorating project I’ll feature soon – you won’t believe how this little magazine file started out!; a little pre-bed reading – I love Nouwen (it’s like I’m reading my own brain sometimes); finishing the day by praying a psalm

Hope you enjoyed this fascinating look into my little life! Hey! I saw you over there… quit your yawning.

xoxo,
Alanna

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, y’all! Do you have any plans for the weekend? I’m spending some time with a good friend in the morning tomorrow (giving her a haircut!) and then I cater in the evening. It’s at a beautiful location where I’ve never served before. I’m excited to see what it looks like for an event (wedding, I think)!

So. Really exciting: I’m guest-posting over at Run with Scissors today! Janel is one of my favorite bloggers ever, and I’m thrilled and privileged to be helping her out while she’s focusing on bonding with her brand new baby, Amelia. It’s a fun make-up DIY and I’ve been waiting ever-so-patiently to share it with y’all! If you’re stopping over for the first time from RWS: WELCOME! Would you like some tea? Cookies?

Cuteness!

Today there’s a live kitten-cam over on HelloGiggles! Apparently the kittens and their mama were rescued after a fire, I think. They’re with a foster right now but will be up for adoption in a few weeks. It’s adorable… they’re playing and falling all over each other right now. I’ve had it up for about an hour now; it’s probably really a bad idea because it makes me want to go get a kitten. No, self! Two cats are enough!

Nomnomnom!

I made this recipe for baked apple chips yesterday (via a friend… via Pinterest). They. Were. AMAZING! I ate the entire batch in one sitting (it was only 2 apples worth and a few slices burnt). So easy and so healthy. My observations: I think I cut the slices too thin, hence the burning. Don’t cut the slices thinner than 1/4″ at the least! Also, the friend who tried them out first suggested checking them every 20 mins. I’m glad I did. I flipped them at an hour and set a timer again for 20 mins but they were burnt even by then (the recipe calls for 2 hours of baking). I think I’m going to make more this afternoon…

Okay… I need to shower (euw, I worked out and then have been cleaning). And I have to finish a fun project I plan to feature here on the blog! Hope you’re having a great Friday and remember: it’s the weekend!

xoxo,
Alanna