Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snow Day Me

There is one day a year that makes me feel like a kid again. It's not Christmas, or Easter, or the Fourth of July.

It's SNOW DAY!

Something switches in my brain on those days and I give myself permission to pretend for a day that I am not a responsible grown up. And you know what? I am so much more fun when I'm not acting like a grown up. I do things like sleep in (actually I can give myself permission for that any day), I leave the beds unmade, I let my boys make a big mess in the kitchen while making pancakes (yes, the oldest boy...my husband was included in that equation), I make snowmen, and sled, and throw snowballs, I pour hot chocolate freely (even if it's right before lunch and might ruin our appetites), I make popcorn for lunch (because the hot chocolate did ruin our appetites), and waste the afternoon away while watching a movie (even though I've seen and heard it a million times before).

I like Snow Day Me. Wish I could have her around here more often. Just look how much fun was had today...







Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Fine Print

Have you heard about this conference?


Right. Silly question. Unless you've been under a rock in this little world of blog you have most likely read about it either here, here, or here.

I'll admit when I first saw the cute button advertising the conference and read the description that read "Speaking, Writing, and Leadership Conference" I pretty much ruled myself out. But then I squinted a little and saw a blessed little phrase in fine print..."Featuring Sessions for Bloggers". Hey, that's me! I'm a blogger!

My interest was piqued even further when I saw they were offering a scholarship so I ventured over to check out the details. I thought we had a deal breaker when I read that I had to write a post about why I would like to win the scholarship. A pit in my stomach grew deep and I felt fear at the thought of that dirty little word. You know the one.

REJECTION.

Here's the thing, though, I had this nagging feeling that I should at least TRY. So today instead of ignoring that feeling I decided to embrace it. It may not be that I win the contest; it may be that someone reading this post enters and wins. Either way, all will be as it should. Of that I am sure.

So, as I was thinking about what to write, I pondered a few different angles.

I thought about going with the whole, "IF YOU HAD ANY IDEA WHAT A HUGE FAN OF BIG MAMA I WAS, YOU'D PICK ME TO WIN THIS CONTEST" route. But REALLY, who wants to look that desperate?

I also thought about sharing some pictures of my kids. After all, they are pretty cute, and how could someone read that post and NOT grant me the opportunity to GET AWAY for a couple of days?

Then I got serious, and realized it might be better to dig deeper and share MORE...a little piece of the real me.

Last came my most sensible idea, to BE QUIET, take a deep breath and give God a chance to speak.

You see, more often than not you'll find on this blog MY words are the most prominent. However, on occasion, I experience a beautiful moment when I become fully aware that something my fingers typed did not come from me at all. A moment when God is speaking through me and at the same time TO me. I desire to experience more of those beautiful moments. I guess that is where that nagging feeling comes in. I believe that is His desire for me as well. Perhaps if I was given the opportunity to attend this conference, I could take a step closer in that direction.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Live

It was touch and go there for awhile. You think I'm kidding. But that is because you did not just survive the stomach flu from HADES. Oh the misery. Oh the sleeplessness. Oh the aches...and the pains...and the groaning.

Are you feeling sorry for me yet?

Would it help if I told you the stomach flu cut short an overnight stay away from the kids that was a present for my birthday from my husband? And that I missed a girls night out (also to celebrate my birthday) the next night as well?

Yes, I thought so.

All I can say is that sickness truly brings an appreciation for health! Thank you Lord, for my health!

I will say that that Friday night was wonderful, the sickness didn't hit until about 1am on Saturday. Honestly, I think I knew things were going a little too well.

My husband was able to get an INCREDIBLE deal at a hotel here in town. They were offering a special to the faculty of the college. And my friend offered to babysit my kiddos for FREE (as a birthday present...she apparently hates shopping that much). Then we received our dinner for free because they happened to be filming a commercial at the restaurant where we ate and we let them film our table. And then we even received a discount on our movie. See why I should have suspected the impending illness? It was all just TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.

And it was. Oh, and I think I said something in the car to my husband that night about how we had all been pretty healthy lately and wasn't that very interesting? Indeed. Very interesting. What was I thinking? I should know better. I should SO KNOW BETTER!

Sorry. I think I'm done now. And I feel better. As I am sure you do, too.

Thank you.

Oh, before I go here is a pic Rich took of the room. If you could see the whole bed you would see a flu stricken lump on the left hand side. Which of course, would be me. Thankfully he had the wisdom (after threats of loss of life and limb) not to take a picture of me in that state.




Friday, January 25, 2008

Prayer for a Friend

I'd like to ask you guys to pray for a friend of mine from college. She and her husband have been trying to have their second child for 18 months now and have been unsuccessful. She found out yesterday that her insurance will not pay for fertility treatments. Understandably she is very disheartened. Please pray for peace, wisdom, and funds for the treatments. Please also pray for her heart as she tries to understand God's will for their future.

If anyone of you have prayers, advice, or encouragement for her, please leave a comment (she reads this blog). Or if you would like to send her a personal message, email it to me and I will pass it on to her!

Thank you so much, my faithful, prayerful, friends!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Decisions, Decisions.

To describe me as "indecisive" would be such a gross understatement that it is almost laughable. It is quite possible this word was invented to describe me.

I probably spent 30 minutes last night trying to choose what snacks to take for son's preschool helper day. Do I get healthy snacks and risk another preschool coup d'√Čtat? Do I get yummy snacks and risk the potential wrath of parents with sugared-up children? Maybe one healthy snack and one yummy snack? These Dora snacks are cute, but are they too girlish for a boy to bring? I could buy these, but I need 9 snacks and there are only 8 in this box so I would have to buy two boxes. AACCKK!!!! Am I driving you crazy yet? Just imagine what it would be like to BE me! This insanity carries over into every aspect of my life...where to eat, what to eat, what presents to buy, what to say, what to BLOG, this list could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

You're probably wondering where I am going with this. Or you're no longer reading this, or your thinking about how you are the same way, or you're thinking about you do not understand what I am saying AT ALL and wish you could grab me by the shoulders and scream, "GET A GRIP, GIRL!".

I do have a point. The reason I am sharing this with you is so that you may understand the importance of the following request. I need your help. You see, I received a $15 iTunes card for Christmas and I'd really like to use it, but I CAN'T DECIDE FOR THE LIFE OF ME WHICH 15 SONGS TO CHOOSE! This is where you come in. What songs are you loving right now? I will take all considerations, but I would love some great new worship tunes.

So, how about it, can you help this indecisive girl?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Look What This Mommy Found...

...in her Lazy Susan...


Not quite as impressive as this. Or as scary as this.

And the funniest part? He's been there a couple of weeks, I've decided I kind of like him there.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More

There are many times I have so much MORE to say. Sometimes I sit down to fill this blank page with all its potential and want to say MORE. MORE about who I really am. MORE about who my God really is. MORE about the things that are heavy on my heart. MORE about the ugliness that can lie in that heart. MORE about the struggles that I face. MORE about the fact that I lack content. MORE about the fact that I lack faith. MORE about the fact that I lack self discipline. MORE about the fact that even though I know that my God is bigger than all of my weaknesses I often live my life as if I'M the one that's bigger.

I have many excuses for not sharing MORE. No time. No words. No quiet. No strength. No trust...

But today I will set aside those excuses for a brief time to share a refining moment in my life. In all honesty, it has been a refining day. Just as I was recovering from one moment with my feet on the fire another would come my way. The Lord had some direct hits to my heart today. I wish I had more time, words, quiet, strength, and trust to share them all with you. But for now I'll start with one.

I wish I could say that this morning as I was preparing for church that I was abiding in Him, joyful to have the opportunity to meet with Him. Instead, I was doing my usual Sunday morning self-loathing routine. I do it well. With each step of preparation I was becoming more and more unhappy with my hair, my face, my body, my clothes. The clothes did me in. I ended up in a heap on the bed. "I'm so fat!", "I have no clothes", "I must be a freak of nature because NOTHING looks good on me!". These are direct quotes. And then the tears. Poor Rich. What is a guy to do? He of course tells me that I am beautiful and am just having a particularly bad self image day. I will agree that this was the extreme in that those thoughts actually were voiced out loud instead of simply to myself. And the tears...those aren't every day, but the potential is always there.

Grasping for some perspective, I started to pray and a verse came to mind. I pulled the Bible off of my nightstand so that I could start this day with truth instead of lies. The verse that came to mind was this...

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4

And then as I was searching the concordance for the word beauty. I found some more truth to replace the lies. Here's one that sweet Bev has shared with me...

"The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." Psalm 45:11

And how about this one...

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30

When the tears had stopped and the lies had been replaced with truth I stepped out of the bedroom to these words from my sweet six year old boy.

"Mommy, you are beautiful! You are the most beautiful Mommy ever!"

I immediately began to weep, hugged him tight and mumbled a "thanks, Buddy".

Of course I began to wonder if he had been prompted to say that by my husband. He hadn't.

Now, I'm no fool to to think that my children do not ever pick up on these moments even though I try hard not to keep it from them. I'm sure that is part of the reason Richie said this to me, but I'm also sure that he was prompted to do so by God in an effort to reinforce His truth to me this morning.

So there you have it. Not my usual light-hearted post. But just a little MORE today.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Can't Spend Any More Time Trying To Think of a Title For This Post

Today I did a rare thing. I dropped Will off at preschool (Richie was already at school) and headed to the college to drop in and say "hello" to my husband. I rarely get a chance to visit him at school because I usually have children with me and young children are not all that conducive to a collegiate learning environment, as I'm sure you can imagine.

But today one of the things on my errand list included a trip to the college. You see, Rich has a couple of photos in his office that are a little outdated, but only by about....5 years. There is one photo of me with Richie when he was about 9 months old and another of me with Richie when he was about 18 months old. To look at the photos in Rich's office, you would not even know that our youngest son (who is now 3 1/2 yrs old) even existed. For shame! Poor thing doesn't have a photo album of his baby pictures either. But he does have this. You might think that my main motivation for replacing the pictures would be because of this obvious injustice to William. But you'd be wrong. I really just didn't care for the way I looked in those pictures. Have you lost all respect for me now?

Anyway, as I was on my way out, I remembered that the college was hosting an art exhibit. Along with his teaching duties, my husband is also director of the art gallery there. He has been telling me about the amazing prints that they currently have on display there. We're talking big names like Picasso, Rembrandt, Durer, and more. I have always held an appreciation for art, but being married to an artist has, of course, increased my appreciation. I thoroughly enjoyed perusing the different works of art. I had a few favorites, but there was one piece in particular that caught my attention. It was by Annibale Carracci. I actually found the image online so I could share it with you. The image shows women grieving over Christ as they tend to his body following the Crucifixion. It is a stunning piece and evoked so much emotion from me. You can view the image here. I'd love to hear what you think of it. And if you live here in B-town...you must go by and see it for yourself!

Another Good Cause

Free Rice and now Free Books! My friend Sonja pointed me to this link. All you have to do is click and a free book is donated to a child in need. It will literally take you about 5 seconds.

Unless you're on dial-up in which case it will take you significantly longer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For Your Consideration

Friends, I have a very important question for you. It might require some deep thinking on your part. You may want to set aside a special time to reflect on this question. You might even need to do some field research to come up with an accurate answer.

Do what you have to do, but please tell me...while wearing a hoodie under your winter coat do you tuck the hood in, out, or skip the coat all together?

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Resolution Schmesolution

Sooooooooooooooooooo. How ya doin' with your resolutions so far this year? Anyone still hangin' in there?

I don't think I'll go so far as to call mine resolutions, I like to think of them more as "suggestions". Resolving to do something USUALLY requires some form of will power, determination...or divine intervention. Instead of telling myself that I resolve to do this or that, I'm generally thinking more along the lines of, "I'll try to do this or that...you know, if I can". "If it's not too much trouble". "And if it's not too...um...difficult".

So, this year a few of my "suggestions" were to exercise, eat healthy, drink less soda (more on that later) and to read the Bible Cover to Cover Chronologically.

Now, if these had been resolutions, I would be discouraged by now and mostly likely have given up. But with suggestions you see, there is a little more wiggle room. I like wiggle room.

I've been doing pretty well with the healthy eating and exercise (with the exception of today because we couldn't possibly celebrate the season premier of American Idol without a little Java Chip). See? Wiggle room. Seriously, though. On the whole, I've been making better choices in these areas. Please pay no attention to this post about the excessive eating of ice cream bars. Those are DIET bars, don't you know?

And reading the Bible Cover to Cover Chronologically is going much better than I anticipated. I'm just a little behind. It's not too late to join us in that if you'd like!

And last, but not least is the soda. Oh, the soda. I love soda, Coca Cola in particular. It is my achilles heal. My vice, if you will. I made a half-hearted attempt to join Rich in going cold turkey with it (my friends are laughing out loud right now). That attempt lasted all of about...um...well...would you believe not even 24 hours (my friends are saying, yeah, uh-huh, that's right, sister)?

I'm a sad, sad girl.

But, here's the silver lining. I have reduced my soda consumption quite dramatically. Even occasionally going a day without one. And most days only drinking one tiny can (100 calorie size). I think the key is that I've found a great substitute. It is one of my new favorite things. I read about this drink on Tara's blog. The brand is called Izze and I highly recommend that you try them. Yum. The ingredients are fruit juice and sparkling water. That's it. Simple, but good. My favorite flavor so far is Blackberry...with Pomegranate following a close second.

So, there you have it. A mid-January confessional. It could be better, but it could be worse. I'm just taking it one day at a time. And praying for a little of that divine intervention. Lord knows I can't do it on my own!

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's For A Good Cause

I have a new addiction. My eyes are burning and my brain is hurting from spending too much time at a certain website today.

It is called FreeRice.com. Have you heard of it? Did I mention that I'm addicted? I am a lover of words and so I cannot get enough of this little quiz.

Basically, it's a never ending vocabulary test. If you get an answer right, a donation is made of 20 grains of rice to United Nations World Food Program. I played so long this afternoon and evening that I think my rice count was up in the 30,000's when I stopped. Also, it keeps track of your vocabulary level. I did PRETTY well if I do say so myself...of course not as well as my smarty pants husband. He's too smart for his own good, he'll probably have a perfect score before the end of the night.

Curses.

Anyway, you guys should check it out. It is one addiction you don't have to feel guilty about ;-)

Here's the link...




A Blessing

I've been meaning to post this for awhile. It is a short prayer/blessing that Rich's grandfather shared with us last Christmas. I want to remember it so we can pass it on to our boys.

Bless this food to our goodness,
Our lives to thy service,
Forgive us of our sins,
And save us all through Christ.
Amen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Book Meme

I was tagged for this Book Meme by Bev. I was so excited about this for a couple of reasons.

One, because I love books and thought this would be fun to share with you guys. I will say that it was much harder than I thought it would be and I am sure I have left out MANY important books from this list, but hey, it's a start!

And two, because it gave me an opportunity to tell you a little about my friend Bev, who has made such an impact on my life in the short time I have known her in this little world of blog.

Bev LOVES the Lord and she exudes His presence and Holy Spirit. I can say all this and I've never even met her. You might recognize Bev by the comments she leaves on my blog. She says things like this...

"You smell good mommy (in reference to something Richie said)...hey, you smell good to me too II COR. 2:14 for you have been the fragrance of Jesus to me Alana...i smell such loveliness..."

and this...

"you've got me smiling over here and laughing too...touched by your grateful heart...wonder what your beautiful LORD is thinking about you right now? zeph. 3:17"

I'm just going to be honest and tell you the first couple of times she left a comment, I thought, " This poor lady is confused...she must have the wrong blog, that doesn't sound anything like me".

I'm not kidding.

But after several more comments, I figured that she MUST mean me. And then I had this profound realization that the Holy Spirit was reminding me (through Bev) ever so gently and sweetly how GOD sees me. And...I just love that.

And now, I will ever so abruptly switch gears to the Meme.

BOOK(s) THAT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE

Nice Girls Don't Change the World by Lynne Hybels

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

True Faced by Bill Thrall, John Lynch, and Bruce McNichol


Honestly, I think the words "changed my life" are a little strong, but all of these books definitely made an impact. I'm sure there are more, too, but can't come up with them right now.

BOOK(s) I'VE READ MORE THAN ONCE


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Mr Brown Can Moo by Dr. Seuss

Curious George by H.A. Rey

Oh, you mean grown-up books? Honestly, I can't think of any. I don't like to
watch movies more than once (except for Anne, of course) and I don't generally like to read books more than once, either.

BOOK(s) I WANT ON A DESERTED ISLAND

Surviving on a Desert Island for Dummies

BOOK(s) THAT MADE ME LAUGH

??

Apparently, I'm only into depressing literature because I can't think of one book that made me laugh.

BOOK(s) THAT MADE ME CRY

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Seriously, I was a sobbing, heaping mess!

BOOK(s) I WISH HAD BEEN WRITTEN

Parenting 101

Quickly followed by 201, 301, and 401, then Graduate Level Courses, and Doctoral Studies.

BOOK(s) THAT YOU WISH HAD NEVER BEEN WRITTEN

?

BOOK(s) CURRENTLY READING

The Bible (Cover to Cover Chronologically)

Praying God's Word: Overcoming Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

BOOK(S) I HAVE BEEN MEANING TO READ

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

March by Geraldine Brooks

And now I get to tag some people. I'm the most excited to tag Carissa at The Life and Times of CarissaLil for this because I have a feeling she will just EAT THIS UP! Can't wait to hear your answers!

I'll also tag Janelle at Snot and Kisses, Melissa at Breath of Life, Heather at A Woman's Worth, and Jennifer at Meditations and Musings because I know you all are avid readers. However, if I didn't tag you and this sounds like something of interest, please join us! Also leave a comment to let me know so I can come by and read your answers...I am so curious about everyone's responses to this one!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Randomness...and lots of it!

I should SO be in bed right now.

But, I felt the need to tell you all that these...


...are really good! Only problem is they are a little like Lay's Potato Chips...you can't eat just one, which I think quite UNFORTUNATELY cancels out the whole weight watching thing.

I thought you might also want an update on the ankle. No? Just work with me here. It is feeling much better, I am walking fairly well, but when I'm on it for too long I pay for it later...like now. I'm pretty sure it was that second trip to the freezer that did it.

I really want to post pictures from Christmas, but I don't have room on my computer for any more pictures. I currently have 4926 pictures on my computer that need to be sorted through. I'm scared to see how many will be left to print. I may never be able to print them because I'll have to take out a second mortgage to do so. Seriously, 4926 x 19 cents equals...OH MY...you do not even want to know the total that just came up on my calculator. Many, many pictures need to be deleted and camera privileges may need to be taken away from my husband who likes to take 245 pictures at ONE SOCCER GAME! And I thought I had a problem with the ice cream bars...but then again taking pictures probably burns calories whereas eating ice cream bars while blogging most likely does not.

But you see, if I took away my husband's camera rights we might never capture a moment like this...


Yes, that is a picture of this friend's husband (aka our biddy soccer coach) carrying my three year old son to where he needs to be on the field...because he apparently didn't see fit to go there himself. Please also note the look of glee and mischief on his face while being carried this way.

See, I told you this was going to be random.

Wait, don't go yet...there's more. I need to say "thank you" for the cool award that Xandra gave me. She created it herself and I just love the idea. It is called the Daily Dose. Isn't the graphic CUTE???



Here's how she describes the award...

"I'm calling it The Daily Dose award, and it goes to the blogs that I must read every day without fail. Seriously, I might as well mainline new posts...it's that addictive. I feel acute disappointment when I go to my favorite blogs and find old posts (no pressure here, girls!). So here's to all the blogs that you've discovered that you can't possibly live without. They make you laugh, cry, think and feel connected every time you read a post. They give you a thrill as you see them loading into your browser and you get an equally satisfying thrill when you see that they have commented on your blog."

I generally shy away from giving awards because I am afraid to hurt someone's feelings or leave someone out (it's a tragic flaw...I know), plus I have such a hard time choosing. I'm addicted to all of the blogs on my blogroll...and then some. But, I thought it would be fun to share this with all of the B-town blogging girls.


Aren't they cute? (Actually not all the b-town blogging girls were present for this picture...and some of these ladies are not even bloggers, but they are definitely b-town blogging supporters!)

(...and now back to my sappy tribute)

Because where would I be without you? And even though I know you guys in real life and see (most of you) often, I must still read your posts so I know what is going on in your day to day...plus I just love you guys so much!

So without further ado...the B-town blogging girls (in alphabetical order so as not to show favoritism...sorry...I can't help it!).

Carissa
Celeste
Dawn
Janelle
JP's Mom
Michelle
Pam
Shelley
Teresa

I know there are a few of you B-town friends who have blogs, but have not posted in a VERY LONG TIME, I did not include you. But, I still love you! And I love all of my out-of-town real life friends who blog...and all of my blog life friends. I love all of you and all of your blogs! So everyone knows I love them and that they can't be mad at me for including them or not including them in this list, right??

I must stop now. Do you think my ankle would hold up for one more trip to the freezer?


Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Slight Kink

There has been a slight kink in my plan.

Thankfully, I got a good bit of my plan accomplished before I succumbed to this fate. The "plan" being to unpack, take down decorations and clean and organize my home. This "fate" being parked on the couch with my foot in the air.

I ignored for quite some time the pain in my foot. I thought, I must have twisted it...it'll feel better soon. But after I crawled into bed last night, exhausted from two days of non-stop goal achieving and pain ignoring, I thought, hmmm...maybe I should take a look at it.

Yeah, it was not pretty.

Swollen and purple.

Lovely. The first time in months (I'm not exaggerating) that I have had ANY motivation to accomplish tasks beyond the ones crucial to our existence and I end up with a sprained ankle. At least that's what I think it is, I haven't actually been to the doctor for a diagnosis. And do you want to know the best part? For the longest time I had NO IDEA how I did it. I don't remember hurting it. The only thing we can figure is that it happened on New Year's Eve when I went bowling with friends from church. Yes, that's right. I sprained my ankle playing the VERY STRENUOUS sport of Bowling.

I'll just let that sink in.

BOWLING+ALANA=SPRAINED ANKLE

mmmhmmm.

Because I'm graceful like that. And athletic. I'm athletic, too.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?

I hope you all haven't forgotten me. I'm still here, although I think I'm going to extend my bloggy break a bit more. We returned on Sunday from a week in Indiana with my family. It was the first time in quite some time that ALL of us were there for Christmas and we had SUCH A GOOD TIME! My Mom pulled out all the stops with the food, YUM! And we spent a lot of time playing this game ;-) And I was reminded of a similar one that you can play with just two people called Speed. I feel the need for SPEED!

Anyway, I was hoping to get started with the unpacking, sorting, cleaning on Monday, but was hit upside the head with a SERIOUS Migraine that would not go away. Needless to say, I am a little behind. We made some serious progress today, but I still have SO many miles to go before I blog. There is a house to clean, decorations to put away, laundry to do, and some serious purging of things. Rich is on break for another week so I have to maximize the time with his help! I promise I'll be back as soon as possible. Also, it might take me awhile to catch up on all of your blogs...yikes...you all have been prolific writers while I've been away...my bloglines account is a fright!

Happy New Year!