Running Update

I wanted to give an update on my running. I am currently in week 3 of my training program. If you are decent at addition you may wonder why I’m a little behind. The truth is, this Christmas season has been a challenge for me. It was hard to figure out when to ‘fit in’ my runs. So instead of trying to fit those in I just didn’t do them. Anyway, I am back on track!

I had been dreading Week 3 since I started. See, Week 3 Day 3 requires a 2 mile run with no walking. This was a hard for me to believe I could do from a mental stand point. And this morning, when I got on the treadmill, after walking my warm-up lap, I was flooded with excuses for not being able to finish.

First I thought: I ran last night, I shouldn’t be running again already. My legs are already hurting, there’s no way I can run 8 more laps. Then I told myself: if I make it to one mile, I can just take a quick walking break. I deserve it. I can’t finish this without a break.
I felt like the whole time I was running today I had to convince myself of all the reasons I shouldn’t quit. My legs really weren’t that tired. I wasn’t too short of breath. I didn’t need to slow my pace. I realized I just had to want to finish.

And you know what? I did it.

I ran all two of those miles at the pace I wanted to run. I know that’s not an amazing distance, but it was a challenge for me. And I did it. I’m proud of my accomplishment and I’m ready to do it again tomorrow on Day 4. This is the way I needed to end 2009. I’m not going out feeling defeated, beat up, put down, frustrated with my self, or on the heels of personal let down. I’m starting 2010 with a sense of self pride and a belief that if I want it, I can get it. I can’t think of a better way to start a new year and a new decade.

How are you going out?

A little bit of Christmas

I thought I would share some of my favorite Christmas decorations. I was inspired, yet again, by The Preacher's Wife. Enjoy!

I made these letters using plain, cardboard letters from hobby lobby, gold spray paint, scrap book paper, and the amazing Xyron machine. Here they are in the kitchen.

My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on November 25th. He got me this beautiful nativity scene. I've loved it from afar for years and I'm so excited to have one in my own home. I'm looking forward to adding to it each year.

And here is our tree! I only have a mixture of the ornaments I've received since my very first Christmas and a few I've collected since. I have to fight the urge buy ornaments to fill it up. My mom always had a full tree and so that's what I think a tree should look like. One of these days...

Can you tell I've just started my collection of Christmas decorations? :)

Couch to AnyK

Yesterday I joined a gym. Well, actually, I went to a gym to join it and got a free 7-day pass, but my intention is to join. I had been looking for a while but couldn’t decide what my priorities in a gym really were. Since Matt and I moved to our new house (Oct. 1st) I have not been to the gym. I take that back, I have been to the gym once or twice to drop Matt off but that's it. In no way am I an avid exerciser nor do I enjoy it. But I do believe it is necessary in my life in order to ‘maintain’. This being said, I was able to generate a list of things I needed in a gym. Here they are in random order: proximity to my home, group fitness classes, cardio (treadmills), and friendly staff. I chose my gym because they have all of these things. I’m actually excited to go work out today.

I have never been an athlete or an exerciser of any kind really, but my husband is. He loves to exercise and exercising totally changes his mood. And since he loves exercising, particularly running, so much he decided to sign us up to run the half marathon to raise money for a local school. Yeah, both of us. By now you could probably guess that I do not run. Until yesterday. I started a program called Couch to 10k. It’s a training program for total beginners. It starts from the couch and 10 weeks later you’re running a 10k. I’ve looked at this program a lot and have actually had it on my iPod for a couple of years. The only problem I’ve had with the program is starting it. I’ve never even tried. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I finally completed Day One Week One. Today I will complete Day Two Week One. I finally have the motivation and a goal in sight to help make this program work for me. If you know me, or even if you don’t, please ask me if you think about it how this is going. That will give me extra motivation to keep it up.

Have you ever tried Couch to 10k or something similar? Did it work for you?

M2M Scavenger Hunt

I have recently started reading Lisa's blog, A Preacher's Wife. I love the way she encourages all of those, 'married to the ministry'. Currently she is doing this little scavenger hunt to help pastor's wives get to know each other. I thought I would join in on the fun! Check out her blog to learn more about this fun activity. Happy hunting!

1. First Name- Alyson

2. State and Country of Residence- Music City, USA (Also known as Nashville, TN)

3. Husband’s Ministry Title- Senior Pastor

4. Length of time in Current Ministry Location- Right at 1 year

5. Children? Not yet! We haven't quite been married a year.

6. Number of unique homes in which you’ve lived during your marriage. Two homes already. At this rate, I should be a moving pro in no time! :)

7. Cook Sunday lunch or eat out? Eat out! Why make Sunday any different than any other day?

8. Typically on time for Sunday School or not? I go to the young adult class so we always start late which means I am always on time.

9. Favorite TV Show. I LOVE TV! Grey's Anatomy, The Office, The Hills, Top Chef, Project Runway, Flipping Out, ALL the Real Housewives, etc. etc.

10. Something you watch/like/do that you would never tell the church people. I absolutely love Marshall Bruce Mathers III aka Eminem aka Slim Shady.

11. Most annoying church-related pet peeve. I think this relates to life in general, not just church, but when people will talk to everyone but the person they are having an issue with.

12. One thing you need to throw away but can’t bring yourself to do it. A project I did on Hamlet my senior year of high school.

13. The one food you can not live without. All things chocolate.

14. Parsonage or have your own home? We have our own home.

15. Freak when the doorbell rings or always ready for a visitor? I love having a clean, organized house. So...always ready!

Summer Recap

Wow this summer is flying by! I feel like school just let out yesterday. I had envisioned a summer of relaxing by the pool with Matt. Going to the gym everyday and hiking in the park. We haven't even been to the pool all summer! Hopefully we can find our way there in the next couple of weeks.

So if I haven't been doing the things I envisioned, what have I been up to?
The last week of May I went to Ft Lauderdale for the weekend to work. I occasionally babysit for a family who lives there. It's a way for me to make a little extra money but not have to work too often.

The first week of June I went to camp with the youth from our church. I had a great time! It reminded me of the days I was a camp counselor and youth sponser...I have always loved camp! It was great to be able to connect with some of the girls and get to know them better. I hope that I can continue to grow some of those relationships I started there.

The day after I returned from camp I headed back to Ft Lauderdale. This time it was a much longer trip. I was there for over a month! One of the weekends we went to Cincinnati for a graduation. I had never been to Ohio before so it was fun to get to go there. The best part of the trip was the week the family went to Hawaii for vacation. Matt was able to come down and vacation with me in FLL. We felt like we were staying at a fancy resort. It was a wonderful time away together.

I got home from Ft Lauderdale the first week of July. About 10 days later I flew to Chicago to meet the same family for their annual family reunion. We stayed in the Drake Hotel on Michigan Avenue. I really like Chicago and would love to go there with Matt for a few days, mostly just to eat and shop. :)

Whew! That brings us to today. For the rest of the summer I'm taking 2 days of professional development per week. I'm also going to get to spend a little time with my family. I'm very excited about that!

School starts August 14th which means I have to report the 10th. I'm teaching Child and Lifespan Development and Family and Parenting. I have only taught Child Development once and never taught the other. I will be calling on all of my friends with children to give me 'real world' examples and experience!

Soon I'm going to try something new on my blog. It will ensure that I'm blogging more regularly instead of once every couple of months or so. :) I'm excited about it and can't wait to get started. Just need to work out a few of the details and such. Stay tuned!

Growing Up

Last night I felt like a wife. I know I’ve been married for about 5 months but for some reason, it hit me. I am a wife.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, Matt wasn’t home yet. I had run some errands and got home later than usual. I briefly had an internal struggle of whether to go to the gym or not. ‘Not’ won so I tried on some of my summer clothes instead. Thus confirming I should have gone to the gym…

Anyway, I picked up the kitchen, started the dishwasher, and decided to make dinner. I was making chicken enchilada casserole, just like my mom used to make. Matt got home, kissed me in the kitchen and then went on to finish his phone calls. I caught a glimpse of myself in the kitchen mirror, and that’s when it hit me.

I had a conversation earlier this week with someone about not feeling like a grown-up. We discussed when that feeling sets in because neither one of us felt we had gotten there yet. To be honest, it’s scary! How could I be married?? How could I be that much closer to being a mom?? It seems so far away!

But last night, mixing up enchiladas, I felt it. I am a grown-up. I am a wife. And one of these days (far, far, away) I’ll be a mom. And you know what? That gets less and less scary every day. :)


Wordle: My latest post

Yesterday I had in-service at my school. Usually in-service days are filled with boring, seemingly pointless meetings. I get stacks and stacks of information that I never use. However, yesterday was different! During one of the sessions we were looking at improving literacy and different, creative ways to get our students interested in vocabulary.

One of the sites that they presenter shared was Wordle. I was blown away by this site! Basically you take a list of words, an article, anything you want and paste it into the box provided. When you click ‘create’ it generates a graphic of words. The words are sized according to their significance or the number of times they were used. Once your graphic is generated you can change the font, the color scheme, the direction of the words, etc.

I think this is a great tool to use with students when looking at an article. It can help show them what the main topics are. I also think it’s cool to use with the Scriptures. You can copy and past a set of verses or chapter from the Bible and see what words pop out.

However, the coolest feature is that you can type in the URL of any blog, blog feed, or any other web page that has an Atom or RSS feed ! It then generates a wordle for that site. (The one at the top of this post is from my blog. Click on it to make it bigger.) I had a lot of fun typing in different blogs I read and looking at their wordles.

I thought this was too cool not to share and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the site! Have any of you checked it out before? If so, why did you use it? If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do! I would love to hear your thoughts on other uses.

February to February

A year ago yesterday I met my husband Matthew Joseph Costner. It is a day I will never forget. Matt and I had been talking on the phone for a few weeks and I decided to fly to Nashville to visit some friends, aka meet Matt face to face. As some of you know from reading my 25 random things, I knew I loved Matt before I ever met him. When our eyes met across baggage claim at BNA that was it. I never understood how people could fall in love so quickly until it happened to me.

Each day I know Matt my love for him continues to grow. I couldn’t have hand picked better qualities in a mate. He is kind, adventurous, passionate, and sensitive. One of the things I love most about Matt is that he is always challenging me to excellence. Whether it’s in the gym, my walk with the Lord or my Mario Kart skills, I know he will be there supporting and encouraging me the whole way.

The past year has been a whirlwind. I moved to Nashville, got engaged and then married to the man of my dreams. I can’t wait for the next leg of our journey and can only wonder what it might look like. One thing I’ve learned so far is that I can never expect too much! Even my biggest expectations have been met.

Random Facts

I finally caved and did this for facebook so thought I would share it with my blog friends as well. The rules were to write out 25 random facts about yourself. Hope you learn something new about me!

1. I am a preacher’s wife!
2. I knew I loved my husband before we ever met face-to-face. (no, we didn’t meet on eHarmony)
3. I pick my laundry detergent solely based on the smell. I could spend hours in that aisle at the store.
4. I have 2 amazing brothers. We are all very different but get along famously.
5. I love my job. It’s rare for me to look back at a day and be able to say I didn’t enjoy it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
6. I love to read but don’t make time for it. I’m hoping to just read a ton this summer by the pool to make up for the rest of the year.
7. Exercise is slowly growing on me. I thank spin class and Matt’s pleading for me to join him.
8. Baking is one of my favorite things to do. I consider cupcakes my specialty, even if no one else does.
9. I’m currently addicted to Mario Kart for Wii.
10. I have the best in-laws of anyone I know. Except for Matt, his are great too!
11. I LOVE international travel. I have been to 10 different countries so far.
12. One of my goals is to see the seven wonders of the world. (The new ones announced on 7/7/07.) I’ve seen two. Five more to go.
13. I have way more gray hair than is necessary for a 26 year old.
14. Grocery shopping is one of my favorite household activities.
15. Doing laundry comes in a dangerously close second.
16. The number of quilts I own worries me. I love them all and would never get rid of a single one, which causes my husband to worry…
17. I love watching football and basketball. I’m the type of person who yells at the TV.
18. I shamelessly watch shows like The Bachelor, The City, True Beauty, Paris: My New BFF, etc.
19. I like getting up early in the mornings.
20. Sometimes I talk in my sleep.
21. I was once in a rock band, The Screaming Nones (we spelled it that way because we thought it was 'cool'). We won the school talent show. I still have no musical talent.
22. Matt and I have a ‘happy dance’ we do any time something good happens, no matter how big or how small.
23. I don’t do well in cold weather.
24. I miss my family and friends in OK. I wish I had more time to visit.
25. I am blessed.

The Truth About You

Check out this review I wrote of "The Truth About You" by Marcus Buckingham for Thomas Nelson. I finally did it!

With the title "The Truth About You" I expected this book to provide a clear-cut answer to the question “who am I?” Instead it guided me on a journey that ended with ME providing all the answers to that question. Before I continue, I have to say this book isn't just a feel-good-about-yourself read; interaction is required. Actually, “book” is the wrong word - it’s more like a toolkit that includes an interactive book, a DVD to get you motivated, and a note pad to help reveal your strengths.

Marcus Buckingham takes no time making his most important point, you know you best. He cleverly redefines 'self-discovery' by looking in detail at five rules to live by. For instance, Buckingham explains why so many people are unhappy in their work. He explains the difference between abilities and strengths. He gives examples of how weaknesses can even be things in which we excel.

What I appreciated most about this 'toolkit' was that Buckingham didn't sugar coat the advice he gave. He highlighted and emphasized individuality. He encouraged me to own up to my weaknesses and not try to change them.

I am in the process of creating a lesson plan using this kit in my classroom. I teach mostly Juniors and Seniors in an urban high school. I believe completing the activities Buckingham has provided will give them great insight into what gives them strength.

I also think this would be a great gift for motivated graduates at any level. Like I said in the beginning, you can't just read this book and expect an epiphany to occur. It requires action.
Have you read this book? Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are?

Playing Ketchup

I am no longer looking at the light at the end of the tunnel; I am officially through the tunnel! As of this past weekend, Matt and I are done with all of our wedding stuff. Aside from putting everything away and writing the rest of our thank you notes. :) I’m hoping now that things are settling down I can be a little more consistent with updating my blog. I feel like there are a lot of really cool things going on right now! I thought it would be easiest to just make a list:

1) I know, I know I have to write my review for “The Truth About You”. I’m working on it. I PROMISE it will be up by this time next week.

2) This week I started attending a women’s community group. My friend, Jessica, invited me to join and I’m so glad! I have been praying for a group of women I can live life with here in Nashville. I am praising the Lord for answering this prayer! We are reading Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? By Phillip Yancy. I am really enjoying this book! More it later...

3) I feel like I’m kicking this year off with a lot of reading. I got a ‘read the Bible in a year’ Bible (yes, that is the technical term for it) and I’m going to try to read through the scriptures this year. Who else is doing this/has done this in the past? I would love to hear about your successes and challenges!

4) I am SO excited about the Lifeway conference for Ministers' wives! You can read more about it here. The rest of you who are married to a minister should really consider joining me at the conference. It’s going to be amazing!

Whew. That’s enough for today. Now I see why I should just blog more often. I’ll finish my list of updates later this week!