Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Houston?
Alanna: I was born and raised in a small town in the Midwest. My parents and hometown community instilled in me the gift of faith in God and the value of honesty, integrity and hard work. These values followed me to Houston which is a city that has captured my heart. We moved here in 2006 and it is now the place where I now feel most at home.
Child(ren) and Age(s)?
Samuel, 21 years old, Host at Molina’s Cantina on Bellaire. Kendyl, 20 years old, a Biomedical engineering student at Duke University
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I don’t know if it is because I am always running late or if I really just like to drive fast, but I tend to speed and have accumulated many speeding tickets from many different states over the years. Enough so, that I get a birthday card from the online defensive driving course each year. My wonderful husband has helped me channel this need for speed with a gift to the Richard Petty NASCAR driving experience at Texas Motor Speedway, and I can’t wait to do it!
Favorite local things to do in Houston?
I am the absolute worst cook, but I love to eat! From bar food to fine dining, I enjoy it all and appreciate having so many wonderful restaurants in Houston and so many choices for really good food! My favorite is dining alfresco on a sunny, breezy Spring day.
Do you have a favorite family-friendly restaurant in the area?
I love lunch at Tiny Boxwoods and seeing all of the moms playing with their little ones in the grassy courtyard.
What is your go-to activity for yourself for pampering or for fun?
I am pretty simple and enjoy sitting outside and reading while enjoying a good glass of wine but I consider my short, daily Bible devotions each morning to be my go-to activity that I can’t live without.
Funniest shortcut/routine for helping you through parenthood?
Most mornings, I would wake my kiddos up with the PMA chant, “PMA all the way!”. This stands for Positive Mental Attitude and it helped me start the day on a positive note. Some days, I did it more for me than them!
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
Yes, and I feel like I am living the dream! After being burned out and unfulfilled in the past, I had stepped away from my previous job as a pediatric dermatologist and took some time to do short-term mission work in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Kenya and Tanzania. During that time, my passion was renewed, and I figured out exactly what I needed to do to live out my calling. After much prayer and soul-searching, I established A Children’s House for Pediatric Dermatology to provide expert care to babies, children and teens with skin, hair and nail conditions. Our mission is to provide exceptional pediatric dermatology care and an extraordinary patient experience that consistently exceeds expectations. I also founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, A Children’s House for the Soul, that is sustained by my medical practice. Our mission is to encourage and unite children and their families impacted by skin conditions and birthmarks by providing opportunities for social, emotional and spiritual support, and we are the only organization providing this type of support in the Houston community.
It can be really tough to be a child with a visible skin condition, and these children often feel negatively defined by their conditions. Our nonprofit helps to empower these children, so they can truly love the skin they are in! We recently celebrated our 3-year anniversary, and I am thrilled to say that I have the opportunity to do a job that I love so much that adds value to our community and to the lives of those we serve.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Word of mouth is my biggest referral source, and I am so thankful that my patient’s families value what we provide and share their positive experiences with their friends and neighbors. I consider my job a blessing, and I believe it is a true privilege to provide care for my patients; therefore, their referrals are a huge compliment. I am also so grateful for the generosity of the Houston neighborhood community. We recently held our first fundraiser for our nonprofit, and my heart was so full to see so many Houstonians and Houston business owners willing to share their good fortune with others to help make the world a better place! I am also so appreciative of The Children’s Fund that is a wonderful group in the Houston community who supported us with transformative funding that truly gave our organization wings to soar!
What is the best advice for juggling mommyhood and running a business (or volunteering, working, etc)?
Realize that you are not superwoman. Some days you are going to be really good at being a mom and some days you are not. Some days you will kill it in the grown-up world and other days you will show up with what my husband refers to as “kid-residue” all over your professional clothes and you will not be on your game. Being good at both is fortunately not mutually exclusive, but don’t beat yourself up on the days when things don’t go as expected. Tomorrow is a new day! When I am overwhelmed, I just think of Dory in Little Nemo and repeat, “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do…..just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”
Also, remember that better is the enemy of good, and perfection is not a reasonable expectation. It is okay (and also advisable) to turn down opportunities that are offered to you sometimes. You can’t say yes to everything and not sacrifice in some areas of your life. Your enthusiastic “yes” now equates to an unspoken “no” to something else down the road. Make sure you enjoy your commitments, and your joy in serving will be evident to others, including your family.
What would you tell the old “You” before you had kids?
After raising two children to adulthood with many ups and downs and a variety of successes and failures, I would tell the old me never to compare myself to other moms and their parenting styles. Comparison is truly the thief of joy. We all have unique gifts and experiences that inform our parenting. As well, our children and their personalities and needs are also unique. There is no one-size-fits-all for parenting and there are some days that our best will not be good enough. And that is okay. Give yourself grace and as a corollary, don’t judge other parents. We should instead value and encourage each other since being a mom can be really hard some days and it is always better to have the support of others who understand and can cheer you along on your parenting journey.