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Sep 26, 2016

A Solid Dose of Life

Published in Personal
You know those times when you are holding on to the coattails of your daily 9-5, just trying to get done all the things on your to do list and reaching for the weekend...? No time to smell the roses but just a time of busyness and checking things off the list... And then all of a sudden you are stopped right in your tracks by a solid dose of LIFE. Well, it happened to me recently and has been on my mind ever since... 
 
That day Chris and I had a lot to get done and one of the things was to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Now, I'll be honest, we had postponed the trip to the DMV for weeks as we were both dreading it. There always seems to be a 3 hour wait and I contemplated bringing a picnic basket just in case we are there all day. 
 
We sat in the chairs facing forward with all the other people waiting there also... I began to people watch and was lulled by the white noise of the automatic announcements... A604, D208, C456.... Some people were clearly NOT happy to be there and were very vocal about it, complaining and arguing with the tellers. After a long wait Chris and I heard our number and we jumped up like we just realized we had BINGO. Chris handed the teller all of our paperwork and they began talking about registration, license, titles, and all that fun stuff. I couldn't help but hear the teller next to me say to the person he was helping, Well why didn't you do this sooner? The woman who was standing there with a young girl smiled and said, I just couldn't bring myself to. This was my son's car. He was killed two years ago when he was leaving a nightclub a couple towns away from here. It was all over the news. He was only 21. 
 
SILENCE. 
 
The teller looked at her and said he was so sorry. The young girl looked up and said, He didn't even have a chance to run, three people shot him 6 times right in the parking lot. I could feel my stomach literally flop and couldnt help but watch the teller as he slowly shuffled their paperwork trying to figure out what to say. The mom clearly trying to lighten the mood joked and said, He was a great boy but not the best driver. The teller forced a small smile that quickly disappeared. He handed back to the mom the clear folder with all of the paperwork in it. He kept this all organized just like this in the console. He had everything in there. The mom ran her hand over the folder, clearly proud of her son. The teller said the total to change the title and make the other changes would be $155. The mom and daughter both opened their wallets and laid money on the counter making sure it totaled the right amount. The teller tried to make small talk and asked the daughter where she worked as she had mentioned she was on her way to her job after this. She told him the food was great where she worked but the uniforms weren't her favorite. The teller forced another smile and told them they were all set. Both women thanked the teller so much for all of his help. They began to walk away and as they did, the teller said something to them. I don't know what he said, but the mom turned around, and with a huge smile said, You know I always do. Thank you again so much and have a good one. 
 
I could feel my throat have that hard lump in it... The trying-so-hard-not-to-cry lump. It was an unexpected dose of life that I was having a hard time swallowing. I couldn't take my eyes of the teller as he just watched them as they walked away. His blinks were just a little bit longer and you could tell a million things were going through his mind as he sat there in silence. The buzz of the DMV was loud again and his stare was interrupted by a loud number being called and another person standing in front of him handing over a pile of papers. The teller looked at the DMV exit door one last time and began shuffling the papers and entering information into his computer. Ashley, do you have your license... Ashley? Chris nudged me. It was probably only about 5 minutes, but it seemed like 30 had gone by and I had totally lost track of what Chris had been doing. 
 
This mother and her daughter's faces have stuck with me. The look in the teller's eyes is something I won't forget. The DMV was crazy with a million people, frustrations, and everyone just going through the motions. It was almost as if it was a microcosm of life. Yet here was this mother's story and this moment. It was a beautiful reminder. To be grateful for what I have. To appreciate loved on more those ones dear to us. To not take a breath for granted, not a single one. It reminded me that life is so so precious and completely fragile and shouldn't be lived racing around holding onto its coattails. Roses are meant to be smelled.
A Solid Dose of Life
Slowing Down to Sit and Savor
Sep 15, 2016

Slowing Down to Sit and Savor

Published in Personal
My Nana is one of the sweetest loving people you will ever meet and I just adore her so very much! How blessed we are that Pop and her live only a few miles away from us! Last week we celebrated her birthday, and let me tell you, I tried to go all out. She wanted just to have a quiet low key dinner with Pop, Chris and I so I made my killer meatloaf (one of her absolute favorite things I make... and yes there are only like 5 things I can successfully make from scratch lol), lots of yummy side dishes, and pumpkin cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. I mean, we had to have pumpkin cake because lets face it, I want fall to be here stat! I decorated with signs and draped gold ribbons and strands of peal garland from the chandelier. After all, she was turning the big 8-5. After dinner we sang to her and brought out the pumpkin cake with the 8 and 5 candles shining brightly on top. And before she even blew them out, she had the biggest smile on her lit up face and exclaimed, "Well this says 85! I am turning 84!" Oh my goodness, I was shocked! We all started laughing and I told her that she told me she was turning 85!!! She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Yeah I probably did. Oh well, next year I will feel like I am getting younger when I turn 85 again!" With that she took a deep breath and blew out her candles. I guess some people don't turn the big 8-5 just once and my Nana is apparently one of them! :) My heart has been filing with sweet moments like this with the people that I love the most so much this summer. This is what a treasure and cherish and love having my days be filled with. 
 
It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of doing more, being more, comparing this and posting that. Of chasing perfection and being super mom. This past month and a half I have slowed down, a lot. More then I have done in a long time. I wanted to slow down so there would be more time for the things that are my priority and time to just sit in and savor these moments... to embrace being intentional and fully present. I loved having the freedom to have a slow morning of reading books with Remington and Greyson in bed and spend his nap time screwing up the recipe to cream cheese frosting and listening to music while adorning the chandelier with ribbons. I cherished having the time for an impromptu pancake breakfast with my mama friend and her kids. I was grateful for the flexibility to scratch my original plans to work late and instead watch the sunset at the lake and enjoy a bonfire with Chris in the backyard. I was thankful for free nights in our usually insanely busy schedule calendar to have dinner and spend time with so many of our wedding couples and friends! 
 
Because the email and work will be there tomorrow and if I don't blog and post to instagram today it's not the end of the world. The dishes aren't going anywhere. The laundry will still be waiting the next day and won't multiply over night, however sometimes I swear it does! 
 
Life is too short. LIFE.IS.TOO.SHORT. I often think back to the time when someone posed the question that if this was your last week on this earth, what would it look like? What would you change or do differently? Whenever I think of that, the answer for me has often been to slow down and keep what's most important, most important. To focus on those things and keep them first. To slow down and show up for the things that I hold most dear like celebrating my sweet Nana with my first attempt at making pumpkin cake. :)
Sep 8, 2016

Dear Fall

Published in Personal
Dear Fall, 
 
I'm ready for you. I am ready for all that comes with you... Especially the pumpkin spice lattes and boot wearing. The cold crisp nights and Mother Nature painting the trees in red and gold. I am ready for the change of season. 
 
The apple picking with our families and Chris and my pumpkin carving date night. The cool mornings with fresh dew on the grass. Nana making her apple pies for any occasion the family can convince her to.  
 
Don't get me wrong, I love Summer, but you are always my favorite. With you, Fall, comes so much excitement and change. And I am ready for the change of season. 
 
Here's to you, 
 
Ashley
Dear Fall
Our Gray Table Dates
Aug 31, 2016

Our Gray Table Dates

Published in Personal
I've never had a long standing, regularly scheduled date with someone like this before. But here we are every afternoon at the gray table by the window for peanut and butter and jelly sandwiches followed by coloring, stickers, legos or whatever strikes our fancy that day. The chairs are so low to the ground my knees knock the table making you giggle every time while telling me I'm too big. Oh my sweet boy, I wouldn't trade moments like this for the world. Over the weeks and months as we sit down at that gray table I just look at you in awe and try and wrap my head around how fast you're growing into this adorable boy with the sweetest loving personality. Our conversations have gone from single one syllable words to streams of endless sentences as you tell me about your favorite book characters, that you want to see nanny and pop again soon and that we should go swimming at the lake tomorrow. I could sit and listen to you for hours on end. If there was a way to freeze time so I could always go back to these tender moments and relive them over and over again, I would in a heartbeat. Because I know one day you'll find out I'm not quiiiiite as cool as you think I am right now and you will want to marry someone other then your mommy. :) I know our conversations will be deeper and our relationship will grow richer but you and I will outgrow our gray table dates. But for now, you and your oatmeal cookie covered face bring this mama so much joy and happiness. I love you Greyson Cole. Please do me a favor and stop growing up so fast! :) xo Mom
Aug 2, 2016

Made With Love

Published in Personal
This summer has been full of home improvement projects around here. You know, small and big ones that have been on our long term to do list that we have been planning and saving for. Since we bought this home five years ago this month we, well really I mean Chris (let's be honest)... has done so much work to our house and with each project he completes it is looking better and better and feels even more like our home. I love seeing the transformation of our house as these projects are completed, but honestly, there is one project I secretly had hoped he wouldn't finish. After years of walking over the ripped up door threshold from the hallway to one of the bathrooms that looked like it was straight out of the 60s, I joked with Chris, This house was definitely made with love!. Based on the look on Chris' face and response mumbling about how this and that was done wrong and the inspector never noted x, y, & z, I am not too sure he agreed. LOL However, he finally asked, What do you mean? 
 
I had him follow me to the door threshold. Chris apparently never noticed it, but when he was pulling up this portion or the floor years ago, pieces of cement came out forming a heart shaped indent. It has been a little reminder to me every time I step over it to be grateful to have a home to call our own.  
 
While I do love our completely renovated beautiful modern bathroom that was just finished (goodbye 60s blue tile and toilet!), a piece of me misses that imprint in the floor. Sometimes it's the little things... :)
Made With Love
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