Until I See You Again…

2015 has been a very interesting year.

There have been many laughs, smiles, and happy memories made — but as in all life balance, there have been some good cries, struggles, heartbreak, and loss.

There’s something about death that really puts life in perspective.  Death is inevitable. We all know that someday, whether it be tomorrow or 50 years from now, we will die. There’s no escaping it. It’s one of the few things we, as humans, all have in common. Yet, many times when someone dies, we are surprised. Baffled. Shocked. Confused. We say things like, “Wow, she was so young!” or “Man, he had so much more life to live.” We feel many different emotions – anger, regret, sadness, agony, and maybe, for some, a tiny bit of relief or happiness (depending on the situation, of course).

As I get older, I’m noticing more and more that people I know are passing. It shouldn’t be a surprise to me — as I get older, people I know and love are getting older too, and that’s just part of life.  But, it is interesting how as I age, I feel I notice it more than I ever have. And, I allow it to affect me more — it’s that weird heavy feeling in your chest that just kinda sits there for a while, and you can’t seem to shake it.

This year, we lost several family members.  Four of those hit pretty close to home for me — two grandparents, our family dog, and most recently, a dear cousin. It’s funny how when these passings happen, one of the first things you think about is the last time you spoke to that person or saw them. For me, sometimes my mind then drifts to wonder if I did enough during their life to ensure they knew I loved them. How will I know? Did I ever ask?  There are so many unanswered questions — but really those answers I seek are merely for my own conscience.

I was recently listening a a podcast that briefly talked about “giving warm hellos and goodbyes.”  Although this wasn’t the focus of the podcast, this stuck out to me — kinda like a bright light that I’ve seen before, but never really noticed, if that makes sense. So often we become robots to our daily routines, and sometimes we forget to take a moment to spread a little love to those we hold dear.  A warm hello, a kind how are you, a meaningful goodbye, I love you — but with feeling, and meaning it with everything.

No matter what is going on in your life, or how “busy” you may be or feel — there is always time to share a warm hello/goodbye with someone.  You truly never know if that hello, that goodbye, or that “I love you” will be the last one you are able to say to that person.  Every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around.  Taking a few extra seconds to create a genuine moment with someone is worth it — and in the end, you will know the answers to your questions, and maybe — just maybe, you will find peace.

Hello.

Goodnight.

I love you.

signature

WEEK WRAP-UP [in pictures]: “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas..”

IMG_8235

Well, friends, we’re four days away from Christmas!  It’s so hard to believe! This year has seemed to FLY by!  It’s also hard to believe because Florida has decided to not participate in winter at all this month.  We are actually predicted to have a 90 degree Christmas — the hottest on record since the 1980s.  Really, Florida?  C’mon..

Even though the temperatures outside weren’t showing it, we were definitely getting in the spirit! Our week started off with spending some quality time with the “Godfather” at our local farmer’s market.  Ella wasn’t so much interested in the market, but more-so running around and attempting to climb this giant tree.  She had a blast.

We also found a new park (!) — one that actually has an area for little ones under 5 years old.  We haven’t found one since we left Jacksonville, so this was huge for us — and Ella had a ball!  The park seemed to be on Christmas overload — there was a huge tree in the center of the park and all the trees were covered in Christmas lights. Ella loved it, especially the tree!

We also made treats for Daddy’s work!  We made several types of cookies and one of my favorite things to make: cupcakes in a jar — we call them “emjays.” We made two kinds: Red Velvet with Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting and Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting/Peppermint crumbles. They were delicious and everyone seemed to enjoy them!

Momma and Dada also attempted to plan a visit for Ella to meet Santa Claus for the first time.  It was almost doomed at the start: our Christmas outfits were all long sleeved, pants, heavy (and HOT!) dresses.  Being that it is Florida — and 90+ degrees — I had to be quick on my feet and improvise a new outfit for the girl to wear.

She was cute as a button, for sure.  We went to meet Santa at Disney Springs, which was awesome and so festive. However, she was NOT having it.  It wasn’t that she was afraid of Santa, she was just more interested in running around and looking at other people than sitting on this guy’s lap. Maybe next year. 🙂

We wrapped up the week by enjoying a very brief bout of cooler weather.  It was lovely being outside and watching our girl have fun, roll around in the grass, and cloud-watch. She always knows how to remind me to put things in perspective — this life is truly awesome.

We hope everyone has an amazing week!  Looking forward to spending time with our lovely family, eating delicious food, and seeing our little bean’s face on Christmas morning when she opens her presents!! 🙂

signature

The Countdown to 29

FullSizeRender

In less than 2 weeks, I will be 29.

In less than 2 weeks, I will be one year away from being 30.

30. Why is this such a scary age for people? What is it about 30 that makes us afraid, and in some cases, act irrationally, cry uncontrollably, and fear that we haven’t achieved all we were “supposed” to by this aged “deadline” — which is really just garbage we made up anyway?

30 does NOT mean we are dried up, shriveled old ladies, who need to be put away in a home for the elderly.  30 does NOT mean our lives are over, and it’s all downhill from here. 30 should NOT be a death sentence, but rather, an opportunity! Let’s take all the lessons from our twenties and put them to good use.  Let’s look back on the struggles and heartbreak with a smile, because honestly, the best is still yet to come.

I’m looking forward to 30.  But first, really, I’m looking forward to 29.

I recently enjoyed a visit with one of my best friends, who, I might add, is a month older than I am, about this upcoming “milestone.”  He seems apprehensive about turning 30, and thus wants to enjoy his 29th year doing things that “only make sense to do in your twenties,” not wanting to be the “creepy old guy that pretends he’s still a teenager.” While I personally feel age is just a number and what really matters is how you FEEL, this struck me as very interesting.

Are there certain activities or “things” that we can’t doing past a certain age, for fear society may look at us as “the creepy guy” who is trying too hard, or acting too young? And, what’s so bad about staying youthful anyway?  I mean, here we are in our late twenties, and coloring books are all the rage for the holiday season. I’m almost 30, but I could whip you in a battle of Super Mario.  And, yesterday — yeah, I played on the playground with my little girl. Slid down the slide, climbed on the jungle gym. So what?

More interestingly to me, however, is the idea of using your 29th year as a platform to do amazing things. Sure, we can (and do) amazing things all the time, and at any year, but I’m thinking of it almost like a bucket list.  A sort of “30 things to do before you are 30″/”29 awesome ideas for year 29” adventure.  It’s actually not a bad idea to consider for every year — a “new years resolution” but birthday to birthday, rather than waiting until January 1st.

I’m going to spend the next two weeks pondering my own list.  What are some goals, dreams, or tasks that I want to accomplish in this next year of my life? What are yours?

signature

“Slow down, You’re Doing Fine.”

12347876_10100845640661429_2073747762911748388_n

It’s strange how the best job and the most challenging job are the same: being a momma.  You hear people say it over and over, you read it in all the books, but I don’t think you truly understand it until you become a momma yourself.

I’m a type-A personality — I’m a planner, a to-do list maker, a person who prepares for what is to come, and before it even happens, has a back-up plan – just in case! I’m dependable, an over-acheiver, a workhorse, and people can entrust me to do the job, do it well, and go above and beyond expectations — because, trust me, no one else has higher expectations than I do of myself, and I’ll be damned if I don’t hit them.  And, if for some reason I don’t hit those expectations, I will beat myself up about it — forever. It’s a blessing and curse, and I’m a work in progress.  I’m learning everyday how to relax, be more “in the moment,” and to not be as tough on myself if I fall short of what I “planned” out in my mind. And, as much as I may not want to admit it, I thrive on words of appreciation, words of encouragement, and praise for a “job well done.”

When I worked in the corporate world, I would seek out ways to separate myself from the pack.  Whether it was something like bringing donuts on Friday to make everyone smile, finishing a project a week in advance to be ahead of the curve, or creating a process improvement to make everyone else’s job easier — I was your girl! And, I loved hearing that I was awesome, even if I played it off being modest or negated it by saying I could always be better — it still was motivating to hear. It pushed me a bit further, and I liked being the one my boss could depend on to produce quality work.

One of the difficulties in leaving the corporate world to be a stay at home momma is the questioning of whether or not I’m doing a good job.  There aren’t any projects due, deadlines to hit, quarterly evaluations to hear feedback on what I can improve on — and my boss, well — she’s two.  And her vocabulary consists of very profound (and important) words like “cat,” “ball,” “tree,” “car – beep beep!,” and “PINK!”  Sure, I can find success in the sheer fact that she’s alive and healthy — but there’s this unspoken fear of am I doing it right? Am I doing enough? Is there anything else I could be doing to be a better mother?

I know many mommas ask themselves these questions.  And yet, we do everything we can, put our heart and soul into raising our beautiful little humans, but then lack confidence in whether we are “good enough.” Or waste time comparing ourselves to other Moms, thinking we aren’t doing enough because “so and so did x, y, and z today and I was so tired I let my little one watch movies all day.” Why do we do this?

When your little one is so little they can’t really communicate to you, it’s tough to know  — or to feel, rather — that you are doing a good job, or that they are happy with your “progress” in this hard, time-consuming job of being “Momma.” But really, it’s all about the little things — and even if they can’t use the words to say “You’re doing great! Keep it up! You’re on your way to getting a raise/promotion!” — sometimes, it’s the unspoken words, the extra snuggles, the sweet little smiles and kisses that confirm it — you know, I might just being doing okay after all.

signature

 

“Dolce far Niente”

ashfromscratch-dolce

Tonight, after I laid Ella down for “night-night,” I came into the living room and sat down on the floor.  The TV was off, the only lights in the room were from a lamp on our side table and our Christmas tree.  The only sounds were a quiet humming from the washing machine in the laundry room and sweet Geera purrs on the couch behind me.  I had just finished cleaning up the house for the day, already ate dinner — all I wanted to do was just sit and “be” for a second.  That second turned into minutes, and before I knew it, those minutes turned into a full hour.

It’s so easy to get consumed by our day to day life — and I’ll bite and say, especially when you are a parent.  Everything I do, say, think is for my loved ones — T, Ella — and sometimes I forget that everything I do, say, think should be for me, so I can be better for those I want to give my everything to.

People say as you get older, time flies by — and I’m already experiencing that this seems so true!  But really, time is going by at the same rate it always has.  It’s constant — a second is a second, a minute is a minute — whether you are 2 years old or 28 or 80.  I think the difference is, as we age, we spend so much of our time doing things for others,  wishing for more time for ourselves.  And, before we know it, another day is done, and you find yourself sitting on the living room floor already thinking about the to-do list for tomorrow.  Thinking, maybe if I can scratch this or that off my to-do list tonight –then maybe I’ll have an extra 30 minutes to finish that book, or paint my nails.

Why is it we put the things we want to do on the back-burner? As if, the things we want to do are a reward for doing the things we “have” to do. What if we put some of those “wants” as a priority for a change — giving ourselves a chance to “sharpen our saw.” The laundry will still be there tomorrow — so why not spend the evening doing something you want to do instead?

I’m a list maker — I make lists for my lists. I have a list of things that I would love to have “more” time to do, but for some reason, I never give myself the time to do any of these things. It’s classic, but I’m one of those people who have big dreams and hopes, and start amazing ideas — then never finish them or see them through, because I let other things monopolize my time. And it hurts even writing that out, because I know it’s true.

Did you know I always wanted to learn Italian?  A few years ago, I bought all the books and cds to help me learn, I even got to the point where I was able to say basic sentences.

And then I stopped.

Also, I’m an awesome baker — yeah, I bake! And decorate! I even started my own baked goods shop and sold quite a bit while I was doing it. And people loved it! I loved it.  It was a dream to own my own bakery one day.

And then I stopped.

Right now, I have a mountain of books by my bedside that I want to read. Really great books — and for some reason, they are collecting dust.  I’ve opened (maybe) two or three of them, read the first few pages, and then I stopped.

How am I going to be able to teach Ella to think for herself, spend time doing what she loves to do, and encourage her to put her thoughts and feelings first — when I don’t even do that for myself?

It’s a process and learning curve for me, for sure. But I am on my way.  Tonight, instead of spending that full hour going over my to-do lists and planning out tomorrow, I just sat and enjoyed the company of myself. It sounds weird saying that, but it’s amazing just giving myself the time to enjoy doing…. nothing. No distractions, no social media calling my name, no TV noise, no one else present to give my attention to. Just me. Ashley. And it was lovely.

Il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing.

If you had an extra hour of time everyday — or rather, if you gave yourself an extra hour of time everyday — what would you do with it?

signature

 

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up & Happy December!

Hi friends!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday weekend!  We certainly did!

Thanksgiving was awesome — we spent the holiday in our hometown with family.  Bellies were full of delicious food, and we had so much fun, I completely forgot to take any photos! Fear not — I made up for it over the weekend!

On Friday, Ella and I decided to brave the craziness of Black Friday shopping by making a quick trip to Target (let’s just say, I spent over $100 and I have no idea what I bought — how does Target always do that?!). I learned quickly that this wasn’t the greatest idea — crazy shoppers+two year old who wants to hold EVERYTHING=stressed Momma. After our trip, we headed home just in time for Uncle Myron to visit!  We spent the afternoon outside, enjoying the cool breeze and blowing bubbles.

12274200_10100843562570939_7089656842209457709_n

Saturday was very relaxing. After three full days of visiting with friends and family, we decided to stay in most of the day, except for a quick trip to Michaels so I could finish our entryway chalkboard display.

12308251_10100843557550999_768728817380385780_n

Since my hubby was super busy all weekend with work, Sunday morning was a nice change of pace having him home.  We spent the entire morning running around in the backyard.  Ella LOVES being outside, so as you can imagine, she was in heaven!  It’s moments like this that really make my heart smile so big that I feel it is going to burst out of my chest!

12107738_10100843770743759_6161441219692816659_n

We also found out that Ella’s hair is now long enough to braid.  I can’t believe how big she is getting.

12250053_10100843784421349_4753335895299127937_n

We finished up the weekend today (hooray for long weekends!).  We made a few shopping trips, picking up a few Christmas presents, and ended the evening putting up and decorating our Christmas tree.  This is the first tree we’ve ever had that wasn’t 12″ tall and fit in the palm of my hand!  I fell in love with the tall/skinny tree displays at Target and Michaels that when I saw this tree was on sale, I splurged and bought it!  Picked up decorations here and there, and now I can officially say — we have a tree! Ella kept saying “Pretty! Pretty!” and loved helping put the decorations on. Now, if I can just keep her from taking them off or trying to knock the tree over for the next 25 days. 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  It’s so hard to believe it’s over and Christmas will be here before we know it!  Time is flying by!

signature