#TBT: Where have you been?

I was thinking of you earlier this morning — I realized it has been over 4 months since you heard from me.  I’m afraid you might not recognize me anymore.

You hear it over and over again as you grow up, said in many different ways, but always relating back to the same concept.

Time flies.

When I was a kid, I would’ve thought, “FOUR MONTHS?! THAT’S FOREVER!” and in some ways, it is! But, in others ways, it feels like the past four months since we spoke was like a blink of an eye — like, I didn’t even comprehend that 4 months had gone by, it felt THAT fast.  And SO much has happened. So let’s recap the big things.

 

30.

This year was my golden year — I turned 30 on the 30th of December.  I had originally intended on doing a 30 for 30 project, doing something new and inspiring everyday for the 30 days leading up to my birthday, but that didn’t exactly work out as planned.  But, that’s okay (and life) — I’m actually thinking of incorporating the 30 for 30 in a different way during my 30th year.  Stay tuned.

As pumped as I was/am about being 30, I must admit that Birthday Fiesta Weekend was a roller coaster time for me.  I am so incredibly thankful for my brain trust, who travelled upwards of 4 hours just spend it with me.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.

We drank. We laughed. We ate breakfast. We went to a casino for the first time, and I won my first (and only) hand of blackjack with 21. We doubled our money. We exchanged looks.  We smiled. We held hands. We danced by the boardwalk. We froze. We waited for a beautiful sunset, doubting it would ever happen, and when it actually did, we watched in amazement. We ate buffalo chicken dip for the first time and our whole lives changed. We drank. We drove. We cried. We played games. We slept in. We cried again. We drank more. We escaped. We listened to old school rap. We danced. We rang in the new year by a fire. We laughed. We crashed. We cried. We had amazing conversations. We ate more. We contemplated. We experienced. We smiled. My heart was complete.

2017.

The New Year came and went — it was all a blur amongst “Birthday Fiesta Weekend.”  In fact, January/February/March were a blur — there were so many HUGE changes that happened, its kinda crazy to think back on.  I got a job in Tampa. I moved myself and Ella out of our house and into a small apartment close to the highway.  We moved to a completely new town about 45 minutes away from all of our friends.  Ella started a completely new school. I despised the upwards of 3 hours I spent commuting to my job in Tampa because of the god-awful traffic. I went to a conference, met some really cool people who worked for a tech company that is headquartered in the new town I moved to. I applied for an open position. I interviewed. I got it. I LOVE IT. No more commute.  Ella had to start ANOTHER new school, this time close to our new home in our new town, near my even newer job.

New chapter. Turn the page.

It was a lot of change, all at once. But in traditional Ashley fashion, I’ve made it work, so far. I have no choice. Its just me and Ella Grey now. She’s looking to me to be strong, to be awesome. She’s my driving force to be better today than I was yesterday. She’s depending on me to be .. the best. She deserves the best.  She. Is. Everything.

 

Lakes, Sunsets and Love. Love. LOVE. 

With all the change, I must admit there are many new loves of my life.

First, I freaking love our new town — it’s the first place I’ve lived where I can actually see myself raising Ella.  It’s big enough, to where there’s always something going on or something to do — especially family friendly — but small enough to where I don’t have to worry about being here on my own in a scary big city, raising a little girl. Plus, my aunt and uncle live in the town too, so it’s nice to have family nearby. It reminds me a lot of Jacksonville, in the fact that there are a lot of young professionals who are working together to make it “cool.”  New, chic business are popping up left and right, all locally owned and operated, and I LOVE IT. Coffee is great, cute antique shoppes, and a really cool place that makes beignets! Did I mention there are a ton of lakes?  It’s nice to be near water again, even if we are in the middle of the state. 🙂 It’s a very active place — bike-friendly and running paths through the whole town.  Plus, photo-ops galore — and since I have the cutest daughter in the universe, it makes for really cute pictures.  🙂

We are officially closer to the west coast, which lead me to recently watching the sunset for the first time ever in my life.  I’m hooked.  It’s the most magical thing — watching the sun close on another day, paving the way for night — it’s breathtaking.  I try to make it over to watch it as much as I can.  With my partner in crime, of course.

And then.. there’s you.  There aren’t enough words, and even if there were, I still wouldn’t be able to tell you enough. You have brought me back to life. You remind me what it is like to feel again, and I feel so much. “Look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” Thank you for the reminder.

 

So, now what?

I’m back. I’m here. I have 4 months worth of thoughts to share with you.

 

Let’s get to work.

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15 Reasons to Be Thankful for the “Little Things”

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

In honor of the season, it seemed only fitting to have a “reasons to be thankful” post.  I couldn’t ever put into words how thankful I am for my husband, my baby girl, my family, and my friends. They are my oxygen — my reason to breathe, my everything.

Tonight, as I was putting away Ella’s toys, I was thinking about this post, and couldn’t help but smile.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day, the “busy”-ness of our lives, that we forget and/or miss out on what is really important.  The little things.

Since it’s 2015, and let’s face it — who would want to read 2015 reasons to be thankful — here are 15 little things I’m thankful for, in no particular order.

 

1. Washable Crayons: Ella is two, and we can tell she is already an artist.  All you have to say is “Color?” and she heads straight for the cabinet that houses all of the construction paper, crayons, and art supplies.  I love watching her learn and express her creativity — and embrace coloring outside the lines.

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2. Breakfast: Definitely my favorite meal of the day.  Ella usually wakes up and instantly wants pancakes, yogurt, or “bacon!” Sometimes, she decides to bring a bunch of her toys to the table with her, babbling in her own language — telling us all about her dreams she had.  Most days, breakfast is the one meal we can all sit down as a family to enjoy.

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3. Furry Friends: Bagheera is amazing with Ella.  She really tests his patience sometimes — from pulling his tail to sitting on him like a horse — but he hasn’t hissed or tried to hurt her AT ALL! In fact, he is so sweet with her that it’s hard to remember what it was like before she came along. They are already best friends, and it’s so exciting to watch!

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4. Rocking Chairs: We are a rocking chair family — I’m not sure many things compare to sitting outside in the fall, rocking, listening to the wind in the trees.  When Ella was a baby, we used to take her outside and rock her to sleep in this same chair that she is now big enough to climb into. It’s so funny how time flies, and life comes full circle.

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5. Morning Stretches:  Stretching and yoga have become a new gift to my life as of recently.  I’ve always been active, but even after running long distances, I wouldn’t ever give my body a good stretch to relax and unwind. Now, I make sure to do a little bit of stretching everyday, to loosen up, clear my mind, and relax.  I feel so much better when I make the time to do this,  and Ella thinks it’s fun, too!

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6. Grass: I love having a yard.  I know for many, this may be a weird, trivial thing — but coming from our tiny apartment to now having a yard, I don’t want to go back.  Going outside and running around with Ella in our backyard is, seriously, one of my favorite things.  The three of us have so much fun rolling around in the grass and really enjoying each other. (And this is one of my all-time favorite pictures!)

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7. Hair ties: I love that Ella’s hair is getting longer — it seems like just yesterday that she was born and her hair was so short. Now, we have to be creative in ways to get her to sit still long enough for us to put her hair up in a pony tail, to keep it out of her face. It’s just another reminder of how fast time is going by — I can’t believe it!

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8. Bubbles: I remember watching the movie “Knocked Up,” where Paul Rudd’s character talked about how his kids like bubbles, and how he wished he liked anything as much as they like bubbles. That part always sticks out to me when I see Ella react to something that seems so “small” to us — like, when she was a baby, she had a pair of toy keys.  If you shook the keys, they made a rattling noise that made her face light up with such joy. Nothing in her world was more exciting than those keys — or those bubbles.  I want to live my life everyday with that same joy and excitement. She helps me remember.

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9. Dress-up: My husband is amazing.  I really can’t say or express that enough.  He not only puts up with my crazy, but he embraces it — whenever I have any ideas that seem goofy, he is on board — and usually is giving me even more crazy ideas on how to make it even more awesome!  Not many girls can say their man wears matching holiday PJs or dresses up like Kristoff from “Frozen” to complete the look for their “Frozen Family” Halloween. He’s my hero, and I am so SO incredibly thankful.

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10. Giggles: They say the average child laughs hundreds of times a day, whereas an adult laughs significantly less, around 20 times or so. It’s time to raise our “laugh quota” friends!  What would happen if we started to laugh like a child again — what if the world start to smile and laugh more than complain, judge, or throw anger and hatred around? I heard someone say once, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.” I’m so grateful to have this little giggler around to remind me — and keep me young!

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11. Getting Lost: Have you ever visited a new city and just “got lost” for a little while?  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  It’s amazing what you can find, what new places you can discover, and new people you can meet when you put down the phone/GPS and just get lost for a while.  I think sometimes we forget how beautiful the world is because we are stuck behind a screen. It’s like the movie “Up” says — “Adventure is Out There!” Thank you for the adventure, little one. I can’t wait to see where else we go.

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12. Workout Buddy: I’m super lucky to have an incredible partner in crime,  who keeps me on my toes and holds me accountable.  Thank you for encouraging me and motivating me — I’m only growing and becoming my better self! Plus, Ella is become quite the “spotter.” Whenever we are busting out some push-ups or box jumps, she yells “Go! Go! Go!”  Our little cheerleader!

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13. Flowers: Ella loves flowers as much as her Momma does.  She is so cute —  she will say “flower,” put the flower to her nose and breathe in really deep, then exhale saying “ahhhhh…”

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14. Converse: This may be one of the only “materialistic” things on my list today, but the reason isn’t as material as it may seem.  The photo below is a shot of everyone in our wedding party — 7 years ago!  Every time I see people wearing Converse shoes, or I wear them myself, I remember how awesome and lucky we are to have such amazing friends and family. And now, little Ella wears them, too!

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15. “Wow!”: Two days ago, Ella and I were playing outside, and she looked up.  I’m not entirely sure what she was looking at — the clouds, the sky, the birds — but as she was looking up, she kept saying, “Wow!” Wow!  With such pure excitement and innocence.  She meant it.  Like “Wow! Isn’t the world so beautiful?”  Or “Wow! Can you believe we live here and can see this right now?” It’s amazing how a two year old can put life in perspective, without even knowing it.  Wow is right, baby. Wow. What an incredible life.

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I hope your Thanksgiving is magical! Let’s give thanks everyday! 🙂

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