Ashley: reinvented.

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Life has a funny way of teaching you things you never knew you needed to learn.

At the beginning of 2016, I chose a one word theme for the year — something to help keep me motivated, something to drive me and my decisions, something BIGGER than resolutions that are notorious for being broken time and time again.  I chose growth.  Growth.

Growth –  noun.

  • the process of growing.

Growing – verb

  • to become better or improved in some way

I’ve always been the type of person who had expectations of how my life would go, or plans on how it would all work out in the end.  By choosing the word “growth” this year, my expectations were that I would gain insight into different aspects of my life to live a little happier. I was seeking that “passion” in my career that everyone talks about when they say “living the dream” or “love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”  I was seeking that “drive” when it came to living a healthier lifestyle, becoming “fit” mentally, physically, emotionally. I was looking to find more sunshine and rainbows, even in the mundane “everyday” routinized activities we “have” to do. Talk less, smile more. Become a better “me” so I can be better in every other role I fill.
I had no idea how much “growing” I would actually have to do this year.

How much work I needed to do, not just in the areas I wrote above — but in areas I didn’t even know needed help.

Or did I know but refused to believe it? Or did I know but just was too blind to actually see it?  Was my heart confusing my head, or was my head telling my heart different things to protect it from getting broken?

Will I ever know?

Does it even matter now, at this point?

I’m not sure I believe in the adage “Everything happens for a reason.”  I believe that everything happens the way it is supposed to, whether there is a reason or not. I’m still trying to wrap my head (and heart) around the “not needing to understand reasons or lack of reasons” part, but I’m working on it.

Someone wise once told me, “Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.” I believe that. We have one life, one chance, one moment, one breath, one body, one mind, one soul. Now is the time, the time is now.

Remember. Stop crying in the corner of the kitchen. Pick up your pieces.  Dust off your shoulders.  Breathe in, slowly let it out.

Remember. Smile from your liver. Stop, Cancel Cancel. Everyday is another opportunity it turn it all around.

Remember. 10 miles, barefoot. Stronger than you think. Move forward. Look back, but only to enjoy the memories and then let them go.

Remember. 26 breaths per minute. Take another one. One foot in front of the other. One more mile ran. One more sad song. “How does it feel?”

Remember. “I’m not in love with you anymore, I’m in love with someone else.” “Eat. Workout. Clean yourself up.” Supernova. Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.

Reme
mber. “Today is going to be a great day. The sun is shining, a few clouds in the sky. And today is going to be a great day.” “God, please help me.” Send me love and light, and drop it.

Remember. She’s looking to you. She deserves it. She is everything. She will learn from you how to get through the seemingly impossible. Find rainbows everyday.

Remember. “They will be lining up at your door.” Columbia. Afternoon movies and bookstores. Falling more in love with the city that never sleeps. Can’t start a new chapter when you keep rereading the old ones.

Remember. Prospect. Central. Try new things. Talk less, smile more. Move forward, with me. Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.

Remember. Just remember.

 

You’ve got this. Don’t you forget it.

Find rainbows everyday.  When you are living the best version of yourself, you inspire others to live the best versions of themselves. Love the person you’ve become because you fought to become her. Sometimes the negative things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the BEST things that will ever happen to us.

Growth.

Ashley: Reinvented.

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A Love Letter (or, A Tale of Desperation from a Sleep Deprived Momma)

Oh, you.  I remember you.  So well, in fact.  You were like a dream — in fact, I embraced you with that notion in mind.  Dream.

You know how they say hindsight is 20/20?  I fear that when I had you in my life, I took you for granted.  I didn’t give you the appreciation you deserved.  You had been there, pretty much since the beginning.  When others were doubting they would ever see you again in those early weeks/months, I would stand back and say nothing.  A slight smile would curl at the end of my lips, because.. I was confident in US.  I knew all the work, the scheduling, the routines we had built were solid.  We were a team.  We made it work.  We MADE it.. 2.5 years of greatness.  I thought the hard times were behind us, and we had persevered with grace, dignity. We were unstoppable.

I didn’t tell you that enough.  I didn’t express my gratitude enough.  I didn’t remind you that you are beautiful. I didn’t let you know how much you meant to me.

I wasted time.  I piddled away valuable minutes, hours. Time that I will never get back.  Time that we could’ve spent together.

People warned me about this.  People said this could happen — but I refused to believe it.  People told me when you were there I needed to take advantage of every opportunity to be with you — but I didn’t.  I found other things to occupy my time — wasteful things.  Irrelevant things.  If I wasn’t with you, I could’ve been productive, at least.  But I wasn’t.

I fear things may never be the same. You are distant now.  You come and go, sporadically — sometimes you are here, sometimes you are gone.  Sometimes I force being with you, and it hurts — like I’m trying to hold on to something that wants to be let go.

I’m finding myself going to extremes to have you stay.  I bought new sheets — did you notice?  New pillow? New blanket?  It’s fun colors and super soft — I thought you would like it.  Did you see I upgraded us to a new BIGGER bed?  I thought that would be a welcome change compared to the squeaky crib mattress, or pile of pillows and blankets on the floor.  I’m sure it was hurting your back as much as it was hurting mine.  I did this all with you in mind.  I did this all for you.  For us.  So we could be together again — on a consistent, regular basis.  Like we used to be.

As much as it hurts, I understand that this is happening. I get it.  I mean, she’s growing up.  This is part of life — and I’m sure these past three weeks of missing you aren’t going to be the last ones we have for the next 18 years — or forever.

But, in case I forget to tell you.  In case I fail to mention.  In case we never see each other again —

I love you.  I miss you.  Please come back.  I promise I’ll be better, I’ll treat YOU better.

You. Complete. Me.

Longingly yours,

Ashley (aka the sleepless momma who is currently going through sleep regression with a cranky and tantrumy  2.5 year old –and is dog-tired and can’t help but focus on all that is lost — sleep.)

For reference: 🙂

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We’re back!

Ahh, friends!  We are back!

I spent a week trying to figure out how to transfer my sweet little blog from a .com to a .org hosting — and made a complete mess of things!  Can you believe it? 😉  However, finding the silver lining — I’ve learned so much more about how to run this page — and am excited for more changes in the near future.

Meanwhile, as this mess unfolded.. here are some pretty cool accomplishments our little family made in the past two weeks (with some pictures!):

  • We are in full force potty-training mode!  Because of this, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep clothes on this child — she wants to be naked ALL.THE.TIME.
  • I have two special projects I’m currently working on that are almost near completion — both are creatively based, which is SO awesome!  One of the projects was supposed to launch last weekend, but we ran into a few bumps along the way — technology 1, Ashley 0. I’m hoping for a June 1 launch for (at least) one of them.
  • My Granny turned 80 last week!  That is so incredible to me — and she’s my hero.
  • Ella went on her first slip-n-slide! She loved it — and so did we!

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  • We are experiencing a bit of 2.5 year old sleep regression — that I’m learning is because of her two year old molars coming in.  Seems the little girls only wants to fall asleep with one of us in her room with her — and she sneaks into our bed in the middle of the night.  I’m still not 100% this is the best decision, but I’m enjoying the extra snuggles while I have them.
  • I failed Whole 30 this month — but I’m already starting to meal plan for June!  Plus, this month we tried out Hello Fresh, and holy-tasty-food!  I’ve been REALLY enjoying every meal I’ve made so far, and they are fairly healthy for you — bonus!
  • Ella’s language has been EXPLODING — she’s definitely made it to the “Mockingbird” stage. She’s growing up — which makes me so incredibly happy and sad at the same time.  Oh, and did I mention we visited her potential preschool — yeah. I cried.
  • We were super lucky to have a DATE NIGHT (well… it was more of an afternoon, but still!).  Raux and I went to see one of our friends in a show, then went to check out the new Town Center area of Disney Springs.  Even got to hang out with “Auntie K” and enjoy some delicious food and cocktails.  “MOM ON THE LOOSE!” Really, though — it was a blast.  And, we waited in line for 30 minutes for a cupcake, which was silly — but worth it! 🙂

I’m so happy to have the blog BACK up and running!  We are currently working on changing up the appearance, so look for some changes coming soon!

Happy Monday!

Tot School: Week 4

Hi friends!

Week 4 of Tot School was SO MUCH FUN!!  We had planned to do a whole lesson about Spring, but one of our littles wasn’t able to join this week — so instead, we focused our time on learning more about ABCs and 123s!  This way, we could save the fun plans for Spring until we had all of our babes present. 🙂

I’ve had a few people message me on FB about our weekly lesson plans — so I’ve decided to create a cute graphic for each week, listing out the different activities we do.  This way, you can use the graphic as a guideline, and delve more into the blog post about details of what each activity entailed.  It is SO exciting to hear all the positive feedback about our littles and our mommy “dream-come-true” Tot School — as well as inspiring to hear that many of you are interested in starting your own Tot School!  Just more proof (like we needed any?) that Moms are SO AMAZING and SUPERHEROES. 🙂

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We started off this week with a review of our colors using our bandanas.  We tried two approaches to this:  we asked them to pick out certain colors from a pile (ie. “Where is the PINK bandana?”), as well as held up a color and asked them to name it (ie. “What color bandana is THIS?”).  The girls were SO fast at doing this — I think it’s safe to say colors are officially MASTERED — which means, this mommy needs to find a “color” themed badge for our little Explorers’ sashes!  We will more than likely continue to keep a color testing activity in each lesson, just to keep it fresh!

After colors, we practiced our number skills by using flashcards to name off which number was on each card.  The numbers ranged from 1-25.  Most of the girls had 1-10 down, but 11-25 was a challenge.  This is great to know, as I can now cater future lessons to develop those number skills.  Lilly Belle brought her abacus with her for this class, which the girls loved playing with (and naming off the colors), although they didn’t quite get the purpose of using it.  We showed them that you can move each piece one at a time to count “1….2….3…” but they would end up moving 5 pieces at a time or more.  But, they are learning — and that’s all that matters!  This was the first class that we really introduced numbers, so it’s amazing to see how far along they already are (kudos to you Mommas for at home teaching!!). IMG_4034.jpg

After number flashcards, we retreated to the kitchen for “painting” with our Do-A-Dot markers!  On top of our usual “dot” a letter or shape (in this case, we dotted the letters A, B, and C), I threw in a new activity of “find the correct letter and dot!”  I found these cute worksheets on Pinterest (swoon!), so we did these sheets for the letters A, B, and C.  This was fun to watch — I think the girls had anticipated the activity to be the same as it has been for the past few weeks, but throwing this activity in switched it up a bit — and they seemed to have fun!  I’m definitely going to have to do more practice of these at home with Ella Grey — she gets “dot-happy” and wants to just dot EVERYTHING.  Another lesson in mommy patience and understanding. 🙂

After we used our dot markers, I introduced a pasting activity — where the girls had to match the correct shape/object next to the letter it started with.  I simply cut these shapes out by hand, but I’m sure you can find ones to print online.  We did “A is for Apple, B is for Bee, and C is for Cat.”  This was nice to do, also, because it was something the Mommas could take home and hang on their fridge.  We did this in our house, and it’s cute/helpful — as Ella will walk past it pretty much daily and say “APPLE — CAT — A — B — C!” Constant exposure and practice!

I managed to find a hidden gem recently at our local Target, where they sell letter and number shaped chocolate “animal” crackers — PERFECT for our little Tots!  We used these “cookies” after our pasting activity to recite our letters and numbers, and attempt to spell our names (which proved to be a bit more difficult — not enough Ls and Es for this group!).  Best part for them? They could eat it — and boy, did they!

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We finished up our day of ABCs and 123s by putting together a big Alphabet puzzle.  This puzzle was awesome because it has uppercase and lowercase letters — something I know Ella Grey needs to work on, and the other littles too!

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It warmed my heart watching the three girls put this together — and as they found the letters, they were naming off the color too.  I’d say that’s a double win .. 1 for Mommas, and 1 for Tot School.


Tot School is such a beautiful experience, and the learning goes beyond the time that we are with our friends once a week.  Ella has picked up SO much in the past 4 weeks — even those moments when you don’t think you littles are paying attention or understanding — THEY ARE!  She gets SO excited about learning — instead of grabbing the TV remote, she will grab her flashcards.  Instead of constantly playing with toys, she wants to play with her puzzles.  And, I think being around the other little ones is helping her develop her language skills even more.

Best. Idea. Ever. 🙂

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DIY Wednesday: Engagements, Chalk Paint, and HOCKEY!

Happy Wednesday, friends!!

Today’s DIY Wednesday was a super fun project inspired by a great friend who wanted to make a special gift for her recently engaged bestie.

She wanted to make a “Countdown to the Wedding” canvas, with a chalkboard heart where the bride-to-be can write how many days are left. The two friends are HUGE hockey fans, specifically for the New York Rangers — so what better than to create a hockey-themed “Countdown Until We FACE-OFF!” print!

When my friend brought this idea to me, I was stoked!  I love doing anything crafty, and any excuse to bust out the paintbrushes — I’m down!  So, last week, prior to Tot School, she came over and we got to work!

First, we gather the supplies.  I managed to find square canvases on sale at Michaels a few weeks ago — got 7 canvases for $12, with 40%. SCORE! I already had the red and blue paint, and my friend brought painter’s tape, black chalk paint, and a silver paint marker.

 

We wanted the canvas to have thick red and white stripes, with two blue thinner lines in between.  I used a measuring tape and ruler to create clean lines, then we taped over the areas that needed to stay white.  Also, I cut out a stencil heart, that we would then fill with chalk paint, so the bride to be can use chalk to countdown the days. We traced the heart in the top left corner, and then taped out the heart, too.

After the lines and hearts were taped out, it was time to paint!  We painted several coats for both the red and blue lines, just so they popped against the white.  LET THE PAINT DRY COMPLETELY BEFORE REMOVING THE PAINTER’S TAPE!  And, be careful when removing it.. sometimes it likes to tear off the paint from the canvas, which can luckily be fixed. 🙂

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After removing the tape, we painted the chalk paint in the area that was taped out for the heart.  This paint was very thick, and actually only needed one (good) coat.  Again, let it dry completely!

We used a silver paint pen to write out the words.  Since they LOVE hockey, we thought it was cute to incorporate that theme into the wording, thus us choosing to write “days until we face-off.”  We hesitated at first, thinking it may sound a bit combative — but in the end, we felt it fit the couple most and they would appreciate the hockey reference. The silver paint pen needed several coats, so be patient!  I then traced out the wording with a black Sharpie marker to make it POP.

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And, that’s it!  Super easy, cute, and the bride-to-be was SO happy.

Are you going to try something similar to this at home? Let me know!  I’d love to see what you create! 🙂 Email me, check out my page on Facebook, or drop me some love in the comments below!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week, so far!

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Tot School — Week One!

Hi everyone!

This week has been wonderful — and one of the best parts of it was the start of Tot School!  Tot School is a dream come true for the “I-love-everything-creative-and-am-Pinterest-crazy” Momma in me, and consists of a small group of Mommas and their littles (all are around 2 years old) engaging twice a week for a few hours to teach fundamentals like colors, shapes, alphabet, textures, animals, etc.  It’s like a “free” preschool, where the teachers are the parents, and the littles get to learn with their new friends in one of their homes.

This week, we learned about colors, which was so much fun!  Our group was small — only Ella Grey and her friend Lilly Belle — and I’m almost positive us Mommas may have had more fun creating the activities than EG and LB had doing them! But, that’s okay!  We are learning — all of us, even the Mommas! 🙂

We started the morning off with a Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin, that the girls LOVED playing in.  You can find many tutorials on Pinterest on how to create dyed rice, but I think I will be posting a special DIY on here, too, for anyone who is interested. The girls really enjoyed running their hands through the rice, and then decided to use toys from LB’s play kitchen to “make lunch.” Their imaginations are amazing.

After we finished up with the sensory bin, we sorted Fruit Loops cereal by color and strung cereal necklaces.  Ella was more interested in playing with Lilly Belle’s toys at this point, and had no interest in sorting colors.  I did manage to get her to play for a few minutes, in which she mostly just ate the cereal — but hey, we’re working on it.  LB was amazing — she picked up the “stringing” part of making her necklace in no time!

After we were sugared up from cereal (and ate some tasty ORANGES and BLUEberries), we painted fish with celery!  The girls weren’t really sure how to “stamp” with the celery at first, and in the end, they just decided to use the celery as a “brush” instead.  When we finished painting, we went outside and drew colored circles on the ground, and tried to get the girls to “JUMP!” on certain colors.  This didn’t really work out the way we planned, but the girls still had fun just jumping around and naming colors that we pointed to.  We’ll need more practice with this activity!

This wrapped up Day One — and we were so happy with the way everything played out!  The girls had fun, the Mommas had fun, and we were SO excited for the next day!

Day Two was just as much fun as Day One, except we only managed to hold the girls attention long enough to do one activity.  They were too excited about playing with toys, and also Raux came with us, so he did magic for LB (which she LOVED).  The activity we did was using Dot Markers to create a dotted rainbow.  LB really enjoyed this activity, Ella stamped for a little bit, but was “too busy” to finish — so I helped… a little. 🙂

We had a great time playing LB’s house — so much so, we fell asleep in the car on the way home!  Later that night, as we were putting away our bath toys, Ella was able to name the correct color of each toy.  My heart exploded — even though their attention spans were short, and they played more than learned on the second day, it’s still sinking in!  They are learning — our schooling is working!

Ella and I have continued to practice colors all week, and she’s getting quicker and quicker with naming the correct color.  Sometimes she mixes up “purple” and “green,” but for the most part, she’s been getting them all right!  Last night, I found a bag of little “pom moms” in our craft cabinet.  Using her bowls, I had her match up the correct pom with the correct bowl.  Raux was so amazed that she was getting most of them right.  All it takes is some practice and big “hoorays!” when she gets it right. 🙂

All in all, Week One of Tot School was a huge success!  We can’t wait until next week.  We were originally thinking of doing “Shapes” next week, but we might continue with colors since two more littles will be joining us.  We’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

PS. Want to see more pictures and read more about our week at Tot School?  Check out my amazing, beautiful, and super talented friend Chelsea!  Her blog is called Growing Up Lanese and definitely worth reading!

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DIY Wednesday: Classic Cars (Toddler Edition)

Hi friends!

I’m so excited to share this fun and creative project with you guys today!

Lately, we have been experiencing A LOT of rain.  No complaints really — I genuinely love the rain, rainy days with a book and a cup of hot tea are my FAVORITE.  Rainy days with a toddler, however, can get tiring — especially when that particular toddler LOVES being outside, and whines about not being able to go play.  😉  So, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do…. get creative.

Do you remember your first car?  No, not your 2 door Honda Civic — or in my case, a 1974 Datsun Nissan stationwagon that I cleverly named “Shaggy” with its shag-rug steering wheel cover. Ah, memories.

But no, I’m talking further back.. you know what I mean: cardboard box, invisible steering wheel, wheels made with construction paper.  Your FIRST car.  A car that could take you ANYWHERE — the kitchen, the “store,” the moon.  A car that was big enough for you to fit in, but also fit all of your imaginary friends and several stuffed animals. A car where you didn’t need roads… you made your own.

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Oh yes, we made a car.  A car that provided at least an hour of distraction, tons of giggles, an arm workout for Momma, and a beautiful memory that deserves to be written out.

Here’s what you need:

  • Cardboard box — we used an empty diaper box
  • Kraft paper/Wrapping Paper — in the color of your choice
  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue and Tape
  • Rope — optional, but you will probably want this

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First, you will need to cut off the flaps of the box — you will be using these for the wheels and windshield.  Next, wrap the box with your kraft or wrapping paper — as if you were wrapping a present, but leaving the inside part of the box open (as this is where your little one will be sitting). After that, you can use the flap pieces to cut out 4 circular shapes for the wheels of the car.  Make sure to keep one of the longer flaps, as you will use this for a windshield.

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Once all of the pieces are cut, trace the shape of the wheels on black construction paper.  Cut the circles out, and carefully glue onto the cardboard wheels.  When all four wheels are covered, you can then glue each one near the base of the box, but not touching the floor.  Glue two on each side, to resemble the wheels of a car.  Helpers are always appreciated, especially when they think they are Mickey Mouse.

Next, take the long flap piece, and wrap it with white construction paper. Once wrapped, you can glue or tape this piece on the inside of the car on the “front side” of the car.  This should be placed at an angle — as to mimic a windshield.  If glue or tape doesn’t hold this in place, feel free to use a stapler.  Then, HAVE FUN!  Cut up pieces of construction paper to decorate your car as you wish.  We make headlight, brake lights, a grill, and a license plate.

The last step is optional, but recommended.   We added a rope to our car by cutting a smaller hole in the front of the car — we fed it through the hole and knotted it several times to hold.  This will be so you can pull your child around your house. Ella LOVED this — she kept saying “beep beep” and laughing as I pulled her around. 🙂

I hope you try this out — and if you do, leave me a comment below!  We love hearing from you! 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!

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