Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Vacation In Film

Well, it's Sunday night and things are finally settling back into normal around here. My house needs a serious deep cleaning after being abandoned to my husband for a week and the piles of laundry are calling my name, but I wanted to take a moment to give you a quick recap of our vacation from last week in pictures.

Emma and I left last Monday for our yearly sabbatical to Branson, MO with my mom, my youngest sister, Faith, two of my cousins and my nephew, Noah. It is something I look forward to every year. Since, my mom works full time as a nurse, she doesn't get to spend a lot of time with my daughter or my nephew, so it's so nice to take these trips with her. Once a year, we go for a week and we take several weekend trips throughout the year. Emma always enjoys the extra time with Grandma Kelly and I enjoy the time away from home and with my mom.

Mya, Noah, and Emma
@ Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO

Emma and Mommy

Mya, Grandma Kelly, and Emma

This is one of my favorite pictures
that I took of Emma riding the tea cups.

Emma riding the dump truck: like father, like daughter;
Emma and Mya riding rides together! BFF's!

Me with some of my cousins, Jordan and Jordan, and my sister, Faith,
and the entire crew having lunch at Joe's Crab Shack.

It was incredibly hot every day that we were there, so we spent most days swimming and hanging out where it was cool, and venturing out in the evening for most of our outings. We enjoyed two evenings at Silver Dollar City, got to see a show, The Legend of Kung Fu, and my mom got me some super cute new clothes for my birthday (I promise to do a "fashion show" after my birthday and show them all to you!).

I don't know if any of you have ever been to Branson, MO, but I plan to do a series of blog post this week about why it is such a great family vacation spot, and highlight some of my family's favorite places to go, see, and eat. So everyone needs to get excited and come back to check it out! :)

I hope everyone had a great week! I'm looking forward to catching up on all the blog posts I missed last week!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Noah Allen!

Yesterday was my favorite nephew, Noah Allen's 4th birthday! We enjoyed a wonderful "Cars" themed birthday party at my mom's! It was great!

Noah with his mom and dad!
Present time!

Emma and Aunt Randi

Party Girl!

Birthday Cake!

It was a great weekend! Now I'm off to Branson, MO with my mom, my sister, Faith, a few of my cousins and my nephew! I'm looking forward to a great week of family time! I hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


"Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets."
- Paul Tournier

My eyes are tired. My heart is heavy. I need somewhere to unload this burden, because I don't know how to move forward until it is out. The psychologist I'm supposed/want to see won't call me back. I realized this week that I REALLY don't have any friends. So here I am. You've been warned.

I have secrets. Lots of secrets. And within the last few months, a lot of my secrets have been revealed like a scab being torn from a wound. It hurts. It bleeds. And at a time in my life when I was the one who actually needed someone, no one called me back. The people I thought I could depend on have walked away from me. Instead of encouraging me, they fed me excuses. Excuses for my life. For my secrets. They weren't trying to help me get through, they were trying to make me run. They wanted me to quit. Well, my momma didn't raise no quitter, and now this fighter is alone with no one in her corner.

I hate putting it in black and white. I hate saying out loud. But, I guess it's time. My husband struggles with anger management. His temper gets the best of him sometimes and sometimes that temper leads him to do hurtful things. To inflict pain. He's never actually hit me and I never have any bruises to show. But, he has laid his hands on me in anger. A lot.

Almost two months ago, on his birthday, we had a big fight. In front of people. I'm not sure what started it, but I can tell you alcohol was involved, and things just spiraled out of control. We couldn't stop it. We didn't have time to put everything back on its neat little shelf. The shelf of our lives that we show the world. Suddenly everyone knew. I actually had witnesses to my pain and that was heart wrenching. My secret was out. The gaping wound I had been hiding for so long was unbound, and I didn't know where to go from here.

Some of our friends were supportive and encouraged us to work through it. Some of our friends allowed us to blame it on the alcohol. And some of our friends, the ones who mattered the most to me, wanted me to leave. They fueled my bitterness. They poured salt into my wounds. I knew that's not what I wanted. I knew that wasn't best for my daughter. But, when people you trust are whispering in your ear, you can't help wonder if they are right. Even if you know, deep down that they are wrong.

Well, here we are two months later and I'm still here. My husband has made huge strides, and we are slowly picking up the pieces. He still has his moments, but he has not laid his hands on me again. We've been working through our issues and I've been working on healing. On forgiving. On moving forward. Somedays I feel like I'm stuck on pause. I feel like my feet and my heart don't know where to go. But, I know we are moving in the right direction no matter how painful that direction might be.

I think what hurts the most right now, is that the people I need the most have walked away, because I refused their "advice". It's probably for the best, because when they were in my life, they didn't help my wounds heal and they fed my bitterness. But, I still miss them. I still wish they would of helped me, instead of wanting me to hurt. I guess I expected more from them.

So, now here I am....alone with my secrets. I have no one to talk too. No one to turn too. No one to help me find the healing I need. I know God is with me and I know it is because of Him that we have come as far as we have, but I am human, and my body longs for a touch filled with comfort, human eyes filled with compassion and concern, and for spoken words, a voice, to be like balm to my aching heart. I just need someone to say they understand. I just need to be heard.

Because someday the sun is going to shine. Someday the light at the end of this tunnel is going to turn into a doorway leading to a brighter future, and it would be nice to have someone to share that with me. Someone I could call and just say, "I made it." and know that they know exactly what I mean. I think maybe that would make the loneliness of these secrets a little more bearable.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Little Karaoke Protege

Last night I took my sister, Faith to karaoke for probably the last time this summer. In two weeks, I sell my soul to Bootlegger Idol for 2 MONTHS, so my Thursdays are officially booked until October, and by then summer will be over and we will all be hanging on for the next one.

Anyway, there are only two restaurant on the water that offer family friendly environments, and only one of them offers karaoke during the week (to it's credit, the other restaurant offers sand volleyball leagues during the summer, which is great! We just like karaoke better!) . I am lucky because my good friend, Kyle, is the DJ at this restaurant, so it makes for some great karaoke. I took Faith last Thursday for the first time and she L.O.V.E.D it! Seriously. Karaoke is kind of in our blood. I don't know why or where we get it, but we all love it, so I knew she would too. Well, I was right, and she begged me to take her again this week. So, I picked her up, and our cousin, Jordan, and we headed out for one more Thursday night of karaoke.

Most of the restaurants on the water, are outside patio-type eating environments and the restaurant we went to last night, isn't any different. Most nights it's fun to sit outside, have a drink, and listen to music or karaoke, but it's been so hot around here lately, that even last night at 7:00 PM the humidity was a little ridiculous.

I ended up taking Emma, because Randy had basketball practice, and bringing her really limited our time, because she was ready to go by 8:30 PM. Faith and Jordan were disappointed, but what can you do. I actually thought Emma did really well for how hot it was and for the lack of "children's activities" that were available to her. For the most part, she sat quietly at our table, playing with the little toys I brought for her and sipping her Dr. Pepper, while Faith and I sang to our hearts content (Well, almost content).

Overall, it was a great night. Definitely one for the books. I wish Faith were old enough to come watch me compete at Bootlegger's. I feel like she's missing out on an important part of my life I may never get to experience again. However, I guess it makes moments like these just that much more special.

Yes, these moments that make my summer, and what make me so sad to see it drawing to a close. Even though it's been so hot, I would keep the heat, just to hang onto summer and it's memories a little bit longer. What about you? What do you love the most about summer?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's Your Song?

This week has been very emotionally draining for me. On top of dealing with some tough personal stuff, my grandfather has been in the hospital. He is 82 years old and he's been in and out of the hospital a lot over the past year. While it never seems serious, usually it's due to complications with his many medications, part of me knows that the end is near. I can feel it, and it makes my heart ache. I know he's old and he's had a great life, but, that doesn't change the fact that he's my grandpa and it's hard to watch him fade. You know?! Anyway, he gets to go home today, and I'm going to go pick him up. But, before I shower and start my day, I wanted to link up with Goodnight Moon.

My song choice today is a song I've been listening to a lot this week. Not only because it kind of applies to my personal situation, but because with the help of a friend, I have decided to do this song for Group Night of my karaoke competition! The video is super cute, and my friends and I are going to act out parts of the video, while I sing the song! I've almost got all my props, and my local county historical society is letting me rent period costumes from them, which is going to be way cheaper than actually buying costumes! Woohoo! I can't wait to see my flapper dress!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! I can't wait for September 29th!

Working on my songs for competition has been the brightest part of my week, and it has given me something positive to focus on, instead of all the pain around me. How's your week been?

If you get a chance, swing by and play along with us over at the "What's Your Song?" link up! It is always the highlight of my week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cyberbully Review

Yesterday during Emma's nap time, I was able to finally sit down and watch Cyberbully. I DVR'd it Sunday night, because we had a birthday party to attend and I wanted to be able to sit down and watch it when I had some downtime.

I really, really enjoyed this movie. Emily Osment and ABC Family did a great job of bringing to life an important issue that is affecting our children, and even some adults. They really held nothing back from the actors emotions to the storyline to the things they were "saying online". It was very true to life. In fact, the story mirrored the Megan Meier story from the fake account to the fact that a family friend created the fake account. It definitely brought to life that terrible incident, and how more states should move to create laws to protect minors from cyberbullying.

I think the direct link to the Megan Meier story has to do with the fact that ABC Family and Seventeen Magazine joined forces with the Megan Meier Foundation to help stomp out digital drama through The Rally To Delete Digital Drama. This was a live event that took place on July 14th with the help of ABC Family's young stars.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie and I actually saved it on my DVR so I can watch it again with my 12 year old sister and 14 year old cousin. I truly believe this is a movie that should be shared with tweens and teens, because it helps to send the message that it is okay to ask for help, and to take steps to stand up for themselves and remove digital drama from their lives.

I wanted to leave you with one of the movie's trailers, and I also wanted to let everyone know that according to my DirectTV Guide, this movie is scheduled to play again on ABC Family tomorrow, July 20th at 8:00 PM. So, please go and set your DVR right now, especially if you know a tween or teen you could share this movie with. I mean, after all, our kids are bombarded with so much crap through the media that its nice to see movies being produced with a positive message that might change someone's life.

I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday! I'm off to a swim date with my girl!

I did not receive any monetary compensation from ABC Family or Seventeen Magazine for a "good review". The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own and I wrote this post of my own free will.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Ties That Bind

"God doesn't give you the people you want.
He gives you the people you need.
To help you, to hurt you, to leave you, to love you,
and to make you into the person you were meant to be."

I've been "raising" kids since I was 13 years old. It started the summer before my mom gave birth to my youngest sister, Faith. That was when we were finally old enough for her to leave my two younger sisters and I home alone without a babysitter during summer vacation. Shortly after that summer, Faith came along and my whole life officially changed. Both my parents worked full time, and they did what they had to do. They depended on me. I became "mom" when no one else was around.

Don't get me wrong. They weren't bad parents or "dead beat" parents. They were always home in the evening, usually in time to make us dinner. I never "wanted" for anything. I never had to give up a full night of sleep to care for my baby sister in the middle of the night. I did normal teenage girl things like have sleepovers with friends, and talk on the phone for hours. I even played sports.

Yes, I was a normal teenager who had a normal life, but the truth is that a baby DOES change everything, and before I knew it, I found myself missing out some of those crucial "growing up" steps. I had to grow up too fast. My awkward stage was way more awkward and it lasted longer, because I wasn't just trying to transition from child to teenager, I was trying to transition from child to adult.

Because of this, I have always been the"responsible one". I never snuck out as a kid or pushed my limits. I never smoked, and I didn't even have my first sip of alcohol until my 21st birthday. I never did anything to cause my parents grief (well, while I was in high school). I was pretty much a straight ace kid. I did okay in school. I had good grades. I excelled in sports, and I always, always, always helped my parents with my sisters. I learned to cook and clean, as well as, the basics of bottle feeding, burping, changing diapers, and putting a baby to sleep all before 14 years old. I was a trooper. I was someone for my family to count on. I helped them get through the everyday; the mundane. Sure I questioned it! Yes, sometimes it made me mad! Part of me, that part who never got to finish being a kid, always resented my parents for it. But, just like everything else that life has dealt me, I got through it. It made me stronger. It made into the mother I am today.

But, something that hasn't changed is the responsibility. I am still the "responsible one". I am the one bending over backwards to do anything and everything for my family: Kasie needs an alibi, she knows I'm there. Randi needs a FREE babysitter so she can work outrageous hours or run around with her new boyfriend, she knows I never say "no". My dad needs someone to whine to about how one of my sisters isn't talking to him or how my mom just chewed his ass, he knows my phone number. My mom needs to remind me everyday how she is working 50+ hours a week just to help my sisters and I "get by", she knows my email address. I'm the one who never says "no", who never has the guts to tell the truth. I bottle everything up inside, no matter how much it hurts, and I put on my face. I just do whatever they need me to do, and be whoever they need me to be. I'm their "go to" girl, the one who never tries to step on their toes or complains. I love them in spite of their faults. I am unchanging, unfaltering, and constant.

But, you know, the truth is I am stressed. I am tired. I am weary. And as of last night, I am ready for a change. Because after a long talk with a good friend, I realized something: I don't have to do this anymore...not for them. Randy and Emma are MY family now. They should be my first priority. They should be getting the best of me, and they aren't.

Yesterday, Randy and I had another HUGE fight about having another baby. Why does it always have to be a fight? Well, at the time, I didn't know. But, after talking with my friend, I realized that what scares me the most about having another baby is the responsibility. The fact that I will be adding one more thing to my already heaping full plate. That since I have so much stress and drama in my life, it's hard for me to comprehend putting more on myself, especially since I struggled with postpartum depression after I had Emma. I just know I can't handle it. I can't handle one more thing in my life, even if this time it is FOR me and FOR Randy and FOR Emma . And, you know, that's sad. It's sad that my extended family has so much of a hold on my life, that I can't even find the desire to have more children with my husband, because I give so much of myself to them day in and day out.

On top of all that, I am constantly seeking their approval about me as a wife and a mother. I let my dad nag at me to go back to work, because he thinks the fact that I stay home is a huge "financial mistake". My mom, who helps us out so much financially so I can stay home, makes me feel guilty about adding another baby to the budget. Randi, well she depends on me to help with my nephew and be her FREE, open 24/7 sitter, so I worry about adding a third child to the mixture. And Kasie, well she doesn't really need me...ever, but part of me wants to be available to her just in case she calls me to hang out. I let my extended family and their opinions/needs of my life dictate what MY family needs/wants way TOO much. I realize this now, and as of today, I'm done.

I don't want to draw lines. I don't want to cut anyone out, but if it comes down to that I will. I'm done. I am going to set up some boundaries and some ground rules. It's time. It's time for me to say, "I love you, but I need you to back off, and to quit relying on me. I need you to live your lives, and let me live mine." I also need to quit allowing them to be so involved with my life, because in truth, they are doing more damage than good. Randy and I will never be able to move on or work through the things we need to work through with them whispering in our ear.

This may seem heartless and hard to understand, because you don't know the whole story. But, I don't have time to re-live my whole life for you. I just know that it's time for Ashley to put on her big girl panties, to embrace the word "no", and to start staking claim to some of the things I want for MY life. I have dreams and ambitions. I have places I want to go, things I want to do, and someone I want to be other than the "go to" girl. I have a family that needs me. I have a husband who needs a wife who doesn't resent him, who is truly trying to forgive him, and who is wants to reconnect with her best friend. I have a daughter who needs me to be a mother who always has time for her, who always puts her first, and who raised her to chase her dreams by setting the example. These are the people who are number one to me, and who should always have the best of me and my time.

Sometimes the ties that bind, tie us too tightly. They bind us to the past, to a life of pain and regret, and it's up to us to cut those ties and seek out the freedom we deserve to be ourselves and to chase our own dreams. One of the most difficult choices we will ever have to make, as individuals, is whether we should just move on, or hold on a little tighter.

“Sometimes you have to give up on people.
Everyone that is in your journey is meant to be in your journey,
but not everyone is meant to stay there.”

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cyberbully Premieres

As many of you know, one of the "agendas" of my blog is to talk about and provide resources for people whose children have been or are victims of bullying. Cyberbullying is one of the most common types of bullying affecting our children today thanks to easy access from social networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter.

I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to prevent this kind of bullying is to educate our children about appropriate social networking use, "friending" them on these social networking sites, and setting a good example for our children. However, I realize that you can't watch your children every minute of everyday, so teaching your children how to deal with these situations and when to ask for help is also crucial.

That is why I am so excited about the new ABC Family movie, "Cyberbully". I love Emily Osment, and I am really excited to see her using her career to make a positive difference in other young people's lives. Not only is she playing in this movie, but she is also joining with ABC Family and Seventeen Magazine to help with the "Rally To Delete Digital Drama". I am really excited to see ABC Family and it's young stars getting involved with such a great initiative.

I would encourage everyone, especially if you are the parent of a tween or teen to sit down and watch this movie. Even if you have to set your DVR to record it, I think this movie will definitely open up the conversation about bullying and cyberbullying.

I think this type of harassment is alive and well in our country's schools and it's up to us to take a stand and do what we can to end it. I believe that sometimes we choose to or unknowingly ignore a problem, because it is not directly affecting us or our loved ones. But if more people would choose to get behind an issue and speak out about it, then that would help the voices of those who ARE being directly impacted by these issues be heard.

So, set your DVR and support this movie with a cause. I don't think you will be disappointed.

I did not receive any monetary compensation for this blog post from ABC Family or Seventeen Magazine. The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. I chose to share this information willingly.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sick Day

It's been HOOOTTT around here! I'm trying not to complain because I HATE winter, and I'd rather not have any rain, so we've been dealing with the heat the only way we know how: the pool. Emma and I HAD big plans to go swimming at the gas dock where my sisters work today. We've had a busy week, and I was looking forward to an afternoon of soaking up some rays and relaxing by the water. It was going to be glorious...until Emma woke up this morning.

The stomach flu bug has found my house...UNINVITED, I might add! Yuck! I don't think this time will be as bad as when we had the stomach flu back in January, but it's still not been fun. Thanks to the flu, my day of soaking up the sun has turned into a day of sweat pants, Nick Jr., and nap time, while being intermingled with frequent, sudden trips to bathroom and impromptu bath times to help my sweet girl smell a little less like vomit. Yep, totally sounds like the Friday YOU wish YOU were having, right?! NOOOTTT! (Well maybe the nap time part, huh?!)

My heart does ache for her. I never like to see my girl sick, so I will do my best to enjoy the cuddles and the down time. Maybe I'll even get a nap in myself. But, right now I'm off to read some books with her over the puke bowl.

What's up with your Friday? Better than mine, I hope :)

picture source

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What's Your Song?

Today I am finally linking up again with Amber over at Goodnight Moon. I've been gone a few weeks, but today I'm back with a bang!

Our USB cord for our TV was fried a few nights ago due to a series of power outages caused by a late night storm. Well, if you didn't know, USB cords for your TV are kind of expensive! So, we decided to wait until next week to get a new one and instead we have been enjoying our Netflix and several of the movies we own, but never watch because of the luxury of satellite TV. Anyway, so yesterday I had the privilege of introducing my sister, Faith, to some of my favorite "classic" movies:

picture source

picture source

We managed to squeeze these in during nap time (Yes, my daughter still takes long naps! It makes up for the fact that she still doesn't sleep through the night!). It was so much fun and some great girl time! I just loved giving Faith the opportunity to watch some truly great movies, especially with all the crap that is being fed to her generation (Hello Step Up 1 and Step Up 2!). She loved both of them and I sent her home feeling like I had done my big sister duty for the day.

Well, my song for today is from "That Thing You Do". I love this movie! I have loved it since I was in the 7th grade, and no matter how many times I watch it, it never gets old to me! I have all of the good lines memorized and I used to own the soundtrack until my CD's were stolen out of my car during my freshmen year of college. This movie brings back so many wonderful memories and if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it! So without further adieu!

See?! Don't you just wanna see this movie now?! LOL! Well, even if I didn't sell it to you, I still love it...A LOT!

While your here please swing over and enter my very first giveaway! I've only had three people enter and I really need you all to show me some love! Also, don't forget to head on over to Goodnight Moon and get in on all the fun!

Happy Thursday!

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I do not receive monetary compensation from any of the products, companies, or organizations I promote through my blog, unless otherwise specified during a giveaway or promotion. I am just your average mom trying to share products that I enjoy with other moms, as well as organizations and charities I believe in.