Monday, February 27, 2012

Randi's Fabulous 25th!

This weekend was my sister, Randi's 25th birthday! We had made big plans to go to a casino, but those got shot down when we learned the casino was completely booked for this weekend. So, we went with Plan B: Dinner and bowling, which turned out to be the best night ever.

We ate dinner at this new Italian place. It has a nice upscale atmosphere, but with a reasonably priced menu. They also have HUGE portions, which is always a plus. We sat and ate and talked for almost two hours. It was fabulous! After dinner, we had an awesome photo op session in the foyer of the restaurant. Not only did we get some great, "normal" pictures, but we also had an awesome time taking pictures with the fake mustaches we bought out of their gumball machine! It was fantastic!

The birthday girl, Randi with Faith


 Jannea and Kyle

Dad and Faith

Randi and "Steve"

Martini!

Jannea and I...I love her!

Me, Randi, our dad, and Faith

Jannea, Me, Randi, Faith, and Angie

We "mustache" you a question?

Dad and Randi

After dinner, we hit the bowling alley. I am a TERRIBLE bowler, but that night I almost broke 100! Highest. scoring. night. EVER! It was awesome! We split up into two teams and bowled two games! We played music on the jukebox, we enjoyed a few spirits, and we laughed...ALOT. It was such a good night..like definitely one for the books. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from bowling:

Me and Randi

The sisters: Me, Randi, and Faith

We're sexy and we know it...

Me with "Steve"-the most interesting man in the world.

Me and the hubs

Baby sister <3

Randy, Me, Jannea, and Kyle
bowling it up!

"Steve Party Fowler"-Ladies Man

It really was an amazing night, and I was so glad we were all able to get together and celebrate my wonderful sister! 

Randi is my life line-one of the people who tethers my heart to this planet. She is my best friend. She is always 100% honest with me about EVERYTHING. She calls it like she sees it. She doesn't take any crap. And she is funny...really, honest to God, funny. Nobody makes me laugh like she does. She is my personal fashion police. Yep, it really is a miracle I can even dress myself in the mornings. She is my sounding board, my "I'm-going-to-send-you-pictures-of-45-different-pairs-of-shoes-which-ones-do-you-like" person, my Tuesday lunch date, my driver's seat duet partner, and my personal cheerleader. I can always count on her to tell me when I'm being stupid, but she is also the first person to grab my hand and tell me everything is going to be alright. She is gorgeous-inside and out. She has taught me the most about coming back swinging no matter how many times you've been knocked down. She is strong-really, really strong. And she is brave-so very brave. She has taught me so much in the last year, but probably the most important thing I have learned from her is how to embrace people. To just accept people for who they are. Because everybody has scars and flaws that make them who they are, and you never know, you may find an amazing friend in the most unlikely of places. She brings out the best in me, and sometimes the worst. She reminds me to never take life too seriously, and that yes, sometimes Target is exactly the therapy you were needing.

Randi, I hope 25 be the beginning of so many amazing things for you. Thank you for being an amazing example to me of someone who is truly making something beautiful out of their ashes. Thank you for loving me, supporting me, encouraging me, and being the absolute best friend THIS girl could ask for. God knows I would of been lost without you. I love you.

Happy 25th Birthday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Help! I'm Starving!


For the record, I hate my new gluten-free diet. I have only been at it two days, I can already tell: I HATE it. I don't know if I'm starving from all of the super healthy food, or the fact that I want/crave/am dying for things I can't have. Good cereal? Gone. Toast or peanut butter sandwiches? Gone. Decent salad dressing? Gone. Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies? GONE. Oh, the humanity! It's just awful. I have been trying to be good...really, really, REALLY trying. But, as I type this I am cheating on my diet with a package of Ritz crackers. Ritz crackers, people! That's how desperate I am. It's just pathetic! Where is Elisabeth Hasselbeck when I need her?

After choking down some gluten-free crackers today that were nothing short of spectacular...NOT. I called my husband and promptly declared that tomorrow after work I would be visiting a larger grocery store in our area just to see what their special "gluten-free" section has to offer. I know it will be expensive. I know I have already spent WAY too much money on groceries this week. But, I just have to go. I HAVE too. I seriously feel hungry ALL the time, and that is super unusual for me. I mean you are talking about a girl who frequently goes without lunch. Who used to be able to live on multiple doses of Diet Dr. Pepper, and a handful of saltine crackers. But, not anymore. Apparently now, I am famished all the time! I got tired of reading labels and trying to pick things on Tuesday, so I really don't have much to pick from at home right now. I did a good job getting breakfast and dinner stuff, but I kind of forgot about lunch, and snacks. I guess I'm a big eater all of a sudden..bleh!

I know this is just my body adjusting to the diet, and I know I shouldn't give up on it. I'm hoping to have better luck at the other grocery store tomorrow. I've heard positive things about it, so hopefully that's a good sign. I'm also still struggling with eating out, and eating on the go. I grew up eating fast food. It's a lifestyle that is going to be really hard for me to give up, especially being an on-the-go mom with a toddler which leaves me with very little time to do anything for myself! I know eventually I will get the hang of it, but for now...today, I just hate it. Plain and simple.

I know tomorrow my stomach will regret these crackers, but for now, they are oh, so good!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A New Adventure

{I appreciated all of the sweet comments I received regarding my "All I Know" post. The post came under some scrutiny yesterday, and I had to briefly take it down. But, after some thought, I put it back up this morning, because I do stand firm on my stance that this is MY blog. This is MY space. If you don't like what I have to say, you don't have to read it. Period. Anyway, the comments are gone now, but I didn't want those of you who took the time to comment to think that your kind words went unappreciated. To be honest, I didn't, and I don't have the words to email any of you back, but please know that I appreciate your support and prayers. Yes, I am still having a difficult time, and I definitely have some tough choices to make. I think Saturday I was just faltering a bit, but I'm beginning to find my footing again, and even though everything seems so unsure right now, I do know one thing for certain: I'm going to be okay. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. May not next week, or a month from now. But, eventually, I will be okay. And that is what I'm clinging too. Thanks again for all the love...you have no idea the balm your words were to my soul.}

 Today I am taking my health into my own hands. Today I am taking the necessary steps to put myself on a gluten free diet. 

I have struggled with stomach problems as long as I can remember. Most of them are due to my stress-induced ulcer that I've had since I was 17. You didn't know I was such a high-stress individual, did you? Yeeeah. Anyway, I have been on stomach medicine, but I have never watched what I eat or cut back on my Diet Dr. Pepper like I was supposed too.Well, lately my stomach problems have been getting worse. My medicine does not seem to be working, I'm losing weight, and my hair. Apparently, I am a mystery to most people in the medical field. So, I talked with my mom, who is a nurse, and she suggested that I try a gluten-free diet. I was skeptical at first, but after researching it, I decided it was worth a shot. I decided that I would try it for at least two weeks and if I don't notice a difference, I would stop. I am willing to try anything to feel better, and if this is the key, then I'm game.

So, today I went to the store. I printed off a list of gluten-free do's and do not's, as well as some gluten-free recipes. I was armed and ready! But, after 15 minutes in the crackers, cookie, juice aisle of Wal-Mart, I was beyond overwhelmed! I mean EVERYTHING seems to have wheat or wheat by-products in it! Some brands have special labels that say, "gluten-free", but for the most part, I was on my own. I spent an extra $50 on groceries this week just getting special gluten-free items and LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies! UGH! I'm beginning to question if it was even worth it! Yes, I know I will get the hang of it. I know I will eventually learn, but after shopping for almost 2 hours, I was starting to back pedal a little. I don't think I realized what a huge life change this is going to be for me, but it really is. 


So, here's my shout out to anyone out there who is familiar with a gluten-free diet! I need to know a few things:


1. HOW do you do it?! I seriously almost had a panic attack today, and after Emma spilled an ENTIRE carton of blueberries all over the floor of the grocery store, because she was tired of sitting in the cart, I ran out of there as fast as I could. 


2. I need to know about eating out. What kinds of restaurants do you eat at, and what do you eat? 


3. What are some go-to recipes you use? I printed a few off. But, I'm all about quick and easy! So, far a lot of the things I'm finding require a ton of extra ingredients just to give it flavor, because gluten-free means cutting out a lot of prepackaged seasonings. 

YEP, as you can tell, I'm super excited. But, I'm trying to stay positive. If this will help me feel better, then maybe it will be worth it.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Tuesday!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

All I Know

"We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass."
~Thompson Square

When did we come to this point? Where did it all go wrong? When did the lines start fading? When did we lose our place? All I know is that almost 10 years ago, I knew exactly what I wanted. My future was already mapped out, and I was only 17. And now I'm here, holding pieces to a heart that may never be whole again, and wondering why often times forgiveness seems so out of reach. I know what is expected of me. I know exactly what they want me to do. I know they want me to bite my tongue, fix my make-up, and carry on. I know I'm supposed to be stronger than this. But, the truth is I'm not. All I want to do is be alone. I want to crawl into a dark, warm place and tuck my knees up under my chin and cry. A good, hard cry. I want to cry for everything that was. For all of the bright, shiny promises that have faded over time. For the ache. the confusion. the frustration. For the girl in the mirror I don't quite recognize anymore. The girl who once stood so tall with her big dreams and confidence is now breaking at the seams. When did the world become so heavy? When did I become so weak? 

I don't know where to go from here. All I know is I hurt. All I know is that I'm numb from all the pain. All I know is that I have no idea what I want. I know what's best, but "best" isn't going to heal me. It isn't going to shine a light into all of the dark places where I hide my secrets. It isn't going to diminish the illusion. All I know is that right now I'm in a thousand little pieces. I'm losing my grip. I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of trying to be something I'm not. I'm tired of being scared of what everyone else thinks and what their opinions are on the matter. I'm just tired. 

So, if you read this pray for me, because I'm losing faith. Everything I've ever known or ever believed in is shattered, and all I know is that today I am praying for the strength to go on. To put one foot in front of the other. I want to find my way back-back to the girl I used to be.

Friday, February 17, 2012

For My Mom


Mom,

I know it's not Mother's Day or your birthday. I know it's not Christmas, or another holiday when you'd probably be expecting something like this, but I guess that's why it needs to be said now more than ever.

I need you to know that I am thankful for you. I am thankful for all you do every single day for Randi, Kasie, Faith, and I. I am thankful that you work 50+ hours a week to keep Faith in Christian school, to bail me out when I need some help, and to buy Emma and Noah more clothes and shoes than they will ever need. I am thankful that you pray for me every. single. day. The Lord knows I need it. I am thankful that no matter how I've let you down, you still love me. I am thankful that I get to call you "Mom".

I need you to know that I admire you. I admire your faith. I admire the way that you always stand for what is right. I admire how strong you are. I admire how you never give up. I admire that all those times you wanted to lay down and die...you didn't. You stood back up. You kept fighting for yourself. For your family. For everything you knew to be good and right in the world. You are an amazing woman, and everyday I look at myself in the mirror, and pray to find a woman just like you deep down inside me.I admire how you taught us how to give. To see the world outside of ourselves, and to be compassionate towards it. I know it doesn't seem like it at times, but we all have kindness inside of us, a desire to help others, and an inability to say "no", because we have watched you give and give and give and give your whole life. You have been the best example of a heart that is committed to others. Not just through your nursing, but through the way you give to your family, the church, and the world. Thank you for teaching us that the world is a big place, and that everyone deserves to know God's love. Everyone.


I need you to know that I love you. I love you for giving me life. I love you because everything good and right inside of me is a result of having you for a mom. It's because you chose to raise me in a Christian home, school, and an amazing church. Because you pray for me. Because you are the voice inside my head encouraging me to make the right choice. I love you for being the best example of an amazing mother. I hope that someday Emma will look at me and know that I was able to love her and support her, because you loved and supported me first.

I need you to know that we're gonna be okay. No matter what happens. No matter where this life takes us. Randi, Kasie, Faith and I are going to be okay. I know we falter. I know we don't always do what's right. I know we make mistakes. I know we all have a lot of growing up to do. But, just know, that eventually we are going to get it figured out. Someday you will be really proud of us. We are strong and fearless women, because you raised us that way. You taught us to never give up, and to never back down. You taught us to stand up for what's right. You encouraged us to be the best we can be, and someday we will. I know you hate how mouthy we all are. I know that you will never understand how you raised four firecracker. But, you did. I like to think it's just how your strength manifested in us-while you are silently strong, we tend to roar. Don't be embarrassed, because someday when your not here to pick us up, we'll need that loud, take-no-crap strength to get us through. It will be our defense, when you are no longer here to defend us. I'm sure God was just thinking ahead.

I need you to know that no matter what, the girls and I will always have each other. I know we fight. I know that some days you think that we never get along. But, the truth is I am so thankful for my sisters. I am thankful that you gave them to me. They are my family. My best friends. And when the day comes, and you aren't here anymore, we will lean on each other. Because of you, I have this amazing support system in my sisters, and I can never thank you enough for that. Thank you for not stopping with me. Thank you for giving me three of the most beautiful, trustworthy, honest friends a girl could ask for.

I know we don't always see eye to eye. I know we have disagreements. I know that no one sees my flaws more clearly than you. But, I want you to know that I always respect your opinion. You are the one I want to talk to about everything. Even when I know I'm not going to like what you have to say, I still call you. I still need to know what you think. I need you to help me weigh my options: good and bad. Because, your my mom. You are steady and consistent. And I know that if you don't have answer, you will pray about it, and there is nothing I love more than having a woman after God's own heart as my mother.

So, today I need you to know that I am thankful for you and I admire you. I need you to know that I love you, I respect you, and that the most beautiful things about me came from you. I want to be just like you when I grow up, and I hope and pray that I am being even half of the mother to Emma that you have been to me. You are an amazing mom. AMAZING. And I know that Randi, Kasie, Faith, and I could not ask for a better one.

All my love.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Valentine's Day Post

It's Valentine's Day! I adore Valentine's Day. I truly do. Despite the fact that Valentine's Day is 11 days after my wedding anniversary, which means my husband never does anything for me beside take me out to dinner...maybe, I still love me some Valentine's Day.

I love that Valentine's Day is the only holiday that you can buy the tiny boxes of red, white, and pink Nerds candy.

I love that Valentine's Day is the only other holiday that my Grandma makes her famously delicious sugar cookies (she used to make each one of us some every year for our class party!).

I'm kind of obsessed with Valentine's Day cards. I seriously almost bought a box of Glee Valentine's Day cards on Sunday...it's pathetic. I actually can't wait until Emma has to buy Valentine's Day card for her class! It's going to be awesome.

I love that Valentine's Day USUALLY means dinner out. I will use any excuse not to cook...even if it's just $1.00 Taco Tuesday at our favorite Mexican joint.

I love that Valentine's Day is the perfect day to show the people around you that you love them. Not just your sweetie, but your friends and family. I love what it represents, even if it is just a holiday that greeting card companies created to make more money. :)

So, in honor of my obvious adoration for Valentine's Day, and pink Nerds candy, and sugar cookies, and love, I wanted to share a few of my favorite Pinterest "love" finds! Enjoy!














{click on each picture for it's source}

And this V-Day, I'm kind of in love with these songs:






So, there's my post! I'm excited that tonight my volleyball game was cancelled, because that means there is a possibility of a romantic dinner date in my future (fingers crossed...hint, hint ;)! I am also excited to spend my Valentine's Day with one of the greatest loves of my life: my daughter, Emma. Despite the fact that she is so sick today, I plan to make the best of it. Because no matter how hard life may get sometimes, she is truly my sunshine. I adore her.

I hope everyone has a beautiful Valentine's Day...I know I'm going to try too! :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Top 10 Favorite Movies

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend  and he asked me what my favorite movie was, and the question flat out stumped me. "What IS my favorite movie?" I thought, but one specific title did not come to mind right away. I had several titles come to mind, but one specific one did not stick out. It was a mystery.

The truth is: I have seen A LOT of movies. Maybe not as many indie or low-budget movies as my friend, Kyle would like for me too, and to be honest, most of my favorite movies are really popular movies that most people have already seen (I can feel Kyle grimacing as I type this!). However, deep discussions with Kyle have completely changed the way I watch a movie. I now watch every movie with a super critical eye, and as a result, Randy and I hardly EVER go to the movies anymore. One, because it's expensive and we are two VERY broke kids, and two, because if I'm going to spend the money...it better be worth every penny. I want good actors, a great script, an interesting story line, and a unique approach to filming. If I don't think a movie is going to have at least 3 of those things, I'm just going to add it to my Netflix cue and watch it later. That's just how I am.

But, despite all of my realistic movie expectations, you will see that ALL of the movies on my list are chic flicks. Because let's face it: I'm a girl. A girl who adores a GOOD chic flick. Quite frankly most of the chic flicks I have watched over the last 5 years have been really disappointing, and I just don't get as excited about them as I used too. Most of the chic flicks on my list are ones that I have loved since middle and high school. I could watch them over and over. That's why they made the list.

 In fact, that's the mindset I had about my entire list. I only put movies on the list that I can watch over and over without getting tired of them. Movies that I actually own...which is a big deal, because we don't own a lot of movies.These are movies that I would recommend. These are movies that I get a thrill out of introducing to my 13 year old sister for the first time. These are the movies that make me smile. And hopefully, there are few on this list that will make you smile too. And the best part: while I was making this list, I finally remembered my all-time favorite movie! Yay! So, without further adieu...

Ashley's Top 10 Movie List

P.S. My husband has already informed me that this is a VERY stereotypical "girl movie" top 10 list. He was not impressed. So, Kyle, I'm expecting a two page comment about why you hate all of the movies I picked. Randy has already prepared me. ANNND GO! :)

{In no particular order}











Sweet Home Alabama


The Notebook


The Phantom of the Opera


While You Were Sleeping


Runaway Bride

But, my all-time, favorite movie is...



I love, love, LOVE "That Thing You Do"! I LOVE it! I could watch it 1,000 times and I would never, ever get sick of it. If you haven't seen it, go and rent it now. Go. Do it! Right this minute! You'll love it! :)

So, that's my top 10 list! Ta da! What about you? What's your favorite movie? 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Some Days I Just Miss Her...

Today, I miss my sister, Kasie.

My mom and my youngest sister, Faith, left Wednesday to spend ten whole days with her, and I wanted to go with them SO badly.  There are days-moments in this life-that I just wish she were here. But there are also moments in the chaos that is my life when I wish I could be there. Yep, sometimes I wish I could leave all the worries and heartache of my real life behind, and spend my days living from a tip jar on a beach somewhere. Just like Kasie.

So, today I'm jealous of my mom and my sister, Faith. Today my heart aches for last summer. For there to be three of us, instead of just two. For the five amazing days that I got to spend with her two months ago. For the peace that is the beach-the way is washes over your soul and makes everything new. For the peace that comes with simply being with my sisters.

Today, I miss this...


And this...


Oh, and this...


And this...



But, mostly I just miss her...



Like a lot.

So, today I'll put on my face and go to work, but trust me, my heart is somewhere else today. Today my heart is 3,000 miles away, laying on the most beautiful beach, and laughing with three of the most beautiful women I know: My mom, Kasie, and Faith...and I don't expect it to come home any time soon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pinterest Love

Well, my classes are in full swing, and I'm heading into week 4! Woohoo! I've been back to school almost a month, and I'm excited. So far, juggling motherhood and working "part-time", on top of my classes has been a challenge, but my husband, as well as numerous other family members have done a great job of stepping in and helping me out. I feel so blessed to have so many amazing people around me. I'm one lucky girl.


On top of doing all of my "normal" stuff I have started playing in my women's volleyball league again on Tuesday nights, working on several blog posts, and I'm also kicking around the idea of auditioning for my first musical (that's another story for another time). With all the extra, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed, but I can always count on my Facebook and my Pinterest addictions to help me unwind. I find myself turning to them more and more just to escape from all of the thinking my mind has been forced to do as of late.


Today, I wanted to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon and show you a few of my favorite Pinterest finds as of late. Sorry, I couldn't come up with something that has a little more substance today, but c'mon, give a girl a break! And plus, who doesn't love a good Pinterest dump...am I right?! ;D


Just humor me, okay?


Okay. I am seriously considering getting this tattoo...only smaller:






I really need one of these today...






Today, I wish I could braid...or do my hair period.








As of right now, I am IN LOVE with these dresses...


Source: tobi.com via Ashley on Pinterest





I've also added these finds to my dream home wish list...








AND last, but not least, my absolute favorite thing to do on Pinterest is search "Prints and Posters". What can I say? I'm a sucker for a the written word and word art :) Here are some of my favorite finds: 



Source: google.com via Ashley on Pinterest


Source: tumblr.com via Ashley on Pinterest









There you have it. My Pinterest lusts. I wish I was more exciting! No crafts or to-die-for recipes here...just little old me, and her obsession with having the coolest Facebook cover on the planet. 


What about you? What are you loving on Pinterest today? 


Oh, and feel free to follow me here. I promise that I always follow back! ;)


Happy Tuesday! 

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Disclaimer

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.