Friday, September 28, 2012

Family Photo Sesh

Just wanted to stop by and share a few of my favs from our family photo session a few weeks ago! :) A big shout out to my amazing friend, Merry, for once again lending us her photography skills and her time. What would I do without her?! Just be out of an amazing photographer...that's all ;)

We took these pictures a few weeks ago at our home and in an old town nearby. She gave me over 80 pictures to look through, but, as most of you know with small children, we were praying for just one good one! Our prayers were answer, and I picked about 20 that I just love. Some are just perfect, others are just reminders of my silly Emma girl. I know 15 years when I'm watching her walk across the stage at her high school graduation, I am going to want these reminders of her and I will be thankful for them.

It's true: I am one blessed mommy.

So, without further adieu: my favorites :)

 Our country princess!

 The favorite!

I can't believe summer is over! Where did it go?! Time to start thinking about warm clothes and Christmas cards :)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Introducing...My Sister

As many of you know, I frequently talk about my three gorgeous sisters on this blog. I feel beyond privileged to call some of the funniest, most beautiful, most supportive girls not only my sisters, but my friends-my best friends. I don't know what I'd do without them! 

Recently, my sister, Randi, got her very first big girl job at the local paper! We are beyond excited and proud of her and for the positive change this new job means for her and my sweet nephew, Noah. Randi has also recently discovered a new love for writing. Lately, we have all been looking for outlets to help us cope with the major changes in our lives, and writing seems to be our favorite outlet. Thankfully, in spite of the serious turn all of our lives has taken, Randi tends to always keeps things light hearted and funny. She is seriously, hands down, the funniest person I know, and I was so excited when she agreed to share one of her hilarious stories with you via my blog! 

So, everyone show some love to my very first guest blogger ever! My sister, Randi!!


I never saw myself as the "blogger" type. Don't get me wrong I love to read the stories people are able to tell by just typing on their keyboard. I, however, never pictured myself telling a story like that. However, I can't help, but look at the things happening around me and think, "Man, this would be a great blog!" So, I talked to my sister, Ashley, about it and she agreed to give me some pointers.

Ashley has always been a very talented writer. I love to read what she has to say. She and other people tell me I am the funniest person they know, which I don't know if that's amazing or really sad. So, after a little guidance and an intensive proof reading section, I am excited to share some of my own motherhood experiences here in Ashley's little corner of the world! 

So, for the ones who laugh every time I tell a story, the ones who tell me I should write a blog and the ones who think my life is entertaining, especially my sister ...t
his is for you.

I think it's safe to say that most everyone knows Noah, either personally or through my sister's blog. Noah, is the amazing little boy who stole my heart and that God allowed to call me mom. But for those who don't know him super well, here are some things you should know about him, so you can fully appreciate some of the stories I will tell. 

•Noah is five.

•He just started kindergarten
•He has a bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI)- also known as brittle bone disease.
•Noah loves race cars, super heroes and as of lately singing the national anthem as often as possible.
•Noah has my personality and sense of humor 90% of the time (I know this is the answer to one of the prayers my mother prayed for me at some point in my life when I was being a sarcastic snot.)
Okay, everyone on the same page? Good. To get everyone up to speed about our current situation, we are currently in the final stretch of fracture #9. Only two weeks left, and we get the gigantic orange thing that's has been his left arm for the last month taken off! I'm positive that I am just as excited (if not more) about October the 8th as he is.

Well, last night we got home later than normal, because I took him to my mom's house and let him play "Operation" (one of my favorite childhood games). I'm rushing to get him in the tub, and anyone who has ever experienced a child in a cast can surely appreciate how "fun" it is to balance an arm or leg on your arm while you other arm does the actual bath's a guaranteed good time. Anyway, while washing Noah's hair the tiniest drip of water went in his eye. Just so we're clear, Noah HATES to have water in his face...HATES IT! And instantly he was screaming, crying, and flailing his cast around in the bathtub. Ugh.  I spent the next 40 minutes with a hair dryer on it. Yep. It was still damp when I put him in bed. Also, I am pretty sure he still had shampoo in his hair. Sweet.
I walked out of his room, and I'm not even kidding you, five minutes later he decides he is thirsty. My child is always thirsty. Ugh. I bring him a glass of water, and as he takes one sip of the water he just HAD to have, he spills it all over him, his dry PJ's, and the bed that I'm pretty sure wasn't wet five minutes ago. I couldn't even speak. I just stood there and looked at him with my mouth wide open. Yes, I know it was an accident (even though there was a big part of me that wanted to scream, cry and flail my arms this time!), I still managed to take a deep breathchange him, his sheets, and get him back into bed at a decent time. I can't wait to see how tonight goes. 

Needless to say, this mommy is more than ready for her vacation to see Aunt Erika next week! 

Then She Fell Off The Deep End...

A couple of weeks ago, the hospital laid me off. They are in the middle of massive job cuts and hour reductions to try and help some of the debt our facility has had to take on as a result of the recession. Since, I am a part-time employee who only works a few days a pay period, my hours instantly went to zero. At the time, I was a little scared-I didn't know what I was going to do, but I had a game plan.

I instantly began getting my information together to substitute teach. I mean, why not? I have 60+ college credit hours that are just lying around, I might as well use them, right?! Right. Side note: Did you know you have to jump through a bazillion hoops to sub in the state of Missouri? Yeah. It was not fun! It literally took me 2 weeks to get everything done! I mean, I guess it's a good thing since there are so many creeps out there, but when your a nice normal girl like me who just needs a job, it gets a little annoying. Anyway, I got all my stuff for my substitute certificate submitted, but I knew that it could take a month or more to get everything settled, and then they would actually start calling me to sub. So, I decided I needed to do something else.

That's when I decided to get a job at Bootleggers. Bootleggers is the local sports bar where I have competed in several karaoke competitions. You may remember me referencing them in this blog??? They give away lots of money??? I posted videos??? Are we on the same page now??? Okay. Well, Bootleggers in the only place that stays busy all winter long around here. I knew from working at the gas dock a little this summer that I really liked the cash money, so I thought I would give serving a try. I started serving 3 weeks ago, and guess what? I love it!

Unfortunately, everyone else does NOT love it. My mom worries about the hours. My sister who bartended and served for years has told me more than once that I'm gonna hate it. My boss at the gas dock says I'm too smart to be a waitress. And Randy, well, he just hates it. Period. But, we've been trying to do things differently, so he hasn't said much. But, I can tell...he hates it. I feel really torn. I feel like I owe it to everyone to keep my big girl job, and substitute teach until I can work at the hospital again, because that's what everyone expects me to do. But, this diagnosis has really put everything in perspective for me, and suddenly I am just SO tired of doing what's expected of me. I am ready to have a job I actually enjoy. One that I look forward to going too, and the funny thing is: I love waiting tables.

I don't know why. It may be because I have never, ever, ever done anything like this ever! But, I can honestly say, I love it. I really like all the people I work with. I like the pace. I like that 7 or 8 hours only feels like 2 or 3 when your running around like crazy. I like the money. I like that I actually get to stay at home with my girl during the day more weekdays. I just really, really like it. I doubt I'll like it forever, but right now, it's a new experience for me.

And then it happened: the hospital called and I was supposed to start back to work for them 5 days a pay period on Monday. I know it's a good job, and I know I should go back and stick it out, but the truth is: I was dreading it. It makes me physically ill to think I have to wake up Monday morning and go back there. You may be thinking, “Wait! I thought you loved working at the hospital? Aren't you majoring in the healthcare field?” And the answer to both questions is,“Yes!” I love the hospital. I love the stability and the girls that I work with. But, the building I have been working in since I went back in January is not an easy place to work. You can feel the tension and pressure when you walk in and it hovers all day long. I am always physically exhausted when I leave there, even though all I did was answer phones and work up charts all day. I know, it's a good job. I know, I am lucky to have it especially in this economy. But, does that mean I have to dread going to work everyday?

The answer was, “No”. I don't think that I do. I am 27 years old and with all the things that have gone in my life over the past year, I think I deserve a little happiness. And if that means serving food, suffering through those nights (and days!) where I only make $30, and crawling into bed at 3:00 A.M.-then so be it. You only get to live once. I'm pretty sure, I'm not going to like it forever. But, for right now, I love knowing my schedule every week, and walking in and out the door with a smile on my face, and the feeling that I actually worked hard enough to be as tired as I feel.

My boss at the hospital, Steve, was very understanding. It's one of the things I love most about him. He is even letting me keep my PRN status at the hospital so I can continue to search and apply for a position that I would enjoy better. I think I am always going to have the desire to work in the healthcare field and if I can find a position that offers me some stability and gives me the opportunity to work in a environment I really enjoy, then I would go back in a heartbeat! But, for now, I am willing to wait for that position. I am willing to give this new job a try and endure the criticism, because guess what? I love it. And last time I checked this is my life. I may look back at this time in my life and shake my head at my silliness. I mean, I must be crazy to give up a great big girl job that everyone EXPECTS me to have, but right now, it seems like the right thing to do for me.

After all, people are going to stare. Might as well make it worth their while.

Happy Wednesday everyone!  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This Is The Part When Everything Changes...

The funny thing about life is that you always have to be ready for the curve ball...always. It can come at any moment, in the blink of an eye, and suddenly without warning your whole world is turned upside down. You find yourself evaluating everything so carefully, and holding your breath more often than you did before. There is just so much fear, uncertainty, and sadness in times like these, but there is also the hope and peace you find in the things you do know for sure: that God IS in control, your family is the greatest gift you have, and despite everything-life goes on.

On Monday, September 10th, I was diagnosed as a carrier of the gene that causes ARVD: the rare, genetic heart disorder from which my mother suffers. Just to refresh your memory, I wrote about taking my mother to get her diagnosis {here}, and I wrote about her test results coming back positive {here}. I also explained in the second post, that because my mom's test results had come back positive, my sisters and I would all have to be tested for the gene. If our results came back positive, we would then have to be tested for symptoms of the disease that has caused my mother to live the last 20 years with a pacemaker and defibrillator. It was a scary time in our lives, and it's even worse to have your fears answered with a positive diagnosis. Three out four positive diagnoses: Randi, Faith, and I.

I was sitting in McDonald's with my daughter when Brittany from Johns Hopkins called. I had waited over a month for that number to show up on my cell phone, and my fingers fumbled to press the “answer” button. She was so calm-she nevergave anything away with her voice as she informed me that my results had come back positive. My heart was in my stomach, and my eyes searched and found Emma playing on the play place. I just stared atmy daughter, and did my best to stifle a sob, because I have always known that even if I never have symptoms, even if this never affects my quality of life, it could affect her's. This diagnosis could very well change everything.

I talked to Brittany for a few more minutes. She gave me my game plan: I needed EKG and holter monitor results to take with me to Johns Hopkins in October. She wouldn't tell me Randi and Faith's results, but she said that by the end ofthe day we would all know our results and she knew we would be talking to each other. She asked if I had questions. I quietly told her no, and that I would call her if I did. And that was that.

My life changed in the middle of McDonald's on a Monday afternoon.

I had my EKG on Tuesday, and my holter on Thursday. I am still awaiting my results. Right now, as far as we know, I am the only one of the three of us with a positive diagnosis that does not express symptoms. I am thankful for that-so thankful.But, that doesn't change the fact that my heart aches for Emma-for her future, and for the futures of my sisters whom I cherish so much. It's gonna be a long road, and just because I don't have symptoms now doesn't mean I won't wake up with them in twenty years. However, if this has taught me anything, it's not to borrow tomorrow's troubles.

So, right now, I am focused on living my life to the fullest. I want to do and experience all the things I've always wanted to do, because someday I might not be able too. I want to worry less about what everyone else thinks, I want to focus on what's important, and I want to do all the things that make my heart happy. I am also focused on my sisters and getting them through this. I have always said that my sisters are some of my greatest treasures in this life, and I feel so blessed that we have each other to get through this. God definitely knew what He was doing when He made four of us. He knew there was no way we could do this without each other.

As for Emma, I have questions, and I will take them with me to Johns Hopkins in October. As far as I know, we can't have her diagnosed until she's 13 and her little heart is done developing. That kind of scares of me, but I'm trying not to be "a mom” about it. Like I said, I shouldn't borrow tomorrow's troubles and I know that the specialist at Johns Hopkins will do his best to put my mind at ease, so for now we are just going to keep living and doing things exactly as we did before.

So, this the part of the story when everything changes. The climax. This is where the road forks, and where the decision must be made to either embrace the good with the bad, or just focus on the bad. This is where I have to decide whether to play the part of the victim or the heroine-I'm choosing to be the heroine. It's true, sometimes you have to save your own little heart, and not allow the bad days to defeat you. Because there are always, always, always gonna be bad days. It's what you do with them that either weakens you or makes you stronger. 

So, smile for me. Today, I am excited for every new day that God gives me symptom free. I am excited to meet my cousin's baby for the first time and revel in the awe of new life. I am excited to take Emma to the library and the park, and watch her laugh and run like normal kids, because right now, to me, she is still normal. I am excited to maybe eat some ice cream later and enjoy this beautiful day, because the cure for everything is sunshine and ice cream. And I am excited about hope and for the promise that tomorrow always brings with it. You never know what the future holds, but you might as well be positive about it and what it means for my life: a stronger, braver Ashley who lives everyday to the fullest.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


It's MY birthday! Woohoo! So, what's on the agenda? Well, Emma and I have already spent some of our day shopping and having lunch...she's the best date a girl could ask for! ;) I bought a super cute dress to wear to my birthday party on Friday and a sweet KC Chiefs jersey to wear at my new job! (Future blog post to come about that!) Then, later tonight we will be having dinner with my mom and sisters, and then I actually have a date...with my husband :) I have a feeling it is going to be a nice relaxing day :)

My big birthday party with my friends is planned for Friday night and I am soooo excited! A day full of pedicures, maybe a boat, and then dinner and karaoke all makes for the perfect way to ring in's gonna be fun :)

Anyway, that's it for me! I hope you are all having a beautiful Tuesday!

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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.