Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Messy, Beautiful Life

Two years and three months ago, I sat on a toilet seat at 6 in the morning and sobbed and sobbed.  In my hands I held a positive pregnancy test.  To say I was devastated would not begin to describe how I felt.

Just six months before this day, I had my mom and husband drag me through a grueling boot camp of resume & interview tweaking. I wanted my dream job at a high school closer to home, and as luck and a lot of arguing over strong verbs would have it, I snagged that job.

* I realize resume is spelled incorrectly. I'm Chromebook dumb. My apologies. And now it's misspelled twice. 

And so there I sat, only a couple months into my dream job... with a baby inside of me but so far from the plan, I cannot even tell you. I didn't know how to connect those dots between reality and "the plan".

Oh, but it wasn't one baby. It was two.  

:  :  :  :  :

Enjoy the myriad of clothing options at the Anderson home: a.) just bottoms  b.) outfit not actually snapped up & b.) just tops

Those of you reading this who know me well enough and can predict I'm going to spin this in some dreamy fluff cloud of life direction, well... I understand.

I hesitate to tell you the punch line. This one: I am so glad God has other plans for me.

I hesitate to tell you that because there are the cynics:  Ashley, don't act like your accidental babies and dropping out of the workforce is a positive thing! Your career is fading daily!   I get all of that. I really, really do.  I was that voice. In fact, I'm still that voice. My voice says things like "avoid risk!" , "stay in the lines", and "retreat, retreat, retreat!".

And really, three babies does not equal a stay-at-home-mom. Far from it. But that's for some other day...

I'm not throwing caution to the wind in saying simply that babies, well, they make a way.

What I am saying is that I desperately love how my little family has made such a mess of my life.

I mean, Paul alone. Let's go there.  He sees my ugliness. Oh, how he knows me.  He knows my faults and could probably make a list from a-z.  I know his too.  And we're different: he says go & I say pause; he says more & I say less; he says "party" & I say "read".  Our differences are good, but we always have to commit ourselves to balancing, respecting, listening.  Our love is not easy, breezy, walk on the beach love. I want to run from that intimacy sometimes.  Other times, I lay in bed and think that this love is my daily bread. It is the one thing I need the most: to be seen, to be contrasted, to be challenged, to be cared for.

And then my three wonderfully accidental babies. A literal mess to start with.  Just as an experiment, let me tell you what is within a three foot radius of my computer: counting bears, a plastic ring that says "HOT", a peanut butter jar Thomas helped himself to, a tiny sword, our reading lesson book, some Spongebob hat the twins were playing with... and you know what, we don't have all day for this.

Oh, Thomas.  The mess you've made out of me.  My pride. My anger. My need for control.  And so many damn tears.  Because you have your will and I have mine and I'm pretty sure that will pain me until I leave this earth.  But like a small plant of thorns in contrast to some vast ocean, there's my love for you.  That sting of seeing all my faults and selfishness either reflected, felt, or jutting out at you...I think it might all be worth it because just like that day they laid you in my arms... one more soul to love here on this earth.

And Alistair and Emerick.  It's true. In a way, you were part of really, um, switching up the plan.  But daily--Wow! The magic and joy I see in you two.  It is absolutely incredible. The companionship you two experience. The playfulness you enjoy with Thomas.  The learning that I see unfold every single day.  I would take all the messes in the world to have you as my own.  (Which is good since that's how it feels some days!)

I wish I could go back to that day I sobbed on the toilet and show that woman a video of you two laughing as you chase after each other.  Oh, how she would have laughed...before going right back to sobbing on the toilet because: white-knuckle lack of trust issues, I got a few.

See, if it was up to me, I don't think I would be here.  No, I know I would not be here.  I like quiet.  I like to be by myself.  I like things to be untarnished and accounted for and listed and neat and tidy.  My life with my just the opposite.

A life with less would be easier, but it wouldn't be as good.

A life with less of these people and these messes would allow more freedom, but maybe not the fulfillment I have come to know. 

I'm glad that I've woken up to right here, right now and find myself with 1, 2, 3, 4! people that make noise in this home with me.  I'm not always comfortable with the interruptions, the sacrifices, the changes, and the mess, but I see now that comfort is not what my soul longs for.  It longs for being content and grateful with the mess: there are people and possessions and mountains of graces here and I'm so very happy about that!

There's a wild cacophony of color in my life, something opposite of my always pined-for blank slate. Hallelujah for that!

As I think about another new year, I look forward to more unexpected things: messy and beautiful, uncomfortable and challenging, and very good because they're ridiculously bigger than my tiny, tidied up ideas.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gift Threatening My Mom


I know you read my blog when you can.  I also know I encouraged you to take your time coming up with Christmas gifts, but it felt all wrong when I got off the phone.

After talking with you about not needing a list right away, I looked around my house at the utter disaster of lunch bits thrown from the twins' high chairs and death trap Lego pieces strewn about like a mock-up for a grenade farm and thought I could help you out a little, maybe nudge you in the right direction.  Because I have a lot of time on my hands and even more kids to avoid, I clicked around Amazon for things that might be delivered to your front porch if I don't get a list soon.

1. bust statue

I'm so proud that you went back to school and got your associate degree a decade-ish ago.  It made the "your mom goes to college" joke so apt at the time.  But just in case you were thinking that it wasn't enough, just in case you have some wish you could have gone two more years, wish no more.  There are few things that separate the educated from us lowly.  According to my days snooping into professors' armpit-sized offices it comes down to a.) comics which bash Republican politicians b.) mountains of books and c.) bust statues.  My mom DID go to college. Didn't she, Apollo? 

2. Hairbo sugar free gummy bears

I know you and Dad miss the four kids who have abandoned you. You won't admit it, but you sometimes find yourself bored and wondering what fun and spontaneous thing you and Dad can do to have a little fun.  Well, pine no more.  I present to you sugar-free gummy bears, the treat that brings authentic entertainment, scientific exploration, and creative cleansing all in one punch.  You will need to divide the bag between you and Dad, gobble up the gummy bears and then pull up Amazon and start reading all of the incredibly detailed reviews.  I imagine your experience to be quite varied: laughter, fear, tears, more laughter, a lot more tears, colossal anger at your daughter, Ashley, and finally laughter one year later.
3.  Paws Aboard puppy ladder

So you don't have a boat. Or a puppy. But you do have five grand kids under that age of 2 right now.  My thoughts are that this would go great as a recreational item in your yard.  We can rig it to one of your thousand trees and watch the littles climb up it to a platform I've strong-armed Dad into building for me to complete this vision and for you as a way to say sorry for the times he didn't buy a present when you told him you didn't want a present but really did (just like every other woman on God's green Earth). Once on the platform, the littles will jump down into our arms and we will all have a wonderful time and it won't be an insurance liability at all.

4. body fat replica

I was listening when you talked about how you want to drop sugar and not get any candy at all for Christmas. Preaching to the choir. I Googled sugar rehab clinics earlier today and searched the junk drawer for spare change but got distracted by some sub-par chocolate leftover from Halloween.  This fat replica might be our ticket to the healthy life we've always imagined.  If not, it would make a wonderful pass-along gift to spice up dad's packed lunches.

5. voice recorder 

In all the time I lived at home, there is one thing I heard you say that will reverberate in my soul until the day I die.  Each time Dad informed you we were out of peanut butter or toilet paper or Cheerios, you told him to "put it on the list".  And now I'm happy housewife also saying "put it on the list" like some record hopelessly stuck.  I imagine on my death bed, Paul will lean in and tell me he just used up the last of his deodorant and my last words will be "put it on the list".   As a companion gift for your voice recorder, I'll throw in a label maker with a red ink roll typically reserved for warnings. Just as an example, "PUT IT ON THE LIST OR GUMMY BEAR DIET"

Love you Mom and Dad!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thomas Talks

Does this post even need an introduction? No.


Happy Tuesday.

A very very happy, mega-happy Tuesday!

: : :

Asks me what he can buy for me. I mention make-up, books, and coffee.

T: “You should get a stuffed animal. You don’t have enough of those!”

Me: “Well, yeah, hmm.  Adults don’t usually have stuffed animals.”

T: [cheerfully] “You have 1 stuffed animal, your pink bear….[long pause]...nah, you don’t have any stuffed animals. I’ve taken over that bear.”

: : :

T: [yells] “Get inside my brain so you can know my skills for…. [with the flare of a magician] french toast and maaaaaaaath! [jazz hands]

: : :

After gazing longingly at Jesus's picture in the hallway...

T: "If Jesus lived after dying on the cross, why didn't he become a zombie?"

Me: "Wow. We have a lot of work to do on your religious education."

T: "What?"

Me: "Good question."

: : :

T: "Mom, I GOTTA tell you something!

Me: "What's that?"

T: "You are mega-pretty."

Don't buy it. He had just watched some show with Megatron in it.

: : :

Thomas was running errands with Paul when he hurt his leg and yelled

“My fricken leg!”

Paul: “Woah, why did you yell that?”

Thomas: “That’s what you yell when you hurt something on your body. My fricken heaaaad. My fricken armmmm. My fricken legggggg.”

: : :

Thomas is moving my Rosary beads on my phone when he looks up and sees this picture & exclaims:

"Hey, this guy's checking out a magazine!"

I’m cleaning the kitchen & Thomas spots an ant

T: “Okay, stop what you’re doing and stand really really still.”

Me: “Why?”

T: “Ants think that humans are going to smush them & kill them. That’s their fear.”

Me: “Okay….”

T: “So we are going to stand very, very still so that he is not afraid.”

A minute later…

T: “Oh, I think he is looking for sweets for his ant children….His ant children live here. We just can’t see them right now.”

Five minutes later…

T: “Oh, I know what’s going on here. [Looking at the floor]. Someone must have left a trail for these ants to come to the kitchen. I think it goes to right over there by our cabinet, that cabinet we keep b
eers in, our beer cabinet. Yeah. They definitely live under that beer cabinet over there.”

Nope, not your pants. Definitely not your pants. 

: : :

I walk into the bathroom to find Thomas putting band-aids on his stuffed shark.

Me: "Woah. What's going on in here?"

Thomas: "Sharky was goofing off on top of a mountain and fell off and hurt himself."

: : : : : : : : :


p.s. send prayers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Paralyzed by Real Bad News

Upfront, let me say this. I'm not posting tonight to throw in my two cents about Ferguson.  Is it wild to admit that I don't know enough? Because I don't.

I do want to know more, I think...but more about that later.

Was it just a month ago that I was reading article after article about the horrors of Ebola? I'll admit it.  Fear bit at me.  I stocked up a bit.  I bought extra bleach and bottles of water.  I filled up a corner of our garage pantry with more canned goods.  With three little kids nipping at my heels, it doesn't take much for my protective instincts to kick into overdrive. But mostly, that bit of time I trembled inside at the journalists' reports of victims being stripped from their loved ones, my heart hurt so much for them.  I wasn't really worried much about my own family, but I was in a lot of pain for families far, far away stricken with a biting sadness and for the health practitioners facing bravely the much needed care for others.

And now with Ferguson, I sit here and scroll through Twitter and make something of the fire and fury in my head, grappling at a future narrative for our country.  I see protesters of all colors, ages, and backgrounds march through our cities shouting for something, something else.  I want something else too, but I also feel that it is my time to listen right now.  I have vested interest. We all do. And everyone has the right to chip in. But this isn't about me.  It's about a lot of people in pain for things that as a white woman I don't endure, that I don't intimately know or understand.  I see a lot of noise online about true discrimination vs. false discrimination, these facts supporting indictment and those facts supporting the decision reached by the jurors, but all I can care about right now is all the pain.

The pain of those mourning or hopeless or angry.
          And being told "no, no, you don't get to feel that way". 

The pain of those who feel our system, our infrastructure is set up against them and have seen it played out in discrimination against themselves and loved ones.
The pain of those law enforcement officers and persons of minority who wake up every day to do good things, hard things, right things and now real, true, felt set-backs for everyone. Or at least it feels.

The pain of the jurors who know the gravity of their decision and now have to watch the violent twists and turns unravel before them.

The pain of those who have watched their buildings and cars burn, their carefully built-up possessions become a spark and a spectacle in something outside of their own story.

:  :   :   :   :

God made me to feel all the feels.  It's not easy being an INFP.  I see a painting and I weep.  I read poetry and can't focus for the rest of the day.  I feel things so deeply that I sometimes worry that all my feels will paralyze me.  I care so much it's sometimes no good for anybody.  

For those of you have thoughtful, insightful, true and charitable conversation about Ferguson (about all the things), I'm not speaking to you.  You rock.  I need people like you to swing me around to facts and see hard lines and numbers.  

But tonight I speak to those of you like me.  If you too find yourself paralyzed by real bad news, searching and searching the screen for a place for your heart to land, turn it off.  I might, might, be able to do something constructive about race relations but today is not that day.  

I'm going to get up from this chair, finish the dishes and clean out my fridge and then love on my little ones by reading to them and tucking them into bed.  After that I'm going to do other things with my hands. Move stuff back in the garage.  Wipe down my cabinets.  Freelance work.  Things that will look like I don't care because I do have to affix my focus 95% to what's right here because this is where I am and these people are who I'm responsible for and that mundane and beautiful vocation I've been called to as a wife and mother moves mountains slowly too.

I will find constructive ways to do good things here in my home that is so far-from the news its happenings are but a fleck of dust floating in the air.  I will do real things, things where my intentions become actions, where my heart can feel big because it can do big too.  

Tomorrow, I will watch just enough news to be in the know, I will watch just enough news to know what and who to pray for, and I will watch just enough news to help me continue to think about good things I am capable of doing to help others.  But that will be enough and that will be all.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Advent, Uncomplicated

I'm so grateful to be doing that quiet internal work of making room for Jesus this year, for welcoming him in and celebrating the Good News as if I've never heard it before, all over again.

I can't remember an Advent I was ever this excited about, but I can remember plenty that I've made unnecessarily complicated.

Two years ago, Pinterest-charged and determined to finally have an Advent calendar in the home, I set to work. I was going to fancy myself a kid-friendly, cheerfully bright, and absolutely free calendar.  I collected two dozen emptied toilet paper rolls and cut out even more colorful tissue circles before facing that my re-purposed Advent calendar was nowhere near finished & already falling apart. And also, why do we never have rubberbands in this house? Sah-curity, we got a complicated order.

Last year, I bought all the things (and every item on sale! or with a coupon!) to make myself a wonderful advent wreath. This wreath had holly and assorted greenery and of course the signature pink and purple candles. Or it would have ... had I ever figured out how to assemble it all together without it looking both incredibly awkward & cumbersome on our table.  The grenade of a decoration, price-tagged and sad, sat on our table for three weeks before my characteristically deflated enthusiasm for all things DIY had me doing the walk of shame back to Hobby Lobby just a week or two before Christmas.

The truth is that in my mind these visible things I was trying to make come to life in the Anderson house were going to be the things that made us finally arrive.  Five years into marriage and we would finally have our Advent wreath, but it wasn't too late and by golly, I would FINALLY have my Advent wreath.  Guys, very serious about this being Catholic business. LOOK at my Advent wreath! Just look at it. Okay, but not too hard, had a little trouble with the glue gun in a few spots. 

Yesterday, I had a moment that had me feeling like I really, really had actually arrived. Follow me here. You might miss it if you don't pay close attention.  We had to return a rug to Home Depot. Someone send help, please, because this was our third rug we've tried out. Bombed. Anywho...

After embarrassing myself by much dramatics shoving a one thousand pound rug into the car all by myself and a wee assistant named Thomas who propped up the Vue's malfunctioning hatch door with a broom, I went inside to prepare the team. I dressed the kids. The socks. The shoes. The cute toddler jeans I skip pretty much every day our presence is not requested or required outside of this house. I grabbed my purse. Then I opened the door. Then I picked up Emerick and --whoop-- I placed him on the porch.  Then I picked up Alistair and -- whoooooop-- I placed him on the porch.  And then we were all standing on the porch.


"GUYS, WE ARE GOING PLACES! HOW AMAZING IS THIS?!!" And in usual form, they blinked at happy, quirky mom. And Alistair pointed at leaves and said gibberish.

I was so excited to have walking toddlers who could walky walk their walking little walker selves to the car (of which I spent much time daydreaming about during our long winter last year while I was nursing and nursing and nursing on the couch and hardly ever leaving the house), that I thought to snap photos of the moment no one else would get. It's a twin mom thing. Or just a mom of multiple kids thing. Okay, it's definitely a freedom thing and I know you all hear me on that.

Because---------- to not be able to go places and then to go to them. That's arriving!

Because ---------- to feel shut out and then be welcomed in. That's arriving!

I'm not in a season of life that has room for making things unnecessarily difficult. I'm in a season of life where I whoop it up as I change the diapers & I smile when we are all plopped down in the middle of the hallway, life paused without care, doing nothing but trying to get the twins to talk.  I'm in a season of life where the simple fact that twins are moving around, pitter-pattering into the kitchen to find me feels just...wonderful. I actually have moments of awe watching them do the simplest things because the road here has been a beautiful but very long walk. Mostly with them not walking and me carrying them.

I have a secret. I've got to be honest with you. I don't like Advent wreaths. Oh, I do in a way, just only at church. They're beautiful in church. But the pink and purple candles in my home. I can't even. Just no. There's a reason it's been five, no six, years without one.

Here's a candle I picked up yesterday at Target, on sale but without a coupon. I could have pieced it together cheaper piece by piece, coupon by coupon, but no. Been there. Done that.

Our Advent candle. Ashley Anderson style. BAM! Arrived!

One simple candle for me to light, so as to think about God's light. That's good enough for me. 

If more stuff (candles & wreaths & decorations) help me make room for Jesus, so be it. I welcome that.  But anything that has the opposite affect, that makes me feel heavy, it has got to go. See ya!

It took a lot of sin in my life this year for me to understand that me having an Advent wreath matters not at all.  It took some darkness in my heart and a flooding of God's good graces crashing upon my brokenness for me to know that all God wants of me this Advent is for me to prepare room. That's it.  He wants me to arrive. All of me! He wants me to show up! He wants me to simply come.

He wants me to do hard work where it comes to being obedient, building up virtues, and serving others.  He wants me to go to Confession.  He wants me to know truth and peace and goodness.  He wants me to light my one ridiculous anti-Catholic, Catholic candle and say some prayers. He wants me to look up, see the light, follow it and really, truly arrive.

Me & my tangles, you and yours. With our beautiful, complicated selves. And me all, " Jesus, I brought you a half-finished DIY project!" :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our Favorite New-To-Us Children's & Chapter Book Reads of 2014

Paul and I will be doing our mostly online & hassle-free Christmas shopping very soon.  We are more interested in putting quality items in the hands of our kids than in rushing out for sales. (Not that you can't do both--we just haven't quite harnessed that superpower yet.) Today, I want to share with you books that we've read and fallen in love with this year, so that if you are also wanting to do some easy shopping online, you could find a few guaranteed wins promoted here.

And you know I really care about these books because I'm not an Amazon affiliate & make no money whatsoever by directing you to these books. In fact, I will be losing the money I could be making by missing time for my indulgent online poker habit. Just kidding. I don't do that. Yet.

These are books that, had I known what treasures they were, I would have bought them much earlier in my fancy mom career. I'll give you a little insight into each book & maybe you can pop into a comment box and share one of your favorite children's or chapter book favorites to help us along in our Christmas shopping.

1. Extra Yarn

 The kids were given this book as a gift, and then we gifted copies to a couple other friends throughout the year.

This book has one of my favorite messages of any children's book I've ever read and I think the conclusion is just is the best. Oh, and the illustrations are reason enough to turn these pages over and over again.

2. Little Bear
I bought this book for Thomas because he has worked through the first 3 Bob book sets and a good chunk of his reading lessons. I thought it would be good to invest in a few of those typically boring beginning reader books, but this is not boring. It's sweet and it's timeless.

If a beginning reader book is well-written enough that Momma Bear doesn't mind reading it two days (or five days) in a row, it's a win in my book.

3. A Sick Day for Amos McGee
This book reminds me of Blueberries for Sal in that you read it once and wonder what the hype is about.  It's with multiple reads that the subtleties in the art and the story wrap you up and warm you like a big blanket and a warm cup of tea on...yep...a sick day.

A great book to show all of us what being a good friend looks like.

4. The One & Only Ivan

I'll admit that this book is a little heavy handed in its pull on your heart. However, it works as a game changer that has some grit and sometimes that's what we should be sharing with our kids.

Suited for kids a little bit older than Thomas, it does the trick in stirring up empathy & making us question the warped conditions we place upon animals in the name of cheap entertainment.  It ruined some things for me in that sense, but I'm okay with that.

5. Winnie-the-Pooh
I've put dozens and dozens of books on hold at the library, and I waited the longest for this jewel right here.

Winnie-the-Pooh is that reading gem so close under our nose, we don't see it.

Hands down, everyone should have this book in their house, and here's why. It is all the charm and wonder and imaginative characterization you already know to expect, but stuffed with nuances the adult reader can enjoy while the child beside is happy just smiling at Pooh's amusing adventures.

6. Paddle-to-the-Sea

Gah. I've been talking about this book all year.  Can I say OMG about a children's book? Because ohemgee. This book was written for my soul.  The concept---YES! The education---YES! The illustrations--YES! And my absolute favorite---the langauge.

Another reason I'm so crazy about this book is that it stretches beyond a particular age group, which is so wonderful when everything in your soul is telling you that one more reading of Go Dog Go would be absolute torture.

7. The Little House

Just like everyone should have a wonderful sleepy-time book (Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site!), I feel everyone should have a book that draws us into thinking about the seasons, time, changes and how we fit into all of that.

This is a simple, no-frills book that nudges us to think of what is good and beautiful.

8. The BFG
This year we read a good chunk of Dahl's work: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, the BFG, and Matilda.  Thomas's Uncle Stephen recommended the BFG to him, and I had low expectations.

However, this book made us think & therefore have some great conversation (which is awesome), but it had Thomas in stitches several times (which is even more awesome).  It was, by far, the funniest book (to him) that we read all year. He asked me to reread a passage 3 times, so he could keep laughing. I mean, how could I not put it on our list?

9. The Tale of Despereaux

This is just the kind of chapter book I've been searching for my 4 year old all year:

Some illustrations. Check.
Beautiful language. Check.
Meaningful themes. Check.
And still holds the attention & interest of the kiddo. Big check.

:  :  :  :  :

Wow. That was so much fun to type up because it brought back so many memories of snuggling up with Thomas or reading to all the boys in their room.  Right now they're ALL banging with wooden puzzles pieces on the fireplace while I finish this post, so pretty much the complete opposite of the sweet, soft memories I was bringing back up in my mind. :/

This year was good and difficult and a hurricane of all kinds of things.  In a lot of ways it was a big mess. I mean, twins. Do I need to say more? Walking twins! Climbing twins! Boy twins who bust their lips or bang their heads every other day! Twins who can't yet tell me all the things!

Anyway, there may be a lot of things from this year I didn't get checked off the master list or tackled like they should have been, but it was the first year that the boys and I read voraciously in all sorts of ways and for those sweet memories, I'm so grateful.

I would very, very much love it if you let me know a book or two that you feel is a must for the family library. We just started building up ours a bit more intentionally this year, and so chances are that we haven't yet bought it, and I would love your recommendations!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Walking Light & Carrying Little

The 30 Before 30 list is just not going to work.  [And if you don't know what it was, I wrote down some things that sounded fun to do before I turned 30.]

 A few of you were so kind as to ask the whereabouts on my progress. And honestly, I've been so busy with so many things, it has taken me until now to face that my life doesn't have space for most, if not all, of those items on that list and to act like or proceed forward with it like it does would just make me unhappy.

When I wrote that list (which is fun and lovely outside the realm of reality) about a year ago, I was in a very different place.

I didn't realize how taxing Paul's travel would be this year or that I would be watching adorable Misters Luke & Logan for a bit of time or that 3 kids (mine) would feel like a lot more once the twins were on the move.
Besides, a good chunk of the things on the list just don't matter at all to me right now (i.e. building a "real blog" or attending a cooking class or my goodness, Ashley completing a cross stitch piece).

I found this photo on my phone. A hundred dollars says I texted this to Paul with some kind of declaration that things were cray cray & I can say that because things are always crazy around here.

My 30 before 30 list should have had things on it like:

* go to the bathroom without interruption

* give self an at-home manicure & pedicure in the same day

* not yell for 1 whole day

I actually did a great deal of behind-the-blog stuff for the list that was going to eventually make it on the blog, but there were also several items I've never even begun to start. Can I blame it on the kids again? Good. It was totally the kids' fault.  They were much, MUCH more persistent in their needs than the list. Did you know kids eat three times a day?

I have only a few bittersweet days left with Luke & Logan.  And then we will turn the page to a new season again.  Last week I sat down on the couch and wrote at the top of a piece of paper POST DAY CARE REHAB.  There were some things I chose to put on hold while watching the boys. And also some things I chose to let slide because I know from almost this same thing last year (when I was transitioning to 3 kids & ouch, it hurt so good bad) that it is best to be flexible when life calls for it.   In the little time left in this year, I need all of it to focus on re-establishing healthy boundaries for my kids in terms of screen time & discipline & fill them up with lots of cuddle & reading time just like they deserve.

The last thing I want on my mind in this next season is any weight to do with things that I in all truth I just don't want to do.

I quit my job last year so I could just be mom and wife.  I wasn't like a lot of moms I saw breezing into work with things in their life pulled together just as beautifully as the scarf around their neck.  I quit because I knew I actually couldn't do all the things or not even all the things but the working things + home things and even with just one kid there were times when I was so blasted tired of feeling like if I just tried a little harder, I could pull it off one day. ] I wanted to give 100% to teaching and 100% to being a mom & wife. And I constantly felt this exhausting burden of feeling torn all the time.

But don't we all know so well that this is life.  Balance is always a struggle regardless of how easy or pulled together our role might appear to others.  We can always find ourselves in a mucky mess. And we can always, always make bold choices to go lightly, to yell Towanda at obtuse barriers that keep our hearts from resting in our priorities: time with our loved ones.

I have such a flaw/passion in me to do all the things all the time. I'm working on it. There was something much bigger I see now that was going on when I typed up that fun list.  Something ugly to share, something not easy to live with.

+ I [still] wanted to prove that I was a lot more than just mom and wife.  

Yeah, that's a bunch of crap, friends, but I won't get into that today. 

I severely judged moms at home before becoming one & I wanted everyone to know I was bigger than that. I was capable of doing way more than your average SAHM. I'm Ashley and the last thing I am is average.  Exclamation point. 

Sometimes my gut or Jesus or my littles tap me on the shoulder and whisper: just simply be because that's plenty. 

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In less than a couple months I'll celebrate the big 30.  I want to walk into it lightly. I want to carry little. When I sit down with my 30s I want to be that friend who is inclined to listen first and act second.

Any crappy, awful time that I had in my 20s happened because I didn't give myself the freedom to fling some shit to the side of the road (because really, guys, I think we might only need 1 of these 4 cast iron skillets I packed) and get moving.  There are so many more things I want to shed than just a simple list of things I wanted to do this last year.  Shed isn't even the right word. Purge. Burn. Flush. Destroy. Things that are keeping me from my where my heart rests: time with my loved ones. 

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Thanks for cheering me on, friends.  In my plans, my schemes, my writings, my hopes.  I know you know the me in me sometimes more than I see. I'm okay with that because it is what it is and the truth is a beautiful thing no matter how messy. Or so I really hope because wow! hot mess!

Oh shoot. Here it comes.  Just.

Let it go.

Not deleting that. 

Don't hold it back anymore.

Stopping myself.