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Ashley

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Friday Favorites {2.16.18}

Hey hey it’s Friday! We have a fun weekend planned with a date night, a birthday painting party and a “no-plans Saturday morning” that I’m so excited about.

These right here are some of my favorites if you’d like to see.

Sheet fried eggs– what?!?! If I had known about these years ago it would have saved me from hovering over the stove. We’ll be trying these out Saturday morning so I can hang in bed a little longer while the oven does all the cooking.

My dad was in town last Saturday and we surprised him when he came over with our family Valentine’s party.

Haha! We had this magnificent sign on the porch with a spotlight to greet him when he arrived at our door.

And these ridiculous balloons that my kids picked out especially for the party! Everyone received a gift from the table in the corner.

My son and I picked out chocolates at our local candy shop special for the occasion- here he is sampling them- choices choices!

We buy striped Amazon pajamas for the kids all the time, but this time I bought some for me and my husband too (it was one of his Valentine’s gifts). My daughter was so excited when she saw us wearing them. She ran to her room to change into her pair so she could match us!

I can’t wait to get into gear for spring. Usually on the first nice day I head to Lowe’s to jazz up my patio. Here are some fun ideas to get ahead of the game.

Also if you need a mood boost, check out these fun links…

How The Rock feels about rainbow surprises 😂

I did a post on “work moods” this week and how to take yours up a notch. And this interview, “Why Limit Happy to an Hour” just puts me in a good mood.

This window washer really makes the best of his job!

Toddlers and their bedtime shenanigans… I mean this is my life.

Finally on a more somber note, this school shooting has me just utterly devastated. I just can’t even imagine what these families are going through and my heart pours out to them. It’s hard to know what to say and sometimes we are all left feeling a little helpless. If you’re feeling that same way but would love to take action, here are five ways to help.

Have a fun relaxing weekend and hug your loved ones a little tighter!

Career & Resources

Work Mood

The last couple months at work have been intense, which has me thinking. What’s the best way to lighten the mood at the office?

I usually crack the occasional joke during a lull period of intense debate just when someone’s about to fly off the handle or pop into a meeting with donuts and coffee. I’ve also been trying to lighten the mood for my team with super hero awards. We vote on the award as a team and I’ll send the cheesy certificates to their manager with a nice note about them and then recognize that person in front of the team with a little speech about how much we appreciate them and enjoy their contribution. We’ve already awarded the heroes of Wonder Woman, The Hulk, and Mr. Fantastic. Those days we recognize someone happen to be some of my favorite days at work.

Revise Psycology roughly calculates that we spend about 50% of our week with co-workers and an estimated 92,120 hours in the course of our entire working life. I had a boss tell me that it was important for her to bond with her co-workers since she spent more time with them at the office some weeks than even her own children.

Chron.com says simple things can lighten the mood at work including stretching with staff and celebrating achievements with team members. The article also mentions a little quick tip about how enjoyment and lightheartedness should actually start with you!

A co-worker of mine recently decided to bring some homemade Cuban stew to work, and upon informing a few others of his plans, actually ended up turning his homemade Cuban stew potluck into a Cuban lunch party. It was complete with Cuban sandwiches, plantain chips and sweet plantains. People kept pitching in to bring stuff- it was glorious. I had back-to-back meetings that day and wouldn’t have had lunch if it weren’t for him.

How are you making the best of your work-day?

Family, Food & Wine, Health, Uncategorized

Friday Favorites {2.8.18}

Happy Friday- Whoop whoop! Work has been insanely busy and I couldn’t be more ready for the weekend! We are still surviving winter in a big way over here- I am particularly over it and we sure are ready for some warmer weather- however it’s projected to be cold and gloomy again this weekend so our plans will be something indoors. We might head to the movie in theatres now- The Greatest Showman- and we’re scoping out a hands-on, interactive, dinosaur show at the Agricenter this weekend.

I haven’t posted favorites in a while but here’s a little bit of what I’m loving.

I discovered these two recipes during my Whole30 journey and they’re on weekly repeat at our house now! If you’re doing Whole30 too just minus beans and rice on the second recipe.

Click here

and here

My new go-to workout is Pure Barre! My back was really killing me due to sitting at work all day. I was going to the chiropractor every month but I have not been back in 3 months due to Pure Barre! It’s a lot of planking, core work and stretching that I think was missing from my life. This workout can get expensive but they always have a special going on that makes it a little more economical. It’s been worth it for me, and my back, to have a stronger core!

My kids are real comedians at this age and I’ve been blogging a lot lately about our life, and our humor.

Click here to read about my son’s 3 medals and here to read all about how my daughter is asking everyone she encounters all about their age!

If you’re looking to create a collection, here are some details to consider.

Plus if you’re interested- I give you permission to nap!

I found these Brazi bites at my local Fresh Market and I’m in love- they had me at cheese and bread. It’s been about 6 years since I’ve visited Brazil, but as far as I can tell these little bits of heaven aren’t too far off the mark from the originals. You can find them in the freezer section. They’d be great appetizers if you’re needing to bring a side for a potluck.

I hosted our dinner club last weekend at my house- apps and game night was the theme. It was so much fun! Everyone brought and app and a game and the food spread we ended up with was something I just would never have accomplished on my own! One of the crowd favorites were these Parmesan cheese bites! One of my friends described them as “little bites of heaven”.

Other than that I’m also loving these two pictures, but I’m partial!

I hope you’re having a great week so far. Be sure to comment all about what you’re loving right now!

Family

Spicing Up a Winter Weeknight

Recently we’ve been stuck inside due to plummeting temperatures and early sunsets and I can’t help but get desperate for summer. Our favorite evening ritual is finishing an early dinner and walking our neighborhood or sitting in our backyard while we grill out and the kids play.

But winter has us binge watching kids Netflix shows, checking off home “to do lists” and heading to bed early. And while sometimes it can feel a little mundane, I try to remember that this is the season for us to catch up on our rest and get energized for the warmer months.

However, winter work evenings don’t have to be a desperate dud. Darling be Daring mentions that spicing up the work week can mean focusing on an elaborate recipe you’ve been wanting to make including trekking out to buy all the fresh ingredients or adding a workout routine that’s interactive and adds variety.

Sheknows.com has some creative ideas doable for weeknights such as playing dress-up as a family with old and silly outfits and hosting a “show and tell” family evening.

Refe Tuma turns the entire month of November into Dinovember where he says, “Every year, my wife and I devote the month of November to convincing our children their plastic dinosaur figures come to life while they sleep.” It’s an elf on the shelf meets Jurassic Park!

Simply Kierste Design Co. suggests taking one of your kids on a date night to the grocery store or a progressive dinner to different restaurants, one for each course. Folding paper airplanes and testing them is another idea she shares that I could definitely get onboard with.

And finally, after my son begged me to help me with my laundry and seeing how great he’s become at folding, I’m not so sure this dreaded chore can’t be spiced up a little with his company. This article makes me feel even better about this new laundry routine.

So far our most fun, cold-weather, weeknight, evenings include my daughter serving us pretend food and coffee from her mini-kitchen, rowdy rounds of duck-duck-goose, trips to our favorite neighborhood pizza joint, and the occasional celebration prep for “family parties” we’ve arranged just for the four of us. I’ve promised my son we will be having a family Valentine’s party soon.

How do you spend your winter weekdays?

~Ashley

 

Family

How Old Are You?

My two year old is into asking everyone “How old are you?”

I don’t have the heart to tell her, some people think it’s rude to ask about age, because lately she’s been using this question as her conversation icebreaker. I figure, if people don’t want to answer her question they’ll tell her.

I want her to know that people come in all ages and I want her to feel comfortable talking with people older than her. So here’s how some people have responded to her question.

Our adoption social worker told her, “Well that’s easy for you to remember, I’m 5 5, fifty five.” I loved how confident she was at owning her age.

A parent at Graham’s school, originally from China answered, “Noooo I can’t tell you that!” as she laughed nervously and hurried off.

Today she asked my husband [I think she asks him this question twice a day] and he answered his usual, “I’m forty, how old are you?” And then my son chimed in excitedly, “I am going to pretend I’m forty today”. And my daughter responded, “me too, I’m forty!” How endearing that they want to be exactly as old as their dad. It must mean he makes forty look fun!

I hope my kids learn to appreciate the benefits of every age and that they’re not put off by wrinkles and walkers and age spots. I want them to respect their elders and I can only hope that if a kid asks me my age that I’ll reply certainly and confidently with my answer.

Health, Uncategorized

Do You Have a Collection?

When I was younger I collected Pez dispensers- I had forgot all about it until my brother sent me a vintage Santa Pez dispenser this Christmas. Other than some coins that my great grandfather gave me when I was younger, I’ve really been out of the whole collection loop for some time.

Fast forward to parenthood, next year Graham will have to build a collection of 100 things for Kindergarten so we’ve been noodling with ideas on what to target. One afternoon he collected acorns in the backyard and we thought that might be the winner, but he left the bucket on the porch and a few squirrels who had been starving over the winter jumped on the opportunity to snack on his hull. Now Graham’s been gathering acorns instead, to feed to the squirrels.

Graham got a Polaroid camera for Christmas and a photo album that fits Polaroid snapshots so lately he’s been taking random pictures of our daily life to place in his memory book. So far that’s the collection he’s stood by and I’m loving that this photo album is completely made by him of his perspective on how he sees life as his younger self. The book includes pictures of his favorite toys, his babysitter, and our family.

Rose from retirement.com says there are 8 benefits to having a collection, one of them being the improvement of organizational thinking- she organizes her Rhino collection by horn length!

Amongst other reasons, James Halperin mentions that people collect things for the competitive challenge, relaxation and stress reduction, knowledge and learning or the desire to control or possess small order to the larger world.

Artofmanliness.com gives this tip when considering the start of your collection:
“Make sure your choice is broad enough to make the hunting fairly easy at first, but niche enough as to not be overwhelming. For instance, you don’t want to collect sports cards as a whole — that would just be too much; focus in on a single sport or a particular team or player.”

I’ve always loved the idea of collecting corks from wine or champagne on special occasions and noting the celebration and date on the cork with a sharpie.

Do you have a collection? Graham’s upcoming poject is making me want to start my own!

Family, Health

Do You Nap?

The last couple weeks have been intense. We’ve been going through a phase where my youngest wakes up screaming in the middle of the night which has left us all a little bit run down during the day. This, coupled with the winter sniffles, has us adults pitching our case for the nap train.

It starts around Saturday at 11, and we both list our reasons why each of us should have the right to nap with the youngest- she’s the only one that still takes an afternoon snooze. And whoever wins their case is awarded the two hour luxury nap complete with private accommodations, a soft blanket and a sound machine.

Honestly, as a working mom this two-hour weekend nap has become a little bit of an addiction. It’s one of the only times I stop mid-day to recharge and it leaves me feeling energized for our Saturday afternoon plans. It’s indulgent and revitalizing and just what my body needs to complete the week.

Do you make midday nap plans? What’s your weekly relaxation ritual?

Family

Hello! {1.14.18}

Hi- It’s been a little while since I’ve been in touch. We’ve been making our way through January and it’s taken a quick minute to get a jump start on this new year.

I do have something exciting to share! Whimsical September blog (founded by Erica) featured me this weekend and I’m just so excited about it. GO right on over to her site and check it out. And while you’re there, go ahead and look around. Her site is fun, I enjoy her Instagram stories and she also features other bloggers like me in her Saturday Sit-Down series. Thanks again to Erica for her support!

If you’re new here and found me from Whimsical September, WELCOME!

Here’s what’s new with us.

We are in the very tail end of our home study for adoption. We have our home visit the end of this month and so we are on a cleaning frenzy over here! We’re working on our profile book now.

We are full swing back into school and work, but we just loved our Christmas stay-cation which we’ve decided to do again next year for Christmas (stay home, lay around, relax, repeat).

I celebrated my birthday last week and then I started the Whole30 program the day after- eek! I’m on “Kill All the Things” part 2.

We had a two days of snow Friday and Saturday- and for Memphis that might be it for the year! We took full advantage, making a mini snowman, busting out some snow angels, and making all the snowballs.

We took our kids bowling for the first time this weekend to kill the cabin fever- it was so much fun! Stay tuned for more on that soon.

A new restaurant popped up on our radar that I’ll be blogging about soon, so stay tuned. We made a visit right before my Whole30 plunge.

We’re already planning our spring break, can you believe it’s mid-January? March will be here before you know it. Right now we’re thinking somewhere within driving distance, but we’re torn. Nashville? New Orleans?

In the meantime, check out Erica’s sit-down and follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I’ve also been sharing Insta-stories to keep you posted on fun stuff we’re into.

Have a great week!

~Ashley

 

 

Family

Reviewing Our Year!

Christmas. I get it. It’s magical and artful. It’s traditional and gather-some. It’s full of events and people and wonderment. But January is my month. After all the wrapping paper has cleared and the trees are discarded and stored it’s the month that beckons me. It’s the time when you can be faithful to goals and aspirations- crowds of people are supporting you because they’re all in the resolution zone. It’s a time when savings and fitness and the best you is actually celebrated.

So January I’m waiting for you. I’ve been waiting for you since October because keeping up with the Christmas Johnses is tiresome. I look forward to boring, cold weekends and empty calendars and lightweight lunches and gloomy Monday’s because for me it means getting stuff done. It means making way for clean closets and fitness classes and family time. January beckons creativity and adventure and futuristic thinking. It’s the best month of all the months for us planners and future thinkers, strategic sisters and hard core jet-setters. It’s my birth month and my spirit month. If it’s not your month take this opportunity to get to know January in a whole new light.

I put together a snapshot of our year in review, so here’s a little look at what 2017 meant to us if you’d like to see…

January

In January we braved the cold with just a few days outside and lots of time in the local art studio, one of our favorite places. I celebrated my birthday (top right) and We had a fun barn party with the dinner club girls (top left). We made our first trip to the Memphis Ikea and we had a massive snow dump (at least for Memphis) where we played around outside and snuggled inside (bottom pics).

              

February

In February we celebrated little man’s birthday early with a joint party with his bestie (they’re only a month apart) and we indulged in some donuts at our favorite place Gibson’s in Memphis. And our little gal started her Toy Story obsession with a little help from her big brother.

March

In March we made a visit to Birmingham to pick up my father-in-law and drop off my son so he could make a short little drive to the beach with my family for his independent spring break. We finally got some warmer weather for patio dining at our favorite pizza place and my son celebrated his birthday the Montessori way at his school- looping the “sun” four times.

April

In April I made a quick trip to Nashville with my friends from elementary and middle school days and then my sweet friend from Miami came for a visit to Memphis. The kids also started their obsession with Spring umbrellas and pinwheels (they wanted to hold all the umbrellas and spin all the pinwheels!) This is also the month I started this blog!

We also instituted Sunday park days in April, celebrated Easter at church and with friends in our backyard with an egg hunt and did all the kite flying, tire swinging and bike riding we possibly could.

May

In May I celebrated Mother’s Day at my daughter’s school with muffins, my mom (Gigi) came for a visit and she accompanied me to a Dinner Club breakfast. Gigi made her traditional cupcakes with my son and we made a visit to the “touch a truck event” in Germantown, plus we kept obsessing over our most favorite park where we found a fun frog friend that the kids couldn’t stop chasing.

 June

In June I made a trip down to the beach to visit with family as we officially kicked off our summer. We swam in the pool, the ocean, ate ice cream and hit up a Wahoos baseball game.

July

In July we enjoyed more baseball with our local Memphis Redbirds, we made our way to the Levitt Shell concerts in the park, we enjoyed family walks in our neighborhood and my son went to his first VBS camp at our church. My mom and I threw a baby shower for my sister at the beach so my son and I made our second trip down to Pensacola. When we weren’t baby showering we were swimming and visiting with all the family.

August

Our August was full of birthday parties and sunflower farms and water time in our backyard.  We attempted the largest leaf cleanup yet! We had a staycation at a local hotel in Memphis where my daughter found her love of biscuits and jelly! We ran our annual Elvis 5K and continued pool days to beat the heat. Our sweet friends joined us for fun at the art studio and we were invited to a end of summer party complete with one of the largest bounce house slides we’ve ever seen and our sweet little girl was bound and determined to master it before age 2- and she did!

 September

September was all about back-to-school and celebrating our sweet girl turning 2! Our coffee club (the girls who service coffee at church) got our picture made for the church volunteer newsletter. We went to a dinner with Woody and Buzz and these two besties got in their get-ups.

We started fall soccer season and we made it to the annual Germantown Festival and we had a work eclipse party. We tried a fun new restaurant, Farm and Fries and my husband and I made it to the Shelby Farms Go Ape ropes course for a fun date day.

October

In the fall I made a trip to meet my niece and enjoy some alone time with family at the beach (my first solo trip without kids since I’ve been a mom!). We made it to our first Disney on Ice show with the kids and visited a fun barn party for Halloween. We also made a trip to Huntsville to visit family where my sister-in-law got in her best buck mascot uniform and we ran all over the local pumpkin patch (one of my most favorite things we have done all year). It was our first time to see our nephew play football.

November

In November we made our third trip to the beach to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family complete with a Christmas parade and a trolley ride and visits to our favorite local store Innerlight and my husband’s favorite beach restaurant. My husband and I had a fun brunch date at the Kitchen and then we picked up the kids and headed back to our favorite park for pine cone collecting. My little assistant also helped me volunteer at my son’s school.

December

December was a whirlwind. We visited family in Huntsville for the holidays and stayed in one of our favorite Airbnb’s, my husband and I enjoyed a date night at our own home for the first time ever overnight without kids in our own house! My son helped my husband deliver food for work to some of his customers and we put up our Christmas tree complete with our fun train. We had a lots of hot cocoa, made a ton of cookies and started our first annual cocoa and jammies tradition where we hit up Starbucks in our pajamas and grabbed cocoa and coffee to take with us to our trip to the Shelby Farms Starry Night Lights..

I hope you enjoyed our year in review. It was such a fun year, but these are truly the highlights, we have had some bumps in the road too. Running back through our pictures makes me realize when we were busiest, what my truly favorite annual traditions are and those things that we may need to retire. Honestly some of my favorite days looking back are those days that allow us to be spontaneous- going to the park, eating ice cream, hanging out at the pool, drinking hot chocolate at our house, and trying a new restaurants.

Here’s to you and yours this New Years and hoping it’s your best year yet!