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Family

Traveling the Road Less Traveled: Adoption Update

We had a call about a placement for adoption last weekend. We were ecstatic. We jumped through hoops to get our work stuff covered, make plans to take our children out of school for the day, hired a pet sitter, packed our bags and drove seven hours to Texas. Our adrenaline was through the roof! This was the call we had been waiting for. We were SO hopeful and enthusiastic to meet our match.

But it just didn’t work out.

The whole entire story isn’t ours to tell. It involves a child and his family.

The story is covered in a great deal of grief and pain. The emotion we just dove into was all over the place, from joyous to the deepest basement of sadness, and that’s just it, we dove RIGHT into it. We were a mess last week. And honestly we still are.

We are doubting our adoption journey. We are hugging our bio children tighter.  We are finding a way to regroup and move forward. I never knew how hard adoption would be.

Sure I knew the paperwork was hard. I knew the waiting was hard. But I never knew the emotion that a failed match would bring.

A friend of mine said this to me this week: “It’s emotional because it’s emotions you’ve never experienced! It opened my eyes up to a whole different world… so many people hurting and needing love!” And that exactly sums up everything I’m feeling about ALL of it right now.

For our friends that have been praying- thank you! Can we ask you to keep praying? We had a glimpse into the life of a boy on his journey to find his forever family and he needs your prayers even more than we do.

 

Family

Roughing it at a Horse Farm

Hey hey! We are well into summer and I’ve had a little hiatus from this site. Honestly I thought summer would be a time of relaxation but it’s been busier than ever. Last month we visited a horse farm and we had the best time. I wanted to share our experience if you’d like to see!

I found the farm on www.farmstayus.com, a site housing farm stay experiences and guest ranches. We wanted to be close to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, but we also wanted to have access to restaurants and entertainment in case we wanted to escape the work life of the farm.

We made the drive from Memphis to our first stop Knoxville, a city we’ve never visited, so we stayed one night to explore the town. One of the benefits of the Knoxville visit was stopping at their Trader Joe’s for groceries- we don’t have one yet in Memphis and we are extremely jealous. We hit a few spots near the downtown area including the playground and observatory tower where we caught a panorama view of the city and lots of rocks to climb on.

We also got in a good family workout in the hotel gym!

How amazing is this milkshake? The kids were pretty stoked about it and then, after lunch, they got to run through one of the fountains before we made our way to the horse farm right outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

The farm is a working farm with a breathtaking view of the Smoky Mountains.

We grabbed the keys to our cabin, set down our luggage (After getting some goats out of our truck! They had made their way into the vehicle upon seeing open doors while we unloaded luggage). We met the owner at her truck for some post afternoon work.

We loaded into her pick-up truck with supplies that included horse food, vitamins pooper scoopers and manure bucket and started making the round to visit her four stable stops to get to work. This routine occurs twice a day, mornings at 6:00 am and afternoons at 5:30 pm. Guests are are encouraged to participate in farm chores but it’s not mandatory.

On our second day my husband and son were signed up for a half day ride so we headed out at 6 am for chores, similar to the ones we had completed the evening before. When we finished those, it was time to get the horses ready for the ride. This included brushing the horses, picking dirt out of their hooves, and saddling them up. Finally my son and husband took off with the owner and her helper, voicing out a few “yehaws” by our cabin so my daughter and I could wave them on for the start of their journey. This was my sons first ride and he absolutely loved it! My daughter even got a short ride in at the end of their session, just down the long driveway, and she was so happy to be included.

The next day we headed over to Gatlinburg where we hiked one of the short trails to Laurel Falls. We saw lots of bugs and insects and the people ahead of us saw a mamma bear and her cub. There’s so much to do in Gatlinburg but we really wanted to experience the Smoky Mountains in all of its beauty.

On day three at the farm my son wanted to ride again so I agreed to be his riding buddy. We left at 6 am to do our farm chores and headed out for our ride where we directed our horses under short tree limbs, over rocky stream paths, and around snakes! We played games around barrels and put leaves on the backs of our horses to see which horse could steadily keep their leaf on their backside.

After our ride we went into Gatlinburg again to check out an aquarium, ride the Ferris wheel, grab some pizza, and check out the local shops.

During our stay, I should mention that we also got lots of time with the other animals, including the donkeys, goats, a pig, bunnies, chickens, cats and of course, the horses. We were instructed to keep our dinner scraps and feed them to the animals after dinner.

At one point my daughter was feeding the mamma goat some of the goat pellets and the goat was being finicky, wouldn’t take the food from her hand, but would eat it out of mine. We gave the feeding another try, and to my surprise, that mamma goat head-butted my daughter right in her forehead. My daughter wasn’t hurt physically, but she loves animals and her feelings were extremely bruised. She became so angry that she blasted that goat with all the profanities a two-year-old can possibly have in their vocabulary and she vowed that she wouldn’t be feeding that goat her dinner leftovers for the rest of the trip! We laughed and laughed about her boldness standing up for herself against that goat.

Before we left, we grabbed some memory cards from the little store on property, which featured actual pictures of all the animals on the property. We also snagged a coloring book which doubled as instructions for safely dealing with horses. My kids are still looking at the memory card pictures of all their animal friends from our trip.

Overall, we had such a fun vacation. It rained every day that we were there, but the rain never dampened our plans. The weather seemed to lighten up at exactly the right times whenever we had plans outdoors. The trip was relatively inexpensive, a reasonable drive from home, and the accommodations were perfect. Our kids can’t wait to head back to visit again. My son did so well with his two-day horse riding lessons that we are considering enrolling him in lessons here at home.

Have you been vacationing this summer? How have you been relaxing this summer?

 

 

 

 

Family, Uncategorized

Friday Favorites {5.17.18}

Hey hey, it’s Friday! We have graduations, end of work fiscal year crunch and last week of school all crammed into the next few days- whew! I’m ready for pool weather and vacation, and selfishly I can’t wait to take the week off from making school lunches.

This week I’m sharing my favorites! Take a look if you’d like to see.

There is nothing more that I love than a clean home. That’s why I love, love Clean Mama! Follow her on Instagram too and she’ll get you inspired to clean your house from top to bottom through her daily and weekly challenges.

I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. I am totally and completely sucked into the world traveler bloggers- the ones who sell everything they own and travel the world. Right now my favorite family is the Bucket List Family and they recently posted a new enlightening, but extremely frightening, video of the father swimming with tiger sharks (uncaged). Would you do it?

The royal wedding is this weekend- eek! Are you watching? Here’s a cheat sheet on the royal family tree with details on the succession line. And just in case you’re looking for a hat to celebrate the occasion, here are the Biggest and Best Royal Wedding hats of all time.

Isn’t this one interesting?

 

This summer we are taking the kids to their first waterpark- they’re finally old enough. Check out this list of the best waterparks around the US.

Doesn’t this slide in the Enchanted Forest Water Safari look like so much fun!

Plus, what a cute kids 4th of July shirt! I’m ready to put all the things red, white and blue in my shopping cart and run full speed into a vacation sunset.

Finally, if you’re staying home for Memorial week, check out Real Simple’s tips for having a staycation.

Have a fun weekend!

~Ashley

Family, Uncategorized

Be a Piece of Our Puzzle

Adoption is puzzling so this fundraiser is fitting! We are home study approved and waiting to complete our family with one more child through adoption. Right now we’re on the list with an agency in Texas and preparing for placement with a fundraiser, because ya’ll adoption is expensive! With fees upwards of $40,000 or more, and an unpaid maternity, due to medical leave being out of the equation with adoption, we thought we’d put together a fun fundraiser. We could get a call about our child any day!

We can’t wait to bring baby P home from Texas, so a Tennessee state puzzle was the perfect fit since we just love our state.

Here’s how it works:

  • Purchase a puzzle piece
  • We’ll put your name on the back of the piece you’ve purchased
  • When the puzzle is complete, we will frame it and hang it in the baby’s room
  • Puzzle pieces are $30 and if you’d like to contribute you can make payment to our YouCaring page or through paypal. If you’re interested in making a large contribution, email me directly and we can work to accommodate a tax receipt.

The puzzle has 150 pieces and we have 145 left to sell!

We can’t wait for this child to be loved on by our community of friends and family and we’re excitedly awaiting our match and placement.

XO ~Ashley

PS: Why we’re adopting.

PSS: Our adoption profile book.

Family

What do you do on maternity leave?

A few years ago when I had my daughter I was able to take a four month maternity leave, the maximum allowed leave for my state. It was glorious, exhausting, and much needed quality time, not only with my newborn, but with both my kids.

A lot of people asked me, “What did you do? Didn’t you get bored?” I contemplated my maternity leave “expidition” for a few months. Enter the maternity bucket list- a loose list of accomplishments I’d set out to achieve over the four month entirety.

41 countries rank higher than the US in the paid maternity leave department. Estonia rocks the charts with residents receiving 87 weeks of paid maternity leave- that’s over a year-and-a-half of paid leave!

”The U.S. is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The smallest amount of paid leave required in any of the other 40 nations is about two months.”-pewresearch.org

Since I set out to fund my leave almost entirely (my work and short term medical leave covered roughly 6 weeks of my time), it was important to me that I had a handle on how I spent my time.

My bucket list was a compilation of activities that I had a hard time getting to as a working mom along with activities that would stimulate my new baby and my toddler, but with additional bonus time for me. I also added some mom things that were otherwise hard to pull-off while I was working (i.e. making a Valentine treat bag for my son’s entire toddler class and bringing homemade treats to class parties).

I made lunch and coffee dates with friends about two days a week. I joined a gym when my infant was six weeks old and exercised every day at the same time for an hour (the childcare was amazing and they rocked my baby for the full hour while I worked my booty off losing all my baby weight). I went to the library and checked out kids’ books and read them out loud to my baby at home. The variety of books kept me engaged and I’d always heard talking to your baby had encouraging benefits. It was also glorious not rushing out of the house on the days I kept my oldest home from school. On these days I scheduled lounge days and made a point to stay put inside. I have fond memories of my time off- it was such a sweet time that I’ll never get back. I really enjoyed those four months and I had no regrets about missing out on something I would’ve wanted to accomplish because I had my list! I’m always encouraging moms that can afford it to take their full leave time!

Here’s a rough outline of my bucket list. Obviously, we accomplished some of these things after my postpartum medical time, because a few list items require more activity than others.

How did you spend your maternity leave? Did you make a list?

~Ashley

  • Go to the Zoo
  • Start a baby book for my daughter
  • Go to the Library (I read a LOT of books to my infant over maternity leave)
  • Join and go to the gym (free childcare)
  • Organize closets in the house
  • Meet friends for lunch and coffee
  • Join a mom’s group
  • Read
  • Organize my toddler’s artwork
  • Use Panera order ahead
  • Visit the best coffee shops in the city
  • Learn how to make a new dish
  • Get the kids passports
  • Make homeless care packages
  • Stock the freezer with premade meals to utilize when I return to work
  • Stock up on breast milk
  • Make Valentine treat bags
  • Take lots of walks around the city
Career & Resources, Family, Uncategorized

Friday Favorites {4.27.18}

Happy weekend. What are you up to? We have a new rock wall gym in our town and I’m dying to try it. The last time I’ve been rock wall climbing was in college- we used to have on in our campus gym. Have you been climbing?

We just signed up for Filter Easy and our filter came yesterday! We have not changed our air filter in over a year- eeks! It is time!

Building a business from the ground up is for the birds 

Have you tried trunk club? My husband and I both ordered a box this month. Amongst other things, these shoes were in his trunk and this dress was in mine!

How pretty is this hoop wreath?

We just booked our next vacation on a farm– would you do it?

Now that it’s Friday- what ticked you off this week?

AND we have this family movie on repeat- it’s so cute! We can’t stop watching it- makes me want to travel to Mexico again- pronto!

Finally, the article that made me cry happy tears. Human compassion at its finest.

Are you up to anything fun this weekend? I hope it’s a great one!

Family, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Get Your Farm On

We are exploring vacations and I stumbled upon this site: www.farmstayus.com

A few years ago we actually stayed on a bee farm in Big Sur, California and it was one of the greatest vacations we’ve ever booked.

Every morning we woke up to peek outside and watch the bee workers outside in their large white, head-to-toe, beekeeper attire, tending to their early morning duties. Each evening we watched the sun set while we overlooked the Pacific Ocean from our elevated deck chairs just off the side deck of our living area. And during the day we spent our time hiking, and exploring and hoping into eco-friendly restaurants and delicious hometown bakeries.

We received fresh eggs and honey, composted our waste for the chickens, picked fresh lemons, limes and oranges, and walked the redwood forest trail on the property, a path the owners had cleared themselves. Perched on the claw foot tub, was a homemade bar of lavender soap that filled the entire cottage with an unforgettable, invigorating, aroma.I’m not so sure our experience will be the same at another farm, but we’re anxious to experience nature, let the kids interact with animals, and help educate them on some of the practices that help bring food to our table.

Would you farm on your next vacation? Where would you go?

Family, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Friday Favorites {4.20.18}

It’s Friday! If only every day could be as happy as a fist-full of cotton candy on a spring day! My hopes are that your Friday is at least as happy as this picture. Today I’ll be celebrating Earth Day with my son at his school at lunchtime. The huge celebration is packed with 901rock decorating, crafts, reading time (Earth Day books of course!) and music- I love that they put so much effort into celebrating this special day. My son will also be playing his first baseball game coached by my husband- I’m snack mom this week and we’re bringing oranges and Pirates Booty at the request of my son (every 5-year-olds’ dream!)

We also have lots of other fun things planned this weekend- I am stoked it’s Friday!

Here are some things to ponder around the web.

Some states are now raising the bar on restaurant labor laws– a step up from my $2.13 an hour server days.

We have been binge watching this Netflix show.

Self-care– are we all doing it wrong?

This hopeful prayer

My friend had on Rothy shoes and gave me a demo on my porch- ha! Makes me want to buy some! They’re washable and bendable and made out of recycled material.

AND I have this ‘ole ab workout video on repeat #summergoals

What are you up to this weekend? We’re hoping the weather pans out! Have a lovely two days.

Family, Uncategorized

5 Fun Things {4.3.18}

Hey hey! How’s your week going? I’ve been saving up some fun things I stumbled upon (around the web) and this week is a great week for a pick-me-up. Here are 5 fun things (plus 1)- check it out if you’d like to see!

Fleeing desk jobs for the farm life

Breakfast for Dinner-yes please!

Morning Motivation -made me pumped!

My new (aspiring) dance moves -I can’t stop watching!

Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. -If you’re not obsessed we can’t be friends.

And for those asking and wondering, we’re still in the adoption waiting game. We’re approved and on stand-by for our placement. It could be tomorrow or three years from now- what can I say- we live on the wild side! Please keep us in your thoughts during this waiting period. Happy mid-week!

~Ashley

Family

Our Adoption Profile Book {3.12.18}

Hello there. We are back from vacation and I’m back to work this week. Post-vacation on a week where we loose an hour is a little rough, but we’re hanging in there. The extra sunshine we’ll be gaining each day sure will be worth it!

We were home study approved for our adoption a few days before we left for vacation and we had already printed our profile book, so I dropped the copies by our agency office and then we headed out on a flight the next day to beautiful South Florida. The day before we arrived home from vacation we received an email from our social worker “There’s a mom who has already birthed a baby girl and we will be placing her next week. Can we show her your book?” We had less than 24 hours to respond and we said yes! We were excited, but also experiencing that nervous feeling like: “are we going to come back from vacation and get a baby?”

Unfortunately we didn’t get a call about that placement, but I thought it would be fun to share our profile book if you’d like to see. We are currently home study approved for infant adoption in the US. I know I researched a lot of books before I put ours together so I thought I’d share our final version just in case someone out there is trying to prepare their book and is looking for ideas! We used mixbook to create it- I’ve used them before for family photo books and I love them. They have colorful, easy to use templates.

Our agency gave us some guidelines including what types of pictures to include and which ones to omit. For example, we have a cat, but she never comes out for our kids and we didn’t want to promise anyone that we have a “friendly loving pet” so we just left her out of our book.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the book. Feel free to comment below or send me a message through the contact section of this blog if you have any questions we could help answer about our journey so far.

XO Ashley