"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thankful- summer week 2

This week has been difficult.  Not in any specific way.  Just in an annoying way.  In an --of course that would happen now gah can't I just get a minute to think-- kind of way.  I'm about the worst person in the world when it comes to adapting and going with the flow.  I do not do change of plans well.  I'm what you might call 'obsessive compulsive type A'.  Needless to say, I am having to be intentional about trying to be thankful.  Intentional about remembering to breathe.  Intentional about getting out of the house.  Intentional about art journaling, because seriously, that is so good for me.

Getting out of the house is going to be a must for me this summer.  Today I took Jude to the library, which was great.  He picked out books.  Plus, we have the moments of reading them, which gives us intentional activity.  We also went to a friend's house this afternoon which was fun.  Tomorrow I am going Target-ing for trip needs.  Friday I have book club and friends coming over.  Yippee.  I officially am one of those people who needs to get out of the house as often as possible to stay sane.  Bring all your fun summer toddler activities my way people.  For real!

Despite my stir crazy- I have had awesome moments.

Thankful for this past weekend:  Jude was with his dad Saturday night.  And while that ended up being a pretty huge headache, it did afford me some awesome time with Jimmy.  We went boot scootin' (heckyes) in good ole CowTown (Ft. Worth).  And even better Mark Chestnut was playing there that night.  It was a spur of the moment plan, but it was pretty fun to see him.  I have 100% given up on country as of like 2004 when it became riddled with shizzy pop disguised as country.  However, bring me all your fiddle playing/steel guitar picking/90s country.  Love!  To all you other girls in other parts of the world, I am sorry that you do not get to gaze at your man in boots on the regular.  That is a tragedy for so many Americans.  Two stepping makes my life worth living.  And also makes me love Jimmy more and more.

Monday and Tuesday we were greeted with rainy mornings.  Just a little bit of background- Texas has been in a severe drought state for the past 2 years or something.  I live a bit in the country where two lakes happen to somewhat meet up.  In order to get anywhere, I have to cross parts of the lake.  When I first moved here 3.5 years ago, it actually looked like a lake.  At this point, it is literally mostly dry land.  Not-even-joking.  Severe.  I literally pray everytime I go across (which is at least twice daily basically) that God send rain.  He has answered that prayer soooo much! this spring!  And is still answering it!  I have lived in NTX nearly 10 years.  I've never seen a wet June here in my life!  And to top it off our highs are like 88-93.  Also never happened in the 10 years I've been here.  Highs in the summer here range from 95-100 for June and 100-115 through July and August.  I mean I literally am in heaven right now.  I just kind of want to do a thanksgiving dance on my lawn pretty much daily.

 And then I came inside and saw this.  And I died a little bit.  Why yes I would love to watch my toddler cozy up to Sid the Science Kid while it rains outside and I sip my coffee.  Why no I'm not sure I can think of a better way to spend a summer morning.  Thank you Jesus!!!!

Disclaimer:  This cuteness being said, I'm pretty sure the fact that we've had 2 rainy mornings and have been unable to do fun stuff like go to the pool has been a large reason I am going stir crazy.  That in no way makes me unthankful for the rain.  Still praying for more of it!  But it definitely has shown me that on rainy days, I need to plan ways to get up and go!  Or have ingredients on hand to make cookies just in case?  Something!

This picture is just because.  Cutest sleeping kiddo.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day




Happy Father's Day to my Dad who taught me everything I needed to know in life:

* That Texas really is the best state possible.
* That life is meant to be lived at the beach as many days out of the year as possible.
* That hard work pays off.
* To always buy a used car.
* To think through every decision carefully and logically.
* That rock n roll is meant to be listened to loudly, and preferably with bose speakers.
* That classic rock is always and will always be the best era of music.
* That men are meant to be servants, hard working, patient, and loving.
* That love is an action, not a word.
* That no matter what happens, I will always have superhero who will save my day.
* That I'm worth a 3 hr drive to Waco to help me change my breaks.
* That if possible, you should do it yourself.  This is the first year in my life I've ever had to pay for an oil change.
* To love the woods and the outdoors.
* You're never too old to work on your tan.
* You should start working on your tan at least by March.
* made me the best omelets
* That it is perfectly acceptable to hang squirrel traps from your roof.
* How to use power tools.
* That Mexican food is always the best option, even if it requires a 2 hr drive to get there.
* That baseball is the best sport.
* To never be embarrassed but just dance and go for it.
* That you should always be humble enough to say your sorry.
* To forgive.
* That giving money back to church and charity is not an option.
* For always, always leading by example Dad, thank you.



And thank you for being the best Pops a crazy 3 year old could ask for.  So thankful that God has blessed Jude with you in his life to show him what it means to be a godly man.  There are just some things in this world I can never teach him.  I'm so grateful to know that regardless of what happens to me or in my life, Jude will always have you to depend on.


And to the other men in Jude's life that impact him and show him what it looks like to be a godly man:

Thank you Kunka JoJo for showing him what duty, honor, respect look like.  But also what it looks like to have fun and love the outdoors.  I'm not certain, but I think this was his first tree to climb.  It's fitting that you would help him.  As he gets older, I love thinking about all the wilderness love you could teach him.

To Kunka Bry Bry.  Thanks to you my child knows exactly what football team he will root for for the rest of his life.  Thank you for stepping in almost from the get go with diapers, babysitting, chicken balls, going for rides in baskets.  Jude is so blessed by the way you love on him!  I'm so thankful Megan married you.  Her children will be the luckiest!  Wreck em!

To Jimmy, the best boyfriend ever.  Jude might be starting to love you more than me ;)  I am continually blessed by the way you pour into my child.  You provide me so much needed sanity and just breathers.  But mostly, I love the way you care about him.  And how you legitimately think he's funny. And how you ask about him when you're out of town.  I'm thankful you've come into my life because you model for me daily the virtues I want to teach Jude to be.  You.  Are. The. Kindest!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dear Summer



Dear Summer, (but really to the One who created summer)

I love you.  I love the fresh fruit you bring me.  I love the way it excuses my obsession with fruit dip because at least I'm getting all those yummy antioxidants.  I love making iced tea to drink during your warm days.


I love that thanks to you I have time to sit around eating yummy snacks and making silly faces with this guy.  I love that I have the time to also do things like scrub my bathroom in its entirety.  I love how good it feels to work with my muscles, and not just my brain and emotions.


I love that I can enjoy my house and the spaces I've created- not feel like it is just there for me to flop into exhausted at night.


 I love that I get to listen to this sweet boy's creativity as it flows all. day. long.  I miss so much of his personality the other 3 seasons of the year.  Thank you that you exist to help me 'catch up' on who he is.  Thank you that I get to be the one who gets to put him in his bed for naptime (and even sometimes nap with him.)  Thank you that he shares his thinking with me- like how he arranged his Texas Tech hats on his bed just so, because he loves 'Texas'.


Thank you for the time to stop and sit while Jude shows me his 'cool trick' of running around the benches of the table and hopping over the spaces.  Thank you that there are no rules to you and it's ok if I let him stay in his jammies all day and go to Sonic at 3:00 in the afternoon in his slippers.


Thank you for your heat which makes milkshakes reasonable.  Thank you for the best milkshake partner in the world.  Thanks to him, I never waste my cherries anymore :)


Thank you for the time to go through my closet and get rid of 2 boxes full of stuff that I don't need.  It is so nice to see all the extra space in my house and in my closet.  I promise not to use too many of my free days filling it up with new clothes :)


But more than anything, thank you for the thousands of hugs and I love you's I've gotten from this guy the past 4 days.  Thank you that I was there when he wanted to play a game where he ran all the way from the back door into my arms to give me a hug.  Over and over and over again.  Thank you for the way that while he's playing in the pool sometimes he comes over to tell me he loves me.  Thank you that he is so readily able to express his emotions.  Thank you for the way he looks at me from where he is playing with friends just to wave at me with a huge smile.  Thank you for the incredible ways this child loves others.  1000 gifts and so much grace.

Love, 

Ashley

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Red Raspberry Lessons



This was a guest post for my friend Shannon a week ago.  I shared the link on my FB account for those of you who follow me there.  Since it was a topic close to my heart, I wanted to post it to my blog to go back and relive.  However, make sure you stop by Shannon's blog and say hi for me.



*******

Summer time always makes me think of my Grandma.  I didn't have the privilege of growing up near family.  My grandparents lived in Ohio, and we lived in New Orleans.  We usually just went up there once a year, often during our summer break.  She died a couple years ago, but my mind never fails to wander to memories of her.  This summer I am taking Jude to her farm, and the anticipation of reliving those moments has been so bittersweet.

I often look at the world around us and wonder why we are so driven by more more more.  (I think that is one of the many things I love about Shannon- she appreciates the simple.  Her photo shoot at home so warmed my soul.)  My grandma grew up as a farmer's daughter and farmer's wife in small town Ohio.  She relished the simple, and she did it well.

Her house at Christmastime.

Here are some simple memories that I cherish more than any others in my childhood:

* the cold creek water and minnows swimming around your ankles

* shelling peas into a wicker basket on the back porch

* waking up with sunlight streaming in her big country kitchen (and in the winter she still burned her old wood stove)

* baskets and baskets full of ripe red raspberries, and my fingers and mouth appearing to be permanently stained

* exploring in her old attic

* windows open at night with box fans in them.  She didn't get AC until I was in high school.

* jelly jars full of lightning bugs we had caught while running through the grass barefoot

* chasing barn cats and their kittens

* running through corn fields and tomato fields and of course eating the tomatoes and shucking the corn

* sitting around reading books and drinking tea with her

* swinging down hills on big vines hanging from the trees

* the way my sister got so excited when we hit the gravel road to her house.  She loved watching the rocks jump up

* building forts in the woods with my cousin

* getting lost in the woods for hours on end

* games around her kitchen table.  She was a scrabble master.

* creaky old wood floors

* buying Amish bread and cheese

* her own canned preserves.  The peaches were my favorite.  And the fact that she wandered down to her cellar to get them.

* all the family coming over for dinner

* hearing her sing above everyone at her small little church, and always old, old hymns

But I think what always sticks out to me the most was that she was never too busy.  All of those things above she was more than willing to be part of.  She picked raspberries with me and caught bugs with me and shelled peas with me and played scrabble with me.  She was never a bystander.  She was always a part of the action.  She gave what she had with every bit of her heart.  In the fall, they'd bring us apples and her homemade jelly.  She always brought me missionary biographies when I was little.  I ate those up.  I often wonder if she isn't to thank for my love of missionaries even now.  As I grew up, she would send me scores of prairie books she had finished.  I was always a lover of simple historical fiction.  My favorite and most treasured item in the world is a necklace she gave me.  She never wore jewelry and I'm not sure she much approved of it.  But she knew I was girly, so she bought this antique 'A' she found and put it on a chain.  I was so touched by that gift because I knew she went out of her comfort zone to buy it.  She took the time to know me and what I was like.  I wear it all the time, even 10+ years later.

I always felt so genuinely loved by her.  I always felt valuable.  I knew that when we were together she was mostly concerned with spending time with me.  She made me laugh, she made me think, and she always took the time to answer my questions.  She taught me to live simply and love fully and never waste a moment to cherish the people I love.  She is in so many ways my role model on what a loving, godly woman looks like, and I am so thankful for the hope I have in Christ of seeing her again.


Hand written letters, my favorite necklace, one of our last Christmas' at her house

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summertime


Now that I am officially moved out of my classroom, have helped with interviews for possible Lee teachers, and have turned in my classroom keys, summer has begun.  My garage is full of books upon children's books and files upon teacher files.  I hope you weren't planning on coming to visit me this summer, because my guest room is basically full of 'guests' from my classroom.



Summer is my time to be productive.  I'm not much of a 'relaxer'.  I have a hard time just sitting.  Not that I am a social butterfly, because I definitely am not.  I just like to work.  Today I literally had the best day.  I intentionally woke myself up at 6:30, got Jude and I up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 7:30.  I was the very first oil change of the day at good ole Wal- Mart.  I accomplished some of my leftover grocery shopping from yesterday (I never remember everything I need).  We were home by 8:45.  I unpacked the groceries, and dug up all the hedge grass on the side of my house as seen in the above photo.  By 10:15, I had finished that project and then had gotten Jude and I to our neighborhood pool :)



After a couple hours at the pool, we came home.  He ate lunch, took his nap.  I cleaned up a few things, did my quiet time, and took a nap.  He woke up and we went to the library.  He picked out 2 train books and a dragon book.  Of course.  And I found the book I believe my teacher book club group will be reading for June.  Score!  (although I am also reading a book of my own choosing.  Anyone else out there read multiple books at a time?)



When we got home, coffee was necessary.  I brewed a pot and did some laundry, got Jude dinner, got my dinner ready.



If you saw my IG post yesterday, I mentioned that I drink tea on the regular.  Today I brewed a wee pot of pomegranate black tea, which incidentally is probably my very most favorite.  Unsweetened, of course.



After dinner, I got back to work on my garden.  I watered my plants that I have in pots, as well as my hydrangea I bought this weekend.  I should have taken a pic of it, as I am ridiculously excited about it.  I love them, but it's so hot here.  I think I found the perfect place to plant them though.  It's pretty shady and the soil there stays fairly wet.  If it continues to thrive, I will be buying a few more!

Jude and also planted some ivy and flowers along the side as seen above.  Not pictured will be the lattice I will need to buy in order for the ivy to have something to climb.  Jude loves to help with gardening, although I mostly just let him fill up his watering can.  It will be fun as he grows to teach him to care for things.



On the right side of the picture above you can see all the random plants I have.  I found a packet of wildflower seeds in my garage back in March and decided to just plant them and see what happens.  It's a big of a mess, and I have no idea what to do about it.  Some of them are pretty like these.  Some of them just look like the weeds they are.  I'm not really sure what I want to do with it, and I'm not one to act quickly, so who knows what I will do with it.



What I do know is that I am enjoying gardening.  I like working and cultivating things and seeing how they turn out.  I like pruning and trimming rose bushes (although I have a lot to learn...).   And I can't help but think that this is a bit of a worshipful experience since our first job was to cultivate the earth.  In fact, gardening was our job before the fall even happened.  Heck, our first home was right in the midst of a garden.  It's interesting to think about.  Like it's where we belong.  It's also interesting how fulfilling a good day's work really is.  It's a good reminder that we aren't created to just take take take all the time.  We were created to do something, whatever that something is.



Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord ~ Colossians 3:23

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Thankful --- For my time at Lee

 Thankful for coworkers and thoughtful gifts.  And gardening, which is kind of a new obsession.

Thankful for homemade flautas.  

Thankful for little boys who are made of frogs, snails, and puppy dog tails.

My very last 2nd grade class.  

This week marks the end of a very significant period of my life.  I just finished my sixth year of teaching.  Five of those years have been at Lee Elementary.  Loving these kids has been my mission whole heartedly for what feels like my entire adult life.  From the picture, you can't tell how many I have struggled to help them read.  Or how many I have struggled to show them they are valuable.  Or how many of them I have struggled to show them I respect them.  Or how many of them have absolutely broken lives.  So much is behind those smiles.  As their teacher, I've had the priviledge of seeing into their souls on a daily basis.  I pray for them daily, tried to show them Christ's love daily (although I failed at that many times), and taught them as rigorously as I could in hopes they will be prepared for 3rd grade.  Looking back, I can think of 1000 ways I could have done my job better.  But I am 1000% grateful for the grace I know covers them and will carry them on to the next phase of life.  God has consistently refined my character through each of the children who have come through my classroom door the past 6 years.  I think the virtue He has refined the most is patience ;)

Next year, I will be moving on to a different school.  One that is close to my house, where Jude can go to Kinder in a couple years.  I have been on the fence about transferring for years, but just could never leave.  This year I realized I needed to seriously consider it because Kinder is approaching.  It was so hard to leave because I love the missional aspect of working at a school that is something like 90% economically disadvantaged.  I love the challenge and truly feel like that's where God called me.  But I also know that God entrusted a wonderful little boy to me and he is my primary mission.  To be honest, this has taken me awhile to accept.  But as Jude is getting older, I realize how much he needs me to be there to teach him and model godliness.  So I am taking on the mission of really putting Jude as the center of my mission.  

My new school is going to be amazing.  The team members I have met are so friendly and collaborative.  My new admin values both strong relationships among colleagues, but also accountability.  It is such a warm, fun yet focused environment.  I'm not kidding when I say I enjoyed the interview.  I feel so blessed to be able to join the team.  And I am beyond excited to be teaching a new grade next year- 1st grade!!!!  I've never taught 1st, but I cannot wait to really dive into word families and just watching kids go from barely reading to just taking off with their reading.  It's going to be so exciting I think!  God is good :)  

My last day as a 2nd grade teacher at Lee.

My fave team members.  We have taught 2nd together for the past 2 years.  And I've grown so much because of them.  1000 gifts!

In closing, God has blessed me greatly through every teacher and every student at Lee Elementary.  I am so thankful for that experience.  And I will continue to pray daily for all the admin, teachers, and students there.  You all have my heart.

But I am excited because I know that God is going to do great things in my life, and especially Jude's life with this new move.  

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!
~ Romans 11:36

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hello World, Remember Me?

Jude and I on Mother's Day

I think it's pretty safe to say I'm in a blogging rut.  Not because I don't have things to say, but I don't have the time to do it.  Or there are other things I want to do more.  Specifically gardening.  I have really been getting into this lately.  And thankfully with this cooler spring and now cool start of summer, it's been easy to do that.  I am beyond enjoying seeing all the new growth on my rose bushes.  This weekend I discovered morning glories growing wild so my head is full of how to try to capture and tame those.

My garden helper

For Mother's Day, Jimmy and I went plant shopping.  It's been amazing to have plants on my porch to look at and relax around.  So thankful for him and his willingness (and knowledge) to garden with me.  He is beyond amazing in countless ways.  Patient with my questions.  He loves on my child in ways that blow my mind.  And he serves me in the most humble ways, including planting flowers into pots with and for me.  He is the best man I know.

So much about this picture I love

My actual Mother's Day was spent relaxing in cool weather with some poetry on my front porch.  It was blissful and beautiful and peaceful.  Jude spent the time in what I have christened 'his digging spot'.  Because I'm pretty sure every boy needs one.  That evening Jimmy took us to dinner and because he is the kindest hearted human, he patiently played games with Jude while we waited.  I tried to get a pic of it, but none of them came out :(


Flash forward to last weekend (everything in between is a blur anyway...) and Jude and I joined my family in Annapolis Maryland where my brother graduated from the Naval Academy.  So much patriotism wells up in me when it comes to the military.  I am not the biggest believer in politics, but I love the general American ideals.  Flags, uniforms, gun salutes, etc just seem to foster that for me.  The commissioning ceremony was rather torturous as it was raining with a strong wind chill of 45*.  If it weren't for the fact that Obama was speaking and my love for my brother, I would have left.  The rest of the time was spent trying to stay warm, enjoying crab foods of all kinds, front porch sitting, and getting to know my brother's beautiful girlfriend (who happens to have been an Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Georgia.  I was one at Baylor.  My sis was one at Texas Tech.  There was secret handshaking.  And a possible night out with this...)

LITB

Some other pics from the weekend:


amazing
Future midshipman?

This is the porch I dream about.  My mansion in heaven will have this porch.

This weekend was spent celebrating that Jimmy and I have been dating for a year.  Technically a little longer, but we consider our first real date to be the beginning of June.  Last year on June 1st or 2nd (not actually sure of the date) we went to an Avett Brothers concert.  It was amazing musically.  Plus Dirk Novitski (sp?) happens to be an Avett fan and he showed up.  I was pretty nervous because this was the first date I'd been excited about since Michael.  I had no idea what I was doing.  Jimmy was nervous.  It  was the slowest start to a relationship considering I was somewhat freaked out to be dating anyone at the time.  I had no idea if I could trust myself to pick out a good one this time.  I took each day at a time and proceeded with caution.  As only God could know, Jimmy is just a naturally easy paced person, and my need for time suited him fine.  We spent 4-5 months 'figuring it out' and it wasn't until that long in until labels were attached.  And probably 8+ months in before we both were ready to acknowledge this was in any way serious.  Thinking back over this past year, (besides just making me cry right now- what the heck...) its just crazy.  Doesn't seem that long.  And yet Jimmy is by far one of the best things to happen to my life.  And in every way, one of the most patient, humble, servant hearted men I've ever met.  In fact if I had to pick a single word to describe him, servant would be it.  And having a character like that, well it's just impossible to not trust and respect him, which my heart so desperately needed to be able to do.  I love him so very much.

We celebrated last night by going to the KXT summer fest, which headlined, guess who- the Avett Brothers.  Same concert.  A year to the day of our first date.  It was a blissful evening to sit on a quilt in our warm, breezy June weather.  (until it poured that night haha :)  



So anyway, life is good.  In 5 days it will be summer.  I will get to spend my time with Jude who tells me every day after work that he 'misseded' me.  And I will continue to enjoy the ease of loving someone who loves me so selflessly for exactly who I am.