12.05.2015

What I'm Into: December 2015 Edition

In the Kitchen
Taco Tuesdays...need I say more? Try this Korean beef recipe and you won't be disappointed!

I love pretty much anything from Budget Bytes, but this Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta is to die for. I looked at the recipe, and laughed when I read "1/4 cup parmesan".  A QUARTER CUP of cheese? Just a quarter cup? No, there's got to be a mistake. Well, I took the matter into my own hands and, omitting the parmesan completely, added an entire package of Herb & Garlic Boursin cheese. Oh yes. That made my heart (and belly!) happy.

On my Night table 
Currently Reading: (see sidebar)
Winter's Heart, Robert Jordan: Still trekking with the three ta'veren as they save the world from the evil that threatens to take over.  This is book nine of fourteen-a long investment, but if you like fantasty, it's worth it!

The Ersatz Elevator, Lemony Snickets (A Series of Unfortunate Events): This Junior fiction series is so depressing but cleverly written. Count Olaf is trying to get his hands on the Baudelaire orphans' inheritance, and each book tells a different tale of how they escape his clutches, but only just. 

Read:
What a Difference a Mom Makes, Dr. Kevin Leman: This book is written for mothers of boys, specifically, and it was very insightful.  I would highly recommend it; Dr. Leman covers a lot of ground, and caters to moms of all ages. 

Dad is Fat, Jim Gaffigan: I've never seen his comedy shows live, but I've heard he's pretty clean, and his book was excellent.  I found myself laughing out loud, and nodding my head in agreement as he talks about parenting his five children and shared about his comedic and chaotic life.

Through my headphones
Songza playlists, Audien's Something Better , Sia's Alive

Fitness
Blogilates- Loving Cassey's workouts still. Keep up with her monthly calendar, and you'll notice some amazing results!

In the Word
Jake and I have been trying to spend intentional time together in the Word.  Twice a week we read a chapter of a C.S. Lewis book and then a chapter in Ecclesiastes.  It's been really great for us to take our relationship to a deeper level with the Lord.  Over the years of our marriage we've always struggled with this, so I'm hoping the discipline will stick.

As far as my own study goes, I've been tracking with the She Reads Truth app, doing a Hymn study and a Gratitude study.

Love,
Ashleigh

12.04.2015

Cold weather bucket list...

I admit it.  I'm not really a fan of winter, but I've heard that writing a bucket list of the things you want to do in the wintertime can make it tolerable. So here goes:

*toboggan with Adrian 
*go caroling and get hot chocolate afterwards
*go skiing or tubing at least once
*drink a hot chocolate outside when my fingers are frozen like ice
*fly to Switzerland with Jake and stay in a chalet while watching the snow swirling outside and drinking hot chocolate in front of a fireplace
*fly to Florida and stay in a rented house with a pool and a frozen chocolate beverage, and go to Disney World

There, now I feel much better about winter!

Love,
Ashleigh

12.03.2015

Christmas is for Interior Decorating...

This year, more than in years past, I've been feeling the pressure to have a perfectly decorated home for Christmas.  The stores set up their festive wares early on in the season [can we give Thanksgiving some breathing room?!] and I was struck with just how materialism dictates the pulse of the season.  

Image Source
My feelings were intensified after my second annual Christmas home tour.  If you're not familiar with these, they are typically fundraising events in which people with unique or grandiose homes open them up for tours.  There are usually local food vendors who set up shop in the kitchen, offering samples of their creations and hopefully receiving some business in return.  The tour satisfies my psyche in two ways: 1} I get to have a reason for snooping in people's homes 2} I fill up my belly with delicious holiday morsels.  Despite the delightful sensory experience, I felt those old feelings of dissatisfaction and unworthiness welling up within me.  Never mind that those homes were decorated specifically for this event by professional interior decorators.  Never mind that they may very well look as lived in as my own apartment from day to day.  My mind completely blocked out reality, mourning over how shabby my home looked in comparison to such perfectly matching decor.  I remembered all the decorations and accents that I saw in the stores, and tried to imagine how I could make my own home look just so.

Image Source
A few weeks removed from this event, my thoughts are a little more clear.  I still feel the need to get the perfect wreath for our door [because wreaths are high on my list of what an immaculately decorated home should have], but I'm pondering how to move through this season while still keeping the main reason in the forefront of my mind. 

The stores might tell me to buy more wreaths.
The advertisements might tell me to buy the perfect decorations.
The magazines might tell me I must have an altogether festive home.

But in my heart I know that remembering Jesus' birth is the only thing worth dwelling on, not what kind of centerpiece to acquire for my table.  God came to earth as a man to save all of mankind, and now there is Hope! All the Christmas decor in the world will not satisfy my longings more than this exciting news.

Love,
Ashleigh




10.01.2015

A Letter to My Firstborn...

Happy 2nd birthday, Adrian! I'm being reminded of some things that I wrote a couple of years ago and wanted to share them here...

On Your Due Date, September 21, 2013:

To my dear little one,

You have been growing inside of me for 9 months now.  Today is the day they said you could make your entrance into this crazy life.  I, for one, am overjoyed to meet you. 

I'll never forget that first moment I saw your little 12 week old existence, waving at Daddy and I from the monitor, moving your little arms and legs to some musical melody that must have been played by God, for your tiny ears alone.  You were really there, this miracle of life that all evidence pointed to, but physical evidence up to that point being only the roller-coaster of emotions I had been feeling.  

I waited for so long, and even when I felt that first flutter of life that could have been mistaken for indigestion I knew that you were going to change my life.  I felt sick and a little queasy when your movements became stronger, and the gravity of knowing I was carrying a human being, a life made in God's image, became very real.  I enjoyed getting to know your movement schedule, and trying to time it so that Daddy could feel you, too.  You weren't always "cooperative".  I think you may have been a little shy.  I had to remind myself that you are your own person, created with a unique personality which I will have the joy and wonder of discovering as you grow.  

I loved how your Daddy asked, "How's baby?" whenever he came home from work.  He would hold my belly, lean down real close and say, "Hi, baby!" in an endearing, high-pitched voice that I had never heard before. 

Sometimes when I feel you moving around I think, "What are you doing in there?" and I wish that my tummy had a little window so I could press my fingers against yours.  

It wasn't so difficult to choose not to know your gender.  I love those moments in the movies when they say, "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!"  The desire for a surprise was too strong, but now I'm eager to know my little son or daughter.  My child.  You aren't my sibling, or my nephew, or my friend's baby.  You are my child,a true gift from God that is the express outcome of the love shared between Daddy and I.  It is a beautiful mystery how an intricate, perfectly designed human being can be formed from one cell.  

Baby, I want you to know that I love you.  The love grew so strong over the course of 9 months that now there is this physical ache in my arms to hold you.  I need to feel you, to touch you and stand in awe before God.  We never chose to find out if you had a genetic condition.  I didn't want to judge you prematurely, to think of you in any way that is less perfect than how God made you, flaws and all.  I am your mother, and no amount of sickness or disease can change the way I feel about you. 

You are being born into a world that is full of lies, full of hatred, full of people who will want to hurt you and abuse you.  Sin has infiltrated every corner.  But your Daddy and i promise to teach you about Jesus, about the hope that comes with trusting in Him.  He died for you, for the sins you haven't even committed yet  I promise to teach you of the love He has for you, my precious Little Rabbit.  As your mother, I think about nights spent tucking you into bed, reading you Bible verses, teaching you how to pray for others.  I know I won't be the perfect mom, but oh! how I pray that you will give me grace when I fail.  I promise to seek truth in God's Word so that I will not deceive you like the world is wont to do.  My deepest desire is for you to know Jesus in the richest sense of the Word, and that one day He won't be "that guy" that Mommy and Daddy talk about, but that He will be Your Lord and Saviour, too.  May your tender heart turn towards him when you are sad and disheartened.  

My prayer for you is that you will know true peace in Christ.

These days I am likening your arrival to the return of Christ.  I know He's coming back one day, but not when.  I suppose we can be a bit more definite with you, but we still don't know the hour.  I find myself smelling the sweet scent of the baby laundry detergent i bought for your sensitive baby skin, holding up tiny sleepers and onesies to my nose, imagining your little body filling them, filling my arms.  Even though I feel you moving on the inside, I still rub my hands over my belly to get another touch of what must be your foot, knee, bum.  Your movements have never been so uncomfortable.  You never kicked me painfully.  When you did kick, it startled me, making me laugh.  Your movements have been more gentle, like a rolling.  I often got freaked out when I saw/felt a little elbow or knee slide across my belly.  You have been a joy and a mystery, even when a foot pops up undder my ribs so that I have to sit back far.  You made Daddy laugh, a lot,which gave me even more joy.  You should see his face when he talks about you, espeecially this week, since he's finished his paper.  He lights up and gets this goofy "dad" grin.  He can't wait to meet you and always says, "Baby wants to be born!" or "Baby, be born! Come out"  He pushes on either side of my belly trying to find you, wiggling you back and forth.  Then he says, "Oh! There you are!" and pokes and leans down to kiss you (or me!)  He is so in love with you too- never forget that!

My sweet darling child, they say you have a special connectino with a first born.  I'm so excited to meet you, and you are going to change my life forever.  You will teach me how to be a mother.  I await your arrival eagerly and prayerfully.  Mama loves you so much.  Come soon, my precious one!

9.03.2015

What Im Into: September 2015 Edition

In the Kitchen
I may be slightly obssessed with graham crackers lately, and I mean buying boxes and boxes, even mid-week.  My favourite thing to do with them (aside from s'mores, of course!) is to spread peanut butter and sliced bananas on top.  It's the perfect way to add a bit of sweetness to an already sweet snack.  

I've also been making a lot of hummus chicken.  Simply cut into cubes some potatoes, onions, carrots, and peppers, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper, then place in a 9x13 baking dish.  Place raw chicken breast on top and then spread the hummus of your choice on top of the chicken.  Bake at 400F until chicken is cooked through (approx 40-50 min).  I've experimented with different vegetables. Our favourite combination was eggplant, mushroom, and red pepper.  

On my Night table 
Currently Reading: (see sidebar)
A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan: The seventh installment of the Wheel of Time series, we continue on our quest with the three ta'veren and their friends as they battle with the forces of evil to make their world a better place.  I'm about halfway through the series and I feel like it's taken over my life.  The books just keep getting better and better.

Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northup: I'm listening to this one on audiobook and have actually become quite attached to the protagonist.  Written in first person, the author tells us his story of being captured into slavery even though he was born a free man, and his struggles and trials therein.  I would highly recommend it.  If anyone has seen the movie, let me know what it was like. 

Read:
Longbourn, Jo Baker: Written alongside the story of Pride and Prejudice, this book turns our attention too the downstairs life, the lives of the servants.  I enjoyed the imagination that went in to a book like this, and it was neat hearing the perceptions of the Bennet's life from the perspective of the servants.

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green:  This book was written from the first person perspective of a terminally ill teenager, whose story begins in her mid-teens and spans about a year.  We see her fall in love and acheive a life-long goal.  While witty and interesting, the book lacks much hope.

Through my headphones
An audiobook, the radio, and Songza.  Nothing much to write about here.

Fitness
Blogilates- Still doing this, although some days are easier than others.  Keep up with her monthly calendar, and you'll notice some amazing results!

In the Word
I'm still following the She Reads Truth program, and working my way through the Fruit of the Spirit series.  Last week we studied about love, peace, patience, and kindess.  I love how much scripture we are set to read each day, and the encouragement from reading with other women.

Love,
Ashleigh

Peaches and Summer's Not Over Yet...

I made use of the delicious Ontario peaches that are being sold in grocery stores this summer.  Every year I make the resolution to start buying more locally grown foods in order to save some money.  They always say to buy in season, right?  The peaches I bought this week are absolutely heavenly.  I think I've had three already today. What's better than biting in to a succulent, sweet, juicy peach?


Speaking about summer, this weather has been killer.  We don't have AC, so I've just given in to the inevitable-I'm gonna be sweaty, I'm gonna feel sweaty, and it's a reality.  I feel bad for the boys, but in some sense babies don't really notice too much anyway (although their little rosy cheeks don't lie!)

I find myself longing to blog every once in a while, and not knowing what to blog about.  Being a Mom is a big part of my daily life and routine right now, but I don't want a 'Mommy' blog (not that there is anything really wrong with that!) The other inhibitor from blogging has been the lack of a laptop during my downtime during the day (i.e. Jake has the laptop at work when I'm home with the boys, and 'downtime' is whenever they're napping)

However, I recently acquired an iPad mini from a friend (my first Apple product!), complete with a detachable keyboard.  After a little bit of trial and error and a lot of googling "how to connect a keyboard to an ipad mini" I've finally got it working.  I will also add that there is a sense of liberation as I type away on my own device, knowing that nobody else needs it for whatever reason.  I'm extremely grateful to my friend for her kindness, since I've been needing a tablet of some sort for a long while now.

This guy and his hair...it's become such a statement piece.  People are split right down the middle as to whether we should cut it or leave it.  Both Jake and I have agreed to leave it for now.  We all love it and nobody has really mistaken him for a girl because of it.  It's gotten so curly over the summer, with the humidity and all.  

Keep cool in this heat.  We're going to go on a field trip for AC later on. 
Love,
Ashleigh

3.31.2015

What I'm Into: March 2015 Edition

In the Kitchen
I've been eating pretty close to a paleo diet lately, which means no grains (including rice, and quinoa).  This is a personal choice, and I'm not going to lie and say it hasn't been difficult, but I've been enjoying the physical changes I'm seeing.  I'm still abstaining from sugar for Lent, only allowing it on Sundays.  Needless to say, our meals haven't been exactly interesting.  More protein (which Jake is loving), and so many vegetables and fruits in the fridge.  It's scary.  Not saying that vegetables and fruits aren't interesting, but it's hard adjusting to the absence of a particular food group.

On my Night table 
Currently Reading: 
I gave up reading fiction novels for Lent, so I haven't been reading too much the past couple of months.

Read:
Yes Please, Amy Poehler- I just finished this memoir.  It was okay...nothing really magical or enlightening. It's always reading about the secret life of actors 


Through my headphones
Outlines, Dragonette
Lean on, Major Lazer & DJ Snake
Sam Smith- His voice kills me.  It's so beautiful
Anything EDM, pop, and whatever my sister sends me to listen to

Fitness
Blogilates- Cassey Ho is an energetic and inspiring YouTube fitness instructor.  I've been enjoying doing her monthly calendars, and using the Blogilates app has been useful since all her videos are right there, and I can check them off when I'm done.  I lost 5 inches in the month of February simply by following her videos and cutting out sugar most days, as well as trying to eat healthier in general.  Cassey has been good for me.

Yoga- Yoga with Adriene has been great.  I'm working through her 30 Days of Yoga series, and finding it's been excellent for de-stressing and flexbility

Readings in my Bible
I'm still following the She Reads Truth program, and working my way through the Bible-in-a-Year plan.  The Lent readings have been good, as we've been focusing on Christ's sacrifice, working our way towards Good Friday and the celebration of His resurrection.  So thankful for this time of year, when we take the time to remember the forgiveness and grace we have in Christ Jesus.

Love,
Ashleigh

1.12.2015

What I'm Into: January 2015 Edition...

In the Kitchen
Coffee, coffee and more coffee.  And the odd cup of tea. But I've been obsessed with drinking coffee.  We were bad and splurged on a big box of chicken nuggets at Costco, and paired with some roasted potatoes and a salad it's a pretty tasty meal.  I bought some gnocchi thinking Adrian would enjoy it, which he did (the first time), but now I'm addicted to it, especially with a little bit of rose sauce on top.  Also, smoothies made in my new Magic Bullet.  I think I'm in love.


On my Night table 
Currently Reading: 
The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan: This fantasy novel is the first of fourteen, which may seem a little daunting at first, but I must say that I'm quite hooked.  The characters are likeable, relatable, and the story is interesting and suspenseful, a Lord of the Rings-esque tale woven with themes of good versus evil. 


Read:
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett: One of the best books I read last year, it was the adventure book to sate any adventure lover's appetite.  With the majority of the book taking place in the Amazons of Brazil, it's no wonder I was so captivated!

Love in a Broken Vessel, Mesu Andrews: It's been a while since I've read some cheesy Christian fiction, but I think this one accomplished its goal.  The story was Hosea from the Bible, and his struggles with God's call for him to take a prostitute as a wife.  I thought Andrews did a great job of focusing the book on his desire to obey his God at the ire of his wife.  It actually made me want to go back to the Bible and read Hosea all over again.  I think that is what Christian fiction books should do, give us the desire to get into the word and hear what God has to say.  

Delicious!, Ruth Reichl: Oh my, what a tasty book full of delectable descriptions of gustatory delights!  I would recommend this one for all the foodies out there, especially if you love a little dive into mystery, intrigue, and World War II.  This novel set in present day New York will gratify your senses. 


Through my headphones
Music from 'Annie'- I watched the new 'Annie' this week in theaters, and the music was not disappointing!  They stuck to the original music, but added to it making it their own, and I was pleasantly surprised.  It's definitely worth it to go and pick up the soundtrack or buy it from iTunes.

'Irresistible', Fall Out Boy- This track is a delight to all brass players, with underlying horns blasting over a rock rift.  Perfect! 

Anything Pentatonix.  Acapella just rocks!


Readings in my Bible
I've started the new plan on She Reads Truth for reading the Bible in one year.  Haven't done this in a while, so I'm looking forward to reading some of those obscure and difficult texts that I usually avoid!  I would actually like to read it in 3 months, so I need to pick a time to do that as well.  

Love, 
Ashleigh

1.09.2015

Hibernating Like a Dream...

Happy New Year, and all that.  2015 is here, and with it resolutions, new beginnings, vacation plans, and the snow that by-passed December.  This frigid cold is too much for babies, and even a quick jaunt to the library can seem like forever when the wind is cutting like ice to bone.  So we stay in, we wait for Jake to come back with the car, and we pretend we're keeping to a schedule and doing things.  Why yes, honey, I did the dishes...maybe one.  Maybe two.  But I did them! And of course Adrian napped today, I mean, how could one baby stay awake for 10 hours straight and not need a nap?

I mean, really.  

Jake was transferred to the distribution centre in town, which means his commute is cut in half and it's much safer driving at 5:30am when the roads aren't exactly pristine.   I'm thankful for the option of driving him to work when I need the car for an appointment- not that waking up that early is my idea of a good time. 

We started off the New Year with celebrating my mom-in-law's birthday, and then a couple of days later we took Adrian to the Butterfly Conservatory.

Jake with a large walking stick

Adrian enjoyed watching the butterflies!

Family photo!!!

Watching the waterfall..and wishing he could swim in it

Right now, I'm dreaming of coffee and biscotti dipped in hazelnut spread, and a sleepy baby.  And the book that I'm finishing (which means the beginning to a 14 book series--more on that later-and-what-did-I-get-myself-into?!)

Love, 
Ashleigh


12.31.2014

It's Been A Year...

Motherhood and busy-ness took over, and my blog suffered a little bit [meaning I wrote the least amount of posts this year since I started my blog] but would I have it any other way?  Also, I'm thankful for my ever faithful readers and your support. I've tried to keep this from being a total 'mommy' blog, but since I am a mom now, there hasn't been too much else on my radar.
I'm amazed at where God has taken me this year. It started out with so much uncertainty, when Adrian was diagnosed with Cri du Chat syndrome the first week of January, and I had no idea that the Lord would bring so much peace and reassurance to my heart in such a short time. From joining the Facebook group to having weekly therapy at Kidsability [I can't speak highly enough about this amazing organization and their incredible therapists!], both Jake and I have been so encouraged and blessed. Family and friends have been amazing, if not above and beyond understanding and supportive. Not to forget about our sweet little guy. Adrian is, well, if you've met him I don't have to tell you twice how social he is, how loving and affectionate, how cuddly and wise.  His laid back nature is just like his daddy's and has been SO good for me. He's got spunk and motivation that keeps me on my toes. I'm so proud and incredibly thankful to the Lord for the developmental milestones he's accomplished this year, on his own time and in his own way. I've learned so much about the important of patience [always patience, right, Lord?]
I'm looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings, and to see how the Lord continues to work in our lives.
May you feel blessed and loved as you spend the evening with friends and family, ringing in 2015.
Happy New Year!
Love,
Ashleigh