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!


It's Warm Inside...

The thrift shop near my house is amazing, and they donate all of their profits to a men's shelter.  Their displays are artistic, nothing is disorganized or unattractive to the eye. I try to go in at least once a week, if not twice, and it's a treasure hunt every time.  I'm keeping my eye on this arm chair that's been there for about three months (it's actually hideous- bright orange- but oh-so-comfortable), and the price hasn't gone down.  Is it wrong to ask a non-profit organization to negotiate?

The sunroom in our apartment is the perfect spot for said arm chair, a soft blanket, a small side table, and a space heater--a cozy little oasis to curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book. Until yesterday we were using this room for storage, and it was actually accumulating some mildew.  A friend took Adrian for an hour and a half, giving me time to attack the floor with a vacuum and some bleach (for the mildew), and opening up the space for my dream reading corner. With a pretty area rug and a nice display of flowers, this little niche in our apartment just might become my favourite. 

What part of your home is the perfect oasis for you, and why?



More Than You Know...

This morning I made pancakes for breakfast... Delicious ones with blueberries and chocolate chips. I've been very excited that Adrian can eat what we eat, so I sat him down in his high chair and promptly set a pancake in front of him. He looked at it. He picked it up and inspected it further. He nibbled at it. Then he threw it on the floor, looked  at me and started kicking his feet. I knew he was trying to tell me something, but couldn't interpret the signs. So I picked up the pancake, offered him his smoothie from last night, cut up a clementine, did a song and dance {that last part may only be slightly true} but he still just looked at me expectantly. All of a sudden I thought, He probably wants his oatmeal! This boy starts every day with oatmeal, getting exciting when I sign and say the word for "cereal", and practically whimpers in anticipation when he sees me getting it ready.  So this morning, how could I have thought that pancakes would trump good ol' cereal?! He patiently waited for me to prepare it stove top, and sure enough, as soon as I brought it over he started squealing and squawking.  Not even the promise of fresh  blueberry chocolate chip pancakes could sway him, so excited was he for his beloved oatmeal. 

He's a creature of habit, that's for sure! 

Blowing bubbles after a messy meal 


Christmas Bucket List...

It's December. 

You've probably realized that there are only 25 days [technically only 21 now] until Christmas, and you're trying to accomplish your Christmas month bucket list.

Here's mine:

  • Decorate the house [if we manage to even plug in our two foot artificial tree complete with lights, I'll be happy]
  • Bake lots of cookies
  • Go sledding [I'm so looking forward to doing this with Adrian.  He's a bit of an adrenaline junkie-just like his Mama!]
  • Find a family Advent book [I've heard good things about Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift]
  • Pick out thoughtful and meaningful gifts [which means not shopping on Christmas Eve!]
  • Make homemade eggnog [at least once!]
  • Spend meaningful time with family and friends
  • Go to some Christmas parties
  • Not lose sight of Jesus Christ, who is the reason we celebrate Christmas at all. His birth signified a time of hope for the whole world.  The Saviour Came! He came down, became a man, and died for all of our sins and was raised to life again so that we could live!!! What a beautiful reminder at Christmas. 


What I'm Into: November Edition

In the Kitchen
It's been stir fry's for dinner, and cinnamon everything.  Joy of Cooking Overnight Rolls, Joy the Baker's Cinnamon Popovers, and good old cinnamon coffee cake. I even tried making microwave cinnamon buns, but the real, yeasty ones were definitely the best. I bought a huge ten-pound bag of white flour from Costco, in the hopes that I can get some Christmas baking done this year.  I may be in over my head...

On my Night table 
Currently Reading: 
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (Audiobook[AB]): I watched the movie a while ago, and decided to "read" the book to gain a better perspective.  Not sure how I feel about it yet.

Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda, Henry & Richard Blackaby: So far, this book is great, and I'm getting some good insight into what godly leadership looks like.  It's tedious, but has a lot of great information.

The True Story of the Whole World: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Drama, Michael W. Goheen, Craig G. Bartholomew: We're studying this one in our weekly Bible study, and it reminds a lot of one of the classes I took in college.  Progress of Redemption took us through the Bible as a whole, with the focus being on Christ as the center, everything before Him leading up and pointing to His time on earth, death and resurrection, and everything after telling the story of His hope.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle (AB): I have heard of this book for many years, but now that I've finally listened to it, I want to buy it for our own home collection.  In my opinion, it's on par with the Narnia books in terms of the fight between good and evil, and good always winning.  There were some Biblical references, and many, many biblical analogies.  It's definitely a children's story, but has merit for adult readers as well.

Amity and Sorrow, Peggy Riley: I wouldn't recommend this book unless you feel like exploring the extreme oddity that is polygamous and cultish communities.  It tells the story of a woman and her two daughters who run away from their community and try to live in the 'real' world, juxtaposing their 'rules' and 'values' with a society where, to them, anything goes.  This book was truly disturbing, and exposed issues you would expect to find in a typical polygamous community, things such as brainwashing, emotional abuse, and incest.

Juliet's Nurse, Lois Leveen: I would highly recommend this book if you're a Shakespeare fan.  A new take on Romeo and Juliet, as seen from the nurse's perspective, is moving and tragic, but very enjoyable and detailed.

Through my headphones
Iesu dulcis memoria, Tenth Avenue North ft. Audrey Assad

The Piano Guys Christmas

Audiobooks - I love how I feel like I'm still getting books read, knowing that I can do it when I'm walking, doing housework, or nursing Adrian.  How convenient!

Sermons and The Current (CBC Radio Show- I love this one because I keep informed but I don't have to browse a newspaper)

Readings in my Bible
I downloaded the She Reads Truth app, which is a great devotional app for both iPhone and Android users.  Geared towards women, the app focuses on one particular theme or book of the Bible for a couple of weeks.  I just finished the study on 'Hospitality', and it was some great insight for me.  I realized that I don't let the Lord lead me to be hospitable enough, and I don't allow people to see me in my mess [without guilt, at least].  



When the Craving Hits...

The sweet tooth is unpredictable, or at least mine is.  Some days I can go without anything sweet, feeling so proud of my resistance to temptation. The next day, though...oh! how it hits me hard.  Wait, perhaps it's hormonal ups and downs?! 

Whatever the reason, I have recently discovered a little something that helps me during that sweet craving slump, specifically during the early afternoon after lunch when I'm a little tired, and also in the evening when I feel like ending my evening with tasty confections.

So here it is: Coffee Cacao hot drink

Mix 1 tsp instant coffee with 1 tsp cacao powder and cover with boiling water in a regular size mug. 

I usually drink this without any sugar (I sometimes add a drop of stevia), but it hits the spot.  If you prefer to add sugar, try a couple drops of stevia, or a little maple syrup.

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**Important Notes
  • Don't confuse cacao powder with cocoa powder.  Cacao powder is the cacao bean in its purest form.  Cold pressed and made into a powder, it contains many health benefits, including antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium.  You can get this at natural food stores or any grocery store that has a natural food section. 
  • Instant Coffee. I know. I went there.  People who know me know I drink my coffee black, so I can tell when coffee tastes bad (*cough cough Maxwell House cough cough*).  I picked up Giant Tiger brand instant coffee for a recipe, and was curious enough to try drinking it, too.  People, it's good! Don't believe me, try it yourself.  In a pinch, when you're desperate for some instant coffee, Giant Tiger delivers.
  • I have tried to double this recipe to make a giant mug, but for some reason it doesn't taste as good.  So I usually make another cup if I feel like more (again, the beauty of instant!) If you can figure out how to double the recipe to make it doubly delicious, please leave a comment.
I have discovered the joys of stevia recently, since it's a way to add natural sugar taste without the calories OR the added grams.  It is actually derived from a plant, and can be found in any grocery store/health food store in either liquid or powder (like sugar) form.  Be careful to check the label when buying stevia in packets.  I made the mistake of buying a brand that added dextrose!  
I would be interested to hear if anyone tries this delicious drink, and what you think/how you made it according to your taste.



It'll Do You Good...

Our poor cat has gone through quite a bit of stress in the past few months.  She moved to a new location with her previous owners, then transferred to our place within a month of that and has had to adjust to new owners and lifestyle.  So I would not fault her for a little bit of hissing and standoffish-ness {which she is completely over now}.  But the spraying on our carpet? The urination on our bed? So not cool.  I have been doing a bit of research and the latest bit is that, after cleaning up and completely eliminating the smell of her urine in various places in your house, you have to make her litter box irresistible.  You have to clean out the poop daily, change over the litter weekly, and make sure it's in a private location so she feels comfortable.  It's all mind games {including putting aluminum foil over top of freshly washed areas that she previously sprayed on-apparently cats don't like the sound or feel, so they avoid it!}  
I'm curious to see how it works {including that over-priced organic "Cat Uriinate No-More!" spray we bought from the pet store}.  In the meantime, she is still proving to be useful and boastfully brought out a dead mouse she had caught the other day.  She is also quite affectionate at certain times of the day, and plops herself down into our laps no matter how inconvenient the timing. 

I guess we can keep you, Pepper...



A Reading Biography...

Reflections on questions from The Reading Tutor's Handbook

How did I learn to read and write?
-My mother always told me that I taught myself how to read, but I can't even remember learning how to write.  It seems like I've always done it.  I vaguely remember drawing out countless letters as I practiced, but I'm pretty sure my mom worked with me at home even before I went to pre-school.

When did I learn to read and write?
-Some time between the ages of 3 and 4 years old

Who was most helpful in teaching me to read and write?
-My mom and I'm sure lots of teachers at school helped as well

What are my first memories of stories and books?
-These have captivated my attention for as long as I can remember.  My mom used to buy books for my sister and I, she even ordered them over the phone.  We used to die of anticipation before they were delivered to the house.  I don't remember much before "Mandie" books and "The Christian Heritage" series.  I remember loving my "Precious Moments" Bible, and I know that my parents read us books before bedtime.  

Was learning to read and write easy or difficult for me?
-As far as I know, it came easy to me.

How have reading and writing helped me over the years?
-My parents homeschooled my siblings and I over the span of five years.  My mom used to set aside time after breakfast for us to write a paragraph about something.  I can't remember if she picked the topic or if she left it up to us, but the practice of writing a little bit every day was strongly encouraged.  I was at least 7 or 8 years old, and my sister even younger than that. When I was eleven years old, my sister Melissa got a "diary" for her birthday. I loved the idea of having a place to write my secrets, something I could keep under lock and key, so I got a 'diary', too.  These earliest writings were extremely childish, angry, and detailed (down to what we ate for lunch).  I still keep a journal now, but my entries are much more focused on my devotional times with God and for personal/spiritual change in my life rather than teenage angst and petty drama.  I have kept a blog since 2006, and my blogging persona versus my journal writing persona are different, which I find rather interesting.  Writing has helped me to organize my thoughts, to explore my creativity (I wrote poems as a child and well into my early twenties), and it's challenged me to become a better person.

Reading, though, is one of those passions that has never seemed to go away, even though some days (especially lately) it looks more like learning how to make butternut squash soup from a pinterest article.  I have always enjoyed reading, the more fiction the better, and I have learned new words and explored a thousand worlds.  Reading the Bible has changed me as a person, to be more like Christ, and reading other books has taken me into the minds of countless authors, exposed me to thoughts, ideas, and stories I never could have dreamed.  Some books I wish I could forget, and some I wish I had time to read a thousand times over.  I can't imagine a world without reading, and I'm so thankful that my parents encouraged this in myself and my siblings.  

Why do I want to help someone learn to read and write?
- I want other people, especially children, to have the same exploration that I did as a child, to feel the freedom of a thousand words at their fingertips, to choose from whichever book they want at the library, to have a spate of words to pluck from their minds as they describe their day, to express themselves with ease.  Reading and writing give me opportunities to share my thoughts and opinions, and now in this technological age to share with countless readers.  I want to nurture this in someone.

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On My Mind Tonight...

In no particular order:

1. Searching for ways to get my cat to stop peeing everywhere (Including my bed)
2. Grieving with those who have lost children this week, both born and unborn.  May God bring them comfort in their time of pain and grief. 
3. Wondering how to be a mother who both challenges and nurtures her child, without stressing
4. Waiting for replies to my Kijiji ad to teach ESL
5. Thankful I finally got to see my brother play a high school football game, especially since it was the last game of the season (and they WON! Go Park Trojans!)
6. Happy to be home tonight, even if my house does smell like cat urine



A Thanksgiving to Remember...

A year ago today we got to bring Adrian home from the hospital two weeks after he was born. Then we immediately drove two hours north to a Thanksgiving gathering, surprising everyone with our new little addition. As we were driving there yesterday, I couldn't help but reminisce on the feelings and emotions that I felt last year... It was the first time that Jake and I were truly alone with our baby, no nurses hovering , no feeding tubes, no machines monitoring his breathing. Just us parents, whom God entrusted to look after such a tiny, fragile miracle. What a year of learning, of growth, seeing Adrian go from hour and a half long nursing sessions to less than ten minutes; from sitting with him in the back seat to make sure his head wouldn't flop forward to giving him Mum-mum's to eat while I'm driving. All this and more fills my heart with so much gratitude.



He Turns One...

October is a busy and exciting month for us, with Thanksgiving, my birthday, and our anniversary.

Adrian and I celebrating his cousins 3rd birthday, a couple of weeks before his own
To kick things off, we begin with a celebration of our little guy's birth. This day last year I became a mother, and boy, has it been a crazy roller coaster of a year adjusting to this new role!  We're still working out the kinks of parenthood, and I can see that there will be many more learning curves ahead.  But oh! ...

When I hear Adrian giggle and chortle as his daddy tickles him mercilessly...
When I see him splash and roll from front to back over and over in the bath tub, unable to contain his glee...
When I see his face light up when he sees me after I've been out doing some errands...
When I feed him his favourite food and see him get excited for more...
When my sighs cut through the night as I rise yet again to comfort him in the middle of the night...
When I open the front door and his legs start kicking excitedly because he loves being outdoors...
When I'm driving and he stays awake because he has a sense of adventure like that...
When I'm nursing him and he reaches up to pat my face or play with my hair...
When we're walking along and he looks up at me and stares into my eyes...
When he pulls my hair at the back of my neck and yes-it-hurts-like-heck but I know he draws comfort from it...
When I see him suck in his lower lip and I know that means he's feeling curious...

I'm reminded of all the reasons I love him, and why I wouldn't trade motherhood for anything in the world!

Mama and Daddy love you, Adrian.  Happy First Birthday!

African Lion Safari August 2014


Let Autumn Commence...

Today was Adrian's first time going to a library program, and we went with our friends Missy and Levi. The librarian led the kids from birth  to two years old in song, play, and stories all about Fall on the Farm. There were leaves to play with, songs to dance to, and stories to hear all about animals on the farm. The older kids even got to make a little craft. Adrian had fun watching the other kids and playing with some of the props that were handed out.
What a fun way to start the season!


Furry Little Thing...

So, we got a cat. Pepper is about 2 or 3 years old, and is a beautiful grey colour.  She belonged to some good friends of ours who for various reasons were willing to part ways with her.  

We're happy to welcome her into our home since we have a bit of a mice problem, and she was rumoured to be very good at catching mice.  She's proving that today, since we've only had her for five days and she's already playing with her prey in our sunroom.  It's fascinating to watch a cat play with a mouse, just as it's traumatic to watch the poor mouse shake and quiver in fear, knowing that its escape attempts are in vain.

Some of you may know that I have cat allergies, but I'm pleased to say that they haven't been too bad since she's come.  I try to wash my hands soon after petting her, since touching my face causes me to itch and my nose to run.  Frequent cleaning and quick passes with the vacuum will also decrease the lingering cat dander.  

Jake always said we were 'cat people'.  He definitely is, so he is quite overjoyed to have a cat.  Neither of us grew up with cats, since both of our families prefer dogs, and larger dogs at that.  Our lifestyle right now is perfect for a cat, since they need minimal supervision and maximum independence. 

Pepper has been warming up to us, greeting us in the morning and letting us scratch her head for longer periods.  It will only be a matter of time that she will let us pick her up...maybe.



Loving Him for Him...

I love how much Jake and I learn about each other even after almost four years of marriage, and how often I still have to fight gender role stereotypes.  We have recently had an influx of mice poop in the cupboard under the sink, so yesterday found me buying a few traps at the store.  I've never placed bait on a trap, never set one, and most certainly have never disposed of a freshly dead mouse caught in one.  I [wrongly] assumed Jake had done all of these things [since he is a man], and as I was readying to place a trap in the cupboard last night, I projected my assumptions on to him.  Needless to say, miscommunication ensued and frustrations mounted until finally one of us conceded that we'd gone about things the wrong way. 

Now with the air cleared, I can see that this isn't just a one-time happenstance.  I have often assumed things about what my husband can or cannot do, will or won't do, does and does not think based upon my pre-conceived notions of what husbands or men in general do.  I don't take into account that he is his own person.  I don't take into account that he is not my father, brother, grandfather, etc. I place him into the stereotypical male 'mold' and wonder why he doesn't just 'fit'.  

I love my husband the way he is, and I love discovering new things about him. In the future I want to do better at seeing, understanding, assuming, and accepting him through a Jake lens rather than lumping him in with the general male populace.



Radical Thinking...

"Bless those who persecute you - bless and do not curse"

This verse from Romans 12 lay heavy on my heart last night as I was remembering what the Christians in Iraq are faced with daily. They don't have the luxury of meditating on these words. They are living them out, perhaps struggling with the sheer audacity of the God who demands such radical living. No human being who has ever lived would be able to bless their persecutors, unless the Holy Spirit was dwelling within them,  giving the strength to accomplish something so against our natural bent.

May I be so strengthened should a time come for me to stand up against an evil that threatens my physical life and the lives of those I love, because of the name of Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

I am keeping these dear brothers and sisters in Christ in my prayers.



Game Face...

Here I am attempting to meal plan once more.  It's been a lot of trial and error since Adrian was born, and now that I'm buying organic veggies from Grand River Organics every week--and watching bunches of basil and swiss chard rot in my refrigerator-- I would really like to get a handle on the situation.  My mind just hasn't been in the game.  I have a panic attack when I think of having people over for dinner.

"Um, Jake! They're coming over in four hours! What should I make?!"

Yeah.  It's that bad.  **Sidenote: My go-to meal for company has been meatball subs, thanks to Jake's wonderful and reassuring suggestion.  I haven't heard a complaint yet!

So please forgive the repetition--we can move past that, yes?--and let's get started.  

To be continued...

Love, Ashleigh


Diaper Changing Shenanigans...

Lately it has become the most difficult thing to change Adrian's diaper.  It's not that he's overly squirmy, he just hates getting his diaper changed, hates anything to do with taking off/putting on clothing, the whole deal.  He cries and squeals in anguish, as if I'm putting him through a most torturous ordeal.  Giving him a toy usually helps distract him, but his legs know what I'm trying to do, so he still stiffens them in the most unhelpful ways.

An analogy came to mind this morning as I was fighting with his little arms to get them through the sleeves.  I usually tell him to 'push push push' as his hands make their way through, and then kiss his little fingers in reward afterwards.  We were performing this ritual this morning, he crying, me cajoling, and then I thought about how perfectly this reflects our lives as Christians.  

So often we fight with God because we feel stuck, we can't see the end of the 'sleeve', if you will, and it's hard.  He's there constantly, helping us push through, telling us to persevere.  Just read this verse from Romans 8:

23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Love, Ashleigh


Beauty is All Around...

Yesterday as we were walking, I noticed some Queen Anne's lace lining the sidewalk.  When I was a child, this particular wildflower was one of my favourites, particularly for the smell.  I picked a small one that didn't have a bug in the middle, and held it up to my nose.  Ah. That smell brings me back.  I held it under Adrian's nose, and it must have tickled his nostrils, for he laughed, then tried to grab it.  He's usually into eating everything so at first I held it while he looked at it, but then withdrew my hand while he inspected it further.  

Imagine seeing a flower for the first time.  Beauty is all around us.  Let's not miss out on the small moments.

Love, Ashleigh


Baby Food Delight...

I've fed all the standard things to Adrian, and he is pretty much up for whatever I give him.  He really enjoys sweet potato, potatoes, carrots, green beans, beets, and avocados.  Yesterday I thought of something a little less boring, using ingredients that I had on hand.  I call it Tropical Mash

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 chunk of [frozen] mango
  • 1 spoonful brown/green lentils
Mash up avocado and mango, stir in the lentils, and serve to baby.  

This would actually be a lovely spread for a sandwich, or on crackers, for adults as well.  I'm thinking add a little goat cheese, or feta, and you'd be set.  Here's another delicious combination that works for babies and adults:

Mexican Mash
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 spoonful of kidney/black beans
Mash the avocado and the beans together.  Serve to baby, or spread on a cracker and top with a tomato slice and salt and pepper.

Bon appetit!



What I'm Into: July Edition...

In the Kitchen
Oh, friends, I wish I could tell you all the amazing things that I've been whipping up lately.  My days get so busy that by 5pm I'm done for the day. I don't know what we've been eating, but it's not as balanced as I'd like.  I did, however, make stir-fried bok choy as a side with fish and potatoes.  I've never cooked with bok choy before, and both Jake and I enjoyed it immensely. You can find the recipe here:

Sautéed Bok Choy

On my Night table 
Currently Reading: 
Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis: This is one of the four books that Jake challenged me to read this year.  I have heard many good things about it, so I'm looking forward to being challenged.

Katherine Parr: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Reformation Queen, Brandon G. Withrow: Another one that Jake challenged me to read this year. The first half is a bit of history about Katherine Parr, which was a little dry for my taste.  The second half are prayers that she wrote, and some of them are amazingly relate-able.  

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin: One of those books you see on display at the library which tickles your fancy.  I was curious to see what I would learn from this book, since I've heard much about this famous midwife from the U.S.

No fiction, you gasp! Yes, I need to remedy that as soon as possible!

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith: A crime novel written by J.K. Rowling written under her pseudonym.  The murder mystery is a great story, and kept me on my toes.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy her writing.  She's fantastic, and she really knows how to make the characters come alive.  That being said, one of her characters is quite rough around the edges and swears quite a bit.  

Amandine, Marlena de Blasi: Oh my goodness, if you like plots set in World War II and enjoy having a good cry, read this one.  For all the mothers, get ready, it will tug at your heart strings [at least it did for me!].  Set in France, this heart-wrenching story is about, yup, you guessed it, 'Amandine', a little girl who understands the unfairness of life through one tragic scenario after the other.  She is incredibly strong for all she has been dealt, and you will cry and cheer her on as you journey with her to find the one thing her heart desires the most.

Through my headphones
Latley it's been A LOT of Baby Mozart.  It's surprisingly relaxing, and Adrian thinks it's hilarious when we dance to it.  

Readings in my Bible
I've been reading 2 Samuel to Adrian, and have been reading and meditating through Romans, chapter by chapter.  Romans 6 has always been one of those places I go when I need to be reminded that, as Christians, we are free from sin, Christ reigns victorious, and there is no need to wallow in guilt! 




Are you on maternity leave?

I can't count the number of times I have been asked that question.  I get it, people are curious, they want to know what my plans are for the future.  I wish I had a typical response for them, something like, "Why yes, the day after he turns 1 I'll be returning to my job as {insert occupation here}".  But aren't there any other mothers in my camp?  Are there any moms who didn't really have a full time job before the baby, or who have no job to go back to, moms with the ability and maybe even a little desire to work again after the year is up (to help hubby with income) but can't imagine not spending every day with a face like this? 

So I got my TESOL certification, which means that there are no limits to where I could teach, which also means I could teach from home. OR I could meet students in a coffee shop.  It doesn't matter.  

And yet.

I don't know what I want to do, and it's hard to think about that since a lot of my day is still taken up looking after and spending time with Adrian.  So if you want a tried and true honest-to-goodness answer, here is what you could ask:

What do you and Adrian enjoying doing together?

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Having a laugh
We listen/dance to music
We eat food
We go for walks
We [sometimes] nap
We go for rides on the bus
We read books at the library
We spend time with other friends
We plan ways to surprise 'daddy'
We read books
We exercise
We play in the bathtub
We read the Bible and pray 
We laugh
We tickle each other (mostly Mommy tickling
and baby grabbing/biting/kicking)
We play with toys
We sing and talk
We play games 
We wait for 'daddy' to come home and make us laugh

We love being together!

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On a walk


Fresh Veggies...

In a previous post I told you about Grand River Organics and the order of veggies I had placed.  I opted out of the $39 box and ordered a bag of organic produce for $27.  And this is what I received:

Included in my bag were the following:
-2 bok choy
-1 head of kale
-4 beefsteak tomatoes
-1 bunch of basil
-1 cucumber
-1 bunch of garlic scapes
-1 zucchini
-2 heads of lettuce

So far I'm very impressed with the freshness and quality of the vegetables, and it was very exciting to order them online!

Love, Ashleigh


Adrian's Theme Book...

Just a little board book we found at the library.  I will let the words speak for themselves :)

By Michael Dahl


Grown Locally...

On the weekend I discovered Grand River Organics, a company that is committed to working with organic farmers to provide consumers with the best produce they can.  For a small fee you can choose a bag or a box, and your produce will be delivered to a convenient location near you for pick-up.  It's like Christmas: you don't know what veggies/fruits you're going to get!

 I'm trying it out for the first time today, and I sincerely hope that my bag of produce will be worth $27.  Anyways, have a look around the website and I will be back with an update soon!


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Reflections on a Life...

Grace Lillian Aszbach

Journal Entry from July 4

I should be sleeping.  It's 5:45am.  Adrian went back to sleep, so why can't I? My mind is abuzz with thoughts.  Nana A. passed away two days ago.  When Mom told me, I was stunned and saddened, but it wasn't until I saw her obituary that I could cry.  It's been so long since I've seen them, but that doesn't mean I'm feeling any less happy about losing someone who was very involved in my formative years.  She and Papa invested so much time in Melissa and I, looking after us, teaching us, disciplining us [when necessary].  They loved us as their very own grandchildren.  So what happened? Why did we lose touch? Now I'll be seeing Papa for the first time in years at our pseudo-nana's funeral.  That doesn't seem right.  She was such a gracious woman.  I remember how she had so much tenderness for her husband, she was such a model of godly wife-dom.  Her eyes crinkled when she smiled.  The memories are so disjointed, I'm remembering her better in certain contexts over others.  I'm so happy she is with Jesus now.  No more suffering, no more regrets, pain or grief, no more tears.  Thank you, Father, for what a blessing this lady was in my life.  I'm trying to recall a specific Bible verse that she held dear, and all that is coming to mind is Psalm 1:2, 3.  I'm not sure if that can be related to her memory or not, but there is one specific part that I'm thinking of: 

But his[her] delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law [s]he meditates day and night. [S]He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever [s]he does shall prosper.  
She truly delighted in God's Word, and her fruit was very evident.  We can let bygones be bygones.  Papa A. needs us now.  He lost his lifelong best friend and love.  Spirit, please give him comfort now and especially in the next little while when the days are long and the nights become lonely.  He needs Your peace and comfort.

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A Tale of Many Apartments..

It was supposed to be easy. Pick a date two months in advance, look for an apartment, sign for said apartment, move in.

It would seem that God had other plans.  We looked on Kijiji.  We looked on Padmapper. We talked to friends. We need a two bedroom apartment.  We looked on Gotta Rent.  We even looked in the newspaper.


We went to see this disastered dump.  We went to see that tiny, cramped basement dwelling.  We didn't want to be too picky, and we wanted to leave some time to pray about our decision, think things through. We looked at about 10 places, some were alright, most weren't.  We wanted to apply to a couple of locations, but "sorry, someone paid the deposit last night". 


We drove 30 minutes out of our comfort zone.  We liked that place.  Oh yes, storage under the stairs, three unit building, linen closet, HUGE bathroom.  Clean neighbourhood.  I cried, it's so beautiful!  Apply. Wait...

Not approved, a single person is better for us,--"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, LORD!"


We found another place, perfect location for us, close to church, close to Jake's work, bonus third bedroom, backyard, deck, washer/dryer, sauna light in bathroom, little gas fireplace, in our price range.  {Lord, this is it! We know this is 'our' place.  Thank YOU for providing at such short notice!} Apply. Wait. Dream about where the table will go. Pack in earnest.  Dream about where the desk willgo. Pick up the phone.

Not approved, Someone was approved the morning you saw it, mix-up in the office,--"WE ARE SO PISSED OFF, LORD!" {Tears, disappointment, rage, frustration, hopelessness}


Listless packing ensued as we prepared to live with Jake's parents until we could find something.  We had booked three more apartment viewings that day, knowing that this was very last minute and there wasn't much more we could do before the moving date.

apartment 1- 10 AM
We arrived to find two guys building some additions on to the front porch, to make it more aesthetically pleasing.  They took us around to the back deck, up the stairs to the second storey, and we walked in to a sunroom, through a tiny kitchen that contained a fridge and full-sized stove, a tiny room with a closet, bathroom with a claw foot tub, bigger bedroom with no closet, and a living room.  Interesting.  Lots of light, nice wall colour, no laundry hook-ups, not much storage, one year lease.  Apply. {We don't have much options at this point.  It's liveable, not a dump, the landlords are nice, hard-working.}

apartment 2- 4 PM
We arrived to find a complex made up of about six apartment building, and a rather harried-looking superintendent, who took us on a tour of two apartments, same price, different layouts.  Spacious bedrooms, closets, supply closets, large enough kitchen, pantry, balcony, LOTS OF LIGHT, in our price range. {Could this be the one? It's not an ideal location, but we get our first month's rent free, sweet promo!} 'Oh, you can apply today, but the girl might not be in the office tomorrow, so it may not get processed until Monday' {What choice do we have? We can pray that it will get processed sooner!} Appl--  

J-Hey, your phone is ringing.
A- [looks at number] I think it's Mark, from apartment 1! {nerves tingling} Hello?
M-Hi, the apartment is yours if you want it!
A- Wow, great! Thanks so much! When should we come over?
M- Could you come sign the lease tonight? 
A- {third apartment viewing is at 6:30} Is seven pm too late?

apartment 3- 6:30 PM
We arrived to find a multi-unit building and a distracted super.  Not to mention the unkempt tenant and 'You can come in, but you can't look at the bedrooms.  Well, alright, just peek inside.' The super took us to the laundry room in the basement.  'It's month-by-month. I just look at ya and I say whether or not you can move here. You guys can have the apartment if you want it.  I can't be certain the tenant will be moved out at noon on Saturday. He's given me a lot of trouble.'

We weighed the pros and cons.  We were frustrated. {Two months, Lord, and we're two days out and you give us TWO to choose from?!!} We called Mark to tell him we were going to be a bit late.  Thinking, praying furiously, pacing.

J: Which apartment would you feel safer in?
A: Apartment 1.  
J: Me too.  That's more important to me than month-by-month OR cheaper rent.

We phoned the super to tell him what we decided, and drove over to Apartment 1, deposit in hand, ready to sign the one year lease. {We've never signed a lease before!! We're terrified!} We got the keys, took one more look around, and still felt unsettled.  After months of looking, this wasn't how we anticipated the search to end.  

However, the move went well, thanks to some very hard-working friends and family.  I even found a little apartment sized portable washing machine on Kijiji, which will save us countless trips to the laundromat.

We've been living in our new digs for about a week and a half now, and both Jake and I can say we feel happy and content here.  The apartment is cozy, even reminding us of 'the cottage' at times. And guess what? We got a call on Sunday from one of the places that originally had declined us asking if we were still interested, The approved applicant changed his mind.  I was able to say we are all settled into our new place, silently thanking the Lord for his provision even after the fact, knowing he is abundantly providing for our every need.



It's That Time Again...

There are more than a few updates to share with you today, so I'll just highlight them and get into today's edition of What I'm Into.

  • I am now a certified ESL teacher! I completed my practicum in April, and received my certificate shortly thereafter.  
  • Jake is back to work after taking a 10-week parental leave of absence.  The house feels empty without him home today.
  • We went on a Rivers' family trip to Florida, which included day trips to Gatorland and Disney World.  Adrian even got to go on a couple of rides at Disney!
  • We've moved :) We're now closer to our church, and Jake's work.  If you'd like the address, please mention so in the comment section!
  • I joined a local concert band about 6 weeks ago, and for the first time in 9 years I'm playing the French horn again.  The weekly practices are a nice treat for me.
And now....

In the Kitchen
Everything has been in upheaval since the move, but I made a couple of soups last week: Split pea, and a Brazilian caldo-inspired corn and spinach chowder.

Also, this one minute microwave brownie in a cup: 

chocolate cake for one-made it this afternoon and loved it! I substituted the white flour for 2 TBSP WW pastry flour and 1TBSP WW flour

Now tell me you don't want to make that for yourself...

On my Night table 
Currently Reading: As always, I've got a few on the go.
Pomegranate Soup, Marsha Mehran: A story about three Iranian sisters who open up a Persian restaurant in Ireland

As Sure as the Dawn, Francine Rivers: The third book in the Mark of the Lion series, this is a favourite of mine, and I'm re-reading it for possibly the fifth or sixth time, maybe more.  It's about a gladiator who is returning to his home country of Germania after earning his freedom from 10 years of fighting in the arena.   It's set in the Roman empire shortly after the death of Christ.  I would recommend reading the first two books of the series first, to get his back story.

Hybrasil, Margaret Elphisone: I'm not too far into this one yet, but the journal entry-like story tells of a travel-book writer who explores a near-mythical country of Hybrasil, and her adventures therein.

East of Eden, John Steinbeck: I don't really know what made me read this.  I guess I had heard that it was a classic and I wanted to try it out. Well, it was a heavy read, and explored the depths of humanity.  I was reminded just how depraved we are while exploring the complexities of the characters.  The story follows a man who has two sons, modeling something similar to the story of Cain and Abel from the Bible.

The Beach Trees, Karen White: This drama takes place in Louisiana, and includes a little bit of historical mystery and some romance.  If you like delving into secrets of the past, hurricanes, and lots of good character development, then this is a story for you.

The Divergent trilogy, Veronica Roth: A little like The Hunger Games, but, in my opinion, more enjoyable (OK, I'll be honest, it had more romance! C'mon, give a girl a break.) This post-apocalyptic thriller will have you on the edge of your seat and rooting for characters as they come of age in a world of uncertainty and chaos.

Through my headphones
Latch-Disclosure (ft Sam Smith)
Pompeii- Bastille

Readings in my Bible
I've been reading 1 Samuel to Adrian, and have been studying 1 Thessalonians on my own (and with a ladies Bible study group at church)

Other than unpacking and dreaming of sleep, this is me right now. Leave some comments below!