Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year of Unstoppable Me

I am a HUGE goal person, so, of course, New Years is an excellent opportunity for me to write resolutions. On Sunday, I was teaching my Young Women how to set S.M.A.R.T goals. That is: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals. It got me thinking about my goals and posting them in public forum. A goal is only a wish if it isn't written down and I thought I might take it a step further by sharing my goals with everyone (I could use all the motivation possible, even if it is harassment by my friends).

-run a marathon 9/19
-climb a 5.11a 10/1
-lead a 5.10a 10/1
-do a pull up 10/1
-weigh my ideal weight +/- 5 lbs (depending on fat loss & muscle gain) 2/1
-maintain weight throughout year

-learn 3 new Spanish words a week
-read 25 books this year
-learn 4 piano songs
-learn 4 guitar songs

-Never criticize my appearance
-Say "I love you" every day to Parker and Matt (This is an easy one)

-Read the Book of Mormon 6/1
-Pray 2x a day
-Read scriptures daily (no exceptions)
-Go to the temple once a month

Maybe I'm being a bit ambitions, but I'd rather reach for the stars and land in the trees than reach for the trees and land in the mud.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best. Thing. Ever.

Parker started laughing a couple of weeks ago. Awesome! It's quite the challenge to get a little giggle out of him. These videos show him laughing, but thankfully they do not show what we are doing. Embarrassing! After a full-blown attempt at making him laugh, I get really tired. So far my dad can get him to laugh the most. I don't know why. The beard? Maybe.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Real Beauty

Emotional abuse shouldn't be tolerated. Everybody knows this. But how often do we say abusive things to ourselves? Hopefully all of you are better at this than me, but I tend to say negative things about myself to myself or my husband. Among other things, I will criticize the way I look. Even if you don't say those type of things out loud, I'm sure that many of you have thought of them as you look in the mirror. Why do we do this? I put a lot of blame on the media. The way they portray women is not realistic. According to many movies or TV shows, a woman is only of value if she is "attractive." Their definition of attractiveness is, well, too specific and shallow. A women can only look a certain way and be a certain size. She must have beautiful skin, silky hair, the right size of breasts and butt. And if she doesn't, she isn't important.

I've also noticed quite the double standard when it comes to appearance in movies and TV. Why is it that there are successful male actors who are old or unattractive yet it is difficult to find their female counterparts. I've noticed that female news broadcasters are beautiful and thin, but that is not always the case with men. Just another way the media defines value in womanhood.

In reality, beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and variety. We can look very differently and still all be beautiful. That is what God intended when He created us with such variety. Our worth is not defined by the way we measure up to movie stars.

I have decided not to say anything negative about the way I look anymore. I'm doing this for many reasons:
1) Harassing myself is a form of emotional abuse and is not healthy
2) By giving my appearance so much attention, I'm undermining the important things in life (appearance is not important when it comes to things like my eternal salvation)
3) I'm being a bad example to others around me like my little sister
4) Just because I don't look like them, I am still beautiful the way God created me
5) I would never wish others to think poorly of themselves, so why would I do it to myself

This is a small film made by Dove that represents the media's obsession with women as objects. It makes me sad to see that beautiful little girl and the horrible things she will think about herself if she doesn't grow up to look like the girls on TV. We were all that little girl and I hope we have the strength and wisdom to know what real beauty is.

If you were like me and criticize your appearance, I hope you will commit to end that emotional abuse to yourself.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Parker is Two Months

On Tuesday Parker and I went to his two month doctor appointment. Some words the doctor used to describe Parker were: strong, amazing, alert, impressive. I know I'm bragging, but that's what moms do, right? He now weighs 14 lbs. 6 oz which is in the 95th percentile.

This video shows Parker when he was in the hospital. He was only 8 lbs. 3 oz. back then. Pretty average. Now he is big and chubby! I'm kinda embarrassed. As you can see in the first clip, I look horrible. My face was all swollen from pushing so hard. A couple days later, you can see that some of the swelling went down, but I can't walk well yet. Walking normal took a couple of weeks.

Although he is being stubborn for the camera, Parker really does smile a lot. He just barely started cooing a lot as you can see in the last clip. He'll just talk and talk to himself and to me. I love it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Family Portraits

Over Thanksgiving weekend I had the opportunity to take some pictures for both my family and the Rawlings family. I learned a lot from this experience that I believe will make me a better photographer. Please check out the pictures on my other blog: photography-by-ashley.blogspot.com .

The Rawlings at Garden Park Ward

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm thankful for. . .

my family.
I am so blessed to have a husband who is loving, ambitious, supportive, and understanding. He is also a great father. Matt will do whatever possible to make me happy and always puts me first in his life. He is super busy with work, school, starting a business, and now his new church calling, but he always makes time for his family.

I am so blessed to have a healthy and happy baby boy. I never knew how wonderful motherhood would be until I actually became a mother and now I realize that it is the most rewarding role I can play in this life. I love Parker and his big smiles.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I want my body back!

I remember the month before I gave birth. I was so anxious...mostly to hold my baby but partly (a big part) to get my body back. I didn't realize how lengthy the process would be for my body to return to normal, let alone the effort it would take. I don't know what I was imagining...that my abs would just snap back into shape and my skin would magically tighten? Well, that didn't happen. Not only that, but I am soooo weak. I guess that is what happens after 9 months of no strenuous exercise. Granted, I should have worked out more while I was pregnant. All I really did was go walking (a lot of walking) and climb the stairs in my home (which for a pregnant woman IS a real workout). I'll have to remember this and lift some light weights more often in my next pregnancy (I'm not making any announcements, if that's what you're thinking).

As a side note, right after I had Parker, Matt got a look at my stomach and started to laugh. Yeah, real sensitive of him. I kinda thought it was funny looking too: all flabby and loose. Six weeks later it isn't so funny. Now I just want it gone. It has shrunk a lot, but definitely still there.

The other day, all the boys in my family were having a one-armed push up contest. They encouraged me to do a push up. I thought I'd be able to do ten because that used to be easy. I got down on the ground and fell on my stomach. I couldn't even do one and I was shocked. I thought maybe I just didn't have the right form. I try again with the same result. I guess that is what happens when you don't do push ups for nearly a year.

I am committed to getting back into shape. Now that it has been six weeks, I feel well enough to exercise. I want to be able to do fun things like rock climb and snowboard. Another thing I really want to do is run a marathon. This has always been a goal of mine, but I have never found the time to do it. Well, it is now or never. 26 miles seems daunting right now when I can barely jog 1 mile, but the marathon isn't until September 19, 2009. Here is the training schedule I'm going to follow. Notice it doesn't start until January, so I have until then to build my current status (a slooow 1 mile) up to 3 or 4 miles. When I look at this schedule it doesn't seem so impossible. My sister-in-law Rachel and my mom are going to do this with me. Let me know if you are interested, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

99 balloons

I saw this video on Oprah and it really touched me. This is a tribute video made by a father to his son who died of a genetic condition. Yeah, it made me cry, but more importantly it made me think. I am blessed with a beautiful, healthy little boy and this video has encouraged me to appreciate every moment of his precious life. Every moment. I now value waking up in the middle of the night to feed him, changing his messy diapers, and rocking him when he is upset. All are opportunities for me to be with him and love him.

Parker is 4 weeks old today! He has grown so much...seriously. He is a little chub. I love him so much and I hope that he can feel that. Here are some pictures I've taken of him lately.
This is Parker at 2 weeks

Parker all bundled up for a walk in the stroller

Parker the Rockstar and his friend Cassidy (who is three months older than him)

Parker's first day at church

Parker and Matt at the ward Halloween party
Parker is "captain adorable"

Monday, October 13, 2008

It is All Worth It

DISCLAIMER: I write a lot, probably too much. Sorry, I just can't spare the details.

Some of you (especially my pregnant friends) might be interested in hearing how the whole thing happened. Many of you might think that is too much information. Well, whether you are interested or not, here is how Parker was brought into the world.

I had been expecting Parker to arrive any moment after I went to my 37 week appointment. My doctor, Melissa Brown, was impressed with how much progress I was making with dilation and effacement. I MADE her guess when he was going to be born. She hesitated saying, "you never know." But I insisted and she guessed he would be born a week before his due date. I changed that date, mentally, to my new due date (bad idea, unless you like to be disappointed). The truth is that you never really know. All those so-called "signs" that labor is imminent are not really signs of labor at all. They are just signs that you are going to have a baby eventually...which HOPEFULLY, you already know at that point. Dilation, effacement, losing the mucus plug, bloody show, engagement, increased braxton-hicks...all of these happened to me, yet no baby. In fact, I was having braxton-hicks contractions 10 minutes apart for weeks!

So a couple weeks pass and my due date (Sept. 26) comes on goes. I go to my doctors appointment 4 days later on Tuesday, Sept 30. My doctor strips my membranes which is supposed to help induce labor and she sets an induction date for that Thursday, Oct.2 (because my amniotic fluid is measuring low). I start to have some painful contractions that evening. They didn't hurt so much that I couldn't manage them, but they were 4-7 minutes apart and the hurt significantly more than the braxton hicks I had been feeling earlier. Matt (and my mom) insisted we go to the hospital, so around 9:00 pm or so we go...only to be met by severe disappointment. I was still dilated at just a 3. They had me stay until midnight and by then I was so tired and hungry that I didn't want to have the baby that day anymore. I just wanted to sleep. They gave me some morphine and sleep is what I did very, very well that night.

The next day, Wednesday Oct. 1, my contractions slowed down to my disappointment, but on the upside I knew I was going to have him the next day by induction. Then at 4:00 I started having another contraction (like I always had), I went to stand up because it was always more comfortable for me to walk around during my contractions. I stood up, or I should say I tried to stand up and then the pain just hit me like a brick wall and I fell back into my seat. It really, really hurt. I thought it was just a fluke, but then 5 minutes later an equally painful contraction happened. I called Matt. He was just about to leave anyway. By the time he came home it wasn't even 5:00, but I had decided that I needed to go to the hospital. The general advice they give you is that your contractions should be 5 minutes apart, lasting about a minute for at least an hour before you go in, but I had the feeling that this was progressing quickly. Actually, the only feeling I really had at this point was pain, so we went in.

When they check you in they see how dilated you are and then wait an hour to see if you have progressed. When I came in I measured a 4.5, a whole centimeter and a half more than the night before. The nurse left and I started to have even MORE painful contractions that lasted about 2 minutes each...very hard to deal with. I called the nurse in after only a half an hour because of the pain so she checked me again and I was over a 5. She told me I was progressing quickly and she called the doctor on call. The doctor on call was going to break my water and then I would get an epidural, but the nurse told her it would be too late by then and that I should get the epidural first. Interestingly enough, the hospital called me while we were at the hospital to schedule a time for the induction.

I was trying to deal with the pain, but I didn't want to deal with it anymore when I saw tears come into Matt's eyes during my contractions. At that point I wanted the epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and honestly getting the epidural was no big deal. Getting the IV hurt more than the epidural. Instant relief. He gave me a low dose and if I wanted more all I had to do is call in the nurse and she would show me how to press a button to get more pain relief. Afterward, the doctor came in and checked me and I was at a 7! The nurse looked at her and said, "I told you so." I guess she didn't believe the nurse when she said I was dilating fast. Then she broke my water.

I felt really good for a while, and then I started getting a weird sensation of pressure and a little bit of pain. I called the nurse in again and she checked me. Her eyes got really wide and she said I needed to start pushing and that the baby was very engaged. I started pushing and I really liked it at first. It felt like I was doing some intense workout, but because of the epidural I had the energy to do it. In between pushes I was getting to know the nurse and having a pretty good time...for the first hour. The second hour I started to get a little nervous. It didn't seem like I was making much progress. He wasn't fitting very well through my pelvic bones. The pain I was feeling started to increase. The nurse looked at the epidural machine and asked," Have you touched this?" I hadn't. It turned out that it was turned off, so I wasn't getting any of it. She had me press the button for more. I don't know how numb people usually are, but my feet and calves had complete feeling in them. At that point only my lower torso, hips, and upper thighs had any sort of numbness. But the pain was still minimal compared to before.

The last hour of pushing (yes, I pushed for three hours) was miserable. I was exhausted. I kept having horrible thoughts about emergency C-sections (like my mom had with me). But once the baby finally got through the smallest part of my pelvis, he came out pretty quickly. At 12:07 am Oct. 2 he was born. They plopped him on my lap and I got to hold him for a very long time while they stitched me up (which lasted an hour). I was really beat up. I couldn't see. Everything was blurry because my eyes were practically swollen shut. I had several tears, some internal, but it was all worth it.

After I was ready, they moved me into my room. The first time I went in the bathroom and caught a glimpse of me in the mirror, I just about fell over. I didn't even recognize myself. I was so swollen all over my face. I couldn't move very well and am still working on regaining my mobility.

Because of my hard delivery and tearing, when I came home I wasn't even able to walk up the stairs (I have A LOT of stairs), so I had to sleep downstairs on the couch. I still can't carry him up and down the stairs because I need the support of the wall and handrail. My peroneal nerve has been damaged because of all of the hard pushing. That means my leg is partially numb from my knee to my ankle. Hopefully it isn't permanant. Still, it was all worth it.

On the plus side, I was blessed with a healthy baby boy. The pediatrician was amazed at his weight gain. He is getting chubby already. Even though labor and delivery were only 8 hours of my life (8 uncomfortable hours), they brought me one of the greatest joys. It is definitely not something I want to do everyday, but maybe I'll manage to do a couple more times...let's not think about that now. I'll just enjoy my baby in the meantime.

One of Parker's baths

Parker's faux-hawk

Friday, October 3, 2008

Baby Budd is Finally Born

We thought he would never come, but Parker Samuel Budd was finally born on October 2 at 12:07am, 6 days late after 8 hours of Labor, 3 of which were pushing. Ashley went into labor the day before her scheduled induction. Little Parker was 8 LBS 3 OZ, and 20.5 inches long with lots of dark hair.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Brother Should Be Famous

My brother Cameron is 16 years old and a musical genius. Seriously. I remember he would never practice the piano and was thinking about quitting which I was sad about. This was when I was a senior at college. Then I got a phone call from my mom and she mentioned that Cameron was writing a song and he was really proud of it. I thought, "How cute!" I eventually made it home to hear this song and it literally put tears in my eyes. It was not a dinky little song like I thought it would be...it was amazing.

Since that moment Cameron has written dozens of songs and arranged many more. He has what is called perfect pitch which means he knows every tone without comparing it to another. For example, he could tell you that your refrigerator hums a B flat. The music literally moves from his head to his fingers. He doesn't have to think to hard what notes he is playing. His fingers just move. Watching him compose music is really amazing.

Well, Matt and I helped Cameron add a couple of videos to Youtube to help him get famous and share his gift with the world. I think you will be impressed. If you are into the whole youtube thing please subscribe to him, rate his videos, and add comments (I've included the links to youtube). Watch for more to come as well.

This is a Cameron Webb original: Sailing off the Earth

This is a Cameron Webb arrangement: Viva la Vida-Coldplay

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Utah Rocks: Thoughts on the New US Census

I've heard a lot of people complain about how they don't like Utah. My first thought is, of course, "then live somewhere else." I don't understand these people. It seems logical to me. I do, on the other hand, understand that they might not like some things about Utah (the weather, the traffic, the huge Mormon majority), but they should give credit where credit is due and admit that Utah is pretty cool when it comes to many things.

I just read an article in the Deseret News about Utah's rankings in the new census. The first thing they mention is how Utah is number one in family size and has the lowest marriage age. They contribute this to the LDS emphasis on family and, to a smaller extent, immigrants. "No Surprise Here" is the title of the article and that is how I felt as well. I personally don't want a huge family. I was planning on 4 kids. Now that I'm nine months pregnant, I have downgraded my dream family to 3 kids. I think that one's family size is up to them. I don't care if couples decide on zero or twelve kids (as long as they take care of them!) It really is the other statistics that caught my attention.

Utah is ranked 43rd in percent of people below poverty level. That is pretty darn good, if you ask me.

Utah is ranked 45th in percent of households receiving cash public assistance. Not Bad!

Utah is ranked 10th in percent of housing units that are owner occupied. We all know that owning is, like, a kagillion times better than renting.

Utah is ranked 13th for median household income. Not the highest, but still competitive.

Utah has the LOWEST percentage of children under age 6 with all parents in the work force. This is an important factor in understanding the causation of many of these rankings.

Utah is ranked 6th in percent of people age 25 and older who completed high school. Pretty good in a state where funding education always seems to be a problem.

Utah is ranked 18th in percent of people age 25 and older who received a bachelor's degree. This really isn't that high of a ranking, but I thought it notable.

So why is Utah so awesome? I'll be the first to tell you that correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but it stands to reason that many of these great ranking are related to Utah's emphasis on family. As a former educator, I clearly saw the impact that involved parents had on their child's education. Kids need a support system to help them succeed. I believe that all the other ranking are, at least in part, a result of an educated population with a strong emphasis on families.

The government spends A LOT of money on welfare (among other things). I have always thought that the best way to decrease the amount of welfare is improve education. There will always be a need to help those who can not provide for themselves, but unfortunately this is not the case for FAR TOO MANY people on welfare. If only they could learn responsibility, marketable skills, work ethic...things that should be taught in the public school system.

I could go on and on and on with commentary on this or that, but I'm just going to force myself to stop here with my conclusion.

Whether or not you are LDS, you would have to be blind not to see the benefit on society of having strong families. Functional families create strong individuals. Strong individuals create an educated, self-sufficient society...that is something we should all be working towards.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Baby Picture

I know I already made one picture of our baby using pictures of matt and me, but it was too much fun. So, here's another!

It is crazy to think that there is a baby inside of me and that he is going to be born (probably) in the next week! Wow! I'm super excited! I feel like right now I'm just waiting (not so) patiently for that moment to arrive. I can't focus on anything else.

What do you think about my little new baby Baby Budd?
MakeMeBabies.com - What will your baby look like?

Friday, September 12, 2008

38 weeks

The baby is supposed to be born today. Why you ask? Well, because I am ready. I have everything I need. I've read all the books about childbirth and pregnancy that I can handle. I am done with this pregnancy thing, but apparently the baby hasn't gotten the memo. There are 7 more hours today, so there is still a chance.

So I found a website that will show us what our baby will look like:

What do you think about my little new baby Baby Budd?
MakeMeBabies.com - What will your baby look like?

Cute, isn't he?

Friday, September 5, 2008

37 weeks!

Today, I am officially 37 weeks pregnant. That is full term, which is a good thing since my doctor said he could come any day now. I think I'm ok with next friday, the 12th. My due date is the 26th, but my doctor says he will probably be early. Her guess was around the 17th, but she did say that it could be tomorrow. Ready or not, he is coming soon!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Just a Stay-at-Home Mom?

When people ask me what my career plans are now that I'm going to have a baby, I am met with a variety of responses. Basically, I'm putting my professional teaching career on hold until my children are old enough to go to school. Most of the time when others hear that I'm going to be a stay-at-home mom they are supportive and glad that I am in a position that staying at home is financially possible (although it will be tight). But then there are others who feel like I'm wasting my life or not living a life because I choose to be "just a stay-at-home mom." I've been asked if I feel like I'm wasting my degree. Absolutely not! What better place to apply what I've learned at school than at my own home. That's not to say I won't miss the academic world, but I'm moving on to a different sort of school; one where I will develop many new types of skills. Those who chide me for being "just a stay at home mom" do not realize that motherhood contains within that title many other titles. Being a mother means I get to be so many things.

As a mother I get to be a Nurse. I have never been to medical school, but I'm excited to learn about the human body and how to help heal it. When my children get sick, I am the first response team. I am responsible for determining what is wrong with them. That means I must be well-studied on the subject of health and disease. That mostly means that I will become an expert at searching for symptoms and treatments on google, but nonetheless, I will become an expert on those symptoms and treatments. I am am also the ambulance driver, in a way, when I determine my children are sick enough that I need to take them to the real doctors.

I also am going to have the privilege of being our home's Interior Decorator. I pretty much am already, but since I'll be spending at lot more time inside my house, I will be much more picky on exactly how it looks. Not to mention, I have to be doing all of this on a budget. That means I'll get to be creative on how to do this: Refinishing old funiture, using my own artwork, bargain hunting, etc. I think I will have fun developing this skill.

I've taken a few courses on this subject, but I don't know if I'm fully prepared to be a Child Psychologist, but then again, I don't really have a choice. I will be fully engulfed in the life of my child and being the best mother I can be means I must try to see the world the way he sees it. I know there are many different theories on how to raise a child. Probably as many theories as there are mothers. I will get to develop my own theory based on what I know is best for my child. It will be interesting to see if I can apply any of those Pavlovian stimulus-response training methods on my children.

I've never been too interested in becoming a chef until recently. Now I find a certain ammount of satifaction in developing a new recipe. They aren't complication by any means, but I like the fact that I made it up. My mom is the ultimate chef. Mmmm. Just thinking about her food makes my mouth water. She just throws things together into a delicious concoction. Right now I focus on making food that is healthy and try to make it yummy as well. It is a work in progress, hopefully I have my mother's throw-everything-in-the-pot-and-watch-it-turn-into-something-delicious genes.

My husband is the accountant, but since I now have significantly more time than him (he is also a full-time student) I have been given the responsibility of being our family's financial planner. Maybe our family goes a little overboard (Matt IS an accountant), but we keep track of all our expenses down to buying a snack at the gas station. Matt is teaching me to use our financial software to create and manage our budget. I don't think everybody goes to the lengths we do to stay on top of our budget, but I do know that being financially aware is an important skill that every mother should have especially since they are the ones who most often do all the shopping for the family. I'm excited for Matt to teach me how to use the quickbooks software. I'm sure this skill will be beneficial in many ways.

I can't wait for my little baby to come so I can take pictures of him. That means I get to be the family photographer. What mother doesn't like to take pictures of their bundle of joy? This will be a great opportunity for me become a better photographer not to mention historian. I am in charge of making sure that every milestone in my little boy's life is documented. I'm sure it won't be too hard for me to accomplish this. I'll probably just follow him around all day with a camera around my neck.

One part of being a stay-at-home mom that I've been dreading is become the family maid, but I do admit that this is an important role that I'll have. I'm not saying that I am going to be the only one every cleaning in my home. Nope. If you make the mess, you clean it, but I will be on full-time duty. My Grandma is the ultimate home cleaner. She is a little obsessive--ok, she is a lot obsessive, but I've noticed how she takes pride in her work. That is a quality I want to emulate. I want to take pride in having a clean home. After all, word on the street is "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." I wouln't mind having some of that in my home.

One role that I'm all too familiar with is that of Teacher. As a mother, I will become the ultimate teacher. In fact, I consider that to be the primary role of a mother. I will get to teach my child how to do basic things like tie a shoe. I get to read to him nightly and be filled with joy when he can read to me. I am excited to hear all his curious questions and to answer them with just as much excitement. I will take the responsibilty to teach him right from wrong very seriously. I am so excited to take part in helping this helpless little person to grow up to be a capable, independent, and responsible adult.

I could go on forever about the different reponsibilties that I gladly accept with choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. I will get to learn so many things and if I can become an expert at just one of those things, I will consider myself a success. I was lucky enough to have a mother who showed me what motherhood is all about. She embraced the responsiblities of motherhood with dignity and as a result I am who I am today.

I'm sure you can think of a million more things that motherhood is to you and I think the list is a little different for everyone, but that doesn't make it less important.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Love Affair

It seems I haven't been able to sit down with a good book for a long time. It's not that I have been soooo busy in my life that I just couldn't make time for it. It is more that I forgot how much I enjoyed it, so reading got pushed to the back of my to do list. Well, this summer while I was bored out of my mind I finally got to the end of that to do list and picked up a book.

I started with Harry Potter 6. I thought it was a timely read since the movie is coming out this year. That quick and easy read got me back into the swing of things and I've been reading ever since. Next I read Twilight because I had too. EVERYBODY is doing it. That was also a quick and easy one. (don't hate me for saying this, but I was a little disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high.) And then I discovered the library in West Valley. I feel bad for the library. I took their entire stock of pregnancy and childbirth books. And the surprising thing is that I've almost read them all. Needless to say, I feel a lot better about having a baby. I know a lot more about what is going to happen to me and what signs I need to look for. In fact, I probably know enough to deliver my own baby...but let's not get crazy. The last couple of nights I've been dreaming about having my baby. I should clarify. The last couple of nights about 5 times a night I have had a dream about giving birth. Each time being a little different then the time before. After all of that I decided to cut down on my labor and delivery reading and move on to something else. I started to read Ender's Game which is a book I have heard a lot of good things about. Also it is written by Orson Scott Card. He has a column once a week in the Deseret News that I love to read. It is in the Mormon Times section and since he doesn't live in Utah, he has a clear perspective on "mormon culture." I find his perspective refreshing.

Well, all that being said, I have a love affair with books now. If you have any good books to recommend, please let me know. Thanks!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back to School or not

It seems like everyone is getting ready to go back to school. The newspaper is overrun by back to school sales ads. The weather is getting a little cooler (only a little). The youth in my ward are starting to complain about the end of summer. Wal-mart is filled with spiral-bound notebooks.

This is the first year I'm NOT going back to school. Obviously I went to school every year from preschool to senior year at RHS (Go Silverwolves!) and then I went straight through 4 years of College at Utah State (Go Aggies! What is an aggie anyway?) and then I got a job teaching chemistry at AMES for two years (Go Nerdy kids!).

AMES is a public charter school which means that it is free and there is open enrollment with a cap at 400 students. It is a very small school and I think that is one of its greatest strengths. AMES stands for Academy for Math, Engineering, and Science and we tried to focus on giving kids opportunities to excel in those areas although the school had a great arts, social studies, and english programs as well.

Most people have the mistaken understanding that AMES is only for smart kids. Not true. In fact during enrollment we would focus on underprivledged, minority, lower economic status, and potential first generation college students. It is true that we did grab the attention of some brilliant MIT bound students, but most of the students were not this way.

I LOVED teaching. I LOVED my students. Being in such a small school, I got to know most of my students very, very well. In fact, I still keep in touch with many of them. Many of them have added me as their friend on facebook (not the other way around). I even received emails from a couple of them this summer.

Here is an email from my student Nathan. He would always stay after class asking me girl advise:

Anyways I'm sorry I never had the time to write an e-mail. I have been very busy with Canada and all, never got on a computer. So how is your summer going? Are you excited about your baby coming soon? Will you visit with your baby sometime? Well what ever happens enjoy it! hoping to talk to ya some more soon!

(AKA) Your most awesome student! =D

Here is part of an email from another student JP. I wasn't even aware that he liked me all that much, but he wrote me a sweet email:

How are you? How are things going? It's boring not talking to you every other day. Next year is going to be way lame without you at AMES. How's the baby doing? :) I'm doing pretty well. Actually very well.

It makes me school-sick. I wish I could go back, but then again I am very excited for this new chapter of my life. In reality I get to be the ultimate teacher: mother.

I had an opportunity to go to Washington DC with 4 of my students last fall for the NCSSSMST (the world's longest acronym) conference. The National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathmatics, Science, and Technology. The first day I tried very hard to establish myself as the teacher of the group but soon gave up when I realized everyone else just thought I was a student. Oh, well it was more fun that way.
Can you tell which one is the teacher?

Cute kids: Daniel, Ahrash, Sarah, and Ludmila

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cecret Lake

Last Saturday, Matt and I went on a hike to Cecret Lake. Why they spell secret with a C is a mystery to me. In fact, why called it "secret" lake is also a mystery considering how many people were on the trail. Obviously, not a very well-kept secret.

Cecret Lake was a short hike up Little Cottonwood Canyon. It is beautiful up there right now. There are so many colorful wildflowers dotting meadows and abundant wildlife.

We met a very interesting man on the way down the trail. I wish I could remember his name, but I do remember he was from Canada, eh. He bought a sailboat and traveled the oceans for 5 years to spend with his family and then he stopped at American Samoa and got a job working for the government. He was down in Salt Lake for a FAIR conference.

FAIR is the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research. Basically, it is an organization dedicated to the defense of the LDS church. People who have questions or doubts about the church may find their website (http://www.fairlds.org/) very informative. I have visited it before and read some of their articles, but honestly the things they write about aren't that important if you have a testimony of the gospel. A testimony can only come by spiritual confirmation not by physical evidence. This man is a retired lawyer and he quoted a well-known psychological principle that states if you have already made up your decision, you can rearrange the evidence in your favor. This is true with the church. Many anti-mormon enthusiasts will be very selective on their "evidence" against the gospel. ANYWAY, I'll get off my soapbox.

To see more pictures, check out my other blog www.photography-by-ashley.blogspot.com

Monday, August 4, 2008

Waiting for Baby

It is starting to get old. I've been pregnant for, like, 7 full months. That is the entire year of 2008 so far. It was fun at first. I liked seeing my belly grow, but now the sleepless nights, endless heartburn, inability to breathe and move are making me think that I'm just about ready.

I was thinking last night as my stomach acid decided to take a detour up my throat,"Why is this so long and uncomfortable?" And then I realized if pregnancy was easy and short and fun, everyone would have a baby whenever they had the slightest inclination to do so. Well, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that God knows what he is doing.

I am getting so excited to have my baby! (not just to return my body to its former state) I know it is going to be hard and there is a lot I have to learn, but generally the things in this life that are the most difficult and also the most worth it. If that is true, then having a baby has to be the most worthwhile experience possible. Yeah, I'm scared out of my mind for this increasingly large baby boy to come out of me (who wouldn't be), but the more I learn, the less I fear.

I know, almost for a fact, that my baby is going to be HUGE! He is strong and kicks a lot, but I know he is going to be large because of his genetics. I was 9 lbs. 6 oz and Matt was 8 lbs. 3 oz. All my friends are having little petite 6-7 lb infants. I'm pretty sure I'm going to give birth to a toddler. Even so, I know I can handle this (at least that is what I tell myself).

I can't wait to see you baby boy!

Baby Ashley
Baby Matt

Scrapbooking Debut

I have an announcement to make: I started scrapbooking. I had never really made a scrapbook before and felt a twinge of guilt because of that. I mean, what type of person doesn't scrapbook?! Don't I love my memories enough? What was wrong with me?

This whole thing started when I went over to Matt's parent's house and everybody started to look at pictures. Matt's mom started walking into the room with a box bigger than herself full of pictures. We looked through them one by one, in no sort of order: here she is 15 years old and next she is 15 minutes old. I love pictures and couldn't stand the thought of all these memories imprisoned in this box (I didn't even know before this time about the existence of the box.)

I volunteered to put all of Celeste's pictures in a scrapbook. Not an easy task. I have every picture of Celeste ever taken of her in all her 18 years and have to organize it somehow and scrapbook it. Hopefully I don't mess it up too bad, but anything is better than the box.

So it began. I went to the store and spent way too much on supplies. My friend, Rachelle, invited me over and I began the process. I was surprised to find out that I actually like scrapbooking. It is almost therapeutic. I also realized that I need way more supplies -- Rachelle has all the high tech gadgets and cute accessories. I basically limited myself to paper and stickers. Well, I suppose I will just work my way up.

Here are the first two pages I made:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Seriously (Predictably), So Blessed!

The Deseret News has fairly recently developed a new section of their newspaper every Thursday called "The Mormon Times." I thought this was rather presumptuous of them. Do they assume all of their readers are LDS? Well, being LDS, I decided to enjoy it.

During my traditional read-the-newspaper-while-eating-cereal morning routine, I came across an article in the Mormon Times about a blog. But this blog was more than it at first seemed. It is a satire on all "mormon mommy" blogs...blogs like this one. I can see how some people might be easily offended by her satirical posts, but she explains that it is not mean spirited, just observational.

The blog is titled "Seriously, So Blessed." She follows the predictable life of Tiffany/Amber/Megan/Nicole (she might as well add Ashley) and her marriage to Jordan/Jason/Wes/Taylor. They are a young mormon couple. She goes to hair school/teaches 2nd grade and he is in medical/dental/business school. Of course she is in the Young Womens and is pregnant. She loves scrapbooking and.....bragging endlessly about her oh, so perfect life.

Reading her blog made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Yes, I and everyone I know is reading "Twilight" just like Tiffany/Amber/Megan/Nicole (TAMN for short). I do honest think my husband is the best in the world just like TAMN does. I determined my life is fairly predictable.

There are, however, some major differences. I, for one, taught high school NOT second grade and I am 7 months pregnant NOT 3 weeks pregnant. Obviously, we are very different.

So check it out at http://seriouslysoblessed.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Blog: Photography by Ashley

In an attempt to develop my talents and maybe develop some new talents, I have started a new blog called "Photography by Ashley." It has some pictures I've been taking for fun and hopefully it will display some pictures I take for other people. That being said, I would love to shoot some engagement shots, family portraits, or baby pictures. Normally someone would charge for these services, but seeing as I'm just starting out and am doing it mostly for fun, I will take your pictures for FREE. I also make wedding announcements and slideshow/videos for events like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.

Please spread the word to anybody who is interested.

Check it out: http://photography-by-ashley.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 14, 2008

My New Life

It is funny how things can change so much so quickly. It seems only moments ago that I was carefree in college. Now my life is filled with responsibility much greater than I've ever known. I am a wife and will soon be a mother yet I still feel like that carefree college girl. How do I reconcile these feelings? Any attempt seems to throw me from my family responsibilities and drown me in what feels like selfish guilt. I want to do things and I know I need to be happy as well, yet it feels like whenever I have a desire to do something it compromises the goals I have for my family. Am I stuck? I feel in some ways that my home has become a prison. And I don't even have my baby yet...I dread that this feeling will only get worse. Am I sentenced to a life of laundry? Am I confined to cooking and cleaning? I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Without second thought I quit my job and happily obliged to my new job as mommy. Yet, I guess I didn't realize how much of a sacrifice that really would be for me. I still know it is right and I don't regret my decisions one bit, I just need to find balance in this new life. I need to find time for me.

One of the things that is so difficult now is being trapped in this new body, unable to run, climb, bike, or, heck, even bend over like I used to be able to do. I'm just happy to be walking around the block and that truly is the most physical activity I've been doing lately. I feel selfish for wanting more than that.

I suppose I started having a difficult time lately not because my belly is huge, but because I've lost contact with people. As a teacher, I had more than enough social contact, but I loved it! I felt like I was making a difference, that people liked me, that I could help them. After school was over I lost those friendships and lost my sense of purpose. I was no longer that mentor and teacher but a maid. I traded in a classroom full of smiles to a sink full of dirty dishes. I do a few things that make me happy like reading and photography, but I do nothing that makes me feel, well, I guess, important. Again, I feel guilty for being so selfish. I know that being a mother is important, but right now I'm not quite a mother and...well, I'm just adjusting to this new life.

Will I ever be able to accomplish those many goals I have set for myself, those selfish desires of my heart? Like getting my Masters, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, running marathons, traveling the world, starting a business, and helping those less fortunate than myself? I have seen people accomplish more while still being super mom, but I'm not so sure that I am that able. My number one goal is to be the best mother and wife possible, but I wonder if it is possible to do it all. . .Or will motherhood extinguish all other goals?

Like I said, I am learning to cope with this new way of life. I suppose others might do a better job of that than me, but we all learn at our own pace. I shouldn't have such high expectations of myself. Perhaps, if I do just a little at a time I can be that super person I imagine myself being or maybe I'll accept the fact that superheroes don't exist.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Warning: Graphic Content (not suitable for children)

A couple of days ago I posted some pictures of Matt's black eye. Well, that was nothing. Now I have pictures of what he looked like when he came home initially. He did warn me though. He called and said, "Ashley, get the camera ready." "Why?" I asked, knowing that I probably didn't really want to hear the answer. With some prodding he tells me that he got in a "little accident." I don't know why people are always so paranoid about us rock climbing. Matt gets into far worse situations mountain biking. After we washed him up, we realized it wasn't too bad. That is fortunate for him; if it was any worse, I probably wouldn't let him mountain bike anymore. But the good news is that the bike is OK!

Poor Matt! He looks ready for Halloween.

Poor Ashley! Her husband's a monster.

Nice Bike! The Specialized Enduro