Monday, September 17, 2012

Painting my future one day at a time....

 “Make a memory with your children, spend some time to show you care; toys and trinkets can't replace those precious moments that you share.”  -Elaine Hardt
I had these pictures done of the girls to signify how important our recent trip to Port Aransas really was for my little family. During the trip, I was overtly enjoying time with my family and relaxing on the beach, but on the inside I was struggling with one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in a long time. For the past 7 years I have been both a mom and a professional and have loved every minute of both. I had a long commute each and every day but was okay with this because I knew what I was doing was having an impact and changing the future of so many.  I loved the people I worked with, I loved the people I met, and I loved my independent life. 

But, I guess there comes a time in everyone's life when they have to look in the mirror and analyze themselves.  I think for moms this is more than just "Am I meeting my goals?" "Am I happy with myself?" As moms, we tend to take the backseat and focus on the needs of our family first and worry about ourselves next.  For me, I was trying to do and be all things to all people and while I think I have done a pretty good job, I knew I could not keep it up.  My little ones were growing up before my very eyes and even though I couldn't make it stop, I could control how much I was involved.

So during one of our trips to the beach, I took a walk by myself and prayed for guidance and you know what, God provided me with the guidance I needed.  As we were walking, a frantic woman came up and asked if we had seen a little boy with a yellow swim suit and a boogie board?  "No, why?" She had turned her head for a brief moment and he was front of us the ocean, behind us hoards of people and this little boy was an instant.  It hit me like a ton of bricks, I looked over at my sweet Baby Ava and there she was running into the ocean all by herself without a care in the world and little Alex was crawling right behind her doing all she could to try to keep up and God said, "Ashley before you know it they will be grown and you will miss it if you keep up this pace."

I made the decision then and there to slow down and stop trying to be all for everyone and concentrate on being all for a select few.  The few that make me who I am today and who I will be forever and ever.  I look forward to what is in store for the future and will always have fond memories of my life as a small town girl from Spearman, TX that made it in the big city.  It is a life that I have loved but it is my past and I can't wait for the future........btw, the little boy was found.

Quick letter I read on yahoo the other day....that really touched home with me and reinforced I made the right decision.

Dear Me 20 Years From Now,

I wonder if you've become one of those women who briefly lingers around, a safe distance behind, young moms carting their babies and toddlers through the grocery store with that far-off look in your eyes. If you gently smile at the mom when she looks up and catches your glance, obviously frazzled by how challenging taking 2 kids grocery shopping is, as if to tell her it's going to be okay. If you look at her and miss that time, want so badly to trade 5 minutes of the independence you have now that your kids are much older so that you can rest a toddler's head on your shoulder, or buckle a baby in their car seat, mindful not to pinch any belly chub in the harness.

I have a feeling that you might be, and there are some things I want you to know, some things I'm willing you to remember.

I want you to remember that they were the hardest thing you'd ever done. They challenged you, and they kept you up at night. They pushed your buttons, and they were never, ever quiet... unless they were in trouble. I want you to remember that you loved them the hardest you've ever loved anything, from day one, and every day after that.

I want you to know that you were completely overwhelmed nearly all the time. The thought of taking them anywhere by yourself made you want to hide in bed all day. You were overwhelmed by the responsibility. You had NO clue what you were doing. You were overwhelmed by how much they trusted you and how much they needed you. You were overwhelmed by how much you needed and loved them.

I want you to remember how it felt to lay side by side next to your 4-year-old before she drifted off to sleep. How you talked face to face, nose to nose, about her day. How you told her you were excited to see how much she would grow by the morning, and how in the morning you'd lay in bed next to her and stretch her arms and legs out, exclaiming, "LOOK HOW MUCH YOU GREW LAST NIGHT!" How that put the biggest smile on her face.

I want you to remember what it felt like to hold your 12-month-old on your lap, wrapping your arms around her and laying them on her bulging tummy. How the back of her head and the handful of baby curls at the nape of her neck felt and smelled when you rested your head atop hers.

I want you to know that you were acutely aware of how fast they were growing. Even though many days would pass in the blink of an eye, there would always be a moment when your world would snap to a halt, and you would look at them while they were doing something mundane and normal, and you would be painfully conscious that they were no longer the size they were last week, and that they would never be the size they are at that moment again.

I want you to know that you went to bed every night with one simple wish for the next day. To just do better.

Even though you were tired and challenged, exasperated and overwhelmed, you knew then that you would miss these days... most of them, at least. It was a truth that was hard to live with, and most of the time you ignored it because there was nothing you could do about the passing of time. If you spent your days mourning the ones that had gone by, you'd miss out on the days you were living in.

You knew you were on a light rail, moving at speeds you couldn't comprehend. You had no control over the ride that brought you to where you are today, but believe me when I say you searched so very hard to find the emergency brake.

Please know, please remember that you tried to savor that time. Be at peace, knowing you spent late afternoons curled up with them on the couch, that sometimes you just sat and watched them move and run, that occasionally you took inventory of all the things they'd learned in the last week, and that you appreciated your time with them the best you knew how. Know that despite your very best efforts, there was no way to freeze time.

I promise you, you tried.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer Part Two

 Sprinkler fun has always been great, but with a little sister to splash around with, there is nothing better!!!

Annual Summer Trip to Port A
Last year on this trip, I felt like I should be in the ocean with the whales.....but this year we have two little sweeties to enjoy riding the ferry with.....

Running on the beach with your best friend.....
and building sand castles and people watching......  (Note the, three guys in the background, they remain a mystery to us all.  We decided they must have lost a bet.)
 We also made lots of mud pies.....
 Attempted a family pic in the beach....
 Jumped in the waves....
 Found some seashells....
 Made some sand castles....
 Ate a few mud pies.....
 And praised God for all that we have been blessed with.....

 Then at night we went crab hunting.
 And played with some really cool flashlights.
Ava Lowe:  3 yrs
Levi Wilson:  2 years
Grace Wilson:  5 years 

We had a great summer and as always it went by too quickly.

One major milestone within our extended family.....our dear friends the Wilsons, Miss Grace started kindergarten this year and I can still remember when she was born.
Dr. Seuss sums it up best.....
“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

Catching up on the Summer (May, June, July)

May's Dance Recital:
In May, Ava had her first dance recital and it was adorable.  All year we have been going to dance practice and she sings and dances all around the house.  It was so much fun to see her on stage and she was not scared at all.  I was never into dance growing up, but it is so fun to listen to her talk about all the "dance moves" she is learning.

 My sweet little dancer.  Thank you to all that came and watched her, it is one of her best memories to date.

Speaking of memories.....
We went on our annual Memorial Weekend Trip to Spearman and relived many annual memories like trips to the museum and a trip to the jumpy house.......
But we also made a new memory, and we were all in awe that Ava was brave enough to do it.....
 If you look back over the past two years and trips to Spearman, there are many failed attempts of me trying to get Ava to ride a horse.  Don't get me wrong, she loves horses but has never been that adventurous. Not the case any more, horse riding is a new love and riding really really fast is the bee's knees!!!!!

 One day, Alex, it will be your turn, I promise.
 Sweet Willie, he let Ava pick on him all week.
 And of course we have to include riding KellieAnne while we are home.
 Trip to Houston
 In June, we went to see the Butlers and then down to the beach.  Ava just loves Jeran, she thinks he is pretty fun!  And while she loves the Butlers, she loves the beach too.
 Galveston was a bit dirty, but there is always something about the salty air and sounds of the waves that brings the stress levels down to zero.
 Not to mention loving on these sweet cheeks.....
 A trip to the beach is never complete without feeding the sea gulls.

 4th of July Weekend Fun!!!!
 What a simple yet memorable 4th of July we had this year.  It was full of my favorite things, family, friends, and laughter!  It started off with a parade in Onion Creek
 A cat nap....
 Story telling behind the trees with our cousins....
 Waving on Uncle Harley.....
 And attempting to smile for the was a failed attempt though
 Ava not cooperating....
 Adam being a pest....
 Hey Connor.....
 Dang, then I mess up the only one that is half way decent.....oh well at least this little one below is cute
 And she has a cute little buddy in Connor

 So after our failed attempt at a family photo, it was on to swimming.  This little one swam for close to 6 hours straight.  Swimming in her world ranks right up there with dance and riding horses....
 Alex enjoyed the good life,
 Connor wore the slide out...
 And the sound of sweet kids playing together filled our 4th of July.