Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back to Basics

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is so easy for everyone to get caught up in the big things. The decorations, the presents, the presentation. While all of these things make Christmas (and life in general) a little more fun and a lot more sparkly, I had an ah-ha moment a couple nights ago. I've already preached blogged about how Christmas isn't about money or gifts, and I stand by that. But what I didn't mention? Is that life isn't about money or gifts either. And sometimes I need to stop and remind myself of this. Try and stay with me on this one...

I started a new job last week and am working 3 days a week at it, while still working 2 days a week at my old job. Fortunately it's with the same company, but the positions couldn't be more different. I love my new job and I am so grateful for it, but this transitioning and switching back and forth between the two? It's taking a lot out of me. I come home mentally drained. I love learning all of these new things but at the same time it's hard. My brain is going crazy trying to balance new responsibilities with old responsibilities. And this is my excuse. My excuse for being a less than ideal wife.

My husband has mentioned in the past few weeks that I have been distant. I've been out of it. I think the preparing for the new job, starting the new job, combined with the holiday crazies has made me this way. Well, I guess I can't really blame all of that, because when it really comes down to it, it's about me and the way I handle these things. But moving on.

My heart was heavy because of Shawn telling me I had been distant, so I sent him a text (while in the same room as him, mind you) and asked him if he wanted to go upstairs and just spend time together instead of watching TV with my family. I doubt I have to tell you how hard it is to be married in someone else's home, and while we are so entirely grateful that my dad and step mom have let us stay here while we get back on our feet, it's still just hard. We came from our own place and had to move into someone else's. We went from having alone time all the time to hardly ever having alone time. So I was relieved and happy when he headed upstairs after reading my text. Once upstairs? We just laid there and talked. And cuddled. And spent time with one another.

It was so nice to ignore all the worries, responsibilities, and holiday crazies. We took it back to the important stuff. Back to basics, if you will. It reminded me of how we were when we first started dating. I feel like after you are with a person for a while you get in a routine. Loving almost becomes a habit. And while love is certainly something that is important to me and that I'd like to keep constant in my life and in my relationship, a habit is not what I want for my marriage. So now I have this new mission. Love out of intention. Pure and simple love.

So now with Christmas just around the corner, and the New Year following close behind, I want to go ahead and put this out there as my "resolution". Except it's something that I'm going to start with now. I want to take it back to basics in my life. I want to push all the "for show" aside and really remember what first attracted me to my husband, why I first "clicked" with my best friends, and why family really should come first.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Little About Me

Since I (surprisingly) haven't had much to say lately, here is a little more about me. I stole this from Jenna who stole it from Katie :)

Guilty pleasure?
Twitter. For real. My husband makes fun of me for it all the time... I think I'm addicted. (So, uh, Follow me!)

Recent splurge?
A new North Face jacket. My old one was way too big and let all the cold in, thus defeating the purpose of a jacket. I was able to sell my old one for $75 and got the new one on sale since it was "discontinued" (they all look the same to me though!)... but it was still a bigger purchase!
In bulk, I buy?
Nothing. I did buy food and toiletries in bulk when I was in college and we probably will start buying bulk again once we have kids. The membership fees just wouldn't be worth it for us right now though.

My go-to flower?
Um, I am not picky. Give me any pretty flower and it will make me smile :)

Comfort food?
When I'm not feeling well I crave macaroni & cheese - specifically: Kraft, the shapes kind.

For breakfast?
Low Fat Eggo waffle and a glass of skim milk. Every morning, without fail. And I will usually eat a banana mid-morning.

For dinner?
Sadly, it's usually whatever my Dad cooks. Which isn't really so sad since he's an amazing cook, but it is sad I live at home...  Which I should really write a post explaining why one day. Other than his yummy cooking, Shawn and I usually go out to eat a couple times a week (which we are trying to cut back on).

Love/hate relationship with?
Weight Watchers. Although now that I'm on maintenance and get more daily points, I really just straight up love it. But when I was losing, some days I would be out of points and want something so!bad! and get really angry... but then weigh in days I would be happy again ;)

Can't stop watching?
My current favorite shows include: Glee, Up All Night, New Girl, X Factor (but the past 2 weeks results REALLY made me mad and I may boycott), Teen Mom 2 (don't judge), Sister Wives, and Desperate Housewives... and then reruns of The Office, How I Met Your Mother, and SVU - I never seem to catch new episodes of these though.

Dreaming about?
A house! We have started looking for a house and I'm obsessed. I may or may not check online listings multiple times a day.

Every girl should have?
An outlet. Whether it is your best friend, mom, husband... just someone you can vent to, cry to, bitch to, or celebrate with at any time of the day.

My style in five words?
Alright but could be better. Can I explain? I know what I like when I see it on someone else, and that way, I think my style is good. But? I have the worst time trying to put an outfit together for myself. So I usually just stick to basics and don't venture out. Anyone want to be my personal shopper?!

I love wearing?
Smaller sizes. For real. This goes back to my love for Weight Watchers :)

Dream job?
To be completely honest? A mom. I can't wait to be a mom. No matter how successful I feel at a job I get paid to do, I won't feel truly successful until I have a family.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

5K Motivation

As I have mentioned before, I am new to the running world. I'm not in love with it, but I can honestly say I don't hate it anymore. It has, as promised by veteran runners, gotten easier. And some days? I actually look forward to a run.

On Saturday I completed my second 5K. It feels great to know how far I've come. But what I like most about runs? The feeling afterward. Also, the encouragement I get from some pretty awesome people in my life. My husband, my mom, and some great friends I've made through the Internet.

Shawn is a natural athlete. He is agile, fast, and strong... basically everything that I'm not. He is an Army vet and has crazy drive and determination. He has been the best trainer I could ever ask for and has been so supportive of me. He pushes me when I don't want to be pushed. I might yell and cuss and complain sometimes, but I know he has my best interest in mind. And for that, I am grateful. I couldn't have gotten this far without his help. Also? Working out with your spouse is definitely a relationship booster. It has given us something to relate on. We may not always agree on what movie to watch, what store our money is best spent in, or what we do for fun in our free time... but now we have this common goal to live a healthy lifestyle and that? Is amazing.

My mom. How can a girl even start when it comes to how her mom has supported her? Let's just stick to health-motivation for this post so things don't get all sappy. If you asked anyone a year ago if my mom and I would ever run a 5K together you would have gotten a fit of laughter instead of a solid answer. Today I can proudly say that that is no longer the case.

Last year my mom got bit by the work out bug when she signed up to join Shawn in the Tough Mudder. In the middle of her training she had to have major surgery but that didn't slow her down one bit. In fact, it made her stronger. I watched her as she finished a 12 mile obstacle course run last April and I couldn't have been prouder. Since then I've also cheered her on through multiple races, including a triathlon.

About a month ago she invited me to participate in a "casual" 5K run. I figured since I was running an "official" 5K in a couple weeks I might as well try to see how far I still had to go. That day? I ran my first 5K alongside of my mom. She had to slow her pace because of me (she IS 8 inches taller than me, no lie) but she went slower for me. To help me. And seeing my mom running a couple steps ahead of me was quite the motivation. She then ran in my first official 5K with me a couple weeks later. I made sure she ran at her own pace this time, which was fine with me, since I had her there at the finish line cheering for me. What an awesome experience. And this April? We will be completing the Tough Mudder together. No more spectator tickets for me ;)

Katie and Susan are two amazing sisters. Seriously, they've lost over 100 lbs. together this year (for real!). It's safe to say they have not only been a motivator when it comes to Weight Watchers, but also when it comes to running.

Susan ran her first 5K a few months ago, and when I sent her encouraging words via Twitter after she finished, I can distinctly remember her responding that the next one I was going to run with her. She didn't ask, she told. I had been waiting for that push. I needed that push. She doesn't know this, but last year Shawn and I made a Bucket List. On it? I said I wanted to run a 5K. And after her encouragement I couldn't think of any more excuses. So I signed up when I could barely run 1 mile straight. Then I found out Katie also signed up. Katie has also been a huge inspiration to me. I knew it would be an awesome experience to run in the same race with the girls that have been such a huge support for me throughout my Weight Watchers journey. I relate to these girls. They help me, motivate me, and inspire me. And I'm thankful for them.

I don't think I would have made it this far without any of these wonderful people's encouragement. So to everyone that has pushed me, motivated me, and kept me going: Thank you. Whether you are listed here or not, I am thankful for you. Your kind words are greatly appreciated.

If you want, please head over to Katie's blog to read her post on motivators and to see a few pictures from Saturday's 5K. I can pretty much echo everything she wrote, so instead of sounding like a broken record, I encourage you to read what she has to say.

Happy running ;)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Reminder

I hope this helps someone else as much as it helped me.
Happy December :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I started this blog right after I began a gratitude journal back in September. For this Thanksgiving, I want to list the things I have been thankful for on a daily basis over the last couple of months...

Our military, firefighters, police force; Hot showers; Health & safety; The Internet; Borrowing clothes; Future goals that make us work harder; The gym & my desire to live a more healthy lifestyle; Shawn going back to school; My blog - a new outlet for my memories and thoughts; Good haircuts; Finding things you need on sale; Weight Watchers; My counselor; Jeans that fit just right; Friday!; Fall weather; Alone time with Shawn; A good friend's pregnancy; Family nap time; Weekly & activity points so I can splurge; Nice emails from Mom Mom; Warm, soft blankets; Chipotle; The Phillies; Isaac - my snuggle buddy; Free antibiotics from Wegmans; Co-ed softball league; Borrowing instead of buying; Old friends; Zumba; Chocolate milk; Compliments; Dinner dates without phones; Nights alone with our little family; My husband; Weddings & love; The cross-trainer; Steak; Meetings that get me away from my desk at work; Willpower to say no to pastries at the meetings; Good health benefits; Delicious pastries (Note: I like how the very next day I was thankful for the very same pastries that I said no to the day before, hehe); Old pictures & memories, A fresh start each day; My college degree; A flexible boss; Phillies in the playoffs; Jeans day at work; Perfect Fall weather; High school friends; Fleece-lined sweatpants; Lazy days; Giving myself a break from my diet without feeling guilty; Supportive friends; Hair color; Being able to run a mile without stopping (10/6/11); Socks; Goals: 5K in November & Tough Mudder in April; Shawn motivating me; Movies that make you appreciate life; dates; New clothes; Church; Beautiful days; Running; "She is clothes with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25; Pinterest; Budget plans; Running 1.5 miles without stopping (10/11/11), Support: both giving & receiving; Up All Night; Rain that cancels softball games when I don't want to play; Self control while shopping; Fiber One Brownies; Supportive WW leader; Weekend plans with friends; Word FM Radio; The reminder to put others first & myself second; Relaxing TV nights; Toms; Happy Adoption Day, Isaac!; New Camelbak water bottle; Fruit; Vick's VapoRub; NyQuil; Cookie/brownie/oreo dessert; 2 lb. weight loss; No weekend plans; My weddings rings - re-sized!; Bahama Breeze; Pizza Bingo at work; Reconnecting with friends; Recipes; New running gear; Peruvian food - El Serrano (thanks Katie!), 3 mile run! (11/13/11); Twitter; Quality time; Confidence about an interview; Getting the job!; God; Supportive "cheerleaders"; My first official 5K (33:50 - 11/19/11); Weight loss compliments, My grandparents.

I know, a long list. And believe it or not I didn't write every day. But what does this tell me? I have a lot to be thankful for. A lot to be grateful for. Silly things, serious things, awesome people.

It is hard to believe that at the beginning of the year Shawn and I both lost our jobs. 11 months later, we have come so far and I am so thankful for everyone and everything that has brought us to where we are today.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Last week was a week of milestones for me. As some of you know, I have been a member of Weight Watchers since March. When I started? I had 30 lbs to lose. THIRTY. I'm only 5'2" so that? Is a whole lot. Or, it was a lot. Because this past Thursday I hit my final weight loss goal of 30 lbs! I also bought a pair of pants 3-4 sizes smaller than I was wearing in March. A size I haven't seen since high school. But it was certainly nice to welcome my old friend back. And this time I'm going to try and keep in touch a little better.

When I started in March many people (including myself) lied said I didn't need to lose 30 lbs. and that I would appear waif-like if I did. Maybe they truly believed it at the time. Maybe they were just trying to make me feel better. Heck, even I couldn't imagine myself 30 lbs lighter. But now that it's gone? And I look back at old pictures? Yeah. It needed to go. Take a look for yourself. (Disclaimer: I did not take "official" before/after pictures. I wish I did. So if you're on a weight loss journey? DO IT! You will thank yourself later!)

Before: 167 lbs.
After: 137 lbs.

There it is. I guess as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. So a big thanks and shout out to Weight Watchers*. I am now on the 6 week maintenance plan and as long as I weigh in within 2 lbs of my goal weight for those 6 weeks, I become a Lifetime Member. Which means I get to go for free... win!

My next goal? Tone it up. I mentioned I had started running a few weeks ago. My training is going well and I enter my first "official" 5K this upcoming Saturday. After that... who knows. I'm not stopping there. Only time will tell.

*I am not being paid or endorsed or anything by Weight Watchers. I am just a happy, satisfied customer. That is all. It works. If you are considering a weight loss plan, I strongly and highly recommend Weight Watchers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bah Humbug... Kinda

It's that time of year. The time where the Internet world and retail world start buzzing with that C word... yes... Christmas.

Never the mind that Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet. These days, once Halloween passes it is free reign to start listening to Jingle Bells and start decorating the malls with trees and pretty lights. The problem? I'm sorry. I just don' In fact? It bugs me. Go ahead, call me a Scrooge or the Grinch. But first, hear me out.

I don't have to remind most of you that Jesus is the real reason for the season. Yet every year I feel this sentiment gets more and more lost. It saddens me that Christmas is now about presents and money. I watch loved ones stress out, get depressed, and freak out over buying things. I have even suggested a few times in the past that we should skip presents that year yet I get looked at like I have three heads.

So wait, let me get this straight. You're stressing and freaking out about money, yet when I suggest you don't spend it, I'm the crazy one? Oh okay, just so we're clear.

Anyway. I like Thanksgiving. I don't particularly love Thanksgiving food (yet again, I'm crazy right?). But I love that it is a holiday of togetherness without the hustle and bustle of presents. It's a holiday about being thankful and grateful and spending time with loved ones. I really think Christmas should take some notes from Thanksgiving.

Now I know. Once I have kids, my perception might change. I am sure there are few things better than watching your little one's face light up when they open the present they've always dreamed of. In that respect, I get it. Or at least I think I get it. But as for adults? I think we all need to take a chill pill and really remember what Christmas is about. Whether or not you are a Believer, that's your prerogative. Either way, I really think Christmas should be more about togetherness. Celebrating family. If you want to celebrate your family by exchanging gifts, that's great too. But for Heaven's sake don't make it all about that. And please, don't become depressed or anxiety-ridden when you can't spend $200 on every member of your family. At least in my world, that's just not realistic.

So as the C word nears I may or may not lighten up and join in the holiday spirit. But for now? I'm riding the fence of Bah Humbug and trying not to get caught up in all of the holiday drama and I hope that some of you will join me. You don't have to be a Scrooge or Grinch, but you can take a step back and remember the importance of this holiday season.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I am not a runner. In fact, I suck at running. But I'd like to change that. And I'm slowly working towards a few goals to make that happen. A common theme in the blog/twitter/facebook realm seems to be putting goals out there for everyone to read. This serves as a good motivation and is a great accountability method. I need all of that I can get so I'm following suit and putting my goals out there on the Internet so then I have to make it happen.

First up: My first 5K run on November 19th. I set this as a goal for myself around this time last year and never made it happen. This time? It's happening. And I'm lucky enough to be able to run it with some pretty amazing people. My husband, my mom, my coworker/friend Ashley, as well as two fantastic blogger ladies that have both been a huge inspiration for me throughout my Weight Watchers journey.

Training has been going well so far. Luckily for me my husband IS a runner. In fact? He can run lots of miles without stopping and his next goal is a half marathon... something I can only dream of (although it sounds like a bad dream to me right now). Shawn has been my motivator and my trainer, and I am so grateful for that. Slowly but surely he is turning his wife into a runner too.

Now for my ultimate goal. I am going to compete in the Tough Mudder in April 2012. I'd like to dedicate an entire post to this goal though, so in the meanwhile go ahead and take a look at the website and tell me how crazy awesome I am.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Come Second

This past few weeks in church, the sermons have been about loving people through joyful service. This past Sunday's lesson really grabbed a hold of me and spoke to my heart. It was about putting others first and putting yourself second.

This sounds easy, right? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. To me, when I heard it, I thought to myself "check, already do that." But then I started to think a little more. There are certainly times that I could do better. I mean, I'm sure we all could do better. Everyone has their flaws.

The Pastor talked about a variety of examples, including one as simple as holding the door for someone at the gas station and saying to yourself "you're first, I'm second". This began to start my mind juices flowing and now throughout the day I try and make it a point to stop, think, and ask myself how I can serve someone else.

How can I make their life a little easier? More importantly, what are my motives and why am I doing this person a favor... is it to help them, or to make myself look better? I'd like to say that it's always to genuinely help a person, but I'd be lying. I'm a sinner just like anyone else and sometimes my intentions and my motives aren't exactly pure. I want to change this. I want to be intentional and selfless. This also reflects back on my post about good deeds.

So, this is my new resolution for the Fall. No need to wait until the new year, this is a change that I want to and am ready to make now. Will you join me?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Someone Once Told Me...

If you are working harder for someone to change than they are working to change themselves, there's a problem.

Sometimes I struggle with letting other people's decisions influence my emotions. Especially if I have gone through a similar situation, it's so easy for me to jump the gun and say, "NO! Do it this way."

This piece of advice has really gotten through to me. Although it is still an every day challenge for me, it is now easier to remind myself that it's not my life and I cannot control other people's thoughts or actions. Mostly, it's a good reminder not to let myself get upset over something that is out of my control.

Is there a piece of advice that has really gotten through to you? If so, I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stolen Earrings

On my husband and I's first dating anniversary we decided to be fancy and buy each other some expensive gifts. A Movado watch for him and diamond earrings for me. It was my first real pair of diamond earrings and I was obsessed with them. I literally wore those earrings every day (including my wedding day) until he surprised me with blue diamond earrings on our first wedding anniversary in St. Thomas.

June 29, 2008 - Our first dating anniversary

May 8, 2011 - Our first wedding anniversary

Being the excitable man that Shawn is, he insisted I wear the earrings right!away! Who would argue with that? So I wore them the rest of our trip and put my old diamond earrings in the jewelry box of the new earrings which was then packed away in my suitcase.

Every piece of jewelry I wear was given to me by my husband and I do not accessorize according to outfits (I know. What kind of girl am I?). With this being said, I never have extra jewelry on trips since I always wear what I will be wearing the entire time. I thought nothing of packing jewelry and have since been scolded by multiple people since apparently, you shouldn't pack anything of value. My bad.

Fast forward to unpacking from our trip back home in Pennsylvania. The jewelry box was there, the earrings were not. I quickly and carefully looked through my entire suitcase and they were no where to be found. Also missing? A full bottle of perfume. AKA: the only two things of value that were in my checked luggage. I could care less about the perfume, although I would have preferred to keep it. But the earrings. My earrings. I was crushed.

One smart thing I did do? The earrings were insured. So I called the insurance company to file a claim and expected to get a check in the mail. Oh. It doesn't work that way? Damn. Next step? We needed a letter from the airline stating we filed a claim for the stolen earrings. Sounds easy? Think again. It took from May until the last day of September to get an email from the airline stating that they couldn't do a thing for us. This is after four phone calls and multiple emails. Almost FIVE months for them to tell us "sorry, we will try better the next time you fly with us". Yeah. Like that's ever going to happen.

So, the airline sucked. Really bad. I spent hours on the phone with them and many tears to get no help. BUT, the good thing? The insurance company did not suck. The email from the airline stating they were unable to help was enough. As of yesterday, I finally have confirmation from the insurance company to go ahead and get some new diamond earrings. They aren't the original ones that have meaning behind them, but at least we aren't out a lot of money. So one out of two isn't bad.

Alright. So now I know. Lesson learned. Do not pack items of value and do insure your jewelry. A nice shout out to Jewelers Mutual Insurance for being helpful and patient while the airline was a big pain in the butt. For anyone who does not insure their jewelry through their homeowner's policy or some other existing policy, I highly recommend them. (I am not paid by Jewelers Mutual and they do not even know I am writing a blog post about them. I am just genuinely grateful to have some real customer service for once!).

So tell me, have you ever had something of value stolen? What was your experience like?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Good Deeds

I've noticed a trend lately. Good deeds.  I've also noticed the trend to brag about good deeds on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. I've gotta tell you, I'm a fan of one but not of the other.

I love a good deed. Donating to a charity, giving food and clothes to the less fortunate, helping an elderly lady to her car. But why the need to broadcast it all over the Internet? Shouldn't doing what's right be enough for us?  I admit I too struggle with this sometimes. When I do something good, of course I want to hear "good job!", "you're such a great person!", and other compliments. But here's the real question: what actually makes a person a "good person"? In my opinion, the deed itself should be enough validation for ourselves instead of the comments on our public profiles.

It's hard with social media being such a huge part of our every day lives. We make every day happenings public for everyone to see. Weddings, babies, vacations. I get that. But I really think this is something we need to keep to ourselves and let our good deeds speak for themselves. After all, do you really need someone you graduated high school with 10 years ago or someone's second cousin that you've met twice to tell you that what you did was a good thing? Let's be confident in our good deeds without feeling the need to advertise them.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:1-4...

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

THIS! This is what I'm talking about. Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying one cancels out the other by any means. It's just my feeling that we should do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, and not because we feel the need to prove anything to our Internet friends.

Am I alone is this feeling? Do you think good deeds should be made public for the whole world to see, or should we keep these triumphs to ourselves?

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Story of Us

One Monday night in June after slaving retail hours I met my Dad and my friend Katie out at a local burger place for dinner and a few drinks. I was still swearing off guys at this point and had no interest in anything other than having fun and living my single life. Across the bar sat a seemingly good-looking guy wearing a hat. My friend Katie kept nudging me saying, "Ashley, that guy keeps looking over here! He's hot!" Being the newly carefree bad ass that I was I quickly snapped back, "I can't even see his face with that stupid hat over his eyes."

Fast forward to the next night, Tuesday (see I told you I was living the party life... two week nights out at two different bars. Who was I?!). It was karaoke night at another local bar. I met Katie and a group of friends out. It was my turn to buy our group a round of drinks but the bar was full. I hesitantly tapped on a random guy's shoulder (hesitantly because he was sitting with a girl) to ask him to get the bartender's attention. He puts his hand up, waves, the bartender sees him, brings him another beer, and then disappears. "Damn, I was about to leave, I didn't even want another drink!" says the guy. I told him not to worry about it and that I'd pay for it since he was trying to help me out.

The next thing he says... "Hey, weren't you at Cheeseburger in Paradise last night?" I flash back through my mind. Oh my goodness, it's the guy in the hat! "Oh yeah! I think I saw you there!" He wasn't wearing a hat tonight and I could clearly see he was not only seemingly good-looking but actually was full-blown good-looking. We talked the rest of the night and exchanged numbers since he was new to the area and looking to meet cool people (which obviously, I was. Ha.) Oh, and that girl he was with? Just a friend. He thought she was a cool person too but it turns out she was pretty lame.

Moving on, it turned out we were both single as of 8 months ago. I knew I was going back to Arizona in a few months so I really wasn't looking for anything more than a friendship. He didn't want anything serious either. Except, you know what happens to plans? Yeah. It got serious. So in September we drove cross-country together from PA to AZ to take me, my car, and my belongings back to ASU.

Denver, CO - one of our stops on our cross-country trip

One of Shawn's trips to AZ
One of my trips home to PA

At this point we were both a little hesitant since our relationship was so new. Long distance after only dating a couple months? Yeah right. I still had 1.5 years of college left (I was on the 5 year plan since I transferred and lost a ton of credits). But, it worked. I flew home and/or he flew to Arizona each month. The long distance sucked but we made it work. We got through it. It wasn't easy, but we did it. And now we're married, so overall I'd call that a success story.

Shawn is the most hard-working, motivated, and self-sufficient person I have ever met in my entire life. He has drive like you wouldn't believe. The word "can't" does not exist in his vocabulary. Failure is not an option for him. Like I said, he's a rule-breaker and does not let anyone hold him back. He has given me motivation and drive that I didn't even know I had in me. He makes me want to be a better person. We balance each other out like crazy yet in some ways we are so similar it's scary. I married Shawn not only for the man he is today, but for the father I know he will be in the future. Our story is still relatively new, but I am really looking forward to all the chapters yet to come.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Back Stories

On my way to work on yesterday morning I kept thinking about my husband and how I wanted to write a blog post about him, and about us. Before I get into our story, here is each of our back stories.

Her Story
I was born and raised in the upper-middle class suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. My senior year of high school I decided I needed a change. I was sick of suburbia and wanted to experience the real world. So, I started my college years at Temple University (in the heart of North Philadelphia - about as diverse and opposite of suburbia as it comes). I was at Temple for two years before I decided to follow my high school boyfriend to Arizona State University. After over four years of being together, we promptly broke up about three months after I arrived in the Grand Canyon State (that is totally an entire blog post for another day).

Fast forward three more months, and I turned the wonderful age of 21 in February. Being newly single and newly legal, I went through quite a party girl stage. Needless to say, once the semester let out in May and I was back home in Pennsylvania for the summer, I was on the loose ready to have a little fun. The very last thing on my mind was a boyfriend and I was solely focused on having fun with my friends.

I had re-figured my life out after my original plan to be with my high school boyfriend 4eva fell through (thank the LORD because honestly, what was I thinking?). You see, I'm a planner by nature, so I had it all set that I was swearing off guys and was going to wait until after college to start dating anyone again. Funny thing about plans? They don't always work out. 

Me, Summer 2007

His Story
Shawn's story starts in North Carolina. He was literally raised on a farm and is a true country boy at heart. He had never loved his hometown and knew he had to get out. He was ready for a change. A friend offered him a job in Annapolis, Maryland so he packed up and left. Literally, he was offered the job on a Tuesday, quit his current job on a Friday, and moved to Maryland on a Sunday. That's Shawn's style. He's a rebel (sexy right?).

His mama always told him not to join the military (he joined without even consulting with her first and let her know he was leaving for boot camp in a matter of days), don't fly on airplanes because they crash (he was Airborne in the Army and not only flew on planes but jumped out of them), and don't marry a Yankee girl (just kidding on that one...I hope). Anyway. He quickly proved himself and moved up the ranks in the company and was offered a promotion in Pennsylvania. Not one to turn an opportunity down, he took the offer and began living in a hotel in the suburbs of Philadelphia where he knew no one. He didn't really have a plan except to succeed, and that's all he really needed.

Shawn, Summer 2007

Check back tomorrow for the story on how we met...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday

I haven't had too much to say lately, so instead I'm linking up with Lauren @ the little things we do for a little fun! 

1.   The best thing I did all week was try a Zumba class!

2.  Weekends make me super happy.

3.  Pets are equal to family. 

4.  My little family is the best thing about my life.

5.  With the cooler weather I am looking forward to lazy Sundays in sweatpants watching football.

6.  Something that's on my "wish list" right now is clothes that fit! I barely have any since I've lost weight.

7.  This weekend I am going to attend a good friend's wedding and go to an amusement park with my husband (weather permitting).

Monday, September 19, 2011


I'm going to preface this blog post by making a shocking announcement. Are you ready? Brace yourselves...

For the past 8 weeks I have been going to see a counselor.

Shock. Gasp. Ohmygosh. Are you judging me? Are you over it? Okay, good. Let's move on.

Now that we've cleared the air, I want to talk about one of my sessions. It involved a conversation about the word should.

"I should go to the gym."
"I should eat a salad for dinner instead of a big greasy cheeseburger."
"I should go back to school to get my Master's degree."

Do any of these sound familiar? I can't be the only one plaguing my life with should's.

Now let's examine how much of a negative connotation this word holds. By labeling things we should or should not do, we are basically setting ourselves up for failure. We're making whatever that thing we should(n't) be doing so!negative! and we are completely criticizing ourselves in the process. Why would we do that to ourselves?

I say we stop making excuses. If you don't want to go to the gym or eat a salad for dinner, own it. If a healthy lifestyle is one you're after, great. One off day now and again isn't going to throw your plan completely off if you've truly committed yourself to a goal. I actually believe if you deprive yourself of things you want to eat but "shouldn't" then you're more likely to derail your overall plan than if you give in one time. (Disclaimer: I'm fully aware everyone is different. I'm only speaking for myself here.)

Anyway. I'm on a mission to rid myself of the should's in my life. Here is my new goal: either do it, or don't do it. It's a waste of time and breath exclaiming what I should be doing. No more excuses. I'm going to stop setting myself up for failure and I'm going to start owning my decisions. This is an important step I'm taking on my quest for gratitude and latitude. I'm going to accept my flaws and be grateful for the choices I'm allowed to make.

Is anyone with me? Ready. Go.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


According to, latitude is defined a couple different ways...

1. Geography .

a. the angular distance north or south from the equator of a point on the earth's surface, measured on the meridian of the point.
b. a place or region as marked by this distance.
2. freedom from narrow restrictions; freedom of action, opinion, etc.
Both of these definitions mean a great deal to me.
I'm a traveler. I'll go anywhere you ask me to go with a smile on my face. One of my favorite places I've ever been is Annapolis, MD.
Downtown Annapolis Sunset

 Annapolis holds many favorable memories for me. It's the first place my husband ever took me on a trip.
One of our first pictures together in June 2007, Annapolis, MD
It's also a place that I've met some wonderful people who have become amazing friends. Annapolis is a different atmosphere and I love the nautical feel and old town appeal. Most of all, it's beautiful. All of the above reasons and more are why Shawn and I consider this one of our favorite places to go.
So one day in 2009 while driving around, we started joking about getting "matching" tattoos. We quickly nixed getting names or dates but still wanted to do something meaningful. We decided on the latitude & longitude of Annapolis, MD.

His ribs
My foot (needs retouching, don't judge)

The second definition of latitude goes deeper than a place and numerical coordinates. Freedom. To me, this means freedom to be who we are truly capable of being and accepting who we truly are. Letting go of the restrictions that hold us back whether they be physical, mental, emotional, whatever. Sometimes our latitude is where we need the most help. It's where we're slacking but have the ability to better ourselves. It's also where we recognize our shortcomings and accept ourselves for who we really are, flaws and all.

Both definitions of latitude include a journey and a destination. One is physical while the other is more spiritual. Both of these are important in my life and I'm grateful for all of my "travels" whether they be external or internal.

What does latitude mean to you? Have you ever thought about it as the second definition?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


My friend Carly started a gratitude journal a while back. I always found it to be such a great and inspiring idea, but just never made it to the office supply store to buy myself a notebook (um, lazy much?).

On September 11, 2011 - the 10 year anniversary of our nation's tragedy - I watched along with the rest of the world tear-jerking video clips, memorials, documentaries, and even commercials that paid respect to the heroes and victims of that infamous day. It really has a way of smacking you in the face and making everyone pull together for our nation, doesn't it? It also served as a great reminder of everything I have to be thankful for and how blessed I truly am. I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I need a wake up call to make me realize I shouldn't take anything for granted.

This is the day I decided to finally start my gratitude journal. I guess if there was a day worth waiting for, this would be it. So now, every night before I go to bed, I jot down three things that I was grateful for that day. Sometimes it's silly things like a hot shower, and sometimes it's more meaningful like a person or a feeling. Whatever the three things may be, they are a nice reminder of what I have, how far I've come, and where I'd like to go. Not every day is going to be a good day, I know this. But I like that with this journal I am forced to stop and think of a few happy things even after I have a rough day.

Do you have a special way of reminding yourself of what made you happy each day? Do you blog about it, journal about it, or just keep it locked in your memory?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Awkward First Post

Welcome to my first awkward blog post. Hopefully this will also serve as my last awkward post since I'm planning on sticking around and doing the whole blog thing for a while (and hoping to get more of a flow going, ya know). I can't promise you that you'll find any of what I have to say interesting, but I can promise you that this will serve as a great outlet and memory box for me. I've been contemplating starting a blog for over a year now and finally built up the courage to do so with a little push from some awesome blog ladies (Katie, Susan, Lyryn - oh hey!) that I've enjoyed following.

So here we go, I'll try and make this as painless as possible...

I'm Ashley. I'm 25 and married to a handsome Southern gentleman named Shawn. He plays guitar and his accent comes out when he's mad. I like to talk a lot. I'm obsessed with my dog Isaac and I treat him like he's a real baby (yeah, we're those people). I'm a lover of all-thing-Philadelphia, especially the Phillies. I've moved across the country and back again but I have learned that no matter where I go, my heart is where my home is. Guacamole is my favorite food. Sometimes I have really nice things to say but don't say them the right way and they come out completely wrong. I'm working on that one. I'm a Christian who is trying to find her way. I don't know all of the versus and I haven't read all of the books of the Bible, but I'm working on that one too. I'm a control freak who is learning to let go. I'm a firm believer that a smiling, happy face is a beautiful face. I want to remember all of the things I have to be grateful for and never forget how far I've come. So, here goes nothing...