December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne, 2009

Can you believe that in a few hours it will be 2010?! It's so crazy to me.

2009 was the most defining and life-changing year that I've known in my 24 years. That's a pretty amazing feeling; being able to pinpoint a year on your life map that marks you as a different person. I can't express what it means to become a mother. 2009 will forever be the year that I became less about myself, more motivated to be a role model, less "free" but totally fulfilled. It's the year that my marriage grew stronger when it could have crumbled (having a baby will do that). It's the year that I grew in friendships that are priceless to me; and it's the year that God became real to me, because I saw him perform the miracle of life right before my eyes.

January
I was toward the end of my pregnancy and didn't have much to say. I was so ready to meet my baby!

February
I wrote a letter to my daughter. Not long after, I met Evy Kate for the first time. Life changing.

March
Evy had a big visit from the Lancaster side of the family!

April
We spent Spring Break in Cape and Easter in Ripley, having a wonderful time with our precious families.

May
I celebrated my first Mother's Day and Evy was dedicated to the Lord.

June
Kurt and I both celebrated our birthdays (my 24th and his 29th), and our 2nd wedding anniversary. These were celebrated by going to Texas to see my extended family! The main goal of the trip was to get a 5 generation picture with my great-grandmother, Nan.

July
We spent time in Ripley and Kurt and I went with my family to see Wicked in Memphis!

August
I shared my purpose for blogging, and found a blog post that totally captured in words how I was feeling about motherhood at the time.

September
I snapped pictures of my ever-growing Evy Katie and shared my random love for the Indian culture.

October
I explored parenting philosophies and Evy survived The Swine. I shared my love of lullabies. Also, Nana and Poppy visited! Evy experienced the pumpkin patch for the very first time.

November
I took Evy to one of the parks in Cape Girardeau for some fall photos. I indulged and went to the midnight showing of New Moon. We celebrated Thanksgiving as a family of three!

December
We have celebrated Christmas (recaps to come) and are currently finishing our Holiday Tour in Texas. And now, I'm sitting here minutes away from 2010. As I type this, it just seems like the year has flown.

There are many things that I could say about my first year as a parent; Evy's first year of life. And some of it would be nostalgic. But instead of sadness, I have really made a concerted effort this year to just enjoy it. I've had my moments of stress and being completely exhausted, but one thing I'm proud of is that I've tried to savor Evy's first year. Plus, so many things are happening to us in 2010: Evy's first birthday, watching my dad run the Boston marathon, MOVING, Kurt finishing residency, and finally putting down roots as a family in our new hometown.

As far as resolutions, I'm constantly working on my 101 in 1001, and I recently added some goals as far as organizing our photos. I also need to lose some weight.

But honestly, I'm not stressing over the resolutions. I have a healthy, happy baby and a wonderful husband. If it's one thing I've come to realize this year, it's that those things are the most important. I've been so blessed this year; beyond measure!

Cheers and blessings to you in 2010!

December 28, 2009

Miscellany

Kurt and I were able to go to Memphis for the day! It's about an hour away from where Kurt's parents live, so Mrs. Pam kept Evy and we went to spend a few gift cards that we had on hand. It was really great to be together, but of course something had to go wrong. I got a slight case of vertigo (dizziness/nausea) that I just couldn't shake. It was horrible! I was able to buy some things, but by the end of the day, I just had to sleep it off the entire way home. Thankfully I seem to be over it, but my dad is going to bring me some medicine just in case tomorrow (he and I have both had cases of vertigo before). In case you've fogotten, we're meeting up with my family tomorrow (again in Memphis), so Evy and I can travel to Texas to see my relatives there, while Kurt has to go back to Jackson to work (DEPRESSING). I'm just praying tomorrow flies by.

In between dizzy spells, I did get some super cute things today! I couldn't find pictures of them to post, but they'll probably make some appearances in pictures. :) I also got 3 new pairs of jeans at Old Navy. I meant to put this in my answer to where I shop, but I only buy jeans at Old Navy. I've tried other places, and always go back to old faithful! Plus, I got each pair today for $19 each. You can't beat that! I got a cute animal print jacket from Forever 21 that's a little snug but it was too cute not to get. Ha!
I do want to say what a wonderful mother in law I have. Just like my own mom, she is always willing to take care of Evy so I can have a little break, and I don't have to worry about anything--it's such a relief for a little bit! She also sews the cutest outfits for Evy, and tailors anything that we need for our own clothes. I am so blessed to have married into this family! It's been wonderful to spend time with everyone.
I still feel weird not having done a Christmas recap, but I know it will get done once I'm home. I hate packing and unpacking, which is what I need to be doing right now, for the third and final installment of our Christmas Around the World Tour. Next year it will be really nice, because we'll live in the same town as my parents, and scheduling/traveling won't be as grueling. We'll only make one trip to see the Lancasters and that will be IT (well, unless we do a Texas gig again!). It's so strange to think that next Christmas we'll be all moved into our new house and we'll have started our lives there. It's exciting, but something I just can't wrap my mind around.
Pray for non-stressful traveling (if there is such a thing with a 10.5 month old)!!

Congratulations!

If you read this blog for 2 seconds, you'll probably see something about my dear friend Carrie and her little girl, Aubrey. I can finally announce that Aubrey is going to be a big sister!!! Congratulations Carrie, David, and Aubrey! I can't wait to come visit your new little one this summer!

December 27, 2009

Traditions Revisited and A Resolution

Well, it's been a busy Christmas celebration, and it's not over yet! We'll be heading to Texas on Tuesday to see my Dad's side of the family. I'm so, so excited!! However, I'm praying that Evy will be somewhat cooperative on the LONG car ride ahead. Eeesh. Oh, and I will be able to post my recap of everything once I'm home the first week of January. I hate that it won't happen until then, but maybe that will remind me of all the Christmas cheer :)

Now that we've done our first Christmas with Evy, I've thought more about what I want our traditions to look like. I realized over this weekend that I crave some predictability around the holidays, and traditions are extremely important to me. For some reason, this Christmas really solidifed my need for Kurt, Evy, and I to have special things that we will do every year. So, here is my list of traditions that we hope to incorporate from now on:

Sometime in December:
  • Look at Christmas lights in pajamas
  • Bake and decorate Christmas cookies
  • Watch the classic animations, Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut, White Christmas, and Disney's A Christmas Carol
  • Observe Advent
  • Host a party (or two!)
  • Attend the Cape Girardeau Christmas Parade
  • Sponsor an Angel Tree child
  • Send out a Christmas card and letter

Christmas Eve:

  • Watch one of the classic holiday movies with hot chocolate and snacks
  • Leave out milk and cookies for Santa
  • Read the Christmas story
  • Attend the Christmas Eve service (if possible)
  • Open family gifts
  • Wear a new pair of Christmas pajamas

Christmas Day:

  • Santa gifts and stockings
  • Have breakfast together as a family

I know there are more that will probably come to mind, but I think this is a reasonable list to aim for. Christmas is too important to me for it to be unpredictable and chaotic. I look forward to these traditions as our family grows!

On my 101 in 1001 goals list, I left room for a goal that was to be determined. I've settled on what that should be! My goal is to print out pictures for albums and also create digital photobooks from the time Kurt and I met (which was 4 years ago). I'm going to try and do a "year in pictures" book for each year, just hitting the highlights of the year. This is a lengthy and lofty goal, but I feel like organizing my pictures would really make me feel better. So that's what I'm going to start working on! Kurt's mom is coming to visit for a weekend in January, and I plan on starting then. Which program do you recommend using for photobooks? I like Shutterfly, but I want to know what else is out there and how they compare. So your opinions are needed!

I hope you're enjoying the last days of 2009!

December 26, 2009

Happy New Year to ME!

My sister in law recently told me about Half.com, a great place to get used books, movies, etc. It's owned by Ebay, and you always get a very clear description of what you're getting. So, I recently ordered these happies for myself:











Emma is one of my favorite movies, and I got it for $5! The books usually retail for $40-$60, and I got them for around $10 or less. Amazing! This will really help inspire my love of all things neutral. I can't wait to have these on my coffee table to look through!

Ashley Answers, Part 11

Can you share your testimony?

I was born not only into a Christian home, but into a Christian heritage. I can't express how much of a blessing I know that is. I was immersed in learning about Jesus literally from birth. I remember my first Bible. The pictures are still etched in my memory! For instance, this is the story of Elisha, and how the woman made a room for him to stay in. This picture had such an impact on me, it confirmed my calling to be a hospitable hostess at all times. Haha! Not really, but I did go on my grandfather's TV show at the time at the age of 2 or 3 and tell the whole story of Elisha (and made sure he knew it wasn't ELIJAH). The story ended with Prince Charming finding Cinderella and giving her the glass slipper back.

Anyway, I was surrounded by it. My first remembrance of realizing Jesus' sacrifice for me was when I was about 5 and watched a video of our former church, First Baptist Orlando's, production called "The Light." It was the story of Christ with drama and music, and like a Broadway production. When Jesus was crucified, I remember sobbing to my mom and saying "But he didn't do anything wrong."

Not long after that, when I was 6, I accepted Christ as my Savior. My mom knelt with me by our couch in Oklahoma and I expressed to the Lord that I wanted Him to be in my heart. I wasn't baptized until I was 9, because my dad wasn't the senior pastor at our church in Oklahoma, and I had a phobia of walking to someone that wasn't my dad! Deep, I know.

So at Lynwood (the first time my family served there), I was baptized by my dad. It was something I'll never forget. When I was about 12, my family was at the Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico and I had a crisis of faith moment. I was crying in bed, because I just felt the need to nail down my salvation with the Lord, which I did.

Throughout junior high and high school I was always involved in church and never wandered from the Lord. However, I have struggled throughout my entire Christian life with really studying God's Word and having a quiet time. For some reason, I just lacked the discipline, and it was (and sometimes still is) something I'm ashamed of. It's nothing but laziness and sheer complacency.

I'm a sinner, and of course I've done and said things that I'm not proud of, which I will not enumerate on this blog. The list would never end. I've claimed the grace and forgiveness of Christ more times than should be allowed a human being. Do you ever feel that way? No, I never struggled with drugs, alcohol, or even necessarily a time of rebellion, but Satan knows where to attack you. He is so specific in knowing where your weaknesses are. And trust me, he tries His best to get to me. All the time.

Last fall, when was newly pregnant with Evy, I heard a sermon at church by our interim pastor (my family had recently moved). It was about confirming your salvation. Something in me clicked that if I was going to be a parent and steer a child in the way of the Lord, I needed to get with it. You can read my post that I wrote at the time HERE. It explains everything. But, in a nutshell, I recommitted by life to Christ in the fall of 2008.

I still struggle with having a time with the Lord, but I'll be honest with you. This might be shocking, but I don't think a quiet time is the end-all be-all of the Christian journey. Yes, we should commune with God and be still to let Him speak. But I've found that since becoming a mother I've had the most deep, meaningful experiences with God. You can't have a child (whether it be biologically, through adoption, etc.) without seeing a miracle of God. It is absolutely life-changing. My moments with God come very organically, if that's the right word. For instance, I look at Evy Kate when she's sleeping and I cry. "Lord!" I think to myself, "My heart can't contain the love I have for this child!" And then I'll just sense: "Ashley. This is just a fraction of how much I love you. I sent my Son--that my heart can't contain love for--to die for you because I love you that much." I'm sorry, folks. You can't get that from a devotional book.

So that's where I am today. That's the condensed version, because I've had many spiritually defining moments in my life, but that's the gist. I used to think that since I don't have this horrid past, I didn't have a testimony. No. I think I'm an example to someone who thinks, "I've never done anything awful. I don't need a Savior." Everyone needs a Savior. Even if you can't grasp your sin problem, at the very least you must be desiring an abundant life here on earth. And trust me, that's what He gives. If you aren't sure about where you stand with the Lord, or have any questions about what I've written, please email me. God has been so faithful to me!

What is the one thing you turn to, if you ever feel like your faith is tested or you need spiritual uplifting?
"Streams in the Desert" is a devotional book that I believe is truly God-breathed and anointed. Life is hard. Every day. And this little book always has the perfect word for me. Also, if you're looking to start studying the Bible, I recommend Beth Moore, especially for the demographic of women that read my blog. She's conversational, funny, but incredibly deep. I recommend her study "Jesus the One and Only." It gives you such a wonderful depth on the life and heart of Jesus. At the very least, buy a member book for about $15 or so and work through it on your own (that's what I do). Or start a group at your church. You can also try your church library. Sometimes they'll have Bible studies that you can check out, which includes the DVD's or audio CD's of her sessions. Those are great places to start!

I was SO happy and pleased to answer these questions! Always feel free to ask a question or email me if I mention something on my blog that you're curious about, or if you're just wondering :) I felt that this was an appropriate end to my "Answers" series because this is the most important thing we can talk about on this blog---salvation through Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with Him. This isn't a blog that is solely devoted to spiritual matters, but I hope you always sense a thread of that running through it. I am not a perfect person, and I do not always represent Jesus well. But hopefully you can look past my faults and see that Jesus is "all the world to me" as the hymn goes. Thank you again for your interest in me and our family---lots of love to everyone! :)

December 25, 2009

Ashley Answers, Part 10

Random question: Where do you like to shop for clothes?
I have been getting most of my things lately from Marshall's. Oddly, I hardly ever find anything at TJ Maxx. I love Target, but it's hit or miss to me. I rarely shop for myself. Since the baby has been born, my body type has completely changed (or so it feels to me) and it's been difficult to find things that I think are flattering. If I'm able to spend a little more, I like The Limited. For trends, I love Forever 21 because it's not too expensive, and I don't feel guilty if it goes out of style. But since we don't have one in town, I usually have to wait until we're in Dallas to go (and I will definitely be hitting it up next week!).

I'm in a weird place with clothes, because I'm still trying to define and figure out what my personal style even is. I gravitate toward classic things that are a little eclectic/trendy. I love chunky cocktail rings and headbands. That's how I try to keep things stylish. Right now, I'm in a weird place, because the things I gravitate toward are "young and stylish," but I also desire to be "polished and sophisticated." So I feel like I'm always balancing between the two.

We're on a very tight budget while in residency. Once we're able, one thing I'm going to treat myself to is some shopping for myself. I need to just have a day where I can take my time, not be rushed, and just really have time to breathe. I also have a hard time, because I want to lose more weight. I hate spending money on things that aren't the size I'm wanting to be! Grrr.

That's a really long answer for a really short question!

Ashley Answers, Part 9

Where all have you lived? What were some of the things you liked about each place?
I have lived in 5 states in my 24.5 years of life. Fun fact: each of my siblings were born in a different state! Here they are:

Dallas/Fort Worth Texas: This is where I was born (see my Recollections and Memories blog for more), and where a lot of my family lives. Both of my parents' relatives originate here, and most are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. My great grandmother lives in South Texas still. I love Texas! It's a unique entity unto itself. It's like no other state. I feel very at home there, and it's such a joy to visit. In fact, I get to go next week! Aside from visiting my sweet family, this is where I shop for unique "home" things. I love the unique shopping!

Orlando, Florida: I lived here from the time I was 6 months to 4 years old. My sister Alyssa was born here. We lived minutes from Disney World, and it's where some of my first memories are. My dad was the College Pastor at First Baptist Orlando. I also associate some of my first spiritual memories with this church, which you'll read in my next (and last) Answers post, which is coming tomorrow. I remember the weather, the orange trees in our backyard (we had fresh orange juice!), and watching Robin Hood with my dad in that house (random...). And, like I said, Disney World was a recurring theme--haha! We'd go to Epcot just for lunch, because my parents had friends who would sign us in. So much fun!

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma: We lived here from the time I was 4 to 8 years old. Oklahoma is really unique. It has a big Native American influence. My brother Will was born here. A big memory I have is going to church, First Baptist Broken Arrow, where my dad was Associate Pastor (and Pastor Nick is still the Senior Pastor!). This is where I remember Sunday School, Childrens' Choir, and "big church" for the first time. Another big memory that sticks out to me is a drama team that came to our church. We walked into the sanctuary, and the platform was completely trashed. It looked like a warzone. Then, the song "People Need the Lord" came on, and the drama team, dressed as homeless people, came out from amongst the trash. They interpreted the lyrics to the song, and I remember being very moved, even as a very young child. This reminds me that children are SO impressionable! I went to school at Leisure Park Elementary, and had wonderful memories there. I remember realizing that I loved art, reading, and using my imagination. This is where I remember Christmas for the first time, especially decorating the tree as a family. It was a great place to live.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri: Obviously, this is probably a place you're getting familiar with, because I mention it a lot! We lived here from the time I was 8-14 years old. I consider it my hometown. My parents also moved BACK 18 months ago, so it's "home" again. Kurt and I will be moving here in the spring/summer. This was a very defining place to live for me. It's in Southeast Missouri, which isn't the "north" but it's definitely not the "south." I love the people, the city of "Cape" (as everyone calls it) and the memories I have here. This is where my baby sister Andrea was born. Every time I'm here, I drive by my old schools and my old house. Lynwood (which I consider my home church) is so special to me, and I can't wait to serve there again. I could go on and on, but in a nutshell, it's home and I love it. :)

Jackson, Mississippi: This is where my family most recently lived. We moved to Jackson when I was 14, and I will live here with Kurt until this summer. It's the longest amount of time I've ever lived anywhere, but I have never connected with the "south." My friends tease me about this, like I'm too cool to be Southern or something, but I'm just being honest! It's not something I relate to. I will always have fond memories and associations with Jackson, like meeting and marrying Kurt, and of course having Evy. I will also always be sentimental about our first home. I've learned a lot here. My most valued experience (aside from marriage and a child) was definitely high school. I went to Jackson Academy, and it was an amazing high school experience. I made lifelong friends, and my teachers are precious to me. I also spent some time at Mississippi College, where I also learned a lot about life and myself. So, I wouldn't trade living in Mississippi for anything, but I know that I'm meant to settle in another area, if that makes sense.

A lot of people ask me if it was hard to be a pastor's daughter and move so much, but I never knew any different. I consider it an honor and privilege to be my father's daughter, and that wouldn't change no matter what he does for a living. It has its hard moments, for sure, but I've never resented it--not for one second. As far as moving often, we only moved (on average) every 4-5 years, so it didn't feel like we were constantly on the move. It forced me to build relationships, learn to adjust to change, and develop a deep love for my family. Again, it's all I've ever known. I wouldn't know what to do if my parents lived in the same house my whole life--haha!

So that's basically a map of where I've been. And I really do love each place!

Christmas Blessings

And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!


Merry Christmas from our family!

December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve!

Here are pictures from our family Christmas. It was Evy's first, and it was so special!










Along with our new computer, Kurt got me the movie Up! (Which I loved!)

Then he surprised me with the whole Red Currant fragrance collection by Votivo. I have been talking about this for FOREVER, and he remembered! This is the one little piece of Jackson I'm taking with me. The scent is Northeast Jackson (the kind of snobby part of town) in a bottle, but I just adore it.




For his Christmas, I surprised Kurt a few weekends ago with a stay at the Fairview Inn here in town. It's an old mansion, and it's beautiful!


IT SNOWED the night we were there!!


Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

December 23, 2009

Ashley Answers, Part 8

What did you create the slideshow with? I've been wanting to do something like this for awhile, but never knew what to use to create it!
I made the slideshow using Windows DVD Maker. It came on our new computer. I still wish I could show everyone the original, but I had trouble uploading to a sharing website like YouTube or Vimeo. But hopefully you got the jist!

Where did you shop for most of your maternity clothes? looking back through your archives you always dressed so cute! :)
Thank you for the compliment, because I always felt like I was not a "cute pregnant person!" I got jeans at Motherhood Maternity, but for my next pregnancy I'm going to invest in some nice maternity jeans. We didn't have a GAP Maternity, so I'll be going to St. Louis next go-around for that. Some friends let me borrow a few dresses. A lot of the time I would buy non-maternity tops that still fit. Thankfully tunic-type tops were (and still pretty much are) in style! Like I said, because I'll be able to afford nicer jeans next time, that's the one thing I'll pay more money for. I found that maternity jeans were either too tight with the elastic around my tummy (I HATE having things cutting into my stomach!) or they were falling down to my knees if it was the under-belly elastic style. So if it's one thing you invest in: Jeans!

As a side note, I didn't gain very much during my pregnancy with Evy (I think 25-30 pounds was my total, which included 7 pounds being Evy), but I'm still going to try and gain less with my next pregnancies. I wasn't even eating badly or all that much; I just need to be more conscious of things the next time(s) around. Now that Evy has been born, losing the last of the baby weight has been difficult. But I'm also trying to get below what I was when I got pregnant, so I have a little more to lose. So learn from me and really try to watch your weight in pregnancy. Obviously you have (and should) gain some, but it's not necessary to gain a ton. So we'll see how I do next time!

Our Wedding in Pictures

After 2.5 years, I was finally able to put together a slideshow of my wedding pictures that I was pleased with. I am so thrilled with it, and was dying to share it with you! However.....

1. It was 12 minutes, which is too long for YouTube.
2. Even though I shortened the slideshow, YouTube wouldn't play the appropriate music because of copyright laws.
3. I couldn't find my favorite version of What a Wonderful World, by Renee Olstead on Playlist.

So, here's the deal. The slideshow is a shortened version, and I had to use a different "What a Wonderful World." I picked Celine Dion, because I love Celine. She's a good second choice. So here's what you need to do:

1. Pause my regular playlist in the right column. (Poppy, it's the button with two lines on it--hee hee.)
2. Here in this post, click on Wedding Slideshow playlist. Let it play for about 15 seconds, then start playing the YouTube slideshow. Everything won't line up perfectly, but it will give you (kind of) the effect of the real DVD. I'm so frustrated I can't show you the real thing! If anyone knows how to host a slideshow DVD I've created on something besides Vimeo or YouTube, do share.

Let me know what you think!



Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Ashley Answers, Part 7

What are some of your favorite books or which ones do you recommend?
Reading is one of my very favorite things in the world! This list could go on for ages, but here are some of my top favorites:
-The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. Cliche and bandwagon-y, I know. But I was astounded at how much I loved these books. I just got the two that I didn't have in hardcover for Christmas. I've defended the vampire thing on this blog before, so if you think it's evil, simply don't comment on this post. :) But this is a great example of how reading can provide an escape and such a "scope for the imagination" as Anne Shirley would say.
-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. If you're going to read a classic, this is a great story.
-Alabaster Doves by Linda Holland. These are true stories of women martyrs of the faith. It's actually not depressing; it's extremely inspiring. It's not your typical history, but it leaves you educated.
-The Ashley Stockingdale series by Kristin Billerbeck (includes What a Girl Wants, She's Out of Control, and With This Ring, I'm Confused). These are hands-down some of the funniest books I've ever read. They're Christian fiction, by Kristin has a wonderful, engaging writing style that everyone can relate to. I was reading this on a plane and laughed out loud. Embarrassing but worth it.
-The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. If you're not familiar with Corrie Ten Boom, who hid Jews from the Nazis and survived a concentration camp, you must read this book immediately. It's our responsibility to learn about and remember the Holocaust. The most inspiring thing about this book--and what keeps it from being totally depressing--is Corrie's unbelievable faith and relationship with the Lord, even as a Jew.
-Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Probably my favorite book (I can't believe I'm committing to one). It's by far the most life-changing one that I've ever read. It retells the book of Hosea in the Bible, which I personally was not familiar with. I want you to read this book if it's the last thing you do. It's THAT good!

If you end up reading any of these books because of my recommendation, please tell me what you think after you finish them! Of course there are a million more, but this gives you a pretty diverse list.

How long did you breastfeed? I hope that is not TMI but I have a 6 month old son and I am trying to decide what is the best time to wean!
Definitely not TMI! I planned on nursing Evy for one year and no later (personal choice). At 9 months, she really started to lose interest. I tried everything to get her to continue, and I even plowed through because I thought it was a phase. But when it ended up causing me incredible stress and made her frustrated, we just ended up fighting with it until we were both exhausted. So, at 9 months, we stopped nursing. I had one emotional moment where I cried and felt sad. However, it ended up being the perfect timing, and we're both so much happier now. I didn't resent nursing, and it was something that I felt was important. However, it was not the end-all be-all. I felt that if we got past 6 months, anything extra would be a huge bonus. I think it was actually the best that she weaned herself. I wasn't "taking anything away" from her, and there was no turmoil. It was pretty gradual, without me even meaning to. We would start using a bottle if she was particularly fighting it (that was our last resort), so to go completely to the bottle was not a big change. My mom told me that a baby will usually give signals if they're wanting to stop, which is exactly what Evy did. Now, I do believe that at some point, you need to be the parent and make the decision. For us, it was 9 months. Find the balance between doing what is best for your child and also what works for you and your family. Of course, email me if anyone wants to talk more about this!

December 22, 2009

Ashley Answers, Part 6

Do you plan to homeschool Evy or send her to public/private schools? I know there are great private schools in the Cape area...
As of right now, I'm comfortable sharing that we are feeling drawn to homeschooling. There is so much I could say about this. We're in a unique position because we know what our schooling options will be for when we move. I will say upfront that Kurt was in public school, and I experienced public, private, and a year of homeschooling. So we come from every place possible when considering the options.

I'm in the process of researching and reading, and of course praying, about what we need to do. I will definitely share what I find as I feel comfortable and more confident with it. I really never thought I'd be interested in homeschooling. Honestly, I knew I might enjoy the time during the day that my kids are at school to get things done. However, when Evy was born, something happened in my heart, and I sensed the value in possibly learning at home. Spiritual and cultural issues aside, the practicality of it appeals to me. We desire to travel, and this will provide many teaching opportunities as well as allow us to travel during the school year. These are just a few of many things we're considering. What sold Kurt was looking at curriculum. I ordered some free catalogs just out of curiosity, and we were really inspired looking at them. Kurt was impressed that it's not just some random, mismatched thing that you teach (as if I could ever do something random and mismatched). Homeschooling allows you to tailor the education of your child as you see fit. Again, I will share so much more about this at a later time.

Finally, I want to make sure everyone knows that I do not believe homeschooling is for everyone! This is just something that, as of right now, seems to fit our needs the best. But we are always seeking God, and if He leads us to send our children to public or private school, we'll gladly and happily do that!

Will Kurt work at Southeast Hospital or St. Francis?
Kurt will be working at St. Francis Medical Center.

December 21, 2009

Ashley Answers, Part 5

What does Evy like to eat?
She's still on baby food. My pediatrician (who I adore) and I talked about table food and we're just slowly transitioning to it. No special reason. . .we're just taking it slow! Part of the reason is that Evy loves to cram food in her mouth but then forgets to chew and swallow--ha! But she's getting the hang of it! I was starting to think she was super behind because I was reading about kids around her age having full-on kids' meals at restaurants! But we're doing it on our own timetable, and I'm fine with that!

What is your favorite thing to cook?
Honestly, cooking isn't a hobby I'm terribly interested in. I CAN cook; I just don't love it. For awhile I thought that was just horrible--I mean, shouldn't I love to cook? But I'm owning the fact that it's just okay. I make a good apricot chicken, poppyseed chicken, and brisket. I have the horrible habit of getting into a dinner rotation and never branching out. EVER. Now, Kurt. . .he is a wonderful cook. He's really started experimenting with seasoning, grilling, roasting. . .I am put to shame! But it's something that he's interested in, and he enjoys cooking. So it's not like he walks in the door and I force him to cook! :)

What are your plans for Evy's 1st birthday?
We are going to have two family parties; one at Kurt's parents' and another at mine. We'll probably invite family friends to both, or maybe just keep it family. I'm not sure yet! If we were to host a party here, the guest list would include people from so many different places, plus family; it was just be crowded and awkward (in my pessimistic opinion--ha!). I love throwing a good party, but I think it'll be easier on me to just celebrate with family this year.

What would you say are the 3 must haves for a new mom?
-To help me nurse, the Medela nursing shield.
-A game plan for sleep training (it doesn't make you a monster; it's a gift to everyone involved).
-A piece of baby gear that contains your baby (pack n play, Bumbo seat, or our favorites, the vibrating bouncy Boppy seat and Exersaucer).
What did you buy Evy for Christmas?
Someone in our church gave us a couple of great toys to give her:

Laugh and Learn Baby Grand Piano (fitting, since I play the piano)
Laugh and Learn House:
We bought her a Fisher Price play stroller so that she work on walking when the time comes:
We got her the Egermeier's Bible Story Book. I will mention this in an upcoming post, but these are the illustrations that I associate with first learning about Jesus. I bought it immediately when I found it at Lifeway, because those are my first memories of the Bible!

We also got her a Bible Stories board book that she can play with without tearing the pages. She already loves it!

I found The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Gyo Fugikawa. It's a Japanese/1950's style. Sounds odd, but it's so adorable!


A new pink cell phone, because she wore the batteries out of her old one!

In her stocking were 2 new paci's. I hate paci's with writing on them ("My mom is hot," anyone?). These are animal print and not too outrageous. Pretty cute, actually!

I'll show pictures of our Christmas once I'm home from traveling! :)

What is Kurt's schedule going to be like when y'all move?
It will be night and day from what it is now. He will still have very early mornings, but he'll get done much earlier in the day. Basically, there's about 10 people in the anesthesia group that he has signed with. It's a constant rotation schedule. About every 8 days, he'll be on call for epidurals, etc. The major difference is that he gets to take call from HOME!! Right now he has to stay at the hospital for his 16 or 24 hour shifts. We'll be living about 3 minutes from the hospital, so his commute will be non-existent. There's a health center in the hospital, so he'll be able to work out on premises, meaning less time away from us. Another big difference is that as an anesthesiologist, he'll be supervising multiple surgeries happening at the same time. The nurse anesthetists will actually be in the surgeries. That's why he's gone to school for so long; he's called in for major emergencies. The biggest blessing: around 11.5 weeks of vacation. This will allow us to see Kurt's family often, as well as travel when budget allows (we want to make a serious dent in paying off student loans, etc. first!) All in all, his hours will be much better, and we'll see him more! We can't wait.

How did you tell Kurt you were pregnant?
He had just finished a brutal 24 hour call, and we had eaten with some friends of the family for Sunday lunch. On a whim, I took a pregnancy test, and it was positive (at least I thought it was, but was paranoid I was wrong). I called him into our bedroom and said "I think I'm pregnant!" and immediately started full-on sobbing. He was barely coherent but gave me a hug and said said "That's great!" I kept apologizing because I wasn't sure he was ready, but he was so sweet about it. He then crashed in the bed and slept while I sat in the living room watching You've Got Mail. Typical.

How did you tell your family you were pregnant?
I called my parents that night and told them there was something we wanted to show them that we had just bought (or something like that), so they needed to come over after Sunday night church. Hilarious sidenote--my mom got pulled over on the way to my house because she was worried and driving too fast! Haha! The officer let her go because she explained that she was trying to get to her daughter. Great story! My brother ended up coming along too. Once both my parents and brother had arrived, I handed them a pacifier. They were so excited, and I think my mom got teary. I know I did. We hugged and everyone was so excited! I had to call Alyssa, who was at the beach with friends. She was beside herself and started screaming and telling her friends. Andrea had the best reaction (remember, she adores babies). I wrote her a letter saying how much someone was excited to meet her and signed it "Baby Lancaster." She was reading it out loud and stopped mid-sentence, looked at me, and started crying. She threw her arms around me, and it was one of the sweetest moments ever. We were visiting Kurt's parents not long after that, and at dinner we also gave them a pacifier. His grandparents were there too, and this would be their first great-grandchild. Momo (Kurt's grandmother) cried and put her hands over her face. It was wonderful, and that's what I'm most excited about in my next pregnancies---telling the family!

Ashley Answers, Part 4

You seem to have really, really good relationships with your brother and sisters. How far apart are you guys (both in distance and age) and how have you guys changed over time? What are your relationships with each other like?
I do have wonderful relationships with my siblings. I am the oldest of four children. (Actually 5. My mom had a miscarriage between me and Alyssa, so my parents say that in their hearts they have 5 children.) Alyssa will be 21 in February and is a sophomore at Mississippi State University, which is currently about 1.5 hours from where I live. She's about 4.5 hours from Cape Girardeau, where my family lives. She's an education major and in Pi Beta Phi. Alyssa is quiet-natured at first, but around friends and family she's very outgoing and talkative. I call her the "cool college kid" because she's just cooler than I was in college--ha! She has a very sweet, tender spirit and is very sensitive. Bys and I had our big bonding moment when we lived through a serious car accident when I was 16 and she was 12. Later that night, when we were home, I went in her room and we just hugged and cried. Surviving something bonds you!

Will is my brother, and he'll be 18 in March. We're about 6.5 years apart. He is the absolute funniest person in the world. He can make us die laughing, especially when he's relating a story or family memory. We will just be rolling. He was literally born smiling, and when he was a baby, he rarely stopped smiling. He is a gifted musician on guitar (he's able to pick out John Mayer rifts by ear, if that tells you anything), and has recently let the world in on the secret that he has a wonderful voice. He leads student worship at Lynwood and does a wonderful job. He's praying about what God would have him do with his life. He believes that he is called to music ministry, and desires to serve in a church as their worship pastor. We are so, so proud that God has done this work in his heart! I rocked Will to sleep many nights, and our special song was "What a Wonderful World" on his lullaby tape. He might not remember it, but I do. :)

Andrea (Punky is her nickname) is the baby of the family. She just turned 15, so we're 9 years apart. As I mentioned recently in my post for her birthday, she is animated, dramatic (in the best of ways) and ministry-minded. She doesn't meet a stranger. She started a girl's Bible study in my parent's home that averaged 18-20 girls a week (and most of those were from school, not church). She loves people. If you read my birthday post about her, I mentioned that she has a heart for adoption and put us on the mailing list (at the age of 7 or so) for international adoption. My parents were so confused--haha! She is very sensitive to children, and they are instantly attracted to her. She recently played the role of the Stepmother in Cinderella, which I played my 7th grade year (under the same director!). Andrea and I have a special bond, because I loved on her so much as my little "baby doll." She had RSV (a respiratory virus) when she was little, and I helped my mom with rocking her and giving her breathing treatments. She still asks me to sing her to sleep when I'm in town. The night before my wedding, she asked me to sing to her, and I couldn't get through it. So tender. :)

As far as how we've changed, our personalities have always been the same and we've just kind of grown into them. I'm the leader (obviously), Lis is sensitive and kind, Will and hilarious and the life of the party, and Andrea is the energetic baby. We've gone through different seasons, but right now we're all at ages that are kind of on a similar page. We're all getting along at this point, so I'm sure my parents can't complain! :)

I love my family more than anything. I'm so glad it's evident through this blog. God couldn't have given me better siblings, and I can't wait to see what He does in their lives!





















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