Ash and Will

Ash and Will
We are a happy family! : )

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

We went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade LIVE in New York City yesterday and it was AWESOME!!!!  For all the years that we watched Tom Turkey on the TV, here I am in person with it!

We woke up when it was still dark outside and dragged the kids out of bed (sorry, kids!) and bundled up in our layers.  We'd packed diapers and a Thanksgiving feast's worth of snacks into the backpack the night before.  We drove into the city and parked in a garage on the upper west side - about as far west as we could stay to try to avoid parade pedestrians and traffic.  Then we walked 4 long blocks over to Central Park West where there were already hundreds of people lined up/camped out.  It was hard to know how far to keep going one direction or the other because every minute that passed more people would be staking out a spot.  We got right behind some people in camp chairs who were behind people under sleeping bags and blankets right up at the barrier at the street.  We thought we had it made because it was a big view to the street over all these sitters.  Right before the parade actually started everyone cleaned up their stuff and stood.  It allowed more people to be able to cram in, but it wasn't as clear a view as we originally expected.  We have no idea if that's typical or not.... But we were still close enough with few enough people in front of us that we could see between heads and bodies.  We held the kids up to be able to see (Andrew was mostly on my shoulders, but I had to take little breaks and just hold him in my arms because I'd get sore).

So we aimed to leave the house at 6 and were pulling out of the driveway at 6:10.  We were to the garage by 6:30 and to the parade route by about 6:45.  Then once you get there you just wait... easy enough for adults.... since Andrew gets limited screen time he was thrilled to sit in the stroller (just the smallest umbrella type) and watch movies and eat snacks while we waited.  Ellie got tired of the carrier pretty fast and we mostly just held her, but she stood on the ground by us for little stints.  We sang songs, talked to each other, talked to people around us, apologized for all the spilled snacks..., etc.  It was entertaining to watch some of the sleepers wake up and hear the different groups' conversations.  Most all the people we were by were pretty nice.  It turned out that the sleeping on the ground group were YSA people from West Point - YCL sweatshirts, Hill Cumorah stuff, talking about EFY was what gave them away. : )  When the parade started there were some clowns passing out some really big balloons to kids/people along the barrier - whoever could reach or request one.  It was either the YSAs or another nice lady that asked if our kids wanted balloons and we said they'd love them, then they passed back a big blue one that a girl tied to Andrew's coat.  Ellie was really into it and disappointed not to have one, and the YSAs were able to pass back another for her.  You can tell they're thick/quality balloons with quality helium.  They were still at the ceiling today and the kids have loved playing with them.  So that was fun.  

Since we were so close to the beginning of the route (we were at about 72nd) the parade got to us by probably about 9:05/7.  In all our research we learned that the farther down you go in the route the longer the viewing is - probably because of the performances, etc.  We were really impressed with how efficiently the parade kept moving.  It wasn't until 2/3 or 3/4 through the parade that we ever had groups have to pause in front of us and then it was just a handful of times.  So for us it was an hour and a half parade (done by 10:35/7 or so) and it never felt long - just fun entertainment the whole time.  Yes, it was definitely crowded leaving, but not crazy or stressful.  We were glad we'd walked the little extra - we passed another garage with lots of people waiting for their cars (they're generally all valet garages).  The crowds tapered as we walked back the four long blocks.  Another reason we chose the garage we did was because it would be so fast and easy to just get back on Henry Hudson going north (like the freeway going up the west side). We weren't sure if it'd be bad traffic, but it wasn't bad at all.  No slowing or anything.  We drove back home easy in roughly 20 minutes and were back in the house relaxing upstairs to watch the rest of the parade on TV (because we could....haha) by 11:30.  It was amazing how smoothly it went!!!  It was fun to see on tv what we'd just seen in person.

Most people we told ahead of time that we were going to try it would tell us things like we were brave (with kids) or a little crazy.  One person asked if I wanted her honest opinion then proceeded to tell me that she thought the kids were too young to enjoy it.  So naturally I was super determined to have it go smoothly and have us all have a good time : )  Was it cold? Yes. (but not as cold as I thought it might be)  Was it crowded? Yes, but not in a stressful way.  Was it a long wait? Yes, roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes just waiting in one spot.... It was the hardest on Ellie, but none of us were ever miserable or regretted it : )  Did the kids enjoy it once the parade started? Yes, they loved it! Balloons, bands, great costumes, animals, etc.  And Will passed out the m&ms at strategic moments : )  Would we do it again?  Absolutely!!  Probably not next year, just because.... but if you came to visit of course we would : )  Oh, were the balloons really huge? Yes... but maybe not as massive as I always thought they made it sound like on tv... It was pretty fun to watch them coming down the street then pass right over.

Ok, here's a few more pictures...

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I don't know that I ever really had it on a "bucket list" to see it, but once we moved out here we couldn't leave without going at least once!  I'm sure we'll go again.

We had made cranberry sauce, an apple pie, and a pecan pie the night before.  Then after the parade we made the broccoli cauliflower bake and some peas.  We had dinner with several other families in the ward (like 8?!), and that ended up being pretty fun.  Everyone there had kids, except the hosts, but they had a great basement with lots of their grown kids' toys for the kids to play with.  I realized I didn't take hardly any pictures there, but I do have a couple of the kids - none with Will and I.  Andrew thought the sparkling cider was pretty great, and check out Ellie's Thanksgiving sampler : )  And then I think she mostly just ate the roll... haha

Now the only thing left to round out this holiday (because we already rounded out our tummies) is to watch Garfield's Thanksgiving!!!  (sounds like... the dishwasher!!)  (rub skin with butter.... well I don't see what good that will do...)  (deep fat fry! deep fat fry! music to my ears!)  (if you want me to relax take me to hawaii!)  (i would not like that mr. wells) (wednesdays are good, and good for you!)  (my, aren't we nasty today?!)  (do the mashed potato!  do the candied yam!)  I could go on and on.... : )

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Ok, so I've been a lousy blogger for quite a while now.  That's ok for a lot of reasons.  I guess it seems like a worthy time to come out of my hibernation to share this that I saw shared on facebook.  I don't know who originally made it, but it was posted by Mommy Poppins Boston.  (If you don't use Mommy Poppins for your area, maybe it's worth looking into for you.  Sometimes it helps me!) (Oh, they put it right on there: - which I know nothing about besides they created one hilarious thing.)

Anyway.  Oftentimes when I find something that I think is rather funny and go to show it to Will it's like he takes it as a challenge to not think it's as funny as I do just to give me a hard time.  Maybe that's just when I'm laughing so hard that I can hardly talk and he thinks I must be bonkers or too tired or it's some brand of funny that he doesn't think is as funny.... (like stay at home mom humor?). 

But here I was laughing (out loud) to myself thinking how funny this thing was and I hand over the laptop for him to see it.  I see him purse his lips like he does when he's preparing to see what I think is so funny and the determination in his eyes to not laugh.  I watch him closely, still laughing myself.  And then? He laughs!  So then I'm laughing harder.  Tears streaming down my face.  He reads aloud some of the things that got me and I laugh more again. 

Please tell me this makes you laugh, too.  And if you pursed your own lips taking this as a don't laugh challenge, then maybe you're a party pooper.  ha!  We're passing out jack-o-lantern and bat shaped pretzels and pencils this year.  Maybe that makes us party poopers?  I was surprised how popular the pencils were at our ward's trunk-or-treat last weekend.  And there was one kid who when he found out they were pretzels, he backs away and says, "nevermind." hahaha

And I remember the year we passed out dum dums : ) Cheapy McCheapface.... hahahaha

Happy Halloween!  (which we've been celebrating all month with activities, parties, outings, treats, etc, because apparently Halloween is the new Christmas! : )  (you know what I mean.)  (And our kids are the cutest bat and cat there ever were!)

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Teach Me

Today marks one year from the day that Andrew finally started walking.  I remember because it was my brother's birthday (shout out! : ).  We were in Sunday School and though Andrew was quite a fast crawler, he finally decided he was ready to walk to keep up with his little friend, Lydia.  He was two weeks shy of 18 months and starting nursery.

When he was younger he learned to roll over without too much trouble - demonstrating the ability to roll both ways by the time we were at his 4 month appointment.  He learned how to pivot himself, so between turning and rolling he was able to get almost anywhere he wanted and was content.  Eventually he learned to army crawl and got really pretty good.  Good for him, terrible for his clothes - he dust mopped everywhere we went.  It wasn't until he was around a year (or over a year and we had moved?) that he finally started crawling on his hands and knees.  By the time we moved and he was 14 months he could pull up to stand at things, but never attempted steps and wasn't able to just stand up wherever.  By mid-December when he was about 16 months we could get him to try to stand and start to take some steps going back and forth between us.

We were never really concerned that he'd never learn, but we did wonder how long it would take.  The hardest parts were the ruined clothes, the inconvenience at times, and the awkward social factor ("actually, no, our toddler can't walk...").  But of course as I spent pretty much all day every day with him it was always in my face that he lacked the skill, so I thought about it a lot.  We tried to encourage desire and support development.

One day when we were living (temporarily) in Jersey City I had a simple experience that helped to put things in perspective for me.  As we were trying to entertain ourselves in the apartment that was only so big, and with only so many toys and books at our disposal, I watched him crawling around and I tried to encourage some standing or step taking.  I started to think in a little bit of desperation again: when will he ever learn to walk??!  Suddenly I had the words to a children's song that we liked to sing to him sometimes (and still do) come into my mind: "Teach me to walk in the light."  Of course we wanted him to learn to walk, and he would when the time was right, but more importantly, and what I really should be focusing my efforts on was teaching him the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to live and love it in our family and in his own life.

Since that day in late October or early November 2015 I've tried to keep that experience and thought close to me and in the forefront of my mind.  Helping my kids learn and develop in physical, mental, social, and emotional (etc) ways is absolutely important.  But the most important of all is helping them learn how to have a testimony of their own - through my teaching, love, and especially example.

Now he's been able to walk (run? : )  for a whole year and continues to build on his gross and fine motor capabilities. (He's sitting right here, tongue out in concentration, cutting me piece after piece of construction paper to add to my growing pile ("here Mom!") with his brand new safety scissors that he's so excited about! : )  Even though he's hit that typically early-life physical milestone, I hope I can always remember that teaching him to walk in the light is a life-long effort and worth more than all the other things I can help him learn.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Not on purpose we exposed Andrew to counting backward before much counting forward.  As we've made progress with his teeth brushing (hallelujah!) he still needs something akin to a three ring circus to keep us all sane.  After we get whatever amount of brushing seems reasonable before we're all going to die done we count down from 10 - then he knows his torture (and ours) is almost over.  He's heard it enough, I guess, that he started to apply it to other situations.  I had him in the shower with me once and he looks forward to when the water is "down low" out of the tub faucet so he can play in it.  He has to wait until I'm done, though, and just play with his other tub toys while he waits.  He was getting impatient once (5-6 weeks ago?) and after petitioning repeatedly ("water down low", which sounds more like "wa dow low") I hear him take matters into his own hands: "Ten, one, zero!" haha : )  When that didn't work immediately he tried again several times and I realized what he was saying and trying to get me to do - my turn was over and it was going to be time for his water down low! ha  We've  continued to make some progress as I've had the shower to myself for the last couple days and he prefers to "play toys" simultaneously.  As convenient as it is to bathe him at the same time, I'm not complaining!

In the last month or two we've talked a little more about numbers and counting forward.  This is mostly with numbers or counting books, but some other times, too.  As a totally biased and proud parent I can report that Andrew can generally successfully count things to 2.  : )

He often refers to groups of things as being 2.  It seems that "2" refers to 2 or more.  If he is counting with you he is actually getting pretty good and can often stay with you (plenty of room for improvement, though).  We really don't try to push anything,  just count when it's in a counting book or other natural times.  He enjoys it and now will initiate the counting on his own.  You can hear his cute little voice, "One, two, one, two, one, two," etc... ha : ) 


Somehow as he learned all sorts of body parts we never really talked about the forehead much.  So in the last few months he's learned about the forehead, elbows, etc.  He'll point out elbows at the most random (to us) times.

With all this numbers talk, though, I can see how it's easy to get confused... I've heard him several times in the last few weeks refer to not his forehead,  but his "twohead"....... hahahahaha : )

Monday, June 27, 2016

Captain Moroni: A worthy hero

This morning we went right when the library opened at 10 to sign ourselves up for the summer reading program.  Not because you can't sign up any day of the summer, but because they had a "free gift" for the first 25 to sign up (for adults at least, but I thought I'd read that for kids) and we like freebies and what if it was a free book??!!!!  I'm pretty sure I saw them give a kid a cellophane bag with a bookmark and pencil in it saying it was his "gift" so then I really didn't want one for Andrew because, let's be honest, it would come home and just sit here because he doesn't need a bookmark and I try to keep most writing utensils away from him right now unless he's under highest levels of supervision.

We filled out Andrew's little registration slip, his first raffle ticket, and he colored a picture for the display.  They had lots of different little sports related pictures and I took the liberty of choosing the bike for him.  He liked it, dumped out his box of crayons and actually sat there for at least 5 minutes using a variety of colors to scribble all over it.  I was really impressed.  I'm sure it helped that all the other kids were older than him and so he was just doing what the big kids were doing.  He also told me about the "airplanes" he was adding to the picture, which is one of the specific things he says he's drawing so far (the others being trains or cars, of course).  He also got to eat a cookie after all that.  I did show him his three options and then was happy that he was happy with a vanilla sandwich cookie (seemed least messy).  After he opened it and ate the filling he told me he was all done so I finished it.

We spent some time in one of the other rooms reading some, playing with toys, and him inserting himself into the KidPix play of some kids on the computer.  By the time we left his little picture was already up on the bulletin board.  We went upstairs to sign me up and she gave me a plastic summer reading program bag and told me it was  my free gift.  After we were home I saw that it did actually have a "READ" pen and three mini York Peppermint Patties in it.  Ok, I guess that's a decent "gift" after all - consumable!  Jeff, remember when Mom used to get us big Yorks while we were out running errands and then we'd get to go home and eat them in the back yard??!

We ended up being there longer than I had anticipated - I didn't really know they were having activities.  We were back home just after 11 to get the grocery bags and take a picture of the shopping list.  We do it that way now after I'm pretty sure I lost our old notebook in the store or left it in the cart.  It's really just one more thing to carry.  Anyway, we drive to Aldi and by the time we're there he's asleep!!!  I didn't realize he was that tired already, but we were there, so I woke him up to shop.

We did our shopping there and Walmart and then headed home.  I thought if he had been that tired there was a good chance he'd fall asleep again, but he didn't.  Pros and cons.... Great that I could feed him lunch before his nap, but it makes carrying in all the groceries a little trickier - lots of small trips (to the porch, inside the font door,  then the final leg to the kitchen).  A few bags, a watermelon, two milks, and ice cream to worry about in the heat of the day, but we made it.  Luckily he was cooperative to come inside easier than sometimes...  I worked on getting things put away while he ate his bean soup and applesauce.  (I like that my toddler likes bean soup, by the way : )

The routine is after he's washed I take him straight up to his bed for a nap.  Today, probably because he was overtired, he was upset about something and I realize he's asking for Go Dog Go!  So we get the book, sit on the couch and read it.  During the book he reaches over to grab the Friend magazine.  I try to slip it away while he's enjoying all the dogs and cars because I don't want to stray too far from the routine and it was getting later.  We finish Go Dog Go! and he now is wanting the Friend magazine.  This is our first Friend magazine ever.  It just arrived on Saturday and we pulled it out for the first time yesterday.  He already knows he likes it, though, which is good.  I open it up and he points out several pictures.  We turn the page and we're to the little simple story about  Captain Moroni.  Still trying to keep it short I'm just letting him point out things.  Then I decide I should take the opportunity and it has so few words anyway so I read it to him.  He likes the flag and he likes Captain Moroni.  He sees a mom and a dad and some kids.  He's asking for a flag like Moroni's.  I tell him we can get one after his nap and he's satisfied enough.

I take him upstairs and he's happy to see his bed and pacifier.  Like usual he requests some songs.  Last night he went into his bed in a wild tantrum over wanting The Wheels on the Bus over and over, which Will did a few times and he had already done the little board book of it before putting him in his bed.  This afternoon he's requesting Wheels on the Bus again so I sing each verse he suggests.  Then I switch to some Primary songs.  Somehow Moroni comes up again and we're talking about his flag.  Then he requests a Moroni song...... I can't think of one.... He's distressed so I check the LDS music app searching "Moroni."  That only brings up songs that have a Moroni scripture at the bottom.  He's escalating and I tell him I'll try to find one for after his nap.  I see there's a song about the angel appearing to Joseph Smith and it works to sub Moroni's name, so I try that but by now he's irrational and it's not good enough.  I even try singing "Moroni, Moroni, Moroni" to my own tune and he won't accept it... hahaha.  I turn on his CD with Primary songs, tell him I love him and to have a good nap, and I leave while he's in mid-tantrum over me not being able to provide a Moroni song... all while trying not to giggle.... Don't worry, he calmed down after a few minutes.

I texted Will what was going on and he reminded me of the song on the Seminary CD (but it never actually mentions his name).  I kept thinking of the one from From Cumorah's Hill that has the line, "I stand with Nephi and Moroni."  But I was blanking beyond that.... And in all my searching in the last little while as I've had lunch I can't find a song about Captain Moroni.... He gets such a nice scripture about him - can we please get a song about Captain Moroni????!!!  Alma 48:17 says, "Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

I guess I could work on one myself, but this is not my area of expertise.... Lindsay??? Brett???? Help a sister out, here!  And help a nephew out... hahaha

But if we're going to have tantrums I guess it makes it a little easier when your sweet not-yet-two year old is so distraught over his desire for something Captain Moroni related... haha  I guess now I know which scripture hero figurine to get him for his birthday!

Who on earth is she talking about???  Here is a link to the same story that I've read Andrew a few times in his brand new Friend magazine about Captain Moroni.  Here is a different link to the same story, but another version from a different issue that has a little bit more detail.  He was a great leader who loved God and stood up for important things like religion, freedom, peace, and families.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Watch out Betty!

One day last week I made strawberry freezer jam (yum!!) with strawberries that Andrew and I had hand picked.  That very same day I made crock pot veggie lasagna that turned out excellent.  It included fresh basil that I trimmed off our own plant!  The next day I made a pound cake to eat more strawberries with.  All so good!

You: How very domestic of you!
Me: I KNOW!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Adoption is Wonderful : )

Posted by a friend on facebook along with some old family pictures: "[so and so] found proof that I wasn't adopted!"

So tell me..... what's wrong with being adopted?

Absolutely nothing.  We could not love Andrew any more if he were a biological son.  He is definitely meant for our family and will be a fantastic big brother.  Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for all of us and in our case that meant adopting Andrew.

I'm fairly sure that most people, if asked, would say great things about adoption whether they were personally touched by it or not.  Somehow that doesn't stop people from making jokes like this, though.  Maybe you, as an adult?, can discern what's meant to be a playful joke (or not), but what about children, teenagers, or even young adults feeling confused or trying to figure out their own thoughts and feelings.  All children are blessings from heaven - whether they come to you biologically or not.  The implication that an adoption is second-rate can be harmful and is untrue.

This reminds me of the meme that I won't pass on here because it irritates me.  Two babies - one teasing the other about being adopted.  In several years when he can understand more what would my son think when he saw that?

There are enough questions and emotions that can come for an adopted child.  There are enough negative ideas, stereotypes, and comments made to and about those involved with adoption.  Please don't fuel it!

Instead, celebrate the beautiful people and relationships that we are all blessed by because of adoption!  If you aren't touched personally now, I'm sure you know someone who is or will be touched some day.

Adoption is wonderful : )