Saturday, December 31, 2011

A 2011 Send Off

2011 has brought a lot of new feelings, new experiences, new emotions.

After Dennis deployed, I learned how to go from being a new Mommy to a Mommy and a Daddy. I took on every responsibility in the house. Some, I failed at. Other things I feel I succeeded at.

This year I took a full course load in school, was FRG leader, arranged a move across the world, and started the extremely slow process of rebuilding my shattered world.

Hopefully 2012 will bring the Little and I plenty of amazing moments. How I wish I could be celebrating with my friends in Germany, I know the things are where God has planned. I may not like them, but it is all about accepting what I cannot change and dealing with what I have on my plate.

I've learned a lot in 2011, I've been let down and I've seen the people that will be there through it all. I've laughed and cried; made new friends and said "see ya later" to old friends.

I don't know where I'll be this time next year, but I can't say I regret any decision that I made. I've grown from each individual one.

So here's to you 2011, a year I'd love to say I "wish I could forget" but one I know will make me stronger when I look back on it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 22 – A picture of something you never leave the house without

There a lot of things I typically don't leave the house without doing. My make up, toenails painted (if I'm wearing flip flops; or toe revealing shoes), hair at least done (even if done means a messy bun) and of course when I leave the house with the Little, I have to make sure we've got enough diapers, wipes, snacks, juice cup, and pacifier with the cool leash.

But rarely (if ever) do I leave the house without my cell phone. I'm the one that will run up the 7 flights of stairs to grab my cell phone when I've forgotten it.

Its so funny to think about how much technology has changed lives today. Not only are we breaking through in the medical field, you can access the internet at any time, anywhere, and do basically anything.

And even now I cannot imagine leaving the house without a phone that connects me to the internet. Or actually my phone at all. I don't even know how the people who lived in even the 1980's survived. What did they do when their car broke down on the side of the road? I mean I totally get walking to the nearest house/gas station and using their pay phone. But that would really suck. Its amazing at how much things have grown.

Once people had to keep track of their money by balancing their check books and comparing their end of month bank statements. Now we have online banking and our account balance available at our fingertips. Letter writing, check writing, and typewriter ribbon are all a thing of the past.

With everything we have now I'm curious to see what is going to be the next thing. I wonder what Kaylin won't leave the house without.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 21 – A picture of something you wish you could forget

Typically I am not one of those people who wants to forget things. Not because there isn't plenty that I could wish to forget, but more because I believe that every experience, whether good or bad, has shaped who I am today. Even with all the bad with Dennis, I wouldn't have my adorable little girl to spoil the heck out of this Christmas.

Early in high school, I went through a huge horror movie phase. I wanted to see them all, Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween. You name it, my goal was to see it. Not because they scared me, more because they were funny and it definitely peeked my interested. In the middle of The Exorcist my mom came down and says,

Has her head spun around and has she puked green slime, yet?

No mom, but thanks for ruining the movie.

 However there is one movie I could have lived without seeing. Pet Sematary. That movie is as weird as it is creepy. Unlike some of my other friends, the creepiest and grossest part of the entire movie was when the little creepy, half dead toddler (would that count as a zombie toddler??!!) sliced the Achilles Tendon's of the old guy as he leaned over to look under the bed.

Knowing what I know about anatomy, that man wouldn't be able to walk. You know, the Achilles Tendon connects the heel to the muscles of the lower leg. Not only would the elderly man be bleeding out and in an enormous amount of pain, but he'd also be completely unable to walk. Without your Achilles Tendon, your calf muscles would curl up and you'd be out of luck.

THAT is definitely an image that I wouldn't mine forgetting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My hanger hand...

Around the same time I started hanging my own clothes up, I realized my aversion to wire hangers. I loathe the way they feel, all covered (though some aren't) with the plastic sheath. They are just a pain, too thin, too small and just don't look right hanging up in a clothes.

After living on my own, I noticed one thing. I liked required my hangers to all match. Color, shape, style. They can't differ, it makes me crazy! I even have a slight preference to white ones with the little hooks underneath the top part of the hanger so its easy to hook cami's and tank tops.

Morale of that story, the hangers have to be white. All matching, white hangers. Laugh, its okay I'll be here when you stop.

Better? Perfect.

Now I've worked a fair few retail jobs. However never in all my memory (which either is apparently not that great [highly possible] or I'm choosing to forget) have I worked with hangers like the ones at my current job. I'm not sure if it is the metal stands they use to hold the clothes, the hangers themselves, or a strange, yet probable, combination of both. But those hangers are NASTY. I can unload the fitting room first thing on my shift and my "hanger hand" is already got black marks on it. Did I already mention they are a weird combination of wire top and plastic bottom? No, okay well now you know.

I continually joke with a few girls at work that I am going to start wearing a sort of apron to work equipped with my awesome size remover tool that I'm fairly certain I could use as a self defense weapon in a dire emergency, an oversize bottle of industrial strength hand sanitizer, and about 30 pens and a note pad. I'm not totally positive how well it would go over with our "dress casual" dress code, but maybe if I got a fancy 3 pocket apron with lace?

Either way, I'm at least seriously considering carrying around my own yummy scented hand sanitizer. My hanger hand always seem to wreak of old metal, dirt, and sweat. And for some reason, it feels like it never goes away. Which is why I need my yummy scented Bath & Body Works sanitizer. Well that and the fact that I bought 5 small travel bottles when I first got here and apparently don't go through it nearly as fast as I did in Germany where is was nearly impossible to find a replacement bottle.

While lathering my hands with yet another dose of sanitizer, probably the 3rd for the evening I was joking about my "hanger hand". My mind always goes a mile a minute, unless that is slow then I'll say at the speed of light, (take your pick) and I began thinking of hands. Thinking of hands led me to that one scene in Scary Movie 2 where the creepy guy sticks out his deformed hand to help the guy up and goes, "Here! Take my good hand."

Oh gosh while you sit there confused I'll just get you a picture...

See now all you can think about is me going around the store with my "hanger hand" and quoting this movie. Its okay, you can laugh now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where are the spoons going?!

College, the time when young adults find themselves. Some spend night after night in an alcohol induced slumber, while others have a table at the school library just for themselves. Its all about the changes. The first weeks of being "on your own", no parents to tell you what to do or how to spend your time, living with a roommate in such close quarters, having only class to attend part of the time. It all took some massive getting used to. After reading Meredith's blog on how people like to steal her underwear, I recalled some of my short, yet eventful "roommate" experiences.

For the first two years of my college life, I attended the University of Northern Colorado in pursuit of a nursing degree. I decided at the last minute that I was going to switch from the University of North Dakota (see a pattern here?) and go closer to home, and in doing so I was behind in getting everything together. By the time I had gotten all my ducks in a row, I was in one of the last remaining dorms on campus. It was by far the more expensive of the dorms but hey, I didn't have a community bathroom. Which sucked quite a few times when you had to pee and you're roommate was showering.

I remember when my housing assignment came in the mail. I was so excited, I had a roommate. I got the college experience. My roommate and I made plans to meet for lunch one day. I remember being struck by how pretty she was. Sort of like a dark haired Barbie doll. We got along fairly well, even worked out what each of us was going to bring for the dorm. I was in charge of bringing the microwave, coffee pot and a few other odds and ends.

When we finally got settled into our new roles as independent, college students I noticed how very different we really were. I was sort of a home body. I liked to stay at the dorms, study and talk to my (then) boyfriend, who became my husband. Not that I didn't enjoy cutting loose with friends, getting massively intoxicated and running around town really wasn't my cup of tea; for a while anyways.

That first year it was sort of like I didn't even have a roommate. She always slept at her boyfriend's house, was rarely at the dorm. After the beginning of the spring semester, she moved over to the other campus after breaking up with that boyfriend. So I pretty much had an entire room to myself, while paying for only half.

She wasn't by far the worst roommate ever, but I really can't complain...much.

During that year I had another friend that I knew in high school. We got really close and even agreed to get an apartment off campus together with Dennis. We moved in the following August a few days before classes started.

My grandmother had given me the majority of the stuff she had in her house with my grandfather after he passed away, so I offered to bring up my stuff to help furnish the apartment. It sure beat paying storage fees! The three of us lived in a sort of "bliss" for a few months until something, unknown to me, drove Dennis and I apart from her.

Suddenly Dennis and I were having more of these kinds of conversations:

Dennis are there anymore spoons lying around?

No. I found them all. At least the ones we used.

Are you sure? We used to have like 8 of them. Now there are 5. 

I don't know, Ash. Maybe they are in her room. 
He motions toward our roommate's closed bedroom door.

Slowly our spoons started disappearing. One by one. Eventually we only had 4 or so left, so I had to pull out the random spare set my grandmother had always used.

I was completely and totally baffled. I didn't get it. The dishes were hand washed and I had checked every nook and cranny of that apartment that was ours or shared. The only logical explanation:

She's taking my spoons, Dennis. 

What do you mean 'she's taking your spoons'?

I have searched this apartment high and low, cleaned every possible small surface. They have to be in THERE.
I stick my hand out toward her door once again. It was the only part of the apartment I hadn't looked. I was trying to give her every possible amount of privacy I could. I didn't have any other evidence. In fact it was possible the spoons were somewhere at work but we hardly ever brought our lunches from home, so I wasn't hopeful.

Even now, 4 years later I still don't have a full set of spoons. I think I ended up with 5. And I'm still not 100% sure where all my spoons went.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 20 – A picture of somewhere you’d love to travel

Unlike many of my friends, I never had a huge travel bug. Sure I'd like to go see some of these far and distant places, but I didn't feel like my life would be incomplete if I didn't.

When I started high school, my World History (should that be capitalized?) teacher told us how he takes a small group of students to far off places during their senior year's spring break. I remember my dad coming home from parent's night that year and we began talking about my favorite teacher.

A few years later, my senior year of high school, I found out that teacher was taking students to Europe for 10 days. 10 days in London, Paris, and Rome. I went home and told my Dad I was determined to make that MY trip. And low and behold, I spent 10 amazing days in Europe.

Now let's not forget our 2 years in Germany. Even though we didn't travel nearly as much as I would have liked, being able to say that I lived in Germany and had my daughter in Germany is something the majority of people don't get to say.

Of all the places I've had the pleasure to visit in my short life, there are still plenty of places the travel bug in me is itching to see. With this post my mind jumped from various locations across the globe, mostly tropical with this time of year.

 However, I would LOVE to visit Australia. The Great Down Under.

When we lived in Germany I would always watch this wanna be version of Baywatch mixed with the reality of one of the most dangerous beaches in the world. Bondi Rescue became one of my favorite shows, nearly instantaneously. I mean who wouldn't love hot, Australian men (with that incredibly yummy accent) who are in astonishing shape, running around on a beach saving lives. I would get into trouble on that beach just to be rescued by one.

Insert my desire to visit the island. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a kangaroo in its native habitat, swim in ice blue water, and spend Christmas Day with my toes buried deep in warm sand.

Honestly, who wouldn't want to visit? Look how pretty it is!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 19 – A picture of something you love to do.

My fascination with cross stitch began at a young age when a family friend had a baby. I wanted to make her something, but I really didn't have any ideas. My mom suggested that I try adding cross stitch to a bib from Hobby Lobby.

Now nearly a decade later, I am still finding little projects to do. I really enjoy making baby record's. I absolutely love the one I chose for my Little.

It keeps my hands busy when I don't really want to be doing something actively. Plus its nice to stab something every once in a while. Hehe! I love to see something that started out small, plain and ordinary turn into something completely extraordinary. Sometimes I complete the projects quickly, and others life completely gets in the way. But after I'm done with every one of them, I'm able to look at it with pride.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Everyone does it. You can't deny it.

I want her hair.

Her car is better than mine.

She understands this material better than I do. If she can understand it, I'm out of luck.

The list goes on and on. Because we all do it. Heck even I'm guilty of it, almost constantly. But then today I log into my Facebook, and one of my applications is a little quote thing. Its called, "God Wants You to Know". Sure a lot of them are about not taking the small things for granted, getting out and enjoying nature, and love being everywhere around us.

Some days the application hits the nail on the head, its exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. Other days the message is meaningful but doesn't necessarily smack me in the face.

Then I got this today...
On this day of your life, Ashlee, we believe God wants you to know...that you need to stop comparing yourself to other people. Some people are great singers, some are really smart and others are great athletes. But none of them are, or ever could be you. You are one of a kind. So stop comparing yourself to other people. You can't be them any more than they can be you.

WOW. The more I thought about it the more I enjoyed it; the more meaningful it became. In our society we spend so much time trying to be the next best thing. We watch fashion shows on TV, idolize models who are overly skinny, and watch as celebrities drop their baby weight in the blink of an eye.

As a society we get so caught up in what everyone else is doing that we forget that we are individuals with our very own potential. Even I am guilty of doing it. I can't even think of how many times this week I've idolized someone else. I've even done the "I wish I was her" 's lately. What can I say I'm human.

I get so wrapped up in what I want I forget what all I have. I forget what my goals and potential really are. My focus has shifted from doing what I know I can, to being something that everyone seems to want. And now I realize that I will never get anywhere by doing that. I can never achieve my dreams of being a nurse and taking care of Kaylin, if I don't  look at myself instead of comparing myself to everyone else.

So my dear reader(s) stop looking at the world to give you the answers you are so desperately looking for. Instead, look at yourself and make what you want happen. Then you'll find that you're just as happy as Jane across the street. Do it for yourself.

Day 18 – A picture of the sexiest Woman alive

Sexy; excitingly appealing; glamorous. 

Men drool over her. A vast majority of women will at least admit she's pretty. (Mostly because there aren't many women on the planet who will admit ANY woman is prettier/sexier than she is.)

She turned heads in both Transformers 1 & 2; in her low cut shirts, her daisy-duke style shorts, and long dark hair. 

I am secure enough in myself to admit she's hot. And way hotter than I am. I'm not really fishing for compliments here, just being completely and totally honest. 

There are a lot of pretty women in the world. There are a lot of hot women in the world as well. Most of the time you don't even have to look at Hollywood to see them. Beauty can manifest itself in many different shapes and forms. 

It can be in the form of a teenage girl who has fantastic self-confidence. Or a middle aged mom of 3, out dancing for her first girl's night in years. Or a senior citizen who still has enough energy to look like a rock star and never wear the same outfit, the exact same way twice. Yes, those are all beautiful too. 

So instead of looking to the media for our image of "hot", I'm going to encourage everyone to look around themselves. Find the inner beauty in everyone. When we start doing that, the world will be a much better place.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 17 – A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently

A snowy view of Pikes Peak from the Garden of the Gods
 This one was really a challenge for me. Nothing has recently impacted my life that much. Okay, let me rephrase that. Nothing has impacted my life much that I am able to take a picture of. Because there are definitely things that have impacted my life recently.

 Snow and I have a love hate relationship. I love when it snows. I love the glistening white powder covering the trees, ground, and rooftops. I absolutely cannot stand when I have to go anywhere in it. Typically its cold, and I hate the cold. If it snowed and was 90 degrees outside I'd be set for life. Because its pretty, I just loathe being cold.

Plus when it snows its like every bad driver known to mankind needs to go somewhere at the very same time I am. I don't mind going slower due to treacherous road conditions but I do mind going 5 miles an hour at the bottom of a steep hill. Sorry but there is no way that you'll make it up that hill going that slow; and now you're putting me in danger as well as yourself.

In fact, I really wouldn't even mind being snowed in somewhere up in the mountains for a few days. As long as I have a few basic, "necessities" I'll be set. Give me a fireplace, coffee, a few really warm blankets (oh my fantasy place has not be concerned), and enough food for a few days...I'd be good. See I don't mind when it snows, I just hate having to drive in it with all the other idiot drivers. In turn, I find snow peaceful and rejuvenating.

Downtown Colorado Springs
There aren't many views like this one. A snow covered mountain scene with a downtown Colorado Springs Skyline. Its actually quite beautiful. There aren't many places like it on Earth.

The only place that I have seen that can take my breath away like this place, was in Bavaria, Germany. The Alps were incredible. I can't say for sure, we'd be in Germany for almost a year at that point; and when you're used to waking up to scenery like this every morning, anything that is bigger than a hill can be quite the spectacle. They reminded me of home, and for the first time since we left Colorado I felt like I belonged in that foreign country.

Okay now try and tell me that is not BEAUTIFUL.

Didn't think ya could. Though when we were there it wasn't snowing but it was chilly. I don't think I could have dealt with that walk with ice and snow. I almost died as it was. But I blame that on the 30+ minute hike up the hill to the castle itself and being 5 months pregnant.

With all the changes going on, I'm going with remember the small things. Take a step back and enjoy the spilled milk; one day you'll look around and those hand prints on your walls won't be there anymore.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 16 – A picture of someone who inspires you

My Papa. Possibly THE best man I have ever known; besides my Daddy.

I have always been family person. I never had that urge to be dropped off for school down the street from the building. I was rarely embarrassed by my parents dancing to pop songs in line at the mall. I actually enjoyed going shopping with my mom and sisters on Saturday nights.

Instead of spending nights out partying with my friends in high school, I spent my Friday and Saturdays at CC Hockey games with my Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, sisters and Aunt.

For a while growing up we lived with my dad at my grandparents house. They became a sort of surrogate parental figures for my sisters and I. I was born hours before my grandfathers birthday. We always celebrated our special day together. The first birthday I had after he passed away was one of the hardest days of my life.

He never got to meet my daughter or see what all I've become. But I want him to be proud. I haven't made the best decisions in life, but I know he loves me all the same. I am so thankful he was able to be here to see me graduate high school. It was such an important day for me.

So Papa, here I am. Not a day goes by when I don't think of you and how much you really mean to me. Sometimes I get angry at myself for not taking that call from Dad more seriously. I remember he called to say you were in the hospital again, but it didn't seem serious. I wish I had called you, talked to you one last time. I know nothing I will ever do will change the fact that I didn't. But I know you love me still, and you forgive me. You're probably looking down on me right now chuckling, your big old belly shaking. You always loved unconditionally.  All I can do is the same.

Day 15 – A picture of something you want to do before you die

 New York City. There have been songs written after it, movies and TV shows set in it, its known as the Big Apple, and its home of some of the best (from what I have heard) pizza in the world.

I'm sure to you, none of this makes sense. Honestly to me it doesn't make much sense either. I don't know where my obsession with the city came from. In fact, until 2001 I didn't know much about the city at all.

I can't remember the year, but I sat on the couch one evening and my mom had the lighting of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. I watched in complete awe as famous singers sang Christmas songs, dancers performed with extreme precision, and the countdown began.

I couldn't tell you exactly what happened next, but when the tree was lit for the first time my jaw just dropped. The tree was magnificent, so clean, so tall. I admired this tree, the people it took to put together, everyone that made that one moment possible.

It was from then on I knew I wanted to be there one year when it happened. I wanted to see the Christmas Tree be lit. I want that memory to be with me and my children. There could never be anything like that.

For a few years, mostly before high school ended but after CSI:NY started, I dreamed  I was going to live in New York City. I didn't care where or when. But I wanted to be there, in all that hustle and bustle. I wanted to walk to and from work, take the subway home and pick up fresh produce every night for dinner. All part of the experience, right?!

But after a bit of a reality check, as in money, and a new boyfriend that dream slowly faded into just another long lost hope.

When I was trying to decide what to write for this blog, my mind went wild. I really don't have a bucket list. Mostly because I plan on living forever, but because I never really gave much thought to it. Most people want to live in a foreign country (check), go to an exotic place (check), see all sorts of European tourist attractions (check, check, check). So I really never had much of a desire for a bucket list. My mind bounced to skydiving, scuba diving, and para-sailing.

But I never quite understood why someone would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

The only other time I ever went scuba diving it ended badly, so that thought kinda freaks me out. However it was in 6th grade, so I wouldn't mind doing it again but not bad enough to put it on a bucket list.

Para-sailing would really be neat, but I'm not a huge boat person. So I'm not completely sure how that would go over.

But now, now this would be amazing. Going to NYC, seeing all the different tourist attractions, eating delicious food out of carts on the streets. I want the full experience.

I want to go and stand in Times Square and just turn around and around. Take it all in.

More than anything I want to make sure my Little is old enough to experience all of it too. I want to make sure she has as much fun as I will.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 14 – A picture of your favorite store

Its the one store that I missed most in Germany. The 24 hour shopping, the incredible (mostly) deals, the long lines.

All of it.

I never thought I'd miss it, in fact I always grumbled about going to Wally World when I had to. It was the last place anyone with half a brain seems to want to go, especially on payday.

I remember our first Christmas in Germany. I unwrapped all the Christmas decorations and found an old Walmart bag. Being hormonal (probably 5 week pregnant) and missing home I almost broke down in tears. I wanted to hug that good old Walmart bag.

Even now, our cupboard over flows with little plastic bags from Walmart. I'm there at least twice a week, the deals don't change much but I always manage to forget one thing I'd purposely gone for.

Walmart isn't necessary my FAVORITE of favorite stores, but its definitely the one that I frequent the most.

Now Kohls on the other hand. FAV-OR-ITE! Now I'm not boasting because I work for one, trust me they do not need the publicity from a lowly blog like mine.

Its all about saving money. I remember when the Little started to outgrow her shoes. I went immediately online to search for a Shoe Carnival in the area. Much to my disappointment, all the ones in the area had been closed. Instead of spending a bunch of money on shoes that my Little was going to outgrow in a matter of months, my sister and I headed to Kohl's.

We found 2 pairs of shoes on clearance and I managed to find a new snazzy pair of sunglasses for $15! Now try and beat that! It was long before I started working there. Now I get paid to work at a store that is honestly giving something back.

I love spending 1/4 of what I saved. Go, shop!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 13 – A picture of your favorite band or artist

Rascal Flatts. One of my favorite country bands. Their songs are always real and down to earth. They always speak to me, and I find it very easy to put their entire album on repeat when I am feeling a little down.

I feel like one of those teenage girls that has every song "speak" to her and is completely describing my every feeling.

They don't always get it right, but the majority of the time there is a really good message to learn from each of their songs.
Recently I've been pretty addicted to Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream". It puts a spring in my step and just makes me feel good. I can't really describe it, but no matter the day I'm having I can put on the CD and bop along to the catchy tunes of "Teenage Dream" or cry to "The One That Got Away".