I will tell you what I see….

After the latest and most tragic news of the Charlottesville riots, I have seen many posts on social media about personal beliefs, opinions on the subject at hand and what I wanted to focus on mostly, my friends who are hurting. People who always do good in the world but their hard work and positive vibes tend to be overshadowed by the thought that the world is becoming this dark place with no hope. image1 (12)

 

My cousin Ginny posted this quote and I felt connected. I have so many friends who already ARE warriors of love, justice and freedom. They continue to fight against the norm and for those who have no voice or their voice is suppressed out of fear from what others will think. Growing up my mom always taught me to stand up for what I believe in and fight for those who cant. I will no doubt pass those qualities on to Ryan but I also want to be real about whats going on in this generation we live in.

No quote, no feeling of mine and no “millennial” thing I post will change the world. I know that. I also know from experience and life that love is a language. A feeling, and a gift. You give others your love because you want too. You do it because it is the right thing to do when you feel strongly about something. I give my love to others because I was taught to do that. I also give compassion, grace, differences in opinions and beliefs because it is the right thing to do.

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What I see now is the same thing I learned at a young age, we must give each other at this time love, grace and understanding. We may not agree on everything but one thing we have to come to an agreement on is every one has a story. Take the time to learn about your neighbor, your friend and your loved ones. Ask why they are hurting, and try to understand without judgement. You may learn more about yourself than you know already.

What I see and what Ryan will see:

I have a friend who has a strong Muslim background, a great sense of humor and loves the same sex. I love him dearly and support his lifestyle because to me its the best thing a friend can do.

I have two friends who are married, again same sex, they are the best friends a girl could have. Without hesitation they are there when my family needs them and love my child.

I have a friend who speaks out about what she is passionate about, no matter what others think. She is bold, strong and true to her self.

I have a girlfriend who has bad anxiety. She needs my friendship as I need hers. We balance each other out and help on emotional levels that others could not understand.

I know adults who voted for our President. Supported his campaign and currently do not agree with some of his stances. I love them the same even though we have that difference in opinion.

I have African American friends whose LIVES do matter and I can not imagine what they must feel every day while all this crazy is going on in the world. What I can offer them is my heart and my thoughts of knowing that together our inter racial friendship is beautiful and real.

I have mom friends who parent their children different than I do Ryan. What works for them does not work for me sometimes but I still love them.

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What I see are good people.

Lastly I have a group of friends here in Raleigh that would do anything for each other. They come from all backgrounds: straight, gay, black, white, male, female, religions all over the place and the one thing I SEE is a friend. A person that would jump to your aid when you need it most and although yes realistic about what they see in front of them STILL LOVE YOU THE SAME, unwavering and endearing.

I still see beauty in this world we live in and I hope for Ryan’s sake others can do the same.

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Time….is on my side…yes it is…or no it’s not?

I heard her voice today. Her love, her jokes, her infectious laugh. I heard it. I felt it.

I cried. I smiled. And I snapped a lot of footage to my cousins today.

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The date at the bottom of the home video said December 25, 1999. There were many “scenes” from the videos that made me smile, but one that stood out was of my mom. She stepped out from behind the camera and let Lindsay film her. She was opening a small glass blown ornament of a yellow school bus she got from the girls. Her words that I hear as I type, ” I will cherish this forever and ever”. Little did she or any of us know 3 years later would be her forever. Time was not on my side.

I kept up with the theme of the day which was titled: FEELS. I continued to watch all the videos she made from our trips to Hawaii, to my softball games and the hardest: me moving into college without her. Her monologue as I watched made me feel as if I was still there with her in the moment. And then I began to think about all the moments I have been doing something or somewhere magical and I was not really “in the moment”, as corny as it sounds. I was not “present” and time had passed me.

 

 

Here Belinda captured me meeting my Freshman College roommate, Jessica. She also captured my awful hairstyle after donating to locks of love. This look really killed my social life.

IMG_6686I watch these films almost twenty years later and feel like time has passed gracefully, and gotten less painful, but in all of it has allowed me to appreciate and recognize that time really has been my best friend and my worst enemy.

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Best Friends and Family at Lindsay’s wedding last week in Dominican. 

Think about something in your life that went wrong or was painful. Time stood still. Now travel to the time where everything was right and you were having fun and really living…time blew by. My fear as Ryan gets older and as I get older, is time will pass me and I will not really ever know I was in the “good old” moments. You tend to realize those things when you have lost someone: a friend, a parent or just felt lost.

These “feels” also come with me taking on the role, as many of you have as a mom, and starting to have less and less time for me and wondering, where did the time go? I work now 8 hours a day, I mom after work until 7-8, I then wife 8-10, only to go back to mom role to prepare for the next day and the cycle continues. It is not a bad thing, so I do not type this with resentment or anger, I just reflect on what we all may start to realize is time is moving along and does not have any plans on slowing down. And I also ask you moms out there….how have we been doing this for years and still manage to keep it all together?

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Mom and Dad from her last trip to Hawaii.

The laughter from the Christmas video with my family made me so happy. And that is where time becomes my best friend. Because of these videos, my mom captured something I will always cherish. The memories and wonderful childhood I had growing up. My cousins will forever have a spot in my heart that will remain full of love.

As I approach my mid 30’s I have learned many, many lessons. I think losing my mom helped mold me into a person that does not allow time to go by without spending it with the people you love, keeping in touch and always keeping things light. She also taught me to spend my money on travel, taking advantage of the opportunity to have all the people I love in the same place.

My hope for the future is that I continue to keep wholesome relationships and friends that enrich my life,  learn MORE about the people in my life and carve out some time for me and my family. Even finding time to jot these small thoughts down seemed impossible.

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I want Ryan to know all my friends and family that made my time here on this earth so much fun. I also want people to remember ME as a person that made their time on this earth unforgettable. Time goes by faster than you think, so put the phones down, pay attention to the people in front of you and capture the moments that make your heart and life full. And if you get the chance, make a home video…and if you’re a mom get in front of the camera, do not always be behind it.

Thank you to my wonderful mother in Heaven above that made these videos so that twenty years later my cousins, Belinda, Courtney and everyone involved could reunite and laugh but the coolest thing of all: is still hearing your voice. ❤

 

A girl walks into a bar….

You know the rest of the story right.

My version is a little different with an unbelievable twist. Even I am pinching myself

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Backstory: In 2015 out of 22,000 applicants, I was one of the 2,000 selected to attend the FAA Air Traffic Controller Academy in Oklahoma for that particular bid. I did the job with all my heart and left everything on the playing field the day of evals. I made a safety call diverting an aircraft back to an airport due to an emergency and those points were my demise on the eval. I left heartbroken and lost at the fact my dream job had just gone down the tubes because of nerves and a damn point out.

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My class out in Oklahoma. These people were my “fam” out in the middle of no where.

Lets move to July 2016. I was offered a similar job to an Air Traffic Controller with Lockheed Martin at their Ashburn, Virginia station working the Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS). Although not giving directions and clearances, it was another key part for pilots to get information on flights, weather, briefings, etc. I could not take it because I was pregnant with Ryan and we would have had to move to D.C. in the midst of all the chaos.

I had to turn it down.

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My sister from another mister while out in OKC. This girl was my sanity and luckily she made it to Miami Center. (along with some other friends)

Fast forward 4 months to November when I applied for the bid AGAIN to go back to OKC and got through AGAIN but this time I was eight months pregnant with my daughter on the way. All I had to do was go back to Oklahoma City one more time to prove I could do it, but I had to test before Dec 31. Funny thing Ryan was due Dec 12. Once again I was disappointed and sad.

SO here we are, a girl walks into a bar….and her name is Melissa. She is petite, kept to herself and her bar stance said, “don’t talk to me” but my head said “you know this chick”.  I studied her posture for a minute only to keep it moving and sit down right beside her at the 8 person bar in the fine establishment of Bella Monica. My friend Keri and I were having a mommy wine night out and were minding our own business when I could not get out of my head where I knew this girl from.

I looked at her and right away I said “Melissa” she obviously responded, “Ashley?”

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You need to understand that Melissa is from New Jersey, was a class behind me at Oklahoma City and when I left that place…I left. Got in the car, drove as fast as I could to NC and did not look back because I was devastated. SO we did not keep in contact or talk about what we might be doing after the fact. Sad thing is she was also washed out by the Academy and landed herself here in Raleigh after some other duty stations after OKC.

What I CAN say with confidence and enthusiasm NOW is everything happens for a reason.

She was sitting in Bella Monica for a reason.

We chatted for a bit and left exchanging numbers and life stories of where we were now. She was here. In Raleigh. Working with Airplanes. In a tower. I wanted in. And so here I am….

That is right. This blog is informing and exclaiming my newly accepted offer with a contract company, doing what I thought I never could again…controlling aircraft, in Raleigh-not moving my family and in a tower watching those planes come and go.

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Who would have known that Melissa (featured front and center with the skull shirt and glasses) and I would end up working together somewhere other than Oklahoma City.

 

I am also excited to be working closely with the people and tower that started it all in Raleigh Durham when I was an intern in 2012-13. I get the aircraft safely to them and they safely take them off. Patience really is a virtue. And believing in yourself without a doubt is another.

In my interview I was asked what the hardest challenge I had ever faced was. Clearly it was Oklahoma but now I think I would have to say almost giving up on myself. It has been a roller coaster of emotions these past two weeks. The day I wrote my last blog about being lost I became found by my new company when they issued me the offer letter later that day.

I accept the new challenge full steam and with much excitement. Now if anyone knows affordable daycare that won’t cause me to work nights at the Men’s Club I will take a lead any time.

Thank you to my friends and family that never stopped believing I would get back up after falling so hard. And to this little nugget that is letting me go back to work and push some tin.

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It happens to everyone…right?

Somewhere between being pregnant and delivering a baby I have lost myself. I have lost my sense of worth, identity and the Pierce/Thorsen girl you knew from day one. Today I write to express not to entertain.

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When I was pregnant I felt amazing. I had a non traditional 9 months with my daughter. No issues, no complications and a breeze labor and delivery. What seemed like it should have been the scariest time in my life was one of my most pleasurable. After Ryan of course, I had my times of learning as a new mom, but I was also navigating another avenue in my life of letting go of myself and giving more than 100% to another little soul.

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As many of you know I am or was a social butterfly. Pre-Ryan days I was playing kickball/softball, terrorizing the downtown streets of Raleigh and living a go go go lifestyle. I had my social life, my at home life with Harper, (who is amazing-but I will delve into that later) and my sports life. Nothing seemed to slow me down. I could have my cake and eat it too kinda thing.

I have never been able to fully understand the term, “just chill out”, I actually hate the term. Like my mother, when people tell me to “just chill out” I cringe. Mainly because I do not tell your lazy ass to just “hurry it up”, “put pep in your step”. I view it as someone telling me “I take on way too much” and “just relax”. And maybe that is the case, but I have never been able to fully sit on a couch and relax without thinking something needed to be done. It is in my blood to be on the move and now I am struggling with “chilling out” from things I used to do and love. (unlike this kid below and her chill skills)

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I have been staying at home with Ry for almost 7 months now. Harper has been blessed with a wonderful job and family at Cisco and for allowing me that time here with Ryan, I will never be able to thank him or the company enough. I enjoy my days doing things with her, seeing some of her firsts (which Harper has to miss because he is providing for our family) and developing her into the awesome little kid she is destined to be. HOWEVER, I was not born to stay at home. I have adapted but not with grace. I need adult interaction to feel normal, I want a steady income to feel like a contributor and I want all of this at no disruption to any of my family.

Easier said than done right.

Another factor is my body. I appreciate everyone who has made the nice comment “You look great”, it really does go farther than you think when inside you (and probably every woman) feels different. I know you have to put in hard work to lose the pregnancy weight and some people do not ever lose it, but I am in this rut where I do not feel 100% Ashley without being back down to my pre prego weight.

(And my mind is spitting things out here faster than I can type but just bear with me)

Its 10 lbs left for me to get there but for some reason I am putting more pressure on myself to get rid of it. There are a ton of things I can do: go back to cross-fit, start running, eat less chocolate but I find myself now making excuses for why I can NOT vs years ago pre baby when I would NEVER find a reason not to achieve a goal. This isn’t me.

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Where I seemed to veer off course and into a ditch was not fully realizing that having a baby changed the world. For the better yes. No doubt Ryan brings light into both our lives hourly. But in my own world I struggle now with my weight: something that never bothered me in the past. My emotions: hormones are a bitch and I am not quite sure why women have to have so much of them when pregnant and after.  What I used to brush off as a joke or sarcasm now rubs me the wrong way or puts me on edge. I swear its those damn hormones. And I will say it because I know I can not be the only one to go through it, but I take these things out on the one person who loves me unconditionally, for better or for worse and through my dark times he is always there, I sometimes beat down my husband because I “feel as if I am doing it all around the house”, when in reality “isn’t that my job”?

I am also not here to unload any issues Harper and I might have on a public forum, what I am saying is this “rut” I am in has allowed me to lose sight of my team mate and all he gives and has done for me and Ryan. What could be a un-done load of laundry or sweeping the m-f-ing stairs is a simple task I view as something that needs to be done right away but in reality: Is the house burning down Ashley? Is your family in danger? Are you living on the streets? NO-OK well time to mount up, put on your big girl panties (not the granny ones from the hospital) and get with the program.

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Some of you are accountable by posting on social media, some by paying money into a trainer and some can hold yourself accountable just by being present. I commend you on which ever way you choose to get the mission accomplished. For me it will take time and patience. Things I feel that run short now a days with a child. But its achievable right….women have been doing this for years.

So I write today to get it off my chest, say it out loud an begin the process of betterment. I have goals, I have dreams and all is not lost that once was. I know buried beneath the new mom of 6 months armor is Pierce/Thorsen, the girl who will always be ready to party but hopefully a little lighter, a little more relaxed and a lot more lovable now that there is a mini me running around.

Thank you for listening to me just say it out loud, I am going to go weigh myself and hope to be 10 lbs lighter from all of this!

And thank you to the momma who sat with me today after Stroller Strides and let me know we are all in this together-you know who you are. ❤

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You is crazy, You is stank, You is ratchet…

Today I laughed a lot.

Mostly at the expense of Tina and my friends who have over the years sent or posted not their best photos, after what could have been a long night of drinking, a girls cabin weekend or just Jeffrey’s scandalous snap-chats. Either way, I had real laughter today. Like deep belly laughs almost to the point of tears.

I have to give credit where credit is due to my friends…all 1,000 of them that have some time or another made me laugh. Everyone today took what was dished and some of us have some explaining to do, especially to our Mormon boss tomorrow am.

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No doubt about it when you find your “tribe” as cliche as it sounds you become thick as thieves. You fight. You Gossip. You love. And you forgive. But everything you do, you do it hard and with all your heart. Your passion for what you are fighting about is real and eventually with time and active listening you get through life together. My girl friends and guy friends are amazing. To all the people who were a part of what I have to believe was the bright spot of everyone’s rainy Tuesday today…Thanks for being weird.

Tina-You were the start of this whole string of posts. Your ability to laugh at yourself and not give two shits who likes you or not is epic. You are part of the glue that holds everyone together and you make everyone laugh whether you know it or not.

On to the other half…

There is something about a picture of someone passed out for whatever reason that makes me laugh. Most of the time the ones I see, someone has had too much to drink but other times they are sleeping peacefully. Our infamous sleeper who is guaranteed to have something placed near her mouth or nose is Ashley. However, then there is just that picture that makes you say: Wolf-Buzz’s Girlfriend.

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Then there is Umar….
18623582_10100226286177918_4397069255103939258_oOur infamous party bus. Wherever he goes fireball and trouble are sure to follow. Although circa 2002 we could not tell if the pictures below are him or Tina, we can let you be the judge, but just know if you do anything that is the slightest bit embarrassing he for sure has it locked away with your nudes and your dignity and will unleash in group me’s all over America and Pakistan.

Sweet Baby Nicole!

Her free spirit and perfume that smells like incense are sure to make you forget all your worries and strife, and the only thing she really forgets are her pants and bra most of the time. The best thing about Na-hole is she always can laugh at herself, even after a a picture like this.

I am combining the next two because some how, some way, they managed to weasel their way out of five years of bad photos and I could only find one of each.You know them separately as Lady Liberty and Little Red, Dawn and Natalie you have escaped this time, but I will be waiting around the corner with a camera like a creep the next time you girls do the walk of shame from Cornerstone or Ft. Bragg.

Jeffrey Manning….before you start reading this girl go get your weave, your black tutu and a bottle of water because we know the thirst is real. You have been a constant source of laughter from either your snap chats of you singing to the camera as if you were Celine or photos filling up the internet of you pinning some poor helpless man against the wall at Legends or in Miami. Whatever you do, I love that you stay true to yourself. Should you ever get into trouble and go to jail, if the only picture anyone had was of your butt (and it’s always out) we could pick you out of a lineup with a picture of Donald Trump’s face and they would be similar.

Little Shin Shin aka Katie aka Lil Hans aka #tastetester

Imagine Niki Minaj but change her height to 5’2, shes wearing a choker, just downed a five hour energy and has this little devil on her shoulder that says tonight I may get spunky and karaoke at Luxury Box or I might eat a box of Taco Bell and restore old furniture. Either way you are the life of the party. You are like the energizer bunny when we go out and the next day look like the party bus hit you.

Jahron…congratulations on turning 18 finally. Also congrats on being our friend. When I first met you I swear the amount of gold chains you had hanging around your neck made Chingy look like a country singer. You laugh at everything, you make people smile and you are too cool for school. You have a huge heart but a bigger forehead.

 

Marnie and Haley…my two friends who could possibly do the most destruction to any city they come in contact with like a natural disaster. Marnie is solely responsible for everyone reading this who may or may not have owned a one-sie at one time in their life and been OK with it. The first Trolley Pub we ever did together Marnie had a Barney suit on and explained to everyone she was Barney with a “M”. Meanwhile Haley was passed out somewhere on Glenwood in a bathroom stall or feeding sharks in the ocean at Carolina Beach. Either way we all know these are the two girls who bring life or death to each party….mostly inflicted by shots.

Tim aka Tammy...you were super quiet today but I will leave you with these….Thank you for being two personalities when you drink Rumplemintz.

Sharifa. We became friends over trap music and strip clubs, now look at us or should I say look at you boo boo. You would not know it but under that outfit her brows, makeup and bath bombs are on fleek.

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Lastly my dear sweet husband….thank you for starting this thread today. You allowed me to laugh and reflect on what good friends I have…or thought I had after some of the dirt they posted.

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I appreciate everyone of my friends sense of humors and ability to laugh at themselves. I think that is a trait everyone in life needs. I look forward to many more years making memories except now I have a child and have to tell her when mommy looks like this she is just stretching out after a hard workout.

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Don’t be afraid to talk about it…or ask

It’s Mother’s Day!

A day for all of us to celebrate the woman who brought us into this world and raised us to become the people we are now. For a lot of us, our mothers are not here physically on earth but we can agree she lives somewhere within us.

The beauty about time is it can be your best friend and worst enemy. Anniversary’s and days like today can be hard at first when things happen to our mothers but, like everything with time, it gets a little easier. Which leads me to my tag line…don’t be afraid to talk about it or better yet HER or ask.

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I love talking about my mom. She was so cool.

I mean like “all my friends wanted to be around her” cool growing up. She was the mom to me that I want to be to Ryan. A firm stickler for respect to everyone, not just elders. She insisted I be independent from the get go. She pushed me to excel in what I loved, not what she loved. And mainly she always made me laugh and let me know she was my biggest fan.

Her smile was infectious and her wit was uncanny. I think I am quick on my feet with sarcasm because she was that way with me.

So many friends and family have reached out to me today and do every Mother’s Day to let me know they are thinking of me. That makes me smile. It shows me what an impact she also had on their lives as well. As this year brings new meaning to Mother’s Day I reflect on a story that makes me so happy to have had 18 years with good old Pam.

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One of my favorite memories of her (and sorry to all the environmentalist) was as follows:

Growing up I attended the same school my mom taught at. This was good and bad for so many reasons. When my cousin Lindsay and I would get in trouble, talk to much in class,  or do anything bad, I was not scared to go to the principal, I was scared to see Pam.

Ms. Pam was never afraid to “jerk a knot in your tale” as she would say if any kid in her class or me got out of line. She expected greatness out of all her students and seeing some of them now and being in contact with a lot of them today, they have done exactly that.

So the one perk that stands out to me was being able to get breakfast and a snack before and after school since I rode with her in the car and not the bus from K-5. It is amazing I was not on the show my 600 lb life considering the food we ate growing up, but our two favorite stops were Hardee’s and McDonald’s.

In the morning we would grab a steak biscuit and in the afternoons a french fry with a large Dr. Pepper from McDonald’s, but if we did this there was only one rule….save your cup with ice. If any friend or one of my cousins got to spend the night on a school night you were treated to this greasy surprise and to be honest I think secretly all my friends loved it. They also loved what I am about to tell you next.

So you may ask why a cup with ice…well if you ask any of my friends, I may or may not have carried the tradition on and it goes as follows. Get yourself a drink, glass bottle of Snapple will do, a tall SHEETZ soda will also work and drink it, save the bottle and be in your car.

I PREFACE THIS WITH YOU SHOULD NOT BE THE DRIVER

(someone else should be driving)

As you and a friend drive the car down the road be on the lookout for large street signs. Yellow ones work the best but if you are an athlete then smaller signs can be a challenge. Once you have found a good, big old sign, have the driver get the car up to about 45-50 mph, at least, while you as the passenger are rolling your window down. We do not roll the window down for the brisk wind, we do it to get ready for launch.

Launch?

Yep hopefully you are following along with me: you are going to take that bottle or ice cup and throw it as hard as you can while the car is driving 45-50 mph + and chuck it out the window to hit that sign. The explosion and sound that item makes when it actually contacts the sign is so rewarding. It is like everything you have done up to that point in your life is invalid. If you miss try again the next day.

I think I became so good at softball because of this event me and my mom would do together. In our war path, the big blue mailbox on Johnson Lane, the 45 mph sign on Rescue Road and when I got really good the green street sign near Hunter’s Way.

I know this seems unethical and probably ridiculous to a lot of readers but don’t knock it until to try it. And when you try it have someone with you so you both can exude so much laughter your belly hurts and you have then created a memory. I have done this with a few of my current friends here and I believe they would agree with me: the feeling is amazing.

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I am not saying this was the parent of the year award but I am saying my mom was awesome. And she may have ventured off the path of normalcy sometimes with me and my cousins but we miss that every day with her not being here. It’s those little stories I will tell Ryan and anyone else who wants to talk about my mom.

I want everyone who knows me to know I am OK. It has been 15 years without her now, but I feel like she has been with me the whole time. Mainly because I have been OK with talking about her. Not hiding her like a painful memory.

When we lose someone I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we want you to ask, we want to talk and we want to share why this person who WE loved so much and is not here had such an impact on YOUR life. I will forever be grateful of the memories Pam and I made and I hope when you test the above action with your daughter, friend, whoever you laugh, enjoy the moment and go back and pick up the liter.

Happy Mother’s Day Pam. I love you. And Ryan I hope I am half of the woman your grandmother could have been with you. All my love sweet girl.

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Why I “Stride”

Today was my first day back to Fit4mom Stroller Strides. After my long trip up the east coast and then filling in at my old job for a week, I finally cleared my schedule and made time for myself. As any mom should know that is a hard thing to do.

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I started Stroller Strides with hesitation and anxiety. I was a 3 month old mother and not nearly as wet behind the ears as the other people who had told me about it or reached out. I did not feel I would fit in because I am different. I am sarcastic, I am nasty and pretty much already give my kid tough love. I did not want to be judged for my parenting techniques and or slip up and say something that might offend or upset another mother. But I mustered up the courage and went anyways.

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I will never forget my first class. I went with my girlfriend Jess. She had herself, just had a baby and we both had the same goal in mind: Gigi Hadid body after baby.

(Go ahead and finish laughing before you start reading again)

The class was inside and Amy was the teacher.  Amy’s enthusiasm was contagious from the get go. Jess assured me that all fitness levels were welcomed and accepted. So that made me feel a little better knowing although I wasn’t living a chain smokers life I was just breathing like I had been. The exercises were set up like a basic boot camp but there was one catch: You were “encouraged” to sing nursery rhymes and or your ABC’s while working out. Well that was it for me….I had failed my first class before I even started.

I could not remember for the life of me “knick knack patty whack” or “this old man he played three” and so on. I could barely get myself in push up position, let alone sing a song to Ryan that would probably have just sounded like a cat dying. SO instead I reserved my vocal talent for the confines of my own home and just completed the workout. Pregnancy “foopa” swinging low like a sweet chariot and all.

After we were finished it was a good feeling I had of just being active and knowing my vagina was still in tact from jumping jacks,  but also the overwhelming friendliness of people like Nora, Natalie, Summer, Amy, Brooke and Jess that sparked an interest to return. I mention these people because they were right there beside me singing Old MacDonald, pounding the gym floor, sweating off their “mom weight” and we were doing it together. Like I have said before building each other up instead of breaking each other down .

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Madi was way happier than Ryan clearly after a NH class.

I kept coming back mainly for that vitamin D of being outside at North Hills but also having conversations with adults, (because lets be honest you NEED to talk to adults if your a SAHM) that were going through or had gone through what I was. And they were and are STRONG, SUPPORTIVE women.

I then met Beatriz, Alex, Janie, Caitlin and Kasey. Again all women who had stories to tell and related to mom hood on my level. I finally got Keri to join and the circle was complete. There are too many to name now but the impact everyone has made on me as a new mom is indescribable.

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Inside at Triangle Town Center Rain or Shine everyone still gets their workout on. Even this super mom with one kid already and TWINS on the way.

Today we had a hard class. I love Caitlin’s class. Always something new and challenging but for any fitness level. But what made today’s class so cool was afterwards when we did a Mother’s Day project with the kids and moms got to talk. Yuneisy and Andrea had us all laughing and commiserating with them about their experience with labor and post pardum and did I mention how helpful and supportive our husbands were during labor?

(Again stop laughing to continue reading)

We had one fall out from seeing the actual c-section, one eating food while mom was contracting, Harper was watching TV and patting my head telling me “millions of women have done this before me”. All in all we had good laughs.

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The project was neat because the kids, although most had no idea what was going on, participated willingly and patiently. And the moms were there to help each other out. Here are some pics from our class today.

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Ryan totally already wrote out “you are my sunshine” I guess I should start signing her up for college now 😉

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I am starting to settle down in this new role as a mom and staying at home. For me this outlet works. I enjoy the friendships, the exercise and the laughter. There are a million ways to keep sane and this happens to be one of mine, along with my other group of fun girls from CF RDU which I will blog about soon. I have also found if you take the time out to ask and just listen to others you may find you have a lot more in common than you think. Although maybe sharing your post baby vagina pics is crossing the line it seems there has never been a conversation with one of my new mom friends that has been off limits…and I love finding that most peoples stories are nasty, sarcastic and funny.

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A Mom’s job is never done…

This morning my college roommate Keri and I decided to be super moms. We heard the Good Morning America Steals and Deals show was coming to City Center Raleigh so we loaded the girls up at 4:30 am and prepped for our big TV debut.

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4:30 am is usually the last feeding before the actual wake up call around 6:30-7 am, but today was different. Ryan got dressed in her “The Future is Female” shirt and of course had on her sunglasses for protection from the bright lights. 😉

Both girls Madilyn and Ryan were troopers to say the least. We arrived to the show set up around 6 am and picked up our T Shirts, Pom Poms and S.W.A.G. We had both girls strapped to us in hopes to get front row spots to inevitably become famous this morning. As the hours passed we claimed our spot on the left side of the “stage” right behind a company which is local and gives back. At the time we had no idea but the girls attracted so much attention with their cuteness today was their time to shine.

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The company is called Headbands of Hope. I had the honor of meeting Jess the owner at a Junior League event and last weekend at another charity event featuring Citrix and The Holt Brothers Foundation. (The girl has giving and doing good in her blood-its amazing) So we are just enjoying the whole atmosphere and crowd and Jess picks our girls to model her fine headbands. We were honored. If you have ever been chosen to do something by a person you really admired or thought highly about, that was Keri and my feeling when Jess asked the girls to wear these. No expectations, no fanfare just a good person doing good things and making people (even without cancer) feel beautiful.

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Headbands of Hope

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Madilyn was getting a little hungry right before the show was set to start and Keri being a good mother stepped aside to breastfeed her. Two things happened that made me write this blog today. The first was Keri started feeding Madi, in public, covered and of course wondering if people were staring at her.  A woman came up to her and smiled while saying,

A mothers job is never done.”

She is 100% spot on. This comment made me think about my mom and other moms in my life who had to be “on” all the time. From sun up to sun down we are giving ourselves to better our children and I appreciated the lady recognizing Keri’s hard work as a mother, especially at the possible cost of missing precious air time.

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A little back story to the next event: we had to stay behind this black tape line because the crowd kept creeping up onto the main “deals”. The producers kept asking us to take steps back but of course no one was moving so they could get prime time TV real estate.  After Keri was finished with Madi and coming back, which was in the front right behind that line, a woman made a comment about how Keri had left her spot and she was not moving for her to reclaim her posted area.

Now this was not the first time in the crowd people were getting pissed about moving their “spots”, it was kind of sad. Another set of cancer survivors were right beside us to the right and they were being heckled for putting their signs down and coming back. I think I was most upset with the fact that this woman had physically seen Keri feeding Madi, doing her motherly duty, and I had not left the scene where we were, so it was hard for me to understand why she was reacting this way to a mother who was just “doing her job”.

Keri handled the lady with grace and acted more like an adult than the woman did and after the heartless woman saw that kindness and compassion go a long way she dropped the attitude and was actually rather helpful the rest of the show.

We tackled some major milestones today in many ways: the girls and their wake ups, dealing with difficult people and overall learning about kindness and giving yourself in so many ways. We both said we were going to help Headbands of Hope by becoming Headband Hero’s and volunteering our time and efforts to those children who need to feel beautiful during treatment.

I think this is a perfect time for you as a reader to hopefully think about something you can give yourself too. A charity, a child as a mentor or the elderly. There are so many organizations and people that just need a smile so go out today, make a difference (which I know most of you already do) and remember, “Our jobs are never done!” image3.JPG

 

There are two phrases which I can live without ever hearing again….

I have had some hard blows in life: the loss of my mom at 18, my Air Traffic Control Evaluations and the tragic loss of my sweet Maggie. However, I also know my life has been very blessed with too many things to list, but one thing that will forever stick out in my mind as a struggle, a fight and being unsuccessful, which I am not used to, was my journey with breast feeding.

As a woman you are built and made to have babies. I do not say this to put labels on women, but its science, our said “wide-hips”, our fabulous boobs and our ever-ready batteries that never quit prepare us for motherhood. So naturally you think when you get pregnant this is what I will do and most of the time hope for that.

I got a swift smack in the face around week 7 and I had to make the ultimate decision was it better for my breastfeeding journey to continue, with a child that was “failing to thrive and starving” or try and build a bond with my daughter while mixing formula and supplementing with a bottle as opposed to a breast?

At the hospital most new moms are not aware of the extensive “mammogram like” techniques the lactation people and nurses use to try and help you learn how to begin feedings. Like mentioned in a previous blog I tried football hold, backwards build up, frontward flip out and all the other types of pillow props and squeezes you could do to a boob. And with much success I got the needed colostrum to get my baby girl on track to breastfeed. They call it liquid gold and damn if it that is not the truth. You work your butt off as a new mom to get 4-5 drops and you feel like a super hero when you do.

Then you leave the hospital…..and you don’t have 10 people grabbing your boobs and mashing them like pancakes to fit in your kids mouth. Not to mention your poor baby looks as if they are suffocating because the nurse just rammed your kids head up to your boob with no finesse. But lets be honest there is no real smooth transition to plopping a boob on your kids head.

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Ryan was born with great lungs and acid reflux which we did not know about until week 5. I could not figure out why this kid was crying non stop, why I was crying non stop and that she was not making the gains needed to “thrive”. I busted my tale the first two weeks to get her to her birth weight, but she just was not getting from me what I thought I was putting out. One pediatrician who was not our normal one, which I will never understand, used the words that no new mom wants to hear, “Your child is failing to thrive and essentially starving”. How could this be possible? I myself was starving, not sleeping and up with her every two hours-then pumping and then repeating the process again to really only run myself down to not “thriving”.

After I left this appointment I felt like I had failed Ryan. I had given my heart and all of my boobs and nothing was working. That’s when I decided to take the next step and bring in a lactation consultant. Michelle was glorious the first visit. We weighed Ry and she was about 6 pounds 12 ounces. After her feeding from each side she had gotten about 3 ounces total. IMPROVEMENT!!! (So we thought) We attempted a nipple shield which if you have ever used is glorious until your child has a fit and slings their hands into it.  Milk goes everywhere, it falls on the floor, you cant feed without it, baby is crying, you are crying …it’s fun. But this was the only thing that would work at the time.

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Michelle brought it to my attention watching Ry’s mannerisms that she may have re-flux because her constant battle with the boob and arching her back showed some sort of pain. Her cries were not, ” Hey mom  I am tired,” they were ” Hey mom this hurts so bad please make it stop”, but I could not and did not know what to do next…UNTIL this glorious drug called NEXIUM.

After about 2 weeks the drug was wonderful and began to work but because I had to pull Ryan from my breast and exclusively pump I lost my supply. Can you imagine, because now its a blur to me, but I worked SO HARD for that supply for 7 weeks and it was gone. I had friends come and help, I sent pictures of my boobs to nurses (hope those are not floating around the internet) and you tubed every possible thing to do to get my supply back but nothing worked.

It was honestly again like I had failed Ryan. I was going to have to give her man-made formula and not give her what my body and God had intended for me to give her as a baby. I was up every two hours pumping to get .05 ounces or maybe 1 ounce combined. Moms you know what a disappointment this is when all the other people around you are making too much and you can not do enough. I cried…for maybe the last time I would about breastfeeding.

I went to the pediatrician and stated my case. I asked what my next option was considering my own sanity and health were at risk now.

And to all you moms who texted with me at 12-2-4-6 am feedings…I love you. You got me through this and you probably don’t know you did. To the other moms who sent me messages, gift cards, “you’re doing great” texts…you kept me sane. Because at this time in me and Ryan’s life my tear ducts were dried up and I was questioning why I had a baby.

My Pediatrician, Dr. Shaw, who I love at Oberlin Road said,  “Ashley you have a choice. You have a beautiful baby girl who needs her mom….healthy. And you have a desire to breastfeed. You have a decision to make and its either one with your pump and or your child. You choose, but I know how hard you are fighting for this and I do not want you to look back and wish you had a better relationship with your little girl instead of a Medela breast pump”.

That was it, that was my ah-ha moment as a new mom. I wanted Ryan to be happy and full and fed. She was not getting that from me and I had to get that through my brain. I was giving her my all but I was not giving her credit for also being a little person in this new big world, trying to figure it out too. So I washed my pump parts for the last time, I put everything in the attic and I wrote a journal entry breaking up with my pump.

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I have not looked back and wished I would have continued. I have a happy, healthy baby girl and I owe that to Similac and Harper and my parenting skills. You would be amazed at the stares I get when I shake my baby’s bottle to mix, or when I buy 3 containers of formula at once at the store but then I think that person probably has never been a new mom and if they have…shame on them.

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I want to start a movement where its not really “fed is best”, but mom’s sanity and health is best and so is the relationship with my little toot. While I applaud all my mommy friends who whip out their boobs to feed, which is a hard thing to do in itself (and I know you are not exhibitionist): I am happy for you and congratulate you on your success to do that. I hope as a fellow mom you can also feel that for me the same: we build each other up instead of beating each other down.  Boob, Bottle or Blue Motorcycles we are all drinking something.

 

 

 

 

 

4-20: A day which will go down in infamy

I love the saying my how times have changed. They really have.

Ten years ago I could run fast, shotgun a beverage, shake my skinny butt to the ground and I had to make the best choice for my future and that was whether to wake up or not for an 8 am class. I owe most of these amazing talents to Roanoke College and my ever loving teammates on my Softball team: OAA!

Anyways these days I am lucky if I make it down or up the stairs without breaking a sweat, and if I dare tried to “shotgun” anything I’m sure my nasal passage would have the last laugh.

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(Elliott challenged me to a push up contest after a couple drinks….I died)

I taught a pitching lesson last night and had to squat for my student to catch: that ended in me falling backwards and may or may not have farted on the downfall. I do not know how catchers do that for 7 innings…mad props. I will be icing my knees later.

This thought for today’s blog was brought on by a Facebook time hop that reminded me last year on this date, April 20, 2016, I was having my first ultrasound of Ryan, solo, because my husband was borderline croaking in the ER at Rex for having meningitis.

The ultrasound had been on the schedule since we had found out I was pregnant however Harper’s doctor visit had not been. The night before we were set to go see a glimpse of our little embryo, Harper complained of an excruciating headache and feeling pressure/pain.

Now most women know when a man complains of being in pain or having a cold the earth stops. Halt everything, do nothing more but tend to the man in the bed dying of a runny nose. So in this case I concluded Harper was one of those men. So I brushed it off as a wimpy, desperate attempt for service and attention. I told him to take an Advil and get over it. (looking back now I see what a loving wife I was) Hours later the pain would return and this time Harper said he was literally dying.

I knew this time Harper was not joking because he could barely move and said “his brain might explode” and I definitely did not want brain guts on my walls, so we went to Rex.

I drove like Dale Andretti getting us to the ER to sit and wait for 3 hours while Harper’s brain really was exploding inside but no one knew it. In triage I have found if you are nice to the nurses about your impending death they tend to get you in a room quicker. When that does not work walk around the ER making noises as if your last breath was the next one, but make sure you do it loud enough that people before you will give up their bed to get you back there. When Harper’s moans got to Elliott level hungover (comparable to a long, pathetic sigh after Thanksgiving dinner) the nurses took us back.

Tests were run and finally the ER doctor’s concluded after a very invasive spinal tap, which was super cool to watch, that Harper had contracted meningitis.

I love the word contracted it makes everything sound so much worse!

Signs were put on the doors, nurses looked like ghost busters coming and going out of the room and I thought we would sit in darkness for most of the time we were there. Doctors were doing the best they could for my husband but I thought maybe I should let the nurses know I was pregnant and could this affect things?

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STOP THE PRESS: DEATH-CON FIVE: THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT-this is contagious and lets gear you up too just in case! Awesome…for hours now I have been placing my unborn fetus and myself at risk for this possible death virus, COOL, can i have a mask maybe? Or a full blown body suit?

This was about the time I had to leave Harper’s side to go to our first ultrasound to see Ryan. I was already anxious and upset because of my mom not being here, but this was the icing on the cake. I got to the appointment and just started crying and babbling :my husbands dying and I am going to be a single mom, I can not do this.

After the nurses dramatically and quickly calmed me down I saw my baby girl and heard her heartbeat. What a noise! If you have never been a mom before I can not explain it, but that little pulsating, swishing on that screen can make the worst day better or for those unexpected babies the reality a lot more real! 😉

When we found out Harper’s diagnosis and the scary truth that it was SUPER contagious once again my tribe, my crew, my friends rallied together and although not all pictured here who helped my house looked like Prince Ali Babba’s spotless floors.  When my friends or I put out the bat signal its usually a matter of minutes before someone is there to the rescue. In this case it was a village.IMG_1981

I mean we probably could have eaten dinner off the bathroom floors had I wanted to that day because of these people!

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Long story short….we both lived…we all lived. And I can look back a year later thanking the heaven’s above that I get to come home every day to this…… Happy 4:20 everyone!

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