Wednesday, December 15

Until next time...

I'm back.  Merry Christmas one and all.  (And a belated Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Halloween.)  I know I know.  2 1/2 months is a tad long to keep everyone wondering just what kind of utter mayhem is happening at the Ashleys that would so overcome me, I just could not bring myself to capture it in words.  Actually, life has been so calm and peaceful that I've been left without material.

Ok, not really.  There's been plenty of chaos to be sure, however I really am just hoping that eventually it'll all be forgotten, as the driving forces behind it haven't been...exactly pleasant to live through.  The culprit?  Bronchitis.  Serious bronchitis.  3 months now.  And no signs of letting up.  Oh, and little Ashley #3.  Coming this June.

So, when Mommy has had the strength and energy and desire to arise from her bed (or wherever she's plopped her ailing body last), upon then beholding what little Ashley #1 and little Ashley #2 have found to entertain themselves with, she typically has found her way back to bed or just closes her eyes and mutters not-so-sweet nothings as she shuffles through the rubble to make some hot cider or tea before collapsing once more.  In fact, at one point I was "cooking" whatever could be made with boiling water in an electric tea pot on the bathroom counter.  I'm talking DINNER - Top Ramen, fed to my children for the first time in their lives, in the bathtub!  Pathetic, eh?  Oh yes. We've descended to the depths.  In fact, when we asked the girls what they want for Christmas, Abby's response was: "(some toy), a clean house, and a wonderful mommy and daddy and sister..." Ellie told me "I hate our house.  It's so messy." Ugghhh.  And no matter my feeble efforts to at least keep clean clothes on our bodies and wash enough dishes to eat off of, I am just no match for the force that is my daughters' need to disrupt any sense of order and "create" - with any and every possible thing in this house.

Anyway... there's the update on the household chaos front.  As far as the whirlwind of life (that has sort of been like a windmill in a windstorm, but with a couple missing sails swirling erratically around - buh bump buh bump) we've been just holding on as best we can.  Pretty much the only consistency around here has been found in the girls' ballet and tap class each Saturday morning - which we're regularly late for, since there are 8 shoes and wandering leotards and tights involved.  Twice I've been the one who, in spite of getting out the door to be very close to on time, has forgotten the shoe bag entirely.  Once we had to make a stop at Target on the way, since I figured the time it would take to buy a new leotard would be less than to look for it.  But at least the girls really seem to enjoy their new-found artistic outlet and I enjoy watching them "practice" at home.

I can't mention the erratic windmill without mentioning that our elation (disillusion?) at the prospect of Adam working semi-decent hours at his new job lasted for, oh, about two weeks.  M&T just had to up and buy a couple banks which has turned this new job (in my opinion as the sick pregnant wife) into a worse (meaning time-consuming) situation than the last.  And so, some nights we eat Top Ramen in the bath. (Ok. It was just one night. I promise.)

Turns out that when one feels gross, one tends not to focus on spreading joy.  Or maybe that's just me - and now you might understand why I've held off writing for as long as I have.  I'll do my best to pep up and recall happier events from the last near-quarter of the year in more posts, but felt it was high time to at least make some record of our life.  We're alive.  Barely at times, but alive.  And hoping you (whoever might read this anymore) are well and enjoying this Christmas season.  Until next time...


Ellie, after we dropped Abby off at school: "Mom, I don't want to stay home with you today. I want to go to school."

Ellie, looking out the car window one evening: "I see piles of sky. Pink, blue and purple."

Ellie: "I don't want a princess ice pack. I want a fruit snack ice pack."

Abby, while coloring at the local library: "Mom, my head is telling me a story while I work." Me: "Oh yeah? Which one?" A: "The heffalump story. Shh! I can't hear it!"

Ellie, holding up a mesh dirty clothes hamper: "Mom, what is this?" "I's a dirty clothes hamper." E: "What does hamp mean? When do we get to go hamping?"

Abby, singing to Follow the Prophet while in the bath: "Enoch was a prophet, sixth one that we know. He lived in South America and helped the things to grow.  Ammon was a prophet, he lived in...Egypt.  He was very special, he taught the Holy Ghost. This is Samurai, tenth one that we know, he lived in..." Ellie: "Egypt?" Abby: "Mexico."

Abby: "Let's play 'whom the crazy do you think you are?'"

Abby: "It was very important for Nephi to go back to Jerusalem so he could get the Plates of Grass.  He had thaif in the Lord."

Abby, holding up a "10-minute workout" page in a Parenting magazine: "Look Mom! Here's something you could use!"  

Ellie: "Do you know what 'darn it' means?" Me: "No, what?"  Ellie: "It means our car is in the water."

Ellie:  "Mommy, I am so assumptive with you."  Me: "You're so what?"  E: "I am SO assumptive with you.  Assump means disappointed.  And I am assumptive with you."

Ellie, gasping with delight at the first word she read on her own: "N-O! That spells No!  I spelled it!"

Ellie, feeding me her pretend soup: "I made it with smashed potatoes, and with watermelon, and it has beef and candy!  And... spunch!"

Abby: "Mom, on Saturday night, Lisa and I are going to have a Release Siety Ball.  And Ellie has to stay in the toy room because we'll have very dangerous equipment."  Ellie: "No! I don't like your recision!"

Abby: "Mom, I'm making this necklace for you for you to wear when you get married again." Me: "Oh? When am I going to get married again?" Abby: "When you're old.  Sometimes old people get married again.  And Mom? Can you not make your head hang down when you're old?"

Tuesday, October 5

Piano Piano

Although I write in beautiful, golden silence (Abby at school, Ellie at preschool) my mind swirls with bits and pieces of the last two (three?) weeks since my last post and my eyes are drawn to the tornado of my house and I wonder. "What was I thinking?" Calm?  Order?  Not here.  Not here.

But I try.  I do try.  I do my dishes every day now.  (Usually.)  That's an improvement.  We always have clean clothes.  (Although by the time I get around to folding the various laundry piles throughout the house, I'm usually sorting the dirty ones from the clean.)  I purchased a paper sorter that hangs (hung) on the kitchen wall so all the papers that once found their final resting spot on the end of my counter - posing a continual fire hazard, as they occasionally slipped onto the stove burners - are now thrown away or given a home. ( I say hung, as Abby did rip it out off the wall whilst trying to access her school calendar, leaving nice dime-size holes where it hung for a few days.)  AND, I have started making lists!  The only thing (almost) Adam has ever requested of me in our marriage.  I have my Major/Minor project list for each room in our house done.  Now I have to finish lists for the Major/Minor outside projects, my daily cleaning schedule, my menu, my projects to work on with the girls, my self-improvement ideas, etc. etc.  So, "pian piano" as they say in Italy.  Slowly. Little by little.  I'll get there...(?)

As I try to grasp at something that sticks out from the last three weeks - some sort of constant or theme - I'd have to say it is the new bane of my existence: the school bus.  Sadly, I knew it eventually would come to this, but I've tried so hard to not let it happen this soon.  It only took us until week two to miss the bus in the morning for the first time.  And it's only happened 3 times since.  And really, for once being consistently late is not my fault.  Abby is such an eager, sweet doll to work with in the morning.

 This morning as we saw it nearing the house, all three girls went into a frenetic panic trying to find Abby's shoes, backpack and jacket.  Thankfully, the nice bus driver lady waited while we rammed Abby's feet into her half-dry sneakers that I washed last night (we couldn't find any others).  I sent her off without a jacket, as she tried telling me she needed a tissue and I told her to just get one at school.  Yeah.  I am the best mom.  Then there was last Wednesday when I fell asleep with Ellie and for some random reason woke up at 2:45.  Abby's bus passes at 2:35.  I ran downstairs in a total fog and felt relieved as I opened the front door to see the bus coming down the street.  As Abby hopped off, the bus driver (different not-so-nice man) proceeded to ask what had happened - not that he cared to know.  I was supposed to be waiting 10 minutes ago and she couldn't get in and he was about to take her back to school and now I'd made him 10 minutes late for his next route... That was a good day.

I since have made a point to leave my front door open just in case.  Well, then, last Friday I forgot they had early dismissal and would be dropped off 15 minutes early.  So, at 2:20 I heard someone knocking at the back door and looked out front to see the school bus.  Oh man.  So, as I opened the FRONT door, that was unlocked, I saw Abby running from the back of the house toward the bus shouting "She forgot again!  Like last time!"  I beckoned to my darling child to come in, not making eye contact with my new afternoon bus driver nemesis.  And so, the struggle continues.  We will overcome. We will.

In spite of the bus ordeals, semi-frequent time outs at school and addressing taking the Lord's name in vain - thank you, sweet 5-yr-old peers - Abby seems to be loving everything else about Kindergarten.  Especially when Mom gets to come be a lunch helper.  I think I might do that more often just to feel better about myself and gain reassurance that I truly am loved.

As for Ellie, she is officially a double preschooler!  On M/W, she goes to the Clearfield Community Center and T/Th she goes to the Four Moms Trade preschool, which ends up being at our house for music day once or twice a month.  (Photos are of her first day at each.)  She loves her new friends and existing in a world where she's one of the older ones and has some say in what they play and how things are.

Being home alone with Mom after preschool has been somewhat of an adjustment (for us both), as the lack of Abby's presence brings an almost eerie calm.  This, in turn has caused Ellie to develop a slight phobia of being alone and so just in time for Halloween, I have a new little shadow.  (Which isn't the worst thing in the world...)  This isn't to say Ellie doesn't share her sister's propensity to explore and create and make all sorts of messes when I've turned my back, but it's a whole lot easier addressing them without her usual parter in crime.  We try to get out as much as possible, but even then - she has a knack for getting lost at Target and after apple picking managed to take at least one bite out of nearly every apple, which she then left dispersed throughout the house.  She can be quite active when it suits her.
Adam enjoys his new job (I think).  When you have a golf outing the second day, how couldn't you?  He explained that he feels like a fireman - when his team is needed, they're really really needed.  As in, when a deal is going down.  Apparently they finished a 6-month deal the weekend before he started, so things are slow going for now.  Hey - I'll take it.

So that's us in a cracked nut shell.  We did have a couple of quick visits from my cousin Emily, her husband Todd and their two darling kids, as well as a fast and furious few days with my sister Candace.  'Thank heavens for visitors' will forever be one of my mottos.  So fun.  And now, here's to being back to the whirlwind of my life....


Abby, interrupting a conversation between Adam and me: "Okay, guys.  You both sign in on this card.  Sign your names - not your real names, just your pretend ones, like 'Mommy' and 'Daddy'."

I told Ellie to get her shoes on so we could go get a brownie mix at the store.  Ellie: "I don't want to MIX brownies, I want to EAT brownies!"

Ellie: "Mom, can I please play Dinosaur Train and then go to school?  That's what my options for you are."

Me: "Eleanore, you have not picked up this mess like I told you to!" Ellie, hip cocked and lips pursed: "But I AM beautiful."

Ellie, lying next to Adam in attempts to sleep: "Dad, I'm double hungry."

Abby, handing me a tiny pumpkin eraser: "Here Mom.  This is your prize for being a good time-outer.  It's your first award."

Abby: "Do you know what terrified means?  It means you're afraid.  Like you're terrified of a fire in your town. Do you know what terrifido means? It starts with the same word.  It means you're mean and do not let anyone have a turn and you throw someone down on the hard floor and you're kickin' 'em and hittin' 'em and and and scratchin' 'em and PUNCHIN' em!  That's what terrifido means."

Ellie showed me a page of drawings: "This is an apple, this is a lemon, this is an orange, this is a container..."

Ellie: "This is the baby doll's bottle.  It's carmel."

While the girls played "babies" with the three eggplants harvested from the garden, Ellie's eggplant asked:  "Is your mom seven?" Abby's: "Oh no.  My mom's eight."

Ellie: "I want to call Nana for one more flavor.  For one more thing."

Abby, out of the blue after dinner: "Guys, I have the hiccups, so don't say funny things like 'hee hee hee look at me!'"

Abby, during one of our "we need to work on staying out of trouble at school" talks: "So, if I don't get a sad face for 300 years, I get a PRIZE??"

I asked Abby if she knew what self discipline means. Abby: "No. What's slef stepluplin?

We've been coming up with different phrases to use in place of "Oh my...". Abby:  "When I was going to say "oh my" and "oh my gosh," I actually stopped and started over and said "uh-oh!"  Ellie: "When I was going to say "oh my gosh" I stopped and started over and said "I want some more chicken."

Sunday, September 12

Movin' On

Well, she's officially a school girl!  Abby started Kindergarten this week and, thankfully, is a fan.  Tuesday morning she woke up at 6:00 am, ready to pack her lunch box.  She informed me while hopping into the bathtub that since she's grown up now, she doesn't need to play with tub toys, so that was the quickest bath of her 5 years.  She might have been a tad excited.  We got her all spiffed up, packed her lunch (I think she had one of every lunch item we stocked up on - 7 kinds of fruit, yogurt, string cheese, water and juice etc. - most of which got put back) had a protein-packed egg and bacon breakfast and headed out to wait for the bus!              

After forgetting to review her teacher's name or her room number (which somehow she recalled when she got to school) or any other pertinent information that she might need, we all stood in nervous anticipation.  Once the first glimpse of that big yellow bus was had, both girls got very quiet.  A quiet I don't know that I've ever heard before.  While it pulled up, we had our last round of kisses and hugs and then, without a backward glance, Abby hopped on.  Of course I had instructed her to sit toward the front and of course all the other mothers had done the same, so I watched as my little blond girl walked further and further toward the back until another little girl invited her to sit down.  And like that, she was whisked down the street and I, choking back the tears, tried to fathom where the 5 preceding years had gone.

I think it will take a little bit for Abby to adjust to 6 consecutive hours of organized, scheduled activity, as I'm pretty sure we didn't have 2 hours of organized anything this summer.  And we had to have the "why do you still have an entire sandwich and all your carrots left?" talk while emptying out her lunch box the second day.  Turns out she shared a friend's chocolate bar for lunch instead.  Other than a girl "yelling" at Abby (after Abby admittedly accused her of not sharing), everything else is a go. 

Luckily for Ellie and Mommy, preschool starts this week!  About an hour after Abby left for school the second day, I found Ellie in the front yard perched on the rock next to the road.  She was waiting for Abby to come home.  On Friday, about an hour before Abby got home, I again found Ellie on the waiting rock.  I informed her she needed to come in so I could finish cooking and was responded to with hands on her hips and: "Mom. These are your two options: you can go in the house and clean and I can stay out here to wait for Abby. THOSE ARE YOUR OPTIONS!" I think it will take Ellie some time to adjust too, as she clearly misses her best play friend. 

Last, but certainly NOT least, as far as talk about moving on goes, we are celebrating Adam's recent job offer from M&T Bank!!!  And while he's excited to be working in their Mergers and Acquisitions dept., really what we're excited about is having our daddy at home 4-10 hours longer every day!!!  And real vacation time!  Hip Hip Hooray!  Hip Hip Hooray!  HIP HIP HOORAY!!!  This also infers that we'll be settling down here in the Buff (Williamsville) and really are quite thrilled at becoming true Western New Yorkers.

To be honest, I'm a little bit nervous that with having so much time on my hands, the chaos of my life will actually be wrangled and brought into order.  What does one do in/with a clean house?  How does one think in silence?  What if I have to change my blog name??  

(Then I remember who I am and who will be walking through those doors every day.  Never mind.)


Me:  "Abby, I need you to focus on making your bed. Focusing will be very important in kindergarten."  Abby: "What does focus mean?" Me: "It means to think about what you've been asked to do and then do it."  A: "Ohh. What's that word again?"

Abby, taunting Adam and Ellie while they played a video game: "You guys have boring fun.  I'm going to go have fun fun.  I'm going to do a fun job."

I was scrolling through children's books on Amazon.  Ellie:  "No!  Go back! That title!  No, that title!"

Ellie stood by as I emptied the kitchen garbage.  E: "Ooh.  That stinks!  I'm going over here to get a better nose."

I hurried Abby to eat her breakfast, as she risked missing the school bus. Abby: "Mom, just calm down.  Stop worrying about me and let go of yourself.  I'll be fine.  Just let go of yourself."

Ellie, finding treasures under the couch: "I've never seen a pink remote in my whole life!"

Ellie walked in to the computer room, dripping with bath water: "Mom, Abby's ready to get washed because she's being contentious.  I am not.  I am the queen."

Abby's latest compliments at every meal (be it raisin bran or pasta al forno): "Oh Mom.  This is great.  This is JUST awesome.  Really, it is SO delicious."  (I just wish I could take her seriously.)

Ellie, to Adam: "Dad, I need Abby's violin! I need to take Abby's violin in the car so I can practice my songs on the way to church. I really need to practice."

Sunday, September 5

Come and GONE

I really really really cannot believe summer has already come and blown by us.  So, to catch up before I blink and Christmas has come, I'll quickly capture the stand-out events and moments of our lazy days (that I just don't remember as being all that lazy).

One of our summer highlights was definitely the morning we spent blueberry picking together.  Of course, despite going over the "rules" that pretty much entailed not eating the blueberries until after we paid for them - and only picking blue berries (not green, not magenta, just deep blue) - one of us kept ending up berry-less every 10 minutes or so.  In fact, Ellie tried snitching on Adam after seeing him "sample" a few, however she had so many blueberries in her cheeks that all we heard was "THATHY'th EATHING BTHUEBETHIETH!"

Abby, of course, found the biggest, the best, the most hidden, the... and then requested we share our spoils so she ended up with the most.  But good times were had by all.  And boy are freshly picked blueberries (and blueberry pancakes and blueberry milkshakes and blueberry muffins...) GOOD!!!

Our next fun times were had when Grammy came to visit!  Since we had so much fun blueberry picking the first time we had to take Grammy to pick too.  An then, we played and ate at Wegmans and went to the Strong museum and Palmyra and ate at Dinosaur BBQ and went to "the beach" and ate at Bill Grey's and visited Aunt Gina's cats (oh, and Gina and Tom) and ate scrumptious Paella and many antipasti and yep, pretty much just played and ate! 

Fun times in the backyard.

Thanks for coming Grammy!! WE MISS YOU!!!

For our last hoorah of summer, Daddy actually took a WEEK off of work (sort of, but hey - a valiant effort) and we hit the road to Bah-Jinya!!  Of course I forgot the camera, but Abby reassured me while on our way to catch a frog at the local park that it was okay - she would be bringing the frog home for a pet and I could take its picture then.  Sadly, the only thing she caught with her butterfly net was a dead fish - which she insisted that I carry in a bucket of water during our nature hike through the hills.  I thought I had distracted her by pointing out various fungi growing in and around decomposing logs, but she caught me as I (very discretely) sent that fish and its pond water sailing through the trees.  Not good.  Luckily the fish's soul in the form of a beautiful yellow butterfly (or, bat...?) flitted through the woods soon thereafter and - things were fine.  

So, good times playing Simon Says and Red Rover in the park with Nana and Granddad and Uncle Dave.  Good eats.  Really good relaxation.  Thanks to Nana and Granddad, as always, for their superb Southern hospitality.

As for Ellie updates as promised in the former post, first and foremost, Ellie suddenly started prrrronouncing her Rrrrrrs.  To the point that I really want to get the Italian and Spanish going with her while the girl can rrrrrrroll those Rrrrrrrs.  Sad, though, that my little guhl is gwoing up.

And, apparently at our house part of the gwoing up process involves exploring one's propensity to create.  Messes.  While Grammy was visiting, Ellie decided to paint her arms purple.  Apparently my reprimands (and confiscating the offending materials) are good for nothing these days since the following day, she did it again! (Only, just hands and a partial arm.)  When she did it AGAIN, the third day, I wasn't much feeling like a photo shoot.  Okay, so I asked for it.


But I did NOT ask for this (really):

Ironic that she's playing with a stuffed dog?  Oh this was ALL Ellie.  Don't ask me what came over the dear child. My mom asked how I reprimanded her, but I have to admit that after happening upon this scene, all I could do was think how grateful I was that she had gone and done what I have felt like doing for a good couple of years now.  Not good, I know.  This couch served us well.  But I think we're done.  (Sad that my Salvation Army $20 love seat is in better shape?)  So, yes, Ellie is alive.  Very alive.

                                                                                                              A quick update to my last post about Abby: tooth #2 quickly found it's way out of her mouth (like a couple days after the first one) and I suspect all those quarters had something to do with it.  It'thss kinda fun lissthening to her ssthpeak.  But hard to believe she can be this old.  Kindergarten here we come!!!

And so, we bid summer adieu and are grateful we can look back upon it with smiles.


Consoling Abby over a couple of spider bites, I tried to explain how/why some spiders bite.  Abby: "I know what spiders don't hurt people!  Big Daddy Arm Legs!  They're friendly bugs!  And we can pick them up and play with them!"  Ellie: "Yes! Big Arm...Daddy Legs love us and we love them.  They love different people." 

I scrambled to get the girls in the car, get buckles on and make it to Ellie's 7:50 am derm appointment.  Abby: "Mom, why do we have to go to the doctor for Ellie?"  Me: "Because he needs to check her skin."  A: "But why?"  "Because he needs to make sure it's healing."  "But why?"  "So her nubbin doesn't grow back on her chin."  "Why?"  "Just because, Abby."  "Why because?" "Abby, that's just how it is and I don't have answers to all the 'why' questions - so don't ask me anymore."  "Why?"

Ellie, to Grammy:  "My daddy's at work making some new money to spend."

Grammy to Abby: "Can I come to Kindergarten with you?"  A: "No!  You're too big!"  G:  "I could just hide on the school bus...and walk on my knees so I'm short." A, thinking it over:  "Ok.  But you have to get those pimples off your face."

While the car was being serviced (at the QuickyLube while we stayed inside the car), a mechanic opened the glove box to get to the air filter.  Abby:  "Why's the garbage man getting in there?"

Abby to me, on a particularly difficult day: "I'm not listening to you.  No one is going to be your child."

Ellie, showing Adam a picture she'd drawn of him in church: "This is a picture of you, Dad. And you're not funny."

Tuesday, August 24

Cloud Nine

[Before I "begin" and if you haven't already been blasted out, unsuspecting of the music blaring from your speakers, I'll forewarn all readers that I did add a music playlist that automatically turns on, the volume level of which I cannot control.  While they are some of my favorite songs and so I'm keeping them at least this round, you can turn it off or down by scrolling to the bottom.  Let me know yay or nay as far as keeping the music goes in the comments.  Grazie.]

Wow, do we have some catching up to do!  Not that that's unusual around here.  I think we'll go backwards, however, as today's big news won't seem so grand in two weeks when we'll still have photos and great memories of Grammy's visit and blueberry picking with Daddy.  We'll get to all that, eventually.  But first things first.

Abby has had quite the week, to be sure.  Above all, she would have everybody know that she turned 5!  A couple of her friends, Lisa and Jane, joined Abby for a Rainbow Princess celebration, complete with a lunch of shrimp (her favorite) at a "fancy" restaurant and rainbow cupcakes with rainbow sherbet at home in her princess castle.  What fun.  The local geriatric community loved watching the princesses parade into... and run around... Red Lobster, and the girls loved holding a real live (well, it was then) lobster!  Thankfully, I was able to talk Abby out of her firm decision to have a three-tiered rainbow cake (she graciously offered to wait until she turns 7) and she settled instead for tiers upon which we placed princess rainbow cupcakes.  All in all it was a regal, magnificent day.  And now, as I surf the sea of Barbies that overtook the toy room that afternoon,  I'm left trying to accept that my baby girl is really 5.

Then, as if a birthday wasn't enough of a milestone to be reached this week,  Abby decided to kick growing up into 6th gear and lose her first tooth!  Apparently the plums I grabbed for breakfast on the way to church were a tad unripe and, well... I'd like to say that Abby's losing her tooth during Sacrament Meeting actually helped calm things a bit and gave her something to think about, but her excitement was not easily contained and I'm pretty sure everyone sitting in the 5 rows in front and back of us knew by the end of the meeting that Abby LOST A TOOTH!!!

Of course, in spite of mine and Adam's best efforts to keep the tooth safe so that it would in fact make it underneath Abby's pillow, Abby did request to hold the tooth when we got home and it was lost forever in under a minute.  She asked Adam to help her write a note (which he drafted and had her sign, and which read something like:  Dear Tooth Fairy,  I disobeyed my Mommy and Daddy and therefore lost my tooth.  Please accept my sincerest apologies,  Abby) and placed it under her 5-foot-long body pillow, in hopes that the Tooth Fairy would understand.  Apparently she did, as Abby woke me up this morning, shouting "Mom! The TF took the note and left 4 coins under my pillow!"

And THEN, as if all of that wasn't enough, Abby got a call from the local library yesterday informing her that she was the summer bicycle raffle winner!  I guess all late fines considered, we came out on top, so our Monday morning book check-outs were worth it in the end.  (We did read some pretty great books too.)  Abby consented to keeping the new, bigger bike for next year only after we realized the back tire has no air (I'm hoping they just didn't fill it up to discourage library patrons from riding it off the book shelves??)  And with this cherry on top of the last week's sundae of events, Abby is off floating somewhere in the sky on cloud 9.

Ellie is alive and well.  When not sleeping and snuggled up to her twin, she can be found snorting Nesquick.  And that's pretty much all there is to be said about that.  (Many more Ellie updates to follow...)

So, that's the very latest, freshest Ashley news.  Until next time...

Ellie, handing Adam some gummy-vites:  "Daddy - you need to eat your vitamins or you won't grow up!  And you need to grow up!"

Ellie: "This sucker is the tastiest, suckiest sucker in my whole white world!"

Abby:  "Oh my GOSH!  Where is that stinkiness coming from??"

Abby, as I turned down the volume of a CD I'd burned: "Thanks, Mom, for making me another copy."

Abby:  "Mom, your belly is big.  Your shirt is coming up and showing your belly because it is so big." = (

Ellie:  "All the millions are coming to get us from outer space!"

I informed Ellie we couldn't go to Target because we were driving in the wrong direction.  Ellie: "But there's another Target 3 miles up ahead!"

Abby gave Ellie a little kick.  Ellie: "YOU are being betentious!"  Abby, snickering: "Betentious??  You mean CONtentious!"  E, scowling:  "You're being self-ful."

Thursday, July 22

Home Again

It's 7 am on a Saturday morning.  The other Ashleys still sleep and so, I write.  The girls are back from Bah-jinya, where they've spent the last two weeks running Nana and Grandad into the ground while Adam and I escaped to our new very favorite place -VERMONT.  Oh, wow.  I pine for thee, Vermont.

So, we decided it was time for a get-away since our first and last one was taken when I was 7 months along with Ellie.  (Early March isn't exactly ideal beach-going time in New Jersey either.)  I suppose Adam might consider our "honeymoon" to be the first (and only other) time spent devoted to enjoying each other's company, except that, oh yeah - he started work in Manhattan 36 hours after we were married and within those hours we squeezed in a move to the East Coast.  That meant I got to meander around NYC until 6 pm every day for a week...alone.  So, 6+ years later, it was high time for a true escape.

And boy, did we find it.  Have I mentioned yet how much I loved VT?  Green, luscious mountains.  Lakes and streams.  Perfect for camping, which we attempted for a couple of days.  Wonderful back roads with centuries-old farmhouses and quaint little villages.  Perfect for Inns and B&Bs, which we also tried for a couple of days - 200 yards over the border into New Hampshire, to be exact.

As would be expected, the food was definitely a highlight - raw cow's milk at the road side stand, fresh ice cream, fresh artisan cheeses and breads, and wonderful meals at Ye Old Tavern (serving food since 1792!) and our own Chesterfield Inn.  Other high points were peddle boating around Emerald Lake, walking the marble sidewalks of Dorset, meandering through centuries-old cemeteries (including the one where Robert Frost and many Revolutionary War soldiers are buried), crossing one-lane covered bridges,  wandering eclectic towns like Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH, visiting a working potter's mill, and just soaking in the beauty of New England.  (Oh, and getting stuck in small-town 4th of July parade traffic...and hunting down every Dunkin' Donuts in southern VT so Adam could have WiFi...and chasing raccoons from our campsite.)

So, many many thanks to Nana and Granddad, who braved raucous days and nights deprived of decent slumber while Abby and Ellie visited.  Apparently while in VA, Abby decided she's in to older boys and took particular interest in 12-yr-old Sam who came to visit.  Upon seeing him, she disappeared to put make-up on, reappeared - asking Nana to put bows in her hair, and then wrote on a paper airplane MAS lov ABBY.  Great.  Ellie asked another visitor who held her 3-month-old baby boy, "Why did you have that?"  "Why did I have a baby?  Well, because we wanted a baby boy."  "But why did you have it?" Never a dull moment - even in VA.

[A couple weeks have now passed since I started this entry.  And that's as much as needs to be said for how life's been since the girls returned.  Oh, the madness.  I'll play catch-up, once again, in the next entry... Ah, Vermont.  How I pine for thee.]


Abby stopped playing and ran to the bathroom.  She got situated and shouted, "Fire in the hole!"  

Abby woke up and asked if I'd like to learn how to make a paper airplane, per her instruction.  After attempting to fly my creation (which flopped to the ground) Abby said:  "No, Mom.  You're supposed to make a cool paper airplane."

Abby: "I'm not going to be a mommy when I grow up.  I'm going to be an animal doctor."  Me:  "You can be a mommy and an animal doctor."  A:  "No.  I'll just be an animal doctor.  I'll take care of crocodiles, pigs and chickens."

While we three girls walked the aisles of Target, a little toot eeked from Abby's bum.  Abby turned to Ellie: "Sorry boss."

Ellie was complaining that her belly hurt.  Me: "I don't think you should have chicken and noodles, then.  How about some toast?"  E:  "But my belly loves to be sick with noodles."  Abby:  "I think I'm going to vomit tomorrow."

Me: "Ellie, have you been spraying the cleaner??" Abby: "Yes!  She has.  Heavenly Father told me."

Sunday, June 27


Since sitting down to write tends to be an outlet and a time I come to soothe my weary soul, I figured changing the blog background to something more rejuvenating and serene was in order.  The green of nature always seems to do it for me and I hope you feel the summer breeze wafting across your brow as it furrows the further on you read, thinking "what is her deal?  why can't she get it together?  should I intercept and take them all to the funny farm?  where's the advil?..."  

So... Where were we?  Honestly - the more days that pass by without logging our pandemonium, the bigger the blur becomes.  But I'll try to recall some of the truly stand-out moments from the last couple of weeks.

#1 would have to be Abby's Pre-K graduation.  Oh yes.  It's official.  I now have a soon-to-be-kindergartner!  Abby and her class put on a darling production, singing songs about numbers and letters and dinosaurs.  Of course Abby got put on the far end of the 25 children seated across the 'stage', which made for ease in daydreaming and generally being 4-5 counts/words behind the rest of her class during the songs.  

You know that feeling that comes with completing a particularly challenging task - more than relief, that sense of "wow! I did it! I actually made it to the end and seeing it all behind me now feels great!"?  That's pretty much the emotion her sweet teacher Mrs. Sue communicated as I hugged and thanked her afterward for her work with Abby.  "You should be proud," she said.  "Abby's come a long way." (ie - that was one long year I spent trying to help Abby realize I am the teacher...)  She did follow that up with "This girl's gonna go places."  We just hope those places take her on a path more toward competing in the 2024 Olympics than becoming, say, a defending Women's Ultimate Fighting Champion.  We'll just have to wait and see. 

(Abby and her best friend Lisa, whose skin Abby covets since 'it has no holes where hairs come out')

Beyond that major event, we've just enjoyed the usual goings-on around here.  Abby successfully turned a long hair ribbon into hand-cuffs, rendering me bound and at her complete mercy.  It was wound and knotted so well, I had to guide her through cutting it -and not my hands - off.  Then there was the day Abby ran in, excitedly shouting "Mommy!  Come see! I made the United State of America for Family Night!" (aka my just-purchased loaf of bread broken into a thousand pieces which later morphed into "the United States of America crowned with water grenades"). Ellie, for a few nights, took to cuddling with those same water grenades (filled with air) instead of her stuffed animals.


Then there was the day I deep-cleaned the bathroom, only to find, upon finishing, that Abby and Ellie had created a new abode in their trampoline (yes, we are so classy that we keep a trampoline in our living room) complete with every clothing item brought down from their closets and drawers.  

My cheeses - crumbled goat, pecorino, shredded mozzarella - keep disappearing from the fridge.  Of course I rarely notice until I go to use the cheese for a particular recipe.  The first time, I found my precious goat cheese in a toy bin, days after we ate the salad it was to go in.  When I needed the missing pecorino, I asked Ellie (who has been known to indulge herself in hiding) if she knew of its whereabouts.  "In the toy room."  Sure enough - same toy box. 

A few days ago Abby found Uncle Michael's wallet that quite inconveniently went missing at the end of his visit, an hour before he had to get on the airplane to return home (the loss of which caused him to miss his flight, necessitate 4 runs to/from the airport and a visit from the local police, as a police report declaring the wallet stolen was the only way they would let him onto a plane).  Apparently Abby had put it inside her make-up box to give to Uncle Michael for a present to take home.  She forgot.

I, myself, had a few winner moments/days.  Like the one where the best dinner I could come up with was frozen tortellini in Campbell's tomato soup.  Abby's dramatic response left me wondering why I try any other day: "Mom, this is delicious.  It is soooo awesome.  I love it."  Then there was the night my friend Shannon asked me to make some lemon-meringue souffles baked inside of lemons for a baby shower she hosted.  Everything in the 2-hour process went fine until I filled the lemons, made the call for her to pre-heat the oven and put the pan of lemons on top of the Jeep so I could open the door (rushing, of course, since I was late).  I opened the door and DOWN they went - cascading off, spewing meringue filling across the driveway and all over the passenger seat.  The "uh, no need to preheat the oven anymore" call quickly followed.  So much for that endeavor. 

I really could go on and on.  I think, though, that I'll sum it all up by recounting an episode from our drive through Ohio Amish country yesterday (while on our way to Kirtland to meet Nana and Granddad who have so graciously offered to take the girls and give Adam and me a few days of much-needed repose).  While passing horse-drawn buggy after horse-drawn buggy, Abby asked "why do they drive those?"  I explained, while seriously considering joining the Amish community, that they want to live a simple way of life.  "What does simple mean?"  "Slow and calm..." "Why do they want to be calm?"


Me: "Girls, what would you like for breakfast?  Eggs or french toast?"  Ellie:  "French toes. Toes are fun to eat."

Adam took the girls to the park and Ellie steered the pirate ship.  Ellie:  "I'm going to my other mommy's house."  A: "Why are you going to your other mommy's house?"  E: "Because she lets me eat m&ms and the house is made of cookies and she lets us eat the house."

Abby finished her bbq chicken and gave a big swipe of her hands down the front of her dress.  Me: "Abigail, is that how we wipe our hands off?"  "Mom - this is a staining dress, remember?  It's just for staining!"

We had tuna melts for dinner, grilled on the panini press.  After finishing her first half, Ellie asked: "Mom, can I have another girl sandwich?"

I asked the girls what fun things they want to do this summer.  Abby: "I know! I know!  This is your very most favorite thing that you love.  Clean the house!"

The girls dumped out a basket full of My Little Ponies.  Ellie: "Are the sweeties okay?? Are the sweeties okay?"  Abby: "The children are fine."

Ellie sat up to the table for breakfast.  E: "So, Mom.  What do you want to do today?"  Me: "Well, would you like to go to BJ's and get some gummy vitamins?"  E:  "That's exactly what I want do !"

I took the (freshly cleaned) blender out from the cupboard.  Abby:  "You haven't washed that in months.

I told the girls we needed to go to the library.  Abby: "Oh, we don't want to go.  You can just go.  We can take care of ourselves, right Ellie?" E: "Yeah."  A: "Go ahead, Mom.  We'll stay here and clean up the house after we watch Diego."

30 minutes after the above quote, I walked back into the room where Abby and Ellie were playing.  Abby, puzzled: "I thought you went to the library."

Abby, playing: "She said I am impossible because I made the best cake ever."

Abby: "Mom! I washed off the marker on the new paint."  Me:  "Oh...yeah?  How?"  A: "I licked my hand with my germs and wiped it on the marker.  And it came off."

The girls were playing with My Little Ponies:  Abby: "I have to go to the forest."  Ellie:  "I'll come too, so you don't get lost."  A: "I won't get lost.  I have good eyesight and paddy feet."  E: "But I have to help you find the Pygmy Marmoset in the prickly farm!"

Sunday, June 20

Chocolate Kisses

I suppose I'll work backwards in my recounting of this week's main events, as our Father's Day dinner just now eaten proved to be the highlight.  I'm a grilling maniac these days, thanks to our $15, 3rd-generation grill that was, upon acquisition, a study in rust and corroded metals.  One can of black hi-heat spray paint, lighting directions re-written in silver Sharpie, and a new porcelain grate later - we can't get enough!

Steak, corn, and asparagus - all grilled - and my friend Amy's scrumptious rice salad was the fare.  Each girl had multiple servings of the rice salad, and Abby declared: "Mom!  I didn't know you could make the most delicious, coolest food in the whole world!"  Ellie took a bite of tender steak, and with pink juices streaming down her chin, exclaimed: "I like beef!"  So, when dinners lately have tended toward being left poked at and even downright refuted, the nods at my culinary prowess felt...great.

Especially given the rigamaroo that was the rest of Father's Day.  Oh, we had Ellie running relays throughout the Primary sing-to-the-dads time.  Back and forth she went - from front pew to the podium - through and in front of all of the short Sunbeams during the songs.  Abby's Primary substitute made the comment as I picked her up from class, "Abby sure is a wiggly thing, isn't she?" and explained how Abby had kept trying to hide under her chair.  While passing Ellie's nursery leader in the hall, she said (in jest): "Ellie, tell your mommy how many chocolate kisses you had today in nursery!  Or...not."  AND Adam went MIA for 40 minutes after church and I seriously considered going to see if he'd checked himself in to the psych ward at the hospital next had been one of those days leading up to and through church.  (He was 'talking shop' with a friend, turned out.)

Later, when Adam's dad asked over the phone what the girls were up to, I decided it wise to actually check on them.  This followed: Me: "Abby, why are you cutting your hair ribbon into little pieces?" A: "I just am." Me, as Ellie runs by with a shimmering object in hand: "Eleanore, give me that light bulb!" Later, I happened upon Abby cutting up our new 'United States of America' flags.
And this is just what I remember of today.  (I think I'll continue the rest of this last week's story later.)  So, one might imagine how sweet Abby's dinner prayer, "bless us to listen to our Daddy and do what he says...and even Mommy too, and follow their plan" was to my ears.  Of course, this means now I have to 'get a plan.' 


Abby insisted Adam lie down with her so she could fall asleep.  After a few minutes, I hear Abby:  "Daddy, can you please stop snoring??"

Ellie ran out of the room, shouting:  "I found it, Abby-gale Charlotte!  I found it!"

On our way home with a new 10-ft slide for a play set we're building for the girls, Abby complained about not getting a prize at the store.  Ellie:  "Abby, we have a new slide.  Just wait a second."

Me, in attempts to hurry along bathtime: "Come on Abby, it's time to wash your hair."  Abby:  "I am 5. Don't disobey me."

Abby brushed against my shins:  "Mom, feel this.  You're so spikey."

I called Adam and the girls for lunch.  Abby started walking backwards down the stairs.  Adam: "Abby - you are going to fall down the stairs."  Abby:  "No, Dad. This is the way (turning around to crawl headfirst) you fall down the stairs."  (She should know - she fell from the top twice in one day last week.)