Pay It Forward


I subscribe to the blog Gives Me Hope.

Every day I read inspiring and beautiful stories of selflessness, courage, and persistence in the face of hardship or adversity.

At first it caused me to look at myself and realize how blessed and lucky I am. I saw all the blessings I've been given and how easy and relatively untroubled my life is.

And now it's caused me to look at myself and see the ways in which I'm not giving to others. Sure, I have little money to give once my bills are paid, but I have time and smiles and little gestures that can do so much.

Several years ago when I realized that no one holds doors open for anyone anymore, I began opening doors for people. Even if I had to speed up or slow down to do so. Since then, people have begun holding doors open for me. And when they do I always try to look them in the eyes and give them a genuine smile and "Thank you!"

I also realized that I needed to open myself up more. I rarely interacted with people I didn't know or barely knew. If I saw them in the store, I walked on past. So I've tried to hand out smiles as if they are free {which, for those of you who don't realize, they are. ;) } and to say hello to people simply because they made eye-contact with me, whether I know them or not. It may not change them, it may not change their day, but over time it's changed me.

But, I need to do something more.

So I'm opening my eyes and my heart and quietly waiting for God to use me. And until I find out what it is that I'm meant to give, I'll give what it is that I have to give.
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

You said that before.


Mind if a vent a bit?

Just for a second?

Because I went home to enjoy an hour away from work and ringing phones and headaches and such and I opened a letter in the mail that just completely obliterated it all.

My Doctor's office has been graciously playing a waiting game with my medical insurance company for several months and the letter said that there's now a 15 day limit on their patience.

I don't blame them.

This claim is from July.

From Ty's well-care checkup.

Which is 100% covered according to my insurance company.

Except they filed him as a newborn and only paid 80% for some reason.

Nevermind that he's not been a newborn for four years now....but I brought it to their attention when I got my first bill in November and they realized the error, said it was fixed, would be resubmitted and taken care of in just a matter of a few weeks. So I called the Doctor's office and let them know what was going on and all was right and good in the world.

Fast forward to December 22nd when I get another bill showing it was still due. So I call to see what the hold up is. For some reason it didn't get paid in the payment cycle that I was originally told it would get paid in and would be paid in the next one. So 3 weeks and it would be paid.

Fine.

I called the doctor's office and told them and asked them to make a note of it in their computer.

I assumed all was right and good in the world once more.

I assumed that what I was told would happen would in fact happen.

Ahhhh, but that word assumed.....we all know it's real meaning.

Because I got The Letter today. And I called the doctor's office to make sure they hadn't received a check in the 7 days since the letter was dated.

Nope.

Nada.

So I call to see what's going on with the insurance side of things.

And once more I get promises. The check has been mailed, which has to be processed by another office and then that second office is going to send a check of their own to the doctor's office.

So this claim may or may not be paid within the next 15 days.

And I know it's not really as big a deal as it feels like it is in my heart, I know that the doctor's office is probably used to stuff like this and that, surely, they'll get their payment this time around.

But these bills are in my name. And I don't let bills set and I certainly don't ignore them or delay them like the insurance company has.

And then there's the fact that this is not a one time thing. Or a once-in-a-while thing. This is almost every claim. And while it's never gone quite to the point of The Letter. It goes too far, too long, too often.

And what can I do about it?

Nothing.

The good news of it is that when I'm aggravated or upset, I clean.

And ever since Mystery Man came along I've been neither aggravated or upset.

But today made up for it.

In the one hour I planned to enjoy an hour away from work and ringing phones and headaches and such I got some housework knocked out!

Bathroom? Hair and makeup stuff put away, counters cleaned, toilet cleaned, mirror cleaned.

Bedroom? Shoes put away, clothes taken to the laundry room, bed made, nightstands dusted.

Kitchen? Dishwasher emptied and reloaded. Hand-washed some dishes. Birthday rose finally thrown away. Counters wiped down. Stove cleaned off. Bills sorted and put in their stack (with The Letter). Table wiped down and then dusted.

Hall/Entry area dusted.

Living room? Entertainment center dusted. Pillows and throw straightened. Desk dusted and chair straightened.

Laundry? Dryer emptied, wet clothes moved over into it, new load started, and fresh clothes put away.

So what didn't I do?

Well, I guess all that's left to do is carry my suitcases out to my storage shed (I've been waiting for the yard to dry out so the mud doesn't suck my shoe off.....again.) and I need to sweep, mop, vacuum, and finish the clothes in the washer and dryer and put them away.

Pretty sure everything else is done until I get enough clothes in the laundry room for a full load.

Looks like I might have an easy weekend after all!
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Smitten.


My son went to Oklahoma with my parents this weekend to see my Grandma (aka "Grandma Real").

While in Oklahoma, the men were working in the attic on a heater and Ty wanted to go up and see into the attic, so Grandma Real let him go up and thus began their adventure.

They found treasures of all sorts! Including this poster....


Which is now in the trash.

Ty was a good sport when I told him that we didn't want a picture of a naked boy on his bedroom wall.

He then told me that he didn't really want it, but they (whoever 'they' is) told him he needed to bring it home. But he didn't want it because it had a naked boy on it and that's not nice.

Back to the story. While in the attic they also discovered an item that I would later become smitten with.

A box.


A Canceled Checks box that dates back to the 60's.

And I'm going to use it in a similar fashion to house check duplicates, receipts for credit and debit transactions. I might even use it to keep bank statements and bills in, too, except that I'd have to do a bit of modification to get it to hold an 8 1/2 width paper. But that'd be pretty easy.

In other news. Mystery Man and I spent the weekend together.

Our plans had to be modified a bit because of the weather, but he was a total sport and went right along with a little bit of shopping that I needed to get done!

Among the items purchased was a DSi for Ty.

I got one from Mystery Man for Christmas and love it, except that I never get to touch it because Ty loves, loves, LOVES playing Mario Kart on it.

So he now has one of his own which will come in handy in a few weeks when we go to Disney World! (Yes, I'm super-excited!!)

And since I have my Rebel back from repair, I leave you with some parting shots of my son and his new (but time-limited) past-time!!



Now I'm off to make some supper and then settle in for a little time with my new book.


I'll let you know what I think when I finish!
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Down for the count.


I have a confession to make.

I did it.

I bought a workout video.

Not Gene Simmons....or is it Gary Simmons? The short, screaming guy with the fro?

Sorry. Just Googled it. It's Richard Simmons. I should be ashamed, but I'm too tired.

Because Julianne Hough just kicked my tail.

I bought her Dance with Julianne video because:
#1--I want abs like hers
#2--It seems like a fun cardio workout
#3--I could use a little rythmn and a few dance moves wouldn't hurt.

So I got it.

And I did it for the first time tonight and learned many valuable lessons.

First and foremost to turn the ceiling fan off before you go doing any jumps or throwing your arms around.

Second, I'm just all kinds of messed up.

Apparently my body grew in such a way that I don't bend or twist in ways that these women do and my hips and chest certainly weren't made to pop or shake the way they can get theirs to.

My lack of grace astounded even me, and I've been quite familiar and forward with it for sometime now.

Even I didn't realize I could be quite so.....uncoordinated.

But I kept going.

Because through the whole workout I was seeing my goal on the screen.

I want her abs.

And her butt.

And her legs.

Heck, throw in her tan, too.

So come tomorrow night, I'll probably once again close all my curtains and blinds and risk catastrophe and injury in my pursuit.
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Thin Ice


Dear Everyplace-I've-Ever-Shopped-Before,

As you know, Christmas was two weeks ago.

As you may not know, I am a single mother on a single income. I do not get child support, I do not get food stamps, I do not get welfare assistance in any form.

Which means I'm broke.

As if one of those wasn't enough to break me, the two on conjunction certainly are.

So it's nothing short of cruel to send me all of your little emails and catalogs so many times a week and make me look at, long for, and daydream of all the things I would love to have if only I didn't have to buy things like food or necessities.

Victoria's Secret, you know I love you and you know I'm going to check out your sales when I get my tax return in, even though you don't carry nearly as many long-inseams in my price range as you used to....but sending me FOUR CATALOGS this week only isn't going to get spring or my tax return here any quicker.

Same to you Kohls, JC Penney, Old Navy, and Speigel. While I don't spam-block your emails in case you have a "can't miss" kind of sale going on, you're getting dangerously close to crossing that line into "too much, too often" and your marketing advisers should have warned you about that.

So, in the interest of the recovery of my checking account, I'm going to need you to back off a little.

Unless you want to send me a "Hey, it's your birthday!" email that entitles me to free merchandise, in that case, send/spam away!

Thanks a bunch.

Ashley
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

All about newness


Last night as I laid in bed for an hour trying to go to sleep, I kept finding my mind drifting to the topic of newness. With a new year and a still-relatively-new relationship I guess it's normal that I should think of it.

In relationships we all worry about when the new wears off.

Will he still like me?

Will he still find me interesting?

Which of my behaviors will he find annoying or irritating?

But I don't find myself worrying about those things at all. Which is probably why, six months after we got back in contact with each other, I still consider our relationship to have a strong element of 'newness'.

That and the lack of our first fight.

But that's such a nice change. I've fought enough fights to last the both of us a lifetime and I'm sooo not a fighter.

So I go from thinking about newness to thinking about our differences.

Differences that reasonably could lead to arguments, but haven't.

It's interesting how, as I've grown older, I've stopped addressing differences in a, "You must conform to what I think" kind of way and just kind of gloss over them in a, "Cool, we'll balance each other" kind of way.

Because we do balance each other. Even though we're completely alike in countless ways.

So I venture back to my thoughts of newness and the new year and all the exciting and wonderful things I hope it has in store. Though I've never been one for resolutions and such, I've considered a few for this year such as toning my waistline and padding my savings account but my main one is to just be happy and be kind and enjoy every day of this new year, new decade, and still-new relationship.
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Just One Person


I'm a sucker for a good story. Even a sad story.

Which is why last night I was sitting on my couch watching Extreme Makeover: Home The Muppet Edition.


{Photo Credit: The Muppet Newsflash}
Even though I'm not really a Muppet fan. They were alright when I was my son's age, but now I don't understand the hoopla about them.

I watched anyway.

And was so glad I did because at the end of the show they had a celebration of sorts where they commemorated the homeowner on the show and also gave back to the volunteers who gave their time.

And one of the designers sat at the piano and Kermit started singing a song that moved me more than I can explain.

If just one person believes in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you...
Hard enough, and long enough,
It stands to reason, that someone else will think
"If he can do it, I can do it."

And then another muppet stepped in and joined in singing.

Making it: two whole people, who believe in you
Deep enough, and strong enough,
Believe in you.
Hard enough and long enough
There's bound to be some other person who
Believes in making it a threesome,
Making it three.....
People you can say: believe in me.....

And if three whole people,
Why not -- four?
And if four whole people,
Why not--more, and
more, and
more....

And when all those people,
Believe in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough,
Believe in you...
Hard enough, and long enough

It stands to reason that you yourself will
Start to see what everybody sees in you...

And maybe even you,
Can believe in you... too!

The song just moved me because, as a parent especially, I think that's one of the most important things we can do for our children and each other. If we believe in them and we believe in ourselves and we believe in each other then what is there to hold us back? Who would there be to tell us we can't or we shouldn't or we never will?

It just brought to mind a thousand powerful thoughts and feelings.

Some time ago I committed myself to changing me from the inside out. The only place I could find to start was with my attitude. To turn any negativity around, to overwrite the bad with the good. And in doing such a simple thing as that, I can see how--over time--I've become someone I can love even more than before. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm not where I used to be either.

Think of the change that could be made if we all committed to do something so simple as smile a little more, give a little more, love a little more, or believe a little more.

What an amazing difference we could make!!
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.