Mason Starts Solids

We started Mason on solid food on Saturday.  He was five and a half months. I had planned to wait until closer to six months to start feeding him from a spoon, but Mason had another agenda.  With him being as big as he is (over 20lbs), exclusively breastfeeding 5-6x just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  He was sleeping 11-12 hrs straight, but then last week started to wake after about 8hrs, and then nursed like he was starving.  So, I knew it was time. Here he is, taking his first spoonfuls.

Disclosure: Please excuse my appearance. It looks as if I was having a severe anti-glamorous day. I had no idea Dan would be taping me without make-up and sloppy hair.


Now that he has started on solids, he’s back to sleeping 11-12hrs.  Wohoo!  He was just a hungry booger.  It’s been almost a week since he started, and even though he hates it in the video, he LOVES it now.  Every time the spoon gets near, he opens his mouth like a little bird. It’s so cute! We’re still just doing rice cereal and he’s taking about 2 tablespoons with breast milk, once a day.  I haven’t started with the purees yet, but I plan to make all my own baby food like I did with Parker.  It’s an exciting milestone to see what foods he’ll like!


I’m linking up with Jeannett over at Life Rearranged again and post my week in iphone pics.  I use the “camera bag” iphone app to edit my photos and make them look artistic, or as my husband would say… dirty.

My weekend got off to a wonderful start, with it being my BIRTHDAY weekend and all.  See how purty my cake was?  Don’t be jealous…

One of my favorite parts about having a birthday, is being showered with birthday card love.  Here is my mantle, where my cards go on display.

In the land of make believe, construction helmets turned backwards, are a perfectly acceptable way to stylishly eat bananas and waffles.

We have painters updating the neighborhood exteriors.  Parker, of course thought this was facinating.  He kept running up to them saying “Hi…Hi…Hi….” with a big cheesy grin, followed by a few chinese words that no one could understand if they tried.

On Monday, I had a fabulous lunch with Danielle, and a few former co-workers of mine.  Of course, I had to bring along my little plaid pant cutie patootie.

Dan and I had a date night on Monday.  Odd night for a date night, but it was wonderful because the theater was virtually empty.  The food at Studio Movie Grill is pretty sub-par, but we saw The Change Up, and even though it was one of raunchiest I’ve ever seen, a it was also HILARIOUS in some parts!

We had a fun lunch playdate with my neighbor Jules and her twins Henry and Ashley.  They were so sweet and well behaved, but for some reason, Parker was in a funk and he showed his snarky side.  Oh well, win some, lose some.

We had an activity this day where we were going over numbers from one to ten, and learning the number green.  Getting him ready for school next week!

Being giggly after filling up the bird squirrel feeder.

The only thing left in bloom in my yard

We got some chalk from the dollar store.  It was a huge hit.  Even with Parker’s bestie Campen when he came over.

Snack time: Rasins and Goldfish have never been so popular.

Look at this big guy!  He’s trying to sit up on his own, and starting to get the hang of it.  He turned five months last week!

Future musician, I swear.  This kid loves some music.  Listening to it, playing it, dancing to it.  LOVES IT!

While digging through my photos for my Three Decades (which I’m still working on, stay tuned!) posts that I’ve been doing, I found this old picture of me as a baby.  Tell me this doesn’t look EXACTLY like Mason?  Especially the header picture on the my blog.  I love it so much that I added it to my desk cork board.

Have you heard of this book?  We’ve been reading The Love Dare for our monthly dinner club.  I’ve been catching up on my reading for the past few weeks and its awesome.  There’s some great chapters about fighting fair and praying for your spouse… good stuff.  It’s a great reminder to our marriage, and something that I need to work on applying.

Mason has started to really reach out for toys, for hugs…for attention.  Lots of smiles and giggles follow. LOVE that baby!

How was your week?  Link up with your iphone pics on your blog and let me know what you’ve been up to!

life rearranged

30th Birthday Dinner

I had such a great time last night at Xian China Bistro (the BEST Chinese in Alpharetta) celebrating my 30th birthday with a few close friends and family.  I’m so thankful to have such amazing people in my life.  It was so nice to get out and have uninterrupted adult conversations that don’t come that easily when you’re a parent.  Often times, I’ll start a blurb about something random, and then I’m taking off to find my runaway toddler.  I had some yummy Salmon fried rice accompanied by a glass…okay, a few glasses of wine.  One bottle was brought back from Peru from my sweet friend Lilly…my little travel bug friend. Dan surprised me with an awesome custom made cake from The Baker’s Man.  It was absolutely amazing! Thanks to everyone for making it fun and memorable!

The Girls- Melissa, Jen, Tara, Me, and Marcie

The Guys- Dustin, Jody, Dan, and Neal

Me with Aunt Marie

Of course, my Mom came to join in celebrating!

This is the evite invitation that Dan sent out…

The evite inspired birthday cake.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Dan had special colorful candles with candle holders to use for the cake, but the restaurant owner didn’t know.  It turned out just fine though!


I think I’ll join Jeannett over at Life Rearranged again and post my weekly Insta-Therapy.

I love when I get to have lazy Saturday nights.  Dan was out of town at a hacker convention (DEFCON).  So, I turned to some cheap comfort-Blogging (Three Decades), Blue Moon, and a cheesy Lifetime-ish movie.  All the sweet comforts of home.

I can’t get over how big this kid is getting. Every day he’s starting to look more and more like a little boy!  He’s a five month old, cute, breastfed chunky baby, and I love him to pieces.  Here he is, lookin’ all fly for his cousin Anthony’s 1st birthday party.

Here’s Parker playing outside with his “RaRa!”  Man does he love that dinosaur!

Parker reading his books aloud.  SO STINKIN CUTE!

Parker has been somewhat of a picky eater the past few meals, so when I served him up some cheese filled noodles with marinara sauce, and he cleaned his plate, I was one proud Mama.  Parker thought it sure tasted yummy.  Score!

Nothing is cools the sweat of a hot August day like some pool time.

Parker gets so creative while I’m nursing Mason.  In the picture above, he went in his room and grabbed two wooden blocks and continued to bang them together while he danced in circles.

I know this is an InstaFriday post, but I just have to include the video to this too.

Parker, getting some Mama love at “Scratch”.

Enjoying some fun with digger, dump truck, and “Neee!”, which is how Parker says “Nannie”.

We went to Panera Bread for lunch on Wednesday, which was my actual 30th birthday.  Parker did great, but that little stinker can’t resist picking off Mama’s plate.

French toast anyone?

What better way to accompany some french toast, than a nice veggie/fruit smoothie?

I love my sweet family.  Overall, a nice low-key week with the boys.  How was yours?  Link up and post your InstaFriday!
life rearranged

Three Decades: From Ten to Twenty (Part 2)

If you’re new visiting my blog, I’m doing a series of posts for my upcoming thirtieth birthday.  You can catch up by reading here and here.

So, I pick back up where I left off… Living in Hampstead with my new baby brother.  He was about five months old when my step-sister Lisa, who was fifteen at the time, moved out.  She also didn’t jive too well with having to do so much around the house and help care for a baby.  It was sad to see her go, but she really wasn’t getting along very well with my Dad, and she just wanted to be happy.  So, she moved in with her Dad who lived in a suburb of Atlanta.

Once my brother Christopher became a toddler, my home life took a different turn.  I felt as if all of my evenings and weekends were filled with cleaning, babysitting, homework and a laundry list of “to-do’s”.  I didn’t have time for extra curricular activities.  I never played a sport, got involved in music (either played an instrument or otherwise), did girls scouts, or dance.  Rennie and Dad were so busy and they just simply wouldn’t have the time to pick me up from school and cart me around town to anything extra.  My Dad was back in school, perusing his master’s degree in nursing at UNC Chapel Hill.  This required him to be gone quite a bit, and Rennie was working as a nurse still doing 12hr shifts on the weekends as well as trying to pick up extra shifts during the week.

The house we lived in was a really beautiful home, but I to me, it was much more of a hassle since we had so many chores to do.  I think I would’ve been fine with something smaller, and less chores.  I was frequently exhausted after dinner and cleaning the kitchen, which was accompanied with our daily school homework.  Rennie and Dad were pretty frugal during these years.  Christopher wore cloth diapers (accompanied with makeshift wipes out of paper towels), Rennie and Dad both had older model used cars, Rennie shopped in bulk and used coupons to save money and she shopped the local sewing stores for patterns for clothes that she could make for the family.  We weren’t poor by any stretch, but maybe a little “house poor”.

Gradually, things began to change with me.  I wanted some independence.  I craved love, acceptance, and ultimately I wanted to find myself.  The relationship was pretty shaky with Dad and Rennie at this time.  I just felt like there were too many rules and that they were way too strict.  They believed that spanking and corporal punishment as a justified, biblical way to discipline us (even into our teen years).  I feel like this only put up a wall between us.  I was unable to connect to them, and I felt alone.

Right around that same time, in November of 1997, my Mom gave birth to my younger sister, Amanda.  What a sweet, happy and beautiful baby girl she was.  It was SO nice to have a little baby sister.  I just loved on her so much. I smothered her all the time with tons of love and kisses.  I had fun helping my Mom pick out outfits, playing dress-up and even rocking her and feeding her.  I loved it!  It was always nice to see my Mom during summer and winter breaks.  She always gave me love and attention.  Even to the point where I thought she was annoying!  I’m grateful for that though, it really showed she cared.

Well, my Dad eventually graduated college with his Master’s degree and began to peruse his career as a Nurse Practitioner.  I was glad to have him home more often and not having to work so hard pulling double duty at school and work.  It wasn’t too long after, that I started a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.  I felt like I needed an outlet from my home life, and I wanted to start making my own money to save for a car.  The restaurant was close enough for me to walk to, and my brother had a truck at the time, and he could also take me to work when he could.  I worked weekend nights at first, and then I started picking up a few shifts at night during the week.  The work was tough…and gross (we had to scale and de-gut fish every Tuesday…Yuck!).  But, at least I was getting paid for it.  I still felt disconnected from Rennie and Dad, so I sought out attention elsewhere.  I met my first real boyfriend at work, and we started seeing each other.

The restaurant atmosphere lend me to pick up some bad habits.  I started smoking from an early age (tried it at a church camp for the first time at 15) but then it slowly became a bad daily habit.  My boyfriend at the time was sweet, and a charmer, but he had a really dark past.  His older sister worked at the restaurant too, and she had a nice family and seemed to have her stuff together, so I tried to look beyond his past. We were inseparable.

In the meantime, things at home were challenging.  Demands for childcare and chores along with my busy school schedule, work and new boyfriend had taken its toll.  It was spring of 1999 and I had just gotten back from spring break with my Mom.  My Dad had gone through my room and found some empty cigarette boxes, lighters and THE EVER DREADED birth control pills.  Ugh.  Every part of me ached.  I felt so exposed and so ashamed that all my secrets were there…laying on the floor in my room. After a big fight with my Dad,  I called a friend of mine, and gathered a few things (I still had my packed bags from the trip to Atlanta) and just left.

Although, I did enjoy my new found freedom…I continued to work, save money and go to school.  A few of my friends would help with driving, and I would help with household chores and gas money. I continued to date my then boyfriend and we went to my junior prom together. For the first time in a while, I felt love and acceptance.  BUT… it didn’t last.  My boyfriend’s felony past caught up with him, and he was back to doing shady things, and ended up being incarcerated.

After a few months had passed of me living with friends, hopping from house to house (courtesy of Jess, Malissa, Jaymi, and Amy).  My Dad and I had contact and I agreed to come home.  We talked through some things, and agreed to make some changes on both of our parts.  My brother had already moved out at the time, so it was just my little brother Christopher and I left.  They agreed to help c0-sign a loan on my first car.  It was an ugly car, but it was MY car.  I had been saving my money from the restaurant job for a while, and I was so happy to be able to afford to put some money down on a car.

Things were going good for a little bit.  I had a little bit more freedom, but I wasn’t exactly the most responsible seventeen year old.  I ended up getting a different job at Perkins family restaurant, and that is where I met another love interest.  He paid me a lot of attention, had a sweet and likable personality (life of the party) and no criminal past, and super fun to be around.  He did, however, have a bit of a drug problem.

One night in Spring of 2000, my senior year of High School, I came home from working one night, and my Dad and I got in a big fight about prom.  I really wanted to go with my then “Perkins” boyfriend, but my Dad didn’t think I should go, and thought I was too irresponsible to be trusted (which was pretty correct at the time).  I of course thought this was extremely unjust, and decided to pack my bags, and move out for good.

I moved back in with my friend Malissa graduated highschool, and continued to work.  I didn’t really care about my future at that point, I just wanted some freedom.  My “Perkins” boyfriend was one who loved to party, and it wasn’t too long after living with Malissa in Hampstead, that I decided that I should move in with my then boyfriend.  Of course, the partying started to influence me quite a bit, and I was in such a vulnerable place in my life… looking for love and acceptance where ever I could get it, and in all of the wrong places.  I began to experiment with drugs to fill that void.

It was just one bad decision after another.  I have no one to blame but me for how my life was going.  I was stubborn, selfish, and immature.  Eventually, my bad decisions caught up with me, and I was caught at a party with misdemeanor amount of marijuana and paraphernalia.  After a citation, fleeing, an APB… I faced a judge, was placed in a “holding cell”, and did the usual mug shots and finger prints. Only by the grace of God, I got out within a few hours because someone I didn’t even know, offered to pay my court fees so I could walk.  Un…Freakin’…Real.

My “Perkins” boyfriend and I of course didn’t last and I was left holding the bag, with nowhere to go.  Fortunately, the manager of Perkins took me in, but she and her husband were pregnant expecting in only a few short months.  I was sleeping on the floor of her nursery in a blow up mattress…and time was just a tickin’.  I was broke, had expired tags, court costs from driving without insurance, the whole nine.  I was up shit’s creek without a paddle.  I had no plan, but I knew that I needed a place to live.

One day, as I was driving through downtown Wilmington, listening to Dave Matthews Band, a peaceful calm came over me among everything chaotic and worrisome. God gave me peace about leaving Wilmington and he assured me that he had something bigger and better for me.  I needed to just trust in him.  Since the holidays were near, I decided to go back to Atlanta, per usual during the holidays.  When talking to my Aunt Marie about all that was going on, she decided to take me under her wing.  She was a GOD SEND.

What a beautiful new beginning that was, coming into her home.  She and her family had all the luxuries life had to offer, and here I was with a baja hoodie and broomstick skirt, hemp necklace, looking like a hippie wreck coming into this classy sophisticated suburban mega home. Can you say “Fresh Princess of Bel-Air” Hippie Edition?  That took quite an adjustment!  I was used to having NO money and not knowing how I was going to eat unless I worked a double restaurant shift.  I got a job as a waitress at a local restaurant, and staked out a little home for myself downstairs in her basement.

However, it wasn’t long before I found myself making some of the same bad decisions I did in Wilmington.  I got back into drugs and partying again.  I met a few people at the restaurant I was working at, and started dating the lead singer of a local band.  I was really intrigued to be apart of this group of people. I began to experiment with other harsher drugs.  In the quest to find myself…I lost myself.


I think I’ll join Jeannett over at Life Rearranged (awesome blog!) and post an InstaFriday.  This may just become my insta-therapy of sorts.

Well, HELLO big brown eyes, and beautiful smile.  You make my heart sing!  I see those two little pearly whites shining in on the bottom!

Lazy Saturday.  Oh, how I love those.  Parker likes to jump into bed with Daddy when he’s half asleep and demand him to read his Dinosaur books.

Dan’s Mom came in town last weekend and brought me this beautiful bouquet of flowers.  See, not all MIL’s are bad.  This one is sweet and thoughtful!

Mason has outgrown his carseat carrier.  So, now when we’re in restaurants, we use the bumbo on the table.  We get some funny looks, but let’s be serious… who could resist looking at this cute hunk of sweetness?

This has to be one of Parker’s favorite places in the world.  Curled up on Mommy and Daddy’s bed, with a basket full of books, while Mama folds the laundry.

This little stinker thought it would be cute when he finished his meal, to just kick his feet up onto our glass dining room table. Hmm…I think not.

“Wow, what is he doing to my ball?  He’s got some chompers!”

Happy Mason…in mid-tickle during a tickle/picture session on Mama’s bed.

Share your phone photos from your week too!
life rearranged

Three Decades: From Ten to Twenty (Part 1)

From ten to twenty seems like such a long stretch of years.  Of course there’s no way to entirely capture these ten years in just one blog post, just like there isn’t a way to capture my entire life in a few posts.   This will however, give you a glimpse of what it was like being me at this age. I’ve already realized how much I missed with my first post. Like, how much my Aunt Marie (my Dad’s sister) was such an influential part of my life my first ten years.  Hopefully, I can make up for it by splitting this post into two parts.

Back to Wilmington, where we were then renting an average two story home near Masonboro Sound.  It had been about a year since my grandmother passed when my Dad and step-mom Rennie started looking at building a custom built home in Hampstead, about 30mins north of our current home in Wilmington.  Hampstead was a small beachy town known for their seafood in the middle of God’s country.  Ironically, when my Nannie came up to see us in NC before her passing, we stopped in Hampstead at a local restaurant on the way to Jacksonville, and that was the first time I had been to that small town.  Little did I know that we would be moving there a year later.

They found a plot of land around two acres, and they started the clearing process.  Every Thursday night we’d go up to the piece of land, do some clearing and then put together a large bonfire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Eventually, the home was complete.  It was a beautiful white two story double balcony Charleston-style John Wieland inspired home.

During the summertime, we enjoyed spending time with my Mom.  She and my step-dad Mark would drive up to NC to come pick us up, and bring us back to Atlanta in the same day.  While in Atlanta, we’d accompany my Mom in the nursing home where she lived and was a caretaker for the elderly. On her off days, we’d love to go roller skating.  It was our absolute favorite thing EVER!  My brother and I ruled the roller rink at “Skate Along USA” off Beaver Ruin Rd in Lilburn.  Those were the days.  Absolutely no worries or responsibilities.  Where my biggest concern was whether or not I would win the “free coke” token during the skating race for my age group.  AND as corny as it sounds, I had this shirt that I wore every time we went skating.  It was my absolute favorite shirt.  It was tie-dyed with three little hearts on it.  Here I am with my Mom and that shirt.  Ah… the memories!

We also visited over the holidays, and in addition to visiting my Mom, we would also visit my Dad’s side of the family.  It was always nice catching up with the Ashby’s and seeing the family who made me feel at home.  Christmas was such a special time with them.  My Dad is one of seven kids, and apart of a big Catholic family. My aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents made for some fun and interesting holidays for sure.  They were very strong in their faith, and every Christmas they would read the story of Jesus and on Thanksgiving, we would give thanks with prayer for all that we were thankful for.   I felt like the family as a whole was such a positive influence on me because it seemed like everyone was happy and successful…they had their ducks in a row so to speak.   It often left me with the feeling that I needed to live up to the Ashby name and do something awesome with my life.  Particularly after talking to my grandfather Ashby.  He was always one to speak words of wisdom into my heart.  Since I admired him and my grandmother so much, I really wanted to take and hold on to all of their encouraging words through the years.

Somehow though, it was lost along the way.  My home life as an pre-teen was less than encouraging.  We ended up moving to Hampstead.  This time it was more difficult to meet people and make friends.  I was eleven when I started fifth grade at Topsail.  I really didn’t meet anyone who I really meshed with.  Since the school was so small, and there was only about four or five girls in my class.  So, that didn’t help matters much.  I was in a bit of an awkward stage and had put on some weight.  This along with the fact that I was tall and bigger than most of the kids in my class didn’t do much for my self esteem. Finally, things started to get better school when I met Jessy in sixth grade.  It wasn’t until I met her that I had found someone as awkward and different as I was.  She was my pal.  My soon to be bestie.

Rennie and Dad found a church in Wilmington that they really liked, and we started attending a “spirit filled” charismatic -style non-denominational church called The Rock.  I made a few friends there, and I enjoyed the outlet socially.  It also helped me further my relationship with God.

At this point, we had started to become accustomed to our new family of five, with my Dad, step-mom Rennie, brother Spence, step-sister Lisa and also our snow shoe Siamese cat Sable (she was the sweetest of cats).  I think the move to Hampstead was quite a change for everyone.  The home was so much bigger than what we were used to in Wilmington.  All of us kids had chores every weekend, and we had to do either dishes or help cook every night.  We weren’t a family that ate out in restaurants at all.  Once in a blue moon we would on the weekends, but mostly it was home cooked meals around the family dinner table.  My Dad worked as a nurse in hospice doing home health care, and Rennie was working 12hr shifts on the weekends.

In the summer of 1993, we found out that my step-mom Rennie was pregnant.  With me being the youngest, I was looking forward to having someone younger around.  On February 6th, 1994 Christopher  Michael Ashby was born.  My little brother.  He was such a cute baby. Even now with my boys, I still remember so much of what went on when my brother was born.  I remember how much he loved Barny.  How he wore cloth diapers, and how we loved to sing to him during road trips.  He was a fun little guy.  He was also really smart.  I remember him knowing the ABC song in its entirety before age two.  He became quite the smarty pants.

We loved Christopher a lot, but being a pre-teen, and having to babysit every other weekend and having to get him ready for church, bathe him, change diapers, wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.  I just wanted to be able to hang out with my friends and be a kid.  I didn’t want to be responsible for one.  I think it was with this realization, that I started to rebel.