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Cupcakes n Crunches

Georgia on My Mind

Posted by on Mar 9, 2016 in Serious Stuff | 3 comments

The last few days have been consumed with trying to sort out the logistics of our move to Georgia. We are now in the process of working out all the little details of our move and I’m hanging on to my sanity by a very thin thread. We are heading out of town tomorrow for a quick trip (because that’s what smart people do 12 days before they move) so between trying to pack for that trip, scheduling moving companies to come give us a moving quote and orchestrating flights down south things have been ba-nan-as. Things like blogging, exercising, cleaning and healthy eating are currently falling by the wayside…and probably will continue to be touch-and-go until we move and get settled.

On Monday, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed by all the decisions that have to be made and all the schedules that have to align in order for this move to be a success. And it wasn’t just the decisions that have to be made, but more that they all have to be made in just a few short days. And as I was trying to make all the decisions, Andi was crying every time I put her down and Atlas was crying because I couldn’t pick him up. Top that with my husband e-mailing me to ask if I could just commit to a specific shade of leather for a new couch and I was about ready to go stand on a NYC street corner with a sign that said, “Will work for a xanax.”

I put the kids down for their nap and contemplated sitting down with a brown paper bag to do some breathing exercises, but instead grabbed my Bible and prayer journal out of habit. I opened my prayer journal and realized I was on the very last blank page.

I started keeping that prayer journal in 2014. So much life has happened since 2014. So many prayers journaled. So many prayers answered.

Prayer Journal

Before I began crying out to God to drop xanax from Heaven like manna, I flipped through the pages I’ve poured my heart and soul onto over the last 2 years.

With each old prayer I read, I recalled how God has been so incredibly faithful to me and my stress began to melt away.

On the 3rd page of that journal, I wrote, “God, you know where I would love to live? Atlanta. Or at least somewhere close. I know that isn’t realistic, but that’s where I would love to be. Please change my heart to enjoy where I’m at now though.” I actually forgot about that very specific prayer, but God clearly didn’t. Isn’t it so nice to know that our prayers don’t have expiration dates?

Prayer Journal

There were prayers in there that God answered, but with a ‘no.’ And ‘no’ is still an answer. Opportunities that didn’t work out, but looking back I’m so thankful for those closed doors (as painful as some of them were). What seemed like rejections at one time, ultimately redirected our family to where we are now.

As I walked down memory lane through the pages of my prayer journal, I was reminded that so many of the things that were causing me stress were things I prayed fervently for. I prayed for Andi Rose. I prayed that God would give me a baby girl. Yes – that baby that has been interrupting my sleep and clinging to my hip, preventing me from doing anything with 2 hands, is a gift I prayed for.

Answered Prayer

She’s certainly feels like a gift when she’s happy and smiling and lighting up our home with her giggles…but at 5am when she’s screaming, it is a little harder to remember that she is, in fact, still a gift from the Lord. Isn’t it funny how sometimes the very blessings we ask God for can become the very things we complain about? I was deeply convicted by that.

Obviously, this move is still stressful, as all moves are. There is still so much to be done. I’m not writing this from a holy pedestal where I feel no anxiety (←Dave will be quick to vouch for me on that one). But this is all part of what I’ve been praying for and I’ll gladly take the burden of moving that comes with the blessing of a new place to call home. And God has been so faithful with the big things – providing the job for Dave and a home for us – it would be silly for me to stop trusting him with the tiny things like the moving truck.

At this point, I’m just so incredibly excited to get down south. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be ‘done’ with NYC. There will always be something left to do here, so I certainly can’t say, “I’m over it” but mentally I’m officially checked out of the Big Apple. Georgia is on my mind! :)

Oh, and if you’re wondering what I wrote on the very last page of my prayer journal that day, it was quite simple.

“Thank you.”

Sometimes all we need is a little gratitude to shift our perspective.

 

Friday Favorites

Posted by on Mar 4, 2016 in Baby Andi, Motherhood | 1 comment

Hola! This week was a roller coaster in our house filled with some hard curveballs. I’m glad the weekend is here. I’m hoping it is filled with some play time in Central Park (we only have 3 weeks left to enjoy it), a solid run and some fantastic sleep. Clearly, I’m a party animal on the weekends.

Before I dive into weekend bliss though, I wanted to share my Friday Favorites!

Pink Hunter Rain Boots

NYC Playgrounds

Dave got me these pink rain boots for Valentines Day and I’m wearing the heck out of them. They are easy to throw on (sometimes boots that zip are just too much work for this mama), they keep my feet warm (unless it is really cold) and they are comfortable. And they are PINK. All around win.

Scripture Lullabies

Scripture Lullaby

A few months ago I purchased a cd on iTunes called scripture lullabies and I play it while I rock Andi to sleep. I’ve been making a conscious effort to not use my phone to check e-mails or scroll through social media while rocking her at night. Instead, I try to use that time to just sit, be still and rest or pray. I love having this music on while I sit with her. It seems to really soothe Andi Rose and it encourages my heart as I sit with her and meditate on the words of the scriptures.

Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer

The Best Coffee Creamer

This International Delight Sweet Cream coffee creamer is the jam. I like my coffee sweet. Actually, I like creamer with just a hint of coffee flavor. It is really sweet, so a little goes a long way. I don’t drink coffee everyday, but on the days I do I pour this in and it warms my soul.

The Wonder Weeks App

Wonder Weeks

I drink coffee because I don’t sleep at night. I don’t sleep at night because Andi will sometimes wake up and cry for 5 minutes and then go back to sleep while I lay in bed awake for 2 more hours wondering what the heck woke her up. It’s a problem. Lately, Andi Rose has been getting harder to handle and I’ve been feeling really drained because it is like she has these crazy mood swings and I can’t decide if she’s sick, teething or bi-polar. I randomly pulled up the Wonder Weeks app on my phone last night to see if she was going through a leap and sure enough! It told me that during this phase, Andi should be acting jealous (she freaks when I hold Atlas), waking up randomly and being extra clingy. I wanted to cry when I read it because I was thinking, “Oh my gosh! She’s normal! This is just a phase!” I’m hoping she is back to her happy self soon, but in the meantime at least the Wonder Weeks app makes me feel like her mood swings are perfectly acceptable.

Jo Malone Perfume

Jo Malone Perfume

I got this perfume a few months ago and it has quickly become my favorite scent. It smells clean & ‘springy’ (because ‘springy’ is totally a scent) and I can’t stop wearing it. I like it so much I want to spray it on before bed at night, but that seems wasteful?

My Sister’s Blog

My sister recently started a blog and every single one of her posts have been so so good. They are such encouraging reads and I love seeing them pop up in my inbox when she publishes them! If you want to be uplifted, definitely check it out!

That rounds out my favorites for this week. What are you loving lately?

 

The Workout Rut

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016 in Running | 4 comments

Hi! I loved reading all your sweet comments about our move! Thank you so much for sharing in our joy. It really means so much to me and I’m excited to share more of our journey here on the blog.

Things have been a little crazy the last 3 days, but we found a house in Georgia! Actually, we didn’t find the house. God pretty much dropped the house into our laps. Not even joking when I say, ‘the house came to us.’ I can’t wait to share more about it later!

But, in honor of workout Wednesday (I told you I was making that a thing), I wanted to chat about fitness tonight.

I’m in a bit of a workout rut. I’m still working out, just not as often and not quite as intense as usual. Rather than shooting for 5-6 workouts a week, I’m aiming for 3-4 sweat sessions. And I have no set plan each day. I just wing it and do whatever form of exercise calls to me.

After I had Atlas, I went all in with improving my running. I worked with a running coach and developed a detailed program to push myself hard to see some improvements in my splits and it was terrific! After I had Andi Rose, I committed to the 21 Day Fix and focused on toning up and that was amazing!

But lately, I’ve just been feeling kind of ‘blah’ about working out. I started doing the 21 Day Fix Extreme and I just didn’t love it, ya’ll. To be honest, I found many of the workouts too difficult (although, there are some that I really do love – I love the Dirty 30 Extreme). Mentally, I just wasn’t feeling the workout program. I didn’t want to push myself that hard, which is not the norm for me since typically I’m all about high intensity workouts. Autumn Calabrese is trying to get me to do weighted jump squats and I’m all, “Why the heck would I need to add weights to a jump squat? Jump squats are hard enough with just my body weight. Can the 3 pounds of cookie dough I ate last night serve as a replacement for the handheld weights you are asking me to use?”

Dave is training for a half marathon right now and part of me has an itch to start training for some longer races again. I will randomly go out and run 5 or 6 miles 2 or 3 days a week, but I don’t set out to run a certain pace…I just lace up my shoes and go. And sometimes I get 3 miles into the run and decide that’s all I’ve got in me. Not even physically – just mentally. Does that make any sense?

I credit my workout rut to the fact that we are moving in 3 weeks and I’m feeling a bit scattered/stressed as a result. Instead of working out, I would rather make a list of things that we must get done this month. Also, Andi’s sleep has not been good. She will sleep through the night for a couple nights in a row and then BAM! She will randomly wake up and cry for 2 hours in the night. Or BAM! She will wake up at 5:30am. And just like *that* I’m all thrown off because my sleep got hijacked. And then when she does sleep the following night just fine, I still lay in bed awake wondering if she will wake up, why she’s waking up and what I’m doing wrong with her sleep training. And then I google things like “signs of an ear infection in a baby”at 2am and I lay in bed convinced she’s going to go deaf if I don’t get her to the doctor asap to get her ears checked. And then I turn my alarm off and decide instead of working out, I’ll take a rest day…for the 3rd day in a row.

But you know what? I think that’s okay. Sometimes we just have to roll with what life throws at us and be okay with dropping the ball on certain things. I think the down time right now is good because it is fueling me mentally and physically for the fitness goals I decide to tackle next. I’m staying in a general routine out of pure habit, but I’m just giving myself some grace on the days I decide to opt out of a workout.

Our new neighborhood is filled with serious hills, so I’m a little too excited to start running some hill repeats once we get moved and settled. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this workout rut I’m in. I’ll run when I get the urge and do some crunches when I eat 1 too many cupcakes, but I’ll also enjoy saying ‘no’ to some exercises and just letting my body (& mind) chill for a bit.

What about you? Ever been in a workout rut? Ever done a weighted jump squat?

Hotlanta, Here We Come!

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Serious Stuff | 11 comments

Thank you all so much for your sweet comments, texts and e-mails regarding our big move!

I’m over-the-moon excited to officially announce that we are moving to Atlanta, Georgia! God is bringing us back south, ya’ll! Back to the land where streams of sweet tea flow, Chick-fil-a is off every exit and where grocery shopping is a pleasure (Oh, Publix how I’ve missed you!).

We are actually moving to a little town north of Atlanta called Canton, which is even better in our book. We didn’t want to leave NYC for another ‘city life’ because to be honest, we don’t feel like any other major city could even come close to living up to our expectations after Manhattan. We knew when we left NYC it would be when we had our fill of the city life. We are ready for something completely different. We always hoped we would settle down in a smaller town, close to the mountains where our kids could experience growing up in a tight-knit community and we think Canton fits that bill perfectly!

That’s the short story. Now, if you want the longer version, keep reading because I just have to testify for a minute about how all this came to be.

We loved living in New York, for so many reasons, but we also really struggled with certain aspects of life up here too. Well, I struggled. Dave quickly fell into a groove with his job and like a true New Yorker, he hit the ground running. He fit right in, built a team he was (and is) so proud of and he loved working for one of the biggest and best organizations in the world. I longed to be closer to my family though. I so desperately wanted help with the kids and a yard for our dogs. For all the amazing and surreal days we had in New York, we also had days where I struggled getting our stroller up and down the flights of subway stairs. Then there were those days I got stuck in traffic and waited 2 hours to go 4 miles with 2 screaming kids in the car. I’ll never forget the time Ob got so cold on one of our walks I literally carried her home from the park because her paws were freezing to the ground. There were many nights when Dave came home to find me a puddle of tears because life was just hard and there was nobody I could call to help.

After surviving my first NYC winter with a colicky baby I began praying for God to move us. I had no idea where I wanted to go or how it would all work out because Dave loved his job, but I kept praying for God to work a miracle on my behalf.

Several months ago, I left the issue at God’s feet though and I stopped praying for God to move us. I knew God knew I wanted out of the city, but I felt like I was being called to simply be content and wait on God’s plan to unfold. My prayers began to morph into, “Show me what you want me to learn from this experience and please don’t let me miss the opportunities I have been gifted during this season” rather than, “PLEASE get me out of here!”

Last November, after I put the kids to bed one night, I walked into our kitchen and as I stood over the sink eating spoonfuls of peanut butter (its part of my nightly ritual), Dave looked up from his laptop and asked, “Hey, have you ever heard of Canton?” With a mouth full of peanut butter, I said, “Canton, Georgia? Yeah! That’s where my sister lives. Why?”

“Oh, I thought she was in Atlanta?” Dave responded.

“No, she’s in Canton. Why do you ask?”

“There’s a job that just opened up there and it looks interesting.” 

In that moment, I stood totally stunned and completely speechless.

In all my months of praying, I had never once prayed to move to Canton because I never dreamed that could be a possibility. My prayers had not been too big – they had been too small. We wouldn’t just be close to family – we would be in the same city as family…and not just any family, but my sister – the one we call ‘the baby whisperer’ (you can read about my sister & her family in this post). We would be a 2.5 hour drive from our favorite vacation spot (Highlands, NC). We would be a 6 hour drive from my mom, dad and other sister, as well as some of our very favorite friends.

That night standing in my kitchen with a mouth full of peanut butter, I felt the Lord whisper in my spirit, “Just watch me work.” I know that probably sounds crazy to so many of you, but I felt like His message to me was so clear.

I proceeded to ask Dave if he was interested in the job since I didn’t even know he was looking to leave New York and he said, “eh, maybe. I might look into it.”

Naturally, I wanted to be all, “UM, by ‘look into it’ do you mean you’ll submit your resume tonight?”

But again, I felt the Lord whisper in my spirit to just watch Him work. So instead, I said, “Cool. Keep me posted on what you decide.”

And for the next 3 months, I waited and prayed and tried my hardest to support Dave as he contemplated starting a new career.

I honestly didn’t think Dave would ever want to leave NYC and I never wanted to drive him out of his career because I couldn’t handle life in the city. One specific thing I prayed for through this situation was that Dave would be genuinely excited about this new opportunity, if it was where God was leading us. As Dave got further and further into the interview process in Atlanta, I watched his excitement grow. When Dave finished his final interview, he called me from Atlanta and said, “Ashley – I just feel at home here. The people are so wonderful – seriously, the nicest I’ve ever met – and this is the kind of organization I see growing in. I just felt so connected to everyone.”

And that’s when all the happy tears started flowing.

Several months ago, the leader of my Bible study group gave me this verse…

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8

I truly believe God went before us during this transition, which makes me all the more excited to get to Canton. I believe He is preparing a place for our family there and He has great things in store, both professionally and personally. God was so good to bring us to New York 3 years ago and He continues to be so gracious and faithful as He leads us down to Georgia.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21

So that’s the long of the long, friends! We are now on the hunt to find us a house in Georgia! To God be the glory! :)

New York City – A Dream Come True

Posted by on Feb 26, 2016 in Serious Stuff | 9 comments

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to live in New York City one day. From the very first time I visited, I fell madly and inexplicably in love with the city lights and fast paced life.

Tribute to NYC

When Dave got an opportunity to work in NYC, just a little over 3 years ago, we jumped at it. I remember the moment we found out we are actually going to be moving – I just couldn’t believe my dream of living in the Big Apple was actually going to come true. Cue all the goosebumps.

Tribute to NYC

For as much as I imagined what living in New York would be like, I never could have imagined just how much the city would change me.

I remember sitting in our apartment on the corner of West 72nd & Broadway with Ob & Marley while Dave returned the moving truck 3 years ago and crying because I was so scared. I was pregnant and living in this city that I had visited countless times, but it all of a sudden felt so incredibly foreign.

Tribute to NYC

I had to figure out public transportation, which made my dream-come-true feel like a bit of a nightmare. The first time I rode the train by myself I memorized all the subway stops from our apartment to downtown, just in case something happened to my phone, I would know what stop was next. I seriously sat on the couch that morning repeating all the stops out loud over and over again. I got off the train that day soaked with sweat. Partly because I was pregnant. Mostly because I was terrified. I got lost on the subway once with Atlas when he was an infant. I took the wrong train and ended up in Harlem. I cried. But I also figured out how to get back home. And with each train ride and mishap, my confidence grew. Now, I jet all over the city with relative ease (with 2 kids in tow, I might add), often giving directions to the poor lost tourist I see underground.

Tribute to NYC

I learned that things like washing machines, dishwashers and ‘spare bedrooms’ are luxuries reserved for only the fanciest of New Yorkers. Dining rooms converted to 2nd bedrooms are the norm. I developed the skill of successfully carrying a laundry basket, Tide & a baby up and down 14 flights of stairs just to get to our building’s laundry room. And I was lucky because our building actually had a laundry room.

I learned what ‘winter’ is in NYC. I’ll never forget walking the dogs through Central Park with Atlas in the Baby Bjorn one morning and thinking that my face hurt because it was so cold. My face had never hurt from cold air before.

In the last 3 years, I’ve had some of the happiest and most surreal moments of my life in NYC. Memories I’ll cherish forever. I’ve watched the Macy’s Day Parade. Pranced around 5th Ave on the regular like I owned the place (even though I can’t even afford socks from Bergdorfs). We had so many great play-dates at FAO Schwarz. We ate at some of the best restaurants and lounged at some of the coolest rooftop bars (those rooftop moments were rare, but they did happen). I know Central Park like the back of my hand. I’ve talked with celebrities on street corners and in sandboxes.

Tribute to NYC

Tribute to NYC

Tribute to NYC

But more than all that, I learned what I was made of in NYC. I learned how weak I was and conversely, I learned how strong I can be. I became courageous here. I’m bolder now. Some of that may just be motherhood and age, but I like to think a good bit of it is some New Yorker in me. My marriage was strengthened because of NYC. Dave & I became a solid team real fast when we had to do life together in the Concrete Jungle. We needed each other to survive and we have such a unique bond now because of all the experiences shared in this crazy city.

I birthed my babies here – we actually caught a taxi to the hospital when I went into labor with Atlas. My kids’ birth certificates say ‘Manhattan.’ I’m not too cool to totally geek out over that. That’s awesome!

I survived blizzards here.

I met some of the most interesting and amazing people here. We’ve made friends that I know we will keep in touch with forever.

I found out what I was made of here. I found out how much I needed Jesus here.

New York will always have a special place in my heart. Not like it did years ago, when I was just a tourist who dreamed of life in the city, but now as someone who calls this place ‘home.’

Central PArk

So, it is incredibly bittersweet for me to write that our journey in NYC is coming to an end. I’ve got a beautiful mixture of happy and sad tears streaming down my face as I write this post.

Dave has been blessed with a wonderful new job – a true answer to prayer – and now our family is on to the next stop in our journey. We are so excited and grateful for all God is doing and how He is leading our family into this next chapter of our lives. He has proved so faithful in this huge transition and while we are sad to leave the life we’ve built here, we have such high hopes for where we are going next and the roots we plan to put down for Atlas & Andi.

But before I disclose where we are off to next, I just have to say…

New York – you were everything I dreamed of and so much more.  I sure hope we meet again.

*Tune in next week to find out where we are moving! :)

Playground Hoppin’ in TriBeCa

Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Family Fun | 1 comment

Every time my friends visit NYC they always reach out and ask me what to do in the city & I always joke with Dave that I’m going to send them a list of the best playgrounds because if we’re being honest, that’s where most of our days are spent. We definitely visit some cool spots in NYC, but I swear some of our best days with the kids are when we just go from playground to playground. We call it playground hoppin’ – it’s what the cool New Yorkers do. Or maybe it is just what the poor New Yorkers with 2 kids in diapers do?

Playground Hoppin

Central Park & Riverside Park will always have my heart, but we’ve recently been spending more and more time in TriBeCa. It is so kid friendly. There are playgrounds everywhere and the waterfront views can’t be beat.

NYC Playgrounds

Swinging Monkey

DSC_5339Can I brag on my little buddy before I sign off? (I’m keeping this post short because we are all still recovering from the stomach bug and it appears as though Atlas has relapsed and we may be cycling through this horrific virus again.)

Last weekend, there was this swinging bridge on one of the jungle gyms and for some reason, Atlas was terrified of it. He would not go across it and he started to get all teary eyed. Dave gave him a pep talk and a big hug and he eventually made his way over the bridge all by himself. Then he was so proud of himself he just kept running back and forth on it. I love watching him conquer his fears. He is the coolest little human I know. He makes me so proud. This toddler stage with him is really becoming so much fun.

Tribeca Playground

Tribeca Playground

Anyways, if you ever find yourself in NYC with small kids, definitely check out some of the playgrounds. I think they are super fun and it is also where we seem to see the most famous people. So, there’s that.

Tribeca Playground

Fingers crossed for us that we are all stomach bug free SOON!