Tuesday, July 21, 2015


The boys are trying to win a commercial grade soft serve ice cream machine from Jason's Deli.

When I pointed out that we literally don't have the space for such a thing, they presented their plan of getting rid of Big Kid's desk to make room. He will balance his books on top of the ice cream machine to study. They have this all planned out.

If you want to help them realize their dream of unlimited ice cream instead of homework, please click this link and hit vote.

Apples of my Eye

The boys are doing Apple camp this week.

It sounded like fun and it was free, but I was mostly excited about 1.5 hours of alone time for 3 days this week. I was a little disappointed when I got the confirmation letter that stated parents have to remain in the store with their kids -- our store is popular and loud and there's nowhere to sit. So when the counselor said I could go grab a coffee, I did. And shopped.

It worked out.

When I returned, the counselor was telling me how funny and creative the boys are and how much she enjoyed working with them. She told me about another camp that was coming up and I explained that the online system had made me choose one or the other. She looked disappointed and asked if I would bring the boys if she could get them signed up. I chose some dates from the list she handed me.

"I was hoping you wouldn't pick that one."

"Oh, did I pick one that was full?" I asked.

"No. I'm taking my daughter to college that week, so I won't be here."

"Oh. Huh. Well, we will just be returning from vacation the day before the other one opens so..."

"But you'll be back by then? It's just that I was really hoping to see what they would make. I've had so much fun working with them." She looked sheepish and hopeful.

It's a little odd and not as convenient, but it's also so nice that I went ahead and chose those dates. Everyone needs more admirers and creativity encouragers in life.

"Camp is awesome," I told them as we were leaving.

"Our counselor is awesome," little kid answered.

They also got free t-shirts, earbuds, and a rousing round of applause from the entire store as the campers entered this morning. It made me a little misty-eyed, and not just because I knew I was about to have uninterrupted coffee.

Monday, July 20, 2015


"What are you doing? Quit that." Big Kid said, as I gathered the top half of his hair in my hands.

"Your hair is long enough that you could rock a man bun. Look."

"Ugh. No. Stop that."

"Man buns are all the rage right now," I joked.

"For hobos, circus clowns, and the Jackson Five."

Mr. Ashley and I laughed. "...Do you even know what the Jackson Five is?"


"It's an old time boy band with Michael Jackson and his brothers when they were little kids."

"So I was right. Dysfunctional."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Goal Setting

I'm going to a goal setting workshop tonight, mostly because it's a great excuse to buy two new notebooks and a nice pen. I don't really need two, but I saw two that I liked, and you can never have too many goals, right?

Here's my goal list so far:

1. Buy label maker. Mine broke and I'm certain there has been a sharp decline in productivity since that time. Or at least a sharp decline in neatly labeled items.

2. Buy 2 journals. Accomplishing that this afternoon, booyah!

3. Find out if people still say booyah.

4. Dedicate an entire paycheck to having ALL laundry sent to the Drop n' Fold and having housekeepers come and clean my house just one time.

I've been giving a lot of thought to #4 and I'm pretty sure it would solve 98% of my problems in life. I'm capable of maintaining a clean house, just not the actual cleaning, right? Right. Pretty sure. Assuming one of the housekeepers would put the laundry away because I hate that part.

The thought started off as a joke but is slowly evolving into a real possibility. No one thinks it's a waste of money to pay landscapers to cut our grass (no one in this household, anyway), how is house cleaning any different? It would bring me far more joy than a vacation, more clothes to wash, or a spa treatment.

I had earmarked that money to take the kids to a waterpark at some point this summer, but today I'm going to wrestle some of the laundry onto the scale and estimate how much financial damage this goal would do. I'm pretty sure we can all agree that a sparkling clean house (and an accomplished goal) is more fun than waterslides.

This kids can use the Slip n' Slide while I make labels for my new journals and the housekeepers help me achieve my goals.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Netflix: A Love Story

I've been doing a ton of yoga and house cleaning lately, and by yoga and house cleaning, I mean Netflix.

The other day I was going to go to power yoga (I swear. Really. I seriously thought about it so hard.) and I went to the mailbox first and found this: 

I mean, really? It's as if Netflix personally laid out my pajamas, turned down my sheets, and made a little snuggle nest out of my pillows while handing me the remote. Like they were stroking my hair and saying, "Shhh, Ashley, you don't need to work on your inner, outer, or house self tonight. You need to relax. Of course you don't need to fold the laundry while we watch this, my pretty, pretty princess who is also so fun and funny." 

I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious between us. 

I've been watching a lot of Hotel Impossible, and consider myself a professional in resort management now. My husband and I extensively critique every hotel we visit and discuss what changes Anthony and Blanche might make. We also get super pissy if any decorator other than Blanche is featured on the show. I have no idea why this show appeals to me so much but I've watched 26 episodes. I am not necessarily proud of that.

We also got super sucked into Bloodline. It was slightly cheesy at times but the storyline and execution were compelling and kept us hooked until the end. I love the original programming by Netflix, and I'm not just saying that because we're best friends. 

As part of my ongoing commitment to discover things once everyone else is already over it, I also started watching Portlandia. I was amused and confused. The first time I watched, I thought I might have had more to drink that night than I originally thought. The second time I watched, I realized it's just like that. It's completely absurd and I love that about it.

Oh, and I almost forgot but one day I was sick and watched the entire World Without End miniseries at once! It was a glorious day. This was one of the few times in the history of the universe that I thought the screen adaptation was as enjoyable as the book. I moved on to The Borgias and was into that until Orange is the New Black returned. 

I also have plans to start watching Grace and Frankie. It's one of the most pressing goals I have set for myself; as you can see, I've been very busy and just haven't gotten around to it yet. 

I am retiring to Belize some day with Netflix and a house full of cats. I am also a member of the Netflix Stream Team. But I really did watch that much television since the last Netflix-related post, and all opinions above are my own. If you don't find Portlandia confusing or you like hotel decorators who aren't Blanche, you are totally 100% wrong but that's me saying so and not Netflix. (But I'm sure they'd secretly agree with me due to our special connection.) 

Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to my queue and be sure to watch OITNB so we can discuss! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lessons from Max

Max has lived with us for one year now. 

I am not really a dog person. I don't like dog smell, I don't like dog hair, I don't like dog slobber, I don't like dog noises. 

Like babies, in a general sense I think they are awesome, and I probably think yours is cute, but I don't want more of my own and spend a lot of time wishing people wouldn't bring them to grocery stores.

I am, however, a Max person. I loved that face the moment I saw it and he loves me with a level of devotion that is both enlightening and exasperating. 

He started school two weeks ago because he barks menacingly at children, visitors, waitresses, people in my space, bigger dogs at the dog park, and generally doesn't listen when it doesn't suit him. Now that he knows there is no chance of becoming a street dog again, he feels comfortable enough to act like a jerk. 

That face though!

The first week went...okay. He couldn't move past the thought that a gathering of dogs should have been a puppy playdate and he was unmotivated by treats. He was mildly obsessed with a Labradoodle and would alternate between trying to play and barking aggressively about not playing. He had to be separated from the group a few times. The trainer had a little girl try to feed him a piece of bacon and he was not having it, not even for bacon. 

I was pretty impressed at the few things he did manage, though, and felt like the first week is rarely better than okay. We left hopeful.

The second week went...less okay. He pooped on a sidewalk. He decided he didn't like the new dog in the group. He did very few of the tasks because he was busy expressing his interest/anger over the new dog (a Doberman that could have eaten him in two bites). He had to be separated from the group. He did accept a piece of bacon from one child but when the child from last week offered him some on the second round, he barked at her and refused to take it. 

He is the star of the show and not in a good way. 

At the end, his trainer (who is very knowledgable, positive and encouraging) made a comment like, "After all, they say your dog is only as screwed up as you are." (I may be misquoting her -- I was hot, covered in bacon grease, and holding a bag of poop.)

Thanks, Max. 

We have two weeks left and I'm not all that hopeful. 

As we got into the car, I was thirsty, regretting the money I'd spent, and annoyed that I was the one taking this project on. 

And then I looked over and saw this: 

He was so happy to be trying something new. He looked so proud of himself and full of joy and gratitude for the opportunity. He did not care whether or not he looked like an idiot in front of the others. Then he drank all of the water from my cup with his impossibly long tongue. 

We should all be so lucky. 

My dog is as screwed up as I am and I'm in good company because of it.

Maybe we'll improve and maybe we won't but we will try to have fun trying.