Happy Freaking Birthday

"I'm not scared you'll leave me for a younger woman, You're a good guy and I know you'll do the right thing and you won't leave, but I'm scared you'll want to."

And that was how we ended our vacation. Those thoughts in my head had intruded, unwarranted into my head on our trip as I suffered back issues that made me feel about 157 years old. Unable to keep up with the others on our trip, I felt lame, slow and old. The waiter at the restaurant didn't even ask for my ID when I ordered my margarita. Jerk. And the scores of employees wishing me Happy Birthday, felt like they were rubbing it in. It was grad week at Disneyland and scores of highschool and college grads poured into the parks with their boundless energy and everlasting optimism about their futures. I remember that feeling. Now it just pisses me off.


There seems to come a time in a married woman's life when she crosses a threshold. Either knowingly or not, she crosses over in the eyes of the world from Miss to Ma'am. Then one day, she looks in the mirror to find creases on chest, by her eyes and on her forehead that don't go away 15 minutes after getting out of bed. She's lost a bit of glow. It's not dramatic, she doesn't look very aged, but it's the sudden realization that there are now scores of women who have that girlish charm, that lively glow, that smooth skin and that zest for life that she used to have. By now, she's had some kids. She's wiser, but she feels haggard and tired. She can barely remember what having a flat tummy without trying, feels like, and a little piece of her dies inside everytime the waiter hands her alcohol without asking for an ID. It's a subtle shift, like I said- it was nothing dramatic. But the moment that realization hit me, I panicked.

Now, Tim is a good guy. He's faithful, loving, kind, honest and hard-working. He's everything a man should be. He, as society allows, is getting better with age. I, on the other hand- as society demands, have now started buying products labeled "anti-aging" (because evidently you have to be proactive with this stuff). Screw you, society. The feminist and logical part of me knows that this is all bullshit. That I will continue to be beautiful to Tim until I'm dead. That he would never trade me in for a younger model. I know this. I do.

But the insecure anxious teenager inside me is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will want to.

It's hard for me to reconcile those two inner voices. It feels like an unfair and uneven playing field. As we age, he's getting better, and I'm just getting...softer. The whole "growing old together" sounds so romantic until the "growing old" part actually starts to kick in.

So there I sat in the airport, silent tears streaming down my face, feeling indignant at the relentless march of time, grieving my youth, and resenting my current irrational state. "This is ridiculous" I think, "you're crying in public, and now Tim is frustrated because he doesn't know how to help you." I felt a twinge of guilt because he didn't do anything wrong, and yet here he was feeling like I was punishing him. It wasn't fair and I knew it. I felt like I was losing my grip on reality. I preach passionately to our kids that it's what's on the inside that matters. That kindness is better than cuteness. That women are not objects, nor do they have an expiry date. I know at this point that I'm trying to manifest a Utopia. That this world doesn't yet exist. So how do we, the movers and shakers who are trying to shift the paradigm, deal when we have one foot in what should be, and one foot in what is?

I wish I knew the answer to that. I wish it was as simple as just believing and being confident. The reality is that we are human, and often prone to feeling insecure and anxious.

I need to trust. Both highschool boyfriends I had before Tim, cheated on me. They got tired of me and found someone else that felt new and exciting. Sure, it was highschool and I shouldn't have taken those relationships so seriously, but the damage was done. The message was clear- if you don't keep their interest, they'll leave. This paints and grim and unfair picture of men. Sure, this applies to some guys, but not all, and certainly not Tim. I have to remind myself of what I know: that I am more than my outer beauty, that as I age- I gather wisdom, experience and grace, and that my husband loves me. Always, no matter what. I can't be willing to allow thoughts to the contrary in my head.


This was an incredibly hard post to write, I almost scrapped it as soon as I typed it up. But we always strive to be honest with you, and to live our life in a way that hopefully helps others in relationships know they aren't alone.

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Our Charleston Trip

Ash and her cousin, Calvin

Ash and her cousin, Calvin

For a few days in April, Ash and I got to visit Charleston together. Ashley was the “Best Ma’am,” for her cousin who was the groom. As such, one of Ashley’s responsibilities was to plan the bachelor party. Ashley asked if I could come out to Charleston with her the weekend before the wedding to keep her company and go to the bachelor party with her.

I knew Ashley would be more comfortable if I was able to be with her there. It gave me the opportunity to see some of her family that we both enjoy hanging out with. Plus, we always have fun when we are able to explore a new city together.  

The Friday we got there we were able to have dinner at a local restaurant called Fuel and then walked down on King’s Street to check out some spots for the bachelor party the following evening. We found ridiculously good ice cream at a place called Jeni’s. Interesting enough, when we came back to our local AJs we found that they sell Jeni’s ice cream!

Saturday morning I woke up early and found a local pastry and coffee shop called Wild Flour Pastry. Ever since Ashley and I’s first vacation, our honeymoon, we enjoy finding a local coffee shop where we can go and spend our mornings on vacation. Give me a coffee, a pastry, and my wife on an outdoor patio in the morning, and I am set. If that can happen, I consider the vacation a success.

At The Cocktail Club on King St.

At The Cocktail Club on King St.

After a little rough start to the bachelor party that evening, one guy pre-gamed too hard and passed out before we went to dinner, we had a fantastic time. We had appetizers at a bar with local music, had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, ice cream again at Jeni’s, dancing at a nightclub, and finishing the night at a hip upstairs bar. Nightclub’s are not my scene, but I know that Ashley loves when I dance with her and I knew she was bummed that we were not going to be able to dance at the wedding (I had to fly home on Monday and the wedding was on Thursday). So I got outside of my comfort zone and danced with her and we had a lot of fun.

Enjoying sandwiches and coffee at Carmella’s on Bay St.

Enjoying sandwiches and coffee at Carmella’s on Bay St.

Sunday was Easter and we were able to spend the whole day together. We went to Wild Flour Pastry in the morning (again my favorite part) and got to stroll along King’s Street. We did a carriage tour around Charleston and explored some of the historic sites with her cousins and aunt and uncle.

Time on vacation with just Ashley and I is an enormous blessing. We usually end up talking about our hopes, dreams, and ideas that we have. Historically I have discounted my ideas as crazy and pushed them to the side. Ashley has been encouraging me lately to explore my ideas and not to instantly discount them. Ideas like starting a baby food jar recycling business or tinkering in customizing leather boots or working with Crossfit gyms to sell t-shirts internationally. Ashley has encouraged me to think of no idea as too big or too silly. The ability to share with her my ideas has required vulnerability, but her encouraging me and not discounting me, has made us closer.

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I encourage you to spend time on vacation doing the things you and your partner enjoy together, go outside of your comfort zone to do something you know your partner enjoys, and spend time dreaming together. In my experience, that is a good recipe for a great vacation.

-Tim


Capsulizing Your Travel Wardrobe

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I think I’ve done most of the traveling in our marriage, it’s just wound up that way. When I think back to how I used to travel and pack when I was first married, I just laugh. I still over-pack slightly, but gosh it’s nothing like how it used to be. Once I became a wardrobe stylist, I really began to embrace and love the idea of capsulizing wardrobes, especially when packing. Now when I travel, I rarely check bags if I can help it!

The basic philosophy for capsulizing your travel wardrobe, is so that you can double or even triple your outfit options without increasing the luggage. By packing thoughtfully, and being sure your pieces coordinate, it’s super easy to create a lot of looks with just a few key pieces. For such a short trip, each top should be able to be worn with any and all pants, skirts, etc.

Here’s how I get started:

1.) I map out my trip and what I’ll be doing.

So for this trip, most of my time will be spent cuddling or running around with my 2 year old nephew and holding my new little niece. My sister said she may want to sneak away for an evening with me while Daddy holds down the fort, so I’ll need to also pack something cute, but not fancy to wear to get out of the house. Also, at this point, I take weather into consideration. It is going to be highs in the mid-seventies and lows in the high 40’s, low 50’s. Cold by Arizona standards, so a jacket will be an absolute must. If it’s colder than that, I’ll just borrow a coat from my sister.

2.) Figure out the ratios

Because most of my time will be spent around the house, playing at the park, driving to doctor appointments etc., my travel wardrobe needs to reflect that. We generally tend to focus most of our packing attention and energy onto the events we are most excited about, and forget that those events don’t usually occupy our entire trip. You have to make sure you have enough options for the rest of your trip as well.

Total Pieces:

1 Button Up Shirt

3 T-shirts (normally, I’d pack two, but baby spit-up…)

1 pair of jeans

1 pair of yoga pants

1 dress

1 pair of pjs

Underwear for all the days

1 pair of comfy tennis shoes

1 pair of wedge heels

1 Jacket


3.) Capsulize

This is the fun part. I’ll be gone from Saturday to Tuesday, so excluding the first travel day, I have to make sure I’ve got outfits for 3 days.

Day 1: I like to travel comfy, yet chic, so for traveling there, I’ll be wearing a pair of black yoga pants leggings, a comfy button-up shirt, my “leather” jacket, and some cute wedge heels. I want to conserve space in my luggage since it will be all carry-on, so by wearing the bulkiest shoes, I’ll have those for when we go out, but I don’t need to pack them. Once I get there, it sounds like we will be going out into some desert area nearby so I can take some family photos of them, so I’ll simply change out of my shoes into some comfy tennis shoes that will be packed.

Day 2: Just a lazy day around the house, playing, and doing some cooking. I’ll re-wear the yoga pants and throw on a cute graphic t-shirt, suitable for lounging around the house. Because I’m running the risk of being spit-up on, I’m going to pack an extra t-shirt, just in case.

Day 3: Today, I’ll be taking my sister and the kids around town to a few doctor appointments, so I want to be a tiny step above yoga pants and a t-shirt, while still being comfortable enough to help her wrangle some kids! Jeans and that button-up from Day 1 would be super cute with this, paired with those comfy tennis shoes. And if we wind up going out that night, I can just change shoes to the wedge heels and instantly dress up the outfit. If I have extra room in my bag, maybe I’ll pack a maxi dress.

Day 4: Today I’ll be heading home, so again, comfy and chic, I’ll throw on a t-shirt and jeans and leather jacket with those wedge heels and get ready to jump into Tim’s arms, as no doubt, I’ll be a touch homesick and ready to be back in the swing of things with him.

Total packed pieces:

3 t-shirts

1 pair of jeans

1 dress

1 pair of pjs

Underwear

1 pair of comfy tennis shoes


My tip for maximizing packing space, is rolling your clothing into tight little logs you can stack and squeeze in there. I have loads more packing tips to share in a future blog, and guess what?? I’ll be traveling again in just a couple weeks to Charleston for my cousin’s wedding where I’ll be there a whole week! And guess what? Only carry-ons for me. In that blog, I’ll be sharing some of my extreme space saving tricks I’ve learned over the years of packing 4 kids’ worth of clothes into as little space as possible!


-Ash

Avoiding Tension on Vacation

“You’re taking 4 kids to Disney World?? Wow, you’re brave.”

We heard this no less than 27 times before we left on our trip in January of this year. Mostly, we were excited for this trip, but having heard that so many times it was starting to get to us. Tim's parents would be coming with us on this trip and we were excited for the extra company, extra set of eyes, and extra time that we would get to spend with them. Plus, they volunteered to take the kids for one night while we were there so that Tim and I could have a date night at the park. We would be gone a whole week, from Saturday to Saturday, and well that didn't feel like a long time, over the years, Tim and I have noticed that when we don't take time to stay connected even during vacations, we get grumpy and snippy and impatient with each other. We both set intentions before we left, that we wanted to relax and just have fun on the trip.

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The first part of our trip, we spent a few days with my Aunt and Uncle at the beach. It was so nice to relax there and watch them love on our kids. “The walls are soundproof, just so you know…” my uncle had said to us one night before we headed off to our guest room. We laughed, but yeah...we passed. There’s just something about the next morning when you know what you were up to last night... and so do other people... and the eye contact, and it just gets weird. So...yeah. (We have a story about that for another time.) But we found other ways to connect. We had nice long conversations on the drive to Orlando, and found that we were doing a pretty good job of just relaxing and enjoying the moments.

Once at Disney World, each day was a whirlwind of walking, riding rides, standing in lines, getting autographs- you know how it is. Each day, we found little ways to connect with each other: holding hands, walking together while our kids meandered out in front, stealing kisses, smiling at each other, taking selfies, taking our time, and taking advantage of a locking bathroom door in our room after the kids had gone to sleep. (You gotta get it when you can, you know??)

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This may all sound incredibly cheesy, and trust me, the feeling isn’t always there. But kindness begets kindness, positivity begets more positivity. Just exchanging a smile here and there often goes a long way in keeping anxiety and tension levels in check. Find little romantic things to do even on vacation. Tim would get up before me and go down and get me a latte each morning before I got up. It was a small thing, and obviously he was there getting himself coffee too, but I saw that little gesture as his way of saying, “I’m thinking about you.” When you’re looking for those little things, you’ll see them.

Staying connected just in everyday life is hard enough, staying connected while on vacation often falls to the bottom of the priority list because we often have so much else going on. Keep it at the top of your list, and notice how much easier and joyful your vacations become. That was our best and favorite family vacation so far, and we didn’t come home feeling like we needed a vacation from our vacation.

-Ash

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