Tuesday, April 08, 2014


I've got ten minutes before Carter gets off the suburban.

We'll see how much I can fit in.

+The house is great.  So great.  We love it here, and look forward to a long and happy life in this sweet little house.

+As much as we love this house, Carter loves it more.  It's his home, for sure.

+Carter rides the suburban to school now! He's such a big boy, and I partly want to sob.  We see the suburban pull up (filled with all his little friends) and he says "DOONNNAAA!".  That's the driver.  He's smitten.

+It feels like it finally might be turning into spring, which is great news for people who have yards and driveways.  We have neither.  So we venture down our smooshy gravel driveway and head for the road.  And we walk.  And walk.  And walk.  And then pray that Carter is ready to go back inside.

+When will we have a driveway or yard? Not for a very, very long time, thanks to extra wet conditions.  Boo.

+Carter eats more fruit than I can keep up with.  Before school at noon-ish, he eats: a banana, an apple, pineapple or watermelon, grapes, and strawberries.  At a minimum.  Which means Mama eats more fruit, too.  Win-win!

+We're all healthy again.  Since we've moved in, at least one of us has been sick.  But now we're healthy, and what a difference that makes.

+Essential oils.  I never thought they'd be for me.  More to come on this, maybe.  But for now, I'm learning so much and having fun trying different concoctions with my two favorite guys.

+Girls night was last night.  Lots of laughter, and well-wishes for a mama who will be welcoming her littlest into this world in just a few days.  Good, good stuff.

+I'm getting bored with my at-home coffee routine (not to be confused with my 'cafe' coffee routine!). Anyone else? I don't look forward to it, and it doesn't even taste good to me anymore.  Any k-cups that I buy are too strong or too weak.  I even bought a box of tea last week.  Tea!  I didn't like that, either.  I'm sure you're going to be at the edge of your seats, wondering what I end up doing - so I'll be sure to keep you all posted.  :)

Currently, this is my coffee substitute.

The coffee isn't great, but the view is perfection!
+I went to a Down syndrome conference this weekend.  Which is fun in itself, but the best part?  I sat with 3 members of Carter's team.  Three!  I realize we have an extra special group of professionals at school.  We are sort of incredibly lucky.  And in a few weeks, we'll all sit together for Carter's IEP meeting.  For kindergarten.  Kindergarten!

+Carter has been completely rocking the big-boy bed.  If you remember, he's been in a twin bed since we moved into Jake's parents house back in August...but he was at the foot of our bed.  So he didn't dare leave his bed during the night!  We had a couple 2AM "I want to play with toys now" episodes during our first week here - but not one since!  He stays in bed until morning, and gets up to play then (usually around 7AM).  Big boy!

DONNNNAAAA will be here any second - which means I'm done.  Much love to you all.

One Thing I Know For Sure: This life is so good.  So full.  So messy and perfect.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


We are HOME! Saturday night was our first sleep in the new digs.

Let me back up.  The movers came to unload everything on Friday, and Jake and I spent Saturday hauling a few more loads and getting everything settled in while Carter spent the day with my mom.

When we went to pick Carter up in the afternoon, it was obvious that he felt like crud.  Great.  First night in a new place, and dude is sick.  

Carter cried on and off during the ride home - completely not like him.  We told him we were going to the house and he cried some more.  He wanted his bed, and his jammies - and he didn't understand that those were now at the house.

More tears, more explaining, more tears, and two bummed parents.  

We finally made it home - Carter walked in the door, and instantly relaxed.  He was home.  It didn't matter that we were in a new place.  

Because we are his home.  

He was comfortable, because we were there.  He was home, because he was with us.  


After tucking our little buddy in his new bed, we did what anyone would do.  We made a pizza and some breadsticks, and went to bed early.

"This is weird - we're eating dinner - and nobody else is home!"

Remember those 7 months we spent living with Jake's fam?  It's almost like a distant memory now.  Almost.  :)

Sunday morning looked like this:

Coffee, jammies, books in laps - all done before church.

A little more unpacking on Sunday afternoon, and I was glad to see this little lady survived the move.

Then just more of this:

I mean, what do you want me to say?  Life is looking pretty good here.  Carter is back to normal (he was a bit of an animal at Mimi & Poppy's house - darting from one room to the next, never really settling to play with toys).  He finds a spot, grabs a toy, and does exactly what little boys are supposed to do.

It's good to be back to normal.  And it's good to eat plain tortillas.

It's Carter's newest love.  Whatever.


Our first days here haven't quite gone as expected.  We're all sick - so it's basically been survival-mode since Saturday.  Which means there are more things in boxes than I'd like.  

Oh well.

I'm good with it.  It's good to slow down.  It will get done when it gets done.

The bonus is that I've been reunited with my old childhood love: Little House on the Prairie.  It's on while Carter's at school, and since I hit the bed as soon as I drop him off, I've had three whole afternoons to get reacquainted with Laura and Willie and that nasty Mrs. Oleson.  She really gets me.

Carter's on day 4 of his antibiotic, and I'm on day 2.  Which means that tomorrow, we should all be feeling so much better.  I know, I know...antibiotics.  Not my favorite thing.  But sometimes it's necessary.  Or just bad timing - just hours after I started my antibiotic, my Young Living kit arrived at our old address.

Oh well.


That's all I've got.  Time for Little House.

One Thing I Know For Sure: There's no place like home!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Back to Normal.

I've posted three times about lessons that I've learned from my dad.  For now, I'm done.  I've got more in my head and my heart and my drafts folder.  But for now, let's just get back to normal.

You can read the first three posts in the "Lessons from my Dad" series here, here, and here.


Normal.  These days, it's a little boring.  Wanna see a 'day in the life'?

Okay.  Here it is.  A normal Gibson Tuesday.

Cereal + Banana.




More play.


Will work for candy.




Big digger + Chickens.

Ice cream with Dad.


Imagine a photo of mom having lunch with a friend (California burger, no lettuce, extra fries...shhhhh!) and later, a hair trim while her boys enjoy some ice cream :)

One Thing I Know For Sure: Boring? Maybe. But oh so good, too.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lessons from My Dad {tell them you love them}

When Jake and I were dating, he'd say something very sweet and thoughtful.  And I would want to puke.

I was not an emotional, touchy-feely person.  After Jake and I got married, I changed.  Now I embrace that sugary-sweet side of him, and I appreciate those traits of his that don't come quite so naturally to me.

My dad always, always, always said 'I love you'.  After every phone call - even if he was just calling to say he was on his way home from the store.  Every night before bed.  Always, always, always.

Those words were always on the tip of his tongue.  He gave hugs freely.

My mom and I - not so much.

Maybe this was partly because it sometimes felt like overkill.

Maybe it was partly because, at times, we questioned if he really did love us.  But we knew that he wanted to love us.  And he tried to love us well.

Truth be told, he did love us the best that he could, even if it didn't always feel like it.

And maybe his freeness in saying those 3 words was born from a knowledge that he wasn't always great at showing his love, but he could tell us about it.

So maybe this is the lesson to be learned: If you love someone, tell them.  If you feel you might have hurt someone, tell them.  If you wish you could be better, tell them.  If you're sorry, tell them.  If you're trying, tell them.  Just tell them.

But offer those words when you mean them.  Don't hesitate.  You're not a 'lovey' person?  It doesn't matter.  If you love someone, tell them.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Just tell them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lessons from My Dad {work your ass off, and play hard}

Yes, I said ass.  And now I've said it again.  Because my dad would have.

{Let's break for a story.  I'll never forget the time my mom found a secret page in my notebook.  I scratched the word 'asinine' in big dark letters.  I was in big trouble.  When my mom asked me where I heard that word, I told her that my dad used it when he was looking for his 'asinine shoes'.  That day, I felt awful.  Today, I laugh.}

Back to the lesson.

(See what I did there?  Now I didn't actually use the word.  My husband just let a sigh of relief.)  

My dad was always a hard worker, for as long as I can remember.  I could count his sick days from my entire childhood on one hand.  Or maybe even one finger.  

Our 'fun' days on the weekends were spent doing yard work or doing household projects.  My mom would be raking, my dad would be working on the pond (we had a big pond in our yard, which was beautifully landscaped in it's glory days) - and I'd be grumbling away, silently cursing under my breath each time I'd bend to pick up a stick.  My mom would pause, wave to my dad, look to the sky, and say something ridiculous and cruel like "Isn't this fun?!".  She really meant it.

Working hard wasn't a chore, it was a choice.  And they both enjoyed working hard together.  All while their snarling darling worked alongside them.


I'd like to think that today, after all those years of grumbling through it, I might be a sort-of-hard-worker.  Maybe I'm getting there.  Or maybe I have a busy 5 year old that sometimes takes precedence. Or maybe my standard for what a hard-worker looks like was set way too high.  Or maybe I'm just a lazy only child.

Either way, I see the value in a hard days work, done without 'pissing and moaning' (one of my dad's favorite go-to phrases) :)


My dad loved a good vacation.

The Bahamas, Maui (x3!), Mexico, Disney, the Dells...as much as he valued a hard days work, he valued time away.  With his girls.  Unplugged.  He worked hard, and this was his gift to himself, and to us.

On vacation, our wish was his command.  Want a whopper from Burger King at 11pm?  Awesome!  Eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  Done!  You said you really need that touristy trinket-y piece of junk?  It's yours!  Daddy, I could really go for a $9 smoothie...?  Good, so could I, Ash.

Our family knows how to vacation.  Thankfully, I married a man who also understands this.  Going on vacation to make meals and do laundry and live boringly is just so very wrong.

 December 2005 - BABIES, I tell ya!
I left the date on so I could rub in your faces that we spent Christmas & New Years Eve 2005 in Maui...
Don't hate me.

But playing hard goes beyond the 7 days of a family vacation.

It looked like a dad who would turn up the music and jam with middle school girls on the way home from the movie theater at 10pm.  Or making (delicious, juicy, grilled-to-perfection) steaks on a Tuesday night, because he felt like it.  Or taking your nephew to an arcade and spending a whole Saturday morning goofing off with him.  Or spending the perfect summer evening on the porch, listening to the wind blow through the trees.

These are important things.  And my dad always made time.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Work your ass off, and play hard.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Lessons from My Dad.

On Valentines Day, I'll be remembering my dad's life, as it will be one year since he died.

'Died' seems so cold.  So far removed.  And I guess that's exactly what death is.

Death is so final, except it's not.

{It's not.}

My dad died alone, in more ways than one.  It's something I will always feel sad about.  His life was gone in a single breath without an ounce of warning.  At least people with fatal illnesses have family surrounding them when they go from this life to the next.

Not my dad.  He was alone, and nobody knows what happened in his final hours on this earth.

Well, no one, except Someone.

I suppose that while fatal illness brings some families together, mental illness divides and isolates.

It wasn't all bad, though.  I'm choosing to remember the good.  Sometimes even forcing myself.

I read a quote recently that said "Someone I love once gave me a box full of darkness.  It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift."

His life is worth remembering.  I have to believe that there was a purpose in the good, and the bad.  It's made me who I am, yes.  But it can't just be for me.  There has to be more purpose than just shaping me.  What that purpose is, I don't know.  So I'll just share.

For the rest of this month, I'm going to document the good.  For me.  For my dad.  For my family.  For future generations.  Maybe even for you.

It's taken me a year to get here.  Join me.

One Thing I Know For Sure: This, too, is a gift.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I'm here again with the same old sob story.

Surprise! School is closed.  

Tomorrow is supposed to be worse.  According to those horrible, awful, no-good weather men.  

Just kidding.  I'm sure they're nice.  Especially Mr. Petoniak.  I like him.  

Yesterday, knowing full well that the coming days would be spent bundled inside, we decided to toss this kid outside for a few minutes.  

He could not believe we were letting him go outside.  He's only been begging since November.

The shoes.  I know.  Bad.  Please don't write hateful comments!
His boots were in the car.  The freezing, cold car.
Anyone know how it feels to put on ice cold boots? It's worse than wearing your shoes in the snow.  Really.
 You'll never guess how Carter chose to spend his 15 minutes outside!


I have high hopes that tomorrow will be the last snow day of the school year.  Wishful thinking, maybe.  It's not that I don't love spending time with this sweet, silly boy.  Because I do.

But this weather hits, and the days drag on.  And on.  And on.  So we snuggle up to watch Sesame Street.  We play trains.  We read books.  We eat chips.  We play trains.  We play iPad.  We watch Sesame Street.  We read books.  We eat macaroni.  We play trains.

Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.

You get the idea.

Someday, I'll beg for these days to come back.  I know.  

So here's a note to my future self: Ash - your kidlets are all grown now.  And you wish they were still babies.  Guess what?  It wasn't as idyllic as it seemed.  Days were hard.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  But grown kids are good, too.  Find the good stuff.  It's there.  Do a fun project by yourself.  Take a nap.  Read a book.  Kick your feet up.  And toast your younger self.  Which would be me.  Toast me.  Because I'm watching a young child.  So I can't.

I end with this.  We're in a hard season.  Winter is hard, no doubt.

But it's only for a season, I promise.  And sometimes the seasons in our life seem never-ending and too hard and impossible to withstand.  

It's only for a season, though.  And soon, the sun with shine - the snow will melt - and things will be good again.

I promise!

One Thing I Know For Sure: As my Grannie said in her email this morning - "The sun shineth, and spring is coming" - she's endured many more winters than I, so she must know what she's talking about.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Have you ever needed a little pick me up?  A quick getaway?  Some excitement in the midst of the monotony?

On Wednesday night, Jake said "What if I took off Friday and we went to the Tundra Lodge on Thursday night?"

"Umm....sure.  I guess?"

I didn't want to get my hopes up, but inside I was screaming "YESSSSS!!!  PLEASE!!!".

So he did.  And we went.


We told Carter on Thursday morning that later we would go 'swim'.  Immediately, he started running around saying 'swiiim, swiiim!'.  I got out the picture schedule that we use (occasionally, definitely not consistently) and tried to make it clear that we were going much, much later.  Because really, for Carter, 10 hours is like an eternity.  Saying 'later' just wouldn't suffice this time :)

As soon as I picked him up from school "Swiiim! Swiiim! Dada, swiiim!".  Carter understands.  Don't let his lack of words fool you.

We arrived, and as soon as we got Carter out of the car, he was shouting 'Hooray!'.  Carter understands.

In true Carter form, he absolutely wowed us.  He was so brave, so sure of himself, so confident.

He tackled the steps, bridges, and little slides like a champ.  He showed no fear at all.  Jake and I just kept looking at each other in amazement.

We even went down the big kids water slide.  This is a moment I would be happy to forget.  Carter and I went down together, but he wouldn't sit in his own section (which is good, actually, because he would have slid right through!).  So we were both sitting in one section of a double tube.

Can you guess how this unfolds?!  Carter liked the slide part, but the going under water as we came out of the slide and flipped over part - not so much.  Part of me thought "That's it - we're done.  He's going to grab his shoes and say 'bye-bye' and run for the door."

Again.  Wowed us.  Jake came down the slide - we eased him into the next pool over, and that little stinker was saying "Up, up, up {the steps}! Slide!".  HA.  Such a brave boy.

Unfortunately for him, his mama didn't want to go again :)

Look at this big boy!

We decided that those 6 swimming lessons in the summer really paid off.  Remember our screaming sessions at the pool in Florida?  I DO!

I wish I could forget :)

Here, he went right to the steps and walked in himself.  Not clinging.  Not grabbing.  Not screaming.

Confident.  Sure.  Aware.  Excited, even.

So proud of this little (er...big) boy.  

Growing and changing in so many ways - always showing us that Carter can, & Carter will.  


I learned many things during this little getaway of ours.  

I can't explain the look on the other little boy's face.  He's definitely giving Carter the stink eye.
Scrawny kid in the blue shorts, Carter is much bigger than you.  You're lucky he wouldn't hurt a fly.
He's much more tan, too.  Not your typical Eastern European!
For example: some women should never wear a bikini in public.  I just don't understand this.  If you will be grabbing for towels to cover yourself, or spend your time hiding behind large faux boulders or small children - then save yourself from an entire day of humiliation and just go for the one piece.

There, I said it.

Other things I learned:
(1) These water parks are a dang good way to recharge and refuel without taking a full-on vacation - well worth the money.
(2) The moms who bring books to read while their kids play get to me.
(3) I secretly long for the day that I am a mom who can read a book while my kids play.
(4) My kid looks even more adorable in swim trunks.
(5) I'm grateful that I can walk around in my suit without feeling uncomfortable - it made me sad to see grown women so self-conscious and anxious.  Moms - your kids are watching you.  And not just your little girls - but your little boys, too.
(6) Don't dry-shave 4 hours before you swim.  You'll regret it.
(7) Don't ever expect Carter to sleep in because he's extra tired.  Because he'll be up at 4:30a, begging to swim.  And the pool won't open til 9a.  True story.

That's it.

Oh yeah, (8) We're pretty lucky to have a guy who will take a vacation day at the last minute so he can whisk his family away for a mini-adventure.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Just go for the one piece.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Speaking Of....

I'd really like to tell you about how wonderful the past few weeks have been, and maybe share some dreamy photos.  But that would all be a big fat lie.

Carter had 2 weeks off for Christmas break.  It was just long enough to enjoy each other.  I'm convinced that 14 days is the cut off.  By day 15, we were both tired of it and wanted our routine.

That's not all.  Monday, when Carter was supposed to return to school, we had a snow day.  Bummer. Oh well  - what's one more day, right?

Wrong.  Because, surprise!  Tuesday - snow day.

Carter went to school on Wednesday and Thursday.  He always has off Friday's.  No problem, he'll go back on Monday.

Wrong.  Because, surprise! Monday is an early release day, and now that Carter goes to school in the afternoon, he has no school on early release days.  It's okay, he'll be back tomorrow, and it will all be good. 

Wrong.  Because, surprise! Tuesday - snow day.

I couldn't make this stuff up.

He went to school yesterday.  Today he's at school.  All is well.

{I just looked at my calendar.  There's no school next Monday.}




Speaking of surprise....

Here's another little sweet surprise.  I stopped at the house today, and - good golly - it's drywalled.  There is an end in sight, after all.

In a few days, we'll be celebrating 5 months of living with Jake's fam.  Five months.  That's about 3 months longer than we expected.  So really, is 'celebrate' the right word?  Let's ask them.

Or let's not :)

Either way, we will soon be celebrating lots of things in our new house, in our new town.  I can hardly wait....!


Speaking of celebrating....except the opposite....

One year ago this week, sweet Moses was ushered into a little room at the vet, never to walk out again.


Jake and I were talking about puppies - how much fun Carter would have with one - how much work it would be for us - but it's okay because it would be fun - and we could get this kind - or maybe that kind - and we could name it this - ...and then we thought of Moses.  And got tear-y.  And said forget it.

I think we're not ready.


Speaking of not being ready....

This new year sort of snuck up on me.  Last year, and the year before, I had a plan of attack.  In my head, I thought "This new year will look like this".  I had a theme.

This year, nothing.

I'm sort of in a funk.  And that's okay.  We all go through seasons of having it all together, and seasons of not really caring about having it all together.  I'm good with it.  Because soon, I'll be in a season called "Unpack all our earthly belongings and nest like a crazy woman in my new house".

So here I am, in this season of in-betweenness and waiting.

There's good stuff ahead.  I promise.

I know this to be true:

And this, a good remind for me as I wait:

What season are you in, friend?  Can you appreciate where you're at, even if it's not really where you want to be?  I hope so.  There's good to be found right here - and there's more ahead.  

One Thing I Know For Sure: "Look for the good, you will find it." {be the first to name the popular blogger who said this, for 1000 bonus points} :)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

I can't believe we're already saying goodbye to two thousand and stinkin thirteen.

But we are.  So here are my thirteen favorite photos of the year, in chronological order.


Back in the days of potty training.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  Just recently, Jake and I looked at each other and said "Hey - our kid is potty trained!".  It happened so quickly, and part of me thought it would take several tries.  Once again, Carter surprised us and the techniques worked.  Phew!


A little guy and his little girl, enjoying their BINGO video.  So, so sweet.  We miss this blonde little bombshell so much....


I don't even know what to say.  Little belly, smooshy cheeks, hooded towel.  He's almost edible.


Freedom!  On the beach in Florida.  I can't wait to see how he'll own that beach this year.


Our little family.  This might be an all-time favorite, folks.


Such a big, brave boy - leaving '4' and entering '5' - surrounded by his people.  Cry.


Carter's first year at Vacation Bible School.  With his girl, Rach, by his side - he rocked it.  And it made me realize, once again, that he is capable of so much more than I realize.


Carter loves this Dad of his so much, and he always has a smile or two for him.  This one, while on vacation up north.  My two favorite guys, makes my heart swoon :)


And this.  If it wouldn't be weird to hang a giant canvas in the living room of me in my swimsuit, I totally would.  And maybe I will.  Because it's my house.  Well, kind of.


My little boy, holding the hand of someone so dear to me.  After an afternoon of picking Door County cherries in the summer.


His little sassy grin just screams 'stinker'.


Because, FINALLY.


'HOORAY!' - A pretty great way to end 2013, wouldn't you say?


And because it doesn't seem right to post a New Years post without a Christmas post, I will give you a quick run-down:
Five celebrations
Forgot camera at four of them
Family love all around
Spoiled 5 year old
Yummy eats
Favorite people

Merry Christmas.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Peeking into 2014, and it looks pretty darn good.

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