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Friday, July 24, 2015

A New Chapter: The Beginning of My Happily Ever After


"With some, 
we're certain our hearts must have been acquainted,
long before we ever met them."
~Shakieb Orgunwall

To my oldest friends.

The ones who have been reading my story since the days of brand new motherhood.

The days when I wrote about things like family vacations, and recipes, and blog awards. 

The ones who have laughed and cried with me. 

The ones who have cheered for me and forgiven me.

The ones who have taken my brutal honesty in stride. 

I have been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now, but the words just would not come.

I cannot express this happiness I still do not believe is my own.

I keep wondering if I've somehow lost myself in a dream, but then he puts his arms around me and pulls me in for a furry kiss, and I am reminded that this...THIS...is very real.

On June 13, 2015, the man of my dreams asked me to be his wife.

Was I surprised?

Not really.

We've been talking about it for a while and I knew it was coming.

But, I had no idea how he was planning to ask, and I am proud to say that the gorgeous ring on my finger was selected and designed by him and him alone.

Yeah. He'll try to tell you that he stinks at being romantic.

I, however, will tell you a completely different story.

Because, my dear friends, I can honestly say that I had no idea that love could ever be this sweet or this sincere, and he is teaching me every single day that it can be and it should be and it is.

It just is.

So, with this engagement, I feel a chapter of my life closing and a new one getting ready to begin, and I have a feeling that the girl I am in this new chapter is ten thousand times more ready for the journey ahead than the girl I was only a few chapters ago.

She has known young love and come to realize that it doesn't always grow up with you.

She has known passionate love and come to learn that more often than not, that kind of love is merely a disguise for ugly lies and even uglier truths.

And now that she is almost 30, she is finally getting to know true love-the kind of love that will withstand the test of time with a man who will only love you more as your crow's feet and laugh lines deepen, and as your body softens through the years with babies and a slowing metabolism that refuses to listen to your pleas.

The kind of love that chooses to love you right where you are-every single day-no exceptions.

The kind of love that doesn't care about the past, because the future is so much better.

The real kind. The good kind. The truest of true kind.

I don't think she ever believed it existed until now. 

I have never been full of so much purpose and drive as I am in this moment, and I know this is only a glimmer of all the wonderful things my Father has planned for me.

So, for my dear friends who have followed me from chapter to chapter, this is my thank you.

Thank you for walking this journey with me, and for secretly cheering for me every step of the way.

I want you to know that I've made it.

My story is finally on it's way to a happy ending-a beautiful ending.

And I can't wait to write every single word. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Short Season

"Childhood is a short season."
~Helen Hayes 

My earliest memories are from when I was 5 years old. 

I don't have any memories of carpet from when I started crawling or standing at the screen door in the evenings when I was two years old waiting patiently for my dad. 

No. Kindergarten is when my earliest concrete memories began and those are the memories that have stayed with me for almost 25 years. 

In kindergarten, I remember crying almost every. single. day. 

I remember the sticker chart where we were rewarded for memorizing our phone number, address, and birthday. 

I remember getting sent to the Principal's office after I kissed Matthew Crutchfield for the first time...on the back. 

I remember Jason Goodwin drooling on my desk at least once a week. I still have a phobia of spit to this day. 

I also remember how Mrs. Dulaney lead me to the Lord in the tiny down stairs office after my kindergarten teacher gave an extremely intimidating Bible study lesson on hell. 

I remember that the summer after kindergarten was when our favorite babysitter, Anna, started watching my sisters and I. 

I remember how much I adored her and how I would get up while it was still dark outside to sit on the couch and wait for her. 

I remember how awful my sisters and I were to her, but how she kept coming back year after year. 

I remember swimming in my Grandma's swimming pool and living in our swimming suits all summer long. I have no memories of real clothes or shoes or even actual baths. Just swim suits, bare feet, and shampooing our hair in the swimming pool each night. 

I remember the summer trips we always took with my mother, and how she'd brave our favorite theme park alone with only me, my sisters, and all of our cousins in tow. 

I remember the summer that the Disney movie Pocahontas came out, and how I spent the entire summer pretending that I was her by making forts in the woods and wearing the same green t-shirt and shorts almost every single day.  

I remember all of this and so much more. 

I had a great childhood free of hardship and heartache, and all of my memories are full of sweet innocence.

Unlike you, my darling daughter. 

No one asked me to make hard choices.

I didn't live in fear of disappointing one parent or the other.

I didn't have to watch my mom struggle with how to help me not to feel that way.

I didn't have to divide my time up between one parents house and the other. 

I didn't have to deal with different bedrooms, different toys, and different rules from one place to the next. 

I never had to tell my mom about how much easier my little life was when my parents were still together. 

I didn't cry when my dad picked me up on Sundays. 

I never felt like I was missing out on birthday parties or fun Sunday school activities. 

And unlike you, I got to go to my Grandma's house with the pool every single Sunday and I never knew what it was like to miss my cousins-my very best friends. 

And sometimes I wonder what childhood memories you will take with you? 

Will you remember all the hard things your daddy and I have asked you to go through? 

Will you remember all of your tears and fleeting moments at either place?

Will you remember the tremendous amount of pressure being put on you to grow up way too soon?

Will you?

Or will you also remember the way we loved you-fiercely-and how we fought to protect you the best we could? 

Will you remember the date nights with your daddy and the impromptu hotel stays we had together-just you and I? 

Will you remember how you loved to swim and how you had more pools to choose from than any of the other children you knew? 

Will you remember the first time you got flowers from a boy in your kindergarten class for your birthday?

Will you remember the Branson trips with Grandma Kelly and the summer you spent with your Noah?

Or will you remember the sleepovers with sweet Mya, because even I know you don't get to see her enough and the age gap just seems to be getting wider and wider with you two?

I wonder often about these things, my sweet girl. 

I want nothing more than for your childhood to be a happy one, and for the good memories to outweigh the bad.

Which is why I have fought so hard for your childhood and I will continue to fight for your childhood, because I know the world around you will make you grow up soon enough and all that will be left of your fleeting moment in childhood will be your memories.

So that's why I don't care that you still ask for my help sometimes, or that you still find your way to my bed when your scared.

Because I know that someday you won't ask me to read just one more book to you and that pajama parties and our "fancy" dinners where we dress up like princesses will be the last thing on your mind.

I know that eventually your American Girl dolls and all your beloved stuffed animals will take a back seat to your phone, your car, and your friends.

I know that there will come a day when you won't ask for girl nights with me and that I will someday spend my evenings without you while I wait for you to come home from dates and the movies with your friends.

I know all of this.

And I accept all of this.

But, for now, I want you to be 6 years old.

Just 6.

Whatever that looks like to you.

No matter how silly it may seem to them or how many times they may tell me that I need to let you grow up and that I need to treat you like a "big girl".

I hope you remember how I never listened.

Not one time.

Because when you're with me, I just let you be the child that some of them keep forgetting you still are.

And I know.

Trust me, I know. 

I know good and well that you will grow up far before you and I are ready for you too.

But I'm thankful that isn't today.

And I'm trusting it won't be tomorrow either. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Co-Parenting Diaries: Crazy Train


I swear.

If you were to ask my ex-husband, he would tell you that I'm crazy.

Certifiably, why-have-they-not-committed-me-yet, crazy.

And in his defense, sometimes I am.

Yep. It's true.

This divorcee-who sometimes feels like I have at least 10,000 reasons as to why I am divorced from my ex-husband-isn't perfect and yes, even I have my moments.

I know! Shocking, right?!

I mean just the other day, while we were having an argument that was pretty much the direct result of me blowing something completely out of proportion, I completely lost it.

Another shocker, I know. 

And in the middle of that heated screaming match conversation, I told my ex-husband I was going to kill him.

Yep.

That happened.

Those words actually left my mouth.

Dear God, please help us. 

I, of course, didn't mean it and I could tell by his laughter-which was only adding fuel to the fire-that he also knew I didn't mean it.

But seriously, if he turns up dead in the next month or so, I'm gonna have some serious explaining to do.

So, let it be known that if that happens, I didn't do it.

I mean, I probably didn't do it. 

Just kidding.

I promise.

I digress.

Anyway, it's clear that we obviously still have our moments.

Despite our commitment to successful co-parenting and the HUGE strides we have made in that general direction, I would be straight up lying if I told you we had perfected it.

He is still the best person at pushing my buttons, and I am still the best person at completely over reacting about some of the stupidest crap.

I swear, we all turn into our mothers eventually. 

Trust me, when I encourage other divorced parents to "pick their battles", it's with full knowledge that I am not always the best at doing this.

And if we're telling the truth, the commitment to successful co-parenting is just straight up hard some days.

It's hard to find common ground with the one person you have so little in common with anymore.

It's hard to communicate with the last person on earth you really want to talk to today.

And it's hard to know sometimes where the line of respecting the other parent and allowing them to help you make parenting decisions ends and where the line of being able to make your own parenting decisions without them begins.

It's just hard.

Like super hard. 

But, thank God for wine and co-workers who overlook the scene you just made in the middle of work and let you take a break to cry it out.

Because tomorrow is a new day.

We may not always get it right, but the point is that we are trying.

Every. single. day.

And at the end of each day, no matter how mad he makes me or how crazy I act towards him, our daughter still knows how much she is loved and wanted by both parents

We're all just doing our best over here.

Most of the time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I Wish I Would Have Known About Marriage in My Early 20's


I was 21 years old the first time I said, "I do".

I have written a lot about our journey from two crazy kids who were ready to take on the whole world to two grown ups trying to figure out our journey through divorce and co-parenting.

And as you all already know, it has been a struggle. 

Needless to say, I am a completely different person now than I was at the very young age of 21.

At almost 30, I am wiser, stronger, and so much more sure of who I am and what I want in this life.

I have life experiences I didn't have 8 years ago and all the scars to prove it.

The journey from naive little girl to lionhearted woman hasn't been an easy one, and while I don't regret the road that brought me here, I often wonder about the things I know now that I wish I would of known then.

The things that would of eased the heartache and turmoil of my journey to the place where I am now.

Over the past few months, I have compiled a list of all the things I wish I would of known about marriage in my early 20's. This list is composed of advice I received, but didn't take to heart, and advice that I would give now that I didn't even know existed during those early moments of my first marriage.

As wedding season approaches, I would hope that this post would encourage more than discourage.

While my child-bride fairytale didn't quite pan out, I know several couples who chose to get married very young and those couples are still going strong. I admire them and the hard work I watch them put into their marriages daily. It is no easy feat, but one that they choose over and over and over again every single day.

I would encourage any young person planning on getting married to find these couples who have withstood the test of time and learn all that you can from them. Their advice is indispensable and it comes from a place of deep understanding. Listen to their words carefully and absorb all that they have to offer.

Who knows? Maybe you will save yourself from all the hard lessons that I stubbornly chose to learn on my own.

*****

1. Marriage is HARD work. 

I am aware that this is the oldest piece of wedding day advice in the book, but I truly believe it is the most overlooked piece of advice by all newlyweds. Trust me, I know that marriage is hard work no matter what age you are when you get married, but I think it's even harder when you choose to marry young.

I believe this to be true, because you spend your first few years basically growing up together. I chose to get married when I was 21, and by the time I was 25, I had morphed into a completely different person than I was the day I got married. I had different dreams and goals for my life, and most of those things differed from what I had originally wanted at 21. This was really hard on my first marriage, and played a huge part in our downfall.

My encouragement to anyone who is choosing to get married very young would be to keep this in mind. Be open to how your spouse is going to mature and grow, and be willing to grow with them through it. It's not going to be easy and you will be tempted to hold them back by reminding them of what the had said they wanted in the beginning, but I believe the strongest marriages are the ones where both people can learn to love one another through every season of their lives. It's important to allow each other to grow and mature into the people God wants you to be in every aspect of your life together.

2. Your very first fight as a married couple will be about money. 

Let me paint a picture for you:

My ex-husband's parents are very financially sound people and they have worked very hard to be that way. My ex-husband wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I-on the other hand-was a spoiled brat whose parents had always bought her EVERYTHING her little heart desired. I used to be notorious for spending every dime in my checking account the moment my paycheck hit the bank. This was because I had never had any real financial responsibility until I got married.

What happened next was absolute chaos!

My ex-husband's father told us in the weeks and months leading up to our wedding that our very first fight would most likely be about money. While we heard his warning, I don't think anything could of prepared us for the years of financial hardship that awaited us. Not only were we very young and absolutely stupid with our money most of the time, we also jumped headlong into two huge financial responsibilities within our first year of marriage: our first home and a brand new car.

We did all of this without completely understanding each others views on money which made our first "official" argument about money more than a fight, but a full on nuclear attack of our marriage!

Unfortunately, we were never able to get on the same page about money and finances, and this played a huge part in our ultimate demise.

If I could encourage any young couple to address one major issue before tying the knot: this would be it!

Money most certainly isn't everything, but if you aren't committed to being open and honest about it and you don't share the same views about how it should be spent, then it can definitely end up being a deal breaker.

3. You can't change people.

As the oldest of four girls, I have always been notorious for being bossy.

Like REALLY bossy.

My sisters can all attest to the fact that when we were growing up, it was always my way or the highway! In other words, if you didn't play what I wanted to play, you didn't get to play at all.

And at almost 30 years old, this hasn't changed much, except that I am far less selfish and I have finally figured out that I'm not always going to get my way.

I know. Shocking, right?! 

You want to know how I was able to learn this shocking truth? By choosing to get married at 21 to someone who was not intimidated by my bossy personality.

For years, I tried to "boss" my ex-husband into the mold I thought he should fit in to "make me happy" and "meet my needs".

But, instead of succeeding, I just screamed, cried, and pouted my way into a miserable existence.

I know now, many years later, that I should have listened to the whispers of those around me who just happened to know so much more than I did when they said,

"You can't change people, Ash." 

I can't even begin to describe how much heartache I would of saved my little, 21 year old self if I would of absorbed this advice the first time around.

You cannot force your spouse to be something their not. You just can't.

Yes, it's important to bend, to listen, and to understand each other.

Yes, it's important to be in tune to one another's love language, and to understand that meeting their needs may require you to do things that may not be a first instinct for you.

Yes, marriage is all about compromise. The give and take.

All of this is crucial to a successful marriage.

But, I'm here to tell you that if you're expecting your no bullsh*t country boy whose definition of romance is smacking your butt and remembering to put the toilet seat down to turn into Mr. McDreamy whose overtly romantic gestures are straight from the script of a romantic movie the moment you say, "I do", then girl, I'm here to tell you that you have another thing coming!

One of the most important things you could ever do is to learn how to love and accept your partner for who they are no matter where they are at in their life.

4. Communication is key. 

During my first year of college, I was incredibly homesick. I hated being away from my family. My ex-husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, would call me all of the time while I was away, and on particularly bad nights he would sleep with his phone still connected to mine until one of our phones died. We would literally spend HOURS on the phone with each other-talking about anything and nothing. If someone would of told my 21 year old self how important communication was after marriage, I would have rolled my eyes and assured them that we had the whole communication thing down to a science.

But, after we got married, we figured out that talking on the phone all the time and actually living together were two totally different things. Suddenly, I couldn't just hang up the phone when we had an argument or cut our conversation short if I was wanting some "alone time". Our "communication" became constant, and in the midst of it all, we forgot how to talk to each other.

I would get offended when he couln't "read my mind" and instead of talking to him about how his words or actions made me feel, I would get angry and bury it all inside. He would spend weeks completely oblivious that anything was wrong until I exploded and made the fight ten times worse than it had to be.

We would go round and round like this, and unfortunately, it played a huge part in the damage that we never could quite repair.

If you are choosing marriage young, I would urge you and your significant other to make sure that you know how to communicate effectively and how to fight fair. A great marriage counselor can help equip you with the tools you need to communicate effectively before you tie the knot, and I would highly recommend seeking marriage counseling now before it's too late.

Along the lines of communication, I would also encourage you to pick your battles. Life is too short to be constantly at war with each other over petty things. If you learn to accept now that you won't always be right and that yes, there really are two sides to every story, then that will also save you from a ton of fighting and heartache.

5. Always, always, ALWAYS have each others back. 

As I said earlier, I come from pretty good sized family of girls.

Girls who like to talk.

A lot.

During my first marriage, I developed a incredibly harmful pattern of telling my parents and my sisters EVERYTHING that went on inside my marriage.

Every fight. Every misunderstanding. Every disappointment.

It was ridiculous.

The way I was constantly choosing to involve my family made it extremely difficult for my ex-husband and I to present a united front when it was necessary that we do so.

This became a huge source of conflict in my first marriage!

 I also never-not one time in the whole 6 years we were married-felt like my ex-husband had my back, because in addition to me relying on my family instead of him, we would also disagree with each other in front of others. I have learned that this is a huge no-no.

While, we may not have always agreed with each other during a particular situation, we should have waited to openly disagree with each other in private when other people were not around.

I believe presenting a united front is one of the most important things every couple should strive to do not just in your marriage, but also in your parenting.

My ex husband and I may have struggled with maintaining a united front during our marriage, but that is something we have prioritized in our co-parenting. I may not always agree with him, but our daughter would never know that and I think it has made our co-parenting relationship better and stronger.

The same is true in marriage.

When your spouse knows and trusts that you will always have their back, even if you don't agree with them, it will make your marriage stronger because of it.

*****

As I have said before at least ten thousand times, I am NOT an expert! 

But, I think that those of us who have failed at marriage before and learned from our mistakes have some of the best advice.

We have seen first hand what it takes to destroy a marriage and we know that it's not always something that happens over night.

While I know that every marriage is different and I'm sure my next marriage will be nothing like my first, I do know that the advice I shared above is advice that I should of listened to or wished that I would have received long before I said "I do" the first time. 

My heart still breaks for that young, naive 21 year old girl from time to time, but I know with out a shadow of a doubt, that even though the journey was hard, I am better because of it. 

If you are considering getting married in your early 20's, I hope you know that I am not trying to discourage you, BUT encourage you. This commitment is one of the most important commitment you will ever make and the best thing you could ever do is enter your marriage with an open mind and an open heart. Who knows where the years to come will take you, but you will go alot farther if you listen to the warnings and advice of those around you whose own stories could save you from even the silliest mistakes. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dear Brave Heart


My dear brave heart,

Yes, you.

The one reading this blog post over a cup of coffee while Bubble Guppies plays in the background, or while you pretend to work at your desk on this typical Thursday-why-are-you-not Friday morning, or right before you turn off the light on another long, hard day of being someone's mother, wife, sister, daughter, or girlfriend.

Listen up!

I just want to tell you that no matter where you are in your life.

I think you're brave. 

No matter what kind of storm you might be walking through.

I think you're brave.

No matter what hard choices you have to make every single day-whether it's telling your toddler "no" just one more time without yelling or taking that life changing job offer even though it's pushing you out of your comfort zone.

I think you're brave.

No matter what your life calling is-whether it's the full-time job of mothering your littles or to own that conference room every time you set foot in it or to do both.

I think you're brave.

I really do.

I think you're brave when you get up every morning and make breakfast even though you're running on only 2 hours of sleep.

When you do one more load of laundry even though the piles never seem to grow any smaller.

When you haven't worn your "nice" clothes in who knows how long, because they just don't stand up to the spit up, and spilled juice, and sticky fingers like your leggings do.

When your signature hair style is a pony tail that's going on day #4 of dry shampoo.

When you sing, and sway, and rock, and kiss, and cuddle, and fix, and find, and then sing some more.

When you put your children above everything else.

I think you're brave. 

When you work long hours, and send just one more email.

When you take that last phone call, and you live on caffeine and the hidden snacks in your desk-like the Tic-Tacs you've been saving for another late night.

When you choose to lock up even though it's Friday and everyone else left hours ago.

When you do all of this just to earn an ounce of the respect that you deserve in this "man's" world we're all trying to make in.

I think you're brave.

You're brave when you hold your sister's hand through a scary diagnosis, or when you make time for your family in the midst of this crazy thing we call life.

You're brave in those moments when life asks you to decide to put your parent in the nursing home or to bury your child.

You're brave when you take your best friend's phone call at 3:00 a.m. even though you have to be at work at 8:00 a.m.

You're brave when you talk to your daughter about how to deal with the "mean girl" in her grade or you cheer your son on at his soccer game.

You're brave when you work 2 jobs just provide for your children, and you take all the judgemental glances and comments straight on the chin. Never backing down once.

You're brave when you take that chance to give love just one more shot on a date with a boy you only met three days ago.

You're brave when you sing in the car with the windows down and you ignore the dirty looks from all the other people sitting at the stoplight.

You're brave when you take time for just you even when you feel like you shouldn't-whether it's an hour at the nail salon or 15 minutes locked in the bathroom by yourself with tiny fingers reaching under the door.

No matter where you are or what your doing in this very minute.

From one brave girl to another.

I want you to know that I see your bravery and I admire it.

I am encouraged by your perserverance.

Your strength.

Your grace in the midst of adversity.

I see this bravery in the eyes of every single woman that I meet, and I am intrigued by her story.

Because we all have stories.

Every single one of us-whether they are good or bad or ugly.

They are our stories.

The truths that make us who we are.

And at the end of the day, we should never, ever be ashamed of our story.

Instead, we should be using our stories to join our hearts to the women around us-women with stories all their own.

We should be using our stories to empower women.

To take their faces in our hands and say, "Sweet, sister. I see your bravery."

Because it's up to us to encourage each other-in the way that only we as women know how to reach each other.

It's up to us to build each other up and make a stand for the women all around us.

No matter where we are at in our lives.

So, this is my encouragement to you.

This is my acknowledgement of your bravery that fills you with so much power.

What will you do with your power?

Will you use it to encourage the women around you, or will you use it to compete with them and tear them down?

Will you use it to see their individual beauty, or to focus on their scars that may seem uglier than yours?

What will you do, dear brave heart?

Because I don't know about you, but I'm tired of feeling like this is a competition even though it's not.

I'm tired of the back stabbing, the judgemental glances, the hateful gossip, and the lies we tell in an effort to appear like we're the one coming out on top.

I'm tired of the way we give into the world, and the whispers that tell us that we will never be good enough.

Because trust me, dear brave heart, you ARE good enough.

I promise.

No matter who we are or where we are at in this life, we're all in the same boat here.

And we are all just looking for someone to see our bravery.

And remind us that we are not alone.

Monday, April 20, 2015

An Open Letter To My Blog Snitch


Dear Person Who Reads My Blog for the Sole Purpose of Starting Drama,

I have been wanting to write to you for a very long time.

First of all, thank you for being such a "loyal" follower of this blog. The speed with which you spread the news of my latest and greatest posts is astounding! I hope you will use that speed to do me a solid and help this post go viral as well! I would greatly appreciate it, and so would all the other people just like you.

To show my appreciation, I wanted to write and share some very key details about blogging with you that you may or may not be aware of as such a loyal reader. So pull up a chair, lean in close, and get that mass text ready to send out. This is going to be good.

*****

1. Blogging is a deeply personal way of writing. 

In my opinion, blogging is very different from most styles of writing. For the most part most bloggers utilize their blogs to share their stories. We share these stories as a way to connect with other people who might be walking in the same pair of shoes we are. Some bloggers write through a personal struggle with an illness; some bloggers write to connect with other parents: single or married; and some bloggers write because they share a common experience with their readers like military spouses who blog. In our overtly connected world, you can find a blog on anything your little heart desires! There are food blogs, fashion blogs, movie blogs, and blogs solely devouted to couponing. You name it there is probably someone out there blogging about it from their own unique experiences and point of view.

In my case, I blog about divorce and co-parenting: two things that have deeply affected and changed my life in a thousand different ways. I write about these things not out of spite or malic, but because I know from personal experience, there is not alot of information out there regarding these issues. There is such a stigma attached to divorce and coparenting in our society and I want to show people that it doesn't have to be that way. I want to offer encouragement and hope to anyone out there who may be walking through their own divorce/coparenting journey. Are we perfect? No. Do we struggle? Yes. And I think it's important for the people who are going through similar things to know and understand that it's okay and just like me, they too can survive this. One day at a time.

This blog is my way to tell my story. Over and over and over again. It's my way of living out the call that has been placed on my life to help other people-esepcially women-who are struggling with this reality every single day.

And you know what? It's working. I have a folder full of all the emails I have received from women who have been truly touched by what I have to say, and for that reason and that reason alone, I will never stop telling my story.

2. Anonymity isn't alway possible.

I know several bloggers who have these fantastic blogs where they blog about their families and their daily lives using only psuedo names. I know they do it to protect their families and their privacy and I respect that. I try really hard not to use real names in my blog anymore, but in my crusade for honesty and transparency, sometimes that gets overlooked. But, please note that I do try.

3. There are two sides to every story. 

As I mentioned in #1, blogging is my way to tell MY story-my own personal experience and thoughts on a particular event or situation. I write 100% from my point of view and only my point of view, because the last time I checked, I am only one person and my personal point of view is what I know the most about.

Do I sometimes misinterpret actions and conversations? Abso-freaking-lutely!

I am woman. Hear me roar. 

Do I often have to apologize for those misinterpretations? More than you know.

Most of the people who read my blog, do not know me personally, and the people who do happen to know me personally, but who are not close to me, also know where to find the other side of the story if they really want to hear it.

As for those who are closest to me, they know and they can testify to the fact that I have always been beyond fair with my situation and the experiences that I write about in this blog. Period

I'm pretty sure you won't find any tire tracks on anyone's back anytime soon.

As I have pointed out numerous times in numerous posts, I am not perfect. My divorce and my coparenting situation is a constant work in progress, and that's why I share and talk about our mistakes-my mistakes-because that's what the people I am writing for need to hear. They need to know that they aren't alone. That there really is this crazy girl out there who understands what they are going through and who is trying to find her way through her own mess just like them.

But, I'm sure you already knew all of this as such a loyal follower of my blog.

I digress. 

4. Most posts are longer than one or two paragraphs. 

I find it hard to believe that you don't already know this since you are such an avid follower of ALL my posts, but were you aware that I'm a little long-winded as a writer?

Because I really am.

When I get started on something, I tend to just go on and on and on!

So, sometimes to get the whole point of the whole story, you have to read the WHOLE ENTIRE blog post to put everything into context, because if you don't, sometimes things get a little confusing.

I know! Crazy, right?

Just a little tip for you.

5. Freedom of speech is a real thing. 

Here's a little fun fact for you: did you know that there is a whole part of the constitution that protects one's right to freedom of speech? Yep. It's really in there! Good old, Thomas Jefferson penned it almost 240 years ago. 

Isn't that crazy?!?!

 Weird, right?

*****

I want you to know that there are not words to truly express my gratitude to you! You have people stopping by to read my blog who never had an interest in my posts until you started pointing them my way! You have really aided in the increase of my blog traffic with the few, select people you are sure to make aware when I've posted something new.

I may have to put out a few fires every now and then, but it's no big deal! Because like you, people aren't often aware of tip #4. I don't mind to take one for the team every now and then, because of all the "good" you are doing and the people you are "helping". 

Why aren't there more people like you in the world? Seriously.

You know? It's too bad that more blogs don't have loyal followers who are just like you. They're really missing out. 

Sincerely,

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

An Open Letter To My Daughter On The Last Day of Being 5


My Dear Emma,

Today we went to the swing set at the park near our apartment.

It's probably you're most favorite thing in the whole world.

As I pushed you, I was amazed at how a year ago you used to be so afraid of the "big swings". I would try and try to coax you onto them, but the baby swings were always more up your alley, and you have always blossomed in the "safe".

Until you turned 5.

This past year, I have watched you evolve from the sweet, timid baby you once were to the independent little girl you have become. You have traded in your Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for Frozen, your blankies for American Girl dolls and their endless clothing choices, and the days of allowing me to dress you like a child straight out of Baby Gap have been replaced by your own keen fashion sense that reminds me daily that skirts, your Super Girl costume, or tiaras are acceptable attire for every occasion.

Your vocabulary has grown so much in the last year, and I find myself being able to have real conversations with you that are full of your incredible sense of humor. I can't even begin to count the number of times you have made me laugh out loud! You are silly and playful just like your Dad, and I love watching that side of you mold your personality. I hope you keep that part of you always and that because of it you will always remember to never take life too seriously unlike your Mom.

Your heart has seemed to grow bigger over the last year. Your compassion and sensitivity to others never fails to amaze me. You are always quick to tell me when someone at school got hurt or to save you Subway bags and McDonald's toys for Grandma's shoe boxes that she send to kids in other countries who don't have anything. You are gentle with everyone around you, and you try to always be the peacemaker. Your heart has been able to weather all the changes you have been subjected too over the last three years, and you have walked away from all of it with your pure and forgiving spirit still intact. This year, your heart also made room for your new stepmother in the most beautiful way. I have loved watching you come to love her as she becomes your soft place to land when you are at your Daddy's. It has been the answer to one of my most fervent prayers, and I have learned so much from you and your gentle acceptance of her place in your life. May I always follow your lead when it comes to understanding how to love people.

Your horizon has widened over the past year. I have watched you try out your wings as you tackle the adventures of kindergarten, sleepovers, making new friends, and finally being tall enough to ride most of the rides. It saddens me to know that as the years go by your wings will take you farther and farther from me towards the woman that God is molding you to be and the future I know that He has for you, but something tells me that no matter where He takes you that you will always find a way to return home to place where you began.

I can hear the adventure of 6 calling your name, and I am thrilled for everyday that God allows me to be apart of it. I hope that you continue to explore and grow, but that you know that no matter where this life takes you, I will always be here loving you, cheering for you, and ready to be your haven from every storm or bad day.

I want you to know that being your mother is and always will be my greatest accomplishment and my most outstanding achievement.

You are my "well done, good and faithful servant". The biggest jewel in my crown.

And for that I am grateful.

So incredibly grateful.

Happy early birthday, sweet girl.

Today is the last day you will ever be 5, and so far, I think 5 has been my absolute favorite.

But in my heart, I am ready for 6, and I know you are too.

So, here's my hand. We will go there together.

Love always, Mommy
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