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Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

Mama's Nest

The Fifth Grade Monday, June 26, 2006 |

My best friend Katie got boobs in the fifth grade. I'm pretty sure she was aloud to shave her legs then too. It took much longer for me. I think this is when we first started to notice we were different. And even though I am exactly 16 days older than her, I always looked up to her as if she were much older than I. I'm sure our families had something to do with... I am the product of divorce, my parents split when I was 8 -my older brother and I were separated. Her parents hugged and kissed in front of us and she had the coolest older sister and a super cute little brother. They did things together and occasionally would even gather around the piano and sing Elton John or Beatles songs.

We'd been in the same class since third grade... we were in the "gifted and talented" program at school so our classmates stayed the same from then on. It was held at the school I'd always went to, right at the end of our dead end street. She rode a bus to school from the neighboring city. We were inseperable in school and out. And while we each had our own separate friends, we were always with each other. We'd set up a video camera and record the "Katie and Ashlee Show" with my little sisters as guests- I have to admit we were pretty funny. We dreamed of moving to Soho after high school, living in an apartment similar to the one in "If Lucy Fell", the usual girly things. When I got in trouble and was put on restriction my parents didn't limit the TV, I simply wasn't aloud to socialize with Katie outside of school.

When we started middle school, we saw less and less of each other. We didn't have any classes or lunch together and each started spending more time with people from our own towns. But on the weekends and breaks we'd still get together... my mom was getting ready to re-marry and they were building a new house in a town about 45 minutes away. She'd come with us to the "property" as we used to call it, unable to say that it would someday become where I lived. We'd sit and talk in the field, daydream, make plans about building a club house in the cove of trees all the while secretly knowing we probably wouldn't spend any time there together.

As the time for me to move got closer our parents seemed to start to limit the time we spent together. She was there when I needed her though- my mom was selling our house and had a showing while Katie was over. We were told to stay in my room. That they'd come see it, but to stay in there. We did everything we could to sabotage the sale- plugged the toliet, made the faucet drip, and not so quietly whispered about how happy I was to move since "such and such didn't work in this old house".

Despite our best efforts the house sold, I moved, and when you're 12 years old long distance phone calls don't make the best of friends. We'd still see each other on weekends when I'd go to visit my dad. But my home situation was undesirable to say the least and I began to change, started smoking cigarettes and hanging out with older kids, ran away from home and was always getting myself in some sort of trouble. Her family welcomed me just the same, but I think we both knew that things we once shared were becoming few and far between.

Soon we didn't talk for months then years. We both grew-up, graduated, went to college. I got married. Then I found out my brother-in-law who was 13 at the time was friends with her little brother. We started to email each other - it was like no time had passed, but we lived on opposite sides of the country and had our own lives. Eventually David and I moved back home to start a family and Katie finished school and moved back home too. I had dreams of reconnecting but we never stuck with getting together to catch up.

Then she surprised me and showed up to my baby shower with her mom. It was SO great to see her. In all of the crazyness of the day I didn't have much time to talk, but I loved the fact that she was there.

All this to say that while it's sad that we often grow apart from those we love, people we have so much history with- It's a part of life. One of my favorite parts of being a parent is the ability to revisit my own childhood. Things I thought once forgotten come flooding back at the strangest of times. And I am facing the fact that some day Xavier will be in the fifth grade, he will have a friend that gets boobs or moves away. He will realize he is different. He will get his heart broken, experience love, loss and the like and while we can give him the right tools we will have to sit back and let him go through it. That's scary!

• 4 Chirping

NICU Reunion Saturday, June 24, 2006 |

We had Xavier's NICU reunion picnic today at Valplayso. I was so excited to go- to meet other parents, hopefully see some we shared our days in the hospital with and revisit a few nurses. It was nice, not as packed as I'd expected- and we didn't see any familiar faces, but we enjoyed ourselves. It was neat to see all the other little one's who'd been where we were, all doing so well. Xavier's primary nurse wasn't able to make it because she had to work, so after the picnic we headed to the hospital to visit her instead. It was wonderful. While Xav had a huge team of people looking after him- she made all the difference, in his life and ours.

Parenting a preemie is a strange experience. Your child is born into an artificial world where life and death are constantly at odds. And you are seemingly plopped right into the middle of this foreign experience. Trying to balance parenting with medical care; connecting while at times not even able to touch your new love. It is a blurry, heart-wrenching, tearful place. Where you find yourself longing for "normal" and normal seems so long ago. And while we have been amazingly blessed to have made it through with the graces we have. There are moments where it all comes flooding back. While I am content and elated that my baby boy is healthy and thriving, I have learned that it's ok to embrace a good cry now and then for where he's been and what he's endured.

I thought in becoming a parent it would be me doing the teaching, but in his 6 short months Xavier has taught me more about strength, will, purpose and favor than I could ever put into words. And the strangest thing is that while I wouldn't wish this experience on a soul, I also wouldn't change a thing. In all it's melancholy is perfection. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" Jeremiah 1:5

• 3 Chirping

"Mama!!!!" Thursday, June 22, 2006 |

Tonight I have officially been branded Xavier's mama. We spent our afternoon running errands and by time we got home and finished dinner our little man was a bit over tired. In the middle of a laugh-fest, meltdown ensued and as we were headed up the stairs to catch some zzz's plain as day, mid cry was "Maaamaaa!". (David heard it to, so I know I'm not projecting) Was it intentional? Couldn't tell ya. Will he say it again? Don't care. He called me mama and that moment is forever mine!

• 3 Chirping

Summertime... Wednesday, June 21, 2006 |

"I'd give all wealth that years have piled, The slow result of Life's decay, To be once more a little child For one bright summer-day." - Lewis Carroll

• 1 Chirping

Such a Perfect Day Tuesday, June 20, 2006 |

Great days are easier to come by than ever these past few months. But there is still the rare day that exceeds expectations, when we are all blissfully happy and content. Nothing extraordinary occured, no brilliant plan was executed, we simply had a great day. Playful morning, an afternoon of great conversation, and a snuggly evening with my boy- I couldn't ask for more.

And now Xavier's fast asleep, my hubby is out for the night, and Oliver has been banished doggie jail for suckling the baby's toy... there is a part of me pulling to attend to my overflowing laundry basket, sink full of dishes and inbox full of mail... but I'm starting to learn that I'll never look back when I'm older and think "I wish I had kept a cleaner house, or work just a little bit more". I can, however, see wishing I'd spent more time in the moment, with my family, and taken better care of myself.

So tonight I'm giving myself permission to take the night off- maybe I'll sneak in some yoga or a bath (sans baby) or read a book without pictures or maybe I'll just curl up and go sleep... Whatever it is, I'm off to do it! Goodnight!

• 4 Chirping

First Father's Day Sunday, June 18, 2006 |

My other half enjoyed all the spoils a first Father's Day brings ... I enjoyed doing the spoiling! Well deserved for THE most wonderful husband and father.

• 0 Chirping

Friday, June 16, 2006 |

• 0 Chirping

Baptism planning... |

****caution a beathless rant to follow****

Or lack there-of! Xavier's baptism is coming up in 2 weeks and I've managed to get the invites out and everything scheduled at the church, but well, that's about it. We decided against a cutsie "Christening" outfit- he's 6 months old a bit too big- so we ordered some stylish linen pants from the gap and an awesome "ivory" button up from lil bogies, but the shirt arrived and it's yellow- so back to the drawing board we go...

And then there's the menu- we decided to do a lunch since everyone will be coming from church and I wanted it to be vegetarian, but all the "safe" things I could come up with required way too much planning and preparation. I've resigned myself to the fact that burgers and hot dogs are probably the easiest way to go, but even that's giving me a headache! A few people have offered to help out or bring something, but I'm not even organized enough to delagate! And the picnic portion is at a local park which always leaves the weather worry...

I'm dreaming of a flawless feast, family, friends, sunshine, laughter, bocce ball?!

The rational side of me knows that this is the last thing my sons baptism needs to be about... but there was a time in my life where I loved to plan and prepare and see all the details fall into place- the problem lies in the fact that I still love it, but lacking the free time and sleep of before it's a bit harder to bring it all together.

This is such a huge day for him, for our little family that I want it to be spectacular...
and I'm sure it will be...

• 0 Chirping

Multitasking Gone Too Far Thursday, June 15, 2006 |

This morning I ate breakfast in the shower. Granola in one hand, shampoo in the other...

• 0 Chirping

Date Night! Tuesday, June 13, 2006 |

Oh it has been a long time! So, David and I love movies- we used to go once a week- at least- but that's been the last thing we've had time to do the past few months. We went to see Chronicles of Narnia at the end of November and that was it, not even an entire DVD since for me. We'd tossed around the idea of going to the movies, but always talked ourselves out of sitting in a crowded movie theater with Xavier for 2+ hours. The solution... DRIVE-IN!!! Sunday we headed out the drive-in to see XMEN and The Davinci Code. We got there early, bundled up, sat outside and drank hot cocoa. Then headed into our comfy car to watch the first movie. Xavier was great, slept snuggled up on my chest. David and I held hands and ate rubish. It was a dream! Ok I'll admit I fell asleep about 5 minutes into the second movie but it doesn't matter. We had our first "date" in months- here's to many more!

• 1 Chirping