How to Plan a Disney Vacation

Booking a Disney trip was so exciting for our family!! With every move I made I got that much more excited about going. Before I planned the Disney trip I read so much info. Anything and everything on the Disney tips + FAQs + Everything you need to know on Disney.com. I read several Disney blogs and mom blogs on what worked best for them. I was ready!! I complied my list of things I needed and was ready to start planning. I got everything I needed that would make my trip easier like the apps and notifications from Disney said to do and for more what you need to have for Disney read about it here.

I wanted to be well prepared and make sure I didn’t forget anything. But once I started scheduling and planning there wasn’t much out there to help with that. There wasn’t best rides for AM, or things to do before noon. Of course it’s not that easy bc there’s so much to do to keep you busy throughout the day. So ultimately it’s your choice.

However there were things that helped make our trip a breeze and quite simple. So I wanted to share them with you all to help when you plan a Disney trip. Hopefully it can make your scheduling hurdles a little easier. The five things below will help you when you book your trip, schedule your fast passes and help create you’re plan of action, and make your flying travels a little easier.

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1. Do everything through the app.My Disney Experience has everything you need + more. Yes you can go to Disneyworld.disney.go.com and make an account, register, and buy tickets there. Be set to go. But with the app you can do everything!! Book hotel, book reservations, link your hotel so you can see bus schedules, food menus, and even unlock and lock your hotel door. You know for those times you head out for ice and you forget to wear your magic band. All the parks schedules, character showings, times for shows, and maps are available through app. It even has map access to follow step by step to get you to attractions or restaurants you want to find. My favorite is it stores all your photos you take during your trip as well!! Plus you can link your flight times on there so you can get picked up with the Disney Magic Express! {Which I discuss later}

Hear it from me, it’s kind of a pain to do everything on Disneyworld.Disney.go and then have to link everything afterwards on the app. So just do it all there and make it easy for yourself so you don’t have to try and keep up with all the confirmation codes. {Trust me.}These are the times when you need to take advantage of technology. I promise the app came in handy sooo much for us. Plus once you get to the hotel they ask you to book a few reservations for food and spa times through the app anyways so you have to have it.

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2. Book your hotel early and it should be the first thing you book before everything else!!! I booked our Disney tickets first because i wanted to make sure I got those out of the way, then signed up on the app, and then was ready to make reservations and realized I couldnt. I made the mistake of doing it out of order. You may be asking does it matter and yes it does!!!! When you book your hotel first it allows you to make reservations and access to schedule fast passes and food reservations as early as 60 days before your trip! Which I promise you, is very important, taking us to the next point.

3. Get fast passes— these are crucial for maintaining sanity throughout Disney. I seriously cant stress this enough. They make it seem like it’s no big deal everywhere when you read about them, but guys, it’s a fast pass to the rides!! Let me say it again, it’s a fast pass. Meaning you quickly pass all the other people and the line to go ahead and get on the ride of your choice without a wait! You can schedule up to three a day but once you use the three you can schedule two more to use during that day. These made our Disney day a breeze. I can’t imagine waiting in the lines for over an hour for a 2-5 minute ride. The longest time we had to wait for a ride was 12 minutes. That was because there was a hiccup in the ride and they had to fix it putting wait times on both lines.below I discuss two reasons why fast passes are awesome and how to best utilize them:

-Spread out your fast passes – I mean this point in two different ways. Let’s dig in. When using your fast passes to select your adventures don’t cram them back to back. I did at first thinking; well we will use these up and then have access to book more and we can keep having a magical day. On Disney it says after you use the three you can keep booking for more. It sounds great! We were hooked. Then I started looking the following week after I scheduled ours and so many of the fast pass options were gone for several rides, character meetings, and light shows. I was bummed because I thought well we are going to miss out on so many adventures. Especially like the ones on Pandora and animal kingdom. Then something magical happened the next day. There was availability on two of the rides I wanted so I went ahead and canceled previous reservations and made those and decided well everyday I want to use a fast pass in am, then afternoon, and one at night. So I rescheduled everything. I wanted to make sure I utilized the fast pass access throughout the day since the access to reserve was dwindling away. Like I said I didnt book my hotel first so I had to wait until the 30 days before to start reserving with fast pass and a lot was not available. Food reservations had tight windows left, and on the busier parks like Magical Kingsom there was no ability to book fast pass for anything after the 25 day mark. Not to forget to mention we booked our trip during the busiest week at Disney out of the whole year. So we were fighting for access with a lot of people.

-Now my second grand idea that worked out beyond great!! If you have multiple members of your family like we do. Then use it to your advantage. Schedule a ride with the whole family in am. Because you do want to use up your three to get the access to book more. Keep in mind though every other fast pass holder is trying to do the same and a lot of things won’t be available past 12 but most of magical kingdom didn’t have anything available two weeks out so this is why I’m saying do it this way. After you scheduled a ride that is suitable for everyone then use momma and son for one fast pass access and if the ride allows other kids to ride then say “we will swap” or if y’all all can go then say “we are trying to add the other family members on all but it’s not letting us.” If your bands aren’t working but two family members are, they always let you in!!! Everytime! It was awesome!! So I was so happy that I took a chance and scheduled it that way because I was able to reserve up to 6 things prior that way. I booked greetings without waiting, rides for all of us, and while the girls went and napped I had rides reserved just for our big guy. Then when we all gathered back, he shows for us all to enjoy together without any waits. Guys I’m telling you it worked! Then, come to find out, you only get the chance to use fast passes two more times after you use your three so it’s not unlimited like I thought. So I was so glad I did it this way vs the original plan bc we would have had some uncomfortable wait times that no one was ready to have.

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4. Buy the early bird tickets to Toy Story Land. Just do it. We had access to the Hollywood Studios an hour and half early!!!! We got there with an hour to spend but it was still worth it. When you buy the early bird tickets it comes with a complimentary breakfast that is only given to the early birders and it was probably one of the best breakfasts that we had the entire time. You have a choice between several hot meals choices and there is a smorgish board of fruits, pastries, and cereal options. They allow you to eat there all the way until 10 AM. If you really want to you can get there right at 7:30, eat, ride, then eat again. That was our original plan but like I said we didn’t get there until 8. After we ate, we had 30 mins to enjoy Toy Story Land, and it was worth every penny. Not only was it the park we all were really looking forward to because we have watched it on TV every commercial break, but it is an oversized Toy Story Land! Are you kidding me who wouldn’t love it! In all seriousness it was the only park we saw that had workers waiting with a 65 minute wait sign before the park even opened up. They knew that park would have the most visitors, and they were right, within 10 mins of opening the park the Slinky Dog Ride had a 75 minute wait. After we utilized the 30 mins of no waits, we were able to wait a short 10 mins for character experiences and boom we were done with that park just as soon as they opened. It still is one of our favorite experiences because while the bigs rode the Slinky Dog, we rode the Alien Ride. My youngest was able to ride it twice without waits and she had a blast on it. We rode all these and still had our reserved fast passes to use. It was an amazing day!

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5. Take advantage of the Disney Magic Express + all its perks. The express not only takes you to and from the airport which makes everything so much easier, but it also will take your checked luggage for you! I saw so many people trying to haul their kids, plus their suitcases through the airport, through the express line, and through the hotel and check in. Now if you want to be champs and keep it all with you go right ahead. But our children wonder around and want to see all the cool and magical things before their eyes if they aren’t in the stroller. With three kids theee suitcases, stroller, like 5 carry on bags it just wouldn’t have been easy for us. Plus all that in one small line, no thanks. It was such a breeze going through the line without all the luggage and check in was ice bc we didn’t have to manage all the extra items. Once we got to our hotel we went to eat, look at all the animals and when we got back tinkerbell made the delivery. It was only a 1.5 wait to get out things once we got there so it wasn’t that bad.

I hope these five tips help you in planning your magical trip. There is so much to think about, and things that no one tells you about, so I do hope these help a little. and know the hassle of traveling takes a toll on anyone especially a family with littles. So anything that makes your trip easier and more efficient I want to try and help. That way all you have to worry about, is the magic that awaits for you. If this helped you in your magical adventures then please comment below, thanks for your stopping by and have a magical day.

Mickey Mouse Magic

Making Fig Preserve

Being from the south I can’t believe this is the first time I have ever made my own preserves, but I have to admit I feel so clean, healthy, amazing, and excited for making this I just had to share with y’all. It’s so easy and takes about five minutes of work from you.

Before I go into details of how to make some awesome Fig Jam, I wanted to share the fun we all had!!!

The kids enjoyed being with their new friend and riding around on the gator! Farm life is the life!! I can’t wait until we get our own land! This is such an amazing experience, I never had this opportunity as a kid so I just feel beyond blessed to experience this with my children. It was the first time as a family we were able use our pickings that we got off the “farm” into something else to eat. We have picked peaches off our neighbors tree before and have ate them but never created something out of our pickings. Well we picked pomegranates and figs at our friends family “vineyard” and learned all about how to pull figs and pomegranates off the vines.

The girls were running back and forth looking through the fig trees to find the best ones to eat! The taste of the fig when they come off are seriously the sweetest!! Soooooo sweet!! Honestly everything straight off the tree taste amazing but I have never even seen a fig straight off the tree before so I felt like a kid trick or treating putting my treats in my basket. Do you know what a fig looks like? Because I didn’t until this week!

Enjoying the organic breakfast has been the most amazing experience of it all because we can’t wait to eat what we worked so hard gathering and creating. This experience just tugged at my heart because I hope my littles remember this experience with us. The picking, the outdoor adventure side of it. Then the coming home and cleaning of the fruit, and pulling the seeds out of the pomegranates was so fun!! The texture of the seeds not only gives he kiddos a great tactile experience but the joys of sneaking a few seeds feels like you’re licking a spoon clean after making the cake mixing. The smiles, laughter, and happiness I will remember forever.

Health Benefits of Figs

Sugar, fiber, and rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. On top of all those minerals they have antioxidants Vitamin A, E, and K. All of these contribute to overall health and wellness and is a great substitute if your children are missing out on these vitamins and minerals from not eating certain foods.

Figs also have prebiotics which nourish and tone the intestines by supporting the good bacteria in your gut which improves digestion. Again they are high in fiber so they are a great snack that gives you that fullness feeling and reduces hunger and cravings.

Ingredients:

1lb of figs

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1.5 water

5 thinly sliced lemons

How to make it:

1. Rinse figs, pull stems off and then put figs in a bowl of cool water.

2. Put water and sugar in a pot and boil. Wait ten minutes.

3. Cut figs in half while waiting.

3.At about the ten minute mark the water becomes clear and thicker. This is when you add the rinsed off and cut up figs + lemon slices.

4. Bring to a high boil.

5. Hard boil for one minute

6. Simmer for 30 minutes.

7. Remove from heat

8. Blend and put in mason jars.

These ingredients created two small jars so we didn’t have to hard boil the jars and lids because we weren’t preserving them for an extended period of time. However if you’re tripling the amount due to the amount of figs you have then after you put them in jar make sure you boil jars and hope you enjoy it later!!! 🍁🍐🍁

Kids Mental Growth | Kiwi Co

We are a fan of anything to do with STEAM. We’ve loved it since it was STEM! Heck, I’ve loved science very early on. I remember asking for a microscope for my 8th birthday and I got it!! My brothers made so much fun of me because they didn’t understand why I would ask our parents to buy me that kind of stuff. They called it a waste. I on the other hand, was in love. I grew up saying I was going to be a Crime Scene Investigator. My first two years of college was a blend of basics and criminoloy. I loved it!

The only thing that changed my perspective on it, was time. I literally gave up because of time. I was too impatient, I started questioning if that is what I really wanted to do, because well I would be going to school for another 8 +years. Nevermind the fact that I paid for my own college so that was another little factor in the equation.

So of course, I jump at any idea that allows me to be able to add the coolness, funness, and amazingness of science into our homes. The fact that my husband is an Engineer with a minor in astronomy, may be a slight bonus. He loves it as much as I do, which only adds obsession to our addiction. It allows us to be passionate about encouraging and influencing our kids. We are a family who watches How It’s Made, Outrageous Acts of Science, Planet Earth, and The Weirdest Animals just caught my attention because of the amazing mutations and survival tactics that some creatures have that I had no idea about has B L O W N our minds. The kids get excited about the things we learn from the show just as much as I do. The Science Channel and History Channels are seriously our jam. We never feel guilty giving kids screen time when they are watching those channels.

Besides the fact that science is a clear visual aid of cause and effect reaction that helps our children minds grow.  I think it was said best by Sagan; “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”It’s a great tool to use as a way to explain so many things in life- from the obvious things such as health, physics, logic, all the way to making choices,  faith, Jesus’s love, etc. There’s a never ending supply of projects and activities, to choose from that adds value to our children’s mental growth.

For my children I’ve always used ABCJesusLovesMe, as my curriculum for the kids. It has been a great supply of blended Science Activities to do for fun and to be as an aid to explain God’s Promise, Jesus’s Love, and the Holy Spirits power. I’ve been so grateful to come across that website 4 years ago. However, as I have become the teacher for three kids, who print out my own curriculum and activities, I have felt at times a little overwhelmed. I’ve searched for other activities and have come across many blogs and resources I have mentioned before, but I think the new Kiwi Co has caught our attention because of the STEAM aspect. It has a ton of engineering projects that we haven’t really done with the kids before. I mean yes, we’ve done engineering activities with them, like the Easter egg catapult but it was made of spoons and rubber bands. We’ve made a ton of cool things out of paper towel rolls, old crayons, styrofoam, and really anything we can use. You definitely get creative when three kiddos brains are on the line. But the quality of what we get in the boxes beats a paper towel roll any day. That’s why when I signed up for the monthly program I was beyond excited. It convenient and adds to our curriculum.

What Comes in a KiWi BOX

                                

Each box has at least three activities worth of supplies, a book that they can read and learn from, and another book with other ideas, inspiration, and instructions for other cool projects. One box literally will keep us busy all month. Not to mention staying connected with KIWI through social media and newsletters gives us access to DIY projects that you get sent along with the box to add further knowledge on what ever that month is teaching the kids.

Having a six year old boy who is starting his first year in school takes that much more precedence because it’s important to us to keep his brain growing, it’s a priority to us just as much as his spiritual growth. He is all boy and loves science as much as we do. This year for his birthday he picked a Dino Theme Party and last year he chose an Astronaut Themed Birthday Party. We enjoy setting up really cool, and challenging activities and games at his birthday parties and usually during his birthday month I create activities around those themes. His imagination play is one of my favorites because he chooses to dress up as an astronaut 75% of the time and loves to go all out with it. We’ve flown to the moon, discovered rocks, and have ran experiments. Of course it’s all ateam affair so it’s always fun to fly to the moon with these amazing astronauts.

 

It’s so much fun raising a boy because we have a mandatory reason to always dabble, experiment, and get dirty! I mean how can you not love making volcanoes, slime, rockets, and things that make you go oooo and ahhhhhh. I want him to always stay intrigued by STEAM that it forces his little brain to innovate, explore, create, and problem solve. That’s just what KIWI co does. After all they say, science today, is technology of tomorrow. I can only imagine what kind of cool things my kids will be making in 9-10 years when they are in high school.

For now, I will settle with these innovative and fun projects that we receive each month. Each kid gets their own box so they feel special doing something of their own, at their own level. Normally we are all doing the same thing with it being modified to his or her own level. But now this adds even more excitement to these boxes because they all have their own “special” box.

This is our first month with it and we are already hooked. All the smiles, jumps, and “mom, look!!!!!”s that I have received has been beyond worth it. It’s always so much fun seeing our kids grow and learn but to see their faces light up is a great way to give yourself a thumbs up mom. The best part, is it’s one more thing we can do together. Although each kid has their own box, we focus on one at a time and allow each kid to help in some way with their other siblings box. Just so the greed, and “mines!” don’t come in full swing.

Just to show you how cool it is below I have split the three kids ‘crates’ separately so you can see what we received. I will include y’all in our Kiwi Co journey and hope you join in on the fun. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me or comment below.

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If you are interested in signing up click here and use MY CODE hereand receive $10 for your first purchase. That’s getting your first month 50% off!!!!!!

Kiwi Crate – Arcade

Koala Crate – Rainbows

Tadpole Crate – Hide and Seek Animals

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How To Fix Your Marriage

Two Steps to Fix Your Marriage

Marriage faces so many different bumps along the way. Some poeple’s are mounds, or hills, while others have to climb through valleys, and overcome mountains. Here’s two easy ways that show you by maintaining self awareness it can help save your marriage.

The faculty of a person that enables them to be self aware of themselves, and others is known as, the mind. You have to be completely conscious at all times and present with yourself to constantly be looking inward. To fully understand what is going on with you. In Re|Engage we focus on ourselves, we draw circles around ourselves and focus on ways to work on our struggles, emotions, and problem areas so we can better serve our spouse. Believe me, it’s not so easy at first, every week I have to remind myself to do just that. I literally have to draw that circle around myself to remind myself what I need to be doing. That alone has helped so much with stopping  little bickering before it has even started. The one thing that we are constantly reminding ourselves with is that “I’m my own marital problem.” It may sound silly, especially if your spouse is lying and cheating. but it’s a helpful reminder to focus on your actions and to see if you’re coming from a place of love. if you’re ready to fix your marriage then take two  steps, just two, that will help you allow your marriage to move freely, and openly. Are you ready to start?

Focusing on yourself by following two easy steps:

1. Be Honest. I think we all have problems being honest with ourselves. Sometimes it can be scary to look inward and see just who you’ve become. Especially if who we are is someone stuck on the bathroom floor, feeding our own addictions. In hard and dark times, it’s very hard to look inward and to hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. I know from experience it just seems so much easier to find a reason to blame it on other people. To hang on to the anger, pride, walk around with hatred, and even hold on to guilt or even fear. The best thing is that Fear is a Liar! Don’t let it destroy you! Overcome the fear and rise above it because life is waiting for you. They always say, you’re the only one holding yourself back. If you are a timid person or the opposite spectrum carrying around anger because of fear listen to Fear is a Liar, by .

We have nothing to be afraid of: God is there for you. There’s is freedom found when we lay our lies down at the cross. We can be who we are meant to be once we let go of all that baggage. Don’t waste your life holding on to all that that shame and darkness when your already been freed. Your freedom is just waiting for YOU!!

2. Self Awareness. Be honest with yourself as well. Combat the fear of being honest, don’t blame the people around. Being aware allows you to be authentic with people, allows real relationships to happen and allow God to move in the real vulnerability of the raw friendships that you have. How can u be real if you don’t know your self? Honestly, repeat that question, how can you be real if you don’t even know your self? Besides being self aware allows you to be your own driver of your own life, not a victim of your past.

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams

How to Have a Successful Marriage When Times Get Tough

Steps for Wives and Husbands:

My husband and I go to weekly marriage to get tools we need to fight for our marriage. Atfirst, I thought it was going to be something good for us because of our recent struggles, but honestly it doesn’t matter what phase of marriage you are at, every married couple should go through something to get you closer together. If you so happen to have a Christ -Centered program available, GO! If you are struggling like we were, close to divorce, dealing with addictions, GO!

I’ve mentioned before at Re|Engage we discuss how to focus on ourselves vs. our spouse. We have to face the notion that we are all broken. Now if you understand that you yourself are broken, and so is your spouse and you want to love them anyway, be there for them despite their problems, then take these 2 Easy Steps to Help you Become a Great Spouse. Despite the fact that you are still filled with hurt, and pain, you can move forward. Now if you don’t want to, just remember they love you despite all your struggles, moods and unpleasant sides. They love you and are not you’re enemy. Someone far greater is the enemy. If you decide you are still willing to support your spouse then here are acronyms for each one of you to help the other spouse through their battles, struggles, and addictions. Now if the roles need to be changed depending on  who is currently struggling then do so, but these two acronyms are ways to just show you how to be there for one another.

Men – You are the leaders of your own home, so use LEAD to guide you to lead over your marriage.

L– Let go and let God – Build a team for accountability. Men tend to keep everything bottled up. We all know this, they’re told to be tough, they need to be strong. But in hard times no matter what we need the help of others. Especially if you are the one struggling with addiction, cheating, or lying. Men, need to learn they can’t control everything, can’t fix everything, and can’t do it alone. Reach for God, let him take control. Place it at his feet even if it is just to take the weight off your shoulders.

E– Engage your helpers. Enlist them to be there, call upon them. Only you know when you need help, so don’t be afraid to ask.

A– Accept counsel even when they suggest to do the hard things. When you hear what you don’t want to be told, the last thing you want to do is listen, but just try and remember they are removed from the situation so they are coming from a perspective of love, and truth. Take the words they say, and atleast try it out and see what happens. In the end, it could be the best advice you ever received, and you won’t know unless you try. Doesn’t your marriage deserve the effort?

D– Don’t settle! Ever!! God has something better for your marriage and more for your life. When u better yourself, spears around you reap those benefits WOW!! Amazing! Can you imagine, by fixing myself and constantly drawing that circle around myself, focusing on what I need to change, changes my relationships with my wife, my children, and my friends. My whole life! That can be you! Reach for progression not perfection- perfection is unattainable- again strive for progression and that will take yourself + marriage out of the rut.

Women – Extend grace, hurt is natural, the feelings will always need time to heal, like everything else, but to extend grace to your husband will fill them with love and comfort, and show them you are their partner not their enemy. They will want to come to you even when they know they bear bad news. It’s okay to have those feelings and emotions I’m not here to tell you not to feel. But now you have the chance to respond to those previous actions and emotions in a loving way and in a helpful way. Therefore, use HELP to allow you to be that helpful companion vs an argumentative and cold partner. When your husband needs you especially when he’s at his weakest because he’s struggling with something, this can help you help him.

H- Hang onto God. Woman we must accept that perfection is unattainable so we need to strive for progression not perfection. We also need to keep in mind that progress doesn’t mean that conflict doesn’t exist. It’s the time of the fight and argument that changes when you have the tools to work through them. Things get better and fights become fair. So trust in God, hang onto him, and let him lead you in your marriage.

E– Enlist others. The same for Men applies to woman.

L– love with grace + Truth. In everything you do love with grace and truth. It also important to set yourself up with friends and the community who are like this too. Yes the friends who you can call upon immediately to vent to, the runs that always talk you down and are on your side is great. But they speak with emotions first. So when your telling them all your problems of course they’re going to take your side. In the hard times you need someone who is willing to tell you the truth that you need to hear. The truth that will align you back to where u want to be. You need to have friends that align with your beliefs it’s crucial!

P– Promote Christ in Him calling out goodness!! Tell him he’s worthy, praise him for his actions. Build him up. It sucks to say, but your husbands are like children, if you’re not there to build them up, then they will seek it other places. I hope these two acronyms will help you if you’re currently trying to overcome battles in your own marriage. Marriage is hard, living with someone else’s mood swings, life stages, and their challenges is a lot of work. But I believe that God sends you your spouse for a reason. You’re meant for one another. He wants your marriage to be full of great things. If you’re not struggling with major issues and you just need help getting through your marriage day to day these will help you too. These will help you to focus on what matters through all the crazy chaos in life- that’s your spouse. They are not the enemy. They are mostly good, so give your marriage the effort it deserves. Put in the work. I hope this motivates you to atleast try to take steps to build up your marriage. I also hope you learn a lot about yourself so you won’t put the whole burden of making your marriage work on your spouse. If you need prayers or help with any of this or want more info on Re|Engage feel free to reach me.

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams

Re|Engage

Reconnect with your Spouse

Going to Re|Engage has been an amazing experience for Josh and I. We are half way through the program and I already see the difference in our lives. We look towards one another versus looking for outward help. We seek God together, pray more, and it has even changed the way we argue. No, it won’t stop all arguments, we are human after all, but it has helped get us to the resolution faster, and with an end that is actually progressive.

In Re|Engage we discuss how to focus on ourselves vs. our spouse. We of course want to fix our spouse that’s why we are there. We all enter that room with the same thoughts, “They are the reason for…” or “They did this to me…” or “if only they….” But in reality to love your spouse we have to focus on ourselves and learn how to love like God because unfortunately our spouses will disappoint us, will hurt us, and will occasionally let us down. They’re human, we are too. So we too will do the same. We have to understand in the end we are all broken, marrying someone else who is broken. No one is perfect.

During our first week as we were listening to other people’s testimony they mentioned they had a friend who was married 5 times. During his divorce for his 5th marriage he made the comment, “If I would have known, that the last marriage would have been like the first one, I would have stayed with the first.” In other words, we are all broken married to broken people, trying to figure out how to make our marriage work.  Now if you understand that you yourself are broken, and so is your spouse and you want to love them anyway, be there for them despite their problems, even though your still filled with hurt, and pain. Read How to have a successful marriage when times get tough. It helps us to be better partners despite all our brokenness.

Once we come to this realization that we are all broken then we can then focus on the how. How do I love a broken person? How do I love a broken person with addictions, lies, problems, secrets, and hurts?  I’m sorry but, NO, there’s no fast answer, if you are in a spot where you are facing divorce then I say seek counsel, go to your church, join a small group for married couples. Or perhaps join Re|Engage.

There’s also no way I can share all what I’ve learned so far, it’s something you should go through with your spouse and let God make moves in yalls lives. However, I wanted to share some simple ways to help you and your spouse take steps to making your marriage what God wants for yalls marriage- For it to be great!

The best way to move forward is to start pursuing your spouse. You want to get closer? Then get to know them. We think we know one another but guys, people change, people have new interest you know this by the gifts you buy for them, each year it’s different right? Well you may ask Ashly, I don’t need to do this, I’ve been married for 15 years. Then my question is, do you sit at home, on your phone at night, in bed? Do you watch TV while your eat dinner? Are you making time to talk to one another? Know eachother? The same way you research things on your phone is the same way you should pursue your spouse. Unfortunately, yes it is harder than looking up www dot. Are you willing to follow your vows and do the hard work?

The second thing, is to pursue Christ– run from sin and straight into Christ’s arms. Stop carrying around the weight of your past, your sins, or the hurt of others, you need to know today you are free from all of that!!

You’re free because he died for you.

Isn’t that beautiful?! Amazing?! Can you believe it, we are loved beyond measure. I think once we accept that whole heartedly, and actually believe you are loved, love begins to grow. For yourself, for your spouse, for your life. When I have put my life in God’s hands, I have more good days then bad. My days aren’t full of judgement, hate, and anger. Marriage is hard, so I hope that you find time to do these 2 Easy Steps to ReEngage with your Spouse.

 

Start It, Commit to it, Succeed in it!

Ashly Williams

Parent/Child Dedication

Dedicating Our Lives to Disciple Our Children

On Mother’s Day we all stood up before the church and dedicated our lives to leading our children down a path that speaks the truth. It was a great experience and a wonderful gift to me I must say. This was the first time as a married family that we stood together side by side dedicating our lives outwardly in a faith based way to symbolize the effort, the hope, and the desire to steward their lives towards this reality! For our lives as well.

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This outward expression was so important to me for so many different levels. The significance however was tremendous for me because recently Joshua and I have turned to God  whole-heartedly to help lead us through this difficult chapter in our lives. We know how important it is to seek his guidance first, even above our own. We’ve established our foundation on God because we knew without him we would not be able to go through this feat alone. I tried that, and it sent us down a path were we talked, and even considered separating. We discussed getting a divorce the week after our miscarriage. We clung to one another the week before, during all the sickness I needed him. The week of I only wanted to be near him, to guide and lead me through the dark days. Then it was like a tornado of emotions just hit me all at once the week following. It was horrible, I was spiraling out of control full of sadness, anger, guilt, and remorse. Life was just breaking me down. Instead of reaching to one another for moral support I was looking inward and only saw and felt anger and lashed it out accordingly to who I thought deserved it. My husband was my punching bag, and I started to open up all the problems and warning signs from years ago, and made up accusations from the past. It was not fun. I started leaving the house once a week, to “get away”. I wanted to be far away from the person that was trying to be there for me. He didn’t understand why I was acting out the way I was, he didn’t know how to stop it, he didn’t have all the right things to say, so he didn’t say anything. The only thing that saved us at the time was our wedding vows.

One day I went on a coffee break and spent 30 mins watching my wedding video thinking, is this it? Our marriage ends before we even make it to an official two months. I then listened to myself speak our vows…on repeat. I flooded my brain with words of truth over and over and over again. These are the words I heard:

I Ashly, Take you Joshua to be my husband. To have to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, In sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, to love and cherish,  to be faithful to you alone, as long as we both shall live.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is what our whole ceremony was based around and it speaks of a way to love one another without end. I told myself that night, I will not fail God, I will not fail myself, I will not give up on Josh. I told Josh that night how salvation came throug our vows. That I didnt think he deserved my love, that he didn’t do anything to change my mind, but purely based off the gift of love that I know I don’t deserve given to me everyday despite my mistakes, sins, and wrongdoings. That’s the love I always said I’m going to give long before I met Josh and that’s the love I vowed to give when I married Josh. I said we needed more truth in our lives and that’s when I saw my husband show me his commitment to our marriage.

We’ve started attending Re|Engage weekly, and have successfully attended 8 weeks of it. We have picked up an amazing toolbox for our marriage by going through the process. I’m so thankful for this community we have joined in. We needed them, we needed the influx of wisdom, and the words of truth spoken to us through our marriage. If you need more of this read about our Re|Engage experience and if you need prayers for your marriage please feel free to pm and I will add them to my prayer list.

The words of truth have saved me so many times in my life. So many times when I found myself going down the wrong path, even in those times I pushed God away and he said I don’t think so, “I’m not done with you yet” and drug me out of the darkness by my feet.

Williams Family Parent/Child Dedication

I want my children to relish in his words of truth in all their future days. That is why I wanted to go through the parent/child dedication in the first place. To know that we are dedicated to give them these tools to allow God to work in their lives. For the dedication you could choose a verse for your family. We chose:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

– 3 John 1:4

I hope more than anything that they find peace in his words when times are hard. Comfort in knowing they are loved, and salvation knowing he sent his son so we could be saved. All I dream and hope for my children is that they walk in the truth. I fear the day I die for one reason only. That I die too early- too early to know for sure my children rely on God above all else. I hope in that time they are old enough to reach for the Bible in times in need versus friends that speak ill hearted, figures that speak selfishly, or family that directs them wrongfully.

Yesterday I watched a video about kids showing hatred and racism at a playground against a little boy who had to be about 5 or 6. My heart weakened knowing this is the generation my kids will live with. It’s not just one way either, I watched kids that are 10 and 11 making videos of them bullying and beating up white kids because they live in the same projects as they do.

My first instinct of course is to blame their surroundings, their parents, their community for showing them this is okay. I know the world is harsh full of broken people, full of sinners, hate and built up anger. It’s always been full of that, but now it’s full of it with a button that enhances it, spreads it, and fuels it. The hatred Timmy has in virginia is shared via internet by some sort of media, and Alex in Utah sees it, and agrees with it and displays the same anger. We have to be conscious of what our children see. Yes that means everything! We have to ensure that our children are not corrupted by the wrong things. We have to step up our parenting game. I spoke of this on Mother’s Day about raising up motherhood. It’s important. I know everywhere we hear good job, especially on Mother’s Day. We are told you’re good enough. You a great mom, look at all the things you’ve done. I’m sorry but it’s not, raising your child isn’t good enough, we NEED to lead and guide them.

I also heard on Mother’s Day moms in the restaurant I was in that day, at the store, and of course all over online, say to their kids, “this is MY day.” I’m not joking in the bathroom at pluckers where I was eating a mom said to her son when all he was trying to do was talk to her, she wanted to wash her hands in peace apparently, “Can u please just be quite today, stop just for one day, this is my day!”

I was enraged! I would have made a comment about being thankful if I was next to her but I was in the stall, and of course I’m not going to yell across five stalls so this woman can hear my opinion. That wouldn’t have gone great lol. Atleast not even close to the hopeful way I would have intended it to be. Lol can u imagine that taking place lol.

I have sat and brewed on this sentence for three weeks now though, still getting upset by the words. If you have said this in some form or fashion I want to simply remind you, the only reason you have that day is because of them. They are supposed to be what you cherish on Mother’s Day. That’s what’s wrong with the holiday, is it’s so twisted. People think it’s a day for them! You have your birthday for that. Yes, it’s a day of recognition of your efforts to raise well rounded people, but if you’re selfish and talk to your children on that day like that, then no wonder our younger generations are growing up the way they are. It’s all about me me me me me. It needs to change!

Moms, dads parents, please I beg you change your perspective of parenting. Do more than just okay with our kids. They need so much poured into them now. We can’t just get away with bare minimum of hopes everything will end up okay. What was okay with us, is not okay with them. Especially now that they get so much information from all the different outlets and sources at their fingertips alone, nvm their friends, their schools, or their community. We have to work harder to try and combat all this… this N E G A T I V I T Y filling our world.

I know this is hard stuff to swallow sometimes as a parent. We all knew it was hard but we thought of my parents did it and with what they had then we can to. But our parents didn’t have to worry about all we have to. We must attack this new generation X with a different light. For I’m scared if we don’t, what my children will have to fight for growing up is 100 x more than what I had to deal with at the age of 20.

So what do we do? Well I can only leave you with one word- Commitment. Commit yourself to your children in a way that leads them. Dedicate your whole self to them, not your tired, just got off work self. Not I just need a minute, not the mom who just wants her day. Because after all before u know it you’ll have all the days you need once they run off to other people who give them that time they long for. Dedicate your lives to raising well balanced people for our world so desperately needs it. Don’t just raise them, lead them, L E A D by example. Hopefully with your efforts and theirs we can all change this back around.

If you want notes, tips, and direction that we received from our parent child dedication class check out 5 ways to Lead your Children. I hope that it will inspire you to want to lead your children down a path of truth. Even if you don’t believe in God, these tools can help you to atleast ensure that you are placing your children in the right community to make sure they grow up filled with love, kindness, and courage.

Most importantly remember to embrace your role as a parent. God has called upon you to help lead and guide them. Here’s the verse the church gave us to help guide us to impress our children with the good news, to pass on love and knowledge of God because he so desperately wants them close to him.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I hope this verse helps keep you motivated even in the hard days. You don’t need to stand up above a whole church, but you do need community and a team so ask your family to help keep you guided and accountable. Ask your community what they are about and if they have the same morals and beliefs, lead our future generation to kindness and love so they too have a chance to love and serve for the better good.

Motherhood is the Best Hood

Defining Motherhood

M O M • M o t h e r • M o m m y – A person who gives birth, or cares and protects another being as if you gave birth to them. Mom is such a strong word to us mothers but when you look it up the word sounds so basic. It means to give birth OR anyone who can love and care for others in a motherly way.

As I continue to celebrate this amazing weekend full of love and gift showering, and lots of sweets, I was slapped in the face with this Webster reality. I was angry when I read it. That was it. That’s how motherhood is defined? Then I realized that’s not motherhood, that’s simply how the word mom is defined. So what’s motherhood?

Now before, I go on let me explain where My aha moment came from. Here I was yesterday, mad, feeling selfish and proud thinking my husband didn’t praise me enough as a mother during this special weekend. After all it’s one weekend a year, and I deserved it. Especially after everything I do. Then, an amazing gift was received from my husband. I felt so bad the rest of the evening for being bratty and acting the way I did all day long. I had literally secluded myself from my family because I was feeling the way I did and just pretty much pouted as I laid down in bed. I told him at first i just wanted rest because that’s what I wanted to do since it was my weekend. That was really just the self justification I told myself so I could get away with my stand-offish mood. I wasn’t fooling anyone though, not myself, not him and def not God. I felt so bad about my feelings after I opened my gift that I had to spill everything out and share my pride with my husband. As amazing as he is he shrugged it off and simply said, “Well, it is your weekend, and I didn’t even notice what you’re talking about.” Wink wink.

Then, I woke up this morning to a studio that was put together, my gift in a large box, was a photo studio with 18 backdrops, two light boxes, umbrellas, and light diffusers. I mean I’ve always wanted all this stuff but never thought I’d own it all. And in one day, it was here and up. I had no idea he was getting this for me and it means the world to me, considering I obviously love taking pictures. I mean with cute kids like mine how can you not. He put a lot of thought in this gift and got me something he knew would enhance my mommy and me moments.

As I stared in awe, thinking that I didn’t deserve this gift, that I have messed up so much. Lost control so many times, that there’s been days I treat everyone in the house with the bare minimum amount of love I have to give just to get us through the day. I was reminded of Gods love, how undeserving we are yet he loves us anyway. Like my husband does I and me him. My love for my children is the same way. They can do wrong. Never. I will always love them.

But that’s coming from a mom who has not gone through teenage years with them yet. I’m human and I’m aware that there will be those feelings of disappointment, anger, and plain fed upness with them. So, then is my motherhood still valid by that unconditional love that I speak of. For in tough times and hard moments that unconditional love could be and will be tested. So, now I ask, is it really that simple, to say a person can be a mom because they gave birth and have that instant feeling of conditional Ooops sorry I mean unconditional love.

This doesn’t sound right to me. I’m human and yes I love my children unconditionally, but there will be moments of weakness. I’m not perfect. So I sit here and ask again, What then defines me as a mother?

I’ve thought very long and hard about this. My motherhood isn’t defined by my husband- he thinks I’m the best mommy ever. It isn’t even defined by my own opinions of how good or how bad I think I’ve messed up. It isn’t defined by Webster either, and it sure in hell isn’t defined by how other mothers see me. I’ve realized one thing defines motherhood for me. One thing that makes a person into a “mother”- and that’s the effort put into leading a child to be people capable of navigating the inevitable bumps of living in this world.

Not raising a child. Grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles can raise your child for you. Just simply “raising” your child is half the battle. Yes. You work hard to feed them and clothe them and to put a roof over their head. Yes, your child never goes without. Well done! I mean it, because in this world that’s hard to do. What I’m saying though is if life is hard for you, then use it. Use it to lead them with grace and a strength that only you can show them. It will prepare them in their life ahead. We try to shelter our kids from pain and hardships because we care, but they need to learn how to manage through those times too and preferably before they ever leave your house.

I was fed, I was clothed, and for almost all of my life, I had a roof over my head. My mother did her best at that. Then I moved to my dads at 15 to be away from my mom. My step mother and father then did their best at raising me and I have them to thank for trying to lead me towards God. I left home two days after graduation and moved into a city with no knowledge on really how to live a life beyond everyday needs and wants. I didn’t know how to balance life, deal with stress, or how to remain strong in hard times. I did however know how to work hard.

In the last 13 years since I’ve graduated, I’ve had so many woman come into my life and give me love and care as a mother would. I’m beyond grateful, even if it was only in a moment, and not a lifetime. I’ve been beyond privileged to have woman pour into me in a way that saved me from myself, from temptation and from harm. I’ve had woman accept me, challenge me, and lead me. I don’t know where or who I would be without them. Yet, I have never called these woman mom but they did commit to influence and lead me in some way or another. Which brings me back to my aha moment.

As I threw my fit thinking I needed praise, because I am a MOM, because I have the title, that I deserve praise, but let’s just face it, we all just want the praise. ‘Motherhood’ is hard, dirty, slimy, and tests us, but we aren’t promised the praise nor do we really deserve it. We all love the praise of course, in the good times we love motherhood and we try to make it through the hard ones, so this one day a year is a nice reminder for everyone in our family to praise us for our efforts. We deserve it! Ya!!!!

In no shape or form am I trying to discount our motherly efforts we all put in day in and day out. I just think though that I’m hit with the reality of pride that I have gained from that word as a title. I carry this entitlement that is not justified.

It may have to do with the fact that at 21 I was a mother for 8 months and then it all was gone. Ripped from my hands. So when I was 23 and my second son came I was relieved that I could be “called” that again. I earned it back. However, that doesn’t justify or give meaning to motherhood. Giving birth to two more beautiful babies afterwards doesn’t somehow give me extra brownie points over other moms either. Spending 7!years covered in puke, poo, and drool doesn’t define motherhood either. All these moments add value to motherhood but does not define it. Before today motherhood to me meant swimming in the poo with a smile. It meant giving my best in this chaotic day to day life we are living meanwhile providing for my children.

Today however I’m hit with a different view. Swimming in poo only lasts for a few years. The stay at home mom eventually is left alone? At some point we will all be empty nesters. So then what? Again, what defines you as a mother? Me as a mother?

Disclaimer—Some, well many, may disagree with me. You may not like what I’m saying. But the harsh reality in my world, is that my mother is not part of who I became. She did not build me up, she did not give me tools, and she did not lead me. Ever. Now don’t bash her, because she was and has always been a woman who worked hard for us. At many points in her life she worked two jobs so we could survive. Yet, there is no significant moment where she helped me in managing through this journey we call life. Now does that mean she’s not my mom, no. It can’t take that away. However, now I know she and a whole lot of people will get offended by this, but the harsh reality is, that she was never present in her journey of motherhood. She was present in her own journey of life. Trying to make ends meet was her main focus.

I’m not here to make you angry. I’m not here to make a million friends either, I started this blog as a place to challenge you to be a better you. So as I share my moment of clarity, or to some my misconstrued opinions, I hope in some way I’m able to make you think outside your own walls of understanding that it will compel you to at least try. For in the end that’s all we can do.

Heck I’m trying now, I will have a many days that I fall short, but like Dr. Laura Markham said in Peaceful Parenting, it’s fine, we just have to take ONE ACTION AT A TIME. If you’re like me don’t focus to much on the things we’ve done wrong. Don’t focus on how we’ve messed up or how we have too many days living in choas to even try. Each day is a new day, and I want to always do my best at this journey called Motherhood. “No matter how many times I go 2 steps forward, and one step back, it still gets my family onto a more positive path + closer to a new landscape.” as said by Dr. Markham. That’s. Relief for me. I know we can’t be perfect, I know there will be difficult days so those set backs don’t mean much in the grande scheme of things.

My eye will stay focused on the never ending goal, to always serve them in a way that helps them grow. That’s the mother I’m called to be. The one that never stayed stagnant or didn’t try. I want to lead my children down a path of positivity and through an overall well balanced life. For that’s the best gift a mother can give. That’s a gift many mothers can, should, and need to give.

So as I focus on MY O W N commitment and the priority to help my babies with self – regulation, connection, and respect so they can manage in a world of turmoil, and hardships. I challenge you to raise up motherhood. Make motherhood more! More then a simple, “Whew- we made it through that.” Make your job of motherhood the most important job you have. Because in the end, you’re raising humans, and not just any humans, but our future generation. Please don’t burden them with your anger, hatred, or victimization, for they did nothing wrong. I ask that you as a mother, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself can you be better? Even if you only see a hair thin chance of room to grow in you, do it! Show your children how to manage life. Show them emotional intelligence. Give them the gift of understanding how to live life physically, morally, and mentally aware.

Motherhood isn’t about refereeing their daily actions, that just puts you in a Godly position. Instead, strive to be their coach, their confidant, and their counselor. Lead them.

I don’t know about you other moms, but as I listen to that word tomorrow in all the happy celebrations my perspective will be forever changed. As my kids yell my name in all the joyful, excited, sad, angry, proud and hard times, I will remember what that word means. I will remember my motherly duty to them- to take every moment and use it in a way to help them be better.

Now to you mom- remain strong in the hard days, stay strong in the midst of chaos, through the tiredness, you can do it!! For you were called by God to be a mother to those sweet babies of yours. So repeat it to yourself, write it down, you are strong! You are strong enough!

She is strong- Proverbs 31:12

I Did Not Lose My Son, He Died.

Having a Miscarriage at 16 Weeks

Yesterday was one month since our sweet Atticus Jaxon passed. The beginning of the year of course had started out like most, well kind of. I was actually very sick with the flu. Yet, I had scheduled post to publish, pics to share, and ideas a brewing about starting out the year with the right mindset, I had wedding anniversary post scheduled to write about all the little details of our wedding. Especially since the pictures and videos came in finally which I had been waiting for what seemed like forever. Instead life threw a curve ball. A huge one- that sent me down a path I never even could have imagined.

I sort of walked around telling myself I did my dues in this life already, and that I have been down my paths of torment and struggles. I literally thought what else would God need from me. I am no one of that much importance or someone who has made that much of an impact. I didn’t think God would want me to speak about all my grief and sorrows all over again. Especially after having three healthy kids in a row with just a simple glance being made in my direction. Seriously, no effort was needed, yet I know people today who struggle to still have their first baby. I never could imagine that I would become a part of this whole other community.

I have known and witnessed many people who have had miscarriages before and I remember thinking how sad, I can’t even imagine, but I will admit, because I lost my first son at 8 and half months I thought losing a child once they were in your arms and time spent with them was worse. How wrong I was.

At 16 weeks pregnant my water broke and I spent three horrible days of traumatic events that we will never be able to forget. I will spare all those details for they have passed. However what still lingers, is the obvious – dealing with all the emotions, sadness, confusion, fear, and grief. I guess I could just simply say, healing is what is left. There are all the same feelings; anger, pain, feeling that life stole something that was supposed to be yours, pity, shame, doubt, and depression. All the feelings that you feel when your child passes no matter how old they are, are all there.

We didn’t get to know Atticus, we will never know the sounds he would have made, the smile he would give, or the smirk if he was anything like his father. The temper he may or may not have gotten, or if he would have been a genius like both his parents. However we know what it was like to hold him…for one night, for as long as we wanted, before we never could hug, coddle, and kiss on him again. We rocked with him out of habit, knowing it wasn’t doing anything but we just wanted to share some moments with him before he was no longer with us. We stared at him wondering what color his eyes were and were fascinated how he looked so much like his siblings. He was a cutie! Although we never shared “life” with him, we will always ache and mourn over his death. I honestly almost feel as if miscarriages are worse only because you never felt their warm breath, literally every little moment that should have been yall’s to share, has become an unknown moment for you. Our lives will always be wrapped up in the unknown somehow, someway.

People say I’m sorry for your loss, but it’s not a loss. I didn’t lose my baby. He died. In my womb! We didn’t walk away without looking at him never knowing anything, I didn’t wake up with him just miraculously gone. I delivered my still born child and we spent time with an angel. There is no “loss”. What we lost was the time that we could have spent with him. That my friends, will never be able to be recovered from.

I always wonder what my first born, Valek would be up to now if he was still with us, he would be in 3rd or 4th grade hopefully doing what every little boy should be doing. Would he still need wires, or would he have a life without them? Would he have recovered from his traumatic injuries and we all could have witnessed a miracle or would he be a vegetable like they predicted? There will always be unknowns with him, I remember when his fifth birthday came and thinking about how he would be learning to tie his shoes and ride bikes. I know 100% all the same thoughts and unknowns will be there with Atticus as well. However, I knew Valek’s sounds, and sweet smiles, and witnessed his bravery. I knew who he was, and he knew me!!! Miscarriage is so hard because every moment is something you never had with your child.

At Atticus’ burial we met our minister, we talked and prayed before we went out and buried him as a family. In that moment God showed up to do his good works. The minister began to share his story with us; just two months earlier his oldest daughter had a miscarriage at 21 weeks. I thought he simply started out sharing because he wanted us to know we weren’t alone but then he continued to tell us about how he called her that morning and checked up on her to see how she was. Her response, “Dad, I lost my baby, he’s as real as you and I. I need to stop thinking I’m supposed to get over it easier than I would anyone else I knew but the reality of it is, my baby is gone. So now, I have to learn to live with that reality.”

For her and I it was a reality moment, I shared with him about my previous son passing away, and that for the past two and half weeks I’ve had every same thought and pain as I did with Valek’s passing. Nothing was different. It did not matter how long you held your angel, or how long you knew them, the cut still was just as deep as before. In that moment we all found comfort in the midst of pain. That minister stayed with our family all the way until we left the site and even helped us bury our son. God had his hands on all of us that day.

And Our son was buried by our own hands by his own family, that day.

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I feel compelled to explain- Joshua has always buried his loved ones and he has taught us all the importance of spending the time to do that. The respect and honor it gives to the deceased is beautiful to me. At first I was taken back by it, but to see the sweat and hard work it takes to cover a grave breaks my heart in a way I never knew it could. Yet, at the same time watching my husband and kids cover our son, was admirable. To see the minister stay, to pray with us in the end, and to remind us of Gods promise, made the worst day ever into quite a beautiful service.

IMG_2630The one constant thing that has hit me after this is the reality that not only am I reminded that nothing is for certain, and I am owed nothing, but all of this brings me down to my knees where I belong, and back to my center. That I am less than God therefore I need him. No matter what, all the time!

Another thing God has shown me, is no ones story means more than others. Shame me for thinking differently. Honestly! Who was I to think so wrongfully. I’m sorry for that, to all I didn’t comfort in those times because I was too prideful thinking your pain didn’t compare to mine. I think people like me, don’t know how to face miscarriages because of the mere fact it was someone you didn’t spend life with. I’m here to tell you, It does not matter! I knew you experienced loss, pain, and sorrow, I just measured my first sons death as if it was more because of his life he lived. Again, it does not matter! I have learned for it’s not the life you live, it’s the impact of your life you’ve lived that matters! I saw Valek bless so many people with his life. One month ago, I experienced a little boy, who never took a breath, change people in the hospital, I saw him impact everyone at the burial service, and I have experienced change because of him, for in his death he already left a legacy behind for the goodness of God!

I can only pray in my death I can accomplish the same as both my boys in heaven did.

Lastly, I may be the only person to say this who’s experienced “baby loss” as they call it. But I highly recommend we stop using that term. I know it cushions the blow, but I feel as if it’s too soft, as if it’s easily to turn away from, to not face it with that term. So as far as I go, please stop saying you’re sorry for me losing my baby, he’s not lost…time was lost….he on the other hand is in heaven.

 

Top 5 Favorites this Christmas Season

All Things Merry and Bright

Man I can’t believe Christmas is only a few days away!!! Wow I feel like just last week we were putting up our lights and tree. I’m super excited for the big day and all the festivities coming up soon, just want it to slow down a little bit. I’m feeling nostalgic this season and everything seems to hold a little more meaning to me this year. Josh tells me it’s because of hormones, and he could be right, but I’d like to think differently. I’d like to think its more along the lines of: I’m feeling the spirit run through me and just can’t help but be completely enthusiastic for the season.

Either way I have enjoyed this year. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s our first Married Christmas that makes it so special, or the fact that indeed I am carrying, that makes it uber special for the family and myself. Whatever the reason, I have completely enjoyed the season. So I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite things. The top five things to be exact, things I have enjoyed this season and hopefully you all will enjoy something similar to these with your family.

1. Enjoy your surroundings. From the beginning, decorating our home this year was fun for me because we actually came up with a “color scheme” that actually pulls together all of our decorations we had before we met. I have been stuck on the white and silver kick, and Josh had all the colors, as he says, “What is Christmas without color?” Thanks to my husband, I have begun to love the brightness of the colors. I have fallen in love with all the perks of a tree, like the gold garland, the colored and white lights mixed together around the tree, the train that goes ’round and ’round the tree that makes the kids scream, and lastly, the candy canes that go on at the end for the finishing touches. I have to admit it took me a while to come around to it all, but how happy he gets when the tree has it all is fun to watch. It was a tradition that he did with his Aunt and Uncle and now it has become part of our family’s tradition. It’s cute to see how Ayden even remembered the candy canes because at first we didn’t have them on, and he said, “Mom, mmmmm, something is missing.” The second thing, Josh has had this red tree skirt that I have never really loved but matched the tree so we’ve used it. Yet, I had this pretty big, fluffy tree skirt that I bought before I met him and wanted to use but it just didn’t flow with the tree. Well, this year Josh surprised me with red and gold pendant wreaths to hang on our gameroom doors that just make the living room look complete! Those two wreaths gave me so much Christmas spirit because then I was able to flow the red and gold into every room with the touches of silver that I had and it’s just like a Williams Wonderland should look. I told Josh how happy and excited I was with everything this year, and he gave a funny look and asked, “What, you didn’t like every other year?” Taken back a little, I had to quickly respond with an explanation of the importance of cohesiveness. The response my husband gave me was one that made me so thankful and happy that I married him. He simply looked at me and said, “Ashly, you don’t have to have the perfect decorations, and themes for it to be Christmas. Christmas is still Christmas without all the glitter.” Now admittedly, I do know why he said it; it’s  really because he hates glitter all over the house throughout the month since it’s almost impossible to get rid of. It seem like every night one of our kids has glitter somewhere on them when they go to bed. All jokes aside, I know the true meaning of what he said, and the value of it. He’s so right, it’s not about all the little details that not one other person besides my mom has even seen this year. It’s not about every room having Christmas spirit, (although they all look super adorable) it’s about the meaning of Christmas being about who it’s spent with not with the things around you or under that tree.

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2. Go on a Christmas Adventure. the second week we finally had little man for our weekend so we decided to go have a Texan Christmas at Gaylord Convention Center that was full of Christmas festivities.

For starters, we couldn’t ask for a better start to the weekend because it snowed here in Austin the night before we left!! To wake up to a trip the kids were already excited about with a white morning was the best. It was so much fun to make snowangels with the littles, to see the snow fall and try to catch snowflakes on our tongues was funny. Addie wasn’t too excited but boy was she cute!!! We even made the tiniest little snowman I ever did see!!

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Once we got to Grapevine, we had snow tubing with Dad, Ice Sliding, Snowball Throwing, and got to tour ICE! The most amazing ice sculptures we have ever seen. Each room had a theme with sculptures 32 feet high and it was 9 degrees!!! Can you say brrrrrrr!!! Super cold!!!!

We all had snow gear on and they gave us parkas to wear over it all. It was hilarious to see us trying to manage all the coverage but our youngest wearing the full snow body suit with the parka walking around stole the show. It was hilarious, she was like a little marshmallow!! At the end of the tour there was a room full of iceslides that the big kids loved!!! Ayden went down until is little cheeks turned red. Check out the video below to see the highlight reels.

The next day we took all three kids to go ice skating for the first time. Never did we know that it would be so much fun mixed in with temper tantrums to equal one overall amazing time. To start with the bad as most people like to hear first, Little miss threw a huge fit because she didn’t want to get off the ice and I couldn’t keep holding her up from laughing so much at her being silly, she couldn’t quite keep her feet under her atfirst. Finally, we got a polar bear from nice girls that offered it to us, after asking help of course, and she was able to push it around like a big girl screaming the whole time, “I’m doing it Mommy!!! I’m a big girl!!!” Meanwhile, wearing skates that were three times too big because they didn’t have her small size. Amazing!

The progression that Ayden had while ice skating for the first time was amazing as well!!! My husband has always commended me on how well I learn things and how fast I pick them up. Well, it looks like Ayden is just like his momma and learns quickly as well! We were so proud of him, with just a quarter round of clinging to the wall, the other half to me, he was ready to try on his own. Then just two falls later, he had it down by himself!! Sooo amazing! It really is fun to see your kids learn something new, but to see them excel fast, stay patient while doing it, and never give up, just makes you feel so proud of not only them but yourself too. It makes you feel like you’re doing something right in parenting them. Now, I know as a parent its not always exactly motivating to get them all ready and try something during the holidays with tons of people doing the same thing, but the reward in the end really is worth it. The reward is their smiles and the constant bragging they do about their accomplishments around the house as they re create the experience.

 

The rest of the time has been full d festive moments that I can’t help but love. So the last two are home activities that have been a favorite of mine because they’re close and personal.

3. The annual s’more making tradition. Every year once the decorations are up we gather around the fireplace and make s’mores. It’s so funny because each year we have a new member added to the family so we never know what they’re going to do. Ayden has become quite proficient at it and barely needs help but admittedly, only likes to roast them but not eat them so much. It takes him like 30 minutes just to eat one marshmallow because it gets so sticky he doesn’t know what to do with it. However we’ve told him, he can’t roast anymore if he’s going to waste them so he musters through it. Aliyna is in love with s’mores, something else another one of my children gets from their mother. I love them and can eat them everyday. I have loved them since I was 14 when I had my very first one!! My parents used to buy me s’more ornaments for the tree and s’more makers for Christmas!! Awe flashback to childhood christmas’. That’s why I love this tradition so much, it’s something I have loved for a very long time and love to see my family falling in love with it as well. That brings us to Addie, who absolutely adores it, just doesn’t understand it. She’s up close and personal, watches, and enjoys to eat it of course, gets excited because everyone else does too, just isn’t too sure about the fire stuff. If you’re kiddos don’t like chocolate, or the marshmellows or something about the s’mores, just try roasting by the fire, because the cuddles we all got with the kids by the fire, is always a favorite.

4. Start a new Santa Tradition. I normally don’t do any of the new Santa traditions that they do now only because I try to keep the focus on Jesus, and to be honest each year there’s just more and more new things that I can’t keep up with. My main focus is to keep the joy of Santa and Christmas alive through old fashioned stories and games. The one thing I have always done is find a local spot that delivers letters to Santa and make that moment special. This year I happened to come across a special mail box that delivers letters to Santa whenever we want. I bought it and brought it home. It is connected straight to the North Pole with a specific elf who comes to our house and picks up these letters every night. We have used this special box to even write apologetic letters to Santa when we make mistakes. It has served a bigger purpose than just a wish list. There is always something you can try that can cause some sort of new excitement for your family. It doesn’t have to be something big just try something new and see where it takes your family.

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5. Make family Memorabilia. Lastly, we made a cute Handprint Christmas Tree deco that I had to share. It’s our first family Christmas tree!! The little hands are the cutest! Each one knew it was special because they all waited their turn patiently and would scoot closer and closer to get their hand painted so they could make their mark! Family in the end has become a huge stigma this Christmas season and I’ve enjoyed seeing us grow, get excited in our own little ways. To see us carry out our own traditions that I hope will last a lifetime, not only with us, but that they burn bright within my children that will make them want to carry these on with their children.

So again- My top five favorite Christmas Traditions this Season:

1. Enjoy the surroundings God has given you, no matter what they are.

2. Go on an adventure, somewhere and do something new with your family.

3. S’more Traditions is always an excuse for extra cuddles

4. Try a new Santa tradition even if it’s against everything you believe in, for the sake of your children, to keep the Xmas spirit alive.

5. Make something memorable for that year with your family. Whether it be an ornament, a letter, or a canvas Family Christmas Tree deco sign like ours. Make it for keepsakes.

If you would like to know more about Grapevine please comment below! I’ll share whatever I can to help start a new tradition.

Merry Christmas to all

-Ashly Williams (Diebel)

Our highlight reel from a Lonestar Christmas at Gaylord Texan :