I Have a Confession

Have you ever felt so bogged down by the constant demands in life, by the daily monotonous grind, that it seems impossible to keep all of the plates spinning. You’re just waiting for one to get off kilter and crash leaving all of the others to follow suit while you tip-toe around the shattered glass feeling tired and defeated? That’s been life for me lately.

Like you, I wear so many hats….a coach’s wife, the mom with the baby who keeps head butting her in church, daughter, friend, employee, co-worker, special needs advocate. Sometimes I can balance all of these plates well, and other times I feel like I can hardly catch my breath. Lately, I’ve felt heavily burdened and stressed out. There have been too many frustrating circumstances out of my control that I’ve had to face head on, and….I don’t really like that. I like to have control. I like to have a plan. I suppose sometimes my plan needs a little shaking up for me to get on my knees and pray.

I have a confession to make. In fact, this is my repeat offender sin that usually makes it’s way to the top of the list when I go to Reconciliation. If you know me well, you know this to be true. And likely, you will smile at what I’m about to confess. So here it goes…I’m a Christian, I’m a Catholic, and I cuss.

Yep. I say bad words.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proud of this. It’s one of my biggest vices. To my surprise, I actually have done a pretty good job around my children (if I may say so myself) about keeping it in check when they’re around. Granted, two of them are still non-verbal (for the most part), so the jury’s still out I suppose.

None the less, it’s true. Get me around some adults, throw in a glass of wine, and it’s likely it won’t take long for a “naughty word” to cross my lips. Heck, I just went to confession on Sunday (more on that later) and I’ve already said a few “choice words’ since. Oh, I’m a piece of work, huh!?

Anyway…this does have a point. God uses my vice as a way to remind me to get back in check with him. My “choice words” had been flowing a little too frequently, leading me to see that my patience was nearly gone, and my overall joy in life seemed to be depleted as well.

The ick, the dirt, the discontent was rearing it’s ugly head in more ways than one, but I’m stubborn and it takes me a while to humble myself. So God made it very clear that my soul needed some cleaning. It became evident to me in a very concrete way…the kitchen floor. We currently have close to two feet of snow on the ground outside, ice sickles dangling from roof tops, and enough sand on the roads to fill dozens of playgrounds this spring when it all finally melts away. We’ve been out in the trenches, dragging in the slush and rocks in with our boots as we travel in and out of the garage via the kitchen. It took me a while, but I eventually got fed up with the grime. I made a goal to get the cleaning done while I had a little extra time Friday morning. I made breakfast for the kids, which only one of them ate, put on an episode of Puppy Dog Pals (now shortened to PDP when we have to talk in code, lest one of the little ones catch wind of the name and have a freak out until it’s put on TV), and got to work.

I started with the broom and swept up the rocks. They were little, but they seemed to find their way into every corner and along the trim. It’s hard to notice how many there were because they trickled in slowly, a few at a time. But now, I had swept up several dustpans full. It was rather annoying.

A little hot water, some vinegar, and a few splashes of tangerine essential oil and I was ready to put some elbow grease into this floor- my kitchen was going to look and smell glorious!

I got about five scrubs in before one of my tenants came over to check out what I was doing. Looking all cute in her fleece pj’s and hair matted down from the cheesecake she had smashed onto her head the night before (and no, we did not do baths because I was solo parenting and had no energy for that nonsense). So I figured “What the heck. The floors will get cleaned and so will my kid. Two birds with one stone. What a deal.”

I let her get her hands in the water, scrub with the towel, and by two scrubs she was over it and just wanted to splash. So, I let her…and then promptly got the bath water running…I knew where this was headed. Not two seconds after I got back from running the bath water did I walk into the kitchen to see that my little darling had dumped the water all over the floor and was stomping her feet in it…smiling while saying “waaaaash!”

Luckiy I had already grabbed a bath towel and used that to mop. My floor got double-y cleaned.

I knew that with all the snow that still lay unmoved since it had fallen that my clean floor wouldn’t last long. (It made it until Monday when newly trodden snow covered shoes made their squeaks through the kitchen.) Even though I knew the cleanliness, the perfection, wouldn’t last, I needed to get that first layer of gunk off. I needed to rinse it and make it clean again.

As I was washing the floor God made it quite clear, “This is what you need to do for your soul. Go get it washed. Sin will make it dirty again and that’s ok. I will be there to wash it away, again and again.” And, per usual, my Bible study lesson this week hit the message home as I read Ephesians 4:25-32 “Be angry, but do not sin…no foul language should come out of your mouths.” Like the floor, I needed to find all of those tiny, annoying rocks (sin) that had wedged their way into the corners of my heart. They had become so comfortable there, I hardly noticed them any more. I needed to sweep them up and then scrub away the rest of the dirt that was left over. My soul needed a good cleaning.

I needed to let go of the hurt, frustration, and anger that I had let settle in a little too comfortably this past month. My soul needed a good scrub and having that fresh slate right before Lent was exactly what I needed in order to get my mind and heart in the right place for this upcoming season of sacrifice.

After receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I felt like I could breathe. I felt true and deep joy for the first time in over a month.

Life is very heavy when I try to carry it all on my own, but the load seems a heck of a lot lighter when I allow Jesus to share in carrying my burdens. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart…my yoke is easy, and my burden light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

Lent is starting tomorrow. It is the perfect time to snuggle in and get close with Christ. Have you decided on your prayer, fasting, or almsgiving yet this Lent? I’ve signed up for The Best Lent Ever through Dynamic Catholic to get my prayer in check and I’m going to do my best to participate in the 40 bags in 40 days in hopes of decluttering around the house.

Spend some time in prayer to be with Jesus, asking him what he wants for you this Lent. I pray that these next forty days are filled with many moment of closeness to Christ, that you are able to unite all sufferings and all joys with him, and that you experience in a very real way his deep love for you. A love so strong he went to Calvary to be nailed on a cross for you and for me so that our sins could be washed away and we can participate in the joys of eternal life with him.

Bridget AschoffComment

Expectations mercilessly fly at us from so many angles and directions. They can come from work, our family, our friends, and most often, from ourselves. Sometimes these expectations are verbalized. Other times they are simply hinted or even conjured up as a figment of our imagination. Regardless if they are true or make believe, we carry around a huge amount of pressure with us each day as we struggle to meet these expectations. We don’t want to let anyone down, especially ourselves.

The Bible study group I’m just finished up a lesson on expectations and it was quite the gut-punch for me. It really opened my eyes to the different expectations I havre in my life and how they affect me and my actions. It’s hard to accept the fact that no matter how hard we try, we will disappoint people; we will let people down.

After completing that lesson, I realized I have some highly unrealistic expectations for myself and my family. I expect that I can work full time, be a good mom, and be loving wife … seamlessly. I should be successful in my career, have well mannered children, and a happy marriage. I should have a clean house and enough spare time to read for pleasure. I want to be able to keep the house picked up, keep on top of the never ending laundry, and get a good healthy meal on the table for dinner (perfectly warmed by the time we actually sit down). I should be able to do it all, and do it well, always. Right?

The reality? My kids make an absolute mess in the living room every single day. A lot of times making it so that you would wonder if there is even a floor amidst the copious amount of toys. I have at least three loads of (clean) laundry sitting in the clothes basket on top of the dryer that have been waiting to be folded for days. And most nights, by the time the table gets set, hands get washed, and we all finally sit down to eat… one child has thrown half of her dinner on the floor, someone is complaining about carrots in their food, and the once warm meal is now cold…and my patience has dwindled down to nothing.

Can you relate?

What I have learned through our Bible study is that when expectations aren’t met, when things aren’t going as planned, I get frustrated, irritated, and unpleasant. I become Mom-Zilla. I snap at those I love the most and then when I realize how awful I’ve acted, feel like the worst person on the planet. So, what can I do about it? I am not a slave to my emotions; I have a choice on how I want to live and who I will serve.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15.

The funny thing….God doesn’t expect perfection. He knows we are human and that we will fail. What He does want us to do is pursue holiness by how we love one another and how we love Him.

While I have a LONG way to go, I’ve been able to figure out certain actions that trigger my frustrations and have been able to attach them to an unmet expectation. This allows me to slow down, figure out if this is a realistic or unrealistic expectation and then ask myself, “Who is going to be more affected (me or others) if this expectation is not met?” Or “Will Christ be upset with me if this expectation is not met?”

Last week, I took my day off from work (I still had the two youngest, so really, just a different kind of work) and had zero expectations of myself or the girls. I didn’t plan anything, I didn’t have a “to-do” list in my mind of things to check off as the day went on. I just let our day happen and I’ve got to say, it was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had with both girls in a really long time.

We played at the library, relaxed around the house, read books and I genuinely enjoyed every minute. Actually, I take that back. There was one point I didn’t enjoy…when the one-year-old’s diaper exploded all over. You know, the kind that goes ALL the way up the back, on the clothes, even the SOCKS, and of course onto the carpet. I even realized about 20 minutes after the clean up, that there were still remnants of the poo on my leggings. Gross. Yeah, that wasn’t enjoyable. But, the rest of the day was. Without expectations holding me hostage, I was free to enjoy whatever the day brought.

And while I soaked in the precious moments with my girls, I was also able to get the dishwasher unloaded, kitchen cleaned up, and a load of laundry done. The difference was my attitude in doing so. Because I hadn’t set certain unrealistic expectations for myself or them, I wasn’t franticly trying to check things off as the hours ticked by, attempting to get everything on my “to-do” list squeezed in, in a few hours. I was free to get done what I could and the enjoy the rest of the unplanned that day.

I realize that when moments get overwhelming, I need an extra shot of patience and gentleness. When I’m spending too much time focusing on what I have to do vs. what I want to do, I need to let God’s grace pour in.

”My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

What are some of the unrealistic expectations in your life that weigh you down? Are you willing to surrender them and put your trust in God’s love? Spend some time with Jesus today, asking him to help you slow down this week and refocus. How is He wanting to bless you this week, and will you be open to receiving it?

”Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” Matthew 6:33.

Bridget AschoffComment
My 2019 Resolutions

There is a lull that lasts between the day after Christmas and New Years Day. It’s calm, quiet, and not a whole lot of expectation (hello, sweatpants) – which is kinda nice after the busyness of the holidays. Occasionally, I’ll make a New Years resolution during that time, when I really have time to just sit and think and be quiet for a while. My biggest resolution that I actually followed through on (or at least that is significant enough to note) was last year. I made a promise to myself that I would start journaling as a way to help express my emotions and feelings vs. just bottling them up. I was struggling with keeping everything tucked inside, knowing I had much to share. I’m quite an introvert, believe it or not, so opening up and sharing isn’t something I easily do in person.

Last January, I did start journaling. I wrote two entires. HA! But I got frustrated with writing pen to paper because my brain worked faster than my hands could write. I realized I needed a more effective and efficient way to write, delete and revise what I wanted to say.

After much debating with God, I reluctantly accepted that the journaling He had placed on my heart was a little bit bigger than the tiny pink notebook I had picked up from Hobby Lobby, which intended to keep to myself. He wanted me to blog…for all the internet world to read…*eek!*…and so here we are!

Last year gave me a boost of confidence that I really can set out to accomplish what I want, and become a better version of myself. So, this year, I have a few resolutions. Most of my resolutions are focused around inner strength (daily gratitude, happiness, being present). However, I have one big goal that’s going to take both that inner strength and a lot of discipline. And that is to publish on the blog more frequently. I’ve committed to carving out an hour each week to write. Unfortunately, that’s probably going to mean early mornings or late nights for me, as my schedule is dictated by the three tiny “assistants” who I’m blessed to have call me “Mom”. But, I know the freedom I feel and the joy that fills my heart after each post is published is something that I long to have more of. I need to stop resisting – stop making excuses, and simply make my goal a priority.

So, today, while the rest of my family enjoys a warm winter’s nap – I’m here…listening to the hum of the space heater and the rhythmic clicking on the keyboard, and wishing I hadn’t let my hot chocolate become lukewarm because now it tastes disgusting, holding myself accountable. In reflecting, it’s become clear, that Day One of 2019 was filled with many blessings:

*Attending Mass solo-mio (that’s right, no hubby, no kids, aka-mini vaca) and I was determined to have the best time. Then reality hit; I got surrounded by people coughing, sneezing, and blowing their noses. And worse of all, the one person who probably ate too much cheese and crackers last night and kept me captured in an inescapable fart cloud …
But, I noticed how my spiritual life has grown. Because those things that would have once distracted me and pulled my joy from Mass (which is what the devil wants), I was able to take those former distractions, turn them into prayer, and really treasure my hour listening, singing, and praying.

*When I got home, Claire came up, gave me a hug and said “I wuh yew.” Unprompted. That’s enough to make my whole year, right there. Gosh, that girl knows how to melt my heart.

*I made the time for myself to sit and write. No distractions. No excuses.

What are some of your resolutions for this year? Leave them in the comments below!

May this new year bring to you and your family an abundance of beautiful memories, happiness, and joy that surpasses all understanding. Happy 2019 from our home to yours!

Bridget AschoffComment
What Are You Preparing For?

What are you preparing for? That question was a huge gut check for me this week as I finally decided to sit down and carve out quiet time to sit and pray. I LOVE Christmas. I love the music. I love the lights. I love the traditions. But most of all, I love the anticipation of the arrival of baby Jesus. This year, like most years, between work, some traveling, and my husbands busy basketball schedule, I had let the most important part of the season, the reason for the season, get put on the back burner. We’ve been watching the Christmas movies, listening to the music on the radio, baking cookies. While I was doing everything right by secular standards, my heart was restless – my priorities had been off. I needed to shift my focus.

Last Sunday, our family was asked to read a prayer and light the second Advent candle before Mass began. My first thought was “Oh, no!” As a scene of everything that could go wrong flashed through my mind: the younger two melting down sobbing or screaming uncontrollably, the oldest refusing to walk up with us, someone’s hair catching fire from the candle…this could be bad!

Too late. The bells started ringing, our sign to walk up and say the prayer and light the second candle on the Advent wreath. I really don’t know what the prayer was as my mind was a little preoccupied making sure all hell didn’t break loose, but after we made it through the prayer with no meltdowns, no run aways, and no one’s hair catching fire, it hit me.

We were starting the second week of advent, and what had I done to prepare?

Nothing. I had done nothing.

Our advent wreath hadn’t been placed on the kitchen table, our nativity set was still in the box, and worst of all, our hearts weren’t getting prepared to receive God’s most precious gift. I could make excuse after excuse as to why things were the way they were, and chances are people would probably respond with:

“Life is just busy right now, it’s okay.”

“You’ve got a lot going on and your hands are full.”

And while those are true, they are also lies from guess who? Some one who wants nothing more than me to neglect the true reason for the season. The king of lies. The devil himself. Isn’t he a tricky little booger? His lies are so believable, and his tricks easy to fall for. So while those lies may have a glimmer of truth, they are no reason to let Advent slip away and rob from me and my family the true Joy of the season.

I had to make a conscious decision to get my priorities straight so I could let Advent be Advent, so Christmas could be Christmas.

I picked up a few devotional books from a back table that I could begin reading and also decided to subscribe to Best Advent Ever through dynamiccatholic.com. My Advent journey made a complete 180.

The first night I listened to the first eight videos on Dynamic Catholic (remember, I was a little behind…). They were all so good, I couldn’t help but continue to watch as they each seemed to hit home on a different topic and in a certain way.

The one that made a lasting impression was Day 8 — Preparing the Way. It helped me take a step back and really think about who and what I am preparing for. It’s not to say the movies, the decorating, the baking need to come to a screeching halt. But, rather, using those times of preparation to be a reminder that we really doing is preparing for Jesus to enter our lives. When we are looking at Christmas lights – saying a prayer that God will help shine our light and bring others to Jesus. When we *finally* got out our nativity sets – saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the real gift this season, the gift that changed the course of human history – the birth of our King.

If your Advent hasn’t quite been what you have been longing for, don’t give up hope. There is still plenty of time to slow down and be present. Don’t let the devil convince you otherwise. Allow your Advent to be Advent, so your Christmas and be Christmas.

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Bridget AschoffComment
Cherishing (Most of) The Moments

One thing I love about living in a smaller town is the sense of community we have. This past Friday evening we went to the high school football game to cheer on our team (and also…let’s be honest…get the kids out of the house and burn off some energy). Our oldest found some friends and went off to run and play while my husband and I tried to corral the two younger yahoos. Although…the youngest kept getting her baby jeggings caught in the bottom part of the fence wire, so for a while she was held hostage, which wasn’t all bad.

“M” was doing her baby thing and crawling as quickly as she could, only to pause (very briefly) kick her leg out and spin on her hip, changing her momentum to catapult herself in the opposite direction, almost causing a hungry teen to spill his nachos (his swift feet still amaze me, I’m not sure how he managed to miss tripping over her!). As we were giggling over the near disaster, another mom came up and shared the “cherish every moment, they grow up so fast,” advice to me. I know people mean well, but when you’re running off of 3 hours of sleep, trying to console a teething baby, another who woke up twice with nightmares, and still another who just hates sleep (how is this my child?!) … the “cherish every moment,” is a hard pill to swallow. I get it. They’re little. They’re squishy. They’re very cute (and of course, I’m biased because I helped make them). But sometimes that phrase rubs me the wrong way. To me, (especially when I’m sleep deprived and a little bitter over the lack of said sleep) it makes it seem like parenting at this phase is “easy” and everything is cupcakes and rainbows because they’re so itty bitty and precious.

Truth be told, I’m looking forward to a full nights rest one day.

I’m looking forward to not spending 10 minutes chopping up grapes before dinner so my daughters don’t choke on them, only to have half of them thrown on the floor for me to pick up (or forget to pick up until they’ve become raisins) later.

I’m looking forward to not having to wrestle my children into their carseats every time I want to leave the house. When we can just hop in and go, without having to plan an extra 20 minutes of “pack up” time. Let’s not even get started on the abomination that is winter where after you’ve finally arrived at your destination, you have to use all your might to squeeze each of them into a puffy, warm coat before entering the frigid cold air. Man, I’m breaking a sweat just thinking about it.

I’m looking forward to pawning off cleaning the toilets to one of my offspring. I’ve done my time, now it’s yours. Scrubby, scrubby!

I’m looking forward to them being able to articulate what’s wrong when they don’t feel well, so I can help them feel better.

I’m looking forward to going on a date with my husband and not having to find a sitter.

I’m looking forward to not watching annoying children’s cartoons. Every. Single. Day.

This past weekend, I also got a glimpse into the beauty of watching our children grow up as our oldest sat on the floor playing with his sisters, opened his arms, and asked them “Wanna snuggle?” And both of them instantly leaned into him, wrapped their arms around him and they hugged. For a moment there was no fighting over toys, there was no screaming absurd animal noises as they chase each other in another round of “predator and prey,” (we watch a lot of National Geo., remember?) and my husband and I could just look at them and marvel at their innocence and love for one another.

I’m looking forward to watching my children grow into kind, compassionate, caring individuals. Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t that what we all want as moms? The process is bitter-sweet and the gradual letting go and watching them gain their own independence and freedom, when they no longer need mom to “Wipe my butt! I pooped!” or “Can we snuggle before bed?”, can be heart wrenching.

I have no idea (yet) what it’s like to parent a child whose been excluded from the birthday party, or the child who didn’t make the team, or the child who is going through puberty. Those will be challenging, not doubt about it. Honestly, whatever phase of parenting you’re in, it’s hard because it’s uncharted territory and we all just want to do the best we can.

So, for all you veteran moms reading this who find themselves in a state of lethargy remembering the days of chubby cheeks and the sweet smell of a clean baby after bath…

Instead of encouraging those of us who are “in the trenches” (as I’ve heard it described before) with “cherish these moments, they grow so fast,” offer us a smile, an encouraging word, and a cup of coffee (maybe an extra shot of espresso). Because those chubby cheeks you see just might be hiding gums that are cutting one year molars and bath night was caused by the spaghetti dinner that ended up more on them and the walls than in their bellies. Yes, we are cherishing these moments, but there’s also a lot to look forward to. Tell us about all of the great things to come, share your wisdom with us. No phase of parenting is better than another (maybe some are more enjoyable, but all are important). All have their challenges. All have their joys.

Bridget AschoffComment
All in a Summer

I’m not sure why I thought I would have more time to write this summer. I thought I’d have more down time, more time to write, more time to just… be. WRONG. This summer has been great, but boy has it been full! I’m going to take a little break from my flash-back story to give a current-day-recap on what Claire’s been up to lately, because this girl…she continues to amaze and inspire me.

Summertime seems to be the time we see a significant amount of improvement with Claire. Usually, I think it’s the opposite with most kids. Which, I suppose, shouldn’t surprise me that Claire does this backwards, because … well.. that’s just how Claire rolls.

From time to time, Claire comes out of no-where with a new skill and it takes me by surprise. It’s in those moments that I’m reminded that while she isn’t able to verbally communicate with us much yet, she is soaking things in. Because we don’t get a lot of feedback from her and her milestones take quite a while to achieve, it’s very easy for me to get stuck in the rut of treating her more as a baby instead of a toddler; she is three after all. And then these moments happen. Her mind is able to have a breakthrough and I’m reminded, once again, she is capable of more than I can imagine and we need to continuously feed her information so that when she’s ready to show us a new skill, she can shine.

One day in early June, as I was changing yet another dirty diaper (note: she tried to crawl away from me as quickly as possible, but my mom ninja skills caught up to her and I was able to strap her down quickly enough to get the soiled diaper exchanged for a crisp clean one) I saw her pointing and heard her making some sounds. I had to be cautious not to give it away that I was catching on to what was happening because if I showed any sign of excitement, I knew she would stop immediately. I continued to clean up her diaper and focused a little more on her teeny little voice as I heard her say in her quiet yet high pitched tone …”eeee,” “orrr,” “iiiiii,” “iixxxx,”…

OH MY GOSH! She was counting!! All the way to eight! I forgot that I should not get excited and show her how impressed I was and I called for my husband. “Honey! I think she’s counting!” He rushed into the room to listen and sure enough…complete silence as Claire gave us nothing but a blank stare, rolled over, and went back to her Nemo book. Whatever. I heard it. I knew what she was doing, and we would be listening for it to happen again.

Over the next few days, she was quiet, but eventually she caved and started counting again. Not only are these new words for her (although, unless you speak “Claire” you may not realize it), but it showed us she can grasp the concept of counting and sequencing. She’s started counting out toys (preferably her plastic pineapple slices), pictures of items on pages, and will count out how many people are sitting at the dinner table. I’m tearing up as I write this because of how incredibly proud I am of her accomplishment.

And the pride continues…

I’ll be the first to admit, my kids watch more T.V. than I’d like them to. But a lot of times, it’s the only way I can get breakfast ready or dinner made, without tripping over someone, stepping on a tiny hand or foot, or having to play “what’s your favorite shark in the ocean” (for the 50th time that day). One of Claire’s new favorite shows is “Color Crew”. Here’s the run down. It’s another annoying kids show, the crayons color pictures, and the only word a crayon can speak is it’s color (ex: Red Crayon can only say “red”). Claire has this thing for cartoon characters who don’t speak real words. She LOVES minions and Snoopy and anything that makes annoyingly loud high pitched sounds. So pretty much this show is prefect for her. While it’s not my favorite thing to watch, it keeps her attention and low and behold, it helped her with another break through. One day while watching “Color Crew” she starts pointing at the crayons on the screen:

“uueee,” (blue) “reee,” (green) “ooh,” (yellow) “oorrraa” (orange). WHAT! We’ve been labeling and talking about colors for a while now, but I had no idea she knew them and could label them. Mind. Blown. Now that she’s shown us she knows them, she likes to pretend she “doesn’t” know them and calls “yellow,” “blue” as she smirks. She’s such a little turkey!

Those two things alone would have been enough to keep my spirits and hopes high for a while, but she didn’t stop there. Last summer Claire started walking with (a lot of) support, whether it was holding our hands or cruising the furniture. I was quite optimistic that by October of last year she could be walking on her own. Fast forward to now (10 months later), and she still isn’t – which is okay. She’s made progress and we’ve seen her exhibit skills that show us her muscles are getting stronger. For the longest time when my husband and I would try to convince her (coax with M&Ms even) to walk to us, she’d take one half-hearted step and then fall face forward (laughing all the while because don’t we all love face planting into the carpet?!). To her it was game, not a chance to improve, so we kind of stopped for a while.

Well…over the last few weeks, she’s decided it’s no longer much of a game, but a way to get from point A to point B much faster. She’s started testing her boundaries with going from one piece of furniture to the next, taking a few steps independently to get here. Ok, maybe she was ready to walk to us now! We tried again (sans M&Ms) and the little stinker took 7 consecutive steps! At one point she even lost her balance a bit, got into a deep squat, and was able to stand herself back up unassisted (we’ve never seen her do that before!). I’m sure squeals, yells, cheers, and clapping could be heard half way across town. We were elated! Her face was beaming with pride! She has quite a ways to go yet before she’s walking independently, but she’s headed in the right direction.

It takes Claire a long time to master a skill. I feel defeated at times when I see other kids her age running around and having full-on conversations with people. I get frustrated. And then she swoops in with something amazing that reminds me that God is in control. It’s all on His time, and I have to trust. One of my favorite Bible verses presses on my heart. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

I can’t give up hope for what I desire her future to hold. I can’t quit teaching her things, even if it seems like it’s not soaking in because I never know when she’s going to show off that she knows it. There are no limits to what she can achieve, even if it takes a painfully long time for it to come to fruition.

It’s been a full summer. It’s been a summer filled with trips to the park, splash pads, the zoo, eating sand, digging in the dirt (and licking rocks…it’s a Claire thing), and long walks around town as a family. This summer has been one filled with many blessings and in a week, she’ll be starting the early intervention preschool through our district. I can’t wait to see what she will accomplish with the care and direction of her teachers (who have already exceeded my expectations in their attentiveness to her this summer) and classmates. I know there will be some growing pains as she adjusts to new schedules and a more structured learning environment, but I’m confident she’ll have a year filled with lots of new learning and personal growth.

Bridget AschoffComment
Booger or Grape?

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it feels like no matter what you do, how much coffee you drink, or how many pep-talks you give yourself, you still wind up exhausted, defeated, and unmotivated? That was my week last week. And it was not fun. And so I’m going to tell you about it because that’s what feels right for an entry this week.

Last week wasn’t difficult because it was riddled with doctors appointments or a jam-packed schedule. It sucked simply because that’s how life is sometimes. Sometimes the mundane, the daily grind of life, is hard.

It started with spring. Finally–spring had sprung. The weather warmed up, the birds started chirping, and at last we could play outside. And pollen. Why do I always forget how incredibly awful spring is for me when the first buds on the trees bloom? I get so excited for the beautiful colors, the signs of new life, and how it stays brighter longer. And what thanks do I get for my glorified idea of spring…itchy, watery eyes, a raw, runny nose, a sand paper scratchy throat, and plain misery. I haven’t even been able to wear my contacts for 7 days because I keep itching my eyes, which irritates my contacts, dries out my eyes, and removes any makeup I attempted to throw on. Instead, I’ve been wearing my 7 year old glasses which are not up to current prescription, have bite marks on the frames from the dog, and a certain *someone* (cough almost 3 year old) found them on my night stand and decided to see how far she could bend them before they snapped. Apparently, they are (were) quite bendy because they didn’t snap, but now they do a nice little crooked side-tilt when I try to fold them up. So my eyes are red and blood shot, my nose is dripping like a faucet, I sinus pressure up the wazoo, and no relief because I’m too paranoid to take any kind of medicine while nursing the baby.

Speaking of the baby, she must have thought mother nature wasn’t doing a good enough job tormenting me with allergies, so she took matters into her own hands. On Wednesday evening we met up with my side of the family to get some ice cream and bid farewell to my oldest bro and his wife who were in town visiting. You’d think that after letting her smother her face in my ice cream, practically devouring the cone in her chubby little hands, she’d at least be a little well behaved on the way home. Wrong-o. There is no soothing this child when she cuts teeth. Out of our three children, she has the lowest pain tolerance, and she is by far, the slowest teether of them all. Makes for a great combination. So, for thirty minutes, my teething third born wailed the entire way home. I’m not sure there’s a worse place to be stranded with a crying baby than inside a car. Ok, well maybe stranded inside a plane would be worse. Either way, there’s no escaping, and it’s terrible.

When we finally arrived home, I was quick to unload her from her car seat and get her PJs on because it was way past her bedtime. Surely our night time routine would help calm her down. Wrong again. On this particular night, after my patience was already quite thin from listening to her cry the whole way home, my darling baby decided this would be the perfect night to bite mom for the first time while nursing. If you’ve ever experienced this…I don’t need to go into the details of the trauma. If you’ve never experienced this…you don’t want me to go into the details of the trauma. So I’ll just leave it at that.

My husband was gone several nights last week with coaching, leaving me to wrangle the cowboy and cowgirls solo for dinners, baths, and bed. The hours of 6:00-8:00PM take on a whole new level of torment when attempting to tackle it alone. Dante’s 10th level of hell.

All of this lead up to Friday night when I was officially over it. I had hit my max. Let me tell you how it happened…

Friday started at about 2:00AM when the 5 year old woke up sick. Both ends – catch my drift? That lasted until about 3:30. At 6:30 we made the executive decision to keep sick kid home. Sick kid woke up acting fine (because he was suppose to go to the zoo that day, so he was overly eager to show us he was “Good! I’m good!”). Fast-foward to 8:00AM when he puked all over himself inside the van. Yeah, NOT good.

Luckily we had spare clothes to change into, but there was no escaping the stench. Again I was trapped inside my vehicle for the treacherous thirty minute haul home. Thirty long, miserable minutes we inhaled the smell of spoiled milk and graham crackers as it permeated off the seats and floor mats. Not even putting the windows down helped much.

By the end of the day Friday, my energy: physically, emotionally, mentally…was tapped out. Rock bottom was 7:15PM. The baby was wailing (again), so I thought “Ok, let’s try a bath.” No sooner had I started the bath water and I hear “MOOOOOM can you come wipe me?” from the child who was still battling a bit of a stomach virus.

Naked baby in a football hold, we march down the hall. On the way down, I notice something on my leg, so I wipe it off. And, without thinking, put it directly into my mouth. WHY?!?! I’ve lost my mind.
It was green.
It was slimy.
It was a little bit stringy.
I could think of two things: booger or grape. Either were fair game.

I caught a slight hint of flavor before I forced myself to choke it down, thanking God it was indeed a grape left over from dinner, and not the other gooey substance it could have easily been. I was desperate for bedtime, to punch in the clock and be done with the week.

I’m not sharing this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’ve got Jesus, coffee, and a bottle of Stella Rosa – I’m good. I share this because while I know these young years are precious, and I do cherish many of these times of my children’s sweetness and innocence, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.

You can’t have the chubby cheek, toothy grin, without going through the pains of that baby teething.
You can have the sweet, tranquil moments of snuggling without enduring the tantrums and meltdowns.
You can’t have comfort of knowing you are needed without having to help them wipe themselves after going potty.

Years down the road when I look back at this phase of life, I know I will miss some things, but there are also going to be things about this phase I’m definitely not going to miss. Last week was a good reality check for me to be able to find the few good things that happened, even though I felt like I had to look really hard, and also remind myself that just like every phase in life, “this too shall pass.”

Good Friday

My mind and my heart have been heavy with the weight of Holy Week, and so writing something about Claire’s journey didn’t seem quite right. So instead, I thought we could dig a little deeper together and reflect on the agony, suffering, and undeserved grace God gives us today. The day He was beaten, spit on, mocked, and killed so that we could have the chance to truly live.

Maybe it’s human nature, but it seems like we try to dodge any kind of pain or suffering that comes our way. It’s uncomfortable. It hurts. It’s not pleasant. Instead of embracing those challenges and carrying up our cross like Jesus did on Good Friday, we run, we hide, we complain.

Why me?
Why my family?
Why this suffering?
It’s not fair.

A dear friend of mine loaned me a book called Getting Past Perfect by Kate Wicker. Another one of our friends is in line to read it next, so I can’t hold on to it for months pretending like I’ve cracked it open. And I actually have to read it, too, because I know we’ll be talking about it and CliffNotes isn’t going to be able to dig me out of this one. So, last night after everyone in my house was asleep  (except me of course) by 8:30 (a miracle!) I picked up the book for the first time and was captivated from the start. Within the introduction there is a quote by Mother Angelica. The timing was perfect (or maybe it’s my heart was open and ready to receive) for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Her quote resonated so deeply with me, I had to stop reading for a while to really let the words sink in.

“Holiness is not for wimps and the cross is not negotiable, sweetheart, it’s a requirement.”

No one is promised a life free of suffering, free of heartache, or free of pain. So, why do we think that it should be? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I WANT to suffer or see my kids suffer or watch my family suffer. But why should I be spared? If Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, humbled Himself to come down to Earth and live like us in all ways but sin, if even HE had to suffer…why should I be granted a “get out of jail free” card?
Today we remember the day Jesus was beaten with whips purposefully made to break the skin, dig in, grab onto, and rip apart his flesh… He was spit on, mocked, yelled at, ridiculed.  A crown of thorns was meticulously made and then forcefully pushed down on his head cutting into his flesh. He was stripped of his clothes and dignity. His feet and hands were pierced as pound after pound a hammer drove the nails through his skin and he was nailed to the cross.

For you.
For me.

This realization brings me to my knees. It takes my breath away. It makes my stomach hurt. The tears well up in my eyes and start sliding down my face as I think about all He endured for the sake of our salvation. It’s hard to fathom that He would suffer all of this so that we could be saved. What’s even harder to wrap my mind around is that even if the world only consisted of me… or only consisted of you … He would still choose to endure all of that pain and suffering if it meant our souls could be saved. What kind of love is this? How great. How powerful. How indescribably beautiful.

Today we remember His suffering and death, and let’s not let it pass without carving out some time (even if it’s staying in the bathroom for a few extra minutes to escape the never ending “MOOOOM!!” and tiny hands sneaking under the door) to reflect, to pray, and to thank God for the gift of His son. Our lives are not free of hardship or struggles, and neither was Christ’s. Let’s take time today to be cognizant of those crosses we have been given. Let’s pick them up and place them on our shoulders as we walk next to Jesus on His road to Calvary. The road will be hard. The cross will get heavy. We will stumble. We will fall. We will cry out in pain. But when we offer up our suffering, uniting ours with His, and lay our pains, our burdens down at the feet of Jesus on the cross, suddenly our circumstances that aren’t fair and that don’t seem right can have purpose and meaning. He can take the pain, the heartache, the tribulations and turn them into salvation for souls.

What are some sacrifices, some crosses, you can carry with Jesus up to Calvary today?

Bridget AschoffComment
He's Five and He Farts

“So, what are you going to accomplish now that you are five?!” I eagerly asked our birthday boy this morning as we were getting ready for school and daycare.

“Who cares!” he giggled back, proceeded by climbing up on my lap (while I was nursing his sister) followed by more giggles, a fart, and more giggles.

“Did you really just climb up on my lap to fart on me?!”


I’m pretty sure that means he loves me.

And that’s how we started our day with a new five year old. Some friends (who also have kids turning five this year) and I have talked about how five seems like such a milestone birthday. Their faces have slimmed and they’ve lost most of the chub from those squishy baby cheeks. Their toddler bellies have gone from looking like a 30 year old man who’s had one too many beers, to being a little more stretched out as their bodies have elongated and grown.

It’s easy to feel a little sad. I know, I know…some people with grown children, or teenage children will think “Oh, five is still so little!” And it is. But, it’s the oldest he’s ever been…it seems so bitter-sweet! I’m looking at him and I’m marveling at how quickly five years have gone. And I’m so so thankful to have had those years. So many snuggles, tantrums, scraped knees, and sweet memories.

I look at him and can hardly believe how well he articulates himself, and how conversations have become so much more…interesting. Before bedtime the other night, this conversation caught me off guard just about as quickly as our short one this morning:

Me: It’s time to say your bed time prayers.
H: I don’t want to.
Me: It’s important that we do. If not, Jesus might be sad.
H: Jesus is dead.

Touché, young grasshopper. Any attempt of trying to explain rising from the dead is going to be way over your head right now…so…let’s say our prayers anyway.

While he might not have a clue what he wants to accomplish this year, I’ve got a few things in mind:

  1. Learn to go up and down the steps with every other foot…PLEASE!

  2. Take a few risks…like putting your shoes on by yourself

  3.  Continue being the kind, gentle, sensitive, *sometimes naughty*, boy we have been blessed to raise.

Happy birthday to our big guy who loves his family and friends, Jesus (even though he’s dead), sprinkled donuts, Culver’s ice cream, but most of all…who loves all things National Geographic. May this year bring you many times to listen, learn, and love.

Bridget AschoffComment
Call the Police

Last week at school, our son got to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Yeah, the dead guy gets an entire week! Throughout the week, each day had a special theme. Like every well intentioned mom, I had taken a peek at the piece of red construction paper his teacher sent home so I could be prepared for each day and escape any reprimands from my all-too-articulate-4.5 year old.

And….like every *well* intentioned mom, I forgot. Most days I could piece things together:  First day was hat day (borrowed one from grandma’s collection of things that never get thrown away incase we need them one day—score!), next PJ day (easy), mismatch day (Mom-red is a crazy color, right? I’ll wear a red shirt…crushed it!)…and then there was Thursday.

“Who do you want to be when you grow up?”

Crap. Forgot about that one. Now, to my defense, I did text a few friends asking if they happened to have any police officer costumes collecting dust in their kids’ closets from Halloween. But no luck. Hence – I forgot.

Praise the good Lord I happened to have a police officer hat; meltdown at 6:45AM avoided. A hat, a pair of ankle high gray sweat pants, and a blue shirt. Good enough.

That day his teachers had the students draw a portrait of themselves as their desired career. The picture posted is our son as a police officer. He’s in blue (cuz blue’s a good guy color, Mom). If you look closely enough, there is another person in this picture. So, naturally, I want to find out more.

Whenever he brings home his artwork I always ask him to “tell me about what you drew” (because 90% of the time I have no clue what it is). His response to this particular masterpiece goes as follows:

H: Oh, that’s me. With my police officer hat.
Me: Tell me about the other person in the picture.
H: Yeah, that’s a bad guy… I’m taking him to jail…It’s probably Claire.
Me: *Face Palm*

Naturally, I kept it.

Sorry, sis.

police officer henry.jpg
Bridget AschoffComment
No Turning Back

Well, I guess there’s no goin’ back now. I’ve got a website, took time to put a bit (bc let’s be honest, I’m far from tech-savvy) of a personal touch to it, and away we go! Buckle up, put on your helmet, knee & elbow pads, and whatever else you might need as you embark on this journey called life with me (us, really…this blog is mostly about my family, so I should probably give them some credit).

First and foremost, thanks for stopping by. I hope that my posts can be somewhat inspiring, bring hope, perhaps a few laughs, and most importantly a connection/ sense of community to all who join.

A bit about me and why I’m here…writing has always been an outlet for me, and something I’ve enjoyed doing. While I’m not a super creative person (I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler, you guys), I do love being creative with writing. I love how words can ebb and flow on a page, create a rhythm, and express and convey emotion.

Once I became a mom, writing wasn’t something I made time for. I tried starting up a journal a few times, but was never really successful at keeping to it. I knew writing was sort of therapeutic for me, so one of my goals for 2018 was to journal once a week.

Twice. I journaled twice. Not a complete and utter failed attempt, right?!

But, that desire for journaling was really a seed planted. And it began to grow. And I felt God calling me to “maybe start a blog…

Uhhhh. No, thanks. Not interested. What else would you like to talk about today, God?

So this went on for a little while. I told no one. The call kept coming. I kept saying “nope,” and moved on to other prayers. Finally, after at least a month of this nonsense, a rough day came across my path. February 20th. I’ll tell you more about that day in my next post. I went to post something on Facebook about that day, and realized what I needed to say and the emotions I wanted to convey, would be way too much for a Facebook post. So I deleted it. Posted nothing. My heart still wanted to cry out and share, because I know I’m not the only one who has these kinds of days. I know we all experience days of heart ache and sometimes it just helps to have someone say “Yeah, girl, I’ve been there, too. Chin up. You’ve got this.”

And then there was that *idea*

“How about that blog? A blog would be a good place to write about that.” 

“Dang it! Ok, fine! You win! I’ll blog. You happy, now?”
*insert: fear, concern, peace of mind, questioning, peace of mind, uncertainty, peace of mind…you get the idea. I was a hot mess about this.

“Why me?,” “Would it really matter?,” “Would it make a difference?,” “Would anyone really even read it?”

While all of this was going on, and I was wrestling with my own self doubt, what I couldn’t shake or rationalize was I could feel a little weight being lifted from my shoulders (that I really didn’t realize was there) and it felt good. It felt right. Which is typically an indicator I’ve chosen the correct path.

And here we are. Me. You. The internet. We are here. Together.

Thank you for being a part of this with me. You’ll read all about the ups and downs of our life as a family. I foresee some posts being light and comical and some being heavy with emotion.  I do promise that all will be real, all will be genuine, and all will be mostly uncensored.

I hope I make it longer on here than I did with my journaling  I’ve already paid a year subscription, so I guess we’ll play this out for at least another 11 months together.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking time out of your busy life to read and learn about mine.

Bridget Aschoff