For Tiffany.

As I sat in church this week, I listened to our Pastor talk about loving one another. 
In fact, Jesus commanded that we love one another.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
John 13:34

Meet Tiffany.
My best friend.

The only person who has ever loved me as Jesus did.
Who has never judged me in all my mistakes.

We met in Kindergarten. And on her first day of school, we had a tornado drill. 
She cried & I turned around and said "Don't worry, it's just a drill!" 
And we've been friends ever since. 

But I haven't always been a good friend. In fact, there were times when I was a pretty awful and absent friend. And through it all, she's been there. waiting for me to get my act together. Shaking her head, telling me I'm wrong, and being stupid. And loving me anyway. And showing me that God loves me. 

See, I never knew God. Until I got to high school, and even then I didn't really know him. 
I didn't know I needed him or wanted him, or that he could make my life so much better.

So I used other things to fill the voids. In high school it was all about fitting in.
 Looking cool. Keeping up. 
Alcohol. Sex. Drugs. Boys. Mischief. 

I remember sitting in an assembly once and I turned to a friend on one side of me and said, "watch this".. then every time Tiffany would start to talk I made a loud noise or said shut-up or be quiet and pretended to be really mad at her. She got upset and we laughed about it.  

I used to say some pretty awful things, because I thought I was being honest and that's the best policy right? No... you're opinion is never honesty or truth, it's your opinion and more often than not, it needs to be kept to yourself. Especially if you're a teenage girl in high school.

I can't believe I'm owning up to these because it makes me so sick to think about. 
I was really a mean girl. 
And it's funny because I'm not sure many people would remember that about me except my close friends... because they're the ones I hurt the most. 

Have you been there?
 I'd like to say I wish I hadn't but now I know how much of me has grown from there. But, I'm not at all proud and sometimes it makes me sick to my stomach.
I was an awful person. An awful friend.
To many good people, and good friends.

But mostly to Tiffany. 
Because it was easy. 
Because she loved me like Jesus loved me. Because no matter what I did or said, she was still a good friend to me. She never walked away, she never left me out to dry. She gave me a million and one second chances to be a better friend.

So, to you Tiffany, I want to say thank you.
Thank you for giving me a million and one second chances.
Thank you for giving me shelter when I had no where to go (literally!).
Thank you for being there for me whenever I have fallen.
Thank you for reminding me of lighter things when all I could see was darkness.
Thank you for being there when I found Jesus.
Thank you for reminding me that he is always there whenever I have forgotten. 
Thank you for putting up with me.
Thank you for all the nights and days like these filled with so many laughs and tears.

Thank you for being the most caring, loving, self-less, & giving person I have ever known. 

Please don't ever forget how amazing you are and know that you have impacted my life a thousand times over. 

I love you.


January Cara Box Reveal!

This was my first month participating in the Cara Box exchange and I am so happy I did! If you haven't yet, make sure you head over to Wifessionals and sign up for next month's exchange!! 

Cara Box

This month I was paired with Maddie from A Tinge of Whimsy, and Samantha over at Hooah and Hiccups! Can I just say, that my favorite part of this whole ordeal has been getting to know these two awesome women. 

Each month comes with a theme, and each box should reflect that in some way. For January, the theme was Resolutions. 

Maddie didn't really have any resolutions, but goals for herself.. So I sent her some goodies to help her out with that! 

As for me, my #1 resolution for 2013 is to spend more time with my family. Quality time.
Samantha sent me these lovely gifts and I Looooove them! The hardest part will be choosing a picture for my new frame!


How cute are her notecards and bloggy business cards??!

P.S. My husband had a run-in with a few margaritas last week and puked... all over my car!! So after scouring the inside with bleach, vinegar and detergent.. it is clean but smells just a tad awkward. That air freshener will be super useful (and it smells soooo good!)

FREE Blogger Opportunity


Jenn's Blah Blah Blog, Pink Ninja Media and Happy Home and Family bring you a fabulous FREE Blogger Opportunity!
One lucky winner will recieve $200 prize of their choice. Kindles, Gift Cards, Toys, Cash, Anything They WANT up to $200! If they want it, and win this giveaway we will get it for them. (we are looking at adding 2 more winners, which will receive the same prize, just different amount. We are trying to work out all the details now.)
Bloggers get One FREE Link, additional links will be $3, co-host spots available
Giveaway will begin on February 15, 2013 and run an entire month.


A Happy Birthday GIVEAWAY!!

I have had the absolute pleasure of being paired with Samantha from Hooah and Hiccups for this month's Cara Box exchange. I love that she is a military spouse just like me and our lives are so relatable - Seriously, I could read her blog for days and find myself cracking up at the most ridiculous things because they are all too familiar!

Anyway, she's awesome and her blog is a must read.
Annnnd it's her birthday!
Being as sweet as she is, she is GIVING away the most awesome gift ever.

So, without further adieu...

Happy Birthday Samantha!!

I absolutely love celebrating birthdays; I love getting all dolled up and celebrating the day loved ones, family, and friends made their way into the world. 

Well ladies, at the end of the week, yours truly will be 26! I know what you're thinking,   I'm one year closer to 30. But to me, it's only going up hill from here! I've been so blessed and these past few years have truly reminded me of that. 

So to celebrate my birthday, I've teamed up with 28 other amazing girls to bring you one of my favorite things.
 photo birthdaycollage_zps3570f226.jpg

If there's one thing I CAN'T live without, it's my Keurig. Ask my husband, if I don't have my coffee in the morning, it's not pretty. So now one of YOU will be winning one! 

I haven't tried the new Starbucks Verismo but if you would like to choose that instead, your wish is my command.

Not only can you drink coffee with these babies, but you can drink tea, hot chocolate, etc. So even if you're not a coffee junkie, there's something for everyone!

Still not interested? How about winning the CASH instead? Excited now?!

Just enter the rafflecopter below and cross your fingers! Contest will remain open until Friday, February 1st at 12:00 a.m. EST and the winner will be announced once all entries are verified. 

Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Cookie Making Flashback.

So the other day, I was making these delicious bad boys:

...while this adorable bad boy ordered me around the kitchen,
and the other monster napped.

 I used one of these "old-fashioned" things:

All the while, I day-dreamt about this baby! 

And as I was drooling over daydreaming about the KitchenAid, I started reminiscing.

I remember countless sleepovers with my girlfriends which ALWAYS involved a batch or two of snickerdoodle cookies. The most delicious cookie ever.
(Here is a great recipe)

We always made them from complete scratch (still my favorite way to make cookies). No mixes, no pre-made dough. And we would add the ingredients one by one and takes turns mixing... WITH A FORK!! I remember my arms getting tired from the dough being so hard to mix sometimes. But man, I wanted to mix that cookie dough. We would argue about who got to mix the dough next and you bet your bottom dollar I pitched a fit if one of my girlfriends got to mix it longer (Hey, we play even steven around here!) Those were the days! and probably the moments that instilled in me a love for baking.

So, I'm on a mission to make sure my kids have moments like those. I want them to make cookies like I did and fight over who gets to mix the dough next and lick cookie dough from the forks that just made their arms feel like jello. I want them to be covered in flour after it flies in their face as they try to mix. I want them to enjoy bites of cookie dough that THEY made! I want them to have those memories.

That being said, I still want that kitchen aid - So, if you see my husband, let him know =)


Coming Soon: Dear Ash

Hopefully, you saw my Facebook post earlier this week with the following message:

I've LOVED "Dear Abby" ever since I was little! Although her column still lives on in her Daughter's hands, the original Dear Abby, aka Pauline Phillips, passed away last week =( RIP

She was witty and wise all at the same time!

Sooooo, I'm super excited to announce... As a Tribute to one of my writing idols, I will be starting a Friday night series, "Dear Ash" !!!!!

I'll obviously need your help, so please send me all your questions, curiosities, and life wonders! Let's see what we can tackle!

Please message or e-mail: laugh_with_ash@yahoo.com

I am soooooo beyond excited about this. And I know what you're thinking.. What business do I - a 20-something, relatively un-exeperienced mother and wife- have writing an advice column? Probably no business at all. But I'm here, with two good ears for listening, eyes for reading, and hands for typing. My mind is clear and my opinion is unbiased, as I have never met you. I have three passions in life: writing, helping others, and laughing.. so it seems to me that they just all go hand-in-hand on this one.  

I'm not promising to give you the best worldly and wise advice, and I'm not promising to answer ALL your questions. I'm just promising to put my whole heart into this and have a little bit of fun writing and responding to whatever matters are on your heart. I hope you'll help me get started so we can go live next week. 

So Please, seriously.. send me your questions.
Help a girl out!

If all goes well, Dear Ash will become a Friday night mainstay on this blog.

"Dear Abby: I joined the Navy to see the world. I've seen it. Now, how do I get out?

Dear Navy: Simple. Go to your superior officer and say these 2 words: I'm Gay."

(Not so much anymore! But still made me laugh =) ) 


What Others Think..

How much do you care about what others think?
I used to think I cared a lot.

I thought. 

Pre-mommy era, I used to get all dazzled and fuss with my hair and make-up. I would throw countless outfits on the ground after trying and re-trying them on trying to find a perfect match. And when that didn't work out, I would drain my bank account at the mall on something that worked.

And why?

Because I had to fit in ...Because that's what was "in"...Because if I didn't, who would be my friend. ha.
...Because what would they say about me if my hair was messy, or my clothes were sooo 2005?!
...Because I didn't want to be judged.

And then reality hit me one day. 
I am the judge.
 I am the Mean Girl that I spent hours getting ready for. 
I am the girl that criticized and laughed when my outfits didn't match or fit just right. 
Me. I did that. 

Not because I cared about what anyone else was thinking of me, but because I cared about what I was thinking of me.

Please don't read this wrong. I did all those things for me.
 For my thoughts and opinions. For my self-esteem.
It never mattered what anyone else thought. What mattered is what I thought, which turns out to be exactly what I thought they were thinking ... tracking?

If you're worried about your hair looking a hot mess and everyone chatting about how a bird could lay an egg up there.. it's probably because
1. Your hair really looks like that,
2. You know you're hair looks like that
3. You hate that your hair looks like that!

Really, no one gives a donkey's behind about your messy hair, you do.
And you should.

Now I'm not saying you need to primp and style everyday and I'm not even saying you can't have messy hair, hell sometimes i think my messy hair is sexy and I do it on purpose.
I'm saying, you should be comfortable with however you do your hair/make-up/outfit etc.
You should feel good about yourself.


It's important that I am my own critic and that I set standards and expectations for myself.
(Even if that means establishing "nice" yoga pants and "bum" pants...
yes, one for the public, one for home)
They keep me sane, motivated and happy with myself.
But they're mine, for me and nobody else.

So for those of you still worrying, here is my piece of advice.
Be comfortable. Be who you want to be. Don't stop being your own critic.
And don't be anyone else's critic.


Did you Hear the News?!

We're moving back to the United States!!!

Sometime this fall, we'll be South Carolina bound. I am just freaking ecstatic!

While I love Japan, 3 years is enough. 

Here are the things I'm most excited for:

Not having to ask this question! Though in Japanese it looks something like this: 
英語が話せますか? - Sounds something like - Eigo ga Wakarimaska?

 Target!!! With real shopping carts and fitting rooms, ahhh.

 A real grocery store. One that doesn't close at 6pm on weekend and is open every day of the week! 
(I realize there will be no Meijer where I'm headed, but I'm sure I'll find the equivalent =) )

&& My family will be just a 13 hour drive away! Road Trips woop woop!

That being said, there are still millions of things I'd like to do and see here in Okinawa before we leave. Guess I should start my bucket list now! 

Anyone going to be in my neck of the woods? 


How I Met Your Father.

My husband re-enlisted in the United Sates Marine Corps this week, and I could not be more proud. I am so proud to be standing beside such a dedicated, loyal, caring and well respected man. 
He's something = )

The truth is though, I can't believe we're already here.
At this point. 
Married, two kids, re-enlisting, PCSing soon.
Seriously.. when did that happen?

Seems like just yesterday we were strangers falling in love. 
Okay, so maybe this isn't exactly how I'll explain it to my kids one day, 
but here's how it all began....

I was 18, just twelve days after my high school graduation when I left my own military training.  I was off to Basic Training for the United States Air Force in Texas. I signed my life away the summer before my senior year. Turns out it wouldn't be my whole life =) I was scared, nervous, excited. 
I survived. and Honestly I would love to share stories from my boot camp experience but so much of it is blurred by the sleepness nights and endless marching that I don't remember much. I have a few short memories, but for the most part, those weeks remain a fuzzy haze. 

(P.S. I can't tell you how many of my friends probably don't even know that. But, here's proof.)

Tom and I at Tech School

After Basic, I moved right across the street.. literally - for more training.  I was lucky in that a few friends of mine from basic would be in my tech school. Tom, was one of the first people I met when I got to Basic on that first night and she quickly became my wingman in tech school. 

She's a character. Borderline crazy, but awesome nonetheless. We did everything together. 
(I should probably dedicate a few posts to some of those crazy stories later.) Anyway, like normal 18year old girls that just spent the last two months with 60 other woman 24/7... we we're a little boy crazy. Just a little. 

Tom's brother was a Marine at the time, and I can't tell you how many times she told me that we needed to find the Marines on base. Though it was an Air Force base, she swore there had to be some somewhere. I wasn't so sure.. and how do you find them anyway?

Turns out, they just find you. And you really can't miss them. It's the hair... or something?
We went bowling one night and a few guys ended up taking the lane next to us. (My husband has since told me that they actually requested that lane in hopes of getting lucky with the girls occupying the other half. Sly move.. sly move.) I don't remember my husband much from that night, other than him telling me he was from Michigan - being from Ohio, I obviously got excited about someone being close to home, but I had never heard of his town so that quickly faded. 

Tom ended up hitting it off with one of the guys, got his number, made plans, started talking... you know the drill. I was less enthused. But they made plans for a weekend and she was trying to get me to go with her (we couldn't go anywhere alone). She was meeting up with this guy and his roommate downtown for a date and since the other guy "thought I was cute" I needed to go.. she says. 
What other guy? (There were a few the night we went bowling) 
.. The one from Michigan... 
No thank you, he's too short. (Apparently the only other thing I remembered about him from that night),  and so she told him.

He said I should go %&#(*% myself.  Sweet, isn't he?

But Tom couldn't find anyone to go and I couldn't let her go alone, so we went. 
And we split almost immediately after meeting up with the guys. 
My night was slightly awkward. 

The only picture I have of us in Texas:
it's awkward, I know... but it sums up so much.

Until he took me on a boat ride and used his sweet talk.
Don't let my husband fool you now with his harsh words and bad ass attitude... he's a total softy.
Always has been. 

And the rest is really history. We hit it off and kept talking, seeing each other every weekend until he left to his new duty station in CA. Granted, that was only a month later. I stayed in Texas for two more months after that and went back to Ohio where I was a part of a National Guard unit and started college.  

Lucky for us, our home towns are only about 2 hours apart. So between me going to CA to see him and him coming home on leave, we were able to see each other about every 2-3 months. Now that we're married and he's stuck with me forever it's REALLY great that our hometowns are so close.. I could not imagine trying to visit family if we were from further states.

First visit...

It worked. And after I got out of the military (the only thing keeping me in Ohio), I got a job at a summer camp and moved to California. 
My husband proposed that summer, we got married a month later and in just over a year we moved to Japan and had our first baby. How crazy. And now we have two. 
Just nuts.

It still blows my mind to think about the way that everything in my life has aligned so perfectly to bring me to here and now. And how completely happy I am with that, even though I know 6 years I would have called myself insane. 


Afraid of the Dark

Hi, My name is Ashlee.
I'm 23 years old and I'm afraid of the dark.


I always have been, most likely always will be. 

During my recent hospital stay, my nurse came in at 0700 for vitals and asked if I ever slept.. because she noticed that my lights and TV were on all night. After I told her what was up, she made fun of me for being a "big girl" now and still being scared. haha.

I used to need several lights on during the night but since I've been married, I've had to compromise with my husband. Now we just leave the hall light on and keep the door wide open - when he's home. 
& when he's not, I sleep on the couch with the TV and all 3 lights on! I used to keep my kids with me too but it's not fair that I subject them to my fears. So now I put them to bed in the dark.. in hopes that they don't grow up to be big scaredy cats like me.

It's extremely bad when I've watched a scary movie (which almost never happens because, well, I'ma scaredy cat!) More than once I've made my husband hold my hold through the house to get me to wherever I need to go. 

And he's such an instigator. He doesn't quite understand my fear and loves to turn lights off on me. I think he just enjoys my ridiculous reaction (which usually involves screaming like a 5 year old with tears ready to roll down my face)

The good news is.. We don't pay for electricity, thanks USMC. haha.

What are you afraid of?


Cry Now, Laugh later.

And that's just what I did.

Have you ever had cramps, or sore muscles or some unexplained pain anywhere on your body...
...And then looked it up on WebMD?

That's me. EVERY time. 

So the latest was cramping and low back pain- but it wasn't that time of the month. So what gives?

Cervical Cancer.
I was convinced.

Just so you don't think I'm completely loony, my grandmother passed away (before I ever met her) from  cervical cancer and my mother had a hysterectomy in her 30's to remove the tumors. and I had a slightly irregular pap right after Ronin, though Doc says that's fairly common in young women and during pregnancy as the immune system is low.

So, with my two symptoms, I was convinced. And I went to the doctor, totally ready for him to tell me I was dying or that I'd need surgery or chemo or whatever else.

And so as soon as he walked in, before he could even ask me what I was seeing him for, I burst into tears! 

Yes, just flat out sobbing. Embarrassing.

So my Doc, being the kind patient man that he is, says "Whoa, what's up?"
And I could barely squeeze out that I was just scared.

And it went like this:

Doc: (slight smirk on his face) Have you been reading WebMD?
Me: (Nod - Still sobbing)
Doc: And you think you have Cervical Cancer?
Me: (Sob Harder)
Doc: (Laughs)

Yeah... only a little embarrassing. How did he know me so well?!

Probably TMI but to drive the point home:
We chatted and he did some blood work and a urine sample.. Mild UTI. 



I can only laugh now that it's over. 
And I'll probably have to hide my face from my doctor for a while.

Please tell me I'm not the only one!!!


Sponsor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY

I have had the absolute pleasure of seeing these lovely ladies on my sidebar all month! 

I am so excited they decided to join me as I got back into blogging and got everything situated! 

Here they are! 
Meet them, Stalk them, Follow them. 
Go say hi! 

They have some goodies for you!!!

Miss Lanaya from Raising Reagan 

Five Fun Facts about her:
1. I love the sound of my typing.
2. I could sit with Reagan and watch the movie Tangled over and over again.
3. I'm too organized sometimes I forget what I did with things I put away.
4. My blog was just ranked #2 Up and Coming by BlogLovin and is ranked #31 overall in Family Blogs.
5. I'm super stoked to see what 2013 is going to bring for me and my family!

And she's giving you:

60 Days of Premier ad space at Raising Reagan

(I seriously love her name. When I have a daughter, she will be named Logan. -no creepiness intended)

Five Fun Facts about her:
1. I am a coffee addict
2. All I do is read in my spare time..
3. ...which is why I created my blog in the first place - to talk about the books I have read and to discover new books.
4. I am married to the love of my life, Ryan.
5. We have a sweet maltipoo named Pippa

Miss Jennifer from Spry on the Wall

Five Fun Facts about her:
1. I earn my living as a textile designer.
2. My blog is a mix of outfit posts, runway reviews and various other style/fashion related goodies.
3. I'm addicted to pretty much every show on Bravo.
4. I love to read (make sure you check out her "books I've read" tab on my blog for reviews)
5. I'm a bargain shopper who loves a deal!

And she's giving you:

$10 Gift Card to STARBUCKS

Miss Hailey from Love, Laughter and Lipstick

Five Fun Facts about her:
1. I stay at home with my two favorite {people}
2. I drink way too much Starbucks.
3. My Tuesday nights haven't been the same since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air - Gilmore Girls was a close second.
4. I make lists for everything.
5. I have over 315 Bare Escentuals eye shadows.

And she's giving you:

$10 Sephora Reward Certificate

Five Fun Facts about her:
1. Most of the time when I eat, i can't have foods touching eachother on my plate. Turkey and Mashed potatoes can but the corn cannot tough either.
2. I've never been further west than Nebraska, but I've been to 3 European countries.
3. I work for nuns.
4. AC/DC is my favorite band.
5. The Field Museum is my favorite Chicago museum.
-And she's a Pampered Chef Consultant too, woo woo!-

And she's giving you:

This Pampered Chef Gift Pack

Miss Cat from Stuff I Love

Five Fun Facts about her:
1.  I have a degree in Drama
2.  I started the Operation Feed the Lambs project to raise money for charities dedicated to ending hunger for children.
3. I've been to a few other countries.
4.  I have just one sibling, my sister.
5. I have three pretty cool kids!

And you already know me, but I'm also giving away 30 days of REALLY REALLY BIG ad space here at Laugh with Ash!

So go on, meet my friends and enter the giveaway!