Waiting on Ella.

Eric & I at the 34 week mark with Ella, this past December.

Today I am officially 38 weeks (those of you wanting months…that’s about the full 9 months) pregnant with our second little girl, Ella Faith. We are now at the point where anytime I call my mom, mother-in-law or sisters “are you in labor?” is the very first thing said to me when they pick-up, which I don’t mind at all…so fun having a family so ready and excited with us to meet little Ella! The crib is up, the cradle is up, the super huge double jogging stroller is put together and ready to jog, the little baby carseat has been properly installed in the car…….things are ready and we are eagerly awaiting meeting our second little girl face to face anyday now!

As we wait on little Ella’s arrival, I have caught myself at times getting a little impatient wanting to just be able to hold Emma on my lap again at night as I rock her to sleep, wanting to see Emma’s reaction to baby Ella, wanting to sleep on my belly again, wanting to wear normal jeans, wanting to watch the happiness on Eric’s face as he holds our new little daughter in one arm and our joyful little Emma in his other, wanting to hold little Ella in my arms, see her precious little face, hands, toes, nose……etc. etc. etc.

Then one night recently as I was chatting with our little Emma in the rocking chair before bedtime and she climbed into the little “alcove”  (between mommy’s lap and the arm of the rocking chair) she has now become accustomed to as mommy’s belly has grown to big for her to comfortably enjoy mommy’s lap…I realized I needed to cherish these last few days of moments with our little family of three! Enjoy and be thankful for the fact that God has allowed us to have another child and has thus far given me such a healthy pregnancy, with a healthy little girl growing inside of me.

Eric & I at the 36 week point with little Emma, back in June 2010.

I told my mom just today on the phone (as I was answering her questions about if I had felt any contractions today, what the possible driving to the hospital scenarios could be, etc.) that I am not annoyed about having to wait for Ella’s arrival, I am thankful to be pregnant, thankful to have made it full term, thankful to have a wonderful hubby, the list could go on and on. I, well we (Eric, Emma, and I) are just excited about Ella’s arrival, excited to experience all the things mentioned in the above paragraph and become a little family of four!

And may I just say I am very happy that I personally know the only One who at this very moment knows the precise timing of Ella Faith’s arrival! He knows that it is not one second too early or one second too late, but rather right on His, always perfect, time schedule…and that is what allows me to enjoy these final days as we eagerly wait on our little Ella to arrive.

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Our Holiday Highlights 2011.

Okay so apparently another part of “nesting” for me is getting this blog all caught up on a few of the holiday happenings that I haven’t yet filled you all in on! We had so much fun spending time together as a family, Eric had a break from seminary and even had a good amount of time off of work in that week between Christmas and New Years, it was wonderful and we definitely made the most of our family time!

Enjoying some family time looking at Christmas lights!

We had many family trips to the park (which…have I mentioned one of my favorite things about our new place is the great park within walking distance, so great!)…and Eric had some great daddy/daughter times at the park with just Emma and daddy to give mommy some good resting time during those days off too!

Emma & Eric enjoying some time at the park!

I got to go to a Christmas Michael W. Smith (a favorite Christian singer of ours!) concert with my two sisters, it was like an orchestra concert in a beautiful concert hall, we all felt so sophisticated as we had seats right behind the orchestra, super cool!

With my dear sisters at the concert!

We had a fun filled family day going to visit my grandparents for lunch (out in California visiting for the winter) at their condo in Oceanside, then going to the bookstore in Fallbrook (our old stomping grounds…lived there our first 3 years of marriage) which is seriously the best used bookstore ever! Proof: we bought 35 books for only $8, nope not joking. We then wrapped almost all the books for Emma under our Christmas tree…she loved opening them all and reading each one as she opened it haha! Then we stopped at my parents house on our way back home for some dinner, bathtime, and playtime for Emma (my parents weren’t home at the time, but we did enjoy the Christmas decor and cozy fireplace, thanks mom and dad) it made a very nice rest stop in the middle of our family traveling day!

Emma with my grandparents in Oceanside!

Emma helped mommy with all the Christmas shopping (which was done before Christmas break started for everyone that week before Christmas….so I feel I beat the Christmas rush of shopping which is a very satisfying feeling)!

Emma's favorite way to help mommy with Christmas shopping..."vacuum" the floors of Target with the roll of wrapping paper!

Emma loved opening our advent calendar each day in December (she also expected there to always be a piece of “lotlate” – chocolate – behind the door, no matter what else was included in that day’s advent activity)! Eric and I had so much fun planning each day and going through it with Emma…more details on the planning and ideas for advent calendar activities in a later post sometime!

Emma ready to open the final day on our advent calendar on Christmas morning!

We got to go to Disneyland with my side of the family (my grandparents – from Illinois – and my Aunt, Uncle and cousins – from Washington – included!)…Emma’s very first Disneyland trip, very memorable! Our favorite part of the day was watching Emma watch the parade with that look of childhood amazement, precious!

Watching the Disneyland parade with our little girl...Emma was unable to look away from the parade she didn't want to miss a thing!

We had a super fun Christmas Eve day with just our little family of three (well actually four :))!

Emma reacting to opening presents with our little family Christmas Eve morning, she's a great reactor, so much fun!

And of course a great Christmas day (and few days after Christmas too) spent with my family all together at my parents!

With my fabulous family on Christmas day! My mom's present to her parents was professional pics of the whole family, thank you T&H Photography!

We were also privileged to be assigned the parts of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus for the – very laid-back and non-fancy – family Christmas play this year…we all gather together to listen to my dad read the story of Jesus’ Birth out of the huge family Bible and the kids (or sometimes those of us a little older too :)) all set up different parts for themselves to act out, it’s great!

Our little family as Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus!

The grand finale of the day, which is by far always one of my favorite moments on Christmas…after the Christmas play my mom brings out Jesus’ birthday cake, candles lit and all, the lights are dimmed and we all sing happy birthday to Jesus (there is a certain version on A Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir CD that we listen to and sing along with)…this time never fails to bring tears to my eyes and is the perfect way to end Christmas, focused on the real reason we have to celebrate, Jesus coming down to save us! Thank you LORD!

The family all gathered around Jesus's birthday cake at the end of Christmas day!

Of course there were so many other fun moments throughout the entire month of December but those are some of the basic highlights from our holidays! We thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas this year! Especially thinking up both new and old ways to start showing Emma even now at this young age that Christmas is all about Jesus coming to earth to save us and how that has changed our lives completely!

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A Whole New Level of “Nesting.”

As you can see by the date of the last post I put up (almost two months ago now), I have been a bit distracted lately! Between moving, being in the final months of pregnancy, having a bunch of fun family festivities over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and little Emma wanting to watch videos on facebook of her grandparents and cousins nearly anytime the computer is out while she’s awake…my computer time has been limited (or strictly reserved for Emma to watch videos!) and the blog got bumped to the backburner pretty quickly!

Most recent "preggo pic"...35 weeks and counting!

However, one final reason for my recent absence from the blog can be blamed on a pregnancy symptom we all affectionately refer to as “nesting.”

Let’s just say I catch the whole “nesting” bug pretty intensely. In fact, I believe (and Eric would probably back me up here, right babe?) that I am somewhat always in “nesting mode”…the organization ideas just keep on flowing (pregnant or not)! This means that the whole pregnancy “nesting” symptom simply intensifies (times like a billion) when I am in the final months of pregnancy!

Good thing I have such a wonderful hubby who; A. Loves me; B. Appreciates the organization (or at least knows how to act excited for me when he gets home from work and I very proudly show him what new project Emma and I tackled during the day); C. Just laughs at me, never getting annoyed; and D. Reminds me to rest and that it is a-okay if everything is not perfectly put in place! Thank you my love! :)

Seriously though, let me just give you a small scope of the “nesting” projects I have tackled in the last month (I do hope you all enjoy a good laugh over some of my OCD tendencies that will be so clearly revealed here):

  • Food pantry organized (yes I know, not a part of the nursery for the girlies, but to me still something I wanted in order to make kitchen work all the more easier once we’ve got two little girlies to take care of).
  • Desk area organized (also a section of the home I wanted to be sure was in tip-top functioning order before little Ella arrives because I know I will not have time to do any extra rummaging through papers to pay the bills after she comes…gotta make the paperwork for bills as simple as possible and I do believe that we now have a very efficiently functioning desk area to stay on top of the bills).
  • Closet and dresser in the girl’s room organized (Now this was a major overhaul project that was top on the list of getting done for obvious reasons..figuring out how to fit so many adorable pink outfits in one room was quite the fun challenge for me and my weird love of organizing! I am pleased to now officially say I have things put away in the way I feel will most help me keep things running efficiently and practically with all the little pink things, flower headbands, diapers, shoes, blankets, burp clothes, etc. etc. etc. that little “stylish” baby girls require)!
  • Ella’s crib is up, along with all the proper bedding (thanks to my mom and mother-in-law who helped find the bedding online to match Emma’s)!

    Me with my wonderful hubby!

  • A final layout to fit both Emma & Ella’s cribs has been decided on and it looks cute, not crammed (thanks to the help from my sis and the serious help from Eric as he moved the furniture in the nursery around so many times as my sister – who is also pregnant – and I were not much help in actually moving the furniture but just in actually placing the furniture in certain places in our minds and then letting Eric complete the placement for us in real life…again can I just say what a wonderful hubby I have!)!
  • Hanging picture frames and other fun stuff on the walls in the nursery, including two bins for diapers (one filled with Emma’s size, one filled with Ella’s size), two bins for the girls headbands (again, one with Ella-sized bands and one with Emma- sized bands), and finally one more bin on the wall to hold the flowers that clip onto the headbands for the girls (gotta keep those headbands within practical reach for day to day use…you all see how much Emma uses hers!).
  • And of course…what closet organization would be complete without the color-coordination of hangers for our girls clothes (yes….it’s true…I admit it…I had to…it just makes more sense to me…Emma has the light pink hangers and Ella has the dark pink hangers…..and may I just say it adds so much to their cute little pink-filled closet)!

Emma enjoying testing out the baby swing for Ella!

There are other things here and there that have been done as well but these are the main ones that really helped things feel completed and oh so ready to go for when our little Ella arrives! Emma has been such a great helper to mommy of course in getting things organized (her favorite project thus far…organizing all the baby shoes…she wanted to try just about every pair on just to be sure they were good to go for Ella, what a good big sister she is already)!

She has also thoroughly enjoyed the little swing and bouncy seat we recently took out of the closet for little Ella, I think she wonders why we didn’t let her know earlier that we had these fun little gadgets in our home, haha!

Anywho…needless to say we are getting very excited about welcoming little Ella Faith into our home in the weeks to come. We can’t wait to see little Emma’s reaction to having a little baby sister! And we are so thankful to God for our two little girls…and no worries people, no matter how OCD I may sound after you read this (sheesh!), I know that “nesting” is really just the beginning of the serious day-to-day blessings we receive in raising these two little girls, what a joy!

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Officially becoming “Eric & Ashley”.

Six years ago today Eric Durso officially asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes…..a decision I have never once doubted or regretted even for one second! We both agree it was by far one of the best decisions we ever made and we have very happily been together ever since! Here are some of the fun details leading up to the big question/event six years ago for those of you who may be curious… always fun to hear bits of a good love story, right?

Just remember this is just a very small bit of the whole story…I am sure I will fill in with other parts of our love story in many posts to come…for today, here is just a basic gist of how we became official girlfriend and boyfriend!

Eric and I met on the second day of orientation week as freshmen in college, we were in line for a financial aid meeting and began talking. We went on our first date September 11, 2004 (movie and coffee afterwards). The date was fun and I of course thought Eric was super super cute (sidenote: Eric is such a hottie and as the new freshmen on the basketball team I figured – and knew from word around campus – that he probably had enough girls interested in him, so anywho I guess I became a bit determined to play a little hard to get…to which he stepped up and got me one year later, head over heels forever baby!) but for that first year we just continued as friends, hanging out in the same group of good friends and enjoying each others company (while still obviously being quite observant of one another that whole year too!).

This first year of good friendship was great in the long run for our relationship because by the time we started dating a year later, we had a pretty good idea of who we really were and never tried to fake “impress” each other. This year of friendship also paid off when it came to Eric knowing that we would not ever just “become” boyfriend/girlfriend…he had to ask me officially. Somehow in one of our many friend conversations that had come up and he had never forgotten it.

You see, Eric was my first and only boyfriend ever (along with my very first kiss…another story for another time)! I guess you could say us Smith (my maiden name) girls had been raised to be very picky with very high standards and not just any boy was good enough to be our boyfriends (thank you dad for instilling this in us girls!). These being the reasons I had stated in some passing conversation at some point in our friendship that my guy would have to ask me to be his girlfriend, he couldn’t just assume.

Eric & I, November 22, 2005...the night he asked me to be his girlriend...this pic was taken when we stopped by his parents house that night with the good news on our way back from the beach!!!

And so, six years ago today Eric Durso took me out to a very nice restaurant in Malibu, took me to the beach afterwards and there asked me to officially be his girlfriend…to which I immediately answered YES…and I have very proudly been his girlfriend ever since and will continue to be for the rest of my life!

What a lucky lady I am and I really do thank God everyday for bringing us together and making us “Eric & Ashley”!!! It has been a wonderful six years together and I look forward to many many many more! Thank you for asking me to be your girlfriend my love. :)

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Our “Go” Mode.

Eric and I have come up with the “go mode” term to get ourselves amped up for certain weeks that seem to just have everything falling into them. These past two weeks seminary projects and papers, church planning meetings for Eric, continuing to settle things into our new home and just the everyday happenings of being about 7 months pregnant with a little one at home (an adorable little one, I might add) culminated and put us into “go mode.”

Luckily my husband was aware enough and kind enough to warn me ahead of time that we needed to gear up into “go mode” before these past two weeks snuck up on us. “Go mode” simply means…

  1. Do not miss your daily quiet time with God because you will get tired but God will sustain us,  He is the only way we will get through the busy time and still be able to honor Him in all we do in our actions and attitude.
  2. There are gonna be some late nights of work for Eric (meaning Ashley….be ready to have some long days at home).
  3. Be on the lookout for ways to fit some fun family time into the busy schedule these next couple weeks no matter how busy it gets as well as being on the lookout for ways I can encourage and support Eric through the crazy busy weeks ahead.

    A fun little family picnic we worked in during our "go mode" weeks one Sunday afternoon after church and before a meeting Eric had to be back at church for later that afternoon..always on the lookout for some fun family time, never too busy for that!

This morning I got to hear Eric speak at two high school chapels, which is always a blessing to me to hear my man speak and be used by God and I always walk away encouraged and challenged by what God says through Eric’s message (thank you baby!). And then………we got to out on a brunch date!!! We planned the brunch date about a week ago and have been looking forward to it all week…our celebration brunch together for getting through the crazy busy past two weeks of “go mode”!!! We are a team that God has brought together and we love every moment of going through life together being married to one another…”go mode” weeks and all, it is an unexplainable joy and blessing to share life together!

Plus to top it all off…today is exactly two years to the day that we found out I was pregnant with little Emma!!! Just another reason to enjoy talking, laughing and relaxing together this morning over brunch as we thanked God for all His many blessings to us!

Eric & I two years ago today...moments after we found out I was pregnant with little Emma...it was very early in the morning, hence the crazy hair!

“Go Mode” weeks don’t happen all that often but when they do we like to have a celebration at the end, reminds you to thank God for the strength He gives and the blessings He brings! These kind of weeks just make the celebration time that much more sweet and exciting! And now this little Durso family is sooo looking forward to some serious family time over this next week of Thanksgiving!

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Two Cents Tuesday: The Trash Trick.

Where all trash belongs.

It is a teensy tiny pet peeve of mine when random trash is just left around; whether opening the mail, a piece of candy, a bag of food, leaving out a used napkin, paper plate, empty paper cup…the list could go on but I’m pretty sure you get the point…I don’t like trash lying around and generally try to keep that kind of clutter from our floors, counters, desks, and dressers in our home.

So, if you’re ready I will now share the “trick” I use: throw it away right away…yep, that’s it, really no trick to it at all…just a matter of taking the 10 or so extra steps to the trash can each time you spot a piece…it’s really quite simple and will do wonders to clearing off some of those cluttered spaces in your home (this fits right in under the “Do It Now” principle that many of you have now come to know and love)!

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Eric & Emma: Sweet Moments.

I just love watching Eric love our little Emma and Emma in turn love and absolutely adore her daddy, it just thrills my heart! Seriously I get to watch their precious little interactions daily and I never tire of it, never! From Emma’s running up to daddy everyday when he gets home from work to her excitement in just seeing a picture of daddy during the day (which often turns to crying because she then realizes he’s not home yet and I have to remind her he’ll be home in just a few hours), it’s just too adorable.

I’ve written about their adorable daddy/daughter relationship in this previous post a little while back and I am pretty stinkin positive there will be more posts in the future on this particular topic because as mentioned a second ago I seriously love watching Eric with our little girls (as Baby Ella will soon be joining in on the daddy/daughter fun as well!)!

For now, I just thought you’d all get a nice little smile inside and out from these two simple yet adorable daddy/daughter moments that happened in our home this past week….

One evening while giving Emma her bath, I noticed Eric was busy doing something in Emma’s room. I asked him what he was doing and he simply replied..”getting a surprise ready for Emma.” Then when we walked into Emma’s room, with her all bundled in her warm towel…she saw daddy’s surprise and had just the reaction he was hoping for. The surprise: Eric had taken all of Emma’s most favorite books and more importantly had even opened each one to Emma’s very favorite pages in each book (Emma has made it fairly obvious to us which pages intrigue her most as she often turns the pages of her books till she lands on the one she really wants to look at)!

Emma's special surprise from daddy!

Then to top it off, Eric had even put her very favorite stuffed animals right by her books to sit and read them with her, it was a little dream come true for Emma! She ran out of her towel, went to each book one at a time, took the time to glance at each of her favorite pages and then just took a slight second to stand in amazement at the fact that they were all so perfectly laid out just for her and with her favorite furry friends all lined up to join her in this excitement. Eric was very proud of his exceptional daddy work and I enjoyed soaking up every second of standing back and watching this sweetness unfold.

Now this second moment is just so simple but still so sweet. Last Monday we woke up to some verywindy weather and Eric could not wait to scoop Emma up from her crib once she woke up, bundle her up in our big white blanket and whisk her outside on our patio to enjoy the wind. Oh cuteness. Emma was sooo excited about it, safe and warm in her daddy’s big arms just soaking up the fun fall weather God had brought us that morning!

Enjoying the windy excitement with daddy!

So there you have two simple but oh so sweet daddy/daughter moments I got to enjoy (among many other little day to day moments throughout the week) this past week…just continuing to enjoy these simple joys of home! Hope this cuteness gave you a nice little smile inside and out this Monday! :)

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