Back into Running

7 11 2015

Seeing as this is a running blog, I should probably update about my recent running ventures.

There haven’t been many.

Life with 2 little ones plus my full-time job keeps me on my toes so much that I only sleep about 4-5 hours a night, and those are almost always interrupted by one or both of the boys waking up. It’s much harder for me to carve time for running, way harder than it was with one child, but I also know that getting back into a habit of running will ultimately give me so much more energy in the long run. (Long run.) It’s important that I take care of me, too!

So this fall/winter, I’m making myself start over again. You won’t find me running a marathon this January, but I’m planning to start with a few 5ks and work my way back up. I have to be careful with my heart and with dehydration while I’m still nursing my 13-month-old, but I’ve done it before and know that I can.

This fall, I helped with the after-school running program at my elementary school, and I also served on the Fun Run committee, helping to pull off planning our school’s very first 5k and one mile Fun Run race this morning. In spite of the rain, it was such an awesome, energy-pumping family event, and we had an awesome turnout. My husband even won a 2nd place medal! I took things slowly and steadily and was proud that I finished, even on our school’s muddy, HILLY cross county course and with NO training.



Next up, we have a Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning and my favorite 5-miler through Busch Gardens in December.

I also need to be more careful about eating. The holidays can be so tempting, that stretch from Halloween to New Year’s, but when I run, I reach for healthy foods, so I think getting back into a training schedule will help curb the sweets.

This past year, my husband and I dared each other to give up donuts for a whole year (we both got really sick after eating at a donut shop and pretty much wrote off donuts then and there). So far, we’re 11 months in and it has actually been pretty easy. I love the accountability piece by doing it together and the awareness this little experiment has raised in how often I am around donuts. I am offered a free donut almost DAILY. It is insane – I never noticed before. Almost every single day at my work there is some reason or another that a box of donuts is floating around, but it’s been so easy just to say, “no thank you.” Next year, we’ll probably add something else to our “no donuts” rule… maybe soda or fast food.

What motivates you to jumpstart a healthy habit again?


Outpouring of Love

25 10 2015

Mother Teresa quote

This weekend, I was so incredibly blessed to be a very small part of what has been and what will continue to be an amazing journey for a special family that I know.

I’ve always been fascinated with adoption and foster care. My husband is actually one of ten children, six of whom were adopted. Most of my 4th year research in college was on Attachment Theory, and my undergrad degree was in Psychology. Last year I followed the blog of a woman who served as a surrogate to carry another couple’s baby when they couldn’t. This time, however, my small opportunity was none of these things.

There’s a quote, “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” This always makes me think of a gift I received that I’ll never be able to repay or even say thank you for. When I was 17 years old, I was the recipient of another person’s bone – actually, a cadaver’s bone – which was drilled into my spine, fusing my lumbar and sacrum together. For years, that isolated bone glowed on my x-rays until it was in my body long enough to dull to match my own, with bone grafted from my hip fusing it into place.

Fast forward a decade…

My older son was just a few weeks old when I returned to work from maternity leave, so I pumped twice a day there (and sometimes at home before I left) for a year to supply enough milk for him to have at daycare. I’ll be honest, it was hard. Finding a private place was absolutely non-existent in the 1970s-built-pod-school where I taught. Remembering to bring all the pump parts, freezer packs, cooler, bottle tops, tubing, power cord, wetbags – I felt like every day I forgot one component of the pump. And I never had teacher coverage while I pumped, since my schedule was so inconsistent, so there were days I barely came home with any milk. Other days, I came home with plenty for the next day – it just depended on my water intake and what time(s) I was able to pump that day. My heart had many episodes of tachycardia while nursing both my children, and I’ll be paying off cardiology bills for the next year.



Woke up in the middle of the night engorged. This was all from one side. Ouch!!

I nursed E until he was 18 months and weaned him when my husband and I needed to travel out of town for a week without him.

I was also pregnant with my second son before this trip. When he was born, I was able to stay home with him until he was 13 weeks old. Once at daycare, he crushed bottles of my expressed milk like a champ until he was about 10 months old. I spent the summer at home with him, and when I went back to work in August, he refused bottles of any kind. No interest whatsoever. It didn’t matter who was holding the bottle, or what brand, or what temperature. Which left me with a freezer full of the precious liquid gold that I had pumped and so carefully frozen. Now at 13 months, he still nurses when we’re at home  (and all throughout the night, every night), but if I’m not there, he won’t take my milk in bottle form.

Spilled milk

Truth. Or left it out on the counter overnight. 

When he was 10 months old, I began researching how and where to donate my excess milk. After calling local hospitals, I found that a lot of them actually had enough frozen breastmilk to support their NICU babies, so I was given phone numbers to call to locate hospitals all over the country who might accept my milk. The process of testing the milk and testing myself would be extensive, not to mention packaging and shipping the frozen milk, but it would be worth it.

I had just started the process of milk donation when I learned that God had a different plan for my milk.

A mutual friend of mine, after years of prayer dedicated to adopting a child, got a call that a newborn was ready to come home. That sentence took me only a moment to type but represents a lifetime of prayer for this little baby. In getting together the things she would need for her new baby, she put out a request for any moms who had breastmilk to spare.

I did! A total of 144.5 ounces. To put it in perspective, it’s almost $1500 dollars’ worth of “liquid gold” and over 35 pumping sessions. It equates to 18+ hours of pumping, although with 2 sides at once, it was more like 9 hours, give or take. But double that to include the time it took to wash all the teeny tiny pump parts and Medela bottles and caps every night, dry them, and pack them to do it all over the next day. And then washing the wetbags I used to transport all the wet bottles and pump parts. My husband washed every single bottle and pump part, by hand, every evening. (Thank you!) I carefully measured and labeled each bag for future use.

Yesterday, I studied the Medela guidelines for thawing frozen breastmilk and checked the date on all of my milk. To my amazement, not a single drop of the 144.5 ounces was expired. I had pumped every bit of it in the last six months. Even more amazingly, the “oldest” frozen milk I had will start expiring in about 2 weeks, so I was running out of time to find a place to accept it.


I know this baby is going to be supported in big ways and always with an abundance of love. I am so incredibly honored that I got to help with such a specific need – I told the baby’s mommy that I felt like I just donated an organ and am praying it’s a match – that the baby will accept this same precious milk that continues to sustain my own little boy as he nurses. This new little baby was born on my son’s due date, exactly 12 months later. We serve a most amazing God whose timing is always spot-on.


Family arrived with a cooler today to transport the milk to its new home. 🙂

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

NICU baby

Normal Day Treasures

6 10 2015

normal day

The sun is back. It’s been a long time since we have caught even a ray of it! Today can pretty much be chalked up to a perfect “normal” day. I thought a lot about how grateful I am to have a generally positive attitude, as I was pulled in a million different directions at work while my sons were away from me at daycare. I began to look for the treasures hidden in the day, reflecting on each one as its own silver lining. I hope to collect these thoughts later in my journal of blessings (inspired by Ann Voskamp).

The fog settling over the valley was so pretty during my drive to work this morning. Stumbling over my words as I tried to explain fog to my 3-year-old.


My 12-month-old waving goodbye to me from the comfort of his teacher’s arms. A tear-free transition. Finally.

Arriving to work 10 minutes early and using the time to walk a prayer circle behind the school. Still in awe that I get to work in such a beautiful place.


And feeling blessed that at my new job, I get to be a full-blown counselor. Almost 100% of my time is spent directly with students individually, in small groups, and in the classroom (I log my hours in NoteCounselor after school every day). When I’m not directly with students, I’m talking to their parents or conferencing with their teachers, also direct hours. It makes for busy days, and my principal has begun to exclaim, “You came back!” after some of the most eventful days.

Getting a handwritten card from my principal, just thanking me for being at the school and being a positive light.

Having one of the most respected teachers in the school, the one who never speaks when I teach in her classroom, seek me out in my office later just to say, “Thank you. You have such a calm and soothing voice for the kids, you talk to them in such a way that they have no choice but to want to follow your directions.”

Me: an awe-struck puddle on the floor.

Missing lunch to facilitate the toughest small group of them all, and seeing the boys’ tough exteriors begin to crack as they slowly trust each other. Finding a pocket of 10 minutes afterward to eat a bowl of hot soup and a full-size Hershey bar.

At car rider duty, a parent sincerely telling me, “It’s so nice to see a smiling face every single day. Thank you.”

Staying after school to coach a running club, running alongside a new coworker who is exactly my pace, and finding out we grew up in the same hometown.

My 3-year-old, after spotting me at daycare, running toward the gate with open arms, not yet too cool for such affection over Mommy or for falling head over heels to hug me.

Finding a free book for the boys in our mailbox: “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.”

Wolfing down leftover Greek dinner my husband made last night before leaving the house one last time for the evening.

Driving through my favorite canopy of trees today…

…six different times.

The first and sixth trips with cups of hot coffee.

Opting to let my hairdresser straighten my hair before I left. (I ALWAYS leave the salon with wet curly hair.) Laughing with her about the 3 wiry white hairs I found on my head this week.

Teaching my 3-year-old how to play a board game before bed. How to roll a die. How to take turns and play fairly.

Watching his excitement as he taught his daddy how to play the same game while I watched, nursing the baby to sleep.

Trying on pretty Stitch Fix items, debating what to keep and what to send back.

Finding quiet time to blog and do laundry.

Grateful for my decision to cloth diaper as I hung them to dry. Looking forward to having a new friend over next week who wants to learn about cloth diapers.

Thinking about the 5 cute little cloth diaper pails, lined up all in a row at daycare.

Being able to answer my toddler when he asked, “Mommy, are you coming to the pumpkin patch with me and my class?”

“Yes, Mommy is coming.”

I’d rearrange the world for you. 

Sage |O-N-E

27 09 2015

Happy birthday, Sage! I can’t believe it has been a whole year since you made us a family of four. Today we party!

Sage Bartley - 12 months photo by Ashley Bartley - mom

Your First Birthday

| via |







Wearing size 24 months and 2T | Long, wispy blond hair | Eyes – blue like mommy’s, shaped like daddy’s | Dimples for days | Sleeping in your crib | Teething | Nursing at least 3x a day and alllll night | Refuses bottles | Eats everything | Loves bananas | 92nd percentile for weight | 99th for head | Refuses Wubbanub | 10 fingers | 10 toes | Loves being worn | Wears cloth diapers | Climbs staircases | Smiles in a straight line | Rides tricycle | Walks with help | Gives sloppy kisses and hard hugs | Bites Mommy


(Bites Mommy.)




They grow so fast

| full article |



You and your brother are 26 months apart and the very best of friends. He’s the first person you call for in the morning from your crib, and he constantly looks out for you. Your brother is quick to say, “No more babies, I just want Sage.” ❤













Sage, as you fell asleep (for round one) on the eve of your birthday, I prayed over you, so many things.

I love you.

Facebook Timeline Cover

| via |

Sage 12 month birthday collage - photos by Ashley Bartley

Reclaiming Life Lately

6 09 2015

Last year was an act of learning to juggle a toddler and a newborn as a working/commuting mom, and our schedule was hectic and seemingly unforgiving. I wouldn’t trade my kids’ ages for the world, but I am slowly trying to make large and small decisions that will best impact our family, fine-tuning our routines in an attempt to simplify and gain minutes.

JOB | One of the biggest changes I made this year was switching my job (not my career) to a new location, cutting my commute in half. I also don’t have to be at work quite as early anymore, so that also allows me more time at home in the mornings and evenings.

SCALE | I bought a small digital postage scale and now save dozens of trips to the post office when I need to ship things I’ve sold online, which is about 3-4 times per week. I just use PayPal, which is cheaper than USPS anyway. Game-changer!

CLUTTER | I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and have spent a good chunk of time lately de-cluttering. Marie Kondo teaches how to evaluate every item in your home to determine whether to keep it or discard it. Just read it, I promise. I am the most sentimental person and I threw away things I never would have before!

I used to hate cleaning and now I actually look forward to it because I know I’m only surrounded by the items that I love and will use. My husband and I have a large master bedroom that was a constant source of stress for me with all its clutter and heavy, tired furniture. After reading Kondo’s tried-and-true, step-by-step method of “tidying,” I was able to get rid of at least 5 truckloads of stuff from my bedroom and one closet alone – some donated, most tossed, some in a yardsale pile. Once I de-cluttered, I realized we no longer had a need for 4 – FOUR! – of the large pieces of furniture in our bedroom, which were just there hiding junk! As a treat for our reclaimed space, I scored an oversized mirror at HomeGoods to hang against one newly-bare wall. (This wall used to have a changing table piled high with mountains of baby laundry all over it. We never even changed the baby on it!)


Where a once-overflowing computer desk was, I staged a chair, ottoman, side table, throw blanket, and lamp to create a relaxing reading nook. It’s actually where I’m blogging right now!


This freed up a lot of the furniture that had been crowding our living room. We also removed the footboard from our king-sized bed, which made a world of difference in opening up the room – who would have guessed that such a simple change would have such a big impact? I found new lamps at TJ Maxx that are brighter and more whimsical.


I only use my dresser for running clothes and gear, but I followed the book’s advice on folding vertically and it worked!Before and after

Eventually we want to change out basically everything – the paint, flooring, bedding, and curtains (and paint the furniture and add new hardware), but right now we have other priorities. Still, it has been fun making lots of trips to HomeGoods and TJ Maxx this week for inspiration!

HomeGoods TJ Maxx

CRIB | We finally transitioned our 11-month-old out of the Pack-n-Play in our room into a crib in his own room for the first time, which we meant to do when he turned 6 months. Of course I loved having him right there with us, especially with nursing, but it’s also nice not to have to tiptoe around or worry about turning lights on anymore.


With these changes, I’ve been able to devote more time in the mornings to getting my kids dressed, and we all eat breakfast together now. And I can sleep in 15 minutes later than I did last year! I now have the option of swinging by the house after work on my way to daycare to unload my car and get a few chores started/done so that I can be more present with my family once we are all home. Otherwise, I’m running around trying to get things washed and repacked for the next day during my precious family time. Our things all have a place now, so nothing is left just lying around creating more visual clutter. It’s SUCH a breath of fresh air!

I hope that you all are able to make the most of your time this holiday weekend! I’m so excited that fall will be here soon!

No-Sleep Week | Worth It.

13 07 2015

July is one of my favorite months, for good reason. This year, between the 4th of July, my son’s 3rd birthday, my birthday, a trip to the lake, a drive-in movie, a family trip to Busch Gardens, teaching preschoolers, and a kayaking excursion (sans kids) with a group from our church, we are EXHAUSTED in a good way!

My son loved every bit of his 3rd birthday party. We decided to invite several of his friends from preschool and church in addition to family. The theme was construction. I’m sure a blog post will come eventually. It was pretty hectic getting everything ready because we were out watching fireworks the night before, but I guess that will always be the case.




I had jokingly “complained” to my husband that I never celebrate my birthday anymore, because my son and I have our birthdays a day apart. He went out of his way for me this year – he took off work so that we could all go to the lake. I rode my son’s new scooter around our neighborhood (where were these when I was little?!), got extra snuggle time with the baby, went to Target, drank coffee and flipped through a magazine (unheard of!), and had a yummy birthday dinner. And had my own cake, even though we had about 2 dozen leftover cupcakes from E’s party.


On Thursday, we attempted our first drive-in movie to see Minions and Inside Out with free tickets we had. Both kids were restless, so we only stayed for Minions. We are just not movie-watchers – none of us can sit still for that long!



We also joined my husband’s family for a day-trip to Busch Gardens. It ended up being a perfect day despite the forecast of rain – the sky was cloudy and overcast and there was a cool breeze, unreal for mid-July! There was a torrential downpour midday that pretty much emptied out the park and shut down the rides, but we were eating lunch then. When we returned to the park, the rides were reopening with essentially no lines. So I think we rode almost every ride in the park plus visited both kiddie play areas. It rained again that night while we were on a roller coaster – the rain was coming down so hard, we could barely breathe! I ended up with 18k+ steps on my FitBit even with 5 hours in the car.





Props to Busch for having a nice nursing center in the kiddie area. I don’t care about privacy so much, but it had rained off and on and all the benches outside were soaked and all the covered seating was taken. Land of the Dragons had 2 private, locking rooms with couches, so I took advantage of the space to get my baby changed and fed before heading back out into the rainy weather.

The next morning, we taught 24 preschoolers at church and headed out for our first kayaking adventure! We rented kayaks and dropped our kids off with family, joining our church group at my favorite lake. We loved it and were a little sad to return the kayaks the next day. Kayaking on the serene lake was basically the opposite of going to Busch Gardens. 



7-12-15 kayak

(Does anyone know how to still get FitBit steps while kayaking? I didn’t get any with it strapped to my wrist! And we kayaked for HOURS!)


I am loving summer, but here’s to hoping for more sleep this week! 🙂

4th of July | 2015

5 07 2015

The 4th of July has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday. This year we visited a hot air balloon festival, made red, white, and blue bark, and took my parents to our favorite brewery, followed by spectacular fireworks at a ski resort!











That night, after the boys fells asleep, I held my toddler’s hand and prayed for him (and my patience this year as a mommy of 2) as the clock struck midnight and he turned into a 3-year-old!

Five on Friday

3 07 2015

Linking up with September Farm and The Farmer’s Wife (she has news!) for oh hey, Friday and April for Five on Friday!

This week brings so much celebration – my brother-in-law got married, one of my best friends had a baby (and I held him!), obvi the 4th of July, and then my son’s birthday and mine fall the next 2 days! So this morning will just be a quick recap of our week:


one | My “Mommy and Me” yoga class inspired me to get a yoga mat ($2 new at a yardsale) and a workout DVD (free at library). Neither of which will get me any steps toward the challenge I recently registered for with September Farm, but at least I’ll be motivated to train for two upcoming races.

two | I took the boys on a lake outing. It had all the benefits of the beach, as far as toddlers and babies are concerned, without the long drive. They loved it!


three | We’ve been going to a nearby peach orchard each week for their children’s program. Since my husband and I are on a “no donuts for a year” kick, I bypass their peach cider donuts and get a slice of fresh, homemade peach pie or a peach milkshake. Heavenly.

7.1.15 peach orchard

four | I stumbled upon this playground not far from my house through a library program. I cannot BELIEVE we didn’t know about this place! We were also excited to get free lunches, and the boys each picked out brand new, free books to keep!

6.30.15 playground

five | We also went to our first $1 movie at Regal! Sage loved the movie but then nursed for the last half. E was terrified and shouted loudly every few minutes, “I want to go home and get in my bed!”


And now… off to celebrate the 4th and party on my little guy’s THIRD birthday! Weren’t we just celebrating his 1st birthday with our matching birthday smashcakes?



Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Five on Friday

19 06 2015

Linking up with Karli and Amy for oh hey, Friday and April for Five on Friday!

Now that I’m off work just for the summer, I try to leave the house everyday with the kids, which can be exhausting at times, but rewarding. It’s a lot of work to pack up everything for the day and make sure they’re fed/changed before we leave, but more fun than chasing them around the house all day long! And certainly more fun than packing up their stuff to be away from them all day while they’re at daycare – plus no pump parts and bottles to wash! We’ve been able to do so many things this week that I normally can’t do when I work during the school year, from trips, to playdates, to starting fun projects and trying out new recipes.

It makes me a little sad to see how close the boys get to me, and how sweet they are to me and to each other throughout the day. When I work, I come home to tantrums that last all evening after we’ve been apart for 10+ hours, and I miss out on all these little moments.

one | We scoped out a new-to-us playground. E always prefers the big kids’ playground to the toddler ones!


two | After visiting a puppet show and signing up for a couple summer reading programs at local libraries, we went to another program at an elementary school. They provided a free lunch during the puppet show, with BBQ sandwiches, chips, cookies, apples, carrots, and water bottles for the kids and for the adults!IMG_3628

three | I don’t have a green thumb, but I’ve been diligently checking our garden each day for progress. We planted tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, basil, lemongrass, and peppers. My favorite, though, is the sunflower my son brought home from school. I love that it was tiny when he brought it home, but it will eventually grow taller than he is!


Using my basil, I made a one-pot pasta dish this week with most of the little plant. It was so good, so easy, so PRETTY, and a keeper for sure!


four | Water balloons – fun to fill, fun to throw, but not sure they were worth the meltdown that ensued when I threw one at his little piggies!IMG_3684

five | I must have caught an exercise bug, because yesterday I got up early and ran on the treadmill, and last night, I attended my first free “Mommy and Me” yoga class at a natural parenting store taught by a friend from church. My midwife suggested I try yoga after several recent bouts of tachycardia. At the time, I just laughed, but I loved, LOVED it, and so did Sage. He was fascinated by the poses, laughing and clapping (probably distracting), and he loved participating and being held all the different ways. I was also surprised to learn that the instructor began yoga because of tachycardia, too. This might be something new to try!

Happy Friday!

Sage | 8 Months

28 05 2015

Sage - 8 month monthly photo

Sage, you are so happy, I can’t even stand it. At 8 months, you are ALWAYS happy.

Nursing: We are still going strong on our nursing journey together. You drink 12-16 oz. a day of my pumped milk at daycare, and you always nurse for a full hour when we get home, plus several times in the morning and several times in the evening. I think all this nursing is partly to blame for all the episodes of tachycardia I’ve had lately. I’ve spent too many mornings being monitored in the clinic at work and will see a doctor next week!

Eating: You eat lunch and dinner purees each day and seem to like most things that aren’t green. Just like your brother. I can’t blame you – who likes peas?

Milestones: Scooting, one giant forward crawl, and today you pulled into a standing position. You can easily get across the room with a combo of spinning, crawling backward, scooting, etc. You learned to clap yesterday and can identify all our family members by turning toward them when we say their names.

Teeth: Just lots of drool. One day, you got a Gatorate bottle lodged in your mouth (terrifying for everyone!), and you cut your gums so badly that I could see your tooth!

Sleeping: Hit or miss. Some nights you sleep like a champ, some nights you want to nurse all night every day for a week. You sleep in a pack n play in our room – we haven’t had time to transition you to your new nursery yet!

Wearing: 18-24 months, usually rompers with orange moccs, cloth diapers

Saying: Hi, Hey, Da-Da

Hair: blonde and wispy like cotton candy. Long in front.

Eyes: blue. The only feature you didn’t get from your daddy were his beautiful sage-green eyes. Go figure.

Toys: zebra teether, Wubbas, and J.D. Lester books are your favorites

Doing: You attended your 2nd wedding this week and had a blast! You also love to laugh and read books. I’m too tired to write anything else, but please know how much we love you!

Sage - 8 month collage

Month by Month

one | two | three | four | five | six | seven