Thursday, February 28, 2013

Addicted to Technology

I recently read an article that stated my age group is the most likely to admit they are addicted to the internet. So glad I am not alone! I'm actually writing this blog post for Ben's sake, since he tells me any time I blog about something I do better about it, so I guess this blog is serving its purpose.

Here are a couple of things I do to combat this addiction.

1. I "fixed" my facebook. I have contemplated getting rid of it over the years, and have deactivated it on occasion. So many people that I looked up to didn't have facebook accounts or weren't "into" it. I wanted to be like them, I wanted to be one of them. I prayed for guidance. I've come to accept that technology is going to be a part of my life, and God wants me to use it for good. If all the good people stopped using facebook, there would be less and less of His influence felt in places where it could help others. So in order to still be "present" on facebook but not sucked into it, I have deeply modified the experience. I switched nearly every friend to show up in my newsfeed only for "important events" and many of them not at all (you know, the ones you wouldn't even say hi to if you saw them in the grocery store). Now I spend about 5 seconds any time I get on facebook.

2. I don't have a smartphone. I know this sounds drastic for some and I know I won't be able to hold out forever, but it is awesome. Ben has one which has saved our lives more than once, but just the feeling that I don't have to be connected all the time is so freeing.

3. I hide the laptop under the bed. Out of sight out of mind right? It totally works for me. On a good day I will keep the computer in the bedroom (an out-of-the-way room) until naptime when I will check my email and catch up on everything. On a bad day the computer will be sitting there on the couch in the morning and I get on "just to check my email" for four hours.

4. I only follow 2 or 3 blogs of people that I don't know (one is a parenting blog and another is a food storage blog). When there's less stuff to check, you waste way less time. If I don't need to know what my friend on facebook had for breakfast, I definitely do not need to know what some random person in New York had for breakfast.

5. I try to limit the number of things I NEED to do on the internet. I read the scriptures the old school way, with a book and pencil. I print out the recipe if I can. They are little things, but seriously they can save hours of my time because I will waste less of it.

6. I try not to judge others' technology habits. Just because it is a problem for me does not mean the same actions will produce the same results for someone else. Like I've stated earlier, there's no way for me to know someone well enough to judge what's going on inside their head.

Well these are all things I try to do. I've broken all of them before, sometimes even all on the same day. But I am trying to be "present" and I don't want my kids to remember me as always in front of the screen, always saying "in a minute." I love this checklist (at the end of the article) that shows me I still have a lot to work on.

I would LOVE to hear if you have any ideas that have worked for your personally!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What's up

I love this kid.
Even on the days she dresses herself like this (most days) and puts her dress on backwards and refuses to wear anything else.

These two are great friends
My favorite thing to hear during the day is "Come on, baby." And then she tries to drag Delaney somewhere to play with her.

We got to watch these cute kids one night. Caleb is two months older than Delaney, Michael is six months older than Cheyenne.
They sure had fun with their playmates! So nice to have good friends around here.

Delaney 7 months (left) Cheyenne 7 months (right). Delaney is my wire-y baby, she's so skinny! Cheyenne probably had about 5 pounds on her by this point! The biggest difference I see is the head shape, Delaney has this narrow head to match her small body. Same cute button nose.

Cheyenne and her "temple" her dad helped her build.

It is so so fun to have two girls! We love it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Idaho Trip

Ben went on a week long business trip so I took the opportunity to go up to Idaho and see family.

Cheyenne got to paint fingernails and play dress-up with Savannah at Aunt Melanie's. She loved it of course.

Delaney loved it too.

Two cute girls in the bathtub.

My dad, Delaney and I drove up to McCall for Cassidy's last basketball game EVER. It was a beautiful drive. I love Idaho.

Here's a bad picture of some great friends. We've been friends since we were 12 years old, and we're now all nearly 25. Glad I got to go to lunch with Ryan Wight and Emily Sorenson in Boise.

Delaney loves her Aunt Cassidy!

Speaking of Cassidy, Mom and I helped her make this epic cake for Young Womens, with EIGHT layers for the eight Young Women Values.

Speaking of Delaney, she loves to make this face

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guess who's mobile?

Life is going to be a lot more interesting from here on out...

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Ultimate Joy

I went to the viewing of my friend's 2-month-old son today and I have so many thoughts racing through my mind I just have to write them down.

In the past few months I have had three friends or acquaintances' babies die. Friends who were in the very same stage as me. One older child, and welcoming a new child into the world. Only they didn't get be with this new child for very long.

I think about holding my infant and breathing in their newborn smell, holding their little fingers, kissing their fat cheeks and watching their chest rise and fall as they drift off to sleep.

I want to shield my friends from my joy, from the happiness in my life. From wrinkly newborn skin and baby smiles they know so well. I can only imagine how it would hurt to see what might have been. I can only imagine how painful it would be to see what wasn't there.

I don't know and never can know how those parents feel. I don't know their coping mechanisms or how they make it through the day. But I knew I needed to do something about how I felt.

When I heard about the third friend who's baby died, I was sick. I sobbed and sobbed, just imagining my precious perfect angel being taken from me.

Why? Why? I knew all the "right" answers... "we are here to be tested"...."they're in a better place" etc. And I knew "why" was the wrong question to be asking.

After the viewing, pieces started to come together in my head.

The first thing that I realized was that I was grieving for the wrong thing. I was grieving for the mother, for me. She won't be able to hold that baby anymore. She won't be able to kiss his cheeks.

The Lord taught me, what about the baby? His happiness?

And I realized it was true. What is the ultimate happiness? The ultimate joy? To be in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

The other lesson I learned was one of action. When I heard about the baby's death, I wanted to express my love to my friend. So many things were holding me back. I didn't know what to say, I had no experience with it. I didn't want to appear as a gawker or a sensationalist wishing to exploit her grief, because I really did feel sorrow for her. It had been years since I had even seen this friend, so I thought it could be potentially awkward. I found out the viewing was not far from where I lived. Still, I felt ill-equipped. But I decided to just go, even if it was awkward, even if I said the wrong things. 

I can't really remember the words that were said but I definitely remember the things that were felt. Like our hearts were communicating. We were speaking and hearing a spiritual language. And that is what God wanted.

May I ever remember to speak in His language.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Love Story, Part 5

Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here

Engaged life was beautiful. We loved each other so much, and lived for the moment when we would be together again. I moved into our apartment by myself for two months, and lived there without a microwave or a table, a bed on the bare floor (how??). Ben would come visit occasionally, and we’d leave the door wide open to prevent “suspicious activity.” I would go over to his apartment. One time he made me taco salad with Dorito chips, which he was very proud of. That is true love right there.

We spent wonderful summer evenings together. Bike rides out to the lake. A hike up to the caves. Long walks around the quiet streets. Temples trips.

Temple trips. One weekend we drove up to Boise for me to prepare for my marriage by receiving my endowment. I was blessed to have the majority of my married brothers and sisters there for the event. I was sitting in the endowment room early, waiting for the other patrons to arrive. I remember so vividly when Ben walked in, all dressed in white. He had never looked so incredibly attractive to me. I was amazed that such a man would be mine forever.

We were so much in love. Ben started a chain for me to count down the days. On each link was one thing he admired about me. It was sappy and totally appropriate for our puppy dog love. The chain was growing short. Six, five days remained. One night Ben and I sat under the large full oak tree on the grassy area connected to my apartment. The stars twinkled overhead as we sat close and gazed at them. Love was tangible in the air. “I am going to marry Ben Dilsaver. I couldn’t be happier. My heart is going to burst at this moment.”

The day arrived. I had hired a professional hair and makeup artist for the morning, which I have never regretted. She worked her magic. I wore a plain purple dress Mom had made just for the car ride to the temple on our special day. I saw his dad as we entered the doors of the temple. “Where’s Ben?” And I saw him and our eyes met. He was awestruck. He couldn’t stop looking at me and he hugged me close. “You look so beautiful,” he almost whispered.
I cracked a smile as I realized that our dream was coming true. “June 19th! It’s finally here!”

Before the ceremony you get a little alone time in “heaven on earth” or the Celestial Room of the temple. We sat holding hands on the bench looking at each other. We had changed into our white clothing by this time and matched the beauty of room. “I love yous” and just smiles were mostly exchanged as we contemplated the eternal consequence of the covenant we were about to make.

We entered the sealing room. I was grateful for my mother’s advice to pick out a wedding dress that was appropriate for the temple ceremony, so it had so much more meaning than just for a photo shoot. We were surrounded by family and friends as we kneeled across from each other at the altar. I cried. Ben was crying too. We were so happy. True joy was witnessed as we made everlasting covenants to each other. It was beautiful.

I remember after I was dressed and ready to leave the temple, I waited forever for Ben to round the corner. What was taking so long? Patrons would pass me, “You look beautiful!” as they patted my arm. “Congratulations,” they whispered. Finally he arrived, and we walked out together. Hand in hand, as we would be for eternity.


July and August were complete bliss. I really can’t remember the details. I know we worked every day and came home to each other at night, but whenever I think of those two months the details go hazy and all I can remember is that I lived and breathed for Ben. We were one. We had no school, non-stressful jobs, and the only thing to worry about was each other.

At our two month mark, I was happy with our current state. “This is a sufficient amount of time,” I thought, “to live for one’s self.” We decided to start trying to have a baby.

School started again. We were still madly in love. Fall came and went. Winter arrived and the end of the semester. I started student teaching in January. Still no baby. I wasn’t worried, especially since I had other plans.

Privately I had applied to graduate school. This had been our first major decision as newlyweds, and I didn’t want any advice clouding our judgment. I wanted this to be a decision we had made together and with no one else.

March came, and with it the announcement of grad school decisions. I had been having a sinking feeling lately, but thought it only my nerves. But then, the dreaded announcement came. I did not get in.

I was emotional, embarrassed, and flabbergasted. Why? Why? And to top it all off, I hated teaching and I wasn’t pregnant! What now? And who am I to trust when I felt so good about grad school?

I had been feeling ill and tired lately. I had taken a million pregnancy tests the 8 months before, whenever I had a cold or a sense of imbalance. It had always been negative.

Ben convinced me to take one. “I don’t need any more bad news, my life is ruined.” I told him. But the next morning I took one. It was positive. I was ecstatic.

Ben was still in bed. I crawled under the covers and cuddled up next to him. “You’re going to be a father.” I announced. We laughed, we cried. We were incredulous. It worked. We were going to be parents. I can still see us lying there, in our bed, with my head on his chest, staring, dumbfounded, into our future. Little did I know motherhood would forever leave its distinguished “others-before-self” mark on me, and make me the best lover and wife that I ever could be. Little did I know how forever fatherhood would create in Ben a tender, selfless father whose love would become more all-encompassing than the love we had ever known. Little did we know what a wonderful change awaited us.

The story ends here. And by that I don’t mean true love ends here, or that the love in the story ends. But in parenthood the love takes on a somewhat different form that is unrecognizable to the courting boy and girl. It’s not easy to write out like a glance or a smile. It takes the form of the boring and mundane that looks dull on printed paper but is rich and meaningful in real life. True love in parenthood is godly love. “And it sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.” (1 Nephi 11:22) I feel honored to experience it while in mortality, and thank God for imparting an understanding of His love for me through this sacred calling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Love Story, Part 4

Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here

“It’s called ‘money,’” Ben’s brother Sam joked with me about the smell, “and these are money boots.” He pointed affectionately at the tall rubber boots splattered in manure. “And this is a money truck,” with a wave towards an old truck that was decorated in a similar fashion, and banned forever to the premises of the dairy because of the smell.

Ben showed me around the dairy like a kid in a candy shop, getting a real kick out of my incompetence. “These are the milking machines you stick on the cows’ udders,” Ben smiled as we stood behind a row of cows with their behinds turned directly towards us.
“Oh yeah my dad used to milk cows as a kid. I always wanted to try it,” I said sheepishly, trying to think of anything that might make me sound like I knew what I was talking about.
Ben laughed. “Well on a dairy this size we don’t milk cows by hand, but you can give it a try. Here squeeze this and pull down.”
“You want me to touch THAT?” the smell was starting to get to me. And what if I got kicked? Maybe this wasn’t something I wanted to try after all. I did, however, “squeeze and pull” so now I can officially say I milked a cow.

“This calf was just born yesterday,” Ben glanced at a bow-legged calf standing in a small square stall. “You want to try feeding it?”
“Sure,” I said nervously. Armed with my “money boots” and a glass bottle with a rubber pink nipple, I entered the stall and gave my best attempt at feeding the calf.
“Over there is a cow giving birth,” Ben pointed to a cow with a calf half-sticking out its hind regions.
“I couldn’t tell,” I said flatly, but grossed out inside by the “nature” taking place all around me that Ben seemed so familiar with.

The “money truck” was a stick. “You want to drive it?” Ben asked.
I smiled. “You’d have to teach me. I’ve never driven a stick.”
“No problem.”
In his gentle, humorous way he explained the gears to me and how to start. I gave it a go. It was a rough start, but I got going and cracked a big smile.
“This is easy!” I laughed.
“Slow down! You’re going to run us off the road!” Ben joked. “Good thing we’re only on the dairy!”
I whipped us around and we laughed and joked around like kids as we bounced up and down the dirt roads.

Church was at a tiny tiny branch of about 12 people in Havana, Illinois. I beamed. This was home. Any man who was comfortable here would be comfortable with me for the rest of his life.

Our short jaunt across the Mississippi ended and it was back to school and work. That Friday, March 27th, 2009, I knew Ben had the ring, he could never keep a secret. I would later find out he was so nervous to have it and risk losing it that he wanted to be “rid of it” as soon as possible.

That evening for our regular date he was late. An hour late. I may have been more than I touch annoyed, but I put on a brave face. Once we got out to the truck, he handed me a blue paisley blindfold. Like I said, Ben is very transparent.

We drove and drove and it started getting cold. Where were we?! He sounded like he might be lost. But finally we slowed to a stop. He helped me out of the truck with my blindfold still on. I could tell we were in a parking lot. I was instructed to take off the blindfold.

There before my eyes was Ben with the ring box open, down on one knee. In front of us was the beautiful gleaming white Draper Utah Temple where we planned to be married. “You are so amazing. I can’t imagine my life with anyone else. Will you marry me?”

I smiled and looked around. This was my moment. This was the moment you dream about as a little girl. The moment you see in movies and hope someday to experience yourself. And here I was experiencing it! It all felt surreal. “Yes!” I beamed. Ben bounded up and we embraced and kissed. And the ring, it was perfect.

That night as we drove home, Ben put on the CD he had so painstakingly made for me (the reason he had been late), with every song a description of his love for me, how he felt about me. We held hands and I felt the secure feeling of the ring on my finger. We giddily talked about the future and our life together. The future was so bright, and our love for each other so full.

When we entered the enclosed area of our apartment complex I grinned wildly and held up my left hand for all to see. “Are you ENGAGED??!!” People shouted. “Ben and Ashley are engaged!!”

Read the end here

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our Love Story, Part 3

Part 1 here, Part 2 here

Life was a whirlwind. Winter is cold in Utah, but I can’t remember the bite in the air. We walked to school together, hand in hand. We studied together in the Social Sciences section of the library. The more I learned about him the more I was interested. His family was in the dairy business, and he grew up on a dairy in California. Could this be the man that would give me my dream country life?

One night after we parted he texted me. “I could quit school and work and just follow you around all day. It would make me the happiest man in the world.” Little did he know how much that text would mean to me. I would read it night after night, deleting every other text but never that one. And still feel the butterflies the same way I did as the very first time I read it.

I went all-out for Valentine’s Day. Finally a reason to love this holiday! Late on the night of the 13th our downstairs neighbors could hear me as I pound-pound-pounded those Oreos into powder for some homemade truffles. The weather didn’t dampen my spirit as I taped heart after heart on the windows of his truck. He repaid me tenfold. Flowers a day early (who does that?) and a dinner at Bombay House. We experienced Indian food for the first time together and fell in love… with each other and the food.

He returned the hearts from his truck with an anonymous drop-off on my doorstep on the eve of a big test I had in my Native American history class. On each heart was a word of an encouraging sentence. “You’ll ace this test,” it stated, “because of your Indian blood. Make Grandpa Emery proud.”

My dad advised me to start working on my mission papers “just in case.” I still had several months until I turned 21 but had always had a strong desire to go, although it had been waning since these recent romantic developments. I mentioned it to Ben in passing who provided no response. He was 26, which is not an age at which most men are willing to “wait” for a missionary. I consulted my bishop, who, although he was in China at the time (long story), phoned me and suggested I write out a list, a comparison of what my life would look if I went on a mission or if I married Ben.

Late that night on the 5th floor of the SWKT (the Nursing Advisement Center where I worked), but long after closing hours, I charted it out. I took out two clean sheets of printer paper, and drew my life 5 years down the road as Mrs. Ben Dilsaver, and five years down the road instead as a return missionary. Then again ten years, and fifteen. The only conclusions I could come to was that I would miss out on the amazing character and unequaled companionship of Ben Dilsaver, and that as his wife I had the potential to bare more children than I would as a returned missionary two year later.

We had the opportunity to go to the open house of a new temple built in Draper, Utah. Parts of the temple that are kept sacred and closed off are open to the public before the temple is dedicated. Each temple tour ends in a sealing room, where marriage ceremonies are performed. As the patrons left Ben and I stood up and looked into the "eternity mirrors," two mirrors directly facing each other that symbolize a married couple going on for eternity. I held on to him tight and smiled as our reflections went on and on. I did not see the change that happened in Ben's heart at that moment, when he realized that I was the one he wanted to be his companion for eternity.

I went to the temple often to do baptisms. “Heavenly Father,” I began, “I love this guy. I don’t know what you think but I think he is just great. If you are not opposed I would love to spend forever with him.”

“You’d love him, Dad! In fact he kind of reminds me of you.”
“When are you going to bring him up to see us?!”
I was nervous. We hadn’t been “official” that long and now I was going to suggest meeting my family. It had been almost three years since anyone had “met” the family, so everyone was in an uproar. On a weekend near the end of February, we drove up to Idaho.

“Okay now go over them again.”
“First there’s Joel, then Sarah, then Justin, then Heather. She’s the one you’re going to meet first. Bethany and Haley, you’ve already met them, Whitney’s on a mission, then me, Derek, Dillon, and Cassidy.”
“And tell me a little about each of them.”
We did this for hours in the truck before arriving in Idaho. We met Heather first, then up to the big house for some more of my family. Ben was calm, he was not intimidated. He joked, he had an incredible memory for names and details. It was a smashing success.

We used the long six hour drive back to Provo to decompose everything. What did you think of this? How about her? What did you think of my hometown? Six glorious hours just talking. We talked about what was important to us, what we wanted to do in life, how one would raise their kids, how we felt about each other.
“Ash I’ve never felt for you what I feel for any other girl.”
“I feel the same way about you. I’ve never been so happy.” I agreed.
I leaned in close and rested my head on his shoulder. “So…” I said hestitatingly, “what do you think the timeline is for us?”
“I want to keep dating you, and then…” he paused and gently pulled me close, “maybe get married at the end of the summer?”
I smiled a big smile. “How about the beginning?”
That night I called my family back home and broke the news that we had used the “M” word. They were ecstatic, talking dates and giving marriage advice. I was on top of the world and in love with Ben.

The next day was busy, as the whole semester had been. Ben and I sat in the lounge to work on my presentation about apple pie for my speech class. We talked about dates, when to get engaged, when to visit his parents, when to get married. June 19th was the scheduling pick for the wedding day. It became our mantra. “I can’t wait until June 19th.” “100 more days until June 19th.” “Forever starts on June 19th.” It was our goal, the sunset on the horizon. We were deliriously happy.

That conversation, however, also came with the appearance of our very first “misunderstanding” (I call it a misunderstanding because arguing with Ben is not possible when he never raises his voice or gets angry. It's usually just a one-sided conversation where I'm blubbering on about something inconsequential.). When it came to visiting his family, we were on different pages. I started talking early March and he was saying late April.

I was adamant that I didn’t want to get engaged until AFTER I had met his parents who lived in Illinois. I didn’t want to be some stranger, some “thief in the night” who had stolen their son away without so much as a “How do you.” Ben did not see things the same way I did. He didn’t see why we couldn’t get engaged before we went out there, so why the rush. Knowing Ben and his family so well now, I can see I was making a big deal out of nothing. However I did win, since I thought it was ridiculous to do all the wedding planning while I didn’t even have a ring on my finger.

The ring. That was the next project. I was never one of those girls who had their wedding all planned out before they were even engaged. So when I knew I would need to give my input about the ring, I simply said, “something like my mom’s.”

If you haven’t noticed by now, I love anything old, sentimental, or nostalgic, so this turned out to be the perfect choice. My mom’s ring was a typical setting in the 1970’s so I thought a re-creation or a pawn shop beauty wouldn’t be hard to find. Actually it turned out it was nowhere to be found. After talking to a couple of dealers in the area to no avail, we ended up at good old Custom Ring Design right on 9th East across from the Creamery.

One Saturday morning we got up bright and early to try and beat the rush. Evidently we had gotten up too early, since the store wasn’t even open yet. We sat across the street on the grassy area by the Creamery, eating sandwiches and chocolate milk, and discussing our impending engagement. Once the store opened and we perused the diamonds, I got to describe my dream to the jeweler through pictures and words. A dream that would be an eternal symbol of our love for each other, a daily constant reminder of my soul’s connection. Once it was “in the works” we flew out to Illinois.

I knew Ben’s family was all dairy farmers, and although I claimed to be a country girl I knew nothing about manure or cows. I had seen plenty from a distance, ranching was in my family (which I thought was equivalent. Anything to do with cows is the same, isn’t it?), and I knew hayseed was in my blood. But nothing could have prepared me for the stench.

Continued here

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our Love Story, Part 2

Part 1 here

One Saturday morning I lay on my cousin’s upper bunk bed in Monticello Apartments. “So who is this Ben Dilsaver?” Kristen asked.
 “Oh just a little crush. I so wish he would ask me out! What about this Kevin?”
“We met at a dance. Wouldn’t it be so fun if he called me right now??” (and he did!)

I had to wait a little longer for mine. “A date! He asked me on a date!” I squealed to my roommates. I was ecstatic. The guy I liked actually liked me. And what a date it was! He and Brandon made Haley and I French toast for breakfast, then took us up to Midway for some tire rolling, paper boat racing, and off-roading in Brandon’s jimmy. If I recall correctly Haley even took a turn driving. I feared for my life! We drove back home in a hurry since I had another date that afternoon! (A fact Ben will never let me live down)

Late November we went out to Kneader’s for breakfast just the two of us. We talked. I never tired of listening to him. Of his easy-going, even-keeled manner. He thought I was funny. He thought I was smart. And I thought the world of him.

My roommate Marissa was planning an extravagant murder mystery dinner. I was to be Poker Alice, and I needed an ex-husband. “Who are you asking Ashley?” Marissa poked me and gave me a wild, I-know-who look.
“Do you really not know?” I smiled, “How is Ted coming along?” I shot back.

Ben did come as my date and he dressed the part. I confess I went a little weak-kneed when he showed up in pearl-snap buttons and a cowboy hat. Here was my dream come true: my cowboy come to whisk me away.

Another date he took me to the Planetarium in Salt Lake. Surely, I thought, he’s going to try and hold my hand. But he didn’t. We did, however, have a wonderful time watching a 3D movie of space and exploring Mars together afterward. I trilled just being close to him.

Things were moving too slowly, people told me. “Drop him,” my roommates said. But I couldn’t give up. He was so great. And he liked country music.

Right before Christmas he gave me a present: a scarf. I thought it an odd color, but it was the thought that counts. I was embarrassed I hadn’t gotten him anything! I admit the thought had crossed my mind, but at the risk of looking too forward I had decided against it. Now, as an act of retribution, I got him a Brad Paisley CD, a mutual country artist love. Although he gave me a little trouble for purchasing it after the fact, it was well received. 

Over Christmas break I went on a long drive to Washington with my brother Justin and his family. He was having too much fun with this little love interest of mine. “Who are you going to kiss on New Years Eve?” he texted Ben from his mysterious number. “Who wants to know?” Ben asked. “An inquiring mind,” was Justin's reply.

I got back from break a little early to get back to work before the semester started. That meant every evening I had free. As fate would have it, Ben had also arrived back to school early. “What are you up to tonight?” He texted me. “Something with you, I hope,” I replied.

We hadn’t broken the touch barrier. I sought my coworkers for advice. “Listen Ashley. You HAVE to cuddle with him while you’re watching a movie. Otherwise he’ll never know that you like him more than a friend!” Cara demanded.
“I don’t know if I can do it!” I breathed.
“You can thank me when you’re married.”
That night we watched Pure Country at my apartment and, emboldened by Cara’s advice, I sat so close to him on the couch that our arm hairs touched. I was so nervous about being rejected. What if we really were just friends? What then? But little did I know Ben was taking it slow. He was being overly cautious, trying not to make a wrong move because he wanted our relationship to become something special. When he saw me scoot in closer he seized the opportunity and, casually, put his arm around me.

Another night we watched Signs at his apartment. I placed my hand in easy reach on my knee, just in case. He reached for my hand. This amazing feeling swept over me. Like his hand literally fit with mine. The same hands that would hold our children, and reach for mine for comfort for many years to come.

We started to hold hands in public. Was I his girlfriend? School began again. He came over every night. Monday was a holiday, Martin Luther King Day. We decided to go to the Freedom March and speech afterwards up on campus. It was cold. The candles with their paper holders flickered in the wind. He reached for my hand.

He took me home as usual. He took my hands in his to warm them up. We sat smiling at each other at the table. “Let’s make this thing official,” he said, “Can I kiss you?”

Continued here

Monday, February 4, 2013


I love a good lullaby. Who doesn't? Music is so soothing, it's perfect for putting babies to bed or calming nerves. I have a few favorites that I wanted to post here so I can remember them for years to come. And like any good mother, I will often change the lyrics to describe my sweet cherub: "tiny," "tiny little" "baby girl" "momma's little one" because obviously those lyrics make so much sense.

"Stay Awake" from Mary Poppins

"Baby Mine" from Dumbo

"Edelweiss" from Sound of Music (maybe I just have a thing for Julie Andrews?)

"In the Leafy Treetops" from the Children's Songbook

And and a "get up" song

"Early Bird" by Shirley Temple

Unless of course I'm singing this

And an "end of the day" song
"Now the Day Is Over" from the LDS hymnbook and in a scene from Uncle Ben

Or this one

Friday, February 1, 2013

Our Love Story, Part 1

I was 20. A silly girl in many respects, but I was starting to realize a few things and did happen to have my head screwed on straight.

The first activity of the fall semester was a bonfire. September in Utah the heat still clings during the day but it dies off by the evening, making for a very pleasant effect. I had been on the activities committee the entire summer and this would be our first big event. I was in charge of the firewood. A summer fling that I had hoped would turn into something was dying, and I was in a huff. In order to avoid this unfortunate boy, I set off with my friend Rachel to meet some new prospects.

It was dark except for the glow of the fire. We approached a set of boys who introduced themselves as Willis and Ben. One was short and one was tall. The short one definitely wouldn’t do for Rachel, who was nearly six feet. He had a kind face, bushy hair, and he laughed at my jokes.

The next weekend I went on a bike ride with my friend Dan. We had a wonderful time on the trail, my first time mountain biking. It had been a misty September morning and we were covered in mud as we trailed up the stairs of the apartment complex. Coming down the stairs was the friend I had met at the bonfire—Ben.
 “You two look a little dirty.”
“Yes it was wet on the trail this morning!” Dan replied.
I gave Ben a smile as I walked up the stairs, hoping he wouldn’t think Dan my beau and instead know we were just friends.

Monday rolled around and we had our first official Family Home Evening as a ward. My sister was in charge and had asked me to help out.
“Can you run one of the rotations on the bottom floor?” Haley said breathlessly as she tried to arrange the remaining games.
“Of course,” I replied, “you know Flakes love being in charge.”
I ran the game in apartment 3, checking out all of the new boys as they rotated through. I wore my best jeans and the biggest smile. I was from apartment 14, which over the summer had been a hot spot for friends of the male variety. When a big group of boys came in I got to work. I was vivacious and funny. People had a good time. Ben Dilsaver was among them.

September ended and October began. We did have a lot of male callers in apartment 14. I got caught up in the fun of it all. We threw a huge dance party that was busting out the door. Several of my favorites came, but I was hoping for a certain boy of the fluffy-haired variety. His roommate had been over several times to visit us, so I knew he was aware of the party. Near the end a few stragglers came in, including Ben.
“I didn’t take you for the dance party type,” I told him with a coy smile.
“Yeah I’m not much of a dancer. But I heard there was a party so I thought I’d drop by,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

October was coming to a close. Another fling had fizzled and I was left with no one to ask to the roommate date. I thought of Ben, who had been so nice to me on the stairs, who dropped by our party just to say hello. He had just started his masters program, though, so I knew he was quite a bit older than me. I suggested him to my sister. She shrugged him off, “I’ve got somebody else,” she told me. His roommate Brandon frequented our apartment, and never had a mean thing to say about him. “He likes country music, he does the dishes, I’d say he’s my favorite roommate.” I decided to test out the waters and go over and get to know him a little better. One weeknight I went over after class, claiming I needed to return something to Brandon. Ben was there and we got to talking. Conversation flowed so easily! His laugh was gentle and he was so easy going. He was handsome in a classic sort of way, he didn’t draw attention to himself.

October 30th, 2008 was our Halloween roommate date. We started with hide-and-go-seek on the elementary school grounds. I hid in the bushes and Ben came and slid down beside me. I was glad. We were alone in the dark, and I wanted him to reach over and grab my hand.

We all went back to the apartment to construct some “haunted gingerbread houses” and do some face painting. We didn’t tell the other one what we were painting. I touched the paint to his face with my fingers and finished with some spots: a dog, I told him. Little did I know how familiar I would become with the lines of that face.

Halloween came and Ben needed some help, he said. He had been growing out his hair just for this occasion: he wanted to see what it would look like straightened, fro-ed out on Halloween. I happily complied. Any chance to see you again, I thought,  and I get to touch your hair.

November was cold. A group of our friends decided spur-of-the-moment to make a run for some Smart Cookies. We piled in to Marissa’s jeep. “Ashley there’s room for you! Right here on Ben’s lap!” Haley joked. She knew about my little crush. I’ll admit I was a little embarrassed to sit on his lap, but being close him was something I didn’t mind.

Continued here