A Decrease in “I” and “Me”

This year I am serving as President for the National Charity League, Inc. Tulsa Midtown Chapter (an incredible mother-daughter organization that has blessed both my Angel Girl and myself tremendously!).

Being the obsessive reader that I am, I decided to create a “One Board, One Book” study for my executive officers to read together, one chapter at a time over the summer and fall. The book I chose is Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown.

It is a phenomenal book, and so far my greatest challenges to reading it have been 1.) to NOT highlight nor underline every single word, and 2.) to read only the chapter assigned when I really, really want to buzz right through to the end.

This month we are reading Chapter 1, ‘Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of “Never Enough”‘ which oddly enough goes hand-in-hand with the fictional story I read yesterday by Cecelia AhernThe Book of Tomorrow.

If you’ve read or watched PS, I Love You, then you are familiar with this adorable and uber-talented writer and her skill for engaging and not letting go until the final page. (I also LOVE If You Could See Me Now!!)

The Book of Tomorrow is about Tamara, a teenager who can best be illustrated by Brene’ Brown’s description of how many young people are perceived today:

  • Always me, me, me
  • Thinks she’s better than everyone and is always putting other people down
  • Self-absorbed, grandiose…only interested in power, success, beauty, and being special
  • So entitled that [she believes] that [she’s] superior even when [she’s] not really contributing or achieving anything of value

But as Ms. Brown goes on to explain in Chapter 1, Tamara is acting out against the world for much more heartbreaking reasons that are “underpinned by shame.”

Brene’ cautions against diagnosing and labeling “narcissism” as such behavior on our part is “normally served with a side of contempt, anger, and judgement.”  And she reminds us that “we don’t ‘fix it’ by cutting people down to size and reminding folks of their inadequacies and smallness.”

This part of the book immediately brought to mind how Coach – the most patient human I know – is always coaching with love, respect, and encouragement.  Whereas I am wayyyy too quick to form an opinion (i.e., judge others), he is a great listener, and his delay in assuming things about people allows him to see through the insecurities and vulnerabilities that they are carrying around with them.  He is able to see the world through different eyes and from varied viewpoints, empathize, and show compassion for past experiences and challenges which opens the door to the best relationships.

Luckily, Tamara has her own Coach in Sister Ignatius, someone who sees past her defenses and hatred, someone patient and compassionate to give her time and space to grow.  And within that growth, Tamara naturally develops a decrease in “I” and “me” while learning that her actions and behavior do have consequences:

“…it obviously depended on how I lived the day when I awoke. The future hadn’t been written yet. It was still in my hands.”

I could go on and on (you probably feel as though I already have), but I’ll stop so that you can enjoy both books for yourself.  Just know that when you get to page 25 of Daring Greatly, I have personally felt each and every “Never Enough” tape listed as well as many, many more, so if you, too, feel like Brene’ Brown is speaking directly to you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: I have to share this pic…it’s a beautiful mom and her precious daughter also reading by the pool yesterday, together and without an electronic device in sight.  It warmed my heart tremendously ❤

There’s an App for That

Many months ago – like 7 of them! – I was invited to join the #WalkiePosse team on the Charity Miles app to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

FullSizeRender.jpg-2.jpeg

I downloaded the app, set up my profile, and that’s as far as I got.

FullSizeRender.jpg-1

Yes, I am sad to confess that I contributed exactly ZERO of my team’s 12,745 total miles.  Which means that my 78 team members are responsible for approximately $3,186.25 in donations to the Alzheimer’s Association while I was responsible for ZILCH 😦

But today, I started walking.

And I liked it!

IMG_0390

(That is the actual beach in Hawaii where I walked today.  Not a bad site for a stroll!)

The app is a free download, and the donations are made by sponsors such as Brooks Running, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, Garmin, and many more.

All it takes is tapping <Start Workout> when beginning a walk, run, or bicycle ride. (That’s the part that it took me so ridiculously long to remember to actually do – grrrr!)

And then press the <Finish> button when the work is done.

If you walk your dog, jog for exercise, or bike for fun, please consider joining our team: #WALKIEPOSSE to help #ENDALZ.  Or start your own team to support causes that are near and dear to you.

How fun that there’s an app for that!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: I also truly believe that I should receive triple credit for today’s workout as walking in the surf was 3x more difficult than the normal walk around the block…just saying!!

FullSizeRender.jpg.jpeg

How can I help?

How can I help?

This seems like such an innocent question, right??

It is always asked with the best of intentions from someone who would not be asking if they did not mean it.

And yet…I realized over the last year that it is often a tough question to answer.

That epiphany has put me on a quest for what I call a “tangible call to action.”

Anyone who is currently serving on a board, committee, or planning panel with me is very likely already sick to death of me saying “tangible call to action,” but I’m not giving up anytime soon.

I believe that if we are accepting assistance – and I can NOT survive without it! – then the person offering that assistance deserves a clear, concise response that includes a tangible call to action.

First of all, not providing a tangible call to action is disrespectful of the gift of a person’s time.  Without specific directives, one can not lend a helping hand, thus offering to do so is a waste of everyone’s time.  Harsh, but TRUE.

Secondly, many people simply want to serve as a worker bee.  They do not want to share in the big picture, the vision, or the scope of a project; they simply want to do a little manual labor to lighten the load, feel a sense of accomplishment, and move on with their day their life.  They can only accomplish this if they’ve received a tangible call to action.  Seriously, I can’t expect someone to DO anything if I can’t tell them what needs to be DONE!

Lastly, if committee members, helpers, and volunteers do not have a checklist – a tangible call to action – which can be physically checked off as they go, then they feel unwanted, unneeded, and unnecessary.  As the leader of the group, I know that is far, far from the truth, but if I have not given out the tools needed to work with me, then that is the message I have sent.  And just like an accidental email, that message is out there forever.  I cannot take it back.

Sooooo…I’m putting my rantings into reality.

Last year, many – as in NUMEROUS – wonderful friends, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, and family members asked how they could help as Coach and I chaired the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Sadly, I did not have a quick reply, a workable answer, nor a tangible call to action.

Because I was unprepared to lead them, their offer fell on deaf ears, and while some hung around to enjoy the event for themselves, many others felt unwanted, unneeded, and unnecessary which means they moved on to other endeavors.

Well, I do WANT help, NEED help, and REQUIRE help to make this year’s event what it should be!!

I’ll be doing a much better job of providing specific – and tangible – calls to action, and here is my first:

vol invite tulsa.jpg

Please join me for our 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Volunteer Kick Off Party which is coming up on April 12th. It’s from 6-8:30 in the evening at the Hardesty Regional Library – Pecan Meeting Room (8316 E. 93rd Street). When you asked how to help last year, we didn’t have great answers. This year we are working to make that an easier process.

The planning committee “leads” will be on hand to share their “piece of the pie” in producing the Walk.  Perhaps you are passionate about outreach, possibly you could help us organize recruiting and awareness events, maybe you’d like to assist with the logistics on Walk day…whatever your flavor, however much time and energy you are able to contribute, you can find the perfect place to serve.

You’re not committing to anything by attending the kickoff, so please come on out if you can!!

For more information and to RSVP for the orientation, contact Rebekah at the Alzheimer’s Association Tulsa Office: 918-392-5000 or via email at readams@alz.org.

Of course, you can always reach out to me, too, and I promise to have a ready response which includes a tangible call to action 😉

See you on the 12th!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

Spring Break 2018

Spring Break 2018 was truly a great one!

Me and Coach and the kids enjoyed a positively perfect week of relaxing family time…

We made it to Spring Training for our Houston Astros:

FullSizeRender-8.jpg

IMG_8508.JPG

IMG_8510.JPG

IMG_8476.JPG

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

We spent some quality time on the beach, which included reading:

FullSizeRender.jpg

FullSizeRender 9.jpg

And practicing a little yoga:

IMG_8098.JPG

FullSizeRender 4.jpg

And, of course, playing some catch:

FullSizeRender 7.jpg

FullSizeRender 8.jpg

We didn’t set a morning alarm for 5 straight days, and we spent the evenings playing cards, enjoying movies, and simply slowing down for a few minutes to take a deep breath and enjoy being together as a family.

Meanwhile, the Alzheimer’s Association was having quite a week itself, both in Washington as well as in Oklahoma…

  • Oklahoma HJR 2014, a resolution presented to the House by Representative Cyndi Munson and to the Senate by Senator Ervin Yen​ was passed by both the Oklahoma House and Senate declaring Alzheimer’s a Public Health Crisis in Oklahoma.  This may seem like a small step, but in actuality it’s a big leap in the right direction!
  • Oklahoma HB 2514 has been approved by the Floor Leader, Senator Greg Treat, to move to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for consideration. This is the bill that I was advocating to get passed when I spent a day at the capital in OKC.  That day we witnessed government in action as Representative Cyndi Munson and Senator Ervin Yen introduced the bill, and it passed the House vote with flying colors.  Now it will move to committee and from there to the state Senate for final vote…#VoteYESonHB2514

IMG_8586.PNG

  • On Tuesday, March 20th, the Alzheimer’s Association released their 2018 Facts and Figures.  This annual report is an update on where we stand in fighting this disease, and while the death toll and diagnosis rates have only gone up, knowledge is power; therefore, it is critically important that we read, understand, and share all we know…#Every65Seconds.
  • On Wednesday, March 21st, the U.S. Congress, in its final appropriations negotiations for fiscal year 2018, included a $414 million increase for Alzheimer’s and dementia research in its spending plan for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and today, Friday, March 23rd, it was finalized and signed into law.  Oklahomans should be very proud of Representative Tom Cole who is a major voice on our behalf, one of our very best national advocates to #endALZ, and a driving force behind this historic budget victory.  This brings annual research funding to $1.8 billion which is knocking on the door of the $2 billion per year that scientists have said is necessary to eliminate this disease.  Please, please take 30 seconds to thank your congressional representatives for supporting this critical funding bill:  Click here to send an email of thanks.
  • Last – but certainly not least – the Alzheimer’s Association is very excited to announce that another one of our priorities — Kevin and Avonte’s Law — has been signed into law. Kevin and Avonte’s Law reauthorizes the Missing Americans Alert Program to help local law enforcement officials quickly identify people with Alzheimer’s who wander and reunite them with their families.

ALZ blog pic.jpg

If you are already receiving Alzheimer’s updates and information, I am sure you’ve been grinning at your inbox just like I have this week.  If you aren’t getting the updates, please join AIM, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.  It involves only a $20 annual membership fee, and we need you as a member.  The greater the number who join, the clearer the message to Congress that America deserves and demands that we as a nation properly care for those living with Alzheimer’s, that we actively support their caregivers, and that we make finding treatments and then a cure a top priority.

Well, friends, I will step off my soapbox and leave you with my heartfelt hope that you, too, have had a fabulous Spring Break 2018…and maybe a few ocean outtakes 😉

IMG_8369.JPG

FullSizeRender 5.jpg

IMG_8272 2.JPG

IMG_8283 2.JPG

IMG_8258.JPG

IMG_8461.JPG

IMG_8467.JPG

Love and hugs,

Ashli

New Year. New Walk. Let’s Go!

It’s January 11th, and if you are anything like me, you are watching your nice, new, neat-and-clean calendar begin to fill. Quickly!!

One date you should need to save is Saturday, September 15th.  Make plans now to join me and Coach for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For the second year we are serving as Walk chairs, and the Walk again takes place on the grounds at the University of Tulsa and is followed by Coach’s 4th Annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Game versus Arkansas State University.

Just like the clean slate that was my calendar, the new year means that we start from scratch on our Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising and team building.  Our TEAM SANDRA JEAN site is up and running and ready for you to join and donate.

Please click to here to get started:  http://act.alz.org/goto/MommaMonty

One of my very favorite moments of 2017 was October 14th when our Tulsa Walk passed the $1 Million fundraising mark:

 

This year our Tulsa goal is $1.25 Million in fundraising, 500 Walk teams, and 5000 participants.

I quiver a bit typing those numbers, but I know they are totally do-able.

WITH YOUR HELP!

Please start your Walk efforts soon – in fact, start NOW, with me.  By us starting this early, we can reach more people, we can invite a greater number of community members, friends, and family to participate, and we can increase awareness of this devastating disease exponentially.

Another one of my most favorite moments of 2017 was our Walk day on September 23rd.  Here are just a few pics that illustrate what an absolutely amazing day it was:

Working to #endALZ so these precious kids never have to become caregivers!

SonShine and ClaraBelle posing “with” Coach

Angel Girl started a Cascia Hall Walk team for her school, and her sweet friends were a huge support…

…and of course they made a cute shirt!

Aunt Sister and Aunt Angela enjoying the Walk

My brother-like-cousin, Cody, his wife, Jill, and their spunky Miss M posing for me with their son, W, and Uncle Shaun (my baby brother) in the back

Uncle Charles and our beautiful Alyssa along the Walk route

Thousands of Walkers came out, including their adorable pups!!

What a sight!! This one really overwhelms me ❤

Thank YOU to all of our fabulous volunteers!

Yes, we do!!

Hoping for that 1st Survivor and millions more to follow the first.

I still get chills and tears when I scroll through those, and I am already fired up and looking forward to our 2018 event!!

Hope to see you registered at www.TulsaWalk.org and I will definitely see you on September 15th 🙂

With love and hugs,

Ashli

Turning 43

This week I shall turn 43.

IMG_5496.jpg

It ain’t pretty.

Spanx have become a staple.

The white glistens in my hair within about 20 minutes of dying it dark.

I’m drooping, sagging, and flopping in places that one should never droop, sag, nor flop.

Sometimes, when I walk past a mirror, I do not even recognize that the reflection is me.  Don’t even get me started on if I accidentally walk past a mirror unclothed!

I have only one ovary, just one functioning knee, and at least one trip to the restroom per night.

My eyes have been repaired, and my uterus has been removed.

My esthetician is on speed dial, I use my eye cream religiously, and I am not above miracle cures for sun spots and wrinkles.

Its true: I am not going down with much grace.

But I am going down with a fight.

I am doing everything possible to retain the health of my body as well as my brain…

I continue my yoga practice and attend a class at Barre 3 as much as my schedule and knee allow.

I strive to eat healthy and have studied and learned enough about my nutrition that when I do splurge, it is my decision and a conscience choice.

I cook and clean and read and sew and stay active, and I get plenty of sleep each week.

I say my prayers, count my blessings, and sing praises for this amazing life which I have been gifted.

I advocate and work towards a world without Alzheimer’s so that I may remember this life until its end.  And so that my children may enjoy the final years that we are together.

One way in which I am making a different in the fight against Alzheimer’s is with my membership in the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.  I have written once before about AIM, so I will not rehash the who, what, and how, but I will revisit the why…

To begin, you need to know the basic process for affecting large-scale medical advancement in America:

-> Local events educate small groups who begin to share what they have learned which becomes part of regional conversation.

-> The small groups and those concerned across the country unite to become a large, national voice.

-> Elected officials hear the large voice and become aware of broad-based concern through advocacy efforts.

-> Legislators fund impactful research.

-> High level, innovative, creative, and critical research paves the way to treatment and cures.

Over the past 50 years, this process has provided major developments in the treatment and survival of cancer, breast health, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS though political action groups and advocacy organizations.

It is imperative that this process now take hold in the battle to end Alzheimer’s Disease, and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement is the platform that will get it done.

There is strength in numbers.  The work that AIM has done in conjunction with local efforts through the Alzheimer’s Association has procured big budget gains in ALZ research through the NIH over the past few years.  The greater our numbers, the louder our voice, the louder our voice, the stronger the pressure, the stronger the pressure, the more likely legislators are to support, the more supportive the legislators, the more that gets approved, the more that gets approved, the bigger the steps forward, the bigger the steps forward, the sooner we have some way – some chance – of fighting this disease.

Sadly, we are still terribly underfunded and way, way behind.

So, here is my birthday wish:

Help me celebrate my birthday.

I ask that you take a quick 5 minutes and just $20, and please use this link to join AIM with me: AIM Membership Referral.

It is an annual membership, so I will be sure to remind you to renew next year…

You know, when I turn 44 and hopefully have no additional “signs of aging” to report 😉

With love and hugs,

Ashli (age 42 + 362 days)

Scan 6.jpg

Scan 5.jpg

Scan 7.jpg

Scan 4.jpg

Bethany’s Almond Grahams

A beautiful friend shared this recipe with me a few years ago, and now I will share it with you.  And you will thank us both.

It is very quick to make, very easy to serve, and very addictive to eat.  What more can one wish for or want from a scrumptious snack?

Bethany’s Almond Grahams

IMG_5449.jpg

Ingredients:

  1. 24 Graham Crackers (1 cracker = 1 long “sheet” made up of 2 squares or 4 rectangles)
  2. 2 Sticks of Butter (I use sweet cream and salted.)
  3. 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  4. 6 oz. Sliced Almonds
  5. Dash of Sea Salt

IMG_5450.jpg

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line 2 cookie sheets with foil and place graham crackers side by side, covering the cookie sheets.

IMG_5454.jpg

  • In saucepan, melt butter and dissolve brown sugar over medium heat until it thickens and begins to bubble.

IMG_5453.jpg

IMG_5460.jpg

  • Spoon butter mixture over graham crackers and smooth to cover all. (I like using a basting brush better than a spoon, but both work just fine.)

IMG_5462.jpg

  • Sprinkle with almonds.

IMG_5463.jpg

  • Bake at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes, or until bubbly and almonds begin to brown.

IMG_5464.jpg

IMG_5465.jpg

  • Remove from oven and sprinkle very lightly with sea-salt.
  • Let cool completely and break into odd-shaped, bite-sized pieces. (The crackers seem to lift off the foil in a big layer, and then they are easy to break apart into small pieces.)

IMG_5466.jpg

I (on the spur of the moment and at the last second, of course) have decided to make these for Halloween treats by putting 3 “sheets” worth of crumbled grahams in a bag and tying with a bow (each recipe batch with make 8 goodie bags).  I should go to the store to purchase cute Halloween baggies, but I am dead-set and determined to use up the horde-like stash of junk crap stuff mess *#@! craft supplies that I already own, so boring bags and random ribbons will have to do.  Luckily, I have found in my years of mothering that goodie bag recipients typically do not care all that much about the packaging yet almost always love the contents 😉

IMG_5467.jpg

And if I should snag a baggie to enjoy with the best Halloween book of all time and a favorite cup of tea?  Well, there is certainly no shame in that, either!!

IMG_5472.jpg

Happy Halloween…with love and hugs,

Ashli

My Home

The Montgomery crew just completed two consecutive weeks of Homecoming…the first at Angel Girl’s high school, the second at TU.

Let it be known: I LOVE HOMECOMING!!

Here is a selection of (BIG and BEAUTIFUL) mums that I have made over the years:

Scan 4

Clara Belle, Uncle Shaun, and Miss K (who was crazy enough to grow up to be a [strong and amazing] football coach’s wife!)…Stephenville High School, 1996.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

Angel Girl, Bruceville-Eddy High School, 2009.

IMG_2407 (2)

For SonShine’s date, China Spring High School, 2012.

IMG_2415 (2)

We don’t leave out the boys, either…a garter for Angel Girl’s date, also 2012.

I LOVE MAKING MUMS!!

Here are a few homecoming goodie bags from over the years:

IMG_2421 (2)

2012

IMG_9583 (1)

2014

IMG_4862

2015

I LOVE CREATING GOODIE BAGS!!

Here are my babies attending homecoming dances:

IMG_5452

Angel Girl, Freshman Year, 2015.

IMG_5469

The gorgeous Miss C with SonShine, Junior Year, 2015.

IMG_8545

Two very good looking kiddos, Sophomore and Senior Years, 2016.

IMG_5292

Sweet B and my Angel Girl, Junior Year, 2017.

I LOVE MY BABIES!!

Here are some of my favorite homecoming victories:

IMG_5772

2013

IMG_9861 (1)

2014

IMG_1359

2016

IMG_5308

2017

IMG_5376

Yesterday!

I LOVE VICTORIES!!

And parades 🙂

This year I was honored to close out TU’s homecoming festivities with a session of “recovery” Yoga With Momma Monty on the football field.  Today was a perfect, crisp, sunny morning.  There was a crew cleaning the stands from yesterday’s game, a few folks were running bleachers, and a handful of alumni/employees came to practice with me.  It was both energized and peaceful in the same moment.

By definition, “yoga” means “calming the fluctuations of the mind.”  I find that incredibly valuable in a world that is overfilled with electronics, displays, beeps, words, sounds, music, lights, and stimuli in every shape and form.  Developing the ability to calm the mind is life-changing because it filters out the noise of life and refocuses on the right now.

This moment is the most important.  And once you let this moment pass, it will never be revisited nor regained.  Therefore, living in this moment, thinking in this moment, and loving in this moment is more important than I know how to explain or describe…so just trust me: it is!

Loving this moment, this place, and this life is my idea of being HOME.

When Coach asked me to marry him, when he asked me to be a coach’s wife, he said we might move around, he said we will experience be both adoration and hatred (often by the same people from week to week), and he said it would be tough at times.

He also said that as long we were together, it would be beautiful, rewarding, and fulfilling life work. TOGETHER.

When we chose to start a family, we reiterated our motto: as long as our children are safe, we can go anywhere, and together we will thrive.

We’ve embraced that mindset for 23 seasons now.

Coach is my home.

He is my shelter, he is my safe place, and he is my strength.

You can love him or detest him.  You can praise him or slander him.  You can support him, or you can choose to not.  But you – not anyone – can ever diminish him or cause me to doubt him.  Yes, he’s a brilliant, incredible football mind.  But even more so, he is patient, and he is kind.  He is emotional and loves big, in a whole-hearted kind of a way.  He is the epitome of a wonderful provider, the definition of a family leader.  He takes care of me, and he takes care of our family; he takes care of everyone in his world.  He supports me and all my crazy ideas and projects and aspirations.  He believes in me when often I don’t even believe in myself.

We love each other deeply and with great intention.

Yes, Coach is most certainly my home.

Which means that our kiddos are my decorations.  They make my life pretty!  They add sparkle and excitement and fun and flair.  They are joyful and funny, sweet and smart, fragile and strong, sturdy and delicate, rustic and elegant.  They are go-with-the-flow, low-maintenance, and easy-casual. They are high-end and high quality.  They are absolutely priceless.  They are the most blessed bonus of this life and the sweetest of icing on my cake!

Wherever are those three, my heart and my home will also be.

So, that’s my idea of home (as well as a photographic display of why I find homecoming so very fun).  I hope your home – not the walls and floors and ceilings and windows around you, but the people who create the foundation for your life…I hope they know that they are your home, just as I hope that Coach, and our SonShine and Angel Girl, know that they are mine.

One last thing to share…I’ve never done this so I hope it works.  I use Spotify to create my yoga playlists, and today’s Homecoming Yoga list turned out really well (if I do say so myself), so here it is:  YWMM – Home

Have fun listening, and have a wonderful week ahead 🙂

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS:  We have also dealt with our share of homecoming defeats.  Of course, no season is rainbows and butterflies 24/7…

IMG_5419

2016, 43-7 Homecoming loss to Oologah.

But one needn’t question our resolve; our love never waivers.

Struggle brings this family closer; we find ways to build one another up.  And win or lose, I could not love my Coach and my kids – my life, my love, and my home – any more fervently, any more devotedly, nor any more passionately than I do right now, in THIS moment.

xoxox,

A.

Blame it on the Son[Shine]

We have a little joke around our house these days: blame it all on SonShine…he’s gone to college and not here to defend himself.  Of course, he knows we are only teasing.

IMG_5212

I miss him…he misses torturing his baby sister.

And yet, we also have a saying around our house: all jokes are rooted in truth.

Therefore, it only makes sense to blame my perfectly precious SonShine for the fact that I have cooked dinner at home this semester precisely ONE time.

YIKES!

Here’s the deal, though…I have done spectacularly well with his leaving home and moving into the dorms at TU.  I give him oodles of space, I never nag about schoolwork, and I don’t even “lecture” when all my maternal instincts go on full-alert sending me signals that perhaps I should simply remind him of the basics (Rule #1, slow down when you drive, be extra aware when out and about, etc…).

IMG_5178.jpg

I love that he loves college.  I love seeing his smiling face when I am on campus.  I love watching him thrive in his environment.  I love that he has found his place.  I love when he calls me out of the blue just to talk.

And yet, I miss him being at home.

I miss him most at dinnertime, and without realizing it, I just quit creating dinnertime.

Angel Girl eats anything, I eat everything, and Coach is rarely home to eat at all – at least before 9 pm.

But my SonShine, he is picky.  He likes what he likes, he loves what he loves, and that’s about it.  He is by definition finicky and difficult and has zero intention of branching out, broadening his horizons, nor expanding his palette.

He is also the very biggest, most enthusiastic fan of my cooking.  He will take my home-cooking over absolutely anything else.  As long as it’s one of my recipes and prepared by my hands, he’s all over it.  He digs into what he likes; he devours what he loves.  And he eats and eats until he absolutely cannot eat anymore.

For a crazy, southern momma like myself, there is no greater display of love!

I treasure that.  And I miss that.

And since he is not here to relish in my cooking, I just kinda stopped.

But my hard-working Coach and my beautiful Angel Girl deserve a little mothering, too, so I am climbing back on the horse and jumping back into the game…

First step: take my own advice:  plan a month of meals.

IMG_5222.jpg

It’s a [tiny] bit sad to start by filling in all the nights that I won’t need to cook due to other engagements and obligations.  One can see how transitioning from “dinner every night mom” to “mom who doesn’t cook” was so effortless!  But after all the fun stuff is penciled in, I am still left with at least three nights a week to take care of my crew.

Last night was Night #1:

Nana’s Chicken Spaghetti.

IMG_5220.jpg

IMG_5221.jpg

My theory on this recipe is that – like all the very best recipes – it stands the test of time and taste because it is easy to make, scrumptious to eat, and plenty filling.  I received the recipe from my mother-in-law when Coach and I got married almost 22 years ago.  I have also seen it nearly character-for-character in Ree Drummond’s first cookbook which leads me to believe that it has been present at many a Texas/Oklahoma church potluck over the past 100 or so years.  Needless to say, one can never go wrong with a recipe that has found a long life on the Church of Christ cookbook circuit!!

 Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups (or 2 cans) chopped, cooked chicken
  2. 1 c. chopped celery
  3. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  4. 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  5. 1 can chicken broth
  6. 4 oz. chopped pimentos
  7. 12 oz. spaghetti cooked in broth
  8. grated cheese (original recipe says Velveeta melts best)
  9. salt and pepper

IMG_5223.jpg

Instructions:

  • Saute celery, bell pepper, and onion in a small amount of oil.

IMG_5225.jpg

  • Mix with soup.
  • Add chicken, pimentos, and spaghetti.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_5227.jpg

  • Place in 9×13 pan.

IMG_5230.jpg

  • Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  • Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts.

I served Nana’s Chicken Spaghetti with fresh, steamed green beans and garlic toast.

IMG_5231.jpg

IMG_5238.jpg

I am happy to report that there were no complaints, so I suppose my cooking skills are still intact.

We did not, however, eat at the usual dinner table.  It stays set for 4, and I am no where near ready to remove a place setting.

IMG_5234.jpg

Luckily, the game table is less than 10 feet away and serves our purposes just fine.

IMG_5236.jpg

IMG_5237.jpg

Baby steps, I reckon.

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: Tonight is Layered Enchiladas…another family favorite, so I’m batting 1000 🙂

ONE DAY

ONE DAY.jpgTomorrow is the day!

You’ve watched/read/listened to me talk about this Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s for months now, and the big day has finally arrived.

Here is what you need to know:

  • 7:30 am – Arrive at TU for the pre-Walk festivities such as a live DJ, face painting, photo booths, bead contest, inflatables, balloon artist, games, and much more.  The party is happening on Dietler Commons which is directly west of McFarlin Library at 6th Street and Delaware:image1.jpeg
  • Parking – no college campus in America has fabulous parking…this is what I recommend…
    • If you are a TU football regular (THANK YOU!!), just park where you always do for games.  By the time the Walk is over, game traffic will be heavy, and this way you are already settled in your normal spot using your normal pass or permit.
    • UBER/LYFT
    • Keplinger/Law Lot at Harvard and 4th Place will become a cash lot three hours before kickoff, but Walkers will beat the money-collector, so it’ll be free for those arriving before 9:30 am.
    • Public Lot at Harvard and between 4th Place and 3rd Street is a TU-owned lot that is used for game day traffic and open to Walk participants at no charge.
    • Prosperity Bank at 1330 S. Harvard has donated their entire lot for Walk participants.  The Alzheimer’s Association has partnered with several senior living facilities to provide shuttles from here to campus.  Of course, one can always use the 2 blocks to campus as a nice “warm up” for the walk 😉
    • Wherever one can find a spot that does not have a posted “NO PARKING” sign in front of it is fair game.  (Hey, I said upfront, “No college in America has fabulous parking.”)
  • 8:45 am – Finish up your bead collecting and photo taking and make your way in front of the stage for the event program with my beautiful friend and our special guest emcee Neile Jones from KTUL Channel 8.
  • 9 am – Fall in to start the Walk, and be sure to SMILE!  A friend of TU has offered to take drone photos for us, and they are going to be AWESOME!!  The first jaunt of the Walk will be to circle Dietler Commons so that we fill in the entire perimeter of the Old U with purple advocates to END ALZ.  At that moment, 6 lucky volunteers will hold up huge signs that spell out E – N – D – A – L – Z for the perfect ariel pic.  This was dreamed up by yours truly, and I am totally fired up to see it in living color!
  • 10 am(ish) – After crossing the Finish Line at the Kendall Bell in Bayless Plaza, keep walking over to Chapman Commons, AKA: the New U, to relax at the ALZ tent, and enjoy live music, another set of inflatables, more games, more food, and more fun!
    • PS: Food trucks are available in the VIP Lot just east of the New U (right between Chapman Commons and Chapman Stadium) in case you’re ready for some brunch, lunch, or a cold beverage.
  • noon – Gather up your goodies, find a can for your trash, and get your crew on into Chapman Stadium for Coach’s 3rd Annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Game vs. New Mexico.
    • Stop by the Alzheimer’s Association table just inside Gate 2 to enter a raffle for an autographed TU football helmet as well as 6 tickets (and a parking pass) to next weeks game vs Navy.
    • When on defense, make all the noise you possibly can.  Stomp, scream, clap, and holler…whatever it takes!  We want to annoy, beleaguer, and bedevil the opposing team’s offense as much as possible.
    • When on offense, wave your flag.  These are available for game use [for free], so pick one up on your way into the stadium, and wave it big so that our boys feel our energy while still hearing their own cadence and count.
    • “Reign Cane” on our 1st Downs!  Listen for the announcer to call out each “Golden Hurricane First Down” and answer with a loud and resounding “REIGN CANE”  and be sure to get your entire section shouting with you!
    • Stand and stay.  Yes, stand up throughout the entire game…it’s ok if the person behind you can’t see because they need to stand up as well 🙂  And please, please, pleeeeeeaseeeee stay until the end!  Regardless of the score, I can promise you that your Golden Hurricane football team, coaches, trainers, cheerleaders, band members, and the myriad of behind-the-scenes workers have put every bit of their heart into this endeavor, and they absolutely love seeing and thanking the fans after the game.  They are wonderful about signing autographs, posing for pictures, and giving hugs and high fives, so please stick around and let them know you were here today!
  • 5 o’clock…or so – Plop down on your couch, put up your feet, find a few more CFB games on TV to enjoy because you’ve earned it.  Just be sure to make plans to be back at TU next Saturday, September 30th to do it all over again against Navy.

IMG_1101.jpg

ONE DAY…

One day is enough time to register and make plans to participate in this year’s Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s if you have not yet done so.

One day will have us knocking on the door of our $1 Million fundraising goal; please consider donating here if you have not already, and if you have: THANK YOU!

One day we will have the money allocated to research this disease at a national global level that will produce viable treatment options.

One day I will see my Grandma Syble again.

One day we will have a first survivor.

IMG_5011.JPG

Thanks for sticking with me throughout this 8 month journey, and thank you for helping me Walk to end ALZ!

Love and hugs,

Ashli