Monday, December 15, 2008

Almost Christmas!'s December. We're already pretty tired--I'm the at the end of an 8 day working stretch; Geoff is putting in lots of overtime plus balancing school, and life is flying by. I can't believe that the day after Christmas will be 5 months of marriage! It's gone by so quickly--kinda scary!

Work has been rough for me lately. Huge labor cuts have made my job a lot more difficult, as well as added the burden of trying to make schedules that still allow us to offer good service. So far I've done an alright job, but I've still got a lot to learn before I'm really running things efficiently. All in good time. My staff has been amazingly helpful throughout all of this. I love working with some of my best friends..I've developed great relationships with a few of my employees and their spouses and it's truly been an answer to a prayer of mine and Geoff's since before we got married. While we have many wonderful relationships in our lives as individuals, and some as a couple, we had desperately wanted a group of people who got along well, and found activities to enjoy together. We love hanging out in groups, and we were thrilled to find a few other couples, all newly married in the last 2 years, who have similar senses of humor and love board games as much as we do. More importantly, they all share our faith and we've found this the most wonderful part of it. Even more wonderfully, I've developed some great friendships with the ladies of these couples and they've encouraged me more in the past few months than I was ever expecting! It's so important to me to have companionship on the journey of learning to become a great wife for Geoff. I feel like so often women are stereotyped as sitting around together complaining that their husbands didn't clean the kitchen or left the toilet seat up--but I love having being part of relationships that celebrate each accomplishment of the men we've been blessed with, no matter how big or small. We love sharing our joy together, and being there to remind each other of that joy even on the days when we might be tempted to forget!!

The other big event of life recently was the birth of Steven Patrick Coleman, born to Bethany and Daniel on December 13th. I was so excited to go to the hospital that evening and meet the little man...who truly is a little MAN. Full head of hair, strong and sturdy (born early at over 9 pounds!!) It was really beautiful to see my friend after becoming a mom. Looking back to meeting her when I was only 12...thinking through the transformation of our friendship. We've been through SO many things together--breakups, marriages, deaths..huge life changes. To see her handle the biggest change yet with such complete beauty was really wonderful. I'm so excited to watch her and Daniel become amazing parents and see how Steven grows them together.

Welp. I'm sleepy! G'night!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey and More!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Wards had a wonderful Thanksgiving...our first one as a married couple! We spent a pretty fabulous day with my dad, stepmom, stepdad, and siblings on a farm out in Pennsylvania. Despite a few wrong turns on the way out there (courtesy of me) we got there and had plenty of time to enjoy everything. My sisters cooked an amazing meal and it was really special to be there with all of them. It's the first time I ever remember spending Thanksgiving with my siblings and it was so great. I think one of my favorite moments of the day was when we went around the circle and all said what we're thankful for, and my little brother was thankful for "Star Wars Guys." Haha, little kids are too cute. Geoff got to chop some wood and we both got to ride horses! It was one of my favorite Thanksgivings ever. Geoff had a really great time as well, which was fun for me to see. It's one thing to hang out with each others families because we have to, and quite another to truly enjoy it. But Geoff said it was one of the best Thanksgiving days he's ever had, too!

There was one gap in the day, which was not having my mom there. And she's pretty much the most special person ever...because she spent her whole Thanksgiving being completely selfless and spending the day visiting relatives and friends in the hospital. I love my mom. I hope one day I can be as giving as she is, and be willing to put so many other people before myself on a daily basis. I'm hoping some of her has rubbed off on me already and that more continues to.

Life has been busy and different for us lately. We're still not good at not seeing each other and it's hard to adjust to our new busy life. Work has also gotten busier for both of us (especially poor Geoff--he worked a fourteen hour shift on black friday!!) but we're excited for Christmas. Hopefully this week we'll be getting our first Christmas tree and get to decorate together. I can't wait!

The biggest thing I'm thankful for this year is my husband, who continues to amaze me with how much and how well he loves me. Whether it's cute little things like going to get my favorite frozen yogurt or bigger things like knowing just how to encourage me on a bad day, or going out of his way to serve me even when it means sacrifice; he loves me in a million ways that surprise me every day. We also have both been so blessed in the past few weeks to develop a really amazing group of friends. We've been lucky to have a lot of good friends, and even a lot of couple friends, but now we've sort of morphed into a few couples that get along phenomenally well, are all Christians, all have the same sense of humor and have an absolute blast together. It's been a prayer of ours since before we even got married and it's really cool to see how God has seen fit to answer that prayer.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Yeah, so it's officially holiday in retail. Geoff worked a lovely 14 hour shift at the mall on Saturday, and I currently have piles of merchandise taller than I am in the back room of my store. (Luckily, I also have an assistant who is a lot taller than me at my store. Most of my days are spent saying, "Booker? Can you come get something for me?" "Um...Booker? Can you lift this box up there?" and my favorite, "Booker?? Can you open this apple juice?" He's big and tall. Kind of the opposite of me, which is why we're a great team. He puts things on shelves; I whine about them being too high. It's awesome.)
Both of us are already tired and slightly overwhelmed by everything to be done in the coming weeks but we're pushing through. Over dinner tonight, we both realized how stressed out we were getting and were able to encourage each other to push through! I'm so proud of my sweet husband--besides working crazy long shifts every day, he's also done an amazing job lately of managing his time so that he gets his homework done, goes to class, and STILL makes spending time with me and helping me with things a big priority. Friday night we got all dressed up and he took me out to our special restaurant (we went to Charthouse when we got engaged and for our one year dating anniversary) and it was so wonderful. Then this morning, he snuck in the bathroom during my shower, took my towel, put it in the dryer for me and brought it back all warm and toasty cuz he knew I was cold! He's been a wonderful husband, even when he's tired, and even when his wife is melting a bit...
November is typically a difficult month for me--or at least it has been for the past few years. November 10th marks the death of my cousin Brandon in 2005, and yesterday marked one year since my friend Dave died. Remembering Brandon was really great--it was the first anniversary that I've spent thinking of the time he was alive instead of replaying the days right after he died. Remembering Dave has been a little more difficult--if you think of it, please pray for his family. Dave died last year the day after Thanksgiving, and his birthday is also in a few days. His family will be having an extremely difficult holiday.
All in all life at the Wards is still wonderful--Geoff and I are falling more in love every day, and while that sounds cliche, it's totally true. We honestly find ourselves looking at each other sometimes and realize that we love each other more than the day before. We are continuing to find more ways to show that to each other, which for us is the happiest part of being married. Life is busy and a little stressful right now, but we're so blessed to have each other--and we try to never let each other forget!

Saturday, November 15, 2008 got insane pretty quickly here at the Wards....

Geoff began school a few weeks ago, and I'm still in my training class, which now puts one of us out the house 4 nights a week. Combine that with another night for small group, a daily trip to the gym, a few hang outs with friends, a week of house sitting, and the beginning of holiday life in retail and you're left with 2 very sleepy people. We also miss each other a lot, since we haven't gotten to spend much solid, uninterrupted time together lately. Luckily, next week settles down a tiny bit, we're back in our own house and not running back and forth when we were house sitting. And both of us are REALLY looking forward to Thanksgiving this year--for the first time I can ever remember, I'll be spending Thanksgiving with my Dad and stepmom and siblings. Plus, we get to go to a farm and ride horses (which Geoff is thrilled about.) It's going to be a really great day.

I've discovered in the past few weeks what I think people mean when they say "the first year is the hardest." I don't think it's true. But I do think that the hardest part is learning how to establish ourselves as our own family graciously, firmly, and without causing tension. Holiday family issues are difficult, perhaps even more so when everyone lives close together, and mine are even more complicated because of step parents, a sick grandmother, etc. It's going to be hard for Geoff and I to come up with a way to be fair, have fun, and enjoy the day fully with both our families. While I'm confident this will happen, I also know it will be trial and error. And perhaps this year will be error. But I hope not!

Work is going so well for me right now. I LOVE my staff. They are amazing and work so well together and are an amazing support for me as a new manager. It's been getting way busier already which is great.

I was really planning on typing more but I got too sleepy. Time to throw on some crock pot oatmeal for the morning and wait for hubby to come home from work...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Home again, home again!

Greetings! I'm pretty much as happy as I can be right I sit with my cup of coffee and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper reruns play in the background while my husband sleeps in. Being gone this week was not one of the more enjoyable experiences of my life; I'm thrilled to be back.

So, this week was my Starbucks conference in New Orleans...while I understand some of why we went there, I do question the wisdom behind that decision. It was the biggest conference to have taken place in New Orleans since Katrina, and it did put millions of dollars back into their economy. We also provided over 50,000 hours of community service while we were there, and it was very well received by the community. My beef, however, is with the idea behind taking ten thousand people to a city that is FAMOUS for getting drunk and partying. I heard so many people say "I NEVER drink at home, but if you come to New Orleans, you GOTTA party!!" Yeah. Thanks for that, Starbucks. Also, for anyone who has ever wanted to go to New Orleans, I found it a representation of society at its absolute lowest. It's almost like a different world--there's beer on the streets, so it's nice because I mean, you don't even have to sit down to get trashed. You can just get trashed while you walk, which makes it easier to be insanely stupid. Also, its easier to catch the beads that are thrown down off balconies by girls who are dressed in skimpy lingere. There are literally shops on the street with signs that say "Girl on Girl! Live Sex Acts Inside!!" and have pictures, GIANT pictures, of said acts. I was like, wow. I guess maybe in Katrina they all lost their computers, so now they just put porn on the streets. Nice. All in all I was very uncomfortable, and I'm not particularly close to anyone on my team, so I spent many hours missing my sweet husband.

But let's talk about the highlights: Biggest and best....Starbucks is going (RED)! We are partnering with the Red campaign to raise money for AIDS and HIV protection in Africa. I'm very excited about this, and it's a HUGE deal for us. The first promotion is going to raise a TON of money for the campaign and it's such an awesome organization. The big surprise came though when BONO came out to introduce it!!!! We had no idea he was coming, but it was just awesome. He is hilarious and wonderful. Most definitely the highlight of my week.

Last night was Halloween and our stupid street was lame...we were the only house with our light on, and thus got about three trick or treaters. It's ok though because we also had friends come over for a huge pan of dirt cake with gummy worms and I made some pumpkin gnocchi. I'm so...domestic. HAHA. (sike.)

Geoff loved his first week of school--its designed perfectly to cater not only to our lifestyle, but also to his learning style. Tons of reading (books that he's actually interested in!!) and responding; not a lot of busy work and stuff. He enjoyed going and said the 4 hours went by quickly, which will help him continue to be motivated. I continue to be more proud of him every day! Both of us are going into difficult seasons at work--him being at the mall and me working through a huge Christmas promo at ' will be a very busy month at our house!! With the addition of his school, my training classes, and a small group, we are now out of our house 5 nights a week which will add some new dynamics to our life. But we are still thrilled with the way things are falling into place and continue to enjoy every second we have together.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This week

It's been a big week here at the Wards...

Geoff's big news is that beginning either October 27 or March 9, he'll officially be a full time student again!! He is entering into a degree completion program at Washington Bible College which will allow him to receive a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and Ethics, which is PERFECT. Plus, he'll only be on campus on Monday nights which is amazing, since it still gives us a lot of time together. It will be a big change; Geoff isn't the biggest fan of school...I'm so proud of him for pursuing this. We're waiting on some paperwork/registration/finance stuff to go through before we know which cohort he'll be joining and if he'll start in fall or spring. Updates to come!

As for's been a pretty good week. I got in to see a different doctor on Tuesday and my new antibiotic has been helping a lot. There's still slight need for concern as I'm most likely needing to see a urologist in the coming weeks because of some questionable lab results. But I'm at least feeling more normal...cooked a few meals, cleaned some stuff, stayed up past 8pm. All in all, basically being "me." I've also recently begun the training class at the Crisis Pregnancy Center to become a Crisis Counselor and am loving it. I'm learning so much about the center, as well as counseling and communication in general. I've got 8 more weeks of class and then I'll go from there!

This week will be nuts for us! I'm leaving on Sunday for a trip to New Orleans for the Starbucks management conference, and there's so much to do between now and then. Monday we're having a "Pumpkin Party" here at our apartment, for a lot of our friends to come over and carve pumpkins and eat caramel apples, as well as the Halloween Funfetti cupcakes I'm making with monsters on top (pictures will come!) Tuesday and Wednesday night are work, and Wednesday night is a huge day at Starbucks since a lot of corporate people will be coming to tour my store. So much work. Thursday is crisis counseling training, Friday is trying out a new small group...and then it's time to head south! I'm feeling sleepy already.

All in all, we are both still thrilled with life. I'm not sure when the excitement of marriage actually begins to die down. I mean, I still wake up every morning with a HUGE grin on my face and giggled our way home last night simply because we were both driving to the same place! I literally get MORE giddy every day and I love it. I'm getting used to being married but it doesn't feel normal--and I don't want it to! It feels like the most special thing in the entire world. We're so lucky!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

total frustration.

Welp, the cleanse is off. We did it for a week...and then yesterday I was diagnosed with my 3rd urinary tract infection in less than a month. I am miserable. It's painful, as well as exhausting, and is frustrating me beyond belief. I have a really rough few days, take the medicine, it clears, and then I finally get back into my own routine, only to be knocked down by another one. We had to nix the plans for our 10 mile run because I've been able to push myself to work out as hard. I'm not able to take care of the house the way I want to, or to take care of my husband the way I want to. I'm also struggling with trying to find the energy that I need to put into the store now that I'm manager. It's been a difficult few days.

Luckily, my husband is amazing and encourages me and makes me laugh even when I start bawling the minute he walks through the door. He's wonderfully supportive and picks up the slack around the house when I'm not feeling well.

I'm going to see some specialists in the coming weeks to figure out what is going on. Prayers are welcomed and appreciated....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The cleanse continues...

So. Days one, two, and three pretty much sucked. It's really, really difficult to come up with things to eat on this cleanse. The most difficult part is really just coming up with actual meals. It's easy enough to grab an apple and carrot sticks and cashews, but it's a little harder to sit down to that for dinner. The first three days also brought much tiredness and headaches, I believe mostly due to the sudden elimination of all sugars. I was about ready to deem the cleanse ineffective...and then this morning I woke up, felt fantastic, and had the best day at the gym I can remember. And Geoff is feeling great today too. So hopefully as time goes by, our bodies will continue to readjust themselves. Fun times =)

Saturday, October 4, 2008


So on Monday morning, Geoff and I are embarking on a health adventure together. I've been feeling kinda sick lately, have been knocked down by a few infections and just feeling rotten in general. So I'm taking a big step and trying something I've been interested in for awhile, and Geoff is loving me and doing it with me even though it's not going to be fun. We're doing a cleanse!

I've been reading a book called "Quantum Wellness" by Kathy Freston. Basically the book describes the many dimensions of health--spiritual, emotional, physical...and how they all work together. While some of the stuff she says I don't really agree with, the hippie side of me really appreciates much of what she has to offer. Normally, I'm against cleanses. I'm totally against fasting (or, I should clarify, fasting for non-religious purposes. Fasting with prayer is different) or liquid diets, etc. I believe that our bodies are designed to cleanse themselves and doing such drastic things basically throws off the rhythm your body wants to function in. However, the cleanse recommended in this book is different. First, it doesn't require limiting your food intake. Food types, yes, but not food quantity. It's still possible to get energy, protein, etc from the cleanse she recommends. All you're basically doing is eliminating the hardest foods for your body to process and digest so that your body can focus on other things (in my case, fighting off infections and giving me back my energy.) It's in no way a permanent way of life; it's just basically a jump start to wellness. So, here's a list of the foods we'll be avoiding, and a brief explanation why:

Sugar: Sugar turns to glucose in your body. High levels of glucose triggers the production of insulin in your pancreas. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body produces and when the storage areas in your body are full, the sugar will be turned into fat. Insulin can cause inflammation in your cells (and thus is possibly linked with cancer.) Sugar can also be addicting and trigger cravings. Digesting refined and processed sugar also upsets the balance of vitamins and minerals in your body. By avoiding sugar for just a few weeks, you can actually reset your body to get more energy from less food. (And just for the record, we'll be avoiding not only white sugar, but all natural sugars including honey, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.)

Alcohol: Many of the same effects of sugar, since it also turns to glucose. Also highly addictive, and damaging to vital organs. (This will be the only easy part of the cleanse for me.)

Caffeine: Besides being addictive, caffeine can also be linked to anxiety, sleep disorders, body tensions, and headaches. Giving up caffeine lets you body restore its settings without the false adrenaline of caffeine. Since I think coffee is something that my stomach doesn't handle well to begin with, I'll be avoiding decaf as well. And since I can't have sugar or dairy, a cup of coffee isn't something I would have enjoyed anyways!

Gluten: The most common of all small intestine irritants. Because it's very difficult for the small intestine to digest, sometimes it leaks out into the bloodstream. It then attatches itself to certain brain receptors (which is why many times a gluten free diet will help children with ADHD, autism, and other learning disorders.) Eating too much gluten also takes away the small intestines ability to absorb nutrients from other foods. By giving it up for a few weeks, the small intestine can heal itself and get back on track.

Animal Products: Dairy is another commonly known allergen. It can lead to inflammation in your small intestine. Most of the idea of eliminating animal products though, is because of the hormones and chemicals that are in the cows and other animals we eat. Avoiding them for a short time also gives your body a chance to rest from these hormones.

*I will say we will most likely compromise on the meat--because we work out so much, it's difficult to get a high level of protein from vegan sources. We will most likely add in some fish a few nights, and maybe some chicken.

This will be difficult. But I'm hoping that the few weeks of it will give me renewed energy and health. I'm mostly telling everyone so that it's motivation for us to actually stick with it! 21 days. Wahoo. We'll keep you updated! =)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fireproof and beyond...

So it's now been 2 months since we started our journey together! We're still loving every second--each day keeps getting more and more fun as we develop our own routine and are finding out new things about each other. Luckily, our work schedules line up perfectly and we get to enjoy most evenings together and have been filling them up! We're usually pretty busy, but we're loving it. We're in the process of trying to find a small group at our church and are trying to work through scheduling issues and finding where we belong. Church is probably the most exciting thing going for us right now--we're in the middle of a sermon series called "Getting Out of Stuck" and it's been amazing! We're learning about ways to keep our spiritual growth on an incline and ways to encourage each other both as we grow spiritually as a couple and as individuals. We're touching on issues like community, personal growth, and intimacy with God. We're both really excited about continuing to learn. We are also loving our time volunteering at the espresso bar at church-Geoff is determined to perfect "latte art" and make pretty pictures with the foam and espresso shots. We'll be sure and post some pictures if he gets good!

This weekend marked our first road trip as a married couple! We went down to see my best friend Jill in Virginia Beach as a surprise for her birthday. She was shocked to see us...but even more shocked when she got engaged on Saturday! I've been working with her boyfriend (now fiance!) to help him put together some surprises and he did an amazing job of planning for her. They are SO in love and so happy and I'm thrilled for them as they plan their wedding.

One of our favorite times in the past month was going to see a movie together. We got to go (for free!) to see a sneak preview of the movie "Fireproof." It's out in theaters now, but we saw it a few weeks ago and we LOVED it. It follows a man and a woman who are on the brink of divorce and shows the man begin to pursue the woman...on the way discovering that he can never love her without God's love first. It is slightly cliche in some ways (the man struggles with pornography; the woman with an emotional affair...) but is such a story of redemption. It also presents the gospel far more blatantly than I ever would have expected to see in Hollywood. Instead of sidestepping the truth or using vague phrases about a "spirit of love" or whatever, the movie openly claims Jesus as the only way to save all sinners. If this movie stays in theaters and gets a lot of press, it could be an amazing testimony. We HIGHLY recommend everyone see it--especially married people!

Other than that, we're just pluggin along, living life, and loving each other. Life's so completely wonderful right now and we LOVE being married. It's pretty much the most fun thing in the entire world.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The basics

Hey everyone!

In an effort to keep everyone updated on our wonderfully exciting lives (ha...) especially the people we don't see all the time, we decided to start a blog to keep everyone in the loop! Most likely it will probably be me (Ashley) who types everything, but hey, we're one now. I speak for us both =)

We've been married for one month as of yesterday. It's amazing how fast the time has flown by and how quickly we've settled into our new life. We absolutely love our new apartment and living together. Logistically speaking, it's just great to not have to meet up after work and constantly meeting to pick up each others cars, etc. Plus it's just fantastic to have our best friend there when we wake up in the morning...and most of our nights are spent giggling together until we fall asleep.

Our two favorite things to do are cooking together and working out together. So far we've had a lot of delicious dinners (we're perfecting an amazing spaghetti sauce, as well as the worlds greatest turkey burger) and we make time almost every day to hit the gym--we're training for a 10 mile race on October 25 so we've got a lot of work ahead of us.

Speaking of work, the big news of the week is my promotion. I'm now Store Manager of Starbucks Governor's Plaza...a huge increase in responsibility, but it comes with a raise and I'm excited for the opportunity. Hopefully it will be a smooth transition!

Overall we're even happier than we ever thought we'd be. We're really busy and spend tons of time hanging out and catching up with friends, plus we're getting more involved in our awesome church (Bay Area Community) so life is nuts but we love it!

Thanks for stopping in--feel free to check back in and see how we're doing!