Ross + Extern


Oh wow, where do I begin. Back at the end of April Matt finally pushed me into inquiring about Ross Medical Center and within a few quick days I was enrolled on campus and attended their morning classes.

I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Ross was generally positive experience, save for a few hiccups involving cheating (not me, other students). Anyway, there I was lucky enough to meet many like minded women, one of which was the lovely Arlana. Arlana has been such an inspiration and I would be lost without her. She is truly one of my best friends now, and has really served as a positive light and drive in my life.

Anyway, Arlana, Arpana, Quantavia, and I all started on May 3rd and in a few quick months we have passed (with high honors I might add) all six mods. We are currently wrapping up our externship, which brings me to my next point…


I was fortunate enough to be able to extern at my own doctors office. I have went to NFP since I came here, so it’s been really awesome to get to work there. I am doing well there and think I get along fairly well with everyone so far. I am learning a lot and have really enjoyed everything. I have had some really amazing trainers (MA, C especially, and A). I have really grown to love these ladies already and I have loved my weeks as an extern there. I just finished my fifth week of a six week extern through Ross and it has actually lead me to…


So, Arlana and I both externed at nfp and were both offered positions there during our third week. While Arlana’s availability inhibited her from accepting, I did. I’m pretty excited and I have been busy the last few weeks doing all the necessary steps to start employment on Monday the 27th of November. I will kick Monday and Tuesday off with all-day orientation and then I will be spending Wednesday in our simulation lab, getting signed off on skills.

I also just took my RMA exam on Tuesday. I was extremely nervous and hyped it up way more than necessary. I was stressed because on my practice exams I took while on extern I got a 69 and needed a 70 to pass. I ended up taking it and passing with a 91 once I relaxed!

So, all of that has been awesome. I am really fortunate to have such a strong and amazing support system.


Getting organized


It’s been awhile, but I wanted to touch base on my latest organizational projects.

I started creating binders for everyone in the family, as well as a family binder. For the individual binders I have tabs such as:
– Education,
– Work (for the adults) and Extracurricular Activities,
– Medical History (with Mental health tab for me, and a therapy/Autism tab for Avila, and a Dental tab),
– Legal Documents,
– Personal Documents

Each tab is further divided by year, but I am finding that I am quickly running out of room. I should probably take out anything over 3 years old and invest in a file cabinet with some hanging files and file things away that way, but we shall see. It is really nice just being able to flip to the category I want, go to the year I want, and then I have little sticky notes to further break it down by month. So far I’ve made it approximately through a third of my paperwork that has accumulated all over my house. I never throw things out, especially things like that, and I needed to do something with it. So far I have found the binders to be very handy and convenient.

As for the family binder.
I have it tabbed off into the following categories:
– Contact Info
– Schedules
* Planner (I try to make sure I write everything down in this, my phone, and on the kitchen fridge to make sure everyone is aware of what’s going on, but we are still getting used to using the binder on a daily basis)
* Schedules / times / business hours of things such as the dance studio schedule for the current year, the youth group schedule, local library hours, etc.
– Goals and Overviews
* Weekly
* Monthly
* Annually
– Home
* Cleaning (Probably divided by year once we start doing this…)
* Maintenance (Probably divided by year once we start doing this too…)
* Utilities (Information; Currently needs to be paid; Divided by year: Notices)
– Vehicles
* His car
* My car
* His motorcycle
– Insurance
* Car (divided by year)
* Dental (divided by person / year)
* Health (divided by person / year)
* Home (divided by year)
* Motorcycle (divided by year)
* Pet (divided by pet / year)
*Vision (divided by person / year)
* Misc (divided by category / year)
– Owner’s Manuals, Protection Plans, Warranties
*Owner’s Manuals
*Protection Plans / Warranties
– Pets
*Divided per pet, further divided by year
– Important Dates
* Cover sheet of the year with the ~super duper important~ dates
* Sheets per month, numbered 1 – 30/31 with the person’s name and year
– Passwords and Access
– Entertainment
* Subscription Boxes
* Tickets
* DVD digital downloads
* Photography details / receipts / check lists of photos needed to get printed
– Parties
* Divided by person and year
– Travel
* Brochures
* Bucket lists
* Travel plans / itineraries

I use the tabbed dividers with the pockets for the main tabs, then normal plain tabbed dividers for the sub categories. If I arrange by Person first, I use the colored plastic tabs, and then use the plain, white tabs for the years.


Our finances go in it’s own binder. That one holds info such as our banking info, expense tracking, loan information, long-term savings goals and tracking, short-term goals and tracking, paid utilities, and that sort of thing. We save our receipts and I have them saved by month but I’m wondering if I should go through the tedious task of categorizing them all, but Idk, that sounds like a lot of work, even for me. Haha.

Then, the Food binder contains Avila-friendly recipes, take out menus, and meal planning information


I have also started Artwork Binders for each of the kids. I’ve been three-hole punching most things (and using sheet protectors for the rest) but I was getting overwhelmed with the amount of artwork the kids were giving me, and I didn’t want to get rid of all of it, so I started putting each kids’ artwork in binders and keeping them divided by years.

It’s working so far, but they’re still young. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for keeping things organized

July 13th


Today is July 13, 2017. Seven years ago today I had my second miscarriage. “Riley” never got an official due date, but based on math and knowledge, I would’ve been due around January 30th. 

Also today, only two years ago, I was overdue with Jensen and got the call to go to the hospital to be induced at 10:30 pm. Tomorrow, at 2:21pm, my baby boy will be two years old. I’m not sure how to deal with that. 



I really need to get better about writing in this regularly. There’s so many things going on that I don’t ever want to forget or cheapen but it’s just so much that when I do get a free moment, I don’t ever carve out the time to reflect on anything, I usually just end up falling asleep.

I really need to work on my time management skills so I can actually make some time to do everything in a day that I want to. Things with school though is really crazy for the next foreseeable future, and so I’m not going to get too down on myself for not keeping up with personal projects just yet.

On May 03, I started my first day at Ross Medical School in Roosevelt Park, MI. I’m going through their medical assisting program and I am so happy and proud of myself for doing this for myself, my kids, and my family. Medical assisting is something I’m really enjoying and I’m so happy of the flexibility and continuous learning it provides. Medical assisting is something I am really happy to do for a career, and makes me want to go back to school to continue my education even further and could allow me to really advance my career if I choose to do so. The door is wide open with opportunities from this. This actually marks my Day 10 of my second Mod. One Mod is 20 days, 10 days in administrative and 10 days in clinical. Every day is 8:15am-12:45pm. Because I am me, I like to be to school no later than 7:45am. If I arrive after 7:45 I feel rushed and late. Anyway, today marked the end of my second mod. I can’t believe how fast this is going. I’m set to end my last mod in October, extern someplace in November, and “exit” the program on December 5th. We won’t have a formal graduation ceremony until April, which kinda stinks, but is also cool that it allows us to all walk together, even with our friends that started on a different Mod than us.

Today, my friend Kristy left. She was the first person I met at Ross, and, quite honestly, was the reason I started off on the right foot there. She reassured me, encouraged me, taught me, pushed me, and helped me so much in our short two mods together. I’m not looking forward to walking in without her tomorrow. It’ll definitely take some getting used to. However, since Matt and I are planning on getting married in April (more on that in a different post), and I instantly clicked with Kristy and Arlana (a girl that started the same day I did), and they’re awesome, they’ve volunteered to help me make wedding stuff.

And I don’t want the world to see me, because I don’t think that they’d understand 


When everything is made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am

​I cut for 10 years, starting when I was 9 years old. From 9-19 it was an almost-every day thing. All over my body. Sometimes I’d have cut so deep or so much that pieces of my flesh would just tear and separate and I’d have holes in my body. I have scars from stiches on my arms. Don’t you dare tell me that placement is either “I’m doing it for depression” or “this means you’re only doing it for attention.” ANY mark on your own body is a cry for help. 

Sometimes I’d cut on my arms because I had no more space to cut open my thighs, stomach, etc. I don’t know a single person, personally, that has ever cut, that did it because they’re “just seeking attention. They just want sympathy.” They do it because they have nowhere else to turn. They feel lost, hopeless, defeated, and worthless. Not because it’s trendy. I used to cut because I’d be so consumed by anxiety and depression I didn’t even know which way was up. “When everything feels like a movie, and you bleed just to know you’re alive” have been so fucking true for me. It was my way to transfer my psychological pain and suffering into a tangible experience. I could literally watch and feel that pain, that hurt, that desperation come to the surface and bleed away. I would cut wherever I had open space, and at that point I didn’t care who saw. I was so far gone in my own head battling demons that I could give a shit less if my mom or teacher or friend saw it. Do you know how that feels? To go from hiding it to not giving a shit enough, to having so much pain that you just needed to get it out, and you didn’t care what or how that’d make someone else feel? I didn’t cut for you to feel sorry for me, I did it because I felt so low and angry and anxious and depressed and ashamed and I did not have a healthy or loving way to deal with those emotions or intrusive thoughts. Your sympathy is the last thing I was concerned with or wanted. Honestly, at that point, the world could’ve ended and I still would’ve done it. It had nothing to do with others, it was all me and the war going on inside my own head.

If you have cut or are cutting, please do not dismiss someone else’s struggles because they aren’t the same as yours or choose to struggle differently than you. Sometimes, when it does get that bad that you are seeing their scars, sometimes it means they’re so far gone and don’t know how to stop and ask for help. Instead of judging or dismissing them, offer support and encouragement.  

I really hope that everyone that is struggling with self injury can take a moment and try to remember that this pain is temporary. This pain is not who you are. You have so much more to offer the world. You are worth more than whatever negative self talk you tell yourself. You are not your scars. You are so much more than this. It does get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you are it. 

It is not an easy road to recovery. You won’t wake up one day and just not do it or not think of doing anymore. It is a constant fight. I still struggle, 10 years later. I have come so close to relapsing many, many times. Some as recent as last night. But I have decided that I am worth more than my depression. Depression is not who I am. Cutting is not who I am. I am Ashley, and I have so much to offer the world. I truly care about everyone struggling with self harm. If you EVER feel like someone doesn’t care, or if you want to stop and just can’t, please, please, please message me. *I* care about *you* and I’m willing to fight for and with anyone that doesn’t feel like they’re able to fight for themselves on their own.

Things we need to quit saying as parents


Since the title is pretty self-explanatory, I think we should just jump right into this list:

  • I don’t care – You do care. Yes, their timing is probably off (sorry kid, waking me out of a dead sleep at 3am to discuss the reasons why Pluto should be a planet again, isn’t exactly the ideal conditions for this discussion). So, I encourage you to strike the phrase entirely from your vocab. I try to use, “Now is not the time but I’d be glad to listen in a minute/ after breakfast/during lunch/etc.
  •  Can’t – Can’t is an unacceptable word in our house. Nothing gets me down more than hearing one of my kids say, “I can’t do this!” Or being teased by their sibling, “Haha, you can’t do it!” Ugh. I make them say, “I’ll try it!” Instead. And if they struggle, then we say, “This is really hard, but I’ll keep trying” or “This is really hard, could I have help please?” I don’t want my kids thinking they can’t do things, just because they have this negative language. And don’t think this means I don’t believe in the word “no,” because I absolutely do. No, I just want them to try things and learn from their mistakes rather than just saying, “I can’t do that” and never trying.
  • Stupid – We try to say “silly” instead. I have yet to find a situation in which it’s appropriate for anyone, at any age, to call someone else stupid or dumb. Or for them to be called stupid or dumb. They’re not going to always be the smartest, the fastest, the prettiest, the bravest, etc etc. but when you are trying and learning, there is nothing stupid or dumb about that.
  • Perfect – No one is perfect. I don’t tell my kids they are perfect, and I certainly don’t tell them that I or their father are perfect. Everyone has flaws, everyone has strengths. Everyone has goals, everyone has fears. There is no perfect job, class, car, hobby, or pet. We need to encourage others in their flaws and fears and celebrate their goals and strengths. Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. “Practice like you’ve never won, and perform like you’ve never lost.”
  • Hate – There are only a few things in this world that should be hated. Cancer, crimes against the innocent, and the Yankees. Hating someone for having a different sexual orientation, their skin color/heritage, their religious preference (or lack thereof), and anything else like that? No. Never okay. You can disagree with them. You can not like their choices and not make those choices for yourself. But there is never a good reason to hate someone or something. You can not like it and move on. Don’t waste your time and energy on something or someone negative, all of that can be put into positive things. Except the Yankees, fuck them, there’s no positive spin to that one. 😉
  • Be/Just like – “Why can’t you be quiet like your sister?” “Why don’t you just study like your friend?” Well, because they are not anyone else. Copying someone else is not what I want my kids to do, even if their friends are “more” at something than they are. Be the best version of yourself, because that’s better than a copy of someone else.

What are your thoughts? What words have you gotten rid of from your vocabulary?

El Salvador: A Journey


Now that you’ve read the timeline of my adoption, allow me to jump into a few other things. Such as, have you ever felt like an outsider? Like, one of those kid pictures, “which of these don’t belong?” I’ve always went through different bouts of feeling like a horse next to three rabbits. Or sometimes I’m the rabbit, next to horses. There’s a difference, and it’s important to note them. Anyway, I don’t know what it’s like exactly, to not be adopted. My mom and Grandma have told me ever since I can remember, which goes back to 3 or 4 years old. My grandma whispered me stories in my ear, which was always the story of my homecoming on August 16th, 1989. They always went along the lines of, “Once upon a time, there was a lady, whom wanted a baby of her own more than anything else in the world. She hoped and prayed for a little girl of her own. And one day, she got a letter in the mail. The letter said there was a baby girl for her but she had to travel far, far away to place called El Salvador. So the lady got on an airplane, and flew from Michigan to El Salvador. There, they gave her baby girl and she hugged her tight. They flew back on an airplane to Michigan. Everyone was so happy and excited for the new baby. They all met them at the airport. There was Grandma, Auntie, Uncle Bill, Uncle John, Aunt Vicki, cousins Levi, Corey, Lance. There was Ted and Kim and everyone was so happy and thankful that they all cried. They were so happy the baby got to come live with them. That baby was named…Ashley.”

So, as you can see, it was no secret that I was adopted. This isn’t a story of finding out at 18 on my own or some crazy shit I’ve read happen. My mom answered any and every question that she could that I ever asked. Basically, what I was ever told, was that I was found in a ditch on the side of the road by the police. I was brought to the orphanage (Hogar del Niños) and there they took care of me while my biological family was located. When no one showed up to claim me, I was then referred to be adopted which, as history shows, my mom accepted and in August of 1989, I finally came home to Michigan.

Apparently, I always accepted the stories told to me surrounding my adoption and things didn’t get trickier until I was around 11 or so. At the age of 3 or 4 I would ask where my dad was, but accepted the “you’re adopted, you don’t have one” answer.

El Salvador: A Beginning


Let’s just jump right in: My mom never did a traditional baby book for me, but she did keep every single piece of paper from her adoption journey in a binder for me. A few fun facts I learned:

• She started the adoption process in September of 1986. (I wouldn’t have even been born for another 1.5 years!) She sent in her international adoption application November 3, 1986.

• My mom originally wanted to end up adopting 2 kids eventually. It ended up being just me.

March 16, 1987: her home study was forwarded to South America. (I will be born in a year)

April 22, 1987: her home study was approved for the Latin American Program. Based on her preferences, she would probably be best suited for the El Salvador program. She has more paperwork to send in, and then it’ll take a month after that for the approval on that end.

July 1987 she sends all her paperwork to El Salvador after her approval. Including power of attorney to Dr. Jose Manuel Pacas Castro.

•Then, there’s nothing for a year. Paperwork and applications expire.

•Then, there’s a paper dated July 22, 1988. It’s from Dr Pacas to Ana whom is a translator in all of this/adoption specialist of the Latin American Program. It reads, (translation) “Barbara Sophia Moreno is almost 4 months old, whom I previously inform you could be the referral for Ms. Cathy Houseman. The baby is very healthy. She is under the guardianship of the First Minor’s Court and her state of abandonment is being investigated by the authorities. At this time she is in the Hogar del Niño orphanage.

February 4, 1989: A letter from Dr Pacas to Ana reads: “As I previously promised you, enclosed you will find pictures of Barbara Sophia so you can send them to Ms. Houseman. As you can see some of the pictures were taken in September and others during the month of June of 1988. She is such a beautiful baby girl and very healthy she’s been receiving good care since she was born. I hope that by the month of May we have finalized and completed the adoption. I will keep you informed as much as possible regarding this case. I think Ms.  Houseman will be very anxious to knogw more about her daughter.

February 16, 1989: (I’m 11 months old) there is a note in my mom’s handwriting, “Barbara Sophia – sending pictures. Do fingerprints. I-600A (blue form). Reapplying – referral of child already, might be traveling soon. Need updated bank and employment statement.

February 17, 1989: letter from Ana going a bit more in depth of my mom’s notes. Says Dr. Pacas’ assistant Clara has been visiting me, making sure I receive proper care. My mom also reapplies for everything on this date.

March 1, 1989: Mom sent out additional paperwork and copies of letters

March 28, 1989: (I’m 1 year old now!) A letter in my m0m’s handwriting is addressed to Ana, “Ana, Talked with Dr. Pacas Friday and everything is going well. Barbara Sophia is doing well and is very healthy. Travel still anticipated for May. When going to El Salvador, stay in residential area. Dr. Pacas’ assistant (Clara) was in an accident and is in the States for surgery and therapy. Lost finger of right hand. Therapy for arm and leg.

And a letter to Clara, “Clara, I talked with Ana today and she told me about your accident. I am in the process of adopting Barbara Sophia and would like to thank you for everything you have done for her. Ana told me that you were visiting her quite often before your accident. I am quite anxious to see her and to see how big she is. Hope you will be home when it’s my time to travel because I would love to meet you.” AND GUESS WHAT CLARA’S LAST NAME IS!? AVILA!!! Isn’t that fucking crazy!?

April 5, 1989: From Ana: “Greetings! Just a note to let you know that I spoke with Dr. Pacas and he informed that the adoption process could be finalized by the first week of May. …”

April 19, 1989: note in my mom’s writing states, “Leaving on 26th – will be in El Salvador around the 9th of May. Apply for Visa through New Orleans office – need employment letter, bank statement, police letter, passport photos, $10 cashiers check – put rush on letter indicating travel end of the month.

And this is where the ball gets dropped on the American end of things. Nothing comes back in time. According to a note dated April 28, 1989, “fingerprint cards were sent to the FBI on April 6th and takes four weeks to clear. If I hear nothing, contact again to trace.

May 12, 1989: everything finally gets sent out.

June 15, 1989: She receives a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (I-600).

July 13 & 20, 1989: Fax transmittals to Ana from my Aunt Karen.

July 14, 1989: to Mr. James Montgomery, District Director, Immigration & Naturalization Service reading, “Dear Mr. Montgomery: Please find enclosed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative for filing in the above captioned file. Please also find enclosed additional copies of a letter dated February 17, 1989, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition and letter dated June 14, 1989 filed with your office months ago. Why is there a delay in processing this Petition? Please advise by calling my office as listed above.” Signed by Charles Silky, my mom’s boss at the time whom was a lawyer.  Stapled to that letter was a hand written note that stated, “Approved & forwarded to San Salvador 7-14-89” with a stamp dated July 20, 1989.

A Notice of Favorable Determination concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition stating the application has been forwarded to the American Embassy at San Salvador. On it states that it was filed on 3-27-89 and approved on 7-14-89.

July 19, 1989: The Embassy sends my mom her packet she needs in order to travel and for me to be able to come back with her.

August 2, 1989: A copy of an invoice from House of Travel Ltd indicates my mom and Chuck are going to leave Muskegon airport and traveling to Chicago/Midway on August 12. From Chicago they will be flying to Miami. The next day (13th) they will fly from Miami to San Salvador.

August 3, 1989: A fax from Ana indicates that if my mom arrives on Sunday the 13th, she will be able to rest in the hotel and will be able to get me on Monday the 14th.

From there, there’s a few ticket stubs from the flight, and some colones, which was the currency used at that time. There’s also a note in Chuck’s writing, indicating the exchange rate between the dollar and colones. $1 colones = .16 cents! $100 USD is $625 colones!

She gets me on the 14th. They sign all the paperwork officially on the 15th. And I came home on the 16th of August, 1989.