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




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 wed

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 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.

More bitching about A**


Today, as I was getting Avila ready for session at the Autism Center, she asks if she can bring a snack. “Please momma? I wanna bring a snack. In a lunchbox. Like C*. Like M*. Like other kids. I need to be the lucky one with a snack. In a lunchbox. With a drink!” 

So I go about assembling a pack of fruit snacks, a cookie, a Halo, and a sippy cup of water. We put it all in her Trolls tin that my mom got her and Iris from Walmart. We get to the Center and A** greets Avila and notes the lunchbox. She goes, “Oh good, I’m glad. I know you’ve had a hard time with that the past few times I’ve seen you.” Looks at me, “Yeah, a little anxiety.” 

EXCUSE ME?!! My kid had been having fucking anxiety over a fucking snack for no God damn reason for weeks and no one bothered to tell me??! What the fuck is this shit?! What the hell is going on?? 



Avila: “Momma, I love it when Branch sings. I like his voice.”

Me: “Yeah, I like Justin Timberlake too.”

Avila: “No. I said Branch.”

Me: “Branch is played by a guy named Justin Timberlake.”

Avila: “No, I’m pretty sure his name is just Branch.”

Me: “I promise his name is Justin Timberlake.”

Avila: “That’s probably his last name because his first name is definitely Branch.”

I need anger management…


I need to vent…

My daughter receives services through our county and it’s called the Autism Program. They have group sessions at a place called The Hub. There she has a social worker (H**),  a masters level clinician (A**), a bachelor’s level clinician (S**2), and a handful of various therapists. Well, starting at the beginning of this year we got a new masters level clinician in charge of our case. The woman previously was “S**” and she was AMAZING. Kept me super informed on everything. Never had an issue when S** was our one in charge. Well, S** took a new job and so we got the new lady, A**. And I don’t like her. At all. My daughter was supposed to be getting 4 hours of group a week, and 4 hours of 1on1 in the home a week. When I was working I couldn’t be there during her in home sessions but my mom stayed here with her. There were 3 times I had to cancel because I had to work and my mom had appointments. 

Well, at her annual review A** informs me that because *I* hadn’t been participating (which, I don’t anyway as I have two younger children to occupy while they’re there) and the cancelations, they were going to punish my daughter by taking a day (2 hrs) of 1on1 away. (And then I get fired the next day, lol) 

Well, I had a meeting with the caseworker, H**. She agreed it sucked, but it was policy. Ok. Supposedly tells me my daughter’s annual test at HealthWest (the county mental health facility/program that the autism program is run through. It is not at the Hub) is the next day. Well, I don’t ever recall this information ever being informed to me so we miss it. I get a text from Hannah the next day asking what happened. She says she will try to reschedule. 

I bring my daughter to group at the Hub the next day and A** comes out all huffy, going, “She can’t be here since you missed her test and ypu never rescheduled it. She can’t have services until she’s reevaluated.” And leaves.

So, of course my kid freaks out on me when I make her leave with me. And she can’t have services until she does this test and they score it. Okay, I get that part. So, I call this morning to find out what the hell is happening, and her test isn’t until March 22! OMG. 

This is insane! And to punish her because of me? And the test, no one ever informed me about, when it was scheduled in the first place! That’s kind of a huge deal and I should have been informed before the day before anyway. Which I wasn’t. She never said anything about it being scheduled. Let alone the next day! And A** could’ve called me or had someone call before driving 30 mins one way to get there, just to make her leave, make her have a meltdown, and then walk away and not even tell me anything. 

I called the testing place myself today to find out what was going on and they told me that A** rescheduled it for March 22 after I missed it on Thursday!! Ugh!!! She knew Thursday evening that Avila could not come to group on Monday. 

She’s supposed to graduate out of the program this fall anyway but damn!
 I’m really upset because I feel like A** (and H** both) really dropped the ball on this one, and now Avila is the one that suffers. I never missed anything when I had Sheila. I miss her so much right now. I’m so frustrated with Amy ever since I got her. I tried being understanding, being thrown into Sheila’s caseloads and trying to build a relationship with all those families. But now I feel like she doesn’t matter anymore because they anticipate her graduating in the fall.

UPDATE:  H** calls the next day informing me that there has been a cancelation the next day at 1pm! Yes!