How to be DONE with your Losing Season

Lifestyle, Motherhood

A friend of mine recently posted a beautiful photo where she was glowing! As soon as I saw the picture of her, before ever reading the caption, I started smiling. She’s someone I can relate to and someone that I am so happy to see find her voice. The caption said something along the lines of “Stop being jealous of people in their winning season. You never know what they lost in their losing season.” Wow, did that hit me hard!

In a little over a year I lost my job, my best friend, my sense of security, my marriage, my grandfather, my house…anyway you get the point. I had a pretty rough losing season. I’m in the process of finding a new therapist after moving across the country and I’m learning to cope with my trauma in healthy ways.

I promised myself a little over a year ago that I’d never lose my voice again. I’d never refrain from speaking my truth. I’ll admit, I didn’t always go about things the right way. PTSD is something that I will live with for the rest of my life. I’ve recently struggled to remember so much. I’ve researched what PTSD does to the brain and as someone who used to remember every tiny little detail…I can’t put into words how much it hurts to watch videos of my children over and over again to try and replace those hard memories with something positive. This isn’t a poor pitiful Ashlee post by the way. It’s just so if anyone else finds themselves struggling…you know you are not alone.

When I started making Tiktok videos a little over a year ago, I had no idea that people would actually follow me. I just wanted a connection. I wanted to be a part of something again. Don’t we all? At work, I was struggling to come to terms with my depression and PTSD. I was doing everything I possibly could to hold on to the life that I had, no matter how flawed it may have been.

I would have never left. It didn’t matter how worthless I felt. It didn’t matter how toxic the work environment was. It didn’t matter how many times the police were called. In the end, I had to realize that It really didn’t matter who believed me or believed in me because I knew the truth. It has it’s way of coming full circle, but I’m not the best at being patient…or at least I wasn’t until I had to be.

I moved across the country with my four girls and I discovered that no matter what I was told in the past, I wanted to stay in the present. I had to remain in reality for my girls. I had to continue to fight for them but I had to fight for myself first. After spending months wanting to unlive, I forced myself to get outside. When I did, I felt something that I hadn’t felt in a long time and honestly thought I’d never experience again…excitement. I felt the warmth of the sun and I heard my little baby’s feet waddling/running (idk what it is, but it’s cute). I let my kids get extra snacks at the grocery store and I realized that I have to be the one to teach them that life doesn’t have to be so complex all the time. Sometimes we are going to go to a new park completely put together and some days we are just going to play in the backyard looking a hot mess still in PJs. But you know what? They’ll take either day as long as I’m happy.

When I left the grocery store, for a brief moment I remember thinking that all this STUFF, the heavy stuff, the stuff that keeps me up at 1am writing this blog post to keep from shutting down again…will always be with me. And it will. There’s no denying that. But so will the lessons I’ve learned, so will the people I’ve met and the places I’ve gone along the way. Growth is messy and healing isn’t easy or pain free. To be done with your losing season, you have to come to terms with the fact that your life will never be the same again, and that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be. If you’re challenging yourself every day and you know that you’re doing the best you possibly can…you will find your people.

I used to believe that we only had one soulmate and you should stay with that person until the end of time no matter what. I still have a hard time letting go of toxic. I had a hard time providing myself closure when someone shut the door on the opportunity of a clean break. I believe that we outgrow people. I believe that things happen to us and some of us can’t help but feel every little sting. And I couldn’t heal in the same place that broke me. I couldn’t drive by the same gas station or pull up in the driveway of the place where I lost my sense of security and who I was. Moving and changing my environment was hard, but it’s hard either way. I just had to choose a path and stick with it. And every day it gets a little easier. Sometimes I feel the sting, but I know that even though that feeling can be painful and STRONG, I KNOW that I’m stronger. I just finally see it now.

You are stronger than the thing that broke you. Don’t stop. Believe in you.

Follow me on Tiktok @ashleelemay where I share my chaotic motherhood journey! Let’s connect.

Two Year Old in Tulip Town

For collabs: ashleelemay@gmail.com

How to Make a Super Fun Summer Obstacle Course for Cheap!

DIY, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Motherhood

If this is your first time here, Welcome! I’m a mom of four girls who works night shift as a laboratory scientist. I homeschool my girls during the day, and I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas to stay awake all day (while showing my girls the beauty in life). Corona has us all going a little crazy cooped up in the house, right? I planned to blow up the girls’ unicorn sprinkler and let them run around in the front yard, but it had a hole in it. It was way too hot to have a day outside without water so we improvised (which always does end up in the best day ever in my experience).

When we purchased our house, our realtor brought us over a moon bounce the next day!   There were five kids, infant to age 8 so to make this day fun for everyone would take a little work. Most of what I used were just items that we had in the garage. We had a smaller moon bounce/inflatable that served to keep the younger kids occupied while the older kids completed the course. The smaller inflatable was purchased second hand for super cheap.

While the moon bounce was a fun touch, it’s really not needed. This was the end of the course, and everything else leading up to it would have been enough. Here is what I used! Let’s get started!

Toys Used:

  • Two Peppa Pig Trikes (obviously don’t have to be peppa, but the trikes being small made it harder to peddle haha)
  • Hula Hoops
  • Kiddie Pool
  • Baseball and Bat
  • Pop up tent/tunnel
  • Bubbles
  • Water
  • DIY slip and slide (instructions provided)
  • Two Inflatables

Rundown of the Obstacle Course: First, the girls each had to peddle on the tiny trikes to the hula hoops. Once they picked up the hula hoops, they had to hula to the pineapple float (these fun floats were purchased from Target for about $3, I had a Flamingo also). Next, they had to slide down the slip and slide, crawl through the tunnel (pop up tent) and run to the kiddie pool. Once in the kiddie pool, they threw a ball in the air and hit it with the baseball bat. The final task was to run to the moon bounce, and climb to the top of the “wall” in the middle.

Tip: I added water, soap, and bubbles inside of the moon bounce so that it made it harder to get to the top at the end!

 

How I made the slip and slide: You can made this with any thick plastic. I used an old inflatable ball pit that had a hole. I cut it, spread it out, and we put two plastic stakes to hold the plastic in place. You can obviously make this bigger, but since it was just part of the obstacle course, it was the perfect size. You could use old pool floats and if you don’t have anything laying around, a hardware store sells rolls of thick plastic. Another tip to make it extra slippery would be to add dish soap.

Mom Tip: I like to make everything a “game” or “challenge” to keep my oldest interested. It didn’t really matter who finished the obstacle course first, but giving her tasks to complete is also a learning experience. Having ADHD myself, I know how engaging challenges can be and how I can let time slip away from me quickly without even realizing it. Escape Rooms and Obstacle Courses are along the same lines as video games and I have found this extremely effective when learning new topics.

Let me know if you found this helpful! Feel free to follow along for more DIY, life hacks, mom life, mental health, fitness tips and everything in between. 

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

 

An Honest Review of Hello Fresh and How it Fits into my Budget

Budgeting, Food, Lifestyle, Motherhood

 

I am a full time working mom of four. I work nightshift as a laboratory scientist and last year accepted a position as the lead of Serology and Urinalysis. My career is extremely important to me, and I have a huge passion for health care, healthier living, and being aware of what I am feeding my kids. Of course it’s easier to warm up some mac and cheese, but I chose to work nights to spend more time with my kids and give them the best life possible. Some days I am going on day 3 of no sleep and it is harder to convince myself to cook, but with Hello Fresh I have found that it is possible!

I am going to discuss the portion size, how many times we have the service delivered, what you really receive, what I love about Hello Fresh and some tips for how I fit this into my budget and find time to cook the dinners.

We have been using Hello Fresh for about six months now, and I look forward to delivery day (it’s Thursday for us by the way, but you can pick which day you have it delivered). You have several meals to choose from and you can add extras. Even though we have four little ones, we use the two person meal plan and have two Hello Fresh dinners every week.

The portion sizes are perfect. I was a little nervous about this at first because we are a family of six and the largest option was for four people. We had more than enough for all of us, and I was able to take leftovers to work.

The food is always fresh and you are given exactly the amount that you need so there is not room for waste. One of my favorite things about Hello Fresh is that the bag the meal is delivered in serves as a place to toss items you aren’t using anymore as you go. This makes my mama heart happy as I am all about anything that makes my life less messy (it’s crazy enough with four little ones).

You receive the recipes and step by step guidance to cook the meals, so you don’t have to worry about not being a great cook, ha! I have found several of the tips in the recipe guide helpful during the rest of the week.

I use a loop schedule for basically everything in my life, which I will discuss in more detail in another post, but basically I make a list of dinners and loop through them each week so that we are not always eating the same thing. Hello Fresh has several recipes to choose from and even if you choose a burger one week, the next time you can pick a different type of burger. I love the variety and how easily it makes the rest of my shopping.

I feel like our meals average about $25 a meal and can easily feed our entire family. This is less than I would pay going through a drive through and we are eating healthy, which is a win-win for everyone!

Thank you for reading! I hope this helped. Feel free to follow along for more mommy advice, budgeting tips, meal planning, healthier living, DIY, photo tips and everything in between. How likely are you to try Hello Fresh? Let me know in the comments ❤

-The Zombie Mom 

Newborn Photography Tips for Beginners from a Mom of Four

DIY, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Motherhood, Newborn, Photography, Work

At 19, I was a full time college student with an infant. Not working wasn’t an option for me, but I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my baby while finishing my education. My first camera was nothing special, but to me it was a huge investment. At first, I really just wanted something better than my phone to capture photos of my baby and I justified the purchase with the fact that I wouldn’t have to pay to get professional photos quite as often. I had no idea the amount of work that went into planning, editing, responding to emails, and of course actually shooting sessions.

My photography business was successful and I have learned so much about posing, lighting, marketing, etc. One of the most important lessons that I learned as a mother (a frugal one at that) is that you don’t always have to purchase the most expensive props. While I definitely believe that investing in newborn props, camera equipment, fancy dresses for unicorn sessions, providing dresses for Well Dressed Wolf or tea party sessions, etc. is important…the greatest lesson that I learned is that you have to get started. The props and equipment will not magically create the perfect photo. You have to put in the work. You have to constantly produce new content and see what people respond to. I’ve found that most of the time the photo that I choose for a sneak peek, meaning that it is the photo I am the most excited about, is rarely the photo the family posts on social media once they receive their completed gallery.

I photograph everything from newborns to weddings. I even did a newborn puppy shoot for our dog, but it took YEARS to figure out what I really wanted to capture. It took time to feel confident in my work. I want to share a few tips with you and in this post I am going to talk about a few aspects of newborn photography.

First of all, as a mom I now understand how stressful it can be to reach out to a photographer in the first place. Photos are so important to me, and I always have a vision in mind. You want to establish a relationship with your client and let them know that although you know what you are doing, you want them to come out of the experience with the photos that they want. I let clients know that I have tons of props and outfits; all they need to bring is a baby; however, they are welcome to bring anything additional that they would like to incorporate. Another tip when planning is to either share a idea board or have them send you photos that they like. I do not try to replicate photos; however, it is good to have a sense of what they are looking for.

Honestly, the best time to book a newborn session is a couple of months into your pregnancy. Many photographers book months in advance and we can plan around your due date. Obviously, this isn’t always an option, but planning a newborn session takes time. After years, I do have several prop and outfit options but I try to personalize sessions as much as possible. Putting colors together, having outfits that will fit baby, and having backup options are all important. I don’t want to waste valuable time that could be spent posing trying to find something that I could have laid out before the client gets there.

When should you shoot a newborn session? Newborns are easiest to pose and at their sleepiest state during the first two weeks of life. Babies have a mind of their own, and I am well aware of pregnancy and postpartum complications after four babies. Sometimes this cannot happen, but be prepared to spend extra time with a baby that is older than two weeks. Certain poses really must be done within the first two weeks. Be patient. Have an idea of what shots you want to get before starting the session.

Must have props: From my experience, I use stretchy cheese cloth or jersey knit wraps almost every session. There are so many ways that you can wrap a baby and using different colors and materials can add variety to your photos without spending alot of money. Basket stuffers, posing pillows, headbands/bows, knit outfits, and flowers are also some go to props of mine. I use a bobby lounger for posing still even though I have posing pillows specifically for photos. This makes the baby feel as if they are being held and has worked wonders for me.

I usually have some type of background noise, and a small heater handy if the baby will be naked for a period of time during posing. 

Lighting: Natural lighting is a must for newborn photos. I do have studio lights that I use for many sessions, but with newborns I typically just use a good source of natural lighting. Keep in mind that newborn sessions can take hours when planning your session around daylight hours.

Make the parents feel comfortable. If mama is stressed, baby can feel that. Let the parents know that you have this under control and although it may take some time to get the images that you desire, there is no need to stress. Having a baby takes alot out of you, and I know that I was so upset right after having my daughter thinking about the fact that I may not get all of the photos that I dreamed of. Being able to relate to your client will set you apart and develop a relationship for years to come!

Thank you for reading! I hope you found these tips helpful! I will be posting more, so feel free to follow along and contact me with any questions you have and what you’d like to see next.

-The Zombie Mom