Are you pregnant?

I am not pregnant.

Just in case you were wondering.

I thought I would let you know because I am asked… often.

How often?

Modestly: once a week.

Let me repeat: I am not pregnant.

I know I am a married woman, of a childbearing age, but I do not feel these facts should give people carte blanche to look me up and down and ask me intimate questions about my reproductive health.

In my opinion, there is never a good time to ask a woman if she’s pregnant.

I do not care if the woman looks 10 months pregnant, and is waddling so hard it looks like she is crowning, I will NOT ask about her ripe pregnant belly until SHE mentions she is currently “with child.”

Until that time, I will carry on talking about the weather, and the latest episode of Broadchurch.

I have had a few stand-out instances when I was asked if I was pregnant.

Incident #1: I was registering children in for a church event. I was standing next to my very petite, very pregnant friend. She’s one of those gals who is “all baby” and looks like she’s got a basketball shoved up her shirt with every pregnancy. She looked adorable (and pregnant—not that I would have said anything to her if I was a stranger). I remember I was feeling particularly cute because I was wearing this flowy bohemian shirt. Flowy… not, basketball under my shirt. A father approaches our table; he looks my friend up and down, he looks me up and down, and then looks at ME and says, “How far long are you?”

I went home, burned my shirt, and cried.

Incident #2: I was dismissing my students from class on the last day before summer break. One of the mom’s came over to bid me farewell. As we stood chatting, she stopped mid-sentence, looked me up and down, zoned in on my stomach and said (in a whispered voice): “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

If you have to whisper it, you shouldn’t say it…

In my experience, when my friends are pregnant they are usually pretty excited to tell people about it. In fact, in many cases, it’s hard to get them to shut up about it. Which is wonderful, and should be expected.

However, if one of my friends does not immediately announce their pregnancy I am assuming there is a reason.

Jokes aside, pregnancy can be a really touchy subject.

Some people struggle for years to get pregnant.

Some people get pregnant but have suffered several miscarriages.

Some people (believe it or not) do not actually want kids.

I do want to have kids eventually. When I get asked if I am pregnant I take offence not because I do not want kids or because I have struggled with infertility but because it feels like I am being subtly told, “You look fat in that outfit.” In reality, I could have worse things said to me but I can not help but think about my friends who are actually struggling in this area.

So, in an effort to change the world, here is an exhaustive list to help you know when is a good time to ask a woman if she is pregnant:

  • She recently got married and should be pregnant by now.
  • She has a glow.
  • She is wearing flowy clothing.
  • You are related and feel you have the right to know.
  • She is starting to “show.”
  • She is really “showing.”
  • Her stomach is so huge she has to be pregnant.
  • She is rubbing her belly in a nurturing fashion.
  • You are so curious you can’t stand it anymore.
  • Her water broke. (At this point I would encourage the person to seek medical attention for their incontinence, not letting on any suspicions)
  • She is holding a baby in her arms… to which an appropriate response would be: “You were pregnant? I could not tell due to how thin you’ve looked over the past several months. Congratulations!”

Now go in peace.




Valentine’s Day 2015

I am not a “holiday” kinda gal.

I am not talking about vacations… vacations are very different.

I am talking Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Years Eve etc.

*Insert horrified gasps of readers*

I have put forth substantial effort over the past several years to get myself out of this holiday funk:

  • I decorated my house for Christmas (I almost bought a Christmas tree—progress!)
  • I listened to Christmas music (not by force)
  • I stayed up until midnight on New Years Eve
  • I even cooked a turkey this year guys… I cooked an entire turkey!

Despite my best efforts, I still usually end up in tears.

I am making peace with myself about this whole thing… I don’t love holidays. It’s okay. Everybody will get over it. Life will go on. No one is going to die if I don’t buy a Christmas tree.

Now that that rant is over, I have a confession to make:



Valentine’s Day 2014- Olympics/Vladimir Putin Themed 

10 years ago I was not this way, oh no. I was once a real bummer when it came to Valentine’s Day.

10 years ago I had no husband, no boyfriend, and not enough funds to send myself flowers to at least give off the allusion of a boyfriend. Yes, I was down in the dumps, which is how it all started.

On Valentine’s Day of 2008, I volunteered to babysit for my friend’s Joel and Naomi. Their daughter was still really little, and I figured it would be nice for them to have a romantic night out. I figured if I wasn’t getting any romance, at least someone should.

Naomi and Joel assured me that Valentine’s Day was no big deal to them. I believe their exact words were “we will probably just be eating cold pizza out of the box if you don’t come over.” Alas, I insisted they take the opportunity to use my sweet free babysitting skills to their advantage and go on a date.


Valentine’s Day 2013- #yovo2013 (you only Valentine once)

I arrived at their house in fine child-minding form, and noticed immediately neither one of them looked ready to go out on a hot date. As I walked further into the house I quickly realized Naomi had decorated the whole house in Valentine’s decor. I looked at Naomi bewildered, before she bursted out, “SURPRISE!”

This marked the first of what became annual Valentine’s Day parties.

As the years went on, and Naomi and Joel’s family grew, the parties became more elaborate and more thoughtfully/ridiculously themed.

We began taking Valentine’s Day so seriously that when Giddy and I got married, Naomi’s “Maid of Honour” speech contained an agreement where Giddy could have me every other day of the year, but Valentine’s Day is ours. Don’t worry, he’s invited of course… but we needed to make sure he knew where our priorities were at.


Valentine’s Day 2015- Crappy Valentine’s Day (Giddy was supposed to be in Canada and wasn’t, and Naomi hurt her knee… that’s why it was crappy) 

This year is our 10th Annual Valentine’s Day. We decided the theme will be “Awards Show.” Our goal was to create something comparable to “The Dundies” rather than “The Oscars.” “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight” was quoted several times throughout the evening.

I imagine that I treat Valentine’s Day in a similar way some people treat Christmas. I have found a security in Valentine’s Day; it has become a consistent in my life.

Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are often spent being invited into other people’s families and traditions. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate every family who has graciously welcomed me in, but regardless, I am always left feeling as if I’m on the outside looking in.

Valentine’s Day is the one holiday I never have to worry about making plans… I know where and with whom I will be. It carries the assurance of familiar faces, good food, and plenty of ridiculous inside jokes (“Somebody DIED Beverly”).


Valentine’s Day 2017- 10th Annual Award Show Valentines

So, be a Debbie Downer all you want about Valentine’s Day; poo-poo on how it is an unromantic, commercialized event meant for Hallmark to steal your money. I’ll be over here, handcrafting Valentine cards like I’m five, and “makin’ it rain” at party supplies stores.

No shame in my game.

A 30 Year Old’s Guide to Surviving High School

img_2462High School is not easy. Hormones, homework, and trying not to forget your gym strip… and it is not any easier for the students.

I should explain; I am an Education Assistant at a High School, which means I spend my day supporting students in their classes. I balance a fine line between being the “other” teacher in the class, and engaging enthusiastically in lessons to demonstrate the behaviour of the quintessential student.

Somedays I feel like I am participating in a strange social experiment to test how much I have grown up since High School.

This is my fourth year working at the school, and I have learned some things will never change:

  • I am just as uncoordinated in P.E. as I was at 16.
  • Math still makes me want to cry.
  • I still consider it a compliment if one of the “cool kids” likes my outfit.
  • I am still too social for my own good.
  • Even when attempting to show restraint, I cannot help but squeal with delight when I hear the words, “school dance,” “Christmas Break,” “Summer Vacation,” and “School Spirit Week.”
  • Even when attempting to show restraint, I cannot help but groan in true agony when I hear the words, “provincial exam,” “pop quiz,” and, “dodge ball.”*

*I am almost certain that dodgeball was invented by a sadistic substitute P.E. teacher who thought to himself, “I am not allowed to hit the kids, but what if I created a game where I got to sit back and watch as they hit each other… as hard as they can… in the face… with a big rubber ball?”*

Do not get me wrong; I have grown and matured since my years as a High School student:

  • I own a car which means I no longer have to tolerate my former companions on public transit.
  • I almost never forget my lunch.
  • Even though I am still as uncoordinated in P.E. as I was as a teenager, I have now perfected my P.E. excuses. For example:
    • “Oh no, the student over there seems to be in distress! I should put down my ball hockey stick and rush to their aid!”
    • “I think it’s best I just line up the balls for dodge ball and then quickly get out of the way. I would hate for one team to have the unfair advantage of having a teacher on their side.”
    • “I can’t run today because it’s my time of the…” Okay, some excuses have remained the same.
  • I truly enjoy learning! Especially when it is just for the joy of learning something new, and there are no homework assignments required of me.

I have also discovered teenagers are truly weird, wonderful, and hilarious creatures! They wear ridiculous clothing, come up with strange catch phrases that make no sense, and are fleshy little balls of emotions. They are brilliant beyond their years, incredibly talented, so funny I have cried with laughter in class more times than I can count, and are compassionate in sometimes unrecognizable ways (but it is there).

I loved my high school experience, so much so that on my last day of grade 12 I carried a video camera around with me and captured most of my day on film (I need to find that one of these days). Though my love for my high school ran deep as a teenager, I have learned a lot about myself now as an adult working in a high school.

I am reminded how easy it is to be judgemental of the next generation and how I should extend these kids the same grace I was afforded by certain adults in my life.

I give myself freedom to ask questions, admit I am wrong, and take joy in moments when I discover I was smarter than I thought I was.

I allow myself to break into song, tap dance through the hallways, and tell terribly punny jokes, because that is who I am, and whenever I am being the most “me,” I allow others the same liberty to be themselves.

I think that every adult should be required by law to return to high school for a month or two. It is a great reminder of how much you have grown, how much you have not changed at all, and what precious parts of yourself you have forgotten about that need to be resurrected.


Birthday Swag and Oprah-like Enthusiasm

I love my own birthday.

I have no shame in planning myself a birthday party, wearing a “Birthday Girl” sash, and proudly announcing the countdown before my birthday occurs. Being a December baby has turned me into a bit more of a birthday enthusiast; maybe it’s the need to compensate for the fact that my birthday is slightly overshadowed by Jesus’ (fair).


One of my favourite birthday parties that I planned for myself! Vancouver Christmas Market (bought with a Groupon), followed by VanDusen Gardens.

If I were to compare myself to anyone and their ability to celebrate their own birthday with gusto, it would be Oprah. Yes, not only have I admitted I love my own birthday, I have also compared myself to Oprah.

With the right budget I too would make it rain with luxury vehicles, and fancy kitchen wear for all my friends and family. My birthday would be a televised event which was celebrated for weeks upon end.


Sadly, I don’t have the budget required to truly celebrate my birthday in style, therefore, I rely upon freebies to give off the allusion of birthday extravagance.

Free birthday swag has become one of my favourite parts of my birthday, for the following reasons:

  1. Presents from strangers are exciting (not to be confused with candy from strangers… do not take candy from strangers)
  2. I get to celebrate my birthday for (at least) a week.
  3. It becomes socially acceptable for me to announce, “It’s my BIRTHDAY!” in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

So, in true Oprah-like-fashion, I am sharing with you my free birthday swag secrets.

*Insert Ashley yelling “EVERYBODY GETS FREE BIRTHDAY STUFF” in her best Oprah impression*

Free breakfast at Denny’s: All you need to do is bring in your ID and a friend, and you get a free breakfast. Yum!

Free drink at Starbucks: Sign-up for Starbucks rewards (which is awesome for more than just birthdays) and receive a free drink on your birthday.10428655_333409216867132_8103121976800523494_n

Free drink at Teavana: Not into coffee? Well, your free Starbucks drink is transferrable to Teavana.

Free tea at David’s Tea: Become a “Frequent Steeper” and receive a free drink on your special day.

Present from Sephora: Become a beauty insider and receive a free birthday gift (and free goodies all year long as you earn points).

Free dinner at Washington Avenue Grill, The Hawthorn, or The Vault: Sign-up online, bring a friend, and receive a free dinner at anyone of these restaurants. This year, I went to The Vault and it was absolutely delicious!

Free dinner at Edith & Arthurs: Sign-up online, bring a friend, and receive a free dinner. My husband and I also received an email on our anniversary for a free bottle of champagne and free dessert.

Free burger at Red Robins: Sign-up online, bring a friend and get a free burger on your birthday. Always yummy! And… bottomless fries and freckled lemonade!

Free Booster Juice: Sign-up online and get a free Booster Juice!

Free dinner at Milestones: This one isn’t my favourite because you need to bring 3 friends as opposed to just one other person, but if you’re into Milestones, and have 3 friends who want to join you, you get a free dinner!

Free piece of pizza at Fresh Slice: This offer is only available in BC and Ontario, so if you’re in either of those places, show your ID and Fresh Slice will give you a free piece of pizza on your birthday.

There are plenty of places that will give you a free dessert or some kind of discount on your birthday, but the list above is my list of favs (Ashley’s Favourite Things, if you will) because most of them are completely free.

I hope this list brings you as much joy as it brings me, and I hope it helps make your birthday just little bit happier 🙂

Do you have any fun birthday traditions?

Free birthday swag locations you want to share?

Comment below and share the birthday joy.

The Miracle of Childbirth (And other things that scare the s*** out of me)


I do not know if I am ready to be a mother yet.

Which is fine, because I am not currently “with child.”

Due to my profession, I have spent a lot of time with kids, and not just a few kids, hundreds of kids; dare I say thousands!

I have learned a few things about children:

  1. I like kids. A lot of them are fairly cute, they say funny things, and they usually laugh at my jokes.
  2. Kids are little and easy to pick up, which makes me feel like a giant, and I enjoy feeling like a giant. It is the same reason I enjoy tiny utensils.
  3. They are really loud, but I am okay with loud volumes because it means I am not the loudest person in the room.
  4. When I am with children it is socially acceptable to colour, sing Disney songs, and announce when I have to leave the room to go potty.
  5. Kids are sticky… all the time. I don’t know why. What do these parents feed their children that makes them so damn sticky? And how do they manage to get said substance on their foreheads? I’m always a little hesitant to go near small children for this reason.
  6. Kids have no filter, and will ask you if you have a baby in your tummy with no shame. And the answer is no, no I don’t have a baby in my tummy, yes I did have a particularly large lunch today, and yes I will be throwing out this shirt.
  7. Kids are unpredictable. I am constantly hearing little stories from parents about the time their “precious little cherub” decided to paint their nursery with their own poop. Those same moms seem to love following those stories with, “So, how many kids do you think you’ll have?” To which I respond, “Siamese fighting fish.”
  8. Kids are expensive. They require extravagant themed birthday parties with three tiered cakes, adult friends who drink alcohol, and goody bags filled to the brim with organic, fair trade, gluten free gummy bears.
  9. Kids are ridiculous. No, you can’t jump on the trampoline during the snowstorm while eating Kraft dinner. Why? You want to know why? Because it’s ridiculous, and so are you.

I look forward to the day I have my own children, but I also have an irrational (albeit totally rational to me) fear of childbirth. I have spent far too much time with mothers who love to share their magical, miracle childbirth stories, which leave me dry heaving and hyperventilating into a paper bag.

Bloody Nipples, Tearing, and Developing Strong Feelings in Favor of Adoption

I do not know what’s better: knowing too much about childbirth, or knowing too little.

I’ll happily read books about child rearing, but I am not touching a birthing book until I absolutely have to. I figure that once I have children I won’t have time to read a lot of parenting books, because I’ll be too busy actually parenting. I feel like having some parenting techniques under my belt is wise, but having knowledge about bloody nursing nipples, and tearing is just fear mongering.

*Side bar: It’s kind of ridiculous to me that people have to take classes and read books before they are allowed to drive a car, but anyone, and I do mean anyone, can just have a baby. There should be a class or something every person has to take before they are allowed to pop out a kid. I don’t know who would be in charge of enforcing such things, but I’m pretty sure I’d rock at it.

I have always liked the idea of having kids; I have just never been fond of the idea of having kids (if you know what I mean). I fear pain, hate hospitals, and I have never envied the “pregnant lady glow.” I am not dumb; I know its just sweat from overexertion and sleep deprivation. More recently I have began to warm up to the idea, but mainly because of my own fondness for my husband and how adorable our Half-rican babies will be, not because I am any less frightened that these little miracles won’t (to quote The Mindy Project), “steal my youth and beauty and keep it for their own damn selves.”

Men in Labor and Other Unnatural Things

Have you seen those videos where men endure simulated labor pains in an effort to “understand” what a woman goes through during childbirth? It is both horrifying and fascinating. I do not feel like the men who partake in these experiments are doing it with pure motives though. They say it is in an effort to “understand” what women go through, but I feel like they secretly want to experience it to prove that it is “no big deal.” They walk in all confident saying crap like, “Start me on the highest level, I can handle it,” as if they’re about to play a video game. Whether you have seen it or not, I probably do not have to tell you how things went. The men cry, moan, scream, and convulse… During the first five minutes.

There is something disheartening about watching six-foot-tall, 200lb men quivering in pain from simulated labor pains… and they don’t even need to push anything out!

Sitting on a Throne of Lies

My solution? I have decided to lie to myself, and surround myself with equally convincing liars. I want to hear from the mothers who sneezed, and whoop there’s a baby! The mothers that got to the hospital and hardly had time to get the maternity band off of their pants before they welcomed their darling munchkin into the world… those are the stories I want! If you were in labor for 72 hours, and can no longer laugh or sneeze without peeing your pants, talk to another newly married woman, because I am not your girl.



How to Transform

I love transformation stories.

A Prince becomes a Beast and then, thanks to the love of a beautiful stranger, becomes a Prince again.


A poor ragged orphan girl, despite her evil stepsisters and thanks to her Fairy Godmother, becomes a princess.


A geeky copy editor gets a second chance at high school and becomes prom Queen.


A Manhattan maid becomes… well dressed for an evening? I’ll be honest; I can’t really remember the story line for that one. But she transforms and it’s magical.


And of course, we can’t forget every movie that stars Anne Hathaway.



What is it about these tales that captures me? These stories are told over and over again, in thousands of different ways, but essentially it’s the same storyline… And I fall for it every time!

“The reason stories have dramatic tension is because LIFE has dramatic tension.”

Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Good stories and good lives have a lot in common. They both require tension, bravery, and usually end with a grand transformation. We root for main characters that have gone through hell, who have experienced the stories tension to its’ fullest, and we bask in all the glory of their transformation. Why wouldn’t we? They have earned it!

The Transformation of Suffering

In “real life” transformation does not happen as easily as it does in these stories. Suffering does not change into something beautiful overnight… it is no Anne Hathaway! The tension that is experienced in life typically lasts a lot longer, and I know few people who can pin point the very moment of their transformation. In our own lives we have no singing mice, no fairy godmothers, and no Julie Andrews’ to signal our stories climax.

In movies and storybooks there is a clear order: suffering comes, transformation happens, and then beauty arrives. In life it is different. We often experience beauty and suffering together.

I think that is where real life transformation comes from, learning how to let beauty in when you’re suffering.

Let Beauty In

This Friday is the five-year anniversary of my dad’s death. My dad had suffered a stroke about a year prior to his death that left one side of his body paralyzed and confined him to a hospital bed. These past few days I have been thinking a lot about how that season transformed me. How the quiet moments of suffering were often the ones that carried the most beauty.

My dad loved music, and he loved to sing; something we had in common. However, the stroke he endured impaired his speech and made speaking (and of course singing) a challenging task. The doctor told him that he should practice smiling because it would help him build back up the muscles in his face, but dad refused. “What do I have to smile about?” he’d say, to which I would tell him to stop being such a grumpy old man, and that kind of banter would go on for a while. So I decided since verbal abuse didn’t seem to work on him, I would do the next best thing. I would sing Sinatra songs while effectively messing up all the lyrics.

“Come on Ashley, I’ve raised you better than this. You know the words to “Fly me to the Moon.”

“No! I genuinely believe that it goes, ‘Fly me over the moon.”

“No! It goes like this…”

Then he would continue to serenade me, and everyone else in the room. Stroke or not, he still sounded beautiful.

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.”

I feel that there is no better way to conclude than with this poem/prayer by Rainer Maria Rilke.

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,

Then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall, 

Go to the limits of your longing. 

Embody me.

Flare up like a flame and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going.

No feeling is final. 

Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life. 

You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59 (Emphasis added)


Dear Meghan Trainor

Dear Meghan Trainor,

We, you and me, are all right. Go ahead; take a deep sigh of relief.

I read a blog the other day, crediting you to a lot of things I don’t believe you’re responsible for (Taylor was right, haters are going to hate). In lieu of this, I thought you’d be happy to know, I have got your back (figuratively).

I am not offended by your music, or to be more specific, your lyricism. I don’t think you sat down with a guitar, or a piano, or a xylophone one day and thought, “I hate skinny people, someone needs to put them in their place. Also, my butt looks great today. I should write a song with these reoccurring lyrical themes running through it.”

Don’t worry though Meg, (can I call you Meg?) I have compiled for you a selection of reasons why I think people need to chill out.

First off, I think the people who are having such a hard time with you, are taking you and your music way too seriously. Not to say your music has not had a lot of thought put into it, but let’s be real; it’s not a piece of government legislation… you are writing pop songs.

I understand the powerful affect music can have on an individual, but I didn’t go screaming for the hills when Destiny’s Child released “Bootylicious.” I didn’t think, “Oh no! Beyonce said that I wasn’t ready for their jelly, but it seems as if they’re providing me with their jelly regardless. I’m not ready! Your body is just too Bootylicious for me.”

I have never sought out abuse from a man because Britney Spears seemed to be so hell bent on being hit one more time.

I have not kissed a girl, because even though Katy Perry seemed to enjoy it, I don’t feel like I would.

You know why? Because I don’t live my life by these songs (if I did I’d be living out some strange montage of the Backstreet Boys Greatest hits)!

All music has a message; some are messages of love, some of hatred, some have deep political messages, and there are some that are meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I feel like “All About That Bass” is meant as the latter.

Secondly, I think the concept of a “self-image role model” is a bit of a joke.

Do you have great self-image?

Yes? Awesome.

No? That’s too bad for you.

It doesn’t help or hinder me.

Thankfully (or sometimes regretfully), my self-image is really only controlled by me.Which means, that if I don’t like hearing about your love for fine booty because it makes me doubt the quality of my own, that’s my issue, not yours.

Third and lastly, I feel like you’re getting way too much credit.

Here is a list of songs which seem to possess preferential treatment towards big butts:

  • Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back”
    • “My Anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns hun.”
  • Snoop Dog and Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle”
    • “You know what to do with that big fat butt… wiggle, wiggle, wiggle”
  • Jenifer Lopez and Iggy’s “Booty”
    • “Mesmerized by the size of the, You can find it if you like take your time, I can guarantee you’ll have the time of your life, Throw up your hands if you love a big booty” (Poetry, I know)
  • Black Eyed Pea’s “My Humps”
    • “Whatcha gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside that trunk? I’m gonna get get get you drunk; get you love drunk off this hump.”

There are many more. I am not kidding. Google, “Songs about booty.” You’re sure to find a myriad of musical gems.

I say all this not to trash musicians who were previously inspired by a woman’s posterior, and of course, not to diminish your contribution to this classic collection. I am merely pointing out that, “All About that Bass,” does not contain revolutionary content. The booty has been sung about for years, and in significantly more derogatory ways.

Do I love the “skinny bitches” line in your song? No, not particularly.

Do I love the way any sized woman is acknowledged in most pop, rap, country, or rock music ever through out history? No, not particularly.

You know M (can I call you M?); I think the world needs to cop a balance. There is not one ideal body type for women. Bottom line, if you are a woman, and you have a body, that’s ideal. We should appreciate our bodies, take care of them, and value them for what they are: a container for much more important things.

You are a fun, young woman, who wrote a catchy song about enjoying your body, to which makes curvy girls everywhere wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, and that’s okay.

Your shoulders don’t need to carry the weight of all the women who have body issues.

Women People need to stop blaming music, television, movies, and video games for the world’s problems, and get working on their own problems.

No one person is to blame, not even you Meghan Trainor.

Yours truly,