About Ashley Willingham

Ashley is a Christian wife and mama, an organised-creative, traveller, coffee drinker, and ponderer. She's a work from home mama - writing and photographing beautiful families with the desire to capture story!

Twelve Months With Otis

I have said this a few times over the past month, but it’s really surreal to reflect on the last year, to realize all that has happened since our little Otis boy came into our lives. A year ago we were living in Australia, decorations still on the walls, routine still in place. I had resigned to the fact that Otis was NOT going to come early like his sister, so I was surprised when I started having contractions a few days early. Otis came into the world very fast, and it was such a shock! I was happy it happened that way, though, after a very long labor and birth with Eleanor. All that to say, since his birth, we had my parents in Australia, adjusted to life as a family of four, and then we began preparing for our move back to the States. Selling things, shipping things, hanging out with friends and our church. Then the day came, and we flew around the world with a few bags and a lifetime of memories and friendships, completely changed from the people we went there as nearly a decade prior. Since arriving back in the U.S., there have been a million adjustments and transitions, and we are still figuring out so many things out. There have been many challenges and many victories, and I have been so grateful that we have Mr. Otis with us for it all. He’s such a special part of our family, and I am grateful for the joy he brings to everyone around him. Happy 1st Birthday sweet boy!

Highlights & Milestones

Otis has gotten even more adventurous and mobile this month. He is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e! If someone opens the back door, he’s there in a flash. He always wants to be outside, racing to get there anytime he sees an opportunity. Front porch sitting hasn’t happened as much this month because he wants to get down and get into the dirt. If Otis is awake, he’s moving it seems. Just last week, a few days before his birthday, he took his first few steps. We were downtown at an Air B&B that Robbie’s family was staying at, and he saw something a couple feet away and just walked over to it. It was so unexpected that we all were sort of in disbelief about what had happened. Since then, I am noticing that it almost always has to be Otis’s idea; he won’t do it when prompted.

Sadly, Otis had his first case of Hand, Foot and Mouth. He’s only been sick twice in his life, one time with roseola and then this time. He was so miserable for those first couple days, and it was really heartbreaking. He recovered after a few days, even though he still had so many spots. I am glad that’s over, though, and I am so grateful he was back to his happy self for his birthday party on Saturday.

We went to an apple orchard with the kids for the first time this month, and they both loved it. Otis particularly loved the apples and trying the apple slushies! Towards the end, we let the kids play at the playground for a bit, and Otis, as usual, did not want to leave the swing.

Otis road in our new-to-us jogging stroller for the first time this month, and I think he really enjoyed it. I am sure he’ll enjoy it more and more now that it’s not so hot, though!!

He is making all sorts of sounds and faces, and he loves if people clap for him. He really loves making silly faces at Eleanor, and the two of them can make each other laugh so hard! One thing they’ve been doing that is particularly cute is when Eleanor rides on her little Frozen push car while Otis is at the back pushing her. They still love playing hide-and-seek and chase, too!

Likes

  • Food – after his birthday smash cake, I’ll put “sugar” on the list! Haha! His other favorite foods right now are any type of crackers, smoothies, fries, bananas, cheerios, sweet potatoes, avocado, cheese, apples.
  • He loves water and his milk. He’ll hold his own bottle each time now.
  • Being outside, going for walks, sitting on the front porch
  • Cars, trucks, etc. – will watch cars drive by all day long!
  • Crawling around, cruising around while holding on, climbing things
  • Playing chase/peek-a-boo with Eleanor
  • Seeing people after being away (aka when Daddy gets home, or when he sees Gaga or Papaw)
  • Being thrown in the air, when we fly him around chasing Eleanor
  • Water – bath time, water table, splash pad…he loves it all.
  • Riding in the shopping cart
  • Fun songs – Wheels on the Bus, If You’re Happy and You Know It, etc. – just not Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star bc that means it’s sleep time
  • Being tickled
  • Playing with Reese, my parent’s dog

Dislikes

  • Having his nose wiped
  • Being hungry!
  • Getting his diaper/clothes changed (unless you come up with the perfect song!)
  • If you put him down and he’s not ready for it yet

How Am I Doing?

I am mostly doing good, but this month has been a whirlwind. There have been about a million things going on, and I don’t feel like I have had any down time or breaks. Throwing in Otis’s hand, foot and mouth was certainly not helpful! I am thankful a lot of things are out of the way now, and I can focus on the few major areas that are still quite busy. I am definitely loving this season with both of my kids, though. I love seeing them interact more together and play. We are also slowly but surely getting into more of a routine as the school year has started with mom’s group, church stuff, preschool, etc. I am still working out our schedules in some areas, but we are getting a bit more settled.

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Eleven Months With Otis

Welp! We are officially in Otis’s birthday month, and I am just now writing his 11 month update. Life has been pretty full in the last couple weeks as we’ve started into a regular fall schedule with preschool, tumbling and ballet classes, and small groups starting in a couple weeks. I’m not sure how moms of elementary aged kids do it with all the schedules and running around! Alright so Otis…11 months old! Oh my!

Highlights & Milestones

One highlight this month was that we all went to the State Fair the first week in August. Eleanor and Otis both had such a great time, although Eleanor admittedly probably enjoyed it more. Otis loved watching everything, and if you’ve ever been to a State Fair, you know there is A LOT to look at. He is such an observer. He still loves to sit on the front porch and watch cars and people go by.

He’s continued to crawl, climb, stand – all the movement. He is trying so hard to keep up with Eleanor, and yet, he’s also pretty happy to find his own thing to do now that he can get everywhere. He climbed all the way up our slide in the backyard, which was super surprising. The only problem was that he then tried to just turn and sit down, which doesn’t quite work. He does LOVE going down slide, though. He’s also getting a lot more confident standing, and he’ll push a little car thing around while walking behind it. We are trying to teach him to turn around when he’s climbing down something like a step or the Eleanor’s little bed. He climbs onto things, but then he just tries to nose dive off of them.

He got his third and fourth top teeth this month, and I am pretty sure he’s working on his one-year-old molars, which is no surprise at the rate he’s been going. He currently has eight teeth, and his little smile is just the sweetest.

Otis is definitely a talker. He makes all sorts of sounds at this point, and the boy is quite loud! He loves saying “Mama”, “Dada”, “Nanana” and other various loud sounds. I am excited when he figures out something to call Eleanor someday soon.

Another highlight of this past month was a family trip to the beach in South Carolina. We drove overnight to Edisto Beach, and it surprisingly went really well. We got both the kids to sleep in their normal beds, at their normal bed time, while we all finished packing and loading the car. Once we were all ready to go and the kids had slept for a couple solid hours, we got the van started and then slowly got them both settled in their seats. They actually stayed asleep for the most part. Otis didn’t wake up until a rest stop awhile later, and he was pretty happy. I was thankful they did the drive so well. Otis loved the beach and all the sand, and I was actually able to get him to fall asleep on the beach, which is always a plus. He also enjoyed splashing around at the pool. We did mini golf one night, and he had a great time crawling around on each little green. He enjoyed the house we were staying in, and he found many new places to explore. The house was a time share we rented through Robbie’s family, and it had a good amount of space. We brought the pack-n-play for Otis to sleep in, and then did the pool noodle trick for Eleanor in the regular bed. They both did super well in their room. Overall it was such a fun week!

A milestone over the last month(ish) is that Otis has been going to the childcare during church. He’s happy as can be, and I cannot even tell you how amazing it is to really be in church each Sunday now that both kids are happily in Sunday school!

Likes

  • Food – first of all it should be noted that Otis refuses to be fed…Mr. Independent. His favorite foods right now are any type of crackers, smoothies, fries, bananas, cheerios, sweet potatoes, avocado, cheese, apples.
  • Loves his water bottle, and also will hold his own milk bottle sometimes.
  • Being outside
  • Watching – he loves to watch cars/trucks, people, water fountains, etc.
  • Crawling around, cruising around while holding on, climbing things
  • Playing chase/peek-a-boo with Eleanor
  • Seeing people after being away (aka when Daddy gets home, or when he sees Gaga or Papaw)
  • Being thrown in the air, when we fly him around chasing Eleanor
  • Water – bath time, water table, splash pad…he loves it all.
  • Riding in the shopping cart
  • Fun songs – Wheels on the Bus, If You’re Happy and You Know It, etc. – just not Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star bc that means it’s sleep time

Dislikes

  • Being hungry
  • When you put him down if he isn’t ready for it yet
  • Being in the car when he’s sleepy
  • Getting his diaper changed or clothes changed is a struggle about 3/5 times now – he just wants to be on the go!
  • When you try to feed him

How Am I Doing?

I am doing really well. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed a progression of learning and personal growth, and I feel like I’ve really turned a corner in many areas. I am learning to run – training to do a 5K in 6 weeks, which I’ve never done. I’ve been loving doing my Plexus business, which is amazing to me considering I said I’d never do network marketing! Never say never! I’ve been reading more as well.

There are still some things that we are figuring out that I’ll eventually write about, but overall, we are feeling great! I cannot believe my Otis boy will be one in just a few weeks, but I am really excited to celebrate him with friends and family. We are doing a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme – it seems fitting! We also have family coming in town from Tulsa and Atlanta! The next update will be 12 months, as well as a “Happy Birthday” post – cannot believe it!!!

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Maternity Photo Shoot // Rachel Knight

I got to hang out with the Knight Family last week to get some sweet pics of Rachel’s baby bump, her husband and the soon-to-be big brother and sister. Big brother was starting school the very next day, so I appreciated their commitment to getting these photos and having fun together. The littles had THE MOST energy, and they made for some adorable photos! I am certain they’ll be great at welcoming the newest addition next month.

Thanks again Rachel and family! I loved meeting you and hanging out with your family for a bit.

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