We're engaged!!!!!!!!!!

Finally!  You know what I'm talking about!  I no longer have to wish and hope and dream about the proposal. ;-]  I am officially soon-to-be Mrs. Joshua Staples!!!! Woot woot!!!!  If my computer weren't charging, I would still be running around the house screaming and dancing . . . and posing with my new ring in the mirror!  ;-] 

Yesterday, Josh and I spent the entire afternoon hanging out at Navy Pier.  The weather was perfect; the breeze was perfect; the Summery, warm, comfortable feeling of the day couldn't have been better.  We walked around Navy Pier and decided to take a seat on one of the benches.  I kicked my legs over his, he layed his arm across my shoulders and we just hung out and flirted.  Not just any kind of flirting; the kind of flirting where I have to ask myself, Have we really been dating for 5 years? the kind of flirting that stirs butterflies in my stomach.  I was cuddled in his arms and simply enjoying the moment for what it was.  After we both could no longer fight our hunger feeling, we agreed to grab dinner at Harry Caray's.  While eating dinner, I told him, You know that day that I've been wanting all Summer?  The day where we just hang out, walk hand-in-hand with our ice cream cones, enjoying each other's company?  This is that day.  This day is so perfect it seems unreal.  He just smiled.  Shortly after, I told him, Babe, I just want you to know that I don't even need a ring.  As long as I can have your last name, I am perfectly okay with that.  He just laughed and said "Yeah right!"
After dinner, we rode the ferris wheel and then were determined to find a bench amongst the tons and tons of people standing around waiting for a bench to clear to watch the fireworks.  We found the perfect bench and were sure that there wasn't a better seat at Navy Pier.  After the fireworks were over, I stood up and was ready to go since he had work the next morning and we had a long ride home, but Josh asked, "What time is it?"  9:12, I said.  "Sit back down, we still have some time to hang out."  So, we decided just to hang around and enjoy the perfect, warm breeze and that special moment that is so difficult to duplicate.  He had his arm around my shoulders and I kicked my feet up on the bench, leaned my back into his side, rested my head on his chest and nestled in closely to him. 

Why don't you just propose to me already?  Hey, wouldn't it be so cool if when you . . . And I was cut off by Josh placing this beautiful diamond ring in front of me.  I quickly gasped for a breath, turned around and looked at Josh, who was already on his knee.  Babe, are you serious? 
"Ashley Leilani-Nicole Couch, I love you sooo much.  Will you marry me?"  And the only word that could come out of my mouth was Yes. I grabbed him in the tightest hug and just started crying.  Crying because I couldn't have imagined a more perfect moment, on a more perfect day, with the most perfect guy I have ever met.  I couldn't believe that the moment I had been waiting for for so long had finally just happened.  The ring that he placed on my finger was THE perfect ring. 

I just kept hugging him, looking at him, and kissing him . . . and repeated about 30 times haha!  He said, "If I would have known I was going to get this many kisses, I would have asked sooner!"  So we just sat around, talked about what each other was feeling, assuring him that the ring was absolutely perfect, and promising that I didn't know he had a jewelry box in his side pocket.  Any of you that know me know that I ask Josh every day When are we getting engaged?  Is the day any closer?  Are we going to be engaged by ______?  Have you even purchased the ring yet?  What does my ring look like?  You already know the day you're going to ask me?  I am just the biggest eager beaver when it comes to wanting to be his fiance.  So for me to tell him, Why don't you just propose to me already?  was just another comment/question that the day couldn't end without.  But, I did not expect him to take me literally!  :-]

I still cannot believe that he is my fiance!  It really hasn't hit me, I don't think.  I can't believe that within the next year we will be shopping for wedding bands, looking for a place to live,  joining our bank accounts (YES!  I mean . . . ), looking for wedding attire, looking at furniture and appliances . . . taking steps to sharing the same last name . . . eeeek, it sounds amazing!!!!! 

And for those of you that are curious, the ring is a 1.5 carat solitaire.  ;-]  Yipeeee!!!! Homie did good!!!

Posted byAshley C. at 7:53 PM 2 Love Notes  

8.41'

I've got to have my moment to shine.  Will you let me?  Okay, well I mentioned a couple posts ago that I started the Biggest Loser program at work.  One of the challenges this week was to log in your fastest mile on the treadmill.  Let me begin by saying that I usually run my mile on 5.5 speed, so it takes me about 12 minutes to finish and when I'm close to the end, I'm ready to just let the belt throw me off because I'm dead.  Well . . . on Wednesday, I looked at the fastest times logged in by other participants and they were 8.29', and 9.22'.  I figured that I would give it a shot.  I love me some competition.  I set the treadmill to 6.5 speed and was pretty sure I was going to die.  I felt like my lungs were collapsing and that my head was going to burst.  BUT, I made it and logged 9.25'; the fastest time I have ever done in a mile, I'm positive of it.  I was not happy with being in third.  Sooo I tried again today.  Instead, I set my speed to 7.0 and ran that speed the entire time.  Want to hear what my final time was?  8.41!!!!!!!!  WHY?!  I am sooo tempted to try again tomorrow!  I was only 12 seconds away from the best time! :-[  But you know what?  I already beat my best time.  By nearly 3-4 minutes, so this was huge for me.  I have to say that I'm proud . . . even though I did come in second.

Here's to being in second . . . and a second week of Biggest Loser! ;-]

Posted byAshley C. at 9:06 PM 0 Love Notes  

Finding my identity

I am almost positive that I'm having an early mid-life (20's?) crisis; not 100% sure, but almost.  You know how when you start junior high, you begin trying to find your identity?  You are trying to discover if you fit better with this group or that group; whether it would be cool to do this or if you'd be better off doing that.  Whether talking that way would be cuter or if you sound more smart talking that way.  If your entire life will change for the better dating this guy or just living for the moment and dating that guy (okay, go ahead and admit you've been there!).  Well, I'm sure I'm at that point again, but this time with photography. 

Do I make a better photog photographing this way or that?
Heck, can I even consider myself a photog?  Am I even "good enough?"
Is this really worth putting in years to see what might happen down the road?
Do I even really want to be doing photography later down the road?
Which direction do I see/feel myself heading?  Couples only?  Wedding?  Children?  Family?
Which direction would I feel most comfortable and be most successful in? 
Is that piece of equipment worth the investment? Will I even use it or am I just on one of those "highs?"
How can I stop comparing my skill to that photog that's been investing years of time?

Hmm.  That list is both scary and not-so-scary.  I guess the easy answer is just to practice, apply, and learn, but then again, it scares me to have to really think about all of that.  I guess if that photog is where they are, they only got there by having to jump the same hurdles as me.  So, I guess it's just watch out world I'm ready to tackle (and think about) whatever jumps at me!  Ready, set, here I go!

Posted byAshley C. at 12:58 PM 0 Love Notes  

Courtney // Maternity

I sent Courtney a text message asking her, Do you mind if I borrow you and your belly for maternity pictures soon? And she immediately said "Yes!" We hadn't seen each other in quite some time, so it sure was nice to catch up and for her to show off her beautiful body for these photos. She did an amazing job and got comfortable in front of the camera so quickly. Thanks for your help, Courtney!


P.S.: Blogger is killing the quality of these photos!

Posted byAshley C. at 12:43 PM 0 Love Notes  

Aaron and Brittany // Family

I asked these two if I could photograph their beautiful family and without hesitation, they were down! It was a blast sharing this growing experience with them because they were easy to please (and not to mention, one of the best-looking families I've seen!). During their shoot, I told them that either I'm doing pretty good and this whole photography gig or they are making my job way too easy! I think having confidence is key, so I'll go ahead and say that it's a little bit of both. ;-] Enjoy some of the photos!

Posted byAshley C. at 12:40 PM 0 Love Notes  

Vacation, Weight, and Photos

Me and my Lover are back from our short vacation.  We were gone for 4 days, but it went by way too fast.  I can't wait until I am able to spend time with him like we did in Tennessee!  We had an awesome time reconnecting with each other.  He has been working 14-16 hour days and when he gets off, he's too tired to hang out; since the school they are working on needs to be turned over by Monday, he will have a lot more time to hang out . . . which is bittersweet because he will probably be laid off for a while.  I mean, the money is sweet, but his body is exhausted and honestly, there is no money good enough for making him feel the way he has.  He deserves a good couple of weeks to relax.  :-]
Me on the other hand?  Well, I have had way too much time to relax.  I've been gaining weight, becoming lazy, and eating everything in sight haha.  Fortunately, on Monday I am starting the 'Biggest Loser' program at my work and on top of that . . . I will be doing Weight Watchers.  Again.  I know, I know.  You are probably thinking "Again?"  But really, I have never weighed this much and have never felt this gross.  I need to lose this weight some way or another and it won't be happening with me laying around and eating fast food.  We will see how this goes.  :-]
On another note, I just got my new laptop this week!  It has been a relief since I've been doing several sessions and have not been able to edit any of the photos.  So, I plan on editing the first session by this weekend and start chipping away at the other two before my next 3 sessions this month.  Eek!  :-]  But, I just purchased a Zenfolio account, so as soon as I have these photos edited, my clients will be able to go online, view, and purchase whichever they like.  I'm really excited about it!  So, as I've said before, if you know anyone interested in finding (or trying out) a new photographer, shoot them my way!

Maybe next time you hear from me, you will have a few photos to taste from my first session!     

Posted byAshley C. at 8:18 AM 0 Love Notes  

Road Trip!

Our 5th anniversary is this Friday and he gave me two options:  1) fly to Orlando or Naples, FL for 4 nights or 2) take a road trip to any place I want.  What did I choose?  ROAD TRIP!  We've been to Florida before.  I love Florida, but I wanted something a little more relaxing.  I feel like with so much going on around us, it's more like us just hanging out and that ends up resulting in us just "being there" with each other.  With it being a milestone for us, him working so much and us not doing a single thing this Summer exciting, I wanted something more us.  :-]  So, I told him that I wanted to go visit the Smokies and he was so up for the idea!  The only catch was that he took off work Thursday-Sunday (which in itself was a huge deal), so that means that I had to somehow get off work Thursday, too (thank you sooo much, Krissy!).  So, we made some reservations, paid for our rental and we're leaving tomorrow morning!  I cannot wait!  :-]  I love, love, love, love  Tennessee!!!  I just might not come back!  I'm so glad that I have my camera because I'm going to take a gazillion photos of everything.  :-D  And ony our list of things to do: ziplining, horseback riding, and hiking!  I will share lots of photos with you when we get back! 

Posted byAshley C. at 2:24 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Here I come

I've noticed things about my blog.  Not really good things, but not bad things either.  This area is supposed to be a reflection of my life: my feelings, things going on, my faith, struggles, etc.  It hasn't been.  I've made a habit of blabbering on about what's going on day-to-day, but not what's going on inside.  As far as I know, I don't have any new readers, but if I did, they probably wouldn't know the real Ashley.  They wouldn't know my deep struggles, the things that keep me awake at night, the things that I can't "shake off."  Matter of fact, you probably don't either.  I haven't been sharing the real me.  I wouldn't necessarily say that I am being fake, because I have been sharing real things with you all, but I haven't been sharing the important things.  I think that it because once I write them, they are absolutely true and not just a figment of my imagination or something that I am currently working on but instead a real life problem.

My number one struggle right now is my faith.  I am a firm believer in Christ and I would not doubt for a minute that I am truly saved.  I believe in my heart that God raised his Son from the grave and I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord . . . that's all it takes to be saved.  I think that I have taken advantage of the comfortable life of a Christian and have not been living my faith out loud or making sacrifices that I know would make my God proud to call His own.  I have not read my Bible in more than 6 months and have not prayed a real prayer in longer than that.  I've been such a negative person with a very pessimistic outlook on life and me and I am so sure that me and Josh's relationship is the number one reflection of how my relationship with God (and myself) is at any given moment.  God is love.  God teaches love.  Without God, you cannot truly love.  I have noticed how my lack of love with God has had an influence with everyone around me, including myself.  I have been in the crabbiest, most unpleasant mood that I cannot change no matter what I try.  I have tried filling this void with things that are "scientifically" supposed to work like tanning, shopping, sleeping, etc.  But to be honest, nothing can fill the void of the absence of God in one's life.  What do I think I'm doing?  I tend to think Ah, I'm not that far from God.  I can get back to Him if/when I want to.  But, that's Satan's lies.  He wants me to think I am in good standing with God.  He wants me to think that things aren't "that bad."  What he doesn't want is for me to grow in my relationship with God.  Everything that I'm feeling is what he's feeling because he knows that he's doing a darn good job at it.  He's kept his lies up long enough and kept me from my God long enough and I feel like it's time to bring this to an end.

I often think about His Word as a love letter to me.  He wrote that love letter for me to read and be inspired, praise Him, turn to Him, love Him.  That letter has been sitting there, on my nightstand, for months and months, left unopened.  If Josh were to write me a letter, you better believe that I would tear that thing open, full of eagerness to hear what he wants to tell me; hear how much he loves me; hear about our plans for the future.  I would never let a letter from Josh sit that for months and months on end.  How could I?  How could I think that what Josh has to say is more important than what my Creator has to say? 

I need to find true love and happiness and I know that I have been looking in the wrong spot . . . but I see something right there, poking around the corner, waiting for me to go pick it up.  Here I come. 

Posted byAshley C. at 9:00 AM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

What was I thinking?

I don't know what I was thinking, but I did.  I thought it, I acted it out, and now I'm really wishing I didn't.  I am standing at the edge of a deep, deep hole, ready to jump in, not even sure what's at the bottom of it.  Probably a big ol' pile of dog mess, but hopefully something a lot more pleasant . . .and smells a whole lot better.

. . . I am building my photography portfolio and need your help! You will get a digital copy of your photos and I can hook you up on prints. The first 3 couples, 2 families, and momma and her baby that send me a message will get first dibs! Now, have at it! ;-] . . . 


So, there I was.  A little over an hour later and I have myself 2 photoshoots a week through August.  I suppose it's a very good thing since I need to get the practice in as soon as possible.  This will be like a photog boot camp!  :-]  My goal is to get the shoot done, edit the photos, and get them posted on an online gallery for them to view and purchase.  Speaking of which, I am trying my hardest not to say negative things like Ha, if they are even good enough to buy or I'm not even good enough to jump in this hole.  But, I know that I will only be as good and I think I am.  I need to get all of this negative mentality cleared and think positive, be daring, try some new things, and just be me.  Over the next year, I want to see myself grow and develop in ways that I cannot even imagine now.  I've got the most encouraging, supportive boyfriend that anyone could ask for and with him alone, I should not have any excuses for not following through on my dreams.  


Well, here's to a busy month and lots of growth!

Posted byAshley C. at 9:51 AM 0 Love Notes  

choo choo twains and sunny days

I don't really get to see my handsome nephew anymore since he and his mommy moved out of our home; so, when I do get to see him, you better believe all of my attention and energy are focused on him.  Since, mommy was working this weekend, we had the honor to watch (and spoil) him.  I don't know if I've mentioned before, but this little bugger is obsessed with "choo choo twains."  So, me, my mom, and step-dad took him on the train to Chicago and headed to Navy Pier.  And as if the hour train ride wasn't enough, when we got to Navy Pier, the first thing he spotted was the Thomas the Train ride.  He rode that.  3 times.
I don't know how we managed to do it, but we got him on the ferris wheel . . . he loved it, but would not let us let go of him to sit him next to us.  I don't blame him; that ferris wheel feels like it's miles high.  So, in my opinion, he was actually pretty brave. :-]  I got lots of pictures, but since the loss, I can't load them on here. :-[

Yesterday, we took him to the county fair.  He saw and got to pet the pigs, goats, and horses (cows. haha, still working on that!).  A couple months ago, he went to another fair and played that game where you throw the balls into the small jars and can win a goldfish; he won a goldfish and surprisingly, it is still alive.  When you ask him where you got the fish, he says "That's my fish. Throw balls!"  Well, of course, they had a couple of those booths set up and he insisted on playing that game.  Needless to say, after $10, we didn't go home with a fish this time.  While at the fair, he rode the carousel and a car-ish carousel (4 times!).  He probably would have ridden the twain ride a bajillion times if I didn't convince him it was broken (thank goodness his balloon popped and grabbed his attention when it came riding passed us!).  Since we spent so much time dilly-dallying around, we missed the demo derby show.  He would have really enjoyed that, but maybe next year. ;-]  The sun probably wore him out anyway after sitting in it for 2 straight days. 

And I thought I'd give you an update: the insurance said we should have the itemized list and a check in the mail by early this week!  Yay!  Oh, and Josh said that we are separating the money that we get back from each of our stolen items because he "needs it for something."  Hmm . . .?  It's most likely not what I think it is, but it's fun to entertain the thought. ;-]  This means that I'll have a new laptop hopefully by next week!  Then, back to rebuilding my photo albums since they were all stolen. ;-[

Posted byAshley C. at 11:33 AM 0 Love Notes