Saturday, July 31, 2010

Books, books and more books.

It was once said, "A room without books is like a house without windows," and I do agree whole heartedly. However, most of you know one very tender issue in the Wells household is books. Daniel's books. Just a couple days after moving in, I began to rearrange the shelves, moving them to different rooms and different places, and then I began rearranging the books to make them appear the most asthetically pleasing on the shelf-- but I was careful to keep the categories neatly separated, and was certain I didn't disorganize anything....

well, turns out I did. The clutter of organization I saw turned out to be a orderly system in my philosopher's mind, and I had now turned his system upside down. Sad day.

We did get it worked out, finally. He was even kind enough to box up 50 "extra" books so that I could have a little more room to decorate (although some might argue that the top of a book shelf isn't for books anyway).

Even still, every once and awhile I will suggest filling another box, and he will consistently groan and say he just can't do that. It's taken me these several weeks to realize why. It hit me this morning while I was straightening our room and came across this pile of books:

This was his reading list for this week. 15 books. When I asked him to put away the ones he had finished only 4 were left.

At that rate I guess the 3,000 books that are out on shelves will need to be kept there, because in 52 weeks he'll go through quite a bunch of them.

I was going to take a picture of my reading list for this week... but it wasn't even worth the effort. :-P

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wedding Pictures!

I could not possibly post every single one, and I'm sure you wouldn't want me to. So the following are my favorites. (For anyone interested in seeing more, you'll just have to check out Facebook.)

 My Maids and me <3 They were the best ever! (and still are)

My precious flower girls. (L to R) Emiliee, Anna, Aliza, Olivia

Our rings. Daniel's is white titanium. Mine is white gold with diamonds (of course) and sapphire.

Owen. The world's cutest ring bearer

This does not do his face justice... it was just perfect. Still gives me butterflies.


 So, that's really not even a fraction of my favorites but it will have to do! :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

O, Love

Two years ago Daniel introduced me to Reformed University Fellowship and their music. Since then I have fallen in love with Red Mountain Music, Indelible Grace, Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb and Matthew Smith. When talented people get together and create beautiful music, it is a wonderful thing. When timeless hymns are reformed to fit with the culture of the time, while still staying true to the theme and original intent of the author, it is very wonderful.

One of these hymns we sung at our wedding, because for both Daniel and me, it has been a reminder of truth through difficult times. It's true, it brought tears to my eyes while I sang it on my wedding day, because I was reminded of God's great, great Love.

O, Love That Will Not Let Me Go seems fit for every occasion: The loss of a loved one, the sickness of a friend, when you or someone you love falls into sin, and when repentance and reconciliation take place; when darkness surrounds you, when burdens oppress you; when it rains, and when the joy of the Lord is irrepressible; when a friend betrays you, when you're all alone, or when you are surrounded buy countless blessings.

My favorite verse is still the third. How often I have sung it to remind myself all in not vain, I cannot even count, but the entirety of the hymn is glorious.

  1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O Light that foll’west all my way,
    I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
    My heart restores its borrowed ray,
    That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
    May brighter, fairer be.
  3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  4.  O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Proposal

One year ago today I was on a Continental flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, back home to Cleveland. I sat with my journal opened on my lap, looking at the words on the very last page: Why didn't he ask me???

I had spent the entire weekend in Charlotte, and had the opportunity to meet Daniel's pastor and his wife, the rest of those who are now our church family, have dinner with an elder and his family, and go to a special wedding-- the wedding of one of our own groomsman. We had a romantic afternoon and evening in Greenville, South Carolina, strolling through the artsy shops, eating ice cream at Coffee Underground and relaxing near the water at Reedy Falls. The weekend was one to remember. Every day was perfect, every moment, even. We were so happy together, and I was so happy to be there in Charlotte with him. I told him, "This really feels like it could be home."

He dropped several hints that weekend. He did several things that made me more than curious. When his best friend Joe called unexpectedly Friday afternoon and yelled (loud enough for me to hear), "Dude!! Are you E-N-G yet?!?!" I tried to pretend I didn't hear. As we were walking leisurely around Greenville, Daniel kept glancing at his watch, as if we had some place to go. When I questioned him about it, he mentioned something about the sunset. Then, when we found a quiet, romantic place right on the river's edge to sit and talk together, he took a quiet moment to reach in his back pocket, as if to pull something out. I gave him a look, and he laughed and said it was just an itch. By the time we left and he had still not popped the question, I had given up, on being asked and figured in my mind he had something else planned-- after all, he had initially said we wouldn't get engaged until winter. But then he surprised me by pulling off on the side of the highway, and looking at me with his cute, "Guess what I'm doing now" smile that he has. We were right on the border-- in two places at once.

But still... no question.

Our goodbye that next morning at the airport was nothing special. In fact, he almost made me cry the way he seemed to just want to get out of there. I demanded a hug, another kiss, another hug, and he finally just told me to go. 

Things were happening when I got home. My mother and sister were busy planning for something. But I didn't really care. I had too much to catch up on to be too concerned with their confusing excuses.

Around four o'clock Mom tried kicking me off the computer by asking me to go get the mail. I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend (hi Emily!!), checking email, Facebook and the like, and as much as I love to get the mail, felt that it was not all that important. Ten minutes later Mom asked again, and said there was a rain coming-- I should go now. So I did.

But I took my phone, and dialed a friend's number (hi Michelle!!). I was meandering down our driveway, just about the leave a message when Daniel popped out from behind the row of trees. I screamed, jumped, then screamed and laughed. "What are you doing here!?" He couldn't hide the smile on his face. I knew, but it was all so surreal I couldn't fathom it.

He pulled me to him, and we stood in the middle of the grassy field at the front of my family's property. He made some sort of joke, of course, because he's Daniel Wells, and no story of his would be complete without one. Then, he got very sweet and sincere, and with perfectly natural language told me he loved me, adored me and wanted me to be the one by his side for the rest of his life. "Ashlee, will you be my bride?" He asked as he knelt on one knee, and pulled a single solitaire diamond from his pocket.

The word was out of mouth almost before he could finish asking, and he hugged me and spun me in a circle, and kissed my lips so sweetly. It was like a first kiss all over again. 

Then he held me tight and started to sing quietly the song we danced to on our wedding day-- the song that he heard way back in September of 2007, right after he promised his dying grandmother he would marry a woman she would love. 

It was at that moment that the first raindrop fell on my face. I looked up at him and smiled. Then we both looked up at the sky, and it started to pour.

Within minutes we were drenched, and enjoyed every second of it. We danced and kissed some more, and laughed at the wonderfulness of the whole experience.

His mom came for dinner, and we celebrated all evening. We finished the day off by star gazing on the back porch late into the evening, but even when I finally fell asleep I wished the day would never end. Even in the dark my diamond sparkled. It was perfect.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Since I left home...

my little sisters have found a dozen or more ways to make me miss them even more. I makes me smile, love them more... and wrenches my heart.

Not long after we moved in down here, Mom took the kids to Lake Erie for the day. The girls especially relished the beach. When I talked to Anna about it the next day she said, "Will you come over and take me to the beach?" Then she caught herself, "O, you live far away now.... will you come see me soon?"

A couple of days ago just a bit before dinner Anna said she was so hungry, and she wanted to eat now. Angela and Peter were on their way, Nick and Noah were due home any minute, and Mom told her, "Not til everyone gets here. Everyone is coming over! Won't that be fun!?" So she waited. Everyone would be fun. Then "everyone" got there, they sat down to eat, but Anna was concerned: "Wait a minute. Where are Daniel and Ashlee? You said everyone was coming!"

Then there was Aliza one day randomly, "I want to see that Ashlee Wells." (They usually call me "Ashlee Wells" now)

One of the most difficult ones to hear was from Anna, who said to Mom one day, "I wish Ashlee Wells was still Ashlee Willeke. She was my best friend."

Then today my mom informed me that five year old Aliza found copies of my senior pictures around the house, and was kissing each one. Then she gently picked them all up and laid them safely where she found them saying, "Good-bye Ashlee."

So why post all this? Just to make you cry? I promise it's not.

I didn't think my little sisters could be more special to me than they were before the wedding, and suddenly they are. Little children grow so fast, change so quickly. Already, Aliza has blossomed from a toddler to a little girl, and Anna has grown up even faster-- since when do 3-year-olds know last names and speak in total rational, complete sentences?? I missed those changes and it makes me ache, but it reminds me that I can't hold on to anything forever.

They are coming to visit in two weeks-- just the two of them! And I am already having so much fun planning out our days and the special activities we are going to do. It will be a wonderful reunion!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two Years Ago...

... we first heard the other's voice.

It was a momentous day! Read the story here.

Happy Birthday Noah!

In the autumn of 1996 my six-year-old self was unloading the dishwasher when Mom announced to all of us that she was going to have a baby. I remember my heart skipping several beats, and I was immediately overflowing with joy. About nine months later, four little heads sat at around, past bedtime, waiting, waiting, waiting for the phone call. When our grandma finally answered the much awaited call I ran out the front door in excitement and shouted to the sleeping neighborhood, "IT'S A BOY!!!"

And it was a boy, and now he's practically all grown up. At 13 he isn't our little "Boo" anymore. He is a strong, caring young man, who wants those he loves to be the best they can be, and to be happy. He loves cars, and spends his spare time learned and studying as much as he can about them.

For his birthday Daniel and I sent him a homemade card. I went into Target to buy one, and walked out frustrated that I was being asked to pay so much for two pieces of paper. So I found a card I liked, and went home and copied it. :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our Beautiful Niece

Yesterday marked the one month birthday of sweet Savannah Jane. Her mommy posted this picture of her on Facebook, and it was just so precious, I have to brag about her to all my friends!


Ain't she pretty?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday Fun Night!

Last night we had good friends over for dinner. I say good friends, because of course they are, but really, I am just getting to know both of them. Evan was a groomsman in our wedding, so I know he was especially important to Daniel. I am looking forward to getting to know Leslie-- we already found a common interest-- Jane Austen! Our husbands groaned when we started talking Austen, and made mocking voices of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Men. :P

I had such a fun time getting ready for them to come. I even bought flowers for the table.

We wanted to have a laid-back evening, since it was Friday. So I made homemade pizza (I do promise, it's not all we eat!)-- cheese and pepperoni for Daniel, and BBQ Ranch Chicken for myself. For dessert we had chocolate dipped ice cream cones. The cones are easy to make, and O, so delicious.

 This is what you need: 1 cup chocolate chips, 4 sugar or waffle cones, about 1/2 cup crushed M&Ms, and a half gallon of ice cream (you'll have some left over).

Line individual cups with parchment paper, or use a cookie tray and cover with parchment paper-- remember, you'll need undisturbed freezer space for about 4 hours.

Let the icecream soften for a couple of minutes to that it's easily mold-able, but not melting all over the place. Gently fill the bottom of the cone, then make a large rounded scoop to place on top.

Place in dessert cup or on cookie tray and freeze for about an hour, or until ice cream has hardened again.

Crush M&Ms :-D

Once the ice cream is hard again, melt the chocolate. To get a thinner chocolate consistency I add 3 tablespoons of oil to the cup of chocolate chips, and stir it in really well.

Make sure the chocolate is in a wide-open bowl. Tip the bowl so that the chocolate makes a large pool, and then carefully and quickly dip the cone into the chocolate. Swirl the cone in a circle to cover all of it (or however much you want). Make sure to get the cone!

Immediately swirl the cone through the M&Ms and gently place back into the dessert cup. Freeze again, this time for several hours. (sorry about the picture quality. It became much more difficult to work quickly, and try to maneuver a melting cone and camera.)

They were delicious! 
What is so great about this "recipe" is that you can make it all your own. The first time I tried these I used mint chocolate chip ice cream, and crushed almonds on the outside. Daniel preferred those, in fact.
Some topping ideas I have are: mini chocolate chips, crushed oreo, grahman cracker, and peanuts.

Of course, you could always do white chocolate, or even pretty strings of white chocolate over the dark chocolate

Have fun! I did. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Beautiful Season

I left one journey of life for the next, and the change was stark-- what was bright, colorful, loud and vibrant, was now quiet, serene and ordinary. Many of my favorite things are still present, like laughter, and whispers, and loving words, but they are all so different now. So different they cannot be compared.

My world had been as vibrant as the colors of the changing trees of autumn. No two days looked the same, and yet the currant of life was predictable: first green, to yellow, to orange, to red, to brown. And over again. Life was active, buoyant and cheerful. 

 Aliza (5) and Nolan (8)

 Aliza, Nolan and Nevin (9)

Anna Sophia (3) and Nevin
And then, in a day, a short, blissful day, all the leaves fell and the trees were bare. But I was so, so happy I didn't care.

(That lasted about three weeks)

Then the snow started to fall, and at first it was cold, and bleak and dull. I was aching for the colorful life that had been.

I was not lonely, because I had my best friend nearly always by me; and yet I was lonely, because I was used to "constant chatter," and bubbles of excitement. I was not bored, because there is always plenty to do; but I was bored, because what I was used to doing I could not. I was not unhappy, yet the slightest fond memory would make me burst into tears. 

The change from what was normal to what now is normal is a process. Just as the trees adapt to the different seasons, and the design of their life cycles from spring to summer to fall, and then into hibernation for winter, I have had to adapt to a new environment, a new role, and new responsibilities. Normal is evolving into something completely different, and yet... just as lovely.

And though I still daily think of the beautiful, colorful life I left behind; I am also daily overwhelmed by this wonderful, blessed life that is now mine. There is a glistening shimmer of perfect, spotless snow covering heavy-laden trees. Icicles form from branches and roof tops, and shine little rainbows unto the ground below. It's glorious. 


Life now is fresh and  new, like those first weeks of winter. While it seems everything is dull compared to what it was, it is only sleeping, in preparation for spring-- for new life, for more changes, for more journeys. Life now is fresh and  new, like those first weeks of winter. And it's all beautiful.