LIVING LIFE with FAGE

This post is sponsored by FAGE; but you know it’s only written by yours truly. One of my favorite things about this blog is the opportunity to bring you (and me!) ways to make life healthier, simpler, and a bit more fabulous.

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Was life always this fast? I wonder if I popped back ten, fifteen years ago if life was as stressful and busy. I think it’s in my nature to stay busy and focused, so I’m sure it was. I could go out on a limb and say most women (especially parents) stay in a constant state of ‘busy-ness.’

Things change in life… our focus and needs change, but our nature is simply our nature. It’s become a constant of sorts. We switch hats all day… from boss babe at work to mom mode at home. From care taking a sick loved one, or being an ear for a friend, or putting on “chef” hat and making dinner for the family (then cleaning up!), we are chameleons that seamlessly switch into each of the role of our lives. (Today is a day with many hats for me— how about you? I’ve got to get better about not letting it stress me out. I’m trying.)

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A few days ago, I rushed home from work and running errands, I wanted to do something for myself for a few minutes before Hayden’s babysitter left…. the “changing of the hats” phase, if you will. I was hungry and tired and dreaming of something sweet like FAGE. I’m learning the best way for me to not get too stressed is take these few minutes to recharge.

I put my yoga mat down to do a quick routine and eat something easy, ready-to-go and utterly delicious. I’ve been doing more of these “mini” routines lately when time is not allowing a full workout. (Full disclosure, I later “reenacted” this set up for the blog because I was totally alone in the house the first time while Hayden played outside with the babysitter- no one else to take a photo— and the only little creature begging me for something was Oscar;) But on a typical day, I’m not alone! And as soon as the Split Cups come out, so do the munchkins! HA. (Scroll all the way down to see the photos with Huck sneaking beside me for a bite;)

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I often grab the FAGE Total Split Cup because it’s a staple in our fridge. I know I need to head to the market when we’re low on a few things and FAGE yogurt is one of them (Hayden LOVES Greek yogurt… I mean…happy dance time). It’s packed so full of taste, I relax for a bit and let it consume me. No joke- it’s really that good. Also, it’s low in calories, full of protein, probiotics and 30% less sugar with no artificial sweeteners. I love that it comes in 3 fat varieties: 0%, 2% and 5%. 

I’m really trying to remember to take care of myself even on the busiest of days working and taking care of everyone else. I am a better version of myself when I do a few simple things: fit in a workout, drink enough water and eat healthy throughout the day. I’m telling you- if you haven’t tried these Split Cups (btw- they were under $1 at my local grocer - find your closest location), do yourself a favor. You’ll feel satisfied and won’t need the dessert later, or an extra glass of wine. It’s satiable and good for your whole family. The other thing I love is that it fills me just enough. If I’m on camera that day, I don’t like the extended stomach feeling. And since I’m being personal here, I’ll go one step further. It’s not a secret we are trying to get pregnant. So, I have to take care of myself. I need to eat good food regularly. I need to take out the daily stress. I think tonight I’ll do double duty— take a nice bath WITH my FAGE Total Lime Split Cup (for dessert— it is really that good!). LOL. It’s like take me away with FAGE. I deserve it! #itsthelittlethings #LiveLoveEat #FAGE 

ps-I know some of you were going to try these after reading the last blog post. Did you?

xoxo

AAJ

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I promise I’m not teasing Oscar! He just can’t help himself when he smells the goodness. lol.

I promise I’m not teasing Oscar! He just can’t help himself when he smells the goodness. lol.

I swear, on a typical day, if I’m sitting outside trying to have a moment, little kiddos find there way when I bring out the treats!

I swear, on a typical day, if I’m sitting outside trying to have a moment, little kiddos find there way when I bring out the treats!

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Beautifully BLENDED

Since I met Joel and started sharing some of our family life with y’all, many of you have commented about being a part of blended families OR potentially being a part of one in the future. After being asked the same questions over and over, I thought it’d be easiest to answer in a blog post! I am not a professional by any means; I’m only commenting from personal experience. And maybe I learned a thing or two from Jerry McGuire. Ha! #sorrynotsorry Or from my big beautifully blended family on The Bold and the Beautiful (now that is BLENDED). Wink, wink. 

Disneyland Day

Disneyland Day

Before I dig in, the term “blended family” has never sat well with me. I have images of a blender slicing things. Can we come up with a better term? PLEASE?

The question I get asked the most: What would I tell someone who is interested in seriously dating an individual with children.

I wouldn’t tell them anything, but I would ask them a few questions. Blended families are beautiful blessings when you you are ready for that responsibility. Again, I’ve learned from trial and error. I’m just trying to be the best wife, mom and step-mom I can, but miss the mark sometimes.

1) Do you enjoy long talks about poop, math quizzes or soccer goals? 

In other words: are you ready to be a mature, parental figure that puts the kids first (because they did not ask for this)? You will not be newly weds in the traditional sense. You don’t get that alone time in the beginning like two single people getting married. You are an instafamily. And an instaparent of sorts. Ready for that? (I wrote about the instant changes that occur in my column for PEOPLE here.)

2) Are you ready to make comprises, keep your promises and plan ahead?

Kids take planning. There are no “ let’s jump on a plane to Mexico for the weekend” (unless it’s not their weekend with the kids, but single parents are tired! Their spontaneity may have wained considerably). Also, if you make a date with a single parent on their custodial time, KEEP IT. Don’t flake. They may have moved mountains to get a babysitter. 

3) How serious are you about this individual? 

If the relationship is ready for a serious commitment, it’s may be time to involve the children. Children need stability, though, so if you’re one foot in— do not meet the kids.

4) Do you understand the “package deal?”

The most important thing to remember is they are a package together. The chid/children were there before you and will always be the priority. It’s extremely important to make time for each other, but it’s harder. You have to be flexible.

The other thing to remember is that part of the package is the ex-spouse/partner. If they are still in the picture, they will be a part of your life, good or bad. I am learning for most blended families, it’s an adjustment that takes time. And if you think the ex-partner will not affect your life in some fashion, that’s not true (at least not in my experience or most people I know). So, try and keep that relationship with the ex as positive as possible with open communication. When both parties cannot agree about what is best for their child, the law and lawyers get involved. Lemme tell you, this is not fun, but it IS expensive and often unfair. (I could write another blog post about this).

5) Do you like to DANCE?

The exchanges going back and forth with the two families, figuring out schedules and holidays and vacations— it’s not always easy, patience, sacrifice and compromise go a long way. Consider if you are ready for that juggle.  If you notice, Huck isn’t always able to be with us. We share him. So, when we want to do family activities, I coordinate around many factors. To be honest, it’s a really pain in the bum sometimes. I just wrote out a series of examples, then deleted it because this isn’t about my laundry list, it’s about YOU. 

6) Do you like being second fiddle? 

I am a stepmom and a mom. I don’t like the there is a distinction, but I can appreciate it. The only part of our family that technically makes us “blended” is Huck. And Huck already has a mother. I will never take that place in his life, but I can be a “bonus mom,” another parental figure in his life. And occasionally, my husband’s focus is on handling situations with his first son and ex-wife.

7) Can you rule without an iron fist?

With my son and stepson at the happiest place on Earth. We coordinate family weekends based on our time with Huck.

With my son and stepson at the happiest place on Earth. We coordinate family weekends based on our time with Huck.

Someone once told me that rules without relationship cause rebellion. In my situation, I met Huck when he was 2. His father did the majority of disciplining. Over time, we developed our own relationship. One that is familial and maternal and rewarding. Now, we have rules and structure, but I had to earn that over time.

If you or someone you love is considering making life decisions that involve children, these are points to consider from my personal experience. (Not sure how this turned into a PSA! ha!) They are basic concepts, just a sounding board to get a conversation flowing. Because you’ll be doing a LOT OF COMMUNICATING. 

It’s almost impossible to comprehend all of this when you are dating, but if you’ve met someone and started falling for them (and the child), it can be your fairytale. You’ll have the opportunity to love and affect another little human positively. I promise the little munchkin (or big munchkin) will be a blessing in your life and just might make YOU a better person. But the greatest thing to remember is there is no “right way,” there is only the right way for you. Be smart, listen to your gut instincts, follow your heart and remember the power of FORGIVENESS.

I’ve appreciated reading your notes about being from blended families. What I treasure most are hearing your thoughts about being a stepmother yourselves, or remembering moments from your own step parents. I wanted to open that discussion up here, too. I LOVE LEARNING FROM YOU.. So, feel free to share your beautiful blended stories. 

xoxo

AAJ

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Anyone out there feel this way? Fertility in 40s.

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Anyone that frequents this blog knows we are trying to have another baby. Sometimes I say “discussing” it or “considering expanding the family” in posts and such. I think I do that to take the pressure off of us, make it seem like we are okay no matter what happens- baby or no baby. 

And, of course, we are. Hayden and Huck are amazing blessings straight from God. When I walked into Hayden’s room this morning (bright and early cause he needed to go potty) he said, “I’m so excited to see you, Mommy. I had a good sleep.” I mean, just so precious. And Huck never forgets to say, “I love you,” when he leaves to go to his Mom’s house. We have the family I prayed for long ago.

I haven’t talked about this openly much, if at all really. There’s still a strong feeling we are not done. We have been trying. There were a few months I felt for sure I was pregnant. It must have been psychosomatic feelings. Anyone that has gone through this process knows the disappointment every month when you see a negative on the pregnancy test, or your cycle comes. 

I know it can take time. It just happened quickly with Hayden. I also was pregnant with four of my closest friends. This time it feels different for us. I shouldn’t speak for Joel, but I feel more alone going through this process at my age now. 

However, from what I’m reading, I am not at all alone. According to a recent study, the only female age group that saw an increased birth rate was for women 40-44! The percentage of millennial women having children is at an all-time low! The surge is mostly women my age, so I’m wondering how many of you out there are in the same boat? There’s got to be some!

I don’t want to dwell too much on anything negative, but it is a very depleting, anxiety inducing, crazy making process at times. It’s hard not get down on ourselves. We’re suppose to relax and let stuff go, yet my instinct is to be proactive. 

So, I am trying to be as proactive as possible. Cutting way down on the following: caffeine, sugar, wine, processed food and Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m not being crazy about that list, but trying very hard. No hot yoga (ugh, I love it, but I can do every other kind of yoga). I started seeing an acupuncturist that gave me the most disgusting herbs I’ve ever tasted to drink everyday. (She suggested three times a day). I’ve only seen her a few times, so I’m thinking I should increase the frequency. Thoughts?

I never froze my eggs. I haven’t tried any fertility methods. I’m absolutely supportive of all of that, I just haven’t done it….yet.

I’m seeing my doctor (OBGYN) today. Gonna drive over the hill in the pouring rain later. 

I would much rather write all this as post-journal success story. I’ve been waiting for that. But, that’s not our journey right now. I believe it will be. We don’t seem to talk about this stuff much. I understand why, but I wish we did discuss it more. So that’s why I’m writing this stuff here. This is a personal blog about lifestyle, fun, food, family, style (sometimes!) and it makes sense to find out if there are more of you out there feeling the same way I do? What steps are you taking? My hope is to make us feel more connected and less alone. If you have success stories- please share! 

Christmas Card Fail?

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It’s almost Christmas card season. How does time creep up on us! I never sent out photo Christmas cards (except for one of Scottie, my sweet doggie that passed a few years back) until I was married with my own kids. So far, we’ve had a few years to do this and EVERY YEAR December 1st hits and we haven’t started a thing. I’m also dealing with a little extra issue here: we don’t have Huck all the time or every weekend. Part of blended family life. So, we need to try and schedule the family shot around his schedule.

Needless to say, I thought it’d be great to try and set the timer on the camera, all jump on our unmade bed (cause we got a new headboard from World Market, so I thought it might make a decent, clean back drop!) and get some quick shots last weekend. But, best laid plans of mice and men… well, you know.

Hard to get all the kids to cooperate at once. So, we have some memories of the day, but not sure it makes for a pleasant card. Funny, maybe. At least I’m thinking ahead and starting early!!

Have you thought about your cards yet? Do you plan on sending any? Do you use candids throughout the year, or try to take an actual family group photo? Or have a theme? Sorry for the barrage of questions! lol

For those of you asking on my stories, I’m adding info on my dress and some other info below.

  1. Fall floral dress with see-through overlay 2. booties 3. Looney Tunes sweatshirt (similar to Huck’s) 4. RL polo (similar to Hayden’s) 4. Exact Headboard (loving it)

Also like the idea of the white booties with buckles showed in the picture. You just may see me wearing these very soon;) Love how the booties makes a vintage-type look feel so modern.

Off to finish some work. I’m viewing the Lifetime movie we just completed tonight. Eeeep!

Also, thanks to everyone that commented about my auditions last week. I will take ALL the good vibes. Hope all of you are having a great week….

it is feeling like fall here!

ps- adding a few other funnies below.

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Homesick. Bear with me here....

Fall 2017. Did that year go by fast?

Fall 2017. Did that year go by fast?

SATURDAY 22ND 6PM:

I miss Hayden. I chose to take this film far away, so it feels wrong to now complain. I enjoy getting to work and am grateful. Perhaps complaining is not the right word.

Joel and I can talk all the time… communicate as often as we want (until recently, but that’s due to weather, see below). Huck has two homes. We don’t see him all the time; that’s our reality right now as a blended family. But, Hayden is just a toddler. We spend an incredible amount of time together. This time apart is out of the ordinary for us.

Question for parents: how old were your kids the first time you left them for an extended amount of time?

The days are long, but the years are short. A year ago this month, @Ographr took this shot.

The days are long, but the years are short. A year ago this month, @Ographr took this shot.

I think if I’m honest with myself, it feels like I’m missing out on these days with him; I feel guilty. Did I make the wrong choice? Every time I find myself missing him, it translates to guilt in the pit of my stomach. Serious separation anxiety. Hayden IS with my parents and sister. That part is the good news. He is bonding with them and literally having a blast: walking in the rain (fully clad with the cutest frog rain gear you’ve ever seen-see below), searching for lizards, playing with Betty the Bunny. My family is keeping him stimulated and smothered with love! But, I am up here in Canada far away from him. Hearing him say “Hold you, Mama…hold you” through the phone breaks my heart. For months he’s heard me say, “Want me to hold you?” Hence the “Hold you, mama.” 

I was kind of doing ok emotionally until today. Last night, a tornado hit Ottawa. Our production is right in the middle of it. I was downstairs near the hotel lobby waiting for one my producers and wardrobe for an intense, long fitting where we would decide on outfits for each remaining scene for my character Connie. There were other visitors in the lobby around the same time. In a chorus type melody, each phone began to sing the chime of a weather alert. One after another updating each of us of the danger heading our way. The news had a headline saying: TAKE COVER. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. A TORNADO IS YOUR NEAR VICINITY. What??? The other locals and desk clerks laughed. They said authorities loves to alarm citizens about tornados, but nothing ever happens. 

About five minutes later, through the large glass entry way doors, we saw the tree across the street leaning so far over on its side, it looked like a cartoon. The street lights flickered, then went out. Inside our hotel, the same thing happened. Zap! Darkness. It seemed surreal for a second. I thought to myself… oh geez, we’ll have to wait for a few minutes before the power returns. Well, that was over 24 hours ago.

While we are all safe, we have been without electricity. No one knows how long till it resumes. It’s mayhem here. Few stores or restaurants are open. The ones that are up and running are packed with lines out the door. Once I was able to charge my phone, cell service has been so spotty (and forget trying to get wifi), it’s been very hard to communicate with my husband and family. Currently, I am in a different section of the city writing this, charging my phone and hoping to get some food. Unfortunately, nothing is available near my hotel and since the refrigerator is out…you get the picture. Some of the headlines on the news say this area looks like a WAR ZONE. It’s sad. I feel for these people that are having to rebuild their lives and homes. And my understanding is that many are injured. The school where we’ve been shooting this film caught on fire and has extensive damage. 

No one has died, at least no reports I’ve heard. I thank God for that. And our production crew is safe and sound. So, all in all…. there is nothing more to say. 

Except, I always have one more thing to say, so… I guess it feels as though things can happen anywhere at anytime. My phone isn’t working- I can’t get the videos my parents are sending of Hayden. I know it sounds silly in the grand scheme of things. It’s only been 24 hours. People and families go through real troubles everyday.

I was scheduled to have five days off starting today. My plan was to be on a plane to Texas to see Hayden. And Joel was looking into meeting us there briefly until he was back in LA with Huck. But, alas, this force majeure has altered schedules and I am now shooting during part of that time. 

Hug your loved ones extra tight tonight. 

UPDATE SUNDAY 23rd 11AM:

Power is back on!! Wifi is still spotty, but I can find certain spots now to FaceTime with Joel and Hayden. I got a flutter of photos and videos from Joel (he is visiting his 89 year old grandmother!) and my family. 

The schedule had to be altered for production, but they’re on top of that figuring out new locations, a new school, what needs to be reshot… a lot of juggling. 

Thanks for letting me vent. I’ve received a few DMs or comments from people responding to instastories/posts about being away from Hayden. Your encouraging words help! I especially appreciate personal stories of your own experiences. Working mom stories, travels, etc. I

SECOND UPDATE: Omgoodness!!!! As I was finishing the update above, the fire alarm in this building went off! We were all evacuated temporarily. Kinda crazy. All was taken care of and we are back in our rooms, but wow. (see instagram stories)

SO…. I repeat. Hug your loved ones. Call your loved ones. And also—- I appreciate you all for reading this far! Much much love.

xo

AAJ

My last update..! I saw notes on instagram asking where to get this frog rain gear from the instastory….so, I said I’d add it to the blog post. He is 2 years and 5 months and the 2T fits perfectly. Size 7 shoe.

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frog umbrella











Could I love anything more?

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I was recently at an event where I was asked by several other mamas if Joel and I are considering having another baby. It's a common question, I know. I get asked it a lot. It's such a cliche, but I can't imagine loving another child as much as I love Hayden and Huck. I loved the time with Huck (and loved him) so much before Hayden was even here.... now that I have these two, I can't fathom another little baby! So, I'm interrupting the wellness posts (and looming other posts on work) to ask y'all about this cause it's just on my mind.

Before having Hayden, I used to think it was so silly for parents to say they couldn't comprehend loving another child as much as they loved their current ones. Well, my mind couldn't comprehend something that sounded so ridiculous. You just do, I thought to myself. My parents had three kids. My best friend has four kids. All kids are loved immensely. 

But, I get it now. It's not that you think you wouldn't love them as much, it's more about spreading your attention. This time with Hayden alone is so special, I want to love him and teach him as much as I can. Hayden is the only child often. Huck is in school and with his mom when he is not with us. But we do everything in our power to make the most of every minute with Huck. 

I do believe the concern of spreading yourself too thin is legitimate. Do you? I don't work outside of the home everyday, so that's a plus. Who knows if it's in the cards for us to ever expand the family, but I'm hoping you will share your thoughts if you have more than one child...or a blended family. My guess is that most of you will say things evolve organically, the way God intended. 

photos by  @ographr

photos by @ographr

*Jumper is on sale for $47. CUTEST cut out back. (I'm wearing a strapless bra). Really a great buy. I plan on adding a sweater (when it finally cools down here) and boots for a transitional look. 

On a different note, I plan on sharing more about the StarFish Project soon. Their mission "restores hope to exploited women in Asia." They provide life-changing opportunities through  Holistic Care Programs and social enterprise where women create beautiful jewelry and become managers, accountants, graphic designers, and photographers.

I am happy to support companies that are in the business of helping women and giving back to their community. I'm wearing these delicate dangle earrings here. FYI: the packaging is so sweet, with a note from the woman that made them. 

xoxo

AAJ