Thursday, August 26, 2010

Freaky Birds

Some people know my weird fear of birds. I don't like anything about them. I don't like the sound their wings make when flying or the unpredictability of their actions (at any moment they could swoop down and peck your eyes out or poop on you). In open skies, I'm not as freaked out, but in enclosed spaces like inside a big warehouse type store or a bird show, I am not a fan. Chuck always tells me that I can not push my fears onto my children, so I agree to go to things like I'm about to tell you.

We read in the paper about a Purple Martin Roost in downtown Richmond.

In August, a flock of purple martin birds gather in a small group of trees in downtown Richmond before migrating to Brazil for the winter. They were first noticed a few years ago and now the number of birds keeps rising. The reported number of birds ranged from 4,000 to 16,000 each night. It was unbelievable! It's one of these events you have to see with your own eyes to believe. What's crazy is that they have chosen a row of about 8-10 trees in downtown close to the interstate to gather. Why in the world are these trees so attractive to these birds?

The birds gather every single night at dusk (around 8:00 p.m.) for about a month. First, they gather in the sky, circling around, until groups of a few hundred dive/swoop down into the trees. This continues until all the birds are in the trees for the night. Apparently, one night some hawks attacked the purple martins. That would have been awesome nature in progress to witness (and a few less birds in the world).

On that evening, bird experts said there were about 14,000 birds. This gathering in the sky and diving into the trees lasted about 30 minutes. The under 2 min video below shows some of the action. Be sure to watch it until the end to see how loud the birds are in the trees.

It was insane! One of the craziest phenomenons I have ever witnessed. I've had friends have a similar thing happen on a smaller scale in their neighborhood. Check out here and here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Law School Friends

A few weekends ago the Rufener's, some friends from law school, came down from DC for the weekend. Abbie is a photographer and came down to shoot a wedding. It was nice to have them at our home and take them around Richmond a bit. See, I knew the "see you soon" works, but for all of you that moved west, when are you visiting VA?

We went to Maymont. It was HOT! I love Ella's look on her face staring up at Leland. The girls all played well together. It was fun to see Ella grown up. She was under 1 when we lived by each other last.On Saturday, both Abbie and Chuck worked for most of the day. I took Scott and the girls to feed the ducks, then down to the walkway out onto the James River. We also did a quick tour of the Civil War Center at Tredegar National Park. That evening we went to delicious Bottoms Up Pizza and walked around Main Street Station waiting for the attack of the birds at 17th Street Market (more on that later).I love Main Street Station. Even before we moved to Richmond I have loved this building. Every time we drive by Leland will yell, "There's mommy's favorite station!"
Be sure to check out a museum for free on Museum Day, Saturday, Sept 25th. Find a participating museum here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dance Party

Since the girls and I were in NC after my trip, we spent a day with the McBrides' before heading home. The girls LOVE being at their house with all the dress ups and dance parties.Lucy said "Look Mom,I'm a mean princess!" then she growls. Her sense of humor cracks me up.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Fun

While I was having fun on the West Coast, Leland and Lucy stayed with my mom and Charly stayed with Suzanne. I am so grateful for their willingness to watch our girls, so that I could enjoy my time with my girlfriends. It allowed me to enjoy my time much more because I knew the girls were having so much fun.

Suzanne said that Sarah and Charly had fun chasing each other around the house laughing and giggling. I took Suz's camera to Seattle, so I don't think she has any pictures.

My mom had a packed schedule for Leland and Lucy.
  • Playing at her school
  • Fashion show and Kid Fest at Belk department store
  • Swimming
  • Walking around the Marina
  • Promised Land reunion where they got to watch the entire show
I love that Leland has friends that she loves to see when at my mom's house. She adores Hannah and Emily. They are about the same age as Leland and Lucy. Emily is blind and Leland just fell in love with her during her week at my mom's at the beginning of the summer. Leland even learned how to write her name in Braille.
The girls got to each pick out a new outfit that they would then model in the fashion show. Lucy's facial expressions are hilarious. Apparently, Leland and Lucy also sang impromptu solos.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these pictures. (Disregard the fact that Lucy is in her nightgown and Leland's shirt is on backwards.)
Thank you again Mom and Suz for making sure my girls were taken care of while I was away.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


On my way home from Seattle, I took a detour to Orange County for a day. I was flying standby and was having a hard time getting a good shot of going from Seattle to the East Coast on Saturday. Luckily, I had lots of other options: Spokane, Denver, Salt Lake, Columbus... Orange County was the best option to get in and out of. At first, I was a little sad about not getting home to my family, but then I was excited about my detour plan.

My first flight was totally how Amy describes flying standby. I was standing next to the customer service counter as Agent #1 is calling names off the standby list. She said to Agent #2, "Okay, I gave you John, Beth, Ashley, and Andrea." Then Agent #2 says, "Okay, we're done," and starts to walk towards the doors. I yell "Wait. No! I'm Ashley. You never called my name!" Agent #1 yells "Oh, sorry. Go! Go! Go!" So I run to the door, Agent #2 quickly takes my passes and shuts the doors behind me. Whew! That was a close one.

Tiffany was so great about being called at 10 p.m. on Friday night and being willing to pick me up from the airport the next morning. I was exhausted from all my late nights in Seattle and the west coast time change, so we just relaxed at her house. I loved playing with Brooklyn and just chillin' with Tiff.I decided to surprise Char, because she is just a FUN person to surprise. Her reaction exceeded my expectations. After failed attempts of getting her to come over to Tiff's house, I drove over to her house. They didn't answer any of their phones when I called from outside. As I knocked on the door, I could see Brighton in just a t-shirt playing. The conversation went a little something like this:

Brighton: Mom, your friend is here.
Charise: Open the door.
B: I can't. I have on no pants.
C: Brighton, just open the door!
B: No! I have on no pants!

(They go back and forth for a while until the door slowly opens with Brighton hiding behind it. Char is standing at the top of the landing behind the half wall at the top of the stairs.)

C: (Just staring at me.) What? How? What are you doing here? Ashley, is that really you? (In the most high pitch voice.)
I started to go towards the stairs, then Char yells: "I have on no pants! I have on no pants!"

Seriously?! Does nobody wear pants around here.
Hilarious. Typical Char. I was laughing so hard I was crying.

It was so great to see the Johnson's and Conley's. We played Mystery of the Abbey. (I thought I was going to have a 2-0 record in that game, but I blew it.) One meal in CA and I chose Pei Wei. I know they are all over the country, but they were close by, so it won out over Rubio's.

I only got a few pictures, but I was so excited for the quick visit and was able to cuddle with my nieces and nephews a bit.

It was a fabulous surprise end to my trip. Thanks so much Amy for the tickets.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Girlfriends - Seattle

I was so excited to be able to go to Seattle for the wedding of my best friend from college, Kristen. All by myself, without any kids in tow. I had so much fun, but I was surprised by how much I missed the girls (and Chuck). I had forgotten how easy it is to fly without kids. I also read an entire 400-page book (The Outlander by Gil Adamson) during my 5-day vacation, which is a record for me. I loved the book.

Liz, Kristen, and I have been friends since our freshman year of college in 1997-1998. They are the people that I regularly keep in touch with that have known me for the longest period of my life, besides my family - 13 years. That's a long time. It makes me feel a little old. They were my "little ones" 13 years ago, leaving me gifts and notes, cheering me up when I was homesick, and creating lots of mischief and fun. We made memories going to dances, shooting guns at the cabin, trips to Vegas and the "big black hole" (Grand Canyon), dressing like Skittles, and pretty much not fitting in at BYU. After college, Kristen and I moved to Baltimore together just days after 9/11. We were roommates until Chuck and I got married. I have moved across the country, and back, since then and she stayed in Baltimore all that time and found Mike. Liz and her husband have been in Ohio since graduating college.

We decided that each year we would try to get together around our birthdays, which are within days of each other. We've done pretty well. We've spent July 4th in Ohio, celebrated the first birthday of Parker (the first child between all of us), Leland at one month old, a weekend at Deep Creek in 2008 and, most recently, Kristen's bridal shower. Other times, there was only 2 of the 3 of us - Chuck and I getting sealed, Leland's birth, the beach in Cali, camping, Parker's baptism, and lots more I can't remember.

Seattle was gorgeous. Sunny and warm. Crazy, right? Not exactly the weather you would expect for Seattle, but we were lucky to be there during the one sunny month of the year. I've been once before with Kristen during college. I'm so excited to go back with Chuck and the girls sometime. Luckily, Amy and her family will be moving there soon, so we can't wait to visit them.The wedding was gorgeous. Kristen was stunningly beautiful. Nothing less was expected. Liz and I just wanted to follow Kristen and Mike around all day while they took pictures. They were so fun to watch and are obviously so much in love. I was so grateful to be a part of such a special time in Kristen's life.

I love these girls and I'm so grateful to have them in my life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recent Family Pictures

These family photos are taken behind Chuck's office. This is the pond that is his view from his office window. The matching shirts are our Bodell family reunion t-shirts. We missed the reunion this year, but still took our family picture in them for Grandpa and Grandma. I know the big white chair is kind of ugly for pictures, but it was there and made it easy for the girls to each sit for a picture.

I removed people playing in the ocean in the picture above using PSE. I love the picture below of the girls and Chuck. I may take the time to remove all those people, too. Then it will seem like we were on our own private beach, not a crowded public beach.

Last picture: I was bored one night and played around on this website.

My Family from

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Soldier homecoming surprise mix

Many of you know that I am usually strongly opposed to forwarding the cutesy e-mail message of the moment or posting it on our blog.
Adam, Shana, and Eli Cumberworth
But I happened to stumble upon this video on a the Facebook page of a friend serving overseas. I am making this rare exception to my usual scrooge approach on behalf of my good friend Adam Cumberworth, who in May, left his 6-month pregnant wife and nearly 2 year-old son to begin basic training before becoming an Air Force JAG. Last week, Adam got a 48 hour leave to go back to Shana for the birth of Emery Kate, but after two days was headed back to the Air Force.

God bless the Cumberworths, and all the families like them, for their service to our country! We wish you an equally joyful reunion when you see Daddy again!