she requested it

My kids fight.

I loose my cool way too many times a day.

I have to apologize to them.

Sometimes I think I will lose my mind if I see one more Lego on the floor.

There are moments, some days too many of them, that I ponder just locking myself in my closet with a coffee and cookies.

Then there are the other moments.

The ones that I treasure.

The ones that I watch and can’t possibly believe how good I’ve got it.

She wanted her toes painted. She DIDN’T want me to do it. She wanted “her boys” to do it. One volunteered. This boy ~ I am going to have to really watch when he gets a bit older. He loves deeply. He is compassionate. He is bewildered by girls in a cute way. He has a crush on his teacher and takes her random gifts whenever he can. He is a big fan of his little sister and takes me seriously when I tell him to encourage her in all her girly ways…even when he thinks those girly things are weird.

I had to do touch up work with nail polish remover.

Whenever she looks at her toes, she reminds me who painted them.

She’s a funny little girl. Minutes after getting hot pink toes, she found her brother’s beanie and her lego tower. My girl. I cherish that celebrating her girliness and wanting to be just like her big brothers coexists for her. I am super proactive with the boys that they celebrate her differences too. So far, we are doing good most days.

I’m sure it wasn’t long after the precious toe painting moments that a fight broke out in the house. Someone probably started bleeding somewhere or a jedi kick accidentally took out another jedi. These pictures were taken on Saturday. Saturday was a really hard day around here. However, it seems like the most beautifully mundane moments are in the midst of the totally craziness.  In those moments, I am reminded how incredibly grateful I am to be exactly where I am…with these kids. I have today with them…..and I hope I have many more toe painting days in the future.

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  • Melissa - SO adorable…I so so so love how she calls them her boys. It’s awesome that she has 3 older brothers to look out for her and paint her nails….brings a smile to my heart, reading this post :)

  • Nichole Young - I LOVE Firecracker! That first picture is full of “story”….I can see it on a greeting card :)

  • Paige Y - Thank you for your post. Today has been a hard day and I feel horrible sometimes at my lack of patience and outbursts to two sweet girls who get unbelievably ornery occasionally. I love em! I ask for grace daily. :)

  • Tawnya Smith - Ashley Ann,
    You truly have a well of joy that runs deeper than whatever circumstance you’re going through. It can only be explained by the grace of God’s work and that is such an awesome testimony! This post articulates a very similary place of where I am – thanks for sharing and relating your heart!

  • Katy Durec - I love your honesty and transparency while still capturing the beautiful moments in a day. I have a 4 and 1 year old, and watch a 2 year old part-time. Today was one of those days where I went back and forth between spilling over with love for them and being super irritated, barking at my oldest because I was frustrated with the youngest, and then having to apologize. It is a reality that I wish we could all be more open about! Thanks for keeping it real. :) Love that special relationship between your daughter and “her boys”. :)

  • Lena - This is absolutely precious. My brother and I used to fight ALL the time and now that we’ve gotten older he’s one of my best friends. My mom [often] told us how blessed we were to have each other and all of a sudden, just one day..we realized she was absolutely right.

  • Kristin S - Print.
    Frame/tuck away.

    Sweet perspective, Ashley.

  • hannahm - you’re such a sweet momma, ashley. and thx for the reminder to treasure the mundane!

  • Shirley - :)

  • rachel - such cute photos! :) both my girls love to have their toenails painted. :)

    my two littles have starting fighting recently. mainly because the littlest one is old enough not to let big sissy boss her around anymore. some days i feel like all i do is say, “stop yelling at your sister!”, “be nice!”, “use kind words!” and on and on and on. us mamas have a hard job! :)

  • Trina - When my nieces came to live with us while their parents were deployed, we had many conversations about girls and all their “weirdness”. We don’t have girls so talk about a culture shock for our two boys! But after a week (at most), our boys became “big brothers”. All four became inseparable. Our boys went shopping (I hate shopping). The girls went ice fishing (I don’t understand the appeal of sitting on a big slab of ice in the dead of winter). They cheered each other on at their meets (football, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, baseball, you name it, they played it). When someone would bad-mouth or gossip about one of them…there were 3 others to deal with. When the girls would miss their mom & dad…our sons planned “in a funk parties” (chick flicks, chocolate, popcorn, munchies of all kinds) and all four would sit on the sectional and watch them. When the girls would cry…our sons would give them a hug and tell them they would be okay. When one of my boys had to have surgery…everyone took a different day off of school to sit at the hospital. And when one of the girls injured her ACL during gymnastics practice, it was our boys not the school, who called us to meet them at the hospital.

    It wasn’t always sweetness…they fought. The girls would scream or cry. The boys would shout and slam doors. Sometimes you have to let them work it out. It’s hard, my husband was constantly trying to referee. He doesn’t like conflict.
    I would tell him, “Let it Be, They’ll work it out.”

    When their parents returned and the girls went home, our boys walked around like they lost their best friends and in a way…they did. My brother didn’t understand why the girls would mope around or cry at the drop of a hat. I had to explain to him that for two years our kids were inseparable. Three years later, all of them are in college. They talk on the phone or Skype at least twice a week, and it’s never a superficial conversation. They are still helping each other with their homework. When the girls have a guy problem…they call one of the boys. When one of our boys are thoroughly confused by a girl, they call one of the girls.

    I love that your teaching your sons to honor their sister’s “weirdness”. Having only boys, the only “weird” one in the house is me (and I don’t count as a “giiirrrl”, I’m their mom!) so when the girls came to live with us, it was a perfect lesson on how to honor and respect each other in all our wonderful “weirdness”!

    Thanks for sharing your family (both good and bad) with us!

  • Stephanie Guice - Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Jessica P - She’s a lucky girl. You’ve got great kids!

  • Jenny B. - Oh, I am so with you on wanting to lock yourself in the closet with cookies. And having to apologize. Been there. Multiple times today. Firecracker looks so grown up in that last picture (the one with the beanie). And I love the one where she’s blowing on her freshly painted toes. :)

  • Mercedes - Dear Ashley… I lost my cool today… I am pregnant (hormonal and impatient and may I add suffering from sciatica) and raising a 2 year old. She didn’t want to eat all day, and during minor discussion with my husband at lunch I accidentally broke Elmo (her favorite pal) in front of her. She cried and I cried too feeling like the worse mama! I will get Elmo’s eyes and he will be fine… still, I totally hate loosing my cool… so thank you for sharing!

  • Steph - I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now but I’ve never commented. I absolutely love reading about your kids and how you always have a positive outlook on life. I have also loved reading about your adoption journey. It is such a testimony to your patience and faith in Gods timing. As silly as this sounds, I watched cupcake wars tonight and they were celebrating the Chinese new year and stopped to pray for your daughter in china. Anytime I see/hear anything about china, I immediately think of your family and how one of your children is waiting for you there. I can’t wait to see the story unfold! I’ll continue praying for her and you as you continue your journey.

  • Bárbara Isenberg Grzybowski - sooo cute!!

  • Bárbara Isenberg Grzybowski - sooo cute!!

  • Jaclyn Bishop - this is by far one of my favorites of your posts. so sweet.

  • Christina - I love getting your posts in my email in the mornings. It just makes my day and I savor every moment of the beautiful photography and dialog. I just have my one son, and that’s probably all I will have (it’s almost more than I can handle most days) but seeing all of the love between you and your children gives me pause to reconsider every post. I think to myself: Maybe we should try for a little girl, at least give my son a full-time sibling (he does have an older half-brother). I was a definitely no to more kids before reading your blog, but I have to say i’m at a maybe these days. :)

  • Julie B - My oldest boy paints my youngest girls fingers and toes. They love each other so much. Its the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen and he willingly does it every time she asks. Yay for great big brothers! I should point out that he doesn’t paint the older sisters and they are the ones that squabble, lol! And I hate stepping on Legos too, they are so painful!!!

  • tara pollard pakosta - I have 5 big brothers, so I can relate to how she wants to be like her brothers, yet still be a girl….thankfully I had a big sister, 10 months older than me too, so we could be GIRLY together, but still, I really really admire all of my 5 big brothers, they are my heroes!

  • *laura* - this is so sweet…love it and so well put! xoxo

  • Elizabeth - What words..”In those moments, I am reminded how incredibly grateful I am to be exactly where I am…with these kids. I have today with them…..and I hope I have many more..” I love this last statement! Thanks for touching my heart today!

  • Joy Andrews - So true…it can be easy to look over to other hills and grasses and think where we are is not where we should be, but God knows. He knew, before time began, he knew each of our mundane and spectacular moments and with whom we would share them with. being content and joyful is not overrated ;) thank you for your thoughts and great reminder today.

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