Yesterday I hosted my first family holiday dinner, excluding Chinese New Years. We started the CNY dinner a few years ago, so it is a relatively new tradition for our extended family. Easter. Thanksgiving. Christmas – those are the holidays my grandparents, parents and Aunt & Uncle host. They are the holidays seeped in tradition and memories. I love holidays and traditions. They provide perspective and a strong sense of belonging. Roots run deeper than the memories. I am sure there are things I do every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter that I don’t even realize were passed down to me from several generations back. I love that. I want that for my kids.

So, I hosted this year. I forgot basically everything I was supposed to have….like lemons for the tea and salt & pepper for each table. I was putting butter plates out at the last minute and forgot all the plates of pickles. None of it really mattered, but it is funny how much I take for granted until I am the one doing it. I’m claiming Easter next year (hear that family)…and I’m going to have some cute salt & pepper shakers on each table.

Over the last year I’ve looked back at photos from family holidays. I realized I take a lot of day to day life pictures, but not that many when my whole family is together. This Easter I wanted to capture the little details that make my heart smile – things I want to remember about what Easter dinner was like in 2015.

I decorated with doilies and hydrangeas. Both remind me of my grandma. My oldest daughter actually picked out the flowers. She called them “Marrying flowers” because brides carry them when they walk down the aisle. I think of grandma’s hydrangea bush. I want to remember both.4.15Easter-1I want to remember how he read up until the final moment when the first family member walked in the door and the minute the last person left, he had his book back out.4.15Easter-2I want to remember how she found a spot on the counter because all the kitchen chairs were moved to another room and the dog would try to eat her food if she sat on the floor.4.15Easter-3…the way they snuck a bite of their Great Grandma’s cranberry salad when they thought no one was watching and how Chris still uses that old mug I made him in college….4.15Easter-5….how she is just like her momma and can get away with anything when she flashes that irresistible grin…4.15Easter-6…..how my mom tried to make bunny shaped rolls like she saw on Pinterest, but it didn’t work so well….4.15Easter-8….the way she drank massive amounts of water because she had no interest in anything we were eating…4.15Easter-9….the girls sitting cutely waiting for dinner to begin….4.15Easter-10…the boys acting like vultures while their Pappy carved the ham….4.15Easter-11….my family. Chris’ family. All gathered together (except those living out of town)…4.15Easter-12…little girls running into my garden to hunt eggs filled with coins, just like my sister and I ran through our grandparent’s yard hunting for eggs filled with coins…4.15Easter-13…my girls in dresses and tennis shoes because the ground was wet….4.15Easter-14…my nieces and the delicate ways they have stolen my heart….4.15Easter-16….my boy, who always has at least one shoe untied. Always…..4.15Easter-18…my 9 year old, who didn’t want to carry a bucket because his eggs would fall out and his older brother, who probably should have done the same…4.15Easter-19…my sister capturing the girls with an iPhone. One day this will be so fun to look back on, one day iPhones like this will be obsolete…4.15Easter-21…the girls. There was a time that I had 3 boys and a brand new baby girl. It made me so sad to think that my kids would not get to grow up close in age to my sister’s kids. Thankfully, I can’t see the big picture. Four girls – each a year apart. I didn’t know it would be this good…4.15Easter-224.15Easter-23…an empty room at the end of the day. The overwhelming sense of gratitude for family and belonging despite all of our rough edges. The gift of knowing there is always room at the table for me, no matter how bad my mood is or what dumb thing I’ve done. We came together to celebrate an empty tomb and a risen Savior. I’m so thankful there is room at His table for me too.4.15Easter-24

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  • Susie - Happy Easter, Ashley!

    That was just written so beautifully that I had to comment! So lovely that you share these intimate moments online! Enjoyed and loved it!

    Doesn’t even matter that I’m Jewish and living in Israel. Your prose and photos just speak to me! Each and every post! Thank you!

  • Emily | Gather & Dine - You teach me so much about appreciating the little things and savoring the present moments. Thank you for a glimpse into your family’s Easter!

  • Paige E - Love these! And didn’t the sun cooperate for pictures outside! I didn’t take any yesterday. I hope I can get past my lack of a good camera, my dark season of life sorting through loss and broken dreams and remember even when my heart feels hard as a brick, my Savior has room at his table for me. Thanks for sharing your precious family.

  • Michelle @ life to table - Such a beautiful post. I loved reading all the details and why those pictures mean so much to you. Your family is beautiful and blessed. Happy Easter!

  • Holly - Ashley-What a beautiful post! I read your blog every day, and can’t tell you how much I enjoy it. I love the pictures of your kids and house and more importantly, the meaningful messages you post about life and ways to honor Him. I appreciate how open and honest you are about everything and you inspire me to be a better mom. Thanks for sharing your beautiful life with readers.

  • Jenny B. - Beautiful, Ashley! I love the picture of the girls together and your comment about not knowing it would be this good. :)

  • Krystina - I hosted my first Easter this year myself. I forgot to pick up my camera because I was so preoccupied getting everything together and making sure everyone was comfortable, I regret that now. That’s my goal for next year. I’m just happy this year I fit 2 folding tables worth of people in my little apartment and didn’t burn the ham!

  • Jess - Ashley, I just loved the tidbits you shared about each child. So special. As a mom of two girls, the girl cousins pic really made me smile.

  • Heather - This was so beautifully written, it brought tears to my eyes. This post inspires me in so many ways, one, to record text with photos…somehow. I’ll have to figure that out. I’m always inspired by you but hardly ever comment, had to this time :)

  • Laura in Sacto - Beautiful photos!

  • Tanya - Awesome! Happy Easter!

  • Jamie - Your comment about the iphone pic is so true! I LOVE LOVE LOVE looking at old pics and seeing old packaging of things, how huge our old TV console was as a kid, seeing the phone hang on the wall with a round dial and long curly cord, all those kinds of things. My kids think the old house phone is hysterical. I made a point to take a pic of each of my newborns at the hospital on my bed with a package of Pampers in the background solely for the packaging memory! I thoroughly enjoy all of those old pop culture type of things. Fun memories!

  • Marie - Beautifully written! I’m thankful for my seat at His table as well! Happy Easter! ????& I also just want to say thank you for hosting your camera classes! I learned so much last spring & it made my heart so happy being able to take sweet Easter pictures of my son & love the way they turned out!

  • Diana - Love this! And love the idea of doing things the same way as our ancestors, whether we know it or not!

  • Anne - What a beautiful post Ashley! I just had to comment. I love how you appreciate the little things and capture your family so perfectly. Thanks for writing and letting us get a glimpse into your life. You inspire me.
    Happy Easter!

  • Julie - Beautiful post, and my favorite part was the part about your savior. Made me sigh a happy sigh.

  • Lori - What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing, so creatively, your heart. It blesses me. (And I’m grateful for a spot at His table, too. :-> )

  • amber - Goodness I love this. Thank you for sharing your sweet family. Happy Easter:)!

  • ellen patton - Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy Cornwell - This makes me tear up. So many wonderful things to remember and cherish. Thank you for the reminder to do this myself. <3

  • Sarah - This is so beautiful Ashley. You always put it just right and then your photos blow me away to top it off. Thanks for sharing…

  • Rach - I cried. Because these are the sort of everyday moments full of courage and bravery and heart that need to be celebrated.

  • Jenny - Great post! I love all the pictures! You will definitely cherish every single one of these. I am now without grandparents and wish I had taken so many more pictures at all our get togethers.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Happy Happy Easter! Beautiful!

  • Laura - Goodness, this is just so good. Exactly how I feel about belonging in a famiily and making your own mark in the traditions and memories of those you love. Thank you for your perfect way of bringing me back to the important parts to focus on.

  • Mandy - That was beautiful girl! I miss those Easter egg hunts at your grandparents house! Ah, those were so much fun!
    We had a big hunt in our yard and though we didn’t have money inside (though I told everyone how that’s how you guys always did it and how it was so great! :)) We now have chocolate bars that the adults have to find AFTER they find their certain number of eggs. Super fun!
    Miss you friend! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  • Friday I’m in Love | The Gilbertson Family - […] favorite bloggers is Ashley Ann (I know I’ve mentioned this before) and I really loved this post this week. It captures the small things that could easily have been overlooked on a busy Easter […]

  • Alicia - Ashley- this is gorgeous. You give me such HOPE as to what family can be. Thank you. I cried! I don’t even know you & I CRIED!!! Just simply beautiful!

  • Jeanette - Thank you for this. Family is beautiful and messy and it’s so good when we can come and be together because/despite all of it. I’m so glad He always has room at the table for me. I needed to read that.

Today I am combining my monthly sponsor highlight post with a few other reminders and announcements. I am thankful for the chance to get to work with really wonderful business owners and businesses!

I’ll start with introducing old and new sponsors:

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And now a few reminders & updates:

4.15Artifactwinner

 Heather M. was the winner of the Artifact Uprising giveaway. (She has already been contacted)

4.15JossMy collection on Joss & Main continues through this week. Click here to visit the collection.

(Once on the homepage, you will need to scroll down a bit. You should see a small graphic with “Under the Sycamore” on it)

4.15SnapShopDSLR-14.15SnapShopPhone-1Registration for both of my online photography courses (SnapShops for phone & DSLR) is open. Both courses are my approach to capturing my days with my phone & DSLR. Both courses go over composition and storytelling. The phone course covers tips, tricks and apps related to phone photography. The DSLR course is for the beginner wanting to better understand how to use a camera – going from Auto to Manual. Click here for more information on each course.

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  • Misha - Ashley – I am wanting to mention you in a story I am putting up on my blog tomorrow. I’ve looked around for an email to contact you and can’t find it. Would there be a way I can email you what I’m written ahead of time to make sure it’s okay with you? Thank you in advance!

  • Laura - Hi Ashley!

    This perhaps is a very odd request, but i will do it anyway!

    I love your blog, i’m a follower for years now and I am always mesmerized in all the things you do. And here it goes my question, how do you find time for all that you do? I am a mum of only one (7 years old) and working from mon to fry, i usually get out of my home at 7:30am and get back at 7:30-8 pm… I feel so overwhelmed with life!, work, child, home and i read your blog and always ask to myself, how does she do it???

    You might think I am crazy! but sometimes i think to myself, how would ashley deal with my life…?

    Please if you ever have the will of doing it I would love to read a post on how you organize your time!

    Hugs,
    Laura

  • Mara Schack - Wondering if you have any more openings for your dslr class. I had it in my head that registration went until today and it started on the 16. Whoops. :( Would love to learn from you!!!! I admire your pictures and anxious to get better.

    Ps- We just brought home a 5 1/2 yr old from the Philippines. He has a cleft lip and palate as well. Have loved learning more about your journey with your daughter. :)

    Thanks for your time,
    Mara
    Waitingstitches.blogspot.com

The oldest I could have been was eight.

I remember a saw, “blood”, my mom panicking and my dad laughing.

I don’t remember being scared at all. I’m pretty sure I must have known it was a joke, maybe dad included me in on it. I don’t remember that part.

I do remember the joke. Dad scared mom into thinking he hurt himself with the saw out in the front yard.

I’m no longer eight, but I have an eight year old. And an 11 year old. And a 7 year old. Boys. Boys that like to work together. Boys that have discovered April’s Fools Day.

4.1.15-1Despite the acting skills of the 8 year old, his older brother’s smile gave it away. This year their attempt was good, but their execution needs a bit of work. I have a feeling next year they will up their game and I’ll be in trouble. I fear for the coming years. I’m thinking some ‘rules’ might be needed…or I am going to have to up my game. I’ll talk to my dad. He can help me out.

What are some of your favorite practical jokes? I need to start filling my arsenal of options!

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  • Southern Gal - I would have had a heart attack. We’ve never pulled pranks in my family, so yes, they would have gotten me.

  • Tracy R. - Very creative! I would have freaked out! I get a big kick out of the story my oldest daughter tells of a prank she did at a friends house to her friends younger brothers. She and her girlfriend scrapped the icing out of oreo cookies and refilled them with mayo! Put them on a serving plate and stood back and watched as the boys “enjoyed” their oreos!

  • TheDenverPack - The last time I tried any April Fool’s jokes on my kids, they were 4 and 6 years old. I got the idea from a family magazine and thought it would be hilarious. I waited until they were both fast asleep and then switched them to the other’s bed. Both woke up confused and did not find it the least bit funny. I had 2 very grumpy kids on my hands that morning.

  • AmandaK - My husband sometimes buys the boys a treat after school and has it on the table for them. Yesterday, he put a few Oreos on a paper plate for them, but had replaced a few of the cookies filling with toothpaste. Both were fooled.
    What makes it even more funny, after the joke, my oldest did the same to a few of the cookies in the package my husband had put away.
    When hubs came in from working later, he helped himself to a few cookies and put the whole cookie in his mouth and had chewed it up before he discovered he had been pranked as well.
    Was a great laugh yesterday!

  • Lee - Up your game Sister! Be ready, be first!

  • Jenny B. - Oh my! For a second, I forgot that yesterday was April Fools Day, and had just started to freak out a bit when I glanced at the picture! Whew! They almost got me too. :)

    I love April Fools Day because that’s the day my husband asked me to marry him. He had a plastic gumball machine ring and everything. Except he wasn’t actually joking. It was great. :)

  • Michelle - Tracy R. that is gold! I wish I read this yesterday, I totally would have used that prank on my hubby đŸ˜‰

    the look of older son’s face in this pic is priceless. He is having the most genuine, belly laughing fit…is there anything better than that?! love it :)

  • MELISSA u - Here is a simple joke that had us all laughing! I found it on Pinterest so it’s not my original idea. The kids and I painted a bar of soap with clear fingernail polish (I put 2 coats on) and replaced the bar of soap dad uses in the shower. He didn’t say anything until that evening. He said “did you use the soap in the shower?” The kids and I played “dumb” and asked why. He said “I couldn’t get it to suds up, I smelled it and it smelled fine, and I even scratched it and it still wouldn’t suds up. Something is wrong with that bar.”

    Needless to say this had us cracking up. He was clueless.

  • Autumn - We put a for sale sign on my neighbor’s vintage Chevy truck yesterday :) they are in the process of moving so he had to park it on the street for a few days. we had a great laugh!

  • Erin - I learned a new one this year. You text your friend (who has an iPhone) “hey did you know that if, while texting, you press and hold the little camera button and the slide your finger up to the pop up camera button, a whole bunch of new emojis will pop up?”

    really it just takes a picture of them and immediately sends to you as a text. i’ve gotten a huge kick out of doing that to my friends this year :)

  • Tammy Henderson - They were really thinking here! We do lots of tricks on April fools, but I think our favorite this year was the confetti we put on the blades of hubby’s office ceiling fan. That was fun to watch. We do have one rule in our house and that is whatever mess your prank makes, you clean it up–thus we’ve never had a saran wrapped toilet.

  • Amanda K - My mom made cupcakes for us to take to school every April 1. She put those wheel macaroni in the middle of them, so as the kids were eating them they got their trick.

    My friend’s dad put a pack of koolaid in the shower head so when she turned it on she got all colored. She wasn’t happy about that one. I thought it was funny, but it didn’t happen to me.

  • EricaB - My mom was the best prankster. One time, she switched my brother’s cereal out with dog food. Another time, she made “chocolates,” complete with cotton ball insides. This year, (she’s a nurse) she attached a small fishing weight to the side of the scale in her office. She has a zest for life.

    Happy Good Friday everyone. May you remember you are dearly loved today!

  • Tracy R. - I am laughing so hard and taking notes for next year! There are some great ideas! So glad you asked this question!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - Oh man that was a terrible joke!!!! Haha. Glad they didn’t get you so easily because that would really be a rough one!

  • Juli - I thought about posting an old ultrasound photo of one of my children as my Facebook profile but decided against it. We have 5 kids so I’d get a great laugh out of it but I am from a small town (which I no longer live near) and it’d spread like wildfire before I could clarify that it was an April Fools joke. I let my Mom in on my plans and she got very upset and asked how I could do that to her so I didn’t. :( I thought it’d be hilarious!

  • Kelly - My girlfriend cut up a bunch of brown paper in the shape of letter “e”‘s and put them in a tin. She then told her kids that there were “brownies” in the kitchen for them. One kid thought it was hilarious. The other not so much as he really wanted brownies not brown “e”s!

  • Brittany Maxwell - My grandma did this to someone… Brilliant! Carmel covered onions… Similar shape as an apple, and when the unsuspecting person bites in- yuck! ????