At this very moment, in our city, there are hundreds of children without a family, without a home. Not millions. Not thousands. But hundreds. These children are placed in a shelter simply because there are not enough right foster homes available for them. Some of these children are teenagers about to age out of the system. They will be thrown out into the world with little support, little direction and inadequate preparation for what is ahead. No family saying, “I am with you!”

This Sunday (Nov. 9th) 111Tulsa will be holding its first citywide RECRUITS event for all individuals that are interested in learning more about how to get involved in foster care in Tulsa County.  Program speakers, activities, breakouts, and expo participants will be catering their presentation and information to individuals that are new or wanting to get more involved with foster care and adoption.

Program speakers include adult adoptees, foster parents, adoptive parents, DHS staff and adults that grew up in foster care.

Vendors include foster care agencies, adoption agencies, related volunteer organizations, support for foster families, and counseling providers.


The event is free, but registration is requested. For more information visit the 111Tulsa website.

Sunday, November 9th 2014


1915 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK 74104


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  • Carrie Campbell - I don’t live in the Tulsa area, but that sounds AWESOME! What a great resource.

  • Shannon - I’m not able to go to this, but want more information on volunteering. I couldn’t find information on how to volunteer on the website. Where should I go to find out more?

  • Kim B. - What an important endeavor. My parents live in the next county over (I.e. more rural), and the need is just so great. I hope and pray that this initiative finds the volunteering souls it needs.

  • Catherine - This is so awesome! I would totally love to go if I lived near there. When we settle more permanently I will be looking for something similar wherever we end up.

  • Kelly - As Foster Adoptive mom of 7 children – 1 of whom I adopted 1 year ago when she was 16 years old – I must say this sounds so incredible? I love the line up of program speakers, what an amazing way to spur others into awareness and action. Way to go Tulsa!
    Thanks for being an advocate for foster adoption Ashley!

  • Jordyn Lovett - i am so glad you wrote about this! My mom is Trucia Howell, she works for DHS and is over all of adoptions and foster care in the state of Oklahoma. She will be there and would love to talk to anyone who has questions! The need for foster families is so prominent in Oklahoma and I hope this event is a great success!

  • Gazco Studio 1 - This is so amazing! I would completely love to go…

Recently, I wrote a guest post for Mpix with a few tips on taking your own family photos, click on the photo below to view the post.


A couple other things I would note regarding taking your own family photo are:

Use a tripod or something steady – Since you are taking the photo yourself, you will need somewhere to rest and stabilize your camera. A tripod comes in handy for this, but you can also use your MacGuyver skills to stack objects or form your own version of a tripod. Just be sure your camera is steady and level. If you have family members that will not look at the camera on their own, consider a flashing/musical toy or something similar propped on top of your camera to get their attention.

Use your timer and run! – Nearly every camera comes with a self timer. There are also options to purchase wireless remotes and even use your smartphone as a remote. A remote is much easier than a timer since it gives you the ability to take several shots quickly. I lost my remote and have not set up my iPhone as a remote, so the self timer works for me. After everyone is in place, leaving room for you to jump into the shot, engage the timers and run as fast as you can to jump into your spot.
For the post, I just needed a couple shots of our family. I wanted to keep the post as simple as possible – no new outfits, no big plan, just us. We haven’t taken family pictures in quite a while, so it was surprising how willing my kids were this round. I had no expectations other than a family shot with all of us in focus. The kids were in such willing moods and were asking for photos. Little One wanted some just with her daddy and the football.

11.14mpix-0111.14mpix-02This guy wanted one with just Chris and meI. He is seeming so old lately…11.14mpix-03Then he had a couple pose ideas he wanted with his dad. I never realized he got his arch eyebrow face from his dad.11.14mpix-04We moved to a second location. The older boys were patiently waiting on everyone to join them at the table while I was messing with my camera settings. Somehow my three little boys are all young men.11.14mpix-06When Little One is asked to smile for the camera, she squints and closes her eyes. She thinks it is so funny. I tell SnapShop students to celebrate things like that because one day it will probably change. I have to remind myself of my own words. Either one day she will stop closing her eyes for pictures and I’ll look back fondly at this time. OR it will be something she still does in the future and I’ll laugh when I look at pictures from this season knowing it is just what she’s always done. Either way – she closes her eyes and thinks she is hilarious. She kinda is.11.14mpix-0711.14mpix-08My youngest son was in a great mood. He would smile up until I snapped the picture – and then he would frown. He, too, thought he was hilarious. He is using all his effort to not laugh with his siblings. If you know him well, it is especially funny the effort he went to make sure and not smile for this picture. Kids are so much fun.11.14mpix-09I bet you’ll never guess which of my 5 kids loves being photographed.11.14mpix-1011.14mpix-1111.14mpix-1211.14mpix-13While she was standing on that table, she wanted to take a picture of Chris and I. I set up everything on the camera and then handed it to her. This is the first shot she got.11.14mpix-14

Then Chris helped her adjust her angle and she did a pretty great job (I cropped the photo).11.14mpix-15

The Mpix post is “How To Shoot A Family Holiday Card” – because hiring a professional photographer isn’t always an option. I provides a bit of help to those of you tackling a more posed shot of your family!

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  • danielle - These are great shots! My boys went through a lift one foot for pictures phase…

  • Angela - Little girls and their daddies. Little boys and their daddies. I love both! So precious!

  • Michelle Hill - Your family is stunning!
    Looking forward to the guest post link!

  • Kari - I’ve followed your blog since Firecracker first earned her name. Sorry I rarely comment but that picture with the two boys made my heart skip a beat. They look so grown up!

  • krista - love this! we did this just a few weeks ago… with 3 under 4! i’m so glad one of the family turned out and we got some with the baby. looking forward to reading your post!

  • Cassie - I’m so impressed with that last shot your girl took! I just bought my first DSLR this weekend and I’m so excited to learn how to use it! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I love how you post the settings for your photos sometimes. I love your tips and can’t wait to learn more! My goal is to capture real life in my future family (we don’t have kids yet), and I feel like your tips are so helpful in capturing real life instead of always staged photos. So thank you!

  • Kristin - Your family pics always make me smile & I always love how effortlessly natural and polished they look at the same time.

  • Christin - Love this!!! This is going on the list of thing to get done this month!

  • Jenna - Adorable pictures of everyone! I’m loving your outfit, particularly the shoes :)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love that last picture of you and Chris! You look amazing!

  • Alisa - You’re wearing fancy shoes!

  • Martha - My funny little oldest little one learned to wink at age 2 and every photograph for a year showed him with one eye squeezed shut. I love to look at those old photos and remember

  • Brittney k - Ashley, because of your recommendation, we just made our first mpix purchase this week. Super happy with their product! Thx for highlighting them!

  • Gazco Studio 2 - precious pictures…..

Yesterday I posted a picture on Instagram of my daughter checking the mail. Several asked about how I took the photo, so I thought I would share my process. For those interested, this is similar to what I teach in the SnapShop Phone course. The course goes into how to use the camera on your phone to its full advantage…as well as a bunch of other stuff. The last class for 2014 has already ended, but registration is open for the January 2015 class.

Every time I head out the door to check the mail my youngest daughter runs to join me. She actually races to beat me to the mailbox. On this particular day, my phone was in my back pocket as she ran ahead. Watching her reminded me of when her oldest brother was finally able to reach the mailbox. As I watched her stand on her tippy toes to get the mail, I wanted to capture it.

11.14mail-01It takes her a while, so I kept snapping different angles. She was giggling as she reached in the mailbox.11.14mail-02Her giggle prompted me to think about how I could capture her reaching in the mailbox in a different way. I decided to try sticking my phone in the mailbox.11.14mail-03I wanted to capture her face too.11.14mail-04

Here are the steps I took to get that photo:

  1. I used the forward facing camera on my phone (iPhone 5).
  2. I propped my camera against the back of the mailbox.
  3. I looked in the mailbox (so I could see my face) and locked the exposure on my face. The camera wanted to overexpose the background (make it too bright) because the mailbox was so dark. Locking the exposure meant you could see the green trees behind her instead of it just being a blown out white sky. If you have an iPhone and the updated operating system to lock exposure, you tap the screen on what you want properly exposed and hold your finger there a couple seconds until the yellow box blinks.
  4. Next, I turned on the self timer and lifted her up so she could get the mail. She didn’t know my phone was in the mailbox.

After I got the shot I wanted, I told her my phone was in the mailbox and lifted her up so she could see it. The camera was still forward facing, so when I lifted her up she saw her face. In the shot below, you can also see what the background looks like when I didn’t lock exposure. You can also see that I don’t clean out my mailbox!

11.14mail-05The biggest pitfall of the forward facing camera is it is pretty grainy. You can really see the lower quality of these images, but this was an impromptu capture. I might try it again with my DSLR!

If you are interested in learning more about how to use your phone or DSLR to capture your days, I teach online photography courses called SnapShops. You can click here to visit the SnapShop website.

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  • Mirys - those are GREAT!!!! Kisses and blessings. Mirys from Brazil

  • Jolene - These are so neat! A different perspective. I love it :)

  • Betsy storey - Have you ever thought of doing a mini refresher course for those of us that have taken an iPhone class before

  • stephanie - i miss pictures of your pup…how is she? You got her in the same week that we had to put our 11 year old beagle down:( (lymphoma) Your photos somehow helped my heartbreak! Beagles are amazing!

  • Ann - Thanks for the tutorial! I love the pictures you capture. Such precious moments.

  • Kimberlee Jost - You are a genius.

  • Theresa - I love this! Thanks for the how-to! As always I love the way you capture everyday life!

  • Sara - I have tried to follow you on Instagram and it never works! You are so inspirational.

  • Jenny B. - That’s a terrific vantage point! What a great idea. :)

  • Rayda Simmons - Love it!!! Thank you for sharing :)

  • Angela - So brilliant. What app do you use for your self timer? I don’t have one on my iPhone yet. Thanks!

  • AshleyAnn - Angela – the most recent update for iPhones includes a timer on the built in camera. Before I had that option, I used the timer in Camera+, but there are several free timer apps available.

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - Love this idea! Missed it on Instagram because I tend to post more photos than I view lately.

  • Gazco Studio 1 - So splendid.Much appreciated!