When I was little our front yard sloped down to create a small ditch with the neighbor’s sloped yard. Each time it rained, the ditch would fill with water. My sister and I would wait for the storm to pass and we’d run outside to enjoy our very own slip-n-slide.

These days I get to watch my kids anxiously wait for the thunder and lightning to end so they can run out to their own slip-n-slide.

Mother’s Day 2015

5.15MothersDay-015.15MothersDay-025.15MothersDay-035.15MothersDay-045.15MothersDay-05Our yard wasn’t wet enough for us, so we headed to the lake. Really, I just wanted a little getaway for Mother’s Day. The rain has been falling hard. The lake was extra high, so the kids made the most of the flooded ‘beach’ area. I should say, 4 of the kids enjoyed the frigid water. The other was smart like her mom.5.15MothersDay-065.15MothersDay-07Picnic table in a flooded lake = Okie surfing.5.15MothersDay-08I’m not sure you could pay me to get in dirty, cold Oklahoma lake water. I know what swims in that water. This kid…he knows and doesn’t care.5.15MothersDay-095.15MothersDay-105.15MothersDay-11Mother’s Day each year. Prayers & hopes for the one that felt her first kicks and heard her first cries. 5.15MothersDay-12I keep a journal – a letter written each Mother’s Day and copies of pictures of this tradition. Maybe it is just for me. Maybe it will be something that my daughter will want to share with me one day. Maybe it will be something that the three of us will share.  I don’t know what my daughter will want – and her story is her story. I do know that every Mother’s Day I think of the one that knew my daughter before I did and I have so many prayers and hopes for her. So much I would like to tell her. Maybe someday.

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  • Breana Parker - This is wonderful. I come to your blog just to get inspired sometimes. Still figuring out what it means to be a stay at home mom, how I glorify God on a day to day basis in all the simplicity and over-and-over-again duties. Also – I love your heart for your daughter’s birth-mom. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen Choat - What a blessing it would be if somehow her birth mom could know how well loved her baby girl is and here is hoping that someday she does.

  • Liz - Looks like so much fun! I can’t wait for it to warm up enough to splash in water.

  • susie - we had snow on mothers day! We have been waiting for some lake weather!

  • Shauna - I would like to know what is in Okie lake water.
    You have mentioned it before.
    What is in your water?

    Also I love your story.
    I would love to adopt there are so many children in the would whose parents have passed on and need love.
    But alas in Australia it is next too impossible.
    If famous couples like Hugh Jackman and Debora-Lee Furness have to move to the USA just to adopt you know it’s hard for others. We are tainted by the Stolen Generation and it has made adoption a bit of a bad word in this country.

  • Amber Reese - I know people tell you this all the time, but your blog is so inspiring! When I found you I just couldn’t stop reading. I was adopted when I was 11, so the way you handle everything with your youngest really hits home for me. Thank you for writing and please never stop!!

  • love to teach - You sing my heart song, when you talk about your youngest daughter and her story. Beautiful love!!!!

  • Amy Cornwell - I love that you celebrate the woman who gave her life…such a special memory she’ll have one day knowing what a gift she was given in you. <3

  • Shaina Braun - What a wonderful mothers day tradition with the photos! The kids look like they had a blast! Mine is too young but I can’t wait to splash around in the rain with him. However, I live in Los angeles so rain is rare :-(

  • Kimberly Dial - I am so touched by your tenderness toward Little One’s birth momma. You are quite a lady Ashley. I love that you let your kids play in the cold Okie lake water & oh the memories they’ll have of growing up with a momma like you. Bravo!

Recently, I had the opportunity to do a commercial photography shoot for Free Country Apparel.  Only a handful of times have I shot commercial photography and when I do it is typically something that fits in the general groove of our regular routine. For this shoot, I simply needed to tell a story, my oldest would be my main model, and each of the kids would wear a Free Country jacket. Of course, I asked him if he would be up for it before I said, “yes.” He’s 11 and having his picture taken isn’t on his list of top 10 favorite activities. I think I won him over by telling him he didn’t have to look at me and smile, I just wanted to capture him doing something he loves.

We headed over to my in-laws on a rainy day. I wanted to tell the story of him paddling his siblings around the shallow edge of the pond.

He is in his element at his grandparents’ land. I loved getting to step back and just watch him…these are among my favorite photos of him now.

5.15FreeCountry-015.15FreeCountry-035.15FreeCountry-055.15FreeCountry-075.15FreeCountry-085.15FreeCountry-095.15FreeCountry-105.15FreeCountry-115.15FreeCountry-125.15FreeCountry-135.15FreeCountry-145.15FreeCountry-155.15FreeCountry-16I keep writing and re-writing a million things I want to say about him…but it would embarrass him. He likes to hear those things when it is just the two of us. He made me a mom. He is transforming into a young man before my eyes. Goodness, I love this guy.

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  • Charity G. - Gorgeous photos. I love how well you know your children and see their strengths and personalities. I strive to know my children that way and feel I fail most days, but I am so inspired to keep trying as I read your blog daily.

  • Paige E - Wow. He looks so grown up. My oldest boy is turning double digits later this year and as much as I dreaded him growing up, I’m really enjoying getting to know him. He is really a fun guy to hang out with. I love these pics!

  • shadi - Your posts about your oldest son always make me cry…I have two boys and my older one ‘s personalty and character seems very much like your oldest son’s…Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am to have him in my life.

  • Laurel - I love the part about the dog jumping out of the boat!

    Great story telling 😉

  • Cassie - These are all beautiful photos…and that one of the pup jumping out of the boat is amazing!

  • jodi - love this! Such a fun memory in years to come, for sure! Yea!!

  • susie - I love that photo of the boys splashing your girl on the dock… it might be a favorite of all of your photos and I love all of yours! Make sure you make a huge print!

  • Kate S. - Arly the Beagle=absolutely perfect for this shoot. Seriously, couldn’t have picked a better breed for cute outdoorsy shots with kids than a Beagle if you’d been a casting director making the call, lol.

  • Jana Taft - These pictures are amazing! I love every single one. I love following my own kids around with my camera and capturing them just being kids, so I could really relate to this post. I also have a son close in age to yours and your description of him made me smile. My son is affectionate and loves to hear me tell him all kinds of things about how I feel about him, but he gets embarrassed if any of that goes public. Such a sweet post!
    Thanks for sharing! You are a gifted photographer. <3

  • lovetoteach - Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!!!

  • Debbie - Love the photos!

  • Tika - Great pictures! Always impressed and intrigued by your work. Love the one with your youngest boys and the dog looking down in to the water.

  • Migdalia Yika - Your photos are beautiful! So happy I happened upon your blog, I just signed up to follow. Thank you for sharing your talents as well as your family with us. What a handsome bunch!

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SnapShopDSLRJune

SnapShopPhoneJune

Each year I’ve received requests from students and homeschooling parents (for their older students) to offer SnapShops in the summer. For the first time, I am going to try it out this year.  After the June/July sessions, I will only be doing one more round of each class in 2015 (in the fall, dates to be announced).

Registration 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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  • Cindy B - Quick question: just received a compact system camera (Olympus E-PL5) as a birthday gift, and would like guidance on moving from auto to manual. Is the Snapshop class appropriate? Will you offer a class at some point specific to micro four thirds cameras? I believe you had a loaner…

  • tami - Ashley,
    I am sorry to ask this for the millionth time but……. My hubby is buying me a camera for my bday and i was wondering about the Nikon d5100 vs 3300. I am a beginner but wanting to get your opinion. Or if you would suggest another camera

  • midwestmomm - I’m going to sign up for this! Is there an online course you recommend for
    Editing your pictures?