friday zoo date

Last week warm weather called us to the zoo with my sister, her kids and my mom. Chris and our oldest son were on a weekend trip, so it was a little weird only have four kids to watch. We are frequent visitors to the zoo, usually with notebooks in hand.

ISO 100, 1/1000, f/2.8

ISO 400, 1/125, f/2.02.14zoo-3

ISO 400, 1/125, f/2.8 – both2.14zoo-4

Little One has hit the posing stage. When she sees me with my camera, she steps in front of it and smiles. Then, quickly comes close to me wanting to see her picture. She also likes to steal my lens cap. All the time.

ISO 400, 1/1000, f/2.82.14zoo-6

The rainforest area of the zoo is humid and hot. Those humidity curls get me every time. She is always in a dress….usually with her ‘running shoes’ too.

ISO 400, 1/125, f/2.8 – ISO 400, 1/125, f/4.02.14zoo-7

Popping in front of the camera…again.

ISO 400, 1/125, f/2.8


 - shot with my FujiFilm X-Pro1, 35mm lens

We recently gave away our double stroller. It was very odd to go to the zoo with one little umbrella stroller and a backpack…and four kids. I have so many memories of being 9 months pregnant and pushing that big double stroller around the zoo…hoping it would spark labor. I also have memories of getting stuck in doorways and running into things with it. My double stroller days are over (at least for now…we hope to do foster care one day). Until then, I’m going to enjoy this single stroller business. Next time I might let the kids push me in the stroller!


And a quick little note to say I was asked to curate a collection for Joss & Main. My collection will post at 9:00pm tonight and I’ll have a guest post on the Plume blog this week too. I’ll share more details about it tomorrow, but if anyone is interested in looking at it tonight you can sign up for Joss & Main by clicking here. I had a lot of fun ‘shopping’ for my collection….it was like window shopping only without the crowds!

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  • Brianna - Love Joss & Main! Can’t wait to see it!

  • Anna @ A Good Home - How’s the new camera? I see you used it for these pictures (right?), and they look fabulous!

    My baby (who’s 3 now) has curls all the time, but his humidity/sweaty-after-a-nap curls are the best things ever. Firecracker’s curls look just like them :)

  • Emily - We hope to foster one day, too! But we’re about to move (states) so it’s a ways in the future. After we get settled I’m going to look into ways to support our local foster system. Something about those kids just yanks on all of my heart strings.

    Also – Joss and Main! SO COOL!

  • Ju Fidélis - They’re so polite and focused. What were they writing?


  • Judi - It’s lovely here! Deb@paperturtle invited me to stop by. I love it!

  • Taylor - I love taking little ones to the zoo and seeing their enjoyment checking out the animals. I really like the idea of having them carrying their notepads and coloring pencils too!!


  • Christina - I love Joss & Main! Can’t wait to see what you like!

  • Gretchen - Look at all your lefties. (Do you pause at the things your readers notice?! ????)

  • Danielle - These pics are cute! Love the notebooks! Are they drawing the animals?

  • alisha - I love your blog. I’ve been a silent follower for a few years. You inspire me and I know this sounds so weird but I wish I knew you in real life. And now I’ll stop being weird. :) Love little ones pigtails, they are my fav.

  • AshleyAnn - Alisha – thank you for reading my crazy blog and taking the time to comment today! I love her pigtails too!

  • AshleyAnn - Danielle – yes, they draw the animals and then sometimes add some facts :)

  • Tiffany - We saw you at the zoo! I wanted to say hello, but then I thought … what would I say after that? But I noticed your youngest son right away and then started looking around for the rest of you! Your group is just as adorable in person as they are in photos.

  • Fliss - Cannot get over just how much ‘Little One’ has grown… where does the time go?

  • AshleyAnn - Tiffany – you should have said ‘hello’!!!

  • Tracy VH - Just got the email from Joss and Main and had to head on over here to the blog to see if you had posted about it. So cool – go you! Love the stuff you picked out.

  • Cindy McAllister - This was on Yahoo News today and I thought you might like to read it…

  • Kristina Ambrosia-Conn - Omg – how funny. I came across your blog via an email from Joss & Main. I love the opening shot with the Linger a Little Longer sign :) Because I thought I would like your style I clicked on the hyperlink to your blog and began reading – I was cracking up at your rant on selfies as I just posted a similar rant on my own blog at :) Nice to see I’m not alone :) I hope you don’t mind that I linked to your blog from mine.

    Cheers and congrats on the curator event!

  • Kammie Bryant - The way you describe Firecracker’s personality has always reminded me of my daughter, she is 3. Then, you posted the picture of Firecracker writing and I noticed she was a leftie too! So is my Ella! Twinkies!!

a few things…

A little random evening post…just a few things I thought I’d mention, they kind of fit the theme of the earlier post today…..





I’ve mentioned a few times that my house is covered in Rainbow Loom bands and bracelets. The boys do all kinds of intricate designs and it reminds me of making friendship bracelets as a kid. The boys make them….their youngest sister wears as many as she can. Jen, of Upcycled Education, told me about an idea she had to use all this Rainbow Loom craziness for some extra good.  She launched a project earlier today that will give kids here the chance to make bracelets for children and teens supported by AHOPE for Children. It is always fun for me to find ways to help my kids learn how they can use their gifts and talents to bring joy to the lives of others. And, boy, do they enjoy making these bracelets! click here for more details



My friend Katy recently posted about a family she knows that are facing unbearable loss due to toxic mold….everything lost. Every possession. Every momento. Every document. Every picture. 3 babies. The affects of the mold are still unknown. Broken for this family, Katy decided to do something. Anything. She asked if anyone would be interested in donating items to auction off on Instagram. Katy has been overwhelmed with the response and has friends helping her pull it all off. There are some incredible small business owners participating. If you are interested, you can follow along on Instagram (details below). There will be a SnapShop: Phone course up for grabs too.

I tried writing more about this family, words and truths gathered from their blog, but my words seem so small. My heart just aches as I read all they have lost and all they are facing. I’m thankful for friends, like Katy, would find the words and find the actions and step up to bring a little hope in the midst of the heartache.

For more information: Katy’s blog * From the Eye of the Storm (blog post written by Misty – the wife & mom mentioned above)





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  • kimberly oyler - you inspire me so much in the way that you are always advocating for others. you sure have a lovely heart.

  • heidi e. - Thank you for these amazing posts. I love how much good is done through blogs!

    Also, WEIRD that it is SUCH a small world. Misty is from our town and we have been praying for her unknown illness and her broken heart for so long. I just LOVE seeing how God is using the internet to bless Misty and her sweet family.

  • Michelle - This family is from our town. Thank you for using your blog to gather together God’s people. The situation is heartbraking. The response is beautiful.

  • Jen L. - Thanks, Ashley! The Looming for Love has begun!

    All the best,

  • amber - Well. Several tissues later, I’m back to say thanks for sharing another story where there’s a chance to give & love. And a really strong reminder that life is really not about us. It’s about a much greater picture that’s often unseen. I’m going to spend today looking for what I would usually not see…& pray.

  • Melissa - Thanks for sharing this family’s strength through impossible grief. Because you shared, our family was able to help their cause. Even though in such a small way, it always helps to be able to act and to let them know they’re not alone.

  • The Rainbow Loom Project. - […] week Susan from Crafterhours, Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore and Jen from Upcycled Education have launched a Rainbow Loom Project to collect bracelets for all […]

  • Rebecca - I have been following this families journey locally, here in California and am so blessed to see everyone come together as a community to support them. It’s amazing to watch how God is using Social Media (and so many other things) to help them.

Sweet Noelle {an unbroken heart}

Stories. Good stories are among my favorite things. While we were waiting to bring our youngest daughter home from China, I began reading the story of another family waiting to bring home their daughter. Their oldest daughter, Meredith, had spent a summer working at a special needs orphanage in China. On her first day there, she met a little girl – a fighter. A little girl born with only half a heart. There are so many beautiful parts to this story, that I can’t do it justice. Let’s just say that Meredith was head over heels for that little fighter, Brooke. Brooke’s heart needed healing and Meredith’s heart needed Brooke. In an amazing story, not long after Meredith returned home her parents adopted Brooke.

You need to just pause here; click here and go read Meredith’s words.

Brooke“People that I will never meet this side of heaven donated funds to give my Brooke a chance to live. They gave her a priceless gift that can never be repaid. She was given a future full of beautiful hope.” ~ Meredith

I followed Brooke’s story online, not knowing her family lived in my town. Seven weeks after joining her family, Brooke had surgery in the same hospital my oldest daughter spent a month the year before.  Even crazier, one of my good friends walked alongside Brooke’s family as a nurse in the PICU during Brooke’s surgery. I remember my friend telling me about an amazing family with an incredible story that I would just love. It was easy to put the pieces together and realize which family she was talking about in her stories.

Brooke is home. She was given a future full of hope. She was given a future when she didn’t have a family. Many donated to Brooke’s first surgery while she was in the foster home. They saved her life and now she is home with her family.


Now working hard to advocate and help other children born with heart defects, Meredith is passionate about providing hope and healing to children with CHD (Congenital Heart Defect). She is currently using her voice, her time and her talents to advocate for a sweet baby girl named Noelle.



“Sweet Noelle is a precious baby girl born in China with a very broken heart. Noelle currently lives at New Day South, a foster home for special needs orphans in Southern China. She is waiting for her second open heart surgery to give her a future and a hope. We are hoping to raise some of the money necessary to cover her surgery, which will cost $10,000.”

For those that would like more information about Noelle, here are some links:

a collection of blog posts from her New Day South foster home that feature Noelle

click here for Meredith’s blog

You can click here to donate towards Noelle’s surgery

with a $25.00 donation, you will also get your choice from several cute prints – click here from info about that


I get so excited and inspired when I hear stories about how passions collide with purpose…about how a volunteer trip to a Chinese foster home led to a family united and many children’s hearts being healed. It challenges me – I want passion with purpose and purpose with passion. When passion and purpose collide, beautiful things come out of the crash.

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  • Lizél-Antoinette Bertie - ‘When passion and purpose collide, beautiful things come out of the crash.’
    This is such a profound sentence, and so very true. Thank you for the inspiration from your blog!
    I think you are living life beautifully.

  • Katie - THANK YOU for sharing. What an amazing story of love and hope.

  • Sarah Roberson Martin - Just so precious… Mending little hearts is such a miracle…

  • amber - Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I think I started crying after reading the title! Sheesh…and thank you for the chance to give. I love everything about this!

  • Somer - My own daughter has Down syndrome and also had a very serious heart defect. Watching her go through open heart surgery at 8 months old and just how quickly she recovered, I am just still in awe of her. A fighter. Thanks for posting this! Donation made!

  • Caitlin Weaver - My son has the same heart defect. He’s 6 months old and has had two open heart surgeries so far. I can’t even imagine having to pay for his surgeries (in most states, children with this defect automatically qualify for Medicaid regardless of income because it is so serious). I often think about adopting a child with a heart defect in the future. Thank you for sharing this story!!

  • CM - Thanks, Ashley, for sharing this! I was overwhelmed when I read this post.

  • Nicole C - I was in California for a few days and was behind on reading your blog. I sit here at work, every morning and read. Well today, and the past couple stories, has provided my heart and soul a peace that it needed. Much appreciated.

  • April - Ashley, we have never connected in any way. I think I randomly found your blog about a year ago through either another blog or instagram. So, it was just crazy to see my own sweet friend Meredith on your blog! Brooke’s story is full of God moments. I remember being blown away as Meredith would tell me each incredible update as they were bringing Brooke home.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing Meredith’s heart!

  • darcy - Such a beautiful post. I visited a special needs orphanage in China and was very humbled by the experience. Even though the orphanage was short staffed and the children had many health problems like the baby girls you wrote about, they were so happy and smiling. Way to go Brooke, for using your voice for children who wouldn’t have one otherwise. :)

  • Kristen - Such an amazing story. I have been following your blog for a long time and I recently took your phone photography course. Which was wonderful!) and was completely taken by your adoption story. I have a beautiful baby boy who has several complex congenital heart defects. I was dreaming of adopting a baby girl like you did and was wondering if there were babies with CHDs in the orphanages. And then, just like that, Noelle appeared. I ran to donate money and read more and more about her. I will try and see what else I can do to help. Thank you for sharing her story. My baby boy is now 8 years old and thriving. He has surgery at 5 days old and several follow up catheterizations. You can read about our story here:

    Your just an amazing giving person. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. xoxo Kristen

  • what we’re reading :: we’re back - […] extraordinaire, Ashley Ann, on her blog Under the Sycamore shares the story of Noelle – a little one at New Day who is in desperate need of life-saving heart surgery. Amazingly, […]

  • Happenings | ALL most NATURAL - […] This moves my heart. Do you trust him? […]