I like animals, but I wouldn’t say I am especially drawn to them.

I was given the gift of mothering a young man that lives and breathes all things nature and animal.

He dreams about common animals and exotic ones.

He knows a million random facts about animals and insects I’d never heard of until he introduced me to them.

His presence in our family has resulted in a flock of chickens, fish, a cat and a dog.

All my kids cherish the pets in our home, but my 8 year old – there is just something different. His unique skills and passions are most evident when nature and animals come into the picture.

2.15zones-01About four years ago, Chris came home and shared with me something one of his mentors shared with him. It was the concept that when our skills and passions intersect with opportunities we find our ‘sweet spot’. Chris and I have talked about that concept a lot in recent years as we make decisions regarding work, dreams, and future plans. In the past, we’ve talked about it related to us as adults. Although, I think in many ways it has been an underlying theme of how we approach parenting.

Lately, it has been on my mind more.

How can I help my kids discover their skills? How can I help them recognize their passions? How can I find opportunities for them where they experience what it feels like when those skills and passions intersect?

I know a lot of adults that don’t know what they are good at or what they are passionate about in life. For most of us, it takes an outside influence (a parent, a friend, a mentor) to help us discover those things or point out what they see in us. I know that thankfully parenting doesn’t end when my kids are no longer under my roof. However, I also know the quantity of time I have with them will most likely be greatest during the first two decades of their lives. It is an exciting adventure to get to watch them and help them discover those unique skills and passions early in life. It is even more exciting to me to think about exploring ways and opportunities for them to experience it all intersecting.

2.15zones-03It will look totally different for each kid, which makes it both incredibly challenging and fun.

For my 8 year old – he is an animal whisperer. Right now his skills and passions intersect when he is given the opportunity to own a pet. It seems ordinary and simple today, but cuddling on the couch with his dog is only the beginning. Skills. Passions. Opportunities. Walking alongside my kids as they discover their ‘sweet spots’ is walking the good life. Parenting is my favorite adventure.2.15zones-02

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  • Tracy R. - Oh my! This post hit a homerun for me! We have 3 girls who are all SO very different. My husband and I have discussed how different they are, analyzed their personalities and their passions, strengths and weaknesses yet this intersection you described hits the nail on the head, giving me that “ahhh haaaa” moment. Thank you kindly!

  • Romy - And what a skill he was!! I am now 34 and I can only find my balance and happiness when surrounded by animals. It has been like that all of my life, and I have dedicated my career and my life to protect them. It makes me terribly sad to see them suffer, and this is the bittersweet part of being a grown up that takes care of animals. You should go with him alone on a Safari trip to Africa! Dreams, dreams…

  • Mrs.T - Beautiful post! I remember feeling this way about my own kids (now all grown, and parents themselves) — just wanting to help them find their gifts and strengths and the joy in using them to the glory of God.

    You and Chris are such amazing parents. Thanks for sharing slices of your life with all of us.

  • Sam - This comment is only partially related to your post…hope you don’t mind! :)

    Just wondering if you have ever heard of the book ‘My Family and Other Animals’ by Gerald Durrell? I would definitely check it out! It might be a good ‘read-out-loud’ book (though some parts may have to be skipped)…I have a feeling your 8 year old would enjoy it :)

    Sam xo

  • brittony - yes. incredible how different kids can be when raised by the same people. so great to nurture and pull out the best in each of them and try not to compare their strengths and weaknesses! love how naturally that comes for you and your family.

  • Rachelle - Loved this post Ashley! Have you heard of clicker training for animals? It’s a positive reinforcement training method that you can use to teach a dog new tricks and commands. Youtube has a ton of videos on this. I had so much fun doing this with my dog….I think your 8 year old would love it!

  • Jeanne - A lovely, lovely post and spot on. Thank you for highlighting this for me, truly,thank you.

  • Nanette - I love this! My oldest (11) has the same love for animals and wants to study to become a zoologist. What I think is amazing is that my grandfather had this same passion for animals. Although the 2 of them could not spend much time being physically together, they would email back and forth about different animal facts and species. I really think it is in his genetic make up! I think helping children find their passions is the greatest gift a parent can give them.

  • Cindy - very well said! you have such a powerful way with words (and photos) thanks for sharing a wonderful message!

  • Nicole - Sounds like parenting is your sweet spot.

  • Emily - Not that I want to add this to your plate, but if you wrote a parenting book (much better: a parenting MEMOIR) I’d buy it. I’d buy multiple copies, in fact, and press them on my friends :-) Posts like this are exactly the reason I read your blog every day. Thank you for sharing.

  • Angela - That last like….”parenting is my favorite adventure”. Wow. I sure do love that. So good and true. My parents were amazing, but they never called out the gifts and passions they see in me. Now at 30 years old, it’s really hard to figure out what I’m good at and what direction I should go in. Often I just wish I had someone who could sit down and tell me what to do with myself…. I have 3 kids of my own. At least I can call out the gifts I see in them!

  • babs - hoped y’all watched the westminister dog show . I thought of you when a female beagle won best in show. If you missed it,plenty of pictures and stories on web.

  • Shannah - This is the first time I’ve commented though I’ve been reading your blog for years. It touched me to see your little man loving on those animals. I, too, was an ardent animal lover and read everything I could get my hands on — check out books by James Herriot and Gerald Durrell when he gets older! And Doctor Dolittle now! :) — I love animals with a deep passion and was sure I’d be a wildlife vet. Until I took advanced chemistry. No way. My brain is too artsy and literary and not enough math. I did a lot of searching for vocation, and I wanted to share a quote from Frederick Buechner that spoke to me: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I’ve ended up as a special education teacher and love my job and my children so much. Anyway, something was telling me to share. :) thank you for your daily posts that bless our lives!

  • Brandi - This is exactly how I think of my job as a parent! I know I heard growing up the push to be a doctor, a lawyer, something professional, something that symbolizes success. It makes me so sad now that I didn’t listen to my own voices and follow my own passions sooner. I hope my kids will have the confidence to follow their own dreams!

  • emily - Love this. Such a great reminder that we are all wired differently for a reason!

  • Jacque - I’m just going to put a giant “DITTO” to Emily’s comment above. Thank you for sharing this nugget of wisdom.

  • Caroline - Outta curiosity, what passage did you journal that beside in your Bible? Love that and would like to do the same! :)

  • Jenny B. - Great thoughts. It’s wonderful that you can already see these things in him. I think it’s sometimes really hard to identify what my boys are good at and what their passions are. Some talents are more outwardly visible than others. My oldest is pretty good at a lot of things, but I think one of his main gifts might be his sensitivity (which can also be a weakness, or maybe not a “weakness,” but a source of frustration for him). That’s not a tangible quality, though, and it’s hard to know how to nurture it in him. So, anyway, I agree it is challenging. :)

  • Krystin Robertson - That is so precious. My sister is the same way. She has had a hamster and guinea pig for pets. Any dog that she comes in contact with just falls in love with her. It has been so sweet to watch her grow and realize that she wants to do something with animals as a career. She’s only 17, but she has a gift with them.

  • Pam - I would be very interested to see a follow-up(s) to this post as you venture further. My sons are 13 and 12 and this is something that constantly weighs heavy on my heart and in my mind. Thanks for sharing.

  • AmandaK - Love how you put this into words that I have felt! I read this post to my family last night and we all discussed what skills and passions we saw in each other. Thanks for the conversation maker.

  • AshleyAnn - Amanda – I love that you talked about this as a family. I need to do that now!

I don’t remember where I read this idea, but it has floated in the back of my mind as something I wanted to try.

Vaseline on a camera lens…well, more like on plastic wrap covering the lens. I would not recommend putting vaseline on your actual lens, it would be a MESS to clean.

It looked like something interesting and fun to try – and easy.2.15lens-1050mm lens without the plastic wrap and Vaseline ~ with the plastic wrap and Vaseline

2.15lens-01I put the Vaseline on the plastic wrap leaving the very center clean. This allowed the center of my image to be in focus and the rest had a blur similar to old film lenses.2.15lens-032.15lens-042.15lens-052.15lens-062.15lens-072.15lens-08It was challenging to capture what I wanted with such a small area of the lens free of the Vaseline. You could experiment with this a ton of ways, moving the clean area to the side, making the clean area larger or smaller, etc. Ultimately, it isn’t a way I would want to shoot regularly, but it was fun for a bit.

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  • Emily - If you made the images black and white I bet they would look even more like old film! You’re more daring than me, Vaseline on plastic wrap sounds slimy!

  • Debbie - I love the way the photos turned out. Thanks for sharing!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - How unique! Looks like a great idea. Nice work. They came out great!

  • Natalie Lacy Lange - I remember experimenting with homemade filters in college. An old stocking or tulle can create an interesting (and easy) vignette effect, too. The darker the material, the moodier the image. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ujjaini - What an idea! adds such a lovely soft tone


  • Erica - Fun experiment!

  • Tanya - Cool! Would scare me and my camera though! Haha ;)

  • Emily - That looks so fun!

  • Kendra {Open Spaces} - What a fun idea, my husband showed me similar thing but instead of applying vasaline to your lens you use a colored marker. It creates a really fun hue to your photos

  • Analene - Ashley, these are lovely photos! Very different from your usual. I would love to try this at least once too.

    Looking through this post I am also struck by all the different styles of photography that can be lovely – it’s largely a matter of taste as to what is pretty. That’s encouraging since I love some of the pictures I’ve been taking, but they are not the Ashley style that I appreciate and admire!

    Thanks for continuing to share your creativity in this way. You inspire me. I am so much enjoying my camera, and learning to pick it up and use it every day :-)

  • Emily - What a cool look!

  • Amanda K - The photographer who shot our wedding used a clear filter with clear nail polish around the edge. It produced a similar effect and then he could take it off and store it for next time.

When Pinterest first became popular several years ago, it was interesting to me to watch the reactions other moms had to the website. For some, it sparked their creativity and gave them confidence to try new things. Others complained that now everyone would be doing the same things.

A few years later a wise mother of young adults left a comment on my blog related to Pinterest. She said she feared what Pinterest and Pinterest standards would do to a generation of young moms.

There was a shift, so it seemed to me, of parties, snacks, events, decor, etc. created not out of love for creating, but out of other motives. A new version of Keeping Up With the Joneses.

There seems to be a new shift now – one of putting down those that put hours into cute birthday parties, fun snacks, photo-worthy homemade cookies and other similar stuff. This Valentine’s Day I watched it play out online and among moms I know. Instead of encouraging and celebrating moms that go that extra bit to do something creative for their kids, they seem to be the object of passive aggressive attacks by moms like me whose kids showed up to parties with store bought cookies and Valentines. There is this general idea pushed that if a mom goes the extra mile it is because she is trying to be Super Mom or that she has it all together.

Really though…creativity expressed in going the extra mile can often be just a mom acting out the way she was designed – sharing her gifts and her beauty.

Sure, some moms do it for praise from others, but not all moms. Some moms make 50 handmade Valentines with their kids for classmates simply because that is who they are and what they love to do. They should be encouraged not put down or embarrassed for living out their gifts. I was once the mom that showed up with ‘Pinterest-y’ goodies because it is a natural extension of who I am. I wasn’t looking to impress anyone, I simply loved the chance to create and share with others. I miss the days that I had extra margin to create in that way. Maybe one day I’ll be doing that again, but in the meantime I want to celebrate those that do. And I want to celebrate those that do not.

We are all uniquely and beautifully made.

Whether we come alive covering paper hearts with glitter, using coupons to find the best deal on store bought cookies or organizing a classroom supply closet – let’s cheer each other on! In coming together and using our words to encourage each other – we collectively shine.

Shining, happy people are pretty fun to be around too….especially when one brings cookies, homemade or store bought!

2.15valentines-012.15valentines-022.15valentines-03So…way to go mom that showed up at the Valentine’s Day party with store bought everything.

Way to go mom that showed up with the cutest snacks and thoughtfully made cards.

Way to go mom that couldn’t make it to the party, but sent your child covered in feelings of love.

Way to go mom.

 * Of course, cheering on others is not limited to moms or even parents.

I chose to write this specifically to moms to keep things simple, but you get the idea – let’s cheer on others!

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  • Kara - Amen!

  • Elise - Thank you for celebrating moms of all kinds!! We are doing the best we can- thank you for your encouragement!

  • Southern Gal - Well said, Ashley. Well said.

  • jodi - Ashley I love your heart to encourage and build up others. Beautifully said!

  • Ari - Thanks for sharing that, Ashley. It was a good reminder that God made us all differently. there will always be pressure to “keep up with the Jones” “but God sees our hearts. When we try to make the right decisions for our family, that’s what counts. My “homemade” cupcakes that came from a box are still an expression of love to my kids. :)

  • Jenn - I love every bit of this and understand it all. I can so see the shift. (both ways really) I love how you encourage women/moms to stand together and not to judge and criticize others. thank you for your encouraging words of love.

  • Helen - I appreciate you for adding that last one… to the mom who couldn’t make it, but sent her child covered in love…

  • Nicole - Well said! Posts like this is why I read your blog.

  • Jen - As I looked through my daughter’s Valentine’s mailbox, I loved seeing the store bought ones with perforated edges that reminded me of my own childhood; the ones scrawled with hand-written names, images of parents gently prodding their child on night after night to finish one for each classmate; and the ones that were a little handmade like mine with trinkets or treats or chocolate held on by washi tape. I saw all sorts of mothers in that bag of Valentine’s cards.

    We should celebrate our own skills and God-given talents and we should celebrate that in other women too. Thank you for the reminder… you always see the best in everyone.

  • Raimie Harrison - Thank you, Ashley. Again you nailed a concept I have pondered over several times over the last year or so. That shift into “oh, gag me” “you are so creative it makes me sick” can be just as polarizing as the “oh, look at me” “I’m so creative-be jealous, girls”… It comes down to kindness. And like that great Moher Theresa quote says, “be kind anyway” :-)

  • Janell A - I absolutely love this post. I have been reading your blog now for several years. I love your thoughts on kids and life and creativity. Thank you so much for sharing what’s inside you with the world!

  • Jodi Braun - Hi Ashley! I have loved following your blog for years now without ever commenting…… Seems a little creepy now when I write it!! Haha but I just love this post and this message you are sending. As a mom I needed to hear this today and I am anxious to pass the message on. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jenny B. - Hear, hear! :) I have always viewed (and loved) Pinterest like it was my own personal design magazine where there were no ads and every page had a photo of something I thought was beautiful. It never occurred to me that people would have different feelings about it until I went to a moms’ night at school, and a couple of moms were complaining about how some other moms “pin all this stuff that I know they’re never going to make.” Huh? Why does that matter? If you read a craft magazine, do you anticipate making all of those crafts? Of course not. Why would Pinterest be any different? It’s supposed to be a source of inspiration, not a to-do list. That was an eye-opening conversation. And then, a little later, I noticed that whenever someone did something cute for a party or whatever, other well-meaning moms would ask, “Did you get that idea off Pinterest?” I guess it shouldn’t have, but I kind-of felt like it was insulting. It was like they were saying, “I know you’re not really this creative… you must have copied these ideas from somewhere.” What happened to just saying, “This is so cute! You did a great job!” Anyway… All that to say, I am with you! :)

  • Debbie - And way to go Dads too!

  • Rachel - Yay!!! Love this! Way to go, all of us parents.

  • Jessica - Amen! Beautifully said Ashley!!

  • Lucy - Thank you for this. We all find fulfillment in different ways. And sometimes we are just trying to stay alive :) I really needed to hear this this morning. Thanks!

  • TLL - Love everything about this post. Let’s support everyone, we are all trying to do what is best for our family!!

  • Kari Ann - I didn’t know I needed to hear this until I did. Thank you for this gift.

  • Stephanie - Dear Ashley,
    Thank you for sharing your stories & perspective. Your posts are a positive and joyful respite. I had a question regarding photography (and realize it may be months or never that you are able to reply). I have two little girls (8&4), a small photography business, but 4 months ago my husband went to the ER, and has been in the hospital most of the time since (difficult to diagnose blood cancer, still waiting) and my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer on new years. I closed my business and haven’t touched my camera but I don’t want to loose out on having photos of my girls, regardless of the demands/chaos that is the uncertainty of “now”. Your life is full&busy yet you seem to be able to find moments to document, I was wondering if you could offer a few words on how to find/choose moments. I don’t know how to preserve this uncertain time for when my girls are grown. Thank you. With sincere appreciation and well wishes, Stephanie

  • Ashley - I just love this….couldn’t agree more! Happy Tuesday with your gang!

  • Susan - Great post! I think Pinterest is a great idea, but I hate the way that anything creative that moms do now, Pinterest gets the credit. Pinterest is just a tool. We don’t give a hammer all the credit if someone builds something. The mom still had to make the stuff she pinned! I went to a birthday party, and the other moms demeaned everything by saying, “Saw that on Pinterest -this is just a party straight off of Pinterest!” I could tell it hurt the mom’s feelings. Anyway, I totally agree with you on this post.

  • Michelle - So beautiful and true. I’m grateful for those who show their talents so publicly. I become so encouraged and inspired and motivated to improve my own skills or to even start a new one. We should celebrate each other for who we are, not what we do.

  • Carrie Campbell - I’m not a mom, but I’m a creative woman, and I see all of this too. Way to encourage others in being who they are and loving well right where they are at. :) I read once on this blog ‘Comparison is the their of joy’ and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remind myself.

  • LInda - Yes! Thank you for writing the words that so many of us feel.

  • SueY - Ashley, as always thank you for your kind words and insight. Your wise counsel extends to grandmas too. :)

  • Carrie Campbell - *thief

  • Lori - Well said Ashley. Thank you!

  • Meg - Amen! We usually go all out for Valentine’s Day but between our house getting hit by sickness and a teacher who wouldn’t allow kids to bring in hand made anything we went with store bought. I missed the creativity but you gotta do what you gotta do :)

  • Steffany - I am like Kari Ann who posted, “I didn’t know I needed to hear this until I read it.” Thank you, Ashley. Beautifully stated. Profoundly true.

  • Sara W - I love this! This has been my personal challenge for the last year and I’m not perfect at it but I’m hoping it is a phenomenon that is contagious!

  • Jeanne - LOVE! Coming from the mom who sent in the mismatched napkins????

  • Sarah - I love this! Thank you!

  • Laura - Love this post! I just started a blog (supermamawannabe) where I talk about similar things. I have often felt (and truly been) criticized because of my creativity and the fact that I do things “big.” I hope you don’t mind if I share this article on my Facebook page and on my website.

  • Tamara - what a beautiful, loving approach. <3 thank you!

  • Rebecca Frith - Such a great post, Ashley! Wise words!

  • Tere - Word :)

  • Erin - Love this! I choose to view Pinterest as it is – a place to collect ideas. I love to be crafty when it fits our family’s life, and I love to be simple when we need simplicity. As far as I know, kids love cupcakes – and don’t really care if they came from my kitchen or the grocery!

    My daughter went to her valentines party with homemade cards because I forgot to go to the store and buy some, lol. So we cut out hearts out of construction paper and she wrote “love” and her name. Not Pinterest worthy, but homemade and easy. She loved it. My motto is done is better than perfect!

  • rachel p - And way to go Ashley!! Thank you for reminding us to build each other up rather than to compare or resent. You rock!!! :)

  • Jeannine - Exactly! What role model are we for our kids if we teach them not to follow who they are because of what other people think. I love making stuff with my kids. This Valentines Day was my son’s first in school. I had heard a few mums in the playground make comments about mums who make cards so I didn’t mention cards to my son. I felt so ashamed when he asked me the day before when we were going start on the same cards we made last year. We raced out and bought the supplies and had such a fun afternoon working together. You never know what is really going on in someone else’s life. My homemade craftiness is absolutely motivated by my kids.

  • Katie R. - Yes! I hate that we so easily get on the defensive about who we are {or aren’t} and what we do {and don’t do.} Love this post to be ourselves and love others are they are! :)

  • Ashley - So true, Ashley! I was a “Pinterest Mom” way before Pinterest because I love crafting with my kids. There is no right or wrong way.

  • Shannon - Well said! Love this! Thank you!

  • Rachel Kaylynn - This is beautifully written. I was an over-the-top-creative-thinker long before Pinterest – I blame it on a decade of running after school programs and daycares. I’ve read the recent backlash on ‘pinterest’ moms and it hurts because to me this is just who I am – I like glitter, color, and trying new things. This is part of what makes holidays fun for me. I hate being accused of trying to make other moms feel bad or that I’m trying to one up them. I love and respect my mom friends who take a simpler approach. Being their friend helps me find balance. And while their birthday parties are different from mine they are fun and my kids enjoy them. I don’t want all my mom friends to be the same or to have identical events. I want my kids to learn how to embrace and celebrate diversity.

  • Ashley - Ashley, so well said and in such a loving way. I too am that crafty mom but I struggle with creativity. For that reason I LOVE pinterest. Ever since my kids were little I’ve made a somewhat extravagant birthday cake that has fit the theme of their party. One year I made a Frog and Toad molded out of fondant because my three year old pleaded for a Frog and Toad Birthday party. I searched online and found one other mom that had done the same thing for her 4 year old and was kind enough to post some basic guidelines on how she did the cake. I tried to copy her and I gave her credit at the party when people asked. We didn’t spend a bunch of money on the party (not that someone can’t do that)but I did spend hrs on the cake and some homemade decorations. I loved my time creating and being alone! AND, these themed parties have been some of my kids’ and husband’s best memories. Because of that kind of judgmental attitude that is out their now I always feel hesitant to go that extra mile to make it special. I don’t want to give people the wrong impression at my child’s party because I spent a bunch on time on things. It’s kind of sad. I’m not trying to impress anyone or win any type of awards! We did make homemade Valentines for one of my kids this year because his favorite candies are Swedish fish and we found a cute idea on Pinterest that allowed us to just put a few fish in each Valentine. We made them together and he even said at one point, “this is fun Mom, I wish we could do this more often.” I wish we can do things like that more often too. But like you said their isn’t always the time and energy and that’s OK. And, I was so glad that I didn’t just buy the store bought cards so that the other moms wouldn’t think I was trying to be super mom. He’s almost 8. There aren’t going to be many more chances for things like this!My younger son that I homeschool brought store bought Valentines into our CC group because he has some food sensitiveness and that was what was easiest. It was fine! You just gave me a bit more courage to go ahead and make that next cake for his 8th B-day in a few weeks! ;) And, as I recall you had a frozen party that I might borrow some ideas from for my little 2 year old that is begging for a Frozen party in May. Thank you!!

  • Carrie - Oh I just love and appreciate this! I love crafting, especially for others. I look at Pinterest at a great resource that is full of fun ideas and plenty of “how tos” on how to make my own ideas a reality. However, I know some people see it as an intimating thing that can make them feel inadequate. I wish everyone could just appreciate anyone’s attempt to contribute, whether it’s store bought, home made, or just plain thoughtfulness. I love when other mom’s encourage each other and wish it was just the norm. Thank you for this, Ashley. So, so true!

  • Caroline R - Beautifully said! As I hope to be a mother soon, one of the most powerful lessons I’ve gleaned from your blog so far is the message of compassion for all the different choices parents make. I strive to be as open minded as possible- but need to be reminded as much as anyone. When you write about things like this it really touches me and I love to share it with others. Thank you!

  • Keri - Thank you for posting this! I needed it!

  • Vénusia - I’m so happy to hear that. I so often feel guilty that I really love to plan a sophisticated birthday party. I so like it ! Happy to hear someone not judging it !

  • Kendra - Perfectly said! Thank you for this!!

  • Amanda - Amen! I’ve been reading your blog for years now but don’t think I’ve ever commented. Today I had to say thank you! I have been struggling to put words to my feelings until reading this post. I am very much the ‘pinterest-y’ mom who does things out of my love to create. Dealing with the new shift has been difficult for me, almost to a point of hiding my creativity in order to protect myself from criticism. So, thank you! Thank you for helping me find the words I was looking for! I am definitely going to honor who God made me to be and keep creating :) I hope you are having an awesome day!

  • Mary - perfectly said. I used to be a huge scrapbooker and handmade card maker before my second child, second business and pinterest. I wish I still had time to do those things. Thank you for sticking up for everyone. Life happens. Don’t be so judgy!

  • molly - amen ashley.

  • Sara - Yes! There are so many ways to show love and to be a good parent – this post is so applicable to my life right now, thank you!

  • Debbie - Very well said. We should all support one another.

  • cara williams - Yes. Absolutely.

  • Carrie - 100% agree with everything in this post! Thank you for putting it out there.

  • RaD - A lot of schools don’t allow home made treats anymore. It’s mostly allergy related, I believe, because whoever is passing out the goodies can check to see what the ingredients are.

    But I totally get your point!

  • Heather - Thank You Ashley. This was beautifully written and perfect timing. We normally make our own Valentines and I love the time spent with my kids picking out what they want to make and helping them do it. But this year was overwhelming and I found myself dreading the valentines–so we let it go. The kids had a blast picking out store bought Valentines and it freed up time for hand making Valentines for each other. Thank you for reinforcing this. Being Mom is so hard some days–other Moms should know that best and be the most understanding. Thank you for vocalizing that in such a loving way

  • Alicia Millis - awesome. just awesome. think of the world us moms could live in if we supported each other, instead of competed and judged.

  • Jessica - Nailed it! I loved making Valentine’s with my kiddos because I love creating with them. I also loved the store bought ring pop that my son received and was so excited for. Its the thought that counts and being judgy doesn’t do anything for anyone. Have a great week!

  • Amy K. - THANK YOU! I struggle with this too – I LOVE to be crafty & creative, and also love nurturing those qualities in my boys. THAT is why I do tons of crafty activities with them. There are so many other things (really good things!) that are NOT my thing… mine just happens to lend itself to a website that is hot right now.

  • Michele - This is so great. I was just thinking how grateful I am that I was not a teenager in Facebook era or a young bride or mom in the Pinterest era. At that time, I don’t think I would have had your fortitude to say , way to go, me! Thankful for you and your wisdom!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Yes! You said it! I don’t quite understand why we all just can’t be happy for each other. And for ourselves for that matter.

  • Sarah - Amen.

    I’ve seen this shift within several social media sites. Young teens are mocked for not receiving enough “likes” on Instagram one day, and then laughed at the next for posting too many pictures because it’s not cool to do so anymore. Too many pictures means you have no life outside of IG. Huh? It’s a full time job keeping up with that stuff, what on earth?!?

    I just.don’t.get.it. I don’t. Why I see this trend of putting others down starting at such a young age. I don’t understand and it breaks my heart. Moms who try to make themselves and their choice look better by mocking their neighbors choice floors me.

    Please, embrace each others differences. We all have our strengths, our God-given talents. Find the good in one another, and I’m betting we will be surprised at how much better we feel in the process. We are all on one team as mothers, to love our children and desire the best for them. Let’s show them what a generation of women who support each other looks like!

  • Tracie M. - Unless the children are in danger, stop trashing the mom! Let’s support and love and bless each other instead of tearing each other down. Being a mom is HARD work, whether you homeschool or not, whether you work or not, etc. I was privileged to be a stay at home mom for 8 years. I am back at work now and super lucky to have flexible hours and a job I LOVE! I am surrounded by a fabulous group of friends who love and encourage me. Let’s just stop the bashing and start the encouraging!

  • Nicole Anderson - Such a great post! It is so important that we celebrate each other’s talents.

  • RachelC - You da man — er Mom!!

  • Kari - Being a mom is hard. It felt really good to read this post today, thank you…

  • Brit - Love this! I actually made Valentine’s with one kid and bought storebought for the other three. My one really wanted to make them and doing something (that was a little more involved than I wanted????) really filled her love tank. My other three had to be bribed just so they would write their name on each card. I think it is so important to celebrate each mom’s and each kid’s differences and strengths. After all, isn’t that what makes the world fun?!

  • Carrie Overman - Long time reader (you feel like an old friend – ha!) but first time commenting. Just had to share that this was so convicting for me. I was the mom this year that let my kids pick out the cartoon-y valentines from the grocery store, and I felt this strange sort of pride that I wasn’t “overdoing” it. I even commented about it on Facebook! But oh, how right you are! The Lord has given us good gifts and we are to be good stewards of them! And we should absolutely encourage our brothers and sisters to use their gifts! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. They pointed me to Jesus. :)

  • Jennifer B - Awesome post!

  • Marisa - Yes! Thank you!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

  • Allison - like. love.

  • Susan - Amen! God bless all moms who have there children’s love.

    Who are we to judge . . .that mom that sent store bought cookies could be suffering with cancer. That mom that made homemade Valentines could be living through an abusive marriage and trying to do anything to make her children forget about the terror in their home, and then there are people like me who are self employed and bought everything to make Valentines gifts and those items are still sitting in the craft room. My prayer is that my children and grandchildren will always know my love, without always having to buy them stuff or compete for the acceptance of others.

  • Anna - Go girl. You are fab Ashley

  • Jolene - Love, love this post! I agree that we as women in general, need to lift each other up, not tear down. And it’s something I am guilty of doing at times, even though it might just be in my thoughts. Thanks for sharing!! You are a woman I really admire, even though I only “know” you through this blog :)

  • Shannon - thank you for this!!! I always love your insight!

  • Crystal - What a wonderful and gracious, much-needed post. So thankful for your platform to speak messages like this…and so happy you use this platform so well. :) You encourage us all.

  • Jackie - Amen! You have a wonderful way with words and I appreciate your positive attitude :)

  • Jeannette - Love you!! I always want more than anything to go the extra mile – handmade, etc. I love doing it, but reality is, I have to compromise somewhere in the middle, but I always want to enjoy it!

  • Andrea - Well said. It goes along with your misunderstood and misinterpreted post. We need to examine our own motives, not make assumptions about other people’s. And be supportive of all the different gifts and types of people God made.

  • Alice H - I love this!!! and WAY TO GO to you also!!!

  • Christin - Amen!

  • Diana - I LOVE THIS. Absolutely perfect. I feel like there is a lot of hate towards anything “Pinterst-y” and sometimes that’s just the inspiration behind it. I baked before Pinterest and I bake now, just different things. But it’s not supposed to make anyone feel bad or incompetent. I don’t get all the comparison and need to tear down others to make yourself feel better.

  • Alysia - Great post! I love to see people building each other up, and you did that beautifully here.

  • susie - My mom loved sewing, so she sewed while the house fell apart. She made my sisters wedding dress, flower girls dresses and my dress (I was 9) while being pregnant with baby #13. Sometime I wish I could be like her, don’t worry what my house looks like, just create art! I think looking at homes on pintrest and blogs makes me want to have a spotless house, guess I should start pinning sewing projects!

  • brittony - i find myself almost apologizing when i do have time to do something fun or creative, which isn’t much these days. why do i do that? if i enjoy it and my kids enjoy it that’s all that matters. anyway thanks for this, you’re so right. no time for all that snark. just do you.

  • Melanie - Great thoughts! We should encourage others in their gifts and talents, even if they are different than ours, or different than what we are able to spend time on right now. Andrea Dekker addressed similar thoughts on her blog recently, letting people do their “one thing”.

  • Roshena - Thank you for your encouragement! It’s like you read my mind. I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest for this very reason.
    We need to remember that we go through different seasons of motherhood where it’s not realistic to do the big, creative, homemade, and clever parties and goodies. And that’s okay! As long as we’re doing what is best for our children (and our sanity!)then we’re doing exactly what we should be. Rock on, Moms! Keep doing the next thing.

  • elizabeth H - well that’s the Beautiful Truth…well spoken mama!!
    I often am saddened at how “relationship” is so often undermined by performance.
    in so many areas of life…whether it’s parents & children
    moms & other moms … friendships among women…
    The heart of living should be love & relationship.
    I’m so glad your walking out your talent by voicing the truth!

  • Allison - way-to-go Ashley!!!!! Way to break through icky feelings and comments with a well worded encouragement for everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Shelley @ dignify - Ashley, I love this post! So much love & generosity towards all different kinds of mom-ing (and living!). I just did a post “In Defence of Pinterest” and linked back to this post. Here is one of the comments:
    “I like this post and the link you shared too with Under the Sycamore. I love pinterest and doing “pinteresty things” because I love that stuff, not to impress anyone. As someone who is creative and likes to do creative things the phrase “you must have lots of time on your hands” is super hurtful. Nope, no I don’t, it’s just a priority for me. Same with those who love to make great delicious meals for their families. Or run a business. Or put their kids in lots of activities.”

    A reality check that indeed it is all about priorities, and that our words have impact, as well. Thanks again for the reminder!

  • Weekend Links to Inspire and Encourage - - […] Way to Go Mom // Under the Sycamore- Just all the amens for this post. […]