It has taken 10 days for Poppy (the cat) to get close to Arley (the dog).

Arley wants so badly to play…Poppy, not so much. My kids are dreaming of a ‘Milo and Otis’ friendship between Poppy and Arley. Time will tell, but it isn’t looking so good right now. Granted, it has only been 10 days.
10.14muffin-01As I miss summer, I’m looking for the good parts of dropping temperatures. The best part of cooler days is eating all our meals outside. It means less sweeping for me, so that makes it the best.10.14muffin-0210.14muffin-0310.14muffin-0410.14muffin-0510.14muffin-06In between bites, she dances. I’ve tried telling her to stay off the table, but it is her favorite stage. I figure her feet can’t be as dirty as all the random critters and birds that I find on it. Tablecloths for the win. Or not, because that would be more laundry…defeating the purpose of eating outside to reduce household chores in the first place.10.14muffin-07These shots were taken yesterday. Sometimes I focus on the hard parts of homeschooling. When my kids were in ‘regular’ school, there were times I focused on the hard parts of that too. The reality is – everything has hard and beautiful parts. The hard makes the beautiful more lovely. Whether my kids were in public school, private school or homeschool – there are big challenges and great rewards with each. It just depends on where I set my eyes. So yesterday, we ate breakfast slow and outside. She danced. The boys played four square. And then we started school. We are in a season where our days can move very, very slowly. We aren’t rushing or cramming or trying to fit it all in. I need to focus more on the beauty of that each day because I know like every season, this too shall pass. One day kids won’t be dancing on the tables and eating muffins with me in the morning. Hopefully, that day is really far off.

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  • Sarah Pratt - I think that is my biggest fear-is cramming it all in and not focusing on the important things in life. It’s so hard in a fast-paced world, to slow down and enjoy the little things. That’s one of the main reasons I read your blog everyday, usually in the morning before the kiddos get up. Thank you for your constant reminders to cherish the little things in life-especially with our kids. Because you’re right, one day, it will be gone. I only hope, as any mother does, that its a lot further down the road!

  • Liane - Arley is just the cutest. We have a five month old puppy, a border collie, and she is adorable and fantastic but at the moment seems to be going through something similar to the terrible two’s! I spend my days chasing her around to stop her chewing the house up!

  • Amy Espinosa @the little farm diary - Ashley, it does go by REALLY fast- thanks for the reminder this morning!

  • Kaitlyn - Oh my goodness, the cute. I don’t think my pup was ever that small! I would like to encourage you that it’s taken just under a year for my cat to 100% accept my dog and trust her not to be a danger to him. They’ve gotten along well since the beginning, but he’s just now returning to old behaviors I recognize as his. They don’t cuddle, but the cat chases the dog instead of the other way around and they love wrestling. There’s been a little bit of grooming back and forth as well. It’s an ongoing process!

  • Jenny L. - I love the way you always try to find the positive in life and don’t whine constantly about how hard being a mother is. I read so many other blogs and articles written in that manner. Thank you for being a positive role model for other young parents. I think you and Chris are amazing.

  • Brigett - I was so very excited to see that you all have welcomed a beagle into the family, I have had many beagles since I was a child and they are the ABSOLUTE best! A word of hope…we have a Beagle (Ellie) and brought home a kitten(Oreo) this summer. Ellie wanted everything to do with Oreo ..but all Oreo did was hiss at Ellie. After a few months they are the bestest of friends!! I am certain Poppy will warm up to Arley…I think the friendliness of Beagles is a little too overwhelming for cats a t first ;)

  • D'On - This makes me want a more slow paced life. We live in the city. Things are open 24/7. Busy streets. Busy life. I feel like we have too much going on in our lives that we are missing out on our kids and family time. I’ve been wanting a change and it’s time to make one. Thank you for this post. :)

  • danielle - We had a rough day yesterday but today was better. We always have rough days after vacation. Again with the puppy. That dog is so cute!

  • Jennifer - So needed this reminder. I feel like I’m stuck in the rut of the hard, and missing the beautiful. Glad for the encouragement to slow down and savor.

  • Kristin S - I kinda love the leaves on the ground summoning the beginning of Fall.

  • angie lockhart - pet dynamics are the best! Our cat did not favor our puppy dog at first! The puppy frequently got nose swipes. But as she aged and calmed they began to get along. Eventually, the would sleep back to back in front of the woodstove. Our second dog/cat combo never warmed to each other. Keep your fingers crossed! They just may be best friends yet!

  • Denise L. - Good instincts, my dear!

  • maverickmom4 - I love slowing down. I think it’s crucial to our well being. Even being a stay at home mom can be overwhelming sometimes. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate the times of “dancing”.

  • elizabeth H - such a beautiful, beautiful reminder that our days w/ our children,
    the moments we share w/ our spouse ~ are the BEST way to start the day!
    so many things compete for our attentions ~ especially the pressure
    as a home school family to “start the day” {scholastically}
    I often forget that LIFE & having my children’s Heart are my main priority.

Yesterday was beautiful! I found myself on the front porch with the girls thumbing through old craft magazines with the wind gently blowing. The boys were off playing. Chris was enjoying a Sunday nap. It felt like a country song. I turned to my oldest daughter and said, “Do you know what this is?”

She looked at me a little confused.

“Front porch sittin’,” I told her.

Front porch sittin’

I need to do more of it.


The girls looked very Norman Rockwell-ish sitting in their great grandparent’s chairs on a warm September day.

I thought…I need a puppy in this picture. It is my goal to add a puppy to as many pictures as possible because she soon won’t be a puppy.

Of course, when you add a puppy to a picture. Dangling feet are soon drawn up because puppies love nibbling on little toes.10.14porch-02The weather is supposed to be gorgeous this week. Like every week, it is full of things that need to get done. More ‘to-do’s’ than I really want to think about. This week I’m going to add “brew sweet tea & front porch sittin’” to my to-do list. What is the point of a great front porch if not for sittin’ and sippin’ sweet tea….

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  • Jolene - Love these pictures!!

  • Dawn - Yes, we all need a little more front porch sittin’ in our lives! :)

  • B Brown - Amen!

  • Amy Espinosa @the little farm diary - Our house is not all that big and the front porch is an outside room for us- my favorite room ‘in the house’ I might add! When I need to find solace in a busy day, that’s where I go. Enjoy all those front porch moments y’all!

  • Babs - I’m hosting my sons backyard wedding this Sunday afternoon.after scrubbing,painting,gardening,decorating and cooking for weeks,I’m looking forward to some of that South Carolina porch sitting!

  • Cathy - This makes me want a great front porch….and a puppy!! :)

  • Christi Smith - One of my favorite things to do, porch sittin’! Especially looking at magazines! Did I spy an old Martha Stewart Kids magazine? just curious.

    You should make sun tea on that beautiful porch!

    Oh and hoping this week is the last 90 degree day we will see for awhile!

    Have a great week!

  • Elisabeth - Front porch sittin’ is one of my favorite things to do! Although, here in New York State, it’s getting a little cool for that- high of 65 this week, lows in the 40s.

  • dana - I used to do a lot of “front porch sitting” with my grandparents. Fond memories for sure. Cheers to bringing back a lost art…slowing down, sweet conversation and front porch sittin!!

  • danielle - I am a cold weather lover so we will just have to agree to disagree on the weather :) That puppy pic though is so great! It makes me want one!

  • Rikki - Love these, too cute! And I couldn’t agree more! We could all use more front porch sitting’ :).

  • Kristin S - Toes, a puppy, a quilt, and a porch? Wonderful.

  • Kelly - Oh I love this! Have a great week of front porch sittin’!

  • jenny - love it! i hope you actually do check those things off your list again :) i know that when i add them… only sometimes do i truly commit… oh…. i need to make it more of a priority. i need some porch sittin’ too!

Most of these I posted on Instagram, but I kind of like to do round ups every now and then here.

These were all shot with my iPhone…just lots of random!


This girl is playing flag football this season. She’s got a brother on her team. A dad as a coach. And she prefers ‘princess braids’ for the games.

I have two guest posts featured today…

Tips for Capturing WHO your kids are on the Mpix blog:

guest-post-ashley-ann-blog-sept.14A photo essay of our June road trip on America Within


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  • Susan - Wow, a triple hitter! Congratulations! I loved all three!
    Happy Fall Weekend!

  • Laura Sudderth - Love all of these. My favorite is the picture of your daughter and the camera. That picture is priceless. We do mimic our parents.

  • kimberly oyler - that firecracker sure is a beauty.

  • Ruth - I love seeing all of your photos here :) I follow you on Instagram too but have noticed that the news feed doesn’t always show everything that has been posted so it’s easy to miss photos! It might be like Facebook where the more you interact with someone, the more of their photos you see.

  • Kristin S - That top left Firecracker pic? Totally looks like Lesley’s girls there.

  • Amy - Where did you get the “I’m not here to be average” poster? I so want one of those!

  • Danielle - Two great posts! You always encourage me to capture moments!

  • Michael - This is a great collection of photographs. You captured each scene so perfectly. You capture scenes in photos like a painter does on a canvas.

  • Paige - As always your photos and blog are like a deep breath to me. For some reason they just speak to my heart like breathing mountain air on a hike. Thanks so much for sharing your family. My favorite in this series is the dirt pile! Unrestrained, unscripted, pure kid fun. Like watching my boys on a Sunday night play flag football in my living room with socks tucked into their shorts. Knowing someone is going to crash into the cedar chest, but unable to stop the fun because its just so freeing to watch!

  • Laura - I’m with Amy! Where’d ya’ get the I’m not here to be average poster?

  • Amber - I need that “I’m here to be AWESOME” poster too and Google is failing me. I must know. :)