Dirt and brothers go hand in hand around here.

The girls like the dirt for a bit…until they decide they are done being dirty and want clean hands.

The boys don’t understand why I would ever make them wash the dirt off.

They can play for hours in a big pile of dirt. I have to hose down their clothes before putting them in the washer, but it is totally worth it. I want them to have childhood memories full of just being brothers, making up games, getting dirty.

ISO 125, 1/400, f/3.2 85mm lens

9.14dirt-01ISO 100, 1/1000, f/1.8 85mm lens9.14dirt-05ISO 160, 1/2500, f/1.8 85mm lens9.14dirt-02

Notice the girls in dresses in the background…always in dresses, even in the dirt.

ISO 250, 1/4000, f/1.8 85mm lens  ~  ISO 160, 1/2500, f/1.8 85mm lens9.14dirt-03ISO 160, 1/1600, f/3.2 85mm lens9.14dirt-06ISO 500, 1/640, f/4.5 (not ideal settings, I was shooting fast) 85mm lens9.14dirt-07ISO 500, 1/1000, f/4.5 (not ideal settings, I was shooting fast) 85mm lens9.14dirt-08

His brothers were taking too long to bury his legs.

ISO 500, 1/1000, f/4.5 (not ideal settings, I was shooting fast) 85mm lens9.14dirt-09

They are so crazy awesome. Sometimes I just sit back and watch them – baffled and in awe. Growing up with a sister, I had no idea how much fun comes with boys. I just can’t imagine life without 3 young guys and 2 little girls. I’m so, so grateful I’m the one they call mom….even after 500 million loads of laundry and never getting to buy them white shirts!

And just for fun….my oldest in our front yard when he was 4.9.14dirty*If you are interested in learning more about how to use your DSLR (what all those camera settings mean), registration is open for the last SnapShop of 2014. Click here for more details.

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  • danielle - Ha! So true! Mine are perfectly happy with being dirty the rest of their lives :)

  • Paige - Oh my goodness how fun! I watched my two knuckleheads put plastic coffee buckets on their feet and pull each other around the kitchen last night. Who needs American’s Got Talent?

  • Michelle Hill - They made a slide out of a pile of dirt?! They are too cute for words!!

  • Kristin - Thank you so much for bringing back memories of my kids playing in the dirt! One summer our neighbors built an addition, so we had an amazing pile of dirt in their backyard, and the kids spent hours on it. We just left their “dirt clothes” in the garage & didn’t bother washing them everyday…the clothes…we did wash the kids!

  • Ilse - I am kinda depressed right now and looking at those photo’s I’m just thinking… Will you be my mom?

  • Jenny B. - It’s great that they enjoy that stuff! My boys are so different from yours. I often wonder if I’ve done something wrong because they are scared to death of pretty much everything outside and do not like to get dirty. My youngest son announced the other day that he is afraid of butterflies. Seriously. Oh, well… :)

  • Debbie H - I LOVE the last photo. Same cute little face but hair darkened up so much, he looks different now. His expression is pure joy and delight. What a great shot. I’m sure he LOVES seeing this photo of himself.

    My Mom never stressed about dirt when we were growing up, but not all Mothers are like that, Ashley. My Mom used to say “they’re all washable” Your kids are lucky that you do not stress about white staying white. Good for you and them. I love watching your life unfold. Thanks so much for all your sharing.

  • Amy Espinosa @the little farm diary - Being a VERY girly girl growing up, that dirt thing just escapes me! Now, the mom of two boys and two girls, I had to get used to letting them just be free to wallow in the dirt and mud. Boy was that challenging!

  • Ksenia - I totally agree — letting kids get dirty is a must (there are also studies about how it’s really good for their immune system). I’m relatively new to your blog and have binge read a lot of posts (I got here due to my interest in adoption). Do you share anywhere your photo editing process? Thank you!

  • Tracy A - Wow! Look how light big brother’s hair is!!

She’s got a deep liking for colorful washi tape. I have no idea who she got it from. No idea.

She asked me if she could make a bunting for her friend. The mere fact that she used “bunting” in a sentence won me over and I agreed. Together we made a little tape bunting. This is a super fast and easy craft to make with young kids…or by yourself.

She picked the tapes and I folded them over a baker’s twine. Once I folded the tape over, she trimmed the bottoms. The tape was not uniform or cut straight, but that really adds to the whimsy of it.9.14bunting-029.14bunting-04

I asked her to hold it up so I could take a picture to share with other moms in case their kids wanted to make one too. She had a different pose in mind than I did.9.14bunting-059.14bunting-07

We wrapped the bunting around an old postcard and she picked out two cards (she made two buntings) to write a note to her friends. The cards are from Rainy Day Colors – the EXTRA LARGE kids cards are perfect for her because her letters aren’t so small yet.9.14bunting-08

She isn’t a big fan of traditional copying letters or tracing (though we still do that and work on her grip), but she loves sending cards to her friends. I get her practicing handwriting and spelling, she gets to send special notes to her friends. Win. Win.9.14bunting-099.14bunting-109.14bunting-11

And then the race to the mailbox to send them off.9.14bunting-12

Snail mail is one of my favorite things….I need to learn from my daughter and do a better job sending it!

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  • Izzy - This is too cute :) I love thinking of cute extras I can put into my cards!

  • Angela - I spy a leftie! And a young lady who grows more beautiful each day (or at least each blog post!). :)

  • ranee - my daughter is a leftie too and i have a feeling she would love this project also! ditto to the snail mail sentiment as well! thanks for this post!

  • Lauren - That dress! Where did you get that dress?! Beautiful (girl included!)

  • Paige - I can’t believe how old she is looking! My Ty started Kindergarten this fall. This is the year he starts growing up. I capture as many “one more hugs” as possible. Love this last picture of her running with her long dress, looking back. I also love that her hair started out fixed and came down by the end of the post. What a cool idea with the tape.

  • Michelle Hill - I owe my washi tape obsession to you, Ashley :) They are so much fun!! This is such a cute idea, I can’t wait to try it myself. I love that last pic of fire cracker running with her hand holding up her dress- such a cutie!!

  • Haley - This is so cute! I love that she wanted to make something to send to her friend. Also, she does the best posing!

  • ellen patton - I mail cards almost every day. I love mail too!

  • Jenn from Texas - I don’t have anything to say other than I read your blog daily and am so inspired by your heart, your photos, and the way that you really LIVE your life. Thank you for blessing me everyday.

  • kimberly oyler - i made washi tape bunting last year! such a quick and easy project! and i am so jealous of firecracker’s hair.

  • AshleyAnn - Lauren – my mom just got it on sale at Target

  • Jenny B. - SO Sweet!! I’m thinking maybe my boys could make one to use as a Christmas tree garland. Maybe. :) Fun!

  • Andrea Thompson - I discovered your blog a couple of months ago & I am totally amazed by your life, your family, your home and your experiences. Your children are gorgeous and your life & home are so beautifully colourful. Your photography is amazing & I hope to do 1 of your snapshot workshops early next year. xxx

  • Kristi Rediske - so fun-I am going to teach my grandkids this-your daughter is beautiful-really shows in the pictures. She looks like such fun.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh, she is a girl after my own heart! Great job, firecracker. I know your friends are gonna love your special gift!

  • Amy Espinosa @the little farm diary - Thank you for the reminder! I’m just terrible at sending letters too! It’s always so much fun receiving them in the mail!

  • Missy - SUCH a good idea! I’ve looking for craft projects to do with my four year old girl and we tried this yesterday. She LOVED it. And what’s not to love about cute bunting and surprises in the mail!

  • Diana - Oh my goodness. Everything about this is so precious!!

  • Lynn Brumm - Just amazed with how much she has grown up!! …..literally before our eyes! She is so sweet with her sun-lightened hair and bronzed skin. Such beautiful pictures….as usual!! Thanks!!!

  • haverlee - Oh gosh, that last shot of Firecracker. I feel like it’s a flash forward ten years. Nearly made me misty eyed and she’s not even my daughter!

  • Jess Musumarra - What a great idea! My 5 year old daughter LOVES washi tape and I can see her making tons of bunting. Thanks for sharing.

  • Friday Favorites | Cupcakes and Commentary - […] little bunting craft, made for doing with your favorite five year […]


I snapped this with my phone yesterday at breakfast.

I want to remember this. Him. Slow breakfasts. Just the two of us left at the table.

Breakfast is usually a come and go around our house. Everyone eats as they get up. I’m usually just getting home from the gym when everyone is beginning to eat. By the time I sit down at the table with my breakfast, it is often just the two of us. He typically has a spoon in one hand and a book in the other. We both like quiet, slow breakfasts. I like to sip my coffee, holding my cup with two hands and looking out the back window. He likes to read. The background noise is full of the sounds of a busy, active household, but our breakfasts still seem quiet together. He’ll finish a chapter or maybe the book, look up to smile at me and I smile back. We both understand those smiles…they say, “it was nice to have breakfast with you, let’s get the day going now.” Sometimes I feel like we can have a whole conversation together at breakfast without actually saying a word. I think for both of us, those are often our favorite conversations. Other family members don’t get it, or even notice it.

We do.

Breakfast. Quiet and still with him. My favorite.

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  • Heather - So beautiful to share that with one another.

  • angie - you capture life’s moments beautifully!

  • sarah - beautifully captured both in imagery and in words!

  • tricia - priceless….i love how passioniate he is about reading!

  • barbara janaina - Dear ashley! I just love your posts… It’s hard to me do things whith thwo kids… they have 7 and 1. How you handle 5??? Lol please some tips! Sory for the bad english… kisses from Brasil

  • sara - this is just so precious!!

  • jodi - beautiful – getting lost in a good book is priceless!

  • carrie - My daughter would whittle away a couple of hours in that very position if I let her. Just made a no books at the table rule and now I think I need to rescind. Those moments are precious and home schooling does allow for some whittling of time in the morning. Thanks for this post as a balancing reminder.

  • Jamie - I spent my breakfast/coffee time reading this post, and this was a lovely way to start my day.

  • Meg - So cool. My first son and I have different personalities… he’s always “on” and talking… the second dude however, enjoys quiet and stillness like me. Its so fun seeing their differences!

  • TheDenverPack - These types of moments are exactly what I loved during our homeschooling season. We’ve moved on, but I still hold very special memories from this time.

  • bliss - so thankful for your heart for him and your heart for slowing down. it is spurring.

  • Diana - How special!

  • Deanna - Ok, well that made me tear up. It was like a glimpse into the future with my little 3 year old book lover. At least I hope so. Beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing that sweet moment with us :)

  • Angela A - Looks almost exactly like my son at breakfast–well except when we ban him from reading while eating so he will get ready for school in time.

  • Dana Haylee - My father and I had a similar connection. Before he passed away five years ago we would be the ones in the kitchen preparing holiday meals together. The kitchen was our place. Nobody else could hack it in there. I loved to watch him create delicious food while washing the same dishes for the 4th time so that he could use them for another dish. To everyone else in the family it seemed as if he was barking orders constantly and you had to be tough enough to return the fire at times. My mom would think that we were fighting and that is when we would exchange a grin and twinkle of the eye because we knew underneath all the stress of putting out a huge meal we were having a blast and speaking each others love language in the food.

    I would give anything to have more holidays cooking with him. I wish that I had cherished those moments more as you are…and taken more pictures! lol

  • Nancy - Leisurely eating is on the TOP of my list for reasons to homeschool. Do NOT get me started!

    On another note, a little Katey bird told me that we might get to have dinner with you next week! Wooooot woooot!

  • Emily Adams - I’m so glad I stumbled across your instagram and your blog. I love the way you capture moments and personalities.

  • Crystal - Perfect.

  • Sarah - This is a beautiful post, Ashley. Reading your blog has had such a positive impact on me and my perspective on life. You have shown me that deliberately slowing down and looking for the everyday beauty is a wonderful way to live.

  • Mary - Where is the artwork from – the girl in boots at the counter “kicking up her heels”? Love it!!

  • Amy - This one chokes me up. Goodness Ashley, what a sweet post. You two are kindred spirits, which transcends mama/son. And his love for reading just sends me over the moon. I wish I’d discovered the joy of reading earlier in life. I think I could read from now till Jesus comes and still have books on my list. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Cindy - Thanks for putting into words and capturing this image. I relate to this so much. We just dropped off our son at college, and I’m reflecting on all the quiet breakfasts we had together like this. Keep up the good photography and mothering….it’s a worthwhile investment :)

  • AshleyAnn - Mary – that is a photo of my oldest daughter. I walked in the kitchen one day to discover she had learned how to get up and wash her hands by herself. I snapped this shot and then ordered it as a canvas :)

  • Lori - Would you mind telling me the color of your paint?

  • Alana Rapson - Hi my name is Alana Rapson, I’m a young photographer looking for advise in this subject. ill be 18 this December, but I’m still learning how to take better pictures. i love your photos, they are beautiful and all tell a story.
    i was wondering if you could maybe give me some advice with my photos.

    sincerely, Alana Rapson.

    God Bless

  • AshleyAnn - Lori – that blue paint is called “stillness”

  • Lauren - Sorry to jump back, but I was looking through your posts and noticed your bowl set that I’ve always loved! Can you tell me where they are from? I’ve looked all over and found similar ones at anthro but haven’t had much luck finding the exact ones. Thank you!

  • Candice - What a sweet portrait of your relationship with him! I am sure he is a wonderful young man!