I took a few photos for some friends. As I left, their youngest daughter handed me a big ziplock bag full of rose petals she plucked from her mom’s rose bushes. She wanted to send them home with me to her friend…my oldest daughter.

My girl could not wait to head outside to toss and dance in the petals….and I sure didn’t mind following her with my camera.

50mm lens, ISO 100, 1/1000, f/1.4

5.15flowers-00150mm lens, ISO 100, 1/2500, f/1.45.15flowers-00250mm lens, ISO 100, 1/3200, f/1.45.15flowers-00450mm lens, ISO 100, 1/3200, f/1.45.15flowers-00650mm lens, ISO 100, 1/3200, f/1.45.15flowers-00750mm lens, ISO 100, 1/2000, f/1.45.15flowers-00850mm lens, ISO 100, 1/2000, f/1.45.15flowers-009

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  • Rae - So beautiful! <3

  • suzy - SO very adorable! I love their faces as the petals are thrown in the air. Magical.

  • Lisa - So beautiful! Thank you for the daily reminder to enjoy the sheer beauty in simple things

  • Jenny B. - So sweet! Firecracker looks SO tall in that first photo! I’m sure the pose and the leggings are helping, but it’s amazing how fast they grow up. I think my youngest son and she are about the same age, and he’s getting noticeably taller these days too. 😉

  • Kim B. - Wonderful!! My favorite is the bottom right in the block of four square photos. That would be so beautiful framed. (of course, ALL of your photos of your children would be beautiful framed!!).

  • Natalie - So lovely! Just wondering how you were able to get both girls in focus with f/1.4? Did you focus on your oldest?

  • Kaitlyn - Love this. Everything from the mismatched socks to matching striped pants and striped shirt. Her and my girl would get along great!

  • Ann - Love how you capture memories! So beautiful!

I came up with a genius solution for the grass that always defeats me in my garden- kids get their own garden boxes! We’ve always worked together in the garden, which ultimately means Chris and I end up doing most of the work. I just can’t keep up with growing kids and food. How do people do it?! This year, I have a new plan. The boys each picked out two garden boxes that will be under their care. Not only are they managing any grass or weeds, they are now experts at whatever is growing in each of their boxes. What was meant to help me manage growing our food has become an unexpected source of fun and pride for them. Naturally, there is a bit of a competition among them over whose garden box is ‘the best’. If it works for motivating them, it works for me.

My long term garden plan includes removing the boxes, but now I might reconsider. I think after the summer harvest I’ll let the boys pick out what they want to plant in their boxes for the fall. The girls have one big box that Chris and I help them manage.

5.15gardenboxes-0015.15gardenboxes-002She decided she didn’t want to get her hands dirty. I nixed her plan and we had a little lesson on roots.5.15gardenboxes-0045.15gardenboxes-0055.15gardenboxes-007Twice now garden gates have been left open and the chickens made their way into the growing vegetables. They go for my carrots and lettuce every time. I’m giving up on carrots now. Thankfully, the lettuce just grows back. If you want real garden inspiration, you should check out my sister’s instagram feed @lesleyzellers

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  • Mary Ann Mast - Wow do I ever like the idea of each of the children having responsibility of a certain section. that takes alot of daily stress off mom !!! keep us posted on how that is working say about July .

  • Beth Tilston - You could also try mulching with straw. It should keep the weed load down.

  • Liane - I love this idea!

  • danielle - We always did a LOT of weeding and other garden work growing up. People teased us all the time that my parents had 5 kids because they needed workers. My mom grew up on a farm though so any complaining was always met with how easy we had it :) I do remember her letting us have our own little garden square a couple times though! It was so much fun! And of course we never complained about eating the food from the garden :) She cans as well so just picture a garden with 60 tomato plants and 120 sweet potato plants. That thing was huge…

  • suzy - We did that once for our kids, but they quickly moved on, and said they did not want to have them anymore! What’s even funnier is that the next year, they said they wanted their own garden again! Crazy kids!

  • Itzi - It is lovely for kids to grow up knowing where food comes from and how hard and how much work it is to grow it. It teaches them to be more appreciative and more grateful. I try to do the same in our garden (which I think it is 1/12 of yours) but I upcycled their sand pit into their little patch and they love growing salads in it. Thank you for your blog and inspiration as a mum.

I’m still pinching myself….the May issue of Artful Blogging is out and I had the honor of sharing a little part of my blogging story in it. When I first got the email that they wanted to feature my blog, I am pretty sure I read it 20 times before I could believe it. Still, it wasn’t real until the magazine was actually in my hands. In the issue, I was asked to share a significant blogging story. It didn’t take me long to know the story I wanted to share – The Incubator Project.

Some of you were part of that story. Some of you have no idea what I am talking about, you can click on the link in the menu bar to read about it.

5.15ArtfulBlogging-001

It was 3 years ago. I can’t believe it has already been 3 years!!!

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“On April 16, 2012, I did what I had done nearly every weekday for four years – I posted a piece of myself to my blog. The Incubator Project was live and out there for the world to see….The support came like crashing waves. Each time I was knocked back by the generosity of others and their willingness to stand beside me to impact the lives of children many considered forgotten. For years I shared bits and pieces of myself on my blog and on that day it felt like it all those years hit a crescendo. This community, built online – they had my back.  They reminded me that I had friends and strangers alike cheering my family on, caring about my daughter and choosing to be a voice for those that had none. ”

5.15ArtfulBlogging-003You can read the full article in the magazine. I’ve had my older boys read it – what a gift for me to get to share with them again the story of those of you that read this blog and what you did for vulnerable kids. Thank you. A million times. Thank you.

The issue is full of features of beautiful blogs. Gorgeous photography. One of the pictures from my random blog they wanted to include is of my youngest son and I being goofy at the Christmas tree farm. It is so random and not one I would have every picked for publication, which is what makes it pretty perfect that it is included. He loves seeing it in print:)5.15ArtfulBlogging-004You can order a copy online. There are stores that carry the magazine, but I am not sure which ones…sorry I’m not much help on that part!

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  • Susan - Congratulations! A well-deserved recognition of your creativity and your loving heart.

  • Jeanne - Wow! Congrats Ashley. Not surprised though…your blog and attitude inspire me daily!

  • Rachel - Congrats! I’m not sure how they were able to narrow down your pictures at all! They are all always so wonderful! It was so fun to be able to meet you Saturday! Later, I realized I was so nervous/embarrassed about actually introducing myself that I left without buying anything to help support your friends????

  • Jenny B. - Very cool! I definitely remember the incubator project, and still have a “Song” print hanging in my living room! :)

  • susie - So fun! You deserve a spot- I love reading your blog everyday!

  • Donna Mohney - Yahoo- go you! That article sounds wonderful and will be my excuse to spend tons of money on that magazine! It is available at Barnes and Noble by the way!
    Congratulations!

  • amber - Such a beautiful story of such a beautiful heart. That I can’t believe was 3 years ago! Thank you for sharing your heart here for all of us to see. That magazine picked the right girl! And the photos look amazing! Love this…

  • Mei-Lin - 3 years! Wow. Where does the time go?! “Your love is a song” is still my favourite print. Thank you for sharing pieces of your story and allowing me to come alongside you in your journey. I am constantly encouraged by what you have to share. Congratulations on being featured in Artful Blogging!

  • Margaret - Congratulations, Ashley! I read the article on date night at Barnes and Noble this weekend and was so thrilled for you!

  • Kelleyn - Congratulations! Well deserved!

  • O'Neill Whelan - So excited for you!!!

  • Paige Willingham - Wow three years already is crazy. So beautiful what happened there. Forever thankful for that piece of the story.. and for Loce Without Boundaries and so many others that do such amazing work.

  • Paige Willingham - Love not Loce. And also yay! Congratulations!

  • Liz Hurst - I’m so excited for you! You are so deserving!

  • Tammy Alfultis - So so well deserved!!!! Congrats Ashley!

  • Lacey - Congratulations, Ashley! I’m so excited that they’ve featured you, your blog and this fabulous project. <3

  • jenn - Congratulations. Well deserved. Love reading your blog

  • Sharon - Ashley! I was just going to post something in the SnapShop comments congratulating you on this! I was poking around the magazines at Barnes & Noble Friday night. I picked up Artful Blogging and what did I see?? My favorite photography teacher. :) I was so excited!! There are some other beautiful blogs in there, but yours is definitely my favorite.

  • Courtney Connelly - This is wonderful! Very exciting.

  • Jo Moseley - Ordered mine! Now I just need to find a way to get it autographed!
    Really, Congrats on getting chosen for the magazine. Your words and photos always feed my heart & soul. Hugs