We are a part of a homeschool community that hosts periodic Market Days for the students. The students take time to create various products to sell to anyone that attends the market. The goal is for the kid to do the majority, if not all, of the work themselves. Today is Market Day, which means my 4 school-aged kids started working on their goods yesterday (despite my encouragement for them to start several weeks ago!). I will give my oldest credit, he did begin making PVC bow & arrow sets last week. The other three spent a good portion of yesterday making their products.

My oldest daughter wanted to make ruffled crepe paper streamers.

My 8 year old son decided to make pom pom garlands because “moms will buy them and moms have more money than kids.” He is a bit of genius. He also convinced his younger brother to help him because they are “so easy and fun to make.” Genius.

It made me pretty happy to watch them all working so hard all day creating things to sell and deciding their price points.

We made pom pom garlands at Craft Weekend. Previously I owned the pom pom makers on the right (below) and was frustrated with them. I’ve also tried the fork and and finger ways of making pom poms. Meg had the pom pom makers on the left and they worked so much better than mine. I used a 50% off coupon at Micheals and got some of my own for a couple of dollars. Totally worth it and the kids can make them on their own too.11.14market-0511.14market-0611.14market-0811.14market-09

Here is the garland I made at Craft Weekend. I’m going to buy one from the boys that is more colorful!11.14market-1011.14market-11

It is kind of awesome to be at a stage of life where my kids can make stuff on their own and learn little lessons about running their own business. We don’t have enough neighbors for a lemonade stand, so Market Days it is for now. I’ll be honest in the days leading up to market I don’t have the best attitude about getting everything together, but then I watch my kids work hard and create. It is totally worth it. I’ll read this post in the spring to remind myself before the next Market Day!

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  • Jen L. - In middle and high school Montessori programs (which there aren’t that many of in the US, sadly), they all include “micro economies” so kids/teens learn about making, selling, marketing, budgeting, etc. Good life skills to have. Micro economies can be just about anything – keeping bees & selling honey, raising fish & selling to local restaurants, gardening & canning, soap/candle making. The only “must” is that kids/teens have a booming voice in the decision and of course, led the way with the actual making/selling/etc. It looks like your kids and the other homeschoolers have a micro economy, too. Too fun!

  • Helen - Love your son’s reasoning! [I’ve been making pom-poms with my 4 year old daughter this last week: garlands, pom-pom dogs, pom-pom snowmen – you name it, we’ve made it! Hoping their Market Day goes wonderfully (what a Fabulous Idea!)

  • Suzanne - 2 things….as a seamstress, I so love and appreciate your older daughter’s posture. Keep it up and it will save her back for years to come. And, where in the world does she put the foot pedal for the machine when she sits on the stool? It might be right under her right foot and I just did not see it. Love these ideas and hope your market day was successful.

  • Aja - What a cool idea! I love seeing your daughter sew. My daughter is almost 4 and I can’t wait to really teach her how to sew. I remember so clearly sewing with my mom as a little girl. Your space is so creatively inspiring and I think it’s awesome that you let your little ones have that freedom to make whatever they want! Good luck to all at Market Day! Can the public come shop, or is it just for the other families?

  • La Lola - I love all the things they made,You can hardly tell is a kid craft. Would it be to much to ask What yarn did you use for the pompoms I love the colors.

  • Michelle Hill - I would totally buy both!! they are so cute and now I need to make some of my own :)

  • Kerry - Your posts make my day!

  • Christin - What a great idea! You’ve got a born leader on your hands with your middle son :)…and a house full of entrepreneurs!

  • Jenn - I love this idea! What a great learning experience all around!

  • Sally - Those ruffles are like eye-candy! Your sweet girl chose beautiful colors! I’ll bet people will snap those up — especially those moms w/ all the $$$$. =)

  • Haley - What a fun idea! I bet you guys have the cutest booth.

  • Emily - These are so fun!!!

  • tessa - your house always looks so cozy. I want to curl up on that bed with all the pillows and hide from my messy house. This is so fun!:)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ok, that is adorable. And they are right – this mom would have totally bought them!

  • AshleyAnn - Tessa – I want to curl up on that bed of pillows and hide from my messy house too!

  • Courtney - My four year old little miss was so inspired by your fire cracker making these ruffled streamers that she asks almost daily to make them. It has been so fun for her and for me to watch. Curious what you have them wrapped around? It makes for such a beautiful display.

  • AshleyAnn - Courtney – I bought an old filing cabinet a few years ago and it was full of those heavy duty pocket folders. I am slowly finding uses for them!

  • Crystal - Oh my goodness! This is so inspiring! My kids always want to “have a sale” (yard sale, veggie stand, etc.) and this has me thinking of some possibilities. We are part of the same kind of homeschool group, and Market Days sound awesome, too. As always, I leave your blog inspired…and not just inspired for photography or crafts, it’s so much more than that…time with the children, empowering them, loving them, seeing their gifts, etc. It’s always so neat to see how God uses your hobbies for greater purposes. :)

  • Courtney - What a great idea! I wonder if I can get my hands on some… Thank you for your reply!

  • christina larsen - These are great ideas. Our market day is the first week in Dec. This is our first year to do this type of thing. I have been at a loss what we could create. I love your packaging. Where did you get the cardboard to wrap the creations around??? Thanks.

  • jenny - this is so adorable :) i love watching kids create. i completely understand the frustrations though. my four kids did a craft swap in the mail… kids from all over the US made things for each other and mailed it… very cool. it was exhausting for me though… because i had to keep all the chaos in order :) it was all worth it in the end though… and i WOULD do it again!

  • Jenn - how fun is all of this
    i love it. thanks for posting all the fun colorful things they made.

  • Cate O'Malley - Love the entrepreneurial spirit! My kids have several lemonade and home-baked goodie stands a year, and are always planning the next craft item they can make and sell. They work together, deciding on prices and design flyers, and even sometimes post their items on IG. Great lessons on business and finances. And I would totally buy the garland that Firecracker is making!

  • jami - uhhh. can i purchase from this magical market?

  • Debbie - Those ruffles! Swoon. I want to shop! Love the pom pom garland. Brilliant little budding entrepreneurs! Oh, and that table! Hope the sale was a smashing and rewarding success for all their hard work!

  • Gazco Studio 1 - These are great ideas.Thank you for sharing this…..

  • Christy - How did the kids do at the market? did they sell all of their goods!?!?!?

When I found out I was expecting a girl, a million different thoughts flooded my mind. A million different emotions came too. After three boys, I was in a groove and a girl just seemed so unexpected and foreign. I was overwhelmingly excited, but a little nervous too! It was just my sister and I growing up, I really didn’t know what the dynamics would be with a girl and boys in the house. I began asking as many friends as I could who grew up with brothers about their thoughts and experiences. Obviously, they were all so different. But in those conversations, I walked away with a couple things that they all seemed to agree on. A big one was the importance of their brothers celebrating their differences as a girl and not making fun of it.

I didn’t know what kind of little girl my new daughter would grow up to be…rough and tumble, dainty, tomboy, girly, a lover of mud, a giggler when she twirls. It didn’t matter, but it did matter that the boys celebrated her and encouraged her in whoever she wanted to be whether they understood her or not.  Turns out she is a little bit of it all.

And it turns out those big brothers are pretty wonderful at teaching their sisters how to throw a football and they make awesome dance partners when the girls want to twirl.

I showed my oldest girl the pictures below and she told me the second one (the photo on the right) was her favorite. When I asked her, “why?” She grinned and explained how it makes her happy to see her brother smile so big while dancing with her. It makes me crazy happy too.

11.14dance-0111.14dance-03Parenting is hard. I second guess myself everyday. I make mistakes everyday. So do my kids. On the other hand, there are moments like this. Moments when a big brother is headed out the door and his little sister asks for a dance. Moments he chooses to smile and spin her instead of walking away. These glimpses into my kids make me so unbelievably thankful for this adventure of parenthood. The highlights of an adventure are often so sweet because of the difficult parts in the journey getting there. The same seems to be true of parenting to me.

Her favorite part was the way he looks at her. I sure love the way she looks at him too.

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  • Helen - Oh, your post made me cry. Your words are so tender. I have a (big) son and a (littler) daughter and every day I give thanks for their relationship. Yes, they fight, but, as you say, he’d do anything for her, however small, however big. He’s always ready to help her. They’re often found cuddled up, him reading to her or her giving him a cuddle when he’s sad. [It's a joy to behold].

  • shelby - I grew up the youngest and only girl with two older brothers. I was the tomboy, dancer princess and they were affectionately, “My Boys”. We had a bunch of land around our house when I was little, so there were so many adventures to be had in the woods. My brothers always included me and let me play with them. Even when their friends would come over, I was included in the adventure. If they were going out somewhere and I wanted to join them, they let me. They teased me a lot and didn’t always know their boundaries, but they always loved me well and at the end of the day I knew they were fighting for me. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have them as my brothers. I always joke that whoever I marry will have huge shoes to fill because they’ll be held to my brother’s standard and my brother’s approval. :) I’m about to graduate college and my relationships with my brothers are still some of the most precious, and significant relationships I have. And they have only gotten better and sweeter over the last few years. Thank you for sharing and reminding me how blessed I am. I hope your girls grow up knowing how lucky they are to have those boys as their brothers. :)

  • Tara - Oh, I’m crying too. So sweet.

  • Natalie - Love this post! Love the way they look at each other too. Thank you for sharing. I have 2 little girls and I am so thankful they have each other but i know they will miss having a brother like I did.

  • Monica - Beautiful pictures, you capture the best of moments. :)

  • Cate O'Malley - Such beautiful pictures to memorialize their relationship.

  • amber - Well. That’s just sweet! I just had my 3rd boy. My 4th baby. Our oldest is our only daughter. Sometimes I think about growing up in a house full of boys & wonder how in the world she’ll make it out! But then I think about what it really means to have all these boys looking at her & what an influence she can have on them. Then I think, she’s probably one of the luckiest girls I know. These guys sure love her & I think that is a tremendous gift in so many ways. Brothers & sisters are awesome. A lot of work. But way, way awesome. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Michelle Hill - This is so sweet! I know parenthood has its ups and downs, but your posts always make me excited for parenthood- all of parenthood :)

  • sherri ernst - I too have three boys. They are my world. I love them with every itty bit of what makes my soul whole. I prayed for a fourth…a little girl. I prayed, specifically, for an adoption. These prayers were not answered in the way that I envisioned, but I am most sure that God’s answers will be bigger than I could have ever imagined, and so I wait. His plans are always better than my dreams. I read your blog every day…for so many reasons…it is my first and favorite each and every day. The ONE I never miss. These pictures absolutely break my heart in all the best ways possible. Your husband playing his guitar for his kids. Your daughter’s face. The trust in her eyes…especially in the first picture…placing her hand in your son’s. The joy in her smile. The twirl. Oh, the twirl. Your son’s face. The gift he gave in saying yes. The attentiveness. The gentleness. The joy it brought him to make his sister feel special. I love it all. You are right. Parenting IS full of challenges. This little gem of a memory is such a gift. The best kind of gift. Thank you for sharing.

  • Georgia - So much joy here…love it!!!

  • Jessica - oh my goodness. you have me crying. this is beautiful.

  • Jess Z. - Ahh! These pictures made me all teary! So so sweet. And her dress is darling!

  • Diana - This is super sweet!

  • Jenny - Melt my heart! This is the sweetest post ever!!!

  • Martina - I really LOVE this post! As a girl who grew up admiring my big brother and wanting to be just like him (in an even more tomboy way – I NEVER wore pretty dresses like this!), I love to see their interactions. My big brother let me tagalong more often than he shooed me away. He’s very soft spoken and shy but rose up like a grizzly bear when I was bullied one Halloween. And these photos remind me of dancing with him on his wedding day. I have never before or since seen him so happy and I’m pretty sure it’s the only time we’ve ever danced together.

  • Julie - I remember how affirming my big brothers’ looks could be as kids when we were having fun together. Aw, loved these pics!

  • Cheryl - LOVE LOVE LOVE these photos!

  • Jolene - Aww! They are so sweet together! I love it when my older boys are so sweet with their little sister, too. Makes me so happy :) You should frame those shots!

  • Aimee - I love this post. I can’t wait to bring our daughter home from China and see how my two boys are with her. I think my oldest is going to be an amazing teacher and protector for her.

  • Jenny - I love reading about your kid-os! Thank you so much for sharing your about days!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh this post did good things for my heart. Thank you.

  • jules - So precious. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amy - Oh mannn! I would love for my four daughters to have had a brother. They still dance, but it’s just different. Love those photographs-just a beautiful moment captured.

  • Kristin S - Oh, my word. Moment captured.

  • Rochelle - So beautiful!

  • Hailey - I love the love they have for each other! It brings me so much joy to see those two growing up so fast! :)

  • Angie - You are such a good mom!

  • tara pollard pakosta - that is so special!
    so so sweet! beyond cute how she is looking at him!
    I have 5 big brothers and 1 big sister (she is 10 months older) and I love all my brothers so much! I could climb a tree, throw a football, bat a ball, make a mean igloo, ride horseback through the woods, catch frogs and snakes, yet played with dolls non stop! I was all of that!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - aw. this is so cute. I too like the one of your son smiling while with her. Aw. I hope it lasts.

    I have two older brothers (7 and 9.5 years older than me). I was very much the tom boy because of them. . .but. . .They let me put make-up on them, pierce their ear (twice when I was 11 and 14), put ribbons in their hair, and nail polish on their nails. They danced with me and would go for long walks with me in the snow. They took me on adventures. They’d use me to try to pick up “chicks” because I was the sweet little sister they took care of. They saved me when I slipped into the deep end without realizing it and went under. They were my heroes. They took time out to teach me how to play different sports an games and even would try to train me for softball for an hour after dinner each day. They stood up for me when people would mock me. They bought me random presents from time to time because they loved spoiling me. They’d let me sit in their room with them to listen to music they’d buy and would talk for hours with me.

    They also squished caterpillars in my hand when I’d be so excited to catch them and show them to them, they’d make me be the monkey in the middle of their football tossing (and never let me get the ball as I’d run back and forth for ten minutes straight), they wouldn’t let me hang out with their friends with them, one of them slapped me because I was annoying (but he felt terribly afterwards), they missed my high school graduation, and one was going through a selfish rut and didn’t go to my wedding because of his controlling ex-girlfriend who decided she didn’t like our family (but he regrets it now).

    There are good things and bad things….but the good outweigh them all. Your daughters are going to have so many great memories with their brothers and it is wonderful they have one another too (I wish I had a sister). I am closer to my oldest brother these days and we have lots of fun together. I hang out with him once a week.

  • Gazco Studio 2 - Unforgettable. so sweet!

  • Angela - Oh my goodness.. you are such a wonderful capturer(its a word) of beautiful moments. Having 2 kids all grown up now, I can only faintly recount now such similar moments.. but you have them in print. So so beautiful. Oh these pics do lovely things to my heart too..as one of your earlier commentator said. Thank you for sharing.. and moms pick your cameras more often.

I don’t write about cooking or recipes very often. The truth is I really do enjoy being in the kitchen and preparing meals from scratch – when I have margin. When I don’t have margin in my days, the joy in cooking is robbed. I’ve had a little more margin in my days with SnapShops wrapped up for the year. As a result, we’ve had the opportunity to have guests over for a meal a few times this week. While I was at Craft Weekend, Meg and Kimberlee introduced me to the ‘French Cafe’ station on Pandora. There is something extra fun to cooking with that playing in the background.

Many years ago I came across Martha Stewart’s Butternut Squash Soup recipe. It is now one of my favorites. I highly recommend it if you are a soup eater.

As odd as it sounds, one of my favorite parts of having guests over is putting away the dishes after they are gone. Chris usually washes the dishes (he’s pretty fantastic like that), but I usually put them back up. In the hustle of kids being loud and wild while company is over, I often don’t get to really sit back and soak it all in. When I put the dishes back up, it is a chance to reflect on time with our guests. I get to think about conversations and how the volume of my kids increases about 50% because they go into “let’s be super hyper and wild because it is exciting to have guests over” mode. If you ever want to enjoy a calm, quiet meal in a perfect home – well, you probably don’t want to stop by my house!11.14guests-0211.14guests-0311.14guests-04

My oldest daughter is always right by my side when I am preparing for guests. She likes to light candles, cook meals, and do any little needed task. She usually lingers at the table with us while her brothers are off wrestling or being loud somewhere. She lights up when I mention someone is coming over. I asked her yesterday why she enjoys having company so much. She taught me a lot as she didn’t hesitate with her response…

“I like new people.”


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  • Helen - Lovely post! I also like to reflect on the evening whilst putting the dishes away – how funny! [I'm trying to be more mindful about my life!]. Love your daughter’s response – just too wonderful!

  • Karen - Do you have a dishwasher machine?

  • amber - Goodness. Sounds like my house. My kids love when people come over & tend to lean a little to the crazy side when they’re here:}…& I love the calm & quiet once they’re in bed, company is gone & I can quietly reflect on our friendships & how God uses such great people to influence our lives. It’s a good way to do life.

  • Kristin - I love the mismatched china. There are so many things about your personal style that make me smile & keep me coming back. I also just enjoy the way you articulate the sweet boldness & infectious joy that emanates from Firecracker. It seems that girl could rule the world one day if she set her mind to it.

  • kimberly oyler - ahhhh this made me want to come back over. you are such a great host.

  • Jessica Garcia - Your girl sounds like my kind of people. How might I find the French Cafe station on pandora? Sounds lovely! Looked all over for it. Blessings!

  • Maureen - ….I like Firecracker, she’s all kinds of awesome!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Having a meal at your house is one of my favorite things.

  • Trinity - Ashley I saw the first picture and thought it was melty cubes of cheese…I was shocked you would have a picture of cheese sitting out getting melty. haha

  • Angela - My kids get loud and crazy too, and honestly it makes me nervous to have people over. I love that you do it anyway! Can you link to the Pandora station? I typed “French Cafe” in and a bunch of different things came up. Help, please? :)

  • Kristin S - Oh, she’s a true extrovert.

  • Gazco Studio 3 - Wonderful Article….