I attempted to teach the kids a few basics of using my potter’s wheel. We went over a couple beginner essentials, but then I let them just get a feel for the clay spinning. It was beautifully strange to watch them using my college ceramic tools. Their little bodies covered in aprons, water and clay. Sitting at the wheel in college, it never crossed my mind that I might one day be teaching my own five kids how to do the same. It’s a gift – getting to share something I love with the people who have my heart.

My youngest daughter isn’t too keen on things on her hands.  Maybe one of these days you’ll see her at the potter’s wheel too. Maybe not, it is totally up to her. Right now she is content staying far away from us and far away from the clay.

The wheel and small kiln were a gift from my dad several years ago. He is still waiting on me to make him a cereal bowl. I’m working on it Dad. Our neighbor is an artist and so kindly gave us her old large kiln that she no longer used. I’ve yet to fire it up – I need to watch a few You Tube videos first to refresh my memory!

1.15potters-01Just because – well, because….if you know how to throw a pot on a wheel, these photos are the kids just getting a feel for wet and dry clay, the pedal and the speed.  We’re slowly working on centering the clay.1.15potters-021.15potters-031.15potters-041.15potters-061.15potters-071.15potters-081.15potters-10

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  • Kelley - Firecracker’s apron is so cute! I actually thought it was a dress at first! Ha!

  • Tanya - Very cool project for your kids!

  • Leah Heffelfinger - This is awesome! So jealous of your studio set up…can’t wait to teach my (non-existent) kiddos my fav things :) you are so inspiring!

  • Alison - Love these pics! My grandmom was a potter and we spent many hours in her pottery shop growing up.

  • Serene - Love the kitty getting right in there to see what’s going on. Too cute!

  • Angela - That last image with the quote is gorgeous. Love it!

  • Juli - <3

  • Katherine - I’m so jealous!

  • christina larsen - That looks like so much fun! I miss my pottery class days in college!

  • Amy M. - Such precious pictures and children and memories…”Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Is. 64:8

  • susie - I am jealous too of your studio! Pottery was my favorite class too- wish I would be able to teach my kids too!

  • Carrie Campbell - Ashley, I love that your kids see your creativity and desire to create themselves. I feel like it is such a gift to them and I know it must be a gift to you. :)

    Also, I was wondering if there are specific books you recommend regarding adoption? Specifically from or about adult adoptees. I remember you doing a lot of research along the way on your journey prepping for Little One. Thank you!! :)

  • Gris fleur - Hello ! Great idea ! I have a kiln used for painting on china. I write used because I realised that the paintings and solvants were bad for health. I got rid of my stuff but not the kiln. Any advices on the list of clay, wheel and books for beginners ? Although I’m French ( as you can guess with my poor English ;)), I’m fine with English books. Thanks a lot !

Stirring oatmeal and jotting down a list in my notebook, my daughter walked up and asked me what I was writing.

A few moments earlier I was thinking about how the same things rob my joy over and over again. Why do I let that happen? Same stuff. It is typically things that ultimately lead me to feeling like I’m lacking in something…not enough as a wife, mom, friend, photographer, business owner, the list goes on. Usually it is somehow related to thinking someone else is enough in one of those categories. So, stirring that oatmeal I decided to list out the top things that lead me to feel like I’m not enough or just make me feel yucky inside. Maybe in the physical act of thinking through them and writing them down I could be more proactive in how I battle those things in my life.

1.15joyrob-01She asked what I was writing down. I told her I was making a list of things that make me feel yucky inside. Yucky is a word we both understand. Then she asked what makes me feel yucky. After I shared my list (in a way that made sense to her), she shared the things that make her feel yucky too. Together we are going to fight the yucky and hold tight to the joy. The joy is always there, it is just up to me if I let the yucky drown it out.1.15joyrob-02


I often think other moms somehow manage peaceful, tranquil moments in busy homes. Maybe they do. But, that is not my reality. My reality is while I was having my deep thoughts, making my list and chatting with my daughter, it was all done to the soundtrack of my boys were pummeling each other with pillows in the living room. The boys’ room is under construction, so they are living in the living room for a time (send help!). I once thought I needed solitude to think. It sure is much easier in the quiet and I do recharge in the solitude, but I’ve learned to function in noise and activity. Especially LOUD noise and rambunctious activity!1.15joyrob-03

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  • Meg - I need to learn how to function in the loud! Any wisdom you have to share would be AWESOME! Ha!

  • Michelle G - One thing I have learnt, not just from the Internet, but real life, is that you cannot truly know what is happening in a relationship/family unless you are one of the parties. What may seem bliss may well be chaos and vice versa. Appreciate your own position, and try not to compare is my advice to cope with joy robbers.

  • Eleonore - Ashley, your honesty about your family in all its messy beauty is what makes me look forward to having a family of my own. I’m an introvert and a lover of all things quiet and subdued, and I worry about what my life will look like once I have kids. Your blog gives me an honest peek into life on the other side. It’s brutal, and beautiful. Thank you.

  • Cathy - Ashley – So thankful for all that you share and for the inspiration! These lyrics are from the song “When the crazy kicks in” by Francesca Battistelli. She really knows how to speak to moms : ) The whole CD is actually very good!

    Here I go tiptoeing to the kitchen
    And don’t you know, crash goes the coffee cup
    My only chance to be still and listen
    Lord, don’t let, don’t let the kids wake up
    A little time with You, the only way to get me through the day

    Oh, come meet me in this moment
    Before it all gets going
    These plates start to spin
    When the crazy kicks in
    A circus of distractions
    It’s just about to happen
    I’ll be ready when
    When the crazy kicks in

    Pushed and pulled by a thousand expectations
    And all the roads that I’m supposed to play
    To hit the ground, running’s a temptation
    But I have learned this lesson the hard way
    A little time with You, the only way to get me through the day

    Read more: Francesca Battistelli – When The Crazy Kicks In Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  • Tiffany - I really slacked on creating in 2014 and then I realized maybe crafting, diying, decorating, maybe those things really help “fill my bucket”. So I’m planning on making a habit out of creating in 2015. I wanted to suggest these two books for when your insides feel yucky (maybe your bucket is low?). How Full is your bucket & How full is your bucket for kids – by Tom Rath.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - I have such a hard time in the “loud”! It’s just not who I am but it’s so who I want to be!

  • Kimberlee Jost - I love the realness of this.
    Thank you.

  • Kendra Dake - What a wonderful sentiment today. Something we all do ( compare ourselves to imaginary super women ) and something we should all do more of ( remember the joy ) I hope you have a wonderful day filled with joyous moments!

  • Susan - Thank you for addressing the “joy suckers” we all experience from time to time. May we force out the yucky and fill our lives with the joy that truly is all around us.
    Quiet is great for a short time, but the season of a noisy home is one I miss every single day now that my four children are grown and gone. Quiet can be deafening!
    Happy days!

  • Jenn - love the dog in the boys picture
    on a more serious note……I love you words. I too sometimes feel yucky about some of those same things and wonder how others tend to manage it all. love how you decided to share it with you daughter. sweet moments. prayers for continued joy

  • Lakmali - I’m also going through the same train of thoughts. I’m waiting for my job interview for which I worked hard. Full time doing exams and all. The negative thoughts are popping up all the time.

  • kimberly oyler - oh my gosh. the boys in the living room?! i know you love change but i am sure you are not loving that. godspeed.

  • Kacy - Yep, me too.
    Five kids, me too.
    Loud home, me too.
    Fighting daily for joy, Me tooo.
    Praying alongside you this morning lovely. ????

  • Kacy - Ooops.
    !!!! Not ??? ????

  • Marianne L - Hi, Ashley. Just a gentle hint – in your first sentence you refer to “my daughter,” rather than “my oldest daughter,” as if you have only one. Regular readers know who you mean, of course, and no harm done. But when your little one can read, this can be hurtful even though you didn’t mean it to be.

  • Jenn - Just curious, how does your puppy handle the kids playing? We got a puppy before Christmas and we are still having a hard time handling his snipping -especially when my kids are playing together. He means no harm but doesn’t get that he can’t play with his mouth.

  • Emily - Your photos are so beautiful. And your struggle is something we have in common. I was challenged to take 63 days off of Facebook. Instead of spending the first moments of my day checking to see what everyone else was doing, I spent that time reading my Bible app. It was so refreshing! I’m back on FB again, but I seem to have a better perspective. I know that even when I’m looking at someone’s beautiful photos, it doesn’t mean their life is perfect. We are all struggling! Have a great day!

  • Juice - I keep this quote on my bathroom mirror: Comparison is the thief of all joy. It helps me remember to stop looking at what others are doing (or looking like!) and to focus on being grateful for what I have. It helps me to see that quote every day! :)

  • Kate S. - The best part of this post is the puppy ears!

  • susie - It’s hard enough to have a content life when it is private.. I can imagine it is hard when you have your life on the internet and get comments on everything you write, even if they are trying to be polite like the comment from Marianne (a few before me) who like to leave hints!! I was going to leave a different comment till I read hers and that would bother me about having a conversation ‘with your daughter’ and someone thinks your leaving out the other one!
    The other day someone came to visit in my home and started leaving all sorts of unsolicited advice on parenting and housekeeping- it made me more yucky then I realized. After getting a work out in I realized how she made me feel- and when she calls all the time to come for coffee and sauna, i might have to limit have to start saying no!
    I enjoy reading your blog because you always portray a positive attitude and it is contagious! I think reading you blog every day helps me see more positive things in my own motherhood- so thanks!

  • Elizabeth - This is uncanny … We also have five kiddos (3 boys and 2 girls, aged 8 and younger), and I am struggling to see beyond the tip of my nose these days. Just yesterday, I sat down and made a list of what makes me unhappy and then … A list of what makes me HAPPY.

    While I can’t say that the exercise was insert a cure-all, but it certainly provided me with the option to look forward to certain elements that bring me joy in life. That said, I always need a boost in January — the post-holiday doldrums, tons of stuff piled everywhere, and cold weather are my nemesis. But, I vowed to defeat those things that sap my happiness, and to enjoy this season. Well, perhaps not the weather per se, but this season of young children and all of their beautiful messes (and noise! ;)

  • Carrie - Oh, so true! Right there with you! Thank you for your encouraging words – when I read your blog and think you are one of those women loving every single minute of it with pure bliss encompassing your days, I can remember that we all struggle and have to be purposeful in choosing and claiming the joy. Well done! Just as God can turn our mourning into dancing, He can help us see the “yummy” in our “yucky”. :)

  • Heather - lol I always think that you have the perfect life. Those noisy boys? sounds like Heaven, doesn’t it? Enjoy the chaos (I know you do) they grow up so fast.

  • Amy K. - I regularly dream about the day when my house is quiet again, and I can start a project & finish it on my timeline, and then I want to cry, because I’m pretty sure these days of crazy noise & little room to stop & think are the very happiest of my life!

  • AshleyAnn - Carrie – “see the yummy in our yucky”…love that!

  • AshleyAnn - Elizabeth – After reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts…I’ve been keeping that list too :)

  • Emily - So I’m very interested in the idea of this list. are you going to post it somewhere, or just keep it easily reachable…? I’m just feeling…blah…lately and I feel like a couple of lists – the yummy and the yucky (after reading comments – i like those as dual lists) can help me push through that. But I’m not sure what to do after they’ve been written….hm….

  • the inadvertent farmer - As a mama of 4 boys I totally understand. My husband looked at me last weekend when the youngest boy was being especially loud and the only girl was singing at the top of her lungs to Jamie Grace. He said “Honey I would go nuts if I had to listen to this all day every day.” I listened for a minute and told him in all honesty that it is when it is quite that I worry and wonder. What is funny is that he works around VERY loud machinery all day…that would drive me crazy! Guess we all have different background noise that is the soundtrack of our lives.

    As for what makes me feel yucky: Too little exercise, too much time on the computer, not enough time with the Lord, and not remembering to take a shower!

    And recently…daily radiation for breast cancer, that makes me feel yucky physically. Then again what makes your body feel yucky can also make your heart soar, yes cancer can be a gift that God uses to reorganize and prioritize your life!

    So my advice it to either change what makes you feel yucky, or learn to let go of expectations. Remember what is easy for one (a calm clean house for example) is not the way we are all wired…some of us need a little noise and chaos to really live life! As always I love your honesty in sharing your heart. Kim

  • sophia - This is random and, to many, trivial, but looking at these pics made me wonder how you go about the daily getting-ready. Maybe your kids just wake up and get dressed on their own or maybe you don’t really care whether they do or not (although they do seem to be dressed in all your posts:)). That part of my day is typically one of my joy-stealers– trying to get all 4 girls to the bathroom for hair and teeth while it’s still actually morning, and without having to throw out ultimatums. Tips on kicking this thief to the curb?

  • shauna - I know just what you mean.
    i do love quiet moments.
    but if can figure out how to find peace in the chaos somehow, you are in for a rough time.
    figuring that out just can’t come easy.
    your own hard and fast expectations have to be slowly squeezed out of you.
    i just love ya friend.
    good job choosing joy over the screams and frolicking and probably sword fighting and pillow fights.
    one of these days we are gonna meet.
    i am working my way slowly toward your neck of the woods…

  • Elisha - I know that “yucky” bottom of your stomach feeling….. the feeling that comes out of no where and can consume me while I try and pinpoint what it is. Most of the time it is a feeling of inadequacy derived from focusing on others. Thankfully as I am getting older I am learning to pinpoint the cause and refocus on what I have and what is important to me.

  • danielle - People always see others highlight reel. I try to get my friends to understand that as well. Even if I am better at one thing they are probably better at another. We all have our gifts. Some people are a lot better at keeping a clean home than I am. I am okay with that :) Maybe they do not like to climb mountains like I do. Your creativity is inspiring. Good luck on the bedroom. Not sure how I would handle that one… I always tell people boys were meant for the outdoors. They fit perfectly into the woods, not so much inside :)

  • Jennifer - God is really showing me in 2015 how I need to take this year as a time to focus on me, to cut me some slack and to really find out who I am. I often wonder if anyone else’s house can possibly get as messy as mine on a continuous basis… seriously, why do I even try to clean when in five minutes time, you can’t tell it at all. I’m so thankful when bloggers like yourself share how real your life is and make someone like me feel like they’re not alone in the daily chaos. I let comparison rob me of my joy so very often. Thank you for this sweet reminder not to do that, to focus on the yummy and not the yucky. I’m also counting 1000 gifts this year!

  • Jennifer - Oh, and go read Ann Voskamp’s guest post by Sally Clarkson today.


    You’ll me like me, glad you did. :-) Your house is truly a home and your people are just that, your people. Dwelling on that will keep all the yucky at bay.

  • Alycia Quiltygirl - I think the tranquility comes sometimes ( only sometimes) when they sleep lol ;-)

    Good for you for talking with your daughter – hope the yuckkis go away

  • Ashley - I can so relate to this. I love that you are listing the robbers. It seems so wise. I too understand the loudness factor and learning to function in it. We just have 3 but our two buys (7 and 5) are some of the most high energy boys I know! Our little two year old sweet girl has a bold personality as well. We are living in a small apartment with not much of our stuff for the month while my husband does an away rotation. Being confined and homeschooling makes the noise seem louder-or maybe it is! I just started your snapshot course so you will likely see pictures of the rowdiness in a few weeks ;)

  • jenny - i think you are one of those mom’s who has it completely put together… where i often ask myself “how does she do it?” i was surprised that you can have those same feelings… well… similar ones anyway :) but i should’ve known… i have been blogging long enough to know the truth. luckily for me when i see a blog like yours or a person like you… i don’t feel like i’m not enough… i just feel really inspired… by all of your lovely thoughts and ideas. thank you for sharing.

  • jami nato - why do we think this? it’s almost hysterical how we make ourselves to be the only one who can’t maintain a quiet household…or obedient children…or a clean house…or insert your “issue” . and the funny thing is, we are all struggling! with all the same things! one way or another.

    anyway. you’re a good mom. and when you’re not, God is enough. his grace is sufficient for you but it’s also sufficient for your kids. i have to repeat that to myself when i’m feeling i’m not enough.


  • Kara M - I heard a great quote the other day: Comparison will consistently cloud the clarity of God’s call on your life! (Love that)

  • Diana - I LOVE this idea. Really makes me think a lot, how to avoid those “yucky” feelings and stay happy. Thank you!!

  • nadya kotik - you are such a great mom to hoose homeschooling! you work hard. i think most of problems we humans have come from believeing in enemy’s lies. He is a good lier but we can fill our mind with God’s truth! like I am enough! I love God and I am loved by God therefore I am successful. He is all that matters!

Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to learn more about the video function of my camera. When I say ‘learn more’…it is more like learn anything other than just hit record! My friend Amy has been giving me a few pointers, but really I am just playing and experimenting right now. Over the weekend, the boys were all busy playing with friends. The girls wanted to do something fun too, so we made a Girl Band video. They are always up for singing and playing guitar, so it was an easy way for me to practice with video. Maybe one day I’ll get the video edited, but for now here are a few pics from our recording. We decorated the wall to make it more fun.

ISO 320, 1/200, f/2.8

1.15dance-01ISO 200, 1/200, f/2.81.15dance-02ISO 320, 1/160, f/2.81.15dance-03ISO 320, 1/200, f/2.8 both1.15dance-04This will be the cover for her first album. ISO 320, 1/200, f/2.81.15dance-06ISO 320, 1/160, f/2.81.15dance-07ISO 320, 1/200, f/2.81.15dance-08ISO 320, 1/200, f/2.81.15dance-09

I foresee more music videos in our future. If I ever get it all figured out on the editing and posting end, I’ll share one.

If you have any favorite video tips, classes, websites, etc…I would love to hear them!

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  • Diana - I absolutely love your gorgeous photography and gorgeous family and look forward to your blog posts everyday

  • cindy - ho hints, but i can share a video i did of my son on april fools day a few years ago….



  • Tiffany - Great pics, what song? Music is good for the soul, helps when u need a mood changer too.

  • Katie Moody - I just started teaching Video Editing this year, and I totally love it. That would be the most fun footage ever to work with.

    What program(s) do you have for editing?

  • Debbie - Adorable!!! Priceless photos….gorgeous photos. Great backdrop!

  • Cindy McAllister - Very cute photos. Did you make the pillow that says “Our House is a Very Very Very Fine House?”

  • suzy - What a great idea! My boys go on so many adventures together, and I try to find fun things for my daughter and I to do, but this might be good to do together!

  • christina larsen - Oh my goodness! That is too cute!

  • Susan - Firecracker and the Bottle Rocket! Beautiful fun!

  • Carrie // cue the confetti - Stop. This is too cute!!!!!

  • Marilyn - How do you get the photos off the video? And then can you edit them too?

  • elizabeth - i have fond memories of making music videos with my sister back in the day. thanks for posting this as a reminder. great pics, beautiful girls!

  • Diana - I love that Little One is using a Guitar Hero guitar. =)

  • Kristen - So good how God works. I started following (and loving) your blog before you adopted and would read about the surgeries and food struggles. At the time I enjoyed the glimpse into your life and now I find myself referring back to those posts often for encouragement. We began fostering in July and our little one has severe oral aversion and eating is a daily roller coaster and adventure. Just wanted to say thank you for being open and honest. I didn’t know then how much I would one day be able to relate.

  • bek - I have been trying to figure out the video functions on my camera as well! I always have a hard time getting it to stay in focus. I’ll be very interesting in hearing any tips you hear or end up having! you’re the best!

  • danielle - Adorable! My husband is always encouraging me to shoot more video. I am still in the learning phase though so I am not much help :)

  • Jack - Oh those are amazing photos! Can’t wait to see the music videos. Have your girls discovered the ‘Video Star’ app yet? My two spend hours making their own music videos with it. (Although it would totally defeat the purpose of you getting more practice with your video cam.)

  • Jack - Oh and Xanthe Berkeley’s Creating Time Capsules class is excellent: http://www.xantheberkeley.com/creating-time-capsules/

  • Jenni - Ashley, I love that you are trying to video component on your camera! I have been playing with mine for a while and love the picture you can get from it (although focusing can be tricky sometimes) I have made the majority of our last 2 Christmas videos with a dslr.

  • AshleyAnn - Kristen – oral aversions are so hard to walk through daily sometimes…hang in there!!

  • AshleyAnn - Marilyn – these were actual pictures. The girls can sing and dance for A LONG TIME. I got video and then switched over to get some pictures too.

  • AshleyAnn - Cindy – it is by http://www.passivejuicemotel.com/

  • AshleyAnn - Katie – I haven’t got that far! iMovie for now!

  • AshleyAnn - Tiffany – usually it is ones that make up…changes often :)

  • AshleyAnn - Thanks Jack – that class looks so good, I’m going to look into it more!

  • Laura - I’m hoping to shoot more video this year too — if you find fantastic beginner tips, tell us! :) Your photos are AMAZING. Love these two! And the backdrop!!!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I can’t wait to see a video! :)

  • meg duerksen - the one picture where Older is pointing to Younger i said to myself “Take it away Sister” :) Ha ha ha
    this is pretty rad.
    and so are you.
    and you are kind of mean to not post a video of any noise at all.
    because i KNOW this was a loud awesome jam session.
    we don’t care about editing. just sound.

    and on the third to last one is where she smashes her guitar on stage like all famous rock stars.

  • Debbie C - This is awesome. Firecracker has her Rock Star faces down! Girl must practice a lot. ;D

  • Susan - Wondering if you wouldn’t mind providing the name of the person who designed your blog? I need a major redo.

  • Jen - I need to her the vocals accompanying these super cute photos! Love Firecracker’s hair.

  • Emily - I love this! So fabulous :-)

  • Allison - one of your best posts (and set of photos) ever!

  • Stephanie - Cutest Girl Band ever! They totally ROCK! … and so do your photos! This post put a big smile on my face. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kara M - I think this is your most delightful post ever! So sweet!

  • AshleyAnn - Kara – love that quote! Thanks for sharing it!