My dad should open a restaurant, so should my sister.

Come to think of it – they should do that together. In all their spare time.

Truly though, my dad and sister are creative chefs. Don’t worry my mom is not offended by this post – cooking isn’t her favorite, her talents span a million other things. I’m not a talented or creative chef, but I can follow a recipe.

I enjoy cooking – more now than when my kids were younger. I definitely enjoy it more now that our daily pace is a slower (homeschooling) and the kids can easily help out.

1.15cooking-011.15cooking-02We eat 3 meals at home basically 7 days a week. Restaurants are a bit expensive for a family of 7 – 3 of which are growing boys that eat more than adult men! I do a lot of cooking and really don’t like to use anything processed. I am constantly looking to learn new tricks, favorite recipes and such of other moms that are doing a lot of home cooking. So, I thought I’d share something we’ve been doing for about a year now.

I know a lot of families like to meal plan far in advance, but that just doesn’t fit for us. I like to plan weekly and I really like trying new recipes. I also want my kids to learn to really cook before they move out one day. As a result, we have a long list of family favorites, but I also enlist one kid a week to pick a new meal and help cook it. I have a bunch of cookbooks that they can choose from – Pioneer Woman’s cookbook doesn’t quite fit with the rest, but…I like butter. And she’s a fellow Okie.

1.15cooking-03This week my 6 year old picked out Shaved Asparagus Pizza from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. The picture made it look delicious – YAY for great photography!1.15cooking-041.15cooking-051.15cooking-07He helped make everything. We sat down at the dinner table. Before he even took a bite he said, “This is so good!”1.15cooking-08I probably wouldn’t have picked asparagus pizza on my own.

I’m going to get details wrong here, but just go with it. About 8+ years ago I saw an episode of Oprah that featured a mom and her chef sons. All the boys were phenomenal cooks. The mom told Oprah about how she taught them to cook at an early age. Each week a different son was in charge of a meal. Eventually the boys started doing the meal planning and shopping – always learning more and trying new things in an effort to out-do each other. Basically, they competed to create the best meals and the mom got to eat all those delicious meals.

She was a genius.

I’m working towards that….one asparagus pizza at a time.

***What are your favorite tips, tricks and recipes regarding home cooking with and for kids?

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  • Jen L. - Our new favorite family recipe is this one from Against All Grain. We’ve made it several times and it has always come out delicious for our family. It’s one of those recipes where you don’t have to alter a thing. We purchase our pork tenderloins at Trader Joe’s. They are so economical there for that cut of meat. We also double the recipe for our family of three and have just a touch leftover.

    http://againstallgrain.com/2014/05/09/paleo-glazed-pork-tenderloin/

    I also am a big fan of starting kids of with a crinkle cutter (instead of a knife) until they get the hang of it. Then, transitioning into a real knife and teaching how to properly hold it, curl the fingers of your other hand under, etc.

    Fun post, Ashley.

    Jen

  • Jacqueline - Mexican pizza – a tortilla with guacamole, then chicken (stretches the meat a long way), beans, cheese, corn, tomatoes, whatever. A drizzle of sour cream to top it off. use different size tortillas for smaller/bigger kids.

  • danielle - Thanks for the encouragment. I do good for a short time and then fall off the wagon. I really want my boys to help cook but it can be hard sometimes. Especially since I ruin recipes if I have any distractions. It is a lot easier for me to just have them go at it and ask me questions instead but that really limits what they can make. I am going to give it another go though!

  • Meredith N. - I love this idea of having the kids choose a recipe to be in charge of. Kids should definitely be in the kitchen from a young age. I also know too many men my age who don’t know how to cook. I think it’s great that your boys especially are learning!

  • Diana - SK’s asparagus pizza is sooo good! Love the idea of cultivating youn cooks. It surely helps them to be more adventurous eaters as well.

  • Debbie - Yes! Teach them to cook while they are young and they will treasure the memories and have a great skill!

  • Maureen - Hi Ashley! I have to put a “plug” in for a college friend of mine. Her website has tons of healthy recipes and her cookbook has been on the best seller list. Great tips for eating non-processed foods. She is Lisa Leake athttp://www.100daysofrealfood.com/

  • Lakmali - Cool idea!!!!!!!!

  • Tiffany - I’m a vague planner, ie. M:soup, T:tacos, W: hot sandwiches, etc. This way we can mix it up, but it’s also routinish. It worked really great in the Summer/Fall but I haven’t been able to perfect it this Winter, but I haven’t given up. This went over suprisingly well this week. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-corn-chowder/detail.aspx

  • molly - this is great! we have had our girls in the kitchen baking and cooking as much as they have wanted to be in there. we have always thought it was important to let them help and get comfortable in the kitchen. i love your idea of letting them pick and plan a meal. my big girls (10 & 7) would be all about this. i am going to have to do that. thanks for sharing!

  • Jody - I think u rock. Thanks for this idea. LOVE it. Starting it this weekend w my four boys!!

  • Kari - Your story about the chef sons reminded me of Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn, which is easily the prettiest cookbook I own. She said something similar about her boys–makes me wonder if they’re the same mom.

  • Big D & Me - I have the kids cook during the summer when our pace is a lot slower. Each week each child (3 kids total) chooses a meal for the family to cook – main w/sides – and they are in charge of making sure everything is on the grocery list for that week. Then when it’s their turn to cook dinner with me they help with everything. They don’t choose difficult items yet but they have made their own meatballs, mac n cheese, and calzones

    - http://www.bigdandme.com/2013/07/what-my-boys-are-cooking/

    Have a great weekend – Jennifer

  • Christin - Love this post! Love the schedule of how to get the kids in the kitchen. I’ll be starting that this week! I live in Tulsa and have 3 boys. I was just wondering where you shop or how you keep the grocery bill down? Thank you!

  • Melissa - I too only plan a week at a time and love trying new things. We have themed nights at our house to help with the planning…http://www.uniquelyhis-blog.com/?p=375

  • alix - I can’t keep my now 3 year old out of the kitchen. It has been his passion for about a year now. Let me tell you cooking every meal with a two year old is not easy. Especially when he thinks he is in charge. But we have done it. He is pretty good little sous chef now and I enjoy his help in the kitchen. For chirstmas we got a bunch of recipe cards with picture instructions on them. He brings me a card and then pretty much does all the work. Those were a fun find.
    Cooking with my 6 year old has also help my picky eater. When he decides then he wants to eat it.

  • Erica - This is a great post! I love getting the kids in the kitchen early. My kiddo is just about to turn one but I already like to keep him on my hip in the kitchen (as I safely can). He is super curious! Another inspiring blogger for getting the kids in the kitchen is Aimee from simplebites.net.

  • Diana - I LOVE that getting your kids to love and take enough pride in their cooking that they compete to make the best meals! That is awesome. Our son isn’t even 2 so we are a ways off from getting him to cook for us but something to remember!

  • Erin - After struggling with meals – not a huge fan of cooking – I finally found an inexpensive meal plan that works so well for us. Every week, I’m emailed a list of 5 dinner recipes (main meal with sides) and the coordinating grocery list. I tend to make some minor adjustments, but having the meals chosen for me and organized for shopping is amazing! All I have to worry about is following the recipes and making the meals each night. We are eating things I never would have tried on my own. I’ve been doing it for 6 months now and have only had 1 or 2 meals we didn’t like. The website for the plan we use is nomoretogo.com, but I purchased it through amazon local. I cannot say enough wonderful things about it!

  • Michelle Naomi - We don’t have kids but we try to cook and eat at home 6 nights a week with breakfast and lunch almost always at home. That asparagus pizza is one of my favorite recipes from Smitten Kitchen. I do remember my mom always encouraging us to help out in the kitchen from a young age and I think that’s part of the reason I love to cook oh so much.

  • Katrina - I couldn’t agree more with starting the kids out in the kitchen! When my big boys were in middle school they would each make dinner once a week. At first I would be there helping and giving instructions. After a couple months they were able to take over and I was just on hand to answer a question or keep them moving things along on time. I am really glad we did this with them then, because since they have started high school, they just don’t have the extra time to do this nowadays.
    My littler guys love to mix batter for pancakes or muffins too. Wonderful life skill to teach the kiddos! Good job Mama!

  • Jen - You are simply amazing : )

    nuff said!

    Hugs…

  • Cris - You are doing a great job. I’ve been a homeschooling mom for 25 years. :) Just an idea……… for the next step have your older ones figure out how much the total cost of the meal is and cost per serving. If anyone goes to the grocery with you have them do some head math as you go. I love real life education!

  • Candy - So wonderful! My husband has allowed our daughter much more creativity in the kitchen, as I have always been more on the cautious side. They once did a mock “Bobby Flay Throw Down” with Grilled Cheese- starting at the grocery store to pick their own ingredients- so fun. Our go-to is usually some type of pita pizza… they make the sauce and have a variety of toppings, but the main ingredient, they will say, is Love. :)

  • Eva - I think it’s great your kids are already helping with dinner. Mine are still mostly sideline observers for dinner. I guess that’s because making sandwiches for lunch and quick breads for baking eliminate the need for using the cooktop or oven. Looks like I just need to set aside any irrational fears there, like when my son suggested using the oven mitt to give the pasta a stir because of the steam being too hot. Now, why didn’t I think of that? lol Anyway, thanks for the motivation to get them on the dinner prep rotation now. ;)

  • jesse - I am fairly new to this beautiful blog so maybe I have missed a post. But do all your children eat what you cook? I find there is always half that complain and are displeased…is there a trick to deal with that? I love the idea of having them pick a recipe though. That is good. Thank you.

  • kelly - Love this! We menu plan a week at a time and get our three young boys (3, 5 & 7) involved in the choosing of meals and the cooking! We started a recipe blog about 5 years ago to document our meals and serve as inspiration. Our kids most favorite dinner by far is potato kale soup! http://wholesomedinnertonight.blogspot.com/2012/09/potato-kale-soup-gluten-free.html Taco night is a simple one that gets everyone involved. My 7 year old browns the meat and cooks the tortillas, my 5 year old makes fresh guacamole and my 3 year old chops lettuce with his kid-friendly Little Chef knife. My husband and his three brothers are amazing cooks and it’s our goal to instill a love of quality food and cooking in our boys. Thanks for sharing!!

  • amber - Oh man, that mom was a genius…or really, really lucky!! Also. I love PW. Her stuff is usually really easy & so yummy. I should look into your healthier options up there…I love butter too much these days. Lol!! Thanks for giving me the hope of enjoying cooking one day…right now, I’d rather just feed everyone frozen pizza everyday to skip out on the craziness that surrounds cooking! Ha!

  • Emily - We have SO MANY COOKBOOKS – I let the boys flip through and pick things that look good and then they help measure and stir, etc. (my oldest is a bit younger than Firecracker).

    If you’re wanting to encourage some creativity – pick up a copy of the Flavor Bible. It’s purely reference – a fairly comprehensive pairings of what flavors match up. I’m not describing it well, but it’s one of the first cookbooks I always make a point of checking when I’ve got an ingredient I’m not sure what to do with.

    Also – while I’m recommending books – Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton is hilarious. And his recipe for bibimbap is divine.

    Happy Cooking!

  • lindsey - We eat this recipe about twice a week lately: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/05/chicken-tomato-sauce-chickpeas-kale.html

    It’s great! and really easy to substitute different meat options or different types of canned tomatoes (crushed, whole, diced, we’ve used them all and they are all good). We have also used pork chops, chicken thighs, sausage or a combo and great northern beans instead of chick peas. And I generally only use onions instead of the shallots because we never have them. I don’t care for the bread crumbs so we skip that part all together.

    AND I like the kale cooked more so I let it simmer for a bit.

    I think it would be a good kind recipe, lots of opening and dumping cans. And you could cut the kale with scissors or have them tear it to bits.

  • christina larsen - I love to cook and we hardly ever go out to eat. I have tons of recipe books that I love to read like novels. I always tweak the recipes in some way or another. I also have a huge 4″ binder that holds recipes that we use more frequently or are print outs of recipes from online that I want to try. I usually ask the kids weekly what they want on the menu. I have tried to have the kids plan and prepare, but at the time I tried…they were busy, and it was inconsistent. Maybe I need to reinstate that plan.

  • MC - We love the books by Jennifer Low. She doesn’t use the stove top or sharp knives, so they are really good to use with young kids. (And the photographs in the books are very pretty).

  • Ashley - LOVE LOVE LOVE this post Ashley!!! My goal too is to have all of my kids cooking by the time they leave my house. My mom raised all five of us this way and I love that my two very masculine brothers know how to make a delicious meal complete with dessert:) I’m like you, we meal plan once a week. I haven’t tried a few of the cookbooks that you recommended…adding them to my list. LOVE gwyneth’s!!!
    I know in the past you haven’t written anything about your homeschool curriculum of choice. But would LOVE to pick your brain on what y’all are using. We ventured out to public school this year and it has been good. But the schedule and how much time is wasted is killing me! So back to homeschooling we go next year…for the long haul:) Hope y’all have had a great weekend!

  • Gail - When I was growing up, my mom would have my sisters and my favourite recipes write out our favourite tried and true recipes on recipe cards or in a recipe book. I still use some of these classics and it reminds me of making the recipe initially 40 yrs ago!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness – this is brilliant. I so need to start this asap!! :)

  • Jennifer - Love this idea and am planning to be more diligent in get my kids involved with the planning and prepping/cooking of our meals. But I have to ask, how was the pizza? It seems like such a unique combination, something I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try, but my husband loves asparagus so I’m curious was it something you’d make again?

  • Julie B - My favorite tip is first teach them to stir. My kids can stir like nobody’s business! They all learned what not to touch and how to hold the handle and such. Teaching them to follow the directions in the recipe and making sure we have all of the ingredients first is such a great life lesson! My daughters and I watch Martha Bakes, we ooohhh and aahhhh together. My oldest girl is just getting started on her very own food blog because she loves it so much. I think never being afraid to try something new and involving them all the time is really the key!

  • Michelle H. - ~. TIP ~ whenever a recipe calls for shredded chicken, your KitchenAid mixer with the paddle atrachment is perfect! After cooking the chicken breasts & letting them rest, I put them in the mixing bowl and start out on low ~ or 1 ~ i then increase the speed & shred until the chicken is shredded to my liking. ;-) No sharp utensils involved. ;-)

  • AshleyAnn - Jennifer – we all really liked it and will definitely be making it again!

  • Meredith - Ashley,
    I save your site for when I have a good chunk of time, or when I’m feeling a bit blue and need a pick me up. Your energy, passion, kindness and authenticity always makes me feel lighter — and you always remind me of what is important in our everyday lives (family, health, love….).

    So, thank you.

    But also, I wanted to comment on your picture of cookbooks because I am friends with Melissa Joulwan, the author or WELL FED. I thought you’d like to know that she is an amazing woman — creative and all around awesome. I’m going to let her know you have her cookbook on hand!

    I wish you all the best. We are in the midst of a snowstorm here in NYC. My 7 year old boy is so excited because school has been cancelled tomorrow!

    Warmly,
    Meredith

  • Tracy R. - Hi Ashley! I loved that you visited cooking in the home. We too, rarely eat out and we prepare all our meals. I feel like I spend 80% of my life in the kitchen. So any fresh ideas are welcome. I loved seeing your library of cookbooks! I am excited to explore them. And, we love asparagus! I am def going to try the pizza. One tip I found that is helpful is if I am in the kitchen dedicated to cooking, I usually try to multi task. For instance, cook something on the stovetop, put something quick and easy thing into the crockpot and MAYBE bake something simple or put something in the dehydrator. It is nice if I am in the kitchen to use more than one appliance and keep going! Then maybe I will be able to catch a break from the kitchen! My girls really like to make homemade spice mixes and homemade salad dressings and it really gets them comfortable with measurement. For example, we make our own seasoned salt. taco seasoning and ranch powder. They think the homemade spice mixes and dressing taste better than store bought/premade versions so they are quick to help!

  • Melissa Joulwan - Your blog post was forwarded to me by a friend who’s a fan of yours… I’m delighted to see my cookbook Well Fed in that stack, and with such good company, too! I hope you enjoy the recipes in Well Fed. They’re what I feed our little family (just my husband and me) every day. Happy cooking to you and your wee ones!

  • Traci - That mom from Oprah needs a blog!

    Have you read the “Dinner: A Love Story” blog and cookbook? It’s very inspiring for family meals and lots of great recipes.

A book and food – two things that cause my oldest to enter his own world, not to be distracted by anyone or anything. I love his hunger to learn, but his physical hunger is taking a toll on the grocery bill!  On this particular morning, I found him eating his second breakfast in a t-shirt he stole from my closet. Watching him, it was a little bewildering that he was so big. And can EAT SO MUCH. Most days I don’t find myself wanting to freeze time. I love the different growing up stages and truly look forward to what is ahead. However, there are other days it does feel like this growing up business is happening too fast.

1.15oneday-011.15oneday-03

One day at a time.

My sister surprised me yesterday with a print that she collaborated on with Cole Franke. Those 5 simple words are such a great reminder to me on difficult days, but also just for life in general. This parenting, homeschooling, working, life – one day at a time.

1.15oneday-041.15oneday-05Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus

And tomorrow may never be mine

Lord, help me today, show me the way

One day at a time

~ Christy Lane, One Day At A Time

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  • JoniBug - I love it! One day at a time. Where can we purchase one?

  • heather - This post and the one a few months ago about your oldest at breakfast time bring an instant tear to my eye. It’s so beautiful the way you capture things with your camera and your words. Mine too are growing too fast, though I love every stage. Thank you for starting every day with something beautiful.

  • Kathy - I so enjoy reading your blog! Today’s caught my eye in a special way because we have 3 sons and a daughter, older than your children, and our youngest son who is 13 is going through a growth spurt, eating an unbelievable amount of food! When our oldest son started this phase, I found a great book that has helped me, especially since I grew up with sisters and had no idea how growing boys could eat/needed to eat. HOW TO FEED A TEENAGE BOY Recipes and Strategies by Georgia Orcutt This resource has proved helpful to me and may be of use to you, too, as you begin to enter these
    amazing years with your sons. :)

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - Can I have those kitchen table chairs, pleeeeeease??? Love the print too!

  • AshleyAnn - JoniBug – click on either of their names above and it links to their shops

  • AshleyAnn - Thanks Kathy!

  • AshleyAnn - Amy – I’m keeping them….Merry Christmas to me from my parents :)

  • Jaime - I spy new chairs! Very cute!

  • Susie - That’s my boy too- I gave up on packing a lunch for school- it’s cheaper for him to eat lunch there than to buy enough to pack! He will eat anything though- so that’s good! Not at all fussy.

  • danielle - I am enjoying the different stages as well. Beautiful.

  • Jenny B. - I love your chairs too! :) Can you share where they came from? I’ve found similar ones, but not with the wooden seat. The print is beautiful. I had to go read the description on Lesley’s site to figure out if the flowers were actually on there or if they were part of the print. :)

  • christina larsen - I can totally relate to the eating a bunch. My 13 yr old is constantly hungry. My grocery bill is in trouble.

  • Kristin Cioffi - Wait until your oldest starts sprouting hair everywhere! =) J is 12 now & every morning I could swear he’s grown another few inches taller – He’s already at least 2 inches above me. It’s truly amazing how it all happens so quickly.

  • Julie B - Last night at Target I had to buy my oldest jeans from the mens department :(. I love that he is a tall kid, but it makes me feel so old!!

  • rhonda - That print is fantastic! I love it!! And the sentiment behind it.
    My oldest is 12 now and over 5 feet tall…. is really strange to realize your children are getting to be REAL people.

  • Diana - So important to remember. I can get through pretty much anything, one day at a time.

  • amber - Oh man, such a great reminder. One day. This day, is what matters. Now to remember that…

  • heather McDonald - Thank you! Thank you! Love this reminder and the quote at the end. A reminder for us all.

  • gina - What a sweet sister you have! And 2nd breakfast + a book sound kind of dreamy (and Hobbit-ish). My oldest is growing quickly, too. (I have to admit it might be kind of fun when we can share shoes. But kid please, SLOW DOWN!)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love that print!! I just ordered it to go above the bench in the kitchen.

  • Rochelle - So beautiful!

  • Nancy - Would also love to know where those cute chairs are from :)

  • PegMc - Hello, may I ask where those stools that your son is sitting on are from? They look like they fold? Love your blog!

  • Karina Westrate - I love that reminder of taking it one day at a time! I have not visited your blog in so long and what a beautiful family you have! I too have three boys and Lord willing we will adopt in the future. I too am adopted and have seen God work through adoption in a lot of ways! Anyways, beautiful and thank you for the great reminder! Blessings

  • Brittney - I absolutely adore your blog and your pictures and your family and your life. Thanks for sharing. I just wanted to pop by quick and let you know I’m stalking you, in the most uncreepy way possible. :)

Constantly talking about ice skating, our oldest daughter has been dreaming of getting on the ice for the first time. The other kids weren’t interested, so Chris and I planned a special night just for her. We took her to dinner and told her a big surprise was in store for her. Next, Chris began telling her about an outdoor ice skating rink and how her dream was about to come true. We were going ice skating!

I’ll treasure this picture…

1.15skate-07While downloading pictures from the night, I thought it might make for a good little photo tip post. So here goes…

When we arrived at the restaurant, we chose a table near the windows. I knew going into the night that I wanted to capture her reaction to the surprise news. As we began to sit down, I pulled out a chair for her that was opposite the windows. I sat with the windows to my back. The sun was quickly setting, so I was hoping to get as much light on  her face as possible. Also, the seat I picked for her meant there wouldn’t be strangers in the background of my image.

I thought through all this in a matter of seconds as we approached the table. She and Chris just followed my lead, unaware I was picking seats based on a goal to get light for a photo.

As we began munching on chips and salsa, I got out my camera to pick out my settings. It was pretty dark. The shot below is a sample of one of my practice shots while I was playing with settings.
1.15skate-01As I was playing, the shades covering the windows suddenly lifted and I might have let out a squeal. I adjusted my settings to ISO 2000, 1/125, f/1.8. She was distracted and didn’t even notice my camera.1.15skate-02Once I was ready, I nodded to Chris and he began telling her the surprise news. I was able to capture a series of photos that tell the story of her delight.1.15skate-031.15skate-041.15skate-051.15skate-061.15skate-071.15skate-08

Sometimes capturing a moment just takes a little thought beforehand. It doesn’t have to take tons of time, but if you can make the most of lighting and take 20 seconds to pick your camera settings first, the results are often worth it.

We finished dinner and headed to the rink, where her daddy took her hand on the ice and her dream came true. I think his might have too.1.15skate-10She fully believed she would step on that ice and be able to spin and twirl on her own. Instead, she learned sometimes things are much harder than they look and sometimes daddy’s arms are not only safer, but more fun.1.15skate-11Before the night ended, she stood on her with her daddy close by if she fell.1.15skate-121.15skate-13I wore my mom’s ice skates from the 70s. I made it one lap around the rink,  holding the wall the whole time. I needed someone to catch me if I fell. So, I put my boots back on and did what I love – I watched them dance.

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  • Reesa - Love watching her little face light up! Great job, Mom and Dad!!!

  • kristin - wow. i love that you guys were able to bring a dream into action. AND that it was still a great experience even though it wasn’t an easy reality to skate. :) i remember my first time, and i have a diary entry to go with it (a lot of unnecessary bragging about how many falls i had).
    my heart leaps for joy at these ideas. we need to get together a group of people to watch the kids we have so we can do these things. i usually send my husband out to do the adventures with the kids and i stay home. this would be SO much fun.

  • carol - Those skates hold a lot of memories. I remember skating at the fairgrounds thinking in my mind that I was an olympic skater!

  • Meg - Beautiful post. I appreciate that you took the time to explain that these beautiful candid photos that you share take a little bit of planning. :)

  • grandma - Great pictures its fun to be in on the action she will do great wait until next year

  • Melissa - ok, those pictures gave me cold chills! Those pics are sweetest thing I’ve seen in a long time! Love your posts, and have loved your blog for such a long time! Thanks for the great tips!

  • Monique - I saw this on Instagram and thought, “Of course! Figure skating! That’s the perfect sport for her!” I thought at the time you’d surprised her with skating lessons, but a date with mom and dad and learning to skate in daddy’s arms is WAY better. I figure skated for 8 years as a kid and it was my love. I’ve never felt so free as I do on the ice. If you have a rink nearby that offers lessons, and if Firecracker loved it, I think she’s the perfect candidate for a figure skater. Your family’s athleticism, her spunk, a grandma who could probably make killer costumes, her love for twirling and the spotlight… she’d have it made :)

  • Julie - What a feel good post! Thank you for brightening my morning. As a childless old lady ;^) it’s fun to enjoy these moments with your kids, so beautifully captured. Each new post feels like a little present to open.

  • Erica - Oh, I just love this post! From the practical app to the sweet story of desires fulfilled (how could I not laugh and smile at the joy on Firecracker’s face?) and finally to the last line, you watching them dance because you love it. So precious!

  • Maria - She is such a beautiful girl with wonderful expressions! Glad you all had fun!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I just love this!!!

  • Lakmali - wonderful!!!!!!! you guys know how to light up a kid’s dream!!!! <3

  • Heather - One of my favorite posts that you have written! You have such a gift with words and photography-thank you for sharing ????

  • Katie B - Such a beautiful post…photos, story, everything! What fun for Firecracker (and you parents)!

  • nicci - Seriously – Pretty much you are the coolest parents ever even though you have so many little ones, you make sure you take care of each one individually! And you have these wonderful moments recorded!!! Thanks for the puddle of tears! ;)

  • Sarah - Ahhhh I absolutely felt her joy by looking at those photos!! What a great moment you captured! Got a big smile on my face now! :D xx

  • Jennifer - it is impossible to look at that series of pictures without smiling.

  • kris saia - I had a very long day at work… came home, looked at the pictures of your daughter’s happy face and it just made.my.day.
    Thanks for the lift!

  • Nichole Young - Might be my favorite Firecracker post of all time! The hair, the expressions! Oh my heart!

  • may - That series of photo is amazing!

  • Natalie - I love this. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Lisa - That is the BEST!

  • Rikki - Be still my heart. The moments we live for.

  • Jolene - She’s so beautiful! What a neat surprise!

  • Krystin - I love when photographers capture real, genuine emotion. I think you did that perfectly. This story is so sweet, too. I will try to keep your tip in mind.

  • Tara S - LOVE this post!! You seriously brought tears to my eyes. Love your words. Love the pictures. And love living the surreal moment with your daughter. Just beautiful.

  • Diana - These are adorable! What joy!

  • Lisa Reed - My 5 year old thought the same thing about ice skating! She was convinced she would be spinning and twirling her first time. She was so disappointed in herself when she realized she could barely stand up. Girls and their twirling!

  • Andrea - I’ve been reading your blog since before you adopted your youngest; have loved your photos and watching your family grow and learn. This photo series brought tears to my eyes; such a great moment to capture.

  • Paula - took me forever to find out but hockey skates are the absolutely most comfortable to skate in! Good ankle support, etc. I got my tacks from play it again sports for a steal! they’re still in GREAT SHaped even though I haven’t used them in years (oldest daughter has used them a few times-probably need blades shapened)

  • Olivia Stewart - That picture series is pretty much the cutest thing ever! I can’t wait to take my 2 year old ice skating when she is bigger!

  • Laura - ADORABLE. I love this, the behind the scenes explanation and her gorgeous excited face. :) And I love ice skating!!!