History. Social studies. Political science. With a book (or 3) in hand, he is a sponge for those topics.

6.29.15-01We spent a lot of extra time together last week. Picking up groceries. Running errands. Cooking in the kitchen. Shucking corn on the back steps. Extra time for talking when so many huge events were taking place in our nation to process. Extra time listening to him. Answering his questions. Telling him when I didn’t know the answer. Learning together. Celebrating and mourning as we read national and international headlines.6.29.15-02I remember when we were trying to figure out kindergarten. I remember thinking, “no one prepared me for this…no one tells you how hard school decisions are when you are holding a newborn.” I feel that way often with him, different circumstances, but the same feelings. Last week was so monumental for our country. He and I studied US history together this year. We read Uncle Tom’s Cabin out loud together. We’ve talked about racial issues for months. We did again last week. Preparing corn and talking about Charleston. Busy hands help conversation flow sometimes.6.29.15-03Last week we worked in the garden too. We cut cucumbers. Made pickles. In age appropriate ways, we talked about pivotal Supreme Court cases and how American history is written.  I wasn’t alive when Brown v. Board of Education happened…I’ve only read about it in history books.  I wanted to be sure that as he reads and studies about the decision and impact of Obergefell v. Hodges in the years to come, he would remember sweet, sweet moments on the back steps talking about it with his mom.  Making pickles and listening to his insights and thoughts.6.29.15-05

I’m thankful for slow days with my kids to dialogue about current events and the past. I’m thankful for diversity among my friends…that when I open facebook I get to see them share their very different stories, dreams, hopes and fears on a variety of topics with passion and conviction.

I’m grateful for days like these. The unchanging in the midst of changing. Days that mix thought provoking conversations with regular stuff like sending boys to ‘wrestle it out in the kiddie pool’.

6.29.15-07I’ve been doing a lot of talking this week. I’m not really a talker. The more I talk, the more self-aware I am of every word that falls from my lips. Words are so powerful. I’m watching that play out among my friends online.  Reckless words pierce like a sword. May my words never be spoken recklessly. When I open my mouth to share with my kids, my family, and my friends, I hope they hear life and love.

My 11 year old would also like me to note his six-pack in the shot above…

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  • Rachel - Ha! I noticed the six pack right away! Very impressive! Our pastor talked to us yesterday about words. That our words can build up, hurt, encourage, manipulate, but to always remember and live our life by God’s Word because those are the words that are Faithful and True (Rev 22). Thanks for a great post that is keeping that fresh in my mind…be careful with my words and may they reflect God’s Words

  • Debbie H - Oh my. . . I got lost in this post. Many thoughts flooding into my head so early on a Monday morning, thinking back to my own childhood with hours of shucking corn, picking peas, all of the summertime things in the Midwest and the learning and convos that come with simple things. Thinking about all that my own kids may have missed out on as life just doesn’t seem to go as slow in this area of California – and all of the changes last week – so many thoughts and sentiments that are touched on in this post. Then the last line. I laughed outloud with tears down my face! Nothing like BOYS, keepin’ it real. lol Tell him, his cyber space fans think he AND his 6 pack are awesome. Keep it up! And thanks again, to you, Ashley. The sharing of your thoughts, photos and your daily walk are a gift to so many. Have a terrific week!

  • Jenn - words
    oh how they are so important and can be so damaging but can bring and give and spread life and love. “i hope they hear life and love.” i love this. my sentiments exactly.

    and i noticed his six pack. way to go for an 11 year old. cool!

  • Leslie - This is such a beautiful post. I love the bond that you have with your kids and how you’re not afraid to talk about the heavy stuff with them. My oldest is only 5 and while I dread her getting older (because I want her to stay little forever) this post gives me a different outlook. I love the idea of having serious talks with her and using my wisdom to help her navigate through this confusing world. You’re a good mama. :)

  • P Koziol - Ha! Please tell him you didn’t need to point out the 6-pack; it is quite obvious! You are growing strong, healthy children in body, mind, AND spirit. What a valuable vocation!

  • Mandy - Tell him that as soon as I saw that picture, my first thought was “Wow, six-pack!” :)

  • Claire H. - I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and have taken one of your Snapshop workshops, but I’m not really a commenter. :) I also have an eleven-year-old boy with the same interests in history, political science, etc. and have had many conversations with him about the events that have unfolded over the past week or two. I would love any recommendations of books that your son has enjoyed . . . I am always looking for new books for him. :)

  • Faythe - Hello! I’ve enjoyed following your blog for a while now. You have a sweet family! I shared some of your words (along with your blog address) on my Facebook page today. I hope you don’t mind. May God bless your family.

  • dawn - This is a poetic way of touching upon such a whirlwind of a change for this country.

    My goal is for my kids, friends, colleagues and students to hear only life and love from me, too!

  • jenny - i love this post. i love the gentle way you touch on this topic :) and the way you share your connection with your children. your thoughts and the way you share them have always been such a wonderful inspiration to me! thank you for that!

  • Juice - I love this post and I love the comments too. I feel like I need constant reminders to consider my words (and perhaps say less, listen more). I feel like I need to tattoo myself with the 3 questions: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Lord – help my words to to live that out each day!

  • Sandy C - Our High School put on the musical South Pacific. One of the songs has always stuck with me. I think of it often, mostly in regards to what I say and how my sons will take it:

    You’ve got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught!

  • Janine - My sis-in-law’s mom (their grandmother) was talking to my nieces and nephew about Obergefell v. Hodges. They are 12, 10 & 7 and do you know what the kids said? “That’s a thing? That was still a thing?” They were flabbergasted that it was even an issue. There is hope for this next generation that they will only know love and acceptance for everyone.

  • Tessa - Ashley, I could really relate to this post as a Mom who also wrestles so much with what I share with my kids and how to carefully select my words so that I show grace and love. There has been so much going on in our world today that baffles my kids, and it has opened up a lot of conversations. My 15 year old son really has struggled with Caitlyn Jenner’s story and as Christians, we have talked a lot about how we are not to judge and just show love. I also remember shielding him from what happened on 9/11 and then how he learned about it in school during a Patriot’s Day remembrance in 1st grade (he was only 6 year old). I was so sad that he had so many questions and fears about people crashing planes in to buildings, and it was at that moment that I knew that I couldn’t protect him from this scary world as much as I wanted to. He tells me all the time that we are so overprotective, and I am completely okay with that!

  • Ryan - I would like to go on the record to say that, from my experiences, the words that you and Chris speak are filled with love and respect. Regardless of a person’s color, creed, faith or even orientation, you treat everyone with respect and greet them with warmth and sincerity.

    I’m so thankful that you’re raising kids – please have about 25 more.

  • nicole - This post means so many things to me. That you talk so much about such hard things with your child; that you have time to talk while performing everyday tasks; that he wants to talk with you so much; that he is so introspective and aware of the injustices around him…and that you are aware of your privilege and power. Thank you so, so much for sharing. I hope I get to have such a lovely memory with my children one day.

  • Kimberly Dial - Ashley, I’m always so happy to hear (or see) mommas who spend time talking to their kids about our world, our government, our history, our …. well, our everything. I too have concerns regarding words spoken about recent events. I have struggled with what to say so I’ve mostly kept quiet. Not because I don’t have something to say but because I’m not sure how to say it. I too want those I know & love to “hear life and love”. Thanks for sharing your world. Tell that boy of yours that I noticed the six pack too! LOL

  • Shauna Ellis - Tell your son.
    The six pack is enviable.
    My brother had a six pack from the age of 6.
    He claims this is why he’s short hahaha.

    You have a wise son and I hope my daughter will be as thought provoking as him when she is his age.

    Your stories of little one get to me everytime.
    I have been thinking about adoption for a long time even before my daugther was born. I would love her to have siblings. Unfortunately in my country adoption is a dirty word.

6.15dive-01This girl. Sometimes I cannot find the words to describe how much spunk and sheer determination are packed into such a tiny body. I’ve never seen someone so terrified of water like she was when we first met. Terrified is really the only word to describe it.

Well…that sure is in the past.

This girl. If she is determined to do something, pretty much nothing or no one can stand in her way. This causes lots of prayers for patience and grace on my part. LOTS. Yesterday she watched me dive off the diving board and she just hopped up and did the same. I told her she can’t dive with the puddle jumper thing, but she was determined. And she did. How in the world she was able to get her little body and that life jacket under the water for a dive is beyond me.

After she got bored of diving, she discovered the art of a beautiful swan dive into a belly flop. I guess the extra padding softens the blow and the laughter of her brothers was all the encouragement she needed.

Belly flops and giggles all day.

This girl.

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  • Southern Gal - Just think of all she can accomplish with that attitude!

  • Deb - What an inspiration!

  • Julie Boyd - She reminds me so much of my little Ruthie. Ruthie is 4 has been home from China almost 3 years and has the same spunk and determination! (She is also a cleft baby too!!)I love your blog! It inspires me daily. Thanks for sharing your heart and daily life with us all. God bless you!

  • kristin - ugh! i LOVE this. these posts bring me joy, and so much hope to those tough days. what a blessing you guys are to one another- that because of you pouring love, time, prayer, thoughts, etc – she is growing so much. and i love that your example of diving got her excited and emboldened her. (ps- handstand dives?! i was on the diving team one year- loved it- and never made it to compete at a meet because of the videos the coach showed us of people diving towards the board/platform and the accidents. EEEK! you have won many bravery points in my book)

  • Jolene - So cute!!

  • Seamingly Sarah - It’s amazing, isn’t it?! I’m trying hard to see the amazing potential within my children and not get upset with the annoyances. So I too am trying with patience and silent pleas to Jesus that I bite my tongue more and notice more. I also ask for and give out a lot of grace and mercy too!

  • Ramona - Oh WOW!!!!!!! Way to go!! <3

    So there is hope for my girls… they both are terrified of water. I also have a baby boy but he seems fine. He doesn't mind water in his face.

  • jenny - she is absolutely adorable :) i wish i was that brave.

A collection of recent phone favorites….6.15phone-01Rango & Tango – the bearded dragons we are pet sitting || Chris decided he wants a picture like this every Father’s Day || a random empty day at the city pool || reading in his loft || a feature in Tulsa Kids magazine (May issue) || Fishing at grandpa’s || pool day || blue toenails from a date with Nana and my Paisley Sprouts pillow || Crossfit Kids camp || going for a basket || summer night || reading and cereal – everyday || my last kiddie pool swimmer || pinning crafts for her birthday party || more pool || waiting on the kids || helping me decorate for family pictures || pet sitting a puppy

Most of those are also on my Instagram with the full captions, but I like have a few here to look back on down the road.

In other news, I wrote an article featuring photography tips in the July/August issue of Entertain Decorate Celebrate magazine. It is always fun watching the kids find articles I write (well, more like the pictures).6.15phone-136.15phone-146.15phone-16And since I had him somewhat still for 5 seconds, I managed to get him to look at my camera!6.15phone-186.15phone-19Those bumpy edged new adult teeth and tiny freckles – they get me every time.

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  • Beth Hess - im taking so many pictures with my phone this spring and early summer. I wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you often thanks to my snap shop workshop! It has been so much fun. Thank you!

  • Debbie H - haha. Somehow I’ll always see the batman logo in that cute close up mouth. Adorable.

  • Karen Davis - my seven, almost eight year old… same thing, bumpy teeth and freckles… she melts my heart.

  • Jana Taft - I so enjoy your blog. I’m a very amateur photographer, yet extremely addicted to my little point and shoot camera. EVERYTHING is a picture to me, and I think that’s because I love being a wife, a mom, and a Nama to eight grandkiddos. There are so many beautiful moments to capture. I’m grateful for the ability to point and shoot those moments, and all of the beauty God has created. Love all the “moments” in this post. So sweet!

  • kate - Is Poppy still with us???

  • jenny - i love the way you write about your kids :) what a great collection of photos, and congrats on the article!