This weekend was full…so very full. With the exception of our youngest, everyone is playing soccer. Our youngest has another couple years before she is old enough to play (yes, there are peewee leagues, but we aren’t in a rush). In the past, we’ve had a couple of kids on one team. This spring…four players and four different teams. Really though, I’m good with it. Homeschooling means we are home quite a bit, so lots of soccer games are pretty fun.

Don’t tell my youngest she isn’t on a team. She’ll argue with you that she is…

4.15videoworkshop-1My oldest daughter played in her first soccer game. She’s been watching her brothers for years and has waited a long time for this season. She celebrated well with each goal her team made. She’s got spirit, yes she does.4.15videoworkshop-24.15videoworkshop-4My favorite moment of the game was right before she went out to play her final quarter. Her biggest brother didn’t feel like she was playing as aggressive as he knew she could (gotta love big brothers!). He walked over to give her a little pep talk and tell her to ‘turn up the heat’. She ran out on the field with an extra tough face and a little bit more grit. I think she is going to love this photo one day and the story behind it.4.15videoworkshop-6Our weekend was also full of photographers…or should I say videographers. My sweet friend Amy of Happily Situated Photography taught her very first videography workshop – we had the honor of hosting it.4.15videoworkshop-7She posed like this on her own. No joke. I have a bunch of ladies that can vouch for that. She cracks me up.4.15videoworkshop-9Two cute models acted out a story of dreaming up and building a lemonade stand. The ladies were able to capture the story and by the end of the day create a short video. It gave me so many ideas….4.15videoworkshop-84.15videoworkshop-104.15videoworkshop-114.15videoworkshop-12The day ended leaving me so inspired to capture more video of my family. The editing part is overwhelming. I feel like I am doing good just to keep up with pictures. I also struggle with deciding what to video and what to photograph. However, I am working through those struggles and so excited about telling the story of my family through video!

Finally…the winner of last week’s giveaway is: Amber (amsba…)

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  • Beth Tilston - Use video for things where the movement is the most important as video is, after all, moving image.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - LOVE the soccer photos! A perfect sport for your little one. All that joy and energy- perfect! Y’all have fun at those games! Those years fly by mighty fast.

  • Jenn - love it all
    my kido’s had a lemonade stand this weekend
    they had fun

  • Stephanie - Would love to hear your thoughts on how you plan to balance both photography and videography. Now that I have a DSLRs with video capabilities, I thought I’d be taking much more video. But I’ve had trouble getting used to it, and find that I just use my cell for video which is a bit disappointing. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on balancing the two as well as how you’ll use them/store them. You already do a great job with the yearly photo book (and that is what I do as well). I find it hard to think of adding on another element of memory keeping – but at the same time, video definitely captures something the pictures alone can’t. Thoughts….

  • Jacque - It’s not DSLR quality, but when I’m torn I actually go to my iPhone because I have the option of snapping pics of key shots WHILE taking video of an event!

  • suzy - Love the soccer picture with your son and daughter! How fantastic that he was giving her advice! The videography class looks really interesting, but I am there with you, it seems overwhelming. Looking forward to seeing what you do with video!

  • Amy D - What a fun thing to host!!! I’d love to hear how you process whether to video or photograph. I sometimes struggle with the same question, but I am so much more comfortable with stills, so I usually go that route. I bet I am missing some sweet video though.

  • Blair - Where did you get the quilt on the studio bed? It’s gorgeous!

  • Elizabeth - Hi! I met you yesterday and I felt really dumb after we stopped talking. I was in some kind of crazy shock from meeting you that I forgot how to speak. You would ask me simple questions like how old my baby was and I had to really reach for the answer. Anyways.. What I wish I would have said is: I love this blog. It’s such an inspiration to me. It gives me the motivation to be the best mom I can be when I feel less than awesome. You have completely changed my attitude on finding enjoyment in the little things so I wanted to say thank you. Also, my seven year old son, who I didn’t introduce you to because my brain was frozen, was born with a cleft lip. I thoroughly enjoy reading the stories about your youngest.

    If I ever see you again hopefully I can keep my cool :)

  • AshleyAnn - Elizabeth – You didn’t seem like you missed a beat in answering my questions! Thank you for stopping me to say ‘hi’! I hope we bump into each other again. It was fun meeting you. Thank you for your encouraging note here too :)

  • AshleyAnn - Blair – it was Chris’ grandma’s quilt!

  • Jenny B. - Videography! That sounds like fun (and maybe a tad daunting). :) I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a Canon 6D (YAY!). I’ve never had video capability in my DSLR before, so that is new territory for me. I don’t take a lot of videos, and when I do, I try to keep them under 1 minute so that I can just upload them to Vimeo to save them. I like to include links to them in QR codes on my scrapbook pages.

  • Meghan - This makes me want some lemonade right now! I love this collection of photos and the love you have for your children. Such great talent…thanks for the inspiration!

My oldest daughter recently made her acting debut. If you ask her, she’ll tell you she is now a ‘star’. I’m not sure she even knows what a ‘star’ is, but she is pretty excited about being in a promo video for Salsa De Mayo, an event by Lawn America that benefits 111Tulsa.

Chris works for 111Tulsa, a local non-profit that focuses on recruitment and support of foster families. Salsa De Mayo is a chips and salsa tasting event with lots of other fun attractions – like pinatas, face painting, inflatables and salsa dancing. Over 20 restaurants will be in attendance.

A chips & salsa tasting event. A room full of chips and salsa. Count me in. For sure.

Signal Factory generously offered to write and create a promo for the event. It was interesting to watch them film. I asked if they took interns – if I wasn’t busy with 5 kids, I would definitely beg them to be an intern! If they said “no”, I would sit outside their office like Bob Goff did his Dean (Love Does….anyone?).

I was so surprised watching my daughter. She’s not shy, but I was still taken aback by how unaffected she was by the cameras and all the guys directing her. She handled it exactly the opposite as I would have handled it. I would have grabbed a bag of chips and ran for the door. She totally embraced it. I love that about her.4.15salsa-14.15salsa-24.15salsa-34.15salsa-44.15salsa-5I know so many of you have read this random blog for many years. You’ve cheered for my girls (both of them) through surgeries and hospital stays and life. I thought you might like seeing FireCracker in action. You can’t hear her voice, but you can see her personality.

It is SALSA De Mayo….so it would make no sense to fill pinatas with candy. However, salsa coming out of a pinata doesn’t look quite as pretty as candy coming out. You’ve been warned;)

SalsaDeMayo-Promo from 111Tulsa on Vimeo.


The event takes place on May 17th 2:30-4:30 at the Union UMAC in Tulsa. Tickets are $5.00 at the door, but there is a Groupon now for $2.50 a ticket.

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  • Jacquie - You know, this is pretty clever as a fundraising event. Chips and salsa is deeply attractive to both genders (for example cupcakes skew feminine), and the product is cheap and cheerful and can be purchased rather than requiring hours of handmade labour.
    And the theme can be extended easily, as with salsa dancing and pinatas, to make a longer program event.
    I think this is quite genius; so many groups and organisations and schools want to fund raise, and the options can get a bit worn out and stale and time consuming (another raffle, gala, tupperware party, bake sale?) You want maximum monetary return for each hour of volunteer labour AND maximum “community spirit” generation (ie fun together), I reckon this will be a winner. All the best to Salsa de Mayo!
    Also congrats to the film makers and to the star of the video, a great showcase for their talent and for her adorableness. Words are only a small part of expression of personality, and we forget that sometimes. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Ranee - love it! she is a natural! :)

  • Allison - She is awesome!! Love it when she knocks off her glasses with the bat! (and thanks for the warning….salsa in a pinata….interesting…)

  • Kathy - An absolute delight! Thank you for sharing!
    Wish I lived in your area to attend this awesome event.

  • jenn - So cool. Thanks for sharing. What fun. Now I want chips and salsa and it is only 8am

  • mel - bahahaha!! her face in the beginning…so determined! i love it!!!!

  • Kimberlee Jost - She looks like a star to me!

  • Meredith - I love that you posted the video! Firecracker looks like she had a blast! I have been reading your blog for nearly five years and love that I still feel like you are writing your blog for just me to read. I love that I get to read your blog every morning while I drink my tea and it feels like I am just sitting down with a friend and catching up with her every morning. Happy Friday!

  • Alice H - LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I will definitely have to put this event in my calendar!!

  • Lindsey - So…. they did or didn’t eat salsa off the floor? haha this is so great

  • Bek - ohhhh my gosh so cute! she’s a natural! Wish I could go!

  • Michelle @ life to table - haha!! omg she is the cutest!!! I hope you can fill us in a little more about her experience through her eyes. I don’t know how I would handle salsa in a pinata at her age :P
    p.s. burrito eating conteset?! sign me up!

  • Debbie H - I agree with Jacquie and Meredith. :) This also lead me to think — I am a long time reader and have received so much good from your links and information provided, as well as camera classes – on and on. I’d be happy to contribute to this cause but I live in California. I looked on the site and there is not a direct way to donate. I’d be happy to give my $5 directly to this organization. Chris might consider setting up a website donation collection site from this video directly on the site – like Meg D. did with Talby for donations to Africa? You actually might be surprised as what additional good you could do. This might make you feel uncomfortable as you never approach this line in your blog, but it is a great cause and I feel just speaks to what your family is about. Anyway, I’d be happy to contribute (but excess ticket sales could drive other decisions that cost money vs raise money) And Happy Early Mother’s Day, Ashley! Its a proud club we’re all in and you are a terrific example!

  • Dena - Super cute!

  • Tiffany - Oh that made me smile, so cute and well done. I agree with previous comments^, she sure looks like a star to me and a handlebar mustache is pretty hard to beat.

  • ajira - Total. STAR! Love it. What a great job your daughter did. Well done!

  • Trilby - Look how stinking ADORABLE she is!! Total start material. Salsa in a piñata is something new for me – not pretty indeed – but the results looked awfully fun and yummy!

  • Kari - She’s so awesome. Has she had a chance to see it on TV yet? I can only imagine her reaction to seeing herself on TV.

  • Ellen Patton - She was a natural! I love it.

  • Paige Rodriguez - What a super clever little promo video!! Whoever came up with that did GREAT!! Firecracker is ADORABLE!!!

  • Diana - That’s really cute (but messy!)

  • Jenny B. - That was so cute! (and kinda gross). :)

  • Shannon Fox - Such a fun promo! Wish I could come. Firecracker was amazing! Just the right combo of ornery and sweet!

  • Rachel - Seriously!!!! That is the cutest commercial ever???? I would totally go to that if I lived in OK.

  • Rae - OMG! Seeing FireCracker in the promo video was just too special!

  • Natalie - that is the cutest thing i’ve ever seen. seriously. i’ve been following your “random” blog for years and it is by far my favorite one out there in blog land. thank you.

  • Maureen - This is awesome!!!! Firecracker, you totally rocked the commercial and the pinata, way to go! (and you’re pretty gorgeous while you do it)

  • Mandy - Oh my goodness!!! I LOVED watching this! What an incredible idea for a fundraising event! Wish I were there to take part! Tell Firecracker she’s a natural and definitely has a career ahead of her! :)

  • Debbie C - Ha ha…loved it! The event sounds like a lot of fun (for a good cause)…wish I could be there.

  • Lisa jordan - Wow Ashley she did fan she just sparkles with life and the love of it.

  • heather - What an adorable girl you have! I’ve got one of those firecrackers myself! Precious!

  • amber - Well, that is super fun & Firecracker is a total star, for sure. Thanks for sharing:)!

  • jelena - Good of you to warn us its salsa in the pinata, I think that helped with gross factor. ???? But your daughter, she rocked it! And it was really nice seeing her in motion, not in a creepy stalker way, but – I’ve been reading your blog for 5 years-way. She is adorable!

  • Lindy - Oh my word! I love it! I don’t know your daughter at all, but she delivered on every preconceived notion I’ve had about her, just by reading your blog through the years. Very creative video. I really, really loved it.

  • Melanie - Boy, the flor all red after beating on a stuffed animal… you warned us. And you got it right, it’s pretty disgusting (who develops an ad like this?).
    Besides that firecracker did a very good job!

  • Dawn Ritchie - My girls loved the video! She did an awesome job!

  • Ilse - I love it! She does absolutely great! What a cute commercial, I’d almost buy a ticket so I could be there!

  • Kristin S - So so so great. Her mean face is epic. Just on the verge of bursting out in laughter.

  • Jyoti - Its wonderful to see Firecracker in action. You’re right…she’s absolutely unaffected. It feels surreal that I’ve watched her grow into this amazing person from the other side of the world!

  • Janice - Adorable! You were so right on when you nicknamed her Firecracker when she was just a wee one. She rocks! And a great idea for an event!

  • jasminelilovesphotos - That was amazing! HAHA. Really great!

  • Carrie - She’s too cute! Looks like so much fun!!

  • Sarah (SophieBugsMom) - Ha ha… the salsa kinda looked like guts when I was watching the video… had to remind myself that it was salsa! She is a PRO! Of course she is a natural in front of the camera!! Love it!!

  • Katie - Oh my word… I’ve read your blog since I was an older teen, and have loved watching your kids grow up… Firecracker certainly lives up to her nickname… she is sugar, and a WHOLE lotta spice! This is TOO cute!

  • christina larsen - This was great!

  • love to teach - I have followed your blog for years, and I love seeing how your kids have grown- in love, in awareness of others, in confidence, and in strength. Your blog is such an encouragement to me!! Your family encourages me (and my family) to think globally and to love without boundaries!!!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness – Firecracker – you nailed it!!! Great job.

  • Kelli - Thank for sharing, that was so much fun to watch!

  • ingrid - omg… love her!

  • Jacci in Ohio - She is SO precious, Ashley! I laughed out loud when she was winding up with that bat! :) So good to check in and see your smiling faces this morning :) xo

  • Elizabeth H - okay, seriously, Firecracker! I could.not. have hit a salsa filled pinata! Agh! She’s so brave!

I thought my guys were fun when they were just out of the toddler phase…4, 6, & 8 year olds. Now they are 7, 9, 11….and it is even better. Sure, each phase has challenges, but there are so many awesome things about kids growing up. These rough and tumble, best friends and arguing brothers make my days surprising and exciting. They are full of energy, life and humor. I like them a lot.

They like when I bring my camera on the trampoline….

 all of these were shot at ISO 400, 1/1600, f/2.8

4.15jump-34.15jump-44.15jump-54.15jump-6The next three photos make me laugh. They wanted pictures where he was acting like he got hurt. In the middle of his posing, his dad came out and asked a question related to food. Instantly, he stopped to talk about food and then returned to his acting. Food. These boys eat so much.4.15jump-74.15jump-84.15jump-94.15jump-10SnapShops began this week, so photography is on my mind a lot (the hows and whys related to photography). I shot all the above images in Manual using my 24-70mm lens. I thought I would take two photos using Auto mode and Shutter Priority using the same shutter speed I used for the Manual shots. Here are what those two modes captured:

4.15jump-1SnapShop students often get a little discouraged at first when learning to shoot in Manual and often ask me if it is really worth it to learn. I know I am biased, but I think it is very much worth learning to use your camera in Manual mode. Even if you don’t use Manual all the time, understanding how your camera works, so you can make adjustments when needed is a pretty valuable skill in my book. Again, I am biased, but understanding my camera has opened up an entirely new world for me.

In unrelated news, don’t forget the Vintage Pearl and Bought Beautifully giveaway is still going!

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  • Danielle - I have 7&8 year old boys right now, they are pretty awesome :) Looking forward to the next stage as well!

  • Sarah - I would love to hear how you handle the challenges. I have an 8 year old boy that has been giving me plenty of challenges lately. Love the blog!

  • Michelle @ life to table - This post made me laugh out loud. So cute!! Its such a privileged to be allowed to step into your family world and see your kids growing everyday. Your family is beautiful and you make me look forward to having children of my own one day :)

  • Jenny L. - I loved every age with my kids. It is empty nest that is the worst. But it will take you a while to get there because of the age difference between the oldest and the youngest. You and your family are so precious! I never get tired of your blog.

  • Karen - My boys are 6 & 9. The argue constantly. I’m having a difficult time enjoying all of things I should be enjoying about them right now because I can’t get past the arguing. I discourage normal kid play because I know it will end in arguments! I appreciate your reminders to enjoy who they are.

  • Mary - and now I want to go find a trampoline…if only the rain would stop

  • Jody - Ok – I never thought I would, but this summer we are buying our four boys (ages 10 & 8) a trampoline. IF you have the time & feel like helpin’ me out – would you mind sharing what brand of trampoline is durable? a family friendly trampoline?? have you ever had any injuries?! My husband & I are deciding to go ahead & get one this summer to BURN SOME ENERGY!! but I am nervous a little about it….Please help! Thanks!!!

  • Amy D - I was just thinking of your trampoline shots today, and wondering how you do it. We just put up our trampoline today, so I’ll have to search your blog for tips! These are so great! And thanks for saying how it only gets better… My kids are 8, 6, and 4, and I like these ages a lot, and I was sad to move beyond it!

  • Hazel - I have two boys – 2.5 & 1 year old. And I can’t wait to be out of the baby phase. I feel as though it’ll be like this all my life, but of course, everything has an end. And I’m pretty sure I’ll miss these good old days.