My peonies are blooming. They always pop out around Mother’s Day. My Grandpa would give each girl in the family a peony on Mother’s Day. I can’t see a peony without thinking of him.

Lots of things remind me of grandparents – so many sweet memories of them. There are pictures floating around in our family from Canton, Texas in the 70s. My parents were rocking the 70s look and I was a baby. There are also pictures from the 80s, as we all grew up a little in that place. My grandparents had a booth among the hundreds of vendors selling everything and anything. Canton is a different place these days – a massive outdoor flea market with old and new. I remember running around the dirt roads, the hike to the one bathroom and the way everyone seemed to know my grandpa.

I also remember running to their booth and right away asking Grandma for a hard boiled egg from her cooler. She always let me put my own salt and pepper on it. I had to be pretty young. To this day, when I eat a hard boiled egg, I think about my Grandma.

5.15remember-01Funny the things that remind me of those I love. Peonies and hard-boiled eggs. I’m guessing Grandma would have never thought that eggs from her cooler at the flea market would be something I’d always remember.  I was so young and yet those memories are vivid and strong.

In fact, most of my childhood memories are of seemingly random things instead of the big events. I don’t remember very many birthday parties or vacations. I remember Grandma always having an egg for me and letting me put the salt & pepper on by my big girl self.

Grandpa made me feel special with a peony. Grandma did the same with hard boiled eggs. As I wonder what, in these seemingly routine and small days, my kids will remember, I sure hope it involves making them feel loved and special.

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  • Kass - Your recollections remind me of my grandparents. My Grandad grew sweet peas and I remember my Grandma making posies of them for the ‘over sixties’ in my village. You’re lucky to have such sweet memories ????????

  • Tessa - I completely agree! I believe that most of my children’s memories are going to be completely unintentional on my part. It takes a lot of pressure off to “create memories”. Instead, life itself will do that for us. I also happen to love hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper too – yum!

  • Aunt Sandy - I love your post, and, your memories. I remember Canton like it was yesterday. So, so, so, much fun. Mom, and, Dad loved it when you girls came to Canton for the weekend. They sure loved to show you, and, your sister off to all his friends. They loved their grandkids that’s for sure. My favorite times at Canton was when your Dad would fire up the grill, stack ribs a foot high, cooking them to perfection. YUM, YUM!! His homemade BBQ sauce, Grandma’s potato salad, and, feeding so many around Grandpa’s booth. Yep, those were some of the best times with Mom, Dad, and, your family ever. Memories are so precious. Thanks so much for sharing them with all of us.

  • Jenny - Sometime after my grandparents both passed away last year, I remember opening up the freezer and seeing a frozen ham. I burst into tears. Grandpa loved when I would make ham and bean soup. Seeing that ham, I remember thinking, I would give anything to be making him another bowl of soup. Even then I laughed that a stupid chunk of ham could bring me to tears. So many simple and sweet reminders of them everywhere I look.

  • Reem - I love this post! Every time I see apricots I remember my grandparents. It’s amazing to have sweet memories, isn’t it? We would shake apricots down from a tree into a shawl.

    I love your blog and reading about your family! I don’t comment much. Your words and photos soothe me:)

  • Jessie Dewey - There are so many things that remind me of my grandparents, very random things too. Things the remind me of my grandma are the hardest, the kind of things that cause that lump in your throat because every memory means so much. She was practically my mother. Mangos were my treat with her. Every time I would go to her house there would be a freshly peeled mango waiting for me. They are my favorite fruit but no one else would ever buy them because they are such a pain to serve, not my grandma though, she did it with a smile. Thanks for the post :) I loved it so much

  • Helen - Sweet.
    For me it was marigolds for my grandma and peeling an apple around and around with one long peel for my grandpa.

  • Cathy - This is so sweet and beautiful. It made me tear up and yearn for my grandparents. My grandma had Alzheimers and was diagnosed when I was seven, I only have a handful of memories of her, one is she always had mints and butterscotch in her purse. Probably why I love wintergreen mints so much. My grandpa I had much more time with, many, many things make me think of him…I miss them so…I lost my great aunt earlier this year, she took on the role of grandma when mine got sick, she always had pink mints and jelly beans. I can’t eat either without thinking of her.

  • SueY - Thank you so much for sharing your sweet memories. My husband recently passed away and I am hoping my 5 young grandchildren, the oldest being six will have some everlasting memories of their Papa too.

  • Jamie - I think of this a lot too! Like, what kinds of random things will my kids remember when they’re older. I can’t see a bottle of pink nail polish without thinking of my precious Aunt Barbara. As a kid she’d babysit me and she had every shade of pink all lined up beside her recliner and she’d let me choose which one I liked and she’d paint my nails. We also recently inherited the “egg sandwich dish” from my husband’s family. He said growing up, that dish was always used to microwave a beaten egg because it would cook it up in the perfect square size needed for a sandwich; he said it was used his whole life. LOL I LOVE stuff like that. I am a nostalgic person, though. :)

  • Analene - That’s fun! Just this morning I was peppering some scrambled eggs and discovered a smile as I thought of my Grandpa. He is the only person I’ve ever seen pepper hamburgers, and he’d pepper everything else too. I don’t use black pepper often, so when I do I think of Grandpa.
    Like you, I wonder what things will stick with my children :-)

  • Krystina - My childhood memories are of pretty random stuff too. Making luminaries on my grandma’s porch. Picking blueberries on the side of the road (it was a lightly traveled road…but I still felt like a rebel when grandma pulled the car over and told us to jump out and grab a handful), and catching fireflies on my grandma’s farm… I think that’s what childhood is though. Sporadic memories of moments that aren’t spectacular but still cling to a special place in our heart.

  • debbie - Reading this lovely post just triggered a flood of memories that have been apparently tucked in a well archived segment of my mind. The words grandma & eggs triggered vivid images of my grandmother picking eggs in her coop (I can smell the warm air of that red coop) and then washing them inside at her sink. I can see her hands, arthritic and well used on her Iowa farm, and the unique motion she used to clean each egg. Grateful for this trip down memory lane…

When I was little our front yard sloped down to create a small ditch with the neighbor’s sloped yard. Each time it rained, the ditch would fill with water. My sister and I would wait for the storm to pass and we’d run outside to enjoy our very own slip-n-slide.

These days I get to watch my kids anxiously wait for the thunder and lightning to end so they can run out to their own slip-n-slide.

Mother’s Day 2015

5.15MothersDay-015.15MothersDay-025.15MothersDay-035.15MothersDay-045.15MothersDay-05Our yard wasn’t wet enough for us, so we headed to the lake. Really, I just wanted a little getaway for Mother’s Day. The rain has been falling hard. The lake was extra high, so the kids made the most of the flooded ‘beach’ area. I should say, 4 of the kids enjoyed the frigid water. The other was smart like her mom.5.15MothersDay-065.15MothersDay-07Picnic table in a flooded lake = Okie surfing.5.15MothersDay-08I’m not sure you could pay me to get in dirty, cold Oklahoma lake water. I know what swims in that water. This kid…he knows and doesn’t care.5.15MothersDay-095.15MothersDay-105.15MothersDay-11Mother’s Day each year. Prayers & hopes for the one that felt her first kicks and heard her first cries. 5.15MothersDay-12I keep a journal – a letter written each Mother’s Day and copies of pictures of this tradition. Maybe it is just for me. Maybe it will be something that my daughter will want to share with me one day. Maybe it will be something that the three of us will share.  I don’t know what my daughter will want – and her story is her story. I do know that every Mother’s Day I think of the one that knew my daughter before I did and I have so many prayers and hopes for her. So much I would like to tell her. Maybe someday.

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  • Breana Parker - This is wonderful. I come to your blog just to get inspired sometimes. Still figuring out what it means to be a stay at home mom, how I glorify God on a day to day basis in all the simplicity and over-and-over-again duties. Also – I love your heart for your daughter’s birth-mom. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen Choat - What a blessing it would be if somehow her birth mom could know how well loved her baby girl is and here is hoping that someday she does.

  • Liz - Looks like so much fun! I can’t wait for it to warm up enough to splash in water.

  • susie - we had snow on mothers day! We have been waiting for some lake weather!

  • Shauna - I would like to know what is in Okie lake water.
    You have mentioned it before.
    What is in your water?

    Also I love your story.
    I would love to adopt there are so many children in the would whose parents have passed on and need love.
    But alas in Australia it is next too impossible.
    If famous couples like Hugh Jackman and Debora-Lee Furness have to move to the USA just to adopt you know it’s hard for others. We are tainted by the Stolen Generation and it has made adoption a bit of a bad word in this country.

  • Amber Reese - I know people tell you this all the time, but your blog is so inspiring! When I found you I just couldn’t stop reading. I was adopted when I was 11, so the way you handle everything with your youngest really hits home for me. Thank you for writing and please never stop!!

  • love to teach - You sing my heart song, when you talk about your youngest daughter and her story. Beautiful love!!!!

  • Amy Cornwell - I love that you celebrate the woman who gave her life…such a special memory she’ll have one day knowing what a gift she was given in you. <3

  • Shaina Braun - What a wonderful mothers day tradition with the photos! The kids look like they had a blast! Mine is too young but I can’t wait to splash around in the rain with him. However, I live in Los angeles so rain is rare :-(

  • Kimberly Dial - I am so touched by your tenderness toward Little One’s birth momma. You are quite a lady Ashley. I love that you let your kids play in the cold Okie lake water & oh the memories they’ll have of growing up with a momma like you. Bravo!

Recently, I had the opportunity to do a commercial photography shoot for Free Country Apparel.  Only a handful of times have I shot commercial photography and when I do it is typically something that fits in the general groove of our regular routine. For this shoot, I simply needed to tell a story, my oldest would be my main model, and each of the kids would wear a Free Country jacket. Of course, I asked him if he would be up for it before I said, “yes.” He’s 11 and having his picture taken isn’t on his list of top 10 favorite activities. I think I won him over by telling him he didn’t have to look at me and smile, I just wanted to capture him doing something he loves.

We headed over to my in-laws on a rainy day. I wanted to tell the story of him paddling his siblings around the shallow edge of the pond.

He is in his element at his grandparents’ land. I loved getting to step back and just watch him…these are among my favorite photos of him now.

5.15FreeCountry-015.15FreeCountry-035.15FreeCountry-055.15FreeCountry-075.15FreeCountry-085.15FreeCountry-095.15FreeCountry-105.15FreeCountry-115.15FreeCountry-125.15FreeCountry-135.15FreeCountry-145.15FreeCountry-155.15FreeCountry-16I keep writing and re-writing a million things I want to say about him…but it would embarrass him. He likes to hear those things when it is just the two of us. He made me a mom. He is transforming into a young man before my eyes. Goodness, I love this guy.

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  • Charity G. - Gorgeous photos. I love how well you know your children and see their strengths and personalities. I strive to know my children that way and feel I fail most days, but I am so inspired to keep trying as I read your blog daily.

  • Paige E - Wow. He looks so grown up. My oldest boy is turning double digits later this year and as much as I dreaded him growing up, I’m really enjoying getting to know him. He is really a fun guy to hang out with. I love these pics!

  • shadi - Your posts about your oldest son always make me cry…I have two boys and my older one ‘s personalty and character seems very much like your oldest son’s…Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am to have him in my life.

  • Laurel - I love the part about the dog jumping out of the boat!

    Great story telling 😉

  • Cassie - These are all beautiful photos…and that one of the pup jumping out of the boat is amazing!

  • jodi - love this! Such a fun memory in years to come, for sure! Yea!!

  • susie - I love that photo of the boys splashing your girl on the dock… it might be a favorite of all of your photos and I love all of yours! Make sure you make a huge print!

  • Kate S. - Arly the Beagle=absolutely perfect for this shoot. Seriously, couldn’t have picked a better breed for cute outdoorsy shots with kids than a Beagle if you’d been a casting director making the call, lol.

  • Jana Taft - These pictures are amazing! I love every single one. I love following my own kids around with my camera and capturing them just being kids, so I could really relate to this post. I also have a son close in age to yours and your description of him made me smile. My son is affectionate and loves to hear me tell him all kinds of things about how I feel about him, but he gets embarrassed if any of that goes public. Such a sweet post!
    Thanks for sharing! You are a gifted photographer. <3

  • lovetoteach - Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!!!

  • Debbie - Love the photos!

  • Tika - Great pictures! Always impressed and intrigued by your work. Love the one with your youngest boys and the dog looking down in to the water.