Rain poured down on Saturday, which meant football games were cancelled. The boys around here groaned a bit, but I was secretly thankful I didn’t have to sit in the cold all day. With a completely empty day ahead, we took advantage of doing things we don’t get to do every day. For my oldest daughter, if I have spare moment she wants to fill it with crafting or sewing.  She could make crepe paper ruffles all day long. I snapped the photo below with my phone and posted it on Instagram.
10.14sewing-02When I took and shared the photo, I was struck by her concentration face, not the fact she was sewing. She has used my machine for last two years by herself. It surprised me a little when others asked about her sewing. It made me think too. Just a couple days before I shared a photo of my mom, sister and I after a birthday dinner. When I shared that photo, someone asked about if Lesley and I got our creativity from my mom.

10.14sewing-01Both of my parents are creative and artistic. Their talents play out in different ways. For as long as I remember my parents have never said they couldn’t build, make or sew something that I asked them to build, make or sew for me. Combined I really don’t think there is anything they couldn’t create. They’ve also never told Lesley and me that we couldn’t. If we wanted to try it, they encouraged it. I don’t remember being told I was too young to use a hammer or that little girls don’t drywall their bedrooms. So, when my daughter began wanting to use my sewing machine at 3 years old, I think it just made sense to me to let her try under my watchful eye. It was what I was taught. Naturally, my parents took safety into consideration and so do I. My dad still always makes sure I wear my safety googles and ear protection when I’m building with him. I’m thankful for parents that encouraged me to try my ideas instead of telling me it was too hard, too messy, too risky. I’m also thankful they didn’t do it all for me. They gave me tools, instruction when I would listen, and let me learn.

I hope when I have a 14 year old daughter she doesn’t decide she wants smooth walls instead of textured ones. I remember the mess I made as a teenager with drywall mud and sanding it. I still can’t believe my parents let me…I’m guessing they might not have believed I’d actually do it. Nonetheless, I’m guessing I’ll probably say “go for it” if one of my kids asks one day. I might have made a mess, but I also learned a tremendous lesson being empowered by my parents to tackle such a big house project. I want to empower my kids like that…I just hope empowering them turns out to be less messy for me than it was for my parents!

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  • AndreaB - So wonderful to have such freedom and offer it too! I remember as a little girl my mom would do the majority of her baking by herself because we would make too much of a mess or she could do it quicker without us, and I must say I seem to have some of those tendencies – I need to concentrate on affording the freedom and the associated experiences and joy with my littles. thanks for the post Ashley!

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - These days people are so afraid of EVERYTHING that they choose not to give their children license to learn by living freely. As a parent, it’s just easier to say “no you can’t” than to provide a watchful eye while they learn by doing. Kudos to you for being a ‘yes’ mom!

  • Sara - Such an encouraging post! Thank you! I’d love to hear more stories of projects you and Leslie did as kids.

  • Georgia - Love this. I grew up an only child in the 60′s & 70′s. It was unheard of for girls to do “boy” stuff back then. Yet my Dad let me help him with almost everything. When I was in high school, we put a new roof on the house. That and many more projects gave me the confidence to try lots of things. As he aged, those skills paid off for him as I could do repairs around his house. Even then, I could take a picture of something he couldn’t physically go to see and get his advice on what to do. I treasure those times.

  • kimberly oyler - you dry walled your bedroom when you were 14??? man, your parents are awesome.

  • Meg - Thank you for this post. It is a great reminder that even if it slows the process down it is always great to let our kiddos help with our DIYing when they ask to help. I think it is time to replace their plastic tools and get them so real tools!

  • maverickmom4 - My three yr old can crack an egg like nobody’s business and I love that she is always asking to help me. It never occured to me to tell her no if she wanted to help empty the dishwasher or help sweep. It’s ok if they don’t do things perfect, that’s how they learn. Love this post!

  • Lynnie B - I am the person I am today because of my mom letting me explore and learn as a young child. Today as a grown woman, I’m not afraid to jump in and try anything….at least once! ;0) Thanks Ashley, great post!!!

  • Robin - I love that you taught her how to sew. I think my 4 year old daughter would love to do this too. I need a new, simple machine. What do you and your daughter use? What did you start out teaching her how to do? Thanks for the advice!

  • Keshia - I read your blog almost everyday. Lately, I’ve been feeling lost and waffling in my convictions. I come here and visit your blog and just like that, I’m convicted and know exactly what I need to do. Thanks for sharing your family and being such an inspiration!

  • Carrie - Ashley- this post is so inspiring to me. When I saw the picture of your daughter and her sweet sewing face, I was so struck with the love pouring out of your photo. I could feel how much you cherish her, not only by nurturing her passions but also being PRESENT to record them in such a beautiful way. Sometimes unconditional love from a parent is not as easy and natural as they way you describe the relationship you have with your amazing parents and the relationship you have with your children. Having grown up with a childhood filled with “conditional” love, as a mother now I am always searching for the answers, having had no model to follow. I so wish I had a mother who would have said yes when I wanted to learn to sew! For the record, because all mothers need to hear it from time to time, you are an inspiration and are an amazing parent!!

We are in the thick of flag football – four cute little players. Well, the boys would prefer I call them tough players. Tough…and cute. Every season I try to get some shots of the kids at their games, but I’m usually on the sidelines with 4 other kids while Chris coaches. Watching four kids and watching the game means my camera rarely makes it out of the bag. The last few weeks I’ve attempted to get more shots of them at home, practice and at games.

Sports can be challenging to photograph, even when you don’t have other kids on the sidelines with you. I thought I would share a few tips for how I capture my kids for OUTDOOR sports. Indoor sports are a whole different challenge.

  • I use a zoom lens. I have a 70-200mm f/2.8 that was previously the lens I shot wedding with. Now I use it for youth sports. It is big, bulky and a bit embarrassing to pull out at games, but it sure is a great lens.
  • I use my biggest aperture (smallest number after the “f/”. Since I am zooming, I usually don’t have trouble getting my subject in focus.
  • I bump my ISO if needed, so I can have a fast shutter speed. If it is super bright out, I can use a lower ISO and a fast shutter speed.

If you none of that makes sense, I would recommend using a zoom lens and using the “sports mode” or using the Tv (S) mode. If you use the Tv (S) mode, you will want to increase the number (the speed) to capture a sharp action shot. The brighter it is outside, the better this will work.

On this particular day it was raining, so I needed a higher ISO. If my shutter speed had been faster, the rain drops would have been frozen droplets instead of blurry streaks. I held an umbrella under one arm and my camera in the other.  I love my boy’s little stance and the mouth-guard expression. ISO 400, 1/500, f/2.810.14football-03My girl getting ready to hike the ball. ISO 200, 1/1000, f/2.810.14football-04ISO 200, 1/2000, f/2.810.14football-05ISO 100, 1/1600, f/2.810.14football-06Touch down!   ISO 100, 1/2000, f/2.810.14football-07

The kids practice together at home all the time. I came outside to find them playing 3 on 1…with a pink sparkle dress. ISO 200, 1/400, f/2.810.14football-02

ISO 200, 1/400, f/2.8

10.14football-01Happy Friday!!

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  • Sarah Pratt - That’s great! Love the rough, tough, and powder puff!

  • Liane - I love these photos! Thanks for the tips :)

  • danielle - Those are so great! Your daughter is awesome :)

  • Carrie Campbell - Firecracker is so fun!! Way to be the perfect mix of feminine and wild child. :) (And, P.S. on a quick scroll through the page, I totally thought she was wearing a Pocahontas dress- which wouldn’t surprise me either.) :)

  • Michelle Hill - Firecracker is my idol.
    The end :)

  • Bambi - That looks great! Thanks for sharing!

    Love from Italy and have a wonderful weekend,



  • Emily Adams - I just wanted to say how awesome it is to see a picture of firecracker bolting down a field and remembering her broken femur. What an awesome testimony to how God has carried her through that and restored her body! :). Love it!

  • Angela - I thought Firecracker was wearing lipstick at first, and thought she is a SASS.A.FRASS! Then I realized it was her mouth guard!

  • Phoebe K - I love her bright red lips! A little glamorous football player. I want to be just like her.

  • Debbie H - and bare feet and flip flops!!! TOUGH kids! hahaha. So fun. And I LOVED your post yesterday about Wendy’s. We don’t have a Wendy’s near where I live, but it makes me want to hunt one down. Your voice and heart are loud and clear, Ashley! And I agree with another commenter, “God looks good on you.” :) What a wonderful expression and fabulous compliment. Happy weekend. (GO SF GIANTS)

  • Trish - I love that she plays in a dress. May she always march to the beat of her own drummer. :)

  • Jenny - Love love love that last shot.

  • AshleyAnn - Phoebe – that is her mouth guard :)

  • Jolene - Last shot. Awesome! :)

  • BeckyH in MA - 70-200 2.8 Is that the “L” series??

About a month ago I was contacted about writing a sponsored post for Wendy’s® & the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA). I typically don’t do sponsored posts, they just aren’t my thing.  This time was different.  I accepted – because it is a very natural fit for me. So thank you Wendy’s for asking and sponsoring this post.

A little while back I mentioned Chris took a new position with a non-profit that is focused on finding children in the local foster care system a loving, safe home. Foster care. Adoption. Reunification. These are all common, if not daily, topics in our home. Chris often says his goal is to work himself out of a job. If the local shelters are empty, there are an abundance of safe, loving foster homes and a strong support network built for foster families – he’ll be out of a job. He is working hard to be out of a job.

Dave Thomas was adopted as a child and founded Wendy’s. He was a strong advocate for finding children permanent, loving homes and he dedicated much of his life to this cause. Dave set up his foundation with one goal – helping children in foster care find adoptive families. He is a hero in my book.

Around this time each year Wendy’s produces ‘Frosty Coupon Books’. The books are a $1.00 each and include 5 coupons for a free Junior Frosty. $.90 of every $1.00 spent on the coupon book goes directly to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The coupon books are available until October 31st. As a family, we purchase these every year. I’ve put them in goody bags for the kids to give friends. We’ve dropped them off in the mailboxes of friends. We’ve surprised distant friends with them in the mail. I thought today I would share 5 ways you can gift the coupons to others…ways a little cuter and more fun than just handing someone a coupon!

See they don’t even look like coupons!

10.14davethomasfoundation-01In a bag: I slipped a single coupon in a small kraft bag, punched a hole, added some ribbon.10.14davethomasfoundation-02Dressed up: I wrapped a booklet in a paper doily, fall colored fabric and a ribbon. These would be fun to give other families.10.14davethomasfoundation-04Rolled up: Super simple…I rolled up one coupon, wrapped a bit of fabric around it and tied it with two ribbons. These would look cute with a whole bunch in a big bowl to take to a party.10.14davethomasfoundation-06As a flag: A friend gifted me this cute succulent in a tea cup. I’m not giving my tea cup away, but if I were…I could fold up a coupon, tape it to a toothpick and add some ribbon for a surprise flag. If you use washi tape it won’t tear the coupon.10.14davethomasfoundation-08Mini Paper Airplanes: My boys didn’t like all the ribbon and floral fabrics. They thought mini paper airplanes were a much better idea. I think these would be fun for a party too. If you pass out candy on Halloween, this would be a cost-effective and easy option instead of candy. A big bowl of these would be a fun just about anywhere! And if you wanted, you could just throw it through the Wendy’s drive-thru when you order. Probably not, but now I am tempted.10.14davethomasfoundation-1010.14davethomasfoundation-12

As much as I enjoy giving these each year, I relish even more the opportunity to get my kids involved and talking about foster care. They get excited about the coupon books – not because of the Frosty treat, but because they see a bigger picture. It is a beautiful thing.

As we fold airplanes and wrap coupons in fabric, we are talking about Dave’s legacy and the values he held dear. We are discovering what one man did with the voice he was given.

These are the three core values of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption:

  • Every child deserves to live in a safe, loving and permanent family
  • No child should linger in foster care or leave the system at age 18 without a permanent family of his or her own
  • Every child is adoptable

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption believes it has an urgent responsibility to be the voice of foster care adoption, so that every child has a chance to find a family.  It exists to raise awareness about the issue and to develop and promote results-driven programs to find homes for children who are waiting to be adopted from foster care in North America.  In the process, the DTFA works to properly inform adults who may have misperceptions about foster care adoption that keep them from getting involved.  Through the money it raises, the DTFA provides free educational resources, promotes awareness initiatives, awards innovative grants, assists policymakers and employers, and supports adoption professionals and agencies throughout the United States and Canada in an effort to find every child a forever home. 

Adoption and foster care are so tightly woven into the fabric of my family. Right now we are not foster parents, we are using our time and voices in others ways for children in foster care. My kids are excited about the day we become a foster family. I’m excited about that day. For now, I will do what I can.

For you being involved may mean taking that brave step to become a foster parent. It may be becoming respite care for a foster family. It may mean providing a meal for a foster family or a gift basket for a case worker. It may be becoming a Court Appointed Social Advocate (CASA). It may be buying coupons and folding them like mini airplanes. Use what you have. Do what you can. Support and encourage others to do the same.

Though this is technically a sponsored post by Wendy’s and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, I hope you can hear my heart and my voice. I hope you consider being involved in foster care, however that may look for you. A collective voice raised for children is a mighty powerful thing.



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  • Stephanie Wiater - Beautifully written. I have tears streaming down my face. While we are not in a position to foster, we will be purchasing some of those coupon books. God bless you for sharing your heart!

  • Dana - These coupons would also be great to hand out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night!

  • Angela - I was not aware Wendy’s did this, but will definitely be purchasing some of those books this year. I am continually touched to read how willing you are to go where the Lord leads and do as the Lord instructs. I have read through your adoption story and the stories of Little One’s medical procedures, and love knowing that she feels the love of God because of you and your family in her life. I am inspired that you feel compelled to someday extend your family to hurting kids in your community. God looks good on you, Ashley Ann.

  • Amy - What a beautiful post. You write so well about things you are passionate about. Our family also purchases many of these books and give them out coupon by coupon or book by book. Thank you for the great gift ideas.

  • Crystal - This is great! I was just wondering what fun little gift or surprise I could include in my monthly Samaritan’s healthcare share envelope! (where we send our monthly payments to actual people, not the company) Also, I think the idea to even include anything was probably sparked by you, as I’ve read your blog over time and been encouraged by how meaningful little gifts can be. :) Thanks for being a great example.

  • Michelle Hill - The Campbell Family are my heroes.

    I heard you loud and clear and I am excited to give back to this foundation. I couldn’t agree more with the key values you brought up and I would be lying if I said I didn’t just consider becoming involved in some way with foster care.

    thank you for sharing this post. It was beautiful.

  • Erica Baker - I love the Dave Thomas Foundation! I had no idea about the “Frosty Coupons”. Thanks for sharing!

  • Margaret - Everything about this is beautiful! I love how you included ideas for everyone to be involved–from ‘big’ ways to ‘small’ ways. Such great encouragement!

  • Sherry - I have purchased the coupon books in the past and really thought nothing of it. Thank you for bringing to light the wondramous benefits of the coupons — the little and the big. We will be purchasing more this year and spreading the love.

  • Katie B - Yay for adoption advocacy and Wendy’s! (and the Campbell family!! ;) )We have bought the coupon books for years to include in our trick or treat offerings. I never thought to do more than toss them in the bowl, so I am thrilled to see your “gift-wrapping” ideas. The neighborhood boys will LOVE the planes!

  • Chrissy - As a foster mom, it warms my heart to no end to see you show such love and passion towards these precious children. Thank you for this post!

  • Jen Winsbro - I had no idea Wendy’s did this! Thank you for spreading the word. I love your idea of dressing them up!

  • the inadvertent farmer - Yeah for CASA! We cannot become foster parents (yet) but being a CASA has been such a personal journey of growth, heartache, and triumph. You cannot sit with a foster child who’s parents don’t show for visits with your heart aching for him. You cannot go to an adoption ceremony without feeling triumphant that a little one has found a forever home! You are proud for bio-parents that get their act together and are reunited with their children. Then you see the never ending stack of new cases and try not to get discouraged. Being a CASA is not easy but it is a way to help those that have no one to stand up for them…I encourage any of Ashley’s readers to consider the few hours a week it takes to make a difference in a child’s life! Here is the the national site, it can help you find training in your area.

  • Amy D - Hey Ashley, thanks so much for sharing this and for your voice for foster care and adoption! I was gonna mention to you, because of your heart for this… Did you hear that the amazing talented people that produced the ReMoved short film (that you shared earlier this year about a girl in foster care from her point of view) are nearing the end of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to produce a ReMoved, Part 2 (a longer one)? They had such a huge response from the first one, including from foster alums and agencies, that they want to dive deeper into the story and share the dynamics between the child, the birth and foster families, the social worker, etc, to raise awareness and compassion. They have about 7 days left in the Kickstarter campaign with just under $30K to raise (they’ve raise $92K in about 3 weeks, goal is $120K… almost there!). If they can’t meet their goal in Thursday, Oct 16, then no second film will be produced. Would you consider checking it out, and possibly even highlighting it on your blog? https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/heschle/removed-part-two Thanks for your consideration!

  • Elizabeth Highsmith - As a CASA and a believer I’m in love!!!! I can’t wait to go buy coupons and dress them up and pass them out! Can you share the name of the organization Chris works for? Hugs and high fives!

  • elizabeth H - Ashley, I had no idea that Wendy’s did this!!
    Our family will definitely be involved in this worthwhile fund!
    thanks ever so much for sharing!

  • kimberly oyler - this is the most natural sponsored post i’ve ever read. i’m gonna go get some coupon books for my nanny kids! thanks ashley!

  • Juice - As a former foster respite care provider and soon to be foster/adopt parent, this post brought tears to my eyes.

  • Sarah - I love Chris’s attitude to work himself out of a job. That is what I learned while taking ministry classes in college and it’s great to hear that other people have that mentality too. And thanks for sharing about a great opportunity to support foster children! I agree with Dana – a great Halloween idea!

  • Kaitlyn - Awesome idea to give out the coupons for halloween! Frosty’s are WAY better than candy! This post really struck me, looking up how I have help local foster care homes in our area!

  • Noelle - I really love your heart for kids. I wonder if you would ever write a post on how you balance raising your kids’ awareness of adoption/foster issues with making sure your youngest daughter doesn’t feel like a “project.” My daughter was adopted, and we did it because we believe adoption is important, but sometimes I’m afraid that when I talk about our reasons for adopting with others, it makes her sound like we “rescued” her or like she is an issue, not our beloved daughter. I’d love to hear your thoughts sometime.

  • Angie - Ashley, I know you are super busy and you get dozens of comments on your blog every single day but I would love to speak with you more about what Chris is doing now. I work for an Independent Christian based home for children from abandoned, abused, and neglected kids. We are trying to help children before they are placed in the foster care system and are forced to endure failed placement after failed placement. We strive to give children long term placement in a safe, Christian home with a mother and father who can provide stability, safety and love. Some of our home parents have been with us for up to 30 years. I would love to speak with Chris about our homes being an option for some of the kids he works with. Please email me and we can talk more about it. Thank you for all you are doing to help with kids in need. God bless you and your family!

  • Trish - Not only do I love that you guys do this, I adore that you [partially] quoted one of my favorite things Arthur Ashe ever said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

  • SophieBugsMom (Sarah) - Ashley & Chris… I would love to talk to you about this non-profit that Chris has a position with. This is exactly the type of work I would love to do in my state (KY) and wonder if there is a possibility here.

    I love DTF… and will definitely be supporting the cause by buying the frosty coupons!! So glad you decided to do this post!

  • Nora - My husband I were just sworn in as CASAs last night. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - Wonderful post! You are an amazing person, Ashley Ann. :)

  • Robin C. - Eeek!! I never knew this about Dave Thomas. We eat at Wendy’s ALL the time so this blog reader will definitely be purchasing a TON of these coupons. The holidays are approaching and it will be so EASY to give these away – for such a worthy cause! Thanks for posting.

  • susie - wow- what a great deal!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Did you know I worked at Wendy’s from age 16 to age 22? They helped put me through college. Thank you so much for sharing their mission!

  • Sherry - I missed the post on Chris’ new job! But my word, I am so ridiculously excited about it. Foster care is obviously close to my heart, but Wendy’s frosties…really close to that:). I want to hear more about his position!

  • All In Good Twine » Blog Archive A Small Way To Give Back » All In Good Twine - […] with her through email a bit and she has a heart of gold.  A couple weeks ago she wrote a post about the Frosty Coupon Book that Wendy’s is selling now through October […]