I spent two weeks at home this summer – two weeks. That is just nuts for me. I am a HOME BODY. Surprisingly, I did pretty good with all that travel. In fact, if I could convince a travel company to sponsor this blog I might just take this crew on the road for good (hint, hint…anyone, anyone?:)). Well, not for good (the grandparents wouldn’t let me), but for a while at least! One part I love about travel is observing the culture of the places we visit. I’ve mentioned that before, but it really is such a fun part to me. We just spent a week in Estes Park, CO with Chris’ whole family. My youngest son – Colorado suits him well.

I’ve got a ton of pictures of all the kids from our trip, but as I scrolled through all the images, the ones of him stood out the most. He has so many layers to his personality – my contemplative, yet so goofy six year old. I love seeing the various parts of him in the images from our trip.

8.14CO3-018.14CO3-028.14CO3-068.14CO3-038.14CO3-058.14CO3-078.14CO3-08He told me his favorite part of Colorado is the water….the rivers in the summer and the snow in the winter. The Colorado water. Smart kid….

***Just a reminder registration for the final 2014 SnapShop courses begins today. Click here for more info or to register.

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  • Jes - Lovely photos, as always. Love all the expressions on his face! I also love Colorado, it’s one of those places that touches your soul and makes it hard to leave.

  • Birdy - He looks so happy near the water, it seams like at least your kids aren´t home bodies … every post I saw from your vacations, your kids look amazingly happy! We all should travel more and leaner more about the world!

    I wish you an amazing monday
    Love from Germany and the -fatcatconnection-

    Ps: Where do you have the best ideas?

  • danielle - It does seem to suit him :) I would not mind living there myself!

  • Jenn - my husbands favorite part is the rivers and water too. we gave him a shirt this year for his birthday. Advice from a river.
    it has been years but when we moved to wa state we visited estes park and it was fantastic. one of our favorite places. we are now back in the south but loved our time traveling. can’t wait to take our kids.

  • Carson - Hi, Ashley. We are a National Park family; spent the first part of August 2013 in Estes Park. We are planning our only Disney World trip this fall, so no NP this year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed living vicariously through every second of your travels you found worthy of sharing. And, for that, I thank you, my dear. My only son starts pre-k this year, and we recently decided we will be homeschooling him (officially beginning next year). Y’all have been on my mind lately. Simply wanted to stop by and share well-wishes for a fantastic year. Prayers that you not only fill their hearts with love and knowledge, but that they teach you a thing or two, as well. Fondly, Carson

  • Amanda - Hi -

    Given your family’s love for CO, you should check out Camp Timberline. Christian sleep away camp in Estes Park. Modeled after Kanakuk Camps. Life changing camp for our sweet kids!


  • TheDenverPack - I agree with your son. We moved here 4 1/2 years ago, and after 13+ moves in my life, it was like coming home to a place I’d never been. Absolutely love our new home.

  • Jenny B. - I read Meg’s post this morning about her family’s trip to Estes Park. :) If you didn’t plan to be there at the same time, that’s pretty funny. Great minds think alike! ;)

  • Laura S. - I so wish a company would sponsor you. I loved seeing the travel pictures and places you and your family went. I still want to see more!

  • Kelly - Awww I thought that was Estes! I met my husband at a bible school in Estes Park. That town holds a very special place in my heart :)

  • Michele - I loved the Charming Campbell Travel Series which you shared with us this summer. It reminded me of the television series, Brady Bunch when they all go to Hawaii and Family Affair when Buffy and Jody go to Europe. It was fun to think about where your next adventure led you and your sweet family. Unfortunately, I have no connections with Travel Channel or Samsonite but I will endorse your excellent idea!

  • Kelleyn - Glad you and your family are having so many adventures.

  • Ashley Smith - Hi Ashley. I found your blog last summer while I was planning to begin homeschooling and I check in regularly. You have a gift for capturing the beauty the Lord has made and your blog has been a regular uplift over this past year. I don’t think I’ve ever commented but I just had to. We just got back from Estes Park too! I would have been so surprised to see you there. It would have been so nice to meet you! We made the trip from MN and were there for a week. My husband’s family has been going there (the YMCA of the Rockies) since the early 1930s I think! His Nana celebrated her 88th b-day while we were there. In fact the outdoor chapel there was set up about 10 years ago in memory of my husband’s mom who passed away unexpectedly when he was in high school. We were there for vespers and our 8 year old took communion for the first time which was really special. Anyways, it’s such a small world! I should have said thank you a long time ago, but thanks so much for sharing your gifts. Your writing/photography really is a blessing. I told my husband on our way out to CO that after seeing your post on your RV trip I totally have the desire to do that someday. You made it look awesome and doable with little kids :) Thanks again!

  • Katie - Hi Ashley,
    I am really interested in your DSLR course. How long do we have to register? How many people do you take? I love looking at your pictures. I hope to be able to capture my daughters lives like you do. Thanks!

  • elizabeth H - welcome home!!


Both August SnapShop courses are booked and begin this Sunday!

August SnapShop Students (DSLR & Phone) – Over the weekend, you should have received an email with information on how to log into the course. Both courses begin this Sunday. The email was sent to the email account associated with your PayPal account. If you did not receive your email, please check your spam folder first and then email me if you still cannot locate it. I want everyone to be able to log in when they are ready!

The next SnapShops will be:

Phone course: October 5 – October 25, 2014 – registration opens August 11, 2014 8:00am US Central

DSLR course: October 5 – November 1, 2014 – registration opens August 11, 2014 8:00am US Central

You can find more information and register for either SnapShop on the course website, click here

flourishSince I’m talking about SnapShops today, I thought I would share a few photo tips using a couple recent pictures. These aren’t so much tips, I suppose, as just more information on how I got the shots with my iPhone. If you are interested in a SnapShop course, it will give you a glimpse into what the courses are like.


I asked my middle son to take the photo above of Chris and I. I began by taking a photo of Chris and walking my son through the process – how I wanted the shot composed and where to tap the screen to get the best exposure so Chris wasn’t too dark. After I walked him through it, I stepped into the shot and asked him to mimic what I showed him. I owe my son a huge thanks…this is one of my favorite pictures of us!

8.14co2-02I was climbing some rocks and the beautiful light coming through the trees caught my eye. My boys were playing chase among the trees and rocks with their cousins. I knew one of them would soon run past where the light was shining down. I positioned myself where I wanted and got the light at just the right angle….then I waited. It was just a few seconds before my son ran by and I snapped the photo just as the light outlined his running body.

8.14co2-03I was actually taking a photo of my oldest and youngest walking together. When my son realized what I was doing, he said he had a better idea for a photo. He suggested I use my timer (I use the one in the Camera+ app) and get a shot of us swinging her. I propped the phone against a fence post on the ground and set the timer. We swung her as the phone camera took the shot. Sidenote: I’m learning my kids’ willingness to be in front of my camera is often reflected in my affirmation of their suggestions and my own willingness to be in front of the camera.

I’m sitting here trying to figure out a way to wrap up this post and it just isn’t coming. So…”yay, for iPhones and kids”…that will have to do!

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  • Natalie - Such great tips! thank you!

  • Sarah - I’m so excited to start your course on Sunday!

  • Carrie - Yay for iPhones and kids!!! :) Awesome.

  • Jess Z. - Hi Ashley…do you think you’ll have another DSLR course before February? I’m due with my 3rd baby then, so wondering if I should try to sign up for the October course, or if I can wait for the next one…thanks!!!

  • Urska - I love taking pictures with the timer. It is the only way I can get myself in pictures with the family. Recently a friend introduced me to CamMe app. It is a timer but you activate it with hand motion. You can stand wherever you wish and then activate from far. You should try it out and your children will have a blast with it.

  • Donna Thompson - HI- just wanted to share with you today- I volunteer at the Naples Zoo twice a week and today a family came in with 5 children. The youngest reminded me of yours- I asked the mom if she was adopted (taking a chance) and she was from China. Had the same surgery, etc. Also her other children were also adopted. I mentioned your blog. I thought it was so fun to talk with her and wish she could have stayed longer. It’s a small world sometimes :)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - That is an AWESOME shot of you and Chris! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • Molly Quigley - That ending is just fine by me. :)

  • O'Neill - So excited for the dslr class! I took your phone class and absolutely loved it, it really inspired me, thank you for doing them Ashley. :)

  • Cassidy - It’s beyond adorable that your kids get involved in the pictures beyond simply smiling. That last picture is just precious. (:

  • amanda - love these beautiful captures.

  • Nicole C - I’m almost embarrassed to even ask, but have you tried the Joby GorillaPod for your phone? I use it all the time with my iPhone!

My youngest daughter and I ran into Ikea on Saturday night. It was a super quick pit stop while the rest of the family grabbed dinner. I had a list and a mission. We flew through that store. She laughed, held the shopping list, said “hello!” to random people and helped unload our cart.  A 20 minute trip to Ikea is a record in it’s own right, but I was celebrating something more. We stood outside waiting for the rest of the family to come pick us up and it dawned on me that I had fun shopping with my daughter. It seems like a simple thing, but something so simple seemed impossible just a short time ago.

For nearly the first 1.5 years after she came home, we avoided shopping. Large places and lots of people overwhelmed her. I won’t go into details, but it was a terrible combination for her. With lots of time and lots of baby steps things began to change. I still remember the first time (just a few months ago) we went to Target together and there were no tears involved. It was about a 5 minute trip, but it could have been 3 hours for all I cared. I was so giddy…a glimpse of hope. More slow baby steps. More people. More stores. More crowds. And then this week I found myself at Ikea on a Saturday night in Denver with a bubbly 3 year old shopping by my side. We were laughing and there were no tears involved. If we can conquer Ikea on a weekend – we’ll there really aren’t any baby steps left.

She owned that place. Like a boss.

**and, yes, we are on the road again…celebrating Chris’ parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with his extended family. I’m beginning to forget what my house looks like!

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  • danielle - YAY! Congrats little one :) What an amazing accomplishment!

  • Michelle Hill - I just want to SQUEEZE her! I love how glimpses of her personality show through her photos. This little daughter of yours is a strong, inspirational person. she’s accomplished so much in only three years, imagine what she can do in a life time! :)

  • Holly - IKEA is overwhelming for adults! Way to go Little one!

  • Carol - Sounds like she’s ready to go shopping with Nana!

  • TheDenverPack - Yeah! Such big steps :) And I nearly broke into tears after making the mistake of running to Ikea for a few things a couple of months ago! Love her little poses :)

  • Lori - High five little one! and for mama too!

  • jenny - THAT is absolutely adorable! so happy for you both. it is amazing how all of those milestones sneak up so quietly and quick :)

  • Evie - High five to Little One and her Momma! Your hope-filled stories bring me to tears.

  • Laura J - Hip Hip Hooray for both of you! I think back to when she first came home and could only stare at her hands. Your girl is amazing. One of my favorite quotes about this kind of thing is from Mister Rogers.
    A berry ripens in its own good time … and so does a child’s readiness. Just as the one needs water and sunlight, the other needs the patient reassurance of loving adults who can trust children to grow according to their own timetables. — Mister Rogers

  • Natalie - That is so amazing!! Congrats babygirl!

  • Anna - Awesome! I am so happy for you both! Congratulations!

  • Ashley Green - Love her self confident smile! So excited for her and how much she has grown.

  • Molly Quigley - Kid cracks me up in this picture.

  • Amanda Davis - Go Little One! I know her story is so much more complex than ours, but our son has dealt with severe sleep apnea his entire life, and he’s also a bit introverted in general. Shopping trips were insanely difficult, and always brought us both to tears. He never had the desire to do anything, and always wanted to sleep. He finally had surgery in April, and now, he’s the happiest 3.5 year old I know. The first time we went to Target with no tears, and he actually spoke the the cashier and asked for a sticker, I cried. I feel you mama! Our little ones are warriors <3

  • Emily - Woohooo!

  • kimberly oyler - yeah! get it girl!

  • Carrie Rowe - HOORAY!

  • gail mcfadden - just found your site and love it! you are an extemely special family and it warms my heart……

  • Kelleyn - Yeah for baby steps!

  • Maureen - Yay!!!! Way to go Little One. We send a houseful of Cheers and Love from Alaska. You are so awesome!

  • joan - Yay! She is such a doll! Here’s a random question…could you share a list of camping meals you make? My husband and I are taking our 5 kids camping in a couple weeks and I would love some ideas. Thanks!