A highlight of my day during December is checking the mailbox for Christmas cards. I love that so many people are doing cards with photographs on them. It is always so fun to see how families grow and change. We put all the cards on our living room chalkboard. Yes, there are only 3 stockings (mine & Chris’ are on the fireplace). Every time I found one for Baby Sister (online), it would end up being sold out.  Inspired by these stockings on MADE, I think I am going to make one out of a sweater and tatting. That won’t happen before Christmas…she won’t know the difference.

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The chalkboard is full of cards from this year and old pictures from winter’s past…and 4 large SUMMER pictures of my kids. I keep thinking I should replace those shirtless outside pics for something more winterish. However, I am not a fan of winter and those pictures remind me for every dreary, cold winter there is a hot and splashing fun summer.
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Chris got a card from Dave Ramsey this year. I added it to our chalkboard it makes me laugh each time I pass it because you know we are so tight with the Ramseys. Oh no! I forgot to send them ours! I am sure they are checking their mailbox daily in anticipation for it to arrive.

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And here’s our card:

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I thought I was being clever with the globes and strung lights for “Light of the World” (another name for Jesus)…however, several friends didn’t get it and said, “Oh, that’s fun you took pictures with your globes.” I’m not as clever as I think at times!12.09card12.09card2

As I am writing this I noticed “Indiana Jones” is spelled as “Indian Jones”. YIKES! Just checked a real card and it was right there…I must have messed it up when saving it for the web.

Before you pack away or throw away this year’s Christmas cards I thought I’d share a few ways to re-purpose them…

*For photo cards, turn them into a Kid’s Prayer Journal

*Make a Circle Garland from CraftStylish

*Cut apart the cards to use as tags for gifts next year

*Make clothespin magnets or scrap paper magnets to give away next year

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas…see you next week!

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  • Susan - Love the “Light of the World!” Merry Christmas!

  • Melissa - Merry Christmas Ashley Ann – may your day be filled with laughter and love.
    Thanks for the really fun card ideas – I adore your chalkboard, what a great idea to use it for your cards.

  • Charity - I love the back of your card. Such a fun and creative way to tell about each of your kids. The recipients will love them!

  • Casey - love the chalkboard over your couch and the way you’ve displayed everything! Also, I really love how you have little snippets about your kids on the card

  • Rachel - I love your giant chalkboard and how you’ve displayed all of your holiday cards. Have a wonderful Christmas!!

  • georgia davis - No worries, my card said Happy Holidays 2010! I think it was snapfish error. But, it still made my upset.

  • Shanalea - I love the light of the world idea…I might just steal it :) We used our cards last year as a prayer journal and the kids really got into it. We will be doing it again.

  • Luisina - Hi! Mery Christmas too! I love your blog :)

  • Teresa - I see you got a card from the McKay Family. I have Abigail McKay in my class at Rejoice Christian School in Owasso. Sweet family and mom and dad always take great pictures.

  • Christina - Merry Christmas

  • Lauren Roberts - Merry Christmas to our dear friends!

  • Jill R - LOVE the card! Merry Christmas!

  • Crystal - Your card is great! Even if people didn’t get it, I think it’s very clever. Merry Christmas!

  • Jaimie - i’m obsessed with that chalkboard. did you make it or buy it? what a great idea- love the size.

  • sbj - Just curious where you made your cards. They are beautiful. Did you make them online?

  • jokemijn - you make lovely pictures! i discovered you through ffffound. Have a nice christmas-time.

  • lea helmerich - i absolutely love your blog! my daughter referred me to it, and i am so glad.

    come visit my letters to young mommies.

    blessings!

  • Holly - What a great card! I love all your pictures on the chalkboard. I’m trying to figure out exactly I’m going to do on our wall in our living room, and that’s a great idea! And I’m super impressed that you got an actual card from Dave Ramsey. We got the same one, only it was an e-card. Not quite the same!

  • Janica - I LOVED the Christmas card photo! Such a fun idea. I was just wondering what you printed them on and where you got them printed. Is that a weird question? Sorry. Love your website; it’s so inspirational and the pics are INCREDIBLE:) Thanks. Merry Christmas

  • AshleyAnn - I designed the cards…customizing a template I had. I printed them at White House Custom Color and added the ribbon ties myself.

  • Trina - LOVE the stockings!! Where are they from??

  • AshleyAnn - Trina – the cards are from Pottery Barn Kids…over the course of 3 years.

  • Emily - I LOVE your card – what a great idea!! I also love your ideas of what to do with Christmas cards!

  • Katie - Where did you get that chalkboard, or did you make it and if you made it how?

  • AshleyAnn - Katie: We made the chalkboard. I cut a piece of hardboard to size (it runs about $7.00 a board and is near the pegboard at most lumber stores. It is lightweight and thin). Then we cut a groove in some 1×3 boards. I painted the hardboard with chalkboard paint then slid it in the grooves. We nailed and glued it in place. I banged up the wood frame using chains, nails, etc. to make it look old then wiped on a bit of wood stain.

  • Heather - Hi, I am a new reader, found your blog through ohdeeoh and wanted to know where you got your daughter’s headband in the Christmas card? It is darling! Love your blog.

  • AshleyAnn - Heather – it is from Lou and Lee on etsy. If you do a search on this blog you can find some links to their site.

  • Lacey McKay - yay! I see my card up there! How fun! That board is so cute! You are so creative! Can you tell I’m getting caught up on your blog? I keep forgetting that I can’t get it through Google Reader and I figure you just haven’t updated lately! I loved your card too. I didn’t see the light bulbs, but I did get the gist of it!

  • Sandy - PLEASE tell me where you got that adorable chalkboard. I am so in love with it and the whole idea! You are an inspiration!

  • this is it!!!! « simple intrigue - [...] because today I found this jem of a magnetic chalkboard featured on Odeehdoh today! Ashley at Under the Sycamore is my kind of girl! Not only is she an amazing photog – she had exactly the same idea I had [...]

  • Margie - I LOVE this chalkboard! I saw it on Ohdeedoh, which brought me to your blog and I am loving your crafts and photo taking tips! I am inspired to be more crafty and master my new dslr camera, not to mention talking my husband into helping me make the chalkboard!

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I am gearing up to enjoy a wonderful week with family and I hope you are too. Last year I posted a few tips for present opening pictures (you can read it here).  Part of that post focused on really being IN THE MOMENT with your friends and family. It is so easy for me to spend an entire evening behind the camera capturing it instead of living in it. I’m trying hard to set my camera down this week.

Here are a few glimpses of some of what has been going on around here (no hospitals stays included!):

Salt dough ornaments

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Christmas Performances

He focused on me the whole time – made my heart smile.12.09random-6

He even looked at me while he picked his nose. That didn’t make my heart smile.12.09random-5

I bought supplies to make gingerbread houses (out of graham crackers). I envisioned 3 cute little houses. The boys were all working on their own and I stepped out of the room. I came back to find that the Teddy Graham Bears looked all crazy. I asked what happened and got this response from the older 2 boys, ” There was a war. Some bears lost their legs. These bears fell on the roof and landed on their heads. This guy stepped on a bomb and lost his arm.” So much for the cute little houses I dreamed of. After all, “there was a war.”12.09random-7

Another Christmas Performance. He was the Angel Gabriel and had a little solo. This is just before he started to sing…he was a little giddy. I realized about 30 minutes before we left the house that he didn’t have any type of “Christmas-y” outfit or clothes. I was WAY BEHIND on laundry and the only non t-shirt he had was the white oxford he wore to school that day. So I figured that was fine…until he ate a green Skittle off his gingerbread house. That tiny little Skittle left a long drool mark all down his white oxford. So, what is a mom to do with a performance starting soon and 4 kids to get ready by herself? Throw a t-shirt over the Skittle covered white oxford – that’s what she does. And when her sister leans over during the performance and says, “Nice Christmas outfit Ashley”. She smiles and says, “I think he looks pretty cute.”12.09random-8

Pure Delight.12.09random-9

My favorite decoration – Baby Jesus asleep in the hay. Made by Biggest Brother when he was 2.

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He is crazy about her.

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She got some new shoes. You’ll be seeing more of these soon…I am working on some pictures for Gracious May. They are the cutest little things ever.

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Army Men pj pants. Shirtless. Cowboy hat. Cute toes. My boy.12.09random-20

Hope you are enjoying your week!

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  • ashlee - i love gracious may’s shoes…but i cannot settle on a pair:) too many beautiful choices! i am going to try and actually take pictures this year. Im always too in the moment to think about it until its too late. Im the other extreme:) gonna work on that this week!

  • Christy - Awh love the B&W pix of littlest guy w/baby girl!! Adorable.
    Love her gracious may shoes!! Too cute

  • Erin - Adorable post!! I love the “picking the nose” picture! Great for showing to his girlfriend someday (not any day soon though) ;)

  • Rachel - I love all of the pics and the story of the gingerbread house. It’s funny how we dream up these beautiful houses and then end up with something not quite as beautiful as we dreamed it would be, but nonetheless, still so special because our kids put so much thought and imagination into it…have a wonderful Christmas!

  • anne c - ashley! I love keeping up with your family and learning from all of your tips/experiences! thanks for sharing. If the timing is right when you start the new snapshot sessions, I am going to fly from SC to learn as much as possible from you..seriously. I just got a new dslr camera for the sole purpose of capturing my daughters life..knowing that she is going to be an adult before I know it. Now that I have the camera,I need major help and am so excited to learn. Thanks again..and have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

  • Jeannette Swan - Merry Christmas!!! Corban made a “baby Jesus” this year like the one you have – I love it – he insisted that “baby Jesus” stays under the tree, so I got a pic of him placing it there! Love all you notes and pictures.

  • Cath - Merry Christmas! I rarely comment here but let me tell you I visit your blog everyday, it makes me smile :) I wish someday when I’ve kids to do all the cool stuff you do with them (and I’m only 18 xD). Your photos make my heart melt everytime.

  • Kara - “being in the moment”…I’m still working on that! Sometimes I remedy by NOT taking my camera. Well, truthfully, I sneak my point & shoot in my purse, just in case there is a moment I must capture!

  • Lesley - Super cute post and I love the gingerbread house war! And…he looked awesome in his Okie Grown shirt – I expected nothing less. Merry Christmas :)

  • robyn - great post! and so true… im often running around trying to capture the moment that i miss it.
    what settings did you use to get that shot of the boys doing crafts with the tree lights looking so great in the background?

  • Kathy Rabago - Love all of these pictures. If you ever have time, I’d love to hear how you capture such clear pictures inside. I have a canon 5d, and all of my indoor pics are orangish, no matter what white balance setting I use. Then I have to crank up the iso and get horribly grainy pics. Anyway–love your pics, so thanks for the peek into your life!

  • Dianne Avery - I LOVE the “tone” of your pictures. So warm and welcoming, lovely!!

  • Anna - What a fabulous (and gorgeous!) series of photos. Lovely.

  • Carrie - LOL about nose picking while adoringly looking at you.

Photos taken with an iPhone and P&S camera:

We started off our Christmas Break with a little hospital stay…Littlest Brother had to have a minor surgery. Waking up from general anesthesia he was IRRATE. Throwing stuffed animals and screaming – not fun. Can I just say I love doctors and nurses, but I hate hospitals. I hated seeing him in that little gown and hooked up to stuff. Hated it. It’s over. I’m grateful for a strong, healthy boy.

12.09hospital-10Our room in the Children’s Hospital was big and sunny and nice. But I still hate hospitals. Little guy here hated his IV and oxygen monitor. He kept trying to rip it out and would cry “All done. All done.” I love nurses and doctors. I hate hospitals.
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The big boys stayed with Nana. Baby sister stayed in a hospital drawer. I’m not kidding.

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I can add this to the list of random places my children have slept. During the course of our stay a sweet family came to visit all the kids at the hospital…bearing Christmas gifts. They were so kind and engaging to Littlest Brother. I was embarrassed when they looked over and saw my daughter sleeping in a drawer. Oh well, you do what you gotta do to get kids to sleep – at least Chris and I do.

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Our gloomy, grumpy, sad little boy transformed when his big brothers came to visit. He was sitting on the couch eating ice when they walked through the door. He climbed down, ran to Biggest Brother, threw his arms around him in a big hug and wouldn’t let go. Eventually he let go and started running around the room and trying to wrestle with them. Here he is trying to do a somersault with Biggest Brother. It was an incredible moment to see the change in him that his big brothers caused. Nothing like it.12.09hospital-04

Thank you to all our friends and family who prayed for us and checked in on us during our short stay at the hospital. We are so grateful.

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  • Alba - Dear Ashley, I’m really sorry to hear about it, and I’m glad you are back home. Hospitals only have a good good place, maternity.
    A drawer? Well, it’s an option ;-) I totally agree about do anything for make them to sleep.
    Take care. Petonets, Alba

  • Kari Sanchez - Bless your hearts! I’m glad everyone is doing well! Merry Christmas Ashley! Thanks for all you, for all the blog posts- they are so encouraging, so inspirational! God has blessed you with many, many talents!

  • Ryan - I’m so glad he’s doing well and the surgery went smoothly. That had to be pretty stressful for you and Chris.

    Don’t feel bad about putting her in a drawer – it was open afterall. When we were about your boys’ ages, my brother and I would sleep standing up behind the front seat in my Mom’s El Camino. There was like a 8″ opening between the seat and the wall. Imagine explaining that if she had gotten pulled over.

  • alamama - I am so glad he is doing better now! My heart goes out to you!

  • ashlee - glad all is well with him now. i think sleeping in the drawer is pretty ingenius and resourceful!

  • Christina - Glad he is ok. My daughter had her tonsils out when she was 7 over Christmas break, so I can relate to the “sick” kid over the holidays. Hope he is bouncing and back to normal by the big day.

  • Erin - Glad that Littlest Bro is doing better, he’s too cute to be down. And think of the drawer as more of a “trundle bed” of sorts..

  • Lauren Roberts - Glad your back home! I think little girl’s bed was totally appropriate. She didn’t seem to mind:) We will continue to pray for littlest brother to have a speedy recovery.

  • meg duerksen - you will love having photos of this someday….memories captured forever. so glad he’s okay.

  • Jaimie - So sorry to hear about the surgery and the hospital. yuck. But, I can’t stop laughing about the drawer- she can’t get out yet, it’s okay!

  • Stephanie May* - Haha – LOVE the drawer bed! Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode :)

  • lorae - Yuck on the hospital visit! Awesome on the drawer! Had to use a large suitcase once, unzipped of course. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and enjoy your holidays with your sweet family!

  • Jeannette Swan - I’m so glad he is feeling better and you didn’t have to stay the night. Praying for a super quick recovery and blessed Christmas for all!!

  • Lisa - LOVE that you put your daughter in the drawer! :) Hope that Littlest Brother feels better soon!

  • Liz Pray - So glad to know he is home! I remember Cairo waking up from his anisthesia irrate…it was aweful and we had to do it 3 more times! He also had horrific gas (HEE, HEE)!

  • Lisa - Glad to hear he is doing well! Hospitals are a stressful and scary place. Sending big hugs your way!

  • Kara - I’ve heard the drawer idea before! My mom said she used to do that with me and my brother.

  • Cheree - My cousin slept in a drawer the first few months of his life…

  • PamperingBeki - Awww, sweet baby.

    Home will feel better than ever before!

  • Kate - Praying for a speedy recovery for you guys! Merry Christmas.

  • maegan - I know exactly how you feel. So glad y’all are back home. And the drawer is totally appropriate.

  • rachel denbow - oh, I do hope he has a quick recovery. That shot of Breese’s foot sticking out of the drawer is the best!

  • Sophie - I’m so glad you littlest man is all better and back home now.
    And even if it is slightly unusual, the baby sister does look ADORABLE, even in a drawer.

    I hope you all have a very merry Christmas
    Sophie
    xx

  • Liz - I am so glad he is doing better. We spent two weeks at that hospital including Thanksgiving day when my daughter Allison was sick. It really is a wonderful place and they have the best nurses! We have to go back in Janurary for her to have surgery and I know that they will take good care of our family!

    Ny nother-in-law is one of 12 kids and they all slept in dresser drawers when they were babies because they could not afford cribs. Once she was babysitting the girls when they were little and when we came to get them she had them tied to barstools with dish towels because she didn’t have high chairs. No that was one I hadn’t seen before. We bought her a highchair to keep at her house after that! Now they are 5 and 7 but I always think about that and laugh!

  • Kelly - Oh Ashley, I did a search on your blog for “couch” because I bought a couch at an estate sale today and immediately was thinking about what you might do to it to make it interesting. :) I saw this post and it made me see that God really is at work that you are able to be handling your present hospital stay so well. God bless you and have a happy Easter! Kelly