The first year Chris and I got married we went to a friend’s land and cut down our first Christmas tree. It was about 3 feet high and was a pretty sad sight. Searching for the perfect tree is a highlight of the winter season for me. It is so much more fun now that the boys are older and take a genuine interest in the hunt. Despite our efforts to get a ‘perfect’ tree it seems like every year once we get it in the house we notice all its imperfections and oddities – which is just perfect for our family!

Photo Tip: Take the time to capture special events that you repeat each year…then take the time to look back over the years at the changes. Don’t get caught up in trying to exactly replicate the shot from the previous year.

Wow – what a cute LITTLE family we were 2 years ago.11.09tree-01

And this year we had 3 boys running through the rows of trees. I think this is their favorite part of looking for a tree.11.09tree-1

Why do they feel the need to wrestle anytime they are in an open area outside?11.09tree-211.09tree-2b

Add a girl to the mix. Though everyone thought we had 4 boys – I guess I needed some pink or a bow (there are some ruffles on those jeans).11.09tree-3


This just makes me laugh, it’s like the tree farm has a yearly deal going on: “Buy a tree get a kid free”11.09tree-6

“Just along for the ride.” – the story of her life thus far.11.09tree-7

And 2 random ones from 2007 that I just love of Big Brother.11.09tree-7b

Back at home putting up the lights.11.09tree-8


Once all the lights were up, he sat down in the yard to draw a picture of our “beautiful house”. Love it.11.09tree-11

So this is one of my favorite things to do leading up to Christmas…what are some of yours?

FYI Google Reader still isn’t working on my blog

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  • christina larsen - Putting up the tree is one of my favorites. Tim and I used to go chop down a tree, then I realized that I was horribly allergic to a real tree in my house, so we have had artificial ever since. I do miss the smell, but I guess I’ll live. Holiday baking is probably one of my favorites. Weeks before I begin, I make a list of things I want to try or re-make; that says Christmas to me.

  • Kari Sanchez - My favorite thing about Christmas is the hustle & bustle! I love all the activities, the planning, going here and there and our church Christmas caroling tour! Lot’s of fun! I love being creative and making special gifts for special people. I like being mysterious and dropping off gifts anonymously too! (I like your new haircut, probably not new, but it’s the first time I seen it short I believe)

  • Allison - Oh how fun! I can’t wait to get ours. We love decorating too, I can’t wait to get it all out and set up.

  • Shannon Phillips - I love your Christmas tree photos! I look forward to them every year. I laughed out loud for a long time on the buy a tree get a kid for free joke. You crack me up. What are you decorating your tree with this year? Any ideas on ornaments that a 15 month old can’t break?

  • amanda torres - Hmmmmm…I’m not sure I would like the deal going on at the Tree Farm. I think I might visit every other year. Seriously, what a great memory for your family.

  • Kate - Great pics – and great advice about not getting caught up in replicating :) Have a great day!

  • Mara - I just adore your photography, creativity and style. If you ever do a Q & A would you suggest an essential lens for a Canon DSLR that is best for infant and children photography? Right now I only have the standard 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 Canon lens.

  • Julia - What a sweet Christmas tradition. I found you through design sponge and I love all the projects you have posted. My favorite thing about Christmas might just be actually having my own this year with my Husband. Should be exciting. :o)

  • ashlee - my kids favorite thing is our magnetic countdown calendar. Its on a cookie sheet and the numbers are on the back. they take turns putting the numbers on. They ask me about that more than anything!
    My favorite is new pajamas on christmas eve:)

  • Rachel - How fun!!! I love it! We went fake this year, I said I never would, but we did. My daughter still had so much fun though decorating the tree…she can’t wait for Santa. One of my favorite things to do leading up to Christmas is baking…and this year my daughter is the perfect age to help! xoxo

  • Celeste - These pics are GORGEOUS…you really do have such a lovely family :)

  • Jeannette Swan - You are the cutest family!! Love the pics. I can’t wait to get the tree up every year. Each year the kids get an ornament and it is fun now that the boys are old enough to say “I remember when I got this one.”

  • Shanalea Atchison - I think getting the tree is a big one, but really for myself it is sitting next to the tree reflecting on the year and dreaming about the year to come.

  • Alba - Here we put up the nativity, not the tree, and it is said to do it on December 13th (Santa Lucía), but the baby Jesus can not be showed until Xmas night. But with a 2 old in the house, I think we will use a nativity made of paper, instead of “good” one. But the best part is the Advent Calender and a Catalan tradition, the “tió”. Fantastic pics, lovely toes, it looks like you are having a beautiful autum.

  • Amanda McEntyre - Ashley,
    I can’t believe how much your family has grown! I stumbled onto your blog a while back as I was trying to get some inspiration for photo poses for our new little bundle. These pics are all so precious. I feel your pain about people thinking your daughter is a boy. Here in India they think that even though we put Maddie in bows and pink all the time! haha

  • Mandy Metcalf - Haha.. I’m remember that first Christmas tree you guys got and how sad it looked. However…. it certainly had a LOT of personality and was well loved. :) I think Adam and I had a similar Christmas tree our first year – but I’d say they are the best kind to have.

  • Lisa Johnson - i love the moment when the tree is almost completely decorated and we have the “grand finale.” This very important moment is when the angel is placed on top of the tree. My children take turns every year with this major honor. Since there are 6 kids, they have to wait a long time for their turn. Somehow, everyone always remembers who’s turn it is :) We turn out all the lights except for the tree, watch the placing of the angel, there is always some ooo’s and ahh’s, we always say that this is the prettiest tree we’ve ever had, I always tell the story of buying the angel for daddy’s and I’s first Christmas after we got married, then we all sit around in the dark, admiring the tree and listening to Christmas carols. Sweet times!

  • yeahyeahgirl - oh My God ! The picture of the little baby on the blanket with the santa pompom, my goodness it is BEAUTIFUL
    it really makes me feel something, i love beautiful pictures and this one is breathtaking
    thank you for sharing these lovely moments

We had a great Thanksgiving break celebrating with Chris’ family: 1 grandpa, 1 grandma, 4 aunts, 4 uncles, 5 granddaughters, 7 grandsons…..onto some pictures….

(and just to clarify: Biggest Brother is 5 1/2, Big Brother is 3 1/2, Littlest Brother is 1 1/2, Baby Sister is 4 1/2 months)

Big Brother thinks that whenever the cowboy hat is on he is Indiana Jones

Inflatable soccer goal, Ugly rainboots, Indiana Jones Cowboy hat, John Deere hoodie – thankful for my boy.11.09thksgive-2

What’s Thanksgiving without a little goat chasing?



The boat looked nice sitting by the pond….


All the kids left and Chris pulled the boat into the water so I could take a peaceful, relaxing ride around the pond by myself. He even packed a picnic meal of Pumpkin Pie and a caramel latte for me to enjoy as I floated about….it was dreamy.11.09thksgive-6

Oh wait, that was a dream. The boat did make it to the water, but the rides weren’t so peaceful and quiet…there was a small hole in it and the paddles were long sticks.11.09thksgive-711.09thksgive-811.09thksgive-9

If you have water and my boy, you better have worms too. His cousin (girl) was a bit appaled to watch the guys hook the worms. She said, “Why are you killing them? That’s wrong. Worms are creatures too.” She makes me smile.

This Thanksgiving I was thankful for chubby baby cheeks.


I didn’t take many food pictures, in fact I didn’t really eat. The circus act of feeding four little ones is my built-in way to avoid high calorie consumption during the holidays (at least if I look at it that way I can be thankful instead of grumpy). Then again I did stop by the cookie plates each time I passed the kitchen. My neice didn’t want to have her picture taken.11.09thksgive-12

There are 7 grandsons, ages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 15. Can you imagine the food bill in a couple of years?! Here’s the 3 (mine), 5 (mine) & 7 year olds.11.09thksgive-13

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving….

FYI Google Reader still is not picking up my blog

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  • bopha - man, i was sitting there thinking how nice your hubby is….all to find out it was just a dream, too funny

  • Jen - You’re family is adorable. I want to tell all my friends about your bloggy blog but I can’t until after Christmas or they will see all the crafty gifts I’m going to make for them. Don’t worry. I’ll send them swarming in 3 weeks :)

    So glad I found your blog today!


  • Ysa - love your photograph =) it’s very nice

This is what happens when your dad’s inbox is too full and your brother (who is only 15 months older) wants to help dress you…


Just curious…for those of you who Google Reader stopped working on your blogs…did it eventually just start working again?

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  • Melissa - Too cute… and no it hasnt started working yet for me!

  • Meagan - Mine still isn’t working, Ashley. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

  • Erin - My Google reader isn’t working either, but I’m just so relieved to find out you’re still posting- I have lots to catch up on!

  • ari Morris - nope, no google reader yet.

  • Jill R - So sweet! We also have a little “helper” at our house who likes to “help” with his younger brother. This picture captures that perfectly.

  • ElleBows - No, it’s still not working :-)

  • Cindy Scorsone - Mine is not working either!

  • Chelsea Strong - This is so sweet. Our munchkin is due in few days, and somehow, I see this in our future. Comfortable husband, baby, pile of laundry. And nobody seemingly bothered by the pile up :)

    Love your blog, just found it this weekend. Your photography is amazing! (As I’m sure you know.) I’ve used your ISO tutorial this weekend to counteract my crappy point and shoot, and it’s definitely done the trick. Thanks!

  • Cheree - My google reader still isn’t importing. Love how your son “helped” dress your baby girl.

  • ElleBows - Oh, that was supposed to be a sad face and not a happy face that I put after working! oops!

  • Lacy - I just love your blog and your family.

    And I miss that your blog has stopped showing up in my Reader!

    Still not working for me, either. :(

  • Jenny Lynn - I just realized today that my Google Reader had stopped! I had wondered why you hadn’t updated for awhile but I hadn’t looked at your blog because I knew you were in my reader. Then, when I was looking at Daily DIY today I saw your tutorial for the canvas bag. Then realized I’ve been missing a lot of posts!! I’ve got some catching up to do :)