For this post I went back to the year Biggest Brother was born to pull out just some simple candids of me with the kids. I purposely chose pictures that aren’t “great” photographs…just run of the mill shots. Most are of Biggest and Big Brother….I lost track of time looking at old pics. In fact the only one with Littlest Brother is the second on the top row, the only one with my daughter is the third on the bottom row. It is amazing how many of Big Brother look like Littlest Brother (like under the “mommy” circle)

Last week I mentioned I was speaking to a group of women in Glenpool…I also mentioned that I was excited about a project they were working on. Well, I had a great time with those ladies. They were gracious and hopefully they enjoyed what I shared – I am in no way a speaker. I think I did a lot of rambling. The project they are working on is called “She Left Proof”. Here is a brief summary from the flickr group dedicated to this…it is well worth your time to read it. The below is written by Emilie Ahren:

“Many scrapbookers knew Aleida Franklin. She was a wonderful wife and mother and a brilliant artist. I didn’t know Aleida personally, but she taught me something I will never forget.

She emailed me last year to tell me she loved my blog and to ask if I liked my short hair-cut. This lead to a series of emails which eventually led me to remark that I really loved how often she posted pictures of herself with her children on her blog. And she replied to me, “Have you ever seen a photograph of your own mother and thought to yourself how fat she looked? Or how she wasn’t wearing make-up? Or wasn’t dressed in a glamorous outfit?” Of course my answer was no.

She then responded with saying that she made it a goal to take a picture of herself with her children at least once every month. And that to use excuses about how we look, as women, is ridiculous, since our children will never care what we looked like, but only that we had physical evidence of the bond between mother and child.

Aleida tragically and unexpectedly passed away in an auto accident in September of 2008, leaving 2 small children and a grieving husband. After she passed I thought of how those children must feel to have those precious photographs. I have made it my personal goal to follow her wise suggestion and I try to take photos of myself with my children….double chins, make-up free, bed-head and all.

I invite Mothers everywhere to take Aleida’s Challenge. To photograph yourself with your children each and every month. And to post them here so that we can see Aleida’s legacy unfolding.”


Powerful. I love looking back at pictures of my mom – especially her LONG 70s hair. What a great challenge this is to moms (and dads) – to get over how we look in pictures and capture ourselves with our kids. So grab your camera, a tripod, a friend or a spouse and capture yourself with those important to you!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Courtney Connelly - Ash,
    I checked your blog first thing when I got to work this morning. Thank you for the post, it was a reminder that I really needed today. -Court

  • Trinity - Great reminder….I love looking at pictures of me and my mother…you can see her love for me in her eyes and the way she holds me…..good reminder to leave that for my girls! Thanks! Good way to start out the day…being appreciative of what the Lord has given to me!

  • Jamie - Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I tend to think that my kids would be embarrassed of me years down the road when they look at pics of us bc I rarely have on anything but comfy mom clothes and no makeup; I don’t want them to think I never looked “pretty” so I just avoid the camera altogether and wait for a day that I am a little fixed up — and that never happens. BUT this post has really changed my life. You are so, so right. I absolutely have to start making a point to get in pics with my babies no matter what. I feel like crying now over so much wasted time. This has been a total eye-opener. Thanks for sharing.

  • griswold fun - That’s powerful! I don’t have kids but totally agree… I am emailing your page to my friends who do have kids already!

  • meg duerksen - oh i totally crying.
    it’s so true….my mom always says “i look awful” in every picture of us together and i have never thought that when i see them. she just looks like my mom!

    this is powerful!!!

  • Rachel - Great post! Something I definitely needed to hear.

  • Jill R - Thank you so much for this post. Wiping away tears….

  • bopha - What a great post. Thank you for helping us to take great pictures but for reminding us of why we should do it.

  • ashlee - you did a great job!! i am so in love with this challenge, i know i will be so grateful i did this not only for my kids but for myself as well. I have also decided to do it with pictures of my husband and i:)

  • Alba - thanks for the post! it makes me think about how fragile life is. i’ll also email this post to my friends.

  • Jill J - This was touching to read yesterday. And SO TRUE! Thanks for this. I gave myself an assignment of getting into pictures with my kids this weekend. I just love reading your blog… So inspirational and beautiful.

  • stephanie - that’s such a sad story! thanks for sharing- i’m going to make it a point to take more pics of me with her, even though i usually look horrible!!

  • Kenna S - What a precious reminder and tribute. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tammy - Beautiful. I just joined.

  • julie - Thank you Ashley. This is so real. So true. I have maybe ten total pictures of my girls and I. Out of the thousands on my computer. That is not okay. It will change.
    P.S. you are super adorable in all of your pics!

  • Alison R - Wow! What a beautiful post. I am new to your blog and just checking it out. I have to leave a comment on this though. You have just inspired me. I click pictures of my children as often as possible but cannot say that I have very many of me with them. I am going to have to remedy that situation. Thank you so much! I love your blog already and your pics are amazing!

  • Lori McDonough - Thank you for this. I am soooooo going to share this on my blog with my readers. I have never ever thought of it this way, but am now completely inspired by it. I love my mom and cherish every picture of her and I together. I owe it to my kids to do this.

  • sara - this is such a touching story. thank you for sharing it. i have been avoiding getting in any pictures & started changing my ways today! thank you for sharing this.

  • Meredith - Thank you so much for sharing this story and your challenge. I accept! There IS a big hole in my photo journals….one that I’ve accidentally put there. I keep forgetting to include myself in the family photos. Thanks for the reminder.

  • jen@odbt - This is why I post weekly in a “where’s mom” photo challenge. I don’t have any pics of my mom in my childhood and I can’t remember what she looked like back then.

  • Clickin Moms Memebership Special | TidyMom - [...] signed up for a year! While we’re talking photography and mom’s…….PLEASE go read this post and be inspired to include yourself in your pictures with your kids! We as mom’s just [...]

  • Kristi - Thank you for posting this, I am often telling other mothers these things but you never find me in photos with my children because I am embarrassed of the amount of weight I have gained. I would love to post this story on my site if you wouldn’t mind?
    Thanks again,

  • In front of the lens » Amy Jester Photography - [...] blog Under the Sycamore and I have always admired how often the she gets herself into the photos. This post explains WHY she does it and this post is a good inspiration for HOW everyone from the mom with an [...]

  • Kendra - Wow. This is incredibly powerful. I have been playing around with my new camera since Christmas and have yet to really get into the pictures, and those are just with friends. Now that I’m pregnant with my first, I will always think of this post which has moved me to tears… Thank you, hormones. I’m so glad I read this now before it was too late! :) I absolutely love your blog and your photo tips & tricks! Thank you!

  • cynthia - What a story and reminder!! On a mission to include myself no matter what. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Andi - SO INSPIRING! And so painfully true! I hope you don’t mind that I’m sharing this with my loved ones and my clients! Thank YOU for sharing it with me!

  • Marcy Laber - I’m teary eyed looking at these wonderful pictures…I take tons of funny pictures with my kids too..but I like some of your ideas in these pictures. You think you only have 1 chance at a childhood and then you have kids and you get to do it all over again!

  • Candace - I’m usually the one behind the camera and when I go back to look at the pics I’m not in any of them. Well that all changes today. I have to allow myself to hand my camera over to my husband to take pictures with me in it, regardless of my messy hair and no makeup. Thanks for posting this! It has opened my eyes in more ways than one.

  • The Happiness Report #7 - Food, Friends, Kids & Photography | Dine and Dish - [...] I’m in 2 pictures in this post and put more on the Dine & Dish Facebook page. Inspired by a couple of things, I’ve decided to try to “get in the shot” more often. There are so few [...]

  • Rachel - Amazing… and inspirational. Thank you.

  • A Powerful Reminder {Aleida’s Challenge} » jenny marrs photography {the blog} - [...] tonight concerning taking pictures WITH our kids. It is beautifully titled, “She Left Proof. Aleida’s Challenge“.  The brief summary below is written by Emilie [...]

  • part of the story… » the finding of me… - [...] these images later. Not even a question about that. But that all changed when Renee mentioned a blog post about Aleida. And how she made the decision to start being in more photos with her kids. No matter [...]

  • Making time for your memories | Photography By Mel - [...] (this time marketing – I have no idea how I got to Ashley’s blog!) I stumbled into Ashley Ann’s Photography Blog the post will direct you to the story, which is too similar. And happens all too [...]

  • Moms photo challengeBecoming you - [...] in the shot and She left proof @ Ashley Ann [...]

  • Maureen - On the other side, we lost our 26 year old daughter 6 months ago and oh am I sorry I didnt give up the camera more and cared less how I looked. Now when a camera comes out I hug my boys and smile.

  • we went to the beach - [...] recently read this post and was challenged to get in more pictures with my family, to leave some evidence behind that i [...]

  • She Left Proof | Jumping Daisy - [...] friend posted this on Facebook today, and it struck me, as I am sure it strikes a lot of other women. Just this [...]

  • She Left Proof Challenge » Christine Martin Photography - [...] After reading the “She left proof” photo challenge my sister posted on facebook, I decided to join in and take a photo of me and one of my kids as often as possible. Here’s a couple of my favorites so far and I’m also re-posting the link to the blog with the moving story about how the challenge started. (I also included a shot of the boys with the hubby, I wanted them to also have photos of them with their papa.) It’s been fun trying to snatch photos here and there with the boys, I’m getting pretty good at using the camera timer and running into the frame! [...]

  • Mommy & Me Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?! - [...] few years ago I stumbled across this article, She Left Proof {Aleida’s Challenge}, and totally resonated with it. I realized at that moment that I was guilty of taking hundreds of [...]

  • » Kate Eschbach - […] I recently read this post by Ashley Ann: […]

  • Mothers everywhere want their children to give peas a chance. | crumbsoffthetable - […] passed I thought of how those children must feel to have those precious photographs.” From this blog.  It literally makes me mist up every month when I make sure I take a picture with my mini-ions. I […]

I saw this photo a while back on One Pretty Thing and knew I wanted to make several for our house. You can find the tutorial here. I love how simple it is. So I had a great plan to take the boys to the park and use child labor to gather tons of acorns. I bribed them by saying we were going to go feed the ducks…which we did.acornwreath1009leaves-1

After feeding the ducks I handed them 2 pails and got them excited to fill them with as many acorns as we could find. Turns out the acorns were still hanging from the branches, so I came up with Plan B on the spot. We gathered leaves….1009leaves-2

Of course you can’t gather leaves without running and diving in them too…1009leaves-3

Or without flipping into them….1009leaves-4

Or without getting major grass stains on 1 of your 2 pairs of school pants…1009leaves-5

Later that night I set out the leaves, glue and a big sheet of paper to make our version of ABC cards I saw on Martha Stewart.1009leaves-6

Biggest Brother loves to read and write, so this was perfect for him.1009leaves-7

His dad won with the best design…a cricket. Biggest Brother took his paper to school the next day to show his teacher. He thought it was super fun…this is a great indoor activity to pass time in the horrible frigid below 60 weather….I still plan on making that wreath.1009leaves-8

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Kari - What a neat idea!!

  • Jeannette Swan - Wonderful stuff!! I love the wreath, I had my boys collect acorns so I could use them in vases for decoration, but the wreath would be amazing. The leaf stuff is great too. Last year, Camden had to create something like that for school with leaves, ours was a turkey…it turned out good, but was a lot of work. And, as for the grass stains, I understand that too, when it got cool, I realized Camden only had one pair of school pants that fit and yesterday they came home covered in grass stains. We are going shopping tonight for more, I can’t keep washing them every night!!

  • the inadvertent farmer - We’re in the middle of doing a leaf alphabet also…gotta love Martha! The acorn wreath is wonderful. But I must say it is the pictures of your kiddos that made me smile. Enjoy this season with your little ones! Kim

  • Lisa - so fun! I can’t tell you how much I miss having little ones. You are doing such a great job soaking up the moments with your children. They grow up too fast! Thankfully, my teenagers still enjoy jumping into leaf piles =)

  • PamperingBeki - Those wreaths are so cute!
    I saw one the other day made of candy corn and loved it too.

    Ashley, will you email me? I have a question (not photography related) and the contact link at the top isn’t working for me.

    Thanks! :)

  • Holly - Just beware that often (maybe always?) acorns have little worms in them. We learned that the hard way after gathering them at the park and bringing them home last fall. It was gross.

  • dana - VERY cool (and fun) idea. I may have to try this!
    btw, your blog is one my new favorites. I subscribe to a lot of “photography blogs” but yours falls in a category beyond that. Not only are you photos amazing and beautiful to look at…but you also showcase cool craft ideas, funny humor, and you blog about your every day life (instead of only posting photo sessions with clients, etc).
    I really love it when a post from your blog pops up on my Google Reader! Thanks for sharing!
    - dana

  • Škrabalica » Nedeljne zanimljivosti 3 - [...] Ashley Ann Photography i igre sa liš?em. [...]

  • Tobia - Okay, I just stumbled here from across the wide web and found a few great ideas and a great blog. Keep up the good work. Love the Leaf alphabet idea. May have to try some soon with my little critters at home :) Thanks and cheers to fun at home and great photos to document it! Tobia

  • leaf project failure and or fiber « EYE OF TOBIA PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG - [...] in our extremities. I found this project posted on a blog I really enjoy about a DIY craft for a Leaf Alphabet based on an idea from Martha Stewart’s site found here: So I thought to myself- I can [...]

  • seo outsourcing - Hi there, I found your website by way of Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks fantastic. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  • Shawnee Youngberg - Great article! I loved it, I can not wait for the next one. I look forward to the next!

  • dragon nest power leveling - A person essentially help to make seriously articles I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and thus far? I surprised with the research you made to create this particular publish extraordinary. Excellent job!

  • forex - I’m not good the spot you will be getting your info, but fantastic topic. I ought to invest a when obtaining out much extra or figuring out far more. Thank you for magnificent info I was in search of this facts for my mission.

  • personal finance software reviews - especially fantastic captures.

  • Carrol Lenoir - Howdy! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  • candy crush - Wonderful article! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.

  • Leatrice Piccone - Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get anything done.|

I’m a spring and summer girl, but each fall I begin to think I like the fall. Well, I do actually like the fall – at least when the low is above 60. I like how cute my boys look in jeans and clothes…as opposed to going shirtless in swimtrunks all summer long. They look cute dressed. But the pile of laundry from all those fall clothes is not so cute.

We ventured over to grandpa’s ‘farm’….1009goats-1

Biggest Brother protected me from the goats with Grandma’s stick.

If it had been summer I would have let him strip down to his undies and fully enjoy all that great mud. Another downfall of cold weather – can’t hose them off.

Always climbing on something.1009goats-2

The real reason we were tromping around was to find the baby goats. If this ‘smile and say cheese’ picture was the only one I had of Big Brother with the goats I would have missed pretty much the whole story of his time there.1009goats-3

I would have missed his tender, tender heart towards this baby goat.1009goats-4

I would have missed the joy of when Grandpa placed the goat in his arms and the contentment he had just cuddling it.1009goats-5

I didn’t know baby goats were so cute.1009goats-6

I also would have missed the way his little heart broke when that baby goat was crying “MAAAA, MAAAA” for its mommy.

(Yes, I am making that goat noise aloud as I type:))1009goats-7

And I would have missed him singing, “It’s okay baby goat, I have you. It’s okay.” And the goat calming down in the arms of my son, The Goat Whisperer.1009goats-8

He cried the first time I told him he couldn’t bring the baby goat home. I asked him where it would sleep. He said, “In my bed cuddled with me.” The other times he has gone to visit the babies they have been asleep in the hay. He climbs up and lays down with them…and would stay there for hours if I let him. I asked him if the baby goat was cuter than his baby sister. He said “Yes, the baby goat is cuter because it is smaller.” Gonna have to work on that.

Photo Tip: Don’t get so caught up in trying to get your kids to look and smile at the camera….you might just miss the best pictures.

Post update:

For some great DIY projects visit the link below…I added my felt flower headband there today.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • amanda torres - That is the sweetest thing EVER!

  • Jeannette Swan - Ok. Everyone knows I’m not an animal fan, but HELLO – how sweet is that!?!

  • christina larsen - Who knew that baby goats were so stinkin’ cute. Absolutely precious.

  • bopha - how sweet, i think he needs a goat at home.

  • lesley - Love the photos! Looks like you guys had a good time and looks like Hud needs a goat. Goat whisperer, love it.

  • Trinity - Ashley, in the first picture, what did you do post-processing to get that effect? Just curious. Great pictures. You have a lot of patience to wait for the right moment to click. Your a great teacher….I love the tips!

  • rachel denbow - Such a precious set of images and I’m sure even better memories for your son! Does everyone want a baby goat now? I’m thinking I do.

  • the inadvertent farmer - Absolutely priceless…brought tears to my eyes. Then again I’m a sucker for kids with animals! Thanks for sharing, Kim

  • Sophie - Oh my goodness. Your son and that goat are the best thing since Batman and Robin.

    So adorable!

    (Batman and Robin weren’t adorable but you catch my drift…)

  • meg duerksen - annie’s preschool usually has someone bring in a baby goat every year and it kills me not to bring home with me. i have this crazy urge to go buy a goat afterwards. they really are adorable. i think it’s the little wobbly legs. :)

  • Jill J - Boy, isn’t your last statement the truth! Every time we go somewhere with my mom, she is always stopping the fun to have us turn around and smile… so contrived!

    On a lighter note, :) the baby goat photos were so precious! And I actually said “MAAA MAAA” out loud too. No, not really, but I could see myself doing it if I were writing it. He he!

  • Meagan - Oh, so precious!!!

  • Meagan - Thanks for the link to that craft blog, BTW! Love it!

  • Rebekah Jean - That is so sweet…and you are so right! There is so much more meaning behind photos when you go past the ‘say cheese’ part. What a great post this is! It should go in the best Ashley Ann posts hall of fame. :)

  • Shannon Phillips - Oh man! Your boys are just so stinkin CUTE!!! I really needed some cheering up today. Thanks for making me smile!

  • Georgia Davis - I agree, summer laundry is much better than fall and winter. Oh, how I miss those summer days of no socks and onsies.

  • Liz - Those are precious!!! I think little brother needs a goat!:)

  • Holly - That is the cutest thing I have ever seen!

  • griswold fun - Those pictures are absolutely adorable!

  • Jasie - i totally cried while reading that. sweetest thing EVER!

  • AshleyAnn - Trinity…I ran a texture over the top of it in Photoshop.

  • andy - my father in law has goats and i have some pics of my son with them too. he’s not as taken as yours and doesn’t hold them like he did but they are cute pics. i need to get the posted on my blog. your’s are great

  • pamela - seriously making me want a little boy, or two or three : )! those pictures are priceless. i love littlest brothers face in the background!

  • kylesmom - So sweet! Corbett was just telling me yesterday that his grandpa has goats. Corbett is such a good story teller, I love him!

  • julie - Whatevs. Didn’t really plan on crying today.
    His heart! Melt.
    Love the tip. So very, very true. I am trying to take this to heart. My oldest just isn’t comfortable looking at the camera. Ever. When she does it is weird and forced and so not her. Now I let her just be. The pictures of her looking down or looking to the side are so much more real. So much more beautiful because they are who she is right now. Sweet, gentle, shy. I am embracing it.

  • Dacia - Ok, I had to tell you how I cried when reading this!!! Obviously, I am reading through some of your favorite posts, because I’ve read all the recent ones. I absolutely love your stories- my other favorite so far is about how firecracker got her nickname. :)