Now wasn’t that a great picture to start your Monday off with? I think things are finally back up and running correctly with my hosting company…so I will share some vacation pictures. I debated posting all these…I kept thinking of other blogs that would post this many and other blogs that would never post personal vacation pictures…and so on and so on. Don’t you hate getting caught in the comparison game? Maybe no one else ever struggle with it, but it is easy for me to get distracted by watching other people.  Wow…none of that relates to my vacation! Here’s some of my favorite pics anyways!

Baby sister in the wrap…this is the view I had 75% of our vacation.

Our vacation was in a little cabin on at a campground by the lake. During the summer the cabins and grounds are filled with kids and teenagers there for summer camp. Part of the summer camp experience is a ropes course. For my boys it was an Indiana Jones wonderland.

Yeah, it’s pretty nice to have boys…even when they have tree mold down the front of their shirts.

On the campgrounds they have an old plane held up in the air by metal stands. You can climb up inside and it kind of looks like you are flying. For you Lost fans…all I could think while I was inside was “I feel like Charlie. If I find any ceramic Mary statues I will know I am in trouble.” Chris told me that was morbid – espcially since Baby Sister was tied to me in the baby wrap.

Recently his sister was crying in the car. He leaned forward and said, “Please STOP. I don’t want to hear your whining anymore!”

He surely didn’t say that because he hears it several times a day…my kids never whine or pout.

So I attempted a picture of all 4…not happening so much.

Would be much better if their sister could at least sit verses lay in a blanket on the dock.

Welcome to the Gun Show.

Shirts are way overrated.

This is his ’9 months pregnant and my back is killing me’ pose. He learned that one from me.

We drove around the lake just to see what was there. We saw a sandy beach and I asked the boys if they wanted to get out…we had one towel (already dirty), no swimsuits, no change of clothes. Evidently I wasn’t thinking…sand + my boys = sand fights. It’s kind of like 2+2=4.

The girls stayed out of the fight. (I can say ‘girls’ how funny is that!)

It’s all fun and games until someone gets sand in their eyes.

The babies were cleaned, the big brothers had to use great self control to fight the urge to get Mommy and Littlest Brother sandy again.

Our vacation. It was a boy outdoor wonderland…dirty, rainy, muddy, rustic, messy. No cell phone coverage, no internet, no computers. I’d say it was a peaceful stay at a cabin by the lake, but I have 4 small children…it was a stay at a cabin by the lake:)And we loved it.

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  • Shannon Phillips - Ashley, I am so glad that you posted ALL of these! I get stuck in the comparing game all of the time. Why do we do that?

  • amanda torres - I’m so glad you went with the ‘you’ blog and posted your vacation pictures. Loved them all. I have to say I’m a little sucker for Littlest Bro’s tummy! I LOVE IT! Preggo pic cute. Also loved the pic of the boys standing up on the doc and baby sis laying there. Your boys faces say it all. Glad you had a great time.

  • Rachel - Great pics as usual!!! Question for you and your faithful blog followers out there…do you know of any good places to take engagement pictures in Oklahoma City?

  • christina larsen - I love the ’9mo pregnant pose’ that cracked me up. All great photos. Thanks for sharing. BTW, I don’t think you shared too many.

  • Aunt Sandy - I have to say my fav is the pic of all 4 and Breese’s tongue is out. Great pics and what a great family you have.

  • Meagan - Those are great pictures! I love the one of the boys on the tires! It looks like each one of them is in his own little world! Breese is just precious! Is your wrap a loveydud off of etsy?

  • AshleyAnn - Rachel…I am not familiar with OKC, but I would bet the Paseo district and just about anywhere downtown would be great spots for a session.

    Meagan…yep, it is a Loveydud. I had it for my youngest son and replaced the fabric on the front for my daughter. You won’t see that fabric in her store.

  • bopha - those are great pictures. love the one of “pregnant” rett!

  • Meagan - So, I guess you love it?! I’ve been looking at them since March and still haven’t bought one! I really want one, although techinically I don’t need one since I already have a sling and an AngelPack (which is also awesome!)! It just looks so comfy!

  • Sarah - My Monday is complete! My favorite picture is the one with all the kids and she’s sticking out her tongue. Too cute!

  • Mandy B - Tell Chris – one person’s “morbid” is another person’s “creative”…great pictures Ash!! I love seeing pretty blankets in with all the dirt!

  • Lisa - ok, these pictures are beyond fabulous!!! i love them!

  • heather - you live in oklahoma? you make it look so magical and enchanted!! help!! l just moved to norman from nyc and am dying, but thru your eyes this places looks transformed……….
    any tips on the okie life?

    thank you, your photography is brillant, and your family is gorgeous!

  • andy - love all of your vaca pics. they are so good
    love the one of little boy looking prego
    and that first pic……i think my son has the same one (is it yellow and from old navy) good deals
    the mud ones are great too

  • Kelly - Thanks for sharing! pregnant pose killed me SO cute, and loved the gun show.

  • the inadvertent farmer - Oh you just made my heart smile…

    My three big boys are now college age, luckily for me we had another batch so baby sister and brother are still home. Your pics reminded me of the pure energy three little boys can create, thanks so much! Kim

  • rachel - Looks like you had tons of fun! i love all of your pics…

  • Julia Leinen - this vacay pics are fabulous. I’m so glad you posted them. Thanks for sharing!

  • Grace - Your blog is my favorite. And I obsessively make my roommates look at the pictures of your adorable kids. They’re so cute!!

  • Jeannette Swan - I get stuck comparing my pictures with yours!! I love them all, I can’t imagine if I got even 1/4 of the shots you got, how happy I would be!! Always post whatever you want to, that is just what we want to see.

  • Amy - Your children are so gorgeous. Your family is so blessed!

  • Emily Beaty - How fun! I love the pregnant image… so funny! I love how you narrated the vacation, too. :)

Guess who really likes her mommy? We are out of the phase where I have to make tons of faces and noises to get one little smile…we are now in the phase where she can just lock eyes with me and that is enough for a smile. I love it. I LOVE IT.

There are still server/hosting issues I am dealing with…is anyone still getting error messages when emailing me?

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  • Amy - She is so gorgeous!!!

  • Lori Danelle - I adored that age! All you had to do was walk in the room and you’d get the biggest smile and laugh—like you were the most important person to her ever and she had been waiting her whole day for you to walk through that door—even if you’d only been gone 5 minutes!!!

    She’s absolutely stunning. :)

  • Shannon Phillips - She is a gem! She looks oh so snugly in these.

  • amanda torres - precious!

  • Casey - how sweet :)

  • christina larsen - Love baby smiles.

  • Mandy B - How is it that she keeps changing so much? She looks a lot like Corbett in that middle picture. She is so sweet!!

  • rachel denbow - What a beauty!

909sensor-02909sensor-03909sensor-04Well I am STILL having server issues….emails still with error codes and still unable to upload. My free Photobucket account is getting full, so I am waiting to post vacation pictures until my hosting company gets my account back up. So until that wonderful day, I’ll just wait for big photo posts…

I shoot fully manual 99.9% of the time. I also tend to shoot wide open (small f-stop #, open aperture). Shooting at a small f-stop number means that dirt on my sensor doesn’t always show up. Well during our vacation the boys were playing in full sun and my light meter was acting funny so I switched to full automatic. When I got my pics on my computer and looked through them I realized just how nasty dirty my sensor is. How did I know this? Well if you look at the pictures below you will see spots in the same location on every photo…see below:


Every time you change your lens on a dslr camera you let dust into the camera, which can settle on the sensor. Some people avoid this by never changing lenses. I change my lenses all the time. I try to be fast and point my camera down when changing lenses, but dust inevitably will still get in. I clean my sensor myself because it gets expensive at a camera store…though I am trying to get into the habit of taking my camera in for a professional cleaning once a year. You can find info for cleaning your sensor by doing a Google search. Many of the new dslr cameras come with built-in automatic sensor cleaning. Here’s some steps for checking how dirty your sensor is:

1. Set the aperture to f/16 or larger

2. Take a picture of something plain white (ceiling, wall, posterboard). You might need your flash on for this.

3. Look for grey spots…that is probably dust on your sensor

Just curious…are posts like this helpful?

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  • Ryan - Of course they are! :)

  • Serena Lowe - I love post like this. I was just wondering how often I shound take my camera in to be cleaned. I try to change my lens fast and carefully, but I know those little particles can creap in there! Thanks for the tip….!

  • crystal - Very helpful! I need all the help I can get!

  • Mandy B - Hello, YES this is helpful….I am always thankful for advise from the expert!!

  • Becca - I love posts like this!! thanks for sharing!

  • Lauren Roberts - I’m SO HAPPY you did this post! I’ve been debating on taking my camera in to be cleaned. I’ll try this first. Thanks Ash~

  • Heather - YES! this post was very helpful! I always appreciate your tips! Thank you!!

  • Sara - Definitely! Thanks for the info.

  • Elizabeth - Very helpful!! I was just thinking about this yesterday and couldn’t remember what the camera store told me. This helps a ton! Thanks!

  • Jenny Lynn - YES! Being a new dslr owner i need all the tips i can get :) thanks!!

  • meg duerksen - i assumed the spots would from my lens…interesting.
    yes. helpful.

  • Nikki - I am a “lurker” on your blog, but I have seen the issues you have been having with your server. I am a website designer and I use to host every site. In 8 years we have never had an issue. Another thought – use When you upload photos you can send them directly to your blog pre-formatted. It is so easy, and a great place to store your photos. E-mail me if you need any assistance, always happy to help out. My husband, Mickel, says he was your intern in youth group. He is friends with John. I stumbled on your blog through a blog when you posted your “slat” daybed. Anyway, let me know if I can help. It is crazy that they have left you hanging so long!

  • jo - very helpful, thank you so much!

  • Rachel - Definitely helpful….It’s also really helpful when you show us what settings you took your pics on.

  • Trinity - Posts like this are SO VERY HELPFUL! I love getting tips from you.

  • Angie - Very helpful! I love your tips!

  • Stacey Zahn - SO HELPFUL!!! Thanks so much!

  • Jurga - Hello Ashley,

    Would you mind reminding us what company did you use for camera cleaning? I am trying to find someone and haven’t had any great luck.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond!

    Jurga :)

  • AshleyAnn - Jurga – I used Tulsa Camera Clinic