from my weekend

I am so ready for spring to stick around! We had a couple days of 70s and then back to the 50s. Granted, I know the 50s are like summer to some people, but let’s remember I’m a wimp in the cold. And by cold, I mean below 70. We took advantage of the warm weather for a little skip counting practice outside. Anytime I can do something outside instead of inside…I’m going for it.

It feels like it has been months since I enjoyed a small project. We’ve had so many big ones going on, coupled with homeschooling and SnapShops, there just hasn’t been margin for small stuff. This weekend…I rested by enjoying some small projects. I’ve needed to pot a few plants. Originally I was going to use fabric again (like these), but I went for plain white chalk paint instead. I am craving simple and clean these days. I’m sure these will change in a week, but for now it was a little therapeutic to simply paint. I think I might add some stripes. They are going in Chris’ office, so I am resisting my urge to add gold glitter polka dots.3.27-2

One of our big projects has been tearing out the carpet upstairs and putting in wood floors. We got really cheap flooring from Lumber Liquidators with the plan I was going to paint it white. Then Chris got it installed and we were surprised how great that cheap flooring looked. For now, we’re leaving it. (the floors are really dusty in this shot and haven’t been mopped post installation yet).3.27-4

This room was once a nursery. Then a playroom. It is in the process of becoming an office for Chris. The kids are excited the hanging chair is back up. Our oldest has been claiming it the most. I love that it was important to Chris to have a spot in his office that the kids would want to wander in and sit down. I’m thankful instead of pushing them out,  he invites them in and lets them learn from him as he works. He is such a phenomenal dad.3.27-5

I’ve been wanting to make a little macrame plant holder and finally tackled that this weekend too. Had I realized how easy they are, I would have done this project a long time ago. I see many more of these in my future…unless someone intervenes. My mom gave me a really big hanging macrame table my uncle made back in the 70s. I’ve had it for a few years and just can’t figure out where to put it. Someday I’ll find the right spot.3.27-7

And while I was taking pictures in this little area…I snapped one of some of my oldest son’s favorite books. Many of you have asked what he likes to read. He usually reads books over and over again, these are among his favorites (there are many more shelves!).3.27-9

I’m looking forward to a few more little projects this week now that the floors are finally in upstairs!

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  • Birdy& Bambi - Sounds like an awesome weekend! I can’t wait for summer to arrive either!

    Greetings from Germany and something sweet:



  • Erica Baker - The floors look great! Can’t wait to see how you decorate the office.

  • kimberly oyler - love those wood floors! and good news, its going to be around 80 degrees at hope spoken this weekend. better pack those shorts!

  • Kelly - Can you tell us the name/style of the floors? I am looking to put in some new floors and love yours! Thanks

  • Paige - Your photography makes me feel happy. Simple, but not in a unsmart way, just an uncomplicated way. My heart craves uncomplicated. Daily. Family. Contentment. I’m always thankful you share it. Visiting your blog is a long slow breath for me. Remembering to stop and be thankful.

  • danielle - It is so nice to see kids enjoy reading. My oldest devours books also. I like the shelf of his books. I really need to re-organize ours better so mine have full access!

  • Rikki - I love painting those clay pots white, great and simple idea!

  • Catherine - Just wondering if you sealed those clay pots with anything before painting them. Because they are porous, won’t the paint come off after they are watered? I had a really beautiful painted pot someone gave me once but the paint all peeled off eventually because it hadn’t been sealed. Maybe it was a different type of clay though? I see people painting pots all the time on Pinterest and so on and no one ever mentions sealing them. Just curious!

  • Betsy - I love your set of books. I noticed the book Gladys Aylward. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Ingrid Bergman)is the story of her missionary work in China!! Wonderful movie. You and your older guys would love it. I try to catch it when I see it coming on!! Blessings!

  • MrsFun - I want to put a swing in the garage but Mr. Fun vetoed it. I also love your lockers and have been on hunt for some, wanting to store baseball gear in them.

  • kelly.r - Love the floors! I’d find it very hard to paint over them!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE that you have such a good reader. I didn’t fall in love with reading until junior high, now I’m an addict ;)

  • Kimberly | Turning It Home - Ashley, thanks so much for sharing pictures of your sons books – it looks like he has similar taste of books to my son. I’ve been on the hunt for the older Hardy Boy’s books at thrift stores, so far I’ve found one – that’s a start! My son is really enjoying The Borrower’s series right now. Wouldn’t it be nice to have little people come out and clean for us after bedtime!? ;)

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - I cannot wait to start some of my little projects I have planned.

  • angie - i love the hanging chair! my grandparents had one in their home since my mother was a child. they recently moved to a care facility and the chair was unknowingly sold by a caring relative. i cried. i have since been on the lookout for a chair to hang in their honor. i spent countless hours reading in the exact spot of your son!

  • Stoich91 - Oh, Narnia! And Tolkien! I can honestly say after years of reading this blog those are the first items I have seen you possess that I have, too! :O :D

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I completely relate. I have been in purge mode and simple mode and I love it!

  • Jody - Hi ashley!
    Would you mind telling me where you got your hanging chair? I almost bought a vintage one but didn’t — I want one for my four boys! Do you feel it will hold up with your kiddos? Love it. Thanks so much!


  • Lisa - I appreciate the way you remind me of the simple ways to be creative (the less expensive ways) – like the pots! Thank you for that! And that’s a GREAT shelf of books your son loves – some of our faves here as well.

  • Annie Kavanagh - Oh Ashley! When I saw the Hardy Boys books on your son’s bookshelf, I had to tell you about this giveaway of a vintage Hardy Boy book that has been converted to a pen holder. So awesome and with any luck at all you could win it for your son. Now I just have to remember where I saw it. Okay, just found it. Here it is.

  • Jenny B. - The floors look great!! Any chance you’ll share what they are exactly? I made a macrame plant holder in 5th grade (everyone in our class did it). it was so therapeutic to go out in the hallway and work on it when we were finished with our work. We hung them from the coat hooks in the hall while we were working on them. That’s probably my favorite memory from 5th grade. That, and our teacher also made silhouettes of each of us using the overhead projector and then displayed them in the hallway with no names so we could guess who each person was. Fun. Almost all of my favorite school memories are of special projects teachers did that weren’t necessarily part of the traditional curriculum. :)

  • Bon@ A Golden Afternoon - I want to see your Uncle’s table!!! Also, when you stop making plant holders, you’ll start making holders for your shampoo bottles in the bathroom. Then you will know you have a REAL problem. sooo addicting.

  • Amy - You take me back so! When I was young, I had one of those hanging chairs in my room AND a macrame planter that my mom made. So much fun to decorate with things that just bring a smile to your face!

  • Rhonda - May I ask where you found the butterfly poster. Love it!

  • elizabeth H - awww…I remember my oldest curling up w/ these same books just a few years ago!! Our sons should be “book buddies” :0)
    We looooove Christian Hero’s Then & Now!

  • Elizabeth - Yes, please do tell where the butterfly poster came from?

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - That looks exactly like my oldest’s shelf. Those biographies are so great. The one on David Livingstone was the one we were reading when I became pregnant with Number 4, and we all decided to name him Livingstone (we call him Stone.)

Removed {a powerful short film}

This weekend I watched a short film called Removed by Nathanael Matanick. I can’t get it out of my head and I know so many of you would appreciate seeing it. It chronicles the journey of a young girl removed from her home and placed into foster care. It is one of the most well made films I have seen regarding foster care and the trauma past circumstances can cause in the present. Sometimes there is an idea tossed around that all a wounded child needs is a loving home and the past will no longer have an affect on them. And sometimes love is all they need. But sometimes love shows itself in recognizing that often deep wounds do not just simply go away. Wounded children need parents willing to be big enough and brave enough to hold them in their confusing tears and to help them on the road to truly healing.

We’ve watched several of our friends walk the road of foster parents. While there are so many joys in seeing children heal, it is also often a road covered in the bumps of every kind of emotion.  It is not for the weak of heart. It is for the brave. The strong. The willing. I’ve watched friends weep and groan as they fight and advocate for the kids that joined their families through fostering. I’ve seen them broken over the hurt what those kids endured. And, I’ve watched them rejoice as the same kids begin to flourish and heal in a stable, loving, grace-filled, understanding environment. My friends would tell you they are weak. They would say they aren’t strong or brave. But, they are.

According to its website, Removed was made “with the desire that it would be used to serve in bringing awareness, encourage, and be useful in foster parent training, and raising up foster parents.”

So today, I wanted to share this video. It is both educational, eye opening, moving and powerful. It is 12:47 minutes long…

ReMoved from HESCHLE on Vimeo.

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  • Bambi - That truly does look powerful!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Greetings from Germany and a peek into life lately…



  • Kelleyn - What a powerful video! Breaks my heart that this a true story for so many children. Thank you for sharing!

  • Erica Baker - I watched this last week and found myself bawling by the end. So powerful. I loved the ending. I am so inspired by the brave people who open their homes to children. What a picture of the gospel and of how the church should be.

  • Eliza - GAH! Weeping right now. So beautiful and so sad all at once.

  • Amanda W - Wow. There really are no other words.

    Thank you for sharing this. What a way to start a Monday!

  • Michelle - We are currently in the process of adopting out of foster care- thank you for sharing this video. It is a great picture of the realities for foster children. I am thrilled to see it circling the web, raising awareness, and maybe even breaking people’s hearts for these precious babes in our backyards.

  • amber - I watched the video this past weekend, too. It is excellent.

  • Tiffany - Wish I had the right words for just how moving that was to me. My prayer life has been impacted. TY for sharing.~

  • Christine Taylor - Thank you for sharing…. This has touched my soul.

  • Phoebe K - I can’t tell you how much I loved this. Thank you for sharing.

    My husband and I are a few weeks away from becoming licensed foster care parents. This video impacted me more than all forty hours of classes we’ve taken to prepare.

    Last year, I read every single one of your adoption posts in a row, amidst my own struggles to conceive. After I stopped crying, I was more ready than I had ever been to consider adoption. I had been so intimidated. I was scared of rejection, judgement, financial issues, and so much more. You write from such a real and honest place. You gave me hope. I knew that if you could do it, I could do it, too. Your brave and beautiful journey is what gave me the strength to take the first steps toward fostering and adoption.

    I know you write for many, many people, but I felt like you wrote those posts just for me to see. Thank you so much for that.

  • Sharon Campo - My husband and I worked as house parents at a group home for six abused boys. We saw some rough things, but each and every one of those boys were worthy of unconditional love, no matter how many times they punched the wall, got into fights, stole, and broke the rules. It was the only way they knew to survive. Thank you for sharing this beautifully jarring film.

  • Anastasia - Very touching video, very sad and informative. Being a foster parent is a really hard job, but very rewarding at the same time, nothing is more rewarding than seeing how kids are working through the troubles of the past….Love this video.

  • Christy - One of my friends shared this on her Facebook page. It is an amazing video!!!

  • Cassi - Wow, not a video to watch at work, tears streaming. Amazingly powerful. Thank you for sharing

  • Erin - Thank you so much for sharing this! What a great reminder of how courageous so many foster children and foster parents truly are.

  • Southern Gal - Wow. I should have had some tissues when I sat down. Powerful. The foster parents I know are brave and love with their whole hearts. I’m sharing this with one of them. Thanks.

  • Jenna - Incredible video.

  • Monica - That video make me feel so sad, all the time I was thinking about the pain of the little girl to be apart of her little brother. :( . I was glad when I see the end. I have to go to the bathroom to cry because I saw it in my work. The kids never should face so kind of hard life. They should only received LOVE. But pray for all the kids dealing with things like that and for the foster parents to give them what they need. God bless them.

  • Sarah - So moving, so powerful.

  • Elizabeth - wow. powerful. thank you for sharing.

  • Irene Wiranata - Thanks for sharing this powerful movie. I regard your family as a very brave one, for adopting Little One. God Bless Your family..

  • Jeni - Heart wrenching.

  • amy - Powerful! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Susan - Extrordinary look at how a child sees her life. This is captured in such a raw emotion. My heart is bleeding for all the little ones who have to go through this. And my heart is telling me more that I am not quite sure how to deal with yet. Thank you for sharing. And for making me cry. Again!

  • Teacher - I try so hard to remember this with my students. Most of us would not survive a day in their homes. It’s so hard to keep caring long enough for them to stop fighting. If you can hold out long enough it’s worth it.

  • Lindsey - So powerful, brought me to tears and made me hug my baby tight. It is certainly something that is not easy to think about but in truth is all around us. Thank you for sharing to help educate us all.

  • Stoich91 - Woahh…powerful. Although I know this is not the story of every foster child, isn’t it even enough knowing it is perhaps the story of one?

  • RachelSD - Thank you so much for sharing this. What a beautiful, powerful video. I am so impressed with those who choose to help… the judges, attorneys, social workers, foster parents, adoptive parents, etc. I’m a volunteer CASA (court-appointed special advocate) for three siblings in foster care… it’s the best thing I’ve ever done and there are non-profit agencies all over the country that would love more volunteers to help these children who have done nothing wrong. They just need and deserve a consistent adult in their lives. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Tracy - I’m a foster parent. I loved this video. Thanks for sharing it. :0)

  • Jo - Such a sad, beautiful, moving film! So many hurting children! Thanks for sharing.

  • JoniBugK - I have been a foster parent to many children, and this video made me bawl. I never, never have had a child go back to the family where it was a GOOD thing. And yet, they do get sent back, and it is heartbreaking. The two that I was able to keep, are still in my life today. One is going with me to Oklahoma in two months to visit the other and her new family. God bless the ones who are able to stay in for the sake of the children. And I pray that I can still help someone, somewhere, because they are SO WORTH IT.

  • jody greenlee - As a former foster mom, and current coordinator to foster children, I can’t thank you enough for sharing.

  • Carrie - Wow…that was beyond moving. It hurts my heart to think about the realities many children face and am so grateful for the giving, brave people who open their homes and hearts to provide safe places.

  • Tessa - We adopted our 12-1/2 year old daughter from foster care 2-1/2 years ago, and it has been a very difficult journey to help her heal. She has been separated from 5 of her siblings, and 2 of them she has never known. She lived with her younger sister for many years in foster care, and she struggles the most with this broken relationship. I have to admit that the ending of the video was surprising, and often not reality for foster kids. For my daughter, the ending would have resulted in her caseworker taking her from yet another home and not a “happy” ending of being reunited with her younger sister. So for me, the video was not realistic enough. I certainly am glad that it was made and it gaining attention … any awareness of what foster kids experience and suffer through is awesome. I pray that this video gives more foster kids an advocate in their lives that will stick with them through everything.

  • Ilse - Gee, I’m crying again!

  • Pamela - Oh my goodness that had me crying. Thanks for sharing.

  • shraddha - Amazing!
    Thanks for sharing it!

  • Seamingly Sarah - I am bawling. Thank you so much for sharing that video. The heartbreak is God’s and I feel it in my own heart. I pray for so much healing and grace for each and every person that has ever been hurt. Our hearts are whole in Him.

  • Les Kelley - We are currently with a foster care services, we have monthly meetings with all foster parents. Can we have a copy,or a dvd of thi shrt film?

  • Anna Brown - Wow you shared this with such perfect timing

  • Rebekah N - Wow! Thank you so very much for sharing this video! I watched it twice and then sent it on to others! My parents adopted a family member out of a neglectful situation and we’ve dealt with a lot of emotions and issues from the child. We’ve done counseling and had so much love and support – but, we’ve recently talked about the fact that the past HAS contributed to the child – this video just helped clarify all that! I showed it to my mom and I know that we’ll be thinking on this! Again, thank you so much for sharing it!

  • Jody - Oh wow. Thanks for the nudge.

  • Nicole L. - One of my friends is a social worker/counselor and she posted this video a few days ago. It’s so heartbreaking and powerful. I just hope it inspires people to go down that road if they feel like God is leading them there.

  • tasha roe - oh man! that gutted and wrecked me! my heart breaks for these children!! i’ve always had a special place in my heart for foster kids. don’t know why God put it there, but i think and pray for them often. thanks for sharing!

  • Jenna Unruh - Thank you for using your blog to promote things like this. My heart aches for children everywhere. Praying for my place in all of this.

  • Trinity Turner - Thank you for posting that film.
    We have been foster parents for a few years and pursuing adoption.
    This video has helped so much in putting things in perspective.

  • Amber - Definitely eye opening and emotional. The hope that exists for these children with foster parents that are willing to take on this journey is inspiring. In a similar, yet different way, this made me think of the short “The Butterfly Circus” in thinking about belonging and perseverance. It was also a very well made film. It is a different kind of uncertainty and challenge, but also ends with a sense of hope. This film is more about difference and acceptance and the sense of believing in one’s true self.

  • anonymous - I have never seen anything like that. I am not one to let emotions run but that just drudged everything up. I could have been that girl as a kid. I always lied to social services and the schools about our home life because I knew I would be separated from the younger siblings I took care of if we were taken out of the home. (And as the older child, your biggest thought is, “they need me”.) Any adult who takes on the role of foster parent and sticks with it is definitely beyond brave and strong. I wish someone would have stepped in for us as kids. We’re now in our late 20s and 30s and because none of our issues were every dealt with when we were young, we all have a laundry list of things we deal with as adults.

  • heyruthie - I just spent the past month applying to be a foster parent again in my area. Due to circumstances that are out of my control, I was actually turned down at this time. I adopted two children out of foster care in the past, and it’s been a wonderful, albeit difficult journey. Please, if you are eligible to be a foster parent in your area, step up and give it a shot. It won’t be easy, but you probably won’t regret it, and you certainly will be making a difference.

  • Betsy - Thank you.

Embrace the camera {super hero pose}

Yesterday it was a warm 70 degrees out with beautiful blue skies. The kids and I headed over to a local playground and nature park to soak in some of the day. I do believe my most favorite sound in all the world is the sound of my kids laughing together. It is like balm to my soul on weary days.

It was just us, so I used the camera timer for an Embrace the Camera shot. The picture is slanted because I didn’t do a good job getting the camera level.  I thought about trying to get us to sit nicely on the bridge and smile, but that just isn’t us. The boys wanted to do a ‘Super Hero” pose.  There is so much I love about this picture. Little One on my back in her water shoes (she wants to wear them everywhere), my newly 6 year old with half a granola bar in his hands, FireCracker looking to me to copy my pose, my 8 year old making his “let’s get this picture over with so we can go find birds” face, and my oldest pretending he has a sword. It’s us.3.20embrace-6

After the hike, we met up with family for a birthday dinner. These two cousins are the best of friends. It is VERY STRANGE how nearly everytime I meet up with my sister, either Lesley and I are dressed alike or our girls are dressed alike. It has been that way for years now. Yesterday we showed up and the older girls were in the same dress and the younger girls were in matching colors. Weird.3.20embrace-7

With all that unintentional matching, crazy hair and strawberry juice – I thought we needed a few girl pictures.3.20embrace-8

Nana made him a Minecraft Spider cake. I’m pretty sure it was a big hit.3.20embrace-103.20embrace-11It’s Friday – YAY!!!!

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  • Erica Baker - That photo of Firecracker at the top! I love it. So jealous of your weather! It’s still pretty cold in DC. So glad you got to enjoy time with family. My sisters and I weirdly match too. We live on opposite side of the country but will have bought the same thing? It’s a strange-sister-ESP-thing I guess.

  • Iza - Wow, what you do is just simply incredible. I’m a bit ashemed to show my attempt to embrace, but since we live so far away (Warsaw, Poland, Europe) it may be funny to take a look:
    Thanks for all that you are doing here..!

  • Birdy& Bambi - That looks like an awesome day!

    Have an amazing weekend:

    Lots of love from Germany,


  • brandy - Ashley,
    Everytime I am just convinced that one child is enough, you go and ruin it with your wonderful photos and adventures :) Happy birthday to the 6 year old and happy spring! Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Bird and Bambi - You all look like superheros in the pic on top! I love it!
    I can feel the energy of your family until Germany…and it is awesome!

    Love from good old Germany and the fatcatconnection
    and I wish all of you a wonderful weekend!


  • Haley - Love the super hero poses!
    Firecracker suddenly looks so grown up. That first picture is beautiful

  • Beautiful light, my oldest, and the dog « - […] out Ashley over at Under The Sycamore to read more about Embrace the […]

  • kimberly oyler - me and my sisters will all get dressed in our own rooms and then come out and end up in coordinating outfits. must be a sister thing.

  • danielle - Great pics! We went out and enjoyed a hike as well but I did not take my pic until we got home!

  • Diana - That picture of you with your kids is perfect. =)

  • Emily - Love that Little One is still in the ergo…I only have 3 kids (5,3,1), but I already feel like my youngest has spent more time in the ergo than the other 2 combined! Love the super hero poses…super cute!

  • Debbie C - Oh Ashley, I want to be one of your kids. They really have such an amazing mom. :D

  • Flossie - Would love it if you shared about your backpack thing for Little One!

  • AshleyAnn - Flossie – it is an Ergo carrier. We’ve used it from newborns on…totally worth the investment for us.

  • yvette - wow!! – can not believe how much of a big girl firecracker has grown into! blinked and she’s lost the little girlness.

    i second about the ergo- totally worth the investment!

  • Keshia - I’m pretty sure that’s about the coolest family photo ever. I, too realized that I’m in far to few photos of my family and for all the reasons you mentioned. One day I was looking for a photo of my husband and I and realized that I don’t have many to choose from. I really like the “embrace the camera” photo idea. You’re right we are our worst critics and our loved ones will only remember the moment and not the extra fluff around my waist.

  • Taylor - Adorable! What an awesome Nana!


  • Tammy Henderson - Love that Firecracker is trying to blow out the candles too! So cute.

  • Mary -!!!! #myheartmightburst

  • Mandi - I stumbled upon your website quite by accident, but I love it! You are obviously a very talented photographer, decorator, and mom! My husband and I homeschool our four kids, as well, so it was also fun to find out that you do that too! I will definitely be checking back in in the future!

  • Samantha - I have followed your blog for a few years now and I am always inspired by your desire to be a wonderful Mom. To be the Mother that the Lord wants you to be. I saw an article that made me think of you and your family:

  • Kate - I just love your embrace the camera challenges, because I always forget to put myself in pictures. Anyway I missed the challenge last week with all the other awesome mama’s and papa’s out there – but I’ll hold my own week this week, just for me and us. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness – yellow and mint – how cute!

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - Yellow dresses are the best. Love the family shot!

  • Vivian - The girls are wearing my favorite colors and it looks like everyone enjoyed themselves. FYI, I stumbled upon your site and it’s amazing!!

  • elizabeth H - Sunny & 70 degrees sounds perfectly LOVELY! It certainly brings out the superhero, baby wearing mama side of you :0)
    Wanted to tell you, at a recent homeschool conference, I discovered SKrafty {an online *educational* kid safe Minecraft server. Your sons may LOVE it…they have a Narnia world, and other literature, history, & math related “assignments”.}
    My boys are SO excited to get started!

  • elizabeth H - here’s the link, if you’re interested…