Well I’m not really crafting much these days. Actually, I started making a weighted blanket for Little One two weeks ago. The online tutorial I found looked so simple. And it is simple, but I just can’t manage to finish it. Someday. I did, however, do a mini-craft last night. We’ve tried different kinds of dinner conversation starters before, but they were too complicated for little kids. My friend Jamie told me about a list of questions she found on Pinterest that worked really well, so I added searching for those to my mental list of things to do.

BUT…I found myself at Target near the party supplies. And tucked on the clearance shelf were a bunch of little cans of “confetti conversation starters”. I shook them around to get an idea of the questions and they seemed like they’d work. I did remove some of the questions (‘heels or flats?”, “would you go back to high school?”, nothing inappropriate, just stuff that wouldn’t make sense to my kids).


Crazy simple craft. I used supplies I had on hand to decorate a jam jar from my cabinet and put the confetti conversation starters inside.


I placed it on the picnic table outside before dinner. A couple of the kids were immediately digging through it and asking each other questions.

My kids love conversation prompts. Sometimes we each answer our own question. Other times I pull one question and we all answer it. Chris is really good at getting the kids to elaborate. Instead of just saying “summer is my favorite season”, Chris gets them to explain the ‘whys’ behind their answers. It is a fun way to understand them better and to keep the potty humor at dinner at a minimum.


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  • Avenlea - Yes, if we can keep potty talk at a mimimum it is good!

  • shayna - brilliant! thanks for sharing :)

  • Jess - Very cute. Over the summer we got in the habit of asking our kids about their days and adding questions like what were 3 things you’d love about today, what is something you’d do differently, what would you like to do again, etc. Without those leading questions, we end up with 1 word answers!

  • Big D & Me - We love conversation cards over here. In fact, we are selling Halloween and Christmas Conversation Cards and Lunchbox Jokes as a fundraiser for our adoption.

    If you have a moment, please take a look. We have cards that you can download as a PDF files and ones that are sent through the snail mail.


    My cards are in a plastic bucket, definitely inspired by your jar to make mine prettier.

  • stephany - I love this!
    We always ask each person what their favorite part of the day was…I’m going to remember to ask “why” that was their favorite part of the day, too!

  • Samantha Kakac - Love this! This would be great for my Bible Study. The first meetings are always “get to know you,” for first timers, these questions would be great!

  • cassi - We do this with our daughter during dinner and I am always amazed at her answers

  • Betsy Childs - This reminds me of when I took my niece to the American Girl restaurant. They had a deck of conversation starters. After we discussed a few of them, Elizabeth (5) came up with her own. She asked me, “Did Judas go to heaven, hell, or the Red Sea?”
    I don’t the the American Girl Place will be adding that one to their conversation starters!

  • Izzy - I love the simplicity and cuteness of that jar!

  • Cory - Such a fun idea!

  • Nicoline - Love the idea!!!! Any chance you would like to post Jaimie’s list or evenore of yours?

  • Molly - haha limit the potty talk :) that made me laugh. love this idea!!!

  • Debbie C - Love this idea! Esp since it involves a trip to Target…not that I need a reason to go. :D

  • Libby Larson - Ashley I left you a huge long comment under your Katie daisy post. I am leaving a week from today to go to china with my sister to pick up my neice!! If you could give me a few tips on the best way I can support my sis and Maya I would LOVE it! Is there anything you brought with you that you were like “I am so thankful I brought this it was so helpful” ;) any advice would be appreciated. I always look forward to your blog!!! Blessings, Libby

  • AshleyAnn - Libby – Here is a post with more information than I could ever compile!


    I hope you have an incredible trip!

  • AshleyAnn - Nicoline – I don’t have Jamie’s list, I am guessing you could do a google search for more ideas. Here is a link from a quick search I did:


  • Lisa - I made a weighted blanket for my 4 year old. She loves it and it helps her calm down! Hopefully you can get it made soon and it will help Little One with whatever issue she is having.

  • amanda - so cute + fun
    I can imagine the little giggles and chatter around your table!!

  • Kirsten - would you mind sharing the tutorial you found for the blanket? i’ve been wanting to try one with my son.

    (and i love your jar – so easy but so helpful!)

  • Hannah - I love this idea, thanks for sharing!

  • elizabeth H - i always forget that i want to make these up . . .
    often times dinner is just a loud mess {no “real” conversation}
    maybe i’ll just check @ Target. sigh.

  • Stephie - Please share the WEIGHTED BLANKET tutorial (if you find it works). My daughters therapist recommends we try one for my daughter but they are so expensive online. Thanks!

  • Bon@ A Golden Afternoon - I love this idea. It’s exciting to pass on awesome communication skills to our kidddos in such a fun way. Well done, mama.

  • Renee - Oh I love this idea! How adorable! Will be doing that for our next family gathering :)

  • Lili Tankersley - Would you mind sharing your weighted blank DIY link? Your crafts are always adorable!!

  • meg duerksen - please share your favorite dance move next time we eat together. i will be working on mine.

I am currently taking a class called “Parenting Children From Hard Places” with Dr. Barbara Sorrels. We meet once a week and each time I leave so challenged as a mom. I enrolled in the class because Dr. Barbara is teaching it (I’m a big fan) and I am constantly searching for godly wisdom regarding helping our youngest daughter through various challenges. I kind of wish Dr. Barbara could move into my house and teach me as I go through the day.

The course is written regarding kids from hard places and most of those enrolled are either foster parents or adoptive parents. However, I walk away challenged in how I parent all my kids. One of the main themes that keeps coming up is an awareness as a parent of how I communicate and my state of mind:

What do my eyes say?

What is the tone of my voice?

What is my facial expression?

What is my body language?

Children mimic what they see and they pick up on the state of mind of parents. I remember first seeing this play out with my oldest when he was a newborn. He picked up when I was relaxed, stressed or overwhelmed. When I was calm, he calmed down quicker. When I was frazzled and crying as a new mom, he was often crying too. Each of my kids seemed to be progressively ‘easier’ babies – really I don’t think they got ‘easier’, I think it was more of a reflection of me as a mom.

Somewhere between newborns and kids growing I think I forgot how much they still pick up on my state of mind. I often forget how they mimic what they see in me – stress, anger, joy, laughter, calmness, fun, etc. They pick it all up. They mimic it.

Dr. Barbara has challenged me to be more aware of all that I communicate when there are words coming out of my mouth and when there aren’t.

I’m thinking more about what they see in and from me…and what I hope they mimic. And I’m thankful for fresh starts when I goof up.

My oldest isn’t a newborn anymore. He’ll be 10 in the spring. Though he is increasingly independent and becoming his own man. He still follows my lead. He still picks up on the tone I am setting and how I communicate. He is still mimicking.

And evidently, he looks surprisingly a lot like me.

I died laughing when I downloaded these images. I had no idea we were so good at making the same faces. These are among my favorite pictures of the two of us now. Goodness I love that kid. And goodness, do I want to mother him (and his siblings) well.


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  • danielle - Cute! I have seen myself in both my boys. Sometimes it is funny little things I do and sometimes I have to admit a tone I wish I had not used. They are definitly little mirrors, showing yourself what you look like to others.

  • Avenlea - Wow! You two do look alike! Very nice post.

  • Aunt Sandy - This is my favorite posting yet. I love the pictures of the two of you. Never realized just how much you two look alike, and, act alike.

  • RachelC - great pics!

  • izzy - Those pictures are so funny! I was wondering if you could see what faces you were making as you took the pictures, they are identical!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Oh these are great! That class sounds awesome! I need to find something like that around me. Love this post so much. I remember learning in my teacher training that the teacher “sets the thermostat” of the classroom. I think of that so often in my home. How I am setting the thermostat. What an challenging, humbling, beautiful honor it is to mother.
    One last thing. I know what you mean about learning so much about how to parent all your children. I felt that way when we went through foster care training!

  • Pamela - These photos are gorgeous!

  • Mara - You are the best! These pics are so great and make me smile! Thank you!

  • Tina - “I’ve asked you not to do this 7 times today! I don’t want to sop up a wet floor again!!!” is what my eyes are saying. If my first reactions are of patience & grace inside that will reflect in my eyes. I think about what they see when they look at me-their (subconscious) decision whether I’m a happy mom, grateful for them and trying my best to honor God in my mothering or a deflated, disappointed mom. Praise God for fresh starts through the day, and His grace. I wrote about being mimicked in “she’s copying me!” on my own blog a while back.

  • stephany - Great post.
    Thanks for reminding me to keep my attitude in check with my kiddos.
    Happy Monday!

  • Angela Arnett Stone - Amen! My oldest is 9.5 and from the same point (newborn) he has mimicked my emotions. It has almost driven me over the edge a few times but thankfully I’ve learned how to better regulate myself. We did trust based relational intervention training from TCU and Karen Purvis. Huge blessing!

  • Laura J. - Bumpy road ahead-be ready! When my son was about 17, a clerk remarked how much we looked alike. We did(still do), but almost grown boys don’t like to hear that! My daughter from Guatemala longs to look like me(or at least have us look more alike). I don’t have answers, I just know that it bruises a mother’s heart.

  • Jacci - You are so adorable :) I loved this post, Ashley. Our oldest is almost 13 and helping her with her words & tone of voice can be very… draining. And discouraging, honestly. You’re so right about them mirroring back to us and being influenced by our demeanor. It’s weighty. Like you said, thankful for fresh starts. This weekend was a doozy & we all need Jesus. Big times,

  • Melissa Lewis - Oh, I’m laughing and teary eyed at the same time. What timing! I needed so much to hear this and be reminded of this. I believe it with all of my heart and I so want my boy to feel safe and loved around me, not all tense and anxious and yucky!

    I LOVE this pictures of you and oldest! I think thats why I got so teary and laughed so hard. I could feel the phone y’all had while taking them!!! My boy is obsessed with taking pictures like this on my phone and with the camera. He is always wanting us to do pictures like these. I have about 1000 of them on my computer!

    Happy Monday Ashley!

  • Jen Lara - Ashley – Gigantic kudos to you! I totally admire when parents take classes to become better parents. Is there any subject more worthy of studying?

    I recently took a life coaching class to become a better parent, wife, teacher, etc. The class, itself, was awesome – so many take-aways to meld into my life. But, the two parts that stick out to me most are slowing down (why was I always in such a hurry before? My conversations with my daughter don’t need to be rushed, right?). Asking more powerful questions – questions that start with “how” or “what.” I notice my mommy-ing moments are changing – they are slower, deeper and I hope richer for my daughter (and my relationship).

    Keep it up and keep posting about your lessons learned. Just what you posted today will stay with me.


  • Lee-Ann - I love following your blog (all the way from South Africa) and this post just really had me smiling. You’re a great mom to all your kids, and these particular pics of you two are just adorable :)

  • Joey - What a wonderful idea and what great pics!

  • Katie - Fantastic photos and what great memories of you and your biggest! (Because, no matter how many children you have, he is always your first and needs some separate mom memories from his siblings ;) You and Ruth at gracelaced.com must be on the same God-page today since your posts were similar in tone. What are wonderful blessing and privilege we have been given to guide God’s most innocent lives through their development and into adulthood. How he must love us to give us that responsibility with his (and OUR) precious children!

  • Elizabeth - Wow. Those photos are awesome and precious!! That is incredible. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  • Jane B - You passed on your beautiful eyes…… My daughter has my dad’s eyes and it is sooooo neat.

  • kimberly oyler - how many times am i allowed to comment on your hair? it is so long and beautiful! when i have children, i’m gonna come pick your brain about all the things you’ve learned. count on it.

  • Tracie - TWINS!

  • Candice Forte - Ashley, you are awesome! I love your heart! :)

  • amber - Always in my heart & on my mind…what am I teaching them in my actions?? Great reminder. Thank you. Also, he’s too big & wayyy cute;).

  • angie - hi Ashley… this post totally made me smile… these pictures with your son are a great capture!!!

  • Charity G. - What awesome photos and a great message. It is so hard sometimes to get it right. I love the questions you posted. Definitely helpful things I’m going to start thinking on. And, like you said, thank goodness for second chances when mistakes are made.

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - These shots were so cute! It is fun to see these because this is how my firstborn is too and he looks a lot like me as well. I pray your son will have your heart of compassion, but then again, from what you’ve said about him in the past, he already does. This is an amazing mimic. Just think how much we mimic and look like our Father in heaven too. ;)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - These pictures! I am smiling so big. Hugs and hugs!

  • Mary Helen Wheeler - What a beautiful post Ashley! I love what you shared and the great pictures! Every Mom needs to be aware of how much she influences her children. Barbara is a real blessing. I look forward to working on the DWP because we get to visit afterwards and she shares about her work and the new things she is working on. I learn something from her every time!

    We are praying for you two and your precious family!

  • Josephine - Sweet Georgia Brown, what an awesome sequence of photos!
    Thanks for sharing Dr Barbara’s take home message. This is something I’m trying to be more mindful of as my 2 boys grow.
    As always your thoughts are very timely for me :-)

  • Maegan - Oh Ashley, I love these! What a treasure. Y’all look more alike than I’ve ever noticed. And it is so true that even babies pick up on your stress, tone etc. something to constantly be aware of with kids of any age.

  • kelleyn - Love the pictures! Would love to take a class like this. We are having a hard time with child number 2!

  • Lisa - I would have totally thought you guys were looking in a mirror TRYING to make the exact same faces. It’s amazing how in each picture you guys are practically identical! Love it!

  • Rhonda - Love, love, love this. I can’t wait to do it with my grown children and grands.

  • Carrie - These are fabulous! What priceless pics of you and your eldest!

  • gina - too cute :) !!

  • kimberly oyler - can i be annoying and ask how you edited these? they’re pretty.

  • paige - hilarious!
    you’re a good woman ashleyann & clearly a good mama!

  • Tara - I needed to hear this today and need to remember how I am communicating with my kids through my eyes, tone, body, and face. Love those shots with your oldest boy….they are just perfect.

  • Jess - Gosh, I totally resonate with you about Mamahood. My first born is a boy and a carbon copy of me more often that not. It’s like he’s a mirror that shines light into my sin areas that the Lord STILL needs to weed through. So convicting and just reminds me of the deep well of grace I need to draw from. These pictures are so AWESOME. You guys are seriously twins! :)

  • tracy a - Wonderful! I love seeing your face so much…and add his sweet face to go beside…LOVE!

  • AshleyAnn - Kimberly – I used RadLab (a recipe I made using: Lux Soft, Get Faded Neutral, and Oh Snap). And, yes, you can comment on my hair anytime….thank you :)

  • kimberly oyler - you are so sweet to answer my question. :)
    i’ve been thinking about radlab ever since you posted about the replichrome. i love the black and white presets so much. i like them even more than VSCO. now to decide between presets for lightroom or presets for photoshop.

  • Holly - These are hilarious! It’d be fun to do something similar with my niece and nephew.

  • Lauren Klouda - I love these! My three year old and I make faces for pictures every couple months and I just love those pictures.

    On a more serious note. I appreciate what you are saying. I feel constantly like I am screwing up my kids because of various ways I talk with them or handle things and how my childhood molded me as a mother. I work daily to break that mold. The good days I feel great! The bad days I feel like I let me kids down.

    Oh and I didn’t have a bad childhood or anything horrible happen but I just think my parents didn’t have great parents. Everyone does what they can. I just want God to help me do more. It sounds like a class worth taking.

  • Favorites | SoMi Speaks - […] Ann writes about my truth (and likely, the truth of many parents): our kids are a direct reflection of ourselves. And, it’s not just the temperamental, loud, misbehaving child who is clearly interrupting […]

  • Sarah - Love these photos! you both definitely make the same faces the best! :)

  • Kristin - So fun – thanks for enjoying life and sharing that enjoyment :). Love the pics and the perspective!

  • meg duerksen - that is almost creepy… in the most awesome way.

    and where did you get that shirt girl? i love it. i meant to ask you that awhile ago.

    also… i promise to think of all these things when my girls come home from school today.

  • Kusems - I did actually laugh out loud at the heads cocked photo. These are great, and you make an excellent point about kids following their parents’ lead. I hope I’ll keep that well in mind when I have kids!

  • elizabeth H - what a nugget of truth…i’m a walking, breathing testament to that w. my 12 yr old son!
    {ps. your hair is SO long…it’s BEAUTIFUL!!}


iPhone 5, edited in Lightroom with Replichrome (Kodak BW 400CN)

Just a little reminder about registration for the final 2013 SnapShops (my phone and dslr photography workshops). You can find the course dates below. Click on the links to find out more information and to register for either workshop. These are the last workshops I’ll be doing in 2013. I do plan on teaching them both several times in 2014, but exact dates have not been determined.

Phone Course: October 27 – November 17

registration is open, click here for more information


DSLR Course: October 27 – November 17

Update 9.30.13, this course is now booked

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  • Ann Voskamp - Best photo course ever. I learned so much! Thank you for sharing how to make art with us….

  • Celia - Oh I WISH I could do this! Every time it comes around…. something has come up here for our little family. You know how that goes… budget, homeschooling, stay at home mother…. you get the picture. Hopefully next time…. or soon!!!

  • Emily - Ashley- I’m interested in taking the course but was curious if the registration closes or fills up? We want to wait until payday :)

  • AshleyAnn - Emily – typically registration fills up the first day, but I’ve been doing more so I am not sure if that will ring true for this round.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Ann :)

  • kimberly oyler - one day, i promise, i’m gonna take one (or both) of these.

  • Deanna - Oh I am so excited! I finally got in on the DSLR course :) I have been trying since the beginning of this year, I swear! Of course, I am due with my second on Nov 6, so it will be a crazy time, but I figure that this way, I just have more subject matter. Can’t wait – thanks Ashley :)

  • Adrian Gunter - Dang! Registration closed today. Do you know what date in January you will be running the course?