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  • Lyn - Merry Christmas!!!

  • Michele - I love the way you and your precious family represent God’s love. Thank you! Your writing and photographs have blessed me tremendously this year.

  • Katja - Merry Christmas to you and your family! You rock!?

  • Izzy - Merry Christmas! If I had pinterest I would so pin that lovely picture and words! So cute!

  • Tanya - Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Jenna Lou - Wishing you all a merry Christmas!

  • DeAnne - Merry Christmas! May God continue to bless you in the new year.

  • Kindra - Have a very Merry Christmas!

  • Alex - Beautiful picture! Merry Christmas!!

  • Emily - Happy Christmas!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Happy Christmas to my dear, dear friend!!!

  • Karen - This is so precious!!

  • Little Long Love - What a beautiful shot!

  • Jessica Mullauer - This photo is amazing. I keep coming back just to look at it. Thanks for sharing your beautiful and amazing photography and family with all of us.

  • jerusalem - Merry Christmas!!

  • Danielle - Merry Christmas! Adorable pic!

  • Amanda Feste - I know I’m late but wishing you a very Merry Christmas as well!

My guys. One makes me weak in the knees…the other three melt me with their cuteness. Boys my joys.
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Chris’ sister lives in Colorado and he has been itching to introduce the boys to skiing. So, last week all my guys piled in the car, drove north and hit the slopes. They got to learn how to ski during the day and spend time with family in the evenings. I love that Chris  is totally at ease with taking three boys skiing by himself. Not only was he at ease with it, he relished the time with his sons. As much as I would have loved to be there with them, I am so thankful they had last week together. No doubt the boys will always remember this special trip with their dad. Chris will always remember it too.12.23-2

I took advantage of the week to tackle the ‘kitchen’ area of the studio. It really needed a back splash and I’ve never gotten around to it before last week. My mom and dad came over several times to help me…and, of course, I had two little ‘helpers’.12.23-312.23-4

It was a very productive week. I still have some more things to finish up on it; later I’ll post more pictures of the finished area.Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

The guys were supposed to be home on Friday night, but an ice storm made them pull over for the night just two hours from home. Once Saturday arrived, FireCracker waited by the window. It was the saddest & cutest thing all at once.Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

I remember vividly the first day I was able to take a shower AND do a load of laundry all in one day after my second son was born. I had two kids and it felt like the biggest accomplishment. I stood at the dryer in our garage and was so proud that not only did we have clean clothes, but my hair was actually fixed. That moment is still so clear to me. I don’t remember walking across the stage when I graduated from college. I do remember that day 6 years ago – doing laundry with a 2 year old and a newborn. I still feel pride when I think of that day. I got a lot down this week with two kids, but my normal now is five. I only mention that to encourage those of you reading that might feel like clean hair is more than you can manage. I’ve been there. I’m in a different phase now, but I sure remember those days. Thank goodness for hats & Febreeze!

It is strange to be out of that newborn phase…to have kids old enough to ski and little girls mixing grout and helping lay tile. Very strange and very wonderful.

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  • Jess Z. - What a cute post :) I remember after my first was born, I cried 3 days later to my husband because I didn’t have time to even take the garbage out that whole day. I was so sad. But 2 months later I had the whole house clean in one day, and I was so proud that I could accomplish that with a baby. I now have two children and life is a little busier, but it’s funny how your perspective changes as your family grows. I still have those days, but now I know I have tomorrow or next week to finish things.

  • laura - i want to live in that studio! it is everything i dream of when i think of the home i want to work towards having!

  • Tasha - I needed to hear that! Thank you. I feel like I’m drowning in a to do list with a newborn and very active 4 year old.

  • kassondra - Hats and fabreeze! Haha I thought I was alone on that secret 5 second clean up look ;P

  • kelleyn - So happy your boys had such an awesome time skiing!

  • Shannon Phillips - LOVE LOVE LOVE your new kitchen area. That wallpaper makes my mouth water. So delicious!
    Love that the guys got to have a special time together. He’s a good man, that one!

  • Tania @ Run To Radiance - The studio looks amazing! I love that wallpaper, I have been wanting that for a long time. Looks perfect in there. :) Well done…glad your guys are back! :)

  • Crystalyn - I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old and I have just about given up the idea of ever having more kids because if I can manage to take a shower once a week I’m doing good… And they’re not even babies! This post gives me a little hope.

  • Robin - I have a 2 year old and a 5 month old and often wonder how you do all of these amazing things! You are an inspiration! Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

  • Emily - I’m glad that you mentioned your memory of being in the trenches with the youngsters – I’m feeling like I’m just about to climb out the other side. Luckily my husband helps out as much as he does or I, too, wouldn’t have clean hair as often as I do!

    Your kitchen looks amazing. One of these days you should do an interior design workshop. No joke. ;-)

  • misti d. - So awesome for the boys. your studio is super awesome and that giant scale on the wall- OH MY WORD-its amazing:))))

  • Heather - I have a 19 month old and a 6 week old and anytime they’re asleep at the same time I rush to get as much done as possible. I work full-time, so thankfully I have my husband on the weekends, but who knew it would be such a big deal to shower and get a few chores done all in one day??

  • Debbie C - Yes, love that wallpaper. One day I hope to have the time/energy to have some beautiful wallpaper up. I too have an infant and a 2 year old. Oh man is our house in need of a deep clean. I pat myself for getting our Christmas cards out this year, just in time. It was an accomplishment! :)

  • Kelly - Yesterday my youngest walked out of his Sunday School class with a popsicle stick ornament heavy with glue and “jewels”. I realized that’s probably the last popsicle stick ornament I’ll every get. It was kind of sad but, at the same time, I love having bigger kids. As I type this, my oldest two are in the kitchen making scones all on their own. Awesome.

    Glad you enjoyed your girl time :)

  • Jenna Galvan - As I’m reading this last post I’m nursing my newborn and listening to my 3 other young children run around me half dressed. I haven’t had a shower in days and I’ve been feeling very unproductive and very NOT on top of things lately, especially with it being Christmas! I keep reminding myself that this is just a season, and it will go by so fast! SOMEDAY I will be “productive” again! Youre posts are always so encouraging! THANK YOU!

  • bethanyb - Thank you for this. we (me and my Darling) are in the “newborn” stage still. Our Button will be one in March and though I do get a shower and laundry done (and I’ve mastered breakfast every day for a month now! WOOT!) I totally needed this. There are still un-finished Christmas gifts (we make them all) on my dinning room take, a full sink of unwashed dished (from last night) in the sink. sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. I remember feeling how easy peasy it was as a live in nanny too a four year old, two year old, and one year old twins but for some reason, being a mother to ONE is taking its toll. I know the rainbow is just around the corner and I’m striving to see the good in now and take it in slowly, but its nice to know this is normal. I’m not alone. :) thank you.

  • Melodie - Thank you. That paragraph about productivity with kids brings me such hope! I just had my second 2 months ago, and the adjustment has been a lot more difficult than I was expecting! Although I’m trying to cherish the baby stage…i very much look forward to the days where we can do projects together…and when I won’t need to schedule a shower to make sure I get one!

  • M Holt - Where’s the wall paper from?

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Thank you so much for the encouragement. Going from 2 very capable, breakfast making, laundry help kids – to adding a 2 year old in the mix has me a little upside down this year. wonderful and great! just upside down :)

  • Eva - I have a two year old and a newborn, some days I’m so overwhelmed at how little I am able to accomplish… then I remember that taking care of my babies IS a huge accomplishment! I want more kids, so its good to hear of people surviving the newborn & toddler stages and still having more kids! Thank you for your encouragement!
    I never posted on here before but I love your site. Your photography is so inspiring. I hope to capture life someday as well as you have been able to!

  • Taylor - I love these pictures! And I absolutely love what you did with that kitchen space! So cute.

    xoxo
    Taylor

    http://www.welcomehometaylor.com

  • Kim B. - Ashley — praise God for Chris’s sense in stopping so close to home. A 16-year-old boy from my hometown was killed on the icy roads driving home from Tulsa Friday night and his family and all of us are heartbroken. It’s so sad to see Firecracker’s little face, but thank God that her Daddy and brothers came home safe the next day.

    Please say a prayer for the Norton family, they are hurting this Christmas.

  • Nichole Young - Ashley, have super sparkly Christmas with your darling family :) p.s. I’m drooling over your new wallpaper!! It fits that space like it was made for it.

  • Noelle - Before I got to your story about doing laundry and taking a shower on the same day, I was looking at that picture of Little One and Firecracker sitting on the counter while you were grouting and thinking, “Wow, there will actually come a day when my daughter (10 months now) will be able to help with tasks, or at least not eat the cat food if I turn my back for 2 minutes.” Your post was very encouraging to this mom who feels like nothing ever gets done.

  • Ashley - My husband and I were just talking about that last night on our way home from family Christmas. Our littles are still very much little… lots of diapers and needing help all around. We laughed and talked about how weird it will be in a few years when everybody can manage for themselves :)
    Can’t wait to see more pics of that little kitchen area! LOVE it!!! Merry Christmas:)

  • Eva - Febreeze! Ah jajajaja. Thanks for sharing this. I use to feel like that with my two little ladies. So I think you are súper woman doing all those proyects with FIVE!

  • Ally - I love that you mentioned the feeling of being out of the “newborn phase”. I bawled my eyes out while reading it! I just had twins December 5th (so of course I’ve been on a hormonal/emotional rollercoaster these days!) and feel so overwhelmed some days. I actually feel like its hard to make time to go to the bathroom, let alone get some laundry done or take a shower! Your comments reminded me to not wish this phase away, regardless of how stressful and exhausting it is. To savour every phase. Thank you so much for that reminder!

  • Catherine - Thank you for your kind words. Sometimes I wonder if other moms have some secret trick up their sleeves that allows them to be so productive everyday. I am encouraged! I also need to find a good hat! ;)

  • Nicole Rienstra - Thanks for your encouraging note at the end! That is exactly where I’m at – I have an almost 2-year-old and a five week old, and I work full-time (on maternity leave now). I love creating, crafting, sewing, etc, but my projects these days are few and far between. I’m having to learn that “productive” looks different in this phase of life, and trust that projects and crafts will return more regularly when my kids are older. But I love learning what other fun projects people are up to via great blogs like this! Thanks!

  • Amy - Thank you for your paragraphs at the end. It was just what I needed. I have a 2year old, 1 year old and one on the way and feel overwhelmed that I will never get it all done. Thanks for the reminder that it is just a season!

I am sad to say we did not do Christmas cards this year. I know not everyone is big on cards, but I really enjoy getting them from friends. December is such a fun time to go to the mailbox. I like getting cards and I like sending them. Cards with photos are my favorite; seeing the smiling (and silly faces) of my friends and their kids just makes me happy. So, thank you, to all those that send me cards. Please don’t take me off your list for next year! I’m not sure what happened this year, but I just never got around to making cards.

We did actually take a few photos. My friend Bopha of B.Gambill Photography did mini-sessions in our field, so we snuck in front of her camera for a few family shots. I took several of the kids while I had her couch available. Oddly enough, I captured one photo of all five kids looking at the camera and smiling.
12.20-001Here are a few Bopha took of us. We were not making silly faces, the goal was everyone look at Bopha and smile. That did not happen.

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And then I snapped some more of the kids.

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If I get all those projects I started this week finished, I might post something on that next week. Or I might not. All my guys have been gone for the last 6 days. They’ve been on a man trip. Chris took our guys skiing for the first time and they are making unforgettable memories. But I sure miss them. The girls and I are so anxious for them to get back today. Everything just feels off when we aren’t together.  Hurry home guys!!

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  • Meg - We forgot cards too. Sad. Because I really like getting them too. Fail. These shots are so fun! I love real life shots way more than the sitting pretty ones!

  • Izzy - What lovely photos! I like photos like this so much more than just ‘smiling for the camera’ as it shows their personalities! And so cute you and Firecracker wearing similar outfits too!

  • Erica / Baker Stories - Haha the fact that you didn’t order cards seems a little ironic since those of us who ordered mpix christmas cards looked at your family photos in cards all over the site :) But seriously, no worries. Sometimes those things just don’t happen. You could always order “Happy New Years” cards if you are feeling inclined. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend when you are reunited

  • Kaitlyn - Look at you rocking the curls!!! GORGEOUS! Love. Love. Love the family photos!

  • Jess Z. - Very sweet pictures :)

  • Tiffany - I love that your chickens are in a couple of shots. I may have to put a couple in our pictures for next year! Love, love, love.

  • Necole@seriouslysassymama - Love the couch! What a great idea for a family pic.

  • Monica - I love those pictures! I like that one of your kids is trying to kiss the oldest one. Firecracker always looking at the camera smiling (I wish my girls does that. LOL) I like little one just doing anything. having fun. These are just perfect. One I see you family I wish to have more kids, :) . But with my work and everything else seems a lot of harder, but we will see at the end. :) Have a wonderful day!

  • Anna - Friend, you have such a beautiful family. I am beyond excited to get to finally meet you next month!!!

  • angie - Absolutely love that the chickens were included in the shots! haha. The Best!

  • rachelzana - I love that you included the chicken!

  • Irene - Funny that Firecracker dressed like you, and your third son dressed like Chris. Have a wonderful Christmas time!

  • Leila - Your pictures are ALL gorgeous, of course!

    I didn’t get cards out either, but I take comfort in knowing that Christmas lasts for a good long time, and why not go with that :)

  • Haley - We’re doing New Years cards this year. That way I don’t have to feel rushed, people get something after all of the Christmas festivities have died down, and I get a chance to get a good picture of us dressed up during Christmas.

    PS. Your hair looks amazing in these pictures.

  • kimberly oyler - the chicken in your family pictures just about kills me. and if it makes you feel better, we haven’t done christmas cards in 8 years. sad.

  • Taylor - I love those pictures! They might not be what you had in mind (and really, are they ever?) but they are perfect.

    xoxo
    Taylor

    http://www.welcomehometaylor.com

  • Amy - You make 5 kids look good! I am praying about making a move to 4. We have a chicken in our card this year, too <3

    Merry Christmas mama!

    xo

  • kelleyn - Love the photos! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  • Becca Valone - I cut myself a break about 10 years ago when I was working full time outside of the home….I started sending Happy New Year’s cards. I mail them throughout the month of January. One year the last of the batch also had Valentine’s greetings on them as well. People still love receiving photo cards no matter when you send them.

  • ellen patton - These photos are wonderful!

  • Nichole Young - Those photos are too wonderful not to send out. If you send them out as a New Years greeting you can do it anytime in January! …after the holidays allow you some extra time ;)

  • Ailie - Beautiful pictures! And you have no idea how much better your post made me feel. I am a paper person, and yet I did not send out a Christmas card. I could not bring myself to send out a stock card. I like it to be handmade and unique. Life is full this season and it just didn’t happen. It was a conscious decision. I knew I could stay up until 2 am for a couple nights and crank it out, but I decided I’d rather enjoy this time with family and friends.

  • Katy - I love the all of the photos! And the fact you can see each child’s personality come out in the photos is extra special :)

    ~Katy

  • Maloree - My favorite pictures are always the ones that don’t look perfect. Great shots.

  • denise lopez - BOPHA’S couch???? Super cute pics!!!!!

  • AshleyAnn - Denise – oops…my mistake! Denise’s couch!!! :)

  • Martyna - Wow, all 5 sitting on a sofa! I’m trying to round two up and fail most of the time! :) Great, as always…