Rumaging through old photos I found a few of my sister and I riding bikes at my grandparents. My sister is killing me in the elbow and knee pads. I don’t ever remember wearing any type of protective gear like that…probably why I’ve had broken bones and she hasn’t. My parents must have learned the hard way with me.

5.15ride-01My bike was pretty awesome…I need a new bike with basket!5.15ride-02Shocking us all, my youngest daughter (almost 4) recently learned how to ride her bike. We bought a balance bike at a friend’s garage sale and within 2 weeks she was pedaling and riding her ‘big girl’ bike. Her siblings were YEARS older before they could ride…she is so proud of herself.

I got one shot of her riding with my phone. I was using my DSLR to video…the video is hilarious. You can hear her siblings screaming for her while Chris and I are just laughing at the craziness of it all. 5 out of 5 of our kids can ride bikes. I anticipated this day happening in another 2-3 years.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetI did get a couple photos of her with my DSLR. Her Rock, Paper, Scissors shirt was c/oย  Passive Juice Motel. I know someone will ask!

5.15ride-10There is supposed to be a basket on this bike, but it is long gone. She decided it makes a great sucker holder. There are so many things surprising about this…one she puts suckers in her mouth. If you have followed her journey, you know it has been a long road getting anything in her mouth. Secondly, she is riding a bike. This little spitfire that was once in occupational therapy for various delays and challenges, is now a three year old riding a bike without training wheels. I laugh every time I watch her on her bike…she just looks far too tiny and it is ridiculous how far she has come in the last 3 years. She’s got grit and determination.5.15ride-115.15ride-125.15ride-13This one – she’s a mess. She both wears me out, makes me laugh and says the sweetest, “I love you muffin.” She laughs at herself every time she calls me “muffin” instead of “mommy”. I have no idea where it came from. This is also her fake smile…because I asked her to smile. She’s a handful and I sure am she’s mine!

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  • Katie - Go Girl! Riding bikes is the BEST! I got some nice shots of my mother helping our four year old on his bike last week and I know we will treasure these shots.

  • Jeanne - AMAZING!

  • Heather - So sweet! That is the best fake smile I’ve seen in awhile!!

  • Jess - muffin! LOL I love it!!

  • Caroline Kelley - I love the stories of your kids! That “handful” comment reminded me of a children’s book called “Betty bunny loves chocolate cake” you MUST read it, the little girl bunny thinks being called a handful must be a good thing since her parents love her so much and tell her that all the time. I haven’t met a kid or adult who doesn’t laugh at Betty Bunny!

  • Debbie - She is adorable!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - I am amazed she is riding without training wheels. My 8 and 6 year olds can’t even do that yet, but then again we don’t live in a nice environment with space to do so (we are on a very traffic induced road and a small driveway). we have to go find parks and such to ride at, so it is partially my fault. I was 6 and only had training wheels for an hour and hated them and decided to go on my older brother’s bike and learned instantly even though it was such a very tall bike (he was 13).

  • Juice - Go Little One! What a joyous surprise to see her mastering bikes and lollipops. What an encouragement to us all – things may not go the way we expect them to, because we worship a God of miracles!

  • Tracy - We got a hand-me-down strider bike when our son was 18 months old. At three years old he was riding a bike and we only used training wheels for a half a day. Now my daughter is using the strider bike. Balance bikes are really the only way to go. Now my son, who is four will ride on trails. It really is amazing to me!

  • Erin - I am so incredibly impressed that she is riding a bike! That is awesome!!

  • Perla - She is so beautiful! I think the trick is the balance bike. My daughter too was riding her bike with no training wheels at 4 years old because the balance bike!

  • Melanie - YAY for her! And big news: she speaks?! I always was under the impression that she doesn’t speak.
    Greetings from Germany.

  • Katie - She is so cute! I had to buy that shirt after I saw it on one of your earlier posts!

  • Tiffany - Those balance bikes work! Love the Muffin story, too sweet.

  • Emily | Gather & Dine - Balance bikes are the absolute best! My youngest started her two wheeler right before her 4th birthday too- totally out of nowhere! “I love you muffin”- that is the sweetest thing and makes me smile to hear it.

  • Alba - I have been following you for years, and I really do not comment that much.
    I’m really amazed about your younger girl, I remember myself crying, reading your journey in China, the surgeries, the food, … The once, shy, scared, little baby is getting older, full of joy and life.
    My congratulations, to you, to her, to the whole family.
    Petonets,
    Alba

  • Tanya - Congrats — that’s so fun and exciting!

  • Debbie C - I love this, so amazing! And her fake smile is so similar to my daughter’s! Hilarious! Now I need to get a balance bike for my 4 year old…

  • Jessica R - Good GRIEF she is so cute! I love her determination. I can’t believe she’s almost 4. She is two months older than my daughter. I remember hitting refresh every minute on your blog waiting for the Gotcha post, and now here your girl is, riding a bike and eating a sucker! She’s amazing. Doing great, Mama!

  • Amy Cornwell - She’s precious! Congratulations Sweet Girl!

  • Amy - I love your blog! I plan to show this one to my 14 year old boy who has never learned to ride a bike and is terrified. Maybe this will finally motivate him!

It is so wet here. Standing water covers large portions of our yard. It is wet, but it is also warm. The boys contemplated digging a pool, but my oldest informed me it would take too long so they settled for a hot tub.

5.15mud-015.15mud-02The hot tub also came with a slide/diving board. I mean, who doesn’t want to slide into a pit of mud? My oldest called the slide “luxury”. Well, son, that is one way to describe it.5.15mud-03“Hey mom, do you dare me to drink this?” No. Please don’t drink that. I double dog dare you NOT to drink that.5.15mud-05I’m still learning these boys. Every day is a wrestling match. Every day someone takes something too far. Someone gets hurt. Someone gets mad. Someone storms off. Every day. I asked them to make it one whole day in total peace and harmony for Mother’s Day. It didn’t happen. I figure it is worth it though. In the midst of all that rough housing and competition a bond is being forged that I can’t even fully grasp or understand. They fight like brothers and love like brothers. No one better mess with one of them, that is unless it is one of them.

My boys. Chris bought an outdoor shower head this weekend….5.15mud-065.15mud-075.15mud-085.15mud-09I’m going to hang one of those in their bathroom or laundry room. It just seems appropriate. And it would make me smile…I rarely smile when I walk into the laundry room or their bathroom!

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  • Southern Gal - You’ve captured boyhood perfectly with your words and those photos. I would hang one of those up in my living room!! Great capture. I love the first and last one. They are so tickled with themselves.

  • Tracy R. - As a mom to all girls, I love the glimpse into your boy world! It is heartwarming and makes me laugh!

  • meg - LOVE this! I’m so glad you spoke on how they fight hard and love hard. That’s my boys, although they’re smaller! And I have photos of my boys in the mud in the laundry room too!

  • Bryony - When me and my four brothers ended up like that (too often) my mom would hose us down outside and then we would take a shower while stomping on our clothesโ€”give them a pre-wash of sorts. Loads of fun.

  • Jessica - These are just awesome. I can imagine them laughing at these together in 10 years! So well done. From one boy mama to another…the beauty of embracing the crazy and the dirty is a glorious perk of raising boys.

  • Itzi - I can totally relate to that. I have two sons. They love each other, the adore each other, they can spend hours hugging each other and telling each other how much they love one another. But when they fight, they fight like brothers. As heartbreaking as it is sometimes, it is lovely to see that bond growing and strengthening with the years. I hope they will always be best friends.
    Beautiful photographs by the way. Just gorgeous!
    Itzi

  • Dawn - Love! So fun

  • Kelley - So fun! I honestly think I would just throw those shorts away. Ha!! And I think I’m going to need an outdoor shower head also.

  • Aunt Sandy - Oh my goodness, that is priceless.

  • Jessie - These are some of my favorite pics on your blog now. I absolutely love these!

  • kaitlyn - I love this. I asked for peace on mothers day too and it didn’t work. Oh well. Through the insanity we all make it and inside our hearts are forever grateful for fighting and all.

  • angie - These just might be my favorite pictures of your boys.

  • Diana - Oh my gosh. These are perfect. Looks like the best fun. Must defenitely go up n their room and the laundry

  • Emily - This is my future!! I have 3 boys and they are an animal all their own! Amazing bond between the 3 of them though. Love to watch the fierceness of it!

  • amber - I love this. They are so happy! Perfect way to make laundry/terrible bathroom cleanup feel a little more worth it;)!

  • Tia Mirck - Have been following you for a couple of years now and just love your blog, and your kids and all your quirkiness!
    I live in Sydney, Australia, and if you ever come this way, do come and visit. You can stay in my spare room with its two beds, so you’ll have to work out who you’ll bring with you. Don’t wait too long though, I am getting a bit long in the tooth, but still do a lot of knitting and crochet for charity (blankets for poor people in cold places anywhere in the world mostly) and little fun things for kids.
    Anyway, just wanted to say ‘hello’!
    Love, Tia :-)

  • Jenny - You are an awesome Momma! I love seeing boys being boys! And an outdoor shower head… smart! :)

  • Corey - Best photos ever! That is awesome!

  • Caroline - WOW!! This is so so so awesome!!
    So awesome that they are having so much fun in the mud and get THIS awesomely dirty!!
    And it’s even more awesome that they have a momma like you who allows them to have this kinda fun and instead of freaking out, you are snapping away on your camera!!
    I would so totally do this when I am a mom, but unfortunately in Singapore, we dont really get mud around us. not like the ones you have.
    Stay awesome boys and momma!!

  • Meredith N. - Those last few pictures are so so great!!

  • Shannon - Wow!! I mean really WOW at those photos!! Worth every little speck of mud for those smiles and that happiness!!

  • danielle - I have pics of my boys covered in mud in their bathroom. It always makes me smile. Boys are great at getting muddy :)

  • Debbie - I love the pics of them being so dirty. I have two grown daughters so I can’t relate. However, I do have a two year old grandson that will probably teach me how to relate. Hope you have a great day!

  • Emily - I asked for the same thing for Mother’s Day! (but of course did not get it, although I must say they tried!) These are pictures to be treasured forever. Love the joy that comes when boys are muddy and messy. :)

  • ranee - i LOVE these photos…so great to capture these moments of crazy and happy and messy!

  • Betsy - I have three boys. This was so encouraging for me to read today! LOVE these photos, and just the whole story!!

  • kathy tillman - As the mother of three boys myself, I love this!

  • CassM - I have 3 boys … now 6, 5 and 3. And I’m so very happy I do. They are spectacular. And I can’t wait for the day when they’re all standing together for one of the others’ wedding, looking immensely handsome. All those “3 boys??” commenters will be laughing then! :)

  • Rachel - Those last few pictures are just awesome!!!!! You must frame one. (I like the last one the best ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Julie - Oh heaven! My oldest boy still doesn’t like to get dirty, but the for the youngest 3 it is game on! Beautifully captured. We have moss growing on the lawn it has been so wet! I kind of like it though. I’m sure I will miss all the rain when it’s 100 degrees. That may be the best part about OK, if you don’t like the current weather just wait an hour it may be totally different!!

  • Amy - Those last 4 pictures of your boys are priceless! I don’t have boys, but strangely this makes me want some!

  • angie - I LOVE these photos of your 3 amazing sons. I follow your journey daily and I so appreciate seeing their huge laughing smiles in one shot. The love simply oozes off of the page. Simply precious photos. And it doesnt’ hurt that they are captured in a lightness of childhood that involves a good coating of mud!

  • Crystal - That is definitely a framer!!! I love the first group shot at the bottom!!

  • Emily - every time I get a little freaked out at having only boys, you remind that it’s pretty awesome to see brothers grow up. Thank you :-)

    (and yes – make your laundry room someplace you don’t hate to be. Lord knows we do so much of it that the room should be inviting!)

  • Emily - PS, my 5yr old just walked in and saw the pictures and declared that all of your boys look like Mud Monsters, then he laughed so hard he snorted. Boys… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Erica - That is awesome! We are preparing to move across the country from New Mexico to small town New England and I dream of rural space around our home for our children to explore and get dirty! What a great childhood. And yes, boys will be boys. I don’t think we’ll ever fully grasp it all but they are unique and beautiful and wild all in one! Good job momma!

  • Jamie - I can hear the laughter just by looking at their faces in those last pictures. Awesome.

  • Elizabeth McDonald - That is perfect..hang it in their bathroom..I love that!!

  • Tanya - I absolutely love those last few pictures — the joy on their faces is priceless!!! Yes, please hang them in one or both of those rooms! Just perfect!

  • Brandi - These are awesome–and would be so great displayed in bath or laundry room! I have one in the laundry of my daughter covered in ice cream…so I smile when I see it, but then I want to go eat something sweet! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Cheryl - I love these photos so much. My youngest son died on January 20th, and I am just now able to look at fun photos like these and not fall apart. The bond between brothers is unique. I realize that now more than ever as I watch my oldest struggle with the loss of his little brother. Among my many regrets is not taking more pictures. There are a lot of them, but now that there won’t be any more, it doesn’t seem like enough. Thank you for sharing the wonderful photos and stories of your beautiful family.

  • Amy Cornwell - I want to be the kind of mom you are…no scared of messes and dirt. They have such fun. Love these pictures!

  • Cindy Steffan - My favorite post ever!!!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - Oh man this looks like a lot of fun. My sons aren’t really into getting too dirty. one is and the other hates being outside (drives me nutty because I’m outdoorsy and have to split my time indoors and outdoors to appease each child and myself haha). I would LOVE to go in the mud with my boys! I love these photos so much!!! They look so happy!!!!

This is my ridiculously cute sister and her family…in their backyard…smack dab in the middle of town. My friend Jessie Leigh took the first two photos (and the last one) in this post. You can see a whole shoot Jessie did in their garden at jessieleighphotography.com

zellers6Eric and Lesley are gardeners. They have a passion for growing their own food, but also for sharing the joy of gardening with others. I’m not sure you could be around them for longer than 15 minutes without something related to gardening coming up. I love that about them.zellers4When I refer to myself as the family ‘reject gardener’ it is because of stuff like this:

zel1I can’t even stay on top of laundry for a week. Their garden is a wonderland. The pictures really don’t do it justice. Lesley is on Instagram @lesleyzellers and has a few hashtags that she documents their garden story. One of my favorites (or least favorite because I feel like a gardening failure) is her weekly photos. It is amazing to see how much their garden changes from week to week…here are some examples:zellersgardenShe also shares peeks at the salads they make. Typically, I am eating leftovers off my kids’ lunch plates when I scroll through instagram and see some amazing salad she has created. I need her to live closer.zellerssalads

I share all that to say….she and Eric are teaching their very first gardening workshop! I am so excited. Eric is a natural teacher. When you get him started on gardening, he comes alive and shares with passion. Lesley laughs and giggles a lot at him, which is pretty cute. She is also so gifted at communicating all she has learned as a gardener.

The workshop will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 11th. Registration begins today at 9:00am US Central and space is VERY limited. The workshop will take place in their garden!

You can find all the details on how to register on her blog www.recipeforcrazy.comzel3Lesley and Eric spent years soaking up gardening wisdom from my grandpa. Like Lesley and Eric, he didn’t live out in the country. He lived in the middle of town, only miles from the heart of the city. In his tiny little backyard he used every square inch to provide food for family and neighbors. He left a legacy that Lesley and Eric are continuing.5.15grandpa-015.15grandpa-03He had two chairs in his garden. One now sits in my garden. The others in the Zellers’. He would be ridiculously proud of Lesley and Eric. I wish he could see their garden and hear their stories, it would have made him so happy. When I visit their garden, it feels awfully close to visiting his…zellers5

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  • Dawn - So neat! We recently moved to a house with a much smaller yard but have hopes of putting in a garden. I do follow Lesley on IG and am so inspired by her garden.
    So, I don’t know your children or Lesley’s children’s names but I really hope someone is named Corbett after your grandfather! I love that name!! I know he was very special to your family! :)

  • Amanda - I love following your sister’s instagram feed! She is a true gardening inspiration to me! And I’m sure your grandfather is watching from above with pride & love! ??

  • Jenn - love her ig and her awesome garden. great post
    how do you set up the little photos like you did?

  • Carrie Campbell - This is awesome!!! I wished I lived closer so I could hit up this workshop, such a good idea. :) I’ve got a green thumb, but it’s still learning the ropes. Sweet memorial of your grandparents too. :)

  • Jenny - I sooo wish that I had a green thumb. There is something so peaceful about being in a garden or a greenhouse.

  • Jme - Soooo cool! Wish I could go. I love the pics of them and the ones of your grandpa. So proud of them

  • Tiffany LaBelle - Thank you for sharing your family and your extended family with all of us. What an inspiration you all are in gardening and craft and art…all things creative…and of course, your love for your family. It warms my heart to read your blog and I am very excited to check out your sister’s. I too wish I lived closer to attend a workshop! Thank you, Ashley Ann:)

  • Amy Cornwell - This is so sweet…what a legacy he left to his grandkids. I love that. Such a great example.

  • Emily - Her salads!!! I literally can’t get them out of my head most days!!
    I have a tiny one… a few tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs.
    I dream of having the room to do ALL sorts. There is something about having dirt under your fingernails that makes me feel so very productive!

  • Jessica R - I love her IG posts. So wish I could attend the workshop but too far from Atlanta! Following her posts has made me more brave with my own garden :)