For most families, school is back in session and it is a perfect time for many adults to begin learning something new too. I know how hard it is to find time for online courses that require logging in at a certain time or with limited access. In January, I combined my SnapShop: DSLR and SnapShop:Phone courses into one online photography website with new lessons added monthly. Instead of logging in at a certain time or only having couple weeks to access content, the new site is subscription based. As a subscriber you have access to all the content for as long as you keep your membership. The monthly membership costs less than a fancy latte.

For the first time…I’m holding a flash sale! The initial registration fee will be 50% off for TODAY only! The registration fee will be discounted to $25 (normally $50)

Flash Sale started at 12:00am CST on August 24th and end at 11:59pm CST on August 24th.

Registration includes access to all SnapShop content (used by over 3000 students since 2009), including:

  • SnapShop DSLR Course (a $200 value)
  • SnapShop Phone Course (a $50 value)
  • Interviews & tips with leading photographers & bloggers
  • Course discussions
  • Additional lessons posted monthly by Ashley Ann and guests!

To register click here and use the code: Back2School

Discount code is case sensitive and can be entered at checkout.  Subscriptions will renew for $5.00 monthly to maintain access to existing content and new lessons!  

Below is a glimpse at a few of the lessons. To see a listing of all the lessons and courses included and a FAQ page answering common questions visit the SnapShop website.

SnapShop8.16

 

 

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  • tiffany. - I took the DSLR course a few years ago and LOVED it! It covered the same material as a classroom photography course I took but was SO much more approachable and easier to understand. I also love that it told me not just what my camera was capable of, but also what settings I might consider for specific shots I wanted to capture (and there was a wide variety). The way the material made concepts easy but still challenged me to take better photos was fantastic. I just signed up for the subscription – thanks for the flash sale! – but wanted others to know I would highly recommend the course/subscription in case they’re on the fence.

  • Mrs Mike - so excited, I’ve been wanting to sign up for this since I got my camera for Christmas. Thanks!!

  • Devon - Super excited – definitely signing up. I was a part of your original online DSLR course and have been such a slacker signing back up. Thanks for doing the flash sale!

  • Julie - Thank you so much for this sale! I’ve been wanting to join for several months. I began reading through/practicing from the Phone Course today and it’s already been so helpful!!

  • KC - Yay! I just signed up. I love your talent of sharing your daily stories with us, and I am excited to learn from you.

  • Kathie M. - Hey Ashley!! I am so excited and have taken advantage of your sale!! Now I was wondering will my renewal fee be taken on the same day each month? I just want to make sure I am ready for it to come out of my account each month! I can’t wait to get learning new things!

    **Happy Dance**

  • Lexie Cook - I’m so excited to start this! I’ve been wanting to do it for a while but could never get up the courage. The discount definitely helped. I’ve got a 1 year old with one on the way so I’m looking forward to being able to learn ways to capture all the great moments. Thank you!

  • NdT - I just love your photographic style. It rally captures every day life is such a great way.
    I signed up last night & this is by far the coolest online course ever. Cameras can be so intimidating sometimes, this makes it so much more approachable.
    Thank you!
    xo

Over the last week I’ve watched many of my friends capture adorable First Day of School pictures and celebrate the start of a new year. This month marks the beginning of our 5th year homeschooling – so much for my plan to only do it for 1 year! We took the plunge to try homeschooling for a whole host of reasons. Chris works from home and since SnapShops are online, we have flexibility with our schedules. Not knowing how long this season of our careers would last, we aimed to make the most of it by traveling with the kids and camping as much as possible.

But life can just happen if we aren’t intentional.

We started school last week and I quickly returned to feeling overwhelmed with juggling teaching 5 kids and running a business. When I get overwhelmed it is easy for me to focus on the negative and to only see the tunnel without any hope for light at the end. I needed to step back and get perspective…or get a good slap in the face from a loving friend reminding me not to look to the left or right but remember the WHY in my own decisions. The bottom line is I truly love homeschooling, but it is so demanding! I love pretty much everything about it and what has happened in our family as a result. It is definitely not for every parent or every kid, but it is definitely for us. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that and the best way for me to do that is to pack up school books and get away – to take advantage of the schedule perks of homeschooling.

We loaded the kids up for an impromptu trip to take the trailer out and visit Silver Dollar City (yay! for season passes from the grandparents!). A couple of days watching my kids smile and laugh is just the motivation I needed to remember I can do hard things. I want to do hard things because at the end of the day there are 5 kids laughing and smiling and making me well up with so much gratitude I might explode. Homeschool is not for the faint of heart. Neither is public school. Or private school. They all have their amazing perks and they all have their huge challenges. And they all have parents overwhelmed and wondering if they are making the right decision.

I came up for air for a few days. We drove away. We rode rides. We laughed. We fought. We were filled with gratitude. We complained. We just did life and remembered why we have made certain decisions for what school looks like for our family. It was short, but it was good.

I am not sure if I have ever shared our quickest camping meal here before. Pizza pockets. We can whip them up really fast after a day of exploring and all the kids like them. You could get super creative with the ingredients, but we just use bread, cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni and some garlic salt. Put your ingredients in between two slices of bread, close the sandwich things, put over the flame and then enjoy.




He prefers to take selfies over his mom taking his picture. He does like to pose…however oddly.Corbett is quite the book critic and is happy to tell me if he thinks books are a good fit for his brothers. When a package of 2 books arrived on our doorstep (the author’s wife reads my blog!), he tore into them before I could even look. As we asked him for details on one (Countryside by J.T. Cope IV), he response was, “Yeah. You are just going to have to read it.” He said it reminded him a little of Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia. He hasn’t put it down, so that is a good sign….unless it is dinnertime and he is breaking my “No books at the dinner table” rule.


This is how my kids will probably remember me from their childhood. Hair pulled back. No makeup. T-shirt. The opposite of glamorous and put together. They won’t look back at their growing up years and remember Chris in a suit or me in heels (though heels would be so fun every now and then!). They may not remember a fancy mom, but I do hope they remember lots of pizza pockets, campfires, and a mom not afraid to pull back her hair and get messy in life alongside them.

We’ll return home. I’ll probably return to feeling overwhelmed and then I’ll remind myself to take it all a day at a time and choose joy. I’ll pause in the midst of feeling like too much is on my plate and I’ll remember my WHY. I’ll remember how incredibly good I have it and that my definition of what a ‘hard day’ is, well it is privilege. This is the day – whatever the day holds – that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

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  • Ashley - Man, that last picture is just stunning. Thank you so much for sharing your family!!

  • Heather - Thank you for this! I was feeling much the same way this past week. So many cute pictures of kiddos heading off to school while I was toiling at home over homeschool lessons. It’s our first year homeschooling and we did it for the flexibility to be able to see things in the area we live. This week…no looking left or right and I’m going to take some adventurous field trips to remember why we did this in the first place.

  • kate - I could not love this post more. Thank you!

  • Ashley - Thank you for being honest. I was feeling the same way. That was so encouraging to remember the why.

  • Ashley Anderson - Such a great post! I like what you said about every type of homeschooling being difficult & how all sorts of parents find themselves wondering if they are doing the right thing.

    Do you live near SDC? We live in Springfield, MO, just north of it.

    Happy homeschooling!

  • Liz - Great post to read as I send my oldest to Kindergarten in two days. I feel like I can still relate even though I choose public school. I still have kids at home so my stay at home job is not over but it is so hard to have one go away when he has been with me for 5 1/2 years. BTW I love that you have to have a “no books at the table rule” just shows you are rocking the homeschool mom role!!!

  • Christine - Well said what a great reminder to change my perspective. As a mom and a homeschooling mom it gets so hard somedays to remember why we do what we do and that is in fact a privilege. I was up last night worrying and praying! about a lot of things that are on my plate – finishing a house, my husband starting a business, trying to move in and create some normalcy, and still getting ready to homeschool my 4 kiddos. Yikes, sometimes it’s easy to feel the weight of the world on us. But as I type that out you have done a similar thing and seem to have made it to the other side!
    Hope your week is full of blessing and God’s grace showing up. Thanks for the reminder. Always trying to count my blessings. ?

  • Sarah Wolfe - I can so relate to this post. Even though my oldest two are going to school three days a week now, I’m still plugging away with my three youngest at home, and am needed for moral support for my oldest two with their massive amounts of homework. And even though we don’t get out adventuring much except in the summer (mostly because of sports schedules!), I understand what you are saying. I think we all do it (whatever form of education we chose) because we feel it’s best for our kiddos and our whole family. But there are sacrifices. And in homeschooling you sacrifice a peaceful and quiet house. But I’m hoping there’s plenty of time for that later on in life when my kids don’t want to be with me as much anymore 😉 Blessings to you and your year, friend!

  • Jen - Thank you for this! I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed and we haven’t even started school yet. This year I will have 2 in private school, one homeschooling, one in preschool, and around Christmas we will bring home an 8 year old from China…which means homeschooling a child that doesn’t speak English! I know why we’re doing it and we will cling tightly to that. Thank you for the reminder to keep our eyes on our own path!

  • Alicia @ Sweeping Up Joy - “This is the day – whatever the day holds – that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Tara - Campfire sandwich makers are the best! As kids we loved them filled with canned chili and shredded cheese.

  • Anne Marie - Home school Moms are AWESOME!!! You have my highest respect! :) I feel incredibly lucky {blessed} to have a Christian school to send my children to… if it wasn’t for that I would definitely home school! Keep your chin up… and just letting you know… the reason I check your blog every single day {just in case you posted in between M-W-F} is because you let us in on the real life ups & downs and it makes me feel like you’re one of my friends! :)

  • Diana - We call those pudgy pies! I love reading about your camping adventures, make me want to go camping again myself!

  • Melanie - Pizza pockets are our absolute favourite quick camping meal! Everyone will eat them too!

  • Lacey Meyers - I feel like I can breathe a little easier just by reading your experience and thoughts on this. I can relate to this on so many levels and am thankful to you for putting it into words and perspective. <3 I'll remember it when we start our homeschooling year in a few weeks, for sure!

  • Leah - I’ve enjoyed following your posts for a few years now. It was fun today to see your family enjoying pizza pockets. We grew up calling them bush pies. Instead of assembling at the campfire, however, we would make a pizza mixture ahead of time:
    Mince and saute: 1 onion; 1 green pepper. Add: 1 chub (500g) pepperoni, shredded; 680 ml (sorry, canadian!) tomato sauce; 1-2 cups cheese, shredded (more or less depending on preference)
    It freezes great, and add a scoop between bread, and you’re in bush pie heaven! (followed by one filled with cherry pie filling!!!)

  • kimberly oyler - i love those sandwich things!! makes a reaallllllly good apple pie if you put canned apple filling between 2 slices of bread, generously, and i mean generously, butter the outsides, pinch the edges and then cook over the fire til golden brown. you’re welcome. 😉

  • angie - Ashley! This was just what i needed! We ‘started’ our fourth year of homeschooling today (what?!) and needless to say it was a day of seeing the long tunnel and not the ‘why’. Thank you so much for this reminder. I ‘amen’ everything you said. It is so good to acknowledge there is an eternal One actively guiding within our decisions and to exercise to have faith in that guidance. He is good at being God! May we let Him live within us this year and within all the up and downs of our daily lives that at the end of this year we may ultimately know and love Him more.

  • AmandaH - This is so great! Love this post. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Christine - I really needed this! Some of my whys are similar, but it helps to focus on them, especially at this time of year. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Molly - Thank you for this! We live in China – we just pulled our 5 year old daughter out of Chinese school because it was HARD and now we’re dealing with all the hurt from that and transitioning her to international school. What a good reminder to take it one day at a time. I teared up when I got to the end of your post. Every day on our way out the door – into a city of 8 million people all wanting a glance at our blonde haired girl – I tell her, and remind myself, “This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Thank you too for sharing your life with a whole bunch of strangers – I find it a great escape from the city lights, car horns, and all the people that surround us!

  • kristina - I absolutely love what you said, “Take it one day at a time and choose joy.” I copied it down and I will be referring to it all day just to remind myself. Thanks!!

  • Mia White - As a fellow homeschooler I love this exercise and greatly appreciate your honest candor. Cheers to the new school year!

  • Vénusia - Thank you so much for sharing. In the past weeks your words encouraged me very much in my mom of 4 youngs kids, homeschooler life !

  • Chris Curtis - We love our pie irons. I never thought about making pizzas in them. We usually make desserts with cream cheese and fruit.

  • Kelly - Yes! Thanks for sharing the real. We have begun our second homeschooling year and I am feeling overwhelmed. I think all the mamas out there are feeling overwhelmed whether they are the teacher or they are getting back into routine of early bedtimes and wake up times and catching the bus or driving carpool. We need to give all the mamas extra loads of grace right now!! I like your idea of coming up for air. Sometimes I just try to keep trying harder through it, maybe not the best approach! :) Kelly

So…I’m having hosting issues. I know the blog is loading slow and sometimes not at all. It is frustrating for me and I am sure it isn’t much fun to read for you. If it is loading slow today, I’d just click off and try again next week. No point in spending your precious time waiting for my blog to load. We are working to get the issue resolved. Hopefully it will be sooner than later. Thanks for hanging here with me.

My youngest nephew will be turning 1 in a couple of months. He is such a happy, scrumptious little guy. While my mom and sister took my boys to play laser tag this week, I had the 4 girls and the littlest guy. I forgot how busy a crawler can be and my house is no longer baby-proofed. He kept me on my toes. Parenting is exhausting. Parenting little ones take tremendous physical endurance. Parenting bigger kids takes mental and emotion endurance! Both require grace – for ourselves and our kids.

Little man and I were hanging out downstairs when my daughter arrived with a bag declaring it was time to give him a makeover. This poor guy…four girls that all think he is their doll/baby.

8.16littlest-18.16littlest-28.16littlest-38.16littlest-48.16littlest-5And I’ll state what many are thinking… THE CHALKBOARD IS GONE?! Yep, if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know this wall is always changing…my house is always changing. My friend stopped over and helped me to freshen things up using what I already had on hand. I’ll post more about that soon.8.16littlest-6“Save me Aunt Ashley!”8.16littlest-7I tried to force him to lay on my chest and take a nap. He wasn’t for it. Bummer.8.16littlest-88.16littlest-98.16littlest-10I told her, “I wouldn’t do that. He has teeth now.” You can guess what happened next.8.16littlest-118.16littlest-12I eventually landed on the floor and stayed there.8.16littlest-13I absolutely LOVE the stages my kids are in now, but I sure am thankful for a little guy in my life too. Parenting felt simpler then – love, feed, play, hold. When I really step back and think about though – those are still the things my kids need most. Love. Feed. Play. Hold.

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  • Kate - Hi Ashley!
    Oh my GOSH, this post is adorable! Thank you for sharing it! I am really looking forward to future posts about your living room and painting projects! So fun! I do have to ask though…in the last frame…weren’t you afraid of getting drooled on?? haha!!! Teething babies are usually pretty wet!! 😉 Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Southern Gal - Cuteness overload!

  • Ashley - LOVE the new living room makeover! Looks so great!

  • Amy K. - eep! Your words and photos bring back the baby experience full force! So cute, and so exhausting. I’m glad to know that it’s not just me who’s having trouble with your site loading. Rather than click away and try again later, I’ll be clicking and then messing around somewhere else until your site loads. =)

  • Stephanie - I love how you ended this post. Sometimes we become so nostalgic for when our children were babies. But it is true that when we take a short break from the homework, errands, and extracurricular, all our children really still want is to be held, play and have snacks. It’s the simple necessities and they are still just as sweet.

  • Tessa - I would love to know details on your rug! :)

  • Kimberly Oyler - my sister’s baby napped on my chest for over an hour yesterday. it was THE BEST. until i was hungry and had to pee. then i was like, get this baby off of me. 😉

  • carrie Campbell - He’s sooo cute. And I like your new art wall behind the couch. One of the pieces reminds me of DIY you did years ago that was paint by number over a painting you thrifted. (I think… :) well, anyways some DIY showed up on Pinterest 3 years ago and it brought me to the blog and I’m still here 3 years later.) :)

  • Byron - You are a kid magnet! Then again, kids love homes with other kids in them and yours is pretty full (cool Moms help with the allure too).

    As, apparently, the only guy who posts here, I have to ask: what is it with women and hanging plants? I honestly don’t get it. Oh well.

  • AshleyAnn - Come back to Crossfit and I’ll explain why hanging plants are wonderful in person :)

  • Mel - Did Firecracker take the last image? She’s talented for sure!

    Greetings from Germany.

  • Anne Marie - Totally worth waiting for it to load up! :) I’m always inspired by your posts… And pictures of your home!

  • Halas Tida - Woow you have amazing Kids, Love this room looking Wonderful :)

  • AshleyAnn - Mel – she did. When she sees my camera not in my hands, she is off taking her own pictures.

  • Lacey - Your blog is totally worth waiting around for it to load! 😉 And my goodness … he’s nearing a year already?? Watching other people’s baby’s grow online sure does make time fly!

  • Gretchen - Where did you get the beautiful rug! What a fun way to add lots of color!

  • AshleyAnn - Gretchen – it is from World Market

  • Julie - Your new wall collage looks awesome!