My grandpa’s woodshop was one of my very favorite places growing up. I relished taking a broom and sweeping all the sawdust off the floor. I soaked in the smell. The sounds. The sights. I’m confident his workshop played a huge role in my affection for working with my hands today – Grandpa’s workshop and my dad’s ability to build/make anything.

Earlier this summer we began building and quilting classes with my grandparents. I wanted my kids to learn from their great grandparents things I could never teach them – things that actually far more than building and quilting.

I need to get more pictures of grandma and the girls with their finished quilts, so I’ll save that post for later. Today I wanted to share a few of my grandpa and the boys. We try to go over once a week, but we’ve missed a few weeks here and there. My boys (& girls) look forward to this time with great anticipation.


10-16building-510-16building-7It is incredible to watch the boys now. They move about the workshop with ease and confidence. As I took these photos, I was beaming. I’ve grown up with my grandparents a regular and active part of my life. It is all I know. I easily forget that it is not the ‘norm’. My kids learning to build and quilt from their great grandparents seems just like an ordinary thing to me at first, but then I step back and realize how truly extraordinary it is. Watching moments like this – this is the good stuff in life. This is the stuff I want to chase.

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  • Laura Piersall - So sweet! Makes me wish I live closer to my grandparents so that my kids could learn from them every week.

  • Beth - You’re on the right path!

  • Sarah - Oh so special, Ashley!
    Made me well up thinking of my grandpa and his wood shop. He recently passed, but watching him create trinkets and treasures with my oldest was one of my very favorite things.
    What a priceless gift they are being given.

  • Emily - That is so special! What an amazing thing you’re doing for your children <3

  • Beth - I love when you write about the relationship between you and your grandparents and your kids and their grandparents/great-grandparents. Like you, I had grandparents that were very involved in my day-to-day life (though my dad’s mom passed away before I was born). So many of my favorite memories involve my grandparents. I feel so fortunate to have had and continue to have them in my life. My “Poppy” taught me how to make cinnamon buns and plant Christmas trees, while my “Nanny” taught me how to sew, play cards, and bake cookies. To this day, they are some of my very favorite people.

  • amy siu - May God keep blessing your family! post more! your blog really encourage me a lot. thanks!!!

  • Anniken - I had the pleasure of having my grandparents as neighboors when I grew up, and I have learned so many different things from them. And they were so handy, and did pretty much everything themselves so there were plenty things to watch and Learn. And the relationship we got… priceless!

  • Diana - I LOVE this. How special for your kids! Woodworking was my Grandpa’s retirement hobby but I never learned from him. I wish I had!!

  • Christine - These are amazing! It’s rare to have that kind of family bond AND great-grands who can still get around. You are one lucky family — keep fostering these relationships!

  • Michelle Fizzard - This is beautiful on so many levels!

  • Maureen - These photos are beautiful and important for so many reasons. The 2nd one down though, is astounding and outstanding and took my breath my away. It beautifully tells a story that needs told.

  • Lacey - This is just about my most favorite post of yours, Ashley! I adore hearing about your relationship with your grandparents and how your children are able to grow up with that similar relationship. What a rare, priceless gift. I’m so glad you took these images.

  • Candy - What beautiful memories you are making AND to have them documented in photographs is so special!

  • Byron - Wonderful wonderful pictures and commentary, Ashley! Both of my grandfathers died before I could get to know them (as I recall, before my third birthday). Your family is very blessed to still have your grandparents with them.

    The main difficulty with any type of work is getting the proper tools. I have a sizable garage but not serious tools. Those are good skills to learn and the boys are very lucky to have so much available for them! God bless!

My oldest has been working out with me a couple mornings a week. Our trainer usually spends a good 20 minutes walking us through stretches. I’ve looked over at my son in shock at his lack of flexibility. What? When did that happen?  I know there are a bunch of factors, but I also know flexibilty helps with injury prevention and other health issues.

I started watching my other kids in regards to flexibility too and decided we needed to do something proactive.

Yoga in the mornings…before we start school.

I found yoga cards for kids that has a yoga poses on each card. The kids each draw a card and we go through each pose together. It doesn’t take too long, but it gets them stretching everyday.

I don’t have pictures of us all together, but I found the girls outside with the cards earlier this week. One takes it very seriously. One does not.


I need to have Chris take some pictures of me and the kids one morning. It will probably make me laugh one day to look back on them…“Hey kids, remember when I used to make you do yoga poses every morning?” Of course they will respond, “Yeah mom! That was awesome. We are such flexible adults with great mobility because of that. Thank you. You’re the best mom.” Okay, they probably won’t say that, but I’m having fun watching them in the morning and laughing together is never a bad way to start the day!

I’m not sure what we are going to do when it gets cold. The concrete and wood floors in our house may not work so great. I could get us each a yoga mat, but then it is 6 more things to buy and store. Do any of you have any suggestions?

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  • JenW - What about a foldable gymnastic/wrestling type mat? I can see that getting some use beyond yoga in your house. All the kids might not fit on it together, but you could do yoga in two shifts.

  • Kate Ziegler - Have you heard of Moon Mats? They are made out of the material that ear plugs are made of – your kids will probably want to lay on them all day!

    Or maybe this yoga mat DIY x6 (

  • Addie - You could always just use towels for yoga mats

  • Tricia H - Get a couple of mats and do the yoga in shifts. It will give you time to work with different kids on school work. And yoga is mostly a quiet practice which helps to keep the noise down for others who are working/studying. (I know it’s not as much fun as doing it all together and laughing. But it’s a way to keep costs down and help with your problem of being pulled in multiple directions with so many grade levels!)

  • Kristen - My kids LOVE Cosmic Yoga (YouTube channel) and we don’t use a mat for it, just do it on the carpeted part of the house.The “instructor” tells a story, incorporating yoga moves along the way. Great for the younger ones.

  • Stacy Hutchens - My kids do Cosmic Kids Yoga just on the bare wood floor in our living room. Nobody has ever complained.

  • Debbie C - I like the suggestion of doing it in shifts. Also, maybe just throw a quilt or thick blanket over the rug for a little cushion.

  • Shira - What about using those exercise mats that are interlocking squares? I believe they’re the same type of foam, or at least same support (if not more), and they interlock/break up, so you could make them one large mat or smaller individual as needed. The bonus – this is what sold me on it for us, which was for a different purpose altogether – is that you can break it up and use the square to make forts, cubes, etc./other imaginative play. We have one of these:, and absolutely love it. I don’t know your kids’ sizes, but my guess is that one of these is big enough for 2-3 kids, or 1 adult and 1 kid, unless you need a lot of space. Can link multiples together in different ways. anyway, not shilling for them, and plenty of other companies/versions, but works well for us. I like that I can quickly break it or “fold” it over if I need to put it away.

  • Romy MacGibbon - I’m doing my ROMWOD session everyday. You should check it out. It is a mobility / stretching 14/15 minutes session that helps with Crossfit movements. Win for you, and win for the kids. You can do it on a carpet, no need of yoga mats!

  • Katie Thomassen - Hate to be the “one”, but I highly recommend yoga mats. Towels are slippery and when trying to concentrate on not falling over, the last thing you want is your mat working against you. Kinda like doing yoga in socks on the kitchen floor. Yoga mats can be inexpensive and roll up quite nicely. I keep mine in a vintage shopping basket (think the kind grandma used to cart her groceries home in) They can also be shoved under a bed or stored in a clothes hamper. I find them all the time at my local thrift store, just disinfect and go! Plus, I think that each kid having their own mat might make it a little more personal for them. As for your hopes of future accolades…we still give my mom a hard time for her “granola phase” when she seriously thought she could trick us with carob chips. Good luck with that.;-)

  • Seamingly Sarah - I love me some yoga! My two girls have copied me doing it when they were baby/toddlers. But now they just know it’s time to leave mommy alone so she can have some yoga time. My youngest asked to do some yoga so I found an Anna/Elsa one where the lady does yoga poses while telling the story of Frozen. She liked it so much that she just stood still so she could concentrate on listening to the story!

  • Blanton - This is great. me and my little man practice out meditation, breathing, and yoga each day and it has really improved his ability to calm himself and focus, which is a big deal for a three year old!

  • Byron Henderson - Yoga mats are a great idea and, as I recall, your main room would do a solid job as a yoga studio.

    If you really want to have fun, try hot yoga! Just crank the thermostat up to 110, let it heat up, and then get into the poses! Take water breaks.

    Order more Ginsu Yoga Mats from Amazon! Or don’t. (We’re considering making those our new “pain threshold testing devices” for Boo-fet).

    On a more serious note, I did yoga for years and it will definitely be good for you and the kids. And it’s fun!

  • Tara - These photos are so much fun!

  • Amber - I also vote for Cosmic Kids yoga. I appreciate the playlists (shorter, longer, peaceful or high energy routines).

    I got everyone their own mat. That way the kids don’t pile on top of me while they exercise and they feel a sense of ownership. I roll up the mats and keep them under the IKEA lack coffee table in our living room. They are visible but neatly stored and serve as an exercise reminder. I could also stash the mats behind the couch if needed.

    Have fun!

Yesterday I posted this image on Instagram with the caption: “What is it like to homeschool 5 grades?”…you know the ball inside a pinball machine…most days it feels like that. Lots of bouncing around and not knowing what lights will start flashing or where I’ll get stuck. The route is unpredictable, but the start and finish are always in the same spot – on my knees praying for patience, grace, and wisdom wrapped in contagious joy.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe days are full and I rarely have a moment to sit and think, which means when I finally lay down I start thinking. Thinking and sleeping are not a good combo. I am CONFIDENT so many of you can relate.

The day ends, but your mind is just beginning. I have tried every possible sleep remedy – yes, that includes all the oil concoctions. My sleep troubles are not related to diet, exercise, or health. I know mine stem from a mind that just starts going when my body stops and I can’t get all the tabs in my brain to shut down (even with notepads by my bed and all the other tricks out there).

One night I was searching Amazon for sleeping aids (not the kind you ingest) and came across an Acupressure mat. It had great reviews, cost $20, and was supposed to help with muscle relaxation too (aka handy after daily Crossfit workouts). I decided it was worth a try and made my strangest Amazon Prime purchase to date.
10-16acupressuremat-2It hurts. I call it my torture mat. You are supposed to begin with a thin shirt and work your way up to using it on bare skin. The first few times I tried it, I lasted about 2 minutes. The picture of my arm is from about 15 seconds.10-16acupressuremat-3Eventually I worked up to using it the recommended 30 minutes on bare skin. It works. I fall asleep so quickly after I use it and it does cause me to completely relax. Here is my theory on why it works – it is so painful at first that all you can think about is that it hurts…so your mind is empty of everything else. You can’t move at all on it, you have to be still and breath, which in turn is pretty relaxing.

Those spikes of pain are not for everyone, but if you are looking for a natural (can I call it natural?) way to help you fall asleep and all the oils are doing nothing…let me recommend a torture mat. You can even get a pillow too.
10-16acupressuremat-5This blog is so random! I’ve used this for a few months now and it has really helped me, so I thought there might be one of you that could benefit from it too. Once you get past the initial pain…you might just like it too!

SIDENOTE: There is a random ad box popping up on my blog under the most recent post. That is NOT AN AD I APPROVED – please do not click on it. We are working to figure out the cause. Sorry you have to see it too!

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  • Heather - I can totally relate to your sleep issues! I call it the hamster wheel syndrome…my mental hamster just keeps spinning on his excercise wheel and I can’t get him to hop off. Hmm…may have to try your torture device! Thanks for the funny and random post.

  • JenW - I love the randomness of your blog. Life is random. :) Your torture mat, I just added one to my Amazon cart. The pillow part especially looks amazing for my neck as I have muscle/tension issues there. Now if I can just stop sleeping on my stomach (which is apparently horrible for your neck, but after 39 years is hard to stop doing) I’d be set.

  • Rachel - A dear friend lived with us while attending school to be a massage therapist. She brought a couple of these home. My three year old son became so obsessed that our friend bought him his own for Christmas! Our kids use it to challenge themselves to stand on it! I never thought to use it for its intended purpose! Thanks!

  • Karyn - I have one of these!!!! I never thought of trying it for sleep. I’ll have to do that. You are right — it hurts like crazy at first but then ah……:)

  • Carrie Campbell - However random it feels, I’m so glad you posted it!! I’ve just started weight training for the first time and have started getting severe headaches from neck muscle tension. This (torture) mat looks kind of amazing for that… Might have to try it. Thank you!

  • Katrina Simeck - I have one of these acupressure mats at work – a few minutes of standing on it in the middle of the afternoon is so refreshing!

    And at home, my sensory-seeking 3 yr old really likes it. Standing on it helps him to focus, and seems to calm him.

  • Jenn - It’s almost meditative. Love it!

  • Byron Henderson - Can I just go the cheap route and cut myself with a knife to focus my mind?

  • Shanna - Thank you so much for posting this! My husband has struggled for years with sleep problems and I think we might just have to try this!
    Also, I have read your blog for a few years now and I love it! I started homeschool with my oldest in kindergarten this year and your blog/Instagram are so encouraging to me.

  • Beth - I just had to add a resounding “yes” to this! I started using one of these a few month ago and it has made a HUGE difference in my ability to fall asleep. I was very ill a year ago and I developed insomnia. I tried everything and some things helped a little (magnesium–Natural Calm brand), a bedtime routine, no electronics an hour before bed, etc. but I didn’t notice a big difference until I started using the mat. I do it for 45 minutes right before I go to bed. Also, if you are a migraine sufferer, the mat does help! I haven’t had a bad migraine since I started using this. If I start to get a headache, I lay on the mat and it keeps it in check. I have 2 mats–one that I lay on and a smaller one that I put behind my neck. I know it seems strange, but it does work!

  • AshleyAnn - Beth – I am so happy to hear that it works for migraines too. I have friends who struggle with those, I’ll be recommending it now. Thanks!

  • AshleyAnn - No Byron…that would not help with sleep at all!

  • AshleyAnn - Shanna – I hope it helps him!!

  • AshleyAnn - Carrie – A few people commented on how it helps with headaches…it would be worth a try!

  • CHristin - Thank you so much for sharing!!! I love your humor and wit, too :) I”m buying one right now and passing this on to my sister too. She also has a very hard time falling asleep for the same reason and like you has tried all of those ideas as well and nothing has worked.

  • AshleyAnn - Christin – I hope it works for her…make sure to tell her it does hurt, but eventually the pain isn’t so bad and it is kinda awesome :)

  • Molly - Did yours ship normal? I’ve never seen something with free shipping for Prime members, but “usually ships in 1 to 2 MONTHS” !?! All the colors eligible for Prime say that, except purple, which is “ships in 11 to 13 weeks”! Maybe your promotion ran them out of stock?

  • Southern Gal - Wow. That looks painful! I fall asleep easily, but then wake super early every morning thinking about everything I need to do or rehashing something I wish I had done differently. Wonder if it will help you go back to sleep for an hour or so? 😉

  • Carrie Campbell - @Molly – I noticed that too. I absolutely ordered one yesterday, but had to get the gray one because it was the only one that would ship next week. I looked at options to ship by Friday, but the shipping cost was more than the item. So… I’ll just have to be patient until next week. :) Using one of those heating pad bean bags right now for the headaches and it is helping some.

  • Nichole Gjesdal - You could have used legos for free! ; )

  • Katie Thomassen - (in regards to the Lego idea) LOL!!! I’m still getting one of these, easier to put away.

  • Rena - We’ve had our accupressure mat for a couple of years and we love it!!! I remember it being painful in the beginning but I don’t even notice now. Great purchase!

  • Seamingly Sarah - That is so weird, but I’m glad it worked for you. I find I have “wake up in the middle of the night” trouble from too much caffeine or alcohol. And when it happens I don’t fight it anymore. I get up, eat a snack, read, pray. Eventually I will go back to sleep and tomorrow night will be a better night.

  • Jenn - Thanks for posting about this. I think my husband could actually benefit from this. I need to run it by him of course but I think the running tabs is why he has trouble sleeping at night

  • Juice - I have suffered from insomnia for most of my life. The one thing that has helped me is (believe it or not) podcasts! Specifically Christian podcasts, usually of sermons. It can’t be too entertaining or I’ll stay up to listen. I get all ready for bed, then set the podcast to play for 10 minutes (and turn the phone’s backlight off). More times than not I’m asleep within the 10 minutes, which is amazing. The next night I just restart the podcast, rewinding a little bit so I don’t miss anything. I love going to sleep with solid teaching filling my head. Just thought I’d share…

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I can SO relate to not being able to stop thinking… but I don’t think i’m ready for that mat :) Glad you are getting more sleep.