she requested it

My kids fight.

I loose my cool way too many times a day.

I have to apologize to them.

Sometimes I think I will lose my mind if I see one more Lego on the floor.

There are moments, some days too many of them, that I ponder just locking myself in my closet with a coffee and cookies.

Then there are the other moments.

The ones that I treasure.

The ones that I watch and can’t possibly believe how good I’ve got it.

She wanted her toes painted. She DIDN’T want me to do it. She wanted “her boys” to do it. One volunteered. This boy ~ I am going to have to really watch when he gets a bit older. He loves deeply. He is compassionate. He is bewildered by girls in a cute way. He has a crush on his teacher and takes her random gifts whenever he can. He is a big fan of his little sister and takes me seriously when I tell him to encourage her in all her girly ways…even when he thinks those girly things are weird.

I had to do touch up work with nail polish remover.

Whenever she looks at her toes, she reminds me who painted them.

She’s a funny little girl. Minutes after getting hot pink toes, she found her brother’s beanie and her lego tower. My girl. I cherish that celebrating her girliness and wanting to be just like her big brothers coexists for her. I am super proactive with the boys that they celebrate her differences too. So far, we are doing good most days.

I’m sure it wasn’t long after the precious toe painting moments that a fight broke out in the house. Someone probably started bleeding somewhere or a jedi kick accidentally took out another jedi. These pictures were taken on Saturday. Saturday was a really hard day around here. However, it seems like the most beautifully mundane moments are in the midst of the totally craziness.Β  In those moments, I am reminded how incredibly grateful I am to be exactly where I am…with these kids. I have today with them…..and I hope I have many more toe painting days in the future.

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  • Ally - You have raised beautiful and affectionate children. πŸ™‚ LOVE that shot of her blowing on her freshly painted hot pink toes.

  • Michelle - Beyond Precious! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

  • Celia - I loved reading this…. and always love reading posts like this that spell out the “reality” of other people’s lives and days. I’m due soon with my second and am a stay at home mom. My son is three… and I’m so nervous how it’s all going to go at home all day with the three of us!! I always assume women like you must have it all figured out and find it easy peasy. So encouraging to see that “life” still happens daily!!! πŸ™‚

  • Liz - That is so sweet. It is encouraging to know that you have those moments, too.

  • Life with Kaishon - Oh my good heavens. Your kids could not be any cuter. Seriously. Cute to the max. And then some.

  • Ko - What a wonderful post! A very good reminder to cherish the sweet moments out of the day. I have two little boys close in age so most days I feel like a referee in an ongoing wrestling match! Thank you for the refresher!

  • Julie @ PushingTwigs - This scenario is very familiar to me…but I have two girls and a boy and the boy is the youngest…expecting a THIRD girl in April and it’s going to get even LOUDER around here.

    But when I see my younger girl love on my baby boy (who’s 2) – giving him hugs and kisses, carrying him around (sorta), talking to him like a mommy talks to her baby…that makes up for the loudness.

    And then yes, fights break out again and I’m ready to go hide! Always nice to hear that other moms go through the same thing. Lovely post and pictures πŸ™‚

  • Leila - It’s a gift to be able to see the goodness amidst the chaos. And you do a great job sharing that! God bless you today.

  • kari signe - thank you for sharing posts like these. it is so comforting to see these adorable precious moments and knowing that they are why we keep going as parents. πŸ™‚

  • Pam K - I love it!

  • Molly @ mixedmolly - It’s in the difficult times that the Lord makes us more like Him. I try to remember that amidst the chaos in my life. But I do want to lock myself in my room some days πŸ™‚

  • Shannon8foot6 - There is no place to hide! They will always find you….. πŸ™‚
    Love your honesty!

  • Veronica - This made my morning. Too too cute.

  • Joyfully Weary - Thanks you for sharing :). I waver between being overwhelmed with thanks and wanting to lock myself in the bathroom everyday. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  • Nicole - it is interesting how the greatest moments can come right before or after those moments where I question my patience and whether or not I am really cut out for this job – even though it is my favorite job EVER. loved this post.

  • Lisa - Thank you for this post, there are days that I want to hide from it all and it’s
    good to know Everyone else has the same days because I really do enjoy presious moments and don’t want to miss them growing up.

  • Amanda - Isn’t that just how it is. Those days when you thing you are going to lose your mind, they do something absolutely precious to make you fall in love with them all over again.

  • Alice H - We had a REALLY hard day Saturday too. I lost my cool more than once…make it more than 7 times! I apologized. I also locked myself in my bedroom for about an hour during my youngest son’s nap time. Maybe it is something in the water. Who knows! But I was in bed by 9:15pm on a Saturday night. Ha!

  • Sadie - Wow…she looks sooooo much older in that last pic!! Great photos and I love how they adore her. It’s the most precious thing ever!

  • Wani - I have to cling to those tiny precious moments. I have a five year old with special needs that is still non-verbal. He is getting rather opinionated for someone who doesn’t speak. He has taken to screaming a lot. It makes for rather exhausting days sometimes. But then once in awhile he and his brother play ball or wrestle together and I see the cuteness. I like seeing the cuteness. πŸ˜‰

  • Stacy - This post warms my heart. I adore how you embrace everyday moments and honor who each of your littles are deep inside. Thanks for sharing…just precious.

  • Kimberly - OMG….how cute is that! I have that she is both girly girl and boyish all at the same time. We are going through that with our youngest now but she has an older sister (very tomboy) and big brother. So fun seeing how each child (even tho coming from the same parents) can be so different. BTW…thank you for being so honest with all of us!

  • sarah - lovely post for a Monday! Especially for this momma who had a hard Saturday too! It’s nice to see I’m not the only one who has hard days.

  • Kat - Siblings….can’t live with them can’t live without them πŸ™‚ Gotta love (and remember) the cute moments like these ones to keep sane during the sibling fights πŸ™‚

  • cailan - you are pretty much the best at celebrating the positive. thanks.

  • Jen B. - I love this! So darn sweet. Thanks for sharing! =)

  • Kimber-Leigh - what a precious brother/sister relationship. this post has made me smile this morning!

  • Danica Claridge - That is the cutest thing! Big brothers are amazing and I’m sure they’ll protect her her whole life…whether it embarrasses her at the time or not, she’ll always appreciate it. Thank you for posting. I also have days where I would just like to run away but as soon as I think that one of my boys melts my heart and gives me courage to stay. I’m pretty sure that kids know their survival mechanism is their smile!

  • angie webb - That is one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen.

  • Heather - Thank you for the reminders to enjoy each day, to look for the little things that are truly great.

  • kelly - I love this post with all of my heart.

  • Seamingly Sarah - I lose my cool too often as well! I hate having to apologize, not because I hate admitting I’m wrong, but because it means things went wrong. I want to be a much much much better person than I am. But here’s to God’s promises, each one new and fresh each day, even the one about love is patient, love is kind….God please put those truths close to my heart and my temper far far far away. Let me make the right choice.

  • Sarah - Gosh, that is just the sweetest thing!!! My only sibling is my little brother, who is 5 years younger than me. He idolized me growing up (or so my mother says!) and would often want to do everything I did, including painting his nails and wearing pink hair dye streaks. My mom, being the wonderful and encouraging mother she has always been, allowed him to do those things, even if it was considered “weird” by most. So he’d have blue painted nails with “choo choo tains” on them. Some of my best memories as a kid were the two of us painting our nails in the kitchen together. πŸ™‚

  • Amy - How heartwarming! These are the moments truly! Thanks for sharing! I LOVE IT!! You are one super mom!!! So inspiring!!!

  • Natalie @ TheShadyAcre - What beautiful pictures of a sweet moment! I think that’s one of the best things about having a camera close by–we can document the sweet moments to remind us how wonderful motherhood is when we’re feeling beyond overwhelmed.

  • Carrie - Thanks for the reminder to always look for the beautiful moments even in the chaos!! God always provides those little glimpses of His love for us even when everything seems totally overwhelming. Your family is beautiful, and I so enjoy getting to share your little moments with you!!!

  • annie - Oh my soul. This is priceless. That boy of yours reminds me of my own. He’s almost 2 but I can see these traits in him now. He’s our only one now, but the thought of seeing him love another warms my heart. They are so sweet together. And…I love that she’s girly, but that she can also hang with the boys. IF I were to ever have a girl, that’s how I’d want it. Wonderful reminder there’s always beauty in the midst of the mess.

  • erica - this past saturday was one of our most challenging parenting days yet. it was all we could to laugh instead of cry in frustration. reflecting on those precious moments always puts things in perspective. as you’ve said “this too shall pass”. thanks for your encouraging and candid words!!

  • rachael - I really needed this post today. I have three children who are all under the age of three. This post was a good reminder of just how good I have it. I am truly blessed.

  • carina@a punk, a pumpkin and a peanut - thank you for this sweet post. echoing so many before me, it was timely. i have three boys under the age of 5 and i am blessed every single day. it is all too often i don’t actually take the time to see the blessings in what seems unending chaos, but they’re there!

  • Jenny - Thanks for always being so “real” in your posts. It is comforting in some ways to know that you are not the only one that messes up and loses their cool sometimes. I have to apologize to my children more often than I would like to admit.
    God has also been reminding me lately of how great I have it and how blessed I am and to enjoy every moment with the blessings and people He has placed in front of me right now.
    Beautiful family and beautiful post. πŸ™‚

  • meg@oursomethingnew - This was a beautiful reminder for me (as a future parent) – Helping my kids celebrate and allow for each others differences. Simple idea…but I loved how you put it! Thanks!

  • giozi - Ohh my son in law is a love.
    And the photos of your princess blowing his nails are super cute

  • Darcie - Right there with you. Got angry and apologized to a 3-year old last night for wanting to discipline her out of anger. She was throwing a HUGE fit. But then she says stuff like, “I love you, brother” to her 9-month old baby brother, and then plays with her animals by herself for 20 minutes while I watch. The hardest, and the sweetest job in the WORLD.

  • Darcy - in a non creepy way . . . i just love her!! thank you for “sharing” your kids with us! it makes me smile!

  • Marsha - This is beyond precious, Ashley! As a mom to boys only, thanks for sharing!

  • Julie - I may or may not pull the naughty chair into the pantry, grab my coffee, sit down and shut the doors behind me. With full access to the cookies, and quiet. A lot.

  • Aja - I love everything about this post. Such a sweet moment captured.. loving brother and sister.. real emotion about how hard being a mom is! Also? Makes me want to have a bunch of boys so my girl can have sweet brothers!

  • amanda torres - Growing up with just an older brother, I had many baby dolls thrown around and Barbies’ legs popped off. My brother played super rough with my toys and I would get upset. Having a little girl now in the midst of boys, I’m super sensitive to the boys respecting her likes. So far it has paid off. Her older brother will sit and play babies with her if she asks him. He makes necklaces for her at school and brings them home to her. He tells her she looks pretty every morning. I truly believe little girls NEED positive affirmations from the boys in their family so they have high expectations of how to be treated as adults. I loved seeing the series of pics on the toenails. Very sweet and very sensitive. A perfect demonstration of love.

  • Melissa - SO adorable…I so so so love how she calls them her boys. It’s awesome that she has 3 older brothers to look out for her and paint her nails….brings a smile to my heart, reading this post πŸ™‚

  • Nichole Young - I LOVE Firecracker! That first picture is full of “story”….I can see it on a greeting card πŸ™‚

  • Paige Y - Thank you for your post. Today has been a hard day and I feel horrible sometimes at my lack of patience and outbursts to two sweet girls who get unbelievably ornery occasionally. I love em! I ask for grace daily. πŸ™‚

  • Tawnya Smith - Ashley Ann,
    You truly have a well of joy that runs deeper than whatever circumstance you’re going through. It can only be explained by the grace of God’s work and that is such an awesome testimony! This post articulates a very similary place of where I am – thanks for sharing and relating your heart!

  • Katy Durec - I love your honesty and transparency while still capturing the beautiful moments in a day. I have a 4 and 1 year old, and watch a 2 year old part-time. Today was one of those days where I went back and forth between spilling over with love for them and being super irritated, barking at my oldest because I was frustrated with the youngest, and then having to apologize. It is a reality that I wish we could all be more open about! Thanks for keeping it real. πŸ™‚ Love that special relationship between your daughter and “her boys”. πŸ™‚

  • Lena - This is absolutely precious. My brother and I used to fight ALL the time and now that we’ve gotten older he’s one of my best friends. My mom [often] told us how blessed we were to have each other and all of a sudden, just one day..we realized she was absolutely right.

  • Kristin S - Print.
    Frame/tuck away.

    Sweet perspective, Ashley.

  • hannahm - you’re such a sweet momma, ashley. and thx for the reminder to treasure the mundane!

  • Shirley - πŸ™‚

  • rachel - such cute photos! πŸ™‚ both my girls love to have their toenails painted. πŸ™‚

    my two littles have starting fighting recently. mainly because the littlest one is old enough not to let big sissy boss her around anymore. some days i feel like all i do is say, “stop yelling at your sister!”, “be nice!”, “use kind words!” and on and on and on. us mamas have a hard job! πŸ™‚

  • Trina - When my nieces came to live with us while their parents were deployed, we had many conversations about girls and all their “weirdness”. We don’t have girls so talk about a culture shock for our two boys! But after a week (at most), our boys became “big brothers”. All four became inseparable. Our boys went shopping (I hate shopping). The girls went ice fishing (I don’t understand the appeal of sitting on a big slab of ice in the dead of winter). They cheered each other on at their meets (football, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, baseball, you name it, they played it). When someone would bad-mouth or gossip about one of them…there were 3 others to deal with. When the girls would miss their mom & dad…our sons planned “in a funk parties” (chick flicks, chocolate, popcorn, munchies of all kinds) and all four would sit on the sectional and watch them. When the girls would cry…our sons would give them a hug and tell them they would be okay. When one of my boys had to have surgery…everyone took a different day off of school to sit at the hospital. And when one of the girls injured her ACL during gymnastics practice, it was our boys not the school, who called us to meet them at the hospital.

    It wasn’t always sweetness…they fought. The girls would scream or cry. The boys would shout and slam doors. Sometimes you have to let them work it out. It’s hard, my husband was constantly trying to referee. He doesn’t like conflict.
    I would tell him, “Let it Be, They’ll work it out.”

    When their parents returned and the girls went home, our boys walked around like they lost their best friends and in a way…they did. My brother didn’t understand why the girls would mope around or cry at the drop of a hat. I had to explain to him that for two years our kids were inseparable. Three years later, all of them are in college. They talk on the phone or Skype at least twice a week, and it’s never a superficial conversation. They are still helping each other with their homework. When the girls have a guy problem…they call one of the boys. When one of our boys are thoroughly confused by a girl, they call one of the girls.

    I love that your teaching your sons to honor their sister’s “weirdness”. Having only boys, the only “weird” one in the house is me (and I don’t count as a “giiirrrl”, I’m their mom!) so when the girls came to live with us, it was a perfect lesson on how to honor and respect each other in all our wonderful “weirdness”!

    Thanks for sharing your family (both good and bad) with us!

  • Stephanie Guice - Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Jessica P - She’s a lucky girl. You’ve got great kids!

  • Jenny B. - Oh, I am so with you on wanting to lock yourself in the closet with cookies. And having to apologize. Been there. Multiple times today. Firecracker looks so grown up in that last picture (the one with the beanie). And I love the one where she’s blowing on her freshly painted toes. πŸ™‚

  • Mercedes - Dear Ashley… I lost my cool today… I am pregnant (hormonal and impatient and may I add suffering from sciatica) and raising a 2 year old. She didn’t want to eat all day, and during minor discussion with my husband at lunch I accidentally broke Elmo (her favorite pal) in front of her. She cried and I cried too feeling like the worse mama! I will get Elmo’s eyes and he will be fine… still, I totally hate loosing my cool… so thank you for sharing!

  • Steph - I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now but I’ve never commented. I absolutely love reading about your kids and how you always have a positive outlook on life. I have also loved reading about your adoption journey. It is such a testimony to your patience and faith in Gods timing. As silly as this sounds, I watched cupcake wars tonight and they were celebrating the Chinese new year and stopped to pray for your daughter in china. Anytime I see/hear anything about china, I immediately think of your family and how one of your children is waiting for you there. I can’t wait to see the story unfold! I’ll continue praying for her and you as you continue your journey.

  • BΓ‘rbara Isenberg Grzybowski - sooo cute!!

  • BΓ‘rbara Isenberg Grzybowski - sooo cute!!

  • Jaclyn Bishop - this is by far one of my favorites of your posts. so sweet.

  • Christina - I love getting your posts in my email in the mornings. It just makes my day and I savor every moment of the beautiful photography and dialog. I just have my one son, and that’s probably all I will have (it’s almost more than I can handle most days) but seeing all of the love between you and your children gives me pause to reconsider every post. I think to myself: Maybe we should try for a little girl, at least give my son a full-time sibling (he does have an older half-brother). I was a definitely no to more kids before reading your blog, but I have to say i’m at a maybe these days. πŸ™‚

  • Julie B - My oldest boy paints my youngest girls fingers and toes. They love each other so much. Its the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen and he willingly does it every time she asks. Yay for great big brothers! I should point out that he doesn’t paint the older sisters and they are the ones that squabble, lol! And I hate stepping on Legos too, they are so painful!!!

  • tara pollard pakosta - I have 5 big brothers, so I can relate to how she wants to be like her brothers, yet still be a girl….thankfully I had a big sister, 10 months older than me too, so we could be GIRLY together, but still, I really really admire all of my 5 big brothers, they are my heroes!

  • *laura* - this is so sweet…love it and so well put! xoxo

  • Elizabeth - What words..”In those moments, I am reminded how incredibly grateful I am to be exactly where I am…with these kids. I have today with them…..and I hope I have many more..” I love this last statement! Thanks for touching my heart today!

  • Joy Andrews - So true…it can be easy to look over to other hills and grasses and think where we are is not where we should be, but God knows. He knew, before time began, he knew each of our mundane and spectacular moments and with whom we would share them with. being content and joyful is not overrated πŸ˜‰ thank you for your thoughts and great reminder today.