a boy with a plan

Earlier this week we were all in the car. From the very back, I heard my oldest randomly say, “Guys, I’m trying really hard to enjoy all this time with you because in 9 years I’m gonna be leaving. Hard to believe my time with you in halfway over.” I just shook my head and wrote it down really quickly. My heart broke a little, I might have called him a punk. But inside – I knew he was telling the truth. I was the oldest in my family. He and I are a lot a like. A lot.

Part of me feels such sadness at the thought of life without him in my home. Without seeing him everyday. Without him. But the other part of me, knows that is what is supposed to happen. That other part of me is excited about what his future might hold. To see this little boy as a man. It’s kind of the greatest adventure.

His favorite two books right now (activity type books) are one about building a backyard fort and one that teaches all kinds of ‘survival’ type stuff. It might have been wise for me not to buy him these books. My three boys and two of their neighbor friends have been drawing up all kinds of plans for their clubhouse. Right now it includes a porch for reading and a tower to watch for girls. Each day the fort plans get bigger. I told them all plans must be approved by me. When I told all 5 boys it had to be ‘pretty’ on the outside, I was met with an uproar of groans. I’m holding my ground.

Chris had our oldest write down his goals for the clubhouse…a list of “Why Do I Want A Clubhouse”. Here is what he wrote,

  1. A place to get away from my sisters.
  2. A place to make ideas
  3. A place to play games
  4.  A place to rest
  5. A place to hang out
  6. A play to go when I am bored

Evidently he is not enjoying all the times his little sisters invade his space! Every year he gets older, I think I like the new age even more than the last. When he turned 1..then 2…….then 9…each age feeling even more fun. I really like nine. He is developing my sense of sarcasm. Chris doesn’t have a sarcastic bone in his body, so it is fun to have someone else in the house that gets my sense of humor.

I asked him if I could write about him on my blog and instagram. He wasn’t so sure until I told him that people would see what I see – a pretty cool guy. Then I asked him if I could take a new picture of him. He doesn’t mind if I photograph him doing something, but he gets awkward if he is supposed to just stand and look at the camera. I just try to engage him and let him be awkward and goofy…knowing eventually he’ll make himself laugh naturally and then I’ll get my shot. That is exactly what happened. He was feeling uncomfortable in front of the camera and eventually laughed at himself. And I got one of my very favorite photos of him.

Shot with my iPhone 5 standard camera, edited with VSCO Cam

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • jenw - He always seems to be such a purposeful young man! And good looking too! Thank him for allowing you to share him with us. 🙂

  • Caroline - I’m sure he’s gonna attract a lot of girls next time!
    he is so attractive as a 9 year old!

  • RachelC - Dear Oldest: Look at you! So handsome and fun — with an adventurous spirit that just won’t quit and a heart of gold. You are so special to me. I remember racing home from my last law school exam to see you in the hospital when you were born. You were the very first baby I really knew with a mom in my generation. You were the first taste I had of what it would mean for me to someday be a mom….and it was exciting! You are exciting! So, go build the biggest, awesome-est, toughest clubhouse you can create. Here’s a secret — your mom will approve anything you want….just throw her a few extra hugs and kisses (she may appear tough…but she’s mushy inside). I’m glad you let your mom post pictures of you on her blog. It made my day!

  • Mellody - Handsome young man.

  • Nini~ - Time flies by! He is a keeper if he is that aware of all he has and where he’s heading. Great parenting Ashley Ann! I found my relationships with my children deepened and were much more enriched as they grew older, with two grown children who still vacation and spend their free time hanging with their Mom I’d say it will only get better for you and your oldest! At least that is what I wish for you!

  • Kimberly Troth - When I saw what he said on IG, I had tears in my eyes and my world kinda stop of a second. My oldest is nine too. It’s amazing how fast our time with them go. I too am excited to see what life has for her but sad that I’m half way done with her. I think our oldest would get along great. She has plans to build a shed “for her” 🙂

  • Sarah Kristiansen - Yep. I definitely see a cool guy. 🙂

  • theresa - My kids (and brother and nephew) really enjoyed practicing survival skills, and it was fun watching them spend an hour trying to build a squirrel trap). You should pick up for him a copy of Survivorman’s manual (and the shows are pretty fun too – I used to watch with my boy now 21 year old man).

  • Nicolle - Let your oldest know that we are so thankful he allowed you to share his story with us. He is such a handsome young man and you’re right – he’s a pretty cool guy! 🙂

  • Jacci - I didn’t know you got an iPhone 5! I can NOT believe those portraits are with your phone. Whhhhut?! You have some crazy skillz 😉 And I love what you wrote about him. Definitely… very cool guy.

  • Jacob - Oh, and by the way… a pretty fort? C’mon Mom! 😉 How ugly can wood be? lol

  • Kelsey - What an awesome, handsome guy. You make me want to have a son-something I never thought I’d say! I grew up with a sister and was delighted when my oldest was a girl and prayed and prayed that she would have a sister. We adopted our younger daughter in March! And now I find myself day-dreaming about having a son. Especially when I observe other mamas interacting with their boys. It’s funny how something that would have terrified me a few years ago sounds really fun now! Makes me wonder if God’s up to something in my heart. 🙂

  • Renae - My oldest is nine. I can’t even imagine our home without him in it. I have just two boys but they are building a fort this summer with their dad. Because my husband wanted to get it done before the boy in him leaves. I hope he has many summers in his fort and that he always wants to come back to it.

  • Tiffany - There is such a sweet spirit in that statement and in his awareness that time is passing and moments are precious. It seems that he got that, as well as his sarcasm, from you. Thank you for sharing your boy!

  • Lori - Oh, I love it!!! I had a awesome clubhouse!!! It matched my parents’ house exactly. What fun. His goals are so great!!! Very well spoken – He is a chip off the old block, I must say!

  • Dena K. - I have a book recommendation for your oldest… in light of his fort building plans. It’s one of my favorites from childhood. Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burn. You can’t find it locally much but they have it on Amazon on sale right now 🙂 I think he’d love it! Also, sending some healing thoughts/prayers to Little One that she continue to heal from her surgery 🙂

  • Steph - Dear Biggest Brother –
    I think you are cool because you have rock star hair, a great smile, you’ve traveled the world already and seen amazing things and talked to all sorts of people, and because from what your mom shares on here, you and your siblings have charity in your hearts and care about other people. That is a really great quality in a man, or any person. You look so much older than nine years old, your sisters are lucky you are around to look out for them!

    Keep on enjoying your time with your family, you are right – the time will fly by so quickly! Very mature of you to realize.

  • Denise - Our oldest is a boy also, and he has three younger sisters. Pretty much every little thing about today’s post touched my Mama’s heart.

  • Shanalea - So fun, my oldest is 11 and he continuously wants to be moving on to the next and reminding us how mood he is. This is our last year of elementary school and I might be freaking out a little.

  • Hillary - What a handsome young man! Can’t wait to see the clubhouse

  • Victoria - Oh my goodness, do you guys have the Berenstain Bear’s “No Girls Allowed” storybook? It’s hilarious — all about the boys building a clubhouse that no girls are allowed inside! I read it as a child and that’s what I thought of when I read this post. Too funny. Your oldest is adorable and well rounded. Good job, mama!

  • Kristi - I wish our kids could be friends.

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - I have raised 3 boys and loved it… and 9 oh 9 it’s a great age!!!! Those next 9 will come far faster than the 9 you’ve had with him. Hold on, but not too tight… all our work is to give them wings to fly!

  • Emily - I love your posts about your older boys. It calms my heart to think about the future with my own boys (who are still so very young) and helps me become excited about watching them grow into men.

  • Necole @seriouslysassymama - I have a nine year old daughter, and instead of having all three girls share a room so we would have a guest room, we gave her her own space. She is becoming such a big girl it kills me. She is most like her father, tender hearted, and I love that. It will be my job to prepare her for the world.

  • kimberly oyler - the beginning of this post made me laugh so stinking hard. and i’m in an airport, so it was awkward for everyone. thanks for that. 🙂

  • Addie - What a great photo! I’m having those feelings for my 11 yr old son right now! Such a fun age, wanting it to last, but also can’t wait to see what his future holds!

  • Katie S - Unbelievable you took that beautiful photo with your phone. Now I am going to be pining away to take your regular snapshop and your iphone one!!! Your awesome!

  • kelli - What a great picture! He is really growing up!

    One of the things I love most about reading this blog is that you are so good at accepting your kids where they are. I appreciate that so much, and it is a goal I have for myself as a mama. Thanks for your example!

  • Kimberly Dial - What a handsome fellow. Love his smile. He’s gonna break some hearts momma! 😉

  • tracy a - it does seem like just the perfect picture. so stinking handsome…and you were right, pretty darn cool. 🙂

  • Holly - Tears in my eyes reading this! My oldest is 16 and daily I wonder where all the time went! On a separate note, can you tell us a little more about the VSCO Cam app?

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - He is so handsome! What a wonderful strong son you are raising! Don’t you love how each year becomes your favorite?! Love that!

  • Christy - Thanks for this post about your oldest boy. I just have one right now – my son is only 7 months old, but I teared up at the thought of him growing up and leaving me someday. You’re right, it is the greatest adventure. Love your photography too.

  • Andrea - I love this! So very sweet.

  • Amy - He’s beautiful! And seriously, such a cool kid.

  • Kathy - God blessed us with one daughter…now 18 and headed off to college next month…2 hours away. She is ready to fly! So proud of the young lady she is and yet dreading the quiet in the house!!! I do work outside the home and have lots of home projects that I have saved to do until she leaves (painting, crafting, etc). Childhood was a wonderful thing to witness and be a large part of ….teen years as well, just have to learn to navigate being the parents of an adult and looking forward to all it holds.

    Being the youngest of 4, it was tough when the older ones left one by one. It changes your every day life so much and I know that is what is coming when she leaves. ReAdjusting and ReArranging Time!! Love reading your posts. You have a beautiful family!!!

  • Stoich91 - Haha tell him he IS one cool kid with a super cool family!

    PS don’t feel too bad – he isn’t that old yet if he’s still in the icky sisters phase – someday he’ll be even older, see them as the ladies of his land, and want to protect them like their knight in shining armor. YEESH that phase is so much fun…esp. for sisters. jk lol

  • angie webb - he is so handsome

  • Amy @ The Gifted Gabber - Hi! This is my first time to comment, and I only just officially started following your blog tonight after giving my blog a renovation/revival. But I have read quite a few of your posts off of the facebook links. I so enjoy everything single thing!

    As for your son…well, it must be tough being surrounded by all those girls. What a quote!

  • Ellen - First time stopping by your blog. I’ll be coming back! Just wanted to say I am the mother of 9 children; 5 of whom are already grown and gone. Yes, it’s how it’s supposed to be and what we want for our children, but I always feel as if there isn’t quite enough air in our home when one of my kids first leaves the nest.

    Also, a couple of side notes. Our oldest daughter (34) is also Ashley Anne (with an e)! And, I’m an adoptive momma too. We adopted our younger 5 children; 2 African American sons adopted domestically at birth, now 22 and 19. The younger 3 are Haitian and joined our family at 6 months, 23 months and almost 12. They’re now 15, 14 and 13.

    You have a beautiful family and I look forward to reading more!

  • darcy - my 11 year old has a tree fort and totally digs it! he and two neighbor boys planned a three day adventure that revolves around the tree fort! can’t wait to see how it unfolds! starts on wednesday!