we started the day over

Yesterday morning was rough.

Kids got up early and ‘interrupted’ my coveted morning solace ~ cue my selfishness.

We started school and no one was listening to me ~ cue my diminishing patience.

One boy climbing on table. One flicking the other in the forehead ~ cue my growing frustration.

Little One crying because I wouldn’t let her play with scissors ~ cue my stress growing.

I separated them all out and told them to listen to some memory work on cd while I took 2 minutes to get our science project ready. I was gone less than two minutes. When I came back FireCracker had gotten out my ink pad and smeared it all over her and her new dress. I sat down the ‘science project’ (turkey and apples) to go clean her up. When I returned the boys had decided to eat the science project without asking. I was so frustrated. My body language, my expressions, my tone of voice were all clear indicators that I was not happy.

The reality is the morning was more a reflection on me – on what happens when I don’t get enough sleep and let myself get overwhelmed…when I try to do it all in my own strength my fuse is very short. FireCracker was just trying to make a picture and the boys thought it was snack for them.

The kids apologized. I apologized. We started the day over.

I share that because if you only looked at pictures from my day yesterday, you’d think all we do is paint and play with chickens in total harmony. We don’t. When boys are eating science projects and girls are painting their bodies in stamp ink – I’m usually doing damage control instead of taking pictures. Yesterday, after the apologies, I decided to capture moments of our day. It has been a while since I kept my camera out all day and did that. Both SnapShops are starting Sunday, so I wanted to update some of the courses…so I captured moments of our day with my dslr. It was good for me. Photography always helps me see the beauty in my days….even days that begin in frustration and a lack of grace.


Notice Little One’s tousled hair – she had just got whack with a wing and was telling the chicken “no”.





Checking for eggs. It never gets old. Of course, it has only been a month.


I told him to give her some privacy.



Dress number #3 of the day. Thankfully the ink came out of the other one.


Their brothers play football. Obviously. FireCracker can’t wait until next fall so she’ll be old enough to play flag football.


Look at the little hands waiting on the ball to be hiked to him….should have shot this as a vertical so I didn’t crop off her head.


All. The. Time. Yesterday I got hit in the face with both the football and the arrow. I need a football helmet for self protection.


When the Arctic Cat isn’t charged, she’ll climb in the back and wait for one of her brothers to come push her around the yard.


Parenting is hard. Some days are harder than others. I am learning more and more how I really set the tone in my home. The saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”….so true. Sometimes I need to take a ‘time-out’ and calm down. I want my home to be full of joy, life, grace, patience, and fun. I want to be a mom full of those things and set that tone in my family. And maybe I’ll just avoid using edible materials for future science projects….

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  • Lyn - Thank you, Ashley! Well said and what has been happening in our home lately. I am trying to” adjust” me and my needs so that I can keep things happy and healthy in our home and through our day. It’s ok to have a bad day, I am learning because it helps my boys to learn to adjust and that they can change the day as can I.

    Looking to adjust our day today to accommidate the rough night we had. Learning we can do that too.

  • Southern Gal - The real world. I love when bloggers open their hearts and admit it’s not all sunshine and roses every single day. I have had more of those type of days than I’d like to admit. Sometimes it’s easier to post the sweet stuff. It takes guts to post the hard stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tessa - Thank you for this post! Being home with the kids all day is such a blessing…but it can be tough. Very tough some days. Which almost always falls back on me and the tone I set. It is refreshing for you to post that your days can be the same. As a reader, it’s easy to think your days are perfect with your perfectly behaved children that never fight or misbehave, and your perfect cool mom approach to all things. It really, really helps to see that everyone struggles with parenting and has days they have to stop, breathe, and make the decision to start the day over. I seriously needed this. Thank you.

  • Rachel Kaylynn - Thank-you for sharing these thoughts! We (I) are having a rough week – kids not sleeping well and lots of unplanned messes. I too have realized I set the tone for my family. It’s a heavy weight! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who finds it difficult to carry sometimes.

  • Jill - Thanks for the honest post. Your oldest reminds me of my son with the look on his face when he is concentrating. Strong souls. Do what you can to recharge, regroup and keep moving forward. I think it’s healthy for kids to see parents reach their limits. And as always, your pictures are beautiful 🙂

  • Emily Remmick - Check out Conscious Discipline when you get a chance. Our school just started using it and it has changed my life. It really explains the brain and our reactions to things and how the only person we can change is ourself. It has seven main skills to teach ourself and children (empathy, composure, etc).

  • C. Jane - I was just reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and couldn’t help but see the obvious parallel:

    “The parent must always self-parent first, self-preach before child-teach, because who can bring peace unless they’ve held their own peace? Christ incarnated in the parent is the only hope of incarnating Christ in the child.” (pg 124.)

    As a young newish mom, I truly love your example of trying to parent in a Christ-worthy manner. Thanks for being real. 🙂


  • ra - yesterday afternoon my big kids were helping me make supper-pouring spices and such. baby brother had a poop explosion and needed to be cleaned up…i leave the room and return to salt ALL OVER the table and floor = i can totally relate and loved this post today. thanks. 🙂

  • Sue - I laughed out loud about the boys eating the science project. I know it was not funny at the time but it is priceless. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

  • Jess Z. - Their dresses are cute…my favorite picture is the one with the 3 boys holding the chickens…we all have days like this. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • natalie - ashley, you are just so awesome. thanks for this. even if i’m not a mama, i still sometimes need a good ol’ fashioned time out from how i respond to the things around me. hugs.

  • Heather - Litte One’s haircut is adorable!

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for sharing!

  • Monica - Thank you for sharing! Sometimes we need to hear that everybody has difficulty but it is good to hear how to face them. Your capture of moments are beautiful . I love little girls dresses, where you get them? Thank you. Have a wonderful day.

  • Renee - Hey! You mentioned ‘memory work.’ What homeschool curriculum do you use??

  • amber - So, so right. It’s hard being mom sometimes. Especially when your time gets interrupted. I work on laying down my selfishness everyday. And ask the Lord, when in the world will I ever get it right?! So is the gloriousness of motherhood…you think you are trying to make them people who do great things for God, but the reality is, it has just as much to do with making me into that as well. It’s awesomely hard. Thanks for your honesty… 🙂

  • Stephanie - Ash this was SO SO good! I have felt the Holy Spirit so convicting me lately of my actions and the lack of patience, vision, love and joy that they have exhibited. I feel the gentle reminder that though homeschool is hard most days, stealing away coveted time alone, God is calling me to depend solely on Him. And the sacrifice is great, but will be worth little if I daily surrender to my flesh and explode over simple childish foolishness. Thanks for this encouragement sweet friend. It was much needed today.

  • sarah k - Ah…thank you so much for sharing this. It was a breath of fresh air into my morning. I feel like I need to start my days all over again, several times a day. My mornings usually feature an angry, irrational, over-tired three-year-old who screams in the stroller while we walk my oldest to school (because she no longer likes the dress she picked out the night before). My afternoons involve me trying to homeschool while it feels like no one is listening to me. My patience has been thin on the ground this week. I know I need more sleep (and so does my daughter–we’re trying!). Maybe I also need to take more pictures. I think that taking photos helps me, too, to breathe deeper and see the beauty in the days.

  • Jenni - I needed to hear this today:). Thank you:)

  • christine - dear ashley:
    thank you thank you thank you for this post. it is so refreshing when someone posts about the real-self instead of the shiny-perfect-self. it’s hard & vulnerable, but i (& certainly others of your readers!) appreciate it so much.
    yesterday my son (who is being “staggered” into kindergarten) & i did not have a good day. started over. & over. & over.
    i don’t post often, but i read your blog every day, & you are an inspiration to me. this post just makes that better.
    bless you for your words & your honesty, & bless you in your day-to-day & your starting-overs.

  • Laura J. - Some days are harder than others aren’t they? This would have been a great time for a ‘time-out’. I used to go into the bathroom and lock the door for 2 minutes. Deep breaths/a quick prayer/splashing some cold water on my face=a calmer mom! Often, when I was in there, my son would shove a note under the door with a pencil so I could write back! Parenting is hard and no one is always a perfect parent. Thank you for sharing real life.

  • c - we had your same day yesterday minus the chickens and science. why is it that the camera helps shed a different light? it did the same for me here, and i’m thankful.

  • Tiffany - Love your concluding line– no more edible science projects, lol! 🙂 Thank you for the reminder that we moms always have the option of giving ourselves a time-out and starting over for the day.~ 🙂 (P.S. I keep looking for an updated photo on the first page of your site– any plans for a new one {with five sets of little feet}? Just curious.~)

  • Nicole C - This reminds me of something a friend of mine is doing lately. She is calling it #30daysofreal. She posts a different, honest comment about life every day. For instance, she is a hair stylist and said she had time in between clinets to go home and snuggle her babies, but she chose to go to Target instead {alone}.

    It’s just the reality, that everything isn’t always cotton candy and rainbows.

    I appreciate your honesty.

  • Erica - Thanks for keeping it real. 😉

  • Seamingly Sarah - Amen! Been there and continue to do it many days. I’ve been reading “1,000 Gifts” and it’s speaking to my heart how I reflect to everyone else in my life. I’m glad I’m not the only one who loses it from time to time though. =)

  • Paige - Amen, mama! I like how you stop and use your camera for fresh perspective. Good for you for starting over. Sometimes I have to do that multiple times in a day! Your Robin Hood reminds me of my little guy. He is forever shirtless and with a sword. Happy Friday!

  • Abigail Carpenter - This is soooo good and soooo true. Thanks for sharing.

  • kate - thank you for the honesty.. sometimes blogs look like rainbows and sunshine rain down on moms that can and do Everything.. so thank you for keeping it real.. I appreciate the positive happy presence on here but I appreciate the reality just as much..

  • Jen Mac - Thanks for keeping it real Ashley. We had a few days this summer where I called ” a do over”. It is always comforting to know that other Mamas have less than stellar moments too.

  • Shelly Cunningham - You described my EXACT day yesterday. Kids up early, no “me” time, boys not listening during homeschool, grumpy little one feeling left out of school & then a re-start to the day.
    Thankfully our re-start improved our day drastically. But man, you are right on the money– it had nothing to do with the kids and everything to do with me.
    So today I woke up extra early to get my “me” time and cloak myself in patience. Here’s hoping our Fridays are better!!!

  • Amy - Your final thought, about how we set the tone of the house we want to live in, has been a hard lesson for me as well this week. I have two girls, and this week has been spent really trying to watch my own tone of voice, my own frustration, my own actions as I guide them through their days. I can’t tell them to use their words and watch their tone of voice if I can’t hold myself to the same expectation!

  • flor - you are talkin’ right to me girl! i feel like
    i’m like this with my kids all the time. and then I realize
    that it’s mostly my attitude. the kids feed off of me and then it quickly goes downhill from there 🙁 thank you for this post. it’s nice to hear about ‘real life’ stuff from someone else. and seriously, that adorable dress that Firecracker has on is just pretty awesome. you must tell us where it’s from 🙂 xoxo

  • Cory - Thanks for sharing this, Ashley. Parenting can be so difficult & lonely at times. It always helps when others share their lives & hardships. It’s also always a good reminder that so much of my house runs through my attitude & heart.

  • Autumn - Thank you for sharing this today. Sometimes it is so nice to know we are not alone in having these moments. This has been our reality lately with added stress at home, but my heart for how I wish our days would be are just as you said: ” I want my home to be full of joy, life, grace, patience, and fun.” God is slowly working on all of us. You have a beautiful family and a beautiful heart. Thank you for sharing it all through your blog. I am constantly encouraged by you.

  • Jessica P - Great post. This year at home with my teething little one is teaching me this very lesson. My attitude sets the tone. My patience and grace diffuses the situation. It’s hard some days and in those moments when you want to pull your hair out, but God is so faithful to give me peace and reminders (like this post!). 🙂

  • marcy - So needed this Ashley!! Thank you!

  • Jen - Oh my. Thanks so much for sharing!! It is so easy to think that no one else has crazy days. So wonderful to know I am not alone.

  • victoria - Its great to start the day over and end on a high! Gorgeous photos as always..such a beautiful family! I do envy you with the chickens, I will get some one day!

  • Andy - thanks for such an honest post. boy I have those days a lot it seems. trying to parent and love and correct and learning to get to the heart of why they do something. it gets exhausting. glad that day turned around and got better. I love the pic of firecracker holding the chicken and then the one of the boys holing them. privacy that is hilarious. my little girl learned that word over the summer and uses it all the time. she till needs assistance to use the bathroom but she yells all the time that she needs her privacy. I tell her that she doesn’t need privacy from me I am her mommy. 🙂 also I love little ones dress. so cute. love the colors. where is it from. I am assuming you are probably going to get asked that a lot today. really cute. 🙂

  • Victoria - Oh, man. Thank you for this post. I was starting to believe that your days were perfect from start to finish!!! lol. I just had my second baby and even though I don’t know you, I’ve honestly thought to myself, ‘if Ashley Ann can do it with five kids, I can do this parenting thing with “just” two!!’ You are so right about a hard day being more about mom’s attitude than anything else, though. It is so true. When I think back to hard days it’s never just about a child’s attitude or meltdowns. Thanks for this post.

  • Shannon - I’ve never commented before, but I follow your blog regularly. I live in the Tulsa area too and love reading about your adventures in and around Oklahoma. I’ve always wondered how you do it with 5 kids, as I have a difficult time with only 1. So reassuring to read this post. But I still am amazed by your patients. I’m also wondering how you’ve gotten your family to accept the camera so well. When I have mine out and try to take pictures of our days, I feel like everyone groans and tries to avoid me when its in my hand. P.S. Where did you get little one’s dress?

  • RachelC - I couldn’t agree more.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I just put Riley in the highchair with chicken and apples, ranch for the chicken and ketchup for the apples 🙂 and turned on Sesame Street to give myself a time out.

    I am trying to clean the house for mom and dad coming tonight and I’ve had all the help I need.

    Now, tears are streaming down my face and I’m thankful for you. We need to slow down. Love you, Ashley.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Oh how mothering teaches me so much about grace! Not for them- for me! There are some days that fly by in harmony, but lots of days I am clinging to the Lord and thankful for His grace that always is there to give me a second chance in my day. The other day I almost got my oldest to snap a picture of me leaning over helping Buddy with his math while Birdy was SCREAMING in my lap. That girlfriend has some pipes! It was just so comical and typical of our homeschooling days! But honestly- ain’t nobody got time for that! It turned into damage control really quick as Buddy’s frustration was building. Out the door we went, and like magic, we were all better!
    All of us mamas- we are all in this together, aren’t we?

  • Kimberly - It’s so true. When my toddler and infant are being moody, I sometimes take a step back and notice it is MY behavior affecting their attitude, not the other way around. Thank you for sharing your story, Ashley!

  • Jenny L. - Love the football hiking picture! I will never stop marveling at the pictures of little one showing how much progress she has made with the love and attention of you and your beautiful family!

  • Holly R. - Ashley, I really needed to hear this today so thank you for sharing. I have two boys, an almost 4 yo and a 4 mo old. Life is hard sometimes around here too! You inspire me everyday to get out and photograph the beauty around me. Thank you!

  • Emily - I’m so grateful you shared this. It’s nice to know we all get overwhelmed sometimes. I always aim for grace, and when I fall short I just channel Anne Shirley – tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it 😉

  • Marianne L - Sometimes you just have to admit that you’re human. Not always perfect, but trying – and sometimes succeeding – to do better.

  • Carolyn - As always, encouraged by your blog posts! We’ve had a rough time this week too. A deep breath and some time out for me on the back steps was needed.

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - As a homeschooling Mama, I completely understand how it is so frustrating when no one is listening to what you are trying to teach at all and are being easily distracted. My oldest is really bad with that and my younger son gets bored quickly. Somehow we get through each day, but there are some days where I get so angry at the end of it that I don’t know what to do. . .gah!
    Thank God that He has grace on us, and that we too can have grace on our children!
    Beautiful photos!

  • Desiree - Change a few details, and your day sounds like mine, especially how you were feeling. Kudos to you for not blowing your top. It’s hard. I also have been learning to return to the true Healer for my spiritual therapy. Trying to be patient and full of grace on my own always fails. My poor kids see the affects when I don’t turn to the Lord for those things soon enough.

  • JDzJane - I don’t think I ever realized that you homeschool. I’ve been reading your blog for about 3 years or so and never figured that one out! I too school my children at school. I have days like that often. There are days I ask the Lord – why am I doing this again? But even through those days and the many more to come I count it such a Blessing to be able to teach them at home. I would not trade it for anything – even that break that I need every once in a while! You are a great Momma! Sometimes you just have to restart those days.

  • Bonnie - Thank you so much for sharing this!! I have had a rough few days of parenting and have to keep reminding myself to take a step back. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one.

  • Tammy Kay - I love this. The pictures on top of the picnic table are so beautiful. Parenting is hard. Really hard. I had a wise woman on Sunday share with me something….Let me copy and paste it….This morning after church a very wise woman came up to ask me how I was doing. Then the dreaded question came…how are you doing spiritually? Fighting tears, I told the truth. Not very good. I forget to give myself grace and often beat myself up over things like…not reading my Bible or having my devotions. She shared something that was just a balm to my heart. She encouraged me to snack on God’s word. She said that right now I am in a season of life that is hard and that God knows that it isn’t easy. Instead of feeling so defeated when I don’t feast on His word, just take what I can. A small prayer here. A scripture there. And then she reminded me of Susanna Wesley, who birthed nineteen children. I can’t even imagine! But… She used to pull her apron over her head when she prayed and her children knew not to talk with her because she was having her alone time with God. After all, it’s not our time He needs, it’s our heart that He wants.

  • Kristin - We’re starting a program/class called Living Compass at our church. Just filling out the self-assessment made me realize there are changes I need to make to get where I want to be (which is the same place you seem to want to be).

  • Michelle W - Thanks for this post. Perfect reminder for me to not be selfish especially when things are not going as I had imagined/planned.

  • stacey - i have to say i’m super happy to read this. not in the sense of, “i’m happy you had a yuck day,” but in the sense of, “hurray! i’m normal!” i feel like you were in my house and wrote those very words about me. we have those days. or i should say, i have those days. and you’re right. if i would take the time to fix me, everyone would have a lot more fun. thank you for sharing. it’s always so wonderful to hear we’re not alone on the “rough” days. xo stacey

  • Beck - Loved this post! I live a life every different from yours on the other side of the world, yet this rang very true for me. I am a teacher in a remote school with very disadvantaged children. Some days I want to pull my hair out, yet the more I reflect the more I realise that my mood sets the tone of the whole class. School is a haven for these kids and sometimes I need to remind myself that I may be the only person in their lives that tells them they are loved and valued. I am truly inspired by your blog, and your ability share it all, the good and the bad!

  • Paige - Came back to read this again this morning. Yesterday was one of “those days. ” I hesitate to blog about it since I didn’t really recover nicely and I’m not sure i want to document it! But it does give me so much encouragement to read about others hard days and how they don’t define what kind of moms we are. Bravo. Thank you for sharing your family. Maybe I’ll blog about it after all. Thank you Jesus for the lessons in hard days! Have a beautiful Sunday Campbells!

  • kim - It never gets old. I can attest. We’ve had chickens about three years now. And that’s what we ALWAYS tell people. It never gets old. Gorgeous photos as always.

  • Christina - Thank you. I need to be reminded that i’m not alone in these kind of moments. I go through these same scenarios all too often. I didn’t realize how much I needed some time to myself until my son started kindergarten this year. How was I getting by with no quiet time for me?? Just those few hours have helped to center me in so many ways.

  • Rebecca Harrington - So good! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • gHina - beautiful post 🙂

  • elizabeth H - I too, have to start my day over more than i’d like to admit.
    There is an abundance of patience & every good thing;
    Grace upon overflowing Grace to you friend!

    ohh, the kiddos eating Science Projects…

  • Jenny - and this is one the many reasons why I love your blog so much…you’re real and that’s so encouraging and refreshing to the rest of us who are at home doing the same thing!
    I so needed to read this tonight. I have more of these days/moments than I would ever care to admit. It seems to come and go in seasons and it does mostly stem from my own selfishness, lack of sleep…all of those things you listed!
    Oh that my life would show my children the love, grace, and mercy that the Lord shows me. And the joy, oh the JOY; the joy that only comes from the Lord-I want it badly in my life and in my home daily!
    thank you for sharing your heart and being real. 🙂

  • Traci - Thank you, many times over, for posting about your real life. You are very brave, very funny, and dare I say very humble to share so much with a vast Internet full of mixed opinions. Your words express what I want for my family, from my life and with my soul. Sounds pretty heavy, but I can’t tell you enough how buoyant I feel. If we were neighbors I’d make you scones and invite your gang over for some fun and chicken wrangling. Thanks again, I’ll be reading more…

  • Danielle - We have had many days like that. It usually starts with my morning alone time being interrupted. Glad you were able to work it out. Adorable pictures.

  • Toni Smith - The honesty in this post is uplifting and wonderful. Thank you for sharing these bits of your life too!