I have a great teacher

I really like traditions. Some traditions we’ve kept going since our oldest was born. Others we’ve started and then stopped as we learn what works for our family. Each year on Christmas Adam (a SnapShop student taught me that…it is the day before Christmas Eve…Adam comes before Eve). Anyway, on Christmas Adam we all sleep under the Christmas tree. It is the kids’ favorite night of the year. It also requires extra coffee the next morning for Chris and I!

Another favorite tradition is to write out goals/hopes/dreams for the coming year and pack them in our stocking. We write them for each of the kids and as they grow they add to their own lists. When we get out the stockings the coming year, we read over the lists. There are always things that happened and things that didn’t. There are always things that get listed over and over.

12.13tradition-01For next year I listed a bunch of personal stuff and some practical stuff. Work related. Home projects. Boring grown-up stuff that I wanted to get done.

You know what my oldest daughter wanted added to her list?

She added, “I want to sing and dance in the front yard everyday!”

It was like a punch in the gut for me…she knows how to dream big and beautifully. Her biggest hope for the coming year is to sing and dance everyday. She is far wiser than her mom.

I’m a terrible dancer and I can’t carry a tune. I’ve got a lot to learn. Thankfully, I have a great teacher.

Her favorite songs to sing are “the ones we don’t know.” Those are the songs that she’s never heard and no one has ever written. They are the songs she makes up in the moment, usually while she is twirling. Isn’t that a challenging thought for the coming new year…to embrace the songs we don’t know. To not fear the unknown, but to sing and dance as the unknown becomes the known.

Like I said, I have a great teacher.

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  • Becca R - I completely agree, I think our children are the best teachers, especially when it comes to enjoying life to the fullest!

  • MARIE - What a precious post….what a sweet girl!
    Praying she lives her goal this year to the fullest!!!

  • Mona - Ashley, she was in my class yesterday in The Castle and was an absolute delight! I love her goal for the coming year and am going to let it inspire me too 🙂 Wishing your entire family a blessed and joyous 2014!!

  • Dawn - We started this tradition 3 years ago, after I first read your post about it. Thank you for the idea! I love her perspective – wise girl. :).

  • Crystal Prychidko - How wonderful!!! Love the tradition and love your daughters beautiful attitude towards life. She looks so grown up in the picture of her face pointing towards the sun. Beautiful pictures that you can treasure for years!!!

  • Meg - It’s so sweet how our kids can teach us things. Mostly things that we need some teaching on!

  • charla - Beautiful, present, true living!

  • Ashley - Love the idea of Christmas Adam! And where did you get that adorable dress!???!

  • Ilse den Besten - Oh I really love this. I love that you are able to see the beauty in these things. I love that you don’t just brush it off as ‘silly things kids say’ but really think about her words.

  • Tara - Christmas Adam….genious! I love it! We do a similar thing with goals. We each write one thing we want to work on throughout the year as a gift to Jesus and put it in his stocking (his stocking matches ours and hangs in the middle of ours on the mantel.) This year my 4 year old wants to give Jesus the gift of Happiness! She wants to cry less and be happy more. She has sensory issues and tends to cry/meltdown very often, so it was both wonderful and heartwrenching to know that she comprehended the idea of a gift unique to each of us to give to Jesus.

    God Bless

  • jamie ivey - These are great traditions, and I might add the stocking one. what a great idea!

  • ellie - love. i want to be more like your little firecracker 🙂

  • Carrie - brought tears to my eyes…been struggling with some health issues this year, lots of unknown. I am beginning this New Year with your words in my ear, Embrace the songs I don’t know. Don’t fear the unknown, but sing and dance as the unknown becomes known. Thanl you!

  • Kelsey - I think Firecracker and my four year old would be the best of friends. I like to say my daughter has a sound track to her life that she composes as she goes along. 🙂

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - I have always said my kids teach me way more than I teach them! Thanks for a great reminder firecracker, I’m going to add some childlike dreams to my list now!

  • Celena Green - I love this!!! Kids have so much to teach us, if we will let them! Inspiring thoughts here. I’ve been following you for a month or two now and am so glad I did! As a parent, along with encouraging habits of cleanliness and manners, I also want to encourage my daughter, as the person she IS and if that means helping her realize her goal of singing and dancing in the front yard, then so be it! I’m feeling encouraged.

  • Joey - “to embrace the songs we don’t know. To not fear the unknown, but to sing and dance as the unknown becomes the known.”

    A punch in the gut indeed. Looks like we could all learn something from Firecracker.

    Thanks for this beautiful post.

  • Alyssa - These photos are just precious. They brought so much joy to my day. Thank you for the beautiful post!

  • Angela - She is a doll! 🙂 And I love the trees on your property that are shown in these photos. They’re beautiful!

  • Monica Calderin - I remember the days of swinging as high as I could swing and making up songs and singing them really loud! Such beautiful childhood memories. You are a smart mom for capturing them for her to cherish some day!

  • Laura - She is going to rule the world one day! Priceless.

  • Tania @ Run To Radiance - Such a beauty. I love reading stuff like this. My list is all boring and domestic too…boo!

  • Nichole Young - Firecracker is my hero!!

  • Eva - I love her perspective on life. She’s an awesome teacher.

  • Aj Robinson - As my toddler grows I hope and wish for her that she has this same type of desire as Firecracker. I hope and wish for her that I remember to give her that same freedom as you give your children. Thank you for sharing!

  • Jerri-Rae - this just melts my heart…

  • Katy - Such a great tradition to write goals for the upcoming year. And I LOVE your daughters goal! If only we all could dream up big goals like those. A doll 🙂

  • Rosalind - Beautiful thank you! We talked about getting the kids to write down their goals etc but putting them in the stocking to pull out next year, that gold – love it. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  • M - Ashley, that last paragraph hit me hard. Thank you for your words. It is exactly what I needed to hear. You don’t know me and I don’t know you except via blog. I’ve wanted to tell you something for a while, but it’s too personal for comments. If you have time (I’m sure you’re crazy busy though), I would love you to email me so I can reply with a brief story and thanks.

  • Gina :: Listening in the Litany - I’ve seen a lot of goals + resolutions over the last few days but this is by far the best. So precious…yes, you have a great teacher.

  • C Kennedy - Thank you for sharing with us all the wonderfulness that is your family. Your daughter really has an amazing soul,she has a real joyfulness about her, what a blessing. Wishing you and your family a fabulous 2014, and may everything on your wish lists be accomplished and come true.

  • Kelly Gratz - The beauty of this totally made me cry. Thank you so much for sharing!! I pray she never outgrows that!

  • Diana - Love how your daughter thinks! I’d definitely be more on the practical side like you but amazing seeing the insights of a child. =)

  • Joan - Thank you for this gift – yes, embrace the songs we don’t know. I think I will use that for my goal!!!

  • Charity G. - Beautiful!

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - Why do I feel like Firecracker will forever be reminding you of the simple joys of life? She is truly a child who embraces each moment! Thank you for sharing her and all your family with us. Wishing you a song-filled 2014! xo

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh Firecracker! Keep on singing! I’ll be listening for your songs to be carried on the wind to Arizona!

  • Taylor - I totally feel you. My older sister is always the one who needs to remind me to take life less seriously and to be happy with the little things (like singing and dancing). Even though she’s older than me by a few years, I’ve always been the slightly more serious one. I’m glad I have her in my life to remind me to laugh at little things every day.



  • elizabeth H - Children {truly} know how to live each day to the fullest!

    At the end of next year, and the year after, and the yrs to come ~
    our “dancing / singing”
    {{FULLY LIVING}} life
    SHARING the moments
    them is all they’ll remember.

    A beautiful, truth filled gift of encouragement!

  • Dpp 2013 :: December 31st :: Look Up | These Stones - […] I love the simplicity of this End of the Year time capsule found at Playful Learning.  Mariah Bruehl includes simple PDFs you can print and have your kids fill out.  I don’t care to have the job of storing (and later, LOCATING!) multiple time capsules, so I think I will put them in our stockings each year when we pack them away.  Currently, I have a binder for our yearly Christmas letters and figure I could add a little section to save these yearly.  Ashley Ann Campbell at Under the Sycamore does something similar (see here). […]

  • Paige - ? children have the kindest way of telling us that we aren’t as wise as we think! So thankful for little lips that speak from hearts full of beautiful, simple truths ?

  • Paige - ugh, those were hearts, not question marks, haha.

  • Missy - Beautiful!

  • beth - our daughter, like your firecracker, made up songs and danced and sang her way through her entire childhood.

    today at almost 26, she is the most self confident woman i know. she whizzed through high school and college graduating early from both with high honors and today she’s in australia working as an au pair and will travel to south africa for 3 weeks before settling back here in wisconsin.

    i know from experience that you will continue to learn from firecracker everyday!!

  • Kimberlee Jost - When did this girl get so tall?

  • AshleyAnn - Kimberlee – no joke. She’s about to pass her brother!

  • Christina - I can’t believe how much older she looks all the sudden! I love her goal.

  • Laurie - I was randomly reading through old posts and found this one. Someone taught us about Christmas Adam a few years ago, and my family has celebrated ever since!!