For YEARS and YEARS it was my favorite part of our home. A whole wall covered in every day moments.

In an interview with A Beautiful Mess, I once said, “My favorite feature in this room is a large photo wall over our (fake) mantel. The bottom row starts with a picture of an ultrasound when I was pregnant with our firstborn. Each year I add about 30 pictures to the wall. I reached the top of the wall with the pictures from 2012, so I think I might start moving across the wall next. I love being able to see the last nine years of our family at one glance. In an instant I am reminded how quickly time passes, how babies grow into toddlers and how toddlers become kids. The constant reminders that wall provides helps me keep the perspective that my days are numbered, and I want to live in the fullness of my days. I also treasure being able to look up and see so many memories of my family. The photos are just everyday shots that may not stand out to others, but to me they recount the beauty of days past.”

12.14mpixprints-05The wall was an easy conversation starter when guests would fill our home. It was also the backdrop to so many memories happening in the heart of our home.3.12photowall-013.12photowall-023.12photowall-05Eventually, the pictures started extending across another section of the wall. People would always ask how long I was planning on adding to the wall. I always said, “I don’t know. Until I get tired of it I guess.”12.14mpixprints-06I wasn’t sure if the day would ever come that I would want to change it.

And then a few months ago, I started thinking about taking it down. And I thought more and more about it. They say thoughts bear actions, which proved to be true in this case. I took the photos down. And then the fake mantle and fireplace followed. And a hole got cut out and new plans are being made.3.12photowall-07It doesn’t feel like my living room. There is a part of me that is a tiny bit sad, but mostly I’m ready for the change. I think as my kids grow and the house is increasingly full of my own kids and extra kids all the time…I need blank spaces. Visual calmness in the midst of physical loudness. So…I’ve got a big blank space…and I think I’m going to like it.

Thankfully, I take a ridiculous amount of pictures and I can look back with fondness at my wall through them.

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  • Tiffany - What will you do with the all pictures? That sounds like a fun project. I recently found out the term for blank walls on @centsationalgirls blog, negative space. I’m sure you’re supposed to use it strategically but for me, it’s calming and allows my eyes and brain to take a rest.

  • Angie Webb - The day you posted on Instagram that your photo wall came down I received a text from my sister that said “she took her photo wall down!” haha. I immediately knew she was talking about you. We both love the idea and wanted to replicate it in our homes but neither of us has the right wall space for it. Such a beautiful idea. Good thing for pictures to always remember! Cannot wait to see what you do next!

  • Katie - I loved your photo wall, but I, too, understand the need for a blank slate! We just moved, and having a home with empty walls & boxes stuffed into corners for lack of storage is actually kind of nice. I’m discovering what I actually need on a daily basis, & what things I thought I’d want but don’t even miss at all.

    Blank spaces are Nice. :-)

  • Cathy - I’m excited to see your new plans for the wall! It was a great piece and I’m sure the new one will be just as awesome!

  • kimberly oyler - you know how i feel about change… but i’m excited to see the new plans!

  • Rachel - I think it’s a good time to take down the photo wall since you ended up with somewhat the shape of Oklahoma? It’s like you completed it!

  • Byron - Blank spaces are good; they encourage a quiet mind and silent heart.

    “Ideas of value always shun verbosity, being foreign to confusion and fantasy. Timely silence, then, is precious, for it is nothing less than the mother of the wisest thoughts.”
    –St. Diadochos of Photiki

    “The silence of the heart is not the silence of emptiness or a state of nothingness. The silence of the heart is the sound of fullness. It is silent because no word, no image is sufficient. Only silence can contain the uncontainable.”
    –Fr. Freeman “The Language of Silence”

  • Emily - I can’t wait to see what you put there! Hooray for change!

  • Stephanie - Where can I find that wall paper? Its awesome.

  • sarah - that interview with ABM was when i first found your blog.:) i echo the question about the wallpaper. do you mind sharing where it’s from?

  • Rae - Change is bittersweet; I’m gonna miss that wall as a backdrop to all your beautiful pictures that you post on this blog and instagram!

  • Haley - aw, I loved that wall. I can’t wait to get a house and start a photo wall of our own.

  • Jessica - Oh man, I understand but I was so inspired by that project! I actually did my own recently, in our hallway. Thank you for the inspiration!

A week or so I shared about how my grandpa surprised my daughter with her own red hammer. She had been asking for one to build a house. Red is her favorite color, so her great grandpa painted one of his just for her.

2.16donuts-11A few days later, he came over with a pieces cut out to make a birdhouse. These two are just a bit smitten with each other. Just a bit.

3.12birdhouse-013.12birdhouse-023.12birdhouse-033.12birdhouse-04She decided she wanted her birdhouse to be different shades of pink.3.12birdhouse-05I was pretty excited about her color choices….3.12birdhouse-06…until she changed her mind and wanted to add red and green. There was a small part of me that wanted to tell her we only had pink paint. However, I knew I couldn’t do that. My parents never limited creativity…no matter how odd or ugly they might have thought what Lesley and I chose was. They just let us create. So – thanks mom and dad – her ombre pink birdhouse is not so ombre pink. Just the way she likes it.


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  • Tiffany - Just had to pop in to say these pictures are PRECIOUS!!! Thank you for sharing them. They started my Tuesday with a smile!

  • carol - It just as beautiful as a white room with blue rag rolled texture on it!!

  • Elizabeth - So precious to capture the relationship between these two!

  • Kristina - Just precious!

  • Byron - Awesome job! I bet the birds LOVE it! Well done.

  • Christine - That relationship is a prize! And what a beautiful birdhouse as a result. Those two are very lucky.

  • Lauren - Your grandpa is really the cutest! (Great- and otherwise) grandparents are the best. What a gift.

  • Carrie - The pictures of the two of them are just adorable and so priceless. What a gift!

  • Diana - This whole story is just so charming. Makes me want to go hug my grandpa!

  • Kate - I absolutely love the photo of your great grandpa smiling while holding the red hammer with your daughter. Wow! What love!

  • Kath - No wonder you are such a beautiful person coming from stock like that :)

  • dumna mama - Nice first birdhouse and noble

  • Tessa - Every time I read posts about little special things your grandparents and/or parents do for or with your kids, I make mental notes about how I want to be the same way with my grandkids some day! So much love!

  • Patti - Precious! How blessed to have Grandpa!

  • Carrie Anne - This is such a refreshing post. I got all teary eyed thinking of the wonderful legacy he is leaving, and how well you captured it.

  • Natalie - what a treasure this is. heart bursting.

Corbett turned 12 over the weekend. I took two photos with my phone that pretty much sum up his 12th birthday.

An inch shorter than me. I told him we are going to take this picture again next year. I’ll put my bun on top of my head, but I am guessing it won’t really help me any.

Nerf bullets. I like making holidays and birthdays special, but I am learning ‘special’ does not look the same for everyone. He asked for no decorations…just snacks, nerf bullets and staying up as late as he wanted. He likes things simple, no fluff and nothing elaborate or attention drawing. I totally get that.

This kid-growing-up business is so strange. I really don’t have a better word for it. I don’t want to go back in time and I don’t long for the future. I’m a big fan of just where we are, but then it is weird to look up and realize time has passed and that place I so loved is now in the past. I guess I’ll just keep looking at today – I don’t want to miss any of it.

When we were in Ecuador Mike Varel (@mikevarel) was on the team as the photographer. In those 5 days, he took more pictures of Corbett and I together than I have from the last year. Corbett and I are pretty epic at awkward selfies. I’m so thankful Mike got some of us doing something other than making ridiculous faces.

3.1612-103.1612-033.1612-113.1612-043.1612-123.1612-023.1612-053.1612-01Just simple shots that will remind us both of those moments and all the fun we had together.

He is now counting down the days until his next birthday. I’m going to have a teenager. It is the strangest thing. I couldn’t be more excited.

Happy Birthday Corbett ~ you are pretty epic.

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  • Southern Gal - Happy birthday to Corbett! To have those photos from your trip together is so special. Having someone else’s perspective is refreshing.

    I’m going to have to take that head shot of me and my 14yo since he’s growing by the 1/2 inch every single month!

  • AmyK - That last picture is the reason I read your blog. It reminds me to stop. Enjoy the moment. Thanks! And happy birthday to your almost teenager! ~AK

  • Tiffany - My oldest son turned 20 (TWENTY!!) this weekend, it’s still odd to say. The real life pictures are priceless, Happy Birthday to him and Happy Born Day to you, you became a Mom.

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - Happy birthday to Corbett. How great that you have these memories and photos of days spent with your first born, almost a young man. Hope he got lots of books for his birthday!

  • Shannan Martin - Happy Birthday, Corbett! Calvin misses you EVERY day and has a picture of the 3 Amigos taped by his bed. :)

  • carol - Happy Birthday Corbett and congratulations on beating your Nana in the go cart race. I love you!!

  • Jessie - Happy Birthday C! These photos are amazingly awesome!
    (Side Note: You’re buff, Ash. Like I would give you all of my lunch money Buff)

  • Emily - Happy Birthday Corbett!

  • Byron - This post is just full of awesome. Happy Birthday to Corbett!

    Jessie, you are killing me! Ashley be mighty! LoL! She kicks tail at Crossfit. Just sayin’.

  • Amy - That last picture is beautiful.

  • Laura J - Happy 12th Birthday Corbett! I have a photo of my son and I back to back, but you can see our faces. It was our first photo together where he is a smidge taller than me! I love the picture because he is stretching every part of himself upwards-even his eyebrows are up as high as possible! Now he is 6′ (I am 5’6″) and it felt strange for a long time to have to look up at him. He turns 23 later this week and comes home next week for a quick visit from law school. Your Mom will be able to guess how excited I am. Sometimes I even miss the days of being nailed by nerf bullets. Be ready for busy growing times. I remember that once my son asked me to measure him again. He said, I think I have grown! I had measured him only 4 or 5 days before and told him, people don’t grow that fast! But of course he had grown half an inch!

  • Ashley smith - This is such a helpful post. Our oldest turns 9 this Sat and I just had our youngest a month ago. I remembered that I started following you when your oldest was 9 and he seemed so old to me then! Now we are here at 9 and before I know it we will be having a 12th b-day party. Crazy strange. What a good way you put it.

  • Debbie C - Happy Birthday Corbett! This post made me a little teary, thinking of my own kids getting big one day.

  • Hannah - Posts like this put the amount of time I’ve followed a person’s blog into perspective. This was no exception. I’ve been following since it was just the three boys. Wow. Happy birthday, Corbett!

  • ranee - Such a great post that reminds me to enjoy each stage even though the passing of them sometimes seems a bit sad…you’re right that each one is a gift. And–that last photo of you two is just the best.

  • Cassidy Scott - Happy birthday, Corbett! 12 is a great year – especially if you’ve already got the low-fuss attitude. HAVE FUN! (:

  • Tessa - My oldest just turned 16 and is almost a foot taller than me! I remember those days waiting for him to surpass my height – what fun!

  • Momofthree - Happy birthday! I hope that it was blessed with lots of love and smiles.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Happy Birthday Corbett!