Thank you. I appreciate all your encouraging comments yesterday. I always tell Chris, “I have no idea why people read my randomness!” It made me smile to read WHY you actually stick around here with me. For those that said you feel like you know me despite never meeting in person – that means so much to me. I hope you feel that way! Thank you.

It had been a year since they were together, but they picked up where they left off. Maybe even a bit closer. After a year of serving on Mercy Ships, last week our friends stayed with us a bit and we soaked up a few days of our families being together. The youngest two of the families were a wonder to watch. What one did, the other did. A year ago only one of them spoke clearly and now they were jabbering up a storm together.


One morning the three of us sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast. They were giggling about random things and I asked if I could share a special story with them. They nodded.

I began my story, being ever sensitive to their age and understanding.

Five years ago this summer they were born. One in China. One in Oklahoma. We were not matched with our daughter until she was 8 months old, but deep inside when I held my friend’s newborn, I knew I had a daughter the same age.  I told them about how I would rock one with tears streaming down my cheeks thinking of the other. For 14 months I watched one grow. I would pay close attention to her milestones and wonder about my daughter. In some strange way getting to watch my friend’s daughter grow eased a bit of the pain of missing out on those milestones with my own daughter. It was oddly comforting getting to have a visual reminder of the changes my daughter might be going through too. Bittersweet.

I shared with the girls how God comforted me when I was missing one by letting me hold the other. I told them how wonderfully created they each are and how special it is for me to see them together.

I poured my heart out and tried not to cry. When I finished, I smiled and waited for their response.

They looked at me, smiled and ran off to go play.

Evidently, the story isn’t quite so meaningful yet 😉

I am so thankful for their friendship and thankful when my pain felt like an ocean I was drowning in God used an unexpected way to comfort me. I’m thankful for a friend that let me cry over her baby and didn’t try to ‘fix’ my pain, but walked through it with me instead. I’m thankful for two little girls that giggle and run off to play.




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  • ranee - Ashley,
    Your blog is probably my very favorite not because you’re the most popular blogger ever, but because you are real and share from your heart. I do feel like I know you (even though I don’t actually) and so appreciate not just your cute projects, camera tips, and adorable home, but the way you love your family and share your faith in what you write. I just read yesterday’s post and thought…this is why I like her. Thanks for blogging and staying true to who you are as you do it. :)

  • Kim B - I can just see this being one of those stories they will ask you to recite every time they are together and as they grow they will come to understand it more and more. What a beautiful reminder of Gods love and plans.

  • Carrie - Thank you for always sharing your heart. I remember when my daughter turned one and she was still in China. She was born on Christmas. I was a brand new momma wanting to hold her child. I cried. A lot. Thank you for your words. They speak my heart.

  • Ryan - This is such a sweet post, Ashley.

    On a sidenote: can we talk about how your daughter constantly looks like she just walked out of the salon? Best hair ever.

  • Romina MacGibbon - I still remember the day I came across your blog many years ago. It’s been more or less 6 years. I remember staying up late that night reading from newer to old post “catching up”. Ever since that day I come here daily to check on you and your family. I still love this blog as I did in the beginning. I love everything about it, and you inspire me so much, I believe it might be in things you don’t even know, like… I’ve been going to crossfit for one year already, getting up so so sooooo early and I think about you when I can’t do MU. Even my husband has joined, and my 2 year old comes along on saturdays. It is icing in my cake too. I dream of roadtripping with my daughter like you do with your group, I dream about having a table under a tree and a simple life, I would also love to have grandparents and build a coop with him. And I also wish you were my friend and I could sip tea with you while watching the kids play.

  • Autumn - So Sweet

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Last year, when I was pregnant with Mary Alice, Riley started talking about when he was in my tummy. I took a deep breath, ready for a huge conversation, and said, “oh honey, you weren’t in my tummy. You were in Aunt Emily’s tummy.” I was ready for hours of conversation. He said, “oh, OK.” And ran off to play. It’s amazing how they process information when they are loved and safe. So trusting.

  • Allison - beautiful!

  • Kelsey - Oh my gosh! I had the exact experience! My friend’s daughter is less than a week younger than my daughter. We found out about our daughter when she was 3 months old, but her birth mom wanted to breastfeed until she was 6 months, so for three months I had a daughter in my heart that I couldn’t hold yet (and was afraid I would never be able to hold if her birth mom changed her mind!). I cherished holding my friend’s little girl, imagining what mine would feel like in my arms, praying for my daughter-to-be. And now I love watching them play together and grow up together. I have a special affection for my friend’s daughter because of how God used her to connect to my little girl when I couldn’t be her mommy yet. Loved reading your story and hearing mine in it!

  • Emily Bartnikowski - That is an amazing story. What a wonderful gift to have such friendships in your life. Thank you for sharing.

    (also – I don’t like to type very much on my phone, but your instagram about 9:03 was so timely. My mom works in the library where the shootings in Dallas happened on July 7. By the grace of God she was in Florida and NOT in the library, so she is safe, but it was a crime scene until yesterday and today she returned. It was 9:03 in Dallas this morning. Thank you for sharing that, it meant so much.)

  • Jenny B. - Beautiful, Ashley. You just get right to the heart. I think that is what I love most about your writing. I don’t think I could have ever put into words the emotions you’ve described in this short post. You give clarity to murky things. It is most certainly a gift. Thank you for sharing it. <3

  • Kim B. - What a beautiful, beautiful story. What a blessing God gave you through your friend and her daughter. Love the reunion now.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Meaghan - I love this story – as I really do all of yours. Thanks so much for sharing with us and being open and honest. This one really speaks to me now.

  • Kara M - This is wonderful! I held my friends’ kids so tightly while waiting for my son. We just passed our year mark for when we met our son. That week, I would sit in his room late at night, holding him. I said, “can I tell you a story?” With bright eyes, he would say “YAH!” I told him stories that he couldn’t possibly understand at 2 years of age, but he would smile and even touch my face. Sweet kids!!

Yesterday, I was looking at old blog posts and putting a few favorites on my blog Pinterest board. The last one I read was about where I want to build my name. Here is an excerpt:

“I don’t have a desire to build a name for myself in the blogging world…The one place I do want to build a name for myself, so to speak, is inside the walls of my home…. among the 5 people I share it with. I’ve got 4 little ones calling me “Mommy”…that is a name I want to work on building. If anyone thinks I am awesome…I want it to be my family.  I’ll take their construction paper flowers with jedi lightsabers over any online ranking. I want to rank high with them. I’ve only got a handful of years to do this role right. I don’t get a second chance. When they graduate, I won’t be given an option for a ‘do-over’. This go-around is all I got.  When the day closes…and computers are shutting down…they are the ones wrapping little arms around my neck and giving me ‘one more’ kiss goodnight.”

I wrote that post 5 years ago. It is wild to think I’ve been blogging for over 8 years now and I still feel the exact same way. The people I want to ‘rank’ high among are those in my daily life – the ones wrapping their arms around me and my imperfections each night.

After reading that old post, I logged into the admin area of this blog to check comments and found the one below. I have since deleted it (to protect the person who left it):

“I use to look forward to your “daily” blog. What happened? There is no set pattern, sometimes it’s daily, sometime it goes days in between postings, are you trying to stop this blog? If you don’t want to do it daily anymore, why not set up regular time i.e. Twice weekly, once a week, just something on a regular basis, please. It is very disappointing to check and find nothing there. Thank for listening.”

I understand where she is coming from. I do. I am sure many of you feel the same way she does. There is a beautiful community here and I get that it is disappointing to stop by and find nothing new. For years, I posted daily. For years, so many of you welcomed me to be a part of your morning routine. I am so humbled and grateful for that. I hope you continue to stick around, even when I am not as reliable to you as I once was.

My blog continues to change as much as the paint color in my living room changes. If this blog looked like it did 8 years ago or even 2 years ago – that would make me sad. It would mean either I didn’t change or I was blogging according to how others wanted me to blog. I’m a different person. My daily life looks different. This blog will look different.

Everyday I will disappoint someone – a hard reality to accept. I could pretend that it is possible to please everyone, but in the end it would be a disaster in so many ways – for me and others.  The question for me is not if I will disappoint, but who I will disappoint.

I am a full time mom. I homeschool 5 kids. I run an online business. I have zero scheduled work hours. I don’t have a housekeeper or nanny. Each day I have to choose where I spend my time. I absolutely do not want to stop blogging. However, if an intended blog post has not been written and bedtime rolls around and a kiddo wants me to lay by his side – I’m going to choose to not write that blog post.

If I schedule myself an hour in the afternoon to get a post written for the next day and a friend stops by – I’m going to sip coffee and listen to that friend instead of stick with my to-do list.

You all have been so supportive of me over the years. I, in no way, like or want to disappoint any of you. However, there are times I chose to disappoint others here in order to not disappoint those who my time is so limited with. I hope you understand.

For those wanting a schedule here, my aim is to still post 3-5 times a week. I loosely aim at posting M-W-F, but sometimes I have something for T & Th. My goal last week was M-W-F, but Thursday night I stayed up around a campfire with friends I have not seen in over a year. I listened to their hearts and shared mine. I let the planned blog post slide and it was the very best decision. It is an honor to cultivate an online community here, but I don’t want to cultivate online what I am not first cultivating face-to-face.


Thank you for sticking with me all these years as this blog grows and changes along with me. I hope you’ll continue to show me grace and hang around for the years to come!

Since I am not posting regularly on a schedule, here are some ways to be notified when I do post:


Feedburner (email notification)

I do post almost daily on Instagram @underthesycamore





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  • Beth - I am so glad you are choosing everyday life first. I love reading your posts but I would not want you to ever sacrifice real life for that.

  • Christi {Jealous Hands} - I have enjoyed reading your blog for several years, and I still enjoy it when you’re able to post. I don’t feel like you owe me anything… I feel privileged that you continue to share. You are making the very best decisions. xo

  • Nikki - I agree with Beth. Yay for everyday life first. Your blog is fantastic. It really doesn’t matter if you don’t share regularly because when you do share it is always thoughtful, fun & real.I’d take that any day over scheduled posts.
    Thanks for a great blog!

  • Dawn Ritchie - I totally agree with your post and the other comments. Life is too short to spend your time doing something you don’t want to. I know you want to blog, but it’s not as if you can be in 3 places at once. Wouldn’t that be something? It takes no time for me to click your blog link in my bookmarks, see that there’s a new post and hunker down to read or just go do something else.

    I’m certainly not going to apologize for reading your blog and having to stop midway because my own children need something. 😉 We’ll see you again soon.

  • Rosie Digout - I’m a new reader but absolutely loved reading this post. I totally agree with the other comments. It’s important that we make our personal life our number one priority, especially our family members. We can’t juggle everything at once. Eventually, something will drop and that’s okay. It doesn’t make us any less of a person. Thank you for writing such an honest post.

  • Phyllis at All Things Beautiful - I think I follow you because you have your priorities in the right place. You are real, genuine and sync with my goals. So many who stick to blogging goals have become distant, commercial feeling in their posts. You don’t diappoint me.

  • M - Hi Ashley, greetings from Germany!
    Everything is fine! Don’t worry or stress yourself. I check your blog almost daily but I’m really never disappointed if there is nothing new. However, I would be very disappointed if you stop writing blog posts at all because you feel under presure.

  • Kim B - Continue being you. That’s why I’m here. You inspire me to be more in the moment with my family and capture it with my camera or phone. Thank you for sharing here and encouraging others!

  • Meredith - Out of the eight years you have been blogging I have been around for six of them. Six years ago I read numerous blogs daily, it consumed my lunch hour. Over the years those blogs have faded away, except yours. At this point I don’t even consider this a blog. I feel like it’s just me catching up with what’s going on with your family. I am never disappointed when I get here and there isn’t a new blog post, it keeps you human to me. Many of the blogs that I used to read have died off, become too big, turned into sponsored everything, or lost that familiar feel. I know thousands of people read your blog daily, but I still feel like after all this time it’s just you writing to me about what you and your family have been up to. That feeling has never changed and it’s what keeps me coming back and never feeling disappointed when there isn’t a new post.

  • AnnMarie - I’ve been following your blog now for a few years, since right after you brought Little One home. I don’t comment much, but I always love reading your posts. I love reading it precisely because your posts so clearly reflect your real life, priorities, values, and everyday experience. I read your blog because of that – because, even though I’m not married and don’t have any kids (yet), I hope one day to have a family and a home like yours. Please don’t do anything to jepordize that! We, too, would miss out on so much if you did.

  • Laura - What? You have a life??? Good grief girl you owe us no explanation! I have loved your family since seeing a picture of firecracker in a filed with a cute little banner for her first birthday. My life has changed too, I used to read you everyday that you posted, now I say I haven’t read that blog in a few weeks. I sit down and get caught up. If ever there was a person who knows who she and what she wants, it’s you, that’s refreshing In this world to see that! Keep it up and thanks for letting us peak over your shoulder sometimes, anytime!

  • Beth Ann - This is why I really enjoy reading your blog – your honesty, priorities and the balance in your own life. Keep doing what works for you.

  • Laura J - Live your life, write about it when you get a chance. I am sorry that commenter chose to write. I continue to do this crazy thing with blogs-I stop reading them if they don’t suit me anymore. I have stopped following quite a few because of too much “filler”. Family and friends are always first with you and that is exactly why I do follow you! Good for you.

  • Lexie - I have been reading your blog for years and just recently became a mommy myself in the last year. I originally came for the craft ideas and stayed for the family stories. I always enjoy your heartfelt stories and posts. I follow along on bloglovin and it’s always a joy to see a post from you pop up. It’s never bothered me that it’s not every day and I’ve never even noticed that it’s not always on a set schedule. Put your family and friends first. They are what matters most!

  • Jenn - Oh my goodness Ashley, you owe us nothing! These are busy years and any writing/blogging/photography I get done is a major accomplishment. Take good care of yourself, your family, and your friends.

  • Carol - You are and will always be awesome to me

  • Susan - Ashley,
    You have your priorities right where they need to be. I love your blog, but I love the example of family that you set much more. Never apologize for really living and loving the life that God has given you with your family. And don’t blink! because the time with your children is fleeting and tomorrow is not promised.
    Thank you that you take time to share glimpses of your life with us, whenever it fits in to your schedule.
    Blessings! Susan

  • Rachel De Haven - I enjoy your blog precisely because the importance of family and daily life shine through. It’s amazing to me that with a job and house full of kids you write as often as you do– I can barely even get the laundry done! Thank you for being who you are and doing what you know works for you and your family.

  • Michelle - Please please please do not feel as though you owe us a set schedule. Your family and friends time is priority, and I am grateful that you allow me to see even just a snippet of your life.
    I had a blog last year and it came to the point where it felt like a burden to keep a schedule, and it disrupted not only personal time, but my joy for blogging. It should never have to get to that point. I am happy even if you just post once a week, but please don’t ever stop blogging ( no pressure, haha!), your words of wisdom, kindness and love and so inspiring and motivating.

  • Kathi - AMEN!!!!

  • Jessica - I’ve been a reader for the last five years and you and this blog has been a continual source of encouragement, never a disappointment. Blessings on you. I’m cheering you on from sunny So Cal!

  • Erin - Ashley, you rock! I love seeing the world through your eyes when you share your heart. You’re doing great. You can’t be everything to everyone at all times and its so important to know your priorities!

  • Naama - I love how down to earth and real you are. I realize I don’t really know you but I’ve been reading your blog for the past 3 or 4 years, and I can tell it’s not an act or “for show”. You and your family have become a part of my life and heart all across the world in Israel. Your priorities are perfect – for you. And as long as this is the case I will wait for your post and know that if you are not posting – there is a very good and real reason for that.

  • Rochelle - Thank you for taking the time you do to share your stories with all of them. Your way of approaching the world with grace (for others and yourself) is one of my favorite ways to start the day. I’m grateful you take the time for yourself and those you love to help keep your own fire burning bright. Know that what you do share is a blessing and appreciated!

  • Jenn - thank you thank you for this. i so needed to hear this, this morning. i can be so distracted by other things and the reminder that the years are short and that we don’t get a do over is just what this momma needed.

  • kate - I am just happy to see that there is evidence that Poppy still exists.;) Look forward to the blog whenever and however you choose to deliver it!!!

  • Naomi - Your blog is my favourite one to read and while the lack of a schedule may disappoint some, you’re encouraging the rest of us every time you post! I’m about to become a new mom any day now and your blog has shaped how I want to relate to my kid(s) in the future. Thank-you!

  • SANDRA STEWART - live your life….. you have a beautiful family. post when you want and when time permits. your children will be grown and you will have plenty of time to write and blog enjoy those kids!!!!

  • Johnna LaFaith - This came at the perfect time for me… I can’t tell you what a difference reading your words has meant. I actually made my blog private and walked away… there is so much more to blogging than the surface. I felt really compelled to come back, I felt a void without it.

    Your words hit the spot. xx

  • Margo - Ashley, one of the things that I admire most about you is that you intentionally live in the moment with your family and friends. You look for the lovely in everyday mundane moments and capture it so beautifully. Please continue to be true to who you are even if that means missing posting to your blog. I will continue to follow along.

  • Laura In Sacramento - I am in complete shock as to why someone would even ask that question. I myself don’t understand it at all, but then again, those feelings are hers. It’s your blog girlfriend. I hope you never feel pressured because then I suppose it wouldn’t be fun.

  • Bekah J Decker - I have loved your blog for so long and I still do! You don’t owe anyone any explanation. :) I think you are amazing, it sounds like you have a very busy life and yet you still make time for blogging! You can blog as much or as little as you want, it’s your blog and your life. I absolutely love your instagram too. It’s fun to see little glimpses into your life. You’re doing awesome. No set schedule required. 😉

  • kimberly oyler - proud of you ashley! i love to catch up with your life when you’re able to write a post, and i have something to look forward to when you don’t. :)

  • Amy K. - Keep on posting when you can – it’s like a happy present in my bloglovin’ feed!

  • Christina Chacharon - I used to read your blog every morning with my coffee before I started work. My routine has fallen by the wayside a bit and I can only imagine how much work it must take for you to maintain it all. I love reading this blog no matter how often you post. Keeping doing you and don’t worry about the rest <3

  • Stephanie - Well said Ashley. You don’t owe us anything, and I always consider it an honor to come to your blog and find a new post where you share yourself and your family honestly and with your whole heart. Sometimes I skip a day and don’t check in. I used to read your blog every morning, but my life has changed, gotten busier in the mornings, and sometimes that means I go two or three days before visiting. And that’s okay. Don’t let others (negative) words change how you run your life. It all evens out. Friends (and blog readers) come and go like the tide. As long as you keep being yourself and sharing open and honestly, you will have followers who support and love you. When you don’t post, we’ll miss you, but then we’ll be even more excited when a new post is published. Thank you for being you!

  • Windie D - I don’t mind that your posts are random! I’d rather hear about or see pictures of you living real life once a week than read daily entries that seem to be a stretch or not really you.

    I love this blog… its my absolute favorite. I have loved watching your kiddos group up, and seeing your journey of adoption. I was excited to become a snapshop student, not only to learn more about photography, but also to give back a little!

    Thank you for letting us into your life.
    ~Windie D in Colorado

  • Melissa - Never a true word spoken: “I don’t want to cultivate online what I am not first cultivating face-to-face.”

    You have the right priorities and I am grateful for any post you create. I have been reading your blog for 5 years now and yours is my favorite blog in the universe because you are so completely authentic and your priorities resonate with me.

  • amber - As someone who works alongside many people, many ages & opinions, this is honestly something I struggle deeply with. Disappointing people is hard. When they’re vocal about it, it hurts. But your words are so right on. Pleasing everyone is just not possible, & trying to do things in a way that pleases everyone is unhealthy. Being gentle & kind in disappointment helps, but it’s still so hard. Also, as a mom to four, I completely respect your ability to run this blog, your business & be a part of the blogging community, while still being 100% in your family. You are a treasure to all you bring wisdom to. Thank you!!

  • Rose E. - Even just one negative comment is hard. I work at a college and we recieved many nice comments about the graduation day we planned but there was one mother who called in and complained and said it was horrible. Her complaint just seems to overshadow all the nice ones. I’m not sure where I was going with that. I guess I just wanted to say that it’s okay to feel upset. (And isn’t God wonderful to remind you of something before you even know you need it?! He is good.)

  • Carrie Campbell - Ashley you are such an encouragement. Your blog makes me want to sit down with people I love and drink coffee ‘with two hands’ (I was thinking about that while driving the other day). It’s such a kindness when you share your heart, creativity, or family with us. and of course you need to cultivate those things in private and rest and joy. Thanks for all your years of blogging. :) Thanks for sharing with us whenever you chose to do so.

  • Natalie - You have your priorities right where they need to be, no need for apologies! If you did it any other way you wouldn’t be you and your blog wouldn’t be a joy to read. Keep it up girl!

  • Rebekah - Beautifully written!
    I enjoy your posts…whenever you are able to write, but so glad that you make your family and those in front of you your first priority. Great reminder for us (your readers) as well :)

  • Suzanne - Oh my heart….I love this. After our school year ended (and I was completely exhausted!), I told my husband I was going to learn the word “no” and it was not going to be directed at my children but rather, at those other things that steal time away from my children. I love being a room mom…but now someone else can step up and do a great job. I love being a team mom for both rec and school teams….but I am certain there are others who are just as creative (much more so I am quite certain)who can fill those roles. I have 3 boys, one who will leave for college in just 2 short years. So, your post hit home at just the right moment. It made me feel a sense of peace….I am going to say no more to others so I can say yes more to the ones that matter most. Thank you for each of your blogs – I enjoy getting a surprise when I “check in” with you!!!

  • Moriah - I have been reading your sweet words for years now and there is nothing truer than the words you speak today. We should all concentrate a little more on those we see every day, those who make us moms, friends, wives. etc. and maybe a tiny bit less on social media. I love your blog and your story. I will keep reading as much or as little as you can share. Thank you!

  • Rachelle Prokic - thanks for sharing and always being honest, this is why i enjoy stopping by and reading your blog. i’ll always read :)

  • Gina M - I enjoy reading your blog posts as well. I love the real stories and the real photos of your life that you choose to share. The frequency is not so important to me. I am glad you still post on your blog as often as you do. I do not have any other way to connect as I don’t have any of the other social media accounts.

  • Kate - This post is one of the many reasons I find so much inspiration from your life and blog. Your priorities are right on!! Keep doing what you’re doing and putting the people you love most first!

  • Emily Bartnikowski - I fully support your choices. I am always thrilled when you pop up in my feedly, and I always understand when you don’t. We just went on our first camping trip as a family over the weekend and i used my camera as my only phone. conserving the battery so that I could capture photos over the weekend meant I didn’t do any social media or blog reading or anything and it was so good for my soul. You need to feed your soul, even if it means the internet misses you from time to time <3

  • Tammy - I suspect your commenter is young…. she’ll learn about real life soon enough.

    And we’ll all still be here, thrilled to see your post whenever you catch the time to do so! :o)

  • Kelsey - This post reflects exactly WHY I love your blog. I trust your advice, recommendations and opinions because you have ordered your life well. I love the intentionality of everything you do, the thought and prayer, the respect and sensitivity you always convey toward those who don’t necessarily share your same choices and values. I loved the post in which you shared that you were home schooling and how careful you were to stay out of ridiculous mommy wars. It’s clear that you don’t share your life for validation from others, but that your sharing comes from a place of generosity and self-assurance. I really love that. If I knew you in real life, I’m confident you would be a frequent sounding board for the things I’m processing and decisions I’m making. Your posts always feel peaceful and wise. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  • Debbie Mayfield - My guess the person that made the comment does not have a blog. She probably has no idea of how much time it takes to post on a regular schedule. Some weeks I do great..some I don’t. Real life should always come before blogging. You are doing a great job!!!

  • Andrea - Ashley, I have been a quiet reader to your blog for almost five years now and I am blessed by your admitting that you are choosing the “real life” over the virtual one. I have followed along on your journeys and I love your heart that you share. Letting people down is just part of life and I am glad you still share!

  • Kandi Hall - I just entered the blogging world. I am blogging about over coming everyday. I enjoyed your post and how what’s most important to you is your family. I hope you keep posting because I want to follow you.

  • Emily - This is why I love you so much. I love your heart, your priorities, your gentle spirit. Every post is an inspiration, but especially this one.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh sweet girl. I just love that you let us sit next to you on this beautiful life. It’s an honor to see your world and hear your heart.

  • Valerie - Hi Ashley, it’s your blog and you can do with it as you wish but I just wanted to say thank you for opening your life and heart to us – mostly complete strangers! Your words encourage me. I hope mine encourage you. Be blessed 😀

  • Laura Price - I love your heart. Beautifully written

  • Southern Gal - We all change through the years. Change is good. Your spending time with your littles while they are little (or not so little) is way more important than anything you could write here. I love your heart. Always have which is why I stick around here no matter if you post regularly or not. Thanks for sharing your heart through this blog.

  • TheDenverPack - I’ve been reading your blog for 5 years. I’m so thankful for the randomness and what you choose to share. You have a beautiful world, and I’m thankful you are choosing to be present in it even if it means fewer blog posts.

  • Lisa M. - Beautifully written and very inspirational. I have never thought of it the way you have said here. I love your blog and you have been such an inspiration to me over the years. In fact, I just came across something while I was cleaning my office that I wrote down a couple years ago that you said. There have been so many times a light bulb has turned on inside my head by something you’ve shared. Thank you for sharing your life, ideas and advice with us. We are so blessed to have you in this space. God Bless.

  • Laurie Z - Hi Ashley. I have been reading your blog since you went to get Little One and I love reading about your amazing family. Your words helped me decide to homeschool my 12 year old daughter this past year because she didn’t like how “fake” the girls were at school. Seeing how well it was working for you made me willing to check into it. We completed our first year, despite lots of “negative” opinions about making the switch in middle school, and I about cried at the change in her personality. She became the happy, confident person God made her to be and lost the “moods” that resulted from always trying to “fit in” and be in the “popular” crowd. I truly am not certain if I would have tried without reading about your families experience. I have a son leaving for college in SIXTEEN days. He is moving from Minnesota to Alabama to go to college. I am very excited for him but I have spent the whole summer wondering where the time went. I blinked and he went from being a toddler to being 18! I was very, very fortunate to be a stay at home Mom and I am grateful for that blessing everyday, but I have to say it is making my heart so sad that I won’t get to see him everyday. I know our job as parents is to give them wings, and I am proud of him earning a full scholarship for his grades but I am so sad that this stage of our life is over….I love being around him and having his energy in our house. I know God will help me through this and the pain I will feel driving away from Alabama without him is part of the privilege of getting to be his Mom. I guess what I am trying to say with all this rambling is “Hooray Ashley” for being so aware of what you want your time with your kids to look like. You are right – there are no do overs. I have no regrets about how I spent my time with him….I only wish it didn’t go by SO fast. (The good news is that because I am homeschooling now, we can take our classroom anywhere we want and go visit him!!!) Thanks for all you have taught me about staying focused on what is important. Even though I am further along the path than you, your words seemed to come when I needed a reminder to live in the moment. If I am ever in OK, I am going to see if I can meet you for coffee. I have shared your blog with my true friends and we always say we wish we could be in your daily circle. You are AMAZING and such an inspiration. I will read whenever you have something to say. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to share your heart with all of those who love your family and cheer you on from afar. I think you are awesome. XXO

  • Kathy - Your blog is my favorite! Your post are so encouraging and many time thought provoking. It is a treat to find a post in my email. I figure if days go by and no post, you must be enjoying your family, which is exactly what we should all be doing more of. Thanks and keep doing what your doing.

  • Becky J - Dear sister in Jesus…you go girl! Those babies around your table and that hubby at your side are the priority the Lord has given you! Take it from this “old’ momma whose babies are 24,21 and 17 – it flies by in a BLINK!! This is our last year of homeschooling and I am trying to savor every nano-second! How true that our lives are a vapor-I simply and sincerely thank you for allowing me to share in your life via your blog and the beauty therein! May you feel God’s favor shining on you! :) xo

  • Maclaine - I once had a friend that I had to part ways with because what I had to offer her in our friendship wasn’t enough for her. She had expectations I couldn’t meet because I was choosing my family first.

    I have been reading your blog for years and consider you a friend. While I would LOVE to be able to swing by your house daily for a visit, it’s not going to happen. I am so thankful for the organic way that you choose to share your life with us. You do you and your true friends will be here.

  • Cassi Gail - Ashley,
    I follow your blog because there have been certain posts that you have shared with messages I needed to hear just at the right time. Those messages are the same reason why you can’t blog everyday or even with consistent pattern. I really appreciate your view on the world and it inspires me! I think of every new post as a +1 for the day, and if its not there – oh well. :) Wishing the best for you and your family!

  • Melanie h - Amen to everything you said. Our children are the most important people in our lives that we can influence and guide. Why not do a do our very best at it?

  • Kelly - Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy checking your blog, whether or not there is a new post. It is a breath of fresh air in my day and always encourages me when I am struggling with my boys (even though I only have two!). I saw that you guys were in OKC today and immediately though to myself “Oh my gosh we should totally have them over!!”…..before it dawned on me that I don’t actually know you except for a brief conversation at your darling sister’s garden workshop. That is how friendly and open your blog is and how it makes me feel….as if I have a friend out there in blog land! (And mother-land!). So thanks for your blog, however it fits into your life!

  • Bonnie - I suggest that readers who dislike stopping by to see no updates subscribe to a feed like Bloglovin. If something is new, it’s there! If not, there’s always something else to read. I personally prefer bloggers who only publish content when they really have content, instead of trying to create stuff to please an audience. I hope commenters like the one you mention don’t get you down too much!!!

  • Kingsley - Amen. Ashley, I would much rather read what you are inspired to blog than a scheduled entry you have been guilted into writing. ENJOY your family. ENJOY your friends. Have moments that will nourish and feed your heart and soul….
    When you are inspired and your heart is full, we all benefit :)
    May God bless you and keep you. Xo

  • Emily - Hi, I don’t usually comment, but just wanted to say thanks! I’ve been reading since firecracker was a baby, and your kids are few years ahead of mine (mine are 7,5,3, 7 months). We go to an old church and most of the folks are much older or our age, and we don’t have many in the “just ahead of us” phase. Reading your blog has always been like getting advice from that “just ahead” friend.

  • Ryan - I’m honestly not sure if I could even tell you how long I’ve read your blog now. I remember being a reader and just really loving your posts and DIY updates and photography. And then, one day, you posted a picture of Chris and I was all like, “HEY! HOW DOES SHE KNOW MY FRIEND!?!” Haha.

    I know I’ve lurked around here since long before it was Under the Sycamore (I remember that transition). I remember being thankful when you changed your font from a serif script. :)

    Other than that, it’s been pretty terrific to check in and read your updates. I think that, when you look back in 10 years, you’ll see the blog has gone through seasons just as your life has (and that the two are linked). Even when you post less often, when you do write, it’s something that still connects with me and adds value to my day in some way. I guess I’m saying quality vs. quantity looks good on Under the Sycamore.

    I’m thankful you’ve stuck with it and hope you continue to; I don’t get to run into you and E in hardware stores often enough in real life. :)

  • Krista - I always notice when you’re “absent” from my daily readings. But I just look at your posts as a bonus to my day. If you’re there, you’re there! If you’re not, you’re busy. :) Thanks for letting us peek in on your life and be uplifted by your thoughts and love and example.

  • MC - I simply love your blog, changes and all.

  • Laura - Thank you for sharing. I’m in a place right now where the reminder “relationships first” really helps.

  • Allison - I’ve been reading for the past 4 years and you have always served as a source of inspiration and comradery in the area of motherhood through your photography as well as your service for your family and the kingdom of God and the world. Thanks for putting your thoughts to pictures and words and for helping us all stay a float and figure out what we can offer others.

  • tina - I can’t not tell you how much I love hearing your heart! Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been reading your blog for over 6 years. I now have a 2 year old boy. I know this may sound strange but I look up to you, in an older sister kind of way. I didn’t grow up in a christian home, mum worked full time, so I come to your blog to get little insights into your heart for your children and your family and a little taste of what it looks like to be a mum who’s heart is inspired by God’s love. I haven’t been able to sit down and read your blog for about 6 months and over those 6 months I have caught myself wondering at times, how does she find the time to blog when I can’t find the time to simply read. I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to read your post, please continue to share in whatever rhythm is authentic to your season!

  • Elaine - This is why I love your blog! Your commitment to family and God before work or the online community proves your priorities are in line with physical, emotional & spiritual health; for you and your family. Yours is the very first blog I started reading, 4-5 years ago. I made an excellent choice. I love your rawness, openness, and perspective. Also, love your photography and adventures. You inspire my creativity, challenge me spiritually, and cause reflection/evaluation of my own choices. Plus add joy to my heart! Thank you Ashley!

  • Cynthia - Though I’m a religious follower, I seldom comment, however this one warranted it. Keep doing you! I’ve followed you for years and I’ve never had any issue when you post, I’m just delighted when you do and take pleasure in what you share! I’m glad your focus is where it is and you’ve never lost sight of that! Continued blessings and thank you for sharing! :)

  • Kim B. - Dear Ashley — I’m sorry someone would be so rude and demanding. I am continually amazed and grateful that you continue to blog, with everything you have going on. I enjoy your writing and photography so much, but it’s not something I should EXPECT of you. I’m grateful that for such a long season you’ve shared your talents publicly in this way – and if you ever need to stop, I’ll *still* be grateful for the time that you gave us. Such silliness.

  • Trisha - You can only do what you can do. I respect you for having your priorities in order and will be reading whenever you choose to post. :)

  • Christine - Wholly love and support this mission! The child-raising life is one of choices, and not always simple ones. Just do your best! Love the blog. 😉

  • Clare @ Maybush Studio - I’m a UK blogger and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the craziness around blogging and the chase to get good stats and good rankings and how immensely dull those kind of blogs become with irrelevant collaborations and giveaways. I want to shout out into the blogging noise and tell people to blog less and to only show their good stuff. I stopped by here today because I feel your posts are always worth reading and I’m completely happy to read them whenever they are published.

  • Sarah A - My nice long (probably sappy) comment just got deleted due to an error, but I am another long-time blog reader who is thankful for you whenever and wherever you are able to post. I love your stories about your kids, and Corbett’s post about Guatemala is one of my favorites on the blog. Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us, and thanks to your hubby and kids for sharing theirs too. You have blessed, challenged, and encouraged me tremendously as a mom to a 6yo, 4yo, and 2yo. If I could give you a hug, I totally would! Though I’m an extrovert and you’re an introvert, so I might enjoy that more than you. 😉

  • Haley - Love these words and I love how you always keep true to yourself. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Sarah! I would totally take that hug :) I appreciate your encouragement – we all can use encouragement, right?! Thank you

This is how we started our 4th of July celebrating…a workout at our Crossfit gym with our friends. This photo makes me smile for so many reasons. The simple fact it is all my people doing handstands (or handstand push-ups) makes me grin. My eldest daughter’s need to always pose for a camera, even when upside down will always make me laugh. All of us – together – doing something we all have fun doing.

There are a lot of differences among the 7 of us. Different personalities, different interests, talents, gifts, and preferences. If you told me 3 years ago that the 7 of us would bond over pull-ups, box jumps and squats – I would not have believed you. We will soon begin our 5th year homeschooling. What?! So much for my plan to homeschool 1 year! There were things I expected with homeschooling and things I did not expect. I knew I’d be giving up any time alone. The house would never be empty and I would have to figure out how to educate 5 kids while still running my own business. I knew I’d probably live in a state of being perpetually overwhelmed when I began to think about juggling it all.

There were things I didn’t know. I didn’t realize that though more would be on my plate, our family as a whole would enter a much slower pace. I didn’t know there would be so much down time for the kids. I didn’t know we could travel without the crowds. I didn’t know we would have more flexibility to do things together. I didn’t know that slow mornings would mean we could go workout together and have fun doing it.

Life changes in an instant. Goodness, by the time you read this post everything could change for me. Right now our little family of 7 is healthy, strong and together. I’m going to soak it up. I’m going to laugh when the boys challenge me to rope climbs or when my oldest tells me he is going to beat me at pull-ups. I’m going to take pictures of us. Now. Together. Doing our thing. It can all change, so I am soaking it up.

Turns out I started homeschooling for a couple of reasons, but a million other reasons keep me welcoming that full plate each school year.

Family handstands are just icing on the cake.





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  • Southern Gal - Sweet post.

  • Caroline R - One of the top family pictures for sure. I can’t stop wondering about that empty spot though… Reminds me of another one years ago with an empty chair… ?

  • Heathe - This is a well timed post for me. Tomorrow we move to another city where I will be home schooling my two daughters for the first time. So many changes. Some times it’s overwhelming and I doubt. Then I read your post and remembered there’s so much good to look forward to. Thanks for the unintentional encouragement!

  • AshleyAnn - Caroline – the empty spot is just two siblings that didn’t want their hands touching 😉

  • Caroline R - Too funny! Thanks for clearing that up! ?? You all really do take the best family pics!

  • Hannah - My twins are 2.5 right now and we’re already thinking about school. Homeschool is on my heart. Never was. I always swore I wouldn’t do it, but just felt like I should be open to it. The more open I become, the more I’m feeling like it’s the route for us even though it sounds daunting and scary to me. Reading things like this…it really encourages me to see others’ homeschool stories. Thank you for sharing. <3

  • Melissa - Your fun posts with your group of older kids are such an encouragement to me right now– stuck in a tiny apartment, chasing after a toddler and trying not to die of morning sickness. I (am trying to) love this stage but can’t wait to see the fun that older kids will bring some day! It’s a long ways away, but I constantly go back and forth in my mind about whether I want to homeschool.

  • alissa - Love love this post! I relate so much as my 6th year homeschooling is coming up … Just this week I’ve been thinking about my top reason for schooling and how I didn’t view it this way in the beginning: meaningful relationships with my 4 kiddos. Thanks so much for sharing such encouraging + inspiring words.

  • Jenny B. - I don’t know… maybe that empty spot is a sign that Firecracker’s birthday wish will come true. Ha! Just kidding. 😉 Well… maybe. :) :)

    I am homeschooling our 7-year-old this year (2nd grade). I’m a former elementary school teacher, and we have done University-Model school (where our 11-year-old will continue going), so teaching and doing school at home are not completely foreign things to us, but… I am really nervous! I have anxiety about a lot of things… How will I get it all done? Can I hire a cleaning lady? What if the baby won’t nap? Will I ever just be able to sit and relax? When will I have time to do the lesson planning? Is he going to fight me every day and just ask to play video games all day long? Sigh… I know it is the right decision for him / for us, but man… I’m scared!

    I’m very glad to read that your days have been slower and more joyful than expected. Thank you for your encouraging words. :)

  • Kath - If you ever have the time, I’d love to know more about how home-schooling can make life slow down…? It’s the opposite of what I would’ve thought. Or does it slow down for the youngsters but not for you?

  • Ranee - love this post!

  • Maria Grace - D: I hope Ashley keeps posting when SHE FEELS LIKE IT :) so that this blog continues to be genuine and not forced. And I don’t mind Ashley not having a schedule :). If you find it disappointing though, I suggest you use a blog reader which will then always INFORM you of when Ashley has posted a new message so that you don’t have to keep checking back.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Maria :)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh, Firecracker – you crack me up! Woo hoo!