Almost exactly 3 years ago we transitioned the girls to bunkbeds. The original plan was to paint the beds, then it was to just paint stripes. I ended up simply adding washi tape stripes to the bed because we were in an overwhelming season. Painting the bed was more than I could handle at the time.

The girls have been asking to paint their beds for a couple months. They agreed on painting it ‘blue’, but the exact shade was debated. Instead of going through tons of paint samples, I picked 3 colors of paint and let the girls mix their own. It provided a great teaching moment in regards to teamwork, compromise, valuing another opinion…and color theory.

The girls wanted a light shade a of blue, so we started with 50% white and they slowly added more color until they found a shade they both liked.

My supplies:

I chose the Satin Enamel for this project for several reasons. I’ve worked with DecoArt for years, so when they asked if I would like to try the Satin Enamels…it was an easy yes. Since I was painting bunk beds, I needed durable paint that was non-toxic with a hard finish. It was also important to me that I NOT HAVE to sand the beds. I cannot imagine having to sand them. Nope.

2.16decoart-012.16decoart-03The girls started by pouring 8oz of the white and 8 oz of the True Teal. They added just a bit of the Seaside Blue. Once those were mixed, they decided they needed more white because it was a brighter blue than they had in mind.2.16decoart-042.16decoart-06I told the girls the paint always dries darker, so we did a few test spots on the slats of the bottom bunk. The final mixture was 16oz White, 8oz Teal, 4oz Seaside Blue. I did help them with the mixing a bit because I needed to know the ‘recipe’ if we had to mix more! Once the paint was ready, we began painting.2.16decoart-07My kids always want to help paint. I let them paint alongside me, but with a few things in mind they do not realize.

Here are a few of my tips:

  • Use a drop cloth
  • Let kids have a small cup for their paint and a small brush. Small brushes make less mess!
  • If they are just learning to paint, let them do an area that is hidden
  • I always paint the high traffic and highly visible areas
  • Teach them painting techniques like paint the direction of the wood grain and scrap excess paint off the brush
  • Watch what they are doing and come behind to smooth out globs of paint before it dries
  • Offer encouragement, but also instruction based on age

My eldest daughter has become quite the furniture painter. She’s practiced a lot with me over the years. She would have been happy if I surprised her by painting her bed, but she is so proud of her accomplishment mixing the paint and painting the bed herself. My younger daughter lasted about 10 minutes and she was done. It takes extra time and work to bring kids alongside DIY projects (or anything!), but it builds confidence and gives them practical skills. Totally worth the extra effort and mess.

2.16decoart-09Their room is tiny and the bunks take up almost the whole room, which makes it so difficult to get pictures of the whole bed.2.16decoart-102.16decoart-122.16decoart-132.16decoart-14Now to find my next painting project! You can find our more about DecoArt paints by clicking on the links below. I’ve partnered with DecoArt for several years as a blogger and am always so pleased with their products.


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  • jules - Great color – fabulous job girls!

  • Tiffany - No sanding and no finishing poly/wax – impressive.

  • Debbie C - I need to say “yes” to my daughter more, and worry less about mess and imperfection. Thanks for this. Question…we are looking into bunkbeds for our kids, how do you like the Ikea one? Is it pretty sturdy, holding up to jumping, etc?

  • Laurel Libby - I love the floors in the girls room, what did you use?

  • Seamingly Sarah - Great color blue!

  • Bekah Decker - They picked such a lovely shade of blue! Love it :)

  • Samantha - Would DecoArt work well on a dresser? We picked up a dresser on Craigslist and had plans to sand and paint it, but if I can skip the sanding that would be great. Thank you! ?

  • AshleyAnn - Samantha – the satin enamel has a hard finish, so far it seems very durable…the girls climb all over the bed. It also cleans easily. I like the chalky finish paints too, but they are harder to clean and require some kind of top coat. I’ve been pleased with it.

  • Heather Johnson - I love the color they came up with–pretty much the color I think my girls have been dreaming of! They have also been dreaming of bunk beds–and these Ikea ones have always been at the top of my list because of affordability. It looks like you put it together and then painted it–is that right? Did it take two coats? Were there areas that you did first (like perhaps the bed slats)–or how would you recommend doing it? Sorry for so many questions, I am just really intimidated by projects like this…or I guess I should say I am all in at the beginning and two hours in I don’t want to do it anymore! Maybe if I know exactly what to expect I will hang in there. Did you use the ikea mattresses as well? Thanks for the bedding post after too–I think those will be just the thing for my girls as getting them to make the beds any other way just isn’t happening!

  • Cassandra - Love this! Thanks for sharing I also have a bunkbed I’d like to paint…someday…:-)

  • Ingrid - It’s the perfect shade blue! Well done!

  • Mary-the boondocks blog - I have the same exact bed and I’ve been trying to convince my daughter to let me paint it. I think now that I will show her your bed… in her favorite color no less, I may be able to persuade her. Thanks for the inspiration.

Parents often tell me they could never homeschool because of what is involved as kids get older. Well, the older they get, the easier it gets. At least in this house. Reading has my biggest challenge when it comes to teaching the kids. Every one of my kids has taken to reading in a different way and different age. What worked for one did not work for the next…and on down the line. Part of the challenge of teaching reading, for me, is it requires so much time and focused attention from me. That is a little difficult with 5 kids.

I am a huge advocate for sitting next to a child that is learning to read…letting them read to me and me read to them. Older siblings read to the younger ones too. This spring I noticed my girls needed a bit more help and it needed to be fun. I’m not always the most fun teacher. While I was looking for options to give my girls extra practice, I was contacted by Red Apple Reading to see if I would be interested in writing a review. You bet.

RedAppleReading-01Red Apple Reading is an app and online reading program for children ages 4 to 8. The girls do not do any schoolwork on the computer, so I also like that they are learning basic computer skills. They each have their own login and I can watch their progress.RedAppleReading-02If you are looking for extra ideas, tips and helps regarding reading (or school in general for young kids), I would recommend checking out the Red Apple Reading pinterest page too. So many resources!RedAppleReading-03RedAppleReading-04RedAppleReading-05RedAppleReading-06RedAppleReading-07The first thing they ask to do in the morning is, “Can I do my reading program?” That pretty much sums up my review!

I never commit to positive reviews for companies. I was told that if I wasn’t pleased with the product, my insight would still be valued as a way to improve the product. I truly appreciated and respected that approach. Turns out a positive review couldn’t be easier.

I have to limit how long the girls spend and how many lessons they can do at once. I have seen tremendous strides forward in both girls. I find them reading books, signs, flyers that I had no idea they were ready to read. Their progress and confidence surprises me daily. If you are looking for extra help when it comes to getting young kids reading, I very much recommend giving Red Apple Reading a try.

Now, I just have to figure out how to juggle one computer with 5 kids (and me!) all needing to use it once school starts back up!

For more on Read Apple Reading:

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Until July 15th you can use the code FREEDOM50 for 50% off all memberships. There is also a free 7 day trial.

(edited to add: if you read this after July 15th, be sure to look at the comments below regarding how to find out current specials)





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  • Lauren - Thank you for sharing Ashley. This looks like a wonderful resource. I teach Kindergarten in Canada and look forward to sharing this with parents in the community. The children in my class also enjoy the site Just in case you and the girls want to check it out. :)

  • Seamingly Sarah - I don’t homeschool, but I read once that every parent part time homeschools whether they realize it or not. So during non school hours my kids are big into the Reading Rainbow (also called Skybrary) app on our iPad. Stories they select are read to them or they can read them by themselves. I see it as a boost for all of us as I cannot fill their hungry need for being read to.

  • Laura - Thx for this great resource! I’m currently teaching my 4th child to read and it’s a bit more challenging for me this time. Has anyone heard of or used I’m curious how Red Apple Reading would compare. We used Starfall with my first 3 w great success but my 5yo hasn’t taken to Starfall as much.

  • Brittany Sanchez - Thank you for the resource! We are starting our first year of homeschooling soon and I’m a bit nervous about being the one responsible for teaching my son to read! Do you happen to know how long the discount code is valid?

  • Tammy with RAR - I saw the comments and wanted to add that the FREEDOM50 promo code is good until July 15th. And interested readers can always email us at and ask for current specials to get a discount code. :)

  • Momofthree - Thanks for the recommendation! My oldest pretty much taught herself to read and now is often found in some comfy corner with her nose in a book but my two boys have very different learning styles. They go to public school but I felt that over the summer we needed to do something extra that would help them improve their reading while keeping it fun. After reading your post I poked around looking for more reviews and found a groupon that got me both boys signed up for a year for $32:) They are super excited to get started!

When I suggested she jump off the bench, she told me that Spider-Girl does not jump off low benches and neither do five year olds. The face. The hands. The pose. Cutie.


Five. She starts kindergarten in a few weeks. Considering we homeschool, that is a bit relative. However, she has a new backpack so it is official. She wanted a superhero birthday celebration. Once upon a time, there were superhero costumes coming out of every closet in our house. No one has asked to dress like Spiderman or Superman in a very long time, so we had to borrow a few costumes.

Batgirl and Spider-Girl strike a pose on Spider-Girl’s 5th birthday.7.12five-02Superheroes do not actually like posing for pictures. They prefer action shots.7.12five-03Her birthday fell on a speech day, which was perfect. She got to see one of her very favorite people the morning she turned five. Miss Jennie even arrived as Wonder Woman. Every parent that has had a child in any form of therapy knows what a treasure we have in Jennie. I’m so grateful for her.7.12five-05A few of her favorite foods and favorite people helped her celebrate her big day.7.12five-06This next picture makes me laugh. My niece was actually having a great time, but I think she might have wanted to blow out those candles. Her birthday is around the corner…7.12five-07I can’t believe she is 5. My youngest kid is 5.

She is full of opinions, confidence, and words. So many words. As we got things ready for her birthday, she told me all about her plans for when her brothers move out. She is going to have their room all to herself and she is going to play a lot of basketball. She also has plans for building a house in our backyard and not taking naps. So many words and ideas coming out her cute little self.

I was reading a few old posts last week and came across these words from when she was 3:

“She has a handful of words, similar to what a 1 year old can say. BUT – she understands everything. She is so smart. You can imagine how frustrating it is for her to understand and want to communicate, but to be unable to physically form the words she wants to say. We are doing lots of speech therapy (and signing), but it is still such slow hard road for her. As parents it is hard to watch her have to fight for everything – fight to learn to eat, fight to learn to speak, fight to overcome difficulties from her past. And yet, it is her fight, her tiny warrior spirit that defines her in so many ways.

One day my daughter will speak with clarity and confidence. One day others will not ask me, “What is she saying?” One day she will not cry out in frustration. One day speech therapy will be her past. I firmly believe God has great plans for her, plans that include her voice.

One day I’ll sit at the table with her and we’ll have a long conversation. I’ll hear her thoughts and her dreams and her voice. I’ll hear her.”

Well, she is there. Speaking with clarity and confidence and I am hearing her dreams and voice. Sometimes it is easy to forget where we’ve been. In the midst of long kitchen table conversations about superheros, I forgot I am living the very moments I once dreamed of. I need to read my old posts more often!


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  • Kristin - Thanks for letting me start the day with such a sweet post. You’re right…when we look back, we are sometimes surprised by how far we’ve come. Congrats to you and your mighty Spider-Girl!

  • Erin - Beautiful! What a gift it has been to follow along on your family’s journey-the joy of living comes through in evey post! This post struck a cord-that we need to remember when we are climbing a mountain and the trail is steep, there is a beautiful summit waiting up ahead. Happy Birthday to your girl and thanks for letting all of us share in the your world! God bless!

  • Debbie C - Happy birthday Spider Girl!

  • Tiffany Nelson - Such a good action picture, I vote it gets made into a poster :)

  • Laura J - Happy Birthday from California Spider-Girl!!! You are awesome!

  • Christen - Incredible. I have been following your blog for years and your reflections this morning brought me to tears. I have two little ones and your story inspires me to be the best mom I can be for them. The happiest of Birthdays to Spider Girl! She is an inspiration.
    Tons of love. xo

  • Lauren K - Ashley, this post made me cry! I currently have a little one in speech therapy. It’s so hard to focus on the future and imagine him being able to communicate freely. He gets so frustrated (he’s two) with not being able to tell me what he wants/needs/thinks, just a lot of pointing, signing, and noises of frustration. He’s come so far and I can only hope he’ll get to where your girl is. Happy birthday, Little One.

  • Melanie - I’m so happy for her!
    Please tell her that there’s somebody in Germany cheering for her!

  • Sarah - Thanks for sharing your answered prayers and met milestones. Happy birthday!

  • Nancy Farmer - Happy Birthday to your youngest (formerly Little One). You always put a Song in my heart. I am so happy for your progress.

  • lisa Klupenger - Such a beautiful post! Happy Birthday to this special girl. I am crying with joy at her accomplishments! Such an inspiration

  • Emily Bartnikowski - We are still at the beginning of speech therapy for my 3yr old. Our road isn’t as hard as hers (and yours) is — he has a “simple little articulation delay” but I understand the frustration of having to translate, and the cries from him when he just can’t be understood. What a joy you’ve given me to look forward to – when he has so many words just spilling out of him. Thank you for sharing your stories.

    And a VERY happy Birthday to Little One!

  • ellie - oh i love this so much! bravo to your tiny superhero. i have a 13 year old who could not (dyspraxia – a neurological speech disorder) he had 4x per week speech therapy for years! now he talks & they cut almost all his services this year because i guess if you are on the a/b honor roll you don’t qualify. darn. (NOT!)

    it is so easy to forget where we’ve been!

    happy birthday to your superhero!

  • Kath - What a wonderful post, seems most of your posts bring a tear to my eye for one reason or another. I remember your previous post that you linked to like it was yesterday, wonderful to read how quickly she has progressed and her speech therapist seems like an absolutely amazing woman. The biggest of birthday wishes to your little girl.

  • Seamingly Sarah - I love the flying side kick! Ever since I read “JoJo’s Flying Side Kick” to my girls they have been practicing it everywhere, especially while leaping into the pool!

  • Holly - Ashley:

    Every single time I read your blog I am encouraged. Encouraged to be a better mom, wife and co-worker. Thanks for your fresh inspiration and helpful heart. God shines through you and your encouraging words!

    Holly R.

  • Byron - Just now catching up. And what a wonderful post to catch up to! God bless you all. :)

  • Leslie - This one brought tears to my eyes. What a blessing she is!! Happy birthday to your precious gift. <3

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - This is so wonderful!! I love seeing all of your children growing and how they are changing in time!