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, β€œWhat 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!


back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • 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 speak.at.all. (dyspraxia – a neurological speech disorder) he had 4x per week speech therapy for years! now he talks all.day.long. & 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!

white stained floors

I was sitting in my living room with a friend talking about how our wood floors needed to be refinished. With 5 kids and lots of their friends running in and out on them, they had taken a beating. I was asking her for advice on a few minor updates I was hoping to do in the living room. She looked at me and said, “You aren’t really going to be happy until your floors are whiter.” And that was all it took…one other person that recognized I wanted white floors and affirmed it! Much appreciated Lori.

Thankfully, Chris is usually supportive of any of my house ideas. He knows I spend the majority of my days in our home and he wants it to be a place that I can express myself, as well as, be a refuge for our family and others.

The original plan was for us to refinish the floors ourselves because that is just how I operate. If there is remote chance I can do it myself, then I am going to do it. Chris, well, he feels the opposite. If it can be hired, we should hire pros. I feel like most DIY people marry another DIY person. That is not the case for us.

For our anniversary, we gave each other the perfect gifts. I got white stained floors and he got professionals to tackle the project. We hired Floors By George. It is a local company owned by Chris’ lifelong friends. When the crew arrived and began sanding, Chris and I both were grinning. Best anniversary presents ever. We are so romantic.

I can’t give you details on HOW we did the floors since we didn’t do them. The white oak floors were sanded and then a white stain was brushed on, then rubbed off. There were 3 coats of an incredibly durable water-based polyurethane finishing it off. Originally, I thought I wanted more white, but I am so happy we did not go any whiter. The wood grain really shows and dirt doesn’t.

6.12floors-01We’ve been talking about updating our floor and door trim. Since we were refinishing the floors, it was a perfect time to start tackling that project too. We did get an estimate from another company to do it for us, but it was SO MUCH more than what could do ourselves.

We spent $140 (we were quoted over $1000). We started with the living room and kitchen. We’ll slowly go through the rest of the house updating trim.

For our trim we used:

  • 1×6 primed mdf boards for baseboards
  • 1×4 primed mdf boards for the door trim (top board has a 1 inch overhang on each side)

It is incredible what a difference updating the trim made to the whole room. I can’t wait to tackle the rest of the house now.

Before & After

6.12floors-026.12floors-056.12floors-06The biggest thing I would hear from others when I mentioned wanting light floors was related to cleaning. I sweep our kitchen/living room a couple times a day. We don’t live in a massive house and basically spend the majority of our days in a 500 sq ft space (the kitchen and living room). The lighter floors have not changed how often I sweep or how dirty our floors look. I am SO THRILLED with them. Our house is brighter and they just make me happy to look at. I can’t say enough good about Floors by George and my new pretty white stained floors!




back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Carol - Your floors are perfect. Floors by George did a great job and also great job on our floors!

  • Ashley - They are BEAUTIFUL!!! And I had to laugh at your comment about most DIYers marrying DIYers… definitely isn’t the case in our home either ha! It took awhile for me to wrap my head around WHY my husband wasn’t as excited about painting walls as I was?!

  • AnnMarie - Your floors look lovely! And I’m impressed that you sweep them several times a day – our house is lucky if it gets swept once a week! (Yes, we’re animals, but we’re four busy personal women sharing a house so I suppose it was inevitable.)

    And the picture of your daughter reading The Name Jar caught my eye – that book is great! I lived for several years in Korea and I love finding books that have any connection to Korea at all, even a tenuous one. And that one has such a good message. :)

  • Debbie C - I LOVE your new floors! Just the right amount of whitening. And wider trim makes such a difference! We are in the process of changing out our trim too, going from 2-inch brown trim to 5-inch white. SO much better!

  • Jenny - I’m a DIY person, and my husband isn’t, so I totally fell you on that one! I think HGTV has messed with our heads. It drives me crazy sometimes, but overall he’s a keeper. And I love your floor!

  • M J Penner - Dear A,
    You ABSOLUTELY NEED a Shop Vac (or equivalent with an extension cord)! It will do a much faster and more thorough job and they are relatively cheap. A simple comparison to what you are doing now is like digging a big hole with a stick instead of a properly sharpened shovel… everyday! Once in a magazine, I think it was “This Old House” they asked, “If your house was burning, what tool would you grab on your way out?” Hands down my shop vac! LOVE IT!
    GBY, MJ

  • Emily - That looks great! I love the thicker trim and the lighter floors!

  • Anna - When I moved into our house with white cabinets, I was sure they’d look dirty all the time. When my husband wanted to buy a white car I felt the same way. But now, oddly, I feel white actually hides dirt pretty well. When it is dirty, it just looks less white. A lot of dirty things really show up more noticeably on dark brown than on light/white. I am still skeptical about a white sofa, however. Love your floors, and the new trim looks amazing! It really does update the whole look of the house!

  • Whitney - Wow! I love this look!! What a great update, what is your trim and wall color?

  • Jenny B. - Yay! They look beautiful, and I love the new door trim. Our floors are a medium/light oak (pergo, though, not real wood), and I think they always look fairly clean, even when they’re really not. My husband’s parents installed dark wood floors in their house, and they show every speck of dust. So, I think light floors are easier to keep clean-looking than dark (unless they are solid white – that might be a pain). πŸ˜‰ Happy belated anniversary! :)

  • Maggie - I love your floors! I would be the one telling you to get white floors too! We are moving to a house with 10″ pine floors and are going to refinish them with white too. I just can’t handle brown floors anymore.

  • Ingrid - SO BEAUTIFUL!! I love it :)

  • Carla - I love how your floors look :) We ripped up carpet and installed vinyl plank flooring last June in a very similar colour to your new floors. Yes, I sweep it a lot but I would anyways with three kids underfoot. It’s actually a fabulous colour to work with as it hides dirt well. It also lightens and brightens our whole space and looks like it is doing the same for you too!! Great choice.

  • Kimberly Dial - Your floors are beautiful!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh, they look amazing! Don’t laugh – I received a Roomba, and I turn it on every time I leave – and it is my new bestest friend. That might help, too :)

  • Diane - Hi Ashley,
    Wondered if you know of a company where I can sponsor (want to use my Etsy income) a hungry child in our country? All of the bloggers I read use Compassion but all of the kids are from other countries. My husband wants the money to stay within the US to help someone? I know you have to be careful about all the funds going to “administrative and advertising” and not to the child, so I want to choose carefully! Thanks! if you know~

  • AshleyAnn - Kate – Laugh?! I’m jealous!

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Kimberly!

  • AshleyAnn - Whitney – it is called Clean and Crisp. Not sure the original brand, I’ve had it mixed so many times. With white walls and trims I have to touch up paint ever so often…with everything being the same color it is much easier!

  • AshleyAnn - Anna – I tried white slipcovers for a time. Needless to say, I do not have those anymore. Even though I could wash them, they always looked dirty to me.

  • AshleyAnn - MJ – Do you have a special attachment? We have shop vac, but it just has a hose. That seems like it would take a while. Fill me in!

  • AshleyAnn - Diane – I do not know of a specific organization. We work with local non-profits and individuals, but I am not aware of a national organization. I am sure there must be one though! I know in my area several churches offer meals on the weekends and summer breaks to children. Sorry I am not much help! Let me know if you find a national organization.

  • Grace - Hi Ashley,
    I absolutely loved the picture of your daughter reading in the chair. The hanging legs, the stripes, the book, the dog, and the white floors! But where did you get the beautiful painting of the flowers?!

  • AshleyAnn - Grace – thank you! It was a gift from my friend Ruth. You can see here work (and purchase prints, canvases, etc) here: http://www.gracelaced.com/


Part of refreshing things around here has been making updates on old posts and transferring DIY posts (and others) to pinterest. On a weekly basis, I get visitors from Pinterest wondering about a couple decoupage pots I made years ago. (original post here).

Since I receive so many questions regarding more specifics on how I made the pots, I thought it was time for an update. The original idea is from Christine Chitnis in 2010. Her post includes a step by step description. I’m including more step-by-step pictures for those of you that are a bit more visual. Be sure to check out Christine’s post!


  • Terra cotta pot – mine was from Hobby Lobby, 50% off
  • Decoupage – also available at Hobby Lobby
  • Fabric – mine was actually part of my eldest daughter’s crib sheet, circa 2009
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush

6.12decoupagepot-02Step 1: Wrap the pot in fabric and cut it with a bit overlapping – a couple extra inches on the top and bottom6.12decoupagepot-03Step 2: cover the pot in decoupage, wrap the fabric around6.12decoupagepot-05Step 3: trim the overlapping side where you can fold it over just a bit6.12decoupagepot-07Step 4: using more decoupage, fold and press down the overlapping section6.12decoupagepot-09Step 5: Trim the bottom and glue it down with decoupage. Make sure you only cover a little bit of the bottom. You want the plant to still be able to drain.6.12decoupagepot-11Step 6: Cover the fabric with decoupage. You want to evenly SOAK all the fabric. I brushed the decoupage on, but then I smoothed the fabric with my hand. Using my hand allows me to press out any air bubbles and really coat the fabric. If the fabric is not coated evenly, you will get air bubbles and it will dry unevenly.6.12decoupagepot-13Step 7: After the bottom and sides dry, trim and glue down the top. I don’t want too much fabric on the inside of the pot, but I also want enough that the bottom of the fabric is just barely covered by dirt.6.12decoupagepot-156.12decoupagepot-17I recommend keeping these pots inside. The decoupage is not waterproof. However, I did use my last set outside and they lasted for several years. Eventually, they faded and just got too dirty. If you decide to use them outside, just know they won’t last as long.6.12decoupagepot-18


back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Katherine Bach - Love it! I may have to try a few of these soon!

  • Lindsey p - You know you’re the mom of older kids when…you are willing to coat your hands in decoupage while one of them (presumably) takes your picture. Literally the first thought i had was that i wouldn’t be able to do this craft without another adult. Ha!

  • Emily - That is super cute! I wonder if the dishwasher-safe mod-podge would help them last longer outside? I may need to test that out :-) Thanks!

  • AshleyAnn - Emily – I bet it will! Great idea :)

  • AshleyAnn - Lindsey – My 6 year old took the pictures! I laughed reading your comment, none of that even crossed my mind! I wasn’t going to include a picture with my hands covered in glue and then she came in and wanted to help.

  • Lyndsay - Ashley! I made some of these for Mother’s Day!!! I’m sometimes on a local tv show doing crafty stuff, and this is one we did for Mother’s Day crafts. The fabric makes the plants look “happier” to me. ha!! http://lyndsayalmeida.com/5-gifts-kids-can-make-mothers-day/

  • Anne Eicher - Love it! My mom used to have one that was decoupaged with little squares (crazy quilt style) of fabric. I always loved it!

  • Anne Eicher - …and by the way, after seeing your coffee mug rack in your hospitality post I searched the Internet for weeks (months?) until I found one at decor steals… I gave it to hubby for father’s day. πŸ˜‰ (ok, I REALLY wanted to buy it but he’s the one that drinks the most coffee and collects mugs everywhere we go!) πŸ˜€

  • Friday Favorites | Cupcakes and Commentary - […] How to pretty up a basic terra cotta planter. […]

  • Dee - Oh my gosh, so cute!! Love the cute floral print you chose…How I miss Hobby Lobby and their 50% off coupons!! Having moved from Tulsa, OK back to England 18 months ago, Hobby Lobby is still the store I pine for!

  • AshleyAnn - Dee – the 50% coupons are my favorite. I never pay full price there…for anything. If it isn’t on sale one week, it will be the next. I would miss it too!