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 πŸ˜‰

  • 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. πŸ˜‰ 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!

It is blurry, but still a keeper to me. My girls…and their dirty feet.

BeddysBed-01I took a similar picture almost 3 years ago to the day. Sweet babies.6.24.13-16

Friday I posed the painting portion of the girls’ bunkbeds. They’ve been asking for blue bunkbeds and wanting bedding like their brothers. I think they’ve been jealous of how easy it is for the boys to make their beds compared to all the steps the girls have to do. The boys got Beddy’s bedding when we built their sleeping loft last year. Since last year, I’ve been asked several times if we still like the bedding. The answer is “yes.” The girls and I were all excited to work with Beddy’s again on their room.BeddysBed-02If you are unfamiliar with Beddy’s, they are a bit like a sleeping bag for a mattress…or maybe like a fitted sheet with a top. It fits on the bed like a fitted sheet, but has zippers on both sides that attach a cover with a minky interior. To ‘make’ their beds, the girls just have to zip up the sides! Keeping bunkbeds neat, tidy and pretty is so much easier!BeddysBed-03BeddysBed-05BeddysBed-06BeddysBed-07BeddysBed-09BeddysBed-10We’ve had Beddy’s for a year now in the boys’ room and I am thrilled to have them for the girls. I am sure many of you have some logistical questions, so here some details:

  • How do I wash them? To wash them, I unzip them and wash them one at a time. One fits in my washer and dryer no problem. I do have to go through two dry cycles because it can roll up in a ball in the dryer.
  • How have they held up? They have held up terrifically and still look great. I chose solid colors (gray for the boys, white for the girls), so if they did fade any it wouldn’t be noticeable. I also chose solid, so I could change up their rooms if I wanted to in the future without changing the bedding.
  • Are they truly easy to make? Yep.
  • How hard is it to get on the mattresses? Basically the same as a fitted sheet.
  • Do your kids have special blankets they still want to use? One does. She just tucks it in her bed before she zips it up. Special stuffed animals sit on top. All of my kids really like the soft minky inside cover.
  • Do the kids make their beds now? All but one of my kids. There is a certain boy that has to be reminded…reminded to pull two zippers. Oy.

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  • Amy - I wish I had seen these when getting bedding for my son’s loft and day beds. I love this idea for my own bed also! One question I have and could not find an answer to on the website is if the top “blanket” is sewn to the foot of the bedding. Meaning it unzips on the sides only and is attached at the bottom. Thanks!

  • JenW - How hot are the Beddy’s? My boy is a prolific sweater as he falls asleep. We have a two sided Minky blanket he uses (calls it his “polka dot blanket” :). I’m wondering if the Beddy would be a nice option for his loft bed, while still giving him the soft Minky, AND be a smidge lighter weight.

  • Emily - Try throwing tennis balls in with the bedding when you dry them! Helps keep them from wadding up in a ball and fluffy! That’s how I dry our comforter and down jackets.

  • AshleyAnn - Emily – thank you for that tip!

  • AshleyAnn - Amy – yes, it is sewn on the bottom edge and unzips on the sides

  • AshleyAnn - Jen – I have not slept in one, so I am not super sure. All my kids keep the cover on them, but they also have ceiling fans in their rooms. My one that gets hot at night sometimes kicks off the cover. Sorry…I am not too sure. They aren’t heavy, but the minky fabric definitely warms them up as opposed to a plain sheet.

  • Byron - Boys are not good with zippers. Known fact. Should be known, anyway. This is why we live in gym shorts! πŸ˜‰

  • Kortney - I want one of these for myself and I’m 24 haha. These look awesome!

  • AshleyAnn - Amy – correction! My boys are connected at the bottom. The girls actually can unzip all the way off, which makes washing so much easier. It has been a year since they sent the boys, so it might be a product update.

  • amy - Ashley,

    Thanks for the info and correction. I will double check with them if placing an order.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh your girls. They are so precious.

  • Heidi - That house pillow! Bought? Made? I need more information! It’s precious!

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.