ISO 500, 1/60, f/1.8

During the day a hundred things are happening at once in our home. There is always more than one person talking and the only ‘stillness’ in the house was the paint color on the kitchen walls. “Was” because I repainted. So now, there is no stillness in our home, at least during daylight hours.

Then, the sun sets.

The girls fall asleep.

And my guys…they head up to their loft, leave the light on for a bit and laugh.

Some of my very favorite sounds fall down from that little hole in their ceiling.

Their sisters are already talking about when the guys move out and the girls get the loft. I, on the other hand, will be doing my best to walk slowly past their room at night just to soak in the sound of brothers.

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  • Kate B. - This image stopped me in my tracks. And then I read your words…so beautiful as always, Mama. I just want to say thank you for your wonderful posts, which I read every morning with a cup of coffee in hand.

  • Dawn - Love!

  • erin - I love this post! My favorite part of having my boys share a room is listening to them talk and laugh before bed and first thing in the morning. Even if half of what they say involves the word “butt.”

  • Amy - Love it! Love this at our house too. Wonderful!!!

  • Amy@AtMulberryHill - Hi Ashley,
    I have been reading your blog for many months (years?) and don’t remember leaving you a comment before. We have much in common – a love for photography, a deep family connection with those we love, homeschooling, creative juices, and more. I appreciate your space here and all that you share.
    I just had to pop in to say today that your photo is breathtaking and symbolizes so much. I have six boys of my own – one is 22, one 16, and the other four are between 3 and 10. (Seven girls mixed in that bunch, as well. :) Having four boys near the end of the line has revolutionized our formerly calm(er) household. I love all that your boys share and how you treasure that. Boys are so special.

  • Southern Gal - Sweet post.

  • Amy L. - Your photography is poetry for the eyes. I never get tired of it. :)

  • Byron - “Some of my very sounds fall down from that little hole in their ceiling.” –I think you meant “Some of my very FAVORITE sounds…”

    Wonderful image and post, as ever. God bless!

  • Miss yus - Hi! I love to read your posts and lovely photos. And your page is incredibly colorful and beautiful, i just love it! Been following for years now.

  • Rae - That pic, Ashley!! <333 And those words :)

  • Maureen - You took my breath away… again

  • Meg - My boys share a room too and I love their late night pillow talk. :)
    Incredible photo!

  • Jenny B. - Ashley, you are so great at taking joy in the little things that some might overlook or find irritating. It depends on the night here whether I smile or sigh at all the noise coming from our boys’ room. You remind me that it’s better to smile. :)

  • Amy - I love how you said you will “walk slowly past their room.” I blinked and my son, my first baby turned 10. My daughter the one who completed our family is now 6 1/2. I love hearing them talking to each other. And I pray they will stay friends.

Last week the Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced the launch of a new initiative called Oklahoma Fosters. Chris is part of a non-profit, 111Project, that works in Tulsa and Oklahoma City advocating between the government, tribes, and churches with the goal of foster/adoptive family recruitment and support. He has been working tirelessly for weeks on the launch of this new campaign. He is passionate, driven and simply loves what he gets to do.

The kids and I, along with his parents, headed to the Oklahoma Historical Center to be at the official launch. The Governor spoke, as well as, Chris and a few others.
11.15okfos-01Foster families. Kids in the foster system. Birth families. Churches. Senators. State Representatives. Tribes. Businesses. Non-profits. So much diversity and so many groups that don’t always get along…coming together with a goal to make sure our kids are in loving, safe homes. A goal to see foster families waiting for kids, not kids bouncing around between shelters and group homes waiting for foster families.11.15okfos-03In true Ashley form – I found the crowd and then looked for the farthest place from the crowd. Actually, one of my sons found a perfect location for us. We watched from upstairs with the perfect view and room for little legs to spread out.11.15okfos-04And then their dad took the stage. He did awesome. I tend to be critical and always offer him more suggestions for improvement than he would care to hear. Honestly, it was the best I’ve ever heard him. When he finished the next speaker said, “Drop the mic.” So true. Chris got up there, shared from his heart with passion and conviction. It was a drop the mic moment. I was so proud of him.11.15okfos-0511.15okfos-06

I would have just stayed up on that top floor for the rest of the morning, but I have a wonderful extroverted father-in-law. Thankfully, he led us all down to make sure the kids got to meet the Governor. I would have never pushed through the crowd. My crew was pretty excited about this picture, so I am glad my father-in-law made it happen. I am incredibly thankful for my in-laws. They spoil me and the kids…and love us deeply!


The event lasted a little over an hour. Needless to say, my kids were ready to get some energy out and strip off their button down shirts. Heaven forbid they have to wear something other than gym clothes for longer than an hour! We all deserved a reward…them for making it through the morning…and me, I deserved something too.

Enter Cuppies & Joe.11.15okfos-07I had planned on writing a whole post on Cuppies & Joe (it is that good). However, we arrived at a pretty busy time and I was afraid my daughter would eat all my cookies if I took any longer to get pictures. We’ll be going back soon…and I will share more then.Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

After we refueled on coffee, cupcakes and cookies, we headed back to the capitol to explore.11.15okfos-09The dome of the capitol includes paintings by Charles Wilson Banks. Mr. Banks used subjects from his hometown of Miami, OK in his depictions of Oklahoma history. My father-in-law is from Miami and shared with us the stories of some of the faces in the paintings (those used as models). The face of the doctor who delivered Chris’ older brother is in one painting.11.15okfos-1111.15okfos-13While tromping around the capitol, we visited the Senate room. We also stepped into the gallery of the House of Representatives while it was in session.11.15okfos-14My 6 year old daughter could not stop dancing as we walked along the marble hallways. She told me if she lived in that ‘house’, she would dance all day.11.15okfos-16

I joked with a friend that I was totally winning at homeschooling that day. Governor. Capitol. Senate. History. Law. Cupcakes. It was a good day – due in large part that my in-laws tromped around with us while Chris was in meetings. I’m looking forward to digging deeper into Oklahoma history and into state government with the kids before we return again. I’m also looking forward to another coffee and big chocolate chip cookie.

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  • Carrie - This is just so cool. Teared up at the fight and passion for foster care. Love that you guys sat in the ‘balcony seating’. Oldest son is starting to look like a man. Dancing. Cookies. You are winning! :) ( And please give Chris a high five.)

  • Emily - I love see what a powerful support you are to Chris. I love how you encourage him and work together as a team. What a great example he is to the children and to the world! I’d say it was a pretty amazing homeschooling day too. :)

  • Molli Hayes - What a beautiful memory! I homeschool our 4 kids and we will be licensed foster parents at the end of this month:) So encouraging to see great people fighting for good things!

  • amber - This is amazing!! So, so cool!

  • Byron - Never been to the capitol; need to go now. And to the cookie place too (I don’t drink Joe, sorry).

  • Jenny B. - Awesome day!

  • Donzel - I’ve been waiting for this blog post since your instagram pictures!!! This is just amazing, and so heartwarming, and exactly what every state needs. Please tell Chris a big Thank You from Idaho.

  • Debbie C - This is such an awesome moment for the state but also your family! What a fantastic day it must have been. Thank you, Chris, for keeping up the fight for so many kids in need.

  • Margaret - This is so very cool! How fun to let your whole family be a part of something you guys are so passionate about!

  • kimberly oyler - uhhhhh can i please come next time?? i need some cuppies and jo in my life asap.

  • Michele - Thankful for you and all of your family!

  • Tiffany - Your husband is wearing a big genuine smile, warms my heart to know there is still light amid all the darkness. Keep fighting!

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I was by myself Sunday with the kids. There are things I know to do…like always make sure no one needs to go to the bathroom before we get in the car. It doesn’t matter if it is only a 5 minute trip – always do the bathroom stop. I forgot. We had a 15 minute drive home from a church we were visiting (Chris was speaking on foster care). About 2.5 minutes into the drive, someone had to go to the bathroom.

There was no way we were going to make it home. Ugh. I tell myself, “I can do hard things,” many times a day. However, having to stop with 5 kids for a bathroom break…it nearly does me in.

So, I did what any reasonably sane mom would do…we stopped at Krispy Kreme. Bathrooms and lunch in one stop.

I sat at a table eating my sugar goodness and looked over at my crew watching the donuts being made. I surprised myself – out at a ‘restaurant’ (can I it that?) by myself with all 5…and I wasn’t stressed out.

I remembered when I had two kids and the LAST thing I would do was willingly go anywhere public with lines by myself. Then I had three kids and two wasn’t so bad. Then 4 kids. Then 5 kids. I’ve been out and about a lot lately with my crew. It is easier because they are getting older. Honestly, the hardest part now is dealing with the comments, points and stares when I’m alone with all five. I’m partially looking forward to when the boys pass me in height and I can wear a ball cap and pretend we are all just a group of friends. Not really. Well, kind of.

The whole point of this post is as I sat watching them, I thought of a blog post my friend Kimber shared on facebook. It is a letter written to moms of one or two children from a mom of five. It was written in 2007. It is so, so good. I kept nodding my head as I read her words.

Here is an excerpt:

“So, mamas of one or two littles afoot, when you ask me, “How do you do it?” I know what you’re asking. And I know what you’re feeling and what’s behind your eyes, and I walked in your shoes, and you are doing the hard, hard stuff of motherhood.

It is not easier because you “only” have one child or two children.

But as you find your way, and the more you let God be your strength and realize that you cannot in the many ways you think you can, it gets easier.

And it gets so, so good.”

I hear the “How do you do it?” and “I only have one and I’m overwhelmed…..” all the time – like every time I go anywhere with my five kids. And I get asked it a lot on this ole’ blog. Having one or two kids is not easier simply because there are less of them. If you are a mom with a couple little ones and are feeling a bit weary and wondering how some moms with more kids do it, I encourage you to read Sarah’s whole post. It’s good.

One day my kids will be driving and I’ll wait until we are five minutes down the road and tell them I need to go to the bathroom. One day.

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  • AndreaB - Crying through that amazing post! As a mama of a toddler and another on the way I feel as though I’m floundering in the “land of I can do this” – serious refocus and lifting of eyes needed. thanks for sharing your point of view Ashley.

  • Gretchen - Thank you for graciously recognizing that one or two or three or however many children you have can be hard, especially at certain times, as when they are really little. I am always a bit frustrated when I constantly read from the moms who have more children how they didn’t realize how when they had one or two or three how much “easier” it was then and basically how they are rock star moms now of so many more children. They don’t even realize how they are belittling the mom’s job who has one or two children. I can tell you that my mom friends who only have one child have a really tough job as they become the parent and play mate of their children all the time. Also, many of these moms would love to have more children but it never happened for them and they may not have had the means to adopt even if they wanted to. You are always so gracious to recognize the lives and choices of all as important. Thank you!

  • amber - I love this. I’m a mom of 4 & get those same stares when I’m out alone or even with my husband. I also have a great friend who’s a mom of 4 & one of our favorite things is people’s reactions when we show up with our brood together. Ha!! But.You & your friend are exactly right. Being a mom is hard. Only with the Lord does it all work. The more kids I have, the more it becomes tremendously obvious. I am no good without Him. Thank you for sharing this! Perspective changes are just so good.

  • Emily - I have a head cold and my husband has been out of town since Sunday. My two young boys (3 and 5) are making their own dinner – crostini, cream cheese, pepperoni. The oldest is adding cheddar. You gotta do what you gotta do. 😉

  • Theresa - The Lord has blessed me with 6 children and I love every minute of it! I don’t really notice the stares but get too many comments of ‘you got your hands full’. That comment greatly annoys me but I have come to realize that that moment is an opportunity to express that my children are blessings and that I love the craziness. There have been a few times someone will stop me and ask if all of them are mine…when I say yes they will tell me that they just love big families as they themselves come from a large one. Those comments brighten my day. God is so good! Having a family does require a sacrifice….. regardless the size. When the children are young it seems like a very thankless and very repetitive job. Keeping my eyes of Jesus and praying for Godly wisdom so when those trying times come all day long I am prepared. Cause those moments are going to come! The young children grow up and go to school where their teammates will show your child where they cut themselves and all the drama that goes with that. Along with many other things. God is so good! Keep on keeping on!
    On another note thank you Ashley for your blog! I just love your perspective you share through your camera lens! God bless you and your sweet family!

  • Lynn - I have 4 that are grown. I never thought of doing the bathroom stop to them. What a good idea. My favorite bathroom stop story is the time I stopped at a rest stop with them and took the 3 youngest into the family restroom. They were 2,4, and 5. The power went out while in there. It was pitch black!!!! The 4 year old was afraid of the dark and started screaming his loudest. When I finally got everyone back together and out of the rest room, I was met with lots of laughter. Just waiting til his daughter does something like this.

  • Andrea - Loved your post. I have six kids and avoid going out in public by myself a lot too, getting so tired of all the stares and comments so many make. And the bathroom thing…yes, yes, I generally always make everyone go before, but you just forget sometimes and pay for it too :-) I just identified so much with what you wrote. It’s nice to know I’m not too crazy :-) :-)

  • Natalie - It’s a relative, right? When I had three under two I thought I would never leave the house again. Now with 5 (under 6) life seems so much easier. The math doesn’t exactly make sense but kids who can help themselves makes such a difference! Although I would have plow right on through to avoid a bathroom stop!

  • Willemina - I have 7 kids (oldest is 11) and LOVE taking them out! Yes, people look and sometimes ask questions but then I can show them that big families are AWESOME and not scary. I think our culture has lost something when big families are weird.
    But…my 6 year old daughter ALWAYS needs to use every public bathroom she sees and I know where Every. Single. Restroom. is in our city!

  • Jess - Thanks for sharing this perspective! My favorite: One day my kids will be driving and I’ll wait until we are five minutes down the road and tell them I need to go to the bathroom. One day.

  • Cathy - I also “only” have two kids. When they were little I felt like I couldn´t get ANYTHING done- I mean a clean house or laundry and a cooked meal all at once? Seemed impossible, the children required alot of my energy and also after some time at home I worked part time. So when I was home I wanted to spend time with my boys. Also with a toddler you have to constantly watch I felt incapable of fulfilling such outrageous tasks like garden work or taking a shower on a daily basis.But THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERYTHING! Now my boys are much bigger (14 and 10) and of course they still require time and attention but they make their homework themselves and i can make them help with some chores! I work 30 hours per week now so me time is still precious but somehow I feel at peace with what and how life and the balance worked out. (I am actually sitting in the office right now ahem and my 10 year old came here after school and is eating peanuts while I “work” and when I close up we will meet with a friend to go for a walk while big brother and hubby are already home )
    So to all moms: You are enough and it will get easier and better! Keep going and enjoy!

  • Debbie C - I love this post. Life with kids is such an adventure. Thanks for your positive, and humorous, perspective.

  • Donzel - My mom does that to us….actually she was the reason we ever stopped for a pee break.
    My husband and I currently have 1 toddler, he just passed his 19 month mark and life is full and busy and yes, ever so good. God gives new mercies specific to each day, new and fresh grace for each teething-filled and sleepless night.

    People can be so sweet and gracious when they see you have young kids (or lots of them!) I was in Walmart with my friend and her 2 kids and at one point I ended up by myself, with 2 8month olds and a 2 year old crammed in the cart and an older lady smiled at us and said “How wonderful to see your hands so full”. I thought it was a fantastic comment, and so did my friend.

  • Melissa @ Bless this Mess - I loved this! I just had #5 this summer and getting out of the house is an ordeal and then while out I feel like we are a traveling circus… it’s just easier to be at home most days :)

  • Kelli - LOL, oh goodness, I never considered the turn around when they start to drive. Thank you for that fabulous laugh this morning. My oldest is getting close to that learning how to drive stage.