UPDATE: I can’t read a calendar. I thought Valentine’s Day was next week. It is not. Whew.

Okay parents…Valentines Day is coming up. That gives us 2 weekends to come up with our game plan. I’m so last minute with everything lately. If it wasn’t for this blog, I wouldn’t think about what next Tuesday is or the fact that I will have 2 little girls intent on doing something special for every human being they have met.

I’ve been pinning a couple ideas…simple ones that you and I can pull off this weekend if we want to be over achievers and not wait until Monday night. You can visit my Pinterest page to find link to the ideas:

Now I know some of you already have Valentines Day bags stuffed, treats made, and the decorations ready to hang. Others of you are shaking your head at the thought of doing anything. With that in mind, I wanted to share a post from February 2015:

When Pinterest first became popular several years ago, it was interesting to me to watch the reactions other moms had to the website. For some, it sparked their creativity and gave them confidence to try new things. Others complained that now everyone would be doing the same things.

A few years later a wise mother of young adults left a comment on my blog related to Pinterest. She said she feared what Pinterest and Pinterest standards would do to a generation of young moms.

There was a shift, so it seemed to me, of parties, snacks, events, decor, etc. created not out of love for creating, but out of other motives. A new version of Keeping Up With the Joneses.

There seems to be a new shift now – one of putting down those that put hours into cute birthday parties, fun snacks, photo-worthy homemade cookies and other similar stuff. This Valentine’s Day I watched it play out online and among moms I know. Instead of encouraging and celebrating moms that go that extra bit to do something creative for their kids, they seem to be the object of passive aggressive attacks by moms like me whose kids showed up to parties with store bought cookies and Valentines. There is this general idea pushed that if a mom goes the extra mile it is because she is trying to be Super Mom or that she has it all together.

Really though…creativity expressed in going the extra mile can often be just a mom acting out the way she was designed – sharing her gifts and her beauty.

Sure, some moms do it for praise from others, but not all moms. Some moms make 50 handmade Valentines with their kids for classmates simply because that is who they are and what they love to do. They should be encouraged not put down or embarrassed for living out their gifts. I was once the mom that showed up with ‘Pinterest-y’ goodies because it is a natural extension of who I am. I wasn’t looking to impress anyone, I simply loved the chance to create and share with others. I miss the days that I had extra margin to create in that way. Maybe one day I’ll be doing that again, but in the meantime I want to celebrate those that do. And I want to celebrate those that do not.

We are all uniquely and beautifully made.

Whether we come alive covering paper hearts with glitter, using coupons to find the best deal on store bought cookies or organizing a classroom supply closet – let’s cheer each other on! In coming together and using our words to encourage each other – we collectively shine.

Shining, happy people are pretty fun to be around too….especially when one brings cookies, homemade or store bought!

2.15valentines-012.15valentines-022.15valentines-03So…way to go mom that will show up at the Valentine’s Day party with store bought everything.

Way to go mom that will showΒ up with the cutest snacks and thoughtfully made cards.

Way to go mom that can’t make it to the party, but will send your child covered in feelings of love.

Way to go moms. (& dads & grandparents & those raising & loving kids)

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  • Gabrielle N - Wow, beautifully said, and so true, true of so many things, times and occasions, not just Valentine’s Day. Thank you

  • Anna Brown - Way to go Ashley for being real and a fantastic cheerleader for all mums, parents, grandparents and care givers…..And for adding beautiful photography to the mix.

  • Mary - You do realize you have 9 days until Valentines day right? Don’t sweat it yet!

  • Bonnie - Yes yes yes!!! I flip flop between doing it the labor intensive (but cuter, healthier, Pinterestier way) and the easy way, and I try my best to not apologize for either. I just sent out 15 Valentine’s cards to our closest friends and family, but at day care we’ll be handing out play doh cans that I bought at a consignment sale. I love the idea of celebrating people who go the extra mile and share their creativity, and also the people who simply were able to attend. BTW we decided to just order take out for our small super bowl party, and everyone coming is super excited to not have to prepare anything.

  • Chrissy - Man, you scared me for a minute. Valentines is not next week. We have another weekend to prepare πŸ™‚

  • Debbie C - Hi Ashley! Please be cheered that you actually have an extra week–today is just February 3rd. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to seeing what you and the kids create for Valentines Day!

  • susie - My sister and I were just saying how much we like valentines day. In Finland they celebrate it as Friendship day and I was telling the kids how we can love everyone! My girls are like yours, so excited to share. I just had a baby last week so store bought valentines it is. I love when people go the extra mile and create things, but often I am way to cheap to spend money on crafts at this time.

  • Marian - Beautifully said. As women, whether you are a mother or not, we must support and encourage each other to do what makes them happy! Thanks for this post! I needed to hear it.

  • Jennifer - Great post! I agree!! I like to think every Mom is doing their personal best. Like you, I love crafting; it’s fun. And my kiddo loves it when I make things.

  • AshleyAnn - So funny….I might end up extra prepared this year!

  • AshleyAnn - Chrissy – Yep, I can’t read a calendar. I updated it!

  • AshleyAnn - Mary – I’m obviously not that on top of things…can’t even read a calendar!

  • Jessica P - I love your encouraging perspective. Well said.

  • Jenn - perfection
    i just love every bit of this
    may we not discourage those who create or those who don’t
    want to remember to be the cheerleader of other moms like you do so well

    loved your way to go’s at the end of the post. reminded me of a Superbowl commercial. It was PERFECT!

talents-01We were baking cookies. Really, she was baking cookies and I was just reciting the recipe from memory. As she added ingredients, she asked, “Mommy, what are your talents?”

I hesitated for a moment. Listing off your talents to someone else is an odd thing to do. I’d prefer others tell me what they see in me, but my daughter needed me to speak with confidence about myself. In our home, weΒ talk about gifts, talents and interests frequently. Celebrating our differences is a core value for our family. As she asked the question, I realized I spend most of my time talking about her talents and her siblings’ talents. She wanted to hear about mine.

The cookie dough formed and I shared with her the things I consider my talents, but more than that I talked about the things that bring me joy. Watching her face light up as I spoke about the things I like doing reminded me how important it is for and to my kids to see me happy. Conversations with my big kids – I had no idea they would be this good.

These growing up years are so fun. The questions they ask and the insight they provide make motherhood the greatest adventure I’ve known.
talents-02talents-04My youngest daughter has a keen ability for mixing patterns and dressing opposite of the weather. On cold days, she wears shorts and a t-shirt. On a 70 degree day – she wears tights and a winter coat…inside. And someone left the walking collar on our dog. Happy Wednesday friends!

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  • Diana - My 3 year old only wants to wear shorts all the time, claims it’s 90 outside (there is now on the ground). Your comment about your youngest made me laugh. I get it.

  • Heather - Your post today was so beautiful in its simplicity and observation and reflection of your children and life around you. You stop me every time you have a post like this because it was so similar to a day in the life of my house and yet you gently remind me to appreciate this time as I am also sometimes unexpectedly surprised how much I love each new phase we end up in as my children grow up. Thank you. Thank you for always seeing and pointing out the beauty.

  • Heidi - I hope you add a post scrip to your list of talents for your daughter. Please include the ability to write and connect with people (in-person and remotely) by the sharing an honest transparency of love and inclusiveness.

    Here are some of the topics you wrote about that have deeply affected me:

    1. stay at home moms and working moms
    2. home school and public schooling
    3. your post about taking space and being silent during tragic times
    4. teaching your kids to think of others and share with ALL kids internationally
    5. the joy and struggle of young children
    6. taking huge risks as a family to make changes in your lives and make the world a better place
    7. the immense love of your family and how your children have grown up seeing their grandparents and great-grandparents IN THEIR LIVES REGULARLY!!
    8. your awareness of your introversion, but willingness to push when needed and also embracing it

    I am not sure if you and I agree on politics and/or religion. If we do, great. If we don’t, great. I don’t feel the need to polarize myself when I read your writing. I don’t need to claim a side. You allow safety for ALL! THAT is a talent not many people have. The world needs more of you!

  • gHina - Hi Ashley, this post is just beautiful <3
    I am your reader for many years and I'm from the other side of world from you, Indonesia.
    I agree with Heidi, I would say your biggest talent is inspiring others about family, how you support each other and be with each other regularly. I feel like I want to have 5 kids everytime I read your blog! πŸ˜‰
    Another one is your ability to capture moments with your photography. Your photo on daily life is priceless!
    I hope I can meet/get in touch with you personally one day, because I have tons of question to ask you.
    Love from Indonesia πŸ™‚

  • Sara - Thank you for encouraging and inspiring me to be a more intentional mom. Thank you for sharing your heart.


1.17CNY-2

My mom out does herself each year with the costumes for our Chinese New Year celebrations. The traditional celebration includes a lion dance. We missed that memo the first year and ever since we do a “Year of the ______ Dance.” My mom and kids make the mask each year. This is the Year of the Rooster. My eldest daughter decided it needed to be a ‘fiery rooster,’ so she added red feathers. We’ve had a few fox and coyotes attacks in our chicken coop….lets just say when she added the red feathers ‘fiery rooster’ was not what first came to mind!

I did not take many pictures this year. We served Hot Pot and I was in the mix of everything and completely forgot to even bring my camera in the room. I snapped a few before with my phone and a couple during the dinner, but not much.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIn the course of one day my friend Ruth gave me a new plate and my mom brought over a rooster mask. They work well together, don’t you think?!1.17CNY-1It is hard to believe our first Chinese New Year celebration was 5 years ago. We were a family of 6 waiting to find out who the youngest Campbell would be. It was also the year my second-born decided to karate chop the dancing lion at the restaurant we were celebrating at. Good times.

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