For Christmas my mom wanted us all to get a photo together. My parents, my family and my sister’s family stopped by a nearby park with my tripod in hand. Nothing fancy, just us together was the goal. It is a bit tricky trying to get us all in a photo and looking at the camera using a tripod, but I think it worked out well.

My family

1.16family-10Before my parents arrived I thought I would attempt a shot of my crew and surprise my mom with a print of it. This was our best attempt. I’ve said it before…there is a reason the majority of our pictures are candid. Cue all the awkward smiles. Makes me laugh. Mom, if you want a print of this, I might need to add thought bubbles to it.

1.16family-01An attempt at a brother shot…1.16family-02And then I just told them to pose however they wanted. This is so much more them. Can you guess the boy that keeps us laughing?1.16family-03First attempt at a kid shot…1.16family-05Second attempt…1.16family-06And then a little begging from me for everyone to just stand and smile…they are getting SO BIG!1.16family-07

This kid. He is quick witted and funny. Like really funny…past the ‘kid jokes that don’t make any sense’ phase and in the actual ‘THAT WAS REALLY FUNNY’ phase.1.16family-08Everyone else was off running trails and climbing trees…1.16family-09While I am posting family pictures, I have to share one of my very favorites from Christmas dinner. Chris’ parents joined my family for Christmas dinner, what a tremendous gift it is for us to celebrate with both of our parents. I hit the jackpot in regards to the family I got to join when I married Chris. Jackpot. I should also take a moment to tell my mother-in-law (who reads this blog) that I will try really hard to remember to print her new pictures and her thank you card from the kids (that I posted on last week!) is on my kitchen counter waiting for a stamp. Yikes. Not so great daughter-in-law! Good thing I know she likes me anyway.1.16family-11Moral of this post: I accomplished family pictures, which included a few of us actually looking at the camera and smiling. I did not accomplish actually printing any of those pictures for the ones that would like them the most (Nana & Grandma). You win some, you lose some. Now off to start ordering prints before my mom or mother-in-law call me!

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  • Kristi Rediske - I love these-families are just great and it is obvious in these picture of all the love in this family.

  • Keilah - You say an “attempt” at a brother or family shot, but you got one. And I think it’s beautiful. You would probably never want them all to make the face or pose you demanded because it wouldn’t be them anyway. Looks like a successful photoshop to me!

  • byron - As ever, great stuff! I think your second attempt with the kids is the best. Just my thoughts.

  • Julie - I got the In-Law Giant Lotto Jackpot when I married 31+ years ago: just the absolute best! They are both with Jesus now and we all sure do miss them.

    The first time my parents met my in-laws (before we married) will always be a favorite memory. We all walked into their little house…and in the entry way was a big box with hundreds of silk worms chomping on mulberry leaves. There is nothing quite like that sight! (Mom B was a first gr teacher.)

    I want to be THAT mom/mom-in-law/grandma!

    I so enjoy reading about your family. Those days pass quickly!

    Blessings to you from NW Arkansas

  • Kristina - Beautiful pictures of a beautiful family! Just found your blog and love it!

  • Diana - Those are great pictures! I love the candid ones. So many personalities shining through!

  • Debbie C - Your funny guy looks so much like his dad. 😀 Love these pics!

  • Jenny L. - Your family is so precious! Get ready because you see the face on the funny son, my son makes and has made that exact face in every picture since he was about 12. He is now 23. Yikes!

  • Kara - these are lovely. I think your family is awesome! my kiddos are professionals at what we call the “cheese/grimace.”‘ candids are also our friend, ha. also, no worries if you don’t answer this… but wondering what lens you use for a big group? my mother-in-law always wants pictures of her whole clan together and I doubt my 50mm. 😉

  • AshleyAnn - Kara – I used my 50mm. I have a 24-70mm, but it has been dropped a few times and I don’t think it works as well as it should anymore.

Three years ago my oldest and I walked the markets in China.  It was a few days before we met his sister and several days before he would visit the orphanage she spent her first year. The impact of that trip on his life can’t really be measured. When given the chance to open his eyes to people and places, especially those far from the borders of our state and nation, I will run passionately through that door. He was 18 months old when he got the first stamp in his passport. I want to blow his mind with sights, smells, people, and interactions. I want to dive into history, politics, social justice, and all the ‘deep’ stuff with him, showing him how he fits in the story of it all.

I want to go. With him. With each of my kids.

1.16compassion-01He has always been the one up for an adventure with me. Very little worries him or causes him to feel fearful. He is steady and confident. His emotions stay pretty much at one level lacking any extremes either direction, much like his mom. 1.16compassion-02This is a pretty special post – you’ll see why below – so I wanted a new picture of the two of us. These are the two most recent shots I have of us. In fact, I could not find one picture where we are both looking at the camera smiling. Most likely this is due to our mutual ability to be anything but active or awkward in front of a camera.  1.16compassion-05In less than two weeks, I will be taking him with me on a dream trip. A trip to gain understanding, to learn, to serve, to play and to advocate. I’m not the most eloquent of bloggers. I am certainly not the most ‘put together’. What you usually find on this blog is my journey in motherhood as a Christian…a mix of photography, projects and a whole lot of trying to see beauty in everyday moments.

In two weeks, we will board an airplane bound for Ecuador as part of a Compassion Blogger trip. For those unfamiliar with Compassion, I will be sharing more in the weeks to come. We sponsor a few children through Compassion. During this trip we will meet one of the boys we sponsor. We will also visit centers run by Compassion and see first hand the work they are doing in Ecuador. Advocating for children – alongside my child – this is a dream come true for me.

This will be the first Compassion Blogger trip which each blogger is bringing her son along too. We will be joining Ruth Simons (Gracelaced), Shannan Martin (Flowerpatch Farm Girl), and their sons.




1.16compassion-08Motherhood changed me. I have so many dreams and hopes for my children. Compassion International has allowed me to come alongside the moms of my sponsored kids. Together we get to watch these children we love have the opportunity to dream big with great hope for the future. I am equally thankful for all that wells up within my own kids as they forge relationships through letters and pictures with amazing kids around the globe.

As I look ahead to this trip, so many prayers for my oldest fall from my lips. So many prayers for the sponsored children and their families that we meet. And so many prayers for the children still waiting for sponsorship.



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  • Christi {Jealous Hands} - What an awesome opportunity. Can’t wait to follow along!

  • Catherine - Wow, what an awesome experience. I cannot wait to follow along and hear what you have to say.

  • Lindsey p - I’m so excited for you! And me, because our sponsored child is about to “age out” & we are deliberating about if we will use commpasion again or find another organization to donate to. Looking forward to your posts!

  • amber - There are just no words to describe how amazing this is! You are such an inspiring mom. An inspiring person. Just amazing. Can’t wait to see how this trip unfolds. Beautiful.

  • Kelley - dp you know what cities you will be in? I spent a semester in Quito Ecuador in college. Traveled a lot around the country that year. Some foods to try if you get the chance – fruit vendors on the streets, anything that peels is safe- clementines (mandarinas) or mini bananas (platanos pequeños). Maracuya is a delicious sour passion fruit. Fun to eat with a spoon and sugar. But I like it best in a milkshake- batído de maracuya. I also loved menestra con platano frito (lentils with fried banana, sounds weird, but the sweet and salty are good together) depending on where you’re going I can tell you what fun things to shop for. Lots of neat handmade items. Excited for you! And cannot wait to see your photos of a place I hold so dear.

  • Beth - Ashley… What a great opportunity. I would love to hear/see from his point of view. And as a VERY BIG aside….I read your blog *because* of you not being put together, not *in spite of* it!

  • Jenn - how exciting. i can’t wait to hear more of the trip as the weeks come and the time for the trip arrives. you will be in my prayers over the next couple of weeks. i hope your time is truly blessed

  • Susan - I can hardly wait to see what you share!!!

  • Tanya - What an awesome opportunity to share with your son. I can’t wait to see your pictures and hear about your journey. Safe and happy travels to you all.

  • Byron - God bless you! I love Compassion (and you’ve reminded me that I need to write my kids)!

  • ranee - I just love this so much. We are also big fans of the work that Compassion is doing and each of our kids sponsor a child that shares a birthday with them. I’m so excited for you to have this opportunity and perhaps one day my son and I will do the same! (and getting to travel with those two ladies probably wouldn’t be so bad, either!) 😉

  • Susie - I am jealous! This is my dream too! My husband does not like to travel out of the country so i have been dreaming to go with my kids! Have so much fun!

  • Hermione - You are a good mother, I have read your blog for years (though I don’t know if I’ve ever commented before), and I find your site to be such an encouragement and a beautiful glimpse of what intentional motherhood looks like. I know you’re not perfect, because none of us are, but it is evident that you love your children so very much. Thank you for being such a place of hope and positivity on the Internet.

  • Kayse - What some amazingly wonderful ways you are teaching your children! They will grow to be compassionate, intelligent, people full of love. Kudos!

  • Debbie - Our Compassion child is in Ecuador, too. I’ll be especially interested in following your Compassion trip entries. And how special to share this trip with your son.

  • Kinm Bernal - Hi! I love this post.
    Your love for your childs and to others is beautiful .
    Hopefully, we were many who want respect, understanding other cultures without destroy them .
    In addition, it reminded me some trips with my son and that made me very happy.

  • Avenlea Bixby - What a neat experience for you and your son! I would love to learn more about Compassion.

  • Tamara - We LOVE Compassion!!!

  • Kate - This! This is so amazing and awesome. I had no idea Compassion ever let bloggers take their kids. We love the ministry, and I love that you get to do this with your son. Incredible! I’m praying for you both!!

  • Around Our Table: The Next Compassion Blog Trip - Our Savory Life - […] Simons, Shannan Martin, Ashley Ann.  Followers of Christ who are committed to Kingdom work. Who know the value of a child. Who […]

  • Emily - So special! So excited for the two of year and can’t wait to hear your stories and experiences. Prayers!

  • Jessica Engel - Hi Ashley! I am a long-time reader but not sure I’ve actually ever commented. Love following along with your family. I was so excited to see your post on going to Ecuador! I went there myself (with my church) last spring. I am praying for you- for your son- for your trip. I can’t wait to see which villages you visit!

  • Teri - Just came across your blog and read of your Compassion trip. We’ve met 3 of our children. You are going to be SO blown away. I still get goose bumps thinking about our meetings.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness! I am so thrilled for you! Have a wonderful, blessed, time and know that you will be covered in prayer.

  • Lisa - What an amazing experience for you to share with your son!


One topic I am often asked about is how I pick pictures to display and what kind of prints/canvases I use. About once a year, I update the pictures on our living room shelves. Each year I tend to order one gallery wrap canvas and then a couple stand-out mounted prints and several mounted prints from

Below are examples of these three options: mounted print (single weight matboard), stand-out mount, gallery wrap canvas.1.16display-02The mounted prints are not meant to stand alone. They are meant to be framed. However, it only costs a couple dollars to mount a print, so it makes for a great option for places you want to change out the pictures often without a large expense. I know I could just frame these, but I like the look of the photos without a frame. To get my mounted prints to stand up on my shelves, I cut cardboard and tape it to the back. Not fancy or pretty on the backside, but it does the job. I display the mounted prints in places you can’t see my cardboard hack. 1.16display-04

When I am selecting which pictures to order for gallery wrap canvases, I opt for ones I know I won’t want to change out. I also stick to smaller sizes so they are easier to display in a different place down the road. In the images below, the picture of my daughter in her wings, the picture of my younger daughter grinning and our family picture in front of the trailer are all gallery wrap canvases. Family pictures work great for canvases. The other two pictures are personal favorites of my daughters.

For stand-out mounted pictures, I pick photos that I am fairly certain I will want displayed for longer than a year. They won’t buckle or bend like a regular mounted picture can with time when displayed standing up.1.16display-06As far as what I do with these after I take them down, I am still working a solution. Sometimes they get moved to a different spot in the house. Other times they are placed in a drawer. I like doing smaller canvases and stand-out mounts because they are easier to store if needed. All of my prints, canvases and stand-out mounts are from, there you go in a nutshell how I approach pictures on those shelves. If you have any questions about it, just let me know.

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  • Oceana | Barefoot Beach Blonde - I really love your photo display. It looks like Mpix offers some great products. I only wish we had a comparable service in Australia, but unfortunately there’s not the quality, but affordability, on this side of the world yet. If only Mpix shipped international! I live in hope!
    Also, love all those vintage cameras, cute!


  • Byron - As ever, innovative and artistic! I really like all the “thrift shop” cameras on the shelves too. They provide a fun, laid back context to the display.

  • Amy@AtMulberryHill - Love them all. We’re looking at doing major remodeling in a year or so and your home keeps bringing me back again and again. The spacious whiteness of it all with pops of colors and tons of things that are meaningful. I love that!

  • Debbie Tibbs - Wow that looks beautiful! Just found your blog recently and love it. Will be following along!

  • Emily - We bought this house with a massive brick (but painted white) fireplace and I’ve been brainstorming what to with it…I should see about mounting shelves into the brick and following your lead. Thanks for sharing!

  • Romy MacGibbon - I love that during this last year I still remember the moment you posted each of these pictures, specially the one of Firecracker fishing with her Dad, the one in the Camper with the ballons, the one with the boys in the mud, the bird wings and the one of the Oldest helping with the logs. Even loosing those front tooths and the one of the littlest one with the lollipop. :)
    I would have printed the same ones!

  • Diana - That is a great display!!

  • Nan - For long-term storage, try these flat boxes –
    They’re the best for protecting your investment.

  • melanie - Ashley, what happend to that beautiful concrete table top? Did I miss something?

    Greetings from Germany!

  • Chris - Good luck!! I will be following your trip with interest and excitement….many prayers for you along the way! I, too, am a compassion blogger and will spread the word of your trip with much excitement!
    Following you and subscribing too! You have a lovely blog and I’m so happy to “meet” you!!

  • Sarah Jane - The craziest thing about storing the pictures, though, is that they may not be stored for long! The time will fly by until your little ones are begging to take those pictures to display in their own homes. At least that’s how it worked in our family!

  • Carrie Hageman - I love how you have a picture of little one with her “first smile”. I too keep a picture of my sweet girl born in China with her first smile. Both are beautiful and I want to remember!

  • Cassidy Scott - I’ve got two boxes of old cameras and I’ve been wondering what the heck to do with them after I move and THIS IS IT. Seriously the best display idea ever. (:

  • ellen patton - I love your photos and your style!

  • Jessica - I LOVE your photo display! I’ve always admired it in your photos and I appreciate you explaining it. I think I will be ordering some of these types of photos from Mpix soon! I tried doing a similar look with frames, but all i saw was the frames and there were just so many- I hated it. Can you please share where your shelves and the tracks are from? Thanks!

  • AshleyAnn - Jessica – Thanks! The tracks are from Lowes. The shelves are just wood boards from a local mill.