So my niece keeps on growing up on me….cutie patootie. Lesley came over and I took a few monthly pictures of Sweet P recently. I’m including some “bigger” picture shots to show you where we took them. We only had about 20 minutes, it was really overcast and a bit cold outside…worked with what we had.

Yes, the calendar tag says “February”…let me just say she won’t ever know her monthly pictures took place just a bit late!

She likes to stand so I tried a picture. Evidently she doesn’t like to stand for pictures.

Or she is mad that I haven’t passed down FireCracker’s hat to her.

I took maternity pictures of Lesley in this wrap from Kove. I’ve been wanting to get some of Sweet P in it and I finally remembered!


I always have a few ‘interruptions’ when I am taking pictures of Sweet P.

I love her.

They arrived at my house during the middle of a light saber battle. Les asked if “this” is normal? What? You mean 2 fully costumed Jedi Knights and a 3ft Darth Vader is not normal in most homes?


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  • Jenny @ Words On Wendhurst - Love your pictures. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading for a long time. Your kids just crack me up – 3 ft Darth Vaders and Jedis! πŸ™‚

  • Lilly - beautiful photos! my boys (and girls) are star wars obsessed — happen to remember where you got the light sabers? thanks πŸ™‚

  • Carol - What a beautiful baby. Looks just like her mom. Love the pic in Firecrackers hat.

  • amy cornwell - She’s precious! Thank you for sharing your life with us and your amazing photos.

  • Anna - your niece is so sweet…hence the name “Sweet P”. πŸ˜‰ I love the last picture…such a silly one for her to look back on her cousins!

  • Mirys from Brazil - Ashley:

    Great photos (as usual!)!
    This time, I loved the tips with the 2 different views (bigger picture and the final one). Thanks!!!!

    Yesterday, I took my analogic camera to being cleaned. IΒ΄m reeeeealyyyyy getting back! So excited!!!

    Mirys (from Brazil)

    PS: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENT ON MY BLOG!!! The 3 musketeers were absolutely honored! I never thought you would manage to find time to ready us! And you read and you commented! So sweet! Thank you!

  • Cat from Constant in Chaos - she is adorable! i love the one where she is mad because you made her stand! priceless! πŸ™‚

  • Kelly - It’s normal in this home!
    Great photos of your adorable niece!

  • amanda torres - She is so stinkin’ cute. I really think you should put a disclaimer before you post baby pictures just for me. Baby fever. It also doesn’t help that I saw Jenn last night in all her preggo glory. She was so adorable! Track suit and all (Jenn that was for you if you’re reading this. I liked the suit. Very Modern Familish.)

  • Lesley - Thanks again for taking her pictures! I love them all! One of Eric’s favorites is the cry.

  • Katie - Such sweet pictures!

  • ashley jensen - I can picture FireCracker playing with the rest of the boys as Princess Leia and Sweet P will have none of it! She is too sweet!

  • Kim - Where did you get the vader outfit? I need one! My 3 year old is just entering the world of Star Wars…we have light “saver” fights daily. While watching the Oscars, he saw the award and asked if everyone was winning a C3PO. This is my first time commenting on your blog – my addiction to your DIY and photography just recently begun!

  • Celia - What a beautiful baby and beautiful photos! I love the one of her in the hat…. that bottom lip is priceless. πŸ˜‰

  • Trish - awww what a sweetie… thanks for the pullbacks, it’s a great reminder that you don’t have to have a super elaborate setup! p.s. your jedi’s are super cute too πŸ™‚

  • Danielle @ The Sunshine Girl - she is adorable! i love the idea of doing pictures of her with the wrap!

  • Yanet of 3 Sun Kissed Boys - That’s too funny that she asked that. it cracks me up. Definition of “normal” changes with motherhood. Les will soon find out.

  • Jen Helbert - this post made me smile πŸ™‚ and your sis is stunning in that belly picture!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - trust me…
    that is totally normal. at least around here it is! that sweet p sure is cute!

  • Betsy - You post so creatively and do such a good job of blending beauty and silliness and instruction! My eyes got misty at this post, but it made me smile too. πŸ™‚

  • ashlee - She looks so much like lesley! great pictures and any mom of boys knows that full on star wars gear day and night is perfectly normal:)

  • candace - beautiful, as always!

  • Marisa - AWESOME pics!! Love the bigger picture insight. And yes, the fully costumed mini Darth and Jedi’s are pretty much the norm around here, too. And Legos…oh, the Legos. Staples in our house. Glad we’re not the only ones. πŸ™‚

  • Jenny Joy - *swoon* Sweet P is adorable. And I know that I’m not supposed to, but I LOVE the mad face standing photo. That lower lip jutting out. CUTE. And tragic at the same time. Poor Sweet P!

  • The Old Block House - She is such a cutie. Both kids are. Enjoy!

  • Kristin - Love, LOVE your sense of humor, Ash. Always look forward to my morning coffee & seeing what FireCracker is up to! xo

  • giozi - When I saw the pictures of your sister I though that she was too and said, Ohh she is pregnat again πŸ™‚

    Sweet P is really sweet, adorabla, so beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing your big photos, ohh sant crop πŸ˜‰

  • kristin - Love these pictures! Sweet P is too cute! πŸ™‚

  • Amanda D - I love the pictures, she is soooo cute! Thanks for including the big pictures too!! and…I love seeing that I am not the only one who has costumed Star Wars characters roaming the house on a regular basis. Sometimes I wonder if my friends think my kids are odd, hehe, you remind me that they are normal, ha!

  • Kymberly - Love your blog and that you post “bigger picture.” Lovely.

    I’ll be following you for more!

    Funny but as I scrolled down the little “Giveway Day” badge read, to my eyes, as “Giveaway Baby!” and I was thinking “yes, please, enter me to win a gorgeous baby!”

    Alas, it was not to be. πŸ˜‰ I wouldn’t be giving that cutie away either.

  • Vanessa - I wanted you to know that I think you have one of the most beautiful blogs. I am always so inspired by the pictures and writings that you share. Thank you.

  • Leanne - that’s what is normal at our house! πŸ™‚ she is a beautiful baby.

  • Desiree - She’s so beautiful! Love the 3 foot Darth Vader, too!

  • Laurie - I love these… Fantastic job, as always!

  • Heather C. - I love the last picture! So adorable and so normal. πŸ™‚

  • Melissa W. - She’s growing up! πŸ™‚ What sweet pictures!

  • sara's art house - Oh my dear! Her little jeans are adorable!

  • Belinda Lattimore - Beautiful photos….. just lovely. And yes perfectly normal….. Jedi Knights and Darth Vader visit our house regularly!!!

  • Jane F. - That standing picture is hilarious! My son makes exactly the same face.

  • Erin J. - What a sweet little one! I love the picture of her sour face from standing! So classic!
    I can completely relate with the constant star wars characters running around the house! My nephews are obsessed and they are always dressed up!

  • Melissa - i love absolutely everything about this post! and that picture of her standing, that is a keeper for sure!

  • Julie B - I’m jealous of your field, lol. I like the look of the tall “waiving wheat” look, but alas I just have grass.

  • Kristi - So i have a really funny story that i have to share… I am 7 1/2 months pregnant and ever since you took maternity pictures of your sister I have LOVED the shaw that she has on in this picture up above but never could find out where it was from! So, I saw a girl in Michael’s recently and crazy me walked up to this poor girl and said, “Are you Ashley Ann’s sister?” and the poor girl was like NO! So, yes I felt EXTREMELY dumb!! πŸ™‚ So, thanks for sharing the site…too bad it’s not in the budget at this time! πŸ™‚

  • becca~capturingsimplejoys - she is just a cutie! isn’t being an aunt the best!

  • Jess H - I’m LOL at your “normal” πŸ™‚ I am beginning to relate to this with a 1.5 and now 3 year old, who are constantly attempting doing good & battling evil with swords and slingshots and everything else… oh, and Sweet P is about as scrumptious as they come (besides Firecracker, of course!). thanks for the great shots & behind the scenes shots, too! love those!

  • Brittany Y. - I LOVE the last picture! It is so precious how she is completely unaware of her surroundings!

Warm weather hit over the weekend and we took advantage of it to get our garden going. Chris and our youngest boy headed out to get me some awesome dirt. Who knew that I would consider some dirt more awesome than other dirt?! I am still figuring out this gardening stuff, but one lesson I have learned is your garden is only as good as its dirt. This year I added my compost and fresh awesome dirt to last year’s beds. My thumb is already feeling more green.

While those two were making the dirt pickup, the other three and I headed to Atwoods to get some seeds. Mary recently left a comment about Atwoods being an indoor zoo…totally true. My kids love to go see all the baby chicks & ducks that arrive in the spring. Atwoods also has free popcorn…baby birds & popcorn…I do like my Atwoods.

iPhone, Hipstamatic app, John S. lens, Blanko film, flash off


My man unloading my dirt from his pickup….as Joe Diffee sings, “there’s something women like about a pickup man”.

85mm lens, 1/2500, f/3.2, ISO 100

85mm lens, 1/5000, f/1.8, ISO 100

I tried to get the boys to plant with me, but they were more interested in light saber battles. I didn’t mind. I’m not a great gardener, but I do enjoy the quietness and peacefulness that are part of working with the soil. My new awesome dirt felt awesome in my hands.

85mm lens, 1/5000, f/1.8, ISO 100


Some of you have been asking how I get photos of myself in them…I use the self-timer. For the 2 pictures above and the photo below the camera is balanced on a bucket turned upside down. I focused on the plant, set the timer and then stepped in the photo. I’ll post more on that with tips later.

85mm lens, 1/5000, f/1.8, ISO 100


I am going to take time to be inspired with ideas from The Inadvertant Farmer. While there I want to go back through the KinderGarden posts to get some kid friendly ideas. I really want to be sure to include:

A tunnel like this

A flower painting similar to this

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  • annie - Once you start gardening – there won’t be stopping. Every year, I get more and more excited with choosing what I’m going to grow – things I’ll want to eventually can or freeze. This year I’ll be harvesting my own compost too -so very excited. Yesterday I started to uncover my roses – it’s like unwrapping a present to see what’s under all the leaves. We’re just getting our warmer temps this week – so I can’t wait to start doing what you already did! Happy gardening!

  • tam - Sounds like you had the perfect weekend, It’s still snowing here, I have about 6 weeks before I can plant anything. You’re right…garden is only as good as the dirt. I always love your photos-your children are adorable!

  • Jacqueline - I’m totally jealous of you guys in shorts and flip flops! While I also started my garden (indoor from seed) yesterday it won’t be frost free here for another 10 weeks! Pout…

  • Jenny Joy - I’ve always wanted to be a great gardener, but my very feeble attempts have been “learning experiences”. Maybe I should try again. Great dirt is the key, huh? *making a mental note*

  • Jess - Oh, to live where Spring comes so early! My garden still sleeps under three feet of snow… but in my head it’s a luxurious jungle.

    And yes, Kirsten’s tunnel is fantastic, I’d already planned to add one to our garden too.

  • amanda torres - I swore I was going to get a garden together this year, but I think I’ll be sticking with my containers again. Maybe one day.

  • Danielle C. - So jealous of your beautiful weather. Can’t wait for ours to come so I can get to work on my garden! Awesome pictures as always!

  • Veronica - Nice pictures! Makes me dream of summer ..while the snow still falls πŸ™‚

  • Monique W - Jealous! We have a good 5 feet of snow in our backyard still but it’s supposed to be above 0 all week so maybe it’ll melt quickly!

  • Kirsten - oh my! what a surprise to find our tunnel on your blog this morning! i’m honored! πŸ™‚ i hope you enjoy yours – we sure had a lot of fun last year with ours, even if it didn’t go quite as we planned (does gardening EVER go as planned?).

    super-jealous of your shorts and flip flops. we haven’t even touched the garden yet – too cold and too, too wet!

  • Katie - Yay for gardening weather! Can’t wait to hear how it turns out this season πŸ™‚

  • Tina - I can’t wait to get into my garden… still waiting for snow to melt in South Dakota but Spring is on its way.

  • ashley jensen - I always feel silly setting the self timer and “posing” for the camera but I do it anyway! As I read through the comments, I don’t think alot of people realize that being in Oklahoma we go from 70 on Saturday to the 40’s today with a chance of snow flurries!

  • Krista Lund - we will be planting our first garden this year!! so excited about it!!

  • Lauren Klouda - I am so very very jealous! We are starting our seeds indoor this week in Zone 5. The cool green house is ready and waiting to harden off seeds and we are staking out garden expansions in our wet and soggy yard… but we only wish and dream to be actually planting! Enjoy your garden! I love the links. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ashley A - Oh I wish I could be doing that right now. Here in St Louis we have 4 inches of snow!

  • The Old Block House - It’s that time of year and I’m oh so ready for it. Time to dig in the soil and get dirty, stinky, filthy. Seems if I’m cooking, painting, or planting, I end up covered in what I’m working with.

  • caro - i feel envy, you start with the good weather and here star today with the cold. This morning was freezing. Enjoy the good time!!!

  • Helen - I love these pictures – a great motivator to get started on our garden.

    My girls are really into playing with mud and this weekend we made mud pictures (you can see them on my blog).

    I’m still learning about my fancy camera and so I appreciate all of your photography tips and especially the picture details (ISO..) you include. I don’t take enough pictures of myself – looking forward to your tips.

  • Lesley - Your comment about Atwoods and popcorn cracked me up. While we were seed hunting this weekend, Eric kept talking about Atwoods popcorn.

  • Tess S. - I love the tunnel idea! I think I’d like to attempt that this year, too!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Oh man, I’m just starting my seedlings now…indoors. I do like the snow we get here in upstate new york, but seeing pictures of you planting outside in a tshirt is making me jealous! I’ll just finger the potting soil in my egg cartons for now while I pout.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - As someone who has been gardening most of my life, I can tell you- you are RIGHT. Your garden is as good as your dirt! Happy gardening!

  • Rebecca - Wasn’t there snow by you a couple of weeks ago? Ah Wisconsin’s spring is coming, but not for planting. Thank you for getting me excited. Here’s to the seasons.
    Enjoy the day.

  • Michelle D. - How do you manage three kids plus your camera in Atwoods? LOL! I think you are very brave. I used to take my camera everywhere but with all the kids, my purse and keys I usually manage to forget it.

  • Jessica P. - Thanks for sharing the link to the Inadvertent Farmer! I just spent some time on that blog, and I’m pretty sure that she is living my secret dream life.

  • Laurie J - I’d join you in the gardening (looks like fun!) if it weren’t for the spiders and worms…. just can’t get past the creepyness of them!

  • meg duerksen - hmmm….the snow on the ground here today has squelched my thoughts of gardening.
    BUT i do want to do it.
    and i do want it NOT to feel a burden this year.
    how can i do that???

    love the tunnel!

  • Mirys from Brazil - Thank you for the tips!!!

    I got my camera to be cleaned and I really hope I can go back to where I stoped taking pictures, one year and so ago…


    PS: IΒ΄ve been working on my basic digital camera, in Barcelone. Have you seen the pics???

  • Celeste - I went to The Briar Patch (a local nursery) today to get new plants for our spring garden today! This year, we’re following a raised garden plan from P. Allen Smith – it mixes flowers with herbs. I am so excited! Next on my list — having some fountains built for our gravel patio. {the pipes have been sticking up, ready-to-go for them since last year!} I’ve been in such a gardening mood — I made a “KinderGarden” outside my classroom (kindergarten) on the little patio we have – a hummingbird/butterfly garden and have compost composting here at home… all I need is to start digging to get this Herb/Flower Garden underway! yay! so excited.

  • andy - i wish i had a green thumb
    i’ve tried
    i have however managed to keep a peace lily alive for over a year so maybe it is turning greener πŸ™‚

  • Heather @ Cookie Mondays - This year will be my second veggie gardening attempt. I can’t wait! Thanks for getting me more excited about it!

  • Damaris @Kitchen Corners - Beautiful little garden. I love the picture of the water coming out of the hose.

  • Valerie - Planting? Seriously? I’m jealous. I did buy seed starting stuff today, though. I’m dreaming of a garden. Not sure where I will plant these if they grow, but I’ll figure that out later, I guess! Hope springs eternal!

  • Shawnene - Awesome! I am jealous that you have raised garden beds. I want one…and you compost. Even more awe inspiring is that you are creating this miracle on ground that was covered in snow just a few weeks ago! Now you all are wearing flip flops and shorts. Are you sure you don’t live in California?

  • mel @ the larson lingo - Fun!!! I love gardening season!!! We moved last year, so i wasn’t able to put a garden in our new backyard because it was in the middle of summer. But this year, it is on! I plan on getting it all set up during April….I can’t wait! Nothing better than home grown tomatoes!

  • Lori - Hey Ashley!

    Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Do you happen to know how long Atwoods usually has the chicks and ducks? We’ll be in OK the last week of March and I’d love take my little guy to see them.



  • Jess - I’m so jealous you are wearing shorts! I can’t wait until it warms up here and it is time to garden again. Love it!

  • Julie - Thanks for the great links! I love the tunnel, too. And the garden rocks. But what I really love are the Sesame Street seeds!

  • Ali @ HuYoungHeaven - Oh dirt, how I love thee. Today my husband tried to bring his iPod outside so we could listen to music while we worked. I disabused him of that notion pretty fast. Doesn’t he know that gardening is most renewing to the soul when done in peace and quiet? πŸ™‚

  • becca~capturingsimplejoys - i so wish it was planting time where i live! soon, very soon πŸ™‚

  • Gardening and Shotguns « lodgetime - […] There’s some great gardening inspiration on Under The Sycamore and tips at Β The Grumpy Gardener. Soon we'll finally have cable and can get rid of the stupid […]

I’m sitting here trying to find words to even write about what has happened in Japan, but words do not come. There are no words in a situation like this. There is nothing I can say, but I can do something. Writing a blog post with a few links of organizations that are mobilizing to help doesn’t feel like much. It isn’t holding a hurting child. It isn’t providing a meal to someone who has lost everything. It isn’t helping rescue those stranded. But then again…maybe it can be. Maybe sharing a few links with you we can join together and support those that are there now….writing a blog post, making a donation doesn’t feel like much….but it is what I can do now….

Ways you help…

Samaritan’s Purse

American Red Cross

Save the Children

The Salvation Army

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  • sarah j - thank you ashley, for giving us the opportunity to respond! actions speak louder than words, indeed.

  • caro - we pray for them

  • Yanet of 3 Sun Kissed Boys - They have been in my prayers all weekend. So incredibly sad.

  • Ritsuko - Thank you for helping my country. I live in CA, but my family is living in Japan. Although my family is ok luckly, there are tons of people who need help. I really appliciate your action.

  • tiffani - Ditto. Prayers and Passing on help. It all makes a difference:)

  • caro - here in CHile the earthquake was 8,8Β° and I was there. Is really awful that sensation the neverend and not can be on your foots because the movement make you fall. In japan the quake was 0,1Β° more and i read is a huge difference and the tsunami was inmediately, many people coudnΒ΄t run. I insist if some of ones can’t donate by internet, go to the red cross and pray, for the Japanese and for the rescue. Be careful fellows.

  • Ludotel - From Spain,we pray for them.There are no words what hapenned in Japan. The images are catastrophic.

  • Jamie - Praying and doing what we can. Thank you for the links.

  • Stacey - It’s so terrible. My heart sank when I saw some video footage of the quake on the news this weekend.. We plan on making a donation towards the end of the month.

    Thanks for posting this, I wish this post had as many comments as your others :/

  • Brooke Leigh @ First Avenue - The american red cross helped me get back onto my feet a year ago when I needed them. Now, they need me. It’s time to pay back & help someone else. We’ll be praying. We’ll be helping in anyway possible.

  • Dacia - Ashley, I am going to share this post on my blog, if that’s ok. Thank you for writing it.

  • amber - Thank you for posting this. I was going to go to different sites today to see where I could help. You did that for me. I love your giving heart. I know I can come here & be motivated even more to do what the Lord has called us to do. Thank you for that. Wishing I could do more too…

  • ingrid - thank you for posting this. i am sharing it on my blog

  • Joy Andrews - Thanks for posting and mentioning Japan.