Contest is now closed, Erin E. has the last counting comment

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately asking why I no longer offer portrait sessions or do weddings….and when I plan to start back up. This is a difficult question to answer, simply because I am highly sensitive to the need and desire for some moms to work outside the home. When a mom chooses to embrace a career or must work for financial reasons she can get all kinds of advice and opinions from others and quite frankly it usually leaves that mom feeling attacked or discouraged. I do not want this post to do that. I have several friends who are better moms because of the careers they excel in. I have several friends that can’t fathom doing any type of work outside of the demands of home. This post is not about whether a mom should or should not work, it is about why I no longer do sessions…it is about what is right for me and my family at this stage of life.

Two years ago I was juggling too many roles. I reached a point where I was just getting by in every area of my life, but never feeling like I was doing anything well. I was worn thin. I wasn’t the wife, mom, friend or me I wanted to be. I was constantly running. I was disappearing. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Something had to give. When we started my business we did it in such a way that we never lived off any of my income. We lived like a one income family so that I could stop at any point without the extra burden of financial loss. Two years ago when something in my life had to give, it was my portrait photography business. I have never for one moment regretted that decision.

I began teaching photography (SnapShops) at that point and this blog took a new direction. I contemplated ending this blog because I was no longer posting portrait sessions and posts started being more about my random life with kids. I figured no one would ever want to read any of that, then Meg left this comment, “who doesn’t like personal posts?! this is YOUR blog. i like personal posts!” So I kept blogging.

Now I blog about things we do as a family like hiking. Since I am no longer doing portrait sessions or weddings that means I am no longer committed in the evenings or on weekends. That also means I can pack up the swagger wagon at a moment’s notice and head out for hiking with the fam.

No longer juggling the demands of a business lets me fully live in the moments with my kids. Some parents can do both with ease and success. I could not.

I spend so much time chasing kids (one little girl in particular) that I can’t fathom summing up the energy to chase other kids for portrait sessions!

Do I plan on starting again anytime soon? Nope. Ever? Right now it doesn’t look like it.

I obviously love photography and it is a HUGE part of my life. I pretty much don’t let a day pass without picking up my camera. Do I miss my clients? Yes. Do I get jealous when I see their pictures on other photographers blogs? You bet! Do I regret my decision? Nope.

Taking a break from the demands of a business has been refreshing for me. I no longer feel like I can’t breathe.

It is like a dip in a fresh Oklahoma creek after a good hike.

In this refreshing period I have discovered I like blogging and I like teaching. For instance, the photo above was taken in manual settings. The photo below was taken on the fully automatic mode. She had just dunk her face in the ice cold water. It is a cute shot, but would have been better shot in manual. I like that a couple of times a year I can help others learn more about their cameras.

This time away from the business of photography has allowed me to get creative in other areas again as well. I am getting ready to take Red Velvet Art’s Small Craft online class. I can’t wait. Have you seen the teaser pictures for it? Just in case you haven’t look at this:

Rachel and Elsie are the teachers….such fun style. Christmas is coming up and with 4 kids the birthday party craziness is beginning. I can’t wait to learn some fun stuff for my kids and to use as gifts. SO SO SO EXCITED! It gets better. Rachel and Elsie said I could invite one of you to join me. It is online, so not like we are driving to class together, but how fun! So do you want to join the class? You don’t need to be a parent to do this class. All my local friends that NEVER comment…you better this post! I could never pick, so I’m going to do it giveaway style…here’s the details:

Prize: Participation for one in the RVA Small Craft online class

Contest ends Friday, Sept. 3rd 9:00pm US Central – contest is now closed

One entry per person, winner chosen at random

To enter: Leave a comment on this post telling me about the best class you have ever taken.

(if you want to comment on this post, but are unable to virtually attend the class just make a note of that in the comment)

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  • Jen - I just took the JinkyArt workshop and it was excellent! It was so inspiring but I would love to take the RVA class. Looks like so much fun!

  • Evie - i am so glad you didn’t stop blogging! i never new you before when you were posting your clients pics but i probably wouldn’t have looked twice! i love taking a glimpse into a mother of 4’s life. i have nothing in common with you, i don’t even know how to sew! but i hope to one day build a home, have kids and be able to stay at home with them. i love looking at what could be one day! so thanks! i LOVE your blog!

  • Alba - I fully understand you, and I fully agree with the expression “I felt like I couldn’t breathe”, it happens to me a lot of days. But I am one of these mums who is better mother because I work outside home, well, somedays 😉
    I love you teaching, and I really hope I will be able to join you snapshop on-line soon.
    My best class, I was doing Political Geography and it was not really my thing, but the teacher was amazing and really knew, and still he does it, how to make the pupils word madly. I think that the best classes are about the best teachers.
    I’ll be unable to join the class, but thanks in advance.

  • Dawn - This looks like so much fun! :) The best class I’ve taken was hosted by a friend. The setting for the class was beautiful, it was overlooking a lake. But the best part was that it was just a group of women learning to sew and make things for their little ones. I was encouraged, refreshed by socializing with other moms, and inspired to continue crafting! :)

  • Evie - just wanted to leave a comment, not enter to win!

  • paveiphotos - Best class? being that I went to my dream college…fashion institute..I can’t even begin to narrow down just one class! But…being photography related…I just participated in a CREATIVELIVE course with jasmine star….that was fun!! I love doing with craft projects…and working on my sewing techniques!

  • annie - Okay so I’m drawing from my college days because I’m a busy mom of three and I don’t have much “class” time. Growing up I always wanted to take ballet, but my parents couldn’t afford it and then the timing had passed. In college I bit the bullet and signed up…and loved every minute of it – I took it for four years, got on pointe and it was the first time in my life that I felt graceful. I miss it. It was awesome.

  • Bekah - Ashley, we just moved to Tulsa from the northeast. The woods in your photos are calling my name! Can you please tell where to find them? The Riverside and the parks here are lovely, but oh how I long for the woods!! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Pamela - The best course I have ever taken was a art course. Well, it was more like classes as it had no beginning and no end. We just went every Wednesday night and painted and drew (and ate dinner and drank wine). I loved it because it let me be creative, however since my daughter was born 6 months ago I had to give it up.

    I have however rediscovered my love of sewing and crafting and would love to do this course.

  • karen davis - the best class i have ever taken… was a “Children’s Art” class in college… it was an elective and I enjoyed every bit of it… this class looks Uh-mazing!! I’d love to be the winner!

  • laura - i respect you so much! and love seeing your example in how you love your family every day:). pick me for the class, okay?!

  • Amy - Best class? That is a hard one! I loved my infancy class in college. I also LOVED the Snap Shop I took a couple years ago! Things seem to have “clicked” after that! :)

  • laura - whoops. my favorite class ever….social work 101.

  • danielle - I think it’s awesome that you were to stay home and still be able to incorporate photography in your every day life. I love your blog just the way it is.
    Honestly I wish I could leave my day job behind…accounting isn’t very exciting AT ALL. Therefore my favorite class…I’m having a hard time coming up with one. I wish I took more photography and art classes in school and that probably would have been my answer!

  • Jodi - I am so glad you didn’t stop blogging too. I didn’t know about your site until it became personal. And it has lit the most inspiring fire in me! I love photography and never thought of it more than photographing my children and friends but your photography makes me want to take it to the next level. Learn and grow. Although starting a business would be nice. You summed it up PERFECTLY. I will do a little here and there but I love my family time too. I do envy those who can balance both but I definitely am not great at that. Okay….what comment was I suppose to say?

    Oh yeah, the best class has been my Heather Ross Sewing Class. She was so great to work with and taught me to be a more free-spirited sewer rather than a follow everything to the T perfectionist. It made sewing so much more fun!

  • amy - the best class i have ever taken was the prenatal class we took while pregnant with baby #1. seriously. never mind the college classes, this was useful info. not that it *really* prepared us for parenthood but it kinda did. and the teacher ended up being the lactation consultant on duty when i gave birth…a very wise woman.

    but this class looks awesome and fun and does not involve lactating…. : )

  • Tammy Kay - Great post Ashley! I’m so very thankful to be able to stay at home with my children too. I try my best not to take it for granted. The class looks really cute. I would say that the best class that I ever took was a Jenni Bowlin class in Alabama. It was wonderful. I’m a big fan of Jenni Bowlin.

  • Jen - i can remember some favorite professors but not many favorite classes…

    if i took more fun classes like this craft class i’m sure i would have more to say!!

    thanks for the giveaway!!

  • Corey Moortgat - I don’t have a specific “best class”, but my whole graduate education (I have a master’s in Art Therapy) was invaluable to me in life, even though I didn’t pursue art therapy as my profession. I only worked as an art therapist for probably three years post-degree, but I will never regret that education. It taught me so much about life and myself, and now as a mother, so much about kids and art!

    I hope I win; I’ve been contemplating this online class, and it would make my decision so much easier!!

  • Jenny - I loved many classes during my undergrad at Penn State University….but my favorite…had nothing to do with my major and was a cupcake class that I took my last semester of senior year….FlOWER ARRANGING! Ranks up there with the Ice Skating class I took as an elective during my senior year as well!

  • amanda torres - The best class I have ever taken was Science for the Elementary School Teacher. We did inquiry based learning and hands on activities the ENTIRE semester. I learned more about teaching kids in that class than any other.

    On a side note, I completely related to this post. The running around feeling. The being overloaded. The guilt. I loved teaching. For a long time it was my career and my ministry. Consequently, I knew it was time to lay it down. It was a right fit for our family.

  • allison - I just adore Elsie’s blog, and would love to win! My favorite class ever has to be swimming lessons as a kid – what a fun way to spend the summer :)

  • Erin - I’m glad you have found what works for you and your family. And thank you for letting us take glimpses into your life everyday!
    The best class I ever took was my 10th grade World Civilazations class. It’s what made me what to be become a teacher. So thank you Mrs. Anderson!

  • debra parker - favorite class. in middle school i took a t shirt painting class. it was so much fun and probably started my love for creating.

  • Elizabeth - Love your post for so many reasons. I have 3 under 4 and am considering leaving my very awesome full-time job to stay home. If I do that, I’ll need lots of ammunition in my arsenal, and this class would be so perfect. I need as much help as I get in this area. Thank you! I’ve never commented before, but your blog has been inspiring to me on so many levels (I’m a photographer and mom of 3 boys and I love to decorate!). In many ways, it has contributed to the direction we’ve decided to head in. The best course of my life: a photoshop course.

  • beth - the best class i have ever had was the prenatal class my husband and i took before having our first child. although it scared us silly, it also made us super excited and anxious for our little one to arrive. plus we got to see a newborn get his first bath.

  • Rebecca Schultz - I’m so glad you didn’t stop blogging. I appreciate your insight in your choice to stop your portrait work. As a working mom, there are days I struggle with work. (Reading your blog on those days doesn’t help.) But I know my daughter and son will appreciate whatever choice I make and that choice can be made at any time. Thank you for sharing with all of us on your daily blog. I always look forward to seeing what you and your family are up to.

  • Jenny - the best class i have ever taken was an art history class in college. the professor was a norbertine priest that had traveled the world; i have never met someone with more passion. it was amazing!

  • Tracie - I took a film photography class several years ago and loved it. I had a terrific teacher and learned a lot. Most of what I learned has been transferred to the digital medium now!

  • Katie - Not a craft class, but I really loved a college course: Persuasion, Social Influence and Compliance Gaining. With a title like that, how could you not love it?

  • Amanda Fuentes - The best class I’ve ever taken is Zumba at the YMCA. Its exercise, salsa and booty dancing all in one. I love it!

  • Mandy - I took a class at church called Lectures on Faith – LOVED it!

  • Mallory @ R. Simple Life - The best class I’ve ever taken? Probably my high school drawing class. It was so long ago, but it taught me that I really CAN draw! I’d like to take more art classes, especially photography, but I’ve got to get a camera first!

    Also, if you happen to see this Ashley, where were those hiking pictures taken? We just moved to Enid (from Colorado), and we’re dying for something like that!

  • colleen - I have been blessed to take many classes. So,one of my favorites would have to be an Old Testament class i took about 15 years ago when i was single. I am a preacher’s kid, so i “knew” the Bible but this class brought it to life in a way i had never experienced. I still love and apply so much of what i learned there in my daily life and Bible reading. Sweet stuff.

  • Shanalea - It is never easy to make a decision like that, but I am sure your family appreciates it.

  • Erin Jones - What a wonderful post!! My favorite class in college would have been any hotel restaurant management class that allowed me to cook. My favorite class since college would hands down be snapshots!! I love not being a prisoner to automatic mode!! Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • kristi - in college I took a childrens clothing class, we just learned how, and sewed kids clothes! wish i had kids then, or kept the clothes for when I did! but it was fun!

  • Jen - Hmmm, the class I remember the best was a summer art class given when I was in elementary school, at the teacher’s house. I still remember most of the projects even though it was at least 25 years ago. Ok, I feel old now… :) Thanks!

  • Alex Chell - Thank you for this post. I love your honesty. I am a full-time-stay-at-home-part-time-working-freelance-designer mum. I can so totally understand the position you found yourself in. “I wasn’t the wife, mom, friend or me I wanted to be. I was constantly running. I was disappearing. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.” I know that feeling far too well. I have had a few months off recently and I have LOVED it! Unfortunately I have to start dividing myself again for a while longer but, hey, I’ve enjoyed it while I could… I’m glad you kept blogging. I’ve only come across your blog recently and I’m glad I have. Thank you for sharing you and your beautiful photography of your life and family. xxx
    PS I wish I could take part in the classes but due to time differences I can’t :-(

  • Rachel J - My favorite class was in college… developmental psychology. It taught me SO much about kids & how to really understand their behavior. And to give them a break! I still review notes every now & then as a parent now.

    Love the post. I recently picked up a couple of weekend shifts as a nurse to add to the income, but it’s not as good as I thought. No way I could be away from my little one full time every week. I know others can & are better, but I wouldn’t.

    And I love your blog because it is real & personal.

  • Lauren - The best classI ever took was whatever art class I was in at the time! I’m a graphic designer and artist so that one is a natural for me.

  • meg duerksen - i am so glad you didn’t quit.
    :)

    the best class i have ever taken…..all the art classes i had in high school?
    driver’s ed?
    i really dread actual classrooms.
    i want to run out the door.
    so a virtual class may be perfect for me.

  • Bernadette - favourite course was ethics during my nursing degree. Always proud of it too because i got a distinction grade.
    Don’t worry about what anyone assumes about what you should or shouldn’t do with your time. It’s your life, your family and it’s whats right for you and them right now. You’ll never get this time over.

  • Jill E - i think it is so amazing that you are able to raise your family and teach on the side. you will always have a business because you are an amazing photographer but being a mom is such a big deal and the most important job anyone could have. though i can not say i would not love for your to photograph my family.

    as far as the contest my favorite class was the class i took in alternative process, platinum, palladium cyanotype it is such an amazing art form and really changed how i produce images.

  • Amanda - I don’t know that it’s the BEST class I have ever taken, but my most FAVORITE class that I’ve taken is the first swim class that I took with my daughter when she was 8 months old (she’s now almost 15 months). It was so absolutely wonderful to be holding her while she was exploring the pool and meeting all the other children.

  • ashley jensen - My favorite class was First Aid/CPR certification.

  • sarah - oh my goodness I’m taking the Home Ec class now that Leanne, Rachel and Courtney are teaching. I love it! I wanted to take the Small Craft class too, but budget constraints only allow one class this year.

    The best class I ever took would have to be the anatomy/physiology classes in college. I loved them and still think of them all the time. The human body is one of God’s most fascinating creations to me. It was one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken, but I loved the fact that I actually passed.

    This is getting long BUT – I feel bad that it seems you have to defend your decision to not work, and at the same time I totally understand. I get the feeling like some think it’s a “waste” not making money off talents or knowledge. Or why we live in rolls our mothers may have worked so hard to surpass. Instead we should embrace the blessing of choice. I’m so happy for you to be blessed with making your best choice!

  • Bailey Hanrahan - The best class I ever took was a pottery class in high school. I was able to become friends with people I never would have had the chance to talk to before and be creative too : )

  • Mandi Smith - Hmmm, that’s a tough one, I really liked most of my business classes that I took in college…no one in particular. However, I really think my favorite class would be one of your Snap Shots classes :) I wish I would have taken advantage of that when I lived there, but I’m patiently waiting for your online version :)

    And good for you for doing what you needed to do for YOUR family! I don’t think that anyone could ever say anything against you for that…and everyday that I read your blog and see the photos of your family, you can definitely tell that they thank you for doing that as well!

  • Amanda - I loved sports management in college, does that count? I’ve never taken a class related to craft since home ec. I’d love to learn some fun crafts to do with my busy 4 year olds! Thanks for the chance.

  • Jenny Joy - My favorite class was English my sophomore year in high school. That particular year, the focus was to learn to write in many different styles. I loved it and hated it at the same time. It didn’t come naturally for me at all. However, I still think about how that class challenged me. It made me grow and stretch. Growing and stretching are good. :)

  • dawn - I love your blog…it’s the first one I look for in my reader…the best class I ever took was, sewing in high school, I didn’t think so then but am so thankful I did now!

  • tessa - I loved this post. I am so thankful to be a full time mom as well. I couldn’t imagine missing out on everyday moments that will soon be gone because the babies will be kids and then teenagers and before we know it they will be grown up and moving out. I love being able to be completely absorbed with each moment. My favorite class I have ever taken was teen living (basically a home ec type of class). Yeah, I haven’t taken too many great classes, but this one was great because it involved all things cooking and creating.

  • Chandra - This class looks super fun! The best class for me must be one of the early sewing classes that I took to learn to sew for my girls…sewing has never been the same since!

  • Melissa - I have to say the best class yet was taken in college, but I would LOVE to take a photography workshop or crafting class! BTW, that college class was about Native American literature and story telling. Very cool.

  • Natalie - So the best class I have ever taken was not a craft class, but a history class in college. I am not a huge history lover but my teacher was amazing. Never opened a book, just spoke as if he was at every historical event. I hope I can bring history to life like that for my kids, although I will probably need a book cause I can’t remember a date to save my life :)

  • allison - i took a photography class in college and it was definitely the best class ever. now if i could only remember what i learned…

  • Lindy - Best class I have ever taken hands down was a pottery class with my husband. It was fun to create things together. It didn’t hurt that I was the professors favorite either :)

  • Aja Vaught - Hmmm…I think the best class I have ever taken was a mentoring class by Barb Uil http://www.jinkyart.com.au/). It was online, but it was amazing and to be taught by someone with such creative talent was eye opening to me. I learned to see photography in a new light. I actually won a photo contest on her site and the prize was a bludomain website. That’s the only thing I have EVER won, but a pretty cool thing to win! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Red Velvet and Elsie’s blog so this would be a pretty cool thing to win as well! Plus, now that all my kiddos are in school, I have LOTS of free time on my hands. Almost too much so I need to get to crafting! Thanks :)

  • Jess - The best class I have ever taken…probably my short two hour class that taught me how to use my sewing machine. It has opened up a whole new world of “crafting” for me. Someday I am going to come and take your Snap Shop class though…then, that will probably be the best class I have ever taken! :) The Small Craft class looks fun. My family gave me the Home Ec class for my birthday a few weeks ago.

  • Cara @ Mischief and Laughs - Ashley, I am just starting my photog business (between caring for our 3 little ones.) And I’m trying desperately to find a place between “too much” and “not enough.” We don’t need the income from my work, but I want to do it to help me feel more useful. To get a little bit of a break from being mommy. Because it’s something I enjoy.

    But the last thing I want to do is leave my family’s needs behind.

    I really hope I find this balance.

  • Holly T - I took a cake decorating class at hobby lobby in Pearland, TX. I had the best time getting to do something that was just for me.

  • Erika C. - I am not a Mom, but I am an Aunt to 2 nephews who just turned 2 thta I absolutely LOVE! I would LOVE this :) …My favorite classes were all of my leadership classes while I was working on my major (Organizational Leadership @ WSU) because it was so personal and challenged me to grow as a leader. I also loved my Business Writing classes – just bc I feel like I have actually gotten to use what I learned.

  • Hannah Bunker - The best class I’ve ever taken didn’t have anything to do with photography. I was a theatre major in college and the best class I ever took was directing. We had to direct a 15 minute portion of any play. It really helped me to find my niche in college…and this is cheesy, but also in life. It was so exhilarating and educating and it helped me realize that having a vision for a show or a play also pours into real life and helps you be creative in your everyday life and pushes you to think outside the box. It was a great experience.

  • Caroline - The best class i ever took was Elsie and Rachel’s TELL YOUR STORY art journaling class. it has helped me discover myself in so many ways…
    my ability to craft, my internal creativeness, myself (emotionally and psychologically) my inner self, sensitiveness to little things around me…

    yea, it’s very much the best class i’ve ever attended!!

  • Natalie - Your blog is my absolute hands-down favourite! The best classes I ever took were sign language classes! It was so refreshing to go and sit in a room of complete silence for two hours communicating with our gestures movements.

  • Laura - You’re awesome & I think it’s great when people make decisions that make them happy instead of sticking it out just because others think they should. I’m not sure if you realized how inspiring you are to other people! I’m getting ready to have my first child & hope that I can be a fun mom like you!

    The best class I ever took was and intro to interior design class my junior year of college. As an accounting major I was stressed and every class was SO serious. I took the interior design class on a whim to have some fun while in school. I was by far the least creative person in the class, but at the end of the semester received one of three A’s from the professor for having had the most “growth” as an ‘artist’ since the beginning of the semester. That class made me realized that you can be a boring business person at work AND be a fun & creative person at home. I try to focus on making sure I mix both my nerdy/boring self and my fun/creative self so I don’t lose the benefits of either.

  • Kara - Best class: I took an ethnography class while I lived overseas. It was very enlightening! I’m not sure how well I would do in a craft class, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I’d probably enjoy it!

  • Elisa B. - The best class I ever took was an archery class. I found something I like that I never thought I would try. I don’t shoot anymore, and I never became an expert, but it sure was fun!

  • Janine - I think I’m currently in that class.. I’ve been struggling with infertility for the past 2 years and learning to deal with pregnant friends, nosy strangers and well-meaning family has been difficult at times. I am learning every day to appreciate my relationships with my hubby, my amazing supporting friends and WONDERFUL family. God will bless us with a baby in his time. I’ve always wanted to do a RVA online class! My sister’s baby is due in Feb and I am in desperate need of funky ideas! notch notch wink wink… ;o)

  • Julie - This class looks like so much fun! The best class I’ve ever taken is a Light Measurement class while I was in photography school. It taught me how to find good light and use it well for portraits.

  • Nancy - It was a social psychology class. Not because of the material but because that’s where I met my husband. I looked forward to sitting by him every class. Who would have known we would get married and have 2 beautiful girls together :)

  • Elizabeth - I know it sounds kooky..but the best class I ever took was…”the misplaced modifier!” I was 24 years old and I still remember all the lessons that I learned in that basic grammar class! Sometimes the basics are the most important….just like in life!

  • Laura - Best class hands down has to be an english class I took years ago but it wasn’t simply reading and writing but creating. That included using photoshop and that’s what really got my creative juices flowing and peaked my interest in graphic design. Thanks for the great giveaway, I’d love to participate since I do party/wedding planning as a side business.

  • Giovanna - I don’t know how to explain me. I want to say so many things, but for me English was always dificult.
    When I said that I’m a housewife alsay said it with a sound almost shy. I alway see my mom works, and since few time I see this job (because is a biggg job) different.
    I love to see my children play to each other, smile, shout, and so many things that they do each day with me. Alway when my husband come to lunch I have a new thing to tell him.
    I told you ever. Your children is going to be very happy whe they see back at time.
    I’m hope that you give us more information about online classes, how you mention it once.
    I love your pictures and your blog and you are an inspiration to me.
    Now.about this pictures. I loooove the one where your little boy is with mouth wide open :), and the last shot too :).
    I have a new camera now. I told you about it. It is my first reflex, but now I feel that I need more, another lens :).
    Well thanks for share this post with us. A hug.

  • Allison - I enjoy your blog too, and an glad you didn’t stop!!! It is hard for me to pick the best class I have ever taken. I like to learn and have had many classes that helped me to become the person I am today! However, I can say that the worst class award is a toss up between Algebra 2 in highschool and Physics in college….yuck!

  • Jessica Lynette - My favorite class was a full day Photoshop class I did in the spring – learned so much and had fun venturing out from my normal “stay at home mom” routine :)

  • shawna - just want to thank you for this post. i have a feeling one just like it will be coming to my blog soon. You, just being you, are inspiring.

    & my fave class was love & marriage from a catholic perspective (i am not catholic, but i took it in college) best words of wisdom i know came from this class: “love is a decision.”

  • Amy - I just recently took a class like you Snap Shot class. I had my DSLR for over a year and only knew to take pictures in auto mode. Now I’m taking pictures like crazy and still struggling a little but getting better everyday!

  • Kelly - Adore the red polka dot hat! Is it an original or purchased somewhere?
    Love your blog too!

  • Liene - I love this post where you write about personal stuff. It takes a lot of courage to change something in your life like you did. Wasn’t an easy one …. I can imagine. Hope to read/learn more about the way you have travelled to arrive at that point of giving up the portrait photography…

  • Mary - Can I ask where this hiking trail is?!

  • Jennifer - I took an InDesign workshop not to long ago, it was super awesome!

    I am glad that you kept up your blog! I read it every morning :)

  • Christine - The best class I ever took would be the SnapShop Class…I learned how to use my camera to its maximum ability. Now I can photograph my family and get great shots!

  • Jessica B - I love to see mom’s who can honestly say that they love staying home with their kids! I am currently working on some projects that will allow me to transition home from the workplace so I can be with my kids… when I have them! I think my favorite class would have been Business Policy in College. It sounds boring, I know, but it was such a challenge!

  • ashlee - the best class i have ever taken was the last childbirth class i took. It really had nothing to do with childbirth and everything to do with empowerment.

  • Lindsey White - Great post! I struggled with balancing my career and life with our new baby and ultimately gave up my career. Do I miss it? Sure. But regret it? No way! There is so much I would have missed. I’m glad to hear there are other mama’s in the same boat, as it was a decision I struggled with.

    The best class I have taken was a cupcake decorating class – it was just for me! I love baking, so it was a great way to get me out of the house and let me be creative, which is something I don’t always have time for while chasing after our baby girl! :-)

  • Leah - My best class was a speech class I took in college. I hated every minute of it, because I was terrified of public speaking. I just dreaded the days we had to give speeches in front of the WHOLE class. Getting through that, made me feel like I could conquer anything! I still don’t like speaking in public, but atleast now I know getting through things you dislike can only make you stronger.

  • Kari - My favorite class was about 20 years ago when my grandmother took me to her oil painting classes each week! We created some of the neatest paintings and I will never forget those times with my Grandma! I would love to take the online class! I just got nominated Homeroom Mother at my daughter’s class and need clever homemade craft ideas for class parties & such!!! {great post by the way!!}

  • Whitney - I took a photography class (my first!) last fall and it was amazing. Very simple and basic, but helped me learn about my SLR camera. I would love to take an online class. Thanks for the offer!

  • Karla - I think the best class I’ve ever taken was a theology class…which is why I now have two degrees in theology…and no job! But it’s my choice and I don’t regret it either!

  • Camille - I took a “book binding” class in college, even though I majored in Accounting. Best decision ever! I found a hobby I love and still do when I have time. I love making hand-made journals and albums. And plus, accounting didn’t let my creative energy flow like it should :)

  • Donna - I took a quilting class a few years ago. I don’t particularly like to quilt, but it did spark a love for sewing in me.

  • Trudy - A couple years ago I took Jessica Sprague’s Up and Running with Photoshop. Just learning the basics opened up a whole new understanding of the infiinite possibilities in Photoshop. Elsie’s class would sure come in handy with 5 kids :)

  • Autumn - One my favorite classes I have taken was a tamale making class. Because my girls are half Mexican, we have tried to incorporate some Mexican traditions, one of them now being making tamales every Christmas. It is fun and yummy and the girls love giving out tamales to people for Christmas, and they also love freezing and then later eating what they made throughout the year.

  • signe - The best class I ever took was Guitar II in college. I have always played an instrument (piano and clarinet) but wanted to learn something that I could whip out and jam on. After taking the intro course, I decided to take Guitar II to force myself to have the experience of singing and playing in front of a live audience. It was an awesome accomplishment for me since I am not a singer not to mention that the teacher is one of the best in the area and is truly a very talented man.

  • christina larsen - I took a pottery class in college. I learned to using a spinning wheel to throw pottery. I loved it. I wish I could do it again. Such a relaxing outlet and fun.

  • jill b. - A couple of year’s ago we had our first child so we had the great pleasure of taking some parenting classes. Not that the class itself was “wonderful” but laughing with my husband and realizing it was the last thing we’d do just the two of us made it was of the best and most memorable classes I’ve ever taken.

  • Lindsey Jo - the best class i took was a children’s literature class in college. not only was my teacher a tiny, cute, funny lady, i got to re-read all the teen novels and children’s books from my childhood. it was a lot of fun!

  • Brianna B. - When I was about 10 my mom made me take a sewing class. She has always been an excellent seamstress so i was excited to learn to be more like her. When the week was over we got to do a little fashion show in our new duds and I felt so proud walking around in my little a-line skirt with the uneven seams.

  • alejandra - hi, this is alejandra, from argentina! I found your blog one month ago, and I can not skip reading it! I already made lots of small projects.
    do you have another reader from so far?? it would be great to take the course because it is online, I do not have to drive from Argentina to Usa. LOL.
    I am the proud mom of an haitian baby, (now a 3years old boy), you can read my history here http://www.adoptandoenhaiti.blogspot.com (if you can read spanish).
    ah, my favorite class was my scuba diving course I took in Mexico, 20 years ago . Oh, am I that old???

    hoping to take that great art course!!!!

  • Susan - Your SnapShop class!!! LOVED everything I learned and it brought my photography hobby back “alive” again! :-)_

  • Kate A - I’ve been debating about whether or not to take this class (I feel exactly the way you did before you stopped working…and I only have one baby!) …but I would LOVE to take this class with you!

    The best class I ever took was an art class my senior year of high school – I can’t remember what the specific topic was, but it didn’t matter because my teacher, whom I was very close with, let me do whatever I wanted. We’d look at and discuss other artists work and throw around projects that seemed like a good fit for me or in an area that needed more work. She let me work on my own projects, in my own time frame. During this class, she encouraged me to go to school for art. Even though I had always been creative and art was my passion, no one had ever actually said to me ‘pursue it as a career’. But with her encouragement, I did! I’m a graphic designer and artist and absolutely love what I do.

  • Allison - My comment isn’t just for the online class, but I want to know if you will ever do a continuation of snapshop classes. Originally you didn’t have that intention, but I’m dying for more information on photoshop and the next level of photography. Can you please consider doing more advanced classes?

  • Rachel C - My favorite class was an adoption seminar. It really opened my eyes and changed my heart about open adoption. It changed my life forever.

  • patti - such a wonderful post. thank you!! :)

    favorite class…hmmm, probably when i went to film school, i loved the lighting class the most.

  • Heather - the best class i have taken was the photography workshop with kamee june that i got to attend with julie from joy’s hope. it was the first time i used my camera on manual and have never looked back. i would loooovvvveeee to take this class!

  • Nicole - The best class that I’ve taken is Intro the Photography at the local City College. I work full time and wanted a new hobby so I signed myself up for the condensed photography class during the summer and loved every minute of it. I was challenged in ways I never thought would ever happen and it stretched me so much. I’m still learning and just have to be patient when pictures don’t turn out how I want them to, but enjoying every minute :)

  • Jennifer Waldrop - The best class I ever took was the CPR class my hospital required to take Liberty home from the NICU. Not b/cit was fun or stimulating or even interesting, but b/c it meant I could possibly save my baby, and that I finally got to take her HOME!

  • Amber Nicole - I am so glad your still blogging!! Yours is the only one I check on the daily! I am a new momma to a boy and find your blog both inspirational and uplifting. It’s full of good ideas that I can’t wait to try!! So thank you!

    Ps I really want to win this one!

  • Beth - Ashley,
    I don’t remember how I found your blog, but love to check it all the time. I am new to photography and have gained so much just from your tips. Keep it up! Thanks for the class opportunity, would love to take it “with you.” :)

  • Kirra Sue - My favorite class…wow! That is so tough because I was a bible major at Moody Bible Institute and pretty much every class rocked! My Psalms class and Old Testament Biblical Theology class though were pretty much the best classes I’ve ever taken. Thanks for the chance to win this- what a great giveaway!!!

  • Danielle - I love taking all sorts of classes and learning all sorts of new things. I keep trying to convince my husband that he should buy me a new camera and fly me down to one of your SnapShops! One can always dream, right?! Anyway, my favorite class was a combination cooking clean class I took recently. It promotes eating locally grown food and having the entree meals focusing on fruits and vegetables. The food was incredible, the recipes easy to follow and it made some exotic fruits and veggies more attainable and easier to add to our diet!

  • KerriHD - The best class I’ve ever taken are the classes I’ve taught – no I don’t have a big head or am stuck up… not at all. What I mean is I feel I learn lessons when I teach lessons and the more I teach, the more I learn about people and how each person has a different need of communication. Life lessons are the most important of all!

  • Caitlin - Cute cute girly! I’ve been eyeing that class. 😉

  • Brit - Mine was an online photography class because I finally learned how to use my dslr, and yes, knowing how to shoot in manual makes all the difference in the world! I’m still practicing and learning more every day, but that’s the fun of taking these wonderful online classes…they give you the tools to go out and try things on your own!

  • Michelle H - My favorite class I’ve ever taken would have to be Drama in high school. It taught me to be free and how to adapt in situations and not to be so shy. My drama coach was such a wonderful man. He truly shaped the person I am today.

    If you had asked this question in a few weeks’ time I have a feeling I would have had a more difficult time answering it though, as I start my birthing classes on the 14th. I am so excited to learn all about how my little dude will be joining us at the end of November!

  • CHRISTY - ooh I’d love to win this. My favorite class was a class on photography with a local camera club. It got my interested and more involved in photography.

  • Stacia H. - Thank you for this post. As a working mom, I am currently struggling with many of the same feelings you describe. Especially the not being able to breathe part. The hubs and I are starting to think more creatively so we’ll see what happens when baby #2 arrives.

    The doors of online art/photography classes is just opening for me (fingers crossed for a spot in yours) but my favorite class so far has been a quilting class I took a few years back. Although my fabric tastes have changed dramatically since that quilt was made…

  • Sarah M - Yay! I am actually already registered for this class as well, I LOVE their classes, but if I win I would give away the spot to a friend of mine who would love to take it! My personal favorite class was a fun poetry class (yup, I’m one of those English major/poetry nerds :) that was on avant-garde poetry. For presentations there were absurd productions and poetry (that didn’t make sense) aligned with music….sounds strange, it was, but the teacher was awesome!
    Sarah M

  • Sarah M - I loved all of my English classes in college! Too hard to choose. If I win, I will pass the spot along to a friend who’d love it…since I’m already registered for Small Craft! 😉

    Sarah M

  • Jana - Best class as a kid was a painting class that made me feel like an artist. Best class as an adult was “Experiencing God” that took the pressure off me finding God in big, fancy, spiritual ways and just reminded me to just be available in what he’s already doing. Pick me. Pick me.

  • Carla - i am currently in the home-ec sewing class (by Rachel and LA and Courtney) and it’s so fun! my sewing skills are becoming off the hook!

  • Melanie Alsdorf - I LOVE the photo of your sweetheart in the water – just precious! My best class was a stamping/card making class with my sister – mostly because of the fun we had together.

  • Rena Frey - My jazz class in college was amazing. *sigh* Just thinking about it makes me miss dancing.

  • annalea - best class ever? i took a hort class in college (totally not my major) that seriously improved my plant knowledge and gardening skills. invaluable. but not sure it was the best. (i hate coming up answers on the spot. . .)

    ooh ooh – i think it was the modern dance classes i also took in college. super fun. also totally not my major. wonder why i graduated with like 70 extra hours :)

  • Jen - I just took my first sewing class two weeks ago and loved it – I’m signed up for another in 2 weeks. The 2nd best class I took was my infant class – the teacher said “have dad be in charge of bath time” – best advice ever – love your site

  • Jodie Cowan - Thanks for your post today. It’s nice to hear other people who are passionate about photography be able to openly talk about prioritizing family life to balance their world. My favorite class was RIPE by Heather Bookout. I was reminded that God created me to be creative. I love photography, but I also love other creative pursuits, like sewing, scrapbooking, and well pretty much anything crafty at all. Thanks!

  • Lizzie - Oh I would LOVE to take this class! My favorite class I have ever taken is a class I took this summer called Sign to Voice Interpreting. I have been struggling with my ASL interpreting and this class was perfect for me. :)

  • Katie - This class looks awesome and I’d love to join in! My baby is due in January so it’d be fun to use this time to create some fun things for when it gets a little older! I’ve never done a craft class before so this would be my first!

  • jody - The best “class” I took was my engagement weekend class w my fiance (now hubby)..it was incredible. Away on a hill, writing & talking all weekend & looking into the eyes of the man I was about to marry…11 years later the moments are still with me. Powerful class!:)

  • Jenn - That does look like fun! My favorite class I have ever taken was a calligraphy class in high school. It was super fun {and a breeze as far as HS classes go!}

  • Carol V. - I love your post today. Good for you to do what is right for you and your family. I wish I would have had that wisdom when my kids were smaller.
    My favorite class I have ever taken was a couture sewing class in San Francisco. I made a wedding dress for a dear friend.

  • Kim - The best class I ever took was the class that I discoverd my passion for health and wellness and found my career:) I wish I lived closer (I’m in D.C.)so I could take one of your snap shots sessions, you ever think about doing an online class yourself?

  • Johanna - I’m new to your blog, but have been enjoying looking through your old posts. My favourite one so far is “rice night”. I told my husband about it and I think it is a really great way to teach young ones about giving and thinking of others.
    I’d love to join you at the small ones class. Too bad we can’t drive together- I’d pick us up a yummy treat to take ;o)
    the best class that I ever took was an art history class that focussed on First Nations (Native American) Artists. It was so eye opening and challenged my views about my own country (Canada).

  • Lacey McKay - “All my local friends that NEVER comment…” Ha! I might be included in that. I always want other people to win, so I rarely comment. But the few times I’ve commented on giveaways, I win! So we’ll give it a whirl.

    By the way, I love this post. I can totally relate to everything you said, especially the part about trying to do too many things and not doing any of them well. I’ve thought about closing up shop (pretty much since day one) because it was never in my plans to be a working mom! But this job is tricky because I’m working from home! I’m also debating whether to start up some classes! I have so many people asking me to do it! Should I take the plunge?

    The best class I’ve ever taken? Hmmm, I’d have to say my art history class at OSU! I loved every second of that class. I also LOVED my Family Relations and Child Development class. Learning about the way little kids think never felt like work to me!

  • Megan H - I love your blog, so glad you kept it – reading it is always a bright spot in my day. The best class I ever took was a Cake Decorating Class in the months before my wedding. Great stress reliever and I found something I am really passionate about.

  • arlene - I went to school in Hawaii and the best class I’ve ever taken was a nursing management class…mostly because the professor loved to teach outside under huge shady trees. I would LOVE to take this class with you! I am expecting baby #1 in 11 weeks and trying to sew as much as I can before she gets here. I could use a few more tricks up my sleeve as she will be born in November and my mind is already boggling with birthday ideas – what to do in November, in a small town, for a little girl, every year (can’t exactly do the same harvest party year after year)?

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - First of all, thank goodness Meg talked you in to keeping your blog… I never would have ‘met’ you :)

    Also, thank you for treating this subject so delicately. As a working mom, it is very easy to feel discouraged sometimes at some of the chatter out there. I sincerely appreciate you encouraging all women, no matter their situation.

    Best class ever? I’d have to say the Dale Carnegie course I am in right now… Amazing. Runner up ~ a college course about Wordsworth. Oh I love his poetry!

  • Holly Lesue - Geez, my BEST class EVER? It would definitely be a tie between photography 101 and the Hula class I took at college in Hawaii.

    Photo 101 taught me how to use my camera, and now I only ever shoot in manual. I love it because I take much better pictures of my three girlies now.

    Hula was such a fun class I took with my BFF when we lived in Hawaii. The best thing was that it counted as PE credit! Plus, two haole girls doin’ the hula? That’s comedic gold!

  • Erin - The best class I ever took was in college. It was called Stimulating Creative Behavior. The class was just for education majors and was designed to help us think outside the box in terms of what we do in the classroom. We did some crazy things, including a shoe project that was to be dedicated to someone we loved and/or admired. I took the class with my sister, so that made it even more fun.

  • Crystal - My favorite class would have to be my workshop for The Association Of Pet Dog Trainers. Yes, I know, it’s not a craft or art class but it is one of my great passions just like crafting! :)

  • Paige Rodriguez - Oh my gosh, what a generous giveaway!!! Love it! The best class I ever took… hmm… personal finance in college. I sent an email to my professor about 5 years into my first job out of college and told him THANK YOU for teaching me to put away money in my 401k even when I thought I didn’t make enough to… I think I made his year with that email. :) Love your blog so much still… thanks for making it so fun to read.

  • Urska - A photography class. Unfortunately not yours but I am hoping to take an online one when you start offering. I agree with you that pictures in manual always turn much better. Fingers crossed my comment is the lucky one.

  • Julie - The best class I have ever taken was at UCO. I was a Vocal Performance major studying Opera and my voice teacher Mrs. Williams could inspire me and teach me better than anyone else ever has. I looked forward to her class every week. I still listen to the cd of her vocal exercises in the car. My daughters sing along as well!

    I adore your blog. It has inspired me to write my own! Bopha turned me on to your blog when we worked together and I’m so glad she did. We actually used to be neighbors and I didn’t even know it! I kept looking at your pictures and thinking, that looks so familiar! When we moved back from Edmond the only place we could find to rent on short notice before school started was the sad little yellow house at Jackson and Main. I think your house is perfect! So many times we would be taking a walk or coming home the back way and I would think “Thats what I want! The house with the porch and a little bit of land, tucked back just far enough to feel like you are away from the hustle and bustle but close to it also.” I can’t wait to get a new camera and take a SnapShop. I love seeing places around our town that you photograph at (like the ones on Main St when all of the construction was going on). I read your blog first thing in the morning while I drink my coffee. It’s a great way to start the day!

  • Jessica Haskett - Best class ever…hmm…it was NOT the photography 101 class I took in college- that was HORRIBLE. Didn’t learn a thing. Soooo, the best, hmm, probably a tennis class I took in college. I’ve been playing tennis for years and years, so it was exciting to actually get college credits for doing something I love! :)

  • Michelle - I have been day dreaming about taking that class! The best class I ever took was yoga in college. My university was set up differently in that you paid a flat fee if you were a full-time student. . . so I took yoga ever semester. It was a great way for me to focus on taking care of myself while I was so caught up in everything else going on at school.

  • Ruxi - The best class I’ve ever taken was a Strobe Photography class in collect. It’s high speed photography where we took pictures of bullets shooting a playing card. Super AWESOME!

  • Sara - I would have to say “The marriage without regrets” class I took with my husband before we got married. I think it grew us closer together than we were already. We learned to keep God the center of our marriage and everything else will work out.

  • Elle - When I was in High School I made a series of decisions that led to me going to Broken Arrow’s Margaret Hudson Program (for pregnant and parenting teens). I took a series of Parenting Classes which were amazing. Although I was only 17, I felt prepared with all the knowledge I needed to properly care for an infant and toddler.

  • Laura - Congrats for following your heart!

    Best class i’ve ever taken…my first ‘bootcamp’ type exercise class about 6 months ago. I’ve never been able to keep myself active for an extended amount of time…but since taking this class I’ve gone from couch potato to training for my first 5k (3.1 mile) run. With just over a month to go I’m feeling strong and confident and ever grateful for taking that first class. Now I have lofty plans to compete in a triathlon next fall.

    Laura

  • jo - i swear i’m not kissing up but i think the best class (that i have yet to take) will be your online snap shots class. i have soooooooooooo much to learn about photography and my camera and i know once i learn some tricks and tips it will change everything for me!

  • Brooke - Oh, I’m totally going to sign up if I don’t win Friday when I get paid! :) The best class I took was a photography editing online course, it was very informative, well constructed, & easy to follow

    It looks like you guys had a fantastic time hiking, I love love love that you chose your children over your career even though you take fabulous photographs.

  • Abi - photography or sewing.

  • Samantha S. - The best class I’ve ever taken, seriously, was a {ahem} breastfeeding class when I was pregnant with Noah. I made my husband take it with me and I’m so glad I did… I totally forgot things that he remembered! A close second was the photography class that he and I took which resulted in my {finally} giving into a digital camera. I’m looking very much forward to SnapShop going online!

  • Noelle - I can really relate to your post! And, I hope you never stop blogging because I look forward to your reminders to create, be patient, and find joy each day. Hmmm, my favorite class was an art history class. I loved learning all the terms and being able to look at art and understand it on different levels. Keeping my fingers crossed…

  • Christian T - This may sound crazy but my favorite class was 11th grade Chemistry. I loved it! I got a 100% in the class. I took extra Chem classes in college “just because”… Am I now a chemist, nope. I probably should be. 2nd runner up would be high school 3D Art. How a girl can love both chemistry and art is beyond me, but I do.

  • jessica - Awesome! :) Well, probably the best class I’ve taken was a diversity class in community college. It gave me new perspective towards all of humanity, I suppose. So grateful for experiences that remind me to be more loving each day.

  • Elisabeth - The rolls under Firecracker’s arms in the bathing suit picture are just too much. How do you keep yourself from kissing those right off? I took an awesome class in business school that was all about “right brained thinking.” We were teamed up with design students from SCAD and had to design and market a theoretical product to solve a problem–it made me want to stop cold and re-enroll in design school:). Small crafts would be a fun start!

  • Raychel - The best class I have ever taken would have definitely been my History 107 class in University. Eastern European History. So sooo interesting, so much we don’t know! I still have all the textbooks and extra reading material and notes that I flip through every so often (It’s been 5 years)

  • Kari - I don’t think I could pick just one class as a favorite (I love taking classes!), but one of my favorites was typing class. I know it sounds weird, but it was actually a fun challenge to learn to type without looking. After awhile, my friend and I started writing each other notes in a secret code. (We typed everything one row up on the typewriter). I loved that class!

  • Lisa - YOUR blog is my favorite blog and I didn’t even know about it 2 years ago : ) Grateful for your day to day life which can be so very inspiring because of how much you love your life : ) The best class that I have ever taken is the one I am enrolled in right now. Life101. I have my BAE in Special Ed took great courses there, some on-line, some at workshops…but the very best is to learn from what life has to offer and what you choose to do with it. I love my life and my job as a mom, wife and friend. Funny, I’d love to offer classes on being just that.

  • Kendall - I think the best class I’ve ever taken was my church history class the first semester of Seminary. I LOVED it and it ignited a passion in me that I never knew was there. I close second would be every single art class I had in high school and college. They made me unafraid of trying new mediums, experimenting with techniques and taught me that creating is LOADS of fun.

  • Shannon - I have been eyeing their class! I am currently taking, or will start actually DOING the projects in September, the Home Ec classs that Rachel is helping with. That is probably my most fun class that I can think of right now! I have been out of college for too long. Maybe bowling class with my hubs in college? That was fun too!

  • Kelleysbeads - Good for you for taking back your life to be the best You/wife/mom/friend you can be. So much to be said for claiming your sanity and living in the moment as you are. That juggling act is tough.

  • Kristen - Jessica sprague’s up and running online class started me on the basics of Photoshop and I will never look back! Her stuff is awesome!

  • Jentre - Best class I ever took was art history in college. It made me really want to travel and see all of what I was learning about. I really appreciated our trip to Italy a few years back so much more.

  • Heather - Best class ever? Typing class in high school….that was before email and home computers, and I had no idea at the time how important it would become!!!

  • ria - The best class I have ever taken is cake decorating with my mom. I loved having time with just me and her. With five kids in the family I didn’t get much of that when I was young. I loved having a big family though.
    I love your blog it is so inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Ria

  • Christy Pair - My fav class ever was childrens literature in college. Served me well as a teacher and now as a mama.

  • Kimber - i’m SO glad you didn’t stop blogging! i found and fell in love with your blog long after you stopped your business part. you, your pictures, your cute children is what inspired me to get a good camera and LEARN for my family’s sake (who doesn’t love amazing pictures!)

    my most amazing class was a child development class I took at BYU, LOVED it!

  • Danielle - you go girl. i love this post.
    and i would really love if i won this class, too!

  • Rachel - Favorite class… I have gone to school for a lot of years so this is hard to answer… At the moment I am thinking about the class Foundations of Christian Thought by Dr. Cosgrove. It is a freshman requirement at Taylor University. It taught me so much about how our culture and faith shape the way we see ourselves and the world.

  • Kristine - Wow, being the 172nd person to comment, my chances are pretty slim. But I thought I’d still try. It doesn’t hurt. :) The best class…probably “Methods of Teaching Reading.” Not only was the information super helpful for when I did teach 5th and 6th grade reading, but the teacher had such a passion for literature that seeped into my heart. :)
    *PS-Please keep blogging (when you can, of course). :)

  • Barbora - The best classes of my life where those during the 1st grade when I learnt to write and count – the only things you really need to do anything else. Besided, I am very happy you share these personal posts with us. Your photos are a great inspiration.

  • monica franklin - the best class i have attended is every day with my daughter. i am a stay at home mom too and i have learned so much about myself and just life in general since her birth. she is the best teacher in being patient,being kind to others when you realy don’t want to be, being a good friend and to just be yourself. we both read and enjoy your blog and so glad you didn’t stop blogging !

  • Kacey - How awesome!! I would love to take their class! The best class I’ve ever taken was a Georgia O’Keeffe large canvas painting class. I had never painted on canvas before (much less on a large scale) but it was such an amazing experience. I loved it. :)

  • Christen - I loved my online photography class, but have never taken a crafting class, much less online!! Sounds like fun!!

  • katie - this post showed so much grace and wisdom. i am in a similar boat (though not nearly as popular or successful) so i appreciated the way you explained your reasons.

  • Jennie Frake - Looks like a fun class! I think my favorite class was this Art Camp my parents put me in. Looking back, it was kind of a sketchy place. The sculpting teacher’s name was “Slash” if that tells you anything. Anyways, my favorite was charcoal drawings. We had the freedom to paint, draw on pretty much anything in the building. I miss being a kid!

  • Michelle Gray - My favorite class I have taken was a pottery class in college (OBU!)…I loved getting to create pieces of pottery, and I hope one day I can sit down at a wheel again!

  • stacey - when i read your post, it’s like you read my mind! i am feeling the same way…stretched thin, kids suffering because of late nights up editing client image…i love how honest you are :) a rendering class i took in college was for sure a favorite…who doesn’t want a great excuse to get up in the morning, drink coffee and color :)

  • Ruth - The summer between 5th and 6th grade, I took a sewing class. It was such a random nerdy thing to do at the time, but 22 years later, I am couldn’t be happier that I know how to sew!

  • Mary Beth - The best class I’ve ever taken? I especially loved a class I took on a major world religion…it was so educational and full of amazing people and instructors.

  • Amber Grover - I feel extremely blessed as well to be able to stay at home with my sweet children! I have a photography business that I am blessed to have as well, but often feel choked when I become the “YES” woman. I am learning to say “no” and walk in confidence in that decision! The best class that I have ever had was Skips Summer School 2010 in Vegas. It was amazing to hear 13 of the top photographers in the industry and hear the passion behind what they do. Very inspiring!

  • emily anderson - oh man. sign me up for this, pa-lease! i have wanted to take this class since i saw it advertised, but money is tight.

    my favorite class ever? any one of my dance classes that i used to take.

  • jenny - well, this post could not have been any more timely for me. Thank you for sharing your heart. I have been feeling the way that you have described for some time now but have not wanted to give up my photography and art business that I have on the side, but also knowing that one of them (if not both) needs to go in order to be the mom and wife that God has called me to be. Seriously, I am right in the middle of this and then I read your blog today. 😉

    Now, onto my best class. It has nothing to do with crafting and everything to do with pretending that you are Angelina Jolie! In her movies at least, she is one “bad” chick! 😉
    My favorite class was a kick boxing class that I took for a little over a year. I absolutely loved it! It was a great work out and was so much fun to feel like that because in real life, I am not that kind of person.
    If I ever have the time to take that class again…watch out Angelina because kick boxing combined with giving birth 4 times equals one potentially tough mama! 😉

  • Georgia - Since I am a grandma wannabe, I love seeing your personal posts about your little ones and I also enjoy your other posts, DIY, random, etc. It is sort of my daily no calorie treat. I agree you made the right decision and glad you are standing strong to resist the temptation (begging probably) to get back into to doing photo sessions. I understand that right now it doesn’t look like you will ever get back into it. But before you know it, they will be grown and starting lives of their owns. Then you may want to return to professional photography, but I know you will look back and be grateful you didn’t miss those short years of time with breathing room with your kids. (oh, give the class that has the little ones and time to enjoy it!)

  • Katie - What a great idea for a class, ladies. Ashley, I love your post. While I work a little bit outside of the home, I definitely resonate with what you wrote. Isn’t it nice to have found something that works well for your family, at least for the season? I think so.

  • Merideth A - i love your blog. i am so glad you kept blogging. your family is adorable.
    and i also love rachael and elise’s blogs. i would love to take their class (with you).

    one of my fave classes i took was a calligraphy class. i took it when i was ten and i still remember how awesome it was.
    ok random picker… pick me!!

  • Cory - Oh my I would love to take this RVA class! I knew I couldn’t afford it, so I haven’t signed up. I would have to say that the best class I have ever taken was a summer art class in middle school. It was lots of fun & we did tons of creative projects.

  • Merideth A - i just totally spelled their names wrong… i have messy typing. woops.
    sorry elsie and rachel.

  • Rachael B - The best class I have ever taken a cake decorating class in June with my mom. It was at the local craft store but I learned so many fun and easy ways to make frosting flowers, borders and other designs! That was the best class because I was able to eat my creations!

  • Kimberly Lyons - THANK YOU! Thank you for making me feel like I am not the only person who can’t do both photography and family. I can’t balance it all, but it seems like everyone out there has four or more kids and still able to do it. I can’t and I struggle everyday as to whether I should start back up again or just do one once in awhile like I have been doing. I think I will continue to enjoy just focusing on my family! Thanks for your inspiration.

  • sheridan - Oh I’d love to win this class! I’m taking the Home Ec class now as for classes the most recent would be actually your snapshop class.

  • Rachel - I love this post! I am a photographer for myself. Mostly the day to day bits throughout my home or on our journeys with my kids. Recently, people have started to ask I take their pictures. Without fully intending to be a photo business, I have done a few people. And am completely flattered! But what I have realized is it is TIME, commitment and does take away from my day to day photo pleasure. Now I am struggling with figuring out what is right for me. Thanks for giving me your perspective.

  • Amanda - well, I’ve never actually taken a craft class of any kind. I would love to, tho, as I’m starting to get into my crafty side with 2 kids at home! on the subject of classes… I did take a couple photography classes in college and LOVED them!!! We actually shot film and learned how to develop and print b&w. It was so cool (and time consuming) to be able to control each aspect of the whole process!

  • Jill R - Can I really leave a comment and not say that AA’s Snap Shop was the best class I’ve ever taken?? Of course not! It was such a fun day.

  • Sophie - I’m so glad that you’re feeling more accomplished in your life now that you’ve stopped shooting sessions. Though selfishly, I must say that I am slightly disappointed you don’t ever think you’ll start again; it’s always been my absolute dream to have you shoot my wedding some day.

  • Ashley - SOOO exciting! What a fun giveaway!!!

    And totally undertand what you mean about staying home. I wouldn’t have it any other way :) Isn’t it the best spending every day with your babes?!

  • Amy Leigh - I love this post. I know exactly how you feel, and your post has me feeling a lot better about my recent decision to quit my job to stay home. I had been working two jobs because my husband lost his and I was feeling like I was fading away.

    The best class I ever took was actually today, it was my son’s second day of preschool which I was able to participate in. It was amazing watching my little guy let go of my hand and finally start to interact with the other kids. To watch his face light up when he started listening to his teacher and get excited about learning. It was absolutely worth staying home so I no longer have to miss those moments.

  • lacey - such an encouraging post! was just visiting with a girlfriend last night about letting go of some things to be in the moment with our kids! My favorite class? I think my first yoga class – I haven’t had a tension headache since!

  • Lindsey - I love your blog! So glad you didn’t stop. The best class that I have taken was taken with my husband: Bradley Birthing Class. We now have 2 amazing boys!

  • Julie - I took a mexican food cooking class once at Tulsa Technology Center. It was delicous and I have used the recipes over and over.

  • Shannon - My photography class in college!

  • Katie @ explanation required - This is one class I’m definitely signing up for, whether I win or not!!

    The best class I’ve taken was actually a photography class. It taught the absolute basics, but to someone who’d never used a SLR before it felt like so much more than that. I’m still very much an amateur, but know that I’d end up with even less impressive pictures if it weren’t for that class.

  • Meredith - My favorite class? High School Home Ec. we had the best teacher -she was full of wisdom. I learned how to sew, cook, bake, hospitality, entertaining, and etiquette…it was a great class and I think of that teacher often and wonder where she is now. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  • Amber - I have fond,and strange, memories from my Creative Writing class in college. My professor once brought in Oklahoma roadkill he had scraped off the highway. We were working on smell imagery. I also loved a class that I audited while my husband was in seminary. An Inductive Bible Study class on the book of Mark. Incredible!

  • Emily - The best class I’ve ever taken? Ballet class at Pacific Northwest Ballet when I was a little girl. I took an adult class there and still had the same wide eyes when I saw real-life ballerinas.

  • Rachel - The best class I have ever taken was an art class in Florence, Italy during my study abroad program…amazing! If I don’t win, I think I am still going to sign up for this class…i’ve been pondering over it lateyly…xoxo

  • Stefanie - Best class was Marketing 101 by Prof. Miller at UT Austin. Life changer! Boring but true.

  • efrat - My first tennis class…. ooooh wow that was amazing!

  • Michelle - I think my best class I took was actually a Geology class back in college. Would love to take a knitting class though.

  • Summer Crosbie - The best class I ever took was an adult photography class. I couldn’t understand my camera’s manual and I needed help.

  • Carolyn - I love your blog because you’re honest, funny, down-to-earth and even though I live half a world away, I feel I can relate to you as a mother and the desire for greater balance and the ‘need to breathe’. Not an easy task whether you’re a mother engaged in paid work away from the home, or exclusively at home working (without the recognition of the outside world).
    Anyway, keep doing what you are doing, because it’s so inspiring! I have been learning a lot through your blog about capturing the everyday moments with photography. Trying to learn how to use the manual setting on my camera (why are some of my photos coming out so blurry?!?!) but still I persist, and am encouraged by your blog posts (and photography tips!) Sorry to be so gushy, but keep up the great work!

    Carolyn (Brisbane, Australia)

  • dianereeves - I loved the Art Journal class I took from Rachel and Elsie, it is just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing. I would love to take their Small Craft class too. It looks like so much fun!

  • Sarah - I completely understand how you feel. I felt it at the beginning of the summer when I decided to stop doing markets and close down my etsy shop for awhile. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get a moment. And I wasn’t as nearly as busy as you, and I just have one kid, so I can’t imagine the kind of ‘not being able to breathe’ moments you were having…

    My favorite classes in my adult years (cause if truth be told most of middle/high school I did not really like most of my classes) , would have to be your Snap shop and a sewing class I took last year. Your snap shop helped me to feel much more at ease with manual mode and taught me those little things I just couldn’t figure out. And the sewing class I took was excellent and because of it, I sew now! :)

  • MelissaM - Off course, the BEST class I ever took was your Snap Shots!!! I will use what I learned to capture life’s moments for the rest of my life.

  • Lisa - Seriously? I could win a craft class? Does it get better than that? Please, please, please let me be the random number! The best class I ever took was an introduction to interior design class my freshman year of college. All my rearranging of furniture and hanging things on the walls of my 1970’s apple green bedroom could actually be turned into a bachelors of science degree?

  • June P - The best class I have ever taken was the group dynamics class in college. It was an elective, I didn’t have to do it, and it was on the worst time slot ever! But I went and I know the things that I learnt there has helped me become better at being me.

  • casey - Your kids are so adorable. I could stare at their pictures all day long. I invite you to visit my blog for a giveaway I’m hosting!

    http://oklahousewife.blogspot.com/2010/08/surgery-bed-rest.html

  • Asha - I dropped everything to be a mom: my job, my appearance, even my hobbies. I know is sounds crazy but I’m OK with it, it’s what was right for me and my kids and no regrets. I keep telling myself, there will be a day when I can focus on me and that day is coming up….Sept 7th, my son will be entering 1st and my daughter pre-school (5 days a week, 2 hours a day). I have a crazy long list of things to focus on for two hours a day. Sewing and scrapbooking is at the top of my list. I’m such a huge fan of Elsie and Rachael’s. I would finally have the time to take such a course, I would never have been able to attempt before. Sorry so long!!!!

  • Donna - The best class I have ever taken? It may have been the ballroom dancing class I took with my husband before we got married. Fun times!

  • Vita - My best class – architecture history lessons with a very different people and cool teaches.

  • Asha - I forgot to tell me favorite class! It was a sewing class that was taught at JoAnn Fabrics (we made pillows with zippers on the side). My cousin asked me to go with her and I loved it so much, I’ve been sewing ever since.

  • Kara - Good for u for doing what is best for u and ur family. I think sometimes society makes us feel like we need to be doing 100 things but at the end of the day we need to learn to prioritize and sometimes that means giving up some things that we love. My son is 18 months old and I am finally starting to realize it is ok to say no to things for now or for years to come :)
    My best class ever was an English comp class in college. I never have been much of a writer but that semester I learned so much and truly fell in love with telling a story from beginning to end. Plus I had an AWESOME teacher who made writing so much fun. :)

  • Colleen - I loved your post today. So glad you can breath and enjoy life with your kiddos. I only have one and can’t really think of doing anything other than staying home with her.
    This class sounds amazing! I’d love to win. Fingers crossed!

  • tara pollard pakosta - a photography class that I took, I loved developing film!!!
    I love your blog so very much!!!
    I would rather see photos of people’s children, than clients photos any day, they are so much more personal and beautiful and REAL! I did photography for a few years and ended up burned out and hating it! so glad that I quit to focus on my familY!
    this class looks FUN!
    tara

  • Cherish Stockdale - the best class i have ever taken would have to be, cooking…it was the first class I actually LOVED going to! crossing my fingers!!!

  • Jenny B. - I am so glad you kept blogging. I discovered your blog through Kara Paslay’s a few months ago, and I loved it immediately! :) I know you are a humble lady, but I have to tell you that your blog is my absolute favorite out of all the personal, crafty, and photography blogs I read. I love seeing your photos and all the fun things you do with your kids. I’m always inspired to work on my own photography AND do more fun stuff with my boys. Thank you so much!
    P.S. You can leave me out of the crafty online class contest. I don’t know the first thing about sewing, and don’t have time to learn at the moment. :)

  • Jenny B. - I forgot to tell my favorite class, too. :) I recently took an online digital scrapbooking class by Tiffany Tillman at ReneePearson.com. It was all about using layered templates and adapting them to your own digi-scrapping style. It was AWESOME!!! (I’m still not entering the crafty class giveaway… I just wanted to share about my favorite class). :)

  • Tanya - The best class ever was my photography class in high school, where I realized I had a good eye for composition and I found out how a darkroom works. It was so fun and laid back, too.

  • Zeze - First, I want to say you have such a cute family and you are very talented!

    My favorite class was an Art History class I took in College and we sat in a dark room looking at slides of amazing creations.

    Being so inspired from all this amazingness around me I would love to win this so I can begin to make amazing things also :)

  • Shea - We have a painting class here in Alabama called Sips-n-Strokes and I love getting to go to those classes. There may be similar classes in OK, but its a class full of women (and maybe a couple men). Some drink wine and some choose any other drink of their choice, but one thing we all share is laughter. I am really looking forward to participating in Snap Shops online when available!

  • Ashley StGermain - I’m taking the best class right now- “Life.” It’s really hard, but at least I know I’m passing when my kids tell me they love me! :)

  • robyn - what a FUN looking class! the best class I have ever taken….probably a wedding floral design course I took last fall. I learned SO much!

  • Karen - best class I’ve ever taken… probably a knitting class I did last year at a really low point in life. I needed to be reminded that I was still me- not only my husband’s wife and mommy to my spunky kids. It was amazing to learn something new that I never thought I could learn and to have that sense of accomplishment. It was cheaper than therapy :O) and good for my heart! I would LOVE to get to take this online class to get some more fun ideas of things to make for my kids!

  • Jeannette - I’m sure this has been said a million times, but we LOVE your blog, so thank you for not stopping!! And, as far as fun and useful in my life now – it wouldn’t have been any college classes! My favorite was SnapShop :) I really want another one!!

  • Brooke - Don’t you love that LOCAL friends never comment? It’s pretty funny, most of my comments are from people far away. I have no idea what the best class I”ve ever taken was. I had a really great sports marketing class back in my business days. But honestly, learning from other photographers by sitting, watching, observing, asking, etc. is my favorite way to learn.
    I think I can say that if I came to a snap shop, it just might be my favorite class I’ve ever taken :) I would love to meet those sweetheart little kiddos.
    And kudos to you for making a choice that’s right for your family, and not putting down others who choose differently. I have thought a lot about what I will do after children, and I know staying home is where the Lord has my heart. But I think many people play the working role SO WELL.
    Happy Tuesday to you.

  • Erica - The best class I have ever taken would probably be my american history class in high school…it was because of the wonderful teacher I had, and he is one of the few that I remember…about you quitting your buisness..I would have done the same. Family is always more important. I have to work full time and wish I could be a stay at home mommie. Its a hard job, but so much more fulfilling.

  • Marit - Oh my goodness! I would LOVE to win this! I am itching to create these for my kidlets and nieces and nephews!

    My favorite class ever? I’m not sure that I could pick only one, but I loved my anatomy and physiology classes and, especially, gross anatomy. It was a testimony to me of how beautiful and amazing our bodies are. And although I get frustrated with mine, and it weighs more than I would like it to, it is still a brilliant work of art– and I’m grateful to my Father in Heaven for it.

  • Angela E - Alright, you made me finally comment! I love your blog. And I love that you’ve kept blogging the personal stuff.
    The class that really stands out in my mind was one from college. It was called School Art and taught by this world class artist (who was amazing) to probably 20 female elementary education majors. It was 2 hours for 2 days a week. He taught us how to teach art to elementary kids. I have every project and worksheet from that class and I actually used the information while I was teaching those ages. So fun.
    Thanks for letting us see parts of your life. Your blog is refreshing :)

  • Eileen G. - I’ve never commented on anyone’s blog before, but yours rang so true for me I had too. 4 years ago I left my full time job to spend more time with my 2 children. Before I quit, my life was crazy, travelling, rushing, never feeling like I was living in the moment. I struggled (my ego did) with still having something that was “mine”. So I started a family photography business and it kind of took off. My hope was that this would be a “balance”. But the hard part about portrait photography is that it does take so much time. I read another blog by a woman with 7 kids who runs a great photo business and seems so happy and balance. I only have 2 but I just couldn’t do it. I kept staring at photoshop telling my daughter to “just hold on a minute”. The minutes add up to years and it was flying by. So I too am taking a break. It is so hard to say no and to see friends pictures by other photographers. But someone once said, “anyone can take pictures, but you’re the only one who can be a mom to these 2 kids”.
    Sorry for the rambling post. Good luck to you.

  • Shannon{photos by shannon} - I love your blog just the way it is! I’m too far away to benefit from your photography or you classes, though I would if I could! I get a lot of inspiration from your blog, and not just with photography either! Unfortunately I’ve never really taken any classes even though I want to!

  • Stacey - Wow. I love all the Red Velvet Girls and their super fun style. This class would be perfect as I have a little one and I want to do my DIY deals, especially for her.

    The best class I ever took was the Reading class in my Methods block of college. I am a certified teacher and my professor that semester really inspired me to light a spark in my students. She gave me the tools to help my students feel as excited about reading as I am. Not to mention, she recommended and read us really awesome children’s books. That was such a good time. :)

  • Michelle Davies - The best class I have ever taken was a sports photography class. Lots and lots of info that left me so excited!

  • Courtney Connelly - The best class I have ever taken was my sophomore year in high school… it was my first Spanish class, my teacher was Mrs. Binns. That class sparked my love, interest and passion for the world around me and expanded my thinking to well beyond Russellville, Arkansas!

  • Monique - Favourite class… in University it was “Moral Education”. It was refreshing after 4 years of listening to profs say that everything was relative and we can have no voice to our students. More recently it was a Memoir writing workshop I took this year. She gave great ideas on how to tackle them daily and made it way less overwhelming!

  • tawnya - the best class I ever took was a ballet class in college. i’m not a ballerina or even a dancer, but i felt so free in that class! hats off to new experiences!

  • Abby - This looks like a lot of fun! I took a Beyond Snapshots class earlier this year, it was fantastic :)

  • veronica - ohhh that looks like fun. I would love this!
    Best class hand down was a Child Psychology class in grad school. I have never taken an online crafty class.

  • Sarah - The best class I ever took in college was a children’s literature class. We got to read different children’s books in different genres and then pick a children’s book of our own to read for the class. Super fun!!

  • May of MayDae - Oh my goodness I LOVE Elsie Flannigan and Rachel Denbow!!! I never miss a post! I also have 3 young kids, so this class would be perfection!

    My favorite class I’ve ever taken? Hmmmmm….childbirth class? Umm, NOOOO:) It definitely has to be my first-ever sewing class! We made a cute coin purse, and I still have it:)

    I really really really hope I win this!

  • Trista Hertz - My favorite class was Karen Russell’s photography class, which I was lucky enough to take last fall. I learned so much and love photography even more because of it. I took a class from Elsie and Rachel last winter and it was fun. Would love the chance to take this one! Thanks!

  • tonia - The best class I have ever taken was an an aqua aerobics class at an aerobics convention. The instuctor made the class so much fun that the time flew by:)

  • Becky - Wow- this class would be so cool! I haven’t had much opportunity to take many classes… but I’ve taken a few wedding flower design courses as I own a flower store and they have been pretty fun!

  • Cara - Very fun! Thanks for this opportunity. Your blog is SO incredible! The best class I ever took… well, I was a math major, so nothing too exciting there! Probably Japanese when I was a little toe head in first grade. I would love to take a photography or cooking class now, though!

  • AMS - The best classes I ever had were free: it was when my grand-mother showed me how to bake an apple pie, or how to knit, for example. There were no schedules, the classes came when needed, when there was an opportunity. I wish I could have gotten many more of these, and I intend on passing along to my boys everything she taught me.

  • Rochelle S - My favorite class ever was a photography class. I learned how to use an SLR and develop in the darkroom! So much fun!

  • FP Wear - This looks like a blast! I think that I’m ready to do a few more projects outside my comfort zone, so this could be a really great stretching exercise for me. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • FP Wear - nuts! forgot the ‘best class’ part. Pregnancy brain wins again!
    I really enjoyed the japanese woodcut class that I took 4 years ago, but couldn’t finish. It was a different skill for me, but one that adapted to my style nicely.

  • Janelle - this just might be the push i need to use my sewing machine for something other than paper :)

  • Kristi B. - Karen Russell photog class!! loved it! would love to win this class!!!!

  • Julie J - the best class was the drawing class I took in college. I remembered how much I loved drawing and how much art meant to me again.

  • monique - thank you always for your daily inspiration! im so glad you didnt stop posting. my favorite class was a woodworking class i took while i was working in an unfullfilling job I made a beautiful tray that i am still so proud of!

  • Amy - Best class I’ve ever taken? Beginning Tap my senior year of college. I needed the extra hours to make a full schedule for my scholarship. I didn’t dance before and I haven’t since, but for one semester I put on my tap shoes every T/Th and it was awesome. Six years later, my tap shoes still hold a spot on the shoe shelf in my closet, peeking at me and begging me to shuffle step just one more time.

  • carrie presley - I just loved this post today. I’m a crafting, sewing, momma of two , born in the great state of Oklahoma, and would love to join you in class!

  • Heather - I’d have to say that while I’ve loved some of my photography classes, none have been as life-changing as Bible Study Methods with Howard Hendricks at Dallas Seminary!

  • Tara S. - the best class i have ever taken is an online workshop that taught me how to use my DSLR and shoot in manual mode. now i take pictures of my kids that are WAY better than they were in auto mode :)

  • Jill - The best class I have ever taken was an interior design class offered through our local community college. It was hardly work, as we went on weekly tours of different homes in our area. Yeah, sounds hard, huh? The most challenging thing was trying to read the directions to each new house!

  • Michele - I just recently sent my SIL to your blog – she’s due any day now with her first and is thinking of becoming a photographer so she can stay at home. I thought once I quit my paid job I’d do freelance work but I decided that I wanted to fully be home and fully be present in the life of this little boy that God had given us. I have never regretted it. I like to say I’m retired. :)

    The class sounds really fun and is probably the kick in the pants I need to start doing more crafty wise!

    My favorite class? Probably the first one I took after graduating from college. One that I took because I really really wanted to, not because I had to so it would ‘look good’ or so I could graduate. I got an A.

  • Lyndee - my favorite class ever was in college and it was field biology on horseback. I still remember more things I learned in that class than any other! :)

  • Abby - wow!! thank you this post crept into my heart :)

  • Sarah Balzac - I went to culinary school as a class and not a career change. I’ve always known how to cook, but I wanted to learn to get creative with my food and in order to do so I want to learn the hows and whys of the food world. The whole six month experience was unforgettable and I will be forever grateful for my time there. Bon Appetite and happy crafting!!!

  • Katie - Ashley… please don’t EVER stop blogging, ok :)
    My fiance and I took a christian marriage preparation course earlier this year. We loved how we could take it together, how it brought us closer as a couple, allowed us to discuss issues and strengthened our marriage-to-be :)
    The RVA class looks so fun (I love sewing for little ones and rachel and elsie are so inspiring)but couldnt afford to give it a go right now… :)

  • Ashley - The best class I’ve ever taken was when I took photography while studying abroad. What could be better, visiting Venice (as well as Milan and Berlin, but Venice was my favorite) while taking photos and getting college credit for it?

  • Orkanda - Hi, I’m from Rio de Janeiro – Brazil and I follow your blog daily…The best lesson I ever had was a decorative paint class where I could learn more about colors, textures, techniques and I could use my creativity … were few hours of pure fun and delight ….

  • kyla hailstone - I took the RVA summer camp and loved it!! It was so much fun, I actually took a couple projects on a camping trip so my oldest daughter and I could craft together. Thank you for the great giveaway!

  • Tasha - How fun! I’ve never taken a crafting or photography class though I’ve always wanted to. I guess my favorite class would be one of my philosophy courses in college….I’m a dork I know. I’ve followed Elsie’s blog since I first started scrapbooking about 6 years ago. Love her stuff and am fortunate enough to live in the same town so I can’t wait til her new shop opens up Halloween weekend!! I’m just learning how to use my sewing machine and would love to join you in the class.

  • Yvonne - Best class ever: Online workshop “unravelling” with Susannah Conway
    As a mum of three with a husband that works and travels a lot and when you are often overwhelmed you need that me-time that so often escapes your daily routine. This e-course was for me to find back to me and it also included the children in the progress. I just loved it!

  • Callie - I’ve seen Rachel post about this….the class looks so fun! The best class I’ve taken was “ice skating” in college. Very fun, and I learned a lot…plus, I got to pretent to be Kristi Yamuguchi!!! :)

  • Allison - The best class I have ever taken online is actually Home Ec that is going on right now!! Rachel, Le Ann and Courtney are so much fun in this class!!! :)

  • Jennifer - I am currently taking the home ec class that rachel is a teacher of, and I love it. Definitely my favorite class so far. I want to sign up for the rva class but as a homeschooler I need the funds elsewhere. This would be a super exciting win for me.

  • marcy - This post really hit home with me.
    It’s how I’m feeling, but can’t put into words!
    I’ve taken a few classes, but it always seems that i don’t do the projects. Oops.
    The last one i took was Debee Ruis’ spray paint class.

  • Amnah - All through out high school I wanted to take a photography class, but being the most popular elective it was always full. In college I finally got to enroll in Photo 101 and haven’t looked back since…

  • Kathy Reid - I can’t think of a favorite class I have taken, but I would love to give this one a try.

  • Stephanie - The best class I’ve ever taken would have to be oil painting. I have not taken any classes in over 10 years how sad is that. I love to learn and need to take some time to do so.

  • amber - Would you consider a conference a class? I learn A LOT. Ok…I’m considering it a class. A Pastor’s Conference we get to go to once a year. The BEST “class” I’ve ever been to. Refreshing, life changing, & perspective changing…every year.

    Also…my tumbling classes as a kid. :)

  • Trisch - I’m the opposite from you. I have chosen to open my own dental office and my husband stays home. I still think having a parent home was the best and most difficult decision we have ever made. It’s hard to miss meeting my son’s teachers and not be there when he is sick. However, I know he is in very good hands. I’m glad you blog about your life. I probably wouldn’t check back as often if you did not. Actually we went to highschool together, but I feel like I know who you are now. It’s so good to see your creative ideas. I tell myself if you can make it with four kiddos then I have no excuses. Eventhough I work all day, I’m pretty sure your job is much harder than mine. Keep up the good work. You inspire me!

  • traci - Probably the best class I ever took was a Thermodynamics class in college. I had put it off because of the ‘fear factor’. But once I was in it – I GOT it! and it was then that I knew I could do the work and learn the stuff! I was just as smart as the ‘next guy/gal’ and this stuff wasn’t so scary anymore. It gave me just the confidence I needed!
    BTW – thank you for your blog about your life! I love it… and read it everyday.

  • Ranee - best class I’ve ever taken was a culinary arts woorkshop where we learned all kinds of new cooking techniques and got to eat our homework! the small craft class looks amazing!!

  • Jamie - The best class I ever took…hmmmm…that’s hard. It feels like ages since I’ve taken a class, so I’ll share the best Bible study I ever took instead: Lady in Waiting. I’d read the book years earlier, but did the study as a single adult. My teacher/mentor was a lady named Celeste and she’s probably the coolest/sweetest woman I know; definitely a wonderful example to model after. I hope I win!!!!

  • Miriam - Oh! Oh! I’ve been reading both Rachel and Elsie’s blog for years and they’re always coming up with the cutest ideas! I would LOVE to take this class to make fun things for my bajillion nieces and nephews!

    My favorite class I’ve ever taken was a pilates class in college. And that theater class….and the drawing one. And also maybe the volleyball one. Basically, I like electives :)

  • tobi d - Best class was a bread baking class. I don’t care who you are everyone likes freshly baked bread!

  • Eve - I took a basic camera skills workshop a few months ago and it changed my world. I realized how much I wanted a nicer camera and I have fun every taking photos now. I am totally grateful for the moments I’ve been able to capture, especially using my Nikon D5000’s video feature.

  • Maggie - My favorite class was a ceramics class that I took in middle school. Thanks!

  • Karmen - Helloo there :) I’m a Singaporean girl turning 18 on the first next month and I gotta say i’m really inspired by your blog, so keep posting yeah! Whether is it photography, crafts or caring for your kids, you’re living a life I dream to have in the future!

    You’re really blessed and continue to be joyful for the blessings in life! Don’t let what others say put your spirits down! KEEP POSTING I LOVE EM!

  • Tina - any kind of baking/cooking class…oh wait, i LOVED LOVED LOVED my b&w film class in college! i could spend HOURS on end in the dark room working on negatives and prints. many times i would go in at night and come out in the morning. sigh. i love art classes too, so i can’t pick just one…i like a lot of them :)
    BUT anything to do with a friend is way more fun!!

  • Teri - Best class I ever took—flower arranging my last year in college! It was a well known “easy A” class, and it was full of big, burly football players asking eachother if the pink or purple was better for their delicate design. It is a skill I still put to good use!

  • Heather - The best class I’ve ever taken was History my Jr year of high school, it was one of the first times that I realized I could learn and have fun in class… sad that I was 17 before I learned that huh? I hope that in a year I can say the best class I’ve ever taken was your snapshop… looking forward to hearing your Spring dates :)

  • Jenna - I love that you’ve had the courage to do what’s best for you and your family. I’ve totally had my eye on this class and would love to win! Best class I’ve ever taken was probably a creative lighting photography workshop.

  • Kristin - I have so been thinking about taking this class. I am on the fence because I am having my first child in December and don’t know how much I will use from the class. :) I should probably just do it since it looks so great! :)

  • Devon - Best Class? Um, what a hard one! I would have to say that it might be my Early Childhood Development class. While it was almost 10 years ago that I took it, I still am remembering things today that I learned from that class – especially since I am now a mommy of two little ones.
    What a great opportunity Ashley! If I don’t win, I think that I will sign up anyway! Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Marykay - I love the way you express your decision to stay home… so much wisdom and grace! I am having a hard time pin pointing my favorite class, but I guess I would have to say a Vocation class that I took in Grad school. I learned so much about myself and who God created me to be.

  • JoLynn - Your blog is so much fun to look at/read/drool over your wonderful pictures! Would love to learn how to take better pictures someday. But right now I’m too busy being a mom to 3 little girls, who would love these fun small crafts! :) Thanks so much for the giveaway.

  • Lilly - best class – grad class in civil rights. enlightening and inspiring and i still remember what i learned.

  • Dina - loved spanish class…not that it does me any good living in a bilingual country that has no use for spanish!

    I have wanted to take some photoshop classes but with a traveling hubby, nights are difficult for me to try and get away. I’d love an online course!

  • Jessie - Favorite class (or series of classes) was cake decorating from Michael’s Craft store. It has come in so handy each and every birthday for my two daughters–I love that I can still make time to make a home made and originally decorated cake for them! I often spend weeks making frosting flowers, icing, etc. My husband thinks I’m crazy going to all of the work–but he knows I do it for them and someday they will look back and remember each and every cake. =)

  • Chris - The best class I ever took was my first ever knitting class. It introduced me to a new world of creativity. That was over 10 years ago and I am constantly in search of new projects. Would love love to take this craft course with you. With a newborn in my life and definitely more to come, this would be invaluable!

  • Elisia - I dont think I have ever taken a class that I loved. I would love to take this one!!!
    By the way… I love your blog and your photography. You have a great talent!!!

  • Katie - My favorite class was an art class I took with a few of my sisters. It was nice to get out of the house and do something that I love a couple hours a week! I would LOVE to be able to take this class!

  • Kenna S - Okay, you’re going to think that I’m sucking up, but I’m really not. The best class that I’ve taken was your Snapshop in the summer of 2009. I got a lot of great info to put to practice with my new Canon Rebel that my sweet hubby bought for me. But, the best part was getting to take the class with my younger sister, Megan, and my mom, Sandi. They drove 3 hours from home to take this class with me and it was so fun to get to learn alongside them. Thanks for sharing your talent with us!

  • stephanie - i loved college. i loved my major. i don’t think i could narrow it down. but i can tell you what class was the most memorable…art class when i was 10yrs old. my friends mom taught the class and he had to be our model! i will never forget it!

  • jen - best class…. human development: early childhood! there isn’t a day that goes by that i don’t use something i learned from that class – especially staying home with my 2yr old!

    btw, your post is such a blessing. i was forwarded it from a very good friend with a simple ‘read’ in the subject line. i recently (as of a week ago!) decided to give up my career out of the home to give 100% to my home life. this friend has been there for me the past 2 years listening to me try to figure out how to do well at work, with babe, and with the hubby. what a gal! and what a great post – straight to my heart, it helps a lot with the decision i made!

  • Stacy - how fun! i’d love to do this class! my favorite class i ever took was a flower arranging class. i was not good at it, but the teacher was so great and made my have a great appreciation for what goes into beautiful arrangements.
    hope i win!!

  • Crackle Bingham - HI AshleyAnn I have just clicked through from DesignAglow to your site – one I love your projects, but 2 I love the sharing and speak from the heart. Juggling and giving, so glad you have made a choice and been happy with it. This year for me too has been about slowing down and finding time with family instead of more weddings – and its been awesome. The treat was a workshop with Joyce Wilson in Indianapolis – a creative get away – my challenge to not photography people – was pretty funny chasing some geese down a highway – but it expanded my mind and refreshed the inspiration within. Now I just want to go buy some paint and start creating some truly unique things – for soul and maybe the few special clients that speak from the heart to! Thank you – Crackle

  • Kristi - The best class I took was Blogging Your Way from Holly Becker of the blog Decor8. Amazing class!

  • Heather W - The best class I ever took was my first quilting class when I was in 8th grade. My mom signed me up against my will ( I was homeschooled and it counted as “art”. I ended up loving it and it started my love of sewing and all things crafty!

  • Crystal - The best class I’ve ever took has to be web design in 9th grade. I learned so much that year and our teacher was great!

    I love this giveaway!

  • pamela - the best class i’ve ever taken… wow. tough one. it would have to be a geography class i took in college that opened my eyes in so many ways. the professor was magnetic, and made me want to learn about life and the world in a whole new way. i ended up travelling around the world after i took that class and now i’m a high school geography teacher!

  • Amanda - The best class I have ever taken was a sewing class when my sister and I were little. My parents would send up down to Florida to our Nannin’s for a week and she would always enroll us in some sort of class. The sewing class was my favorite, and I’ve been sewing ever since! now I’d love to take that class and learn some new things to do with my sisters FIVE babies!

  • Syd - My favourite class was an american sign language class in university because it was the first class that i took purely for myself. there were no extrinsic factors affecting my enjoyment – it was all fun and all me!

  • Jelena - I found your blog by chance and liked it so much that I read through all the posts. It took me few days..You have great DIY ideas and beautiful family. Pics are not bad either 😉 Anyways, I don’t usually enter giveaways since I live in the Netherlands but this online craft course sounds GREAT! I have 9 month old baby girl and would love to get crafting insights to do for her and later with her. Ciao, Jelena

  • Jennah S - I have never taken an art type class, at least as an adult.. My senior year of high school I had 4 art classes.. that was the best! This class looks like soo much fun!

  • Melinda - Oh, I wish I could tell you about a fab class. I took an online psychic class once. :) We made a craft that I still love. I am SO happy you blog. Mainly because I just found your blog and I am so stunningly inspired by you. I have artistic dreams, but no talent. The craft class sounds so fun. I’m taking a sewing machine class next week. So they might be quite jolly together! Thank you for posting about it!!

  • delish - hmmm, as a mother of 4, I haven’t had time for many classes…but I do remember a speech class i took (how to stand up in front of people and give a speech). It was a great and fun class for a shy girl to take, very helpful. I love Elsie’s work in scrapbooking, it’s cool to see her other creations. Thanks so much for sharing about the photography stuff….I love your photos!

  • Kate - This post completely hit home for me! I just left my private practice as an art therapist to stay at home, and everything you wrote – I feel. I just found RVA’s blog and would love to take this class! As for my favorite class…I’ve loved too many classes to narrow it down to my one favorite, but I think that’s a good problem to have. Thanks for the chance!

  • Jessica Kesti - ooohh- my girls would totally love this!

  • Cindy - I took a Chinese cooking class that was AMAZING!!! We would spend an hour cooking and learning, and than get to eat!

  • Mindi Patty - I took a cake decorating class at Central Market with my lil sis. So fun!

  • Kember - I see you’re wearing the Ergo in a hiking pic. what do you think of it? I am a baby carrier fanatic and just got a Beco Butterfly. I think it’s my 6th or 7th carrier. I keep thinking I will find the “perfect” one, but I’m not sure it exists. I use the Bjorn mostly but it’s not great on my back when baby gets bigger. Anyway I won’t keep rambling about baby carriers. :) Your blog is very inspiring and uplifting! btw, I doubt you remember me, but I’m Jeannette’s (Swan) sister in law. I met you a longtime ago at one of the kiddos bdays when you were taking pics.

  • Ashley - I’m also so so glad you didn’t stop blogging! I haven’t taken many classes (besides college) but I did sign up for home ec with some of the red velvet girls and I am really loving it (it’s my first ever online one that doesn’t pertain to school) :)

  • Erin Elizabeth - The best class I have ever taken was my first scenic art class, I was a theatre major, doing set design and was attempting something that I wasn’t very comfortable with. It was there that I truly fell in love with painting.

  • Carissa Miller - Well said. I probably could say A LOT more on this post but I will leave it like that. Oh, and just so you know… the other day I told Michael “When Ashley was taking our pictures, I really had NO idea how much went into this.” Now I get it, at least a little bit, and although I always thought you were amazing, I appreciate you even more now. :) And just so you know…the picture of Emmy Grace in the bikini is hanging in my house first thing when you walk in. It still makes me cry. sometimes daily.

The August SnapShop took place a little over a week ago. Texas was well represented…if all Texans are like the ladies that came, well Texas must be pretty great. FireCracker is the exact opposite of anti-social. She did a little indoor modeling for us. Half the ladies crammed into her small room. During the course of the day we discussed lenses and I realized that most of you reading this blog probably think the rooms in my home are really big. They aren’t, but I use a wide angle lens to be able to capture the whole room in one frame. Our house is around 1,500 square feet…to give you a perspective.

Some of the gals mentioned they were about as excited to see my house in person as they were to learn photography. I often wonder after people come to a SnapShop if they leave a little down…like the bubble that I am really cool and my house is amazing got burst!

Photo Tip: If you do interior design or are in an industry where you need to capture interiors – you need a wide angle lens. Does anyone remember the movie Sabrina with Julia Ormond…she made interior photography seem so romantic. Love that movie...it could quite possibly be my all time favorite.

It was HOT! This sweet little thing was going to model with her baby sister, but the baby wasn’t feeling so well. Good thing I have 4 kids…always got a few models on hand.

Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Here’s some that a few of the students have sent me….I love the composition of so many of these pictures. And the baby in the tutu…she’s cute.

Remember, for nearly all of these ladies this was a first time for shooting in fully manual mode (outside session). That is hard to do in just one day! I do not do any editing to the student pictures, they are posted just as they send them to me. Some students opt to do a little editing themselves, some do not.

Photos below by Dana D.

He wasn’t really modeling for us, but snuck by with his daddy for a bit.

Photos below by Jaclyn M.

Photos below by Lindsay M.

Photos below by Lydia P.

Photos below by Sarah W.

I am doing one more SnapShop this year. It will be in September and it is booked. I will not being doing anymore in person until next Spring. I do plan on launching SnapShops online in early 2011. To get a heads up on SnapShop dates and the online version you can sign up for my newsletter (there is a link at the top of the blog by the picture of the Sycamore tree).

SnapShop Sponsors:

If you have a photography related business and are interested in being a SnapShop sponsor, contact me via the contact button on this blog.

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  • Tammy Kay - I think I need to invest in a wide angle lens.
    Lovely photos. Oh, those silly bands that your big boy has on.
    They’re a hot commodity in our house!
    I’m so signing up for your online class.
    I can’t wait!

  • Giovanna - I love the first one. Ohhh this aqua dress if fabulous, I love ths sight of you little boy. And the lassssssst one is…. adorable

  • LeeH - I just think it’s so cool that your blog has a picture of MY daughter taking pictures of YOUR daughter. They’re a couple of firecrackers all right!

  • laura - do you allow them to do any editing? and do you edit most of your photos or only minimally? just curious!

  • Shannon - FireCracker absoLUTELY kills me! She is so dang precious Ashley! I could browse through pictures of her all day, in a completely non creepy way! She is such a doll! Love her sweet expressions, and seriously wishing I had a DSLR so i could come to a snap shop!

  • maria - can you recommend some wide angle lenses speicifially for capturing interiors that you like? I LOVE the movie sabrina, definantly a favorite. wish you were doing your online snapshop sooner!!! great pics!!

  • Jodi - Your students did a fabulous job! It helps to have such a great models! I cannot wait for your online snapshop! My 2011 goal is to take some workshops. This one is TOP on my list.

    ps…which wide angle lens do you use for the rooms? The 24-70?

  • AshleyAnn - I mainly use my 24-70mm for indoor, though at times I use a 28mm f/1.8

  • Trinity - Just so you know Ashley, I love your My Loveleies tab….I like looking through what you find!

  • Heather - such cute photos.. i recently stumbled across this lovely blog and wish i had heard about snapshops a little sooner to get off work and sign up for one. something to look forward to this spring. and i love that version of sabrina.. actually much more than the original.

  • Debbie - I love you candids. Do you always shoot in RAW or jpeg? I am afraid to switch to RAW. Have you heard of “Formspring”, for a technical photo question/answer page.

  • linkcreations - absolutely stunning….as usual!!

  • Maike - please come to Holland for a workshop!
    please
    please
    please

    is it working?

    love all your pictures!

  • tasha roe - would you consider a road trip to STL next summer for a class? i can round up a bunch of interested peeps. 😀

  • Lorena Mair - wow, you are a star Ashley! If only I could afford to fly you over here to Australia to give me a photography lesson! I let you know when I win the lottery! hahahaha but today I read you are launching an online SnapShop? Is that correct?
    Have a fantastic day!
    Lorena

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - The one of FireCracker coming down the slide face first – AWESOME!

    Go Texas girls! represent!

  • Lindsay - I can’t say enough good things about SnapShops~ I am so lucky to have been able to participate.
    Thanks again Ashley~loved everything about it.

  • Kendall - I know that you do photography Q and A posts from time to time, and I was wondering what other resources you would recommend to learn to shoot manual for those of us that can’t make it to your classes. (But, oh, how I wish I could!) Each day, your blog makes me want to use my DSLR in manual, but when I attempt it, my pictures are always awful!

  • Jodi - Thanks Ashley, I figured that was the one you were using. I have a 24-105 but with the crop factor on my current body it doesn’t really do me any good. I still struggle with getting a wide enough shot. Most of the time I am arching from deep inside a closet or on the floor to get the whole room. Hopefully I will be upgrading my camera body soon. I am looking forward to your Snapshops to really learn how to shoot indoors. Even with good lighting, I struggle and end up on automatic with a flash. Yukky.

    ps..Do you have a camera/diaper bag you recommend?

Julianna enjoy your $35.00 store credit to Shabby Chic Crafts….everyone else, you may not have a gift certificate, but you can still stock up on cuteness!

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  • Giovanna - Congratulations Julianna

  • Danae - yay for giveaways!

  • May of MayDae - Hi Ashley – question for you – have you done a birthday party for your husband lately? My husband is turning the big 3-0 next week, and I am trying to find decor inspiration, but am coming up with very little. I don’t want to get too “themey” with the party, but do something special and masculine:)

    Let me know if you have any thoughts!