My 2 year old loves puzzles. He works on them over and over and over again. Quite frankly I am worn out with puzzles and as a result he can now make them by himself simply because I cannot do one more puzzle. He’s is pretty impressive with them.

Sometimes I am so distracted by checking off my ‘to-do’ list that I don’t fully absorb how amazing it can be to sit and watch his little mind work. I want to break in and put it together so we can pack it up and move on to something else. He doesn’t care how long it takes to finish. He just wants to finish and declare his pride in doing it himself.

Photography has been a gift in my life. It provides focus and attention to things I can easily overlook…like cute chubby hands.

Sidenote: the camera repair shop called to say there was all kinds of stuff going wrong with my camera and that it was really dirty (shocker). The part that needs to be replaced Canon won’t sell. She was confident and creative with a new solution, so I am trusting her.  I have let go of my snobby attitude about my backup and am getting used to it again, kind of.

His Great Grandma called me yesterday to say that my Grandpa has some new puzzles for him. My grandpa is a builder and craftsman. Littlest Brother’s favorite thing to do at my grandparent’s house is work all the wood puzzles built by my grandpa. So Grandpa made him some more for our house and can’t wait for Christmas to give them to him. Pretty special. I’ll be sure to share pictures of those….I could do a week’s worth of posts on all the things in my house that were made by my grandparents. Maybe I will.

His brothers were playing wii in the background while he worked puzzles. He’ll be the genius among them one day.

Now to get him to be so excited about crafting….

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  • Holly - What a sweet post and such a sweet boy

  • RachelC - What a great memory. I definitely think you should do a post on all of the things in your house your grandpa has made. That would be cool.

  • allison - Yes, please do a post about things your grandparents have made!!

  • Johna - I too love to watch my little 2 year old’s chubby little fingers at work.

  • Shannon{photos by shannon} - He’s so sweet. I love seeing my kids work at things they love too. I hope their creative juices are always flowing. I hope your camera comes through okay! I only have one dslr and it is my baby…I don’t know what I would do without it.

  • amanda torres - Those chubby hands are so adorable. I just want to pinch them.

  • Gevay - He’s so adorable. It’s amazing to watch the gears turn in their little heads. It’s such a blessing to have children!

  • Ruth - What a cutie pie! It is so cool to see such intense focus on such a little guy. My oldest daughter was the exact same way at that age and now, at 4, can easily do 100 piece puzzles all by herself. I actually had to buy some puzzles for her preschool class because the biggest ones they had were 24 piece. As always, the photos are lovely, and I agree with the previous comments–would love to see the things your grandparents have made.

  • Jill E. - wow what amazing thoughts to go with these pictures that look great. glad to here there is hope for your camera. love the other boys in the background playing wii.

  • Mariah - Chubby little hands make my eyes leak…

  • Dacia - I had a great moment teaching one day, as I watched one of our students put together parts of a puzzle. It was a HUGE milestone for him! It was pretty amazing. :)

  • Diana - We have those same two puzzles and our kids love them too!! What a good boy!

  • Nicole Robinson - My little one LOVES puzzles too. She will work them for hours on end!

  • jessica h - I love 2 year old chubby hands so much!! I have not even introduced my chubby-handed guy to puzzles, maybe I should! What a cutie yours is! Thanks for the reminder again this morning not to miss the moments “in between”–the great ones. Photography, although I know very little about it technically speaking, has also definitely been such a gift to me to be able to “see” things more clearly :) (Your photos with your backup are still stunning!)

  • Allison - He is one smart two year old to be able to put those together! Seriously- that is quite impressive for someone his age.

  • E L L A - He’s so cute. My daughter is actually loving Cars at the moment – I need to get her a puzzle like that one.

    You are doing pretty well with the backup camera at the moment. And I know what you mean about seeing things better sometimes through a photo. Love those chubby hands.

  • Mandy - So Sweet! My oldest daughter was the same way with puzzles when she was a toddler… I can totally relate to being puzzled out! But, it’s so great for their little minds! Keep challenging him, pretty soon he’ll being doing really hard ones! I love watching their little wheels spin while they figure them out!

  • MGF - This is so great to see. My youngest son. Loves puzzles. The older two boys could care less. Cool to see these slight differences in them

  • jeny - i’m wondering about your table top … how’s it holding up? i love the ‘mondern casual’ vibe from it and want to implament this in my home as well. have you had to seal it since the finished product?

  • Rachel Beasley - Sweet, Sweet!! And I have to chuckle at your boys in the background because that could have been taken at our house…one boy standing in front of the TV and one on the coffee table. Awesome.

  • giozi - Hi Ashley. Your little boy is adoralbe like always. I like to see only he today, is something so special. And I love his little hands too.

  • Anna - so sweet!! He is too adorable!

  • Sonya - So sweet! When did he start showing an interest in puzzles? I would LOVE to get my 21 month old son (same sweet chubby hands) interested, but was afraid to try puzzles so soon.
    Oh, and your pics are still great even with the back-up!

  • Yolanda - Wow. My three-year-old can barely put the simplest wood puzzles together. A jigsaw would absolutely flummox her. Great work by your little guy. And who can tell that it’s your back up camera when it’s you behind the lens? These are as emotional and as warm as ever.

  • Jessica - Oh, how I love these pictures. His little chubby fingers placing that last puzzle piece…priceless.

  • Chandra - I can’t believe he’s 2 and putting puzzles like that together. Simply wonderful & amazing! I’m inspired to buy a set for my 20 month old.

  • jaime scott - I’m not usually a commenter, I prefer to stalk your blog silently. haha!! But every once in a while, I make an exception and leave a comment. :) anyway, i love your blog. Today, you wrote, “Photography has been a gift in my life. It provides focus and attention to things I can easily overlook…like cute chubby hands.” And i totally agree with you. I’m not a professional photographer by any means (maybe one day though!), but I love to take pics of my kids and a few months ago, I wrote a blog about how photographing my kids changes my perspective and helps me see what’s really important. If you’re interested (and it’s okay if you’re not!), here’s that blog have a great day!

  • Jenny B. - How precious! I love the little chubby hands and how the colors pop off of your concrete table top. You are so blessed to have your grandparents in your life. My grandpa was also a builder and woodworker. He built the house I grew up in and the one he and my grandma lived in, which was just down the street from ours. I really miss him and wish my boys could have known him (he passed away when I was 16). P.S. We have those puzzles, too. My 5-year-old likes to put together every single one and line them all up. I’ve tried to get good photos of him doing it, but I just haven’t been able to get it right yet. The angles end up looking weird, or the focus is off, or just bad composition. :) Anyway… I’ll keep trying!

  • Tressa - Ashley – I have followed you blog for quite some time. Thank you for sharing your life as a mom and for the tutorials on your beautiful projects! You inspire me and make me want to be more patient and fun with my kids and I am thankful for your example. Your blog is a breath of fresh air every single time! THANK YOU!!!

  • Rachael Schepemaker - He is definitely going to be an engineer some day!

  • MommaHen (aka Amy) -

    I’ve been sitting here reading your blog for …I don’t even know how long. It’s fabulous! Your lil’ fam is soooo stinkin’ cute! Okay, I’m sounding a little stalker-ish. So, I’m just sayin’ ,” LOVE the blog!”

  • Kellie Ann - My younger brother also did puzzles like that at an early age. I definitely think it’s a sign of high intelligence, creativity, and spacial ability.
    All those puzzles, among other things, surely helped my brother: he skipped a grade in elementary and graduated from UC Berkeley last year with his Master’s.
    Keep up the puzzles if your little boy loves them :)

  • Carolyn - I don’t have much patience for puzzles either. I get so frustrated when my 21 month old daughter does her number puzzle. I sit there reminding myself to be positive and encouraging whilst she tries to fit the number 3 in the number 8 spot..*argh!* :)
    I love that second last picture of your son working away on his puzzle whilst the older boys play in the background. A very independent two year old you’ve got there!

  • Gina (Gina Hickman Photography) - I love puzzles and only 1 of my 3 girls likes them (and she’s almost 20 now but still loves puzzles)…

    You should totally get a photo puzzle made for him – maybe a puzzle of him putting a puzzle together!!!

    Check out this cool link to have photo puzzles made

    Love your blog Ashley!

    :) Gina

  • Wendy - that last little “concentration face” brought tears to my eyes-so adorable!

  • Alissa @ Gift Homemade - Jigsaw puzzles are the best! I think it’s also a great learning tool too :)

  • Sandy - How cute he is what a sweet post.

  • Allison - My boys love puzzles too and our favorite ones are also wood. They are 3 levels deep and my 3 year old loves them. I just thought maybe you would like to take a look see… These puzzles are so neat!! They are made locally in Missouri and are FANTASTIC!!

  • Syndi Miles - I know that you don’t get a lot of time to answer questions, but I know sometimes you answer a few in your blog and I wanted to know what camera repair shop you use?

  • Kristen - What a cutie! I’m actually really impressed that he can put those together all by himself! That’s pretty good!

  • Courtney - I think you’re sort of a genius. I have BOXES and BOXES of puzzles in the play room and game closet but never once thought of dumping them into ziploc bags to save space! Sheer genius…

  • JennyP - I enjoy reading your blog and try to take time daily to be inspired by you! So thanks!!! Reading this post makes me think of a thought I found, printed and put up in my kitchen it reads…”Taking Joy in the Moments…take a little more joy in the doing than the getting it done!”

  • s - I love the photos of your son doing the puzzles! My youngest adores puzzles – mostly the floor size ones. I need to get him some smaller table sized ones for xmas – he really does enjoy them! And, I’m trying not to be jealous of the wooden puzzles – dang I wish I had your grandpa!

  • Kim - I’m impressed he’s doing these puzzles at age 2. He’s already a genius! :) Darling photos. Love those sweet little hands–so darling.

I am on the ball this year – at least with one gift. I have this hope that my kids will love to draw, but usually they’d rather sword fight. In the past I have bought blank journals for them to fill and this usually peaks their interests more than construction paper. This year I am giving the older boys art journals that are customized just a bit. It is hard to find ideas for boy gifts that are handmade. Girls are easy. Boys, not so much. Here is what I made:


* A blank journal. I got mine at Barnes & Noble. For my boys it is easier if they can flip the cover completely over. The bound book type of journal frustrates them when it keeps closing on them.

* Wood grain contact paper (which you if you made these, you might have it one hand too)

* Letter stickers

* Blank notecards

I made this up as I went along so I don’t have any exact measurements.

These instructions aren’t the best, but hopefully the pictures will help.

Step 1: Lay contact paper under the journal to decide what size you want it. Cut sides to determine how ‘big’ you want the front pocket to be. Fold the center section over. This will create a pocket on the front. Cut off small edges.

Step 2: Flip journal over. Peel off backing of remaining contact paper and fold sides over to make it all stick. Pull it tight when you fold it over so the pocket in the front isn’t loose. Add stickers for initials.

Step 3: In the front pocket I added some drawing prompts. For my 4 year old I wrote out some of his favorite characters and books. For my six year old I copied text from some of his favorite books. The idea is that they will select one prompt from the front cover of the art journal and then draw what is on the card. For mine most of the prompts involve something dangerous, disgusting or dirty. I imagine if you girly this up for the opposite gender your prompts might be quite different.

I did flip mine over to see if the paper would fall out. It didn’t. I imagine if you put a lot in the front pocket or thick items it would eventually stretch out and make it loose.

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  • Hollie - Genius! I will make one of these for my son for Christmas. I love handmade and it is harder to find things for him / boys in general.

  • Rebekah Jean - I love this! That wood grain paper is really cool and I love the way you used it on those journals. It’s fun and just manly enough to work for boys! =)

  • The Prairie Hen - Dear On The Ball,
    What a lovely idea! My kids ADORE art projects and drawing so this would be perfect for them. I love the thought of adding a few paint chips for some color. My turkeys are always snatching a handful when we visit the hardware store— highlighting their favorite colors of the moment.

    Something like this might even inspire me to break out the drawing pencils myself.

    “How was your day dear?”
    “What did you get done?”
    “—is that a horse?”
    “No! It’s Felicity in the yard swing, trailing her bare toe in a bed of roses. I would think that’s pretty obvious! A horse!?”
    “Ummmmm, yeah. What was I thinking?—— What’s for supper?”

    Cuttin’ N Pastin’ in NE

  • amanda torres - Props to the prompt idea! So great for drawing a future writings! Love it.

  • Danielle - Awesome Idea!

  • tasha roe - super fun idea!!

  • ella - I love the use of veneer vinyl. I just picked up some the other day and I was thinking what to do with it….
    Thanks for the inspiration 😉

  • Tracey - Oh my goodness, I just had to comment because the sight of that little Archie’s glass brought back so many memories! I had that growing up!

  • Heather - cute! where’d ya find the contact paper?

  • Jen - This is perfect for my son. Thank you for the great ideas.

  • Anna - what a great idea! i agree…there are never any good diy ideas for boys…so sad! :(

  • Katie @ explanation required - So incredibly fun! I can’t wait until my little one is a little older and able to “journal” like this!!

  • elizabeth - Thank you-Great Idea! I totally agree about the lack of handmade “big boy” gifts. I would be so appreciative of more of your great project ideas :)

  • Elizabeth - My son loves to draw…one of the series of books my children always loved was the Doodle books…your boys might like them…they are doodles that are started..but not finished..there are lots of different books….check them out…

  • Stephanie - Great Idea. Boys are difficult. I have 2 nephews and I’m glad I have 4 girls.

  • graceybug - Love this idea! I agree that finding stuff to make for boys is hard. I think this might be the new cover for my son’s school journal that holds his thoughts & has his reminders (behavior wise) in it.

  • jessica h - agreed–great craft gifts & sewing projects for boys are few and far between compared to those for girls! Instead of wishing for a girl to shower with homemade goodness, I should get on the ball gettin’ creative for my boys! If you have any other ideas (especially for littler tots), please do share! This one was great, especially the prompts–they’ll love them I’m sure!

  • Shoshana K - That’s hilarious! I bought the same exact sketchbook because it was such a good price. I use mine for collages and inspiration but is there any way you can do another makeover, but a girls version? But not for little girls. More for young adults? I was wondering what to do with it because plain black is too boring…

  • peta - I love this! what a creative idea. i might make something similar to this for the children in my class next year.

    Can i ask about the lego book please? my son would appreciate a book like this.

  • handmade ideas. - […] now for my little dude the star wars love runs thick and deep so I know if I have any chance of him taking a second glance at what I made Star Wars would have to be incorporated somehow. one of my go to craft sites helped me out. she has some star wars lovin’ boys herself and came up with this diy boys art journal. […]

  • Helen + Bill + Mirys from Brazil - Excelent Xmas presents!!!!!

    You and your brilliant ideas…

    Kisses and blessings.


I’ve been having ‘issues’ with one of my babies. Sadly, I knew the problem was beyond my realm of understanding or ability to fix. I got lots of recommendations from friends I trust and I loaded up the car to meet a woman who could hopefully help me. Before I left I told Chris I really wish she had a NannyCam so I could check in throughout the day to observe what was happening. Driving to her place I was so nervous. I didn’t know her. Could I really trust someone I don’t know with a part of myself? I pulled in, parked the car and slowly walked to her door. I could see her smiling through the window. She was petite with little hands and her face was full of wisdom. I explained the issue we were having and she said she could help. I trusted her. With a bit of sadness and hope for a bright future I left. She said she’d call me soon to let me know what will need to happen…..I miss my camera.:)

Yeah, my LCD went out on my main camera. My point and shoot went for a little unprotected dive in the Pacific Ocean so I don’t have it either. I do have a backup dslr, but I get frustrated with it (yes, I know that is totally snobby to say, but I’m just being honest). A friend gave me an unused iphone. It isn’t connected to phone service, but it takes a fun little picture. I’ve been using it a lot lately.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Our church is collecting food for Thanksgiving baskets to pass out to those in need of a little help on the holiday. The boys always enjoy shopping for the food to donate. This year we invited Chris along. I try to be very intentional about including the boys on things like this, but I’ll be honest it is so much more work to involve the kids. There are moments I question whether it is really worth it. Not whether it is worth it to donate food (because it obviously is), but is it worth all the hassle to include my kids in the process.

As we pulled into the parking lot a DOWNPOUR started. We had one semi-broken umbrella for the six of us. We made it in the store completely soaked. Is this really worth it? The boys were so excited that instead of walking down the aisles, they were dashing to see who could get to the food first. Is this really worth it? Littlest Brother wanted in and out, in and out of the basket. Is this really worth it? “You’ve sure got your hands full,” a well meaning lady said. Is this really worth it? They boy’s argued over who got to unload the shopping cart. Is this really worth it? The kids had fun, but I was stressed. Is this really worth it?

After getting everyone dressed and the food bags packed on Sunday morning the boys all decided they wanted to carry a food bag. Instead of 2 heavy bags I now had 1 heavy bag, 1 medium bag and 2 nearly empty bags to carry into the church…along with diaper bags and a baby….without Chris (he gets there before we do). Is this really worth it? A friend saw us and he offered to help. Littlest Brother sat his bag down in the middle of the parking lot because he changed his mind and didn’t want to carry a bag. Is this really worth it?

We dropped off the food in the first grade classroom. Later my son declared his class did not win an ice cream party for bringing the most food. He was bummed about ice cream. Is this really worth it? I reminded him we didn’t take food because of an ice cream contest and asked him why we took it in the first place. “We took it so people that don’t have food can have some. We took it to help others.” It was worth it.


I know this post might seem a bit negative, but it just realistic. Getting my kids involved in things that make them aware of their world and ways to impact it is of crucial importance to me. However, just because it is important to me doesn’t mean it happens easily and we always have rosy experiences. With young children it involves work, patience, dedication and usually a bit of stress. A lot goes in right now on my part and it usually doesn’t feel like much comes out….but I am confident what is hard work today will be more than worth it in their tomorrows.

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  • jessica - i love this post! always a familiar chant at our house “is it really worth it?”. this weekend we will be attending our second annual “Thanks for Giving” party with all proceeds being donated to the local food bank. i have also decided to take my kids shopping for groceries for this event…i think you are right…it is worth it.

  • Marie - As a mom, I totally get what you are saying about going through the every day hassles w/ your kids and questioning yourself about whether its worth it or not. But I am confident that when your children look back at their beautifully documented childhood, thanks to their VERY intentional mother, THEY will know it was worth it!!

  • Allison - Thank you for your patience and dedication to the cause of raising children who will be a blessing to the world… as hard as it may be! You are the type of parent to be commended daily for taking your job and responsibility seriously. “Well done, Ashley!” You will end up with very grateful and thankful children who LOVE their mom and appreciate your hard work.

  • maryliz cawley - your sweet fam is in my prayers!!!

  • Kari - Great post…the thought running through my mind right now relates to Christ and how sometimes I wonder if He looks at us, His creation, and thinks, “was it worth it?” As He watches over us and see’s fighting, stealing, families falling apart, hearing people using His name in vain…was it worth it? As He died on a cross for all of us and then to have people reject Him. As He left us the greatest love letter ever written, the Bible, and see that most people have it tucked away on a bookshelf…was it worth it? As He tugs at people’s heart to accept Him as their Savior and they walk away…was it worth it? Praise God, I’m so glad WE are worth it! Awesome post Ashley!

  • Katie - My students came up with this logo we use in our class: “We do the right thing because it feels good.” There are no extrinsic rewards for doing what is right. We have a group of students who walked to the local food pantry, came back to school and raised awareness to other students. Once all the food is collected, they will then bring the food to the pantry so they can learn first hand the importance of helping others. I love that you are doing this WITH your kids. It makes the difference.

  • laura - great post!

  • Ruth - Oh Ashley, I fight that same battle every day. A couple of years ago, mid-temper tantrum, I came to the realization of why there are so many rotten, spoiled kids (turning into rotten, spoiled adults) in the world: being a good parent is HARD. Teaching your kids to be polite, productive, giving, & loving humans is so much more work than just giving in and letting them have their way, and not working to teach them the valuable life lessons that happen every day. But you are so right, it IS worth it!

  • Kara K - Thanks for keeping it real. I have four young children,as well. It’s not always easy being intentional but it’s certainly worth it. Keep up the good work. :)

  • amanda torres - I feel closer to you, fellow Aldi shopper. I love that place. In and out in under 30 minutes. I am so glad you thought it was worth it. Your kids will be so grateful when they are older for the seeds you and your husband sew now.

  • Meaghan - This post really struck home. Of course, I don’t have children yet as I’m still in college, but I’ve been having doubts about my major — And I’m supposed to graduate in May! I’m not happy and have been asking myself “Is all this worth it? Is all this worth my unhappiness?” Still coming to terms with it. Thanks for an insightful post!

  • Juleah Brooks - Thank you for your honesty. It would have been so much easier for you to post these precious pictures and write how you and your family are doing a wonderful thing and how it is a great family project. But your honesty breaks down that wall of deceit. I really appreciate your transparency.

  • Tess S. - it IS worth it.

  • Nicole @ Here's The Diehl - LOVED this post! Yes, it’s totally worth it, even though it was much harder to do it the way you described. It’s the same with chores around the house: it would be much easier for me to just put their clean, folded laundry in their drawers, but a) I don’t want them to think that clothes just magically appear in there and b) someday, they’ll be husbands, and I don’t want their wives to wonder why they were never given any responsibility around the house.

    Bravo, mama!

  • Jme - this is so good! We went to walmart last night to get toys for tots and food for baskets too. Maya insisted on taking her shopping cart and baby in. walmart was CROWDED! Maybe 2 people smiled at her shopping cart, but the rest were annoyed looks because she was obviously in their way. She picked out a stroller to give, and it kept falling out of her shopping cart, adding to the chaos. She kept yelling “this for maya.” And I kept explaining that it wasn’t for her, it was for another little girl who would love it. She put it in the toys for tots box, and then decided it was hers again, almost knocking over the whole box of toys. I explained again about giving, exhausted and wondering why I didn’t secretly put it in the box without her looking. She finally said, “that for friend, maya give”…. worth it. sorry for long comment, just wanted you to know how much I relate and how thankful I am for other moms to relate with! and for cats born at the same time:)

  • Mariah - sigh… I know how you feel. And, no. You did not sound negative. Just normal. You’re a great example!

  • Heather - i know just what you mean and i don’t think this is negative at all. i always feel like i take one step forward, two steps back with my kids, but it’s that the one step forward makes it all worth it. so glad you shared this side of getting your kids involved in their world.

    p.s. i hope your camera comes home safe and sound, and working :)

  • Angela Carter - your honesty and it’s worth it attitude are what keep me coming back to read!
    there isn’t a normal person out there who doesn’t ask “is it worth it”. heck, i think i ask myself that a thousand times a day.
    keep on keeping it real…

  • Holly - When your children are grown, have kids of their own, make them read this post. THAT will be worth it.

  • deb - It’s worth it…every frustrating moment. My children are 20 and 17 and are now repeating good deads they did as small children without me even prompting them…that makes a mom feel “It was worth it”
    Enjoy the frustrasting moments with HOPE!

  • Rebecca - I can relate to this post on so many levels with having the kids involved.

  • Dacia - I didn’t think it came across as negative, just like you said – honest. The last line made me choke up. I was reading, reading, reading and when I got to “It was worth it” I cracked a smile and my throat choked up simultaneously. hah! lovely read. )

  • maribeth - so true! every word-from the shopping experience to the expectations of children to the reality that you have to make a concerted effort for your children to understand giving to others. thank you for sharing an experience that reminds us all to be thankful for what we have and, that when you have young kids, even the most heart felt activity is not always easily accomplished.

  • brooke milne - Thanks for posting this. I visit your blog often and see all the amazing things you do and what an amazing mother you are. It’s good to know that you are human too :)

  • SeaminglySarah - So true! So I have to admit I did my first lesson in giving with my 2.5 year old daugther this year. We got an Operation Christmas Child box at church and I took her to the Dollar Store to pick out stuff for the box. I even thought it’d be fun to make the box for a girl her age, so she could correlate the idea. Well she correlated the idea really well, into thinking the toys were for herself and she would just be sharing with the little girl who didn’t have any toys. She cried when I took the toys away and put them in the shoe box. Then the shoe box spent the next week in our house tempting her. Then she cried when we delivered it. Parting with toys is so hard…And yes, part of me wants to do these things alone until she’s older, but here’s the long road of learning ahead of us. =)

  • Jenny B. - Oh, Ashley, thank you so much for posting this. I needed the reminder and the encouragment!

  • Amy - I really love your blog! Thank you! Seeing your pictures and hearing your stories is such an encouragement. We too were just at Aldi yesterday getting Thanksgiving food for the food pantry at our church. : ) Don’t worry, your kids will remember these things years and years from now.

  • jessica h - amen! great post :) thanks for keepin’ it real & inspiring, sister!!

  • valerie - It must be a ton of work, but I like hearing about the things you do with your kids. I’m trying to file them away in my head for when my son is a bit older. Thanks for the inspiration and the reality!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ashley, thank you for being honest. Thank you for being real. You are so inspiring and encouraging to me. I sincerely appreciate all you do.

  • Natalie - Wow- can’t tell you just how much I needed to read this today! A lot of what keeps me home and not serving others is this mentality that “it’s just not worth it.” 2 babies under 2, one on the way…it’s never easy or convenient no matter your status. That doesn’t mean we should let Satan win! Time to get my hands dirty.

  • Mandi Smith - Ashley, this post was awesome! It is sometimes very hard for us to remember the worth it moments when satan tries to through up so many barriers and tries to make us feel discouraged and frustrated in the process. What a great job as a mother for you to push throgh that anyways and help your children to show Christ’s love to people who needed it! Keep up the good work Mama!

  • Dina - I ask myself that question multiple times a DAY! God asks us only for our faithfulness but am I so silly to ask for progress and success when it comes to raising children?! :} Looking back to my childhood, I can say that yes, everything of importance that my parent’s taught me has stuck, including helping those in need. The only thing I can’t pass on to my kids is Aldi’s…we’re north of the border!

  • gina - This is not a negative post. Or maybe i just say that because it sounds a lot like my house! Sounds like real life to me.

  • Shelley - Do you have time to read all of these comments?=)

    I have been deleting so many feeds lately of mommy/craft blogs that seem to be written by very talented people who resent the very kids they spend so much time creating things for and blogging about. You can do a lot for your kids and still not spend time with them or invest in them.

    I LOVE your blog because you DO love your kids. You don’t miss the big picture. It is so encouraging to read! That last paragraph was beautiful! I wish there were more moms like you.

  • tasha roe - hope everything works out with the kiddo! being a parent can be so tough sometimes…making sure the right decisions are made. i’ll be praying that His wisdom and grace guides you through them.

  • Jessica - I love this post! I think this all the time … especially around Christmas. I make cookies, and the kids are only interested in decorating for 2 minutes and I’m left with the rest. I make handmade gifts for the kids, and their favorite gifts are store-bought toys. I have to force them to make cards for the grandparents … and I always wonder if it’s worth it? And this is a nice reminder that I am not alone, and it IS worth it.

  • Courtney - yes, it IS worth it. you are a great mom. thanks for being real and honest. hope your camera gets fixed SOON! what a hard time of year to be without it!

    question: what do you use to layout your pics for your blog?? i like to post a lot of pics, but then it takes forever to scroll through them all. what do you use to layout multiple pics (and add fun text??) thanks!

  • Jen - Hang in there, Ashley! It is so worth it…even when it’s hard to see the big picture. It’s tough around this house lately too.

  • Lizzie - I admire you. You seem to work so hard for your kids and their positive growth.

  • patti - i feel your pain. on halloween, i dropped my camera and busted my 50mm lens into 2 pieces. i cried. my husband bought me a new 50mm lens…wait for it…on HIS birthday last week and said “this is what I wanted for my birthday.” – today, i downloaded photos from my camera and noticed that there are 2 huge black dots on every single photo. must be something on the lens. switched lens’ – nope…still happening. so, i will be taking my precious baby into the shop this week. i’m supposed to be taking family photos for 3 families in a couple weeks. please let it just be some dirt. please? hang in there, ashley! (by the way…loved the rest of this post too.) :)

  • tamara - not negative…truthful and helpfull to all of us I know how you feel

  • ria - Hugs! Consider yourself hugged! You are so very inspiring. It is nice to know that there are other moms out there that struggle through some days just like me. You are right. It is so worth it.

  • Krista Lund - love this “real” post…iphone pics and all.
    i face this a lot with my own kids….will they remember (ages 3 and 9 mos) that trip to the beach? trip to disneyland? sometimes i think i am having more fun than they are LOL! at least i snapped 100s of pics!

  • Shea - Woman! Get out of my head! Thank you for this post. I needed it.

  • Emma - Was it worth it? Thank you so much for posting this. I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old and used to make the effort to take both to everything, however lately I have been leaving them with the other half while I ducked out to do what I needed to do. You have put things into perspective for me again. Make the effort and the rewards will follow :)

  • KaraM - Wonderful! I know everyone else is saying it, but still! I’m a local volunteer coordinator who has no kids. So, when parents call me about involving their kids in serving the community…I usually tell them something I learned on your blog! Or I just refer them to your blog! 😀 I suggest “Rice Night” all the time. Thanks for the resource.

  • Jasie - personally, ashley, i LIKE reading the realistic posts. i sometimes wonder how on earth you can do all that you do with four kids. i’ve enjoyed the behind the scenes with B in your lap, or having a fit on the floor while you try to paint or take pictures. it somehow makes it seem a little more do-able for me… if that makes any sense at all.

  • Wendy - thank you. for this. and all of your posts! it came at a really good time…

  • Brooke - I don’t think this post was negative at all, just real! I think it is so important to be intentional, even when you don’t want to. When it would be way easier to do it yourself, sans kids. But why did you bring your kids into the world? To raise them to love the Lord and show that by giving and loving people and meeting needs of people. So, you are keeping your focus on that…even when it’s hard. way to go!

  • andy - thanks for being authentic

  • Tonia - You shop at Aldi! :) I knew I liked you for a reason! :) Thanks for being genuine.

  • Mirys - Dear Ashley!

    It´s TOTALY worth it!

    Here is an idea for you (as if you needed ideas… silly me…). It is very typical in Brazil to have fun theme birthdays parties when you are young. And, of course, it´s very usual to receive gifts from friends…

    So twice a year we have a lot of kids toys, kids clothes, kids shoes and an incredible amount of other new stuff at home = result of Gui (6 years old) or Nina (4 years old) birthday party. It was so much more than what we needed that I decided to create a new kind of party: with SOCIAL GIFTS!!!

    The first experience with it was at Gui´s birthday (theme: soccer) and we wrote at the invitation “there is no need of gifts for us. Thanks to God we have much more than necessary. But there are some kids at an orphanage near our home that needs clothes. Please, be part of our TEAM and bring an used clothe to donation.” I thought just few people would embrace the idea but I didnt care: “if we collect 10 or 12 Tshirts it will be OK”, I thought.

    BUT OUR FRIENDS WERE SO SO SO SO SO AMAZING THAT WE COLLECTED ENOUGH TO GIVE TO 3 DIFERENT PLACES (orphanat and elderly homes)!!!!! Some friends brought 20 pieces of clothing with a perfect red ribbon! Some brought adults cloths as well! Some brought towels, sheets, blankets! Some buy many hats and other kind of warm things to use in the head (it was our winter and it was very cold here).

    Next birthday party all the friends asked “so Mirys, what will be the social gift this time?”. I answered so many of those questions that I decided to ask for cookies (it was a “tea and cookie” party with “Strawberry Short Cake” as theme). And again we received to many packets of cookies that we´re able to share with 4 institutions.

    But I usually go to the institutions only with the birthday kid! So we can comment the experience, share thougths, I can explain the meaning of what he/her is doing and say that I´m very proud of him/her. And he/her appreciates very much this “exclusive” getting out with mom!

    Maybe you could try TWO visits to the supermarket next year: with the big ones and with the small ones. There are a lot of friends and family who will perfectly understand and support this idea and (more important) be the baby-sitter to the others that will not be on the supermarket tour!

    See you soon!

    Mirys –

  • delish - thank you for being so real and sharing your experiences. many of us moms can identify with that post, and it’s good to be reminded that yes, it is worth it…and maybe not even in the way we think it should be. thanks again!

  • kristiina - This was a lightbulb post for me…..something clicked. Mine are 3 and 4..Putting in the effort NOW is the most important thing we can do for our kids. I’m going to start with saying ‘yes’ when they ask if they can help me make dinner. (Baby steps…….) Thanks Ashley!!

  • Sarah Hill - What a great post! I have been reading your blog for about 7 months now and I absolutely love it everyday. I have 3 children 4,2 and 9 months and I can’t tell you how much I have gotten out of your posts, from things to do with them on rainy days to important messages to teach them like this one. Not only that but the sheer realization that they are only young once and it is so important to create memories. I wish that I was half as talented as you but you have inspired me to try and be more creative and I think my children really reap the benefits so thank you for that. Also I have realized how much I love pictures of my kiddos so thanks to you our camera now goes everywhere with us. Keep it up! Thanks a million:)

  • Ruth - In the middle of a completely disastrous trek to SuperTarget today to buy food to donate to our church’s Thanksgiving dinner, this post came to mind. My 18 month old managed to fall out of the cart, conk her head (much to the horror of all the other shoppers), then, after I had soothed her wounds and strapped her down, proceeded to scream hysterically and without stopping for the entire trip. Towards the end, I finally couldn’t take it anymore, so I let her out to walk with her sister, where she proceeded to throw everything within arm’s reach onto the floor and dump my cup of water onto the floor. As I reached the check-out, I was about to lose my mind, and then suddenly I remembered what you had written, and I just had to laugh. It’s worth it. (And thank you!)

  • Sara - awesome post, thank you for this. On a random note I have a naive question about your camera…you mentioned that your backup is a dslr…isn’t the one that broke also considered a dslr? I am new to learning camera technology so I really have no clue. My husband surprised me witha dslr for my bday, and although it is a VERY simple,basic model I thought a dslr was as good as it gets. Like I said, it’s a naive question.:)

  • Kathy Stell - Don’t forget…..Seed, Time and Harvest. No one said the work was lite or the road was smooth, but the Harvest will be grand!

  • Abby - OMG! This post is totally us…minus one …all the way down to the mildly annoying “you sure have your hands full” well done!