We have a lot of traditions this time of year. There are so many things I look forward to after Thanksgiving. One is our annual trip to the tree farm to pick out our Christmas tree. I’ll be honest there is a part of me that wants an old school white aluminum tree, but I can’t give up my tree hunting tradition. I am pretty sure my kids would revolt too if I ever tried that.

Part of the tradition is the hayride out to the fields of trees. This was a bit anti-climatic this year. Once we got to the fields it was just baby trees! The cutting fields were up closer, but the hayride was fun nonetheless. We’ve got a lot of personality in this family.

Part of hunting usually involves a little bit of baby carrying too. This phase might be over next year. I’m okay with that, I’ve enjoyed the ride.

They found their tree. What is not pictured is all the sticks I forced them to throw on the ground. A large stick fight broke out (it always does) and I was not in the mood to dodge wooden swords. The blurry part of this photo is from FireCracker’s wet finger touching my lens.

Yes boys, you are so very tough and dangerous with the saw. Don’t cut your fingers off….or mine.

The boys would never go for one of the teenage workers cutting down our tree. Poor Chris always has to lay in the pine needles to cut it down.

And our annual photo.

And some of the old ones…

We got home I began decorating the tree with all the ornaments the kids like. Then I realized I was doing it by myself (which I always do because no one else is interested). Since no one else really cared I took all the ornaments off and started over. It still isn’t decorated. I just stare at it everyday trying to figure out something fun to do with it. By the time I finally figure it out it will be dead. At least the hunt was good and the house smells like Christmas.

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  • Alba - i’m glad to see this annual picture for the third time. Enjoy it.

  • mandi - i love that pic of firecracker lying across her daddy while he’s trying to cut the tree down. daddy’s never can catch a break! we go this weekend to cut our tree! yahoo!

  • RachelC - I love your annual tree hunt! I also love looking at the “through-the-years” pictures.

  • Ruth - The one sad thing about living in Florida–no tree farms! πŸ™ I’m very jealous of your fun tradition. Our tree tradition involves finding all the pieces of our fake (yuck!) tree up in the attic, then waiting around for four hours while my engineer husband tries to figure out why only half the lights are working. And girls insist on “helping” to decorate, (resulting in a very high concentration of ornaments at 4-year-old level), so I’m a little jealous of your blank tree slate, too!

  • kali - love it! we used to go pick out a tree each year as little kids…then my parents decided to go the fake tree route. yes, i revolted for several years and they’ll probably never live down “killing” the tradition. but i’m a fan of the artificial trees now so i do understand…just like giving them a hard time πŸ™‚

  • Brenda S. Pearson - My fav photo is FireCracker stretching out across her Daddy – she has SO much personality!!

  • meg duerksen - after you do it for 15 years you realize you don’t care how it looks and then you let the kids just put them on and never even notice it. HA! that was what happened last night.
    there were so many people working on the tree that i just took pictures and never touched an ornament.
    i am liking this new system.

  • Sarah - Put up two trees, then you can have the best of both worlds!

  • amanda torres - I love how almost every pic adds a kid, yet you still look like a bean pole. That’s awesome.

  • Krista Lund - i love seeing the Tree Hunting Photos thru the years!

  • Lacy M. - Must be a lot warmer in eastern OK than it’s been in western OK!! So love your blog, look forward to it everyday!!!!

  • jessica h - what a joy! there’s something to be said for special family traditions for sure….I just know you’re going to come up with some crazy-wonderful craft/decor ideas after staring at that tree day after day…i can’t wait πŸ™‚

  • Kelli - Thank you for sharing your photos! Loved my tree hunting tradition best, my fav. photos all year long. We found one of my children is allergic to the trees and has a hard time breathing all of Dec. We had to go with a fake tree and change our tradition. Now we have family hunt up and play in snow day. That makes for some fabulous photos and the side bit that made the change real easy. . . we do it in January, after all the busy-ness.

  • Jen - Your hair is rocking in these pics. Thought you should know.

  • giozi - Ha ha ha the bessssssssssttttttttttttttttt your girl over your husband, ha ha ha you make me smile. I love them.
    Ohh how growing πŸ™
    A big kiss

  • Jen - i love how you add a child in every year from 2007 to 2009 <3

  • Mirys - Hi Ashley!

    I launched a campaign on my kids’ blog to try to “change the world” or at least change the December for someone. And I would like to invite you to join us!

    It works like this: from today until 25, I will write 25 articles on spectacular things of life, those we can not live without. Those that make you smile, only to see them. Things that if someone do for someone else could change the day of the second oneΒ΄s day and turn it better.

    So, please, take a look there on the blog (http://diariodos3mosqueteiros.blogspot.com/2010/12/25-coisas-imprescindiveis-na-vida.html). And if you like the idea, could you help me to disclose?

    NOTE: If you want to give me the pleasure of writing a whole text of one of the days … be my guest! It will be an honor!

    Kisses and blessings.
    Mirys – http://www.diariodos3mosqueteiros.blogspot.com

    PS: the traductor is not great but I think you can read our blog, now!

  • Helena - Great picture!

  • Helena - We use to make a card every year to send to our friends with a picture just like that!

  • Taylor - How is it that each year there is another child in the photo yet your always so thin?! Lucky duck.

  • amber - We did this for the first time this year…with a 3 year old & an 11 month old. Lots of baby carrying. And a hike back to the porta-potty. Ew. But…they both had a ton of fun, were so excited, & we think it’s a tradition FOR SURE! Thanks for sharing…it’s so fun seeing your older boys, thinking of my oldest being good buddies one day! You guys are awesome:).

  • Anna - Wow, you guys cut down your own tree? You are so cool. We just run down to Walmart to get ours! hehehe…maybe next year when G is more into it we’ll try cutting down the tree ourselves!

  • Jamie - I love the boys’ faces while they’re so intent on watching Daddy work. We left our tree bare last year with only a silver star on top and those cute pearl-looking lights from Target — and that was it! I honestly thought it was super cute and am considering doing it that way from now on.

  • Kirra Sue - Your kids are soooooooooooooooo cute. So cute! Have fun dreaming up ideas for that Christmas tree of yours!!!

  • hearttypat - it doesn’t seem so long ago when I was reading your family’s tree-hunting last year… and look! Here’s another family photo at this year’s tree-hunt again! Time flies!

  • Shannon Phillips - So FUN!!!! I am sure you will come up with something creative and amazing for the decorations on the tree. Mine still only has lights on it too but it sure is pretty. πŸ˜‰ Happy December C family!

  • ashley jensen - I love that FireCracker is laying on Chris while he is trying to cut down the tree! I cant sit or lay on the floor with out my daughter hanging on me in some way or weasling her way into my lap.

  • brooke - We went on the tree hunt this past weekend too!! So much fun…it was our first time to go out and cut our own. I loved it!

  • Anne M - You and your family (those wonderful kids) bring me back down to earth. Thank you for constantly reminding me of all the simple things in life and the beauty of it all.

  • Aja - I love this!! We used to go to the Christmas tree farm every year growing up too, and I cherish the memories!! Do you mind sharing where you guys went? I’m not originally from Tulsa, and my husband has never gone to a local tree farm, so he doesn’t know where to go.. I would love to start this holiday tradition in our family. Thanks!!!
    Oh- and that picture of FireCracker laying on Chris while he’s cutting down the tree is too much! Adorable.

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  • Amy - Congratulations to all the winners!

  • BriBedell - Congrats!! Maybe someday I will get lucky πŸ™‚

  • emily (justem) - Oh Miss Amy Coose I am VERY jealous!! πŸ˜‰

  • Amy Coose - I can’t BELIEVE it!!! Woohooooo!

  • anne c - congrats!

  • Anna - Yay for the winners!
    I was reading your graphic and it said “winers” and it made me giggle that the winners were all winers as well. I’m weird. πŸ™‚

  • monique - thank you ashley!

Giveaway Day contests close at 5:00pm tonight.

If you’ve attended a SnapShop you’ve heard me talk about how I prefer to use prime lenses (50mm, 85mm) over zoom lenses. Well, I am trying to use my 24-70mm more often now. It is my favorite lens to do tutorial posts with, but other than that I typically didn’t use it often. When I took my camera in for repairs I got scolded for how dirty is was on the inside. I had never had it professionally cleaned, which I knew I should have. She told me if I want to change lenses so much I should buy a cheaper camera body! I disagree, but I am trying to be more aware of not changing my lens so much. I won’t be going for a cheaper body, but I am going to be more intentional about getting my camera professionally cleaned once a year. By the way, if you are in the Tulsa area I HIGHLY recommend The Camera Clinic for repairs.

Photo Tip: All of the photos below were taken with my 24-70mm lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/125. What I did change was the focal length (the #before the mm…24mm, 50mm, 70mm…how far I zoomed in or out, you can see this by looking at the number on your lens near where it connects to the camera)

So here are just a few pictures of why I wish I had Go Go Gadget arms that turned into brooms.

70mm

30mm

70mm

57mm, 62mm

52mm

70mm

70mm

She won’t sit in a bucket anymore. Bummer.

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  • Lydia - Thanks for posting more photos with the zoom lens! I have a zoom lens for my rebel, but my husband has a 30mm and an 85mm for his 20D. I find myself always hunting for his camera so I can borrow the 30mm. You’ve inspired me to play with my zoom lens. Thanks!

  • Lindsay - Those eyelashes are amazing. She is just amazingly cute!
    Thanks for the showdown on lenses. It’s nice to see the difference they all bring.

  • Katie - She is too cute! I love all of her little outfits and the way you dress her, where do you get the majority of her clothes? I’m pregnant with a girl after two boys and am finding it more difficult than I thought to find good quality not over the top girl clothing.

  • Anna Marie - She has your profile in that last photo. You dress her so cute by the way.

  • mary liz cawley - Especially at this time of year – thank you for the reminder that when you turn around and see an emptied box of puffs to relish the moment rather than curse it. Thanks for your daily blessings in my life thru your blog.

  • Ruth - That looks exactly like a scene from my house with my 18 month old. I just wouldn’t be able to photograph it as well, especially with all the steam coming from my ears. Thanks for the tips!

  • Danielle - That is what our dog is for. I don’t want to know what they would say about my camera! Hopefully it is not too dirty! Thanks for the recommend in Tulsa!

  • Jane - FireCracker is adorable as ever! Funny that you’re mentioning the 24-70mm zoom. I’ve been debating back and forth which lens to get next and having a hard time deciding between the 85mm f/1.4 and the 20-70mm f/2.8. (I have the 50mm f/1.4 and LOVE it, now that I know how to use my camera – thanks again!) I have a Nikon (DX for now, but planning to upgrade to a full frame, FX, when they do the update for the D700 model sometime next year). I’d like the zoom, but the Nikon prediction sites are calling for an update to the 20-70mm lens in the coming year, so I don’t want to make such an investment and have it become obsolete within a few months. So, I think I’ll go with the 85mm for now which was just updated earlier this year. I have a zoom (18-200mm) for my current DX format camera, but I avoid using it if I can because the sharpness and crispness of the shots just isn’t there compared to the 50mm.

  • Krista Lund - she is just too cute for words! Love her chubby little hands full of cheerios- adorable!

  • Jenny Joy - I hate to admit it, but the camera talk is Greek to me. *hanging head in shame* However, you had me at Firecracker. She’s so sweet I could eat her with a spoon. πŸ™‚

  • jessica h - she’s so precious–messes and all! hey, at least she “helps” you clean up πŸ™‚

  • nori - omgoodness! who could get after that lil nugget??? she is so beautiful!

  • heather - she has THE best eyelashes. πŸ™‚

  • tracie ruffner - I love your photo tips. Thanks you. I was wondering if I could shoot a family of six with my 50mm 1.8? I feel like it would be better to have a zoom lens. What is your thoughts.

  • Missy - Ok, I’m so relieved to know that it’s not just my little girl that wants to put ALL of the cheerios in her mouth at the same time. Even if she has 50 on her tray. I laughed out loud at that picture. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you have such great camera skills to capture these moments!

  • Kate @ another donkey design - What beautiful photos. They make me want to immediately go home and grab my camera and baby and get shooting!

  • amber - Yes, yes, yes…to the go, go, gadget broom arms! I’m SO tired of sweeping…& mopping. My super cute kids are the one’s that cause all those messes. I won’t complain…but I will dream of those arms. Btw…I’m lovin’ Firecracker’s hairline:). She’s soo precious!

  • eheddings - Man, do I wish I had your photography skills. I am truly inspired.

  • Telise - These pictures are precious and priceless….the days of our lives with little ones around. And thank you for making me feel like a good mom, even though my boy eats cherrios or gold fish or graham crackers off the floor! My Mom literally came by one day and asked if I was going to sweep those crackers off the floor…I told her nope, I’ve already cleaned them up 15 times…evidently they taste better off the floor!

  • chelsea - haha so cute