Contest is now closed, Jenny P. has the last counting comment.

We’ve air traveled with kids….we took an 18 month old to China, a 20 month old to Wyoming, an 11 month old to Seattle, a 2 yr old & 6 month old to Hawaii….we’ve air traveled with kids. We have never flown with ALL our kids.

We are getting ready to take THIS on an 8 hour plane ride:

Well we’re taking THAT plus a non-stop busy body of a little girl. The Target dollar section is helping me stock up on goods for the trip.

It will just be Chris and I with these 4 travelers:

I am pretty sure the boys will sit still and be content for 8 hours of air travel if it means they get to play video games and watch movies. We were planning on taking a portable dvd player and a bunch of disks. Guess that is old school. A friend told us we could fill iphones or itouches with movies and games….which among our friends we can round up that many old versions. So each kid is going to get a currently unused iphone filled with movies and games. Genius. So much smaller and easy to pack than a dvd player and disks. I am so behind the times. We are looking into some new apps for the kids. A blog reader pointed out the apps-jr store to me. We are trying out the Match-a-Roo Zoo. It is too simple for our 6 year old, but it is designed for preschoolers anyway. The 2 & 4 year old are still checking it out. I like the graphics, they like the animal noises.

I usually only do one giveaway a week, but who doesn’t like the chance to win something? This time it won’t be a random winner. I have 5 codes for Match a Roo Zoo to pass on, but I am picking the winners. I will not show favor to friends, but I won’t exclude friends either. Here’s the details:

Contest ends Friday, Sept. 3rd 9:00pm US Central

5 winners will receive a promo code to get a copy of Match-a-Roo Zoo from the apps-jr store

Winners will be my favorite 5 comments

In the comment section give me some type of advice for enduring an 8 hour plane ride with a 6, 4, 2 and 1 year old

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and it totally unrelated news (other than marrying him led to the plane traveling with 4 kids)


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  • Kristin - Bring a big roll of tinfoil for each kid to make free form sculptures. Imagine all the little soldiers and swords and battles they could make in 8 hours! For Firecracker I would bring lots of lollipops. Good luck!

  • LauraC - Please do not enter me into the giveaway, just wanted to share a tip.

    I would ALSO bring the DVD player, if possible. When we travel with my boys, they each have an ipod touch and they never watch an entire video on it because they are so distracted by the possibility of games! Also, they tend to look down at the ipod and if there is turbulence, it’s nice to have a dvd player on a tray table so they can look forward.

    Also do you have headphones for everyone? Life savers! They make kid/toddler headphones that are available at Target. I bought my boys ifrogz a long time go and the headphones are virtually indestructible. I say this as a mother of twin four year old boys :) (aka product durability testers)

    I also recently picked up a travel bingo at Target that I love. They had some other good travel games there as well.

    Good luck on the 1 year old. We had our worst flight ever OF ALL TIME when my boys were 15 months old.

  • Reidunn - Happy anniversary Ashley!
    Have you tried audiobooks for children? I know they work on long road trips. Another suggestion is playing card games.
    Enjoy your journey.

  • Jenny - I’ve never traveled 8 hours with 4 kids, I’ve only done 5 hours with 2 kids however…bandaids are a cheap, time consumming “toy”, my son stuck them to everything and anything and they were easy to clean up! I also usually bring along those tiny tubs of playdough (the “treat” size) and that works well! Although I would recommend taking it out of your carry on bag when you go through security, the 1st time I took the playdough through they did a total search of my bag and told me next time to take it out and place it in one of the small plastic containers that they give you to put your keys/wallet/etc. in so that it doesn’t see off any alerts! Best wishes and have fun wherever your adventures are taking you!

  • Gevay - Please don’t enter me either-I don’t have an iphone. I have flown many times with my boys and I always take coloring books and books, action figures and candy, but none of that entertains them as much as a video except the candy which you can’t continue giving them for the entire flight :) ! So my advice is to take the dvd player anyway. Just in case. I’ll be praying for you. Have a safe trip!

  • Lucy - Please don’t enter me in the contest. But I do have some ideas. I recently traveled by myself with my 3 girls (3, 2, and 2 months) and this is what helped me survive. Each of the older girls had their own small backpack. Inside were several small wrapped toys. They got to unwrap one each at regular intervals (you might want to try one an hour). I used simple things like pez dispensers, matchbox cars, small books, and playmobil figurines. This worked really good for me because it was brand new stuff they had never seen before. And because they only had one new thing at a time, I felt it made the play last longer. Also, when you see a child getting antsy, you can just suggest they open another “present”. The other thing that worked fantastic for me was coloring books and crayon rolls. I don’t know if your boys are into coloring, but I made my own little coloring books by finding pictures of things we would be doing on our trip. The girls like coloring anyway, but it was really exciting for them to see all the things they would be doing. I hope there is something there you can use. Good luck!

  • Sara Smith - I second the idea on the headphones…my son thought the sound of the engine was WAY too loud, so he could listen to his music/movies and also block out the loud vibrating sound. My BEST tip is to take lots of those little dumdum suckers for take off and landing. Seems my kids had such a hard time popping their ears, but once I gave them the suckers they would suck on those and then swallow…and everything was better. Last tip is to pray for a sweet mommy, who has also brought kids on a plane, to sit beside you and smile (and help)…instead of a cranky, mean person who never traveled with kids. Makes it more enjoyable. Good luck!

  • Carol - Happy Anniversary. Love you both very much.

  • Jen - I travel a lot with my kids and a few of our favorite travel things are: stickers, movies, Crayola Magic Clay (doesn’t get all over the seats, etc.), snacks, tic tac toe, coloring books, crayons (washable), new little figurines, and match box cars. I don’t have that app and it looks great!

  • Noelle - We travel a lot. Last year we took a 5, 3, and 6 week old to Hawaii (from Maryland). We visit family on the west coast once or twice a year and next year after we have our fourth we’ll be heading to Hawaii again. Love that place.

    My tip is to underpack for the kids. I always want to stock up on a million crayons and sketch books and paints and what I’ve found is that they are so interested in the new environment that the toys they find entertain them so much better than I could have expected. The magazines and emergency exit card they give you in the back of the seats are very interesting to little kids. With the iphones, a few books, and a couple of drawing tools you should be set! Good luck!

    Also, our favorite apps for kids are: skee ball, kid calc, pickin’ time, and cookie doodle.

  • Colleen C - Similar to Lucy’s thought with the wrapped gifts … but (and this might not work for your little lady because she is a little too little) you could wrap a small gift and show it to them before they get on the plane and let them know they will receive it when you land as long as they are on good behavior for the plane ride. A little bribery never hurt anyone :)

  • Lori K - Don’t have advice. Don’t have an ipod, iphone,or itouch…but I will must say I love the picture in the vintage tv and the wallpaper. Love it. Please someday tell me, show me how to do that…it’s awesome. Good luck with all that, is all I can say. Please video tape it – could be great reality show. 4 kids -on a plane.

  • Jodi - I have only braved it with 2. But they are both under 3 and a handful. It sounds like you have a well stocked arsenal and the essentials. Other than what you have, my bag of tricks is to have their all time favorite snack or treat as BRIBERY for buckling seat belts and sitting quietly. And then on top of that, I pack a “special surprise bag”. It’s filled with little odds and ends for my girls–bracelets, dolls, fun dollar filled prizes. I also wrap up a few things in wrapping paper and when they get bored moved onto the next prize. I sewed up a tiny little purse to fit it all into. It did WONDERS. Good luck and have fun!

  • Tracey - Don’t tell any physicians you are doing this, but benadryl helped our kids (2.5 and 6months) sleep during the 16 hour flight to Asia. Of course they didn’t sleep the whole sixteen hours, that would be dangerous. But, it relaxed them enough to help them sleep. There is one problem. We heard benadryl can have to opposite effect on some kids. So, you might test it out before you hype one or two up for the entire flight. Try at your own risk.

  • Jodi - Oh and don’t pick me either. No Iphone in this household yet. ps…I second the lollipop. Use it for bribery and it helps with the popping of ears for takeoff and landing!

  • Candace - Two things I say can fix any situation: prayer and duct tape. May the force be with you! 😉

  • Arden - Wine and a DROWSY motion sickness pill. You’ll be out like a light 😉

  • amanda torres - I am also behind the times and don’t even want to go ‘there’ (iphone)because I wouldn’t even know how to get an app. But I do have one piece of advice…Let them run amuck on the plane. Other passengers should step up and entertain them. After all it’s their sanity too. Then you can pretend it’s a second honeymoon!

  • Angela - I was going to say Benadryl :P…
    but I like Candace’s advice better…”prayer and duct tape.” LOL

    Happy Trails!

  • Amber Nicole - Say a prayer, then duct tape their mouths shut!

    Only joking…. Hit up places like the dollar tree and buy cheap toys. They’ll be new and interesting to the kids for a while and the boys can rotate them.

  • Deanna - I don’t have any “plane” tips….but one thing that has always helped me pack is packing individual “outfits” in one ziploc bag….socks, underwear, shirt, pants all in one bag. That way I just pull out a bag and we’re ready to go for the day. I can also easily see how many outfits I have packed. As a bonus, if the clothes get dirty (which they always do), I simply put them back into the ziploc bag and they don’t “contaminate” the clean clothes. Good luck and have fun!

  • Amanda Fuentes - We’ve flown several times with our 3, 7yrs. and under. I always over pack, food is always a plus and DumDum lollipops. The MOST important thing with the 2 and under is the carseats. They are used to riding in them in the car so when you strap them in on the plane they more than likely aren’t going to resist and will ride more comfortably. A hassle lugging them around and installing but a lifesaver, especially when they fall asleep.

  • Amanda Fuentes - We’ve%20flown%20several%20times%20with%20our%203%2C%207yrs.%20and%20under.%20%20I%20always%20over%20pack%2C%20food%20is%20always%20a%20plus%20and%20DumDum%20lollipops.%20%20%20The%20MOST%20important%20thing%20with%20the%202%20and%20under%20is%20the%20carseats.%20%20They%20are%20used%20to%20riding%20in%20them%20in%20the%20car%20so%20when%20you%20strap%20them%20in%20on%20the%20plane%20they%20more%20than%20likely%20aren’t%20going%20to%20resist%20and%20will%20ride%20more%20comfortably.%20%20A%20hassle%20lugging%20them%20around%20and%20installing%20but%20a%20lifesaver%2C%20especially%20when%20they%20fall%20asleep.

  • ashley jensen - A Porable DVD player is NOT old school just yet (a lifesaver here) and I am not one to take many medications (ex: Benadryl)or give them to my family but desparate times call for desparate measures!!

  • ASH - Happy Anniversary! Sorry no tips on the kids .. no kids of my own yet. :)

  • Yvonne - Here we are: family with three children under 9 who has been travelling a lot by plane (intercontinental flights). We travelled Istanbul-Mexico and Mexico Germany and Istanbul-Bali and had long hours to wait . We always bought new books and magazines, some things to chew on (wine gums, liquorice, audio taped with a cd player with several ear phone plug-ins, a tiny special surprise for everyone, baby wipes for the in-between messes, a pair of spare clothes because some of them will either drop their meal on the lap, vomit on the plane or in the waiting lounge or in between, pee or something else. So better to have spare clothes and ziplock bags to take care of the mess… Another good thing is make a small flipthrough album with photographs of people places and things. They will look at them, talk about it and they can be easily distracted by showing photos and telling something about it. AND the staff will provide crayolas and things to entertain them and sometimes they can visit the staff in the kitchen pantry and get some extra jelly bears or biscuits!
    We always had two rows of seats and the children were split between my husband and me to make sure there is not such an uprow when three are together!
    The best of luck for you!
    Yvvonne

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  • Michelle - Please don’t ever me in the giveaway.

    My advice for kid travel is to not tell them what you’re bringing for them. Sometimes all of the new fun things are better kept as a surprise so they’re wondering what Mom is going to pull out next. That and packing a lot of snacks, you never know with travel if there will be a delay and a hungry child is a cranky child.

  • Brit - We love apps for our little toddler! He can watch movies, listen to toddler music (check out “Tractor, Tractor” by Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies), draw, and so much more. Some of his fave apps: Monkey Preschool lunchbox, First Words (they have all different kinds of these–animals, cars, etc), Madera & Figaro Save The Day, Wheels on the Bus (by Duck Duck Moose). Happy traveling!

  • Sarah - Happy Anniversary!

    We’ve only flown and driven long drives with one child. So I’m not much help on entertaining 4. But we did the same as you’re doing, buying little toys. I’d surprise her a couple times through out the trip with something new.. coloring books, my little pony, a book, a doll, whatever I happened to buy that time. And there was always a special backup new toy, that I knew she’d be super excited about should she just completely lose it. We had the lap top and lots of toddler dvds, and the kid sized headphones. And when we flew our 8 hour flight to hawaii with her, she was still using the pacifier so I had several backups just in case on that too. And snacks, lots of different snacks and some special favorites for freakout moments.

    And then I just pray for my patience and for help to remain calm in any situation.

    I’m not much help really.

  • Kirsten - Happy Anniversary!

    You don’t have to enter me in the drawing – Hubby and I are deathly afraid of getting an iPhone b/c both of us know we would spend waaaay too much time on it…but anyway, it looks like you are well-stocked for the journey! The only other thing I would recommend is snacks and drinks – for when they are hungry, but also for the ears when you’re going up and down. I had fruit snacks along the last time we flew, and ended up passing them down the aisle to the mom next to me who had two screaming girls with painful ears. worked like a charm!! hope you have a wonderful trip! can’t wait to see pics when you get back. :)

  • Shanalea Atchison - ok, so we have traveled cross country a few times with three, but most recently we took a trip to Canada with all four. We spent three days in the car before we even go to our destination. so my advice #1 if you try to control it all you will go crazy. you must be ready to let some things go and get some looks #2 (my mother in law helps with this one) We have gifts that they get to open after a certain point. If they get restless and start bugging each other, it’s time for a gift. They are things like candy, chapstick, crayons, a coloring book, books, and usually one DVD (for the boy and the $5 kind from Target) i suggest clutch powers – the lego one. My boys loved it. #3 food…bring snacks, that usually tames the beasts within.
    #4 with firecracker…I would walk her up and down the aisle if possible..it will keep her busy and she will win everyone over with her cuteness
    well, a longer post than normal, but those are a few of my tricks

  • Emily - I just got off a 6 hour trip with a 1 and 3 year old. (We’re headed on a transatlantic flight next).

    3 y/o: DVD, treats, Color Wonder finger paint, a random thing of tape (came in handy for LOTS of things, including taping napkins together as super hero capes for toys, tying up superheroes, tying mommy’s hands together, etc).

    1 y/o: “disposable toys” (the random crap from McDonalds, etc, where you don’t care if it rolls down the aisle and never comes back), suckers, stickers, really tacky flashing candy dispensers (can always find some at Target), lotsa trips up and down the aisle, get ice in a cup every time the stewardess comes (that with a bib for firecracker will entertain her for 30 minutes a pop). Last resort: Can always strip her down to her diaper… for some reason they always love that!

    Good luck!

  • Esther Nelson - sounds like you got things figured out with the toys and such. the only thing left to do to prepare is pray!!!

  • tawnya - I have always found that simple is best. Pez, dum dum suckers, and the best invention EVER for airplanes–triangular shaped crayons!! They are a little pricey, but they don’t ROLL off the tray! Trust me on this one, you WANT these. Otherwise you will spend all of your travel time bending over in your 1×1 space picking crayons off of the filthy dirty floor! And for baby girl–a stewardess handed us an empty plastic cup with a lid and a straw. Kept our daughter occupied for at least an hour! Happy travels, may the force be with you!

  • Michelle Z. - I make each of my boys a drawstring bag and put in surprises: stickers, pens or pencils, little plastic army men, Playmobil pieces. I always put in a clipboard for them to write on (smaller ones if we are going on a plane ride, regular size for car trips).

    THE BEST THING I EVER STUCK IN THEIR BAGS: satin eyemasks from the dollar store. Those things were played with almost non-stop.

    I also admit that plane trips = a slackening in the rules regarding candy consumption. I buy the biggest bag of M&M’s I can find and hand them out like, well, like candy. And sugarless gum.

  • Jenn W - DON’T include me in the giveaway, because I don’t have an i-phone! However, I wanted to tell you how brave I think you are for having the courage to fly with your children. We have a 4 yo, 3 yo and an 18 mo old. I do not think I would have the nerve to try. Also, Happy Anniversary!

  • ~abi~ - awww, i just want to say happy anniversary! :)

  • anne c - I really wouldn’t be able to put the app to use yet so don’t count me in the picking! BUT I just wanted to say happy anniversary and that I will be praying for a safe/sane travel for you and your family! You and Chris will keep things in order (at least that is what I believe only based on my reading your blog :) ). I think the best advice I can give would be to drink enough caffine to keep up with Firecracker! You will need tons of energy to entertain her..unfortunately one year olds need constant entertainment (i’ve learned recently through experience). They are not quite into things that provide instant gratification like the older kids…..by the way….when can I look forward to that? haha
    remember to have fun even in the chaos! :)

  • Joy - Something I always wanted to try I think I read in cookie mag and the idea of the drawstring bag for ea of them is similar…. but I wonder if you could wrap one small surprise for them for some set amount of time. So at say 2 hours and 6 hours in they get to unwrap something completely new and just for them. Since you have the whole gang I wonder if it’d be fun to get them something that is a set. They could play with the indv pieces but if they could also all play together with the whole thing if they were in a collaborative mood!

    Best of luck! (so far my son has slept completely through all the plane rides. I know this will not continue so I will look for your guidance on how this all goes!)

  • anne c - OH the “unfortunatley one year olds need constant entertainment” is just in a situation like this when you will be on a plane for 8 hours..not on a normal basis! I LOVE that Kate requires my attention all the time right now…b/c I know that one day she isn’t going to let me play with her :(

  • Sara - We live overseas and the last time we did the 15 hour flight back to the States to visit family our girls were 3 and not quite 18 months. I did the wrapped gifts but the 3 year old only unwrapped a couple. They are helpful for her to look forward to while we are waiting to board and then something to do while lifting off and landing since you can’t play an Ipod then. She mainly just watched the Ipod and played games. She didn’t sleep a wink but entertained herself! I did buy a monster digital scrapbook element kit from Jacque Larsen at The Lilypad and printed and laminated the pieces and put Velcro on them and the girls enjoyed making monsters. The 18 month old was a hand full and I used almost everything I packed for her! We were lucky enough to get an empty seat for her and used her car seat and that helped a ton because she wasn’t crawling all over me. But she would still scream if she got bored for too long! The Ipod would work for a few minutes — I would play games for her that made animal sounds or other things. She enjoyed taking the monster apart a few times. She really liked band-aids and stickers. Little snack bags of snacks helped a lot. She also liked the wrapped gifts — it would entertain for 5 minutes or so. Then we walked her up and down the aisle until she fell asleep and we said a little prayer of thanksgiving until we had to do the trip all over again a month later! 😉 By the way I’ve been a lurker for awhile but love your blog and pictures and all of your ideas!

  • ashlee - my advice involves seditives:) just kidding…kinda. My kids eat a ton and the older ones keep their hands busy while the younger ones must keep their mouths busy. it sounds like you are doing exactly what i would do…minus the benadryl:)

  • Kristen D - oh, I like the first tin foil idea!

    (warning…run on sentences, here we come)

    My advice for baby girl: 1. PRAY!!!!! 2. pray that you aren’t stuck on the tarmac for a long time. 3. Try to be one of the last to board (as annoying as it is to play pin ball down the aisle with all your kids and your stuff and all the other passengers….baby girl won’t have to sit as long) 4. pray you get really great flight attendants (that don’t make you hold your screaming child in a bear hug while you take off and land and who don’t make you keep the child in ONE LAP ONLY, NO PASSING YOUR CHILD ACROSS THE AISLE)(that was a a flight to remember, good thing it was the short leg). 5. lollipops work wonders, but are messy. 6. A little children’s dramamine works great for our kids 7. a WHOLE lot of luck!

    Have fun!

  • Mariah - hmmm… I think I might go ahead and bring the DVD player and a couple of tried and true discs. 8 hours is a LONG time. You might be happy that you can mix it up a bit. Here’s my other tip… either visit the dollar store, or the clearance section, or even the bottom of the kids’ toybox (I usually go that direction, they don’t seem to notice that the toy is from their closet. although, your bigger boys might) and wrap up a couple of small little presents for each kiddo. When things get… um… unpleasant, everyone has a little present to open. It’s the surprise of having a present, and the fun of opening it that dries up the tears. Wrap up a couple for you and Chris too… everybody likes presents! :)

  • Jill - Have you ever used Wiki Stix? They take up very little space and can be very entertaining. Your boys can take their lego building skills and try to create with Wiki Stix instead! We travel a ton and always bring these with us. Oh and a LOT of snacks – food always keeps my kiddos busy : ) Good luck!

  • Ang - I may have already mentioned this, but . . . ear plugs are cheap. Buy enough to pass out to those seated around your lovely family before the flight takes off!

  • kbonikowsky - I’ve done much traveling with kids (not four!) too. For the little one:
    scotch tape;
    paper clips attached end to end in a box or tin with a lid that she can take it in and out of, over and over;
    buy a bunch of earplug sets at a local safety store…handing them out to nearby passengers if she starts a fit earns much goodwill.

    Good luck!

  • Moriah - This worked for just one little munchkin, but every hour of the plane ride to Germany, we let him open a small gift. The gifts were little, $1 items or snacks, but the anticipation of opening a gift was great and by the time he got bored of it, it was time to open another.

  • Jessica Lynette - So… I’ll make up a tip for you because I really want to win this, but really I am SO excited about this contest – I am going to EAT UP these entries as I (as in, me, myself and I. Alone.) am taking my 2 and 3 year old boys to Nigeria (West Africa) all alone in November. A 16 hour non.stop.flight. {See why I need to win this app?!?}

    Anyways – my tip-that-I-am-making-up-off-the-top-of-my-head is to take Googley eyes and double sided tape and entertain your kids {and yourself} by attaching the eyes to all sorts of different things.
    We did it at 5 Guys and a Burger once and gots lots of stares. And had SO much fun! Googley eyes on peanuts just work.

  • SeaminglySarah - The legal definition of “bribery” is making someone do something illegal. So count these tips more along the lines as INCENTIVES! That’s what got me through potty training. A travel tip? Oh boy. The last time we flew on a plane with (just) one kid, she was 6 months old and breastfeeding. The nursing worked like a charm. I doubt that will help you out on this trip. Good luck!

  • Florence - Enjoy the travel! We have travelled quite a bit with our 3 (now 2,4 and 7)…. We’ve been lucky that some flights were overnight — so lots of sleeping for the kids but just in case I made a special bag for each of them filled with different toys for each – lego’s for the oldest (the kind that you can make 3 different things out of one), small plastic animals for the other and always lots of coloring things as well as stickers and a blank notebook…

    What also helps is taking along my own snacks — I know that they will enjoy the drinks on board, but the food…. they like the things they know )and I really don’t want them to whine….

    Also I try to avoid candy — just because mine tend to get busier than normal…

    Best thing I have found if we don’t make a big deal of the travel and their behavior, neither do they and they will just sit, watch movies, play, etc…

    Enjoy!

  • Lisa P. - Oh yikes! Good luck with the madness that is bound to ensue! Hang in there and have fun with the fam!! (and my advice is totally not appropriate for an airplane ride…but I was thinking boys are always entertained with a tampon!) hehe!!

  • Haylee - The hardest thing for my family has been getting through security…. have everybody wear easy to remove shoes!!!!

  • Natalie - Happy anniversary!
    I have flown (by myself) with my then-17-month-old girl on a 12-hour transatlantic flight (I was also 5 months pregnant at the time). My advice is to bring with you a whole lot of patience and snacks. My little one enjoyed walking up and down the aisles the most and saying hi to any passenger that made eye contact with her. The worst moments were during take off, landing, and turbulence when I would have to keep her sitting on my lap. During those times I sang all the songs I could think of and gave her snacks. Bring lots of wet wipes and a change of clothes for you as well (her messy hands are bound to grab on to you before you have a chance to wipe them).
    My daughter was starting to get interested in my iPhone at around 13 or 14 months, so you may consider bringing another one that she can look at with you. At first, my girl enjoyed flipping through pictures of herself and people familiar to her. Now she is very much into apps, movies, and music.
    On an unrelated note – I am really enjoying reading everyone’s comments and tips today: I am learning about many new apps I can get for my daughter as she starts to lose interest in what we already have. So thanks everyone!

  • Brook - We used to live in Japan with our four kids and I think I’ve flown internationally with all of them 6 or 7 times. You can totally do it. Just keep in mind that every kid has a fussy time of day or gets cranky so that may happen on the plane and stay calm.

    It sounds like you are set with the toys. I always bring a thing of tootsie pops because sometimes when your kid just loses it you need something for an emergency screaming situation and it’s really hard to scream with a giant sucker in your mouth. I’d also bring some motrin or baby tylenol. When you get on a long flight everyone may seem fine at the beginning but there is nothing worse than a kid suddenly getting sick or a fever with nothing to give them.

    I’d also explain security in detail to the kids before getting to the airport so they understand they will have to hand over their very favorite things to go through the scanner.

    Good luck!

  • Christian T - Drug them!

    😉

  • amy - bahaha love this post…love the individual shots of the kids with their description!!!

  • Jill E - thats a long plane trip i have a heard time sitting down for that long. there are some great suggestions. playdo in small amounts might good as well as dvd/cds i would say making friends with the flight attendants might be good if they like you then can be really helpful. i used to play a lot of cards on the plane when i was a kid.

    also, happy anniversary!

  • Jill E - sorry about the duplicate comment

  • Giovanna - I don’t understand very well he he he. But I don’t go to my country only thing that is 11/12 hours. Madrid-Lima. And my children are almost 3y and 19m. Besides now I don’t like airplanes :).
    Well a suggest? Maybe a “chipote chillón” do you know “Chapulín Colorado”? and they go all travel sleeping, he he he, nooooo is a little bit caveman method.
    Better, I going to pray for you 😉

  • Mandy - Marshmellows – lots of them.

    Also, sometimes my 3 older kids (7,5,3) take a rotating shift to entertain the 1 year old – 15 minutes or so to pull out all their fun tricks – and about the time they wind down, or the baby has started to loose interest in that sibling, it’ll be another one’s turn – – fun times!

  • Katie - Here are a few of my thoughts, although long car rides are usually what we’re up to: I don’t bring out the technology until the kids are settled, relaxed and enjoying themselves. We talk about the plane, the way it works, the view, the other people, the trip, the excitement . . . maybe ask the boys to think of what their little sister might be feeling about the whole experience and what they could do to make her feel cozy. We read books, tell stories and do crafts and other activities before we bring out the videos. Not that they are a last resort, but that my girls (4 and 2) tend to respond better after the movie is done if they feel comfortable about the travel in general beforehand. Then the movie is just part of the enjoyment of the trip, not a distraction. Oh, and I make sure I’m well-rested and highly caffeinated so I can be patient and calm, to set the tone. Perhaps that’s the most important part. And, um, that doesn’t always work. Expect to have fun!

  • Aimee - I took my 18-mo old on a 4-hr flight… just a fraction of what you guys will be doing. The iPod Touch proved invaluable! We also went through quite a few lollipops – something that kept his mouth occupied and noises to a minimum. :) Good luck!

  • Heather - i don’t have an iphone, but i wanted to wish you a happy anniversary!! enjoy your day!

  • jill b. - Secret candy that you can pull out in dire need! Like one of their favorites or a new one that they didn’t know you packed. Stickers, Magic erase boards… Michael’s also has great $1 items Top apps for my 2 year old: Angry Birds (all your boys will LOVE), Elmo Audio Book, I closed my Eyes by Little Bella, and The Wheels on the Bus. Hope this helps!

  • Carol V. - Happy Anniversary! (Today is my 26th) Have a fun trip!

  • monique - getting there is half the fun! i have traveled regularly with my four kids – similar ages to yours but three girls and one handful of a 2 year old boy! #1 your pediatrician can give you a perscription for ear numbing drops – i always travel with these handy as little ears even with cotton inside are still pretty sensitive to pressure changes. #2 i gift wrap/package toys/projects that you are bringing – it makes them even more exciting and you can play guess what is inside before you get to the project! #3 pack lots of bite size food – blueberries eaten one by one take a long time to eat! #4 hefty brand has small plastic bags – they are great for all the garbage that accumulates (and just in case of nausea). #5 all my babies always loved playing with plastic cups that you get from the stewardesses – make a pile, spill a little ball back and forth… #6 bring a jump rope or play relay races in the airport before you go to get out as much energy as you can. finally – dont forget to pack your sense of humor! have a safe trip!

  • monique - i saw that many posters recommended play dog but tsa just confiscated all my play doh before a 12 hour international flight so just be prepared that you may have it taken away from you if you bring it.

  • Mountainash - I Spy books and I Spy Jars are fun. You could even make your own!

    When my children were under 3yrs, I could occupy them for quite some time with some candies or colorful small toys in a re-purposed plastic mayo jar. I would screw the lid on just tight enough to keep it challenging. Toddlers are keen on getting into things so I try to find acceptable ways to satisfy that need.

    Larabars are multipurpose. They can serve as snacks and are pliable enough to serve as modeling clay. Tootsie rolls work just as well if no one in your family is allergic to dairy.

  • andy - just go to sleep :) hehe

  • tasha roe - happy anniversary!!
    i am at a loss. i’ve never braved a trip like that with the kiddos. longest for us was 4 hours to Cali and my guys were little then – no miss crazy lady ella either. good luck!!

  • amber - A row of seats, with no seats in front of you, just helped me with my 8 month old (I flew Southwest, so it was the first row of seats that had the big open space in front of them). He could actually get down, play with toys, & pull up on things. He can’t run away yet like Firecracker, but at least she could GET DOWN, which is, after all, the goal of all small newly mobile children anyway, right?:)

    Yay for trips! AND anniversaries!!!

  • Trisch - We are also flying to Virginia tomorrow with our 2 year old. I hate to say this, but we do keep him up for the shortest flight and add give Benadryl for the longest flight. I know it induces a nap, but also helps with congestion and popping ears for the little guys. I’m taking a computer to watch Toy Story with earphones for kiddos. I have two suckers for take-off that have Xylitol in them (actually helps prevent tooth decay). I find if I can get him to drink or eat during take-off he is much better with his ears.

  • lifeologia - Happy Anniversary!

    Please don’t enter me in the giveaway, but I am thinking of games and movies to keep them busy, And also activity books with stickers 😉 they pack small but will be loads of fun even for the little one – all chosen to be age appropriate and to their interests.

    By the way, I’m doing a giveaway on my blog today that you will like for sure 😉
    http://www.lifeologia.com/back-to-school-treats-giveaway/

    it would be lovely for you to come and visit 😉

  • Sophie - Hopefully she might sleep? I dreaded our 6 hour flight to Dubai when ours was a tiny tot, but she slept the whole way, and she really is a busy little bee usually! She did exactly the same just after her 1st birthday to Sicily! We were shocked, but the lull of the plane engines did the trick! Otherwise, food food and more food!

  • Amy W - I was so nervous taking my one-year-old also….then, I discovered suckers, stickers, and free Sesame Street podcasts. The target dollar is always a must! Oh, and I gave my daughter her first dolly as we went on the plane…which kept her busy for a long long time. Good luck! Sounds like you are doing a good job planning!

  • Ranee - 1. make friends with the passengers sitting near you..traveling is so much better when you don’t have cranky people giving you looks.
    2. pray for patience…half the battle is being able to handle whatever situation comes with grace.
    3. enjoy it…who could really get upset with sweet little wonder woman anyway??

    my son was 18 months when we went on an eight hour flight to germany…it wasn’t the most fun flight, but the trip was so wroth it!happy anniversary and i’m sure you’ll have a great trip!

  • MelissaM - It sounds like you have a great plan for the boys. For B, maybe some special snacks that she has never had before. That might be hard to find non-processed healthy snacks but anything new might help capture her attention. And snacks usually make my little Lily pretty happy. Also, the DVDs Baby Praise are awesome. We never let Lily watch TV or videos except for Baby Praise & she loved at B’s age and still loves it today. She is now singing the praise songs that are sung in it, which I love. :) It really helps capture her attention for al long time.

  • Tonia - First, feel free to enter me in place of all these crazy girls who have said, “don’t enter me in the giveaway!” :)
    Travel tips with 3 boys and 1 girl under the age of 9 (and in my case baby #5 on the way!)?
    1. Go ahead and just get your own plane. That would be best.
    2. If #1 is not an option make friends with those around you… start by offering all passengers chocolate chip cookies. Go ahead and tell them that you are a famous blogger and you are doing a blog experiment on how passengers react to and treat large families during airline travel.
    3. Once you have identified the “your family is so adorable and your children are so well behaved” individual, ask said individual to read aloud to your boys. Pick a really long book… one that might take several hours to read.

    And… Happy Anniversary!

  • Karen - I’m warning you this may be long- only because we’ve had some great flights and some awful ones and I want to spare you an awful one :O) !
    To pack/try…
    *loads and loads of new kinds of snacks in tiny pouches for firecracker especially- so she can keep getting excited about trying something new. Rationing them out slowly worked great for us.
    *have you or your hubby take her to the back of the plane a few times to play on the ground where the flight attendants are. This has worked for us multiple times- the flight attendants love the company and the little one loves the freedom to move around a bit.
    *some kind of toy for her to play with on the ground- we let my guy when he was her age play on the ground in front of us (yes, in that super tight leg space) with small cars or whatever will tickle her fancy.
    *a spinning top- the kind you wind by pumping over and over- it’s one of our daughter’s (she’s the same age as firecracker) favorite toys and it would work well on a plane to distract and keep her busy trying to get it to go.
    *A few new small books with the flaps to lift up (we got some at the thrift store for cheap!) so she can actively look at them.
    *her own set of headphones to play with as she will most likely want what her brothers have.
    *Sunglasses for her- they buy us at least 5-10 minutes of joy right before or during a meltdown.
    *A small mirror in your purse (so they allow those?)- either a compact type or a kid one for her to look at herself.
    *lots of patience/prayer for you as parents, an attitude of teamwork to pull it off successfully and lots of smiles for the people around you if she does in fact have some rough moments. Hope you have a great trip!

  • Stacy - When our oldest was 1, she was obsessed with an old pop bottle with rice in it. She loved to shake it, rattle it…it entertained her for hours.
    For you boys, the typical snacks, games and stuff. But pick up the little composition books and have them “write” a book. Also, bring a small photo album for each boy with pictures in it from when they were babies, and holidays…our kids LOVE to look at their pictures!

  • tobi d - I know this is putsie-but wrap everything in wrapping paper. It takes a little longer to open but is cooler because you don’t know exactly what you are getting.

  • Jessica - Dramamine! Enough said!

  • Colleen - Happy Anniversary! As for my advise to you… pray and a lot! Hee! I took my daughter on a 6 hour flight this summer when she was 21 months and I won’t lie it was tough. The best thing for her was my lap top and a new DVD to watch (Nemo was a hit.) Also it helped that she was totally exhausted from getting up so early in the morning and ended up sleeping 2 of the 6 hours.. on me, but at least she slept. Oh, another tip. I apologied to the person in front of my seat in advance for any little 21 month old seat kicks her might get and let him know I’d be doing my best. I think this helped. At least he knew I was trying to prevent the kicking.

  • Asha - I just have a tip, don’t enter me in the contest.
    For our recent plane trip my then 5 & 3 year olds were surprisingly good. I had bought at Walmart in the book section the Lego minifigure Ultimate Sticker Book. You can find these on amazon too. It groups minifig categories and he has to find the sticker that matches in the back of the book. HOURS of entertainment. Never heard a peep out of him. Not only that, he continued in the hotel room and the plane ride home because the book is huge. I’ll bet your 6 & 4 year old would love this.

  • tiffani - If your boys are good with gum, (Meaning they can chew it without the majority of it ending up in their hair) let them chew it especially during take off and landing. It helps a ton with ear pressure problems. I know that only covers the first and last few minutes, but any trip started with sore ears is a looooong trip. 😉

  • Karen - For the one year old…this sounds dumb, but my 1 year old played with small boxes for an obscene amount of time. I had old jewelry boxes that nested inside of each other. I would put small things in them (tiny finger puppet (IKEA has packs of cheap ones), goldfish cracker, matchbox car) and he was delighted with each new opening. Plus it took him a little while to get them opened, so it was a challenge for him. Perhaps he’s a simple mind, but it worked. HA! I also had a lipstick case and a plastic Easter egg that had a snap that I would hide things in. good luck – love your blog!!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Hi! Ok ~ favorite tips:
    Wrap the the toys (each and every one) like presents. It buys at least 1 minute and 17 seconds. And it could be that 1 minute and 17 seconds that saves your bacon.

    Tape. Tape is awesome. It can go on your nose. It can go on the airplane window. It can tape drawings to the seats in front of you. Amen.

    Pez. Pez are always fun and silly and take a long time to load.

    Hope these help!

  • Michelle W. - So, although I am a twenty-something, “apps” are beyond me. So I’m simply commenting because I cannot help myself. I am one of four children, all four born within a 7 year span. My parents took us on many long flights and video game type things are the BEST. I keep seeing people recommending candy… candy is good, but in resealable bags!! There’s nothing like mom’s face when she sees 20 melted Jr. Mints on little brother’s tush: “Is that..????” We pretty much kept each other entertained: coloring, video games (accept we all had our own gameboys– no iphones then: ), playing with the tray table, trying to dial numbers on the archaic plane phones… the usual. No matter how the plane ride goes, I”m sure your trip will result in awesome memories. From, A Proud Member of the “Four ‘n’ More Club” (what my mom always called “large” families like ours with 4+ kids)

  • Jennifer H. - Lots and lots of new gifts from the dollar section, or the craft section. Just a hint…security does not like floam or moon sand! I try to wrap each cheap little gift as well, then the kids get to open a new surprise, and often times the baby will play with the wrapping paper just as much as the gift. Super stretchies work better than half the toys or games, and yes, I’d bring a laptop or portable dvd player and headphones as well as the iPhones/iTouches. Snacks, water bottles (have to buy after you go through security), change of pants for anyone who might have an accident. As a military mom who’s flown completely across country by herself with the kids…total of four kids under ten at the time…you can do it! Good luck!

  • mandi - Remember colorforms? those are awesome because they stick to plane windows or trays.

  • melanie - My suggestions are different from most, but after 30 hours of traveling with kids, I think the advice is worth something…

    * Don’t take too much! They’ll be entertained by the plane, eat a snack, play a game, take a nap, repeat…
    * Take enough snacks
    * Take enough benadryl
    * Don’t stay up the night before finishing packing…you need to have rest before you get on the plane!
    * And if all else fails, ask them to bump you to first class and let C handle the kids (or you could take turns!)

  • Pamela - We drove to Florida with our 2 boys for spring break… To keep complaining and fighting to a minimum, I gave them each a role of quarters at the start of the trip. Each time they asked, “how much longer?” or “are we there yet?” they had to give me a quarter. Hitting your brother required surrendering 2 quarters.
    Any quarters they had leftover when we got to our destination could be used in any machinebthey came across or spent on what they wanted.
    It worked like a charm!

  • Aunt Sandy - Happy Anniversary Ashley and Chris. Here’s to many, many more amazing years together. I am so glad I have had the chance to watch you and your family grow over the years. I still don’t know how you get all that you do done, but, you do, and you do it well. I am proud to be your (wild and crazy) Aunt Sandy

  • Conni M - I traveled a lot as a kid … and on 12/14/day long flights YIKES … so my brother and I got very resourceful and imaginative {this was way before dvds LOL} … my advice is.
    1. GUM .. goes a long way for the ear drums {for the baby give her a bottle at take off .. and strave her before}
    2. Try and sit in a 3 seater a row in front and back (like row one and row two). Then take the blankets they provide and put them over the seat backs one row to the next .. makes a super cool fort. Bring little flashlights for them. The window turns into a porthole. It is a totally cool place to sit bringing up both arm rests, we rocked our forts. If you sit in front there is no ‘kicking’ the people in front of you :)
    3. Don’t sweat the small stuff .. roll with it!!

    Have fun!!

  • Lindsay - 3 words for you.
    Ben. A. Dryl.

  • Michele - My 4yo has cashed in a few frequent flier tickets. Wanted to add – don’t forget lots and lots of snacks that travel well, dried fruit, jerky (for the grown ups mostly!), small apples, granola bars, dehydrated fruit or veggies, grapes, lollipops for extra treats, etc. You can get kids apple sauce and small juice boxes through security. For long haul flights I bring on those small tuna fish cracker set-ups for a more savory snack.

    And ignore the advice on drugging your children. This can totally back-fire. Just go with the flow!

  • Kim - Duct tape and a bottle of wine! : )

  • Desiree - Happy Anniversary! Thanks for posting this! I read all the great tips and wrote down a bunch. We’re traveling across the country with our daughter next year. She’ll be 2.

  • JoLynn - Good luck to you! They will most likely surprise you and be very good. Just be prepared for the worst, and it usually is always better than that. :)

    Pack things that you normally never let them have for “fun” anyways. Like band-aids and little barrettes that they can clip on things. I find that my girls like the things that aren’t {meant to be} toys the most.

  • Jolie - Happy anniversary!!!

    I can’t offer any help on travelling with 4 littles, but have a decent amount of experience of travelling on my own with 2, including a couple of 30+ hour air journeys! The iphone games and movies sound genius, but here are a couple of other things that really helped us enjoy the journey (or at least make me less inclined to develop a drinking problem onboard the plane!!!): foam stickers – the older kids can make up stories with them (they stick to seat backs and trays without leaving any residue), and the youngers can concentrate on the important things…like seeing how many each person can stick on their face; you can play *who am I* with an animal sticker on your forehead etc etc, as well as using them as the base for artwork. A blank booklet each – for colouring, writing, scribbling, stickers etc. Never underestimate the power of a small pompom (like those glittery ones you can buy in bulk packs from the dollar store) and 2 plastic cups for your wee girl – this *game* saved me on a 9 hour flight alone with them (I am eternally grateful to the flight attendant who showed it to me – and we used wrapped boiled sweets instead of pompoms, since the kids didn’t know any better! Individually wrap some of the new things – it adds an extra 10 seconds of enjoyment to the process for your kids. A little backpack/carryon for each kid with a favourite book and toy etc, and a little stash of snacks that they can help themselves to (and have complete control over…I don’t need to tell you how cool that is for a little kid!) And a stash of little snack sized treats that you can pull out of your goodie bag when things get rough or the novelty starts to wear off – esp things that they don’t normally get (try an Asian food store for some fun ideas too in the way of strange and appealing candy!)
    phew – and here endeth the novel! So exciting – where are you heading to?

  • Carolyn - I love the picture of your little girl in her butterfly sunglasses and wonder woman t-shirt! Oh, and good luck with your 8 hour plane adventure. Your kids don’t look fierce at all! (referring to that first photo) :)

  • Mandy - Benadryl didn’t work on mine…. it had the opposite effect unfortunately! Start collecting McDonalds Happy Meal toys or something similar…ones that if they drop on the plane, it’s no biggie. Get lots of them so you can give them a new one when they get bored. Triangle crayons work great as well so they don’t roll when dropped. The candy section at the store also has some pretty cool light-up toy/candy stuff that keeps them entertained for a while. Those are a few of the things I’ve tried and am banking on for our trip back to China in a couple weeks. Will have to read other suggestions though as I need more ideas!

    You guys will have so much fun! Happy Anniversary!!!

  • Stefanie - Brothers sound covered! But, for Baby, I don’t think the electronics are going to cut it. In fact, for her, I’d do her own backpack. Do small snacks that require concentration (but safe) like peanuts and gummy bears. Takes time to grab each one! And plan on a ton of activities. Make sure you gift wrap each activity. It takes more time to get to it. And, make sure Brothers are willing to do some peek-a-boo, too. Great activities are puppets (finger puppets), reading (I LOVE the very colorful Miss Spider books), and stacking cups with something to hide under them. With BOTH of my kids, I learned that a car seat always put them to sleep on plane rides. So, if she has her own seat, I highly recommend going through the hassle of using the car seat (besides, in bad turbulence, it’s better). Call your airline for details on carry-ons.

  • Liz R. - Best thing I’ve done for long airplane rides is to put them (the tiny ones) in their car seats. They won’t be able to climb down and around–they’re used to sleeping in them in the car. Made a HUGE difference for us. Good luck!

  • Emily Lusk - I really only have one word for you—- Prayer! Have a good trip and hope everything goes good!

  • Lisa - I love the anniversary pic..So cute! In the spring, we’re movin’ to the Middle East and will be taking kids who will be 6, 4.5, 3, 1.5, and 3 months. I have thought about other air travel adventures with my littles, I think the only way we can survive a 20+ hour plane ride is to let go of what other passengers and crew might be thinkin’. 😉 Yes, we’ll be taking doodle pads (these are wonderful as they can’t write on seats, each other, etc.) and favorite blankets and an entire backpack of brand new books, among other things, but the thing that stresses me is the inevitable moments where a little is, well, being little – they are being themselves. We spend a lot of time teaching them to obey, etc. but I also want them to be authentically them. So just be mindful they are small, these experiences are new, and the other people around you probably aren’t thinkin’ what you’re guessing they are – they are more likely to be thinkin’, “WHOA, I am SO grateful it’s just me that I have to worry about on this flight! And not a crew of small children.” Have fun wherever you’re going!

  • Jessie - It seems you are covered with ideas for the kiddos. My piece of advice is simple…yet very hard to make happen. Get 8 hours of sleep the nigh before. No matter how many goodies and gadgets you have for the kids, if you have had little or no sleep the world will just fall apart! Trust me…we live across the country from our family and fly several times a year. The biggest disaster was when we took a “short” (compared to cross country) flight to Florida for vacation. I was working and packing all night before and never went to bed…it was the longest flight ever and my poor kids and husband had to deal with me, I had been up for 30 hours straight! Good luck and get some sleep!!

  • Mary - My husband and I took our 3 year old and our 9 month old on a trip to Washington this summer. I like to think that we gave the other passengers a something to talk about! My only advise for firecracker is to find all the grandmothers/ grandfathers on the plane and pass her around they would love it and if she is like my girls she will eat it up too.

  • Mandy - Thought of a couple other things that I used with Abby when she was B’s age… I had an empty tums bottle and little plastic animals and she loved dumping out the animals and putting them back in the bottle. Also, packing bubbles (the smaller ones are not so loud) entertain them for quite a while. Raw veggies to chew on are also good – celery, carrots, and peppers and will keep her occupied for a while.

  • Elisa B. - You already have great plans for entertaining them – so you don’t need any advice on that front. My advice would be to bring something for yourself: either lavender scented anything for stress relief, chamomile tea to calm you, or an eye pillow while you’re sleeping. Happy travels!

  • stonemama - We’ve logged a lot of international travel hours with our young 4, and having just made the 20+ hour journey back home to Asia with our 1,4, 6, and 7 year-olds, I can testify (again!) that it’s not easy! However, we’re learning as we go, and here’s our collection of DO’s: 1. pray beforehand, a lot; 2. ask a LOT of other people to pray for you; 3. smile at every airline worker you see… you never know when you’ll be in need; 4. Benadryl is our ‘magic fairy drink’, and it works wonders on those overnight flights; 5. When checking in (a bit early if you can), be sure to request an extra seat for your infant, and even a bulkhead row (often saved for familis with infants); 6. Junk food… it’s about the only time we indulge, but i always put a collection of individually wrapped snacks into each kid’s backpack, and i usually choose stuff they haven’t eaten before (or aren’t usually allowed to have)… NERDS are a hit because a handful of 25 Nerds can take my daughter 25 minutes to eat; 7. and finally, expect it to be challenging, but well worth it… our experience is founded in our expectations. Enjoy!

  • abbey - We have found them strangely fond of stickers when we travel. Much more so than when at home. We usually bring a new book of stickers, maybe one that has a place where they can be stuck and then re-stuck. We found some cool ones with Elmo where you can stick them randomly (read my one year old) or you can find their designated spots, or do one of several other exercises which my 3.5 year old really enjoyed.

  • Kelley - Forgot to add in my previous post – I don’t have an iphone either =(. ALso, my daughter the youngest (she has 3 older brothers too), and is slightly older than your daughter, LOVES her own purse. I would get her a purse with little things in it for her to play with. I know she is a little young, but my daughter at that age also LOVED a barbie (played with under supervision). She loved all the hair on it, since she didn’t have any of her own!!

  • Kristi - All I can say is…PRAY!

  • Kelly - My little guy is not old enough for the iphone app so no need to enter me in the giveaway. I saw my sil use one of the coloring books and “markers” that you fill with water and the water “colors”. The nice thing is when it dries they can do it all over again. Kelly

  • Becca G - we fly with four (8,6,2,and 1) cross country once a year. origami is great with my older two when they aren’t watching a movie. my 2 year old is content with his $store dinos. and for my little one we will be taking an empty wipes container filled with things he can pull out and put back in (and probaly lose along the way)
    good luck. it’s not my favorite thing.

  • bethany - Xanex.

  • Dana - Can’t take credit for this tip, but it does work; dress your kids (and the back up outfits) super duper cute and matching/coordinating if you can. For some reason people are a little more ‘enchanted’ with cutely dressed kids and are more likely to forgive the screaming (yours, of course). Oh, and dress them in bright colors so when they get away from you for that half second that your back was turned, you can easily spot them in a crowded airport. Good luck!

  • Kelli - We live overseas so we have flown many times for several hours. Get plenty of sleep the night before you leave. If everyone can that is great but especially the parents. We do the backpack thing and our rule is that they have to carry them in the airport too. I pack small new items in different ziplock bags so they can pull them out and play with what’s inside. With my youngest I manage that for him. I make my own coloring books from color sheets off the Interent. Making them half the size of a piece of paper is easier for my kids. With crayons and other things like small cars and such- don’t bring things the kids will be sad if they get lost. Crayons and cars roll off, and they can be hard to find. I also make them something fun to do and pack a snacks they are not use to eating. I also encourage the DVD player. I have a post on my blog from sometime in June andJuly 4th ish of what I packed, if you are interested. Hope the trip goes well.

  • delish - (no iphone) We travelled overseas with 4 kids, 18m,3yr, 5yr, 7yrs…they did great! I held the little one and we slept most of the time! nice. Splitting the kids up, 2 with each parent worked well, stuff to play with is good, but they were pretty excited just to be on the plane. A great thing to point out are the BARF BAGS!!! WE used them!!! Also maybe the kids could color on them! Well, you have tons of great advice, I see. I’m sure your kids will do fine! Make sure Daddy gets lots of rest before the flight and you’ll all survive!

  • Kathy Carr - Are you kidding me? You are the queen of creative and you’re asking for ideas?!? Just give your kids the same stuff that keep them happy at home… clothespins, twine, magnets, tape, foil, paper, a handkerchief and whatever else is in the bottom of your purse. You’re like McGuyver, surely that has rubbed off on them. =) They’ll probably build a fort in their seats, make an eyepatch, launch paper airplanes and come up with a secret language all by the end of the flight. The one year old might be tricky but things like peek a boo and find the goldfish cracker should take up lots of time. If she like Cheerios or fruit loops maybe you could make her a necklace for the trip, or better yet have the boys make her one on the plane. You could make a seek n find jar- just a bunch of their teeny tiny toys in a pb jar filled with rice. I kept a list of things they had to find in there; a monoply top hat, a blue button, etc. Also, an altoids tin with magnetic toys is pretty handy. Since your boys like legos so much, maybe you could buy them one box just for the trip with the understanding that if they get lost or dropped, no one will get upset? Maybe in a plastic box with sides so they don’t spill. Also just a word of caution, food dye makes lots of kids hyper so be careful with all the candy, fruitsnacks and even the benadryl. Makes a big difference in my kids anyway. Good luck!

  • JennyP - Before my babe I taught grade 3 and there were times when the little peeps in my class needed extra activities. I created Brain Challenge books using; mazes, wordsearches, compare two pics, pages from drawing books, matching of all kinds…the activities really are endless…I never did do it but always thought it would be fun to insert a 8×10 pic of my face and have them draw their teacher as a different profession ex firefighter, doctor, artist. Could do that with Mom and Dad’s pic. Are they into knights with swords? Just google to find knight word search or mazes! To make them reusable I put each page in a sheet protector and then in a binder. This made them easy to take out, write on then be wiped off. A bit of work but good for little brains and NOT lame if you find neat stuff!! Your peeps are little young but an idea for you. Good luck!!

  • Natalie - We flew 7 hours with a 10 month old from Chicago to Alaska, then drove 6 hours from the airport to our destination. Only one kid, but I like the comment about bringing FireCracker’s car seat. I’d say even if you feel like you just can’t manage to carry one more thing, you’ll be thankful you did. Then, don’t get her out of it unless she really throws a fit. After that, mini post-it notes, dum dum suckers, a hand-held magic doodle- and more changes of clothes & diapers than you could possibly imagine needing (our dear had a sick tummy from the travel/changes in water, etc.) Good to layer her up with light layers so if she get’s sick on her jammies, she has a onesie underneath- same goes for you! I don’t have an i-phone, just thought I’d chime in-

  • Megan H - I know the contest is closed but wanted to weigh in and wish you good luck! We traveled last week with our two one-year olds and did two long air flights and a 5 hour car ride. I love the lollipop idea – we ended up doing that, it was a sticky mess but they were quiet. Also you can bring a bag of chocolates for you and the other passengers on the plane…nothing wrong with a little bribery. Again, good luck!

“Facebookers” is that even a word? I probably made it up. Chris likes to make up words. He is rubbing off on me. Since I have a blog it is nice to use it for things more important that craft projects from time to time. So I wanted to briefly mention two things going on in Tulsa for you local readers:

1. Kohl’s Cares is donating $500,000 dollars to 20 winning schools. The Tulsa school The Little Light House is in the running. The Little Light House focuses on improving the quality of life for children with special needs and empowering their families and community. If you are on Facebook you can cast a vote for The Little Light House. I am not on facebook, so I am not sure exactly all the details, but here is a link to the voting.

2. For you local artists/crafters/etsy sellers The Holiday Market is a local crafter’s fair set up. They are looking to spice things up with more originality and creative goodness this year. Why do I want to support a crafter’s fair….admission proceeds go towards Clean Slate! The event takes place on Nov. 6th 9am-4pm. If you are interested in being a vendor contact Bridget at {BrockBr at tulsaschools dot org}

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  • Maggie - Thank you so much for promoting The Little Light House and our efforts to win the school $500,000! As a tuition-free school ran only on donations, this money will really be a blessing to the students!

    Voting takes so little time and we need the votes!

    Each person (you do not have to be from Tulsa!) can vote FIVE times! After voting, please use the fshare button on the voting page to encourage your friends to vote too and pass along this wonderful opportunity!

    Also, you can click a “reach out” tab to access a direct link to share and the HTML coding to put a banner on your blog!

    Thanks again, and God bless!

  • Amy - Just wanted to update you, Little Light House has 43,166 votes!

  • Erin Boyd - Thank you so much Ashley for taking time to promote kohls cares. The parents, students and staff are so appreciative of your support. Each vote is important!!

  • amanda torres - Facebooker’s is definitely a word. It means “one who facebook’s”. I’m pretty sure it’s in Webster’s.

  • kelley - I would pack a camera (at least 1) for the kids to use, and a notebook, for them to “journal” about their trip. Also, I always ask my kids questions (what is your favorite…) and write down their answers. Pipe cleaners, tape, glue stick, old magazines to let them make collages in their notebook. We always play I spy when trying to take up time. I would also take a couple of manilla envelopes and fill it with brochures, ticket stubs etc from your vaction, then on the trip home they could put that in their notebooks to have a souvenir of their trip. Good luck!!!

  • Kelly - I am not on facebook either. :) Glad to know someone else who’s not. Wish the voting wasn’t only on facebook. Kelly

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.