It was asked…on Friday’s post why I did not have my father-in-law take the photo of us sitting in front of the surfboards. I had the angle and everything set up before he came over. For him to take the photo I set up for he would have had to lay on the ground. I didn’t want to ask him to do that. I could have done the normal angle of him standing up and looking down at us or us standing…but then that would not have been the picture I wanted!

There are some things in life you can prepare for and some you cannot. When we boarded the plane to Hawaii I had 2 kid backpacks full of snacks, games, activities and fully loaded iphones (from a friend). I also had my backpack filled to the brim with more food and changes of clothes. I was prepared. We left early in the morning after everyone got a full night’s sleep. The 8 hour flight was long, but not horrible. In fact when we landed several people stopped us to say how great our kids were and how many of them did not even realize there were 3 little boys on the plane. MIRACLE. They saw FireCracker a lot, but didn’t hear her too much. The saving grace on the flight over was well rested kids prior to boarding and an iphone for each boy loaded with movies and games. Thanks Jeremy! FireCracker took one 30 minute nap the whole time, none of the boys slept. Yuck.

We landed and forced everyone to adopt the new time zone as if it was our old one. There is 5 hour time difference….so when we landed at 7pm Hawaii time, it was really midnight our time. That was rough. The next day 3 of our 4 kids were pretty much adjusted…since they didn’t sleep a wink on the plane that helped. One of our four kids had a very rough start to the trip.

And then he got rest and my enjoyable to be around son returned. He takes after his mommy….I’m pretty grumpy with no sleep too.

Eventually our trip came to an end and we had to return home. We had a late afternoon flight which meant our youngest 2 did not get naps before boarding the plane. Bad Move. The day before we left I realized FireCracker was cutting all 4 molars and one more top tooth. PANIC. So, the flight home wasn’t great. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. It was horrible. If we could have let FireCracker cry just for 10 minutes she would have fallen asleep, but you can’t let a baby cry on a confined plane. I did let her cry once…we cried together in the airplane bathroom at 2:35am. I sat back down, looked at Chris and said, “We aren’t doing this again until she is at least 3.”

Then we landed at 5am for a 3 hour layover. All of our kids had slept about 2 hours in the last 24 hours. The gate attendant liked kids and joyfully gave our sleep deprived children balloons to play with. Great. 4 kids. No sleep. Balloon volleyball in the airport terminal. Lots of fighting. Lots of whining. Lots of thrilled passengers nearby (which I think 2 might read this blog….2 ladies traveling with a little girl?). We relocated to an empty terminal. I hadn’t got ANY sleep in over 24 hours at that point. Did I mention I am not fun to be around when I don’t get sleep?

So here are just a few travel tips from me:

1. Take a late afternoon or evening flight with young kids. Getting a full night’s rest before the flight is more guaranteed than sleeping on the plane.

2. Pack lots and lots of food.

3. Pack cups with lids, so your kids can have drinks from the attendants but not in the short cups they hand out.

4. Bendaroos – thanks Cindy & Angie

5. ipods & iphones filled with movies and apps (below is a list of apps my kids liked)

6. When you arrive at the hotel and the front desk gives each of your kids an inflatable beach ball. Don’t inflate them. Boys + beach balls + small quarters = yelling, even if you aren’t a yeller.

7. Read the comments from this post….tons of great ideas we used. Thanks!

The names of apps for kids our 1 & 2 year olds liked, you’ll have to search the apps store:

Bab bab lite

Baby Lite

Baby Piano

Look Baby!

Baby Flash Cards


Match-a-Roo Zoo



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  • Holly - Brave, brave Mommy! Sounds like you did everything right though. I love looking through your vacation pics, which is saying something, I don’t even like looking at mine most of time. On our next vacation, can you come with us and bring your camera? Flight’s on us! Heck, I’ll even let you pick the location!

  • amanda torres - Oh my! The little montage of Bigger Brother is great. I am the same way. No sleep will yield ugly fruit from me. What amazing memories from this trip.

  • Rebecca - This makes me tired and frazzled just reading it. I know you had a wonderful trip, but I also hope you are enjoying to be back home after your return flight story. “Good to go, good to come home.”

  • Nicole - Poor little buddy! Such cute pics – any hope for an online SnapShop in the near future?! Pretty please??

  • ashley jensen - Ah, the joys of tired children. I always find myself laughing at some point in time when my daughter(3) has a meltdown. It helps keep my frustration in check and the faces she makes with that little whiney voice is just too cute not to smile about sometimes!

  • anne c - wow you and chris are so brave! I probably would have locked myself in the bathroom and cried for sure! at least until I couldn’t stand the smell or claustrophobia took over. thanks for sharing your vacation experience with us!

  • emily anderson - you survived! yah!

  • purejoy - stunningly beautiful photos… but then that’s not really a surprise. you traveling with so many young’uns… bravery personified. you should get some kind of award. brilliant to bring iphones fully loaded with activities.

  • Heather - i’m so glad that flight was on the way home instead of the other way around. and i’m so glad you share the real deal with us so we know our kiddos aren’t the only ones that are a bit crabby without sleep 😉

  • Michelle - When we’re travelling, there always seem to be one point when I want to hide from my entire family – even the cute ones. I take comfort in knowing that I’ll never see any of my fellow passengers EVER AGAIN! No matter how hairy things get, I don’t have to bump into any of them in the supermarket the next day.

  • Jane - Ashley, you are way more brave than I am. Traveling 3 hours on a direct flight for us to Florida with an 18 month old and 6 year old was challenging enough. Great tips!

  • Lindsay - ha ha. I didn’t think you’d really answer my question in a blog post! Totally understand the angle thing. I probably wouldn’t ask my father-in-law to lay on the ground either…mainly because he might not be able to get back up. :)
    Love your blog. I check it every day and it just makes me smile.

  • Leanne - It is so hard to keep everyone happy all the time, especially other people on the plane when you have an unhappy little one. You are truly brave! good job.

  • chantelle - Ha! I said the same thing to my hubby when our little boy was 18 months old coming from Florida to Saskatchewan, 2 flights and over 10 hours of travel not including 11 hour (unexpected) lay over! We had travelled once a month before that-when he’s 4 is my next trip out of cold Canada! (even though my hubby tries bribing me with warm places I’m sticking to it!) We call bendaroos wiki sticks here, LOVE the neon colours!

  • kristiina - The flight home is always harder–they’re exhausted from the vacation, etc etc. I’m so impressed that you all made it–I’m sure Chris’ family was thrilled and so cool that you got to share your first ‘home’ with your kids.

    Thanks for sharing the highs and the lows-I can relate to those lows…and we only have a four hour flight a few times a year with two kids LOL

  • Meaghan - Hi! Don’t think I’ve ever commented here, but I love your blog! Just a quick question…are you saying it is better to fly out in the morning, AFTER the good night’s sleep? (sorry, I am easily confused 😉 I want to know because we are taking our 4-year-old and just-turned-2-year-old on a plane to Ireland in the spring, and I am a bit nervous! Thanks for sharing all of your great and adorable ideas!

  • Becki - Sooooo…in 8 days I am taking my 11 week old on a 9 hour flight to London. It’s an overnight flight, so I’m hoping she just sleeps (she already sleeps through the night, so fingers crossed)!
    I’m super nervous, tho. Super nervous.

  • Milanie - The photography on this site is gorgeous, truly. What fun! On another note entirely – your kids app list is great! When you’re looking for more kids apps, make sure to visit LunchboxReviews.Com. Lunchbox collects, categorizes and rates apps for toddlers, preschoolers and young children. Our user and critics ratings are pulled from multiple review sites so that parents get a well-rounded picture of potential app purchases.:) LunchboxReviews.Com :)

  • Lisa - Your pics make me want to haul all 5 of my sweet kiddos back to Hawaii to see our old stompin’ grounds – My hubby is back in HI right now for three weeks and these pics are makin’ me a bit jealous! You’re a trooper for making that trip with your sweet kids in tow. Looks like you had a wonderful time!

Normally this post will take place at the beginning of the month, but this has been a crazy month! I know you have all noticed the new sponsor sidebar and I hope you have found yourself enjoying their stores. Several of the stores have been long time favorites of mine….the others are new favorites. I wanted to take a moment to highlight those stores and express my appreciation for the step of faith in being the first official sponsors on Under the Sycamore.

I must admit while making the little etsy mini below I made a purchase from one of the stores. The item was so cute and after highlighting it I decided I wanted it more than I wanted to share it with you. I’ll show you it later! Sorry, I am mean like that.

Thank you to:

banana papers * Lovies * Snugars * Gracious May

Elle’s Studio

If you are interested in being a sponsor for November you will need to contact me within the next few days. Christmas is right around the corner…I’d love to share your shop with my readers. You can contact me via this blog (contact button) to request detailed information regarding advertising & giveaways on Under the Sycamore.

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  • pink bridesmaid dresses - That little adorable baby girl is breathtaking. Hope you share the little trinket you kept to yourself soon. What a great post.

  • Shannon{photos by shannon} - omg those gracious may shoes kill me!! Why haven’t I gotten a pair yet?? Maybe because my daughter is 2 1/2 and rough! I do have a neice coming any day now but I am selfish! I might just have to get a pair and save them for “if” I have another girl someday!! The other stuff is great too!!!!

There have been a few questions left in the comment sections the last few days, I thought I’d answer some:

* Where is the red visor from that you and FireCracker are wearing? Twirling Betty

* What lens and camera do I use? See the About Me page

* Do you always shoot in Av mode? Nope, I basically never shoot in Av mode…only M (manual)

* How do you clean your sensor? Very carefully! I use a rubber bulb thing (like what you get to clean baby noses). I recommend doing a lot of research online before attempting to clean your own sensor. I don’t feel comfortable posting a tutorial as I am sure I do about 20 things wrong.

* How do you do rounded corners on photos? For individual pics , for lots of pics I use these

* How do you make photo collages? I use Design Aglow templates

* What is that tent thing you have for your daughter? It is KidCo Portable PeaPod Indoor/Outdoor Travel Bed. We bought it when our 2nd son was a baby. If you have young kids and are a on the go family I highly recommend it. It was one of the best baby gear purchases we’ve ever made. We take it everywhere, it collapses small and is very portable. FireCracker used it as her bed at night on vacation and a sun shade on the beach during the day

* Do you have travel tips now? Yes, those will be posted Monday.

* How do you get FireCracker to sleep wherever, whenever? We don’t she sleeps 2 places: in her bed and on the beach. I wish her bed could always be on the beach!


Onto today’s post…while we were gone I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful local for some posed pictures. I had a vision for a picture using my Chalkboard Thought Bubble and my red fabric bunting, but in the rush to get out of our Okla. house I forgot the bunting. At least I didn’t forget a kid. I am sure you are thinking posed pictures in Hawaii…must mean all in white and khaki on the beach. Um, no. I did what I do at home…we went ‘downtown’. I even found a pile of wood pallets with tropical leaves nearby. Score.

A benefit of Photoshop is you can remove things like grass on feet…if you wanted to. I didn’t. It’s her.

The next few were on the other side of the alley behind the buildings. She likes her brothers. They do whatever she wants them to do. I thought I’d add an older picture. She hasn’t gained any weight, but the hair is coming in! I’ll get the most out of this cute dress before she outgrows it.

Camera on timer, balanced on backpack, balanced on a rock.

I am counting this collage as one photo (to fit the 10 in 10 theme I know you all could probably care less about!). I couldn’t pick one because there is not one picture where they are all looking at the camera with a normal face. Oh well. I tried.

So those are my attempts at posed pictures. A couple that I love, most that make me laugh.

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  • allison - Your caption about the karate chop made me laugh! These are all so great.

  • Lexie - I love your blog! Your pictures are amazing and inspiring! I just got an awesome camera and have been enjoying learning how to use it. Thanks for sharing your vacation!

  • Amy - HAHA! I love the write ups on each child, “HI YA” (which after reading almost made coffee come out of my nose). You have such a beautiful family, thank you for sharing.

  • Jill R - Love the pictures. As I was looking at them I had a totally random question – what do you use to fix your boys hair? We are having serious issues with hair that will not be tamed.

  • Joy - I love the one where Biggest Brother is holding Firecracker’s face, trying to get her to look in the right direction!

  • Keri Doolittle Photography - omg, your family is so stinkin’ cute!! Love all of these! How fun!

  • Heather - lol karate chopped the dragon.. awesome. what a great big brother!! cute photos… now i really want to go to hawaii!!

  • Mindy - Oh my gosh I laughed so hard when I saw your son doing the Shaka. My daughter and son do this in pictures all the time and that is what they yell. I have no Idea where it came from? Do you? I thought it was just something that they taught themselves! I love your blog. Your so inspiring! I love how you put mother hood first. You have been such an example to me. Thank you!

  • Shannon - Gorgeous Ashley! These will surely be pictures you will cherish forever!

  • Suzette Mahoney - These photos + pages are so fantastic!

  • Jenna Unruh - I’m loving your blog! I started reading it a few months ago and am hooked! I’m not a DIYer, but love your creativity. I also really value your decision to put your family first right now, regardless of you being in high demand. Kudos to you.
    I’m curious as a photog mom, what you do with all of the photos you take. For instance, in this post you made those cute little “boards” with the quotes on one side and the photo on the other. Will you put that in a book, get it printed? Or is it just for blog/electronic use?
    My son is 8 months and we’re still trying to figure out how to manage all of the photos – what to print and how to organize.
    Thanks for blogging!

  • keisha - LOVE these!!! Those captions are both funny and so special… when you all re-read those in 10 years, it will be so touching. :-)

  • Jaimie - Love this post! I especially love the first ones of your kids. I can’t wait to have that many! Haha!

  • Alice H - So very cute!! All your kids are absolutely adorable. I think my fave is where it looks like Firecracker is smacking Big Brother (I think?).

  • Angie - Cutest family EVER.

  • giozi - The best. Your father in law’s pic ha ha ha is funny. NOOOO the bes is your little boy, how big eyes.
    All your boys are so handsome, and your babygirl is adorable.
    My chubby is turning 3 next friday :)
    I spent all next week doing craft :D.
    Your crazy kids arte fantastic.
    Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee do the online class please please please please 😀
    Now I have to prepare suitcase. My chubby and me going to a christian camp for all weekend. My little boy is going to stay with daddy :(, I’m going to miss him a lot. My husband is not christian and he doesnt want to go, so for me is difficult go alone with both.
    Happy weekend to you Ashley a big kiss.

  • andy - love them all
    especially the ones of your kids where your little girl i leaning into her big brothers
    that is great

  • Lesley - Hey Ashley,

    I love all your beach pictures! I live in Florida and long to capture my little one enjoying the beach, but I’m always scared of bringing my DSLR and nice lens on the beach for fear of sand getting inside and ruining it. How do you protect your camera on the beach?


  • elizabeth - love, love, love the pictures of each of your children and the “commentary” that goes with them. absolutely adorable. and what a great record of your wonderful vacation. thanks for sharing you pictures. kauai is my favorite travel destination. can’t wait for the travel tips.

  • Jane - I was expecting you to show all pictures with kids running in different directions. But you got some super cute ones! Love your family pic! You’ll have to share some tips on the the whole balancing your camera on a backpack/rock and poses that go with that. I always feel like the camera is going to crash down to its death. I can never prop it pointing in the direction I want. Please share!

  • RachelC - Great pics! Love the surf board background. Also, love the new “You Might Also Like” section.

  • Heather - i love that you still kept to your photo taking style while in hawaii. and i really love the individual pictures of the kids. they seem to capture each one of them perfectly.

  • Gevay - Too cute! I love it!

  • Kate A - I loved the picture + write-ups for each child – especially little brother! TOO FUNNY!

  • bopha - i love the post! everything about it.

  • Jess - So sweet! All the pictures are awesome Ashley. Your karate chopping four year old cracks me up. That’s hilarious.

  • Desiree - Beautiful family!

  • Sarah - I am glad you posted this, I love the action shots, but I want one posed picture from the event. Just a picture of them actually looking at me I would take! It is so so hard! Love the write-ups! Great way to keep memories.

  • Shannon{photos by shannon} - Love them!

  • jessica h - …those made me laugh, too!!! I love all of the personality your family has :) You really ‘capture’ it in your photos! thanks for the tips, as always.

  • Natalie - So, next year, get Firecracker some black leggings and she can wear her dress like a tunic (just like momma). My daughter is 2 and she’s still wearing 6-12 month dresses! Love the shots, have dreamed of going to Hawaii…one day!

  • Nicole - Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I was *just* looking for a tutorial on rounding corners!

  • Vy - My daughter has that dress too and I just love it on her. She’s got a ton of clothes, but I keep putting her in that one since it’s so darn cute. Grey! Who woulda thought!

  • Valerie - Your kids are awesome! They totally make me want to have a whole bunch of kids. Just afraid I’d go crazy. One at a time, I guess! I love Firecracker’s dress, btw.

  • Danielle - LOVE these!
    what a beautiful family :)

    just used your fabulous idea of a yardstick backsplash on our kitchen remodel…. :)

  • Leanne - pictures that make you laugh are great too! they are so full of personality! I love your captions on the kids’ posed ones. so cute.

  • Jules - what beautiful work! love what you share on your blog!
    I had to come over and check out the fun! thanks for the link to the mad hatter!

  • Harriet - I LOVE this post! Your family is beautiful. I love all the differnet photos and all the different faces. It made me smile thinking of you all sitting down in the middle of the shopping area to take a photo! Hope you had a wonderful time!

  • Jamie - This post may be one of my all-time favorites! Cracks me up. I love the dragon-karate chop the best. Sounds like a mini Chuck Norris. Thx for the laughs :)

  • amac - LOVE this :)

  • Nicole - These are great – love them. Love the write ups for each of the kids – hilarious!

  • Lanny Stanard - You are such a cute family… LOVE IT :)

  • amy j. - I LOVE these pictures! Every single one!! You have an adorable family!

  • Laura - I’m a new follower & love your blog. You have a beautiful family! As the oldest of 4 children I remember family vacations w/ my mom snapping photos non-stop! What fun memories =)

  • Candice Forte - Love them, Ashley! What a beautiful family!!! great shots!

  • Lindsay - Maybe this is a dumb question, but why didn’t you just have you father-in-law take the picture instead of balancing it on a backpack? :) Just curious if there’s a reason I’m missing.

  • tamara - Loved this post. Very creative with it all! Loved the anecdotes on each photo.

  • Darcie - Your little firecracker has got to be one of the cutest little girls I have EVER seen. And I have a pretty cute 2-year old daughter! She looks like she’s going to have a great personality, and great brothers to keep her in line. I had 3 brothers and I loved it!

  • Mirys - Hi Ashley!

    How do you do this beautiful “collection” of photos (6 or 8 photos and a message like “my crazy kids”)?

    I´m thinking about going back to the “taking pictures love” that I use to have. Lots because of your blog and photos!!! Thank you so much!!!

    I´m even thinking about being in FRONT of a camera and have some pictures of the “3 mosqueters” made, by this end of the year. Like a message for all of us: we survived!!! And life is that! And live is beautiful!

    So… waiting for your tips.


    PS: I have some posts in English (in case one of your readers wanna to read anything in our blog).