Last year we worked HARD getting our garden going…well the more I thought about it I realized the location we picked wasn’t the best in regards to long term planning. I drew up the plans for my vegetable, fruit and flower garden. It will take about 5 phases to complete it – which means probably 5 years. Well over the weekend I started Phase 1: building the first 9 raised beds. I used these directions from Pioneer Woman, but modified them to adapt to my needs and land.

I grew up loving the smell of freshly cut pine from my grandpa and dad’s tablesaws. My parent’s always let my sister and I get involved in building stuff. In fact, in 8th grade I decided I wanted smooth walls instead of textured. My parents said if I wanted smooth walls I had to do it myself….and thus as a 14 year old girl I mudded and sanded my entire room. It was a MESS, but worth it. I want my boys to enjoy building too, so I planned ahead on ways they could help. All the boards had to be pre-drilled, so I made a little template that allowed the boys to mark all the drilling holes for me. They were great helpers.

Pioneer Woman’s instructions were just to pre-drill the main board, but I kept stripping screws. I ended up pre-drilling both boards. She also made hers 2 boards high, I only wanted mine 1 board high.

Since my boxes were only one board high the stakes were too long, so those had to be cut down.

Every farm needs a horse. Ours came in the form of Baby Sister wearing Littlest Brother’s old costume. It’s made head to toe of fleece…kept her warm. Made me laugh. Yes, the excersaucer is in the middle of the field. I was hoping to keep my little horse from eating hay.

She wasn’t fond of being confined, so I stacked two boxes, put down a blanket and made a garden playpen. Littlest Brother wanted in too.

I love how they always end up sitting so close together.

I attempted to hammer all the stakes in using a normal hammer…Pioneer Woman recommends a Sledge Hammer. I ended up sending Chris to Lowe’s to pick one up…much easier. The ground was soggy so the stakes went in easy. Our land is all bumpy and crazy. The boxes are level, but we’ll have to bring in a lot of dirt to even up the ground. Part of the long term plan also includes more boxes, a fence, an entrance, potted planets, gravel walkways….all kinds of beautiful goodness that will take me years to complete. One day I’ll sit in the middle of the beauty and sip some southern sweet tea.

Chris take a picture for me to post to the world what a huge DORK I am.

I need to transplant strawberries asap, so I got one bed almost ready for planting. It took lots of digging, manure, Starbucks grounds and some soil additive. Did you know Starbucks gives out Grounds for Gardens for free. Be careful how much you add to your soil, just a little goes a long way. More soil should be coming soon. Part of me hopes it rains while we have the dirt mound….the boys (and mom) love a little fun in the mud!

So much work to do, but when I’m eating all that salad and strawberries I will be one happy girl. Big thanks to Chris for being on kid patrol all weekend!

It is birthday week around here again…but Littlest Brother doesn’t understand it yet, so I am off the hook one more year:)

Happy Monday!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Alba - you’re a brave girl. so much work with the help of your boys. nice little horse! I would love to have space to have my own vegetable garden. take it easy!

  • Jill R - This looks like so much fun! I thought I got a lot accomplished this weekend…..boy, was I wrong. Love the picture of your little horse!

  • amanda torres - I have a MAJOR crush on TPW! I love your beds. Great job! I also like the Charlie’s Angels shot with the drill. Super sexy!

  • jay - try food scraps as first layer, decomposition will create heat -> warmer feet -> faster growth :)

  • Cate O'Malley - Is there no end to your talents? Color me impressed! Love the little horse.

  • Ruth - Love it! Space…and land is what I do not have here. Can’t wait to see your garden grow.

  • heidi - i love that you are the one doing the work, and that chris was the one on kid patrol. your little horse made my day!

  • Robyn Lee - Love it! This makes me want to have a garden…. not possible in an apartment building. I know it’s crazy, but reading your blog makes me want a house and! Thanks for all your fun ideas!
    P.S.- Love the pic of you with the drill! You rock!

  • jay - p.s. do you realize that miracle grow is petroleum based? I mean OIL!!! the oil coming from Saudi Arabia, country where it is illegal for women to drive? the more we consume oil, the more powerful men who abuse women are. give it up for consumerism!!! (fun facts of the day :)

    Love your work and Charlie Angel photos!! :)

  • Sarah - Oh my gosh, you rock! I’ve been begging my family for power tools for years. I have so many ideas that require power tools. I’m showing them your pics. In their defense I am a bit of a clutz, but you are very inspirational. I can’t believe you mudded and sanded your own walls, at 14! Very, very cool.

  • Sara - You’re definitely my new hero! The work with the drill and the saw is amazing! It will be worth it, for sure. I think that you will inspire me in trying to use a drill!!! I never done that, just thought it was a tool made for men…

  • Jill E. - looks so wonderful! one of my dreams to to grow my own food and it is amazing that you are doing the MANual labor, pardon the lame joke. love baby sister in the horse outfit.

  • Georgia Davis - We did a raised box garden last year. Worked really well! My goal is to get out there and get started on it for this season soon. I’m also trying to start up a compost. I’m to cheap to by soil. See if they have this book at your library “All New Square Foot Gardening.” It has been my gardening bible. Looks great!

  • jay - me again:) if you lay cardboard or 8 layers of newspaper before adding manure, compost etc. you will save your back from weeding… I would share photos, but your blog does not allow it :) it will decompose in a matter of, oh a year and it will smother the roots of unwanted plants!!!

    happy day! :)

  • Jolie - Great beds!!!
    …and here I’m betting Chris wants a copy of the Charlie’s Angel drill pose for on his desk!!! :)

  • Abby - YAY!! How awesome to see another power tool loving mama in action. Good luck with your new patch!

  • robyn - im BEYOND impressed. i can not so much as keep my basil plant or mum’s alive so much as plant an entire garden. never mind the fact that your building this beauty WITH your children.
    you have inspired me to get my kids helping more instead of occupying them to do other things while i get stuff done.

  • Jodi - I started my square foot raised garden last year! It was sooo addicting, I loved it. I don’t have near the land you have….(I am uber jealous….I mean uber) but I still had a beautiful little raised garden. I can’t wait to get started this year, we have a late planting season so I still have a ways to go…but I am starting my seedlings soon. You should enter baby sister’s photo in I Heart Faces Bundled Up theme this week. You/she would soooo kick butt and it would bring in more people to discover your little gem you have here. Good luck on your garden, you are a person after my own heart. Big family, big garden, beautiful photos. You are awesome!

  • Cynthaz - They look great. I just wanted to make sure you are using untreated pine to make your beds. Treated pine will leach chemicals into the soil and contaminate your vegetables, making them unsafe to eat. I hope I haven’t been the bearer of bad news here. We use untreated hardwood sleepers around our veggie beds as I haven’t been unable to source untreated pine locally.

  • Sarah - Ashley- you blow my mind, I can’t get over all of the amazing things that you do. I never get half of this kind of stuff done and I don’t have kids to try and wrangle at the same time. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Rachel Ridd - This looks like tons of work – i applaud you!

  • rachel denbow - I had grand plans for this little scene in our backyard but it didn’t happen during spring break due to…lots of unexpected reasons ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, next weekend I’m ready to tackle it! We’re probably only going to do two small boxes or one long 4′ x 8′. I tend to kill living plants so I thought we should start small for our first season!

    Can’t wait to see this progress! And I’m so impressed with your tool handling skills!

  • maegan - How fun! We have ONE raised garden planned. Hopefully we’ll get to it this weekend.

  • Heather - You ARE wonder woman!! It really is a ton of work, but so fun once it’s set up. Our garden started out small and slowly over time it’s gotten a bit larger and larger. It’s so awesome to do with the kids, too. You guys are going to love your new garden!!

  • pamela - yippee! i hope to be doing this as well in a few weeks!

  • the inadvertent farmer - I didn’t think I could love your site anymore…I was wrong. My gardener’s heart is in love with this post! Great job and I hope you have a great abundance of goodies from your new garden, kim

  • julie - do you think that I could float one or two of these in my pool?

  • Dawn - SUCH great pictures! We don’t have raised beds, but I wish we did. Either way, gardening will happen this year, right? I am excited to follow your gardening with Inadvertent Farm! This will be fun!

  • Big Backyard Clean Up | Kara Paslay Design - […] an hour. So the pond area now looks like this. . . I plan to set up a garden box (much like Ashley’s seen below). This will mainly be for looks because some people have a green thumb, some people have […]

Just call me Wonder Woman. Why, you ask? Because I took four kids (6, 3, 1, 8 months) to Biggest Brother’s well check appt. with our pediatrician…by myself. (You can’t really understand that statement unless you have had children and dealt with well check appts). That feat gives me Wonder Woman status.


Once the appt. was over, I got all the kids loaded in car seats and buckled up. As I put the key in the ignition I heard Biggest Brother say, “Mommy, I need to go to the bathroom!” Are you kidding me? I just got all of you loaded. I weighed my options:

1. Go back into the doctor’s office: Everyone was already staring at me with all 4 kids…don’t want to go back in there

2. Go to the nearby Lowe’s or Target: Biggest Brother is starting to really not want to go into the women’s restroom with me…there are only large restrooms there and I am not ready to send him in alone

3. Go to Starbucks: he could go in the small restroom by himself while I treat my self to a drink for enduring all of the hassle (made me think of Meg’s post)…however, I was sure to have THE CONVERSATION if we went to Starbucks

4. Go to Chick-fil-a: The bathroom is small, I could treat the boys to ice cream, they could play on the indoor playground. However, it is beautiful outside…and I deserve the treat.

I chose Starbucks. We all climbed out of the car and walked in. Biggest Brother headed to the restroom, Big Brother hid behind a display, Littlest Brother held my hand and I carried Baby Sister to the counter….and THE CONVERSATION happened. It’s the conversation that ALWAYS happens when I am out with the kids without Chris.

Barista: “Wow, you have your hands full.”

Me: “Yep” If only you knew there was another one hiding and one in the restroom.

Big Brother pops out from behind the display

Barista: “Oh man, there’s three of them. They’re all little too.”

Me: “Yep.” Please don’t ask me if I am the babysitter. Please don’t do it.

Biggest Brother comes out of the restroom to join us

Barista: “Is that one with you too?”

Me: “Yep” Don’t ask. Don’t ask. Don’t ask.

Barista: “So are you their babysitter or mom?”

Me: “I am their mom.” You are not my friend Starbucks Barista.

Barista: “Dude, you really have a lot of kids. They are all like really small too.”


So for the record, if you see me out and about with my kids…please don’t ask if I am the babysitter….and feel free to tell me how cute my kids are not how full my hands are.

We then headed to the park and had a blast in the warm weather. Baby Sister got to try out the swing for the first time – she loved it. I am currently gearing up for SnapShops to begin in 2 weeks. SnapShops are geared for the everydayย  person – not photographers. Part of what we spend time talking about is capturing the everyday events in your life and ways to do that more effectively. I thought I’d share a bit on that today using Baby Sister’s swing experience as an example.

PHOTO TIP: Great Cameras Do Not Equal Great Photographs

Looking at a great photograph and telling the person who took it “Wow you have a nice camera.” Is like eating a fantastic meal and telling the cook, “Wow, you have a great kitchen.” A great camera will only get you so far…it is a key tool, but you have to understand how to use it.

For instance, here is the type of picture most people take at a park:

PHOTO TIP: Change your angles.

One of the easiest ways to enhance your pictures is simply by changing your angles. Every angle you take tells a different part of the story. Here is the story of Baby Sister’s first time in a swing:

For this shot I put my camera on the ground, tried to guess where to focus and set the self-timer. I missed the right focal point (if you look closely you can tell that the bottom left corner is in focus). This is an example of a failed attempt, but still a keeper in my mind. Despite it being out of focus I love the story it tells.

The next attempt…I got it in focus, but since you only see our feet the story is a bit different than the previous pic. This picture alone wouldn’t make sense…you can’t tell what is really happening. However, when combined with the rest it tells a part of the story. When I make our family albums I would use all these together on a page to tell the whole story of her first time in a swing.

A ‘group’ shot. I like this better than if I had them all sit on a park bench and smile….there is story here not a posed plain jane shot.

On a totally different note, does anyone else find these swings odd? They are made for kids, but would fit adults. I just don’t get it. I would fit in that swing better than my kids do…I’m just not picturing many teenagers or adults strapping themselves into one of these. Littlest Brother loves it.

UPDATE:ย  My wonderful readers filled me in on the purpose of these swings – for those with disabilities. We go to this park all the time and I have never seen it used for its intended purpose. Please forgive my ignorance…I feel like a terrible person now!

Enjoy your weekend….I’ll be gardening!

UPDATE: If you want some great pointers for capturing kids in motion on swings…like camera setting suggestions…visit Lacey’s post.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Kirsten - Love the pics!

    As for the huge swing…I was told they were for handicapped kids who couldn’t stay on a regular swing by themselves. I am guessing they made them large to accommodate a wide age range? But I do see a lot of non-handicapped kids enjoying them, too. Love the shots of sister’s toes. :)

  • Jackie - THE CONVERSATION for me is…are they twins…no…how far apart are they…15 months…wow! that’s close. I call it over achieving! And I think they are swings for special needs kids. My kids love them too.

  • Kari S. - Wonderful pictures! I bet the big yellow swing is for kids or young adults with disabilities. We have some at our park like that and have two that really recline back, I’m assuming to accomodate those bound to wheelchairs. I have a little 5 year old friend who would the yellow swing too! If you have extra time, you can check out his story

    Happy Friday Ashley!!

  • Jill R - Maybe she thought you were the babysitter because you look SO young. Way too young to have four such adorable children. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You are absolutely Wonder Woman, but we already knew that! I try to avoid taking even 2 kids to any kind of doctor’s appointment. Way to go!

  • Alison R - Love your story! So funny, I can only imagine the sort of comments you get, some people just don’t think before they speak! Love the photos of the little ones first swing ride. I absolutely love that first ground shot, even if the focal point is not where you wanted it, I think it is lovely!

  • Donna - Wow. I think we are twins seperated at birth! I also have four kids (7, 6, and twin 3 year olds) and I have the same exact conversation with people. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Except I have to add option #5 Pull over to the furthest corner of the parking lot and shoo child to pee on grass. (I also have 3 boys and 1 girl.) I know, I know. It’s gross, but I can not handle taking everyone in again. I just can’t.
    And rock on to the first camera tip! I get that a lot, too. Not that my pictures look as great as yours, but I do try to get different angles.

  • Beth - i feel your angst. i have four kids, ages 8, 7, 5, & 3. i just turned 32 and people look at me like i’m the octo mom or something. sometimes, i want to make a shirt that says, ‘YES…i’m married, coceived them all in wedlock, they WERE planned, my husband is the father of all 4, etc.’ only because those are answers to questions i’ve actually been asked.

    ps the big yellow swing looks to be an adaptive swing for kids/teens who are disabled. in fact, the whole playground looks to be like an all inclusive playground. the only reason i know this is because my 5-year-old, betsy, has special needs and is mentally and physically disabled. we live in st.louis and scope out such playgrounds. and, often times, an adult can ride in those swings with a child on their lap. disabled or not. :)


    you really do learn something new everyday!


  • amanda torres - At least she didn’t tell you that you were a walking birth control ad. That would have been bad. Probably would have involved a news crew coming to report your reaction. On a good note, you do look very good for our age. She was probably trying to compliment you on your youthful good looks…

  • Liz - I can so relate, I was so happy to read your post. I have 4 about the same age, all close together. Oldest was 5.5 when #4 was born. I get the “your hands are full” comment at least once a day! My reply: “Better full than empty!”

    Also I HATE taking all 4 kids with me to well child appts! And, the worst kids are happily playing with toys and staring at the aquarium so why do you call me into the small room to wait there for 20 minutes. 4 kids and a small room with no toys or books! COME ON!

  • Alba - it’s because you are young enough to be the babysitter! and you are Wonder Woman, for sure. Last Saturday I went to a restaurant with the two kids (4 and 2), just the three of us, and I also felt wonder woman, but after your visit to the pediatrician with your four, I don’t feel as I can use caps.

  • Emily Lusk - I am guessing that you did not tip that Starbucks Barista!! :) You should of asked for a free drink since you had your hands “so full”!! Thanks for the swing tips I am going to try that next time I take my daughter to the park!! :)

  • Cate O'Malley - Ahh, THE CONVERSATION. I wrote something last week about that very topic, people and their lack of boundaries. I don’t get the “are you the babysitter?” instead I get “you’re separated?” “why, what happened?” from complete strangers. As if I owe everyone and their brother an explanation. There is going to come a point, soon, when I’m not going to be so polite anymore. Love the pictures!

  • Karen - This is a wonderful post! :) Could I ask, what were your settings in these pictures? I mean what SS did you use to stop the swing movement and what ap to get the blurry background group shot?

  • trish - starbucks story totally spiced up my friday morning! ha! reminds me of what i go through on a DAILY basis with callen (my 3yr old). he has a head full of BIG curls and allllllllllwwwwwwaaaaaayyyyysss gets called a girl. superman shirt, jeans, ball cap, sneakersโ€ฆ STILL gets called a girl. go to my site and click on client proof there “she” is :) andโ€ฆ best photo tip ever, I get told all the time “oh you must have great camera what kind do you have?” i just smile and wave :)

  • Mandy - The well child check! You are brave! I have three but they are all a year apart. Not only do I get asked if they are all mine, I get asked if they are triplets or my personal fave, because they are biracial and clearly have darker skin they me, where they were adopted from? Why do people talk before they think?

  • Jeannette Swan - I wish people thought I was the babysitter – I’m starting to feel old! Even though my kids are older than yours – I guess 4 (9, 6, 4, 2) makes people say “your hands are full” – I get that all the time! I always say “they are so fun!” The pics are amazing!

  • emily anderson - ahhhh yes. the conversation. people are so lovely, eh? i love the “you’ve got your hands full”…i fly with the kiddos by myself and get that ALL.THE.TIME…and i want to say “yes, i do, do you mind helping me out here?!” as i’m struggling to get the stroller and all the other stuff on the security line. instead, they just stare.
    and good news—google reader picked this up for me!! (and the last 8 posts…haha…) maybe it’s on the right track!

  • Julie - I love your photo tips. I do not have the best camera but I have found that I get some great pics simply by getting on their level and taking as many pics as I can! Helps to have a lot of memory too. I have 3 kids ages 7, 4 and 1 and we are expecting our 4th in July. I love being young and having all of my kids close together. I especially love the looks I get when I am carrying the youngest on my hip with my pregnant belly sticking out and a kid on each side!

  • ashlee - you know i have that conversation EVERYWHERE i go. 6 kids 11 and under will do that for you:) the most common question I get is “are they all yours?” but I do get “you have your hands full” a lot…the one that amazes me is “better you than me” to which i always want to reply, “your right!”
    have fun gardening!

  • karen brown - how about the time the old lady asked if a three kids had the same daddy. seriousy…taking three kids out in the city (we live in boston) is like a circus sideshow!

    i always keep an empty water bottle in the van. i know it’s pretty gross, but realy works for the boys when you are in a pinch, have no potty, or one of the other ones is asleep.

  • Ruth - Um, Ashley….we have the same life! I coulda written this post! Four boys, in my case, is really not THAT many children. Oh…and I recently posted a swing pic. You’ll get a hoot outta this:

  • Brook - I think the your hands are full comments are funny, especially since I have older kids and little kids. Usually the older kids are holding the little kids and I’m totally hands free. I want to wave my hands right in their face and yell “See! See! Free!”. I especially like the “Are they all yours?” at the grocery store. Why on earth would you gather up kids to take to the store? Great photo tips.

  • Kara - U def are wonder woman! Its hard to take my 1 yr old alone to the dr–hats off to u with all 4 of ur ADORABLE children!
    Good reader likes u today–it pulled in like the last 10 posts…must just be a love/hate relationship! :)
    Thanks for the tips! I am hoping to get to one of ur snapshops this summer but until then I love the little tips.
    PS little sister looks so very cute in her onesie! Not lion like at all!

  • Lisa Johnson - Your story makes me giggle and cringe all at the same time. The CONVERSATION is one that I have experienced many many times. After having 5 babies in 5 years, I just braced myself everytime we were in public. Everything from, “do you run a daycare?” to “are you married?”
    One funny memory, I had taken 4 to Walmart and was about 8 months pregnant. Needless to say, I was a little vulnerable emotionally. With one big enough to safely walk, 3 in the cart, and a huge belly, I cringed everytime someone looked my direction. (which was EVERYONE in the store} This old man walked up to me and loudly exclaimed, “Oh, you must collect children.” He was very nice and complimentary and just made me laugh. I learned to appreciate the nice people who were really just blessed to see some sweet little ones.
    As for the babysitter question, it just means you look phenomenal and they think you are a teenager!

  • Anne - Wow, I wonder if people realize how rudely their comments come out. Even if I’m startled, surprised, or disapproving of something I try to make sure my comments are inoffensive. It’s not our place to judge!

    It’s nice to be mistaken for a babysitter, though. My mom went white early and often was mistaken for our grandmother (even though she was only 25 when she had me). My dad has the opposite problem and looks quite young, leading many people to ask if he is my husband (I am 24 and he is 49).


  • Celia - Love these pics and especially the “tips”. I’m a stay at home mom to a 18 month old and am doing my best to learn how to take “better pictures”. I understand the ins and outs of my DSLR, but it’s tips like this that I really need! Keep em comin’. By the way… you are Wonder Woman, Super Mom… BRAVE! I shy away from stressing with my son alone at my own Dr appointments!!! HA And yes, your family is gorgeous!

  • Barbara - I only have one child and am 40 and still get asked the babysitter question. People are clueless and yes, you are Wonder Woman!

  • Laura Casey - I get those comments everytime I go somewhere too – my four were born within 4 and a half years – so I always get asked if I am a day home! My oldest who is 6 now responds to their questions – she loves giving the rundown and all the names… And I agree taking them all to an appointment is wonder woman status! Nice work!

  • Karen - You rock for taking 4 kids out by yourself! With #2 due in June, I don’t expect to go out alone with both kids until sometime in 2011!

  • Martina - I love the photography advice here. (And your kids are so cute!) I know I don’t have great photography skills and I definitely don’t have a great camera but I’d love to improve on my skills with the manual mode using the camera I have. Your tips are helpful and encouraging!

  • Kara P - Oh Ashley!!! I am so sorry! I have probably made one of those comments before. But I think you should take the babysitter comment as a compliment. It just means you look young and beautiful!!! :) Your kids are adorable!

  • Amy - I love your humor when it comes to THE CONVERSATION. I have 3 children and the youngest two are 11 months apart. My favorite is when I get the “Are they ALL yours?”. I am attending your snapshop in March, and I am very excited. I love the story you tell with your pictures..

  • emmylou - I have the same problem, I also have 3 boys & a girl. People always think I’m anywhere from 17 to 24 (I’m 31). So I feel your pain. If only a had a dollar for every time someone said “you have your hands full.” When did having 4 kids become such a big deal! I mean having children is a wonderful thing, why don’t people get that?

  • Shanalea - THE conversation happens all the time with me. I get “you don’t look old enough to have one let alone four”. I also get looks not only do I have the audacity to have 4 children they are all boys. Feel your pain.

  • Lori Danelle - Great post, but I’m laughing over Google Reader!! It decided to pick you up again today!!! So I think it just likes to grab your blog about once every 2 weeks and at that time pulls all the posts you’ve done in that time frame to post at once.

    We’ll see if it still gets you on Monday! :)

  • Cindy - You are wonder woman! Dr. exam rooms are so tiny (especiall w/ 4 kids) and well checks not so fun! I love your conversation… made me laugh. And how smart to put your camera on the ground using the timer, I can’t wait to try.

  • Jaimie - You are not an idiot. Many people don’t know that. I get called the babysitter all the time. If anything, it’s a compliment that you look young! But I get annoyed too. I love the shots of your baby girl on the swing. I have some similar ones of my little around that age. I especially love the ones of her tootsies. I am a big fan of baby toes.

  • Morgan - First time finding your blog- it’s adorable! I get the “You look like you have your hands full” all the time (I thought it was just an LA thing!)

  • Colette Amey - My “conversation” was people always assuming I was in high school. A few years ago we (my husband and I) were helping with a church youth event and a high schooler came up to me and asked which school I went to. I was 26! Not sure who was more embarassed – him or me :) I’m now 31 and have two kids… don’t get mistaken for a high-schooler anymore, thankfully… well, they don’t say anything anyway :)

  • Carla - i loved this post … b/c people all the time tell me “you must be good because you have a nice camera” and i hate it. because i’m working on it – but just because i have one doesn’t make me good!

    however i am working on it. and i will practice my angles now. thanks!

    and i consider you wonder woman. and awesome.

  • Katie - I get ask the same questions. I have five (7,5,3,2, and 4 months). You would think after all the shows on tv where they have like 20 kids people would be use to it. I never know what to say when people say “how do you do it”? You just do! I also would have just let him pee in a bush though.

  • Kristen - Geesh, if I saw you out with your four beautiful kids, I think I would be more in awe and admiring you and the little ones, not asking if you were the babysitter for pete’s sake!! And, not sure if anyine told you this already, but good news — all of a sudden you are popping back up in my blogger dashboard like normal! Not sure if that means google reader would be working too, but it’s definitely working again in the dashboard.

  • Lacey McKay - You are such a great writer. I could picture the whole scenario perfectly in my mind. I’m sure my mom got a lot of those kinds of comments…she had five kids, each a year apart! I don’t think she left the house very often.

    Great tips about the swing pics! Do you mind if I link to this post? I wrote tips on my blog the other day about how to take pictures of kids in motion on a swing, but I totally forgot to talk about trying different angles! Your angles are much more creative than mine. I have a hard time thinking outside of the box. I like things to be square/even, which makes me a good photographer in the studio, but not so good at getting creative comps outdoors.

  • Lisa - I get THE CONVERSATION all the time too (5,4,2.5,1, & one coming) – but I never am asked the babysitter question… I’m kinda wondering why that is. :) Do I look old? Ha! I take my brood everywhere all the time bc I usually don’t have another option. I, too, wish people said, “cute kids.” instead of “you certainly have your hands full.” I just smile back and say I am greatly blessed. :)

  • Margie - Great pictures…and very cute kids! No mention of hands full or babysitters from me :0).

  • Taylor - I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who gets stupid comments! My husband and I both look young and we had a baby last October. People constantly go “Is she yours?” “Yes.” “How OLD are you?!?”

    I’m sorry, I don’t think 25 is so horribly young to have a baby! I swear tact is a lost art for people these days!

    Also, I think it’s wonderful you have 4 children! We want 4 also and to me, that just says you’re successful at being a mom!

  • Stephanie - You’ve got gusto and deserve the Wonder Woman status! I have four (10, 2, 2, and 8months) and have yet to attempt the park with all. Too scared. One of my twins is a runner…ugh. Love THE CONVERSATION! I think every Momma with multiple children get it every day. I got it today in Target. “Wow! You’re busy!” or the one I dislike the most…”Double trouble”. Thanks for sharing such a simple part of your every day. Made me laugh.

  • Lydia - I also have four children. And I get that “your hands are full” comment ALL THE TIME! And my response is, “So is my heart.” :)

  • patti - such great photos – love the light! and I feel for you about Starbucks. I only have 2 kids and get asked if it’s “so hard” with 2. huh?! I don’t get it. I’ve had people tell me I have my hands full because mine are both little (5 and 2 1/2). I have to believe that these people that say such things have never been around children.

    by the way…did you wear your ‘satin tights’ to the park?? it’s the way Wonder Woman would have done it. :)

  • bopha - so…you make me laugh. don’t feel bad about the big swing thing, glad you left the original comment up even after you found out who they were for. i’m sure there were others who thought the same thing.

  • amber - love, love, love this post ashley! i haven’t checked out your blog in a while…and i’m so glad i did tonight. kudos to you for not biting the baristas head off! i think you should just make yourself a big flashing pin to wear that says “yes, they are my kids. all 4 of them.” and maybe ward off the idiots who ask. i’m expecting #3 in july (i have a 4 & 2 yr old) and was feeling kinda crazy – till i watched ‘cheaper by the dozen’ today. 12 IS crazy. and i see how adorable your 4 kids are. hmmmm. maybe 4 would be okay after all. ๐Ÿ˜‰ at any rate. i also loved the comparasion to normal mom photos and photos of moms that know HOW to use their camera and get AMAZING photos!

  • Kerry - gorgeous photos! i really liked the one where little sister’s laughing on the swing and the one with her three brothers in the background…;) lovely.
    the conversation made me laugh ๐Ÿ˜€ 4 kids is NOT ‘a lot’! i’m planning to have 4 too…well you never know, i’m still a bit too early for that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • mary katharine davenport - Just found your site. Love it. Encouraged by it. Inspired by it. I just HAD to comment on the “you’ve got your hands full” … I have five children, which stops many in their tracks and then they are all girls … which halts things all the more. Whenever anyone says “You’ve got your hands full,” I respond politely and as enthusiastically as I can at the moment:), “yes, but it’s a good full.” I think it bothers me more now that my girls are older (some of them) and THEY hear the comments. I don’t want them to ever think that they are a burden … a lot of work, yeah:), but a burden, no. Sometimes I think “if they only knew how much fun we have!!”
    Many blessings!

  • Amiee - Hi there! I just found your site too and love it. You’re a wonderful story teller; thank you for sharing your family with all of us. I loved this post too, for a different reason… I used to be that barista! Oh, I’m so sorry for all the stupid conversations I had with people and all the stupid, inappropriate questions I asked! Sometimes everything just came out wrong. And you wouldn’t believe how many times people ask baristas dumb things too, like, are you tired? when really we just didn’t put much makeup on at five a.m. Or maybe we thought we looked awesome and were super perky and some stranger asks us that! My goodness, I’d take my toddler over that job any day! We are older and wiser as soon as we take the step into motherhood, that is for certain. And what a blessing to have four little ones all in a row. I’d give anything for that… oh, and I absolutely can’t wait to have a lego birthday party! It’s part of the fun of having a boy :) thanks again!

  • Katie- Wannabecrafter - Ug yes why do they always begin with “you have your hands full!” with a look on their face that says “didn’t anyone ever teach you about birth control?” At least you still look young and fresh enough to be the babysitter! I miss that, I just get the follow up “are they ALL yours?” Thanks for the photo tips- mine all look like the first swing picture!

  • Jolie - Thanks for another great set of photography tips.

    …and seriously??? I’m amazed anyone can see past the cuteness factor to count heads. Some people…

  • Melissa - LOL. I love “the conversation.” The funny thing is, when I nannied a summer for 3 kids, I would always get asked if I was their mom. It always caught me off-guard because I was 20 at the time and the oldest was 8.

  • Elissa - i think it has something to do with boys. i only have three… two being boys and i still get the “you have your hands full” comment WAY too often. but, somehow, i sort of get it too because those boys often make me feel like i have 5 kids with me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    lovely pics. i like the little off focus one too…

  • Jesse - Ugh, if only I had those skills. LOL! You know I get the same questions, when I go somewhere with all 3, which is often. Except everyone thinks B is the baby, they don’t get it that they are twins. You go girl though I would have had him pee out by the car.

  • Ashley - I have 4 boys and a baby girl. I get the “conversation” all of the time, too. Sometimes, they don’t say anything but I can see it in their eyes. They think that I’m crazy:) Enjoy the babysitter comments. I’m 33 now and I don’t get that very often anymore! You are just young and cute and look more like the babysitter than the mommy that birthed all of those babies!

  • Kate - So cute!!! Great pics and have a happy day!

  • Kristen - My 4 are even closer together so I sympathize on so many levels. My fav was when I was asked if I ran a day home -or-all-of-them-yours? And then they stare at me, I think trying to figure out how old I am. (I have a baby face, so that really throws people off.) Kudos on going out with the kiddies… And Wonder Woman award too.

  • Rachel Ridd - I would love to have a big family someday! You make it look possible and fun :)

  • Charlene - Ha-ha! The conversation…. I get comments, too, even though I only have two children – first off, their age range, brother is eight, sister is two. Truly, I didn’t plan it this way, it just happened!!!
    Second, is brother takes after my side of the family – beautiful olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes, mexican heritage. Sister takes after my husband’s side – light skin, red hair, hazel eyes, complete WASP. I make sure to always wear my wedding ring, but we still get the comments – “Oh, are they brother and sister?” “Yes”, I reply, “and from the same dad, too!”

  • AMS - You are Wonder Woman for taking such good care of your kids, for being so creative and for sharing it all with us. You also have a Wonder Heart. You are an inspiration, everyday!

  • Hayden - Your post made me smile. I am the oldest of 4 girls. There are 8 years between me and my youngest sister. I was old enough to know the looks and the comments. We always got the “wait until your poor parents have to pay for all your weddings”…”wait until you are all teenagers”, etc. My parents made it through 4 weddings and through the teenage years! I love having 3 sisters. Keep it up, Wonder Woman!

  • Alison - At least he didn’t follow that up with, “hasn’t anyone told you where those come from…” I’m a firm believer that comments like that are just asking for a black eye! Mothers of many young children unite! :)

  • maegan - Oh, I know the CONVERSATION all to well…and I only have 3. I got the conversation when I just had 2. Nowadays I usually have our neighbor with us so at least I can say, they’re not all mine and cut the conversation short! Recently while out as a whole family a woman looked at my husband and said, “Are they all yours?” …..Yes, your hands are full, but it’s the best kind of full. And you do a great job of it. And your kids are beautiful!

  • Jennifer - I can totally sympathize with you. We have four children and they are all girls(ages 7, 6, 2.5 & 1)! We get comments & looks every time we are out (especially when I am by myself). The most popular question we are asked is “Are you going to try for that boy?” It is so annoying! I did not have children just for their gender. I wanted four children and I was blessed with four happy, healthy girls! I would not trade it for the world!!

  • Yanet - Absolutely a SUPER woman! I would have taken him out and told him to do it right outside the car!! :)

  • Lauren - Hilarious story! I’m new to your blog; love the photo advice and the fact that I can identify! I only have 2 little ones, but I guess I look super-young for my years and my kids were blessed with white hair and blue eyes (not my brown on brown), so I have the CONVERSATION all the time. I’ve had women in mommy groups ask if I’m the babysitter. Um, MOMMY group?! So funny. I’ll be visiting back often!

  • Rebecca Besaw - I’m the oldest of four, so I remember my mom having the CONVERSATION many a time. I used to be so embarrassed traipsing into restaurants and the like w/ all of us in tow, but now I look back and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I loved being one of four!

  • Skylee - I used to put two kids in that kind of swing.. back to back.
    They loved it and yeah, those are very odd swings.

  • Ashley - Hello!! I found your blog through the Lovely Blogger list! I’m always checking it to see who is up from Oklahoma (my home state) and found yOU!!! I always get the CONVERSATION! UGH! Drives me crazy!! Such as funny story!!! Love your photography too!

  • sarah k - So I just found your blog and I can’t stop laughing about this post. I have 3 (4, 2 1/2, and 5 mths) and I hardly ever take all three of them anywhere by myself. So you are TOTALLY wonder woman! But whenever I take more than ONE child ANYWHERE, I always get: Wow, you really have your hands full! Well, yes, but I like it this way! I feel like the implication is always: oops, you messed up, didn’t you? Sometimes I want to say, CHILDREN ARE A HERITAGE FROM THE LORD!!! But I don’t. :) Maybe I should. :) Anyway, in the midst of having a busy day with my hands very full, your post made me smile. I’ll be back!

  • Susannah - I love this! I have eleven brothers and sisters, nine of whom are adopted internationally and you have no idea the questions my parents (or even me, being the oldest sister) have gotten. Especially when my littlest sister (who’s Ethiopian) was a baby (and I was sixteen), people consistently thought I was the mom and our mom was the grandma. It’s funny how anything out of someone’s norm makes them question it. God bless you and your family!

So I had this idea that I would make a page on my blog dedicated to the etsy stores of my readers….I had NO IDEA there were so many of you talented readers with etsy stores! I had fun looking through your stores. Below is an image of what the new etsy store page looks like. You can find it under the “info” tab as the page titled “shopping in your pjs“. Once on the page, just click on the store banner to be taken to that store.

I also want to feature an item from each of the stores. Etsy will only let me create one of these for 25 items, so it will take me a while to get through all the stores. I plan on updating this once a week until I have featured them all.

If you are a reader and would like to be included, leave a link to your store in the comment section.

If you store currently does not have a banner, I just listed those at the end of the page. Once you get a banner, let me know. Enjoy shopping!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • amanda torres - ASHLEY!!! Why did you have to post this??? You’re going to have some explaining to do to Steven, because I now have to order one of those Tweet Tweet hair clips (it’s really cute)! I’m thinking he’ll forgive you after he sees it in his little lady’s hair.

  • Margie - Thank you so much Ashley for featuring my tweet tweet clip AND for giving me lots of new etsy shops to check out!

  • Sarah - Thanks Ashley for featuring my baby mobile! I’ve enjoyed your blog so much since I discovered it a few months ago. Keep up the good work!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Ashley, thank you so much for doing this. I feel brand new at putting myself out there. So it really means a lot to me to see one of my items featured somewhere. I may never sell a single item, but it means the world to me to know someone out there likes something I made. Thank you!

  • katherinemarie - I just love supporting the folks at etsy. Why would ANYONE ever buy from a box store when you can have all THAT magic??!! You’re readers have some MAD talent!!!!!!

  • Abby - Thanks for posting this! I really appreciate your attention to Etsy…it’s such a fun way to do what we love on a daily basis. :)

  • Elizabeth - As everyone else stated…..thank you…it is so kind of you to represent your readers Etsy shops on your site! Thank you!

  • Rachel Ridd - This is so sweet of you! Thanks for including me on your list :)

  • ashlee - thanks for posting my leggies! im off to shop now!!

  • Jeannette Swan - I’m overwhelmed! I wish I had the $ to just order one of everything!!!

  • Mandy - I JUST opened my etsy shop – – what a great opportunity to showcase it – – and WOW!! all that cute stuff out there!

  • Tracy - Thank you soo much! I appreciate your help in promoting my shops! i love your blog and read it are very inspiring!! God Bless!

  • kristi - love etsy.
    love your blog.
    thank you!

  • Johanna - You are so kind to do this! Thank you for sharing the ideas and works of so many people!

  • Jenn McQuate - THANK YOU! So kind of you to feature our etsy stores!

  • Ali Richardson - WOW!!!! This is awesome!!!!

  • Lisa @ ElleBows - this was very sweet of you to include me in your amazing list. Wow, I’ve been browsing and I have so many new favorite shops. Thank you!

  • Abby - WOW…. this is an awesome way to share the homemade love!!

  • Erin Kirby - that’s SO great! this is my etsy store……


  • Jackie Rueda - This is VERY kind of you, Ashley, Thank you so much!

  • Angela - I enjoy your blog so much! What a great idea to feature some of your reader’s Etsy shops. It’s been fun looking around. I already found some unique things for baby shower favors. Thanks!

  • Shannon - How fun! I love that you linked to everyone, sometimes it’s the “lesser known” stores that may have just the thing I need!

    My shop is new so the banner is ugly, I need someone to doll it up! But the address is :)

  • Anna Joy - Thank you so much for featuring me! You are sooo the best!

  • Marty - How cool! I’ve loved browsing the shops today….in my pj’s! And, I have an etsy shop too:
    Thanks so much!!!

  • Shannon - What a sweet idea!

    I have a fabric shop on Etsy, as well.

  • April - Ah that was nice…I love being introduced to new shops and that was a fabulous way to find a few !!

  • jody - this is amazing! thanks so much! lovely shops…lovely YOU!

  • Jenn - Ooooh cool! I have an etsy store up and going trying to raise money to bring our little man home from Africa :)


  • kristen - how awesome is this!? thank you so much!

  • laura - oh my! what a great list of beautiful stores. thanks for sharing. i really love reading your blog with your beautiful, inspirational photos. my shop is here

  • Renee Campbell - Great, inspiring post!

    Here are my Etsy shops:

    Jewelry —
    Crocheting —

  • Priscilla Locke - Please, please, please include me!

  • Heather - This is so cool! I’m a faithful reader and would love to be included on the list. here’s the link to my shop. thank you!!

  • Lindsay Megahed - I SO can relate to the title of that page! I so much prefer shopping handmade. I would love to be included:

  • Jolie - oh my! I feel like a mini celebrity…that’s my *gawjus* banner on Ashley’s blog! I need to go have a lie down and a cold drink now! Thank you so much – so gorgeously generous!

  • andy - love the layout of all the blogs and then the links to them. i checked some of them out and want to go shopping. :) thanks for listing them and it was cool to see my tutu on there. the one you chose is probably my fave.

  • nicole - Thanks for featuring all of us!!

  • maegan - Wow! Didn’t see that coming. Thanks so much. Now I have to get in gear and get items in my shop!

  • Nancy - Hi! I’m a new reader, you have a beautiful blog! Here’s my little store, thanks for taking a look :)

  • Brandy - What a great idea! Etsy truly has some really talented artists! Here’s my Etsy:
    Feel free to take a peek! :)

  • Julie - So many amazing shops! I’d love to add mine to the collection:

  • GraceLaced - Shopping In Your PJs - […] 11th, 2010 2 ?Ashley Ann-Under the Sycamore, a blog I like to frequent, has a fun page featuring her readers’ etsy shops, and yours truly is one of them! I’m so tickled that […]