There are certain things that happen just about everyday in my house. Things I dread and try to get done early…laundry, dishes. Then there are the little routines I look forward to. Now that the strawberries are growing, Littlest Brother and I have a daily picking routine. We wait until Baby Sister has gone down for her morning nap. I happily announce, “berry time” and he grabs his bucket. It took a few days, but he can now identify which ones are ready for picking.

After we pick the day’s harvest we sit in the same little spot of the yard and eat the whole basket. Sorry rest of the family.

You know they are good when the juice runs down your chin.

After we finish the berries, we have a little one on one jumping and wrestling time.

Photo Tip: I had my 28mm lens on, which is considered a wide angle lens. When you use a wide angle lens you need to recognize that it does distort certain parts of your photograph. In the photo below you will see I am channeling Elasti-Girl while Littlest Brother’s head is unusually large.

The wide angle lens comes in handy when trying to stretch my arm out to get pictures of us wrestling. This would be much easier if I just had Chris take them, but he usually isn’t home this time of day.

Yep, we have fun together. We enjoy making each other laugh.

On a different note, my mom gave the boys a bucket of soft balls for the trampoline. They love them. I hate them. Since I weigh the most when we are jumping, all the balls gather under my feet. It is annoying for me, funny for the boys. The white on the trampoline is spray paint, not bird droppings….just had to point that out. Don’t ask why there is spray paint on my trampoline.

In other news…the day to say goodbye to my friends is growing ever closer. Thank you to all those that have called and sent emails of concern & compassion. You shouldn’t have. REALLY, you shouldn’t have. I had a melancholy time with my friends last night. I was reminded of some age-old truths and memorable quotes they’ve shared with me in the last 6 years…


“Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain.”

“All I am going to get out of him is a snappy one-liner, and if I am real lucky a brand new nickname.”

“Well look at that somebody is hooked on phonics.”

“A leader can’t lead until he knows where he is going.”

“We’ll either live together, or die alone.”

“If I don’t play ping pong every 108 minutes the whole island is going to explode.”

“So we saved the world together for a while, and that was lovely.”


UPDATE:

Grey likes baby is featuring the boy’s room today. If you have never visited Grey likes baby…well you need to. It is full of great inspiration. While you are at it check out the Grey likes nesting and Grey likes weddings blogs. My inspiration folders for home, parties, etc. is full of things I found on these blogs. You’ll enjoy them.

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  • Sarah - what great memories you and littest brother are making together! i too, had a very sad night with my friends last night. I don’t know what i’ll do after Sunday…

  • amanda torres - Has Lost been on for 6 years?

  • Alba - gosh! I was scared! thanks to amanda, I just learned. Really, have been L there for 6 years? nope, it was yesterday, for sure.

  • Andy - love the pics
    especially the one of your 2 eating strawberries
    my son is crazy about the incrediables so loved that too and my hubby and i are crazy about lost. sunday will be a sad time i think

  • Anna Marie - You dork…it’s about Lost isn’t it?!? You are flipping hilarious! You had a lot of people fooled. Too, too funny!

  • Jessica - Ha ha – another LOST fan here. Didn’t know that’s what you were mourning until the “live together, die alone” quote.

  • ashlee - those photots of you two are precious! how do you keep the critters and birds from eating your strawberries?? i havent had ONE of mine yet…im feeding the wildlife!!

  • Anna Joy - You are sooo funny! This whole time i really thought you had friends moving away! I never kept up with Lost…I would watch an episode and miss one and then get super LOST…hahaha.

    mmm…and those strawberries look so yummy!

  • Shannon - How priceless that you are able to have some one-on-one with your baby boy every day. Sometimes it can be hard to find that each day (I imagine very hard with 4 babies) but it’s so so worth it! Lovely pictures!

    And yes, I too fell for the mourning trick 😉

  • CourtneyMc - hi-larious!

  • susie whyte - love the quotes. hahaha. that little berry man has a rough life. :)

  • Emily Lusk - Ok so I must admit I was really curious to who you were going to have to say goodbye to! Now I understand! My husband and I have watched Lost from the very beginning as well and I must admit I am a little ready to see what is happening or going to happen to them- even though I will miss it next year I would love some answers! Hopefully Sunday when we have to say goodbye we will figure out whats been going on. :)* — Seeing the pictures of you all on the trampoline really makes me want to get one for our children! Cute pics of the two of you having fun!

  • Celia - Your post today literally brought tears to my eyes…. to see the love between mother and her son!! Awesome………….

  • Holly Lesue - I’m going to have to have a box of kleenex with me when it’s all over. Lost = best.show.ever.

  • Heather - i like the ones of the two of you together the best. so sweet! oh, and i want your hair. cute!!!

  • Tess S. - oh. LOST. i feel your pain and your heartache. i’ll say that watching Jin and Sun die nearly ripped my heart from my chest. I almost stopped watching. almost.

    and…side nore… your hair is looking loverly. kind of makes me want to chop it off again. i wish growing it out wasn’t such a pain.

  • Lauren Roberts - Haha…I hope it’s a good one. It is hard to say goodbye.

  • Jesse - I hope next year we can have a larger garden and definitely include a berry patch. =)

  • maria - Do you do any photoshopping to your photos or are they just as you shot?! i love the lighting and the overall look to all of them!

  • christa - I get it, I cried last night I was so sad its ending… I am going to bawl like a baby Sunday night…

  • Jeannette Swan - That picture of you looking at Littlest Brother is priceless. The strawberries look wonderful – I need a strawberry patch!

  • ASH - The pictures with you and Littlest Brother just makes me smile. You have a glow on your face :)

  • robyn - i love the pictures with you in them… self timer? great pics! enjoy your friend…. i spent the day in the hospital with my best friend while her son (my godson) had major surgery. it was a long emotional day… and i couldn’t have been anywhere but there with my bestie!

  • giozi - Beautiful moments, how nice your child, how old is he? is still little. I stopped seeing little my girl since I had my boy, I see her big. She is 2 ½ years and he 1 year and 3 months.

  • kristiina - it’s official–this is my new site to stalk 😉 I get so excited when you have a new post and this one didn’t disappoint! Random, but wondering about your eye makeup? Is that just shadow, or do you do a liner, too? It looks fabulous!

    :)

  • emily anderson - love this post, ashley.

  • amy - Big LOST fan here! My favorite line you posted is “Well, look who’s hooked on phonics!” Love Sawyer and his great lines and nicknames! Silly question… but I’m wondering where you got your trampoline from? We’re needing to replace ours, but we’re wanting one with a good enclosure. Our last one didn’t hold up well. We’re wanting one with a zipper, like yours. Thanks!

  • Alison - OH. MY. GOSH.

    OHMYGOSH! Dear Ashleyann, a lady I have never met but come to know through her blog over the last eight-odd months…you are a LOST fan!! Ahhh I can’t believe I didn’t know that about you!! Goodness gracious I knew you were awesome, but I had no idea that you were THAT awesome!

    Oh boy. Well, guess that means I’ll be reading this blog forever. Just accept it, Ashleyann. Just accept it.

For those wondering about cleaning the boys (yesterday’s post)…Chris is usually home on Fridays, so he was the one in charge of the kids while I cleaned. It was easier to let them be muddy outside than making messes inside. They got hosed off a bit then carried to the tub. I can’t wait to build an outdoor shower one of these days!

Saturday’s SnapShop was a lot of fun. It was a really great group of ladies – the day always goes by so fast for me. I hope it does for the attendees too. Here are a few of my pics from the day:

Our inside shoot

Baby Sister woke up as we were doing the indoor shoot downstairs, so she got pulled into the family SnapShop business. She likes to model. I am sure some of the ladies got some cute shots of her, hopefully I can share some of those next week.

While I was in the middle of explaining the harder technical stuff the ladies started laughing. Evidently Chris let the boys play in the mud AGAIN and Littlest Brother was running on the porch entertaining us. We attempted to go out and get some action shots of the them but drizzling rain prevented that.We had stunningly gorgeous models for the afternoon shoot…three sisters. I am always so impressed when I am around these three and their parents. The girls not only treat each other kindly, but you can tell they really enjoy each other and love being sisters. I need to convince their parents to teach Chris and I their ‘trade’ secrets.

Ever since I cut my hair off I am majorly coveting long goregous hair…not that my long hair ever looked remotely this good…it was always in a ponytail.

Thanks SnapShop attendees for spending the day with me and thanks “S” girls for modeling!

In other news…Tonight I get to spend an hour with the friends I mentioned yesterday. Saturday we’ll be together for 2 hours and then on Sunday we’ll get about 5.5 hours together…I can’t believe we are so close to saying goodbye.

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  • Jodi - Wow, you never cease to amaze me with any of your photographs. I wished I lived in OK, I would be in this class in a heartbeat. What darling girls to have model for you!

  • Michelle - Thanks Ashley! The Girls had a blast! They loved the attention! Love the pics!

  • ASH - I wish I lived around you for just a while so I could go to your snapshops once. You seem like a very likeable and fun person to be around. And you have great talent in taking pictures, which I wish rubbed off through the interwaves. :)

  • ashlee - im so sad i missed! your kids are such charmers:)

  • Jesse - I had so much fun and was so thankful I got to attend! We did have beautiful models~ all of them!

  • Shannon - Wow, seriosly beautiful girls!

    And yes, we are mourning a bit in our house too. I am thinking a farewell party is in order for these friends of ours. 😉

  • Kristi - I have to totally agree! That is one family that I LOVE!!! They are all beautiful inside and out! They are wonderful people! Great pictures of great people= a day well spent!

  • Tess S. - saying goodbye? are you moving? is someone else moving?

  • bopha - wow, those girls are beautiful. their momma should be proud!

  • meg duerksen - for my teenager’s sake….find out where that cute navy ruffled dress is from…pretty please. :)

  • Michelle - Dress is from J.Crew, got it to wear to three different special events, this was one of them! And the headband is from there to! Thanks!

  • Jill J. - When I get my new camera, I am going to try my darndest to get into one of your SnapShops. I am willing to travel from Northern Colorado to do it!

    The girls are beautiful! Does the youngest “S” sister have a little heart shaped freckle on her temple? SO CUTE!

  • Lindsay - I’m wondering if you could tell us whether you use ‘actions’ when you edit these in Photoshop and Lightroom?? I am learning about using ‘actions’ etc … but your pics always look so natural so wondering if you just tinker with the exposure and saturation etc… Would you ever be willing to spill some secrets. I’m interested in a fresh, light look to my pics…similiar to yours. Thanks..

  • robyn - this makes me want girls!

  • giozi - That envy, as I would like to participate in one of your classes.
    And doubly envious when I see that you are already using summer clothes, and think there is good weather. Here in Madrid the weather is crazy, he spends the winter with heat, there is no middle, maybe just one week of sun with a temperate climate.
    I saw the photos about the mud and I was wondering, what detergent do you use?, ha ha ha, send photos of your children, serve to make advertising. 😀

  • Serena - How much fun!! Everytime I see a snapshop post, it make me want to take another!! So much fun!!

  • Patricia - Wow, those photos are SO CUTE! We can almost feel the happiness throught the girls eyes.

One of the most frequent emails I get is asking what my favorite lens is…well it changes frequently….like the paint in my house. I will say 99% of the time it is my 50mm or my 85mm. I switch back and forth between those two. The thing about lenses is there is so much, but so little, to consider. The aperture is a huge factor. It is the number behind the “f/” on a lens…in general the smaller that number the better.  The other is lens focal length. I am not going to get into a focal length definition or lesson, but just note that it is the number before the ‘mm’. Below is a comparison of three lenses: 28mm, 50mm, 85mm. In these photos I am standing at the exact same spot and all my camera settings are exactly the same. The only thing that changed is the lens on the camera.

In general here are some guidelines on lenses in relation to their focal length (the number before the ‘mm’):

21-35mm Wide Angle – Good for Landscapes, it can be distorting when used for portraits

35-70mm Normal – Good for Basic, Everyday

70-135mm Medium Telephoto – Good for Portraits, it can be difficult in a smaller area. For instance, indoors in a regular size room it is difficult to get a full view of the scene (get the birthday boy blowing out candles, but not any of his friends in the picture too)

Both Nikon and Canon have 50mm f/1.8 lenses…I recommend that as a great, affordable option for everyday use.

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And…since that post is boring without more mud pictures….here you go. This is what my boys were doing when I was cleaning the house for Saturday’s SnapShop. I used my 85mm lens for the rest of these.

Goodness do they love mud.

What – you might ask- is so entertaining in the plastic bin?

A booty print of course. When you are four and six year old boys there isn’t much in life funnier than the ability to leave an imprint of your rear in mud. Pure joy.

A close second to making mud booty prints is the extremely talented skill of making tooting noises with your mud covered hands…and letting your big bro pour mud on you. Oh to be a little boy.

I was cleaning the inside…he helped with the outside.

The countdown is beginning…next Sunday I must say goodbye to friends I have grown to love over the past 6 years….I’m a little more reflective and sad this week.

Happy Monday.

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  • Nicole - Love the mud photos! You do a great job of capturing their joy.

  • Jodi - Oh I just love these! What lens did you use for the rest of the photos?

  • Anna Joy - Love the photos! I played in mud when I was little and those are great memories I have of my childhood!

  • candace - Love it! The tips but especially the mud pictures! My sister-in-law had to “teacher” their 2 and 4 year old foster sons how to play in the mud – they had never done it before! They are happy, blessed little boys now – just like yours!

  • ashlee - so my question is…do you hose them off outside before they come inside to your lovely clean home:)

  • Shannon - What did I miss? What’s happening next Sunday?? Sounds sad!

  • Kim - Ashley – the only complaint I have about your blog is that every time I read it … I want more kids!! I am going to have to spend the day convincing myself otherwise, again. Thanks for sharing your camera knowledge!

  • Cate O'Malley - Love the pictures. It sure doesn’t take much to make kids happy. It’s the letting-go-and-letting-mud-fly on the parents side that is much harder. 😉

  • Shanalea Atchison - Boys and mud a perfect combination.

  • Sarah - oh my goodness…what fun! i can’t wait until carter gets a little bit older to play in the mud!

  • chantelle - yippee! I love lessons-I can’t wait until nap time to read over your post again and again!
    mud shot-love them all!…how did you get them clean?

  • Andrea Jett - Oh my gosh, LOST is ending! I share your pain, sadness and general melancholy. 😉

  • AshleyAnn - Jodi…I used my 85mm for the rest, I just added that info to the post.

  • susie whyte - i bought a canon 50mm f/1.8 about a month ago and i’ve seriously only taken it off my camera twice. once being at my husbands graduation this weekend. i LOVE it. and you’re right…you can’t beat the price.

  • anne c - ashley, as always I am impressed..not only with your photos but how you juggle everything! How did you have the time to be outside taking cute mud photos…inside cleaning..taking care of baby sister and then getting those muddy boys clean! geez! I am exhausted thinking about it. When I feel overwhelmed..I think of you and how you get everything done with 4 kids! wow! you go girl!

  • Stacey - my guys love mud too…at least you have them all clothed in these pictures…mine are usually naked!!

  • eeny - Oh how much fun it is to play in the mud.
    I love those pictures.

  • amanda torres - That was a very dirty post! DIRTY, DIRTY, DIRTY!

  • valerie - wow! What great little boy photos….and that mud…a simple and cheap toy..and they had a ball you can tell by your photos! Did you hose them off afterwards????:) love your photos and photo tips. Thanks and have a great mud free day!

  • Jenn - My husband has been trying to get me into photography forever and it wasn’t until he let me borrow his 50 mm lens that I have even taken to it. Now that lens could probably be called mine since he asks to borrow it from me!

  • robyn - you are a BRAVE mama!

  • tanya - loved these lens tips-very helpful…thanks for sharing!

  • Faith - Are your lenses prime? I’m thinking of getting a 35mm 1.2….but I wonder if I’ll regret that it’s not more versatile. What’s your favorite wedding ceremony lens?

  • maria - This post is so awesome!!! i have a 3 year old boy and man would he have been happy joining the mud fun. also thanks for the lens tips, i was just wondering what lens to buy next for my nikon!

  • the inadvertent farmer - This is exactly why we put in an outdoor shower…boys, mud, country living means lots of fun and LOTS of clean up! Kim

  • Liene - mmm, I am getting to understand a little about photography now! Thanks! Keep on teaching us, please?

  • Jodi - Thanks for the lens info!

  • Alba - thanks once again for your fantastic and easy tips. May I come with my kids to play with the mud?

  • Jane - As I type this, a huge hole is being dug in our back yard for a pool. My little guy is going to go crazy when he sees it. Hopefully, there will be a little safe area where he can play in it. Thank you for the lens tips. I have the Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens a love it, although I still need to learn how to use it properly. The biggest challenge I have is using it outside and not being able to go down to the lower f stops (in Aperture priority) because if over-exposes in sunlight. But I still want to have the effect of a shallow dept of field but often need to go up as high as 7 for the lowest possible shutter speed. Oh, so much to learn. I’m keeping my eyes out for the next Snap Shop dates announcement. For the record, I LOVE your photo tips. I wish you had on every single day. I learn so much from them. :)

  • Audrey - Reader from Singapore! Thanks for this post! Your photos are beautiful and so are your children! :)