I could not get to the campsite fast enough. I’ve been looking forward to a few days away. Visions of drinking coffee with two hands while I looked out over the lake danced in my head. I would listen to the leaves rustling. I would smell the campfire. I’d close my eyes and soak in the peacefulness of it all.

 I got my chair ready. Added some leftover decorations from the Be Crafty Workshop (more on that later) and waited for that perfect quiet moment.

Processed with VSCO with s2 presetThe perfect quiet moment never came – at least on that day it didn’t. If I only posted this picture with the caption, “Camping with the family!”…I guarantee the vision that would come to your mind would be quite the opposite of what was happening on the other side of the camera.

On the other side of the camera:
  • One boy had a dumbbell in one hand and bag of chips in the other (we are all about balance around here)
  • One boy was reciting lines from Nacho Libre in a surprisingly accurate accent
  • One boy was just making noise. Just because.
  • One girl was playing a tin whistle that I specifically said was not allowed on this trip.
  • One girl was complaining her muffin didn’t taste right.
 For the love…I just wanted 10 minutes with my coffee and the sounds of nature.
I stepped in the trailer and told Chris this is just not my season for quiet. I crave quiet, but my life is so very loud. I told him one day we will travel in a smaller trailer and it will be just the two of us. I’ll probably tell him he isn’t allowed to talk to me and he’ll go roam the campgrounds and meet everyone. He’ll invite them all to dinner at our trailer and I’ll smile at his love for people (thankful for the quiet moments of my morning before he decided to host a party).
My season for quiet will come (I hope!). For now, I’ll take a deep breath and try to choose each day to soak in the sounds of childhood surrounding me. I can either focus on lack of quiet in my life or I can focus on the sounds of a full life. Some days are much easier to see the beauty in the noise!
I do love my boisterous crew, but I am also going to be sure to send them all away for a bit so I can enjoy that cup of coffee in my cute chair by my cute trailer before we head home!
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  • Oceana | Maps + Mandalas - Sounds like growing up in my noisy family! But I will say one thing: both of my parents talked about how much they missed that ‘family noise’ when we all left home.
    Hope you enjoyed your camping trip!

  • jenw - LOL! It’s amazing how different camping was before the kid and after the kid…and we just have one! We always seem to end up with extras at our campsite though. I do miss those quiet lazy moments of camping though!

    Even at home I frequently have to remind myself what a blessing it is when neighborhood kids just show up and stay for the day. Even if I do have to yell “shut the door!” every. single. time. they come in the sliding door. 🙂

  • Beth - Right there with ya!

  • Jenn - “…focus on the sounds of a full life.” i love that. great things to remember. my hubby and i have been watching the show this is us which i love and there was a moment where Rebecca, mom of triplets says something like, “they will be in college soon.” trying to remember how fast that time goes and to soak in the now. but yes, sometimes it is hard. 😉

  • Lisa Adams - Oh, I get it fellow introvert with extrovert hubby who invites people over. My boys are older 19, 17, 14 but musical. Guitars all day long…..college kid has a lot of free time even with a job. No silence. Amazing appetites. blessings
    Lisa who used to live in Tulsa area now in STL.

  • Sarah - I totally get this. I’m an introvert and a homeschooler. Right now, I yearn to have time alone at home. In fact, that was my family’s gift to me for my birthday last month–about four hours home alone. Best gift ever!

  • Rebekah - Thank you for the encouragement you have offered in this post!

  • LauraInSacto - You will have your peace…in about 15 years. When all is quiet and then you will crave the mayhem again. Life is like that.

  • Abbi - Thank you for this! Such a good reminder and perspective to have in embracing the loud and wild of raising lots of kiddos. I needed this today! ??

  • Susan - Ashley, I totally remember feeling this same way when my children were young. But trust me, don’t blink because one day before you know it, you will be craving the voices talking over each other, even arguing would be better than the intense quiet of your life once they all fly the nest. I sometimes find my mood sliding into depression and realize it is because the quiet is so deep. But then the grandgirls come by and the grandest noise enters the house!
    Thank you for sharing all the seasons of your life. Hope that cup of coffee and quiet is restorative!

  • Beth - This is almost exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. My 7 year old does not stop talking! I’ve had to remind myself that it’s maybe how I feel about it that has to change ?

  • Anne Eicher - I know exactly what you’re talking about! Life with my 4 boys is NOT quiet and some days I long for some quiet time! (That’s one reason I love my morning jog when everyone else is still in bed!) But a while back I had to drive about 2 1/2 hrs by myself to take some building supplies to hubby and I couldn’t stand the silence! No-one to say “MOM, MOM!!! LOOK AT THAT MOM!!!” (I got my 15 yr old to ride home with me so I wouldn’t go crazy.) I try to remember that now when I’m driving down the road wishing my boys would be quiet!

  • Paige - YES! I came home the other day fully expecting my kids to be with my in-laws but no they were at my house. I had 10 minutes to get ready to out to dinner with some friends and just wanted to be home alone for 10 minutes!!!!! Totally understand that this is a season of noise but sometimes I just need quiet!

  • Helen - Yes… that empty nest will come… and it will be fabulous. But, every stage is the best stage. I know you enjoy each one as it comes.

  • Rose - Thank you for this Ashley, I have read your blog from New Zealand since your first wee girl was a babe at the same time as I was having my third child. I have since had a fourth and although mine too are now getting older I crave the quiet and the quiet doesn’t often come! Thanks for the gentle reminder to be grateful for the joyful noise that the noisy monkeys bring and I hope you get to hold that coffee in the quiet-ish sometime soon!

  • Kathy - This is so true! Thank you for being real! Your blog is my favorite to read because it so encourages me with my boys!

  • Carol - I have too much quiet. Bring those kiddies over when you get back!!

  • Jenny L. - Have Dad take them on a hike or somewhere for 10 minutes. We camped with our kids all their lives but we did it with 5 other families and it was really noisy but fun. I know you appreciate your kids so much and know that empty nest will come soon enough. My son sent a young man from college to stay with us for a week when his lodging fell through. We pounced on that boy like a couple of parenting lions! He didn’t seem to mind thank goodness! I love the decorations on the camper. I love anything multicolor. We are going to start camping again soon and I am so going to do that. Color always brightens the mood!

  • Suzie - Don’t pine for quiet too quickly. Before you know it you will be wishing for chaos.

  • Jenn P - I have so much of the quiet now, and I have for years. But I am praying and hoping one day i’ll get to experience the noise you experience with your crew. Each season is different right? I’m trying so hard to live in this season and fully enjoy it while its here. Because I know one day, it’ll be so very different. And I’ll be in your shoes, craving a hot cup of coffee alone in the quiet.

    You’re doing a great job momma!

  • Ranee Brokaw - so very well said. 🙂

My grandpa’s woodshop was one of my very favorite places growing up. I relished taking a broom and sweeping all the sawdust off the floor. I soaked in the smell. The sounds. The sights. I’m confident his workshop played a huge role in my affection for working with my hands today – Grandpa’s workshop and my dad’s ability to build/make anything.

Earlier this summer we began building and quilting classes with my grandparents. I wanted my kids to learn from their great grandparents things I could never teach them – things that actually far more than building and quilting.

I need to get more pictures of grandma and the girls with their finished quilts, so I’ll save that post for later. Today I wanted to share a few of my grandpa and the boys. We try to go over once a week, but we’ve missed a few weeks here and there. My boys (& girls) look forward to this time with great anticipation.


10-16building-510-16building-7It is incredible to watch the boys now. They move about the workshop with ease and confidence. As I took these photos, I was beaming. I’ve grown up with my grandparents a regular and active part of my life. It is all I know. I easily forget that it is not the ‘norm’. My kids learning to build and quilt from their great grandparents seems just like an ordinary thing to me at first, but then I step back and realize how truly extraordinary it is. Watching moments like this – this is the good stuff in life. This is the stuff I want to chase.

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  • Laura Piersall - So sweet! Makes me wish I live closer to my grandparents so that my kids could learn from them every week.

  • Beth - You’re on the right path!

  • Sarah - Oh so special, Ashley!
    Made me well up thinking of my grandpa and his wood shop. He recently passed, but watching him create trinkets and treasures with my oldest was one of my very favorite things.
    What a priceless gift they are being given.

  • Emily - That is so special! What an amazing thing you’re doing for your children <3

  • Beth - I love when you write about the relationship between you and your grandparents and your kids and their grandparents/great-grandparents. Like you, I had grandparents that were very involved in my day-to-day life (though my dad’s mom passed away before I was born). So many of my favorite memories involve my grandparents. I feel so fortunate to have had and continue to have them in my life. My “Poppy” taught me how to make cinnamon buns and plant Christmas trees, while my “Nanny” taught me how to sew, play cards, and bake cookies. To this day, they are some of my very favorite people.

  • amy siu - May God keep blessing your family! post more! your blog really encourage me a lot. thanks!!!

  • Anniken - I had the pleasure of having my grandparents as neighboors when I grew up, and I have learned so many different things from them. And they were so handy, and did pretty much everything themselves so there were plenty things to watch and Learn. And the relationship we got… priceless!

  • Diana - I LOVE this. How special for your kids! Woodworking was my Grandpa’s retirement hobby but I never learned from him. I wish I had!!

  • Christine - These are amazing! It’s rare to have that kind of family bond AND great-grands who can still get around. You are one lucky family — keep fostering these relationships!

  • Michelle Fizzard - This is beautiful on so many levels!

  • Maureen - These photos are beautiful and important for so many reasons. The 2nd one down though, is astounding and outstanding and took my breath my away. It beautifully tells a story that needs told.

  • Lacey - This is just about my most favorite post of yours, Ashley! I adore hearing about your relationship with your grandparents and how your children are able to grow up with that similar relationship. What a rare, priceless gift. I’m so glad you took these images.

  • Candy - What beautiful memories you are making AND to have them documented in photographs is so special!

  • Byron - Wonderful wonderful pictures and commentary, Ashley! Both of my grandfathers died before I could get to know them (as I recall, before my third birthday). Your family is very blessed to still have your grandparents with them.

    The main difficulty with any type of work is getting the proper tools. I have a sizable garage but not serious tools. Those are good skills to learn and the boys are very lucky to have so much available for them! God bless!

  • Holly - That one with great grandpa’s hand on his shoulder. I’m sure he’ll cherish that for many years to come.

  • Robyn - Beautiful! Life Magazine good!!! So inspiring, in so many ways!

  • angie - What a gift. I grew up a continent away from both sets of my grandparents, seeing only one set once a year. Now that I have a daughter of my own we moved to be closer to mine and my husbands parents. I wanted my daughter to have a relationship with her grandparents that I never did. It’s beautiful to see them together. Your family dynamic is one to cherish and I pray that one day if/when I am a grandparent that I can be as equally as involved in my grandchildren’s lives.

  • Donzel - These posts are why I love reading your blog. The relationships displayed here are a delight and an encouragement. My husband and I have chosen to live near my family …. perhaps one day we’ll live near his and give our children the opportunity to experience his culture & language while growing their relationship with that side of the family.

  • Colleen - When I saw your post on IG I immediately came here to read through this post and see these photos. How wonderful that you all had this time together. I’m sorry for the loss of a great man.

My oldest has been working out with me a couple mornings a week. Our trainer usually spends a good 20 minutes walking us through stretches. I’ve looked over at my son in shock at his lack of flexibility. What? When did that happen?  I know there are a bunch of factors, but I also know flexibilty helps with injury prevention and other health issues.

I started watching my other kids in regards to flexibility too and decided we needed to do something proactive.

Yoga in the mornings…before we start school.

I found yoga cards for kids that has a yoga poses on each card. The kids each draw a card and we go through each pose together. It doesn’t take too long, but it gets them stretching everyday.

I don’t have pictures of us all together, but I found the girls outside with the cards earlier this week. One takes it very seriously. One does not.


I need to have Chris take some pictures of me and the kids one morning. It will probably make me laugh one day to look back on them…“Hey kids, remember when I used to make you do yoga poses every morning?” Of course they will respond, “Yeah mom! That was awesome. We are such flexible adults with great mobility because of that. Thank you. You’re the best mom.” Okay, they probably won’t say that, but I’m having fun watching them in the morning and laughing together is never a bad way to start the day!

I’m not sure what we are going to do when it gets cold. The concrete and wood floors in our house may not work so great. I could get us each a yoga mat, but then it is 6 more things to buy and store. Do any of you have any suggestions?

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  • JenW - What about a foldable gymnastic/wrestling type mat? I can see that getting some use beyond yoga in your house. All the kids might not fit on it together, but you could do yoga in two shifts.

  • Kate Ziegler - Have you heard of Moon Mats? They are made out of the material that ear plugs are made of – your kids will probably want to lay on them all day!

    Or maybe this yoga mat DIY x6 (http://www.mesewcrazy.com/2015/05/yoga-mat-diy.html)?

  • Addie - You could always just use towels for yoga mats

  • Tricia H - Get a couple of mats and do the yoga in shifts. It will give you time to work with different kids on school work. And yoga is mostly a quiet practice which helps to keep the noise down for others who are working/studying. (I know it’s not as much fun as doing it all together and laughing. But it’s a way to keep costs down and help with your problem of being pulled in multiple directions with so many grade levels!)

  • Kristen - My kids LOVE Cosmic Yoga (YouTube channel) and we don’t use a mat for it, just do it on the carpeted part of the house.The “instructor” tells a story, incorporating yoga moves along the way. Great for the younger ones.

  • Stacy Hutchens - My kids do Cosmic Kids Yoga just on the bare wood floor in our living room. Nobody has ever complained.

  • Debbie C - I like the suggestion of doing it in shifts. Also, maybe just throw a quilt or thick blanket over the rug for a little cushion.

  • Shira - What about using those exercise mats that are interlocking squares? I believe they’re the same type of foam, or at least same support (if not more), and they interlock/break up, so you could make them one large mat or smaller individual as needed. The bonus – this is what sold me on it for us, which was for a different purpose altogether – is that you can break it up and use the square to make forts, cubes, etc./other imaginative play. We have one of these: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B013VP19NC/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1, and absolutely love it. I don’t know your kids’ sizes, but my guess is that one of these is big enough for 2-3 kids, or 1 adult and 1 kid, unless you need a lot of space. Can link multiples together in different ways. anyway, not shilling for them, and plenty of other companies/versions, but works well for us. I like that I can quickly break it or “fold” it over if I need to put it away.

  • Romy MacGibbon - I’m doing my ROMWOD session everyday. You should check it out. It is a mobility / stretching 14/15 minutes session that helps with Crossfit movements. Win for you, and win for the kids. You can do it on a carpet, no need of yoga mats!

  • Katie Thomassen - Hate to be the “one”, but I highly recommend yoga mats. Towels are slippery and when trying to concentrate on not falling over, the last thing you want is your mat working against you. Kinda like doing yoga in socks on the kitchen floor. Yoga mats can be inexpensive and roll up quite nicely. I keep mine in a vintage shopping basket (think the kind grandma used to cart her groceries home in) They can also be shoved under a bed or stored in a clothes hamper. I find them all the time at my local thrift store, just disinfect and go! Plus, I think that each kid having their own mat might make it a little more personal for them. As for your hopes of future accolades…we still give my mom a hard time for her “granola phase” when she seriously thought she could trick us with carob chips. Good luck with that.;-)

  • Seamingly Sarah - I love me some yoga! My two girls have copied me doing it when they were baby/toddlers. But now they just know it’s time to leave mommy alone so she can have some yoga time. My youngest asked to do some yoga so I found an Anna/Elsa one where the lady does yoga poses while telling the story of Frozen. She liked it so much that she just stood still so she could concentrate on listening to the story!

  • Blanton - This is great. me and my little man practice out meditation, breathing, and yoga each day and it has really improved his ability to calm himself and focus, which is a big deal for a three year old!

  • Byron Henderson - Yoga mats are a great idea and, as I recall, your main room would do a solid job as a yoga studio.

    If you really want to have fun, try hot yoga! Just crank the thermostat up to 110, let it heat up, and then get into the poses! Take water breaks.

    Order more Ginsu Yoga Mats from Amazon! Or don’t. (We’re considering making those our new “pain threshold testing devices” for Boo-fet).

    On a more serious note, I did yoga for years and it will definitely be good for you and the kids. And it’s fun!

  • Tara - These photos are so much fun!

  • Amber - I also vote for Cosmic Kids yoga. I appreciate the playlists (shorter, longer, peaceful or high energy routines).

    I got everyone their own mat. That way the kids don’t pile on top of me while they exercise and they feel a sense of ownership. I roll up the mats and keep them under the IKEA lack coffee table in our living room. They are visible but neatly stored and serve as an exercise reminder. I could also stash the mats behind the couch if needed.

    Have fun!