A book and food – two things that cause my oldest to enter his own world, not to be distracted by anyone or anything. I love his hunger to learn, but his physical hunger is taking a toll on the grocery bill!Β  On this particular morning, I found him eating his second breakfast in a t-shirt he stole from my closet. Watching him, it was a little bewildering that he was so big. And can EAT SO MUCH. Most days I don’t find myself wanting to freeze time. I love the different growing up stages and truly look forward to what is ahead. However, there are other days it does feel like this growing up business is happening too fast.


One day at a time.

My sister surprised me yesterday with a print that she collaborated on with Cole Franke. Those 5 simple words are such a great reminder to me on difficult days, but also just for life in general. This parenting, homeschooling, working, life – one day at a time.

1.15oneday-041.15oneday-05Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus

And tomorrow may never be mine

Lord, help me today, show me the way

One day at a time

~ Christy Lane, One Day At A Time

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  • JoniBug - I love it! One day at a time. Where can we purchase one?

  • heather - This post and the one a few months ago about your oldest at breakfast time bring an instant tear to my eye. It’s so beautiful the way you capture things with your camera and your words. Mine too are growing too fast, though I love every stage. Thank you for starting every day with something beautiful.

  • Kathy - I so enjoy reading your blog! Today’s caught my eye in a special way because we have 3 sons and a daughter, older than your children, and our youngest son who is 13 is going through a growth spurt, eating an unbelievable amount of food! When our oldest son started this phase, I found a great book that has helped me, especially since I grew up with sisters and had no idea how growing boys could eat/needed to eat. HOW TO FEED A TEENAGE BOY Recipes and Strategies by Georgia Orcutt This resource has proved helpful to me and may be of use to you, too, as you begin to enter these
    amazing years with your sons. :)

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - Can I have those kitchen table chairs, pleeeeeease??? Love the print too!

  • AshleyAnn - JoniBug – click on either of their names above and it links to their shops

  • AshleyAnn - Thanks Kathy!

  • AshleyAnn - Amy – I’m keeping them….Merry Christmas to me from my parents :)

  • Jaime - I spy new chairs! Very cute!

  • Susie - That’s my boy too- I gave up on packing a lunch for school- it’s cheaper for him to eat lunch there than to buy enough to pack! He will eat anything though- so that’s good! Not at all fussy.

  • danielle - I am enjoying the different stages as well. Beautiful.

  • Jenny B. - I love your chairs too! :) Can you share where they came from? I’ve found similar ones, but not with the wooden seat. The print is beautiful. I had to go read the description on Lesley’s site to figure out if the flowers were actually on there or if they were part of the print. :)

  • christina larsen - I can totally relate to the eating a bunch. My 13 yr old is constantly hungry. My grocery bill is in trouble.

  • Kristin Cioffi - Wait until your oldest starts sprouting hair everywhere! =) J is 12 now & every morning I could swear he’s grown another few inches taller – He’s already at least 2 inches above me. It’s truly amazing how it all happens so quickly.

  • Julie B - Last night at Target I had to buy my oldest jeans from the mens department :(. I love that he is a tall kid, but it makes me feel so old!!

  • rhonda - That print is fantastic! I love it!! And the sentiment behind it.
    My oldest is 12 now and over 5 feet tall…. is really strange to realize your children are getting to be REAL people.

  • Diana - So important to remember. I can get through pretty much anything, one day at a time.

  • amber - Oh man, such a great reminder. One day. This day, is what matters. Now to remember that…

  • heather McDonald - Thank you! Thank you! Love this reminder and the quote at the end. A reminder for us all.

  • gina - What a sweet sister you have! And 2nd breakfast + a book sound kind of dreamy (and Hobbit-ish). My oldest is growing quickly, too. (I have to admit it might be kind of fun when we can share shoes. But kid please, SLOW DOWN!)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love that print!! I just ordered it to go above the bench in the kitchen.

  • Rochelle - So beautiful!

  • Nancy - Would also love to know where those cute chairs are from :)

  • PegMc - Hello, may I ask where those stools that your son is sitting on are from? They look like they fold? Love your blog!

  • Karina Westrate - I love that reminder of taking it one day at a time! I have not visited your blog in so long and what a beautiful family you have! I too have three boys and Lord willing we will adopt in the future. I too am adopted and have seen God work through adoption in a lot of ways! Anyways, beautiful and thank you for the great reminder! Blessings

  • Brittney - I absolutely adore your blog and your pictures and your family and your life. Thanks for sharing. I just wanted to pop by quick and let you know I’m stalking you, in the most uncreepy way possible. :)

  • Andrea - This morning I woke early, made myself a coffee and got comfy, just to catch up on all the stories I had missed from your page. I was not disappointed. You inspire me to want to be more, do more, love more but to also realise that actually, the here and now is perfect. Thank you for sharing yourself and your family, I am sure that everyone who comes across you is touched in some small way. Hugs from Auckland, New Zealand.

  • Carrie Rowe - So. Dang. Good. Thanks for sharing!!!

Constantly talking about ice skating, our oldest daughter has been dreaming of getting on the ice for the first time. The other kids weren’t interested, so Chris and I planned a special night just for her. We took her to dinner and told her a big surprise was in store for her. Next, Chris began telling her about an outdoor ice skating rink and how her dream was about to come true. We were going ice skating!

I’ll treasure this picture…

1.15skate-07While downloading pictures from the night, I thought it might make for a good little photo tip post. So here goes…

When we arrived at the restaurant, we chose a table near the windows. I knew going into the night that I wanted to capture her reaction to the surprise news. As we began to sit down, I pulled out a chair for her that was opposite the windows. I sat with the windows to my back. The sun was quickly setting, so I was hoping to get as much light onΒ  her face as possible. Also, the seat I picked for her meant there wouldn’t be strangers in the background of my image.

I thought through all this in a matter of seconds as we approached the table. She and Chris just followed my lead, unaware I was picking seats based on a goal to get light for a photo.

As we began munching on chips and salsa, I got out my camera to pick out my settings. It was pretty dark. The shot below is a sample of one of my practice shots while I was playing with settings.
1.15skate-01As I was playing, the shades covering the windows suddenly lifted and I might have let out a squeal. I adjusted my settings to ISO 2000, 1/125, f/1.8. She was distracted and didn’t even notice my camera.1.15skate-02Once I was ready, I nodded to Chris and he began telling her the surprise news. I was able to capture a series of photos that tell the story of her delight.1.15skate-031.15skate-041.15skate-051.15skate-061.15skate-071.15skate-08

Sometimes capturing a moment just takes a little thought beforehand. It doesn’t have to take tons of time, but if you can make the most of lighting and take 20 seconds to pick your camera settings first, the results are often worth it.

We finished dinner and headed to the rink, where her daddy took her hand on the ice and her dream came true. I think his might have too.1.15skate-10She fully believed she would step on that ice and be able to spin and twirl on her own. Instead, she learned sometimes things are much harder than they look and sometimes daddy’s arms are not only safer, but more fun.1.15skate-11Before the night ended, she stood on her with her daddy close by if she fell.1.15skate-121.15skate-13I wore my mom’s ice skates from the 70s. I made it one lap around the rink,Β  holding the wall the whole time. I needed someone to catch me if I fell. So, I put my boots back on and did what I love – I watched them dance.

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  • Reesa - Love watching her little face light up! Great job, Mom and Dad!!!

  • kristin - wow. i love that you guys were able to bring a dream into action. AND that it was still a great experience even though it wasn’t an easy reality to skate. :) i remember my first time, and i have a diary entry to go with it (a lot of unnecessary bragging about how many falls i had).
    my heart leaps for joy at these ideas. we need to get together a group of people to watch the kids we have so we can do these things. i usually send my husband out to do the adventures with the kids and i stay home. this would be SO much fun.

  • carol - Those skates hold a lot of memories. I remember skating at the fairgrounds thinking in my mind that I was an olympic skater!

  • Meg - Beautiful post. I appreciate that you took the time to explain that these beautiful candid photos that you share take a little bit of planning. :)

  • grandma - Great pictures its fun to be in on the action she will do great wait until next year

  • Melissa - ok, those pictures gave me cold chills! Those pics are sweetest thing I’ve seen in a long time! Love your posts, and have loved your blog for such a long time! Thanks for the great tips!

  • Monique - I saw this on Instagram and thought, “Of course! Figure skating! That’s the perfect sport for her!” I thought at the time you’d surprised her with skating lessons, but a date with mom and dad and learning to skate in daddy’s arms is WAY better. I figure skated for 8 years as a kid and it was my love. I’ve never felt so free as I do on the ice. If you have a rink nearby that offers lessons, and if Firecracker loved it, I think she’s the perfect candidate for a figure skater. Your family’s athleticism, her spunk, a grandma who could probably make killer costumes, her love for twirling and the spotlight… she’d have it made :)

  • Julie - What a feel good post! Thank you for brightening my morning. As a childless old lady ;^) it’s fun to enjoy these moments with your kids, so beautifully captured. Each new post feels like a little present to open.

  • Erica - Oh, I just love this post! From the practical app to the sweet story of desires fulfilled (how could I not laugh and smile at the joy on Firecracker’s face?) and finally to the last line, you watching them dance because you love it. So precious!

  • Maria - She is such a beautiful girl with wonderful expressions! Glad you all had fun!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I just love this!!!

  • Lakmali - wonderful!!!!!!! you guys know how to light up a kid’s dream!!!! <3

  • Heather - One of my favorite posts that you have written! You have such a gift with words and photography-thank you for sharing ????

  • Katie B - Such a beautiful post…photos, story, everything! What fun for Firecracker (and you parents)!

  • nicci - Seriously – Pretty much you are the coolest parents ever even though you have so many little ones, you make sure you take care of each one individually! And you have these wonderful moments recorded!!! Thanks for the puddle of tears! πŸ˜‰

  • Sarah - Ahhhh I absolutely felt her joy by looking at those photos!! What a great moment you captured! Got a big smile on my face now! πŸ˜€ xx

  • Jennifer - it is impossible to look at that series of pictures without smiling.

  • kris saia - I had a very long day at work… came home, looked at the pictures of your daughter’s happy face and it just made.my.day.
    Thanks for the lift!

  • Nichole Young - Might be my favorite Firecracker post of all time! The hair, the expressions! Oh my heart!

  • may - That series of photo is amazing!

  • Natalie - I love this. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Lisa - That is the BEST!

  • Rikki - Be still my heart. The moments we live for.

  • Jolene - She’s so beautiful! What a neat surprise!

  • Krystin - I love when photographers capture real, genuine emotion. I think you did that perfectly. This story is so sweet, too. I will try to keep your tip in mind.

  • Tara S - LOVE this post!! You seriously brought tears to my eyes. Love your words. Love the pictures. And love living the surreal moment with your daughter. Just beautiful.

  • Diana - These are adorable! What joy!

  • Lisa Reed - My 5 year old thought the same thing about ice skating! She was convinced she would be spinning and twirling her first time. She was so disappointed in herself when she realized she could barely stand up. Girls and their twirling!

  • Andrea - I’ve been reading your blog since before you adopted your youngest; have loved your photos and watching your family grow and learn. This photo series brought tears to my eyes; such a great moment to capture.

  • Paula - took me forever to find out but hockey skates are the absolutely most comfortable to skate in! Good ankle support, etc. I got my tacks from play it again sports for a steal! they’re still in GREAT SHaped even though I haven’t used them in years (oldest daughter has used them a few times-probably need blades shapened)

  • Olivia Stewart - That picture series is pretty much the cutest thing ever! I can’t wait to take my 2 year old ice skating when she is bigger!

  • Laura - ADORABLE. I love this, the behind the scenes explanation and her gorgeous excited face. :) And I love ice skating!!!

  • Randi - oh my gosh that string of pics are priceless! she is so happy! i love it.

  • Yusraa - I just love these shots! Great tips. I always love to read your blog for years now.. thanks for sharing your beautiful stories, tips and writing!

The sunshine returned! It feels like we’ve had a prolonged gray sky winter. My family needs the sun. We need dirt. And hiking. And fresh air. We need the outside…and as Oklahomans, we are totally wimps in the cold!

We welcomed the sun like a friend that has been away for too long. It felt so good.
1.15hike-011.15hike-02Room to be wild and free. Space and time to get banged up knees, dirty elbows and scratches from climbing trees. This is what I want for their childhood. Adventure, even when it is just a walk away. We have BIG travel dreams, but adventure doesn’t have to be far away. We’ll find the fun near, until we can can let it take us far.1.15hike-031.15hike-041.15hike-051.15hike-061.15hike-07My people. I’m thankful for them. And sunshine. And simple adventures, both near and far.

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  • Kathryn McInnish - I completely relate to this post. There’s just something about fresh air & nature that is good for the soul. Plus, children cooped up indoors gets super old after a while! I have read your blog for years now & you feel like an old friend. Just wanted to comment & say that I love your heart. Thank you for sharing it freely for the world to know & being the hands & feet of Jesus. Blessings to you & your family! :)

  • Christi Smith - Oh the sun felt SO GOOD this weekend! My daughter was so excited to wear her flip flops!

  • Kelly - We had a 60 degree January day here in Colorado yesterday! Exquisite! Because of various obligations we didn’t get to get out and hike or be in it as much as I would have liked but just sitting on my brother’s back porch soaking up the sunshine while he and my husband manned the grill for family lunch was balm to my soul! Have a good Monday! Kelly

  • Amy G - YES!!!! My family is the same way! (well maybe not the dirt and scrapped knees so much) Being outside in God’s beautiful creation is our favorite ways to make memories! But we live in Montana- so there is no escaping the cold- just embracing the elements!

  • erin - Little One’s hair has gotten so long!! So cute!

    Love that you take hikes, what a fun activity!

  • Sherry - Being from Michigan, it’s just CRAZY seeing flip flops!! and shorts in January. You are blessed! Today here is a balmy 30 degrees. Sun, I’d love to be reintroduced to you!

  • Paige - Ashley,
    do you have any kids who would rather be indoors? If so, how do you entice them? Maybe since you and Chris both love the outdoors, all of them naturally want to be outside. I have a tough time getting my two boys outdoors without just declaring “outside time!” and they will go out and stand in the yard doing nothing. Its pitiful. They are so imaginative inside, I don’t know why it won’t translate. Then I beat myself up because I can’t stay home with them and give them more opportunities to be outside. Saturday and Sunday are really all we have. I love outside. Fresh air. Mountains. Beaches. Walks. Was hoping that’s why God gave me boys.

  • AshleyAnn - Paige – They are all outdoor fans, but there are times they want to be inside playing legos or something else. If it is gorgeous outside, I often encourage them to just bring their indoor stuff outside…they play legos outside often. The girls color at the picnic table a lot too. Maybe trying something like that would help…

  • Jennifer - Prolonged gray sky winter is my life here in Seattle.

  • Kristin S - That top picture could be the cover of a book. True, pure trust.

    I wish I trusted my dad like that.

    Beautiful, Ashley.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I am so with you! We had a strangely gray couple of weeks and I needed this weekend’s glory!

  • Angela - I agree. The dark, cold winters can feel long. I crave time outside with my kids and when we’re inside for too long, I start feeling claustrophobic. Glad you guys were able to get out!

  • danielle - We just went there recently :) We did trail running on Sunday after church and then hiked yesterday. A little too hot for this northern girl but still beautiful! The Armidillos were out in full force at Osage Hills! My legs are happy we are taking a break today. I am sore!

  • Nichole Young - Thongs and shorts? Were is this slice of Paradise in Oklahoma? I’m in California and it’s cold and gray and bitter here! I think sunshine and sweetness just follows the Campbells where ever you turn πŸ˜‰

  • Jo Moseley - Did she make it? Did Firecracker make it to the other side? Love these shots of your youngin’s taking in the fresh air and sun. And, yep…I said youngin’s. πŸ˜€

  • AshleyAnn - Jo – she did make it :)

  • Jen - Ahhh, it looks so warm! Gotta say I am a bit jealous as we still have snow here in England!