Sunday, November 1, 2015

{Best. Friends. For Like Ever.}

I saw these shirts a while back online and couldn't resist buying them for the boys. They wore them this morning to church, and a photo shoot seemed more than necessary.

August was a great sport, but it will be a while before he can keep up with his older brothers. We let him take a break and captured a couple of photos of just Anders and Aksel.

I pray that these three little buddies truly remain best friends throughout their lives. What a special gift!

{Halloween 2015}

I'm not sure we've ever been safer than we were this Halloween, as we were protected by three brave superheroes!

Upon passing an impressive rack of costumes displayed at Costco, Anders quickly requested to dress as Spiderman for Halloween. Knowing that we had some coordinating costumes stashed from a previous Halloween, we obliged, and a theme was born.

The cutest Batman I've ever seen (since 2013 ;)).

August thoroughly enjoyed watching his tough big brothers demonstrate all their superhero moves throughout the evening.

In lieu of trick-or-treating, we visited a local church's Fall Festival, where the kids happily played games and collected candy. It was a cool and rainy evening, and the festival was perfect for a fun, and quick, Halloween celebration before returning home for bedtimes.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


It's time for the fourteenth installment of the portrait project - a photo of my children, each week, every week, for a year.

anders // My little adventurer. You place a high value on experiencing things with others, constantly asking for us to watch you play, pretend, or perform, that is, when we aren't actually engaged in an activity with you. To be honest, it's exhausting. But it also means that you are extremely cooperative when I want to take your picture, and for that, I am grateful!

aksel // Your language is still very limited, but 'outside' is one request you verbalize daily. The weather was absolutely perfect on the day we celebrated your second birthday, and I'm so happy we were able to venture out to Lake Waco. I must have yelled your name twenty times trying to get you to look up at the camera for this picture, but sometimes it seems that nothing can break your focus. I can't wait to see if this characteristic remains as you get older.

august // Your facial features are beginning to become more and more distinguished. The reward of seeing your big, bright eyes and new smiles is worth every silly face, awkward gesture, and goofy noise required to evoke the response.


What's that you say? Where is Week 12? Well, friends, Week 12 was a total bust. I can't remember what happened, and my camera certainly isn't going to help. It seems I didn't take a single picture. I'm going to give myself a little grace and move on, because the point of this project is to capture the essence of our everyday life, and I can think of nothing more appropriate to convey our every days than imperfection. Lord, Jesus, help us. The cat's out of the bag.

anders // We both learned a valuable lesson this week. You learned not to write on your skin. Or your duvet. Or anything other than paper, without permission. And I learned that I need to be more explicit when giving instructions. 

aksel // Too many of our days are hurried and busy when Anders is at Mother's Day Out, with me trying to accomplish my agenda and run errands in the company of two, rather than three, sidekicks. But this particular day was wonderfully slow, and we were able to enjoy a few activities catered especially to you. I loved watching your concentration as your piled cheerios onto spaghetti noodles. That is...before you realized you could simply eat the cereal. The activity devolved at that point, but you seemed to enjoy it just the same.

august // Hearing your chuckles while you dream is simply magic. I know it's just a matter of time before you're laughing up a storm with your big brothers.

Friday, March 27, 2015


The portrait project continues - a photo of my children, each week, every week, for a year. This week I've been lazy, so all pictures were shot with a phone. It's not my preference, but it will have to do...

anders // This has been the greyest month I can remember. I finally bought you boys rain coats because the bleak, wet weather was keeping us inside. On Saturday morning, we found a new creek to explore. Thank goodness Far and Farmor were there because the heavy rains had raised the water and there's no way I could have kept up with you three boys on my own. But you were so fun to watch, in your element and so excited!

aksel // You are a professional pouter. Oftentimes when you are disappointed, instead of throwing the usual toddler tantrum, you hang your head low, pout your lips, and close your eyes. You do this in the most dramatic way possible, so as to communicate that we, your parents, have truly ruined your good time. In this picture, you are making sure Far knows that you are heartbroken he won't allow you to ride Rody on the coffee table. (Side note: You have also started attempting to ride him on the couch. Why are you trying to give mommy a heart attack?!)

august // I just love when babies fold their little hands. The other day, Anders noticed your cousin Esther doing it on FaceTime and commented that she was praying. These days I'm doing my best to memorize your tiny little fingers and your tiny little toes because I know too soon I'm going to blink and you'll be racing and wrestling with your big brothers. 


Time to play a little catch up around here. 

anders // You have always enjoyed being outdoors, and recently we've made a concerted effort to begin ushering your interest into true learning. We catch bugs, read nature picture books, take walks, and discuss our findings as we go. Here, you are pictured giving me your best impression of an owl. 

aksel // Let it be known that you are not a tag-along on our expeditions, but an excited participant. I practically had to drag you from this creek bed after almost an hour of pebble throwing.  I nervously watched you bend down over and over at this slight incline to gather small stones and finally suggested you just lie on your belly, despite the muddy mess I knew would follow. I'm confident we will visit this spot frequently this summer, though next time I'll be sure you are wearing water shoes!

august // My sweet little tummy sleeper (Don't freak out, people. I don't actually put him to bed on his stomach. He just happily passes out pretty quickly after we start tummy time exercises!). Aksel used to do this too. But not Anders. No way. That kid made sure from the beginning to never fall asleep unprompted ;)

And I have to include this extra little gem from a sunny afternoon spent in the front yard. It's one of the first pictures of the three boys together, and I just love it!

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Well, I still haven't gotten around to writing about Anders' birthday. I'm sure you are all wildly surprised at my lack of blogging consistency (gives side eye for sarcastic effect).

Last week we were hit with a huge snowstorm! Huge! As in more than a couple of inches. Snow! As in that cold, powdery stuff that falls from the sky in flakes as opposed to the sleet/freezing rain/wintry mix that freezes our lawns and cracks underfoot to which we are so accustomed. Storm! As in wind and precipitation for several consecutive hours. Perhaps you easterners feel I'm overstating things a bit, but this kind of thing only happens every 10 years or so around here, so just let me relish the moment. Mkay? 

Our area is not very well-equipped to remove snow or ice from roadways, so Andreas ended up working from home for a couple of days. He took a short break at one point to help me bundle up the kids and enjoy some family fun. 

anders // You had such fun discovering small snow drifts, learning to make and throw snowballs with Far, and creating your first snow angel. It was magical to watch you run through untouched snow, leaving a fresh trail of tracks behind you. I did, however, feel bad that you also ran through our neighbor's lawn and ruined their pristine view. Oops. 

aksel // After spending way too long cooped inside, I thought you would be so relieved to finally get out and run around. Well, apparently our town is not the only party ill-equipped to deal with snow. Without waterproof gloves, you spent most of the time staring at your hands with great concern and begging us to remove the frozen snow. Though I wouldn't go so far as to say you disliked the experience, you certainly seemed to enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows afterward much more. 

august // My little buddy. You were a good sport and endured the frigid cold and blinding sunlight like a champ, snug in Far's arms. When we went inside to peel off all our wet clothes, he set you down and you fell asleep right there on the wood floor. And props to my wise sister, Hannah, who bought us this seemingly impractical teddy suit when we had Anders. It has actually been an awesome wardrobe addition and we've used it at least once with every kiddo. 

Monday, March 2, 2015


Anders turned 4 years old this week, which honestly seems pretty unbelievable. How can he already be 4?! I hope to have a separate birthday post up soon, but for now, here are this week's portraits. 

anders // In lieu of a party this year (I just wasn't up to the challenge of coordinating an event for 20 energetic 4 year-olds with a 3 week-old in tow. Next year, buddy!), Far and I thought it would be fun to celebrate your birthday with a special father and son camping trip. We all considered this upcoming adventure when selecting your gifts. Here you are pictured with your new fishing rod and magnifying glass, primed and ready for discovery. I can't wait until the weather warms up a bit and you are able to put them to good use!

aksel // We recently pulled out the bassinet attachment for the stroller, and you've decided it's pretty entertaining. Some days you will randomly wander over and climb in, twisting and rolling around happily, despite the fact that you barely fit! 

august // I know newborns don't consciously smile, but I caught what sure looks to be the beginnings of a grin as your oldest brother attempted to amuse you under the play gym. Both Anders and Aksel took a while to smile, and they made us work hard to elicit such reactions. I often joke that they inherited your Far's hard-to-impress sense of humor. The reality is that they find each other far more hilarious than they find Far or me, and I can't help but assume you will agree. But the thought of you three brothers laughing together warms my heart (and helps soothe my damaged ego ;))

Friday, February 27, 2015


It's week 7 of the portrait project, a portrait of each of my kids, once a week, every week, in 2015. 

anders // This picture captures you well, Cars tattoo and loads of imagination. We made playdough this week, using this recipe, with lavender, stress away, and orange essential oils. You enjoy any activity these days that allows you to rifle through my kitchen cabinets, carefully selecting tools and rediscovering forgotten items from the depths of kitchen drawers. Perhaps that adds a bit of insight as to why you were 'drinking' your playdough ball with a windy straw that had melted in the dishwasher...

aksel // This day you surprised (and impressed!) me with your concentration and fine motor skills, carefully stringing beads onto a pipe cleaner. Don't get me wrong. I helped you quite a bit, but you did manage to get a few beads on there all by yourself! You taught me quite a lesson as you tried something new, over and over, with little success, and did not get frustrated or defeated. 

august // This week Far gave you your first bath, and you looked totally relaxed! We've had varied success with baby baths (Anders basically scream-cried through his entire first bath. Okay, okay, I did too.), but I think the baby-tub-on-the-kitchen-counter method may be a winner for us all!


We are slowly adjusting to life as a family of five...with loads of help, of course. (Thank you to all of our family and friends! You guys deserve all. the. hugs.)

anders // You created a truly beautiful Valentine's card for your Far this year using watercolors. It was particularly exciting for me to watch, because although you opted to apply the paints with your hands, you kept the colors separate and vibrant. This was in direct contrast with your favorite painting method so far - stirring everything together into a muddied mess. Please don't judge me. I value your gray blob art too, but these brilliant hues are a much better reflection of your animated personality!

aksel // You, my child, appreciate a cozy setting and a slow moment. Hygge is in your blood.

august // You've settled into the newborn routine nicely. We are all smitten with you, and I, myself, spend a fair amount of time staring at you sleep. This is partially because you are adorable and partially because you are the loudest sleeper in history. Whether you are squeaking, snoring, grunting, or growling, I'm constantly returning to your resting spot only to find you sound asleep. I'm not complaining, though. It's a pretty sweet view. 

Monday, February 16, 2015


This week was pretty epic, as we welcomed our third son. August Lukas Vang was born on February 5th at 12:29pm. He weighed in at 9 pounds, 3 ounces, or 4,167 grams for our family overseas (the smallest of the three, if you can believe it!). So, this week I'm going to stray a bit from the standard format, because this event deserves more than three pictures.

This was my third C-section, and while I've never experienced an alternative birthing method and would not encourage election of this particular surgery unless absolutely necessary, I must admit there are some perks to knowing exactly when you will meet your baby. For us, it meant being able to make firm arrangements for care of the two older boys while we would be at the hospital. That task is no small responsibility, and having a plan well in advance put my mama heart at ease. In addition, several of our relatives were able to be in town for the birth, which meant Anders, Aksel, and August were all showered with an obscene amount of attention and affection. For me, an added benefit of a scheduled C-section this time around was that I got to deliver at 39 weeks. Perhaps you glossed over the previous reference to my natural proclivity to grow Sumo babies, but I'll take this opportunity to express my relief at delivering a 9 pound, 3 ounce baby at 39 weeks rather than an even larger baby at 40+ weeks. Suffice it to say this baby habitat (that's me) was uncomfortable and oh-so-ready.  Now, I feel the need to reiterate that none of these 'perks' is worth choosing to be sawed in half just to appease your Type A tendencies. But I also want to dispel the perception that a C-section can't be a magical birthing experience. I certainly didn't anticipate having a major operation the first time I was pregnant, and initially I was disappointed at the prospect. But in the end I got to hold my sweet babe in my arms, and in that moment, all was right in the world. 

So, I had a C-section. We've well-established that detail. This time, my boy was so stubborn about coming out that my doctor ended up widening my incision AND using the vacuum. I sort of feel like one of those lightbulb know, how many Aggies does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Except it's more many medical interventions does it take to get a baby out of Ashley? Thank God for modern medicine. 

I don't know if this is a normal or unique detail, but either way, it's appreciated. At my hospital, the nurse anesthetists are often gracious enough to offer to take photos during surgery. This is such a blessing because it frees Andreas to support me and bond with the baby. Plus, so many special moments are captured! So shoutout and credits go to the awesome Plano Presby staff for several of these pictures. 

I'm going to be honest, we really had no idea how Anders and Aksel would react to a new baby in the family. As far as I could tell, Aksel never really acknowledged that I was even  pregnant! We are only a week and a half in, so there's still a lot that will certainly change, but so far the big brothers have totally embraced August. Aside from the occasional over-aggressive hug (Aksel) or introduction of tiny toys (Anders), they have been so appropriate, affectionate and interested and gentle. It's so sweet to watch, and I am beyond excited to see how their friendship develops over the years. 

Wecome to the family, August. We already love you more than words can describe.

Monday, February 2, 2015


It is completely surreal to me that this is the last week of the portrait project that will feature only 2 pictures. Our littlest babe is set to make his appearance this Thursday, and we are so excited to meet him! I'm grateful that this photo challenge will hold me accountable to document the new season in our family.

anders // This is my view each morning as we gather in the kitchen for breakfast (you're currently on a yogurt kick by the way). My favorite aspect of our morning meal is how liberally you dole out hugs, frequently leaning over to give me a squeeze and tell me you love me. It's a pretty outstanding way to start the day.

aksel // You recently discovered our piano. It's terribly out of tune and even has a couple of broken keys, but that doesn't seem to bother you a bit.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


A portrait of my kids, once a week, every week.

anders // My boy, you are expressive and passionate. We like to play a game where I name an emotion and you quickly pull a face that communicates it best. I like to think I'm teaching you words that you will one day enlist to describe your feelings, but I'm pretty sure you mostly enjoy the theatrics of it all. This was your 'angry' face, and while it doesn't look especially angry to me in the picture, I loved how your whole body reacted as you lunged towards the camera. 

aksel // You are curious, and you love to chase the sunlight. Many mornings after breakfast, you walk over to the sun dancing on the wall and attempt to touch the golden light. This particular afternoon, you plopped down on the patio in a harshly bright area to inspect the chiminea. You used the racing flag pole from Anders' Big Flyer (that you boys typically reserve for digging in the sand box) to prod the charred wood. In this moment, and so many others, I find myself wondering at the innate boy-ness with which I am surrounded.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Creating habits is tough, people. On some level I knew that keeping up with this project would be more difficult than it initially appeared, but I have been surprised at just how challenging it's been to capture glimpses of our days. It takes discipline to pause, to identify seemingly mundane moments as potentially special or unique. And even beyond that, it's required a fair amount of discipline to lug around and reacquaint myself with my camera. But it's Week 2, and I made it. And I suppose the point of this whole exercise is to instill new habits. Good habits. So, here we go.

anders // After spending an early afternoon hiking and playing at a playground, you insisted you didn't need a quiet time. I made a special exception and allowed you to watch a movie instead. This was the first time I've ever seen you fall asleep on the couch, and honestly, I lived to regret the decision. You woke up after a brief half hour and were in a terrible mood. But during that short-lived nap, it sure was sweet to sit next to you and listen to the steady rhythm of your breath. 

aksel // We were greeted with sunshine and amazing 70 degree weather in the middle of January. Far assembled a new water table, gifted to you boys at Christmas by Aunt Signe and Uncle Michael. I tried to sneak you to the backyard to explore and enjoy on your own for a bit, but Anders caught on to our plan about 90 seconds later. Of course you both loved playing and were completely soaked in no time. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Well, friends, it's been eight, long months since my last blog update. I don't have a worthwhile explanation, so I'll spare you my excuses. But know that I am excited and determined to post more regularly. I'm starting with a simple goal - a portrait of each of my kids, once a week, every week, in 2015. This first week I approached the portrait project in a very literal sense, but in the future I hope to capture moments and memories, details from our daily life.

anders // 3 years and 10 months

aksel // 21 months

It's hard to believe that in early February, this series will require a transition from two weekly photos to three, but more on that later!