Both of my girls love to match. They want to match each other. They want to match their cousins. They want to match their friends. They want to match me.

Every time they celebrate matching each other or matching me, I can’t help but think about what future conversations might head my way.

My oldest daughter looks so much like I did at her age. We have the same hair and similar features. She loves looking like me. I’d say most people see her and can guess she is my daughter. That is pretty normal – most of us resemble the parents that call we “mom” and “dad”.  However, that is not true for all. It is not true for my youngest daughter.  Looking like me doesn’t make my oldest any more my daughter, just as not looking like me makes my youngest any less my daughter. My youngest daughter excitedly points out every character with Asian features in her books. She loves her dolls with beautiful black hair the most. While happily combing her hair in the mirror, she tells me our hair isn’t the same. Right now she doesn’t mind that we don’t ‘match’. Actually, she seems to delight in it.

Adoption is a beautiful, bittersweet, unpredictable road. No one can tell me how my youngest daughter will feel about looking differently than I do. Every adult adoptee I talk to has a different experience and opinion. How my daughter feels at various stages in life will be unique to her. There is not a wrong or right way for her to feel about her adoption, about looking differently than her parents, about growing up with so many unanswered questions. It is her story and her feelings. However she feels about any and all of it, I can listen. I can laugh at the things she wants to laugh about and I can cry with her over the parts that hurt.

So right now I will celebrate with both my girls. I will celebrate with my oldest the fun parts of resembling me because that is special to her right now. I will celebrate with my youngest her gorgeous differences because that is special to her right now. At the end of the day, we are all Campbell girls – and that is pretty special to me.

12.14matching-01

An oldie, but a favorite….12.14matching-04

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  • Liane - This was just simply beautiful :)

  • meg - Love this! I never quite know how to answer when people talk about how much my boys look like me. Because yeah, one kind of does -ish. The other, not so much. I think maybe it’s just one of those things people do. Look for similarities. But we love celebrating the differences too!

  • ranee - beautiful post…beautiful girls!

  • bev - I’m adopted and when I was an adult I found my birth family. It was really neat to find people who I look like (unfortunately for me – most like my birth father ;)) but as you said that is not the most important thing – of course! Continue to celebrate your family for all of their sameness and uniqueness. I am like my mother in that I am practical, organized and thoughtful, I am like my father in that I pay attention to the details and am philosophical. I am like my birth mother in that I am sensitive and that I have the same ‘snaggle tooth’ that EVERYONE in the family has! I am like my birth father in that I have a sense of adventure and that I am basically his twin. Being adopted has its inherent losses but it has so many more . Merry Christmas

  • bev - oops – *gifts. It has so many more *GIFTS! :)

  • Morgan - You have a beautiful family! I’m half Japanese and half Caucasian and grew up not looking like either parent so bio-kids have the same kind of experience. I now have two kids – both blonde and one with green eyes and one with brown so my kids don’t resemble me either! I love it though and it’s kind of fun to see just how unique everyone is on the inside and outside!

  • Chris - So sweet Ashley. Your girls are both beautiful. I love seeing them (and all your kids) in photos. Merry Christmas to your family.

  • lisa and tate - I have a 6 year old daughter adopted from China at age 9 months. I read something from an adult Chinese adopted daughter, a comment which really made me think and then add to our interactions. The simple thing as to refer to her birth parents in ways that connect our daughter to who she is. When fixing her hair I will say “Your birth mother must have amazing shiny black hair just like you” You are so good at coloring, your birth family must have talents in art.” Whether this is true or not, these comments help her connect to who she is and how her genetics affect her. We may never know if her mom has amazing shiny black hair or if she has an artist ancestors but in Tate loves to feel this connection to her past.

  • Lisa B. - I have to agree with Megan in loving the uniqueness of “mixed” kids. I have blond hair and blue eyes while my husband is Black and Korean. My kids look NOTHING like me and although you can see the family resemblance between the 2, they don’t really look alike. My daughter looks more Asian and my son, well, he just looks like himself. I get looks all the time that can only be described as a question mark. Then they meet the kid’s dad and get the “Ahhh-ha!”

  • Lisa B. - Oops! Morgan, not Megan! ;-)

  • Diana - We adopted our son domestically when he was less than 2 weeks old. People have told us from the beginning that he looks like us, and could pass as our son, and that people would never know he’s not “ours”. Umm..well. He is ours. I’m not trying to hide that he is adopted. But then on the other side we have some strangers that repeated ask where he gets his blue eyes (maybe I don’t want to tell you that, stranger). It’s a weird thing. Thank you for this.

  • Noelle - Such a good post! I have many of the same thoughts with my daughter, who we adopted a couple years ago.

  • Brenda - We’re also an adoptive family. One of our 2.5 year old daughter’s favorite books is a Sesame Street book, “We’re Different, We’re the Same”. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0679832270/ref=redir_mdp_mobile/181-0242005-1824228

  • Maureen - There are some photos, though, that Little One looks so much like her Daddy, it takes my breath away, brings tears and warms my heart.

  • Jamie - I was just thinking today about my daughter. The one in China who I’ve never laid eyes on. The one who is still just a dream and ache in my heart. I wondered as I looked at my similar looking boys how she might feel looking differently from all of us. I loved this post. You’re all beautiful.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - So, so, true. So many questions about where he gets the red hair :) Bless his heart.

  • sarah k - I have two daughters, too–and one of them shares my genes and skin color and facial features and one does not. This post touches my heart. It feels so important and weighty, the process of raising my children to celebrate the things that all of us share in common and the things that make us beautifully different. Thanks for talking about these things. Those two girls are so blessed to have you as their mama!

  • kath - ok, this is a bit weird. i saw the photo you posted on instagram the other day of you and your ‘matching’ daughter and thought it was your Little One! just realised it was Firecracker! can they both be starting to look like you…?

  • Carrie Rowe - all three are such beauties!!!!

  • Christina - Even though your youngest might have hair a different color, and eyes that are a little different, I think you will both be surprised how much she is like you as she grows. I am forever seeing my stepdad in my son, even though there is no shared blood, and he died years before my son was born, I know I must have picked things up from him that i’ve inadvertently passed on to my son in the way of humor and mannerisms. So while some of the outside may look different, I think you will be pleasantly surprised how much you “match” over the years. :)

  • Suzette - I am an adult adoptee. I looked like my family (well, I didn’t not look like them). My mom could have never mentioned that I was adopted and I would have never known. But I did have this weird desire to look in someone else’s eyes and see “me.” I never wanted to find my birth parents because I didn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings. She, on the other hand, would probably love to meet my birth mom to thank her. Fast forward many years and I became a mom. When my baby boy was born, I couldn’t wait to see “me.” But, my husband’s family’s genes are soooo strong that it seemed like I had been an incubator for a Hubbard clone. What?! His is now a teenager and I see so much of me in him (good and bad, physical and non-physical traits). Adoptions, families, people…all are so unique. It is so beautiful that you see what Little One experiences as her own to be shared, dealt with and celebrated by you and your family. You are an amazing mom, Ashley!

  • Suzette - *He ont his

  • Suzette - Oh my gosh! I can’t spell today!
    *He not his

  • Kimberlee Jost - Love your thoughts on this…and can’t help but feel like their heart resembles their Mom’s. xo.

  • Laura J - My bio son looks a lot like me. As a teen he couldn’t stand when people would comment on it. My daughter is from Guatemala, and has very different coloring. Sometimes she talks about how we don’t look alike & it is hard to hear her sorrow over it. As a teen, she does brag about her beautiful hair & skin. I tell her I am jealous! My sister-in-law( also a mom of a mix of bio & adoptee children) told me before we brought my daughter home, “You can never love them enough to make up for someone else giving them away”. I understood with my brain, but not my heart. They will grieve their whole life. My job is to stuff my daughter with every ounce of love I can, and be with her(when she lets me) in her grief. Hard, but lots of parenting is hard. Start looking into Holt Adoptee Camp. All counselors are adoptees. They do talk about(in an age appropriate way) some of the hard things. It is safe at camp to share those thoughts & feelings with people that really do understand how you feel. The other good part is that all the other families look like yours!

  • Steph - Beautiful. My older sister is my mom’s biological daughter and I am adopted. We have different EVERYTHING (our ancestors never crossed paths lol) whereas they are twins, even more so as my sister was born when Mom was 17. My mom always told me that one day I would have a little girl who looks just like me. But you know, that thought seemed surreal and confusing to me. In my world, families are melting pots. And as it turns out I did have a little girl. We could not look more different! She actually looks a lot like my mom :) Funny, the things God comes up with. I love my daughter’s bright copper hair and translucent skin. I suspect she’ll love my deep olive complection and black hair. We don’t match even a little. I love it! She’s my first blood relative but I forget that we are related, it just doesn’t come naturally to my mind :P

  • Steph - Oh and I agree that you may be surprised how similar you look to other people. Again my mom/sister and I are physical opposites on paper. But people tell my sister and I all the time that we look alike. Only after we became best friends in adulthood though…another funny thing we can’t explain!

    And I love love love how you speak about adoption. You have the attitude and outlook and sensitivity every adoptee deserves. Seriously, that’s pretty rare. It’s refreshing.

  • Martine Zoer - Hey Ashley, Love this post! Let me know if you’re interested in receiving some of our pink tees for your girls. I would love to send them our Best Friends tees! Happy Holidays! Martine

Two thirds of my growing up years were spent at the gym. Gymnastics was my life. The gym was my home.  It was my choice and one I would never change. I grew up in the gym. I grew up with my teammates. So much of who I am today is a result of years as a gymnast.  My very first memory of an answered prayer took place in the gym as an eight year old girl. It marked me. Everything there marked me. I have more memories gathered around a bowl of chalk with my teammates than I do gathered around the kitchen table with my family.

12.14chalk-01This week I had the opportunity to visit Aim High Academy in Tulsa and capture some images of the coaches and gymnasts. There is something about walking into a gymnastics gym that feels like coming home. And the bowls of chalk are welcoming like a home cooked meal.12.14chalk-02Aim High Academy is a non-profit gym that combines faith and flipping to help build bright futures in the north Tulsa community.  I can’t do the story of Aim High justice, so this is what you can find on the About page of their website:

“After volunteering with youth in the north Tulsa community for over 10 years, our Founder, Jennifer Patterson, saw a need for early intervention in the lives of the youth she was serving. Through prayer, God gave her the vision to combine her passion for the wonderful sport of gymnastics with her passion for North Tulsa children. Although unique, the idea makes sense. Children can begin gymnastics at age 2 or 3 – one cannot intervene much earlier than this!  Gymnastics, being such a disciplined sport, presents opportunities for so many lessons children can receive.”

12.14chalk-03I’m not easily excited. I’m a pretty even keel girl, but you show me someone using their unique gifts and passions to make a positive difference in the lives of others, well that excites me. Watching the Aim High coaches and gymnasts together – so fun and inspiring. It didn’t hurt that chalk was involved too:)12.14chalk-04I came home and told Chris that if I wasn’t homeschooling 5 kids, teaching online photography classes, being a mom of 5 and blogging – I would beg Aim High to let me come coach. Maybe one day.

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  • jessie - This post makes me so happy :) I talked to Amy afterwards and she said you didn’t stop smiling while you were there! If this is a dream for you one day, oh man I hope it becomes a reality!!!

  • Katie Moody - I think the perfect addition to this post would be some old photos of your gymnast days!

  • kim - Love this,5 of my kids swim competitively, they spend so much of their time at the pool, my hope is that they will have sweet memories too.

  • Erin - great post! and what a wonderful gym!!

    I’m a former gymnast myself. I got into the sport in high school and I coached in my later years at the park district and local high school (I helped with the freshman and we won the conference that year!) So I totally get the need to coach. so fulfilling, hopefully one day you can do it!

  • Carrie Campbell - Super cool, Ashley! :)

  • Kel - I was so excited to read this post and did not realize you were a former gymnast. So neat to hear of ways to help kids through that endeavor. It gives me something to ponder – as I too am a former gymnast. I gained so many good things from that sport and was also able to be a judge for a few years in college.

    I agree with an earlier commenter — pictures of your early days might be in order! :)
    Merry Christmas.

  • Kristi B. - I must say Jennifer Patterson is AMAZING! Heart of gold. So cool you captured her gym. She was my Kanakuk counselor 22 yrs ago! and she’s still sharing Jesus with girls– quite amazing!

  • Tracy - If the time was every right, they would be lucky to have you Ashley!

  • Michelle - Your website is a refreshing online experience. I much prefer checking in with your positive, uplifting blog every morning over checking news sites. When I get up from the computer I’m in a better mood than when I first sat down!

All I want for Christmas is an entire day alone in my house to finish projects. I could accomplish in a day without kids what takes a year to accomplish with kids. I’ve been trying to tackle one small project a week. However, reality is it has taken three weeks for me to actually tackle one project. My most recent small project was to paint three black frames white and add some art to the girls’ room.  Three weeks to get three frames painted. I could probably remodel my whole kitchen in a day without kids – hint, hint grandmas.

Here is the new (and old) art hanging in the girls room.

12.14gallerywall-01

A couple of the prints have a singing/song theme. My youngest daughter’s middle name is Song. We often say life is a musical with my oldest daughter – she is always singing. It is a good fit for both girls. I know someone will ask where the prints are from so here are the sources (left to right, top to bottom): Fill My Heart with Song (a handmade gift from my friend Amy), Let Your Light Shine, Be Kind, You Put A Song in My Heart (by Megan for the Incubator Project), Far Better Things Ahead, He Sings Over Me, Girl band original painting, Do You Suppose She’s A Wildflower, Sweet as Honey

The watercolor painting of the girls was a surprise gift from my friend Ruth. I had posted an image on Instagram of the girls playing guitars. A little while later I was scanning instagram and an image of a painting of my girls popped up. It was such a fun surprise! Ruth mailed me the painting and I’ve been itching to finally get it hung in the girls’ room. I hung it low because the girls like to look at it and re-enact the moment.12.14gallerywall-03In adding the new frames, I had a couple spacing issues. The frames are not all perfectly spaced. We like wonky around here – that is what I tell myself anyway. There was one part that had a pretty big gap, so I decided to add something to the top of the frame – to make my bad spacing look more intentional. I grabbed a piece of thin balsa wood and hot glued random stuff I found in a craft jar (ribbon, birds, old flowers). At first I sat all those objects on the frame and they wouldn’t sit flat. Gluing it all to balsa wood provided a flat base. It also means when the the girls knock it off, it is super easy to set back on the frame. I wanted to add our peg people family dolls, but a few family members are missing….off to find those.12.14gallerywall-0512.14gallerywall-0712.14gallerywall-0812.14gallerywall-09I am so jealous of her swoopy bangs and lack of cowlick.12.14gallerywall-11And then there is this cowlick. Bangs will never be in her future.12.14gallerywall-12“Girls, can I take a picture of you hugging?”12.14gallerywall-1312.14gallerywall-14Sisters are the best.

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  • Debbie - I love the details in the painting. So special!

  • Michelle Hill - oh man, those girls are so ridiculously gorgeous!
    I love that painting of the “girl band”…tell us more about it?! I can’t help but wonder if a devoted reader painted it for you, hee hee.

  • cathy - LOVE it!! Especially the wonky! I love wonky and use that term all the time. And yes…all I want for Christmas is projects finished!

  • Monique - You must know how freeing your first sentence of this post is. I literally said the same thing to my husband yesterday, who can’t pitch in at all because of college finals week. We have no family nearby and a house of toddlers, and ALL I WANT is to finish the multiple half baked projects around here without a child underfoot because uninterrupted I could get so much done. I’m learning to let go of expectations, to be ok with not quite finished or perfect, and to be full of gratitude for the beautiful reason and souls behind our mess. But. It’s just so nice to know even Ashley Ann feels the same way. Overwhelmed and inadequate feeling: Gone :)

  • kribss - They are both GORGEOUS!

  • Jack - I love the ‘Girlband’ painting – just gorgeous!

  • Bird - Definitely, sisters are the best, even though my sister is only my sister by heart and not by blood… it does´t matter really! This love is something so precious, it will never leave you again!

    Love from Germany and the -fatcatconnection-
    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2014/12/inspiration-lately.html

    Bird

  • Haley - I love how you can make the like-a-craft-room-threw-up decorating style look amazing (I swear I remember you calling it this before, so it’s not supposed to be an insult). I feel like if I tried the same thing, it would look like literal throw up.

  • Diana - Adorable!! And I agree, sisters are the best!

  • Lori - Love the wall with all the sayings! Your sweet girls are beautiful!

  • AshleyAnn - Haley – yep, that is how I describe it! Thank you :)

  • Georgia - They are so adorable. Love the room and the pictures, too. The watercolor is the best!!

  • Eva - This wall is just too beautiful!!!!! And so are your girls!

  • Ruth - I love your oldest daughter’s ragamuffin hair! It reminds me of my daughter’s (minus the cowlick, but still crazy).

  • Julie B - If it was hung perfectly then someone would fix that right? Story of my life, lol! Embrace the wonky I say! I love how you added that bit of extra to the top. It really makes it pop.

  • Rebecca - Your oldest daughter looks exactly like Meg Ryan in that last photo. They are both beautiful. And I have two boys (18months and 4months) and I want exactly the same thing as you for Christmas.

  • Stephanie - Love your blog:) I had to comment because you put into words what I was thinking yesterday! I homeschool my 3 kids (ages 10, 8 & 6) and I love being with them, but all I want for Christmas is a day to finish my projects too:) And I am working on a gallery wall in my daughter’s room too, while they were dancing around and coloring right under where I was trying to level and hammer;)

  • jenny - this is so adorable… i have been meaning to do something that like in my girls’ room forever… and paint the walls… and the dressers… ack… like you said… a day :) that older post with the peg people.. wow! they were all so little… and seeing the early phases to your house… wow! i may have to ready me some archives :) (someday, when i have more time) :)