happenings around here

In case anyone is wondering…Pepper Poppy Campbell is doing well. Very loved. Hugged and carried far too often. She is one tolerant, laid back little cat.
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I prefer crafty magazines, the boys devour Lego magazines. You can’t even really call them magazines, they are more like catalogs. At first I didn’t get it. But in a way they are like craft magazines for the boys. They study kits and then build their own version.
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On the topic of magazines…FireCracker’s room is in the current version of Parents magazine. I look at that picture and think, “wow, I wish my daughter’s room looked like that” – because right now it is filled with boxes to move out to the studio. Not so cute or magazine worthy.
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The boys room is featured in a recent book by Andrew Weaving. Funny thing is…I look at those pictures and wish my boys’ room looked like that too. Currently the boys’ room is wall to wall twin beds. Really, there are about 6 inches between the three beds. I have to walk between them sideways! But the boys are happy. And I can always look at this book to remember the good ole’ days!
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Yesterday the lovely Emily of The Anderson Crew stopped by for lunch. I don’t even remember how we first ‘met’….but I am thankful we did. She has been such an encouragement to me and taught me so many things. I’m looking forward to having her within driving distance to maybe get to get some together ‘in real life’. It was shocking how quiet my house was – with 10 kids in it. My boys REALLY liked hers. Her kids are so sweet and were such fun to have in our home. And – I felt pretty honored to finally get to meet Emily in person. I would like to point out the kids in the photo below: Emily’s are all smiling so cutely, a couple of my kids weren’t so into the picture taking.
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Her youngest two didn’t make this picture…next time we’ll get her other two and my youngest daughter in the group shot!
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Speaking of my youngest daughter…how about an update? Last week was a little hard for me. It felt like little setback after little setback. Silly things like filling out visas too many times to count because I kept making mistakes. Showing up at the bank to get a certified check only to realize I lost my driver’s license. Getting to FedEx just after the last truck left, so a package got delayed. Just lots of little things that add up.

Another family, picking up their daughter, was able to visit the orphanage. They so graciously requested to take pictures of our Little One. I didn’t get my hopes up that they would be able to…but they did! And they got video to send us later. Priceless gift. We are forever grateful to this sweet family. Though I can’t put into words how incredible the gift of new pictures is to my family, they were also hard to see. She has teeth now. Her head was shaved again (it was shaved in February for lice/scabies prevention/treatment) and she just didn’t look very good. As a mom, I wish we’d get pictures of her with a smile and the look of being very well cared for. It is so hard to see pictures that I can’t see a light in her eyes. IT IS SO HARD.

So…I was very down about things over the weekend. I woke up Monday morning to find out her visa paperwork that we were waiting on was sent along. This was a very big step. Then yesterday we got word that all our stuff was dropped off to the appropriate government office…and will be picked up on July 24th. So what does that mean???

IT MEANS ON JULY 24TH WE BEGIN WAITING FOR OUR TRAVEL APPROVAL (TA)!!!

The travel approval takes 1-4 weeks and then we’ll leave 2-3 weeks after that….obviously we are hoping for a one week TA wait and then to hop on a plane as soon as possible.  The older boys will be going with us. We needed some updated travel shots. Since we were so brave, we got very special treats on the way home.
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So, around here I’ve got stuff to do. Number one on the list – make our 2011 family photo books! If I don’t get them done in the next two weeks, they’ll never happen. So I’m getting that done…then I will let myself start getting our travel stuff together. And then I am going to go get my daughter!

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  • angie - Such a fun post but the thing that stoodout was the last sentence. “…I am going to go get my daughter!” Yay! :) The end is near and I am happy for you and your family. Also, I loved seeing my blog worlds collide on my IG feed yesterday. How fun!

  • Natalie - Loved today’s post. Got chills thinking about how soon this little one will be home where she belongs. And I can’t even imagine how big your family photo book will be! Haha :)

  • Jenny S - Two things: first off, congrats on all the progress you’ve made. I can’t imagine the stress and everything. But kudos to you for making it through it. The last sentence also stood out to me. Gave me chills. How exciting.

    Second: I saw your photo in my Parenting magazine last night. I instantly knew it was your photo without even reading the caption. You have such a unique and gorgeous style. Question: where did you gather the lanterns and other items from for the ceiling? Do you have a post on it here? I couldn’t find it, but also might not be looking/searching for the right items. :)

    Once again, kudos to you for all you’re doing. I know it might be hard right now, but it will all be worth it in a handful of weeks. :)

  • Kristin S - Fun post and fun group pics and good perspective and honest feelings. I so want to be your real-life friend. Blog world just does that. Thanks for your honesty.

  • Karen - Oh Ashley, I can’t imagine only ever seeing a picture of my daughter. Old enough to have her teeth but not managing to flash them in a smile. Knowing that her hair was shaved to help keep her healthy, but unable to scoop her out of there. My heart’s breaking for you and for her. But you are going to get her, yes you are. xx

  • Paige - Awesome news!!! I love that, “I’m going to get my daughter.” She is already a part of your brood, just as if she were in the house already! Joshua 1:9!

  • Abigail C - You’re getting closer! That’s really exciting.

  • Amy - This is so exciting! It’s really getting closer. I can’t wait for you to be able to go get your daughter! Praying the time flies by for you and your family.

  • Shauna - OH MY! OH MY! OH MY!
    When I was reading this I was feeling sad thinking about your little one with a shaved head and I totally know what you mean about lights in her eyes, cause I feel like that sometimes.
    But when I read that you are so very close within weeks. My heart skipped a beat..
    Good luck trying to keep focused over the next few weeks, I bet you’ll be checking the post 3 times a day.
    YAY!!!!!! Such an exciting bit of news!!!!

  • Natalie @ TheShadyAcre - I am so glad that end (beginning) is in sight! Your reader-friends can’t wait to see that precious one in your arms–but I know that’s nothing compared to the desire of your heart.

    P.S. I still need to make 2011 photo book for my son, too. :)

  • Jamie - Yay! That is so exciting! I love adoption updates.
    Also, I would love if you would consider a post sharing some of your family photo books, page layouts, etc. I just know yours turn out better than mine! Would love to steal some of your ideas!!

  • Amy Beachy - praying for your sweet baby girl. the light will come back to her eyes as she discovers how much she is loved!

  • Amanda - I can’t help, but think that the father looks upon us and waits to hold us. Just think how much more he enjoys going to get his sons and daughters. Hair or no hair she is going to look perfect in your arms! I can’t wait to see an image of that! You have a whole slew of people praying for you and anticipating the day your family all gets to be together.

  • Abby - I am getting so excited as your family gets closer to your travel date! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing journey on your blog. Your blog is my daily morning read, and I always leave here inspired! Thanks! (Love that picture of you and Emily and all your children! Fun!)

  • MixedMolly - Wow! It seems so close now. I am glad you mentioned your family photo book. I am going to try that myself this year after I saw your 2010 book.

  • Debbie G - What wonderful news! Makes me choked up and teary that at last the long wait has a light at the end of it. I can’t wait for your family to all be together and for your daughter to have light in her eyes. I’ve been praying for you and will continue. Thank you for the update!

  • Alice H - I can’t imagine how hard this wait is on you. And then seeing her picture/video and not being able to care for her. I bet it was a tough few days/weeks for you. Through it all, you always seem so positive though. And she will be so lucky once she is in your arms.

    That is so cool that you are in magazines!!

    Good luck with getting your book finished.

  • Jenni - Even when you do a semi regular post you have me hyperventilating crying! Lol. Ugh! I can’t wait to see that sweet girls face. I can’t believe the older two boys are going! Such a good mom and inspiration:)

  • Kelly - That last sentence gave me goosebumps! So excited for you!

    By the way, there is a free Lego Club magazine that’s actually a magazine. My boys like both but it’s nice to have more to share :)

  • tracy a - the time you have to hold your little one is shrinking!! so exciting to hear that now you have just a little wait left…compared to all that has happened, the time is so short! praying for that one week ta! blessings friend!

  • Freya - You’re such a strong mama!!!! Keep your head up. The world is just testing you and you’ll pass :)

  • Jenny - So sorry about your hard week, but so HAPPY about your good news this week!! :) SO EXCITING!!!
    Your sweet baby girl will be loved on very soon. :)

  • Dee - I am so happy for you and your family.We will all be counting the days till you have your sweet little baby in your arms.love dee

  • Crystal - I’m so excited for you! Yay!!! She will be here before you know it!

  • Susan - AA,
    What a fun day it must have been with all those children. Try to keep busy in these days you have left before travel time. I am praying for you to have a short wait, a safe flight over, a beautiful light shining in Song’s eyes when you hold her, and years of joyful times with Song and your entire family together. Godspeed.

  • Deanna - So excited that you are getting closer!! The journey to our little one in Ethiopia still feels like we have SO far to go as we are just finishing our homestudy. How fun that you got to meet Emily!

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - You and Emily are some of my favourite bloggers (and moms). So great to see all your kids together!

    Wonderful to hear things are progressing on the adoption front. To think, in less than two months, your daughter will be here! Not much longer to wait, with a lifetime of togetherness to follow.

  • Danielle - My heart aches to hear your heart aching through the words in your post. Then my heart nearing jumped out of my chest when I read about the beyond wonderful news about your paperwork & soon to be travel plans! SO SO SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO close now… hold on girl you found the wave & are about to ride it! SO THRILLED FOR YOU ALL!

  • Jess - I can’t imagine how thrilling and heartbreaking it must be to see new photos of your Little One. She’ll be in your arms soon! Praying for very very soon.

  • amber - Yes! So happy for you guys…especially you. And…I think we’ll all be relieved when she’s in your arms & you can start bonding & proving your love to your baby girl. My heart breaks for all of you. But what a glorious day it will be…thank the Lord!!

  • Stoich91 - Yes, ma’am! Icecream after shots is the only way to go! lol

  • RachelSD - Yay, so excited for you! This wait must be interminable, but it seems like you are making a plan and doing what you can! Wishing you lots of patience. :)

  • Amanda Villarreal - What drink are your boys enjoying? I have been looking for an option for my daughter but I don’t want her having coffee.

  • rebekah - Wonderful news! I think I get teary-eyed every time you give an update on Song. She will be in your arms so very soon!

  • Jamie - Yippie! In just a matter of days you will be getting your sweet sweet baby girl! I am seriously so excited for you!!!

  • Emily - Such a hard week – but with good news at the end, so yippie! Fingers crossed for a short wait and an easy trip there and back. Can’t wait to “meet” your daughter!

    I need to do photobooks. I’m hoping to make it a fall project….

  • Katie Thomassen - Oh my gosh! I just got a HUGE rush from reading this! Especially the last line. I AM SO EXCITED!!! Not that you aren’t, or anything….;-)

  • ssymens - Praying that these final steps of your journey are going to go quickly. And praying for peace for your heart. Hugs to you and your family.

  • Kathleen - I read you blog often, but only comment sometimes. I just wanted to say how much I love reading about your journey. I can’t imagine how hard it has been for you to wait for your new little one. My heart breaks for you, but at the same time it swells because you are soon going to be very blessed.

    You have inspired me to invest in a 5D Classic. I just love the colour it produces. You are an amazing photographer. It will be a fun step from my mid-level crop.

  • Emily @ Peck Life - I’m thinking of your family and hoping all goes FAST! I am soooooo giddy to see that picuture of you and Emily. I LOVE HER. You both are some of my favorite people. :)

  • Susan - oh my! I don’t know how you updated us on the cat and everything else and managed to contain yourself about THE UPDATE! :)

  • nicole @ deliajude - Between you and Emily, you guys have a baseball team!
    Peace to you in this journey of waiting for your daughter.

  • Ann - I LOVE the picture of you and your brave boys. So excited for all of you. It’s getting closer… !

  • Nicole Ridella - Hi Ashley,

    I have been quietly following your adoption story from the beginning and had to comment today – because your news that you are (most likely) less than two months from meeting your new daughter moved me to tears. I so look forward to reading the post you type while your new little one sits in your lap! Congratulations on clearing so many hurdles in this long journey!

  • Ingrid - I’m going to get my daughter – beautiful words <3

  • Becky M - Will Firecracker and Little One share a room? We have a little one on the way and my 1st born will be just 15 months. I have no idea how they will both fit in their room (and not keep each other awake).

  • Aubrey - I love that you two got to get together. As many have said you both are such inspiring mommas! You seem to be true to who God has made you to be. Not perfect, but chasing the one who is perfection. As a mother of 4 littles I find encouragement in the both of your blogs. So thanks! On another note…hang in there Ashley…character is being formed in you. You always gain right perspective.

  • Lauren - I’ve got goosebumps after the last update. I can’t wait for your daughter to be with you, and for your to be able to give her all the love she can handle! She’ll have a light in her eyes and joy in her heart in no time!

  • Alisa - My heart is souring with the knowledge you are so close to getting your daughter. I just cannot wait to see pics of this little girl in her new home being loved on.

  • Megan - God is good! I’m new to your blog and being in a family who has also adopted from China, I know the anticipation, frustration and emotional ups and downs that you and your family are going through. I can’t wait to follow you on your journey to China to bring home your Little One. Keep the Faith! God bless you!

  • Hannah - Agh! Praise the Lord! I have been praying for you sista! This is exciting stuff! Praying that it’s only a week and that that week goes by quickly!!!!

  • Claudia - Ashley, I like so many read your blog daily. I pray you get to travel as soon as possible. I am a mother to four and three of which are girls, I can imagine your heartbreak at seeing her with no light or hope in her eyes. I hope and pray when she sees you and the beautiful life you have waiting for her that her eyes will not only be bright but her soul rejoice.

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - I know you get this all the time, and I promise I’m not being creepy about it, but I have always dreamt of making up an excuse to drive through your neck of the woods (that would have to be some excuse cuz I’ve got none right now…) and get our fams together. How about this: You guys take a road trip down to NM, and I promise to feed you and be your tourguide! C’mon…. ;)

  • Taylor - I cannot tell you how happy I am for you!!! This long road is finally nearing an end, and starting a new beginning for your family! Many thoughts and prayers that she will be home asap :)

  • Tamara Romero - Oh my goodness!!! That is so very exciting for your sweet family! So happy for you!

  • Tina I. - Congrats!!! It’s so close, now!!! Just think, soon, you’ll be that light in her eyes that she’s missing. Praying that it all goes as quickly as possible for you.

  • Laura @Ms Smartie Pants - I hope the time just flies for you! I can’t wait to meet her (via your blog) and see the light in her eyes. By the way you won’t believe how many nights I have laid awake thinking of your daughter’s bedroom, I just love it! And now my daughter is going off to college and loves the room too and wants me to do some of the things you have done! Praying the days get easier as they get closer!

  • Brooke - I can’t say it any better than all of the other wonderful people who commented before me so I will just say….I am so happy for you and your family getting one step closer to your newest addition. Tears and smiles make for a great post :)

  • Jenny B. - OOHH!! I have goosebumps!!! So sorry for the week of setbacks and seeing those little sad photos… but you will be holding her in your arms soon!

  • sarah k - This makes my heart happy–that you get to go get your daughter soon. It must be so hard to wait to love on her in person. Thanks for sharing the journey here. That little girl is so blessed to be coming to your family.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - So happy for you! How cool is it that you will have a journey sharer with you so very close!

  • Margo - My heart is full knowing you are getting closer and closer to bringing your precious daughter home….I am so excited for you and your family! Thanks for sharing your journey of adoption with all of us blog readers!

  • Susannah - You are so close to getting your little girl! That is so exciting!!!! I’ll be praying that the paperwork gets where it needs to be and approved as quickly as possible!

  • emily anderson - honestly, it felt like i’ve known you for years. oh wait, i kind of have. in a creepy sorta way.

    but for reals. we’re stopping back by again on the way home :)

  • Nicole B - yay for getting close to TA! That’s awesome. I’m excited for you guys!

    We actually just added a new baby to our family through domestic adoption (and will add our 4th kiddo from China in a couple of years). I love finding people that are passionate about adoption and I cant wait to read about your experiences and see your pics (which i am sure will be awesome).

    Congrats again!

  • Amanda K - Do your boys get the Lego Club magazine too? My son is finally getting into his. Great marketing on Lego’s part. Free magazines that introduce your children to their products. I guess it’s not much different than the Martha Stewart magazine… ;)

    I can’t wait to read your post after your daughter is home. :)

  • giozi - August is in the corner, soon soon. Encouragement.
    My mother is great, no pain

  • Dawn Ritchie - Awesome. So happy for you and your family! July 24th is my 30th birthday, so it’s no surprise to me that it’s a special day for you, too!

  • Jules - Praying your TA comes swiftly and all falls into place!

  • Valerie - Although I do not know you or your family personally, only through blogdom, I am praying boldly for a swift process.
    Our eldest son is adopted from another country also, and every time I read about your adoption I get teary eyed because it brings that emotion right back. Take comfort in the fact that one day it will be a distant memory. Our adoption began when my son was 14 months and because of delays and red tape, we were not able to pick him up until he was 2 1/2 years old. I can not wait to hear when your baby is home and flourishing. Love really is a miraculous medicine.
    One piece of advice…research orphan doctors in your area that you can take your baby too. Regular pediatricians are not necessarily equipped to handle or know what to look for. My orphan doc specializes in different areas and specifically knew what to look for because of where he was from. It was amazingly thorough,though it was not covered by our insurance, it was money well spent.

  • Paige - ? Praying that this will all happen quickly!!! ?

  • Paige - whoops, the question marks decided to replace my hearts. :/

  • Jeanette - How exciting!! I pray 7/24 comes quickly for you! And the TA takes 1 week :)

  • Sandi Leonard - I have a nephew and his wife that just found out they are going to China soon to get their little girl. Good things happening.

  • Kara M - Thanks for the update on your daughter. Sorry for the discouraging week. I’ve been discouraged as well. We are soldiering through our training. Our next steps are just waiting on us to finish! This weekend I want to shut the world out and tell them I have other things more important, but can’t do that!

    I’m praying for 1 week TA!

  • Lacy Beck - Hi Ashley,
    I’ve just stumbled upon your blog after seeing the nursery in parents magazine. I LOVE the room and the bed and the paper lanterns and all the beautiful family treasures.
    We just downsized our living space so that I can take time away from teaching and stay home with our daughter. I really want to make her new room super special and the paper lanterns are just the thing to complete her space. I’ve tried finding out how to order them and to no avail.
    Please guide me as I’d love to duplicate the one you have in the magazine.
    Thank you for the inspirational blog. You seem to be a beautiful women of God.
    God bless,
    Lacy

  • Carolyn - SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!

  • Kayla - I thought of your boys when I saw this roundup (Houzz article) for Lego-inspired products… there are some really cute things on this list!

    http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2832771/list?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u134&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery29

  • AshleyAnn - Lacy Beck & Jenny – the lanterns and items are from Walmart 3 years ago…they used to carry a Martha Stewart line. Here is a post on it: http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2009/07/05/diy-hanging-lantern-arrangement/

    Amanda – they have a few options that are coffee-free…just ask your local barista :)

  • Elizabeth - YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The BIG day is getting CLOSER!!
    so excited for you, your lovely family, & especially for your sweet little girl!

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