Starting a new year…

Happy New Year!

I wanted to take a day to thank you all for reading this random blog and for all your incredible encouragement and support this year. I can’t really describe this past year adequately, so I am not going to try today! I am so humbled and grateful for all the hundreds of ways you have showed love to my family and excitement for us. Thank you!

In the past couple months I’ve been thinking a lot about 2013 and what I want this new year to look like for me personally and for my family. As I’ve considered the dreams I have for my family and myself, I’ve realized I need to take a little break. A mini-vacation, if you will. So, for the first time since I began this blog in 2008 – I’m going to take some time off. I’ll still be posting at least once a week, but I am not sure if I will be doing more than that in January. I have no idea what the next weeks will hold as Little One recovers, but I know I need put aside blogging everyday.  I’ll still be on Instagram (“underthesycamore”) and I’ll be back here in February, so I hope you’ll hang around until then.

A post is not nearly as fun without pictures. So how about a celebration of one incredible smile? I know I will adore her new smile, but I think we will all miss the original too. And since it is my blog, and I am her mom – today I’m going to re-post some favorites.

While we were waiting to bring her home, we only got a handful of pictures of her. Only one with a smile – this one photo. This one smile kept me going. It is funny to look at now. Back then I thought it was a big, cute smile. I had no idea that really it is only a half smile for her. (they shaved her head right after this photo, that is why her hair is shorter when we met her)

Day 1 together – again, I thought this was her big smile.

In those early days, we worked for smiles. She was so somber and serious. Every smile was like a priceless treasure that we held onto tightly and held our breath for the next one. She had every reason not to smile, and yet somehow she trusted us and began showing us her grins.

We saw her first big smiles when she met her big sister.

So, I know I said I won’t be posting everyday in January, but that starts next week.

This is a big week and I want to record it here….old habits die hard:)

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  • Eva Scott - Thank you for sharing these smiles with us. They are precious!

  • Sherry Eckblad - Oh I do LOVE little ones smile. It brightens my day so hope you continue to post at least once a week if not more often. Good Luck with the surgery will be praying for all of you.

  • Amber - So cute! Love the crinkled nose smiles!!!

  • Aneta Nina - oh my, Fire Cracker and Little One are so much a like! God had a wonderful plan when He decided that Little One would be part of your family! You can tell that your families love and God’s love conquers all of Little One’s fears and past!

    Praising God this morning!

  • Steph - Ok at first I said “Oh nooooo!!” out loud, not gonna lie. You are my favorite blog to read and look at (love the thoughts you share and your talent for pictures and the insanely charming nature of your kids) and you also happen to be extremely reliable and consistent, so that I know I can start every day with a boost of positive or thoughtful energy.

    That being said – good for you! Take whatever time you need and we will be here! I giggled and teared up scrolling through those smiles, and they deserve extra time and attention in the coming weeks. Lots of love, take care!

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - I love that you can see the progression of her smile. By next month, her smile will be just bursting from her face. Enjoy the break.

  • Jessica R - Good for you! Take the time you need. You’re my first stop each morning, but I’ll just start perusing your archives while you’re away :) (maybe a list of most popular posts before you go?).

    I hope you’ll still let us know how LO’s surgery goes. I know you’re anxious and I’d love to know that it’s over and successful. xoxo

  • Jen James - Thank you so much for sharing your story in such a loving and thoughtful way. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I love reading your updates and reflections about your family’s journey.

    Best of luck this month with the surgery and taking care of everyone–including yourself.

    I’ll look forward to hearing more when you’re ready.

    Take good care,
    Jen

  • Ashley - Such sweet picutres! they warm my heart seeing her big smile. Your family is such an inspiration! God is sosososooooo Awesome! Enjoy your time off :)

  • annie Baker - Wishing you the best in 2013, Ashley and family! I will be praying for Little One’s recovery and checking in to see how everyone is.

  • Brandy - I love how she scrunches up her nose when she smiles. She is absolutely gorgeous. I will definitely miss you in January. I don’t comment much, but I look forward to sitting down reading your blog every morning. I do, however, completely undertand your need for a break.

    I will be praying for little one and your family for a healthy and quick recovery.

  • Karen Ledgerwood - That last picture is the most beautiful you’ve ever published. I love that Little One is now sporting the Wonder Woman tee.

  • Anne-Scarlett M. - I love the little dolphin fin crinkle her nose makes when she’s really smiling. What a love!

  • Kimberly Troth - LOVE her big smile!! Will miss reading daily but totally understand. Praying for Little One, you, your family & all the medical staff helping her out.

  • emmybrown - while I will certainly miss your daily posts, I think it’s wonderful and valuable to take a break! I know when I take a break, I’m left refreshed and inspired anew. May it be the same for you!

  • Kerry - =D

    You’re setting a good example for all of us by keeping the main things the main things.
    Prayers & hugs to you all for the newest phase of your family journey!

  • Robyn - I will miss your daily posts. So uplifting and real and encouraging. I love that you embrace life! Enjoy your time away from blogging and take care of yourself and your family! Hugs to you!

  • TLL - I look forward to reading your blog every morning. Enjoy your time away. Your family will be in our thoughts, thanks for sharing them with us.

  • Jenny L. - I wouldn’t expect anything less of you when it comes to your family. That is what I like most about you – your dedication to your family. Good luck with little one’s surgery. See you in February!

  • Jane - Love that smile! The crinkled up nose make it all the more adorable!! Good luck with everything. I am sure her smile will be just as beautiful on the other side of surgery. It’s whats inside that counts, right!? Looking forward to the updates, but enjoy your break.

  • Lennie - That bathtub pic is my absolute favorite!!! So sweet. Good luck this week!

  • Brandi - Oh thank you for starting my year off right! Love her smiles! We will miss you dearly, but we understand how important this time is for you and your family. Prayers for a smooth surgery and a speedy recovery. You got this!!!! (PS – It’ll be hard for me to stop checking here first thing every morning. So I think I will continue and reminisce!)

  • Erin C. - Love the picture of her with youngest/big brother! Tears reading this! Praying for your family during Little One’s surgery and recovery. I don’t comment often, but am always excited to read your posts. Will miss reading about your family every day, but understand. Looking forward to hearing about Little One and surgery, my husband and I are hoping to start the adoption process in about a year from China and cl/cp is where I feel The Lord is leading us. You’re paving the way!

  • Angie B - Best of luck with everything. I sure will miss your daily posts!!

  • amy - praying hte surgery goes well and that she heals quickly!!! i can’t wait to see her post surgery! not sure how i feel about your break! as soon as i get the kids on the bus i sit down with my tea and read your blog!

  • Amanda Torres - Good for you! Enjoy the time off. Praying for you all during the surgery and recovery days.

  • Tonya Bryant - You sooooooooo deserve a break! I think you should just post pictures like those all them time. They are a joy to look at!

  • Kara M - Love her smile, especially when she scrunches her nose!! (love the wonder woman shirt!)

  • Amy at Fig Milkshakes - The one where she is wearing the right dress and the blue and red bowtie is where it’s at!

    Have a great “vacation”, Ashley!

  • Amanda - A well deserved break! Although, like everyone else, I’ll have a hard time breaking my habit of checking in every morning. Luckily there’s still instagram to keep up with all of those wonderful smiles! Prayers to Little One and your family for the coming weeks! (PS – I can’t get enough of those little wrinkles in her nose when she is smiling that really big smile!)

  • Ellie - I will miss your posts this month, they always make my day! But you need a break! I don’t know how you do it with 5 kids/7 mouths/and 1 in diapers! You are wonder woman!

    Also, looking through the pictures, the smile becomes bigger and (if you will) more real. More shine. The little one gets bigger and more beautiful everyday! she must smother you all in hugs and smiles!
    You have your work cut out for you with your little one; that little toungh that peeps out at ‘no’ is so sweet. she get more more silly everyday. lately you have posted about her love of the trampoline, her toungh when ‘no’, diaper wiping, and of course her super big smiles!
    Until february tata! make sure you keep us posted on the surgury! xoxo

  • melanie - God’s speed through the surgery & recovery!! For both you and your daughter. How remarkable to look back on pictures of your time with her…wow!! So great. Thanks for sharing her joy!!

  • Audrey Nielsen - Your blog is one of my favorite ones in blog land. But good for you for taking some time off to help Little One heal. Prayers to you and your family and the doctors on Friday!!

  • Lisa M. - Thank you so much, Ashley, for sharing this journey. It has been an awesome experience and I truly look forward to reading your blog everyday. You have become a source of inspiration to me. This blog brings calmness to me and a sense of me being able to conquer whatever is challenging me. Thank you so much for your gentle words, honesty and kindness.
    Even tho I look forward to checking in with you everyday, a much needed break for you indeed!!
    I wish the best for Little One and her surgery and I will be praying for her and you! Cannot wait to see her new smile!
    Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful new year!

  • Heather - The scrunchy-nosed smiles are my favorites. I’m thrilled that you’re taking some time off, though I will miss hearing your thoughts on life. Enjoy a break this January. I’ll be praying for you all this week!

  • Brooke - Ashley! I have LOVED following you and your family. It’s so nice to come here and see these beautiful smiles. There is so much sad/bad news in the world that these little smiles brighten my day. Not to mention your photos are so gorgeous.

    I know you’re torn about saying good bye to Little One’s smile but you’re going to get to say hello to a whole new one soon. I’ll be praying for Little One and you as well. She’s going to do so great and the love you and the rest of your family give her makes that true.

    You inspire me, I suspect you have no idea how many people you make an impact on through this blog.
    Thank you.

    xo
    Brooke

  • Leah B - Little One’s smiles are PURE J.O.Y.!! We will miss you, but as a mommy myself, completely understand your need for a break.

  • sarah j - we will miss hearing your sweet and thoughtful voice every day, but it’s so wise and good to set aside intentional time to be with your daughter during this healing process. i look forward to your weekly updates until february!

    xo

  • Miriam - Hi Ashley Ann,

    I’ve come across your blog for the first time on Wednesday, three weeks ago. I live far away, in a different world, in so many aspects, and yet I found so much inspiration in you and in the journey you had with your little gorgeous girl. I will even go on saying that something about it changed my life (and I’m not so easily inspired these days… :-() I want to thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. I will be thinking about you, as I did since I met you and your beautiful family.

    Miriam

  • Suzelle - precious :) Love the way her nose wrinkles when she smiles big !!! Both of your girls are absolute dollies……

  • Kathy - Family first and blogging second. A good move particularly with the surgery coming up. Love her smiles what a change her life has taken and how her future will be. truely amazing. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  • Kristin S - So, so, so wise.

  • Julie Thacker - Your blog posts are so inspirational to be that I’ll gladly wait. In the meantime you, your family and especially little one will be in my prayers.

  • emily - She is so beautiful! Praying for a quick recovery for Little One! Take as much time as you all need, I’ ll still love to read when you get back. Your blog has taught me so much about photography and I’ m so thankful!

  • sarah k - Beautiful smiles! I will be thinking of Little One, and her mommy, as surgery approaches. I hope you have a good, peaceful, productive break and I’ll certainly still be here when you come back. Yours is always the first blog I check every day (I have myself blocked from Google Reader during the day to protect my time but I check yours directly) because it is inspiring, encouraging, and re-centering on the kinds of things I want to focus on.

    Happy New Year and all the best to Little One in her new medical adventure!

  • Jessica Engel - Your daughter has a beautiful smile indeed… she will be in our prayers this week and beyond. I can only imagine how hard this will be for all of you to go through, but God will bring you through and even stronger, as you know.

    God bless and Happy New Year!

  • Sophi Belle - All your children have wonderful smiles.
    Will be praying for Little One!! <3

  • jenny - oh, that smile is so precious and contagious! :)
    Enjoy your break with your family and I, for one, will definitely hang around. I love your blog!

  • Laura J. - Great decision. I will miss reading about your family and thoughts, but we will be here thinking about you and hoping Little One’s surgery goes well. She will need everything you can give her. Thank you for sharing your life! Come back only when it is right for everyone in your crew.

  • Amy K. - I needed those smiles today! Thank you!!

  • Kimberly Oyler - is it okay that I cried a little knowing I won’t be reading your sweet words every day? like actual tears are coming out of my eyes. Reading your blog is always like having a conversation with you, so I’m going to miss “listening” to you!

    Treasure this sweet time with your family. I can’t wait to see little one’s cute new smile.

  • Gina - Precious pictures!! Know that you are covered in thoughts and prayers as you have little one’s surgery!!!

  • Arlene - I will miss not “hearing” from you each day, but will use the time I normally spend reading your blog to pray for Little One’s recovery and for God’s peace to flood you and your family as she heals.

  • amber - Trapped at home with a sick kid today, supposed to be having one last day with sister’s family before they leave to go far away home, & my attitude is not so great. My husband went back to work today after his many days off for Christmas. My attitude is really not great. But this post…it made me smile so big. Can’t handle all her cuteness! Hoping your week is super smooth & easy! Thanks for sharing your sweet family with us. It’s a very special thing God’s done with your blog:).

  • Sarah - I have been a “silent” reader of your post for the last few months. We are adopting a little boy from China with a repaired cleft lip and unrepaired palate. We are “patiently” waiting for our TA right now. I’ve read every word of each of your adoption and travelling posts. I have learned so much from you and been encouraged greatly. So I wanted to say thank you. And I wanted to see if you had any tips that would be helpful to me in knowing how to feed our little boy. I’m feeling pretty unsure about that. I also wanted to see if you could tell me how to get to the washi tape in Gaungzhou. :) I’ve done many of your crafty ideas in the last couple months as well. And I love them! :) So thank you again! May God richly bless your time off!

  • Amanda Villarreal - She is absolutely precious! I love how the growth of her smile shows the growth of her trust with her loving family. Very touching!

  • Monica - Thank you for sharing these precious moments.

    I understand that you will not have time to do blogging everyday. But I will continue looking to expect some news from you , your family and the little one. :)
    I wish you the best and a soon recovery after the surgery. Of course you will miss that smile but for sure she will show you the same light when she smile with the new one. :)
    Hugs for you and your family
    God bless you! All the pictures and moments are wonderful Thanks again for sharing. See you around soon!

  • Anna Joy - Tears. Her life with her family is so joyful to see through her smiles. What an incredible journey so far!

  • Lauren - The photos with her nose all scrunched and the smile makes its way into her eyes— oooh, those make me smile from ear to ear too… best wishes for all of you! I will be praying for you!

  • Jen - Best of luck on the surgery. I hope that everything goes well for you, your family and your sweet little girl. My son was born with (just) a cleft lip, so I understand a little of the emotions you are feeling right now. You have captured her sweet smile perfectly! We missed our son’s little smile post surgery too. It’s hard to imagine them without their sweet little clefts. Good luck with all the growing, feeding and healing that are to come.

  • Laura Clements - I’ll miss reading your posts, your blog is the only one I read on a regular basis : )
    Wishing you a well deserved break-but please let us know when Little One comes through her surgery, and how she is doing. Thanks, Laura

  • Lynn - Oh, all the beautiful smiles……thank you for sharing each one one of them!! I hope surgery goes well and will be thinking of all of you. Will miss the daily posts but you deserve as much time as you need to be with your precious family !!
    Take care !!

  • Sarah - Praying surgery and recovery goes well! Little One and her smiles just make my heart melt. She is so sweet. I love your blog and photos, but totally understand the need for a break! Best wishes for you all!

  • Katy@TheOpenDoor - Thank you for sharing these show-stopping smiles! What a beauty! Good luck to your family this month. I will be thinking of Little One and you all and hoping for a speedy recovery!

  • Angela - The joy in those photos take my breath away – Little One knows she is loved and cherished. She will always have those soulful eyes and those super cute nose crinkles. Her smile is beautiful now and forever.

  • Carol Paxman - Oh how I love little one’s smile, especially when her nose is all squinched up, so precious. I’ve been following your blog for a while, mostly lurking, since long before your paperwork was finished to bring little one home. Your family makes me smile, thanks for sharing your days with us. I will miss your daily posts but understand the need for time off. Prayers for a quick and easy surgery and a recovery so fast that little one’s smile never falters.

  • Marsha - Her beautiful spirit is going to shine through no matter what her precious smile looks like! Praying you all through this surgery and beyond.

  • Sara - First I want to say thank YOU for writing this blog. Following you on your journey this past year has been such a blessing, I cannot even describe. I have learned so much through you and your children about grace, compassion and joy. We will also miss Little One’s smiles, even my children adore her, but we trust the good Lord to gently see her through this surgery. We will be praying. And my goodness…is that Firecracker’s Wonder Woman shirt making an appearance on Little One?! That brought such a smile to my face!!!

    Enjoy your break from blogging. We will miss you but one of the reasons we all love your blog so much is because you do make decisions like this, putting your family’s best first. Thank you for all you invest here with us. Blessed be.

  • Miranda Hazeveld - We love her smile. We hope that everything go well for little one. And her recovery will be good after surgery. We are looking for her new smile.

  • Christine - I love that I found your blog. Your heart inspires me and your kids are a delight. I will be praying for your family during this time.

  • Meagan B. - So, I just found this blog a few weeks ago but have read all the way from before firecracker turned one till now. And oh man were there a lot of tears… And laughter… And prayer. I will miss you this month as I feel I know you like an old friend now but will continue to pray for you, your husband, little one, and all of your babies. Thank you for baring even a little bit of yourself here, it is inspiring and has reawakened in me my desire to be involved in foster care. So while I am praying for you I will also be praying for my journey and all the little ones that I may get to meet some day. Thank you again!

  • RachaelB - Your blogs is the first I read every morning. I love the way you parent your children and your outlook on life. I totally understand the break and it’s well deserved. I hope you come back refreshed! God bless you and your family!

  • Erica - Best of Luck in this New Year! I check your blog each day as a reminder to love and enjoy the chaos of life with little ones and I am so thankful for you just being real! You are a blessing to many! Enjoy your “mini-vacation” and our prayers are with your family through these next weeks. Anxious to see little ones new smile!

  • Laree @ Ever Heard Of Euless - That squished up nose is just adorable! And on the plus side, at least that part of her cute smile won’t change after surgery!

  • heather - those last four pics kill me.
    so.much.joy!

  • rebekah - Thank YOU, Ashley, for sharing your story and inspiring me every day. I read you every morning, and it’s such a calming and joyful way to start my day. I will miss it, but good for you for taking a break! I’ll be sending lots of love to you and Little One.
    P.S. Firecracker’s shirt on Little One is too cute. LOVE it.

  • Alamama - Good for you! You will love your time away from blogging! Though you will be missed I know you are making the right decision. Will be praying for Little One and her surgery. Looking forward to the new and refreshed blog posts come Feb!

  • Darcie - That huge smile… all I can say is she is one lucky lucky girl. I bet she’s never smiled so big in all her life, than when she joined your family. Any smile she has (pre or post) will be sweet!

  • Honeybee Mama - omigoodness, closed eyed squinchy nosed is my favorite!

  • nicoline bingham - I have never commented and have wanted to so often. Your words and pictures have become such a part of my daily life, that it is weird that I ‘know’ you and you not me. We have also adopted one of our children, and have so enjoyed reading about her and your journey. I LOVE the pics of her when she is smiling so hard that her nose crinkles….be still my heart. Much love to you all, especially your sweet little one, as you go through this challenging time.

    Blessing to you from British Columbia, Canada :)
    Nicoline

  • Laura - As much as I love stopping by to read your latest posts, family is (of course!) far more important. Good luck, and I look forward to seeing updates from time to time. ~L

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - Oh my goodness, you are human! You need breaks too! Of course, you know I’m kidding, but I even felt a little relieved FOR you when I read that you were going to be taking a break in January! Sister, not only do you need it, but your family deserves it. Love that big ole smile of hers and can’t wait to see more!

  • Jen Mac - Many blessings to you and your family going forward on this journey. Happy healing thoughts being sent your way.

  • katherine - Beautiful. I will miss her smile, too! I’ve loved watching it get bigger and bigger. Enjoy your break!

  • Deb C - Thank you for sharing your amazing year with us! I will really miss reading this blog every morning. Praying for Little One’s surgery.

  • Alison - Enjoy your vacation, AshleyAnn! I’m rooting for a speedy recovery and a sweet smile for y’all soon.

  • Jenny - I love how she gets that little v in her nose when she is really smiling. My 1 year old daughter has a dimple on her upper cheek when she smiles. She just got glasses so we can’t see it very well anymore and it makes me so sad. I bet Little One will have the v on her nose still after her surgery. There will be just that little hint of her old smile left for you to remember.

  • Liberty - Well I’ll definitely miss reading your daily posts, but I’m so glad for you to have this extra time with your family. I’ll be praying for you over the next few weeks and especially for Little One.

  • Kendra - They way she scrunches up her nose when she smiles hard is OH SO ADORABLE!! I will be lifting you & your family up in prayer this week and they days to follow!!

  • Emily - Thank you for sharing your randomness with us. I feel blessed to virtually know you. Enjoy your break, and know that you’ll be in my thoughts this month. Much love to your whole clan!

  • Carrie - Thinking of you and your little one this week and sending LOTS of encouragement your way! I’ll still be here whenever you resume normal blogging and am looking forward to updates on her progress!!!

  • amy jupin - my goodness ash, i love her.
    i just absolutely love her.
    p.s. i know i’m late but thank you so much for your card and my gift. i didn’t have it already but wanted it badly. now it has a special place in my home. thank you! xoxoxoxooxox.

  • Amanda - That smile could move mountains!

  • Aubrey - Just now that you will be missed, but loved just the same. I’m already looking forward to those once a week posts! You never fail to encourage right perspective in all of us.

  • Irma - All the best in 2013 for you and your family!

  • Layla - Wishing you a peaceful break, Ashley. I’ll still visit here daily because, whether you put up a new post or not, it’s such a fun place to be. :-)

  • amy cornwell - Enjoy your break with your sweet family! Praying that Little One’s surgery goes well and that her recovery is quick. Can’t wait to hear an update whenever you’re able!

  • Alicia Johnson - I’ve become pretty attached to your family and your story. Yours is the only blog I read consistently. I’ll miss your updates. You’re such an inspiring mother and photographer. I always gain something from your posts. I respect your decision to take some family time, but I will selfishly miss your updates. Best of luck to you in coming weeks. Prayers for you and your Little One!

  • Tammy C. - Oh man, the smiles just got bigger and bigger! It’s great that you are taking time away, although we will miss you and we’ll be right here when you get back!

    The crinkle nose smiles are so great!!

  • Vanessa - Those smiles are priceless! Thank you so very much for sharing your story on a daily basis. You’ll be missed! I’ll be praying for your rest and recovery.

  • joelle - Love it!!! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Little One and your families adventures. :)

  • kelley - Totally respect and understand your need for the break… selfishly am sad… but will use the time I normally spend reading your blog to pray for you, Chris, and Little One and the rest of the kiddos as she goes through surgery and recovery. PLEASE keep us up to date on the surgery!! Would love to be praying specifically while she is actually in surgery!

  • Hillary - Ashley…what a precious family and story you have! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us! You are such a blessing and I will definitely be here in February. Praying for you, the family, and little one in the upcoming weeks.

  • Elizabeth - Enjoy your break! I understand.

    I wanted to say that you described our daughter to a T with the smile thing. We recently got home from China with our 4th little girl (about 3 months ago) and we thought we saw her smile….but we didn’t really see her smile until she met her 3 sisters.

  • Chris - It’s amazing to see her smile get bigger and brighter in each picture!!!

  • jami - good.for.you.

  • Lyn - You will be missed. You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers. I will be very excited to see little one’s new smile. Thank you for taking us on your journey.

  • karen - Ashley…take all the time off you need!! I hope all the best for Little One on friday and the days to come. God bless her and your family.

  • Shannon - She has such a beautiful smile – I know she (and the rest of your family) will be so happy to have lots of pictures to look back at after her surgeries.

    As a mommy who has had to send her own little one in to major surgery, I know how scary it can be – will be keeping you both in my prayers.

  • Jacci in Ohio - Oh, Ashley! What a joy she is. What an absolute joy :)

    Praying for REALZ… for her, for the doctors, for you, for Firecracker, for Christ, for the boys. Praying. And thinking of you all often over here.

  • Laurel - Ashley, thank you for allowing me to have a little glimpse into your life. I LOVE it when I am able to get away from my day and read your adventures. Enjoy your mini break it is well deserved!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - You will be missed, but you will be so very loved and prayed for. Please let us know if there is anything you need!

    We’ll be here when you return.

    Hugs dear friend.

  • merideth a - i love your girls together!! they were meant to be!!

  • Jenny - I always look forward to reading your blog but this is the first time I’ve posted. You are an inspiration as a Mom, Humanitarian, and Crafter! Your kids lovely and Little One will remain in my prayers during this next stage! Her smiles are contagious.

    Thank you for you blog Ashley!

  • Eva - I just love these! My favorite is the one in the tub when Little One is throwing her head back in a fit of laughter. I love it!

    I think it’s great that you’ll be taking some time away from blogging to refocus. I honestly don’t know how you ladies do it that blog every day. I’d be wiped! lol. Anyway, I’ll be sticking around as long as you’re here. :) Lots of prayers for Little One and the rest of ya!

  • Jenny B. - Oh, you can really see it in her eyes! Such big smiles. So precious. I’ll miss reading your blog every day, but that will make the posts you do write all the more special. :)

  • dawn - oh, those scrunchy little nose snaps say so much! adorable!

  • lindsey - most.beautiful.smile.ever.

  • Peggy Garcia - You are a blessing. She will smile a new, fantastic smile. Your family is in our thoughts.

    “I think she’s going to feel nice.” Anthony Ray Garcia, lil dude who had a cleft repair.

  • emily anderson - i can’t handle the scrunchiness of her nose when her smile is so big.

    love that precious girl!

  • Susannah - I’ll miss your posts in January but I’m so glad you’re able to take time focusing on Little One’s recovery. :-)

  • Natalie - She is absolutely darling! Your family has touched my heart. My prayers go out to sweet little one during this hard time, bless the surgeons hands, and ease your worry heart. Hugs to you and her and the rest of your family! I will miss reading but totally get it! My blog has been sitting for almost a year! ;)

  • stephanie - YOU ARE KILLING ME WITH THESE PHOTOS!!!!!!
    i am going to be so sad and so happy when she gets her surgeries done. my heart will be with you as you go through those hurdles and changes.

    my favourites are the bathtub one and the second to last sneaky smile with the scrunchy nose.

    xoxoxoxoxo

  • Clare Reid - Oh gosh, she is just so adorable!

    I totally understand your decision but boy, will I miss you! Yours is the blog Im looking for each morning as I open my emails. It cheers my day so.

    God bless you and I’ll be praying for a speedy recovery from Little ones surgery.

    Looking forward to seeing your news come February.

    love and hugs,

    Clare. (Mum of 5)

  • Sadee Schilling - Oh my goodness, that last photo!!! Too precious for words. We will be praying for Little One and your whole family this week, for the wisdom and strength of her doctors too. Oh, your family is just so special! Sending lots of love your way and wishing you a wonderful time of rest–I can’t believe you haven’t taken a break in four years?!! Amazing.

  • Ali - She’s incredibly beautiful. I love her wrinkled up nose when she smiles really big. Good luck on the upcoming surgery.

  • Janine - I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. Oh my word, I’m going to miss your daily posts! I felt like this the day my dearest and closest friend moved to the USA (that was 10 years ago) and then again when my other dearest and closest friend (that I met 5 years ago) left to live in Canada (that was 3 years ago)…. I live in South Africa, so they are far far away…. :o)
    As this has been a very emosional challenging year for me, I loved reading about your wonderful family and dared to start dreaming big again.
    You deserve the break and I will keep your family in my prayers and will keep on checking for updates on Little One and her big operation. God bless you for the joy and love you give to so many other people by living an example.

  • Kimberly Dial - Those smiles made me smile. Thank you. :)

  • Anja - I’ll be missing you like crazy (cause this is my absolute favorite blog and I barely read others), but you really deserve this mini-vacation! I’ve wondered how you could keep writing so continually for all the past years ?. Of course I will be looking for coming here at least once a week. All my love for you and your fantastic family! It will be hard to keep sanity and to find a little peace of mind without you ?, so please don’t stop writing forever.

  • Kelli - Good decision Ashley! Praying for you all this month.

  • Cerise - I just love how she scrunches up her nose. I can almost hear the giggles. It is amazing how you can just look at a picture and know how happy a child is and how loved. I hope her upcoming surgery goes well!

  • Nancy WWB - I had to laugh through tears at your pictures I LOVE the one where her nose is crinkled up with a huge smile! Will pray for you all for your surgery and your healing! I am a grandma awaiting for my daughter and her family to get the “word” that they have a Bulgarian Baby Boy!

  • Gem - Beyond beautiful. xo

  • Bridgett - This post brings my heart so much joy and your little girl brought me to tears with that perfectly contagious smile! Thankyou for sharing these photos with us! How blessed you all are! God bless you, Ashley!

  • Rhiannon - While I will definitely miss your daily blogs, I am so proud of you for making the decision that is best for you and for your family!

  • Paige - Love love love the last pic with the sisters. And the hats. And the Wonder Woman t-shirt that is a treasured hand-me-down, I am sure! Praying for tomorrow, of course, and praying for strength, resolution, and peace to get through today. All part of this great journey that God is already standing at the end of. He chose such a wonderful family for this special Little One!
    Paige

  • Allie - Love that crinkley nose! Good for you for doing what is best for your family. And thanks for not cutting us addicts off cold turkey :)

  • tracy - Thinking about you and your sweet little girl today. I hope that everything goes smoothly. Glad that you are taking time off to take care of her but I do hope that we get some sort of notice that everything went fine. Wishing you all a quick recovery.

  • Nina - I am looking forward to see the new smile and the whole family again.

    Warm greetings all over the way from Germany to you

    Nina

  • Lelani - I LOVE your blog; it is honest & beautiful in its photographs & journaling. I have shared many of your lovely DIY projects with my children; thank you! We have been following your incredible journey with Little One & particularly enjoy seeing her bright, beautiful spirit shine through in your photos :)
    Thank you for your blog & for sharing your life & loves- the ripple effect is tangible & we are thankful xx blessings our little London family to yours xx

  • elizabeth H - Little One truly has come such a long way!
    I love how you can see from the pictures how her soul is opening up ~ like a flower ~ she *IS* blossoming!!
    BEAUTIFUL!!

  • katie phillips - what a beautiful girl with a beautiful story and an absolutly beautiful smile. I love how they progressively get bigger-:D

  • brooke - This post made me cryyy!! Her sweetheart smile just makes me smile. The Lord is so good to give you such a beautiful gift. Her smile is GORGEOUS here, and is GORGEOUS now….I think I would feel very bittersweet too. She is perfect!

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