I’m trying my hardest to be positive and make it to spring, but goodness I am not cut out for the winter. I really have no idea how most of you do it…feet of snow and constant below freezing temperatures. You are made of tough stuff. Tough stuff.

The kids are stir crazy.

I carry a space heater from room to room with me.

Each year I think we should invest in better winter gear, but then the season ends.

Hoping spring arrives soon.

3.15snow-023.15snow-01I asked my dog how she feels about winter….3.15snow-063.15snow-073.15snow-08Jokes aside, that is how Arley acts when I try to take her picture. She will look at my camera and then turn around…she also wedges herself between me and the space heater. She has not learned how our home works…I get the space heater and we take pictures of faces not booties.

The kids have been playing outside some. Soccer in the snow, we are ready for spring. I am also ready for camping again. I sure miss being in that trailer!

70-200mm ISO 100, 1/2000, f/2.83.15snow-05On the bright side, for about 30 minutes one day she decided she liked the cold and the snow….

70-200mm ISO 100, 1/1250, f/2.83.15snow-0370-200mm ISO 100, 1/1250, f/2.83.15snow-04I’m thankful seasons change. Seasons in nature. Seasons in life. Change is good!

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  • B. - What lens did you use for the first 2 photos?

  • danielle - I think it helps a lot if you live in a place with winter activities. When my family goes to MN we always like to do some winter hiking, snowshoeing, and have even tried cross country skiing! We have a steep enough hill at our house that my boys have enjoyed sledding with the little bit of snow we have been getting. I could never understand you summer people :)

  • Michele - I can feel your pain. I keep saying to myself that March is in like a lion out like a lamb. Daylight savings time is this weekend and the first day of spring is on the 21st. Winter will be pushed out soon. Time to plan the garden because it will be here before you know it! Just a little longer, we made it this far!

  • AnnMarie - I live in Utah, and this winter is a bit surreal for us — yesterday marked our first good snowfall (aka enough snow fell to stay on the ground overnight) since Christmas (which was the first snowfall of the whole season)! Until this week, the weather has been downright springlike since the end of January, which is extremely discomfiting when you’re used to perpetual snow from October to March. It’s hard to believe that the eastern half of the nation is experiencing its coldest winter in years when we’re experiencing our warmest.

  • Debbie - Here in Houston we have had more cloudy days than sunny days in months along with really cold weather. This morning it is 72 degrees and balmy. It is supposed to get down to 36 degrees sometime tonight. I am so ready for sunny days….even if it’s hot. :)

  • Julie - I’m done with winter the first of January. I power through the months until March and then I’m completely over it. As much as I don’t like the cold and winter, spring is my least favorite season. I feel like it’s a complete tease – just when you think it’s going to warm up BAMB it snows again. Thank God (literally!) for Easter. Just when I’m about to lose all hope from the elements, and I’m personally at my ugliest point with the children from being cooped up, here comes the good news. In the meantime, back to fighting the weather (we’re in Nashville and just survived the ice-pocalypse.)

  • Krystina - I used to volunteer at an animal shelter taking photos of very “anti-camera” dogs. The best thing I learned was making high pitch squealing sounds. Basically any funny sound will tend to work. Suddenly they want to know what’s going on over in your direction. I’d say it works on most dogs…except for mine…who has learned my ways and just ignores my noises.

  • Elisabeth - I live in upstate New York. Although I generally love winter, this winter has been tough- we’re beyond ready for spring! Today is the first day in almost 2-3 months the temperatures have risen above freezing- 30 degrees now feels like summer weather to us (especially after the weeks and weeks of below zero temperatures). We’ll be praying for spring right along with you!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Skiing, winter sports, that’s how I get through the winter. I was born in Northern Vermont and live in Northern New York now. This has been a great snow year, so a great winter to ski. I love digging snow tunnels, building snowmen and sledding with the kids. Teaching them to ski has been another story. But each step is a step forward. But anyway, we are a winter loving family! The only thing I don’t like is rain in the winter. It’s just wrong.

  • Kelly - I had to laugh at your comment about cold weather gear :) We live in Minnesota and my husband goes all winter without even wearing a coat. Granted he isn’t working outside, but he is content with a sweater and his hands in his pants pockets.

  • Necole@seriouslysassymama - Oh my goodness if we do not have some sunshine soon, I will surely lose my stuff! I cannot wait for camping. We camp in a tent, not a trailer, but it is still perfect. The best part is we have camp grounds 5 minutes from our house! Hopefully this time change will bring color and warmth, so i can put away my parka. This is Texas for goodness sakes.

  • Jill O'Grady - Ashley Ann,
    I’m a long time reader, first time poster. I just wanted to take a minute to say that your blog sings to me. You are a beautiful mother, wife, friend and person who very clearly cherishes each and every moment of life. I’m a mother of 1 toddler and a full time worker who regularly finds herself going through ‘the routine’ each weekday. When I get the chance to sit and have a quiet moment for myself, I read your blog. Every time, it reminds me to never take a moment for granted and to get out there and enjoy life with my young family. Thank you for sharing elements of your world with us. I’m off to make the most of the weekend with my son and husband! Jill xx

There are moments in life that surprise me. Stop me in my tracks. Take my breath away.

I am a purger more than a hoarder. Constantly purging. I do have a handful of clothing items I’ve saved that the kids have out grown. My youngest daughter has a couple of 6-12 month shirts that I continually hide and she continually finds. Yesterday she came downstairs sporting one I had hidden on a high back shelf the day before. I still have no idea how she found it or reached it.

She’s overcome some extraordinary sensory issues related to her hands. In day to day, life I often don’t recognize just how far she has come. Yesterday I looked across the table at her with her hands covered in shaving cream and her 6-12 month shirt on…and I thought about when we were in China together. She sported the same shirt, but stared at her hands instead of touching things.

It took my breath away. The beauty of the everyday. The simple things…shaving cream and shirts that are too small. This is the good stuff in life.
3.15shavingcream-013.15shavingcream-103.15shavingcream-023.15shavingcream-033.15shavingcream-04My oldest has a birthday this week. Instead of playing with shaving cream, he was focused on finishing his school work. Focused and driven…and getting old on me.3.15shavingcream-053.15shavingcream-063.15shavingcream-073.15shavingcream-083.15shavingcream-09Some of you have asked about how speech is going. She’ll have a long road in regards to speech as a result of her cleft lip and palate. However, she has been making huge strides lately. Six months ago she was putting a few words together. Now she is having full conversations. Not all her words are clear, but when we don’t understand she just says them louder (like when people are speaking two different languages:))We’ve always known God gave her an extra dose of spunk, but now that her words have caught up with her thoughts -whoa baby are we seeing that spunk. Sassy in a good way. Spunk in a fun way. She keeps us on our toes, surprises us every day and brings us lots of laughter.

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  • Tracy R. - Amazing! This makes my heart SO happy! And this makes the start of my day a happy one! Thank you for sharing!

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - Ashley, I’m always grateful when you remind me to have fun with my kids, the hardest for me, messy fun! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Tanya - This is a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Mandy Jones - I cried as I read your words this morning. I have followed Little One’s journey and felt like a part of it through the beautiful gift of your thoughts as you have shared them with us, your readers. Her happiness shines bright through every pore of her skin, the twinkle in her eye, and every dimple in her cheeks. Every single milestone she has reached and then left in the dust of her trail of determination is a result of not just her own “spunk and sass” but the abundance of love and guidance that you and your family so selflessly give her. As the aunt of a (now 21 year old!) individual with a rare syndrome, I know first hand how easy it is to get lost in the day to day life and over look those milestone moments from time to time. But, God has a way of making us slow down and notice them just when it’s needed most, doesn’t he?

    Thank you for this blog, for your thoughts, for sharing your love of photography and your love for your family and God and crafting and all things silly and random like the Fresh Prince rap, with an entire legion of “followers” who are mostly “strangers” to you. You are a gift and inspiration in my life, as well as the lives of many others.

  • Christi Smith - Amazing!!

  • Amy D - What sweet sensory and speech victories! Huge!!! Our little one joined our family the day after your Little One did… And our little one still runs for sensory play like this. Any tips for how you helped her to feel more comfort with sensory activities?

  • Natalie - Such a great thing! Go girl go!!

  • Birdy - She shows us all the beauty in life… she had a hard start, but now she is the most happiest girl on earth! I guess, she will find a way to express herself – thanks to her family!

    Love from Germany and the fatcatconnection
    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de

  • angie - goodness gracious is she cute.

  • Jenni - I have been reading your blog for years and I remember that day:). Sometimes I think about your case worker and I wonder if she comes and visits your blog on days that maybe aren’t that great as a reminder of placements that make her heart soar.:). Every time I read one of your posts I’m so grateful that you have let all of us come on this journey with you:).

  • Lindsey McClennahan - You’re such a good mamma Ashley, you can tell in the joy and silliness that radiates from her little face!
    Love it : )

  • Allie - Oh my goodness! Her expressions in those last two photos look so much like her big sister’s — there’s a strong family resemblance :)

  • amber - Oh goodness…those pictures of her from China. My heart. Thank you for sharing just a bit of your journey here. It’s so beautiful to see!! Way to go awesome little lady:)!

  • Iris - Those last 2 pictures say it all! :)
    You’re such an encouragement to me and I thank God for that!
    By the way, it’s a really cute shirt, I’d want to keep that as well! ;)

  • Shauna - Wow She is amazing!!!
    The work you have done with her inspired me to look into adopting.
    Unfortunately I live in Australia and if Hugh Jackman and Debora-Lee Furnas can’t adopt in their own country I definitely can’t.
    They won’t even consider a single parent.
    But there are so many children out their with no parents that I would love to help in some way.

  • Sarah - What joy! Thank you for sharing this. The picture of Little One staring at her hands made me think of Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

  • Abby @ Happy Food Happy Home - Go, Girl, Go! The pictures are so great and so is her progress. One of my favorite tactile teaching activities is using shaving cream to write letters, spell words, etc!

  • Michele - I love Lil One’s sentence you shared, “I got you Avery, I got you.
    There may be few words but those few words are filled with such amazing love. Thank you for sharing your every day family life with us.

  • Natalie - This is so incredible. You are doing an amazing job with her! Thanks for sharing!

  • Debi - I so love reading your blog! I can relate to your journey in some unusual ways. My second son had a stroke in utero and had some serious sensory issues for years. We are always so excited when he is brave (at 6 now) and allows us to put a band-aid on his cuts without flipping out. Or the fact that he’ll play in the sand or actually touch play-doh. Also, I really enjoy reading your posts on your youngest cleft lip/palate journey because we had our fourth baby in September and he was born with a severe blilateral cleft lip and palate. We just made it through the lip repair last Monday and post op appointment is this Thursday. I finally feel like we can breathe. Anyway, when I feel like there are days that no one understands the struggles we face I remember families like yours do. Thank you for your posts. This momma’s heart needs the encouragement sometimes.

  • jenn - So awesome. I love when you post milestones for your tiny girl. How exciting to watch her learn and grow.

  • kimberly oyler - has she asked you to close your eyes so she can show you things?? :)

  • Southern Gal - She’s come such a long way under the love of her family.

  • Andrea - I know you are hesitant to share much about homeschooling. However, we are feeling the Lord nudge us toward making a school change, and I immediately thought of you. Your encouragement to us moms is a great gift. I adore your insight and would love to learn more from you. I am particularly interested in what curriculum you are using for your oldest. There is so much out there it is easy to be overwhelmed. I have been sure you are using something that includes hands on learning with lots of reading of “real” books rather than just textbooks. Your photo of him working on the computer very much intrigues me. Anything you could share would be very appreciated!!

  • brittney - What a beautiful child. She is so lucky to have you, as you clearly are to have her. :) Your blog is so breathtaking.

  • WanderingGarden - Thanks for the update. I followed your links and journey as we began our adoption process, and it is a joy to see her grow!

  • Rikki - Could not be happier to be not only follow along with her progress, but that she is with you and you are so attentive to these beautiful simple things that make up who she is, who she’s becoming, and what she is overcoming.

  • Ashleigh - You are such a good mama. I know you have your struggles like the rest of us but you are such a good mama. It’s a pleasure to watch your family grow.

  • Kristen - What are y’all doing with the shaving cream..? Just curious : )

  • TheDenverPack - I could not love this post anymore. Love the changes your pictures capture.

  • Kimberly Dial - It makes me so happy to see her thriving, not that I doubted she would … she’s lovely & obviously so very happy. Her sassy spunk is evident … thanks for sharing her & your whole family. You’re blessed!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - This makes my heart so happy.

  • Katrina - I was just reading your post, “When Shaving Cream Takes My Breath Away” and it literally took MY breath away as I looked at a baby photo of your daughter. It took my breath away because I thought it was a photo of MY daughter….. We just traveled to China in January to bring home our amazing little girl. Oh….my….word. Our little one just turned two in the start of March, so she is right at about the same age as your daughter in that photo. I would love to share a photo with you and talk more about where your daughter is from–province, etc. Could it be they are sisters??? The resemblance is remarkable. I showed the photo to my husband and he thought it was a photo of our sweetie, as well.

2.15pegdollhouse-01

My kids like painting peg dolls and playing with them. We’ve got quite the growing collection of ones given to them, ones I’ve painted and ones they’ve painted (the one pictured is from Once Upon A Peg). I was at Hobby Lobby recently and thought these little cardboard houses would be a perfect fit for playing and storing some of the dolls.

I used Decoupage and scrap fabric to cover the house. I cut and glued, cut and glued until it was all covered.

For the windows and door, I covered the whole base in fabric and decoupage. The decoupage made the fabric hard so it was easier to cut the holes out. I used an X-acto knife to cut out the window and door holes.2.15pegdollhouse-032.15pegdollhouse-05While I worked on the house the kids painted peg dolls and pictures.2.15pegdollhouse-08He made a ninja.2.15pegdollhouse-072.15pegdollhouse-06

I think these would be really fun gifts to make for friends…it looks like I need to go stock up on houses from Hobby Lobby.2.15pegdollhouse-09 2.15pegdollhouse-112.15pegdollhouse-12

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  • amanda - so cute!!

  • Ashleigh B - This is simply adorable. I love how the kids get to paint, play and expand on this fun activity. I’m seeing neighborhoods in the making!!
    Definitely saving this one for the kiddos!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Beth Ann - Cute! This would make a fun party activity – make your own dolls and doll house – I think my 8 year old would love it!

  • rhonda - oh snap these are cuuuuute!

  • AmandaK - That. is. so . adorable. and Sweet.

  • amber - Oh, I love this:)!

  • Gris fleur - Ready to build this lovely cute house tomorrow !

  • a - are these the paper macho houses. I could find them but only in a set of 3 Large Med and small. Does that sound right. HL is a looong drive so I just want to make sure I am getting the right thing. So cute.

  • Jamie - Unless I’m mistaken and it’s another brand, I’m a bit jealous that you have Liberty of London scraps. That is the softest, most amazing fabric ever! Not to mention how pretty it is. I love this idea.

  • Laura in Sacto - Hobby Lobby here I come. The house is darling!

  • Gina - So cute!!! Your fabric makes it so sweet; I love the piece with lemons and cherries!!!!

  • Celeste - So cute! I just bought a peg people play set through etsy for my little girls yesterday so we’ll have to do this!

  • Diana - This is adorable! I especially love how you have the flowers right under the window like a flower box!

  • Mindie - Can you buy the peg people at Hobby Lobby too? This is adorable!

  • Jenny B. - So adorable! I love little houses!! I pinned a link to a peg doll kit the other day, and thought that would be a really fun project, but it seemed a little pricey (the kit included paint and brushes, so that’s probably why). Do you have a good source for the unpainted peg people?

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I agree! Awesome gift idea!

  • Jen - How cute is that! Peg dolls are a hit around here too so I think I’ll have to look for those cardboard houses. What a cute gift for friends.

  • Kiasa - I have been an avid instagram follower for awhile. I think this is my first visit to your blog–I’ve been meaning to stop by for months now. You inspire me so much. Not only are your photos amazing but your attitude and spirit are so full of love and goodness. It really shines through in all that you post. Thank you for sharing so much beauty!

  • Jessica Mennie - Oh I love this! This makes me want a little girl to spoil and be creative with so bad. I’ll do this with my little niece soon though. What a beautiful idea. X

    Jess X

    chasinglifeandme.blogspot.co.uk

  • AshleyAnn - Jenny – here is one source:
    http://factorydirectcraft.com

  • AshleyAnn - Mindie – Yes, I often stock up when they are 40% or 50% off!

  • Link Love: No.1 | My Corner Chair - […] diy storage house for peg dolls… oh my lands, this makes me hope Inside Baby is a […]

  • Amy G - I LOVE this idea! I know my girls would love it as well! I can’t wait to buy the supplies and spend an afternoon doing this! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • natalie - ashley!!! THIS IS OUT OF CONTROL CUTE. love, love, love it!

  • Heather - I found myself at Hobby Lobby (LOVE THAT STORE) this weekend looking for some items when I saw the houses you have posted. We had a sick kiddo at home and needed a low key activity to pass the time so the houses just jumped into my cart! We did one with fabric and decoupaged with pieces of colorful paper on the other. They made the perfect little homes for a couple of clothes pins dolls we had made earlier in the year. Thanks for the inspiration and sanity saver.

  • Jenny B. - AshleyAnn – Thanks for the link! That looks like a great resource for lots of crafty stuff. :)

  • Melissa F - Those are really adorable. Thanks for sharing.