I asked her if I could take a few pictures of her signing (sign language). She told me, “No.” and then laid down like this.9.14speech-02Three is a challenging age. At three, kids are developing friendships, learning to play together, learning to express themselves verbally and a whole host of other things. So many of the changes revolve around communication. Being three and unable to communicate all that is in your head…well it is especially challenging.

My daughter consistently surprises me with all she has figured out about the world around her. Yesterday I left the dishwasher door open and walked back in the room to find she had unloaded the bottom half and put everything where it goes. I thought the boys were playing a trick on me at first. She is so observant…always watching and learning. Being born with a cleft lip and palate and not receiving corrective surgeries at an early age has led to a very significant speech delay. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for her to know what she wants to say and yet be unable to communicate it. I imagine she feels trapped in many ways.


Speech therapy is a big part of our lives. It will be for a very long time.

Sign language continues to become a bigger and bigger part of our world.

Three is challenging though. At three she goes to Sunday School with kids her age who are talking back and forth. Playing. Communicating. Telling stories. Kids that don’t always have patience to figure out what she is trying to say. Though most three year olds are content playing with or without words, we are beginning to see parts of a rough road ahead. And it is hard.

It is hard to meet new adults and not want to explain why they can’t understand what she is saying.

It is hard to make sure those she is with always know her key signs.

It is hard to see progress in the midst of the challenge, but progress is being made.  Friends remind me often of how well she is doing and how far she has come regarding speech. It is so good to have others that can hear what I often overlook being in the middle of it. That is parenting…and life in general, I suppose.

The truth is she’s awesome. She’s got more family and friends cheering for her than she’ll know what to do with one day. And despite all the frustration and challenges she deals with – she smiles. Beams actually.

9.14speech-039.14speech-04This girl she’s got a fire in her and a lot to say. And as we work together to get those words out, I’ll be here waiting to hear it all.

I am confident so many of you reading this have dealt with similar speech issues (many of you cleft related), if you have any tips/resources feel free to share!

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  • Amy - She is absolutely beautiful! Followed your story from the beginning and it is an absolute delight to watch her grow, she is incredible! She always reminds me of the Shakespeare quote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Keep being fierce little one!

  • Melanie - I began to read your blog around the time that my son was born. He is six years now. When he was 2,5yo we had to learn that he is hearing impaired (since birth) and needed hearing aids. His first 2,5 years were so tough for him as well for us. He didnT speak or react to our words and later he was naturally speech delayed because he couldn’t hear us for such a long time. Now, 3,5 years later everything has changed. He is able to speak with us, to express his thougths and needs and to connect with other children. I’m so grateful.
    When I read your words it’s all coming back to me. The fear for his future, all the helplessness. I’ve experienced it all. But she will speak better and better and with the help (and hard work) of her beautiful family she will overcome this all. So stay strong in moments of doubt and fear and frustration.

    Hugs from Germany.

  • Natalie - I have read for ages and never commented but today I had to say that your post said everything we’ve been dealing with, with our youngest. My little one has a hearing issue caused by untreated glandular fever around 18 months and so she has a significant speech delay – it so hard watching her try to make friends with her own age group and have them reject her because it’s too hard to understand her, it’s not their fault, 3 year olds just want to play and dont have the time to decipher what she may be playing. Adults need explanations too and some days I just want to cry. I don’t want her to struggle, I don’t want her to be frustrated because we don’t understand her sometimes. It breaks our hearts. Speech therapy is helping, and will continue to be our journey too.
    I always say , that if this is all that’s wrong with her, then we are so very blessed.
    Also if you are using any of the speech therapy apps (we use a few in sessions which have been so helpful and we use them at home for continuation) then sign up for “Smart Apps for Kids” – they send alerts of free or reduced apps and I have been able to buy some of her speech and launguage apps at a greatly reduced price.
    All the very best in your journey xx Nat

  • Katrina - She’s beautiful! I’ve so enjoyed watching her grow up – and I’m looking forward to the day that you post a video of her talking & singing with Firecracker. :)

  • Maureen - No tips or resources to pass along, but just commenting to say I “get it”. My Vivian has been home from China for a year. She is almost 4. Her language is very delayed. No CL/CP but she came from a very poor orphanage where she was in her crib 22 hours of the day and came to us, at 3, with only 3 words. We worry when we take her to preschool or swim lessons b/c we know many of the kids/adults won’t understand her. She sometimes has a hard time “getting it there” with other 3 year old kids. But, she is making slow but steady progress and we couldn’t love her more. I love the “blogging world” b/c there is something reassuring about reading that someone else is struggling with something that you are. Thx for sharing.

  • Taylor - She is one tough cookie! I can only imagine how heartbreaking it is for you at times, but you seem to be such a wonderful and kind mother that I bet it makes her feel so dang loved and that makes up for a lot of struggles in this lifetime of ours.


  • Joy - This tugged my heart deeply. I’m on the other spectrum – I’m a Deaf mom. I teach ASL at our local university, have been Deaf since birth so I can totally relate the communication issues. I have two hearing children (ages 7 and 9). They’re learning their way in this world as children of Deaf parents. They’ve been signing since they were babies. My oldest didn’t start talking until she was 3. They are beginning to see how their parents are different from their friends’ parents. When people ask me about “disability” I refer to my Deafness as a “identity” rather than a disability. It has molded who I am today. I don’t want to wake up one day and say, “oh, I can hear now”. That’s not who I am. You are giving her a priceless gift – the ability to communicate through her hands. She will find her sweet spot in this world with your family’s guidance and love. xo

  • Kara K - Such a beautiful girl with such thoughtful eyes.

  • TheDenverPack - All of our kiddos have used sign language for various reasons as toddlers/preschoolers. Some for their primary communication in the face of speech delays; some because they could communicate more easily with signs than words. We made a ring with laminated cards of their important signs, so when they were around someone they may not know, they could look at the cards to help them try to guess what our child was trying to communicate.

    Your youngest has come so far just in the pics you share with us. There’s so much spirit in her eyes.

  • Meg - Our now 4 year old went through a lot of speech therapy and is now doing much better but only those who are around her a lot understand the bulk of what she says. I even have to translate for my husband sometimes. I am fortunate that I get to stay home with our kids so I am her go to when she needs help expressing herself. I think she takes a lot of comfort in that. I think that is something that your little one is very fortunate with. Not only are you home but the rest of your family so everyone is learning along with her. Stay strong!

  • Emily - I don’t have any resources for you, but I wanted to say that as I was reading this I was glad that I’m teaching my (developmentally normal) sons to sign — so not only can they communicate with their aunt, but with any other child who is in the same situation as your youngest daughter. And I keep hearing Rachel Coleman in my head: “speech is a skill, it’s language that’s essential.” Speaking will come in its own time.

    PS – you’re right about her – that smile hides a very mischievous fire inside. ;-)

  • Becky - Praying for her and you right now!

  • Wendy - Man she is a beautiful girl! Prayers for you, your daughter and the rest of your family for the journey you are on. What a blessed little girl to have such tremendous love surrounding her always!

  • erin - She’s such a cutie!!

  • Amy M - She’s got lots of complete strangers cheering for her also, this one included. It’s been nothing short of magical watching her transform on your blog, but sometimes gradual change is harder to see when you’re in the midst of it. Keep on keepin on, girlfriend – you’re gonna be fine. And so is she! :)

  • D'On - She’s so beautiful! What a great blessing you have right there. We just finalized an adoption, through fostering, of a young boy (4) and an almost 2 year old. We’ve had them both for about a year and a half. Our 4 year old had inner ear problems when he was put in to fostering and so sounds were muffled, which caused speech issues. That was when he was around 18 months old. Since that time he has had tubes put in and has had speech therapy. He went from signing a few words to non-stop talking. He still struggles with some speech, but just watching him progress from where he used to be is amazing! He’s come a long way. Time and patience. I agree with one of the other commenters about downloading speech apps. It was recommended to us to use at home as well. I’m sure you do a lot with her already, but it wouldn’t hurt to have extra added help. Loves to you and your family!

  • Michelle Hill - She is most definitely awesome! The Campbell’s are an incredible family and inspire with each and every post and photograph.
    I took American Sign Language in high school and in college. I was quite involved in the deaf community for a while.
    May I suggest finding a play group for children who are deaf or have cochlear implants. They may be able to communicate with her in a way that she can relate to.

  • Lesley - Check out the blog uncommon sense. The mom is Dana and her daughter maya (I think she is 5 or 6) is nonverbal. It’s amazing what tools she uses to help maya communicate.

  • Loan - I cannot express how happy I am that Little One is part of such a wonderful family. I love seeing pictures of her and her siblings. You have such a beautiful family, thank you for sharing them with us.

  • Susan Hill - Her countenance speaks it lound and clear: JOY, Happiness, Peace

  • Renee LaReau - What a sweet face, and that fiery spirit will serve her well! My middle child was in speech therapy for a while — I don’t have any magic tips except to say to just keep counting those baby steps!
    Would you mind telling me where you bought that adorable headband?

  • bethanyb - I grew up with a speech impediment. I’m not sure how I got it I just had it I guess. I can honestly say the therapy did wonders. My parents were not nearly as supportive or understanding as it seems you are. they would correct what I said again and again and make me say things over and over until “I got it right”. NOT the right way to encourage proper speech (as I’m sure you know). Now that I am older I only “mess up” on words if I’m nervous or talking really fast. I can honestly say that instead of mocking or allowing you other children to mock her for saying something wrong (even if just in jest) and just repeating the word properly instead of chastising her “yes that IS a FLOWER” when she says ” fowwer”, can make a wold of difference.

  • Carrie H. - Thanks Ashley for this post. I to struggle with how to explain to adults the many challenges. Often people say don’t worry but it is hard when kids are not patient enough to listen ( I get they are kids)and I see how it makes her feel or when my daughter cries for an hour because she is so frustrated we don’t understand her. Although it is difficult to watch her struggle I am blessed everyday by her beautiful soul. God is with us and he will make a way.

  • SedaSD - I can see it’s a very challenging situation but what I also see from here is a giant family, lots of people to interact with, tons of stimulation. She will be a chatterbox one day and you will try to remember how it was when she didn’t talk. Time..time..

  • Evie - Thanks for sharing your story and insights. With all your stories, I get little glimpses of our future as we will be adopting a little girl with a CLP. Somehow it helps me feel prepared. I know your little one will be triumphant with speech!! She is beautiful in these images!

  • Lisa - Oh, thank you. This encouraged my heart today. We too have so far to go. But first, SO many pounds to put on my son’s tiny frame before we can even begin to think about surgery that will help him make progress! One day at a time.

  • kimberly oyler - 2 of the little boys i am nannying are domestically adopted (at birth) and they both have speech delays. the 4 year old is significantly delayed. we don’t know why they are both so delayed but it is hard to watch them get so frustrated when they can’t communicate or we don’t understand what they are saying. and they don’t sign at all, so its pretty difficult.

  • Megan - Oh, sweet girl! She’s so beautiful, and has such spirit! I’ll pray specifically for her language development in the coming months.

    We just heard from our agency that it’s looking like our referral will most likely be cleft lip/cleft palate. I won’t pretend that the challenges never feel a little overwhelming to me, but I’m so excited to see God’s plan and meet my little one that I know we can work together with out amazing community to do what needs to be done for our daughter.

    Thank you for openly sharing the good things and harder things for those of us who are a few steps behind you. It really means a lot to me that you’re willing to be vulnerable.

  • Kelleyn - Darling photos!

  • adeline - i just keep thinking about how far she’s come with food! she’s amazing. i regularly think of her (and her mama) and feel so inspired, to feel patience and see hope and be joyful all the while!

  • Amy K. - Here on this blog? It is impossible to tell that she has a speech delay! All of your kids are effectively non-verbal as we read and look at their photos. Little One’s spirit shines through all the time!! You are so lucky to have each other!

  • Melinda D. - No advice, per se, but I know where you are coming from. My 12 yo son has autism and has significant speech delays and issues. Its been a struggle, but he has improved slowly, but surely. This past year, he made progress using things like pronouns and substituting a “w” sound for an “r” (as opposed to using nothing at all, so “green” was “geen” for years and now it’s “gween”). Its hard when my son attempts to talk to other kids and they have no idea what he’s saying, especially now that he’s in the pre-teen years. But, I’m so, so, so thankful that he IS verbal and can mostly communicate his needs! So many parents out there are dealing with so much more then I am and I feel blessed that God gave us a VERBAL autistic son as opposed to a non-verbal one :-)

  • michele - Although I have never heard any of your family’s voices, I imagine your house is filled with rich vocabulary, music and laughter. Your youngest is so blessed to live in this enriching environment.
    Also, the effective and early interventions that you are providing your daughter are making progress. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • Sylvie - How darling she looks!!
    Not only does she has to overcome the difficulties coming from her mouth but she also had to learn a brand new language, with brand new sounds. Hard to hear and hard to speak something ao different. Even without the cleft palate.
    The most important is that you still can communicate with her and she with you. The words will come.

  • Melanie - I wrote a comment yesterday.
    Today it came to my mind how very very important our speech therapist was. My son would not be where he is without her. When he got his hearing aids and was able to hear us but he literally refused to use his voice. I tried and tried and tried but he didn’t even repeat on single vowel. Only our speech therapist was able to bring him out of his shell.

    There just are some things that you can’t do alone.
    And I love it when we are having contact with other hearing impaired children / families. He is always excited, too.

    The problem with the kids at sunday school might be that they meet your daughter just one day per week (?). So it’s not possible for them to get used to her way of communicating.
    In my sons kindergarten he is threaded as a normal member of the group. The kids there are used to his problems and if he doesn’t understand they repeat and wait for his answer. It’s no big deal for them. It makes me so proud to watch him there.

  • Isabelle - My son also had a severe speech delay . At the age of 3, he was only saying 5 words. I remember having the same feeling about the future as you have. We did 8 years of intense speech therapy and today, at the age of 16, he speaks perfectly in english and french and has tons of friends! Keep doing what you do and follow your instinct. You know her better than anyone!

  • Laree @ Ever Heard Of Euless - Oh Heavens, she is so flipin cute!

    My daughter had the opposite problem speech wise: she has a severe receptive language delay. So, while her expressive was also super low, she honestly just didn’t understand anything I told her. Which was also hard to figure out sometimes. I’d often tell people that it’s hard to decide which times she just doesn’t get it, and which times she’s just being 3. It’s hard. In fact, it just plain stinks some days when I can’t understand her, and she’s getting more and more frustrated with it all.

    We did a year of therapy in our home, and then she turned 3. Which meant she had to go to a special ed preschool to continue with therapy. Putting your 3 year old on a bus three times a week is really REALLY hard. But she does continue to make progress (just so slow!).

    Our big thing right now is time. She only has this last school year before she’ll be in kindergarten. And she’s made lots of progress, but still. If it’s an unfamiliar question/routine, she needs it explained at least 3 ways before she’ll start to understand. And that just won’t work for a regular classroom. so now we’re working on adding extra therapy on top of the 9 hours of school she goes to every week. ugg!

    It’s not fun – but it’s worth it all.

  • Vicky Kindschi - Hi Ashley. I don’t know if this is something you are interested in or not. But knowing you live in the Tulsa area, have you considered Happy Hands as a preschool for her? They have an excellent program for children with communication disorders. I was one of the original teachers there, many years ago. I met you once at Battle Creek church when they were having their Christmas program. I have also taken your Snapshot online course. My adult daughter has a hearing loss and autism. Sign language helped her as well. A few years ago I started using some communication software to help her communicate. It is called Proloquo2Go and can be used on an iphone or ipad. It has picture representations for words. The child can touch the picture of what she wants to say and it speaks for her. It is also very fun to use and can be personalized with your own photos. Just contact me individually if you want to learn more. Your daughter
    is adorable and with all the support and prayers she receives I know she will do well!!

  • tara pollard pakosta - Not only the cleft challenge, but also being in an orphanage and hearing a totally different language than she now has to learn, I would say she is doing 100% AWESOME!!! she is beyond beautiful, though you already know that!!!

  • Maria - Hi Ashley
    My son had a speech delay when he was very young, and later a diagnosis of expressive language disorder. One of the most useful books that I read when he was little was “It Takes Two to Talk”. I loved how practical it was. It had tons of ideas and the format was very easy and quick to read (perfect for a busy mom).
    All the best!

  • Alena - I’m a long-time reader of your blog and I just love hearing stories of your family! My son was very delayed in speech and my mom came across some DVDs on Amazon called “Baby Babble” and he loved them and they seemed to help. :)

  • Alicia - Ashley! I follow your AMAZING pictures on instagtam. When everyone raved about your blog the other day, I thought maybe I should read it sometime ! Ha! Anyway- I never knew through the pictures she didn’t talk all day! Her energy in pictures looks like she has a THOUSAND things to say— much like my 3 year old boy who talks ALL DAY LONG! Anyway, your words are profound about waiting to hear it all. She’s beautiful. She has a mama who captures her soul beautifully. Your family is so beautiful & I’m thankful that you share your pictures with the world… Now I cannot wait to read all the words you share! You are INSPIRING! Thank you.

  • Jenivere - Hi Ashley. We know about speech delay in our house as well, our youngest was very recently assessed as being on the autism spectrum. Speech therapy has been so helpful. I also wanted to ask if you have looked into any vitamins to help with speech? We’ve had some really good gains after adding just a couple of things, we noticed some added clarity in his consonants after just a few days. I know your beautiful daughter is delayed for very different reasons than my son, but if she was lacking in nutrition for any amount of time in her early years, that could also contribute to the delay. Even if she hasn’t had any history of that, the vitamins could still help boost her muscle and articulation development. Feel free to email me if you’re at all interested in this.I’d be happy to share with you what we use (having tried MANY different things, we’ve found some that are effective, affordable and easy to take-cause they taste good).

    All the best to you and your little one. This journey can be heartbreaking, but the achieved milestones are extra special.??

  • Jenivere - PS ^^^ The question marks aren’t mine!! (The site didn’t like my emoticon I guess.) :)

  • Stoich91 - I have no tips except to say keep up the positivism. There are some parents who have children with large vocabularies who don’t appreciate the beauty and individuality of their child quite as much as you do! :D Thank you for sharing, as always! She is a little peanut and growing up so quickly!

  • ellie - Today I told my 11 year old to STOP TALKING! when I was trying to figure out where we were supposed to go and couldn’t concentrate . . . I didn’t think much about it at the time except for feeling a bit mean . .. but now you have reminded me that at 3 he couldn’t talk. at all. He was adopted at 19 months from Ukraine, has apraxia of speech and had to learn each and every sound and word. lots and lots of speech therapy (and prayer) I’m so thankful to God that now occasionally he talks so much that I have to remind him to be quiet :).

    Your sweet little one is going to AMAZE YOU!! keep up the great work of making sure she knows she is loved!! Have you tried picture charts? just putting photos of what we were doing that day in order with velcro on a ribbon or chart really helped my son to have a visual of our general schedule – for some reason it really helped him not to feel so frustrated.

    praying for your sweet girl!
    xo ellie

  • Wendy - My oldest daughter had a speech delay and began speech therapy when she was two. She said her first word when she was three. I remember she could understand EVERYTHING … but just couldn’t talk. She turns 15 this week and you would never know she had a speech delay. I read the book “Leo the Late Bloomer” over and over again … such a great message. Little One will bloom when she’s ready. It will happen. And her voice will be awesome! xxx

  • Nichole Brookman - Hi Ashley. You will most likely not remember me. I took a Saturday course at your house a few years ago, and then I met you at the place you take your daughter for therapy; the same place I take my son. You talk about your faith often, so I’m guessing you listen to Christian music. Have you heard MercyMe’s new song called “Greater?” It’s a great song, but the story behind it is incredible. When I heard the story on the radio it brought tears to my eyes.


  • AshleyAnn - Nichole – I do remember you :) I was talking to my friend Cindy about speech recently and she suggested I listen to that song and watch the video about the story behind it. So good. Thanks for sharing that here in case others read your comment too!

  • jami - This post touched my heart. My youngest is special needs and is 6. He also is very speech related. I have signed with all 4 of my kids so when my tiungsat little came along and we needed to sign it was a family effort. Sighning Time videos are engaging and teach kids so easily. Your family will ne in my prayers. Someone once told me that no one will every understanding a child like their mother.. heart warming…

  • Alison Kihara - I’m slow to respond but this post has stuck with me and I’ve thought of it often. I can relate to exactly what you are going through. I came across your blog because of your posts about adopting your daughter during the process of adopting our son who also had a cleft lip/palate. I took your snapshot class right as he was having his lip surgery and posted his picture as part of your class. I think we are about 6 months behind you in our journey with Luke. He also uses sign language which seemed amazing and great and now as he heads towards three just isn’t enough. In the last month, Luke is becoming more social and instead of this making my heart sing, it breaks my heart to watch his attempts. He goes up to kids at the playground and signs or gestures in an attempt to play but they don’t understand. Kids his age reject him. Or I am asked “why can’t he talk” or “what’s wrong with his lip”. I have the added benefit or frustration of being a speech-language pathologist myself. I hope that this will pay off eventually as he gets lots of extra practice with mom. Right now, it makes me feel useless as he still has very few intelligible words. I want to protect him but also don’t want to inhibit his instinct to be social. He is an only child (for now we’re about to start our journey to add a brother or sister) and I have a few friends with kids that we get together with but it’s just not enough. He’s also in a birth-to-three class twice a week. But he wants to play with other kids at the playground and park. He’s only recently come to realize that other kids don’t understand his signs and that was heartbreaking to watch him as I told him that they didn’t understand when he talked with his hands. This little boy has been through so much and still has such an uphill battle. Some days, I am more hopeful and see his progress… Today, I am sad for him and his struggles. Thanks for showing me that I’m not really alone in this unique situation!

  • Deborah - Our son, who is now 7, was born with a moderate hearing loss. Speech and hearing services were our world for so many years. Three was his break through year and many of the signs he knew were the first words he spoke. It is amazing to me to look back and see the journey that God took us on. Keep pressing on!

  • Loren - Hi Ashley — I just wanted to say “hang in there.” Our older daughter also had speech therapy and now the one who had the cleft lip and palate has it two times a week. For us — and also what I hear time and time again — suddenly, they started speaking. The fact that her receptive language is so strong and that she understands so much is a great sign. She’ll get there. With both girls we got to the breaking point, thinking this is never going to happen and then suddenly… talking in phrases! Can’t keep em from talking if we try. My older girl’s teachers call her a chatterbox! Just wait….!

I’m headed to Click Away today.

I can’t decide if I am excited or want to run the opposite direction of the airport. Probably a little bit of both if I am honest.

If there is one movie I find myself quoting on a regular basis, it is You’ve Got Mail. As I’ve been preparing to head to Click Away this week I keep saying to myself, “I’ll win them over with my cute outlines and vintage sheet scraps.” Anyone know the line I’m referencing?!

Anyway…I have cute outlines. Millers (the pro branch of Mpix) is sponsoring me. This is my first time to be ‘sponsored’ at anything. I’m not sure what proper sponsored speaker protocol is, but is makes me smile and laugh when I think about it. A big perk of being sponsored by Millers is I got to print up some goodies to go along with my session. If I bomb the speaking part, at least those that attend will leave with some cuteness. I’ll show more next week, I have to surprise the attendees a little bit.

When I should have been packing or going over my presentation…I was distracting myself with these goodies. (Millers did the printing, Katie Daisy created my blog artwork that is used, my sister sent along a goodie too)

I’m feeling way out of my league as I look at the speaker list. Thankfully, all my sessions are on Thursday so I can soak in the rest of the conference without all the nerves. Chris is joining me – having him by my side makes all the difference.

Maybe I’ll just ask him to do the presentation…he likes the stage:)

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  • Carmen - wow, those parcels look adorable! So clever and talented you are. I’m sure you will be amazing, wish I could go to hear you speak!!

  • Rhonda - Good luck, Ashley. I wish I could be there but will be praying for peace and wisdom as you tell your story. Hugs!

  • Signe - Good Luck Ashley!!! I know you will do amazing!

  • Nikki Toth - I’m so excited to meet you at the meet the speaker event! Your online class was what ignited my love for photography and I’m forever grateful to you for sharing your passion and expertise!

  • jenn - I bet you will do great. I understand though. I think speaking would be low on my list of things I would want to do but high on my list of things would be hearing you speak. I have enjoyed the encouragement and fun you bring to your blog and life. Prayers for safe travels and an awesome time. You will rock it I’m sure

  • Lacey Meyers - You are going to do so awesome, Ashley! You could stand up there and tell stories about your life, smile, and you’d have EVERYONE won over. These cute hand outs are the icing on the cake! I really wish I could attend your presentation, but have to work in another program…. But I’ll see you at our panel! And I’d love to snag one of your handouts if you have any left! :)

  • Ujjaini - Adorable. Good luck to you!


  • Emily - I just watched You’ve Got Mail last night! Such a good movie (and you are definitely more Shop Around the Corner than Fox Books when it comes to charm and loyalty.) Have fun this weekend!

  • Samae - Good luck, Ashley! I am certain you will do a fantastic job.

  • Sue - Oh, such a quotable movie! “Square footage, discounts, and deep armchairs…”

  • Loan - You are going to ROCK it! Can’t wait to hear all about it and see the rest of the goodies you’re giving out!

  • Valerie - You’ll be great. I would like to have heard your presentation. Have fun!

  • Leiann - Go to the mattresses. –You’ll do great!

  • Sara - I’ve been reading your blog for years….and years. I rarely comment (although I shall now start!) and enjoy seeing how you let God use you. I believe whole-heartedly in you! You will do amazing at this conference! I’m praying your brave will be braver than ever. Go get ‘em! :) :) :) (I’m cheering you on from Arkansas)

  • Cara williams - You are going to do amazing!!

  • kelli - You’ll do great! Can’t wait to read about it! :)

  • Christy - That is my favorite movie! Is this the line?
    “Do you know what? We are going to seduce them. We’re going to seduce them with our square footage, and our discounts, and our deep armchairs, and…our cappuccino!”

    That is the best movie to watch in the fall. It makes this country girl want to move to the big city (or maybe just visit..)

    “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

  • kimberly oyler - look at you! these are so cute! i guess i need to watch you’ve got mail. i’ve never seen it.

  • AshleyAnn - Kimberly – we need to change that! ;)

  • Angela Ellsworth - Can’t wait friend!!

  • Krista Lund - You did a fantastic job and I enjoyed meeting you! Thank you for the photo :)

  • Stacey Petersen - Ashley- Your class was hands down my favorite class of all 3 days. I’m serious! I’ve been constantly thinking about my thieves of joy and working hard to get over them the past few days. I took out my camera and kids to the fair yesterday and actually had fun shooting them, when typically I would never touch my camera unless it was for a paying client. I truly believe that your class has changed my photography forever. Thank you!!

This summer an email from Budsies landed in my inbox. I was asked if I’d be interested in trying our their product – custom toys made from children’s artwork. Ummmm, yes. Immediately I though about my 8 year old son and 5 year old daughter. They are constantly creating anything and everything. I asked them draw something they would want to see as a ‘real life’ toy. They went through a couple versions until they both settled on their drawings.

She drew an Elsa doll. He drew a 9 legged cheeseburger with its tongue hanging out that was holding hands with a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich, both covered in hearts – for his sisters. I love that kid.


We sent them off. A few weeks later a box arrived….
9.14budsies-019.14budsies-029.14budsies-039.14budsies-04I don’t think any of us could believe how cool they turned out. My son was especially surprised. I think he drew his with a little bit of a challenge in mind and they met his challenge.9.14budsies-069.14budsies-059.14budsies-089.14budsies-079.14budsies-099.14budsies-10It was pretty fun watching them open the box and see their creations in a form that they can hold.  My son is already trying to figure out a way to create more, order them and start selling…along with how he can publish and sell all the books he has been writing. I love that kid.

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  • Sarah Pratt - That is too cute! My nine year old would absolutely love this company!

  • jenw - Wow! That’s is super awesome. And I love the kids drawings. I especially like how I’m sure the Budsies folks noticed the drawings were inspired by certain movies yet the creations do not look like the movie characters. I’m sure that’s for liability reasons, but I think it’s pretty awesome too!

    Am I the only grownup wanting to draw my own creation and have it made?? LOL!

  • Amy - So phenomenal!!!!

  • steph Griffin - Oh my goodness. I’m with jenw…Totally want to draw something just to have it made into a plushie.Those are incredible!

  • Paige - What a cool idea! Christmas!

  • Megan Romer - Um, wow. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marda - Well how cool is that?? Thanks for sharing!

  • Stephanie - That’s just awesome!!! I love it!

  • Laura Sudderth - That is the neatest thing ever!

  • Haley - I saw your Instagram of Firecracker taking a picture of the cheeseburger/octopus and ice cream sandwich creation. I was wondering what was going on with the stuffed creature. Now that I know, I love it even more. What a fun idea!

  • Emily - That’s so cool! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness – it made me laugh out loud! I love it!! Great job, kids!

  • Kelleyn - very cool!

  • Diana - Those are awesome!!

  • Hilary Barnett - Amazing!! And so, so fun. My daughter would love these!!

  • Jenny B. - Oh my word! Those are the cutest!! I love that they didn’t just make a stuffed version of the picture, if that makes sense. I’ve seen some like that, and they are really neat and cute also, but these are like they actually interpreted the child’s drawings and created what maybe they were seeing in their minds. I love it!

  • kimberly oyler - those are so cute! and i have to admit, as sad as i was to see the fabric wrapped bed go, i think i really like it green.

  • SophieBugsMom - Oh my gosh!! They are SOOOO awesome!!! I need to look back at some of my big kids artwork from when they were little and make this one of their Christmas presents! Love it!!

  • SophieBugsMom - I just saw that they posted your cheeseburger holding hands with an ice cream sandwich on their August 22nd FB post too!!

  • Amy Espinosa @the little farm diary - Oh my goodness! Who knew? Thank you for sharing!!

  • Luisa - This is the sweetest thing!

  • Steph - Too funny to see this here, I knew the founder of Budsies in high school and a close friend works for them now. Genuinely kind, good people you are supporting by working with this company!

  • Tiffany - I second what L.S. said: “…neatest thing ever!” !! :D *I read the title of this article to my husband and showed him the pictures, and my 5yo daughter was also tuned in– she ran out of the living room, returned a minute later {literally!} w/a drawing of a puppy that she wants sent in, stat! ;) Lol, love it– really, too CooL!!!~! :D *Thanks for sharing {my little artiste appreciates it, especially}!

  • Randi - This is theeee coolest!! How fun!! So great how you captured their faces once they opened them. I’m totally going to have to check this out :)

  • Candice - This is awesome! My son is always trying to make toys from his drawings!