I want to give my kids the world….but not in the sense of every material possession they could dream up. I want to give them the world – and understanding of the world and how they fit into it all. Geography. Culture. People. History. With a month long road trip still fresh on our minds, we are diving into US Geography and history this year. There is something incredible about watching my kids, at different levels, understand where they ‘are’ in the world. It is a beautiful thing. It is powerful thing. And, lucky for me, US maps are all the rage these days. Everywhere the kids look they see outlines of states and our country. Decor trends are making homeschool easy!
10.14geography-0110.14geography-0310.14geography-0410.14geography-0710.14geography-08My oldest is aiming to freehand the US map by the end of the school year. We watched the following video together and I was completely inspired to be able to freehand the US map too. It is long, but so amazing to me. My kids want to watch it over and over again. I suggest enlarging it to your full screen size.


So inspiring, right?!
If you are looking for more US map inspiration, here are a few I pinned:


All this map tracing and state studying is getting us all a little anxious for another roadtrip. Our list of places to visit just keeps growing….what are some of your favorite US destinations?

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  • Christi {Jealous Hands} - We watched that video a few weeks ago, and have a goal to free hand the map as well. My problem as a parent (and person in general) is that I’m NOT a possibilitarian. I keep thinking but not saying how hard this will be for ME. I’m sure my boys can do it. Geography is so exciting!

  • Annie Baker - Come to the East Coast! I grew up in the Adriondacks (upstate NY). Lake George and the High Peaks are a favorite destination in this area. The leaves are gorgeous in the Fall, but really, anytime of year is lots of fun. Let me know if you need help planning a trip to our area. I teach American History and there are so many great destinations related to the subject on the East Coast…D.C., NYC (Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty), Colonial Williamsburg…I could go on and on!

  • J. Johnson - Two of my favorite places to visit are Bar Harbor, Maine and Savannah, GA. Bar Harbor has a wonderful national forest park, and a beautiful rugged coast line. Plus the best seafood! Savannah is beautiful in a different way – there is so much history and southern charm, lots of street squares to explore.

  • Carrie - Thank you so much for sharing the U.S. map inspiration – especially the youtube video. Hadn’t seen that one, my kids will love it and we’ll pass it on to our CC classes. Thanks!

  • Jaclyn - Ashley, Ive been following your blog for a few years now. firstly – Thank you xxx!!!
    We started homeschooling this year and while I know you don’t go into it much the bits and pieces have been a big inspiration (if i see a smile on your face knowing you doing the yards too, then i feel encouraged)
    Anyway point of this “comment” is we too are looking at out country’s history and geography at the moment, and it made me laugh to see you guys with your map work, mainly because, we (my husband, myself and 4 babes) are in Australia, and while your lovely learners are copying out and memorising, is it 52 states? we have only 6 states and 2 territories. My 9 yearold was feeling overwhelmed by my request to learn each states capital city also. i can’t wait to silence her protest with your post in the morning. We have also learnt each states flora and fauna emblems but still think compared to your cherubs we have it easy. xx ta heaps again. Keep smiling!! (Please) ; )

  • Ashley Jensen - I have only been able to visit to our surrounding states so far (besides a trip to Richmond VA for work) and the furthest I have been is Colorado but I would LOVE to visit the Redwood forest. I keep planting that seed in my husbands brain.

  • molly - i love maps too. and i think it so sad how so many people do not know the states in our country. I am not sure how much technology and games you like to use but google “map snap” it is a game on a website called cool geography games. it challenges you to put the map of the united states together as fast as possible. there are other maps on there too. i teach middle school and when we are in the computer labs and have left over time i often challenge my students in that game. it’s so fun!

  • Andrea - I have been to nearly every state and there are many amazing places. Several years ago I finally caught on to the obvious – our National Parks, Forests and Deserts are the most amazing of the amazing. It’s why someone in the past worked very hard to protect them. So our family camps at one or more every summer. So far we have been to the Grand Canyon, Arches, Sonora Desert, Redwoods, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Olympic, Glacier, and Mt. Rainier. Next on our list is Zion and Bryce Canyon. When the kids were younger they did the Junior Ranger program and we have great memories. Wildflowers were best in Mt Rainier. Wildlife in Glacier and Yellowstone. Sheer beauty, Yosemite wins. You can’t go wrong picking a National Park, and state parks are usually pretty amazing too. Other than parks we like snorkling in Florida, Catalina & Hawaii. Hiking waterfalls in Oregon, esp Columbia Gorge and Silver Creek Falls. We also love tidepools and creeks anywhere.

  • Butterfly Mama - I love how Firecracker concentrate with her tongue out, just like my 5 yr old! So sweet, determined and innocent!

  • Susan - My favorite is our home state of Mississippi. We have everything from the Appalachian foothills in the northern part of the state to rolling hills to the flat out Delta farm land. Civil war battlefields in Vicksburg to the plantations in Natchez. We have the rich history of the Natchez Trace and the birthplace of America’s music from the Blues to Rock and Roll. And to the far south, we have beautiful Gulf beaches. Come spend a month in Mississippi. And it will give you just a taste of why we call Mississippi our home.
    Mississippi, it’s like coming home.

  • Leah Heffelfinger - The Grand Canyon! When your kids get older, hiking to Havasupai Falls – the Southwest is very underrated, but we are awesome!

  • Sayonada - Boston! My family just moved here from Ohio (to the “south shore,” which is south of Boston near Plymouth) and we are AMAZED at the history and GORGEOUS views. So much to learn about the founding of our country. I’m FULL of suggestions if you ever want them!

  • Andrea in AK - As Alaskans we are always senssitive to the funny ways maps handle our state…making it so small and placing it down there in the SE corner. Just for fun, check this out! It tells you how many times your state would fit into Alaska and gives some perspective of the size of our state!

    Enjoy your studies! We are planning a 3 week road trip next summer in the western states and we are having lots of fun learning about states and possible stops along our way.


  • Kerry - That is awesome! We loved the video!! Thanks for sharing : )

  • Monica - Savannah Georgia is so rich with history, always a great spot to go. We also really like Asheville NC,

  • BeckyH in MA - We have lots of maps on our walls at home. :)

    We used to have a US puzzle out most of the time. We made a game by taking one of the states and having them guess which state it was, the capital, and a fact about the state.

    As they got older, we would point out places on the world map and they would guess them. Then do research on them.

  • Diana - Love thinking about traveling with our little one. We’re waiting until he’s a little older to go anywhere too cool, so he can actually get something out of it. Some of my favorites: Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountains, Mount Rushmore. There are a lot of cool national parks out west. I loved Hawaii when my husband and I went but that’s a big trip with kids! Michigan has a lot of cool spots on Lake Michigan but maybe only midwesterners get excited about that one. Oh I also loved the Outer Banks and Charleston, SC. I’ve loved everywhere I’ve been in the Carolinas.

  • Cara - Love all the inspiration! I adore maps of all kind. :) Current favorite US destinations: Chattanooga TN…one of the most family friendly cities I’ve found, plus it’s a good base to explore the surrounding area (tons of national and state parks, and other outdoor activities). Savannah, GA. And the Ft. Morgan peninsula near Gulf Shores, AL. It has a historic fort, miles of unspoiled beach, and the Bon Secour wildlife refuge. I’ve been wanting to do a road trip up the south-eastern coast, ending in the Colonial Williamsburg area. Can’t wait to see where you guys head next!

  • Judith - That video is awesome! Love the World Tour one as well :)

  • Jenny B. - That video is awesome! I can’t wait to show it to my boys. :)

  • Jenny B. - My sentiments exactly, Judith! Just posted my comment and thought for a second it accidentally posted twice. Great minds think alike. ;)

  • Lindsay - We are doing CC for the first time this year. So fun to read your blog and see some helpful tips and tools for homeschooling. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I still think you should add Phoenix to your list that you’ve traveled to :) Come on over anytime!

  • Kelsey - This question has nothing to do with this post, but I’m hoping you see it and respond! I want to order a Pippy Lou dress for my daughter’s birthday and I know your girls have a few. Most of our clothes are hand-me-downs or second hand this is a splurge for us and I wondered which dress was a favorite of theirs and if there is one that seems more durable than others (my girl and your oldest daughter seem to be cut from the same cloth so I’m always worried about durability with such an active princess!) Thanks for your time!

    P.S. Your blog is a definite favorite of mine and as a fellow adoptive mama of a Chinese little lady I love seeing your sweet family grow. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  • Tina - Michigan is beautiful! The Great Lakes and beaches are amazing, there is a lot of history on the auto trade and Native Americans, hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls, great campgrounds, lots of wildlife… Bishop Baraga is neat to learn about and it is amazing to think of the journey he made and the courage it would take(as well as other settlers. Mackinac Island is fun to explore and has a lot of history as well. President Ford was born and raised in Michigan. I think it is an awesome state to explore!

  • anne - We went camping at Cloudland Canyon in Georgia this summer… Love love LOVED it! :) And when visiting my grandparents in California we love the redwoods and Yosemite. We don’t do alot of traveling though… we’re lucky we have Pensacola beach abt an hour away from us. :)

  • anne - O yeah… Cloudland Canyon is just a short drive from Chattanooga, TN… We LOVED the Riverwalk Bike Trail! Lots of other fun stuff to do there too! We just spent one whole day hiking in the canyon though… there are 2 waterfalls you can hike down to… I was huffing & puffing but my kids made it fine! :)

  • Rachel Santos - I am a displaced Hoosier. Married my husband, and we’ve been living in Massachusetts for 5 years. While I miss the midwest tremendously, I must say that I can’t get over all of the fun things to do in New England. We live close to Boston and Cape Cod in the famous whaling city of New Bedford. The beaches around us are unique–some full of big waves, others shallow and teeming with crabs, snails, and more. One of my favorite local trips was going on a whale watch. Cape Cod and the islands are beautiful and kinda romantic too. :) There’s Plymouth Plantation, everything Boston, Lexington and Concord, and lots more American history. Venturing out, we’ve enjoyed camping at Acadia National Park in Maine, serene visits to Squam Lake in New Hampshire, and maple sugaring with friends in Vermont. Let me know if you ever want help planning an East Coast excursion. :)
    On a completely different note, one of our places has been the Great Smoky Mountains and the San Francisco bay area. God bless!

  • Terri - What timing! I’m an American living in Australia, and have just started looking for good U.S. maps to work with my kids on U.S. geography. Thank you for the Pinterest links!

  • Brandi - I love Washington DC, Colonial Williamsburg, and Lancastor PA. And you should come up and visit Maine too!

  • Amanda W - Northern MI and the UP.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes. Tunnel of Trees. Petosky. Lake Michigan. Glen Arbor. Empire Hops Farm. Mackinac Island/bridge. Pictured rock.

    I could go on and on and on. We’ve lived in WI, MO and now MI. Aside from Glacier Nationsl Park, this place is at the top of my list.

  • marcy - You should totally check out Mapping the World with Art when he’s a bit older. We started it last year but it was a little much. Hoping to tackle it again next year.

  • Stacey - Love all the map inspiration. We are studying US history and geography this year too, and I love all that I am learning alongside my kids. We traveled for 2 months this fall, and like you, instead of checking places OFF our list, we just added more. I’m ready to go again!

Last night I stood over the sink washing dishes – again.

We have a schedule where the kids help with meal clean up, but there are still many nights that dinner dishes get piled up.

I didn’t have a very good attitude about it. It was a long day and I really just wanted to sit down.

As I washed dishes, my mind wandered back to being a new mom. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. The dishes piled up then and it was only three of us. It felt just as hard then to get it all done as it does now. It was just as hard. As a new mom I remember a friend telling me about a website that recommended always cleaning your sink until it shined before you go to bed. The idea was that even if everything else was in disarray, the sink shined and welcomed you in the morning. It made so much sense to me then. Burp clothes and other baby stuff piled up, but I usually went to bed with a shiny sink. It felt like such a huge accomplishment and it was.

A shiny sink at night has stuck with me 5 kids later. Very rarely do we go to bed with dishes in the sink. It still feels like such a huge accomplishment and it really is so nice to wake up to.

I imagine one day having a shiny sink at night won’t feel like such a big deal. My wee ones won’t be so wee….and won’t need any help or assistance knocking out dinner dishes! Then there will be a season were there simply are not as many dishes piled in my sink each night.

Today will be full. Dishes will pile up. I’ll stand over my sink again tonight, washing and dreaming of sitting down. I’ll try to have a good attitude about it, but I’ll probably be tired and just wish I had a magic dish-washing fairy. But before the day ends, I’ll empty that sink. And then I’ll start it all over tomorrow.

There is a lot for me to learn at the kitchen sink. The gifts that all those dirty dishes represent – people, time, food, resources, conversations – are gifts that make life so sweet. And then there is the reminder with every clean sink in the evening, I get a fresh start…a shiny new day in the morning.



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  • Rosa MLuna - All I have to say is: Thank you, Ashley. God bless you.

  • Michelle - I love this post. I have grown up with same philosophy about a shining sink at night, and now I’m married with kids and it is how we still do it. It has become somewhat of a ritual, and although I dread it some nights, there are nights like those after a birthday party where my husband and I are washing and drying dishes reminiscing about the day just gone.

  • Jenn - what a beautiful perspective. “people, time, food, resources, conversation.” I love that. (the reason our sinks are full) last night I went to bed with a non-shiny sink. there was a lot going on coming back after a weekend of camping(which was great) I like a shiny sink. I may try for that more often. thanks for your post. :)

  • Luann - “Thank God For Dirty Dishes”

    Author Unknown

    Thank God for dirty dishes;
    They have a tale to tell.
    While others may go hungry,
    We’re eating very well
    With home, health, and happiness,
    I shouldn’t want to fuss;
    By the stack of evidence,
    God’s been very good to us.

    I’m 58 years old. My mom posted this above the sink when I was about 10 years old. Some days I really resented that poem but it has stuck with me ever since.

  • Angela - You may have already seen it, but Glennon from Momastery has a hilarious but convicting post about the normal, every day things in her kitchen. :) There is so much for which to be thankful, even the small and the mundane. Thanks for this post.

  • Bernie - I think it was “Fly lady” or something like that with the shiny sink. I thought it was a great idea too, until I was getting up to 20 e-mails per day on cleaning tips! I quickly unsubscribed. My sink may not be shiny before I go to bed, but at least it is empty!

  • Debbie - Thank you for such a beautiful post.

  • Kitty - What a great word. And a great motivation to tackle those dishes as unto The Lord.

  • Amy - Thanks for the encouragement this morning!

  • Amanda - I have my first little one on her way this winter and this is definitely something I will keep in mind for those overwhelming moments. The reasons we have the mess, stress, and sometimes overwhelming daily tasks are really the most wonderful blessings… thanks for the reminder! I love your outlook on life and often find your posts give me a much more positive attitude about whatever it is that’s going on in life – thank you for sharing your positivity with the world!

  • Molly - i am so with you on this. i really try not to complain about dirty dishes and dirty clothes because they really do mean we are so blessed. just sometimes those blessings are so overwhelming. the shiny sink is a good one. we try to do that in our house too. because waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes is just no good.

  • ranee - this was such a great post for me to read today…a girl who also has an aversion to finishing those dishes–and a family of five with no dishwasher. :) I feel the same way about doing the dishes before bed, but this reminder gave me renewed perspective about the whole process.

  • Susie - At least you did them! Last night I didn’t do the dishes so now I have to do yesterday’s work today. :/
    Oh well at least I got the bedrooms cleaned- they are usually the last things to get done. :)

  • Tiffany - I really, really hate washing dishes. I always hated it. But some of my favorite childhood memories relate to drying dishes while my mom washed them. (I got to pick either washing or drying-and-putting-away; I always picked the latter.) Her mind would wander, and that’s when I learned she used to ride her horse to her grandma’s neighboring farm, that her grandma always put too much sugar in cookies (my mom thought it was to spoil the grandkids, but we later discussed a family history of diabetes–oops!), what high school was like for her, how her best friend used to rubber band her bellbottom jeans to ride bike, etc. These are things you don’t think to tell someone in the busy parts of day-to-day life, so even though I still hate dishes, I am so thankful for that quiet time of reflection with my mom. Hopefully dishes will eventually have a silver lining for you, too!

  • Amábile - It always amazes me how you turn these simple chores into beautiful thoughts, Ashley. You’re a blessing!

  • mary - thank you for this. perspective – what a beautiful thing. :)

  • Ashleigh - I love a made bed. A bed made in the morning is that tiny accomplishment.

    After my husband wakes up, it’s the thing I run to do. I fix the bottom sheet that inevitably pulls up, straighten out the flat sheet, fluff the bed pillows and pull the comforter over …. just…. right. Then I grab the square pillows and the other long pillows and put them nicely on. I walk over to our bedroom window and open up the curtains.

    It’s a beautiful little accomplishment and so nice to see throughout the day. My house my be a disaster elsewhere but when I crawl into bed at night, I am happy, cozy and accomplished.

    Thanks for sharing your story! It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  • Shannon - I remember that website…I think it’s called Flylady. It has really good tips for methodically cleaning your house without becoming overwhelmed.

  • elizabeth H - I could write this post time.after.time.after.time.
    This is such a glimpse into my life & my heart; you’ve written it perfectly.
    treasure you!

  • Dina - I find that washing my dishes to be very therapeutic. I wash them everyday. I have a dish washer but it’s nice after my son goes to bed to reflect on the day. My husband is on a deployment so it’s just the two of us right now but it’s amazing how much a child can create so many dishes in a day. Beautiful and well written post!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - My mamma has the same rule. ;) She is here this week and my sink is empty. It is such a blessing.

  • Kristin Howe - This is a poem I have had glued in my 44-year old Betty Crocker cookbook (which is, quite literally, held together with grey duct tape) for a big chunk of those 44 years. Because it has been there so long, I can not remember the source.

    Thank God for dirty dishes.
    They have a story to tell.
    While others may be hungry,
    We are eating well.
    With home, health and happiness,
    I shouldn’t want to miss.
    By this great stack of evidence,
    God’s been good to us.

  • Sarah - Beautiful. And so needed today, thanks. I always leave your blog better than I came.

  • Cathy - Doing the dishes is the thing my husband and I fight about the most. It is supposed to be his thing, but he only thinks they need to be done when we have no clean dishes/pots/pans left. This drives me nuts!! So I usually end up washing them, but am so angry while doing them. After reading this yesterday, which I agree with, I love a clean sink, clean counters and a bed made, I went home from work, cooked dinner and then washed all the dishes with a kind, thankful heart. Thank you for this!!

  • Karli - Just last night I finally cleaned up all the surfaces in my kitchen. I don’t have kids but I’ve just been letting things go. This morning when I came out to a cleaned up kitchen it made me smile. It was so pleasant to be awake and have a shiny sink again. :)

    Also something about that picture really resonates with me. I could stare at it for a long time. When I see the picture, it’s that good feeling you get when the house is quiet, the house is picked up and you can go to bed feeling like something was big accomplished. It brings warm fuzzies after a frazzled day.

    Great post. :)

  • maverickmom4 - I love having a clean sink before turning out the lights. It’s like making your bed in the morning the room seems like it’s almost 70% cleaner. I sometimes too have a bad attitude about cleaning, but then I realize that once the mess stops then I know the nest will be empty. It’s kind of a bittersweet relationship. I can really relate to this post, so thankyou.

  • KimW - THIS is why I love your blog, Ashley. Such perspective — just yesterday I was complaining to my husband and 2 kids about the piles of dishes on the counter and in the sink… you are so right and I try to remind myself all the time that one day the house will be quiet and our kids won’t want to spend as much time with us and the sink will be less full and that makes me so sad to think about!! Love my days and evenings full of kids and now I will look at my sink full of dishes and smile :)

  • Danielle - Thanks so much for reminding me of my fortune, despite a family of six with dishes all.the.time. It took me years to realize that it just had to be part of my daily, ongoing routine and the dishes were not going to go away and I had to grow up and face this ongoing chore. Constant. Dare I stay reassuring? I am thankful that we are an abundant family, we have food, and we have each other, dishes and all and we have life.

  • DeAnne - So true and what great perspective on life. Our daughters are grown and out of the house. We are at the season of life when there aren’t many dishes to be washed and when there are, it doesn’t take long! Longing for the day when the kids are all home and the dishes are all dirty! :) Be blessed where you are, and don’t miss the messages God is giving us just at the right time in our season of life.

  • MC - I love your words of wisdom… but I love even more that awesome picture of your sink! :)

  • Topaz - What a beautiful post. It really is sometimes about feeling we accomplished something. Anything. It’s something we can count on and no matter what happened around us that day, we did something. We finished something. We accomplished something, something concrete that we can see and touch. Love your beautiful blog.

  • Julia - Ashley, thank you for this! I’m a junior in college, and it has been a really overwhelming semester for me. Everything is piling up and in the last week I’ve been really discouraged. I was touched by your words. As I read I thought about how my mom always starts the day with a shiny sink too, and then I got to the end, with the picture. We have the same sink at my house at home. And it just made me cry. It was like the Lord knew I needed a reminder to keep my focus on Him and to just do what I can everyday, and it came from a place that’s like home.
    Sorry this was long and rambly, but I just wanted you to know that this was a blessing.
    Julia B.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Julia for sharing that with me. You are right – do what you can everyday, you’ll make it through this season!

  • gbeilfuss - I am at that “only three of us” stage right now. But I remember when I was growing up we had a sign in our kitchen. I like to remember it now when my dishes pile up. It read…

    “Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell, while others may go hungry, we’re doing very well. With home and health and happiness, I shouldn’t want to fuss, for by this stack of evidence, God’s been very good to us.”

    Sometimes my evidence doesn’t go away before bedtime, but either way, I agree that seeing the good in things is really the only way to live. Thanks for the reminder!

  • gbeilfuss - Hehe. Just saw that several other people had posted this same poem. For the record, I think the sign in our kitchen when I was growing up was left by the previous owners of our home, who would have been the last members of the family who build it by hand. I guess good sayings stick with us don’t they?

Sign language is becoming an integral part of our home and family.

Our youngest daughter is talking more and more each day – both with her words and with her hands.

We are using ASL to give her the tools to communicate with her hands what her voice is working so hard to accomplish. Speech is going to be a long road we’ll walk together. My dear friend Cindy is teaching us a substantial amount regarding sign language. Her youngest daughter is deaf and she graciously repeats sign after sign to me as I try to learn. She recently printed and laminated cards for her own home, labeling everyday items with visual images of the sign for those items. Thoughtfully, she made me copies. My home is now labeled. As a family, we are working on our signing vocabulary.10.14signing-0210.14signing-04The most beautiful part of it all is watching my youngest daughter delight over signing. She LOVES it. As she finds new labels around the house, she’ll stop and practice what she sees. I wish labeling our home was something I had thought of earlier. I am so grateful for a friend that stepped in and offered help. Priceless friends step in and help in ways you don’t always realize you need help.

Not all of her signs are perfect, she is three after all. However, it is so incredible how fast she picks up the more difficult signs…so fun to watch her light up in this way.10.14signing-0610.14signing-0710.14signing-0810.14signing-1010.14signing-1210.14signing-13

“All Done”10.14signing-14

Her favorite signs are “help”, “jump”, “swing”, “Grandma”, “Grandpa”,  “Lamby”, and “Beary”…she made up the last two, but we’ve all learned them.

When my youngest daughter sees Cindy, she uses the sign for “Wow!” Cindy signs “Wow!” a lot…she is always encouraging others. I love that my daughter picked up on that and now refers to Cindy with the sign “Wow!”. If you know Cindy, you know that is a very appropriate sign to describe her.

Thank you Cindy…for helping us help our girl find her words.

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  • Joanne Burrows - WOW!

  • Steph - Jeez Louise I shouldn’t be crying this early in the morning! Her joy shines through in your photos! This is so exciting, my toddler is just starting to really talk and is babbling for the first time ever (never did as a baby) and it is fascinating to watch language emerge in a little person. I can imagine the thrill is tenfold in your house with your little one replacing her frustration with pride! Best of luck on the awesome journey and thanks so much for sharing!

  • Joy - Her signs may not be perfect but I understood them all! She is so expressive. It is, for sure, a “WOW” post!

  • Michelle Hill - this post has me delighted. I took ASL in high school and college and it was an absolute blast to learn. Your kids must love learning it as well! I can even understand some of the signs she is doing in the pics…she is phenomenal!
    I remember my ASL teacher telling us stories about her daughters signing with their deaf aunt. The aunt would ask in sign “what do you want for breakfast” and the daughter (5 years old) would finger spell back “chyreeos” (cheerios) and the aunt would be like “…huh??”. So cute! Thank you for sharing her journey with us, it is very inspirational and encouraging.

  • Emily - This makes me so happy! I LOVE ASL (and am trying to teach my sons while I learn myself.) We have a bunch of the Signing Time dvds, but the idea of labeling the house with words *and* signs is a great idea! Can Cindy-Wow share where she got those cards?

  • Anna @ A Good Home - What beauty here! When I think of the tiny shy creature you brought home from China and look at who she has become, I can hardly believe the transformation. God is so good, and I’ve loved seeing her blossom into the girl he made her to be. Thanks for letting us peek into your world :)

  • Amber - This is amazing! When I learned ASL, it really helped to watch allyballybabe on youtube! She does proper ASL versions of songs and it’s nice to see how she translates it and an easy way to pick up some of the vocab and sentence structure (as an adult!). I’m so glad your little one is finding a way to express herself easier and I’m sure more “wows” will be there every day!

  • Kelsey - I love this! My youngest has Down syndrome and signing has been so vital for us. It let’s us know what she knows and what she wants even though her mouth can’t tell us yet. Her signs for “go” and “turtle” are my absolute favorites!

  • danielle - That is so beautiful. I wish I remember more from when I took it as a child.

  • Elena - My son has Down syndrome and apraxia and even at 6, speech is still a struggle. We LOVE the Signing Time videos – the song really help reinforce the new signs. They have some on Netflix and our library has a big selection too.

  • Tammy - She has always loved her hands, and I bet she is thrilled to be able to use them to communicate!

    This post made my day, thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Annie - My first degree is in photography – my second is my master’s in Deaf and hard of Hearing education. If you needed a resource, a website or if you’d like copies of the many resources I have I can copy and mail to you – please let me know. Maybe I can share something with you as you have shared with me on this page……..

  • Kimberlee Jost - I am signing WOW right now!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lisa K - I have always been fascinated by sign language. I taught myself a lot when I was younger…. but when my children were babies we signed a lot!!! They picked it up so easily and could communicate when they were too young to talk.

  • Crystal - I love this post! It really brought tears to my eyes, I love the labels. I would like a set for our house.

  • Michelle Davies - My oldest son is deaf as well. The best thing we made for him at that age was a “Family” book. It had photos of everyone he knew, with their names, both printed and signed below them. Then he could “talk” about anyone he wanted and learn their names as well.

  • Kaylan McCord - Love this!!! I especially love the cards all over so your whole family can learn. It’s the coming together as a family to help one that makes me get all teary. :)

  • Diana - Oh this is awesome!! How exciting it must be for her to communicate!

  • Tracy R. - Boy does she sparkle!

  • chantelle - Hi Ashley,

    I know you will gets tons of advice/tips but when it comes to kids I can never get enough info! Just use your Mommy filter!

    I have used Baby Signing Time with my boys and students. Love it. It is easy to watch, songs are great and the whole family can learn it together.

    U tube videos are great but the DVD 1 and 2 are outstanding.

    As a teacher ( I have my masters in ed psyc and spec ed) I have used this class wide for years.


    I love your blog. I keep asking my husband to find a job out where you live so we can have a huge yard and chickens! (but do you have to eat them or are they pets?)



  • Theresa - You probably have heard of “Signing Time” DVDs-they are a great series of DVDs with music for children learning sign language. I am a speech-language therapist and recommend them to my families. They have them at our local library. Good luck!!!!

  • Heather - My oldest, he’s 11 now, didn’t talk until he was 2. We used sign language until he was about 3. He had close to 100 words he signed to us. He even ended made up some signs on his own. We were actually talking about it last night. Good luck.

  • Trisha - Love this so much. Thank you for sharing the beautiful journey of your youngest daughter. She’s blossoming every day.

  • Lauren - Hi Ashley,
    Firstly, I adore the joy on little ones face in these photos. Absolutely Priceless!

    I am a Kindergarten teacher in Canada and was curious to know if your friend Cindy is able to share where she got the ASL images? (the ASL hands signing are so child friendly) I have a little student that would really benefit from labeling like this in our classroom environment. We have already started using ASL in our daily routines as much as possible and ALL students are really benefiting from it. It really is a lot of learning (for me), but it’s all worth it to see the progression and joy on this little students face, her social interactions with her peers have just sky rocketed. :)

    Many thanks for any help you or Cindy can share,

  • jen - All the kids in my family have loved Signing Time videos. You will love the music and the music and signs combine in a way that makes it easy to remember. Check out Rachel Coleman.

    My dd is cleft affected and did not have a palate repair til she was two. Signing was great! Hang in there, at age ten after 5 repairs, no one who meets her believes that her language was unintelligible in kindergarten.

    This will happen for you :)

  • erin - i just canNOT get over how expressive her EYES are in these photos!

    also, that Cindy friend is a TREASURE. friends like that are golden. you’ve been blessed.


  • kimberly oyler - 2 things: 1. i love her hair like that. 2. what was your method for editing these pictures? they’re beautiful.

  • Kath - Absolutely beautiful post. Your girl is so gorgeous and looks so happy in each photo.

  • Maureen - I am a Montessori teacher in a public school. I regularly have children who are hearing impaired in my class. I have a sign language interpreter but the labels would be helpful for the children who hear communicate better with the students with HI. I have some labels I have created but it is hard to find good pics of the signing. Would Cindy be willing to share her sources? Thank you.

  • Libbe - How wonderful! I can see the joy in your daughter’s face! My husband and I have talked about brushing up on our signing (and definitely adding to it) to help our new little one who is still in China. He is cleft affected, too.

  • christina larsen - I’m so happy that she can communicate with her family! Wow! Seems an appropriate word!

  • sarah - So happy for your family, your daughter is beautiful and turning into such a little lady. I love the pillow behind her, where is it from?

  • Meaghan - I love your blog and I think I love your posts about this little girl the most. I love seeing how much she’s growing in part because of her amazing family.

  • Lisa - Beautiful pictures! My daughters are learning ASL and we are bringing home a little boy from Haiti soon (I hope!) and would love to put some cards up around our house too. Wondered if she would share where she got them too. Thanks!

  • Cathy - This is so great! Love that she is learning sign and so is your family. Her hair in pig tails is so cute!

  • Dina - My 3 year old still signs all done and happy! It’s so cute. He dropped his signs as soon as he really started using his words. I love sign it’s great to help kids communicate!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh Yay! That’s my girl! My third grade teacher taught us some ASL. We were to deliver our end of year projects using ASL only. I decided to sign a Sandi Patti song (Face to Face) and I was so proud of myself at 8 years old. It’s funny what you remember, isn’t it!

  • Lisa - Oh my, such a smart girl! We are right there with you. It agree…when our little loves are working SO hard to get those sounds out of their mouths, it is nice to have signing to give them a little more ease in communicating. I’d love to have these signs for our home too if your friend is willing to share something we could print.

  • Jenn L - Thank you for sharing this! We are in the middle of adopting our son from China. He will be 2 1/2 when we bring him home this summer. My other children are 6, 4, and 22 months (the current baby of our house and our son in China are actually 10 days apart!) and someone just suggested to me today that he may benefit greatly from sign language, so that he can communicate with us and we can communicate with him while he learns English. Your blog actually really helped us find our son, it is a huge God story, one that is too big to write here!

  • Sarah Pluister - I just LOVE your blog, photos, your heart, etc. I have a silly question though. Where did you get your blue cans that you store markers, colored pencils, etc.? They look like the perfect size. Thank you!!

  • joy - she looks so healthy and happy. you are doing an amazing job.

  • AshleyAnn - Sarah – they are from IKEA…they come silver, I spray painted them.

  • AshleyAnn - Jenn – I think you need to email me that story one day! (info at ashleyannphotography dot com)

  • Beth - Snapshop student here. This post encourages me so much! I need my friends as I parent my teens as well and hearing this from you warms my heart. My sister, from India, was born with a moderate cleft lip and palate. She did not have eating issues when she came to us at nine months. Your little one has a special place in my heart tho, as I remember.

  • Zoe - Hi, AshelyAnn! I appreciate you and the messages you bring me. I’ve been reading for about three years and I think this might be my first comment, lol.

    My favorite ASL website is http://www.lifeprint.com/index.htm because it has lots of cool information and a video library of lessons as well as a video dictionary of signs.

    You and yours are in my prayers!

  • Amy - Yay Little one! Her eyes are absolutely beaming with joy!