About a year and a half ago my extended family began planning a family reunion at my uncle and aunt’s home in Montana. The reunion is what sparked us taking this month long trip. Since we were headed to Montana anyway, we decided what better time to explore the Rockies!

My uncle and aunt have an incredible piece of property in the mountains of Montana. Stunning. My parents, sister & her family, and grandma drove up from Oklahoma. Three of my cousins were able to make the trip too. My kids spent 4 days exploring and getting all kinds of ‘Montana’ experiences. They did not want to leave. My aunt is an incredible cook and baker. I gained about 15 pounds in three days…just eating and talking all day long. And eating more. And then just a bit more until I couldn’t move. It was bad. We did not want to leave.

I’m not going to post many pics from the reunion because I forgot to ask how everyone felt about me sharing them online. My grandpa was not able to make it up, which made us all so sad. I did snap a couple pictures of my grandma with all her great-grandkids that were able to attend. She has a lot more that weren’t able to come.

How fun is my grandma?! I sure wouldn’t get that stinky flip flop that close to my face!

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Montana is her wildflower dancing dream.6.14crystalpark-3

We have a lot of cows in Oklahoma, but I’ve never driven through a cattle drive. It was really fun until we got out of the car and saw the ‘splatter gift’  all those cows gave our car and trailer! Now when we pull up some place not only do we look a little like the Griswolds…our trailer front is covered in…you know. Got to find a car wash today!6.14crystalpark-4

My aunt recommended Crystal Park as a fun road stop for the kids on our way to our next stop. My sister and her family joined us; it was so good to be around them again! Crystal Park is 7,800 feet in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest that is open for visitors to dig quartz crystals. We did some crystal digging in Oklahoma before, so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect. Basically it is a mountain covered in holes from people digging. We did not come prepared with good tools, but we made do with what I could wrangle up from the trailer. Forks. Wooden spoons. A hatchet. A crowbar. Hammers. The kids loved it.6.14crystalpark-56.14crystalpark-66.14crystalpark-7

This is right before Little One nailed her Aunt Lesley in the head with a hammer. Not really!6.14crystalpark-8

The angle on a few of these shots looks like the boys were under dirt, they were not…no risk of anyone getting buried.6.14crystalpark-96.14crystalpark-116.14crystalpark-12

It is a great park to stop at if you are in the area. I would bring a shovel and some kind of screen to sift with next time. There are also several beautiful campgrounds in the forest. Most look like they don’t have any type of hook-ups, but the beautiful is spectacular.

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  • Eva - What a beautiful place to live and gather together for a family reunion. It’s like a no-brainer! It looks like everyone enjoyed their time in Montana. You are so blessed!

  • Malia - oh my goodness ashley! your kids have grown up so much! i took the snapshop course from you a couple of years ago but since have been living off the grid with no wifi so haven’t been on blogs. now that we moved (for a time) and i have wifi i just clicked on your blog to see how you’re doing. what a beautiful family. your grandmas is the best! looks like you guys are having a great time. i am gonna have to wander over and look you up on instagram now as well. have a happy summer! hope to check back in soon! aloha, malia

  • Karen - how wonderful that your family had that reunion. I hope to be of fun grandma and great grandma someday. reunions with my family in Minnesota and camping with my family are among my favorite childhood memories.It
    what is your source for the vintage-looking fabrics on your blog?Specifically your slip covers and pillows.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Dear Ashley, the memories you are making are so special! The kids are going to have a fond smile tucked away for always.

  • RachelC - That flip flop picture! Love the spunk. P.S. When are you coming home? I miss you.

  • Taylor - Your Grandma seems awesome! haha. Also, that park looks incredible.

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • Kristin C. - Oh my gosh, I love the flip flop pic with your Grandma!!! Lol!

  • Anthea - The shot with grandma and the foot by her face is seriously hysterically cute!

Just a note: For those new to my blog, in the past I’ve mentioned some food related challenges my youngest daughter faces. For a little background on this post, here are two previous posts:

http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2013/09/19/dont-give-up-on-being-authentic/

http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2013/12/13/a-warrior-letting-down-her-guard/

 

Last week we spent a few days at my aunt and uncle’s Montana home. During our stay my aunt introduced our youngest daughter to banana bread. It was a slow win, but before we knew it she was loving her first bread EVER! Next up, my aunt wooed her with chocolate frosting and then some cake.

Yesterday my baby girl turned three. If you had asked me last week if we would be buying her a cupcake, I would have confidently said, “not this year.” Then Aunt Jean came along. We left my aunt and uncle’s, but asked Little One if she wanted a cupcake for her birthday. She said she did, but we were unsure if she’d try it since it didn’t look like Aunt Jean’s. I will cherish this series of photos. You can see the nervousness and even a bit of fear in her eyes when she sat down in front of her cupcake. And then you can see the transformation in her when she conquers that fear. Goodness, this girl teaches me so much. She is so brave.
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She blew out the candle, but I missed that shot…probably distracted by cheering for her!6.14birthdaycake-36.14birthdaycake-4

6.14birthdaycake-56.14birthdaycake-66.14birthdaycake-76.14birthdaycake-86.14birthdaycake-96.14birthdaycake-10

She’s three and she eats cupcakes. She’s pretty rad like that….

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  • Jenny L. - The sibling support is just precious!

  • Isabelle - So sweet moments, thank’s you for sharing!

  • Ashley E - It’s so wonderful to see her grow!!!! She is one amazing little girl!

  • Kristin S - Oh, Little One, a whole blog world is cheering for you! You are so brave!

  • Erin - Such a beautiful moment! I love her tow thumbs up! Happiest of Birthdays to you, Little One!

  • danielle - So beautiful. Happy Birthday Little One!

  • Eva - Aw, these photos just melt my heart. We serve a Great and Mighty God. Happy Birthday, Little One. I hope you enjoy many more cupcakes.

  • Jo - Go little one! I understand your joy – I struggle each day to get my nearly 2 year old (born with bilateral cleft lip & palate) to try eating new foods and textures. It is a very slow progress, but it is progress. The looks I get sometimes for feeding her puree at nearly age 2 – if only people knew what these little ones have already been through in their short lives, they may begin to understand. Love reading your blog, thank you for sharing.

  • Kelley - Happy birthday little one!! These photos are amazing! Yay for cupcakes!! I’m so proud of little one! She has great taste in food- ice cream, banana bread, chocolate cake and cupcakes! Sounds like she may need brownies or chocolate chip cookies next :)

  • Michelle Hill - Happy Birthday, Little One! Cheers, to many more birthdays and triple the amount of cupcakes :)

  • RobyGiup - It’s wonderful to see the transformation in her face, but also in your face as well! :-)
    She’s incredible! I’m so happy for you all!!!

  • Mareen - That is amazing. Way to go, Little One.

  • Amy Espinosa - This post just brought such joy to my day! What a celebration for you ALL!

  • Jacqueline - I am tearing up with joy! Go, Little One, Go!

  • Katie - You have me in TEARS!!!! What an exciting day! Happy Birthday and WAY TO GO Little One!!

  • Michelle - This instantly brought tears to my eyes. I’m so proud of her and your family for this huge accomplishment. VICTORY!

  • Jess Mattson - this brought tears to my eyes!

  • Natalie - Oh so exciting!! So beautiful! Go Little One…you are amazing!

  • Evie - Love this! Good job, Little One!!

  • Becky M - We were camping last weekend and a silver camper trailer showed up next to us. I was really hoping your family jumped out of the car. Alas, it was another big fun family. :)

  • Kathi - I can hear the collective global cheer as your long-time readers know the depth of this moment!!!! Happy Birthday Little One!!

  • Lynn - Happy Birthday Little One!!! These pictures bring so much joy to so many…..thanks for sharing!!!

  • Renata - And I may have shed a happy tear for all of you. :)

  • amber - Well. That just beats all. And pretty awesome that she learned that cake is okay in time for her birthday. :) God is so cool. And can’t believe she’s 3! That’s just crazy. Sweet girl. Loving getting to see bits of your trip on here. Your pictures & my Texas landscape are not on the same level. Lol! Enjoy that sweet family of yours while you’re still all crammed together. Those are always the best times. Thanks for sharing with all of us!!

  • Lori - omgosh i got teary looking at the pictures of her sweet, brave face! way to go little one! and high five mama!

  • Jeannine - Those photos are amazing. Great job, Little One! Happy 3rd Birthday you brave & beautiful girl.

  • Laura - This post makes me so happy and gives such hope for my little one. (She is 2 and has been home for almost four months and will not eat food.) That is one joyful cupcake. :)

  • Catherine - Your photos and writing just shoot straight to my heart. I have recently encouraged my husband to read your blog as he loves to write and I know he would appreciate your voice. Now we can get all teary together when you show photos like that second one up there that pretty much characterises what it seems your family is about. The love in your family just palpitates off the screen!

  • Debbie C - Happy Birthday Little Song! So proud of you (and your mama)!

  • Jen Ramirez - Just wanted I needed to start my morning off right!! Way to go Little One! I am so happy for how far you’ve come and all the new experiences ahead. Bless you Campbell family!

  • Chrissy - The last picture says it all. The love and trust as she looks at you, and the happiness in your face. Good job Little One! Good job, mom!

  • Kimberly Oyler - I’m actually wiping tears off my cheeks. yeah little one!!!! so big and brave!

  • Mek - Your pictures always manage to make me smile. ALWAYS.
    So happy for LO. Wondering if she starts talking yet?
    Patiently waiting for a blog post on this :)
    Keep it up LO!

  • Haverlee - I absolutely love that look of fierce love and support on all the big kids’ faces. What a cheering squad she has!!

  • Tanya - I love everything about these photos! I’ve never seen such beautiful emotions captured more perfectly! Smiling the biggest smile here because you shared, thank you.

  • Haley - I teared up when I saw the picture and description on Instagram. So exciting!!!

  • Laura S. - Amazing photos! Happy 3 to Little One. Happy and safe travels.

  • Geertrude - Oh, how wonderful and strange these internet/interhuman connections work. I don’t know you and I never commented before, but I have been reading your blog (and the archives) for a while now, so I felt a pang of happiness reading the title of today’s post. I immediately knew what this meant to you and her. She’s doing so well!
    Happy birthday!

  • christina larsen - These pics bring tears to my eyes. So happy for her and you!

  • Emily R - This made me cry! So proud of her!

  • Courtney - This actually made me cry a little!

  • Amy - Her nervous face made me tear up. You can really see the emotion in those pictures. You must be so proud of her! Happy Birthday Little One!

  • Chelsea - Oh goodness, this is a very special moment indeed! Happy Birthday Little One! You are so brave and so wonderful, may you have a great year as a three-year-old! : ) Thank you Ashley for sharing these beautiful, cherished images with us. It’s such a joy to follow you all on your adventure.

  • Taylor - YAY!!! How incredibly awesome!!! You can almost feel the bravery it took her to conquer that!! Absolutely wonderful!! And happy birthday little one from Michigan.

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • Jess Z. - This made me teary…so happy for her :)

  • Jenny - Hurray!! And Happy Birthday Little One!

  • Danette - Happy Birthday little one! this touched my heart so. I love the pictures and the story they tell, of bravery, love, and encouragement. Little One is teaching many people, many things. Thanks for sharing her with us.

  • Meg - Your little dude with his hand on her head… so cute! It looks like he’s protecting her! Love it!

  • Brenda - Happy Birthday, Little One! Celebrating your life, your sweet heart, and your victorious courage (and the courage, endless support, and love of your precious family too)!

  • Annemieke - Oh these pictures are beyond excellent. The fierce protectiveness of her brothers and sister, the anxiousness in everyone including you and then the pure joy and sharing of the moment between you and Little One. Just beautiful and indeed, these are pictures to treasure. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Lennie Jackson - It’s so crazy how a complete stranger eating a cupcake can make me tear up. I am so happy for your family and for your journey. YOu are an amazing mommy with a great family. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments and thank you for sharing your sweet family! Happy Birthday Little One!

  • Jessica - I maybe bawling!!

  • Ellen G - Happy Birthday Little One. May all your birthday wishes come true.

  • rachel - so beautiful! her eyes are amazing.

  • Hanna - Yesterday (!) I was thinking about you and your little one! I wondered about her eating challenge and if she already eats solid food. Such a pleasure to read your post today! YAY! And HAppy Birthday!!! Keep on rocking!

  • Aj - I love the look on your face as you watch her attentively for her reaction. The joy on your face is possibly more heart-warming than the joy on her face. A proud momma for sure!

  • Marsha in OK - Oh, my! Joyful tears!!!

  • Julie - I’m a crying mess ….Truly, your expressions were every bit as moving as hers. What a blessing your family is…..Thanking God for your stories and fior giving this sweet little one parents who love and serve Jesus Christ. xx

  • Kathie M. - We have different feeding issues with my boy who has CP but I love these photos! Ever step is a big one to them and it’s always amazing when they jump those hurdles! It was like the first time our little guy tried a sippy cup. He is 2 and is still using a bottle for most feeds but he has begun to like the sippy cup like his twin brother! :D Love celebrating with you! YAY! And Happy 3rd Birthday lil Miss!

  • Kim B. - Breathtaking and happy-tear-inducing. What an accomplishment and how generous of you to record and share it with us. Truly beautiful.

  • Trish - Thank you for sharing that story. Her story is so inspiring. :)

  • Julie - Looking through the pictures again, your one son looks so dear with his sensitive concern and supportive expressions. What priceless photos!

  • Roianne - eyes welled up with tears. so excited for your littlest one.
    happy birthday indeed.

  • Ang - Happy Birthday Little One! The encouragement and love beaming from her siblings is precious.

  • Megan - Crying tears of joy with you! Happy birthday, sweet girl.

    I love how the expression you have in the picture where you’re waiting to see if she’ll eat the cake is the same expression you had in those pictures from right before her lip surgery all those months ago. Just studying that perfect little face with so much love. What a blessing for her to have these pictures someday – she will never doubt the depth of your devotion to her.

  • debi - What a joy to see her bravery! We found out in April that the baby I am pregnant with has a bilateral cleft lip and palate so I’ve been soaking up all the information/encouragement I can from any cleft website. To see your sweet girls progress is amazing and a huge encouragement to mommas like me following your/her journey and soon to embark on our own. Hugs – d

  • Amy K. - To be fair, that IS a very intimidating cupcake!!! There is just nothing like celebrating a victory with your child, especially one that is ALL them. ?

  • Carrie Rowe - So. Happy.

  • Jenny - Happy happy birthday Little One! Sooo happy for you guys. What an amazing accomplishment. I will never ever forget the beauty and joy in that 2nd to last photo. God is so good!

  • Jinia - Felt tears in my eyes! So happy for y’all…what a brave young lady!

  • Aurora - Thank you so much for sharing this magical moment!

  • Jane - happy birthday precious little one! wow it has been such a blessing to watch you grow and surpass so many challenges. what a joy that this breakthrough was celebrated on your special day!! and with cake! I will never look at a simple cupcake the same again. xx

  • Ann - Happy Birthday to Little sweet one! She is so adorable.

    Ashley,
    You are very good in crafting.Sharing with you using Red packet(Ang Bao) to make latern for CNY. You may search more from internet. Enjoy!

    http://www.submerryn.com/2012/01/diy-chinese-new-year-decor-ang-pow-carousel-lantern.html

    http://www.crafty-crafted.com/festive-crafts/ang-pao-ball-lantern/

  • Frances - I rarely comment, though I read all the time, but I had to stop in and let you know that this brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh little one!

  • RachelC - Maybe my favorite post….ever. She rocks.

  • Jenn - My family has been going thru extreme food resistance for almost 3 years now. I often feel as though this will be mine and my sons’ path in life forever, I find peace in knowing others have overcome their struggles -maybe our break thru is next!
    What a beautiful little girl.

  • Ann - Happy Birthday to Little cute One..

    Ashley,
    You are talented in crafting.
    Share with you lantern make from Red Packet. (angpow)you may search more idea from website.
    Enjoy!

    http://www.submerryn.com/2011/01/red-packet-star-lantern.html
    http://www.crafty-crafted.com/festive-crafts/ang-pao-ball-lantern/

  • Crystal - Oh, Ashley, I was blown away by the look on Little One’s face–before the cupcakes! It’s the exact look my son from China sports (he turned 3 in May). I’m suddenly left wondering if he’s dealing with fears that I’m not always identifying. Thanks for sharing this! The pics are worth a thousand words.

  • JR - Can’t believe how much she’s blossoming. Lovely girl

  • Tia Mirck - Dear Ashley, have been following your blog ever since you first started the adoption saga. Have llaughed and cried and cheered with you and your family all this time. Just like all your many fans. But this post made me cry and laugh all at the same time! Thank you for sharing your life with all of us! So, from the Land Downunder, cheerio, and keep doing what you are doing!

  • Cathy - Oh man, that makes me emotional! What great shots & what a wonderful memory! I’m so encouraged by her progress and determination. What a sweetheart.

  • Skim - Ok, it maybe the raging pregnancy hormones, but oh the tears as I scroll through those pictures, so brave and so beautiful! YAY!!!!!!

  • Clare - Happy Birthday Little One x \Such big steps – well done! (and welcome to the world of cake – it’s a wonderful place x)

  • Susie - What an accomplishment!

    The most moving thing for me was seeing the pat on the head and the hand on her shoulder from her older sibs!

    A tribute to you and Chris! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    Happy travels!

  • Jill - This post brought tears to my eyes!!
    Good job, Little One!!!
    xo

  • Elisha - Sometimes when your an adoptive mum things feel like they are moving in slow motion, a good slow motion though, like you are on a cloud; and because of this slow motion you experience the pure happiness for your child in experiencing these new things. Eating cupcakes is included in this :-)

  • Kitty Hurdle - What a treasured series of photos and what a victory for y’all!! I’m overjoyed!

  • Amanda - Well, I’m crying in my coffee and cheering for your little one! What a sweet and powerful set of pictures. Congratulations!

  • Jen - Tears. So happy for her and you.

  • Tiffany - So touching~ Way to go, Little One!!!~

  • Christina - Oh my goodness, this makes me so happy! I love the shot of all the siblings and they have their hands on Little One :) Happy birthday sweet girl!

  • angie webb - This made me tear up. Her face after that first bite is priceless.

  • Asbeh - Oh my God, your face, your expression, Ashley, in these photos is love in it’s fullest form.

  • sarah k - This makes me so happy. Happy, happy birthday, beautiful girl!

  • Tara Sill - OMG this is so touching. It seriously brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for her and for your whole family. She is an incredible little girl!

  • Diana - Oh my goodness, adorable and wonderful! I think my favorite part is your older kids supporting her in the first shots. Perfect.

  • Kelli - Made me cry again, I’m used to it, but my family is not. I was asked why I was crying and I pointed and said, “she is eating a birthday cupcake.” I got strange looks as they backed away from me. :) What precious, precious photos! Ashley, I’m so glad you are in them!

  • allie - tears in my eyes!! beautiful pictures! beautiful smiles of a fear that was conquered! and what amazing siblings she has!!

  • Alisa Biggs - What a major milestone for her! Happy 3rd birthday and Congrats!

  • Jeanette - Your beautiful patience as you waited for her to be ready is inspiring to me. Thank you for your honest posts about your little girl’s fears and how she is conquering those fears. I couldn’t have read this post at a better time for something that we are facing with our little boy. Thank you. I am praying that I could have a patience like you have shown.

  • Jenny B. - Oh my goodness! These pictures made me tear up. The second one where the kids are all behind her, obviously supporting her and showing concern… your face when you first offered it to her on the fork… and the smiles at the end! So wonderful. My heart is full for you!

  • Bora Pogeler - Your photos are absolutely precious! And the one of you and her smiling at each other after eating the cupcake is stunning…melt my heart!

  • emily - She is so amazing! Watching her progress since she was a baby an seeing those strongdetermined eyes over and over again as she conquers a new victory is such a blessing!

  • LIbbe - I LOVE the second picture! She is surrounded by her supportive siblings- a hand on the shoulder and 1 on the head. So sweet!!

  • Jacci - Grinning with big tears in my eyes :) This is all just so perfect. She is SUCH a strong, inspiring, beautiful little bundle. What a joy to see her THREE and triumphant :)

    xo

  • Jacci - Oops! How did I leave this part out?!

    ***Happy Birthday, Little One!!!!!***

    xoxoxoxo :)

  • Sarah - Your posts (like this one) make me tear up on the regular. You have a gift of capturing moments and you inspire me to savor life in all its varied moments. Thank you for sharing your life and family with your readers. (P.S. I live in Idaho and I’m thrilled to see you visiting this part of the country. Enjoy!)

  • Kindra E - Absolutely beautiful. Crying happy tears right now for her and for you all. Happy Birthday Little One!

  • Sarah - Oh the joy on your face too, Ashley! What amazing photos to cherish. I love how this community LOVES little one too! <3 Happy birthday to her! xx

  • Brady W. - Yes!!! Yes, yes, yes!! SO happy to see this post! Our God is SO GOOD!

  • Amy - What a beautiful thing to see, Ashley. Thank you so much for being so generous and sharing your family with us. Little One is so brave and we can see where she gets it from!

  • Anna - I cried and laughed through your series of pictures. What a strong, brave girl you have! Way to go, Three-Year-Old!!!!!

  • Missi - I might have already commented on this? Seeing this brings tears to my eyes again. How amazing! Bravo for always responding to her fear with gentleness, patience, and encouragement. She is B.R.A.V.E.

  • Kirsten - I’m a little late to the ballgame, but this post made me tear up. Such a major accomplishment. Little One, you are awesome and amazing! Happy Birthday!

  • Krystin Robertson - Such a proud moment! And the support from her older siblings is so precious!

  • ajira - Tears rolling down my cheek- so proud of how well she’s doing, how brave and fierce she is, and what a mama you are to her and her siblings. Thank you so much for sharing this. Love her expression after she takes that first bite!

  • Kristin C. - Happy birthday, Little One! That second to last picture is priceless! Love it =)

  • Renee - My son just turned four, and I have a very similar picture of him starting at a slice of cake last year on his birthday. He was born with a rare heart defect and had a g-tube placed at 22 months. Getting him to eat orally has been a long journey. He eats more now, but cake is still out of the question.

  • Anthea - Thank you for the smile

  • Amy L - This brought tears to my eyes. . .so very happy. Way to go, Little One!!

  • Lindsey - i got misty eyed seeing those pictures. so happy for you all!

  • Aimee - I am just now catching up on a ton of your posts because I was also on a cross country road trip with my family this summer. I just wanted to say how much I love this post! I am so happy for you and your brave little one. She has grown (in more ways than one) so much since she came home.

  • victoria - this made me cry. go, little one. you are an amazing girl.

We only had 2.5 days in Glacier; we could have spent so much longer there. Cold rain has seemed to follow us quite a bit on this trip. It did not follow us to Glacier! We had gorgeous weather. I got to wear shorts again – that made me super happy. June is supposed to be shorts weather, not fleece pull-overs. At least June to this Okie girl.

Light coming through massively tall trees is one of my favorite things. I couldn’t get enough of it.

PHOTO NOTE: Several of you have asked about what lens I have been using on the trip. The majority (nearly all) of the shots are taken using my 24-70mm f/2.8. This is not my favorite lens, but it is my favorite multi-purpose lens. This trip I’ve used a camera strap and just have it wrapped across one shoulder when we hike. I’ve been posting my photo settings and some of you have noticed ways I could have improved my settings and asked why I chose what I chose. One reason I like to post settings when I am shooting fast, like hiking with changing light, is to show I don’t always use the best settings. Sometimes I am trying to change things so fast, I just get what get and I don’t throw a fit. There is tons of room for improvement in my shots, but at the end of the day what matters to me is not a perfectly composed and technically great shot. What matters to me is capturing how I see beauty…and I usually see it most in my kids and Chris!

These were both taken at Lake McDonald.

ISO 160, 1/250, f/2.8 ~ ISO 160, 1/320, f/2.8

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Polebridge was a quiet little town not too far south of the Canadian border on the edge of Glacier. It was quiet until the Campbells took over the stage for the loudest version of “Let’s Get Together” the northwest has ever heard. My kids have no issues making a stage their own. They get that from their dad.

ISO 800, 1/120, f/2.86.14glacier2-3

Bowman Lake. The drive there is a long, twisting, gravel road – single lane. We decided to drive it on a whim after stopping at Polebridge. We barely made it before the last of the day’s light disappeared. It was stunning. Chris and I tried to stand and stare, but mosquitos the size of Oklahoma hummingbirds were swarming us. The kids gave up the battle and took cover in the car. Chris and I just ran in circles trying to absorb the beauty while trying to keep a faster pace than the insects. I would love to tent camp there one day in the future, but I will need tips from those of you that have survived the mosquitos to help me come out with some blood still left in my body!

ISO 160, 1/250, f/2.86.14glacier2-4

ISO 100, 1/800, f/2.86.14glacier2-5

Waterfall hike on the east side of Glacier, very close to the Jackson Glacier lookout. I’ll try to find the name and add it later.

ISO 320, 1/250, f/2.86.14glacier2-6

This kid has lost two teeth on this trip. Lost because he refuses to pull them.

ISO 160, 1/500, f/3.56.14glacier2-7

Jackson Glacier is overexposed in the background of this shot, but I know it is there!

I propped my camera on a rock across from us and used the timer. ISO 160, 1/500, f/2.86.14glacier2-8

Chris celebrated his birthday on a last night in Glacier…pretty epic (as the kids say these days:)) place to celebrate. The girls and I searched for anything remotely like a cake or cupcakes. All we could find were Zingers. A tower of zingers cake it was.

ISO 1600, 1/50, f/2.86.14glacier2-9

ISO 1600, 1/50, f/2.86.14glacier2-10

The last shot is one of my all-time favorites of Chris. The photo above is truly a picture of him. He is delighting in his youngest daughter blowing out his birthday candles, while the other kids are piled around him. To me, this is such a picture of what fatherhood looks like on Chris. And it looks good. Real good.

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  • michele - Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
    the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
    Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
    are the children of a vigorous youth.
    Oh, how blessed are you parents,
    with your quivers full of children! Psalms 127:3-4
    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful family. Your blog inspires and encourages me every day.

  • Nell-Ann - I Love that you are not worried about your settings .Living the moments are so more important !! This is a good read on just that bananafishstudio.com/2014/05/girl-interrupted.html Make it a Great day !!

  • kimberly oyler - ahhh! i hope you didn’t think i was criticizing your settings when i asked about them! i was just trying to get in your head and learn from you. scout’s honor. on another note, i’ll be in tulsa next sunday having dinner with your sister, if you’re in town i’d love to see you!

  • Mek - The last picture truly made me smile :) Sweet moments beautifully captured :)

  • Beth Jones - That last picture! Tears! Ashley, your photography of your family is just priceless. I love that you don’t focus (ha, no pun intended) on making each shot perfect but on the precious people and the moment you are capturing. I’m a beginning photographer and your blog is sooo inspiring to me. Thanks so much for all that you do!

  • Christy - I love all the pictures. Breath taking for sure. The last picture of your hubby and kids is priceless! It was definitely an “ahhhh” from me when I saw it.

  • Callie - Your trip photos have been stunning. all of them. but those birthday shots make me teary! what a beautiful capture of fatherhood. what a gift and sweet reflection of the Fathers love that they have an earthly father that looks at them with such awe. so incredibly beautiful. thank you for sharing.

  • Nikki - Love these photos. Especially the last one- what a treasure!

  • Dawn - Beautiful, beautiful pictures! I wish I could come over and watch a slideshow of all your pictures and hear stories in person! What a trip of a lifetime! I love the last picture- especially how Firecracker is looking at her dad! So sweet!

  • natalie - i got all teary-eyed seeing the last photo. this is just so true. happy birthday, chris! :)

  • Debbie H - I agree with all comments before me! I am so loving watching the path your month of travels is taking you. Your photos and family are lovely and bring back many different memories to me. I’ve learned it takes the time of living in small spaces away from daily distractions for kids and dads to really collapse into each other, because they get to spend so much more close time with one another than is possible in normal life. The look of love and that sense of family is SO prominent in that last photos of Chris and your kids. Facial expressions could not appear more relaxed. Tears for all kinds of emotions, for sure! Your children will remember all their lives the trip where Dad carried one if not two girls hiking and the reassurance and comfort they’ve learned that home really can be anywhere when your family is together.

    Thanks so much, Ashley, for taking the time to post nearly daily, and sharing all of the details that you do. It cannot be easy – so thanks to your family as well for giving you the minutes of peace you need to do it. It is crazy how much your posts touch and affect so many on a daily basis. I so look forward to them and the sense of calm they bring me. One day we need “outtakes” :) of shots of rain and all you’ve encountered that HAS to be some normal.

    Oh! And I also had a kid who would not allow their teeth to be pulled. hahaha. They were lost in the bottom of swimming pools, in apples, in their sleep, swallowed…I had not thought of those days for awhile, and needed those memories today. Enjoy your kids at these ages. Special times indeed.

  • Erica - I so love the birthday pictures of Chris with the kids. Sure, the pictures of God’s creation are beautiful in their own right, but that look of love and joy in his eyes – priceless. Great moments captured – your perspective on photography is soooo refreshing in this day in age when everyone is all about taking the best pictures and the result can be missing out on life. Photography can help us remember the beauty but it shouldn’t distract us from living in the midst of it. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. :)

  • Jenny - That last 2 pictures are perfection! Soooo sweet!

  • Bee - Everything looks absolutely beautiful! Love those family shots, so much joy!

  • Kim - That last picture gave me tears as well. Such a beautiful moment captured! This trip has inspired me to take a RV trip out west when the kids are a little older

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ok – Tears. Yes! Happy birthday, Chris. You are an amazing father. Thank YOU for being such an awesome example. Ashley, thank you for capturing it and giving us a glimpse of how much our heavenly father loves us, His little ones.

  • susie - It sure has been a cold summer- but typical! June is always cold… often the mosquitoes disappear in august

  • danielle - These are so great! That lost shot is beautiful! I put my camera in Aperture priority for hikes most of the time. I don’t like it but I have missed too many shots of animals while in Manual! Even though I was just there last year I know want to pack up and head that way again!

  • Diana - Amazing pictures of what appears to be an amazing trip. Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • annieg - Was lake mcdonald as clear as all of the pictures I’ve seen of it? I love following your family through all of your journeys

  • Meg - Seeing you and your family helps me remember how much to cherish my little dudes and our little family! Even in the hard times! Thanks for that!

  • emmybrown - PRECIOUS picture! Happy Birthday, Chris! Fatherhood really does look amazing on you!

  • Katie Lockhart - Holy cow. That last photo is pretty much the photo of a lifetime. There little candlelit faces around his happy face. Perfect!

  • Julie W - The last 2 pictures are amazing!!!! The soft glow of the candles on their faces….wow!

  • SueY - I ???? the look of love in Chris’ eyes in the last two photos! Such tenderness!! Thank you sharing.

  • SueY - Sorry, those ???? Are supposed to be a heart.

  • Mia Yu-Asensi - Love, love, love from across the globe (I’m from Manila, Philippines)! You have no idea how you’re making my everyday inspired by reading your blog. Keep the breathtaking pictures and wonderful behind the scene stories coming! God bless you and your beautiful family always. =)

  • Emily - Those last pictures of Chris make my heart pop. What a great dad he is. Happy Birthday Chris!

  • AshleyAnn - Annie – it was!!!

  • AshleyAnn - Kimberly – No, of course I didn’t think you were criticizing! I was so glad you ask. It never dawned on me that I had not really explained that I post settings even when they aren’t the best ones for the shot. I am so glad you (and several others) asked! We probably won’t be home by Sunday night…sure wish I could meet you for dinner though!

  • Irene Wiranata - Last picture speaks louder than words. Totally made me teary.. Thanks for showing us those pictures :)))

  • Katie - Wow, what an amazing pic! Makes me tear up. I hope I am as blessed as you are some day.

  • Taylor - I love that last shot! I thought that even before I read your own words on it; but it is perfect! That lighting with the candles: gorgeous!!

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • Carrie Rowe - These are so happy!!!! SO glad you guys enjoyed Montana.

  • mara - that last picture is EPIC. you have a beautiful way of telling your story :-)

  • Robyn - The waterfalls on the east side of the park by Jackson glacier are St Mary Falls (Virginia Falls is a little further down the same trail) – such a great beautiful hike and easy to do with kids :)

  • Jen - I’ve never commented here before, but that last photo – unspeakably beautiful. What an amazing shot.

  • Megan - Was this hike fairly easy? I’ll be making a similar trip in a few weeks and would like to do an easy hike trail. My dad has cancer, he is still fairly active, but can’t hike something that most people would be able to do.

    Any recommendations would be wonderful!

    Thanks!

  • Kristin C. - Such beautiful scenery! I love the last photo!

  • amy cornwell - that last picture makes me tear up…so much love and adoration in one photograph. love seeing how you tell a story through photography. so beautiful.

  • victoria - lovely. just lovely.