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.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • 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 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!

mpixHalloweenThis week Mpix invited a few photographers to share costume related photo tips on the Mpix blog…I shared a tip related to capturing your kids in a place that compliments the costume….

10.14campbellcostumesCLICK HERE to read the post on the Mpix blog

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Rolanda Smith - What a breath of fresh air your blog is. I would love to live in a space such as yours and I have been feeling this way more and more. One day God willing.

Last week my oldest daughter wanted to make an apron. I had other things that I had to get done and wasn’t able to work with her on an apron at that very moment. I told her I could help her later sometime or she could just make it by herself. The sewing machine was already out. She picked out fabric, grabbed my good sewing scissors and started cutting. She was giddy with excitement. She looked over at my apron and noticed it has a pocket. She added a pocket to her apron. I gave her a couple pointers on how to attach the neck strap and the ties, but other than that she made her apron on her own.

She is so proud of it.

I hung it in the kitchen on a hook next to my Anthropologie apron. Her wonky, imperfect, frayed edges apron is the most beautiful apron I’ve ever seen. It is perfect.

She’s been making lots of crepe paper ruffles for friends. Lots. I think I’ll be seeing more aprons now too.10.14sewinggirl-2I don’t really know how to sew, so I’m not passing on great wisdom to her. If anything I am teaching her to sew like MacGuyver, which is practical and gets the job done. We use a few different sewing books for ideas and tips, though I am not the best at following directions. The book we’ve been using lately is Let’s Sew Together by Rubyellen Bratcher. It is full of simple ideas that we can do together. There are couple projects beyond what I can do, so I send her to my mom for those. And it has pretty pictures….I need pretty picture tutorials!

Sidenote: Rubyellen is the author of the blog Cakies – it is one of my favorite blogs. As it gets cold and you find yourself inside more…make a cup of something hot and pin all her DIYS and recipes…and then try them!10.14sewinggirl-4So my girl wanted to make a puppet and puppet theater. I helped her with the puppet and then she took her book over to my mom’s house to make the theater. I actually had to borrow the book back from my mom so I could take a picture to show it to you in this post. I’ll return it to my mom…she and my girl will enjoy making more projects together. And she actually knows how to sew like a seamstress, not like MacGuyver.10.14sewinggirl-7I found this old picture of her. She was two and pretending to use my machine.10.14sewinggirl-8At church on Sunday her teacher talked with the kids about how they are all created with different talents and gifts. She’s been asking me about her gifts and talents ever since. I told her our gifts and talents are often the things we do that make us really happy. She declared she is talented at sewing, crafting and spray painting. I smiled and confidently agreed.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Debbie H - This is priceless. I wish I’d had the patience you have when my children were small. She is SO pretty. And she and the toothless one really could be twins. Their facial similarities are very fun. LOVED her rocking the scarf. ha. And she is not even counting her athletic talents. Fun watching them all grow in the many ways.

  • Skittle - That is definitely the coolest, prettiest, most perfect apron I’ve every laid my eyes upon! She did a great job! I want one! ;)

  • Kimberly Oyler - oh that girl. what a treasure.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - I just adore seeing her at the sewing machine! Makes my heart sing!

  • Tracy R - This post has put a huge smile on my face and given me an extra skip to start my day! LOVE IT! Her apron is perfect!

  • Reesa - Love it!

  • Kari S. - If Firecracker sells her handmade aprons, I’d like to buy one for my daughter!!

  • Jessica - i love this so much! I really admire how you step back and allow all your kids natural interests and talents to shine through -it’s awesome! What you said at the very end reminded me of a quote I recently read: do what you like to do, it will probably turn out to be what you do best.

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - I remember that photo when Firecracker was 2 – how far she has come! That apron is amazing. I hope she passes it and her MacGuyver sewing skills onto her own kids some day. You’re an awesome mama for encouraging her to discover what she loves doing best.

    P.S. I would also say your girl has a talent for making people happy. Her joyful personality always makes me smile.

  • Tiffany - I love your definition of our gifts often times being what makes us happy. It makes it so much easier for our kids to see their gifts on their own! Thank you!

  • steph - This is great! Hey I have a question/request for you. I have a toddler (she’ll be 2 in February, sigh) who is surprising me daily with her interest and talent in arts and crafts. Her teachers are sweet and rave about it. Would you one day some day maybe possible be able to share some crafts you did/do with really little kids? We’ve done play dough and painting and crayons to death, and everything I find just suggests more of the same or things for kids 3 and up. I’d love to foster her interests!!

    Again love the blog, thank you!!

  • Diana - what a great job, Firecracker! thanks for bringing yet another smile to my face.

  • Rhonda - I love how you help your kids grow and develop their own skills.

  • Holly - That is the most beautiful apron I’ve ever seen!

  • Julie - LOVE! seeing a young girl working with a sewing machine! So sweet, and she is creating a life skill she will be always grateful for!

  • jenw - I read this post and thought “I wonder how many readers are too young to know who MacGuyver is??” :) I love that you encourage (or at least let) them try things that most would think are too “old” for them. We do okay with our 5 yo boy…but somethings say no to mostly because it would be too hard for US to work with him to ensure he’s safe. I’ll be looking for more opportunities…but still think the circular saw will be off limits. He’s dying to use that one!

  • Elisabeth - I love that you let her make things on her own! A couple of years ago, a family friend with a 5-year old girl was visiting and I introduced the daughter to a sewing machine for the first time. We just played around with my sewing machine (it is computerized and has some really basic embroidery abilities) and didn’t even make anything, but she was so, so proud that she could use the machine. I can’t wait till she visits again and we can make a skirt or apron!

  • Sarah - This is so sweet! I love that she is already seeking to know more about how God uniquely created her and how she finds so much joy in those discoveries!

  • Crystal - That is so amazingly adorable!! And I so remember that picture of her sewing when she was two, and me thinking that I need to get on the ball with letting my girls sew. And now, firecracker is making aprons, and I REALLY need to get on the ball. I really love this and am so challenged by how much you encourage them to do. :)

  • Karen - I love your blog and have read it for years. My blog reader is a little short on interesting and fun blogs like yours to read. I’d love a list of people’s blogs you love to read and follow.

  • Angela Greenwald - I love that she made her own apron. She will treasure it all the more because she made it. I have a question. I allow my 8 year old to sew on my machine but I’m terrified to not watch her because I’m afraid of her sewing her finger. Do you have a guard on your machine or do you just trust her to keep her fingers out of the way?

  • Amberly Houser - I just wanted to drop you a note and say that you inspired me! I had asked you on IG how old she was. I loved your perspective because my 6 year old has been begging for a sewing machine and I have thought she wasn’t old enough. Well after seeing your post I can say mine is getting a sewing machine for Christmas! I bought it today! Thanks for your insight!

  • lori - Hi! i love your blog and visit it often. You have a lovely family. I especially loved this post because it made me think of my sister and I who our mom started on sewing basics when we were young. Our mom is a wonderful sewer (she resists the term seamstress insisting she is not that talented) and made almost all our dresses including prom and formal dresses, skirts and blouses. I never progressed as far as my sister but I enjoy making simple things and that connection to my mom and sister. I also thought that your daughters interest in sewing might be put to good use with It is an organization that makes pillowcases for children undergoing cancer treatments. I am not affiliated with the program at all – I saw a news story about it years ago and bookmarked it as a “when I get more time I would like to do this”. anyway I certainly think your daughter could master pillowcases and might like to help other children.

  • Rikki - Oh bless her sweet little heart! I am like you when it comes to sewing, I don’t care to follow directions. I do enjoy sewing though, which my 3 1/2 year old daughter has picked up on. She received a child friendly sewing machine for Christmas last year, but I’ve been afraid to let her really use it. You’re definitely making me feel more confident that it is absolutely ok to let her follow her own little passion and learn to sew.