Disclaimer: there were no crustaceans, felines, boys or girls harmed in the making of this post

If it rains, we are guaranteed to find our yard full of crawdads. Evidently, we must have a river running under our property. If anyone wants to come drill a well for us – the invitation is open. We know after a good rain, we can take a few steps outside and find a dozen crawdads crawling around the grass. We’re slowly becoming crawdad experts, spotting their holes from a great distance away. My eight year old naturalist examines each one and studies how they interact with different things. In other words, he tries to get them to grab various items, just not his fingers.

*the aperture setting for all of these was f/2.8, I was using my 50mm lens


(don’t worry there was a little boy right behind the crawdad in case it decided to jump, which I am pretty sure it can’t)5.14crawdad-45.14crawdad-55.14crawdad-65.14crawdad-75.14crawdad-8

The crawdad won.

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  • Bonnie - Oh, I love the cat pictures! It’s like the cat is saying, “Whatever, dude. You’re not worth my time.” Haha!

  • Tiffany - Thank you for the giggles this morning. Too funny.

  • Elizabeth Beattie - Do you guys sing the Crawdad Song?!? Growing up, I sang that song with my friends when we searched for crawdads in the creek. Some of the best times I can remember from my childhood. Here is the song as song by Woody Guthrie and the same way we sang it as kids. Enjoy!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBKv7F32ohQ

  • stephany - I love this.
    One of our favorite things to do as a family is to go down to the river near our house and fish for crayfish…thats what we call them.
    We caught 3 on Monday!

  • Alice H - those things creep me out! Great shots though.

  • Tonya - I had a rather unpleasant experience with one of those things when I was a teenager. It involved washing my hair in a creek bed (we were camping) and a crawdad getting stuck in my hair. The pictures made me laugh!

  • danielle - Those are great! We have a dry creek bed that overflows when it rains but no crawdads! Now I want to find a crawdad!

  • Jenn - growing up a cajun girl we boiled those up by the pounds and ate them with potatoes, corn and sausage. not sure what your naturalist boy would think about that but they are pretty yummy. they are frequently called mud bugs, we call them crawfish but lots call them crawdads too. my kids won’t get close to them. my son ate some as an 18month old but now calls them red bugs and says he doesn’t want to eat those red bugs.
    in fact we just ate some this past weekend. i was planning on posted them on my blog later this week. glad your kiddos had fun with them. love the disclaimer you made. i’m sure your brave boys were ready to grab up that crawfish from little one.

  • Christy - That’s crazy. I didn’t know the left the water long enough to just go walking around. We have an Australian Blue Crayfish as a pet. He lives in an aquarium, I don’t know how he would feel about walking around in the backyard!

  • Kellilu - What fun! The photo of Little One and the crawdad is marvelous.

  • Michelle Hill - I can’t help but get the heebie jeebies thinking about a back yard crawling with crawdads…gahhhh! Especially thinking about that picture you posted a while back with a pregnant crawdad…double gahhhhh!!
    the pictures are beautiful, however :)

  • Shevaun - We call them Yabbies in Australia. :)
    So did you eat them?

  • heather - Thank you for making me laugh out loud today. Those pictures are fantastic!

  • Susanna - These pictures totally made my morning! What great stories you tell with your camera.

  • Anna @ A Good Home - These are definitely some of my favorite pictures you’ve ever posted! I just love them!

  • Amanda - All I could think was collect them and boil them. Yum!! Where I’m from a crawfish boil with friends is a favorite way to spend an afternoon.

  • Amy Cornwell - I love the curiosity of the cat! So cute!

  • anastasia curtin - Super funny :) my daughter always chases sand crabs on the beach, no luck catching one yet though :)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - LOL – the cats and crawdads crack me up!

  • Taylor - I seriously love those last pictures with the cat. That interaction is hilarious!


  • Bri Schaaf - Oh my goodness..Cracking up! That poor kitty! What fun!

  • Julie - Love the curiosity of the kids and the cat! We went camping in Oklahoma over the weekend and saw quite a few crawdads in the creeks where we were.

  • Meg - Oh my gosh! These are so funny! What is that crawdad thinking? Apparently he was thinking right to make the cat leave!

  • Jo Moseley - Okay, this made me laugh out loud, too! I think the photo of your Baby Girl & the crawdad looking at each other, is The Best!
    Thanks, for making my day!
    Hugs, Jo

  • Jenny B. - Love it! My 9-year-old son was looking over my shoulder, and thought the first picture was of himself. He said, “I held THAT!?” Hahaha. My kids are the opposite of naturalists. :) So glad you’re having fun with your big camera! I am sooooo wanting to get a new one. :)

  • jay - Wow that’s thin DOF at 2.8….!!

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - Such fun!

  • Kates - How fun for your kids to have these little creatures to enjoy! I’m sure they aren’t too upset when it rains!

  • Christine - Such a cute story through your images!

  • Elisha Wolter - This gave me a giggle! I like their ‘studying faces’! I love that your kids have such individual interests. I remember the post where you showed the handsome little man above’s bedroom with his nature pics on his wall. I was inspired by that as I have an ‘animal lover’ here too! Although, he likes snakes … eeewww! but,there are snakes on his wall! Among other animals! I love how you capture the big and little moments of life. You’re a real blessing!

  • kirsten - this series of shots is AWESOME. tells such a wonderful story, and i love the angle/DOF. thanks so much for sharing!

  • debbie Schaefer - Brilliant capture… the wonder, the awe, the personality of these critters and your adorable children. When I schooled and arrived at the image of the cat… OH my, just brilliant! I love your shares on what happens in your yard! I bet you could write a post on mosquitos and I would be in awe!

  • holly - fantastic photos!

When I shoot the garden from this angle, it looks like lush green vegetation growing….dinner every night from our backyard.

The truth is I have 4 buckets with lettuce, spinach and onions and one big bed of strawberries. The rest of the garden – all those raised beds – sunflowers and zinnias. We have a lot of travel plans coming up and the garden just isn’t happening. Soon though I’ll have “Mammoth” sunflowers and zinnias  – it will be pretty and I guess technically it will be edible. Sunflower seeds don’t go far in feeding a family though. In other news, when we do planet food in our garden again it will grow great from all that chicken compost!garden-2

We have had a total of 22 chickens now. We lost 4…and not “lost” like we can’t find them. So far we’ve yet to have a single rooster. I’ve been convinced before that we have had a rooster and then the rooster started laying eggs. I am convinced again that the gray chicken above is a guy not a girl. There are no spurs and no cock-a-doodle-dooing, but it just looks like a rooster. Right? Compared to others its age of the same breed, the comb and wattle are so much bigger.  I examine the feathers daily, but I’ve been wrong many times before. What do you chicken experts think? Do I have a rooster? He/she is about 12 weeks old, blue copper maran.garden-4

We are still really enjoy our chickens. Whenever friends come over there is one random fact that always surprises people – our eggs will never turn into chickens since we don’t have a rooster. For some of you that is common knowledge – for others of you, there is your farming science lesson for the day. Your hen can lay eggs, but if there isn’t a rooster those eggs won’t turn into baby chicks.

Yesterday a deep, heartfelt post. Today roosters and eggs. Keeping you on your toes around here:)

Happy Friday!

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  • Brandi - We ended up with a rooster in our first batch of chicks. I believe he started with the crowing at about 16 weeks. Unfortunately, he also started going after our kids…and so was the end of Romeo. :( I wish there was a way to tell sooner so we could have maybe handled him more as a chick? But, no such luck. We have our second batch of chicks right now, hoping for all girls or at least mild manners… It is such a learning experience! Just like the garden…I never knew how broccoli grew until I was in my late 30s. Kinda sad!

  • Jenni - Really?! Now that is interesting!! I love this blog:). It’s good for my soul and for just plain interesting facts!!:)

  • Sarah Pratt - We have quite a few chickens ourselves. Yours are beautiful. As far as your maran goes, it is a she. Some breeds just have bigger combs and mature faster than others. If it were a he, you’d be hearing it crowing and it would have beautiful long tail feathers.

  • Allison - I’m not sure about the gray one, but the one in the front of the picture that has the red neck and bluish/black bottom half looks like my Rhode Island Red rooster. Sadly, we don’t think he will be with us much longer….he attacked me and is hard on the hens. We have plenty of eggs with our 7 hens, but they are fun to watch and the eggs are delicious and fun to share with others.

  • Heather - If it’s a rooster, it should be crowing already. We have three massive roosters…and got VERY tired of them harassing the hens, so we put all three “men” in their own pen thinking they’d peck each other to death and we’d be done. NO! They get along famously without a single posturing fight. They crow all day, but not incessantly.

  • angie - Looks like a girl to me. Love all the different breeds in your flock. Beautiful!

  • Jennifer - No idea about the rooster. But I was really hoping this was a pregnancy announcement post…

  • Meredith N - Looks like a hen to me. I had chickens growing up and the roosters were not friendly (as some of the other comments suggest). We ended up with two and one of them attacked me. Might be better if you don’t have one!

  • Jayme - We are new chicken owners this year and starting out with 6 hens. I must say that I enjoy watching them, and your random fact…I’ve been sharing that interesting tidbit myself since most people aren’t aware of it. Granted, I just learned it myself when I started reading up on chickens :)

  • Meryl - Maybe it’s just seeing him next to the other birds, but I think you have a roo there. Will be interesting to see!

  • Taylor - Gorgeous pictures! I wish I knew how to tell a chicken and rooster apart at a young age, but alas, I have no experience (yet!). I hope for the best!!


  • Birdy - You just have to make a game out of it. I really think you can learn so much from animals. See how they life live, eat, sleep… maybe the kids can find out differences..

    It looks definitely as your kids would love to have them around. What a wonderful opportunity for the kids to grow up with them together!

    have a wonderful weekend

    Love from Germany and the -fatcatconnection-

  • Kimberly Oyler - the title of this post made me think I had missed a big announcement. keeping me on my toes for sure.

  • RaD - My guess would still be hen, but I’m no expert so don’t quote me. ;0)

    My reason for this is because even though the comb is larger the waddle is still relatively small. We had hens whose comb and waddle seemed larger than others but were still indeed hens. Also, I believe the tail feathers would already be getting much longer. Typically roosters have large fan like tails.

    See this pic of our school/church mascot rooster:


    He has no comb and no waddle because I’m told he is a fighting cock and they are bred to have smaller ones so they are less prone to injury. However, the crowing and the fan tail definitely give him away. He also used to have very long spurs, but upon his disappearance someone must have cut them off.

    A word of caution though… Roosters can be aggressive, so if indeed your dear chicken turns out to be a rooster, watch him carefully around your kids. If he is handled often by you and the children I don’t believe you’ll have an issue as ours were mostly friendly. However, sometimes they will still be aggressive, in which case you may not want to have one. If he starts flying at you with legs in the air (spurs up, once they get long enough) it’s time to say good bye or you could have some kids who need stitches in their face.

    Also mating between a rooster and a hen can look very aggressive. Be prepared to have “a talk” with your children.

  • TheDenverPack - We had 4 chicks and 1 ended up being a rooster. We could tell by 12 weeks. He started crowing early one Sunday morning and I bolted across the house and out to get him (we live in a suburb and are allowed 4 hens but no roosters). Thankfully we found him a nice home on a farm.

  • Ellen - Over a year and a half ago, we had this ugly, homely bird come to our house–and it turned out to be a chicken – we just couldn’t figure out its gender. I was convinced it was a rooster for a bit. However, we weren’t fully convinced as to what it was until one day we found some eggs! She does make some rooster calls sometimes, strangely enough, but is overall a sweet hen. Oh yeah – and we call her Kevin…Kevvie for short… because Kevin IS a girl. (for all those Up-lovers) =)

    But I think this one is probably a hen. Definitely a hen. Just wait for the eggs–they’ll come.

  • Ashley - SO glad I’m not the only who didn’t know that at one point! Bought a book on chickens last year and talk about informative! Who would’ve thought you’d need a Rooster ;) Makes sense though!

  • Fiona Mae Alvero - I learned about the hen eggs not hatching chicks without roosters from the movie Flipped! :) Have you seen that movie? One of my faves. :)

  • jodi - We currently have 6 hens and 1 rooster…and now 12 chicks and another hen is setting, so maybe more chicks soon?!? It is going to be so interesting to see how many roosters/hens we end up with in this batch. It was the most amazing thing to look out one day and see these little fuzzy chicks scurrying around their mama!

    It is amazing you guys haven’t had a rooster yet…we had 3 for awhile, and the incessant crowing drove us crazy, so we had to pare down :) Evidently they were competing with each other, so now even with 1 there is much, much less noise!

  • Katie S - I learned the whole chicken and egg thing from my father-in-law (a farmer). Before that I never really knew or thought about why some become chickens and some are just eggs. He gave me the very real example of –”well you “lay” an egg every month too–and it’s not always a baby” :} Fertilization…um duh!

  • Danna Pettit - Hi! So I’m sorry for the super random comment, but I wasn’t sure how else to get a hold of you. I came across your airplane room that you did for your boys several years back and I fell in love with it. I want to try to replicate parts of it and I was wondering if you could tell me how exactly you hung a globe of the world from the ceiling. Was it a real globe or was it a ball or what was it exactly? And where did you find it? Thanks for your time and I love your work!


  • Barny - I have vegan friends who would consider eating unfertilized homegrown eggs :D

    I wish we had chickens!

    Barnicles xx

Two years ago on Mother’s Day, another mom consumed my thoughts. We share a daughter and yet neither of us held our baby girl on that day. I wrote a letter. Prayed. Released a balloon.

I did it again last year with my daughter in my arms.

This year I held my daughter and she released the balloon.

I don’t write about adoption too often anymore. I’m simply a mom with five kids. There are times people want to introduce me as having four kids and one adopted daughter. I try to gently correct them – I have five kids. My daughter joined my family through adoption, but she is not my adopted daughter. She is my daughter. My story feels very simple. But, my daughter’s story is a lot more complex. I won’t share details of her story – they are her details to share or not share one day. I do think about her story often. And on Mother’s Day, especially, I think about the mom that felt her first kicks and heard her first cries.

Not all adoptive parents want to talk about the families their children were born into or even really think about them. I get that. It can be scary and uncomfortable. Chris and I were in the process of pursuing an open domestic adoption before our plans changed to China. I have close friends who have done open adoptions – watching the dynamics of how that all plays out has been life-changing for me. I’ve met several brave moms and heard their stories of incredible love and sacrifice when they placed their children up for adoption. It is a topic that no longer feels scary or uncomfortable. While I value the opinions and insight of other adoptive parents, I find myself searching out the counsel of adult adoptees. I was not adopted. That is not a part of my story. I can’t begin to put myself in my daughter’s place. I will never understand what it feels like to be adopted. But, I can ask friends who have walked that road. I can seek out their wisdom and as I do, I learn that no two people have the same experience or feelings towards adoption. Each story and emotion is unique as the person that holds it.

So I keep listening and filing away their insights and experiences.

The majority of my friends that were adopted have encouraged me to let my daughter know I am comfortable talking about her birth family. They’ve encouraged me to open that door and then let her decide if it is one she wants to walk through. I have no idea how she will feel about her adoption. About her birth family. About parts of her past. I can’t predict what her questions will be. I can’t guess what may or may not be a struggle. I can only let her know I am a safe place to land. I can let her know if she wants to talk about her birth mom, I will sit next to her and listen. If she wants to cry, I’ll cry with her. If she just wants to go paint something instead, well I can sure do that too. Whatever journey she wants to go on regarding her birth family, I will go on that journey with her – if she invites me along.

She is my daughter. She is completely and totally my baby girl.


Every Mother’s Day we honor the life that gave her life. There might come a Mother’s Day that she doesn’t want to release a balloon – and that will be her decision. For now, I want her to know I am so grateful for her first mom. I want her to know I’ll lovingly walk beside her as she grows in understanding of her story…whether it is something she wants to talk all the time about or something she never wants to bring up. It is her story – she gets to choose what she does with it.

My story is simple – I’m a mom of five. And I am so grateful.5.14momday-2

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  • Linda - Yes! As a mom of two children through adoption I feel like I could have written this post (except for the mom of 5 parts). Thank you for sharing! The writing and the pictures are beautiful!

  • Meg - I love how you spoke on “4 biological, one adopted.” It does something in me when people change their tone and say “oh, BOTH of your kids are adopted??” Like it changes things. It does, but not in ways they realize. My kids are my kids! And like you said, we do talk about adoption a ton, and I let them know I hurt for them and with them as they start to understand it all! Thanks for sharing this post!

  • Paige - Such a great perspective, each of our children is living their story. One of our jobs is to journey through and navigate or translate as needed. We are blessed to be a part of it, whatever that looks like. I pray God bless your family and encourage your heart today. Thank you for always being willing to share. I love the last pic, what a wonderful Mom’s day memory shot. This is my most favorite blog to visit. I always leave encouraged and feeling settled.

  • gretchen - I am adopted and it always bothered me (and them too) when people would introduce me as “Annie and Arthur’s adopted daughter.” I was born on December 21st and came home Christmas day in a Christmas stocking to which I still have. My daddy always told me that I was their gift from Heaven and these are the things that I remember along with so much more. At the age of 35 I had lost both of my parents (cancer sucks) but will always be so grateful and never ever forget all they sacrificed for me. LO will let you know what she wants to talk about and it may change from day-to-day but one thing will ALWAYS remain…you are her mom. HUGS Ashley…gretchen

  • Marie - As a mom of one precious girl through adoption, I really love your post. It speaks eloquently of what I too feel. My little Wren and your little one would be great pals, they both have great style!!! Although we have an open adoption, our daughter’s birth mother has chosen to keep it mostly closed. We do keep her photo in Wren’s room and tell Wren’s birth story (simple version) to her often…knowing it is as much for our practice as it is for her understanding…and this way, she will always know it and know we are willing to talk about it.

    Rock on, Mama!

  • Angela - I love the last picture the most – a mama and her ducklings. :) You are surrounded with love.

  • Erica Baker - My husband and I know that we want to adopt someday. I have known since I was a child myself. I just feel the Lord calling me to it. I started reading this blog over 4 years ago when I was a college student and engaged. Your adoption story has helped shaped my views of adoption and I have loved hearing the perspective of other believers about the topic. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your wisdom. If you ever find yourself in Washington, DC I would love to talk about it further :) I could taking you antiquing too! haha

  • Jenn - i love this post
    so sweet
    i love adoption. it is precious. i love families.
    some friends of our adopted a baby girl years ago. she is a mom of three. i know she feels the same way that you do.

  • Janine - Beautifully said. My cousin died tragically a few years ago. He was adopted. I never once or even now think of him as my “adopted cousin.” He was my cousin, heck almost like a little brother to me. I miss him terribly. Love is love and family is family.

  • EMT - This is precious. We are just beginning the journey of adoption. I found myself in contemplation and tears this Mother’s Day. My thoughts centered on the choice and pain my future daughter’s mother would face and how this would impact my daughter. It will be my honor to walk down that road with her one day.

  • Katie - I do not have any children through adoption (yet!), only our 3 biological children. I do have several cousins and many family friends who were adopted. One cousin in a “closed” adoption from Russia as an infant, but whom is making plans to travel in college and search his birth family/heritage. One who was born to one aunt that is mentally unable to function with our family and was adopted by my other aunt (both my mom’s sisters). Two more are open adoptions from separate birth families. Even these two instances show a big difference in involvement/understanding of the birth family. There are so many emotions and stories untold, questions unasked.

    Through it all, we are just family. There is no label, no difference. Even the birth families are just an extension of our own; in heart, in spirit and sometimes (yay!) physically. :)

  • Anastasia Curtin - Beautiful post Ashley! Your 5 little ducklings should be proud that they have a mom like you! xo

  • Laura J - When Little One is older, you should check out Holt Adoptee Camp. My daughter loves it. All the counselors and almost all the adults are adopted. The look on my daughter’s face as she explained to us, “Everyone’s just like me!” was worth so much. They talk about some hard topics in a safe place(always age appropriate). Having teen adoptees that have successfully navigated some of these things be the counselors is wonderful. I practically laughed out loud when chatting with another mom and trying to point out my daughter, “The short one with the beautiful black hair” fit many of them!

  • Kara M - Beautiful.

  • Taylor - So beautiful. I love that you are allowing your little one to tell her own story instead of telling it for her. That takes a lot of bravery in courage, if you ask me. And a heck of a lot of patience for most people. You are a beautiful mother and your five children are so very lucky to have you on their side!


  • Becca McCann - “My daughter joined my family through adoption, but she is not my adopted daughter. She is my daughter.”

    I am so grateful to know that feeling. This video shares the song my brother and I wrote about what adoption means to us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBVYBYZXafI


  • Sara Puryear - Thank you so much for sharing again:) I love your posts. They are so heartfelt. My 21 year son is adopted. His birth parents found us when she was 3 months pregnant. I walked with her through her pregnancy and I was in the hospital with her when my son
    was born. I am forever grateful for her and the choice she made. It clearly was God’s plan.

  • Monica - Beautiful post, your words are perfectly wrote. Your daughter for sure is so happy to have you and she always be because you are a great mom of five. :). I never thought about adoption before but after I found your blog now I think that can be an option some day. We have 2 little girls, but maybe one day I will have one through that process, who knows . I think just God will guide our lives where and when to do it and if is right for us. But I think is a great thing to do for the kids that don’t have families (they only need love)Thanks Ashley for sharing your journey. Always inspire me to be a better mom and person. The pictures are beautiful, almost a cry but I am at work. :S. God bless your family.

  • Michelle Hill - This is so beautiful. When it comes to being inspired in the world of mommy hood, you are my #1 inspiration. Thank you for always being so open with us. You have given me hope that I too can be a fantastic mother and raise wonderful children, in this crazy, wild, beautiful world of ours.

  • Irene Wiranata - You’re such an inspiration!! I really look up on your parenting style.. And I will keep insisting you to write a Parenting Book someday..;)

  • the inadvertent farmer - My daughter who just turned 11 has yet to ask much about her birth-parents. She asked a few questions when she was about 5, simple things like her birth-mom’s name, how old she was, etc. Since then not much. I will be interested to see as she approaches her teen years if her curiosity intensifies or not. She is my daughter and either way I will be here to answer anything I can…as long is her questions don’t involve wanting to drive a car or date! Kim

  • Maelle - This post is so beautiful. I’m not adopted but my brother is,and always knew he was. If there is something that my parents did completely right, it’s how they dealt with this and his story. Just like you, they chose to be very open about it and always told him that if he ever wanted to look for the woman who gave birth to him when he’ll reach 18 – you can’t do it before in France, i don’t really know how it works in other countries – they’ll be standing right beside him and will support him in every way. He is 21 now and never expressed the need to do so. I remember he asked questions about her a few times when he was a little boy, and my mum and dad were always there to listen. And that was it. In addition to his birthday, we also celebrate the day we adopted him. As for me, i don’t care what people might say, he’s my brother – not ‘adoptive’ something. I love him as fiercely as i love my biological sister, and there has never been any differences between the three of us.

  • Trisha - You write about your daughter and adoption with such thoughtfulness and love, it never fails to make me cry. I’m so glad you wound up together somehow in this crazy huge world. What a gift and blessing.

  • Hannah - Oh my goodness. You put words to the emotions my heart feels. My husband and I adopted two precious newborn twins in December and this mothers day was bittersweet for me for several reasons, one of them being that my celebration was coming from someone else’s pain – their birth mom’s. And so we honored her that day as well. Thank you for this post. I’m sharing it with my friends and family to let them know that this is exactly my heart. You put it so beautifully.

  • jess - This post made me cry. That last picture… wow. Thank you. I get it and agree with you. Sending love to you…

  • sylvie la GB - Love your post, your thoughts (which I share) and your photos !!
    Sylvie, mum of one

  • Diana - Loved this! Our one son is adopted and I still struggle with my feelings about it. He’s our son completely while I am incredibly grateful to his birth mother for giving him life and giving him to us, trying to know how to interact with her is tough. Ours is semi-open I think?? All our correspondence is supposed to go through the attorney and we haven’t heard a word from her since the day we signed. Our son is only 14 months so he’s not asking anything obviously yet. I love that families can be made this way but I struggle with the after feelings. I hope someday I am as at peace with it as you are.

  • Erica - That last picture brings tears to my eyes. As a mom who desires to adopt, I am gleaning so much from your heart and honesty. Thank you for sharing.

  • Sarah - Gosh, thank you so much for a glimpse into your mama heart and your baby girl. Like Erica, I too am loving watching you walk this journey- a few steps ahead of me who hopes to adopt one day. Thanks for your heart and transparency. Your love for your girl radiates.

  • AshleyAnn - Beautiful Becca…thank you for sharing that with me.

  • Nicole - Love this post :) I was adopted as a baby by two loving parents who never once considered me their adopted daughter. I remember when I was 8 years old they told me that I came from a different mother- At such a young age, It didn’t really matter that I was any different… they were my family who loved me unconditionally. If anything, it warms my heart knowing that I was wanted so badly by a family who didn’t even know who I was.

    I love reading your posts – seeing you capture her beautiful transformation reminds me constantly of how important it is to show your love to your family.

  • Victoria - So lovely. Thank you for sharing. I thought about you the other day when I heard a segment on NPR about adoption in China. It was actually about the reasons for which Chinese families give up their children for adoption, and it was very enlightening. There are certainly a lot of assumptions about it on this end. Here’s a link to the interview (it was BBC). http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-27404771

  • amanda - The opening words and the pictures brought tears to my eyes. You are not only an incredible mom to your kids, but the fact that you think of her birth mother is wonderful. I was adopted from Korea when I was three months old, and I swear, my mom thinks of my birth mom more often then I do. :-)

  • Lindsay - Love this so much. My grandpa was dropped off at an orphanage with his little brother when they were 6 and 4. They bounced around from potential adopted families until they were adopted together at 10 and twelve. They were never allowed to know the reason the families chose not to adopt them. They would just come home from school with their suitcases and little hats on the porch and know they were supposed to walk to the train station, and head back to the orphanage. Finding out later (when my grandpa was in his 70s) one family the mother found out she had cancer and could not care for the boys, one family the father ended up losing his job and couldn’t provide. My grandpa and his brother just thought no one wanted them in their family. When they were finally adopted byy great grandparents, they once had a very prestigious leader of their church come visit. He asked my great grandpa… Now which are your kids and which are adopted? And my great grandpa looked at all of them and said…. I just don’t remember. Adoption has always been dear to me. I follow your journey to learn more to maybe do it myself one day. Thanks for all you do share.

  • Nicole - Thank you for sharing your heart here. As a new mama of five – we just returned a few days ago from Uganda – I find myself nodding in agreement with your words. Their stories, their families, our own simple stories, the inability to foresee how they will feel about everything later… All of it. Especially as we walk through this time of transition, I’m going to be reflecting on your words: I’ll walk with them. Through all of it, wherever their journeys take them, I’ll walk with them, with an open and thankful heart. Grateful for your openness and encouragement today. You are a blessing!

  • Tessa - We have an {almost} 13 year old daughter that is adopted from the foster care system. She was adopted at the age of 10, and so we never had the privilege of knowing her as our “baby girl” … we missed the precious snugly stage! I am trying to figure out how to best say this … but I do believe that we need to be careful about not being open to others about our kids being adopted and how that can be perceived as giving adoption a negative stigma. I believe that there is nothing negative that our daughter came to us through adoption, it is simply a fact. The same thing can be said for her being Black or African-American. I believe it takes a lot of pressure off of her to state the obvious and give her the comfort of knowing that we are completely comfortable and even proud of becoming a part of our family in that way. I know that every child is different, but I believe this helps our daughter BIG TIME because she looks nothing like the other 4 in our family. It is basically like we are taking the “elephant out of the living room” for her … and takes the pressure off of her. I hope that makes sense! I also believe this is part of the reason that she is so willing to talk and ask about her birth family and numerous foster homes – we are very open about her past and also the fact that she has not lived the same life as our biological children.

  • Emily - Wow, you have such a way with words and so much wisdom to share. We are in the process of adopting and there are so many complex questions to think about, it is so nice to hear a mother’s words from her heart. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Yes. Yes. Yes. The more I learn, the more I realize that every single adoption is so unique and special.

  • Hillary - As an adoptee myself, your sweet words ring true in my heart. Everyone whose life has been touched by the miracle of adoption definitely has different experiences. I was adopted when I was just 3 days old and my parents only had 21 hours notice that they were getting a baby girl. I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t adopted but it definitely wasn’t something talked about everyday. My parents were very open to answering any and all questions I had growing up (this was very hard due to my limited background story). They also spoke of my birth mother with nothing but love due to the incredible brave and selfless choice she made to.put my needs first & foremost. I’ll will forever be grateful for the woman, whom I’ve never met. It never ceases to amaze me how vastly wonderful the plans of our Father are….how He can author such a beautiful story that includes adoption. A couple of years ago, God whispered a dream in my heart towards international adoption. LOVE the mothers day tradition you and your sweet family have started.

  • Catherine - Well, I don’t know what happened there. I had trouble reading all the way to the end without my vision going blurry. Must be the darn pollen in the air! (I don’t have allergies….). ;)

  • Chri - Just beautiful…love hearing your words.

  • Nicole C - Oh how I love reading this! I’m such an advocate of adoption and that’s mainly because of diligently reading your blog. However, you are correct, you are a Mom of 5. So simple and sweet.

    I’m reading a story that I first heard about on MSN. A true story, of a Mom carrying a secret for nearly 80 years, that she had given up a baby girl. It’s called ‘The Waiting’ and it’s by Cathy LaGrow..if you are interested.

  • Angela - I recently watched the documentary Somewhere Between on Netflix. It follows 4 teenage girls adopted from Asia, its really good. Im a mom of 3 and love reading your journey.

  • Samantha - My husband and I have begun the first official steps of pursuing an open domestic adoption. I envy your support group, as we personally only know one other couple to have adopted. I hope that as we continue this journey we will be able to make those connections. The whole process is a little overwhelming sometimes. You and your family are such an inspiration and this blog really helps me feel encouraged that one day we might find ourselves celebrating Mother’s day in a similar way. :)

  • Stoich91 - Beautiful, as always. Congratulations!

  • Marnie - I have three daughters, the youngest of which came to us through open domestic adoption. T knows she was adopted because her brave birth mother has been part of her life and ours since T’s birth and we hope she always will be. We talk about it often and how God lead us all to each other so we could be one big family. Our family and her birth mother’s family have indeed become extended family and it is one of the greatest blessings of my life, to have found such beautiful, kind hearted people. I often tell T’s birth mother that I got a “two for one” deal. As for our daughter, she feels loved and secure and while I am sure there will one day be questions she will want to ask her birth mum, I thank God that their relationship is so good that those questions will not be awkward or change anything between them. We are lucky. Not every one has such a good experience with open adoption.

  • amber - Oh man. This made me cry. Precious girl. Awesome family. Amazing mama. I need a tissue…

  • Carolyn Williams - This is so great. You are a mom of five. For sure. No doubt about it. My mom was adopted, and her family is my family. We don’t share blood, but they’re my family through and through. It’s stronger than blood. It’s love. And you get it. You totally get it. And so will your precious daughter.

  • sherry - I love this. Right now, I have five kids. I’m not sure how long the five will be my five, or better yet which faces will fill those spaces in my heart, but I know that I am their mama, and their stories are beautifully shaped and redeemed. Thank you for this. It beautifully articulated exactly what’s on my heart lately.

  • Rebekah Carpio - Hello Mrs Ashley,

    My name is Rebekah and I my husband and I live in Athens, Ga. First, I wanted to say how talented you are- God has blessed you with amazing gifts and it is a wonderful thing that you are able to share that with others. I am encouraged every time I look at or read a post. Thank you for sharing your faith with others, as well.

    I am a teacher here in Athens, but also make money on the side by painting portraits :) I was wondering if you would allow me to paint a portrait of one or more of your children (FOR FREE)- That portrait you would then post on your blog with my email address :)You take such amazing, quality pictures of your 5 kids and every time I see a picture I think to myself, ‘ that would make an amazing portrait painting. ‘

    The majority of my portraits are done with acrylic and water on a 16X16 canvas. I know that this is s strange request but I have been thinking and praying about this for a while, now. My older sister ( who also loves your blog ) said that I should give this a shot- what do I have to lose :) Again- the portrait would be done for free.

    This year I am hoping to find more clients so that I am able to share my gifts with others and get a little more income as well :) In 6 days my husband and I are off to Mexico. When we come back we hope to start the process of raising money to go to Mexico full-time as missionaries. I say that because I wanted to let you know where all the portrait $ will go towards- that support for Mexico.

    I understand if you think I’m crazy :) I just wanted to give this a shot- and I have always wanted to communicate with you in some way and tell you thank you for having blessed my life and so many others through your blog. Keep up the good work, the good decorating, the good picture taking, the good mothering- I am sure that none of that comes ‘easy’ but God has given you so many talents and strengths. God bless you and your family- I mean that. Thanks a lot, again. And don’t worry about saying “no,” to me… your’e not going to lose a follower ;)

    Check out some of my paintings if you wish – bekamay.blogspot.com
    MOst of my portraits are on my facebook album, though.

    In Christ,

  • Shevaun - Ashley I follow your blog every time you put something up but this post strikes a lot of chords here in my home all the way around the world.

    We have 2 biological children and one locally adopted child. Ours is an open adoption. A very open adoption. We text and call my daughters Birth Mum on Mothers day and I spend a lot of time leading up to that day thinking about her and about my daughter and wondering how it will all play out as my daughter begins to grpw up.

    It always stings when people ask about my ‘real’ children. They’re all real. I feel exactly the same love and fears for my youngest that I do for the older two with a few extra parts thrown in relating to her special circumstances.

    Thanks for your post.(s)
    xxx From Perth Australia.

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - I’m getting caught up, and really just marvel at how well this post is written, friend. You so effortlessly share and describe what can sometimes be so difficult to express or paint with words. I love reading your journey and hearing your heart through it all, especially since I can hear your voice and imagine your eyes as you speak these things. love and hugs.

  • Lisa - Hi! I have checked in on your blog here and there over the past couple of years and I love your photography and your country life, but I was especially intrigued by the adoption story of your little one. I was adopted when I was 3 days old, and I am always interested in adoption stories. I will always have a special place in my soul for those who are adopted and those who adopt. I would love to share my adoption story with you. Could I get your email address? I would be more comfortable sharing it there rather than on comments. Thanks!