In our first 19 days here, we walked 104 miles. We passed the 200 mark this week! With all that walking comes tired bodies. Sometimes those tired bodies crash in their beds. Other times sleep hits the moment they sit down on a bus, in car, at a table and even when eating ice cream.

I’m the only one who is unable to sleep in random public locations…so jealous of the rest of them.


Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIt is safe to say when it comes to travel they’ve got the hang of being adaptable! Now, if I only I could pick up their sleeping skills!

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  • Heather - So jealous! I am also unable to sleep in random places. It’s a gift for sure.

  • Beth - I love the picture of your husband! He looks gigantic in that seat!

  • Debbie C - That photo of Chris made me laugh…my hubby would do the same thing. He can sleep anywhere. I am more like you!

  • Cathy S. - I have the same issue of not being able to sleep in public places, don’t like people watching me sleep.

  • Byron - Like you, I cannot sleep (easily) when I travel. The 8+ hour plane trip to Russia was a nightmare of exhaustion. I am told that I did fall asleep at one point though. Exhaustion does that, I guess.

    So your problem is that you are in too good a shape; your body can handle it. LoL! We miss you in CF! God bless your travels. St. Nickolas watch over your family!

  • Tiffany - I admire all! of your adaptability– it’s such a great gift you’ve given your kids. 🙂

  • Helen - I know it wasn’t the point of post… but the little one’s hair in the first photo!!! Wow!!! Gorgeous!

My first day at New Day I met Ganlu. Within minutes I learned that she has the honor of capturing everyday life for the kids at New Day. I glanced at her computer to see folders with THOUSANDS of photos of each child. Keep in mind many of the kids are under the age of 3. When a child is adopted Ganlu transfers all of the photos to a thumb drive that is given to parents.

I tried so hard to hold it together when she told me what she does.

Ganlu captures daily life – the little things that make each child unique and the ways they are interacting with their world and those around them. She is capturing stories that their parents will only learn because Ganlu picks up her camera every day to tell them.

I try to tell her what a gift she is giving these children and her families, but my words will never be able to fully communicate it to her.


We have less than 10 photos of our youngest daughter’s first 14 months and each one is a posed shot that was used for paperwork purposes. Some adoptive parents even have less. I can try to piece together information to guess what daily life was like for my daughter during that year, but I will never know what her smile looked like as a 4 month old. I won’t know if she ever sat in grass or she was snuggled when held.

I’m incredibly grateful for Ganlu and those like her across the globe. The ones that know a child’s life and story are worth celebrating and capturing. The ones that pour their gifts and talents into vulnerable children. The ones who fill in gaps the best way they can until a child is placed in the arms of his or her parents.

Our gifts are meant to poured out into others. Several times a day I watch Ganlu pick up her camera and leave the office. I know she’s headed to where the children are…she’s off to tell their stories. She’ll return, load the pictures on her computer and sit in awe of the beauty of the kids she loves. For the little ones at New Day, their moms and dads may not be capturing this season, but I am so grateful Ganlu is.

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  • Diana - What a fantastic job to have and be able to share that with parents! Gives me the warm fuzzies!

  • Carrie Campbell - This is awesome! What a gift. 🙂

  • AmyL - This makes my heart happy

  • Lisa K - That is wonderful! What a beautiful gift she is giving the children and their parents to be.

  • Nicole L. - How perfect! That brought tears to my eyes. What an awesome way to share the gift God gave her.

  • Kelly - Thank you Ganlu – for your work, your passion, your willingness to use your gifts! What a blessing!!! Kelly

  • Kristin S - What a ministry she has!

  • Kath Chapman - Best. Post. Ever.

  • Cathy S. - Wow that is just awesome! We have a few pics from both our daughters orphanages but most were posed. We had sent cameras to both orphanages knowing we might not get anything but some were taken right before we arrived. Still glad to have whatever they took the time to take for us. Prized possessions those pictures certainly are.

  • Roxana - Oh, how beautiful! Makes me cry. Thank you for sharing!

  • Tiffany - Ugly, ugly cry. *Beautiful… thankful & adding Ganlu and her camera to my daily thinking-of–prayers-list~ <3 *Thank you for sharing such beauty, Ashley.~ **Praying daily for you all as you camp-out! 🙂

  • Cynthia - Wonderful story!!! YEAH for Ganlu!!!

  • Nicolet - Wow what a great way to capture those kids!

  • Gretchen - Oh, what a wonderful gift she is giving to those children and their families! I would love to have photos of my daughter before we were with her. My daughter is from Moscow, Russia and the only photos we have of her were still shots of a video they took to send us when we first received her information. She was 14 months old when she came home. We had visitied her at 11 months, 13 1/2 months, and then when we brought her home at 14 1/2 months so we have photos of those times, but nothing else, except for the one short video. She is 12 now and I would love to have photos and information for her.

Nearly 20 years ago Chris spent a summer backpacking through rural parts of China. I’ve harbored a bit of jealousy all this time. This is my third trip to China and I’m finally getting my backpacking trip in – with 5 kids!

We’ve known we would travel south in order to make a second visit to the orphanage our daughter spent her first year. Other than that – we had no definite plans. Two weeks ago we thought we had a plan (I think I even posted something about it), well, we changed our minds and are doing a totally different type of trip. We taking our kids on their first international backpacking trip!

The next 2 weeks hold 34 hours on hard-sleeper trains (google it). 3 hours on a plane. 8 hours in a van. 4 hours on a day train. And too many hours to count on buses, the subway and our feet. 2 Airbnbs. 4 hostels. Mountains. Lakes. Rivers. Rice terraces. I’m so giddy, I might explode.

Once we get back I’ll write a post about how we planned and booked the trip. I’m sure something will go wrong, so I’ll wait to write those posts when I can include ‘what not to do’ too!

As far as packing goes – I thought I would share how we are doing it for 7 people. We will use 2 large backpacking packs (one for Chris, one for me). Corbett will have a medium pack and the rest of the kids will have small ones.

What we are packing inside:

  • 3 pairs of clothes each & swimsuits (yep, we aren’t going to smell so great)
  • clothespins, rope and detergent to do laundry in available sinks
  • Waterproof bag (for my camera if we take a paddle boat)
  • 7 sleeping bag liners (Sleeping bags are too hot for this season. The hostels and trains have bedding, but I’d rather us have liners to sleep inside too.)
  • Toilet paper – it isn’t usually provided (Sidenote: in public places I have become a 100% fan of the squatty potty #NoSeatGerms!)
  • Wet wipes
  • Swimmer’s towels (the quick drying absorbent kind)
  • Sunscreen, hats, bug repellent, first aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • My DSLR, 50mm lens, 85mm lens
  • 2 headlamps
  • SNACKS. WATER. SNACKS. – keep kids happy not hungry!
  • A few things for the orphanage
  • 2 decks of cards

Of course, we are bringing instant coffee and a variety of snacks (our few remaining CLIF Kid bars and lots of local snacks). My crew can handle just about anything as long as they are not hungry. Once someone gets hungry things go downhill and emotional fast. Our snack bag for the first leg of the trip is nearly as big as the main backpack! We will be able to purchase additional food and snacks, but I’ve learned its better to have dirty clothes than no food with 5 kids!

There is a very good chance we will not be able to access wifi over the next 2 weeks. If I get the chance, I might post something to Instagram, but probably not.

However, when there are no posts on the blog, I hear from the grandparents. SO I’ve already written posts for the next two weeks and scheduled them to go live. You are welcome, Moms.


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  • Debbie C - You all amaze and inspire me! Have a wonderful trip, can’t wait to hear all about it!

  • Tamara - In general I would say that its better having dirty clothes than being hungry… not matter how many kids are involved ;):D

    Have a good trip!

  • AshleyAnn - Tamara – Yes! So true…probably for adults too!

  • Carol - Thank you?

  • kr0zne - im3ycw42a6h2bvwrd6

  • Krystal - I’ve heard hand sanitizer is great for eliminating underarm odor. Just something to think about packing in case there are no showers at some of your pit stops 🙂

  • JuliAnne - Oh my goodness! I am SOOO excited for you all!! I would love to go backpacking with my husband. I’ll patiently await your posts to find out how you managed with 5 kids! You’re a super mom. Have fun!!!

  • Steffany - EEEEEEEEEEE!!!! I am giddy for you! Cannot wait to hear about your two week adventure…safe travels 🙂