Little One is two!

This weekend we celebrated Little One turning two.

Last year we threw a big party in her honor, this year I wanted just a simple little gathering in the backyard.

I made a few fabric chandeliers inspired by Sarah’s…mine were rough versions because I had three kids wanting to help make them! Everything else was just decorations we already had on hand. I crave simplicity right now.

Little One opted out of all the cookies I baked…smoothie for the birthday girl.

We put a little bit of her Pappy’s homemade ice cream in a bowl for her after her smoothie, sang Happy Birthday, and let her think about trying some…

It wasn’t a bite, but a lick off the spoon counts around here. My friend Shannon snapped a family photo for me. I love it. So true to life. My crew.

Before the party, I took a few birthday pictures of my girl. She has recently become quite enamored with one of my old cameras. Thankfully, it is a cute little camera so it worked for pictures – kept her happy and I got to get some pictures. My mom made her dress (FireCracker in it two years ago) and her headband is from My Little Dear on etsy.

The teepee is c/o Playhaven – it is usually upstairs in the studio, but we bring it outside a lot right now for shade. It fits all my kids!

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” ~ Psalm 40:3

Before we were matched with our daughter, I prayed that verse everyday. I prayed that God would put a new song in my child. A song of healing and restoration. The day we got the email with her information, the subject of the email had her name…which began with Song. I was praying God would create a new song in her, little did I know her actual name would be Song! We kept Song as her middle name. She is our Song. Watching her completely transform over the last 10 months has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. She has transformed our family. She has given us a new song.

There is so much joy having her home this year. Last year we had a huge birthday party for her. It was a way to make it through the weekend being so far from her. This year her big sister woke her up singing “Happy Birthday”. Her brothers gave her all kinds of special treatment. The day was filled with laughter, twirling and singing. It was filled with love and overflowing hearts. And more gratitude than words can contain. It was a beautiful, glorious day.Β  My daughter in my arms, on her birthday. The Best.

In the celebrating, there was also sadness. A birthday is the day you celebrate when someone was born. We sure celebrate the birth of our daughter, but I also feel great sadness for the loss that is part of her birthday. I feel loss for her mom that heard her very first cries. I feel loss for that broken relationship. I feel loss for the questions and struggles my daughter might face. I feel loss that I didn’t get to see what she looked like as a newborn or know little things like how much she weighed.

And yet, I’ve learned over the last year that some of the most beautiful parts of life are tapestry woven with pain and joy and grace. Some would say that in acknowledgingΒ  the sadness, you take away from the joy or gratitude for the gifts in front of you.Β  I think the presence of pain or sadness does not negate the joy or gratitude. Sometimes it is that pain that heightens the senses to the joys. I love how God does that…how sometimes healing comes through the hurt.

This weekend I celebrated the birth of my youngest daughter.

I celebrated the woman that gave her life and the ability to sing.

I celebrated that I get to spend a lifetime helping her find her song.


back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Carrie - Happy Birthday Little One…I’m sure her life will be filled with happiness, security and just a little bit of craziness! I just have to say too how much I love the cape that Firecracker is rocking!!

  • kelsey arrowood - so gorgeous. the last paragraph. beautifully written. God is so good! and your little girl is so blessed to have you as her momma!

  • Kelli - I love this post for so many reasons! Happy birthday, Little One! What a blessing she has brought to so many. For me, she is a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness and provision. You are right, times of hurt are so difficult, but the joy that comes in the healing is sweet indeed. Praise the Lord!

    I love the family pic!

  • RachelC - Beautiful girl. Beautiful story. Beautiful song. Love everything about this post…especially that pic of Firecracker hugging Little One’s face. Such tenderness.

  • Lyn - Beautiful.

  • Jenni - Some would say that in acknowledging the sadness, you take away from the joy or gratitude for the gifts in front of you. I think the presence of pain or sadness does not negate the joy or gratitude. Sometimes it is that pain that heightens the senses to the joys.

    Okay, I have spent a lifetime trying to describe this and you just bust it out like nothing on a Monday! lol. I have also spent out 5 solid minutes trying to describe in detail how much I love this! Still, no words. I have realized through the years reading your blog that I will never get my hands to type how much I love the things that you post. They mean more to me then you know. This little bit above is going on the refrigerator, and a copy for my wallet! Lol (Seriously:))

  • Jenni - Oh and the most important! Happy Birthday Little One! I remember that birthday post last year. It’s so hard to believe that she is sitting there rocking pony tails. Beautiful pictures:)

  • Sarah - Goosebumps as I read your reflections of her birth….So wonderful to see how far she’s come! Praise be to God!

  • kimberly oyler - “And yet, I’ve learned over the last year that some of the most beautiful parts of life are tapestry woven with pain and joy and grace.”

    that is the very best thing you have ever typed. happy birthday to your sweet girl.

  • Lisa Efaw - Thank you! Beautifully spoken. Happy Birthday wishes and kisses.

  • Celia - Oh goodness…. I’m sobbing. I just love this. Happy Birthday sweet girl. May the Lord continue to bless her and her special family!!

  • Bethany - Happy Birthday, Little One… what a wonderfully bit step, licking that spoon for your birthday! Wise child to start with homemade ice cream! And let me just say, Firecracker was made to be a big sister… you can just see it in every fiber of her being when she’s with her little sister. (It reminds me of my two girls!) Love it!

  • Sara W - Love your thoughts on pain and joy. Beautiful post! Happy Birthday Little One.

  • Julie - Just simply beautiful. Your words to your emotions is breathtaking. Thank you.
    Adore the sweet decorations!

  • Jacci - Oh, Ashley! I can SEE her growth. I can SEE, even from a distance and even through the mediums of your blog and photography, the love, the joy, the healing, the restoration, the trust, the security. I’ve told you before that I believe the Lord purposed to bring me and many others to pray for all these things for LO in a way I can’t explain. All I know is I sat in my family room late one night praying and weeping my heart out for this little girl days before you met her… and I believe He used those prayers for her, for you, but also for me. To change ME. I cannot thank you enough for being open… for sharing your Song with us! With me. A million congratulations, and squealy Happy Birthdays, and hugs. Praise be to God. Praise be to His Name!

  • Jacci - I wrote a typical long-winded comment and the Internets ate it!!!

    I praise God – it is HIS work and it really is marvelous in our eyes. A million congratulations, a million squealy Happy Birthdays, and a million hugs!!! What a glorious answer to prayer ALL of it is. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your sweet Song with us. With me. You have blessed me beyond measure. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday, Little One!!!! <3

  • Annie Page - Happy Birthday Little One! She is truly a little doll. I think acknowledging the pain is a good thing, it’s just when you linger on it you steal joy. We’ll be bring our daughter home from Ethiopia soon, I anticipate lots of joy and lots of pain. Since she’s older she’ll be able to share with us when she’s ready her world prior to adoption and I am grateful that I can take her hand and guide her forward in life when her mother and father could not. It is bittersweet and heartbreaking, but I am grateful that God has given us the opportunity to do it. Little one will have struggles, but she could not ask for more love or support – from you and your family. She will most definitely find her song!

  • sarah - Such a beautiful post. Happy Birthday Little One!

  • Sherly - Happy birthday beautiful girl! God bless you and may He continue to use you in tremendous ways! Hugs & kisses, from shanghai.

  • Alice H - Happy Birthday to Little One!! She is beautiful inside and out.

  • andy - Happt birthday. What sweet pictures

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - Song is a beautiful middle name! Lovely! May God’s love and grace always be the song from her lips! Happy birthday to her!

  • Nicolle - Happy birthday, Little One! You are so precious and so loved.

  • Kerri K. - This is beautiful!

  • Lori - What a beautiful post. Happy Birthday Little One!!

  • Kimberly Troth - Beautiful! Happy 2nd Birthday Little One πŸ™‚

  • Lynn - Happy Birthday Little One……A special day for the entire family!!!

  • erin - beautiful, touching post. Happy Birthday LIttle One!!

  • Jillian - When I first started reading your blog you had first adopted Little One. It is incredible how much she has grown in such a short time! Happy Birthday to that beautiful girl!

  • Denise - Happy birthday to your precious Little Song! You bless us all as you share these windows into your life, both pain and joy as you so beautifully wrote about here.

  • Sandi - We are a product of our experiences and what we make of them. We can choose to dwell on joyful moments or the depths of sorrow. Taking a step back to see how it is all woven together in our life is something we all should do to regain our perspective. Thanks for the reminder. You said it so well. God bless your tender heart! ; )

  • Dawn Ritchie - Happy Birthday Little One.

  • Jackie - Beautiful!! I think simple parties at home are the best! Thank you for sharing.

  • Brandi - I can’t remember how I came upon your blog in the first place. All I know is that from the very first time I read it, I was hooked. Your words, your pictures, your style, your honesty, your family, your view on life….it touches me every single time I read it. That last paragraph – thank you for putting into words what sometimes I can only feel and not express. Although pain is hard, I know God uses it for his glory. Thank you for laying out such a beautiful picture of that. And happy birthday to Little One…from experience, summer birthdays are the best πŸ˜‰

  • Amanda - Happy Birthday, Little One! May God continue to bless you and keep you safe. Hugs and kisses, sweet baby girl. =)

  • Ashley - Happy birthday! So happy you are able to celebrate this birthday with her. Cheers to many more!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Amen to that!

  • Kiki - Happy Birthday, Little One! I have loved watching you grow and cannot wait to see what this year has to bring for you and your family. Thanks again Ashley for sharing your family stories with us! πŸ™‚

  • mc - Feliz cumpleannos pequennita! Sigue cantando tu cancion

  • sylvie la GB - Happy Birthday, beautiful little one !
    Gorgeous post !!
    Sylvie, and Iris, born in VietNam, both in France

  • Kara M - PRECIOUS!! Love the pictures. Love your words on pain, suffering, joy and gratitude!!

  • Maureen - My 21 year old son just came by, glanced at the computer screen and said, “Oh my gosh, is that Little One? She’s beautiful!” We’ve journeyed as a family through your journey as we’ve navigated our own. Your family has been assimilated, but only in the best of ways. My fave picture is Little One licking the spoon and the look on Chris’ face. Oh my, what a Dad he is! It’s lovely how true blessings are never one way but flow all around. Your entire family looks saturated.

  • Karen - Our little Lucy is from China as well. I love following your blog. We had decided on her name 4 years before we brought her home. When we got our referral call, we found out that her name in Chinese was pronounced ‘Lu-chee’. I just had to share, since you had a similar experience with your little ones name. God is good! Happy birthday to your precious girl.

  • Lisa - So beautifully written! Bless your sweet girl on her second birthday! This post brought tears of joy…while you were celebrating Little One’s second, we were celebrating a dossier finally on it’s way to China!

  • Ashley E. - Hi Ashley,

    My little one is biased against all vegetables (I don’t even know how that happens). Your blog has me thinking that a smoothie might be the way to sneak them into her diet.

    Have any recipes that are toddler approved!?

    Another Ashley

  • Abi - What a gracious and lovely person you are.

  • Dana at Happy Little Lovelies - With a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes….happy, happy birthday to your beautiful Song. I just know that He loves singing over her.

  • Avenlea - Thanks for sharing her middle name! Happy Birthday, Little One!

  • Abby - Beautiful as usual, Ashley! Thank you so much for sharing this. I love Little One in her pigtails!!

  • Rachelle - Happy Birthday Little one:)

  • Marla - This is so beautiful. Your words and your story are truly an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing. We have gone through quite a journey with our little girl and my heart screams yes with that last paragraph. May God continue to bless your sweet family.

  • Lindsay - I just wanted to let you know I was blessed by this post. Today is our little man’s fourth birthday. He is still in China. We are waiting as The Lord has called, but today has been a little tougher than the rest. I am looking forward to one year from now. It will be wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ali - Being a busy mom, I don’t expect a response but I just felt compelled to write something.

    I’m a single, late 20s female and since I was a child, I felt that eventually I would adopt. Now that I’m about to embark on going back to school to get my Master’s to become a Nurse-Midwife, I feel that I’m almost in that place where it would be time to start the process.

    You sharing your journey, tough moments and joyous ones on the path to getting Little One home has been inspiring. Your sharing all of this has opened me up to adopting a child with a cleft lip/palate. It wasn’t something I ever imagined I could handle but you have shown me that those struggles are just a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

    Thank you for sharing this with the world. You inspire more than you now.

  • Gina - I love how God puts families together in a way that man never could. Happy Birthday Little One!!! That is a great family photo!!

  • Mariko - Happy Birthday Litte One! I love daddy’s expression on all of the photos when she gives her ice cream to him – I can just see how strong their bond is and how much he enjoys being with his daughter! Ashley, you are my inspiration – thank you very much for sharing your precious journey with us.

  • Kimberly Dial - I couldn’t agree more Ashley. I too think that the pain heightens our sense of the joyous, the miraculous … such a lovely post. I’ve loved that you have shared your family’s journey to and with your sweet “Song”. As it often the case, I write thru tears … have you ever thought of writing a novel? πŸ˜‰ Happy birthday Little One!

  • rio guinn - Happy birthday little one!!!awesome kid!!!You are so loved by the whole world…you are so beautiful everyday!!!

  • Jill - You have such a way of putting emotion into words! I lost my mom to cancer last year while I was 5 months pregnant with twins. When my 4 year old was born life was easy and blissful and no one talked much about cancer. I worried I wouldnt experience the same joy with the twins since they were born smack dab into my grief, but you are so right. Pain has an acute way of making sweet things that much sweeter. I now appreciate life two-fold, for me and my mom. All of your little ones are charming, will pray for continued healing for little love as your family faces upcoming procedures.

  • Jenny - Happy Birthday Little One!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Happy Birthday, Little One! Ashley – I am so happy for you that can give her a big birthday hug!

  • Annie - Love reading your blog. Especially posts like this. Adoption is such a beautiful thing, and specifically YOUR family’s story is so very beautiful. My roommates have gotten used to coming home to find me staring at a computer screen bawling… 99% of the time it’s because I’m reading an adoption blog. (Especially when families finally get to take their adoptive children home – good grief!!) I hope to adopt too one day… but I’ve gotta get the husband thing figured out first. πŸ˜‰ (minor details, haha) Until then, I’m enjoying living vicariously through you! Thanks for blogging.

  • Nina von Butterzart - Dear little Song,

    since last August I read your mummys Blog and I’m really happy to see you grown up. How fast live run!
    All my best wishes, full of joy, happyiness and health for you from far, far away!


  • Jennifer - What BEAUTIFUL pictures of Little One! She is such a darling little girl. Happy birthday to your little Song. πŸ™‚

  • MJ - What if trials of this life, are His mercies in disguise? (Laura Story)

    Praising The Lord for this Song in your heart…

  • Jenny B. - Beautiful. The party decorations, her cute little pony tail, your words… Whenever I hear that song that says “joy comes in the morning,” I always see the word as “mourning” instead of “morning.” I think both are true. πŸ™‚ Happy (belated) birthday, Little One!

  • amber - Thank you for sharing her & your journey with us. It is just beautiful & keeps growing more. And Happy Birthday to your Little One:)!!

  • Chantel - She is so adorable! Thanks for sharing her birthday with us, so glad you could spend it with her this year.

  • Susan Morris - What a blessing to see these pictures & hear your “mother’s heart”! I bless your spirits to partner with the Holy Spirit of the One True God to bring God’s design to your spirits, souls & bodies over this next year! Love you guys!

  • Cindy Steffan - Such a sweet sweet post Ashley!

  • Katherine - Beautiful photos of a beautiful girl on a beautiful day. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stephanie - I just love how your husband is looking at her when she puts the spoon to her mouth. He looks so proud and like such a dad. I love it. Happy Birthday to her! I love how God works too…praying that verse over her and then it being part of her name. So like our God to plan out those details!

  • Cheri - That is so beautiful! You made me cry. I love it! Your family is so big and beautiful! I would love to have a family that big that also included adoptions but I don’t think I am strong enough for it. God bless your beautiful heart and beautiful Song! You have given her a reason to sing!

  • Kathleen - happy birthday little one! it is a very good post mama. it made my heart ache in a good way! May God bless you and your family more.

  • Vincentia - Hi Ashley..I just found your blog and started to read just 1 month ago.
    All these time, I just read your part “our adoption journey”. It’s just like found my favorite book, cannot put it down till I read it all
    You touched my heart with your long long way to get your little one home..then it surprises me a lot when I click “Home” and found this post about your little one’s 2nd Birthday,tears running down my cheeks..Ohhh…She’s veryy beautiful little girl, 2 years old already.. May God Bless you and whole Family..Thank you for sharing your story..

    Jakarta- Indonesia

  • Meg - Hey Ashley!

    I tried to find a better way to contact you but I wanted to ask permission/let you know that I used some of your beautiful words about your daughters birthday in my son’s birthday post. I linked back to you. But PLEASE let me know if you’d rather I not do that and I will remove it immediately. I completely understand. Your words said exactly what I feel on our kid’s birthdays, so thank you for articulating your feelings!

  • Tami - Worded so well! Love how you explained that pain can heighten our senses to the joys in life! I’m with you on that 100%. Thank you!

  • simone - i just found you and your blog on pinterest, i think i’ve been about one hour and just can’t get enough of your beautiful family, stories, miracle of your little one, just can’t get enough…that is exactly the way i think too…i agree with every word you type, reading through your stories and just admiring how wonderful God is, how he has wonderful purposes for us, if we let Him do His work in us and through us…i will be checking constantly now your blog…something interesting, i couldn’t stop crying, while reading your blog, i would jump from subject to subject, thinking ok this one doesn’t look “heavy” i don’t think i will cry…the interesting part is…it was not a cry of pain, or feeling bad for you or the family(you how sometimes we feel like that), no…i can’t really explain…i believe it was the Holy Spirit touching me though your words/pics…hope he continues doing to all people that reads…touch our heart and put His desire!!!! I’vebeen praying for your little one, while looking at her gorgeous pictures!!! May God, Our Lord and Savior bless your family with a lot of health, love, peace, continue leading you and your husband in this wonderful mission called “parenting”!!! God bless you all*_* xoxo simone

  • elizabeth H - BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL girls!
    “Blessing upon blessing to you Little One.
    May the Father continue to reveal His overwhelming pleasure in you”
    xoxo Ashley … my prayers are w. you!

  • tracy a - ok…crying! you have a way with words friend. so glad you get to celebrate fullness this year. Praise our good God!

  • Heather - Ashley, you are simply amazing.

  • Holly - what a beautiful testimony of how good our God is and clever too! Love the verse and her name is Song. I agree, walking in life with sadness and joy, grief and thankfulness, enables healing and brings us closer to the Father. Thank you for your words!

  • misty - I am, once again, trying to catch up on all of my favorite blogs. On 7/6 a good friend of mine got married & she asked me to photograph it {which is crazy because I have NEVER ever photographed a wedding & am just learning, but she trusted me…} The preacher was Larze {?} spell? So while everyone was getting ready, he was introducing himself to everyone & he asked if I have a blog. {yes, a itty bitty only family reads it blog} & he said, Have you heard of Under The Sycamore? {OHMYGOSHHAVEIEVERHEARDOFIT?AREYOUCRAZY?ITSMYFAVEEEE!} is what I wanted to say, but I said, yes… πŸ™‚ He said you’re great friends with his wife. πŸ™‚ Anyway, I just though, what a small world. So glad to hear surgery for your sweet girl went well. prayers for her being sent your way! <3

  • AshleyAnn - Misty – that is awesome. Lars is an incredible guy with a great family. I’ve known his wife since 9th grade. Small world indeed!