In late December, Chris turned to me in the kitchen one afternoon and asked, “Do you want to move to China with the kids for a few months?”

“Yes.”

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My response was one word spoken without hesitation, thought, or any questions. “Yes.” Ask me to travel WITH my crew and the answer is pretty much always going to be “Yes.”

He began sharing with me an opportunity he had that could potentially involve all of us moving to China and a couple months later here we are – boarding a plane on Monday!

Why are you going to China?

This is the biggest question we are asked, for obvious reasons! Chris currently works in the foster care/adoption realm, as well as, in business consulting. He has an opportunity to do what he does here alongside associates living in China. Basically, he will be doing much of the same things he does here, but in China. Thankfully technology allows him to also work remotely, so he can continue his work here. SnapShops is online, so I can work from anywhere.

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What do you plan on doing? Where are you staying?

We will spend most of our time in Beijing. However, we do have some bucket list locations we want to visit. We will be doing as much exploring as possible!

What will we be doing daily? – this is pretty unknown, at least for me and the kids. Once we arrive, we will begin figuring out schedules and plans. There are a lot of work-related opportunities for Chris and a few for me. As far as day to day life – we really have no idea. We know a couple things about the friend’s apartment we will be living in, but we really don’t need details, so we haven’t asked for them. We have done so much traveling (including a couple trips to China before), we feel comfortable just figuring it out once we get there.

How will you travel around? Planes. Trains. Buses. Taxis. Vans. Lots and lots of walking!


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How are you preparing the kids?

We are talking a lot about cultural differences and working to prepare them for those. They are used to living on 2 acres in a small town. We are moving them to Beijing! Thankfully, we know enough about the culture we feel like we can help them prepare and we have tools to help them handle culture shock if they face it.


Buses

What about kids and eating?

One of the most common questions we have been asked has been related to feeding our kids while in China. Honestly, this is not a big concern for us. Our kids are very willing to try new foods and we know they will like a lot of the food available. We do also want to stretch them and encourage them to try things they would not have the chance to eat at home – eating local food is part of the adventure of travel!

That being said, we are packing a few things for those times they need a taste of home and something familiar.  Over the course of this year I am partnering with CLIF Kid to promote their Come Out to Play initiative. I am thrilled that we will be able to take CLIF Kid Zbar Protein and CLIF Kid bars with us on our trip. We anticipate doing lots of hiking and day adventures, which having quick snacks with nutritious and organic ingredients on hand will be so helpful. I might hide all the chocolate chip ones for myself.

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We are also packing a few spices. We know over the course of 11 weeks, we all might want something a little familiar for our main meal. My sister introduced us to these Trader Joe spices – they are awesome on rice, noodles, eggs, avocado…basically everything.Packing-02

Food

Other things you are packing?

My goal is to take 2 medium sized duffle bags and then each person get 1 backpack. In short – we are packing light. Chris and I have been to China a couple times and I do not want to manage a bunch of bags and 5 kids in the airport and train stations. No thank you! We are pretty much just taking summer clothes and a few other items.

Each of us are taking a journal. I’m also tucking in some watercolors and brushes to use in our journals.

Some of our good friends created a “Campbell’s China Challenge” list for us. It is so amazingly thoughtful. On the list is a bunch of random things for us to try to accomplish while on our trip. The kids are supposed to take pictures/videos as they check things off list and text them back to their friends. Such a great idea. Our youngest has already claimed “Teach a Chinese friend to dab with you.”

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I’m packing my jump rope and yoga cards. Aside from missing friends and family, I’m not looking forward to getting out of my morning workout routine. I have a plan for working out there, but it won’t be the same as seeing my early morning class friends.

I’m also taking a Norwex cloth to help us fight germs and bacteria. My friend Mandy sent me one – she is an avid traveler and has lived overseas many times, I’m so grateful for her thoughtfulness!

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Answers to questions followers on IG asked:

What about your house and pets?

Some of our dearest friends close on their house the day we leave for China. They will be in transition as they build a new house. Thankfully, they agreed to stay in our house and keep watch over things (including the cat and chickens). Our dog will be staying at my in-laws on their farm. It is her favorite place, so we aren’t worried about her.

What kind of camera bag will I take?

I have a backpack that will hold my laptop and camera. I actually use a small insulated lunch bag for my camera. My camera fits snuggly in it and then I put it in the backpack. I will probably take my 50mm lens and 85mm lens.

What do you teach the kids regarding if they get lost in a foreign country?

Each of the kids will wear an ID band (see the picture above between the journals and paint). Inside the ID band is a spot to slide in a paper with all our contact info and the contact info of our local friends). We will go over standard safety procedures, how to recognize ‘safe’ people and at each location we visit we will have a specific plan.

Touristy & non-touristy goals? Experience as much of China, the people and the culture as we can!

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Will you be meeting your youngest’s birth family?

We will not – at least as far as I know! I will not share much about this part of her life online, but I will say it is extremely difficult for Chinese adoptees to reconnect with their birth family. Honestly, it feels impossible. We do hope to visit the town she is from and the orphanage she was in – she is looking forward to that happening. If I could sit down for a meal with any person – past or present – it would be her birth mom. I do not dream of meeting celebrities. I do dream of meeting the mom that heard our daughter’s first cries. However, that is not currently an option. We are doing a few proactive things regarding finding as many answers as possible for our daughter. (If you are an adoptive parent whose child is from China and would like more information on that topic, feel free to email me.)

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Do you need a visa? Yep…ours arrived this week. Nothing like cutting it close!

Will we be able to explore on our own (without the kids)?

I’m not sure, but I won’t want to. My kids are at such fun ages and it experiences are so much sweeter when they are with us. We will miss our date nights though!

What about the blog?

I do plan on blogging, but it might take a week or so to get things going. SO….next week I have a whole week of giveaways planned gearing up for Mother’s Day. Each day I’ll be giving away a 1 year SnapShop membership along with a fun prize from another company. Monday will be $100 gift card from Mpix…so, you’ll want to check in all next week.

I will be posting to Instagram as we travel. You can follow me on Instagram or see the pictures on the left sidebar.

Okay…I think that about covers it. Now I better start packing those duffle bags!

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  • Christi {Jealous Hands} - What an amazing opportunity for your family! Can’t wait to follow along. Safe travels! xo

  • Constanze - So exciting! Wishing you all the best and a wonderful time in China!

  • Steffany - Ashley – I am super excited for your family. What an AMAZING opportunity and I cannot wait to see your posts. I know you will find some incredible things to see/do! My husband is currently working overseas and I am flying with my 2 kids (5 and 8) in a week to meet him in Scotland for two weeks. Flying is NOT my most favorite thing to do but facing our fears is something I want to teach our kids. We can ALL do hard things, right?!? Even those of us that are 43!!!!!!! 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful, safe, and amazing trip!

  • Laura - How exciting! I just finished reading Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, “At Home in the World”, which tells the story of how her family travels around the world for a year. I’m convinced traveling with kids early and often equips them to be good travelers and makes them more empathetic to others. Your kids all seem like they’re at great ages to get a lot out of the experience!

  • Molly - My family has lived in China for many years – currently in Xi’an, but moving west in 2 days. I look forward to reading your impressions of living in China! We also have an adopted child from here – our journey was a little different because we live on this side of the ocean so I enjoyed reading about yours. Many blessings as you explore the place we call home. I’m sure you will be well cared for, but please feel free to email me (a perfect stranger!) if you have China questions. May your family experience the richness of following Him over the next weeks and months.

  • Nicolet - so exited for your bunch! Enjoy and can’t wait for your blogs and IG posts

  • amanda - So incredibly awesome–have an amazing time!

  • Beth Ann - Sounds like a wonderful adventure that you are approaching with an open mind and open heart! Enjoy!

  • Jenn - I am so excited for you guys
    What an awesome experience
    I can’t wait to read more about it
    Adventuring is the best

  • Tammy - Oh, how exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know the beautiful ladies at the orphanage will be filled with joy when they see your beautiful daughter again. And I know you will all make amazing memories together in China!

    Godspeed!

  • Chevon - My wee family and i moved from Chaoyang Park, Beijing to Florida last year! I miss Beijing and all my friends dearly 🙂

    My husband also consults in China doing computer graphics for movies so we love going back and forth. It sounds like you already know your way around but if you have any questions please feel free to ask – btw i LOVE your blog 🙂

    Our favorite things to do,

    Food
    Din Thai Fung
    Mr Shi’s dumplings
    Patbingsu (the best Korean shaved ice)
    Hutong food is always good
    Sanlitun Mall has a lot of expat food and also the Wangfujing mall

    Movies (in English)
    Sanlitun (i think its called Megabox)

    Supermarkets
    Jenny lou (expat food)
    Ikea
    carre four
    Jinkelong

    Fun *Cheap* shopping
    Honqiao Market a.k.a Pearl Market

    Honglingjin park was fun to walk around with the kiddos and they have little boat rides (most big parks do) and a play area one you have to pay to get in which was worth it (25 yuan per kid) it had a fun obstacle course and a small playground and trampoline.

    But seriously if you need any help feel free to reach out if your VPN allows 😉

  • Tiffany - So glad you have the opportunity to do this! God be with you! I can’t wait to “experience” China through your eyes! 🙂

  • Shira - Wonderful!!!! We hope to do something similar someday. I’m sure you’ll be soaking up every minute with your family, but please do post when you can – we are waiting to hear all about it.
    Safe and great travels. Bravo for going.

  • Ethel White - What a great adventure! Will be praying for your little family and look forward to your blogs

  • Emily Betzler - ASHLEY!!!

    This is sooooo exciting! I am so thrilled for you and your family, can’t wait for all the updates! Sending prayers and hugs.

  • Carrie - I’m SO excited for you and your family. What an amazing experience for all of you together! Also, crying about what you said about if you could meet anyone it would be her birth mom. Thank you for loving her and honoring her even from a distance.

  • Kelli Bryan - Eek! We’ll be in Beijing at the beginning of June to meet our youngest! Have a great trip!

  • Kathie - Can’t wait to see all that you guys get to do!! This would be a trip of a lifetime! Where did you get your journals? They look amazing! I hope you all have a fun and safe journey and look forward to seeing all your photos!

  • Abby - So excited to see China through you and your family! What memories you will make!

  • Carrie - I am so excited for your family. I have a friend moving with her family to China (2 year stay) for her husband will be teaching over there. I was so grateful to spend almost 3 weeks in China when traveled to bring our daughter home (she is 5 now). Guizhou was breath talking. I still have dream so f China and hope to go back many times. Looking forward to hearing of your youngest’ thoughts going back to her birth country. Well wishes and God Bless! Carrie
    P.S. I too would not want dinner with a celebrity but Myla’s birth mom. 🙂

  • Libby - What an amazing time for your family!!

    It’s useful to note that the Norwex cloth will *not* kill germs or disinfect, although it’s AMAZING for avoiding bringing along the germs that might want to hitchhike in things like a damp towel! https://www.facebook.com/thefriendlybiologist/posts/1941090806177296

    I hope you all have an incredible time — can’t wait to live vicariously through you!

  • Avenlea Bixby - Have so much fun!! I am happy you all get to go. Trips are the most fun when the whole family is together! 🙂

  • Patti - How super exciting! We are in Singapore for 3 weeks, while not the same we are loving the adventure of the city, the food, the subway and just proud of ourselves that we are getting around. Funny, we bought 4 of the beginners chop sticks yesterday to take home for friends. Enjoy your trip and looking forward to hearing your adventures.

  • Michelle - Enjoy your adventure! I’m excited to follow along on any parts you feel inclined to share. I would chose my daughters’ birthparents too … so much to thank them for.

  • Jen - What an amazing adventure for your family! It’s wonderful that you’re able to take advantage of such a great opportunity. Wishing you lots of fun times and new experiences ahead!

  • Marleen - My daughter came back from CHina this week, she had the opportunity to be an exchange-student with her middle school. It was 30 degrees Celsius in Beijing, light packing recommended indeed!
    After travelling around the hot-spots like the Great Wall and Forbidden City she stayed for a week with a Chinese student.
    The most difficult part was the time claimed by CHinese people, who wanted their picture taken with the Dutch students, around the hotspots. Some people were even very physical about it. The tall boys, and blond girls were the most in demand. Feeling like a celebrity!
    What an opportunity you provide for your kids, good parenting indeed! Have fun and please share regularly !

  • Donzel - Ugh! Reading this puts such an ache in my heart to travel! We’ll have to wait a bit until our kids are older before venturing out on such a trip. However, I’m SO excited that you & your family are able to do this. Remember, it’s not actually possible to overgram. 😉 Enjoy the prep time and the last days in Oklahoma!

  • Bobbi Jo - Hi Ashley! Enjoy the trip! We have lived two summers in Beijing, so I wanted to share that one of my favorite things was to sign the kids up for swimming lessons at the YMCA. I think there is only one location, so hopefully you can find it. We were the only Americans in the place so it was a unique experience for sure. Plus, the journey to get there was always an adventure. I marveled at the population density in the neighborhood around the Y.

    And lastly, you have to hit the flea market. So much fun. Have an AMAZING trip!!

  • Gisele - Hi Ashley,
    My name is Gisele, I follow your blog and do the snapshop! Originaly I am from Brazil, then move to Finland and for the last 3 years I am living in China. I live in a city Called Hangzhou, very close to Shanghai! My husband works at Nokia, I have 2 boys, 7 and 5 years old! Hangzhou is a very nice city, if you want come to Hangzhou or need Any help in China, Let me know!
    My cell phone is: 185 06575685

    Hugs,

    Gisele Palu

  • Gisele Palu - Hi Ashley,
    My name is Gisele, I follow your blog and do the snapshop! Originaly I am from Brazil, then move to Finland and for the last 3 years I am living in China. I live in a city Called Hangzhou, very close to Shanghai! My husband works at Nokia, I have 2 boys, 7 and 5 years old! Hangzhou is a very nice city, if you want come to Hangzhou or need Any help in China, Let me know!
    My cell phone is: 185 06575685

    Hugs,

    Gisele Palu

  • Anne Eicher - Praying for safe travels for your family! Y’all are sooo lucky! Our nephew and niece (and their 2 little children) are “studying in China” for 3 years… They’ve been there for a little over a year and are LOVING it! They are living in Lanzhou so it’s quite a bit different than Beijing. I’m looking forward to your reports… Wish you the best!

  • jenny - so excited to witness some of your travels! how fun! excited about the giveaways next week too!

  • Christina Standifer - So incredibly exciting!! Looking forward to reading about your journey and living it out through your photography!! Safe travels and blessings!!

  • Kara M - You will have a blast! A heart for travel is one thing I want to pass on to my kids. If you have the opportunity, GO! 😀

  • Amy cornwell - What an amazing adventure! I love that you said yes without hesitation. I’m excited to read of your adventures!

  • Ailie - That’s awesome! My husband, 2 boys (ages 4 and 8) and I are living in Indonesia for 7 months and it has been such a great experience! Challenging and rewarding.

  • Kristina Locker - I love Mpix prints!

  • Abbi Hearne - I am so excited for you guys! This is going to be an amazing trip, I can’t wait to follow along!

  • Elizabeth Smillie - Quite honestly, I don’t know what my favorite product would be! I’ve been wanting to try them for quite a while, but between either shortages of money or time (or sometimes both), haven’t been able to. I’d love to try their prints and some of the things you’ve talked about in the past (the standing photos you had on your family room shelf for a while, I think?)
    And I’d be over the moon to participate in a Snapshop!!!!

  • Renato - Congrats! Nice Job! You pics are incredible

Guess what….I photoshopped my ‘Ashley can’t look at a camera’ headshot on a graphic my friend Ruth posted…GL_Motherhood_Series

Really, I can’t look at the camera because I am distracted by Joy Prouty’s floral crown. My face totally says, “I want a fun crown like Joy!”

Okay, I didn’t Photoshop myself on there, but every time I look at it that is what I think. In my head I also start singing, “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t make sense.” Oh hey super cool ladies, want to come hang out at my house someday with me?

In all seriousness, my dear friend Ruth Simons of Gracelaced is doing a series on motherhood this week. She interviewed 5 moms on the topic of motherhood. I’m not sure how I made the list, but I’m sure grateful she asked. As part of the series, I submitted a Bible verse that is meaningful to me in regards to motherhood, along with my favorite flowers and colors…and Ruth did her thing…

ACampbellGracelaced-02It came out so perfect! If you line up all the prints in her Mother’s Day collection I feel like anyone could have guessed which one is mine. We are a homeschooling family, which means my kids are around me a lot! Not only do they hear nearly every word I speak, they pick up on all my unspoken thoughts and feelings (the meditations of my heart). I want my words to bring life to my kids. Often what comes out of my mouth is the overflow of my mind and my heart. When I consider what I want my kids to hear and see in me – I want it to be those things that are pleasing to God. If the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are pleasing to God, well, they will also be the types of things I want my kids to hear and pick up from me. The second part of the verse reminds me that God is my Rock and my Redeemer. I do not stand on the shifting sand of culture, the tide of opinions of others, or lies I might be tempted to believe about myself. My aim is not be to please others, but the One who is my Rock and Redeemer.

Today Ruth is sharing my full interview on her blog- there is a bit about what surprised me about motherhood, what routines help me thrive and my advice to new moms.

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The sale will run until Sunday, April 30th. Use the code MOTHERSDAY20 to get 20% off all items in the GraceLaced Shoppe. All orders that include an item from the Mother’s Day Collection will receive a free “Strength and Dignity” 5×7 print, limit one per order.

GL_Sale_Freebie

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  • Sarah A - This was a great interview. At the risk of sounding like a total groupie (um, because I am, haha), I am so thankful for your blog and specifically for your encouraging words to mothers. I’ve been reading your blog for 4-5 years now, and watching your family grow and seeing the way you love and parent your kids has been such a blessing to me. It’s helped me to see the extraordinary moments in my ordinary days, and to seek ways to incorporate into our NOW who and what I want for them THEN. Just this morning I took time out from my “need to” task of folding laundry to hide around the corner and take a video of my littlest doing one of her favorite things: spinning while she listens to her Sofia the First CD with a princess dress on. In that moment, I thought of your blog and your encouragement to see my kids and to enjoy them for who they are. Every stage is better than the last – kids really are so fun!

  • Georgia Davis - Oh my goodness girl. That is your head next to Sally Clarkson’s. Her book “mission to motherhood” was a game changer for me. Very Awesome!

  • windie d - Thank you for sharing this – not only for your insight, but now I have mother’s day gifts ordered!

  • Ruth Simons - Your interview is a treasure to me, and I’m so grateful to have it on my blog…but even more so is your friendship. Praying for you as you go on your adventure, and can’t wait to see all that the Lord does in and through the Campbells.

  • Cynthia - NEVER a dull reading!!! Your interview brought tears of joy!!! You’re on the right path…continue SHINING!!!! Thanks for sharing!!! I ALWAYS look forward to your posts!! HUGZ 🙂

A week from today we are boarding a plane to live in China for a couple months. There are a million things I should be doing, but they feel a little pointless until a few days before we leave. For instance packing…can’t really do that until the weekend arrives. We can’t pack up our clothes, we kind of need those. I also need to deep clean my house…also pointless because we are living here. I do have on my ‘to do’ list to write a blog post this week with more details about what we will be doing in China and why we are going.

Until then…lets take a moment to appreciate this ridiculously cute 5 year old in her great grandma’s hat and her sister’s ‘fashion’ glasses…

5.24.17-15.24.17-25.24.17-3She came running down the stairs looking like that. I said, “You know I am going to have to take your picture.”

“I know,” she said as I grabbed my camera.

Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate the wonderful world of pre-teen and teenage boys. I was inside working on my computer (hint, hint…big giveaway week happening on the ole’ blog next week!) when I heard laughter coming from outside the window.
5.24.17-45.24.17-5Their current obsession is the iMovie app…so many movies being made at my house now. These boys are so much fun. They are endlessly funny and creative. They surprise me every day with their randomness and genius wit. When my kids were younger I would often laugh AT them (not in a bad way, but in a ‘toddlers do the funniest things’ way). This age I still laugh AT them, but I also get to laugh WITH them. I can’t wait to explore China with them!

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  • Carrie - She is adorable!! And all your littles are getting bigger. 🙂 Love your son’s tshirt and their boyish shenanigans. They are all a treasure. Best wishes for packing and traveling mercies. 🙂

  • Mrs. T - I love Corbett’s shirt. What an amazing opportunity for your family to travel. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

  • Kasey White - I love that you get to go to China for so long! We loved taking our sons with us when we went to China to adopt their brother. Exploring China with them as a family of five will always be one of my favorite things ever! Going for two months would be amazing! Enjoy! And I can’t wait to enjoy your photos and posts!

  • Byron - Tell the boys to get a picture of someone taped to the Great Wall!

    Your youngest is following in the fashionista footsteps of her older sister! Too cute!

    I expect the family is way excited for the trip! I don’t understand the need to clean the house before you go….

  • Daise - Your kids are amazing, and I love Corbett’s t-shirt.
    Have a good trip you all!

  • Tammy - I just want everyone to remember I predicted her becoming a super model awhile back. :o)