Every now and then I have a melting pot post. It is one of those days – the kind where I have a lot of random things to announce and choose to do it all in one big random-filled post!

Let’s start with a super fun announcement…..Mother + Daughter Be Crafty is coming back to Oklahoma! Registration is now open. You can find all the details on the Be Crafty website. This workshop filled within a day last year. I expect it to fill really fast again. To top it off, this year it will be held at Restore House in Broken Arrow! Click here to register. You can see what last year was like, but checking out last year’s post.

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Next up….there is a new SnapShop lesson! My friend Ruth Simons (Gracelaced) let me interview her regarding how she uses her iPhone to promote and grow her business. Ruth is sharing a special discount today. I am not sure if it will be on her blog or Instagram, but check those out today for a discount on your registration!

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This year I partnered with Sseko Designs. I was excited to share about the company, but was not planning on modeling for any pictures. Well, they asked me to send along a picture of me in my Brave necklace with my definition of bravery. If you could have only seen the effort it took between my 7 year old with the camera in her hand and me squatting by the living room window to get this shot. You can also look forward (or not look forward) to a whole week of pictures of me as a fake fashion blogger – my mom & sister should get a reward for struggling through that with me! #NotAFashionBlogger

You can visit Sseko on Instagram for my definition of bravery. You can also use the code “underthesycamore” for 15% your purchase until 9/5/16.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThis weekend we will be celebrating my grandpa. He turned 90 years young yesterday. We started the day surprising him at the donut shop. Yesterday Chris and I also celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Clueless kids then. Clueless bigger kids now. I’m so thankful for laugh lines and getting older next to him. If we turn 90 and find ourselves surrounded by great grandkids at a donut shop, well, I’d say our dreams came true.

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  • Cara Yeh - I hope you guys bring Be Crafty Mother/ Daughter to Southern California, soon!!!

  • Tiffany A. Nelson - 90 years is no small feat!! That’s awesome, lovely photo too.

  • Byron - Random answers:

    I am neither a mom nor a daughter. :( Oh well, go have tons of fun anyway (as I’m sure you and everyone else will)!

    You be modeling!

    That’s you and Chris? I was trying to figure out who that was in the picture and why you posted them for a minute there! The hair (on each of you) threw me. Happy Anniversary and God bless!

  • Diana - How awesome for your Grandpa and for your anniversary! My Grandpa’s 90th was last year and it was so wonderful to celebrate his life while he was still with us (he died 9 months later). Definitely life goals there.

Our school year has officially begun. We started back at our Classical Conversations homeschool community (kids meet once a week with their peers in a classroom setting). This year we are tackling K, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th. My oldest started back about 3 weeks ago and was already on campus when we took the picture below. I’m sure he didn’t mind.

To make the morning go smoothly, I told the kids to lay their clothes out the night before. My eldest daughter put her outfit out in the most organized way. When I asked the boys where their clothes for the next day were, they responded they had them on. They go for efficient and less effort. I kind of miss the days they let me dress them in super cute outfits to mark the first day of school…it is gym clothes 24/7 around here. Not a battle I’m going to fight, know what I mean?!

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The longer I am a mom, the more I don’t care about some things and care far deeper than I dreamed about other things. When my boys were younger, it drove me a little crazy when they wanted cartoon everything…backpacks, shoes, shirts, pajamas. My oldest has always preferred plain stuff – just a gray tshirt for him, but then my second son came along. He wanted Lightning McQueen EVERYTHING. I would avoid shopping with him just so he wouldn’t ask for one more Lightning McQueen shirt..I mean c’mon son let’s try Baby Gap.

When my third son arrived, I had loosened up quite a bit. I was learning there are far more important things to help my kids avoid than a shirt with an animated character on it. My youngest son was a superhero fan. He liked the costumes and all the shirts. Then all the sudden he didn’t.

Moms of little ones – it happens fast. One day they are running around the kitchen in an Ironman costume with fake muscles, the next day they are in the kitchen eating their 5th bowl of cereal with actual muscles popping out of their arms.

One minute they want all the Lighting McQueen things and the superhero backpack.

The next minute they sweetly ask for a new backpack…just a plain black one. And your heart might break a little bit. At least that is the way it felt for me this week.

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I’m going to miss that superhero backpack, but goodness do I love the 8 year old carrying the plain black one. One day I’ll probably miss these days – where my boys could care less what they wear (or if it is even clean). Kids grow and change and we grow and change alongside them. What an extraordinary privilege it is to be a parent or one involved in the life of a child!

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  • Jessica - Thanks for such a sweet reminder. I have 3 tiny boys and my oldest wore a ninja turtle shirt and backpack to his first day of pre-school. It kinda killed me among the monogrammed everything, but he was so proud. I love these posts, reminding me I don’t have to be scared of the future!

  • Phyllis at All Things Beautiful - Beautifully written. And yes, I do miss those days, but I can say (now that my kids are 12-24 years old) that each stage and age is precious and beautiful. I love where they are all at right now, too.

  • Phoebe Koehler - Thanks for the reminder about what’s important.

    After I read this, I got online to buy my daughter the Frozen backpack she loved in Target yesterday. I discouraged her in the store because I didn’t care for it and I should have let her get the one she wanted. I’m sure I’ll be missing the days when this was our biggest disagreement soon enough!

  • Chandler Divers - A random comment but I can’t believe how grown up your youngest daughter looks in this photo! You have a beautiful family (regardless of what clothes they wear 😉 )

  • Brady W. - I’m getting there…..trying to remind myself that ninja turtles and batman EVERYTHING is not going to matter in the end. It’s the ‘Kingdom things’ that matter and as long as he loves Jesus, it’s okay for him to look a little nerdy in his Star Wars light up shoes (it almost KILLED me to buy those) and carrying his Star Wars lunch box with wings that fly up when you squeeze the handle. I try to remember the silly things I insisted on when I was a kid and how good and confident I felt in my gray sweater with bunnies on it that had pom-poms glued on there as the bunny tails. I want my son to feel that sometimes too—and we compromise :) He knows when it’s picture day or we have church, he has to dress “fancy” (as he calls it). Otherwise, he gets to choose. Thanks for the reminder of what’s really important!

  • Kate - So on point! I always love hearing your perspective. It has helped me so much over the years – to be intentional and think about the important things to focus on as I raise my two girls. A heartfelt thanks for sharing your insights and for making me a better Mom! xoxo

  • ranee - such a good reminder! thanks for this post. (and we are totally in the gym clothes 24/7 phase here, too!) :)

  • Sarah Wolfe - That superhero backpack on the chair!! So sad and lonely! I get sad at the end of any phase. My youngest is really the only one who still plays with toys on a regular basis. I can’t remember when they stopped playing with them, but the playroom stays pretty clean these days. I guess I can’t complain about a clean playroom, but I do miss those little boys all playing (and bickering) in that room. These days are good too, trying to treasure all of it, even the non-stop athletic clothes 😉

  • Byron - Great pic with the kids!

    Great to see your oldest in CF this morning! He will now learn what it is like to try and keep up with Mom (if he doesn’t already)! :)

  • Laura Piersall - One of your son’s graphic tshirts was the reason I came back to your blog for the first time, for real. I’ve never been a blog follower, but seeing such beautiful photos that expressed your kid’s likeness… I was sold and I also learned a valuable lesson: my kids don’t have to be wearing babyGap to worth photographing and sharing! Thank you, Ashley! This lesson has definitely eased my current Spider-Man phase of life. :)

  • AshleyAnn - Byron – it is only a matter of time before I won’t be able to keep up with him. I’ll enjoy this season while it lasts though!

  • Karen D - Ahh this makes me smile so much as my 2 year old has recently become OBSESSED with everything lightening McQueen. I know too soon he will be over it but it’s so cute seeing how excited they get over every tshirt, plate or toy they find with their favorite characters. They grow up too fast for sure!

  • Nadia North - My son is always in gym clothes, but then again so am I whenever possible! Beautiful post and pictures.

  • Debbie C - It’s so funny, the timing of this post. We just received the Superman backpack that I ordered from Pottery Barn. It’s my 3-year-old’s first backpack and he’s excited to have one just like his sister! There is even a cape you can pull out if you feel like saving the day. Reading this post reminds me to cherish these (superhero) years!

  • Haley - I love this! My daughter is just staring to have an opinion on her clothes, so I’m having a little fun with seeing what she picks (even if it’s pink and glittery).

This weekend we celebrated 4 years as a family of 7! On one hand I really never think about adoption, but on the other hand in some ways I think about it often. In the day to day life interactions with my kids – it is never on my mind. However, it comes up in other ways quite often. In questions others ask. In questions my kids as. When we want to see a movie and I know the theme centers around adoption or the loss of family, well those are the days I think about it a lot. We never talk about it and we talk about it all the time. That makes total sense – right?!

Each year at this time I find myself reading all the posts I wrote when we were on the journey to bring our youngest home. I am so thankful I wrote those posts. I wrote them with my daughter in mind, but didn’t realize how much they would mean to me. It is a beautiful thing to look back on and remember how I felt, but with the eyes of today. The whole series from that season is hands down my favorite posts on this blog.

As I read through them, I thought I would share this one today. It was written the day before we boarded a plane to China. I remember weeping as I wrote it, so unsure of what the future would hold.

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8.12coffee-1If we could sit down and have a cup of coffee…

We’d meet early in the morning, before the kids are awake.

I’d make coffee…cream and sugar for me. Yours made to order.

We could sit out back at the picnic table or among the sawdust and nails in the studio. Either one is nice for chatting right now.

If we could sit down and have a cup of coffee this morning, friend to friend, I’d probably tell you something like this:

I’m getting on a plane in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow. I’m headed across continents and an ocean to meet my daughter. And while my heart is about to burst with excitement and joy it is also completely broken for my daughter. You see, my Little One has endured so much heartbreak. For 9 months she heard the familiar sound of the voice and heartbeat of her birth mom. I don’t know the reasons or the details, but I know shortly after her birth that relationship was broken. The voice she heard, the familiar sounds – were all gone. She endured a devastating loss. Her birth family also endured a great loss.

She then learned to adjust and survive among the new sounds and new voices of an orphanage. With about 42 babies in her room and 2 nannies, she has developed survival skills that a baby should never learn. And despite all the heartbreak that goes with her orphanage, it is her home. And we are told the nannies love those babies dearly. On Monday, she will again face a devastating loss. She will lose all that is familiar and be placed in my arms – the arms of a stranger.

I would do anything for her to be able to know my voice, to recognize my face, to see into my heart and know that her future is beautiful. I wish she could see and know what I know. But she doesn’t. And my heart shatters at the thought of the fear and grief that next week could hold for her.

It was 14 years ago that I knew one day I would adopt. Both adoption and pregnancy have always been our “Plan A” and we are beyond grateful that we’ve been able to grow our family both ways. We don’t take that gift for granted for a single moment. 14 years is a long time to wait for something. It is also a long time to research and learn all about the beauty of adoption and also about orphans, poverty that leads to abandonment, human trafficking….and all the other stuff that is part of a world where children are separated from their birth families. It is also a lot of time to learn to let go of any and all expectations. We go into this trip expecting nothing, but hoping for everything.

So much of this journey has been bittersweet. With each celebration, there is a bit of heartbreak. When I fill out a medical form for my Little One, it brings me such joy to write her name with “Campbell” at the end. And then I get to the medical history part and am reminded she will spend a lifetime not knowing so many details related to her start in life. And I hurt for her loss. I gaze at her beautiful face and am in complete awe. And then I also know that most likely that beautiful cleft that I adore might have played a role in why she is not with her birth family. And I ache for the pain she will one day feel. I imagine as she grows I will see so much of myself in her, but I will also wonder what parts of her are from her birth parents. And I mourn my daughter’s loss of not knowing her birth family. You see, next week I will rejoice and celebrate becoming a mom again, but in my celebrating it means another mom does not get to know the joy of raising the daughter she gave life to. And my heart breaks for that mom.

And, yet, I am so thankful for this bittersweet. This is all a part of the work God is weaving in me and in my Little One. So, I will embrace all of it. The grief. The joy. The fear. The excitement. The mourning. The celebrating. The ashes. The beauty. I will embrace all of it.

So, if we were sitting together drinking our coffee I’d thank you for coming along this journey with me. I’d thank you for your support, your encouragement, your excitement and your love. I’d thank you for celebrating my daughter. I’d ask you to pray for her, for her heart, for her healing. I’d ask you to recognize that while we are so overcome with happiness to meet our Little One and bring her home, the journey is really just beginning.

Thanks, friend….I’m so crazy excited and ready for the morning!!!

Would you dare, would you dare to believe

that you still got a reason to sing?

‘Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling

It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming

So hold on, you gotta wait for the light

Press on and just fight the good fight

‘Cause the pain you’ve been feeling

It’s just the hurt before the healing

Oh, the pain that you’ve been feeling

It’s just the dark before the morning

~ Josh Wilson, Before the Morning lyrics

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You can read all the adoption journey posts on the Adoption Page. For the post that originally followed this one, click here.

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  • Southern Gal - Reading this again still does my heart in. To look back and see how it has all played out so far is so thrilling. God knew who her family would be! Thank you for sharing this intimate journey with us all over again. Happy Gotcha Day!

  • Martha - What a good Momma you are

  • Anne Marie - Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story! I dream of {my ? longs for} adopting a little girl… We have 4 boys and they would love a little sister… My husband casually mentions it often! But I don’t have much faith that it will ever happen… :'(
    So so glad it worked out for you!!! And I would LOVE to sit down to a cup of cream & sugar coffee with you! :)

  • Shira - Your adoption posts were what made me a devoted reader — the kind that wishes she knew you in person and would invite YOU over for coffee (and doughnuts! I have a sweet tooth). This post made me weep and smile again. You’re a gifted mama, and a lovely person. Thanks for writing, and please keep it up.

  • Byron - Wonderful picture at the end! God bless!

  • Debbie C - I remember reading these posts back then as I wiped many tears from my face. Such a blessing to watch your family grow through adopting your daughter. She is beyond blessed to be a Campbell!

  • Diana - I love love love this! We brought our (adopted) son home from the hospital at 2 weeks old and so he didn’t have much of a life before us (we became his parents when he was 10 days old) but still…I think about it all sometimes. I love reading your adoption posts!

  • angie webb - beautiful words! thank you for sharing your raw emotions.

  • Jessica - I remember reading this years ago and crying with you- at your beautifully written words and I’m still in awe. You have such a strong and wonderful spirit. If I am blessed to have children – I hope I have the grace you do with your little one, firecracker and your awesome boys.

  • Catherine - As a mother of 2 adopted twin-daughters now aged 7, I fully recognise myself in your words ! Thanks a lot for expressing this so good !

  • Kaylan - This makes me weep!! You have such a talent for writing. My husband and I are beginning our adoption journey. And like you it has been a long time in the making. I always knew I would adopt a baby, even as a little girl. I always adopted babies when I played with my Barbies. It’s so cool how God can place these desires in our hearts long before it comes to pass. Anyway, thanks for sharing some of your most personal writings.

  • Jill Murphy - This is a beautiful article! I have two beautiful girls we adopted from Korea. I too think about the loss they endured at the same moment the joy we gained. I also have a birth son who I chose adoption for because I was too young to be a mom. We have since reunited. Our family is beautiful and out of the norm and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  • Mirys - Morning, morning Campbells!
    If it´s been 4 years that you are all togheter… that means it´s been more than 5 or 6 that I read you (I think 9, to be fair!). Dayly! I hope you have received all the love, and tears, and prays, and smells of coffee I´ve sent you from Brazil. You all are such an inspiration!
    Kisses and blessings.
    Mirys

  • jules - I remember reading that post… so eloquent and inspirational! Happy 4 years as 7. Blessings!

  • Kath - Crying… We are sitting and waiting for the day when we can go and pick up our little boy from Korea and your words could be mine (except you’re far more eloquent). Love the words in that poem/song at the end: “‘Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling… It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming”. I will hang on to that as I worry so much about how hard it’ll be for him. Thanks for this lovely post xxxx

  • Lacey - I remember crying the first time I read this post and here I am crying again! <3 I'm astonished it has been 4 years already and it has been such a joy watching Little One grow.

  • Nicole C - I remember readying every single post religiously. I cannot thank you for sharing your journey in such detail. As someone who has never felt like she would be a Mom, my heart steers more towards adoption. Thank you for sharing your lives <3