The Old Red Barn

April 30, 2009

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You would think Sarah was on a farm by looking at the scenery in these pictures......but she isn't. This is one of the vacant lots across the street from our house.......I thought the old red barn made the perfect backdrop for Sarah's litte Matilda Jane ensemble.

Yesterday, I worked from home, so around lunchtime, Sarah and I headed out for a little walk around the neighborhood. I decided to pull Sarah in the wagon and we ended up right in the middle of the field surrounded by dandelions!! She picked until her little heart was content and then we headed back home with yellow stained hands and shoes......thank goodness none of it got on her clothes:) I think her light pink crocs are ruined....I cannot get the yellow out!

When I saw these pictures download I wasn't even sure if I liked them.....but as I started to play around and give them a more vintage feel.....I fell in love with them. I was very thrilled with the end result and would like to have these printed and framed to hang in our house. I am so bad about doing that.....I have so many pictures that I love, but they are all living in my computer and not on my walls:(

When I am not at work, you will find me with my camera and my kids, which is great, but lately I have not had much time to cook and I am getting the urge to get a little creative in the kitchen again.......I am thinking the next post might be food oriented:) Not sure what I will be making.....but I am in the mood for something new and different.

Sorry if I am boring you all with this photography stuff......but it has been consuming me. Right now I am playing the "name game" Trying to come up with something cute and/or catchy as a business name. I could only come up with one and it was using our last name, which I don't really want to do. If any of you have ideas......I would love to hear them. Just leave me a comment!!

Have a great day!! I am headed off to real job....the one that pays the bills:)

Nick.....In All His Glory

April 28, 2009

Nick Reflections_edited-1

Nick jumped into action as a model for the Photography workshop this past weekend.....and I could not have been more proud of him. For someone who usually fights tooth and nail about getting in front of the camera, he threw caution to the wind and worked extremely hard for all the ladies taking part in the event.

I think it was extra fun for Nick because we were in Center City Philadelphia.....the shoot had a real URBAN feel and he thought it was really cool to be experiencing the city life!!

The pictures below were taken on the rooftop of a parking deck......there was a stairwell with graffiti and that is where Nick was in all his glory....he loved every second of it. I only got a couple of him up there, but you might see him appear on a couple other blogs as well.....Debbie, Kate, Jen, Ivy, and Heather were all in attendance on Saturday in Philly and they all got some incredible pictures of him. A special thanks to all these lovely was so wonderful to be taking this workshop with such special friends, and it made me feel so good to see you take such an interest in my little all made him feel so special and comfortable. Everytime I turned around and saw him hamming it up with you, it made me smile:)

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When Nick wasn't striking a pose, he was assisting with reflectors and flash equipment.....he really got into it and is looking forward to helping me out in the future. I think that this was so good for experience he will never forget and possibly a new hobby that will give us some special time together.

You see....I am thinking that this photography thing might be more than a hobby.....I really wanted to learn all that I could so I could take great pictures of my kids and forgo those studio shots that usually cost an arm and a leg......but the more I learn and the more I photograph other children, I am realizing that there is more to this than just wanting great photos of my children. I really enjoy working with other people and I am finding great satisfaction when I capture those special moments.

After workshop number two and some serious soul searching, I think I am ready to take on paying clients......nothing too crazy and not too many....I still need to keep my day job, but I want to take my hobby to the next level!!

With a little luck and a couple things that need to be added to be my camera bag before I start, I should be up and running in a month or two. I still have LOTS to learn, but I think I know enough to do some basic family photography. You have to start somewhere......right?

Missing In Action With The Pixel Fairy Princess

April 26, 2009

It has been another one of those weeks where I have been M.I.A. from the bloggy world....but for good reason....

This weekend was Debbie's{Otherwise known as The Pixel Fairy Princess}Philadelphia Photography workshop and when I found out she was going to be in the area, I invited her to come in a couple of days early and stay with us.

Debbie got a glimpse into our everyday life here....and I hope we did not scare her away, as it can be quite chaotic at times!! She and I finally got to catch up with one another as both of our lives have been extremely busy lately. Of course we did spend a good amount of time talking shop and playing with our cameras. She has now taught me how to use my external flash for a more studio feel in outdoor situations!! I am totally hooked and cannot believe how a little flash used the right way, can change a photograph!!

We had Nick and Sarah to use as models, but since they are not always cooperative, I asked Alicia to step in as well. Debbie and I set out late afternoon close to dinner each night to do mini photoshoots with the kids. I am thrilled with what I shot both days.....but that being said.....just wait until you see what she got....OMG, she totally blew me away. We had one little session with just Sarah and Nick and I did not bring my camera at all....I wanted Debbie to capture them together for me. I don't have a copy to share with you all yet, but as soon as I do, I will post me, it is AMAZING!!

Here are a couple of the photos that I shot during our late afternoon park sessions Thursday and Friday........

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Nick and took some coaxing to get them in close proximity, but we told them to pretend that they were brother and sister!!

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A different pose....more casual...Nick liked posing for this one much better!!

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Alicia under the bridge.....I still cannot believe that she is only 11. I think I had been telling everyone that she was 13....she informed Debbie and I that she is only 11...WOW!!

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Sarah surrounded by Forsythia!!

After a couple days with Debbie, Nick is getting very comfortable in front of the camera and also assisting his mom with the external flash when is definitely a two person job and I don't see Sarah stepping in to help:)

The actual workshop was Saturday and Sunday in center city Philadelphia. Unfortunately there was a change in plans and two of Debbie's models cancelled on her. We needed to recruit Nick and Alicia for the day and I was just blown away at how great they both were for us!! It was a long day in the hot sun and they had 8 women poking and prodding at them....they were total troopers. I will be posting pictures and more on the actual workshop tomorrow or Tuesday. Usually Sarah is the one who is pictured in all the blog posts.....this week it will be Nick!! I am sorry to say that there will be an over abundance of pics coming your way......I guess in a way I will be making up for lost time since I have been so sporadic about posting these last few weeks!!

Part two of the Pixel Fairy Weekend coming soon and some news....I might be taking my love of photography to the next level. ....details to follow!!
I look forward to catching up with you all!!

The Bluebells Are Blooming!!

April 20, 2009

Saturday I got to spend some quality time with each of the kids individually. Nick in the morning and Sarah in the afternoon. Nick and I volunteered at our local Autism walk....he begged me not to take pictures of him, but of course I snapped a few....My job was to walk around with my camera and snap photos of kids and their families as well as teams of people that raised money for the you know I was loving every minute of that. When we got home, there were over 200 pictures to be processed, so I am still working on them and hope that in the next day or two, I will be able to post a few of my favs and finally get some pictures of Nick up on the blog!!

That afternoon, Nick went to a friends house to play, so Sarah and I went to the park. When I pulled in I was so excited to see that the Bluebells were finally starting to bloom.....there is a gigantic field and they are sprouting up everywhere!! Sarah took off as soon as she saw them and began picking flowers.

This set of pics might be my all time favorite. Sorry there are so many...I couldn't choose, so I am posting them all.....she was full of expression Saturday afternoon!!

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Mmmmmm....finger lickin good!!

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Ooooo La La!!!

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He loves me, He loves me not.....

I have a secret....

Blue Bonnets (54 of 64) Copy_700
Angel eyes!

I missed my family while I was gone and am so happy to be back home. We had such a nice, simple weekend hanging out together.....It was just what I needed after a long week away!! We spent a majority of our weekend outdoors and even fired up the grill for the first time this season.
It is safe to say that Spring has finally arrived....everything is in bloom and the temperature is climbing....Summer is just around the corner and I CANNOT wait!!

Hope you all had a Happy Monday!

Playing Catch Up

April 19, 2009

I bet you all have been wondering where I have been. It is not like me to go this long without posting, but life has been a little more hectic these past few weeks and I don't expect things to let up until we get through the Month of April!! Once we are into May, life will slow back down and I am looking forward to it.....I need to recharge my batteries so to speak!!

Last week I was in Louisville on business and it was a great couple of days, but the highlight of my week was a bloggy get together planned and coordinated by Felicia!!

She is such a sweetheart. When I emailed her and told her that I was coming on business, she quickly gathered a group of bloggy friends and coordinated a dinner while I was in town!! We had such a great time!! Marla, Missy, Felicia, Becky, Virgina, and Leslie....what a pleasure to meet you all in person!! You are all as beautiful and sweet as you appear to be on your blogs......and your little cutie pies just made the night extra special. Honestly, I don't know who had more fun.....the little girls, or us big girls!! I was only saddened that Sarah could not be there to take part in all the fun. Hopefully you will all do as you said and roadtrip in my direction so she won't miss out on the next get together!!

We all went to dinner and then were outside the restaurant in true Mamarazzi fashion with our cameras chasing the girls as they blew bubbles and had a grand old time!! We definitely were getting some looks by passers by:)

Here are some of the pictures from the evening......

The group shot taken by a waitress from the restaurant.

A Twinkle In Her Eyes
Marla's daughter Adalyn.....She is just TOO CUTE and she rocked her polka dots and pink tutu like no other. She looked like quite the little fashionista!!

Felicia's little one Ava. She is so tiny and so precious.....I could just eat her up!! She was queen of the bubble blower that night!!

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Becky's daughters, Olivia and Sophia......look at that sisterly love....they were so adorable and obviously knew what to do when a camera was pointed in their direction:)

Lily and Ava
Leslie's daughter Lily, posing with little Ava. Lily is just the sweetest little girl filled with so much personality and she is absolutely adorable....she loved the camera and it loved her right back!!

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Leslie's other daughter Ella, who was busy chasing bubbles. I loved this shot of her...I snapped just as she was about to pop a bubble!! Another precious little girl who knew how to earn her way straight to my heart!!

It was so much fun to stand back and watch all these little ones interact as we all gabbed the night away!!

I also need to make a special thanks to my girl MISSY. When she heard that I was going to be in Louisville, she jumped in her car and drove the two hours to join in on the fun. After the dinner came to an end and everyone had to go back home, she and I spent the rest of the evening laughing and talking like we were friends our entire lives. I am still sad that you are unable to make the trip to PA next weekend for the Photography workshop, but know that there will be other opportunites in the near future:) Thanks again for making my trip complete!!

Once Friday morning arrived, I jumped on my plane to head back home and was greeted by my family whom I REALLY missed!! I have spent the weekend playing catch up as we have another busy week ahead. My camera has been clicking nonstop since my arrival, I had a lot to make up for, it really has not gotten much use these last two weeks!!

Nick and I spent some quality time together volunteering at our local Autism walk Saturday morning and then Sarah and I had an afternoon was almost 80 Degrees and BEAUTIFUL!! I think Spring has finally arrived!! I will definitely have lots to post about this week....stay tuned for pictures galore:)

Hope you all have had a wonderful weekend.....I plan to make my way around the blogosphere these next couple blogger dashboard is filled to the brim!!

Easter in Pink and Green

April 13, 2009

We just got back from Cape Cod around 2am this morning. Needless to say, we are all was a quick trip up and back, but so worth it! We have so much fun visiting the "Gaelic" side of the family......but it always goes so fast...we hate to have to say goodbye.....but before we know it, it will summer and we will be heading back up to hit the beaches!!

The weather was pretty cold and rainy but thankfully we did have some sunshine on Easter Sunday so that the kids could enjoy their annual Easter Egg hunt in my Sister In Law's backyard!! There was even a special appearance made by the Easter Bunny......wait until you see how that went over......I bet you all can guess how Sarah reacted.

I am running really short on time and just wanted to get some of these up before I leave town again tomorrow. For the most part, I did not take my camera out of the bag all weekend, but did manage to snap a few during the egg hunt. Nick was running from the camera in normal fashion and Sarah was already pretty tired and cranky so she was in no mood to cooperate....they are not the best. I had high hopes of passing the camera to someone else so that I could have just one picture of Pat and I with the kids...... but that never happened....oh well there is always next year!! You will also see a theme here....everyone chose to wear pinks and was almost comical. We really should have tried to get a group shot with everybody. You would have thought we all planned it!!

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Our nieces, Colleen, Kelly, and Kristin

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Sarah and Nick with Aunt Ann....her daughters are in the picture above:)

Kelly looking pretty while sitting on the deck.

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Sarah in all her glory running through the yard.

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The Easter Bunny made a visit to Aunt Ann's and handed out special gifts for the little ones.

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Sarah.....not so thrilled to see the Easter Bunny up close in person:(

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Still worried that the Easter Bunny was going to come near her.

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The only picture I have of my two together on Easter....from the back of course. Nick didn't participate in the Easter Egg hunt, but was willing to try to help his sister search for Eggs that were out of her reach.

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Sarah sitting in front of her Daddy looking through the sliders in the familyroom to make sure that the bunny had really left the yard......She did not like him and was not going to relax until she knew he was gone for good..........look at that face!!

I hope to catch up with you all over the next couple of days.....I haven't looked at a single blog since Friday morning. I am still unpacking, cleaning, and doing laundry, so that I can repack my bag and head to Louisville tomorrow knowing that everything is done and that Pat and the kids will have everything they need in my absense!!

There is one little perk to my business trip.....I get to meet up with a couple of fabulous ladies from our Blogger will have to wait until I return to see who I have the pleasure of meeting this time around!!

Have a great week!!

Happy 1 Year...Thank You!

April 8, 2009

Sarah Sitting in the chair-700
I thought for a while about what I wanted to say today to mark the one year anniversary of this blog's existence.......and realized that I have spent a year talking about me, my family, my friends, my hobbies, my passions, and my life! I want this post to be a little is going to be about I am going to try to keep this short and sweet.

To all of you that check in with us here at "The Long Road To China"

You are such an amazing community and group of people. You take time out of your busy days to leave thoughtful, heartfelt comments. You are kind, compassionate and are always here to offer support, share knowledge, encourage, and give great advice. Every comment that is left on this blog is appreciated......and every comment brings a big smile to my face.

I looked back at my very first blog post written one year ago today and remembered thinking as I hit that publish one is ever going to read this except for my family......

I am so glad that I was WRONG......because this blog has taken me places and connected me to people that I would have never imagined. In this past year I have met many wonderful women....Some of you have become "real life" friends that I have had the privelege of meeting face to face....and there are many others that I hope to meet someday soon.

You are all very special and so inspiring to me and I just wanted to take this time to say THANK YOU for all of your support and encouragement throughout this year.....I hope that I can continue to keep this blog going.....because one day soon......."The Long Road" is finally going to get us to CHINA and I hope you are all still around to see our dream come true!!

So.....Now that that I said everything I wanted to.....I bet you are all wondering who won the big giveaway....

the winner (4 of 6) copy
Wait until you see......there is an unexpected surprise ending to this one.

Nick was my "not so willing" assistant....proof is in the picture:) He drew the grand prize winner out of Sarah's pink hat{he would not let me photograph him holding a girly hat}...and look who it is.......

the winner (3 of 6) -700_edited-1
JAN.....from A JOYFUL LIFE!!!

Congratulations Jan....hope you enjoy your new silver!! I know you are visiting the Big Mouse in Florida with your family, but when you return, you will have a big surprise waiting for you!!

There is a little more to this giveaway than expected, so don't leave just yet.
My friend and Si!pada rep saw how "ga ga" everyone went over the silver and she threw in another ring for a second winner!!

Since Nick drew the first winner, I picked the second one.....Guess who it was????

Simple T-700 copy
Simply T.....from JUST ADD ONE CHINESE SISTER.....If you get a chance, stop by and say hello to Simply T, because not only is she the lucky winner of a shiney new ring, but she and her family were just referred a beautiful baby girl from China....Emerson Grace....Congratulations to you and your family!!

I wish I had a piece of jewelry to give each and every one of are all winners to never know when there might be another opportunity so be on the lookout:)

Kira and Sarah (70 of 188)-2-2 copy_edited-1
I know I said that this post was not going to be about me or my life, but I had to quick add this on to the end. The other day I mentioned that Sarah got a new "do" and so far all the pics that I have posted have shown the cut from the front.....I wanted to show it to you from the back. I am so glad we took the plunge....her hair is so much more managable now....and I think it is so cute and sassy!!

I am signing off for a couple of days. Wishing you all a Happy Easter....We are packing up and heading to Cape Cod for the holiday weekend. This will be my last post until we return....and then I am off to Louisville, Kentucky on business....Did I mention that April is another busy month???

Have a great holiday....and eat LOTS of CHOCOLATE:)

I Heart Faces- Week 13

April 6, 2009

This weeks theme......

"My Friend and I"

Friends to the end-700
On Sunday, Sarah and I went to the park and met some NEW FRIENDS.
Sarah and Kira are only a couple months apart and got along so well, as did Ivy and I. The girls ran around for hours as we watched them through our lenses waiting to capture that perfect moment....which is not easy when you are dealing with two, 2 year old girls who are VERY active!!

It was getting late and starting to cool off, so we packed up all of our gear, put the girls in the wagon and headed towards the car. Of course as we were on our way back with a million things in our arms......we saw this going on behind us. Ivy and I looked at each other and screamed in unison "GET THE CAMERA".....with that I quickly stopped the wagon, dropped my bag, and began digging......

The minute I snapped this one, I knew it was going to be this weeks entry for the I HEART FACES contest!! To see more of this week's entries click HERE....the contest ends tomorrow night.

I will post more pictures from this little playdate later this week.....contest rules are only one photo per blog you will just have to wait see the rest!

Right now I am off to put 137 names in a hat and pick the winner of the silver jewels....Good luck to all....The winner will be announced on Wednesday:)

Do You Have Neighbors Like This?

That Neighbor (2 of 5) copy
Meet our neighbors, they are very nice, friendly people.....Their house is directly across the street from ours.....they are great neighbors, but there is something that has been bothering me lately......Can you guess what it might be? I took this picture of their house yesterday.......Do you notice anything???

Maybe you need to take a closer look.......

That Neighbor A Closer look-700
Do you see it now.....
It is April 5th and they still have Christmas decorations on the outside of their house. It is time to bring out the shorts and the flip flops and they still have lights on their tree and a wreath with garland around the door.

There is always one person in a neighborhood who does this....I just hate that it happens to be right across from us. My office is in the front of our house, so as I sit at my desk all day working, this is what I see.....and it drives me crazy. Our neighborhood has rules and deed restrictions for just about everything....swingsets, pools, fences, cars parked on the name it, there is a rule for it......I am thinking they need to add a new rule.....

ALL Christmas Decor must be removed by the first day of SPRING

Pat and I have placed bets on when it will come down......Care to join in the fun..... How long do you think they will leave it up?

Hope you all had a great weekend.....Ours was kind of busy....Pictures to come soon! I got Sarah's hair cut again.....really short in the back and longer in the front....I LOVE looks thicker and much will be perfect for the summer:)

Siblings At Their Best:)

April 2, 2009

Just Layin Around copy-700
I know I am his Mom and I see him everyday, but when I take his picture and download it to the computer....I look at the screen in disbelief!! How the heck did time move so quickly......he is no longer a little boy following me around wherever I go, he is turning into a handsome young man right before my eyes and truth be told......It scares me half to death.....I am not sure I am ready for the next phase.....

The other night Nick appeased me and let me try out some things with my camera using indoor lighting and reflectors. As you have heard me say before, he typically wants nothing to do with the camera, but this night was different. I think he secretly enjoyed it....we were having a great time, being silly and striking poses.....but our little party got crashed........

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When Sarah realized that I was taking pictures of Nick, she was a tad jealous.......She obviously does not like sharing the spot light with her!! She marched right over to him and said, "MOVE OVER.....Now Mommy is going to take my picture"

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Nick trying to explain that we were in the middle of something.....and after we were done, she could have a turn. I don't think she is going to you?

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"I have an idea....maybe Mom can take pictures of the two of us together....What do you think.....can we do this together"

Siblings at their best....The room was filled with giggles of laughter as they hammed it up for the camera!!

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Still laughing......and a wave bye bye to end the series!!

It has been a long time since I have attempted to photograph the two of them at once......I don't think I have tried since the dreaded Christmas Card photoshoot. I thought these shots were so cute and so candid.....most of what came out of my camera that afternoon was blurry because we were all laughing and clowning around, but I wanted to share them anyway!!

Hope you all have a great weekend....We will be spending ours outdoors....Sarah is going to an Easter egg hunt on Saturday and Nick has his first Soccer game on Sunday!