Black and White Wednesday - "Travel"

August 25, 2010

A few months ago, as we knew we were getting awfully close to receiving our referral, we needed to figure out how we were going to handle travel to China.

I do remember asking many people their thoughts on this subject. Should we take the kids, should we leave them at home. Do we take one without the on and so forth.

Well, from a financial standpoint we decided taking the entire family was just out of the question. Not to mention that we were not sure how Sarah would do on a trip like this. We know at times it can be stressful and we could be dealing with a new baby that is grieving terribly. So we were pretty quick to say we would leave the kids at home and just Pat and I would travel......

But as time went on and this adoption became a reality, we had to make another very tough decision.

After a long heart to heart, Pat and I decided that it was best for our family if only one of us traveled to China, while the other one stayed at home to take care of both Nick and Sarah.

So I will be traveling to China and Pat will be staying here with the kids....... I know he has to be feeling a little disappointed, but we both know that in the end this is the best option for our particular circumstance.

The day after we made this decsion, I was talking to my friend Marla and told her I was going to China by myself. She said, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY YOURSELF" I said, I am going to travel alone.

I went on to explain why we made the choice and she listened intently.

A few hours later, I receieved an email from her...... She had met her husband for lunch that day and told him about our decision.

Since they had traveled to China twice to complete the adoptions of both of their beautiful girls, they had lots of experience and knew exactly what to expect on a trip like this. While they were talking, even though it can be done and a lot of people do it successfully, they both felt it was a gamble to go on a trip like this completely alone. They explained that there were many times that you could use an extra set of hands....... and what if I happened to get sick while I was there. Who would take care of the baby? All very valid questions.

After explaining some of their concerns, she went on to say that she would be willing to be my Travel Partner and Roommate for the two weeks I needed to be in China.....she was telling me she would go with me to bring home our little girl. I almost couldn't believe my eyes..... I don't think I finished reading the complete email and I was already dialing her number to see if she was serious......

YES.... she was serious alright!

She had already discussed it with her husband and he felt that it was a great idea.

I was so excited....... I think I continued to ask her if she was really serious for the next 4-6 weeks, because I just could not believe that someone would be generous enough to make such a huge commitment and sacrifice by leaving her own family for two weeks.

Pat and I were both completely blown away and so touched by the offer and after weeks of me "double checking" that she was not pulling my leg, Marla and I started discussing the trip in great detail.

Of course I am sad that Pat will not be by my side to meet Reagan for the first time in China, but given the circumstances, I couldn't be happier to have such an amazing lady and very special friend with me every step of the way on this incredible journey.

Marla and Me BW
Marla, Derek, and the 4 J's will always hold a special place in our hearts........ as far as we are concerned, they are family.....and we will never be able to express our gratitude for all that they have done. Love you guys!!

Whatch you talking about 3 BLOG

Now for the big question that everyone is asking.

When are we going to travel to China to bring this angel home?

We don't know yet....

Hoping and praying it will be early October, but only time will tell.

We might be delayed because of some upcoming holidays and a big trade fair that takes place in Guangzhou.

If that is the case, it will be late October, early November and Sarah will not be the only one sporting a pouty face. I will be pouting right along side of her:(

I'll keep everyone posted as we get new information, updates.....and if by chance a few more pictures come our way:)

Chenzhou - More Photos of Reagan

August 24, 2010

I wanted to quickly update you on some of what we found out about Reagan once we received her translated file.

I guess we were not prepared for all of the information that they provided. They did tell us her exact finding spot, including the street address. I am hoping that on our trip we will get to go there.(stay tuned for my next post where I will be giving you some of the new details surrounding our travel to China:)

In addition, they gave us a very detailed descripiton of everything she was wearing the day she was found and told us that she had a note in a red envelope. That is how they knew her birthday was November 23rd. She was only 10 days old when they found her and after the police were notified, she was immediately taken to the Chenzh@u CWI where she was cared for by the nannies.

She was named "Chen WenYi" Chen is short for Chenzh@ou, I believe all the babies in this CWI have the same surname. The CWI staff gave her the name "WenYi" hoping she would grow up to have knowledge and dreams, and will have a happy life.

They provided us some of the things she was doing at 1, 3, and 5 months of age.

According to the medical file we received, she was 7 months old when they ran the medical tests and measurements included in the file. At that time she was 25 inches long and weighed 14lbs. Just wondering if that was with or without 3 layers of clothes:)

Her developmental report seemed to be on track but again, just like her measurements, we won't know for sure until we have her in our arms and can see for ourselves what she can and can't do.

When we received Reagan's referral last monday and I read that she was from the Chenzh@u CWI in Hunan. I really had no recollection of this orphanage and couldn't recall any other families off the top of my head that had brought children home from Chenzh@u. Since this is the place she has been since 10 days old, I wanted to find out all I could about this particular orphanage.

Let's just say I have quickly been brought up to speed.

I am sure almost everyone feels this way, but the minute I saw her face and got the translated file telling me about her, I felt it was just not enough...... I wanted more information. I wanted to get my hands on anything I could that might be something I could start to collect as part of her lifebook.

As luck would have it, through the wonderful world of blogging, I received a few emails from other Chenzh@u families giving me some INCREDIBLE information.

The first thing I learned is that the Chenzh@u CWI is one of the orphanages run by Half The Sky . In addition they just built a new building that houses all of the children. I believe it was built sometime in 2008.

I have spent a good deal of my time emailing back and forth with a few people that were recently at the orphanage to visit. A few of them had older children that had been there as babies and they went on something called a Heritage Tour. I also was able to make contact with a group of ladies that went there as part of a mission trip in July and actually spent 3 or 4 days in the orphanage playing with the children and babies.

Low and behold..... LOOK WHAT WE FOUND........

Pictures of some of these lovely ladies holding our precious girl!!!

Reagan and Carissa - Mission Trip 710 BLOG
This is my favorite photo.... I love how she is sucking her two fingers..... I think she must do it often. Look below:)

Reagan and Megan Mission Trip 710 BLOG

Reagan (1 of 3)

Reagan and Megan in Nursery 710 BLOG

Needless to say, these photos are INVALUABLE to us and we cannot thank these girls enough.
They are priceless and will be treasured ALWAYS.

This group of ladies did such a wonderful thing. In looking through their photos, I was able to see first hand how much joy and happiness they brought to all the children of Chenzh@u. They spent a lot of time with the babies and the older children. They came prepared with bubbles, jump ropes, face paints, tutus, and arts and crafts. I am sure the children loved every minute of it......and it looked as though when their trip came to an end, the goodbyes were very difficult for all involved.

I have attached this video that someone was kind enough to forward to me. It was taken in March of 2009. You can get a good look at the inside of the facility..... and some of the children too. I have cried each time I have viewed it....... and cried once again, when I saw more than a few of the children that were in this video, in the recent pictures the girls took on their mission trip.
They are still there waiting.......and hoping to have a Forever Family.

Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page and turn off my pop out player before you play the video.

UPDATE: I forgot to add this in this post..... when we found out what her Chinese name meant, we made a slight revision to the name we were going to give her "Reagan Elizabeth WenYi" We couldn't leave the Wen without the Yi:)

Jewels For A Spicy Girl

August 23, 2010

TA-DA! I’m Shelly McCann and I have officially hijacked Lisa’s blog in the hope of offering something very special to help Pat & Lisa bring Baby Reagan home from China.

I’m honored to call myself one of Lisa’s long-time “Besties.”

Shelly Close Up Texture WM

You may have actually seen me in some recent pictures Lisa shot for my new business cards.

Shelly Squat Tex WM

Lisa and I have shared many of life’s highest and lowest moments.

I’ll never forget watching Lisa courageously battle cancer and win!

I watched her fall in love and marry her Prince Charming (in fact, I must confess…I was the one who introduced Lisa and Pat!)

I watched through happy tears 5 years ago on New Years’ Eve as they exchanged vows and celebrated their love, side by side with Lisa’s son Nick.

I was so lucky to be a part of their lives and celebrate their joy with the addition of their daughter, Sarah.

And now, I am completely in awe that their dream of adopting a daughter from China has finally come true as they just received their referral of sweet little Reagan last week.

We will celebrate AGAIN! (Three is certainly a charm!)

So, what do I have up my sleeve?

Silpada Designs® Jewelry, that’s what!

A few weeks ago, in honor of Lisa’s upcoming referral, I donated a gorgeous Silpada bracelet to Lisa for a giveaway to guess where in China her daughter would hail from.

Shelly Jewels BLOG2

Well, I just felt like I wanted to do more; much more.

I’ve decided to run a special 2 week fundraiser on my Silpada Designs® website and donate all of the proceeds I would have received for any sales during those two weeks to my dear friends, Lisa and Pat.

I know so many of you have commented here on Lisa’s blog about how much you love the Silpada Designs® jewelry that she wears so well (what’s not to love!)

Silpada Bracelets

Silpada Rings

It’s my hope that you’ll consider purchasing a piece of this beautiful hand-crafted .925 Sterling Silver jewelry during those 2 weeks for someone special on your holiday list or even better, treat yourself; and in the process, have a hand in bringing Reagan Elizabeth Wen home to her family.

So here goes, I’m officially Blinging this Blog by guiding you to where your can browse our catalog to make your selection and then contact me to place your order.

I will be running this very special fundraiser starting today, August 23rd through September 7th.

(Please also keep in mind that you can purchase gift certificates in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 to use or give at a later date to that special someone who may wish to choose their own unique Silpada piece.)

Feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who loves jewelry and wants to play a special part in bringing Reagan home to her Forever Family.

Thanks in advance for your time and support!

~Shelly McCann~

Black and White Wednesday - "Referral Day"

August 18, 2010

Our New Sister BLOG

As you could well imagine, the last day two days have been so super exciting for our family. We are just thrilled to have finally received the referral of our precious baby girl and we are so very thankful to be surrounded by our loving family and friends at this very special time!

We cannot stop looking at our beautiful girl. We have printed out a few copies of her scanned pictures so we have something until we actually receive her file from our agency.

At this point, the only information that we have received is exactly what I posted....her Chinese name, her date of birth, her province, and her orphanage. Her file is now being translated from Mandarin to English and we expect to receive it in the next few days. Needless to say we are very anxious see what it says:)

I was the one that received the initial phone call from our agency Monday afternoon at 2:16pm. History repeated itself and I was sitting in my bosses office in a meeting when my cell phone rang with the big news....... just like it did four years ago when we got the phone call the day Sarah was born!

As soon as I received all the details, our agency verified our email addresses and told me that they would be sending the pictures over within the hour. As soon as I hung up with the agency, I immediately called Pat with the wonderful news and told him her photo would be coming to his work email within the hour.

After that we each called our parents to let them know our girl had finally arrived. I called my Mom, who was with Nick and Sarah. They were at the mall shopping, so I told them that we should have her pictures by the time they got home.

Pat ended up seeing her face first..... I had gone back into my bosses office because of course he was anxious to hear the news and all of the details. When I came back out and went to sit down at my desk, I called Pat one more time and he was saying how cute she was..... I couldn't believe the pictures came so fast. I quickly pulled my email up and could not believe my eyes!!! Four and a half years of waiting and dreaming about her.....and there she was...... it was truly love at first sight!

It took me a good hour or so to get everything together and get myself out of the office and on my way home to celebrate with my family. It was a long commute from Philly, but I smiled the entire ride home.

I pulled into the driveway around 6pm and Nick happened to be outside and ran to meet me as I got out of the car. He gave me the biggest hug and said "She is SO CUTE".

Pat had arrived just before I did and when I walked into the house he was standing there with my Mom, Dad, and Sister waiting for me to arrive to start the celebration. I was the once picking up the champagne:) After we popped the cork and Pat made a special toast to our girl, we ordered Hunan Chicken along with a variety of other things from our favorite Chinese restaurant.

Later on that night after my family left, I headed into the office to det on the computer to start going through some of the emails and comments. A few minutes later, Sarah walked in and climbed into my lap. She looked at me and said "I want to see my sister. Can you put her face on the computer" MY HEART MELTED when I heard those words.

It was the perfect ending to the most fabulous day!!

If you can't tell from that picture above, Nick and Sarah are both very proud of their new little sister and are very anxious to meet her.

Reagan Elizabeth BLOG

I know you all saw this picture yesterday. It was one of the three photos that were included in her file, but I could not let black and white Wednesday go by without including our girl...

Have you noticed that I keep calling her "Our Girl"

We do have a name for her.

Some of you picked up the "subtle" hint in the Beach Post the other day. Nick was writing her name in the sand.

Reagan Elizabeth Wen

We are still very much floating around on cloud nine and I suspect we will be up here for a few more days.....maybe weeks:) I will post more info as we get it!

Thanks again for all the kind comments and emails..... Pat and I have read each and every one! They mean so much to us!

ALMOST FORGOT..... The lucky winner of the BRACELET!!! JONNI, you won the bracelet! You picked her province and you were two days away from her birthday. Congratulations! I will be sending it out to you in a few days:)


August 16, 2010

Chen Wen Yi
Hunan Province
Chenzhou Children's Welfare Institute

After dreaming about this day for the past 4 and a half years.....We finally got the call at 2:16pm!!!!

We are OVER THE MOON EXCITED. We are completely smitten by her beautiful face and that head of hair.

This is all the info we have for now, but we will update as soon as we can!!

Thanks for all the Love and Support!!


I am still in shock..... my feet have not hit the ground since 2:15pm and I doubt they will for the next couple of days:)

Reagan Elizabeth

Reagan Elizabeth 2

Reagan Elizabeth 3

Nearing The End Of The Long Road

August 15, 2010

Holding Hat Hand in Hand BLOG
We just got back from our little beach getaway and I wanted to quickly check in to give you all the latest update.

Rumors started circulating on Tuesday of last week and we were thinking that we might get our referral on Friday, but the day came to an end and we did not get "The Call" I have to admit, I was a little disappointed because it would have been perfect to see her face surrounded by most of our family, but I guess that was not meant to be.

Luckily, spending the last few days relaxing on the beach with our family has taken my mind off this....and really, it was just what the doctor ordered. We all had so much fun....The kids were off and running in the water and digging in the sand from the time we got there, until it was time to go back home. There were plenty of cousins to go around so both Nick and Sarah had a complete blast.

Pat and I enjoyed sitting on the beach with our feet in the sand talking with everyone and just taking in all the beauty that surrounded us. Cape Cod is just one of those special places...... it is filled with so many fond memories.....even more so for Pat because he has spent his summers up there ever since he was a little boy.

I tried not to bring my camera out every waking moment and just let the kids do their thing, but they did promise me that we could go down one night as the sun began to set. Of course it came with a small price tag......there had to be something in it for them, so they got GoKart rides later that night and everyone was HAPPY:)

It seems as though we are "Nearing the end of the long road" and just in case we get the big news tomorrow, I figured I would squeeze in some of the beach pictures tonight....otherwise they are likely to get buried in all the excitment that is about to come.

A walk along the beach BLOG

Nick Running BLOG

Sarah at the bottom of the steps BLOG

Super Model BLOG

Nick Writing BLOG

I know you all are just as anxious as we are to see that sweet little stay tuned. I will be updating as soon as we get any information.

Do you think we are going to get any sleep tonight??? Doubtful......

Black and White Wednesday - "Beach Bound"

August 11, 2010

Nick Peeling Paint BLOG
Nick arrived home on Saturday and we could not have been more excited to see him walk through the door.

One Big Hug BLOG
He said that he didn't miss his sister, but I think his actions speak louder than his words. He looks pretty happy to see her..... Don't you think?

Contemplative BLOG
Sarah was smiling from ear to ear all weekend. Although she enjoyed being the only child the last two weeks, she was a little lost without her brother by her side. Now he is right back where he belongs.

Sorry I have not made the rounds in almost two weeks...... I will be back to checking in on everyone when we come back from vacation. We are finally beach bound..... we are heading to Cape Cod today and are looking forward to some serious R&R!

If there is any important news, I will let you all know ASAP. The computer is coming along just in case a certain something arrives:)


August 9, 2010

Thinking Pink BLOG
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing~

I was out with the kids yesterday afternoon and this butterfly landed right next to us. Hoping it is a sign of luck and good things to come this week!!

Patiently(or not so patiently)waiting for some news.......

Keep your fingers and toes crossed......My nerves are wearing thin and my stomach is in knots.

Hope everyone has a great week.

Back to Bethlehem - Workshop Take 2

August 8, 2010

I have decided to go ahead and schedule one last workshop before the big trip to China!

There were a few people who missed out the last time around and chances are I am going to be just a tad busy for the next few months and I am going to be taking a break from photography online classes/workshops.

Church and Main BLOG

Once again, the workshop is going to take place in Bethlhem, PA. Since I just ran one a few weeks ago, the planning and logistics will be super easy. I already have some new locations picked out and a few models all lined up! Some familiar faces......

Alicia BLOG2

and some new faces too:)

The Look- Fishnet BLOG

The cost of the workshop is $350 and it will take place the weekend of September 10th - 12th. I am limiting the group to 10 this time around, so if you are interested in signing up or need some more information. Please email me

I am vcry excited to be doing this again!! I hope some of you will join in the photography fun.

Black and White Wednesday - "One Lucky Boy"

August 4, 2010

Nick Beach Last Year BW BLOG2

Nick has been gone for the last 12 days. He is at the beach with my family and is due to come back home this weekend. Other than when Pat and I went away on our honeymoon, I have never been away from him this long. I have talked with him every day and he is having the time of his life....... he doesn't sound like he is missing home at all.

In addition to hitting the beach daily, they are doing all sorts of fun things. They went crabbing and actually caught a few and then came home and ate them:) Yesterday they went canoeing, and tomorrow they are going out on jet skis.....with adults of course.

His two week beach vacation is quickly coming to end and he will be back home on Saturday. We CANNOT WAIT to see him!!

He will only be home for 4 days and then we are all packing up and heading North. We are going to Cape Cod for our annual beach getaway and really looking forward to it. Pat and I have been working so hard this summer, so we could really use a few days of complete R&R with the family.

After we return from the Cape, Nick will be packing his suitcase one last time as he will be heading South to Virgina Beach with his Dad for a week.

Is this kid lucky or what? He is going to have spent a total of 4 weeks at the beach!! Definitely a summer to remember.

Since I am missing my little guy and don't have any new pictures, I thought I would post one of my favorite pictures from last year's trip to Cape Cod.

A Pre Referral Contest - You Won't Want To Miss Out

August 1, 2010

As most of you know, we are expecting our referral any time now!! The clock is ticking and the excitement is really building. I am literally on the edge of my seat waiting for "The Call"

There is so much to think about as we approach the big day, but there are two specific things that I have been thinking about A LOT....

Her Province


Her Age/Birthday

So I decided it would be kind of fun to turn this into a contest/giveaway!!!

Do you want to play along????

Maybe this will entice you.........

Shelly Jewels BLOG2
Thanks to one of my BFF's, who just happens to be one of the top Si!pada Directors in the country, one of my lucky readers will walk away from this little contest wearing this gorgeous bracelet...and btw, it is even more gorgeous in person than it is in the photo. The picture just does not do it justice.

Here is all you need to do in order to have a chance at winning the jewels.

Look at the map below. It is a provincial map of China.


Now, pick the province that you think our little girl will be from and then guess her birthdate!

I know that sounds a little difficult to pinpoint an exact date, but I want you to make your best guess.

I will give you one hint...... we requested a child as young as possible. For those that are not familiar with China adoption, it is very very rare to get a child under 6 months of age. I would say the typical range is 6-18 months, unless you are requestiing an older child.

Got it?

Pick a province and her birthdate(month/day/year)and leave me a comment.

The contest will stay open until we get our referral. You can only enter once and if no one guesses the correct date, we are going to go with whoever was the closest. If we have a tie, the names will go in a hat and one winner will be chosen.

Let the guessing game begin!

Good luck..... I cannot wait to see one of you wearing this beautiful bracelet!

Special thanks to Shelly who so graciously donated this piece for the contest.
Love you girl!!!