Black and White Wednesday - "Nick"

September 29, 2010

Nick Black and White RSugar and AWhite BLOG IT
Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.
~Marc Brown~

Nick On the Tracks BW BLOG IT

It has been a long time since I have done an update on Nick, so I thought I would take a minute to fill you in on what is going on in his world.

7th Grade is whole new ball game, but he seems to be adjusting very well.

It is the first year that they are changing classes for every subject. He is getting a little taste of what High School will be like in two years.

He attends a Catholic school that is K-8 and it seems like yesterday we were just enrolling him to start. The years have really flown by and our very shy little boy who cried and clung to me when I dropped him off each morning has morphed into a VERY SOCIAL young man.

Nick is the kind of kid that is friends with everybody. His teachers always tell me that he is such a thoughtful and compassionate boy and that he goes out of his way to help other classmates. Hearing that is like music to my ears.

In my opinion, going to school is not just about getting good grades, it is about real life and he is going to be put into situations where he will need to use his judgement and not cave to the pressure of others. So far he has made us very proud and we hope that he continues to make good decisions.

We are just around the corner from the big "13"...... life is changing fast and furiously. All of a sudden Nick is noticing girls and they are noticing him. As a parent it is hard to think about your child approaching that age..... but it is part of life.....and whether we are ready for it or not, we have to deal with it.

The social agenda each weekend has become more of a priority to Nick, but in between the time he spends with his friends and his guitar lessons{which he is still loving btw}he makes time to play with Sarah.

They still do their fair share of arguing and bickering, but they can go outside and ride bikes or scooters, kick a ball back and forth, or play a game of hide and go seek for hours at a time.

When asked how he feels about having a new sister, Nick usually smiles and says, "now I am going to have two little sisters trying to tag along and mimic everything I do"

Little does he know the kind of attention he is going to get when he is seen with not one, but two cute little sisters.

Something tells me he won't be complaining about having them tag along.

Another Monday Afternoon Surprise

September 27, 2010

I am starting to look forward to Mondays in Philly because it seems everytime I make the commute to our corporate office, I get some kind of surprise/update from our adoption agency!

Today was no different....

Shortly after lunch, I received our final travel itinerary complete with the names and numbers of our travel guides for each city!!

I read through it all and at the end there was a little surprise........

A new picture of Reagan!!!

Reagan 10 months-P-BLOG
I screamed out loud when I saw this sweet little face pop up on my phone!

She is growing and changing so quickly....... it makes me sad that we have missed the first 10 months of her life, but we are very thankful to have so many photos of her. We will treasure them always.

Part of me is still in disbelief that I am going China and in less than three weeks, I will be holding her in my arms.

For those that have asked...... yes, I am still up here floating in the clouds and something tells me that I am not going to be making my way down anytime soon.

I will post the details of our trip tomorrow. In the meantime, I couldn't wait to share the cuteness:)

Back By Popular Demand - "Apple Bundt Cake"

September 26, 2010

Pat and I took the kids up to the Apple Orchard on Saturday with some friends. It was a quick trip and I didn't take as many photos as I had hoped, but we did have some fun and of course, came home with LOTS and LOTS of apples!

Basket of apples WM
Before we left, Sarah asked for her own special basket, because she does not like the big cardboard boxes that they give you to take into the field. We thought this one was just her size:)

Cinnamon Nutmeg and Apples BLOG
Pat has been talking about my apple cake and apple pie ever since we had made these plans to go apple picking two weeks ago. He even gave me the ever so subtle reminder to make sure I had the recipes handy.

Apple Bundt Cake BLOG
I didn't have everything I needed for the pie, so I went with this super easy and delicious apple bundt cake.

Some of you might remember this recipe from last year, but I figured I would post it again since we are in the heart of apple season~

Here is what you will need:

1 cup of Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 cups of Granulated Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tsp of Vanilla
1 tsp of Cinnamon
1/4 tsp of Ground Nutmeg
2 Cups of Diced Apples
1 Cup of Chopped Walnuts(optional)if you omit the nuts, add a little extra apple
2 Cups of Flour
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Baking Soda

Mix together the Oil, Sugar, Eggs, Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeng, and Vanilla. Then mix in the apples.

In a separate bowl sift the Flour, Salt, and Baking Soda. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until blended.

Pour into a Greased and Floured Bundt Pan and Bake at 350 Degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Piece of Cake BLOG
I cut this piece and photographed it while it was still hot.....
Oooey Goooey GOODNESS.....It was delicious!

I promise, if you like apples, you will love this cake.

Give it a try!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

We Have Our Consulate Appointment!

September 22, 2010

This week started the way last week ended.......


When we got the call late Friday afternoon telling us that we had finally gotten travel approval, our agency said that they were going to put in the request for our Consulate Appointment. Typically it can take up to 3 business days to hear back so they told us we would know for sure by this Wednesday.

Monday morning, shortly after I walked into my office in Philadelphia, my phone rang.....

They granted us our first choice of consulate appointments, which means that we will be heading to China on Friday, October 15th and I will be holding sweet little Reagan Elizabeth WenYi in my arms for the first time on Monday the 18th.
That is less than four weeks away....{Insert very loud scream HERE}

BW Reagan - Mink BLOG
I have been sitting on this photo for the last few weeks.
This was one that I received from Ann at Red Threads when we ordered the care package. Reagan looks so serious here..... I love her furrowed brows, her beautiful eyes, her little lips and cute nose.
I just can't wait to hold her tight and kiss her pretty little face:)

We are still waiting on our final itinerary, but should have it by Thursday, Friday at the latest.

We are the only family traveling from our agency.... so no travel group, just me, Marla, Reagan, and our guide!

At first I was a little disappointed, but I believe it is actually working out to our advantage as we will have more individualized attention and the freedom to pick and choice what we want to do and not have to go along with what the group wants to do. Kind of like a private tour of China.

We decided not to go to Bejing and will be flying directly to Changsha. While in Changsha, we will be staying at the Huan Tian Hotel.

From there we will head to Guangzhou as most US families do...... we are still not sure which hotel we will be staying at while there. Unfortunately, we will be arriving while the big trade fair is going on and the hotel rooms come at a premium price during that time. It will either be the White Swan(which is where our agency usually goes), the Victory, or the Garden Hotel. I am sure we will make the best of things wherever we stay.... at least we will have Reagan with us! That is what counts....right?

There is one more very exciting little tidbit I got this week.......

The minute I found out that we were not part of a travel group, I inquired about visiting Reagan's orphanage in Chenzhou.

I have been told that it is a 5 and a half hour bus ride to get there from Changsha and normally they will not drive you out that far, so I started to do some research and talked to other people.

I found out that we can take a high speed bullet train from Changsha to Chenzhou and it would get us there in just an hour and a half. I passed this info on to my agency along with my STRONG DESIRE to go see the orphanage and her finding place. They told me that they could ask the orphanage director but they could not make any promises. If she said no, we have to respect her decision.

This afternoon I got an email that said we were granted permission to visit!!
The orphanage director said that she would allow us to come down for the day.

For me, this is something I feel I really need to do. I have to see where she has been living the last 10 months, I want to see the little babies that she has played with, I want to meet the Nannies who have cared for her. It is a little bit of Reagan's life that one day, when she is ready, I will be able to share with her.

If I am interpreting the email correctly, I believe we will be making the trip to Chenzhou on Wednesday, October 20th, which happens to be my birthday...... that makes it that much more special to me.

I realize that this trip will not be easy. We are going to go through a range of emotions......and so will Reagan, but I have to go..... I need to go and see or I will always wonder.

In the end, Marla and I have high hopes that we will be able to spread a little sunshine{and some goodies}to the children of Chenzhou.....and at the same time we will be making memories that will last a lifetime for my daughter.

That is all I have for now.... I will update when I get the rest of our info.

~Happy Wednesday~

Pouch or Push?

September 20, 2010

Since we got the official approval on Friday afternoon, we have been kicking it into high gear around here getting things ready for the big trip!

Photo Courtesy of Ergo

Yesterday, Sarah and I were in Reagan's closet when she spied the Ergo.

She asked me what it was, so I put it on to show her and then explained that I was going to use it in China to carry Reagan around.

I have never carried any of my children pouch style.... with both Nick and Sarah, I just used a stroller when we went places that would require us to carry them for long periods of time.

Some people prefer a stroller to a baby carrier and vice versa.
For bonding and attachment purposes, I am going the "pouch" route with Reagan.
At this point, I don't have plans to take a stroller along...... and if by chance she does not like the Ergo, I have heard you can pick up strollers in China for the bargain price of $10-$ that is what I will do.

Ergo Baby Blog 3
After Sarah and I finished up in Reagan's closet, we went outside to play. She ran back into the house and then came out sporting this.

Ergo Baby Blog 1
Sarah wanted to bring her baby outside and "wear her" like I am going to do with Reagan in China:)

Ergo Baby Blog 2
Sarah prefers to wear her "Baby Reagan" on her back...... even though I told her I would be carrying Reagan in the front.

She has been very inquisitive the last two weeks and has started to ask a lot of questions about Reagan. I think it is good and I believe she is getting anxious.... just like the rest of us. She continues to ask me almost daily....."Are you going to China today"
Soon Sarah......very soon:)

So.... the Ergo is one of the very first things I am able to cross off the packing list. I still have a long list of things I need to pick up yet.

For those that have made this trip before...... what are the one or two things that you could not have lived without when you were in China? I would love to know.

I am just thankful that it will not be too cold when we go..... should make packing a little eassier. Ummm... at least I hope. I am one of those people who will go away for two days and I still need a supersized suitcase.

It will be interesting to see if I can scale back.... Pat is already placing bets.
Next thing on my list might need to be those spacesaver bags:)

Shhh...... I have something important to tell you!

September 17, 2010

Shhhhhh BLOG



I was beginning to lose hope as travel approvals started to arrive yesterday, but ours did not come in.

After sitting on my hands all morning, I finally caved and called in around 2pm and they said it hadn't arrived......

about an hour later the phone rang and guess what?

They got their delivery, later than normal and it contained our travel approval.

Thank heavens...... prayers have been answered!

Not knowing was stressing me out and causing major anxiety.

Our agency put in a request for our Consulate Appointment just minutes ago and we will know if they accepted it by Wednesday.

We will be leaving on either Friday, October 15th or Friday, October 22nd....... of course our hopes are set on the 15th, but it is out of our control at this point.

Another step closer to our sweet little Reagan!

Only one more piece of information and we will be officially planning our travel.

I can't think of a better way to kick off the weekend.

Cheers my friends..... It is time to go celebrate!

Workshop Photos - Familiar Faces

September 15, 2010

I am still trying to catch up after my fun filled workshop weekend. The girls and I had a full day of shooting after learning the techincal side of things and then on Sunday we did a 4 hour crash course on Photoshop...but after all the tough stuff was over, we enjoyed nice meals together and had wonderful conversations about all we have experienced in our lives. Sometimes I almost forget that these are teaching weekends....I have been so lucky to have had the most amazing women sign up and I always walk away from these workshops feeling as if I just spent a weekend with some of my best friends.

The Girls and Me in Close BLOG IT
Let me start by introducing you to some truly special women.....
Bickies(that is her incognito, bloggy name), Heather, Diana, Me, Janet, Dita, and Becky.
Make sure you stop by to check out their might just get a glimpse of what they shot this weekend:)

With everything going on right now, I have only just begun to edit my photos, and I know that the other girls that attended are still in the weeds like I am...... but I couldn't wait to share some of the my favorites.

Besides, I don't have any news to report and I need to do something to keep my mind off waiting for the phone to ring. Still waiting on that travel approval:(

The Girls in action BLOG IT
A little behind the scenes shot of the girls in action.

Nick and Alicia - The Look BLOG IT
Nick and Alicia were our first models of the day. We shot in the direct sunlight which was a bit of a challenge, but it was a great learning experience as most of us try to avoid it.

Alicia split rail fence BLOG IT
As per usual, it was hard not to take a million pictures of Alicia.... she is simply beautiful and the camera loves her.

Jacket over the shoulder BLOG IT

A different perspective BLOG IT

Shelly BLOG IT
My stunning BFF Shelly came out for our afternoon session..... We were all going crazy over all of her fabulous jewels that she wears so well.

Delaney Close Up BLOG IT
Shelly's gorgeous daughter Delaney.

Dita's Darlings BLOG IT
Most of you will recognize this adorable duo.... Sweetie Pie and WonderBoy...... otherwise known as Dita's Darlings! Wonderboy is as handsome as can be and a fabulous big brother to his sweet little sis.

Sweetie on the steps2 BLOG IT
I know I posted this yesterday, but I had to post it again because I LOVE it so much. She is like a miniature Dita..... she's got her mother's beauty and personality:)

Sisters BLOG IT
A few more familiar faces....
This precious pair just melts my heart!
I had the pleasure of meeting them for the first time last Christmas...... and they won me over in an instant.
They are as cute as can kind and caring.....just like their super special Mom:)

Hannah Corner Crop BLOG IT
Look at those dimples!
I just want to reach out and squeeze her pretty little face.

WOWZA....that incredible red hair and those beautiful baby blues.
She is one gorgeous little girl.

Sisters BW2 BLOG IT
I liked this one so much, I decided to do it in B&W too:)

Hannah on the stone steps BLOG IT
This was one of the last photos I took on Saturday. We were packing up and getting ready to head out. I had actually put my camera away, but had to pull it out again to capture this cute moment.

Hope you enjoyed the little workshop preview.
I am sure I will be sneaking some more photos in here and there.

Enjoy the rest of your week~

Still Waiting

September 13, 2010

No one told me it was going to be like this.....

I thought waiting over four years for our referral was difficult, but in comparison, those years of waiting were nothing compared to the last few weeks.

It is hard to describe, but once you get that picture and you see a beautiful little face staring back at finally becomes real. I can't stop looking at her photos and I seriously cannot get to China soon enough.

The last 4 weeks feel like they have crawled by at a snail's pace.... everyday I am waiting for the phone to ring and when I answer, I am longing to hear the words "We got your Travel Approval"

So far we have not heard anything, but we are hopeful it will be sometime this week.

Luckily, I stayed plenty busy this past weekend.
I hosted another photography workshop and was blessed to have another fantastic group of women. They were all very eager to learn and blew me away with what they accomplished in two days. I really enjoyed spending time with each and every one of them and cannot wait to show you some of their work.

Sweetie on the steps2BLOG
Do you recognize this little Sweetie?
She was just one of our adorable little models this weekend. She was experiencing a different kind of waiting..... as in hurry up and take this picture, I am sick of sitting here waiting for you to snap, I would rather run around and have fun with all these other little girls:)

More cuteness (and familiar faces) to come

She Rides Like The Wind

September 8, 2010

Black and White Collage
Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.
~John F. Kennedy, U.S. president~

Full Bike Shot Collage

Look at me go BLOG

Taking a break BLOG

Downhill Foot Collage

The serious rider 2 BLOG
Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.
~Albert Einstein~

Sarah has a new passion....... Bike Riding!
About two weeks ago she tossed aside the little red tricycle to upgrade to the new big girl bike (with training wheels for now) and we have spent morning, noon, and night outside with her as she pedals until her heart's content.

This weekend we took her to a local bike park that has an inner and outer loop. I tried to guide her through the inner loop (the shorter one) and she said NO WAY.... I want to go on the "other road"

Not only did she make her way around the "other road" once, she went around twice!

She is having so much fun on that bike and Pat and I get the biggest kick out of watching her go! She is really growing up before our eyes.......... and as she is quick to point out these days, that she is not a baby anymore, she is officially "The Big Sister"

Although.... after she says that she is the big sister, she has to let us know that she is not going to share her bike with Reagan because she will be too little to ride it.....LOL!

I think this is all finally becoming real for Sarah..... as she sees the nursery coming together and closets and drawers filled with blankets and clothes, she is realizing that this little girl is coming!

Yesterday when we woke up, she looked at me and said, "Mommy, are you going to China today to bring home my sister?" I couldn't help but smile......and I said, "Not today honey, but hopefully she will be coming home very soon."

I think Sarah is ready for her new role and I believe she is going to make a GREAT big sister:)

Special Delivery

September 1, 2010

I am going to attempt to catch everyone up on the last week! We have just a few things going on around here . . .

Last Monday, after finishing up some of the crucial paperwork for the adoption, I decided to get started on a care package for Reagan.

During the long wait, I had often seen and heard of other adoptive families sending their children care packages while they were waiting for their travel approval, but I guess I never realized that there were actually people that did or provdided this kind of service.

Just days after we got our referral, I started to inquire and ask for advice from all of my friends who have traveled down this road before. Some made their own care packages and sent them off and others used a service.

Since time is of the essence and I have a full time job and not a lot of free time, I opted to go with the service.... and boy was I happy that I made this decision.

I placed the order Monday afternoon and by Tuesday afternoon, Ann, the owner of Red Threads, said that she was going to contact the orphanage to see if she could get us some updated photos of Reagan while she worked on putting together the care package.

To my surprise, Thursday I opened my email and saw three more photos of sweet little Reagan! She had the pictures to us before the actual care packaged was mailed out.

Reagan August 25-1fix
I almost cried when I saw this photo.... you can tell she has grown a little bit and she looked so darn cute in her little beach dress.

Care Package 1
On Friday, Ann sent me another email that contained a picture showing me all of the contents that she put into the package. I ordered a disposable camera, a soft photo album(and then I emailed her photos of us so she could write our names in mandarin on each photo), a minky blanket, a rattle/stuffed animal, pjs and onesies for the orphanage, some cookies for the staff, and I was able to write a letter to Reagan's caregiver and Ann had it translated for me.

I could not have been more pleased with Ann and her service....I would highly recommend her to anyone who is looking to send something to their child in China.

As an added bonus, I recently found out that she actually takes people shopping while in China. Marla and I will definitely be meeting Ann when we get to Guanzhou for the last leg of our trip. She seems like such a sweet soul and I am anxious to meet her in person. According to a few close friends, she takes you to all the best places for Jade, Pearls, Silks, Handbags, etc.

Beach Steps BW BLOG

Black and White -Looking at each other BLOG

With all of the excitement surrounding the adoption, the end of the summer has really snuck up on us. Nick just returned from his last beach vacation only for me to realize that school starts in just ONE WEEK!!! I kind of forgot about all the things that I need to get done for back to school, so we are going to be running every night this week so he is all set for the first day:)

We also FINALLY started on Reagan's room......

It is a work in progress, but the crib is up and the bedding is here. That is a step in the right direction. I will share photos when we get a little more done. I really love the colors and the bedding is as cute in person as it was in the photos online:)

Hope you all have a wonderful week and great Labor Day! I am not sure I will have another opportunity to post before next week~

Sorry for more Cape Cod beach pictures..... with all the other things going on right now, I have not picked up my camera since the day that we got Reagan's referral:(