Celebrating Six Years of Marriage

December 31, 2010

Happy Anniversary BW CUTOUT

me and the girls BLOG IT


Love is patient, Love is kind,
It does not envy, it does not boast,
It is not proud, it is not rude,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil,
but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.

Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

Lover never fails

Corinthians 13:4-8

Family of Three BLOG IT

Reception Collage BLOG IT

Happy New Year BLOG IT

Six years ago we began our life together as a family of three, Pat, Nick, and me.

It was a beautiful winter day that I will always remember as we stood up at the altar and took our vows in front of many family and friends.

After the ceremony we had the most incredible celebration that seemed to last all night. We had a big screen on the dance floor at midnight and we all celebrated and rang in the the New Year as we watched the ball drop in Time Square!

It was definitely a New Year's to remember for all of us. It was the beginning of our life together and it is hard to believe how much has happened in the last 6 years. I never imagined that our lives and our family would be so full and so blessed.

I can't imagine a single day without my husband by my side. He is there to celebrate all the good in our lives, but he is also there when I neeed him most or when things aren't going exactly as planned.

He is my rock, he is my best friend, he is a fantastic father and husband, but most of all, he is my true companion.

Happy Anniversary Pat.

Here is to many many happy, healthy, and wonderful years ahead!

I love you always and forever!


Snapshots of Christmas Morning

December 29, 2010

I always seem to stress and get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle during those last few days that lead up to Christmas and then the holiday comes and goes in the blink of an eye and I feel as though I didn't get to relax and enjoy it.

This year I made it a point to chill out and not sweat the small stuff. I really wanted to cherish every moment since this was Reagan's first Christmas.

We did have a wonderful holiday. My only disappointment was that we didn't have Nick with us Christmas Eve and first thing Christmas morning.

Ever since his Dad and I divorced, we had agreed on the holiday arrangement. We alternate who gets him Christmas Eve. Last year, we had him Christmas Eve and first thing Christmas Morning, so this year he was with his Dad. As you will see, there are very few pictures of him. He got to our house with just enough time to open his gifts before we had to leave and head to my parents. It all worked out, it just would have been nice to have all the kids together to open their gifts.

These pictures not the greatest and I didn't even attempt to edit most of them. The light was horrible and I was forced to use my speedlite(which I never do) and when I did not use the speedlite, I had my ISO cranked up to the max, so they are pretty grainy or noisy, but at least I captured some memories....right?

Santa's Cookies and Milk Collage
Sarah was especially excited when she saw that Santa left a note in her favorite colors, pink and purple! She was also happy with her decision to leave him a few oreos in addition to standard Christmas cookies. It appears that Santa loves oreos as much as Sarah does. He also eats them just like her.....licks the filling and leaves the "lids".

Opening gifts and getting hungry collage
Sarah had to show Reagan how it was done as she was a little unsure what to do with all of these wrapped gifts under the tree. After four years, Sarah is a pro:)

Lego Building Collage
The giant pink and purple legos were a big hit with both Sarah and Reagan.

MandM Collage 2
Santa left Sarah two packs of M&M's in her stocking and the minute Sarah emptied her stocking on the floor, Reagan scooped them up. She has never had an M&M(to my knowlegde), but she was drawn to them and once she got them in her little hands, she would not let them go.

MandM Collage
It was either the smell of the chocolate or the sound that they made when she shook them, but they were the highlight of her morning. I love the shot of her looking at Sarah and touching her face as if to say "Hey, stop looking at Mommy and help me open these things so I can eat them"

Sitting with Legos and MM'sBLOG

I'm Hungry
After she gave up on the M&M's, she moved onto Santa's leftover cookies. She started eating the cookies on the plate and then I realized it would probably be a good idea to feed my frustrated and hungry baby girl some breakfast.

Ball Pit Collage
While I got breakfast together, Pat put up the princess ball pit and as soon as the girls saw the balls go in, our familyroom turned into the set of wrestlemania! There were balls flying everywhere, lots of giggles, a few headlocks, and some serious staticky hair!!

Nick Christmas Collage BW
Before long Nick joined us and opened his gifts too! He was thrilled with his new guitar. He got his first guitar last Christmas and has been taking lessons for a year now and he LOVES it. Reagan jumped in to help him open his gifts... I think she was hoping to find more M&M's!

Reagan BW
After all the gifts were opened and we got everything cleaned up, Reagan put on her pretty little Christmas dress.

Reagan Ball Pit Collage

Just as we were getting ready to head out the door to go see my parents, Reagan decided to jump in the ball pit one last time!

This was such a special holiday for our family as we have waited so long for Reagan. It felt so good to finally have her here with us after the many Christmases of the past that were filled with waiting and wonder. It was definitely a holiday to remember.

I did find myself getting a little wheepy at times when I looked at her. The memories of her humble beginnings and her orphanage are never far from my thoughts, but they were especially close this Christmas.

I couldn't help but to think of how different her life would be if she were still in China and I could not stop thinking about the many children who are still there waiting for forever families. Many who will never get to experience "Christmas" as we know it.

My trip to China changed me in ways that I can't even begin to explain, but it has definitely given me perspective on life and the things that really matter. We are so fortunate for all that we have and I am trying hard not to take any of it for granted.

Merry Christmas

December 22, 2010

Front Cover Christmas 2010 BLOG
Front Cover

Inside Spread Christmas 2010 BLOG
Inside Spread

Inside Left
A closer look at the inside left

Inside Right
A closer look at the inside right

Back Cover Christmas 2010 BLOG
The Back of the card

This is my last post before Christmas. I know that I cheated because nothing about this post is black and white and it happens to be Wednesday, but I am stretched a little thin this week and don't have much extra time to play on the computer, edit photos, or blog, but I at least wanted to share our Christmas Card.

I hope that you all have the most wonderful holiday season.

May your Christmas be filled with love, laughter, and many blessings!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

With Love,

Lisa, Pat, Nick, Sarah, and Reagan

Spreading a Little Christmas Cheer

December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas 2 BLOG IT
"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas."
~Peg Bracken~

Joy to the world BLOG IT
"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."
~W. T. Ellis~

Sitting by the trees after they had fallen BLOG IT
"At Christmas, all roads lead home."
~Marjorie Holmes~

In the dark BLOG IT
"When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness."
~Bob Hope~

Happy Holidays, Only 5 Shopping Days to go!
It will be a mad dash to the end for me. A full week of work, shopping, wrapping, and baking still yet to be done. Even with that long list hanging over my head, I am still trying to take the time to enjoy the true magic of the season and all the blessings we have to celebrate this year!

A special thanks to Kim and Kate for sending Reagan the most adorable little mudpie Christmas dress! I could not wait for the holidays to get here so she could wear it! I also need to thank to my Sister In Law, Ann who sent multiple pairs of fancy little mudpie socks. As luck would have it, one of the pairs matched the dress perfectly!

Who knew my black distressed dining room table could double as a studio set up. I had Pat help me turn the table on it's side near the big window and used natural light and a little help from a reflector. I think I prefer the white foambaord background that I used for her bday pictures, but they were trashed from all the cake and I did not replace them yet, so I had to come up with plan b. This series is a little different for me and doesn't fit my usual style, but I think that the black worked well behind those bright and vibrant colors in her dress.

Black and White Wednesday - "It Never Turns Out As Planned"

December 15, 2010

Gosh, has it really been an entire week since I have posted?

Between adjusting to life with a new little one, just returning to work, and Christmas only days away, I am failing miserably at keeping up around here.

I feel horrible because I don't think I have even taken a picture of Reagan or any of the kids in almost two weeks. Reagan is changing so quickly and I really need to make sure that I keep taking photos even though I am back at work.

Most of the time, I can squeeze in a little photoshoot over the weekend, but this weekend, I didn't even have time for that. We had two things that were at the top of our "to do" list. Addressing our Christmas Cards and putting up our Christmas Tree. I am happy to say that both are done....FINALLY! Those Christmas Cards seem to hang over my head every year, but this year was extra stressful.

Usually at the very least, I have outfits in mind or purchased by Halloween, but because of the trip to China and not really knowing Reagan's size, I was totally unprepared and rushing around at the last minute to find something for all of them to wear.

It was the weekend before Thanksgiving when I finally got everything together and knew it was going to be now or never and I had to stop wasting time and being so picky with the outfits. It was really one of the last weekends that we had warmish weather and I knew if I waited any longer, I would be forced to do something indoors, which I wanted to avoid at all costs.

That Saturday morning, I prepared both Nick and Sarah and asked them to please cooperate because I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me with Reagan.

It took me almost two hours to get everyone dressed and everything packed up and ready to head out. You forget all the things you might need with a one year old. I had even packed little noisemaker toys, stuffed animals, and rattles so that I could use them to get Reagan's attention.

We arrived at the park and I start unloading the car and I see out of the corner of my eye Sarah starting to skip around the car. I walked over to her and told her that she should not skip or run beacuse if she falls, she will ruin her outfit. Cream leggings, cream skirt. I know, what was I thinking?

I had Reagan and my big bag of tricks loaded up in the stroller and we found a spot to try a couple of pictures. Reagan starts crying becuase she does not want Nick to hold her, she wants me. I knew this was not going to be easy..... I took about 5 frames and said to the kids, this is not working, let's try something else where we can put Reagan in a different position.

I turn around and start walking with the stroller when I hear "SPLAT"

Sarah decided to RUN down the hill and fell down on gravel. As soon as I heard the sound, I knew it was not going to be good. She stands up and the knees of her pants are black and basically RUINED. She was fine, thank goodness. Luckily the leggings were made out of a sweater material and were super thick and spared her knees of anything more than a few scratches.

UGH!! I don't know who wanted to cry more, her or me! The thought of packing it up and going home and having to do this all over again was not appealing to me, so I had to think fast.

I got her calmed down and cleaned up and told her we were going to go back to the car to fix her pants. We turned them around backwards so all the dirt was in the back and you would not see it from the front.

It worked and we made our second attempt to try to get something.

I was losing my patience and was really just not in the photography zone whatsoever. I just kept snapping in hopes of getting something. Looking back, I probably should have packed it up the minute she fell, but I just wanted to get it over with.

I did get a few usable shots. They are not what I wanted or what I had planned in my head and they are in no way creative, but they are my kids and I think they are pretty darn cute(Biased I know)so I guess that is all that matters!!

The dreaded shoot bw cropped BLOG2
Next week I will post our actual Christmas Card, but for today, I thought I would post one of our outtakes in black and white because it perfectly captured the mood that afternoon! I think the only person who did not shed a tear was Nick. He did a wonderful job of trying to get the girls to cooperate and also gave his Mom some moral support when she needed it:)

Black and White Wednesday - "Due Dita"

December 8, 2010

I finally took a little time to go through the backlog of photos on my computer and while sorting, I came across this picture that was taken on Day Four in China.

Just last week, I had dressed Reagan in this same outfit and happened to snap a few pictures of the girls as they were playing.

So I started to compare the snapshots I took last week to the ones I took in China and there were a few things that really struck me.

Her hair has REALLY grown a lot since we met. In fact, I am debating taking her for the first cut/trim.

The second thing I noticed was how much she has filled out. She was not eating very much when we were in China. Those first few days, she barely ate or drank anything at all. By the time we left China, she was downing lots of formula, but not much food except for cheerios:)

Well, that has ALL CHANGED. She LOVES to eat(just like her Mommy)and has eaten and enjoyed almost everything we have fed her, even her veggies!

Look at me on the bike BLOG IT
When I first looked at the photo taken in China, I was immediately drawn to her expression. Her eyes really looked so different. The sparkle that we see today was not there, you could see that she was still a little shocked and unsure of her surroundings.

The biggest change in her has to be those two fingers!!
She had her fingers in her mouth 24/7 that first week. I kept checking them to make sure that they were not chapped or calloused because she always had them in her mouth and never took them out.

A lot of people were commenting how cute it was to see her with those fingers in her mouth in every picture. My uncle had sent me a text while we were in China to tell me that he was going to call her "Due Dita". That is Italian for "Two Fingers".

By week two, Marla and I both noticed she wasn't sucking them quite as often as she had the week prior. We knew it was her coping mechanism and it was the only way she knew how to comfort herself and the longer she was with us and began to trust us, the less she needed to suck those fingers.

The girls on the steps in pink and white sweats BLOG IT
Seven weeks later, "Due Dita" only sucks her two fingers when she is tired and ready for bed, or if she is put into a situation where her surroundings are unfamiliar and there are a lot of new people around her. Those fingers are the tell tale sign that she is feeling uncomfortable and insecure.

These days it seems she is keeping those cute little hands busy playing with toys and......pulling out her hairbows.....just like her big sister!

Just wanted to thank you all for the words of encouragment on Monday. Reagan did really well and didn't even cry when I left her and Sarah with the babysitter. As I expected, the change has been harder on me than it has been on them. Monday felt like it was as long as the plane ride to China. I arrived home a little after 5pm and was greeted by some very happy faces. I let Reagan stay up a little later than normal just so I could get some extra cuddle time before we had to call it a night.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

December 6, 2010

Batgirl BLOG IT 2
Today is a day that seemed so far away, yet it has come so fast.

Batgirl BLOG IT 1
This is all still so new and I feel like I need more time to savor and cherish the every day moments.

Batgirl BLOG IT 3
Unfortunately, after 7 wonderful weeks, I have to go back to work. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this very special time with the girls.

Batgirl BLOG IT 4
We had many lazy days around the house while Pat was at work and Nick was in school. We "dressed up" many mornings and did lots of fun photoshoots. We spent hours upon hours in the family room with toy boxes dumped all over the floor. I loved every single moment and most of all, I loved watching the girls interact. You could see their bond growing stronger and stronger with each day that passed.

Batgirl BLOG IT 5
Even though Reagan has done so well and come so far, there are still those fleeting moments when I look in her eyes and I know she needs me to reassure her that everything is okay and she is safe.

Batgirl BLOG IT 6
Knowing that the girls have each other and that they will be together should give me a level of comfort, but it doesn't.

I am really struggling with returning to work this time around. I should know the drill by now, as I have walked this path twice before. I had to return to work after giving birth to Nick in 1998 and adopting Sarah in 2006, but this time it feels different. I have spent the last week crying every time I even think of going back to work.

Reagan spent the first 10 months of her life in an orphanage without a Mommy and I feel like I need to give her more because of that. There were so many things that I missed and it breaks my heart to think that I could miss something else or even worse, that I won't be there when she really needs me.

We did a little test run with the babysitter last week. Sarah and Reagan went for four hours and it was really the first time Reagan and I have been apart since we met. The four hours felt like an eternity, but when I walked in the door, there she was smiling, playing, and having a good time. It was evident that the four hour separation was harder on me than it was on her.

The test runs are over and today is the real deal. It is not going to be easy, but there is nothing I can do except hope and pray that we all settle into our new routine and before long my anxiety and apprehension will begin to subside.

I am walking out the door this morning before she wakes. I promised myself that I would keep it together and try to stay stong, but no matter how hard I try, I can't ignore the pangs in my heart, nor can I fight back the tears.

Black and White Wednesday - "Sneaky Little Sarah"

December 1, 2010

Sharing BLOG IT 8
I have been sitting on this little story for a few weeks and finally had a few minutes to share it!

The number one question I seem to get right now is "How are the girls together? or How is Sarah handling life with a new little sister?"

Really, it has gone much more smoothly than I ever imagined. I thought there would be more tantrums and "green eyes" coming from Sarah, but she has really been good.

Of course we have a little acting out when visitors come over because she can see how much of the focus is on Reagan and she was always the center of attention, but that is all normal and we don't see it nearly as much now as we did that first week or two Reagan and I returned from China.

The girls are inseparable. They play well together and Sarah does not want to do anything unless Reagan gets to do it too. Every night when I feed Reagan her bedtime bottle, Sarah will come over and ask if she is going to bed. When I say "yes" Sarah will beg me to keep her awake so she can play with her a little longer. It is really SO SWEET!

They are getting along great, but there is one small area that we need to continue to work on with Sarah. . . .


Sharing BLOG IT 1
You may not be able to tell in the very first picture, but you can definitely see it in this photo. She is toting around an almost bigger than her, backpack!

This is her beloved Princess Backpack and it is usually in one of the toy baskets in our family room. If we have to go somewhere, she will fill it with coloring books and markers or puzzles and bring it with her in the car.

One night I went to go to bed and I walked through our bar room and saw her princess backpack shoved into the corner. I didn't think much of it, so I picked it up and put it back in the toy box and then went to bed.

The next night I saw it there again, so I picked it up and took it back where it belonged.

The very next day, I was on the floor playing with both of the girls and I noticed that Sarah was watching Reagan and if Reagan showed interest in a particular toy, Sarah would take it from her and hand over some other random toy {a toy that Sarah probably did not like} and then she exited the room and came back empty handed.

I had a feeling that something was up and my intuition was correct. I walked straight to the corner where I had found the back pack the night prior and sure enough, it was there again. This time I opened it.

Stuffed to the gills with all of the toys that Reagan liked to play with......LOL!!!!

It was funny to think of Sarah plotting this out, but I knew I had to explain to her why this was wrong and that she really needed to share and understand the toys were for both of them to play with.

Sharing BLOG IT 4
We are on to you Sneaky Little Sarah......
Reagan might be young, but she is getting wise and one of these days when you least expect it, you will go to pull something out of her hand, she is going to grab it right back.
For now, you are just going to get the evil eye!

Since confronted, she has not stashed the back pack in any odd corners, but we have noticed her carrying it around the house with a few of HER favorite things, not Reagan's. I guess a little progress is better than none:) She'll get there, it is just going to take some time!