You've Come A Long Way Baby - "I Heart Faces - People's Choice"

January 31, 2011

Reagan CLOSE UP with Stuffed Animals BLOG2

When I look at this face it is very hard for me to believe that this is the same child that was placed in my arms just a little over 3 months ago in the Hunan Province of China. There is definitely a twinkle in her eyes today that just was not there those first few weeks.

Only on the rarest of occasions do we see traces of the shy, withdrawn, and scared little girl we first met that miraculous Monday morning in the civil affairs office.

In a short period of time Reagan has morphed into a happy, well adjusted little girl who wakes up each day ready to live her life to the fullest. At least that is how it appears to us when we walk into her bedroom each morning and see her standing(or sometimes bouncing)in her crib with an enormous smile on her face. She crinkles up her cute little nose and gives us her big toothy grin and we completely melt.

Not a day goes by that I don't flash back to the child I met in China and think "WOW, LOOK AT HER NOW". It really is amazing to me that these children who have endured so much in their short little lives, can adapt, adjust, and thrive so quickly.

A little over two weeks ago the girls were playing on the bed in Sarah's room with a bunch of stuffed animals. Reagan crawled right over to the edge where I was sitting and pulled two of her new furry friends up to her face and squeezed them with sheer delight.

As soon as I saw her face, I knew that this photo was going to be one of my favorites. I have taken MANY pictures of Reagan over the last few months(as most of you can attest), but this one really calls out to me because it so clearly represents how far she has come. When I look at this picture, I see a child who is happy, confident, secure, and LOVED.

I am participating in the I Heart Faces photo contest and this week's theme is "People's Choice".
Instead of having a guest judge pick the top ten photos, the public is going to decide this week.
Click the logo above to see all the beautiful entries and vote for Reagan, #38!
Oops.... Did I really just say that?
I meant to say, vote for your favorite photo:)
The voting begins on Tuesday and will close on Thursday Evening.

Better Together- "Sunday Snapshot"

January 30, 2011

Cooking with Mommy BLOG
For as long as I can remember, I woke up before anyone in our house. I would come downstairs and drink my coffee and get lost in the peace and quiet. It was my alone time and I could get a lot done in those first few hours.

That all changed when Reagan joined the family. She is an early riser just like her Mommy, so now it has become our special time together. We eat breakfast together and then she follows me around the kitchen as I clean up and prepare for the day.

Protecting her sister BLOG
Reagan loves to play, but she is not a big fan of playing by herself. Some mornings she almost seems lost until "Sleeping Beauty" decides to wake up and start her day!

getting my balance blog
There are always lots of giggles between them and Sarah has learned how to "encourage" her sister to do things and to imitate what she does and says.

Laverne and Shirley Collage BLOG IT
I don't necessarily think you need words to describe the interaction between these two. When you see them together it's about as plain as day.

Finger in mouth BLOG
They are totally fine on their own.......

Let me tell you a secret BLOG
But they are definitely "BETTER TOGETHER"

Just a snpashot of a typical morning with the girls. Hanging out in their pjs(thanks to all the friends and family members that have sent the girls such adorable matching pjs. They are putting them to good use with all of these lazy snow days)..... unruly bedhead and all!

I usally try to tame the wild hair with a bow or clippy so they can see what they are playing with, but Reagan is into removing anything and everything from her hair these days. I am at a loss with her hair.... it has a mind of it's own and I cannot get it to lay flat. I wet it and brush it and bounces right back up!

Speaking of bouncing right back up..... Anyone notice a certain someone is upright and on her feet in almost all of these photos?? She has already taken her first few steps, but is not quite sprinting across the room just yet!

Ni Hao Yall

To see more Sunday Snapshots or to participate with a snapshot of your own, head over to Stefanie's blog by clicking HERE.

Embracing the Beauty of Winter

January 28, 2011

Old Shed With Missing Window BW  BLOG
The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination.
~Terri Guillemets~

Slanted Tree BW BLOG
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.
~Robert Lee Frost~

Slanted Tree BLOG
Of winter's lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer's secret
Deep down within its heart

~Charles G. Stater~

Vyncrest Vines BW CROP BLOG
Every mile is two in winter.
~George Herbert~

Grape Vines BLOG
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
~Edith Sitwell~

I am counting the days until Spring, but it seems as though we have quite a bit of winter to get through first. We got hit with yet another snow storm this week. They were calling for approximately 4 inches on Wednesday and when we woke up Thursday morning we looked out the window to find over a foot of snow. We measured 14 inches in our driveway.

Schools were closed again and Pat and I were forced to juggle the kids and our work schedules. I had to sneak away to our local office for a meeting and even though I am getting annoyed with old man winter, I have to admit his effects were very beautiful!

I took these pictures as I drove to my meeting yesterday....never even had to leave the comforts of my warm car. Just pulled over and rolled down the window. Our development is situated between two local vineyards, so when you drive around out here you see rows and rows of grapevines. I thought they looked so pretty in the snow.

To all my friends in the Northeast.....Be safe and stay warm.
I hear that more snow is headed our way.

~Have a wonderful weekend~

Just a little update for all those who have contacted me over the last few weeks to say that they are interested in the upcoming photography classes and workshops. I will be sending out a mass email and putting up a blog post sometime during the first week of February with all the details and sign up information. Unfortunately, it took me a little longer than I anticipated to get everything together, but I am just about finished and I am VERY EXCITED.

Black and White Wednesday - "Spunky"

January 26, 2011

Baby Blues in the blanket2 BLOG IT
Sarah can be very silly and loves to play dress up and "Let's Pretend"

The stare down2 BLOG IT
She's as smart as whip and doesn't miss a trick. She shoots me "the look" and sometimes I forget that she is only four......

Sarah with Texture Vanilla BLOG IT
A sweet blog friend recently left me a comment about Sarah:

"She looks like she could have some major SPUNK and I love how her hair always looks like it's in motion."

When I read it, I thought..... yes, she is absolutely correct!

Sarah is a very outgoing, high energy child that has a personality that is larger than life. She definitely keeps us on our toes around here as we never know what she is going to come out with next.

SPUNKY fits her to a Tee..... Wouldn't you agree?

Inspired By A Clementine - CNY Photoshoot

January 24, 2011

Clementines BLOG IT
About two weeks ago, while walking through the grocery store I spotted clementines in the produce section. They looked and smelled so good, so I put a giant bag in my shopping cart.

The next morning, I peeled one and shared it wtih Reagan. The two of us were instantly hooked and we have been devouring them daily.

Late Saturday afternoon, Pat said he was going to do the grocery shopping (don't ya love a man who offers to do the food shopping) so I asked him to put clementines on the list.

About an hour later, Pat walked through the door with all the bags and we began to help him unpack. A few minutes into our unpacking and we turned around only to see that Reagan had made her way to the clementines. She was sitting there with the entire crate and she was trying to eat them.... peel and all!

Seeing her with those clementines made me think about Chinese New Year, which is just around the corner:)

I believe that tangerines and oranges are part of the traditional Chinese New Year celebration. I don't think clementines are, but I figured they were close enough....they are in the same fruit family.

Last year was the first time we officially celebrated. I bit the bullet and tried my hand at homemade dumplings. THEY ROCKED.... but they were a lot of work. We will be celebrating again this year, but I think we might be ordering take out. I don't know if I have it in me to cook like that again this year.

So as I began to think about what we are going to do for CNY, I remembered a few things I bought while in China.

I went into Reagan's closet and brought out a Chinese outfit to make sure it was going to fit and then it just kind of snowballed from there........

The clementines, the adorable outfit, a pair of red chopsticks, a big red bowl, my camera, and of course........sweet baby Reagan!

Together these things made for the perfect Chinese New Year Photoshoot.

Looking at Sarah up the steps BLOG IT
"Ummm... Are you going to let me eat the entire bowl?"
Freeze BLOG IT

An Orange For You2 BLOG IT
"Here Mommy, you can have one too!"

Bowl on angle 2 BLOG IT

Crossed Chopsticks BLOG IT
If the clementines were not enough to hold her interest, we added a little fun by giving her a set of chopsticks.

Look Out I have Chopsticks BLOG IT
"I've got chopsticks and I'm not afraid to use them!"
Smiling with the chopsticks BLOG IT

Tipping the bowl over BLOG IT
After a few minutes she decided to see if she could dump the bowl.

Kneeling at the bowl BLOG IT
"I have a better idea......"

Caught in midair BLOG IT
"I'm just going to throw them!"

All of this..... Inspired by a clementine~

After I downloaded these photos last night, I realized I should have pulled back and taken a shot so you could see my set up. I know when I did her 1st Birthday shoot with the cake, I had a few people ask how I accompished the look. It was done with white foam board in my foyer. I propped the front door open to let in some more natural light.

When I get back from work today I will try to recreate the set up and snap a photo so you can see how easily anyone can turn their home into a little studio.

UPDATE: I took a shot of my little makeshift studio tonight just before dinner. Of course at that hour the sunlight was not good. It was beginning to get dark, but it should give you the general idea.
The makeshift studio set up BLOG IT
Foamboard #1 has a white stool behind it to hold it in place.

Foamboards 2&3 are lying on the floor and I usually push them together so that you can't even tell there is a seem between them.

Foamboard #4 is used as a reflector to bounce the light coming in from the doorway on to the subject. I actually had to angle it in a little more than this photo shows in order to bounce the light properly. If you have a child sitting on the foamboard and you point #4 or a reflector towards them, you should see their face illuminate.

I have a round reflector that I usually use on location for shoots, but because it is round, it does not stay in place unless I have someone hold it. In this case, I opted for the foamboard since I could easily manage it and prop it without having that extra set of hands.

Hope this was helpful.
If anyone has any additional questions, let me know:)

Anyone Else . . . .

January 21, 2011

Anyone Bored BLOG IT
Totally Bored and Sick and Tired of Old Man Winter?

R is for Reagan BLOG IT
Yep.... We are too!!

Two snow days in one week and it looks like we are going to get another blast in a few days. At this rate, Nick will be going to school until the fourth of July!

Winter is starting to get on my nerves. I could use a little warmth and sunshine to brighten my mood. Not to mention that I would do anything to spend some time outdoors without having to bundle up in a heavy winter coat, snow boots, a hat, scarf, and gloves!

How many more days until Spring?

Yeah, that is what I thought.... still a long way to go!

Hopefully we can find something fun to do this weekend and stay warm in the process because cabin fever is setting in.

TGIF! Enjoy your weekend~

Happy 13th Birthday Nick!

January 19, 2011

Stylin in his new hat BLOG IT
Don't wait to make your son a great man - make him a great boy.
~Author Unknown~

Nick Peeling Garage Door BLOG IT
You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes.
~Walter M. Schirra, Sr~

Fading wall Nick Standing BW1 BRIGHT BLOG IT
When you teach your son, you teach your son's son.
~The Talmud~

Walking towards me BLOG IT
Son, you outgrew my lap, but never my heart.
~Author Unknown~

Nick Brick Wall Fading Behind BW BRIGHT BLOG IT
He who can be a good son will be a good father.
~Author Unknown~

From the back BLOG IT
Sons have always a rebellious wish to be disillusioned by that which charmed their fathers.
~Aldous Huxley~

Attitude BLOG IT
Boys are beyond the range of anyone's sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years.
~James Thurber~

Nick in the hat agains the brick wall angled BLOG IT
If I have a monument in this world, it is my son.
~Maya Angelou~

I can hardly believe that we are celebrating Nick's 13th Birthday! It seems like yesterday we were registering him for kindergarten and today he is officially a teenager.

Time certainly flies and I guess before we know it he will be driving a car and looking at colleges. OH, I AM NOT READY FOR WHAT LIES AHEAD!

Saturday, Nick and I got to spend a little quality time together. Pat kept the girls here at the house so we could head to the nearest mall to do some shopping.

We have been asking him what he wanted for his bday and he could not come up with anything, so we thought it would be fun just to spend a few hours shopping together so he could pick out some things!

He definitely knows what he likes and doesn't like. I actually think he has a pretty good sense of style and it was certainly fun to watch him navigate through the mall. At times I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to hold back from voicing my opinion, but I really want him to be able to express who he is (within reason of course) and not feel as though I am making choices for him.

The hat and the glasses were both things he picked out during our little excursion, so we made a little pit stop on the way home and he let me take a few pictures in front of this old brick building!

I think these pictures SCREAM TEENAGER.... Don't you?

Even though he has mastered the eyeroll, and on rare occasion gets a little lippy with us (like most teenagers do) he really is a good kid!

Nick is a wonderful big brother who looks out for his two little sisters. He is always willing to play with them and provide entertainment, even if that means getting in the princess tent:)

When we go to school to meet with his teachers, we are told that he is a very polite and well behaved young man who is a good friend to many and that he shows respect to his teachers and elders at all times.

We are so very proud of him!

Happy 13th Birthday Nick.

Keep doing what you are doing and continue to study hard!

We love you~

One Year of Black and White Wednesdays

January 12, 2011

Happy One Year of Black and White Wednesdays!

Looking over her shoulder in the chair BW BLOG IT
Can you believe we have all been doing this for 52 weeks?

WOW, that went by so quickly!

I thought I would throw in the towel long ago, but because of your weekly participation and photo inspiration, I have been able to keep it going!!

Reagan in the bedroom chair2 BLOG IT
There have been many Tuesday evenings that I have had to scramble to get a post up by midnight and hit publish with only seconds to spare. I had one little mishap while in China, but who can blame a girl with a 12 hour time difference and a new baby?

Standing in the chair color BLOG IT
I thought about changing things up for this year and possibly doing a theme each month or adding some kind of new twist . . . .

Crawling Off the Chair BLOG IT
But, I really like the simplicity of this little link party and I think it is best to keep doing what we have been doing.

Thanks for a GREAT year of black and white memories!

Hope that you all will continue to join me each week in 2011!

BTW, Remember that wall I wanted to complete in our home?

Well, I had good intentions. I have made a little progress with a few new pictures making their appearance up there, but I still have piles of prints waiting to be framed and hung.

Maybe by the end of 2011?
2010 was kind of a busy year for us. Besides, I would have had to do a lot of rearranging and changing to add little Miss Reagan up there on the wall.

3 Months - "Snapshot Sunday"

January 9, 2011

Funny Face BLOG IT
Tomorrow marks 12 weeks since the day Reagan was placed in my arms, so I thought it would a great time to do a little update!!

The bonds between the three kids have continued to grow stronger with each passing day and some of Reagan's biggest smiles and belly laughs have been as a result of her big brother and big sister.

This series of photos was prompted last weekend when the kids put Reagan on her new VTech Zebra Scooter that she received from Santa! Sometimes I think that the older ones get more entertainment out of Reagan's toys than she does.

Take a look:

We pulled all the barstools away from the bar and cleared the path!!

I'm not sure about this BLOG IT
Reagan looks a little unsure of what is about happen.

And she's off BLOG IT
Nick and Sarah obvioiusly having having a great time.

One, Two, Three, GO BLOG IT
Oh yeah.... this IS FUN!!!

Happy As Can BE BLOG IT
Who's ready to do this again?

Big Bro and Big Sis BLOG IT
They must have pushed her back and forth about 100 times and then began to take her on rides through the kitchen and circled our entire downstairs. The squeals of delight could be heard as they made their way through the house.

The protector BLOG IT
I am super proud of both Nick and Sarah as they not only enjoy their playtime with Reagan, they are also always on the lookout for her best interest. It's like having two extra sets of eyes on her at all times. They both take their role as big brother/big sister very seriously:)

Nick looking at Sarah BW BLOG IT
When I see them together, it is hard for me to believe that Reagan has only been with us for three months.

The three kids BLOG IT
There is nothing that gives me greater joy than these three smiling faces.

Ni Hao Y'all

Stop by Stefanie's blog to participate and see more Sunday Snapshots.