I Heart Faces - "Anything But A Face!"

February 28, 2011

Sarah and Reagan's Feet 2 BLOG
I know that most of you have already seen this photo from my post earlier today, but after I saw this week's theme over at "I Heart Faces", I thought it would be fun to enter these cute feet in the contest!

To see more hands, feet, shoulders, knees, and toes, hop on over to "I Heart Faces".


Arm around her sis 2 BLOG
"Children make you want to start life over."
~Muhammad Ali~

Sarah and Reagan's Feet BLOG
“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.”
~Richard L. Evans~

Pretty Girl blog
“Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
~John F. Kennedy~

Sarah Sitting Pretty BLOG
"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million."
~Walt Streightiff~

"While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about."

~Angela Schwindt~

That last quote is my FAVORITE!

Isn't it the truth?

I am heading to Baltimore again this morning(6 hours round trip...ugh), but before I walked out the door, I thought I would share some of the "cuteness" that I captured this weekend. There is more to come..... The girls were in a GREAT MOOD and I got some really adorable photos! I'll share the rest on Wednesday.

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday.

I just wanted to give a little shout out to Kimberley from SOPHIA JANE BOUTIQUE!
Thank you for the petti skirts! The girls LOVE THEM:)
Make sure you stop by Kimberley's
boutique and check out all the beautiful hair bling and accessories.

How Does He Decide Who Survives?

February 26, 2011

Last weekend we attended a memorial service for a very special friend of our family. He died of Metastatic Melanoma at the age of 66 and was only diagnosed 9 months prior to his passing. It was a devastating loss for his family and friends because it came out of nowhere and by the time he found out he had cancer, it was too late, it had already spread throughout his body.

He lived his life as a bachelor and never had any children, but always treated the children in our family as if they were his own. Nick and Sarah knew him as "Uncle Dave" and thought the world of him.

As I sat there at his memorial service listening to God’s words and all the wonderful stories about Dave’s life and the kind of person that he was, my mind was wandering at warp speed. No matter how hard I tried to concentrate solely on Dave's life, I could not help but to think of my own and I don’t think I was the only one that took that walk down memory lane.

Nicolas was sitting to my left and he was a mess. He was crying and seemed very affected by Dave’s passing. My Aunt nudged me at one point and said, “Awww, Nick is such a sensitive guy”……and I do think that he is very sensitive and he will truly miss “Uncle Dave”, but I have to wonder how much of his emotion was based on his own fears about death and cancer and what we went through together when he was so young.

Nick was only two years old when I battled cancer, but he does have very vivid memories of me being so very sick. He talks about when I had no hair, when I had nurses come to visit us at the house each day, and how I spent the greater part of one year on the couch in our family room, in the hospital, or going to see doctors.

Nick and Mommy 2000 BLOG

Cancer is a part of my past, but it is something that still remains in the forefront of my thoughts. I know I am fortunate to be here and so very thankful to call myself a survivor, but I also fear that one day, when I least expect it, the cancer will resurface.

Obviously, I don’t let the fear of cancer affect my daily life, but there are so many things that trigger the thoughts and take me back to that scary place, as in this case, when someone close dies of Cancer, when I have to go back to the oncologist for my yearly exam, or when I am just plain sick.

When the average person comes down with the flu they know it is just the flu and in a few days they will feel better. I get the flu and it makes me re live the year that I went through chemotherapy and felt like I was on deaths door. Whenever I get a severe headache or backache, I think… is it really just an ache? or could the cancer have come back? Could I have another tumor?

This May will be 11 years since I was told that my cancer was officially in remission and even though that is something to be celebrated, I still have scary thoughts that creep in from time to time. You would think with each year that passes, the thoughts would subside, but honestly, I am not sure those thoughts and fears will ever fade or totally disappear.

I walked around with all the typical Ovarian Cancer symptoms you read about for over two months and had no inkling that something could be wrong. I basically had an excuse for all the changes I saw in my body and never realized they were red flags until I went to the doctor for my regularly scheduled check up. He went down the list asking me if I was experiencing any of these symptoms. I was experiencing ALL OF THEM.

I considered myself to be a healthy person who worked out almost daily and was really in tune with her body……so how did I miss this? I guess I thought I was too young or too invincible. It couldn’t happen to me.

I learned the hard way that no one is invincible when it comes to cancer. No matter how young or old, or how healthy you think you are, you can still get Cancer.

Now when I feel a twinge or just don’t feel well in general my thoughts go to that far away place. I tend to panic a little and then I begin to pray hard that God never takes me back there and whatever I am experiencing at the moment is just a common cold or really is just a pulled or sore muscle and nothing more.

Angel of Prayer BLOG

It’s been a week since we have attended the memorial service for Dave and he is still in our thoughts and prayers. I know that he is finally at peace and that he is in a better place where there is no more pain and suffering. He is now in heaven with so many family members and friends that have left us over the years.

I have watched so many loved ones die of Cancer, yet I am still here living a blessed and very full life. Diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer at the young age of 26, my life was spared; while so many have never been given the second chance that I was given.

How does God ultimately decide who survives and succumbs to this dreadful disease?

This question has perplexed me for as long as I can remember and I guess I will never know the answer, but I have to believe that "he" has reasons for everything he does.

Although that does not seem like an acceptable answer for those of us who are grieving the loss of someone special that lost their battle with Cancer, I would like to imagine that it will all finally make sense when we ourselves ride on the wings of that special angel and travel over the rainbow and reach the other side where heaven’s pearly gates are open for our arrival.

Black and White Wednesday - "Bath Time Fun"

February 23, 2011

Bath Time Two Storybaord

Touching Her Chin Swt BLOG

Eating Bubbles BLOG

Surrounded by bubbles BLOG

Climbing out BLOG

Who's That BLOG

Getting a bath is one of the highlights of Reagan's day!

She absolutely loves the water and would stay in there for hours if we let her.

I kind of had a feeling she was going to be a water girl when we attempted the first bath in China. I was prepared for her to be frightened of the bath because it is a foreign concept to these little ones, but she was not scared at all and seemed to love the water and of course the bubbles:)

Last week when I posted the video of Reagan in the bath giggling, I realized that I have never taken photos of her splashing around in the tub. I have done this with both Nick and Sarah when they were little and wanted to have some of Reagan as well. As you can see, I had a hard time choosing just a few.....

Her love of the water is evident and Pat and I are really anxious to get her to the beach this summer! We think she is definitely going to have a blast on the beaches of Cape Cod with her brother, sister, and many many cousins! Can you just imagine her in a cute bathing suit with her little pigtails and sunglasses? I CAN'T WAIT!!!

I wish I had more time to write but I have to run..... so many cute little moments that we are experiencing with Reagan these last few days that I want to share, but just don't have the time to articulate my thoughts into posts.

This little girl definitely keeps us hopping....all of us! Those of you that said "Get your running shoes ready" were not kidding. She went from taking a few wobbly steps to sprinting across the room all in a matter of days. There is definitely no stopping her. She is a ball of energy and mighty determined in everything she does or tries to do.

Have a Happy Wednesday and have a GREAT WEEK!

Sorry I have been MIA. I have not really made bloggy rounds the past few weeks. I have been a little busier than normal with work and family life and have not had much free time for the computer. I hope to make my way around to visit everyone by this weekend. Time is really flying. Can you believe that we are almost into March?

A Taste of Spring

February 21, 2011

Sarah Sun Flare Darker2 BLOG

We had a bit of a heatwave on Friday. It almost reached 70 Degrees, so after I finished work for the day, I decided to try and take the kids to the park. Once we arrived we saw that there was still a lot of ice and snow on the playground and it was pretty wet and sloppy. Sarah would not go on anything because she did not want to get "dirty". After 10 minutes of walking around trying to find something that was not wet or dirty or near ice, I asked if she just wanted to come home and ride her bike and she quickly said, "Yes, let's go home".

Only minutes after getting out the bikes and scooters, it started to rain!

This should have been a sign that nothing was going to go as planned this weekend.

We had 50-60MPH winds roll in later Friday night. As a result, we lost power on Saturday afternoon and it did not come back until late Saturday night. Needless to say, I got nothing done because everything I had to do, needed power! It set me back, but it was kind of nice to be "unplugged". It was fun to hang out as a family in front of the fireplace. We had plenty of candles lit and a few flashlights. The girls had a ball playing with the flashlights. We pretended they were on stage and waived the flashlights around like stobe lights. We have never heard Reagan laugh so hard. She loved it and had us doing it over and over again for her. Sarah introduced Reagan to the "crowd" and it was the cutest thing ever.... "This is my sister, her name is Reagan and she was born in China. She loves to eat Chinese food and she is just learning to walk" She went on and on, and Pat and I were smiling ear to ear as we listened to her talk about her sis! I wish it would have been light enough for me to video it.... I tried, but you couldn't see them:(

I said I needed some down time this weekend and I guess I got it......I am more than a little behind with emails, blogs, etc.... but I will catch up, I always do!

Unfortunately I have to work today.... I could have used one more day with the family. So here I sit drinking my coffee, getting ready to start the day and guess what I am looking at outside my window? Three inches of snow!! 70 Degrees on Friday and snow on Monday..... CRAZY weather.

I knew Spring was not here to stay, we just got a little taste of it on Friday to break up this long winter. I am pretty sure that this is not the last of the white fluffy stuff for the season. March usually brings us at least one big snow storm!

Winners BLOG
Last but not least, Nick picked the two winners of the Photography Class Giveaway on Saturday morning! CONGRATULATIONS to April and Kam! You are the lucky winners!

Thank you to everyone that participated. You will still have one more chance to win! I plan to offer the classes again in May and I will be doing another giveaway in conjunction with the release! Stay tuned for details.

Have a wonderful day~

Our Little Iron Chef

February 18, 2011

In the kitchen like Mommy Collage
Apparently she has spent a lot of time watching her Mommy in the kitchen.... or she has watched one too many episodes of Iron Chef America with us, because she knows exactly what to do with her retro play kitchen. She is very loud banging pots and pans around and her appliance of choice seems to be the pink mixer! One night she would not let go of that plastic stick of butter and actually fell asleep clutching it in her little hand! She was probably watching Paula Deen that day:)

Reagan and Her TV
It has been an extremely busy week for me and I didn't really think I was going to have time to post again before next week, but I took these photos last weekend and thought they were too cute to get buried in the archives on my computer. If I don't get them posted right away, I never get them up.

I have to admit, I am in LOVE with the PIGGIES..... as someone suggested, they might need to be her signature look!!

TGIF my friends! Looking forward to some serious down time with my family this weekend. Hope you all enjoy your weekend too.

Black and White Wednesday - "A Face Says A Thousand Words"

February 16, 2011

I love food BLOG

Pouty Pigtails BLOG

Corner of the couch BLOG

Two Fingers Two Pigtails 2 BLOG

In the last four months Reagan's personality has really begun to emerge and she is becoming more and more comfortable expressing herself around us.

We are working on her vocabulary and trying to encourage her to speak. Shortly after we came home, she began saying, "mama and dada".
About two weeks ago, she said, "Nick" for the first time and we were all EXCITED....especially Nick!
Then, just this past weekend, only moments after she took her first steps, she said the word "ball".

For the most part, she is not able to communicate through words(except for those four), but she does know how to show us through body language and facial expressions what she needs, wants, or what she is feeling.

Isn't it just amazing that a face can tell us so much?

Sometimes....no words are needed.

the long road

Mr. Valentine

February 14, 2011

Nick In the Alley  BLOG
Friday night Nick attended his very first Valentine's Dance!
He was a total sport and jumped out of the car for about 10 minutes on the way to his buddy's house so I could snap a few photos of him all dressed up for the occasion.

Coat over the shoulder three windows Warmer BLOG
All week everyone was asking him if he was going with anyone special and he would blush and say, "No.... I am going with my friends".... meaning the guys.

Nick Red Time No Jacket BLOG
Based on the amount of cologne he was wearing when he left the house that night, I tend to disagree with his statement..... He was definitely trying to impress someone.

Enough Mom Warmer BLOG
Nick attends a catholic school and they were told that they had to dress nice for the dance, at the very least dress pants and a button down shirt. Ties were optional, but jeans and sneakers were not allowed.

He came home from school last Monday saying he needed a black suit to wear to the dance. On such short notice, I flew into panic mode, but luckily my Mom happened to be at my house that afternoon and she said, "No Problem, he can wear one of your Dad's suits." Now I know what you are thinking. He is going to wear his grandfather's suit????

Some of you might remember my Dad..... he has appeared here on the blog a few times, but most recently in THIS POST. The kids call him "Coachie" instead of Grandpa or Poppop. He was a wrestling coach most of his life and when Nick was born that is what we decided to call him and it just stuck.

Coachie is a pretty hip for 66....and after all, he is married to my Mom....shopper extraordinaire who buys him all the latest fashions:) My Dad is also very tiny.... which is why Nick can wear his clothes, but I am guessing at the rate he is growing, he won't be able to shop in "Coachie's Closet" much longer.

Anyhow, after speaking to some of the other Moms, I told Nick that I didn't think any of his friends were wearing full suits and he said he did not care, he wanted to wear one. Gotta love a kid who doesn't follow the crowd:)

I thought he looked so handsome and classy in the suit and was happy that he chose to go all out.

It seems he had a great time at the dance. I picked up Nick and his buddy and brought them back here where they stayed up late talking about the night's events.

A Mother's intuition is always right..... There was a very special someone that he was happy to call his Valentine.

~Happy Valentine's Day~

If you get a chance, hop on over to say hello to Nicolasa at My Perspective. She interviews different bloggers each Monday and this week I was lucky enough to be featured. I promised I would send some bloggy love her way!


Click here to visit Florabella Collection.

My photos today were processed with Florabella Actions from the Luxe II Collection. Her work is simply beautiful and very inspiring.

Reagan's First Steps - "Sunday Snapshot"

February 13, 2011

A new look BLOG
Yesterday, I attempted to get Pigtails in Reagan's hair for the first time! She was a little squirmy, but I was able to do it and I have to say..... I LOVE THEM! Her hair is not growing very evenly and I don't really want to cut it short so I think this may be her new look!! Cute, don't ya think?

A few hours later, the girls were playing in the family room and I was on the floor with them when all of a sudden someone decided to take her first steps!!

Of course, only moments before she ripped out her pigtails and her hair was EVERYWHERE..... but I don't care..... thanks to the video feature on my iphone, I was able to act fast and capture her very first steps!! The fact that she was able to walk with all that hair in her face makes it that much more precious to me.

The first video is the real footage of her first steps, the second video is a few minutes later when Pat came in to see what was going on. You'll see that I tried to tame the wild hair for the repeat performance:)

Can you tell that Daddy was awfully proud of his littlest girl yesterday?

We were all very proud of her as this is a big milestone and a huge accomplishment!

There is no stopping her now......

It has been a big weekend around here! First pigtails, first steps, and a certain 13 year old attended his first Valentine's Dance. Pictures to come!! He looked so very handsome!

Hope everyone has a Super Sunday~

Ni Hao Yall

To see more Sunday Snapshots or to join in, click on the button above!

Showing Her The Way

February 9, 2011

Lately I have been talking about how much Reagan has changed since she has come home. Eventually I plan to do a post about some of the developmental and emotional progress we have made with her, but today I thought I would talk about Sarah.

Classic Sarah BW Collage BLOG
I look at Sarah today and feel like she has grown up so much over these last few months. Becoming a big sister has definitely matured her. You may not be able to see it in her photos, but we can see it in her actions.

tea cups collage BLOG
We really thought that she was going to have a difficult time giving up her role as the baby of this family. We hit a few bumps those first few weeks, we noticed she was trying to seek out some additional attention and I am sure you all remember the little TOY INCIDENT but she got over all of it rather quickly and really seemed to love that she was now officially the "Big Sister"

Cups Stacked BLOG
Sarah has really taken Reagan under her wing and has begun to show her the way. Even with a three year age gap, they play and get along so well. On a few occasions as I was getting Reagan ready for bed, Sarah asked me to let Reagan stay up so they could play a little longer and I thought it was a true indicator of how much Sarah really loved and adored her new sister.

Tea For Two Sisters BLOG
The girls have not been separated since they have met.
They have been together almost every waking hour of every single day.
Pat and I thought long and hard about sending Sarah to preschool this year. We ultimately decided not to send her so that the girls would go to the babysitter together.

I am so THANKFUL we made the decision that we did because it has really allowed the girls to form an incredible bond. After having Reagan by her side these last few months, I think Sarah would seriously be lost without her and vice versa.

"A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life"
~Isadora James~

I tried to attach this video to FaceBook last night and for some reason I could not get it to upload, so I figured I would just include it in this post. You can only see Reagan in the video, but what I love about this little clip are the giggles that you hear from both of the girls. You have to listen closely to hear them because there is a lot of loud splish splashing going on!

the long road

Note: For those interested in the upcoming photography classes/workshops that will be part of the Half the Sky project, I will be posting the details Friday morning and enrollment will officially be open. Class space is limited and I will be filling on a first come, first serve basis. There is also going to be an exciting giveaway tied to this class offering so make sure you stop back to see what it is all about!

Barre Work

February 7, 2011

Backlit Reagan BLOG
Could this be the face of NYC Ballet's next prima ballerina?

Future Ballerina BLOG
That might be a stretch(no pun intended), but she is showing some early signs of interest.
Take a look her "barre work"

Future Ballerina Collage One BLOG
Future Ballerina Collage Two BLOG
Reagan(or maybe I should call her LL Cool J with her uneven pant legs)was bound and determined to get her leg up on the "barre" and was not going to give up without a fight.

Future Ballerina Collage Three BLOG

Her makeshift ballet barre is really the foot rest to our "bar"
I took these pictures Sunday afternoon after a little floor tea party broke up between the girls. That is why you see miscellaneous plates and spoons at Reagan's feet. I'll post those pictures later this week.

Barre Work at the Orphanage BLOG
The day we met her in Changsha, we were handed a bag that contained everything we had sent in her carepackage while we were waiting for our travel approval. One of those items was a disposable camera so as soon as we returned to the states, we had the film developed.

Most of the photos were of the orphanage itself, there were a few of her playing, and then there were a few of her standing at this ballet barre against the mirrors in the big playroom. We saw this room the day we visited Chenzhou. It was a very clean and spacious and we were told that Reagan and the other babies her age, went to the playroom everyday between 9 & 11am and then again between 3 & 5pm to get their exercise.

My guess is that our "bar" brought back some memories of the "barre" in Chenzhou!

Anyone else think that ballet lessons might be in her future?

Food On Friday - Mexican Chicken Soup with Jalapeno Cornbread

February 4, 2011

I don't know about you, but by the time Friday rolls around, I am starting to think about what I am going to eat/cook over the weekend.

Because of my somewhat hectic work schedule, I don't usually do a lot of elaborate cooking or meals during the week. I tend to gravitate towards things that are quick and easy, but by the time the weekend gets here, I like to cook a few things in large quantities so I know that we will have some leftovers to start our week.

With the rediculously cold winter we are experiencing, I have been looking for comfort food recipes. My family LOVES a hearty soup, so last weekend I decided to try one that has a little extra heat.

Stirring the pot BLOG
The Barefoot Contessa's Mexican Chicken Soup

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

Toppings for serving
sliced avocado
sour cream
grated Cheddar cheese
tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Mexican Tortilla Soup and Jalapeno Cornbread Collage BLOG

While looking through my Barefoot Contessa cookbook I also found a recipe for Jalapeno Cornbread and I thought it would go perfectly with this soup.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mexican Soup Close Up BLOG
We REALLY loved this meal! I did doctor up the soup a little bit by adding a can of black beans(drained and rinsed)and some frozen corn. I personally love both, but you could probably add any of your favorite veggies and it would taste great. Also, the one thing you will not want to skip in this dish is the homemade tortilla chips. They were so good that Nick asked me to make more so he could eat them as a snack. It is totally worth the extra couple of minutes to cut and pan fry them instead of buying premade tortilla chips from the store......in my opinion:)

Since this is super bowl weekend, I figured I would share this because it would be perfect to feed a crowd!! If by chance you are celebrating Chinese New Year instead, you might want to check out THESE recipes for your celebration!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
(Happy Chinese New Year)

If Clothes Make The Man . . . .

February 2, 2011

Accessories BLOG

Accessories Make The Woman!

Denim Jacket - Me Color BLOG 2

And this woman LOVES HER ACCESSORIES....especially big chunky pieces of jewelry.

So what is your favorite accessory?

A handbag, a piece of jewelry, a belt, a watch, a hat, a hair band..... the list could go on and on!!

It has been a year since I last tried a self portrait and decided to give it a whirl again.
Actually the original plan involved two little girls getting in the photo with me, but a four year old + a one year old + a self timer on the camera didn't exactly = success. I felt defeated, but I will try again one day soon.
Can you tell that complete winter boredom has set in?

the long road