Happy Memorial Day Weekend - "Sunday Snapshot"

May 29, 2011

Sweet Little Legs BLOG
We are kicking off this Memorial Day weekend, enjoying all the things that summer brings.... we hope you are too!

Don't you wish it was still cute to have thighs like these? I sure do:)

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and have a Happy Memorial Day!

More princess pooltime fun to come this week!

Sunday Snapshot

Black and White Wednesday - "A Glimpse of Our Weekend With Dita and Her Darlings"

May 25, 2011

Teamwork BLOG
What started out as an afternoon visit, turned into an entire weekend with Dita and her Darlings!

Looking at the back window collage BLOG
We had a weekend filled with good food, GREAT friends, and lots of FUN. Dita and JR certainly know how to make their guests feel welcome. They were prepared for the likes of our family of five, even down to having a crib ready for Reagan.

Dumping the water with my sister BLOG
They are a special family with a beautiful home that is very inviting. Not to mention the gorgeous backyard with lots of toys for the little ones. I did not think we would ever get the girls to come out of the playhouse and into the real house.

WB and Sarah Treehouse Collage BLOG
It was very neat to watch the kids interact with one another. Our boys are a year apart and so are the two girls......and then we have baby Reagan who got right into the mix. Sarah immediately took to WonderBoy. He would pretend he was a monster and chase her around. Sarah would scream so loud I thought our wine glasses would break, but she loved every minute of it and kept coming back for more.

Room for one more BLOG2
WonderBoy was not the only one with an admirer.... It appears that Sweetie was growing very fond of Nick as the weekend progressed. Doesn't this photo say it all?

The last piece of cake BLOG
If the amazing dinner Saturday night was not enough. Dita woke up and cooked us a delectable breakfast of Panettone French Toast with Bananas that were sauteed in brown sugar and butter, Pancakes, Eggs, and Fresh Fruit. We were all stuffed, but the boys were eyeing up the leftover chocolate cake from the night before. Dita brought it out for them and with the wink of an eye, Nick was feeding Reagan cake by the fork full!
She enjoyed every last crumb....well, maybe she missed one crumb:)

Trying to escape BW BLOG
Before too long, it was time to say goodbye. It seemed that the weekend just flew right by. There were some very sad faces and even a few tears..... well more than a few, but I will let Dita tell that story. Poor Sweetie was really upset to see us go, but we did promise her that we would reciprocate and have them come to visit us very soon!

I have not had enough time to go through all of the photos from our weekend. I just picked out a few of my favs that I thought would work well in black and white. I will probably put together one more post in the next few days.

We can't thank Dita and The Darlings enough for such a wonderful weekend. We were also very excited to meet Dita's Mom! It did not take long to see where Dita gets her good looks and her warm heart.

We are all looking forward to the next get together. Just hoping that next time the group is a little larger:)
Hint Hint to our friends that don't live in our neck of the woods!!
Road trip anyone?

Very Rewarding....and Many Thanks

May 20, 2011

Our Sponsored Babies BLOG

The past two months have been insanely busy for me as I have been juggling my very demanding full time job, the "Visions of Hope" photography classes, and of course my family life.

There have been times over the last few weeks that I have asked myself.....
"Why on earth did you take on this much and Did I take on more than I can handle?"

Well, those thoughts went right out of my head yesterday morning when I woke up and checked my email to see these two smiling faces.

I believe I posted about a month ago to tell you that through the first round of "Visions of Hope" photography classes, we made a donation to Half The Sky and we requested that the money be designated to the Chenzhou SWI in Reagan's honor. Only a few short days after sending them the donation I got a very nice letter thanking me for the donation. I have to admit, it was such a rewarding feeling and all I could think about were the faces of the children that have been permanantly etched in my mind since October 20th when we visited Chenzhou.

This month after running the second round of classes, I was getting ready to make the next donation and was not sure how I wanted to designate the money. After a little thought and a few emails back and forth with one of my contacts at Half The Sky, I decided I really wanted to do something extra special........

We are now the proud sponsors of these two beautiful girls; Chen Yi Zhi and Chen Qing Tong.
When I say "we", I do not mean just Pat and me.... I mean eveyone that has taken part and supported the "Visions of Hope" project. Each person that signed up for classes, helped spread the word, and those that donated to the cause all had a hand in each one of these donations. So in essence, you too are helping to sponsor these two precious girls for the next 12 months.

Words cannot express how gratifying it is to know that we are making even the smallest difference in the lives of those that are left behind and still waiting to be matched with their own forever families.

Nothing would make me happier than to get an email in the upcoming months to find out that one of these two baby girls has found a forever family. (If that does happen, they will assign us another child to sponsor)

I thought it was important to share with you all some of the things that we have been able to do as a result of the "Visions of Hope". Rewarding and Gratifying doesn't even begin to describe how it make me feel. Even though I am about to take a little break from teaching and have all of my evenings free to spend with my family..... I will be coming out with some new class offerings again in late July or early August, so we can continue to support Half the Sky and the children of China. Stay tuned!

I will also keep everyone updated on "our girls"..... Okay, they are not really our girls, but if I get any updates or news on our sponsored girls, Yi Zhi or Qing Tong, I will be sure to share here with you all.

We were not able to specify the children that we wanted to sponsor, but I did specifically request that they were from the Chenzhou SWI. Both of these girls were there with Reagan and they are exactly one month older than her. Qing Tong and I share the same birthday! Had I known that the day we visited the orphanage, I would have brought a cake to celebrate her 1st birthday.....and my.....ummmmmm 21st:) Only kidding!

So, has it been busy and hectic these last few months? YES..... but I can tell you that looking at these two faces makes it ALL WORTH IT.

Many many thanks to you all for the ongoing support!
This adoption community never ceases to amaze me.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Black and White Wednesday - The New "Do" Part Two

May 18, 2011

Sarah pulling Reagan down the path BLOG
Sorry to leave everyone hanging on Monday!
I ran out of time and I had too many pics for one post..... Is there such a thing as too many photos?

After we left the hair salon on Friday afternoon, we stopped at my parents house in hopes of showing them the girls' new dos. We were all disappointed when we got to their house and they were not home, so we went to the local park to kill some time in hopes that they would soon arrive.

Looking out over the field of buttercups BLOG
The big field that was blue bells just a few weeks ago has now turned into buttercups and wishies.

The Wishie Collage
The girls had a field day{pun intended}picking and blowing!

Making her sister giggle with the wishies BLOG
Sarah showed Reagan just what to do for fear she would eat them like she did with the blue bells:)

Sarah Front and Side View Against the Brick COLLAGE
After we left the field, Sarah agreed to a few shots to show off her new short hair! I am loving it and so is she!

Sarah Standing Up Straight Brick Wall2 BLOG
I cannot get over how much more mature Sarah looks with her hair this short. I seriously cannot stop staring at her..... and I have to say that the cut totally suits her personality!

Snack Time COLLAGE
It was a good thing I came prepared that afternoon with sippy cups and snacks because before long Reagan was ready to take a break and Sarah happily joined her in sharing a bag of goldfish....... one of their favorite snacks! I love their feet in this black and white shot:)

The burgundy doors gigglefest part one COLLAGE
To see the two of them together is something....they make quite the pair!
The burgundy doors gigglefest part two COLLAGE
More bare feet, lots of giggles, and one compassionate and caring big sister!!
It's impossible to watch these two and not smile from ear to ear:)

UH OH No One is Home WM
After their bellies were full, we tried to call my Mom and Dad one last time, but there was still nobody home, so we called it a night and went back to our house.

Of course 20 minutes after we walked through the front door, my phone rang..... It was my Mom! They were out with my nephews at a park which happened to be about a mile from the hair salon......go figure!!

My parents came over to visit this weekend and they made a big deal about the girls and their new looks, as did everyone that saw them:)

I am VERY HAPPY we took the plunge and went short....... Reagan's bangs were a little wonky the first few days becuase her hair still wanted to be parted on the side, but now they are laying very nicely.

Sarah's hair is now parted on the opposite side and it has taken a few days for us to get the part at just the right place so that piece of hair is not hanging in her face all the time. I actually have been using a tiny clip to pull it to the side and it looks ADORABLE!! So now I am in search of very cute, but tiny little clippies for her hair. If you have seen anything fun, let me know.

Have a wonderful Wednesday and a great week!!

Reagan's First Haircut

May 16, 2011

Getting Started The Before Shots COLLAGE BLOG
For the last few weeks I have been trying to decide whether or not to get Reagan's hair cut for the first time. I love her pigtails, but that is really the only way she could wear it. It was so uneven that I could not leave it down or it would be in her face. I was also getting concerned about the breakage from using hairbands every day, so I went ahead and took her Friday after work for her first official visit to the salon!!

First Hair Cut Collage BLOG
I think she was a little leery at first as she saw those sharp scissors coming towards her head, but she eventually stopped giving Enzo the stink eye and just relaxed and let him do his thing. Enzo has been doing my hair for as long as I can remember and I was kind of excited to let him work his magic on Reagan.

We kept the loch of hair that he had there in his hand. It is already in the memory box:)

Standing Very Still COLLAGE BLOG
She was very calm and stood very still the entire time.....she was so good and I was so happy that she was not scared or screaming.

As the new look came to life, I could not believe what I saw..... it was as if she went from baby to little girl in the matter of minutes right before my eyes!

Reagan's New Look COLLAGE BLOG Single
After all that standing still, she could not wait to make her way around the salon and explore. I also think she was happy to get the cape off so that she could get her fingers into her mouth again:)

Sarah's getting a new do too BLOG
When we were getting ready to head to the salon, Sarah said that she also wanted a haircut......so as soon as Reagan was done, Sarah stepped right into place to let Enzo work his magic on her too! Enzo has been cutting her hair since she was a baby...... but this time was different because she said she wanted to get a short hair style like Mommy!!

Sarah's new do from the back BLOG
For now I am going to just give you a preview of the back...... you can see how different this look is for Sarah....and OH MY IS IT EVER ADORABLE!!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS NEW CUT ON HER!!! It totally suits her personality.

We left the salon and went to my parent's house because Sarah was excited to show Grandma her new do...... Unfortunately, when we got there they were not home, so we went to the park and got some photos of both the girls together with their fresh from the salon looks!! We were hoping by the time we were done at the park, Grandma and Coachy would be back home.

There were WAY TOO MANY photos to put them all in one post, plus I am running out of time..... I need to get to work. So for now, I am going to leave you hanging on Sarah's new look! I will post Part Two on Wednesday.....PROMISE!

~Have a terrific day and a wonderful week~

Black and White Wednesday - "6 Months Home"

May 11, 2011

Lots of Hay COLLAGE 2
In one way, it is difficult for me to wrap my brain around the fact that Reagan has been home with our family for 6 months already, but in another way it feels as though she has been with us all along.

It is hard to remember life before we were mesmorized by that beautiful baby photo we received last August. Our lives changed forever that day.......and little did we know that half way across the world in Chenzhou was a precious girl who would fit perfectly into her new forever family.

Looking up at mommy COLLAGE
I think it is pretty fair to say that Reagan brings as much joy to us as we appear to bring her. There is nothing I love more than walking into her room as the sun rises to see this little smiling face peering over her crib just waiting to be picked up so she can wrap her loving arms around me.

Sitting on the log step COLLAGE
If someone would have told me those first few days in China that we were going to have a super smooth, easy homecoming and transition with this child, I would have never believed them. To be perfectly honest, looking back on the first 48-72 hours with Reagan......I was scared to death.

Lots of Attitude Collage
She was very unsure, untrusting, and even appeared to be angry at times. I tried my hardest to keep it together and was determined not to let her see me waiver or crumble. Once she would fall fast asleep, I would watch over her and wonder.....did we do the right thing for this child? We just turned her world around and everything she once knew, was no longer. I prayed that this was just temporary and that she would come out of her grieving period and accept and bond with me and then once we were home, accept Pat, Nick, and Sarah too.

Touching your toes and Feet Collage
We saw positive changes in her by day three, not huge strides, but enough for me to feel at ease that we were headed in the right direction. With each day that passed in China, Marla and I noted all the progress she was making. We saw the early signs of that personality that we have all come to know and love.

Big Smiles On the Hay COLLAGE
She can captivate a room with just one look and has stolen the hearts of many. Little by little she has unleashed her personality that is larger than life.

In the wagon COLLAGE
There is not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for the gift of this child.

The best big brother ever COLLAGE
Words alone simply cannot explain how Reagan has changed the dynamics of our family.......you have to see her interact to fully appreciate and understand the love and joy she brings to all of us.

Walking with fingers in her mouth COLLAGE
She has certainly experienced so much in her short little life and has walked a long hard road to get to us...and where she is today.

The unsure and untrusting little girl is long gone. We now see a well adjusted, loving child ready to take on the world.

She loves to be outside where she can run and feel the wind in her hair. She is as smart as a whip and understands every word we say to her. Her speech is slowly starting to emerge. She says, HOT, OUCH, NO, YES, OH NO, UH OH, NICK, MAMA, and DADA....... and I almsot forgot....HOT DOG!!!

We think she is going to be left handed as she strongly favors her left side with everything she does. She has recently discovered pens, pencils, and crayons and likes to mimic her sister who loves to color.

We have yet to find a food that she does not like.....she has eaten everything we have offered her including fish, roasted eggplant, zucchini, and squash. The girl is crazy for her veggies..... you would think they are laced with chocolate the way she eats them!!

Reagan is very much a happy go lucky child, although we do see that spicy side come out every once in a while:) She is very affectionate and loves to give and receive hugs and kisses.

She likes to take on the role of "Comedian" and looks to entertain both Nick and Sarah. She has learned how to get them to laugh and giggle at her antics and she eats up all the attention.

There is no way to say it other than we love her more than words and photos can express and we would have traveled to the ends of the earth to bring her home. It brings tears to my eyes and puts a lump in my throat to think of Reagan anywhere else, but here with her meant to be, forever family.

"Before I Was A Mom" - Sunday Snapshot

May 8, 2011

Reagan Walking through the Garden BLOG
Before I was a Mom, I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.

No picking Reagan BLOG
Before I was a Mom, I had never been puked or pooped on. I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts. I slept all night.

Sarah sitting on the steps BLOG
Before I was a Mom, I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests. Or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Sarah blowing bubbles collage BLOG
Before I was a Mom, I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put her down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would lovebeing a Mom.

GIrls on the bench COLLAGE
Before I was a Mom, I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.. I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.

Peek A Boo I See You BLOG
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Ying and Yang BLOG
Before I was a Mom, I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.

hand and Hand BLOG
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much.

Over the bridge BLOG
It is hard for me to remember life before becoming a Mom and there is nothing that gives me greater joy. Everyday I look at three smiling faces and know that I am blessed beyond measure to have the best job in the world!

Happy Mother's Day to all!

~Enjoy your special day~

Sunday Snapshot

**This was a poem that I received in one of those chain emails. I thought it was really cute, so I added my own photos**

The dresses and leggings the girls are wearing in these photos and the ones they wore on Easter Sunday were from Art and Soul Boutique. A few of you left comments on Wednesday and I forgot to come back and post the link. To visit Art and Soul Boutique, click HERE.

Black and White Wednesday - "Struggling To Keep Up"

May 4, 2011

Falling Behind BLOG
I feel as though I am constantly behind with EVERYTHING these days and I am struggling to keep up in so many ways. There is so much going on around here and I have not had much free time to post about it.

Running across the grass on Easter Monring BLOG
Case in point...... Easter was almost two weeks ago and I am finally putting up the few photos I have from that day.

Easter 2011 Nick Sarah and Reagan BLOG
We spent Easter on Cape Cod as I mentioned last week. We did things a little different this year as we celebrated Easter on Saturday so that we could get up and go to Mass on Sunday and then hit the road for the long ride back to PA.

Reagan Running on Easter BLOG
As luck would have it, the weather was pretty terrible Easter weekend on the Cape. It was bitter cold and it rained all day on Saturday....... but then on Sunday, the day we had to leave, the sun came out and it was GORGEOUS!!!

Pushing the baby stroller BLOG
After we went to church we came back to Pat's parents' house to have a little lunch before we hit the road and the girls walked their babies around the culdesac. This is something Sarah does every time we visit......and this time Reagan got to tour the neighborhood too!

I was a little more than disappointed with the few photos I took over Easter. Everything happened so fast and I felt rushed...... but I guess I should be thankful that I have something to remember the day and Reagan's first Easter. Unfortunately the weather was so cold that we never had the opportunity to let Reagan feel the sand, but we will be heading back to the Cape before long:)

About two weeks ago I mentioned I was going to do a 6 month update on Reagan and I still plan to do that.......it is just taking me a little longer than expected to get it together. We actually have our 6 month post placement visit with the social worker scheduled this week. Hoping I can get a post together by this weekend!

So what else is going on around here?

Everyone is healthy and happy that Spring has finally arrived!!!
The kids love to be outside and look forward to our evenings riding bikes, skateboards, scooters, blowing bubbles, or drawing with sidewalk chalk!

My job is just insanity right now, I am all over the place and logging some major miles behind the wheel again, but I am not going to complain.....because busy is GOOD!!!

Last week I finished the first 5 week "Get Out of the Auto Zone" class. I am very happy with how things went and have been blown away with the amount of growth I saw in those ladies in just 5 weeks. I am so VERY PROUD of each one of them.

Saturday I held a one day workshop for 5 fabulous local ladies that wanted to kick up their photogrpahy skills. One of the ladies so graciously opened her beautiful home to us and hosted the workshop. At times I was having so much fun that I almost forgot I was there teaching.....it was more like hanging out with the girls.....but by the time the day came to an end they were all rockin those cameras!!!

Just last night I started the second 5 week "Get Out of the Auto Zone" class and I am already very excited to see how much these ladies want to learn.

Once May comes to an end, I plan to slow down quite a bit and enjoy the summer with my family. I have been pushing really hard the last 6 weeks and it is starting to show........ Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I am doing, but I need to know my limitations.

Hope you are all having a wonderful week and just in case I don't get to post again before Sunday....... HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!! Enjoy your special day!