Favorite Photo Friday - "Class Representative"

September 30, 2011

Nick Fogelsville Fire Company Door CROPPED BLOG
“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.~

Mr Nick at the Fogelsville Fire Company 2 BLOG
"Don't wait to make your son a great man - make him a great boy."
~Author Unknown~

I don't often get Nick in front of the camera, but this weekend we got to spend a little time together, just me and him, without the girls. It was nice to chat and let him tell me all that is going on in his world, without interruption.

So far 8th Grade is off to a great start.
He is happy to be back in school with his friends and enjoying all of the fun extra curricular activites that the school year brings. Of course he is not loving all of the homework and tests, but so far he seems to be doing well. He was voted Class Representative by his classmates the first week of school. This is a first for Nick, so he was pretty excited and we are very proud of him. I am still not exactly sure of all the responsibilities that come with this title...... but he says he is ready for it and that is all that matters.

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Thankful Thursday - A Little Sentimental

September 29, 2011

Side By Side Izzy and Ivy Tunic

I am working in my office today, versus on the road in my car, where I have been spending many hours lately. I usually get one good office day a week and I try like mad to catch up on everything business related and a few personal things too.

One of the things on the top of my personal to do list was to FINALLY complete and send in our paperwork to have Reagan's readoption done here in the US. This has been weighing on both Pat and I as we are quickly approaching her one year anniversary and it really needs to be done before then.

Just a few minutes ago I called our adoption agency to make sure I had everything I needed to submit the paperwork. I had to go digging through all of our paperwork we received in China and make copies. To be perfectly honest, I got home from China last October, put that very large file in safe place and have not looked at it since.

Cracking it open today has stirred up a lot of emotion.....

Every detail that was provided to us in Chenzhou is running through my head. I have not forgotten a morsel of it. I don't think I will ever forget, but it is so difficult to see those details staring up at you in black and white. I sat here reading it all again, holding the documents, remembering the streets in her city...... the sights, the sounds, the people. It all came rushing back to me and the tears poured down my face as I revisted my daughters humble beginnings.

I look at this precious girl every single day and see how much she has changed and grown. It is hard to think what might have been........ Sometimes I wish I knew more of the details that surrounded her first few days of life, and other times I think it is best that I don't.

We love her to the moon and back and we are ever so thankful that we were chosen to be her forever family.

Reagan's dress was created by Izzy and Ivy Designs.
They have launched an exciting new project called "
Create HOPE Designs". They are selling patterns of all kinds and 100% of the proceeds are going to adoption organizations. Please click HERE to see what it is all about, you won't want to miss out.

Apple Pickin' With the Girls

September 26, 2011

Just a reach away BLOG
On Friday I mentioned our quick trip to the Apple Orchard.
I made the mistake of telling the girls early Wednesdsay morning that I thought we would go pick apples when I was done with work. By the time my workday came to an end, the weather was looking funny, but there was no turning back. I was staring at two excited little faces that were not going to take "another day" for an answer.

Walking up to the apple farm BLOG
I reluctantly packed them up and headed North prepared for the worst, but optimistically hoping for the best.

Waiting for the Bus BLOG
This is Sarah's third year pickin' at the same place and she knows the drill.
She went straight to the little farm market to get a box for the apples and then took a seat and waited for the bus to come and take us up into the orchard. Little Reagan was just taking it all in as this was her first time.

Sarah in front of the bus BLOG
The bus seemed to take longer than normal and we were all getting a little restless. I spied this very cool out of service bus in the barn and told the girls to go stand in front for a photo.

Can we start picking or what BLOG
Of course I didn't get one shot of the two of them together, but I will take what I can get and thought that these were really cute!

Looking Away In Front of the Old Bus CROPPED BLOG
I LOVE this one of Sassy Sarah....

Hands on hips against the old bus BLOG
and I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so I am posting both the color and the black and white. I had a little fun editing these. In my opinion that funky colored school bus called for a more artistic look.

Reagan Don't Dump the Box BLOG
Finally the REAL bus showed up and took us way up into the fields.
Once we got out, I knew our trip was going to be cut short.
Let's just say, in addtion to the threatening weather, we had a few other small issues to deal with and it caused Sarah to have a mini meltdown.

I can reach it mommy BLOG
Reagan continued to pick as many apples as she could reach.

Reagan and Her White Apple Picking Basket BLOG
She filled her basket....

Basket over the shoulder BLOG
and then she was ready to go....and it was a good thing because just like that, it started to rain!

A pinch of cinnamon BLOG
We did not pick near as many apples as we normally do, but we still had enough to make a few apple desserts this weekend.

I usually make an apple bundt cake and I have posted that recipe the last two years. You can click HERE for that recipe. That is still my all time favorite apple dessert, but I wanted to try something else this year so I decided to make apple breads instead. The apple bread is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. A little more dense than the cake, but still very good!

Apple Bread
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups diced apples
1/2 cup chopped walnuts(optional)
1 teaspoon flour

A pinch of cinnamon and apples BLOG

Mix flour, cinnamon, soda, salt and baking powder together.
Beat eggs and add sugar and oil.
Add vanilla and dry ingredients.
Stir in apples.
Mix walnuts in a tsp of flour and add to batter.
Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.

Apple Goodness BLOG
I think what I like most about this bread is the play on textures.
The outside is a a little hard and crunchy, but the inside is very soft and loaded with those tender apples. You can also really taste the cinnamon..... I tend to get a little heavy handed with the cinnamon.

I am hoping that a second trip to the orchard will be in our future.
Pat likes the bread and the bundt cake, but his favorite is deep dish apple pie and I will need a lot of apples to make one of those.

Favorite Photo Friday - "Inspired By Fall"

September 23, 2011

I didn't have an opportunity to take many photos this week and while looking through the few that I did take, I had a hard time choosing just one for today.

Wednesday after I was done working, I took the girls to go Apple Picking thinking we would beat the weekend crowd. Well, that we did, but instead of the crowds we had to deal with the rain..... Just my luck, as soon as we got up there, it started to pour. The girls were pretty disappointed..... and so was I. We are planning to try again this weekend, but in the short time I was there I did manage to snap a few photos of the beautiful Mums they had for sale.

Purple Mums BLOG
I was initially drawn to the purple ones.....

Orange Mums BLOG
BUT I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the dimension and the color in the burnt orange variety!
{I am tempted to print this one and hang it in our downstairs half bath}

A little sugar goes a long way BLOG
The other thing that caught my eye this week were these sweet, sugary treats!!

Close Up Candy Pumpkin BLOG
Each day I have been picking up a little something special for the girls after daycare and they were so excited when they saw these candy pumpkins waiting for them.

Candy Pumpkins Spilled Out BLOG
And thanks to the bowl that is within arms reach every time you walk through the kitchen, my jeans are feeling extra tight. When I am stressed, I eat.....and it is never the good for you kind of food.

The last two weeks have been somewhat stressful with all the change, but I do believe things are getting better the more Reagan goes to the new daycare. I really appreaciate all of the great advice everyone gave on the last post. We are already doing a lot of the things that were mentioned, but she did not have a picture of us to take along with her. Next week she will:)

We did experience a bit of a breakthrough.....
I had to be at work very early the other morning and typically I have been the one to drop the girls off. When Pat heard what time I had to leave, he offered to take the girls. Of course as soon as he said that I was selfishly relieved that I would not have to be there to witness Reagan cry and carry on as I walked out the door.

I called Pat just minutes after he left the girls at daycare and guess what? She hardly cried for him at all. He said she whimpered a little, but no big tears or hysterics. I called and checked in on her throughout the day and they said she was doing very well and seemed very engaged with the other kids in her class.

When we got home that night we discussed it and Pat is going to try to be the one to take them in the morning. It could have been a fluke, but it might be that she has a harder time separating from me than from him. We are hoping for both Reagan's sake and mine, that this might be the answer. I will keep you posted!

Happy Weekend~

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Out of Sorts

September 20, 2011

Reagan through the window in whales BLOG
Last week I mentioned how beautifully Sarah has adjusted to her new surroundings at the daycare. She is really enjoying all of the new activities and her new friends. I wish I could say the same about Reags. Poor baby girl is having a really tough time.

Whale Dress Fingers in Mouth BLOG
Dropping her off in the morning is the absolute worst.
She turns on the waterworks and really gets herself upset, which in turn gets me upset. I don't think I have ever seen her cry and carry on like this..... not even in China.

Smirk in the Whale Tunic BLOG
The teachers motion for me to drop her and just leave and not hang around, but it is easier said then done. I want to stay to console her, but the longer I stay, the more upset she seems to get and the harder it is for her teachers to calm her down.

They said she usually cries for the first 30-45 minutes and then she will stop. They can get her engaged in an activity for a while, but she will cry sporadically throughout the day.

This daycare facility actually has webcams and Pat and I can log in anytime we are in front of our computers and see what the girls are doing in their classrooms. That is something that I loved about this place when I was touring different facilities. Last week we were unable to use them because they did not have us set up in their system yet. The director said by this week we should be ready to roll. In the meantime, they have had to deal with phone calls from me every few hours. I can't keep myself from calling to check in. I am sure I have already been labeled as "That" Mother.

Back of the Whale Tunic BLOG
Unfortunately, all the stress of the situation at daycare had caused Reags to take a few steps backwards here at home. I think she is feeling very unsure and unsecure at the moment. She is trying to figure this all out.

Our little girl who has gone to bed effortlessly at 8pm and slept straight through the night until about 7am, since the moment we met her, is fighting bedtime tooth and nail. We also had a few completely sleepless nights as she woke every 2 to 3 hours screaming. This past weekend, I also noticed that she began to cry and get extrememly upset if I was not within her sight or if I had to leave the house to run an errand.

I know this is all pretty normal given the circumstances..... but it is not easy. It is going to take some time to adjust to this new routine and environment. I just hope that she understands that no matter what, when we take her to daycare in the morning, we are going to come back to get her at the end of the day. It would be so much easier if she could talk to us, but she can't. For now all we can do is try to reassure her and give her the extra love and support she needs to feel secure.

Trying to be a little optimistic here and crossing my fingers that we will get through this week with a few less tears......and sleepless nights. I talked to my Mom about this the other day and she gently reminded me of the experience we had with Nick when he first went to daycare. He was three when he started and he had major separation anxieties...... He cried, screamed, and did the death grip around my neck every single day for almost 9 months! It was complete torture for him and for me.
Let's just hope it doesn't take Reags quite that long:)

Favorite Photo Friday - "A Smile That Lights Up A Room"

September 16, 2011

We have two days under our belts at the new daycare and I have to say that although it has been especially hard on Reagan(and Mommy), Sarah is doing exceptionally well.

She was a little shy on day one and refused to eat any snacks or meals, but it appears that she has already made an impression on her new classmates and teacher.

Smile, It's the key that fits the lock to everybody's heart BLOG

We walked into her classroom this morning and two of the girls came running over and said, "YAY, Sarah is back!" and with that, Sarah ran over and began to play with them and gave me a wave goodbye as if to say, "It's Okay Mom, you can leave now."

At 5pm when I arrived after work to pick them up, Sarah was in tears.......
She asked me if I could come back later, she needed to stay longer to play with her new friends.

Her teacher told me that she has been attracting a lot of attention from her classmates and that she was having to break up arguments between the girls over who gets to sit next to Sarah for each activity. She actually ate her lunch and snacks today and they said that she really loved tumble time!

When I heard what the teacher had to say about her day, it made my heart smile.

Sarah is fitting right into her new environment and seems to be loving every minute of it.

We are very proud of her and each night when she comes home, she can't wait to tell us about everything that she did throughout the day.

I'm starting to feel like things really do happen for a reason and this is an environment where Sarah will really thrive and blossom.

I did manage to snap a few photos of the girls on their first day.....just have not had time to download them yet. I hope to post them this weekend and I will give an update on Reagan's first few days. Today is actually her first Speech Therapy session. We are very excited that they moved so quickly to get her started.

This photo was taken earlier this week as Sarah was riding her big wheel out back on the deck. She stopped and looked me dead in the eye. I love that chunk of hair that is framing her face, those beautiful baby blues.......and that smile that could light up any room! It's hard to believe she is going to be five in just a few months.
Where does the time go?

Have a wonderful weekend!

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September 14, 2011

Hand in hand and hand in mouth BLOG
The girls are pretty much inseparable.

Feels Like Fall Blog Board 1
For the last 10 and a half months they have done just about everything....together!

Feels Like Fall Blog Board 2
Wherever one goes, the other is sure to follow.

The Pink Leaves BLOG
They are like two peas in a pod.

Thinking about throwing a stone BLOG
Sarah and Reagan have gotten so use to having each other right there by their side that they are a little lost when they are not together.

The summer is over, the cooler temps have moved in, the leaves have begun to fall from the trees, and school is back in session. Lots of changes going on all around us and Sarah and Reagan are about to experience a BIG change in their daily routines.

Running and Sucking My Fingers Is Hard Work BLOG
The girls are starting Day Care this morning and they will no longer be together every minute of every day. They both have been placed in age appropriate rooms within the facility. Sniff, sniff.

Walking The Path By Herself BW BLOG
A few weeks ago, we were faced with having to make a change in our child care. It was unexpected and definitely threw me for a loop. The girls have never been in a real day care and the thought of sending them to one made me want to cry...... Okay, I will admit it, I did cry....A LOT!

Pat and I have been juggling, with the help of my parents, for the last 5 weeks. I have been trying to put off the inevitable, but we cannot keep going like this. We are trying to balance career and home life with no extra help for the girls during the work day and we just cannot do it anymore. We had to bite the bullet and officially enroll them.

Sitting in the center of the path Sarah BLOG
I know they are going to make new friends and in the end it will probably be a good change for them.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sarah will thrive in this type of setting. I am tiny bit concerned about Reagan just because she has not been home quite a year yet. I hope that she will adapt to the new environment and will understand that no matter what, Mommy and Daddy are coming back to pick her up at the end of the each day.

As is usually the case, this will probably be more difficult on me then it will be on them.

Everyone says change is good and sometimes things happen for a reason.

I hope this is one of those situations that results in something that is better for the girls.

Let's Go Find Some Leaves BLOG
Even though they are going to be separated during the day, I hope the bond they share will remain as strong as ever and the time they do have together will be that much sweeter.

We are due to arrive at the day care around 8am and Pat and I plan to stay a bit until both girls feel secure enough for us to go.

Praying that we are able to escape without tears..... from them or me:)

Will update later to tell you how it went.

Wish us luck~

All photos were processed with the new, soon to be released, Florabella Classic Workflow Actions!
They are, in my opinion, her BEST SET EVER and I am completely addicted.
Fellow Photogs and Photoshop enthusiasts, stay tuned for details.

Favorite Photo Friday

September 9, 2011

Welcome to the first Favorite Photo Friday!

This link party is about as easy as they come.

All you need to do is post your favorite photo or photos of the week.
You can tell us the story behind it or you can just simply post a picutre.
It is completely up to you.
There are no rules.
The photos can be color or black and white.
It can be a serious photo or a funny photo.
Just show us your FAVORITE PHOTO and add the button below to your post.
After you have done that, come here to my blog and create a link.
It's that simple!!

the long road

Favorite Photo Friday Belly Shot
This week's choice was easy for me to make.
In my opinion, it does not get much funnier than this.
I am not sure what I love more about this photo.....
the way her tongue is sticking out the side of her mouth, her little belly,
or those chubby thighs!!!

We were out in the field doing a photoshoot for Izzy and Ivy Designs.
They have some new patterns getting ready to launch {WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THEM} and needed Reagan to model a few. She was really in the mood this particular afternoon and we got some great shots, but then she became super silly and started lifting her dress and making funny faces. I know that this was not exactly the look Izzy and Ivy Designs had in mind for their new patterns, but I had to keep snapping.

This shot was the best of the bunch!
I will post the rest of them when the patterns launch so you can actually see what the dresses look like:)

Okay, that's it for me.
Now it's your turn.
Show us your favorite photos.
I can't wait to see!!
If you are not prepared to play along this week, maybe you can jump in next week?
Have a Wonderful Weekend.

Always Trust Your Gut

September 8, 2011

Four Photo Collage Fine Motor Skills
It seemes like we were waiting forever to have Reagan's Early Intervention evaulation done, but yesterday at 8:30am a team of four arrived at our home to begin.

The entire process took a little longer than I expected.
In all honesty, I found it to be a little overwhelming, so I can only imagine what was going through Reagan's mind.

All four women were sprawled out on our family room floor with their big bags of tricks for Reagan and while they were playing with her, they were asking us LOTS of questions. As fast as we were answering their questions, they were entering all of the info on their laptops.

Our only concern going into this was her speech, but we were told that they would be doing a total evaluation. They tested her in all areas......

Social Skills
Receptive Communication
Gross Motor
Fine Motor
Self Care

After a few hours, they were able to compute Reagan's test scores and let us know where she fell on the curve.

I am so glad that I went with my gut and did not wait any longer.....

As suspected, she did extremely well in all areas, except for expressive or verbal communication. Her score was equal to that of a 12 month old and she is just about 22 months.

As a result of today's evaluation, we are now aware of a few other things that she does or has been doing that fall in line with speech or oral motor delays. She did this more when we first came home from China, but she still does it from time to time. We will give her a snack in a bowl and she will start eating a piece or two at a time, but she does not swallow it. She will continue to put more food in and then I will see her with puffy cheeks. I know that she has way too much in her mouth and I will tell her to open up. She will spit out most of what is in her mouth and then she is able to continue eating and swallowing. It only happens on occasion, but nonetheless, it is happening so it needed to be noted.

double set of feet in the table Round Blog
The other thing we are going to watch is her tiptoe walking.
She just started doing this and does not do it all the time...... she seems to do it when she is barefoot in the house, but all of the evaluators told us to be aware of it and let them know if we notice her doing it more often. I am not really too concerned about it because both Nick and Sarah went through the tiptoe phase as well.

I am somewhat relieved knowing that I did not overreact.
My Mommy intuition was correct and now we can get a jump start on helping her.

Reagan's in home speech therapy will begin within two weeks, we are just waiting to get assigned to a specific therapist. I will continue to update as we progress.

Over the last few weeks so many of you have offered great advice and shared your own personal experiences with Early Intervention. I can't tell you how much I appreaciate hearing all of the positive feedback and success stories. We are very optimistic that before too long, with a little extra help, Reagan will be talking our ears off.

Black and White Wednesday... The Final Edition

September 7, 2011

Big Man on Campus BLOG
Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend.
Ours was fun, but busy and then yesterday, was the first day of school for Nick.

He is at the age where he is less than thrilled by the camera, but he did appease me for first day of school because.....well, it was the first day of school and he is a big man on campus this year.
(It was pouring rain and dark and ugly, so we snapped just a few on our front porch)

Nick is in 8th grade and it is his last year at this school.
We love this school and have made some incredible friends because of the tight knit community there. Nick has been in this school since first grade and next year, we are making the change from Catholic to public school. I can barely say these words let alone type them, but he will be in HIGH SCHOOL next year. I am not really sure how this all happened so quickly. It is difficult to think of him as a high schooler, but I guess I still have another year to get use to the idea.....right?

Nick Black and White First Day of 8th Grade Raw Silk BLOG
I look at him and just cannot get over how he has matured and changed over the last year. He is looking more and more like a young man and less and less like a little boy.....it's somewhat bittersweet.

You all have seen what a fantastic big brother he is to both Sarah and Reagan and he really has a good head on his shoulders. So far he has made good decisions and does not necessarily follow the crowd. I love that about him and hope that he continues down that path.

We are very proud of Nick and can't wait to see what 8th Grade has in store for him.
He does not get that much blog glory these days, he is happy to let the little ones have the spotlight, but I do try to sneak him in whenever I can:))

Now, I guess I need to explain the title of this post?

I am sad to say that this will be the last Black and White Wednesday.
It has been a lot of fun and I am thrilled that we were able to keep it going for almost two years, but I think it is time to change things up a bit.

In the beginning I really looked forward to Wednesdays and it was thrilling to see everyone else jump in on this link fest....... but it is starting to become a little overwhelming and well..... I hate to use these words, but stale and boring??

Anyone else up for a change?

I have thought a little bit about this and I wanted to come up with something catchy, yet something that everyone could take part in....even if you are not a photographer. I don't want anyone to feel left out or as though they cannot participate.

So here is what I am thinking......

the long road

Favorite Photo Friday
It is really very simple.
Just post your favorite photo or photos from the week on Friday and link back to me.
It can be a color photo or a black and white. Whatever you prefer, as long as there is a photo in your post, you can join in the fun.

You with me?

I am looking for some new inspiration and hope that this might be exactly what I need.
Change is good..... and I think it is time for some change around here.

This Friday I plan to put up the first official "Favorite Photo Friday" post.

Happy Final Black and White Wednesday.
Thank you to all of you that have played along.
It has been a pleasure getting to know you and I have thoroughly enjoyed all the black and white goodness.

I hope to see many familiar faces this Friday..... hint hint!!

Feel free to grab my new button, compliments of my ever so talented friend, Marla.
~Thanks girl, I love what you created~

Vynecrest Vineyards and Winery

September 5, 2011

Grapes on the vine and in the bottles COLLAGE
Friday evening we went to a party to celebrate some wonderful news just received by a good family friend.

She was my neighbor growing up and actually, I babysat her and her brother, but I don't really want to talk about that, because that just makes me feel old.... Anyway, she has three little ones close in age to Sarah. A set of twin girls and a boy. Her world was turned upside down a few weeks ago when she had a mole removed and it came back as melanoma.

We were all so very scared for her and we said many prayers as she went through some pretty invasive tests to make sure it had not spread or progressed to any other part of her body.

I know her family can attest, it was a VERY LONG two weeks of waiting. We were stalking her facebook page for any updates.......

and FINALLY, I was sitting at my desk and I got a text from her....


We were all so relieved to find out that they got everything.
It was what we had all prayed for and the best news possible.

Wine Signs COLLAGE
Her Mom said they were going to surprise her with a small gathering for their family and a few close friends and it happened to be held at the Vineyard that is in very close proximity to our house.

Grapes Shot from Below  BLOG
It was a beautiful night to celebrate life....

Picking Grapes Collage
and the blessings that surround us each and every day.

Fingers in mouth walking through the vineyard BLOG
We took quite a few walks down memory lane and the entire time I was thinking how fortunate we are to have each other, and to be here today to tell the stories of "way back when".

It was the gentle nudge I needed to make me realize I have to take time away from the crazy hectic schedules and just stop every once in a while and smell the roses, or in this case, stop and taste the grapes.

Time passes by so quickly, and we never know what tomorrow may bring.

Hope you all have a relaxing holiday.

Happy Labor Day~

PS. Reagan was not that wrinkled when I put her in the dress, but after a few minutes in the car seat, she looked a mess. I know the 5 point harness system is there to protect our kids, but it sure does wreak havoc on my ironing skills:)