Favorite Photo Friday - Beach Fun

August 31, 2012

tippy toes on the beach BLOG
We arrived back home on Monday afternoon and reality quickly set in.

Its all about those two fingers BLOG
As I was staring at piles of laundry and back to school shopping lists, I was wishing we were back on the peaceful beaches of The Cape.

ballerina and the big boulder BLOG
The girls loved every minute of their beach vacation and could not wait to step foot in the sand each morning.

fingers in mouth walking in the water BLOG
They enjoyed running and playing in the unusually warm water.....

Sand Castles on the Cape BLOG
but most of all, they spent hours upon hours digging and building sand castles.

Sand and the Red Bucket Reagan BLOG
It was probably one of the most relaxing trips we have ever had and although I had a lot of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to visit while there......

bathing beauties digging in the sand blog
We spent all of our days on the beach where everyone was happy and no one felt an ounce of stress.

Looking over the bucket BLOG
Cape Cod for us is a little peace of heaven on Earth and we can't wait to go back.
In fact, we are thinking about another trip this Fall for a quick weekend getaway before the weather gets too cold.

It has been a hectic week as we are approaching the first day of school for all of the kids. Nick and Reagan start their new schools on Tuesday the 4th and Sarah begins next Monday the 10th. It will be a busy holiday weekend here as we still have a lot of shopping to do. Wishing you and yours a Happy Labor Day weekend!
With any luck, I will finish going through our vacation photos next week.

the long road

Sunday Snapshot - "Beach Lovin' Sisters"

August 26, 2012

Sisters Hugging on the Beach2 BLOG
I know I said I wasn't going to post again until we returned home.....

Reagan Reflection and Sunset BLOG
but I thought I would give everyone a quick sneak preview to our sunset photo shoot on the beach.

Standing in the sunlight BLOG
I haven't spent much time editing, but could not wait to edit just a few.
Trust me when I say there will be many more beach photos to come.
For now I just wanted to share a few of my very favorites!

Today is our last beach day and tomorrow we pack up to head home.
I am feeling a little sad about that, but as they say, all good things must come to an end. We have had a fabulous time and a lot of memories have been made to hold us over until our next trip to the Cape.

Camera: Canon 5d Markiii
Lens: 70-200 f2.8
The settings for the top photo were:
Focal Length 70mm
f 3.5
SS 1/250
ISO 250

The sky absolutely took my breath away as did the gorgeous colors that were reflecting onto the water. I let the girls just do their thing and stood back to capture the sheer joy pasted all over their faces as they frolicked at the waters edge. Well, one of them ended up going all the way in....more on that later:)

I used the new Florabella Colorplay action set to process these. Perfect Color with a touch of Ocean Air and Peach, with Overlay number 17. If you have not checked out Florabella's new action set, you must, they are incredible!

Ni Hao Yall

Make sure you swing by Stef's blog to see more Sunday Snapshots.

Favorite Photo Friday - Sunset

August 24, 2012

Cape Cod Sunset
We are on the Cape and loving the sun, sand, and water.
Total relaxation mode has set in and we are enjoying all of the simple things while soaking up all of the beauty that surrounds us.
It looks like it is going to be another GORGEOUS day up here, so we are heading back to the beach!

This photo was taken as the sun was starting to set the other night.
While Reags was napping on our beach blanket, Sarah made a new little friend.
They were building a sand castle together. Even though this is just a plain old IPhone photo....
I am totally in love with it and it is my favorite photo of the week.

I am going to sign off and probably won't be back to share photos until later next week once we are back home.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

the long road

The Tooth-Fairy Flew In For A Visit

August 22, 2012

Toothless Grin Sarah BLOG
I have been away on business and Monday evening, I received a text from Pat delivering the news that Sarah lost her first tooth.

My heart sank because I missed it......
I wasn't there to witness it and what made me feel even worse, was knowing I was not going to be home to play tooth-fairy.....or to see her face first thing in the morning when she discovered the money under her pillow.

I called home and spoke to her and got to hear all of the details. She cried through dinner because her tooth was hurting but she would not let Pat near her mouth to pull it. I guess after dinner and some continuous wiggling back and forth with her tongue, it popped out. She was excited and they sent me an IPhone photo of her itty bitty tooth and then another one of her new smile.

Before I hung up, I made Pat promise me that he would not fall asleep without putting that money under the pillow and as always, he said, "Don't worry, I have it under control".

I was up late. I always have a hard time falling asleep when I am staying in a hotel by myself. I was watching TV and it was about 11pm and another text came through. It was Pat again and this time he was telling me that the "Tooth-Fairy" wrote Sarah a letter:

Good Morning Princess Sarah,

Here are six quarters,
one for each year of your life.
Use them for something fun,
or save them for something nice.

Your tooth is beautiful, but not very white;
please brush your teeth daily, morning noon and night.
You are very special to me and I will look after you as best I can;
Listen to your mom and dad, as they are my helping hands.

I'm sorry I couldn't stay for when you awake.
But do know that I love you, and hope I will be near you,
for every toothache.

Is he good or what?
Seriously, this one earns him Dad of the year!
It was so very sweet it made me want to cry....and here I was doubting him.
He typed it out on the computer and added some clip art he found by googling "tooth-fairy".

As you could imagine, Sarah was super excited when she woke up to find the money and the letter.

I got home after 7pm last night and as soon as I walked through the door she ran over to show me her new improved smile along with the letter that was left for her this morning:)

We took a quick picture to document the occasion, even if we are a day late.
After that it was time to empty my suitcase and get rid of all the business attire and repack my bag with beachwear!!

Right now we are on our way to Cape Cod and should have our feet in the sand by noon.
Have a wonderful week everyone....... be back soon and I am sure I will have plenty of photos to share!

Favorite IPhone Photo Friday

August 17, 2012

a visit to the library
Once again I am wrapping up our week Instagram Style!!!
Last Friday I took the girls to the library to pick out some new books for the weekend.
They love going, but we are still trying to teach Reagan to be quiet in the library.
She hasn't quite caught onto that yet:)

Back to School Shopping Collage
On Sunday we took Nick to meet his friends at the movies and while he was there, the girls and I did some back to school shopping at our outdoor mall. It was 95 Degrees and very humid so after pounding the pavement going store to store, we stopped in at Red Robin for a bite to eat. They now provide their customers with table side touchscreen computers. They do all sorts of cool things and the girls favorite part......they have about 50 different games for kids. They were in heaven as you can see!

rearview window
We shopped until we dropped and almost as soon as we got to the car, Reagan fell asleep.....and Sarah looked like she was about to nod off. I snapped a photo in the rearview mirror. Poor Reags was slumped forward in her carseat and did not make it in the shot.

sugar free cosmo
After a long day of shopping, we went to parent's house to celebrate my sister's bday. My Mom mixed up a batch of Sugar Free Cosmos.....and they were good!! In the grocery store where they sell "Crystal Light", they have mixes that are Cosmo, Margarita, and Appletini Flavored. My mom mixed with water and added a little vodka and fresh lime and they were so refreshing......and GUILT-FREE!!!

take turns kids
Once we had dinner the kids wanted to take their "cars" for a spin through Mimi and Coachie"s neighborhood. Unfortunately, the girls' Barbie Jeep battery bit the dust.....the battery will no longer hold a charge and we did not find out until they went to get in it, so the 4 kids had to share my nephew's jeep. There was some bickering about who got to go in the car and who was going to drive, but Mimi kept everyone in line and made sure that they took turns. The shirtless wonder would be my daughter..... Reagan still prefers to run around Sans clothes. You know how they say to pick your battles? I waived the white flag of surrender in the air that evening and just let it go.

It has been another busy week here including a day in court for Jury Duty, but I am happy to say that we have a fun week ahead. Sunday I fly out and head to Louisville, Kentucky for a business trip and while I am there, I get to visit some good friends:) I return late Tuesday afternoon to pack up the car and the family and head north to Cape Cod. I can almost feel my feet in the sand and the sun on my back.
This vacation is very needed and LONG OVERDUE!!!

~Have a wonderful weekend~

the long road

Family.... Where We Begin

August 16, 2012

Angled Frame BLOG
Two years ago today, I headed to work knowing we were about to receive a phone call that we were anticipating for over five years.

Frame out in front BLOG2
I think I must have dreamed about that day about a million times.

Hat Red Door Frame Reags BLOG
Even after all of those years of waiting, countless dreams, and watching so many friends experience the miracle of adoption before me,

steps with referral photo BLOG
I was not prepared for the emotions that came flooding over me when it happened that afternoon....

Triptych Reags Referral BLOG
...and saw this beautiful face for the very first time!

My big girl Reagan BLOG
It was love at first sight....and there was no doubt that this was our baby girl.

Hugging Sisters Red Glass Doors BLOG
I don't think my feet hit the ground for days, I was on "Cloud 9" and my days and nights were completely consumed with internet searches to try to find any piece of information that I could about her orphanage and her past.

Reags Hands Clasped on Cement Wall BLOG
The 8 weeks between referral and travel seemed like forever, this little girl was part of our family....she was at the forefront of our thoughts and already held a huge place in our hearts and we felt helpless because she was so far away. We could not wait to get her in our arms and show her how much we loved her.

Big sisters are the best BLOG
Well, all good things are worth the wait!!
Two years later, and not much has changed. We still wrap our arms around her every chance we get.

Chasing Bunnies BLOG
I look back at the referral photos and all of the pictures that were taken of her while she resided in the Chenzhou Social Welfare Institute, and although she was extremely well cared for and loved by the staff and her Nannies, I could see the vacant look in her eyes and her hurting heart.

Reagan's life began somewhere in China..... but she "came to life" when she realized the love of a family.
Chen Wen Yi, we love you with every ounce of our beings and would walk to the end of the earth and back for you.
You have blessed and enriched our lives in countless ways and we could not imagine a single day without you in it.

Happy Referral Day..... it was truly the beginning of a life changing journey.
Reagan's life and story, opened my eyes, my heart, and changed me for the better in a way that just cannot be described.
One day I hope to find the words to tell her........

Sunday Snapshot - "The New Hat"

August 12, 2012

2Sarah sitting in front of the red doors with Hat CROPPED BLOG2
I am head over heels in love with this hat!
It has been sitting on my dresser for weeks just waiting to be packed for our upcoming trip to Cape Cod.

Hat tipped to the side Sarah Red Door2 BLOG
I couldn't stand it any longer and grabbed it last night as we walked out the door for a photoshoot.
I figured we would give it a test run before we hit the beach:)

Sarah Hand on Hip with JCrew Hat TEX BLOG
The shoot was actually for Reagan, she has a very special day coming up this week. Sarah was not planning to come along with us and then just as we were ready to walk out the door, she decided she wanted to come join in the fun.

Sarah in the JCrew Hat1 tex blog
We headed to a location that we have not visited in years.
These red doors were the backdrop to our Christmas card back in 2008 and I thought they would work perfectly for what I was planning to do with Reagan. This is just a preview of what is yet to come, you will have to wait until Thursday to see the rest.

Hat Door and Stucco Wall BLOG
When I saw this hat online, I purchased it with Reagan in mind, but I have to say, last nights test run is making me think differently.
As soon as Sarah put it on her head, she turned on the Sass(She must take after Aunt Marla).
I think it looks absolutely adorable on her..... my girl wears it well!!

Camera: Canon 5d Markiii
Lens: 50mm f1.2
The settings for the top photo were:
f 2.0
SS 1/250
ISO 100

I am normally not a cropper, but that first photo seemed to have too much dead space and I made it more square for a little more visual interest. If you have been paying attention to my camera settings each week, you notice I like to shoot very wide open most of the time. By selectively focusing on your subjects eyes, you can still maintain a sharp focus on the subject while getting that dreamy blurred out background that so many love!

I tried some new things processing this series and don't have time to share right now, but I promise I will in the coming weeks!

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!
We have a busy day that will end with a celebration for my sister's birthday over at my parent's house. The girls are super excited to see their cousins and we are all looking forward to a night of good food and fun with our family.

Ni Hao Yall

Make sure you swing by Stef's blog to see more Sunday Snapshots.

Favorite Photo Friday - IG Style

August 10, 2012

Well, this is starting to become routine and it is mostly because I have had very little time to pick up the big camera during the work week. So once again, my favorite moments were captured by my Iphone and not my dslr.
Minnie Meltdown Instagram Series BLOG
The girls have been into dress up a lot these days and the other morning Reagan decided she wanted to wear her Halloween Costume from last year. She ended up having a "Minnie Meltdown" when she realized the fancy light up shoes that went with the costume no longer fit her feet. Can you say Spicy? This girl is as sweet as sugar, but that sugar can turn to spice in a matter of seconds. She can be very strong-willed at times and this morning was one of them....... There was no reasoning with her.

Time for a dip BLOG
After my outing with Nick on Sunday, I came home to find the girls playing on the deck. Pat cleaned out their pool and filled it up with cold fresh water. He had just given them the green light to go in and they were "testing the water". I thought it was such a cute moment.
A meeting of the minds before they decided to take the plunge!

NYC thru my windshield BLOG
This week I logged some major miles behind the wheel. I spent all day Tuesday in NYC with my boss visiting a very large potential client. Unfortunately, I did not have time to do much exploring, but I took a few shots at stoplights through my windshield. The one on the left was taken on Park Avenue and the one on the right was taken on Fifth Avenue. There was a time in my life I would have never driven myself into the city. I usually took the bus each time I went in, but with my GPS telling me where to go, I now feel confident and secure. The masses of people that just dart across the street in front of your car still make me nervous at times, but I am beginning to get used to it.

Fog and Sunrise BLOG
After returning home very late on Tuesday night, I had to wake up and get myself out the door by 6am the next morning. My destination was Philly this time. I was tired and knew I was in for a LONG day. As I traveled up the road behind our house, I noticed the sun rising above the cornfields and there was fog everywhere. I stopped the car and jumped out to get this shot and it might be my absolute fav of the week.

Hat Day BLOG
Yesterday was "Hat Day" for the girls. When they woke up and got dressed, they each picked out a hat to wear to school. Pat usually drops them off and while he was getting ready to head out, they sat quietly in our bedroom reading at the foot of the chaise lounge. Notice in the upper righthand corner, Reagan is holding her Barbie Cellphone while she is "reading". That phone goes everywhere with her.... she has even slept with it a few nights. You would think the thing really works:)

4 cuties
I bopped out of work just a little early yesterday so I could pick up the girls and go meet some very special friends for a play date. The weather did not exactly cooperate, so we had to move to the nearest indoor play center.
The girls had a blast and it was definitely the highlight of our week!

It has been a long work week for me and I am happy it is quickly coming to an end.
I am looking forward to a little R and R this weekend and a trip to the new boutique.
I need to do an update soon..... things are REALLY coming along!

~Happy Friday Everyone~

Since I had my blog freshened up, I thought that maybe it was time for a new button. I decided to design a bookmark for Favorite Photo Friday instead. I think it turned out kind of cute and matches the new look. Feel free to grab it for your posts.
the long road

Sunday Snapshot - "My Boy is Back"

August 6, 2012

Factory Brick Wall Graffiti Nick Full Length BLOG
Nick just returned from a week long trip to the beach with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin Eddie.

Cement wall in front of Factory Nick BLOG
He had a wonderful time and we are so grateful that they always invite Nick along.....

Chainlink Fence Sidewalk Nick BLOG
but we sure did miss him a lot last week!

Factory Railing Nick BLOG
When he walked in the door Saturday afternoon, he got quite the warm welcome.

Factory Steps Looking Up Nick BLOG
Apparently, I was not the only one missing him last week.

One Way Nick2 BLOG
There were two little girls that could not wait to wrap their loving arms around him.

Nick Framed By the Garage Door BLOG
He caught us up on all that happened at the beach and shared many funny stories along with the list of wonderful foods he had to eat.

Graffiti wall Nick BLOG
What can I say, he is a chip off the old block and he loves food.

Graffiti Wall Bokeh Nick BLOG
I promised him some one on one time Sunday, so we ran out to do a few errands and have some lunch, just the two of us. I love to be able to do that with him and thought it was time to talk some more about the upcoming school year which is rapidly approaching.

Eyelashes Nick BLOG
If you remember my post earlier this summer, I was concerned that he was unhappy with his choice to go to the public high school. Pat and I have really tried to stay on top of that this summer and have worked it into the conversation many times. So once again, I took advantage of my time with him yesterday and made it a topic of discussion. I am certain that he is confident and happy with his choice to attend the public high school. He is looking forward to all of the new opportunities he will have, and while keeping up with his old friends, he is also looking forward to making some new friends too.

We will continue to keep tabs on the situation after the school year begins and we have already told him that it is never to late to change your mind. I think he fully understands and knows he can come to us if he is not happy and wants to make a change...... but I truly think he will do just fine and shine like he always does.

I can hardly believe I am sending him off to high school in a few weeks.
It just does not seem possible that he is that old. I think of him as my little boy, but then I glance up at him or look at these photos and see that my boy has turned into a very handsome young man.

Camera: Canon 5d Markiii
Lens: 70-200mm f2.8 with IS
The settings for the top photo were:
Focal Length: 70mm
f 3.2
SS 1/500th
ISO 100

This location was a gem and was totally inspired by a building I saw in Philly this week while I was working(you can see it in my instagram feed). Obviously, this is not the kind of place I would take the girls, but it certainly worked for Nick. Lots of cool texture all around that added to the feel of the photos.

I used two different lenses for this set, my 70-200 and my 35mm. All photos were shot in the spot meter mode and were processed using Florabella's Classic Color(tweaked)with a touch of Rosy Cream and Rich Autumn. I also added a slight texture to this series as well.

Ni Hao Yall

Make sure you swing by Stef's blog to see more Sunday Snapshots.