Sunday, September 9, 2012

Game, Set...Match??? {Sunday Snapshot}


Oh. My. Lanta. We are off and running around here! I have been so so blessed to be able to be home full time with Jillian since we brought her home last November. It has been glorious for all of us...a special time to really focus on Jillian's adjustment...and in fact, ALL of our adjustments to becoming a family of four. they say...all good things must come to an end...and September found three of us heading back to school.

One week in...I feel good. Lia seems happy, Jillian mostly happy...and me? It felt great to be back at my middle school and the best group of co-workers ever. I think it's all going to work out perfectly...a little rushed...and the feeling that all I am doing is packing lunches constantly...but good. (Please don't visit unexpectedly until late June though...not sure my house is going to be company ready any time soon. Just sayin'... :-))

Definitely a balancing act!


I have also made a conscious effort to keep our activities at a least until we get back into the groove. Both girls will take dance class (Lia actually does two this year)...and we added a new

One of the few sports I know NOTHING about. :-)

Lia expressed an interest in tennis this summer...and I scheduled a few lessons for her just to see if she did, indeed, love it as much as she imagined she would.

She did.



...and so...Saturday afternoons this fall will find Lia on the court...practicing her skills...and learning to love a game that I hope she will enjoy well into adulthood. Time will tell...but for now?







{ps...if anyone has a good lead on Tennis for Dummies...I wouldn't mind the hook up.}

Photo 4-1-1:{Canon 50D, 50 mm, f/2.5, 1/250, ISO 160}

Edited with Florabella Actions.

I am linking up to Stefanie's Sunday Snapshot. Hop on over for some serious photo love. Did you notice how I worked that tennis phrase in? Love? Get it???

Ni Hao Yall

Yeah...I really need the book for dummies. And perhaps a book of jokes...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Passages {Sunday Snapshot}


It's that time of year...the changing of seasons that makes one stop and take stock. Perhaps fall, for me, more than any other, is the season that evokes introspection...a check on where I've been, where I am...and where I'm going.

The promise of a fresh start, pencils with sharp points AND erasers, new lunch adventures just over the horizon.

It's all good.

But I would be lying if I said that THIS particular impending fall isn't giving me slight heart palpitations.

Not full blown anxiety.

Just yet.

But heart fluttering, fighting back some tears kind of feelings. Worry and anticipation all rolled into one.

I will be returning to work this fall to the Middle School where I have worked for ten years. Lia will start Second Grade...and sweet Jillian will attend a full day Montessori School right down the street from where I work.

We love the school. Truly. Lia attended for five years. They are like family to us...supported us through our adoption of Jillian...and I have no doubt Jillian will flourish there.

If I could just loosen the the heartstrings a bit and let her go with grace.

Again...the whole worry AND anticipation at the same time thing. Tough stuff I tell you. I'm working on it...

But...for now, we have one more week to enjoy our leisurely summer schedule around here...and we are going to suck every last drop of fun out of it that we can.

Denial calling...(I know!)

On other fronts, it has been a whirlwind of photo shoots for me over the last two weeks...I have been so blessed...and so honored. One of the most special was the Senior shoot I did with my niece Renee.

If you read my know I adore that girl more than I could ever say...the girl who made me an aunt. The first grandchild in our family. I could not ask for a better role model for my girls...she is just a delight in every way.

Focused and fun...hardworking and somehow laid back at the same time. She left her small hometown last year, as a junior to attend a boarding school...and by all accounts has made a success of that decision (and total score for us because she is only an hour and 1/2 away now!). I can hardly wait to see what the coming year(s) bring for her.

We did part of our session a sunflower fun...and a first for me as a photographer...but definitely not the last!





For our second location we both wanted to do something a bit different. Dare I say...moody...

Over the years I have done a ton of photos with we thought we would shake it up a bit (for us that is!). We found a great location (so lucky to have a brother in law with an empty warehouse attic!)...battled some cobwebs...and only one (small) hole in the floor...and lived outside of the box for a bit. Although I had my flash with me...I really wanted to use the available light to make the photos a bit more dramatic. It definitely was a bit of trial and error for me...but thankfully, Renee was patient...and we both love the results of the shoot.




Even as I type this, time is marching on. Ready or not, we will soon bid good bye to the golden days of summer. We'll all soon be off and running...some of us at the end of a journey, some of us at the beginning...and me?

Somewhere in the middle...trying to hang on tight to the kite strings on both ends...laughing, wiping the tears...but always, always...counting my blessings along the way. Here's to new adventures and new opportunities! :-)


Photo 4-1-1: {Canon 50D, 50mm 1.8, ISO 640, f/2.2, shutter 1/25}

Edited with actions from the Florabella Collection.

To feast on some photo goodness...hop on over to Stefanie's blog!

Ni Hao Yall

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Snapshot. Just one. F'real.


It has been a week of ca-razy fun around these parts. We packed the car and headed Grandparent/Cousin central where we spent the week lounging pool side, playing carefree and just generally sucking every last drop of fun out of this summer that we could.

I was thrilled to work in several Senior photo sessions during the week...including my oldest niece...which will be a post of it's own sometime soon. I had some crazy ideas for her session...and she was on board completely. Really SO special for me...and I am so thrilled with the results that I have ALMOST forgiven her for going and growing up.

I also did a quick "Back to School" session with Lia, Jillian and my youngest nieces. Also lots of fun...despite the youngest little student who enjoyed walking around more than actually taking part. :-) I have some hilarious outtakes of that shoot... but again...a whole post in the making.

So I woke up this morning. thinking of all the packing I needed to get done to come home and realized I had kind of left out one of my nieces. Although she has modeled for me tons of times...we didn't hook up this week ONE time.

And that?

Just ain't right. :-)

I made the necessary calls, the child (and I am using that term VERY loosely...because like the rest of the children in my life she is refusing to heed my requests to stop growing up. Sigh.) may or may not have been awakened from a deep sleep, ideas were thrown about in quick succession and 40 minutes later we were on location.

Uhhh...I think it was worth it.

Like...holy cow...take my breath AWAY...worth it.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Especially a totally thrown together last minute plan.

Really really good stuff.

A perfect ending to a perfect week...and a fitting good-bye to this most golden of summers.


The Photo 4-1-1:

Canon 50D
ISO 250

This photo was edited with Florabella Actions {Splendor and Classic Color} and with Sunflare by Nicole Van. Head wreath by Pink & Pigtails.

Because it's Sunday...I am linking up with Stephanie. Click the link below to find some honest to goodness photo genius...and meet some really nice people along the way! You'll be SO glad you did!

Ni Hao Yall

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Treasures {Sunday Snapshot}


I recently found myself discussing with Lia the phenomenon of "happy tears". It certainly is not the first time we have had this, it appears, I am a frequent flier in the realm of "happy tears".

It's not pretty.

I know this because my sister wrote me the most beautiful thank you note when I was her Maid of Honor. Her last line read, "Don't cry when reading this note. It's not your best look."

As if.

I appreciated the sentiment...but it did nothing to stem the waterworks.

Everyone could use a sister like her I tell you. F'real.

...anyway...back to the reason for this post. I cried the ugly "happy cry" because my husband loves a good garage sale.

And he is passing that...ahem...passion...right down to Lia.

While I am a firm believer that one man's junk man's junk, as it turns out, neighborhood garage sales are an excellent place to spend Tooth Fairy money (lots of bang for your buck!)...and hopefully learn the value of a dollar along the way.

I am so proud that Lia more often than not comes home with a little something something for Jillian too. So proud.

But that doesn't normally bring on the tears.

It's that genuine plastic carousel/music box/jewelry keeper beauty in the photo that brought me down. And not for the reason you might think. :-)

Lia came home cradling that contraption like it was made of solid gold one Saturday in June. She declared it her "most favorite treasure" ever. THERE IS EVEN JEWELRY INSIDE THE DRAWERS MOM!( ...and I use the term "jewelry" loosely here). But to her seven year old eyes...magical.

A treasure to be sure.

Jillian was equally besotted.

Causing many...shall I say...disagreements...about who was going to play with it.

And how.

And when.

That nearly drove me to tears of another sort.

But since this is a family blog...I am going to stick to the happy.

We finally put it up on a shelf in Lia's room where we could all gaze upon it's loveliness whenever we chose.

Never underestimate the value of a high shelf.

Peace reigned once again...until one night a few weeks ago...Lia and her carousel made me cry.

Lia has taken to getting both herself AND Jillian ready for bed each night as a "surprise" for us.

They scamper upstairs and I can hear Lia coaching Jillie through putting on her pajamas, brushing her teeth...and using the potty.

On this particular night, Jillian was a bit resistant to the whole potty part of the routine. I heard Lia tell Jillian that she would give her a "present" if she did it. So Jillian did it.

I headed upstairs to make sure Lia would honor her promise to find her scanning the shelves in her bedroom. I suggested a hair bow or ribbon...but she wasn't satisfied. She asked me to take Jillian into my room to wait for the surprise.

I could hear her pushing her stool around...a little banging...and then..there she was.

With the genuine plastic carousel/music box/jewelry keeper beauty.

I tried to quickly point out that she needn't part with such a dear possession...but Lia was adamant. She was proud of Jillian and she wanted her to have the treasure "because she loves it so much Mom. It will make her SO happy."

So you know where this ends right? the bathroom, trying to hide my sobbing from the children, all the while babbling incoherently to Jim about what just happened. He thought I was hurt at first.

I think I gave them all a scare.

But it WAS a happy cry.

And even though I wasn't pretty...I sure was proud of MY treasure.


The Photo 4-1-1:

{Canon 50d, 50mm, f/2.5, 1/60}
{Edited with actions from the Florabella Collection}

Hello Sunday! Check out some really great photography! (and be sure to stop by here later this week. Coming up? A video of Jillian yodeling! It's a don't miss!!) :-)

Ni Hao Yall

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Three Lines

It seems like a lot changed in the five years between the adoptions of my girls. Lia is from Baoji, Shaanxi Province...smack dab in the middle of China. Baoji, the city where she was found, has a military base (so I've heard)...and they don't allow many visitors (although it seems they are getting better about that) least we were not granted permission to visit in 2006...a huge regret for us. We hope to go back one day to see where she spent her first year of life.
We WERE granted permission to visit Jillian's orphanage last November...and didn't have to travel far to do it. Just about twenty minutes outside of Guangzhou, it was an easy trip at that. The director herself conducted the tour...and although I felt they were trying very hard to present a great impression, I WAS impressed with the classrooms, the workers who clucked over Jillian and even gave her a snack as they fed the other children. I wrote, somewhat non-coherently, about the visit and the emotions of that day here.

I would like to go back and make spelling corrections, etc...but have decided to leave my China posts stand as they are...typed hurriedly in the dark of a hotel room as my daughters slept...and I should have been.
Before we left the orphanage that day, Jim asked the director if she had an e-mail address. To be had never crossed my mind. I was even more excited when she said she did (seriously...SO different from our first adoption clouded in so much secrecy it seemed). I sent her some photos of Jillian a few days ago...and this morning I woke up to a response...short...but oh so sweet.


Seriously good stuff. I hope we can take her up on that warm welcome some day...


Sunday, August 5, 2012

.Beloved. {Sunday Snapshot}


1. greatly loved; dear to the heart


2. a person who is greatly loved













She is...most definitely... beloved.


{Top photo:Canon 50d, 50 mm, ISO 200, f/3.5, 1/125}

{Edited with Florabella Actions and Nicole Van sun flare}

Dresses from here
Lia's Petticoat from here

It's stop around and check out the Sunday Snapshot goodness at Ni Hao Y'all!

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Frozen Concoctions...with a Shower on the side...

We spend several, glorious weeks visiting our hometown during the summer. The girls get some excellent cousin and grandparent time...and I would be lying if I didn't admit to enjoying the low key days and many dinners out with various relatives. :-)

It may have been the general air of joie de vivre that we embrace on vacation...or maybe just the thought of a good photo op...but a quiet trip to the local coffee shop during our visit last month turned into great summer fun in the blink of an eye...and I can't say for sure who enjoyed it more...the girls or me! :-)

We were leaving the shop after a {brain freezing} drink...when the girls took notice of a ground fountain in the courtyard outside. They asked if they could "dip their feet"...

...and, here, is the rest of the story...(and proof that I CAN be a fun mom from time to time...ha! :-))

At first...they WERE mild mannered and demure. Perfect little ladies.


That lasted about 30 seconds.


(and really...with a face like that...would you deny her???)

Jillian was hesitant at first...


...but soon got as carried away as Lia!



Here, they were dipping their faces into the water.


One of them liked it...


and one of them did not!


(don't worry...those tears lasted a total of 3 seconds!)

Such a fun of those unexpected joys that just happens along in a day's time. Despite the wet ride home, Lia has already asked to "go to the coffee shop" again when we visit later this month. :-)

{Photos edited in Lightroom with Presets from One Willow}