Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kickin' it Old School {Sunday Snapshot}


Once upon a time, Jim was the photographer around these parts. I was so excited the Christmas before we traveled to China for Lia when I gave him a S**y point and shoot digital camera. That trusty little workhorse saw us through that trip to China and our first year home with Lia.

Until I started carrying it around in my diaper bag.

With leaky sippy cups of apple juice.

Quick PSA...leaky sippy cups and cameras don't play well together.

I blame it on the sleep deprivation. :-)

Because it makes me seem slightly less...well...ditzy.

I started Livin' la vida Lia in January 2008 (you can see my first post here. It's actually two posts because I couldn't figure out how to add more than one photo on a post. :-)).

As I started to read more blogs and see such fabulous photography...I wanted to do a little more myself. Photographically speaking that is.

I convinced Jim I needed a better camera.

One not slowed up with apple juice and all.

So...he bought me a Canon Rebel. On the condition I learn how to use it. I promised I would.

So I did. :-)

...and boy did I have fun along the way.

I can't tell you how many afternoons I spent dressing Lia up so I could photograph her. I would like to say that my children look like they stepped out of a Matil*a J*ne look book on a daily basis...but really they do not. I love 'em just the way they are to be sure {all bed headed and usually wearing mismatched dress up clothes...if I'm lucky. Jillian is going through her "undies only" phase...a topic for another post}...just letting you know that becoming...ahem...fancy photo ready...takes a little bit of doing.(Although I want to be clear here...I LOVE shooting the everyday goodness too :-))

Luckily, Lia loves the "getting fancy photo ready" part...and was a very willing participant in those early days. You can see what I was up to back in the day here. Or here. Good times. :-) Filling my days up with fun photo shoots and my evenings blogging about it. And getting LOTS of camera practice in the process!

Now that I have branched out a bit, a lot of my photography time is spent planning and editing photos for other people. And while I truly love every second of that...I sometimes miss those early days of my journey.

So I decided to head out with Lia one night this week to kick it old school. Me, my camera and my best big girl. (this photo totally inspired by the genius of her.)


Total bliss.

...and the fact that the park maintenance workers had apparently decided to mow everysinglefield I wanted to use? Didn't slow us down a bit.

We made it work.


Tim Gunn is somewhere smiling. I just know it.

My Lia is an artist. Compelled to create. She literally wakes up each morning and heads right to her craft table. And I love every blessed, messy second of it. It is a sight to behold...watching her lost in what she is doing...usually humming or whistling a happy tune. Joyful.


Completely unaware of her surroundings...lost in her happy place. I dropped her in the middle of the woods...and she sat right down and went to work...drawing, blowing away the loose bits of chalky pastels...creating. I could not even bring myself to interupt her to give directions...I just let her be.

And it was beautiful to me. The girl. The location. The passion.



After a recent visit to our local art store, she told me she wanted to stay there all day looking at the art supplies.:-)

She told me "photography people" were my people and "art people" were her people.

I told her my people would give her people a call.

Maybe we could do dinner.

She was not amused.


I just hope someday she appreciates the effort. :-)

(Because even though I didn't mention it...I proudly claim the Goofy in the world as my people too.) :-)

So...she's growing up...despite my efforts to stop the hands of time.


But these photos...treasures to me...helped capture THIS moment...and in the process re-live some others.

Old School rocks.

And so does my little artist.


{Canon 50d, 50mm, f/2.5, 1/60, ISO 400}
{Edited with Florabella Actions ("Splendor" and "Add Some Drama") and Textures (Cream Canvas)and Nicole Van Sunflare Action}

{Shirt is from The Gap}
{Petticoat from The Measure}

I have been loving the Sunday Snapshot! Be inspired, make a friend, have some fun and join in. :-)

Ni Hao Yall

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A study in contrasts...

Lia and Jillian are almost exactly four years apart in age. I originally worried {SO silly!} that they would be too far apart to truly become friends...and happily co-exist.

But as time goes by, I am loving that spread more and more. I am enjoying a perfect mix of toddler and big girl thankyouverymuch...

...and getting some amusement out of it too.

As I was attempting to organize recent photos (and that is NOT going well...I keep getting distracted. You are reading the case in point. :-))...I found two photos that kind of give a visual to the dynamic we are rocking these days.

My Lia...almost second grader. Reading quietly. Drenched in sun. Peaceful. Serene.


...and Jillian. Who just brings the sun with her. {You KNOW you secretly want to lick your ice cream bowl clean too. Live vicariously. I know I am. :-)}


So thankful for both my girls and their VERY different personalities. :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Of Beaches (again!), Cousins (again!), Kites and Gratitude {Sunday Snapshot}


It has just been a summer of feeling settled around here. We started our first adoption in 2004...and since that time, we have been "waiting"...first for Lia (home in February 2006)...and then for our second China adoption. Standing at the window in Xi'An China with Lia the night before we took her away from the only life she knew, I shed some tears and promised her (in a MOST over emotional, first time mother tired and overwhelmed way) that we WOULD return to her homeland one day...and I KNEW that there was going to be another daughter for our family.

Little did we know HOW long it would be until we met her. Our second adoption...begun in the spring of 2007 took so many twists and turns...renewing paperwork, praying for a speed-up, happily living our lives with Lia...but always waiting.

While it makes sense that the waiting would become easier over time...the last 6 months...after we had been matched with Jillian were definitely the most trying for me. Last summer, especially, was so bittersweet...going through the motions...while knowing "the rest of our story" was waiting for us on the other side of the world. Each morning, when I awoke, I said a prayer of safe-keeping for my Jillian...being tucked in to sleep...and each night, a prayer of safe-keeping for her new day. It just about did me in. Some of the hardest days I have known.

But THIS summer?

Everything is different. And it's ALL good.

And for the first time in almost 8 years (!), my heart is settled. Blessings abound. And we are enjoying this sweet sweet season more than I could have imagined.

It have been wonderful to spend time with our families...welcoming Jim's brother and his family home from a year in Brazil (we were able to Skype them from fun that was!), spending extended time with the grandparents...and introducing Jillian to all of her cousins.

We're ALL about girls in our family. My girls have 6 cousins...not a boy among them. Jillian is the youngest and most likely the last of this cousin posse. Thankfully they do not spoil her at all.

Ha! :-)

This year, in addition to Jillian, we were thrilled to bring our niece, Eva, with us to the beach for the first time.

All mad cello playing, 6 ft. of her. :-)

Both girls were ecstatic...especially Lia...who quite possibly broke a record for thinking up questions to ask Eva during dinner (and every other waking moment). The good news is...we know now what Eva's favorite vegetable and fruit are...and what they are not...and pretty much every other bit of trivia about her. Good stuff. We love that girl...and it was fun to get to know some new things about her! :-)

Our first few days at the beach were chilly. Even so, the call of the waves was we bundled up one evening determined to fly our kite!

While Jim fought with the temperamental kite...the girls took some time to explore...undeterred by the chill in the air.


I got Lia to stand still just long enough to snap this photo. In EVERY other photo from this night, she is on the move...she loves the beach SO much she has a hard time NOT skipping or dancing ALLTHETIME.


Eva was a little more patient.


Jillian insisted on getting in on the act. :-) (She's obviously VERY serious about it! If she wants to be in the photo...well...I can't bring myself to stop her (I may be guilty of slight spoiing myself). I aim to please. (At least where photos are involved. Can you blame me???)


Going back through my photos to document our time with Eva, this one caught my eye. To me, it is a photo that speaks 10,000 words...and I could just put my mom goggles on and stare at it all day long. So poignant to this season in our lives...


And on this...Jillian's second time on the beach...she decided she liked the sand. Despite the lack of sand implements, she sat right down and started to play. While technically a snapshot, taken on the fly...this photo is one of my all time favorites of my Guangzhou girl. Just like her big sister, she takes her mother's breath away...


Finally...Eva. Did I mention she is 6 ft. tall?

I am not 6 ft. tall.

So my decision to photograph her standing, with the water in the background became somewhat problematic. Changing perspective is sort of photography 101 for dynamic portraiture. I usually take a step stool with me to sessions to help with that actually. But I didn't have one on the beach of course. The only way I could have shot Eva was from below. At a steep angle (sigh). So I set the shot up...and handed the camera to Jim.

All hunky 6 foot 2 of him. :-)

And he snapped it for me.

He's so handy sometimes.

I think I'll keep him.



Sadly...the kite never really took flight...but this golden night...and the week that followed will surely remain perfect memories for the rest of our days. The days, home with our Jillian, that we began the rest of our lives...blissfully complete and so so grateful.
Canon 50d
ISO 200
{Edited with actions from the Florabella Collection}
It's I am linking up with Stefanie's Sunday Snapshot!

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thursday Afternoon

Take one girl
With one older sister
One bored older sister
Add one hat
Purchased for someone to wear to a hat parade in October
Throw in less than summer-ly weather
Which canceled plans to swim with friends
And you get one awfully sweet...
...Totally styled by a 7 year old
Memory. :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blog Business. And a Pink Hat.

Small confession. I can't juggle. :-) Most days the tail wags the dog around these parts. Don't get me wrong. It's mostly a happy dog...but all that tail wagging makes me tired. And I have a hard time keeping up!

Once upon a time, I loved to blog. As you might imagine...I am not a traditional scrap booker...and my blogs are my legacy to my children. Dramatic? Yes. But so true. The special days, and the everyday, run of the mill days...I want to remember them all. And I want both of my girls to know just how much I treasure them and this {very} fleeting season.

As it turns out, my good intentions of maintaining a blog for Lia, Jillian and my photography business were WAY too ambitious...and I gave up on all of them.

So...I'm making some changes around here. My personal blogs will be merged in the near future (who knew you could do that??? So thrilled!) and I will blog our personal story under ONE {new} name (Whew!)...and my business blog (poor pathetic unused space it is)will also undergo an overhaul to reflect the new changes and directions my photography is going. (I also have a Facebook page here. Thusly adding to the whole juggling failure).

Fingers crossed that this makes things easier!

I am thrilled that in the last few weeks, as I have stuck my toe back into the blog world, I have reconnected with old friends...and found some new ones too.

It's nice to be back. :-)

...and since I am here...and no post is complete without some photos...I bring you Jillian. And a huge pink hat. When she sashayed downstairs in this little number yesterday, I didn't waste a moment getting her outside for some photos. was about 227 degrees outside yesterday. And the only thing Jillian was feeling was sweaty.


Oh she looked smashing...and she knew it...


But my attempts to get her to "look at the camera" were apparently translated as "open your mouth wide and look away"...


We're working VERY hard on her English by the way.

Also on the list is the word "smile". At this point, I think she must be translating this as "show Mommy your teeth".


They are SUCH cute little teeth though. She just aced her first dental exam last week. Rock on little tiger. Rock on. Grrrr.

And the last "My head is hot and I am done now" photo.


Just the kind of 10 minutes I love in an otherwise "normal" day.

The kind of moments that make MY life extraordinary.

And the reason I adore blogging. :-)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

An open letter... {Sunday Snapshot}


Dear Renee and Annemarie,

Gosh, you both make me so proud. I want you to know that. It has been a joy and an honor to be your aunt. Between the two of you there is an abundance of kindness, genorosity, drive and spunk. I could not ask for better (or more patient!) role models for my girls. You are the very best kind of cousins...and to say that we all look forward to the weeks we spend visiting you in the summer is an understatement.


Your mom (who, by the way, has stood, not by my side...but just a bit ahead of me...protecting me, shielding me, taking care of me...and always telling me how it perfect older sister fashion) asked me to get some images of you both together...and, well...she didn't have to ask twice. :-)

IMG_5553-Edit-Edit-Edit-1 you get ready to head to Fashion Merchandising Camp (does that sound like a fabulous time or what??? I know you'll take the Big Apple by storm!)...I LOVED how you styled your outifts!

IMG_5522-Edit-Edit-1 you get ready to take the Big Apple by storm in a different way in the next few months...I love that you were patient enough to let me take your photos. And thanks for not laughing when I forgot to turn my camera on. Multiple times. That was kind of you.


It was so much fun to head out without a firm plan in mind. Those unepected adventures have proven to be some of the best in my life...and I hope you both have many in your lifetime!


Your mom asked for "a field"...and we sure found a great one! :-)

All in all...a fun filled few hours that I will treasure for years to come. I will most certainly enjoy looking at these images from my arm chair vantage point as your lives start to take shape. I can't wait to watch you both fly. May ALL your days be full of sunny, happy adventures...and may you always take them on side by side.

Remember you have each other.

And your old aunt too. :-)


Aunt Katie

(The sun was SO gorgeous the night we shot. I loved this photo straight out of the camera!)

Unedited version:


For my edited version, I used {Classic Color} from Florabella at a very low opacity and did some sharpening.


Canon 50D
50 mm 1.8
Shutter: 1/500
I am joining Stef's Sunday Snapshot this week. Hop on over to see what all the fuss is about!

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, July 11, 2012



Getting those band-aids open and attached is not the easiest thing for Jillian. So when she got hold of a box at her grandparents and went to town, I didn't try to stop her. :-)

When she realzied I was going to take her picture, she ran and grabbed her little purse. OF COURSE it was the prfect accessory.

It's just the way she rolls.

All fancy and sassy at the same time. :-)

And well protected in the shin area.

Nana and Papa...we'll square up on that band-aid issue our next visit!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

SumMer LiVin' {Sunday Snapshot}


We celebrated the 4th of July yesterday.

I know. :-)

It was actually an annual party that started as a 4th of July fete...but has evolved into apartysomewherearoundthefourthofJulythatnowhasadifferentthemeeachyear party.

My sister and brother in law, super fun party planners and hosts that they are usually give us a ring a few weeks before the party to let us know the "theme" for the year.

This year? Disco. Complete with a dance contest.

Right on.

Before the big dance off, we enjoyed some swimming.


Cousin love...


...and LOTS of lip licking good food!


Chloe wore her finest. Please don't mention to her that ties are for boy dogs. She doesn't know and was awfully proud of her poochy ensemble.


And the dance contest?

My girls brought it.

Good to know all of the hours we have spent dancing around the house have paid off.

Older cousins who organize and DJ a dance contest totally rock.


Lia took it seriously. Here she is listening to the rules.


And all that seriousness paid off. She won for the "best moves". All that sweaty dancing earned her a Gei*o headband and a bottle of cookie dough hand sanitizer.

Total score, right??

She could not have been more thrilled and already has plans to take that hand sanitizer in her backpack to Second Grade. :-) I love my slightly germ obsessed girl. And her awesome dance moves.

Jillian wasn't quite sure what to make of it all at first. Taking it all in but not sure what the craziness was about.


But soon the pulsing beat won her over and she got her boogie on.

Big time.

And even though she won no hand sanitizer...that little one's got moves too.

I'm SO proud.



Needless to say...a great time was had by all (I may have joined in to dance "The Hustle...but happily no photographic evidence exists. You're welcome.) and we are all a little "danced out" tired this morning. Such a fun party and we sure can't wait to do it again. In about a year. :-)

(My niece, Olivia. Always camera ready.)


I am joining in with Stef's Sunday Snapshot. Lots of fun and lots of great photos! Check it out!

Ni Hao Yall

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A TaLe of TwO SisTerS {Sunday Snapshot}


We have been home with Jillian for just over 7 months (whoa!). I remember reading a blog post by an adoptive mom several years ago where she suggested that it takes a good six months to truly start to settle in and feel "normal" again after the addition of a child (biological or adopted!). That kind of stuck with me (obviously) and before we traveled to China, I had prepared myself for {possible} rocky roads and a {possible} difficult period of adjustment for all of us.

Well...if you haven't gotten it from reading this blog...we have been extraordinarily blessed with a wonderfully easy transition with Jillian. She is SO easy-going, loving, trusting...just easy. She eats, sleeps, plays, cries, laughs and just generally meets each day head-on looking for the next adventure.

Having said that...I have to admit that it hasn't been ALL rainbows and unicorns around here. :-)

There's a new sheriff in town and the....ahem...OLD sheriff had a bit of a bigger adjustment than we thought she would.

Jillian adores Lia...



...and I know Lia loves Jillian too...



...but it HAS been a bit of a work in progress.

On a daily basis. :-)

We've been on summer vacation for two weeks...and I am thrilled to say it seems we may have tunred the corner onto Sibling Love Lane for good. While we still take a turn on to Squabble Drive or Give Me a Break Way from time to time (usually around the time I am trying to get dinner on the table each day!)...I see them each settling into a good routine with one another...a nice mix of doing their own thing and playing together as well.

Yesterday we took a short trip to a local historic park to explore a bit. I had my camera to scope out locations for some upcoming family sessions...but when I saw all those painted doors I HAD to get a few of the girls. Sometimes the bloopers are my favorites! (This truly makes me laugh...hilarious...and SO them!)


...and then of course...the kind of shot my husband insists I take. The children are as enthusiastic as me. We!love!canons! LOVE! Can you tell?? :-) (see Jim??? I DID put it on the blog...because we love you if NOT your choice of backdrops! Ha! :-))


But then...I get lucky enough to capture a quick moment between Lia and Jillian that makes all the struggles (photographic and other!) worth it. I stopped to reset my camera settings...and left to their own devices...this is what happened. Like I said...Sibling Love Lane. I have proof...and I am saving it to look at tomorrow.

Around the time I will be trying to get dinner on the table. :-)


I am linking up once again with Stefanie (third week in a row...shut.the.front.door!). Click on the link below to enjoy some more Sunday Snapshot'll be SO glad you did. Good stuff.

Ni Hao Yall