Thursday, February 25, 2010

for Jeanne Louise...

Sept. 29, 1933-Feb. 24, 2010

What I will always remember about her is her love of flowers and most things in the garden that grow and are beautiful. The image above are peonies that originally came from a peony bush from her childhood home in southern Indiana. Each time we moved to a new home we would take a few cuttings and plant them in the flower beds. Somehow it gives me great comfort that my husband's mother Jeanne will live on in the peonies that bloom in June in our yard.

Wednesday night my mother in law passed away. She died peacefully after a very long illness, with a dear friend beside her holding her hand. Jeanne had a full life, though sometimes difficult and very stressful but also one filled with great joy, love, family and many friends. She loved her late husband dearly and has missed him so much since he died 17 years ago. She loved her 3 sons, and especially her youngest son (my husband), Dan. She was fiercely proud of him, the first to go to college in her family. Jeanne adored and doted on all of her grandchildren, who were the lights of her life.

She was strong, feisty, funny, outspoken, quirky, opinionated, loving, right brain, creative, and kind of 'kooky' in a good way. She was truly a 'character' if you know what I mean. I often say they don't make people like this anymore. I learned to love antiques, old buildings, history and appreciate art from her. Sadly for us this world will somehow just not be the same anymore. Jeanne, I will miss you always and you know I'll take good care of Dan, so please don't worry. I'm blessed to have had you in my life for the 23 years I've known you. Thank you.

With much love,


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

black and white Wednesday ~ Will and me

the long road

These two were taken almost exactly a month ago of my 4 year son Will.

I processed each one a little differently.
Both images have kind of a vintage look, the bottom one warmer and almost sepia toned. I love how his sweater looks converted to black and white.

And I also want to write a few words about our little boy.

When I look at these pictures there are times that I almost can't believe he's ours and is here with us. After the eternal wait, the idea that your child is a 'real person' and not just a dream that you've hoped and prayed for so many years. If you've read my blog for a while you know that Will's transition to our family was a difficult one, he was not a happy camper for a long time. In China he attached first to Dan and would have nothing to do with me, in fact he'd scream if I got anywhere near him. Will's attachment to me has taken quite a while, and it's just recently that I feel he's completely turned the corner. I understand the psychology of it all very well. By age 2.5 (the age when he was placed with us in China), he had attached to and loved a few other women caregivers or mommies in his group foster home. I understood his resistance to reach out to me because it's hard to love when you aren't sure if this 'new' mom (me) may leave you.

He can be a bit stubborn, and a strong willed little boy by nature which are admirable traits because they helped him survive in China. They are part of who he is and I love that about him. But what Will got with me as his mommy was someone who was just as stubborn and persistent in my love, patience and dedication to him. I hoped with time and trust he would attach to me. And he has. We have both worked hard to get here and he's a brave little boy to take a chance with me as his mommy. For me, that a child can heal and love again is probably the greatest miracle of adoption.

Let me just say I read many adoption blogs and I think sometimes people are reluctant to talk about the times that are a little harder or maybe difficult with their children. I'm not really sure why that is, because I strongly believe we're all here to help and support each other. After the placement of your child(and I'm speaking about infants too), please don't expect so much from them at first. Every child grieves differently. Keep in mind this little person has a history, experiences and a life before you. They have lost so much and yet they have gained so much. It takes time, and attachment is a lifelong task. As my friend Lori says, "the gains are hard fought for." Yes they are hard fought for and worth it...every single step.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

just because ~

Well these 2 have had more than a little bit of cabin fever this weekend. While Dan and I have been doing a big basement re-organize/clean out/over haul, they have spent a lot of time together playing in their newly rearranged play area. We really need this snow to go away, so we can get outside. Hey I'd take mud and temps in the 40's.
Check out the energy they both have in the video. :) They're dancing to their favorite song...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday's Finds

Well I don't know about y'all but I've just about had it with it still being Winter.
Recently I've been cleaning out cupboards, closets and going through Summer clothes that my kids wore last year. Both Grace and Will have had huge growth spurts. Will cannot fit into any of his last year's Summer clothes. He's gone from a size 2t last year, briefly stayed in a 3T this Fall and Winter and I'm buying him 4T for Spring/Summer. Grace can fit into some things, but not nearly as many as I thought she could.
I've been getting ready for Spring/Summer for them. I'm sending a large box of outgrown clothes to Will's foster home in China
and it feels great to help the family and children we've come to know and love.
Anyway, today's Friday's Finds are some of my recent purchases for Spring/Summer for Grace and William.

Yesterday I bought both of these adorable pairs of shoes at Target for Will.

The above little brown canvas sneakers, you can find here.

And the above 'flame' little boy Converse are all William. When we first met him in China, Will had a pair of shoes that were similar with the flames on the side. Will called them his 'Lightning shoes.' Lighting as in 'Lightning McQueen' in the movie Cars. When he outgrew them it broke my heart but these are a close match. Will LOVES them already. Also found at Target, here.

These 2 new tees for Will, with the dragon and tiger were found at the Tea Collection.

Tea clothes are all 100% cotton, extremely well made and very soft. They do many Asian inspired collections which I love and right now have a Korean inspired one, which I'm crazy about.

And the below beautiful dress(the Anapji Pond Print Dress) is for Grace, also from the Tea Collection. I don't work for the company, just happen to love their clothes. ;)


Well with my recent trip to Target, I couldn't come home without something for Grace. I found these cute white sandals. She's gone up a size in shoes, I brought these home for her to try on. They are true to size and she loved the flower with the faux diamond on them! These are very Grace.

Our Gracie girl is a swimmer, and she has been swimming every week for the last 3 years. Though she has other basic suits to swim in the pool, we bought these 2 new cute ones recently. She picked them out herself.

The above leopard tank with ruffle one was found at CWD Kids. It's made by Flapdoodles.

And finally another suit that she chose is the above one by Kate Mack Swimwear at A Child's Closet. It's a gorgeous antique washed coral print bikini. Grace also talked me into the pair of matching flip flops. A Child's Closet is a great online boutique brand store. I highly recommend it. I shop from all kinds of places for my kids, from Target to mid priced and boutique children's stores. You can find cute clothes and shoes for kids everywhere.

Let me know if you have a great website or store you love for children's clothing and shoes. Oh, I also buy clothes off ebay for my kids from time to time and have had great experiences with it!

Happy Friday!

***And please hop over to Colleen's blog to see her Friday's Finds. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

black and white Wednesday

It's probably obvious that Grace is my 'muse' or inspiration for many of the pictures that I take. At age 7 she's already quite comfortable in front of the camera and kind of does what she wants, she has many ideas of what I should shoot of her image wise. It's pretty cute and she can get rather creative. So I follow her around while we talk and I snap away. I don't know how long this phase will last, but for now I'm enjoying it!
These two images were taken about 3 weeks ago and I thought they suited black and white pretty well. The above one on the railroad tracks with the contrast of snow and her dark coat and boots, made me laugh with the way she is standing.

This one was a little harder for me to get her skin tones look 'right' to me. Skin can look too gray or too white in black and white, so I tried to be careful. This was processed in Lightroom primarily though I added a few textures in photoshop CS3 and removed most from Grace's face.
Florabella 2 Mai Tai bl/w on Hue at 5%
Florabella 2 Mai Tai bl/w on Luminosity at 11%
Florabella 1 Lustre bl/w on Overlay at 15%
I feel like the textures added nicely to the bokeh in the background.
Please check out my friend Lisa's blog, The Long Road to China and see more black and white pictures linked to her blog.
And Happy Wednesday! :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Friday, February 12, 2010

a new year!

So here's the color version of the black and white from my Wed. post.

I shared in my previous post how I had wanted to get some portraits of these two in their traditional Chinese clothes. I sometimes think getting 2 or more children to sit for a portrait (as my husband says) is like 'herding cats.'

I kept the picture taking short and sweet and was very pleased with these images.

As people in China prepare for the new year that is arriving soon, I thought I'd share a little of what we do as a family to celebrate. Every year it's a little bit different. It's starts with me decorating with a lot of red, hanging red knots from our front door, paper lanterns hanging from the mantel, and a red silk table runner on the dining room with some of the things we bought in China decorating the table. I also put out a big bowl of mandarin oranges which symbolize good luck, they don't last long around here as both kids love them.

On the eve of the new year (Saturday night) we'll go out to dinner at our very favorite local Chinese restaurant. We live in a small town of about 10,000 people, that's just outside of a much larger city. Shortly after getting back from China with William, we went into that favorite place and to our surprise found out that the owners were originally from Will's birth city and province! Who would have thought that we could meet in a small town in Wisconsin. The 'Grandma' adores William and dotes on him. In fact every time we go there, he's swept away into the kitchen for a while and given some treats and spoiled a little. ;)

On Sunday we'll celebrate Chinese New Year with giving Grace and Will a few small gifts and red paper envelopes with a little money(even numbers) in them. We also give the 'hong bao' to some of our friend's children too. In 2 weeks we'll get together with a local group of friends all with children adopted from China, at another dinner.
In year's past I've spoken to Grace's classroom about Chinese New Year, we've had travel group get togethers, attended a festival put on by our adoption agency and gone to downtown Chicago's Chinatown and watched their parade which was amazing (though really cold!) I will say we always do something to celebrate the holiday and bring a little of China and it's rich, vibrant culture into our home.
You can say Xin Nian Kuai Le (Happy New Year!)

or Gong Xi Fa Cai (Congratulations and be prosperous!)

However you say it...Happy New Year!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

black and white Wednesday

It's already Wednesday again.
I had a completely different idea and picture that I was going to post this week.
It was a Valentine theme but instead felt inspired to go a different way.
The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival in China (which is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays) starts on Sunday, Feb. 14 which also happens to be Valentine's Day.
I think that they both happen to land on the same day is quite charming.
Probably because the 2 little loves of my life were born in China
and we now celebrate Chinese New Year as a family.
I've always wanted a portrait of my two in traditional Chinese dress
and was able to capture it last weekend. Grace's dress is a vibrant red, which is the color of Chinese New Year and symbolizes joy, virtue, truth and sincerity. Will's shirt is a rich sapphire blue. Will was playing with a toy drum that has a rooster painted on the front
(he was born in the year of the rooster).
The picture probably does looks better in color but I really DO love the black and white conversion.
I'll be posting some of the color versions maybe next week.
Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy New Year!)
oh and I almost forgot, Happy Valentine's Day too!

If you'd like to link your black and white picture to Lisa's blog at The Long Road to China, please do and also see what she and others have posted. :)

And how I shot this...I originally was going to play around with my off camera flash but was too lazy. Instead I had them sit on a large piece of black foam core board ( you can buy at any craft store). They faced a window so the light was good. I stood on a stepstool and shot down as they looked up at me. Will was pretty compliant so I even got a few of him by himself. Grace too. Easy, I promise.

Monday, February 8, 2010

recipe Monday ~ something yummy

Though I like to cook, I LOVE to bake so I guess I consider myself more of a baker.Last year at this time I did a post about these yummy cookies that are some of our favorites. We made them this weekend so I thought I'd do a repeat of the recipe. I figure it's timely with the chocolate kisses, since Valentine's Day is arriving soon. There's just something that's so delish with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.


For more recipes and if you'd like to post one and link to her blog, see what Colleen at The Crazy Eight has for her Recipe Monday.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Snapshot ~ Will

Ni Hao Y'all

For Sunday snapshot, I wanted to talk about our youngest son William aka Will.
If you don't know Will already, he just turned 4 about a month ago.

Will LOVES the Leapster he got for Christmas and plays with it frequently. His current favorite games are Ni Hao Kai Lan and Nemo. Besides playing with his Leapster, he adores Buzz Lightyear and pretends he's Buzz quite a bit of the time. You can hear him frequently exclaim, 'To infinity and beyond!' His other favorite character is Woody from Toy Story. I believe that Toy Story 3 is coming out this Spring, and I can pretty much guarantee we'll be there.

Will is a silly guy and
is quite the joke teller...they're usually his own creations or knock knock jokes.
Will loves preschool and has many friends, he's the kind of child that you never forget when you meet him in person. Engaging, outgoing, personable and funny are words I'd use to describe him. He laughs easily and often.

Last weekend we had a China travel group get together in Illinois and Will swam in the pool and played with our friends. Will has a 'girl friend' named Emily who was also adopted from China. He tells me he's going to marry's pretty darn cute.

Will has a beautiful smile, contagious laugh and is a sweet little brother to his sister Grace. They play together well ( um...well, most of the time as siblings do).

Will has been with us now 18 months. He is growing up very fast (sigh...I can't believe how fast and that makes me a little bit sad). He's a wonderful little boy and we are extremely blessed that he's our son. We love this guy so much!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday's Finds ~ more etsy favs

Well if you read my Friday's Finds from last week, you would know I'm a huge fan of etsy.

So this week I thought I'd speak about 2 more of my favorite sellers. The above and below items pictured are from the snicklefritz & pj shop. This might sound a little odd but I LOVE paper. I have as long as I can remember, and I love to make things out of paper. The problem is that I don't always have the time right now. I make hand stamped cards when I can, but found this seller that makes adorable cards, gift tags, notebooks and other assorted items. Those little heart gift tags will go on Valentine teacher gifts next week. And the birthday cards pictured below are nice to have on hand when you need a card to send and don't want to run out to the store. Her items are reasonably priced.

Grace is showing the cute cards.
And the second etsy seller I'm featuring is bekah jennings.

Bekah makes beautiful banners out of chipboard, paints them and connects the letters with ribbon and also adds a few embellishments...

So far I've bought a Halloween, Rejoice and my newest, the Spring banner pictured above and below. I hung it on our mantel to show how it looks...

makes me feel a little like Spring is coming soon.

Check out both shops, I've bought from them several times and the items are made beautifully, look exactly as pictured and shipped quickly.

Hop on over to Colleen's blog, and see what she's posted for her finds.

And have a great weekend! {go Colts!}

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

black and white Wednesday

It's the 4th week of black and white Wednesday.

A few days ago I managed to capture these of my 4 year old son Will. If you don't know Will already he can sometimes be compliant and let me take his picture and sometimes not. I really can't blame him, it's much more fun when you're a little boy to play with your toys or pretend you're a super hero than have your momma follow you around with a camera.

I took advantage of the natural light and reflection off the snow
coming through the windows of our master bedroom to take these pictures.

These were processed in Lightroom first where I converted them to black and white, then brought into PS to sharpen his eyes a teeny bit. Will has very 'sparkly' dark eyes that definitely show his personality. I love these images because they have a classic, timeless look to me. I'm delighted to have some new pictures of my sweet little man!

Check out Lisa's blog with her black and white Wednesday post and more beautiful pictures through her link.

Monday, February 1, 2010

finally February

And what does one do with oneself living in this place called Wisconsin in Winter? I often refer to the state as 'the frozen tundra.' We cannot stay inside all the time, there is just so much game playing, trampoline jumping, reading, doing crafts and puzzles, baking and playing Wii that a child can do.

Recently after a perfectly beautiful snowfall, the kind where the snow sticks to every single twig and branch on the trees and sparkles, we went outside to look at the snow, walk on the train tracks, and take some pictures.

Writing this post it occurred to me that today is Feb. 1. We made it through January, and February is a short month but has Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year smack dab in the middle of the month. Some fun times to look forward to and prepare for.

Now if Mr. Ground hog (tomorrow )would just NOT see his shadow...we could be in for an early Spring! Well... we can dream can't we.
And Spring always does arrive.... (hoping for sooner than later!)
© Aging with Grace and strong Will
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