Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ladybug Birthday Fun - Part 1

As you well know, the Ladybug's 4th birthday was last Friday, March 19. I find it so hard to believe that she is already 4 years old, my how time flies by. She does have a fun party planned with her friends this coming weekend and I will definitely write about the party fun later. But, as a family we did go out to celebrate her birthday.

There is a wonderful (fairly) new restaurant in town called Coco Palace. They specialize in Thai, Japanese, and Chinese Cuisine. Although we have many Chinese restaurants in town, there are no other Thai restaurants, so we were excited to discover this restaurant. Last summer we finally made our way to the restaurant and were so happy we did. The food was magnificent! However, the menu is a bit pricey, so it is not a place that we want to frequent, just for the sake of our pocketbooks.

Immediately after visiting the Coco Palace, the Ladybug started asking if we could return. She absolutely loved it! I like to think that she just has expensive taste, but truth be told, the food really was that good. Each time we were out on the town, she would ask to go, which we would reply, "Not today honey, maybe some other time." After diverting her request for a few months, Daddy finally suggested that we go there for a special occasion... her birthday. That answer was exactly what she needed to hear and also gave us a special occasion that we could enjoy celebrating at the restaurant.

Since her birthday fell on a workday, Daddy and I had to work while she went to pre-school. Apparently, she was so excited about her special birthday dinner that she shared her excitement with her classmates and teachers ALL day. Needless to say, by the time I picked her up from school, she was ready to go home and get ready for her special evening.

The Ladybug chose to wear a beautiful purple Chinese dress, something we brought home for her from China back in 2006. The dress is gorgeous and looks sensational on her. She decided that she wanted her hair up for the evening, so I obliged... with lots of extra frills or course. She looked so grown up in her outfit, but just perfect for a special evening out.

We enjoyed an amazing meal at the restaurant. Every single bite we took brought oohs and aahs... we thoroughly enjoyed our time. The Ladybug LOVED being the center of attention for the evening. The Chinese waitress thought she was adorable and enjoyed how much she loved the food. As usual, she kept us laughing with her humor and silliness. It was an extremely fun evening and a great way to celebrate her birthday.

After our filling dinner, the Ladybug wanted some ice cream to finish off her special day. We decided to go to the best place in town for such sweet treats... Culver's. For those who have never been to a Culver's, it is not an ice cream place. Rather, it is a place that makes their own super yummy, thick and creamy custard. And, boy is it delicious! The Ladybug ordered her special kiddie sundae, and Daddy and I ordered our favorites as well. In the end, this stop was a great way to end a fabulous birthday celebration and evening out with the family.

As I look back on this day I feel so blessed. Blessed that this little girl is my daughter. Blessed that the Lord brought her to us. Blessed to have such a wonderful family. Blessed to have such an amazing life.

The Ladybug looking nice and fancy and the restaurant.

Getting birthday kisses from Daddy.

Mmmmmmmmmm, egg-drop soup!

Nibbling on a Chinese noodle.

The Ladybug's pretty, frilly hair.

Time for frozen custard!

Gotta love dessert, drips and all!

Yes... I feel blessed.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Flashback Friday

Happy Birthday Ladybug!!!

Four years ago a beautiful baby girl was born in Guizhou, China. That little girl was you, my little Ladybug. You soon went to live with an amazing foster mother who took care of you and loved you for 7 months. It was then that we finally got to meet you, and we all became a forever family. You were so tiny and delicate. Being able to hold you for the first time was a dream come true.

Over the past four years you have grown into an amazing little girl... spirited, silly, intelligent, funny, beautiful, honest, loving, musical, and so much more. You are a best friend to everyone, and find life a wonderful adventure. You are no longer a toddler. Instead, a full-fledged little (big) girl. Recently, you are most excited to be taking on a new adventure, that of big sister, and I cannot wait to watch you fulfill that role to a T. Life is absolutely wonderful with you little girl, and I cannot wait to see what life has in store for you.

Keep smiling Ladybug, keep hugging, laughing, dancing, singing, and bringing joy to everyone that you meet. Happy Birthday little girl, my little Ladybug. Enjoy!

First Birthday!

Second Birthday!

Third Birthday! (The Princess party)

The Ladybug's First Year video.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Black and White Wednesday

Another Wednesday is upon us, so it is time to share another Black & White photo. This week I decided to show you my start-to-finish process for one of my favorite photos of my little Ladybug.

This past summer, my daughter was playing outside. She had on an adorable gardening hat and gloves, while dancing around in a frilly princess dress. Quite a silly combination, but she looked adorable. As she was walking around our deck, I happened to stop her just at a time when she was trying to pick herself up on the railing. This quick pause in her otherwise busy afternoon of playing and dancing produced an amazing image that I knew I could create into an ethereal delight. I used Photoshop Elements to do all of my edits on this image.

Here is the original image,

From there I softened the face, cropped the image a little bit and boosted the contrast. I really wanted those soulful eyes to pop, so I brightened them as well. Below is what I came up with,

After this, I turned the image into black & white. I absolutely love how beautiful this image looks as a black and white. It translates so well because of its simplicity.

But, as is often the case with me, I just had to play with it a little bit more. So, I went back to the colored image and "posterized" it with Photoshop, then cropped it into a square image. I then turned each of those two photos into black & white. Below are those four photos,

When I look at these last few photos now, I honestly see a girl far beyond my daughter's three years of age. The softened colored images also give her an almost porcelain look. As beautiful as these images are to me, with the soulful eyes and delicate features, there is one thing missing in all of them... my daughter's amazing, joyous, infectious smile. And that, is what I will be sharing next week. Until then...


Friday, March 12, 2010

Flashback Friday

This week I chose to go back further than when we first brought the Ladybug home. All the way back to my honeymoon with my dear husband.

My husband and I met and dated for four years before we finally tied the knot. We were wed four years to the day from the date of our first-date, the same day that we celebrated as our anniversary up until that point (I was just trying to keep it easy for my husband-to-be at the time *wink*). We celebrated with various close friends and family and enjoyed a wonderful ceremony and reception. Unfortunately, we soon had to part ways.

At the time, I was finishing my last year of school in California while my husband was enjoying his first year of teaching college in Colorado. Since we were wed in the month of October, we ultimately ended up spending the first nine months of our marriage apart from each other. We knew this fact when we planned the wedding, and although it seemed a bit unorthodox to some, being apart actually worked out perfectly for us. My husband was able to focus completely on his teaching without having to deal with newlywed issues as well as me monopolizing his time. I was able to focus on my final papers and student-teaching, both of which kept me away from home quite a bit. For us, spending the first nine months of marriage apart was actually perfect and I don't regret it in the least... after all, we spoke on the phone every night and spent every holiday together, so it wasn't all that bad.

After my graduation and the end of his first year of teaching, my husband and I set out to finally enjoy a honeymoon. Our destination, Alaska. We chose a one week Royal Caribbean cruise through the inner passage of Alaska. We thoroughly enjoyed every single day of the cruise. Alaska was gorgeous, and the people were so friendly. Who knows, maybe some day we will make it back there. The photo I chose for today's theme is of the "newlyweds" on the balcony of our room, in front of the quaint town of Ketchikan. Wow, I just have so many memories from that trip, and our life together. It is amazing to see where our life is now... and I don't regret a single moment.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Black and White Wednesday

the long road

My little girl has the most gorgeous, beautiful, rosebud lips. And, with those lips she can make the most amazing "kissy lips" I have ever seen, and boy does she love to make kissy lips. She walks around the house, smooching her lips together, without even realizing that I am watching her, smiling. What makes it wonderful is that the Ladybug (Lovebug) also loves to give lots and lots of hugs, loves, and great big kisses and to her daddy and I all the time. She is a very loving, lovable little girl who walks around with a great big smile on her face almost every minute of the day. That fact just makes me love those lips even more. (Click the photo above to see more wonderful Black & White Wednesday photos!)

See? Now wouldn't you love those lips too?


Monday, March 8, 2010

"Bob ob-a see?"

Over the weekend, the Ladybug starting serenading her father and I after dinner. We had just finished a very messy meal of spaghetti, but we could not tell what she was singing. Do you have any guesses? What is the "Pick up a maid," and "Bob ob-a see?" BTW, you might hear me trying not to laugh in the background :o) Listen to the video below and see if you can figure it out.

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Any guesses? Well, after hearing the song a few times through I finally figured it out. Below is the final video of the Ladybug singing, My Life Would "Stink" Without You, as performed by the cast of Glee. I do not claim to own the rights to the song, this is just for the enjoyment of friends and family who would like to hear the Ladybug's version of the song.

Throughout the video you can see her silliness oozing, as well and the little drama queen just aching to get out. This is our happy, silly, funny, and goofy little girl... and this is what everyday is like at our house (as well as every car ride around town!). Enjoy!!!

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Flashback Friday

Oh, how I remember this day.

November 2006, the third day that the Ladybug was a part of our family. The Holt families (the families with our adoption agency) visited a Buddhist temple located at a peaceful lake. Fog had rolled in making the place feel even more serene. The Ladybug and I wandered around the temple and grounds together. I carried her around in a baby-sling, where she nuzzled up next to my chest, listening to my heartbeat as we wandered around. She was still very unsure about everything that had happened to her, not sure of who we were yet, but she did know that cuddling up close to me made her feel safe.

That was a time that I look back on so fondly. She was so tiny and fragile, scared and unsure. But, she found comfort in her mommy. I like to think that she loved her mommy... after all, I love(d) her more than she could ever know. I remember this time so well, it was the first time I was a mommy, this was my dream come true. My little Ladybug was my dream come true.

Yes, I remember this day.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Black and White Wednesday

Black and White Wednesday - Frost-cicles

This week marks the first time that I am going to try my hand at Black & White Wednesday!

the long road

A fellow blogger started this idea a few weeks ago on her blog (click the above photo to see her wonderful photos!). As she stated on her blog back in January,

"Black and White photos have always been a favorite of mine......and seem to be a popular choice with others too. Two years ago I started to hang black and whites on one of the walls in our home. My goal was to keep adding photos until the wall was completely filled. Well....let's just say that I can still see a whole lot of wall....LOL!

I take so many photos, but for some reason I don't process a lot in black and white.....and I would like to change that, so this is what I have come up with.......

"Black and White Wednesday"

Each Wednesday I am going to post a black and white picture. It doesn't matter what the picture is, it just has to be processed in black and white.

This will give me something creative to work on each week. It will help me refine my processing skills, because black and white conversions are not as easy as you think and last but not least.......IT IS GOING TO HELP ME FILL UP THAT WALL IN MY HOUSE:)

So what do you all think.......Anyone want to play along with me?

You can post a black and white portrait or a snap shot style photo, it can be a person, place, or thing.....whatever your heart desires, as long as it is black and white. You can tell a story with the picture, or just post the picture!!

It doesn't matter if you are a photographer or an ameteur, if you own a camera and have a blog or FB account, you can play along!!! And don't fret..... I will be posting every Wednesday, but you can come and go as you please. Play along as often as you would like. All you need to do is title your post "Black and White Wednesday"

So, I decided to join along. My first entry into this Wednesday endeavour is a few photos that I took recently of the "frost-cicles" outside on our tree in the back yard. Every branch on the tree had these gorgeous, yet ominous spikes, that were actually very fragile, delicate. Despite the freezing cold, harsh weather that we can get out here in the Dakotas, we do not often see nature in quite this way. I am so happy that I took the opportunity to capture the gorgeous crystals in photos. I hope you enjoy.

And... of course, one fun photo of the Ladybug playing in the snow!


Monday, March 1, 2010



For those who do not know, this is what we have been waiting for, and ours only took 40 days to get here. LOA stands for Letter of Approval, is a letter that China sends to the agency stating that they approve the family to adopt the specific child. The approximate time that it takes for families to receive LOA varies greatly, but is somewhat determined by how long the family's file has been "logged-in" in China. Our official Log-In-Date (LID) is September 27, 2009, so our dossier had been logged-in for almost 4 months when we received our referral for the Butterfly. Believe it or not, 40 days is a very short amount of time to wait. The average time is 55 days, and some people even wait over 100 days. We feel so blessed that we were able to receive our approval so quickly and smoothly. As you may remember in an earlier post, I expected our wait to be about 60 days, so this was a totaly surprise!

So, here is what happened today. After a rather hectic and frustrating day at work, I picked up the Ladybug from school and headed home. I was already aware that other people throughout the United States had received their LOAs because I had been watching the Rumor Queen board throughout the day (Rumor Queen is a place where families who are somewhere in the adoption process get together to talk, ask questions, answer questions, and offer all-around support). I had my cell phone with me all day and it didn't ring, so I wasn't expecting a message when we returned home. But, when we walked in the door, the message light was flashing.

The Ladybug and I proceeded to listen to someone from our agency whocalled to give us the great news. I was, and am still, in total shock. After calling the agency back to verify the news, The Ladybug and I started doing the "Happy Dance" around the room! She then ran to her room to start packing, again. Hmmmmm, sorry little girl but we are still not leaving yet. Hopefully in about three months.

We now will be sending in our I-800 to USCIS (Immigration), and wait for their approval. Hopefully things will continue to go smoothly for us. Keep your fingers crossed for us!