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14 posts from February 2009

February 28, 2009

Disney's Magic Kingdom (Bloggerfest 2009!)

Saturday group shot kids 
We got up early Saturday morning and headed straight to the Magic Kingdom to meet our friends.  Man, I gotta tell you that this was a VERY special day for me.  We were finally going to meet some Blogger friends that go back YEARS!  Including my dear friend, Donna, who I've known since October 2004 when we were both members of a non adoption forum and were paper chasing for our first adoption from China.  All these years later, we have Gwen and Catherine!  More pics of them later....

So, here's the Kiddo Group Shot.  Not an easy feat with so many little faces looking everywhere except the camera!  I had to do some Photoshop magic to get everyone's best side.  And I added Catherine who was there only in spirit when this group photo was taken.  Her Momma was bummed out that she missed being part of the group shot so I hope she's feeling better now!   

There was also Gabi (who we met in 2005 when we adopted Gwen) and the cuties in black dresses and red and white bows are the darling "Moose" and "Goose".    The last two in the pic above are Katie Starr and her brother Ethan (who was not quite himself today).  It was a highlight of this trip that I got to meet their momma, Lori.  She's even more wonderful in real life and, again, I'm wishing California wasn't so far away!  Not pictured were Esther and Emma of "Two Twin Terrors" (more on Esther later) and Gwynn of "Jamail Family Blog" who was wearing the cutest little home-made Disney shirt I've ever seen! 

Saturday shenzhen girls 

Gwen is from Shenzhen and they don't seem to have many International Adoptions from this SWI so the few families we know who have adopted from Shenzhen are that much more special to us.
Gabi's family traveled with our group of 38 in September 2005. She was three years old and she really opened our eyes to the possibilities of SN adoption.  Before that, we didn't really understand that it existed.   Right then and there, we decided that our 2nd daughter would be one of the perfect children from the SN list because we knew that ALL kids have SN's and it was no big deal to us that they were identified beforehand.
When I finally saw Gabi again today, my heart was overwhelmed.  Here was this lovely child with the only parents she'll ever remember and she just shined!  A beautiful, BEAUTIFUL, 6 year old!  Her mom and I spent some wonderful time together later this evening and it really did my heart good to get so much confirmation from another parents I know and trust and respect.   I just wish we all lived closed.
Same with Esther
Gwen and esther disney and china blog 
We met Esther in September 2005 when we were in China adopting Gwen and visiting her SWI.  Shortly before traveling, I found Esther's mom, Nancy, online and promised that I would look for her baby girl at the orphanage.  A few months after we met Esther, her dad and big sister traveled to China to bring her home.  Today she's one of 7 children in this amazing family.  We are so happy that we got to finally meet them but I'm a bit sad that I couldn't meet Sera (big sister) because I've really come to know and love her all these years.  I hope we'll someday meet though!

Saturday lollipop girls 
Here are the girls all lined up in anticipation of a lollipop!  There were five lollies and just one of them was the coveted red one so everyone was giddy with anticipation that she'd be the lucky one to get it.  The fourth lolly was red (and it went to Gabi) and Gwen was equally excited for her friend and mournful of her loss and we caught it all on camera.  I just love the last photo (above, bottom left).  Just look at her face!  The bottom half is smiling but the top half is about to cry!  (precious!!)

 Saturday teacups 
Next, we rode all of the roller coasters that were newly made available to us becuase of Maddy's recent vertical accomplishment.  She's finally exactly 40 inches tall and we're letting the good times roll!  But the old times are also pretty dang good so here she is with her sister and our friend Donna (with Catherine) on the Teacups.  We're really glad that Donna volunteered to get dizzy so we could stand on the sidelines and pretend to sacrafice all the fun by taking pictures!

Mk 3-000001 
At 8:30 PM, several of us met in the lounge of the Animal Kingdom Lodge (sans husbands and kids) to share some quality girl time.  In addition to the moms we met today, Beth and her mom (Carol) also met us.  Also, Martha was there (with Hannah who joined us at the end of the evening).    This was the first "Mom's Night Out" I've been on since long before 2005 when we adopted Gwen.  My heart is  full!  Thanks so much to all my wonderful friends who took the time to join us in Florida!

February 27, 2009

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Animal kingdom entrance

We flew to Florida Thursday night for the big Disney Bloggerfest 2009 event.  The flights were uneventful (the best kind of flight, in my opinion) even though they totally ignored the seat requests we painstakingly arranged many months in advance.  Instead of our requested 3/1 split (all in one row), they split us into two groups of two.   In the past, this would have been catastrophic since both of my little darlings are "mommy girls" but this time it worked out for the best because Gwen and Maddy fight like rival gangsters when they're trapped in airline seats.  But the airline didn't know that so shame on them for rearranging us.
We arrived at Animal Kingdom Lodge well after bedtime (nearly midnight!) and the girls were enthusiastic about trying out their bunk beds.  The next morning, we grabbed a fantastic buffet breakfast at the hotel and headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom park.  
We loved this park!  There were so many fun things to see and do and the girls especially loved the dinosaurs and the jungle cruise.   We got a great photo of Gwen with her head inside the skull of a hippopotamus!   And the Alligators were almost too awesome to be real!   What magnificent creatures!  But the favorite animal, by far, was the giraffe.  The girls have looked forward to this trip for months simply because they believed that they'd see giraffes from the hotel room balcony.  Sadly, that didn't happen but they didn't seem to mind because they got to see them at the park and it was always dark when we returned to the hotel.

Animal kingdom alligators and giraffes

Animal kingdom baobab tree and triceratops

Animal kingdom dino and moms red car

February 24, 2009

I ♥ faces - black & white (updated)

I'm updating this photo because I think I've learned a few more things about what makes a "good" black and white photograph. It's not enough to just convert our images to greyscale. Our faces shouldn't look gray. They should look alive and beautiful! Hopefully Gwenny looks more alive in this pretty photo! Gwen bw-blog

Here's a photo of my pretty Gwenny that I'm entering in the I ♥ faces contest this week.  Like the folks at We Picture {this}, the current theme is black & white.  Lots of entries!  Check them out here.

I love this photo.  We were playing in the backyard in the dark and Gwen was wearing a black shirt and the contrast between her flawless skin and the dark night was spectacular!  Other than converting it to greyscale, this photo is straight out of the camera.  You can see every lovely detail of her face.... even little beads of sweat on her upper lip and every tiny perfect eyebrow hair.    Anyone notice anything odd about her teeth?  I usually don't notice it but I think it's exceptionally obvious in this photo.

Photo Stats:
Camera: Canon 5D
Exposure: 1/60 sec.
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 40 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Manual Mode with flash

February 20, 2009

Gotcha Magic in Black and White

The newest theme of my bestest, most favorite, photography blog (We Picture {this}) is "Black and White" this month. 

When I saw the theme, I had the highest hopes of shooting some fresh new photos and my thoughts went immediately to my friend Shana's photograph of her neice.  I'd been wanting to try to duplicate this amazing photo from the very first moment I saw it and now was my big chance!  
 Gwen sqinting 
Well, we set up the camera and got all ready for the big fancy photo shoot but the grass was wet and the lens was too short and the sun was in Gwen's eyes. The result was hardly what I hoped for but at least it really made us laugh!   Overall, not quite what I had in mind!  So we scrapped that idea and I spent the next hour or two thinking about the qualities of a good Black and White photograph.

Black and White photos have to tell an important story without the benefit of color.  The content has to stand alone and the other patterns and textures have to work in harmony with the main theme of the photo.  Otherwise, nothing stands out and the photo falls flat.  Then I realized exactly what I wanted to feature this month! 

Here are the Gotcha Day photos of Gwen and Maddy. 

Black and white gotcha day-000001   
(Click image for a larger view)

  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Mode: Auto

I'm not going to go into much extra technical detail of the photographs (email me if you want it) because I don't really think it's important since I shot (as usual) in "auto" mode. 

The first photo is Daddy and Gwen.  It was taken just two or three hours after "Gotcha" when we were back at the hotel and Gwenny was finally awake from her nap.  She was inconsolable when we first met her and the Orphanage Director assured us (via a translator) that she was a very happy little girl.  We smiled and nodded politely but weren't sure we really believed it because Gwen cried miserably for the first two hours in our arms before falling into a coma-like sleep on the bus back to the hotel.  But when she woke up in our hotel room, she had the most beautiful smile and this little darling has been smiling like this for the last 3.5 years!

The second photo is Madeline's Gotcha photo.  They carried her into the room and put her in Daddy's arms and this photo captured that exact moment!    She didn't cry but we can look back at this photo and see that she was completely overwhelmed!  Maddy is NOT comfortable in new situations but she's always dignified and she did her best to live up to this on Gotcha Day.  Such a little trooper, my little MaddyMoonCake!  

Has anyone noticed that Daddy is wearing the same shirt for both Gotcha Days?  We didn't plan it this way but it worked out this way.   Just a fluke.  But it makes these two photos work nicely together, huh! 

I just love these photos!  To me, they're every bit as significant as Delivery Room photos but without the horror of looking at my IV bloated face and stretch marks.    Two very amazing days that look as rich and colorful in black and white as they did in full living color on the day we lived them! 


Shhhh... don't tell the girls but look where we're going (updated again)!

Disneyworld invite-blog 

This is the year Gwen and Maddy start Kindergarten so it's our last chance (for 13 years) to plan a mini vacation without having to work around school schedules.  We love Disneyland and thought Florida in late February would be the perfect time to visit the Magic Kingdom.  We'll be there from 2/27 to 3/2.    

So far, four ten twelve fourteen other families from the China Adoption Community are meeting us there and I wanted to make sure to let our other Florida (or East Coast) friends know we're coming so they could join us too.  Leave a comment or email me if you'd like to join all of us! 

The girls don't know we're going to Disney World but they do know that we're staying in a fun hotel with bunk beds and wild animals wandering around outside our windows!   They are soooo excited about the prospect of standing on the balcony and being nose to nose with a giraffe!      Just wait until they find out they're going to have dinner with Tigger and Pooh too! 

Ahhhh... and  people wonder why they call this the happiest place on earth? 

Here's a list of blogs for the families who are attending.  Not everyone has a blog though and some have more than one!  It's not too late to join us.  Send me an email (or leave a comment) and I'll write back and let you know when and where we're meeting.


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