Friday, April 23, 2010

Fixit Friday #51


It's been months since I participated in this challenge. I just sort of dropped out of all things photography for awhile. But now I am back, and just as excited to learn new things as I ever was.

This week's challenge was fun. The shot was so good to begin with that I bet many would not even considering "fixing" it. Here is my attempt, which mostly focuses on brightening and sharpening the eyes, removing the snowflake off her forehead and cropping/rotating the image.

I did all of my edits in Photoshop CS4. To see everyone else's edit on this lovely photo, go to I Heart Faces.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Full Weekend

Things started happening around Thursday. That's when Chloe woke up and her tooth was hurting her again, but this time worse. Pain had been coming and going over the past week, but now it was continuous and strong. Nearly two years ago, Chloe banged into a little boy head first and badly hurt her front two teeth. At the time, the dentist was able to save her teeth. Now two years later, the roots were decaying and painful cysts were forming in the gum line.

I had to cancel an evaluation with the eye doctor in order to get Chloe in with the dentist. I thought they were going to remove only the painful tooth, but as it turned out, the other tooth was also damaged and another cyst was forming. He recommended to remove them and I asked if he could do it on the spot rather than having to make another appointment.

Chloe was a champ through the whole procedure. Sometimes she amazes me. Even I got a little squeamish when I saw the dentist twisting and pulling on her teeth. Amazingly, this procedure had very little impact on Chloe's smile. That's because her upper lip is larger than I realized. For most of Chloe's smiles, you cannot even see her front two teeth. For the picture, I had to ask her to give me a REALLY big smile to show that they were missing.

Also Thursday, several packages arrived in the mail. Three of them were a sewing cabinet that I had ordered. It came in lots of little pieces with dozens of different kinds of hardware. It was probably the most ambitious piece of furniture that I have ever ordered with the intent to assemble. And while I do have the greatest husband in the world, he is definitely NOT a handyman. This was a project that I would pretty much have to do all on my own, except when I needed more hands for holding.

On Saturday, I began construction on my new sewing cabinet. I am embarrassed to say, but it took me nearly the whole day to assemble it. It was missing a couple of pieces and some pieces came damaged, but I was able to complete it and I will be able to replace the damaged parts later when they arrive. It has been over a year since I last sewed anything, but now I have a workspace and I am ready to get back into the swing of things.

As a reward for all my hard work, dear Hubby took me and the kids out to Tahoe Joe's for a wonderful dinner. I was sure to save half for later.

Sunday morning, I awoke early (almost unheard of for this NON-morning person) and I went out to shoot some sunrise photos in the local vineyards. My boss had asked me if I had any vineyard pictures and I told him that I did not, but that I would get some. I hope he likes them.

Later Sunday, Dad took the girls to the movies to see "How to Train a Dragon", while I caught a quick nap and then proceeded to clean out the ENTIRE garage. Yes, I got to every box, pile, and stack. I sorted it all and I should have taken a picture. It looks so good! After I cleaned it out, I dusted and wiped down all of the storage containers. Sweet!! What a rewarding and productive weekend.

After a nice home-cooked meal Sunday evening, we all sat down as a family and watched Chloe's favorite movie, "The Sound of Music". She calls it "Maria". Gotta go. It's family time!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Party at the Rollerama

Today we celebrated Pearl's 7th birthday at the local Rollerama. Chloe had been asking for roller skates well before Christmas and she finally got a pair for her birthday in January. Not long after, Pearl decided that she would also like a pair of skates and the two have been honing their skills ever since in anticipation of this day.

Lots of friends and family joined us to skate and celebrate. The girls had lots of fun trying to show their friends how to skate.

Pearl's 1st grade teacher showed up to wish Pearl a Happy Birthday. To the right of Pearl is her close friend and classmate Alexys. Alexys was probably the best skater of the bunch.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Pearl Turns 7

Today we celebrate Pearl's seventh birthday. It is a day of joy and fun. Pearl is still young enough that she doesn't seem to fully contemplate her origins. While Chloe asks a lot of questions, Pearl remains silent. Even though I think Pearl doesn't dwell on her past much, I know she must have questions too. But, I think she is afraid to ask.

I only bring this up now because to some extent, I am sad about today. Not sad that Pearl was born, but sad that we don't really know her actual date of birth. When she was left near the entrance to the orphanage in Chengdu, she was not a newborn. There was no note or identifying bit of information that she could take with her as she matures. Her age was estimated at three weeks, yet I suspect the orphanage staff picked the 8th as a birthday for her because eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture.

I often wonder why it took her birthmother (or other relative, perhaps a grandparent) as long as three weeks to leave her behind. Did they have to travel a long distance from the country to the big city where the orphanage was? Did they think something was wrong with her after awhile and decide that they couldn't care for her? The orphanage staff believed there was something wrong with her and that's how she ended up on a Special Needs adoption list. Today she is perfectly healthy. Did the birth family agonize over their decision and try to keep her? So many questions go through my head. I wonder what Pearl will think.

I may have mentioned to Pearl in the past that we don't know her exact birth date, but I didn't want to remind her today. For now, it is all still about goodness and celebration, and that's the way I want her to feel.

So today before school, I decided to take a couple of pictures of Pearl. Later I asked Chloe to join in and I took a picture of the happy sisters together. Pearl's party will be Saturday and she has chosen to have it at the local Rollerama. This should be fun!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Delayed Easter Post

My blogging just isn't up to speed these days, so this post is a few days late. This past weekend we traveled to Pahrump, Nevada to visit with my parents. The drive is about 6 hours, but thanks to built-in DVD players, the girls were the best of travelers. They were really excited to see their grandparents and especially to receive Easter baskets loaded with goodies from them.

My sister came up for a visit as well, so it was nice to have a family gathering of sorts. She brought with her wristlet corsages that her daughter, Cousin Lisa, had made for the girls. They were beautiful and the girls really felt special.

Dad made a quick trip to the local big box store and picked up some confetti eggs for the girls to hunt. He hid them around the trailer and yard and the girls had a great time finding them. As usual, Pearl raced to find the eggs, while Chloe would take her time and examine each one as she carefully placed it in her basket. Fortunately, Pearl is such a sweet big sister that she shared all her extra eggs with Chloe, until they had exactly the same amount. I love that Pearl is quick and smart, but I also love that Chloe is careful and deliberate. They really do compliment each other. I think this was one of my favorite Easters ever.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Five Year Milestone

Five years ago today, I became a mother for the first time. It wasn't in the traditional sense. I didn't go through labor pains or spend any time in a hospital. Nevertheless, it was a long and arduous process that resulted in a sweet 14 month old Chinese baby girl being placed in my arms, forever.

Those early months were very challenging for Pete and I as parents. We kept trying to train her like a dog. I just thought if you said "No" several times, she would eventually get it. Not Chloe. She was a very stubborn baby and she liked to grab everything and put it in her mouth. Now, 5 years later, she still likes to grab stuff and she still puts some of it in her mouth. I gave up on "No" a long time ago.

As a baby, Chloe didn't seem to care for being cuddled or kissed. She wanted to be held all the time, but only if you were standing up and walking. Anything else was total frustration for her. It made going places a challenging experience, and forget about going to a restaurant!

Now she is the cuddliest little sweetie-pie that ever was. She can snuggle in your arms until she falls asleep. She is sensitive, thoughtful, caring, supportive and a problem-solver. I am so lucky to be called her mother. Sometimes she is so mature, I think that she acts like the mother and I act like the child. She even reminds me to call my mother or give my husband a hug and kiss. I could go on forever, but that's why I have this blog. I can spread it out in little bits for as long as I desire.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Spring Trip to Gilroy Gardens and Carmel

We really enjoy going to Gilroy Gardens. I think this is one of the best kept amusement secrets in California. If we account for traffic, we can drive to Gilroy Gardens in the same amount of time as Disneyland. And while I am not comparing this park to Disneyland, I must add that there are LOTS of fun rides with little or no lines and it is always a relaxing, fun, enjoyable time for our family. I think this visit was the best yet. And with our season passes, all we had to pay for was our meal (and gas and a hotel(optional)). On this visit, we had the pleasure to meet up with good friends Maddy and Gwenny from Double Happiness. In case you may have missed previous posts, Chloe and Maddy are from the same orphanage in China and were probably there at the same time. By my calculations, it's a 3-4 month overlap. They are about 6 months apart and both are exactly 42" tall (which is a critical height for some of the rides). Chloe is a bit heavier with her stocky build, but I do see some similarities in these Southern Chinese girls.

Later in the day, we met up with some other friends of ours and it really was nice for us parents to visit and share stories. Someday, Donna and I are going to get together and share all our photo-editing secrets with each other.

After a couple of nights in world-famous Gilroy (LOL), we headed for our favorite place, Carmel (and Monterey). We ate at some of our favorite restaurants, hopped from beach to beach and hung out at the toy store and the hotel. We don't really do much, but it feels like a second home to us and we really enjoy every moment.

While the girls were at the beach, someone started feeding the seagulls (are they insane?), so that is why there are so many birds in some of these pictures. At least none of them left any presents behind as they flew over our heads! We came home Wednesday morning to spend one relaxing vacation day at home before heading in the opposite direction, to visit the grandparents in Nevada for Easter. Keep in touch for future posts about the grandparents' visit and another trip in search of wildflowers.