Category Archives: Get to know me

A Journey of a Thousand Miles – Adoption Across America Photography Project

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”~Confucius

Our adoption journey began on January 1, 2015.  Our hearts were open to a little girl with special needs, as identified on our MCC (Medical Conditions Checklist) with our agency, CCAI.  With guidance from above and the support of family and friends, we tackled through all of the necessary paperwork to start up the adoption process with China.  We knew that it was just a matter of time before we would be matched and see our daughter’s face for the first and forever time.
On September 22nd, I came home from work and saw a new little girl in a pink gingham dress posted on our agency’s home page. Dane and I watched her video and sent an email to our agency contact requesting to be put on this little girl’s waiting list to possibly review her file. We had requested four other little girl files prior, but families accepted the files before us on the list. We just kept telling ourselves that it is “all in God’s timing.” Friday, October 9th, we kicked off my birthday weekend by heading out for a two-night camping trip. We arrived at the camp site around 4:30, started to unload the truck, and began setting up our tent. Once our tent was up and ready, we proceeded to put up our netted kitchen tent. All of a sudden, it started to drizzle and then just poured down rain! So, we quickly finished getting the kitchen tent secured and went into our regular tent. We sat there for about 10 minutes, and the rain finally stopped. By now, it was closer to 6:00. Dane brought our kitchen table, chairs, pop-up kitchen, and other food necessities into the kitchen tent for me to set up. Just as I finished putting the table cloth on our table, I heard Dane say, “Tava, come here.” I looked at him and noticed that he was standing by the side of his truck looking at his phone. I then started putting the weighted hooks on the tablecloth, when again, he said, “Tava, Come Here!” I saw him look away from his phone and then back down at it. Right away, my heart sank, thinking something was wrong. Something had happened and we were going to have to pack up and head home right away. I ran over to the truck and asking him “What is it? “Is everything ok?” He began reading an email to me: Dear Dane and Tava, I left you a message on the phone as we are able to share the file of little _____ with your family today. Her name is _________________ and she was born on 7.21.2014. We looked at our phones for missed calls. Dane didn’t have any, but I did! I had two missed calls from our agency rep, one at 5:55 and again at 5:56! As you can imagine, our eyes welled up with tears which began to fall as Dane continued to read. She was born the day after our wedding anniversary (7-20)! She was 14 months old, and would be closer to two years of age by the time we would get her. We opened several attachments with pictures, medical information, and a video, etc. Oh my sweetness! Then and there we realized that she was just the perfect fit for our family! However, we needed to consult medical professionals to be sure that we could meet her needs. It was 7:00 by the time we came to the realization that this was happening, and we were losing daylight. We debated about whether or not we should head back home. After much discussion, we realized that with it being the weekend, there wasn’t anything we could do until Monday. So, we finished setting up our campsite and stayed. We went to the little gift shop on Saturday, and they had this little Panda on a key ring. The Panda’s name ironically rhymes with our little girl’s Chinese given name. So, we bought it as a souvenir to remember receiving the best email and news ever!
We returned home on Sunday, and told our families about how we were in the process of reviewing a little girl’s file. We didn’t give them much detail, as we wanted to check with doctors first on medical conditions listed for this little girl. So, during the week of October 12th, we were busy sending her file to medical experts: a nurse friend, a neighbor pediatrician, and the doctors at the International Adoption Center at Children’s. We just had a week to give our final decision-if we accepted, she was ours; if not, she would be passed onto the next family on her list. First and foremost, we agreed that we needed to make sure that we could meet this little girl’s needs. Thursday at 4:00 we had a conference call with the head doctor at Children’s. She told us that the doctor who invented the one procedure that this little girl would need was at our Children’s Hospital!!! We could not be in a better area for helping this little girl!!! That pretty much made our final decision-she was just meant to be our daughter! Thursday night, we went and told our families our decision! Friday morning, Dane and I called our agency and left a message for our agency rep, telling her that this little girl is our daughter!!!
Our sweet little Eowynn Meiping (A-O-WIN MAY-PING) has been with us now since January 4th of this year.  Our entire adoption process was a year-long process from start to finish.  Eowynn will undergo two surgeries this fall to take care of her medical needs. She is definitely the missing piece to our family!  We love her to the moon and back! 

Adoption Across America Project

It is with great excitement I announce our final dates for an amazing photography project we are calling “Adoption Across America”. For the next couple months we are traveling across the nation to share stories of adoptive families for the purpose of encouraging others to consider adoption for themselves. If you’ve been following our personal story you already know that 8 months ago my husband, oldest son and I traveled to China to bring our little boy home. The last year or so has been the most difficult but most amazing time for our family. Just about a month ago we submitted our application to go back and bring another child home. As we wait for the day we are to be united with our child I wanted to take the time to encourage and share the amazing stories of adoption across the country. We will be driving from Pennsvylvania all the way to Southern California along the route listed below. If you’re near one of the cities (or in between) and would like to be included in the project please contact us at studio@aforgetmenotmoment.com

 

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Our Adoption Story

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Friends, what is your calling in life?

3 years ago I joined a mentoring group which was made up of 6 women of all walks of life, one of them was our “mentor”. I was the youngest in the group, the only one of two with children still at home. We met once a month for about 2 hours to pray, and talk about some different books we were reading. These books were practical bible based books all of which were extremely educational and practical for the Christian life. I was unsure about joining a group for a lot of reasons. I had a lot of reasons why I couldn’t join this group. I had to find childcare, it required a commitment of reading/studying and I didn’t know if I’d have the time to do it, the women were all much older then me.. would I feel comfortable.. the list goes on. We always come up with excuses when something is out of our comfort zone right?

Well during the year I was in this group God was really working in my heart. There wasn’t a specific moment, or a specific thing that I read in a book, or even anything special anyone said to me, but because I was regularly reading, studying, engaged with believers I was growing and the Lord was opening my heart to things I never really had considered before. That year I asked the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His.

That simple prayer started this amazing journey of adoption and it isn’t until the moment that I held my baby boy in my arms that I realized when I asked God to break my heart what He would really do was grow my heart and teach me what it truly means to love. He transformed my heart to love more passionately, more completely, and more amazingly then I ever thought possible.

It isn’t that I didn’t love my own husband or my own kids before this. Ofcourse I did, I loved each of them tremendously. But what adoption did, is it showed me how God loves me. When I knew Him not, He called to me, He desired me, He reached out to me, He rescued me, and He adopted me and made me His child. When I could offer nothing in return, He still loved me and sought me. There is nothing more amazing and awesome in the world then that kind of love.

God gave me a glimpse of that when I said yes to His calling of adoption. I started to fall in love with someone I didn’t know, had never seen, and didn’t know when I would get to meet. I had a burning desire for this person that couldn’t be explained with words. And it wasn’t just that I loved who would later be my son, it’s that as that love was forming I was also falling more deeply in love with the Lord. I began to understand more so the deep love He had for me. And it was through the giving up of myself that I truly am beginning to understand the true meaning of love. The deeper in love with God I became, the easier it was to give up on the things that held me back from adoption. Believe me, there was a big list of them too.

I’m so busy already; I just couldn’t bring another child into this family – My time.

Adoption is too expensive. We could never afford it. – My money.

How would I take care of a special needs child? I’m not equipped, I don’t have experience. – My fears.

How am I going to put all these kids through college? How will we enjoy our lifestyle of travel and leisure? How would another child fit into my plans for the future? – My path for My life.

I don’t have the energy to give to another child. What about my own children and what they want? – My kids and My ideas for what they need in life.

Every argument for not adopting was centered around ME. The Lord quietly, in His time, opened my eyes to see what was really standing in the way was me and my list of “Mys”.

What then? For me, it was the journey of adoption. It was clear to me that was what He was calling us as a family to do. I brought this desire to my husband and with much prayer and a lot of waiting for the perfect time here we are today. More blessed then I could have ever thought possible. I have a curious, inquisitive, sensitive, amazing little boy who will forever call me mom.   My husband and I went on a journey of faith together which brought us closer then we have ever been. My children have a real tangible understanding of selfless sacrifice, unconditional love, and our calling to be the light of the world. More doors have been opened with friends and family to share Jesus then ever have to us before. We can now share what it means to be adopted into the family of God in a more powerful way because we’ve experienced the love and meaning of adoption.

So I go back to my original question. What is your calling in life? I don’t know if it’s to adopt. But don’t just right it off as something God may want you to consider. Do not let your list of “My’s” get in your way of the blessings that God has in store for you.

Maybe God is calling you into a relationship with Him. “For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16. “ Romans 10:9 says “If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If you haven’t made Jesus the Lord of your life, please consider doing that now.

Lastly, I want to share with you our story of adoption in images because you all know that is how I communicate best. I hope you are not only blessed by our story, but moved to take action for the cause of the orphan, or whatever cause God has laid upon your heart. With all of our love….

 

Philadelphia Zoo – Travel Hacking with kids

There is ALOT to do in Philadelphia. We’ve been there 4 times now and every time I go I wish we could stay longer. Its a beautiful city full of incredible history. But aside from all of the historical landmarks in the town, there is still So much to do. You’ve got the Ben Franklin Center, the Please Touch Museum, the parks, the gardens, the shopping, the list goes on. The only way I think you can really enjoy all what Philly has to offer is to move up here for a year or two and do something at least once a month. This past weekend we went to the Philadelphia Zoo. Now to be honest, I was not all that excited about going to another zoo. We’ve been to the “big” name zoos in both San Diego and North Carolina not to mention countless other smaller zoos around the country. We’ve seen pretty much every animal there is to see in a zoo and although the reviews on Trip Advisor were pretty great, I was ready to be unimpressed. I was certainly mistaken though and here are the reasons why the Philly zoo is now officially my favorite!

1. It’s the first zoo in the United States. That fact alone makes it pretty cool.
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2. The rare animal hall is amazing and has some of the most unusual animals I had ever seen.

 

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3. The great mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits. This comes in handy especially on a super sunny or hot/humid day. Just when you’re about to die from the heat you can escape to an indoor area (most.. but not all are air conditioned)

4. The awesome 360 exhibits. The animals aren’t confined to one little area of the zoo here in Philadelphia. Many of the cages have tunnels which spread all around the property so you can see monkeys swinging above you as your walking through or cougars running up and down the path as you’re eating your lunch. Also, most of the main exhibits are really close to the walkways so you really feel very near the animals. I suppose this also means that the animals don’t have as large of a space to roam as other zoos.. but for the spectator, this makes for a more personal experience.

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I didn’t bring a zoom lens with me to the zoo, and I was still able to get many “close” shots of the animals.

5. The Philadelphia zoo is part of the Zoo reciprocal membership. I can’t stress this point enough if you are an avid traveler. Buy yourself a family membership at your local (or semi-local) museum and use it for the year to get into other places all over the country. You can check out the entire list here: https://www.aza.org/

I’d recommend joining a place that also has a membership in the Association of Science and Technology Centers. That way you will get discounts and/or free tickets to both zoos and science museums around the country.  Here is the link for those:

 

Fairy Minis in July

Pin it to win it! Win a fairy mini photo session (located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania) sometime during the month of July! Your little girl (or boy) will love to dress up, make wishes, and have a grand time dreaming of living in Neverland as a fairy. Ages 3-12, mommas can participate as well!  Good luck and may all your dreams come true!Childrens photographer

Acadia National Park – Maine

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Pin it to win it!

We have a ton of really awesome locations planned for sessions this year and we cannot wait to come and photograph in some new beautiful American cities. On the list for 2015, Greensboro, Winston Salem, and the Triad ofcourse + LOTS more. Do you know anyone in Boston, Philadelphia, Northern New Jersey, Atlantic City, New York City, San Diego? If so, you’ll want to share this with them!! We’ll be giving away one mini session in each location just for pinning and sharing our blog images! That’s right, you have to do nothing but pin one of our on location images seen below and you’ll be entered to win! Contact us directly for more information about these very special comic book sessions today.

Super Hero Comic Book Character Sessions

2015 Session Locations Announced

It’s January. It’s cold. No I mean it’s really cold! Now compared to last year, this winter has been a breeze, but I like to think I’m still in North Carolina or something. I don’t know.. 18 inches of snow? I don’t think I can get used to that. Crazy as it is, I know next year (especially if we end up in Hawaii or Florida) I’ll be missing the snow right about now. Isn’t that funny. You always want what you don’t have right? I’m trying to enjoy the time in the house, cooped up with the kids, too lazy to get them bundled up just to get bundled out.. just to clean up the mess when we get back home 😉 So, we stay home.. doing our homeschooling, enjoying each other’s company (most of the time). It’s a rather slow.. or should I say dead time for portraits around here because noone wants to be out when its -5 degrees. NOONE. The good thing is, its giving me a change to get caught up on some things that need done.. like blogging.. and scheduling. I’ve sat down in front of the calendar and figured out when we’ll be available and where.. so here it is. Now let the family portraits for 2015 begin! A little sunshine would be nice too! 😉

 

 

On location photographer - San Diego, Portland, Greensboro

 

 

 

Sugarbush Maple Farm – Vermont – New England in the fall

Right off of interstate 89 and Hwy 4 tucked in the hills of Vermont is a beautiful Maple Tree farm. We took a couple hours this fall to take in the scenery, stock up on some true Vermont maple syrup, pet the animals, and learn about what goes on at a real Maple Sugaring Farm. There are a few main areas to this place. First, the maple tree trail, which in the peak of fall is absoulutely stunning. This is where the majority of these photos were taken. Second, there are a few animals which ofcourse the kids will enjoy. Thirdly, the little country store where you can purchase smoked cheeses, pure maple syrup, and other delectable treats. We took home a huge container of syrup (who goes to Vermont and doesn’t”), a great selection of smoked cheese, and some of their really yummy sauces and dip mixes. Who knew a trip to the farm could get so pricey? Lastly, and most interesting in my opinion is the building where you get educated about the process of how they actually harvest and make the maple syrup they sell. This places is a lovely stop to any VT vacation, especially in the fall! You can check them out here: http://www.sugarbushfarm.com/

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Natural Bridge State Park, MA. – Travel Hacking – Family Photos

There is a little gem tucked away on what seems like a desserted road on the way to Vermont from Pennsylvania. It’s the Natural Bridge State Park in MA. It took us a bit of time to find it as the GPS took us to a back entrance instead of the front. Its nothing showing, nothing grand, but definitely worth stopping at if you’re on a long road trip and looking for a place to go exploring for a couple hours. There is a nice little visitor center area, a few different trails to walk along. These pictures were shot down the hill (near the parking area) NOT along the regular path. We like to do that.. go places where few dare to explore. The kids were excited to find the creek, and mom was excited just to see something so beautiful for me to take photos of.

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