Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Since 2002, Jim and I have visited Disney a total of four times! We were not financially able to do it when our children were young but now our trips include both children and grandchildren for an even sweeter experience. Usually, my children are the tour guides and I just wander along after them; happy to relinquish the decision-making responsibility.

However, this time I decided to be informed and to “tech my trip” (a term coined by one of my IT friends). I started my research as soon as my daughter made our flight reservations on January 3rd. Through the advice of other Disney addicts at my work place, I started a paid subscription to the Touring Plans site. Touring Plans lays out a step-by-step day at each theme park so that you maximize your time and don’t get shut out of any of the rides or attractions. The plan is based on the age of people in your group and you can even customize it based on the day you have planned for each park. The Touring Plans website includes a printable calendar for each month with a key for crowd size, average temperature and recommended park based on a number of factors.

The first week we chose for our Disney trip was going to be either the week before or after Easter. After consulting the crowd calendar and learning it was rated a 10 out of 10, we switched weeks to April 30 to May 7th. A friend had visited Disney during Christmas week when the crowd level was a 10 and had waits of more than an hour and could not even ride one of the top attractions at Disney; Soarin’. In comparison, we were able to ride Soarin’ twice in one day just by following the touring plan’s advice and going there immediately upon arrival. We practically walked right on and them got our FASTPASS to return later. It’s difficult to walk right by character’s waiting for hugs but it must be done! You WIll see them on your way out. You quickly learn that most of the top attractions are located far away from the entrance!

The other key piece of technology information for us was acquired from the iPhone app of the Touring Plans website called LINES. Many people don’t realize that wireless internet access just isn’t readily available at Disney resorts or parks. My son-in-law was sure that his shiny new, iPad2 would be instrumental in helping us “do Disney but instead we depended on the LINES app on my phone to tell us the waiting times for each ride, the park hours, show times and more.

The best way to beat the post-Disney depression is to begin planning your next trip. The first step in that process should be to consult the crowd calendar from the Touring Plans website. Once you have decided on the week, you will be able to make your advanced reservations at Disney resort restaurants like Chef Mickey at the Contemporary. These reservations open up six-months prior to your arrival and fill up quickly!

Character Breakfast at Chef Mickey's

By using the Touring Plans blog and iPhone app, I learned about attractions that I never even knew existed after visiting Disney previously on three different occasions. So, right now – my app tells me if you’re at Hollywood Studios the return time for a FASTPASS to the Tower of Terror is 5:25 and they are all gone for Toy Story Mania! You should have gone there first!

Last weekend we traveled to Ohio to see Nic in his first, real stage production. Gosh, we were so excited when we heard he had a good audition and the parts had been assigned. We have been encouraging him to try out for a play and he was finally ready, I guess. He played the role of Jaq, the mouse, and had lots of lines to learn and even did some dancing with Cinderella. Flash photography was banned and I wasn’t close to the stage so, the photos had to be taken with my fastest lens which is my 50mm but didn’t bring the stage to me like a telephoto would have done. One thing that annoys me is that so many people don’t follow the photography rules and use flash any way during these events.

Any way, we had a great time at the play and the rest of the weekend. Jason also had a musical success when his men’s group received a Number ONE rating for their performance. They sang “Go Down Moses” and watching him totally took me back to my flute performing days – wow, I would get soooo nervous.
Jaq

Dancing with Cinderella

Nic is Jaq

Dancing in Cinderella

Nic is Jaq

Mark’s sister and niece went to the play with us so I had fun walking with Camilla and Lucy before the play, too.

Camilla

I’m so pleased to see that finally WordPress put the photos where I insert them – glad I upgraded everything today.

I just experienced the most relaxing hour of my whole week and surprisingly, it was spent back at Highland. This time I was there for the 1st Annual King Day Celebration to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Freeport & Stephenson County. The event featured best selling author Kimberla Lawson Roby who echoed Dr King’s sentiments about following your passion. I was happy to donate my photography services again to add some multimedia to the event from last Saturday’s community basketball games. That was quite relaxing, too, as I am always so relieved from my daily stress when I get to immerse myself in the joy of photographing young people. These kids are from the various elementary schools in Freeport, first and fourth graders, were there to play basketball. Tomorrow they will start working on their soccer skills. They all seemed so joyful to be participating and were really focused on their coach, Ronnie Bush, and the drills they were doing. Please help support the club by a monetary donation or by volunteering on the community campus. Here are a few of the photos.

blog-4

blog-2

blog-1

blog-3

Came back from vacation to a very busy week getting ready for Highland to start but I sure want to share a bit about our family vacation to Florida. We were all sooo lucky to be able fly out from O’hare in between snow storms, to be all together, for Dawn’s family to get through the Detroit airport on the same day as the would-be terrorist, to connect with Molly’s family in O’hare for lunch and to all land safely in Miaimi to 70* weather.We were simply amazed that the kids could jump right in the pool and that it was warm enough to sit out there most of the evening eating our pizza from a Chinese restaurant (not many places open on Christmas Day).

The next morning, Nic’s birthday, we caravaned to Key Largo for a really fun lunch at Alabama Jack’s. Molly had sure done her research on all of these places and we were happy to sit outside and to start eating fish for the week with crab cakes, grouper and chicken fingers for the kiddos.This is a very unique biker bar/restaurant and a great place to stop on our way to Marathon.
jack-sign-blog

It was nearly three pm when we arrived at the house and received a quick tour from Eddie. There were a few issues: like no washing machine or working refrigerator on the main floor but we were thrilled with the 5 bedrooms, 5 bath, wrap-around balcony, pool, hot tub and dock on the canal. We were within walking distance to the pretty Sombrero Beach park and took advantage of all of these amenities daily.
house-blog

We drove to another gorgeous park and beach on Sunday, Bahia Honda State Park, where everybody had a great time playing in the water and sand, exploring the old seven-mile bridge and gawking at a huge iguana in the trees. We saw several of those during the week.

bahia-blog

Our food was fabulous. Monday was a day for relaxing, cooking, grocery-shopping, fish-shopping and swimming in the pool. My kids are pretty great cooks and Molly’s family cooked fresh Yellow Snapper for our first meal at the house. Then, Dawn’s family cooked a shrimp/bloccoli/pasta dish that was just terrific. We shopped at Key Fisheries for our fresh fish and wish we would have time to eat lunch there. Molly also picked up a lobster reuben there, I think. I seriously doubt that we went a single day without a Key Lime pie which I’m definitely missing now that we’re home. Andrew grilled huge portions of chicken and steak for fajitas one night and on our last night there we tried Stone Crab and had some fresh shrimp for our appetizer. In addition, Mark blackened and grilled the King fish that Kelby caught on Thursday.

Key West was our trip on Tuesday. That was the chilliest day (and breezy) so the high was only about 64* but it was sunny and that felt wonderful. Part of the day was spent driving around the congested town in an electric, six-seater after lunch at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Restaurant. Shopping was great – we were on the hunt for the perfect Sanuk beach shoes. Oh, wait, they’re not shoes, they’re sandals. All of us girls bought them (except Dawn).

board-1

The rest of the week: Wednesday was a boat ride for all 13 of us out into the ocean and onto a private island called Pigeon Key. We had a very special picnic lunch there under the palm trees and the family had a great time catching a variety of fish from the dock helped out by our skipper, Captain Bill. Thursday: charter fishing from Sparky’s Landing (a favorite find) for most of the guys and shopping in Islamadora for the girls. Friday: three-hour kayaking adventure with our least adventuresome guide.

It has been hard to get back into the routine of work and this dismal, cold weather here in the midwest. This was such a special week for us with memories that will last our lifetime. Thanks to all of our children and grandkids!
grand-kids-and-us-blog

Now that our episode has aired, I am able to reveal a few more of the photos that I took as part of the M45 photography team. My shifts were scheduled at odd hours of the night but I knew I would have the opportunity to see some great work being done with some dramatic lighting. I was told that the place would be lit up like a football field and that was absolutely the truth. The volunteers were impressive and I felt somewhat guilty documenting the progress rather than doing hard, physical labor like so many others. I sure got tired, though!

I was enthralled each day to note how they utilized the cameras and the big boom arm that swung the camcorder out over the poured basement on my first night there and also, as seen in the first collage, that they had little yellow pieces of tape to indicate the purpose of each button. Now, that is something that I had to do when I first started my photography business – just to put up a light stand with an umbrella!!

blog-board-1

blog-board-2

I want to include this last photo because, while the production that aired Sunday night was indeed heart-warming and revealed much of the family circumstances, for time’s sake it had to omit much of what happened in front of the ABC cameras and in front of my camera. I was astounded on Reveal Day to see so MANY video cameras follow the Stott’s up to their house – what, is there seven of them?

nmb-reveal_day-161

Yesterday, all I saw at the church to indicate something was about to begin with our construction project, were the little “do not dig here” orange flags. But today, Tom notified us that there was a steam roller in the parking lot. Glad he told me what it was because I have a hard time knowing what to call these pieces of heavy equipment. I’ve been driving by every day since Sunday anxiously waiting for the opportunity to photograph our progress.

05_20_09

This is the best view I got after Howard Norman landed his plane and we returned to church for the rest of our celebration. Park Hills broke ground for a new addition and my job was to take aerial shots of the crowd. I’m so sorry we both missed seeing Mark Balmer’s grinning face as he drove this bulldozer around from the south end of the church to replace the people digging with hand shovels. You can see more photos in this slideshow. Howard and I were in the air for over an hour and I was feeling VERY queasy by the time the crowd finally appeared so I wasn’t able to stick it out much longer. I’m surprised at how sharp the photos appear since the brisk breeze caused for a great deal of bouncing around – both my stomach and my camera shots suffered a bit. It was really wonderful to see our house, the golf course and Highland from way up there this morning.

Park Hills Evangelical Free Church Groundbreaking

Park Hills Evangelical Free Church Groundbreaking

Back from Disney

March 13, 2009

It was SO hard to leave Florida yesterday and the beautiful 80 degree plus weather. Totally blue skies every single day and the magic of Disney with Paige seeing it for the very first time. Here are a couple of quick pics of Paige at Cinderella’s Table at the top of the castle which we did last Sunday. These photos aren’t quite as sharp as normal as I hate to use flash in most of these indoor locations so the shutter speed is pretty slow. The light really was quite nice, though. Also, I normally don’t shoot in jpg but since I take SO many photos when we go I only shot in RAW on a few special occasions. I really notice the difference in the color range of these photos but isn’t her hair unbelievable?

Paige at Cinderella's Castle

Paige's Curls

nmslog

Is your child America’s Cutest Kid?

NmB Photography is participating in the National Charity Model Search to select “America’s Cutest Kid” and to raise funds for charity. And you all know, I have been blessed to capture images of the cutest kids in America during the past couple of years!

We’re looking for cute children ages 18 months to 14 years old to model for a portrait to be entered into the contest.

Models Search Special:
$29 entrance fee, which includes a 20-minute model session and one image submitted to the national gallery.

Finalists will be determined by online votes. Anyone may vote. Each vote is $1, and all proceeds from votes benefit the non-profit Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. (NILMDTS.org). Grand prize national winner will be determined from the 50 city finalists. Winners selected by photography and modeling industry experts.

If your child is selected the national winner, you’ll receive many prizes, including a $5,000 US Savings Bond and a Canon PowerShot G10 digital camera.

If you’re interested in entering your child(ren), please call the studio at 815.275.1283. For more information about the contest, go online to www.sandypucmodels.com.