Posts Tagged ‘familes’

New Adventures

May 21, 2015

It has been so long since I posted an update, I had to relearn my blogging software a bit. I have been trying to decide how to best utilize my long-term blog since my photography business has slowed a bit and our travel life has increased. My plan is to update more about that and our family adventures, for now.

This past week I was very interested in the Galena Triathlon that has been running for the past 20 years. Last Saturday the athletes began with their swim at Nixon Beach. We were really interested since our daughter, Dawn, has been training for an upcoming triathlon in Davenport next month.

Last Monday, Molly, Jason and four of his friends came to Freeport hoping to get in the lake, ride the trails and hang out together before they started their summer jobs. Jim and I are so proud of our oldest grandson who just completed his freshman year at Fordham University. He brought friends that he has know since early grade school and despite awful weather, they managed to have fun. Tuesday was the best weather day so we headed to the lake, built a fire and they rode around the entire lake on our souped-up golf cart. Then, we headed down to the lake for a little fishing only to discover the marina closed and we were without bait. A few minutes later I secured wax worms from a veteran fisherman and we were in business. The sunshine felt so good that afternoon. Wednesday was terribly cold and rainy so Molly drove the group to Monroe – one of his friends has done very little travelling and Wisconsin was added to his newly extended list of states. We said goodbye to the group this morning around 8 am.


On Tuesday, my Highland friend, Jeanne and her husband, left for an extended trip to Canada and Oregon. I love to follow their trips on her retirement blog.

Today, we also got ready for a very brief visit from Dawn’s family who is flying to Germany tonight. They packed their suitcases into the Highlander so Jim could drive them to O’Hare and after a quick lunch, we said goodbye. Time for a little relaxation, knitting and dog walking. And, some camping this weekend at Apple Canyon Lake. Who says retirement is boring??


Thelma & Louise We Are Not – But We are going on a Road Trip! Betty & Nancy, my sister and I, are leaving this week for a huge road trip of about 5,000 miles. There will be no guns involved (or Brad Pitt) but it will be an adventure for both of us!

We have talked about it for a long time and finally started doing some serious planning last year. Our plan is to see lots of family from our newest great-great-nephew Micah in Des Moines to our older sister and brother-in-law in the Phoenix, AZ area. Our farthest destination is Scotts Valley, CA, to see our niece and her family. She has lived in CA forever but neither of us have been out there for a visit.

My planning included losing weight before the trip. I was worried about my back with all the car sitting and my energy level so last September I re-joined Weight Watchers. My goal was to lose 40 lbs before the trip or an average of 5 lb/month. I’m thrilled to say I will meet that goal before we leave.

Am I nervous about this trip –yes! There will be so much driving to get to these destinations and it’s hard to know how that will affect us. I’m still worried about my aching back so, have had regular massages during the last several months. We will be sharing a hotel room on several nights and there may be some sleeping issues?? I’ll be gone from Jim for over two weeks and that will be hard but, thank goodness, for Face Time! Andrew will help care for our dogs and for his Dad! Thank goodness for that! Since Jim is haphazard about putting away dishes I’m worried about finding my stuff when I get back.

Jim has a few concerns of his own about “me leaving him”. He has never, ever learned to use the “Tower of Terror.”

I”m uncharacteristically picky about the laundry and never, ever give him that chore to do. We will have a brief lesson before I leave and hope for the best.

Another planning aspect for me has been the technical equipment I’ll be toting – iPhone, notebook computer, video camera, all my SLR camera equipment and lenses and then there’s this little gem which is my latest geeky acquisition. It’s a mini stand for my iPhone so I can capture images and video of us along our route without seeing a wide angle, closeup version of my face – yikes!!
Gilf for iPhone
My travelling companion, Betty, is really looking for some respite time and that will be great for me, too. We will not be cleaning our houses, washing clothes, unloading the dishwasher OR working on client photography. Betty and I are best friends and we never run out of things to talk about.

Iowa City – watch Erin play softball
Des Moines – meet baby Micah and Mommy
Kansas City – visit niece, Debbie and her family AND see Jersey Boys
Norman, OK – rent a bike if there’s time and sleep
Santa Fe New Mexico – visit Georgia O’Keefe Museum
Laveen, AZ – drive Route 66 and stop in Sedona on the way to my sister, Diane’s house, in the Phoenix area
San Diego, CA – visit the ocean and dine oceanside
Scotts Valley, CA – stay with niece Denine and see great nephews and great-great nephews and possibly other cousins

Other hopes for the trip: visit new National Parks, eat at least one restaurant recommended by Guy Fieri on Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins, drive the Pacific Coast Highway, Exercise and lose weight. Relax in the hot tub. Listen to multiple audio books.

I’ve been thinking back to 1955 when the five of us took a similar road trip to California (my oldest sister was already gone by then). Then, we drove a 1948 Ford with no air conditioning cross country, through the Mojave Desert and were gone for a month. We visited Disney Land the year it opened! My mother was an avid vacation planner. We didn’t have much money but somehow she squeezed money out of their tight budget for this vacation. I wonder what the gas prices were then? Our wonderful Dad would have turned 100 years old this September. We often wonder how they stood travelling with three kids in a tight back seat like that.

This time we drive a super comfy Toyota Highlander and have excellent interstates to get us to our destinations fast. Let the adventure begin!

This past weekend I finally met Kali and her family of nine for their outdoor photo session. This has been planned for a long, long time starting with a gift certificate purchased for Christmas last year. Kali and I have had many email conversations about scheduling, what-to-wear, etc but this was the first time we met face-to-face. It’s a small world in NW Illinois, though, and I remembered her mother-in-law from classes at Highland and her mother worked with my son at one time. Our original plan for the session was early May but that day turned out to be too rainy so we all agreed to reschedule for last Saturday and I’m soo happy we did. The field was full of yellow flowers, the sky was perfectly blue with some clouds mixed in and the temperature was surprisingly warm. The bigger girls amazed me with their tumbling skills at only seven and four and one-year-old Reese just smiled and smiled! Who could ask for more than that?

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Summer is so short! We no longer take vacations during the summer as we love to spend time here and have family join us at the lake. We’re thankful they will come from Ohio and Iowa during the short summer months. We now prefer to vacation during the cold & miserable midwest winter if at all possible. We have been to the lake several times this summer and are looking forward to lounging on floats in the lake again this weekend. I’m sure the water has warmed dramatically since the last time we were there.

Last weekend, though, we did make our way to Madison with Dawn’s family to go to the Farmer’s Market. It was hot and crowded and overwhelming so we were all ready to leave after only doing half of it. Do you know it’s the largest in the country? We had a nice, cool lunch at the Great Dane after eating a whole loaf of warm cheese bread and sampling lots of cheese – it’s all about the cheese! State Street was just as busy due to Maxwell Street days and the patio of the union was packed, too!

On the way home, we stopped at Brennan’s in Monroe to get the rest of the ingredients we needed for Dawn’s special gourmet, grilled pizza. Everything but the fresh mozarella had been purchased at the Farmer’s Market. We were really proud of ourselves for dragging along a pull-behind traveler and a cooler in the car. We were all pretty exhausted at the end of the day! What are your favorite things to do in the summer time?

A couple more tips for you on photo processing: I use purchased actions for much of my blog’s photo processing. I always use MCP’s Crystal Clear Web Resize to prepare my images for this blog. On these images I also used the Pioneer Woman’s free Action Set 1 How nice of Ree Drummond to give away these actions and to provide so many, many wonderful tutorials on photography and photo processing. If you are an aspiring photographer, spend some time on the photography section of her blog. She has some Flickr groups, too!


This last photo appeals to me so much: Lars, our son-in-law, is pelting his wife with some little beads off of the trees and in the background it appears that Grandpa, aka Gpa, is telling Erin another fanciful story about how his little finger became crooked (yes, it really is). Jim is so much better at this pretending and story-telling than I am. I love him for that!

Erin was a happy, little six-year-old last weekend. She was enthralled with this little monkey from one of the State Street stores and had it riding her Webkinz pet. Lovingly wrapped around her is the fabric we found at Hobby Lobby for her new, tied blanket. We located the perfect color fleece for the other side at JoAnn’s so she didn’t understand that it wasn’t going to get magically done and go right home with her that day.

Kelby is such a fun kid, now! He doesn’t talk constantly any more but when he does, it’s usually a conversation about animals – more specifically fish of all kinds. He’s a walking encyclopedia and though he’s a voracious reader and listener of fiction, he checks out just as many non-fiction books from the Iowa City library.

Here’s the newest edition of suggested color combinations for families. I really like the combination of magenta, gray and blue. These are pretty trendy colors right now but will look great for a long time, I’m sure. The ruffle texture on the two tops adds interest as do the different shoe detail.

At the end of last month, I was scheduled to do the kind of assignment I love! Antonia needed someone to photograph her family before they moved to the Netherlands for three years and to remember the beauty of her husband’s parents’ gardens. Their home was scheduled to be on the Gardens United 2010 Garden Walk in mid-July and all of their children and grandchildren would be there at one time. Their yard had something special and unique in every corner and even in a Secret Garden.

We started at 8:30 am to take advantage of the lower, directional light and to avoid the hottest time of the day. There was a misty fog dripping onto the plants and made this Lady’s Mantle look like crystals of sugar outlined the leaves.

It was a delight to observe the candid interactions between grandparents and grandchildren and between cousins.

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.

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.

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.


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).


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!

Kim’s Family

October 13, 2008

Kim is Erin and Kelby’s former babysitter but also a very dear friend of my daughter’s family.

Kim drove her four siblings from Iowa to create a special Christmas gift for their parents and we planned it about four months ago! We had just a great time – they were tons of fun. Here are a couple of my favorites plus the link to their slideshow if you’d like to see more of Kim, Michelle, Megan, Abby and Michael.