Monthly Archives: July 2009

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summer days


This has been a really wonderful summer so far. Probably the most at peace I’ve felt in a long long time. A lot of things are falling into place for us now and it really seems like that light at the end of the tunnel that I’ve been talking about for the past three years … well, we might just be about to reach it. God is good and He’s brought us through it all. And now I just feel like rejoicing in the moment and enjoying every day of this summer.

Our summer days have been pretty relaxing around here. We get up whenever we want, lounge around in the morning, eat breakfast, I answer emails and do a little work while the kids play computer or video games. After lunch, it’s outdoor time (unless it’s raining). The kids will swing on the swingset or run around the yard or ride their bikes/scooters. Lately, it’s been warmer (not what I would call hot with temps only in the low 80’s, if that), but we’ve been in the pool almost every day. The kids like swimming with Jake much better because he plays games with them and tosses them around and stuff, where I am content to just hop on a raft and float around in there. Chloe has now started floating on a tube next to me and holding my hand. She’s so cute. Floating in the pool and soaking up some sun is just about the best way to relax EVER. And it’s kind of nice to have a tan. I’m more tan than I’ve been in years. The last few years, my summers have been all about weddings and editing pictures while chained to my computer all day long keeping me white as a ghost. But this year, I decided that I will enjoy the days with the kids and do my editing in the evenings. It’s working pretty well. Although this week, I have been pulling some late nights (it is now 2:38 am) and I’m pretty much exhausted from editing and also from ripping my house apart looking for things to sell at our garage sale this weekend. (If you’re local or nearby, stop by Friday or Saturday from 9-5. Between my mom and I, we’ve got lots!)

These photos were all taken last weekend. Chloe found some bubbles hidden in a cupboard. They weren’t doing anybody any good in there, so she finished off the bottle (spilling half of it) in a matter of minutes.

the birthday girl

My 36th birthday came and went last week. I am now closer to forty than thirty. Should I be nervous about that? I’m OK with it so far. Ask me again in a couple years.

The weekend was pretty low key, as most of our birthdays are as the years go by, but Jake will tell you that I milked every second of last weekend and used “it’s my birthday weekend” to get him to do lots of stuff for me. ;)

I had a really great birthday this year. On Saturday, Jake’s mom and stepdad took us all to see the new Harry Potter. It was really good, although I might have been able to enjoy it more if Chloe had not been whining the entire time and asking a million questions. She’s curious about everything and most of the time just likes to talk just to talk. We’ve decided it’s going to be a while before we take her with us to a movie like Harry Potter, where she actually needs to pay attention to get the story. She did much better when we saw “Up”. Other than that, loved the movie and had fun seeing it as a family. After the movie, we headed over to the parents’ for dinner. Heather (Jake’s sis) was there when we arrived and she was out zipping around the yard in the golf cart. We rode around for a while with the kids. Then we pulled up to the house and said “We’re done. Everybody off.” and Heather whispered to me to stay on and as soon as the kids were clear we gave them our most wicked laughs and took off across the yard again. They chased after us, of course. Mom grilled up some burgers and dogs for my birthday dinner and we popped in the Twilight DVD while we ate. The kids got bored so they went out riding around again with Jake and Heather. It was a fun night! I didn’t take my camera out that day, but I snagged a few pictures from Heather’s facebook to share here.

On Sunday evening, we went out to my parents’ house and my mom made dinner. More yummy grilled food. Hung out there for a while and made plans to go to the zoo on Monday, which was my actual birthday. I had looked up information on other area zoos. We’ve been to Binder Park in Battle Creek and John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids so many times and I wondered if there were other zoos close by. I came upon Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, which I had never even known existed before. We decided to give it a try and we thought it was a pretty nice one. Here are the only photos taken of me all weekend. (Well, except for that one Heather took of me from behind, but I don’t really feel like sharing that one. :P) Me and my baby kangaroos. hehe!

I also spent my birthday with …


… but mostly just with these guys.

We had a fun day together. My brother even paid for me and the kids to get into the zoo as his birthday gift to me. Such a nice brother I have. And both Zach and Chloe love spending time with Uncle Rick. I love this shot I got of Zach and Rick.

Up next … pictures from our annual Girls Days trip to Port Clinton/Put-In-Bay/Sandusky, Ohio. I might have to break that one up into a few posts. We shall see.

the 4th


We had such a fun 4th this year. I suggested we go to Gun Lake for the fireworks. We haven’t done that in a few years and I knew the kids would love it. So, we got sprayed down with bug spray, loaded our camp chairs in the van and off we went. It’s always pretty crowded at the state park so we went early, which left us about an hour and a half to kill. We took a walk and took a bunch of pictures of each other and the sunset.

Then we got the chairs out and sat down in the grass behind the van to wait for the sun to go down and the show to begin. The camera kept us occupied.

And then we heard the first big thud and the fireworks lit up the sky. We had a blast. ;)

For those interested in my settings for the fireworks: I set my ISO to 100 and shot in manual keeping my shutter open for anywhere from 2 to 5 seconds. I didn’t have a tripod, so I rested it on my knee and tried to stay as still as I could. Most of them were blurry but there were a few that turned out pretty good. I just had fun playing with the camera that night.

girls camping … finally


Yes, I finally found a little time to go through the pictures from camping last month with Julie and our girls. And here we go …


Once we got the campsite set up, we took a walk down to the water. The sky was threatening us with rain (we had already driven through some on our way up), but the girls didn’t care. It started slowly. At first, they just waded in the cold Lake Michigan waters, but soon … they were swimming in their clothes and loving every minute of it.


After we got the girls cleaned up and into dry clothes, we took a drive down the road to check out the lighthouse. The girls were climbing all over the railing and the rocks. We warned them to be careful and Kaleigh did end up falling and hurting her knee. But it didn’t keep her from climbing some more.



On our walk back to the truck, we stopped to check out the swans and ducks. There was a couple feeding them some popcorn and they were kind enough to offer the rest of their bag to the girls so they could feed the birds, too.

Back at the campsite, the rain began and it pretty much didn’t stop until the next morning. We sat in our tent, all of us on one queen size air mattress, while the storm worsened around us. Lots of thunder and lightning and heavy rain, so much that the tent ended up leaking a bit. It was an adventure, that’s for sure.

The next morning, the rain finally stopped and gave us a perfect day. Powdered donuts anyone?

After a little cleanup, we headed to nearby Snug Harbor for some swinging, hiking and kayaking.


While Julie & Kaleigh went for a kayak ride, Chloe and I took a walk and she was fascinated by some kids that were fishing. A man and his son were so sweet and taught her how to cast her line and reel it back in. And she caught a little fish. She wouldn’t get close enough to touch it to throw it back, but it was so nice of them to let her try it. She’s so curious about things.

After a beautiful day, lots of outdoor fun and a delicious meal on the grill, we headed out for some ice cream. Yum!

Then we headed back to the deck at the campground to watch the sunset. I told the girls to make some crazy faces for me. Mission accomplished. :)

Self portrait time. And a shot of all our fellow campers out to see the gorgeous sunset, too.


It was such a fun weekend and the beginning of many trips together, I hope. :)

land i love


Wow! Two blog posts in one day! I haven’t done that in a while. But I wanted to share a little layout I put together with Heather’s new Land I Love kit, now available over on her site. It’s perfect, and not just for 4th of July pics. A couple of the girls on the design team are not from the US and they had no trouble using the kit. Check out the gallery HERE.

friends forever


From the moment we got in the truck to head to Muskegon for our camping weekend, the girls instantly got along. I knew they would. Just like their moms. Julie and I met pretty much the first day of college (or right around there) and we got along right away. I had another roomie for first semester (another Julie actually), but she left and Julie moved in with me. We had such fun. We even took a few vacations together (Florida, Mexico, Europe). And once in ’96, we went camping in Muskegon, so it was only fitting that we go back there and take our girls.

It was so fun to see the girls get along so great and become instant friends for life. Chloe came into my office the other day with tears in her eyes and said she kept thinking about our camping trip and she couldn’t stop thinking about Kaleigh. “I want her now,” she said as she climbed in my lap and cried. So cute and heartbreaking at the same time. We are now making plans to get together with them again this summer so the girls can see each other. :) Julie and I are determined that when the girls are older, we are going back to Europe for a little girl trip around France and Italy again. In the meantime, I think we’ll be getting together a lot more often. Yay!

f/22 – aperture

It’s been a while since I shared any little photography or photoshop tips. I know so many little things that are just second nature to me now and I never know what kinds of things people would like to learn. (I think I’ve mentioned here before that I do not have the gift of teaching.) While on our girls getaway this week, I shared this with my cousin Tonya since she recently got a new Canon digital SLR.

These photos are all straight out of the camera with no editing (except to remove dust spots) and were taken by the pool/deck area behind our hotel with my Canon 20mm 2.8 lens. My camera was set to Av mode – a.k.a. aperture priority. (That’s usually what I shoot in unless I’m at a wedding or working in tricky lighting situations and then I use manual more often.) The photo on the left was taken wide open at an aperture of 2.8 since that’s the widest that particular lens will go. The one on the right was set to the complete opposite at an aperture of 22 (or f/22 in technical terms). If you aren’t familiar with apertures or how to figure out what those numbers mean – keep in mind that the smaller the number (2.8), the more light you’re letting into the lens and the more background blur you will get with less of your photo in focus, and the larger the number (22), the less light you’re letting in and more of your image will be in focus. Obviously, I was outside for these photos, so we’ll just focus on that this time. I love the little starburst you get from shooting into the sun like this.

These were taken from our boat on the way back from Put-In-Bay island in Lake Erie with my 85mm 1.8 Canon lens. This one, I actually didn’t set the camera to f/22, I only went to f/14. I was playing around with my settings a little on the boat.

This was also on the boat. Obviously, you can see that the photo on the left has a buoy in it and the boat was moving so fast that I wasn’t able to get that into the second photo after I changed my setting. There was also a girl in front of me whose hair whipped into my picture at the last minute. Ah well …

Also … when shooting into the sun at f/22, you want to make sure your camera sensor is clean or you will end up having to touch up the photo to get rid of all the dust spots. My camera sensor is really dirty right now from all the shooting and switching lenses lately, so I had to use the healing tool and patch tool to get rid of all the spots before I posted these. f/22 will show ever single speck of dirt on your photo. There is information in your camera manual about cleaning the sensor. The camera’s sensor is very delicate and if you do damage to it during the cleaning process you could really mess up the camera. I do my own with a kit I purchased and am very very careful. But if you feel too nervous doing it yourself then there are people at camera stores who are trained to do it for you.

Hope this little tip is something you can use in your own photography.

Have a happy weekend!

girls days and what’s up


Oh gosh, I am a complete zombie today. Got home yesterday eve after a few days away in the Sandusky, Ohio area for our annual “girls days” trip with my aunt and cousin. As always, we had a wonderful time together visiting Port Clinton, Marblehead, Put-In-Bay (South Bass Island) and Sandusky. I’ll share more pics later as well as camping pictures (really I’ll get to those soon) and 4th of July fireworks at Gun Lake. Today is my day to get back into the groove of things around here.

Lots to do the next few weeks. Mom and I have decided to have a garage sale in a couple weeks, so I’ll be going through the house finding stuff to get rid of. Also will be working a lot on album designs and editing for my cousin’s wedding. Then in August, Jen and I are taking our annual camping trip together. Can’t wait for that! We always have such a relaxing time and I need that break in the summer. In between, I hope to take the kids to the beach a few times and maybe to the zoo with my brother Rick. Trying to make the summer fun for them. We finally got our big blue easy set pool up, so as soon as the temps start getting back into the 80’s we’ll be doing some swimming. Yay!

More pics coming soon!

AJAXed with AWP