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South Carolina Family Sessions- Sheldon, SC

I had a great privilege a couple weeks ago when I was visiting my brother’s family in South Carolina.  Remember that beautiful plantation I photographed?  I got to do some family photos for my brother’s family and some family friends of theirs at that same plantation a few weeks ago.  Here are some of my favorites!

Here is my new friend with her little girls:

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And here are my newest Honduran friends:

 

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And here we have the family of my brother and sister-in-law (with his eight youngest children.  Unfortunately his two oldest weren’t in town for this photo shoot):

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We love our jumping photos in the Mansell family!

We love our jumping photos in the Mansell family!

 

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This photo was Maddie’s request. 🙂

 

Here is the whole crew together:

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Since this was my family I was shooting, I got in on the fun too!

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Plantation Evening

It’s amazing what I can get done with this blog when I don’t have a full-time job during the day this week!  Here are photos from a couple Sundays ago when I went with my brother’s family to a local plantation in Sheldon, SC.  Needless to say, it was a magical evening.  Enjoy!

 

That dog really wanted to be in my photos.

That dog really wanted to be in my photos.

 

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Can you spot the white horse?

Can you spot the white horse?

 

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My new favorite.

 

This photo feels a big magical to me.

This photo feels a big magical to me.

 

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My nephew with some of the local animals.  :)

My nephew with some of the local animals. 🙂

 

My lovely niece who accompanied me all over the plantation chasing the good light.  :)

My lovely niece who accompanied me all over the plantation chasing the good light. 🙂


Have you ever tried goat milk soap? If not, you should!

My brother, sister-in-law, and eight of their ten kids live on Sheldon Family Farm & Dairy where they manage their many goats, cows, ponies, pigs, bees, chickens, cats, dogs, as well as a goose (or maybe it’s a duck?) and a rabbit.  I think I’m still forgetting something.  Anyway, using the milk from their goats, they’ve created a fantastic line of goat milk soap available here and various stores in the low country of South Carolina.  As I alluded to in a previous post, I had some run-ins with the goats when I tried to capture some photos of their products last week, which is documented in some photos below.  You can check out some of the beauty of the farm in my post about the farm after a rainstorm.  Here are some photos to entice you to check out their great smelling, high-quality (i.e. leave your hands feeling amazingly soft) soaps.  🙂

 

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I thought photos of the goats by the soap would be cute, like this one. 🙂

 

... then this happened.  Goats really will eat anything!

… then this happened. Goats really will eat anything!

This was the best I could do to get the babies to pose for me.  :)

This was the best I could do to get the babies to pose for me. 🙂

 

So many options and scents available!

So many options and scents available!

 

Available in downtown Beaufort at Greenfish.

Available in downtown Beaufort at Greenfish.

 

At the local feed store.

At the local feed store.

 

Also available at the local cider store.

Also available at the local cider store.

 

Special gift wrap also available.

Special gift wrap also available.

 

Some new residents on the front porch.

Some new residents on the front porch.

 

The bees whose wax/honey is used is some of their products.

The bees whose wax/honey is used is some of their products.

 

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If those photos aren't enough to make you want to check out their great soap products, check out the adorable kids who help make them!  :)

If those photos aren’t enough to make you want to check out their great soap products, maybe these adorable kids who help make them will help! 🙂


Sheldon Family Farm & Dairy after a rainstorm

As I mentioned in my trip preview post, I was able to visit my brother’s farm last week  in South Carolina.  It was so fun to have family time and to get a glimpse of the farm in action.  I got some photos after a rainstorm and also tried to capture some of the great things they have going on with their Sheldon Family Farm & Dairy projects, like the bees and goat milk soap.  I absolutely love the soap and can attest to how great the scents are and the great feeling on your skin after using it.  If you’d like to order some for yourself, check out their website.  I’ll post more photos of the soap business in another blog post soon.

Such a great description of my brother's family.

Such a great description of my brother’s family.

Here's my brother, sister-in-law, and their eight youngest children (two others aren't at home anymore).  I'll post more of this photo shoot soon.

Here’s my brother, sister-in-law, and their eight youngest children (two others aren’t at home anymore). I’ll post more of this photo shoot soon.

 

Here are the photos I got after a rainstorm one evening:

 

After a rainstorm

After a rainstorm

 

 

 

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It started raining when I was out there.  Love the glistening raindrops!

It started raining when I was out there. Love the glistening raindrops!

 

Love the chickens through the window.

Love the chickens through the window.

 

How I love evening shadows.

How I love evening shadows.

 

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Evening light is one of my favorite things.

Evening light is one of my favorite things.

 

Rainbow!

Rainbow!

 

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Sneak Peek: My Trip Down South

Hey ya’ll!  (I know, it just doesn’t work coming from me, but I like to try to fit in with local vernacular when I can.)  🙂 I’ve been hanging out with my brother’s family in South Carolina this week.  It’s a beautiful area here in the low country.  Here are a few sneak peeks of a post or two I’ll try to share soon of the great things I’ve seen and photographed.  Enjoy!

Some of my favorite kids with whom I've gotten to spend the week.  They also happen to be my nieces and nephews.  :)

Some of my favorite kids with whom I’ve gotten to spend the week. They also happen to be my nieces and nephews. 🙂

 

A rainbow AND ponies!  Childhood dreams coming true!

A rainbow AND ponies! Childhood dreams coming true!

 

Fun on the farm with Charlotte the goat.

Fun on the farm with Charlotte the goat.

One of my favorite things ever- a tree-lined path.  :)  This was taken at a local plantation near my brother's.

One of my favorite things ever- a tree-lined path. 🙂 I took this at a local plantation near my brother’s.

 

Took a quick trip to Charleston.

Took a quick trip to Charleston to visit my nephew and his wife.

 

Visiting my nephew and his wife's alma mater- The College of Charleston

Visiting my nephew and his wife’s alma mater- The College of Charleston

 

My brother's family makes goat milk soap.  I was taking photos to go on their website and thought it would be cute to try to get some goats in the photos.  Big mistake.  Big.  Huge.  Stay tuned for another blog post detailing that experience.  :)

My brother’s family makes goat milk soap. I was taking photos to go on their website and thought it would be cute to try to get some goats in the photos. Big mistake. Big. Huge. Stay tuned for another blog post detailing that experience. 🙂


Hawaii Revisited- Last Days in Maui

My last post about the Road to Hana wasn’t my final experience in Hawaii and even though it’s taken a long time, I wouldn’t feel ok until I closed up the Hawaii posts with this wrap-up.  🙂  Here are photos from the various places we explored on the last two days Samantha and I spent visiting with Shara and Mike before we returned to the mainland.

 

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Ka’anapali Beach

 

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A view of the island of Lana’i. Shara told me there’s a ferry that you can take over to it. It has one little town and a couple of really nice resorts. It’s owned by Larry Ellison, who owns 98% of the island.

 

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A very scenic walk to Honolua Bay

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A very scenic walk to Honolua Bay

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Honolua Bay

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A very scenic walk at Honolua Bay

 

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A banyan tree in Lahaina

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This was some good stuff! Shara and I enjoying Ululani’s Shave Ice, Front Street, Lahaina

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The waterfront in Lahaina. This photo just screams America to me. 🙂

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Lahaina

 

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Sunset from Lahaina

 

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Lahaina

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Maipoina ‘Oe la’u Beach Park (aka Veterans Park in Kihei)- Hanging out with Bandit and cooking out. A great way to spend our last night on Maui!

 

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The West Maui Mountains

The West Maui Mountains view from Maui Lani Pkwy in Wailuku

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Iao Valley

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Iao Valley

Shara, Samantha, and I enjoying our last day together in Maui.

Shara, Samantha, and I enjoying our last day together in Maui, hiking in Iao Valley before flying out that evening.

 

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Iao Valley

 


The Road to Hana, Maui

If you’re just tuning in, I’m finishing up posts of the beauty I experienced on my spring break trip to Maui with my high school friends Samantha and Shara.  Near the end of our trip, Samantha and I took a day to explore the Road to Hana on Maui (Shara and Mike have done that trip quite a few times, so they sat this one out).  Sadly, the weather didn’t cooperate with us for spectacular blue sky photos, but it was still a memorable day exploring such a gorgeous area.

The Road to Hana is a remarkable road full of twists and turns and over 45 one-lane bridges (which usually coincided with a beautiful waterfall right next to it) that leads to the town of Hana on the east side of Maui.  It took a few hours to get to our destination, Kipahulu in Haleakala National Park, with many stops along the way to enjoy the gorgeous beaches, waterfalls, and other unique sights.

The end of our trip (before we took the road back in the evening) included a four mile hike through the National Park (and a breathtaking bamboo forest) in POURING rain (hence the lack of amazing bamboo and waterfall photos since I wanted my camera to survive) to Waimoku Falls.  They were pretty spectacular, especially with all the recent rain to make them more powerful… totally worth the rainstorm hike.  As Sam and I lamented the weather initially, we decided to embrace the day we were given and the chance to make so many memories.  Check out the sights below!

 

Taro fields

Taro fields

 

The Three Bears falls

The Three Bears falls

 

Three Bears Falls

Three Bears Falls

 

Just a random waterfall seen on the side of the road during our drive.  I almost got tired of them!

Just a random waterfall seen on the side of the road during our drive. I almost got tired of them!

An entrance into some lava tubes that we explored.  We were thankful to run into people with flashlights... it was dark in there!

An entrance into some lava tubes that we explored. We were thankful to run into people with flashlights… it was dark in there!

 

Inside the lava tubes.

Inside the lava tubes.

 

Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach

Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

 

Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach

Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

 

A different perspective of Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach

A different perspective of Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

 

Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach

Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

 

A blow hole in action at Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach

A blow hole in action at Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

 

I sort of enjoyed taking photos here.  :)

I sort of enjoyed taking photos here. 🙂

 

Near Hana- this was the non-treacherous part of the hike to the red sand beach.

Near Hana- this was the non-treacherous part of the hike to the red sand beach.

 

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

 

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

 

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

 

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay

 

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay- I love the red and turquoise.

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay- I love the red and turquoise.

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With one of many waterfalls along the road.

With one of many waterfalls along the road.

 

Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools) inside the National Park

Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools) inside the National Park

 

On the hike on Pipiwai Trail

On the hike on Pipiwai Trail

 

The best pic I could get of the bamboo forest on Pipiwai Trail- if it wasn't for the rain, I'd have some really gorgeous pics from there.

The best pic I could get of the bamboo forest on Pipiwai Trail- if it wasn’t for the rain, I’d have some really gorgeous pics from there.

 

After a two mile hike in the pounding rain, this was our reward- Waimoku Falls.

After a two mile hike in the pounding rain, this was our reward- Waimoku Falls.

 

Proof that we made it.

Proof that we made it (taken with the camera I’m less attached to).

 

The actual trail on the way back.  There was a lot of rain that day.

The “trail” on the way back. There was a lot of rain that day (taken with the camera I was ok with drenching) .

 

 

On the hike back

On the hike back

 

After our four mile hike in pouring rain, the sky finally decided to do this before the sunset.  :)

After our four mile hike in pouring rain, the sky finally decided to do this before the sunset. 🙂

 

 


Sunrise to Sunset in Maui

Welcome to another day from my trip in Maui.  This one happened to be a very long and full day.  We work up around 3:30 A.M. to head up to the Haleakala summit to watch the sunrise.  My friends who live there have seen much more spectacular displays of the sun rising over the clouds, but I was content to see the sun break through a few times.  I was amazed at how different the landscape is up by the Haleakala Crater… it eerily felt a bit like Mars up there!  On the way down the mountain we saw a rainbow… there’s a reason Hawaii is known as the Rainbow State!

Since we were already on that side of the island, we decided to explore a couple of the early stops on the Road to Hana (I’ll be doing a separate post on our Road to Hana journey which happened the day after this one).  We stopped to see the rainbow bark on some eucalyptus trees and then we explored a bamboo forest.  Both sites were really beautiful.

That evening, Shara and I decided to go to a beach not too far from their place in hopes that there would be a pretty sunset.  God didn’t disappoint us at Keawakapu Beach near Wailea.  Check out His beautiful creation as seen on this great day in Maui back in March!

Shara, Mike and I waiting for the sun to rise on the Haleakala Summit.  It was cold at 10,000 feet (hence the reason Sam was staying warm in the overlook shelter).

Shara, Mike and I waiting for the sun to rise on the Haleakala Summit. It was cold at 10,000 feet (hence the reason Sam was staying warm in the overlook shelter).

 

The sunlight starting to peek through over the Haleakala crater.

The sunlight starting to peek through over the Haleakala crater.

 

Good morning!

Good morning!

 

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Standing on top of the world!

Standing on top of the world!

Here I am near the Haleakala Crater

Here I am near near the summit with the rest of Maui below.

 

The Haleakala Observatory

The Haleakala Observatory

 

A Haleakala Silversword plant

A Haleakala Silversword plant

 

It’s a really unique plant- check out more info on Wikipedia.

 

On the way down from the summit.

On the way down from the summit.

 

Rainbow State!

Rainbow State!

 

The Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta)

The Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta)

 

This was on the other side of the hill by the rainbow eucalyptus trees... the coast was everywhere.  Got to love islands!

This was on the other side of the hill by the rainbow eucalyptus trees… the coast was everywhere. Got to love islands! (Thanks for this shot of me, Mike!)

 

A closeup of the bark

A closeup of the bark

 

Entering the bamboo forest off of the  Hana highway.

Entering the bamboo forest off of the Hana highway.

 

Exploring with Samantha and Mike ahead.

Exploring with Samantha and Mike ahead.

 

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I love this.

I love this.

 

We happened upon this little waterfall in the bamboo forest.  It had been raining a lot recently.  :)

We happened upon this little waterfall in the bamboo forest. It had been raining a lot recently. 🙂

 

The view from the road

The view from the road

 

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

 

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

 

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

 

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

 

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

 

Shara let me borrow her tripod for this shot- The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

Shara let me borrow her tripod for this shot- The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

 

Shara let me borrow her tripod for this shot- The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

Shara let me borrow her tripod for this shot- The sunset at Keawakapu Beach

 

Such a great evening hanging out with Shara.  Can't believe we've been friends for twenty-two years now!

Such a great evening hanging out with Shara. Can’t believe we’ve been friends for twenty-two years now!

 


Paddle Boarding and a Luau

I had hoped to combine events so I wouldn’t bombard you with Hawaii posts, but I’m having trouble because it was such a beautiful trip.  I have way too many fun things to show you here, so bear with me.  🙂  Today I’m going to show you pics from the day that epitomizes a Hawaiian vacation- adventures at the beach and a luau.

We went to Ukumehame Park in Lahaina on a gorgeous afternoon for some water adventures.  I decided to attempt paddle boarding because it looked a little easier than surfing.  Unfortunately it wasn’t quite easy enough for me to master in a mere 20 minutes on the water, but it was fun to try it!  Shara’s husband, Mike, was incredibly patient with me and my meager attempt to balance on that large board.  And Shara and Samantha did a great job cheering me on from shore and capturing a few photos that made me look relatively skilled at staying up on the board!  They also captured my failed attempt to stay up on the board for any prolonged amount of time.   (See photos below).

After the paddle boarding/sitting on the beautiful beach adventure, Sam and I went to the quintessential Hawaiian tourist experience- the Old Lahaina Luau.  They have that thing down to a science- complete with a mid-meal light rain shower with a double rainbow for our enjoyment!  😉  It was a fun, educational experience with some delicious Hawaiian food, leis, a pig roast, hula dancing lessons, cultural demonstrations and hula show topped off with a beautiful beach sunset.  Sometimes you just got to embrace the whole tourist thing and go all out!  It was a fun time and gave me all sorts of flashbacks to TV shows that filmed Hawaii episodes like The Brady Bunch and Saved by the Bell.  🙂

Here is the photographic evidence of all the fun!

Ukumehame Park- the view from the paddle board of the West Maui mountains was seriously spectacular.

Ukumehame Park- the view from the paddle board of the West Maui mountains was seriously spectacular.

I'm doing it!

I’m doing it!

 

... and then this happened.

… and then this happened.

Ukumehame Park, Maui

Ukumehame Park, Maui

 

Luau time!

Luau time!

 

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Coconut being shaved, Hawaiian food to try, cultural demonstrations, and the pig roast (that buried thing)

 

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Do any of you also think of the Brady Bunch when you see these?

Do any of you also think of the Brady Bunch when you see these?

 

Our double rainbow present!

Our double rainbow present!

 

Samantha and I embracing tourism.  :)

Samantha and I embracing tourism. 🙂

 

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Hula dancing and dessert (passion fruit cake and lavender-iced cookies were my favorite)

Hula dancing and dessert (passion fruit cake and lavender-iced cookies were my favorite)

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There's just something about palm trees and a sunset.  Felt like I was in a postcard.  :)

There’s just something about palm trees and a sunset. Felt like I was in a postcard. 🙂

 

 


Farmland in Hawaii

When I was on my way to Maui, walking around farmland wasn’t the first thing I thought about doing.  I think that was one of the most surprising things about my trip- Maui has so many different types of land and sites… there was so much more to see than just beaches!

On one of our first days there, Shara, Samantha, and I explored a few different areas of eastern Maui.  We started out with a visit to the Upcountry Farmers Market in Pukalani.  It was definitely the most picturesque farmers market I’ve ever seen!  We tried some Kombucha tea and lilikoi (passion fruit) butter while picking up some avocados and veggies.  We followed that with a delicious brunch at a french restaurant.  Then we visited the farmlands off of Thompson Road… farmlands that happen to belong to Oprah!  I had no idea she owned so much farmland on Maui.  It was a beautiful road with great sites going uphill and looking out at the coast below.

From there we went to the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm and got to explore a bit before the downpour.  See the photo below taken after we made it back to the car… should’ve brought a raincoat!

We finished off the adventure by stopping at a couple picturesque spots on the journey home- the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center in Makawao and the Makawao Union Church.  Check out the photos below!

 

 

Visiting the Upcountry Farmers Market in Pukalani. http://www.upcountryfarmersmarket.com/index.html

Visiting the Upcountry Farmers Market in Pukalani.
http://www.upcountryfarmersmarket.com/index.html

 

La Provence french restaurant in Kula for brunch- eggs benedict and a lilikoi (passion fruit) crepe... fantastic!

La Provence french restaurant in Kula for brunch- eggs benedict and a lilikoi (passion fruit) crepe… fantastic!

 

Exploring Thompson Rd. farmlands up in the hills.

Exploring Thompson Rd. farmlands up in the hills.

 

The view from Thompson Road

The view from Thompson Road

 

High school friends still having adventures together 15 years later!

High school friends (me, Shara, and Sam) still having adventures together 15 years later!

 

Thompson Road

The view from Thompson Road

 

Thompson Road

The view from Thompson Road

 

Thompson Road

The view from Thompson Road

 

Thompson Road- Hawaiian Cows!

Thompson Road- Hawaiian Cows!

 

Visiting the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm as the rain started to come in.

Visiting the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm as the rain started to come in.

 

Ali`i Kula Lavender farm

Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm

 

Great view from the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm

Great view from the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm… note the dark clouds up above.

 

Ah, lavender such great stuff.

Ah, lavender, such great stuff.

 

Some of the vegetation around the lavender farm and our next stops on the trip.

Some of the vegetation around the lavender farm and our next stops on the trip.

You could say we weren't exactly prepared for the rainy run to the car from the lavender farm.  :)

You could say we weren’t exactly prepared for the rainy run to the car from the lavender farm. 🙂

 

Some artwork outside the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center, Makawao

Some artwork outside the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center, Makawao

 

Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center, Makawao

Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center, Makawao

 

Outside the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center, Makawao

Outside the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center, Makawao

 

I love trees like this.

I love trees like this.

 

 

 

We had to stop the car to check out this beautiful church- Makawao Union Church makawaounionchurch.org

We had to stop the car to check out this beautiful church- Makawao Union Church
makawaounionchurch.org

 

Makawao Union Church

Makawao Union Church

 

Makawao Union Church

Makawao Union Church

 

 


Maui Whale Watch

I haven’t had much time since my return from spring break to get my photos posted (it’s testing season at school), but don’t worry, there are many to come!  This trip was a pseudo high school reunion for my friends Samantha, Shara and me.  Samantha and I set off from Ohio to spend a week visiting Shara and her husband who live in Maui and I couldn’t have asked for a better spring break adventure. I’ll start with our first day in Maui for this blog post, which I posted a preview of while I was there..  Our first morning there, (with jet-lag’s assistance for a somewhat early wake-up) we went to Maaelea Bay and took a whale watch cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  I was very impressed with how they do tours and how informative the guides are throughout the watch.  I think my favorite part was when they put a microphone into the water below us and we were able to hear the whales singing below the surface of where we were.  I also enjoyed that we saw a brand new calf often (though he/she didn’t show off much for photos) and quite a few pairs of whales.  I just found this video someone took in February in the same area (silly me forgot my drone equipment to better capture the event!), so check this guy’s video out if you’d like to see what it looks like from above.  A big thank you goes out to Shara and Mike for loaning me their zoom lens and polarized filter so I could get optimal photos of the whales!

Here are a few highlights from the expedition.  Hope you enjoy them!

 

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Our Mode of Transport that morning

Samantha and I hanging out on the boat.

Samantha and I hanging out on the boat.

The sugar cane field burning as we left the bay.

View of the sugar cane field burning as we left the bay.

 

The only whale spout that I captured that day.

The only whale spout that I captured that day.

Oh how I love sunbeams.

Oh how I love sunbeams.

I love how her side flipper looks turquoise underwater.

I love how her white side flipper looks turquoise underwater.

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Here's a glimpse of the itty-bitty baby (that probably weighed about a ton when we saw it!).

Here’s a glimpse of the itty-bitty baby (that probably weighed about a ton when we saw it!).

 

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I loved the background of this.  The mountains in Western Maui are really beautiful.

I loved the background of this. The mountains in Western Maui are really beautiful.

 

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Love seeing the details on the tail fin.

Love seeing the details on the tail fin.

 

I already posted this one in the preview, but since it's my favorite from the day, I'm posting it again.  :)

I already posted this one in the preview, but since it’s my favorite from the day, I’m posting it again. 🙂


God does good work.

I’m still in Hawaii visiting a friend of mine from high school and we were able to enjoy this sight the other night.  I couldn’t help but think of this verse from Psalms while we soaked in the beauty of it all.  God does good work.

Wailea Beach, Maui

Wailea Beach, Maui


Coming Soon…

Guess who’s traveling again!  Get ready for some beautiful photos from Maui coming your way soon.  🙂

 

Taken yesterday on a whale watch off the coast of Maui.

A humpback whale in the Pacific.  This was taken yesterday on a whale watch off the coast of Maui.


33 Ways to Enjoy February

Making February fun since 1981! (Groan, I know, but I couldn’t resist it.)  About five years ago, I started this thing where I tried to make the drab month of February a bit more enjoyable by celebrating my birthday all month long.  I’ve documented this by specifically pointing out blessings numbering my number of years in facebook photo albums since the year I turned 28.  I decided to post it to my blog starting last year with 32 Reasons I Love February.  Being the picture-happy person that I am, I couldn’t keep it at just 33 pictures, so there are a few collages in there.  There’s nothing fancy or professional about these photos- I just focused on capturing memories without the stress of fancy editing.  Here are 33 things that I loved about February this year.  Enjoy!

#1-  Having a super fun photo shoot with my nieces and nephew.

#1- Having a super fun photo shoot with my nieces and nephew.

#2-  Getting goat milk soap made by my brother's family

#2- Getting goat milk soap made by my brother’s family

Check out their Sheldon Family Farm & Dairy’s Facebook page!

#3-  Handing my camera to my five-year-old friend at the end of the Super Bowl party

#3- Handing my camera to my five-year-old friend at the end of the Super Bowl party

#4- A birthday month present on the first February school day.  Thanks for the handmade scarf, Stefanie!

#4- A birthday month present from a work friend on the first February school day. Thanks for the handmade scarf, Stefanie!

#5-  Enjoying snow day #7 in IPS.  Using my very useful Snow Brum (a gift from my mom.  I had no idea how useful it would become in my life!). And loving my well-used rain boots.

#5- Enjoying snow day #7 in IPS. Using my very useful Snow Brum (a gift from my mom. I had no idea how useful it would become in my life!),  loving my well-used rain boots, and a fire in the fireplace.

#6- Watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies at The Palace (i.e. not our homes) with Angie.

#6- Watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies at The Palace (i.e. not our homes) with Angie.

#7-  Anne of Green Gables projected on the wall and a great time with some girls from my church Community Group.

#7- Anne of Green Gables projected on the wall and a great time with some girls from my church Community Group.

#8-  Surviving a half hour of car-rider duty outside in freezing temperatures each day with friends like this one.

#8- Surviving a half hour of car-rider duty outside in freezing temperatures each day with friends like this one.

#9-  Taste-testing a variety of Oreos during third lunch.

#9- Taste-testing a variety of Oreos during third lunch.

#10-  Giving piggy-back rides to this little guy

#10- Giving piggy-back rides to this little guy

#11-  Chili's chips and salsa and going to my first Pacers game since I went to one in college back in 2000.

#11- Chili’s chips and salsa and going to my first Pacers game since I went to one in college back in 2000.

#12-  Feeling the love from students on Valentine's Day

#12- Feeling the love from students on Valentine’s Day

#13-  Enjoying a Valentine's Day snow and some snow ice cream in my hot chocolate

#13- Enjoying a Valentine’s Day snow and some snow ice cream in my hot chocolate

#14-  Chatting a lot during a four-hour lunch catching up with my college roommate

#14- Chatting a lot during a four-hour lunch catching up with my college roommate… and taking a photo in front of the giant snow mountain in the parking lot.

#15-  Worshiping in such a great community and beautiful building every Sunday.

#15- Worshiping in such a great community and beautiful building every Sunday.

#16-  Hanging out at Thr3e Wise Men with work friends.

#16- Hanging out at Thr3e Wise Men with work friends.

#17- Celebrating my birthday with some of my favorite friends in Indy at Chatham Tap

#17- Celebrating my birthday with some of my favorite friends in Indy at Chatham Tap

#18- Receiving birthday cards and presents at school from students and friends who know me well

#18- Receiving birthday cards and presents at school from students and friends who know me well

#19-  Blowing out a candle on an empanada birthday cake.  Thanks for the lunch feast, Kim!

#19- Blowing out a candle on an empanada birthday cake. Thanks for the lunch feast, Kim!

#20-  Kendra coming all the way to Indy to celebrate my birthday dinner with me at Bru Burger!

#20- Kendra coming all the way to Indy to celebrate my birthday dinner with me at Bru Burger!

#21-  Having such great art to enjoy at the IMA just down the street.

#21- Having such great art to enjoy at the IMA just down the street.

#22- Getting to know my friend Susan so much better while enjoying the art museum

#22- Getting to know my friend Susan so much better while enjoying the art museum

#23- Seeing grass as the snow finally melted

#23- Seeing grass as the snow finally melted

#24-  Seeing the stained-glass window from Benjamin Harrison's wife (on the right) that used to be in my church (current window on left)

#24- Seeing the Tiffany stained-glass window from Benjamin Harrison’s wife at the IMA  (on the right) that used to be in my church (current window on left)

#25-  Flowers from family and friends- smelling springtime in my apartment.

#25- Flowers from family and friends- smelling springtime in my apartment.

#26-  Celebrating with my brother's family

#26- Celebrating with my brother’s family

#27-  A sister-in-law who knows me well and gave me home-cooked frozen food for my birthday

#27- A sister-in-law who knows me well and gave me home-cooked frozen food for my birthday

#28-  Baking for the fourth annual birthday bake-off with my friend at school.  My nutella blondies turned out a bit too cakey to top the fantastic combination of brownies and Cadbury eggs that Meyer made.

#28- Baking for the fourth annual birthday bake-off with my friend at school. My nutella blondies turned out a bit too cakey to top the fantastic combination of brownies and Cadbury eggs that Meyer made.

#29- Dinner at Granite City and getting to see this fantastic friend of mine more often.  So glad Jen and I get to catch up at Bible Study Fellowship each week!

#29- Dinner at Granite City and getting to see this fantastic friend of mine more often. So glad Jen and I get to catch up at Bible Study Fellowship each week!

#30- Randomness (I couldn't really stick to just 33 things): free starbucks birthday drink, finishing our students' English language testing, conversation starters from friends, my washed car, my t-shirt quilt, and the house on Georgetown that kept their Christmas decor up until March

#30- Randomness (I couldn’t really stick to just 33 things): free starbucks birthday drink, finishing our students’ English language testing, conversation starters from friends, my washed car, my t-shirt quilt, and the house on Georgetown that kept their Christmas decor up until March

#31-  Taking 20 students to a Pacers game!

#31- Taking 22 students to a Pacers game!

#32-  Laughing and enjoying a great dinner with my Indy Mom, Sheilah

#32- Laughing and enjoying a great dinner with my Indy Mom, Sheilah

#33-  Extending the fun into March with a weekend at home with my parents, sisters, and their families.  I love being an aunt.

#33- Extending the fun into March with a weekend at home with my parents, sisters, and their families. I love being an aunt.


…and now there are 4!

You may recall my newest niece’s newborn photos from summer and her lovely family’s photos from last spring.  Now I’m thrilled to bring you Betty’s six-month photos, as well as photos of the four kids together.  One thing is for sure, my siblings make really beautiful children.  I absolutely love that I live just fifteen minutes away from these little niblings (does it count as a word if it’s in urban dictionary but not on dictionary.com?) who never fail to make me laugh and give me lots of love every time I hang out with them.  Alright, enough words, here are the little beauties!

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Yes, that is mama's arm int he background that I haven't taken the time to remove.  I think it's nice to see that she's well-supported.  :)

Yes, that is mama’s arm in the background that I haven’t taken the time to remove from the photo yet. I think it’s nice to see that the baby is well-supported. 🙂

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Winter Wonderlands

I’m sure most of you have had your fill of snow pictures over the last couple days, but I had to find something productive to do with my snow day home from teaching… so here’s my blog post of snow pictures!  🙂  Since Thanksgiving, I’ve had my share of snowy days in both Pennsylvania and Indiana.  Yesterday was a one-of-a-kind day.  Over 11 inches fell in one day here in Indianapolis before the arctic chill set in.  I took a walk over near the White River to enjoy the tree-lined snowy roads and get some photos.  It felt so strange to be all alone on these city streets.  I couldn’t help but marvel at how beautiful it all was.  God made a lot of beauty in this world.  I enjoyed the beauty yesterday and today I’m enjoying (and feeling very grateful for) the invention of electricity and heat to keep me warm inside in this -9 degree weather!  In stark contrast to my last blog post, I give you the recent winter wonderlands I’ve experienced:

Thanksgiving weekend in Western Pennsylvania

Thanksgiving weekend in Western Pennsylvania

Christmastime in Western Pennsylvania

Christmastime in Western Pennsylvania

A snowy day in Western PA

A snowy day in Western PA

My parents' backyard in PA in the new year.

My parents’ backyard in PA in the new year.

Love the shimmery snow.

Love the shimmery snow.

On my drive out of town on the road I grew up on.

On my drive out of town on the road I grew up on.

Western Pennsylvania is such a beautiful place. :)

Western Pennsylvania is such a beautiful place. 🙂

Back in Indianapolis- The infamous snow of January 5.  Here is a  view from my patio in the midst of it all.

Back in Indianapolis- The infamous snow of January 5. Here is a view from my patio in the midst of it all.

View from my patio.

View from my patio.

Walking toward the river.

Walking toward the river.

A hill!  Hard to come by here in Indy.

A hill! Hard to come by here in Indy.

A tree canopy- going closer to the river.

A tree canopy- going closer to the river.

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One of my favorites from the day.

One of my favorites from the day.

The White River- I have to say it wasn't quite as picturesque as I'd imagined, but beautiful to see, nonetheless.

The White River- I have to say it wasn’t quite as picturesque as I’d imagined, but beautiful to see, nonetheless.

White River

White River

The trek back to my place

The trek back to my place

I was drenched with snow by this point.

I was drenched with snow by this point.

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I obviously couldn't get enough of these tree-lined roads.  They're one of my favorite things.

I obviously couldn’t get enough of these tree-lined roads. They’re one of my favorite things.

And one last shot with a pop of color.

And one last shot with a pop of color.


Panama

When I went to visit my friend Ali in Costa Rica in October, we took a side trip to Panama, a country I hadn’t been to before.  We walked across a rickety bridge and caught a taxi to another part of the coast to get a water taxi to Bocas del Toro.  Bocas del Toro are islands northeast of Panama where Christopher Columbus visited in 1502.  We stayed on the main island called Isla Colón and we were able to take some tours and water taxis around to other nearby islands.  It was a great, relaxing adventure.  Here are a few highlights from our fun time!

The first night on the island- we took advantage of the hammocks at our hotel and took in the sunset.

The first night on the island- we took advantage of the hammocks at our hotel and took in the sunset.

The view from our hotel's pier.

The view from our hotel’s pier.

There were kids playing under the hut next door.

There were kids playing under the hut next door.

I couldn't get enough of this view!

I couldn’t get enough of this view!

We went to the other side of the island and walked to Starfish Beach.  It was a gorgeous day!

We went to the other side of the island and walked to Starfish Beach. It was a gorgeous day!

Starfish Beach (Playa de las estrellas) delivered!

Starfish Beach (Playa de las estrellas) delivered!

Not a bad way to spend the afternoon!

Not a bad way to spend the afternoon!

On the walk back.

On the walk back.

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The busito ride back to the main town.

The busito ride back to the main town.

On an uninhabited island enjoying Playa Zapatilla.  It felt like Castaway!

On an uninhabited island enjoying Playa Zapatilla. It felt like Castaway!

Sad that visiting this island ended up being on a rainy day.  It was still a great spot to visit!

Sad that visiting this island ended up being on a rainy day. It was still a great spot to visit!

This was how I spent the last afternoon there.

This was how I spent the last afternoon there.

Taking a water taxi to the neighboring island for dinner.

Taking a water taxi to the neighboring island for dinner.

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Pulling up to the pier- the restaurant is on the right.

Pulling up to the pier- the restaurant is on the right.

Celebrating Ali's birthday with a fun dinner out.  I loved that we took a boat to get there!  :)

Celebrating Ali’s birthday with a fun dinner out. I loved that we took a boat to get there! 🙂

The water taxi ride back to the mainland.

The water taxi ride back to the mainland.


Costa Rica- October 2013

It’s Christmas break from teaching, which means I get to catch up on my blog posts!  I had the fantastic opportunity to go to Costa Rica over my fall break in October and visit my friend Ali, who lives just outside of San Jose.  Here are some photos from my time there.  It was so fun to see some of the sights of the area and to see Ali’s life in action.  We finished the trip with a fun trip to Panama, which I’ll post about soon.

The fantastic view of San Jose from Ali's place.

The fantastic view of San Jose from Ali’s place.

On the drive up the mountain to the Poas Volcano.

On the drive up the mountain to the Poas Volcano.

The walk up to the volcano which was sadly covered by clouds the whole time we were up there.  :)

The walk up to the volcano which was sadly covered by clouds the whole time we were up there. 🙂

Love the details on this leaf!

Love the details on this leaf!

What the leaf looks like when it's not spread out.

What the leaf looks like when it’s not spread out.

At the La Paz Waterfall Gardens

At the La Paz Waterfall Gardens

A toucan at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens

A toucan at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Hummingbirds at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.  Those creatures are not easy to capture in photos!

Hummingbirds at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Those creatures are not easy to capture in photos!

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The park by the national theater in San Jose.

The park by the national theater in San Jose.

The National Theater in San Jose.

The National Theater in San Jose.

Inside the national theater in San Jose.

Inside the national theater in San Jose.

Puerto Viejo- checking out a Costa Rican beach before we headed into Panama.

Puerto Viejo- checking out a Costa Rican beach before we headed into Panama.


Little Betty

Here’s another outdated post!  Remember this beautiful family?  Well, they’ve added another adorable child and they’ve given me another niece to love!  I’m no newborn photography expert, but when my brother and his wife had a new baby, I had to try my hand at capturing her beauty.  Here are some photos of newborn Betty taken back in August.  She’s grown a bit since these photos.  Enjoy!

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Aussie word differences

Hello there!

The return to teaching has put photo posting on hold for a bit, but I did want to check in and say hello.  While I was in Australia last month, I kept a list of words and phrases that I noticed as being different from the way we talk in the U.S.  I’ve already forgotten what a few of them mean.  I thought it might be fun to share the list here.  Feel free to correct any mistakes or add to the list in the comments section!

  1. Running writing- cursive
  2. Excursion – Field trip
  3. Maths- Math
  4. Lego- Legos
  5. Overtake- Pass
  6. That’s ok- You’re welcome
  7. Wally- Waldo
  8. Baddies, meanies, goodies- Bad guys, good guys
  9. Wind screen- Windshield
  10. Jumper- Sweater/sweatshirt
  11. Dummy- Pacifier
  12. Cot- Crib
  13. Pram- Stroller
  14. Nappies- Diapers
  15. Duna- Comforter
  16. Dobbing- Tattling
  17. Whinge- Whine
  18. Slice- Cookie bars
  19. Tick- Check mark
  20. Made redundant- Layed-off
  21. Postie- Postal worker
  22. Sook- ?
  23. Packing up- Putting away
  24. Drink driving- Drunk driving
  25. Needles- Vaccines
  26. Capsules- Infant Carseats
  27. Good on you- Good job
  28. Windy- Gassy
  29. Arvo- Afternoon
  30. Brekky- Breakfast
  31. Cuppa- Cup of tea
  32. Bin- Trash can
  33. Textas- Markers
  34. Yabbies- ?
  35. Love heart- Heart
  36. Macca’s- McDonald’s
  37. Capsicum- Peppers
  38. Vegemite- really strong flavored yeast spread
  39. Pavlova- Delicious meringue dessert
  40. Prawn- shrimp
  41. Chuck a sickie- Take a sick day
  42. Sunnies- Sunglasses
  43. Caravan park- Trailer park
  44. Suss- ?
  45. Shouted- ?
  46. Bush-walking- Hiking
  47. Sultanas- Raisins
  48. Fringe- Bangs
  49. Scrum- Rugby huddle
  50. Try- Rugby touchdown
  51. Piggy in the middle- Monkey in the middle
  52. PowerPoint- Electrical outlet
  53. How you going?- How are you?
  54. Physio- Physical Therapist
  55. Torch- Flashlight
  56. Salvos- Salvation Army
  57. A lead- Leash
  58. Health cover- Health insurance
  59. Barrack- Cheer for
  60. Fairy floss- Cotton candy
  61. Hundreds and thousands- Sprinkles
  62. Fairy bread- bread, butter, & sprinkles
  63. Uni- University
  64. Infants- Primary grades
  65. Supper- Tea
  66. Footpaths- Sidewalks
  67. H (pronounced hache)- H (pronounced a-ch)
  68. Pokies- Gambling game
  69. Cruzy- ?
  70. Plaits- braids
  71. Zed- Z
  72. Serviettes- Napkins
  73. Kindie- Kindergarten
  74. Singlet- Undershirt
  75. Petrol- Gas
  76. Toilet- Bathroom
  77. Lounge room- Living room
  78. Coriander- Cilantro
  79. Hire- Rent
  80. Caught out- ?
  81. Boot- Trunk
  82. Tip- Tag
  83. Indicator/ blinker- Turn signal
  84. Pegs- ?
  85. Telly- TV
  86. Ta- Thank you
  87. G’day- Hi

And here are some words they use more often than we do:

  • Swap
  • Heaps
  • Nearly
  • Keen
  • Whilst
  • Sorted
  • Muck it up
  • As
  • Gorgeous
  • Cheeky

UPDATE:

After posting this the first time, my sister filled in some of the holes I left.

Sook – wimp
Suss – figure (as in suss it out)
Yabbies – crayfish/crabs
Shout – pay for (as in “my shout”)
Crusie – easy
Pegs – clothes pins

And because no post is complete without a photo- here’s a throw-back photo that I rediscovered from my trip to Australia three years ago.  It was taken at a park in Toowoomba.

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I have lots of amazing photos to post in the next few weeks.  Stop by again soon!


The Blue Mountains, Australia

On Wednesday the whole crew (my sister and brother-in-law, their kids, my brother and sister-in-law, and I) went to the Blue Mountains, located west of Sydney.  It was a gorgeous day and the kids did great!  We had a morning tea picnic before hiking down for a view of Wentworth Falls.  Then we had a delicious lunch, play in a park in Leura, and we made it to Echo Point just in time to see the sunset on The Three Sisters formation.  Enjoy the photos!

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Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

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The quaint little town of Leura where we stopped for lunch.

The quaint little town of Leura where we stopped for lunch.

The Three Sisters at Echo Point

The Three Sisters at Echo Point

The Three Sisters at Echo Point

The Three Sisters at Echo Point- proof that we weren’t the only ones there.

Echo Point

Echo Point

Not sure what kind of bird those are...

Not sure what kind of bird those are…

Echo Point

Echo Point

Loved seeing The Three Sisters at sunset!

Loved seeing The Three Sisters at sunset!

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Three Sisters with the Three Sisters!  :)

Three Sisters with the Three Sisters! 🙂

Three siblings with the Three Sisters

Three siblings with the Three Sisters

And finally, the whole crew at Echo Point

And finally, the whole crew at Echo Point


Iconic Sydney

On Monday, my brother, sister-in-law and I took three of our nephews down to Circular Quay to explore the Sydney Harbour Bridge/Opera House/Botanic Gardens area.  We dealt with the bright midday sun for photos of these iconic sights, but I thought I’d share them anyway. The highlight of the day for my nephews happened during our picnic lunch.  The six of us were sitting eating our food on a hillside when all of a sudden a kookaburra swooped down right beside us and landed in front of us with a piece of ham in its mouth. My seven-year-old nephew, John, called out, “Ouch!” and held his sandwich up to us. The kookaburra had taken the piece of ham out of his sandwich that John was holding up beside him between bites! It was unbelievable! Thankfully John wasn’t hurt badly and now he has a good story to tell.  🙂

In the afternoon, my brother Lee and I did the Bridge Climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime memorable experience.  The only bad part was that I couldn’t take a camera with me, but at the same time I was forced to just take it all in and not worry about camera settings. 🙂  We had perfect weather for the trek- the sun lit up the opera house and city skyline perfectly.  It’s hard to describe how beautiful it was up there with a 360 degree view.  They gave us lots of time to drink it all in.  It was great to see the bridge construction from so many angles by climbing through it and above it.  At one point we were climbing a ladder with cars driving past on both sides of us.  The view was honestly breathtaking- the harbor out to the coast, the opera house, the city buildings and suburbs sprawling all the way out to the blue mountains.

Here are some photo highlights from the day.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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A close-up of the opera house roof tiles.

A close-up of the opera house roof tiles.

View from the Botanic Gardens

View from the Botanic Gardens

With my nephews by the opera house

With my nephews by the opera house

My brother and sister-in-law with our nephews.

My brother and sister-in-law with our nephews.

The kookaburra that stole John's ham in the tree.

The kookaburra that stole John’s ham in the tree.

Lee and I on our bridge climb.

My brother Lee and I on our bridge climb.

Walking back to the train after the climb- this was a great walkway off of Cumberland St.

Walking back to the train after the climb- this was a great walkway off of Cumberland St.

View from Circular Quay

View from Circular Quay

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Sydney at night

Sydney at night

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Just in case you haven't seen enough pics of the opera house, here's one more.  :)

Just in case you haven’t seen enough pics of the opera house, here’s one more. 🙂


Aussie Animals

G’day!

I’m finding it challenging to post much in the midst of these busy days here, but I did want to check in here on the blog.  I got my Australian animal fix last week when I went to the Koala Park with my friend Jen and her family.  Here are a few of my favorites from the day.

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There was a koala escaping from its home… I, of course, turned into paparazzi when I saw it coming our way.

Ready to make a break for it.

Ready to make a break for it.

The American's turn to pat the koala.

The American’s turn to pat the koala.

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Kangaroo time!

My turn to feed the kangaroo.

My turn to feed the kangaroo.

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An emu

An emu

And a couple wildlife shots- A Rainbow Lorikeet at my nephews' school.

And a couple wildlife shots- A Rainbow Lorikeet at my nephews’ school.

This is why I can't be a wildlife photographer- getting moving animals in focus is a challenge!  Here's one of many cockatoos that have visited the backyard.

This is why I can’t be a wildlife photographer- getting moving animals in focus is a challenge! Here’s one of many cockatoos that have visited the backyard.


Photography Club

As you may remember, I received a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant last year to study photography and go to Cambodia to capture a story through photos.  I had a wonderful experience in Cambodia, capturing pieces of its history and projects of hope for its future (scroll through these posts to see more)!  As a result of my experience there, where I had my own chance to view the world from a different perspective, I wanted to start a photography club at the school where I teach.  With the help of a fellow teacher and friend, Mrs. Tsu, we worked with a group of ten fifth and sixth grade ESL students to help them view the world differently through photography.

We were really thankful to all the people who contributed cameras, batteries, and memory cards to help supply our crew.  We had a great time getting to know these kids from the U.S., Burma, Mexico, and Iran.  We challenged them to look around their school and home for things that represented beautiful, ugly, shapes, shadows, reflections, candids, and portraits.  It was really fun that I was able to use some of my photos and stories from my experience in Cambodia to guide their photography.  At the end-of-the-school-year program, Mrs. Tsu put together a great slideshow of pictures the students took, as well as some of them in action as photographers.  The students also chose their favorite photo to have framed and displayed at the program.  Below are some highlights from our club and display.

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It was really fun to share some of my photos from my trip to Cambodia with the students to help guide their photo-taking.

It was really fun to share some of my photos from my trip to Cambodia with the students to help guide their photo-taking.

It was great to share some of my Cambodia photos with the students!

It was great to share some of my Cambodia photos with the students!

Here is part of the display of students' (plus a couple from my trip) photos at the school program.

Here is part of the display of students’ (plus a couple from my trip) photos at the school program.

Here is part of the display of students' (plus a couple from my trip) photos at the school program.

Here is part of the display of students’ (plus a couple from my trip) photos at the school program.

Some of our photography club students enjoying the slideshow of their photos.

Some of our photography club students enjoying the slideshow of their photos.

They had a great time showing their photos to family and friends after the program!

They had a great time showing their photos to family and friends after the program!