Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

How was your weekend everyone?

It was a hot, muggy, slow paced weekend for us - a wonderful way to spend a summer weekend.  The muggy, not so much, but it was tolerable.

Friday I had a full day off from school - a very much needed day to spend at the speed I like. Slow and relaxed. 

The Wonder Dog & I rolled out of bed around 8am and spent time sipping a cup of joe, reading blogs & writing a new post on my own, doing some banking and then heading to the dock. A whole lot of down time after a week that wound me up pretty tight.

And today I head off to my 2nd week of summer school with the hopes that things will settle down and the students will work harder towards succeeding and completion of their courses.

But in the meantime, I will hold these memories close at heart to get me through anything that may come my way this week.
This girl LOVES her dock time. I took Lucy along with me as well and spent time documenting our afternoon. I laid low, literally, sneaking shots of her from underneath the chair, so she would remain as natural as possible. She hates the camera for the most part. She will turn away from me, go off & pout and shun it almost every time. There are only certain times she will cooperate and it's always on her terms.

I spent some time trying to capture some different angles, including me in the shot - but timing isn't everything. Libbi stood by my side waiting to see what I was trying to do, and then just standing there staring into the water waiting for me to resurface.
As you can see - I jumped a little too soon. I was trying to capture myself jumping, fully expressing my joy for the lazy days of summer. But.....I need to work on that angle a little more.  

No problem.

Friday night was spent relaxing on the patio before finally heading in to scrounge up some dinner. I had just completed a big salad for dinner when our friend texted us that he & his wife were home. She had her 1st round of chemo that day and they were just enjoying some time out on their deck watching the lake.  These are the friends who so graciously let LtWD & I invade their dock all summer long. 

So Dream Boy picked up the phone & asked if they had eaten dinner yet, to which they replied no, so we packed up the salad and a bottle of wine & headed over to eat together. Our friend is being very positive about her 18 weeks of treatment and we are praying constantly for both of them and their family as this journey has just begun and will be a long, tough road. 

Saturday morning I woke up & packed up my camera gear, heading out for a mini session with a lovely little family of 3. The mom was one of my former students and I was honored to be at the birth of their little boy last October, capturing the event for them. 

Well, the little guy is now 8 months old and completely stole my heart all over again.
How stinking cute is this little man??

He was fantastic during our whole session and played along with every little scenario we put him in ...... and it didn't hurt that I bought a giant balloon to capture his attention either!
That balloon was best thing ever. I would clip it to my back so when I took shots of the whole family, this little man would be totally absorbed with watching the balloon floating behind my head.

Just a great way to spend a Saturday morning. My heart was full after spending time with this little family, they just amaze me at all the life they are building together.

After leaving them, I headed off to run some errands and then returned home. I downloaded the pics from the morning shoot and am having the best time working through all of them. The hard part is going to be when they have to choose their 10 digital images that come with a mini session. Not gonna be easy, even if I say so myself.

Sunday was a cloudy, overcast kind of day. We were in line for some possible rough storms in the afternoon, but they never materialized. We got some rain as we were leaving church, but by the time we got out of breakfast, it had stopped. It was very humid for most of the afternoon, but thankfully there was a beautiful breeze blowing. So I spent some time outside reading, a favorite past time that I am enjoying to its fullest this summer!

And now here we are, back to Monday. I'm not sure what adventures this week holds, but I plan on enjoying each day to its fullest and just fully living in the moment of each adventure.

Have a great day - thanks for spending a bit of your day with me.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer Lovin'

I'm taking full advantage of the easy living that comes with summer. The days are longer & life doesn't seemed so rushed. Life seems more relaxed and any stress I've encountered has been easily washed away.

We eat dinner on the patio pretty much every night, giving us time to enjoy the sounds of nature and company of each other. Time to talk and enjoy and just be together.
Even the Wonder Dog is loving the slower pace of summer. She would NOT get out of bed yesterday.

Me? Well, I did have to get up and head in for summer school, but the fact that I'm getting up a 1/2 hour after I am normally at school during the year is wonderful!

This first week of summer school has been challenging. I don't ever recall coming into my 1st week and having to deal with issues as early on as I am this year.  Never does a summer session go by without a little drama and stress, but usually not in the 1st week.

So what does a girl do? She loads up the kayak and heads to the lake. This particular kayak trip is special as I was meeting up with some friends who were borrowing kayaks to try it out & see how their daughter might handle the adventure before buying them for themselves.
I arrived to the lake about a 1/2 hour before the rest of the crew, so I had time to paddle around on my own and just enjoy the quiet, the sounds of the birds, the laughter of the kids on the distant beach and the lapping of the water against the sides of my boat.
The stress of the week literally melted off my shoulders into the depths of the lake. I can't even tell you how much a day on the water rejuvenates my mind & spirit. 

I am a water girl - no doubt. Which is weird, because my mom couldn't swim & didn't get in the water all that often. She did like going to the beach, but her toes would stay planted in the sand. My dad liked swimming, but it just wasn't something our family did on a regular basis. 

do remember summer nights that were so hot & the house was stifling. These were nights that my dad would come home and we would load up the station wagon with towels and snacks. My sister & I would don our swimsuits, my little sister wasn't born yet, and we would head to a local lake. But first we would stop at the little drive in on the way for a quick burger. 

We would head up to the public beach and spend an hour or so just loving the cooling waters and the late summer night. If mom hadn't packed snacks, we would stop at the ice cream parlor on the way home for a very special treat.

Perfect summer night!

Just as yesterday was a perfect summer afternoon. We spent over 3 hours just paddling, floating, laughing & playing on the water.
This little would scream like a girl making you think she was terrified, but in all actuality, she was loving every single moment on the water & climbing from boat to boat. 

My kayak is more slender and tippy and you would never think of climbing in & out of it as they were able with these kayaks. Perfect for a family with little kids.
There is absolutely NO family resemblance here, is there?  Ha - funny! Talk about a mini me, attitude and actions are major likenesses in these 2!
We had a wonderful time on the water and I went home, after a stop for ice cream with everyone at our local ice cream shop of course, refreshed & relaxed. Even the phone call I got from my principal after I got home did not ruin the rest of my evening! 

Today is Friday. My day off and it's a beautiful one so far! I have plans with my Wonder Dog to hit the dock this afternoon! We haven't been there since Memorial Day weekend as we've been busy with trying to adventures so far this summer. 

Guess I better get rolling and finish up some business so my pooch & I can take advantage of the day!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Oooooooohhhhmmmm.........Finding My Center

I'm finishing up my first week of summer school today. It's been a stressful one, to say the least. Not my ideal start to a program designed to help kids succeed, but I continue to move forward. I'm struggling letting go of the battle I've found myself in the middle of, so I am taking myself back to my week off last week and trying to find my center.  HA!

A few weeks ago, I spent the day roaming the streets with a friend who was visiting from Portland, Oregon. We spent much of our time just meandering in & out of the local shops, talking & not really paying much attention to the goods that these quaint stores were offering.

We stepped out of a local store, called Found, and across the street was this unusual door. My friend had pointed it out earlier when we were driving by, but as we stepped out of this store, I was able to actually see it & was very curious about the set up.
This is the backside of the Emerald Dragonfly building found in Ann Arbor.  I did some searching online, but was not able to find any more information than the name. 

But notice, the door - actually 2 doors, are several feet off the ground. The one actually has a window underneath it, which is hard to see due to the car in front of it, but it is very intriguing.

Patty seemed to think this was built to accommodate the days of horse & carriage & that the delivery vehicle could pull right up to the building to unload? Sounds sensible.

We wandered for several more hours, but my camera remained in my bag as we continued to get caught up on our lives since it's been 8 years since we last saw each other.

This past week I took my Wonder Dog out to the local state park where she had a glorious hour romping in & out of the lake. 

My girl really knows how to make this mama's heart happy. There is a whole lot to say for therapy dogs. She's not trained or specialized in being a therapy dog, yet she knows exactly what to do to make me smile.

This particular day was her 10th birthday. She is finally starting to show her age, sad to say, but she - like me, has a mind that tells her she is still much younger. But then, her body reminds her after the fun is over that she IS not that young. 

It doesn't stop her though and I need to take my lead from her more often.
We had a curious encounter from one of the resident swans who swam in to watch our play date. He never advanced too close, but swam in close enough to decide if we had plans on moving any further out into the open waters beyond.

My girl swam for a while before she even notice the visitor.......she was curious, but she sensed that the swan was not approachable. When I threw her tube in, she would not swim any further than retrieving it, letting the swan fill it's curious mind. 
Once Mr. Swan's curiousity was satisfied, he turned and lifted off in all of his white splendor and grace. He flew ever so silently, the wind moving through his wings with power, covering the expanse of the lake in a matter of seconds. He settled in the reeds on the far side of the lake, maybe to tell all his friends & family that the white beast on the other side of the lake was just enjoying a romp in the water with her master, celebrating her birthday!
Libbi and I spent another 15 or 20 minutes just enjoying our time. She was in no rush to run in & out of the water, chasing her tube. Rather, she enjoyed wading in the shallows and occasionally laying down to just relax. 
I am working harder this summer to calm my mind & spirit & enjoy the time I have sans the normal, crazy, busy schedule of a regular school year.

I am reaching towards goals of peace, of journaling my way through the summer - recording all my thoughts & adventures. This is a release that helps me work through the good, the bad & the ugly.

Just writing this post and reflecting back to just a week ago with my girl, a lake, a swan & a blue tube have helped calm my mind & soul.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning everyone!

Getting a late start with our coffee time together, but I'm charged up with my iced coffee and ready to go!

Summer school started this morning & it's always, no matter how much I prepare, chaotic. It didn't help that they ran updates on my computers last week, installing Windows 10, which caused all of my plug ins to not be updated. I told them specifically to make sure that these were taken care of, but it didn't happen. So I spent the 1st 20 minutes of class running around updated Adobe Flashplayer and bypassing JavaScript for all of them.

But things are moving along now, a few no shows, a few phone calls to make & the learning can continue!

Last week was my "summer vacation" until the end of August and I spent it relaxing, reading and reveling in my time off.

My Wonder Dog turned 10 on Tuesday, so of course I took her swimming. We tried a new swimming hole and she loved it. Oh, the dock days will be happening soon - have you seen the forecast for Michigan this week? But I wanted to treat her to something new. Come back later this week for a post on our adventure.

I went to a movie one morning with some friends and then spent the afternoon with my niece retaking her senior model pics. We had a blast - that post will follow soon as well!

Friday - my favorite day of every summer, dawned bright, sunny & hot! Perfect beach weather. Yep, my nieces & I met up & headed to the shoreline of Lake Michigan for the day. 
We went to Van Buren State Park for the day. Even though we had to fight off the flies and Japanese Beetles for some reason, we had a wonderful day & came home relaxed, refreshed and maybe just a tad sunburned. We did use our sunscreen though!  We have been celebrating the summer together for several years now - the 1st Friday we are out of school. Although Dani now works & is in college, she took the day off so we could continue our tradition.

Friday night Dream Boy & I headed up to Grand Rapids for dinner with his aunt, uncle and all their kids! We were invited to their birthday dinner celebration which they do once a month to celebrate all the birthday's in that month together. It was a wonderful time together and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of them as it has been a few years since we last were together at his aunt & uncle's 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

Saturday was a hot one! But we spent the afternoon with our church family at our yearly picnic! How many churches still host picnics? I think it's a dying tradition, but a fun one. Talk about food -! Is there anything better than a potluck with a bunch of Dutchmen?  Well, most of them are Dutch, and they all know how to cook and share the bounty!
Dream Boy was one of the grill masters for the day. What a hot job though!
Fellowship - what a wonderful word! Lots & lots of fellowship was shared over food & drink.

And what's a church picnic without games? The kids here are digging for "gold" - there was plenty of change hidden deep in this sandbox.  Last I knew, the little girl in the blue shirt was up $10+ with her hidden treasure!
What technique! Yep - an old fashioned egg toss was played and these 2 guys won the 1st round and a cherry pie!

I'd say it was a successful afternoon and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.  Dream Boy & I bowed out gracefully when they started offering hay rides - too hot. So instead, we opted for a boat ride with our older kiddo's and enjoyed an amazing sunset on the lake.
Since our whole family was together last weekend, Dream Boy considered that his "official" Father's Day. But that didn't stop us from celebrating him on Sunday.

After church, S&D1 and my mom-in-law met up with us for breakfast and we had a great time together at a quaint little restaurant downtown that is becoming a new favorite of ours. We enjoyed a wonderful meal together before we all headed off in separate directions, but what a lovely time we had together as a family.

Next door to this restaurant is a very old, well established "book" store. It's the Michigan News Agency and it has been in existence since 1947. They have every imaginable magazine publication you can think of and a large book selection! I love to go in there for books because they focus on the local and the unusual. I picked up 2 new summer reads, both based on Michigan. Of course, I dug into the 1st one yesterday afternoon and am loving it. It's called, "In the Shadow of the Bear: A Michigan Memoir" written by Jim McGavran and is about The Sleeping Bear Dunes area and his family vacations there growing up. There is some history involved, but his format of story telling is very intriguing.

Yesterday afternoon, Dream Boy & I headed downtown for one of our 1st summer concerts in the park. We enjoyed the music of the Kalamazoo Concert Band. I always find them very entertaining and love the variation of music they play.

So that brings us to this morning - summer school. 

Yep, 'nuf said.

So thank you for taking some time out of your morning to join me for coffee. I promise to be back soon with some stories of my summer adventures! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee!

Hey there! 

Whoa - it's waaaaaaaay too early for coffee, for me anyways. It's 2:30am & I am up before the birds today as I'm on my way to Detroit with precious cargo.

S&D2 came home for an ever so quick weekend! S2 was in a wedding on Saturday. The original plan was for him to come home alone, leaving his beautiful bride in Seattle. She's in a wedding over the 4th of July weekend in Nashville, TN & he was going to stay home then. It's just so pricey for them both to be traveling all the time.

Friday morning, about this time, Dream Boy got up & headed to the Motor City to pick up the boy. I had my last day of school, so I stayed home. 

I got a call from the boy around 6:45am, just as I was leaving for school. They were in Jackson, about an hour away. The plan was for me to work my final 1/2 day of school, they were going to get home & take a shnooze before I got home & then we'd have the afternoon together before the boy had to head up to Holland for his wedding festivities.

S2 called me around noon asking when I was coming home & I told him I'd be out of there by 12:30, as I still had one student finishing her exam & I had some loose ends to finalize before I left. I ended up getting out the door by 12:15 & headed home.

I pulled the car in the garage as always & headed into the house. As I walked across the porch to the back door, I saw 2 bodies sitting at the counter & just assumed it was S2 & my Dream Boy. I walked in the door looking at my boy, and when I turned to my gaze to who I thought was Dream Boy, I then realized it was my GIRL!! I immediately ran to them, of course, with the tears streaming down my face and pulled them into my arms. I could not have been more surprised or happy! Dream Boy was standing around the corner videoing the whole thing and didn't come out until he got a good piece of footage. He has known for about 2 months that they were both coming home & they all were in on the surprise.

Can I tell you how happy this mama's been all weekend? We spent a few hours together, eating lunch on the patio & just enjoying our time before they headed off to their overnight destination.

Friday night Dream Boy & I went to 2 graduation open houses, one complete with fireworks, but both complete with major desserts! Right up Dream Boy's alley. I managed to NOT over eat at the 1st and didn't eat at all at the 2nd. 

Saturday was a hot, humid and sticky day. Thankfully there was a breeze throughout most of the day so at least the air was moving and not to stagnant. Dream Boy worked in the yard after his morning ride and I did the grocery shopping.

We had friends out for a cook out Saturday night & it was such a beautiful night, we sat out on the patio until dark. We had the greatest time visiting and just enjoying each other's company.

I stumbled across a recipe for Watermelon Margaritas, so I made pitcher up and man - oh - man, they were yummy! Hit the spot on such a warm summer's eve.

They had predicted thunderstorms, but they never materialized all weekend, but a "cold" front did push through on Saturday night, leaving Sunday to dawn cool & sunny. 

Perfect day for a family day on the boat.
Our whole afternoon was spent drifting around Gull Lake. I had packed a picnic lunch for us - so there was no where to go, nothing to do, but spend the day together and thoroughly enjoy our time!

We headed back home around 5ish, sunburned and happy! Dream Boy & I set to work on making up pizza dough for the grill & toppings. S2 had requested on Friday that we have grilled pizza's for dinner Sunday night, so that is exactly what we had.

We did a whole lot of family time, talking, laughing and plotting for our next time together, which we hope will not be as long as this last expanse of time was. D2 was also watching videos of her brand new niece, born Saturday night, that her mom & dad were sending her from Iowa. She has plans to fly back in there this weekend to meet her niece for the first time.  

So this morning came way to early, but my heart is so full of joy & love at the time we did have together. It was the best weekend I've had probably since the last weekend we were all together, which was a little over a year ago when D&S2 got married! 

Now don't get me wrong - Dream Boy & I have an amazing life & I love our weekend routines and time together, but this was just that much more amazing.

So probably by the time most of you read this, I will have made it back from D-town & will be back in my bed catching a few zzz's & the kids will be half way across the US.

Thanks for stopping by - I'll be back soon!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Monday Nightcap

Once again I find my day is closing and I haven't had time to sit down for coffee with you. So, let's have a little wine together.....or beer....or ice water.....or lemonade - choose your poison, passion!

How was your weekend everyone? Mine was crazy, crazy busy! 

For real.

I had the day off from school on Friday, sorta. I spent the morning chasing our seniors around as they paraded through the halls of our primary and middle school buildings. I put together the video that is shown every year at graduation and this year I brought it right down to the wire, catching photos of their senior breakfast & walk through on the morning of graduation!

I headed home and finalized the video, tested it out on my tv before running it to school on my way to the chiropractor. This mama had a major hitch in her git-along and it's been getting more & more painful. 

Dr. Miller had me explain to him what I was feeling & the best description was that my hip actually felt out of socket. After examine my right hip, he was in total agreement of my diagnosis. His question to me? "How the heck did you do that? It takes something pretty major to pull that off?"

To be honest, I don't have a clue. It's been bothering me off & on for 6 weeks or so, but his magic touch is helping. I may need to go back for one more adjustment though, still not fully better.

Graduation was a great event! The kids, as always, are super excited and so full of smiles, laughs & giggles. I think one of my favorite moments was when "Don't Stop Believing" came on during the senior video and they all began to sing along! When I chose that song, I had hopes they would do this, because I know how they love it!

My principal, who is a rock & does not show emotion, actually cried during her speech to the class. Which in turn, made me cry and many others. It was an awesome moment to see the depth of her devotion to our students!
Wishing this group nothing but the best in their future journey.

Saturday Dream Boy & I headed to a couple of graduation open houses before heading off to a wedding reception for the night. The bride & groom had a destination wedding last month and then hosted a cook out at their home - complete with burgers & dogs! It was just a relaxed night of sitting with friends, old & new, and a lot of reminiscing going on. 

Pure joy!

Sunday I woke up bright and early and headed off for Ann Arbor to meet up & spend the day with one of the very first people that I met on the World Wide Webernet!  We met 10 years ago through a scrapbook website, she living in California & me here. Through time, our friendship grew to include 7 other women, 2 of them from Colorado and we all were fortunate enough to meet up for a long weekend in California, at a beach house in Monterey. We had a great weekend and while 8 years have passed, a few of us still stay in touch.

Her name is Patty, but with a Y - that's how you tell us apart.
She was in Ann Arbor, about 1 1/2 hours to the east, for a Quilting Retreat. Her weekend ended Sunday morning - so we spent the day together catching up. Crazy how 8 years can pass without seeing each other, but we never ran out of things to talk about.

Dodging rain storms, we filled our afternoon with a morning treat at Zingerman's Deli. We were joined by a couple of her friends she had made at the retreat who were absolutely hilarious! After we finished eating, I followed them over to the local quilt shop while they made their final purchases before heading their separate ways.

Patty headed off with me, as I was her ride to the airport later that afternoon. We headed back into Kerrytown, down by the deli & walked around some of the local shops & then jumped into the car & managed to somehow find the peony garden at the local arboretum, which is part of the University of Michigan campus. The flowers were in full bloom, but sadly, the rain had pretty much knocked them down. But the fragrance hadn't been dampened by the rain - it smelled amazing!

We ended our afternoon at a wonderful restaurant called Sava's and spent more time just talking the time away. We soon realized we needed to head off to Detroit for her to catch her flight. Patty now lives in Portland, Oregon, so hopefully on one of my trips to see the kids in Seattle, I might be able to take a detour to Portland to visit so it isn't another 8 years before we see one another!

So here we are - Monday night! It's the last week of school & we are heading into the final days of exams. I was busy all day catching up from having Friday off & starting to post final grades, so forgive me for the late post - but you know, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, I loved spending this time with you!

Now - off to finish editing my senior model pics and graduation photos! Come back soon to see some snippets of what I've been working on!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Joy By The Ocean

On my recent trip to Florida over spring break, I had a quiet evening to myself as my friends had headed to a baseball game.

I'll take the sound of the ocean over the roar of a crowd any day.

It was my 2nd day at this destination, as we have always gone just a tad more south than here. So I grabbed Lucy & headed out just before the golden hour to explore and see what this beach had to offer that might be different than the one I am so used to that is about an hour south.

There were many a beach walker that night as it was promising to be a beautiful sunset. That always draws a crowd on a beach, doesn't it?

My walk showed signs on the beach of the Red Tide. If you've never experienced it, you will know it if you do. It's an algae bloom in the ocean and the buds send out an odorless, basically invisible pollen you might say, that can cause some pretty serious health issues if it's too big. 

The locals said this is the biggest bloom they've ever seen and it was evident by the dead fish washing ashore and the coughing on the beach all week. As the end of the week drew near, the coughing became worse. It's not a good thing to be exposed to if you have breathing issues already, such as asthma.

But nonetheless, I continued to walk and enjoy my time just watching the life going on around me. I walked fin silence while just enjoying the peace of the waves as they rolled into shore. I listened to snippets of conversations as I walked past other beach combers. I felt the excitement when a small child found a treasure on the shore and ran back to their mom to share what they had found!
And then the joy and the love and the laughter as this family of 5 played in the sunset, trying to get that ultimate shot!

I stood for awhile watching and listening to the laughter as they tried different ways to get a better jump, a better shot, a chance to capture that one special moment. 

Yes, and I took my own photos of their pure joy.

I approached them soon and asked if they'd like a picture of all of them together. Grandma said no, she would just stand to the side while they all jumped and had their fun. But I wouldn't take her no, and gently suggested she move to the center of the picture while everyone jumped around her.

She smiled shyly and moved to the middle as her daughter and granddaughters surrounded her with laughter that she was moving into the shot with them. 

They handed me their phones & I took the shots for them, showing the results and taking more until they were satisfied with what they saw.

I handed their phones back and wished them all a great week and they in turn, thanked me for taking the pictures.

As I think about that grandma, not wanting to be a part of the photo, obviously uncomfortable with the thought of trying to jump, I knew she needed to be in it in some way. So the gentle offer to include her as the rest "did their thing" around her came to my heart and mind.

I know that someday, grandma will no longer be here for them to share these special times with, and I know how much that photo will mean to her family. I know that it is a special moment for grandma to reflect on now and remember that moment in time.

As I move into the summer months, I continue to work on my photography skills, not only with the camera itself, but with the thought process that goes into each photo. I am making lists, reading ideas and making mental notes of where I want to go with my art form.

I used to shyly state that I was a photographer, not feeling that I am accomplished enough to say it out loud. But as I've been reflecting and reading through material this past week, and because of a friend who made a recent comment, I realize that I need to take ownership of what I do and boldly state that I am a photographer and a writer.

I am moving forward into this summer and working on myself, to know and accept what I am and what I do and no longer be shy about it.

Let the journey ............ continue.