Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Copious Amounts of Coffee Needed

Returning to the reality and all it entails is not always the most desirable choice. But nonetheless, it's what helps pay the bills and it's what must be done.

Good think I love my job so much. Truly & honestly. I may not always like the politics or the behaviors or the antics of some things it entails, but when it comes down to it ----- I really love what I do.  There is nothing that makes me feel better than when a student realizes they CAN do it!

So I've returned from senior trip #13!  Wow. I am humbled that the kids still line up to sign up. I'm amazed that this crazy, hair brained idea that came from an email in 2002 led to our 1st trip in 2003 and is still going strong! I love when the new chaperones who go on this trip and experience it, see what it means to the seniors.

That's some good stuff.

Our trip began last Friday morning with a bus ride to the airport an hour away with 37 seniors and 4 chaperones. We were in Orlando by 3 and at the Grad Nite event at Busch Gardens in Tampa by 7:30pm.

Lots of screams and lots of laughs until we had no voices left, that is what the 4 chaperones did at least. Not sure of the kids.  

Still going strong at 12:45am......
We left the park at 2am & headed back to Orlando for a few hours sleep.

Saturday was a full day at SeaWorld - more rides, more screaming, but actually a beautiful day with lots of memories made!

Sunday - MY day.  The BEST day, in my opinion, when I get to do this...
Sit on the beach and chaperone!  Yeah baby!  Now we're talking.  It didn't take the other chaperone's long to figure out why I end the trip with this day. The kids are so sunburned and waterlogged by the end of the day - they are barely able to function.  

Yes, there IS a method to my madness! Not my 1st rodeo people, giddy-up!
So I would like you to meet 37 of my newest, closest friends.  Every year is different.  Every class is different. But by the end of the trip I've gotten closer to those I already knew and I've made connections with those I didn't know so well. 

This is what it is all about. Making memories for these kids that will last a lifetime. Rewarding them with this trip to celebrate 13 years of hard work. 

Did I tell you how much I really love my job??

And today ---- back in the trenches, back to the routine, back to "normal" - whatever that may be!

"I began to realize how important it was to be enthusiastic in life.  If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, GO at it full speed!  Embrace i with both arms, Hug it, love it, & above all become passionate about it!  Luke is no good!!"  Roald Dahl

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meet & Greet with Rachel

I'm here to introduce you to my next senior model - Rachel!
Rachel is currently one of my students at G-A High School.  Home of the Rams. 

She comes across kind of quiet and shy, but I'm here to tell ya.  She's anything but that!  In fact, if there were one word to describe her it would be ~~ outgoing!
Rachel has plans to go on to a community college after high school, but in the mean time, she is loving her high school life.

She is on our Varsity Bowling Team.  Did you know she actually qualified for State this year? She was our 1st female bowler to go that far in the season.

She loves to help her class out during homecoming & snowcoming events, whether it be float building or making posters - you'll find her in the middle of it all.

She has a style about her that can go from dress up girl......
...to down right casual and comfy.

I, personally, had the privilege of doing her family's photo shoot last fall. What an energetic family - and Rachel is right in the middle of it all. She has 3 older sisters & at the time, 3 nephews.  Family means everything to Rachel & it's very apparent that they all feel the same about each other.  They are loyal to the core, no doubt!

Rachel loves being outdoors, whether it be shootin some hoops, fishing or just hanging outside with her nephews, she's happiest in the elements of the world that surround her.
Don't ya love those boots? She couldn't do the photo shoot without them, in fact, she had just gone out THAT very morning to buy them!  Even I fell in love with them & thought about just for a moment, going out & buying a pair.

But then I came to my senses.

In her free time, if she ever has any, she & her friends like to go to the mall, watch movies & go to the park.  I know as well, she loves to hang with her little nephews too.  Did I already mention that?

Oh yeah, I did, but that just tells you how much her family means to her.
Rachel's other hobbies include art & music ------ and eating pineapple.  She likes most fruits, you know, apples & such, but she LOVES pineapple.  This cracks me up.  I have a list of questions I give my senior model to answer to help me introduce them to you.  One of the questions is: "what's your favorite food?"

Pineapple. So random, yet so Rachel. 

Rachel - I wish you well in your final year of high school and as you move on to college. I know with your bubbly personality & strong work ethics, you are going to be a great success!

Thank you for being a senior model for me - for helping be a guinea pig to launch this new endeavor for me!

"Art is you being free from all of the world's heaviness"             unknown

***I am looking for 2 more senior models in the Kalamazoo and/or Battle Creek area.  If you or anyone you know might be interested, please leave a comment below or post a message on my facebook wall @ patti.g.photography***

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Good rainy Monday morning to you all!

After such a beautiful week last week & amazing weekend, it's kind of hard to face colder temps & gray skies.  But what's the saying?  April showers bring May flowers??
Plus - I'm leaving for Florida on Friday with my high school seniors for our annual senior class trip!

Yes!  Four days in the sun, having fun and making lots of memories with these kiddos is one of the highlight's of every school year for me! All the drama & headaches & planning just wash away when we get on that plane and head south. The memories made & the walls that are broken down while on this trip are amazing. It never ceases to amaze me the "magic" this trip creates between these kids.

This past weekend prepped me for the trip - sunny skies all day Friday & Saturday, with temps reaching into the 70s on both days, gave this mama time to sit out on the patio & soak it all in while reading a good book.

But I did do some work! I had a Baby Bump photo shoot on Saturday afternoon with a great couple who are expecting their 1st baby in about 4 weeks, along with the grandparents & auntie & uncle AND the canine brother & cousin. Too fun. 

This family are good friends of ours from church too - so we all headed to the local mexican restaurant to fill our bellies & then on to our house for the Inaugural 2015 Bonfire and dessert and just time to relax, laugh & enjoy the spring night.

Sunday was spent in church and then home to work on some of my photo's, take my Sunday afternoon nap like all good Dutch girls were taught to do while growing up & then a cook out, albeit in the rain, with D&S1. In spite of the rain, it still tasted good - dogs & brats, fresh cole slaw, pasta salad & corn on the cob. 

D1 & I even experimented with a pin from my Pinterest board that I recently came across:
Oh these were so YUMMY!  Cookie Butter 4 ingredient mug cakes.  Click on that link and give it a try.  You will not regret it, I promise!  Eat it warm with vanilla ice cream, whip cream & a bit of chocolate syrup drizzle.

So here we are - into our final full week of April. Much to do in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by - have an amazing day!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Good morning everyone!

So - I'm back.

Back from a spectacular week in the PNW with my chilluns.  This mama's heart is full for a while, especially since in only about 44 days, they will both be returning to the Mitten for a weddin.

Their weddin.

Yep, the time is approaching quickly now & it's time to get down to bizness. 

But in the meantime, let me share a little more of our past week together.

If you hung around here at all last week, you know that Monday & Tuesday were fairly low key & included a trip to the Public Market downtown.

Wednesday was a big day. It was a beautiful, sunny, clear, calm day and we headed about 30 minutes north to Port Edmond where we boarded the Annie A & headed out on Puget Sound.

Captain Michael had reports there were 2 gray whales quite a ways north & was hoping our travels wouldn't take us that far. But they did.

Along the way we spotted these 2 guys & a little lady...
The big guy hanging across the back is a Stellar Seal. He just hung out quietly, not moving anything but his head. The little one in the front in a female California Sea Lion & that's her boyfriend, sitting up next to her.

He was sure to let us know, loud & clear, that we were disturbing their little afternoon nap in the sunshine.

Not much further down the beach from where these creatures were hanging out - we spotted a bald eagle up in the evergreens.
This picture is quite blurry as I wasn't able to get a decent shot with the boat moving, along with rocking.  I tried, but it just didn't happen.
There were many beautiful homes along the shoreline of Whidbey Island that we were moving past, but this one caught my eye in particular.  It's an old train car converted into a cabin/cottage. I can only begin to imagine what the inside looks like. I would LOVE to see it.

We continued north, spotting a sea harbor swimming along and we headed northwest around the island towards Saratoga Passage.  Dream Boy & I rode on the top deck of the boat with Captain Michael, learning a lot from him about the surrounding area.

As we rounded the island, off in the distance, Dream Boy pointed out to the Captain that he thought he saw something, as in a spout of water/spray.  The Captain said he very well may have as that was about where his reports had told him the sightings were before we left the dock.  We continued moving northwest for another 10-15 minutes when Dream Boy pointed out again what he thought were water spouts.

Sure enough - the Captain continued watching & within minutes was jumping around all excited, heading to the cabin below to check his depth finder & yelling back at us as he climbed down the ladder, "you were RIGHT!"

He sound joined us again and as we got closer to the point we could all see the water spouts.

Captain Mike said he knew there were at least 2 whales here, and they were in about 400 feet of water.  As we approached them, they continued to blow water spouts and soon started heading closer to shore,
where we could clearly see them surfacing.  They were about 35 - 40 feet in length.
One of them eventually brought her tail up & the Captain was able to identify her as #22. There is an area research center that has been tracking the whales since 1991 and because of the markings on the tail, they have come to know them well.

Captain Michael was beside himself as they continued to show themselves to us as they approached the shore.  See how close we are?
He said that they will go into the shallows and start rolling on their sides, using their pectoral fins to scoop and dig up shrimp from the bottom.  Gray whales do not have a dorsal fin, just a spiney back that kind of looks like knuckles on the back of your hand.
As they got closer to shore, sure enough, they started to roll & you could see their fins popping up.

Then it happened.  

They became curious of us and starting swimming right up to the boat. Captain Michael was in awe. He has done fishing excursions for several years & this is only his 2nd year of whale watching tours and he could NOT believe how close they were coming to the boat.

So close that they really wanted to get a good look at us and both did what he referred to as a "Spy Hop"....

They were right next to us & came up to peak on us & check us out.

Everyone on the boat was so excited!  But I think Captain Michael took the trophy home for excitement. He was (1) so relieved that our trip was not wasted (2) beyond giddy that they were SO closed & actually surfaced as they did (3) more than excited to tell us there were THREE more whales behind us across the passage.

So as these 2 whales headed back out to the depths, we headed across the passage to catch up on the other 3 that were very close to shore as well, feeding.

But as we approached, they started to swim back out towards us, spouting off.  We happened to be down wind of this one.
Whale breath.  

Oh my.  We thought Captain Michael was joking around about "whale breath" until we got a whiff of it. Let's just say, they are very comparable to what LtWD and any other dog smell like when they pass wind.

The smell would not go away as they kept spouting off, one and another.  Apparently it's the smell from the decaying shrimp in their bellies.
These 3 didn't give as great a show as the 1st two, but as they were heading back out into the deeper water, this one surfaced enough to catch a glimpse of the big white patch on his backside.

Captain Michael immediately knew that this was "Patch" and that he's been in the Puget Sound since 1991.  Whales can live up to 70 years or so old.

We started to head back to the Port and arrived just as this spectacular sunset was happening.
Five and a half hours on the Sound and one amazing afternoon!

Thursday dawned to be just as beautiful a day and we spent the afternoon touring the countryside and a local winery & distillery.

That evening, S2 & D2B2 took us over to West Seattle for dinner.  I made S2 pull over so I could get a shot of the Seattle Skyline across Elliott Bay.
The night was so beautiful that most of the restaurants along the beach had their patio's open and everyone was out on the walking/biking trail taking full advantage of the sun & warm temps.

After dinner, we walked along the shore as well and captured a few more pics as we were waiting for nightfall.
We drove around the shoreline and soon headed uphill. Literally - it was a climb beyond climbs.

We reached the highest point where there was a look out with an amazing view of the Seattle Skyline, but as Dream Boy & I got out to take pics, we were overcome with the sickly sweet aroma of Mary-Joo-Wanna.  

Holy Smokes Batman! 

It is legal to smoke the leaf in Washington & apparently the night time sport is to hang out at the local parks & light it up.

So we had S2 head back down hill where I was able to get this shot:
a beautiful night view of a very busy city.

Friday night found us fixing dinner at home and heading out in the pouring rain, (yes, it DID rain while in Seattle), to Molly Moon's homemade ice cream shop for dessert.

Saturday sent us back home on an afternoon flight & we were home by midnight with a puppy dog who was MORE than excited to see us!

Sunday we laid low - adjusting back to the time change.  I slept in quite late, as did Dream Boy, for him at least.  It was a beautiful day here in the Mitten and the weather is promising to be even better as the week progresses.

So thank you for stopping by & sharing your morning coffee with me.  I know this was a little longer than the normal post - but I had so much to share with you all!

Have a beautiful week.