Sunday, September 10, 2017

Indoor Sky Diving

We had a small party for Ian's birthday yesterday - he chose the iFly indoor skydiving facility.  To say we had a blast is an understatement.

Both kids got to bring a friend, and we each had a couple of turns "flying".  The first time was just to learn the position and to get comfortable in the position.  Leah was first up, and she did a great job just hovering.

On the second time through, an experienced dive coach came in and grabbed our suits and took us high up and around the dive tube.  The photo below is of Ian enjoying his trip up and down the dive tube.

I was luck enough to get a trip.  I figured out the hover bit fairly easy, and my trips up and down were good fun, too!

Hope all is well out there - best wishes for friends and family who chose to ride out Irma!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Braces for a birthday boy

We are getting ready for Ian to celebrate his 13th birthday.

To celebrate, we decided to get him braces.

Just kidding!  Not about the braces - take a look at the photo above compared to the first photo.  He has had his braces for about a week and a half.  He went with the clear ones on top and regular on the bottom.

Meanwhile, Christina has come for a quick visit, and while she has been here, the kids decided to dye their hair.

Hope all is well with everyone,


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Catch Up

Last weekend Catherine, Ian, and I made the trip to Wilkes-Barre, PA to watch Leah sing with the other choristers attending the Royal School of Church Music camp at King's College.  Leah made quite a few new friends and had a great time.

We stayed a couple of blocks away from the church where the choir sang. The choristers ranged in age from 12-70+ years old, and they sounded great!

They made for a very special high mass in the morning, followed later in the day by a beautiful Evensong service.

We hadn't even had Leah packed up before she asked if she could come again next year, she really enjoys singing with the choir!

Just so we are all caught up, I got up early this morning to go scout some locations to photograph this fall. This is Difficult Run, a bit inside the Great Falls National Park, another bit upstream from the Potomac.  I had this place to myself, which was nice.

That is it for now.  Hope everyone has a great day!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Quick Portraits

It has been quite some time since I broke out the camera and portrait lights, but I was feeling the itch.

Ian starts a lacrosse camp tomorrow, so I thought it'd be fun to grab a photo of him in his helmet.

And one without the helmet.

Catherine and Leah were getting ready for a choir camp, so I grabbed an elusive photo of Catherine, too.

And finally Leah.

Nothing terribly exciting happening, just random photos.  Have a great day!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Backpacking with Ian

Ian has had a busy summer - two weeks out of school, and he has two weeks of camping with the Boy Scouts done!

He started out with the merit badge-oriented camp the day after school let out.  Catherine, Leah, and I drove down last weekend to pick him up.  We spent the night locally, since he and I had Lenhok'sin, the "high adventure" camp the following week.

We started out hiking to a local mountain with a great view, then back down to do some caving, which all of the boys enjoyed.  After caving, since it was the 3rd of July (which is when we celebrated the 4th - less disruption to the campers), we were treated to hot showers before finding a place to relax on the hillside overlooking the lake and the fireworks launch site.

The next day, we hiked to the rock climbing outpost, but due to rain, we were unable to climb.  We did get in a great little swim at a swimming hole.  Too wet to climb, but not too wet to swim.  We tried again the next morning, but it had rained most of the night, and as soon as we got to the climbing wall (about a mile from where we camped), it started to rain...again.

So we traipsed back to our backpacks, and made our way to the Foxfire outpost.  We did 2 hours of a service project, improving the trail to Foxfire, then the Scouts got to forge their own knives out of rebar.

The instructor there was great with the boys, this was easily the best outpost we had visited yet.

We also made bullets and dipped candles, and finished out the evening with some popcorn cooked up in the dutch oven.

Just when we thought Foxfire couldn't be beat, along came the Mountain Man outpost.  The Scouts (and later the adults) got to load and shoot a blackpowder rifle, learned about trapping, and everyone's favorite - tomahawk throwing.  Cue the Mel Gibson "The Patriot" jokes...

We got back home late this morning.  We hike 35+ miles over the past 5 days, enjoyed the outposts along the way, with absolutely no complaining (other than tired muscles and sore joints from the dads)!  Ian and I had a great time, but now we are enjoying being home with Catherine and Leah.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day everyone.  I've been meaning to post these photos from the backpacking trip with Ian and Leah over Memorial Day weekend.

We went just west of Shenandoah to the George Washington National Forest, and took in a nice hike. We all brought hammocks, which is a good thing or else we would have had to walk a bit further to find a camping spot free of rocks and trees roots. The photo above was from a little break in the trail; we were about a week early for the mountain laurel blooms, but it was still very pretty.

The photo above is from our camp site, right after we arrived. We got in a bit later than expected, but the kids were champs.

And this is from the way out, about the halfway point, before we headed downhill towards the car. All in all, it was a nice little overnight.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

I was in San Antonio all last week, and the days were filled.  I would get back from the conference, go get dinner, and then come back to the hotel and prepare for the next day's classes (I was "teaching").  I always think I will be productive on these trips, one of these days I'll learn...

Anyways, I got home late Friday night, and Saturday morning we were off to White Oaks lavender farm so we could get Catherine some culinary lavender.  She wanted two plants, but I talked her into three.

We toured the farm, swung in the swings and hammocks for a while, and enjoyed a lavender ice cream treat while we were there.  Then we headed up into Shenandoah National Park.  The clouds and rain broke while we were at the farm, and I think the bad weather kept people away from both the farm and Shenandoah, since traffic was light.

Catherine indulged me as I took the kids for a short, 1-mile hike up to Blackrock to catch the views, and then we headed back into Harrisonburg for dinner and made our way to our hotel.  There is still a movie date-night for Mother's Day, but all-in-all, I think we had a very nice time.

Happy Mother's Day!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tulip season

Since Nancy is visiting, and by serendipity I had today off, we decided to make the short drive to Burnside Farm to take in the tulips they grew.  While it wasn't quite as grand as Keukenhof (what is, really?), it was a nice way to get outside and enjoy some sunshine.

If you count Catherine's iPhone as a camera, we each brought one (or two).  The place was pretty busy for a Thursday afternoon, but not crowded, which was nice.

Not Leah's first wooden shoe she has stood/sat in...

This photo of Ian was a bit tricky to get, since he was in full sunlight.  Leah helped provide the shade, but the angle was difficult.  I was striving for Ian's blue jacket against the yellow daffodils, but this is what you get.



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Family fun

Leah wanted me to play a bit tonight. Since I didn't particularly want to do more school stuff, AND since the days of Leah wanting to roughhouse with me are numbered, I couldn't pass up the chance. After we were done, I asked her if I could shoot her photograph, to which she obliged.

We had a good time with that. Leah convinced me to let her stuffed elephant, Ellie, take her photo, which was blurry and not on target. That got us to laughing, so we brought Ian over. He wasn't particularly happy to have his photo taken, but I did manage to sneak a photo of him smiling at my antics.

Then, to make Ian feel a bit better about getting his photo, I asked if he'd like to take my photo. Ian couldn't say no to that. Leah jumped in with Ellie...

...which made Ian grab Froggy.

I even managed to convince Catherine to come up for a photo. I don't have very many photos of Catherine, glad she broke down!

Have a great day,


Monday, March 27, 2017

Cherry Blossoms

We all had the day off Friday, so I got up early and drove into DC to grab a photo of the cherry blossoms, like I did last year.  The sunrise was nowhere near as spectacular, but it was still very pretty.

I chose to shoot towards the Jefferson Memorial this time, since I really like the shot I made last year, and wanted something different.  Unfortunately, there was nothing facing the east that also leads the eye towards the Jefferson Memorial, so you get the overhanging cherry blossom.

Afterwards we drove to Ft. Meade and looked at a couple of houses.  I don't know for sure that that is where we are headed - or when.  We were just looking because we could be headed there in the future.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hiking with the kiddos

I have a history paper due early next week, but I've become quite the procrastinator.  I'm looking forward to this latest school coming to a quick end, only a couple more weeks to go.

So for today, rather than write my history paper, I packed up the kids for a sloppy/muddy hike on some trails in the Great Falls National Park.

Ian and I are getting ready for a Boy Scout backpacking trip this summer, so we are putting more pounds in our backpacks and hiking longer distances.  Today, Leah joined us.  We have some late spring/early summer backpacking trips that the three of us will do.

After this week's slush/snow bomb and freezing cold temps, it felt good to get some sun on our faces and put in a few miles.

We found this cool, natural amphitheater along the way.  Both kids wanted to get out from under the trees and feel the sun.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Oh yeah!

No particular reason - just two boys having fun with a camera.

Have a great day!  Cheers,


Saturday, January 21, 2017

More fun with Photoshop

I originally set out to photograph the kids in some oversized clothes to work my camera mojo, but then Leah had this idea.  "What if you made a spirit animal come out of the jar?"

Not satisfied with her patronus (the robin), she also wanted some pixie dust.  So I learned how to create a new brush in photoshop to add in the pixie dust.  Voila.  Leah and her patronus.

Ian took a look at Leah's photo, and asked if he could get a dragon (lots of creative commons picture searches tonight...).  It didn't take too long, and Ian really liked it.

Big wins at the Skinner house.

Nothing terribly new for the Skinners, just me playing with my camera on a soggy weekend.  Enjoy!



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fun with Photoshop

After seeing Rogue 1 a couple of days ago, I thought I'd dress the kids up and drop them in to some fantastic scene.

Ian's outfit made me think of a desert scene, so I dropped him in to the back side of Monument Valley.  This is not the scene you'd see if you went there; I've reversed things so that Ian fit in a bit better without obscuring the towers in the background.

Leah's outfit made me think of snow, so I dropped her into a Mt. Rainier scene, looking south towards the Tatoosh mountain range.  Again, I've reversed things so that the light and scene "match".

Best wishes for a fantastic New Years!