Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everybody!

We stayed home for Christmas this year.  While on the one hand we missed the comfort and joy of time spent with family, on the other we enjoyed staying home and enjoying a quiet Christmas here.

The kids slept in until about 9 this morning, which was a Festivus miracle!

After gifts and Catherine's pancake breakfast, I had an itch to break out the camera and get the kids' photos.

I have had this photo of Leah with a lantern in the snow in my mind since last year.  I finally got of my butt and took the photo.  Sadly, we didn't have real snow, so digital snow will have to do.

For Ian, I was thinking something along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy (Starlord).  I don't think we did it (we don't have the right clothes/costume to make that happen), but I do think we had a nice time.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very blessed Christmas.  May your days be merry and filled with the laughter of loved ones!



Saturday, November 11, 2017

Just having fun

I switched my photo library software system recently, and while I was digging around, I thought that I hadn't taken any photos of the kids for a while.  So rather than sit at my computer, I broke out the gear.

Ian was a willing participant.  We play a game on the Playstation where some of the characters sit like this:

Ian thought it would be fun to recreate that - so voila!

I then switched lenses and went with something more traditional.

Leah didn't want to play along at first since she didn't get out of her pajamas all day (it has been COLD! - it was a great day to stay inside), but once I convinced her it was just a headshot, she came along.

Otherwise, nothing new here.  Have a great day!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall color

I took my camera for a spin at Great Falls National Park this afternoon, hoping beyond hope that some color was still on the trees.

I was away last week during the peak of color around here, and we had a couple of storms move through that knocked a bunch of leaves down.

Fortunately, there were still some leaves on the trees - the walk down to the river convergence was a bit bleak, but I got a bit lucky on this one.

Hopefully I can time this better next year!

Have a great day,


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Manassas National Battlefield Park and Harper's Ferry

Wednesday morning I got up early and drove out to Manassas National Battlefield Park, site of two Civil War battles.

I have never been there before, and I did absolutely no Civil War research; I was primarily interested in walking around and pointing my camera at things.  I started out at a farmhouse near the visitor center, and then walked several miles in a big loop.

The light didn't pan out, but it was a nice walk.  Thursday evening I drove to Harper's Ferry, WV to take in the site above the town.

The hike was only about a mile and half, but it was mostly up.  I wasn't the only one who thought to take in a pretty sunset while overlooking Harper's Ferry, but it wasn't crowded, either. 

Have a great day everybody!


Monday, October 16, 2017

Autumnal Shenadoah

I have this week off, but my prior plans have fallen through.  So I decided to make the drive this morning to Shenandoah, since a weather app was predicting a solid chance for a pretty sunrise.

Unfortunately, the rain and clouds did not lift in time for a pretty sunrise, but I still got to take in some pretty sites.

The leaf color has been bumped up for our enjoyment - the colors are somewhat lackluster this year.

All in all, it was a very nice drive and well worth the effort.  Have a great day!


Monday, October 9, 2017

Library of Congress

You may recall from last year that I took the kids to the Library of Congress.  The main reading room is closed to the general public (unless you are conducting research - get a card) except for two days.  The day finally came!

Since the reading room wouldn't open until 10, we were in no rush to get there.  Thankfully, Columbus Day meant that traffic was light, and parking was free.

We arrived just in time to hop in the queue and wait about 5 minutes for admission to the main reading room.

We walked around, checked out a couple of older books laying around.

We even delved into the card catalog room, where Ian wanted to look up Genghis Khan (no idea where that came from - but it did take us a bit further into the bowels of the card catalog room).

We finished up with a nice lunch at Bullfeathers, a local restaurant, and then made our way back home.  All in all, a nice day.  Cheers,


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hiking and Camping at Dolly Sods

I took Ian and Leah camping and hiking this weekend - just a quick overnighter at Dolly Sods Wilderness Area and the Nature Conservancy's Bear Rocks (abutting the northern end of Dolly Sods).  The park was PACKED!

We got there just after lunch and snagged the last camping sight - which we ended up sharing with another couple who arrived later (because that would really stink to drive all that way and have no place to sleep).  They returned the favor by sharing their campfire with us after we got back.

After setting up our tent, we drove about 4 miles to Bear Rocks, which sits at the very edge of the Allegheny plateau.  Both kids had a great time climbing on the rocks and exploring.

The leaves were just barely past prime, but it was still gorgeous.  It was a warm/hot weekend at home (and muggy), while we got to enjoy low 70's in the sun - perfect!

Looking south towards the sun, the blueberry fields were a gorgeous shade of red.

While looking for where to set up for my sunset photo, the kids found this rock which they said looked like a whale.  They were a ways ahead of me when I heard them say that, and as soon as I saw the rock, I could see the whale-resemblance.  Of course, Ian and Leah just had to climb it!

We brought our backpacks out so we could cook and eat dinner while waiting for the sunset.  Both kids brought a book/entertainment, so they sat with their backs to a rock and just enjoyed the sun and the wind.

It took me several hours to find my sunset composition.  Overall I am happy with the photo - I just wish we had had some clouds for some visual interest.

We stuck around until it got dark - we were going to take a photo of the Milky Way's galactic core setting, but surprisingly some clouds moved in and wrecked any chance of that happening.  The clouds cleared enough for us to see the Milky Way before the moon rose, so that was a treat.

It rained on us this morning, but nothing major.  Fortunately, the weather at home was dry so we could set up the tent and hammock to dry out.

Have a great day everybody!


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!