Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.”~ Author unknown.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My puzzle piece

Ever have that person who just clicks into place with you no matter how much time has passed, like a missing puzzle piece and you just feel complete around them?  A person who really understands you and accepts you as you are?  A person who "gets" you?  I have to say I am blessed to have several people like that in my life and I am grateful for them because each one fills an important space in my heart and makes me feel rejuvenated and special when I am in their presence.  One of these precious puzzle pieces for me is my dear cousin Mikey.  I love him so much!  Mikey is my first cousin and we are only 1 year apart in age.  Since our mom's (Joan & Rose) are sisters, it seems like there were many opportunities for us to be together through the years.
 Check out this flashback picture on my 2nd birthday... Mikey is in the red shirt giving my little brother, Russ, a neck hug.
 This is a picture of Mikey and me at the German/Braun family reunion in Fargo six years ago (June 2005).
 Mikey and I have many shared interests (photography, family, traveling, wine).  Even our careers are similar, which it isn't always easy for me to find someone I can talk "shop" with who doesn't work for the same company that I do.

On Wednesday, June 16th, Mikey was flying in with his momma (my aunt Joan) and two of his sisters (Sherry & Pam).  The family was coming in for the huge German/Braun family reunion.  I hadn't seen Mikey in 6 years, although we frequently keep in touch via e-mail and Facebook, it isn't the same as in person.  I took the opportunity to come and surprise everyone at the Fargo airport.  The joy and excitement was just as I imagined it would be - only BETTER!  The icing on top was that I was able to bring my Mikey back to Fergus Falls with me for two days until we needed to be in Aberdeen for the family reunion. My family had him all to ourselves and we tried to make the most of it.

 I shared some of the sights in and around Fergus Falls with Mikey.  This is a pic Mikey took of Abby on the Fergus Falls Riverwalk.  The best part of the time was the ability to really catch up on what has happened in our lives and share in a way that we haven't been able to do in a long time.

Mikey took this picture of me while we where at Phelps Mill.  We shared a passion about photography and it was fun to trade tips since we both shoot with Nikon's.
Mikey is my puzzle piece for sure.  I'll always treasure the time we had, laughter shared and support given. We need to do it again!  Miss you, Mikey!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kauai Part 2

I am continuing the process of reviewing, editing and creating collages from our Kauai vacation. I love it because it helps me keep the details of the trip fresh in my mind. Since documenting & printing this blog has become our family scrapbook, it is important to me that I try to add the details and highlights of the trip. Keeping that in mind, please know it doesn't bother me if you just skip to the pics (remember to click to enlarge) and don't read all the boring deets. :-)

Initially, seven days in Kauai seemed like a sufficient amount of time, but in actuality, we weren't able to see all the sights and experience everything we originally set out to do. We significantly underestimated the impact the timezone change of 5 hr would have on us. It affected our sleeping and eating schedules and seemed by the time we were finally adjusted then it was time to leave. I guess this means that we will have to return some time in the future - Hurray!!
We visited many different beaches on Kauai including: Po'ipu beach (walking distance from our condo), Salt Pond Beach, Wailua beach, Anini beach, & Tunnels beach. One thing we noticed about the Kauai beaches was how sticky the sand was. There was no brushing this stuff off your skin even when it was dry. It was the strangest thing ever! It was also squishy...where you sink down, not firm and compact like I expected. Lots of interesting sand castles were all over on the beaches, but we didn't build any. We also had quite a collection of sand coating the inside of our rental jeep. Messy stuff for sure!
One of the big excursions planned by Steve was an open-air (door-less) helicopter tour of the island, which he scheduled for Monday morning and lasted about an hour. This was the first helicopter ride for both Steve & I. We were able to converse with the pilot via two-way intercom built into our noise reduction headphones. The views were extraordinary and amazing, even if it was hard to maneuver to take photos. Part of the prep before getting loaded into the Hughes 500 was to sign all the liability wavers and to be weighed. Yup - we had to step on a scale, so no cheating. This information was kept private, but was important apparently for load balancing.
Here is a diagram of the seating on the chopper. The P = pilot. The little mini-seat in the middle ended up being my seat. Steve and the other couple riding with us had the remaining seats and literally had an arm and leg hanging out of the helicopter. For some reason, I didn't understand this detail and was looking forward to being able to lean out of the side of the helicopter while taking photos. Instead, I was the monkey-in-the-middle and felt like a little kid squished between to larger guys (Pilot Jason & Steve). I think I was well prepared for this role since I am a middle-child, who was frequently sandwiched between my two brothers in various pick-ups & station wagons during my childhood. I highly recommend this activity. It was definitely a highlight for us.
Another organized activity we decided to partake in was a river kayak and hike to get to the Secret Waterfall. The trip lasted almost 5 hrs and was a very worthwhile trip. We started out with a two mile kayak on the Wailua River. It took Steve & I a couple minutes to get our steering down, but once we mastered it we were the speed-demons of our 8 person group. After reaching our landing spot, we began a 1 mile hike. Although a short hike, it actually took nearly an hour because of the rough terrain, including a river crossing holding onto a rope. Our guide was extremely helpful with pointing out unique vegetation as well as sharing island history. One thing that was very surprising was to see the damage caused the previous week by an overland flood when 17 inches of rain fell in one day. So glad we weren't in Kauai then! The guide also shared a lilikoi (a.k.a. yellow passion fruit) he found on the ground with those brave enough to try it. It looked disgusting, but the taste was amazing.

When we arrived at the Secret Falls, we were captivated! Secret Falls is a 120 ft, roaring, and beautiful sight. We swam in the pool, but had to be very careful because of the vortex the falling water created. Steve was much braver than me. We were also warned about random boulders being tossed down the falls. Didn't need one of those to land on our heads! We had a simple lunch of sandwiches and juicy pineapple. Once everyone was done eating, swimming and taking photos we hiked back to our kayaks. This excursion got two thumbs up from Steve and me.
In addition to being obsessed with flowers, I can't get enough of crashing waves and roaring waterfalls! Kauai was a visual & auditory feast for me. Some of the falls we were able to drive up to, some we saw while on the helicopter tour & one was from the kayak/hike trip. The waves were stronger some days and there were always surfers taking advantage of the water ride. Surfing is an activity that we weren't able to squeeze in, so that is still on my bucket list.
I did take a few pics of some wildlife we saw: Some were playful (spinner dolphins), some were creepy (huge spider), some were annoying (early morning rooster wake up calls), some were colorful (koi) & some we were glad we didn't encounter (man-o-war jelly fish). I loved the spinner dolphins and the tiny lizard stuck to our patio door one morning.

The most amazing creature of all was the huge green sea turtle we encountered while snorkeling off of Tunnels beach.
Of course, I have no pictures so I grabbed this photo off the Internet. This ancient, magnificent marine animal was graceful, yet prehistoric looking. I was so excited when I spotted it that I nearly inhaled ocean water gesturing to Steve to make sure he saw it as well. I watched it for a long time as he munched on the coral. Truly one of the highlights of the trip for me!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grandma Ruth's Irises

Every year the spectacular garden display of iris reminds me how carefully my Grandma Ruth tended these very same flowers.
I love the beautiful, intricate petals and falls that actually shimmer in the sun. The fragrance is different for each flower, which gives another way to experience them.
Definitely my favorite flower, not only for their beauty but for the wonderful memories I have of my dear Grandma Ruth.
An additional bonus is Iris are forgiving because I know I am not a gardener like Grandma Ruth was and yet the Iris accept this about me and flower each June anyway.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Run, Abby, RUN!

Abby participated in both the Indoor and Outdoor track sessions this spring. I was only able to go to one meet in Breckenridge on May 6th, where she ran the 100, 4x100 relay, & performed in long jump and the triple jump. She placed in all of the events and was ecstatic.

Start of the 100 meter dash... placed 4th...
Overall, the track season was a good experience. This was the first year that Abby tried the field events and enjoyed the triple jump the most. She continued to prefer the sprints and was told by her coaches that she is a strong runner.

4X100 relay team... Abby ran first leg; team placed 3rd = Hana D, Paige L & Claire R.
The weather was less than ideal for nearly all 4 of the outdoor meets. Steve was able to go to the Barnsville meet on May 9th and Grandma Rose watched Abby at the Fergus Falls meet on May 17th.

Triple jump action
2011 season results

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Munchkins rule!

Angelique was a head Munchkin in the OLV Wizard of Oz musical a few weeks ago. She was so excited when she got the part of Zoq, the mayor of the Munchkins. The whole play is put on by the Prairie Fire Children's Theatre in such a short time frame, yet the quality of the performance is amazing. The tryouts were on Monday, May 9th and the musical was performed at the end of the week on Friday, May 13th!
Angelique was worried that she wouldn't get a part because as a 4th grader this is the first year she was able to participate. Let me tell you, she was OVER-THE-MOON when she got a part with several speaking lines!
I am still in awe that my shy, Kippy-girl had such poise and expression on the stage. Can this possibly be the girl who had stage fright so bad as a Kindergartner when she tried to tell a joke for the talent show she froze & had to have the principal help her off the stage? Look how far she has come!
Zoq - mayor of the Munchkins!