Day 1 – At Sea

Just some photos from our first day at sea.

Enjoying the morning on our balcony!
The prettiest girls on the ship!!!!
The girls wanted to get a picture of me.  And I love the blue ocean!!!!!
We were having fun taking pictures around the ship.


The girls were really into posing!


And then it was my turn to pose.

We had a pretty relaxing day on the ship.  For a matter-of-fact, I think hubby was napping while the girls and I were out exploring and taking photos.




Photo Purge

I had quite a few photos on my phone and was running out of room.  So why not share them here.

Lili and Naomi get a little help from Zoey



Visit to the Gandhi Garden


This girl loves Snapchat and I have a lot more pictures to prove it.  Just don’t have the room here to post them all 🙂

We went to the museum and found out that there will be a new exhibit soon.  Lili is VERY EXCITED!!!!  I’m guessing we will see this exhibit several times.  Good thing we have a family pass.



Time for a selfie while waiting for our friends to arrive.


In looking at these photos, I think it’s pretty clear to tell which one likes to have her picture taken.


Blast From the Past

Facebook is good about posting reminders for posts past and today I was reminded of a time, four years ago, when I took my girls in to get professional photos taken for Christmas.  It’s a day I will always fondly remember.

Neither of the girls were being very cooperative.  One of them didn’t want her picture taken at all and had to be coaxed to pose for every shot.  The other preferred playing and had to be pulled away from her play to get pictures taken.  The session, took twice as long as it should, causing other appointments behind us to back up.  The photographer worked very hard trying to get good shots on these two uncooperative subjects and it was stressful on all of us.  For a matter-of-fact, I’m quite sure I heard the photographer breath a sign of relief as we walked out of the studio that day 🙂

It was also the last time I took the girls in to get professional photographs.  The one who had to be coaxed to get her picture taken still has to be coaxed and it’s only gotten harder the older she has gotten.  Plus, hubby feels like getting professional photos done is a form of torture and that’s due to both the process and the cost involved.  LOL!!

The stress of that day passed long ago and as I look at these photos now, I smile as I see my girl’s personalities shining through and shed a little tear as I realize how much they have grown and changed in four years.

Naomi kept smiling and closing her eyes because she didn't like the flash.Eventually, they both decided to be silly during pictures.

Naomi's insistence on closing her eyes made Lili start laughingAnd when we finally got Naomi to open her eyes, she was looking elsewhere.

For example, looking up instead of at the camera.Or looking down.

But we did manage to get her looking at the camera and smiling at the same time.But unlike our photo session last year, Lili was pretty cooperative in doing what she was asked.

And she showed some very cute sides of her personality.  Like the scrunchy nose which she has done since she was a baby.Or the little side smile that she has also done since she was a baby.

So even though getting these pictures took a lot longer than we had hoped or planned, we managed to get some good pictures.  And I'm now able to look back on it and laugh.

Maybe one day, when the moment is right and cooperation is to be had, I’ll get them to  re-enact these poses and see what I can get.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy a blast from the past – the Christmas photos of 2012.

What a Wildlife

The girls and I were out enjoying another beautiful day here in Central IL. We took homeschool to Wildlife Prairie Park just outside Peoria for a few hours of exploration. This is such a great resource for us here in Central IL that I’m a bit embarrassed to admit we haven’t been there is a few years. For a matter-of-fact, I couldn’t remember if Naomi had ever been there, but if she did go, she was maybe 1 and that’s been almost 4 years ago. Needless-to-say, they have made a few changes since then and did I ever get excited to see what they are working on now – a Pioneer Farmstead!!!!

It’s still a work in progress with plans to put in farm animals that kids will be able to visit and pet, but what I did find there was my future homestead garden.

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Mine will be bigger than the one at the park, but I saw it and knew this garden set up was in my future.  I can see me spending a great deal of time locked up in my garden cage 🙂

We saw so many animals at the park today.

Bison grazing


These animals are just amazing and I love watching them.  They are so majestic!

From there we moved to see all the other animals that roam the State of Illinois – the gray wolf, black bear, red fox, silver fox, cougar, bobcat, lynx and more.

We read about the animals, learning much along the way.  Then, as we returned to the entrance of the park, I saw another animal out grazing with the bison. We headed over to check it out and there stood a herd of elk, eating corn.

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They were maybe 5 feet away from the fence, standing there eating and watching us as we watched them.  We examined the way the dominate elk kept the others away from the corn.  We waited and cheered on the under dog as they stood at the sidelines awaiting their opportunity to come in and get a few kernels for themselves.  We watched nature up close and personal for probably 20 minutes and eventually pulled ourselves away.

As we left the park, the girls and I decided that we needed to make regular visits to Wildlife Prairie Park this spring, summer and fall. It’s a great place to learn and explore many of the things nature provides us here in Central Illinois. Plus, I’ll need to go back and more closely examine my future garden 🙂

Now I leave you with some pictures of our little field trip and some of the amazing animals I captured in picture.

Giant Monarch Butterflies.

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Bison and Elk

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Beautiful girls with horse.


The Great Horned Owl


Red-Tailed Hawk


Red Fox

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The cutest bison at the park.


And I saved the best for last.

Happy, happy girls!!


How to Keep Naomi Busy

Lili has one hour horseback riding lessons every week and during that hour Naomi needs to be entertained in a quiet way.  So far, she’s been entertained by taking pictures during Lili’s lessons.  Here’s an example of her work.

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She actually managed to get some decent pictures 🙂

While Naomi is happily snapping pictures, Lili is very much enjoying her riding lessons.  Except for the little scare she had during her last lesson when she almost fell off the pony.  She is learning how to ride during a trot and doesn’t quite have it down yet.  The pony was trotting and Lili starting sliding to the side of the saddle.  Despite her fear of the almost fall, she stuck with it and is counting down the days until her next lesson.

Photo Safari

This weekend I participated in a Chicago Adventure Photo Safari.  I will no longer need to use my Nikon D3000 as a point-and-shoot camera.  I actually now have ‘some’ photo skills.  I need a whole lot of practice, but the fact that I now know how to use some of the camera settings and have learned things I didn’t know at all is very exciting.

Here are some pictures I took during my Safari.

The first few pictures were taken at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.  I had just learned how to change the aperture and why I would want to change the aperture on my camera.  I then took several pictures focusing in on a specific flower, while blurring out the flowers and foliage in the background and/or foreground.

The next few pictures were taken after the instructor taught us about changing the camera’s shutter speed to capture more or less of movement detail in a photo.   Our moving subject was water.

And then I learned about metering and how to use my camera to pick up more light and detail in a photo.

The first photo show a stained glass window in a church.

And using metering I was able to pick up more light and detail.

Okay, now I realized this is probably much more exciting for me than it is for most of my readers.  I’m also sure that some of you already knew how to do these things, but it’s an exciting new discovery for my limited photography skill level.  Plus, I really wanted to get this post on my blog to show my new found skills.  As I continue to post photos here, I hope to see a marked improvement in the quality.

Say Click, Take a Pic

Shortly after Naomi came home, I purchased a nice Nikon D3000 DSLR camera.  However, I still know very little about using all the features of this camera and how much sense does it make to have a nice camera and not know how to use the features.  The camera certainly takes better photos than my little point and shoot digital camera, but it could do so much more if only I knew what I was doing.

Knowing my limitations, my hubby purchased a book to help me learn more about operating the camera.  I’ve opened the book several times, but would find myself getting lost and still not fully comprehending the ins and outs of DSLR photography.  I learn much better in a hands-on learning environment and a couple of times had considered signing up for a photography class.

Then Christmas arrived and my husband used his creativity and gave me several envelopes for Christmas.  Okay, envelopes aren’t that creative and they certainly aren’t interesting, but the contents of the envelopes were very creative and interesting.

Upon opening one of the envelopes I discovered a very exciting gift.  My creative and awesome hubby had purchased a Groupon voucher for me to attend an Instructional Chicago Photography Safari from Chicago Photo Safaris.  I was handed the opportunity to learn how to use the camera that I’ve owned for the last 1 1/2 years.

Of course this left me in a dilemma.  What safari do I want to sign up for?  If you click on the link above, you will see that I have some choices.

Then we made reservations to go to Guatemala for a visit.  Obviously, I needed to sign up for one of the classes before we head out on that trip.  What a great way to use my new photography skills, right?

But wait!!!!  That would mean a safari in winter, in Chicago.

What should I do?

Today the decision was made.  I am going to brave the Chicago winter weather and attend the Chicago Photo Adventure Day Safari.  I can’t allow the opportunity to gain better photo skills with so many opportunities to use those skills on the horizon.  I’ll prepare for wicked winter weather and hope for a wonderful, unseasonably warm winter day in Chicago.  And if there happens to be snow, than so be it.  After all, a snowy day in Chicago is an opportunity to create some beautiful photo art.

And if any of my blog friends or family would like to join me, I’m signed up for the January 28th class.  There are still openings in the class, so sign up and join me.