SENIOR SESSION: Maddie CO2020

My FIRST Class of 2020 Senior for the season...
I could not have asked for anything better...

We're still "swimming" here in Ohio with all the rain...and many are struggling with flooding, farmers are hurting with planting...when we get caught in "extremes" it causes the ripple effect all over...

Already, we've had to reschedule a handful of sessions in the past weeks...trying to squeeze into the 1-2 sunshiney days that we're given...

However, with Maddie...it wasn't a struggle at all...

We had glorious temperatures, bright sunshine and her personality was the cherry on top!

Can I just exclaim just one more time how much I appreciate this "job"...

Granted, I am so, so thankful to have the means to take some of the financial burden off my husband as it relates to future retirement, 3 weddings, 3 college educations, cars, home repairs, vacations, etc...and this photography business was born out of the way I'm wired to view life in general, my husband cheering me on to take a risk and utilizing my own education degree to teach myself the skills to create a sustainable company...

and while that is a beautiful, wonderful gift...

the bonus, the part that fills my "love tank", the piece that pours into my own BEing, is the meeting of people...

Individuals like Maddie...unique, one of a kind, never duplicated, distinctive...people that I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to spend a couple hours with talking, walking, laughing, cheering each other on...

Maddie is golden...she does it effortlessly...this giving of herself to fill others up without even realizing it...she makes you happy to just be around her and so, when it's time to say goodbye, you leave feeling better for having spent the time together.

Isn't that how we all should strive to be...to leave others better than when we "found" them?

congratulations Maddie...I can't wait to hear all that you will accomplish!
















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Torlones Trek the Trails

"All children, except one, grow up!" ~ Peter Pan

As a parent, you "want" your kids to grow up... I can honestly say that I hope my dear daughters will become confident, independent young women...striking out on their own in the world knowing they have the tools to do whatever they are called to do!...

At the same time, there is a part of me as a mom that wants to keep them in a bubble...keep them young...make sure the "bad" of the world is held at bay...

Perhaps that's part of the idea of "vacation"...to expose our kids to different parts of the country, to give them WOW experiences that they will cherish...in a somewhat "controlled" environment...

 even moreso...to have time with EACH OTHER...with US...that uninterrupted time of being "off the grid" and relishing in the communication, laughter, inside jokes...making memories...and making our families stronger!

And so, with that understanding, we began our plan for a trip to show them the other side of the country...to touch the "other" ocean...to experience a big city, landmarks, along with the distinctness of the land and lifestyles...and then, to have the opportunity to explore nature and majestic sites...

It was a lot to pack into a week...and we also wanted it to be relaxing...not just checking off sites on a list of "must-sees", rather, being content with whatever came our way...

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Thus, our adventure began...

and within the first 24 hours, an event occurred that threatened to overshadow everything...

All children do grow up...hard things DO happen...and sometimes, as parents, all we can do is help them navigate and pray that we respond appropriately as well...

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The 5:50am flight seemed like a great idea 6 months prior to our departure, but in reality it proved to be just a tad bit of a challenge...(little did we know what we were about to face after hours of travel and lack of sleep)

We made it to the airport on time and our flights were uneventful. We were able to pack all our luggage for the 8 day trip (without foreseeable laundry facilities) into 3 bags and then an extra carry on that housed all our jackets, 2-3 outfits a piece and all other necessities that might be helpful should our main luggage get "lost" in transit.

Upon arrival, with all our bags in tow, we packed up our rental van...using the stow and go areas to hide as much as possible (and with me wearing my camera as another appendage as usual)

It had been nearly 8 hours of being awake, having only slept about 3 hours the night prior and not having had any food outside of drinks or pretzels on the plane, we were anxious to get some food in us...therefore, we stopped about 20 minutes out from the airport and parked our van right in front of the window so we could keep watch on everything.

Apparently, this wasn't enough to stop some people from making some bad choices that were ultimately going to affect us, not just monetarily, but more significantly...emotionally.


While inside grabbing food, someone pulled up behind our van, smashed the glass and grabbed whatever luggage was on top...

(PSA: Oakland 911 and police departments DO NOT answer their phones just FYI...so, those traveling there...do all you can to not get yourself into emergency situations)

I KNOW!!! Take a deep breath...we are all fine...noone was held at gun point...noone was hurt...things are just THINGS...they can be replaced-ish...and, as we kept saying to each other, "Well, if that's how God wants to spend His money, I guess that's His prerogative" 

At the same time, I would be remiss if I didn't say that this one event had a powerful effect on all of us...A and I trying to navigate the logistics (new rental car, deductibles for insurance, replenishing our needs for the week, etc) and the girls having to reconcile that there ARE bad people in the world...and sometimes we reap hardship from their choices...

The further in time we got away from the event...the more we went along on our adventure, the "easier" it became, but there was definitely a level of paranoia and jitters that followed us...even here at home...

Our fearless leader/dad/husband, always in protector mode, rallied the troops...and once things were settled...once we got food in us, and got our remaining things to the hotel where we could lock it all up...he took us to the coast...





We laid in our beds, in the hotel that evening thankful we were unharmed, though still rattled from the events of the day...but we slept!

Each morning A led us through some verses that he had needed to read himself...as a reminder of what is MOST important...it refocused us each day...

I know that may sound "hokey" to some, and really, I understand that these are 'first world' problems...I am just hopeful that being faithful in the small things will help me, my husband and my daughters for whatever the future holds in big things...

Onto Day 2...

This day brought a much more FUN avenue as we headed out to explore the city of San Francisco! 

We started at Golden Gate Park where we sampled tea from the Japanese Tea Garden and enjoyed a leisurely and refreshing walk around the grounds...







Up next were sites like the Painted Ladies, Pier 39 (a favorite) and Lombard street...




The next day brought a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge (after a quick stop at the fort at the base...super fascinating!) and then onto Muir Woods.








After Muir, we finished the day at the hotel in Napa Valley...where the next morning we were welcomed like royalty to the Kendell-Jackson winery!  A has a friend that knows the owner and he UNBELIEVABLY and generously gave us not only complimentary tours and wine-tasting...but also a FIVE COURSE food-wine pairing (the girls had tea and lemonade) for all 5 of us!!!  It was an experience like none other!









This brought us to the last leg of our trip...and we were in store for yet another "mishap"...
As we watched the temperatures rise from 85 to 88 to 91 to 93 to 95...we heard a loud BANG, as if someone had shot something from inside the van...I started searching everywhere as A continued to drive...until my eyes finally landed on the large crack in the windshield that was slowly growing across the dash to my side of the vehicle...

You always prepare for unexpected events, but always in the hope that you'll never encounter them...because when you do, you have to be intentional...purposeful about how you will react...and this was a struggle for me...

But, we again, looked at each other and stated our reminder..."it's not our money...we are doing the best we can with what we've been given!" 

Thus, we had a little "crack" game for the remainder of our trip...and I must tell you that everytime one of the girls asked about the "crack", we had to hide a smile!

We were to stay in the most adorable TREE HOUSE known to man!  The trees going through the house were hilarious!  (even in the bathrooms)  And we were climbing!  We entered the home from the top floor and had to climb our way to each floor after that...it was a fantastic treat!!!

First stop on our Yosemite National Park tour was Mariposa Grove to see the Giant Sequoias...we had already seen the Redwoods of Muir, so seeing these big beauties was magnificent!






After that we went to Glacier Point where we had a SNOWBALL FIGHT!  The trails were covered in FEET of snow...therefore, we couldn't get out to Taft Point or over to Sentinel Dome...but no matter...we basked in the beauty nonetheless...









A Yosemite park visit isn't complete without a traipsing around Yosemite Village and all in the valley...This is where you find Mirror Lake and savor the waterfalls!



(and NEVER do selfies on a ledge...or pretend to do one)





Our last day at Yosemite, we found a trail to the base of El Capitan (PSA: if you haven't watched the documentary Free Solo...watch it!!!) 







It was a marvelous trip...intermixed with some mishap, yes...and perhaps, one day, it will make us laugh as we recall, "remember that time when we went to California???"

Right now though, I'm grateful...I'm grateful for opportunities, even with the "bad stuff"...for the majesty of creation...for the uniqueness of life and people from all over the country...I do not take these times for granted...I want to be a good steward of whatever gifts I'm given and be content and thankful in them...

Life & Family...they are amazing GIFTS! 

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The best way to contact me is either through Facebook Messaging or emailing me at ctphotomemories@gmail.com

I can't wait to hear from you!
"Teach us to number our days, (savor the moments) so that we may gain a heart of wisdom" ~Psalm 90:12

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