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July 19, 2016

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

My parents are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this fall. For over 5 years, they’ve been talking about doing a family vacation. We didn’t plan it soon enough for their 40th and it kept falling through the cracks with both my sister’s (also a photographer) and my wedding schedules and everyone else’s work. There are 22 of us total with 10 of those being kids so you can imagine how hard it is to coordinate 12 adult work calendars. Finally, over a year ago, we nailed down a date so we could all block our calendars. Since then, I’ve been looking forward to spending a long weekend with everyone.

My parents rented a huge house called Tanglewood Manor near Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. The house itself was out in the middle of nowhere with no cell service at all. (Our phones actually read “no service” up in the left corner where the bars usually are.) The house was equipped with wi-fi so we could have some access to the outside world, but the only way to call in case of an emergency was on the house phone in the living room. (Which was a little iffy since the next-door property was a wild life hunting preserve; we saw them haul in a wild bore at one point!) There were plenty of rooms (the house can sleep 40 people!), nearly all with private bathrooms, so we were able to spread out. It also came with 2 dining rooms (one for the kids; one for the adults), a large kitchen that was stocked with everything you could need (pots, pans, mixer, paper towels, etc.) besides food itself, a recreation room, laundry room, and a large living room.

To make the meals easy, we split up into families. The Sarvers had dinner Thursday night, Jordan & Payton (with help from mom) had brunch Friday, we had dinner Friday night, the Whipples took Saturday brunch, and the Millers took Saturday dinner. Snacks and Sunday breakfast & lunch were all leftovers and miscellaneous foods we brought along for sharing.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and spent some time unpacking and checking out the house. While everyone was spread out inside, there was also a lot of outdoor play area. There was a large cement pad with basketball hoops and a volleyball net as well as a 60′ slide in the side of the hill and a swing set. Henry’s gold mine was the huge shed nearby that housed all kinds of kid’s toys including his favorite Cozy Coupe car.

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While the kids got out the ride-on toys, the boys immediately picked up game of basketball (where they conveniently lowered the hoop for dunking purposes).
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After dinner that night, we got out the garden hose and turned the slide into a water slide.
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After the babies & littles were cleaned up and in bed, we played a disgusting Fear Factor-esque food challenge. Foods were color coded–sour cream, marshmallows, ice cream were white while peanut butter, prune juice, and chocolate syrup were brown, for example–and corresponded with colored paper in a draw bowl. We were split into 3 teams and one person from each team would draw a paper and the corresponding food item of that color that was next up in line would land in a blender. Some notable combinations were black beans+prune juice+sour cream, Ranch dress+mayo+beets, refried beans+avocado+corn chips, and ice cream+milk+green beans. (You cannot understand the level of disgusting.) The three people (one from each team) that drew the colors had to drink the combination and the first person to get it all down got a point for their team.
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On Friday after brunch, we headed over to Hocking Hills Canopy Tours to go zip lining. It was the first time most of us had ever tried it so there were some mixed feelings and nerves. I figured if I could repel down a building in Chicago, I could go zip lining. And, it turns out, it’s not scary at all. It was more awe-striking than breathtaking. It was absolutely beautiful out there and wasn’t nearly as much of an adrenaline rush as I had thought it might be.

There were several different courses, including a kids one that Kylie and Gavin did. The rest of us did the x-tour, which took almost 3 hours from start to finish. A few of us had GoPros with us to capture some video; the rest of these photos were taken by my sister Megan (we were split into two groups and she was in the next group that started half an hour later).
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Friday evening we were all exhausted and spent some more time outside before hitting the showers and then sprawling out in the living room until midnight reminiscing old memories and hearing even older one from Mom & Dad.

I’ll be back soon with part two of the vacation, which includes hiking and roasting s’mores and being scared out of our minds in the dark.

Note: my sister, Megan, and I took a lot of photos and pooled them together. This blog shows a lot of my photos, but some of hers as well.

April 28, 2016

FILED IN: Travel

I‘m still getting around to putting all my thoughts together from my time at Justin & Mary’s Walk Through a Wedding workshop in Connecticut earlier this month. In the meantime, it’s easier to show you the pretty pictures from the brief moments that weren’t spent in the workshop.

On the first day of the workshop, my roommate, Morgan, and I did a quick walk around Yale before the workshop started. Because both workshop days were really long and went late into the nights, the only other time I had for more exploring was the morning of the second day of the workshop. A few of us decided to go check out Lighthouse Point Park and it was absolutely beautiful! I could get really used to living on the coast…except for those winters.

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April 20, 2016

FILED IN: Travel

Admittedly, I saw very little of Yale when I was in New Haven last week, but I’m so glad for the small pieces I did see. My trip to Connecticut was a quick one, but jam-packed. I flew in on Tuesday, grabbed my rental car, and drove from Hartford to New Haven, where I had just enough time to get into my hotel room, rest for a bit while meeting my roommate, Morgan, and then drive to Justin & Mary’s house for dinner. It turned into a late night, as I expected it would, of getting to know everyone before the Walk Through A Wedding workshop began the next morning.

The schedule for both days (Wednesday & Thursday) were full 12+ hour days so on Wednesday morning, we had about 30 minutes before the workshop started to park the car and walk around the campus a bit. One of the things I love so much about the east coast is its rich history. Not as much as Europe, of course, but rich nevertheless for America. The architecture was impressive and I also had a constant stream of Gilmore Girl quotes running through my head as I milled about, which made me smile to myself.

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August 17, 2015

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

Edisto_Island_Vacation_0062.jpgWe’re back from vacation and loving being in our own home again. Vacation is always so wonderful, but the reality of getting back to your own bed and routine is also a joy.

We had a great time and I’m going to try to summarize it all because, well, a week’s worth of beach, sun, and family reunioning can tend to blur together rather quickly.

Kevin, Henry, and I left Iowa Friday afternoon and drove (and drove and drove and drove) until 1:30 Saturday morning, when we grabbed a hotel for a few hours of sleep. We had been very nervous about how Henry (currently 8 months old) would handle the long drive and he surprised us by being completely happy-go-lucky about it. (It’s about an 18-hour drive…so…that’s a long time for me, but even more so for a baby.)

We got to Edisto Island, South Carolina around 6:00 PM Saturday. This vacation was a huge family reunion with my mom’s side of the family so we rented 4 beach homes and split up between them. I was so excited that my sisters and their families, my parents, and my younger brother were all in the same house.
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March 17, 2014

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

The coastal highway took us straight into Santa Barbara and, since we had some time to kill before we had to return the rental car, we decided to park by the pier and stretch our legs while checking out the downtown area. I’m so glad we did because the rest of the week, we were at the Fess Parker and really busy with the conference schedule so this was the perfect chance to liesurely adventure.

(See part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

Everything about Santa Barbara was adorable. Literally. Even the mailboxes were cute. There seemed to be lots of city codes keeping everything within a beautiful guidelines of Spanish architecture (or else everyone living and doing business there just has great style). Stucco reflects light so beautifully and it made the whole city burst with life.

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March 10, 2014

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

After the afternoon roaming through Los Angeles, we found a hotel in nearby Santa Monica very close to the beach. And so began our Santa Monica adventures. We went to the hotel first to check in and then promptly got lost trying to find our room. After finding our room with the help of the staff, we discovered the most delicious scone-like cookies in the lobby, which we promptly gobbled up as if we hadn’t eaten all day (when, in fact, we had).

We grabbed our cameras and headed outside to walk to the beach. We made it to the beach just barely before the sun dipped over the horizon and we got to see some of the most glorious skies in that short amount of time! One of my favorite images from that evening was an iPhone photo that I ‘grammed.

I love this shot because I can hear the sound of water coming towards me when I look at it. I had leaned over, put my camera close to the sand, and fired quickly as the water rushed towards me.

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