Lately, and Currently...

7.28.2014
 ^^Throwing rocks into the lake one evening last week^^

Wondering // How I'm ever going to survive the next few years as a mother.  Jed and Levi love antagonizing one another.  All day long they tease and hit and bite.  My ears have become numb to the screaming.  I get really tired of acting as the referee, you know.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that all this antagonizing isn't a passing phase; this is all part of a healthy brotherly relationship.  Luckily, though they do fight hard, they seem to love harder.  It's those fleeting tender moments of brotherly love that I celebrate and hope they continue to show throughout their lives. 

Weekend Highlight // Our ward's Relief Society offered to babysit children at the church Friday night from 6:00-10:00pm so we parents could attend the temple.  Bron and I had a relaxing quiet visit to the temple and snagged some frozen yogurt with our friends afterwards.  It was fun!  And I shouldn't have been so apprehensive about keeping my boys out and up that late with somebody else because they had a blast!  The kids were visited by a real police officer, ate snacks, and made a cute craft.  But best of all, they jumped their hearts out in a giant bounce house that nearly touched the gym's ceiling.  Wow!  Then as an added bonus, everyone slept in Saturday morning.  Win-win all around.   

Listening to // Shatter Me Featuring Lzzy Hale - Lindsey Stirling.  I first heard the song a couple of weeks ago and now I'm kind of obsessed.  It makes me want to bust out my violin to play along!  (Also, if you've never seen any of Lindsey Stirling's videos, check her out.  She'll awe you with her violin/dance talent.)

 
Hungry for // strawberry freezer jam.  We happened to find a killer deal on strawberries Saturday, so I loaded up for an impromptu flash freeze/freezer jam making session in my kitchen over the weekend.  Mmm, mmm, good!  We are now officially ready for winter because we have strawberry jam to sustain us.  Haha  But seriously!

Looking Forward to // new furniture in the den.  I've been waiting nearly three years for this!  I will finally have some specified spaces for the CDs and books and files that are making my home feel cluttered.  Woohoo!  It's almost time to de-junk and organize.  Bring it.

Soaking in // the way Levi holds my hand.  His tiny hand holds just two of my fingers as he walks and jumps along to wherever we're headed.  It's so precious.  I wish he'd never grow up!


Thinking About // My photography.  I feel like I have finally plateaued, which is kind of an amazing feeling in a sense.  After years of working, shooting, and editing, asking questions, and reading articles I have finally "mastered" what I set out to do: create photographs of my children that I will cherish forever and that are worth printing up large to display on my living room wall.  I finally feel confident enough to call myself a photographer. 

Now what?  This photography journey doesn't really have an end.  I will never actually "arrive" anywhere because it's a personal art form and there is always room for growth and improvement.  So just what should I put my efforts into next?  I have a few ideas:  I want to learn to edit in a way that takes my images to the next level.  I want to learn how to shoot and edit landscape photos that really are worth framing.  I also have a few more newborn poses in mind that I want to try at my next session.  I might even make myself a little personal project to photograph whatever lines and patterns I see around me.

What do you think?  I'm totally open to some kind constructive criticism.

^^Brotherly love^^
 
*****
Linking up HERE today.

Glacier National Park: Biking at Whitefish and Hidden Lake Goats

7.24.2014
glacier national park hidden lake
^^Hidden Lake via iPhone panorama^^

Friday was a "rest day".  Hahahaha!  Bron and I really don't know what it means to relax on vacation.  We're on a mission to see and do as much as possible in the short time we have at our disposal.

We stayed at an old ski lodge in Whitefish, MT.  Our sleeping arrangements might possibly be described as ghetto, but it was clean and the continental breakfasts were the most delicious I've ever eaten, so I was a happy camper.  We recovered from our arduous hikes from the previous day by sleeping in Friday morning.  Then we hopped right onto our bikes for a little downhill fun on the ski hill. 


A ski lift up + a 2500 vertical elevation drop + an abundance of groomed trails to choose from = a heart pounding adrenaline rush I wish to experience over and over again!  It was sooo much fun letting gravity do all the work for me.  After a warm-up run on an intermediate trail, Bron and I hit the berms and tackled some "advanced" routes.  My arms might have been sore from gripping my brakes (really, in my defense my bike was not made to be ridden so ruggedly), but I sure am proud of myself!  I've come a long way in just a couple of years, nearly conquering my fear of downhill speed.  It was an absolute blast!  Plus those huckleberry milkshakes we had at the top?  Lick your fingers kind of heavenly.

After our morning on the hill, Bron and I decided to head into Glacier park to conquer another short hike and get me my photo shots along Going to the Sun Road.  Come to find out, we had blue skies in Whitefish, but Glacier was hazy with clouds and smoke!

 ^^Glimpses of Going to the Sun Road^^
 ^^We saw a bear cub walk across the road!  We hurried along and thankfully didn't see Mama Bear.^^

Of course, we weren't going to let a little weather deter us... or snow either.  Half of the short three mile round trip Hidden Lake trail we hiked was still covered in snow!  It just makes for a better story, right?  You bet.  Plus, what we encountered at the top was totally worth our efforts.

 ^^Views on our blustery hike^^
hidden lake, glacier national park
hidden lake, glacier national park
 ^^Bron admiring Hidden Lake^^

Not only were we greeted with an incredibly stunning view of an icy mountain lake, but there were families of wild goats wandering around as if they didn't notice us at all.  Bron and I stood quietly.  They came so close we could reach out and touch them!  I'm not exaggerating one bit.  It was the coolest and most fascinating thing to be a part of.

 ^^The experience made me want to work for National Geographic... just a little bit.  :)^^
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
 ^^Babies!^^
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
 ^^Proof, just to give you a little perspective on how close these animals really were!^^
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
 ^^A man went down the trail a ways and sat down.  Soon the goats practically made him a part of the scenery.^^
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
 ^^Seriously?!  Seriously, she just stood there like she was asking to have her picture taken.^^
goats, wildlife, glacier national park
 ^^The crazy juxtaposition of flowers and snow^^

And back down at the beginning of the trail, we encountered some big horned sheep.  I'm happy and amazed we saw so much wildlife!

 ^^Just wandering through the parking lot, right past our truck.^^

By this time I was anxious to get home and see my baby boys again.  (I missed them!)  We were lucky to have arrived before the smoke set in and to see so many animals.  Though we barely scratched the surface of Glacier, I think we came away with a good feel for the true majesty of the park.  I'd love to go back again someday with our boys when they're a little bit older to share this extraordinary beauty with them and explore some more.  Thanks for a phenomenal vacation, Montana!

 That's all folks!


(Note: All pictures were taken with my old trusty Canon Rebel Xsi and Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens.  All editing done solely in Lightroom 5.)

Glacier National Park: Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigam

7.23.2014
glacier national park going to the sun road

I promised more eye candy and I am delivering today!  For our first full day in the park, Bron and I thought it was essential to drive Going to the Sun Road: the main road that winds up and up and up through the park and back down again.  The views were incredible!

glacier national park going to the sun road
 ^^What I looked like most of the day^^

If we'd stopped at every turnout that caught my eye, we would have never gone hiking!  I thought I'd have another chance to get my shots the next evening when we'd drive up the road again with some magical golden hour light.  Well, the next evening the mountains happened to be socked in with smoke from fires burning in adjacent states making the views quite hazy.  What a disappointment!  Lesson learned: if something sparks your soul, stop to take a picture NOW!  Oh well.  The feeling of just how majestic the mountains were will just have to live on in memory.  I obviously took plenty of pictures anyway.  Hehe

glacier national park going to the sun road

We made it to the other side of the park where we began the nearly ten mile (round trip) hike to Iceberg Lake.  The trail was busy with people and very well maintained.  Plus, the views... oh, my!  Bron and I got into our rhythm and marched right on up.

glacier national park summer flowers
 ^^Wildflowers EVERYWHERE!^^
glacier national park summer
 ^^Notice the fallen trees all broken sloping downhill from an avalanche^^
glacier national park summer
 ^^I learned that Glacier National Park is also known as the Alps of North America.  Sure fits the description!^^
 ^^Snow in July!  Lots of it.  In fact, some trails were still closed due to snow and wouldn't be open for another couple of days or even weeks.  Crazy!^^

And then we made it to Iceberg Lake!  It was a mountain lake formed at the base of those vertical cliffs you see above that still had huge chunks of ice floating atop its aqua colored water.  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!

iceberg lake glacier national park
iceberg lake glacier national park jumping on ice
 ^^Of course we took off our shoes and waded out into the ice cold water just to climb on top of a giant piece of ice for a photo!  Jumping just made me even cooler.  :)^^

We were floored.  Iceberg Lake took the cake as my favorite thing we did/saw on our entire trip.

We ate a picnic lunch and headed back down the trail.  About halfway down, the Ptarmigam trail (five miles round trip) veered off and practically begged us to explore it too.  So we did.  Bron was actually kind of planning on hiking this one since the beginning.  He knows how to push every ounce of energy out of me.  That's just how we roll on vacation.

glacier national park ptarmigam hike
 ^^Water...
glacier national park ptarmigam hike
 ...and more water.  So pretty!^^
 ^^We passed another glacial lake and these colorful rocks as well.  The purples and blues were everywhere!^^

At the top of the trail there was a tunnel through the mountain that led out onto a spectacular view of the lesser seen inside of the park.  Perhaps one day we'll bring our boys here and backpack down to the lake. Maybe.  Anyhow, the scene called for a kiss on top of the world with my Honey!

^^Insert Imagine Dragons song, I'm On Top of the World!  It was running through my head about then.^^
glacier national park ptarmigam hike
 ^^The tunnel entrance^^
glacier national park ptarmigam hike
 ^^Someone pinch me!^^

Fifteen miles and seven hours later, we arrived at the bottom of the trail exhausted but triumphant.  And STARVING!  So we grabbed dinner at the Many Glacier lodge on this lake.  It was like a dream!  I could totally spend a summer up there with a view like that every evening.  

glacier national park many glacier lodge summer july
glacier national park many glacier

A breathtaking day (both literally and figuratively) that I'm sure we'll remember for the rest of our lives.