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Creating The 50th Anniversary Book For The Academic Games Leagues Of America

For the past 5 weeks, I, and a few other hands and eyes have been creating a 50th Anniversary book for the Academic Games Leagues Of America.  The book is finally published.  There were stories upon stories to remember. Unfortunately, a great number of these and the photos were never dusted off and taken out of old shoe boxes, many never making it to me to put into this book.  I’m sure if everyone contributed I could have made a book 1,000 pages full!  This book is created with the history of the program and the love of the games in mind.  I hope you will enjoy!

There are many steps in a project this large.  The scanning of old photos, some so brown that we didn’t know if they would print.  There may be some photos that are pixilated, but we felt they were important to the story, the book to be added anyway.  A lot of editing, The finding of names, places and did I say editing?  Composing not only for my creative self, but with my clients wishes in mind. Fortunately, there were no major changes and we were able to send the book to the publisher with a tiny bit of breathing room.

If you would like to take a glimpse of the first 15 pages of THE BOOK, you can click here:

So come on, all you Dopest Nerds and your Dopest Parents – buy a book!  I know the cost is a bit high, but remember the book is nearly 100 pages, 12 inches by 12 inches and is packed full of the history of AGLOA with stories, timelines and many photos.  The high quality of the book is definitely worth the price. There will never be another one like it.

I am very excited to read comments on this project.  Please let me know what you think!  : – )

Our family trip to the Galapagos

When my father-in-law asked the family where we would like to go on a trip together, we were not expecting his suggestion. We thought maybe Europe or New Zealand, but not these set of islands. This place has always seemed so far away, yet it’s still in our eastern time zone.  It has been a dream of mine to photograph since I was a little girl, mostly because it contains a large number of animals, mammals, reptiles and birds that only live on their secluded islands.  Have you guessed it yet?  For me, as a kid, National Geographic had the most memorable photographs from this place. The place I had only dreamed of going to and now I have been, The Galapagos Islands.

Our trip was booked as family adventure.  The 11 days were spent sleeping on a semi-private yacht, with 3 other families. There were boys galore for our 12 year old son to hang out with and my 5 year old niece didn’t seem to mind that she was the only girl, as she did everything that the boys did.  The other parents were wonderful and we felt lucky to be sharing our time with this group.

Each morning we would wake up at a different island.  After breakfast we would head out on a small boat called a panga. Basically a dingy or raft, large enough for 12 people.  Since there were 20 people on the yacht, we had two pangas.  Half of the group would start out on a 1 to 2 hour hike of that days island and the other group would snorkel in the beautiful blue-green water with a variety of fish, penguins, seal lions, sea turtles and even sharks.  Before returning to the yacht on the panga the groups would switch so everyone could partake in the adventures.

After lunch we would have a two to three hour break to lounge on the upper deck of the yacht, watch a movie (the kids favorite thing to do), read a book, jump off the boat,  kayak or take a siesta.  Then mid afternoon we would follow the morning schedule on a different part of the island or discover a new island.

The sites varied from lava rocks, to dry aired land with cactus.  Some islands had large volcanos, one was low and filled with water.  One morning we woke up with our boat inside of a water filled volcano!  It was breathtaking!

Our yacht, called The Letty, through EcoVentura.
The crew was great and the other families were great.
Five boys and one little girl; my niece…what a fun time!
This is the Galapagos airport.
The tower in the middle of a field and only one plane on the tarmac,
waiting for it’s guests to climb the stairs outside.

Three Weeks In Chicago

Chicago in January?  I know, what was I thinking when I said yes to this?  Because of medical issues, I accepted a plea to help family while their anchor person, my brother-in-law was going to be on the east cost for three weeks.  I adore my little preK niece and my sister-in-law, so as soon as I knew my guys would be able to fend for themselves for this long, I headed for Hyde Park.

The temps were pretty cold when I first arrived, but now the snow has melted and we walk to the store with less layers, but the snow angels are a little muddy.

I’ve had a wonderful time with the girls.  We’ve tried many recipies in their GF (gluten free) cookbook, including granola…that was yummy!  I have to admit that my GF cake was the biggest photo fail ever!  Although we’ve found calling it a chocolaty dessert has brought it into a whole new light! I’ve enjoyed the kitty photo shoots and bring on the sparkle glue whenever we have a piece of paper out!  I’ve loved doing all the girl stuff with my niece.

Tomorrow is my last day here in the windy city, but it feels like I just got here yesterday. It’s been wonderful, talking with a writer every day, listening to her thought process.  I think it’s helped me somewhat to clear my head for writing, photography and editing..  I miss my guys, and kitties, but I was thinking today, if I find that the Christmas tree is still up, dishes have not been done for 3 weeks and the kitty litter hasn’t been changed, I’m coming back here a.s.a.p.!  🙂

Christmas and the New Year – 2015

I haven’t been feeling well these past few years, so things seem to go slower and at times, not get finished. This year our Christmas tree was so late that it hardly beat Santa!  That can’t happen again, I told myself.  My parents would always have the tree up after Thanksgiving, so we had a month of lights, watering the tree, presents, chocolates, baking and that special magic that always filled the air in December. Only as a kid I don’t ever remember not having snow.

Along with being late, I think our tree was chosen as a Charlie Brown mercy tree!  It was small, which allowed us to put it up on a table this year.  That was nice, as our condo can be quite crowded at times, but it also had another little imperfection, a slight lean.  Did I say slight?  I meant to say, isosceles triangle type lean!  It was fine when one looked at it head on, but from the side it looked like King Kong had sat on the top of it, causing it to lean further and further down, coming only partially back up when the gorilla finally touched the ground!

I love cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping presents and having family and friends over to rekindle the love that I always felt as a kid.  Even though there was only the three of us, mom, dad and myself, we made so many beautiful memories, including many others that we loved. I truly love sharing those traditions with my own family now that my parents are both gone.

The fun continued the next three days with a trip to my in-laws and visiting with my husbands family.  I love watching the cousins play! Reminds me of the hundreds of cousins that I used to play with, especually during the holidays.
Then I smile, but there’s still no snow.

San Francisco in November – 2014

As I was listening to Sheryl Crow on Pandora, her words, The Change, Will Do You Good, seeped into my brain like a tiny woman on my shoulder, telling me to do it, just do it.  So I decided yes, let’s do it!

First, even though airports are notoriously the place you want to stay away from during the holidays, we booked our flights for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, returning the Monday after…hoping this would take some of the anxiety off the to and from.

Our hotel is one that my in-laws knew of, being close to relatives in Palo Alto, CA. We were intrigued by the name, Hotel California and the fact that they housed 2 cats.  The thought of running into a cat in the small, old-fashioned, California style hotel, made us smile with glee just thinking about it.

Our flights were great and the weather was a wonderful sunny 72* when we landed.  As we towed our luggage up the stairs to the second story of the building, I found myself noticing the clean, but old patterns of the carpeting and singing the Eagles song, true to the name of the place.  This happened a few times as I walked these small, yet comfortable, like grandma’s old house, halls.

There was a small kitchen, similar to one that you might find in an old cabin up north for hunters. It was packed with dishes, silverware and the essentials in the fridge, milk, juice, butter, bread and a different yummy treat in a woven basket on the table each morning, along with some fruit. We bought some yogart, cereal and berries at a nearby story, labeled them and housed them in the refrigerator for the week.  If there wasn’t a name on it, it was free for anyone to partake of.

We were not disappointed with the cats, although one seemed very shy or had other rooms that it preferred.  Every morning we had a visitor come to our door, which we would realize because of the little “mew” outside of our door.  We let the tiger cat in and he soaked up all the love that we wanted to give.  It was glorious for both the humans and the feline.

Our days were packed with hiking, family lunches, dinners, sightseeing, walking the campus at Stanford, driving down the coast and of course, much photo taking. I love visiting this family each year for Thanksgiving.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and we would have around 20 people around our normally small dining room table which would be stretched out during this time for all to sit down. This year was especially nice because of  the warm weather. I have to admit, the change did me good.

AGLOA Project

I’m beginning to prepare a special book for the Academic Games 50th anniversary.  This huge celebration will be in Orlando, Florida, April 2015.  To have this book out before next year’s nationals at the end of April, I’m taking all memorable, new and especially old now.

I recently finished this year’s book, which can be ordered through  49th AGLOA NATIONALS in Knoxville, TN   for all participants.  This book is over 60 pages of captured fun, laughter, disappointments and celebrations over the 4 days.  I loved creating their zen lifestyle book!

Have a ZEN filled day!

2014 Soccer

Looking forward to spring soccer!  It will be great to be outside again to see the boys battle it out.

While getting revved up for this summers FIFA WORLD CUP in Brazil, take a drive down to Detroit and have some real fun!  The Detroit City Football Club is a fantastic watch for adults and kids alike.  Do note, that there is a true fan side and a family side.  It will be in your best interest to choose accordingly. They have a great stadium at Cass Tech with easy parking, if you don’t arrive too late.  You may even see some of your favorite footballers from area Universities playing! Fun for everyone!

The DCFC home schedule is for 2014 can be found on their website:

A look at their new roster additions:

 This is the family side…(just kidding). 

Detroit City FC is a minor league soccer team that plays in the National Premier Soccer League’s Midwest Great Lakes Conference. Founded in 2012, Detroit City FC has established itself as one of the most talked about soccer teams in North America and the grassroots embodiment of a resurgent city.

Travel Photography – Chicago

I LOVE VISITING CHICAGO.  Its bustling pace, endless opportunities and grande views take me in every time I’m there.  Our most recent visit was quick, but even after a lifetime of visiting the windy city, it still surprises me.

This time my son and I explored the Chicago river on an architectural tour.  I now question why I didn’t do this much sooner.  The history of this city and even its buildings, rich with famous architects fills your senses and makes you feel proud to be a part of it…even if you’re not a native. 



Then there are the museums.  Which one to peruse, but honestly, how many times can one go to a museum?  Well, as true museum goers know, as many times as one wants!  We finally bought the family membership at the Museum of Science and Industry with friends (who live there), so we can go again and again and again.  This time we experienced Animals Inside Out.  It was quite amazing and I would recommend it highly.

Of course there’s the food.  During two other adventures, my Yelper-app-happy husband discovered Yolk and Frank and Dawg’s  These were two of his most advantageous finds, along with Girl and the Goat, but I’ll save that review for another time.  All I can say, go hungry and don’t be afraid to try something out-of-the-dog.

To top it off, I snuck out of bed after midnight, gathered my Nikon, reset my speed and ap, and shot away at the beautiful city scape while hubby and son were peacefully sleeping. 
Ahhh…my kind of getaway!

Charity of the month for May – SUICIDE PREVENTION

As with many of the charities that I donate or become involved in, this one is very close to my heart.

On December 31st, 2012, my beautiful cousin Justin took his life. His ever smiling face (below, right) is missed by family and so many friends, still hurting deeply from their loss. Justin’s brother Jeremy Howie will be participating in an over night walk in Washington DC on June 1st to raise money for awareness, education and prevention of suicide. 


If you have lost someone to suicide or just feel the compassion to support those who have, please donate for Jeremy, our family and many others, who all thank you from deep within our hearts. – Janice Nelson – Z.E.N. Photography Lifestyles