New Zealand Part 3

You can read Part 2 here.

The next day, we arose early at 6:00 am to get to Queenstown by 8 for a 4×4 off-roading Lord of the Rings Adventure.

Our driver’s name was Jenny, and she was such an informative guide. Not only did she show us the different filming locations for LOTR, but also added little film facts, as well as regional history. She told us that Chinese and Saudi Arabian tourists make up the majority of people visiting in the Summer, so we were a bit of a novelty. She gets to meet some fascinating people, and just adores her job. Although Frankton is an hour away from us, the entire Glenorchy, Queenstown, Frankton area has this small town feel where everyone knows everyone else. There is a sense of accountability, which is refreshing to me. If a celebrity wants to make a good impression with the Kiwis, they need to really show the people they care about them and the land. They will be respected and revered for what they do, not who they are. I really love that.

The car went over rough winding mountain roads that were a little too much for my taste, and by that I mean half the time I spent clutching the seat with my eyes shut tight. Although she was an excellent driver and completely competent, I don’t think I would choose to endure the bumps and jumps that those vehicles are famous for, voluntarily, again. However, the girls both thought it was fantastic and enjoyed the entire thing. We splashed through rivers, and drove over rocks, all the while learning about this beautiful country and it’s past. At one of the stops on the river, we got to pan for gold (didn’t find any), as we found out New Zealand’s mountains were teaming with it, and is what attracted many settlers here, originally.

Scotch Broom is invasive here too.

There are different rock formations that people have decided look like other things. This one is “Upside Down Elephant” or “Castle”.

“King Kong”

“tower”

I am not usually the adventerous type, and my stomach may still be up on a ledge somewhere, but I think this trip was definitely worth it.

New Zealand Part 2

Kiwis (the local people) we have met have all been lovely. Seriously great folk. I am loving learning all of their expressions and listening to their lovely dialect.

Routeburn Track

Only one day after we landed, we went on an (estimated- because I cannot convert metric to save my life) 8 mile guided tramp (hike) on the Routeburn Track (trail). We were led by Adam, a wellness consultant who was delightful. He graciously answered our questions and got along great with Jim. He was a fount of knowledge. We found out that NZ doesn’t have any indigenous mammals, aside from a type of bat, and was only home to birds at one time. Settlers have brought in many small invasive species, though, and their beautiful birds have suffered for it. I was happy to hear that there aren’t any large predatory mammals (ie: bear, wolves, cougar, etc) which made hiking all the better. While walking we heard the most beautiful bird song and I could fully concentrate on listening to it instead of tuning into every little snap and crack. It was hard not to feel as protective as the locals of preserving their native birds. Each call was its own melody. We also observed, while hiking or driving or walking, that there isn’t any litter on the side of the road or trails. When I asked, he told us the Department of Conservation is good about drilling this into people, and the locals all really love where they live, so they take pride in it. They are wonderful stewards of nature. If they see someone litter, it is remedied right away.

Routeburn Track

The water here is crystal clear, extremely cold, and absolutely delicious. You can drink right from the source.

Our Falafel (J) hiked faster than us all, and since it was only one path and no one could get lost, she was consistently out of our sight for most of the walk. Before we turned to head back down, Adam took us to an incredible clearing with rushing water that was clean enough to drink. The girls loved this.

Our hot swollen tootsies needed to soak in that freezing water. Getting back to our Hobbit roots.

Routeburn Track

Routeburn Track

Her happy place

Routeburn Track

Routeburn Track

Routeburn Track

I soon realized there are no bad views. Everywhere you look is perfection.

This one made me giggle. We were trying to imitate a Chinese tourist who came up with the best ways to pose for her selfies.

The hike was uphill for a good portion, but so satisfying. We were all sore that night and the next morning.

Someone had to take the photo, so we did two

Routeburn Track

All sweaty and joyful

You can read all about Day 1 here.

New Zealand Part 1

So this happened.

lake wakitipu

We had this amazing opportunity to spend some time in the beautiful country of New Zealand come up and we jumped on it. I cannot even express how very surreal it all is, especially to vacate our lives. I am writing this while we are still here, so beware of changing tenses (sorry grammar folks. I will try to do my best). For the next month, this blog will be a place to share our journey. I appologize if you are here for sewing/ crafting/ creating as there will be little of that shared. For everyone else, welcome to our family’s Adventures.

Kia Ora!

lake wakitipu

lake wakitipu

We left our home on November 26th at 9 am and arrived in Queenstown, NZ at 11:30 am on November 28, 2017 after taking a car to the ferry, the light rail to the airport, and three planes (Seattle to Canada, Vancouver to Auckland, and Auckland to Queenstown). And just like that, we went from cold, dreary, wet winter to sunny, hot, and dry Summer.

Glenorchy

The view when we landed was spectacular. Driving on the right side of the car, and the left side of the road, however,  has taken some getting used to. Let’s not even talk about Traffic Circles. I drove, straight from the airport, an hour on an incredible winding road to the small town of Glenorchy. The best part of staying here is opening the screenless doors wide to let the breeze through the entire house, and sitting on the couch, staring at the many mountains that surround the town. Well, that and the fact the insect population really only (so far) consists of fat fuzzy bumble bees, large horse flies (that don’t bite), and sand flies (which do bite- but live mostly on beaches and go for any exposed ankle flesh). It is remarkable how very relaxed we are when there isn’t any possibility of being stung or bitten.

These photos are all from Lake Wakitipu which is within short walking distance from where we are staying. Yes, we spend LOTS of time here.

Lake Wakitipu

Lake Wakitipu

Right away we were advised about the strength of the sun. There is a giant hole in the ozone layer over New Zealand which means no buffer between your skin and the sun’s rays. It is incredibly intense, and feels like it is burning right through you. Because of this, there is a very high rate of skin cancer here. They announce the daily “burn time” which, when we first arrived was 8 minutes. And it was. Our fair skinned redhead was outside for 5 minutes and her skin started to pink. So the locals all stress the importance of wearing a hat and sunscreen when you are out, at all times. Even in the car.

The other thing that Glenorchy in particular has, is strong winds. Out of nowhere. BOOM wind.

Lake Wakitipu

A short walk away from the house is Lake Wakitipu, which is the most vibrant teal color, and ice cold (8 degrees). We cannot seem to keep our youngest out of it! She loves wading in the frigid water, and skipping stones while standing on the long sandbars. In fact, she has adopted a policy of being barefoot and feral as often as she can. And although we have seen many kids (and adults) walking around barefoot in stores, she has kept hers to the outdoors- over any terrain.

Lake Wakitipu

The time difference isn’t terrible. The way our brains need to process it: NZ is 3 hours behind WA state, and a day ahead. Ha! It works, and so far, we can calculate when to talk/email with our people back home.

I’d say that is a good place to stop on Day 1.

Custom Leotards

If you follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter (see sidebar), you probably know that I now make and sell Custom Leotards! 

You may ask “Why Custom?”. Wouldn’t it be less effort if I just made general sizes and could keep the costs down? Yes, but then I would be no different than the big box stores, or large manufacturers, right? Well, I started this business because I saw a need. I was spending up to 50.00 per off-the-rack leotard for my own gymnast and none of them fit her right. She would complain that the shoulders were too tight, or armholes too snug, or tug on the bottom because it wasn’t long enough in the torso. If we went up a size, it hung off her like baggy elephant skin. When I discovered I could customize a leotard to her particular measurements, I heard an angelic chorus it fit like a glove. Or rather, like a leotard should fit. It suddenly didn’t move around as much when she moved, and this freed her up to be concerned with more important things she was doing, instead of fussing with her clothing.

I then started to notice the fit of other gymnasts’ leotards, and realized it was not just my girl that had this problem. You know how once you identify a problem, you cannot unsee it? And here’s the kicker: EVERYONE HAS A UNIQUE BODY!

Hence, Flip and Bend was born.

Custom leotards

I have just recently opened it up to anyone in the contiguous United States. SO, if you are interested in purchasing a cutsom leo, you can request to join my group. I wanted this to be more than a store, but an interactive community. I ask you two questions as part of my screening process. Please answer them so I know a little bit about your needs and if you would be a good fit. I encourage parents to share photos, and I share photos of my gymnast in order to show fit, so I made it a closed group to respect privacy.

custom leotards

With that said, if you are interested, I would love you to join!

Hope to see you there.

More Senior Photos

Are you tired of these yet? I hope not because today I have more Senior photos to share. I don’t think I ever will tire of these. This time, I had the honor of photographing one of my daughter’s best friends, whom we have known for many years now, and completely adore.

More Senior Photos

More Senior Photos

More Senior Photos

More Senior Photos

More Senior Photos

More Senior Photos

Can you tell that I am having so much fun? I adore these photo sessions capturing this time of life and these amazing young humans.

What have YOU been working on?

Another Guy Senior Portrait

With School starting up again, Senior portrait time is in full swing, and I am loving it. I had the privilege of doing Another Guy Senior Portrait. This time it was for someone my family has known for 9 years. Sheesh. Where does time go?!

Guy Senior Portait idea

I always ask the people I photograph to choose a place that means something to them. Even their own home. I want them to be able to look back at the photos and not only connect to their younger selves, but to the place itself, where the photos were taken.

Guy Senior Portrait idea

The other thing I do is I give minimal direction. These young people all come up with some fabulous poses, and positions, that are all part of who they are. If I asked them to stand a certain way or pose them, it wouldn’t be as natural. And honestly, they come up with things that are way better than anything I would! I just follow the light.

Guy Senior Portrait idea

This is the second “guy” photo session I have done, and I am finding that no matter the gender, these young adults really all shine in their own ways. So far, everyone has been up to the “challenge” of being in front of the camera lens. And for some of us (*ahem* that is why I am behind the lens) it is certainly a challenge.

Guy Senior Portrait ideas

Not so much for this young man.

Guy Senior Portrait ideas

Goodness these are super fun.

Guy Senior Portrait ideas

Have you taken Senior photos? What do you normally do?? What is your favorite part about it?

Baby Gifts

I am about to become an Auntie again, so of course I had a good excuse to make up some adorable baby gifts!

baby gifts

These two gifts are my absolute favorites to make for new babies. You can see others I made here, here, and here.

baby gifts

I know babies kick shoes off, but I cannot help but make them anyway. Just simply adorable. Everytime I make them I remember just how tiny babies are.

baby gifts

We cannot wait to meet the new little one. I hope our brother and sister-in-law like these gifts.

What is your go-to baby gift to make?

Guy Senior Photos

I never realized it before, but I have only photographed girls for their Senior pics…until now! I did my first ever Guy Senior Photos this past weekend, and it was so much fun. And what’s even better, I had the privilege of photographing The Bee’s close friend. Someone we have known for 4 years now.

Guy Senior Photos

Guy Senior Photos

Guy Senior Photos

Guy Senior Photos

Guy Senior Photos

He’s such a serious person…. mostly.

Guy Senior Photos

The thing I appreciate the most about doing these is just how very unique each of these young people are. I love discovering their true selves through my lens, and seeing their personalities shining through. It seems to be difficult for most people to be in front of the camera, so I never give direction. I don’t want the photos to look over-posed and unnatural. Instead, I let them lead, and I find that by the end of the session, they have opened up and are having some fun. That’s really what it is all about, isn’t it?

Simple Leggings Pattern tour

Simple Legging pattern tour

Welcome, if you are stopping by on the Simple Leggings Pattern tour! As you may know, the fabulous liZ and Elizabeth of Simple Simon have released this girls leggings pattern that fits sizes 2T-14. If you follow this blog at all. then you also know that my gymnast practically lives in leotards and stretch pants, so this was a perfect fit (pun intended)!

Simple Leggings pattern tour

Firstly, let me tell you about how incredibly easy this pattern is….

Simple Leggings pattern tour

SUPER EASY! Like so easy it only has one pattern piece, three seams, one elastic casing, and no hemming necessary! Holy stretch pants, that is my kind of pattern.

Simple Leggings pattern tour

I used a spandex blend that was labeled “active wear”, which was a dreamy match for these. Of course if you wanted a more casual everyday/schoolwear look, there are other options. Simple Leggings would look great in any knit!

Simple Leggings pattern tour

Not only are they really wonderful to wear to the gym, but also paired with “street clothes” such as a t-shirt or dress or shirt and skirt combo, (like most people would wear), too. I know she is going to get a lot of use out of them, and has already requested more! Honestly, they took me about 10 minutes to sew up (it took longer to photograph), so I wouldn’t mind making a whole closet full!

If you want to purchase your own copy, you can do so here.

Thank you for stopping by!

Fairytale Senior Photos

Do you remember all the kids I have witnessed graduating High School (like here, here, and here) in the last few years, capturing them with my lens and being in awe of just how fast time really goes? Well, my oldest is a Senior this year, and it was time to photograph her for her own Senior Photos, and mark this time before it passes all too quickly.

If you have followed us on this journey here, you know that The Bee marches to her own fashion drummer. She loves vintage apparel, and often ends up finding real treasures. Upon finding this Vintage 1979 Gunne Sax prom/bridesmaid dress (for a whopping .50 cents) and being true to her nature, she requested a “Fairytale” Fantasy photo session. We had so much fun.

Fairy Tale Senior Portrait

Fairy Tale Senior Portrait

Fairytale Senior Portrait

Fairytale Senior Portrait

Fairy Tale Senior Portrait

Fairy Tale Senior Portrait

Fairy Tale Senior Portrait

I thought that I would have more time when my kids got older, and now realize how silly that is. Creating “more” time somehow, when our lives are broader, and fuller than ever before. When they learn to ride bikes, we run alongside them to help, then let go, while remaining there, watching, and waiting to see if we need to comfort or cheer, all the time with encouraging eyes. No less involved from that stationary place, in the road, as we observe with conflicted hearts. We are currently running beside her as she figures out where her life is headed and what contributions she can make in our world. This last year of High school will be full for all of us, as we prepare to let go a little bit, while watching and waiting to see what is needed, all the time with encouraging eyes.