Saturday, August 31, 2013

Whirlwind Tour Part Three: Family Photos

It had only been about ten months since we last had family photos taken, but since we were visiting and there was a tiny new McMillin, the girls decided another session was in order.

To fully appreciate the following images, you would have had to be behind the scenes to witness the chaos of herding the children into place and trying to keep them there (and smiling no less) with all manner of bribery. I'm sure it would have been entertaining.

The McMillins

My crew

What's this - just the two of us? How novel!

Riker and Ari

My most favorite photo of all!

Aaron, Heather, Teagan, Cael and Porter

Keith, Liz, Gavin and Edward

Grammy and Grandpa's clan

Friday, August 30, 2013

Whirlwind Tour Part Two: Cleveland

After a lovely week in Minnesota, we boarded another plane and made the short journey to Ohio. The friendly McMillin airport shuttle service collected us from the airport and kindly made a stop at Chipotle for burrito hungry travelers.

Landing at the grandparents house, we were delighted to see everyone and the kids were thrilled to be reunited with their cousins.

We hadn't been back long when we started opening packages to finally get our hands on our brand new camera that we ordered six months ago but couldn't get through Australian customs without paying $800! We had it sent back to Cleveland hoping it would arrive in time for Carl and Jan's visit in May, but alas, the package took the slow boat. We'd starting filling out the insurance forms for lost packages when it finally arrived back in the US three months after it had been turned away from Australia.

One of my goals for 2013 was to improve my photography skills and I knew that with a nicer camera this would happen automatically and that I'd then have the chance to really improve once I learned the manual settings. So back in January I set to researching what kind of camera I would get and was pretty sure it would be a DSLR. Then Brian got involved in the research and it got complicated as he wanted a camera that had some pretty specific video capabilities. After MUCH deliberation we settled on the Panasonic Lumix GH3, a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that rivals the performance of a DSLR but is smaller.

It didn't take much playing around with the new camera to realize that we both loved it! I was so relieved it wasn't broken after all that time in transit and was thrilled that it was looking like it would meet our needs nicely. Hooray! So hopefully you'll notice that as of this post, image quality has improved drastically. I've still got lots to learn about this camera and still miss otherwise amazing shots due to focusing issues but I'm looking forward to years of beautiful photos and video. The biggest problem with the new camera is that it's so easy to take great shots, we came home with 1100 photos from a three week holiday! As if finding the time to sort photos and blog wasn't difficult enough already!

Without further ado - I give you Cleveland in pictures:

Riker meets Porter for the first time at five weeks
Porter's proud mama and papa
Grammy snuggles
Sweet Edward isn't a baby anymore!
Auntie Heather and Ari enjoy a story
Ari and Riker were excited to find their favorite toys from Grammy and Grandpa's hose
So wonderful to be outdoors in the beautiful summer wesather
Edward, Gavin and Ari 
Aunt Nancy and Porter

We only spent a few days in Cleveland before heading off to a week long getaway in upstate New York. But first, there was one important family ritual to complete. Next post = McMillin family circus photos!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Whirlwind Tour Part One: Minnesota

We've just returned from a whirlwind three week adventure to the US. We flew from Canberra to Sydney to San Francisco to Minneapolis before driving to Litchfield to spend a week visiting my mom and friends. Then we flew to Cleveland where we spent a couple days with Brian's family before driving to New York (with a detour to Canada to visit Niagara Falls) for a family getaway in the Adirondacks. Whew!

As usual the kids had a grand time with Grandma Betty in Minnesota. As she was recovering from a broken hip and subsequent surgery, we spent most of our time just pottering around the house and garden (which was just fine for a bunch of weary travelers).

The kids admire their new trains from Grandma.

"Thank you Grandma Betty for buying me James." Great when Riker can caption his own photos!

Enjoying beautiful summer days

Self portraits with my mid-size love. Just had to include the one with Ari's hand trying to get in on the action!

Of course, I was very glad to catch up with dear friends (and their kids) as well - Kristy, Tim, Jess, Jason, Douglas, Colleen, Miss Amy - how I love staying connected and reconnecting with people who have been such great friends for so long.

Jessica and Corbin

Conveniently, Tim and Kristy were once again hosting a barn party during our stay which is always a good chance to catch up with old friends. It's also pretty terrific that some of those kids are old enough to babysit my kids when in town. Many thanks to Morgan for looking after the kiddos so we could enjoy the party!

Ari, Aubrey and Riker relax with Peppa Pig

Also, great to catch up with my brother on our last night in the state. Riker warmed immediately to Uncle Gary, despite not having seen him for nearly a year and quickly drew him into his train play.

In Minnesota and throughout the rest of the trip, people were continuously commenting on Riker's adorable accent.  While this was expected, I was surprised to be asked by a clerk in a Litchfield store,
 where I was from. When I noted that Litchfield was my hometown but that I'd been living in Australia for years, she declared, "Oh, I just love your accent!" I can almost hear my Australian friends chuckling heartily.

In the next post - arriving in Cleveland, catching up with the McMillins, mischief with the cousins and meeting baby Porter!