Yosemite 2017

Last year’s Hawaii trip was wonderful, but this year we stayed closer to home and did a California Road Trip, featuring Malibu, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Simeon, and Yosemite.  On the way back to San Diego, we spent a night in Anaheim and enjoyed Knott’s Berry Farm before heading home.  As they say, the best camera is the one that you have in your hands, so my iPhone 7+ was the go-to solution for times when I didn’t want to lug the big gun, but I intentionally brought my 70-200 lens to play with, and the waterfalls and wildlife at Yosemite were too much to resist!  The most-photographed activity of our vacation turned out to be a rock-stacking detour off the trail on a short walk to Yosemite Falls.  Even though it was about 11:00am, the lighting was wonderfully even and pretty because of the tree cover.  I couldn’t resist taking lots of shots of the kids and their daddies (and my daddy) stacking rocks and exploring the nearby stream.

First stop . . . Santa Monica Pier for some beach photography!  Every beach is different, and this seemed more like a morning session to me, even though it was right at sunset!  The sun actually sank 180 degrees away from the water!  That made for great blue-sky lighting.

Beach Photography | Amy Gray Photography
Beach Photography | Amy Gray Photography
Beach Photography | Amy Gray Photography
Beach Photography | Amy Gray Photography
Beach Photography | Amy Gray Photography

I skipped toting my big camera to Morro Bay and Hearst Castle, so we’re skipping straight to Yosemite.  Here we are, driving in.

Road Trip | Amy Gray Photography

Group shot on our first day in the park.  My sister’s family hadn’t arrived yet.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

The next morning, we drove up to Glacier Point to get a bird’s-eye view of the National Park.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

We enjoyed seeing this little guy!

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

This is a stitched-together panorama from my Canon 5Div.  I even got it to work as one of those Facebook panos by changing the Exim data.  Fancy!

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

Favorite guys.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

We stayed at the Yosemite View Lodge, where the Merced River ran right outside our window.  We spent time watching it from the patio, reading, and just relaxing.  The guys took the kids down to the pool.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

On the second day, we spent the hottest part of the day at the hotel and then headed back into the park for the afternoon.  We decided to go biking, and it turned out to be my favorite activity of the vacation!  No big camera shots of biking, but here’s one of the deer we met in the parking lot!

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

As promised, rock stacking the next morning with the whole family.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

At some point, we finally decided to move on!  Here we are at Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

Compulsive rock-stack picture on the way BACK.  (I seem to have an issue.)

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

From our balcony at the hotel.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

On the road again.  One last stop before heading to Knott’s.

Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography
Yosemite | Amy Gray Photography

Maui Vacation 2016

Our family’s first Hawaii experience was wonderful! The skies were blue, the water was clear, and the wildlife was friendly! Everything was just as advertised, and everyone wants to go back ASAP. We stayed on Maui near Napili Bay, and I had a great time experimenting with underwater photos, long-exposures, and beach photography in an environment much different than San Diego.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

This is “Geico,” our friendly neighborhood Gecko.  Steven loved watching for him every day on our lanai.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach PhotographyMaui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Relaxing at Napili Bay Beach and trying out the waterproof camera.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

We celebrated my dad’s 68th birthday with a fun Ziplining tour.  Here’s the whole crew:

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

There was a photographer at Maui Zipline, and we purchased a disk of fun images of us all ziplining.  He did a great job!  The tour was excellent.  We felt very safe as the guides explained how the gear worked and that we would not plummet to our deaths.  Even the kids felt comfortable and we all had fun together and made a lifetime memory!

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After lunch and shopping, we headed to Lahaina for Ululani’s Shave Ice.  All of my Facebook friend Maui aficionados recommended this, and we loved it!  I had a rootbeer vanilla coconut with a snowcap.  They put ice cream in the bottom!  So yummy!

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

That night, we all headed over to the bay to watch the sunset.  The kids couldn’t resist the water.  Especially Steven.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach PhotographyThe big, powerful waves at sunset made long-exposures a fun option.  Hold still, kids.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

The next day, we went snorkeling at Kapalua Bay, which was just a short walk away from our hotel.  My sister got the good underwater shots since she had a great GoPro set-up and functioning snorkel gear (whereas mine tried to drown me), but here are a few things that happened in my camera that day.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Boogie boarding worked best at Napili Bay, so we spent another day there, enjoying the crashing waves and marveling at the amount of sand the undertow could embed in one’s swimsuit.
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Steven spent more time playing in the sand than body boarding that day.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Out for dinner again, we drove through a beautiful golf course, then back to Lahaina for dessert.  The Banyan Tree is host to thousands of myna birds at sunset, and it was fun to hear them all chorusing as they roosted for the night.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

I got up early the next morning to catch the sunrise.  These are some of my favorite landscape photos of the trip.  That’s Molokai Island in the distance.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Uncle Tommy taught the kids how to play Steven’s new Ukulele.  They may need another lesson.  Our hotel had a special breakfast on Friday morning, and it was fun to meet the other guests.  The birds also attended.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Our last day-trip was to Iao Valley, where we saw beautiful waterfalls and the natural Hawaiian terrain.  It was a short hike . . . just enough to work up a good appetite for Cheeseburgers in Paradise.  And gelato.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Even after a full day, some people can’t stay out of the water when staying near the beach.  My dad is one of those people.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

I am also one of those people.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Next morning, up early for a sunrise photo session.  We were experiencing wind and rain from Tropical Storm Darby, but oh well.  When in Hawaii, one does beach photos.  We were out of sunsets, and it wasn’t a hurricane yet.

Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography
Maui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach PhotographyMaui Vacation Photography | Hawaii Beach Photography

Forest Home Family Camp 2016

We just got back from Forest Home Christian Camp’s Family Camp, and it was just as much fun this year as last! Last year, the weather was cold and foggy, but this year was absolutely beautiful, and we loved experiencing Lake Mears, kayaking, and checking out the zip line (okay, only Lissa did that). The food was amazing, as usual, and the worship and teaching were exactly perfect. I am the proud owner of about six CDs by the worship artist, Justin Unger, and checking my mailbox for the new release, which I preordered!

This is about how happy the kids were to be back at Forest Home . . .

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp
Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

We brought some board games to play in the cabin, and Steven spent quite a bit of time chronicling his adventures in a new journal.

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

Sunday was lake day, when we all drove the few short minutes to Lake Mears, where our kids got in the water, other kids slip-n-slided, Lissa got a “Fo-Ho” bear painted on her back (which lasted about 2 minutes because it got rubbed off by the life vest she wore when paddleboarding), and everyone ate hamburgers and hot dogs.

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family CampForest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp
Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp
Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp
Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

After lunch, we went kayaking, and Steven happened to be first in line when a “single” kayak came up.  We stuck him in it and pushed him off before realizing that we had offered exactly ZERO training in paddling.  We shouted “LEFT!!! LEFT!!!” from the dock, and he eventually figured out how to make the thing turn.

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Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

Unplugged family game time.  Spot It! is a really fun game!

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

The Craft Cabin is our family’s FAVORITE.  A tiny store offers all sorts of fun crafting materials for sale, and everything else you need (paint, scissors, hot glue, leather punches) is provided free.  Lissa tried her hand at leather tooling and painting glass this time, and Steven painted a turtle among other projects.

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

The dining hall is one of the most amazing things about camp.  Short lines, excellent food (every lunch and dinner starts with a big dark-green salad), and wonderful servers who are volunteers from a church youth group.  This year, the ribs and tri-tip were especially delicious.  This is NOT your typical camp food!

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

This happened.

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp
Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

We grabbed a few photos of Katlyn on Sunday evening.  She is Steven’s CCA (Childcare Assistant) and is a HUGE part of what makes Forest Home so much fun for him.  While we are in our evening programs, Katlyn comes and takes Steven on adventures.  Like Steven, Katlyn is very artistic, so they had a great time in the craft cabin this year, making each other projects.

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp
Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

The LAST DAY.  Steven woke up SOBBING because we had to leave.  He was just pitiful . . . just like last year.  We may need more camp in our lives!

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The kids sang “The Change in Me” and “Hip-Hip-Hip Hippopotamus,” and Steven stood there looking handsome but not singing.  Whereas his sister would like to be Music Mama (who LEADS and TEACHES the songs) when she grows up, Steven is not an “up on stage” kind of guy.

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

One last family photo before the drive home.

Forest Home Christian Camp | Family Camp

San Diego Beach Photography

When my friend Stacey contacted me about a session for her sixth-grade daughter, it occurred to me that I, too, had a sixth grade daughter . . . and this could be really fun.  It was!!  Along with Lissa’s best friend Sascha, the girls dressed in long dresses and flower crowns, and they had a blast frolicking on the beach.   Onlookers called them nymphs.  I can see it!

Sometimes being twelve (or thirteen, in Sascha’s case) isn’t that easy.  I really enjoyed celebrating these beautiful girls and capturing them playing together in this last sweet season of childhood.

San Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach Portraits
San Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach Portraits
San Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach Portraits
San Diego Tween PhotographerSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach Portraits
San Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach PortraitsSan Diego Tween Photography | Beach Portraits

A Snowy Snoopy Birthday | Peanuts Christmas Movie Birthday Party Photography

If there’s anything about our family, it’s that we love a project and a party, and a project/party at Christmastime is even more special and makes such fun family memories.  For the last several years, we have used Steven’s birthday, just three days before Christmas, as a fabulous excuse to have some serious family fun.  (More parties:  Big Hero SIX & Robot Party)

Since Steven’s 7th Birthday (and the peak of his affection for all things Snoopy) coincided with the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the movie “A  Charlie Brown Christmas,” it was easy to choose a theme for Steven’s birthday party this year.  Steven and his Papa (my dad) love to build and plan together, and they started early in preparation for the Snoopy party.  On one Saturday, they built and painted Snoopy’s house and Lucy’s psychology stand, with working Christmas lights and everything!

Papa’s Park is always the perfect venue for a kids’ party, complete with zip-line, playhouse, jungle-gym, and spinning ride . . . but we kept the faux snow a secret from Steven until just a day ahead of time.  The snow really made the whole backyard a realistic winter wonderland!  The kids had a blast throwing snowballs, dumping snow on each other, and sliding around in it.  The falling snow (snow bubble solution) brought renewed excitement every time Papa started it up again.  These Southern California kids don’t see a lot of snow, and this was a typical winter day in San Diego . . . sixty-eight degrees.

For lunch, along with pizza, we enjoyed “Thanksgiving leftovers” (inspired by “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”): popcorn, pretzel sticks, jelly beans, and toast. Custom-made Peanuts character cookies by the amazing Mike Harness of 828 Bakes were the highlight of the dessert table, along with a cake with a real Charlie Brown Christmas tree and some fun cupcakes.

The piñata was filled with Christmas candy and Peanuts themed toys (thank you, Oriental Trading Company!), and each child also got to make a bag of his or her own snow to take home.  It was so much fun to see their faces when the instant snow turned from a salt-like consistency into “real” snow when water was added.

San Diego Child Photography | Charlie Brown Christmas PartyCharlie Brown Cake | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartySan Diego Child Photography | Charlie Brown Christmas PartySan Diego Child Photography | Charlie Brown Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Amy Gray PhotographySnow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartySan Diego Child Photography | Charlie Brown Christmas PartySan Diego Custom Cookies | 828 BakesSan Diego Custom Cookies | 828 BakesSan Diego Photographer | Amy Gray PhotographySan Diego Photographer | Amy Gray PhotographySan Diego Photographer | Amy Gray PhotographySan Diego Photographer | Amy Gray PhotographyFaux Snow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartyFaux Snow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartyFaux Snow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartyFaux Snow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartyFaux Snow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartySnow Angels | Charlie Brown Peanuts Party2015-12-21_0056San Diego PhotographySnow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartySnow Party | Charlie Brown Peanuts Party828 Bakes | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartySan Diego Photographer | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySnoopy Birthday Party 2015-12-21_00542015-12-21_00552015-12-21_0057San Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Charlie Brown Peanuts PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego PhotographerSan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas PartySan Diego Photographer | Fake Snow Christmas Party

Venue: Papa’s Park (Thank you Mom & Daddy!)
Cake & Cupcakes: Albertsons
Cookies:  828 Bakes
Snow & Snowballs: Snowonder
Pinata: Etsy
Blow-up Snoopy: The Naffziger Family
Plates, Decor, Pinata Toys:  Oriental Trading Company
Steven’s Charlie Brown Shirt: eBay

Flames of Glory | Coronado Beach Photography

My daughter Lissa (11) and I had a fun girls’ night out with our friends Erin and Sascha (13). Lissa and Sascha have been friends all their lives, and recently they asked Laura Lee Bonde of Flames of Glory to make them “best friend worship flags” after attending a church event and experiencing worship with flags. Their silk flags were custom made and dyed with the girls’ requested colors. They loved dancing on the beach with them!  Thank you, Laura!

Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer
Flames of Glory Worship Flags | San Diego Family Photographer

The Cousins Photo Session 2015

For the last five years, my sister and I have been organizing a special photo session for our kids for our mom’s birthday gift. When we started, our children were two, four, and seven. Hard to believe they’re now six, eight, and eleven.  Growing up!  This year, we even let the kids do some of the photography!

Here are years past:  2011, 2012, 2013, 2014:

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. . . and here is 2015!  We had two cameras going this year, so be sure to check out Melanie’s beautiful images (and some fun words, too, because Melanie is extra good at words) over on Melanie’s blog!

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San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins
San Diego Family Photographer | Cousins

Forest Home Family Camp
We just got home from Memorial Day Family Camp at Forest Home Christian Camp and Conference Center, and since I have a WONDERFUL friend/assistant who handled Memorial Day Weekend (both Marion’s Childcare and photography) like an absolute pro, I have spent the morning looking through photos and editing personal images instead of catching up on emails! Amazing!

Some of these photos were taken with my “big camera,” some by the camp photographer, who quickly edited and posted the images on the Forest Home web site (THANKS, “Outtake!”), and some are from my iPhone. As they say – “The best camera is the one you have with you.” I didn’t want to lug my camera bag on all our hikes, but I sure couldn’t pass up a photo opportunity when the light was just right and the surroundings amazing — and the subjects my favorite!

Having never been to Family Camp before, we didn’t exactly know what we were getting into, but we loaded up the car on Friday and headed up the hill.  It was COLD!!  But it was beautiful, our cabin was perfect, and we enjoyed just exploring the grounds before our short orientation meetings and dinner that first night.

Forest Home Family Camp

Steven would have preferred to take the top bunk, but Lissa had claimed it, and he quickly discovered that the bedrails were fun to swing on – so it was all good.

Forest Home Family Camp
Our “nature boy,” Steven was all about discovering acorns that first night.  Both kids were excited to be able to climb on SO MANY rocks!  Pretty much everywhere you go at Forest Home, you can walk or climb on big rocks. Forest Home Family Camp

Just arriving, we bundled up good!  It was in the 40’s and 50’s most of the weekend, and overcast.  The leaders at our meetings greeted us, “Hope you’re enjoying Winter Camp!”
Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp

The music was great!  The worship was lead by Pete, a very talented Australian pastor currently leading a church in Orange County.  He led familiar songs (old and new) on an acoustic guitar.  “Music Mama” led the children’s worship.  Steven is “over” the song “Hip-Hip-Hip-Hippopotamus,” but other than that he loved it and so did Lissa.

Forest Home Family Camp

Since it was so cold, we didn’t feel compelled to go in the pool, and the “Lake Day” activities were cancelled due to weather, so between hikes and visits to the craft cabin, we relaxed in our own cabin, played board games, and read.  Lissa and Steven went out and played near our cabin, and we just let them.  Steven spent hours collecting sticks and building a fort – and when Lissa got tired of fort building, he built HER a fort, too.

Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp

Our family hikes led us down to an almost-dry riverbed, where the kids jumped from rock to rock, and we all tried to avoid falling in the trickling water that was flowing through.

Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp

The iPhone hike:

Forest Home Family Camp

We spent a good portion of each afternoon in the craft cabin.  Brilliance, here.  There is a whole mini craft store in one corner, where you can choose and purchase your craft materials.  Then we just got in line for paint, stain, scissors, and other basics that were free.  Steven made a bunny the first day, and Lissa made a plaque with her name on it.  This photo is from the camp photographer:

Forest Home Family Camp

The next day,  Steven wanted to make a special project for his CCA, Katlyn.  He painted a flower pot.  Lissa and I tried our hand at modge-podge for the first time.

Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp

The Mud Run!  Lissa’s least favorite part of camp – but the camp photographer got a great photo, anyway!  She didn’t mind getting dirty . . . she just minded rinsing off in the freezing lake!!  Super cold!

Forest Home Family Camp

The Mud Run was on Sunday morning and was followed by much shivering and whimpering.  By Sunday afternoon, though, after crafting and hanging out playing games for a while, Lissa had decided it was time to brave the pool.  It was about 50 degrees outside, but it was 85 degrees in the pool, so in she went!  She is crazy like her Papa.

Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp

Steven was content to jump on rocks.

Forest Home Family Camp

and swing from ropes . . .

Forest Home Family Camp

This is my only photo from the Dining Hall, but I have to mention the FOOD!  It was great!  There was real salad (no iceberg lettuce funny business), yummy veggies, and other healthy options, along with fresh-baked bread.  So much food!  Breakfasts were especially great and included blueberry yogurt and granola – my favorite!

Forest Home Family Camp
Here’s another photo from the camp photographer, “Outtake” who went with the kids on their adventures while the adults were in morning worship services.  When she saw this, Lissa said, “I was pretty nervous way up there!”
Forest Home Family Camp
More iPhone photos!  Lissa and Rod got picked for one of the evening group games, which involved connecting pool noodles and sending five marbles through several connected tubes, all the way to the back of the room.  Our side of the room won, and we got two “Homies,” which are these bottles that are good for discounts at the snack bar!  Lissa and Steven enjoyed slushies on our way home!
Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp

At Family Camp, each family with children under 5th grade is assigned a “CCA,” or “Childcare Assistant.”  Steven’s CCA was Katlyn (age 15).  He LOVED Katlyn!  She took him to play games in the Den and, on the last night, to the miniature golf course!  She is a wonderful artist and knew all about his favorite movies and Lissa’s favorite TV shows, and she made both kids special nametags and drawings.  Steven currently has a picture of Katlyn framed on his nightstand.  He has fervently requested that we ask for Katlyn to be his CCA again next year!  From a Marion’s Childcare perspective, it was fun to see how important a babysitter can be to a child.

Forest Home Family Camp
Now, see the puffy eyes?  This is a portrait of a kid who loved camp so much that he woke up the last morning crying serious tears because it was ending.  He wants to go back – and SOON!  Family Camp was a wonderful opportunity to spend time together, unplug, reflect, and refocus and I’m so thankful that we went!  We are all signed up for next Memorial Day!
Forest Home Family Camp

We just got home from Memorial Day Family Camp at Forest Home Christian Camp and Conference Center, and since I have a WONDERFUL friend/assistant who handled Memorial Day Weekend (both Marion’s Childcare and photography) like an absolute pro, I have spent the morning looking through photos and editing personal images instead of catching up on emails! Amazing!

Some of these photos were taken with my “big camera,” some by the camp photographer, who quickly edited and posted the images on the Forest Home web site (THANKS, “Outtake!”), and some are from my iPhone. As they say – “The best camera is the one you have with you.” I didn’t want to lug my camera bag on all our hikes, but I sure couldn’t pass up a photo opportunity when the light was just right and the surroundings amazing — and the subjects my favorite!

Having never been to Family Camp before, we didn’t exactly know what we were getting into, but we loaded up the car on Friday and headed up the hill.  It was COLD!!  But it was beautiful, our cabin was perfect, and we enjoyed just exploring the grounds before our short orientation meetings and dinner that first night.

Forest Home Family Camp

Steven would have preferred to take the top bunk, but Lissa had claimed it, and he quickly discovered that the bedrails were fun to swing on – so it was all good.

Forest Home Family Camp
Our “nature boy,” Steven was all about discovering acorns that first night.  Both kids were excited to be able to climb on SO MANY rocks!  Pretty much everywhere you go at Forest Home, you can walk or climb on big rocks. Forest Home Family Camp

Just arriving, we bundled up good!  It was in the 40’s and 50’s most of the weekend, and overcast.  The leaders at our meetings greeted us, “Hope you’re enjoying Winter Camp!”
Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp

The music was great!  The worship was lead by Pete, a very talented Australian pastor currently leading a church in Orange County.  He led familiar songs (old and new) on an acoustic guitar.  “Music Mama” led the children’s worship.  Steven is “over” the song “Hip-Hip-Hip-Hippopotamus,” but other than that he loved it and so did Lissa.

Forest Home Family Camp

Since it was so cold, we didn’t feel compelled to go in the pool, and the “Lake Day” activities were cancelled due to weather, so between hikes and visits to the craft cabin, we relaxed in our own cabin, played board games, and read.  Lissa and Steven went out and played near our cabin, and we just let them.  Steven spent hours collecting sticks and building a fort – and when Lissa got tired of fort building, he built HER a fort, too.

Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp

Our family hikes led us down to an almost-dry riverbed, where the kids jumped from rock to rock, and we all tried to avoid falling in the trickling water that was flowing through.

Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp

The iPhone hike:

Forest Home Family Camp

We spent a good portion of each afternoon in the craft cabin.  Brilliance, here.  There is a whole mini craft store in one corner, where you can choose and purchase your craft materials.  Then we just got in line for paint, stain, scissors, and other basics that were free.  Steven made a bunny the first day, and Lissa made a plaque with her name on it.  This photo is from the camp photographer:

Forest Home Family Camp

The next day,  Steven wanted to make a special project for his CCA, Katlyn.  He painted a flower pot.  Lissa and I tried our hand at modge-podge for the first time.

Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp

The Mud Run!  Lissa’s least favorite part of camp – but the camp photographer got a great photo, anyway!  She didn’t mind getting dirty . . . she just minded rinsing off in the freezing lake!!  Super cold!

Forest Home Family Camp

The Mud Run was on Sunday morning and was followed by much shivering and whimpering.  By Sunday afternoon, though, after crafting and hanging out playing games for a while, Lissa had decided it was time to brave the pool.  It was about 50 degrees outside, but it was 85 degrees in the pool, so in she went!  She is crazy like her Papa.

Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family Camp

Steven was content to jump on rocks.

Forest Home Family Camp

and swing from ropes . . .

Forest Home Family Camp

This is my only photo from the Dining Hall, but I have to mention the FOOD!  It was great!  There was real salad (no iceberg lettuce funny business), yummy veggies, and other healthy options, along with fresh-baked bread.  So much food!  Breakfasts were especially great and included blueberry yogurt and granola – my favorite!

Forest Home Family Camp
Here’s another photo from the camp photographer, “Outtake” who went with the kids on their adventures while the adults were in morning worship services.  When she saw this, Lissa said, “I was pretty nervous way up there!”
Forest Home Family Camp
More iPhone photos!  Lissa and Rod got picked for one of the evening group games, which involved connecting pool noodles and sending five marbles through several connected tubes, all the way to the back of the room.  Our side of the room won, and we got two “Homies,” which are these bottles that are good for discounts at the snack bar!  Lissa and Steven enjoyed slushies on our way home!
Forest Home Family Camp
Forest Home Family CampForest Home Family Camp

At Family Camp, each family with children under 5th grade is assigned a “CCA,” or “Childcare Assistant.”  Steven’s CCA was Katlyn (age 15).  He LOVED Katlyn!  She took him to play games in the Den and, on the last night, to the miniature golf course!  She is a wonderful artist and knew all about his favorite movies and Lissa’s favorite TV shows, and she made both kids special nametags and drawings.  Steven currently has a picture of Katlyn framed on his nightstand.  He has fervently requested that we ask for Katlyn to be his CCA again next year!  From a Marion’s Childcare perspective, it was fun to see how important a babysitter can be to a child.

Forest Home Family Camp
Now, see the puffy eyes?  This is a portrait of a kid who loved camp so much that he woke up the last morning crying serious tears because it was ending.  He wants to go back – and SOON!  Family Camp was a wonderful opportunity to spend time together, unplug, reflect, and refocus and I’m so thankful that we went!  We are all signed up for next Memorial Day!
Forest Home Family Camp