the ravenna girls

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a very merry half birthday to … February 13, 2011

Filed under: friends and family,photo — ravennagirls @ 6:32 pm
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KAYLEE and ETHAN!!!!!!

Can you believe that just six short lil months ago….we blogged here about their birth?

I have been waiting for just this very day to show you the little project that Dana, the babies and I are now halfway through…

How it all started:

Before the kids even were born, both B and I spotted THIS little project of Young House Love‘s.  B even emailed it to baby mom Dana.  We all were like cuuuute, but then the babies birth happened …

It was/is really important to me that K + E know me from a young age and that I spend time with them.  In the early months, mom and dad needed some help too.

So, on the approach to their first month – birthday… I re-emailed Dana the Young House Love project… and said I want to do this for you.

Over the past six months, picture taking has kind of become our little thing.   Okay, fine, slight obession.  Those kids are just so cute, I cannot help myself!  Plus I have been excited about getting more experience in the taking pictures of real people realm. {and I will be the first to say that taking pictures of two babies is challenging. no really challenging.}

But practically, it has become pretty perfect.  I cannot describe to you how excited I get to go spend the day with Dana and the babies.   It’s really perfection.  The kids are awake and happy and the light is great as good as you get in a NW winter.   They nap after their strenuous modeling, and B comes over from work to eat lunch with us.  Dana and I get to chat in the afternoon and play board games until the babies awaken.   It has become such a fun little activity and one that is going to give us so many memories.  Sure, there will be the physical giant picture hanging on the wall for the rest of time, for mom + dad to stare at and admire how little their babies once were.  But, really, I feel so privileged that Dana has allowed me to share some of those real time memories with her.  Like… Ethan nearly punching Kaylee, the stage Ethan went through were laying on his back made him really cry,  the first time they laid there and smiled up at us, Dana singing them goofy songs to get them to smile for the camera, all those times when holding a baby resulted in me having to change my clothes too, dressing them in Christmas outfits and waking them up from a nap because the we were losing the light, photographing under the motto “well, at least they aren’t crying…”  , and a whole lotta snuggling.  I imagine the next six months of this project will involve its own challenges, I’m guessing over increased mobility…

So before you lose interest over reading how fun this has been for me…

Here you go, Kaylee + Ethan, month-by month.   Please click on them for an enlarged view. 🙂


And, my so far all time favorite pictures of each kid……


thanks babies.  :0)

While I did physically hit the shutter on each of these… I literally could not have done it without a huge assist from Dana.  The babies smile more often when someone’s job is making goofy faces at them and singing….

and happy 6 months!


Ten on Ten February February 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 9:47 pm
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I have long admired the Ten on Ten project started by Rebekah of a bit of sunshine. The concept? “Take a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month. Document a day of your life and find beauty among the ordinary moments.” I’ve always that since most often the tenth falls on a work day I wouldn’t have much to share. But, I decided to give it a try anyway, and it actually changed my perspective on the day. It was fun to set a reminder throughout the day to take a look around and find pretty non-office-related things. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for more installments in this project – I really enjoyed it! Head over to a bit of sunshine to see the rest of today’s ten on ten.


A sneak peek January 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 1:24 pm
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Well, we’re winding to the close of another long and hectic week. We have some fun adventures planned for this weekend and we will sure to be back with lots of stories and pictures.

Until then, we’ll leave you with a teensy sneak peek of a big project we’ve been working on with the MAJOR help of our friend Dave. When its done, its going to mean some exciting changes for the Ravenna Girls.

Can you guess what we’re up to??


weekend, i was not ready for you to be over October 25, 2010

Filed under: adventures,photo — ravennagirls @ 10:01 pm
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I am not all that thrilled about Monday today.

The weekend was pretty darn good though.  It probably has something to do with the fact that B and I have been out of town the past two weekends.  By the time Friday happened … I was exhausted.  I had lofty goals of a productive Friday evening… but after work and a quick trip to the gym and making some dinner… I was practically ready for bed.

A few exciting things did happen this weekend though…

We got the house ready for fall and B did this spooky Halloweeny mantle…

and then we had the first fire of the season… & finished some craft projects… & organized some things around here…

We treated ourselves to a dinner out on Sunday night a favorite neighborhood joint and got Mahi Mahi tacos with mango and guacamole.  Yum!  For some dinnertime conversation we brought along our crazy-thick voter’s pamplets in an attempt to read through what all these initiatives are and begin to fill out our ballots.  I am so tired of those TV commercials leading up to election day…. AH!

We planted some more tulip bulbs and did some weeding and had some yard master planning discussions with a surprise few sunshiney hours on Sunday…

And I got a new lens for my camera delivered from Amazon.  I had been looking and looking and wanting it… so finally I just did it.   I was pretty darn excited when it showed up …

And, it showed up just in time to play with it on Saturday when we went over to the twins’ and had a lil photo shoot for their family.  :  )

I have to say, the lens is pretty darn awesome.  Initial reasoning… the ability to get my aperture set as large as 1.8 is just terrific.  I think that if you ever know anyone that is moving to Seattle with an SLR you should get them this lens.   The fact is.. I won’t use a flash unless I have to take a photo at night.  I abhor a direct flash and what that does to the color of my photos.   So during 7 months of the year I am on a constant quest for good lighting.   I hardly take photos after work and on a weekend day I am still struggling to photo indoors.  It usually involves a bunch of exposure/brightness/etc balancing in photoshop.   But with this new lens… and Without much of my typical settings being changed but the f-stop (aperture)… It was SO MUCH EASIER to shoot in a low light setting.  It was so so fast and blured the background WAY better then I have ever done before.

So … while the parents went to get ready for the family photos… B and I sat downstairs and played with the babies.  Well actually baby.   Ethan choose to sleep even though I kept whispering to him that we were taking pictures…. I think he might have whispered back something abou needing his beauty rest for the afternoon.

But Kaylee.. she is a happy picture subject.

Here is a pretty typical photo I would take with my Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens.  Even with the Vibration Reduction setting on… In order to get enough light the picture is really blurry.  Babies move ….

Now, seconds later, I popped on my new lens…. Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX

So same lighting, same baby, same color/indoor/all that jazz settings on my camera.  This photo just is taken with a lens that got my aperture up to 1.8.

Oh, and she is looking at me now.  Cause she likes my camera clicking. : )

Oh, and I did not Photoshop either of these.  Not even color or brightness or crop or anything.

Now, there are a few things I am really going to have to get used to after day one with this lens on.   All of a sudden  I am getting more light, so the white balance settings I had already customized on my camera where a bit off.    And… it is now possible to get too much light.  Whoa.  That has pretty much never happened to me before.  I could definitely tell sharpness/light/color were some things I cannot wait to practice more .  And the whole one size business.  I walked a lot more and moved a lot more… where before i would have twisted my lens to zoom.  But apparently, according to every blog I could find researching this puppy, I will get used to that.

But the babies… they make excellent lil subjects.  So cutey.


Puerto Maldonado and the Amazon Rainforest June 8, 2010

Filed under: travel — ravennagirls @ 1:08 pm
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After Machu Picchu and returning to Cusco… we began to prepare for our next stop…

The Jungle.  The Amazon Jungle.

We headed out of Cusco via the airport.  It was a quick 50 minute flight on LAN.  (yes! no more bus!)  Cusco was a very interesting airport to fly in and out of though.  It has a short runway for your standard commerical jet… and it is surrounded by mountains.  And by surrounded I mean that the plane ascends sharply and quickly as you feel awfully close to the mountains around you. According to one Peruvian tour guide that we met on our train up to Machu Picchu, LAN is the only airline that has a good reputation for being able to land in Cusco safely. Yikes!

We made it to Puerto Maldonado, the starting point of our four day adventure.  We were picked up by our lodge, Bello Horizonte, and our tour guide Freddi. He would be our guide for the duration of our stay. There was another female tour guide assigned to a couple from Quebec, but she, and they, only spoke French so we didn’t really get many details out of them. Bello Horizonte is a great organization. Run by a Swiss priest, they also operate a support center for kids and teens who have no other home. They take proceeds from the lodge, as well as a cafe in town and help these kids who have been orphaned and/or need assistance. Not only was the lodge more inexpensive than some of the others we looked at, we felt good that our money was going to a good cause.

After a brief stop at the Bello Horizonte office,we traveled across town to the Rio del Madre and boarded a boat to cross the river. We crossed the river, and our group of 6 hopped in a van, and travelled to the lodge, about an hour and a half into the jungle.

The lodge was cute, with little cabins for rooms.   The front porch had reclining chairs and a hammock. There was a shared dining hall and social lounge, both completely enclosed in mosquito netting (thank GOD). On the property,there also was a spring-fed swimming pool, a medicinal plant garden, and a lookout tower that allowed you to get high above the tree canopy to see the birds flying about.  The electricity turned on for five hours every night and the place had solar hot water. 

At first we thought that perhaps it was just the two of us, the Canadian couple and staff and that more people would be showing up in the following days. But no, apparently they’d had a big group cancel and it was still technically the off season, so it was just the four guests the whole time we were there. And really, since they spoke no English, we felt that we sort of had the run of the place.

The way the lodge is set up, meals are served 3 times a day (unless you are out on a trek), and you eat in the lodge with your tour guide so you can talk about the day and upcoming adventures. The food was pretty spectacular, more authentic than we’d had anywhere in the country before. Things like potatoes, lentils, veggies, and chicken cooked inside bamboo stalks. Yum.  Yum.  And most importantly, lots of avocado. 


The first afternoon we settled in, did some reading, went on a short walk with Freddi where he introduced us to all the plants in the medicinal garden. Then we had dinner and went to bed.

The second day was our hike to Loboyoc – which roughly translates in their coloqial language to “Home of the Wolf”. But, they didn’t really mean wolf. Apparently they call the giant river otters Wolves because they travel in packs just like wolves do. So, Loboyoc is a creek that feeds the Madre de dios River and sometimes has river otter. The trek was 6 km to the creek, a two hour ride in a canoe/boat. Unfortunately since it had been raining for a couple days beforehand, Freddi insisted that we hike in rubber boots, which was pretty annoying. Also, we spent most of the walk squish-squishing along, which definitely slowed our progress.

The hike, though, was pretty incredible. We saw SO many incredible animals and insects. We saw several types of mammals (marmut like things), leaf cutter ants, a GIANT snail,

a two toed sloth, beautiful birds, and Freddi even coaxed a tarantula out of its home. On the river “cruise”, we saw tons of butterflies, some parakeets, big big spiders, and a couple small caiman (alligators).  Each one of this next group of pictures has some wildlife included….


Freddi tried to coax some parahnas to the surface with banana that we brought for snacks, but no luck. After trekking back to the lodge, we ate lunch and went to the swimming pool which was SO necessary. I mean, I have never been so sweaty in my entire life. It was only about 85 degrees or so i think, but the humidity, coupled with long sleeves and pants to ward off the bugs, we were SO SWEATY. so, into the pool we went, which was awesome. Then dinner, reading, and early to bed.

The next day was an early morning, to a clay lick for parakeets that we were very much looking forward to. Further up the river near some of the other lodges there are clay licks where larger macaws congregate, but this one was more accessible for smaller parakeets. Basically, because of the toxins in the nuts and berries that the birds eat, they need to ingest the clay every morning to cleanse their systems. So, they all appear at this clay lick every morning between 6 and 7. We left the loodge around 5 to go find them. After a brief boat ride, we pulled up to a clay cliff face where a few parakeets had begun to congregate. Freddi told us that there would be hundreds, so we waited. BUT THEN: a hawk went flying by and spooked the parakeets. They rose up in a big bunch and flew away, not to return. SAD DAY. we had really been looking forward to seeing the birds en masse, but i guess that will have to wait for the next trip. We took the boat an hour or so down river and begun another trek in to see Lake Sandoval. The walk was shorter, but even muddier than the day before and we had a couple of funny moments of almost getting stuck. Luckily, one of Bello Horizonte’s guides in training used to work at Lake Sandoval, so he knew some tricks.

Along the trail, we saw some giant butterflies, tons of monkeys, and a group of blue and yellow macaws that we had been looking for. The Lake was super pretty, an oasis surrounded by thick lush jungle all the way to the shores on all sides. We saw more caiman, lots of birds, and the ellusive giant river otters. Very cool.

Back to the lodge, we had one last dinner with the group and then tucked ourselves in for the last night in the jungle. That night, the stars were INCREDIBLE. It was the first night that it wasn’t really overcast, and it was truly more stars than i have ever seen. We could see the Milky Way stretching across the jungle as far as you could see.

The Amazon jungle is an incredible place. I can totally see now how important it is for biodiversity and medicinal discoveries. The jungle is so dense, and we were *fairly* nearby to civilization.

The last morning we woke up to the sound of many parrots, including a couple of pairs of macaws that were nearby. Freddi and crew took us back to the airport, where we boarded another LAN flight to go all the way back to Lima to start our trip home. We had to stop in Cusco to pick up more passengers (a little unfortunate given the precarious landing/take off scenario). But, it was no problem, and we landed in Lima for a half day layover before our flight back to Houston, the US, work, and real life.

It was a fantastic trip full of an impressive array of landscape, wildlife, people, and adventures. We would both go back in a heartbeat and recommend Peru to anyone looking for a South American adventure that is approachable, affordable, and exciting.


Stormy April 21, 2010

Filed under: photo — ravennagirls @ 1:35 am
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These images of Eyjafjallajokul, Iceland’s volcano now famous for halting millions of European air travelers, are simply breathtaking. Nature in all its fury.

[ps – thank goodness our vacation is to south america and NOT europe!]


My Christmas Morning December 28, 2009

Filed under: photo — ravennagirls @ 11:43 am
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This was the view out the window on Christmas morning when we woke up to clear skies and fog over the water. So pretty! This was taken looking over Sinclair Inlet past Bremerton toward the Olympic Peninsula.

We had such a beautiful Christmas weekend with sunshine, clear skies, and lots of Vitamin D! Seeing the mountains rise over the fog so pink and pretty was a real reminder of the meaning of the day and the splendor of the Earth that was given to us.

Photo Credit: My dad!