The little things DO matter. PROOF!

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Have you ever walked by someone and avoided all eye contact because you didn’t want to have any type of personal exchange?  Come on, admit you’ve done this once or twice at least.  Well, if you haven’t, you are probably one of only a few people in that category.  I have done this in my youth because I didn’t want another person (probably a cute guy) to see me without makeup or nice clothes.  As I have grown older, I realize no one cares if I wear makeup or designer clothes.  However, people will remember my smile, a nice compliment, or a kind gesture.

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Who wouldn’t remember my daughter’s sweet smile?

I know… I know… I am sure you have heard that people remember the negative more than the positive.  This does happen.  We all know gossiping people exist who love a sad or tragic story to share. However, in the end, people make mistakes.  People are not perfect.  There will be another poor soul on the gossip stage soon enough.  In the end, we are all going to leave this beautiful earth and what will it matter?  So, don’t get caught up in the gossip and negativity.  I challenge you to this!  If you take the high road, you’ll probably rest better at night.

Oddly enough, I was recently reading the book, “The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age” by Cammy Bean.  Of all the books I have read, I never really thought a book about Instructional Design would include this, but it did.  In fact, Bean (2014) says, “… we seem to remember the bad things about people we meet more than the good” (p. 136). She goes on to say we learn from mistakes and this is why she added this to her book about e-learning.  (Designers can use stories about mistakes to teach lessons.)

Thus, the reason I decided to discuss this today is because I feel strongly that reading about the usefulness of negativity (through mistakes) combined with what I am about to share is no coincidence. Earlier today, I received a kind message from a former Starbucks Barista in Georgia that I barely knew.  She was always pleasant and a great Barista, but I only knew her briefly.  Six years ago, she was pregnant.  I told her wonderful things about being pregnant and positive things I learned while pregnant.  She reached out to me today to let me know how big of an impact this had on her and her son.  She emailed me the following.

… Idk if you remember but when I was pregnant with my son you were so excited about that kid even though we didn’t really know each other! That love you showed, believe it or not, has shown through that kid! I wish you could meet him just to see the love he gives off! Everybody falls in love with that kid! Believe it or not, he’s six now.

So, in the end, people do remember the nice things. Even though it may be beneficial to create a humorous story about a goofy, mistake-prone character to teach a lesson online, in the real world, kindness must prevail.   I may never have heard that story, but I did hear it at the perfect time.  I had to share it with you as proof that small things do matter.  Small things can turn into big things!  (After all, she made me smile 6 years later and 5,000+ miles from the original place where I shared my love and warmth with her.) I CHALLENGE you to avoid the negative and embrace the positive each and every day. It will make a difference.

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Remember: Keep on Smiling!  (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

Hugs and Kindness,

Mel

Reference:

Bean, C. (2014). The accidental instructional designer: Learning design for the digital age. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Eklutna Lake Beauty: Family Fun in Alaska

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Just last week, we had friends visit us from Jacksonville.  They stayed for 7 days.  During these 7 days, we packed in as much adventure as we could with one day dedicated to riding 4-wheelers on Eklutna Lake.  This lake is a seven-mile-long lake with trails built beside it which are perfect for ATVs, while other nearby trails are specifically designed for bicycles. Bicycle trails would have been our path to the end if it weren’t for our neighbors.  Our amazing neighbors let us use their “toys” since we don’t personally own any ATVs or even a trailer to haul them.  Thus, as always, they are some of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet (if you are lucky enough to meet them).  They let us use their well-maintained 4-wheelers for a faster, less challenging path.  I know everyone appreciated it and felt like superheroes.

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Getting ready for a cruise beside the lake…

While on the drive, we saw beautiful flowers, amazing creeks under bridges, and a perfect mirror image of the mountain on the lake because of the calm day.  I would recommend taking this trip with 1) water, 2) food for a picnic, 3) sunblock, 4) bear spray, and 5) mosquito repellent. You could also kayak on the lake but since the lake supplies Anchorage with drinking water, there are no motorboats allowed.

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After the picnic, we are ready to make the final drive to the trail end. (Yes, I personally picked up that water bottle!)

Here are some images for you to enjoy!  I hope to add another blog soon with our other adventures.

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Connor snapped this cool image of me enjoying the lake.
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Caris is enjoying our friends on a bridge located about mid-trail.
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Caris and I waited while the others hiked a steep hill.  We decided to relax near the water at the trail’s end, but I had the bear spray and they had other protection.  (Always be bear aware!)
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Micah is heading down the steep hill.
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The water was gorgeous.  My phone camera doesn’t do this scene justice.
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The snow capped mountains never get old.
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Mini flowers picked by yours truly.
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More flowers…
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More beauty…

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and consider making this a wonderful day trip.  You could hike it, bike it, ATV it, or even kayak it! Whatever you desire…

XOXO,

Mel

Summer Solstice in Anchorage

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The longest day of the year was last week.  There was even a festival called the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival in downtown Anchorage to celebrate the event, even though every day after June 21 was a little shorter than the day before.  Since one of our friends also had a birthday, we had a birthday event too.  Saturday was full of activities on one of the most beautiful days of the year.

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Connor is relaxing in downtown Anchorage.
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Children’s area at the festival
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Chalk drawings are everywhere.

During the day, my family walked around to see the displays and events, eventually arriving at 49th State Brewing Company to have appetizers and claim a spot on the rooftop (our friends were joining us within the hour for a birthday dinner.)  The beer there is okay (I am not that big of a beer drinker but King Street has some really good beer if you are into that sort of thing.)  The rooftop and food at 49th State are both great though.  In fact, I had the Seafood Artichoke dip and I highly recommend it.  The rooftop is a winner when the weather is great because the views are fantastic.

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Caris was avoiding the camera so no photos of her on the rooftop of 49th State.
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What  a view!
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We had a great seat – corner spot on the rooftop.
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This was our server at 49th.  JOKING! This little spider was hanging out and since all things deserve to live, I left it alone and hoped it wouldn’t hop on us.
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Beautiful flowers downtown
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Beautiful flowers downtown

After we left the restaurant, all of us (the three couples) went to Williwaw and a few other places.  There are three floors in this cool bar.  The bottom floor is a dance floor/concert floor.  The middle floor is a lounge.  The top floor is a rooftop bar.  On the way down, Micah took a picture  of the three ladies. (Don’t we look like we are on a Theater set?)

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These ladies are super cool and fun to be around.  (Check out the background outside of Williwaw…)
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I love that Micah and I took a picture together but wish I wasn’t standing so awkwardly.  Too pretty of a background not to post though…

I hope you enjoyed! If you get a chance to participate in Summer Solstice next year, I highly recommend it.

XOXO,

Mel

In Search of Wildflowers

What makes you feel peaceful?  Do you enjoy cooking?  Do you like fishing?  Are you a fan of live music?  Based on my mood, I like different things at different times.  I think this is how most people function and I’m not the only one.  Another thing that I have enjoyed lately is making sure our backyard patio table has a steady supply of fresh wildflowers. When I look outside, I smile because of how lovely it looks.  Since we have a rhubarb plant out back, I decided to learn how to harvest it.  As a bonus, I used the flowers in my arrangement.

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The picnic table arrangement

I will share with you a few tips about the rhubarb and the flowers too.  First of all, make sure you do not eat the leaves because these are poisonous!  I also found out that flowering isn’t desirable and requires more of the plant’s energy so cutting this back is smart.  Since I didn’t know this before today, I decided to make the most of the already existing flowers and use on the patio. I didn’t really like the lack of color though which led McKinley (my schnauzer child) and I on a journey in search of wildflowers.  You know the little things in life can be so much fun.

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McKinley enjoys our trips in search of wildflowers.

Lastly, since the sun goes down around 11:30 p.m. and the sun rises around 4:30 a.m., we have many light hours each day to go exploring. We luckily found some cute purple ones!  While on the road, I thought about how the process of looking for these flowers reminded me of the times when my dad, mom, sister, and I would go riding around in the country looking for wild plums to pick.  This was such a fun activity forever etched in my memories.

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I will leave you with a poem I thought of while out today.

 

IN SEARCH OF WILDFLOWERS

By: Mel on 6/17/2018

 

Fresh air and colors,

Raging waters and wind,

Somewhere out there is a girl on the move, based on a whim.

 

Whatever makes you happy,

Seek and find.

In the end,

We can reminisce about it through rewind.

 

That moment will be gone forever very soon.

Then, we will be happy we made the move.

 

Hugs,

Mel

Adobe Spark is easy to use and helps teachers create great presentations!

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Once upon a time in a far away land, students and teachers used Poster Boards, Overhead Projectors, and/or eventually Microsoft PowerPoint to create dynamic presentations.  Then, some smarty pants created Prezi and Adobe Spark options and the world exploded with creativity! (Smile) Sorry folks, I am a little giddy today since the sun has been shining for days now.  I even went to pick fresh wildflowers yesterday for my backyard picnic table and had happy 1980s music playing.  So, I just had to make a joke while writing this.  On a serious note…

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Do you see the yellow and purple flowers?

Last semester, I had an opportunity to serve as Subject Matter Expert (SME) for a new Social Problems course.  Of course, my home office was transformed.  The huge dry erase board served as my visual for ensuring I had all the assignments and resources for each week covered.  (In fact, my family asked how long the board was going to be used for planning and I said “as long as it takes.”  Side note: I was actually a little sad when I had to erase it.  I digress…)

Since I didn’t serve as the Instructional Designer on this project (my contract was only for the SME), I didn’t need a storyboard. Although, I most certainly DID need dynamic lectures to go along with the Creative Commons textbook.  When a SME chooses to use a Creative Commons textbook to create a course, the students do not have to pay a high price for the textbook.  Textbooks cost a lot and most students do not have endless supplies of money.  Thus, I chose a Creative Commons textbook that is free for the world and readily available to anyone online.  This also meant that I had to create the supplemental items to go with the textbook.  That was a fun part of the process and when I used Adobe Spark, it was super easy to add additional websites for viewing statistics and facts. The program was easy to use and more streamlined than Prezi.  (I love Prezi but it can make me a little dizzy if it moves too quickly. That is just my two cents.)

I am including an example of an Adobe Spark presentation which only took about 4 minutes to create.

Click to View My Presentation

Best wishes,

Mel

A Family Fishing Adventure in Seward, Alaska

Last Thursday, we decided to camp in Seward, Alaska.  Connor and I went before my daughter and husband to set up camp at Forest Acres Campground and try fishing at high tide.  My husband discovered from a coworker that the salmon were moving in Seward.  When the salmon are moving, this means they are moving from the ocean to the river.  When you stand at the mouth of the river, fish, and they’re moving (a.k.a. “running”), you are one lucky fisherman or fisherwoman!

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Forest Acres Campground has a playground and fire pits at each campsite 
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The Seward Military Resort is behind the campground.

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When Connor and I fished on the first day, it took us 4 hours to snag 4 fish.  Micah purchased snag hooks at Bass Pro Shops earlier in the week and when the fish are moving, you simply have to throw your snag hook rig, pull steadily to one side, reel the slack, and repeat.  You do this over and over again if you are unlucky.  (Stay with me…)  On the second day, we all went fishing early and didn’t have any luck.  In fact, I thought my technique was broken, flawed, well, you get the picture.  None of us caught anything that morning but we weren’t finished with Seward yet.

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Connor with the Sockeye Salmon after the first day of fishing
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Even McKinley got in the action

Connor left to go to work and the rest of us went to eat lunch.  After lunch, we checked out the harbor and then went to hike Exit Glacier at the Kenai Fjords National Park. The hike didn’t take but about 30 minutes because we went on the shorter “Edge of the Glacier Trail.”  It wasn’t a tough hike but before we reached the top, there were some places that most certainly engaged our leg muscles.

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Harbor view
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Micah and Caris enjoying the sunshine
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Micah did you know you have a glacier behind you?
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I thought you may enjoy some of the details about the glacier.

After the hike, we also visited the Exit Glacier Nature Center.  I took some neat photos of the diminishing glacier to share in my environmental sociology lecture in the future.  (I may share on the blog soon as well.)

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Exit Glacier Nature Center
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Outside the Center

Before we went home, Micah and I decided to try fishing again. I am so glad we did!  We caught 8 fish in only 28 minutes.  We already had 4 in the truck and since Connor left already, we decided to count those as ours to meet the total limit of 12 in possession.  The day was absolutely amazing and thus it was the lucky time of the day because the fish were most certainly everywhere.  All of us felt like we went on a vacation even though this was only a one day mini-getaway.  I love trips like that.

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Fish on! (I am so excited here!)
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There are not a lot of people out there during the week. 
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These two enjoyed themselves.

 

XOXO,

Mel

Chocolate Almond Butter Pudding (Keto-Approved)

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I have been craving chocolate! (Wait, isn’t that every day?) Okay, I crave chocolate every day but today I decided to make a famous-looking dessert cup for dinner. Since I like dark chocolate, this dessert didn’t need much sweetener. However, if you are selecting foods that are dairy-free only (and not worrying about sugar), you could add some agave nectar to this recipe to make it sweeter.

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados
¼ cup Rebbl Maca Mocha
¼ cup Organic coconut milk
½ cup Hershey’s cocoa
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Tbsp Sugar-free maple syrup
1 Tbsp Almond butter
1 tsp Ghee

First, peel avocados, cut, and add to mixing bowl.

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Next, add Hershey’s cocoa, Rebbl Mocha, coconut milk, vanilla, and maple syrup. Mash all ingredients together using a potato masher until smooth.

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Then, put ghee and almond butter together and heat for 15-20 seconds and mix together.

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Put avocado mixture in a serving cup and top with peanut butter melt.

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The final product – yummy!

Enjoy!

XoXo,

Mel

Surprise! It’s a glacier!

I love the Christmas holiday season. It is one of my favorite times of the year.  Recently, my parents came to visit us from Georgia and although it was only April, it felt like Christmas-time.  During the holidays, my family laughs a little, eats a lot, and plays tons of games.  This is the same thing we did, and more, while they visited.
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I can’t wait to share the amazing sights from our journey with you.  Just as the gift of giving at Christmas is so satisfying, the gift of showing them the amazing scenery in Alaska was also satisfying.  I hope you enjoy the highlights of their two-week vacation with us.  We didn’t let the rainier than usual weather cause complications in our plans.  In fact, nothing could dampen our spirits during this joyful occasion.

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I love these two.  Happy to have you visit…

One of our first visits was to Talkeetna, Alaska.  This town has charm.  In fact, the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce have a great website where you can download a visitor’s guide, if interested.  While we were there, it snowed quite a lot.  Although, the snow didn’t stay around long due to the temperatures being warmer than freezing, it was still a lovely sight.  If you visit this town, I highly recommend a stop at Twister Creek restaurant.  I always enjoy it.

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One of our first stops: Talkeetna, Alaska at Twister Creek
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Smiles all around… Happy and no longer hungry

During the week, we made mini trips near by.  We drove to the top of the mountain in Eagle River where a breathtaking view is easier to reach.  If the sky is clear, you can see Denali.  Unfortunately, with all the rain, we didn’t have a great view of the mountain range, but the view was still pretty.

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This is a view on top of Skyline Drive in Eagle River, Alaska. The sky wasn’t clear or you could see Denali and the other mountains at a distance.
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We went hiking on the easiest route at Thunderbird Falls.
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Mom checking out the falls…
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On another trip, Mom and I stopped to walk out to Beluga Point. Beluga Point is located on the Seward Highway. It is on the way to Girdwood from Anchorage.
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Great view behind you, mom!
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Mom, in Girdwood, Alaska, enjoying the left-over snow.
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I told daddy to look afraid of the gift shop bear at the Alyeska resort.  My sister did a great job of editing the trees in the background.  I love this and thankfully it was only a stuffed bear. He could win the biggest award for acting scared!
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My dad collecting glacier water at Mile 109 on the Seward Highway
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I am collecting water too.  It tastes amazing.

We decided to plan a cruise on the 26 Glaciers Cruise where we saw sea otters, eagles, mountain goats, a humpback whale, dolphins, and beautiful birds.  It departed from Whittier, Alaska.  Mom and dad enjoyed the visit immensely.  We even made a few stops for pictures on the way there too.

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Connor and I decided to “say cheese” too.
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My parents are so cute!
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Mama is such a great actress.  We haven’t even left for the cruise but my request for her to look amazed was taken seriously. “And the newcomer’s acting award goes to…”
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Hanging out at Surprise Glacier, which was the main attraction of this cruise
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Some of the crew collected a huge chunk of glacier ice to bring on board.
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The captain announced photo props on deck and these two didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.
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Mom hanging out in front of Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers…
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Further away from the glacier trio (Cascade, Barry, and Coxe), I take a moment to smile for the camera.
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Ice chunks galore…
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Connor, did you know there is a surprise (glacier) behind you?

Enjoy the video below from the end of the cruise.

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On the way out of Whittier… The sun was so bright, you had to wear shades.

Next, we decided to take an early morning hike at the Eagle River Nature Center. It was great! We were avoiding bears by making a lot of noise on this walk. The bears are waking up and are likely to be looking around for food. We didn’t want to tempt them.

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The men enjoying the hike…
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Just another day in the AK…

We decided to take in a few indoor scenes too.  Thus, we visited the First Friday at the Anchorage Museum.  There were lots to see and even a Cinco de Mayo event going on.  Mom and I couldn’t wait to check it out.

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Mom, wait, I am running to join you!
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After we left the museum, we went to eat at Simon and Seafort’s restaurant.  I wish I could show you the beautiful sunset that day, but any photo wouldn’t do it justice.
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McKinley will miss you guys until she sees you again! Adios and Good-Bye…

We were sad to see my parents leave, but knew they had to go.  We can’t wait to see you two again soon.

XOXO,

Mel

At-Home Ladies Paint Nights

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“Girl got Booty!”

I have so much to share with you but have been very busy teaching classes.  I was asked to take on some additional courses this term which has me busier than usual.  However, I still make time for my family and fun activities.

The most recent activity I decided to complete was a painting on canvas.  My daughter was given a neat painting set for Christmas but hasn’t broken it in, so I decided to be the first one to do so.  Since I have never painted at home without being guided (like in community PaintNite classes), I decided to consult YouTube.  Did you know there are tons of painting instructions on YouTube?  You can even have a fun Ladies night at home by choosing one of the great step-by-step options on any one of the many channels.

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Start to Finish

 

I decided to paint “Lady with Black Umbrella, Acrylic Painting“ by Acrylic Painting Techniques.  The YouTube channel link is below.  I know mine isn’t as dynamic as hers; however, I really like the end result.  My lady seems to have more “junk in the trunk” but I actually like that better anyway.  I call her “Girl got Booty!”  I think she is authentic and powerful in that red dress!

Lady with Black Umbrella, Acrylic Painting

Peace and Happiness,

Mel

Kauai, Hawaii – The Views and Colors

Visiting the State of Hawaii has always been on my bucket list.  I’ve been to many beautiful beaches, like St. Martin, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and many places in Florida.  Although, Hawaii was always on my mind but out of reach for various reasons.  Recently, Micah and I were able to visit Kauai.  Before going, I learned Kauai was one of many islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago. In fact, Sprout & Sprout (2010) mention in the center of the Pacific Ocean, “is the Hawaiian Archipelago, some 132 islands strung in line for about 1,600 miles, all part of the State of Hawaii” p. 8.  As far as populated places, Kauai is the northernmost of all those.

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I would love to share with you some of our wonderful visits on this lovely island, which is why I took a lot of pictures.  From the moment we flew into Lihue Airport, the air was fresh and temperature mild, which was perfect after leaving 0 to 10 degree temperatures in Alaska.  I bet the beauty of the island erased at least one wrinkle formed from years of contemplation and hard work.

For starters, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wailua Bay (on the eastern side of the island.) It was a pretty place with an open-air lobby and restaurant.  I really liked it!  We never did swim at the hotel because it rained for several days. However, they apparently had two pools and a hot tub.  When the rain cleared, we figured it a better use of time to go snorkeling.  Micah and went snorkeling on a Poipu Beach beside a restaurant where we had a light lunch and a fancy cocktail.   It was a lovely day and we did see some colorful, unique fish.

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Hilton Garden Inn Lobby
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Hilton Garden Inn Lobby Restaurant
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Hilton Garden Inn Front Desk
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There are Roosters and Chickens everywhere on this island.
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Our hang out behind the restaurant…
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Snorkeling Images
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Snorkeling Images
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Snorkeling Images
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Snorkeling Images

Furthermore, there were many beautiful scenes and pull off areas.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of all these places but all of these are easily accessible from the main road.  The main roadway where the tourists travel have many areas to stop, get out, and enjoy the scenery.  Although, one of my favorite places on the island was the beautiful, breath-taking Waimea Canyon Lookout.

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Micah, do you know you have some beautiful water behind you?
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Yes, I am enjoying the scenery. Life is good!
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A cave beside the beach

 

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Where is David Hasselhoff?
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Exposed Roots… Sorry, Alice Merton, there are roots- literally and figuratively.

 

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Waimea Canyon
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Waimea Canyon
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Waimea Canyon Rainbow

All-in-all, this was a great visit, regardless of work (Micah and I had to work some) and the rain.  Micah worked (at a conference) at the Grand Hyatt Poipu, which was a resort quality hotel.  It was absolutely fantastic too even though I didn’t spend much time there.

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Grand Hyatt – Day and Night – Photos taken by Micah
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Grand Hyatt

I feel so lucky to have been able to go on the trip and see a place that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  I hope you enjoyed the images of this beautiful place.

Hugs and Happiness,

Mel

Reference:

Sprout, J. & Sprout, J. (2010). Kauai trailblazer. Kilauea, HI: Diamond Valley Company Publishers.