Thursday, January 30, 2014


Growing up, it was just me + my Mom. We didn't have much money & I remember her always so busy, when it came to Vacations? Think CAMPING!! the dirt, 2-man tent 'if you're lucky' Camping! "-)

I also remember taking Niels to Disneyland for the very 1st time (he had been as a child, but didn't remember going at all) - right after we'd moved in together following High School!

We had SO much fun!! We even decided to spend our 10 + 15 yr Wedding Anniversaries with Mickey! It has always been a favorite destination of mine - filled with childhood memories from the numerous times my Father had taken me during our Summer visits together...

For our Honeymoon? My mom treated us to Airfare + Hotel in Honolulu as our Wedding gift. Neither of us had ever been to Hawaii (she grew up there) - so, we headed in as young Newlyweds ready to take on the World & see it ALL! We had a blast. Parasailing, snorkeling, exploring, shopping, fishing - it was a perfect trip! (we all have THIS shot, right?!)
Our worldly adventures kinda stopped there. We didn't travel again for 8 years! (which seems like a lifetime now!) Between busy jobs + limited resources (let's remember - minimum wage was $4.25/hr at this time!)...we were perfectly fine with road-trips to see friends. But, let's fast-forward a decade.

Now? We travel every chance we get! In fact, the 1st few years that our daughter was born, we preferred to stay home in our safe Cocoon. But, now we're quickly making up for lost time - you can't hold us down!

...I always try to find a doll to surprise our daughter with on the flight. This one was easy!
Last April, we were fortunate enough to spend two full weeks visiting Australia. Trip of a Lifetime!  We spent a week up on the Great Barrier Reef at Hamilton Island + a week in the amazing City of Sydney. Both were spectacular in their own right - but, our hearts are still back there on that Island & always will be! All three of us were ready to move there in a heart-beat! Unfortunately, the entire place is owned by one Family & our idea of moving in with this ready-made Photography business? Not gonna happen! "-)
When I first saw the wild Cockatoos gliding through the sky together to land on billowing palm trees as I unloaded our stacks of luggage? I cried. Like a baby. It has been a life-long dream of mine to see them. We had a Cockatoo years ago. She was my baby. When we lost her (we don't talk about it), a part of me closed down & getting to see these amazing creatures totally free + in their own habitat? All my love for her came rushing in. Nalani & Dad came racing to the room from the Pool knowing just how I'd feel, "Mom!!! Did you SEE the COCKATOOS!?!?" Well, yes - - turn around - - they're kind of stalking us! "-) ...Mommy was in heaven...!
After unpacking, we headed down for Dinner & of course, she insisted on playing on the Beach as the sun was setting...we'd been traveling for 24 hours ~ this is my 'put a fork in me' look...
About a 5 minute walk from our Hotel was Wildlife Hamilton Island - a very intimate collection of native wildlife. You get to be so up close & personal! I think we visited at least 3x & our daughter knew all of the tenants by name...I'd have to ask her - but, I think this was Elvis...
A pair of young, wild dingos came to live here a couple of years ago - while we all backed away in hesitation as they rushed towards us - they wanted nothing more than to say 'hello' + get some love! They are SO incredibly soft!
 Can't go to Australia & not cuddle a Koala!
 Nalani + Moms' daily favs - "Frog in the Pond" + Coconut Sorbet with fresh fruit!
One of the days, we took a Ferry out to Whitehaven Beach - one of the Top 10 Beaches in the World! While the boat left us Larsen girls totally sea-sick (think waves coming up OVER the boat the entire hour journey!) - it did not disappoint!
 We also had the opportunity to explore Dream Island for lunch...
 ...excuse us, Mate, while we trek through your Jungle...
 I spotted this in a Hotel lobby & just thought it was so perfectly fitting...
 Mom + Nalani decided to sit this one out. 
Swells even higher today + a 2 hour Ferry? No thank you.
 Daddy made sure to get this shot for me! 
All I wanted was to see the Heart Reef from the air!! 
So amazing!
 Rainy day?! Let's paint!
After a fun week of 'playing' ~ we flew down to the southern Coast & settled in at the Park Hyatt Sydney. We were RIGHT on the water looking out at the Opera House! We were in awe!
It about made me crazy to sit on my balcony & see the onslaught of endless Wedding photographers just 10' away! LET ME AT 'EM!! GORGEOUS backdrop!
Exploring the Opera house up close on our way to the Botanical Gardens. Did you know the 1,056,000 million ceramic tiles that make up the House were actually made in Sweden?
 She told me she felt like a Princess...
I know this is blurry - it was pitch black & bats move...but, we LOVED watching these giant + amazingly adorable creatures. Just make sure you don't settle yourself directly below - we all know what too much fruit does to your system!! "-)
 We spent the day exploring Darling Harbor - which includes Madame Tussauds. What fun!
Sometimes - I still manage to amaze this Hubby of mine. 
"Hey! That's a Kookaburra!" Yup - I'm a bird person!  
 If you follow the Blog - you've heard me mention just how much into the Theatre our little one is...
It does not matter where we go - people just LOVE Daddy!! Sometimes a bit too much?
Our final day included a visit across the Harbor to Manly Beach - the home to our amazing Concierge at the Hotel (Hi, Christian!! Thanks for the suggestion!). Perfect end to a perfect Vacation!
As you can see, we positively love to explore this amazing World of ours - especially to have the opportunity to share it with our Daughter. I wouldn't have it any other way! We're currently gearing up for our next big Adventure. Can't WAIT to see what Argentina has in store for us this Spring! (join us over at Aulani for our Hawaiian vacation or explore the Caribbean with us!) Gotta go - - the World is waiting...! xo

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Allow me introduce you to the adorable + amazing cast of ANNIE, Jr.!!
(don't miss it Jan. 18 ~ Feb. 1 at the SPACE Theatre!)
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of catching up with these bright, young people in our Community to take a few Headshots...what fun!! I can't even count how many times I was calling out from the computer as I worked : "These kids just make me SMILE!!" ...and, I haven't even seen the show yet!! "-)

No one can prepare you for how Life changes once you have a child. To put it simply ~ EVERYTHING changes!

One of the most wonderful things? Getting to enjoy our World through their eyes! It's quite different than anything I could have ever imagined!

For us? That includes a whole lot of Theatre - - Acting, Singing, Dancing. Our daughter loves it all! There's always a Production taking place over here! In fact, just yesterday, we spent a few hours with a total stranger who kept insisting we get her into an Art school...yes, yes ~ we know!

We've been fortunate enough to include her in the local SPACE program from an early age  - and, watching her joy/love of the Theatre blossom has been positively heart-warming.

While recently attended the amazing production of "The Wizard of Oz" presented by the Ukiah Players Theatre - I sat there with tears in my eyes. Really.

My heart beamed as our daughter gushed from the front row. She was wearing her own little, ruby red-slippers + snuggling tight to her stuffed Flying-monkey (yup! They make those!), as she listened intently - smiling from ear to ear - while 'Dorthy' sang her beautiful heart out. It was pretty spectacular.

I left feeling like I needed to give back - somehow.

Performers spend SO much of their time (their parents, too!) + energy bringing each Production to life. Many of them performing in different shows time & time again!

So, during our very next dance class, I asked SPACE if I could have the honor of shooting their next Cast. To give something back, to show my appreciation for all that they do + the joy they bring to our Family.

THANK YOU to all the amazing people that share their love of the Theatre with us & for allowing me the opportunity to show my appreciation!! xo
And here's a little sneak-peek of what we get to watch from the Larsen couch ~ especially after we've just returned home from one of your WONDERFUL Productions...! "-)
© Larsen's Photography