Finally!… Florida

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…and with it, hopefully a healthy dose of inspiration!
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I can’t believe I’m finally getting around to posting about our Florida trip… the Florida trip we took last May! Yup… that’s what I said… May. Better late than never, I guess. It’s raining here today… and cold, so it’s actually probably good timing that I’m posting today. I’m hoping these pictures can temporarily transport us outta here… to a much more pleasant view.
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If you could use a better view today, too, scroll to the very end and skip what I wrote… for now. =)

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I’ve been ready to post for at least a month, but I’ve been devoting almost all my time and energy to something else that prevented me from being able to sit down long enough to upload all the photos and compose a post. Before that point, I was waiting on getting the book I had made for my in-laws {who we were visiting on our trip} as a thank you gift. A bit more about that further down. First, a few thoughts on our trip…

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Izzy

Well, it’s been so long now, I don’t remember all that I had wanted to write about this trip. But I can say this. It was a wonderful trip. This was Izzy’s first time flying as a boy old enough to comprehend that he was flying {he flew to Florida once as a baby}. And just the same, he comprehended being in a place far from home and the whole idea of tropical Florida much more than he did on our first trip there. So that was pretty cool… to watch him experience both those things for the first {sort of} time, and enjoy them so.

I was just so glad he was able to play on the beach with his cousins to his heart’s content… and that they got to see him, too. It’s the first time they have been together since his cousins and family moved away last year.
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Anysia… and All of Us Who Miss Her

As for me, and even for Mr. B, we found the trip good, relaxing and fun, but it wasn’t without a mix or sorrow. It’s the first trip we’ve taken since Anysia died, so it felt rather sad to be going, with an overwhelming sense of the one who was missing from our family vacation.

My twin sister did the sweetest thing, though. Without even telling her the sense of sadness we felt going into it, she did something that indicated she felt it just as much… for us.

Before we left for the airport, she gave me a little drawstring bag tied up tight so that I couldn’t see what was inside. Her adamant instructions were, “Do not open this until you get to Florida.” So I stuffed her little pink and white tie-dye pouch into the only place I could find that wasn’t already packed to the brim… my camera bag… and headed off to Florida, very curious about what was in there. When we arrived, I sat alone first chance I could get and opened her little bag. In it was a note, written on a lined piece of post-it paper. It said, “Mama… For you to have a way to take me with you to the beach. I ❤ you. I love my Auntie, too.” The note didn’t make complete sense until I reached in and pulled out the baby-sized swim suit that was inside. It was cherry red with white hearts all over it… think polka-dots, but heart-shaped. And there was a sweet ruffle all the way around the waist. Of course, I cried, imagining my girl as a small baby inside that most adorable suit. But there was more. I reached in to pull something else out… Ollie, the stuffed pink octopus. Ollie had little white polka dots, big round eyes, and sweet little smile. Then I cried some more. It was the sweetest gesture, and I treasured that small bag and its contents the entire vacation… and beyond.

Being there without our sweet girl was especially hard, because Mr. B’s brother was also there with his family, including his youngest daughter… our sweet niece who was born just three weeks after Anysia. It was a joy to spend time with them all. It really was. Even they had sensed the missing piece in our family unit as we all vacationed together, and that meant a lot. So we all felt the tinge of pain, but it was also somewhat comforting to watch our little niece who is the age our daughter would be. In fact, she and I bonded a quite a bit. I didn’t know that could happen on this trip. But I think I needed it to happen… I think it was the only thing that would get me through that trip as far as our loss and missing Anysia goes.
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My niece is such a precious little girl… so sweet and docile. I imagine Anysia having that same sort of second-child nature. She was born two and half months early, so I see her as a little miracle that came after our loss… as painful as it was to see her arrive, she is a blessing, joy and gift, too. So, it’s strange to say, but getting to know her was one of the best parts of our trip. Of course, I had to take her picture a lot… and so glad I did, too, because I was able to capture some absolutely precious moments.

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The Nikon

One other significant piece to this trip was the fact that my camera broke… I think less than halfway in. I would have thought I’d be devastated. But I somehow took it rather calmly. Perhaps that is because it was still usable, even though it was broken. I didn’t know what the underlying problem was at the time… I only knew that the mirror inside the camera was stuck in the up position. Because of it, I was not able to take pictures using the viewfinder, which was covered and just looked black when I tried to look through it. I had to rely only on the LCD screen on the back of the camera. But being in sunny Florida where there is so much bright light, this method proved to be quite difficult… it was very hard to see what was on my screen. It was also difficult to tell whether or not I was over-exposed or under-exposed for my post-malfunction shots. So, taking pictures was cumbersome, and many of my shots were slightly more exposed than I would have liked.

Still, I was determined. It just goes to show how the heart of photographer won’t let anything stop her from getting her pictures, and that bells and whistles aren’t necessary… just sheer determination. These all ended up being some of my favorite pictures I have ever taken… and all on a dysfunctional camera.

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The Sunsets

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I’ve never shot more sunset photographs in my life, I think, than on this trip. But I couldn’t resist. Each one was so different from the rest and each equally beautiful. I don’t exactly recall, but I think we watched every sunset except one {because we were out to eat}. As one of the quotes in my book says…

There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them. {Jo Walton}

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The Photos {a Book or a Photo Album… Take Your Pick}

So… now for the photos. There are a lot. When I first came back from our trip and viewed them all on my monitor, I thought How will I ever choose from all my favorites? There are far too many to post on my blog. Enter photo e-book technology.

I wanted a way to include all my favorite shots, but not in yet another slide show {though those work well, too… and I’ve included one of those below as well}. I wanted something that would tell the story a little more than the way a slide show could. So it came to me that I should make a book to give to my in-laws, who so generously flew us down to see them. After our second trip to their place in Florida {over ten years ago, I think}, I had made a book for my mother-in-law, but it was an old-school photo book. I printed out the pictures at a photo lab and pasted them all in a scrapbook/photo album to give to Mr. B’s parents. I had wanted to do this for every trip since… one in 2009 and another in 2012, but never got around to it. So I was determined to make a book again for this 2015 trip. {Who knows… I may even get around to making a 2009 and 2012 book some day, too.}

It took me months to put the book together. I actually used an old design I had created for my South African friend who wanted to make a special photography book for her husband. It contained photos of her and some poetry and writing she gathered for it. I created a design with lots of white space so that her book would have a clean, open aesthetic. I thought this same design would lend itself well to my Florida book, too. So I started there, but I had to add a lot of extra pages, as my book is so much larger than hers. But it all worked out well, despite the tremendous amount of time it took.

I ended up having it printed at Blurb, and they did a fabulous job. There were some hiccups along the way, but in the end, I was happy with the book I finally ended up giving my in-laws. Blurb really does do a wonderful job… the books look beautiful if you get the right paper. I will likely use them again in the future, although I hope the next time the experience is hiccup-free. I will say this. If there are any problems with your book should you print with them, they will definitely do everything they can to correct the problems and accommodate the situation. So, I can unequivocally say, their customer service is outstanding.

Of course, I couldn’t show the actual book here. So instead, I created a digital version via Issuu. It’s that online digital copy of the book that I’ve included below. The only caveat for viewing this book well is that it has to be viewed on a large monitor/screen. Well, that is to say, if the text in my book is to be legible, it needs to be viewed on a larger device than a smart phone or tablet. I know that not everyone has a giant monitor like I have, so I’ve also included a slide show of just the photos beneath my digital book.

It’s the book I most wanted to share here, though, because making it was a labor of love. And it’s more than just photos, but some great quotes and lyrics, too.

One more thing. While staying with my in-laws in Florida, I had taken note of all the little quote-signs my mother-in-law has around her fabulously-decorated condo so that I could use them in the book. The quotes from her place that I used appear on pages 21, 33, 49, 69 and 107.

Since my book has 200 pages, I needed a few more quotes. Ha! Just a few. ::winks::

So I searched the internet high and low to find quotes or poetry that would go well with all my photos. I also searched my favorite quotes email draft where I paste all the quotes or lyrics I find and love and want to use in the future… which is why much of what I included is favorite song lyrics of mine or favorite quotes I’ve collected over the years. I wanted this to be more than just a photo book. I wanted it to be sort of an heirloom, and I wanted it to be inspirational… which is why I wanted to share it here. I hope that any who view it find it so.

NOTE: Clicking on “Click to read” below will open the book in a full-screen version. But it can also be viewed in a separate tab instead, by clicking here. Also, viewing on a larger device than a tablet is best, as I said, but the type might be too small to read even then. However, there is a zoom button in the tool strip below the book, so anything that is difficult to read can be seen better by zooming in.

So, without further yapping ado, the photo book…
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And below is the photos-only slide show of my Florida 2015 flickr album {mosaic view here}…
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That’s it!!

Gangsta Izzy, Chatch-the-Giraffe and I say… thanks for looking!
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