One More Moment – Local Charity Spotlight

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This week my husband and I attended a happy hour event for One More Moment, a local Ann Arbor charity that helps create “one more moment” for late stage cancer warriors.

(We’ve gone to several events in the past, and all of them have been fabulous)

Maybe you’re wondering:

What is One More Moment?

It’s a nonprofit charity based in Ann Arbor that works with local donors and supporters to give late stage cancer warriors their “one more moment” together:

One More Moment …[was]… created to help give local late stage cancer warriors and their families … one more special moment together. … They needn’t be extreme or “typical”. The key is for something special and unique for every individual & family; simply “their” moment to enjoy.

You can like their Facebook page and visit their website, onemoremoment.org, for more info.

So, back to the Happy Hour event.  It was nice relaxing end to a busy day for us.  There were a lot of people there (One More Moment sold tickets in advance, and ended up announcing that tickets were sold out earlier in the week!).

Everyone left with a goody bag, but there were a number of winners that took home raffle items too!  Like my grandmother, I have a knack for winning things.  So, we left with a really cool Shock-Top logo-ed patio/beach umbrella, and a wooden crate full of other Shock-Top swag.  I think the wooden crate may make an appearance in future kid photo sessions, as it is just the right size for babies and toddlers to sit in!  Thank you!

If you were there, we hope you had as much fun as we did.  My kids “helped” me dig through the bags today, and I was reminded how MANY wonderful local Ann Arbor businesses have contributed goodies to help these One More Moment fundraisers fabulous. So, when you look through your swag, please consider supporting all the local businesses who made the even possible!

Here are some photos that I took of the event.  Feel free to share them with friends and family, upload to Facebook or whatever social media. I just ask that you leave the discrete watermark intact.

Remember to like One More Moment on Facebook and visit their website, onemoremoment.org, for more info!

Simple Holiday Ornament Card (with Photo Window)

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Simple Holiday Ornament Card Free Printable... Cut out ornaments to showcase artwork or photos of your kids!

My boys were a little antsy for Christmas this weekend, so we skipped the usual “wait until one holiday is done to begin celebrating the next one” — a mandatory rule at our house.  After all, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!  But they wanted to make holiday cards, since I’d been talking with their Grandma about the family photos that we’ll be putting on their annual greeting card.

So, off I went to oblige my boys.  Sometimes it can be a struggle to find a craft or activity that both of them can do, since Toby is five and Zack is still two.  But after a bit of creative thinking on my part, we were able to come up with an easy Christmas card craft idea that can be adapted for any age!

So, here’s my take on the kid-made Christmas card idea.

(Don’t worry, I’ll share a free printable at the end with you, so you can easily make this simple holiday ornament card too).

Now, depending on your child’s age, you’ll be able to do less work — my five year old was able to cut out the circle windows for his own card.  But my two year old’s attempts with scissors did no more than make strips of paper (which you’ll notice we glued onto a solid sheet of colored paper to create striped ornaments. Too cute!

Supplies to have on hand

You’ll probably want to get supplies out ahead of time.  So, here are the things we used.  I included affiliate links to some items on Amazon, in case you want to get your own.

  • Zots Glue Dots or a gluestick
  • Paper Edger Scissors (the ones that make a fancy/crazy cut rather than a straight line)
  • Normal Scissors
  • Crayons, markers, or coloring pencils
  • paper in assorted colors
  • printable PDF, printed on standard paper

You might have noticed I didn’t bother to use cardstock for this project.  That’s because the two layers of paper make the card sturdy enough.  And, if you decide to include a piece of artwork inside the card, then the recipient can take it out and hang it on their fridge!

Making the Holiday Ornament Cards

I set the kids loose with all the craft supplies on the table, so we ended up with a few outtake cards too.

No big deal.  Those are adorable too.

But since you want to know how to make the ones I’ve shown you… I’ll focus on those.

First, we cut out the gray ornament shapes on my printable, shown below.  There are download links for a PDF and a JPG file right below the image.

Simple Holiday Ornament Card Free Printable... Cut out ornaments to showcase artwork or photos of your kids!

Holiday Ornament Card Printable (PDF format)  |  Holiday Ornament Cart Printable (JPG format)

After we had the picture window openings created, my boys decorated a second sheet of paper.  This ultimately sits behind the printable, and you’ll see some pops of color (or some cute pictures) in the ornament openings.

I did help the kids position the photos to make sure they were in the openings, but if you didn’t trim the photos close to size, as we did, there would be a lot more wiggle room.

If you’re having trouble visualizing this whole concept, don’t worry!

I took some photos to show you exactly what the two pieces of paper look like before (and after) they are sandwiched together.

Holiday Card Components (Before)

 

The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. For this artwork page, created by my two year old, we didn't really need to worry about placement so much!
The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. For this artwork page, created by my two year old, we didn’t really need to worry about placement so much!

 

The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. Note how we positioned the photos so they will show through the ornament openings!
The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. Note how we positioned the photos so they will show through the ornament openings!

 

Holiday Card (after, unfolded)

And once you put them together the holiday ornaments look very festive, regardless of whether you choose to showcase a crayon artwork or show off photos of your kids!

Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great, even if you choose not to include any photos. I think this is a great simple holiday ornament card!
Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great, even if you choose not to include any photos. I think this is a great simple holiday ornament card!

 

Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great. I love how the paper strips cut with the edging scissors look on the ornaments!
Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great. I love how the paper strips cut with the edging scissors look on the ornaments!

 

Now all that’s left to do is the folding. Depending on your child’s accuracy, they may ask you to help with this step.

Fine by me!

Simple Holiday Ornament Cards

Okay, now that you’ve seen the process, here are the finished cards!

The finished holiday ornament cards, after being assembled and folded.
The finished holiday ornament cards, after being assembled and folded.

 

If you want to see the fronts, insides, and backs of each card, feel free to click on an image below to enlarge.

Holiday Card Outtakes

Now, I have to admit, Zack (the two year old) helped me make both of these cards. Toby (the five year old), while perfectly capable, decided to do his own thing and create a very lovely holiday card of his own (he insisted I draw him something to color too).

Toby decided to draw this lovely holiday greeting card with the sun shining down on the pine trees and the water. Not exactly a printable holiday ornament card, but still adorable!
Toby decided to draw this lovely holiday greeting card with the sun shining down on the pine trees and the water. Not exactly a printable holiday ornament card, but still adorable!

 

Here are a few other outtakes of cards that my boys created… along the same thought process, but without the holiday ornament card printable.

 

 

I meant to share some pictures of the kids creating these holiday ornament cards, but things were a little crazy so I set the camera aside to help make sure everyone was using scissors safely (ahem…. toddler alert!).

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this cute and simple holiday card craft enough that you’ll forgive my being so early with the activity!  Now, go have some fun, download the printable, and cut out those ornaments to showcase your favorite kid-made artwork or photos of your kids!

 

 


kid-made-christmas-card-series-badge-largebphotoart-holiday-ornament-card-photo-window-sqYou’ll enjoy checking out the other Christmas cards created in this series! Thirty bloggers will be sharing their kid-made Christmas cards with you, so make sure to check out the entire Kid-Made Christmas Card Series (hosted by Mum in the Mad House).

Make sure to peek at this really cute Christmas tree card by Sew Kidding!

 

 

Spring Art Exhibit features Fine Art Photograph by Betsy Finn

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A fine art photograph by Dexter Michigan photographer Betsy Finn has been included in a local spring art exhibit.  The photograph, titled “Jerusalem of Gold,” was taken at sunrise on Easter Sunday.  Finn and her traveling companions arrived at the scenic viewpoint on the Mount of Olives before dawn on the day she created this photograph.  As the sun rose, Finn captured a series of images, and ultimately blended them together to create a breathtaking panoramic view of Jerusalem.  The fine art print is approximately 8″ tall by 40″ long.

Jerusalem of Gold, fine art photograph taken at sunrise on Easter Sunday in Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

The spring art exhibit in which Finn’s work is featured is one of three yearly juried shows put on by the Ann Arbor Women Artists, a local non-profit group with about 330+ members.  Finn was one of 35 members whose art was chosen to be included in the spring exhibit, which runs March 13 through April 29th at the Mallets Creek Library in Ann Arbor.

Below are two images from the opening reception, held the evening of Friday, March 18th at the Mallets Creek Branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library.

Betsy Finn's fine art photograph on display at the ann arbor spring art exhibit
Attendees of the opening reception discuss “Jerusalem of Gold” with one another.
Betsy Finn's fine art photograph on display at the ann arbor spring art exhibit
Finn’s fine art photograph was hung in main area where the opening reception was held, alongside many other gorgeous fine art pieces.

The spring art exhibit will be on display at the Mallets Creek Library in Ann Arbor through April 29th.  We hope you will consider stopping by to view the many wonderful artworks on display.  Many of the art pieces on display, including Finn’s panorama, “Jerusalem of Gold,” are for sale, so if you’re looking to add some art by local artists to your fine art collection, this might be the perfect opportunity to view a variety of pieces.

A Train Ride to See Santa

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A Train Ride to See Santa on the Southern Michigan RailroadSince my toddler LOVES trains, and because this year he was old enough to fully appreciate Santa, I went online searching for something akin to Santa train rides (or a Polar Express experience).  I discovered that in Owosso, Michigan, you can buy tickets to ride on the actual Polar Express train — the Pere Marquette 1225 — through the Steam Railroading Institute.  The tickets include a stop at the North Pole, and a visit with Santa… and apparently the event sells out quickly.  The only thing left, when I got to their booking site, was the caboose — which is for 12 people, and could be rented out for $1500.  Not exactly what we were looking for… at least not this year, right?

So I finally found a (more local) alternative.  The Southern Michigan Railroad offers Santa train rides in Clinton, Michigan!  There were tickets available, both in coach and in the caboose (it costed about $40 for the three of us – baby was free).  The 30 minute train ride started and ended at the Clinton Station; and after the ride you could visit Santa inside said station.

The Santa train ride, believe it or not, was perfect for us this year.  Toby is nuts about trains, but the 30 minute train ride was just the right length.  Anything longer and he would’ve been jumping out of his seat; someone was antsy to see Santa.  We reserved seats in the caboose, but due to logistics, on the day of our ride, we did end up sitting in coach.  No matter, the ticket price was the same.

When the train arrived back at the station, everyone piled out and raced to the train station to see Santa.  Toby loved every minute of it.  He was actually so enthralled with the model trains inside the station that he ended up telling Santa he wanted a train (another one, hah) for Christmas.  Go figure.  Zack happily joined his big brother with Santa for a photo op — we did have to pry that long beard out of some baby fingers afterwards!

Here are some pictures from our train ride to see Santa; enjoy!  Click on an image to open in gallery view mode.

The whole Santa experience has been interesting for us this year.  We also saw Santa at the country club.  And when making plans for dinner that night, we were a little unsure how to proceed (that whole “two Santas” thing).  Fortunately, we’d read The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear #afflink, which tactfully addresses why there are Santa bears in all the malls, how Santa can visit houses without chimneys, or travel without snow.

And when the boys get to the age where they begin to question the magic of Santa… I just found the perfect response: How to Ensure You Don’t Botch the “Is Santa Real?” Conversation.  Seriously. Read that post.  It is magical.  And so sweet.  And is the perfect way to focus on the giving, sharing, joyful aspects of Christmas rather than the “let down” of a shattered dream about Santa.  I’m not sure how my parents handled the Santa conversation; frankly, I don’t remember.  But Santa was only an accessory to Christmas for me, growing up.

And that’s how we want things to be around here for our boys.  Yes, Santa is great.  I want them to experience the magic of Santa… the joy of setting out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.  But Santa has his place.  He’s not the main reason for Christmas, but a symbol of selfless giving.  I don’t want Santa to get the credit for the best gifts!  (yes, I’m selfish that way, lol).  So we’ve relegated Santa’s offerings to the stockings… and one or two gifts to be placed under the tree in the wee hours of Christmas morning.

How do you celebrate Christmas?  Do you acknowledge Santa’s “existence” or do you fill your kids in on the real deal?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Nite Lights – Christmas Light Show

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Nite Lites at the Jackson County FairgroundsJust a week or so ago, I learned about Nite Lites at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, one of the largest Christmas light shows in all of Michigan.  I was elated, and told my husband we had to go.  He agreed.

You see, both of us remember going to Domino’s Farms in Ann Arbor to see the Christmas light show.  It was an event; my parents and my brother, along with my grandparents, would all pile in the car for a driving tour of the elaborate light displays.  I think my favorite part was the “tunnel” of lights.  And since that light show had been discontinued years ago, it hadn’t crossed our minds.  That is, until a local parent told me about Nite Lites.

Nite Lites is a 2 mile long car ride through an elaborate light show, complete with train rides, games for kids, the option to see Santa, and more.  It draws around 37,000 people annually — how did we not know about this?  I feel like we’ve been hiding under a rock or something.

Anyways, we took the boys out for our annual Christmas dinner (dubbed as such because we give the waitress an especially nice tip), and then headed to see the light show.

When we arrived, the line of cars waiting was about a mile long, and we spent a number of minutes inching forward while Toby was practically jumping out of his seat in excitement.

Once we were inside the fairgrounds, Toby was allowed out of his carseat, and he rode shotgun with me for the light show.  Toby was brimming with excitement as he peered through the front windshield, craning his neck to count the big candles by the “official” entrance.

As we passed each item of interest, Toby would declare, “that’s my favorite too!”  He liked the semi truck, the train bearing presents, Rudolph bowling (complete with animation), to name a few.  It really brought back the magic of Christmas for me, that feeling of excitement and childhood wonder.  I’m so glad we were able to let Toby experience the same thrill of seeing such elaborate Christmas light displays.  Zack slept through the light show, of course, but no matter.  This will definitely be an experience that we repeat in the years to come.  Nite Lites met and surpassed our expectations!

While nothing compares to the actual experience of driving through a light show, I figured you might enjoy seeing a few smartphone captures from our drive.

Last share from the light display…a video!

A video posted by Betsy Finn {BPhotoArt.com} (@bphotoart_com) on

If you want to visit Nite Lites 2014, there is still time!!  The Christmas light show (which went up November 27th) runs until December 30th at the Jackson County Fairgrounds — every evening, 5:30 – 9:00 pm.   It costs $15 per vehicle, or $30 per bus.  So bring the family!

The Super Run Comes to Ann Arbor (+Giveaway!)

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Every kid loves super heroes, right? While I know there are probably some exceptions to that rule, my toddler is a super hero fan.  He likes spiderman (who uses webs to catch bad guys), superman (maybe from the “superman glide” in swim class), and now… Super Toby!

He recently got to design his own super hero cape, in anticipation for the Super Run, a fun run for families that partners with local charities to raise awareness and funding.

super-run-group

designing Toby's custom superhero cape online.
designing Toby’s custom superhero cape online.
The lovely folks at the Super Run kindly gave me an adult registration to the Super Run, plus one kid’s super cape (compliments of SuperFlyKids.com). What is more exciting than that? I got a second set to give away too! So, one lucky person will receive an adult registration for the Super Run, plus a super cape designed by my son. To enter your name for this giveaway, just leave a comment on this post saying what super hero is your favorite.

The cape Toby designed is hand-made locally… right in Livonia, Michigan! While only one lucky reader will get a free cape, you can also use this code to get 20% off your total order at SuperFlyKids.com — SUPERRUNFAN. Toby enjoyed the visual design choices — picking a black cape, red lightning bolt, and white letter “T” for the super cape.

Then we had to wait for our super cape to be created.

Toby was really excited to get his cape in the mail.  He proudly showed Daddy his “Super Toby” cape — complete with letter “T’ and lightning bolt. I was impressed with the quality of the stitching, and the nice floaty feel of the silky fabric. It is perfect for when little super heroes need to zoom across the room. The cape attaches with velcro (nice safety feature, right?).

Ok, enough about the cape, right? And more about the Super Run!  This event is kind of unique in that the Super Run doesn’t support just a single cause — supporters can attend this one event and support multiple causes.  The Ann  Arbor host charity is the Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.  They seek every day superheros for the more than 13,000 foster children in Michigan. Partner charities include:

  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • Children’s Hospitals National Foundation
  • Children’s Hospital of Michigan
  • University Musical Society

The Ann Arbor Super Run will take place at Gallup Park on Saturday, September 6th. Registration begins at 8:30 am, the 1K run starts at 10am, and the 5K run starts at 10:30am. There will be a vendor booth area for local businesses, artists, and the like, and fun activities for kids too.  Super Runs typically include kid activities like moonbounces, face painting, DJ’s, magicians, etc. (details are still in the works). Registration for adults is $20-30, $10 for kids.  When you register, you’ll get the following super hero swag:

  • The Super Run cape
  • Silicone bracelet
  • Temporary tattoo that says “I’m Super”.

Take a peek at the official flier (opens in new window), or learn more at TheSuperRun.com.

Here are some photos from past Super Runs… doesn’t it look like fun?

And as a parting note, I found this awesome post on 13 ideas for the little super hero.

Here’s the flier for the Ann Arbor Super Run:

AnnArborFlier

Note: I received a complimentary registration and cape to help promote and raise awareness for the Super Run. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Want to win the goodies I have to share? Leave a comment with the name of your favorite super hero!

Timber Town – A Playground Excursion

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Timber Town is a lovely park located in Chelsea, Michigan. I’ve always been fond of extensive play structures, particularly ones constructed from wood, like Timber Town. While some of the areas were a little old for my toddler, we had fun exploring the structure, which was essentially a maze.

Panoramic view of Timber Town (from near the "Tot Lot").
Panoramic view of Timber Town (from near the “Tot Lot”).

As a parent, I really appreciated the fact there is a main “entrance” to Timber Town playground, and while it’s not fenced in, you do have a hard time getting out. That’s good for corralling toddlers! In addition to the main play structure at Timber Town, there is a pint-sized “Tot Lot” attached to Timber Town. This area is more tailored to younger children, and, as we discovered, was the perfect place to play when the “big kids” descended upon the park for a picnic playdate.

There are several sets of swings, both in the toddler and main play area. There are several picnic tables near the entrance to the Timber Town structure; a larger gazebo/pavilion picnic area sits just next to the playground. Parking is plentiful, and free, of course, as you’ll find with many playgrounds in the area.

Timber Town is open from dawn to dusk, if I remember correctly, and there is no admission fee. One thing to note — you cannot reserve the picnic areas for gatherings or parties, they are first-come-first-serve at Timber Town (and the other parks in Chelsea as well).

A Photo Documentary of Our Excursion to Timber Town

Now it’s finally time to share some pictures of Timber Town with you! I figured a photo documentary style gallery would be the most practical, as there is really a lot to see at Timber Town. You’ll have to visit in person to get the full experience — trust me, your kids will thank you later. (Click on any image below to enter gallery view)

Find Timber Town On the Map

Timber Town is off Sibley road, less than a mile from downtown Chelsea, MI. Just slightly to the east, at the corner of Sibley and Main, you’ll find the smaller Independence Park.


View City Parks in Chelsea, Michigan in a larger map

Do You Have A Favorite Park?

While we visit Mill Creek Park in Dexter more frequently (it has a nice trail), Timber Town really has a fabulous draw for little ones because of the massive play structure. There’s something about being able to “hide” in a playground that thrills kids, I think.

Do you have a go-to park that is your kids’ first choice? Any childhood favorites? I’d love to hear stories or thoughts from you in the comments below!

Visiting Mill Creek Park in Dexter

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One of the perks about our nice weather? Being able to spend time outdoors without bundling up! I love being able to get outdoors, but especially if the sun is shining and it’s not too warm or too cold.  We did a combination walk/bike excursion at the park, which worked …except my son is pretty quick on his balance bike.  Next time, I may consider bringing along my bike so I can do a better job of keeping up!

Mill Creek Park Boardwalk - Dexter Outdoors 5565

All the photographs in this post were taken at the Mill Creek Park in Dexter, Michigan.  It’s been fun to see the improvements and changes that have taken place over the past several years.  The park has also undergone a name change — it used to be Warrior Creek Park. The dam was removed to allow for a return to more natural creek conditions, and a pedestrian bridge was created to connect the park, via about 5 miles of trail, to Hudson Mills park.  A stairway (with bike ramp!) now allows visitors to get from the park up to Alpine street (where the Library and Farmer’s Market are located).  There are also boat launches for kayaks/canoes.

Mill Creek Park - Dexter Outdoors 5579

We haven’t gone the full length of the trail yet, maybe halfway — but it really has been nice to use the wide trails and boardwalks for getting outdoors.  Here are some photographs of our park excursion.  On this particular day, we also ventured to “downtown” Dexter as my toddler wanted to go up the ramp/pathway when we were on our way up to the library for storytime.

Mill Creek Park - Dexter Outdoors

Fortunately I had allotted enough time for the scenic detour (usually we use the stairs right next to the libary).  In the images below, you’ll also find we stopped at the playground — long enough to go down the slide, have mama give an “underdog” or two on the swing, and find a prize pine cone that later accompanied us home.

Pine cone at Mill Creek Park - Dexter Outdoors

In case I haven’t made it obvious, I really love being outdoors.  It was so fun to identify birds, their songs, look for fish and frogs, and read some of the new informational signs that were placed in the park when it was updated.  So, anyways, make sure to check out the images a little further on (click on any image to open in gallery mode).

Portraits at Mill Creek Park in Dexter

Dexter’s Mill Creek Park is also great for portraits!  I have enjoyed creating family photos, high school senior pictures, and portraits of toddlers all in various areas of this park.  Here are some favorites from a few sessions to give you an idea of what we’ve done in the past.  Make sure to check out one senior portrait in particular; it will show you what the park looked like prior to the construction of the pedestrian bridge!

Mill Creek Park Scenes and Snapshots

And back to our park excursion photographs… here are more images of Mill Creek Park, the boardwalk, and our fun in the sun on a wonderful spring day!

By the way, my son loves his fireman balance bike (afflink). The balance bike is adjustable in height and has allowed him to really get the hang of balancing, gliding, and steering — all while zooming. It’s amazing to see the difference when we bring out a tricycle or other “vehicle” with pedals. Those pedals have been a source of frustration, whereas the balance bike is natural and freeing. Based on what success my friends have had with their kids and balance bikes, I anticipate an eventual smooth transition to a 2 wheel bike (with pedals) down the road, skipping training wheels completely!

Articles About Mill Creek Park

Here are some articles about Mill Creek Park — detailing the different stages of contruction, and the official Dexter Parks page. Links will open in a new window for your convenience.

What About You?

Do you have any favorite activities when you go to the park? It seems like we always visit the playground, and we usually have at least the balance bike with us. On one trip to Mill Creek Park, we were blessed with an unexpected friendship when we met another mama! What’s your favorite part of being outdoors? Is it the wildlife? The scenery? The people you’re with? Do you have a favorite memory at a particular park?

Downtown Fine Art Photography Exhibit

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I am excited to share with you that some of my fine art photography is on display (and available for sale) at the downtown Ann Arbor Sweetwaters Cafe. While I had been over there to help install the exhibit, tonight was my first return trip since then. We ventured to Ann Arbor’s downtown for a nice weekday dinner with family — and while we were there, a quick stop at Sweetwaters was in order.

Right in the entryway, we stopped to take a picture of my artist statement and one of my photographs. Since there were some willing hands, I happily stepped in front of the camera to prove I was there.

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Ann Arbor Mu Phi Espilon Concert Celebrates 100 years

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bphotoart-portrait-20286-051

The Ann Arbor Mu Phi chapter had a wonderful concert tonight! It celebrated 100 Years of the Ann Arbor Alumni Chapter. Many Alumni and friends of Mu Phi participated, and I thought it was lovely. Here are a few highlights from the event (see below). Several of my mother’s poems were set to music; it was really great to see the poems evolve and take on new meaning as they were performed. Read More

Discovering Cambridge and England – Travelogue

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This upcoming Tuesday evening I will be giving another program at the Dexter Library. I will be showing images from a trip to England that I took a number of years ago. I will share images of sites like the White Tower in London and Stonehenge, as well as images of my home base for the trip, Cambridge. I look forward to seeing many of you there! These have been quite fun to do 🙂

Discovering Cambridge, Visiting England – A Photo Travelogue
February 5th, 2012 — 7pm at the Dexter District Library

Join Master Photographer Betsy Finn in exploring England through photographs. Betsy will share portraits and anecdotes of her month-long stay in the college town of Cambridge, as well as images of many England’s landmarks — from ancient to modern.

Discovering England and Switzerland

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If you enjoyed Betsy’s previous programs at the library (Portraits of Italy and Israel), then you will be thrilled to hear that she will be giving two additional travelogues this winter at the Dexter District Library! In December, Betsy will share images from Switzerland, and in February, she will share images from the UK. More program details are available below; make sure to mark your calendars now so you remember to attend.

Discovering Switzerland – A Photo Travelogue
December 11th, 2012 — 7pm at the Dexter District Library

Join Master Photographer Betsy Finn for a journey through the Swiss Alps to the picturesque village of Murren. Betsy will share portraits and stories of traveling by funicular in the Alps, by cable car to the Matterhorn, by train around Lake Luzern, and more.

Discovering Cambridge, Visiting England – A Photo Travelogue
February 5th, 2012 — 7pm at the Dexter District Library

Join Master Photographer Betsy Finn in exploring England through photographs. Betsy will share portraits and anecdotes of her month-long stay in the college town of Cambridge, as well as images of many England’s landmarks — from ancient to modern.

Gordon Hall Civil War Days

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Last weekend we visited Gordon Hall for their Civil War Days event! In addition to capturing some photographs for the event, we had a family fun day :). We strolled through the civilian and military camps, watched the military firing demonstration, and enjoyed part of a Civil War era ball game. Our toddler enjoyed taking in most of the sights, but unlike last year (when the cannon didn’t even faze him), the rifles were a bit scary. Here’s a snapshot of the boys watching the ball game! 🙂

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Portraits of Italy and Israel

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As you may know, last year Betsy traveled across the Atlantic to both Israel and Italy.  Over a period of fourteen days, Betsy explored and visited many interesting cities — and gained an interesting first person perspective regarding places she’d previously only known via textbooks.  From getting to see the Sistine Chapel in person and experiencing Jerusalem during Holy Week, to swimming in the Dead Sea and exploring the mountaintop of Masada, experiences such as these were inspiration for the photographs Betsy captured.

Portraits of Rome, Italy Portraits of Jerusalem, Israel

Early next year, you too will be able to share in these experiences — Betsy will be sharing images created during her time in Israel and Italy at the Dexter library. The two series lecture and exhibit will be held on February 26th, 2012 and April 29th, 2012.

Lecture and Exhibit: Portraits of Rome.
On February 26th, 2012 at 2pm, join Betsy Finn and travel to  Rome – the eternal city – through a photographic exhibit and lecture.  Betsy will share images, historical background, and anecdotes from her visit to various parts of Italy, including Rome, Pompeii, and Tivoli.

Lecture and Exhibit: Portraits of Israel.
On April 29th, 2012 at 2pm, join Betsy Finn and travel to Israel – the land of milk and honey – through a photographic exhibit and lecture.  Betsy will share images and history of Jerusalem during Holy week, as well as the historically significant Masada, to the Sea of Galilee, and Nazareth and Jericho.

Both lecture/exhibits will be held at the Dexter District Library.

Betsy Speaking at Dexter Library

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This fall, Betsy will be speaking at the Dexter Public Library. Make sure to mark off your calendar for Thursday, October 13th at 7:00pm so you can learn about Organizing and Safeguarding your Digital Heirlooms.

Dexter local Certified Professional Photographer Betsy Finn will help you figure out what to do with all those pictures once they’re on your camera. From tips and tricks for keeping your digital pictures organized, to recommendations on storing heirloom “copies” for your future generations… now more than ever, it is important to have a plan so you don’t lose years worth of visual memories if your computer crashes.

Dexter Michigan Library

Civil War Days At Gordon Hall

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This weekend, many people (and families!) attended Civil War Days at Dexter’s Gordon Hall. Check out the images below to get a feel for what all the hullabaloo was about. There was an artillery firing demonstration, military and civilian camps, and many displays and presentations by artisans. An old time wet plate photography booth was up and running too, many people enjoyed seeing the processing and tin type prints being made.

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Youth with a Purpose

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I believe it’s important to give back to those in our community; to share the talents I have been given. I really do believe that everyone deserves to have their memories captured, and that senior portraits are a big part of creating a legacy. Senior portraits aren’t just a sign that you’re done with high school; they have become a personality statement. For many families, these senior portraits remain on display until replaced by wedding portraits.

When Brandon and Charlae (co-directors of the Youth with a Purpose mentorship program) contacted me, I felt that it would just be right to give these youths (and their families) a gift of portraiture. Betsy’s Photography will be donating senior portrait packages to the initial group of YWP seniors (in graduating classes 2010 through 2014).

YWP news article: Mentors help youths find purpose

AnnArbor.com took interest in this affair, and in late January, published an article about Youth With a Purpose. Brandon told the reporter:

One parent was so overcome with joy that she began to cry […] She said that Betsy’s donation was truly a gift from God.

I’m truly honored to be able to make a difference for these youths and their families. In my life, I have been blessed in countless ways; it only makes sense to give back.

One of the highlights, so far, has been meeting the wonderful individuals involved in the mentorship program. Last night Steven and I met some of the youth! Brandon and Charlae introduced us to three of the YWP students (Left to Right: Brandon, Michael, Bailey, Steven, Betsy, Charlae, O'Dell)

Youth with a Purpose (Left to Right: Brandon, Michael, Bailey, Steven, Betsy, Charlae, O'Dell)

A little more about Youth with a Purpose, as quoted on AnnArbor.com:

Baugh and Charlae Davis founded Youth With a Purpose, a nonprofit organization of the Labor of Love Church in Ypsilanti, almost four years ago while they were working at the Comprehensive Studies Program at the University of Michigan. After gathering approximately 20 middle-school students for the program, Baugh and Davis began mentoring the students and providing help with school work. Baugh said the program has grown to include approximately 30 members.

“When our program began three years ago, many were in difficult situations at home, their academic performance was very low and many were in trouble with the law,” said Baugh. “I’m happy to say all of these issues have been resolved; it’s like they are completely different people now.”

Photography Class at Emerson Middle School

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This afternoon I got to share my love of photography with a class of middle school students! It’s been a while now, but a long time ago 😉 I actually was a student at Emerson School here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s a cute little school that has a great musical and fine arts “program” (can I call it that?). At any rate, Emerson School has a great focus on the arts, and one of my former teachers, Mrs. Borton, recently asked me if I would consider guest teaching for the photography class.

Now, I may be a photographer, but I also love to teach and share my knowledge with others. So, I jumped at the chance to spend a day with a great group of photography students. After sharing some of my work with them as “creative inspiration,” I sent the class out into the hall to complete some assignments in creative imaging (well, at Emerson it’s a more expansive common area).

Emerson Photography Students | Betsy Finn, Betsy's Photography

Emerson Photography Students | Betsy Finn, Betsy's Photography

It’s interesting to see how much photography classes have changed since digital cameras became widespread. While some of the “good old” film experiences are no longer there, going digital allows the students more creativity and quicker feedback. Now, since you’ll probably be asking if I participated in the assignments myself… the answer is “kinda.” Instead of working on all the tasks I gave for the hands-on exercise, I spent some time watching the students and seeing the creative solutions they came up with.

Emerson Photography Class | Betsy Finn, Betsy's Photography

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