Let Go of Your Expectations

Yesterday we awoke to a beautiful winter wonderland. I had been anticipating it the night before, and was excited to capture the spectacular winter scenes, right at sunrise.

But by the time I got my kids sorted out, and myself bundled up, I had already missed the brief moment of sunrise pink.

No worries, I told myself. There would still be colour in the sky, and sparkling morning light after that.

But it didn’t quite happen as I hoped, as wispy clouds filtered the sunlight, muting the colours, sparkle and brilliance I was hoping for. I soon went inside to feed my family, disappointed I was not able to capture the winter scene I had seen in my mind’s eye.

I waited for later afternoon light, and I went cross country skiing, hoping to do justice to the sparking winter scene, before a wind took it all away.

As I set out, my expectation for some dramatic lighting seemed like it was not going to be fulfilled. As many times before with photography (as well as other areas of my life) expectation for a certain thing was stealing the moment, and stopping me from seeing and enjoying what was right in front of me.

As I realized this, I decided to shift my thinking. As I changed my focus, I saw the wonder and appreciated my ski, and the beautiful winter afternoon before me. It was indeed magical, and rather Narnia like.

And although I may not have captured anything as fabulous and dramatic as Ansel Adams, I enjoy these images I did capture.

Mostly, I’m glad I’m finally learning to embrace what is in front of me, and let go of my expectations. Only then, can one truly appreciate, see, and be present in the moment.

Winter Scenery

Winter SceneryWinter botanicals


Winter moon

One Response to “Let Go of Your Expectations”

  1. Leslie DeWeert

    What lovely pictures that greatly capture God’s wonderful brilliant creation!

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The Pursuit of Balance

I’d like to begin by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year, and send out best wishes for 2016!

As we are already well into the New Year, I wonder how everyone’s New Year’s resolutions are going? I’m hoping that my goals for balance in my life may be realistic and attainable, as I look to the year ahead of me.

As I look over my Blog, and reflect on the whirlwind that was most of 2015, I feel happy and blessed to have had such a busy year, serving clients, and capturing their memories.

Through all of that, and being a busy mom too, I find myself yearning more and more for the work-life balance that always seems to have eluded me in the past.

Although I’m confidant I work efficiently, and complete work for my clients on time, I feel there is always room for improvement in one’s life. Because balance is not only about how hard you work. It’s about making time for all of the important things in one’s life.

My work, and home life has often been a cycle of feast or famine. I’ll go through periods of manic business to a sudden lull. Often I find, when the pressure is off, I’m not sure what to do next. Oh sure, I have lists of things, but then I want to procrastinate (I tell myself I’m taking a break), until the pendulum  swings the other way again, and I’m super busy-without having caught up things on my to-do list.

When I’m busy, exercise is the first thing to go. Which is so very sad and unhealthy for me, especially when my job often finds me sitting at a computer for hours.

But the thing that bothers me most, is the lack of quality time spent with family. And as I look at my children who are so quickly growing up right before my eyes, it’s so important to me to really focus on balance, so I can give them my best, and not rush our family through each day, merely following routine, seldom having true quality time.

So how do I plan to do all that? Well obviously it’s a work in progress, and I’m realizing-it will always be a work in progress. We are all allotted the same amount of time each day. No one gets any more or less than anyone else. Yet some people are absolutely amazing with how much they accomplish each day.


My work-life balance goals will include:

Getting up early.

Laughable, as I’m not typically an early riser. But with some discipline I hope to make this small yet important shift.


I just need to stop the excuses. When I do make it a priority, it’s not so hard to put on shoes and go for a walk. And when I’ve strapped on my cross country skis this winter, I’ve always been rejuvenated by it.

Work Smarter and be Focused. 

Turn off distractions, and be disciplined during the work day. Probably I’ll need to turn my Internet off for periods during the day;)

Working smarter has been a slow lesson for me. I always try to do everything myself, and have full control. But more and more I need to look for ways to automate tasks, and keep the business “chores” from taking over the creativity and production. This year I’ll be looking to make my Social Media more automated.

Break up tasks.

I’m the queen of making to-do lists, which then overwhelm me. I’m slowly learning to break down those big goals and to-do items and make them more manageable. And by setting a series of smaller goals from my larger ones, I hope to become more of a doer than a dreamer.

Spend time more wisely.

I’ve realized that each week I’ve been spending more hours than I care to admit on watching television or looking at Social Media. Yes, I like to stay in touch, and see what everyone is doing, but there is a fine line of time well spent, and time wasted away. I tell myself that T.V. is my relaxation in the evening, but in fact, I’d get more enjoyment from reading a book, having a bubble bath, or working on a personal project or craft. So why do we rush to put our children to bed, to watch a bunch of  T.V. or stare at a computer? I’m not really sure why I do. I’ll be spending much less time doing that this year, and making sure I do more of the things I truly love.

One Day at a Time.

With my never ending to-do lists, that often carry over to the next week, or the week after that, once I feel off-track, I often let feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated keep me from trying to get back on track. I need to break this cycle, and realize if I didn’t do it all one day, to pick it up again the next day. Be patient with myself and more disciplined at the same time.

Achieving balance, to me, is about being present, and being my best for all of the people and things that are important to me. Here’s to a year of quality time with my family, being healthier, living creatively, giving back to the community, and giving my clients my best.

work life Balance

2 Responses to “The Pursuit of Balance”

  1. jolene

    Very encouraging Rachel! I can relate to all of this, I think most of us can, especially the distractions that exist in the world today. Here’s to finding a recharge that is healthy for us, to help us give our best to those who are important to us!!!

    • rachelimrie

      Thanks Jolene! 2015 was pretty awesome for me, work wise, but i’m realizing if I don’t set a better pace, I’ll get burned out.
      So here is to healthy recharging, and making sure I’m not “always” working. And spending that very important quality time with family!

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Foothills Ride for STARS

Basking in the beauty and taking in all of autumn’s splendour is how I would sum up yesterday’s Foothills Ride for STARS.

I had the honour and privilege of being the event photographer for this fundraiser event, and for everyone there, it was a glorious way to spend the day.

The Foothills Ride for STARS is one of many fundraisers that provides necessary funding to this essential air ambulance service, which has helped to save many Albertan’s lives over the years.

The ride takes place just West of Priddis on the Homeplace Ranch, and allows horseback riders to spend the day enjoying trail rides, horsemanship, and the stunning scenery.

For those who don’t ride, you can catch a ride on the horse drawn wagon to the cabin, which is the halfway point, where everyone gathers for a rest, visit, music, and refreshments.

Then there are those who choose to hike the trails, and I’m sure are well rewarded with so much forest beauty during their hike.

Although the morning started off cloudy and rainy, the weather for the day turned out perfect, save for the one short rain shower, that had us a bit worried for just a few minutes. After last year’s freezing, wet ride, it was a very welcome contrast.

The sun to warm us, and the absolute peek of fall’s beauty surrounding us, everyone couldn’t help but remark over and over about our awesome day.

I’m glad I could capture it for everyone. I hope I did it justice.

For those wishing to view, and order photos of this event, I will have them available in an online Gallery on my website, rachel-ellen.com, by Monday October 5. Go to my Client Proofing tab. From there you will be able to place your order.

Horseback riding in the Foothills Ride4STARS-232 Foothills Ride for STARS

foothills Ride for STARS Ride4STARS-530Ride4STARS-588Ride4STARS-752Foothills Ride for STARS

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Diaries from the Puppy Place

I haven’t blogged in a good long while, so it’s high time I shared some photos and stories of our recent escapades. We are raising eight puppies, and this new adventure has been the reason for my recent blogging hiatus.

As I prepare this blog, the puppies have finally settled down for their nap, after finishing a very rowdy play fighting, growling, and destroying every shoe in our porch session.

Born on August 2 to their Black Lab parents Max and Raven, it’s hard to believe these puppies are six weeks old already, and will start going to their forever homes soon. And although my husband and I will be somewhat relieved to see them go, we are so glad that our family, especially our boys, have had this opportunity to see puppies be born and Watch them Grow.

Raven had such a beautiful litter as her first litter. She was an amazing mom in their first weeks of life, taking wonderful care of them, keeping them clean and nursing them.

Studio pet portraits

By three weeks old these little pups were already becoming quite a handful. Already at three weeks Raven was having a hard time keeping up with nursing and we began to feed them solid food.

When they were three weeks old I posted this photo on Kijiji, and the response was swift. Our email went crazy, and our phone rang off the hook! They all had forever homes to go to within one day.

Millarville Pet portraits

The past three weeks with these little pups has been quite busy, to say the least. They require at least five feedings per day, and Josh and I spend at least two hours a day in the feeding, cleaning up, and moving them from indoors to outdoors, and back again at night.

Like all children they love to come outside to play. They are hyper and cooped up on the rainy days. At least we no longer have to carry each one in our arms when it is time to go outside. They happily follow us out to their kennel.

Brodie and David have had a great time with the pups. Our kids have had many awesome related experiences including Brodie learning carpentry, by helping to build Raven’s doghouse, Brodie writing a story for our Millarville Fair of his experiences with the puppies, and winning first place for his story, and bringing the puppies to school for show and tell.

Millarville Pet portraits

The professional photographer in me wanted to take all kinds of fabulous perfect portraits of these puppies, but alas I think lifestyle portraits will the best I can do between the five feedings a day and hours of cleanup. Not to mention the days of bad weather like today, when the puppies are kept indoors.

Between making them scrambled eggs and milk, tins of dog food, and the whole lot of them rushing your feet, and chewing your shoes and pants, as you attempt to feed them, they can be difficult little subjects.

They are either dirty from eating, running around like maniacs, or a black mass when in their sleep pile.

When the weather clears, I’ll see what else I can accomplish for puppy portraits. Until then I hope all you puppy lovers out there will enjoy these.


Puppy pictures

Puppy Pictures Puppy Portraits _DSC6249

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Baby K Turns 1-Learning to Walk, Learning to Drive, and an Attempted Cake Smash

On Sunday we had Baby K’s 1 year portrait session, at his family’s home in Millarville. This was his final session in his year long Watch Me Grow series of portraits.  Our early morning session saw him full of smiles and good humour for a whole hour, with hardly a fuss. He’s becoming quite a little character. It’s so much fun to see the developing personality of a year old baby.

We started with family portraits. I discovered how silly pretend fart noises can really make kids laugh, and get even a babies attention.

We just had to capture Baby K being swung around in the air by his Dad. A tricky shot to get, as we attempted different angles, but definitely a wonderful family moment!

Then Baby K and Big Sister S checked out their new BMW, that their Dad won at a charitable silent auction. Baby K is really enjoying his new ride! A 1 year old learning to drive already:)

Baby K’s mom had planned a cake smash for the main feature of his portrait session. Big Sister S was very excited about her brother’s cupcake, apparently more than he was. After a few set up shots, we prepared for the cake smashing mayhem. But Baby K doesn’t seem to have a sweet tooth ( first time I’ve ever met a child that wasn’t interested in cake) we kept waiting for him to get messy, and start shovelling in cake, but he never did. No matter how many times dad put icing on his lips, he just wasn’t interested. What he did want to play with, and suck on, was his candle. He dipped his candle in the icing a few times, but that was the extend of the attempted cake smash. When it became apparent that it wasn’t  going to happen, the whole family gathered round, and helped Baby K eat his cake. It made for a great candid family portrait, and most importantly, the cupcake was not wasted!

What I enjoyed the most, was capturing some candid, lifestyle portraits of Baby K learning to walk. I just love watching the expressions of determination, concentration, and then joy on a babies face as they learn to master this life skill. And his little fingers holding onto his Dad for support – love!

I’ve truly enjoyed capturing portraits this year for Baby K’s family. It’s been an honour to be welcomed in their home, to spend so many happy moments, capturing so many milestones for their little man. Baby K’s mom is so creative, and was so much fun to work with, as we developed an idea, and theme for each shoot.

Their family will have a beautiful keepsake album that they can treasure, and look back at for many years to come. I can just imagine the album coming out many years from now at Baby K’s wedding…….;)

Best wishes Baby K and family.

Millarville Family Portraits Millarville candid baby portraits Millarville candid kids portraits

Baby 1 year portrait Millarville cake smash baby cake smash cake smash portraits baby learning to walkMillarville baby portraits


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Yvonne and Martin’s Wedding Celebration {Canmore, AB}

Joyous, hilarious, and true to life. Living each moment, feeling each emotion of the day deeply. That is how I would describe Yvonne and Martin’s Wedding celebrations this past Thursday. They are such a great couple, you can’t help but love them. I truly enjoyed capturing their special day, along with all their family and close friends.

Their small, intimate wedding was held at the Iron Goat Pub and Grill in Canmore, AB. This rustic, charming, luxurious venue, was the perfect place for guests to relax, enjoy a quiet drink, and catch up with family and friends not seen in a long time, while the attentive, hospitable staff took care of each guest’s needs. With a fabulous view of the Three Sisters mountains as our backdrop, we took in the breathtaking views, and relaxed in this world class destination.

Yvonne and Martin’s long distance love story spans the Atlantic, with Martin being from the United Kingdom, Yvonne from Canada. The cultural differences, and idiosyncrasies from each country were good for a few laughs, as slang words, sayings, and references from each country were compared.

But all joking aside, it hasn’t been easy for these two very much in love people to have spent so much time apart during their relationship. Their beautiful, emotive, at moments entertaining, personally written vows, made it clear to all of us present, how devoted they are to each other, and their determination to not let the distance of the Atlantic, or demanding jobs, get in the way of their love.

Canmore Wedding Canmore Wedding

ron Goat Canmore Wedding

After their ceremony, we moved into their celebrations of the day, and taking portraits. As I worked to capture their Wedding Portraits I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. When we slipped away from guests briefly, any moment in each other’s presence was filled with stolen moments of tenderness, romance, and confessions of their undying love. I tried to work as quietly as possible, letting them be natural, and enjoy their moments together.

ron Goat Canmore Wedding ron Goat Canmore Wedding ron Goat Canmore Wedding

In between stolen moments together, Yvonne and Martin also made plenty of time for their children, and their nieces and nephews, making sure all the kids felt loved, special, and a big part of their day.

ron Goat Canmore Wedding

The lively humour of this pair filled the day with laughter. Their sparkling hilarity is bound to ensure their marriage is full of fun, and zest.

Wedding Portraits at the Iron Goat, Canmore, AB

Canmore Wedding Canmore Wedding

But as much as they love a good joke and a laugh, they are willing to embrace, and feel all their raw emotions, including sadness, and loss, as Yvonne and her family grieved for her father who is no longer with us, unable to share in this happy day. In a very heartfelt moment, Yvonne’s uncle stepped up in his place to give her the father-daughter dance.

Canmore Wedding

It was truly an honour to be part of this day. And nice for me also, to reconnect with friends from our hometown now seen in a very long time.

I wish you both the very best, a lifetime of joy and happiness!


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Hike at Curley Sands-Mesa Butte Provincial Park-Kananaskis Country

On Sunday, at Brodie’s suggestion, and because it was on our summer bucket list, our family went for a hike in K-country.

We’ve lived here for eight years, and have not explored very many hiking trails, or the back country, literally out our backdoor, so it’s high time for us to start taking in some of these hikes.

We definitely want to climb Square Butte (Mesa Butte), the namesake of our community and area. But we’ll need to work up to it, so our hike around Curley Sands was a good place to start, to condition our youngest David, so hopefully he can handle the bigger hike later this summer.

The day was cool, which was nice, and the breeze kept the bugs at bay. As we climbed, with an elevation gain of 500 ft, we enjoyed all the beautiful sights of forest, meadow, hills, and valleys. We saw a family of grouse, which was really neat to see, as they flushed up from the forest floor. The brilliant blue of a  Robin’s eggshell marked the spot on the trail where David had to stop and leave his stick collection behind, as he could no longer carry all of them.

I loved all the wildflowers in such abundance and variety, that greeted us at every turn on the trail. I’ve been in love with wildflowers ever since I was a little girl. I study them endlessly, pouring over books to learn the names and qualities,of each one.

The riot of colour popping out from the meadows had my shutter finger going off constantly. When we stopped for a picnic, Brodie took an interest in photography (much to my delight) and captured a few wildflower images of his own!

Three Flowered Avens wildflower

Three Flowered Avens reminds me of Troll dolls.

Wild Bergamot wildflower

The lovely purple Wild Bergamot.

Wild Bumblebee on Northern Crane's-Bill

I love this Wild Bumblebee on Northern Crane’s-Bill. It’s wings are moving so fast, they are blurred in this shot.

Fleabane wildflower


Blanketflower wildflowers

I think everyone loves the sunny yellow Blanketflower! You can’t resist them.

Paintbrush wildflowers

The vibrant reds of the Paintbrush wildflowers popped out at us from everywhere.

Hiking Curley Sands trail K-country

My men, checking out a butterfly.

Wood Lily wildfower

Stunning Wood Lilies rose from the forest floor.

views from Curley Sands trail K-country

Views from Curley Sands Trail.


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Spectacular Fireworks at the Calgary Canada Day Celebrations

Last nights’ fireworks show at the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary was truly awesome. For us small town, born and raised people it was the best we’ve ever seen. For our kids, it was the first fireworks show they’d ever seen. An epic experience for them, that will be hard to match.

Growing up, I remember watching events like this on TV, and wishing I could just once be there for the fun. And yet, my husband and I, often shy away from crowded events in the city, knowing all the situations and eventualities that must be braved. But our oldest son, Brodie, really wanted to see fireworks in the city, and have a train ride. So we braved it for him, to give him a Canada Day he’ll never forget.

And it was, for all of us.

The city in the summer is so alive and electric. We enjoyed the people watching, and all the sights and sounds. Buskers, food vendors, and our favourite was the guy covered in silver paint and clothing, who looked like a statue riding by on a skateboard.

We don’t come downtown very often, so I attempted to do a bit of architecture photography. I’d never been up close to the Bow Building. It is quite a marvel. And the sculpture in front was fun to hang off of.

Bow Building Calgary

Bow Building Calgary

The kids had fun playing glow stick swords, and eating ice cream while we sat in the grass and waited for the show to start.

I’m sure my images don’t do justice to how amazing these fireworks actually were. I loved how the fire, as it descended from the sky, seemed like magic, like you could reach up and touch it.

CanadaDay-123 CanadaDay-124 CanadaDay-153 Calgary Canada Day Fireworks

Afterward, getting out of the city centre proved to be quite a challenge, as the throngs of Canada Day revellers all pushed and scrambled to take the C-Train home, or to the next party. Our poor little dears were exhausted, and fading fast, as we wondered if would ever get back to our vehicle at the edge of town. Crammed trains, stalled trains, as some issue was sorted out, and then finally a kind police officer took us under his wing, and promised us he’d get us on the next (and last) train. He ushered us along the platform, and gave us some useful train riding tips that every savvy family must know (that we country people did not know). Don’t wait at the end of the platform with all the partiers- go the middle, where the other families are waiting. Then-go for the middle car (not the end car). It worked! We got on, and finally on our way! (Much to our relief).

Our experiences at the end of the day proved us right on why we seldom brave the city and crowds with our young children. And yet, even though they were exhausted, the boys both agreed it was worth the effort and ordeal to see such an epic fireworks display-“the awesomest ever!”

Calgary Canada Day Fireworks


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Grad Portraits for the Lovely Grads of Holy Trinity Academy {Okotoks, AB}

Yesterday I had the privilege of capturing Grad Portraits for some of the lovely ladies graduating Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks. These lovely girls braved the scorching heat to give me a few minutes of their time, on what was clearly a very exciting day. I’m so glad each of them was able to spare a few moments in between hairstyling, make-up, and several stops to show off their dazzling dresses.

I started with my friends’ daughter, Kristen, at the Okotoks Public Library. The library grounds offered us some much needed shade beneath the canopy of trees, as we captured a variety of Grad Portraits of Kristen (who was quite warm in her dress, but she happily obliged her mother and I.)

Working in such a public location offered a few challenges, such as the group of young boys who were taking in our session, and no doubt checking out Kristen in all her finery (she was a bit self conscious, and glad when they finally left us;)

Okotoks Grad Portraits

Perhaps the bubbles can represent all the many dreams and opportunities Kristen will strive for, now that she will go on to the next chapter of her life.

Okotoks Grad Portraits

We loved how the colour of the flowers matched Kristen’s dress.

Okotoks Grad Portraits

No portrait session at the Okotoks Public Library is complete without a portrait on the footbridge.

Okotoks Grad Portraits

We then went to the home of one of Kristen’s friends’, to meet up with the rest of her party. I was able to capture a few group portraits, and a few individual portraits of each girl, to showcase their lovely Prom Dresses, and celebrate their momentous achievement.

Okotoks Grad Group Portraits

This was a challenging opportunity to put my skills to the test, as I spent no more than 3 minutes with each girl.

Kaelyn has the most beautiful eyes.

Okotoks Prom Portraits

I love the celebration of heritage, culture, and her roots that this stunning girl choose to showcase in her brilliant prom attire.

Okotoks Grad Portraits

I love this demure, classic beauty, whose look brings us back to the timeless style of the 1940’s. But if her gorgeous style wasn’t enough, we were all completely blown away by the fact that she made her dress herself!! What talent! Absolutely amazing! Check out all the lace details, and the train! I hope your talent, creativity, and style will take you far!

Okotoks Prom Portraits

This lovely gal had the most beautiful hair!

Okotoks Grad Portraits

At last their Limo arrived to take them to their banquet in Calgary!

Okotoks Grads Candid Portraits Okotoks Grads Candid Portraits

Thank you for letting me share your day! My very best wishes to all you lovely Holy Trinity Grads! Best of luck as you pursue your goals and dreams!


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Epic Swarm Catch near Longview, AB

Last night was truly memorable. And although It wasn’t technically a swarm catch, it was definitely an experience. The actual swarm had happened a few days earlier, and had found a home in an old abandoned schoolhouse building. We believe it was the old Hartell Schoolhouse, located a few kilometres North of Longview.

A local family had recently moved onto the property, and their house was only a few feet away from the old schoolhouse, so they were concerned about a whole nest of bees living in such close proximity to their home. So they called us to see if we’d be willing to try and remove the bees from their nest inside the wall.

After a bit of discussion, Josh decided to give it a try. The family agreed that it would be ok for Josh to remove a bit of the drywall inside the building to get at the bees. From the location of the hole on the outside of the schoolhouse, Josh hoped he’d be able to easily find their location inside the wall.

After a bit of Gyproc was removed, it was clear that the bees were exactly where we hoped they’d be. And what a lot of bees there were. A massive colony had stared a new home in the wall. 10,000+ bees make quite a loud buzzing noise, and were a bit annoyed at being removed from their nest. A bit of smoke calmed them a bit, and their removal, and relocation into a new hive box went surprisingly well.

collecting a bee swarm

It became apparent that this location had been inhabited by a large colony of bees before. There was abundant old brood comb from several years before, but not much honey to speak of, indicating that this was a new swarm that had moved in.

At one point while Josh was very busy removing bees and comb, and had a large chunk full of bees in his hand, the ladder slipped, and he dropped a few feet to the ledge below. Luckily Josh wasn’t hurt, and the bees survived alright too.

A stray dustpan was a good find, to help remove the bees from the wall. Our new friends were very brave, and excited to take part in all the bee collecting action. I believe they each were stung once, but survived it quite well. Surprisingly, Josh and I were not stung at all. Josh thought the bees were behaving quite well, despite the ordeal. He thought they were likely tired from their recent swarm flight, and hadn’t had too much to eat in the past few days.

beekeeper collecting a swarm checking for the queen bee removing honeybees from an abandoned schoolhouse removing honeybees from an abandoned schoolhouse bees on brood comb

While we adults were busy collecting bees from the schoolhouse, our children made fast friends. Brodie and David were so excited to have two new playmates, and enjoyed exploring  around their home with them. The feeling was mutual. It was so much fun watching the children play together, as if they were old friends. It reminded me so much of my own childhood, when an impromptu outing became spontaneous, and enchanting, the fun of the evening feeling like it will go on forever.

Longview candid kids photography Candid children's portraits candid children's photography candid children's photography

We let the bees settle down for a bit, as we all enjoyed a visit. It was a lovely evening.

After the bees had settled, Josh took them outside, so they would not try to go back into the wall. In the better light he searched for the queen. It didn’t take too long, before she was found. Wonderful news! We now get to add an entire hive worth of bees to our apiary.

beekeeper looking for the queen


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