Rheya Lee's Science Project

A couple of months ago, my 6 year old daughter entered her first science fair project.

The purpose of her experiment was to determine which kind of flour makes the best gluten free chocolate chip cookie.

So with the help of mom, the recipes were manifested, the ingredients gathered, and the baking began.

Game on!

 

Rheya really likes the chocolate part

First batch complete!

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And now we wait while they bake

She thought that cookie #4 looked too similar to poop.  So we found her little note placed on the tray.

"Brown cookie I will not eat"

The cookies were scored on color, feel, appearance, taste, and texture

And now the blind taste test!

Yeah, she didn't like that one

And the winner is cookie # 2!

Dean & Rita ELOPED!

They did it. 

They quietly slipped away from their lives in Mississippi and headed to the high country of Northern Colorado for a quiet and intimate wedding. Just the two of them. That's all they needed. 

And Ge Moore and her crew at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch helped make their dream come true. 

After a short time of grabbing some fun shots of them, they saddled up and headed up the mountain to a beautiful overlook. 

They were married on horseback. 

It was a simple but awesome wedding and I am honored to have been a cog in the wheel to help make it a reality for them. 



Amy & Justin

This past summer, I hiked the 4 Pass Loop trail near Aspen, CO with Shannon (my wife's cousin) and two of her friends, Amy & Justin. 

Amy & Justin are two people that you can just tell when you meet them, just how perfect they are for one another. Like peanut butter & chocolate. Cookies & milk. Cheeseburger and fries! (inside joke). You get the idea. 

I thoroughly enjoyed our hike. Great views and great company. 

Not long after the hike, I heard that Justin had popped the question. This came as no surprise to me and I was really happy for both of them.

Then Amy reached out to me and asked me if I'd shoot their wedding. Heck yeah I will!

They were married at the Red Rocks Open Space near the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Gorgeous area. 

Their wedding was performed with their faith in God as the core and foundation of the new life they were starting together. 

And so it begins - a new trail to be explored...

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Happy Trails you two!!

Tara & Jason

Tara and Jason tied their knot at Della Terra in Estes Park. 

It was a beautiful day for a beautiful wedding for two really fun people. 

My wife, Janie Rocek, contributed quite a bit to this wedding. She did the hair and makeup for the girls, the event design, and styling, and she was also my 2nd shooter. Yeah, my wife just flat out rocks!

Ok, back to the story...

So as I mentioned, Tara and Jason are two really cool people. They were a blast to be with as well as their family and friends. This was a fun wedding!

And Della Terra is a venue that is just a knockout. It's above Estes Park and is right next to the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, when I arrived, before I even got out of my Xterra, I had the pleasure of quietly observing a family of Big Horn Sheep.  

We watched each other for a short bit and then it was time for me to get to it!

 

Thank you Tara and Jason for letting us contribute to your wedding day!

 

Roll the credits.....

 

Venue - Della Terra Mountain Chateau

Hair and makeup - Janie Rocek

Event design & styling - Janie Rocek

Flowers - Lace and Lilies

DJ - Elite DJ/MC Production

Catering - A Spice of Life

 

Recharging the soul

Earlier this year, my wife's cousin, Shannon, invited me to do some backpacking with her and some of her friends up in the beautiful back country mountains of Colorado.

When I lived in Texas, I used to dream about doing treks like this. And even though I've lived here in Colorado for the last 11 years, I still haven't made time for it. 

But last week I did. 

Shannon, Amy, and Justin and I headed out to Aspen, CO Wednesday night with the Four Pass Loop in our sights. 

Located in the Maroon Bells / Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen, CO, the 26+ mile trail (beginning elevation 9,580') is routed over four mountain passes, each over 12,000 feet in elevation.

  • West Maroon Pass
  • Frigid Air Pass
  • Trail Rider Pass
  • Buckskin Pass

Here's a view of our route, and where we started

Below will give you an idea as to how steep the ascents and decents were

 

This hike was was rated as one of the "Best Hikes Ever" by Backpacker Magazine, and now I know why!

Oh my gosh this hike was gorgeous. 

My pack weighed around 40+/- lbs. It wasn't bad. But I felt the results of wearing it at the end of the day. 

My main struggle was breathing! The air is thin enough at the starting point. Then you just keep hiking UP with the added weight on your back minus the oxygen. 

It was challenging. But once I learned to control the rhythm of my breathing, it was much more doable.  

Shannon, Amy, and Justin were great to hike with. And in doing so, I now feel closer to all of them. Funny how just doing something as simples as going for a hike can bring people closer. 

Day 1
The ascent to our first campsite

 

One of the many marmots we saw along our way

 

A quick group selfie in front of the most photographed mountain peaks in Colorado,

the Maroon Bells

 

And here we go!

Our first stop, Crater Lake

Justin Jumping in to help Amy across

Taking a few minutes to recharge

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Our state flower, the Columbine

We had a porcupine wander through our camp this night. It was a big 'ol prickly thing that showed no fear. Why would it? Nobody wants to mess with them. We did get a little too close for it's comfort and it looked like it was preparing to take some counter action with its quills. We respected its need for space and left it alone. It was too dark to get a decent picture of it to share. But just think of a huge pin cushion with legs that makes strange squeaky sounds as it walks. 

Day 2

The next morning, we packed up camp and headed out to tackle two passes in one day,

West Maroon Pass and Frigid Air Pass
 

 

Atop our first pass

West Maroon Pass
Elevation 12,500 feet 

At the summit of the second pass

Frigid Air
Elevation 12,415 feet

And back down into another valley we go in search of our next campsite

We were very fortunate to find this campsite nestled off the trail next to a small waterfall. 

We were feeling pretty sore by the time we got here and were really looking forward to relaxing and recharging for the next morning. Soon after we got our camp set up, a rolling thunderstorm came through. We took to our tents and it was the perfect background music for us to drift away to for a late afternoon nap.

We were some happy campers!

 

Day 3

We packed up our camp again and headed out down lower into the valley basin before we started our climb back out. It was like starting over from scratch. 

Towards the end of this day it was decided that we all had one common want;  a cheeseburger and fries. This became our motivation on our last couple of days.  

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On our way up to Trail Rider Pass, we stopped for a quick photo op

Going clockwise: Me, Shannon, Justin, and Amy

Looking down on Snowmass Lake from the top

Trail Rider Pass
Elevation 12,420 feet

Aside from the mass of mosquitos that were constantly attacking us, we found another great place to camp on the side of the mountain. We even had a white tailed deer stroll leisurely through our camp. We acknowledged each other and she casually strolled on. 

Day 4

Our last day.

Amy and Justin arrive at the top of our last pass!

Buckskin Pass
Elevation 12,500 feet

Now let's go get that cheeseburger!

This trip was some very much needed internal therapy for me. 

We all get caught up in the everyday cycle of life. Work, chores, paying bills, etc

And although those are necessary parts to life, they're not what life is all about. 

Remember to make time to do things that feed and recharge your soul. 

The only thing missing on this trip for me was my wife, Janie. I wished she could have been with me to experience this. 

The next one!

 

 

 

 

 

Jayden is here!

On Friday, May 2nd, Karen's water broke, a month early

She was admitted to MCR Hospital in Loveland, CO

Medical staff explain to her that the contractions are causing the baby's heart rate to drop

Karen's sister Janie (my wife) and Karen's husband, Brian, sit by her beside

Karen reads positive affirmations of faith over their unborn baby

A nurse make some adjustments to the equipment that is monitoring the vitals of both Karen and the baby

The baby's heart rate continues to drop with each contraction

After some discussion, it's decided that the baby is in danger and an emergency ceserean is ordered.

Shortly thereafter, Karen is taken into surgery

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10 minutes later, Jayden was brought safely into the world

Because the umbilicle cord was wrapped around Jayden's neck and body, he was having trouble breathing on his own

He bounced back and began breathing normally shortly after birth

Karen gets her first look at Jayden

Brian comforts Karen while she's in recovery

A new chapter begins!

Mechelle & Dean

Mechelle and Dean knew very early on that they were right for each other. That they were riding in the same direction, and on the same path. 

They went on their first date to the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highlands Festival in Estes Park. So their first date was filled with an experience rich with culture and music. 

Music that would come full circle for both of them :) 

And before long, they were inseparable.

Their wedding was held in Loveland at the Foot Lagoon. They were surrounded by family and friends as they vowed their commitments to one another. 

My wife, Janie, who was also one of the bride's maids, did the bride's and the other bride's maids hair and makeup. And as always, she cranked out some fabulous work. 

This wedding definitely did not fall into the "traditional" category. 

It was filled with Harleys, Scottish bagpipes, Irish drums, an electric violin and cello, gun slinging gate keepers, and an officiate that is a lead singer for The Blues Dogs, a local blues band.

This was one for the books!

Showering Karen

A little over a week ago, my wife Janie and our daughter, Rheya, had a very full weekend.

A weekend of baby showers. 3 in fact. And one of them I photographed.

Janie, planned and designed most of this one, because Karen is family :)

Karen and Brian, and their 6 year old son, are expecting a new member to the family very soon.  We will be looking forward personally welcoming the new little one to the world  in early June!

Florist: Hanna Style Designs

Cake: Cindy Rocek

Desserts: Shannon Trafton

Hand made bow ties: Kyle Anne Lucks

Styling, design, and artwork: Janie Rocek

 

 

 

40 Years Later

All weddings are special times. All weddings are important events for families.

And sometimes, weddings are long overdue.

In August of 2012, I drove to Carlsbad, NM to shoot a wedding.

But this wedding wasn’t just a “typical” wedding. Reason being is that this couple was already married, with kids and grandkids.

Ya see, 40 years ago, they got married, but at that time, they weren’t in a position to have a wedding that included everything they wanted.

And now it’s time to have the wedding they always wanted.

How cool would it be for you to be able to attend your parents wedding or your grandparents wedding? That’s what helped make this one so special.

Photo albums full of their family's history

Janie got started on doing some hair and makeup on Pam soon after we arrived

In the meantime, the guys were out back, catching up over a beer

My 'lil Ms Rheya Sunshine

And Karen keeps us all smiling

Rheya and Xander sizing each other up

Later that day, Xander got to to suit up!

And IT suited HIM!

Following the wedding rehearsal, a moment of family in prayer

That night, everyone pitched in on making the decorations for the next day

Then it was time for a little fun!

The Big Day

The guys get to constructing the backdrop for the photos that will be on display at the wedding reception

Janie working her magic

Such a ham!

I love this picture.

Rheya was “not” happy about having her hair done. She wanted to PLAY!

I’m so rarely on this side of the camera. This one was worth it. Janie and I wanted a picture of us together

SHOWTIME!

Pam was surprised with her dad’s photo being placed on her bouquet

I love this family.

I was really honored to be able to have been there to be a part of this.

THANK YOU!!

A little surprise for Shannon

Janie has 2 other sisters, and "technically", Shannon is her cousin. 

But "really" she's Janie's 3rd sister. 

Shannon was Janie's MOH (Maid of Honor) at our wedding. She really stepped up to the plate and not only filled the role, but she friggin' OWNED it. She spearheaded our "Battle of the sexes" paint war, she was instrumental in her "position" as MOH, and she was simply invaluable to Janie on our wedding day. She took being the Maid of Honor very seriously and did a tremendous job. 

So now Shannon had this birthday coming up and Janie wanted to plan something special and she went at the task with guns a blazing. 

She planned this out for months, designing the details, the artwork, painting a couple of my backdrops, etc. She really poured herself into it. 

She found The Studio in Denver and made the arrangements to have the surprise party there. 

So on the day of celebration, Janie and I drove down to Denver and Janie got setup in a hotel suite to do her hair and makeup while I was out of sight in another hotel room. 

The day before, Karen (Janie's sister) had driven down to where Shannon works while she was away and put this on her desk...

(Karen wrote the poem)

And so she did..


And Shannon was driven from Colorado Springs to Denver, blind folded while her "captors" kept quiet. 

They brought her to Janie and the blindfold was removed.

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And Janie sat her down and took care of her hair and makeup. 

Now, Shannon was all ready for the night, even though she didn't know what was in store for her

 

When she was done, Lindsey and Amy (her "captors") took her away and off to dinner. In the meantime, Janie and I drove to The Studio and started setting up for the party. 

She setup the decorations with the help of family and friends, and I setup a studio to take pictures and got ready to shoot the night. 

When we were ready, Shannon was brought to the site blindfolded and was walked to where her family and friends were waiting for her, to give her a warm and welcome SURPRISE!

AND THE PARTY WAS ON!

Janie removed the labels and washed all of the bottles and filled them with her own cocktails with hand made drink tags

Karen, my sister-in-law, made the food. I can still taste these cookies. They just melted in your mouth.

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Cindy, Janie's mom, makes the most fantastic cakes. Well, pretty much everything she makes is great. But she IS famous for her cakes. 

Our daughter, Rheya Lee, decorated some bricks used to hold up a sign. Aren't these cool?!

Our daughter, Rheya Lee, decorated some bricks used to hold up a sign. Aren't these cool?!

Now I want you to pay attention to this one. This is just an example of how creative Janie is. The bottle is wrapped with pages from the Bible. And the purple and green flowers are made out shipping / packing peanuts. 

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Janie prepping the doorway for Shannon to break through

The crowd waiting patiently

And then the moment arrived, and Shannon burst through the doorway.

Ok, Lindsey kinda helped (shoved) her through

Yep, that's a pillar in front of you Shannon. Put on the BRAKES!

"Oh, HEYYY!"

Ya think?  :)

One of these 3 is not like the other..

Disclaimer: Karen, Janie's sister, was NOT drinking alcohol. Just a prop for the photo :)

Bass Elements were onsite to crank up the tunes and kept the party going strong all night!

 Lindsey showing off her wicked dance moves

I know that technically, this is not a good photo because of the back focusing that occurred. 

But I couldn't resist sharing this one because our good friend Monica here, who on her worst day is nothing less that graceful, got reintroduced to gravity and the floor. 

It's awesome that everyone is just standing their laughing at her rather than trying to catch her!

My wife Janie ripping it up on the dance floor

Shannon is having so much fun, and almost everyone around her is pretty much oblivious to what just happened in front of them

Love this one!

Yah, great party for sure. 

Thanks for being born Shannon :)

 

Rheya Lee is 5!

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Rheya Lee turned 5 a few months ago. I look at her and can see the beautiful girl that she's growing in to.

We were going to do an outdoor portrait like last year, but Janie had another idea, which turned out really cool and a lot more fun.

The clean up afterwards, well....

 

She loves to get dolled up!

She loves to get dolled up!

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I set the camera down to make some adjustments to her scarf and Janie picked up my camera and took this.

I LOVE the look on her face

(proud daddy here)

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No children were harmed during the making of this pillow fight

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The clean up was a chore for sure

Totally worth it

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Our honeymoon in Hawaii

My wife and I had a wonderful honeymoon in Hawaii. It went by so fast and we had so much fun.

We went explored the island of Oahu.

Between camping on the beach, snorkeling, hiking, our attempts at surfing, it was a time together we won't ever forget.

Stunning views and rich with culture, our first exposure o Hawaii has left us longing for more. We can't wait to go back!

Hanauma Bay - where we went snorkeling

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Janie making that beach look good!

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Good morning Hawaii!

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Getting recharged on the East Coast of Oahu

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Our campsite for a couple of days

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Janie enjoying some much needed R&R in our awesome hammock!

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Some locals saying good morning to Janie

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Yeah, this is how ya save some money in Hawaii!

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The view from our hotel in Waikiki

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Our legs are still hurting from this hike

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Looking down from the top of Koko Head Mountain to Hanauma Bay

Jordan

Jordan, a girl with a strong spirit, brains, and striking senior from Western PA, and also my wife's niece, came to visit this past August, and so a senior portrait of her was definitely on the agenda. Janie, (my wife) took care of the hair, makeup, wardrobe, and styling for Jordan. With Janie's mad skills, Jordan's obvious talent for the camera, and my shooting and editing, we made a pretty good trio and cranked out some great images of Jordan.

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A battle of the sexes

A couple of days before Janie and I got married, her Maid of Honor, Shannon, created a paint war in the park for us. The concept was for the brides maids to come in old brides maid's dresses while the fellas showed up wearing groomsmen outfits. We tried to look as "unique" as possible before the battle.

Janie and I had to run to adjacent nearby trees and dress up in an outfit while our team mates protected us from getting attacked with paint, and at the same time, trying to attack the other team.

Us guys did great! Ok, not as great as the girls did. We were out numbered like 3 or 4 to one, and those girls are some pretty good adversaries!

NOTE:  I didn't take any of these photos. I couldn't because I was in the battle!

Carolyn Trafton took the photos and she did an amazing job!

Janie just before the battle

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Brian came as a pimp apparently

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Little Ms Rheya, she just can't help herself. She's such a ham for the camera!

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Janie and Shannon

Karen, one of Janie's sisters is also hamming it up

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Two of my team mates and me

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Jeremy sporting his "new" sports coat and duds

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Jim taking video on his iPad

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Pretty sure that's Janie's "Bring it" face

The girls were ramped up and ready

(especially Karen on the far right) - It's a game Karen! Just a game!!!

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I love Monica's face here as they charge the guys

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Good form!

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Karen's attacking a child from behind while Brian looks on wondering what just happened to him

Brian getting pummeled with paint

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OK, so I have to explain these next 3 shots..

Janie was playing bare footed when all of sudden she stepped in something.

It was wet, slimy, and still warm, and it comes out of a dog.

Yes, that's right.

RIGHT BETWEEN THE TOES

Her reaction is absolutely priceless!!!!

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I can't quit laughing!!!!!

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On the other side of the battle lines, I'm under attack

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Katie must think it's funny or something

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What?! That' all you got??!!

Ok, so the girls were victorious

and I'm not sure how little Sami below didn't get anything on her.

Must be that warrior yell that scared us guys off

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Janie and her MOH are pretty happy with themselves!

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Janie, Rheya, and me

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My good friend Robert. We grew up together in TX. He came a long way to be a part of this week. 

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Afterwards, we all went out to the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant for margaritas, still covered with war paint and in these clothes.

We were a very loud and colorful group for sure.

Two days later..well....

TO BE CONTINUED

:)

Source: http://www.marcusedwardsphoto.com/blog/a-b...

John & Elle

John & Elle have come a long way. Both as a couple and also in the miles traveled to commit the rest of their lives to one another.

They live in beautiful Telluride, CO. Have you ever been to Telluride? I LOVE that area.  If you've never been there, try to go in the fall. Holy Moly it's beautiful there.

Together they have a bouncing baby boy who was there and had the honor to witness his parents marriage. - How cool is that??

The 3 of them made the journey to Loveland and got married at the historic McCreery House. Linda Stotz (a friend of mine and owner of the McCreery House) is Elle's aunt. So this was a real treat for them both.

Friends and family also made the trek to Loveland to support this couple as they said "I do".

My fiancee, hair and makeup artist, Janie Rocek, did the girls hair and make up and then afterwards grabbed one of my cameras and assisted me shooting this wedding. We had a lot of fun with this family and their friends.

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John and Elle - THANK YOU for letting us be a part of your wedding!