Tag Archives: kids

Camping with Kids at Pearl Lake State Park, Colorado

Camping with kids, Colorado

Each summer as a kid, I could always count on at least one family camping trip to Pearl Lake State Park north of Steamboat Springs. It would usually be the highlight of my summer break. Deep in the woods where the cranes call at dusk and dawn —and the only thing that could wake you up at night was the call of a great horned owl — I found my family at its happiest. Dad could fish as much as he wanted, Ben could capture crawdads all day, Mom could look for birds or identify wildflowers, and I could venture off down the sawgrass-laden shore and play pretend.

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Introducing Lamorra Sage Day

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It’s been three months since our second daughter was born. On January 27, Lamorra Sage Day and her fiery red hair arrived in a hurry. We got to the hospital with plenty of time, and at first, things progressed smoothly — dare I say, normally. The nurses even dismissed me to grab dinner from the cafeteria — “we’ll need you to be in top form, so fill your stomach”  they said. “There’s plenty of time.”

I was at the cash register buying a couple of bananas when my phone started to ring. At the top of the elevator, a nurse was waiting for me. “You need to run,” is all she said. In the delivery room, I washed my hands, took Hailey’s palm, and the doctor immediately said to me “OK, Dad, are you ready to announce the gender?”

What? Hailey was in active labor for 15 minutes. I was there for the final three.

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Headwaters Content

Kevin Day (Principle/Content Strategist; Headwaters Content) and Hailey Day (President/Digital Artist; HeyDay Creative)

You should never start a blog post with an apology for not posting recently. It’s just bad form, and truthfully, who reads this blog regularly anyway? Even if you did, you’d notice that I haven’t posted anything — anything — since January.

But I feel the long absence is worth noting, if for no other reason than the major personal changes I’ve undergone since my last post.

I’ve started my own company.

Not a hobby company. Not a dabble-in-it-and-see-if-it-fits company.

A livelihood. A bona fide “wow, this is what I ought to be doing in life” company.

My business is called Headwaters Content, and its one of Denver’s first content strategy firms. What brought this about is a long and probably boring story (I think it’s interesting. You probably don’t). But needless to say, maintaining a photo blog has been a free-time activity, and since February, setting Headwaters up has been rather consuming, both from a labor-intensive and mentally fatiguing perspective.

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10 of Kauai’s Best Beaches

Footprints in the sand at Kalihiwai Beach, Kauai(Click on the images for a larger view)

So remember how a few posts ago, I said that I wasn’t much of a beach person?

Well, I’m back from Kauai, and you can consider me converted: I love beaches … if by “beaches” you mean the stunning, drop-yer-jaw, how-could-God-design-such-a-perfect-thing beaches that seem to be nestled into every corner of the Garden Isle. In fact, after visiting Kauai for eight days, it may be safe to say I’m forever spoiled. The bar will be high for any future strips of sand I encounter (sorry, Chatfield Reservoir).

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Fall Color at the Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells in fall color outside Aspen, Colorado(Click on images for a larger view)

I’ve struggled to photograph the Maroon Bells in the past. Struggled because of two things: (1) everybody has photographed them and an original angle is getting more and more rare, and (2) they perfectly face to the east and, as a result, are often 2 stops more bright than their surroundings, making an even exposure especially tricky.

A six-month-old girl plays near the Maroon Bells outside Aspen, Colorado

But then my wife took our daughter there for a day trip this past October (I was attending the Colorado Governor’s Conference on Tourism in nearby Snowmass) and she returned with a series of astonishingly original photos of the Bells. How did she overcome my two stumbling blocks?

Solution #1: visit the Maroon Bells with an adorable baby and let her eat the dirt on the shore of Maroon Lake — original photos abound — and …

Solution #2: visit in the fall when the sunlight is slanted and the exposure is more even.

The Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake in fall color outside Aspen, Colorado

Our daughter’s middle name is Autumn, and this being her first fall, well, it was especially meaningful to have the two of them join me in Snowmass for the conference. After the day’s sessions, I’d take Varenna off of Mom’s hands for a little bit, and go for a short jaunt through the aspens with her near the hotel. She’d squeal and kick with delight at being outside, at facing forward in the Baby Bjorn carrier, and at the sights and sounds and smells of the woods. She’s a Coloradan by birth, and already she is acting like one.

Enjoying the Maroon Bells in autumn, Aspen, Colorado

So when the conference ended and I had a little freedom to wander, we returned to Maroon Bells as a family and spent a few hours in the aspen glades and along the lake shore, watching a blizzard of leaves flutter over the lake as autumn had one last gasp before winter.

Close-up of the Maroon Bells outside Aspen, Colorado

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Graspin’ Aspen 2010 – Steamboat Springs

Since 2007, Hailey and I have made a special long-weekend trip in the fall to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Yep, the same Steamboat Springs that seems to grace every other post on this blog. I know. We go there a lot. However, it just keeps revealing itself to me in new ways, each time.

Each time we go there, whether its in July, the dead of winter, or even mud season at the tail end of April, this wholesome little cow-town with a massive ski resort glued to its hip seems to get more and more nuanced for us. With all due respect, I don’t think many other Colorado towns would stay fresh after so many visits.

This trip, however, had a different complexion to it, and that’s because of three ingredients: 1) our six-month-old daughter Varenna (now eight months old); 2) our good friends Tim, Lexi and their 19-month-old daughter Cora; and 3) our friend Jenny, who is expecting her first in March with her husband Matt, my best friend. This made September’s trip — dare I say it — a “family friendly adventure.” God, what a hideous cliche, but that’s the new reality. We get excited about places where our rambunctious little girl can be her most rambunctious, and playmates are an added bonus.

For the previous two falls, we’ve done this fall color trip with the Jordayzerton crew — the aforementioned folks, plus Stu and Shannon Kilzer. Unfortunately, this year, it didn’t quite work out that we could get everyone to come. Matt had a fencing tournament, and Stu and Shannon had a family emergency. Even the Lambertons had to head back early, but all was not lost. By Saturday afternoon, we did our traditional drive up Buffalo Pass to drink in the endless expanse of golden aspens that drape across the Zirkel Mountains.

We’ve had better years for color, in particular, the 2008 trip when every tree was 100% vibrant yellow, gold and red all at the same time (must have something to do with the dry spell we’ve had since July). But whatever we lacked for in this trip was made up for by our two girls, Varenna and Cora.

Their curiosity and enthusiasm for being outside was infectious. Varenna even figured out what my camera does. At one point while she was in the Baby Bjorn carrier, we ran down a road while I held the camera out and fired shots back at the two of us (third from top). She quickly picked up on how her face appeared on the camera back, which inspired only more giggles. Daddy’s little girl …

Tim and Lexi parted ways with us from Buffalo Pass, with their Saturday night of driving back to Denver in front of them. Through Monday, it was just us and Jenny, hanging out at the condo, going for walks, and letting Varenna explore things like aspen leaves with her fingers … until they ended up in her mouth. Such is travel with an infant, but if this weekend was any indication of the future — of seeking out other kids, other new parents, and laid back activities like going to the bookstore for two hours — that’s fine with me.

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At Home With Varenna


And so an amazing first two weeks at home with our little girl has come to a close. Back to work tomorrow, but the journey, the adventures, the milestones — they will only keep coming with greater regularity. I feel like I’m meeting a new Varenna everyday. A bigger, smarter, savvier little girl with each sunrise.


Two weeks ago, she was a swollen little newborn who could barely keep her eyes open. She’d claw at her cheeks and eyebrows, the sensory experience of her new life too much to handle. Tonight, while lying on my chest, she wiggled her way from my sternum to burrow her face under my armpit, as though she’d find a food source under there, the whole time making ravenous little grunts. I could hardly contain my laughter it was so cute.


Varenna looks a little like me, and she looks a little like Hailey. And yet at the same time, she looks, and acts, not at all like either of us. It’s so incredible to see the individualism of a newborn. She’s mellow, content, and yet capable of incredible assertiveness. Her eyes are blue one day, blue-gray the next, hazel the next, blue again the next. The fact that I can’t peg her personality, let alone her physical traits, down makes parenthood all the more surreal.


Since we’ve come home, we’ve had several visitors come over. Hailey’s parents have visited, and we’ve Skyped Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law in Virginia and grandmother in St. Louis. My mom and dad came by for dinner, and this Thursday, since we were feeling pretty house-bound, we took Varenna to their house in the foothills southwest of town. Four or five sets of friends have stopped by to meet her, and my brother and his family have come by, with his wife Amy spending last night at our place (what a trooper … she even helped with night duty). I thought that our wedding was the once-in-a-lifetime event where gratitude for these friends and family would be the most intense. To have that experience twice is truly a blessing.


Varenna’s room has turned into a neat little sanctuary, complete with woodsy creatures, stuffed animals and a soundtrack of birdsong that we like to play on a compact sound system. Whether Varenna the Newborn eventually becomes Varenna the Outdoorsy Girl is entirely up to her, but for now, she’s got a lot of cuddly creatures surrounding her.

I’ve set up a blog just for Varenna photos. I did it mainly for family and friends to keep tabs on her (and to keep the Tanager Blog focused on travel, portraiture and other photography). My favorite post so far has to do with the many faces of this girl.


So there you go: our little family. Hope you are all enjoying spring …

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Introducing Varenna Autumn Day


Life has changed for the better. Way better.

On Sunday, March 7, my wife gave birth to our first, a daughter, Varenna Autumn Day. Weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces, she is a big baby, and as we’re finding out — once that big baby has been delivered — big is beautiful. She’s strong, healthy, sleeps well, feeds well and just might be rolling over in the next few weeks.


Varenna has lived in anonymity for the last 9 months. She was bashful during both ultrasounds, and despite our desire to know her gender and start formulating her life story in our minds, we had to wait until her entrance to get to know her on that level. The doctor’s announcement of “she’s a girl!” was a moment of sheer elation — like a first kiss, never to be duplicated again.

Girls are a rare thing in my family. In her generation, the Days have produced three boys (my brother’s sons Andrew, Isaiah and Jeremiah); in my generation, one girl out of five. On the Reitzug side, she is the 15th in her generation, but only the fourth girl. Even the doctor predicted a boy when she realized how big she was … her entrance was the best surprise of my life.

Last Sunday was a grueling day — labor started around 5am, we checked into the hospital by 11am, and she arrived shortly before 5pm. Hailey’s parents were her first visitors at 5:45pm, followed by my brother, his wife and their boys (that’s 6-year-old Andrew holding her above) and then my parents shortly thereafter. The next thing we knew it was midnight and the parade of late-night feedings had begun. What just happened?

Big kudos to the staff at Rose Medical Center, especially the nurses in labor/delivery and post-partem. The level of care they offered to Hailey and Varenna was outstanding.

We’re home now (have been since Tuesday), and I’ll get another post up on life at home with Varenna. After that, the Tanager Blog will continue to focus on travel, portraits and the other photographic work I do. I’ll be setting up a baby blog just for her, and for the friends and family who want to see how she grows.

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Cookie Day, Christmas and My First Stab at Dog Photography


Hailey and I just returned from Richmond, Virginia, where we spent Christmas at her brother Jason’s house. There is definitely a different feel to nearly everything these days (obviously, because of the baby we’re expecting). This is particularly noticeable with the holidays. A year from now, Christmas will be very different, and it will only get better I’m sure, as we introduce our child to Santa, giving gifts, cookies, ornaments with stories behind them, and all the other traditions.

I thought I’d do a quick post on the holidays, starting with pictures Hailey took on Cookie Day. Above is her mom, Diana, and our sister-in-law Amy, enjoying a surplus of chocolate.


And here is Isaiah, our nephew, carefully decorating a gingerbread cookie, bedhead and all.

While coordinating this annual tradition, Hailey emailed my mom with the subject line “Cookie Day.” My mom noted that at first glance she thought Hailey was using a new nickname for our baby. And so, December was the month that “Xerxes” became “Cookie.”

Below is our nephew Andrew, and my personal favorite: oatmeal-craisin-and-white-chocolate-chip cookies.


I missed Cookie Day this year, but my brother was able to attend, and here he’s giving the annual reading of the Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher. This is one of my favorite books from growing up … sadly it’s out of print, but you can buy it used on Amazon for $288.


Fast forward two weeks, and we’ve arrived at Christmas morning in Richmond. We had a large group to celebrate with this year, including Hailey’s grandmother from St. Louis, her aunt and uncle from Chapel Hill, and her cousin Diana (below, wearing a Chinese paper hat we all received in our stocking) from Brooklyn.


The King/Goerner families have turned stocking stuffers into an art form. Despite the lack of children (until next Christmas at least), they all give each other cheap toys and fun games that usually entertain until noon. Here’s Jason showing off his rubber-ball-and-paddle skills (if you can call them “skills” … we all were pretty clumsy with them). Hailey and I gave out the fun noisy balloons we bought in Mexico back in April. You blow them up, let go of them, and they make a high-pitched buzzing sound as they fly around the room. Smudge — Jason and Ali’s dog — killed our balloon on it’s second flight, to howls of laughter from all.


Another King/Goerner family tradition … the Christmas Day jigsaw puzzle.


Hailey’s cousin gave us some adorable baby clothes and bibs (we’re amassing quite the haul by now), and on Sunday night, some of Ali’s family came to visit for dinner. Hailey’s mom got to play Nana for a bit with Ali’s niece, little Gracie.


OK, so I have to admit. I’m funny about dogs. Most people who know me well know that I’m … shall we say “averse” to most dogs. I like to chalk it up to the fact that I’ve been attacked by them three times in my life (twice as a toddler, and once this past year while riding my bike). But the fact is I don’t like stepping in poo and the sound of barking simply grates my nerves.

But I hereby grant a lifetime waiver to Minnie and Smudge, Jason and Ali’s incredible two dogs. They’ve done an excellent job training them, and they are the best behaved puppies I’ve ever met.

Minnie (below left) is particularly sweet. A natural lap dog who wags her tail 5,614 times a day, she’s also one tough pooch. In 2003, she was hit by a semi. She lived as a stray for another 8 or 9 months before a shelter took her in. Her back hip was so destroyed, she was about to be put down. That’s when Ali adopted her, hired a surgeon, and rehabbed her back to health. She has the slightest limp to this day, but knowing this story — and seeing that happy little tail wagging all the time — is enough to melt my cynical, dog-loathing heart.

As for Smudge? He’s the biggest optimist I’ve ever met, human, animal or otherwise. Stroll through the kitchen or by the dining room table, and there he is, on his hind legs, silently begging for food with a smile on his face (below right). His success rate is roughly 1 in 88 begs, but that doesn’t stop him. Doe eyes, dangling tongue, a paw tugging at the air … The mutt is a frickin’ comedian.


And finally, here’s a close-up of Minnie in front of the Christmas tree. The yellow spots in her fur? Yeah, that’s hair dye from when Jason dyed her burgundy and gold for a Redskins game. Let’s just say that at 4-11, even happy little Minnie is disappointed in the Redskins.


Pretty soon I’ll be posting images from a day trip we took to colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Ah yes, travel photography. Good to get back at it. Look for that soon.

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Portraits For Our Baby’s Room

Aunty Amy … married to my brother Ben and mother of Andrew, Isaiah and Jeremiah

(Click on each image for a larger view)

A few months back, I mentioned on the blog that we were working on a series of photos for our baby’s nursery. We just entered the third trimester, and we now have a crib (minus the mattress). Above the crib is a wide wall that can accommodate 10 frames at 8’x10′.

So here’s the concept: We want our child to know that they always have their family close by. So, beginning in August with Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law, we’ve been photographing them on a white backdrop. Rather than do just a headshot, we thought it would be fun if each image captured the playful, inner child of our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our nephews. On Thanksgiving Day, we completed the shoot. This post is devoted to the ones we’ve selected to frame.

Uncle Benji and Cousin Jer’

Cousin Andrew

Cousin Isaiah

Grandpa (Hailey’s father)

Nana (Hailey’s mother)

Funpa (my father)

Oma (my mother)

Uncle Jason (Hailey’s brother)

Aunty Ali (Jason’s wife, Hailey’s sister-in-law)

There are more images of Jason and Ali from a post I did in September.

What I’ve come to realize is that these images are a family heirloom, something to treasure more than any antique. At age 1 or 2, just as our son/daughter is beginning to figure these relationships out, these pics will be their guide. By the time they’ll be in high school and college, this will be a snapshot of who we were back then. Such an awesome family … we’re thankful for each person within it.

Can’t decide whether we should complete it with pictures of the two of us being playful or not. I don’t know … the kid’s going to be seeing plenty of us!

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