Friday, June 6, 2014

Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park

Posted: 06 Jun 2014 09:31 AM PDT

Paparoa National Park in the South Island of New Zealand

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Blue Mountains National Park

Posted: 06 Jun 2014 05:39 AM PDT

The best part of the park is the walk down into the rain forest from the three sisters. You were able to experience so many different waterfalls. The quiet and peacefulness of the area is enchanting.

I spent the day hiking around and almost missed the last train back to Sydney, because I lost track of time.

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The National World War II Memorial

Posted: 06 Jun 2014 04:53 AM PDT

The National World War II Memorial is a national memorial dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. Consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of small triumphal arches surrounding a plaza and fountain, it is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., on the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

It opened to the public on April 29, 2004, and was dedicated by President Bush on May 29, 2004.

The Freedom Wall is on the west side of the memorial. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In the front of the wall lies the message "Here we mark the price of freedom".

The pictures were taken May 12, 2014.

More information is at

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Bronze Star

Posted: 05 Jun 2014 11:38 PM PDT

My father, Manuel, Manny, Soodhalter being awarded the Bronze Star for his Army service on D-Day for the Invasion of Normandy Beach. He landed on Omaha Beach and was involved as an engineer in the planning of the invasion. General Gerow is also in the photograph.

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Pop Goes the Question.......

Posted: 05 Jun 2014 12:41 PM PDT

On this past Christmas morning, I got engaged. And in case my fiance is reading through any of my iReports and wondering what all my camera equipment and race cars cost, I am posting this photo of her engagment ring as the "most expensive thing I ever bought". Really, it is. I swear. Pay no attention to those car and camera receipts. Your ring really did cost wayyyyyyyy more than any of my toys............

p.s.  and in case she does find those camera and car receipts and kills me in my sleep once the life insurance is put in her name, I would just ask that my iReport fans remember me fondly through the photos that I have left here behind.......

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A trip to the airport

Posted: 05 Jun 2014 10:29 AM PDT

1961, I'm the baby in the arms of my dad. A trip to the airport to pick up visiting family was an occasion to get dressed up.

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Snorkeling in Jamaica

Posted: 05 Jun 2014 08:58 AM PDT

During a stay at a Montego Bay resort I used a digital "point and shoot" camera in a waterproof housing to capture images while snorkeling. Photos taken May 30, 2011.

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A "Luxury" But Worth Every Penny

Posted: 05 Jun 2014 07:46 AM PDT

Outside of the usual life purchases, like cars, house, furniture, trips, etc., the most expensive and well-worth "luxury item" my husband and I have ever purchased has to be our beautiful, much adored hairless Sphynx cat, Lucy Leal-Goldstein. Although, I can't really say we "own" her. She is very much the queen of the house. In many ways, she owns us.


My husband and I both love cats, but because I am severely allergic to cats, we were unable to adopt a cat with fur. Although Sphynx cats are not completely hypoallergenic, I am able to tolerate this breed very well.


Sphynx cats are one of the friendliest, most affectionate and intelligent cat breeds around. They love attention from their humans and aren't aloof like many of other cats are. They are the quintessential lap cat. A Sphynx is likely to follow you around the house and greet you and other pets and friends at the door, like a puppy would. They are a very curious and active breed that love to explore indoors and out and they enjoy being the center of attention. They are very social and loving. They like to shower their humans with lots of snuggly affection and they like to entertain them with silly tricks and antics.


Lucy has given us 13 wonderful years (and counting) of unconditional love, adventures and companionship. She is very much a beloved member of our family and we consider ourselves beyond lucky to have her in our lives. We spoil her rotten and she returns the favor.


Sure having a beautiful, exotic-looking pet is great and all, but the greatest luxury of all is being able to share our lives with her despite my cat allergy.  She is the best $2,500 we have ever spent. Worth every penny. :o)


All photos by Lulis Leal

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Posted: 05 Jun 2014 07:25 AM PDT

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, my father was only 14 years old. During his high school years, he and his school buddies desired to be a part of the war effort and believed they could make a difference. In reality, they were too young and inexperienced with life to realize what was in store for their future after they enlisted.

My father's name was Myles Robert Lee. Shortly after he started his senior year in high school, at the mere age of 17, he enlisted into the service. On October 11, 1944, he and 52 other future soldiers were on a train from Boston heading to Geneva, New York. He spent ten weeks in boot camp before being shipped over seas. He was part of the Seabees Battalion and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

My father shared many war stories with my brother and me when we were growing up in the 1960's, and one particular story still brings me chills.

My father's ship was docked along Brown Beach in Okinawa, Japan. His military job was to mechanically fix the trucks if and when they broke down, drive them to certain locations and most importantly, protect the cargo. He was responsible for a truck carrying ammunition, bombs and other explosives. During the Invasion of Okinawa in early June 1945, the Japanese planes were flying overhead and the ship was under attack. I remember my father specifically telling me he could actually see the whites of the Japanese man's eyes as he carried out his suicide mission crashing into the ship. There was massive fire surrounding the truck prior to the explosion. My father was able to drive the truck off the ship during the attack in order to protect the cargo from the fire. My father had difficulty driving off the deck with the weight of the cargo on board. He made it to shore, but the cargo shifted and he was forced to stop the truck along the beach and climb on top of the cargo in order to tighten the security straps. During the attack, a nearby crane operator was trying to take cover, but the crane snapped from its ties and was in direct line with my father's truck. The crane's hook struck my father at full force sending him air born into the water below. His fellow Seabees watched in horror as the crane catapulted my father leaving him face down in the water along the shore. The waves were splashing over him, and it is a miracle he survived. The few Seabees, who witnessed the accident from the safety of a bomb crater, believed my father died that day, but the unit listed him as "Missing in Action."

Luckily the Marine Medical Core found my father face down on the shore bleeding and unconscious. It wasn't safe to transport him to an infirmary until after the attack ended, so my father was forced to undergo surgery to stitch up his head wound right on the beach during the attack. My father's amnesia kept his identity from being known for a period of time, but thankfully, my father did survive and was able to return to the states in October 1946.

The slideshow features several pictures in Okinawa, Japan as well as a snapshot of the Japanese Surrender on September 2, 1945. My father passed away on June 22, 1995 and left a trunk full of pictures, personal letters and other memorabilia from World War II. The letters are currently being compiled into a diary from 1944 through 1946. My mother donated some of my father's uniforms, badges and other memorabilia to the Wright Museum located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

God bless all our military men and women of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We owe our freedom to their bravery and dedication to our country.

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Miniatures in the Philippines

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 10:11 PM PDT

Even after more than 20 years of diving it is still so exciting to find such small and amazingly beautiful creatures underwater, and photographing them can be a real challenge, especially with a compact camera.
I did use two strobes and a diopter but some of these things really require a professional grade camera and lens

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Easter 1969

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 02:15 PM PDT

This photo was taken Easter 1969, two months before my Dad returned from Vietnam. My grandmother had hacked all my hair off in a Twiggy attempt and my mother's
skirts were short and almost a little mod. At seven years old, I thought my matching hat and purse were the pinnacle of fashion.

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Gold and Emerald Necklace

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 12:08 PM PDT

Savings from when I started working Fulltime as a engineer. I bought a very pretty Indian Gold and Emerald necklace in India.

It was about 3.5 Lakhs. Approximately 7000$ in 2012.

Gold always increasing in value so it is an investment. (Indian women think this way :) )

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Had to Have it

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 11:34 AM PDT

From the assignment: The most expensive thing I ever bought.

Ever since my Aunt told me she bought a new car paying 100% cash, I've always thought what a great idea, no car payments to worry about. But heck, who has that kind of money? So, I save every penny I could, it took me almost 6 years. When I saw this Dodge Charger on TV I fell in love!

My son and I went to the local dealer to test drive it. About an hour afterwards, I went home and got the cash out of my safe and bought it. This was a dream come true for me. A new car with no payments due, and it's FAST!!

I have no regrets at all. One bucket list done!!

Picture by KCRep
taken 6-4-2014

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A Chocolate & Vanilla Family

Posted: 03 Jun 2014 12:49 PM PDT

My hubby is French Canadian, and I am Haitian Canadian. We are high school sweethearts from Canada, and have been together for over 21 years. We have three 3 uniquely hilarious, beautiful and loving children.


Living in Montreal Canada, where diversity is a virtue, we have very rarely, almost never, met any challenges or offensive remarks as a family. As a couple, we did get some ignorant remarks while in public together, but this was before we had any of our kids. As a family, we have been 'nomads' for the past 10 years, moving from province to province as my husband pursued work in the field of electronic gaming. The three different provinces we've moved into, have always been welcoming and receptive to our multiculturalism. My hubby works in an industry that provides a family like ours, the opportunities to live/work any where around the world. As a mom, when the opportunity to move would arise, the first thing I would check into is "How are Inter Racial families/relationship received culturally, and how multicultural is the city overall?".


It's very important, especially when it comes to raising multicultural children, who at times have vocalized some identity challenges about their skin tones. My husband and I see this as an opportunity to keep instilling values of beauty, and diversity within our kids. Because of this, we have always taken into close consideration the environment we are planning to live in. We've lived in Toronto, St. Catharines, Edmonton and now Montreal.


One thing I do notice, is how one city exemplifies the openness to multiracial families over others. I moved to Toronto in my teenage years and noticed the trend of interracial couples consisted mostly of black males and white females. The social message from this is black men are more willing to pursue intimate and long term relationships 'outside' of there race. I found this to be an issue for me while I was in my youth. My friends, mainly from my youth, would ask me: "Whats it like to date a white guy?" It was understandable because you didn't see that very often in T.O.. Four years ago, once we moved back to Montreal from Edmonton, we we're shocked and happily surprised to see how many multiracial families were thriving here. The real surprise would be waiting for us on our arrival to Montreal, and since this topic has been brought up several times on Chonilla, we can comfortably claim that the city of Montreal is a 'Mecca of Intercultural Love'. And we wanted to showcase how multiracial families are just like any other family with similar challenges. But even being together for so long, and interacting with the world as a couple, we would always have very unique take-aways from all our encounters. This would spawn hours of fascinating conversations, which then made the logical leap to continuing these conversation in front of our beloved microphones. Our multiracial family has been fortunate enough to have had mostly positive reactions from our new surrounding as we traveled together around the great white north.


When my son attended elementary school in Edmonton, his school had it's fare share of children from Somalia or Nigeria who immigrated to Canada, and it was surprising to see their little faces be intrigued and confused at the same time when we would visit our son during school assemblies. When our son would introduce us to his friends who had recently migrated from African countries, it was always entertaining. We could only hope that this means they would be having a conversation about us with their parents, and hopefully their parents would teach them to embrace differently dynamic families such as ours.


Love is beyond race, and when your children are faced with that everyday, we need to be talking about it. It's a big deal to a lot of families, and we are different, and it's beautiful.

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