Thursday, December 23, 2010

family photo hilarity {and Merry Christmas to you!}

Because this is Charlie's first Christmas, we decided that, yep, it was time to start sending out Christmas cards. {we put it off for a long time, because, you see, we are in denial of our adulthood. ironically, we have a baby now. denial doesn't fly anymore.}

And of course, if you send out cards, you should probably send a picture. And since I'm a photographer, a picture shouldn't really be a problem.

{You can see where this is going...}

First of all, I picked a bad day for a family photo. Charlie was coming down with what we'd later find out was a nasty virus--the poor kid had a fever, and has been all zoned out and pale for most of the morning. But, being the type-A, schedule-oriented planner that I am, I told Marty that Today. Was. The. Day. We pumped Charlie with tylenol and forged ahead.

Second of all, I know several talented photographers who I'm happy to call my friends. I could have {should have?} asked one of them to help us out. But, nope, we resorted to the old stack-of-books-on-top-of-the-vase trick. Which meant lots of ridiculous test shots, which took a crazy amount of time, and used up lots of "happy baby" minutes {if you're a parent, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about}.

Here's one of those awesome shots. Notice that the boys are out of focus, and Charles is starting to look testy...

We get it all set up. And then, I thought it would be a good idea to hold a sign that said, "Merry Christmas." Turns out that foam signs are excellent chew toys for 10-month-olds. Which is super... except when you're trying to get a decent picture.

For a few shots, we tossed the sign. In the process, the camera got knocked off...

Back on track. Oh wait...

Then we covered up the baby's face on accident...

Then the baby puked all over my silly sign, and started screaming.

I'll interpret our faces for you.
Me: "Perfect family picture dreams = ruined."
Marty: "This is epic."
Charlie: "CRUEL WORLD."

We coerced Charlie into a better mood, and got this happy-looking picture... except C looks like he's wearing a wig from Star Trek... and his socks don't match his shirt...

And then we were all done, and my ever-cheerful husband decided to take more pictures. And I gave him the look.

And so, because we didn't end up with one perfectly-perfect picture, we threw a bunch together, and titled this year's Christmas card photo, "Reality."

...because, well, we're all about honesty over here at our house. Perfection? Pfffsh. Give me real life, any day. Baby-puke-on-Christmas-signs and all.

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

home sweet home

I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Thoughts like this have been running through my mind:

"At this time last year, I was as big as a whale and painted our entire house."
"At this time last year, I didn't know where I packed those darn Christmas stockings."
"At this time last year, I was working at a desk, in an office, at an actual company."
"At this time last year, I could sleep in on the weekends."
"At this time last year..."

There's lots of good found in looking back, remembering how things were and how things have changed. (i.e., "Still can't find those darn Christmas stockings, but at least I have a fireplace to hang them on, if I did know where they were...")

There's also lots of value in looking to the future. Looking forward. Hope.

And finally, there's the here and now. The moment-by-moment blessings that I take for granted all the time.

Phone calls.
Baby drool.
Clean water.
Coffee {and someone to drink it with}.


Not sure what any of that has to do with anything. I'm a bit rusty at this whole blogging thing, but here I go again... it's my week of a vacation of sorts, and I'm planning on doing a whole bunch of things that sometimes get pushed off to the side for practicality's sake.

Chicagoland {and lots of other places} got a bunch of snow last night. I've been so busy, I've barely pulled my camera out of its little drawer to take pictures. So last night, I took pictures.

Happy vacation to me. And merry Christmas to you :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

grateful {remix}

dear Charlie,

Exactly one year ago today, I wrote this little letter to you. I didn't really know anything about you {besides the fact that you liked to kick me in the ribs}. We weren't even sure what your name was going to be. I wrote last year's Thanksgiving-eve blog post sitting on a bed in your grandparent's house, because our own house wasn't quite finished.

Now, a year later, here you are. And life is unbelievably, incredibly different with you around.

Last year, I went to bed knowing that I'd wake up when I wanted to. This year, your daddy rocked you to sleep while I ran out for some last-minute groceries, and tomorrow morning, I'll be waking up to your little voice, singing {er, yelling?} from down the hall.

Last year, I had an outfit planned for Thanksgiving dinner. This year, I have your outfit planned for Thanksgiving dinner {and haven't given a single thought to what I'll be wearing}.

Last year, I didn't have a kitchen. This year, not only do I have a kitchen, but I'm baking two apple pies and a pumpkin cheesecake in it. {YUM!!!!}

Last year, you were rolling around inside me. This year, you're crawling, and standing, and wishing you could walk. You're waddling, and climbing, and scooting. You're yodeling, and yelling, and--yep, just like I thought--gurgling.

Last year, I thought I knew what we were getting ourselves into with this whole "baby thing." This year, I know full well that one year ago today, I had no clue what we were in for.

Last year, silly cars were the last thing on my mind. This year, we're actually looking for another silly car. Imagine that.

I've got my own predictions for what next year might look like. But this year, I'm keeping them locked inside my head. Because for now, I'm content with the incredible, unbelievable blessings that God has showered on us, over and over again. I spend much too much time looking at what I don't have.

Right now, I'm so. very. thankful. for the things I do have.

This year, you sat on your daddy's shoulders, and looked down at me, and I snorted like a piggy, and daddy looked at me like I was crazy,

and you laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

And my heart burst with happiness. For the billionth time...

i love you.

p.s. happy first Thanksgiving. you can have as much turkey as you want, but forget about the cheesecake.

Friday, November 19, 2010

giving up on perfect.

Well, I just wrote a big long post, bemoaning my inconsistencies as a blogger. And then I re-read it, thought it sounded pathetic, and deleted it. I'm over it :)

I've got some plans for this little blog. Nothing crazy or earth-shattering. Just a few ideas for some more, er, consistency over here.

But not just yet. First, we're off on a trip to Minnesota to visit my little sister and her husband {remember the trip I took last year, with Mr. Charles on the inside? One year later, he's out and about... and we're embarking on a 6-hour car ride with a crawling machine who doesn't like being cooped up. this should be interesting.}

I'll let you know how it goes :)

{p.s. this photo is unedited, because my computer is running slow, and I have lots to do. hence, the title of this post.}

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cayden : two (TWO!!) years

Allow me to introduce you to the photo shoot that almost killed me...

Remember this little cutie from last September? Well, let me tell you something. Mr. Cayden is still absolutely adorable... but who knew that two-year-olds could run so fast? Cayden was everywhere, all at once, a total crazy whirlwind of little-guy-energy packed into one tiny body!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



{And I, totally not thinking, wore flip flops to the shoot...}

Cayden's mommy {hi Lauren!} and I ran all over the park for an hour, just trying to keep up with him. At one point, Lauren, being the smarter, more experienced mom than I, put Cayden in the swing {which is where we got some of my favorite shots of the day}... that gave us a twenty-second breather... and then he was out, and off again.

We ran, and ran, and ran.

I get tired, just thinking about it.

Also, at one point, he figured out that this crazy, sweating lady with the camera was following him everywhere, trying to get him to smile.

He decided, "Me no likey," and gave me this look:


But really... Cayden is a sweetie-pa-teetie! One big grin, and he's on your good side for life ;) I'm so thankful I got to do this shoot {and not just because I got my exercise quota in for the week}! Cayden comes from the very sweetest family ever, and I'm blessed to call them my friends :)

Click here for the slideshow!!!

{Also, some of my more astute readers might note that I have an up-and-coming two year old on the way... planning on getting started on my calisthenics early.}

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Matt and Liz : engaged!

I took these pictures almost two months ago... and just was able to get around to editing them... which is ridiculous, because they were the engagement pictures for my brother-in-law and his super-sweet fiancee! {I'm using my chubby baby as an excuse, here. Like my grandma says, tongue in cheek... always blame someone who can't fight back ;-) }

We had an hour or two to work with before our flight out of Boston {remember, we were there shooting this beauuutiful wedding?}, so we met downtown and played around in the commons. It was such a beautiful day {hurricane Earl was long gone by then}... we were seriously blessed with some gorgeous weather!

I'm pretty sure Matt and Liz invented a language that only the two of them speak... these two are tight. They just get each other, and they're really, really cute about it :) They met at the University of Illinois; Matt's an engineer, and Liz is getting her master's in psychology {read = good looking and really smart}. The first time I met Liz, she was wearing the cutest pair of black flats that I'd ever seen {and of course, I liked her instantaneously *wink*}.

Matt is really savvy, a huge thinker, and a total gentleman. And Liz is classy, smart, and has one of the best smiles I've ever seen {not exaggerating}. If you watch the slideshow at the bottom of this post, you'll notice a Cubs/Cards rivalry {haha! competition is good for marriage, for sure!}, jumping shots {they were really good sports, especially when I got all scatter-brained on them and started telling lame jokes}, and football jerseys {I won't even start about how die-hard these two are when it comes to U of I}.

Alright. It's late, and I'm starting to ramble. {Marty's sitting next to me, playing Angry Birds on my iPhone, and the squawking is getting to my brain.}

Bottom line? I really love my brother, and his wife-to-be!! They're a lovely match, and Liz has killer shoes. The end :)

****Click here for the slideshow!****

Saturday, September 18, 2010

: Christine and Kevin :

Marty and I had SUCH a great time shooting this wedding! Like I said in my last post, Christine is Marty's cousin {their families go way, waaay back}, and so about a year ago, when Chris and Kevin asked us to shoot their wedding, we were totally excited... but we had no idea what to expect {as in, how would life be with a 7-month-old? flying in an airplane? getting our gear to Massachusetts? logistics? Bueller?! ha!}. But, I'm so stinkin' glad we got to do it!

Chris and Kevin are such an awesome couple; they're both really fun, really happy, really {really} competitive, and really {um, reallyreally} stinkin' smart {as in, I'm pretty sure I was surrounded by doctors all weekend long. this little English major felt a tad bit in over her head!}. The day before the wedding was a little crazy {since Hurricane Earl gave Chris a couple of heart-attacks...}, but the wedding day was sun-shiney-gorgeous! Everyone made it there on time, and everything went off without a hitch... besides a big gust of wind that made the cutsie flower girl panic :)

First look... Kevin's reaction was the best... he just scooped her right up :)

Beautiful bride!

Good-looking groom :)

See the way he looks at her? Yep. He adores her.

Alrighty. As far as first-kisses go, I give theirs a big fat TEN. Definitely had time to take about twenty shots {all different, recomposed. as in, i had plenty of time to move my camera all around... and they kept going}! WELL DONE ;)


Here's their awesome bridal party... their dear friend was the officiant, and did such a great job... and the speeches were so sweet and hilarious! What a blessing, to be surrounded by such an special group of family and friends on your wedding day :)

Mr. & Mrs.!

Aaaand the reception... these people knew how to dance ;)

{****click here for the slideshow!****}

p.s. a few side notes:
1. editing a wedding is fun. and hard. and harder with a 7-month-old. i will now go to sleep for a month.
2. in the slideshow, i got the wedding party "jump" shot idea from the very talented Beth Laurren ( please go check out her blog--she's amazing!
3. i heart chris and kevin's families. they are such wonderful, hospitable people, and i'm a little sad that most of them live 3,000 miles away.
4. i won't ever shoot a wedding without Marty. he's the only one who would put up with me calling him "bag boy" and taking the better lenses all the time. seriously, i couldn't do it without him. he is incredible.

the end :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

accidentally {in} Concord, Mass.

This weekend, we're in Massachusetts! Marty's beautiful cousin Christine is getting married, and we have the honor of shooting her wedding. Chris and Kevin are tying the knot on Saturday, but we showed up today to scout out the area, get settled in, and eat as many whoopie pies as we possibly can. {I'm pretty sure they originated in New England. pure, confectionary amazingness!!}
On our way out of Boston, we accidentally found ourselves in Concord. And wow. and wow. and wow. and wow... for a literary nerd like myself, this town was unbelievable. Not only did the Revolutionary war start there, but some of America's incredible, incredible writers are buried there! Henry James Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne... can you believe we just "happened" to drive through this place?!

It was also our little guy's first plane ride... he did really well {really, really well, actually!}, but the minute he hit the hotel bed, he was all smiles :)
Happy Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

6 months

I took this picture just about a month ago, on the day Charlie turned 6 months old. He was teething {and still is}, hence the fingers shoved into his mouth. In the last few weeks, he's started crawling. He grins when he sees me after he wakes up from a nap. He babbles at the ceiling fan. He sits up, and then falls over. He tries to chew on his toes.

Life with a 6-month-old is fun :)

{here's bathtime, improvised, while on vacation... ha!}

Sunday, August 22, 2010

{ fresh air }

Before I left my full time job for another full-er time job, I made a list of all the things I loved, and hated, about working in an office. I could go on and on about the wonderful company I used to work for, and all the things I adored about my job... but at the top of the "hate" list, I wrote these words:

"Have to be inside. all. day. long."

I used to take a lingering, deep breath of the fresh, sunshiney air before disappearing through my building's door every Monday morning, as if it was the last breath of fresh air I'd ever take.

{a bit melodramatic, I know, but you get the point.}

Now, my job is harder. I sleep less, my brain is foggier, I have less time for myself, and I don't get to wear heels everyday {a downer, in my book}.


the fresh air is to die for :)

{all that to say, I sort of unintentionally took a month off from blogging, just to savor the perks of my new occupation... more to come soon!}

Friday, July 23, 2010


Since the only thing I've grown recently is a big pot of fresh basil... here's our dish of choice, this summer:

Nothing better than caprese and a bottle of red on a summer night.

{The only downside? It makes me miss Italy!}

Thursday, July 22, 2010

quality time

They say reading is good for the brain...

...and the teething child.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

the TO-DO list.

Just because we finally moved into our house doesn't mean we're finished with it. Our to-do list is about a mile long, and growing by the minute. Literally...

For example: This is a picture of the backyard. Although it's not the clearest... note the absence of grass, and the presence of weeds. I foresee a near future filled with shovels and rototillers...

{also pictured are two former co-workers, digging up a few plants for their own gardens. Jill and Kathy tell me that an avid gardener used to live here, but someone let the yard go downhill, and weeds took over quickly.}

I'll continue to document our home-improvement progress on this little blog. You can laugh along with us {or just be relieved that you haven't bought a fixer-upper, too}.


Monday, July 19, 2010


I tried my hand at making curtains for our big, sunny kitchen window.

My inspiration came from this post over at Making It Lovely {fantastic design blog, btw!}. I had a bit of trouble with the fabric {something I'm planning on asking my expert seamstress/friend to sort out for me--betcha can't wait, Monica!}, but for now, they'll do.

Also, they make the morning light look especially pretty. And pretty light--when you're running on five broken hours of sleep and making a second pot of coffee--is gold, my friends. So I'm keeping the silly curtains.