Thank you 2015

The last day of the year!

And what a year it has been...

We weathered some accidents, middle school, redistricting, orthodontists and travel...we enjoyed camp, school trips, family game nights, soccer, tennis and exercise...

I think 2015 can rank up there again with another one of my favorite years!

And with over 160 sessions, it's been a BLAST with photography! I've met the most incredible families & seniors...such hope, laughter, excitement, anticipation,  and JOY! The REAL, the MOMENTS, the STORIES and all the HAPPY made this year incredible!

I will be honest that every year I struggle with anticipation and nervousness.  It seems the whole country is inundated with photographers...you can have your pick of the litter...and I worry...I worry that I won't produce even better quality images than I did the year before...I fear that I will let people down...and my heart, oh my heart, it just wants to turn reality into a precious "stand still" moment for families!

I know what I feel like when I look back at old photos of my daughters, my family, my friends...it takes me back in time and I want to crawl inside the picture to relive it...Do you remember that scene from Mary Poppins where Burt shows them his chalk drawings and then they all jump in?  Oh, if I could truly do that!!!

As I perused through all my sessions this year, I remembered the talks and the goofiness...I remembered the days it was super cold and other days that we were sweating...I remembered the moments where the snake slithered across the top of my bare foot, and the special "gifts" I received from little ones that I've watched grow before my very eyes...

If I put every single image in this slideshow, you'd be watching forever...so, watch and see if your family made the cut :)  I'm working on a "favorite" gallery again for the new year...be watching for an opportunity to win a special gift from me!!!

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Merry Christmas 2015

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And the Winner is...

Look at all these amazing cards I received in the mail...


Each one representing a family that I was privileged to interact with, laugh and run around with...share stories and make memories...capturing relationships, hugs & smiles...

It is a joy to serve these families, to learn from them, to interact with them...I am blessed beyond measure!

These cards hang in my home all through the Christmas season...I think of all the extended family & friends that will see those same faces and smile, and share some joy in the relationship!

I had my husband choose from the pile because I had looked through them all so much that I knew the feel of each card...I had devoured all the little tidbits of information of the sweet little ones that I had spent time over this past year...

The deadline was today, so that I could get the "gift" to the winner before Christmas day!



And so...


You all know who you are...Email me at ctphotomemories@gmail.com and let me know whether you'd like a little Starbucks gift card, or if you'd like to choose one of my 8 x 10 handpainted canvases.  I'll send either one your way on Monday at the post office!

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Hobbies and Such

I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse...

I come by it honestly though...

My dad started out in photography before I was born...he then switched into karate...then bows/arrows...then shooting...then sailing...then race car driving...then scuba diving...

Do you see a trend here?

And believe me, my brother and I experienced ALL of his hobbies...I learned to shoot when I was 6 years old, I got my first pair of deck shoes somewhere in my later elementary years...my brother and I also learned kicks and self-defense while my grandmother's oldies records were playing in the background...I even got in my dad's race car at one point in time...I drew the line at scuba though...

but, back to the point...

the trend...is the never ending rotation of "hobbies" or "projects" to be working on...

My husband has definitely helped me to learn how to hone in on one and learn it well for a long time (aka photography)...but, it's right around November/December time frame that my brain is about ready to explode because it needs to explore other creative outlets...

In years past it has involved sewing Narnia dresses or app pillows for my teenage daughter...it's been chalk drawings or portrait painting...I did some card making and also learned how to transfer photos onto wood...

this year it was canvas painting and wreath making...None of which I am an expert, but it's more about the process and just creating something new!

I finished canvas #5 last evening and now I'm ready to start something else...something new...and so, I'll begin sewing this afternoon once I get my grocery shopping finished! My brain tends to go on overload until Christmas day...and then once the excitement and hubbub is over, I am finally able to relax and it's about that time that I've got a stack of books just waiting for me to dive in!

I'm not sure if I have a favorite...I'd love to know which one YOU like best!!





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Hello Again...Again :)

I shared in an earlier post a little about our family traditions as we started the Advent Season. 
I know many will shake their heads at what I'm about to share...my closest friends & family will think I'm crazy...but, 
here's the thing, 
I NEVER imagined this life that I now lead.  

My husband will tell you it's EXACTLY what he pictured, but me?  nope...I couldn't have dreamed this up...

I know that sounds ridiculous to some, or maybe it sounds like I'm just trying too hard, but, my reality is that I didn't envision all this.  There is a lot in my lifetime that I didn't envision or ask for...and when events occurred and pathways crossed, my future reality became something that I could never have foreseen for myself. 

Why do I mention all this for a simple post about decorating a tree and cousin time pajamas?

Because Advent is also a time of reflection and hope and holding close the things that matter most...it's a time for incredible thankfulness for the gift of LIFE!

I have to remind myself of this...often...I tend to be extreme in my thinking and I have a battle with my mind daily...obsessing over silly things and NOT focusing on fleeting moments that really ARE most important! My brain works backwards sometimes.

And so, I want to remind myself to be so grateful for my family, my home, the traditions we make...our family is unique, just as every family is unique...I want my girls to recognize that and LOVE that too...not comparing or wishing for more, for an easy road, but, to know that no matter what they envision for their future (or can't even imagine yet) There is something & someOne worth the HOPE!

We chopped down that tree and drove it home in the rain.  It took overnight to dry out so that we could bring it into the house.  It was a tad shorter this year than our typical, but it meant that the girls were able to reach to the top to hang ornaments!



Anthony's sister travels in from down south and Nana gets matching PJs for everyone. Then they beg Uncle Anthony to throw pillows on them from the loft!

I'm thankful for these times together...for pure "IN THE MOMENT" memories! 






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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I grew up with an artificial tree.  I don't think I ever remember chopping one down?  I could be mistaken, but I only remember putting 3 pieces together of the tree and then my mom trying to string lights and my brother & I fighting over the "throwing of the tinsel"

When Anthony & I got married, and I moved myself down south, when our first Christmas rolled around, he woke me early on the first weekend of December so that we could traipse around his cousin's tree farm to find the "perfect tree" that we would then "saw down".  

This quickly became our continued tradition, to which we share to this day, with our girls as well. 

I've never considered doing family pictures on a tree farm, because, I suppose it felt like "sacred" ground and a place that was just held for the "chopping down of the tree"

However, this year, I decided to try something different...my style isn't particularly into props and such, but capturing togetherness & personality...to show FAMILY in their essence, no matter the location!  

I was excited to bring this family to my "special place"...a few weeks before we were to head there ourselves to locate another Canaan Fir tree for our living room.  

We met this family at fish fry, believe it or not, over the Easter holidays last year.  We've kept in touch over social media and WALA, here we are meeting up for family pictures!  

This sweet Momma to all boys has parented & trained them well.  They are kind & considerate, well-mannered & obedient...and yet, they nearly scared the pants off me with their antics & dad's flying them so high into the sky!!!

These are the moments that memories are made of...the togetherness times that you can look back on and smell the trees, feel the late fall chill in the air and hear the laughter in their voices.  

There is so, so much going on in our world...so many things of which we have absolutely NO control.  And so often, I will admit, I feel helpless...
We are coming up on the "most wonderful time of the year" and there has been so much fear, heartache, frustration, confusion in our world...

Someone told me recently, "If you can't control it, do be controlled BY it"...rather, in response, you pour into the things that you can impact, model, invest in...

This is what these pictures represent to me...

an investment...a lifelong investment of time, energy, guidance, modeling, heart to hearts, acceptance, safety, playfulness, finding joy, showing love...

Make your moments count this Christmas season...












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Libby: Senior Session

I met lots of Seniors this past year. In the past, I have found my niche' with families and chasing little ones around a park while making goofy noises and getting giggles...but, intermixed, it has a wonderful reprieve to meet with these seniors that have moved well beyond the need for a photographer to perform crazy dance moves or blow raspberries while balancing stuffed animals on her head!

And for that, I am thankful!

It has been a pleasure meeting these young adults that are on the precipice of a huge journey...you can see the anticipation in their eyes...their excitement for the future, but mixed with a tad of trepidation knowing they embark on their own.

Libby is beautiful inside & out. She's natural and real.  I appreciated and truly valued her desire to just BE herself..."what you see is what you get" and it is lovely!

Often, arriving at the last year of your k-12 school experience, you realize the significant roles that individuals have played in your life as well.  Sometimes these are siblings or teachers and yes, definitely parents...but, more often than not, it's a "friend" (or friendS) that have impacted your participation, your motivation, your involvement at school.  I love when Seniors choose to include those that mean the most to them during a senior session.  Libby wanted to share this experience with her close-knit group of girlfriends...and I think you'll see that it was very much worth it!

Congratulations Libby!  I have no doubt that your heart will continue to positively impact anyone you meet and your determination & drive will take you to the top!







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Fly Away Farm

This is what we did this weekend! My husband worked the Christmas Tree Farm, while my middle girl & I snapped some pictures! We love our cousins, the owners of Fly Away Farm. It's a tradition each year to cut down our tree, visit with our family, drink hot cocoa, eat some cookies, pet the dogs...Check off another tradition in our journey through Advent this month!

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Sweet Team

I always wondered what it would be like to have an "OLDER" brother.

Being the oldest, I'm just in the position of "firstborn"...

It's kind of nice now...(in my old age) that my brother & I are in the same "season of life" and therefore, it sometimes is nice to lean on him as an older brother at times...

This little man is a big brother to his little sis...and you can see the way she adores him...watches every little move he makes...

And yet, she brings her own little "energy" to the table as well...

They make a sweet little team!

It was fun to meet up with this family, as this dad's parents were our first "young married" leaders in our church (back in the day)...

I had just gotten married, and moved away from the home I'd always known, as well as my church family...his parents welcomed my hubby & I with open arms and continued such great counsel and support in the early years of our marriage.

So thankful for them all...










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Hello Again!!!

It's the last day of November!!!  I can't even believe we made it!
Well, I can believe it but it felt like we might not survive there at the end.  

Fall is hectic for everyone, however, for someone who is rather right-brained to begin with, I heap more trouble upon myself with my lack of organization...so in time crunches, I usually make matters worse with my haphazardness...

So, add in the girls' sports, homework help, lots of photo sessions and lots of editing, on top of the regular stuff like grocery shopping, housework, and making dinner, well...things just got a little crazy there towards the end of the fall season...(let's just not mention the fact that I haven't even been to the mall since August, so Christmas shopping is wayyyyy behind schedule)

We've started to look to Thanksgiving as our "YAY, We Survived Fall!" celebration and we just stay home...we hunker down, do puzzles and eat lots of food for the long weekend!

Can I tell you how good it felt to just be able to sit and read books with my girls, finish my middle girl's bedroom decor (3 months late)...we just sat and painted her canvases...my hubby took care of the Thanksgiving feast and the girls did their magic on the table settings!  

Saturday, we headed to the tree farm (in the rain & cold) and chopped down our tree!!

I'm excited to get back to blogging about families and photography...and I'll be announcing a SNAPSHOP that I'm planning to host after the first of the new year!

What are you favorite family traditions??? I'd love to hear!!!








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SMILE!

She's a typical "baby" of the family.  With that comes a lot of laughter and joy and crazy and household shenanigans...

It brings adventure and risk taking and most of the time getting to do things wayyyyy earlier than your big sisters ever got to!

However, it also means, sometimes...that you can tend to be a tad more clingy to Mommy...(or maybe Mommy is a tad more clingy to baby???)  Whatever the case, doing things independently, facing challenges and difficulties can sometimes be built up in one's mind to be a bit scarier than the reality.  
That said, we had a dentist appointment today to check on my Little Munchkin's permanent front teeth that she whacked back in October.  

Things have calmed down a bit.  She started using regular utensils about a week and a half ago.  The front teeth aren't wiggly anymore, but the gums are still a tad swollen.  She does "feel" pain, but, if you read the above prefaced account, you'll understand why the extensive "tests" that could have been done were not accomplished today.

We were able to get teeth cleaned and being the good mom that I am, I held her down so that the dentist could do what absolutely needed to be done...but fear is still a huge factor in her head right now.

So far, the prognosis looks fairly good.  The teeth are not discolored, they are staying put in position, and she can eat normally.  What is still not known is the state of the nerves inside the teeth.  

All in all, it was a good visit and we felt positively about it.  

She's still dealing with fear and is extremely cautious about eating (and running and playground equipment, etc) Unless the teeth start to discolor or she experiences continued pain, they are fine with waiting the regular 6 months in order to see her again. If any of those things happen, at any time...now, 3 months from now or 30 years from now, it would likely mean root canals for both teeth.

I want to thank you all for your cards, sincere messages, kind remarks, and most importantly your heart felt prayers!  We know that in comparison to all the "BAD" that happens in this world, this incident was extremely minuscule...but, we do have Someone that cares even about the tiny sparrows, so I'm confident that my little one's fear & teeth are important to Him too!


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EDITING

I saw a photograph the other day that made me laugh!

photo cred: Cole's Classroom

I know that my clients do not believe this and that they understand the time & energy put into not just a photo session, but the emailing & scheduling & editing & posting sneak peeks & instagramming & loading galleries & answering questions & fielding phone calls...all the while keeping costs down because I don't hire sitters, nor charge extravagant amounts for prints, and many other things that just go on in a normal "small business" environment.

Because I have a lengthy line up of sessions to edit, I'm going to choose to sacrifice my online presence for a bit, with regards to blogging.  I do understand that this has the potential to be detrimental to my business, but I also value my clients that continue to come back to me year after year.  I have blogged nearly everyday (give or take 1-2 hectic weeks where I missed a day) for almost 3 months. I'm going to cut it down to 2-3 times a week at present until I get my galleries uploaded.

Thank you for your support and for continuing to check in here...I head for a re-check up on my youngest regarding her accident earlier in October, this Thursday.  I'll be posting an update at that time.

Looking forward to a wonderful holiday season!  Please be sure to continue to follow on Facebook and Instagram until I am able to get back to blogging consistently again in a couple weeks.

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Parenting is REAL

Some of you may know that my firstborn is on her school trip this week...very far from home!

She's been away from home before...to camp, or grandparents house...but, it's 8th grade now and now begins the official "letting go"...this maturing...coming into one's own...steady rise to independence...

Ugh, I knew it was coming...it's what we've been "training" for all these years...

And there is definitely a part of me that is SUPER EXCITED...because she's becoming a young adult, and I'm watching her struggle her way to conclusions, making up her own mind...

yet, she'll always be my little girl :)

The school is going ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty this week...Technology is bothersome at times, but it's been a simple joy this week.  It's not part of the payment plan, not even included in the trip at all, we aren't entitled to it and they aren't required to do so...but the teachers are posting pictures via social media so that parents can be flies on the wall...some teachers are more tech savvy than others, but it matters not...just knowing they are there safe, learning and enjoying themselves as a whole...the little snippets I get of my girl are these sweet bonuses, icing on the cake if you will :)

We text each other each morning once she gets on the bus and then she'll give a goodnight text or maybe check in on her sisters during the day...but all in all, I just want her to be IN the moment there...because, let's face it, this is big thing in her life right now..it's a milestone (not to mention celebrating your birthday in the Nation's Capital)

This parenting thing is REAL...sometimes I pinch myself thinking that I've been entrusted with these lives...For the first 18 years of their lives, their dad & I have this incredible responsibility to discipline, guide, hold back, push forward, demonstrate respect, exemplify integrity, chip away at their selfishness and at the same time build up their confidence...to show them the value of WHO they are lies not in what they do or who they know or what they look like, but rather in the Who they belong to and the heart & soul of their being.

I've met way over 100 new families in the past years doing photography...everyone in different seasons of life...all giving it everything they've got...it truly is the most important "job" we'll ever have!!!

Each year, I am amazed at this family as well...not just the respect & obedience they get from their boys, but the genuine enjoyment they get from being together...it's not a hassle, nor do the kids come begrudgingly... (I'm sure there are times for those things...we ARE all human, and noone is perfect ;) ) but, my experiences with them over the years have always been pleasant and fun!








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The best way to contact me is either through Facebook Messaging or emailing me at ctphotomemories@gmail.com

I can't wait to hear from you!
"Teach us to number our days, (savor the moments) so that we may gain a heart of wisdom" ~Psalm 90:12

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