THANK YOU 2016


This year has been surprising...

As has every year, to be honest...

My daughters are growing up and "needing" me in a different ways than ever before...
gone are the days where I'm called upon 24/7 to wipe noses, dress babies, change diapers, go to storytime, playdates, etc...

And so, my role as "Mom" is in a constant state of ebbing & flowing with change...

over the years it has left me often trying to determine the "how" and "where" to FIT in it all...

God gently nudged me in the direction of photography, I believe because He just wired me in a way that I love people and I need to be around them...and I enjoy making people happy! To fill in the times that I wasn't on field trips or volunteering and I wanted to be "creating" things and interacting in relationships!

I've met some incredible young people heading off to college next fall...I've met newly starting families with wee ones that keeps me grounded & reminds me of when it all started...I've met young families that are in the throws of the demands of toddlers & preschoolers and they are learning the "tough love" job & persevering for the love of family! I've met extended families and grown families and I've picked their brains on how to do better, how to have the "success" I see with their grown children! 

I don't know of another "job" like this...and as long as God keeps providing a way for me to serve others in this capacity, I plan on continuing as long as I can...

I hope you have a wonderful new year and I can't wait to see YOU in 2017!

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Christmas 2016

I just returned from the Orthodontist's office. 
#merrychristmastomygirls
#bracesareexpensive

All 3 of our girls needed some type of orthodontist work this year...my older two because it was time and my youngest because of her accident a year ago. 

Noone tells you how exhausting it is to sit by and watch your children have to be brave in the face of unknowns and deal with pain (no matter how minimal)...Tough Mommy love has to take a front seat and the look of "suck it up" must be plastered to my face.  They need to learn to be brave, because life isn't easy...and if they can be successful, one "trial" at a time, they will have more courage and strength for the times that aren't so "easy". 

This is what I tell myself and what I make myself do when they are those "hot seats"...My "brain" wants to take pain away, coddle them...but my "heart" knows that walking beside them makes them stronger instead of trying to take the load myself. 

Whew, heavy topic for 2 days after Christmas, but my heart was prodded this season as my girls were so grateful for the small things this Christmas...with "mouth equipment" for all 3 of them this year, along with the dishwasher, garage door and tractor also breaking this year...well, "gifting" wasn't a priority, in the "typical sense" this Christmas.  I spent time sewing handmade crafts for presents or creating them in other ways...and my heart swelled with the gratefulness that was demonstrated immediately...

It began in Michigan with some homemade Pokemon pillows, which my nephews squealed with delight...no matter their aunt hadn't had a pattern or even really a clue what "pokemon" was or is :) We spent time loving on our 89 year old grandmother and, unbeknownst to her, recorded about 30 minutes of singing and talking about her childhood.

Our middle daughter received a Ukulele from Papa & Gramma and has been serenading us ever since...content to sit and plunk out chords and bless us with her singing. 

We had our celebrations with my dad at his work office, where Gram brought in Crock Pots for us to have a "taco bar" for lunch and Grandpa showed all the grandkids how he installs fire alarms.  The kids were attentive and in awe of their Grandpa & Uncle Larry. We exchanged thoughtful gifts and were showered with love from everyone before we headed back home for the final celebrations... (continue reading below)







Christmas Eve day is spent making our Gingerbread Train.  Each grandchild on my husband's side draws a "car" and moms make the appropriate gingerbread car pieces to assemble at Nana & Popi's in the morning. Each year the cars get more elaborate...and then we slowly devour them on New Year's Day (or at least all the candy) 

Our typical Italian feast is now spread out across the whole day instead of 7 courses all at once, which, in the past, had us still at the table at 11pm...We enjoy the meats & cheese (antipasta) with wedding soup during the afternoon and the pasta, salad, bread, etc etc make their appearance before the pizzelles in the evening, following the Candlelight Church Service.

I know there will be a time when the cousins won't want to do the "play" any longer, but for now, they are still performing for us...this year, they made a movie of themselves (#technologykids #generationZ)

We came home that evening tired, but happy and excited about the morning... (keep reading...)




We received an Advent book with 25 doors that guides you through the reading of Luke 2 every December. We start at the beginning each day in December and open another door each evening...until Christmas morning when the last door is opened at the end. The girls have it memorized now but I love that they still enjoy doing it together as part of our traditions...

The other "tradition" is crashing through the wrapping paper...for me it just represents that our whole home/family/everything is a PRESENT...and coming down to run through the doorway is a reminder that we already have so, so much to be thankful for...regardless of anything under the tree...

And, as I was stating earlier, I think they "get" it too...I handmade ornaments and Harry Potter Acceptance Letters (albeit 1.5 years late for my middle girl, as you are supposed to be 11 when you receive a letter) I so enjoyed scouring the internet for appropriate fonts and the Hogwarts Crest! They each received STAX as one of their gifts and were thrilled...We had other gifts as well, but mostly needs or small things they wanted...

It made us happy to just play games, work on our puzzle, eat our Christmas roll and just BE all day Sunday.  It will definitely be one of my favorite for the books...

I hope your holiday season was memorable and wonderful too...









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TIPS to Photograph the STORY of your Christmas

I know that the era of "big cameras" is nearly becoming extinct...

iphones and apps have taken the world by storm and they are truly fantastic options (and I'll have more on using those devices later)...

However, I believe that our goal is still the same, no matter the "equipment" we use to capture our moments...we want our memories to be documented so that we remember every detail, feeling and experience as if it were just yesterday!

Hopefully, keeping these little things in mind will help tell YOUR story this Christmas!

1. Shoot from Different Angles:
I have been known to stand on top of furniture to get specific views, but you don't have to go to that extreme...yet, it's always a unique challenge to look at things from a different perspective.  For example, instead of just putting your camera (or iphone) right in front of your face as you stand up to snap a shot, try crouching down to your children's eye level, or the level of the table or floor (wherever the action is taking place)


2. Go in Close & Get the Details
Don't forget to get the tiny hands working on opening gifts or making cookies.  Capture their creations, even without the actual person IN the picture.  Think of how movie makers pan the scene as it's preparing you for the action...do the same in "real life" to help your viewers SEE all the components of your Christmas story...

3. Don't be afraid to "Set It Up"
I'm not talking about "stopping the action" but I am reminding you to remove distractions and don't be afraid to move things around in order to make the most of your capture.  This is something that, after having spent so much time "photoshopping" things OUT of pictures, that I make sure I get those things out of the way, to the best of my ability ahead of time.  So, if there is a coffee cup in the way, if there are shadows on faces, if there is an odd chair in the background... take 2 seconds to move it out of the frame, and go for it...you'll be thankful in the end because then those distractions won't be vying for attention in your "story".

4. Get to the LIGHT
PLEASE use natural light as much as possible.  The pop up flash is only your LAST resort...not only does it not reach as far as you may think it does to create enough light, but it's also harsh and casts shadows everywhere...You want to capture emotion along with your activity, so don't settle for a quick flash unless absolutely necessary.

Notice how I used the window light to get all the light needed...and I stood with the light to my side/back in order to get the subject well lit...take notice of how you position yourself to make sure the light is shining on your subjects the best that you can...
 here's another example of where I "could" have used my flash, but it would have ruined the "emotion" of the activity...It required me to be very still so that my camera could record it at a slower speed in order to get the tiny amount of light that was coming from the candle, but it's better than flashing everyone and ruining the mood.

5. Don't forget the Big Picture too
Photography is a dance between going in close and stepping back to see everything...We live in the digital era, and unless you are overloaded on your iphone with no more storage available, don't forget to step back and get the WHOLE activity at once...it's part of the "story" as well...

Merry Christmas and HAPPY photographing!!!

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December Traditions Continued

I might have gotten a little ahead of myself yesterday...putting the decorations before the tree...

I grew up with an artificial tree.  I don't ever remember chopping down a tree each year.  We just brought the tree up from the basement in a big box.  I do remember throwing a lot of tinsel (remember that stuff?) on the branches, but never a real tree.

Enter my husband...

When we got married he was adamant about chopping down a Christmas tree each year.  He even knew the farm we would go to and last year, for the first time, he actually WORKED on the tree farm with all his Italian cousins...

It's taken me awhile to "get over" the concept of the "perfect" tree and rather, to relish in the experience.

Having grown up with an artificial tree, there was an expectation that it was going to look a specific way each and every year...the branches, the shape, the color, the height...everything would be perfect...

When you go searching to chop down a tree, you never know what you're going to get...

For someone looking to find a "perfect" tree, this could cause a bit of an emotional upheaval... (ya'll just stop laughing at me for one second because I am fully aware that I'm putting wayyy too much stock into this whole perfect tree concept...)

Nevertheless, I've come a long way...now, I am able to enjoy the process...the hot cocoa, the traipsing through the trees, the memories that we make, regardless of whether we find the "perfect" height or branch size...

our goal now, is just to find a tree that looks green enough that will last in the tree stand until the weekend after Christmas when we eventually take it down...and not catch fire in the house due to the dryness of the branches because the life has been sucked out of it...(wow that sounds so "christmasy" doesn't it?)

And wouldn't ya know...every year, we STILL end up finding that "perfect" tree...and when it's all said and done...the special decorations are up, the lights are twinkling, the candles are burning around our house and we're reading our Advent book (more on that later)...it turns out, THAT tree becomes our Favorite and the most Perfect tree that we could have ever found...

funny how that happens...








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Christmas Traditions

One of my families posted recently about their family tradition of wrapping up 25 christmas books and the children choosing one to unwrap each day in December until Christmas.  I thought this was marvelous and wished I had thought of it when my girls were little.

It's not that we're lacking in the "Christmas Tradition" department, but I love me some fun things to pass down through the generations.

I'd love to share just a few with you...traditions from our house...or perhaps just special decorations that always find a place each season...

First off is a special ornament from my grandmother on my dad's side.

She was into painting ceramics like a LOT of grandmothers were into back then.  Both Anthony and I have a box of ceramic ornaments painted by our respective grandmothers...who lived in different states, miles & miles from one another...but both were into that painting "hobby".

Over the years, we've collected so many ornaments, for our own girls, that there isn't enough room for all of grandma's ornaments to adorn the branches...but there is one...

One that will always have a special place in the center of the Christmas tree...

It's a sweet little stocking filled with 2 little mice...and there is a hole in the bottom of the ceramic piece...

My grandmother wrote a note, rolled it up long ago and stuffed it inside before she gave the ornament to me one Christmas.

She left this earth back in 1991, but every Christmas I reach inside this ornament and pull out my note...

it still has that faint scent of her home...

and I remember her...and how much she loved me...and I listen inside my head for her kind voice...and I recall all the special times I had with her that are buried deep in my heart...




She left other things that we always bring out at christmas time as well...like her Nativity Set that she painted as well...and I mentioned the big ceramic Christmas Tree on my Instagram the other day too!

This is only the beginning though...we've instituted many 'o traditions in our little family over the years...

I'm excited to share some more tomorrow...

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Christmas Card Drawing

Only 2.5 more weeks until Christmas!!! 


In my shameless attempt to get as many Christmas cards as I possibly can to fill up my wall with faces of family & friends that make me feel so loved, especially this season...I'm running my little drawing again...

If you remember last year (read about it HERE) I had a little drawing from all the people that sent cards that had sessions with me in 2015...

NOW, it's that time again!!!  I'm not as far with all my "projects" but I'm plugging along...

So here is the deal!

IF you had a session with me in 2016, and you'd like to be entered to win one of my "projects", just send me a Christmas card using one or more of the images that you received from your CT PhotoMemories gallery. (You can message or email me for my address) 

After Christmas, I will randomly choose a winner and then ship your canvas to you :) 

Currently, I have this one finished :)

AND if you see any from last year HERE that you think would be worth painting again, just let me know when you message me and I'll see if I can add it to my project list! 


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Definition of December

This is gonna be a long one folks...

I've got lots goin' on in this brain of mine and it's been cooped up for awhile...

The rush of the season is over...well, the photography part that is...now, we slide right into the christmas crazy for the month of December!

So, let me tell you what's been goin' on...

First of all, I'm ECSTATIC to say that all my galleries have been delivered and I'm only 28 blog posts behind (insert big eyed emoji)  But, that's because I didn't come up with my brilliant blogging plan until I was already behind, so I'll do a little catch up in January... c'est la vie

Next, if you remember, my youngest had alittle "accident" a year ago in October and cracked her mouth pretty good...actually, it was awful and there was blood...lots of blood and wiggly teeth and Momma had some tough lovin' to do...but, it's now a year later and she's chewing gum with the best of them...cuz, we're all about healthy habits in our household...
Anyway, turns out she did SUCH a great job of moving all those teeth around when she smacked them into the iron pole, that they got stuck in some weird spots...so she's needing some lovely appliances in her mouth, which will be installed 2 days after Christmas...

Merry Christmas sweetheart...Santa must love you...

however, not as much as my middle girl...

because she gets to have a full set of BRACES put on 2 days after Christmas as well!  Yippee, all 3 girls will have metal in their mouths and we're set another year behind in college savings...(insert forced chuckle)

If you didn't know, we've also been in our house for 10 years...and since "they don't make 'em like they used to"...EVERYTHING IS STARTING TO BREAK!

We had to replace the garage door system back in September, both of our vehicles needed some work due to leaks and failing brakes, and our washing machine went a little haywire over the summer too...but nothing a cool $500 couldn't fix (big eyed emojis are my favorite now)

Which leads me to this past week...

If you are a close friend, you will know that I have lamented about my dishwasher for at least a year.
I do not like my dishwasher.
It doesn't really wash anything...it kinda swirls the dirty water around and then heats it all up so that it gives you the false impression that they are clean.  I've wanted a new one for awhile...but, the girls are growing like weeds and supposedly, it's in our best interest to make sure they are clothed and fed first...and we needed more important things like: the garage door, the washing machine, gas for the cars...just the usual...and it's not like my hands were broken or anything, I can wash my own dishes...

However, while we were gone to Michigan for Thanksgiving (more on that in a second) the dishwasher (that apparantly was already more broken than I originally thought, had reached it's capacity of "broken but still acting like I'm limping along" and it leaked under the wood floors to the subfloor and into the basement.  This appears to have been going on for about month, so that would explain the warping of our wood and the soggy Christmas decorations we brought up from the basement.

So, now our kitchen looks like this and I finally get my new dishwasher...along with a hefty insurance deductible :)


p.s. YES that is a homemade fruit fly catcher on the counter because nothing says "home" to a fruit fly like old food that has leaked into the floors from a faulty dishwasher...fortunately, the pureclean folks have done a remarkable job getting it fixed up and the more "intellectually challenged" fruit flies are now falling for my trick.

Because we actually like our sanity, we are opting to hold off the "real" fixing of the floors until after the holidays.  Therefore, our house is LOUD (as if I don't already yell enough) for at least 2-3 more days while the machines suck the moisture out of the wood so that we don't get mold...ahhh the joy of the season!

It's okay though because things could be worse and I'm well aware that these "first world problems" are NOTHING...but, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that it sometimes does the body good to whine for just a bit...it's not necessarily "biblical" persay, but I'm trying to keep it at a minimum.

OKAY, so now onto the FUN stuff! I'm "artsy" by nature, so that means that I like projects...not cleaning projects mind you...that ISN'T fun.  I'm not organizational or clutter free...actually quite the opposite, but "projects" are my way to "decompress" when things get a little hectic or stressful (which is basically the definition of December)

So, I've been painting and crafting and it's been glorious!  You may seen my latest canvas on Instagram.
I get inspiration from others and then I try my own hand at it and just embrace the "goofs".

We had a White Elephant exchange between the Youth Leaders at our church and we had to "pinterest" create something that screamed our personality...so of course, I made a PUPPET!!! We called her "Tacky Tammy" or Anthony referred to her as Cecile.  My youngest and I had fun finding all the "accessories" in our basement.

I'm currently working on MORE canvases to GIVE AWAY...stay tuned tomorrow for that announcement and get your Christmas cards ready!!!  

That's life in a nutshell at the moment...
hope you all are doing well!!! 


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How can I reach you?

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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