Archive for July, 2012

Amanda, Andy and Sweet Babe to Come

July 31

Happy Tuesday!!! Oh have I got somethin’ sweet to share with you all today!

I first met Amanda a little over a year ago now. We met over ice cream actually. I usually like to meet people over ice cream if I have any say in the matter. I take new clients out for ice cream. It just makes me happy. Who honestly is in a bad mood if they’re eating ice cream!? In any case, this is how I met sweet Amanda, too. I remember chatting with her for a long while over a scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip as the fire next to us quietly cracked and popped. Amanda is also a photographer (a very talented one at that!) and I was so excited to meet her in person and make a new friend in the industry. She was bubbly. She was sweet and she was warm. It didn’t take long for our friendship to form.

When I found out Amanda was expecting, I was totally overjoyed for her. I heard a little more about their journey to become parents when we met over lunch one day weeks ago. Her joy and excitement to be a mom emanates from her entire body. I squeaked with excitement as she grinned from ear to ear, recounting the moments she first knew she was pregnant. There is no doubt that Baby Shaw is the greatest, most perfect gift in Amanda and Andy’s life right now. Glittery gold bow and all.

Amanda had fun plans to reveal her exciting news. She told me about her ideas over lunch and together we brainstormed details that would truly make her news shine. Amanda put this shoot together in just a few weeks time and every ounce – every last detail – was perfect. Even down to our weather. Baby Shaw totally brought the magic together for us that day.

Amanda, Andy, Cheddar and precious baby Shaw – Geez! I’m bursting with excitement for you guys over here!!! This particular shoot is one of the most JOYFUL I’ve ever photographed. No words are special enough to express my love and happiness for your wonderful family. Thank you from the deepest parts of my heart for inviting me into your world during the most exciting time in your lives. It has meant the world to me. Can’t wait to cuddle with your lil babe in February!

So much love and gratitude,



Amanda went to great lengths to see that this shoot was everything she dreamed it would be. She and Andy bought that oven at an antique store just days before our shoot! God Bless Andy for hauling that thing out to that field!

Oh, the light that day – it was spectacular. Thanks, Baby Shaw! ; )

Andy and Amanda are incredibly warm people – always aware of those around them and sure to go out of their way to make them feel comfortable and at home. They’re going to make one incredible pair as parents.

This dream like field? It’s behind their house. Couldn’t have picked a better spot for these photos!

That adorable Bun in the Oven banner in the background? Amanda’s friend helped her put that together and it was a perfect sprinkle on top of a this joyful shoot.

CHEDDAR! Oh how I love this guy! He is a bit on the rambunctious side but we managed to get him to hold still for a few photos ; )

Amanda and Andy have started a happy lil blog to chronicle the exciting months leading up to Baby Shaw’s debut. Be sure to visit them there and leave some love.

As always, we have much to be grateful for.

JOY! B and Marcus’ Surprise Engagement Party

July 25

Happy Wednesday! We’ve made it to the middle of the week! : )

Please enjoy some footage from my sister’s surprise engagement party last week. She had no idea that while Marcus was proposing, 60+ family, friends and loved ones were gathering behind the scenes at Marcus’ home in Danville to surprise her. So much love and excitement in the air that day! I am so blessed to have these two in my life.

Love you all. Yes, yes I do!

xo, C

The Choice

July 24

This blog is such a gift – on so many levels. I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams to have a job that allows me the opportunity each day to share in life’s happiest moments. Births, families, engagements, expecting, just because, engagements, love stories, my nephew (he gets his own) and many more. ¬†Through it all, I’ve promised to share my heart and photos here on my blog with you all.

Today – my heart is heavy.

Just this past Thursday before driving out to Danville to photograph my sister’s proposal, I received news that a sweet friend of mine was killed in a tragic car accident. Katie went to the same grade school as I did and was in my class. With only 25 people in our class, we knew each other very well and we were all friends. Katie was pure sunshine – beautiful, inside and out. After graduating from grade school and moving on to separate high schools, Katie and I lost touch. However, she went to the same church as me so I was lucky enough to run into her a number of times since the 8th grade – Christmases, Easter’s and various services at church. Katie always had a smile on her face. She’d light up a room.

Today we celebrated her life in my home parish which was packed – a true testament to how much she was loved and adored. Katie’s mom, Liz, gave Katie’s tribute at the end of her service. Her first words:

“We all have a choice. We can see the glass as half full. We can see the glass as half empty. My glass is overflowing.”

As my own personal way of celebrating and remembering Katie’s life today, I wanted to share this message here with you all. Life can be messy. At times it’s unfair. Through it all, we have the choice. ¬†We have the power to turn things around. We can say yes. We can say no. We can act. We can forgive. We can change our lives and the lives around us for the better with every second. We simply have to choose to do so.

Wishing you all so much comfort and peace. Make today count. XO

One of My Happiest Posts: My Big Sister is Engaged

July 23


Yes, yes, yes! It’s real. My sister is ENGAGED!!!!!!

Oh, this story. It’s pretty amazing. Not entirely sure where to start but I will do my best to bring you all up to speed. I’ve known about this proposal for months. MONTHS!!! Keeping this a secret was quite hard. As many of you already know, I’m very close with my sister and I talk with her about everything. You can imagine how knowing this special secret while spending time with Beth slowly but surely ate away at my patience and ability to keep my squeak induced excitement at bay – ever since I heard news of Marcus’ plans to propose, my huge heart for my sister has been slowly winding itself in tiny circles. As the big day approached and the excitement of friends and family grew, my heart spun faster and faster.

God’s timing is remarkable. I’ve wanted to photograph a proposal for some time now. I never ever thought photographing my sister’s proposal would be my first opportunity. News of Marcus’ plans to propose came several weeks ago. My parents had told me that while Marcus was in town one weekend ¬†(Marcus is in the army reserve and at the time was stationed in Columbus, GA at Fort Benning – my sister lived down there with him), he stopped by their home with plans to ask for Beth’s hand. Marcus is a classic gentleman – hearing this came as no surprise. ¬†With an unexpected visit from Noah man and as everyone’s attention quickly rested on cutie-pie Noah (my nephew), Marcus’ plans were derailed a bit. This was the first time I heard of any plans to propose.

The next week, my sister texts me something along these lines: Between you and me, Marcus and I might go ring shopping soon.

Puh-lease, sister.¬†I already know what’s up!¬†Anyways, this is where my special agent skills came into play. Over the next few weeks as Marcus finished his orders in GA and they prepared to move back to Indy, Marcus and I kept in contact through texting. From the beginning, he had plans of putting together a surprise party to celebrate after they were engaged. With the help of my mom and several others, we worked together to find the perfect date for everybody: Thursday, July 19th. Marcus’ goal was to have everyone at the party that Beth would want to call after getting engaged. Gigantic high fives and gold stars to Marcus! The surprise party (footage to come) went off without a hitch. While I was out photographing Marcus’ proposal, everyone was gathering at Marcus’ home to surprise her.

THE PROPOSAL: Nerves like crazy. Marcus wanted to take Beth back to where they had their first date. More gold stars! Marcus is from Danville so we made plans to go back to a sweet covered bride where B went with him years ago in his blue truck.

I should preface this by explaining how we set this shoot up in the first place. My sister is super bright. She’s super “with it”. There’s no way in a million years that I thought we’d be able to pull this off without her knowing full well our intentions. While vacationing in the Outers Banks, EVERYONE knew of his plans to propose and the surprise party. We were so scared someone would let the secret slip. One day on vacation, Beth asked to try on one of my mom’s diamond rings. She put the ring on her left ring finger, pulled her hand away from her face and examined the way the ring made her hand look. We knew she had some practice with this recently ; ) Mama and I put our game faces on and Mama played it off so well. I shared a wink and a smile with my mom as B stepped away from the table. I’m still in shock we made it through vacation without Beth finding out…

Fast forward to our drive back from the Outer Banks. KILLER. Oh geez – it was terrible. What should have been a 14 hour drive ended up being a 20+ (straight through) drive. I knew it was my responsibility to set (or at least plant the idea of) this shoot up on this drive. I kept putting it off for fear I’d blow it or she’d see right through me. Our moods began to plummet as the sun set and we still had hundreds of miles left to drive. I somehow managed to eek out a text to Marcus asking him to take photos. Marcus and I agreed that the best way to approach this would be for me to ask him if I could do this as a gift for him before he was deployed. Marcus agreed – saying “I’d have to do it this week though before I’ve got to get my army stuff done.” So, we had planted the seed to take them that week. And over the next couple of days, we VERY casually set up this shoot for Thursday. I don’t think I even solidified it until late Wednesday night with a text, “Can I just come to Danville? I want to hang at the house with you guys, too!” ¬†I didn’t want her to think we were in some rush to set this up.

I honestly think I was as nervous as Marcus. The drive out to the bridge seemed like an ETERNITY! We pulled up to the bridge and Beth says, “Isn’t this where we had our first date?” CRAP. At this point I’m thinking she totally has us figured out but Marcus, Scooter and I kept our game faces on. We started by taking some casual portraits. As you’ll quickly notice, my sister is obnoxiously ¬†super photogenic. She is the most naturally beautiful person I know – and I don’t say that because she is my sister. Just look.

Scooter was VERY excited to join! Scooter is a shitzu poodle that lived with Beth and Marcus in Columbus, GA. He came to the beach with the Sullys and everyone (especially my dad) fell in love with him. He is the most easy going dog. He slept on my (and Beth’s) lap the ENTIRE drive back from the Outer Banks. Such a warm and cuddly lil’ guy! I was so excited to see him again and have him along for the big event!

He is a tough pooch to photograph — but I’m happy we squeezed in some fun shots with him!

So, there were no plans for this shoot other than the ultimate goal being to propose. I didn’t really know when he wanted to pop the question – right away, 5 or 20 minutes in. I was on my toes and prepared for whatever.

Sweet Marcus was so nervous. At one point, my sister turned around to fasten Scooter’s leash on the bridge so I could grab some shots of just the two of em’. As she turned her back to us, I locked eyes with Marcus and winked. We found the spot. That shot on the left was taken moments before he proposed. ¬†Beth later told us Marcus’ core was trembling at this point. He wasn’t the only one. I was trembling, too! I was so excited and nervous, I could have screamed!

Beth is even a pretty crier – which is NO small feat. The next few moments were a blur for all of us. All I know is I was snappin’ away : ) I was honestly a little surprised Beth cried as she had some idea this proposal was coming ¬†(after all, they had been ring shopping together!) ¬†— but this moment is one I will never, ever forget.

You can bet I was squeaking by this point.

The day we arrived in the Outer Banks, Marcus texted me three photos of the ring. I made him promise me he would send me pics when he found the one : ) he said the ring was a lot smaller than it it appeared in those photos. WRONG! Beth was totally blown away and said it was everything she could have ever asked for. More gold stars for Marcus!

In case you wondered, Marcus (who I affectionally call Marky) DID get that official sit down with my dad. My dad is a physician and Marcus met him at work on Wednesday, the day before he proposed, and asked my dad for B’s hand ; ) Pappy was the first person to touch the ring! I can only imagine my state of mind at that meeting. Perhaps it’s best I wasn’t there.

Again with being photogenic. This shot was the first I took in a series of just my sister. THE FIRST ONE. ¬†One of Beth’s dearest friends, Mary (I love you, Mar!), fittingly calls Beth a Beauty Queen. I wanted to capture a few images of Beth before Marcus proposed to remember her at this time in her life. I can’t remember her being so happy and beautiful.¬†I should also mention that Mary lives in New York and flew out to be here and celebrate with Beth and Marcus. There were many people that flew in/traveled from across the country to be there for Beth and Marcus. Beth and Marcus sure are loved and adored.

Fact: My brother-in-law gives the best bear hugs.

Shortly after Marcus proposed, the skies opened. Literally! It poured! Indiana hadn’t seen a significant amount of rain in over 40 days. I like to think the heavens were ¬†just so happy for my sister and her man! I know I was and I still am…

Beth quickly said she wanted to drive into town (Danville is a 40 minute drive away from Indy) and tell Mama G and Pappy. We decided to first “drop off Scooter” at the house. We pulled into Marcus’ driveway as the rain fell around us. Fortunately, I was sitting in the back seat and had set up video on my Mark II without Beth seeing. I ran in first and stood there in silence with everyone else as my heart raced. Seconds later, Beth walked in as close to 60 loved ones and friends yelled, “SURPRISE!!!!!!!” That party? SUCH love there. Can’t wait to share some of the footage with you all.

Perhaps the most special moment of the night for me came after nearly everyone had left. I found myself outside with just my sister as she says to me, “While I’ve got you here, will you be my Maid of Honor?” ¬†Waterworks. Okay, it wasn’t that bad.¬†But I definitely shed some big, joyful tears and hugged my sister tight as I said two words: Of course.

Beth and Marky – CONGRATULATIONS!! It’s official! You guys know I love you both to the stars. Thank you for letting me capture this special moment in your lives. ¬†It was one of the greatest honors of my life! Wishing you guys all of the happiness and love in the entire world. Looking forward to having Marky around for good ūüėČ

All my love,


Dark Knight Rises, Talenti & Loves

July 18


THIS MOVIE?! I’m dying to see it. Anyone else love Joseph Gordon Levitt? I just can’t say no. Watch this awesome 13 minute trailer! GAH! I’m seeing it on Saturday and I’m so excited!

Okay. This ice cream is borderline sinful. My sister had been wanting to try the Talenti brand while vacationing in the Outer Banks last week so we gave this a shot (I love all things Sea Salt!) …and I only wish you could have seen each person’s face as we tried it. Whoah.

You are lovely. Truth. Go easy on yourself. Know that someone thinks the world of you.

And a bonus: ¬†this song is my jam today.¬†I heard it come on at the Elbow Room last night which, while I’m at it, double bonus – best chicken fingers in the city of Indianapolis. Hands down.

Love you all, it’s true.


And I’m Home: Ready for Some Dreamin’

July 16

I’m home!

Augh, it feels good to be back. I’ve always maintained that when you are ready and eager to get home to friends and loved ones by the end of any trip, your vacation was a success. Ours was totally wonderful – a perfect melody of laying in the sun, reading, eating yummy dinners together, walking on the beach, playing in the sand with the little ones, games, Coronas, sleeping in. On Friday, I woke up to use the restroom right as the sun was rising. With sleep fresh on my face, I threw my hair into a messy bun and hurried my behind out to the Atlantic. Our house was a five minute walk from beach access. I sat in the sand in my long sleeve IU shirt and watched as the sky painted itself with a blend of golds and burnt oranges. In a world where we plan, plan, plan – EVEN on vacation! – I slowed down. It’s hard for me to do sometimes. I like to be on the go. I like to be busy. I like to know what is coming next. Six months from now, ¬†I’ll look back on that morning with a smile on my face. ¬†I’m always grateful for a moment to slow way down and really take life in. It’s a struggle some days, but I’m working on being better at this every day.

A few thoughts at random:

I love my perfectly dysfunctional family more than ever. That’s for sure.

My little nephew has so much life in him at 14 months. Watch out, world! Noah’s comin’ for ya! (And for your extra dose of cuteness today – he’s now performing High 1’s and High 5’s!)

My skin only burned painfully in one spot – my right knee. I have no idea how I managed to accomplish this.

I finished my most recent read, Love Does, towards the end of our week at the beach. Wanted to share a small bit (it’s at the end of this post) with you guys that really struck a chord in me. Hope it does the same for you! Also, please excuse my scanning skills attempts. I allowed myself to bring one camera – my instax– and my patience for scanning polaroids this morning was a bit low. I suppose you could say my mind is more concerned with getting out for my run to burn off all of those calories I racked up eating turtles on vacation. Yep – turtles.

Of course that’s my darling nephew, Noah, on the left and his PRECIOUS!!! cousin, Nell, on the right. What a sweetheart she is! We love little Nelly Belly!

Those three on the left are my 3 older siblings. From left – Dave, Colin and B. I love em’! And I’m so happy Scooter, the handsome shitzu poodle on the right, was able to join us and protect the world each day by digging at the foam the ocean washed up with it’s big waves. Such a thoughtful man – that Scooter!


Let me tell you what I do when I don’t know what to do to move my dreams down the road. I usually just try to figure out what the next step is and then do that. I know it sounds too simple, too formulaic; it seems like must be more to it. But there isn’t. For most of us that next step is as easy as picking up the phone, sending an e-mail, writing a letter, buying a plane ticket, or just showing up. After that, things start happening. Things that perhaps have God’s fingerprints on them. You’ll know which ones do and which ones don’t. Pick the ones that do.

What’s your next step? I don’t know for sure, because for everyone it’s different, but I bet it involves choosing something that already lights you up. Something you already think it beautiful or lasting and meaningful. Pick something you aren’t just able to do; instead, pick something you feel like you were made to do and then do lots of that. You weren’t just an incredible idea that God never got around to making. The next step happened for the world when God dropped you on the planet. You’re here and I’m here. God decided to have us interesect history, not at just any time, but at this time. He made us to be good at a few things and bad at a couple others. He made us to love some things and not like others. Most of all, He made us to dream. We were meant to dream a lot. We’re not just a cosmic biology experiment that ended up working. We’re part of God’s much bigger plan for the whole world. Just like God’s Son arrived here, do did you. And after Jesus arrived, God whispered to all of humanity … “It’s your move.” Heaven’s been leaning over the rails in the same way ever since you got here, waiting to see what you’ll do with your life.

Bob Goff – Love Does


And I’m Off: A Vacation in the Outer Banks

July 6

Hi friends! Leaving in the AM for the Outer Banks. COULD NOT be more excited. I’m sure gonna miss this little guy above. Sometimes I feel like Pazzo needs his own blog. Or rather, I need a separate blog to blog about this cat. As it turns out, I seem to be one of the only remaining humans on earth that appreciates cats. Every other person I meet or know strongly dislikes cats or is allergic. Sad : ( but I grew up with em’ and I love a good cuddle with Pazzo! I am not a crazy cat lady, I assure you. I simply appreciate him to the fullest. : ) Fun fact: I inherited Pazzo (also called P$ – pronounced ‘P money’) from my older brother, David. Dave rescued Pazzo when he was a lil’ baby kitten literally in a hole in Chicago in the dead of winter. He’s a miracle kitty. His big eyes and kitten face are a healthy dose of my daily vitamin D. So happy he will be in good hands while I am gone!

Mama G and I got our nails done today. My nails are super, super, super hot pink. I think the name had something to do with Samba. Sassy. Whose job is it to name nail polish colors and how can I meet her? She, or he I suppose, is sure to be interesting. As our nails dried under the UV light, my mom and I carried on a light and happy conversation with the friendly woman sitting across from us. Like my mom, she has four kids. Three sons and one daughter. ¬†She smiled as she told us about dinner she had planned after her salon trip – meeting with a girl who she held high hopes of being her daughter-in-law over 30 years ago. She was so happy – almost giddy. ¬†She said she was 80 and that she unsuccessfully tried converting her husband into liking the salon, too. That part made me chuckle. When we told her we were getting our nails done for our trip to the Outer Banks, she sighed. “My husband and I lived in North Carolina for 10 years. We just loved it there!” This woman had so much life at 80. I hope I’ve got that spark at her age (God willing!), too!

I ran into a chair last weekend and have a colorful bruise on my left thigh. Right in time for laying out on the beach! My grace, you guys – it’s way awesome. But, it’s my hope that my pale skin will divert any and (hopefully) all attention away from my unsightly patch. I bruise like a peach, I tell ya!

THIS SONG? I. Can’t. Stop. The video? Eh, as with most music videos, it’s pretty pointless. But it is good for taking me back to the time I went sky diving over the Swiss Alps. Did I ever tell you guys that? One of the best things I’ve done in my life. Sometimes it hits me that I lived in Europe for 3 months and I get chills all over my body. What a blessing! Europe taught me what it means to live fearlessly and outside of my comfort zone.

We leave tomorrow morning and are driving through to Richmond, VA. We’ll wake up slowly Saturday morning and finish our drive – getting keys to our beach house around 4:30 on Saturday. This year is going to be different in a lot of ways! Sullivan’s have been to the OBX several times. This time we’ll have a lil babe. Actually two! Noah’s adorable cousin, Nell, is coming with her sweet parents and extended family. My uncle (mom’s bro) is coming. Scooter (!!!), furry black pup who loves to eat celery and belongs to my sister and Marcus, is coming. The dynamic will be different but in the best way. A few things I’m especially looking forward to:

– That first sunset. It always hits me in a special way.

– The smell of ocean air.

– Walking into our house for the first time and remembering that my priority for the week is to slow down and enjoy and appreciate my loved ones and my blessings. Sometimes it takes stripping away our ‘busyness’ to see how blessed we truly are.

– Walking along the coast of the Atlantic with my sweet nephew. He’s got the cutest lil feet.

– I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to eating unhealthy food and probably a lot of it. BUT – I also hope to get a couple of solid runs in on the beach. Totally cancel each other out. ¬†; )

– Sitting beneath the stars at night in the hot tub with a cold beer in hand. Beer is never more delicious than it is in the summer.

– Grabbing a new and updated family photo.

– Laughing. NO ONE makes me laugh like my sister does. I’m sure this trip will be no exception.

– Reading my new book, Love Does. I’m a few chapters in and loving it!

I’m really looking forward to some time away. I’ve been fortunate enough to go on many wonderful vacations with my family in the past and I’ve never anticipated a vacation as much as I am anticipating this one! I’m just so looking forward to family time and me time. We all need it and it isn’t selfish to take it. I hope you all find time over the next week to do more of what makes you happy. As they say, life is too short.

Off to pack. P$ has agreed to help. Such a helpful little guy.

See ya soon!

xo, C

Chance on Yourself

July 2

I used to think the chances were slim – that I’d find something to do with my life that fills my heart with complete joy. Something that allows me to fill my creative cup while simultaneously investing in relationships, in love stories and life as it dances around me each day.

You can find that sweet spot. Maybe you’re scared to take the leap. You weigh your options and what you have to lose but perhaps what we should consider instead is what we have to gain.

Risk is scary. Change is scary. Fear of failure is scary. But to wonder what if is the scariest of them all.

Whatever it might be today, this week, next month – take a chance on yourself. Be your biggest cheerleader. Stand tall, take things one day at a time and watch your stairs appear. You’ll see that you’ve got this.