maryland wedding photographer

Year In Review 2015 | I'm Kristen Photography

2015 was a wonderful year behind my camera! I enjoyed shooting 15 weddings, plus second shot five weddings, and then three proposals and a couple dozen portrait sessions. This post is just a review of all the weddings I haven't blogged yet this year (Neill and Kate's wedding is here!). While some of my favorite pictures are certainly included, many of these represent favorite memories and moments of each wedding day. As I went through each day start to finish it warmed my heart to re-see the faces.

Pulling a segment from my website: "I don't take and present photographs because it's cute, but because I am a Note Taker, a Story Teller. You are the sonnet, you are a part of the play, and the times of your life matter. It is sincere delight for me to be allowed to walk into the doors of your world, tap into my heart, and let your joy become mine -- whether it be a wedding, a birth, a high school graduation, or a Christmas card portrait.  I know our sessions together aren't the whole story -- the nights without sleep, the gulp in your throat, the lost ones you miss, the insecurities, the numbness -- but I know our sessions are a real, that we are here logging history with a black box and light. It's magic.  I believe in family, marriage, parenthood, new starts, figuring it out, I believe in wholehearted relationship, I believe in lasting love and I know awfully sad things happen in those places. But I believe in fighting for the good, fighting to believe that the best is yet to come, that the struggle is worth it, that being known and loved -- and knowing and loving -- are what give us life and bring us the greatest joy. So, here's to the grand adventure and all the stories, and hope beyond tomorrow! *clink*" Happy Days Gone By, everyone, and thank you for letting me live parts of my life alongside yours.


| The Preparations |

| The Ceremony |

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| The Newlyweds |

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| The Celebrating |

A special thank you to all my second-shooters this year! Ellie Be, Elizabeth Baxter, Caroline Ruth, Elise Benjamin, Dom, Ally Michelle and the Mr. Morris himself. Thank you for working hard for my clients and me, for keeping track of the family shot lists, for keeping me hydrated, and for doing such beautiful work! 

Nick + Becca | Walker's Overlook Wedding

"because same, no weโ€™re not the same 
but thatโ€™s what makes us strong"
home -- dierks bentley 
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Becca was the little girl in my parent's church group.  Becca was the pretty little girl with enormous dimples in my parent's church group.  Becca was the pretty little girl with enormous dimples who loved to draw, paint, read and write in my parent's church group.  A modern-day, kind-of-country version of Belle.  And she grew up.  With a college degree and a diamond.  I'll never forget meeting with her before the wedding. "Tell me about you and Nick?  I don't know him aside from what's on Facebook, and I've never met him!" She paused for a moment, a smiled -- she always smiles -- "Well." Another pause.  It was if she had something she wanted to say, but was looking for an Option Two. With her hands gently crossed over well-postured torso she finally spilled the beans: "Nick and I are madly in love! I'm just, we're, well, we're crazy about each other.  I really didn't know it could be like this.  I'm so in love with him."  She physically saturated as she spoke: her eyes greener, her cheeks peachier, her lips raspberrier. 
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Becca didn't necessarily feel ready to be married.  She thrived in school, and is passionate about literature and great stories and diligent creativity.  Her china-doll appearance is wonderfully matched with her firm, yet gentle, resolve.  School, it was!  And then? Maybe teaching?  Maybe traveling?  Maybe more school?  Until... Nick.  He lived a few hours away and they met at an area conference.  She resisted the best she could but it was a brief resistance.  She snapped open like a pixie stick, and sweet wonder came pouring out.  With a couple of semesters left of college, a semi-long-distance-madly-in-love-relationship, and pending wedding -- marriage! lifetime! -- Becca had her work cut out for her.  And she rose to the magical, devoted challenge. photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography6of166-2.jpg  photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography5of166.jpg  photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography16of166.jpg  photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography15of166.jpg
I love, throughout each wedding day, when "it" catches up with a bride.  For me it happened at three times: mid-way through getting my make-up done, waiting to walk down the aisle, and driving away in the limo with my husband.  Each moment was just... there aren't words, there aren't descriptions.  I could try, but it would sound like naive, foolish gush-sauce.  The moments were other-worldly and moments that simply cannot be recreated or re-lived.  They happen and *poof* they are a bold memory.  Watching Becca as she saw herself in her dress for the first time took me back.  It was as close to re-living my moment as could be while I enjoyed her having her moment.  (Ps. Her crazy great mama did a little jig to try to make her laugh and stop crying.  Brilliant.)
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The day was everything it should have been.  Becca grew up in a white-porch-hugged country home, at the bottom of a grassy green valley in the first rural town outside of our suburban area.  As children we loved visiting their house -- go carts! creeks! the country store across the street! barefeet! dogs!  When I watched Becca, so lovely and so poised, wander around on the rolling green property of Walker's Overlook I was overcome with the scene.  It had an illustrious rightness. 
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If the buzz before a ceremony could be bottled and sold someone would be eternally wealthy.   The waft of perfumes as female guests arriving, newly primed, the loud cackle every few minutes that hushes into reverence, the clangling of earrings and bracelets and wrist watches and sunglasses, the final strums of a practicing musician, crriiick as humans bend into their seats, the flutter of green leaves, like a chime.  It took much time to arrive here, and yet! Here we are! The time is now and it can almost feel rushed -- natural, and right, and good -- but striking when it's "suddenly" the beginning of your wedding.
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As sweet as it was that Becca declared her mad-and-hard fall into love with Nick, it wasn't that she was in love that I remember as much as who she was in love WITH.  You see, in so many ways Nick is Becca's opposite.  I more and more find that couples personalities may be "opposite" but often they have a core of similarity.  But not so with Nick and Becca.  He his idea of a great night is wings and the game.  He loves his softball team and league.  He works hard with his hands, dances like a ninja racoon in the moonlight, and loves to entertain the crowd.  He's active, social, athletic, and friendly.  His sense of humor is impossible to miss and, well, he's just not the tortoise-shell-glasses-wearing, studious, book worm nerd we all always predicted for Becca.   And when I see pictures of her at huge Halloween parties dressed to the nines as a Marilyn Monroe, or at family reunions in the great outdoors pulling ropes in giant tug-a-war I just smile.  I love it.  I love the various and many interests and life tugs these two have.  I love that a powerhouse athlete turned his head for a shy poet.  I love that there was electricity, friendship, and unity.  I love that being married has meant brave steps (since they've been married for almost a year now!) I love that Becca has jumped headfirst into her art, building a handsome business.  And I love that she has the support and companionship in her dearly beloved opposite.
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(sweet memory: my parent's were guests at this wedding, and mom held two-week-old rowdy for me while i worked.  i loved going through to choose pictures for this post and coming across her in the background, chatting with friends or eating or holding my son.  i'm grateful for this special last wedding event together.)
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The entire day was a noticeably bright, festive, big-fat-great, especially smiley celebration.  These firecrackers have so much fun, new, and ever-different ahead of them.  I'll close with a few lines I read this morning from Seth Rogen, goofy-guy-next-door actor: "In movies they like to portray marriage like 'Oh, the wife and husband are always arguing and bickering. For me and my wife, the easiest part of life is [our] marriage. Like if everything was as smooth and easy and fun as my relationship with my wife then I would have a much easier time getting through the day. We really get along..."  I loved this sentiment, and it is my own personal experience.  I saw it fitting for Becca and Nick because -- despite the odds, the miles, the cheese nachos -- they just get along and sure are crazy about each other.  Happy (late!) Wedding Day!  It was an absolute blast, as I'm sure your marriage and life is as well! (ps.  Happy Birthday, today, Becca!)

Tim + Ica | Jefferson Park Maryland Wedding

i've never been quite as happy as  i am. 
me & mr. cassidy - as happy as i am 
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All seasons, not just the Christmas one, should have carols.   Those festive songs, made for jubilant connection and noisy celebration.  Her name was no mistake, she's a living carol - a human version of elated song.  Irene Carol has been dancing and prancing, laughing and quaking, feeling and giving since she was born.  Her twinkly almond eyes could inspire paintings, and her spontaneous, full-body, arched, boom laugh could be sold in bottles.  She'd make millions.   And when this songbird of a lady planned a wedding day, it could only have gone one way: marvelously.  Not just a nice spring day, but a perfect spring extravaganza.  Not just cute, but sensational.  Not just emotional, but unrestrained and ardent.  It was a day where all the birds were heard, all the smells were enjoyed, all the colors were vibrant and all the hearts swelled.
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โ€œ...she had that something which fires the imagination, that could stop one's breath for a moment by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things. 
She had only to stand in the orchard, to put her hand on a little crab tree and look up at the apples, to make you feel the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last. 
All the strong things of her heart came out in her body, that had been so tireless in serving generous emotions.   She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races.โ€ (willa cather)
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Ica, and her whimsical fashion-sense and chatty brain, met Tim on a blind date six years ago.  They were young munches.  And they played long and hard, and laughed even more than usual.  Tim goofed up on his great "pick-up line" and the chapter started, there was a beginning of "them."  The guitar-playing, energetic, prayer boy had to be with this girl, whose Facebook profile pictures were full of animal print, scrunched noses, confetti, sunsets, beach trips, so.many.friends and that iconic smile.
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Their love is a tested one.  It nearly slipped between their fingers, and was gone forever.  But they fought.  And they waited.  And they chose respect and patience over every other strong emotion in their chests and heads and way into their toes and souls.  They could have said "Forget this!  We want to be together, and we WILL BE."  They could have pushed and forced.  But they trusted a Love bigger their own, and knew He was good - yes, very good.   Smiles had to be forced sometimes, and colors were muted, but there was joy.  And peace.  They prayed and wondered and hoped there would be a day - someday - in their future where they could marry.  Where they could be brought together, in one union, with one name.  Six years.  Six years. Happy singing!  It led them here:
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The bay water wasn't thumping, and birds weren't chirping or rustling.  Blue skies - extra saturated - because, well, color is in their blood and souls.  A heated wind carefully puffed the hungry, crispy, long grass.  But it remained respectful and hushed.  It was as if nature understood the holiness of the moment, and tearily - with baited breath and grinning, smashed lips - was soaking in the moment itself. The distinct lack of white noise was perfect.  Just the clip-clop of Ica's t-straps, the deep, deep sighs coming from either end of the path and an occasional squeak and sniff from the bride.
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And then...
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... comedic timing took over ;)  The grass snarled with Ica's veil and she broke the eerie silence with roars and "Of COURSE"'s and gasps as she tried to catch her breath.  Tim was dying to turn his back and rush to her.  He swayed and joined in her laughter, even though he didn't know what was happening.  I paused taking pictures for a moment to enter into the scene and untangle the tulle.  She eventually continued on her way, laughing and shaking her head at herself.  It couldn't have been greater.
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The jesting and frivolity that easily bonded them, and the strength and depth, that proved to keep them, was all wrapped into that those few minutes.  Like a trailer of their entire relationship.  They prayed and partied.  It was the single best first look I've ever witnessed.
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I couldn't stand it if you kids were inconsiderate, or thought of her as if she were just somebody who looked after you.
You see I was very much in love with your mother, and I know there's nobody like her...โ€  (willa cather)
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Before the wedding Becca predicted that there would be "lots of tears - in a good way."  After the wedding Lydia and I agreed that it was one of, if not THE most, teary ceremonies we'd ever been to.  During Tim's vows even the groomsmen were losing it.   They prayed together at their first look, prayed together during their ceremony, and ran down the aisle, with cheers and hoorays!, to a quiet moment behind the barn so they could pray.   But don't think so much spiritual discipline in action meant for blah or overly-somber.  Oh no.
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This wedding was as vivacious and passionate as weddings get - and it don't hurt that they have spicy, bright, outspoken, sassy friends ;)
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Though I love to write, and am convinced that beautiful writing can enhance a visual story, I sometimes think my words will only hinder the intensity and happy the couple themselves declare.  Maybe that's my creative way of saying: I just don't have words to explain the hope and delight and celebration I saw in the eyes and faces of this new husband and wife.  You'll just have to go back and look at them again.  If you can't see it - if you don't see what I see - then I probably couldn't describe it any better.  But in a word, they were in bliss.
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Mr. and Mrs. Remo, you're near to my heart and this wedding was the answer to truly thousands of prayers.  How sweet it is to experience these days of life?  The "yes's!" from God!  The feasting and the beautiful days!  The "heaven" days - the ones who anticipate and look forward to and await quite eagerly.  You're incredible and will not be leaving this earth unmarked or unloved.  It was a good thing that the Lord brought a Living Carol and a Excited Schoolteacher together... go enjoy singing your life song <3>

ps. I shot this wedding seven months pregnant - which I'm pretty proud about - but I'd be a jerk to not thank Ellie for second-shooting, Lydia for keeping me fed, and Caleb Husband Love Dude Man for doing just about everything else (driving, bag-carrying, battery hunting, and foot-and-ankle-rubbing for the next three days.)

Enjoy Weddings | Ryan + Clairisse | Strong Mansion on Sugarloaf Mountain

so i took my time
oh what a thing to've done
yellow - coldplay
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My last wedding before my own couldn't have been better.
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Hot wedding.  Hot people. The sweat could not be helped.  But neither could the joy.  In a small little mansion room, over fifteen ladies made their way in and out.  There was no walk of life excluded - 70 year old grandmothers and five year old little girls.
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Some people are just cut out for pressure cooker situations.  They can handle them with grace and chill like most society can not.  Clairisse, in her shorts and tank-top, fanned herself and anticipated her day.  It's a beautiful thing to watch kindness when complaining could be so convenient.   Clairisse is, therefore, a beautiful woman.
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Her friends ran to her side and aided the Kindness Cause.  Not a word of fuss or distaste among them.  They simply looked on the bright side, kept creative and complimented everything they could.  
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With temperatures well over 100 and a broken AC unit, we had great fun running around with tissues in our arm-pits and fans galore.  I adore this series:
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Bridesmaid for the win!
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You may recognize these flower girls from my 100th wedding last September.  When Clairisse was in middle school one of her teachers was pregnant.  When the babu girl, Maggie, was born Clair started to baby-sit.  Over the years Maggie happily welcome two sisters into her life, and Clairisse was there for all of it.  Their relationship is quite meaningful and I couldn't help but be moved by the little girls watching their favorite baby-sitter prepare for her wedding.
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But nothing - not even the adorable flower girls - could top the following moment.  With the wedding gown hung in the window, everyone in the room rushed about.  You know: fans, sweating, dressing, hair, make-up, you get it.  All of a sudden Clairisse's mom freezes in the middle of the room, staring at the dress. 
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"I've seen these pictures! And I was with her when she bought this dress! And, oh, it's just so beautiful. And it's here and, oh, my.  Wow."
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Praise God for the little ones to lighten the mood and keep the make-up in tact!  She had us in stitches.
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She is pulchritudinous. (There's a vocab word of the week!) 
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She just got to do what we all wished we could.  Lucky little tot.
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I don't know what the feeling is like for someone who isn't a photographer.  I suppose I have a similar feeling when I realize I made the perfect coaching decision, and that my team was prepared and able to execute.  Or when I make a meal that just, gah, every part of it comes together perfect and right on time and beautiful and delicious.  It's that satisfying, earned "Yeeeehhhhs.  YEHHHSSS!" but you can't vocalize it at all.  You just continue coaching, or serving your meal, or taking pictures.  But the moment I saw Clarisse's dress, I had a vision in my head of what I wanted to create while she put it on.  And it worked.  All the elements came together: her hair was flawless, the light was fantastic, the window sill was wide enough for me to stand on, the 1.2 lens focused abnormally well.  And I've never seen Clair look better.
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The boys kept their cool outside on the flawless property.
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One of my favorite wedding photographs ever, and I didn't take it!  My impressive fiance' second shot with me during this wedding.  And boy oh boy did he nail it.
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Beautiful ceremony to begin a beautiful marriage.
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This could almost come across wrong, and I hope it doesn't, but this wedding was surprisingly grown-up and elegant.  Ryan and Clairisse met in highschool at prom, and have been young loves.  They are fanatical about music (Ryan is the DJ for area proms) and the beach (they even got engaged there!)  I would consider them cool - much cooler than I am - and very, very fun.  I expected them to have great taste.  I expected them to look fiiiine.  I expected them to be welcoming and happy.  But they were so much more.  They carried themselves with classic maturity and graceful depth.  I met Clair in middle school, and, well, I don't know... it just seems like we are still so little.  And even though I know that most of my graduating class is either engaged or married, and I know that I'm about to be a wife myself, it still catches me off guard that we are really starting our families.  And Ryan and Clairisse were just impressively beautiful all day long.  Photobucket
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I'm not even *sure* that this was real life.  
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This wedding was just begging for a black and white series.  Begging.  And bribing me.  I'm a weak woman.
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I love it when cool people are cutesy.  
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But then when cool people dance, I get all self-concious again.  ;)
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Well ain't that romantic! Owww-eee!
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Ryan and Clairisse, I thoroughly enjoyed and even felt honored to be a part of your wedding.  I think you two are a remarkable couple.  Ryan, Clairisse absolutely bubbles over when you say something funny, and her nose is nearly always scrunched.  She watches you in a crowd and relaxes next to you.  Clairisse, Ryan is so tender and genuine with you.  I love seeing his lack of "ego" or need to show-off. He beams with you by his side.  You two impress me.  Your patience, your love of people, your joy.  It's beautiful.
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The tables were named of their favorite albums.  For the win!
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In over 100 weddings, this was easily top three dance parties ever (I would not expect any less from our local DJ!)
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I wish you two an irresistibly fun, continually happy and very, very cool marriage :)

Enjoy Weddings | Sunset Hills Vinyard | Devon + Chet

we will run and scream 
you will dance with me 
weโ€™ll fulfill our dreams and weโ€™ll be free 

learn me right - mumford & sons
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Last minute Devon decided to have me come to the hotel while she, the babies and the ladies dressed themselves.  In the over 100 weddings I've shot, this was my favorite preparation time I've ever shot.  Why was it so special?  Well, the location was a nice but typical hotel room, with a nice but grey view. Their wasn't some chilling soundtrack playing in the background or a spread of gourmet food.  But there was a girl surrounded by friends.  Not surrounded.  CRAMMED.  Two babies, one dad, two hairstylists, one make-up artist, three little girls, a photographer, five bridesmaids (mostly sisters!) and a handful of baby-bumps.   They walked all over each other - and were so kind and relaxed.  Everyone moved like a machine with the calmness of a receding tide.  And everyone was just happy.  And everyone knew each other.  Lauren-the-make-up is my best friend, Courtney's sister, and Ally, the bride's sister, best friend.  See?  It was like that.  Six degrees of separation like whoa.
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(ps. pay attention to these next two shoe shots...)
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Funny little wedding tale :) I love when things go "wrong" but end up making something mundane quite a fun memory.  As I was photographing Devon's beautiful white wedges, I was struggling to get them "lined up" right.  They didn't "fit" together.  I figured it was just the shape of the sole or something.  I decided to take some photos of her gold reception flats, too.  Just so she'd have some good shoe pictures.  It finally dawned on me... These wedges are two left feet! Then I had another thought: What if Devon has some foot disorder and one foot is bent weird and she's supposed to have two left feet.  I don't want to blurt out some insensitive comment if it's supposed to be like that!  I quietly asked one of the sisters.  Devon perked up.  And we all assessed the shoes.  Two left feet AND two different sizes.  This was definitely not right! And, thank goodness, Devon did NOT have a strange malfunctioned foot.  We had to think fast and the best option was for Devon to wear my wedges and I wore her reception flats. I love this picture of me putting my shoes on the bride ;)
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And after a little hitch, it was time to go get married.
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Oh the limo ride.  The bridesmaids all took turns sharing how they met their husbands and fiances and how they got engaged.  I'll never forget it.
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Children are the best things in the planet. 
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Devon had eight nieces and nephews.  She's such a patient and doting aunt, even all dressed-up on her wedding day.  She knew how special was for the little girls to in the wedding, and she never acted like they were a bother or "issue."  No wonder they love her so much.
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One of my favorite set of groom portraits ever :)
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The cellar of the winery was nothing short of fantastic, as were the memories of the final moments before the wedding:
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Cleaning bugs out of the veil:
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Such a big girl having a glass of "wine" ;)
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Not loving the flower crown:
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Auntie snuggles:
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Beaming father-of-the-bride watching in the corner watching his girl:
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They had some hot live musicians!  Everyone should book Twins + Violins ;)
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Beautiful mother of the bride :)
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During their engagement shoot, Chet hesitated to "get into it."  "I'm the guy who always teases everyone for these pictures. 'Oh! Look at you! Rolling in the grass!' 'Sick. You made a wittle heeeeart with your haaaands!' And now I'm in them."  I thought it was pretty funny and promised him these wouldn't be terribly embarrassing.  When I first gathered all the groomsmen together, the first thing I asked was "So, did you get harassed for your engagement pictures? Come on, they weren't too bad."  Chet kind of rubbed his head and looked to the ground.  His friends started chiming in with the rolling in the grass jokes.  Then some dude piped in with "And you better not cry today, man!"  They all laughed about the thought of Chet crying... and Chet assured them that he wouldn't.

But then the moment happened.  The music made your heart jump, the setting was unearthly and his bride was coming.  He fought those tears hard.  He knowingly looked over at his best man who had the perfect and most supportive thing to say: Just let 'em go, dude, let 'em go.  And that he did.
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The wee babes. F'real.  With their flower crowns. F'-lipping-real.
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Such a dreamy kiss. Siiiigh.
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Another little tale: the week Devon returned from her honeymoon, Devon was at my bridal shower.  With jokes, gifts and excitement... When I first met Devon in middle school days, that is where I imagined her.  I pictured us being at each other's weddings, laughing and teasing all the day long.  Devon, I don't know if you quite know how special it was for me to watch you, with the man you love, on your wedding day.  I'm thrilled for you.  You are a rare one - and I knew it even when I was a stupid, salty, really really weird kid.   Chet is a good man.  And you have never dazzled more, my friend.  Your family adores (and needs!) you.  Your friends thrive off your energy.  And I hope this day was more than you could have ever dreamed of.
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Grandma's pearl necklace... the one she wears every day.
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Hee hee hee ;)
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Happy, joyous, wonderful, memorable and dearly fun wedding!  If your marriage is anything like your wedding day, you will have quite a lifetime together :)  Let's get dinner together, soon.  I'll bring the Cup o' Noodles this time :)

Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 9



the sails of memory rip open in silence

the white caps of memory
confusing and violent
josh ritter - change of time
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part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 part 7 | part 8
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Shamefully nestled into my seat, knowing that the all the passengers were staring at me (I was sure of it), I pulled out my phone to text Caleb.  "Good bye!  Thank you for coming! I had a wonderful time with you."  The flight attendant gave my eyes.  I shut my phone off and literally within 90 seconds of sitting in my seat, the plane was moving to the runway.


I looked out my tiny window and scanned the big airport window.  Caleb was standing inside the giant window, watching the flying bird carrying his crush soar away into a rising sky.  He cried.  I couldn't see him but I knew he was standing there.  The sunrise.  The sudden departure.  The whole "event" of chasing this girl all the way down to Florida.  He couldn't help but cry.


A teary cowboy watched my plane until there was nothing more to watch and he moseyed over to his terminal.  He had to take a train and go through security again (all alone.)  He successfully found his building and security line, so he started through the still intimidating and not natural routine of "ID and boarding pass out, take shoes off, grab two bins, suitcase up, ID and boarding pass put away, boom, boom, wave through, grab your things, GET REDRESSED AND PACKED LIKE MAD."  Moving a touch slow for everyone's taste, he neatly set his wallet and phone in a gray box.  Then he decided to just stick them inside his lady-leather carry-on.  When he opened the zipper he saw a neatly folded paper towel.  Even though it was early in the morning, before I left I managed to scribble a little note onto a paper towel.  I had intended to write a note on a card, or at least a piece of paper, but in between Listerine swishes and buttering bagels, a paper towel was the best I could do.

"Hey friiiiiend!  Thank you for coming.  Seriously.  What an awesome, surprising, fun, memorable Christmas.  Spontaneous is best, right?  You are an amazing guy (who has an amazing taste in jackets ;-) Thank you for that, again.  I'm wearing it now + still love it.  I hope I wasn't too annoying, Craig haha  Talk to you... soon? Def.  Kristen! ps. Click!"


He stopped in his tracks and he labored to read every word.  When Caleb does something, he does it only and fully. His focus is incredible, his multi-tasking suffers for it.  There he was, mid-security line, shoe-less, with an open bag, standing perfectly still reading a paper towel as workers and passengers flitted around him.  He nearly cried again.  He thought the note was so sweet.  How did she stick this in here?  I never saw her near my bag!  That sneaky little girl.  "Excuse me, sir."  A morning flyer brought Caleb to reality and he realized the line was backing up on him and there was no one ahead of him anyone.  With a few tucks, slides, beeps and "Go ahead's" Caleb was on his way back to Oklahoma.


From December 27 until the end of January we had fun being long-distance "just friends."  The past two weeks had been quite a roller-coaster and we needed a chance for our feelings to settle, our brains to snap into normal, and our hearts to have the freedom to try.  Our talks were rarely shorter than an hour and a half and consistently longer than three hours.  Caleb usually had to wake up for a full 10-hour construction work day at 5:00 or 6:00 am, so talks that lingered until 2:00 am were very exhilarating at first, but eventually kind of exhausting for him.  Nonetheless we texted or talked every single day.  Caleb had never had a girl dig and chip away and search him out the way that I did, and I had never had a guy be so honest, precious and just... happy!.... the way Caleb was.  With all the hours of lovely conversation building, I was still very hesitant on my end.  It was the "this all looks perfect on paper, but does he really fit with me?  Does this feel the way it's supposed to feel?" "thing."  Because, you see, our conversations were often and regularly about deep discussion topics and long "oh! I have a good story!" but there was absolutely that addicting flirty banter back and forth.  He had a slew of nicknames for me... Little Girl, City Girl, Little, Girly Girl, City Slicker and Snipe.  My nicknames for him were as obvious as Cowboy or SlimJim, to Claude and Craig, to Wheat Thins and Granola.  I'm such a sweatheart ;)  But I knew he liked me, a lot, even though he didn't come out and say it.
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texting allll the time...

He told me he thought I was very pretty.  He never missed a phone call.  He always affirmed how much he enjoyed our conversations and, well, me.  He thanked me for taking his call every time we spoke.  He made me laugh with his innocent formality.  He told me that I made him want to be a better man.  That he'd never met a single girl like me.  That he can't believe I would even want to talk to him. I was more guarded in my compliments, but felt similarly.  Incredible man.  Never met one like him.  SHOCKED that he wants to talk with me.  I was sure I would be "too much" for him and scare him away.  I was determined through all these phone calls and texts to be myself and not who I thought he was looking for.  I was determined to ask real and hard questions.  I was determined to joke with my sense of humor, and not tone it down because I thought he was more conservative than I was.  (I'll never forget the night I taught him what "That's what she said..." means, and how he whipped a TWSS joke minutes later.  It would be like your grandmother saying that... It was hilarious.  Too much fun.)


But I didn't have "the butterflies."  As we connected more and more, and as he slowly started opening up to me, and getting off his "script" the more nervous I found myself.  I don't want to hurt him.  He's so nice.  He's been so patient.  And protected.  Should we even keep talking?  You know the drill ;)  I "liked" him (what wasn't to like?!) but I wasn't sure if I liked-him-liked-him.  His personality was so simple, so slow, so thoughtful and quiet.  That is never what I pictured for myself.  I pictured someone like my dad: loud, hilarious, outgoing, opinionated, in command, never without words to say!  And here I found myself night after night in steady, patient dialogue with a shy, unsure, gentle man.  What the what?


One night at Costco over our $1.25 meals, I unveiled my deep and totally not over-exxagerated hypothesis of Caleb and I to Dre and Becca.  "Well, it's like this:  there are four main things you must have:  Character/Morals, Physical Attraction/Chemistry, Same Life Goals and Personality Connection.  [By the way, I don't know where I got that from or why I decided now was the time to assess such matters, but I was pretty adamant that I knew my stuff.] Caleb is totally hot, he's practically perfect when it comes to character and walk with the Lord, and we have the EXACT same life goals and view for our future.  But our personalities?  I don't know if we fit."  Apparently I'd never heard the phrase "Opposites attract."


I called a good friend, Kelley, and she gave me some good advice:  Let your head do the talking, and see if your heart follows.  If he's a good man, a good friend, and you find him decently attractive, don't bail too soon.  The best relationships start with solid friendships and often romance follows.  Be patient.  This is normal.  It's okay.  It was very helpful, but I was still on edge.


An old ER re-run summed it up perfectly for me: "I spend 23 hours a day wondering whether weโ€™re wrong for each other, wondering whether we've got the energy that we need to get through everything that we seem to get into, whether the baggage we both bring would sink a small ship. But in the 24th hour, I realize Iโ€™ve been thinking about [him] for 23 hours and I come back to there's something about [him], I canโ€™t stay away from. Something about [him], that makes me want to love [him]."


As confused as I was about my feelings, I distinctly remember how strange it was to end our phone calls with just "Good night" and not "Good night, I love you."  I bit my tongue and often almost said "I love you!" many times.  I had to stop myself.  I didn't feel in love - like I said before, I wanted to know where those stupid butterflies were!  They were still caterpillars, but don't worry nervous Kristen, they were there.  Not in the form you imagined, or the way you were looking for them. It's only a change of time.  Time, Love. Time, Love. If Caleb ever had a night where he couldn't talk on the phone, I felt desperately alone, even a room full of my best friends.  If he didn't text me after work like usual, I would unnecessarily have an emotional shutdown because he had probably met another girl that day.  It was all quite weird.  I never forgot about him.  He was constantly on my mind. Yet I constantly worried and "what-if'd."  Women.


In the middle of January Caleb announced that he had a surprise for me. Ooooo! I like surprises!  What is this, my good sir! He was coming to Maryland in a couple weekends.  He was coooming to seeEee me.  In the ciiiIiity. Because he miiiIiissed me.  And wants to seeeEe me.  (Said in the Sandra Bullock "Miss Congeniality" voice.)  


I started making plans.  Okay!  On Friday we'll have dinner with my dad and Courtney, then on Saturday we'll do DC with the Klesses, but during the day we'll see Lydia and my small group friends, Sunday we'll go to Chipotle with Kyle and Ashley, then have Thai with Julie and David.  Maybe Lydia and Courtney can come to that, too?  He'll stay at the Remsnyder's so we'll see them for lunch on... hm.  Maybe Saturday?  No.  Breakfast on Saturday!  We have to ride the Metro.  And he has to go to Adam's Morgan and discover what real pizza tastes like.  And the monuments!  He's never been to such a big city! Let alone the nation's Capital! 


I couldn't help myself.  I counted down the days until his arrival, I discovered that he had another surprise up his sleeve (which was to come into town early enough to watch me coach my beloved basketball team), I meal and menu-planned.  I grocery shopped and prepared food (making sure his favorites snacks were on hand). I made GRAPHS and LISTS.  I even spent an entire afternoon picking my outfits, washing the Grand Prix Winners, and then hanging them on coordinating hangers (complete with underwear, shoes and socks!) and lining them across doorways in my bedroom.  No, I didn't likelike this guy at all. 


January 21 couldn't come fast enough for this not-planner, totally-crushing, in-denial girl.  But it came.  In classic Kristen and Caleb glory.  Caleb's plan was to get into Baltimore around noon.  I was going to pick him up and drive him back to my apartment (my dad was also in town and staying at my apartment with me) where we would feast on Spicy Bacon Pasta in White Sauce with green beans, and cream puffs for dessert!  After lunch we would head over to school at 3:00 pm for warm-ups and the game.  At 6:00 am Caleb sat on his plane in Oklahoma, ready for the weekend of a lifetime.  And he sat.  And sat.  And... sat.  Thanks to mechanical problems, his plan to Detroit was two hours late.  Which, of course, meant that he would probably miss his lay-over.  Which meant, of course, that he would not be getting into Maryland at 11:55 am.  And of course the next flight into Baltimore landed at 6:45 pm.  We texted rapidly.  I sat on the computer looking for American Airlines flights from Detroit to Washington DC, not Baltimore.  If Caleb's flight could leave by 8:15 am, he could *maybe* get on the DC flight and land there at 3:45 pm.  My game started at 4:00 and DC traffic is what nightmares are made of, but I thought it could work.  I rallied the troops together.  Lydia was going to be my hero and pick Caleb up wherever he flew in, at whatever time he got there.  We all waited and prayed while Caleb was in Detroit: prayed for no weather storms, prayed for an available seat, prayed for HIM TO FREAKING GET HERE AND EAT THE BUCKETS OF FOOD AWAITING HIM.  


When Caleb landed in Detroit he sprinted to a Ticket Counter Helper Lady and tried to explain his situation.  He later told me that she was trying not to laugh at him the whole time. He was gasping for breath, stuttering his words, slightly moist and very country flustered.  She got his flight changed.  He had plenty of time to board.  Nonetheless, he scurried into a sea of rolling suitcases and gossip magazines and she called after him "You don't have to run!  You're going to make it!"  He ran.  One thing on his mind at a time, remember? And only his third airport experience in his life.  Poor sweet boy.  What a beautiful mess.


Happily, he landed in enough time to get to the second-half of my game.  He and Lydia chatted about trees and travel on their way to the gym.  I, thank God, was coaching the closest game of my life, so I was very focused and undistracted.  But after a time out I looked up out of the stands and saw his head in a back-row of seats.  A moth flew from my belly button to my right ear.  Mmmmm. Boy was he cute.  
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after a basketball victory for me and a travel victory for he, we celebrated with a fancy dinner and matching clothes ;)

After the game (which we won on a last-second three pointer, talk about impressive!) Dad, Lydia, my assistant coach and long-time bestie Courtney, and Caleb came up to talk.  This was the first time we were introduced to The Caleb Stare.  Caleb would just stare at me, even if I wasn't talking.  Walking to the car: staring.  While I drove home: staring.  After I got changed for dinner: staring.  On the metro: staring.  At Ruth's Chris Steakhouse with Dad and Courtney: staring.  His eyes were as large as a prize-winning cow, and his lips were as closed as a Chick-fil-a on Sunday.   I think he was kind of in shock that he was really there.  That this girl he had actually developed a friendship with was now in person again.  And he was in her world.  And underneath all the respectful, kind, agreeable, perfectly-ironed button-ups, there was a guy in great distress.  All his wrong worldviews of "having to know that a girl is 'the one' before 'courting' her" were messing with him.  He was having a hard time enjoying himself.  He'd pray, nearly constantly, God, is she the one?  I think she is... That means I can ask her out?  Man, I don't know.  I haven't heard you say that's she's the one.  He was feeling guilty for what was completely innocent.  He was very heavy with what should be very carefree and light!  
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becca pulled some sneaky iPhone  moves during our DC dinner to capture "the caleb stare." i can't stand how funny these pictures are to me. SO good. 

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It wasn't just a matter of "dating preferences."  This was the beginning of an overhaul of his entire spiritual life and way of thinking.  If his view on finding your spouse was wrong, maybe everything had been wrong? No.  Certainly not.  But what was right and what was wrong?  How do you know you are supposed to do?  As he stared at me, in the middle of a meal with friends, these were the thoughts going on in his mind.  I thought he just thought I was the most stunning girl he'd EVER seen and he couldn't take his eyes of me... so I didn't mind too much ;)  
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we had to make our oklahoman guest feel welcome in the big city! world war two memorial for the win :)

Our packed schedule kept us on our toes, especially since we attended church and two funerals while he was in town.  The Sunday he was here was also the five-year-anniversary of his brother Joel passing away.  Anyone who has done long-distance dating knows how happy and hard those "whirlwind weekends" can be.  So much pent-up excitement and longing and expectation comes to reality and it's much more exhausting, confusing and yet irresistible than you're expecting.  It's a wonderful madness.  But we probably did try to do too much.  Every meal was "booked" with someone, we got my iPhone fixed at the mall, we shopped a little, we spent one freezing (no, really, my bones ached) cold night in DC with Dre and Becca, and we'd stay up talking and staring for far too long. 
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a quick shot after church - still one of my favorite pictures of us.  i remember being so happy.
We also touched toes for the first time.  Yes.  After another near death experience in the cold, Caleb and I came back to my apartment.  I wanted to introduce him to this unheard of show I constantly quoted: The Office.  So we turned on Season One, Episode One.  We sat on the couch with our feet up on the coffee table.  My dad was in the other room shuffling around.  We each had our own separate blankets and we sat on opposite ends of the couch with the laptop in the middle of us.  Michael Scott annoyed his receptionist as Caleb adjusted his covers and nestled into the couch a little bit better.  And his big toe touched mine.  My insides turned into a tanning bed.  From my collar bone to my belt I felt orange hot and pulsing.  Pam talked about water colors.  I could feel my toes being washed away.  I held perfectly still, almost acting as if my big toe was made of glass and if I moved it it would crack into tiny pieces and for the rest of my life I'd never have the chance to let Caleb's toe bump into mine ever again.  All I could think about for the next 24 minutes plus commercials was getting his foot back near mine.  He mostly just stared at me.  
That night Caleb didn't leave until 3:30 am (even though we had to take him to the airport at 5:30 am). We talked, played tag, dressed-up, snacked, unfortunately didn't touch toes anymore, sang songs, talked, joked, laughed, talked and fought to stay awake for these last precious minutes together.  An hour and a half of sleep was all we needed.  We won't be "just friends" for long.  Maybe he'll fly back in a week or two? Ask me out?  I don't think he'll do it over the phone... but come on, this is obviously a good thing we've got here.  This is so much fun.  Time is flying!  We're so comfortable around each other!  Gosh darn it his toes are phenomenal!  And toes are gross!  We, with crunch in our eyes, salt on our tongues and stink on our morning-bodies, drove over an hour to the airport. We talked while the sun rose.  We talked while traffic brought us to a halt.  We talked while he stared. We talked all the way to the drop-off loop where I slipped another paper-towel note into his bag.  His flight departed in 30 minutes, so he did what he does at airports: run.  


And I drove away in a daze, dreaming about the next time I got to see that cowboy "friend" of mine.  He, on the other hand, was very, very concerned and worried.  Unbeknownst to me, the tides had begun to turn...


to be continued...

Enjoy Project | Wedding Photography Revelations

creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
albert einstein
   


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My new favorite tumblr is What Shall We Call Wedding Photography.  It's dead on.  I laughed out loud at every page.  Wow. Special thanks to Rachel Clarke for sending it my way! The site has brought about a new little idea.  Wedding Photography Revelations - not an original or brilliant concept, but possibly fun to share.


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What's In My Camera Bag
Every photographer has their preferred "lens bag" to use while shooting.  Shoot Sac (that's me!). Boda. Ona. Kelly Moore. Some bag from Target (that's me, too!).  We blog about what we have in these bags during weddings.  Two lenses, a battery, memory cards, business cards, some chapstick, keys and an iPhone. Um.  I have a food pocket.  I'm a first class snack thief.  It all starts with the bridesmaids early in the wedding day.  Panera bagels sliced in half?  Cheese and crackers and grapes? Cherry tomatoes?  Stashed.  Like a fat-faced little squirrel.  Watch for it - my bag has weird bulges.  Then cocktail hour happens and I snipe bacon quiches and chicken quesadillas like a 15-year-old boy snipes looks at his crush.  Quickly and constantly.

There are limits to my Food Sac abilities, however.  Nothing with dressing (eh, who needs the calories!) and nothing too mushy (like cake.)  Obviously nothing liquid.  I've never sniped pasta or meat - but give me time.  If it can fit inside a napkin and keep it's shape, it goes in the Food Pocket (and quickly to my mouth.)  It's like a an adventure within an adventure.  The goal is to acquire, store and consume the food without anybody seeing.  The key is to keep busy - you can't become very still and then move fast.  You have to walk and shoot and ope! there's a cucumber! and walk and bend down and shooting shoes now! and I need to move to better light with the shoes and walk and eat and shoot and walk.  It's thrilling.

"Oh, well, I just bring my own granola bars and trail mix to weddings." Cool.  Then you're more of a squirrel than I am.  With your nuts and berries.  I'm sorry, even if I have a Cliff Bar with me, the mini-corn dog always wins.  Besides, when I whip out my bars while everyone else is eating real food, I feel like the baby in a highchair gnawing on Gerber Puffs while everyone else feasts on homemade ravioli and bruschetta.  I want real food, too!

So I snatch it for myself in my camera bag.  Now you know.  And I feel free!

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This post was inspired by the following "What Shall We Call Wedding Photography" posts.
-Because after I hoard food all day? I feel terrible.  Just like this.
-Oh, and this little fellow has the proper technique.  Avoid eye contact, grab fast, eat furious.


Enjoy Pinterest | Prints + Images


I don't think my favorite blog posts on other people's blogs are the "Here are some of my Pinterest pins!" posts.  I'm kind of like "Well, if I wanted to know what is on your Pinterest, I'd look there."  So I don't know why I'm posting this Pinterest post?  I'M A HYPOCRITE? Okay?  ;)
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kris atomic
I actually feel bloody attractive in my giant-to-my-knees-hoodie and giant-past-my-knees-basketball-shorts.  Especially if I haven't shaved in a bit!
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busy bee lauren
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felt & wire shop
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marta writes

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penguin delight
Not to go all rambly about money and careers, but gracious is this true.  I'm learning to love those things in life that cost nearly nothing.  We recently took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course.  Our biggest "change" in lifestyle is the way we spend, especially on food.  Caleb and I don't live together, but practically every night after work, a shower and a change of clothes, he comes over to my house for dinner.  Our goal is about $1.75 per meal per person, making the monthly food budget $150 (each).  It's so much fun to try to meet this goal.  I think the process is even more fun than the results!  It makes eating out a huge treat; one that we feel like we've really earned and are ever-so-blessed by.  It's not for everyone, but it's helped to enjoy simplicity and not be as fearful about "will we be able to afford next month?"
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kitschy living 
Last exciting randomness of the day? I'm Kristen the Facebook Page has 1,000 likes!  That was a nice little milestone to realize yesterday :D  Ah, the simple things. Hannah Kurtz, you made my day!
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Now to the rest of you? No Pinterest posts, okay? ;)  Juuuust kidding.

Enjoy Project | Making Things | Memories + Food + Books

"we ate well and cheaply, 
and drank well and cheaply,
... and loved each other."
ernest hemingway | a moveable feast    
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(I think I need this for our new "married" house, come August.  It's exactly what I hope our marriage will be.)

For our one year anniversary last month I finally became an official girlfriend/fiance'.  I made a memory book. Everyone knows that the sign of true love is a memory book.  And homemade gift certificates (for things like back rubs, long hugs, homemade meals and "one-watch-whatever-movie-you-want!")  But we did gift certificates aaaaaages ago.  One Year of Together seemed liked the perfect time for this book!

The cover was all cool and trendy and modern and "whoa" with our first yellow-pink plastic spoon combo.  The first time we got frozen yogurt we used these spoons.  It's tradition now! 
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Then I had to do a collage.  Because.  Doing 213 of them in middle school just wasn't enough.  
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This page is from December 2010! How has it gone so quickly?Photobucket
I can't wait to tell this part of the story...
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And this part of the story!
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I can't wait to use this idea again!  Wrapping presents in pages from travel magazines? Uuuh, so fun.
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CalebCaleb loved it.  Now we can really get married ;)
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The next three pictures are just for the joy of food.  Go make Smitten Kitchen's Roasted Buttermilk Chicken.  And then eat it on your deck.  Or sidewalk.  Or roof.  Or at least near a window.  It's the good life.
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Last month I made mini-cheesecakes.  I asked Caleb to put the berries on top.  I was expecting maybe a strawberry on one, three black berries on another, something like that?  Or art.  My little Cheescake Angel.  Bless his heart.
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Lastly, a sweet lady named Lori e-mailed a picture of her gorgeous daughter with the cinnamon pull-apart bread I made in March.  (Remember how neat and orderly I was?)  Lori's e-mail made my day!  And I couldn't help but show you all, too!
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So I guess this post can really be all tied together with the above pin: "We ate well and cheaply, and drank well and cheaply... and loved each other." Such a good life.  

Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 5

time, love. time, love.
time, love.
it's only a change of time.
josh ritter - change of time   

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part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4
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The dryer hadn't buzzed yet.  It was time to leave.  I hadn't checked in online.  I hadn't printed my boarding pass.  I hadn't finished blogging like I planned.  My clothes were still damp.  Oh well, into the carry-on they go!  I stuffed, zipped and hobble-hobble-hobbled out the door and down to my car.  There probably won't be any traffic, it's the middle of the day.  I have no idea what is in my suitcase.  Do I have my license? Oh gosh. I paused in the parking lot of my own apartment complex - where I lived on my own.  The concept was still very new to me.  I hadn't even paid my third full month of rent yet.  Life was very happy and my house still felt a little bit like a hotel or vacation home.  I invited friends (ranging in age from one year-olds to my mom's friends in their 50's!) over constantly.  My heart was so full when people enjoyed my house.  Mornings were fun, but after that being alone was stinky.  I craved seeing familiar faces by dinnertime.  
With my damp, unplanned luggage in tow, I zipped over to the airport in Baltimore.  I'd already gone to visit my parents in Florida a few weeks prior.  Now it was time to go see that funny couple I loved so much.  We had waved good-bye to them in August and it was already nearly November.  I was slightly proud of myself for being the only friend who actually made plans to visit them.  Though not much of a hugger, I wanted to give Becca a hug.  And hear some Andree humor.  And to see ALL there is to see in Oklahoma (apparently I didn't need more than 72 hours to visit everything important in the state.)  The two best friends were not Oklahoma boasters.  I had heard from them that the memorial downtown, the farmers market and a cool place called Pops on Route 66 were the only fun things in all of the area.  Oh! And Big Truck Taco.  Whoooa. Sounds like SO much fun. Woooo-eee. Rah. Rah. Can. Not. Wait.  Ha.
This would be a good trip, I decided, to focus on people.  Not everywhere has to be beautiful or inspiring.  Sometimes it's just about who you are with and nothing more.  You see, this trip was not only going to include seeing a much-missed couple but also doing a family shoot for a project I was working on.  A project about real marriage and proven love.  I'm perfectly addicted to shooting weddings, and waving good-bye to lovers on day one of their marriage.  But who photographs day 132 when they get into their first sort-of big fight? And who photographs the triumph in her eyes on day 216 when he says the meal she made tastes better than his mothers version? And who photographs day 1,824 when the couple still isn't pregnant, after wanting a baby so badly?  Or perhaps day 1,824 is filled with tears from mama and tots, who all need daddy to come home.  Now.  Who takes pictures of the husband in line at the grocery store with a little bouquet of flowers for his woman, over 2,000 days from their wedding? Who photographs day 4,991 when work is just at a dead-halt, and with bags under their eyes and fears inside their hearts, two people discuss options.  They weren't expecting to still have money issues "this far" in.  Who is there to photograph daddy mowing the lawn with his little dude following behind with a plastic toy, while mom and her quite grown-up daughter talk about what they want to do for her birthday this year?  Who is there for those long, beautiful, days that become long, beautiful years, where they "come together, fall apart, break each other's heart"?  "When the sound of little feet, is the music, they dance to week to week?"  I was (and still am) hungry to study marriages, not just wedding days.  I wanted to do photoshoots where I not only took pictures of people, but heard the whole story.  Where I asked lots of questions.  Where I took my time becoming emotional and inspired by their life and marriage.
With this desire in my heart (among other things!) I was moved to tears as I read a blog called "Joel's Journey."  A friend had showed it to me, and I spent one humid afternoon laying on a mattress in an empty house reading the story of a marriage.  Terry and Cindy Morris had a wedding day.  The had the smiling, waving, cheerful day one.  Someone was there to take pictures.  It was beautiful and good.  By day 7,331 they had become parents to 13 children on their Oklahoma farm, and one of them was getting ready to say good-bye to his family for a little while.  No one knew that little Joel wasn't going to be in their arms for 90 more days.  No one knew that the funny, root-tootin', round-headed three year old had a tumor.  But they found out.  I read from the beginning, with no ability to stop my body's response to the story, and though I knew Joel had died, I found myself cheering for him and his family.  I read about their initial doctors visits, their car rides back and forth, Joel leaving his home and farm for the last time (which, of course, they didn't know would be when it happened).  I read about his brain failure, but his little heart beating away.  I read about holidays and birthdays celebrated in his hospital room. Hours of reading and music and cuddles from mom, dad and his twelve best friends.  I read about the kind nurses and the cold nurses.  I read about the gut-wrenching search for a doctor who would continue to treat Joel (the hospital he was in refused to since his brain was dead, even though his heart was still beating and the family wanted him to be treated.)  I read about the Morris family being sued and having to go to court in the middle of caring for their son.  I read about the medical staff ignoring Joel's room, and Terry learning how to take care of him by researching online.  I read about the day that they decided to let Joel go back to the farm to let him be comfortable in his own house.  I read about little Hosanna's birthday party in his hospital room while they waited for an ambulance to take Joel home.  I read about the ambulance not making it in time.  I read about the entire Morris family surrounding Joel as he left our wearisome world and was healed forever.  


Cindy held him and wept. Terry was by her side. The children propped each other up, heartbroken.  Joel walked in a world they've never seen, but believe is more real than this earth.  He was greeted in paradise with cheers and open arms.  Joel will never hurt again, and will never die again.  He went home.  Home home.  It is very good that Joel lives in Heaven.  It is sharply sad that Joel is so missed by his family.  I read on their blog their hope in the promise of their God:  they WILL be reunited with Joel someday.  They WILL touch him and see his precious round face.  He is alive, and he is with God.  
I cried. Oh, I cried.  I could hardly make it through the next few years of blog posts.  The posts of fight and fear and questions and belief.  I was cut to the quick.  It's not often you come across such a real, vulnerable story.  I almost felt like I knew this family after I read their blog.  I wanted to know more about their story, and hear about the marriage that made it through the storm.  The marriage that is still walking through the storm.  I contacted Cindy and a shoot was planned.  Yes.  This trip would be about people.  This trip to Oklahoma would be about hugging Becca, laughing with Andree, meeting Cindy and Terry, and learning about their life and family.  Who cares if the state is boring?  It's not like I'm staying there or anything.  
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With visions of miles and miles of flat nothing, lots of cows, big trucks and more nothing, I flew.  After landing, I realized my visions weren't flat enough.  And didn't imagine enough cows, trucks and nothing.  But I didn't care, my evening was happily spent with friends, eating soup and, yes, hugging.  Friday night came to a close and I slept on the couch (like usual) in my travel clothes, with all my make-up on.  
The next morning I did not pop right off the couch.  I groaned.  Where is my phone? And are my teeth made out of cottontails? Blech.  My eyes felt like the saltine crackers I had crunched into the soup.  The rim of my hair was sweaty.  I could feel it.  Where is my phone? I thwacked and patted the couch.  I stood up and it slid down the blanket as I shook it out.  AH-ha!  I checked the time, hoping I had at least an hour to take a shower and freshen up before the shoot.  Besides, I still had airplane peanut salt in my nails. No such luck.  I had about 15 minutes to get myself out the door.  Maybe even less.  Darn it darn it darn it.  
This photoshoot needed to start on time.  Mrs. Morris made it abundantly clear to me that her oldest boys needed to get to work as soon as possible.  Our 9 am start time was already cramping their groove.  I had seen on her blog that her oldest boys (twins!) had bought 25 acres of land (with cash!) and that they spent their Saturdays and evenings building their houses.  On a normal Saturday they would be at Home Depot by 6:00 am getting supplies.  Getting to the job site at 10:00 am was down right disgraceful!  "As soon as you finish taking their pictures, they'll need to go!  I think they're a little frustrated with me, makin' em take family pictures! But you know what, they just need to deal with it!"  I laughed in agreement.  Yes, suck it up, put on a smile and deal with it.  
I was a flurry that morning.  I pulled out my favorite black skirt.  It was still damp.  At least it smelled like Lavender Fields.  But you know how damp clothes fit.  They hang "heavy" and don't quite flatter.  I had a soft red cardigan to wear with my favorite black skirt.  It too was a little damp.  The cuff of the sleeve was loose and wide.  And for some reason the cardigan was more rounded then straight.  Just bad.  I shook and snapped it, hoping to give my favorite sweater a little life in it's veins.  Nothing.  I had a tight little black tank-top to wear underneath my cardigan.  Except that I didn't.  I thought I had a slim-fitted black camisole, but I guess in my packing rush I grabbed the wrong top out of the dryer.  Instead I had a flowy, loose, butterfly-sleeved, long, semi-pleated black Gap shirt.  Darn it.  I tucked the too-big top into my skirt and tried to arrange it neatly so that it might look like a smooth tank.  Instead I looked like a breast-feeding mother smuggling hamburgers .  It bunched in the back and gave me love handles.  It bunched in the front and gave me a trapezoid shaped mid-section.  Whatever.    


At this point I still hadn't addressed my face. Oh lordy.  A few days before this trip I decided to give myself bangs.  Bangs that started at my ears.  They were bad bangs.  They weren't cute like Zooey or Carrie or Liv.  Besides the fact that they were too wide (I've since learned that bangs are supposed to start at the end of your eyebrows, not the end of your forehead), they were also too thin.  And thanks to my complete lack of self control and ability to get myself ready for bed, set an alarm, and wake up on time, I found my self arranging a greasy wheat shoot field along my scalp.  When in Romeโ€ฆ? The rest of my hair was no better.  Flat, half-wavy, half-straight and quite split-end-y.  I wedged two bobby-pins in the back of my head, creating one of the most unfortunate half-up half-down hair styles I've ever seen.  On to my skin.  I swirled and swirled my powder foundation, leaving puffs of the make-up all over the bathroom counter.  Make-up never goes on well without moisturizer.  The powder just perched on my face like birds on a telephone line.  Darn it.  I forgot deodorant.  And eye-liner.  And toothpaste.  With a quick mascara application, apple breakfast and squirt of Becca's perfume, I danced out the door in my boots (but not in my socks.  Because I forgot socks too.)
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The drive was quiet and calm.  Maybe the country is a little pretty in the morning.  My feet itched in my shoes.  Oh my gosh, my nails.  I was going to take this chipping polish off.  Oh well.  Before long, I found myself bumping along a gravel road, which dead-ended at a long dirt road, which led to a gravel driveway and the Morris property.  
The big red barn in the background proved that this was a farm.  Not that the little cowboy boots all over the yard, bleeting goat sounds, red-dirt soaked pick-up trucks in the driveway, playful dogs, crunchy and rolling fields, the parked dirtbike, horseshoe decor in the garden and stillness in the air wasn't enough.  Rap rap rap on the door was followed by running foot-steps, "MOoOOOOm!", muffled shutting doors, a little face in the window (that disappeared after a fast smile), and eventually the door opened by a lovely woman, dressed in black, purple and denim. "HI! Welcome! Welcome!"  There is no awkward confusion over whether you shake hands or hug here.  Cindy grinned and collected toys off the ground while walking into the cozy, country-themed living room.  Terry appeared with open arms, too.  He has story-eyes.  Good man story eyes.  And both Terry and Cindy looked much younger than I was expecting.  "We're running a little behind, I'm so sorry!  Oh, and Bethany is sick.  She was almost too sick to even get out of bed this morning.  But! She's a trooper!  She's getting ready! I'm going to help everyone get themselves fixed.  Make yourself at home!"  


I stood in front of the giant wooden table, with enough benches and chairs to seat 20 people.  To my right was a kitchen in the middle of renovation, to my left was a small TV room and an open door.  An arm stretched out past the open door and I saw the back of a tall boy putting on a black button-up shirt.  I turned away and sat down on a wooden wagon-wheel love seat.  Kids and animals slowly made their way into the living room.  The older kids introduced themselves and shook my hand.  The younger kids came in packs and would avoid eye contact as they popped out from behind walls and furniture.  I couldn't keep all the names straight.  Including Joel, the Morris' have nine sons.  There were boots-wearing, jean-clad, trimmed-hair, tan, cute boys everywhere.  All dressed in black or purple.  Some changing outfits in between viewings.  I didn't even try to remember their names!
It seemed that everybody was just about ready.  There were probably ten people in the living-room-kitchen-great-room when Daniel came down the hall and said hello.  Following right behind was Caleb.  Apparently these two put up a good olโ€™ fashioned stink about having to miss precious weekend time to build.  For family pictures nonetheless! They're too respectful to argue, but Iโ€™m sure there was stomping around in the bedroom, watching the clock constantly.  Muttering disappointments to each other.  Though the 23-year-old twins were tall and toned with fantastic jawlines, I was hardly impressed.  They were much too thin for my taste, and they both had matching stiff-gel-shlacked  hair-do's.  Their faces looked like chiseled statues that didn't move.  I'm not kidding.  Their facial expression was just that: an expression.  One. Singular.  They stood perfectly straight, with crisp owl-like head movements, and serious, focused looks.  I wanted to shake them and say "CHillllLLLl oooouut!"  The reader must keep in mind that I felt about as attractive as a bag of frozen bagel bites.  I was kind of crushing on a guy back home, but was mostly burnt-out with guys and trying to meet them.  


Besides, from what I could tell from the little bit I saw on their mothers blog and Facebook, it seemed that both the twins had their sights set on other girls.  Not to mention that I knew they were a part of a famously conservative homeschool program (the same one that the Duggar's of 19 Kids and Counting are in), so I knew that I would NOT be the kind of girl ANYone in this household would take seriously.  That last sentence was very judgmental of me, but also came from fairly reliable information about families in this organization.  Many have told tales of being snapped at for wearing pants and "dressing like a harlot."  Let's not even talk about crazy music choices, like Taylor Swift and Beyonce'!  All that to say, I had no mixed motives when I entered that household.  No part of me even remotely thought "I wonder if I'll meet a cute dude here! Giddyup!"  


Caleb walked over and shook my hand.  I hardly remember it. I hardly cared. I promptly began counting children and asked to get this shoot going.  


Caleb, on the other hand, felt sparks. 

Enjoying People + Videos | Oh My My My Video Series

when will you learn that there isn't a word for everything?
nicole krauss
Originally I had intended to show you friends one of my all-time favorite date nights.  I had recorded some video footage during the date and yesterday I set off to make those clips a brief and jolly moving memory.

Instead, however, I looked through nearly every video in my library.  I believe in the power of a still, silent photograph, but the movement and sounds in a video... wow.  It was very emotional!

So I changed my plans.  This video is one to coincide with part four of my story "Oh My My My." If you haven't read it yet, you should catch up while it's still relatively short and then come back and watch the video ;)

If you have read up to part four, you'll enjoy 180 seconds of the green kitchen, the blue-gray house, the last few days before "the good-byes" and the official departures of both families.  I had completely forgotten that I took videos of both their moves!  It is almost uncanny to watch now knowing what has happened since then.  God is great, life is good and people are crazy ;)

Enjoy Instagram | 30 Days of April Check-In

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If you haven't joined in the instagram/twitter Enjoy Project fun, you're missing out!  It's been so very fun to see all kinds of little joys: from flying kites, to training for races, to snuggling babies and making wontons!  Please join in, even once or twice.

Here's a little check-in of the fun:

Wearing: Miss Lydia donned an adorable outfit the first day of April!
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Smelling: Few things beat the garlic-y, cheesy smell of simmering alfredo sauce. Good call, Ahepburnl!
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Eating: Hannah Braboy enjoyed her "pocket full of sunshine" fruit.
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Touching: After a scare with her kitty, Lydia Jane was happy to have him home from the vet!
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Giving: Diehard Red-Sox fan and one of my favorite mommies says she loves "giving her son firsts."
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(We have a few other baseball sluggers enjoying opening week!)
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Hearing: With The Kooks on in the background, Ambrosiaaaa_ enjoyed her roadtrip.
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JC Mays has had one of my favorite EnjoyProject feeds.  But this one of her mother and hearing "her sweet voice in her head" particularly captured me.
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Drinking: Kelzai's picture of her daughter (years ago) melts my heart.  God is good.    
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Sometimes it's fun to get creative with the word of the day.  "Drinking" in the last few minutes of sunlight with my fiance'.
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Using: Though I'm not the biggest "dog person," these couch potatoes cracked me up ;) Loved it, LydiasPics.
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Looking at: Allix Ryan Brunson's bonfire picture made me salivate.  I love fire smells! And sights. And everythings.
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What a sweet daddy/son shot of the guys looking at mommy.
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Doing: Is bowling every a bad idea? I don't think so.  Allix Ryan Brunson knows whats up!
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Waiting: Sweet wifey Allie Paredes took care of the car for her guy.  That's a woman right there ;)
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Holding: The other night it felt incredible to "hold" onto childhood by playing foursquare until it was black outside.  
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NamieElle5 had a great point: "It's the small things that bring the biggest smiles."
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Making: Kendall_Glab seems to be up to something fun.  Look what she's making!
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Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 4

i was thirsty so I drank
and though it was salt water
there was something 'bout the way
it tasted so familiar
josh ritter | change of time
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part 1 | part 2 | part 3 


There once was an August that changed everything.  An August where the climax began to build.  An August where life as I knew it was never the same.  And that is where we find ourselves in the story.  But, again, we must back up just a smidge. Soon we'll be done with setting and back story, and we'll find ourselves happily enjoying the drama and romance.

For now, we must go all the way way way back to 2006 where there was a little woman named Becca who married her best friend, and they moved into a small apartment with a green kitchen.  They lived the precious married life, where they cut coupons, made cookies, went on adventures and laughed hard.  They named a stuffed animal and brought said animal on trips.  They were addicted to local sports and potatoes.  They hosted 10 wiley and chattery 18-year-olds from church at their house every Tuesday.  They fed them, played with them, talked with them, welcomed them and made them like their own family.  I was one of "them."  We spent evenings in their green kitchen, laughing and doing dishes. Becca was a church secretary and her best friend was working in real estate.  Then he worked as a church employee.  Then he was a lifeguard.  And an Apple Genius. For the first few years of their quirky, young forever, Andree struggled to find his "career."  He always worked.  He always found and had a job, but he was searching for a career.  He wasn't a bum or mooch.  But most of us come to that point in life: what exactly do I want to do forever? What am I good at? What are my passions? Could I actually live off of my dream job and support a family with it? 

In the sneezy spring of 2008, this wondering heart of a husband got an e-mail from his mother that changed everything.  She had sent him some information about the occupation of Air Traffic Control Specialist.  The fantastic with technology, OCD, up for a challenge, fascinated with airplanes and flight Andree was intrigued.  Three days later he sent in an official application to become an air traffic controller.  When our little crew of now 19-year-olds found out, we were so excited for him.  We asked him questions.  Becca looked so proud.  He looked innocent - like a child who had was being publicly praised for a good deed.  He'd probably have to interview in exciting places like New York or Chicago.  Or at least that's what the forum online said.  After the interview (which he was obviously going to get, in our minds) he had to go to an strange place (Oklahoma) for five months (what do people do in Oklahoma?).  That's where the air traffic controllers get trained, at a huge training facility (the forum said so.)  But in the meantime he had a few meetings and perhaps a drug test to get through.  No big deal (at least I thought.)

Becca worked and waited.  Andree worked and waited.  Springs turned into summers more than once, and snow fell fast and grimly for some winters. There were tests, phone calls, little trips, scary reports, months, voicemails, tears, moves and prayers.  On June 11, 2010 (over two years after applying for the job!) there was a special announcement: the fun-sized, big-hearted, determined couple would be moving to Oklahoma in just a few weeks.  I think bells chimed.  Or tolled.  Whichever would be more celebratory.  We rejoiced through the merry land of Maryland.  We longed for our good friends to arrive at this day.  We waited hopefully with them.  We sometimes didn't know what to say when it was particularly hard to wonder about their future.  But God, as he tends to do every now and then, arranged the timing of these events perfectly.  So, here we are with Becca and her best friend packing up their world for a brief stint in the midwest.   

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And me? Well, as for me, my life was a zoo.  Ever since my birth in August 1989 I had lived a silly, adventurous, full, athletic, diaper-y, warm life with my parents, who brought home six little people for me to love.  I had always lived with my eight favorite friends.  We moved to San Diego together.  We spent extended time in New York together.  We mostly live in Maryland together.  Just around the time that secretary and her man confirmed their move to Oklahoma, my parents confirmed their move to Florida.  My father's work was thriving.  The new Florida branch was opening and "corporate" wanted my dad to be the guy to head it up.  I made the hard decision to stay in Maryland and not live with my family.  In early August they packed up their house, sailed away in their cars and I watched little hands and wrists flail to me all the way down the road.  I think I sang Kenny Chesney's "There Goes My Life" 42 times that day.  Our large blue-gray country home was empty, aside from my bedroom upstairs and a few closets.  We thought it might take quite a while to find renters for the spacious, far for the highway, very, um, used home.  I worked hard to clean, paint, curtain-rod-assemble, Craigs-list and show our house.  On August 15th I prepared to be little miss real estate mogul (Bravo has done me well).  With fresh flowers, music, and crumb cake on hand, I greeted a smiling family and their big-eyed children.  We walked and talked and enjoyed the property.  Over two acres of woods, a hearty wooden deck with screened in porch, hot tub and grill set-up, an above-garage loft, wood floors, tall windows, and a master bathroom the size of four college dorm rooms: I loved bragging about my home, dents in the walls, stains on the carpet, "personality" in the appliances and all.  Within 30 minutes, they were sold.  "I'll bring the contract and deposit by in the morning." WHAT. "How much should I make the check out for?" WHAT? "Oh, and would it be possible to move in this weekend?" WHAT! I'm not sure what my face was doing, but my heart was running away through my ears (and scorching them.)  I was hot and queezy.  Right now? This is happening now? I was truly convinced this process would take months.  HAVEN'T YOU HEARD ABOUT THE ECONOMY?  And, let's be honest, this was no $899 studio apartment down the road from your university.  We were offering quite the treasure, at quite a cost! 

But, on August 16th, a lease was signed and I was on the hunt.  Mom and dad and the kids were in Florida.  Becca and Andree were in Oklahoma.  The rest of my friends were up at the shore for a church retreat.  I gathered my important documents and "I'm not intimidated by real life" outfits, and started to apartment hunt.  God rolled out the red carpet.  The latest and greatest strip of food and activity in my county is on Century Boulevard.  The movie theater, the library, the art center (complete with outdoor performance stage), a Chipotle, frozen yogurt land, Panera, grocery store, banks, Starbucks, dry cleaners, Five Guys, Moby Dick, Thai AND Chinese restaurants, camera shop, shoe store, Chick-fil-a, Italian dining, and more are all located on one road, about four or five blocks long (not to mention this road is one minute from the main highway).  The Pinnacle Apartments are located in the dead center of the road.  I was hooked.  I wanted to live there.  
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I walked into the building and met a leasing office girl (named Brittany or Katie or Megan or something like that, obviously required by leasing office's everywhere) who was going to show me the apartment I was there to see.  A 2-bedroom (one for me, one for an office) space on the fourth floor, behind a dumpster, with a view of a parking lot.  I hated it. "No wonder it's so cheap," I thought. Kat-Britt-gan-ley saw my dismay written all over my face.  "If the second bedroom is really only for an office, I just might have a place for you."  She chatted with me as we echoed down the long four story staircase.  "Technically it has one bedroom with a den. But a den is just a room without a closet! And offices don't need closets! Right?! I mean, unless you want a closet.  Do you want a closet in your office? I don't have a closet in my office. I mean, at work I do, but not my home office. But I mostly work at work, and we do have closets."  

We crossed the street and she pointed out to me the apartment.  At the corner of a four-way stop, directly across from the library and catty corner from a Five Guys, was the Emerald City of apartments.  The second story home had wall-to-wall windows that overlooked the street corner, with a pint-sized wooden porch.  We went up into the building and I discovered that the back side of the place had a large swimming pool, complete with grill and umbrellas!  Inside was a sunny, white, window-ed space, with a kitchen facing the windows and a beautiful big bathroom.  Families passed by the windows with bags of books, professionals shook hands as they entered Sabai Sabai and a dog parked at a pedestrian's ankles.  I almost cried.  "It's perfect. I'll take it."  Credit checks, renters insurance, applications, key hand-offs, orientation meetings and packing ensued.  (As I re-read this, I realize how "factual" this part of the story is.  I have to get to the big stuff, so I can't marinate in my heart and tell you just how it felt to do what I was doing.  I was scared.  I didn't sleep much.  I missed my family awfully. I felt lonely.  But when I get "that way" I put on a brave almost smart-alec cape.  This just has to get done.  Don't think about it.  Just do it. You'll be fine.  You're a big girl.  Figure it out. Go.)  The night before my 21st birthday, August 19, I packed until I fell asleep on the carpet next to boxes.  August 19 also happened to be Andree's first official day of training in Oklahoma.  
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When the sun rose it was time leave my country heaven and move to "the city", with the help of some boy muscles and a borrowed beat-up pick-up truck. The following day I shot a wedding and returned to my little home.  Lights shined outside.  I'd never fallen asleep to neon sign and street lamp night-lights before. I had a futon from hell, my twin bed, a kitchen table with one chair and lots and lots of clothes.  But it was my home. My apartment.  I had an apartment! I cried while I unpacked. There was something incredibly comforting about my new world, but it was still very very new.

My friends were feeling similarly.  "This is exciting!  God has provided! But wow, this is different." I texted Becca pictures of my key and my kitchen.  She texted me pictures of the Garth Brooks highway and cows.  I was so happy for them - oh how we'd prayed for that trip.  She was thrilled for me - God had answered prayers!  She couldn't wait to see my new place.  And I promised I'd visit her in Oklahomaโ€ฆ


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(a few extras I came across...)
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This was me headed out the door to a wedding! Not even 24 hours after i'd moved in.


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And this is the dark and mismatched living room that greeted me when I came home from the wedding.
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My first order of business? Stocking my kitchen! You might find it funny to note at my large sizes and quantities: the ketchups?, the peanut butter, the rice and olive oil?, the sour cream! I obviously was used to shopping for nine, not one ;)

Enjoy Pinterest | Summer Dresses

โ€œdress shabbily and they remember the dress; 
dress impeccably and they remember the woman.โ€ 
coco chanel
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If you give a mouse a cookie, we all know what happens.  There is even a book about it.  But do you know what happens when a Kristen gets on that ol' laptop before she starts her day of work? It goes something like this: If you give a Kristen a laptop, she's going to check her "sites".  When she checks her sites, she'll certainly stop by Pinterest.  When on Pinterest she'll find a picture that inspires her (like one of pretty girls in dresses.)  The dresses will remind her that she has a dress just like one in the picture! She'll run upstairs to go look at it.  When she's upstairs she'll remember that her closet is like not nearly as organized as the local dump.  She'll want to clean her closet for a fresh spring chore.
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During the spring clean-out she'll probably come across a vintage wedding dress.  She'll remember that the dress doesn't fit her quite right and she wanted to sell it.  
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Then she'll decide it would be best to sell lots of her clothes, because she really doesn't use them all.  She'll create a Copius account on her laptop.  And chances are if she gets out her laptop... she's going to want to check her sites, too.
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For this slightly modified edition of PinTuesday, I want to see what happy and good dresses you all have your eye on these days. Can you show me on the Enjoy Project board? I'd love to see. Maybe you can sell some things from your closest and get it! Now wouldn't that be a fun treat! 

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Join the Enjoy Project!

PINTUESDAY RULES:
1] I created a group board called "Enjoy Project"... follow it!
2] Every Thursday I will blog about a particular topic (today, for example, is summer dresses.)
3] Leave a comment with your Pinterest name and I will add you as a contributor to the group board.  Also leave a link to your favorite/rad find for the theme.  
4] Once you are added to the group, you can pin your find right to the page.  If you would like to contribute to the group, but do NOT want to be an official contributor, leave your Pinterest name and link and I'll post your find myself, with credit for the find to you.
5] We'll collect ideas together! Sitting all alone on your computer, scrolling through pages and pages, waiting for pins to fetch, is very isolated ;) This way we can interact together! And get to know one another.
6] Once a pin is in the group you can (obviously) re-pin to a different board if you'd like more organization for yourself.
7] Be kind, have fun and enjoy one another, please and thank yaaaa.
8] When pinning on this board, use the #enjoyproject hashtag! It will make it ever easier to find when we have more and more posts.
9] My goal is to have the board available to the current topic for one week.  So you have from Thursday-Wednesday to post dresses! Then Thursday-Wednesday to post _______. (I'm not giving away next weeks topic just yet ;) haha).
10] Enjoy yourself. And the ideas. And the other people. 

Alright! You ready? Go pin!

Enjoy Weddings | A Wedding Photographer Turns Bride

"once upon a time in a faraway land, 
there was a tiny kingdom, peaceful, prosperous, 
and rich in romance and tradition."
disney's cinderella   

As we fell in love this summer, I was taken by aback by his ability to play.  On our first date we secretly (I timidly, he boisterously) raced through grass, climbed on window sills, and walked along the banisters of somebody else's house.  We had not asked to be there, and I was worried silly that we were going to be arrested and possibly burned at the stake for trespassing.  But my date was calling me to follow him, which intrigued me, so I did.

A few days later we took our Chipotle to a local playground.  As we ate inside a child-sized cubbyhole, with wood chips on the floor, and giant tires on the walls, we were bombarded with enemy fire. "KISSY KISSY! OOooOooo LOOOVE!" the attackers chanted.  Their weapons of choice were twigs and pebbles and fat, sticky fists to bang on the walls.  Oh, and their fat, sticky legs to run away when we made faces back at them.  Before long we found ourselves in a giant game of tag - unsure who was it, or what happened if one was tagged, or how to get untagged, or if there was a jail or a base or... even a goal!... to this game.  But we ran and sweated and horrified mothers that summer night, with squealing children provoking us.  

That was only the beginning of my rekindled (and very unexpected) affair with playing.  In my mind I imagined banter, flirting, a breakthrough long conversation (probably late at night), going to restaurants, traveling to nearby towns, maybe some picnics or hikes or nights in to watch TV.  As much as I love the Ikea scene from 500 Days of Summer, I guess I imagined moments like those as special, out-of-the-ordinary, the exception to the rule.  He took my very adult and formal and intellectual ideas about dating and rearranged those to be the exception.  Playing is my new lifestyle.  I've met my best friend, my favorite human and my play-mate.  Dancing, jumping, tackling, teasing, quoting, chasing, inventing recipes or rules for anything, laughing, imagining, dreaming, screaming while begging not to be tickled, adventuring and dilly-dallying is my life with him.   
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Our wedding is going to, I'm dreaming!, make that clear.  In the least cliche' way possible, we are finding ourselves very inspired by Cinderella.  She has a stunning blend of child and queen.  She weaves seamlessly in and out of talking to animals, singing songs about visiting a castle, crafting mini-mouse wardrobes and wandering palace halls, rocking in a shimmering gown, in the arms of a real (adult) prince under the moonlight.  The carefree and the goofy meet the extravagant and the rich.
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I find it less magical when ornate luxury is only enjoyed by stuffy, better-than-thou, adults who expect nothing less and would never be caught dead barefoot in the riverbanks, snacking on Doritos and limeade.  
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jose villa
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jose villa
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Ideally we would invite those cotton-bummed playground tots (self-named Fire Blaster, Esmerelda Snowflake and Captain Cricket) to our wedding, where they would hand every guest some mulch and chase them into the bushes.  Then in the bushes they'd find an unusual wardrobe or flying fairy! And they'd emerge from the bushes dressed in silk and diamonds wondering "What just happened?"
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i'm kristen



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I debated on whether or not to blog our "wedding inspiration."  I don't want to kill any surprises or disappoint anyone ;) but sometimes it's hard not to share when your heart is so full.  I hope you enjoyed getting a teeny sneak peek into what is inspiring our big day!

Enjoy Project | Making Banners

โ€œwhat day is it?"
"it's today," squeaked piglet.
"my favorite day," said pooh.

aa milne  

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Before Janet had Edith there was a darling and refined Favorite Things Party thrown in her honor.
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Eight ladies enjoyed peach fizzy drinks, tilapia, quinoa with beans, and oven-baked green beans.  I felt like such a lady.  
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If you've never heard of a Favorite Things Party, let me introduce you!  Eight woman. Those eight women bring seven gifts each.  (My seven gifts were in the butterfly boxes! I gave some marker pens I adore.)  There is usually a price range of about $10 each gift ($70 total).  At the party, each woman gives her seven gifts away, and then receives seven new gifts!  It's like a grown-up white elephant meets Oprah's Giveaways.  You can see white serving platters in the picture - I love mine! And I also got a new chopping knife, some pretty darn cool soap, a reusable shopping bag, and more!  Each woman gifts one of her daily-life "favorite things" so everyone leaves with treats! Fun idea, huh?
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For today's "making things" post, I have to give props to Becca (the host of the shower/party) for her banner idea.  Flag bunting has kind of had it's day (in my opinion), so I'm always on the lookout for new banner/garland ideas.  Becca punched different colored craft paper with a nice big paper punch. She then stitched them together with a sewing machine! I was impressed ;) It'd be fun to get creative with different shapes and layering styles and colors! Oh my!
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I wish I could just take home an Edith. I am so in love.
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Enjoy People | Entering the World | Edith Grace

"it was a year or so after the wedding,
that dad confided to mother his secret conviction:
that all of their children would be girls."
cheaper by the dozen | frank + ernestine gilbreth
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Baby Sister has felt very earned.  Her mama, Janet, and her "aunts" and "uncles" and grandma and daddy and even older sister waited and worked very hard for her.  Bedrest, contractions, meals, early labor, babysitting, late nights, cleaning, contractions, bedrest, midwife appointments, hospital trips, hosp