A Glamorous Grand Central Affair: The Wedding of Grace & Patrick

It’s wedding season! EEEEEEEEEE!

~Saturday, July 18, 2015~

~Saturday, July 18, 2015~

I had the privilege to document the totally glamorous wedding of Grace & Patrick this past July. The setting(s)? The posh,ย  Waldorf Astoria Hotel, followed by the glammed-out Oyster Bar, thenย  the ever-so-opulent Grand Central Station, to the streets of Gowanus, and finally down to the pearl of Brooklyn: Gowanus Loft.ย  Twelve hours of non-stop love and celebration, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Grand Central Station, where bride & groom will say I DO in just a couple short hours!

Grand Central Station, where bride & groom will say I DO in just a couple short hours!

All photos shot from my ever-so-faithful Sony A99 SLT with Carl Zeiss f1.4 50mm and f.2 16-28mm plus funky f2.8 12mm fisheye. I used a bounce flash only here and there during the reception, otherwise everything uses available light (my fav!).

The ceiling is breathtaking... next time you visit, re!ember to LOOK UP~

The ceiling is breathtaking… next time you visit, re!ember to LOOK UP!

If you’re getting married, and considering the getting ready, and first-look shots, I HIGHLY recommend arranging for your photographer to capture them. These moments are key in narrating the story of any wedding…

The amazing Grace

The amazing Grace

Patrick Jr. + Patrick Sr.

Patrick Jr. + Patrick Sr.

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Our Bride

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Our Groom

She's getting excited!!

She’s getting excited!!

Final details...

Final details…

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Grace putting her shoes on to go and get the groom down the hall :)

Getting ready to meet that groom of hers!

Handsome groomsmen!

Handsome groomsmen!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Ok, ok I'm ready to see my (almost) wife!

I especially loved the reactions Grace and Patrick had when they first saw each other. First Look Shots are really the best!

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They’re really too cute ๐Ÿ™‚

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Cocktail Hour took place at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. Just a quick stroll from the Waldorf Astoria, so I took advantage of the glowy afternoon light in the city on our walk over.

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The ceilings in the Oyster Bar created a super classic, romantic vibe. The Bride & Groom greeted close friends and family for the first time of the day…

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My favorite mother-son photo!

My favorite mother-son photo!

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It’s wedding time! THANK YOU APPLE STORE for letting us gather on your mezzanine and THANK YOU GRAND CENTRAL STATION for letting us take over the central terminal. Because we did ๐Ÿ™‚

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Wow – what a feeling to have the entirety of Grand Central Station pause, become nearly silent, and witness Grace & Patrick exchanging their vows. It felt like the entire city turned out for these two love birds. Who wouldn’t?

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Now for… THE RINGS!

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And then they said “I DO!” Cueย  the tears, where are my tissues?!ย  Grand Central lit up in a roar – it was ridiculously amazing to hear hundreds hundreds of voices rally in celebration! I absolutely love mom & dad’s expressions in the next photo.

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ย And now for my favorite series of group photos of all-time. Grand Central Station is super crowded, so we knew there would be challenges with managing the crowds, corralling the wedding party, etc. But we managed to pull it off!

The fresh-off-the-press newlyweds!

The fresh-off-the-press newlyweds!

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And then just some of the two lovebirds, before we depart for the festivities in Brooklyn!!

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Ok, time to go!

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Patrick whisks his bride away, and off we go to… Gowanus.

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That dress though…

When guests arrive at their destination in Gowanus, they’re greeted with a full brass band. Because it’s essential to parade around the neighborhood to celebrate!

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And after parading around Gowanus for a bit, it’s time to party at The Loft!

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Gowanus Loft, in all her glory, was brimming with light for the reception. We danced, we ate, we laughed, we sang, we cried. Bust mostly, we laughed ๐Ÿ™‚

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Amazing art installation pieces by Sarah Brook

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A special thank you to Grace & Patrick for including me on their incredible wedding. I had the absolute time of my life and was reminded why I love wedding photography so much. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness and joy.

They made it to Gowanus, Brooklyn!

Geology Rocks: A Trip to Enchanted Rock

Great news! I’m starting a new job next week as a Senior Project Environmental Scientist, meaning you can expect more exciting reports from the field as I take NYC by storm in the coming months!

With impending full-time employment looming in the near future, I naturally took a trip to the lovely state of Texas to visit my awesome siblings. They’re in San Antonio – a city with more Walmart’s and HEB’s per capita than anywhere else in the world, but also home to an incredibly rich history and vibrant culture unlike any other city in the south. Oh, and AMAZINGLY authentic barbecue!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year - my hilarious family!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year – my hilarious family!

My latest discovery in the San Antonio region is Enchanted Rock. My brother and sis-in-law had visited a half-dozen times, and were more than happy to take the geologist of the family (aka me!) along for the hour drive this past trip.

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There she is! Enchanted Rock. Humans for scale.

Here she is in all of her geologic glory – Enchanted Rock! I had to keep my siblings in the frame so you could get a grasp of it’s size.

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I’m totally in my element here at the base of the trail…

Enchanted Rock stands 425 feet above the base elevation of the park, and is 1,825 feet above sea level. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, climbing Enchanted Rock is like climbing the stairs of a 30- or 40-story building. The meandering route my sister and I took in-between taking selfies broke things up nicely, and was a leisurely little climb. Wear good shoes!

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Geology Lesson 101: Around 1,000,000,000 years ago, magma rose from beneath the Earth’s crust and pushed up the overlying rock surface. The magma then cooled VERY VERY slowly and turned into a granite dome/ pluton/ batholith (take your pick!). The overlying sedimentary rock crumbled away over millions of years of chemical and physical erosion – Granite is a very hardy rock and is able to “weather the storm” against erosion, and that’s why it’s here today!

From below, looking up.

From below, looking up.

Enchanted Rock is just the tip of the iceburg – it covers an area appx. 62 square miles with most of it remaining underground. Maybe in a few million years we’ll be able to climb on more of it!

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it's no big deal.

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it’s no big deal.

Another neat thing to note about Enchanted Rock is that it’s technically classified as an exfoliation dome – it’s not completely immune to erosion, and it can be seen breaking apart in many areas similarly to the structure of an onion.

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Why does this happen? Well, after the overlying sedimentary rock eroded away from the surface of the granite dome, it began to expand just a little bit due to the lack of pressure bearing down. This expansion caused fracturing of the granite along its “curve”, resulting in a “peeling away” appearance. Enchanted Rock continues to exfoliate today!

My sister Amanda looks like she's on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

My sister Amanda looks like she’s on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

So if you’re looking to get out of the city (that is, San Antonio!), I highly recommend a drive to Enchanted Rock. The drive itself is almost surreal: beautiful winding roads through hills, endless acres of woods, vast grazing fields home to many happy cows, and even a couple wild bobcats (!).

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

And the vistas from the top of the rock – so gorgeous and expansive! I especially loved the mini oasis that grew in the center of the dome… it’s incredible how resilient nature is and how determined some species of plants are to live!

Little sister, little oasis.

Little sister, little oasis.

The climb is very kid/ dog/ family friendly. If you have bad knees, the walk down could be a bit intense without hiking poles. And definitely don’t roll or run down unless you don’t mind seriously busting your face open! I took my sweet ol’ time and soaked in the warm sun as much as possible.

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Ah yes, another week done, making the start-date to the next chapter even closer. Sure, I won’t have endless open days to hang out with family and waste away on my Netflix queue, but I’ll definitely have a more structured life/ routine! Stay tuned for more lady-engineer-scientist adventures from NYC… I’m so excited ๐Ÿ™‚

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All photographs taken with my Sony A99 Full Frame SLT Camera ๐Ÿ™‚

Ten Things I Learned Living on a Tiny Island

This past fall, I found that living in social isolation (on a 15-square mile island) with nothing but a good book and long hours of work will really force you into a state of introspection. Add that to 2 months of living back home in Brooklyn with loads of free time, and you’ve got a pretty excellent elixir for reflection.

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Clouds over Cayman Brac.

What did I discover?

1. I accept who I am: my strengths, weaknesses, and I have so much to offer the world.

2. Humans are a social species. We need a tribe. It may change from time to time, expand and contract – but our inner desire to connect with others is directly linked to our natural ability to love others.

3. The core of my tribe is my family. And I ride the ebb and flow of its continual expansion and subsequent waning.

4. Loss is an essential part of the Human experience. It reminds us that we are not in control and must press on forward: continue living and thriving. If we don’t, the world will leave us behind.

5. Heartbreak is inevitable. There are many forms, but ultimately it strengthens the heart, mind, and soul. It should not be avoided, for evasion means you are not living life to its fullest – you are closing yourself to experience and growth.

6. You are your best advocate. You know who you are, what you stand for, and what is best for you. The only person truly looking out for your best interests is you. Others will eventually learn to know the needs and ways of your heart, but until then, you know best.

7. Do not seek approval and love from others in order to be happy. Does this dress make me look fat? I feel like all of my friends have forgotten about me. I just want to be in a relationship with someone. I need his love to feel happy, secure, and complete. Stop. If you read Lesson 1, you already accept yourself. It’s hard, and will never be easy. But you’re worth it. You will always have YOU.

8. You need to do something. Humans are built to survive, and in 2015, that means work. You will always find a way to complain about your job, where you live, who you work with, etc. But we need to continue enriching our lives. Our brains, bodies, and inner beings were not built for stagnant waters. That makes for an early grave.

9. Find balance in all you do, and establish priorities – and accept that they will change with time. What is important to you? What is truly essential in your life right now that serves the highest levels of your inner happiness? (Right now, mine are finding fulfilling work that satisfies my desires to make New York City a cleaner and healthier place to live, continue to open my heart again to love and trust in that love, balance the material necessity of a healthy paycheck with the wishes of using that monetary resource for experiences to enrich my life and the loves of my life.)

10. Change is the truest form of the Human experience. With all the lessons learned (above), you will be a champion of yourself with the ability to live and breathe in the flow of life. Accept change. Embrace change. It leads us closer and closer to the ultimate lesson of life: Transformation.

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Live, Breathe, Transform, Transcend.

-This post is dedicated to my dad. Today would have been his 70th Birthday. His passing was the deepest form of loss I have experienced thus far in my lifetime, and I am truly grateful for the love and memories my dad and I shared. Thank you, dad, for giving me life and the inspiration to make it a great one. I love you, to Pluto and back.
Happy Birthday Daddy

Day at the Zoo!

Ok, ok so I just posted a couple of these on my personal FB page, but here’s the rest of my favorites from today’s adventuring.

Family time is the best time ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m spending the week down in FL to escape the NYC early winter blues and to squeeze in a much-needed visit with my sister and her sweet family. My nephew Tucker, is turning 4 in March (seriously, where does the time go?!) and I couldn’t resist bringing the good glass out for our trip to the Lion Country Safari today.

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There were macaw’s…

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And zebras…

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Lions too!

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Merry-Go-Rounds with Giraffe’s…

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And giraffe’s in real life ๐Ÿ™‚ They are my absolute favorite!

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Being an aunt is pretty awesome/cool/sweet ๐Ÿ™‚

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This is Cupid. Totally handsome and charming.

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Tucker loves time with Grandma Louise! And Camel Rides!

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Total cuties!

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My favorite of these two… looking out for the flamingos.

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Group shot (plus an excellent photo-bomber). Love you guys so much!

Family Portraits in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

The best clients are sometimes your first clients. Julie and James responded to an online posting for my photography back in the summer of 2012 for their small intimate wedding in Bay Ridge. They were my very first wedding, and I think I was more excited than nervous to shoot their intimate gathering. You can see their photos in the Wedding portion of my portfolio.

Flashback! Julie + James circa 2012 :)

Flashback! Julie + James circa 2012 ๐Ÿ™‚

Fast-forward two years, and I receive a lovely little “hello” from them in my inbox one November morning… No longer just Julie and James, but Julie, James, Ryan, and Luke!! The boys, ages 2 and 1, with those bright blue eyes that melt the hearts of any human being, were totally rambunctious and so much fun to photograph.

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A helpful tip for anyone photographing toddlers – keep that shutter going constantly and get on the floor to be eye-level with them (still working on my technique as always!). Below, Luke on the left, Ryan playing with dad on the right. It’s hard not to fall in love with these two hunks!

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And of course, I had to sneak a few shots of the two love birds, now mum and dad. Still as much in love with each other as on that summer day in 2012 when they saidย ย  “I Do”…

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With two wiggly toddlers, snapping the perfectly composed shot is not always easy, so that’s why we improvise as photographers. Their beautiful home in Bay Ridge boasted a chandelier from the early 1900s, which doubled as an excellent setting for my favorite candid close-ups of the family.

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This last one has everybody’s face in it! Christmas card, anyone? Next, we took advantage of the warm-ish weather and strapped on everyone’s shoes for some outdoor shots. I absolutely love shooting outside (especially under the lovely overcast skies we had that day) and kids do the cutest things when they play! Like gazing at me for a split second with bright googly eyes while piled in a heap of leaves…

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Or looking off into the distance while planning their next mischievous scheme…

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Or taking an impromptu geology lesson from Dad.

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Having had enough of the leaves and rocks, we headed down the street (literally 4 houses down) to grandmas! I can only imagine how awesome it is to have grandma, aka drop-of-the-hat babysitter steps from home with two little ones. Less of the “Over the river and through the woods,” and more like, “Down the five doorsteps and ten steps away, to Grandmother’s house we go!”

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Luke and Ryan clearly led the way, too. I can’t get enough of the look on their little faces when mum and dad called for them…

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By this time, the little ones were quite over-energized by being at grandma’s that our attempts to take some additional group shots were more candid than expected. I still think it totally captures the family dynamic of giggles and laughter ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh well, we tried!

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Although grandma’s was fun, it was time to head home for a late morning snack. But before we said our good-byes, I captured a few more shots in their sweet little cul-de-sac (I had no idea these little oases existed in Brooklyn!).

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And as the holiday season comes and goes, and despite the cold days that lie ahead, remember the warmth of family in your heart. I am so honored to have been the Lanigan’s photographer for the second time, and look forward to many more family shoots with this gang!

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The Love of a (Growing!) Family

This post has so much more meaning to me than the typicalย  “oh-look-at-my-latest-client-shoot” post. The one year anniversary of my dad’s passing was approaching last week, and I was mentally preparing myself to accept whatever waves of grief and emotion were about to hit. This past year has taught me to deal with sadness head-on and immediately experience the pain without bottling it up, which only creates a volatile mental state. Losing a parent is a horrible feeling, and the grief that results is one that I would never wish on anyone. But that’s not what this blog post is about.

This post is about the pure beauty of family. So, I completed my usual online ad for head shots a few days prior to the anniversary, and I received a request from Marisa to do a maternity shoot. Initially I was hoping to distract myself with a nice dinner out or a movie on the 9th, but Marisa was one week away from her due date, and the only time we could meet was that very Wednesday night. Something told me this is what I needed to do.

That something was undoubtedly true. I met Marisa, her husband and three-year-old daughter down at the Dumbo Pier and experienced the profound, unconditional love this family expresses. DSC05042

8 Days away from her due date (which is today!!), Marisa is the most beautifully glowing mommy-to-be. I especially LOVED her hand-made sash to show off that gorgeous baby bump!

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Skyler, the spunky and excitable 3-year-old daughter was so well behaved, and became my official photographers’ assistant by the end of our session.

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She’s kind of the cutest little girl I’ve ever met!

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Mom and Dad can’t wait for the next addition to their family to arrive. Fun fact, baby is due the day after Skyler’s birthday!

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Even though the carousel horses were sleeping for the night in their glass barn (ah the stories you have to tell to children so they don’t despair!), using them as a backdrop was a great setting for us! Miss Skyler even photo-directed this next shot:

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We all love our mommas, but I think she’s a bit of a daddy’s girl, like me ๐Ÿ™‚

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We also couldn’t have a complete shoot without a few one-on-one’s with the beautiful mom-to-be. Seriously, if being 9 months pregnant looked this good on everyone, there would be so many more babies in NYC!

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And as the sun began to set to the west, beyond the towering buildings of lower Manhattan, I was able to sneak this shot of the two love birds before the security guards told us to get off the grass (they fortunately let us take our time – who rushes/ yells at a pregnant lady?!).

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And one of Skyler, of course. I have a feeling that this little girl is going to do big things!

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Oh, and if you haven’t already guessed, it’s a girl.

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All in all, this was the best way to spend my evening last Wednesday. I was so completely wrapped up in the love and happiness of this family that I forgot it was the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing. This photo session reminded me of why I love what I do – Photography not only captures fleeting moments of time, but allows us to reveal the true essence of a person’s soul. If anything, it gives us a beautiful memory to hold close in our hearts that will literally live on for generations to come.

I continue to cherish each memory of my loved ones – whether they have passed or simply left my path of life for the time being. I don’t wallow in misery when I look back on photos with my dad; instead I am able to travel back in time to those exact moments and remember the sound of his voice, his tenderness, his love. And as my wonderful step-mom says, “Love is in front of you, behind you, beside you, and within you always”.

I like to think you can alternate Love with Family.

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To all the families out there, you are all pillars in each others’ lives. Hold each other close, forget your conflicts and resentments – family is forever my dears.

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First Christmas

Well I have officially broken out the indoor studio gear as the chilly Brooklyn weather is finally catching up with us. Baby Lucas (7.5 mo) will be celebrating his first Christmas with mum and dad this year!It was simply too hard to choose which photos to post, so I’ve included a bunch for you all to enjoy.

If you are in the Brooklyn / NYC area it’s not too late to get a great family shoot in for the holiday season ๐Ÿ™‚

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Family!

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Daddy Love

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Luna Love

Spent the first portion of my weekend with a good friend for some family shoots with their beautiful pit bull pup, Luna. It’s incredibly sad how poorly represented pitties are – In my experience they are one of the most affectionate, lovable breeds out there. Luna, the one-year-old blue/brindle is no exception. See for yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

Pitties = Best.Dogs.Ever

Pitties = Best.Dogs.Ever

Her mum & dad are pretty cute themselves too!

All smiles for the happy girl.

All smiles for the happy girl.

The happy family!

The happy family!

Day 1: Family, Hope, Forgiveness

Whoever coined, “Family is Forever” couldn’t have been more right. The very first thing that comes to mind on this initial day of my Gratitude-Spree is just that. I am so unbelievably grateful for my family: whether related by blood, marriage, or just down-right love for one another, you know who you are.Bouquet

To my intelligent, creative, stunning younger sister: you are so brave, strong, and bring such a brilliant light to my life and all others who are touched by your warm rays of sunshine.

To my charismatic, hilarious, and savvy older brother: I look up to you in more ways than you can imagine, and am so proud of your strength and wisdom expressed during the many trials of life.

To my loving, talented, and cheery older sister: I only hope one day to be as incredible a mother as you are to Tuck, and may you continue to spread your boundless joy to others through your many talents.

To my mom, my best friend, sometimes my momentary enemy, but always a shoulder to lean on: thank you for granting me the gift of grace and compassion, so I may be a better citizen of the world.

To my step-mom, my comfort, my dear friend, and resource for wisdom: thank you for bringing so much joy and bliss back into our family, and especially my dad’s life these past years. You are a true gift.

To my beloved dad, my best man, my hero, my ever-friend: thank you for inspiring me to pursue my dreams, live a full and happy life, leave my worries and sorrows behind, and to take each day as a blessing and gift. You are deeply missed, and a forever-father.

To my Tom: my voice of reason, my rock, my soul. You make each day a thousand suns brighter.

To my friends – each a brilliant star in the universe, you all bring so much love, happiness, and light into my life.

I am grateful for Family.

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And with Family, we learn to Hope, and we learn to Forgive.

Hope is what keeps us going at the end of a stressful day of work, where we often feel lost, confused, and frustrated about making some “big man” rich, while we’re just doing it to get by. Hope is what we cling to when we feel like we’ve lost everything. Hope is that comfort we feel when we stare fear right in the face and tell it to “back off!” …. it’s all going to be ok.

Hope is what I am grateful for today. Because even if this wasn’t my best day, I can Hope and I can know that today was MY day. Tomorrow is MY day too ๐Ÿ™‚

I am grateful for Hope.

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Forgiveness is often hard to come by easy, but a necessary ingredient to a happy life. Forgiveness is about letting go, finding peace within yourself, and ultimately about Love. True, unconditional Love is the key to receiving and granting Forgiveness. Deflate your ego. Abandon your Pride. Forgive, and be Forgiven.

I am grateful for Forgiveness.

All in the Family

Ok, ok, I am sure a few of you are starting to see a familiar face or two around here. As my family’s Designated Photographer for all events between birthdays, holidays, and in this case dance recitals, it’s no surprise family members pop up here once in a while : )

Being from a family of four kids with a 15-year age gap between the youngest and oldest, it’s hard to get us all in the same place at once. Not to mention we’re spread out over Boston, NYC, Texas, and Florida.

Growing up, I never thought any of us really looked alike – I have my mum’s nose, dad’s eyes… Amanda & Edwin have my mum’s eyes, etc. People never really did the whole “You all look EXACTLY alike!” thing. Me being the only blonde-hair-blue-eyed member of the brood, I remember proclaiming that I couldn’t possibly be related to my brown-hair-brown-eyed siblings and that I must have been adopted….

Until seeing this photo – taken by my dad, with my camera. Holy Moly do we look alike! The case is closed. I stand corrected!

After 18 years, I finally see the resemblance!

I finally see the resemblance!