Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My muse, my friend...my sister - Autumn + Frank Vanderbilt Estate Wedding

I think I was ten when Mom would tuck me in at night and talk about you. 
You weren't even born yet but Mom would point to the other side of my room and say 
' pretty soon you're going to have a little sister sleeping there'.

 She would describe you in detail.
The color of your hair, your tiny hands and feet and the shape of your eyes.
It was a ritual for us. 

Then one day the mail came and you were there.
Kinda like when the stork comes and drops the baby off.
 Okay, it really wasn't like that, but it felt that way.

Mom carried you around everywhere...your picture that is.
There you were, all six pounds of you with dark black hair and beautiful slanted eyes 
(just like Mom had told me). 

I didn't know you.
You were a thousand miles away and yet you were already my sister.

Being ten years apart, Im sure at times I was more like a mother figure then a sister. 
Actually I'm sure of it. 
And just because I was a pain in the ass and acted like I knew better ( I did ; ) and *clears throat* still do ; ) - does not mean that I loved you less. 
In fact, I loved you more.
I wanted what was right for you. Wanted the best for you.

I know you didn't grow beneath Mom's heart, but we know for sure that you grew in it.

As with all of us, you were in our hearts before we even met you. 
We were given a gift so great, that no words can be placed on what your birth mother did for us.
We loved you, talked about you and waited with anticipation for your arrival. 
You made me a big sister and you gave Michael a little sister.
You gave Mom and Dad a miracle.  
You completed our family tree. 

You're kind, beautiful, smart, and generous. 
You look great with or without make-up. 
You make me laugh. Hmmm, although sometimes at you, not with you. ; )
But that just goes with the terroritory of our family. 

On your wedding day, when I watched you walk down the aisle to your future, I thought how lucky we all are. How blessed. How fortunate.
How complete.

Your day was nothing short of magical. The weather was picture perfect (pun intended ; ), the foliage breathtaking, the venue...magnificent. The sunset was the most amazing one I have ever seen, just
as if God painted it just for the two of you.

Frank, it's wonderful seeing how close you are with your family. I love it. I love all of your family traditions. I love the way you speak so kindly about each person in your family. Your loyalty and love is evident for them. Autumn is lucky to have found someone who is so family devoted and passionate about keeping their family so close.
Family is everything.

Thank you for making my sister so happy.
I love you both!

And so it goes...your story, your moments, your life :

This thing fit her like a glove...just wait until you see her.

Gettin' her 'pretty' on. 
Not that she needs even a stitch of it!

The tee says it all, don't you think?

"Follow the yellow brick road"...or is it aisle runner?

The bouquet...

Love. It. 

Some love for the bridesmaids. 
No divas here. Just sweet, kind headless girls. lol 
I just liked the line up of the flowers...don't worry I have their heads somewhere ; )

One of the girls pointed out that I was putting make up on them at sleep over party's 15 years ago. 
Nothing like feeling a little old.
: )

They are laughing at my mother bawling her eyes out...

Pure happiness...

Frank was first to read their own vows. 
When it was Autumn's turn she pulled out a folded paper and Frank said, 'you wrote a book'?! 
It got quite a chuckle!


I think this picture is apropo of her name...

My 'out of the box' shot for those that follow. 
It was taken through a wrought iron fence.

My Daddy-o's car. 
The license plate is pretty fitting right? 
I added a little bit of a vintage edit on this one for the heck of it.

 The center pieces were hand made with tons of love and a few days worth of work. 
Each bow was perfectly twisted and crafted, and the pheasant feathers dramatically placed to make a whimsical festive table scape. See those acorns on the table? They were all hand painted. 
It's all in the little details. 
I would recommend Jeanie (the designer) to future brides but she has retired and only comes out for special events. Her creations are nothing short of magical!

Some more detail and architecture shots of the estate.

One of my faves...

So the last thing any couple wants to do is be interrupted during their reception. 
But you see I'm the older sister so I had a little bit of say. 
Thanks Frank for putting up with me. 
I know it's tough but when there is a sunset like this, it would be a shame to have missed it.

As the sun started to sink below the horizon we were greeted by the most intense sky I have ever seen. 
The sunset in these next few images are not re-touched. 
I wanted you to appreciate the real moment for what is was. 

I noticed in many of these photos there is a common theme. 
The way Frank looks at Autumn. 
Almost like he doesn't want to miss a thing...

I love real moments. 
The giddy, the satisfied, the proud. 
This image sums that all up for me.

I think this is my favorite from the evening...

I like the angle of this next shot and the story book appeal it has. 
Kinda of fairytale-ish!

There are a ton of people I need to thank for giving me the opportunity to capture some moments on my sister's BIG day. Our kids were passed around like hot potatoes. If you held one of my kids - I'm eternally grateful. I silently thanked each of you over and over again when I would see you taking care of them. 

As for the ivory tights I was suppose to get for my girls (that I never did). 
Sue, thank you for picking them up for me. I was so excited when I walked into the rehearsal dinner and was given a bag from Target with freakin' ivory tights! 
It meant I didn't have to drag the kids out the night before and go looking for them. 
So imagine my surprise when the next morning while getting the kids ready I couldn't find the bag...anywhere
Needless to say they did not wear those darn tights. 

When we went to make leftovers from the rehearsal dinner food the day after the wedding - 
guess what we found in our fridge?! 

Frank and Autumn, enjoy life...always. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mommy, Mom, Ma....Mother - Happy 60th!

As soon as there was a slight chill in the air, the Christmas music would start playing.
Dean Martin (to be specific). 
It began in September.

There were days when she would wake up and say,
 'today looks like a good day to stay home from school to bake cookies' -
and then we would do just that.

She has a way of making an ordinary day feel special.

She knows how to capture a moment and hold onto it.
There is never a question of how much she loves you, because she shows you.

There were other days when I would wake up greeted by a note to 'go look inside the fridge'...and when I would, I would find another clue to send me on a morning scavenger hunt.
What a terrfic way to start a morning, huh?
It always ending with a toy for me.

Back then, I thought she was the coolest.
 Looking back now, I think she was the smartest.
It's a pretty genius way to extend a few precious sleeping minutes for her, right? ; )

My mother tends to be overly dramatic - either something was 'to die for' or the worse thing in her ennnnnntire life.
I was scared to walk out  my front door because she read me every horrible statistic she could find.
She wanted to scare the hell out of me.
It worked.
I was a very cautious kid because of it.
But only now, after I have had my children do I appreciate it.
 She thinks all us kids lie when we talk about our childhood and recount stories of her.
I secretly think she knows better - but is smart enough not to admit to anything.

She's a dreamer - who has always manifested her dreams.
She makes her wishes her reality.
I have never seen another person do this more effectively then her.

She is generous. To a fault.
Genuienly so.

Her advice is prevalent, even though sometimes you would rather not hear it.
She is always right.
When they say mothers know best, there is a reason for it.

My mother was not the 'Betty Crocker' type.
But the one or two things she did make were the BEST things you have EVER tasted.
To die for actually...
(I'm sooo my mother's child ; ) 

She's compassionate.
Always thinking about someone else.
I can't tell you how many Easter's, Thanksgivings and Christmas dinner's we have spend with less fortunate people, who didn't have a place to go and came to stay with us.
She has a huge heart.

She is enthusiastic, fair and a fantasic story teller. 
When she tells a story you don't just laugh - you cry because you can't breath. 

She's crazy (in a very good way), eclectic and dramatic.
I'm now raising three kids of my own and never really fully understood the sacrifices she had to make until my third one came along this year. 
I get it now why sometimes there was cereal for dinner or hot dogs and pasta all week.
(Sorry Ma, if I ever complained).

She has the best advice EVER.
The glass is always half full.

She can not have one of anything. She needs TEN.

She can't just decorate a tree, she can't see the tree after.
And while we are on the subject of Christmas trees, she has 14 of them.
And not the tacky kind. The beautiful, gorgeous, perfectly done kind.
The kind where our neighbors ask their family and friends to come to our house just for a peek.

She is notorious for making lemonade out of lemons.
She thinks if she makes it to 60, that every year after that will be icing on the cake.

Well, folks...we got to the icing this past Tuesday.
Mom turned 60 and we presented her with her own ipad.
I know...what were we thinking?!

. There is only so much though people can read to her about Facebook before she wants to stalk people too.

So I will apologize now if she bombards the blog or my fanpage with comments.
(That's if she can figure out how to get to them : )

But come to think of it - isn't that after all what mothers are for?
Giving comments, advice and suggestions...even though we think we really don't want to hear it.
The funny thing is...Mom's know that we secretly want and need to know.
Like I said...they're always right.

I'll leave you all with two great poems that was just sent to me recently.

Real Mothers don't eat quiche;
They don't have time to make it.

Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils
Are probably in the sandbox.

Real Mothers often have sticky floors,
Filthy ovens and happy kids.

Real Mothers know that dried play dough
Doesn't come out of carpets.

Real Mothers don't want to know what
The vacuum just sucked up...
Real Mothers know that a child's growth
Is not measured by height or years or grade...
It is marked by the progression of Mommy to Mom to Mother.....

The Images of Mother

4 YEARS OF AGE - My Mommy can do anything!

8 YEARS OF AGE - My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!

12 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother doesn't know everything!

14 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother? She wouldn't have a clue.

16 YEARS OF AGE - Mom? She's so five minutes ago.

18 YEARS OF AGE - That old woman? She's way out of date!

25 YEARS OF AGE - Well, she might know a little bit about it!

35 YEARS OF AGE - Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.

The poem goes on - but this is where I will stop it. This is where I am in my life.
I feel like the luckiest girl in the world that I'm able to talk to my Mom eveyday, orrr,
actually several times a day.

After your done reading this blog post...go call your Mom, send her a letter or just whisper 'thank you'.
She had and still has the hardest job in the world.

Happy 60th birthday Ma!
*insert our secret hand signal*
Love you!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We weren't moving.
At all. 
Red brake lights stretched out in front of us for as far as our eyes could see. 

We had been dating a few months when I had asked Dan to come up to my parents vacation home. 
It was a good four hour drive that I always dreaded. 
But this time especially since I ended up having to go to the bathroom 15 minutes into our trip.

Our relationship was new. We were still polite (you know the drill, lol) and so I tried not to make to much of a fuss when he said he wanted to try a 'new' route to get to the house. I had been making this trip for the past ten years. A new way would be nice if I didn't have to go to the bathroom so damn bad. 
Fearing we would get lost, or it would take forever, or worse yet - I wouldn't know a place with a clean bathroom, I finally decided to let him in on my dilemma.  

I thought he would certainly think my way would be better now, however, it made him more determined to try his new way. In a last ditch effort I told him it better be a short cut because I couldn't 'hold' it much longer. 
He swore up and down it was.

Moments, no seconds later we were stuck in traffic. 
Our little four hour trip turned into six. 
I close my eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm  my nerves when I felt the car pulling over. 
When I opened them I saw a gas station. With a bathroom. 
He thought I would be thrilled.
I totally was not.
It was a no-name, dingy gas station that I believe had one pump.
No waaay in this lifetime would I step foot in there. 
Now, I'm really not a prima-donna but public restrooms just aren't my thing.

Dan went in to check things out. As he came out he was shaking his head 'no'. 
'Yuck, yuck, yuck,' I thought and cursed his 'short-cut'.
I close my eyes again, way beyond frustrated at this point.
 5 minutes go by. 10. 25 freakin' minutes. 

Fuming now, I jump out of the car and go inside the station. The attendant doesn't say a word but he shrugs his shoulders up (like he is even confused) and points towards the bathroom outside.
I go around back to the bathroom and I am hit with the overwhelming smell of bleach. As I turn the corner I'm greeted by Dan with rubber gloves on scrubbing the toilet and washing the floor of the restroom.

"What are you doing?" I all but scream.
"I knew you wouldn't go in here if it wasn't clean," he said.

There are very few moments in life when you can go from as pissed as hell, to, omg love him, in seconds.
This was one of those times.

At that very moment I knew I was going to marry him. 
 I wondered though if he thought the same thing.

That same weekend while we were taking a walk, we came upon a large tree that we thought of carving our initials in. Dan did his initals first (D.K.) and when he got to mine, he asked 'can I just put S.K instead of S.B. so we don't have to change it later'?

Did it take you a second too?

*AHHHHHH...he wants to marry ME*
I insisted on having the 'S.B' - not letting on that my heart was about to pound out of my chest at that very moment.

I guess a man wouldn't do what he did (clean a public restroom) if he didn't think what he thought. : )

Less then a year later we were married. 
Eight years down the road and three kids later...here we are.

Happy anniversary, love.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bonjour petite homme (hello little man) - Introducing Mr. "Z"

Her voice when she was spoke sounded as if she were singing a lullaby. 
Her nickname for her new son brought a smile to my face. 
It sounded even more lovely with her beautiful French accent. 

Dad leaned over the crib beaming at the sight of his little man. There was excitement in his voice when he re-counted having him sit on his lap while they both hung out and watched the Yankee game together.

Mom was trying her hardest to sooth her baby boy to sleep, in hopes of getting those snuggly newborn shots. But Mr. Z was just one week shy of 8 weeks old, 
so those sleepy shots were few and very far between for this stage of life. 
It's usually best to get that look when babes are under 14 days old. 

But we forged ahead and prayed for the best.
At this age he was now the one calling the shots! 
Alert, and super observant, he was already lifting his head and giving some little smiles. 
Although we couldn't get him to sit still, lol... 
you would never know it by checking out the images below.

Mom and Dad did a great job getting the room super cozy for Mr.Z...

How many moments have you spent watching your new baby sleep like this?
Document it - no matter what age they are. 
You won't regret it. 
I promise.

The 'out of the box' shot.

This next image melts my heart a little...okay, a lot.
My mother told me once that if you wanted to remember a moment forever, to close your eyes and try to think of every detail and just savor it.
I recall wanting to freeze a moment just like this next one. 
The pride on Daddy's face here and the tenderness in his son's hand laying gingerly across his.
Dad was savoring it...just like I had once...

A moment in your hands...forever in your heart.

I like the perspective of this shot. Plus I think his eyes look super dreamy.

There was a little controversy of who the babe looked more like, Mom or Dad.
They each went and got their baby pictures for me to compare.
This happens at almost ever session!
And for a good reason.
It's history. It's their life. It's a moment that has come full circle. 
Never were their baby pictures as significant to them as now.

I wanted to get a shot of Zackery looking like Mom and Dad did back in the day. 
I think this next shot is a good representation of them both. 

I'm kinda in love with this picture. 
I love that his eyes are so wide, expressive and alert. 
His bottom lip is just so pillow-y and plump and the top lip is shaped so perfectly. 
I think it's a classic shot, with a modern feel (crop) that Mr. Zack nailed perfectly. 

Seriously...seven weeks old and a grin that BIG?! 
How stinkin' cute is he?!

They make such a great looking family, don't they?

Thanks Bret and Asmaa for letting me into your lives
to be a part of Zackery's debut shots. 
You were both warm, kind, and most of all happy.  
Your new son is certainly one lucky boy.

The honey lemon tea was delicious and hit the spot. 
Thanks so much for spending the morning with me!

Help this family get 20 comments (right below) for them to receive a complimentary print!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I was talking to myself I believe, as I was rushing back and forth from the house to the car, the car to the house - packing the gear, and the kids in the pouring rain. It wasn't just like one word. I was rambling. Sentences. Yes, just like those crazy people you see talking to themselves on the side of the road with their hands waving frantically. Okay, the hands weren't waving, but it was pretty damn close. 

I adjusted the rear view mirror before pulling out of the driveway and caught a glimpse of Ms. V in her car seat just staring at me blankly. I turned my head to her and said, "Do you think Mommy's crazy?" and without skipping a beat, without barely a breath in between, she said...'yeahhhh'. She is one and a half. She knows about ten words and 'yeahhh', wasn't one of them until I asked that question.  

My mouth fell open a little, okay a lot, and then I smiled. She took one look at me and broke out into a fit of giggles. I'm pretty sure she was laughing at me, not with me at that moment.

I have journals, diaries, letters, calendars and even post-it notes with things written that I never want to forget. They are scattered in drawers and on desks - and every once in a while I'm lucky enough to come across them.  When I do I'm instantly brought back to that moment, that feeling, that second. I want my children to know me. Know how I felt about them. How every moment they give me is special...even if they are more crazy moments then normal ones. 

So I have decided (and I hope you don't mind) if I share my story, my moments, my life with you...and one day maybe them (if they should ever come across this blog). You all are so gracious to let me capture your story. I want to make sure though I document mine.  Here. Now. In the moment. 

Meet little Ms. "V"...
She is funny.  She hates clothes but loves shoes. Gives a hearty 'mmmmmmmmm' when she tastes something she likes (takes after her Mama there). Recites the Chipmunk song (oooh, eee, oh ah ah, ting, tang, walla walla bing bang) and comes over and hugs me for no reason at all. 

Come to think of it - what was I eating when she did that? ; )