Celebration Summer

As of right now, I think the parties are over for a little while. At least the major ones. I think… This is why I have a planner. Helps. Well, whenever I remember to write things in it.

But they have been pretty much nonstop since early May.

I’m not complaining – at all. I loved every single one of them. But WOW I’m worn out… So worn out, in fact, that I’m giving you the short version now. Longer versions of some of them will come later. You can see some of the photo booth-ness from them in my last post.

It started with some graduations: Baby Einstein and my cousin, Caitlin, graduated from the University of Kentucky. My cousin/little brother, Cool Ethan, graduated from University of Louisville.

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Then we had a party. Where basically every one of our family and friends did a keg stand.

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No seriously.. they did.

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We celebrated my other cousin/little brother’s beautiful wedding to the sweetest girl ever and that ceremony was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

We celebrated Liz’s upcoming (at the time) wedding with a 2-in-1 day…wedding shower in the morning, bachelorette party at night.

Then we went to Boston – for the last time for a while – so Charles could graduate from MIT! On account of he’s a boss. And a mega-smartie.

We moved them home to Louisville (yay!!!!!!!) a couple days later and then went right into wedding week for Liz.

After that it was one more grad party and just last weekend, the last in the string of weddings for the summer – one in Minnesota for our very good friend, Lauren, who we’ve known since she was five, when she and Rachel met in kindergarten and became BFF.

It may have been the happiest summer ever! So much to celebrate, and something going on literally every single weekend.

And now, we sleep.

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Um, whoops…

So I turned 30 and abandoned my blog.

Unintentionally, as usual.

I’ve done this a few times before. And I hate it every time. Every day that goes by that I don’t write, I feel guilty, but obviously not guilty enough to actually write something and post it – which I totally could have because, insomnia. This is one of those posts that you’ll skim through ’cause it’s something new but it’s not as substantial as most of the other stuff. It’s one of those that tells you that I’m alive, I didn’t forget about this place and I have lots to tell you.

At least this time I have more of an excuse. Since I turned 30, a lot has happened.

The abridged version – most of which will be expanded on in individual posts:
– Three weddings
– Three graduations
– Covered the Derby Red Carpet for work and a gala where I met someone super-famous
– Four or five (I lost count) graduation parties
– A bachelorette party and wedding shower
– My depression/anxiety got better..then got kinda crappy again..then got a little better
– I made it through the 8th week of Couch to 5K
– I went to Boston for the last time for a while and to Minnesota for the first time ever (and to Wisconsin where my dad tried to make me visit cheese places even though that would probably send me to the hospital on account of the lactose intolerance.)
– I planned/chaperoned and exhausted myself with a weeklong mission trip/staycation in Louisville that included 15 of our friends from Jamaica from last summer and all of my youth group babies.
– OH AND I BOUGHT A CONDO.

Yeah. Consider the fact that I just had to plan out over a month ahead of time when I want to have people over to paint one of the smallest rooms in the place and that tells you how much free time I’ve had lately. That and the fact that me and the bff haven’t seen each other in about 4 weeks and we just scheduled a time to hang out together on Aug. 1. With planners.

Excuses, excuses, I know. But it is painful to not have time to write and get out all that is going through my head every day and I’ve made a promise to myself to make sure to do that from now on. Regardless of if I post it, I will take about 30 minutes every day (which may be at 2 a.m. when I can’t sleep one night) to write something/anything, because it physically makes me feel better, not to mention helps the anxiety level go way down.

Plus, I’m all caught up on Game of Thrones now so I don’t have that distracting me.

So yeah, welcome me back and whatnot..I promise I won’t take 3 months off again – until I get my book deal anyway..

…And you will hereafter refer to me as such

You might have heard that I work with teenagers at my church..

If you haven’t, I suggest reading one or all of these before going further:

Chaperoning at the Happiest Place on Earth
Wherein I am either the worst chaperone or the best one
Joining the club
Self-esteem boosters with Sarah

So yeah. I’m one of five adults that helps lead our youth group, and with that title comes power and as Uncle Ben Parker says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

(Or Stan Lee says it – I took a picture of him from five feet away once, look!)

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Anyway, I’m getting off topic. Sorry. It’s the holidays, I’m delirious.

Most recently, one of the events we did with the youth was the 30-Hour Famine, a fundraising event benefiting World Vision’s hunger relief efforts and as part of it we play a bunch of games, have a lock-in and don’t eat for 30 hours straight.

I took charge of this particular event, at least as far as getting the info and game stuff we needed ordered.

Well. Apparently if you have stuff delivered to a church now it automatically makes you a Rev. Because this is what was on the box.

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I think that means I can perform weddings now, so… add that to the resume.

Add this one to the resume

I can photograph babies. So, ya know, including that in my portfolio which now includes pretty much the entire spectrum – senior portraits, engagements, weddings, families, maternity and now, newborns!

My bffs Jennifer and Matt just had a baby. Grayson! He’s adorable and awesome and I love him a lot and I’m pretty sure the feeling’s mutual. Seriously, ask Jenn. She saw him fall in love with me. He’s also forgiven me for thinking he was a girl the whole time he was in the belly.

Disclaimer: Not so good at predictions. You should see my March Madness bracket for – oh, EVER.

Anyways. I am basically the Cook family photographer, a job I love. I get to hang out with my best friends and take pictures of them and their cute kids, which is not hard. Pretty sure both Matt and B are professional models.

Matt even wrote about it all on his blog – which you should totally be reading if you love beer, running, babies, or ya know, really good blogs.

Also he made me cry. In a good way though.

So yeah, Grayson.

A few weeks after it was born, it was time for his newborn photo shoot! It was a busy day for him, but he handled it like a pro. He had several costume changes and we made him lay around in just a diaper for a long time. And he rocked it. Champion.

Seriously, look at this stuff – I just held the camera. He did the work. Ha.

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And probably the very best part about this particular photo shoot? Baby snuggles. Before, during and after. They’re the best. A bit like crack, I’d imagine, but I’ve never done crack so that’s just a guess.

I can’t wait to watch this kid grow up and keep taking pictures of that adorable face!

Pretty people

My camera and I have just recently passed our one year anniversary. It’s been a lit more than a year since I successfully campaigned for a DSLR for a Christmas present and since my family is awesome, my campaign worked.

I think I’ve taken probably 10,000 pictures this past year. That’s a rough estimate, because it went just about everywhere with me (and still does) that I can take it without fear of it getting messed up somehow.

I’ve shot two weddings, a senior, a first birthday, my pregnant bff and her family – twice – and five!! engagements.

Been busy, y’all.

And for those of you who haven’t seen on Facebook, I’m pretty proud of my work. It also doesn’t hurt to have pretty people to take pictures of. I just push a button.

So, let me share with you some of my recent photography, starting with the engagement shoot for my roommate and his lovely lady, and then one for my friends Kristen and KC.

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There was also some maternity photography and that shoot made me even more excited because my next one with those guys (and girl) will be when Baby Cook gets here!

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So yeah. Basically this is me showing off, and trying to get you to hire me for all your photography needs.

In all seriousness though, I love every minute of this photography thing and I hope it continues to grow!

The Fifth Season

There’s winter, spring, summer, fall and then WEDDING SEASON.

Name the movie where those two words are important. And then come watch it with me because you obviously have good taste in movies too and we should be friends if we aren’t already.

As you may have heard, I have a few weddings going on this summer.

Two have already happened – taking me to beautiful Savannah and Tybee Island to celebrate with Ashley and Matty and then Nashvegas to stand up with Rebecca while she married J-Bone.

It’s been a busy, fun, amazing, awesome, summer, and in less than three weeks, it’s time for my sister to marry Swarles! (I don’t use real names a lot. Don’t judge.)

I’ve taken my trusty little camera along for the adventures this summer and I’ve shared the sights of Savannah almost ad nauseum with you. (Be real, though, you loved every bit.)

What I haven’t shown you are those two weddings. I was Ashley’s official wedding photographer (so nervous that day…) and Rebecca’s official while-we’re-getting-ready photographer. And not to toot my own horn or anything – but I’m totally going to toot my own horn – they turned out pretty great.

These are not NEARLY all of them, but you get the idea. And there are a lot. So grab a cup of tea or coffee or bourbon and settle in for a bit to enjoy.

Those were two of the most fun days of my life and I loved being able to be there and be a part of those days for my beautiful girls. I’d do it all over again tomorrow. And again in less than three weeks. Ha.

InstagrAMAZING: Savannah Edition

It’s my last post on our little trip that was now more than a month ago (when did that happen?) but not because I’ve run out of pictures – I could post those for days. Or weeks.

But that’s not all this blog is about.

So while I work on some other things currently in the hopper (pronounced HAH-PAH because I want a Boston accent) for this here Web site, you can enjoy the last little bits of our CKR vacation, Instagram-style.

Side note: A couple of the photos are stolen from Rebeck. I don’t think she’ll mind.

How That Vegetarian Thing is going

If you are a frequent or even sometimes reader of this blog, you know that since January 1 I have been living a meatless existence.

I’ve been a pescetarian. Or, if you’re my mom and don’t fully listen all the time when I tell you things, a “presbyterian.” Even though I really am that, too.

Anyways. No meat, just fish. And limited if any, cheese, which has nothing to do with meat really except it comes from the same place and the animals can stay alive and you still will get cheese.

For any of you that might be new, or, to refresh your memory, I gave up cheese after some sent me to the emergency room, and I gave up meat soon after because I found that it was entirely too easy to go to Wendy’s all the time, I felt like crap a lot and I realized it wasn’t even that good.

And it’s gone well, so far.

Sure, sometimes the aroma of Chick-fil-A makes me want to say “nevermind that whole thing, I’ll just grab breakfast nuggets this one time.” And when the new Smashburger showed up downtown, I didn’t enjoy a delicious burger, so much as black beans that wouldn’t stay together in burger form and gave me gas.

Speaking of gas, I also now am officially lactose intolerant. Doctor hasn’t told me, but I know. I. KNOW.

Anyways.

As I said, it’s gone well. For the most part. You see, there have been a couple of setbacks.

My family went out to eat at The Blind Pig like, a month after I made my declaration of almost-vegetarianism. This restaurant is an almost entirely meat-full restaurant. They have bacon ice cream, kids.

I found the one fish item on the menu and was forced to taste the aforementioned bacon ice cream, much to my chagrin. It ain’t bad. And I spit out all the tiny bacon pieces that were in it, so that doesn’t really count.

Then there was the time I was trying to be a good person and didn’t realize my meal had been compromised until it was too late.

I went to pick my grandma up from a short stay in the hospital. She had fallen and broken her wrist and my parents were otherwise unavailable so it fell to me to pick her up and take her home. Not a problem, of course, I love spending time with the little lady. Problem was, we got home and everyone had already finished dinner.

I sat down for dinner with her and was so preoccupied with making sure she was eating OK and wasn’t leaning on her broken wrist and everything that when a plate was put in front of me to eat with her so she wasn’t alone, I blindly took a bite. And then another, and then another. And then realized it was pot roast.

Shit.

I called my mom all anxious and frustrated because I’d been doing so well and how pathetic that I couldn’t even make it more than a couple months without eating a four-legged animal.

You guys, my stress dreams now are about eating meat. Before? They were that I didn’t actually finish school – I’d forgotten to take a class or turn something in or pass a class or whatever and my whole high school or college education was invalid.

Now, when I’m stressed? I dream about eating a hamburger. WTF.

After that, I vowed to pay more attention to everything I ate. Make sure places have a vegetarian option or shrimp or fish. Don’t go to BW3s. Potato soup does have bacon bits in it, even if it looks like it doesn’t.

Which brings us to The Incident.

It happened this past weekend, at a bridal shower for Rebeck.

I’ve been in wedding mode since, like, November, keeping track of showers, bachelorette parties, gifts, cards, invitations, save-the-dates, planning and whatnot.

Kind-of-related: Made a kick-ass ribbon bouquet for Rachel at her two showers. I’m so crafty!

But yeah…you know what a lot of people make to eat for showers of the bridal and baby variety? Pimento cheese.

Ahhh, pimento cheese. You live in or attend a party in the South, there’s a 97 percent chance something there will contain either benedictine or pimento cheese. Yummm.

Naturally, Rebeck’s shower, in Tennessee, was no exception. Except these pimento cheese sandwiches were panini. They were cut up in those cute little triangles and I loaded my plate up (and by load up I mean I took 3).

Delicious. Deee. Lish. Us.

I’m at my second bite of my third sandwich and a sort-of-familiar bit of food hits my tastebuds.

It can’t be.

Noooooooooooooooo.

I look at Rebeck.

“Do these have bacon in them?”

“Yup.”

“Shit. Well. I’m not a vegetarian anymore.”

And I had been doing so well! Obviously this was sabotage. How was I to know these usually meatless sandwiches were now tainted with That Food I Had Vowed Not To Eat?

So, I had three more and vowed to go back to the meatless diet the second I left Sarah’s house.

And I am sticking to it.

Until another Meat Sneak Attack.

But beware. I’ve got my guard up now. I think.

Is it considered a sabbatical if you don’t go anywhere?

Guess what I haven’t done much of this month?

Yeah…if you came back after the limited amount of excitement provided after March’s blogapalooza, you must really love me. And I love you, too.

It wasn’t intentional, originally. Granted my brain had just about dried up when it came to new and exciting things to share with you, and even when I did think of something, I didn’t have hardly any time to write it.

You should see my calendar for May. The only days without stuff written on them until after Memorial Day are Wednesdays. And Wednesdays are only blank because I can’t make plans for those days. Wednesdays are our production nights at work and I don’t get home before the sun goes down — and lately, I’m nowhere near home before the hour is into the double digits.

This is not a post to complain, because I want to be doing every single thing that’s keeping me busy. However, I would also like to blog. But something had to go for a bit, and unfortunately it was this website right here.

It’s not permanent, and I didn’t mean to stay quiet for so long, but when you work the majority of your day on a computer, the last thing you want to do is come home and work on one, therefore for almost all of April my laptop has been regulated to wedding-related work and Netflix instant TV shows and movies only. Oh, and I finished a book or two in there somewhere.

Yeah, we’ve missed a bit, you and me. And for that I am sorry, especially if this is even such a thing that merits an apology.

But I have had people ask about why I wasn’t posting and encouraging me to get back on the horse and what a better time to do so then right around The Most Wonderful Time of The Year, the Kentucky Derby! (See what I did there?)

More substantial stuff will come later on – like photos from my family’s Derby party this weekend – where I get all stealthy and try to take amazing candid stuff in preparation for these weddings (yes, plural) I’ll be taking pictures at next month. Plus there’s the usual stuff you can look forward to – the texts that sound like my friends, insane amounts of Instagram pictures, the websites I wish I’d thought of and a ridiculous amount of songs because I spend entirely too much time in the iTunes Store.

But I want you to know, I’m not gonna be quiet for a whole month again, in case you’re worried. If you’re not, well, then, bully for you. You shouldn’t be.

For now you’ll have to settle with an update on a lot of things, portioned in nice little bite-size morsels for you so we’re all caught up and it’s like I never left!

Ready? Go.

Gettin’ crafty up in this piece
One of the things you’ll see later this month is how, while I was “away,” I was real crafty. Like, so much so you won’t believe it was me that did it on account of I usually suck at crafts.

This is the way we ball
Sand Volleyball. Monday nights. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. Well maybe not but damn is it hard to run in sand. And one night it was so cold my feet turned purple.
In other news I can’t serve in the sand, but am infinitely more willing to throw myself towards the ball. On account of it doesn’t hurt. Especially if you have one of those later games and you get a couple beers in beforehand. Note: The beers have nothing to do with my serving abilities, or lack thereof.

The 28th Amendment
Full disclosure – I had to Google how many amendments there were in the Constitution. Don’t judge me. You probably didn’t know it either – there are 27 – unless you are Baby Einstein.
This particular amendment has nothing to do with a historical document, because, well, I never wrote my Five down on paper.
After careful consideration and months of not having him on my TV, I have decided to make a change. I’m removing Michael C. Hall from the list, though I’d still like to have him tell me bedtime stories ’cause his voice is sexy. He’ll be replaced by Zac Efron. Again, don’t judge me. He grew up. And he grew up well.
That’s all I’ll say about that except for how I haven’t seen his new movie yet but I really really want to and the preview by itself is enough to make me need a cold shower.

The best show you aren’t watching
Justified. It’s about Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky. Timothy Olyphant just shoots people. ‘Cause he can. And Daniel Faraday from LOST is in it. As the opposite of Daniel Faraday from LOST. I’ve watched all three seasons in the past month. HOOKED. Thank you, Eth.

Weddings and babies and houses, oh my!
We are currently less than two months from Ashley and Matt’s wedding, less than three months from Rebeck and Jered’s and less than four months from Rachel and Swarles’!
Wedding season is in full swing – May is full of showers and parties and that reminds me, I have a dress to get altered.
After this weekend I’ll have taken three couples’ Engagement/Save-the-Date pictures and I was recently asked to shoot another wedding. WHAT?
Add to that the addition of our little half-pint, Emma, to the CKR fold and you guys, we have a baby. Who let us have a baby? And there’s another one coming in October!
Our second half-pint belongs to Katie and Hunter, who recently just made MY life considerably better by moving to the Lou. Now we just gotta get Sammi to Nashville and our plans for a CKR compound will be closer to fruition.

That One Time I Almost Rode In A Hot Air Balloon
With Derby season comes Derby Festival, which includes a ton of cool events that you get to participate in if you so choose, moreso if your job is in the media. Yours truly was ALMOST so lucky.
Scheduled to go up in a hot air balloon for the Great Balloon Race that was cancelled the morning of. And it was not rescheduled. Even though it is, EVERY. OTHER. YEAR.
We’re not talking about it anymore, but I have to share this gem:
When I was talking to my mom about getting to ride in the race, she said, “Do you get to go on it for the whole time?” to which I replied, “Nope, I’ll probably bail out in the middle of it. I think they’ll probably have a parachute for me.”

Running
What is, things I stopped doing completely? Yeah, about that. I’m getting my ass into gear this month because I’m signing up for a couple of runs later this year. And if I sign up and pay the money, then I have to do it. And that is some good motivation, because I don’t like to waste money (pay no attention to my ever-expanding DVD collection…).
So far, my friend Sammi has convinced me to do the Tap ‘N Run in Nashville (I am nowhere near ready and probably won’t be, for the one in Louisville) and the Color Run, which are a 4 and 5K, respectively. And the Tap ‘N Run includes beer. So there’s that.

Making a list and checkin’ it twice
A few weeks ago my good friend Matt (who, by the way is a beast of a runner and is gonna get famous for his blog, Lager Jogger, so you should check it out and say you were there at the beginning), Tweeted to me “I have so many things to do I need to make a list of all the lists I need to make.”
Never has something been more true. This is my life right now, which is fine, but WHOA a pause button like Zack Morris had on Saved By The Bell when the world paused but he didn’t have to would be real nice some days.
I have lists of lists to make, for real, and at some point, I’m gonna get to them all.
Eventually.
I’ll put it on my list.

Pretty pictures…if I do say so myself

I’ve gotten the OK from the brides-to-be, so now I can share.

I’ve taken two sets of “Save-The-Date” photos for two of the three sets of my favorite couples getting married this summer. And I’m pretty proud of them.

Neither one went as planned – at Rachel and Chuckie’s it was ridiculously windy and the sun was completely blinding when you stood in front of the building.

And for Rebecca and Jered’s, the plan was to go to downtown Nashville, until randomly and for no reason it snowed the day we were supposed to go. So we went to Opryland Hotel, which is beautiful but has poorly-placed bathrooms (fun fact: I had to pee so bad I think I ran through that entire hotel trying to find a place).

But it’s not about me, it’s about them. And how awesome they are for trusting an unprofessional photographer with a nice camera to take such important photos for them.

So here’s some a lot of them, only a few of which we used. But I included a bunch that didn’t make the final cut. You’re welcome.

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