Luke {Smash the Cake} South Bend, Indiana

"Children hold our hands for awhile, but hold our hearts forever." - Unknown

We met this adorable family at their beautiful home in South Bend a few months ago. The plan was to celebrate little Luke's first birthday with a little cake, and a whole lot of laughs!

Luke and Addison were so adorable! They were so incredibly sweet and kind, and so photogenic!! With their bright eyes and sweet smiles, we couldn't get enough of these two.  

We headed inside where Renea had the cutest setup for little Luke's smash the cake session! With his colorful, spotted bib around his neck, Luke had a blast with his cake! Even though he didn't necessarily "smash the cake", he did enjoy munching on it and even sticking his foot in it and making a big mess! 

Addison eventually jumped in to help him finish his cake, and Luke made sure to not leave anybody out and even gave his momma Renae a bite! 

We had such a blast capturing this special moment for this family and are grateful to give them a wonderful experience to look back on as these two celebrate many more birthdays to come! 

2016 Adventures {Pittsburgh, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.}

After I saw Rocky for the first time, so many years ago, I told myself that I would visit those stairs and run them, just as Sylvester Stallone did in the film. While it's taken 20+ years to get there, I finally did it back in May, and it was every bit of awesome as I thought it would be! Not to mention, being able to run them with my little boy and husband, made it that much awesome-er. ;) It's funny how in our younger years, we have these dreams; these little things that we want to do, but never actually get out and do them. There are a variety of reasons we hold ourselves back, but truthfully, if we could all be a kid again, we'd chase after those silly things with true grit. Because those are the things that truly ignite the passions deep within - and help us become the people we were meant to be. So go on. Go ahead and go do those things you've always wanted to do. The best time is NOW.

{In addition to running those amazing Rocky stairs, my hubby, baby boy and I first ventured to Pittsburgh, then onto Gettysburg, hit Philadelphia and our final destination was Washington D.C. It was a whirlwind trip, but oh so amazing - and filled with so much rich history. Grateful for this time. Grateful for these moments.} :)

And just because I love facts - and history - figured I’d share a little bit of what we learned adventuring to all of these amazing places!

First on the list: Pittsburgh!

- The very loved and very kind Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” called Pittsburgh home. 
- There were quite a few movies filmed in Pittsburgh; some you might know are “The Silence of the Lambs”, “The Dark Knight Rises” and "Jack Reacher". 
- There actually is a language that is specific to Pittsburgh natives; it's called Pittsburghese! I think maybe I heard a little of it?! ;)
- A Primanti Bros. sandwich is a not so typical sandwich. No matter which one you order from the menu, they top em' with french fries and coleslaw. And surprisingly, it's actually quite tasty!
- Rosie the Riveter was born in Pittsburgh in 1942. Yea Rosie!!
- Did you know there are 446 bridges in Pittsburgh alone? The city gets the nickname: "The City of Bridges".

Did you know …

Gettysburg was a 3-day battle in 1863; it was considered the most important engagement of the American Civil War. General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863 – and on July 1, the advancing Confederates clashed with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade. As the three day battle ensued, the Confederates attacked Union soldiers on both left and right. On the final day, General Lee ordered an attack by fewer than 15,000 troops on the enemy’s center at Cemetery Ridge. The assault, known as “Pickett’s Charge,” managed to pierce the Union lines, but eventually failed, at the cost of thousands of rebel casualties. Union casualties in the battle numbered 23,000, while the Confederates had lost some 28,000 men: more than a third of Lee’s army. The Battle of Gettysburg irrevocably turned the tide of the Civil War in the Union’s favor – but it was by far the costliest battle of the Civil War.

In Philadelphia sits the beautiful, amazing Liberty Bell, and you might not know that on July 8, 1776, it was the ring of this bell that changed the world. The Liberty Bell rung out from the tower of Independence Hall summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon. But, after the divisive Civil War, Americans sought a symbol of unity. The American flag became one such symbol, and the Liberty Bell another. The Liberty Bell also gained iconic importance when abolitionists, in their efforts to put an end to slavery throughout America, adopted it as a symbol. “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”

Our final destination, before heading home was Arlington National Cemetery. I was incredibly reverent seeing the fields of tombstones right in front of me. You stand humbled by the sacrifice vividly displayed here. You cannot help but stand still for a moment and say a thousand times, THANK YOU. I'm grateful to the men and women who laid down their life so that we might have freedom - and incredibly thankful for the men and women who continue to put their lives on the line, day in, and day out. This sacrifice - it is not taken for granted - we say THANK YOU a million times over, knowing that is not enough, but stand respectfully and remember today, and every day that freedom is not free.

“Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid, and passionate lives. All of these men and women were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for 'her'. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins. Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of 'her' children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.” ~President Ronald Reagan

Adam & Jordyn {Notre Dame, Chicago Engagement Photographers}

I first met this sweet couple on the campus of Notre Dame on a beautiful fall day back in November. The air was crisp. The sun was shining. And their love was glowing. It was a joy venturing around campus with them, learning more about how their paths crossed. That's one thing we LOVE when we meet new couples ... learning how they first met - and how eventually they fell in love ... they're always beautiful stories ...

Jordyn is a huge Notre Dame fan ... Adam ... well, not so much. But what Jordyn wanted, Adam was happy to oblige ... which is quite gallant if you ask me! ;)

Earlier this year, we also ventured to downtown Chicago ... because what's not to love about the 'Windy City'! It was really a perfect day ... with blue skies ... a little breeze ... and beautiful sunshine ... not to mention their sweet love!

Congratulations to this beautiful pair. <3 

“Love is like the wind, you can't see it but you can feel it.” ~Nicholas Sparks