Good Morning, Lovely.

I’m alive and well for those that still periodically come and check this blog. I sincerely appreciate those that have checked in, wondering when I would post again. It means a great deal, and is quite surprising, those of you that have stuck around waiting and waiting and waiting. I’m humbled. It’s been on my heart to start blogging again, however, things have changed. I’ve changed. I’m hoping it’s for the better and there is much I wish to share.  Starting over isn’t easy. I’ve been avoiding it, not knowing exactly where to begin.

We moved to Denver, then back to Texas. We bought a home, we sold a home. We remodeled a home. We had a house fire. My precious mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. We went to Disney. I found out I was pregnant. Our house was fixed and we moved in. Mike and I celebrated seven years of marriage. My mom was healed of breast cancer. I turned thirty. Mia Grace turned five. We had a beautiful baby girl named Ellie. Six days later, she affixiated while feeding and stopped breathing. We landed a six day stay in the NICU. We took her home for six more days. She started vomiting for an entire week and lost weight. She was finally diagnosed with pyloric stenosis and required emergency surgery. She was healed. Six days later she was diagnosed with RSV. RSV took its course and she eventually got healthy again.

I cherished every second of maternity leave. I hired my dream photographer to come and photograph MY family. I eventually started working again and have cherished each and every new and loyal client. I AM CHANGED.

So, that’s where I am. There aren’t enough pages to fully express the fear, helplessness, joy, anger, confusion, sadness, disbelief, relief, peace, and contentment I have experienced over the past year. I think I’m still coming out of the fog, hoping to process how much my heart has swelled with love for my family, for my life, and for my God … for through it all, He has been good. Not because of healings, or good outcomes, but because in the helpless moments, the deep dark places I thought I had been before, it was in those moments that I wasn’t alone. I don’t know how or why, but He was there. I am so thankful I wasn’t alone.

I mentioned in my year in review that I hired my dream photographer to photograph my family.  Tara Whitney, as many of you already know, is an amazing family photographer in California. It’s always been my dream that one day she would photograph my family … I just always assumed we’d need to schedule a vacation to Cali eventually to make it happen. When she posted that she would be coming to Texas, I received a text message from a dear friend who knew how much I loved Tara.  I knew it was an amazing opportunity, so I jumped on it.  Custom photography is an investment. I was nervous about the commitment, about whether the timing was really right … I mean, after all, Ellie would only be 4 months old … not exactly the perfect age (not sitting, or even rolling over, etc.) That’s the age most of us photographers avoid. Something in my heart convicted me of how silly that was … that every moment is perfect, its fleeting … pretty soon, Ellie would be sitting, then crawling, then walking … and then starting Kindergarten, just like my Mia Grace will be in the fall. The time was PERFECT because it was borrowed time, our life at the moment, and I found great joy reflecting and communicating with Tara all the things that are meaningful to me about my family in this place, so that is what decided on.  I had originally thought of taking the family to the lake, the spot where Mike and I got married nearly eight years ago, but the truth was that the memories I truly wanted to remember are right here in this home.  I LOVE my home. That’s the first time I’ve ever been able to say that and mean it. I love it so much, it truly is my dream house and I feel so blessed to get to live in it. It’s a true reflection of us as a family and we live in every single square foot of it. Each nook and cranny holds moments and memories I wanted to remember.

Two days ago, I received access to this slideshow via email (I basically recreated exactly what Tara had sent me, only mine’s a little faster only because I can’t slow it down with the program I used! ha!) The song, the images, its just so perfect.  I watched it early in the morning … the only morning I got up at 6 am with Ellie (the other mornings, my wonderful family took her so I could sleep!), so I got to watch this while feeding my sweet baby in Charleston, SC on the last day of our vacation, while sitting in a beautiful light filled beach house. That in itself is a special memory I will never forget!

I plan to share more about the Tara Whitney experience and will post a few of my favorite images for you to dissect as I have and why I love them so much later, but for now, I wanted you all to experience what I did that morning. Many of you will just see images of a family full of love with lots of imperfections, but those of you who know me, who know us, I hope you catch all the little details that truly reflect who we are.  For the session, we just decided to be as we are on Saturday mornings … (minus the beds made and the house a lot cleaner 😉 ) It was scary and I felt very vulnerable … much more so than I anticipated … but what she captured was pure magic. NONE of this (besides the last 5 or so images of us on the porch, and those really arent either, just hey, sit here.) was coerced or acted out at all. This is our life. I hope you enjoy! (and for the record, I wish I could buy each of you a session with her!)

The reason my heart exploded a few days ago. Anyway, here it is!

TIPS: Turn up your volume! and, this is HD, so pause it and wait for it to load before watching OR if you are impatient and have a slow connection, click on the bottom righthand side where it says 720pHD and choose 360p.


Client Love: Chandler | Decatur High School Senior Photographer: […] I mentioned in my Good Morning, Lovely post, I recently went back to work from a wonderful maternity leave.  However, I worked pretty much […] (Feb 24, 2015 at 22:14 pm)
Heather Walker: I thought I commented before... but I think I was too speechless... something made me think of this video and I had to come back today to play again... I can't imagine how you must feel watching it b/c I'm so touched by the images and it's not even my family ;) So glad you have this to cherish forever!!! (Aug 02, 2012 at 12:03 pm)
kris: can i ask who sings this song? (Jun 26, 2012 at 10:24 am)
Laurie: Stunning!! Life is GOOD;) I would love to have her take ours. However, I can't see her coming to out in the middle of nowhere Kansas any time soon! (Jun 20, 2012 at 09:17 am)
love, love, loveloveLOVE!!! » [...] This is EXACTLY where my heart is with my new session format.  Check out Tara’s beautiful family post HERE.  Check out her client’s take on it HERE. [...] (Jun 18, 2012 at 06:06 am)
ellen patton: Wow -- there's a lot of love in those photos. (Jun 16, 2012 at 21:18 pm)
Amber M: I was so touched by your photos on Tara's blog. Simply beautiful! So many sweet shots...especially of your little one. (Jun 16, 2012 at 18:11 pm)
jen: yes. this. is so so lovely. a perfect way of capturing what an everyday looks (feels) like. thanks for sharing. (Jun 10, 2012 at 23:39 pm)
Crystal: Gloria, me too ;) Shannon, thank you for your kind words ... and I couldn't agree more about inspiring others to want everyday images. I've been so impressed by the amount of people that have connected with the images. I'm hoping I get more clients wanting this too! Thank you Mason! (Jun 10, 2012 at 22:21 pm)
Mason Dickel: Aw guy I just needed to take time to claim i adore looking at your site! (Jun 10, 2012 at 20:14 pm)
Chandler | Decatur High School Senior Photographer » Love, Me Blog: [...] I mentioned in my Good Morning, Lovely post, I recently went back to work from a wonderful maternity leave.  However, I worked pretty much [...] (Jun 09, 2012 at 13:49 pm)
shannon: i loved watching this. thank you so much for sharing and for making everyday pictures a priority. i hope this inspires more people to want this kind of photo session :) your family is beautiful! (Jun 09, 2012 at 09:23 am)
gloria meredith: That's why Tara is one of the few photogs I still stalk here and there. :) (Jun 09, 2012 at 06:37 am)
Crystal: Answers to your burning questions HERE .. . I am so humbled by all of your kind words. Thank you for making me in my pjs way less awkward :) (Jun 07, 2012 at 16:30 pm)
Katy: I love them all, each and every one. what a gorgeous family and gorgeous home, these are such treasures! (Jun 07, 2012 at 00:08 am)
lauren: gorgeous. you are so lucky to have tara photograph your family in this way. and i love your home and your style! absolutely beautiful! (Jun 06, 2012 at 17:20 pm)
cindy b: absolutely BEAUTIFUL! everything about it - it's just amazing! What a beautifuly family you have!! And your home is so lovely!! (Jun 06, 2012 at 12:52 pm)
Trina: PS--I also LOVE your home!! What amazing style you guys have, it looks lived in and homey but still absolutely beautiful! Love your color choices! (Jun 06, 2012 at 11:37 am)
Trina: WOW!!! That was just amazing and you have the most beautiful family!! Truly a worthy investment I'd say!! That video would have made me cry (I was tearing up just watching & I don't even know you guys!) like a baby!! (Jun 06, 2012 at 11:35 am)
Nikki Morrow: Love these! And MAN DO I LOVE YOUR HOUSE! Your kids rooms are huge and gorgeous! Beautiful family, beautiful images! (Jun 06, 2012 at 11:34 am)
Kim: LOVE it! What's the song? It's so perfect! (Jun 06, 2012 at 11:30 am)
elisa: I came to your blog after seeing you on Tara's blog. I LOVE your house, and would love to see more of it. It's just so colorful and full of life!!! We just moved from Ohio to North Carolina and while I love my new house, I need some inspiration to jazz it up a big. Then I read your story- I am sorry it has been such a hard time for your family. Ha- I just read some of the other comments- I am not the only one that loved your house! (Jun 06, 2012 at 09:06 am)
Terri: Beautiful family. Beautiful pics. I hope to someday be able to have a photo session with Tara. I just have to say I absolutely love your baby's room. (Jun 06, 2012 at 08:19 am)
Cristin: I too linked up from Tara's site. What a beautiful blog post about your challenges throughout life this year. Your session is an inspiration to those who are waiting for the "perfect" timing in life. As we can see, there is beauty in the present moment and ordinary days. Thank you so much for sharing :) (Jun 06, 2012 at 07:36 am)
laura: I linked up from Tara's site. Your family photos are amazing. I love all the everyday moments that you will have forever. And I adore your home. All the paint colors. And the decor! Super cute. (Jun 06, 2012 at 01:25 am)
Melissa: Lovely. Beautiful home and beautiful family. I'd love to know where you got your daughter's bedding. (Jun 05, 2012 at 23:26 pm)
Shar: Lovely photos. You have a beautiful family and home. I love your taste! Where did you get your curtains and that cute mushroom foot pillow? (Jun 05, 2012 at 22:23 pm)
Alissa: Like Jessica, I saw your beautiful family on Tara's blog and wanted to say how much I enjoyed seeing such authentic moments and I also want to know about your curtains :) (Jun 05, 2012 at 22:20 pm)
Deb: absolutely beautiful...thank you so much for sharing! (Jun 05, 2012 at 22:12 pm)
Kelly S: I love your style & taste. Your family is gorgeous! Where did you find that adorable rug with the flowers in it? I could have "pinned" several fun things in your house. Besides your adorable children, your throw over the chair is also adorable! Simply Beautiful!!! Kelly from IL. (Jun 05, 2012 at 20:41 pm)
Jessica Anderson: stopped by from Tara's Blog. your photos are amazing!! If you get a chance, can you let me know where your living room curtain fabric is from, I love it!! (Jun 05, 2012 at 20:32 pm)
Aud Neal: Beautiful family, beautiful home, beautiful photos...thank you for sharing. Do you mind sharing the sources for your couches (they are EXACTLY what I want in our home) and the rug with the flowers made from what looks like felted wool balls? Thank you so much! (Jun 05, 2012 at 20:13 pm)
Jaime Lee Puskar: You have waffles every Saturday morning?!! Kacy and I are at the salon watching your video and this is exactly how I imagine your family... it's perfect. Love you all so much. (Jun 04, 2012 at 15:21 pm)
kristen duke: very very beautiful! (Jun 04, 2012 at 09:17 am)
Jamie Kutter: OH, and FINALLY I get to see how truly fabulous your home's insanely cute! (Jun 04, 2012 at 08:43 am)
Jamie Kutter: Oh I love this SO much! Because I know how YOU this truly is....what a perfect investment! I love the images at the end, they are so perfect! Make them huge! (Jun 04, 2012 at 08:42 am)
Sharon: Just plain perfect. I love everything about this. You have a beautiful family and home and Tara is a genius. Seriously love her work. (Jun 03, 2012 at 23:54 pm)
Tricia Dunlap: I am in TEARS right now (HAPPY tears!) - OH MY - how sweet and authentic are these photos?!!! What a treasure to have this time in your life captured JUST AS YOU ARE! WOW! I am so touched! Thank you for sharing!!! I know you must be over the moon! (Jun 03, 2012 at 23:29 pm)
haley b: crystal!!!! so awesome. thank you for sharing. i know you will cherish these forever - so glad you did it and that you got just what you wanted. so special. (Jun 03, 2012 at 22:35 pm)
Crystal: Thank you Beth. Kelly, thank you friend. Thanks for being so excited for me ... and I also have the beautiful birth images you captured as well!!! I am forever forever grateful to you. Thank you Claire! It's fun to live in a space you love and is a reflection of you. Never realized how important this was until this past year. (Jun 03, 2012 at 21:50 pm)
Crystal: Thank you Matt. I couldn't agree more. In 2010 it was sad the lack of just "everyday" images I had of Mia Grace and our family. I thought, geez, is this what I want, "mini portrait sessions" of her every month? That's when I decided to buy a point and shoot and start using Instagram. And you are SO right on. It's the series of images and Tara's talent that tell the story. Most of the images have some real depth to them alone, but viewing them together with this perfect song is truly priceless. I'd love to start giving this to clients around here! (not that I could compare to Tara :) ) (Jun 03, 2012 at 21:48 pm)
Claire Hill: Absolutely beautiful! I love your home and decorating style! I can see why you hired her!! Fantastic memories to cherish forever! (Jun 03, 2012 at 21:41 pm)
Kelly: Wow! Wow! WOW!!! Love every bit of it. I know you do too and I'm so happy for you that you have this forever! Between your dedication in capturing every day on your phone and this amazing piece of work, this will definitely be a year to remember! XOXO (Jun 03, 2012 at 21:36 pm)
Beth Lowney: This is a BEAUTIFUL! All the pictures, music and absolutely Blessed and Beautiful Family! (Jun 03, 2012 at 21:29 pm)
Matt: Beautiful story of your everyday life. I think what's great about these images is that you opened yourselves up to be authentically, imperfectly captured. Of all the images I have of our family, it's the unposed, unforced, this-is-how-things-really-are images with completely real, natural interactions that I love most. To have a whole series of them like you do now? Priceless. Well done, Crystal. And well done, Tara. (Jun 03, 2012 at 21:24 pm)