Crazy Weather of 2011

Last night I jumped out of bed and went to the window and said, “Shawn I think there is a tornado, I’ve never seen rain fall sideways!”.  I turned on the news and the first thing I heard was, “If you live in Wildwood, seek shelter now.  Right now.  There was a tornado just west of Wildwood.”  My parents live in Wildwood too and I was surprised my dad hadn’t sent me a text me already.  So I sent him some comment like, “I’m hiding in my basement”.  He knows I don’t have a basement, I live in a condo.  I didn’t get a text back for a little while.

Later my dad called and asked if I was ok.  I told him how we just had really bad wind and hail and he told me that their house took a big hit.  Shawn and I waited until the storms had passed to drive by their house that night.  It was so bizarre because the five minute drive to their house was perfectly fine and then we hit my parent’s next door neighbors house. Different story.  Drove a little more and oh my goodness, tons of trees down.  Trees everywhere.  We waited until bright and early this morning and take a closer look. It was a lot more than trees.

Neighbors were out bright and early this morning.  Some said they heard a train sound and some reported it sounding like a huge vacuum.  Some had houses with a few shingles off and others had barns roofs off.  Some had their trash cans still up from last night and some had a tree on top of their house.  I think that is what was the craziest part of all of this.  Where the storm hit, it hit.  Thank gosh a lot of the damage were trees around the property.  I mean it’s good that if something is going to go, it is a tree.  It’s very sad all of the trees were knocked down because I remember when my parents planted a lot of them. I think they lost at least a dozen or more around their yard.  Most of the trees just snapped.

Where is the trashcan?  Oh, it’s in the tree.

Where is the roof?  Oh, it’s on the driveway.

Where is the shed?  Oh, it’s in front of the house.  Let’s take a closer look as to how that shed got there. It used to be on that slab of gravel, where the shovel is now. (Obviously the messy deck is a direct result of the storm.)  We are thinking the shed was lifted up and pushed over the car and then possibly rolled around and down the driveway.

See the car?  That car was sitting there the whole time.  On the other side of the car, there is a tree on the deck, which I should have taken a picture of.  The shed couldn’t have rolled and fit through the hole.  Upon further investigation, the car had a broken antenna and a scrape on the roof, where we can tell something large scraped it, most likely the shed.  That car is a serious trooper.

See those stakes?  Those 14 inch stakes were lifted out of the ground where the shed used to be, on the deck.  The shed will need to be replaced, but man, did it withhold a lot!  The doors used to open outward, but they were sucked in and only open inside the shed now.  Unfortunately the things inside the shed did not survive either.  Here is Shawn and my dad pulling the shed in the back, to get it out of the way.

What else was damaged?  Their house, like a lot of other people in St. Louis.  They are *so* lucky with what damage they do have.  By lucky I mean they will need a whole new roof, new walls in the sun room, and probably a new floor.  The whole back room will need to be replaced.  It’s amazing what a night of rain can do without a roof and ceiling.  The ceilings have dark spots on it because the sun room was leaking all day and the walls had so much water in them.  The roof is buckling in in the corner and has a hole.  You can touch the walls and feel pockets of water in the walls.  The foyer side of the house was damaged as well, with siding ripped off.  The privacy fence separating their house from the neighbors was also taken down.  A barn window was shattered and parts of the barn roof was taken off.  Again, they are so lucky and everything that was damaged and lost can be replaced.  It’s just going to take awhile.

Today was spent taking it all in, assessing the damage, and cleaning up.  It looks the best it can before insurance will get things fixed.  My dad was on the phone so many times today talking to so many different people.  I feel so lucky that here, just a few miles away, in the little old condo, we didn’t have any damage.  We are hoping this storm and the one on the wedding day are enough for the year 2011.  I’m hoping Mother Nature is thinking the same thing, but then again it’s only February.  Here’s to also hoping the sirens go off before the storm next time.  😉

2011 Self Portrait | February

In case you missed it, I’m taking on a project where I have to take a self portrait of myself every month for 2011.  What did I learn in February about this taking on this self portrait task?  This is going to be harrrd.  I feel weird not looking at the camera when I’m taking it.  I will work on that for March.  Here I am in the second month of the year with my second black and white of the year.  I will work on color for March.  I really don’t like myself in front of the camera.  I will work on that this year.

Random tidbits about my February:

  • The new “studio”.  It’s nothing fancy and yes it’s in my second bedroom, but man…I feel so good about it. I’m continuing my journey in photography and learning new things every day.
  • Completing wedding thank you letters and starting to write down our wedding story.
  • Waking up on weekdays to work out before work.  This is the hardest thing we have done this month but it feels good when I get home from school and know I don’t have to do it then.
  • I love after Winter Break because First Graders are totally different than when we started the year.  They come in as babies and leave as little readers.  There is no grade like First.
  • Watching TV on a laptop through Hulu because we’re still too cheap to get cable.
  • The blizzard of the decade that never happened.
  • 70 degrees in February!  Needless to say, I rolled down the top on the Jeep after work one day and I was in heaven.  Of course, it was 30 degrees the next day but life is all about the little things.

Our Wedding | Part 1

Our wedding was everything and more that I have always dreamed of.  Our life has finally slowed down to a point where I can sit down and start writing it all down so I can remember it forever.  I will break up the wedding into pieces, just as I remember it.  I remember the whole day people saying, “soak this all in”, “are you living in the moment?”,  “are you breathing?”,  “make sure you don’t forget anything”, “take time to step back and just watch”. As many times as people tell you that it is so hard to do, the whole day is a whirlwind (and in our case, a tornado!).  I am writing everything as I remember it.  It might contain some things that people are like, “she’s blogging that?!”.  I’m writing it as the day happened, this is my blog and this is how I remember it, and I’m writing this as a bride.


Wedding day 6:30 AM

I wake up to the sound of, well…let’s just say my matron of honor is a feeding mother without her baby at the hotel.  So yeah, that’s what woke me up on my wedding day.  I look around and two of my bridesmaids are zonked out on the pullout and the Amy is in the bathroom, pumping.  I look around and on the wall there is champagne from Amy’s bright idea of opening a champagne on the bed the previous night.  I open the windows and say, “wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey”…which is some saying Cassidy has said since forever and it has been a joke of ours for just as long.  Once everyone is up, Ashley walks to the breakfast place across the street and brings me back eggs.  “Make sure you eat!”  I was told that at least 12 times on my wedding day.  Megan Hubbard calls bright and early and brings us all Starbucks.  I look out the window and try to stay optimistic, “it’s not going to rain today!  The weatherman is wrong!”.  My cousin and bridesmaid, Kelly, calls.  She asks if I still want her to pick up cute umbrellas for the bridesmaids.  “No. We won’t need them.  The weather man is wrong, it won’t rain.”


The rest of the bridesmaids arrive and hair and make up start setting up.  I sit in the chair closest to the window and listen to everyone talk about the big day.  Megan Short sits on the bed 8 months pregnant and asks Amy all kinds of motherly questions.  The questions get deep and turn gross and I remind them, this is not birthing day, this is wedding day.  We all laugh and the topic changes to something else.  I make the comment, I’m kind of glad I don’t have a videographer because we’d be reminded of this conversation.  My mom gets her hair done in the bathroom followed by Amy and Kelly.  My hairstylist ,Heather, does Megan H., Megan S. , and then it’s my turn.The weather is no longer perfect outside.  It’s windy, stormy, and I’m afraid for my life.  Just kidding on the last one.  Who has a December wedding and expects awesome weather?  Not me.  I bought my bridesmaids these cute little faux fur coats for pictures so they can stay warm and look adorable. I remind myself, as long as there isn’t an ice storm, it will be ok.  I am ok, I know I will be married at the end of the day but in a little way, I am bummed we cannot do outside pictures.  My photographer reminds me not to worry, she is going to get creative and pictures won’t be a problem.  I trust her.  Cassidy turns on the TV and the first thing we hear is “there is a severe weather alert out for St. Louis County”, she quickly turns it off and we all laugh.  Everyone is checking their phones and looking at each other.  They hide how bad the weather is from me.

My mom gets a text from my aunt who is at the reception hall helping set up the final details.  I can tell from the look on her face that something is wrong.  She gets that little look and then smiles, and tells me everything is ok.  “Just a few telephone lines on the ground from the wind”.  My hairdresser gets a few calls from her dad that is worried about her because the news is calling for tornados.  I get up to use the restroom, and on my way down the hotel hall, I hear the sirens go off.  Looking back on it, I was in my own little world.  I wasn’t worried.  I wasn’t afraid.  I wasn’t registering the weather.  I was getting married.  I sit back down to get my hair done and the phone in the hotel room rings.  I will never forget this part of the wedding day. Megan H. picks up the phone.  She looks out the window.  Her face looks worried.  She hangs up the phone and starts laughing.  “What did they say?!”, I shout and laugh at the same time.  “The hotel manager told us to stay away from the windows.”  We all start laughing because we are all so close to the windows getting our makeup done. Again, I stay calm, a tornado wasn’t going to ruin my day.  Little did I know at this point how bad the tornado really was and what it did to Watson Road, the road where our reception was on! Despite the storm, my wedding crew held up and our hair and makeup turned out fabulous!

It is time to try on the veil.  The veil is almost as exciting to me as the dress itself.  The crazy part of it all, is that I wasn’t going to do a veil.  Not that I don’t like veils, but I could not find one I liked.  I ended up asking my grandma to make one and her and my Aunt Kathy made me one that was so me.  It is perfect in every way.  It is big, fun, NYE-vy…and just me.  The moment I put on the veil I felt like a bride.  I was a bride.  The lady that altered my dress has asked my aunt to make veils so she can sell in her shop!  How fun is that?!  Yes, I have a custom veil.  I feel good.
I am reminded again that I must eat.  I’m not hungry at all, my nerves are starting to set in ever since that veil was put on me.  I’m not nervous to see Shawn, I’m just nervous because I get nervous.  My mom made this wonderful chicken salad, veggie, and fruit tray.  I eat a little just so people stop telling me to eat.  It’s now time to put on the dress.  It’s not my first time to put on the dress since picking it up at the shop the day before.  Right after the rehearsal last night, the girls asked me to put it on and I did as I was told.  They didn’t have to twist my arm, I wanted to put it on!  Putting on the dress the day of the wedding is one of those things I will never forget.  You know, you are standing there without clothes on and everyone is around you, helping you put it on because you are helpless.  Yeah, I won’t forget that.
My flowers are dropped off.  I’m in love.  Tina, my florist,  tells me she normally is afraid that flowers in December will freeze.  With the weather report reaching 70 degrees (St. Louis, in December!) she jokes that my flowers might wilt.
Earrings, jewelry and we are ready to go.
It’s time to meet Shawn!  To be continued.

Photography: My friend and photographer, Jessica at J.Grace Photography
Hair: My wonderful hairstylist, Heather at Salon Escape.
Makeup:  The awesome and talented Emily at Delicately Bold.
Florist: The amazing and already booked for 2011, Tina at The Special Event Florist.
Veil:  My talented and crafty Aunt Kathy Strauch and Gail Kreienkamp
Dress: Demetrios
Hotel: Wildwood Hotel

Aiden | St. Louis Baby Photographer | Wildwood, MO

How excited am I to say, Katie McCaw Photography now has studio capabilities?  Oh yes.  This has been a long time coming for me.  What pushed me over the edge to just do it?  Winters are cold here in St. Louis which leaves several months of not being able to photograph baby clients!  Days are unpredictable in the summer.  It might rain when I’m on my way to a shoot which leaves me having to get really creative with lighting.  Which is ok, but it just got to the point where I needed it.   Sure I love natural window light, but some days that just isn’t going to happen.  So here we are and I can hardly control my excitement with everything!

Who else to bring in the new lighting other than little Mr. Aiden.  Some of you might remember him from Katie Stasiak.  I photographed him just a few days old…he was a dream baby to photograph back then.  He was a wonderful sleeper for his newborn photo shoot and this time he was full of smiles.   Aiden was getting better after a week of being sick.  I bet you can’t tell because he was just a happy little thing for his pictures.

Lighting and Scarlett

Holy Moly…Scarlett hasn’t been featured on the new blog yet?  For those that don’t know… Scarlett makes blog appearances more than the average dog.  I take so many pictures of this poor dog.  She is my practice with everything photography related.  I try out lighting, color correction, settings, and everything else possible on her.   I can’t say Scarlett likes having her picture taken, but she puts up with it because I make her.  So when my new studio lighting came in on Friday and I called her over as soon as I set it up. I had to take her picture.  I was so excited to give it a try.  The shutter on my camera opened and closed and with the first click and flash, she gave me the, “what the heck is going on?” look. Generally, I’m a natural light photographer so this little pup hasn’t seen much of a flash in her whole life.

After I took a few pictures in the living room, I quickly set up a little background in the second bedroom where the lighting will mainly be used.  The following pictures are a result of her wondering why on earth the room would be flashing.  She was checking out the ceiling, looking at the floor, wondering what could possibly make the lighting change so quickly.  These lights were all new to her.  It was hilarious.

Once she figured out the flash was coming from the softbox, I had Shawn break out the lunch meat so she would cooperate a little.  After she had fresh meat in front of her, she paid no attention to me.

It was fun to play a little with my lighting but taking pictures of a dog is just not as fun as a real session with babies and kids.  Not to mention, the backdrop and flooring is not the final product so this was really just a “for fun” kind of thing!  Tomorrow I have a few more items being delivered to add to my home studio and then I’m sure Shawn and I will play a little more with everything.  I have a feeling there will be a “for fun” Katie and Shawn post coming later this week.