Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

“Out here in the middle” the kids can walk to the store on summer mornings to get a gravel top donut, go to a movie by themselves, walk to Jim’s office on main street just blocks away, and make the local paper almost weekly.

To quote one of Jim’s and my favorite shows “The Middle,” the Mom says “Sometimes things don’t end up how you expect, sometimes they end exactly how you expect, and sometimes you are not ready to see how they end, you just want to hold out hope a little longer”

This quote adequately sums up our last few years that we took a break from writing holiday cards, mostly because it was hard to put into words our lives after the boat explosion.  2011 was a very broken year for our family as we dealt with the shock of the accident, the grief of loosing one of Jim’s best friends, Cory Adams, coupled with the sorrow of letting go of our hopeful adoption in Uganda. Also, during this time the disease I have fought for 20 years worsened.  We never expected that God’s answer to prayer for rest and healing would be to move us to Superior, NE~a bustling town of 2000 on the border of Kansas, right smack dab in the middle (of no where)  Superior has a great Vineyard (Superior Estates,) a lake 15 minutes away (Lovewell,) a cute main street, beautiful fields and sunsets, a DQ, bowling alley, skating rink, Shopko, and one of the the largest public pools in the state of Nebraska….we are also the Victorian capital.

Jim moved here in August 2012 with Edward Jones and instantly loved the people and the company, so the kids and I joined him in July of 2013~in that year apart God drastically changed our hearts towards living in a small town, though it was hard to leave friends and family, our home and also close the doors to my photography studio.  We also love our new 1889 Victorian home.  The kids still get sad when we leave Lincoln after visiting, but by the time we pull into our garage they run in with smiles, excited to be home and begin to immediately plan play dates with Superior friends.

WHAT BETTER THAN TO HAVE FRIENDS IN MANY PLACES?!

I joke that last year it was Jim commuting and that this year it is our entire family living out of a suitcase.  We are on the road a lot to shoot weddings and portrait sessions, visit friends and family, play sports and we’ve been lucky to travel a bit. This summer we went to Hawaii and to Iowa where we had a great time kayaking, jet skiing and making new Edward Jones friends in the region.  This fall we also joined 20 other members of Jim’s family in Orlando.  With that many people we hardly saw each other!  Tatum and I had a sweet and fun day at Disney~she still believes in the magic!  We also took Teghan & Tatum and a few nephews to snorkel with the manatees; it literally was one of the best days of my life~I am in LOVE with these gentle giants of the sea that swim up to you then roll over to get their bellies rubbed and kiss your snorkel mask and look at you with these small black eyes that just melt your heart!

Needless to say, things have not turned out as expected or planned, but the one thing we did expect was for God to always “show up” (actually Jim does a great job keeping us all grounded in faith that it will all be okay, I don’t always have simple faith~but my questions in the end bring me closer to Him.  God showed us His love in Manatee kisses, snorkeling with sea turtles, a surprise going away party for Teghan that brought me to tears to see how much love she has in her life, meals/prayers/love from friends and family during times of grief and healing, a front porch that is perfect for drinking a Moscow Mule or coffee, new friends and a new addition to our family, a 7 year old Golden Doodle.  Stanley also became my analogy for illustrating that God knows what we need better than we do. When Cory’s family asked us to adopt Stanley, I did NOT want a dog, but he is PERFECT for our family and we could not imagine our lives without the love he brings~and it was perfect timing to provide a companion during our year apart from Jim.

Teghan (11)-Loves volleyball, basketball, reading hours every day, and playing teacher.  Her bedroom is always neat and organized, she was selected for the leadership team at school and earned an iPhone because she is so responsible.

Owen (10)-Loves to play basketball and football. Was one of the varsity football water boys, he loves reading books like “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” and “Guinness Book of World Records,” and can recite many random facts.  He likes to try magic tricks, play Mindcraft on the computer and listen to music on his I-pod.  He is our extrovert who will talk to anyone

Tatum (7)-She always has a messy room, loves horseback riding, crafts~she creates things daily-probably hourly~ (in the collage photo you can see her building with rocks on a beach in Hawaii, painting and being my photography assistant.) She loves planning parties, snuggling mom and is always writing sweet notes to those she loves.

Jim-Still catfishes, coaches basketball for the kids, loves his job and clients and makes great meals for our family!  & by the fact that he only gets one line in this letter you can tell he still likes to keep it simple!

Jamy~I still love shooting weddings & sessions, just not as many. I play in a bell choir which I would never have expected to do, but I am having fun making new friends and trying to keep up!  My health has improved greatly due to lots of rest, a husband that takes great care of me and lets me sleep in most mornings while he takes the kids to school and goes to work, a great Dr in colorado and by changing what our family eats.  On my journey of healing I have become passionate about food healing our bodies: this is much to our kids’ dismay, who long for gluten and sugar!

Our family highlights from the last 3 years: our zip line, rope swing, trampoline and campfire at our old Lincoln house, visiting Jim’s brother in Oregon, other trips to see friends and family, game nights, Jamy’s sister’s wedding in which we all had a role, new friends, and Tatum started school last year (I cried the whole summer leading up to it!)

We never expected this to be our story, but have learned that the unexpected is what God writes and that “the best stories are the ones that end with a kid.” (another quote from the Middle)

We wish you much LOVE, LAUGHTER and good health this year!

Love, the Sullivans

Beautiful weddings, even on cold days like today!

Katie & Tom’s Winter Wedding
Despite cold weather and snow, the day was nothing short of warm and spectacular

I am always looking for new ways to show off the bride’s dress–
Scoular Ballroom in Omaha, Nebraska had beautiful backdrops for the dress–I am not going to lie, hanging the dress from the chandelier made me a little nervous-I could just picture it all crashing to the floor…
Getting the dress up on all these locations was difficult too….good thing I had a tall basketball player groomsmen to hang the dress everywhere for me….I bet he was wishing he hadn’t shown up early…ha ha!

To show that this was a holiday wedding, I decided to shoot the garter on the Christmas tree, like a wedding ornament.

Cold weather did not keep us from venturing around downtown Omaha and the Old Market

Not the typical bridesmaids’ footwear, but who’s judging…it was COLD!

Old Market Fun….this was lots of fun for me because one of the groomsmen is my twin brother
and more fun…the groom, and 2 other groomsmen went to my high school and the flower girl for the day is my niece-(not in picture)

My twin brother, John Stallings and the Groom, Tom Jeffrey

Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

Downtown Omaha makes a great backdrop for a wedding day kiss!

We had to show off the holiday lights on Gene Leahy Mall

Stem Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska provided the flowers and decorations

I really loved the dramatic lighting of snow falling on the walls thru the ceremony and reception….it was absolutely beautfiul

After a day of I Do’s, traveling in a trolly, navigating snow in a wedding dress, mingling with friends and dancing…it’s time to call it a day.