Sunday, November 14, 2010

200th Post, Birthdays, and 5 years of love

200th. This is my 200th blog post!! I can't even believe that enough time has gone by to sustain 200 blog posts. For the sake of nostalgia, I tracked down the very first blog post I made. Sarah brought me with to Tony and Valerie's engagement session on Navy Pier. It was a dreary, wet day and I had borrowed my mom's Canon XTi camera and lens to use for the shoot. I very distinctly remember getting out car after parking, pushing my camera at Sarah and saying "I don't even know what to look for to make sure this is set up right for this.". I ended up accidentally shooting the entire shoot at 1600 ISO. Thankfully no one was counting on me for usable photos! Take a look....HERE..... thankfully I've gotten better :) I treasure that shoot though because it was the start of the crazy, thrilling dream of mine.

200 posts...and my birthday. Today is my 25th birthday, and I have embraced this birthday with open arms, and excitement. I have a dream list for this year. I figured I'd start it now instead of at the new year. The list is full of intensely personal goals, life goals like "stay healthy this year", and "mark the moment" kind of things. One of my favorite quotes is from Ben Stein and it says "the first thing to getting what you want out of life is this: know what you want.". So this year, I'm asking for things, I'm dreaming for things, and I'm making very specific requests from life.

200 posts, my birthday....and 5 years of love. 5 years ago, Nick was working three jobs, one part-time with me, one one the other part-time days, and one that he usually worked until midnight. I came into work on my birthday morning, and he came up to my desk and placed a tin in front of me with a birthday card in a red envelope on top. The tin held mint chocolate chip cookies that he made for me at 1am that morning, and they came with a dinner date invitation. Around a mouthfull of cookies, we settled on that Saturday night. It felt like the longest week of my life that week. I was so sure Saturday was neeeeeverrrrr going to come. But it did, and we fell in love, and this year marks 5 years of being together. 5 years of loving. 5 years of learning. 5 years of compromising. 5 years of being best friends. Nick makes me cookies, or some form of dessert, every year for my birthday. This year, I came home from lunch with my mom yesterday to find him standing by the kitchen table, with these scrumptious cupcakes (and home made frosting), and this box waiting for me :)

(I used my point and shoot camera....photographers are allowed to have them!)
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The box? Held this. And I'm in love. It's so beautiful!
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It's a big day today. And Nick has made this such an amazing birthday. I'm so grateful for every new year of cookies. And I'm so excited about this next year.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pete, Joy and Anders :: The Neal Family

For some reason out of all the memories I have of Pete and Joy planning their wedding, the one that stands out the most to me is of me and Joy driving through Algonquin, me with books and folders of wedding planning notes and ideas sliding around on my lap, and talking about chair rentals and caterers. They put together a beautiful, beautiful wedding, full of personal things. Personal places. Personal people. Because that's who they are. They are personal people. They have a love for people. A passion to know the people around them, and to connect in their lives. So they pulled this personal-ness into their marriage. And I get to be a recipient of that. Joy moved to Michigan after she married Pete, and she went from being 15 minutes away from me to 3(ish) hours away. We have spent the years since making phone dates, gchatting when we're able to, and sending the occasional lengthy catch up email when it has just been too much time in between calls.

On one phone date recently, Joy told me that they were "trying". This was the first phone call I've ever had with a girlfriend about it. The official "we're ready for the next season of life" phone call. The "we're adult enough to handle an infant!" phone call!! I was happy and thrilled and ready to ask every month if it was time to start buying receiving blankets and onsies. And then? It happened. The "it's positive" text came through, followed by a lot of screeching and excited chattering over the phone. Their son is set to be born right after the first of the year!

First comes love....
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The comes marriage....
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Then come baby in a baby carriage!!
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I sprained my back two days before we did this shoot. I was hopped up on vicodin, moving like a 94 year old, and these two dealt with me like champs! It was almost amusing - and quite possibly the slowest shoot I've ever done.

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Joy is one of those obnoxious women that look good. All the time. For instance - here? She's 7 months pregnant, and wearing size 2 jeans! No belly bands or anything - just a rubber band rigged to lengthen the button space. But yeah. Size 2.
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Favorite.
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Second favorite.
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I was talking to Pete while Joy tottered off to change outfits and he says to me "yeah, she's so beautiful. I can't believe how attracted I am to her." My heart melted there on the spot. First of all, how romantic is that?! Secondly - this is one of my best friends. And he loves her. And that makes my heart happy.
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Love you both so much. And this baby is going to be so blessed. And so social :) CLICK HERE for a slideshow!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Treadway Family :: Everyday

Many of you that follow my blog know about my friend Jenni. And those of you that know Jenni know that we have been best friends going on 21 years now. When you look back on 21 years of friendship, there are a lot of memories that mix families - both immediate and extended. Her Omi and Opa? My Omi and Opa. Her cousin? My cousin. If for no other reason that the frequency of me being around - her family became mine, and I was accepted into hers.

So when Jenni's cousin Nadine came to the States from Germany when I was....10? It was only normal that I spent time with her, sleepovers at Omi and Opa's, and probably a trip to the zoo thrown in there. The picture evidence from that first trip proves poor fashion sense, a liking towards scrunchies, pre-braces teeth, and three awkward girls hugging and loving each other.

Well all since then - Nadine fell in love (conveniently for her family in the states) with a rugged, handsome, and all together super-hero-quality-of-awesome US Army man stationed nearby her home in German and they got married. After a long, and very difficult deployment period, they came back to the states to settle for a few years. Although we only have her on loan - and I don't get to see her nearly as often as I wish to! - I love having her on my side of the pond, and love to see her happy with her family.

Nadine let me (and Jenni!) stay with her the night before Mike and Jill's wedding, and I insisted on taking some photos of their baby man, Jackson, while we were there. To my great sadness, Jackson's one year birthday came and went without my meeting him. When I finally (finally!) got to meet him, I was smitten. This kid? Cutest ever.

Okay - I have to start photos with this one. It's not the earliest photo of us, but thankfully I don't personally have evidence of that atrocious look :) Me and Nadine circa 2006.
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And circa 2010 with Jenni :)

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Jackson has his mommas big soft eyes, and his daddy's impish looks. Combined they create this little heartbreaker.
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He has an addiction to holding chapstick tubes. It's akin to a comfort blanket for him. Nothing - not even the football that rolled into our shoot - could make him set it down.
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I love this one of him and his momma. I know it's blow out, and the color is bad, but it's simple. She's watching him and he's testing out his steps.
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Seriously? Could he BE cuter??
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This makes my heart happy.
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I asked Zack and Nadine what it was like being parents. How are they adjusting, even after a year of doing this parenting thing? How are they seeing their relationship change? Is it hard for them to find time for just them? Do they ever have moments of wishing it was quiet and calm?
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Zack looked me in the eye and said with unhesitant assurance that having Jackson was worth every sacrifice. He said he didn't miss the things he's had to give up. He looked at Jackson sitting next to Nadine at the dinner table with such love....
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Nadine was meant to be a mother. She is patience in human form. She is gentle and playful, fiery and fierce, and will be able to wrestle with the best of them when Jackson's big enough.
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They are a family now. It's an amazing transformation for any two people to make. But these two? They make it look easy. They have so much love between them that it makes sense that a baby was added to pass some of the extra love to.

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I love you all so much. Even if you wear tweed jackets with leather elbow patches :)


CLICK HERE for a slideshow!!