last night, as i was laying on my couch (contorted in awkward positions only comfortable to me), i wasn't really paying attention to the tv playing in the background. one of my favorite shows, rookie blue, was on. as our thursday ritual, my best friend andrea and i were watching it "separately/together." we try to watch it together, with wine, but this week she was traveling home from her anniversary vacation.
as i lay there, i realized she and i both weren't paying attention. we were texting back and forth pictures of her daughter, ava. you see, today is ava's first birthday, and we couldn't believe how much she'd grown.
ava may not be my niece by bloodlines; andrea and her husband aaron are both only children so ava will never have any aunts or uncles. it's occurred to me over this past year, and the months before, that your family isn't just blood, it's also those that you weave into it. andrea has been a sister to me, and i love ava as though she is my niece. i also fully intend to spoil her as such.
i remember laying in bed, wide awake, august 8th of last year. dre's mother and i both couldn't sleep and were texting one another throughout the night as we prayed for andrea to have a simple labor. i woke up in the morning, before my alarm had gone off at 6:30, and had this sense of calm. i "knew" she was almost here, and i teared up. minutes later, right before 7:00, jas text me that she'd arrived.
now, i'm not an emotional person. i have a very simple (and slightly neurotic) list of things that will make me cry. of these (notre dame football, the olympics, and politics) none are your typical girly triggers. when i received that first picture of this precious little baby, waterworks.
she was beautiful.
she is beautiful.
it was all i could do to get through work that thursday and go meet avelyn michaela. when i did, she smelled like baby, had the most precious little pout, and was perfect. seeing dre with her daughter for the first time was one of the most amazing things; she was instantly a mama, and the love she and aaron immediately had for ava was apparent.
flash forward to today, i cannot believe this sweet girl is already a year old. she is one of the sweetest, most sensitive babies i've ever met. she is constantly smiling and laughing (especially at my face, i guess i do that for her) and has the most wonderful attitude. i think i've heard her cry three times in a year...and one of those was when she rolled off the couch because her auntie was a dumb. she has made aaron and andrea the happiest parents, and i love watching my best friend mother her daughter.
i still have the parking lot voucher from the hospital in my car from the day i first met her. apparently i'm rather sentimental. whenever i reach to get my sunglasses and feel it there, i smile a little. ava is a wonderful reminder of a great friendship, and she is loved so much. i hope that, though we may not be blood, that i can play the auntie role for her as though we were. i will be there to take her pictures throughout her lifetime, give her sweets when her mama isn't looking, and listen to her as she grows when she doesn't want to go to her parents with awkward questions.
and i will always have gum.
ava, you adorable, smart, loved, loved, loved girl, happy first birthday.
two very important things to know about your photographer:
take my word for how much i love our country, but see for yourself just HOW CUTE ava is!
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY, AMERICA!
some may call it obsessed. i stand firm of the opinion that i just know a good thing when i see it.
the university of notre dame is a good thing.
growing up in south bend i was raised an irish fan. i remember being a little, little girl watching football games with my dad. by watching, i mean i was playing on my kitchen set while dad paced around the living room because he couldn't sit still. it was at this young age that something was instilled in me that notre dame, the irish, they're something special. in middle school, after my grandad's passing, my mom and gramma and i took an (ill-fated) trip to jacksonville, fl to watch the irish play in the gator bowl. the love-affair with the irish is a family thing, and my gramma knew how badly i wanted to see autrey denson's last game. while we may not have won the game...i may have inadvertently wound up with four broken toes after the loss...we may have been stranded for four days because there was a blizzard in south bend...and i may have missed my 13th birthday at school (big deal!), my love for all things notre dame football never faltered.
it occurred to me this past week, saturday around 11:30 to be exact, that this season is a bit of welcomed, good karma for all irish fans. you see, i wobbled around on crutches in three feet of snow after an irish loss in 1999. after that, it was a rough decade+. we, as fans, have learned there are few things more painful than faked field goals, last minute field goals, Bush-pushes, and worst-seasons-in-the-history-of-ever. i lived outside of michigan stadium for four years of my life; being an irish fan isn't always easy. but this year? this year has made up for it all.
this year i watched every home game at notre dame stadium.
this year we saw manti te'o lead his team to 12-0.
this year the university of notre dame will play for a national championship ON MY BIRTHDAY.
i cannot put into words how excited and still dumbfounded i am that i'm witnessing this season. i've always heard of the famed lore of winning seasons and championships past from my dad, but now i get to experience it. so, this is what winning feels like? i'll take it.
the following are a few images i captured from senior day against wake forest. i hope you enjoy them as much as i enjoyed being there to see manti take the field at home one last time. oh, and one last thing:
**images are for my personal collection only and are not for sale due to NCAA compliance rules.**
My hometown of Dexter, MI, a small village west of Ann Arbor, was hit by a series of F3 tornados on March 15, 2012. The tornados went directly through my neighborhood, starting their destructive wake in front of my parent's house. Dozens of homes were leveled, while nearly 100 in our subdivision and across the village saw damage.
MIRACULOUSLY, no one was injured, not one person went to the hospital, no one died. While the images are terrifying, the tragedy could have been exponentially worse. I am so thankful that my family, and the families of those that live in Dexter, are all safe, and so proud that the community has come together so quickly and selflessly to help those that lost their homes.