Some of the best days of our lives are the ones filled with wonderful tiny ordinary moments. April 24, 2016 was a great day! It started off like so many others, the ho hum morning routine. Wake up, make breakfast, clean up, get ready, pack the bag. You all probably know the drill. Getting a toddler ready and out of the house relatively on time by myself is never easy for me. However we didn't rush and allowed enough time. It was a beautiful day, sun was shining, spring flowers in bloom, and temperatures were in the mid 70s to low 80s. I had hopes of going to the park with my three year old daughter, Annabelle, in the morning before we left but that didn't happen. My daughter and I did get a few minutes to play in the backyard and admire our beautiful tulips and play for a few minutes before we left. We drove an hour to met my mom, sisters, aunt and my husband (who was out there for a soccer game as a ref). We had brunch at this wonderful place, Benedict's Eggs and More in Dundee. I can't believe we just discovered this place a couple weeks before! It's a few minutes from my mom's house where I grew up and it is just my kind of place. (I will gush about it later in another post)
After brunch I headed over to nearby Sleepy Hollow for a portrait session. I often let me clients pick the locations for their portrait sessions. I travel all over Chicago and the suburbs (even sometimes Indiana and Iowa too) so I trust that my clients know some of the local spots. Also many times they will have locations that are significant to them like their home, a favorite park, place they go together. I do have some of my own favorite places too. However I love exploring the new places too and love how it pushes me creatively.
My friend Johanna picked Sabatino Park or as she told me Sleepy Hollow Park, which I basically understood. I was so excited for the spring portrait session, all the apple blossoms and tulips were in bloom. As I pulled up to the park a lot of memories came flooding back to me but not a lot of inspiration. I played soccer on those soccer fields many years ago and I watched fireworks throughout the park too. I could see myself clearly in those memories however I couldn't envision the portrait session I was about to photograph. The visions and thoughts I had earlier went out the window as I continued to drive around the area hoping to find a flowering tree or beautiful spring flowers. There were lots of open fields, a few trees and a playground but no real flowers. I started to worry this was not the spring portrait session I was hoping for. I thought well maybe I can convince her to go somewhere else. I did find this little trail and one flowering tree tucked away maybe that could work, just maybe. I kept thinking well let's try it but I am not sure I will get enough for a full session so will probably have to finish the session somewhere else.
I started the session "getting warmed up" and catching up with Johanna. I couldn't believe how long it had been again. Johanna and I waited tables together long ago and become good friends. So many great times together! We lost touch like most people do during college, moves, and raising families. Through social media we reconnected. She contacted me a few years ago to take photos of her daughter. I love that I have a job that gives us all an excuse to get together and make it happen instead of not finding the time. This is now our third portrait session together although this time I made her promise that we would be getting together outside of portrait sessions. I am holding you to that Johanna! I always start my portrait sessions slow, especially with kids. I let the kids play and do their thing while I "get my lighting set" and talk to them and the parents. Often time these photos are my favorite. They think I am warming up and so they don't worry about me and let their personalities shine. Stella played with dandelions while her mom and I talked. I love the dandelion wand she created. Stella is such a sweet and creative girl.
Since it was a beautiful day we walked over to the path I had found. It was little bit of a hike but I am so glad we did decided to walk over. Stella continued to play with the dandelions on the walk, making wishes. She wrapped the blanket they had brought with around her as we walked. It was such a great childhood moment, I photographed while we walked.
And then she handed me a once seeded dandelion stem and told me as she blew the seeds, "I wish for you to have the best day of your life." What an amazing wish for someone! I thought about her wish all day and for days later too. All day no matter what happened I thought about that wish and how I was going to make today the best. It was amazing how one simple thought could really affect the whole day. I had a great day and a lot of it was because of that little girl and her wish for me. It might not have been the best day of my life but I had some of the best moments of my life that day! It's hard to ever claim you had the best day of your life of course the day you accomplish something big, get a reward or degree, your wedding day, the day you become a parent, or the day a new family member is born are all in contention for the best day of your life right? But it's impossible to pick just one. I believe we don't have a one best day but we have a series of best moments that add up together to make a wonderful life. I had a lot of best moments that day: making memories with family, spending time with Stella and Johanna, enjoying the beautiful spring weather and finding an amazing spot for photos tucked away down a little trail at the corner of an otherwise fairly plain park.
Stella, I feel like you grew up right before my eyes! Thank you so much for your wonderful wish for me. You are so sweet, kind, loving, funny, creative and smart. Please stay true to yourself always for you are amazing and have a great personality and outlook of life! And yes you are one of my favorite kids--well outside of my daughter and family as you pointed out but you are definitely on my favorites list! I hope my daughter is a lot like you when she is older. I will always think of that wish you made for me! Thank you for showing me that every day can feel like the best if you wish it to be so and realize that all the tiny moments make it wonderful.
Johanna, Thank you for spending a wonderful afternoon with me and for choosing me again to document a few moments in time of your daughter's life. I love seeing you two interact and the strong mother daughter love and bond you two have. You are such a great mom and you are raising an amazing daughter. Happy Mother's Day! Hopefully see you in a couple weeks!
Jon, Mom, Stephanie, Amy, Auntie PeeWee, Thank you for coming to my new favorite brunch place with me and for watching Annabelle while I worked. I loved spending time with you all and Annabelle. I had some of the best moments throughout the day!
To everyone else reading this, thank you for taking time to look at the images and read all of this long first post. They might be shorter in the future but for those of you who know me and my love of story telling you know that is a funny thought. This was not the spring portrait session I had envisioned it. Some times in life you have to set aside expectations and be open to where the day (or path) may take you. You might find that it is better than you imagined and some of the best moments of your life.