Fall Mini Sessions!

It’s not too early to think about fall and holiday photos!


Ceit & Nadav | Ann Arbor Wedding

I had so much fun photographing this wedding at the Natural History Museum in Ann Arbor!  These two were so sweet– so much fun to photograph!

One Year Later….

It’s been a year since our home was knocked out by the EF3 tornado on March 15, 2012 that really screwed up my awesome little town of Dexter… We are settled in to our new home, finally have real blinds instead of paper ones, still no pictures on the wall and a garage that looks like an episode of Hoarders, but it’s home.  I’ve had a year now to get out thank you notes, but still haven’t done so– I have a plan for a photo for those, but it’s not happened yet.  And the fact there are so so many people to thank, that it’s still overwhelming to think about.  We still have insurance things we are dealing with- thankfully we have up to 2 years to claim things lost.  As each new sports season hit, we found things that didn’t make it.   We realize things each week…And things that baffle us that did not make it. Like my electric griddle– it was right next to some of our pans we got back.  We are not able to make pancakes as good as we used to! :)In the scheme of things?  Not a big deal.

There are a few people that I need to take the time to thank yet again.  First of all, my sister in law, Mindy.  From the first moment, she was starting to help find us a home, and then she made it a home, making endless calls, looking at rentals, looking for a place for us while we focused on recovery of items from our house.  She was tireless- she knew what I needed and just did it.  She listened throughout the summer as we built- I asked her 2,000 questions about paint, light fixtures and colors.  She went furniture shopping with me and held me as I broke down in the parking lot, overwhelmed with the emotions of what I was doing.  She took call after call from me, bitching, crying, sighing and sometimes just listened to me breathe.  She was a rock.  I will be forever grateful for all she did for my family. And check out the redesign she did on my office –> here!

My friends.  I am incredibly lucky to have a very close group of friends here in Dexter that loved me enough to put up with pretty much every emotion you can have.  Finding me in my yard that night.  From that first Monday breakdown I had behind Dancer’s Edge, to holding my hand as I walked into the donation center terrified.  They stood strong by my side helping me pick out things I needed to get through the week.  They didn’t laugh at my Meijer tennis shoes and Hanes underwear.  Oh wait, yes they did.  Because that was funny.  They saw me though so much anger.  While others were feeling blessed and thankful, I was pissed off.  So pissed off and angry at the situation, angry at my kids fear, angry at the world for having us deal with so much.  They were able to turn my anger to laughter, they were able to talk me down off ledges.  When it was time to stop being so angry, they were brave enough to tell me it was time. That takes true friends.  When you feel the worlds injustice, they told me to stop being so damn strong and for once, feel sad.  Feel helpless.  Feel.  That was my lowest point and my turning point towards healing.  That and professional therapy.  PTSD is real.  I am lucky to have these girls in my life… they cared.  They still care.  And they are hilarious.  One dear friend also dealt with (still dealing with) major damage to her home, but still cared about me and my situation to be there when I needed it.

My family.  They were there as much as they could be- coming over to help with the kids, listen to me cry- listen to be bitch (common theme, huh?) and just be there.  I’m so thankful for all of their help, love and support.

My brother.  He made me laugh harder than I have ever laughed in the days after the tornado.  Tornado Barbie (She’s a regional seller), garage sale, Hipster Angel, Tornado Sex…so many others.  He really should follow Red Cross trucks to take his gig on the road.  My family heals with laughter.  And I also heal with music.  I wasn’t able to listen to it for a long time.  But when I was ready, he had a playlist waiting.  One that would let me feel, the other that would help me celebrate.  He knew how to find songs that let me cry, and songs that helped me get better.  Someone who brings laughter and music into my life?  A keeper.  And he tolerated the 250 hours I spent on the phone with his wife.

My husband.  This kind of event could break a marriage.  Before the tornado he was traveling to California each week and it was rough.  We were arguing about whether or not to get a new roof (problem solved), new carpet (problem solved) and new cupboards (problem solved).  The travel was taking it’s toll, then to get the call he got from me that day was horrific for him.  To be that far away and not be able to help was awful.  It’s not a story he likes to tell.  His company was able to get him a local gig and he has just recently started traveling again.  But when you are forced to deal with all we had to starting with recovery to insurance to building, we’ve been through a ton.  Throughout it all he has been my rock.  We’ve navigated through some pretty rocky seas that even included getting into a car accident while on our way to pick out siding.  Our builder made the house building process smooth and we were able to deal with that part with more ease than expected.  Natural disaster, one week in a hotel, 6 months in a rental home, starting from scratch, moving in, unpacking, organizing… but we made it.  He made me laugh, help me when I cried and never made me feel bad for any emotion I was having.  Schmoop?  We made it…I love you.  Now deal with the garage.

Throughout the weeks that followed, a HUGE outpouring of support from all over was overwhelming.  These are just a few examples that stand out… so many people did so many things… I can’t begin to thank everyone…

  • My dear friends daughter handing me a $20 bill from her own bank to help us.  (Still tears me up…)
  • My other friends daughter going through her own toys, looking for things to give.
  • Getting a beautiful drawing from my niece with the simple message, “I’m sorry your house got wrecked.  We will help you build a new one.”
  • Getting a gift card and stuffed animals from a neighbor who moved away over 7 years ago.
  • The kids teachers who collected books to give my kids because they lost all of theirs.
  • A random mom at Bates (my daughter’s school) who handed me a generous Kohl’s gift card the first day back.  I still don’t know who it was that did that for me.
  • My kids friends parents who stepped in to take my kids so they could feel joy, have fun and feel normal.
  • Walking into my friend Deb’s house with no warning and without saying a word, she would give me a PB&J, glass of milk, then a cocktail.
  • The kindness of Melissa, Mindy and Debbie who organized the huge surprise of a stocked house, bowl of gift cards and all without me having a clue… clients of Melissa’s were dropping things off for her– they didn’t know me at all and still wanted to help.  Amazing.
  • So many giftcards.  We were so thankful to have insurance to cover what we needed, but that wasn’t immediate.  Being able to have a Target giftcard to get my kids socks, or lunch at Panera was an incredible relief.
  • Being able to text my kids teachers at the drop of a hat if it was too cloudy or stormy those few weeks after.  Knowing they were safe and loved at school meant more to us than you will ever know.

People deal with things in so many ways.  No way is right.  No way is the best way.  It’s individual and if how they deal with it, is publicly, for all to see- then so be it.  It took me a long time to accept that.  My friends pointed out that I was trying so damn hard to be strong and sure, that seeing people who were weak and needy infuriated me, and that’s not ok to be angry at them.  I changed my perspective.  It took a while, but I did.  I still am not a part of the “Blessed and Thankful” crew.  Am I thankful no one got hurt?  Of course. Am I thankful for all of the good things that came from our situation? Of course.  Do I want to make a charm to remember that day?  Nope.  Am I thankful for the tornado?  Hell no.  Please don’t tell me you were thankful for the tornado and would do it again, because of all the blessings that came from it.  Hell no.  You can’t lay on your children as they are screaming they were going to die and be thankful for that.  Call me bitter, call me wrong, but as much as I love my new kitchen, I would rather have not gone through what we did.  Am I still angry?  Not as often.  Not as intense.  Unless you talk to me about our lawn (or mud pit) situation… then I get crabby. I’ve come a long way… with the help of friends, therapy and family.

As we head into spring again, it’s hard to not be scared when the winds whip, the power flickers and that sense of urgency is in the air.  We will have storms.  We will inevitably have another tornado warning- and I tell you, it’s not just the kids who lived through major damage that will be scared.  It all of our towns children.  They saw what can happen.  We installed a safe room for the kids in our basement, complete with reinforced walls, bean bag chairs, hard hats and flashlights.  They can go anytime they don’t feel safe.  Not everyone has that.

We followed the rules.  I kept my kids safe.  I did the right thing.  Took me a while to realize that it boils down to that.  Everything else?  Doesn’t matter.

Because if you live in a town as awesome as we do, everything will be ok.