My daughter Natalia is quite an amazing young lady. Having been put on bed rest at 28 weeks into my pregnancy with her, she is not only one of my greatest challenges in this life, she has also been one of my greatest rewards. I like to tell people though, that even after being put on bed-rest at 28 weeks for premature labor, I ended up going past my due date with Natalia and had to be induced. That’s the thing about my daughter Natalia, she does everything her way. On her on time and at her own pace. And that became apparent at a very early age. She is strong -willed, stubborn and determined.
She could walk early, talk early and ‘give direction’ ( read was quite bossy) at a very early age. One of our favorite memories of Natalia was when she lifted her beautiful little red head and blurted out in a crowded store for all to hear (at the toddling age of 3 ) ” Mommy, Nicky is antagonizing me!”
We simply had to find a way to channel all of her energy. I was injured when Natalia was only 2. Dealing with 2 toddlers while on crutches full time is difficult. So we needed to find something to do with them to help get their energy out. By the time Natalia turned 3 we had enrolled her into dance classes. By the time Natalia turned 4 her instructor had informed me that a ballerina she would never be. Fortunately for me, their was a mom in our class of a very talented gymnast in the area who recognized what Natalia just *may* be.
By the age of 5 we had enrolled her in tumbling classes. It didn’t take her long to get her first solo. She immediately began to excel.
By the age of 6 her Pop-Pop offered to enroll her in a local gym to try out some of the equipment “just for the summer”, as a birthday present. That was June. When August rolled around, she was offered a chance to begin training on their “team training program” that they called “The Sparklers” at that time. It was then that she met her best friend Brianna.
Fast forward 8 years. Brianna and Natalia have grown up together. Theirs is a friendship of mutual respect. I have watched them evolve as gymnasts and as people. I am incredibly proud of them both. Brianna’s family has been beyond generous to my daughter over the years. They treat her like she is theirs. She has traveled with them, stayed with them and vacationed with them. I joke that in the summertime Brianna’s parents and I share custody of them. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am delighted that their friendship has remained steadfast. I have seen very few serious arguments. Very few typical girl squabbles. Maybe because they go to different schools, or maybe because they are just that close. For whatever reason it is, I am grateful.
Bri and Natalia are my 2 favorite subjects to photograph. Brianna will humor me almost as much as Natalia does.
Brianna’s Pop has moved in with them recently. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment for her. But it makes me giggle when he calls them “the 2 Pixies” . I have named my collection of photos of them over the years ” Pop Calls Them Pixies” in his honor.
I love to see their joy when they are together. Love to hear their laughter. Even love to hear them argue a bit over who gets to stand where or wear what. Because that just means they care. And caring is a good thing.
I lost my best friend when I was just 16 years old and I would give the world to hear her crazy laugh again. Or even just to argue with her.
These are a few of my favorite ( older) photos of them. My daughter’s schedule has been so crazy we haven’t seen much of Brianna lately. I’ve been waiting to get them both out in front of my lens again. It’s been too long. I’m sure my daughter will let me know when the time is right.