The Lake

To My Family - 

As 4th of July approaches, I know that we are all wondering about what this year will bring after the end of an era at the cottage on Lake Erie.... 

The cottage at Angola on the Lake is a place that holds many of my cherished the point that the end of an era almost seems like an understatement. The thought of cramming 15+ people into our humble outdated minuscule cottage is almost laughable - yet we did it. We did it year after year, we drove thousands of miles collectively to do it, we spent hundreds of dollars on flights to do it. If you look back and think about the specifics of the scenario, you might be able to begin to appreciate just how special it really was. 

In a world where it is far too easy to focus on the negative (seriously, just think about how you answered the last question you were asked....), a family of 15 people who live in various parts of the east coast not only chose to come together every year for 4th of July to stay in our cottage, but we all looked forward to it - probably more than Christmas morning. And the reason I say that it was such a magical place, is because if you look at the reality of the situation from the outside- it would be hard, if not impossible, to understand why we religiously did this every summer.....

At the cottage we slept in pre-civil war bunk beds in the kitchen, on air mattresses, in our vehicles and other outrageously uncomfortable spots, with no AC. We waited in line, for hours sometimes, hot and sandy just to take a 2 minute brutally hot or ice cold shower and then dry off with a damp towel. We annoyed each other, we pushed each other's buttons, sometimes we yelled, and we definitely woke each other up. That snack you were looking forward to, someone else ate it. Those drinks you brought, better plan to share. And privacy? Forget about it! But obviously none of these things are the first things we think of when we compulsively book our $200+ flights or start our 9 hour drive on a holiday weekend....somehow the cottage made all of us forget to put the negative first. 

At the cottage we all laughed, a lot...sometimes until we cried. We reminisced. We heard stories about our family members that we had never heard before. We created new memories with each other, stories that will be told for years to come. We all sat down and ate dinner together. We played games for hours. We sat on the beach, people watched, and chatted around the fire. We each created our own "lake rituals" that we looked forward to. We transitioned from 3 separate and different families to one big family. I watched all of my "little cousins" turn into impressive young ladies and gentlemen. Everyone went from playing together to becoming true friends. We have also built real relationships with "the grown ups" and bridged the gap between the kids table and the adult table.  We upheld existing traditions and created new ones along the way. We learned life lessons and gave our own meaning to family values.

From the outside, the cottage may not look like much...but it was ours. It was "Zanett's Slice of Paradise," And it was always overflowing, with people and with love. Personally, a part of me thinks that maybe we needed the cottage to make us who we all are today. As a family in general, we 're not perfect and we don't pretend to be. We sometimes lack in the communication department and could benefit from being more open and direct - similar to most families. And it doesn't help that we are all spread out geographically. However, being together for days at a time in such close proximity year after year forces you to create those bonds, open up, and build a different kind of closeness. So, I want to thank the cottage, not only for the memories we will all cherish - and will someday reminisce with our children about - but for loving all of us unconditionally, for being a part of the family, and for helping us grow into the family that we have become. We will miss you dearly Angola on the Lake, but we will be forever thankful for everything you have given us....

They always say that when one door closes another opens. In reflecting upon this past year since last 4th of July we have had so many exciting changes…new jobs, residences in new cities, 3 engagements! Our families are growing, and in a way maybe we have all outgrown the cottage. The ending of a large chapter of life is always sad, but it also provides so much opportunity for new beginnings and new traditions. The cottage has bonded us all together – and now that those bonds are established, wherever we all go on our own journeys as adults, we know we will always come back together.  My wonderful family, you all will always be home to me no matter where we are! And I would like to believe that maybe we are the ones that don't need the cottage any more - maybe now that we have grown together, the next family needs the cottage more than us. 

Love you all - looking forward to old and new 4th of July traditions! Xo - Tara

Newborn Photos - Boston, MA

We all know the little song “first comes love, then comes marriage…” Well, it has officially started happening with a lot of my friends, the part about the baby and the baby carriage! Two of my best friends, Amie and Willy, welcomed their first baby boy to the world on in April of 2015. And his honorary “Aunt T” was invited over to see him when he was a mere 4 days old to capture a few precious moments with the new family.

Their baby is growing so fast now and it doesn’t even seem real that he was ever this tiny. I’m so thankful that Willy and Amie let me be a part of these early moments just days after his arrival, as I know it can be a crazy time for everyone with very little sleep. But looking back at these photos I don’t see exhausted parents – I just see the beginning stages of a new kind of love they are experiencing, and I have seen that love grow infinitely since then.

Most of my family and friends will attest to this, I am actually pretty scared of babies. Ironically, babies tend to LOVE me (I have a theory on this....) But anyways, I actually stepped it up and held the baby – briefly :) And we were even unintentionally twinning!

Thank you friends for inviting me to share your earliest moments with the newest member of your family! Congratulations again on the first round of adventures in parenting - I'm excited to keep watching everyone continue to grow!

Xo –