Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Portraits ~ Thornton Family

Tonia and I have been friends since 8th grade, when we met in -- some elective class -- at Mebane Middle School. I believe I sat with her at the table because I recognized her from band. She played the clarinet and I played the trumpet. Now, here we are, almost 16 years later, still great friends and keeping in touch, making sure we hang out a few times each year.
Tonia met Jay through a mutual friend, shortly before his 22nd birthday in January 2010. They began dating in March after he asked her out at Islamorada, Key West at night on the beach during a camping trip with their friend. They got married three years later on March 9th, 2013. Michael and I weren't able to attend because that was shortly after we moved to California, but all the pictures I saw were so beautiful. It was a beach wedding.
This may have only been the fourth (?) time I have met Jay, the first time being in July 2010 during Full Sail. I remember Jay being kind of quiet, but when he did have something to say, it was always a comment that made me laugh. So I liked him right away. Then last year when Michael and I spent one day at the beach with Tonia, Jay stopped by to say hello before we drove home. The third time was in December when he drove Tonia to my house for a dressy photoshoot! Michael and Jay stayed inside talking about Star Wars while the girls took pictures outside before all going to lunch together.
I was very excited for Tonia when she told me in November that she was pregnant. I'm sure I told her right away that I wanted to take maternity pictures for her. We originally had plans to meet up in March, but at about 6 months pregnant she wasn't showing very much yet. This past weekend I stayed with my grandma in Naples, and felt it would be easiest to meet with them near where they live in Sarasota on my way back to Orlando. The morning of meeting them for pictures, Tonia told me that the baby was pumped and excited for pictures because she was wiggling more than normal. When we met at the park, she showed me the cute gold duck necklace she was wearing. She told me that Jay's mom gave it to her and asked for a couple special shots of it.
Tonia took a pregnancy test on October 27th, and when it showed positive, she was relieved to see that Jay was definitely excited and hoping for a baby, as it wasn't too much of a surprise to him. "He had always mentioned kids in general when we were planning for the future and looking for places to buy. He said he knew of areas with good school districts."
Tonia told her family she was pregnant after the first doctor visit, after the 8 week mark. "I just blurted it out to them over the phone." When I asked Tonia what the best thing about being pregnant is, she replied, "Feeling her grow and become stronger. And eating ice cream without feeling guilty is also nice." 
"Starting a family didn't fully click with me until I saw a picture of my grandma holding my aunt when she was a baby. It was crazy to see how closely she looked like me. And somehow, seeing her, I saw what I would look like if I had a baby. That's when I knew." Their baby girl is due July 2nd.