The Girl Next Door| Olivia – RHS Class of 2015 |Terri Gillis Photography

I lived in the sweetest little neighborhood for the best five years of my life.  I arrived with 2 children but moved out with 4.  1200 sq. ft is tight for 6 people.  I met my best friends Amy & Sandi there.  We never run out of things to talk about, we laugh a lot  and somehow manage  daily updates on kids, work and life.   The kind of friends where they know ALL the details and love you anyway.  In the five years that we lived there our neighborhood had 16 babies.  I added two, Amy added one and Sandi added 4.  Olivia was the first of all of them to be born in a neighborhood filled with boys, she was the girl next door.  She was so darling that she was positively contagious and undoubtedly the reason I have a 3rd child and a 4th who I gave the same middle name as hers… Grace. She has awed us and inspired us countless times. I can recall her sitting up (shake ’em, shake ’em), crawling in her Mother’s kitchen, toddling in our back yard, falling asleep in her high chair, popsicles, swinging, sandboxes, sledding, bike rides, missing teeth,  first days of school, classroom parties, singing at vacation bible school and marching in the band.  She’s always had this maturity about her. I think we had her in charge of watching over kids when she was four, and I know she could adequately care for an infant (her sister) when she was six.  She’s one of the kids that  I scan the crowd for her the way I would my own when I know she’s out there. Aside from the updates on life from her Mom I really only see at  church, marching at football games, and occassionally when I get my hair done in their kitchen.  She’s a teenager on the go.

I started this crazy photography endeavor and needed a subject for a portrait project. She was my first choice because at a few days old I knew she would sit still, something my 1 & 3yr olds were incapable of.  I just pulled out that image to look at it and  I won’t pretend that it’s even a good. But it was a first and a starting point.  One foot in front of the other as you have to start somewhere.  From there on she’s been a regular  and I’m sure I could put together quite a collection of her alone.  The reality of her being my first subject sank in about 4 years ago when I realized she was on the speed train to adulthood.  She’s so tall now and I can’t believe she’ll graduate next year. She’s gifted spiritually, personally and excells in academics, music and athletics.  She’s laid back and funny, easy to be around no matter how long it’s been.  I know that I’ll still update their family portraits but it’s pretty common that  senior portraits are often the last time you are photographed until your wedding.  Long gone is the spunky little red head who bobbed around from yard to yard; hello to this beautiful young woman with many  exciting “firsts” ahead of her while she finishes out high school leaves a trail of “lasts” behind.

I’ve been blessed in so many ways by this beautiful girl.

“Your off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way.”  – Dr. Seuss

Sandi - July 15, 2014 - 9:33 pm

I have finally gathered myself after reading your blog post.
You captured some of the most endearing memories I have of our time as neighbors. I’m realizing these tears will be the first of many to come…she’s slipping through my fingers so quickly.
I’m not even going to attempt a lengthy response to your sweet words and amazing pictures. My ramblings would not even do them justice!
Precious. Stunning. Priceless.
Thank you!
Thank you for your friendship, for loving my 4 and being willing to capture the most important days of my life through your lens.
This world is a better place because you have discovered what God has blessed you with!
I sure do love you!
Your forever neighbor,
Sandi

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