Once upon a time with the Thomas family...
One of the most unique things about filming and photographing real life in people’s homes is that I get to see such different ways of doing life. Every family has a unique story. Some are nitty-gritty, some are no-nonsense, some involve me laughing from the moment I arrive till the moment I leave, and some… like the one you’re about to see, are a magical fairy tale come to real life.
Meet the Thomas family, with their beautiful daughters Sophia & Daniella. These two princesses had me enamored from the minute I walked into their petal pink bedroom and saw them, spinning in their tutus. Doting parents, Guzalya & Ryan were ready to braid hair topped with pink bows. Being in the Thomas home feels whimsical. Everything is beautiful and has its' place. It’s a little girl’s fairyland. Tiny Daniella hands me baby dolls to take care of, her chubby hands placing pacifiers in little mouths. No time for photos, "Miss Allison, here is baby doll," her serious eyes seemed to say. Sopia, graceful, sweet and full of fun, flitting about in her pink tutu, equally as comfortable doing plies as modern dance. I learned quickly that if I didn’t film or photograph something fast, I’d be pulled into the dance party.
It looks magical. It looks beautiful. It looks easy. But the story behind how Ryan and Guzalya found each other was more unique than most, kind of love-at-first-sight but the international version where an American meets a Russian in Russia at a wedding. Love for this couple meant two wonderful days together then months apart. Ryan would fly up to see Guzalya for just a bit and then fly away. Long distance is hard, but romance can bloom just like the weekly flowers and little surprises that Ryan would send to Guzalya while separated. After a beautiful wedding in Russia came Sophia and Daniella, the most perfect little ladies and sweetest sisters you have ever seen.
Breakfast was pancakes made by Ryan, whose skills in the kitchen are just as good as his styling of his daughter’s hair. Guzalya is everywhere, tending to every need of the girls while simultaneously managing the breakfast preparation and ballet practice. With her background in ballroom dancing, it is a beautiful thing to watch her lead the girls through their ballet exercises, little Daniella toppling over more often than not.
The girls are bilingual, following in the footsteps of their Dad who learned Russian to court Guzalya. It's fascinating to hear; Russian and English intermixed as easily as the love between the parents. Preserving her heritage for her daughters is important to Guzalya, their beautiful home a cohesive mix of the past and the present.
Dinner is ready and it smells divine. Prepared by both Ryan and Guzalya, the dishes are all traditional Russian or Uzbeck. On the menu: "Plov," an INCREDIBLE mix of rice, tender meat and veggies... the most amazing spices, a whole lot of yum. Dessert is both beautiful and sweetly delicious, a Russian honey cake is called Modovik. It has seven layers. They were each amazing.
Daniella tells me that her Daddy tells her a bedtime story each night of a Prince who meets his Princess with beautiful long black hair in a faraway land and they live happily ever after. While that very well might be just a story, I have a small suspicion that the beautiful Princess with the long hair from his story is kissing another pint sized princess good-night down the hallway. That's when I think, sometimes, just sometimes... fairy tales do come true.