I recently attended a Greenfield Rotary meeting with my friend Stephanie Kinnaman, who is very active in the Gift of Life fundraising. I got to meet Razack that day. I so enjoy taking the time to do these sessions. I always drive away feeling a little different than I did a few hours prior. Things like this really make you appreciate what we all take for granted at times. Some days it's hard not to complain .... but at the end of the day, let's all remember how fortunate we really are! Little Razack is about the same age as our little Olive. He was so tiny, and I can't imagine sending my baby off with a group of people to another country ... but I suppose I would if it were my only option to save the life of my baby. Read his story below, and enjoy the photos of this happy little boy!!
If you are interested in donating to the Gift of Life, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.
Razack is from Burkina Faso, Africa. He is 8 mos old and appears to be the youngest of 6 according to Brandie who found a picture of his family in his medical chart that traveled here with him. He was found to have a VSD and PDA (ventricular septal defect with patent ductus arteriosus- a hole between the lower chambers of the heart and a communication between some vessels that would otherwise normally close by 2 days of life). This certainly affects his growth as he is very small for his age- only 7# 3 oz in February at his screening exam in Burkina Faso, then 9#3oz before surgery and now up to 10# the day before these pics were taken....He arrived escorted by a flight attendant to Brandie's doorstep on March 22nd and will likely go home in mid May. Children's Medical Ministry is who we (Rotary's Gift of Life) partnered with to get little Razack here from Burkina Faso. That is how Brandie got involved. She is a stay at home mom of 2 who is a nurse by training. She has been caring for him and getting him to all of his appointments at Riley to recheck with Dr. Mark Turrentine who did his surgery. He is recovering really well. Brandie says he was unable to even hold his own head up before surgery because he was so weak. With continued growth and improved strength from his repaired heart, he will start to catch up on some the more normal 8 month old milestones like bearing weight on his legs when held, rolling over, then sitting up.
The GOL program in central Indiana is largely funded by Greenfield's Gift of Life auction and dinner every February. The money raised at that event and throughout the year from other Central Indiana Rotary Clubs helps to pay for 5 children (usually with a family member) to travel here to Riley from their home countries where these surgeries are either not done at all or not done safely yet. There are also mission teams sent from Riley to Amman, Jordan where the team operates on approximately 10 kids every Spring from all over the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine. A fall mission operates on another 10 children In Kampala, Uganda and also helps to teach doctors and nurses to improve their skills in doing these surgeries themselves at this national referral hospital. The purpose of these trips is to make a more sustainable program so that doctors can operate on their own children in the future safely and effectively. Dr. Mark Turrentine at Riley is the surgeon at Riley who does most if not all of the surgeries at Riley for GOL and plans, coordinates, and operates all of the mission trips.
again, i have been humbled. i so believe that one of the best ways to get good into your life is by donating your services.
recently, i had the opportunity to photograph another Gift of Life patient. Asma is from Afghanistan and had 3 surgeries in 6 weeks.
i have always thought that it is so neat how kids gravitate towards one another .... no matter the age. i had the pleasure of my son toting along this day. as soon as we were introduced, asma was smiling and putting her hands towards harper, who is five years old. he immediately replied with a smile, and put his hand out so she could grab it. things like this make me teary and proud .... throughout the shoot she looked towards harper and laughed. the image below is one when we moved into a different room and sat her down on the couch, and harper went over and sat on the floor near her. they again grasped hands. i think it is neat how kids are so interested in other kids. i was also so proud of harper for being so good. he knew that she had been sick and he feels sad about things like that. later, we were in line to get a pillow pet, as that day was the day that tons and tons of pillow pets were delivered to Riley. a little boy at the hospital said that every kid there needs a pillow pet, along with all of their visitors that day. as we were in line, we noticed a cute little baby behind us with tubes in his nose. my son smiled and waved to him, then turned around to me and said that he wished he didn't have to be like that. my whole body filled with tears of thanks that harper is so compassionate and gratitude for my kids' health .... i certainly do wish there was a way to just make everyone healthy ... but thank goodness there are kids out there who teach us what life is really all about.
so ... here is beautiful asma's story :
Col. Faqir, Asma's grandfather is a Col. in the Afghan army and a good friend of Col. Newman of the Indiana National Guard presently stationed in Kabul. Their friendship led Col Faqir to let Col. Newman know about his granddaughter, Asma, having a serious heart problem. Col. Newman immediately contacted General Umbarger, head of the Indiana National Guard. He contacted Rotary Gift of Life and the correspondence between the doctor in Afghanistan and Dr. Turrentine at Riley. Asma was living with an oxygen level of about 55% and very frail. There was even correspondence as to whether she was strong enough to make the long trip from Kabul to Indianapolis.
She was brought to Indianapolis by her grandparents, underwent heart surgery at Riley and has now returned to Kabul a healthy one-year old with a chance at a normal life. Rotary Gift of Life was with the family from their arrival in Indianapolis, to staying at Ronald McDonald House, to the medical pre-op to the surgery to seeing them off at the airport 61 days after their arrival.
i am so ready for spring that i can hardly even stand it .... this winter has been consumed with fatigue, flu for almost everyone in the house, colds, more fatigue, more snow days than i even want to think about .... oh, and a little more fatigue and congestion to top things off. it has been colder than i can ever remember a winter being .... there has been snow on the ground almost the entire winter. the ice storm was lots of fun. and, there has been lots of trying to catch-up on things before spring hits.
2010 was a complete whirlwind .............. the kids are getting busier every year. GMP had its best year, which i thank all of my client's for trusting in me to capture their family's memories. i have so many repeat clients that i am having the opportunity to watch grow, and watch their families grow and expand, that there is really no other word that i can think of to explain it but simple gratitude. i have taken some time this winter to slow down, try to get caught up on sleep and just things around the house in general. i have gotten my hard drive organized and gone thru tons and tons of photos. i have great clients, and they all feel the exact same way about their kids as i do ours. it's an infatuation of sorts ... it's the desire to freeze the moment because they know that tomorrow will be different, the kids will be older and wiser. their looks will change. it's having such a strong love for your kids that you want them to experience that love, and you always want them to remember how you felt towards them.
in a nutshell, i do get overwhelmed when i reflect on my work, and how much i enjoy it. i have also been going thru stacks and stacks and more stacks of personal photos i have taken since 2006. it's when i look thru these snapshots and full-blown sessions that i realize how much i enjoy being a mom. i get to remember how tiny the kids were .... just not long ago. i feel like i don't realize it day-to-day, or even year-to-year. but to look at a photo from just 2 years ago and note how different one of my kids looks .................. or to go thru the thousands of photos and remind myself that i was absolutely present for so much in their little lives, it's a good feeling. i think, especially as working parents, it's very easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind of trying to be a good parent and also get your work done, and then maybe take a minute for yourself, and sleep .... it's reassuring to look thru memories and to remember that you succeeded in this very important thing of being a parent. i highly encourage everyone to take LOTS of photos. it's so fun to look thru them and remember! i feel the same way about video. we just use our little point and shoot video clips, but to hear the kid's voices and how their voices have changed and their vocabulary has improved and their little mannerisms that are bound to be forgotten ... again, it's so fun to watch them and to show the kids how they have grown.
so, in the whirlwind of 2010, a few things stand out. i held my first Kid's Day fundraiser, and raised $2,000 for TATUM'S BAGS OF FUN. i will post photos later related to this event. i (successfully) did my first dog session, and really enjoyed it! i got to do another shoot for Gift of Life, and made a donation for their auction, which i am so happy to be associated with. i did several shoots for Little Skye Clothing, which was fun and different for me compared to the daily grind. i had the opportunity to shoot a good friend's wedding in MEXICO, which was just more fun than i can even explain, and was a photographer's fantasy land. i was also present and photographed a brand new baby girl being born into the world, which i have always held in my mind as the most miraculous thing that happens .... it was amazing! my son started preschool, and i have survived :) i married my best friend in june, and in july we will be expecting a little babe!!
alisha and i recently photographed the cutest newborn, and i must say it made me pretty excited about the changes that will pop up this summer :) i remember being a mom for the first time, and staring endlessly at my daughter. i was in awe with how perfect she was. i was amazed with her eyelashes, toes, wrinkles on her feet, her sweet lips. everything spoke to me. when i photograph a session, no matter what the age, i strive to photograph them the same way i do my own kids. i want to show parents something that will forever remind them how they felt about their kids.
so there you go with the whirlwind of 2010! it was crazy .... and no doubt 2011 will be even more so. soooooooooooo ....
Start thinking about your 2011 sessions now. I will be taking maternity leave from June - August. Please see available dates at the top of the blog (above). Come September, I will be booking sessions, but not as many as I normally book. Please start thinking about what month you are interested in, and send me a quick email so we can get you on the schedule. If you know you are interested in September or later, feel free to go ahead and contact me even though I don't have available dates online yet and we will secure a date. I will not be able to shoot as many sessions this summer and fall, but I do want to try my best to work with everyone.
My email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : 765.763.6769
so another 3 months have passed since my last blog post! agh! this year has been a whirlwind ... more on that later. this winter, i will be updating my website with new photos, updating Facebook Page with new photos, and updating this blog.
last summer, i had the opportunity to do another shoot for a child that came through the Gift of Life program. Gift of Life is a Rotary program that brings children to Riley hospital or St Vincent for lifesaving heart surgery which is not available in their home countries.
meet jovanie : Jovanie's family lives out in the countryside of Haiti. Because Jovanie was ill, her mother took her to Port a Prince to see doctors. That is when the earthquake hit. Jovanie and her mother were buried in the rubble. Her mother died and Jovanie lay beside her dead mother in the rubble for three days before she was found. When she was taken to the hospital, it was found that she had a bad heart. The doctor (from New Jersey there to help) contacted a friend of his, Dr. Vigilence, in Bloomington who contacted Dr. Brown at Riley. That's how Jovanie came to Indianapolis for heart surgery. She had two surgeries and is now back in Haiti. After surgery she began to thrive and gain weight and became a very happy child.
i can't really explain how special these GOL sessions are to me. it is inspiring to me, to say the least, to hear these stories and the doctors that give their time and skills to save a child's life. it is heartbreaking to me to hear the stories. jovanie was 4 when i did the session, the same age as my son at the time of the shoot. to allow my mind to go to those 3 days that she lay in the rubble is a bit too much for me to think about .... and then to have her standing in front of my camera, trying to get her to smile and be at ease when we do not speak the same language, and getting these photos as the end result is just priceless.
the next time you are thinking of making a donation to a good cause, look into Gift of Life. if anyone is interested in helping out or donating to the cause, please contact me and i can put you in touch with the right person!
i was approached awhile back to make a donation to the Gift of Life Auction for a Rotary program that brings children to Riley hospital or St Vincent for lifesaving heart surgery which is not available in their home countries. of course i was interested, i love donating to a good cause. i thought it would also be great to take some photos of the children while they are here. i recently got to take part in this, and just being able to view children in a different light made my day. just touching on the subject over email with the gal who set me up, i didn't exactly know what to expect when i ended up at this person's home. of course, i left being touched in a way that i didn't expect ... this little guy is from Uganda, he's my son's age. he was very shy ... i was told that he was very excited about the puppy he gained after this shoot! what a sweetie. these photos shocked me afterward ... i think they are so wonderful of this shy little guy. communication between his mother and myself was very slim, lots of pointing and gestures. i was a bit out of my element, so i didn't know how these would turn out!
i found out some interesting facts that day about Gift of Life, but i still need to learn more myself. if anyone is interested in helping out or donating to the cause, please contact me and i can put you in touch with the right person!
what a handsome little guy!!!
love this photo of mom and son .... i can't begin to imagine how special this trip was to her, and will someday be to him.
these are my favorites :)
mom kept her arm on her son most of the time :)
this little lady is from kenya, and she's one of the happiest little girls i've ever photographed! she has already completed her heart surgery and Riley will be fixing her lip this summer, also. below : peekabo!