Today we had the privilege of spending the afternoon with a fantastic young lady named Katelyn. We decided to brave the "Snow-pocalypse of 2017" for her Inspire session called "Fire & Ice" and I'm so glad we did!
anuary in Oregon has been quite the adventure! This never-ending snow created the perfect backdrop for our Snow Princess photo shoot. It was a very special day for many reasons, especially because of the two little girls who I got to spend the day with. Meet Calley and Charley.
Calley (6) and Charley (4) had a fantastic time getting dolled up. It was their first time gettng "a real makeover". While listening to Disney songs, I did their hair into sweet little updos and applied their makeup. They were so excited to see themselves! "Can I see my face yet???" Getting to choose anything from our new jewelry box was a huge hit. The couldn't stop smiling upon seeing themselves for their first time.
Even though Charley's face in this photo might reflect otherwise, they were loving every minute of it. They changed into their gorgeous winter princess gowns and we headed to Noble Woods Park in Hillsboro, Oregon. The scenery was breathtaking. The girls were such troopers, tromping through the snow in the cold!
Everything about this shoot was perfect, the snow, the light and most of all, the girls.
Over the last couple years Calley has suffered from random and extremely painful blackouts for no apparent reason. It was quite the struggle to find out why this was happening to her. After several tests, cat scan and MRI, the only thing doctors could identify were dozens of growths with some gumball sized and some resembling shrapnel in the back of her skull. It was almost as if she had the remnants of a horrific car accident, without ever being in one. After enduring these blackouts 2-6 times per week, thankfully they have stopped. Doctor's are still stumped but if at some point they do return, they will continue with more testing and hopefully get to the bottom of this!
According to their mom, Ashley, they couldn't stop talking about their big day as an "Ice Princess" with "real makeup". These genuine smiles make all the time and effort that go into sessions like these, so worth it. Even if just for one day, we are here to help these kids feel like the princess or superhero that they really are.
Why do we do what we do? What exactly does an inspire session mean for the children and families involved? It can be difficult to understand the answers to these questions without being a direct participant in the daily lives of these families. The struggles, the triumphs, the milestones, the setbacks. Each family has a unique and personal story that shapes how they live day to day. Each family has settled into their version of normal, as abnormal as it may be. Each family quietly longs for just a moment of escape from that normal. However, unlike my desire to escape the volcano of launrdy currently oozing off the edges of my washing machine or the incessant fighting over a blue frog (because heaven forbid one of them has to play with the GREEN frog!), these families long for an escape from something completely different. Emergency room visits. Surgeries. Medical mysteries. Difficult doctors. Bills. Anxiety. Worry over a child's very breath.
A recent Capes and Crowns session at the Oregon Garden brought a temporary reprieve from these normalities. The session focused on Brynleigh, age 3 and Jayden age 5. Brynleigh just recently had surgery on her arm. She will be undergoing lung surgery for an unknown but life threatening issue that causes her to get sick easily and frequently and have difficulty breathing. Jayden has complex congenital heart disease. She was born with several heart defects which required open heart surgery at 3 days old. A stent was placed 2 years ago, and another stent and open heart surgery are scheduled within the next 8 months. She also has high functioning autism and sensory processing disorder. The girls' older brother Zach participated in the session as well. He is a charming, patient, and loving young man who seems to take everything in stride.
The chosen theme was Frozen. We were incredibly blessed to have the services of Jennifer Walker, the spa manager at Moonstone Spa as our makeup and hair specialist. Her patience and kindness towards the family was overflowing, and her styling was beautiful.
Our amazing liason at the Oregon Garden was Mary Ridderbusch-Shearer. She met us after the styling and took us to a beautiful, mysterious part of the garden which was perfect for our first set of photos. It wasn't snowing during the session, so Elsa had to work her magic for us.
Mary worked her own magic and gifted us a few minutes on the ice rink all by ourselves before the staff came on to resurface the ice for the next skate. It was just enough time for the kids to run, play, and have a fabulous time as the stars of the night.
Underneath their beautiful dresses are fabulous boots gifted to the girls by Kristine Thayer, the owner of Sweetpeas Resale store in Sellwood. Warm and stylish toes!
The plan to end the session was a visit to Santa, who graciously agreed to give the kids pre-purchased presents. Mary snuck the presents to Santa so we were ready for the finale. As all children do, though, and especially after such an exciting event, the girls ran out of steam. There was no way we were going to make it to Santa's debut at 5PM. Enter Mary the magician. She convinced the kind hearted Santa to get suited up early and make a special appearance in the hallway of the hotel, just for the kids. They were thrilled. Gifts were given, and a very hilarious moment ensued where Brynleigh (who was not at all ok with Santa) flushed him out when he tried to sneak behind her for a picture.
Why do we do what we do? What exactly does an inspire session mean for the children and families involved? I'll let Mom Chandra tell you:
"You guys are truly amazing. I can't thank you enough for what you gals are doing. It really does give us that chance to enjoy and forget even if for just a few hours. It is a lifetime of memories in the making and going to mean the world. My kids have it rough. I don't wish this life or the life of having special or medical needs on anyone. Although if it wasn't for this life I have I wouldn't have had such an amazing chance to raise such amazing kids and call them mine and receive all of the hugs, kisses, and I love you's. I would not be who I am today, I would not have the patience, or drive, or ability to take on every new obstacle like it's a normal occurence like I am able to today. Life is a blessing and I couldn't be more thankful for every moment and is why I am so thankful for everything you gals are doing".
That is why we do what we do. Be on the lookout in the coming days for a simple way in which you can help us make these moments possible for more children and their families. Please help us Share the Love.