Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Loyal Customers

With this year's wedding season being so crazy busy, it is sometimes a nice change of pace to get out and spend some time with my repeat clients and their families.  Jill has been a loyal "Vanderblogger" since day one.  Jill, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wiggly Teeth & Hunnybadgers

Wow!  What a week we've had here.  I just got my emails down from 50 to 21 in my inbox.  That feels much better, but if you are waiting for an email from me, it's coming.  Lots going on in the house of the Vander Six.

So, Brynn started 1st grade today.  She has a very wiggly bottom tooth.  Didn't think she would still have it in her mouth for her first day.  The darn bus (which we have to pay for since we live too close to school -- don't get me started) did not even show up to take her to school.  Steam was coming out of my ears.  Waiting for her to come home now to hear how her first day went.  (Brynn was styled by herself).

Riles & Breck both continue to crawl, pull up and cruise around the house...which led to us getting a play yard which now consumes our living room.  Their teeth are growing in at a rapid rate.  Riles has his top two and his bottom two and a third is coming in on top.  Breck finally got his two bottom teeth last Friday.  They just all of a sudden showed up at the same time.  He took it like a champ.

Ky continues to be the monkey wrench in this operation we have going on over here.  Between ER visits, 911 calls, and his mouth like a sailor (ok, not words worse than the usual potty mouthed stuff), we are ready for him to start preschool in a few weeks.

It's mass chaos...but it's my chaos...I am trying to take in every moment with them.  I know I am going to blink and they are all going to be leaving for college.

I am trying to get caught up on all my editing and blogging from the past month or so.  A special thank you to my girl, Carly, for babysitting my kiddos to help make that happen.

I was able to spend a little time with Carly and her "hunnybadger," Connor.  If you haven't looked up the "hunnybadger" on You Tube, you are missing out.  Very funny.

We did a fun little session while Connor was on leave from his station at Fort Lewis in Seattle, Washington as a Specialist in the Army.


Love his face in this one.

Only one year and four months left!  Hang in there guys!  xoxo

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gigi's Playhouse

When my mom came home with this 10-day old baby with the most beautiful big brown eyes and brown skin, I was sold.  She had me from hello.  Even though we were only supposed to have her for a few months, I think we all knew this was forever.  My sweet Lisa Ashley was an O'Reilly from day one.

When Brynn is winding down for the day she often asks for stories about all different topics.  The one she asks for the most are funny stories about my adopted younger sister Lisa when she was a little girl.  The stories are in such abundance, we should write a book.  This girl has had us cracking up since she entered our lives 22 and a half years ago.

Although Lisa's skin is a different color than ours, that is just about the only difference that is obvious to us.  The fact that she also has Down syndrome never has been an issue.  It is just part of who she is and has made her all that much more endearing.

Down Syndrome children are the most loving and happy children I have been around.  They are always ready for a laugh and hug.  My cousin Luke was born with Down syndrome almost five years ago and his mom, Diane, has been an amazing advocate for public education of this genetic condition.

Diane is entering a new career phase in her journey of life and intends to open a Gigi's Playhouse in the south suburbs of Chicago by September 2013.  Gigi's playhouse is a Down Syndrome Awareness Center and a not-for-profit center offering support for new or expectant parents in addition to play groups, therapies, and tutoring in math and reading for children of all ages.  What started as a local playhouse in a suburb of Chicago has turned into an international phenomenon, spreading awareness and inspiration to everyone it touches. 

She has organized a Board of Directors and is planning to open a Gigi's Playhouse in the Oak Forest/Midlothian area.  She is looking forward to creating a safe and welcoming haven for children with Down syndrome and their families.

Their vision "is to see a world where individuals with Down syndrome are accepted and embraced in their families, schools, and communities."

Their mission "is to increase positive awareness of Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs, and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community."

In just 9 years, 12 Playhouses have opened and  there are more in the works! GiGi’s is committed to the important mission of spreading positive and accurate information about Down syndrome through education. We know that by helping individuals with Down syndrome reach their highest potential, we can change outdated perceptions that people may have. The end result is a world that is empowered with knowledge, compassion, and inspiration – what a better place for all of us!

Here is where you and I come in...in order to do this, they need to gather funds.  It will cost about $100k to open the doors of a new site and keep it running for the first year.  As the official photographer for this new location of Gigi's Playhouse, I am offering a special on your session fee if you make a donation.  Whatever your donation denomination is, I will knock that amount off of your photo session with me (for a session in 2013).

At this time, donations can be made in the form of a check to:
Diane Husar
5100 Deerpath Rd
Oak Forest, IL 60452

Be sure to mention that you heard about this special from my blog to get your discounted rate on your session.

Once the initial goal of $15,000 is made, this new location will be added to the official website and also become a part of the National Organization of Gigi's Playhouse and then donations will be able to be given on-line.  

The hope is that another location of Gigi's Playhouse can offer families who receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome the support and guidance they need to make it through what can be a very difficult time.  In addition, they hope to become the extended family they may need to help their child reach his or her fullest and greatest potential.

Luke's diagnosis of Down syndrome did not turn a happy story into a sad one for Diane and her husband.  It just created a different story...a wonderful one that I am sure they would not change for the world.

Please join me in supporting Diane to create something exceptional for all stories like these.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Comic Books & Romance Novels

One day Maggie and her best friend, Erin, were brainstorming ideas for her upcoming wedding and they came up with a theme.  The theme was so perfectly a mix of Maggie & Bryan, they ran with it.  It is rare that I see a wedding theme and color scheme executed so flawlessly from the engagement session all the way through to the last dance.  Not one detail was overlooked.

Maggie is a bookworm and a hopeless romantic who has a passion for all things pertaining to reading and books.  Bryan is a comic bookworm and a self-proclaimed "geek" who likes anything that has to do with video games, super heros, and Star Wars.

Their wedding not only brought their two lives together, it was also an opportunity to display a combination of their passions and interests in an unparalleled way.

 (thank you to Faye for these photos ;)

And if you are contemplating the first look....

...let this reaction convince you.

I have known Maggie's family for what seems like forever.  It was so special to be a part of their baby sister's big day.

A little something blue.

Hands down, best reaction from a groom as he sees his bride walking towards him down the aisle. (Thanks Faye for this shot!  It's classic.)

These two have a ball together.

Now that's a first kiss.

Maggie surprised Bryan with a lightsaber salute.

They opted for the ole' 'sing a song with the word love in it rather than clinking your glasses' trick.


Congrats Maggie & Bryan!  Best of luck on your new lives together in your new place!  xoxo