decaf Fact 19: I have been caffeine free for almost 14 years. It causes me to have hospitalizing panic attacks, so I’ve never tried Jager Bombs or a good ole’ Absolute and Red Bull. You will, on occasion catch me sipping on a decaf hazelnut coffee, and sneaking a Reese Cup but only in very small doses.
biker Fact 100: Although I loved riding my bike as a kid it wasn’t until just recently that I have rediscovered those amazing inventions that balance on two wheels. In the summer I try to bike at least 10 miles every other day.
myla Fact 8: My cat Myla loves when I sing Opera to her. It’s like I am the pied piper, whenever I begin to sing she has to find me and crawl up onto my chest, regardless of where she is or what she is doing.
dancer Fact 4: Aside from being an artist and photographer, I am also a dancer. I began studying as a young child and by age 16 was performing several times a year in all genres of dance including tap, jazz, ballet, point and international folk. I even performed with CARNIVALE! in Walt Disney World in 1993. As an adult I have focused my studies on Latin American Ballroom and it continues to be my favorite of all the dance I have done.
firefighter Fact 27: I once helped saved people from a burning building. My friend and I were driving through the city when we noticed a couch on fire on someone’s porch. She kicked in the door and rescued the people inside while I stayed on the phone with 911 until help arrived. Within 4 minutes the entire building was up in flames.
mingus Fact 32: All of my pets are named after famous musicians. My two cats are named Ani (after Ani Difranco) and Myla (after Miles Davis). The newest addition is our English Cream Golden Retriever. We named him Mingus after Charles Mingus, a jazz bassist.
mormor Fact 82: My Mormor and her friend Gloria have been best friends for 60 years. They met in grade school and still spend time together at least once a week. They have taught me the meaning of friendship and I long to have that when I am old.
worms Fact 326: I once competed in CBR, a cross-country scavenger hunt that is filmed from beginning to end. During one of my challenges I had to eat 4 live crickets, 2 live earthworms and whale blubber. For the record I won that event!
snorkle Fact 760: Originally, I wanted to become a Marine Biologist. Because I tested at a certain level, as a kid I had the opportunity to study with Project Oceanology and The Mystic Marine life Aquarium in Connecticut, where I am from, all the way through high school. At age 16 I traveled all the way to Belize to help assist researchers on a Dolphin and Reef research project. To this day my love for marine life is ever-present.
cake Fact 49: My favorite part of the reception is the wedding cake. Aside from an all-chocolate one, I ALWAYS make time to sit down and eat cake. And for the record, my two favorites are Carrot and Key Lime.
goonies Fact 12: My favorite movie of all time is the Goonies. I have watched it more than I have watched any other movie. There were actually several cuts of the film and I have seen them all, my favorite being the original version.
banana Fact 12: I am allergic to all tropical fruits that contain tiny black edible seeds in them as well as mango. They cause me to go into respiratory distress. Thankfully I can eat pineapples, my favorite fruit.
rapper’ Fact 128: I know every word to the songs Shoop, Parent’s Just Don’t Understand, Paul Revere and Bust-A-Move. I can be caught singing them in any public setting if they can be heard playing in the background.
britt Fact 601: The tattoo on the inside of my left arm is a Quaking Aspen tree that I drew in honor of my brother who past away in August of 2004. They are indigenous to Lake Tahoe, Ca where he lived and worked as an Emergency EMT for almost 20 years. And just for the record, “Yes! It took over 2 hours and hurt like hell but I never cried.”
flugtag Fact 1977: In 2003 I competed in Red Bull’s international competition called FLUGTAG. Teams from all over the world submit blueprints to build and attempt to fly non-powered flying machines. My team was invited to compete in the event that took place in New York City. We did not win.
happy Fact 273: I have worked for many years on finding my inner strength and loving who I have become in the process. As a result I have found a resounding happiness. I remember to smile every day, sometimes all day long.
adventure Fact 1: I am always planning a trip to discover a place I’ve never been before. Since I was 16 I have been traveling, independently, Internationally and I only hope the adventures become more and more exciting as the years pass.
Kirsten’s Very Own Collards It’s taken about a year for me to perfect this recipe. I personally am not a HUGE bacon fan and I don’t particularly like it in collards, so after many many trial runs, I have FINALLY found a combination that makes a really rocking Vegetarian Collards dish. What you’ll need: 1 bunch of local [...]
Thank you so much for stopping by to the most fun blog in all of Cyberworld, at least that’s what my mother tells me. It’s here that you will find anything and everything you might want to know about me, my work and my services. I have recently added several galleries just for your perusing of some of my most favorite weddings of all time. There is also a section now dedicated to my most favorite vendors to work with, so you can feel confident in choosing awesome people that make me really happy. There is a handful of helpful information in the, wait for it, INFO section . . . . so clever, huh? And, because more than likely you are super far away from me, I have also included a visual guidebook, so to speak, to all the products that I offer. Please feel free to spend some time in the section directly above all of this gibberish. It’s here that you will find all sorts of interesting facts, stories and favorite recipes of mine, because in my kitchen I am Julia, Rachel and Giada. If you have any questions, comments or are interested in booking a session with me, by all means shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
When I began building The Sophie Project, which is due to officially launch in late October, I had not idea that it would directly impact myself or one of my loved ones. That was until I received a text message July 3rd of this year. My baby girl has cancer. Neuroblastoma. That’s lame. I immediately [...]4 comments view
When I began building The Sophie Project, which is due to officially launch in late October, I had not idea that it would directly impact myself or one of my loved ones. That was until I received a text message July 3rd of this year.
My baby girl has cancer. Neuroblastoma. That’s lame.
I immediately called Meghan, my good friend of 14 years, in complete disbelief. She had JUST HAD Amelia three weeks prior. How could it be possible that a baby that young be diagnosed with cancer??? But it was very real, very true and very scary. What began as a fever and urinary tract infection and routine ultrasound would lead to a very unexpected turn of events, the detection of a large mass around 3 week old Amelia’s kidney. After a series of tests, it was conclusive. Neuroblastoma, a cancer generally afflicting children 5 years old and younger.
The initial diagnoses was extremely positive, the doctors believed it to be a case that might possibly reverse itself, as some do. Unfortunately about 2 months following the tumor had doubled in size and metastasized to the liver and possibly the bone marrow. Mehgan and her husband Markku received this news a day before Greg and I were to arrive in Richmond, Va. I am not a religious person and am not sure what I believe in, however I do feel as though I was meant to come home at this particular time and have the opportunity to be with my friends, by their side to document as well as provide comfort as well as laughs.
The following photographs are from 48 hours with the whole family, not just Meghan, Markku, their oldest daughter Alexandra (almost 2) and Amelia, but with her grandparents on both sides as well. The story follows them throughout the day leading up to and then through surgery. The doctors biopsied the tumor to identify what kind of mutation it is, extract bone marrow and put in a central line for chemo. The results returned unfavorable, increasing her risk to Intermediate. Although this is not the most ideal news, it also isn’t the worst prognosis either. Meghan and Markku continued to remain positive and strong for the sake of their family. Today, Amelia begins 6 months of chemotherapy. The hope is that the treatments will destroy the cancer in the liver, bone marrow and shrink, if not eliminate, the tumor above the kidney. It is a long, exhausting road ahead for the whole family.
Because of how young Amelia is, just 12 weeks, Meghan JUST used up all of her leave and “disability” for maternity leave and because they both work for the State, funds are limited. While they can receive as much time off as they need through the Family Medical Leave Act, this does not include a paycheck. Meghan wants to be home with Amelia as much as she can, especially if she gets sick from the treatments, but life and bills do not stop because someone is diagnosed with cancer.
A GO FUND ME site has been started, to help raise money for the family.
A quiet morning, Alexandra spending a little time with her baby sister Amelia before she is admitted to MCV for the next 5 days.
While Meghan begins packing for the 5 days she will spend with Amelia in the hospital, Alexandra watches squirrels in the front yard.
Alexandra plays with her Mom as she is packing for the upcoming week.
Alexandra pinches her fingers in-between the iPod and headphones. Attention seeking has increased as more of Meghan and Markku’s time is needed to take Amelia to the hospital on a regular basis.
Meghan and Markku get the girls ready for a visit to their grandparents house.
Meghan and her mother spend a rare quiet moment with Amelia. Possibly because of the tumor, her feedings are seemingly painful so most times she needs to lay flat on her back to take a bottle.
Despite being sick, poked and prodded a million times and spending more time at the hospital than at home, it seems, Amelia is one of the most laid back 12 week olds around.
Amelia’s feedings are most times done on the floor as it proves to be the only comfort she receives.
Alexandra, almost 2 years old, exhibits jealousy as her paternal grandmother holds Amelia.
Markku and his mother share a little nap with 12 week old Amelia.
Alexandra and Meghan wave goodbye as the family heads to the car to drive back to their home, where Alexandra with stay with her grandparents and father when Meghan sleeps in the hospital.
Alexandra is much more sensitive these days, as her time with Mom is shortened due to her need to be in the hospital with Amelia.
Alexandra comforting her little sister Amelia as Markku changes her diaper before heading to the hospital.
Goodbyes are not easy in the home, whether it is just for a few hours or a few days. Meghan puts aside her own feelings to comfort her daughter.
The drive to MCV hospital is a quiet one as Meghan and Markku discuss the details regarding the upcoming surgery.
Meghan has not lost her sense of humor as she makes a joke about the hanging plastic attached to the zoo-like cage her daughter will sleep in.
Despite being a nurse, knowing all of the facts and remaining positive, Meghan still has nerves regarding the 3 hour surgery her 12 week old daughter will endure the next day.
Markku, a psychiatric nurse, spend many years attending in the operating room. He checks his daughters vitals as they wait for the meeting with the operating team.
Meghan takes a moment to reflect on everything that has happened in the last 12 weeks.
Markku opts to hold his daughter inside the oversized hospital crib the morning of the surgery.
The entire staff on the pediatric oncology floor is in amor of Amelia, several stating that she is the prettiest baby to come to MCV.
Meghan reaches out to comfort her daughter as she is transported from one end of the hospital to the other for her surgery scheduled for later that hour.
Markku lays in the hospital crib with his daughter in his arms and wife by his side.
The family pastor arrives to lead the family in prayer before Amelia is taken to the operating room.
Meghan kisses her 12 week old daughter goodbye before being taken into the operating room to biopsy the aggressive tumor above her kidney as well as her bone marrow.
Meghan makes a joke about the anesthesiologist’s lack of breasts for comforting Amelia.
The surgery is long and waiting room is empty.
The very first moment Meghan and Markku get to see their daughter Amelia as she is just starting to wake up.
Meghan and Markku have remained each other’s rocks throughout the entire experience.
Amelia’s breathing is labored, which is common amongst babies just coming out of anesthesia, but causes Markku some concern for his daughter.
Meghan is granted permission to hold their daughter while administering oxygen, both parents grateful that their daughter has survived the surgery.
kelsey swenson Hi there! I work at the daycare that Alexandra goes to, I actually work in the room that Alex is in most of the time. I am making a couple fliers for one of our many fundraisers and I am curious if I could use a couple of these pictures for flier purposes. If not, it is completely fine. I just wanted to ask before I used them! They are precious! :) Thanks so much! (September 16, 2014 06:12 pm)Kathy What a wonderful presentation of a most difficult situation. When my son was 12, undergoing chemo for osteosarcoma, we were waiting for a blood draw, when a Mom and Dad walked by with their baby girl,wrapped in pink, with an NG tube. Tyler shook his head and said to me, "Mom, little kids should not get cancer (deep breath) especially little girls." I'm so sorry that cancer has invaded your most precious gift. My son was right...babies should not get cancer. No family should have to face this. Sending love and strength your way! (September 17, 2014 07:18 am)
Krissy Beautifully heartbreaking photos. (September 17, 2014 11:11 am)
The one thing I really love about photographing Day in the Life sessions, all over the world, is that I get to witness the work and love and patience and creativity and humor that it takes to be a parent. I’ve said this several times, it’s a true honor to have the opportunity to show [...]5 comments view
The one thing I really love about photographing Day in the Life sessions, all over the world, is that I get to witness the work and love and patience and creativity and humor that it takes to be a parent. I’ve said this several times, it’s a true honor to have the opportunity to show parents, Moms especially, how much they love and are loved. McKenzie is no exception. Hailing from a super small town right outside of Omaha, Nebraska, Mckenzie is an extremely talented wedding and portrait photographer at JM Studios. We met while she was one of the students at the Foundation Workshops on Tyler Wirken’s team while I was mentoring. Although she struggled throughout her assignment, she never gave up despite how challenging and frustrating it was. She only allowed herself minutes to feel down before she picked her camera back up smiling from ear to ear. When she contacted me to photograph a day with her and her son Rylan, I had a feeling she was going to be the same type of Mom as she is photographer. No matter how hard raising a son by herself is, she never gives up and does it with a smile on her face. I knew that this is what I wanted to give back to her, in her pictures. We had some down time throughout the shoot where she expressed to me her fear that she isn’t. “doing it right.” That made me so sad but no matter how much I could verbally assure her that she is a really wonderful mother, I knew the best way to convince her was to show her.
Aside from spending hours upon hours getting know this amazing duo, I also had the chance to go to school with Rylan. I cannot tell you how much I love getting to watch and document children away from their parents because I can then give them a glimpse into a world they aren’t otherwise a part of. I also then get a tremendous amount of insight that I can take back to the parents later. The first thing I told McKenzie once the last school bell rang was, “Your son is the nice boy that everyone likes.” Doesn’t every parent hope that for their child? A true reflection to all the amazing qualities McKenzie has instilled in Ry, even as young as he is. I watched as he treated each child the same, regardless of the social stigmas already evident within the classroom. He was respectful, followed directions and was extremely helpful to his teachers and peers alike. It made me equally proud, in a way, that I was his friend at that moment. I think the best part of my day is when he asked the teacher if he could hold my hand as we walked to the gymnasium. It confirmed to me that I am right where I should be, doing what I should be doing.
McKenzie and Rylan, thank you SO MUCH for inviting me to your teeny, tiny town in the Midwest. It was such a joy to not only meet you both, but to watch your very very special relationship. I have no doubt that you, Rylan, will one day be as wonderful a dad as your Mom is a mom.
Much love. xo
admin Thanks Ms. Shauna. All that you women do amazes me! (July 08, 2014 08:20 pm)Sherry Pickerell Kirsten you outdid yourself here! Maybe it is because I know Mackenzie not sure. But I do know this is my favorite Day in the Life so far! Absolutely in love with it! What am awesome Mom she is! An inspiration for sure! (July 09, 2014 12:28 am)
Brittany These speak to me on such a deep level. So beautiful!! And what an amazing mom she is!! I do have a question about the school. How did you get approval to take photos while he was in class? Did you get much resistance? (August 22, 2014 05:28 pm)lisa Your pictures are magical. I feel like i am right there in it! Thanks for your talent! (November 10, 2014 06:45 pm)