win a bali or canada workshop scholarship

anyone who knows me knows that i am extremely passionate about giving back. i have been blessed with this gift of photography and one of the greatest parts of this journey is the gratitude i feel when i give back! i am offering one workshop scholarship to each of my in-person workshops this year (tuition valued $2000+ each): one  scholarship to my 2-day photography workshop in ontario, canada (june 22nd - 24th) one scholarship to my 3-day photography workshop in bali (august 12th - 15th)

TO ENTER, all you need to do is this... 1. email me the following:

  • why would you like to attend my bali or canada in-person workshop?
  • and why do you believe you should receive the scholarship?

2. share (with link back to this blog post) about this opportunity on  your facebook page(s).

BOTH STEPS must be accomplished, to be considered for the scholarship. don't forget to include your name, contact information and which workshop you're interested in attending.  please limit to no more than 500 words or a 3-minute videosubmission deadline is midnight EST may 17th 2013.

a panel of three photographers will review all submissions and select the the two winning entries.  three runner-ups will receive a discount  coupon at 3 annies camera bags.  good luck!!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  scholarship provides workshop tuition (and all that is included with tuition). winners will be responsible for travel expenses to workshop location and any additional expenses outside of workshop.

in closing, i share some of the images that i've photographed over the years, as part of my giving back...

kirsten sandstrom

no limits theatre group

max mikulak & max's ring of fire

sam hutchison & team sam

the foundation for tomorrow

 

partner orphanages | tanzania

the foundation for tomorrow (TFFT) partners with eight orphanages in tanzania. while i was there, i had the opportunity to visit four of the eight partner orphanages -- nkoaranga orphanage, matonyok children's home, seeway tanzania and irente children's home. each orphanage has their unique aspects. each orphanage is magnificent and special. NKOARANGA ORPHANAGE houses a maximum of 30 children, ages four and younger.  the orphanage is run by two to four "mamas" -- whose constant hard work, dedication, commitment and love is beyond anything i could possibly put into words.  unfortunately i didn't have the opportunity to meet mama pendo, who has been running the orphanage for over 20 years, as she was at a computer class the day of my visit.

nkoaranga was probably the orphanage that needed assistance / volunteers the most (of the four orphanages i saw), due to ages of the children and the amount of work that the "mamas" are responsible for each day (laundry, cooking, water boiling, feedings, cleaning, diaper changing, etc.) -- the necessary tasks to simply sustain life's basic needs at the orphanage.

MATONYAK CHILDREN'S HOME houses approximately 25-35 children.  the home was started by a husband and wife team, emmy and ndemno, (now in their 60s), who are two of the most amazing and giving people i have ever met. it all started with bringing one child into their tiny two-room home.  and ever since, their house and their children have continued to expand. ndemno farms for a living and their land is incredible. they have chickens and goats. they a massive rain water collector and solar panels on one of their buildings. they convert manure into methane (which they use to cook with) and fertilizer. everything is so clean, well-maintained and organized. the children all sleep in two bedrooms (8 beds & a couple cribs). emmmy and ndemno know the importance of education and have hired a teacher to teach first grade in a classroom on their land. the older children (grades two - five) are currently sponsored to attend a nearby day school. emmy and ndemno hope to continue to build up their school (one grade at a time), ensuring their school provides quality education.

SEEWAY TANZANIA was founded in 2006 by two amazing, giving women, rebecca and wendy.  they have created an incredibly clean and beautiful environment for 16 vulnerable children (ages 4 and older). they not only provide a safe, loving home for their children, but also education (via funding boarding school), health care and a creative outlet through organized music lessons. on the compound, they have a large garden, a chicken project (selling eggs) and a nursery school / day care (for 40 two-to-six year olds).

IRENTE CHILDREN'S HOME is an incredible orphanage run by simon's grandmother, sister enna (simon is the 16-year-old TFFT student, who was selected to ride this year).  irente children's home is not only a impressive, loving orphanage, it also manages an amazing training program for young women, who are interested in becoming matrons of orphanages. they also have a massive garden and a cow, which supplies much of the orphanages fruits, vegetables and milk.

HOW CAN YOU HELP? a simple way to help is to donate directly to TFFT. each year TFFT sets aside a specific amount of their annual budget ($8000 this year) that goes directly to helping their partner orphanages, e.g. improving the facilities, building capacity among their staff, etc. TFFT requests that the orphanages submit ideas as to what they need, want, can use, etc.

HOW DOES TFFT DECIDE each year which children to select / sponsor into the program? over the years, they have leaned heavily on the administrators of the orphanages to assist the foundation in selecting the children. but some general guiding criteria are --

for the younger children, they base the decision on sheer need, looking at such things as: - family background - do they have any relatives? - if they do have relatives, can they possibly support the child? - if a child has no living relatives, TFFT believes that including him / her in the program is the safest bet for the child to have a viable chance of living a successful life within the tanzanian community.

for the older children, the foundation not only looks at their family circumstances, but also at their school records and their desire to be something, lead and excel.

+++

there's an estimated 2 million-plus orphans in tanzania and only 50 (or so) orphanages (providing care to less than 3,000 of the population's orphans and vulnerable children).  it's such a painful thought!!  so many orphans, who have no other option but to live in the bush and streets of tanzania -- no home, no parents, little-to-no clothing, food and water.  so incredibly sad!

ETA:  to adopt a Tanzanian child, you have to live in the country for three years.

rideTZ | day nine

day nine took us to the village of manyoni. we passed through lots of villages this day -- some we stopped at, others we just drove though. and to be completely honest, i was pretty ready to be done taking photos of bicycles by this point. but i kept shooting bicycles. :-) nothing like seeing an intanet' hotel as we depart mashewa.

another village that welcomed us to eat chapatis and drink tea. i don't really even like tea, but their tea was awesome. and things that are served hot in TZ are served really hot, which i love.  i have a thing about my hot stuff being really hot and my cold stuff really cold.

the women in the building thought i was pretty darn funny. the chapatis were actually cooked in that side little room.

and off we went.

AEIOU. at our lunch stop.

i loved all the footprints all over the front of this house.

you don't see all that many brick homes in TZ.

my driver, hamisi, waiting with some of the local villagers.

looking down from a bridge. washing clothes.

right after this shot, these two boys ran and hid.

crossing the bridge, where i took the two photos above from.

there were so many children around our campsite. i loved how they welcomed the riders.

mike played with the kids for hours. they loved him.

and kaitlin and marc taught the kids the macarena.

it was such a joy watching the kids have fun and play together -- kids just being kids!

they loved the beach balls we gave them.

and as we headed into camp, they crawled up as close as they were allowed and just watched and waited.

rideTZ | day eight

day eight was an exciting, bit scary, interesting, picturesque, educational, fun-filled day -- taking us from mkuzu creek to mashewa via some uphill and lots of downhill riding. WARNING:  if you are an animal lover or your children are around your computer, you might not want to proceed past the goat photo below.

leaving mkuzu creek resort, it was cloudy and drizzling, but so beautiful.

a break at one of the villages.

the boys were so interested in the changing of the flat tire.

i learned that a hotel in TZ is not the same as a hotel in america.

so often, the children carry the babies.

barry celebrated his 50th.

i think i'm going to hang this in the entryway of my house.

 

we had lunch at this village. and this group of kids stayed very shy and stand offish the entire time.

this amazing group of children sang to us, for quite a while. i took some video, which i'm hoping to share later (still need to download it off another drive). i can't even begin to describe how beautiful their voices were.

playing with one of the balls we left them, as we departed.

poor simon!! a cow, crossing the path, ran right into simon, knocking him hard to the ground. thankfully, he wasn't seriously injured, but he did hit his head and the doc watched him closely.  he ended up riding in the truck with me for the following two days.

heading into mashewa.

barry's first surprise.

we headed into the nearby village of mashewa to shop for food, to accompany our main dish.

marc stopped to play football with the kids for a bit.

maji is water, which this village obtained in 1972.

in TZ, they burn their garbage pretty much anywhere.

 

three of the riders decided to get their heads shaved.

 

THE goat!

the goat, which ended up being our dinner. he was killed by the village elder / councilman (isa).  it was super quick and humane -- as humane as killing a goat can get.

and last but not least, barry's 50h birthday celebration. he had no idea this was coming and it was such a wonderful surprise.  once i knew the cake was coming, i told the group that i wanted to see if i could take some photos in the dark with some of their head lamps on. :-) i can't imagine a more incredible way to celebrate a 50th birthday!

 

rideTZ | day six

day six entailed a 30-mile bike ride, a 3-mile hike up the usambara mountains, absolutely amazing views and most of the riders beginning to feel better.

so many majestic views along the way.

 

along with poor eugene getting attacked by a bush.

navigating through the herd of cows.

passing children on their way to school.

lunch break. barry was still really sick this day.

most were already exhausted, pre-hike.

after lunch, the hike began. what started out as a standard hike, ended up being the absolute toughest hike i've ever done.  probably one of the toughest things i've ever done...period!! we hiked / climbed for 4-1/2 hours -- 3200 feet up hill.

with about 1-1/2 hours still to go, we stopped at this man's house on the mountainside. he carried ake's backpack and led us up the steepest part of the mountain.

his wife and children.

this was a welcome message painted on the rocks, as we neared the end of the hike.

the views were beyond words. i wish i could have taken more photographs but the climb was so challenging, i could barely breathe, let alone breathe and take photographs.

the first thing we saw at the top of the mountain.

our campsite, at irente view point.

which as a non-rider, meant a room, a bed, a toilet and a hot shower for me :-)

and a group photo at irente view point.

two of the most wonderful, kindest people i have ever met -- kaitlin and meghann, of TFFT.

 

 

rideTZ | day five

day five took us to camp 3 along the pangani river.  day five also was the start of almost everyone in camp getting sick -- fever, chills and diarrhea.  i think there were only three who didn't get the bug.  thankfully i was one of the three.  it blew my mind how diligent the riders were --  not a single person got into the truck when sick. one of the villages we stopped at for a break.

another village break point.

they were making chapatis out of this hut and served us a banana wrapped in a chapati -- so yummy!

 

flat tire repair, which happened many times each day.

gretchen and mike posing on a termite mound during our lunch break.

at this point, the cars had to separate from the riders. i was told that i could walk to the campsite faster than the cars could get there. since i had done so much sitting in the car over the prior four days, i was excited to walk for a bit.  little did i realize...the walk would be SIX long and hot miles.

this was after the first three miles, at which point i had a blister on my heel the size of a quarter.

ake crossing another not-so-steady bridge.

most others decided it would be best to walk across.

these two (brother and sister) walked with ake and i the last three miles.  they were walking home from school and still had farther to walk, after we arrived at our campsite.

and finally back at camp! kaitlin led a session of yoga, for anyone that wanted to join her.

 

rideTZ | day four

day four took us to mporomoko. along the way, the riders experienced LOTS of dirt and sand, huge dust storms and some awesome clouds. it was a short-ish ride, arriving into camp a few hours earlier than the previous days. but it was also a day that seemed to go on forever. this was leaving camp. i learned that it's very normal in TZ culture for men to hold hands. and of course, i loved the mcdonald's jacket too.

the dirty legs of denise (my tent mate), who also happens to be 57 and kicked some serious ass on the ride.

lots of stretching.

and a little dancing. loved our guides so much.

the dreaded sand. sometimes the sand was just too tough to bike through and some of the riders would have to walk.

one of my favorite bike images form the trip.

one of my favorite people images. they stayed and watched us for a bit and then moved on.

later, we caught back up with them. the wind was crazy.

making wind shields with one another -- or something like that.

decided to try it with five people.

which led to this spill.

followed by this one.

waiting for the cows to pass.

locals' shoes (made from old tires) along side one of the guide's tennis shoe.  wish i had brought a couple pairs of the tire shoes home.  next time. ;-)

ETA:  a bit about shooting in tanzania.  obviously, whenever we stopped (break or lunch spot), i was able to shoot like i always shoot. when the riders were riding, shooting was a bit more challenging. sometimes, we would drive ahead. find a place that looked interesting to shoot the riders and then we would sit and wait for the riders to ride by.  much of the time, i was hanging out of the truck window, shooting while we were driving down these crazy, bumpy dirt roads. and a couple times, towards the end of the ride, we raised the roof and i was able to shoot from rooftop.

rideTZ | day three

after 21 hours of flying, i'm back in america -- safe and sound -- and so much to think about and process. but only a few days to adjust and then i'm off to CA, NV and MN, for the month of july.  anyways, on to day three... day three took us from nyumba ya mungu to munngano, following the pangani river valley, along the same trails of early exploration and slaves alike. each morning, wake up was 5:30 AM, with a planned departure time of 7 AM. but we had a "lie-in" this day until 6:30 AM (can't remember why).  and this was the magnificent view right outside our campsite shortly before our departure.

a rocky, yet beautiful terrain, along the water welcomed the riders for a short bit. thankfully, no one fell on the rocks.

one of the break points was at this village.

when we arrived, they were making chapatis and welcomed us to eat, drink (hot tea) and dance with them. this is one of our guides helping make the chapatis.

my window view. we didn't really drive next to the riders all that much because it kicked up too much dirt.  we typically travelled ahead and waited for the riders to catch up or we drove behind them.

as i already shared, everyone fell at least once -- some bumps, scrapes, wounds and injuries worse than others.  megs had quite the hip gash on this fall, although it healed amazingly well by the end of the ride.

most of the ride this day was the same, barren terrain, which made for a rather long day.

we stopped at river pangani along the way, where we saw a crocodile and met many locals, from a variety of surrounding villages.

our tents, which included a foam sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow and light, powered by a small, portable solar panel. the small, green rectangle tent on the right was one of our toilets -- basically a hole in the ground with a wooden toilet seat on top of it (that i didn't dare sit on). you just zip yourself in and you're good to go. all was fine until almost the entire camp came down with diarrhea at the same time. more about that on another day.

these were our three showers. water flow was a trickle most of the time but getting to shower each day was amazing.

the cooks and their kitchen area. food was surprisingly really, really good!!

day's sample menu... breakfast: eggs, porridge, toast, peanut butter, jelly, nutella, cereal, (instant) coffee lunch: pasta dish, bread, fruit, nuts, chocolate dinner: soup, chicken, vegetable, rice, fruit or dessert

i loved the soup so much, i asked if i could get a couple of the recipes from the cooks.

my clothes washing buckets. i washed clothes this way in my hotel too.

and my clothes hanging on the line to dry.

katilin was always so good about stretching after her long day's ride.

at each campsite, we had a few guards from the nearby village, who made sure all remained well with our camp throughout the night. the guard / elder on this day invited us back to visit his village. everyone was so welcoming and we had so much fun, but were only able to stay for a short bit, as we had to head back to our camp before it got dark.

okay, maybe this little guy wasn't having so much fun at first.

taken in the last little bit of light, as we were leaving.  4000 ISO.

lastly, the foundation for tomorrow (TFFT) has only a few days left for their annual fund match. if they can raise $50,000 by midnight saturday, they will receive a $50,000 matching gift!! you can find their annual fund drive here. and if you don't see the amount you'd like to donate, feel free to visit my fundraising page here, to donate any amount you'd like.

here's a few of the beautiful and amazing children that TFFT is currently sponsoring. i can't even begin to tell you how special these children are!!

the triplets that started it all...

 

remembering max

most who read my blog already know about my journey with max and his family.  the mikulak family graced and touched my life more than i could ever express. i do my best to continue to photograph the mikulak family in san diego every year. and this year, our session took place a few weeks ago...

and when our session was done, there stood hannah just like this...

with the light beaming through max's urn and hannah. and it was in that moment that i was so perfectly and beautifully reminded that max was right there with us!!

i feel so very blessed to have the mikulak family as part of my life.

and don't ever forget to live life to the max!!

my very first photograph of max, captured december 2007.

win a wallflower friends retreat seat

leah and i are thrilled to be raffling off the last seat at our upcoming, april 27th - 29th 2012, wallflower friends retreat [a $1900 value] -- to benefit the children of tanzania and the foundation for tomorrow (TFFT).   see retreat details below and on the wallflower friends website. PLEASE FOLLOW THESE QUICK STEPS TO ENTER THE RAFFLE: donate $10 HERE be sure to submit your first and last name when donating for every $10 donation, you will receive one raffle entry you can enter as many times as you wish

note: if you are already signed up for this retreat, you are still eligible to enter.  if randomly selected, your tuition will be refunded.

the winner will be randomly selected and announced here on monday, march 26th wednesday, march 28th.

WALLFLOWER FRIENDS RETREAT

WHEN april 27th - 29th, 2012 limited to 13 photographers

WHERE located near half moon bay, california, wallflower friends has reserved the entire seal cove inn for this retreat. set amongst a meadow of wildlflowers and towering cypress trees, this serene hideaway offers a unique and unforgettable retreat setting.

WHAT wallflower friends 2-1/2 day retreat is not your standard teaching workshop; this is a unique retreat for sharing, growing and learning -- through the discussion of photography's creative process and exploration of your unique voice and vision as an artist. some of the topics that will be covered are: being inspired finding your unique style being true to yourself in your art shooting and light workflow and processing being and staying passionate exploring your portfolio

INCLUDES two nights shared-room lodging at the spectacular 14-room seal cove inn instruction by both deb and leah a wallflower friends inspiration photo book welcome appetizers and drinks daily complimentary breakfast and lunch a few fabulous surprises and giveaways

for more information, please visit the wallflower friends website.

win a workshop seat at LAUNCH

i'm super excited to share another raffle in conjunction with my fundraising for the foundation for tomorrow (TFFT). RAFFLE [a $995.00 value]: a seat in stacy larsen's next LAUNCH photography workshop held april 21st and 22nd in tampa, florida

HOW TO ENTER: donate $10 HERE submit your first and last name when donating email stacy that you donated and would like to be entered into the LAUNCH raffle for every $10 donation, you will receive one raffle entry you can enter as many times as you wish

the winner will be announced on stacy's blog on monday, april 9th.  GOOD LUCK!

400 miles | tanzania

i just finished looking through the foundation for tomorrow's 400 miles  -- the book from their 2010 400-mile fund- and awareness raising bike ride in tanzania.  it pretty much took my breath away.  seriously, my eyes welled with tears.  a-mazing! if you get a chance, take a look through the book -- you won't be sorry.

i still can't believe that i'm going to be photographing this 11-day event in june.  how did this happen? to ME?  OMG!  this truly is a most-amazing gift in my life. a dream come true really!

with the event just a few months away now, i'm beginning to move forward with things [immunizations, visa AND fundraising].

if you'd like to help this foundation...help these children [PLEASE!], you can donate HERE.  MY GOAL is to raise $5000 for the foundation.  and every little bit will help!!

if you'd like more information on RIDETZ 2012 [400-mile bike ride from kilimanjaro to the indian ocean, to raise funds and awareness], you can view the brochure here.

you can also follow TFFT on their blog here.

here's a few of the children that TFFT is currently sponsoring [providing tuition, housing, foster care, health care, food, clothes, shoes and school supplies]...

and the riders from RIDETZ 2010...

a military war hero returns home

i feel so incredibly honored to have been able to photograph a military hero's homecoming yesterday... twenty-two year old marine CPL nicholson returned home yesterday, for the first time, after being wounded last july.  CPL nicholson lost both his legs and his left arm in a hidden improvised explosive device [IED] blast, while on foot patrol in afghanistan. through his ongoing recovery over the past eight months, CPL nicholson has endured 23 surgeries.  in october, he walked for the first time with prosthetic legs. CPL nicholson will be home on leave, for the next month and then return back to bethesda, MD for continued rehabilitation. his family is hopeful that he will be home for good by the end of the year.

the community support for CPL nicholson was nothing short of beautiful, inspiring and very emotional.  hundreds greeted CPL nicholson at the airport...

friends, family and strangers lined the streets of tampa as the patriot guard riders and patrol cars escorted CPL nicholson from the airport to the welcome home ceremony location...

hundreds more attended the ceremony...

being relatively new to tampa last year, i had not heard of CPL nicholson's injuries.  it was driving by this sign [the nicholson family lives almost directly behind us] a few months ago, that i first learned of CPL nicholson. i immediately emailed the family, sharing that i'd love to help in absolutely any way that i could. i'm hopeful that i will be able to photograph the nicholson family more over the year or two, while stationed here in tampa.

a special thanks to carmen for second shooting with me and making sure i got to each location on time.  and to cliff of the patriot guard riders, for asking me if i'd like to ride on the back of his motorcycle to the church [so i didn't have to keep running there].

and here's a tampa bay times' video of CPL nicholson's return...

someone pinch me

i couldn't think of a more amazing, incredible, magical way to start 2012... while on vacation in nevada, i decided to change up my website design a bit.  in the process, i realized that i never received a year's worth of contact messages (sent through my website).  one of those messages was sent in october -- from kaitlin, director of communications for the foundation for tomorrow (TFFT). she was inquiring if i'd, by any chance, be interested in photographing for TFFT. after emailing back and forth over a day-and-a-half, it was official...

i will be photographing the foundation's RIDETZ-2012 fundraiser ride in tanzania, from june 8th - 19th. it's a 400-mile bike ride from kilimanjaro to the indian ocean.

TFTT --

Over 46 million children in Africa never step foot in a classroom, and in Tanzania alone there are over one million orphaned children. TFFT’s mission stems from a desire to improve the quality of education while also increasing orphaned and abandoned children’s access to schooling in Tanzania.

and the story, as shared by kaitlin, on how TFTT got started, takes my breath away --

In 2004 Meghann (the executive director) spent a summer in Tanzania researching for her dissertation and volunteering at Nkoranga Orphanage. During her time at the orphanage, she became especially close with Helena, Usufu, and Matayu, orphaned triplets who were four years old at the time.

There are over one million orphaned and abandoned children in Tanzania, and, because of this staggering number, most orphanages only have the resources and capacity to care for children under the age of five. Therefore, with their fifth birthday, children who have not yet found a home "age out" of orphanages and are pushed to live on the streets.

Helena, Usufu, and Matayu were approaching their fifth birthday, and Meghann could not bear to think of what would happen to them. Feeling helpless, she sent an email to her family and friends explaining the situation and asking for contributions to send the children to boarding school in Tanzania where they would receive quality education and have a nice place to live. She received an overwhelmingly positive response, and Helena, Usufu, and Matayu became TFFT's unofficial first Scholarship Students.

The triplets are now vibrant eleven-year-old tweens--you will meet them this summer! They are thriving at Usa River Academy, the private boarding school in Tanzania where the majority of our Scholarship Students attend school. We currently have 76 children on full scholarship, and that number will increase to over 80 in 2012.

i cannot believe i'm going to have this life-changing opportunity. how did this happen? to me? i feel more than blessed. AN ABSOLUTE DREAM COME TRUE!!

the interconnectedness of it all

i got an email from max's dad today, sharing how interconnected things can sometimes be. both max and kirsten battled cancer in san diego. i photographed both max and kirsten multiple times throughout their battle.  max's doctor now works with Tgen (via the van andel research institute). and both families are incredible supporters of the cancer research taking place at Tgen.

it's such an honor for these families to be able to use these photos that i took of max and kirsten on websites, magazines, news publications, etc., in an effort to raise awareness and encourage others to give, with the hope that one day -- someday -- a cure WILL be found!

now, i can't wait to connect these two amazing families with one other.

max's dad also shared this video with me -- pat lacey talks about his son, will, a seven-year-old boy, who has been battling neuroblastoma since he was six months old.

i'm hoping that one of these days, i will be able to get to boston to photograph will and his family. we've been talking about it for years!

don't ever forget the power in giving!!

kirsten's legacy

kirsten sandstrom endured a 21-month battle with adrenocortical carcinoma [acc], a rare and aggressive cancer of the adrenal glands. kirsten was only 37 when she passed away on march 25th, 2010, leaving behind a husband and three young boys. kirsten was such a kind, caring, incredible woman, whose beauty radiated through and through -- no matter how much pain she was in. a few months ago, i was contacted by translational genomics research institute [tgen] about possibly using some photos of kirsten, in an upcoming issue of tgen today. i had already known that her family approved because they were the ones that referred tgen to me. and there was no question on my part. i immediately went through all of kirsten's images and shared every photo that i thought might possibly work for the article.  i knew tgen was happy with the photographs but i didn't know which image[s] they had selected for kirsten's article.

a few days ago, i received tgen today in the mail.

the article -- the power of one: pasquinelli-sandstrom family establishes kirsten's legacy to focus on ACC resarch -- is so beautifully written. they included bailey's (one of kirsten's three sons) school essay:

I asked in a cautious voice, 'What's wrong, Dad?' He told us to sit down with him and said, 'Mom is really sick, and the doctors say she has cancer.' My heart skipped a beat. I was still wondering if he said this right. Could that even be possible? When I looked around the room, everything was fuzzy and I could not see anything. It was then that I hear my innocent little brother, Jake, ask, 'What's cancer?' At that moment, I knew he would feel unimaginable pain far worse than Holden, [Bailey's twin] and I were currently feeling. I knew that we all wanted to hug our mom and never let go.

and the closing paragraph quotes kirsten's dad...

What we hope to do at TGen through Kirsten's Legacy is this: She doesn't have to be physically alive for her faith and courage to be contagious, to give others hope. By funding this research, her faith and courage lie on through the successes I know TGen will achieve. And in turn, those successes will give others with ACC a chance.

the entire article can be read here.

without a doubt, kirsten's faith and courage are contagious!!  i truly am so blessed to have met kirsten. and her entire family.

you can see more photos of kirsten and her family here on my is there a perfect time? post.

max's angels

the first time i photographed max and his siblings (april 2008), i saw this angel in the clouds, immediately after our session together.

yesterday, max's dad emailed me about how their family saw this angel in the clouds, while on a vacation in mammoth a couple weeks ago.  andy wrote about it all here.

chills.  serious chills.

+++

i also wanted to share this post written yesterday by my friend, amy boring -- if i could turn back time.

i hope you'll take a few minutes to not only read a bit about max and all that his parents are currently doing to raise money for neuroblastoma research, but also amy's blog post.  i promise...it will be time well spent.

spreading goodwill

Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

- wikipedia

when i was in wisconsin, i stayed at my dear friend, julie's house.  shortly after arriving, we had gone outside to look at julie's incredible garden and i noticed the prayer flags hanging from her front port.  later in the day, i mentioned how awesome it would be to have prayer flags at the fischer family's session (thinking maybe we could pick some up before the shoot).  the next thing i know...the prayer flags are down and ready to go with us to the shoot.

i absolutely love that we were able to have prayer flags with us at the fischer family's session.  i love it even more that they were worn from their days of dancing in the wind at julie's house.

i now long for prayer flags, to grace the front porch of my own house... prayer flags to flutter in the wind... prayer flags to bring good energy, luck and happiness... prayer flags to spread blessings and goodwill to those around.

i've been asking friends what they know about prayer flags and looking around.  while i'd love to make my own flags, i just know that that's not happening anytime soon.  so far, i've found...

these tibetan prayer flags, sold on amazon and here. or these prayer flags on etsy.  i'm a bit partial to the happiness-themed flags.

if you know a great place to purchase prayer flags or have any additional insight, i'd love to hear about it.

also, i just came across this PDF article on prayer flags, which i plan on reading later tonight.  seems like a great read.

ETA:  for anyone that might be offended because the prayer flags touched the ground, please know that at the time of these photos, i had no idea that prayer flags are not to touch the ground.  i had the absolute best of intentions in bringing them to the session and photographing them, with the fischer family.  i will never let that happen again, now that i am aware.

also, my friend, wendy, just shared this with me:

i do prayer flags with mighty girl...their flags fly to encourage the girls that come after them. i ripped an old white bed sheet into squares and give them fabric markers. http://mightygirlart.blogspot.com/2010/05/wind-horses-arriving.html

and after seeing this flag, created by nina beana, on the mighty girl art site... i'm feeling the strong need to make my own flags. a family project. designing, dreaming, gathering, creating, sewing...together as a family. my new (year old) sewing machine has been waiting for something like this, to finally make it's presence, from out of the box.  YES, our august pre-school project -- prayer flags.

i heart mr. fischer

i  think i met terri when i reached out to her about her dreads.  but i actually might have met her (pre-dreads) because of her wonderful film photography. can't really remember (because i have a terrible memory).  but i do know that we became friends on facebook.  i always knew she was special.  and then terri and julie came to visit me last year, in kansas. and our friendship has just continued to grow. yes, she really is that special...and more. a few weeks ago, terri shared the news that tom was diagnosed with a slow-growing follicular lymphoma. while slow-growing might sound better, it's actually not.  it means it's been around longer.  and often tougher to combat.  six rounds of chemo are in tom's immediate future.  he begins round two tomorrow.

as soon as i heard of tom's diagnosis, i knew i had to get out there, to photograph the fischer family.  to capture all the magic that they are.  i tried to get out there immediately after i heard but lots of factors prevented me from doing so. but last weekend, everything fell into place (much thanks to the women of the witches brew) and i was able to travel to wisconsin to photograph the fischer family.

i'm not really sure how to do justice to the amazing family that they are.  but i'm hoping that photos will show what i am not able to put into words...

I LOVE YOU FISCHER FAMILY!!

also, please check out terri's t-shirts, for sale on etsy. she's saving the money to send tom on a dream-come-true fly fishing trip in alaska...once he's in remission and has beaten this beast (like seriously kicked it's ass kind of beaten). we HAVE to believe that that is the way this will all end up, right?!!!

i'm a proud owner of both an "i heart mr. fischer" t-shirt and a goddess t-shirt.  it's obvious how cool the t-shirts are but they're also seriously great quality.  i love my t-shirts.

a special thanks to julie, who opened up her house to me, while in WI...and drove me everywhere.  you are such a magical soul.  thank you for your friendship.  thank you for everything.

p.s. cancer fucking sucks!!

are you my mother?

sweet baby bird so innocentso beautiful and wise the future rests within your sights hope fills your tiny eyes your body warmed by fluffy down shields your heart from the rain rest softly on the leaves of brown your life has much to gain. - jill eisnaugle

before i photographed the fischer family in wisconsin, i really wanted to meet tom and the kids. so sunday morning, we met at a park playground. i wasn't sure if i should, but decided to bring my camera with me to the playground. little did i know that there would be a couple of children there, with a sweet little baby bird.

while baby bird might have thought this fabulous nest of brown was the perfect fit, sadly it just couldn't be so. i'm not sure what happened to the baby bird but i sure hope he was able to make it to rest softly on leaves of brown.

more tomorrow on the fischer family and my special days shared with them.

i ♥ mr. fischer!!