I met this adventurous family during spring soccer season and since then we have been family friends. I admire this family for all the fun things they do between the camping, the farming and activities they par-take in.
This fall I was able to do their family photos up here in Spirit Lake. We have some rain but they were awesome as they dealt with sprinkles and some chilly air. We ended our session at a small park that had this beautiful fall tree and leaves that covered the ground. Granted they were wet but they still made for some leaf throwing moments!
In the goodness and light of all that you are
and all you are still yet to be.
Sweet Diliah came to visit me again this year for her fall photos. And my goodness, I am so glad I was able to see her again. This sweet little baby girl that has blossomed into a curious and adventurous toddler. We met at one of the walking paths in Sandpoint and her mom and I let her explore the surrounding near by. She walked in the colorful leaves, played with sticks and clapped stones together – she might have even tasted a few between those moments too.
Diliah is a sweet little one, with hair of fiery gold curls, and feet that don’t want to stop. She sees the simple things around her and loves to explore them – which is a great reminder for us adults to take in everything around us to the small things of colorful leaves, a flower, the colors of the rocks beneath or feet or the way the clouds gather on a cloudy day. Everything around us is a blessing in His way.
Here is a sneak peek of our adventure together during her session!
Johanna from JH Gowns in Canada is talented and so sweet and amazing. I have had the honor of working with her for a few projects and dressed beautiful girls and women in her art. She is a custom gown dress maker and creates amazing and comfortable dresses for expecting mommas and ladies that just need a dress for a special occasion. Her fall/winter line is due to be released soon and from what I have heard and seen, it is going to be spectacular!
Over the summer, Johanna, handcrafted gowns for a children’s themed party and she took my vision and made it beautiful. In a garden full of color, The Healing Garden in Sandpoint Idaho, the little girls ran carefree, these dresses complimented the surrounding in every way I had pictured. To bring the vision of the party even more spectacular, I took the girls over to Adventure Pony Rides in Sandpoint where they each got to have some time with one of the ponies. Between the sunset, the dresses, the crown, and the setting… it was more than picture perfect.
To also help with my vision of this floral princess, I envisioned a garden crown that drew in earthy elements. I was grateful that I had the help of Lovespun Creations to create this crown that I love so much!
Lovespun Creations started with her passion for handmade while she was working in Floral Design and it became more so, with the arrival of her baby girl almost 3 years ago. Influenced by her, local creative artisans, Lovespun Creations was created with hopes of bringing her love of all things handmade to others while inspiring them to love and enjoy handmade as much as she does. Customizing in creating silk flower crowns, boho headpieces, hair accessories including bridal, veils and almost anything floral. All handmade with lots of love and created uniquely just for you.
Johanna is putting the dress lot on the market which includes 4 gowns- hand dyed dresses with added greenery and flowers. Hope over to her page for more details!
Check out her FACEBOOK page with lots of previews of upcoming gowns. She seriously is amazing and talented. Then go check out her INSTAGRAM page for some sneak peeks!
My face may be different
But my feelings the same
I laugh and I cry
And I take pride in my gains
I was sent here among you
To teach you to love
As God in the heavens
Looks down from above
To Him I’m no different
His love knows no bounds
It’s those here among you
In cities and towns
That judge me by standards
That man has imparted
But this family I’ve chosen
Will help me get started
For I’m one of the children
So special and few
That came here to learn
The same lessons as you
That love is acceptance
It must come from the heart
We all have the same purpose
Though not the same start
The Lord gave me life
To live and embrace
And I’ll do it as you do
But at my own pace
One of the things that I value most about the way I was raised was that my brother and I were taught not to look at someone as though they are different. No matter their family dynamics, color, size or even their disability. We are all perfectly made in God’s eye and I pray that I too continue to raise my children in the same way.
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a chance to spread awareness. During the month of October, I want to celebrate children with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments. It’s not about celebrating disabilities, but it’s about celebrating abilities.
My mom has always spoken so highly of children with DS always commenting on how beautiful and loving these children are. And I have to say, she was more than right. Over the summer I was able to put together a celebration – a Pirate Party, for our local DS community. Unfortunately, finding a local chapter and support group was not an easy task as even our local doctors had no information to help me seek a supporting community program. Luckily, Google came through for me and I was able to find DS Connections and soon was able to sit face to face with the woman who created our local Down Syndrome supportive community for families.
Founded in March of 2009, DS Connections NW was started by two mothers who believed in the simple purpose of keeping their children, their families and their friends connected through the love of their children diagnosed with Down syndrome. Two years later DS Connections, incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and their scope grew to become a strong, viable connection of resources and information for persons with Down syndrome, their families and our surrounding community.
Susan Villelli, is one of the co-founders of DS Connections, After just giving birth to a baby girl, the only thing her doctors did was to hand her a small notebook about the medical complications that a child of down syndrome can experience. There was no support, no smile, no talk of the blessing this child would bring to her family. Only text book medical talk :
Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of chromosome 21 – additional genetic material that alters the course of fetus development. Researchers are making great strides in identifying the genes on chromosome 21 that cause the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.
There really must be something more beneficial available for other families. “We’re here to connect the dots and provide answers to the ‘what’s next?’ question that immediately comes to mind after being given a Down syndrome diagnosis,” Susan Villelli said.
I personally love being a part of the community- bringing awareness to many things around us. While I was a part of Beauty & Lifestyle Mommy, the idea for doing a community based project for children was well supported. We as humans and the society we live in can quickly label people, but why? Aren’t we all wonderfully and perfectly made?! I wanted to help the world see things in the beauty that they are – no matter our disability, our looks, the way we act, think, or love – look deeper!
I had the pleasure of sitting face to face with Susan from DS Connections and all I saw was a mother who loved her children and wanted to share the joy that a child with Down syndrome brings. Yes, there are medical issues, but when you look pass all that, this is a child that is a gift and should be loved and treated that way.
Susan is very passionate about spreading awareness and being a POSITIVE resource for families that are blessed with a child of Down syndrome. Listening to her story about when her daughter was born and how the doctors at that time just handed over a medical booklet and walked away, my heart broke. Having a child with any medical condition is hard, but we as parents do our best. We as a community need to come together with love and grace and stop looking at the disability and start accepting the blessings that are right there.
Sandpoint Idaho- although a small town, often comes together as a community in joyous occasions. In order to help celebrate and bring awareness of Down syndrome, a grand party was in need! I wanted to do something that was different and fun for not only the children but also the families. I wanted to give them a piece of community love. I was just over- joyed to see how Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene came together to help me create the best pirate party ever created.
Last summer my friends kept sharing about the Sandpoint pirate and how he would bring his ship to shore with a treasure chest filled with goodies for the local kids who were at City Beach when he arrived. Somehow I always missed his arrival and for a year I searched to find out who this pirate was. Finally with some facebook detective work, I was able to reach out to him. We set up a time to meet and I have to tell you that I was full of nerves as I walked into this meeting. I really hoped that my words and passion would show as I really wanted to have this party come together.
Pirate Dan. Wow! What an amazing man he is. His heart and passion that he has for our local children is beyond words. Dan believes that children can have a higher self esteem when they are included in things. Giving them their own creative space to be who they are. His pirate ship, Wind Spirit, is crafted for kids (and adults) to give them an opportunity to come aboard, slip on a pirate hat and pick up a sword – to let them have fun- to help create a sense of magic.
When I first spotted the ship, the little kid inside of me wanted to jump aboard and be a part of a pirate life for a moment. Captain Dan really does create a sense of magic – even if it for a moment- it is a grand moment.
Captain Dan and the Wind Spirit, are part of Creations, a local nonprofit children’s charity located inside the Cedar Street Bridge, Creations.
Shery Meekings, executive director of Creations, said the organization does many things, but mainly serves as a children’s museum. There is a discovery area and a children’s center, as well as education classes. The organization serves 35,000 kids per year in the community open space. The community program is supported by Creations’ children’s boutique, toy store and candy bar. There is also a mobile unit that shares health and nutrition with the community. They also host several art programs throughout the community.
If you have never visited the open play area and store inside the Cedar Street Bridge, you really should take some time to visit. It really is a very fun and interactive place for our children to enjoy. So many creative options are available for our local children and an adorable boutique store filled with lots of treasures for the family.
I had shared my vision of this pirate party with both Dan and Sherry and they both were so supportive of the mission I was trying to execute for the community. Their whole creative team was all aboard this journey we were about to take.
I actually had the pleasure of meeting one of Creations amazing board members at a wedding I was helping with. I noticed that she was doing all the decorating and we stopped to chat for a moment. She shared with me all her creative outlets and I had opened up to her that I was in search for someone to help me decorate for this party – that is when she shared that she was part of Creations and was happy to help me out. Her bubbly personality and her eye and passion for creating an outstanding atmosphere was too heavy to ignore – I was thrilled that God had opened that door for me. Ms. Donna Short – was such a blessing and so very talented!! ~ Donna, thank you so much for being such a huge help and helping my vision come alive for this event!
I later reached out to the best bakery – Pastry & More and also shared with them my idea and mission- to help create a celebration for our local children of Down syndrome. Sitting down with Becky & Amanda was an amazing experience also. I love being able to connect with artistic beings. It is almost like we have our own language. It is hard to sometimes share the vision but creatives somehow seem to be able to look in the eyes of each other and see their creation. I gave them a few thoughts and then with full trust, I gave them creative freedom and waited in anticipation to see their cake creation for this party. I knew it was going to be amazing – I couldn’t wait to see what they had in mind.
BECKY RENFREW Our fearless leader and devoted owner, Becky, comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, from her grandfather who owned a mercantile, to her parents’ restaurants and electrical business. Becky’s passion for baking and cake decorating started at a young age while helping her mother in the kitchen, baking for family and friends. Becky has worked in several professions ranging from apprentice electrician, bookkeeper, line cook, to managing one of her parents’ restaurants. Although rewarding and full of great learning opportunities, Becky knew those pursuits were not her calling and 2010 decided to buy Pastry and More to pursue her love of baking.
AMANDA YOTHER Our Head Cake Decorator, Amanda, is a multi-award winning Master Sugar Artist, former owner of LuLu’s Sweet Art in San Diego, and former Head Decorator at Grove Pastry Shop in Lemon Grove, California. Before beginning to decorate, Amanda earned degrees in English and History from the University of California, Davis, and worked as a baker at the on-campus restaurant. After starting a family and moving to the San Diego area, Amanda turned her love of baking for her family and artistic background in a new direction. Teaching herself techniques and entering the competitive cake world, Amanda has earned multiple awards, including: “Grand Champion”, “Gold Certificate”, and “Best in Show” at the largest cake competition on the west coast, held annually in San Diego, as well as a Silver Certificate and top ten finish at the 2011 Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show, Grand National Wedding Cake Competition, the largest cake competition in the country.
These ladies are AMAZING, talented and super hard workers. I was on pin and needles waiting to see their creation of the pirate cake for these families! And it was more than I had imagined. When they walked down the hall with this MASSIVE cake, I partied like a little kid in a candy store. It was AMAZING! And even more amazing, was that this whole thing was all real cake! As they set the cake up on the table, we had other Cedar Street Bridge store owners and customers stop by to see this amazing cake. It truly was spectacular.
There were other amazing local and out of state vendors that gladly participated in helping create a magical party for these children and families. Thank you to the following businesses for their generosity:
Panhandle Cone & Coffee – They donated a gift card to each family for an ice cream treat. They are the BEST ice cream place I have ever visited.
Winter Ridge – their donation helped supplied foods for the attending families
I wanted to share with you another local vendor that helped bring this party together – another board member from Creations but this lady also has her own lovely event planning business, Chloe Jenkins from Blooming Event Designs, located here in Sandpoint Idaho. She was amazing as she helped put together all the little details and gathered the food areas in the cutest way.
I admit that I was a nervous wreck as I waited for these families to arrive. I really wanted them to have a great time and to feel loved. I felt like I was going on my first date, that is how nervous I was.
Captain Dan was sailing his ship to the Sandpoint dock to await his new group of friends to take them on a pirate ship ride before they went up to the bridge for a party. The excitement not only on the children’s faces when they saw him dock, but also the faces of the parents were just so priceless. We easily forgot the little things in life that can bring happiness – and sometimes all that is, is to see a child smile.
After our pirate ship rides, the families gathered upstairs at the Cedar Street Bridge for games, gifts, and food! Creations had their whole space decorated for the likes of a pirate and his ship mates.
I had such an amazing time during this event. This day was probably the most happy I have been in a super long time. To watch the kids play, laugh, and enjoy all the simple things and to watch Captain Dan bring joy to so many of these kids and families. My wish is that people would stop looking at the disabilities and start celebrating their abilities!
DID YOU KNOW?!
* That 1 in 5 children with DS play a musical instrument? For children older than ten, that number doubles. One of five children with DS sing in a choir or vocal group, for children older than ten, it is every one in three…
* Two out of every three children with DS like to draw and/or paint pictures
* Approx. 9 out of every 10 individuals with DS listened to someone read a book more than three times a week between the ages 2-5
* Approx. 7 out of 10 children w/ DS use total communication (signs, etc) between the ages of 2-5
* Approx. 7 out of 10 kids with DS saw a speech therapist two or more times a week between the ages of 2 and 5
* Approx. 1 of every 3 children with DS older than ten rides a bike without training wheels
* Seven of every ten individuals with DS older than ten participates on an athletic team through Special Olympics
* Two out of every five individuals with DS participates on an integrated athletic team.
* According to their families, 3 out of 5 individuals with DS know how to operate a computer.
* One of every three individuals with DS older than ten w/ DS reads the daily newspaper on his or her own
* Seven of ten individuals with DS older than 10 read books on their own for personal enjoyment
* One of two children with DS go to school in a mainstreamed class.
* 3 of 5 children with DS participate in school activities that are open to all students.
* According to their families, 1 of 5 children with DS talk on the phone with friends more than three times a week. For children older than ten, that number doubles.
* One of three children with DS write email regularly
* Two of three children with DS over age ten have a boyfriend or girlfriend!
* Approx. 7 of ten children with DS pray on a regular basis.
* According to their families, approx. 7 of 10 individuals with DS imitate characters from a television program or movie
* Approx. 2 of 3 individuals with DS older than 10 prepare their own breakfast each morning.
* Three of four individuals with DS older than 10 make their own bed in the morning.
* One of two individuals with DS (older than 18) work in a non sheltered workplace
* One of five individuals with DS (18 or older) lives on his or her own
There are a few commericals that have been out floating around tv and the internet but the one that moved me the most was this one – “How Do You See Me?”
Dear beautiful child… I see you as a blessing. I see beauty. I see love. I see you!
Thank you to all of the businesses that helped create this amazing party event for our local children. It was an honor to be surrounded by so much joy and love. I fell in love with so many of you and I look forward to hopefully seeing you in front of my lens again soon!
I met this adventurous family during spring soccer season and since then we have been family friends. I admire this family for all the fun things they do between the camping, the farming and activities they par-take in. This fall I was able to do their family photos up here in Spirit Lake. We have […]
In the goodness and light of all that you are and all you are still yet to be. Sweet Diliah came to visit me again this year for her fall photos. And my goodness, I am so glad I was able to see her again. This sweet little baby girl that has blossomed into a […]