Throwback Thursday ~ Down Syndrome Awareness

throwback Thursday

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month and I wanted you to meet a little friend of mine who is rocking that extra chromosome.

Meet Jase.

His big sisters go to school with my kids so I’ve known his family for several years now but it actually wasn’t until about six years ago that I got to know his mama really. She was pregnant with Jase when her oldest daughter and my son were paired together on a school project. She was also just learning that the baby she was carrying possibly had down syndrome.

Everyone wants a happy and healthy baby and when you are facing the possibility that your baby might not be “healthy” it can be hard. But over the months I was privileged to watch Christi and her family not only come to terms with the diagnosis but to have a deep joy in the gift of their son. They navigated the uncertainty with grace and a deep faith that God was at work. Certainly there are challenges that come with that extra chromosome but Jase and his family rise to meet them every time.

I feel in love with him the first time I met him with those beautiful blue eyes and his red hair. Over the last five years I have been able to take his pictures on different occasions and I can honestly say it is a special delight every single time. His smile and sweet spunky personality just pulls you in.

One of the best things born out of Jase’s diagnosis has been the creation of Genes of Joy, a non profit organization whose goal is to establish a community rich in support for those families touched by DS, provide resources for those families, as well as to raise awareness about down syndrome. It has been wildly successful with an annual buddy walk and respite days that serve the community. They also provide baskets through local hospitals to the families of babies born with ds that are full of resources and contact information so they don’t have to feel overwhelmed or alone. How great is that?

It has been such a blessing to be a part of Jase’s life and to see how his family has leaned into his diagnosis and look for ways to help others who also walk this journey. There is joy and delight and an abundance of love and grace that spills over.

One of my favorite pictures of him.

Down syndrome will affect 1 in every 700 babies born in the United States. Children born with DS will go through all of the milestones typical to any child…they just meet them at a different pace. As adults with DS they have jobs, manage relationships and navigate life just like everyone else. They might have some additional things to cope with but with love and support from their families and communities they are just as important and contribute just as much to society as “normal” people.

Indeed us normal people are better off for having such resilient and determined friends in our lives.

We Go Way Back

throwback Thursday

Man, I thought last week’s throwback post was a sweet stroll down memory lane! But on Tuesday I did family pictures from some dear friends and decided I would look back at pictures I have done with them over the years and oh my goodness, it was so fun to remember all these times!

The first time I photographed anyone in the Stout family was also the first time I was surprising someone with pictures. I approached the kids about doing pictures as a gift for my friend Mary on Mother’s Day. That was way back in 2008 and they were just the cutest bunch of kiddos! Heather and Patricia, the twins, are the oldest, next is Alice, and Jerry is the baby of the family.

And this is where I needed to double check my dates while I was writing this blogpost. Because I was looking at those pictures and the next thing I photographed was Heather’s bridals. Three years makes a huge difference in the life of someone. HUGE.

I mean seriously. Those first pictures would have been taken about the time the twins turned seventeen. Three years later I would have photographed Heather’s bridal portraits and then her and Sean’s wedding.

Crazy, isn’t it? In June of 2012 I did family pictures before Patricia moved away and I think Sean and Heather moved to Dallas, maybe?

It was funny to me as I looked at the pictures how I could suddenly remember that day clear as could be. That is what makes pictures important I think. The ability to call up moments that happened so long ago but seem like they happened yesterday. It was also the last time I had the whole immediate family in front of my camera. Alice would graduate not long after we took these pictures and her class was the first time I did senior class pictures. All five seniors. (The perks of being in a small classical Christian school.) She was also the only girl in the class. Those were good times.

Alice moved to Idaho for college, joining Patricia who had since married and I cannot remember which came first on these next pictures. I want to say it was the family pictures but I might be wrong and it was the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Stout. Which was amazing because the family was able to pull off a huge surprise party without them knowing a single thing about it until they got there.

Also, by 2014 Heather and Patricia both added sweet babies to the family fold. (There are now ten grandchildren with number eleven on the way.)

Jerry graduated and moved to Idaho and then on January 1, 2016 Alice came home and got married.

The next time she was in front of my camera it was a year and a half later and I was photographing her son.

I love doing pictures for the same family over the years and watching them grow! I am looking forward to sharing some of the pictures from Tuesday’s session with almost all of the family. I have my fingers crossed that maybe one day everything will come together and I can do pictures of the whole family. I don’t know when that might happen but I am keeping my camera batteries charged!

Guernsey Throwback

throwback Thursday

I love looking back and gathering pictures for a post like this! I first did G-man’s pictures when his mama was teaching at my kids’ school. He was such a cutie with those big blue eyes!

I don’t think he was even a year old at that time but a few years later I got to do family photos out at Ft Pickens. Honestly, it has been so long ago I almost forgot I had done them but as I looked through them again I was reminded of how absolutely adorable they turned out! These are some of my favorites from that day.

Fast forward a few years more and we did family pictures again that included his new baby sister! My heart still melts when I see his precious smile and that cowboy hat.

I think Jojo was my first watermelon one year old session and she could not have been any cuter!

We also did a family picture when we did her first birthday photos and it has always been one of my favorite images! Definitely one for the portfolio with the beautiful light and sweet smiles.

I cannot wait until next week when I will be sharing their most recent family session!