Free Photo Session for a Deserving Family!

Last week I had the idea to give away a free photo session for a deserving family. I collected some submissions from my readers on who they thought deserved a free session. Here they are!! I’m holding this vote until Saturday at midnight and then the winner will be announced! So please make sure to place your vote and tell your family and friends to vote as well!

First read the stories, and then vote at the bottom.

Nominee #1: Jessica
I would like to nominate Jessica Stephenson and her family for the photo session. Jessica and her husband Jason have 4 children: teenagers Deanna & Dylan and little ones Ryan (nearly 3) and Jacob (nearly 5). Their lives are as busy as one would expect with 4 children, all with activities and mom with multiple jobs, though considered “stay at home”. Amongst all that craziness, Jess is always taking care of their immediate family and their extended family. I am fortunate that they count me and my own family as part of theirs. Jess and I started as friends- but it is much easier to explain our presence in each other’s lives to outsiders as “she’s my sister”. Our children know each other as cousins, when we go out together it is difficult to decipher which child belongs to which mother as they run and cry to both of us equally. Our husbands understand that many times, a first call of important news will be to our sister and the second to our husband. Recently, the oldest teenager literally forgot that we are not blood related and was utterly confused when this was pointed out to her. It was as if we were telling her the world was flat. Jess is always putting the needs of those she loves at the top of her priority list. Even when things are going wrong for her immediate family, or times are just high stress for them, she will be offering their parent or sister or friend help, without even being asked. Whether it is a matter of a meal, a shoulder to cry on, support in a life decision or change, or just an offer of a sleepover for a friend’s child because the parent is feeling overwhelmed, Jess is always there. It doesn’t matter if she is in search of a full time job for fear her husband will be losing his- she will be fulky supportive of you in your job search that is just because you are bored or unhapoy in your job. She will feed you and your family a meal because you haven’t slept more than 2 hours a night all week due to a colicky baby even though she is has only gotten a couple more hours than that between multiple part-time jobs and toddlers with nightmares. There have been many moments in my life when I feel I fail as her friend- I just do not know where she gets the time, the energy, the patience to do all that she does or help everyone that she does. I tell Jess all the time that I want to grow up to be just like her. I used to joke that the super mom power must appear after the second kid. My second is now 6 months old. I am still waiting for the super powers. I hope someday to get my act together, and to be as thoughtful and helpful as Jess. For now, I can try to get her a family portrait session to thank her for all that she does for everyone around her.

Nominee #2: Meghan
I would like to nominate my sister-in-law, Meghan Sheridan. My husband and I gave birth to our son, Owen, on dec 6, 2013. He was no expected to live due to a large birth defect on his head. (Our story is on the blog). To everyone’s surprise, Owen has beaten the odds and has been thriving. He has done everything the “experts” said he would not do. Our entire family was at his birth, including Meghan ( who drove two hours) in hopes of meeting him. The first night in the hospital she offered to come down at 11 pm so my husband and I could get some rest. She rocked Owen from 11pm to sometime in the morning – probably 7 am. She offered to do it again but I knew she had 3 small children at home and she needed to sleep. Fast forward two days. We transferred Owen to children’s in Pittsburgh. She offered again to help. And she showed up with a truckload of food for our families while we were there. I’m not sure how she finds the time to do all these kind deeds for people, but she does. I’m truly blessed to have a sister (in-law) who is more like a sister to me. Meghan, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness, prayers and love.

Nominee #3: Leann (nominated by the same person who nominated Meghan)
I would like to nominate my other sister-inlaw, Leann Sheridan (Same beginning) We were discharged from children’s on dec 11th. We drove home in a snow storm and we walked in my house to a beautiful Christmas tree and the house all decorated for Christmas, including a stocking for Owen. Leann and her husband, Matt, went and cut down a Christmas tree and decorated our home for us. It was the most beautiful site. Our in laws house also had a tree that they had purchased. I am so thankful that I have a sister in law who really is a sister to me. Leann, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Nominee #4: Sarah
Here is my nomination… Sarah Forrest and family. Sarah and her husband planned a fabulous trip to Disney for their family. They have 2 kids on the autism spectrum and were so excited to go back to Disney for a second time–this time in a super well planned out, much more friendly to their family way. The one thing they were nervous about was how the new disability access system would work for their family. That ended up being the least of their problems. The trip was basically one mini-disaster after another. When they got to Disney after a delayed flight, they rushed to go and ride their daughter’s favorite ride, Small World only to find that it was closed for renovation for the entire time they were there. As if that were not hard enough to deal with (for any kiddo really but definitely for a kiddo with spectrum issues), they were also ready and excited for the special fireworks show at Hollywood Studios the following day (had it planned on their daily schedule) when they were told there was no more room and if you weren’t already seated to watch, you’d have to come back another time. These issues may seem minor but working through them with children on the autism spectrum is truly a challenge you can only ‘get’ if you’ve traveled this road. On top of all that, both Sarah and Damien also ended up with a terrrible longer than 24 hour stomach flu at varying times during the trip. Throughout all of this, Sarah shared her stories of her trip with positive spins and made the most of all of it for her kids. Not until their very last day, did she admit how ready she was for all of this to be over! I’d love for her to win the session and for you to capture some of her much less stressful times on camera as a gift to her. 🙂 Thanks for considering her!!

Nominee #5: Becky
I think a local LLL leader and friend of mine, Becky Curran Ashkettle, deserves a free lifestyle session! Her amazing family is 5-people strong: Herself and her husband, and their three hilarious kids who are as full of personality as they are of spunk. Becky quit her job as an educator to homeschool her kids, and she works tirelessly to expose them to some of the most hands-on learning experiences available in Pittsburgh. She is down-to-earth and real, and not at all afraid of her kids getting dirty or a little crazy in order to express themselves. I’ve never met a mother so dedicated to allowing her kids just be… well, kids! Robert, Laura and Sadie are some of the smartest, coolest, funniest, and most stubborn children I’ve ever met and I have no doubt they will move mountains as adults, all three of them. Please consider Becky’s family for a gifted lifestyle session.

Nominee #6: Emily
I just recently had a friend named Emily have a baby! Her and her husband tried for years to get pregnant and once they finally went to dozens of doctors appointments they were given the gift of conception and they were thrilled! Emily and I worked together at a bank downtown, she drove over an hour to work, while her husband worked two jobs. One full time and another attempting to keep their family farm running because he has elderly parents. Two days after she announced she was pregnant to our coworkers, she had spotting. She realized she had a low lying placenta and was placed on bed rest for the next few months. Once she was cleared to work, her and her husband realized the longhorn drive and stress was not worth risking their miracle babies life for! Emily stopped working and Dale continued to work both jobs to make ends meet and to try and save for the baby. These two just had their baby 12/14/13! Beautiful baby Leah. She is current in the NICU for another week, having ingested some soiled amniotic fluid and being delivered via c section. She’s expected to make a full recovery and should be able to go home to be with mom and dad very soon! Emily and Dale are easy going, kind, and very thoughtful. They have been graces by the hand of god with a beautiful healthy baby, and I really think they would be overjoyed to have new photos taken of their little girl. I don’t think even the most basic photoshoot is something they would be able to make a priority at the moment but something they would really truly appreciate! Please keep pick them for your shoot, it would be one of the greatest gifts, and I am sure when she is a few months older and healthier she would totally be up for a photo shoot, thank you!!!!

Contest is over. No voting. Sarah won!