Sunday, February 28, 2010

the big day!

it was a whirlwind day for all of us.
there were games to be set up, cotton candy to be spun, faces to be painted, and a birthday boy to celebrated :)
i would shower you with tons and tons of photos from the day but there were 2 problems with this.

#1--i forgot my big camera. it was left at home, gathering dust and certainly not taking pictures. so i was stuck with my little pocketbook camera and borrowing other cameras when i could get my hands on them.

#2--"get my hands on them" is also a way of saying "when those hands weren't face-painting" which they were doing about 80% of the time. honestly, even if the camera was there, i had very little time to photograph. and i love face-painting (especially with my new snazaroo face paint--highly recommended by my friend becky)

it was the best "county fair" themed party i've ever attended, and i'm sure many of the families and kids would agree. such a fantastic afternoon, featuring a petting zoo, lots of games and prizes...

and one of the cutest cakes ever!
check out the details...whoa. so adorable!
i managed to get up from my table in time to snap a couple of pictures of the big cake cutting. jonah wasn't quite sure what to do with his cake...
but he eventually started getting into it!

i think the biggest thing for me was meeting so many people from patrice's "community." and i'm not just saying her friends at church or where she used to work--i mean, every aspect was represented, from family to blog readers and supporters in the EB world. the cake was made by one of the first people who contacted her from dEBra, someone who has EB herself and drove all the way from florida to deliver his cake. i had women hug me and tell me that they hop over to my blog from patrice's and how much they enjoy reading about my adventures with the youth group kids. and her family, those of us who sat together last year and took over waiting rooms, playing scrabble and watching dvds and showed our love and support for jonah in whatever way we could while he was just hours and days old.

perhaps it's cliche (it is, but bear with me)--the saying that "it takes a village to raise a child"?

i think it was wonderfully and perfectly represented on saturday with jonah and his community, his village.

alright, patrice. what's the plan for next year? cause i have no idea how you're going to top this one, but i'm sure it can be done. 364 days to start planning...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

a birthday letter to jonah

dear jonah,
your mom often writes letters to you. and occasionally you take over the blog (those are my favorite posts, by the way) but today, i thought it was appropriate to write a letter to you.

exactly one year ago, i was in a hospital labor and delivery room. mind you, i've never experienced labor before, and the closest thing i had witnessed was watching too many episodes of "a baby story" on TLC during college. but when patrice asked if i could be there for your arrival, i couldn't resist. it was partly selfish--here i was, no kids and getting to actually see a birth before i had to experience it myself. and part of it was wanting to document your whole life, starting from your grand entrance into the world. i had a connection with your mama and pictures.
you see, i was sorta the unofficial williams family photographer. i took some pictures of your brother gabe when he was still in your mom's belly, and they ended up being really important in remembering him after he went up to heaven. i also had fun taking pictures of you while you were still in her tummy (your mom is beautiful all the time--but especially beautiful when she's pregnant) and it just seemed right to be there. it was a big deal--you were a big deal. you were finally going to be here, and we all couldn't wait to meet you, this little boy that we prayed for.

i've known your mama and daddy for many years, and your mom has always been one of the best friends you could ask for. she's honest and sweet and is one of those friends you can pick up with even if you haven't talked in a long time. she was there for me when i was still figuring out how to make my faith my own in college, and i always knew i could trust her to be there for me when i really needed her. she's decent at karaoke, has a wicked sense of humor, and makes the best sweet tea in the world.
and your daddy. i have a feeling many people wonder about this dude that married such a smart, quick-witted woman and how he handles that. well, your daddy is hilarious, too. he's got a great laugh that's infectious, is awesome with one-liners and fast sarcastic responses when your mom is trying to be serious (she gives him a look. trust me, you'll know the look one day.) but on the inside, you can tell he's a softie. he loves you so much and can be incredibly sincere and compassionate in those moments. he knows more sports trivia than the average sports almanac, is a huge fan of "the simpsons," and is a fantastic daddy. you're one lucky boy, jonah.

it was an early morning when we checked in for your birthday. we knew it'd be a long day, but we still had a fun time with some of those humorous moments in the hospital. like this pain management chart and those funny faces. your mom was game for joking around and stayed cool as a cucumber as her labor progressed.
we kept watching the contractions get stronger and faster, and soon the pain medicine kicked in. after doing some blogging in the morning and playing scrabble online with all of your aunts and uncles in the waiting room, i headed out to eat lunch. (i ate chipotle, and it's the one and only time i've ever eaten there. as a long-time fan of moe's, i was intrigued. it was good, jonah, and i only say this to entice you to continue eating solids so you will one day be able to enjoy the wonder that is tex-mex foods. your parents are fans as well, as is apparent by their close relationship with el maguey )

i wandered over to the mall and bought some steelers superbowl stickers for his car (they were actually a good team last year, along with the tarheels--we'll discuss ACC sports another time, before your daddy gets a chance to brainwash you) and then got the call that whoa, your mom has progressed and it's almost time. i drove back to the hospital, made it upstairs with all my gear and got set. it was showtime.

and jonah, i was not scarred for life. i actually (gasp) left the experience wanting kids myself and being okay with this whole labor thing. your mom was awesome, and in a short time (i think 20 minutes or so, though i can't say for sure) you were here! there were tears of happiness... there was joy... and then there were doctors. lots of them. we knew something wasn't quite right, but no one knew what. your skin was red and raw in a lot of places (probably, looking back now, some of the worst it's been, though your mom obviously would say for sure) and the doctors soon whisked you away. your dad followed with you, stopping to tell your family and finally sharing your name with them. your dad never left your side for that entire time, following you over to brenner's and staying with you until the early hours that night.

we got to see you before you left. by that point, we had started researching possible diagnoses online. we had updated the blogs. we had cried many tears. jonah, i ran up a phone bill of over $200 because of my roaming charges from that weekend (but completely worth it, because i think i would've gone crazy otherwise.) and that brief visit with you, seeing you cleaned up and your blond hair--just like your mom's--well, it's what helped us hold on.
this was the picture that people saw when they began praying for you. thousands of people, across the country, lifting your name up to God.
and it brought me one of the toughest pictures i've ever taken, second only to the ones i took of ayden's parents at his memorial service. (by the way, do you think gabe is partying up there with ayden? i bet they are having the best time--two sweet boys that i had the joy of photographing and can't wait to see again.)
and the day ended. the next day began, with many of us surviving on little sleep, taking over the waiting room at brenner's, getting to see you in your mummy bandages and finally beginning to understand a little bit about EB. and then the next day came.

and the next.

and the next.

and 365 days later, here we are. here you are. gorgeous blue eyes, a huge smile that has charmed the world, and a gigantic family of supporters and followers and fans that want to celebrate your year in the world.

you have surpassed statistics for expectations, continued to thrive and grow, and even though you sometimes give your parents a hard time with the whole eating thing (remember, mexican food makes it all worthwhile) and sleeping thing (it appears you just don't need sleep--too much of the world to see) you are a happy, amazing little boy. you have a story that glorifies God and His power to bring us through the darkest, most trying times. you have parents who take every opportunity to thank the people who have helped them this past year--those that are close by and can help with dressing changes or laundry, and those that live across the country and are donating items and money to help find a cure for EB. you have a faithful group of supporters that care about how you're doing, where you've been, how long you're sleeping (or not), and even what your mom (and you) had for lunch.

and i think most importantly, you have a life that is meant to be lived. this is just the first year, jonah. i can't wait to see the rest :)

always your first photographer (and biggest fan),


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

worship music wednesday

this weekend, we saw the aaron pelsue band again there leading worship. they do have some decent original songs, and i thought i'd feature one of my favorites this week.

to get the full effect, you have to jump up and down in tempo with the chorus and pump your fist in the air. just letting you know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

@iheartfaces: hands on!

this week at i heart faces, the focus is hands. no face necessary! i thought back to some of my favorite hands photos--several of the newborn poses i do now focus on the parents' hands holding up the baby. i even have a bunch of newly-ringed hands from weddings. but my favorite one is this one:

a year ago this week, i was in a hospital room, waiting on the birth of a very special boy. and now, jonah is celebrating his 1st birthday--a milestone many thought he might not see. he continues to amaze and inspire as he thrives and his wonderful parents document his life on their family blog.

i'm going to put in a shameless plug for our online auction that we're hosting, starting tomorrow. over at jonah's auction website, you can bid on lots of great items with all of the proceeds going to debra, a research organization working to find a cure for EB.

check out the other hands-focused photos at i heart faces this week!


what a weekend.

i'm not quite sure what possessed me to think that we could do all of the activities that were planned this weekend. i mean, we did them. but man, was i exhausted by the end of it!

loved nearly every minute of it, though. i have so many amazing friends, a wonderful husband and some awesome youth group kids. and i guess that's what made this weekend all worth while.

it started with a drive on friday afternoon to charlottesville, va, where our middle schoolers were attending the annual student ministries of virginia conference, "launch." emelie and i were asked to chaperone, so we drove together and marveled at the foothill mountains that we saw as we were coming into town.

still plenty of remnants from the snow a couple of weeks ago...
actually, a lot. check out this parking lot pile. (and try to keep middle school boys off of huge snow piles. it's nearly impossible!)
we had dinner and got our seats for the first session...
and even though i was called "old lady" by several people on facebook, i stand by my earplugs. we're always seated close to the speakers, and i can hear everything i need to hear with earplugs in and not feel like i'm suffering hearing loss.
the comedy act was awesome--the isaac improv group. they were hilarious and i was reminded of the nights when i'd watch re-runs of "whose line is it anyway?" and crack up. really really funny.
tim hunt was the first speaker, and did a great job. he introduced the idea of how many of us wear a mask to cover up their faith, and how allowing our faith to become our own often requires us to remove the mask.
so then we passed out masks to all of the kids and allowed them to wear them for the rest of the night, as well as add any "masks" that they hide behind for their faith.
(most of ours drew facial hair on theirs.)
the next morning, after a very short night of sleep, we picked up some much needed starbucks!
and got ready for the 2nd session. the aaron pelsue band was doing the music again (we had just seen them at middle school ccyc back in november) so we were pretty familiar with their songs.
this is their lead female singer (and aaron's wife) and i love her haircut. do you think i could pull this off? it's just adorable and i took several pictures from various angles to see if i could possibly recreate it with robin :)
frank johnson did the second lesson and continued with the mask analogy--great speaker!
(i liked the shadows.)
emelie and i had to leave after lunch, so we did our group photo before we left. i was digging the graffiti wall right next to the auditorium. one photo with the masks...
and then the line-up without.
"crazy picture!"
nice motto on the concrete--picture-worthy.
and i'm sure there's a story behind this one...
right after lunch, we began our drive back. and before we knew it, we were here:
our girls' ministry "purity ball," where all of the teenage girls who participated in our lessons received rings and pledged to keep themselves pure until marriage. our women's ministry also gave each of them a china plate, sharing with them the idea that they are each a piece of fine china, designed with a purpose by God and should be treated as such.
there was also plenty of picture taking, including this prom-like picture with our husbands.
me with my fearless co-leader!
and finally, we ended the night with dancing. first a full dance floor. then a few of the girls and some stragglers. and by the end, it was me, emelie and lynn. and we had the best time :)
(socks were provided by the organizer of the event just for the purpose of taking off your shoes and dancing. great idea!)

sunday was a full day of church and errands, but i got plenty of sleep, glorious sleep, and felt great. i love being a part of these ministries, and i love being able to be a part of so many kids growing in their faith. we have a pretty easy week, and then i'll be heading westward for jonah's birthday party! can't wait to see that little guy....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

new gear

so with the latest lens purchase (my 35 mm that i love and recommend to any nikon d60 or lower user) i officially outgrew my current camera bag. i browsed through several online stores looking at my options and tried out a couple when we were in best buy and other electronics stores after the holidays. then i was pleasantly surprised when justin had this one waiting for me on my birthday--perfect choice!

he ordered it from b and h photo which is one of my favorite online stores for camera stuff. it's a sturdy bag, which will help when we travel, and i think it's pretty weather-safe as well.

here it is with all my gear inside--3 lenses off the camera, one on the camera, and a little gorilla pod for my small camera (the gorilla pod for my big camera is in one of the top compartments.) i am looking at upgrading my flash to one that can rotate as well--maybe a SB 600?
here's a very poor picture of it on my back. it's my guest bathroom, which is used infrequently and the mirror obviously is not cleaned that often. but you get the point.
and here it is pulled around front, with the flap open the right way to get access to my camera and other lenses.
i'm excited about having this new sturdy camera bag and safely storing some of my new accessories. the one thing about this hobby is that there's always something new you can get... but that's what my photo jobs pay for at this point :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

worship music wednesday

one of my favorites, continuing with the "love" theme.

it was middle school or early high school when i heard this song, and i have always, always loved it. the lyrics, the music, the many memories that it brings back.

Monday, February 15, 2010

i heart faces: i wanna dance!

this week over at "i heart faces," the theme is "i wanna dance!" most of my dancing photos come from weddings, and i have quite a few to choose from now. sweet pictures of the bridal couple dancing, groups of bridesmaids breaking it down, and even a few of little kids grooving along with the adults.

but "i wanna dance" made me think of this one.
he's not dancing. but man, is he thinking about it and taking it all in and observing with those adorable two-year-old eyes and likely... wanting to dance.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

more valentine's day

yesterday morning, we woke up to more and more snow. and still a few flakes coming down!

pepper dog was running through the snow and kicking it up as she scurried around. it was cute to watch and reminded me of our thanksgiving up in west viriginia when we went sledding and she ran up and down the hill with us.

our mailbox showed the total accumulation from the night's snow...
and then our poor snowman was covered up again just from the snow that had fallen over night. i had to clean him up again!
we had breakfast and watched the winter olympics opening ceremony that we had recorded the night before. we really enjoyed the special effects that they used on the floor of the stadium and the acrobatics. and who knew so many music artists, actors and comedians were canadian?

after we got ready, we headed out to do the week's grocery shopping and pick up a few things for making dinner that night. i saw where pioneer woman had featured her shrimp and linguine that morning and the recipe seemed simple enough and perfect for our dinner. i've gotten in the habit of visiting a regular grocery store for most of the groceries and then shopping at the fresh market for specialty items. we got our shrimp there yesterday (local NC shrimp!) along with some delicious desserts and rolls to go with dinner. the flowers caught my eye as we came in, and though justin suggested picking up a bouquet of roses, i went for a little gerbera daisy plant.
i'd honestly rather have plant that will last a while (and could even be planted outside) than a dozen roses.

so later that night, i worked on dinner and set the table for our dinner (forgive me for only clearing half the table--it just wasn't that important to me.)
my lovely husband--with jewelry displays for jonah's auction in the background, along with a bag of dog food and a ski coat.

whole wheat pasta with shrimp and a delicious tomato/garlic/parsley mixture, caesar salad and rosemary and sea salt rolls.
my little valentine's pup waiting for any morsel we might be willing to share with her...

and the desserts--ohhhhh.......justin chose a cappucino hazelnut pie or cheesecake--we're not sure which... but it was delicious. i had a raspberry napoleon, which was essentially layers of white cake, raspberry filling and cream or frosting in layers. also amazing--but i went back for a bite or two of justin's dessert.

this is the 2nd year that we've done our valentine's day dinner at home, and i'm really enjoying it. we eat out regularly on the weekends, so it's not exactly worth it to fight the crowds for just that one night. we take time to choose a nice menu, pick out ingredients that may cost a little bit more than what we typically buy, and really enjoy preparing the food and eating at home.

and even though today is actually valentine's day, we're taking it easy. after going out to a movie on friday night and our homemade dinner last night--we're eating leftovers and catching up on DVR shows :) so romantic, right?

what's your valentine's weekend been like?