Tuesday, July 24, 2012

All grown up

It's been a big week around the Schell house...drum roll please....

We've got a ourselves a KINDERGARTNER!!!

It seems like just yesterday that my baby boy was just that...a baby. But today he is in elementary school. His first day of school was yesterday and using the word "excited" would be an understatement! It's all he's been talking about for the last couple of weeks...he's gotten new school clothes (courtesy of his amazing grandma) a new backpack and his school supplies. We even made sure to go and get him a fresh new haircut the day before he started.

Yesterday morning, he helped me pack up his backpack and we headed off for his first morning. (After a quick photo shoot in the backyard of course!) When we got to school we headed over to the kinder's section of the school and found his teacher and waited for the bell to ring...when it did he got into line to get ready to head into his classroom. BUT not before quickly running out of line to mommy for one last hug. He made me so proud...he was such a big boy, no tears...just a HUGE smile as he walked into school! (I made it to my car before letting any tears spill!)

When I picked him up and asked him about his day he told me about how awesome school was...he went on to say that his favorite parts of the day was getting to go to recess 2 times, getting to drink chocolate milk with lunch and that there was a "real library AT SCHOOL!" It's the little things folks...the little things that make the world go 'round!!

ps. I think our next BIG thing is going to be his first lost tooth! He came home from school and informed me that he has his first loose tooth! Maybe the tooth fairy will be visiting us before the end of the week!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hope For Ava

Below is a blog post that I also have put up on my Photography Business website:

Have you ever had the chance to meet someone that changes how you view life and the way that you live it? Earlier this year, I had the chance to meet someone that did just that...Cynthia Dawson. She is a mother, a wife, a daughter and a budding photographer...all of that along with being an amazingly strong, wonderful, inspiring woman. The kind of woman that I strive to be each and every day.

A snapshot that I took of Ava & Cynthia from this past weekend. We met up and took Ava & Caleb to paint pottery...the kiddos had a blast, as  you can tell from the HUGE smile on Ava's sweet face!

I met Cynthia in an online Facebook forum for photographers. She put up a post one day asking if anyone in the group lived in the Phoenix area. Me...well, being me...I piped up and replied to her post, friend requested her and pm'd her that night! Within a couple of weeks plans were made to meet at a local restaurant in person and when we did finally meet, we began talking about everything in our lives...our families, our husbands, her move to Arizona and about photography.

This is when I learned about WHY she had moved from Texas to Arizona...she and her family came here so that her daughter Ava could participate in a clinical trial at Phoenix Children's Hospital. You see, Ava was diagnosed early last December with a brain tumor...and not just any brain tumor, a special one called DIPG. This is a very rare and aggressive tumor. It can't be removed because of it's location, and while radiation is the standard method of treatment, the tumor will grow back and nothing can be done at that point except to make the child comfortable. 90% of children diagnosed with DIPG die within one year and the remaining children die within 3 years. (Source: Hope for Ava)

Ava is a fun-loving, sweet little 5 year old girl. She is just like any other 5 year old...she loves her mommy, daddy and little sister; she loves Scooby Doo and even named her own doggie Scooby; she loves anything pink & girlie, has tons of stuffed animals and loves to play with her Barbies and her Barbie Dream House; she loves art and coloring; and she is adorable and quick to smile.

At the end of June, because her disease has progressed, Ava and her family were given the devastating news that they were out of the clinical trial here in Arizona. They will be moving back home to Texas soon...but in the short time that I have known them, both Ava and Cynthia made an imprint on my heart.

Cynthia and Ava have changed me. Knowing them has made me slow down and take in the little moments and treasure them. Cynthia's strength and ability to smile in the midst of one the hardest trials that life could send her makes me strive for more...She makes me a better mother and a better wife and friend. She has inspired me to be more giving and less selfish. (Check out this blog post on giving back that she wrote.) I can honestly say that my life is better for knowing them and I thank God everyday that he brought them into my life.

To learn more about Ava and how you can help her and her family, please check out the blog DIPG - Hope for Ava. Cynthia is using this as a way to keep everyone updated on Ava, her disease and treatment, along with sharing special moments from their life. You can help them out by making a donation, leaving a kind word on a post or praying for their family. (You can also check out Ava's Facebook page here too!)

ps. I am participating in an online auction hosted by Morgan Kervin that went live this morning! All money raised in the auction will go directly to the Dawson family to help with the expenses of fighting Ava's brain tumor. I have donated a free mini-session, along with over 50 others that have donated items from across the United States. Please make sure to check it out and help out by bidding on an item if you can! 

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