Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Myken & Cannon

Myken and Cannon are cousins!

Myken is gorgeous! I didn't get to know too much about them, because of a time issue, and I couldn't get a hold of their Mothers... but she has something in common with a lot of the people in this project. Myken is a twin.

Her twin does not have a disability.

Cannon's and Myken's moms are sisters.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


2012 Shoot

What can I say about Lily? She has the most amazing bright and beautiful blue eyes. When she looks at you, it's like her spirit speaks to yours.
Lily has a very sweet personality. It seemed as though she took in every word that was said. I loved seeing her eyes light up when I told her she was beautiful.
From Lily I learned to have kind eyes that help others feel welcome. I learned that you don't have to say words to speak. The kindness people see in your eyes is the same as the kindness in your heart. I strive to have that. I strive to be like Lily.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Oh Olivia! I am laughing already! Olivia is a hilarious, and I mean a hilarious, girl! When I saw her, I offered her my hand, and said,"can I take your picture?!?" She shrugged her shoulders and walked over to a bush with me. I asked her to smile, and she gave me a beautiful smile! I was pleasantly surprised how photogenic she was. When I looked thought my camera again, Olivia had turned around. She then began to shake her bum at me, looked over shoulder and winked. By now the group we were with was all laughing. I was laughing so hard I didnt get it on my camera. Olivia then began to dance! Such an amazing girl, who is an example to all, how to find joy in life.

 The following is from Olivia's Mama.
"Olivia is an amazing girl-she has overcome so many obstacles and faces new ones with a grin and an I can do it attitude.Oliva was born with Meier-Gorlin Syndrome A form of Primordial Dwarfism-she will remain tiny but she can do almost everything that we as bigger people do-like Skiing-she LOVES to skii and draw and most of all have fun.I don't know what we would do without her...she brings so much love and light into our lives-she is my sweetpea now and Forever. We are very fortunate to be able to be parents of such sweet girls-as Olivia is a big sister-and A great one at that!"

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Journal Entry: March 2012

"I am amazed at how I am changing little by little. I am now getting requests from states in every direction! I never knew how big this project would be, but I'm not complaining!"

"Instead of getting married-ha ha. My parents and I are going to get in the car and go to Portland, Oregon. I went on Facebook and automatically went to work trying to find people in that area that could participate in my project. I am so grateful for how many people help me with this project. I had people sending me e-mails, and numbers of people in Oregon that might participate!"

"Oregon has allowed me to do and try new things. We stopped at a crab shack on the side of the road. The menu was basically made up from fish and chips. The guy however sold he fresh catch of the morning too. There were SO many crabs! Iv never really been a big seafood person, but I DO like an adventure! "Hey If I buy a whole crab can you heat it up for me?". " Umm... they are dead". "I know... do you eat it cold? Look, Im a dumb girl from Idaho, and I just want to eat a whole crab...". " Oh! Okay... Ill uh take out the brains and everything for you... and warm it up a bit."... then he had to show me how to eat it.... hahaha ... IT WAS SOOO GOOD!"

"While everything was still dead and yellow/brownish in Idaho, Oregon was lush, green, and blooming with flowers! There is a lot culture, and amazing food here! Plus, my mom is having fun finding all of the thrift stores ha ha."

"Some sad news came today. The 7 people I had scheduled ( they all lived in a home together )... they went to Mexico.... so hopefully I can find someone"

"The Lord blesses me so much! I have found a couple people! I have a session in Washington in the morning, and we are going to travel the coast on the way back. I LOVE the ocean here. I would rather live here than Florida!"

(I was able to photograph a young girl In Salem, who has since has decided to no longer be part of the project. But I learned some things from her, so I am going to share that )

When I first saw this little girl's family walking towards me I thought," Oh my goodness what an adorable family!" It was a windy day and rainy day. This hurt her eyes, and scared her. She didn't want her glasses on for the pictures, even though they helped her see, and protected them from the wind. Every time she got scared her daddy raced over to comfort her, and wipe any tears that formed. It melted my heart. Once time she began to get a little scared and he daddy called her name, and said something like its okay you can hear us, you know I'm here. Its okay, you are doing great! - beautiful right? I thought to myself, that's what God has been telling me this last month. Its okay, I am here, keep going! I wont let you fall, you are doing great.

I also got to travel to Washington on this road trip and photographed an amazing woman named Heather. Her post will be coming soon! Such an amazing story!

"One thing I see over, and over again in this project are the AMAZING families these people are a part of. The love in this family was so strong I could fill it. There is no way I could possibly understand how difficult it is to be a parent, let alone, having one with a disability. It amazes me how they march though trials, where others would crumble. Its a beautiful thing to see."

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Liz! Oh my lanta, Liz is such an amazing person! I met Liz my first semester at Utah State. I was in her institute class, and we would talk here, and there. I ran into her at the homecoming game, and she asked me if I was doing Best Buddies that year. I had actually signed up for it the prior week! She said that she wanted to be my buddy, and I remember going home, and praying that I would be- haha.  BUT... we were not paired up with each other, but ironically, her roommate was my buddy! Liz and I were able to spend a lot of time together!
Liz, is such an amazing woman. She is literally the most caring person I know. When ever anyone is feeling sad or mad around her, or on facebook, she tries to help them. Liz has a special gift. She has the gift of charity and compassion.Its something that is overlooked so much in the world today, and I don't want it to go unnoticed with Liz. SHE IS TOO AMAZING! 
Liz has many other talents, LIKE BEING LEGIT! Do you see that picture? That is a GOLD she got from the World Special Olympics in CHINA! Liz also went to Greece, and has competed in many local competitions. Basically, she is AMAZING!
Liz can do anything, and she has the determination and talent to go with it. Way to go Liz, we sure do love you!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Megan! I was so happy when Megan said she would be part of this project! I first met Megan my freshman year in high school! We had choir together, and that brought a lot of memories!
I can remember Megan letting me race down the hall in her wheel chair, and trying to do half of the things she does, like turning corners... Overall, I wasn't very good! haha, Megan is a friend to anyone who wants to get to know her. She loves books, and is attending ISU. AND SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!

"I think I want people to know that just because I have a disability doesn't mean I'm not a person. I have feelings, treat me like you would treat any other person."-Megan

My chair does not define who I am, I define who I am.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mr. Archer Oakley or AO for short =)

This, is Archer. I dont think I have ever ran so much during a photo session haha! He is such a ball of energy, and is a total sweetheart!  Nui, of Arohanui Photography told me when I first started this project that she would love to help out. I had no idea, at that time, that she had an angel of her own. Nui, was so awesome to second shoot my session with Archer!

Archer even decided to take a couple pictures himself! Adorable right?!? Well I could tell you all about Mr.AO, but I know I could never tell it to you like his mother. The following massage is from Nui.

" As I was laying in bed last night, editing away some pictures on the laptop, I stopped and looked at my son, snoring softly next to me; legs sprawled out, one arm nestled behind his head, the other haphazardly draped up onto my hip, his thick blonde hair sticking straightup on one side, due to falling asleep shortly after his bath, allowing his damp hair to dry in a completely rediculous manner, and smelling like only a sweet, clean, soft, warm baby can smell....and I couldn't help but be completely overwhelmed with such a sense of gratitude for having this little boyfriend in my life. Three years into this journey and I'm still amazed at what a blessing this little boy has been.

I started thinking back, and realized I haven't been writing, and keeping track of such an amazing experience, nearly enough. I thought of the day he was born. I remember laying there on the operating table, unable to move anything below my arms, and I saw my beautiful little man for the first time; his 6 pound, 12 ounce little olive skinned body, his flaming orange, (yes, orange!) hair, (which he has since grown out of, and gained a thick honey blonde mop!), and his soft little cry, only long enough to kiss him and whisper, "Happy Birthday, I'm so glad you're mine." before he was whisked away. But that moment was long enough for me to realize that my life would never be the same, and I couldn't have been more ecstatic.

I think not knowing he had Down Syndrome before he was born, was exactly how it was supposed to be. I didn't have all that time to worry and wonder all the things that could possibly be wrong, or convince myself of what a hardship it was going to be. Instead, finding out nearly 3 hours after he arrived that afternoon, all I could think was, I wonder how they missed it.

Before any worries or apprehensions had a chance to creep in, Archer Oakley was put into my arms, and any pending disastrous thoughts were quickly dissolved and brightened by this perfect little body, and all the limitless possibilities for the future flooded in. I instantly became obsessed and so excited for all the things I was about to learn in life. First lesson learned: I never knew it was possible for me to learn SO much from something SO small. Never knew it was possible to love someone SO deeply. And never knew that just the smell of his soft, sweet little breaths, could bring me to tears in an instant.

I didn't know that when it seems everything you've built up in life has seemingly been torn down and left bare, what is rebuilt in its place is infinitely better. Through the past 3 years, there have been an abundance of tears. Not tears of sadness, but, tears of an almost suffocating sense of luck. Luck that he picked me. I'm so grateful for him and the amazing lessons he is teaching me along the way. These tears of pure joy and elation have been accompanied by an almost silly amount of giggling and full on bursts of laughter, as well as a much broader perspective and a deeper meaning of life.

He's changing me. I find more beauty in life. I find more meaning and appreciation in every breath I take, and every step I take. And Mister Archer Oakley? Well, AO is a perfect, mischievous, rambunctious, naughty, hilarious, curious, soul-satisfying little boy, who has such a wild fire behind his eyes, yearning to learn and discover everything in his world. And he's taking his world by storm. He wakes up every morning with a magical, wide-eyed wonder, anticipating his adventures for the day. He is extremely resiliant, stubborn, and strong, and I think he's quite fearless. His laugh is contagious, and he has a hard time hiding his naughty little adventures. He loves to dance, and adores music. He's undeniably smart, and picks up on things after seeing it done just once. He has surpassed all the dreams and expectations of being my first born child - and then some. He makes me complete. He is EXACTLY what I have always needed. "

( I love the picture above, it was pretty much nap time, and he was done taking photos haha)
I hope Archer's story was able to touch your heart, because really touched mine. Thanks Nui, for sharing with us!

Monday, May 28, 2012


This is Taylor and his twin brother! As you can see, he loves him very much! I was lucky enough to get into contact with Taylor's mother, thanks to my wonderful sister. When I first arrived Taylor was really excited! I noticed that he automatically started signing to me, and once again, I was reminded that I need to learn ASL- haha.
When I was taking pictures, Taylor's Grandma asked him where he wanted to take pictures. He began dragging a chair over to his Grandpa's truck. HOW GENUINE DOES HE LOOK? He is truly happy. He really loves his Grandparents, and Grandpa's truck!
Taylor was really excited to spend the night at grandma's, and was almost too excited to take pictures! But when I asked him to smile, he was more than willing!
Im so glad that I got to meet this sweet young man,. His gentleness, and love for life and family reminded me of what is truly important in life. Sometimes we need to get off of the computer, turn off our phone, and bask in the joy and love that is all around us. Thanks for the reminder Taylor, you are truly an angel.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


The one thing I knew about MacKenzie, is that EVERYONE, knows and loves MacKenzie! I can see why too! She is such an amazing and beautiful person inside and out! We had so much fun taking pictures! I also had another photographer, Morgan Kirkham of Morgan Kirkham Photogrpahy, come add to the fun!

"I was born with a birth defect called Medial Cleft Syndrome. It's where I had a hole in my lip and no bone in my nose. The doctors told my parents that they didn't think I would make it through the night of my birth and that if I did make it, they wouldn't know what would be affected internally. Luckily, I haven't had any problems internally. Being born with this birth defect has come with many challenges. I've had so many surgeries that I've lost count. I faced a lot of scary situations as a kid by having to go back to the hospital knowing what they were going to do each time. I would always ask my mom "why can't it be Garrett or Katie that has to have surgery?" She would tell me every single time "because your brother and sister aren't as strong as you are."

My favorite saying would be, "After the trial, we will be blessed. But this life is the test." --Janice Kapp Perry
MacKenzie is such a light in a dark world. She is one of the most giving, and happy people I know. She loves working with children, and does a phenomenal job! She is attending ISU for cosmetology. I know that she will be able to make everyone as beautiful as her. If you dont know anything about MacKenzie, I can tell you that she is strong, beautiful, talented, and charitable person.

Friday, May 18, 2012


 Kali is so wonderful! She has that twinkle in her eye. Can you see it? She smiled really good for me, thanks to her awesome dad and siblings.
 First thing I noticed about Kali was her eyelashes. They are SO long! Basically, she has beautiful blue eyes! You cant see them fully when she smiles, but I didn't mind. Her smile shows love and joy.
Kali was an amazing soul to meet. Plus, she did AWESOME at getting her photos taken! =)

February 2012: Notes from my Journal

 Wow! Words cant even express the way I feel. I mean... I CAN FEEL! I dont feel numb anymore. I can feel my broken and tore heart, being mended by the hugs, comments, and smiles. I can truly feel the power and love of God when I am around them. Sometimes I sit at the computer editing the photos from that week, and I get emotional ( I CAN FEEL! YES!) because In front of me is a beautiful son or daughter of God. I am taking pictures of Angels.
 It got me thinking about life, and how we treat others. When I am around people with special needs I feel nothing but love from them. It reminds me of when I went to support Ben, at the special Olympics. Everyone was so happy for each other. The guy who came in second was SO happy for the guy who came in first...haha. They dont love you because of the car you have, the house you live in, how much money you make, or even how you look. They love you for you. They love you because you are a human being, and just like them, a child of God. Someone of worth, and divine potential.
This is why it kills me when I hear people making fun of, or treating these people like they are scum. They know they are different. They desperately want to be like the other kids, do what "normal" people do. However, I dont think its them that needs to become like us. It is us that needs to become like them. We need to become kind, loving, and a light to everyone we come into contact with. While we are sin ridden humans, they are angels. I honestly believe that. No, I know it. People with disabilities may not always act like angels, but they are.  I await for that day when I get to the other side, and see these people in their perfect form- flawless. To give them a another hug and thank them for what they have done for me, and the rest of the world. Thank them for putting up with us not knowing how to help, or what to say. Thank them for being so perfect, that they entered this world with a body/mind that society didn't see "normal". It is my passion and goal to make sure that people can see that love in their eyes, smiles, and hands.... Maybe not getting married was one of the best things that could of happened to me. God has prepared me at this time, and given me these talents to make a difference for his children. I needed to be broken, and lowly of heart, so I could fully invest myself. I dont ask God why anymore, I just ask him what I can do at his hand. This project has given me the chance so I could grow. Iv been given the gift. A chance to learn so much from these people, and in return, find who I really am. Find my divine potential... find who God created me to be, who I will become, and how to get there.  And I will. I will.

Emily: Little ray of sunshine

 When I told me sister about this project she automatically told me about Emily. She talked about how everyone loves her, and how she is just always smiling. Well. She was totally right! Emily is a ray of sunshine everywhere she goes! She was SO excited to get her hair done, and get dressed up in her prom dress/cheer uniform! She also wanted a picture with her dog, who she loves more than anything!
 Emily cheered on the bears when she attended high school. She made sure to show me some of her moves, and a couple of cheers. 
 Emily was so patient with me, and my technological difficulties. She gave me a big hug and called me one of her best friends. What an honor, to be friends among someone so great.