Miss A ~*Sunshine Foundation*~ ~*Windsor Photographer*~

A few weeks back I was contacted by a public relations assistant for The Sunshine Foundation to see if I was interested in being part of the organization.  At the time, I have to admit, I actually did not know what this foundation was, so I started asking around.   I have come to learn all the amazing and great things this foundation has done (For me, it seems the easiest way to describe it is similiar to the Make A Wish foundation)
They asked if I was willing to donate my time to photograph a little girl and her family who were chosen for a Sunshine Wish.
When I met Miss A and her family- it left absolutely no doubt in my mind that I had made the right decision to connect with this foundation.  To say this was an incredible family is such a vast understatement that I feel that I couldn’t put into words their true nature.

Miss A was vibrant and sweet, and by God, she has the most beautiful smile.  It’s truly infectious.  We had a lot in common, Miss A loved being artistic- which is clearly right up my alley!   And I can only hope that as my daughters get older, they continue to love each other as deeply as these two sisters do.

I had such a blast, even if we had to battle the troops of mosquitoes who were determined to interfere with our session.  (Hey, I only came home with 19 bites on my upper legs, as counted by my daughter).  Hopefully the family was luckier than I was in the mosquito battle.

I truly wish this family the best, and I hope to see Miss A and her family again.

And I count myself lucky to have accepted this request to work with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada- it so far, has lead me to meeting a wonderful family and I look forward to more!

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Happy Easter! Hopping For Hospice

On April 5th I teamed up with Sweetheart Baby Boutique to do Easter photos with the Easter bunny.  I was able to set up a mini studio like scene at Maraget’s store, Sweetheart Baby Boutique and waited for the clients.

We weren’t entirely sure how it would all go or how busy we would be, but I will say we beat my internal goal and hopes for this event.   I was humbled to see so many that I knew come out to support this event, and ultimately, me.

I enjoyed extra snuggles with some really little babes and some super adorable children.

All the money we raised to be donated to Hospice of Windsor.  As some of you may know, my Grandfather passed away last week after his stay at Hospice.  We couldn’t have been more grateful to the amazing care at Hospice and I was incredibly happy to be able to make this event happen.  We were busy in our 3 hours and we raised $600 to donate to Hospice! Here are a few photos from the event. It’s not always easy setting up “studio” in a different location without the control of the lighting and environment.  I thought the kids did amazing and we had very few who were too afraid to be in a photo with him (Of course, mine were some of those few!)

I greatly appreciate all who came out to support this event, have their adorable little ones photographed with the Easter Bunny and shopped around at Sweetheart Baby Boutique.

If you haven’t been there, I urge you to check it out. Margaret has so many amazing products and her and Lisa are a wealth of knowledge and support to mothers.  They are located on Wyandotte near Pilette in Windsor, Ontario.

Here are just a few of the photos from that day 🙂   Thank You!!!!

#easterbunny #Easter #Charity #HospiceofWindsor #Bunnylove#windsorfamilyphotographer

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How can this not make someone smile?                                                                                                                     Two of my handsome nephews

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This was as close as this cutie was getting!                                                                                                                                Future BFF’s

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My oldest daughter, and even she didn’t want to get too close!

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My triplet nieces and nephew- haven’t they gotten so big!!!!                                                                                                  My future nieces and my future _____??? My sister and sister in law 🙂

The Power of Love

As some as you may know, my dear Grandpa passed away on Thursday March 27th at 1:15am with his family by his side at Hospice of Windsor.  It has been a long, winding, crazy up and down journey.

Back in his working years, my Grandpa was a truck driver.  When he retired in the early 90’s he and his brother decided to move to Florida.  It was exciting and sad for us.  But luckily, we made many amazing trips to Florida over the years and he came home often.  He never thought twice about the long drive, it was second nature to him.

My Grandpa’s health certainly hasn’t been a straight line.  But he was like a cat, only better, as he had multiple lives.  More than 9 it seemed.  And he is a stubborn old mule and a fighter like no other.

About 6 years ago he had to undergo a major surgery to have his bladder, a kidney and his abdominal lymph nodes removed.  During his recovery, he did have a few set backs which landed him in the hospital at Detroit Receiving. (If you’ve never experienced American hospital care, it’s incredible. I understand that for our neighbouring country they have to pay for their health care in a different way than we do, but their services and facilities certainly surpass ours.)  I can remember visiting him with my oldest daughter, when she was about 8 or so months old. She was sitting on his lap and he was enjoying her company.

Over the years, my Grandpa has had so many strokes it became impossible to keep track of just how many.  Each time it only took a “short while” before he seemed to recover and be back to his normal self.  Luckily, he lived across the street from my parents and they have been his watchful caregivers over these  years.  He was placed on blood thinning medication.
**As a welcomed side effect from one of his  first strokes, he “lost” his addiction to cigarettes. He never wanted or felt the urge to smoke another one in his life.  I actual read  a study a few years back that followed those who had suffered a stroke and their behaviour afterwards.  It showed that, I think, 80% of stroke sufferers lost their addiction to cigarettes which lead them to believe that strokes often affect the “addiction center” of the brain.  I guess if there is an upside to strokes, that is it.

During the last 6 years he required regular blood checking and frequent blood transfusions.   Even though he was on blood thinners, he still would form clots.  In his case, one of the biggest issues this caused was with regards to his legs.  He on many occasions completely lost the flow to his legs and had no pulses in his legs.  It required him to have surgery (at least twice, perhaps three times) to place a bypass in his groin region to allow blood flow to each leg.  It would become painful and sore when he was having issues.  It also meant many stays in the ICU.

I think we should actually have our very own named parking spot at the hospital for all the time we have spent there over the years, and perhaps they should have just had a bed with his name on it.  But no matter what it was, he always pulled through and continued on.

In January 2013 my Grandpa began having internal bleeding.  The doctors needed to take him off his blood thinners or he would continue to “bleed out”.  After a discussion with my parents and Grandpa the decision was made that they would stop the medication.  They discussed in great detail that the likelihood that he would throw a major clot was very high and they didn’t expect him to be able to survive such. They thought this would happen within a matter of days or weeks.  That was fourteen months ago. FOURTEEN.

He had a few falls in recent time that also required yet more trips to the ER.  In January 2014 he had a big fall (as that stubborn old man just wouldn’t listen and kept trying to get around his place without his walker) which the doctors did testing and CT scans to ensure all was well.  In February 2014 he didn’t seem like he was doing very well and another trip to the hospital it was.  Only this time the CT scan showed two large masses in his brain that were not there just the month previous.   They also noted a questionable lesion in his lungs, albeit very small, but still questionable.  They began to talk about what the future would bring.  Biopsy was not an option, as surgery was not an option.  Why bother putting him through that when we cannot do anything about it? Let him rest as comfortably as he can.

On February 28th my little sister got married and unfortunately my Grandpa was not well enough to come to the wedding. So we decided to bring some of the wedding to him.  After our formal portraits we stopped at the hospital where my family went inside to meet him.  The nurses had dressed him and brought him to the cafeteria (where there is this beautiful mural).  My sisters wedding photographer, Jill of Real Image Photography, captured more than we could ever have asked for.  We were not only lucky to have her as the wedding photographer, but I am blessed to call her one of my dear friends.  Some of the wedding party also had hired a videographer as a gift to my sister and her groom and they also were there capturing these sweet moments between my Grandpa and his family.  We will forever be grateful for these amazing memories.

When his time at the hospital was drawing to an end, meaning the hospital could not longer keep him there, the discussion of Hospice was brought up.  And luckily, a room became available around this same time.

My Grandpa is my third family member to have a stay at Hospice.  My Grandma was one of the first when it opened in 2007, my Aunt just this past fall 2013 and then Grandpa.  If you have never been there, it is hands down the most lovely place for an ailing loved one.  It has all the comforts of home with care of angels.   The staff who work there may not fully realize that they are truly angels.   To care for others with the most love and compassion I have ever seen from health care workers, it’s breathtaking.

We spent many many hours with him, as much as possible, over these last few weeks. My daughters loved going to see Great Grandpa.  And he loved seeing them.  His eyes would light up like no other when they walked in the room.

Over the years we have so many amazing memories- most of them during road trips to see Grandpa in Florida.  My Grandpa had many funny quirks.  Like he would always show up, unannounced, in Windsor at various times throughout the year.  He would stay for a week or two or three, and then he would leave. Just as unannounced as he came.  Often we had to call him to see where he was at and we would hear “I’m on my way home”.  I think us grandchildren thought it was much funnier than my mom and dad did!  There was a time where I didn’t think it was so funny, although amusing.  I got married on September 9 2006.  My Grandpa was to walk me down the aisle with my dad.  About 3 days before the wedding he actually (shockingly) announced he would be leaving to go home. I said Grandpa, you’re walking me down the aisle! Don’t you dare think you’re leaving.   To which he replied “Oh yeah, ok then”.  He wasn’t malicious, he was just funny.

He also could be quite embarrassing to a young teen or preteen granddaughter.  My grandpa never buttoned his shirts up.  Ok, like the top 3, sometimes 4 buttons were always undone.  Usually one or two of the last buttons were done up.  And if we were  out at the mall and we expressed our disdain for his lack of cover up, his response would be to open his shirt further and say “What? You don’t like my tan?”.  And that tan.  The sun was his BFF.  He loved it.  He loved the heat and he would relax in the sun every chance he got.  He was always so dark, even in the last 6 years of living back in Canada.  The last couple months was probably the “whitest” I can ever remember my Grandpa being!

He also loved the ladies.  Every time the question of “Can I help you?” “What can I get for you” would arise, his answer was always the same “A hug and a kiss and all that good stuff”.  Boy oh boy! And he often got it! He certainly was never that “creepy old man”, but that sweet old man that everyone fell in love with.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can remember plenty of “disagreements” with the old man.  He loved to argue.  And he was never one to give up.  Hmmm, sounds familiar, I can’t imagine where I got this from, right dad?  I remember when I was about 13 years old, we were spending time in Florida and I saw this “giant bug” (I mean like palm sized” run by me at the house.  I screamed as loud as I could.  Everyone came running. I started to describe it and my dad said “Oh, it was probably a cockroach” *faint*  Well my dear Grandpa replies “No way. There are no cockroaches here.  Nope. None. No way”  “Dad, it’s ok, it was probably a cockroach” “I said NO way.  It was an ant.”  Ummmm…..Grandpa, unless there are these crazy palm sized Floridian ants that we’ve never heard of, I don’t think so.  “Yes it was. End of story”.  And that was that.

On Sunday March 23rd I was allowed to bring my dog Titan into Hospice to visit Grandpa.  He LOVED dogs.  When I walked in with him, he lit up.  Apparently he hadn’t been having the best of days that day, but he perked right up when Titan was there.  Now my dog doesn’t get many treats and he is not allowed on the furniture, so when he got up on the bed with my Grandpa and was being given treat after treat, I don’t know who was having a better time! Titan or my Grandpa.
I was happy that I photographed this beautiful interaction between them.  Never underestimate the power of Love between humans and animals.  My Grandpa never stopped petting him, even when they both had fallen asleep.  If I could have left Titan there with him, I would have.

Over the next few days as my Grandpa’s ability to communicate with us began to decline, we spent those moments talking to him and telling him what was going on.  On the night before he passed, he was no longer concious, however he did send us as many signs that he could that he could still hear us.  He turned his face towards me when I spoke and when my girls spoke.  His eyebrows moved up and down in a manner we knew he was laughing when we asked if he paid his bet debt to my dad over his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs recent loss. And when we spoke about the grandchildren, especially the new ones on their way soon, he smirked. Twice.

We held his hand and stroked his head.  We snuggled with him.  We loved him deeply and as best we could.

And in the end, when his breathing slowed and ceased to continue, our emotional pain may have grown, but his physical pain disappeared.  He was at peace. He was no longer in pain.

And we, my parents, brother and sister sat around talking about memories, crying, hugging, holding each other.  Up until that point, I had cried a bit, but not really let go. I had thought that I might be the strong one for my dad and my brother but that was not meant to be.  I cried harder than I can remember in recent times. Although I knew “it was coming”, I still had thoughts that just like every time before; when doctors told us to prepare for his “imminent death” that he would recover and laugh in the face of his mortality.

I’ve never been able to understand those who stayed and held and kissed ones that had passed.  Until now.  I could not let him go.  I refused to leave the room and leave him behind and so we stayed until he was taken.  I held his hand, and rubbed his arm and spoke to him.  I fell asleep with my head laying beside him and his arm in mine.

And then we said our final goodbyes and walked slowly out behind him as he was brought away to the funeral home.  We hugged his nurses and cried more tears.

Why am I telling you all of this? To show you what a fighter he was. How stubborn he was.  How amazing he was.  And for me, healing means sharing.  Sharing his memory, his life.

I promise my girls will always know their Great Grandpa.

Next week, on Saturday April 5th I will be teaming up with Sweetheart Baby Boutique and taking Easter photographs.  We will have an Easter like set up and the Easter Bunny will be there!  Photos will be $10 and each client will receive their image digitally by email.  All the money raised will be donated directly to the Hospice of Windsor.  It will be at Sweetheart Baby Boutique on Wyandotte near Pilette between 11am-2pm.

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Photo credit:  Real Image Photography – Jill Wilhelm

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Photo credit:  Real Image Photography – Jill Wilhelm

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*~Zeus~* The World’s Tallest Dog

Recently over the weekend a fundraiser was held called “WOOFA ROO”.  It was an amazing event full of information, fun, entertainment and excitement.  The money raised went to animal charities such as The Windsor Essex County Humane Society.
I was honoured that I was asked to be part of this event and excited to be able to meet Zeus.  For those of you who don’t know, I am a full time working Registered Veterinary Technician.  So to be photographing, at an event geared towards animals, well that’s just like a big chocolate cake and tall glass of milk- awesome!
Zeus’ family is from Michigan, about 3 hours away from Windsor.  The event co-ordinator contacted them and asked if they would like to be part of this event and help raise money for the charities.  They accepted and on their way to Windsor they came.   The idea was that attendees could pay to have their photo taken with Zeus with 100% of the money going directly to the Humane Society (meaning neither I, nor the family received any portion of this money or any monies at all).  This was 100% donated services and time.  Before I met the family, I was already told how awesome they were.  However, that still didn’t “prepare” me for just how amazing they were.  Mother, Father, Daughter & Son came along with Zeus.  And I fell in love instantly.
Now, like I said, I am a Registered Vet Tech (RVT) and I have been working at my clinic for 11 years.  Nothing in my 11 years prepared me for what I was going to see when I saw Zeus- when I say he is the Worlds Tallest Dog, he truly is (really, he’s in the Guinness Book!)   And you think you’ve seen big dogs, until you’ve seen Zeus!  There were so many other Great Dane’s in attendance, even some Irish Wolfhounds and they all looked huge.  Until Zeus walked up.

So of course I need to address something that became an issue when Zeus was “crowned”  (World’s Tallest Dog last year)  by those around who took it upon themselves to make ignorant comments based upon zero knowledge and credentials.  His size.  He is huge.  But he is lean.  And in a world’ where obesity is an epidemic, not only among humans but animals too, we have become all too comfortable with seeing overweight pets.  In fact, when a dog that is considered a great body condition score, they are looked upon as “too skinny” or “malnourished”, when in fact, they are perfect.  It pains me when I hear about people “bragging” about how fat their dog or cat is or when the “fattest cat” is highlighted on a news report.  All dogs, but especially giant breeds should be kept at a normal body condition and weight for their health.  Giant breeds, such as Great Danes are at a higher risk of joint, spine and hip issues as they get older and any extra weight will only serve to exacerbate this problem.

Zeus is incredibly lucky to be part of this family.  He has the best veterinary care and is on an a very high quality diet (which I was very happy and impressed to hear).  Aside from his wonderful veterinary care and nutrition, he is the utmost loving family.

Zeus’ photoshoots were 1 hour each, twice each day (for a total of 4 hours).  When he needed a break, he took one.  When he needed a drink, he took one. And in between he slept like a baby.  Our number one concern was that Zeus remained comfortable and happy throughout the entire day.  And we completely succeeded.  My other concern was that I might have to turn lots of people away due to time constraints for the photos.  I am so pleased to say that this did not need to happen!  I shot just over 200 families/portraits during that 4 hours. (which is just over 1 minute on average per photo)  And we raised over $2000 for the Humane Society!!! How amazing is that!?!?

And I can assure you, this is not a post that is up for debate nor will I tolerate any ill-comments.  Thank you!!! Clarissa-Marie-Photography-Andrea-Broughton-copy Clarissa-Marie-Photography-Diane-Bevan-copy Clarissa-Marie-Photography-Donna-Hicks-copy Clarissa-Marie-Photography-Mary-Serdachny-copy

My parents, my father is also 6’4″!!!!!

 

 

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My oldest daughter, who is almost 6, reaching up to touch Zeus on his back!!                                                        Zeus’ dad was kind enough to take this photo of myself, my husband, oldest daughter and our Shep/Husky

Heartbreaker Challenge

As some of you may know, as a “day profession” I am a registered veterinary technician and work at South Windsor Animal Hospital (www.southwindsoranimalhospital.ca)   We are a close knit group of co-workers and thoroughly enjoy taking part in various charity & fundraising events.  This year, some of my co-workers decided to take on the task of running in the Heartbreaker Challenge at Malden Park.  This event was put on my Windsor Regional Hospital and raised money for the Cardiac Wellness Centre and Pulmonary Rehab Program.  If any of you are familiar with obstacle events such as Tough Mudder, this was formed to be similar.  Participants had 15 obstacles throughout the race to overcome.   From giant mud pits to crawl through, muddy water ditches to trudge through (some areas the water was waist high!), walls to climb, tires to carry and more.  While I did not actively participate in the event, I went to photograph my co-workers (including my boss) and show my support (although I did not realize I would walk the length of the park 4 times and be up and down hills while following them- boy was I sore the next day!!)
I hope you enjoy some of my favourites!

Way to go everyone who participated in this awesome event!!!

 

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