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Leo’s favorite thing in the entire world is CARS. He loves the Disney/Pixar movie (both 1 and 2). He also isn’t picky and loves anything that has to do with automobiles and racing that aren’t affiliated with Disney. Thanks to the fact that 1) You can still buy Matchbox cars for between 89 cents and a dollar these days and 2) his dad likes to collect the Disney cars just as much as Leo (There. I said it. My husband is just a great big kid.) Leo has a HUGE collection of “tiny cars” (as he calls them) and carries them around our house ALL. THE. TIME. He knows every single one by name and always has his hands full with at least two – most times more. He loves Lightning McQueen and Mater and Finn and Holly and Carla and Doc and The King and Chick Hicks and Leland and Nigel and Tomby and Trunkov and Sally and Miguel and Raul Cerul and Max and Lewis and and and (you name a car, Leo will know it and love it). When I asked him what he wanted his birthday cake to be, he excitedly exclaimed “A RACETRACK HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAKE!” And then he talked about it for WEEKS! I had never made a birthday cake before. (Other than your basic cake pan yellow cake with chocolate frosting.) How was I going to manage a racetrack cake? But thanks to google and Pinterest and my own 100 mile a minute brain, I was able to make it work. (At least I think it worked. I’m not a professional by any means. So all cake making professionals, look away now…) I won’t lie. Leo’s party was super fun for me to plan and bring to life. I made the Flo’s Cafe sign and all the little signs for the refreshments with chalk paper and chalk. The cake and cupcakes were fun to do (although I will warn you – black food coloring is a BEAST to work with – yikes! Lesson learned!) The bunting banner was pretty simple. I just got big felt pieces from JoAnn’s fabric store and cut them into triangles and then strung them onto grosgrains ribbon. I bought inexpensive stickers to put on the water bottles – a super easy solution for drinks for everyone – yet still festive and fun. Believe it or not, the candy was probably my biggest splurge for the entire party. Which is ironic, considering I don’t eat sugar (and haven’t for over six months now). I’m such a hypocrite. But it made the party so much cuter! The vintage gas station sign (number 3) was one of my favorite splurges as well. It just fit our theme of Cars (and Route 66 – and the color scheme) so well. We put on the movie Cars and watched it in our basement with some fun popcorn at the “Radiator Springs Drive-In Theater.” I think everyone who came had a fun time. But most importantly our little Leo had a blast and it just might be a birthday that he remembers. If not, at least he will have some beautiful pictures to look back on.
I hope you don’t mind me (Cristi) getting fairly personal here for a moment. But I believe strongly that this is a story that can touch us all. My college friends John and Mimi McDonald’s sweet little girl Mia was born with a heart defect and received a heart transplant when she was an infant. 4 years later, thanks to the miraculous gift of life and her donor, she was a vibrant, beautiful little girl. For her Make a Wish, she decided that she wanted to meet Minnie Mouse. So five days ago, their family (Mia, her mom and dad and her 3 siblings) flew to Florida to visit Disney World. But as soon as their plane landed, Mia was unexpectedly rushed to the hospital. Her little miraculous heart was in dreaded and shocking rejection. The doctors did a biopsy and while doing the procedure, something went wrong and Mia was put on heart and lung bypass machines to keep her alive, fighting for her life. Late Friday night, John and Mimi found out the agonizing news that their precious daughter’s brain function was gone and there was no hope or chance for her survival. Today, with her family gathered by her side, sweet Mia McDonald was taken off of the life support machines. Their sweet little family has now spent almost a week far away from home, loved ones, and their regular and familiar doctors. And their other kids, instead of going to Disney World have been in a hotel room and in a hospital, praying for and trying to understand what is going on with their sister, just wanting her to wake up. Those of us who know the family are in complete shock. A donation was set up to help with Mia’s medical expenses. Now that we know sweet Mia has joined her heart donor and returned to the arms of her Heavenly Father, the McDonald family is still going to need help with this great financial burden. Perhaps now even more than ever. Now they will have to not only pay for this hospital stay, but also cover the cost of a funeral and burial for their dear little Mia (in what is already a stressful and heartbreaking time). If you can give even just $1 or $5, that is wonderful. And please, even if you are not in a position to contribute financially, consider sharing their story with others. Every little donation and prayer will help. And I guarantee it will not go unnoticed.
I had the opportunity of photographing young up-and-coming musician/composer/arrranger Keley Barzeele last week. Not only is her music absolutely stunningly fantastic (it was an HONOR to have her play my piano!!), she is a natural behind the camera. (Seriously, you guys, as a photographer, there are those that you do photo shoots with that you’re like, “And why aren’t you a professional model? You’re so awesome behind the lens!” That was Keley!) Not only that, but she is incredibly humble as well. How’s THAT for a 1-2 punch? I know this girl is going places. I can’t wait for the world to hear her music. And I feel blessed to have been able to take a few images of her for her upcoming album cover. Here’s just a peek into her super fun (and might I add gorgeous) session.