Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What it's like to be followed by the Paparazzi:

Our family was given a cool opportunity the last few weekends. A friend's daughter asked us to be a subject for her photography/journalism class, that she takes in college. She came to our house the last few weekends and was kind of like a "fly on the wall." She took pictures of our family as we did our normal weekend activities.

She took tons of pictures and then had to choose a few of them to add to her project. The project was to tell a story in just 6-7 pictures, with a caption underneath each picture.

Here is her finished product, which she named:

"More Happiness"

Gavin Vander Wall, 3, of Byron Center, was born with Down syndrome and severe heart defects. Gavin spent most of his first year in and out of hospitals for five heart surgeries. In April of 2007, Gavin suffered a stroke that left him unable to talk, walk, and hold his head up on his own. His mother, Alicia Vander Wall, 38, has kept a blog as a both way of giving Gavin a voice in the world and to show her readers the joy, even through the struggles, that a boy with Down syndrome brings.

Gavin Vander Wall, 3, of Byron Center, sits in a special chair, similar to a car seat, to keep his head up on April 10, 2010. Alicia Vander Wall, 38, calls Gavin the “greatest gift ever given to me!” in April 23, 2010 blog entry

Gavin and Alicia Vander Wall play while his mom goes through his daily treatments on Saturday, April 10, 2010 . Gavin has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, or COPD, which causes his lungs to make extra mucus. Alicia Vander Wall uses this suction cup to break up the mucus that collects in his lungs to make it easier for him to breathe.

Nolan Vander Wall, 10, and Jacob Vander Wall, 14, play with Gavin on April 24, 2010. On June 18, 2009, Alicia Vander Wall wrote, “I love that our older boys love Gavin! It makes me so happy to see them WANT to be with him and WANT to play with him! They truly enjoy having him as their brother, even though he can't do a whole lot or get up and play with them.”

Alicia Vander Wall, 38, and Gavin Vander Wall, 3, of Byron Center, watch son and brother Caleb Vander Wall, 7, of Byron Center, play one of his first little league games of the season at Cutler Park on April 17, 2010. Despite the gloomy sky and chilly wind, Gavin grins as he and his mom cheer on Caleb.

Alicia Vander Wall, 38, of Byron Center, helps Gavin Vander Wall, 3, of Byron Center, keep his head up while he is stretched into a standing position on April 10, 2010. This device, called a Squiggles Stander, holds Gavin in a standing position so that his hip and leg bones receive the proper pressure they need in order to grow strong.

(From left to right) Nolan Vander Wall, 10, Joel Vander Wall, 38, Gavin Vander Wall, 3, Alicia Vander Wall, 38, Caleb Vander Wall, 7, and Jacob Vander Wall, 14, of Byron Center, pose for a family picture inside their home on April 24, 2010. Both the joys and the struggles of raising Gavin have brought them closer as a family.

Alicia Vander Wall, 38, and Gavin Vander Wall, 3, of Byron Center, share a moment together on April 10, 2010. Despite Gavin’s numerous medical obstacles, Alicia writes on February 25, 2010, “Gavin has brought me more happiness than anything else on earth possibly could! I can't even express the joy that he brings me each and every day! Joy that comes just by looking at him and seeing the good that radiates from him! God knew that I needed this special boy in my life!”

Alicia Vander Wall's blog, Gavin's Voice, is found here:

By: Katie Selden

I think she did a fabulous job! She thanked us for helping her, but we are the ones who benefited from helping her out! She took some great pictures and she is giving us a copy of them on a CD. So, we actually got a free personal photographer for 3 weekends in a row!

Thanks SO MUCH Katie! You did a great job! You will make a WONDERFUL photographer some day!

Katie actually does photo shoots now. She is great at what she does, so if you live in the G.R. area and are looking for someone to take some pictures of your family, let me know and I will give her a call!


You can visit her Photography Facebook page here and check her work out for yourself!

While you are on her Facebook page, Vote for Gavin!

She is having a contest right now and the winner gets a photo session with her. Go to her "fan photo" section to vote! All you have to do is become a fan of her Facebook Photography site. You can also upload a picture of your own child (10 and younger), if you are interested in winning as well! You have to have the photo session done in this area, if you win.

Anyway, Check her out!

"I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed." Psalm 34:4-5


Alicia said...

Awesome! What an amazing experience that must have been, on both sides! Katie did a great job and those pictures are fabulous. I must say, I loved being able to see more of you, Alicia!

Have a great day!

ANewKindOfPerfect said...

How great! I love the photos, we rarely see YOU, mama. :)

Annie said...

Thanks so much, Alicia, for opening your home and family to Katie. It probably wasn't entirely comfortable having a "fly on the wall" there. It was a great experience for her. Thanks again!

The Myers said...

That is awesome to be able to have privilege like that. They are awesome pictures.

Lacey said...

Oh those pics are fantastic. I'll have to show my hubby, he is finishing up his photography project this week for finals and he is doing it on DS kids. Calling it the upside of Downs!

Debbie said...

What a neat experience...seems both sides gained a lot!

Fun to see you with Gavin...
I especially loved the last close-up, snuggly-kissy picture!


Amy said...

These pictures just made me cry! Especially the one of the whole family. I am in awe of the love you all share and the happiness and respect those boys have for their baby brother. *SNIFF*

Great job, Katie! I LOVE these pictures!

Becky said...

Such beautiful pictures! WOW! I love that Gavin is SO happy in every single one. He is so lucky to have your that brings HIM so much joy. Beautiful.

April said...

Oh those pictures are just priceless. Gavin's grin is a peek into heaven, isn't it? What a beautiful family you have!

Stephanie said...

I'm in tears!!! The big ones that slowly roll down your cheeks.


Jenkins said...

Love, love that photos...nice to see you and all the gang! Of course Gavin is ADORABLE! He has one of the sweetest faces ever!

I love, love, love photos. I would love to have my own photograher following me around, it is great to capture the everyday moments. I would also love a house keeper, personal chef and personal driver...

Kristen's mom said...

Happy Mother's Day to a beautiful mom doing an amazing job!