Baby Aliza

March 9th, 2019

I know this wonderful family for years and Mariam is just one of 6 kids and I remember her as a little girl and now she’s all grown with a beautiful daughter of her own and I was honoured when she asked me to do a photo shoot of her precious newborn.

Baby Aliza is only 3 weeks old but she’s already alert and ready to go. She’s usually a sleeper but she wanted to see what was going on when I came by to photograph her so we didn’t get many sleepy shots, but her eyes are so big and beautiful that you can’t help but stare into those big beautiful brown eyes of her in every shot. She is so adorable and both mom and grandma love taking care of her and she has become their little princess.

Thank you Mariam for allowing me into your home and your lives and for asking me to photograph your precious little girl. It was a pleasure spending a few hours with you all and getting to know your little girl a bit. She has a strong personality already and I look forward to seeing her grow up.

I couldn’t help but turn her into an angel for a few shots.
 

Just a glimpse….

October 1st, 2018

 

A glimpse of what a life is like with an autistic child…… I’m just venting here, not really thinking anyone will read this, but I just felt I had to put my personal thoughts on paper, it feels better to write things down sometimes. I am only describing how I feel, and what I think others may feel too. Some of it is down right raw, please look past the judgement and maybe try to understand, if everyone was more understanding rather than judgemental we would be living in a much nicer world.

Not sure if its the cold wind in the air and because its a gloomy day but its just one of those days that makes you want to weep. Everything and everyone gets you down and you can’t stop the negative thoughts that come to mind and you just sit and wallow in your sorrow. I have so much to be grateful for and yet I can’t help but think well it could be better. I try to tell myself that it could be worse, way worse, but its hard to overcome the negativity with the positive. It’s a daily struggle to keep positive and to not worry about the future. I worry about the boys, but those seem like normal worries but when I worry about Elizabeth, it takes on a life of its own. She’s doing well, speaking somewhat now, not really conversing but we communicate.  We celebrate the little things, one word, a smile, a song she might sing, a sentence she might say, sharing a toy or a snack, making a spontaneous comment out of the blue. It seemed like I waited forever until she  finally learned to say “mommy” or “I love you mommy” and now I feel so thankful and excited each and every time she says it,  but for every little joy and accomplishment, like having her say cheese when I take a pic and actually smiling, there are many more worries that are overwhelming and loom over us like a bad cloud ready to pour down rain and the fear of it never ending. Its just hard, everyday is hard, always dealing with one type of problem or another. Getting and keeping the clothes on, brushing hair or teeth, sensory problems, does certain clothing itch or not feel comfortable and how do you know if they aren’t verbal. Do lights and sounds bother them, as usually it does in varying degrees. There is so much to learn about a child with autism as they have many issues they have to deal with on a daily basis. My worse fears are when we go out, and boy am I scared of taking her out, for so many reasons. I’m scared she will run off and I won’t be able to catch her, I’m scared she’ll get into someone’s face that won’t understand, I’m scared the kids will reject her, or not understand why she doesn’t always respond when being spoken too. I worry that they will classify her as weird or not normal if they see her sing to herself, or make loud noises, or cover her ears. I’m scared to take her to friends’ houses as I don’t know if they will understand and its not a fun time for me, as I’m constantly looking at her, making sure she doesn’t break something in their house, or try to climb somewhere she’s not suppose too, or if she’s not playing or sharing with her playdate, or if she’ll find a way to get out of the house, or heck maybe forget where the bathroom is and pee and poop on the floor. Only to be scared that we will never be invited back. I’m scared people will think we aren’t good parents for they may disagree with the way we do things with her. We have lost friends since her diagnosis and I don’t know if its because of her and her autism, or is it us, but it hurts either way. I’m scared of her future and what will happen if her dad and I aren’t around, will her brother’s take care of her? I’m hoping she will be independent but we won’t know that for years to come still. She has no friends and I think she could be a great friend, but she will need a friend that will be really understanding and patient and will put up with alot unknowns and different behaviour, or rather not familiar behaviour. I fear highschool, even grade school, she’s only in grade one but eventually a mean kid will say something to her and it breaks my heart to think of what she is going to go through. I can’t always be there, and if and when someone hurts her, it will kill me that I can’t fix it for her, that I can’t hurt the person that hurt her, even though I believe in what goes around comes around, but when it comes to my child, all bets are off, and if I find out someone is hurting her, God help them.  She will have so many obstacles to climb and crawl through and jump over. I want to protect her, but its hard, I got to let her be a child and to do things, but its different, I wasn’t so afraid of letting go with the boys as I am with her, I just fear what she might do or get into. I have to watch her as I fear for her life, parents of autistic children have to think of the unthinkable as we have to cover all our basis, so when we think what if she gets lost, will she be able to communicate with someone or will she even be found, and that’s when we get id bracelets and tracking devices, all of which we have tried but she broke the gps watch, and won’t wear her id bracelet, so I feel like I can’t ever take my eyes off her. I go to the playground, or just see kids all around and I envy the simple life they get to lead and how my child won’t have a life like that. My heart breaks everyday for her, every time I take her to get on teh school bus and she needs a harness while the other kids get on without one, or how I have to explain to the driver that she may take off some of her clothes or to not give her her back pack because she will get in it and eat everything in her lunch box all at once and make a mess in teh process. I have to explain to everyone that we meet that she is different and to expect the unexpected and I can only hope they don’t hold it against her or me for that matter. Sometimes I feel like I’m not taking her out enough or doing enough things with her, but the thought scares me so much and all the possibilities of what may happen often cause me so much anxiety that I don’t go. I feel like I’m keeping her in a jail at times. I get tired explaining a thousand times to her about different things, when another child would have understand after the 100th time they were told. Don’t touch teh stove takes on a whole new meaning with an autistic child because all it takes is one time for them to touch it and then you are dealing with a hurt autistic child that won’t let you care to their wound and are freaking out and crying in pain, and then what do you do? I dread thinking that if my little girl ever breaks her leg or needs stitches, I have no clue how she will deal with nurses and hospitals and needles and the pain. I have seen how she acts to mosquitoes bites and bruises, she is more apt to play with them and scratch at them and make them worse and not leave them alone, so hurting herself is a constant fear I have for her.  I want to sit and watch a movie with her, but she won’t sit for more than 5-10 mins and she’s up and running around and most likely wants to do something else, as nothing can contain her attention for long periods of time. She won’t let me brush her hair, and its so hard, and I wanted a girl for so long and now I have one and everyone tells me to cut her hair, but I don’t want too, I wanted a girl with long hair so I could do the things to her hair that my mom did to me, but she won’t let me touch it and if more than one day goes by where I haven’t brushed it the knots in the back of her neck get so bad and it makes it harder and hurts her more to brush, its a vicious cycle.  She is so sweet and so loving but so much work, and I fall to bed exhausted every night. I just want a break, a lunch date with a friend, go out to see a movie, a date with dad or with one of the kiddos or my mom. No one other than another mom of a disabled child understands what we go through in a day. We run a marathon each and every day essentially, and especially if we have more than one child. EAch autistic child has their own problems, many have similar issues and many have other issues, its true when they say you have met one person with autism then you have met ONE person with autism, not two are alike. What my daughter deals with is different than what my neighbour with their son deal with but we do have similarities of course. Not only do we have to feed them and clean and bath and dress them but some smear their poop, some hit their heads on the wall or some sway back and forth, some speak, some don’t, they all have different issues with lights and sounds and forget about sensory, I have heard it say that a turtle neck can feel like the child is being strangled, or a sweater can be so itchy or a 3/4 sleeve can drive an autistic person bonkers, so you have to figure out all these things. Many have digestive problems, and eating habits are poor, Elizabeth won’t eat meat or veggies or fruits, maybe apples and bananas sometimes, and she used to eat watermelon but not anymore. We did the gluten free and dairy free diet, didn’t work. You try almost anything to help your child. You take them to many different doctors about so many issues, and then to therapists to try to help me speak and learn and develop and then continue that at home, so you are a mom but have to become their teacher and their advocate and you learn to fight for them, to go to the higher ups to get things done for your child’s sake, to fight the educational system and demand an EA in the class simply because you fear they may run and they need more attention, so smaller ratios to children and teachers in class. You have to fight the government as they are not doing enough, children need to be assessed at an earlier age, and get more help, therapeutic help, the earlier the better. We need more centres for autism. More therapists to help our children, because if our children are helped at an early age, their progression is so much quicker and they learn so much more and have so much potential in the future. Our daughter almost missed out on pivotal therapy all because of her age. They had capped it so that you couldn’t get this early childhood therapy unless you were under the age of 5, do you know when we finally got the word that she was accepted into one of these programs? Right after her 4th birthday and I thank God she got in when she did, as she did 2 years of 1:1 ABA therapy and it helped her so much. If she was 5, she wouldn’t have been offered that placement, and why, because of her age, AUTISM doesn’t stop at age 5!!!!! Don’t get me started. I went and protested and wrote letters and petitions and joined groups and went to rally’s all for the sake of our children and getting them the therapy they needed. It’s crazy what us parents of autistic children have to go through to get help for our kids. Parents need money, aba is not cheap, its about $50,000 a year but of course we have our government we just have to get on a waiting list and wait our turn because their are not enough therapists, enough centres to take care of all these kids. If we have money for infrastructure or immigrants, then we should have money for OUR children, they will run the future, they will vote and they are the ones you need to worry about and help and protect and provide every measure of assistance possible, I’m talking to the politicians here because in the end these children will become adults and they will vote, and most likely not for the ones that didn’t help them when they were young. Between dr’s appt’s and therapists and writing political leaders and educational superintendents to just making sure they are in your constant eye sight, or not too far, as many know, you turn your back, and all heck can break loose. My daughter would destroy furniture, the walls, computers, ipads, tv’s, vcr’s, just about everything in one way or another. Throwing it down, pouring liquids over things, playing with the toilet water, or cracking eggs into dinner that was just made,or pouring flour all over the flour, the mess just never ends. You basically need to be a wife, mother, teacher, nurse, therapist, maid, friend, and everything in between when raising an autistic child. We essentially run on empty, on fumes by the end of the day and we have many down days, many days when we get overwhelmed and feel like we are going to lose it.  A lot of us even think of the worse at really low points and on days where we do everything and its not enough, and our child is hitting us, or hitting themselves, or crying uncontrollably or breaking and making messes all over, that their lives would be better without us (its just the frustration talking) because we know that WE, their moms are the only ones that truly know how to deal with them and if we weren’t here we fear what will happen to our precious children, so that usually snaps us out of black haze, the stupid thoughts that occasionally creep into your mind and you are so tired and overwhelmed and you think you just can’t take anymore….and Yes, daddy’s can feel the same way, daddy’s help, they are there and they try,  but there is no bond like a mother’s and when you spend 24/7 with a special needs child, you learn everything about them and every way to calm them down, to make them happy, to help them when they are upset or angry, and even then, it doesn’t always work so you improvise and pray to God that it works, it becomes a lot to deal with. I know a few mom’s with autistic sons who are violent and I know how hard it is with Elizabeth and she’s not violent, so I can only imagine dealing with what you have and adding violent outbursts to that. I just don’t know how some do it. Their autistic children who won’t sleep, they won’t sleep!!! I mean some sleep for an hour or two, how can a parent function while staying up watching your child and getting up for work the next day, or even staying home with the child, its crazy. Some hit themselves over and over and they need to wear helmets, some break walls with their heads, some hurt the parents that love them so, and not because they want too, its that they don’t know how to express what they are feeling. They have so many things going on at once, its hard to focus, and therefore must be so frustrating. When a child is on the floor in the mall, its not because they aren’t getting what they want, its because they can’t express what they are feeling at the moment and its all too much and may need some time to calm down. Some need hours to calm down, others need minutes and maybe a good strong hug for a while. I remember leaving the aquarium with Elizabeth last year, she loved it so much, didn’t want to leave, and she just got overwhelmed and started screaming and laying on the floor and my hubby had to physically carry her to the car. I felt like people were watching us, maybe even video taping us thinking what bad parents we were, but at that moment, we had tried everything we knew to make Elizabeth understand that it was time to leave. I didn’t give her a warning and that may have been enough to set her off, as they usually like routines and need to know when something will finish ahead of time so they can prepare. Now I tell her all the time, Elizabeth you have 5 minutes until bedtime, or 5 minutes until we have to go, she may protest, but she knows its coming so she is prepared. I guess I’m writing this because I’m tired. So tired, and I just feel for the moms that deal with this daily and no one knows what we go through on a daily basis. So here is just a little bit of what goes on in our lives, and trust me that there is so much more I could say and I’m just scratching the surface, and I can’t stress it enough, if you know any moms with a disabled child, please reach out to them, they most likely won’t reach out to you, we will think you probably want nothing to do with us anymore, and may think you are mad at us even, we won’t want to bother you, so please pick up the phone and call them, talk to them, take them out for lunch, or to go shopping, to see a movie, somewhere before they go nuts!! I read that mother’s of autistic children usually get PTSD, like soldiers in the war do, because we are constantly fighting battles that we do not know how to win. We have to learn a different language as autistic children think and process information differently and they get very upset when they don’t feel like they are heard or understood and many of them don’t have the capability to communicate verbally so its a struggle to figure out your child’s needs adn wants and it usually takes years of studying them to figure things out. We feel alone and lost and isolated, we don’t want to ask for help and we don’t want to bother other people, but we don’t know what to do and are often depressed and emotionally distraught. This is where a good friend can help. Seriously, a good friend is the best medicine, just a shoulder to lean on, to laugh with, to vent too. Bring them a meal, or wine,  or if you are really adventurous offer to babysit, they probably won’t let you anyways, but its the thought that counts. One simple nice gesture can do so much for a mom who is having a hard time, I think we all go through hard times, even when we don’t have disabled children, but think of the moms that have disabled children and how much MORE they have to deal with and what it would be like if you were going through that and how much you would love for a friend to reach out to you. OH… and please try to teach your kids about being nice to other disabled kids too, if everyone was nice, I don’t think moms would worry so much about their kiddos when they were playing at the playground. We don’t want your sympathy, we just really want your understanding, and maybe your time for a cup of coffee, or even a lunch. You have no idea how much your friendship means to us, the worse thing you can do is ignore us or stop talking to us altogether as it can be a lonely world and often a kind word, a simple gesture from a good friend means the world to us and is enough to bring us out of that funk that comes over us sometimes.

 

 

 

 

My day with Sue Simmons

September 9th, 2018

Had a wonderful day up north with Sue, she is the creator of Lemons to Lemonade, a guide on how to better interact and teach your child, and she is the owner of Equinox Family Consulting. She has a wealth of knowledge and information and helped me out incredibly with her course. I learned so much and I have a new way of interacting with my children and approaching problems in a different way which helps both the child and the parent. I met a few wonderful moms during her course and we laughed and cried and shared our stories and learned so much from Sue. I can’t thank her enough for sharing her techniques and helping us each to build better relationships with our kiddos.

I was thrilled to do a session with her and even took a few images of her daughter, and we had so much fun trying to run from the mosquitoes, but we picked an awesome location and enjoyed our time together. Here are just a few images from our session.

to share one of her beautiful daughter too.
 

Princess C – Newborn Photography – MPH Photography

December 4th, 2016

I had the pleasure of photographing this sweet couple’s 2nd baby girl the other day, I photographed her big sister a couple of years ago http://mphphotography.net/blog/2014/09/little-miss-t-9-days-old-newborn-session-mph-photography-toronto/ and it was an honour they called me again to photograph their 2nd baby.

Little Miss C was so adorable and so sweet, that newborn smell, those tiny little toes and cute little lips, I almost just wanted to hold her the whole time rather than photograph her. Time goes by so fast, and they are this small just for a little while, so you need to enjoy them at this age, as they will never be that small ever again. Photographing them at this age is the best thing as you will always have images to remember them back when they fit into your arms. She did so well and barely fussed at all and it was actually harder to get her older sister to want to take a picture, as she was into her show on the ipad, and anyone who has had a 2yr old knows how hard it can be to get their attention and make them do what you want to do. As a result, we didn’t get many shots with big sis in them, but we managed to get a few at least.

I can see how daddy is and going to be so protective of his little girls and with all their cute outfits, mommy is going to have fun dressing them up all the time. I’m sure these two little girls will be so loved and so cherished and I can see them growing up to be best friends, in between the usual sibling spats,lol.

I look forward to watching them grow and I hope I get to photograph them again when they are a bit older and documenting their childhood for them as they grow.

Thanks for asking me to photograph your sweet little girls again, it was wonderful seeing you all again and I hope you enjoy your sneak peek.

 

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Melia Jardines Del Rey Cayo Coco Cuba

August 17th, 2016

I have traveled around the world and if I could travel more often I would, but this trip that I took with my best friend (who is my daughter’s God mother as well) and my daughter joined us as well this time, and it will be a trip that we will cherish and always remember.

From the airlines, sunquest to the hotel, we couldn’t have been taken better care of. I wrote to sunquest and let them know that my daughter is autistic and only 3 and I was so nervous and anxious as this was her first trip  but with everyone’s help, it ended up being an amazing trip. Sunquest, was so kind and generous and put the 3 of us up in front and let us board first and asked us many times during the flight if everything was ok, and it was, it was more than ok, it was great. Mind you, I was totally prepared, I had snacks and drinks and toys and a laptop with her favourite shows and earphones as not to bother other passengers and I had even made about 20 bags of assorted candies and chocolates with a little note attached asking everyone to understand that my daughter is autistic and if she was to act up or act out to not get upset and hopefully to understand the stress of taking an autistic child on a trip. To my surprise, my daughter Elizabeth was perfect, all the way there, didn’t make a peep, never had a problem, and helped me feel so much more at ease than I had the night before getting everything ready for this trip. I didn’t even have to give out the candy bags, and ended up giving them to the daycare in Cuba.

Elizabeth only had 2 melt downs that whole week away, and both had to do with the airport. Once we got to Cuba, I did not get her stroller until after customs and I think that tiny little space that they make you walk through and talk to them about why you came to Cuba freaked her out. She did not want to go in there, and here I am with bags and her bag and I had to lift her, and she’s not light and then had to explain to the customs officer about her disability and then we had to take pictures, but they were very nice and understanding and once they opened up that other door to let us through, Elizabeth calmed down and then I saw our stroller and got her in there a.s.a.p. and the rest of travelling went smoothly after that. The bus trip to the hotel was great too. Once we got to the hotel, we were struck but the beauty and the grand entrance of the reception, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. I made sure to contact a hotel rep before our travels and starting talking with a wonderful and such a helpful woman by the name of Lisbet. I told her all my concerns and she took care of each and every one of them. From giving us a great room on the first floor, both near the pool and beach and then booking all our reservations with the restaurants for us as knew this was going to be hard for us since Elizabeth won’t stand in any line for anything, so this took away a lot of stress, as well as easing my worries about the daycare there, she assured me that they were very capable of taking care of my little girl if we wished to use this service. We met up with Lisbet and she showed us around a bit and explained things and she was such a wonderful person and it was so great meeting her and having her help us, and she is one of the biggest reasons why we had such a wonderful time at this resort.

Only half the resort was open, but even still it was huge, and they were still in the process of fixing things and so there were a few issues, small ones, like needing more lights at night to see, and spaces between the squares on the floor and my stroller would bump its way along, thankfully Elizabeth didn’t complain so it wasn’t much of a problem, but it was a bit of a way to walk while she kept bumping up and down,lol.

Our room was beautiful and we had a great view of the ocean but there was a field of dry mud between our building and the beach and only one way to get to the beach, so you would have to walk around to get there, which we did the first day. Since it was our first day, we had no idea that we should have got up early to get chairs at the beach and so when we saw one palapa been occupied on one side, we decided to sit on the other side, only because the stroller would not go any farther, so we were stuck and I didn’t want Elizabeth getting burned, so I had to find shade for her. Wouldn’t you know it, I had some french canadian couple, move our things while we were in the water, and when I got out to ask them, they told me that they had to get up at 6am to get the palapa and that the WHOLE palapa was theirs. I argued with them and told them that this was not allowed and they should be ashamed of themselves to take away the only shade my daughter who was autistic had, they didn’t care. They were rude and selfish and I told them that as we packed up and left. That was the only bad thing that happened the whole week though, and it was not the resort’s fault so I didn’t hold it against them. Plus, they were in the midst of building more palapa’s everyday so I knew eventually this most likely wouldn’t be a problem in the future. We then went and checked out the daycare and we fell in love with the ladies there, right away they loved Elizabeth and you could tell they would take good care of her and so we told them we would have them watch her for a couple of hours the next day.

The restaurants in this resort were AMAZING!! Each one had fantastic food and since I had been to Cuba before and knew what to expect, I was blown out of the water. Even at the buffet there was a large selection and you never left hungry. They could change things up a bit and offer different foods on different days but other than that, we couldn’t complain. The waiters were all great, big smiles on their faces, very friendly and we were well taken care of every time.

The stage and auditorium was huge, and the shows were fun, and entertaining. We met lots of wonderful people and we had such a wonderful week there, we really couldn’t have asked for a better time.

I know that this resort will only get better as they open up the other half and fix a few things and build more palapas and at least a couple of more pathways to the beach. We did get up early the rest of the week to make sure we got a palapa on the beach but it was worth it. I wish we didn’t have to do that and hopefully future guests won’t have to resort to this as long as they build lots more palapas.

We left Elizabeth with the daycare everyday for a couple of hours until lunch, and they would even take her around the resort in the stroller and by the end everyone knew who she was, and because it was her birthday while we were there, they had a huge cake for her and sang to her and it was really so sweet and the peace I had knowing that she was well taken care of was like no other. In the afternoon we would pick her up and then go to the pool and spend the rest of the day there. The pools are big and amazing too and love the beds as this was perfect for Elizabeth, she could sit and watch her laptop and then go for a swim and back to watching her movies. This was the best first trip for my little girl and I’m so grateful for all that helped make this trip so special and wonderful for her and all of us.

The only other time we had a problem was getting off the plane back in Canada, Elizabeth didn’t want to get off the plane, and had a melt down, a long one, which is unusual so we waited while they brought the stroller up to us and it took about 20 mins for her to calm down in total even after putting her in the stroller, but again everyone on board was understanding and the flight attendants helped us so much and then getting through customs so easily and quickly helped tremendously.

I will always recommend this resort. The Melia Des Jardines Del Rey, will always be one of my most favourite resorts and I hope that we can go back there again soon. Much thanks to everyone, especially Lisbet and Amarilys and Lisyen who worked in the daycare and Eliover by the beach and Randy who kept us safe in general as he was the security guard, and to everyone else who helped make our trip so special, MUCHOS GRACIAS!! Hope to see you all again real soon. Besos

Here are some pics from my point and shoot camera, I have nice images from my pro camera but this was faster,lol.

On our way to the airport in style, Elizabeth’s first limo ride.

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