Wrapping up Christmas...

It was my good friend, Josef Samuel who presented me with the idea about a year ago...the idea that ended up changing photographic life as I know it. The first day we met he shared with me his vision of gathering local photographers together in a friendly, non-competitive group to learn and grow together. Joe's an idea guy and I'm a get-it-done girl, so between the two of us things quickly started to happen. Another talented friend, Andrew Conrad, balanced us out with his organizational skills and knowledge, and we are now very close to seeing the birth of this new idea!! A few final steps will make it official! But we didn't wait for it to be official...we've developed a plan, named ourselves the X/Stop Project, rounded up about 15 local photographers, had meetings, started a forum, had about 6-7 fun/educational group photo shoots, and MOST excitingly, we've taken on our FIRST community project!!

One of our members, Bruce Weeks had some experience working with autistic children and knew of a specific need in a local elementary classroom. He explained to us that autistic children have trouble transitioning from one activity to the other because their minds are so focused on what is right in front of them. So the teachers have made some basic visual aides that can be presented to them prior to relocating to the next room or task. They report that these have REALLY helped ease everyone's frustration! Their visual aides are very basic, but they're doing the job. The children's parents, however, have none of those visual aides and were still having trouble at home, with one task in particular...going to the GROCERY STORE. Time after time the parents could be heard saying that trips to the grocery store were nightmarish, overwhelming, and they simply dreaded it. Kate, a teacher with whom Bruce worked at Darden Elementary, thought that having a book at home about going to the grocery store would really help these kids know what was about to happen and how they should act. She had written the text, but illustrating the book was proving to be a bigger project than she could take on. When Bruce presented us with the idea, we were so excited...ideas just started popping up all over the place! We decided this could be the first in a series of "LET'S GO" books, designed especially for autistic kids and their life activities. All of us had a crazy busy wedding season, so the project was put on hold until winter. But last month we finally had everything in place and Bruce was able to connect all the dots for us. He got permission from Martin's Supermarket to use their store and everyone there was AMAZINGLY helpful and excited about our project too. Joe did the shooting, Bruce pulled all the strings, and I did the book design...it was such a great group effort! After Kate's approval, we'll be sending it off for printing and soon every child in the SNAP Program at Darden Elementary will receive a free copy to take home to their parents. I'm so excited!

So I'm sure you're wondering WHY in the midst of such a fun, heart-warming project, I'm pictured here fighting with some guy in the line at Martin's? Well, you see, there was ONE guy in the store who was just causing LOTS of trouble...heckling us and picking on our sweet little model...I had to pull out some SMACKDOWN and put him in his place!! OK..KIDDING! That's me and Bruce taking our acting and modeling job too seriously. We have cameo appearances in the book and we thought cameo just wasn't enough for our budding careers so we spontaneously added a page teaching children how to resolve unexpected outbursts in public. Orrrrrr...maybe we'll save that for the next book in the series, "LET'S GO...to Anger Management Therapy!"


Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! We were excited to be snug at home this year for Christmas day...that is we WERE until Jadon came down with the flu! Well, I guess we were glad we were home then too, but Christmas kind of took a nose-dive after that. Oh well...as my friend Anita said, it'll be one of those "Remember when..." stories to pull out someday when the kids are older. It was still a beautiful day and there was plenty of love (and germs!) to go around. Here's some pictures from our Christmas season and a few from our annual church Live Nativity.

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