Well we did it. We survived a road trip with the kids to Chicago and back. A little over 2,000 miles with all of our detours and journeys. I have to first and foremost say, we did this trip 2 years ago in our car, and vowed to NEVER do it again. Much like pregnancy and child birth, as time heals your fuzzy mind you forget the pain and suffering associated with such an endeavor. We were vaguely reminded of the horror but figured we would power on and this time get smart and rent a much larger vehicle. Then, in the 11th hour, my amazing, supportive, generous, loving parents let us borrow their SUV which made the trip MUCH easier to handle. I just have to say, I moan and complain about “technology today” and kids spending too much time with screens in their face, but this trip I shut my trap. They both had a tv of their own and watched their own shows free of sibling compromise and it was GLORIOUS. We added some educational shows and made sure we took breaks for coloring, bracelet making, magnets and more. The extra space in the aisles of the car, the third row for my napping and plenty of trunk space for the amount of luggage that would only be necessary for a month long stay made this time around much more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty of crying, refusal to sleep and general unpleasantness, but overall this was worlds better.
I also have to give a major shoutout to the robot space craft that displayed a hologram in your eye level of the speed limit along side your current speed, then would show a picture of the cars on either side of you to avoid crashing. The same robot also slowed your cruise control speed when it sensed a car in front of you then sped back up when it moved out of your way. Nick and I kept saying, if we had millions man, we’d totally get a robot SUV too.
We had some travel plans change along the way but we made the most of it by staying in downtown St. Louis. We’ve been to St. Louis a hundred times and have never actually stayed or ventured in and around the downtown area. It turned out to be a fun little detour! I had a free hotel stay to use from hotels.com (a program I HIGHLY recommend using) so I cashed in on an awesome room at the Four Seasons. We spent the day by the pool, then went for dinner and ice cream and splurged on a tiny carriage ride downtown. And I have to say, it was our first experience staying at a Four Seasons with kids and man do they do it RIGHT. We checked in post nap time with two cranky, whining kids, which didn’t seem to phase the front desk AT ALL. Dude handled my situation like a pro, came over to a crying Alivia and offered her a bottle of water then brought her over to a closet and wheeled out a red wagon overflowing with toys and simply told her and Caden to pick anything out. LIKE A BOSS. Then, when we came back to our room later that night they had come with a turn down service for the kids that was truly amazing. A customized milk and cookie plate with their name written in chocolate, mini robes & slippers, and a toiletry bag for each of them. Caden told me this was his favorite place ever and didn’t want to leave. Me too man.
Once we finally made it to Chicago I snapped a few shots of Alivia jumping in the hotel bed but shortly after that my camera went in it’s bag and stayed there for the rest of the trip. I wish I could get better about continuing to shoot during chaos and excitement but I choose to just be in the present for those times. Plus it helps that there was a professional there for the wedding day, so I’m hoping I can just buy some of those pictures to prove, I was in fact, on this trip.
Our trip recap via Instagram
Recently, I’ve had the immense privilege of working with The Chalmers family and their wonderful charity Maximum Chances. Maximum Chances is an organization providing funding to children with Autism spectrum disorders. The funds help these children gain access to educational services, therapies and cutting edge biomedical treatments (all of which are very expensive). The Chalmers’ goal is to improve the quality of life for both the children and their families. Up until now the charity has been fully funded by the Chalmers personally, which is so amazingly wonderful and a testament to their giving and compassionate hearts!
One of the current children Maximum Chances are working with is a 10 year old little boy, Hach, who until his current therapy treatments had never uttered a single word in his life. 10 YEARS, no words. I can’t even imagine struggling for so long, feeling lost and unable to help my sweet baby speak. The Chalmer’s generosity and outcome of these extensive treatments are utterly priceless. They are making such an impactful difference in people’s lives and are such a blessing to the families they support.
This past Monday The Chalmers’ hosted the Maximum Chances ProAm Golf Tournament. It was the first major fundraiser they’ve held, run by all volunteers, and 100% of the profits went directly to the fund. All 12 of the professional golfers who participated, along with those entered in the tournament truly made a difference. It was an honor to photograph such a fun day and be a part of the wonderful volunteer team. And being that we are currently experiencing rain of biblical proportions here in Dallas, it’s even more amazing that for the few hours that the tournament was held, the rain stayed at bay. As soon as the event ended and everyone came inside the heavens opened up and our monsoon like weather got back on track. Even mother nature supports the Maximum Chances organization.
To hear more about the Chalmers’ story and their charity, Maximum Chances, please visit their website – http://maximumchances.org
To donate to their amazing organization or to find out how you can get involved you can contact the Chalmers by clicking here.
**Please note, all images are copyright of Jessica Marchetti and are protected by Federal Copyright Laws. You may not make ANY reproduction of the images in ANY form (print or electronic) without the express written consent of Jessica Marchetti. Reproduction includes, but is not limited to scanning, downloading, right-clicking, emailing, saving to hard drive, posting on websites or blogs, photocopying, obtaining screen shots, or printing in any manner.
Today marks the last *full* week of preschool and the beginning of a summer of tears and agony (from me of course) over the impending kindergarten status this fall. This sweet child of mine has been 5 for months, but for some reason it’s just hitting me how big he really is. He has such an amazing spirit and SO much going on inside that mind of his that he MUST share it all with you all day every day. I even have to instate 2 minutes of silence every so often to allow for him to regain oxygen. Seriously, the boy has so many ideas and stories to tell that he literally skips consonants, you have to tell him to pause, slow his roll, and try that sentence again. He has so much excitement and passion, it’s kind of intimidating. So you can imagine what it’s like to have some alone time with him.
When he turned 2 I started photographing him with a giant mylar balloon to track his age/growth. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it up, but it’s become a fun little tradition that even he enjoys participating in (mostly because it always comes with major treats for cooperation). This year I went back and forth trying to figure out where (and when) I was going to take them and one random Sunday I woke up and decided today was the day. It didn’t seem to stop me that it was cold or pouring down rain. I got it in my head that we were taking his pictures that day so dammit it was happening. In the past I’ve had Nick come along to help wrangle but this time I decided he was old enough just the two of us would go. So off we went, to Fort Worth (again, no idea why I got it in my head we were going all the way there), in a large rain storm. I kept watching the radar and told him the rain has to stop sometime so let’s go grab lunch and wait it out. We found an adorable restaurant near the park and got there just before a mad lunch rush. He felt so cool, all dressed up, just him and mom, chatting about all things transformers. We sat there for about an hour just talking about nothing, with no hurry to leave, nowhere to be. It was perfect.
The rain finally stopped and the sun came out just enough for us to head to the Ft. Worth botanical garden. Just as we were getting started a grounds keeper stopped us and said we weren’t allowed to use our balloon. Something about kids letting them go and them not being able to get them out of the trees, to which we said finneeee (GIANT EYE ROLL). So we ended up casually strolling the grounds “on a treasure hunt” and looking for adventure. He was totally in charge of our journey, choosing which path to take and where we’d go next. Along the way I’d make him stop and smile. And when he didn’t want to I’d make some ridiculous nonsensical joke with the punch line of someone farting on someone else’s head. Which would erupt into giggle fits. After a while we decided we were done and headed back to the car. I was happy with the outcome and just said maybe the balloon tradition is done. But my little man wasn’t having it, we had to take at least one with it.
On our way out I saw a cute little park across the street and told him we’d go over for one picture with the balloon and head home. Which sounded like a good plan in theory. We climbed the rocks, hopped in puddles, laughed more about farts and played with the giant 5 balloon. At this point I was exhausted and said okkkk now let’s go home. I gave him his celebratory package of fruit snacks and we sat on the steps eating them continuing our last discussion about Optimus Prime and the new angry birds transformers update. Until he heard the sound of a train whistle….. he freaked out, jumped up and we discovered the fun train that travels through Trinity Park. It sounded like a perfect end to a special day out with just me and the little man so of course I obliged.
The ride ended up being crazy long and we didn’t find our way home for at least another hour but it was all worth it. He couldn’t wait to get home and tell dad and Alivia all about the spontaneous fun we had. It’s truly one of the only days this year I can say the two of us did anything like it, and hopefully not the last.
Well folks it’s happening. I’m *very briefly* coming out of my portrait hiatus and opening up 10 full in-home photography sessions. Nothing posed, nothing scripted, just you and your family doing what they do best, finding joy in the every day. I’ll be documenting all of your favorite activities: legos, swinging, reading, riding bikes, swimming, playing in the sprinklers, you name it! No stress of finding the perfectly coordinated outfit, or bribing family for smiles. I fade into the background and capture you and your loved ones the way you want to remember them!
The sessions are $800 and include a full in home session (roughly an hour to 90 minutes), editing of the images, all of the final high resolution images (roughly 35-40 images) and a set of 5×7 prints of the images from the session. Spots are on a first come, first serve basis, only 10 available. Payment is due in full to reserve your space.
Please note, sessions are limited to your immediate family. Email me for more information or to book your session. email@example.com
With all the rainy days we’ve been having (and mild injuries) being stuck indoors has been making a lot of us antsy (i.e. me). Looking for something fun to do, how about updating the wall art in your playrooms, nurseries or children’s rooms. I fell in love with this wall art from Pottery Barn “Enjoy the Little Things.” They have it featured in an office space or bedroom but as soon as I saw it I thought how cute it would be in a child’s space. It’s double meaning of enjoying the everyday moments as well as the little beings in your home is too cute. And the price isn’t that bad for artwork of it’s size ($199, and lately they’ve had more 15% off coupons surfacing on the web).
And you know how I love a good gallery wall, so you could use the playful phrase as a centerpiece and incorporate some sweet shots of your family as well as some of my best sellers from the Etsy shop. Just a few pieces of art as canvas or framed in cute frames and you could easily update your children’s play space. As always if you need help deciding or a mock up of some images for visualization give me a shout and I can help!
If you’re looking for a little something else to spruce up the playroom you could add a play tent teepee. The land of nod ones are always a big hit, and of course Etsy has some great selections and you can do custom orders for a more personalized look.