I recently came into contact with a mom who is struggling with both health and financial problems. She really wants to give her kids a nice Christmas but is unable to do so on her own at this time. I was quite touched by her story, and impressed by her drive to start her own business and improve her family’s situation. I’ve decided to sponsor her and her family for the holidays through my business, Technigirl. I’m collecting donations for this family which will be used to purchase Christmas gifts for them (especially their 3 kids). They need you! Please read below for their story. To donate toward the Christmas gift fund I have set up for them, please go here.
My husband and I have been together for 11 years and we have three beautiful children. Bella is 8, Elaina is 7 (they are 10 1/2 mos apart) and Phoenix is 3. I had originally worked in the medical/financial field but after our daughter Bella was ill as a baby, my husband and I decided it would be best for me to become a stay-at-home mom. I eagerly agreed! Soon afterwards we found out that we had been blessed with a sweet surprise and were expecting our second already! Bella was 10 1/2 months old when Elaina was born and I had my hands full! However, I had wanted to go back to school for nursing with a minor in art – with aspirations to become an art therapist one day. Unfortunately, when the girls were 2 and 3, I became very ill after a bout with pneumonia and realized something was very wrong. Many tests were performed…but, unfortunately I was not receiving many answers other than I likely had an auto-immune condition where my own immune system was attacking my own body. I was too ill to attend school and dropped out for two semesters at which time I lost my scholarship. I was severely ill for approximately a year-and-a-half but did begin to improve drastically. THEN, we were blessed with another surprise when we found out we were pregnant again. Although we had not planned on having more children due to my health, I had been determined to get off ALL medication and that included birth control. Well, miraculously enough, my health improved when I was pregnant…due to the natural effect of pregnancy that reduces our immune response to protect our babies. I felt like a new woman! My symptoms were gone, my energy returned, and my life was back to normal! I even decided to name our son, Phoenix due to the fact that I literally felt as if I’d been born again. Dramatic, I know…lol…but it was amazing. Well, after he was born, a lot of my joint pain returned and after receiving a vaccination I became very ill again…at which time they DID confirm that I had auto-immune markers in my bloodwork and that I likely had the early stages of an auto-immune disease. Due to my symptoms at the time, I was diagnosed with the devastating news that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis (which if you aren’t familiar with it…is a systemic disease that causes your immune system to attack your body and causes severe arthritis and destruction of your joints…and leads to severe pain, joint malformations, and unfortunately cripples many with the disease). We were crushed.
Then, after months of treatment I was given the odd and unsettling news that the diagnosis was wrong…that I had no permanent joint damage and that they were still unsure how to go about treating me. A relief that came with a lot of questions. However, my symptoms then did decrease and by June of 2011 the severe joint pain that I was having and neurological symptoms improved. I have since been well, and attend regular doctor visits and bloodwork “sessions” to try to determine when I’ll have another flare-up and how to possibly prevent or shorten them. In Fall of 2011 I had decided to not let my chronic health problems stop me. I was put in touch with the Disability Department at a local college and changed my major to follow my passions…and I am now a dual major of Graphic Arts and Photography. Although I loved nursing, I felt with my health concerns, that something that I could possibly do from home when I am ill was a better choice for our family. I LOVE it! I excel in my classes and am looking at the possibility of several very good internships at local design firms.
Then, my husband, who had never missed a day of work in his entire 15 years with the company he worked for (other than for an injury) was laid off due to the economy effecting his employers ability to afford him. He got out right away and accepted a job at our local airport as a ground-crew mechanic making only $11/hr. That was an $8 dollar paycut! He was heartbroken…but took the job even knowing that he would only make $20 more a week than if he were on unemployment. He received a raise a year later and currently makes $13/hr. He has been advised that he is looking for a $1 raise by the end of the year. He doesn’t get paid time off/paid holidays/overtime…or even benefits…and our bills consume most of his income. We have been on Medicaid assistance (which I can’t afford to be without due to my health) and receive a whopping (I jest) $250/month in food assistance. I hate it…it’s embarrassing and people make assumptions that those on assistance are either lazy or suffer mental illness. We are neither and in an effort to hopefully dig ourselves out of this hole that we are in, decided (with a LOT of support of my family and friends, and a very friendly local photographer who believes in my work)…to launch my own photography business and my official launch date is January 1st. It’s scary, overwhelming, and tedious…but, I’m hoping that it will bring in enough extra income to help support my family. I love photography and I love creating timeless memories that reflect the natural reactions and interactions of children and their families. I want to specialize in childhood photography…but, I take any work that comes my way at this time. I’ve shot weddings, babies, a birth, children, families, and even pets…and I’ve loved every minute of working. It’s a lot of hours of work in prep, business, paperwork, designing a website and blog (which are STILL in process), keeping up with building a fan-base on Facebook, editing, sales…you name it…it adds up (as I’m SURE you are utterly aware). I will be charging bottom dollar as I’m still building my portfolio…but once my portfolio is complete will start charging appropriately and will hopefully have a lot of success. I believe what I do is MORE than take photos…I capture emotions and the essence of childhood that passes by all too quickly…I capture moments that a mother can cherish forever – even long after her children are grown. Once established, I have plans to become more involved in the local community offering photography services to those in need and those suffering from catastrophic illness and end of life situations – again, with a focus on babies and children. Big plans…but truly from the heart.
I am a crafter-extraordinaire, I love to crochet, draw, photograph, design, and build my own props. I love my children and my husband with all my heart and believe God has a plan and a purpose in my life and theirs. I believe we’ve fallen on hard times but through faith and friendship will again find our way. I am a Girl Scout Leader to 15 5-8 year old girls (grades Kindergarten to 2nd) and realize that I probably took on way to much by being so…BUT, have a wonderful co-leader who helps me in every way possible and has become one of my best friends.
I had asked for this gift, not because I am selfish or want MORE presents for my children. In fact, their lists were short and my middle daughter asked for very little with her list consisting mostly of gifts for others. I asked for this gift because we just don’t have enough to make Christmas like I used to remember when I was a child. We don’t own ipods or fancy game systems and we still play some of our old vhs tapes simply because why buy a cd if you have the vhs! lol! I just want our family to be together without my husband having to carry the heavy burden of not paying our bills so that we can afford presents. My husband doesn’t get a Christmas bonus and I have yet to establish my business…so, I reached out in hopes that I could do SOMETHING to help my family and to make a Christmas that our children will remember.
A little about the kids:
Bella just turned 8 in November. She is a beautiful, sweet, and VERY shy girl – with a little tomboy in her. She does very well in school but is sooo shy so only has a few friends and barely speaks a whisper. She started playing basketball this year and LOVES it! She’s the tallest on the team…and that hints at the fact that she grows out of her clothes VERY quickly. She LOVES Converse tennis shoes and could certainly use a new pair! She has ALWAYS loved bugs, science, arts & crafts, music, and the color pink. She’s VERY picky about how her clothes fit, so now she picks out her own clothes when we go shopping. She recently picked up the love of keeping a journal…and wants an indoor basketball hoop. Cats are her favorite animal.
Elaina just turned 7 in October and she is super sweet and always helpful around the house and at school. She is above-level in all her studies and helps others with their reading and is popular in her class due to her outgoing personality. She, too, started playing basketball this year and we’ve found she likes to skip and stare up at the lights when running down the court. NOT good for the team…but so cute nonetheless! She LOVES the color blue, wearing dresses, feeling like a princess, makeup, nailpolish, and fairies. She likes fancy clothes and shoes but doesn’t complain at all when she gets Bella’s hand-me-downs. But, she’s not afraid to get her nails dirty and dig up worms with her brother and sister either. Because she’s always thinking about others…she’s still learning about what she likes. She says she likes to dream about riding on unicorns over rainbows and she loves to tell her made- up stories. She pretty much thinks every day is the “best day ever”. Dogs are her favorite animal.
Phoenix just turned 3 in September and he’s such a funny little boy. He loves his sisters and has a special affinity for his mommy and snuggling. He stays at home with mom and is eager to learn how to read and write better. He loves dinosaurs, robots, building things, tools and cars…lots of cars, and dressing up as super-heroes. He likes making everyone laugh with his ridiculous dancing and REFUSES to use the potty because “it flushes people” – hey, it’s a work in progress! lol! He likes to make blanket tents and pretend he’s on adventures. He loves space and wants to take me to the moon in his spaceship someday so we can camp out and have a picnic on the moon. He has mentioned he wants a tool bench and tools so he can help Daddy fix stuff.
Bella, age 8
Elaina, Age 7
Phoenix, Age 3