As I have blogged before, I am honoured to shoot for “Smiling Eyes” – an organization where photographers donate time to families who’s lives have been touched by cancer. Another part of Smiling Eyes is having the opportunity to photograph families at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Toronto. I love, love, love doing this!

On Saturday, I went to the RMH and met up with the lovely Melissa. Melissa is amazing – she is a child life specialist (did I get the title right, Melissa?) and does an incredible job of making sure the children who come into RMH lives are made richer, happier, and to help with some of the confusion and fears they may have. You can tell how much the kids (and parents) all adore Melissa.

This time when I got home and looked through the images, what stuck out for me was the parents. These moms and dads are doing such amazing jobs with keeping their children feeling loved, safe and happy.

The first family I met with lives in Ireland currently but are from South Africa. They came to Toronto last week with their son William. William turns one this coming Wednesday – happy birthday!! On Monday, due to eye cancer, William is having one eye removed. I was so thankful for the timing of this photo shoot to give William’s family photos before his surgery. He is such a happy little guy – with mischief just waiting to come out – you can see it in his face!

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William is so cute! And he knows he is cute too.

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This series cracks me up. He looks so innocent – until mom comes within reach.

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We then went outside to the parking lot. Again, I’ll say the location is not as important as you may think for a photo shoot. The love and connection is what you see in images. You can find a neutral background anywhere!

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Kids always let you know when they’re done – bye bye!

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Then I met with this sweet family from Nunavut. They are here with their sister who is in Sick Kids With two young active boys – they kept me on my toes. Definitely would need distractions!

First… play-dough!

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Then… puppet show!

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But this was the best… watch their expressions change in the next two. Can you guess what made the change?

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Silly String!!

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Melissa pulled out Silly String and they loved it!

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Then I showed them they had a “twin” in the window….

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ANd more silliness with Melissa!

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Such a sweet family!

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I can not imagine what it must be like for these boys coming from Nunavut where mom was saying there is still snow and they’re use to being outside all day long – to being downtown Toronto! The stories they’ll have for the folks back home!

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Then I went on to meet baby Harm. His mom went to the hospital at 27 weeks not feeling well… and next thing she knows, she is rushed to Mount SInai hospital and has a two pound preemie baby! Harm is doing awesome and is heading home this week hopefully! It was also funny as we talked, to discover we live in the same neck of the woods and Cassandra (Harm’s mom) knows all my neighbours (one was even her bridesmaid) and has even been over to my barn before. Small world!

When I got there, dad was just sitting admiring him. Mom is up at the ROnald McDOnald House all the time (11 weeks so far I think she said) while dad comes up on weekends. SO I’m sure he’s eager to hold his little guy as much as he can!

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I love when babies stretch and curl up like this!

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This is one loved little baby!

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Totally smiling.

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Why do you think “Mr. Muscles” is crying?

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He wanted to flex his muscles of course!!

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This was also my first time having to wear a gown and gloves as Harm is currently in isolation. Interesting to shoot this way!

I remember spending hours doing this – heck! I still love to watch my girls lie there! Look at Harm’s face… “are they still there?”

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Such a sweetheart!

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The last visit was to SIck Kids hospital to see little Kenna. She is two years old and is such a sweetheart! SHe is from Rainy River area – where I have family as well. Nestor Falls up near Rainy River is where my grandparents lived and is still probably my favourite place anywhere. Kenna and her mom have just arrived recently and getting settled. Kenna was so proud of her necklace and bracelet she had made!

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Isn’t she so sweet!

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I just loved how mom and Kenna interacted together. You can tell Kenna loves her mommy!

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And what kid doesn’t love being read to?

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As I looked through the images what caught my eye was the kids just wanting to hold on to mom and dad. For these young ones to face so much is hard to imagine. But if they had to do it without mom and dad’s presence is unthinkable. I am so thankful for Ronald McDonald House being there so mom and dads can be there to hold a hand and offer a cuddle.
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Celebrating life and love,

Krista

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