I haven't sent out a newsletter since the holidays. I'd like to say it's because I've been too busy. And for the first part of 2010 that was certain

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I haven't sent out a newsletter since the holidays. I'd like to say it's because I've been too busy. And for the first part of 2010 that was certainly true. But it's been a very, for lack of a better word, "interesting" late spring and summer for my family and Buttons and Bows. I thought it was time I shared with those who have not yet heard the news.

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Three days before our 14th wedding anniversary we found out that we'd have to evacuate our new home (built in 2007) immediately due to Chinese drywall -- the air environment in the home / my office was extremely toxic and the Florida Department of Health environmental inspector deemed our home uninhabitable and told us to get ourselves and the children out as quickly as possible. We are now renting a home in the east Orlando metro area so our boys can remain in their same school.

I have been sick for quite some time not fully knowing why, and why I kept getting worse -- and my children started getting sick toward the end of our time spent in our former home as well. Several of you unfortunately experienced delays in both session scheduling and orders because of all this. The major red flag to us was our children, however. They simply were not "sick children" until we moved into that home. Within a year, they were rarely well. In the weeks before we moved out they developed rashes, vomiting, and a cough it breaks my heart to think of. I'm very happy to report that both boys are nearly back to 100% now. I have not had as easy of a time, however. It's been a summer full of doctor, specialist, neurologist, Urgent Care, and ER / hospital visits for me.

You can read more at my Facebook update here -- expand the first comment, mine, to get the full text of the story.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chinese drywall, homes discovered with it are as much of a loss as if they'd been destroyed by flood or fire. However, because the damage isn't "sudden and immediate", insurance does not cover replacement. The home must be torn down and rebuilt from the slab up in order to be safe, and most builders (ours included, originally bankrupted and now merged with another builder) are not willing to assume responsibility. Homeowners are literally left with nothing, and with no choice but to simply walk away. With the state of our health, we ran. The long legal process is just beginning. All clothing and furniture are considered toxic - anything non-porous will continue to "off-gas" poisonous fumes and would contaminate a new home. Even the very photos on the walls due to the photo paper and wooden frames! In this case, we weren't even left with the clothes on our backs. Those had to be thrown out as well.

The loss was doubly devastating because I lost six years worth of my business -- computer equipment, camera equipment, unassembled albums and cases, boxes, ribbon / bows, studio equipment and backdrops. Even things that should have been safe (metal and plastic) simply were not. Many continued to cause headaches and had to be removed from our new home immediately. On top of that was the loss of my props and costumes including vintage suitcases, baby beds, plush rockers, buckets and baskets, cuddle blankets, hats, blankets, diaper covers, tutus, pettiskirts, tights, wings, headbands, birthday hats, Santa hats, Santa bag... Everything.

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I could stop the story here on a down note. But I'm not going to. Not only do we still have each other (and so many families in loss-situations like this aren't that lucky), we also have amazing friends and more support than we can comprehend.

Photographers from all over the country have joined together in donation groups to restock my "prop supply". Vendors have stepped in and donated hundreds of dollars worth of office and business items as well. I want to personally thank Heather Lickliter and Stylized Portraiture, HB Packaging, Moo, Layla Grayce, Kelly Moore, Adorabelle Pettiskirts, Epiphanie, Kelly France Photography, Hosting Matters, Justyna Nielsen and Funky Monkey Photography, and the countless others who have participated in web-drives, campaigns, prayers and well-wishes.

Because of so many caring individuals who have shown kindness beyond my comprehension, my new office now looks like this:

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Although it's impossible to replace 6 years worth of hard work and dedication in less than 6 weeks, to even be at this point leaves me speechless. And incredibly humbled. Truly.

I resume shooting this weekend for the first time since May and I will be able to walk into my next several sessions with more than just a camera. A few short weeks ago I didn't know how that would ever be possible.

To all of my 2009 and 2010 clients, I want to pass along my sincerest thanks for your continued patience and understanding. I am several months behind on my proofing and orders right now, about to combine three months of shooting into one, and heading into holiday shooting in September. There is truly no rest for the weary and I appreciate your support more than you'll ever know. I will be doing my best to make it up to everyone for months to come.

I am a firm believer things happen for a reason. And after this summer, I also believe (to borrow from the Beatles) that the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Hug those close to you and thanks again to everyone who's been there for my company and my family.

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