WILMINGTON, NC -- Last night was one for the books as we all bore the harsh temperatures of early June in the South.
The streets of downtown were flooded with tourists, families, sightseers and photographers, all enjoying and embracing the historic ambience the city holds.
While I believe each of my clients has a unique and compelling background, this military family with five kids, four deployments and ten scoops of ice cream deserves a standing ovation.
The Grahams are a mix of personalities, interests and outrageously tall sizes; but their love is one of a kind.
Emily Graham, a Chicago native was a single mom working toward her doctorate when her now-sister-in-law set her up on a blind date. She fell in love with a Marine who was about to go to war, and nine months later they were married.
This blended family-of-three soon became four... and then five...six...seven.
"Our house is crazy and loud," said Emily, "but we love it all."
Rob and Emily also care for Rob's 86-year-old grandmother, who lives with them for half the year.
"They call her Meme, and she is the sweetest person there ever was," Emily said.
To add another level to the chaos, their 8-year-old daughter Elle (left) is a child actor who has been in movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Captive”, and is currently working on the Netflix Series “Stranger Things”.
"She loves it so much," Emily explained, noting that the family does everything they can to support her.
Emily is also an actress and participates in many local productions here in Wilmington.
Although Elle has been on the big screen, their youngest, Madelyn, is a fiery girl who won't let being the littlest slow her down.
Emily and her oldest son, Ryan (15) share a unique bond. He's the Vice President of his freshman class in Topsail, and is an honors student.
Surprisingly enough, Brady (6) was the star of the show by the end of the night, and loved the camera. His proclamation of the evening; "I have food allergies!" as he brushed his teeth with a candy-coated stick.
Rob recently returned from Iraq, which was their 4th deployment together as a USMC family.
" It was long, hard, exhausting and sad," explained Emily, "but we make it through with God's grace and laughter."
Laughter was certainly not hard to come by with this clan; especially with four-year-old Emerson who not only flooded the lens with smiles, but filled my ears with stories and tales!
"Emerson is the most kind and gentle soul," said her mom, and I'd certainly have to agree.
They all love the beach, swimming, riding bikes and "eating anything I don't cook for them," she said. So obviously ice cream was the best way to settle the evening photoshoot.
Thank you Graham family for filling my evening with joy and laughter, and now filling my blog with beautiful family portraits.