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Ko Olina, Oahu: Travel Family Session, Aulani, a Disney Resort, Discovery Bay Photographer, Brittany

I met Candace earlier in the spring of 2016, she had reached out to me to take some photos in remembrance of the love of her life who suddenly passed away just a few short months before. Donnie Pearman III was a uniformed officer for over two decades and worked for the Pittsburg Police Department. He left behind an 8 year old (when I first met them) son, Little Donnie. During our session we talked almost like old friends- I felt instantly connected upon meeting Candace. At first I thought it was because she's a woman in blue, Donnie was a brother in blue and being a law enforcement wife, I stand loyally behind that line. But it wasn't even that. She has this aura about her that is magnetic. She's funny, and genuine... so very genuine in the way she speaks, but man, she keeps it real and I admire and appreciate that about others. You notice within minutes what an amazing mother she is to her boys. We talked about plans, and mentions of Disney (I read those contact forms my clients send). Long story short, we found out quickly that we'd be going to Oahu to stay in Aulani, A Disneyland Resort at the same exact time. Fate. Totally fate.

A few weeks went by, maybe even months and I emailed Candace asking if I could photograph them while we were there. I couldn't travel all that way, be there at the same time as them and NOT put that out there. So we planned to do something but kept it pretty lax because we were both eager to embrace a little R&R.

This is where things get fun (on the Deacon Family end). I was going to leave this out, because I want the focus to be about this session, about how much it meant to both Candace and myself to do this, and be a part of this session. This was a trip Donnie and Candace planned together before tragedy struck their family.

We flew in just a day or two apart. We kept in contact via text throughout to get the scoop on the scenery, weather, plans, etc. The night before our flight my oldest came down with a 103 fever and I almost thought about canceling the entire trip, but I worked an entire year, saved, spent, saved some more for this family trip and I didn't want to lose the great deal I got. We couldn't cancel. My big family of 5 made sure to leave the morning of our flight bright and early. We gave ourselves about 4 hours before our flight time to get there and check in. Well, we got to Oakland Airport at 9am for a 9:15 flight. WE. COULDN'T. BOARD. I cried. Literally. Right off the bat. My kids were SO good, SO excited, but we just weren't there in time. The next flight we could get was a 1:30 to Seattle, and then a 6:50 to Oahu. Queue tears.

The Benadryl wore off about 1pm for my youngest- don't even start to mom shame me for that, it's not the place and nor do I care. Plus, he's about allergic to eggs, dairy and everything else, I was taking precautions... for ALL. We board the plane to Seattle and the flight is alright, kids doing okay- Connor needed some oils and tylenol to help his fever, but it was alright. Until our decent into SeaTac. TMI warning- this guy (pilot) landed the plane like it was a rental! I lost all my hummus and pita chips, and pretty sure I cried in embarrassment. *I should note, I'm also about 10-12 weeks pregnant on this trip, hence the crying.* I leave the bag nice and hidden you know ON my seat, and leave letting them know, "I left a parting gift" for the pilot.

In Seattle at 3pm and we have nearly 4 hours to kill- what do you even DO with 3 kids, 5 and under in an airport for 4 hours? Candy. Burger King. All the things good mothers give their kids...

Fever for Connor spikes again and I'm just hoping I can hold down dinner. Again though, the kids were being SO good. Board the plane to Oahu and I'm praying I can get them to sleep for even just a little. The youngest was THE WORST. I don't even want to put my flight number down because the face will become familiar for anyone reading this- we were those people. I get it, babies aren't great on planes but he was one more fit from them landing the plane in the ocean and making us kayak back to shore. Fast forward that awkward 5 hour flight and get ready to descend into Oahu, and YOU GUESSED IT. Except, I made it OFF the plane and into the very first bathroom I could find. I decided it wasn't the pilot in Seattle's fault *entirely* ...

FINALLY IN OAHU. GET IN TAXI VAN. GET TO HOTEL. It's 11:30pm. The hotel upgrades us because I pretty much lost 1 full day of vacation. I cry. :-) Happy magical Disney tears.

Before this post turns into this long story I'll keep this paragraph just for the vacation part... Wednesday I wake up sick. Can barely move. Fever, the whole 9. I got what Connor had. Grin and bear it, give myself lots of lemon, water and honey and visit the pool and check out some stuff with the kids. Although, I did end up napping in the room often when Hudson (the young baby screamer) napped. By Thursday/Friday Isla my middle child got the sickness. Hers included vomiting in the Disney store... 3x. By Saturday Hudson had it and we had our shoot planned pretty close to that weekend. Things do get kind of blurry for me between all those sicknesses. All I can tell you is we spent the first vacation in Hawaii in 4.5 years and as a family of 5 + one baking all SUPER DUPER sick! Flight home, just read above. It happened- except 3/5 of us were puking. We got looks like we were about to start the next zombie apocalypse. You're WELCOME for the entertainment flight 765* (kidding). I WAS HOWEVER, SO GRATEFUL

In between all of this I was texting updates to Candace and my friend Erika asking them what Pho was good or Saimin I should get (we all know it's the cure all foods!)

Candace responded with ease about our session- We met up on the beach and walked over to a place my husband had scouted for me while I was napping and I must admit- he should scout for me more often because it was PERFECT.

Got to our spot and the boys went for it! I could cry at how amazing these photos went. They're simple and so incredibly special to all of us. Candace even had PoeHaku (Instagram: PoeHaku) make these STUNNING flower crowns. Even one for my daughter Isla (will share a photo on my Facebook Fan Page: Brittany Deacon Photography).

I'm so happy after all the hiccups and series of not so fun events along the way that although I didn't take nearly as many photos as I should have, that I did get these! My favorite part, is when I went to cull and edit the images, I saw this baby speck of light by Little Donnie's heart. It took me back, because I know without a doubt that's his dad. <3 Enjoy!

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