I’m not going to make this long and I’ll be straight to the point. Those who I’m hoping are reading this won’t have time or patience for anything more. I just wanted to extend some truth and observations about this job of motherhood we do. There’s so much to be said but I’ll leave it at this:
Motherhood is thankless, sacrificial, life changing, emotionally challenging, physically challenging and truly the most important job in the world. I think I can speak for us all when I say that it doesn’t feel any kind of beautiful or graceful most days. Or even any day at all. There’s nothing beautiful about me when I’m cleaning pee of toilets. There’s nothing graceful about loads of laundry and screaming children wondering where lunch is while I answer emails. I definitely do not feel beautiful after a night of terrible sleep with multiple children in my bed trying to get breakfast cooked, kids dressed and to school on time and I’m still in my robe with yesterday’s mascara down my face….
But the thing is, the beauty isn’t in what it looks like through our worldly standards and eyes. The beauty is in how we care for our kids at any cost to our selves. It’s in the late nights and early mornings that no one sees or thanks us for. It’s in the security they feel with out even knowing that we provided that for them with every crust cut pb&j, every tuck in, every I love you, every owie tended to, every question answered, every “what!” when they say our name. The beauty lies in those moments. And the grace, it’s in the hugs they still give us even though we yelled 17 times today over God knows what because we’re tired and stressed. It’s in the songs they sing while playing around the house carelessly because they are so grounded from our love that they can sing with joy freely! It’s in the flowers picked, pictures drawn, and hands held. If there was no grace for our imperfections and mess-ups, those sweet little moments wouldn’t happen. But they do and we need to stop and receive it, believe it, and rest.
There is beauty and grace in what we do. It doesn’t fit into an instagram square but it’s true and it’s ours. Motherhood is beautiful in a way that is literally out of this world. Don’t try to make it of this world, it’s too great to fit into our sometimes shallow culture. Motherhood is the stuff of superheros. If you forget this, just pull out your kid’s elementary school Mother’s Day gifts from the archives. The things they wrote about you and cute little hand print hearts they made. Pay attention to how necessary you are in the day to day, minute to minute. You’re the life source and no one can replace you.
Motherhood is beautiful and full of grace. That’s just the truth.
My sweet friends became parents and I’m sooooo happy for them! Per usual, these two giggled their way through our session adoring that sweet baby who just arrived. Snuggling baby Drake was everything my ovaries needed 😉 Here’s some of my favorites from my time with Lance, Kayla & Baby Drake…”God’s Plan”
The Long Family is welcoming a son! We enjoyed a little adventure on the beach at sunset to celebrate and capture the bump before he comes. We barely made it out as the tide rose, trapping us in this pretty little cove. It really was an adventure and well worth it as you can see…
Visalia’s pretty little gem, The Darling Hotel, is the newest venue for small weddings and elopements. Gatsby vibes and the rooftop bar make it my first choice for all things wedding and boudoir! I pulled together a fun team of wedding vendors to make a little styled elopement magic and we were not disappointed!
Couple: Brynn & Josh
Florals: Sweet Memories
H&M: Makeup By Dara, Hair by Whitney
Video: Justice Films
Styling: Kimberly Joy Events
Dress: Daughters of Simone
Rentals Standard Party Rentals
Accessories: Make Pie Not War
Desserts: Con Besos
These two… we’ve waited a few years and finally this fall, there’s gonna be a wedding! COVID is an asshole but LOVERS GONNA LOVE!
I’ve been photographing this babe since she was in 8th grade! We’ve been dreaming of an epic shoot for graduation since then and epic is definitely what we got!
“What’s an Adventure Session?” Glad you asked… It’s when we level up your portrait session with a location that’s incredible, it usually requires a trail, a hike, maybe a drive but mostly it requires some wanderlust and major style! Your wardrobe can absolutely be extra, you’ll get a lot more images, and we’ll take a bit more time to make all the magic happen! Ask me about scheduling your own Adventure Session! Here’s how it went down with Lillie Hodges…
Glam: Brittany IG: @brittanys_glam | Rachel IG: @colormebronzesunless
This scene just played out in my house… One boy is peeing. Door is open, another boy comes in and spanks peeing boy super hard on his bare bottom. Peeing boy almost falls, Pee is spraying everywhere. Other boy laughs and runs away. Peeing boy goes after him with pants half on, no flushing, no washing of hands, no turning out the light, no cleaning up the pee. End scene.
My house is riddled with Nerf bullets, legos and hot wheels. My laundry is full of inside out jeans with underwear still in them. I buy them at least a dozen pairs of shoes each year. A fraction of everything they eat stays on their face and shirt. And, they don’t care if I’m going number 1 or 2, they’ll tell me all about some amazing Minecraft/Star Wars/Hot wheels… something or other because I’m sitting there with no where to go, I have to listen to them.
My boys are 8, 5 and almost 2. I absolutely love raising boys. I love my girl for sure, but I think there’s a reason I only have one. You feel me…. My boys think I’m beautiful on my worst day. They have a grace for me and I have a grace for them that is just different than with a girl.
Sometimes Ari (5) will grab my face and tell me how bootiful I am and how much he wuvs my whip stick. He asks me to marry him daily and does this charming little thing where he snaps his fingers and points at me while saying, “Hey babe.” It’s stupid cute.
Ren (20 months) has always been obsessed with my hair. He puts his arms around my neck and with both hands, plays with it incessantly. If it’s up, he pulls it down. He also loves to be face on face with me. It’s like he can’t get close enough to me so he just smashes himself against me while wearing this cute little grin showing how happy it makes him to literally suffocate me with his love.
Sam (8) is the man of the house. He opens my doors, takes out the trash, checks the mail, always asks to help me. If I’m upset, he’s upset. He drinks coffee with me in the early mornings because he likes to sit and have quiet moments with me. (really it’s cream with a side of coffee but whatever, it’s sweet) He feels big and I love his tender heart.
It’s such an important job raising boys. I know the movement of the hour is for women but we’d have no need for a women’s movement if we raised our boys to be gentlemen. We need to teach our boys to be strong and still tender. Brave and still wise. Respectful and responsible. That’s a more challenging job for some over others. How do you do that when there’s isn’t an example present? I don’t have all the answers but I think I’m doing a few things right…
I tell them how I see them even if they aren’t functioning well in it yet. I tell Ren that he’s a strong boy with big love in his heart. He’s actually not that strong because he’s 2 and when he sticks his finger all the way up my nose just because, there’s not much love in his heart but, I say it anyway. I always call them to their best. When Sam makes his bed and it looks like there’s still a body in it, I ask him if that’s the best he’s got. I wait to enter through a door until they open it for me. I rarely have to wait long because it’s become natural to get the door for other people first. Ari is still learning this but Sammy is setting a great example. I remind my boys often that girls are precious and need to be treated as such regardless of how they act. I also remind them that most girls have a daddy and they’ll have to ask that daddy’s permission before they go near her. That convo was introduced after receiving a text message from Ari’s teacher about him chasing, proposing and kissing girls the first week of school. Dear God…
A very wise friend told me this once: Boys get their worth from their momma while they learn how to be a man from their daddy. Girls get their worth from their daddy while they learn how to be a woman from their momma. I’m so thankful to know this bit of wisdom….
One of the most important things I’m learning about parenting is to let them see us as people. People with interests and hobby’s, people who over come hard things, people who are kind to other people. They need to see us being good humans so they can become a good human. We have to live out loud in front of our kids. With our kids.
That’s all I got. Fingers crossed and a lot of prayer I get this right.
Out of the 7 babies that have entered my body, only 4 are here with me today. 2 miscarriages and 1 ectopic pregnancy took 3 of my babies to Heaven. I don’t know why miscarriages happen. It’s the first question I’ll ask God when I get to Heaven. I do have a lot of theories, I’ve collected them from all of the people who freely gave me there’s. I know they meant well but if I’m honest, most of them made me more confused and and sometimes angry. Does anyone really know why babies come and go from our bodies before we get to know and love them? I don’t think anyone truly has the answer and I wish we’d all stop trying to make up the answer in efforts to fix someone’s pain. You can’t fix that kind of pain with any explanation. It’s unexplainable, unbearable pain that absolutely has to be felt and lived and processed before it can be tucked away into our heart. We put the memory and ideas of that little person in a safe place, never to be forgotten but also not altering our joy or sanity in the present. Then, we go on with life.
It’s really a strange thing, to go on with life with out someone who was supposed to be with you. And yet they are with you. I have friends who have babies the same age as the ones I’ve lost. Each time I see those babies I’m reminded of my precious little ones. They are always in my thoughts, always with me. It hurts less today to think of them, but I do think of them often.
All of my losses were different. My first one was before I had any children. The loss was so significant. It was as if someone stole my baby. Someone took from me what was so precious and belonged only to me. It was a long loss. 7 days of “maybe I’m loosing this baby to I’m loosing this baby and finally, I’ve lost this baby.” Absolutely agonizing. The words, “not a viable pregnancy” only made me angry at my doctor. It felt like she took the life out of the living being in my body by referring to him as a pregnancy. In my heart, he was a person and he was gone and “a little sensitivity would be great, Doc. PS, you’re fired. I’m not a project in your lab, I’m a person. ” Yes, I said that to her. Unapologetically.
The second miscarriage happened after my second son and during an extremely difficult time in my marriage. I went through it alone. No one really knew I was pregnant and my husband was in a different world. I had to put my boots on and take one for the A-team. There were babies to raise and a marriage to save. “Get off the bathroom floor and go do work, Kelli.” That’s what I said to myself.
My last loss was an ectopic pregnancy. Baby was growing in my fallopian tube and about to rupture. It was my birthday and I didn’t even make it home from dinner with friends before I was doubled over in the parking lot with the worst pain I had felt since child birth. I took some tylenol and went to bed praying that what I knew was likely would not be my reality. I called my doctor the next morning and she ordered me in immediately. An ultra sound confirmed that my baby was not where she was supposed to be and at any moment could endanger my life. An OR was booked and in 1 hour I found my self in a hospital gown on an operating table about to remove a living baby from my body. I could not reconcile that with my heart. I knew the facts but my heart was broken over it. Just before the surgery started I asked for the doctors and nurses to clear the room, I had to get to God, He felt far away in that moment and there was no way I was going under with out knowing the creator of that baby in my body was near and not going to hate me for what I was about to do. But I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t think. I was nearly hysterical. I called my dear friend because I knew she could get to Him for me. That’s what friends do. We hear and see for each other when our sadness and fear overwhelms us. And she did just that. She was already in prayer and already had a word from God for me when I got her on the phone. The word that would put my heart at peace long enough to do this impossible thing I was forced to do. She cried with me. She cried so hard with me. Have you ever experienced that? Someone feeling your pain with you? It’s such a gift and so comforting in an uncomfortable moment. It’s love.
After that loss, I was a mess. Angry as hell and so confused. So much so that I hired a therapist to help me process. I highly recommend therapy to anyone processing through great loss and pain. We all need someone to steer us through losses like that because, let’s get real, grief can make you crazy. Like certifiable sometimes. No one should have to do life; mother children, run a business, and keep their world spinning while in that kind of mourning. We absolutely need help. We need truth. We need love. We need. Period.
What happened next is for another post but I can tell you that today, 4 years later, the grief has been grieved and my heart isn’t as sensitive anymore. I can smile when I think about my Heaven babies. When I go to the doctor and I fill out the stupid form that asks how many pregnancies and how many living children I have, I proudly tell them I have had 7 pregnancies and 4 beautiful children with me today. I imagine my Heaven babies growing up watching me and knowing me from a distance. One day we will all be together, I won’t be a stranger to them and they have not been orphans. It will all be made right.
My hope in sharing these stories is not for my own comfort but to extend that to another mommy who needs it. I hope that if you’re reading this with a sting in your heart and tears on your face you will know that you are not alone and you matter. Miscarriage isn’t something you should just get over and move on from. It deserves to be given time and attention. And, if you need to process through your own loss with someone who might relate to your story, I’m here, talk to me. I mean that with all my battle wounded heart.
If you’re a senior or the parent of a senior, here’s some pro tips on making it the best senior session possible, after all, these sessions have become a kind of “right of passage”. Especially for the girls! A professional photo shoot with amazing clothes, hair and makeup is really everything to a girl in the funnest season of her life…. So here’s what you should and should not do
Hair and makeup up with a pro! I have a girl… just ask
Wardrobe you LOVE. You should feel amazing in everything you wear. When you schedule a session, I send you inspiration for this to help you choose…
Bring a hype girl! Who can also help with outfit changes and makeup touch ups…. We all need a hype girl!
Select an epic location! We can do this together. Pick somewhere that’s you! If you’re a beach babe, then let’s go to the beach!
Pick a photographer who represents your style!
Print your photos! Don’t let them live on the World Wide Web! Let me make a beautiful album with all your favorites for you!
Don’t settle for wardrobe you don’t feel amazing in!
Don’t let your bff do your makeup unless she understands makeup for photography.
Don’t bring your whole family or your boyfriend along. Only bring people to your session who can make you feel confident and help you have fun! If that is your boyfriend and family, then bring them, if not, I’ll be your hype girl!
Don’t bring too many wardrobe changes that take up more time than you have. 3 changes for a regular session is great, or you can add time to accommodate more changes!
Don’t wear heavy eyeliner, it can look like dark shadows around your eyes and that’s expensive to fix in editing.
When you schedule a senior session with me, I’ll send you lot’s of info to help you prepare. Wardrobe Inspo, hair and makeup referrals, and more… If you’d like to schedule a session or find out more… Follow the link!
Some say don’t pose, just let it all happen organically. Well actually, there’s nothing organic about a camera and a stranger in your face so, I say, both!
When I’m with clients photographing families, children, seniors, couples.. I’m shooting for more than just the client. The client likely has a grandma, a mom, an auntie, a future self… While wind blown hair and big laughs are full of life and natural, Your grandma doesn’t always want that on her wall and your yearbook requirements are likely a bit different. So I’ve made it a priority to pose some and direct organic moments all at the same time.
A timeless portrait with eye contact and smiles is a unicorn photo when you have small kiddos but it’s not impossible. It’s what I start with and then I let moments unfold. When your toddler waddles away and begins to explore, I’m tagging along, capturing chubby hands in the grass and little feet in the sand. When your sweet baby girl reaches up to be held, I’m capturing daddy lifting her up and giving her a little toss in the air to cheer her up. Dads are good for that. When you bend down to discipline your 5 yearly for not listening during family photos, I’m shooting your hands on his face and your eyes locked on each other. You have no idea but I’m grabbing all the moments in between the ones I set up. I’m also setting scenes with easy instruction. Kiddos, do what you do, run as fast as you can to daddy and then tickle him! Or 12 year old, hug your mom and hold her for a minute. While you’re there, tell her thank you for being awesome and promise you’ll never get a girl friend;) If a sweet moment + laughs unfold,I’m high speed shooting all of it!
So If I tell you to stand in a way and look at the camera but then it all falls apart, that is ok! I’m there for it. The moments you think are wasted and no good, I’m finding the memories.
Get the scoop on planning outfits for your photo session. With tips, recommended color palettes and wardrobe inspiration, you’ll learn how to style your family with flair. This is how you’ll take the look of your session to another level.
I’ve been at this business for 10 years. It’s the very thing that lets me provide for my 4 children as a single mom. I know what it’s like to feel inadequate and overwhelmed. Your business should be a boost to your income and your confidence level and yet, at the beginning, that idea can feel like a far-fetched dream. Let me show you the ropes with real talk, perspective and discerning advice. You’ll leave inspired and informed.