My darling little sister in law, Olivia Joy, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill last month and we are just so proud of her! She asked me to take some grad photos for her and her friend Chrissy and we had a b l a s t. It was so fun frolicking around campus, racing all the other grads and their photographers to the best spots! We wrapped up the session with a visit to YoPo (The Yogurt Pump) and then Olivia and I had dinner and a grand ole time was had by all. These girls were so fun to shoot. Thanks for having me, the best is yet to come!
It’s summer break! And by ‘summer break’ I mean, the first of about 10 days that I have off before my summer class starts. Let the good times roll!
I’ve been wanting to get back into writing, because truthfully: I love it. It is my first love, true and true, and also my instagram handle is “kellieblogs” and I haven’t blogged in a hot minute. I constantly have words bubbling inside me and occasionally they boil over into halfway finished blog posts in the Notes app on my phone, but it’s time I keep going. Instead of spending my days wondering if I should just change my Insta Handle, I’m gonna take those minutes and just write something down. It doesn’t have to be anything good, just gonna write it down. I know that’s probably very exciting for all of you readers. Mediocre content, yay! Ha!
My friend Lauren sent me this back in April and I LOLed. The 100 Day Project. There was NO WAY I could add that to my to do lists of life at the time, but it has hung with me and I have loved seeing her 100 Days of Painting on her instagram. After much going back and forth, I decided I’m doing it. No, it’s not April 3rd, but it’s a good day to start.
One post every day between now and September 13. LET’S GET GOING!
Mother’s Day had me all nostalgic for this baby’s birth day and I got to see these friends in real life earlier this week and snuggle this bean, and I just can’t help but marvel at what a gift he is. Stephanie and I have been photo swapping for years, and you may remember Steph & Ben’s Everyday Session a little over a year ago. Stephanie and her husband struggled with infertility for years leading up to Benjamin’s birth in 2014 and then again two years ago when trying for baby number two. She had come to terms with the fact that she would be a mom of one, gave away all their baby things and stepped into her new role as part stay at home mom and part small business owner. It was Mother’s Day last year when she had a suspicion she may be pregnant and got a positive pregnancy test at home. This was a true miracle, as they had stopped fertility treatments months earlier, and the fact that it was on Mother’s Day was just beautiful. I love when God does stuff like that.
Fastforward to December, she had a scheduled repeat C-Section at 37 weeks to the day after being diagnosed with pre-eclampisa for the second time, and her sweet baby boy Isaac Nathan was born healthy, strong and to the sound of Christmas music. He brings us laughter. He truly does, I saw him a few days ago and the kid is the happiest, chillest baby I have ever seen. Cannot help but smiling and chuckling with joy when you make eye contact with that guy!
I had the complete honor of documenting those first sweet hours of baby Isaac’s life and to get photos of him meeting his big brother and grandparents for the first time. Fresh 48’s offer such a sweet relaxed time for mom and dad to be fully present in the moment without worrying about getting their own photos. It’s such a joy to serve in this way and watch my friends’ lives change in an instant. Such an honor. Happy Mother’s Day to one of the bravest, strongest, hardest working, realest moms I know. Your boys (all three of them are blessed to have you.
On a joyful day in November, my warrior of a friend left me the best kind of voicemail. She was heading to the hospital to get ready to welcome her third boy.
She and I have been almost hilariously staggering our pregnancies for the past four years, seemingly getting pregnant pretty soon after the other gives birth which has created the most spectacular exchange of sleep deprived text message exchanges and pajama hangs with feeding babies, cleaning up boogers and changing diapers. Nothing like having someone in the trenches with you.
During my first labor she became in an incredible source of text encouragement which took our budding acquaintanceship and was the beginning of what blossomed into a full blow sisterfriendship. I adore this woman and it was a complete honor to photograph the joyous day of welcoming Shiloh to the world.
This was her second vbac and I hope the photos communicate what a calm, zen labor it was until it was time. She labored fiercely and calmly, and then suddenly took a knee, water broke and baby boy was born quickly! The midwife rushed in, had just enough time to lay some blankets on the floor and catch him. It was amazing. I screamed with joy. This girl is strong, fierce, talented, creative, loving and an incredible mom and friend. I adore her.
Welcome to the world, baby Shi. We are so glad you are here!
About 10 days left of my social media break and I am loving it. Loving it, I say!
I didn’t realize how noisy it was in my head until it was quiet. And I like the quiet.
If you’re just tuning in– I just decided to quit social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) cold turkey for the month of February for a myriad of reasons that I have not fully shared. Ultimately: best thing I’ve done in a while.
I didn’t realize how second nature and mindless the scroll and read had become until I didn’t have anywhere to scroll and read. My first instinct was to replace it with something else, and I did for a while. Websites, articles and a dumb game on my phone while I fed the baby or killed time and then I started testing out this thing called nothing. I’d sit in silence and just think. Or pray. Or just take it all in. The sights, sounds and feels of the moment. I realized that by taking photos constantly, uploading them and sharing them, I was desperately trying to save them for later. I was procrastinating on the moment. What if I just used both my eyes, both my thumbs by my side and just see the moment and live it fully? Isn’t that kind of the same as keeping it? There have been a few sweet brother sister embraces, funny things seen out and about, and pretty meals that have remained undocumented and I guess I’ll be okay.
So, the verdict is, that much like gluten, dairy and refined sugar, I can tolerate Facebook, Instagram and Etcetera in extreme moderation. They are otherwise extremely harmful to my heart, soul and mind flora. I have no idea how I am going to go about reintroducing these things back into my life, but I will, I’m sure. Probably fail miserably like The Whole 24 of 2012 (day 25 held a dessert buffet) but I am definitely learning a ton. Also, I’ve done some fun things in addition to keeping my family somewhat alive and well during a few weeks of back to back sickness.
- Started listening to audio books (completed two!)
- rekindled the love of some music — The Temper Trap, older Elevation Worship, Veggie Tales…to name a few.
- learned how to play a few chords and songs on the Ukulele
- Had some serious fun with my kids, including an all day pajama party that took a midday field trip to Whole Foods (during which Lincoln peed his pants, but YOLO)
- watched almost all of Parks and Recreation and developed a weird love obsession for Amy Poehler (just finished her audio book “Yes Please” today, actually…) and learned way too much about her life.
- completed almost all of the prep work for my Powersheets (Haven’t you heard?! March 1st is the new September 1st (new January 1st)).
- blogged…. a lot.
All in all– do it. A social media break. You will not regret it!
You guys! It’s been almost two years exactly that I’ve been making magic with my girl Tracy. Two years ago we were both Spanish teachers at the same school and now she is full time Lularoe/Styling and I am full time teachering at home and momming and shooting. SO MUCH LIFE on those two years, and can’t imagine not shooting with her all the time! Fast five, coming at ya!
ONE: I do love Lularoe leggings and I cannot lie. I wore my black ones up until my precious baby was born at 41 weeks and 2 days and they were comfy as heck!
TWO: Tracy is the real deal. She is gorgeous, so fun to photograph and always up for an adventure. We will stand outside and take photos in 20º weather and laugh our butts off.
THREE: Tracy could get dressed in the dark and come out looking way cuter than I do most days getting dressed when the sun is way way up. Her ability to style and visualize clothes with each other and accessories is incredible. A true spiritual gift.
FOUR: She encourages me to GET AFTER IT. She gives me the best pep talks and her encouraging words hang with me and give me fuel to GO GO GO when everything points to stopping.
FIVE: We are different in a lot of ways but our creativity is on the same wavelength and I LOVE working with her and creating fun, colorful and exciting images for her business. Check her out at http://tracyvazquez.com/ and her amazing styling magic! Her mission is ON POINT. She truly does inspire me to be who God made ME to be: Kellie.
Here’s some favorites from our work together for the past two years. We are JUST getting started! SO many fun things coming this year for us. INSERT BEYONCÉ HAIR FLIP GIF HERE.
PS: I always love to collaborate with bloggers to get y’all high quality photographs to support your high quality content. Check out my “blogs & brands” page and let’s get together! Seriously I have one million ideas. Let’s do it. Something fun.
With a blog it’s tempting to wait until any difficulties have passed to write about them. It’s nice to wrap the past troubles up in a blog post and tie a bow on top while proclaiming “this is what happened and here’s what I learned!”. After stumbling upon Helen’s very honest and vulnerable blog about her journey with mamahood and eczema, I felt compelled to share my own. Finding her “me too” was like finding GOLD. It was healing balm to my soul to find at least one other heart on this planet that shared the same struggles and fears as me. I often feel very alone in my Eczema Mama journey. It’s so unique, so severe and so lonely at times. I figured it was time for me to share while I’m in the middle, because I know FOR SURE there is another mama out there like me. I hope you find this, girl.
We are gonna make it through this. You know how I know? I did it once already. This is how the story ends: WE WIN.
I found Helen’s blog by searching “Dupixent success stories”. My amazing dermatological team has been recommending this new drug to me and after this big flare that has lasted several weeks now, I’ve finally ordered it. It is basically the opposite of everything that got me through last time. Last time I stopped breastfeeding, went strict Autoimmune Paleo, and within a month I was almost completely clear. And it was fine! (PS: to see how Dupixent works click here… it’s cool)
The problem I’m running into this time is that eating for eczema is the ultimate metaphor for a works based religion: you have no idea how much you have to do before it works and you’ve achieved salvation. It takes time, and I don’t have time. This is NOW. This is my kids’ childhood and while I’m taking lots of pictures, singing songs and snuggling I am missing quite a bit. I wake up most mornings these days unable to extend and bend my arms without intense pain. I can’t get my hands wet, so I can’t give the kids a bath. I would basically saw my arms off for a chance to sit in a hot shower and cry out all the regular frustrations of new motherhood, but a hot shower is basically a guarantee that I’ll be miserable and immobile for the next three days. And speaking of crying, I basically have the ultimate Raccoon eye mask of eczema around my eyes, and salt water tears? Literal salt in the wound. Crying makes it worse, so crying I do not. I just want a good cry.
So, after some gentle coaxing and absolutely no pressure from my dermatologist friends and husband (they know me so well– the slightest bit of you should do this will make me NOT do it immediately) I have reached my pain threshold and decided to give Dupixent a yes. My Best Yes. As Lysa taught me, a yes is always a no to something else. So, the big No is breastfeeding. Which, first time mom me was relieved to say goodbye to. I stopped breastfeeding Lincoln when he was around 8 months old and it was hands down the best choice for our family at the time, but second time mom me is having a harder time with closing this chapter. Emmeline is our last biological baby (we’ve always talked about fostering or adopting, but that is just a twinkle in our eye..) and I am struggling with closing the chapter on the babymaking days and all the wonder and magic and dreaminess of it all. These are the days I dreamed about, you know? So much of her story has been so redemptive to me. My pregnancy, birth and even breastfeeding went so much smoother and was just so joy-filled, that I just really don’t ever want it to end. Alas, reality has reared it’s ugly, red, itchy face and I must return from my visit to the stars. It’s taken a few weeks, quite a bit of bartering with God, waiting-and-seeing, crying and bottle and paci hunting, but the time has come. My healing will be arriving on Wednesday on a Refrigerated White Horse requiring a signature and my big, sad No will lead way to a bunch of Yeses that I haven’t said in years. I’ll be saying yes to some of these things without fear for my skin to retaliate. Cannot wait. Also, I have not even considered that this treatment will not work for me so, please pray with me that it will.
short sleeves, bathing my kids, a long hot shower, wearing mascara, wearing my wedding rings, swimming in the summer, sweating, exercising, hairspray for my crazy baby hairs, pimento cheese, pet my dogs, wash dishes, hold hands with people at church, paint my nails, try new foods, wear my hair down, use regular soap in public bathrooms, bend and extend my arms fully, scratch without fear, get a pedicure, get a massage, get a haircut, get ice cream?!, eat at the State Fair, wear sunscreen, snuggle sweaty sleeping babies, clean the bathroom, holding my camera with whole fingers without cracks, epsom salt baths to relax (not out of necessity), sleeping all night, UV rays from the sun, walks outside, crying while watching a movie
Last week I set up some self portraits of me and my sweet girl in our special place. As deep as the pain goes, the joy goes just as high– and that chair has been the place for it all. Snuggled her brother in that chair when she was barely a blueberry in my belly. He told me she was a “sister” weeks before we really knew. Those early baby piranha nursing days. Cluster feeds from 6-10pm for what seemed like months. The time she pooped on the wall. Rocking a stuffy baby to sleep, and many sleepy snuggles to come (she just doesn’t know it yet). That chair is holy ground.
I stumbled upon a few eczema hashtags on Instagram recently and wanted to contribute. Most of the images were expressionless faces, and I thought I’d mix it up a bit with a smile. This disease is the absolute pits. A slow torture and an unpredictable thief. But here’s the thing, it’s not anything we did or that we didn’t do. It just is what it is, and it’s up to us to choose joy. We just gotta. I hadn’t really realized how bad it had gotten because my brain just stopped feeling it. All my fingers were cracked, open wounds around and I legit didn’t feel them. I’d avoided mirrors for a few days and not really made eye contact with myself. When I looked at these photos on the back of my camera I remember hearing a sob and realizing it was my own. It was like looking at someone else’s diseased body.
I’ve never been particularly attached my appearance. I’ve always been one to choose comfort over style, sleep over a shower, money in my pocket over a haircut or makeup… so while I would definitely prefer to not wake up disfigured or oozing some mornings, I’ve adjusted to the no-make-up and one hair wash a week lifestyle just fine. Now that I’m a girl mama, I’ve been kind of worried about how I’ll teach her to do her hair (I need to take a class, for real) or make up or dress or other girly things, but I hope she looks at these pictures in her teens, twenties or even when she’s thirty like me and see that beauty is so much more than skin deep. Yes, daughter, we should shower. But also, your face isn’t everything. Your soul matters, your heart matters and also, being funny matters (please be funny, my little girl!).
These are some of my favorite pictures of she and I to date. Strangely enough, I’m at a loss for words to describe why. Behold, he is doing a new thing. Same disease on me, but a new thing in me, for sure.
Day seven of my social media fast thing and it’s been SO INTERESTING. I haven’t spent a moment of my adult life without social media, period. Nearly every place I have been since graduating college had a high speed connection and my thumbs took advantage. This includes a 12 hour bus ride in Peru and rest stops in Costa Rica.
So, now I have all these thoughts and nowhere to put them and it’s possible that my husband and three year old are tired of hearing me talk. Although Lincoln’s “wow! That’s so cool, mommy!” sounds really convincing so that makes me feel better since like 90% of the time I say that to him I am not listening and/or have no idea what he’s talking about. But maybe he really thinks I think he’s cool! Hashtag: three. Hashtag: my finger pockets are so big mommy! Hashtag: wow that’s so cool, buddy! Hashtag: but really, wut?
I figured since I have all these extra fringe minutes, I could do some things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t made time for in the past. Not big things, but little ones. Like listening to books that I will most likely never ever make time to read (if I am laying or sitting down and not working, I am not reading, I am ASLEEP). I’ve been trying to get on the audiobook wagon for a while, but am totally suspicious of those services that charge you every month. I thought about trying Audible for free, but I always forget to cancel things before they charge me or whatever and I just end up feeling like a sucker.
Enter: THE PUBLIC LIBRARY. They have audio books! And not just cassette tapes hanging up in zip loc baggies like they did in 1991– they have them ONLINE. And you can listen to them. For. Free.
I just finished listening to Jen Hatmaker’s “For The Love”. It’s been on my “to read” list for like a year. And I read it. Well, I “read” it. And it was so good it had me Amening and sending up praise hands while I drove, cooked dinner and folded laundry. It was so good, I might listen again. Jen reads it so it’s basically an 8 hour long episode of her podcast which I also love.
So here’s the deal with the audio book thing. You download the app, Libby, find your library and put your library card info in and start checking out audio books. They only have a few copies of each and there can be quite a waitlist (I’m number 1,237 for a Brené Brown book currently) which I don’t fully understand for audio books, but once it’s your turn it downloads it to your app and sends you an email and lets you know it’s on your shelf. BAM.
After hanging out with Jen for 8 hours in the past few days I figured I’d check out her website and blog and home girl only blogged two times in the past year. Sure, she’s been writing books, touring and raising five kids or whatever but that was like a huge confidence boost for me. If Jen Hatmaker, a professional writer person doesn’t blog regularly… then I am totally off the hook*. G’Bye. Also, she writes like I think with lots of dramatic punctuation and capital letters. WHENEVER SHE FEELS LIKE IT. I dig it.
*as in, a totally self imposed, nonexistent hook that I really don’t care about or take too seriously.
So, I kind of miss social media but mostly I miss seeing pictures and videos of my friends’ kids. Which is a good excuse to text them and say hi. I also miss sharing pictures of my cute kids, so if you get a random text with pictures of my kids in it and no explanation— it’s just I CAN’T EVEN.
So what’s new here? Not much really, except we survived and conquered a throw up stomach bug (y’all know I’m telling you throw up so you didn’t think we all just had the runs… ) from Sunday morning to Tuesday night like a family of bosses. Probably one of my new core memories of motherhood is nursing the baby in her room trying not to touch her in clothes that I’m fairly certain have her brother’s puke on them after trying to teach him how to puke in a trash can every twenty minutes all night long. Four for four, the bug got us. And I got a fresh batch of positivity and despite the sights and sounds, I enjoyed the family time and breaking some rules like watching movies for like 24 hours straight and unlimited applesauce pouches. Basically I was able to parent like I always want to, but don’t. TV all day and no food preparation. It was a dream. Minus the puking and staying up all night of course. Unrelated: we probably won’t be having anyone over until we rebuild our house after it burns to the ground because germs. Also, Tuesday I finally got my monthly package in the mail from Young Living with my Thieves oil in it. You know, the one that kills germs and keeps you from getting sick? Too little, too late YL. Too late.
Maybe it’s the audio books, the fact I’m not feeling sick anymore or that I found a paci that Emmeline will take, but WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. Keep on, friends. Keep on!
February 1st, welcome welcome! January was my self-proclaimed Sabbath Month and I completely let go of all self-imposed expectations to do anything above the bare minimum. The bare minimum was basically keep family alive, feed them and clothe them and whatnot. All were fed and clothed, although the degrees of healthiness and cleanliness varied. It was truly wonderful, though. A great break from everything and a good time for me to really listen to my inside dialogue and get down to the nitty gritty of what I want the rest of my year to look like and what God is teaching me. I’m powering through the Powersheets still and have quite a bit left to do before I actually set my goals for the month, but God has given be a great bit of clarity about what really matters and for me, in this season it is NOT deadlines. Especially arbitrary ones like “firsts” or “lasts”.
As I’ve posted on Facebook and Instagram (I deleted Twitter several months ago) I’m taking the whole month of February off from those accounts for so many reasons. Mostly, I’m not really an “in moderation” kind of person. I’m what Gretchen Rubin refers to as an “Abstainer” so if I need to cut back on something I just cut it out and that’s easier for me. This year my word is discipline and I’d like to work on being disciplined in that way– being able to eat some dairy, some sugar, spend some time on social media, but staying present and aware of what my mind and body are doing, ya know? It’s easy for me to just operate on muscle memory and suddenly find my phone in my hand with my thumb hovering over where Instagram used to be. Ya feel me? I kind of hate buzz words, but I really do want to be intentional about the way I am spending my time– just in the way we budget by giving Every Dollar (heyo, Dave Ramsey fans) a job, I want to do the same with my minutes and hours, days and weeks. A time for everything and everything in time. Nothing wasted, not sitting looking at my huge kids wondering where the time went and having to rely on social media to show me what I missed while I was trying to document it! Crazy right? So, starting with all or nothing before I reset with boundaries.
So, is a blog a social media tool? Maybe. Probably. But whatever. This blog is one of those things that I’m always like “oh if I had more time I’d write like I used to” and I suspect that social media was taking up more time than I thought because its 12:06PM at the moment and today I have:
- cleaned and vacuumed the playroom
- used the potty twice
- consumed one liter of water
- made 2 dozen paleo pumpkin muffins with Lincoln while Emmeline napped
- fed myself and both kids, 2 meals and a snack (actually make that like 4 snacks for Emmeline)
- posted announcements for the day, graded all the student work and got all my work inboxes down to zero
- written this post
I think I found all those minutes I was looking for.
You know how they say September 1st is the new January 1st? Well October 1st (okay, 2nd) is the new September 1st (new January 1st) for working moms of two small kids named Kellie.
So here’s my goals for the month:
- Whole 30. I am obnoxiously posting this on the internet for accountability. Normally I’m pretty private about stuff like this, but I’ve been halfheartedly trying to eat totally paleo for the past five months but kept falling face first into gluten free bagels with grassfed butter. So here we are. Follow me at @kellieblogs for the full scoop, meal and snack posts overload. Doing this for several reasons, but really I don’t need to justify to anyone why it’s a good idea to eat less (no) white crack sugar and more vegetables. But I’ll blog about it later this month.
- Say no to some things, no matter how fun they look.
- Establish some work rhythms. I’m still living day-to-day and really need to get some solid rhythms going and schedule out some batch task days.
- walk two days a week outside in the fall air
- work out at least once (yep, at least once in the whole month)
- make my eczema go away
- make Emmeline sleep through the night and nap during the day
- schedule all my announcements for the rest of the semester
- make all my students and parents join my Remind group and message me only there so I only have to check one thing
- tolerate dairy (namely in the form of cheesecake)
- fold all my clothes
- put all my clothes away
- wish for more wishes, etc.