birth, fresh48, Uncategorized

Isaac | fresh48

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.

Uncategorized

Shi // Birth

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!

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blogs & brands, Uncategorized

Two Years with Lularoe Tracy Vazquez

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.

 

photography

Isabela | shop

Last month I had the pleasure of taking some photos for sweet Isabela — one of the bravest teenage girls I have ever met! She is heading off to Hillsong College in just a few weeks (that’s right, in Australia!) and has set up an online shop to sell a lot of her clothes to help her 1) downsize before moving down under and 2) have a little extra pocket money for the journey. Homegirl is incredible and has been busting it working three jobs since she graduated high school in June to raise all the money she needs for college and it was an honor to spend time with her and take photos too! She is truly incredible. Super gorgeous too, inside and out. I vividly remember being in that season of life, so much unknown and excitement (and for me, definitely some fear!). Incredible things are ahead for you, Bela girl! Check out her Instagram shop here: https://www.instagram.com/therareandthebeautiful/

birth, photography

Abram | birth

I could write volumes about this day and what it meant to me personally, but all that pales in comparison to the bigger story here– Abram was born!

I met Mary in September of 2015. The week after we started going to Elevation I joined an eGroup and Mary was there. She is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, so genuine and has one of the most thoughtful and kind spirits. Against all odds and busy-ness of life and her move out of Raleigh, we have kept in touch and seen each other off and on at church things. I talked to her this summer, still flying high from my own birth at Baby & Company in Cary, and asked her if she would be interested in free birth photography. Anyone that does “birth work” can tell you– birth is on another level. Once you experience it, personally or even just being present, you can’t quit! It’s truly a spiritual experience. Ever since my own birth I started to feel a little flame ignite in my soul that maybe, just maybe, birth photography was something I wanted to do. You know, like as a job. Or at least a serious hobby.

Fast-forward to October 11, 2017 and I missed a phone call a 3am. I was asleep (rare, seeing as my own sweet baby does not actually always sleep at night…) and I heard CLEARLY as ever someone in my bedroom say: “Kellie.”

I opened my eyes, sat up and said “huh?!” and nobody replied. Marshall was asleep, as were the kids, and I looked at my phone to see what time it was and saw I had missed a call from Mary and had a text from her that she was at the birth center. Was it an angel  that said my name? I think so. (YES. YES IT WAS.) But at this point you probably already think I’m a weirdo from my aforementioned spiel about birth being an addictive spiritual experience (and some of you are still unsure about this whole birth photo thing in general…), so I’m going to hold off on the “do angels exist?” convo and keep going with the birth story.

Any who, it was at the birth center where I welcomed my own babe a few months earlier that I watched sweet Mary labor and bring her sweet (and big!) baby boy earth side. I had this moment when I refilled her husband’s water bottle and filled up the ice bucket in their room to make some cool rags for Mary during transition that it hit me. Birth stories are the ultimate love story. Have you seen a husband love and serve his wife during labor? A midwife speak love, truth and encouragement to a laboring mom? A mom relying fully on her breath to sustain her, the very breath God breathed into us at creation? The brilliant design of birth and the incredible, tangible atmosphere that follows? It’s all love. An amazing picture of our father’s love for us.

I shouted out loud with joy and surprise when at 7:42am Abraham “Abram” entered the world weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces and at 20 inches long– the son of two of the bravest, strongest people I’ve ever met. It was an honor to witness and be part of this baby’s birth day! Thank you barely covers it!

 

Uncategorized

It’s In Your Hands, Black Lives Matter, and Comfort in The Church

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I typically avoid politics and related discussion, mostly because I big fat don’t care and I have no apologies for that. Relationships with people are more important to me than being right about something. I do not enjoy a spirited debate, in Facebook or real life. I research around election time, make my decisions, cast my vote (love rocking that 19th amendment, baby!) and I live my life the way I believe things should be lived. Voting is important, but the older I get the more I really believe the way that we live our lives daily is way more important than how we vote, where we identify politically or what we post to Facebook. Shocker, right? The way we speak to people, the way we treat strangers we meet at the grocery store, and the things we say in our heads about people when we see them are way more important. Those things start the shift. Simple words and thoughts are what start the movement.

So, me and diversity, in short(ish):

I grew up in Durham, I went to preschool through my senior year of high school with people that looked different from me and I never noticed. It was normal. It was so normal that it was a non-issue for me. Whenever people talked about racism I was sincerely puzzled, thinking it was a thing of the 1950s segregated days that we grew up learning about each February. I always had friends that were not white. It was not until I started college at a private women’s school in Raleigh that I noticed the absence of women of color. It was weird. I remember my freshman year finally making friends with a black girl and thinking how strange it was that I actually had to look for a friend that was different than me. Over time though, I became closer friends with the girls that lived near me or that were in classes with me and maintaining a racially diverse friend group became less of a priority. Before I knew it, I was graduated and working at a high school in rural North Carolina that literally had one black staff member that was not part of the custodial staff, and she was a teacher’s assistant. It was beyond bizarre to me. My second job literally had ZERO staff members at my campus that were not white until halfway through my second year. It was like living in a parallel universe. Both public schools, one in the country, one in the city, in 2010 and beyond– nearly completely white.

Once I started working at home and was knee deep in diapers, I really didn’t have any friends that weren’t middle class white moms. In June of 2015 when the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston happened, my world was rocked. It was so sad. It was so hard to believe that now, so far removed from the civil rights movement, that crap like that was still happening. Kind of the same way that it’s hard  for me to believe that people still smoke (helloooo didn’t you see that video in middle school health class that talked through the hole in her throat?) it’s hard for me to really believe that people truly think that they are superior to others just because their skin is white. It blows my mind that that kind of ignorance still exists and that it is a motivator for violence for people. Insane. It’s even more insane to me that a lot of these people associate themselves with my same Jesus. Completely insane.

As a middle class white lady teetering on the edge of my twenties, I don’t know what it’s like to be black. I don’t know what it’s like to be hispanic. I don’t know what it’s like to be anything than a white woman. I’ve had a few “out of my comfort zone” trips where I was a student in foreign country, but both times I was able to easily blend in with my European features (it wasn’t until I started speaking Spanish that people would get annoyed with my American-ness) but other than some sexist comments here or there, or people assuming that I’m racist because I’m white in various work or school situations I’ve not dealt with systematic discrimination or racism in my day to day life. I can really, truly only imagine what that is like. I can’t apologize for being white, much in the same way I can’t apologize for being American or a woman, or a Scorpio– it was one hundred percent out of my control. It just happened.

This sermon rocked me (Link: It’s In Your Hands, Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church June 21, 2015). I was a new mama, working at home, holding my brand new baby imagining what it would be like if we were black in today’s society and it broke my heart. This message was before we were going to Elevation Church, we started going there about a month later, actually. After listening to it, creating opportunities for our son to meet, grow, learn and live with people different from us became a top priority. A lot of our neighbors were black and we didn’t know their names. Most of our church family/our entire small group at the the time was white, and that needed to change for us. I literally could not name a single black person that I had spoken to more than once since Lincoln had been born or whose name I knew (other than friends from school on social media). That was 100% not okay for me. And so, we began looking for a new church. Not that our old church was bad in any way, or racist in any way, in fact they were 100% committed to missions and were very active in the discussion on diversity in the church. But for us, it was time for more than a discussion– it was time for action. Our baby was growing up and would soon be watching us. It was time for a change. And as ridiculous as it sounds to say out loud, it was time to be friends with some black people.

This is just one area where we felt we needed to change. I’m not saying we’re awesome for doing it. I’m not saying you’re racist because you’re not doing it. But I think it’s worth examining your level of comfort in your current church situation. Are you choosing your level of comfort over the level of impact your family could have?  Examine your life as your kids would see it. What conclusions would they come to about black people by the way you live your life in front of them? Are they normal people just like you? Or are they just people you see and pass in the grocery store? Do they see and interact with kids that are different from them on a regular basis? Do you seek out parks to play in “white” neighborhoods? What stereotypes have you accepted as the norm from your parents or your spouse or your culture? QUESTION THEM. Where do these stereotypes come from? Hate? Misunderstanding? Do they come from God? Are they biblical?

What is an area you can change in? It’s in your hands. Racism can end with our generation, it’s just up to us. I think even sometimes we get so fixated on sending and missions we neglect the implications of the great commission here: go and make disciples doesn’t necessarily mean move to China and convert all the people. What if it could mean, meet people here, be in relationships with them, grow with them in the Lord. Do black people live in your neighborhood? Cool, meet them. If they don’t, maybe you need to try a little harder to diversify your circle. Ever drive out of your way to go to Target or Starbucks? Same concept. If it’s worth it to you, you’ll make it happen. You have to make it worth it.

So, hey, Christians: Look at your life. Before you post on Facebook about whatever whatever whatever political whatever, look at your life. Are you living out what you believe or what you say you believe? When you post on Instagram #blacklivesmatter, are you living that? Are you teaching your kids with your relationships and your friends and your interactions with strangers in front of them that black lives matter? How can you live your daily life, outside of your “statement” on social media, that black lives truly matter? Or are you just being trendy and hashtagging and reposting and living your comfortable white life? How can you demonstrate love for your brothers and sisters in a real way?

And hey, Christians: is America the source from which your freedom comes or is it Jesus? Was it founding fathers that died on the cross for you or was it Jesus? Yeah. We have freedoms here that we wouldn’t have in other places in the world, but what is more important? Your freedom to offend people with your speech or the freedom and grace given to you by Jesus that you should be extending to others? It’s okay, and GREAT to be thankful and appreciative that we have the freedom and rights that we do but under no circumstances does our freedom of speech become an excuse to intentionally offend, hurt, or belittle others. That is not the message of Jesus in any way shape or form.

And hey, Christians. People can be so involved on social media that they feel like calling out those that are “silent”. Maybe those people aren’t silent because they are complicit to the racism and atrocious acts happening. Maybe they are “silent” on social media because they aren’t on their phones or their computers living their lives. Maybe they are out living and loving.

The cure isn’t a hashtag, or another Facebook post “discussion” or a viral graphic or video to be liked and shared. The cure is living it. Examine your life, make a change, live it up. (And also, watch this sermon even if sermons aren’t your thing– it will challenge your perspective on many things).

 

handpicked, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

Jessica + Kevin | maternity

In preparation for a sweet little newborn session this weekend, I realized I haven’t shared these beauties here just yet. This girl is one of the sweetest in the world. She was the Spanish and Technology teacher at the elementary school where I worked for two years before/while Lincoln was born before I had the honor of having that sweet job. I love looking at the giant web of how all that came to be.
I was teaching high school and I was burning out– fast. I was teaching three levels, coaching cheerleading (and driving an activity bus, y’all…), in charge of a couple clubs, doing course development online nights and weekends… I was ready to get outta there. I needed to sleep.  I wanted a change of pace in lower grades and had interviewed a few places, but none close enough to our house for me, so I premeditatedly called in sick to work one day to drive around and pass out résumés. I stopped by Meredith College to see one of my professors and she happened to mention in passing that an almost graduate had been offered a Spanish K-2 position but didn’t want it— WHAT?! –and it was at the school where my husband worked– WHAT?!? I promptly left that conversation, called my husband, who called the HR lady, who got my résumé moments later, and then I had an interview by Friday and was offered the job on the following Monday. Holy whirlwind.
Meanwhile, a recent Campbell grad was interviewing for HER dream job (my job, that I had resigned from without having another one lined up…). She is now teaching all the Spanish, coaching cheerleading and engaged to the basketball coach. Adorable and so happy.
Meanwhile, the Meredith grad that didn’t want the K-2 job  had also interviewed for a high school position that she wanted elsewhere and was waiting to hear back from there before she said “no” to the K-2 position. Spoiler alert: she got the high school job, worked it for several years and now lives  in Colombia happily ever after.
Meanwhile, Jessica had been trying to leave the Spanish K-2 position to go to a regular classroom position but the administrator wouldn’t let her until they found a replacement (me, excitedly since the Meredith Grad had recently turned it down).
What a crazy web of Spanish teachers and classroom dreams, huh? I had the joy of getting to know each of these girls individually during that season, and it was the coolest to see how it all unfolded and how we all ended up where we wanted and needed to be in that season. Ultimately, K-2 was a good job for me at that time, but really my heart of hearts is in momming my kids and the high school crowd. My sarcasm and wit was wasted on the K-2 demographic, although teaching them how to use iPads was and will continue to be a top five in my list of favorite life experiences. Those kids were amazing.
All that to say, I just love stories like this where it’s so clear. So, so, so clear that God’s hand is in this with us. He’s orchestrating and moving and introducing us to people that may change our lives forever, and in the midst of all that he really does have our interests, hopes and desires close to his heart, just like they are close to our own. It was a good lesson for me to never ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit, and to go out on a limb because you never know what crazy awesome plans require that first step– in my own life and potentially in someone else’s.
Jessica, it is an honor to know you and to have been your successor in the K-2 Spanish/Technology classroom! Your students, Kevin, and sweet Lyla Kate are so blessed to have you as their Mrs. Gray, wife and mama. So excited to photograph little LK this weekend!
These pictures are some of my all time favorites. It was a wintery, wintery cold gray day but we braved the birdwatchers at Yates Mill and I could not love these memories more. What a sweet time, preparing for the first baby! So thankful to be a part of their story.