Kelli is an extremely talented individual. She is an illustrator, a children’s designer (Rylee & Cru), a mother, a wife and a friend. I’ve been lucky to get to know her this past year and work with her. Plus she has a daughter named Rylee and my angel baby is named Rylee! Going into her home and being able to photograph her sweet family was pretty awesome.
Here is Kelli’s response to my question: What was your best day?
My best day. It’s near impossible to choose one….because there are three that together rank at the very top of my list. And they are the most cliche, but I’d be lying if I told you that any day was greater or more meaningful. The first is when I married my husband, Sam. I was never the girl that grew up dreaming of her wedding day. I knew I wanted a husband and a family one day….but it was always that, one day. I set my mind on my career and personal goals and there was nothing or no one stopping me. But when I met Sam at 24, I fell hard. I quickly realized that he was the man that God set out for me. He made me a better person. He helped me to see outside of myself. He encouraged me in my strengths, and challenged me where I fell short. And mostly, he loved me. I remember walking down the aisle with my dad. Looking up at him, with tears in both of our eyes, letting the significance of that moment sink in. And then looking around to see all the faces of every person I have ever loved or cared about, together, celebrating that moment with me. I’ve never felt more loved and supported than I did that day. I’m not sure any other party will top that one for as long as we live!
The next best day was the day my daughter Rylee was born. She was our “whoops!” on our one year anniversary, to the day! The several months prior to her conception were some of the hardest of my life. I was struggling with my health and not finding the answers I needed. After months and months of visiting more doctors than I can remember, I finally found one that diagnosed me with severe food allergies and an immune function that was nearly shut down. I went on a drastic diet of gross tasting shakes and over 20 herbal pills a day with the hopes of rebooting my system and gaining my health back, my life really. As I was just getting used to this new lifestyle change (and still not yet feeling it’s benefits) is when I realized I was pregnant. I started crying when I saw the two blue lines slowly appear in the bathroom stall. Mostly out of fear, not knowing how this messed up body of mine could sustain a healthy baby, when I felt like I could barely make it each day on my own. I call Rylee my miracle baby because I truly feel like she was a miracle in my life. As 6 weeks turned into 12, turned into 20, I found my strength coming back. I was ravenously hungry, ALL the time (just ask my husband), and I soon realized that the foods that once made me so sick, no longer affected me. Somehow in the process of growing this child, my body was healed. Let’s just say, pizza never tasted so good. Rylee decided to come at lightening speed. 3 hours and 2 pushes later I was holding this perfect screaming healthy baby girl in my arms. Overwhelmed by God’s goodness and grace in my life, and feeling so privileged to be her mother. It was an experience I will never forget. And then three years later, on the NEXT best day, my son Cru was born….and I got to experience that same joy all over again!
Meet Joy Cho. I have long admired Joy for not only her drive and passion in business, but she is also a mother of two who makes time for the important things, family. You probably know her for her book, Oh Joy!: 60 Ways to Create & Give Joy or maybe one of her 13 million followers on Pinterest. But if you don’t know Joy, then here’s your chance to see a glimpse of her behind the brand. When I was thinking of individuals that I wanted to feature, I was hoping Joy would want to. So when I reached out and she said yes, I was elated! We met in her studio in LA and I quickly fell in love with how sweet and kind and beautiful she is.
It’s tough to choose only one! Personally, the tops include the day I got married and the two days my kids were born. I’d say if I had to choose only one, it would be the day my 2nd daughter, Coco, was born. 2014 was a big year both personally and professionally. Professionally, I had launched my biggest product collaboration yet with Target, and we had just finished working on the Oh Joy book when I went into labor with Coco. After having been ordered on bed rest at 34 weeks (the doctor said I was working too much!), being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and trying to do my best to work from bed while attempting to rest and keep my baby in there till term, we finally made it to 38 weeks before she decided to arrive two weeks early. Her arrival marked the icing on the cake of what had been a great year and that day was truly the best because that’s when we knew our family was complete.
In the beginning, this project was more for me personally. I was interested in getting to know these beautiful people I admire from a different perspective…not just the picture I capture. And then, it evolved in to something even more than I could have hoped and I would be selfish not to share it with all of you.
For each individual I spotlight, I’ve asked them to answer what sounds like an easy question…”what was your best day?” However what I’m realizing is that it has meant each of them having to dig a bit deeper than any of the easy answers. I have been and continue to be inspired by this journey and I’m hoping each of you will feel the same.
I want to introduce you to Brooke White. When I first met Brooke, just over 3 years ago, I was instantly drawn to her beautiful smile, her loving and kind personality and the way she makes you feel like you’re her best friend, even after 5 minutes. She stands up for what she believes in. She has a heart of gold and she loves life. And she even welcomed me to her home with homemade cupcakes.
“It may seem like I’m stating the obvious when I say that the day my londy loo was born was the best day of my life. Duh right? But, I made a list of other best days: that day my grandpa Gary gave me a brand new typewriter, when my parents brought home a newborn baby brother from the hospital the day before Christmas Eve when I was 11, wandering the cobblestone streets of London in 2010 and bought my first and last bottle of fine parfum, the most magical Fourth of July watching fireworks from a boat, or the time my biggest idol, the Carole King wandered into the Apple Store where my band was playing and stayed to listen till the second to last song, or coming up through the stage on a grand piano in the Wachovia arena in Philadelphia to a sold out crowd in the exact arena where a less than confident me had waited over 21 hours in the nosebleeds to sing for a chance at that golden ticket to be on idol, exactly one year earlier…
And the list would have to include the day I married Dave Ray in the temple and particularly the reception we had in the big backyard of my small childhood home where we danced with everyone we loved. All great big blessed days. Epic even.
But, if I had to choose just one, hands down, it be the day I held London June Ray for the first time. I wrote a song about it… “I’ve been so many places, got to live out all my dreams… But nothing on this earth compares to your birth and the first time I saw your face”. Nothing. We’d been married for 8 complicated confusing non-stop years and NEVER dreamed we had to wait that long for that day. She was our sweetest surprise. She was an intervention, she was a healer and the greatest love we’d ever known and felt. I remember my body shaking in the bed hours before her delivery. I’d had an epidural and didn’t expect to feel a thing. But my body felt like a living earthquake, shifting and shaking to make space for her to make her way into the world. It hurt. I cried. I was scared. The nine months leading up to that moment were somewhat of an emotional earthquake, preparing me to make space, shifting and shaking, pieces of my life that we’re drifting and sinking. It hurt, I cried, I was scared. I KNEW I’d love her more than anything but I knew everything was changing. Change is a good very hard thing. When it was time to push, it took about 20 minutes. My mom, sister and Dave at my side, my dad just outside the curtain cheering me on. The doctor asked me to tell her the story of how Dave and I met in between the pushes. Seemed like a good time. Haha. Mid story I felt the urge to give a hard painful push. The doctor said “she has lots of hair!”. That’s when I lost it, I cried. Hair! I gave one last push and there she was, goopy and gross and 8 pounds 12 ounces of perfect. They instantly laid her on my chest and I have never felt so high. I could have licked her clean like a mama lion. I held her close. I held her up “I’m your mom, I’m your mom, I’m your mom! “I told her over and over. I laughed and couldn’t believe my eyes. She was mine. I remember thinking “I don’t care about my job”. All that other stuff that I worried about. The sacrifices. Those other pieces of me that if spent so long putting together. Whatever. I had the whole world in my hands. Literally. She was this tiny but enormous new land, a promised land. All I ever wanted but felt like I would never reach. But so worth the longest journey. The days that would follow were some of the hardest physically. Nursing was a long-suffering painful act of patience, sleep was a distant memory, and life threw me an unexpected curveball. I existed in a dense fog. But she was my light, it was that love, that day that carried me through it all. It was my Loo. She is my best day.”
I threw something together that was simple and easy for Sloane’s 3rd birthday. All she really kept asking me for was a cake. So I asked Tess to make a funfetti cake and it was delicious! I had all the cacti plants around my house and then I attempted to make Alison’s sugar cookies from her class. I need a lot more practice with the royal frosting, but at least they tasted good. The balloons were sent to me by Northstar Balloons and they were the perfect size and so fun to use. Pretty sure sis felt special and celebrated. We sure love this little girl of ours!
Recently I was hired by Mini Style Blog as a lifestyle contributor and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with such a great team. This particular shoot was for Anthem of the Ants and SoYoung. Getting to work with children’s brands is a lot of fun because I get to work with my own sweet daughter, Sloane. Here she is with her little friend Elena.
A few months ago I was contacted by Le Petit Organic, a unique children’s boutique based in New York, to photograph the new Spring and Summer 2015 lines for a few of the brands they carry. It was wonderful to work with them and the little models I was able to get were perfect. Here are a few of the images.