Love, Sex and Boudoir... | Visalia California Boudoir Photography

Now that I'm divorced, I have this interesting perspective on love, sex, relationship... You know what they say about hind sight... There's a clarity to how I see those things now. I guess that happens when the emotions of it all are far removed. When you're, married, sex often becomes a chore that you rarely have time or energy for. We're quick to assume that our husband's needs will be there tomorrow or the next day. Today is just not the day, babe. Maybe next week.  And it's easy to take for granted that they're locked in for the long haul with us so showing up our best is optional. This may not represent all of us. But I've done a lot of listening and this is the story for many of us. You married him as one person but he's now married to another version. 

Here's some of my theories. I think we show up in our marriages half of a person because we are so busy taking care of people, giving birth, making meals..... we excuse ourself from being our own person and caring for our own needs. We allow ourself to get lost. No one asked us to do that. We do that. And then years later, we wake up, look in the mirror and dislike what we see. If that's not you, don't read this. If there's some truth to this for you then hear me out?

No one asked you to loose yourself to make everyone else's world go 'round. You did that. Which is good news. You can fix it. I did this in my marriage. It didn't turn out well for me. Where ever you went, you can find your self again. I'm speaking from experience. There's no one like you so if you're not being you, then you're missing. 

If you think you don't have to show up intimately in your marriage often, you should probably check his phone records... My therapist told me that so you can thank or blame him, depending on how you took it. I realize that there are unfortunate circumstances in some relationships that have to be worked through. I’m not talking about those. Healing in the area of intimacy is so so difficult and incredibly precious. I respect the process and this post isn’t about that.

Your husband loves you. Your husband needs you. Your husband wants you. Your "flaws" are not flaws to him. There just part of you. And I have a feeling you spend twenty thousand times more effort hating on and worrying about your body, your age, your wardrobe than he does... I think he might love your more than you love you. But, what if that changed? What would happen if that changed. Think about it. Stop reading this and think about what would change in your life... 

Now, what do you want to do about it? Do you want to put on some yoga pants and actually do yoga? Do you want to get a sitter and take your man on a date? Do you want to throw out every pair of worn undies you have and fill your drawers with pretty panties? Maybe buy a new bra from somewhere other than target and see how you feel. Do something to interrupt whatever isn't working. Loving yourself is loving your husband. Loving yourself is loving your kids. It is in no way selfish. If you got your hair done before you had kids. Why wouldn't you get your hair done after? I'm pretty sure your man goes to the barber still. 

I write all of this because I have been there and I believe there is something better for us. I believe that we can see ourself differently and change our relationships because of it. I believe that when our kids see us living in love, they thrive with joy and security. Maybe boudoir photography isn't the answer for you. Maybe it's a start. I can guarantee you this: A boudoir session with me will cause you to feel liberated, empowered and lovely. And I'm sure you already know how it will make your man feel. I think he'd feel cared for and considered. I think he'd feel loved and heard. I think it would jumpstart something really great in your marriage. Take some time and think about it. If you're intimidated by those extra 15 pounds, put your Nike's on and get to work. If you need a wax and a tan, I've got a girl. If you just need a friend with you, bring her. I'll bring the Champagne. Consider it. I'll be here when you're ready. 

Beauty is fleeting...

There's a conversation happening out there and I want to join to give my take. The topic is beauty and how every women is beautiful regardless of her body shape, size.... etc. I just don't think that's fully true. Before you blow a gasket and shame me, read on... 

Value and beauty are two very different things. I believe that every person holds value simply because they were created by a loving and intentional God. You held value even before you were conceived. I know this because God says He knew us before we were in our mother's womb. He took the time to know us and then give us a life and a family and a place in the world. That itself gives us value. We all posess it, even if we don't live according to it. Even if we live cheap. Even if we live low. We are of such great value that the price He paid for us was death. (I'm a Christian. This is my personal belief based on the Bible. You may see it otherwise. )

With that said, Beauty is different. I think there is the world's standard of beauty, there's the standard we make up in our head, and then there's true beauty. I'm not that interested in the world's standard. It's unrealistic, plastic, unattainable. And the one we make up in our head is usually influenced by the world and leads to comparison, highlighting all the ways we fall short of the photoshopped images we are inundated with. The beauty I'm interested in talking about is the truest one. The beauty that shines from the inside out. The beauty that is enhanced and radiates when we care for it, cherish it. I think the most beautiful people are the ones who are just as lovely inside as they are out. The ones who care for the body, mind and heart. The ones who smile with confidence and walk with grace. Those come in all shapes and sizes. What I don't think is beautiful is a girl who wants to feel lovely but doesn't want to love herself. The girl who envy's fit people but will not work out. The girl who feels insecure about herself but won't accept a compliment when it's given.

I love the current movement to empower women and celebrate beauty. But here's the thing; no garden tends to it's self. You're gonna have to care for your health to be and maintain beauty. It's a gift that isn't promised forever. It ages, it fades, it stretches... And when it does, what's left? 

So let's be honest. While there are sooooo many curvy beautiful women, soooo many 75 year old beautiful women, sooooo many dark skinned, light skinned, freckly skinned beautiful women out there, it's the women who take care of them self that shine. And like I said before, we all have value, but beauty is a gift that some of us care for and some of us don't. I want to celebrate the women who care and encourage the women who haven't figured out how to yet. Ultimately, loving our self is important. Where ever you rate your self on the beauty scale, just be sure to love your self. 

Raising Boys and Cleaning Up Their Pee...

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 Nurf 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. 

 

The Accident That Changed Us...

 

Recently my family went through a life altering experience that we are just coming out of only 4 months later... While I've never really shared what happened, I was covered in prayer, help, encouragements... people I didn't even know sincerely prayed for my family just because they decided to care. That's really huge if you think about it. We don't always choose to care for people, but so many did and I am thankful. Here's what happened…  

A truck hit their car. It rolled numerous times. Wedged on it's side between two light posts on Main Street, my kid's daddy raised them up and out of the car through the window which was now above their heads and busted open. I have terrible visions still of them suspended by their seat belts, just hanging there covered in fear and blood waiting to be saved. I'm shaking just typing this. I wasn't there but that's the picture I made up from the details the kids have shared with me. They said some people just stood there and watched. Some jumped in to help. To the lady who quickly grabbed a towel from her trunk and cleaned the blood off my sweet son's face and kept him calm while the others were getting lifted out of the car, THANK YOU. I wish I knew your name so I could hug you. 

The impact was on my daughter's door. It shattered the window glass into her face and forced the door into the car somehow thrashing her foot. The boys walked away with some scrapes and a traumatic experience that would stay with them for some time to come and poor Lily nearly lost her foot. Their dad is an EMT. He handled it, with all the fear and adrenaline, he handled it. I'm so thankful that it was him and not me. The moment I heard him tell the ER Doc that he, "put it all back in..." referencing Lily's foot, I was incredibly grateful that it wasn't me in that position. 

He called me from the ambulance and with panic in his voice ordered me to the ER. I didn't ask questions, I just flipped my car around and drove stupid fast to the hospital. This would also be the day I stopped nursing my 18 month old and our first night apart, we weren't ready for that. When I got to the hospital, the boys were separated from Lily and their dad, a nurse kept them company while they waited for me. As you can imagine, the second I walked in they exploded into tears and folded into my arms like limp noodles. In that moment they were babies again and never needed me more. It was in that moment that I remembered what I was made of. I've never been a mom more than that night.

We were in a busy hospital, first responders lingering everywhere to make sure we were all ok, doctors in and out, nurses poking, and checking, and monitoring... It was crazy chaos. All I could think to do was to take control of the atmosphere in the room so my boys would feel safe. I put my biggest smile on, tempered the mood of the room with distractions and juice boxes and held them tight until I could get in to see Lily. And then, I had to do it all over again. She was cut up, bloody, and her foot laid there exposed and dismantled. I couldn't look. I just held her. 

Most of the evening was made up of comforting my babies and quick trips to the bathroom to let my tears out and catch my breath. It ended with a 12am trip to Valley Children's in Fresno for surgery and a long stay. Lily's treatment continued with 2-3 trips each week to Valley Children's, additional surgeries and procedures and now 4 months later, she's out of the wheel chair running and dancing. It's an experience I'll never forget. I won't forget how I felt in my chest watching my daughter endure pain at levels I've taken epidurals for. I won't forget my boy's faces when I walked in the ER or the nights that followed when they had flashbacks and couldn't sleep. And I'll never forget how lucky we are that everyone is alive and well, every time I look at Lily's scars I'm thankful. 

Her foot will never be the same. She's had skin grafting so most of her foot looks like a burn victim. It's brought us into a lot of conversations about beauty. We decided that her scars are reminders that she was saved for great things. She's worked through the embarrassment already and is now ready to let it be seen so she can proudly tell her story when asked. I'm so proud of her. 

 

This is my take away from all of this. No one is immune to tragedy. No one is promised anything or any day. I have also been reminded of the hard truth that IT'S OK WHEN BAD SHIT HAPPENS. When you have an eternal perspective, you can walk through hard things, unfair things, life changing things with a different mind set than you would if eternity wasn't promised to you. This place is temporary. The stuff that goes down here may mess us up, shape us, teach us, rearrange  us... but it doesn't change the trajectory of where we're going if we believe in Jesus Christ, Father God and Holy Spirit. I hate the hard shit. I get a lot of it. But I get to choose how I show up in it and after it. That's important. 

So hug your babies. Forgive people. Laugh as much as possible. Don't sweat the small stuff. And have lots of kitchen dance parties with your kids before they turn into 15 year old jerks! That's my plan anyway ;) 

Heaven Babies | My journey through miscarriage

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.  

Life is messy. So what. | Visalia Ca. Lifestyle Photography

My sweet Lily Jae, Oct. 2013

Life is messy, we know this. Especially when you have 4 kids as I do, everything is messy; the floor, the bathrooms, the kitchen, my shirt... But the real mess is the one you can’t see. The one we all have but with strategic Instagram posts we hide the mess and show off a well styled moment. 

 Sometimes we’re brave and admit to our closest friends that things are rough, it’s hard to be a mom, marriage is work, money is the devil, my body is a squishy road map… but really? Let's dig a little deeper. We’re broken. What makes being broken hard is not the fact that were hurting, it’s the false idea that we aren't supposed to be broken in order to be good or important. What if it was collectively acceptable to be hurt, sad, confused, and angry in rightful seasons of our lives? Yes angry! I'm talking pissed off, unforgiving, mad as hell, broken hearted. Maybe if we didn’t place so much value in being problem free we might give people the space and grace to process instead of hide and medicate. It's ok to be a mess. And when we're messy, we don't need to be fixed. We need to be loved. 

So.  Let your damn mess show a little bit. What ever it is you’re feeling, feel it! I think some of the crap we deal with in life even deserves some elevated profanity and maybe a few punches. It deserves some screaming and yelling and crying and throwing things…

(Have you seen Steel Magnolias, the scene at Shelby's funeral when MaLynn loses her shit...) "Not a very Christian thing to do." We've all been MaLynn at some point.

Unpacking my mess. That is  what the last few years has been about for me. I failed to fully grieve the loss of my marriage and family at the beginning of the process  and so, with my broken heart and my broken head, I made a few messes. Now I’m cleaning up those messes with some good old fashion rage, a lot of crying, and just a little bit at a time, I’m letting it all go. None of this is happening in anyone else’s timing, nor should it. I’m just doing what I need to do to heal. No pretending, no masking, just being and feeling the feels. 

I found these photos of my kids in a mud fight from a few years ago  and remembered how mad I was at first. My instinct was to hose them down and discipline them for creating such a mess. Looking at these photos now, I’m really glad I let them be messy. This was a great day.

Enjoy...