Mama Kali

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Kali grew up in Spokane, Wash., but moved to Oregon for college and never left! She spotted her husband, Taylor, the first day on campus and (jokingly) told her Mom that she’d found her future husband. Long story short, she had! They married shortly after graduation and just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. They have two sweet boys, Emmett (almost 3) and Beau (almost 3 months). Before they had kids, Kali had a small catering company called Bird is the Word, but she has transitioned into staying at home with the boys and doing family photography on the side. Last year they bought a little homestead across from the family farm where her husband works. He is the third generation to work the land and they are thrilled with the type of life they are able to give their boys.

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What’s the best part about living on a farm and what do you like the least?

One of the best parts about living on the farm is that my husband is just right there. He comes home for lunch everyday, is almost always somewhere nearby, and is often able to involve Emmett in whatever he's working on. To say Emmett is passionate about farming would be the understatement of a lifetime, so you can imagine what a thrill it is for him to get to work with his Dad on such a regular basis. 

The hardest part is harvest season. Taylor is on call 24/7 since we pick berries at night, it's hot, exhausting and I kind of become a single parent for a few months. It's also exciting and extremely satisfying- you work hard all year for a good harvest- but it definitely takes us a few months to recover once it's all said and done. It can be tough not to feel like you're missing out on all the fun summer things that other families get to do, but we also have nine months of the year where things are more flexible, so there are definitely compensations.

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Tell us about work. How do you incorporate photography into your role as mother?

I have a hard time calling photography work because I truly enjoy it so much! It's not something I ever intended to do, but has just kind of naturally evolved and I'm so grateful it has. I get so much joy out of capturing life- especially families and kiddos- and it feels like such a bonus that I get paid to do so. I usually squeeze shoots in on the weekends when my husband can stay with the boys, and like to shoot right before naps so I can get my shoot and editing done on the same day. That keeps it from feeling like it's hanging over my head, or intruding on family time too much. I'm not formally trained, I don't have the fanciest gear and I like a real natural, film-style photography, so it's hard for me to feel like I'm a "real" fancy photographer, but I suppose once you've done it long enough, that's as real as it gets. Either way, I'm grateful.

Photography has also been a wonderful way for me to appreciate motherhood from another perspective. I always have my camera on hand to capture little everyday moments and then try my best to catalogue them on my blog. Whenever I feel down or discouraged, I scroll through that collection of words and images from our life, and it gives me such a lift every time. Our life is so beautiful, and I'm so grateful for the ability to preserve it in a tangible form.

What are you most proud of as a mother?

I think the thing I feel most proud of as a mother, is just how much I like motherhood. I never really expected to, to be honest. For some reason, I had it in my head that being a mom was going to be kind of a drag. I'd never been one for babysitting, never been super into kids in general and even questioned before we had Emmett, if I ever even wanted children. Boy was I wrong! And boy do I love it ever so much. Being home and being with my kids is unquestionably the best job I've ever had, and even on the hardest days, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I feel pretty good about that. 

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How do you cope with hard days?

GO OUTSIDE. Go outside, go outside, go outside. There is nothing so far that heading out to wander around or play in the dirt hasn't been able to help. I read There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk a while back and it has convinced me that being outdoors is the cure for what ails ya! 

I've also been trying, especially since Beau has come along, to share my feelings with Emmett. If I'm tired or frustrated, I tell him that I'm feeling it just like I'd tell anybody else. If he's overwhelming me with questions, I try to kindly explain that I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed and ask him if we can take a short break from asking questions. I try to give him the same level of respect and communication I'd give any grown person, and remember that he and I are partners in this growing up process, it's not just me being the boss of him. I also want him to have the words to express himself when he's having a hard day, so I try to show him that it's okay and how to communicate those feelings when he has them.

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Whats your favorite thing about living where you do in the NW? How has that influenced your parenting? 

My favorite thing about living in the Willamette Valley is the insane variety of landscapes and outdoor opportunities that are pretty easily accessible to us. We live within a couple hour's drive of the city, the mountains, the ocean and the desert. There is farm country, wine country, coastline, waterfalls, rain forests, rivers, mountain passes and volcanic rock formations. It's definitely more challenging to get out and explore with our little guys at the moment, but I am constantly dreaming of the hiking, camping and fishing we'll do when they're older. I hope to give them a deep appreciation for the natural world and lots of time spent in it!

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What is one of your go to meals?

Our favorite go-to meal is Turkey Meatballs and Cacio e Pepe, adapted from Marilou Champagne's Three Times a Day

What is one of your holiday traditions? 

There's a neighborhood in our town that goes all-out on Christmas lights, so every year we get in our jams, pop a big bag of popcorn, hop in the car and head over to drive through and look at lights. Last year was the first year Emmett remembers, and he has talked about it all year long. It's just kind of magical. 

Tell us about a parenting solution you found that changed something that was previously a challenge for you.

I think the biggest "parenting solution" I've found that has helped me through loads of challenges is kind of a combination of two main ideas: the Montessori ideal of "Follow the Child," and the Charlotte Mason belief that children are born persons. Remembering that my kiddos are fully formed humans from birth helps me to respect their needs and feelings even when they seem irrational or frustrating, and remembering to "follow the child," reminds to me to observe first, prepare their environment so they can participate in everyday life, value and preserve their concentration and help them to pursue the things that spark their curiosity. 

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What’s your favorite NW spot to visit with your children?

One of our favorite spots is Silver Falls State Park. It's only 30 minutes from our house and full of fun trails, dozens of waterfalls, a gorgeous forest and a beautiful creek that flows throughout. It's a perfect little slice of wilderness right in our "backyard." And with two little fellas, it feels like a perfectly manageable adventure. 

Even though he is still little, does your son have responsibilities on the farm?

Since our farm is mostly berries and grass seed- and a few acres of hazelnuts, he doesn't exactly have regular chores he is responsible for. During harvest he rides on the forklift with his Dad to load and unload berry crates, loves to ride in the berry trucks to deliver loads to the processing plant and every now and then gets to head out at night and get the picking crews going. He climbs up on the giant pickers and checks each one with his Dad, and between that and getting to stay up late, pretty much thinks he's the king of the farm. We're already having a hard time convincing him he's not ready to head to work with Dad on a daily basis, and he's constantly asking to head over and check out what Dad's working on.

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Favorite books or podcasts we should know about? 

My favorite parenting books are Simplicity ParentingNo-Drama Discipline, the Read-Aloud FamilyFor the Children's Sake and Mere Motherhood. My very favorite books to re-read are the Anne of Green Gables and Little House series- I'm an avid re-reader, believing that you find something new in there each time. My most recent read- finished just this week- was English Creek by Ivan Doig. Always having a good book on my nightstand helps me feel like the best version of myself. 

Though I don't have nearly as much time to listen as I would like, I really enjoy a good podcast. Some of my favorite parenting podcasts are the Wild + Free podcast, Read Aloud RevivalBaan Dek Montessori and Simple Families. Other favorites include: Young House Love has a PodcastThe Bill Simmons PodcastLiving Homegrown with Theresa LoweAnchored with April Vokey and On Being with Krista Tippet.

Do you have a self care ritual?

I am probably not the best person to ask, self-care is something I'm still figuring it out. But whenever I'm feeling depleted or down, I try to do things that make me feel like me. Read a good book, go outside- usually for a walk, listen to a podcast, work in the garden and eat or drink something really wonderful. Getting away isn't something that's always possible or wanted, for me "taking a break" often means just having somebody around to help lighten the load. We waited a long time to have kids, and now that they're here, I just want to be with them. But it's definitely nice to have an extra set of helping hands around. 

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