Many of you who have been reading blogs since they were invented will remember Becky Kimball. Her blog was once a space of hope and heartbreak for a lot of us, and always, always gorgeous. How lovely that Becky’s work and life still are.

Welcome to my back-in-the-day blogging friend!

Hi, my name is Becky Kimball and my husband is Ryan Kimball. Our son, Max, is 11 years old and our daughter, Sloane, is four years old. Our first born, Rylee Ann, is already in heaven. She was only five months old when she returned to our Heavenly Father.

A few details about my Rylee. At the 20 week ultrasound we found out she had a small valve that never developed in her heart. She had what they call Hypoplastic Right Ventrical. Basically our cardiologist told us they need to re-plumb her heart once she was born. It was a procedure that was common enough that they had named the surgeries she needed to have.

Her first heart surgery was when she was just six days old, but she was a champ and she recovered and came home when she was three and a half weeks old.

You never knew that she had a broken heart. She was so happy and smiley and was such a joy to be around. We were able to travel with her to visit family out of state. About two weeks before her second scheduled surgery, she and I were getting ready one morning and I could tell that her breathing was a bit off. I called my husband, who is a Life Flight medic and firefighter at work and told him I was going to call 911 because something wasn’t right. She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors worked on her until my husband could get there.

At five months, seven days, our sweet Rylee Ann returned to our loving Heavenly Father. It was such tender time for us. We drew strength from our loved ones, from our belief that we will see her and raise her again. We now have this angel with us and so do our children, who watches over us and loves us. We feel blessed that we were able to give her a body and that we were able to have her for the time that God allowed us.

I love to share about Rylee! She is woven throughout who I am, and has given me a beautiful perspective on life that it would be selfish of me not to share her with everyone. When I was a 24 year old expectant mother, I never envisioned that we would be hit with this unbelievable trial. When you think about your future family, one never sees the loss of a child as part of their family portrait.

The pain and ache of losing her is unimaginable. I am convinced that had I not gone through the grief of losing a child, I would never have reached my potential as a mother. So for that, I am grateful that my family now has an angel watching over us. She has taught me to cherish each and every moment big or small I spend with my children still on earth, and to make those moments more meaningful. She has given me a platform to teach my children about eternal families and that we are forever – a knowledge that has held me up in my darkest times.

She has also given me a platform to teach my children about faith and how important our faith is as we navigate this life. Voltaire said, “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. It is not enough that a thing be possible for it to be believed.” I have reverted back to these words often when I find myself needing a gentle reminder of how faith has played an integral role in my healing.

I am a freelance commercial photographer. As I mentioned, my husband is a paramedic/firefighter for our city and he also is a Flight Medic for Life Flight. We met on a trip to Lake Powell in southern Utah. A bunch of my friends and his friends were going and we just hit it off. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I invited him to my birthday party and as they say, the rest is history.

Some funny quirks about us: I am a clean freak, borderline OCD. I like to have things a certain way and it drives me nuts until I get it right.

Ryan has a bit of misophonia. He can’t stand to hear people eat! It’s actually quite funny. I can’t eat chips, or bite ice next to him. It drives him crazy. Max has such a soft and tender heart. Loves with everything he has! Sloane has a lot of sass. She says the funniest things. This might be my favorite age!

We live in Lehi, Utah which is about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. From the outside, it’s a cookie-cutter home, where every third house looks the same. You know…the house we all dreamt about living in when we were 12 and where our Princess Barbies would all have their own room and we’d lean across our neighbor’s fence for sugar.

When we looked to move out of our college-age condo and find a home that didn’t share any walls, this home was our 2,000 sq. ft. starter home. At least that’s what I told myself.

Truth be told, even though you can stretch a dollar here in Utah a little further than other states, I was still a bit overwhelmed at the thought of owning this home, and all the responsibilities that came with it. This was probably the first time in my life I remember being truly scared. I figured, however, we’d eventually grow out of it and find the rest of the square footage I knew belonged to me.

But what I know now that I didn’t know then was that we wouldn’t grow out of it but rather we’d grow in to it. What I’d tell my 20-something year old self is that it’s not quantity; it’s quality and this home has produced endless amounts of quality memories with what’s happened within these walls.

I also was ready to move to a home where we could carry with us the beautiful memories from our condo, like bringing our beautiful baby Rylee home, but perhaps leaving some of the messier memories where they stayed, like having to say goodbye to Rylee.

And so, we still live in our 2,000 square foot home! Twelve years now.

What I absolutely love about living in Utah and at the base of so many amazing canyons is that you don’t experience just one season year-round. The variety you get to experience living here is tremendous. People often say that you can enjoy four seasons in one week living in Utah. Monday you may be enjoying 70s at the park and by Friday you are home looking out the window at a blizzard.

More importantly though, the sense of community is invaluable in this area of Utah. Not only will my neighbor be sharing her sugar with me, but we will be lifting each other up when one needs a little extra help.

Thankfully, I have a husband who trusts my opinion and my vision when it comes to styling our home. Well, either that or he just doesn’t care! He does have a lot of patience because I am all about switching it up. Since I like to change things up, I lean more towards the minimalist and “less is more” mantra.

I believe in having a generally clean palette so that when you do get an itch to change things up, you aren’t having to change the big stuff. And I’m definitely not opposed to my kids to making their mark. Like when my four year old Sloane decided to take markers to my couch and desk. Yikes.

My very first blog post was, I think, about 11 years ago! Crazy how things change and evolve. But so happy that they do and that we are allowed to venture down the growth path at the pace we need to. We just need to be patient with ourselves as we make that journey.

Blogging in my first life was more done as a personal outlet. I wasn’t necessarily looking to share anything outwardly. That was more of a side effect of what I was doing. My full time job at that point was doing taxes for individuals but I yearned to utilize my creative side. Hence, blogging and photography.

I do miss a little bit of the naïveté from the old days in that what you wrote was less rehearsed and people weren’t thinking so much about how it would be received. As time went on, this outlet was turning in to a passion; photography was where I felt the most like myself and the happiest. So I threw caution to the wind and quit my desk job to take it on full time. That was probably the second time in my life I remember being really scared. 

My daily work usually includes preparing for an upcoming shoot. Specifically for a children’s brand. Usually it includes corresponding with the client about what looks they are sending and how many and what sizes. Once that’s known, I work on getting models and schedule the studio. I love to create a shoot that is visually appealing, so I am not scared to use some crazy fun props. Recently I used a bunch of blow ups for a Summer shoot – the more, the merrier! Once I work for a few hours in the morning, I usually take a break and get my kids ready for school. When they’re at school, I work a bit more, clean the house, and have some alone time until they come home. After school we are running around to activities, doing homework, having dinner, and then it’s ready for bed. Only to do it over again tomorrow.

One project that I just wrapped up that was very exciting was going to shoot for a brand in Guatemala. I was able to shadow the client around as she worked with her weavers and bag makers. She brought her whole family so I shot behind the scenes, capturing how they travel to a foreign country and also how she works with the locals to bring her products to life. It was such an incredible experience to photograph the people in their culture and really get to know the brand and what makes them unique.

Each day is different for me and that’s what makes being a photographer enjoyable. I worked hard in the corporate world for someone else and now I work hard for myself and my clients. I’m not going to lie and say that the transition was easy; it was hard, but worth it. When I’m home, I try really hard to be in the moment with my kids, but there are definitely days when work overtakes and that’s when I need to step back and make sure that what I’m doing is worth it.

The balance for me starts with asking myself, is this worth it? Leaving my kids for work has to be something that is fulfilling to me and my well-being. I don’t want to sacrifice my time with my family for something or someone that doesn’t value me.

The nice thing about what I do for a living is that sometimes I can work from the comfort of my own home with my own children for clients. The bulk of my work is with children’s brands and my little four year old is in a lot of my work. She loves the camera, if you haven’t already noticed.

Being able to be creative with my work has been so important to me. Photography is an outlet for me and a way to express myself. I love to have fun when creating a space for my clients.

One of the best things about living with my kids is their unpredictability. Not always a good thing when you have your own plans, but they have taught me patience. Patience to go more with the flow and less trying to swim against the current.

My youngest, Sloane, has a lot of sass. She’s taught me to not care what others think about me – especially when it comes to fashion choices. That if you want to change into seven different princess pajamas throughout the day, that you should.

My older son, Max, has taught me kindness. He has the biggest heart, and even though he’d rather be playing video games with his friends, will take the time to sit with Sloane and play dolls with her because that’s what would make her happy.

I hope my children will always remember that this home was made with love and filled with love. That their parents worked hard to cultivate an environment of acceptance and responsibility.

That the lessons we learn within our homes are ones that we should remember as adults…have compassion for others, and remember that not all of us have been given the same strengths and weaknesses, and we can all learn from each other. Speak kindly to and of others.

And when you’re feeling down and need a break, it’s ok to jump back into bed under the covers.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d care less about being the perfect mother, and surrender myself to the messes and disfunction of having children so that I could be more present with my kids.

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Thank you, Becky. Your style and substance are equally inspiring, and I’m grateful you showed us your heart today.

Tell me: Do you give yourself, as Becky explains it, permission to “jump back into bed under the covers” when you’re feeling down and in need of a break? I have a friend who feels too guilty to take naps – but she totally should! I think she’d love them every once in a while. What are your thoughts? You know I love your stories!

P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me know! We love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.