Our Cover, Your Kid

Written by Amy Palser

First-place winner: Levi McCrary

Levi McCrary hasn’t been around all that long, but he’s already got the world on a string, and we’re happy to announce him as this year’s winner of the SPLURGE! Our Cover, Your Kid contest.

The 9-month-old is the son of Bobby and Marissa McCrary of Derby and is our youngest cover winner to date. “He just entered the world kind of owning it, like, ‘I’m here and I’m going to do me,’ ” Marissa said. “And we just love who he is.”

When they’re out and about together, Marissa said Levi attracts a lot of attention, and not only because of his red hair and blue eyes. “It’s also just his personality. He’s a very outgoing baby. He’s always been smiley, and he likes being talked to and noticed.”

Marissa said Levi’s hair and eye color were a bit of a head-scratcher for the couple. Bobby has brown hair and his side of the family has lots of blond babies; Marissa is of Hispanic heritage and has black hair and dark eyes. “I was expecting a brown-eyed baby. He surprised us from the start. My husband has some red in his beard but it really doesn’t run too much in the family.”

Levi is the couple’s first child, and Marissa, a former third-grade teacher, stays at home with him. He’s curious about the world around him, and one can just see the wheels turning in his head. He loves watching his shadow on sunny days, and he moves a little toy mirror around to watch the light shift. He loves books and enjoys being read to. Marissa takes him to library nursery times as well as a music class. “That’s where he sees a lot of other children, and he loves making friends because he’s friendly.”

And while he has no siblings yet, Levi is close with the family’s three dogs. Those include a blue heeler named Foxy (she’s Levi’s favorite), a black Labrador named Lady and a chihuahua named Mini. And while Levi is just starting to crawl, it won’t be long until he’ll be running around alongside his doggy friends. “I can just see him now,” Marissa said with a laugh, “getting into everything.”

Second-place winner: Layken Russell

Layken Russell’s SPLURGE! photo shoot for this issue was her first foray into the world of modeling, and the 2-year-old was all about it. “She kept saying, ‘Imma be a model! Imma say cheese!’ ” said her mother, Tayshaw Long-Nail of Wichita.

With her spirally curls, sparkling eyes and adorable smile, Layken took second place in the Our Cover, Your Kid contest. Tayshaw said dressing up is a bit of an obsession for the toddler. “Oh my gosh, she literally wants to wear a dress every single day. I have to hide dresses the night before if she needs to wear pants the next day.”

Layken favors wearing princess dresses with dress-up heels, which she calls her “toe-tappy dance shoes.” At the Our Cover, Your Kid photo shoot, Tayshaw said Layken went straight for the purses and found four to carry around.

But although Layken likes to dress up, she’s not too ladylike to be goofy. “She is off-the-wall crazy, in a good way,” said Tayshaw, an elementary art teacher. “She likes to color and paint and ride her scooter outside. She asks to watch ‘The Grinch’ every single day. She's goofy.”

Layken loves her daycare pals and is friendly with adults when she and mom are out running errands. “There’s rarely times that she doesn’t say, 'Hi.' I used to hate it because I’d be like, ‘Stop talking to that strange man!’ ” Tayshaw said with a laugh.

With cuteness galore and a personality to match, we predict Layken’s modeling days are just beginning.

 

Finalists

Grace Bradley, 15 months; Henry Davis, 4; Langston and Greyson Little, 3 and 6

 
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