Week 2: Saturday Giveaway

It’s no surprise this September Heart Goal we’ve set is big and kind of absurd and pretty lofty, but I really believe it can be met all together.  I feel like there’s something to be said for lots of people coming together and rallying around another human being.  I feel like there’s something to be said for generosity and love and kindness.  I feel like there’s something to be said for weirdly wonderful internet communities and the power we have all together.

Each week on Saturday we’ll be drawing for our weekly giveaway to thank one of our donors from that week.  Each giveaway is special and has fun items I truly would LOVE LOVE LOVE to receive myself.  It was so exciting last week cutting up all the names, folding the papers and then watching as Amon and Hudson drew the winner.  I posted all about it over on my Instagram page and you can follow along each week.  I do send out an individual message to the winner so they know they won!  So without further ado here are this weeks giveaway items!

First up are these three…yes, three…awesome Nellie Taft tees!!!  I gotta be honest, I really wanted to keep the Okay Cool one, but we shall part ways all in the name of giveaway love.  These tees are ethically made here in the U.S. by two women entrepreneurs and the tees are just so great!  They are all three sized Medium in an adult unisex size.  Definitely a roomier medium in my opinion…they DO NOT run small.  A keeper for yourself or an easy gift for a friend.

Before Everett had his surgery my kind friend Sherry sent me the sweetest heart necklace known to man.  I have worn it constantly and almost exclusively over the past 2 years and even bought an additional one for Harper.  I call myself an emotional jewelry wearer because most of the jewelry I wear has an emotional meaning or tie behind it.  I find myself and our little family weaving Everett into every part of our life…even giveaway items.  I want him to always be remembered and celebrated and represented.  So I wanted to share a similar heart piece with this week’s winner and I snagged this necklace from the local Esther Rose Collection.  It’s simple, lovely perfection!

This 4×6 print will come along with your giveaway this week.  This is basically my heart on paper proclaiming what I know with every inch of my heart & body…our kids make us the luckiest parents on the planet.  I tell them almost every day they make us the luckiest and I hope one day they tell their own children the exact same thing.  This is a print of the hand-lettered original I did for this campaign.  It’s colorful and simple.  It’s small and mighty.  It’s a piece of my heart.

You know I love good candies so it was a no brainer to include somewhere in our months time together some Twin Snakes and this super fun bag of Starmix.  These are regulars around the Kelley household.  Twin Snakes are so so so so so good!!!!  I keep telling you guys to try them and that’s what I’ll keep right on doing.  If you like candy, get you some Twin Snakes.  The Starmix is crazy fun too.  Here’s what it reminds me of…it’s like Haribo took all their misfit gummies and threw them into one bag.  It’s like how you can now purchase a bag of not fully popped popcorn or a bag of burnt pretzels.  This is the gummy equivalent and we love them!  They are all different things and we’ve even had the joy of a single headed, an un-twin if you will, Twin Snake. 🙂 Fun, sometimes hilarious and yummy.

And there could not be a giveaway without a Target gift card.  THERE JUST COULDN’T!!  Might I recommend you spending the entire $25 on Twin Snakes?!?!  Target is my go-to because who doesn’t love Target.

I can’t say enough how this goal only gets met together.  You might think, I don’t really know very many people or I don’t have social media so sharing wouldn’t make a difference…well you are so wrong.  You can share in so many different ways…word of mouth, email, text, shock the world and WRITE A LETTER, social media, blog, twitter, snapchat, etc etc etc.  Sharing absolutely spreads the word and it only increases our chances to ease this financial burden in full.  Can you even imagine?!?!  Just makes me teary thinking about it.  So CLICK HERE to share and donate or grab the link below:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/sing-a-brave-song

  We can totally do this!  Let’s keep singing this really brave song together.

Answering Some Questions

Okay, I am still playing major catch up on documenting here in this space, but I also wanted to follow up on some questions or inquiries I have had about our Sing A Brave Song Fundraiser.  So I present to you questions answered & some information accompanied by our 4th of July pictures.  Makes so much sense.

WHO IS THE FAMILY?!?!?!?!  Wowzers.  I’ve been asked this one a lot.  I promise it’s not us and we’re not straight up hustling you into funding our adoption. 🙂  And if I was at liberty to say, I would.  These souls are near and dear to our hearts…we know them personally…and I promise promise promise this is absolutely worth the generosity & kindness.  I feel like I’ve been pretty honest and transparent throughout the years in this space and I wouldn’t start crossing you now.

ARE YOU SCAMMING US?!?!?!  We are not.  We actually do not touch any of the money…as in it never crosses our hands or our bank accounts.  We have the gofundme set up where all the money goes straight into the family’s account.  I promise we are not stealing your money to remodel our bathroom or buy ample amounts of foam cowboy hats, pinwheels, corndogs and nudie magazines.  Hahahaha.  Someone name that movie!

I don’t want to donate online because the interwebs will steal my identity.  How do I donate?  I got you.  No worries.  This is the moment when I will handle the money and you will just have to trust me that I will not go out and blow hundreds of dollars…you we’re donating $100’s right!?!…on Sweetart Ropes.  You can actually get me a check…in person or mail…or Venmo…or PayPal…me your donation and I will then send it directly to the family.  Easy as technology cash exchanging pie!

What is the money going towards or how will it be used?  International adoption is not cheap…and it shouldn’t be.  A child is leaving their homeland and re-locating to another part of the world and it needs to be done correctly and ethically. All the money will go towards adoption expenses. (homestudy, post placement, agency fees, in-country fees,  dossier fees, fingerprints, document expenses, Visas, child’s passport, travel, in-country documentation fees, etc.)

Why isn’t the family working to pay for their own adoption?  Or why aren’t we using the money so the child can stay with their birth family?  These can feel a bit snarky and very much one-sided as there is a lot of information that has not been shared, but I’ll address it.  First, they are, but also things are complicated and hard.  We know this very personally as we had to raise funds for Leo’s adoption completely solo and it was really really difficult.  We chose to that because we needed the space and room to breath and grieve and process.  We do not want that for someone else.  We want to support and love in this way so that’s what we are doing.

This very moment take a second to think of something that has been financially stressful on you or your family.  Now imagine a group of people came together…zero strings attached…you owe them nothing in return…and they helped ease that burden a little, a lot or even all of it!  Imagine how that would feel.  It personally makes me teary eyed because most of us carry financial burdens that are an honor to carry, but still heavy…adoption expenses, medical bills, therapy bills, PT & OT, special schooling, treatments, etc etc etc.  The list is long of what these could be.  Just imagine someone wanted to take care of it for you.  That’s what we want to do along with you!

And using the money to keep the child with their birth family is not an option.  This is a hot question in the adoption/foster care realm and is an important one, but we have to understand family preservation is not always an option.  When it’s a possibility or an option, I fully support that.

WILL WE EVER KNOW THE FAMILY?!?!?!  This is zero percent my call and I am perfectly fine with no one ever knowing who this went down for.  Sometimes kindness can be weirdly quiet….I know this isn’t exactly quiet…we’re actually raising a lot of noise…but in a way it is still quiet…and I like that.

Can we attend Nashville’s Heart Walk this Saturday at 8am?  But of course.  We will be there as well and if you are there and see us, please come say hi.  I will for sure A) Cry and B) Hug your neck.  You can check out all the Heart Walk details HERE.

Do you have a team set up for the heart walk?  And can I/we/my business join you?  Excellent question.  In the past we have set up a team, “Ace of Hearts”, but this year instead of raising funds directly for the American Heart Association we wanted to set up the gofundme page and Sing a Brave Song along with you.  We wanted to shoot for an outlandish goal this year…we wanted it to be really extra personal…so that’s what we’re doing.  You are more than welcome to join us by grabbing the link and sharing with your people and donating.

What is this week’s giveaway?  I will share all of this week’s giveaway tomorrow!  Every week’s giveaway has been carefully collected and it’s something I would genuinely be thrilled to receive in the mail.  And you will receive it quickly.  None of this waiting around for forever to get your goodies.  Last week’s Saturday giveaway was mailed out on Sunday!

We are 10 days in and over $12,000 raised.  Gosh!!!  It’s just so great and THANK YOU for donating and sharing.  To meet this goal for this family I’ve worked it out in my head that if we can get $1000 in donations every day and then hope like crazy for a few bigger donations along the way we’ll totally hit it by the end of September or we just need a ton of people to make a ton donations! I’m good with either way.  We still need $765 for today so head over HERE to donate and share.  You guys are amazing!

Week 1: Saturday Giveaway

Our Let’s Sing A Brave Song heart family fundraiser is moving right along.  We set this really lofty goal and I set smaller daily goals in my head.  It’s day 4 and so far we’ve hit those mental goals which is crazy exciting.  Each week all the donors from that week will be entered into a fun Saturday giveaway to celebrate what you guys have made happen that week.  This is not a goal that will be accomplished alone, but together.  We need all the help we can get donating and sharing…a whole bunch of people coming together and coming along side one another in love.  This is how this goal gets met.  Massive thank you to everyone who has given and shared already this week.

This week’s giveaway is made up of some of my personal favorites.  We wanted to make it special and something we would legitimately be excited to win ourselves.  We hope one of you will be pumped to win it as well.

Amon, our first heart warrior, painted this self-portrait last year and it’s been hanging on our wall ever since.  He was so proud of his artwork and I burst into tears upon him showing me it.  The way he saw himself and then transferring that onto paper with different medias will be one of my life’s most prized possessions.  And that little rainbow on his chest is the sweetest nod to his little brother Everett.  We carry him with us always.  This 16×20 print of Amon, our incredible heart warrior that changed the trajectory of our family, will be one of yours.

Bonus Win: Winter’s face…free of charge.  You’re welcome!

Along with Amon’s print, 2 of my most favorite & top used Young Living products…a Deep Relief roller and Citrus Fresh oil.  I use the Deep Relief roller every night and almost every morning.  I roll it onto my temples and across the back of my neck and also on my back.  Citrus Fresh is amazing and I use it 100 different ways from diffusing it in our diffuser to in our laundry detergent to spraying it around our house and over our laundry and so many other uses.  It smells great and is super versatile.

Josh Kelley is our coffee guy.  He drinks black coffee every single morning and sometimes treats himself to some Starbucks.  A day without a coffee is typically an off feeling kind of day for him.  A $25 Starbucks gift card would be a treat.  And you know our love for good candies.  These Sweetart Ropes are a new found summer love and I definitely wanted to include all the yummy flavors for one of you…Apple, Cherry Punch & Strawberry.  I have shared these more times than I can count because the world just needs to know how tasty and fun they are.

And the last thing wrapping us this Saturday’s giveaway is a set of 4 key fobs.  Key fobs are such a fun, practical gift and make finding and keeping up with your keys way easier.  This set of four carry meaningful words to our family…Amon’s name means “faithful”, Everett’s name means “Brave & Strong” and Leo’s name means “Lion; Brave People”.  And the 4th “Brave Will Be Our Song” because we know this truth and we know we are all singing a really brave song together this September to celebrate brave hearts and family.

All the donors for this week will be entered to win this fun giveaway and all the items will be mailed directly to the winner.  I love fun mail so you can rest assured it will be the cutest package you’ve ever received!  Please continue to help us spread the word.  Head over HERE to donate or grab the link below to share.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/sing-a-brave-song

No donation is too big, no donation is too small and we do not believe in over-sharing.  This goal only gets reached together!

Let’s Sing A Brave Song

It’s September which means it’s a big heart month here in Nashville and across Tennessee.  On September 14th in Nashville the American Heart Association will host their heart walk to bring awareness to heart disease.  We’ll be there as we have many times before.  In the past we’ve set up fundraising pages for AHA & baked goods for bake sales & given blood & carried heart shaped balloons around with us on the years we couldn’t make it, but this year needed something different.  This year we thought harder about how we wanted to celebrate & remember & honor & bring awareness for the 3 brave hearted boys we’re lucky enough to call our sons.❤️

It’s been such a big year for our family as we’re still grieving the loss of Everett, Leo just coming off his successful heart surgery at Mott & still healing and Amon got another good report in August that his next surgery is still at least another year out. Such a mix of emotions, but still 3 precious hearts to find deep joy in & celebrate.

So we’re going big or going home all in the name of love.  We know a really beautiful family and we’re going to try…along with you…to fund their adoption process.  A sweet little CHD love with a beautifully broken heart has rocked a world and family has been formed yet again.  We want to join them as hope holders and help ease the financial burden.  It feels big. It feels audacious. It feels a tad outlandish, but what better reason to try.

We’re asking you to link arms and hearts with us and this family.  We’re asking you to share and/or give whatever you can. We’re asking you to see the value & worth in brave-hearted children who literally make us the luckiest.  We’re asking you to sing a really Brave Song with us.  We’re asking you to see how lucky we are in being able to come along side one another in love.

Every last detail about our heart behind this September and where to donate to this heart love is posted HERE.  We’re using September to love big & honor hearts.  And every Saturday we’ll be celebrating with a fun giveaway with all the donors from that week.  Can’t donate financially, no problem.  Helping us spread the word is just as important.  Grab this link and share away.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/sing-a-brave-song

We’ve got 4 weeks to do something a little crazy together, we need all the help we can get.  Help us spread the word!  So let’s get to it!  I have a feeling…no matter what…it’s going to be really good!

Mixed Media Self Portraits

This summer we did a super fun and super easy craft project that the kids LOVED…like every kid…ages 12-4 adored this project and worked on them for a long time.  I saw the idea over on Kelle Hampton’s IG page and there was no tutorial because it’s really as simple as print a black and white photo of your kiddo on some cardstock and let them decorate and create with ALL THE THINGS!

We bought zero supples for this.  I simply snapped a quick photo of each child against one of our many white walls and then printed it in black and white.

(I died over Solomon’s.  Someone hire this kid stat.)

(The babies had a pointing finger theme going.)

The kids pulled out all our craft supplies and filled our table: beads, buttons, stickers, acrylic paint, watercolors, crayons, markers, colored pencils, glue, glitter, feathers, scrabble tiles, confetti, tissue paper, etc etc etc.  And then they all went to town creating.  These are indeed keepers.

It was THE MOST FUN!!!  I ended up printing additional photos for kiddos who wanted to do more.  I got in on the action too and did one of Leo because it was really really fun! I know I’ve already said it, but it deserves repeating this is crazy easy and crazy fun.  Crowd pleaser for sure.

Winter’s second attempt is what nightmares are made of. 🙂 

I immediately hung them all up in the kitchen and just this week took them down.  Leo was obsessed with his own creation…humble much :)…for a good long while.  Every time he paints now he requests a photo of himself.  And how ridiculously cute is the one Harper did of her and Audrey?!?!?  

So pull out those old supplies and get to crafting.  This could not get any easier!

A Bunch of Summer Faves

1. Our “peace corner”.  We’ve been learning all there is to learn about Autism and best ways to help Leo.  Sensory issues are definitely high for Leo.  I get really angry inside when people don’t understand this…he doesn’t hit to be mean, he doesn’t bite to be mean, he doesn’t scream because he’s trying to be rude or bothersome, he doesn’t stomp his feet or jolt his body because he’s throwing a fit…he’s trying to meet his own sensory needs when he gets overwhelmed, over stimulated or excited.  And that’s okay.  We have been learning different ways to help Leo in those moments and after reading about a lot of different ways and techniques and tools we created what Hudson dubbed The Peace Corner.  It’s a comfy bean bag chair with a basket full of sensory tools to help Leo during those moments when he’s trying to meet his own sensory needs.  What was created to help mainly Leo, has actually helped us all.  Every kid and adult Kelley has been found chilling in this corner…some using tools from the basket, some wearing noise cancelling headphones, some taking a nap.  It has been beneficial for us all.

Noise Cancelling Headphones, Chew Necklace (just for Leo), Motion bubbler, Stress Balls, Fidget Cube, Stretchy Strings and Pinball Toy. (affiliate links)

2. ALL THE DOCTORS/THERAPY VISITS TOGETHER!  And I do mean, ALL OF THEM.  I will swear by us knowing the best in the business and we love all our teams.  They know who we are and they are totally okay with us just as we are.  All our regulars never made us feel like too much this summer and that was incredibly nice as we rolled into waiting room after waiting room as a party of 7.

3.  This print.  My friend Meredith sent it to me and I could not pick up a frame quick enough.  Now it’s sitting by our sink…another physical reminder of Everett…and of Meredith.  She’s literally one of my most favorite humans.

4.  Our rainbow balloon arch.  My friend Ashley taught me how to make balloon arches and then I couldn’t be stopped.  And by couldn’t be stopped, I really mean I made just one additional one. 🙂 But it was the very next day.  Since Leo would be headed to Mott middle of July and then Everett’s death anniversary and then his birthday I thought the house could use some bright colored balloon love.  And currently it’s still up because I love it so much!

5.  Sugar cones.  I mean, other than Leo’s world renowned heart surgeon and entire cardiology team 🙂 sugar cones were are real summertime MVP.

6.  Melon baller.  Harper bought this with her own money and why does balled melon taste way better than regular melon?!?!

7.  Wave Country‘s hot pretzel.  Coming in at a whopping $1 and an additional $1 if you want cheese sauce, I might recant my comment that the sugar cone was the real MVP of our summer.

8.  Leo’s ankle braces.  As if we all thought Leo could not get any cuter, we were all collectively wrong.  The boy got some dinosaur printed ankle braces to help with his strengthening in his legs and feet and he’s soooo adorable in them.

9.  Amon’s red, white and blue 1/2 cast.  He got ALL the compliments and the 1/2 cast was waterproof and changed Amon’s summer mood instantly.  Freedom in the pool is life for this kid.

10.  Crayola Sidewalk Chalk We drew and drew and drew in our driveway this summer.  My favorite addition to our drawings were the kids chalk body outlines…hilarious and disturbing all at the same time.  Long live the sidewalk chalk!

11.  New rainbow wall in our neighborhood.  Maybe my top favorite photos from the summer.  Thank you rainbow wall and sweaty, hot, adorable Kelley children.

12.  Slushies and Icees.  No other words are needed.

13.  Rainbow bunting lights.  Fun Ashley sent these to the kids and Winter immediately made them her own making her entire life forever and ever amen.  Every night she turns them on and we have burned through 537 batteries in two months time.

14.  Ellsworth Kelly stamps.  Come on now.  Has there ever been a more perfect stamp?!?!  I think not.  Now if only Ellsworth would fix his last name because everyone knows Kelley has an extra E.

15.  Harper & her bestie Audrey.  These two are ridiculously sweet together.  They had a few weeks apart when they couldn’t see each other so they wrote each other a note for each day.  And then I died from the absolute sweetness & love that is their friendship.  Gah I love tween girls!!!

16.  Cypress & Rose Ointment.  I’m back with yet another oily combo I am loving!!  I roll some cypress under my eyes and then rub it in with some rose ointment and I really really really love it!  It makes my eyes brighter and feel more awake…plus the smell is amazing.  I’m technically a Young Living distributor, but really signed up so me and my friends could get the discount and don’t push selling them, but again, if you need some help with them, hit me up.

And 17.  Sandy’s Amazing Chocolate Chunk Cookie.  I don’t want to be overly dramatic about this one, but I dare say this is the best cholocate chip cookie I’ve ever had.  My friend Aimee sent me one while we were in Michigan and I then proceeded to re-order this cooke 4 additional times.  It is AMAZING!!!  And it has little pieces of salted pretzel and cream cheese and giant chocolate chunks and just THE BEST!!  Someone local tell me if they have seen these in Nashville STAT!

Holiday World

Since this space serves as a virtual scrapbook for our family, I’m still trying to play catch-up from summer and Leo’s surgery kind of sucking me into a time warp.  Before Leo’s surgery date we tried to line up fun things we knew we wanted to do, but also knew couldn’t be done while Leo was recovering and healing.  Holiday World was at the top of everyone’s list.  Last year we took just the bigs to do something fun on a hard day and this year we took everyone.  We thought about seeing if someone could watch Leo, but then realized we just wanted to all be together so why not.

Holiday World is this delightful weirdo amusement park in Santa Claus, IN.  The park is divided up into Christmas, 4th of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving themes with corresponding themed rides and characters.  There are also themed places to eat and matching themed snacks for the holidays.  It is the weirdest/best!!!!  So want a full on Thanksgiving meal with the works, head over to Thanksgiving.  Who doesn’t want a turkey leg, stuffing, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole in 97 degree heat?!?!?!

They also have a water park called Splash and Safari which is safari themed…very confusing. 🙂  But seriously, it’s so fun and so delightful and you get free soft drinks all day long and free sunscreen.  There is also something for everyone…even tiny Leo with his busted up little heart at the time.

Josh Kelley and I took a super chill approach to this trip.  Zero stress.  Zero worries.  Just have fun.  And we did just that.

This year we packed lunch in a cooler and ate in their picnic area.  This saved us so much time and money.  We did let everyone pick out a fun sweet treat near the end of our time.  And Hudson got his first ever funnel cake.  Unbeknownst to Josh and myself, Hudson had never had one before.  Insert all the parental failure feelings.  How had this kid gone 10 & 3/4 years without trying a funnel cake?!?!?!

We had an absolute blast and plan on going back again next year.  We drove home exhausted and happy.  All the smiles for chill summer fun.  Until next year Holiday World.

Everett’s 6th Birthday + Home

So we are all still alive, but life is in full surge mode and shows no signs of slowing down.  Leo busted out of Mott on July 30th…to all our surprise…and then school started full time 5 DAYS LATER.  We have pretty much been in full on survival mode the last 15 days.  Josh Kelley and the kids came up on Monday the 29th for Everett’s birthday.  Our earlier attempt at getting the band back together was squashed when Amon and Winter started puking.  We were all crazy disappointed.  It was really hard being at Mott solo…sadness creeped in hard.  So once we didn’t have any vomit for a few days Josh and the kids made their second attempt to come up because we all really wanted to celebrate Everett’s birthday together.

Leo was soooooo excited he could not stand it.  I made the mistake of telling him far too ahead of time.  He gets “stuck” on ideas…things he’s excited about…and then won’t talk about anything else and also gets ticked periodically because the thing is not happening right then.  So I fielded lots and lots of conversations about seeing his people all day long.

Leo got his chest tubes pulled that morning so it was the perfect way to welcome in Shuai’s 6th birthday.  2 weeks was enough for Leo and his chest tubes and no one was sad to see them go.  Instantly he was like a different kid.  Nothing could keep him in that bed and he was on the go.  He finally wanted to play and move about where before he mostly just wanted to stay in his bed.  A new kid and I was so glad to watch him soar.

When the rest of our crew arrived Leo lost his mind.  He was so excited to see everyone and everyone was so excited to see him.  The big kids had especially been worried about him and I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to send them good reports.  Last time was so different and trauma is very real so you can imagine how hard and good it was to be able to tell them how well Leo was doing.  Everett never came home and everyone carries that so uniquely and walking this same road with a different outcome was incredibly hard, but also we were all incredibly relieved.

We celebrated Everett together and felt loved on all day by those who remembered with us.  A kind new friend Elizabeth who lives in Michigan brought us the sweetest, biggest bag of goodies.  I cried like a giant lady baby.  I immediately hung up the rainbow banner and streamers along with our birthday banner Josh brought from home.  The kids were covered in all her goodie sweetness and we all loved the delicious Le Detroit Macarons along with our nurses.  We are good sharers. 😉

Courtney made sure Everett’s grave had birthday balloons and Ashley, Alissa and Leah made sure we had cookies and cake to celebrate with.  My bestie Ashley sent Leo birthday balloons and the biggest treat basket ever.  They each made us feel seen and loved and they remembered our son on what should have been his 6th birthday.  They remembered us on what is a very painful day.

Grief Sidenote:  People send me messages often asking how they can walk with a family member or friend through grief.  One of the most simple and impactful things you can do for a grieving family member or friend is to simply remember.  One of my greatest fears as Everett’s mom is that he will be forgotten…that he will disappear from people’s stories. When others remember him and us it breathes life into our weary hearts.  So pull out your calendar and mark all those special days that will forever be different for them (ex: birthdays & adoption days, the day the loved one died, holidays, etc)…or on any random day…and then remember with them.  Send a card or text or email.  Send flowers or dinner or treats.  Do something no matter how big or small to tell them they are seen and remembered and their loved one is not forgotten.  Scouts honor: It means the world.  End Sidenote.

Leo’s team at Mott was incredible and because Leo did so well with his chest tubes out they decided to try and expedite us out of there.  Tuesday morning they scheduled his echo, chest x-ray, EKG and bloodwork for crazy early in hopes of being able to send us all back to Tennessee together.  Everything came back great and by 2pm Leo was strapped into his carseat and the back of our car was busting with balloons.  Mott is special…Leo’s surgeon and team are special…I will say that over and over again.  Just like Everett’s were.  When Natalie, Leo’s nurse practitioner, came by she and I cried.  This was such a different outcome from last time.  We were actually going to walk out of this place with our child in our arms and that will never ever be lost on any of us Kelleys.  And Mott loved us so well through both outcomes.

As we drove away from the hospital we all cheered and Hudson took roll-call.  I was relieved and thrilled and beyond sad and devastated.  Everett had should have had this too.  We all knew who was missing and how every kiddo and family deserves to leave hospitals together.  I’ll never understand the opposite…it will never be explained by words…it will never be okay or how it was meant to be.  I carried Everett close…I carried Toby who is still fighting so hard and his sweet mama Amanda close…I carried Meredith who has walked this same route far too many times close.  We hold so tightly to one another and hold each other close in our hearts and minds choosing to never forget one another’s losses and fights.  It took all day, but we gladly drove late into the night to be back in our home together.  To bring Leo back home…healing and thriving just as it should be for every child.  And when it’s not, there are no good words.

At one point on our drive a rainbow flashed across the sky and we all lost our minds.  Josh pointed it out quickly getting the kids’ attention so they could all see it.  I cried.  It was the sweetest reminder of our FuShuai.  From Everett’s death has come opened eyes and hearts, love and compassion and a whole lot of jaded hope.  And honestly, I never want to lose it.  Two whole weeks back home.  Welcome home Leo boy!

BONUS:  Winter lost her first tooth on the drive home.  Come really close Time. (Insert throat punch.)