Back To Our Regular Scheduled Programming

First of all, THANK YOU!!!  Our Sing A Brave Song campaign ended September 30th and I sat dumbfounded at how the past 30 days had shaken out.  It was insane and crazy and good and incredible.  1.1K of us came together in 30 days and gifted a beautiful heart family $51,735!!!!  What in the actual world!!!  Goodness is still everywhere.  Thank you for giving and sharing and choosing kindness and love and generosity. Thank you for remembering our heart warriors and your own. Thank you for deciding to love how you would want to be loved. We are deeply grateful you linked arms with us in this insane goal and, well, look what happened when we did.  Please know the family who is on the receiving end of this is incredibly over-the-moon grateful.  We’re all a bit beside ourselves at this point because LOOK WHAT HAPPENED IN 30 DAYS!!! You all are crazy crazy kind. Thank you for singing this Brave Song together with us.

(photo by the insanely talented Shots by Cheyenne)

I decided to devote the entire month of September in this space to the campaign and I missed writing about all the regular ordinary random moments of life.  I’ve been looking forward to sitting down and spilling my guts about life and love and loss and grief and all the things that have been going on in the in-between.  Life is full and busy.  It’s bursting really, in the best ways.

So let’s chat.

School started back in August and we’ve yet to discuss which needs to happen because it was the most epic of first day of school starts.  This year is semi-crazy for our crew and schooling.  We found ourselves in a pretty crappy predicament at the end of school last year and Josh Kelley and I had to make some big choices for our kiddos.  This landed us in 4 DIFFERENT SCHOOLS this year.  4 drop offs and 4 pick-ups…3 of the schools all starting and ending at the exact same times.  We divide and conquer on drop offs and our friends Bekah & Chris scoop in to help with 2 of our littles on pick-up.  It’s what I’ve branded carrider line purgatory.

With a lot of fresh starts and unfamiliar buildings came some tears on the first day of school.  Some of our kiddos we’re nervous about this new start…and so were Josh and myself.  Winter started kindergarten and that was hard because Everett would have been starting kindergarten too.  I absolutely loathe these moments that spotlight our loss…that highlights his absence.  Starting kindergarten is a big deal and Everett missing weighed extra heavy on us that day.  We carry him with us everywhere and we all wore a rainbow tattoo on our hand that day.

So nerves were high.  Anxious feelings swirled.  Tears rolled hard.  Leo had only been home from the hospital 6 days.  He couldn’t start school yet so I took him, Winter and Amon all to their new elementary school while Josh and the bigs tackled middle schools.  We parked and walked up to the front of the school building with all our supplies in hand.  We were waiting with all the other parents and students to go into the building and this picture of Leo was taken approximately 23 seconds before he projectile vomitted on the front stoop of the school causing students and parents to flee in fear of ankle splatter.

I laugh because you can see it all over his face.  “Ummmmm, I’m about to puke my guts up right here and now.  No one will be safe from the splatter.”

Another mama pulled a brand new container of wipes from her kid’s backpack and handed them over.  Bekah gave me a roll of papertowels from her boys’ supplies.  All I could do was pat Leo on the back while he emptied the contents of his stomach onto his own shoes and the ground.  It was every bit of awful as it sounds.  He cleared that crowded area in no time flat.

I cleaned him up the best I could and did what had to be done…carried on.  We took Winter to her classroom first and waiting at her desk were the sweetest rainbow crayons spelling out her name.  I instantly knew she had a really special teacher this year.  Ms. Watson & Winter both have lost their brothers and their bond has continued to forge through love and grief and be just as special as I imagined it would be.  Days like these are hard for Winter…she carries Everett in a really unique way and misses him deeply and Ms. Watson understands this in a really hard & special way.  Winter talks about him every single day and I love it so much.  Photos of both Ms. Watson’s brother Neil and Everett hang together in her classroom…always remembered, always missed, always loved.  There is not a better suited teacher for Winter as she ventured into kindergarten missing her best friend than Ms. Watson.

Amon was up next.  He went right in and settled in with his waffles & milk.  This is a big year for him and part of me wanted to scoop him up and run for home, but the other part of me knew this was his place and he was going to fly!  So Leo and I said our goodbyes and headed out.

And then Leo barfed in the hallway.

We surely made our presence known in our new school home very quickly.  A call to our cardiologist was made and Leo and I landed ourselves in her office right after first day drop-offs.  Heart surgery recovery is legit.  Every little thing is inspected because it’s crucial to make sure his heart is not at risk.  He got a good report and a 12 hour stomach bug. We’ll take it.

Despite all our worry and nervousness, everyone had a most excellent first day of school.  Leo was able to start school 2 weeks later and I’m just not sure you’re ready for this cuteness.

The school transition has been harder for him.  He needs lots and lots of reassurance and reminders that I will come back!  This was a big step for Leo, but he was ready…it was time.  We told him over and over again leading up to his first day how great he was going to do.  We told him all the wonderful ways he would add to his classroom.  He walked in by himself and sat down in his little seat.  I went to kiss him goodbye and he said with a quivery little lip, “Leo great?”  I confirmed with every bit of truth I know, “Leo you’re going to do so great.”  This drop off was different than every drop off before.  Maybe because he’s the baby.  Maybe because of the unique ways Leo’s little brain and body works, but my hopes are still the same for Leo and each of our kids:  That their teachers & friends would see all the magic they’re made of and that they will learn from each other about the absolute beauty they each possess and offer to this world.

He’s soaring just how we knew he would.  They all are.  I have no shame in saying if a Kelley kid lands in your class, consider yourself the luckiest to know and befriend and teach and love them.  It’s going to be a good year.


  1. Lisa gilliam says:

    Great job mom. Hope you kiddos have a fabulous year. It’s fall break coming for my grands so yes it is 97 degrees and the pool is still open

  2. Lisa gilliam says:

    Great job mom. Hope your kiddos have a fabulous year. It’s fall break coming for my grands so yes it is 97 degrees and the pool is still open

  3. Thank you for the update of your first days of school! Each of them have been thought of and prayed for! Sounds like it’s going to be a GREAT YEAR. Leo looks great. So glad the surgery is behind him! Everett is certainly thought of and missed. Loved the tattoos as a family.

  4. Poor Leo getting sick at the school. I can’t imagine going through that but I’m sure you handled it like the amazing mom you are. Your kids are precious and I love following along on this journey. You inspire me to be a better mom. Cheers to a great school year.

  5. Carrie Corrigan says:

    I laughed AND cried reading this post. The Kelleys are seriously the best thing since the invention of donnas.

  6. I feel your car rider line pain. I pick up kids from different schools not near each other with their bossy 3 yr old sister in tow. Despite their anxiety I had to get them used to being the last kid. Only way to make pickup quick is to aim for being one of the last 10 cars so I purposely go 15-20 minutes late rather than sit still in a slow line with their sister screaming at me to go.

  7. I remember throwing up at school one time. I was in first grade, in PE. I told the PE teacher and she said “Don’t tell me! Go tell your teacher!”. Can you imagine? Thankfully, my actual teacher was wonderful!

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