Kindness Advent

I’ve always had the best of intentions to do advent and until last year it never happened…at all.  But last year was different.  And it was good.  After seeing this pin on Pinterest about Random Acts of Kindness, I knew this would be a new Kelley tradition and we would do it fully and we would do it well.  It made my heart happy and I felt like it set the focus for our family in a season that is full to the brim of hustle and bustle.  So began our kindness advent.  We made a list and set out to do one act of kindness everyday in December leading up to Christmas.

Here’s how we did ours from last year…pulled from THIS POST)…ignore the not-so-great-pictures, I was working with a broken camera:)

**I don’t have a lot of room in our house, so I needed an advent that would not take up much space.  I decided on envelopes and today Harper and I made our official advent envelopes.  Here were our supplies:

Glue sticks, small clips, small paper bags (Hobby Lobby), number stickers, plain paper and patterned paper.

First we covered the front of bags with some patterned paper.

Then we cut out some small circles and added number stickers and then glued the circles to the front of the bags.  Josh and I had brainstormed earlier this week, so I re-wrote our ideas on individual pieces of paper.  I had to modify the original ideas because of the 3 small Kelleys.  Let’s face it…we would be a disaster trying to load someones groceries into their car…they may even pay us to leave them alone 🙂

Harper stuffed the envelopes.

Then I hung up our ribbon and attached the envelopes with the small clips.  Easy cheesy.

So that was last year.  This year I wanted to do a little something different because I want to leave up our thankful leaves until Christmas cards start rolling in.

So I bought these cheap little wire hanger things on Pick Your Plum and just clipped all my envelopes to them instead.  Super easy.

Sidenote:  If you do Pick Your Plum deals, go in with a friend and save on shipping.  Courtney and I are notorious Pick Your Plum groupies and it saves us money.  Insert fist bump here.

Here’s a list of lots of different options for your own Kindness Advent.

*Cupcakes to bank  *Leave encouraging notes or gift cards on cars  *Volunteer your time

*Buy someone’s breakfast/lunch/dinner  *Send flowers or giveaway flowers

*Doughnuts to school  *Take balloons and/or treats to hospital

*Pump someone’s gas  *Go caroling  *Carepacks for homeless  *Feed parking meters

*Leave a big tip  *Anonymous chalk art or door hangers  *Food gift cards for homeless

*Give gift card to shopper or leave in shopping carts  *Gift cards for single parent

*Birthday/Christmas bag drop *Make & leave bookmarks at library or bookstore

*Hide $1 bills at Dollar Tree  *Over pay for Contributor newspaper

*Sticky notes on public bathroom mirror  *Treat for Salvation Army bell ringer

*Donations to Crisis Pregnancy Center  *Tip drive-thru worker

*Muffins to pediatricians office  *Hold the door for shoppers  *Decorate someone’s porch or mailbox

*Leave change at laundromat  *Return shopping carts from parking lot

*Tape change to vending machine or bubble gum machines

*Pay strangers over due fees at library  *Gift wrap presents for free

*Treats for library workers  *Help a family for Christmas  *Do free yard work for someone

*Bag of groceries with recipes to a family  *Pass out candy canes  *Paint rocks and leave for others to find

*Popcorn, candy & movie rental bucket to a family *Babysit for couple/single parent

*Handmade cards to nursing home  *Pay for someone’s Santa picture

*Giveaway balloons/stickers/books to kids shopping w/parents

*Treat for mailman, post office workers, trash collector and/or police & fire station

*School supply donations to a classroom  *Bring up neighbors trash can

*Gift or flowers for custodian at school  *Give genuine compliments

*Card for loved one  *Pay for car behind you in drive thru line

*Mail handwritten letters of encouragement  *Pick up trash

*Coffee for people waiting for bus or outdoor workers  *Donate blood

*Treat for bus driver  *Donate non perishables to food pantry

*Gift card for all night gas station/store worker  *Share Sonic happy hour

*Leave surprises at playground (Coins, small toys, filled Easter eggs)  *Read to a classroom

Like last year, I will be documenting each day of our acts of kindness.  I cannot wait.  The kids are getting excited.  This year took a little more planning since Harper is in school and I wanted her to still be able to participate, but I think we took care of everything and planned well.  I hope you will join us.  It’s going to be fun.  Tis’ the season for kindness…you know you want to do it too.

Happy Wednesday.

Storing Art Supplies + Giveaway

I know you all have just been on the edge of your seats for today’s post.  I’m sure some of you even set your alarms to get up super early and read about how we store our art supplies.  It’s a pretty hot topic.

Let me start off with yes, I do let my kids draw and cut and color and glue and watercolor and stamp at any point in the day…no permission needed.  No, that may not work for your family.  This is just what works for us and I do realize I probably let my kids handle some supplies and tools a bit early…and I paid for it sometimes…like when Huddy cut Sol’s hair when they were like 18-months-old right when our social worker was arriving for a visit.  Ha!  But I have put major time into teaching the wee Kelleys how to respect their art supplies and how to handle and use them correctly…like not using scissors to give each other haircuts.  Art supplies required responsibility  So do what works for you and your kiddos.  Different strokes, for different folks.  Right on!

So here’s the method to our crazy crafty madness.  Essentially we have two main containers that hold most of our craft supplies.  The bigger one holds some supplies that the wee Kelleys have to ask permission to get out and use.  It has two layers of supplies…yes, I am crazy when it comes to organizing.  It’s not healthy, but all of these items have to fit into this one container.  In the bottom is paint (acrylics & fingers paints…does not include watercolors), dot painters & rollers and embellishments.

The next layer consists of pipe cleaners, beads, string, glitter, confetti and pom poms.  I mainly take most items out of their original packaging and relocate them to zip-lock bags and beads and embellishments are stored in bead boxes with all the little fun compartments.

Pretty sure the first container stresses Josh Kelley out.

Kelley Family Fun Fact #88:  Josh Kelley hates and I mean H.A.T.E.S glitter.  How did we ever get together?!?!

The other container is smaller and shallow and hold supplies they can get out any time they would like…pastels, school glue, giant box of Crayolas, stickers and mini markers.

These both fit nicely on one of Harper’s low shelves in her closet.

We also have this killer piece of furniture that holds dvds, cds, camera gear and our tv sits on top.  My mom found it at a used furniture store for cheap…it was ugly…I painted it and voila…teal organizing loveliness.

The top middle drawer is the wee Kelleys…easily accessible for them.  It holds stamp sets, paper, notebooks and watercolors.

And lastly I use jars.  Lots and lots of jars.  The jars hold pencils, colored pencils, fat markers, skinny markers, twist up crayons, paintbrushes, regular crayons and Sharpies.

Then I use one small basket to hold the fat markers, skinny markers, regular crayons, paint brushes and colored pencil jars.  This basket is kept in the teal piece so the boys or Harper can get to it and any time.  All they have to do is pull the one basket out and put it on the table.

Harper’s room is downstairs right beside the kitchen/living room and dining room so the other jars of Sharpies, twistable crayons and pencils are kept in her room on their little table.  Along with a tape dispenser, a small basket that holds glues sticks, scissors and erasers and another girly bucket that hold’s different fun pens that have been specifically given to Harper at some point…like birthday, Christmas, etc or she bought them with her own money.

The boys are allowed to use their table in Harper’s room or go in and bring out any of the jars whenever they would like.  I also make them help with going through supplies…like testing markers and tossing all the ones that do not work anymore.  This is our test sheet.

And I do make them clean up after themselves…being an artist takes some responsibility…even on super crafty days when things get a little out of hand.  When they put up a fight, which sometimes they totally do…they’re kids, I just make it clear that if we can’t be responsible and clean up after ourselves, then we won’t be able to use our art supplies.  Usually that gets them going.  I tell them all the time, “I say what I mean and I mean what I say”, so art privileges have been revoked before.  Boom.

Hope this helps a bit…hope you feel empowered to let your wee ones get crafty…don’t be scared…you can do it.  Just find what works for your family and go for it…you may have a budding artist at your fingertips.

Happy Crafting!

PS:  I am a guest giveaway over at Dreaming Big Dreams today.  Up for grabs is one of my 4×12 “Where you invest your love” canvas.  Head over and enter to win.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

This morning I am thinking about how precious we are to God and missing my mom.  One thing she reminded me of often was how valuable I was in the eyes of the Lord.  I am His!  Today I was reminded of one of her most favorite verses:

Matthew 10:29-31  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

I hope some of you needed this reminder like I did today.  And thank you for your continued prayers for Amon.  Turns out he has an infection now, so looks like we are going to be here a few more days.  He is truly an incredible kid.

And Happy Birthday to my brother Chris.  Pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog, but wanted to throw a shout out just in case.  Love you Chris!

Now how about a Halloween re-post in honor of the 1st day of October.  This is a project Harper and I did last October.  Hope you will enjoy.  Original post here.


I recently saw a cute little Halloween paper bunting on Pinterest.

If you haven’t ventured out and joined Pinterest yet…I totally recommend that you do.  It is amazing and a great waste of time.

If you need an invite, just let me know.

You can check out all my boards HERE.

The original of this adorable Halloween bunting belongs to Organize & Decorate Everything.  I loved the idea, the fact that it was all out of paper and that it was easy and quick…no special trip to Hobby Lobby.

So Harper and I took another bit of time to make some paper bunting for our family to enjoy.  The boys were done crafting, so this was mainly Harper’s doing, with my assistance.  Needless to say, when we were done, she was thrilled with her handy work.

Everything was made out of paper and then we just used a piece of ribbon and some small clips to hang each flag up.

Harper had a lot of her own ideas for each little flag, so we added our own Kelley touches here and there.

And when all Halloween crafting was said and done, there was nothing better I could have done with my time this morning.  And I felt better, like I had really actually accomplished something…finally.  And the kids and I were all in great moods and ready to tackle the rest of the day.  So maybe my one little coping skill really does work.


Happy Monday!

Congestion, Meds & Crafts {Advice}

So this is our go-to plan for getting rid of Amon’s congestion.  I’m like a decongestion nazi around here…honestly, I’m a bit on the crazy side trying to get rid of it.  If you have any recommendations I would love to hear them.  And keep in mind Amon is just 5-months-old.

And I so wish I could sleep like this.  Just out.  Out like a light.  A heavy, deep sleep.

Boys drinking from tea cups are so cute.  They seem like little men hanging at the Cracker Barrel together for an early bird’s breakfast.  I love them!

Amon has been having major fun in his jumpin’ johnny thing.  What is not fun is giving him his meds.  He HATES them.  I always had luck with the other 3 wee Kelleys when they were little by just blowing in their face when I gave them medicine.  They always swallowed it right down with one little blow.  But Amon…well, Amon is a different story.  Any one out there have any tricks for getting babies to take medicine?  I would so appreciate them.

I have been thinking about ways to pass the time in the hospital.  Do you have any recommendations for some good crafts?  I’m debating on seriously taking my canvases and all my supplies and just setting up shop in Amon’s hospital room because I’m totally not leaving 🙂  But if that doesn’t pan out…seems like a lot to tote to a hospital…I’m looking for smaller crafts that require less materials.  So I would love some recommendations if you have any.  I’ll have lots of time on my hands.

So any advice on how to get rid of baby congestion, how to get babies to take their medicine or recommendations on crafts I can do at the hospital would be awesomely appreciated.  Leave a comment or shoot me a message…I would be so grateful.

Oh and our Hopeful Heart Giveaway ends tonight at midnight and I will post the winner tomorrow.  Up for grabs is this 11×14 Hold Onto Hope canvas and a stellar tee.  CLICK HERE to enter.

Hope you have a great weekend & happy Friday!

Fabric Swords

I’ve had this fabric sword tutorial by Simply Homemade pinned on my Kiddos Pinterest board for forever.  A few weeks ago we were just having one of those days…you know, a day when everyone just needed a little pick-me-up.  I remembered this little tutorial and the kids and I set to work.

You can see the full tutorial HERE.

I loved this tutorial and it was super simple to follow.  I did stray just a bit, but it was purely to save myself time.

After I cut out the 6 sword shapes (2 pieces per sword) from the heavy weight interfacing…

I then ironed each piece directly onto the fabric of each wee Kelleys choice.  I just didn’t want to trace and cut again and then iron on, so I just ironed the interfacing directly to the fabric…I need to save time any way possible 🙂

Then I cut the swords out.

Once all 6 sword pieces were ironed and cut out…

I added their initials to one side and then sewed the 2 pieces together.

Needless to say, this was the perfect pick-me-up for our day.  There has been an endless supply of sword fighting ever since.

Check out the full tutorial HERE…I just included the information for the short cut I took in making them.  Time is of the essence around the Kelley house 🙂

Now go make some swords.  Happy Tuesday!

PS: Giveaway tomorrow!  Yippeee!

Back-To-School + Banner

Today is Harper’s first day of school.  I cannot believe I have a kindergartener.  She was so excited & honestly, I was too…but with some tears attached.  I’m a bit weepy today anyways…9 months since Mom died, school starting, a big doctor’s appointment for Amon and a few other big life kind of things going on.  Just one of those “heavy-on-the-heart” kind of days.  But I decided yesterday, that today I was going to be brave.  And Harper was just so excited, so I wanted to be excited right along with her.  It was full on game face in the classroom, but once I stepped out into the hallway I let myself have my cry 🙂

But it’s going to be a great year.  I just know it.  We love her teacher already and Harper is really beyond thrilled to finally start school.  And of course we took Ms. Bruno an apple on the first day.

Since the boys started school last week, Harper, Amon and I had 2 days last week when it was just us.  Harper always wants to do crafty things and with the boys away, I knew just what we would make.  With school finally starting, we decided to make a Back-To-School banner.

Super easy and super fun.

Here is what you will need:  Watercolor paper, watercolors, pencil, fine tip Sharpie or pen and scissors.

To start we brainstormed about things that remind of us school…pencils, crayons, backpacks, lunchboxes, rulers, markers, apples, books, letters, numbers, glue etc.  Then we set to work.

First, we drew our pictures in pencil and next we traced them with a fine tip Sharpie or pen…either works.

Then our favorite part, we painted each drawing with our watercolors.

Once they were dry, we cut the pictures out.

From here, I simply ran all of our drawings under my sewing machine to make the banner.

You could easily glue them to ribbon or use mini clothes pins & twine…there are lots of different ways to finish this project out.  Whatever you choose, it will be fantastic.

My personal favorite was Harper’s Mo. 2 pencil 🙂

And now we’re ready for school.  Can’t believe this day is here.  It’s a bit hard on this Momma’s heart, but it will be such a good, good year.  Happy Monday!

Expedited & Book Cookies

Well I had this little post about some cookies I decorated with some of our favorite book characters…kind of lame, but it was a Friday post and I do like cookies 🙂  Then I woke up in the middle of the night…3:30amish…couldn’t go back to sleep…felt like God was spurring my heart, so I got up and went to check email.  And there it sat.  An email all the way from Addis with a subject line that read: Cleared Case.

(The sleeping grin at its best.)

And that is what I would like to call “expedited.”  Amon’s case was submitted for embassy last Wednesday, but we got word that it was officially submitted, like it finally got in the right hands on Monday.  5 days…that is definitely what I want to praise God for.  Expedited indeed.  I’m just floored and why should I be?  God is so so good.  So we get our embassy appointment confirmed Monday and I’m flying out next week.  I can’t believe it’s finally here.  I’m actually leaving and coming back with my son.  I’m buying plane tickets and actually getting on a plane.

I laid in bed and just thought about how I would love to pick up the phone and wake my Mom up to tell her the news.  I called way too late to chat, way too many time.  I liked her sleepy voice…her startled voice, “Laura, what, is everything okay, what’s wrong?  Oh, you just need to know how to boil water?  Okay.” 🙂  I always had ridiculous cooking questions for her.  She would have been Over.The.Moon…to say the least.  Everyday is a battle over the sadness…every single day.  Grief still hangs around, at least for me, for a long time.  So today is seriously one of the best Friday’s ever…one of the best days ever…and also a really hard one.  She would have been so smitten with Amon and it overwhelms my heart thinking about all the prayers she prayed for our sweet boy…even though she never had the honor of seeing his face.  But she was that type of woman…that type of mother…that type of Grammy.  A woman I most definitely want to be like.  So here’s to a crazy awesome Mom and a son who has rocked our world in the best way ever.  This is a Friday to remember.

{Post intended for today.}

Since I was making cookies yesterday and had some leftover dough, I decided to make a few with some of our favorite book characters.  We are crazy book people.  I, myself, do not read a ton…I wish I did.  I’m working on it.  Kids books on the other hand…The wee Kelleys, they are a whole new ball game.  We read every single day and lots of books.  We have way too many favorites, but some that are always in heavy rotation are as follows:

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems.  Every pigeon book actually.  Every Mo Willems’ book actually…they are all amazing.

Olivia by Ian Falconer.  Again…all Olivia books are off the hook.

A Color Of His Own by Leo Lionni.  Again…Leo Lionni…incredible.  Pictures are crazy good.

Not A Box by Antoinette Portis.  Way cute.

And Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Mem Fox.

So I picked some of my favorite pictures from the book and set to work.  These will probably not see the end of the day.  They will be all eaten.  The wee Kelleys cannot wait to help devour them.  It’s probably going to be a good day.

What are some of your kids most favorite books?  There are great ones out there.

Have a great weekend.  Happy Friday!