Thursday Love

My creating has been insanely limited this year.  I can get really sad about it some days because I love to create and it’s my business and both are zero right now, but then there are these two littles who are anxious and stressed and sad and grieving and attaching and bonding and sick and just struggling and I’m reminded this is a season…a season, but a really important one.  And seasons come to an end eventually.  So for now I’ll choose to carry on and crack up at this pile of unfinishedness beside our kitchen table instead of cry. 🙂

Hold the ice-cream phone please.  Beth recommended the red velvet flavor and ummmmmm, it’s freakin delicious.  My new favorite for sure.  Josh Kelley and I almost devoured the entire container in one standing in our kitchen.

Josh brought home a plastic pool for Memorial Day and it is easily the best $15 we’ve spent in quite some time.  Every day kids are swimming laps in it and it makes me chuckle so hard.  Everett on the other hand is still completely skeptical of this whole “swimming” thing.  In fact he’s yet to actually sit in the pool/wave pool/slip n’ slide.  Standing is his swimming game.  He loves the bath, but is a big no on the outside pool activities.

This is my new favorite lunch.  Let’s discuss the contents of this sandwich…avocado, Everoast Chicken, tomato, pickles, lettuce, bacon, avocado again and mustard.  Be still my sandwich loving heart.

I found the boys like this the other morning in between the 6 and 7am slot with the Star Wars opening credits rolling.  I can’t explain how much I love love love that they don’t remember life without one another.  My twins.  4 months apart.  They were the cutest babies together and they are the cutest 8-year-olds together too.  I’m the luckiest.

I’ve decided my next business venture with be in the floral business because flowers are my jam lately.  First, I’m going to start out of our house.  People will bring in their pickle, salsa, banana pepper, jelly, roasted red pepper, fruit, olive, spaghetti sauce, etc etc jars and we’ll fill them with flowers.  Josh is going to quit his job and solely grow the most amazing flowers ever in our backyard. It’s sure to be a hit and we’ll definitely still be able to feed all these children.  🙂 Hahahaha.

Amon drew our new van and I died.  Let’s all take note at how much magnadoodle space the van takes up…all of it…and how many wheels it has…a ton…and how giant my head is…so ginormous…and how thin my appendages are…sticks.  Alas, I love him.

And this week at Everett’s cardiologist appointment we got our first slither of good news since we got home…a good blood work report came back and he does not have to get blood drawn next week.  All the praise hands.  I have had so much anxiety and sadness and stress about Everett’s little heart.  We’re on the cusp of a possible big, scary move for Everett and his heart.  The waiting in the unknown is crazy hard…plus Josh really wants to take him to the beach and currently we can’t plan anything while we wait to hear.  And the thought of handing our boy over to a team of surgeons for a risky initial surgery makes me want to vomit.  My prayer for Everett is so simple right now because it’s all I can muster out, “God, I surrender Everett and his heart to you.  I know you love him even more than we do.  Please heal his heart.”  Please continue to pray with us for supernatural healing in Everett.  We believe in a God who works miracles.

 

Now I’m off to finish watching Trolls for the umpteen time 🙂

Happy Thursday.

Now It’s Officially…

…summer.  Let the sun & fun commence all summer long.  4 hours at the wave pool is 4 hours well spent.

If you need us we’ll be at Wave Country.  Maybe we’ll see you there.

Happy Wednesday.

PS:  Thank you for all the game recommendations.  So many good ones.  You guys are too good.

Summering

Last Thursday was Harper, Hudson and Solomon’s last day of school.  We are officially officially on summer break and there’s no turning back.

August 2016

May 2017

Past years.  Sigh.

We have already been summering pretty hard, but summer hasn’t officially kicked off until we head to the wave pool.  I got so tickled at Solomon on Friday morning…their first day of summer and no school…he spent most of the morning reorganizing his Pokemon cards.  He is so funny and I could squish him all the time.

Chalk art and mulberry concoctions from our yard have been in heavy rotation.  They like to make potions and mixtures and “cook” with them.  It often involves a massive mess and water and plastic baggies.  And Amon inevitable rubs mulberries all over a leg to make me think he’s bleeding.

Has anyone else tried these?  I thought it was a major hoax…like there’s no way they could taste good…well, I was wrong.  So far peanut butter and cookie dough are yummy.  The two remaining in our freezer are chocolate almond and cookies and cream.  If you’ve had them, what’s your favorite flavor??  I’d love to know.

Games, games and more games.  Sequence has become a fast favorite.  I recently heard Ticket To Ride was fun too.  We are avid game nighters so if you have a fun game you love let me know.  I feel like I’m asking a lot of you guys lately…makeup recommendations, favorite Halo flavors and now favorite games.  Geez.

Cousin time forever.  Plus, plastic pool for the win.  Everyone loves a plastic pool…big and small.  Best $15 investment of summer.

We also got a new van.  And by van I mean 12 passenger bus.  Yes, yes we are those people now.  Today I had to back it out of a parking spot at our cardiologist’s office and YOU GUYS!!!!  Oh goodness.  It just so happen Josh was in the area and pulled into the parking lot just in time to watch part of it go down and laugh with me.  I did however drive through Walgreens to get one of Everett’s prescription refills and we all cheered when I successfully did not scrape the side or knock off a mirror.  Winning.  Now to figure out maneuvering Sonic happy hour.

And if you are looking for a car, we totally recommend Wholesale Inc.  They are way more than just a good place to purchase a great reliable vehicle…the people are kind, generous and loving.  Make sure you ask for Chad Cunningham or Ben Webster…both crazy crazy kind!  The world needs more businesses and people doing what they love with integrity and kindness.  We could not recommend Wholesale and their people more. It was an honor and privilege to work with them.  Bonus: All the doors on this van work. 🙂 

We also broke out a slip n’ slide for Memorial Day.  The funniest thing ever.  Josh likes to call it the slip n’ bleed.  Solomon and Amon both would fling themselves down it with reckless abandon.  I was shocked no one got injured.  High 5s all around.

And we’re just 6 days into this summer thing and late nights and partying hard has already got us all like…

Everyone wants to pack in all the fun immediately if not sooner and oddly enough, I get it.  I feel the urgency and the desire to make this the most fun summer ever.  I want Everett to experience it all and I want us all to soak this guy and the rays up.  We’ll see how far we get before we all crash into a tanned, wet bathing suit mess on the floor.  Lord help us.  Let’s do this.

Happy Tuesday.

Make-up

Such a random post for this Monday holiday night.  We spent all day with family…eating, laughing and playing games.  So much fun.  Now everyone’s in bed and Josh Kelley and myself are posted up in our living room watching the Predators play in game 1 of the Stanley Cup!!!  Go Preds!!!!  This is serious Nashville business people.  There are viewing parties everywhere and the local Pittsburg fish markets are carding people who want to purchase catfish 🙂  Nashville does not play around with our loyalties.

Anyways, one of my goals for the New Year was to try and take better care of my body…including my face.  I’ve been really happy with a new face regimen I’ve been using, but was curious about makeups.  I am so so basic when it comes to my makeup and don’t really want to add a bunch of stuff, but would love to hear if you have something you really love and recommend.  I’d like to keep things pretty simple still.

Right now my current little makeup bag has the following:

bareMinerals MATTE foundation powder in light

bareMinerals All-Over Face Color warmth

Covergirl Lashblast Volume black

Revlon Colorstay Brow Pencil dark brown

Benefit Black Eyeliner pencil

I know, I know, I know…no eyeshadow or lipstick.  I’m just not good at using them so I never do.  Am I to the point in life where it’s just time to own up and make it happen?!?!?!  Sigh.

The only other thing in my makeup bag besides a pencil sharpener and a few random q-tips are my brushes:

bareMinerals Max Coverage Concealer Brush

bareMinerals Flawless Face Brush

bareMinerals Full Flawless Face Brush

Here’s the other deal…I’m a major creature of habit.  I have used most of this…minus the mascara and brow pencil which I just started using due to recommendations from friends…since 2011!!!  Insert shocked emoji face.

SIDENOTE:  I love this mascara and brow pencil so much!!!  I have been a hardcore Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in that old school bubble gum pink tube since I started wearing makeup!!!  Insert another shocked face emoji.  It was hard to change, but my friend Ashley showed me the way.  Then my friend Jessica Instagram storied about this brow pencil and how to use it and it changed my life.  I told Josh Kelley when I die to make sure someone does my brows.  He said he’d sharpie them in.  Alas.  End SIDENOTE.

I’ve had the same brushes the entire time too…minus one I had to replace when baby Amon threw it in a toilet full of morning pee.  Insert yet another shocked face emoji.  So I don’t handle change well, but I’m open to recommendations.

So please share if you have something great you love.  I would love to hear it.

Happy Memorial Day!!!

*Amazon affiliates

Things Making My Days

Tennesse skies always and forever.

My friend Robyn surprise gifting me with this awesome tee!!!!  Isn’t she the cutest?!?!?!  And the nicest?!?!?!  And then there’s the tee which I will want to wear every dang day.  Let’s claim it ladies.

These two…of course.

Two new discoveries at Target:  1. They’re Archer Farms pizza that has spinach and basil and cherry tomatoes and goat cheese…OH MY!!!!!  And 2.  Real brand dark chocolate peanut butter cups.  I may have purchased waaaayyyy too many bags of them on clearance and then needed to buy them their own separate container.  Alas.

Josh Kelley’s mom and dad…AKA Big Daddy and Nene.  They just love their grandkids and family well.  At Harper’s awards day this week I snagged these two pics and I love them both.  I think they are even more proud of all their grandkids than all of us parents are.

Everett sleeping wherever he sees fit.  Sometimes I just creepily stare at him.  Ahhhhh.

Kroger flowers…always & forever.  When you don’t have a pickle jar available, a coffee tin or a salsa jar will work too.

Josh Kelley sitting on our counter top telling his sister a rousing good story.  Oh goodness do I love this guy.  Right now we feel like we’re drowning, but laughter is keeping us a float…I mean, and Jesus 🙂  When I ask him how he’s doing he always responds with, “So far, so good.”  Hahahaha.  Name that movie!

A surprise strawberry delivery by my mom’s sweet friend Roy.  We still keep in contact with him and the other day he randomly called and asked if I was home.  Then there he sat in our driveway with two huge things of yummy strawberries.  He is the kindest.

And I’ve looked at this picture over and over again this week of all 4 of my boys with some of their friends at field day.  When Josh and I first started a family I dreamt of being a mom to 4 boys…and here I am.  Good gracious.  How in the world?!?!?  God is too too good.

It’s mid-week.  We made it.  And the weekend is just around the corner.

Happy Wednesday.

Round Here

Are any of you singing Counting Crows now…just me?!?!  It immediately popped into my head and now is spinning the tune.  But I digress.

So everyone is still alive in the Kelley house and that is a giant plus 🙂  The end of school plus Everett’s health plus this need to be around people we love right now is filling our time plus I got strep for the 2nd time in two weeks.  At the end of 2016 we knew this season would be a wild one so we decided to limit the kid’s activities.  Hudson and Solomon are the only ones in something right now and it’s karate…down our street…that Josh takes them to.  In hind sight this was the best decision for us.  I cannot imagine running kids here and there and there and here right now.  I would likely perish…especially with the current state of our van…ahhhhh!!!  So while this season feels especially hard it also feels especially sweet getting to spend so much time together with the people we love.

Everett’s health is at the forefront right now.  We’re at the doctor every week and are in close communication with our cardiologist.  We also have two possibilities brewing with hospitals in Boston and Ann Arbor.  We are of course anxiously waiting to hear the final decision.  Shuai is doing so well adjusting and with bonding and attachment, but that dang heart is giving us all a run for our money.  If I talk too long about him…his special heart & body…his sweet little self…I will burst into tears.  This kid owns every single one of us.  He has made us mush once again and we all feel like the luckiest.

Harper wraps up elementary school this week and will venture off to middle school in the fall.  I love this girl.  I love who she is and who she is becoming.  I love her personality and her heart.  I love her sense of humor and easy goingness.  I just love her…period.  She preformed in her end-of-the-year program last week…it was sooooo cute!  Field day was today and tomorrow is awards day and picnic day.  4th graders live it up.  She just makes me smile and is almost as tall as me.  Seriously, I predict she’s going to pass me by next year.

And she’s getting contacts next week…per her request for summer.  WHY WILL TIME NOT STOP?!?!?!

Amon graduated pre-school last week too and will be headed off the kindergarten in the fall.  He’s nervous/soooooooooooo excited.  He cannot wait to eat lunch at school and walk in with his big brothers and make new friends, but he’s nervous about homework and his colors.  I could literally eat this kid alive.  Too weird!?!?!  I think not.  He just melts me.  He’s such a ball of wild joy and his excitement and love for life is enthralling.  His pre-K teacher gave his the Friend Award and just gushed over his kind heart.  I in turn sobbed in the crowd.  Josh Kelley and myself all the time question how on earth we got to be these kiddos’ parents.  It makes no sense, but we’re not ratting ourselves out yet.

We’re still sitting on counters like its our job.  Every single morning you will find Everett perched here.  Some mornings he is joined by other siblings.  Mornings are his hardest and this is his comfort spot.  He just needs this spot, some extra hugs, a yogurt cup and then he’s good to face the day.

Josh Kelley and I got in one last lunch date before summer commences.  Everett joined us of course and we we’re a-okay with that.  We’re soaking him in…every little second.

Amon also found a turtle and now stalks him.  He has since re-loacted the turtle two other times.  Apparently he lives in our backyard near our shed.  You would have seriously thought Amon won the lottery or something.  He is obsessed!!!!

In other news, I’ve never seen a turtle move so quickly while Amon, Everett and our littlest surrounded him.  He was all, “Get me the heck out of here.”  Seriously.  He turtle ran.  Quickly.  It was amazing to watch.

And today was field day.  I don’t know about you, but field day was my most favorite day of all in elementary school.  I would be so nervous excited the night before I wouldn’t sleep.  And my goal was to always win the 50/100 yard dash.  I love our kid’s school so much and they always have the best time.  This year Amon, Everett and our littlest all joined in and it was a blast!!!!!

I was reminded of how fragile Everett’s little heart was with how winded he got when he exerted himself too much.  He also had some chest pain so we sat out the rest of the day.  He knows his little body so well and was perfectly fine with riding around in our stroller the rest of the time.  Oh my heart…this kid!!!!!

I’m really going to try and touch base more this week.  I always miss this space and you guys when I’m away.  Thank you for reading and following along.  Thank you for the encouragement and kindness.  Thank you for praying for Everett and our littlest and our whole little tribe.  You guys are always the kindest…always!!!

Hope your week is off to a great start.  Here’s to a grand week.

Happy Monday!

Mother’s Day

First off, two reading recommendations.

Can anyone speak truth into a day like Mother’s Day more honestly than a woman?!?!  I just don’t know.  Ha.  This day is a mixed bag of emotions for so many, many people.  THIS article by Shannan is crazy good.  Big hard lovely truths surrounding such a day.

I read this on Julie’s IG and just nodded my head in agreeance.  This day is not just for women who have carried and birthed children.  It reaches far, far beyond that.

“To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children, we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children, we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent, we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”

Yes, yes, yes!

 We pretty much Mother’s Day-ed all weekend long.  Saturday morning I kicked things off with a solo workout and then Kroger for the purchasing of flowers only.  Not one grocery item.  Give me all the flowers.

That afternoon we partied at the cemetery…it’s just what we do.  I know she’s not there, but it’s a sweet tradition for me and our family to honor what an amazing mom and Grammy she was.  There were Funfetti cupcakes, flowers in a maraschino cherry jar and a rousing game of hide-and-seek around and behind headstones by the Kelley kids.  I always cringe thinking about someone falling.  Eeeh.  While there Everett snagged a cute little flag from someone’s grave and proceeded to take it for his own.  We did make him leave it, but unsure we were accurate in it’s placement.  Alas.

We also stopped and bought flowers in honor of our birth mamas to plant in our backyard.  Lots of people do different things…release balloons, write letters, give in their honor, etc etc  We let each of our kids pick out the flower of their choice for their birth mom and then we plant them in our yard.  Days like these can bring up all kinds of feelings for children with hard stories.  I always want to make sure we acknowledge not only their incredibly, invaluable birth families, but also their own little feelings and emotions.

That night we celebrated with the Carman’s.  Mother’s Day always felt extra wonky for me when we were waiting on kiddos to come home.  Throw in a heart kiddo and obviously there’s this feeling of, “We cannot get there quick enough”.  The kids ran wild and there we’re sodas and hot dogs and cookies and tater tots and a tasty rose wine.  We also “taught” Josh and Brooke how to play mahjong.  And by “taught” I mean we only accidentally made up one fake rule, but Andy and Becky told us the next day they thought that was pretty impressive.  Win.

At the end of the night there were a slew of empty soda and Capri Suns in our yard, an upside down hot dog by our front door and a bunch of happy hearts.  We decided next year we’ll celebrate again…no matter what.

Sunday we celebrated with Josh’s mom and family.  I did crack up that before I even got out of bed Shuai accidentally hit me in the eye with a 32oz water bottle.  Forget breakfast in bed, more like icepack in bed.

  At the Kelley’s there we’re BBQ nachos and smoked chicken legs and cornbread muffins and homemade Oreo ice-cream.  We talked Kelley clan vacation plans and a pretty intense game of 4 Square broke out.

It was great to be together.  That night random dinner items were consumed just prior to bedtime.  And before sending everyone off to bed I did make sure to beat them all in 4 Square lest they forget their Mom dominates.  One day they’ll start to beat me, but until then…I shall rule our 4 Square games with an iron kickball.  Muhuhahahaha.  We read one book and off everyone went.  At the end of the day I knew what I always know, I’m the luckiest mama in the world.

Hope everyone had a decent weekend and no matter what it was full of things like love and encouragement and grace.

Oh, almost forgot the most exciting part of the weekend…in honor of Mother’s Day…and my one and only request…Josh Kelley got Instagram.  It was a Mother’s Day miracle.

Happy Monday!

Darkness Will Not Consume Us

Mother’s Day feels very all over the place this year.  It will be 6 years this November since my Mom died and I miss her still, but God has done so much work in my heart, mind and body when it comes to losing her.  He has allowed me to shed so much heartache and anger and bitterness over the years and truthfully, I miss her all the time and Mother’s Day doesn’t really amplify that for me anymore.  Of course it is still a giant reminder of “Hey, your Mom is dead” 🙂 but so many things in life do the same thing.  As the years pass God teaches me more and more how to deal with those moments.

I find it so interesting all the different ways a random holiday can heighten ones senses to others.  Every year I notice more and more about this holiday and others alike.  I see how different the day can spin for each individual.  I know the death of my own Mom made this so for me.  With Mother’s Day you have women who are longing to become moms, you have new moms and waiting moms and moms of biological, adopted and foster children. There are mamas who long to be celebrated, but there’s no one there to celebrate them.  There are single moms and newly divorced moms and moms who are now widows.  There are moms who grieve the loss of their children, moms who are sick and people who are taking care of their own sick mothers.  There are people who’s mothers have died or who have never experienced what it’s like to have a healthy relationship with their mom.  There are mamas who no longer have relationships with their own children and people who have no idea who their mom is or was.  There are birth mamas near and far who either rejoice or cringe or a mixture of both on this day.  And still so many others.  One day can amplify so many many different feelings…such a wide range of emotions and feelings on display.

This Mother’s Day has found my heart, mind and body in such a funk.  I lay awake at night researching Everett’s health issues and his heart failure medications and more than I’d like to admit, I’ve gone to google to try and figure out his life expectancy.  It has crossed my mind 5,000 times, “Will this be my one and only Mother’s Day with Everett?”.  Questions and what ifs and the unknown and shitty realities reel in our heads and hearts most of the days.

 Grief is so heavy in our home from what feels like 1000 different angles.  Everett is a sweet roller coaster of emotions from one minute fine and well adjusted to the next minute falling apart at the hinges, right on top of me and crying his eye balls out.  He asks to see his best friend almost every day and will sit and watch the video of him on repeat.  He has already adjusted his “Mama help you” to “Mama help me” because GEEZ this kid is smart, but those English words are still forming and his blank little stare slays me dead.

Our littlest is very similar, but throw in massive tantrums.  There are so many unknowns right now with her and she is dealing with confusion and questioning her place and where she belongs coupled with sadness.  We’ve regressed in lots of areas and when people give us the side eye or make THAT comment, I want to A) Throat punch them #healthy and B) Tell them how strong and amazing and resilient and brave this girl is and they have no idea about her little life and all the unfair thoughts that swirl in her little mind.  I want them to know what I know because if they did they’d give us a smile and keep that judgey comment to themselves, but we move along because I owe them nothing and I will protect her story fiercely.

Amon is grieving as well for his birth family.  It came out of no where or so we thought, but then we realized an important event in his past had taken place at this same time and although his little mind doesn’t remember his body does.  He cries and draws pictures for them and I help him write notes.  He picks flowers every day for his birth mom and puts them in a little glass bottle and when one bottle fills up we add a new one.  He is so excited about picking out flowers to plant in our back yard in honor of her…a Mother’s Day tradition to honor our birth mamas.

Throw in every day life like trying to keep the laughter alive, maintaining somewhat normal relationships within our own home and the outside world, Harper starting middle school, our van breaking, medical bills, making big medical decisions for Everett, loving each other well and and and.  This is life though.  Everyone has their struggles…their ups and downs.  Everyone has these seasons.  Some seasons are just longer and harder than others.  I have trouble with knowing how to pray for our family…outside of the “God just heal his heart” or “God just be what they need” and I have been terrible at reading my Bible.

Today I told myself no matter what that I would read my Bible…no matter what.  I talked very candidly with God before I started reading the short little 9 verses which sat before me.  I told Him, “I don’t really know what to say to You right now and I’m not sure this book has what I need today, but I’m going to give it a shot.”  And then I read about darkness, the ninth plague I originally started reading about in late February.  And I cried when I read a description of the darkness, “a darkness to be felt” or “a darkness so dark you could touch it”.  That is how I feel right now.  I can literally feel the darkness and it weighs heavy on us.  And as I read on I was reminded yet again, He is here.  He knows.  He will never leave.  He sees us.  He hears our cries even when we continue to cry the same simple thing over and over again and can’t muster up anything else.

Exodus goes on to say that while the people of Egypt were in the darkness they did not see one another and no one could rise.  I don’t want that to be me.  I don’t want to be so consumed by my darkness that I can’t see others around me and I cannot rise to where God has called me to go.  I cried more.  Please God, don’t let that be me.  Please.  I read further and there sat my hope, “…but the people of Israel had light” or “…except for the Israelites: they had the light”.  I have the Light.  God literally lives in me so I have His light, His hope, His peace.  I cannot be consumed by this darkness because God drives out darkness.  He is the light of the world.  He breaks through the darkness.  He is light in the midst of darkness.  Darkness will not consume us because He has overcome.  These are things I know, but when the darkness feels so thick you can touch it, it’s easy to forget.  I needed this reminder more than I ever.

So here’s what I know…life is messy and hard…He never promised us easy.  He calls us into loving and caring for each other well.  And He knows how damn hard living in this fallen world is.  He sees each one of us right where we are and knows our hearts, hears our cries and loves us the same every single day.  His plans are always better and wildly good and we can never fathom all He has planned for us.  He is always good even when the darkness is so thick we can touch it.  And the darkness will not remain…it can’t when the Light lives in us.  He is light and He has come to cut through the darkness and to shine bright.

Praying for all your hearts this weekend wherever they may land and in whatever state they may sit.  God is still good…He always is…and He loves us like no other.