Hello Monday!

One of our last kindness advent activities was encouraging sticky notes left in a public bathroom.  Harper went the extra mile this year by also sticky noting the toilet paper dispensers and the back of the stall doors.  Girl goes all out 🙂

We ended this year’s kindness advent with flowers.  Amon, Solomon and I eat a ton of pickles.  I made this pact with myself once I realized how many jars of pickles we were tearing through that I would fill every empty jar with flowers and give them away.  Josh Kelley said something had to give when I had stock piled 7 jars, but I had a plan.

We bought several different bunches of flowers and then assembled them into all the jars.  Christmas Day we gave all the jars away to neighbors, friends and family.  And our kindness advent ended on a colorful note.

The weather has been insane in Tennessee.  Super warm, shorts and tees and tornados.  Crazy town for Christmas weather.  And the weather has taken a serious tole on the allergic/asthma kid variety…which is Hudson Kelley.  Pour kid has been hitting his peace pipe like crazy.  He goes into his “ahhhhh, I can finally breath zone” when he does his treatments.  Cracks us up.

We’re game people around our house.  We like games and our kids like games and they totally love to learn new games.  This Christmas we’ve played old and new favorites.  Harper and Sol are playing speed and slap jack everyday now which is fun…except when one of them schools me.  I’m their mother…I’m suppose to beat them every time.

In Josh’s family we all draw names so everyone gets one present.  Josh asked for the Pie Face game and a new pocket knife.  This game really is as fun as it looks.  We played and all just howled with laughter.  Amon was the best because he went nutso crazy with excitement every time he got pied and then broke down into tears when he didn’t.  He also wanted high-5s every time he got pied.  So much fun!!!

I have the absolute funniest video ever of littlest getting pied.  It is hilarious and I so wish I could share it.  Just imagine the cutest little one with whip cream all over one eye with the grandest smile in all the land.  It’s the best.  She also has started feeding herself with a spoon, so I’ll sub in this picture of her finishing off whatever is in her bowl.

Holidays always put me out of sorts a bit.  Things are all over the place and mixed up and busy and we fall out of our routine.  I struggle with what things should really look like…how should our Christmas really go down each year.  Every year I find my heart in turmoil, but always land on we just have to do our best…we just have to try and love like Jesus did.  This Christmas proved to be very different than last year’s and quite emotional.  I’m so glad it was different though…different is good.  Different proved to be crazy beautiful.  So thankful I get to do this messy wild life with Josh Kelley.  His heart you guys, ahhhhh, crazy good and humble.

I’m super excited for the New Year.  I am already praying over 2016 and all it may hold.  I am asking God for big things…for more grace and love and redemption and restoration.  I cannot wait to see what He has in store.

Happy Monday!

2 Christmas Favorites

Last Friday we had the craziest day.  Amon and I ended up at the courthouse at 10am and didn’t get home until almost 5.  The craziest, wildest, emotional kind of day.  That alone knocked out our kindness advent for the day which was shopping for a family for Christmas.  Life happens and you just have to roll along with it.

   Saturday we recouped.  The kids were having friends spend the night so everyone got in on the kindness.  We love Redbox and love to share Redbox movies with others.  You can buy Redbox gift cards or just rental codes on their website which is super fun.  In the past we have done a Redbox bucket/bag with treats and a gift card, but this year we bought several codes, printed them off and then drove around to all our local Redboxes.  Each kiddo got to either tape a code to an empty machine or hand a code to someone waiting in line.  They loved it.  This is the only picture I snagged and Hudson Kelley absolutely perplexes my mind.  I have no clue what he is doing.  Zero, but he is wearing a Santa hat.

Yesterday we handed out Christmas books to kiddos shopping in a store and we also got in our shopping for a family we missed on Friday.  One Target, two birds.  #cornball  The kids are definitely bolder and braver this year with their words.  In the past I have had to do a lot of explaining on their behalf, but this year they are using their words to explain what they are doing and why.  I love it!  We do still have to step in sometimes or yell a Merry Christmas so people aren’t crazy creeped by us, but definitely less than any other year.

Tip for book purchasing:  I’m a huge Scholastic book fan.  They typically have amazing prices and they do so much for teachers.  They also have huge warehouse sales where all books are 50-80% off.  You can check out their website and see if one is near you.  I almost always go to their warehouse sale to snag our Christmas books we give out, but the past two years I’ve ordered from our classroom teachers.  Their teachers get points and free books when kiddos order so I didn’t mind the extra dollars when I know our teachers are benefitting.  The kids still got to choose the books, I did not have to leave our house and all the books came home in Solomon’s backpack 🙂  All I do is win, win, win no matter what! #namethatsong

For our kindness today we are handing out candy canes.  In the past when this has been picked we go to our community center and hand them out there.  This year all the kids decided they wanted to take them to school for their classmates.  I have to say I love how into this they are.  They are taking ownership of their kindness and thinking about it so who am I to argue when they throw a new idea out there.  Plus they adore their classmates and I’m so glad they want to love on them too.

Tomorrow we are leaving a treat for our trash guy.  This is always our most suspenseful one…everyone waits on pins and needles…will it go in the trash or will he see it!?!?!?  For the record, we have done this one every year so we are currently 4 for 4 on him seeing the treat and not dumping it.


In other news I wanted to share two Christmas favorites today:  One being my favorite gift we’re giving and two a favorite gift wrap.

We are Santa believers…not that he’s watching us and sees us when we’re sleeping because that kind of creeps me out, but we love the magic and whimsy and fun of Santa so our kids are still believers at this point.  They also are fully aware lots of kids and families do not do Santa.  We’re really big on “different strokes for different folks” around our house…no family is just like us and that is a-okay.  So they know some kids get presents from their parents/guardians/whoever.

Our family does 3 gifts and some treats in their stockings.  They make their little lists…Sol put his in the mailbox, Hudson put his in his stocking and Harper just kept hers this year.  Picking gifts for them is crazy fun.  We try and keep things super reasonable because A)  There are 4 of them and that can get quite expensive and B)  They just don’t need anything.

I am super excited about one of Harper’s gifts this year…a full on personal mail kit.  This kid writes letters and sends mail like there’s no tomorrow.  I cannot say enough how much I adore this about her and this gift is a bit of a splurge and I am totally cool with it.  Here’s what I ended up with: personalized stationary, address stamp, mini pens, stamps, mini stapler and 2 rolls of washi tape all in a cute box.

Here’s where I got everything.

Folk Florals personalized stationary by Minted (sign up for their email and get a coupon to use)

Self inking address stamp from Amazon seller RubberStampCreation (no ink pad required)

Ink Joy Minis by PaperMate (found these at Walgreens $2.99)

Stamps from our post office 🙂

Mini Swingline Stapler (found at Kroger of all places…on sale for $1.99 but also saw at Target)

Two rolls of washi tape from Joanns.  $3.99 each, but use those coupons party people.  I refuse to pay full price for anything at a craft store with all the coupons available.  And Joanns will accept Hobby Lobby and Michaels coupons.

And a cute little box to hold it all from Hobby Lobby…again, use those coupons!

Harper is going to crazy love this.  She’s almost nine now and her gifts are starting to sway towards older kid which makes me miss her little days, but crazy love her current days.  I mean, you guys, she asked for a cd player…like a boom box.  God love her.  And thank you HHGregg for still carrying “boom boxes” hahahahaha.

And here’s my current favorite Christmas wrapping idea…paper stockings.  So easy.  So cute.  So festive.  I love to use these for teacher gifts and gift cards, etc.

I usually use all brown craft paper, but this year I made one side craft paper and the other side wrapping paper.  I drew out a stocking design big enough to hold our goodies, traced, cut, sewed the two pieces together, decorated and sewed them shut.  Harper and I did these together while the boys were mountain biking Sunday afternoon.

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

Happy Monday.


Yeah, so I’m already thinking about the weekend.  Ha.  This past weekend was kind of swoony minus a sick kid.  I worked like crazy.  The Made South Holiday Market is this Friday and Saturday so I know this weekend will be a tad chaotic.  I’m a bit on the nervous/excited/I might throw up side.  #normal

Anyways, on Friday Amon fell asleep randomly on the floor and like my friend Jen pointed out…random sleeping is a direct sign a sick kid is brewing.  Ugh!!!


Amon spent most of the weekend posted up on the couch.

Josh Kelley is a Christmas crazy person.  He started talking about putting our Christmas tree up before Halloween.  Gah!  He’s had this on his calendar for weeks.  It’s what he does and I just watch him do his thing.  His motto is “It’s not Thanksgiving without the Christmas tree.”  And he always pulls out his coon skin cap from his childhood.  All the nostalgia people.

Amon is pretty much adorable all day, erry day.  Even sick.

We watched Elf, listened to Elvis’ Christmas music, made snickerdoodles and decked the halls.  We are one stocking holder short this year, but who cares.  I’ve had our current littlest a stocking purchased since we became certified foster parents last October.  I wanted to be prepared if a little one came during Christmas time.

There were also donuts because duh, it was the weekend.

Each week when Saturday and Sunday rolls around this is what our fridge looks like.

Ummm, empty.  So grocery shopping and food prep for the week always on the weekend.  And it’s kind of that time of year again when I wear my house shoes out in public.  Like grocery shopping.  I mean, who doesn’t want toasty warm feet while Krogering?!?!

And yes, I am wearing capri sweat pants in November.  #yourewelcome

 It’s only Tuesday, but bring on another weekend!!

December 23

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I cannot even believe it.  Are you done with your shopping/baking/wrapping/etc???  We’re all done, but the boys and I went out this morning to grab some regular house items and it was crazy town.

Today’s kindness advent was painting rocks to leave at our community playground.  This is always a Kelley kid favorite.

Tomorrow we are leaving encouraging notes on cars.

2 Random Fun Things:

1)  Harper had a girls only cousin slumber party last night so we took the boys to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Josh Kelley and myself dig chicken wings, so we were pretty excited to take the boys for the first time.  No lie, as we were walking in the door Hudson casually says, “So do they have anything other than buffalo?”  We died.

Major success.  They ate all their food, we had lots of fun conversations and they all enjoyed sports at every turn.  So fun.

2)  And I did a little more last minute Christmas crafting today.  Silverware I picked up at Goodwill + my metal stamps = more gifts. Inexpensive and lovely.  Harper loves when they match!

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Happy Tuesday night!

December 19 & 20

Christmas time fun is kind of getting the best of my time…which I love…so today I’m covering two days again.  Yesterday we delivered one million and one baked goods, but our kindness advent was aimed at our pediatricians office.  I am constantly reminded of how good we have it with access to health care and amazing doctors on our side.  Our pediatrician’s office is The.Best and loves us all so well and I don’t mind one bit showering them with sugar.

Today we are delivering handmade ornaments.  One thing I hope we convey is that kindness doesn’t have to be expensive.  A lot of times it’s about your thoughtfulness and time.  I bought these craft ornaments for .50 at Hobby Lobby and then let the kids paint them.  Super easy.  Our niece Campbell joined in on the fun.

Tomorrow we are leaving a Redbox rental bucket filled with goodies for someone picking up a movie.

It’s the Saturday before Christmas and this is the time I love.  We’re all just hanging out, watching movies, wrapping presents, eating treats, crafting my last few gifts.  I’ve cleaned the house…shocker.  And I might have spent a little too much time on some chalkboard art.  Festive and bright and hopeful is how my heart is feeling.  Christmas and other holidays can be so hard for lots of people.  I’ve had a few weepy moments myself, but ever since Mom died O Holy Night has been my favorite Christmas song because of the hope and the rejoicing I can have in Jesus even when my heart may be a bit weary.  This is the world.  It can be so dark…so hopeless…so overwhelming…and sometimes I get so weary with how can we help, how can we love more, how can we show the hope in Jesus, how can our family really make a difference.  Sometimes I feel like our love actions are just drops in the ocean…never making much of a difference, but God confirms over and over again to keep loving Him, keep loving others and that those drops are making ripples.  He is working in the smallest and what we may feel is the most mundane love and kindness we can show.  So we keep on and we hold tight to that thrill of hope, choosing to rejoice in the gift of Jesus even when our hearts may be weary along with the rest of the world.  Grateful and humbled He would choose to come for me and every one of you.

Happy Saturday.

December 14 & 15

Yesterday our kindness advent was delivery breakfast to someone.  Harper has been sick, so sadly she missed out on this one.  Nothing says Good Morning like donuts and Arbys and coffee.

Today we left a little treat for our mailman.  He’s always super kind to the kids.  Fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies, some thank you notes and a Starbucks card.  He works dang hard.

Tomorrow we are leaving money on some vending machines.

Harper is home sick today and Amon is kind of totally excited about it.  They are the cutest together…they have a really special little love.

Amon Kelley Fun Fact:  He loves to eat on the floor of the kitchen.  He and I usually eat lunch everyday just like this.  For family dinners we eat together at our table, but when Amon is solo you will usually find him right here for meals.  And I oblige because why not.

And how about we end this post with another couch stain conundrum.  Amon strikes again.  This time with a busted nose…his nose on Sol’s hard head…and a bloody trail to follow.  I went with straight cold water, but it didn’t work and now in the light of the morning I want to weep big tears over our precious couch.  Remember…never ever ever again will we purchase a new couch until Amon moves out!

Hope your weekend was grand and your week is off to a magnificent start.  Happy Monday!

December 12

This is the picture my friend Brea text me.

Bahahahahahaha.  It still cracks me up…over and over and over again.  And Amon has asked me 1000 times “Where Kistmas go?”  He refers to anything Christmas…anything…lights, decorations, Santa, 7ft tall holiday polar bear, etc as an all inclusive “Kistmas.”

Today for our kindness advent we are taking polaroid pictures of people for them to keep.  And tomorrow we are handing out Christmas books to kiddos shopping with their parents.

And because it’s Friday my brain is totally shot.  So I shall leave you with this little gem: Hudson’s gingerbread man he finished decorating early this morning before heading off to school.  It was a class project.  I blushed.  Then text his teacher along with a picture of the scantily clad gingerbread man.  Josh thinks he was trying to draw lederhosen.  I think this gingerbread man works at Chippendales.  My gingerbread brings all the girls to the yard…

After sending his teacher a text she replied:  “Hahahaha, tears streaming down my eyes right now.  Maybe he is a sumo wrestler??? The good news is-is that I am turning him into an ornament and sending it home in his stocking to go on your tree for years and years to come :)”  I die.  I feel the mask and triple bow ties really class this sting bikini wearing gingerbread man up a bit.

Children are a heritage from the Lord indeed.

Happy Friday.

December 10 + Christmas Thoughts

For our kindness advent today we went with donut deliveries.  Amon had his dental crown appointment bright and early this morning, so Josh Kelley took the big kids to school and handed out donuts to our sweet car rider line staff.  I knew Amon would be a ferociously crazy sweet beast since he would be a non-sedated two-year-old getting a crown, so I took donuts to the dental staff as well.  And when the “hot” light is on, come on!

Tomorrow we are gifting someone with the sheer goodness that is a giant Christmas yard inflatable.  This was Josh Kelley’s addition to our list this year and I think it’s going to be one that stays for years to come.

Amon did survive his crown.  He is super strong so I got in quite the arm workout holding him down.  Holy cow is this kid strong.  Our dentist was crazy nice and worked very fast.  And he came out with tokens and bouncy balls and stickers and double balloons.

With December in full swing my mind has been overwhelmed with thoughts about Christmas and what we’ve dubbed the most wonderful time of the year.  I think as we love the community we are in…getting to know their names and stories…and get more involved with different aspects of foster care, my views change and swirl and mix and get jumbled and I have a very hard time sorting them all out and making sense of any of them.  We’ve realized as we get to know the world and develop relationships with the people who normally would have been faceless and just something we gave money to for the holidays, that this is actually not the most wonderful time of the year for a large majority of people.  It is hard and stressful and can be a constant reminder of what is lacking…what they don’t have and what we do have.  A reminder of empty bank accounts, unpaid mortgages, empty pantries and lines drawn.  Of brokenness and simply that this world is not fair.  My heart feels completely overwhelmed when I think about it all…when I think about what God might have intended for this season to resemble.

I don’t know fully what to do about it all.  I don’t know exactly what Christmas should look like, but I know God is stirring our hearts and pushing and leading us towards allowing Christmas to mean so much more…for all year round our lives to be lived differently…to mean so much more.  I don’t want to miss out on His work.  I don’t want to miss out on all He has planned and is planning.  I don’t want to miss out on building relationships with those who fill our neighborhood.  These are His people.  And I want to know them.

We try and keep our Christmas pretty simple…not because it’s right or wrong, but because it’s what our family chooses to do.  We do Santa, but our kids know a lot of families don’t and that’s okay too.  They know moms and dads are the ones who do presents if the kiddos don’t believe.  I like the whimsy and imaginative part of Santa.  We spend about $50 per kid.  It’s easy to let my mind think my kids are missing out or they will feel like they didn’t get a lot, but we’ve been doing 3 gifts since Harper was born and I don’t ever want to convince myself their happiness hangs on pretty boxes or lots of money spent.  And what we spend is plenty for the Kelley kids.  We tend to think we’re not the “rich” people in this world, but compared to the rest of the world, we’re not only rich, but immensely wealthy.  I want our kids to be grateful and see Christmas not just as a time when they receive, but as a time when they give as well.

I want our children to know God is the Creator of the Universe and in a snap of His fingers He can do whatever He would like. He gives us breath and can take it away.  He also loves us fiercely…so much He let His own son be crucified for all of our crappy mistakes.  I want them to understand Christmas is a time to be thankful for the gift of Jesus, but it doesn’t end December 25.  Josh Kelley and I won’t cultivate grateful, humble and thankful hearts in our kids just by doing Christmas like this…or with a kindness advent…it’s a year-round, all day, every day choice to refocus our family again, again and again.  The world gets loud and big and boisterous, so it’s a constant refocussing on what truly matters in this world…loving God and loving people…and telling them about the gift of Jesus.

I don’t have it all figured out.  I feel like every day God shows me something new…some one new…invites me to join Him as He works.  Some days I say yes, but some days I say no.  I’ll never get it all right…I’ll never make the right choices all the time, but I can keep plugging along.  I can keep trying to choose love and kindness and grace and mercy and compassion and show my kids the same.  I can continue to be my awkward self offering just my words and time and some homemade cookies.  I can continue to beg God to diminish my pride, give me Joy in Him and everyday allow me to love Him and His people…the sweet lives all around me.  And pray like crazy our kids can see Christ in the way we live and that not only our Chrimstas  honors Him and brings Him glory, but our whole lives.