Thursday, March 28, 2013


Have you ever heard a quote or passage that has changed your life? I mean, the world is full of wise words and inspirational messages- but a really good, hits you in the heart and leaves an impression kind of quote?

I have three that have changed or impressed me.

1). Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

John and I were separated for a time. And this quote really helped me. I realized that I was holding him to a unrealistic expectation and ideal. Which wasn't fair to him. He would never measure up to the 'perfect man' I had dreamt up in my head. No one could. And it wasn't fair to him. It was one of the major changes I made in our marriage...and things have been going pretty great!!!

2). You're not a dog- so why are you rewarding yourself with food?

I'm really trying to become more health conscience and this kind of hit home. I realized I would reward myself for things with sweets or chocolate or soda. And not only rewarding but justifying eating it. I was convincing myself I deserved this ice cream cone because its been one of those days. Or because I worked out this morning. Its crazy! Looking back, I'm in awe that I would think about food in that way. 

3). The best things in life aren't things. 

We didn't have much growing up. But we have a ton of memories and stories. We learned valuable life lessons and strengthened our faith. In my 20s I got caught up in wanting material things. Maybe because I didn't have them growing up, maybe to prove to myself I should/could have them, maybe because that's what magazines and design shows told me I needed. I don't know. But now I firmly believe in only filling our house with meaningful possessions. There are a few pretty things we have just because I like them, but for the most part there is a memory or story attached. 

And this really hit home on vacation. We will probably never visit Honduras, Belize or Mexico again and to remember our adventures I bought a few pieces of art. A stunning bowl carved by an artist in Belize and a stone decorated fish in Honduras. One that's proceeds specifically went to the local schools. When I look at those things- I'm reminded of memories and the fun we had as a family. And even though I value these possessions- they are nothing compared to my family. My children and husband are my world. I'm not sure what my life would be without them. As long as were together- it will all be ok! I also love my extended family. John's family and mine will always be in our hearts! Friends, family and memories are what makes a life well lived! At least in my book

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vacation part 3

Our next port of call was Costa Maya Mexico...more specifically the tiny village of Mahahual. Here's a cool pic I found on wikipedia.

Beautiful blue waters, reefs to explore, white sandy beaches and a population of about 500 year round when you combine Mahahual and four other surrounding villages. You stop here to bask in the sun, swim in the ocean, scuba dive and just relax! The port was purpose built for the cruise industry, once you leave that little area- there isn't much else.

We booked a private cabana at a little retreat off the beaten path. Owned by an American couple and only allows 40 people at a time. You get all you can eat, all you can drink and use of any water equipment you would like. You can get there as early as 7:30am and the last shuttle leaves back for the ship at 3:30pm. Its called Maya Chan...and I totally recommend it if you are ever there!!!! You will love it! Sweet people and a beautiful little paradise.

rows of cabanas - all different sizes depending on how many are in your party

me chilling in our cabana...nice view!

It seemed every excursion was during Evie's nap time. But that didn't stop her...she napped everywhere and anywhere! And yes, her zebra blanket went everywhere too! 

Corynn posing on the shore

and relaxing in the ocean

Our second attempt at getting Evie to play in the sand. Only lasted 5 minutes before she demanded to be picked up. 

Kynna enjoying the free wi-fi

The twins kayaking. 

Funny story. So John encouraged the twins to get out and try something new and quit sitting around doing nothing. He somehow convinced them to take the kayak out. They did fine despite the wind and waves. Soon Corynn saw them and decided that she too must kayak. So John got her in a single and pushed her out. I was laying down with Evie so I asked him to grab the camera and go snap some photos. About 10 minutes later he comes back and says "Um, I think I may need to go rescue our kids."

I was like "What!?" I put the camera down, grabbed Evie and headed down to the shore. I see John in a kayak of his own paddling out to I'm not sure where since I don't see the kids. Then way way way out there I see two little specs. My first thought is 'That so better not be my kids!' It seems that with the strong winds and forceful current- they were pulled far out. At least a mile down the coast line. 

Corynn couldn't maneuver in the waves and just kept drifting. Her sisters went to help her. They even tied her kayak to theirs so she wouldn't drift anymore. John made it to them and helped Corynn get her kayak to shore. The twins (stubborn like their mama) were determined to paddle back and not give up. It was hard, but I think their frustration fueled them along. Later I found out they were singing the soundtrack to Les Mis. Funny kids. 

They made it back to shore on their own. John walked his kayak and Corynn's back down the shore line. I met some really nice locals that didn't understand English, but weren't really speaking spanish. No communication except for my pointing and muttering to myself- I do that when I get nervous. I was kind of freaking out trying to decide  if I would need their help in getting my kids back. But it all ended well! I'm sure if we would have made a big deal about it to the staff at Costa Maya - they would have helped. But we are not ones to make a big spectacle and always enjoy a little adventure for the stories and memories they make. Truth be told, I was a bit scared though. 

Thank goodness for hero! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

family weekend

Last weekend the Kelly's were together at our acreage! We celebrated Easter, Jeff and Nancy's 45th wedding anniversary and Corynn's 10th birthday! Lots of partying! :) It was a quick get together...only one night, but fun! Love having us all together and the cousins enjoying some bonding time!

friendly game of Clue (love how Ryan raises his hand when he had a question!)

Sam's bike outside...he rode in the sleeting rain! brrrrr

The ladies preparing dinner! I stayed out because I was sick. (Sorry ladies for the bad photo...I should of snapped a better one!)

The little cousins playing together

5 of the 6 hanging out

It must have been a mixture of vacation brain and head cold fogginess. Because I was a complete goof last weekend! I forgot a major ingredient to a family soup recipe that I made for my in-laws...mortifying! And my pretty cake was super sweet...the buttercream was so sugary even the kids couldn't finish a piece. But that also could have been because I cut super huge pieces in hopes of not having to bring any home! Giving up sugar this week! eek! I also forgot something at home that I could have swore I brought...and spent a good 20 minutes searching the frig at Davey for. I'm sure my mother in law is concerned about early onset Alzheimer's or something! :)

Note to John's lovely parents: I promise to be a better cook! No need to worry since I'm sure you'll be over more now that your closer! Promise! xoxox

Monday, March 25, 2013


Spring is coming and I seriously can't wait!!!! We are in desperate need of rain and moisture and I'm hoping we have a wet wet spring! I have faith in the whole April showers bring May flowers...because we didn't get much rain last year and my flowers looked terrible! It will be interesting to see what has survived the summer drought and exceptionally dry winter! Arborists at the university are saying expect to lose a ton of ever greens. The winter stress on top of the lack of rain is going to thin out a ton! Even cedars I would swear those things were indestructible!

Our property lays in a cross way where we have two runoffs that lead to the main neighborhood swell.

Here's a photo Kynna snapped last year of a river in our backyard.

Sudden downpours aren't good for drought stricken areas because the ground is too dry and cracked to absorb any of the water. It all just runs off. Steady slow rain is what we need! We shall be channeling Seattle weather...crossing our fingers!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter is coming EARLY

Holy cow Easter is early this year! Its sneaking right up on us!

I took the girls shopping for Easter dresses, well attempted too. Corynn had a friend over and decided playtime with friends trumps shopping with mom. So the twins and I ventured out while Evie was taking her nap and John was left supervising. I don't think I could have dragged him, begged him or bribed him to make a dress shopping trip!

So the twins and I set out. They are old enough that I basically just let them choose. I'm there for moral support and to pay.

The twins aren't picky about dresses. I mean they have their styles, but are more of the "see something I like, grab it and go" kind of shoppers. Which makes my job that much easier!

So with dresses in hand we head to the dressing rooms. On Kwynn's last dress, the dressing room door catches the back of her heal and shreds it. Blood everywhere, Kwynn's mortified and of course there are no sales people to help. I hand her a package of tissues out of my purse and go searching for assistance.

Three bandaids, medical tape and and two packages of tissues later...she hobbled out to the car before another bandage bled through. None of this surprised John when we got home. I'm starting to wonder if clumsiness is hereditary.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vacation 2013 part 2

Our second stop was Belize City, Belize. We took a tour of the Mayan ruins- which were so cool! We like to add in educational moments to every trip for the kids and this was perfect in many ways!

A lot of people have a misconception about ports of call on a cruise. They think that they are tourist traps and not a true representation of the countries you are visiting. So not true - specifically with Belize City. The actual port terminal is full of shops and I would recommend staying there unless you are on a sponsored excursion. Because just outside the terminal walls is a very basic third world country. Something my children have never seen. Guards with guns, primitive buildings, razor wire, tent shacks, barefoot children running around etc. We were able to grasp a very good view of the culture and life during our trip to the ruins.

Crazy narrow streets- expertly navigated by our bus driver! Pay phones everywhere- because cell service is so unpredictable.

But first the ruins, Altun Ha. 

They are Mayan ruins dating from 100bc to 600ad. Some of the steps have been rebuilt so that people can climb them. We learned that they weren't actually stairs- they were seats like in a stadium. The actual stairs are on the sides and lead up to the altars on the top of the structures. The steps/seats on the front of the structures were for the masses to sit and watch games, ceremonies etc. The Mayan conservationists are beginning to close off and not allow climbing on the ruins- so we were lucky these were still open!

Our guide was Jake, he was half Mayan half Spanish. He had a degree in horticulture, anthropology and the Mayan he was full of information!

Corynn loved climbing the ruins! Evie and I made it partially up one, but the steps were hard to maneuver while holding Evie. No hand rails you know!

The twins video taped the tour and took photos while Evie spun circles and ran free in the grassy courtyard. A grassy field and a bottle of water...simple things make that girl happy!

The ruins are surrounded by rainforest- full of amazing trees!

It was cloudy and I forgot about sunscreen. Oops...everyone came home a little burnt, even Evie! :(
I felt terrible!

Evie tried some authentic baked banana chips being sold in a street market. Another little stand was selling beautiful carved bowls and wood pieces. We also enjoyed a nice cold Coke in a glass bottle!

Corynn and our guide Jake (he was kind of short!)

Evie munching on banana chips

Evie running around and spinning circles

That tiny spec at the top is Corynn with her arms waving above her head! 

Cool rainforest trees!

Here are a few photos of the city itself:

some of the houses are brightly colored and have actual windows. Many just had window openings with shutters and grates- no glass. 

The majority of housing looked more like this

This was a hotel...notice the razor wire on the gate! 

This was McKynna and Kwynn's favorite stop. I think the perspective of life played a factor in that. Realizing how blessed we are. The ruins were phenominal! Very cool!  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sad month

A year ago about this time is the last time we visited and hugged our sweet Grandma Tillie. She was getting on in years, but I had no idea this would be our last visit. We would have stayed, hugged a bit longer and just cherished the time a bit more. Every visit was full of laughter, pinches and kisses, stories and fun. No regrets, just sad and missing her.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Vacation 2013 part one

For the past 10 days the fams and I have been on vacation. 3000 driving miles and 2300 nautical miles. We took a cruise to Central America. No it wasn't on Carnival...thank goodness! With a family of 6 we see cruising as the most economical way to travel to multiple foreign locations and hit the high points! I plan on sprinkling the next week or so with posts about our trip. Mix them in with others. I had a bunch of posts completed and scheduled to post while we were gone, but something didn't work. owell!

Our first stop was Roatan, Honduras:

We hung out on a beach most of the day on a tiny island. It had a private beach, swimming pool, snorkeling, authentic Honduran food and an animal preserve for injured and abandoned pets (parrots, monkeys, sea lions, BIG cats and other wild creatures!)

Corynn showing Evie the water

Corynn chilling on the beach

Evie hamming it up in the tropics

Evie really not liking the sandy water and waves

Kwynn collecting shells and looking at the crabs

Corynn snorkeling on the reef

Shells and coral we collected

cutest little snorkeler I know! 

It was amazing and our resort area was beautiful! The foliage is crazy pretty and so lush. And just the sound of the waves lulled Evie to sleep. It was humid, but being from NE - didn't think it was that bad. The weather was perfect. A sunny day with hit and miss clouds - just enough to give you a break from the sun. The animal preserve was very cool. Kind of like a little zoo. You could pet and interact with some of the animals!

The food was good too! Lunch was a rice and bean dish, fried banana chips, sea bass and spice baked chicken pieces. I think they had the lettuce salad just for us apprehensive non-adventurous Americans. Thank goodness too...the twins would have starved! Corynn loved the chicken, I tried the sea bass (and surprisingly thought it was pretty ok) and Evie and I thought the rice and beans were very tasty!

Corynn's favorite thing about this stop was the snorkeling. Her guide took her out along the reef and she saw tons of tropical brightly colored fish! Wish I could have gone with her, but Evie was demanding mama's attention most of this trip. :)

Kwynn and McKynna liked the animals- especially the big and cuddly sea lion!

Evie liked napping and running around like a crazy monkey that escaped from its cage! Seriously- she even kind of sounded like one!

John and I enjoyed the whole day; relaxing on the beach, watching Corynn have fun trying something new and the twins smiling (with teenage girls it can be a rarity!). One of those perfect days you want to cherish forever!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

another year older

EDITED: Not sure why this didn't post on the 7th, but it is! 

Yesterday was John's birthday! No grand celebrations- we'll celebrate more on our trip! But we do love this man very much! He's my best friend, a terrific provider and superb father! Here's to many many more birthdays, babe!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


Memories came flooding back when Corynn came home from school yesterday with a fundraising form. It's for a jump-a-thon her school is having with 100% of the donations going to the American Heart Association. I did jump-a-thons when I was in elementary school...and I was pretty darn good too! My biggest competition was my dearest friend Jill. I think ours was more for fitness than for charity, but was so nice to see something besides food/candy catalogs, candles or cookie dough!

So the way it works is that the kids ask family and friends for a flat donation. Every child is encouraged to participate in the jump-a-thon...and so no child feels left out the PTA is donating a dollar in every child's name. But shhhhhhhh- its a secret! Once you have at least a $1 donation, you are eligible to participate. On the day of the jump-a-thon there are several events. Who can jump the longest without missing, the most jumps in 1 minute, crossover contests etc. It will be tons of fun!

The coolest thing for us is that Corynn is super excited to participate! She even offered to donate her piggy bank savings so she could join in. And to think we were told that jumping rope was one of those things she would never be able to do. Now not only can she jump rope...but she loves it and is quite good at it!

and yes, grandparents...Corynn will be calling you soon!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


Evie loves pushing buttons! On phones, keyboards, remotes, ipods, computers, the ps3 and on occasion even mine!

Lately, though, it's been the keyboard. She likes to type. She will climb up into the chair and gently type buttons like she's working away on something. So darling! I just love seeing how inquisitive and smart these little people are...amazing! She has learned how to unlock my iphone and access the ipad to her favorite drawing app. Quite the smart little cookie we have.

Yesterday I was playing the piano and she sat at the desk next to me typing up something. She even used the mouse. And some how accessed itunes to started playing the Wicked soundtrack. She loves music so she was over the moon thrilled!


And then she climbed down, head bobbed a bit and ran in circles. I love her to pieces! 

Monday, March 04, 2013

soda boycott

I announced to the family last week that I was giving up soda. I have been reading articles about how bad it can be for you. I knew regular soda was sugary and full of empty calories so I've been off the regular stuff for years. I didn't know, however, that through several studies at Purdue, Harvard (and other prestigious bio-tech schools) that DIET soda is seriously harmful. A short concise article can be found here and more studies and reports can be easily found by simply googling it.

From what I've read, Diet soda can mess up your metabolism, cause kidney problems, rot your teeth, contribute to obesity, cause cell damage to your DNA (yikes!!!!!) and even cause reproductive issues. Isn't that nuts!? 

Even if this stuff isn't true, because you can easily find reports and articles stating that diet soda is safe and fine...water is my go to refreshment! There is no disputing that water is good for you!

I thought it would be hard (because sadly I was drinking at least 2 sodas a day) but after the second day, I was fine! Actually felt great! I snagged a taste of our daughter's soda one day and couldn't believe how overly sweet it was. YUCK! 

Our kids are going soda free pretty soon...haven't really talked it over with them. But thinking we could do it like we did our candy free year. Which was basically this: we had our kids sign a contract that said for one year they wouldn't have candy- except for three days of their choosing. If they could accomplish this...they would receive a $100 bill. Which of course we had laid out on the table so they could see them- they were real! Something visual and tangible for them to see everyday and know they were working towards. Obviously, I'm not above using bribes in parenting! :)

Anyway, just wanted to share. My next boycott will be sugar, but that will have to wait a bit until after vacation! Because seriously, what's a roadtrip with chocolate and licorice!?

Saturday, March 02, 2013

baby mama (so not what you think)

A few weeks ago my mom stopped by on her way through town. Just a quick visit, but she brought some old photos with her. She was so excited to share them, just a handful of black and white snapshots. As I reached for them, I asked what they were. "There my baby pictures!" she exclaimed. She was so thrilled because these are the only photos she has of her as a baby. And they were just recently given to her.

Imagine growing up never seeing baby pictures of yourself and only possessing a few of your entire childhood. Crazy! I can't imagine. We always had photo books to look through and each of us children has our own album in our bedrooms. And with my kids...holy smokes! Evie isn't even two yet and I'm guessing I have 2000 of her. Ha - just kidding...maybe more like 1500. seriously. But I think its because photos, candid snapshots, captured moments are so easy these days. Technology has allowed us to have a camera with us all the time.

Another perk to technology is facebook! My older brother works for so he has access to alot of information. But he was able to connect with a great cousin 5 times removed or something like that and she shared a photo with him that was of my mom on the day she was adopted by her stepdad. One she had never seen before...but that marks such a wonderful moment of her past.

So with a few minutes of scanning and a couple of clicks...her baby photos (all 8 of them) are forever stored in digital format. 

Here's her baby sweet! 

And written in my grandmother's hand...a bonus since she types everything and has ever since I can remember. 

Sure do love this baby girl!