Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Oh say can you see?

Corynn's 5th grade class was chosen to sing the National Anthem at a home hockey game for the Lincoln Stars last Friday. It was a fun night. I've only been to one other hockey game and that was about 11 years ago. I went with my best friend, Kristina. We had no idea what we were doing, or watching or what to expect. It was crazy! A complete 180 degree swing from NE football games. The fans are rowdy, slightly inebriated (in some cases MORE than slightly) and shouting curse words at the other team. Based on my previous experience I was a little concerned at how this was going to work with a bunch of children in the stands.

But it was all good. The fans we were seated by were fine. There was an awkward moment when two hockey players started fighting. I wanted to are supposed to cheer...but I was also surrounded by 50 fifth graders and various family members and I didn't think was probably the best thing to do. So I quietly cheered and rooted for the Stars' player. The kids all seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a fun thing for their grade. Plus John and I were able to go with Corynn alone. The twins stayed home and watched Evie. And to make it even better- Corynn's aunt, uncle and two cousins came too!

And the game turned out to be a pretty good one! The Stars won in a shoot out 4-3! Woohoo!

Here's Corynn's class. The went out on the ice prior to the announcement of the teams. 

Corynn is the second from the right- in the white t-shirt with black long sleeves. 
The actual singing of the National Anthem was so adorable! I sometimes forget how young they are...just ten years old! I taped it for the grandparents- so so sweet! 

the gang: Amy, Ryan, Sam, John and Luke. (Corynn wasn't back from performing yet.) 

Corynn had a blast and it was fun to hang out with the cousins! Such a neat experience for kids and something I'm sure she'll remember for a long time! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

a quick catch up

These past few weeks have gotten away from me. So here are some of the happenings going on in/at the Kelly household. 

I just had to share this pic. The boy is the son of some close family friends. This was Halloween...isn't it cute! Him and his girlfriend (yes, they are only 10) were a zombie boy scout and zombie girl scout. 

Kwynn dressed in period clothes for a Titanic presentation in Oral Communications class. 

The twins are working on teaching Evie chess...hmmmmm

I clipped and dried the last of my herbs before the frost came. 

I went from this

to this. The long hair was bugging me. Couldn't help it...had to cut it off. 

 And I found a fantastic new pumpkin whoopie pie recipe! YUM and it's super easy! You can check it out here! Although I used caramel sauce instead of maple syrup in the icing. 

And that's what we've been up to!  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful series part 6

I am thankful for my husband, John! 

John and I met when were pretty young. I was 15 and he was 17. He had actually been a friend of my older brother, before meeting me. He knew Jared had a little sister, but wasn't quite sure how old I was because he had never seen me. Then as fate would have we met. Our eyes locked from across the room and everything else going on seemed to fade away. Eventually I popped out of my puppy love stupor and Jared and John left. But that night I asked Jared a million questions about 'the boy' that he had left with earlier. After talking a bit, I told Jared that I wanted to meet him. Jared told me to forget it because I was too young and he already had a girlfriend. I just smiled.

About three months later, we were dating. And have been together pretty much ever since. I didn't have alot in common with John's friends, so we spent tons of time just hanging out and talking. I made him laugh and he made me feel special by listening to me. It's crazy to think our twins are just about the age I was when I met my future husband. YIKES!

Marrying your high school sweetheart isn't all xoxox! We had a bumpy road. We had some growing up to do, while being married with two babies. It almost didn't work. It was really hard and we decided to take a break and re-evaluate. Is this what we really wanted? Were we willing to compromise? Were we willing to focus less on ourselves and more on each other and our family? Were we ready to grow up and make this work? I am so happy we both agreed we were. We made a promise at that point- that no matter what- we were making this marriage work. One of the best decisions I ever made. I love this guy so much! We butt heads, annoy one another and know how to push each other's buttons. But part of marriage is working through those issues, riding out the storms and doing it together. Marriage is give and take, sharing and sacraficing. It's making the best out of each situation.

John and I have experienced many trials in our short 15 year marriage. We've been separated, had a child with a medical issues, financial problems, moves (7 in 8 years), we've miscarried multiple times, coped with my mom's near death health situation, his mom's cancer, the deaths of our beloved grandmas and crazy extended family members (both of my brother's have lived with us.)

And despite all that, I am so lucky to have had John by my side! To let you know how lucky I am- I would like to share a little story.

It was Christmas night 2005. It was about 8:30pm, we were staying at my mom's house. The girls were already asleep and mom and I were visiting and watching a movie. John went to meet up with a childhood friend who was in town visiting family. Nancy called to let us know that Ralph (John's great uncle) had passed on. It was a short call and I was thankful for that. My heart sank. I loved that man. He was seriously one of most genuine, kind hearted, lively people I had ever known. We had grown close those last few years. I called John. "I know you are with your friend, but I just wanted to let you know your uncle passed away. Your mom just called." He quickly said "k." and hung up. Ralph had been sick for awhile, so I thought maybe John was just saying 'K- thanks for the update.' Before I could think about it much more, he came through the door. He didn't say anything and just gave me hug. He kept saying "Audra, I'm so sorry. So so sorry." AND IT WAS HIS UNCLE! But he put my grief and feelings above his own in that moment. It's what I needed and he knew it!

And that's why I'm so thankful for John!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful series part 5

I am super thankful for John's parents, Jeff and Nancy!

I could go on and on about Jeff. He is the best. He is supportive and kind and I wish I had a father like him growing up. He is the best grandfather to our girls. I caught myself in a moment of jealousy one Christmas when Jeff was playing 'rock' with our nephews. Rock is where grandpa lays on the ground really still. And when one of the boys come up to him or really close...The Rock gets them and tackles them to the ground. Jeff used to play this with his sons. I caught myself feeling that way because he doesn't play that with the girls. But in that moment I also realized, there are a lot of things he does do with the girls that are special and just theirs. When the twins were younger he would sit in granny's chair (this little white rocker) and read to the girls. They would climb up in his lap, curl up and get cozy and eventually all three of them would be asleep. For Corynn, he would sit for hours letting her 'take his order' for food and then she would 'bake and cook' up his orders with her pretend food and kitchen. Now he's working with the twins on driving- taking on the supportive role once again while John and I are much more critical with their learning. He is patient and gentle. And he adores his wife...which is just adorable and perfect. He is laid back and I love joking around with him. I also love how he can never retell a joke quite's the cutest thing ever! Every time!


I also respect Jeff and love him very much. One instance that I will forever remember: When my mom and I went over to their home.  We were meeting to discuss the pregnancy and what our options were. I already had my mind made up that I would keep the baby (soon to be babies) regardless of if John was in the picture or not. And if they wanted to be part of it too - great! If not, I was ok with that too. But I went there out of respect to listen to what they thought would be best. Once the options were laid out, I spoke for myself and let them know what I had already decided. And I remember quickly looking over at Jeff after my little speech and I caught a little smile. Maybe because I had stood up for myself, my decision and was taking responsibility OR maybe it was because I looked like a scared little mouse and he was offering me some mercy OR maybe it was because now that the decision was made...he was going to be a grandpa. I don't why he smiled or even if he remembers, but it was a quick split moment in time that I will always remember.


My mother in law, Nancy is a tremendous woman. She is about 5'2" and maybe 100lbs. A tiny little thing. She is also the family matriarch. Even when grandma Tillie was still alive- Nancy was the head of the family. The one we call about family gatherings, holidays, trips, meals etc. She makes every holiday seem like it's straight off the pages of Martha Stewart. She has taught me refinement and hosting skills, how to decorate tables and entertain. One big thing she taught us was family dinners. When John and I were dating in highschool, he was required to go home every night for dinner and eat with his parents. And every night- he would. It was more of a 'fend for yourself' mentality at my house growing up. The only time we ate together at the table was if company was coming over or if it was Christmas. But we eat with our children every night. Even with some crazy hectic schedules and a couple teenagers...they know they are expected to be home for dinner with the family.

Her mother (Gma Tillie) was so proud of her and would tell me so when driving back and forth from Hastings to GI during holidays. She is well respected in the community, gives of her time to some great causes and is a wonderful role model. She has taught me by example and I've learned a lot. My house may never be as clean or as organized as hers, and my meals may never be as picturesque and wonderful, but she set the bar I strive for. She is the best mother in law a girl could ask for and I'm so grateful to call her family!

I am also thankful to these two for the wonderful example of marriage that they set for us. They are supportive of each other, kind, fun and sweet! The love each other and have been through so much. 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful series part 4

I am thankful for my mom!

My mom is an extraordinary woman. She has been through alot and forced to deal with more than her fair share. She is kind and giving. She is thoughtful and sincere. She has a gift for sharing messages and teaching through stories.

I'm sure raising us was a hard. I'm sure there a dozen things she would have done differently or wished to do over. But as her daughter, I wouldn't have her change a thing. She taught us charity, humility, compassion and forgiveness. Her example has left an indelible mark on my life. She is my friend as well as my mom. And sometimes those lines can blur. As friends we fight, argue, feel hurt and disagree. But as mother and daughter we forgive, accept and love.

When my mom married her current husband, our relationship almost didn't make it. We were in a bad spot. Even today we don't talk about him or it. We just focus on other things. I think she does that because she knows it upsets me and I do it because I find it hard to filter my emotions and feelings about it. We have agreed to disagree and moved on. Hopefully one day we can approach this and come to terms, but for now this is working.

During that rocky period, my mom fell deathly ill. She was in the ICU for almost 2 months. She was confused, delirious, angry and barely hanging onto life. The doctors were honest and forthright and said it's day by day, but it doesn't look good. They even told me to get her affairs in order. The whole time she was sick (whether she was sleeping or off in lala land) I kept thinking this can't be how it ends. We were barely talking prior to this and I had said some hurtful things. Now she was on heavy meds and saying hurtful things. She was angry I wouldn't take her home and help her leave that horrible place. Delusions were getting the best of her and she was angry, hurt and mean. I know it wasn't her talking, but it still hurt. And the whole time I kept thinking I hope it doesn't end like this! Every time I stepped off the private elevator in the ICU to visit her, I would say a little prayer. I would beg and plead that she still be there and the bed wouldn't be empty. I didn't care if she was angry with me or confused...just be there. She's my mom. And I'll love her and accept her no matter what.

I hope my actions and care for her during that time demonstrated how much I love her. I am thankful for her support and love. I am thankful for her example. She is giving and kind and always thinking of others. I couldn't have asked for a better mother and friend!

And to end things on a slightly lighter note...

My mom used to make cakes to supplement her income. It was a second job in which she put the money away and spent it on us kids. One time she took us to Disney World in Florida and another time on a week long trip to Utah. She would also use that money for Christmas gifts for us. Which demonstrates how selfless she is. She always put us first. 

Anyway, back to the cakes...So from as early back as I can remember she made cakes for all types of occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, a few weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, retirements etc. She had quite the following. She made all of our birthday cakes growing up and our wedding cakes. 

Now the mom was creative. One of her greatest talents if you ask me! AND this was way before pinterest and google. She came up with some pretty ingenious ways to convey sentiments. 

Bachelor and Bachelorette cakes...full on male and female body parts made from toasted coconut, maraschino cherries, twinkies and large marshmallows. And it was a best seller because we saw ALOT of those growing up! 

Birthday cakes...a horseshoe shaped cake with a bowl in the middle. In the bowl would be yellow jello, tissue paper and brown frosting. A few drops of yellow on the horseshoe and a plastic fly. And a caption that read "It's the shits to get old!"

Somewhere there are pictures of these cakes...she always took a picture of her cakes. When I find them I will post them! Still cracks me up when I think of my sweet old mom making raunchy cakes like that. But people loved them! And her! She's one of a kind!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thankful series part 3

I am thankful for Luke and Amy (and their two boys).

Luke is John's brother and Amy is his wife.

We aren't the closest, but I do love them and am thankful to call them family. Amy and Luke are 5 years older than John which makes them 7 years older than me. Because John and I married young- the age difference played a bit of a factor. I was young and naive and had A LOT of growing up to do. But now that we are getting older and wiser...I think they are starting to consider me an equal. :)

I am thankful for Luke because he is the complete opposite of John. They butt heads and see things differently. BUT I think that can be a good thing. They help run the family business and its important to challenge ideas and gain new perspectives. Having opposite views helps to insure all bases are covered. Luke is the quintessential big brother always having to be the leader and in charge and John is the typical little brother always trying to gain his brother's respect. But deep down they are family and love each other. They have common goals and interests.  Working with family is tricky- but they are getting it done! I also like Luke because in some ways we are similar. He will probably flip his lid when (or if) he reads this. Probably thinking I'm off my rocker. But one way we are similar is that we are both quiet and have spouses that like to talk. Our lack of eagerness to talk to everyone may come off as a bit rude and in my case, bitchy. But that's not the case.... I see it as our spouses talk enough for the both of us!;) Luke is also crazy smart, a little adventurous and has some pretty sweet hair!

I am thankful for Amy. She is the closest thing I have to a 'sister'. She is someone I can talk to, conspire with and vent to about family matters. Some aspects of our childhood are having someone who understands family drama and nuttiness is nice. We aren't super close, but I think there is an understanding there that we are family and we are in this together. We have similar views and hopes that our kids stay close and the importance of family. I am grateful she is always there to support and jump on board with my plans for birthdays, surprises and holidays.

I am thankful for Luke and Amy. We are in the same boat and the waters are going to get rough...and together I think we can make it through!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thankful series part 2

I am thankful for my grandparents!

I was extremely blessed growing up - I had alot of grandparents! I had a great grandma, great grandpa, a grandma and a grandpa on my dad's side, a grandma on my mom's side and several grandpas...she was married a few times! :)

Grandpa Schneider- my mom's biological father

Grandpa Yunk- my mom's step dad who adopted her

Grandpa White- my gma's 4th husband and the one I knew most of my childhood

My great can read more about her here and here

My grandma and her husband are now my only grandparents. They married when I was I don't refer to him as grandpa- I call him by his name, Gordie. But he is a grandpa to me and definitely to my children.

I love Gordie and am thankful for him for a number of reasons. I admire his take on life. He has very simple views and isn't afraid to share them. He is 'old school' in good way. He dresses up for dinner, has manners of yester year that are rarely seen today, and he adores my grandma. He is willing to help anyone he can. He is a walking talking breathing farm boy from the 1950s..just aged a bit. I love his old fashionedness and views on life. He is a character and we are so lucky to have him in our family. My fondest memory of him is when I found out I was pregnant. I was in highschool and he was newly married to my grandma. With his views and not knowing me- it would have been really easy for him to chastise me, write me off and pass judgement. But he didn't. He joked a bit, smiled and said worse things have happened. And when the twins came (and the others) he loved them as if they were his own family. He accepted our family and all its craziness and has never judged us. He's a really good guy!

His wife, my grandma is the sweetest soul you will ever meet. Her smile is warm and she is gracious and kind. She writes the sweetest notes and thank yous. I don't think I've ever seen her lose her temper or yell at us...and that's saying alot- as kids we were good at getting into trouble. She has wonderful taste in decor and clothes and could out shop even the most experienced shoppers. I am thankful to have my grandma in my life because she takes on life with such grace. She walks into a room, smiles and takes it all in. She doesn't have to be the loudest story teller or the center of attention. She is content with just experiencing the moment. She also doesn't waste her time feeling angry, hurt or upset. She focuses on the good. She is always praising and doesn't criticize or condescend. She doesn't spread hurtful gossip or tear people down. She doesn't judge. She only acknowledges the good in people and in life.  It's something that is hard to explain. She just has this way about her that amazes me. She has so many attributes that amaze me and that I hope to exemplify.

Love you bunches, Grandma and Gordie! More than you'll ever know! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thankful series part 1

I decided over the weekend to make my Thankful post from Friday into a week long series. I wanted to elaborate and share a few stories. That and the post from Friday doesn't really do anyone justice.

So for Part 1 of this series...

I am thankful for my brothers; Jared Lee and Trevor Howard

My brothers walked me down the aisle when I married John. Well kind of ... there really wasn't an aisle because we were married outside, but they led me to John and gave me away. Our parents divorced when we were really young. We don't really remember our parents being together. It was always just us and mom. But more importantly it was just us. Mom worked long hours to support three kids by herself.

We've had our ups and downs. Good times and bad. And we fought...alot. But we always had each other's backs. Always.

I remember when John asked Jared if it would be ok to date me (John was friends with my older brother for a few years before he met me) and Jared said yes as long John was good to me.

We didn't have an easy childhood. Divorce, abuse, poverty- it was all there. But never once would you hear us say we had a horrible childhood. Our mom did the best she could with what she had. She loved us. And that was enough. That and having someone there with you. I was lucky enough to have two someones.

 I am so thankful for Jared and Trevor. So thankful they are on this journey with me. We will forever be bonded together. And even as adults we have our ups and downs. Good times and bad. And ya...we still fight. But just like when we were younger...if not more so now...we have each other's backs. Forever and always.

Friday, November 08, 2013


In this month of Thanksgiving, I just want to publicly (well kind of) say how thankful I am for my family. All of them. My mom, my brothers, John, my children, Jeff and Nancy, the grandparents, Luke, Amy and the boys.

The thing about family is- no matter what they are family. It's a special category of friendship and love. It isn't always unicorns and rainbows- trust me! In fact some of these people annoy me on a daily basis. I get frustrated with them. I don't understand them or their choices. And I get hurt by their comments and actions. But I still love them. And I would do anything and everything for them.

So I'm putting it out there on the world wide web that it is forever on record- That I'm thankful for each and everyone of you! The good times far outnumber the bad and I am so thankful to have you in my life!