Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas 2014 part 2

While we in California, we took advantage of the setting and everyone being together and took some family photos of the cousins.

I think they turned out pretty well! 

I also snapped a few of the girlies...

Evie is either a goofy cheese ball or gives you a blank stare. Works great for photos...ha!

 Love these kiddos! 

p.s. I'm printing off copies for the grandparents! So don't worry! :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014 part 1

This year the Kelly family opted for something different when celebrating the Christmas holiday. It was our first Christmas missing Nancy. Nancy made every Christmas so special. She was the queen of entertaining and passed on so many traditions to our families. It just wasn't going to be the same, celebrating together at home with out her. And although we missed her something fierce this Christmas- it was fun to do something different and travel as a family.

We all headed to southern California. The weather was amazing! The beach was amazing! The resort was amazing! The ocean was amazing.... actually it was freezing!!! But still tons of fun! And it didn't stop the kids!

Here are some photos of the first part of our trip. We spent 5 days with Luke, Amy, the boys and Jeff.

We drove up to Newport Beach with Jeff. On the way, we stopped in Laguna to stretch, get some gelato and dip our toes in the Pacific. 

We spent the next few days at the beach. The twins weren't interested in actually swimming or body boarding so they just hung out on the beach and read books. But Corynn had a blast with her cousins and Evie entertained herself (we now have a collection of shells thanks to that little gatherer).

The kids really did have fun together! 

It was a great trip and memories were made! We are incredibly blessed to have such an awesome dad/grandpa who can make amazing trips like this happen! We love that guy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tis the season

My favorite part of the holiday season is baking yummy treats and making small gifts for my family and friends. 

Here are a few pics of what's been done this year. 

These pinterest inspired cuties are what I made for the cookie exchange last week! Love how they turned out. I changed a few things to simplify. And I discovered a love of Royal stuff ever! 

I used up some wood scraps and made a few holiday buntings. I used my cardboard stencils and a dark brown sharpie for the letters. Then used a clear coat over the whole disk to seal it. Drilled holes on either side of the disk and then strung them together with twine. Two of them say Merry Christmas and one says Peace & Joy.

I had a stash of tin cans in my craft closet and decided it was time to either use them or put them in the recycle bin. So I ended up using them as gift tins for my friend and teacher gifts. 

My friend and teacher gifts this year were homemade vanilla extract. Finally 4 months's ready to gift! This is how I made it. I also printed off some labels at Kinkos to add to the bottles. 

And here they are ready to go! 

I also added some vanilla cookies that I made using the vanilla with each tin. That way the recipients could get a little taste of how awesome the vanilla is! It really has a great flavor! 

Notice the Royal Icing? Yup! Love that stuff!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Little spit fire

This kid keeps life interesting!  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Flu humbug!

If it's going around...someone in our house has caught it.  Evie and John both came down with sinus infections. McKynna had bronchitis and Kwynn and Corynn are recovering from their colds. Pertusis is making it's way around the high school and several kids have tested positive for influenza at the middle school. It almost feels like the movie Contagion. Everyone has been sick but me. I felt it coming on last week but refused to give in. And so far I seem to be fine. I credit my determination and love of clementines! I'm a strong believer in vitamin C.

I like to make homemade chicken noodle soup when one of the girlies is sick. Something about the chunky noodles and warm broth...seems to do the trick! 

The worst part of having sick kids, is the helpless feeling you feel when they are suffering. It's terrible! One day Evie was coughing up so much mucus that she was vomiting. I felt so bad for her. And she didn't understand why mommy couldn't make it stop. Thank goodness for modern medicine. 

She seems to be feeling better and is ornery as ever. Just in time for the holidays! :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas treats

I had a holiday cookie exchange yesterday with some friends! So much fun! I love getting new recipes and treats and trying them out at the same time. Then you know what they should taste and look like. :)

Here's a yummy hot chocolate recipe I wanted to share! It makes a ton! And takes a few hours to get good and warm. Perfect for winter break and snow days. Make it mid morning, let the kids go out in the snow after lunch and it will be good and hot when they come in!!


  • 1.5 cups whipping cream
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips (milk chocolate OR semi-sweet depending on how sweet you like it. I have a heck of a sweet tooth, and I love the milk chocolate, but others prefer the semi-sweet)
  1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a crockpot.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted. Stir again before serving. Garnish as desired.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Evie's first plane ride

Evie and I went to Arizona a few weeks ago and she experienced her first plane ride. It was just a two hour direct flight so I thought it would be do-able. But kudos to all the parents who fly solo with their little ones. Evie is three and I can't even imagine taking a baby.


  • Getting through security with her bag, my bag, my purse, out tickets and id was hilarious. Add to that taking out liquids, taking off shoes and trying to coax her through a metal detector...quite the adventure. I'm soooooo glad the airline let me check her car seat rather than gate check it. Because I might have given up at that point. 
  • Coming home, our flight had three seats on both sides of the aisle. Evie WOULD NOT get in her seat because she had to sit by a stranger. I'm talking full fledged melt down hysterical crying. We lucked out and the flight attendants let us move to an empty row. Which was a miracle because those shuttle flights are always full. Then we sat on the tarmac for an hour while the pilots figured out paper work. Evie had to pee. But we had been told to stay in our seats. Finally I asked if she could use the bathroom. The minute we got in the tiny little lav-closet and she was situated on the seat- the pilot comes on the intercom and says "Once everyone is in their seats- we can take off." Of course Evie gets stage fright and decides she can't go. LOVELY. 

But over all- it was a pretty descent experience- she did well. On our next flight she sits in between Corynn and I think we should be ok there. And we are checking bags so security should be a bit easier. Even still, I'm guessing we will have some stories to share!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Christmas time

Thanksgiving was late in the month this year and we will busy through out the week of Christmas with John's family. So we aren't doing a tree this year. It's kind of weird but also kind of nice. I put some Christmas decorations up around the house and our window wreaths are up. I also put greenery in the pots on the front porch. Stockings and garland are hung as well. The most important things aren't things- it's family. And being with them is what really matters.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Seasons of change

Winter is definitely upon us. It has been frigid and cold for weeks and weeks. We had our first snow months ago. And now it's December.

These past few weeks having been full. Full of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Full of the anticipation for upcoming travels. Full of sorrow for my dearest friend and her family.

On November 22nd, my oldest and dearest friend Kristina lost her eldest son. He was just 19. Mikey died in a car accident traveling home for the holidays. He died instantly. His pregnant girlfriend was in the car with him. She broke her femur and was banged up pretty good. The baby is well. I flew to Arizona to be with her and help her. Help her with the service, the program and the flowers. Help her with her other 6 children who range in ages 15 to 2 months. Help her clean her house. Help her cope.

It was a long week. An exhausting week. Saying goodbye to a baby I helped deliver (he was so eager to come that he didn't wait for the doctor to return to the room) was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. My mind was muddied with memories of him throughout the years and my mother's heart was full of pain at seeing my sister suffer this loss. I can' t imagine losing a child. I thought of my own children and how devastated I would be. How would I cope? How would I function? How could I possibly go on?

Kristina has dealt remarkably well. She knows this isn't goodbye. She will be with Mikey again. But I could tell that her spirit had dimmed. She lost some brightness to her countenance. A light I fear she may never get back.

She has a difficult road ahead of her. And I worry for her everyday. I pray for her as well. It's difficult to watch someone you love suffer so.

"When our days become dark and dreary with low hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that... {God} is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows." Martin Luther King Jr.

This holiday will be difficult for all. It will be our first Christmas without Nancy and I will be thinking of Kristina as I know this will be a hard time for her and the kids. In some ways it doesn't feel very festive or very Christmas-y. It just feels cold and dreary.

My mom told me that every hardship comes with a lesson. The lesson I've learned from this is that I will treasure my children everyday. Every moment. Even when Evie is throwing a bloody fit. Because I would suffer through a thousand melt downs and trade a life time of tantrums to get her back if anything happened. I also know that my oldest girls will be going off to college soon and that scares me to no end. I will worry about them always. And I want to make as many memories as we can before they are off.  I know I can't be with them forever. Just cherish the time we have.

I read a quote once that said something like "Becoming a mother is like deciding forever to have you heart go walking around outside your body."

So true. So true.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Can you believe it!?

Can you believe that three weeks from today will be December 1st? 

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I'm super excited this year! This year my older brother and his kids will be joining us for a few days. And during those few days my mom, grandparents and little brother will be over too! It's not very often we are together. In fact the last time we were all together was three years ago. I look forward to family gatherings more and more. Probably because we've 'grown up' and the drama involved in so many of our past gatherings isn't there. My brothers and I have been through a lot together and I'm glad we are at a place where we can converse and enjoy time together.

The festivity preparations will soon begin; making menus, grocery lists, figuring out sleeping arrangements for 15, activities etc.

I'm also lobbying my little brother to come up a day early so we have a bit more time together- so far that's not working. But I shall keep trying.

Can't wait for the cousins to catch up- it has been too long! And if I've learned anything this past year- it is to not take anything for granted. Not a person. Not time. Not relationships. Not family or friends. Things change too fast.

Guess that's enough for now...time to get back on pinterest and find the perfect Pecan Pie recipe. I've tried different recipes each of the past few years and nothing has been FABULOUS! I'm determined this year! Wish me luck!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Halloween 2014

We have been spoiled the past few years with lovely mild weathered Halloweens. This year not so much. It was cold and once the sun went down it was down right freezing. In fact, a few minutes into trick or treating Evie went from saying "Trick or Treat" to "I'm cold!". We always attend the trick or trunk at our church. It's a fun quick way to dive into the 'trick or treating' without much effort on the parents part- which with this year's weather was fine with us! It's also fun to see all the creative costumes families come up. They are usually themed and super adorable. We had the cast from Monsters Inc, all the Power Rangers, the cast of Frozen including the ice monster, and Wizard of Oz. Families also decorate their trunks or back hatches with Halloweenie stuff- which is fun to see too. Corynn took Evie around while John and I handed out candy. The twins wanted to stay home.

So after a quick round at Trick or Trunk, we headed over to Gpa Kelly's house. The twins decided to head over too and hang out with him, help him hand out candy and keep him company. Kynna dressed up as an Engineer with a pink hard hat and tool belt. Kwynn was a lumber jack with a red flannel, stocking cap and beard. I didn't get any pix of them- but they were cute.

Corynn had a Halloween party to go to with friends. After that she stayed the night at a friend's house. She had an absolute blast...such a social butterfly, that one.

Corynn dressed as a flapper girl (1920s). I sewed the dress and head band after school on Halloween in about an hour. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. Sheeesh.

Evie was a cow girl. Super adorable! She had so much fun running around all dressed up with her horse. I just love her little red boots! So sweet!

It was a fun evening and memories were made. What else can you ask for!? Halloween 2014 is in the books

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Patch 2014

Evie has been wanting a pumpkin for weeks... probably since she first spotted them at grocery stores way back mid-Spetember. We told her to be patient and that we would take her to the pumpkin patch so she could pick out her very own pumpkin. But that she would have to wait until we got back from Colorado. Well, the little bit waited so very patiently...and finally all that waiting paid off. We went to the patch on Saturday. The twins had PSAT testing that morning, so took Corynn (and Corynn's friend, Grace) and Evie.

Evie had a blast. She LOVED the animals! I can't wait to move to an acreage so she can have a pasture full of animals! We also took her through her first haunted house! She's fearless...either that or she's not old enough to find ghosts and skeletons scary. OR perhaps we've numbed her with The Walking Dead...who knows. She had a lot of fun and that's what really matters.

I tried to get cute photos of Evie, but she is the stage of forced smiles and silly faces. So getting an adorable photo is pretty much out of the question. 

I didn't get many photos of Corynn- she was busy with her friend. But I did manage to get the quintessential "Here's my pumpkin!" photo! 

We spent a few hours out there and I was flooded with memories of my mother in law. Last year almost to the day, we went to the same patch with John's parents. It was such a fun day. We had no idea that three days later she would be getting a MRI which found a tumor in her liver. Or that one week later she would be in the hospital diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. We cautiously asked Jeff if would like to go with us today, but he couldn't. Partially because he had plans this afternoon and partially because it would be too hard to go back. We completely understood.

{We miss Nancy terribly. I'm conflicted with going places that remind me of her like the pumpkin patch or Davey or Stuhr...but I think would rather go and have those memories, flashbacks and moments to reminisce, than not. I don't want to forget her, or her funny stories or things she said. I don't want them to get packed away inside my head and forgotten. I want to keep her with us. All around us. Our children have lost three grandmas in three years. Wonderful, strong amazing women whom I admired and adored. I want them to remember them and be like them. I think that's why I force myself to remember even when my heart is breaking from missing them so much. }