July 4

If calendar days were shoes, then among the worn flip-flops and casual flats of the ordinary day, holidays would perhaps stand out as these:


And if my stalking the special occasion aisles of Target weeks before holidays arrive wasn’t testament enough of my love for them, then perhaps–well I have no idea how I was going to finish that sentence. It was something grand, I’m sure.

Needless to say, holidays is just one of the many areas where my mind stopped maturing around age 10 (along with fart humor, Disney movies and my love for Lucky Charms). I dwell in childhood when it comes to Easter eggs and Christmas Eve and anticipating sparklers and parades and the grand finale at the fireworks show.

Which is why my memories of this weekend–including Katie getting a q-tip end stuck in her ear and the brew-ha-ha of retrieving it with a flashlight and a pair of tweezers–make me smile.

Beginning with Saturday morning’s Fifth Avenue parade where mild sunshine and a few clouds provided the perfect comfort for a string of beach chairs lined up in the street. And I was happy in that all American thousands-of-people-are-gathering-like-this-at-this-very-moment kind of way watching flags unfurl and kids trampling each other to get to the best candy thrown from float riders (jolly ranchers, a hit; starlight mints, not so much).





Lainey was thrilled to run barricaded streets with her friend Baylee and I was thrilled to sit peacefully with my friends and feel the weight of the little sweaty sleeping one settle into a nice slumber in my arms.




After a few guns fired and some sirens were released two feet in front of us, Lainey spent much of the rest of the parade like this:












And when the afternoon showers cooled the hot pavement and dimmed the house, we spent the rest of the day lazing about and welcoming our friend Katie from Miami who stayed with us for the weekend (hence the Q-tip Disastar of 2010).

We bummed around the kitchen in jammies, sipping coffee, making waffles, watching movies…




…and finally did something with ourselves in time to celebrate at Poppa’s house with more all-American thousands-of-people-are-gathering-like-this-at-this-very-moment kind of fun, this time enhanced with a flaming grill and plates of deviled eggs and pulled pork sliders, pudding trifle and cold Cokes.

Okay, there was beer too.











And since Lainey is boycotting fireworks this year or, as we like to call it, sky popcorn, we opted for a small driveway show at the neighbor’s house.




And Nella enjoyed her first sparkler, safe in Mama’s arms. She was delightfully mesmorized.


A lovely holiday, indeed…certainly worthy of the jewel-studded heels.

And, with July bringing with it more summer opportunities for childhood excursions, check out our Perfect Picnic article over at The Family Kitchen on Babble.com.

And finally…I’m gonna wrap this up much like the parade did on Saturday. Delightfully ironic for our little conservative right-winged town, the last hoorah of the parade? The very last thing that marched away as crowds disassembled?

The butts of the Hooters girls, proudly waving their batons and swingin’ their thangs.


Touche, Naples.

We’re off to Key West for a couple days.


Leave a Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    Yay…first comment….Kelle you rock I love you…I get such great inspiration off you to be a better mama….Thanks for showing me the way xxxx

  2. YAY! I’ve been waiting all day for this 😀

  3. looks like a lovely weekend!

  4. Linda MG in Calif says:

    KELLE! Cant believe I am only #4 on the comments, yahoo.. SO wonderful to see your lovely photos and read about your 4th. What a fun, FAMILY time! I love the parade and the photos of all. Your family has so much fun together, and with Poppa and everyone. Love Lainey and Nella and their patriotic outfits! TOO cute. Thanks, as always, for sharing, and for your great outlook and zest for life – which is so contagious. I know it sure helps ME in my daily life! Love.

  5. Thanks! Love it! Have a blast in the Keys :)

  6. Hahaha, so funny with the Hooters girls – classy!
    Looks like you guys had a great time! The 4th was great here too – lots of the same – grilled food, patriotic outfits, and fireworks! :)

  7. Kelle, you always do holidays up so beautifully!!



  8. I love the girls’ leg warmers!

  9. The outfits, LOVE!!! I’ve been waiting for this post!! I always smile, sometimes cry, and always appreciate how you share life!!

  10. Also, I have a new favorite Nella picture:
    Smile’n while Poppa holds her! That look is PRICELESS.
    I totally thought Scarlett would boycott fireworks this year, but instead she clung to me and said (trying to convince herself I think) “it’s okay, you’re fine,” and this morning the first words out of her mouth? “Fire urks again pwease”

  11. I await your posts, like a momma waits for her kids to come through the door. I enjoy your little ones, your writing and you love of life. Nella is beautiful as is Lainey. I love the pictures of Nella, her outfits and especially when she simles. <^._.^>

  12. Looks like you guys had a great time! Enjoy the next few days… love the last pic of lainey in the beany hat!

  13. MMMM…Lucky Charms. For me it started in pregnancy. I couldn’t get enough of them. To save money on the ridiculous amounts of cereal I was eating, I opted for the store brand – Marshmallow Mateys. Pretty decent :)

  14. Anonymous says:

    BEAUTIFUL! time with family, whether simple or grand, during holidays is so much FUN! Nella is soooo yummy i just want to chomp chomp on her arms and legs! and my, what a pretty young lady that Lainey is becoming. keep it up Kelle! you inspire more people than you will ever know!

  15. What a fun holiday! Love the shot of the girls dashing for candy and you, Nella and the sparkler. Beautiful!

  16. happy 4th! i looove the outfits!

  17. The girls legwarmers are so freakin’ adorable… makes me want to try again for a girl! Love love love the photo of Nella in Poppa’s arms with her beautiful smile. Makes me melt.
    Happy & safe travels!

  18. GREAT post!! O love love love the photo of the elderly gentleman on the float…he looks so damn proud…and rightly so. You have some gift girl, keep it up. xx

  19. yipppeee for festive holidays…..nothin beats traditions and parades and homemade waffles! glad we got to see each other and have a fun morning together. the pic of lainey and the bottled coke is classic and adorable! tyler still laughs at how the end of that parade went down…seriously? hehehehehe. xoxo

  20. I am on a mission to find those little girl leg warmers for my granddaughter. Delightful and is your blog.

  21. You & I share both a love for holidays & Lucky Charms. :) Your posts always make me smile.

  22. Awwwwwwwwwwwww Papa put the best smile on her little face. I heart Nella.

  23. Miss Nella looks more beautiful every time you post!

  24. I laughed out loud at the guys walking with the banner in front of them. LOL!! So funny!
    Looks like a perfect day of celebrating with friends and family. Have a great few days of vacation!

  25. Looks like you guys had lots of fun! I think I had the best 4th of July of my life! :)


  26. Natalie says:

    Kelle, this is the most beautiful post. It looks like you had an amazing Forth of July! I did too…I found out yesterday that I’m pregnant with my first! I’m so excited, yet terrified :) Keep the beauty and love a comin’! I look forward to the day when I leave a comment saying “You inspire me to be a better Momma.”

    Atlanta, GA

  27. I knew your holiday-lovin’ soul would have a post up today!

    I love the picnic article, Kelle. We picnic a lot too…such a sweet tradition. Margot has never had pop…I am no fun, I think. I best be on the hunt for some cool looking bottles as I certain she will flip over it.

    Montana picnic in September? Yes.

  28. Looks like a wonderful 4th! Love the patriotic leg warmers the girls had, were those a target find? Too cute!

  29. Congratulations, Natalie!!
    You’ll never be the same. Oh, the love you are in for!

  30. Your post has possibly save my sanity this afternoon… daddy’s late and mommy needed a pick me up! Thanks :)

  31. Shinny Upatree…legwarmers are long girls’ socks…Walmart. Three to a pack and just a few dollars. Cut the feet off and voila…leg warmers.

  32. Kelle–can you email me? The lady in the blue & white striped top looks super familiar & I’m curious if it’s who I think it is!


  33. I’m a Midwestern girl at heart, and could NEVER imagine leaving the Midwest. Or so I thought! Your blog posts make the coast look so tempting!

  34. I’m just wondering if you ever get recognized when you’re at an event such as the parade?? I feel like if I saw you in person, I would totally be star-struck and would probably ask for your autograph or at the very least, for a pic with you and the girls.

    Love all the pics…looks like you had a great Holiday.

  35. Looks like an awesome time! I LOVE the pictures of Nella in that blue hat – she looks like a little firecracker :)

  36. You’re pictures are just so gorgeous. I want a lesson!!! Want to know what camera you have! And … you have some really beautiful children to photograph … that helps. :)

    Lovely blog.

  37. Looks like a fun weekend! We’ve had a blast starting 4th of July traditions with our two boys this weekend. Long days and late nights but OH SO FUN!

    Where did you get Nella’s blue hat with the red flower? She looks SOOOO cute in that hat!

  38. Oh those shoes! I think the holiday lived up to the heels! Happy 4th!

  39. Cherryblossum says:

    Goodness, you sound just like me. I never grew up either and have so much fun. xxxxx

  40. *cheers* to turning into ten year olds for holidays!! I’m all over that too!

  41. I can never decide which is my favorite holiday, July 4 or Christmas, but this year I’m pretty sure it’s Independence Day. I’ll be blogging about its lovliness soon. Love the girls’ outfits!

  42. Kelle~ Where is Nella’s knitted beanie/hat from. The navy one with the red flower? I’m in love with it!

  43. We would call those “date night” shoes, hehe.

    Glad you weekend was filled with wonderful memories!


  44. Anonymous says:

    Awww the much awaited 7/4 post!!! Thanks for sharing once again. Oh and momma when did you little get so big? Laney looks so big with her 4th outfit on and her flower in her hair. Have a great week!!! xoxoxo

  45. My mother LOVED doing up holidays :) The little touches make such a big difference – love the girls outfits!

  46. Oh, God. Ha ha. Those heels aren’t mine. I can’t afford those babies. I stole that picture from Elle.com.

    Just to clarify, if those were my heels, they’d be knock-off Target cheapies…and half the rinestones would be missing…and there’d be a Cheerio wedged in there somewhere…and my nail polish would be chipped and nasty.

    I’m just sayin.

  47. LOVE the pic of the older military gentleman!

  48. Who still wears nude pantyhose? Hooters’Girls, that’s who! xoxo

  49. I’m curious to know why is Miss Lainey Love boycotting fireworks this year??

  50. Hoots and… !!! Hahaha I LOVE this post! That parade looks awesome and the pictures of Nella in the beanie are just chubalicious. And that lanai photo of your friends makes me miss breakfasts at poppa’s. Hilarious, awesome post!

  51. Best Nella photos ever in this post. What a fun holiday weekend!

  52. super cute photos from the 4th of July holiday!
    The parade finale was “boom boom pow”…I couldn’t get that song out of my head for hours!
    Great to see ya.

  53. looks like so much fun and i love the flags in the devilled eggs!!
    and i seriously love your comment about if those were really your shoes…too funny…and that would be me, too! : )

  54. you are a rockstar. and your blog is completely the coffee of my morning. (despite the fact that it is no longer morning… go with it!) Thank you for sharing your littles, your photos, your inspiration, and your pure joy for life with the rest of us. Keep rockin out loud! =)

  55. LOVE your blog, following you from

    check it out if you get a chance.

  56. Beautiful post! Your picnic article on Babble.com = Perfect. C:

    May you have a wonderful week~

    “You can only share with others that which you have.” -Osho

  57. I absolutely love your playlist. I should’ve told you this months ago, but I’m always distracted by the music. Too long enough to tell you. Lol. Seriously, I thought I was the only person that loved your playlist when my really close friend left me a FB comment saying that when she’s cleaning her dorm she puts on your blog for your amazing playlist to clean to. :)

    Just thought I’d share.

  58. Absolutely entertaining and perfect in every way. Your blog posts are one of the many highlights of my day. Thank you so much.

  59. kelle, i love your blog. i have been having a rough day today- i am coming up on the two year anniversary of the stillbirth of both my twin daughters, vivian and annemarie. i really needed a smile today and a reason to remember the beauty of life. thank you. you touch my heart with your blog, and i am so grateful for your words and beautiful images.


  60. those pictures, bottled up, would create the most perfect perfume: the essence of summer! :)

  61. Kelle –

    When I saw the leg warmers, I thought of a comment that Poppa made last week about your thriftiness – and I assumed “ah, she made them by cutting the feet out of socks.” Eureka. I love your flexibility and ingenuity! Kudos girl. And Poppa let your trick out of the bag – gotta love him!

    And the article about the picnic is terrific. Your writing is wonderful; and the article hit close to home. I had the pleasure of packing up a surprise picnic on Friday night. We went to aviation park on the way back from scooping them up at the Amtrak station. Wow, yummy eats, patriotic cupcakes, and airplanes landing had all of us completely mesmerized. I’m sure the jet exhaust isn’t the healthiest, but man that was cool. Thanks for the pointers, and I’m going to keep my eyes out for some retro sodas too!

    Nella’s smile is outrageously adorable. Enjoy your trip.


    P.S. In your comment about your post, you forgot that if you were to have a pair of those shoes, you would also have baby split dried on your foot (nestled between the missing rhinestone and your chipped polish). LOL. You crack me up!

  62. Love the picture of Poppa holding Nella with that big grin! So precious! Where do you get those knit hats with the flowers? I’d love to get some for my girls!

    Have a fun trip! Can’t wait to read all about it!


  63. I liked the article…I need a picnic basket! :)

  64. I absolutely LOVE the photo of Brett and Lainey at the table. I love her look while she’s holding the coca cola bottle and his smile.

    Nella has the most beautiful eyes.

  65. Kelle-The pictures of Nella when Poppa is holding her…oh.my.gosh…PRECIOUS. I just wanna eat her up, she’s just so gosh darn cute!!!! And Laney…she’s just turning into the most gorgeous little girl!!!!

    Thank you so much for the post! I just KNEW a holiday post would be up quickly. I look forward to yours every year!

  66. Looks like a great celebration! I, too, have that soft spot for holidays and feel sometimes that I’m still stuck at age 10! It is so fun to start traditions with our littles – and I’m so thankful for my parents making our holidays special for us.

    What a great article – that’s something we need to do more of as a family. We’ve got two great picnic baskets – one we got as a wedding present also and one we got at a flea market for $10 (never used! – what a steal!)

    Glad you had a Happy 4th Kelle! The girls look gorgeous – and Miss Nella is getting SO big! :)

  67. Anonymous says:

    All the girls are super cute in their red, white and blue!

    From snuggles to smiles…Nella is just the sweetest in the group of pics with Poppa holding her! (Speaking of which, I am confused as you mentioned Poppa’s place yet you are in Naples…thought he lived out of town? Possibly he has a place in Naples too? Not that it matters or is any of my business, just always assumed he lived in Michigan and came often for visits)

    -The deviled eggs and the pudding/cool whip dessert look delish!

    -Coke out of the bottle = xtra fun!

    -Hooters girls! ha!

    -Enjoy Key West

    Jill B (Overland Park, KS)

  68. Your girls are so sweet!

    Can’t wait for pics of Key West, some of my most vivid childhood memories took place there!

  69. My girls had the same bathing suit. :)

  70. Eva Marie…Lainey doesn’t like the noise of fireworks. Ha.

    And Jill…Poppa has a few places down here that he rents out, so we get to see him lots when he comes down to stay!

  71. I was SO excited for your 4th of July pictures because I knew they would be fabulous!! Right down to the Hooters girls .. Woo hoo! :O)

  72. Kelle, another photos that amazed me!
    Great job on motherhood and photography.
    keep it up! Love you!


  73. Holy smokes, the picture of Poppa holding Nella…….aDORABLE!!!!


  74. I’ve been reading your blog since Nella’s birth story (but first time commenter) and just wanted to let you know that I love it!! I always look forward to your new entries – your family is beautiful and you inspire me to try to enjoy life’s small pleasures a little more as well for my daughter (and another baby on the way. . . )

    Love your photos as well!

  75. Mommy of Two Girls too says:

    I LOVE seeing your little ones decked out in red white and blue! And I LOVE dressing in patriotic colors as well! Adds to the FUN! And, so cute, too! Love this post!!Nothin’ finer than a distinguished military man riding in a parade and of course the backsides of a couple of Hooter’s girls…..so patriotic..and I love it! PS I need me some of those shoes! 😉

  76. Naples sounds like my kind of town being right winged! :o)

    What a happy day you all had!

  77. I love waking up in the morning and finding a new post from you. It starts my day of just right :)

    I love your photos from the 4th, it looks like you had a grew weekend and how cute is Nella in the pictures with Brett!
    Adorable :)

    Enjoy your time away! x

  78. I love reading your blog! Your family life is so amazing, but I just had to comment this time because I love the leg warmers! I made the same ones from socks from Walmart for my baby’s birthday party. We had a MN TWINS Party for their first birthday and I needed red, white and blue for her outfit.


  79. Love it! Americans always seem so patriotic, it is great. The kids all look so cute in their red, white and blues.

  80. I rank Coke in a bottle up there with Apple Pie,,, Truly American!

  81. ha ha, was gonna ask if those were your shoes, but i see the answer in a previous comment. but they made me smile and “ahh” and i realized your right, they entice the same emotions i get over holidays. so fun!

  82. i SO wanted to make a trifle over the weekend but i didnt have the right kind of bowl. one needs a clear glass bowl to properly do a trifle otherwise whats the point.

    nothing better than coke in a bottle!!

    the boys slept in till 10am on saturday so we missed our local parade, but then again i got to sleep in till 10 am so i think it was a good trade off. :)

  83. my 3-year-old is not a fan of fireworks this year either. she sat on the beach with us, stiff as a board and hunched over, clutching her sound-blocking earmuffs to her head, and shaking “no” every time we asked if she liked them. she just kept saying “i want to go home!”. later she admitted she did like “the sparkly ones”, but not the loud ones. nope. ha ha! maybe next year?

  84. Oh.my.goodness. I’m having trouble typing, because that pic of Nella smiling in Poppa’s arms just melted me right into a puddle. Uh oh, fingers melting now…

  85. Such cute pictures. Seriously, your kids are going to have some great memories to look back on. Lainey is so precious, and don’t even get me started on Nella! :)

  86. Awww, that picture of Poppa holding Nella is just the cutest thing everrrrrrr. Yes, with all those r’s. 😉
    Adorable kiddos at the parade. Such festive, cute outfits!
    This was the first year my son actually enjoyed the fireworks. He’s 4. Until he burnt his finger on a sparkler. Ugh! Mom of the year. He’s fine though. Just scared him.
    Love the pic of Nella and her big brother. Melts my heart. So sweet.

  87. LOVE the vintage Chevy! looks like an aweseome weekend!

  88. I LOVE this post!!! I got a Canon EOS Rebal XSi this weekend i took over 400 pics. I would LOVE for you to stop over to my FB page or my blog later and give me a couple hits. Thanks again for your wonderful post!!! Kirby Johansen

  89. Happy 4th to you guys! Glad you had a great day! And can I just say little Nella is just so darn cute?! I could just eat her up!

  90. YAY FOR INDEPENDENCE! It looks like your little family had so much fun. :) Those waffles look bom.com btw.

  91. ya got 2 sweet girls!! ya know what to capture are important. =}

    Love girls’ smiles!!

  92. lainey’s hair is getting so long. adorable!

  93. lainey’s hair is getting so long. adorable!

  94. Anonymous says:

    You are such a great photographer!!!

  95. Anonymous says:

    Just saw your response to me about Poppa’s place in Naples. Thanks!

    Within the next few years, we hope to take a vacation to Floria. I now know who to contact about renting a place to stay. Oh, and I just might know a great photographer to take our pictures!

    Jill B. (Overland Park, KS)

  96. oh, those little bunny smiles are TOO much. how freaking cute is she?!

    i know we don’t “know” each other for real, but i’ve been reading since around when nella was born, and you might be one of the most inspiring mothers/women/writers i’ve ever read. in short, you win at life, so keep it up, girl–i always appreciate knowing i can pop over here and get a little extra dose of sunshine. :)

  97. Anonymous says:

    I just love your blog, but PLEASE, if your children are handling sparklers get them to wear something protective. It’s like handing your child a pan of burning oil. So hot and so dangerous to beautiful little hands.

  98. Oh what a happy, happy post. Love the pics of Poppa and Nella. And Lainey is such a little diva in her Fourth wear.

  99. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoy your blog! It always makes me feel good to be alive, even when you write about the tough stuff. :-)

    I was wondering where you got the shoes Nella is wearing at the parade? They are so cute. Now that I have a daughter, I’ve become a clothes horse. Thanks, Carolyn

  100. I’m so glad you posted all these great july 4th pictures. It’s one of my favorite holidays and this year I spent the day flying back home here to Texas from Ohio. I missed out on ALL the festivities. So reading this post made me feel like I got some kind of taste of America’s birthday. Thanks!

  101. Anonymous says:

    Tears in my eyes over the veteran with the trumpet…it’s just a moving, real human photograph. The smile, the flags…geez, I’m not a flag waver, but that photo literally brought me to tears!

  102. I don’t know which I enjoy more..your words or your pictures.

  103. I have four boys, and I am planning on taking permanent measures to ensure that we have no more, but oh dear God, your pictures of Nella make me want a baby again!!!! So bad. So seriously! :)

  104. Anonymous says:

    So is your little girl ever allowed to get dirty, not match and not look like she’s always picture perfect? What is wrong in your life that you need perfection at every turn? Moms like you turn little girls into basket cases about their looks as they grow up. Hope yours can avoid that. Good luck with that.

  105. Just wanted to share that the video brought me to tears. Such a fan of your photography. I could feel all of the joy and happiness your family was feeling throughout the trip. Thanks for sharing!!!

  106. To Anonymous,

    Don’t be so hateful. I assume what goes on this blog is generally the best of the best in Kelle Hampton’s life and even so, Lainey is clearly allowed to get dirty. Haven’t you seen all of the fun things she gets to do? I promise you she doesn’t stay clean on all of their sidewalk chalk and popsicle afternoons.

    It makes me wonder what is so wrong in your life that you need to criticize the way someone has made perfection out of the life they probably didn’t imagine. Good for Kelle. Her girls are great and will grow up just fine.

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