Southernmost Bliss in the Continental U.S.

So, we’re standing in line at the Butterfly Conservatory yesterday, and I hear some guy behind me say to his wife, “I just couldn’t live here this time of year, I’d miss Christmas.” And I smile and tell him it’s been 7 years now for me in Florida, and though I used to think that same thing, it really does become home.



Thank you all for the well wishes for Nella. She’s feeling so much better.


Can ya tell?


I’m presently sitting on the veranda. I’ve been wanting to use that word for some time now, waiting to drop its roll-off-the-tongue loveliness, and I thought now was appropriate timing. I, of course, envisioned my first time using it to involve some sort of weathered porch swing and pea-snapping experience, but here I am, swingless and pealess. The redeeming factor lies in the fact that our veranda offers two large wicker rocking chairs, a nice kitty-corner view of the ocean and a cheap telescope that doesn’t so much reveal brilliant stars but does rather scope nicely across the courtyard and into other people’s balconies. Not that I know from experience.



Key West is restoring and peaceful and lively all at once.



It has me slayed with its tree-climbing chickens and its many-hued homes–all symmetrically embellished with charming shuttered windows.


It is a great brew of art and nature and color with the perfect balance of off-the-beaten-path and commercialzed tourism, the latter experienced with our trek up Duval the other night where my mother-in-law and I pushed strollers and tried to talk over the booming beat of “Hey Sexy” blaring from one of the novelty shops.

I tried to talk her into these pants, but she declined.


And I passed by the “Tell your boobs to quit staring at my eyes” t-shirts to land upon a happy little shelf of $5 shoes where I scored these lovelies in both red and turquoise.


It’s actually cool and windy–the kind of wind that sets the rocking chairs in motion on their own so that if you listen closely at night, you can not only hear the palm trees rustling but a steady creeaaak on the balcony–I mean, veranda.

We walked to Smathers Beach last night, and I love the fact that I begged to make the long journey to the rock wall only to find once we got there, it was just a treacherous stretch of jagged spears that made Brett really, really nervous.



He finally braved it, carrying Lainey all the way to the end because you can’t walk 2 miles to a rock wall and not say you didn’t climb to the end, eh? When in Rome.


We loved the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. Grandma and I took Nella there yesterday…wasn’t sure if Nella would notice or care about the butterflies, but totally spotted them and was diggin’ it.




This nice lady who saw me snapping pictures walked up and asked if I’d like her to take one of the three of us. I showed her what to do and she was all proud and beaming after she successfully managed to focus and click on the big fancy camera. “How is it?” she asked as she handed it back and I turned the screen to take a look.

I smiled. “Beautiful,” I answered…because I didn’t have the heart to tell her her photo pretty much blows.


We havent’ done a lot of swimming because it’s been chilly, but we did enjoy a bit of hot tub…




…and my favorite thing about the place we’re staying: the monstrous bathtub. Get this…with jets.


You can fit like six bodies in that tub (again, not that I know from experience), and we’ve already taken about ten baths.

And, we now know (this time from experience) that adding bubble bath to a jet tub causes exponential growth of suds. Kind of like adding milk to Grape Nuts and they suddenly triple. We were swallowed whole by bubbles the other night, like monstrous foam just growing and spilling and little heads getting lost in the sudsy clouds.



We leave tomorrow, and I’m sucking the marrow vacuum-style today. All of it. The shell shops with their painted coconuts and wind chimes and cheap starfish bracelets.


The everything-else-can-wait feeling that vacation brings.



The sunsets and conch fritters, jagged rocks and raunchy t-shirts, and the happy colorful streets that make my girls happy.




Giveaway winner of Elizabeth Street $25 credit: Commenter #12, Kara: Glad to hear that Nella is okay after her visit to the ER. I love all the excited faces feeding the tarpon!

Congratulation, Kara. Please e-mail your contact info to, and we’ll get you all set.

Excited to get home and start some holiday splendor.
Unicorn, Out.




Leave a Comment
  1. Glad to see Nella smiling and back to her normal self again!

  2. hey beautiful — so loving that you’re enjoying your trip :]

    happy friday/weekend! xo

  3. So glad that Nella is feeling better! Poor thing.

    And I’m in love with your colorful beanie…although, I’m not sure if I could pull it off. 😉

  4. I love Laniey’s red and white striped tights. She looks like a little elf! Also, I laughed out loud at the blurry picture taken at the butterfly conservatory.

  5. Absolutely wonderful. What a great getaway! Obviously just what the Dr. ordered.

  6. Love the last pic of the two girls on the rock. I’ve never been to floriday for some reason, but I might have to check it out just for the photo backgrounds:) Glad Nella is better! BTW, grandma could totally pull off those pants.

  7. Ahhh…I love when you go to Key West.

  8. So glad little Nella is feeling better! Enjoy the rest of your vacay! Beautiful pictures as usual! Hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas.

  9. Thank you for taking time out of your vacation to share a little bit of it with us! Enjoy every last drop of it…

    Those WERE some serious bubbles! Glad you all found your way safely out of them 😉

  10. So glad you’re having a wonderful time! Looks like it was just what you needed! Happy weekend, Kelle! :)

  11. OH my word- the nice lady/blurry picture had me laughing out loud. Not an easy accomplishment at 8:48 a.m. for this homeachooling mama of ten, but you did it;)
    Sure hope enough people ask where you got those awesome knit hats, that you answer here or on the next post- they are SO cool!!

  12. Looks like a magical vacation, I was just so excited for another post !!!

    Enjoy the blessings the days bring !

  13. homeschooling…not homeachooling. HA.

  14. So glad that Nella is back to feeling better! Beautiful pictures as always!
    You have inspired me… yet again… this time? a brand new camera! Big one. A canon… it is my dream come true. Now one day- pictures like Kelle Hampton.
    Thank you for your inspiration!

  15. dear Unicorn girl,

    Reading your blog with my 12 year old home-girl, having a quiet morning in our pjs by the fire. (Friday is our ‘free-day’)
    This post with all the great pix made me feel like “vacation” in southern FL. I think we will have to go to KeyWest sometime when we are down south again.

    Thanks for the glimpses
    p.s. SOOO glad your babyNella is better too. Those sweet-sister-shots just slay me!

  16. We were just in KW in May – we didn’t go to the Butterfly Conservatory and now I am sad that we didn’t! But we did have fun on Duval at Margaritaville and 801 – funniest show I have seen! 😉

  17. Beautiful. Looks like the most colourful place on earth, between the kids clothes and the scenery. Wonderful shots, as always. Happy Friday. Have a great weekend.

  18. I love the blurry picture! So sweet! ;0)

  19. I love the picture of Nella sleeping and love her hat. I am so glad she is better. Glad you all had a great time – it looks beautiful.

  20. Kelle, you are a brave woman to wear white pants with two kids. I teach art and I’ve always been tempted to buy white pants but it’s just never going to happen for me :). One too many accidents waiting to happen.

    I ADORE Key West. If you have time, visit Hemmingway’s home. It’s so beautiful and inspiring. I’m freezing my a** off here in MI so enjoy that Florida sunshine! :)

  21. At my desk in my office laughing out loud at the blurry picture!


    This year I headed to Malibu to take my dolly’s picture for our Christmas card. The golden light,the purple knitted hat, the awesome purple majesty skies and dolphins made for some great pics!

    I wish I could share them with you!

    I’m glad little cheesecake is feeling better!

  22. Gosh. I’m such a wimp. I already want to trade my snowy state for your sunny one!

    Enjoy it all… some of us are freezing (and will be for a long time!)

  23. i use to read your blog, never commented, but just to tell you, i’m happy to see on nella’s face her wonderful smile!!!!

  24. My dad put bubbles into my parents’ jet tub once and immediately regretted it. He was salt-shakering the entire bathroom in no time. :)

    I enjoyed your day!


  25. Oh Kel I love it! I was thinking about while driving through the Cascade Mountains back to Seattle. I saw pine trees covered with 10 inches of snow and I thought “If I ever have to move from a wonderland like this to a sunny place like Kel did I will NEED the grace of God to not cry at christmas time”.
    I love it Kel and I am secretly sad that Nella is almost a year old! She is growing up so so fast! It seems like I was just captivated by her “Birth Story” and found myself reading it over and over with tears streaming down my face!

  26. So happy to see Nella doing better, and all of you looking lovely and rested! My babe is convinced that she knows Nella because every time I read your posts she squeals with delight at her face.

  27. Glad to hear your little one is feeling better. Gorgeous photos, as always. :)

  28. Nella’s booties – the fern green ones with white polkadots – where where WHERE did you find them? Too cute and comfy!
    I have a picture of my 75 year old grandmother in a jet tub surrounded by bubbles (which let to the lifetime nickname, “Betty Bubbles”), just like the one of Lainey’s little face peeking out. How fun!

  29. Okay taking a deep breath thru your vacation. Feeling refreshed a little, thanks for the trip. :)

    The girls look heavenly. The beach oh the beach is so calming. The shops too funny! Love the new shoes.

    Happy Travels! Be safe, take care and hugs to all!

    :) Teri

  30. I’m glad Nella is better! That smile with arms raised above her head is excellent proof that good health is on the move :)

    This vacation looks amazing! A good friend of mine just moved from Arkansas to Florida and she’s dealing with the the whole “no winter weather” thing herself. She said its already growing on her, but a big adjustment nonetheless.
    I think I could get used to it :)

  31. Those pictures of Nella in front of the turquoise gate and her asleep in the stroller with the patchwork quilt are adorable! Glad you are enjoying your vacation!

  32. beautiful pics…love the sunflare ones. I have your sweater by the way…need the hat and then we’d be twinkies:) i think i could get used to the beach and all it’s loveliness. i could do it i’m sure of it!

  33. How I love getaways like that. They are good for the soul.

    So glad to hear that Nella is doing better. When I read that post and I told my husband, “Oh no, Nella is not doing well! She is in the ER.” And then he came over and said “Is she okay?”. And at that moment I realized the impact that your blog has had on me… My husband knew exactly who Nella is without asking.

    You and your family have become part of our friends and family in a weird sort of way. Crazy how that is.

  34. So glad that you were able to get away for a little bit. Someohow reading your blog makes me feel like I was there! Key West looks like a wonderful place to visit and something I need to add to my bucket list. Safe travels.

  35. Just have to say, I LOVE the picture of Nella in front of that iron gate, her outfit is too cute. I smiled so big when I saw that one.

  36. I love you, Kelle Hampton. All I can say is, thanks.

  37. I love the girls (and yours) hats – they are definetly hat girls, I’m lucky like that too cuz my daughter also loves her hats!

  38. Oh how a happy vacation is the best medicine! So glad to see miss bean smiley again. Hoover that marrow & safe travels home.

  39. OK….I have wondered this forever, and I really have to ask now…

    How big is your family’s collective wardrobe?? It seems like every post shows numerous outfits, shoes and accessories that have never been shown before! Where does it all come from??

  40. I love the way your dress your girls in mis-match and stripes and skirts and crazy shoes and cute hats…etc…etc. I so wish I could be bold like that. I will live vicariously through you. :)

  41. LOL on the lady offering to take your photo! “Bless her heart!” (as they say in the South) :)

  42. I’m so jealous–the weather is amazing up here in Kissimmee right now, so I can just imagine how beautiful it has to be someodd hours south of us.

    I’m so glad to see Nella’s doing better and Lainey seems back to normal–enjoy that last day of vacation magic!

  43. Matching suits, kick! I was JUST saying to a friend how i always volunteer to take photos of a group with a mom, and when people try to do the same for me it is disaster. I smile at the lack of ability to simultaneously aim and push a button!

  44. beautiful!!!

  45. Looks like a lovely and relaxing time!!! Makes me wish Key West wasn’t a rather long airplane ride away for me!

    I always love your girls outfits but I must say I love the little red/white/green striped number Lainey had on in some of these pics. Adorable and festive!!!

  46. I can just hear: “You’ll never guess who I took a picture of today! You know that blog I love…Enjoying the Small Things? It was Kelle! I can’t wait to see MY photo on her blog.”

  47. beautiful pics as always. my fave is nella face to face with her dolly

  48. Nella is so adorable, I just want to bite her! hehe… Beautiful pics as always. Glad you guys had a wonderful time.

  49. unicorn — i’m so drawn to your blog! i love seeing Nella grow. i love seeing Laney in her cute outfits. you’re a good mom!! :) you’re a good reminder to suck the marrow out of life. kara

  50. beautiful photos, as always! I loved that you didn’t have the heart to tell that lady that the picture she took was blurry.

    I also wanted to make sure I sommented today because in a couple of the pictures, I can really see that Nella is starting to look a lot like her big sister, Lainey. So sweet!


  51. I’m happy to see that Nella is healthy and strong! The pictures of Lainey loving her sister are precious! Key West is a beautiful place. :))

    “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” ~Goethe

  52. love the keys…my fave vaca of all time!! so fun to see it thru your eyes and lens!
    i’ve been wondering how you met brett..must go back to the beginning of your story and find out!
    happy dec. 3rd!

  53. so, i have never commented before, but thought now was a good time. i love your blog and honesty and finding joy in the small things. and also? this might sound weird- but my little audrey and your little lainey look alike, i think. :) that blonde hair and darker eyes. but your little one has longer hair and is slightly older. :) anyway, your family is beautiful and so are the stories you share.

  54. Yep, me too! GUT ROLLING my obnoxiously loud laugh at the blurry photo! Thanks for my first laugh out loud for the day :)…and GOOD GRIEF your family is beautiful!
    Healthy blessings to you today,
    The Other Kelly

  55. all eyes on you baby xoxo

  56. I love “It pretty much blows”! She did however take a great picture of the plants behind you. She gets points for trying. I am glad ot hear nella is doing better!

  57. so the photo that the lady took….priceless! made me laugh so hard!

  58. So, so, so glad Nella is feeling better. That little one of yours (and Lainey, too) has found her way into my heart and she’s made herself quite at home there! I’ve been praying for her…and you, it’s good to see she’s back to her happy self. I loved the story of you feeding her in the backseat on your way to Key West, hilarious! Certainly a trip to remember. From here on out it will be “remember the time we went to Key West just before Christmas?” Maybe it should be a new December tradition…just sayin’!

    Oh, and your mother-in-law could totally pull of those pants!

    Angie from Ohio

  59. I have been following your blog for awhile now and just admire you zest for life. I was wondering when you write your blog do you choose your pictures first or do you write first and then choose your pictures? I teach kindergarten and as my students are learning to be writers themselves this question has come up. Just thought I would ask:)

  60. so precious! love the greens on Lainy.

  61. Kelle, your vacation looks so relaxing! I laughed out loud at your jet tub + bubble discovery. My husband and I discovered that ourselves on our honeymoon. Long story short, the hotel carpet got a nice shampoo that day. Never turn your back on a jet tub filled with bubbles. It will take over!

    Have a safe drive back and thank you for your blog!

  62. Kelle, I have to tell you I was having a terrible Friday and I just opened up your blog, which I read every day, and it brought a smile to my face and I realized it’s not so bad after all. Gotta focus on the small things :)



  63. Okay that bath bubble photo REALLY made me laugh out load, not just LOL. Reminds me of Mr. Mom and the dishwasher. =)

  64. So glad to hear you’re all having a fabulous time. I love the pictures, your words, everything. Love, love, love your blog.

  65. Yea, so we did that bubble bath in the jet tub thing on our honeymoon in a swanky B&B on the North Carolina shore … thankfully the suds were gone by morning, as we had no idea how we were going to explain to the owners the presence of bubbles & suds all over their lovely room!! Great photos as always. I’m always curious when you go to Key West, as our one and only experience there lasted about 8 hours and involved me stumbling, almost literally, over a stark naked dude sleeping on the beach on New Year’s morning. No doubt he was sleeping off the previous night’s festivities! We were overall disappointed with Key West; we had been in the Everglades for almost a week and found it much more our style!!

    One funny tidbit … frequently, when I’m reading your blog, one of my girls (9 & 7) will look over my shoulder and ask, “who’s that baby?” or “who’s that little girl? do I know her?”, and I just don’t know how to answer them. (This just happened again!) Because I don’t “know” you & your family … and yet it so often feels like I do!

    Christmas season blessings to all the Hamptons!

  66. I love Lainey’s striped outfit with the green hat. Super sweet!

    Glad to hear you’re having such a lovely time. Enjoy the veranda. 😉

  67. This looks like an amazing trip! Speaking of amazing…where did you get the LOVE shirt? I absolutely, wait for it…LOVE IT!

  68. I’m back….forgot to say I LOVE the quote from KC! This part “If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”…that part is rocking. my. world. And I’m reminded what a tall order it is to be the main influence in our littles live’s. Anyway, I wrote the entire quote out (because I don’t have a printer, that’s okay…it looks a lot prettier written with my orange pen) and it’s hanging on the fridge :)

    Be safe on your way home!

    Angie from Ohio

  69. lol at the pic of you 3 that the woman took! 😀

  70. I love that in the merriment of the season…you let that lovely lady think she had climbed the jagged cliff too by taking your picture with that “big camera”:) The kindness in your heart is always so evident. Glad to see Nella has bounced back and is enjoying vacation too.

  71. nella is starting to look like a toddler on those first pictures! she’s beautiful! :)

  72. would love you to share where you get the beautiful hats on the girls! My daughter is fascinated with hats.. and she would LOVE those!

    The pics are way too beautiful! Sounds like you all are having a great time!

  73. Sooooo funny, that picture the woman took of you guys! Classic. Enjoy the last few moments of vacation!

  74. Miss Nella asleep in her stroller ~ little beauty!

  75. By the way, where in the world did you get that love sweater?!? I LOVE it!

  76. I’m glad Nella is all better! I loved that picture you took to accompany that Nella was better-her beautiful smile! Love the girls’ matching bathing suits! And your Lainey surrounded by bath bubbles-I would do the same thing.
    Glad you had a great vacation!

  77. Just had to Google “Goethe” to see who the dude was that wrote that beautiful quote. Loving it. And loving this post as well. Nella’s smile just made my day.

  78. Looks like fun! And yes, jet tubs make bubbles 10x more fun (literally). Learned this as a kid and loved it! lol.

  79. I love Key West! Spent a summer there working at a child development center–your post is bringing back memories. We took our daughter to see butterflies when she was about Nella’s age–she loved them more than the zoo, probably because they’re so brightly colored and move slowly enough to stay in focus. Awesome. :)

  80. Your unicorn comments make me laugh out loud. One, because my daughter is obsessed with unicorns. Two, because I remember that hater who commented and said you that you were high on unicorn farts (which made me laugh for months).

  81. Oh, nella looks so much better! I’m so glad. And you all look so so very happy to be vacationing with one another and having a good old time. You look beautiful kelle, the happiness just lights up your face (:

    The picture the lady took? I laughed so hard. the foliage behind you looks so very crystal clear, though! Points to her for that, at least.

    I’m wishing for a vaca more than ever now, but the holidays coming up are just as exciting.

  82. I love that picture of Nella sleeping in her stroller! My husband and I long to move to Florida (from Michigan as well) and enjoy spending some lovely time outside on Christmas instead of running from the bitter cold winds. Someday!

  83. Oh man – that picture had me in tears I was laughing so hard :)

  84. Love, love the matching swim suits and Lainey getting swallowed up by suds. Heres to having a great vacation!!!

  85. Nella in front of that iron gate—I died! LOVE.

  86. Vacuum-style, my dear, is genius! May we all suck the marrow out of the precious small moments! When recently posed with the question…”If you could meet any celebrity in the world, who would you pick?” I picked you! Kelle, you are the mommy celebrity in my eyes! Thanks for your continual posts.

  87. I’m so glad Nella is feeling better- and that you’re enjoying your vacation! You sure deserve it after your ER visit! xo

  88. i wish i had your way with words so i could truly express what your post did to me this evening. its been a bad week and i was pleased to see the new post as your blog always makes me feel calm and happier… but when i scrolled down and saw the picture of beautiful nella smiling the biggest most beautiful grin.. your blog lifted my WEEK. im not exaggering… after the pain i felt for you guys when nella was sick last week to see her grinning was so lovely and just the sight of her pure joy has really really lifted me. it has given me a tiny glimpse into the way that that beautiful girl has enriched your lives. thank you. never stop writing.

  89. I love the chicken photo and the one where you caught the butterflies flying in action!!!

  90. Last two photographs… AMAZING… That’s all for today!

  91. I am glad you are having a wonderful time. It sounds splendid. The t shirt made me laugh so hard.

    LOVE the bubbles multiplying.

    Here is to finding even more magical unicorn moments tonight.

  92. Glad Nella’s feeling better! She has such beautiful eyes! I just can’t get over them…and the bubbles & jets= awesomeness.

  93. Love love love your hat. Where did ya find it?

  94. Still laughing…
    Love the BLurRRRRY photo of you 3.

  95. Kelle….you look GORGEOUS!!! Do you get looks like, “who is that star?” The girls are beautiful, too:) I love all the colors (both in the outfits and in the scenery).

  96. So happy Nella’s feeling better and back to her smiley self. I just love the picture of her asleep all covered up. Lainey holding her is another favorite of mine.

  97. OMG, that photo the stranger took of the three of you girls? PRICELESS. Laughing my butt off. The trees in the background are in PERFECT focus, aren’t they?! LOL. Glad you’re enjoying your trip and that Nella is feeling better. I bet if you’re going to get RSV, Florida is the place to get it…It’s gotta be better than fighting that in Michigan!

  98. that’s why i often carry a beat up old point and shoot when i am out and about – for those little family pics snapped by sweet people who do not know how to operate my big honkin’ dslr!

  99. Beautiful vacation…I could use that one right about now. Nella must have thinned out while she was sick, her face looks thinner also. Glad she is feeling better.

  100. Kelle~

    I LOVE Lainey’s pants with the flair at the bottom! Makes me wish i had a little girl to dress up like this!

    Idon’t think my sons (ages 10 & 15) would go for it!


  101. Your vacation looks lovely. I am pretty sure I could live in that bath tub with all the bubbles. I am so glad Nella is feeling better. CHRISTMAS SPLENDOR, HERE WE COME!!!!

  102. I’m really starting to see a LOT of Lainey in Nella! Love the bath pics!

  103. Lainey looks so cool in her stripes!
    Key West-what a lovely looking place.

    Have a great weekend.

  104. xo, Bug & Ruby’s Gram

  105. Oh my gosh—-can’t stop laughing at the photo that lady took! She got the trees in focus perfectly!

  106. My husband & I fell in love with Key West on our honeymoon! We found a place called blue heaven (who knew it was so popular) that we came to think of as our own secret spot of AMAZING! f you haven’t had it, have it & think of us all the way in Alabama!

  107. glad to see Nella is smiles again. I’ve been wondering about her all day.

    I sure hope that nice lady doesn’t find your blog and her very funny photo. I love how the leaves in the background are perfectly in focus. ha!

  108. Laughed out loud when I saw the picture the lady took for you :) That’s so awesome haha! And check out those bellbottoms Lainey is sporting! How freaking cute! I want some…. haha

  109. So glad Nella’s feeling better. I’m in south, south Miami (almost Homestead) and I haven’t been to Key West in years. I’m gonna have to make the trip. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the picture the nice lady took. I would’ve felt bad telling her too.

  110. I can tell Nella is feeling better, yes! She reminds me of that advert for formula with a laughing baby and the slogan ‘Do I look like I need extra vitamins?’

    I thought it wasn’t going to get better clothes wise than Lainey in the green baker boy cap – perfect for her! But then, the monkey pjs!!

    Bath would have been my favourite too. Happy Homecoming..

  111. loved this post. laughed twice: once for the t shirt (cause I’m a 14 yr old at heart) and the helpful photographer. Plus Key West is such a wonderland. Nella’s little booties make her look like she has cartoon feet, and she’s smiling again!

    Plus you played Vampire Weekend. Saw them in St. Augustine earlier this year. DO NOT MISS them if they get near you. Non-stop dance party.

    Great post!


  112. The pictures are just breath taking. The colors and all the fun you had brought a smile to my face. Glad you had some faimly time.

  113. HAHA!!! LOL at the photo that woman took for you :)

    so happy to hear that Miss Nella is feeling better :) and that you all have had such a nice vacation!!

  114. we got married in key west, and have only been back once…so thanks for the pictures of our special place! glad nella is on the mends!

  115. This is my first Christmas in California after the Midwest and Colorado. Halloween was weird for me. Trying very hard with Christmas!

  116. Kelle, your posts bring me so much hope….<3!

  117. the pic of nella by the gate with the cute hat and ploka dot shoes needs a frame- its fab! i also love the pic of the chicken in the tree it could be on a huge canvas!

  118. Looks like you are having loads of FUN – I am glad. And SO glad that Miss Nella is doing better! Love the blurry photo that was taken of you all. I turned someone else onto your blog – the numbers are growing! Love to you from the Blog Mama

  119. I love the blurry photo. I just got an email from my mother in law with pics from my swearing in ceremony stating: “As usual all of the pics [father in law took] are out of focus.” LOL

  120. xoxo.

  121. Kelle–So great to see that Nella is healing with the love, light and closeness of her family! You all just radiate love. Thanks for spreading such joy!!

    You’re opening so many hearts.

    Warmest wishes,

  122. Sorry to read about your little ER detour with the little princess. RSV can be frightening. Hope our hospital friends took excellent care of you and Nella. The backseat picture of breastfeeding Nella in her car seat made me laugh. But hooray for keep her in her car seat – they really do save lives.
    Enjoy your vacation. Send sunshine…the snow has begun and we’ve had few cloudy days.
    Hugs from Michigan…

  123. glad to see that Nella is feeling a lot better.

    Looks like your vacation is a blast

  124. I told myself that I would read all of the post from Nella’s birth on before I posted a comment. WOW, what an inspiration you have been. You reminded me that when the going gets tough…I should get tougher. Also, that I should try and see the glass half full. I just went back to work from maternity leave and I can tell you that I looked forward to my few minutes of “free” time each day to read your blog. It was like a good book I couldn’t put down. Your girls are beautiful; you are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  125. Cute how Lainey and her daddy have EXACTLY the same expression on their faces, looking at the beaded jewelry.

  126. You’re my favorite Unicorn!

  127. Who made that quilt wrapped around Nella?? I think that’s my favorite picture. I can feel you guys unwinding :-) ahhhh, what a great time of year to do this!

  128. LOL!!! We did that with the suds once…Crazy! LOVE the matching swimsuits, too. Great post! So glad to hear Nella is feeling better! :)

  129. I don’t know if I’ve posted this before but my almost one year old Lola is named after the rescue sea turtle with the wonky fin named Lola who resides in the Key West aquarium.

    Special place.

  130. Looks like such a dreamy getaway!

  131. so good to see that sweet smile return on Nella’s little face :) LOVE the photo of her asleep in the stroller with her quilt.

  132. Adorable…and yes, I do miss those cold, snowy Christmas’s in Rhode Island…for about 2 seconds! :) But isn’t there something fabulous about palm trees waving down at you while you are toasting yourself in that wonderful bright ball in the sky!? (I’m in San Diego)

  133. You’re Nella, looks JUST like my Evelyn… Evie’s only a few months older, but I think they are even growing HAIR at the same rate!! LOL

    Beautiful blonde girls we have!

  134. Your girls look beautiful and squishy! I just want to smoosh them!

  135. I love the picture of Nella sleeping! She looks so peaceful which is awesome since she was recently in the ER with the yuck that is RSV!!! Glad she is better & y’all got to take that awesome trip!!! Thanks for letting us live vicariously through your pictures!!!

  136. okay where did you get your CUTE sweater! I want one! xxo

  137. Oh my goodness…the photos of the suds in the tub made me laugh out loud. Love it!

  138. Kelle–I’m wondering about the very cute LOVE sweater too! Keep shining!

  139. love the hats that you and lainey are sporting. a.d.o.r.a.b.l.e!!!!

  140. I have lived in Southern CA and Florida and yes they felt like Christmas. Each place has its own seasonal feel. Now watching the snow in Ohio and I would rather be watching the waves somewhere…..
    Loved the pictures. susan

  141. I am happy to hear Nella is feeling better- by the pictures she looks bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to tackle the world. The trip just looks and sounds marvellous!

  142. Ok that hat that you have. I scoured etsy. I want one! I’ve looked at your pictures 900 times because i’m in lust with that hat. Looks like some fabulous family time. There is nothing better!

  143. Just to let you know. My husband loves your photography as much as I do. I think he now realizes the value of the new camera he begrudgingly let me buy. Now to just learn more on how to use it to get the best photos I can. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as good as you, but I’m sure as hell gonna try!

  144. Great pictures of your family get-away to Key West!! Lainey is getting so “grown up” and looking so much like you!! Your pictures of her scream out her spunky, life-loving yet shy personality…a true beauty! Nella, well what can one say about that squeezable bundle of joy!! Hurray for feeling better (LOVE that pic).

    Happy holiday prepping. We’re in the swirl of it all and loving the twinkle and laughter it brings with it!

    Happy weekend!

    PS Loving the hats on all of you…where’s Brett’s? :)

  145. I’m so happy to read that Nella is all better! She was in my prayers. I also love that the girls clothes are almost as colorful and fabulous as they are! Keep up the good mommy’ing!

  146. Love your life, happy for you – yet envious of you. It seems so perfect and beautiful

  147. The picture of Nella wearing her tasseled cap and yellow polka-dot slippers is soooo adorable!

  148. the picture of Nella in front of the iron fence is beautiful, she looks like a baby doll! She is precious!
    love your blog!

  149. I am glad she is healing. I can’t remember but have you heard of this?

    it’s a foundation for Orphans with Down Syndrome. My niece has down syndrome and her mother is advocating for this place.

    I thought you may be interested.

    Enjoy your holiday!

  150. Sweet! I love your summery wintery photos!

    Butterflies are wonderful! So happy that Nella enjoyed them!

  151. Nella with her arms in the air and a face full of smiles… how awesome is that!!! So happy she is better.

    The blury picture taken by the lady…. that is freakin funny!

    I love the girls matching swimsuits in the hot tub. Swimsuits for boys are so boring…

    What an awesome trip. Glad all is well.

  152. glad you are decompressing after the hospital run…enjoy your family

  153. My goodness Nella has gotten big! She’s just gorgeous as is her big sister!

  154. ok. so your comment about ‘how chilly’ it’s been in key west had me laughing earlier…because really, it’s about 20′ here in indiana, with 4 inches of snow on the ground :)

  155. bah ha ha ha…
    the blurry picture made be laugh far louder than one should at 11:22PM, with two of your own children asleep for hours, along with a young 2 year old house guest that doesn’t always do so well sleeping in a bed other than his own. SO glad that I managed to regain control and not wake the sleeping angels. I should be in bed myself and reading this in the morning with my coffee, but I realized that I was a bit behind on my blog reading and it was so peaceful in the house that I dove in. Glad I did, I always feel uplifted after reading about you and your lovely family.
    Also have to say thank you for the trace-the-hand-make-a-fabric-turkey craft idea; the kids loved it, and they are so cute, I’m having a hard time packing them away!

  156. i have to parrot most everyone else when I say I am so glad that Nella is feeling better. All those adorable hats you all wear! Nella and Lainey are so cute I just want to squeeze their cheeks and hug them tight…

  157. The blurry photo just cracks me up!
    Here in southern CA it can get hot during December. Since I have never lived anywhere else, I don’t know any different. But it would be nice to have a white Christmas once. I think I’d have to go away somewhere for that to happen, though. Maybe to our local mountains. I don’t mind hot days in December so much, actually. It beats having to dig your car out of the snow every morning!

  158. Kelle! I have that same “love” sweater! :)

  159. Wow, you guys got some really great shots down there!! Nothing like a Duval crawl with little munchkins!

  160. I’m so glad Nella is feeling better! I love the “feeling better photo!”

    Your trip looks like a lot of fun :) Hope the ride home was successful xx

  161. Dear To-Marrow, To-marrow,
    Oh, how I love the color of your posts… infact, your color vs. gray post inspired me to start and little blogging project involving posting the a favorite picture, a paint-strip with the color(s) of my week and a description of why it fits. My goal is to do that for every week for a year and then make it into a keepsake book.

    Love your rockin’ the knobby knits shots.

    The red shoes and pearls

    The Chicken bokeh

    Nella-wafer Slays Me in Every Shot in NE

  162. Glad Nella is feeling better. Awesome that you guys are having a great vacation. As always your girls are adorable. As I become more and more obsessed with your blog, I would love to hear the story of how you and Brett met and fell in love :)

  163. Looks like an awesome mini vacay! Great place to refuel and build some really cool family memories… It’s nice that your mo-in-law can come along and be an extra hand/person to join the fun!

  164. I am loving Nella cute little booties. So cute! I am glad you had a great trip.

  165. Growing up in Florida…I was worried that Santa wouldn’t know where to find me because we didn’t have a fire place. I hope Santa comes to your two little girls just like he did me….through the oven :)—-thats how creative my parents were!

  166. I love that Brett and Lainey are making the SAME face looking at those little necklaces! How darling :) Nella is gorgeous as always, I cannot look at that child and not smile!

  167. I just had my first baby 3 months ago (Evy) and we have learned that one of our favorite times together is taking a bath! We just have the normal size tub and I keep telling my husband that when we move someday I want a huge tub so we can take baths with all our babies :) Anyway, can’t wait to at least go to a hotel and experience that with her! Just had to share :)Thank you for sharing your life with us- if I ever visit Naples I am looking you up!

  168. haha, i love the random lady picture. 😉

  169. Warning – this is going to sound stalker-ish!

    I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now. You’re on my “it-would-be-so-cool-to-meet-in-person” list just because I admire your approach to motherhood. I live in Ohio so the chances of actually meeting in person are quite slim!

    My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last week and he surprised me with a trip – to the Florida Keys! I thought of you frequently, I couldn’t remember exactly where in Florida you lived. (Not a very good stalker, right?) We stayed in Islamorada and took a day trip to Key Largo and another to Key West. Imagine my surprise when I’m catching up on the blog posts I missed when I was gone and I find out we were in the same place at the same time! How crazy is that???!!!

    Happy to read Nella is feeling better! It’s hard when our babies are sick. (My son broke his tooth while we were gone – talk about feeling helpless!)

    Merriest of Christmases to you and your family!!!

    Bev in Ohio

  170. Just want to say, I love the pics of Lainey on the steps. She looks like a Christmas elf! Adorable….

  171. Seriously? Every time I read your blog, I just want to move to Florida. I’d be okay with snow-less Christmases, really, I would!

    Glad to hear Nella’s better, sweet cherub.

    Signing off from blustery Ontario, Canada…

  172. i have been reading your blog for a while now. i love your outlook on life. i am due jan 20 with our first! love all the pictures and so glad nella is feeling better.

  173. I really love all your photos. But my favorite is the third one. Your daughter is so cute. She is a little angel. A little angel in a very good mood. Adorable.

  174. I must have those pants! They’d be perfect for my default Halloween costume – “modestly dressed hooker.”

    And those bathtime pictures made me long for a bubble bath.

  175. Beautiful! I wish I was in the Key West. We are dealing with congestion issues, etc. Curious to know where you got the LOVE shirt! I really “LOVE” it!

  176. Looks like a lovely time. I love that vacation feeling of everything else can wait.

  177. I love the second picture of you and Lainey. You look so fab in dark red lipstick! I could never pull that off! Where did you guys stay- we love The Inn at Key West!

  178. Pics of Nella always make me smile! :)

  179. Gosh, your girls are GORGEOUS. What I want for Christmas…hmmm…just to be surrounded by my family (especially my kids)!

  180. That picture of Nella sleeping in the stroller with the hat and the quilt is pretty much one of the best EVER. Love.

  181. Oh how I love your blog. As a mom of two fun, spunky little girls I can relate to so many of your posts. I long to be as crafty as you….but just come up short!! I am also a midwest girl and could never imagine leaving home-until I saw your Key West pictures. Maybe I could leave the snow for some sunshine and drinks on the beach in December?! Anyways, I got my Christmas gift a little early this year. In July my baby boy, Charlie, was born and let me tell you this boy rocks! Feeling super blessed this holidays season. Happy Holidays Kelle!!

  182. Super cute pictures of the kidlets. I heart the hats the girlies are wearing. Too cute!!


  183. OMG, exponential bubbles. Wow! I laughed out loud and thought “where or where is a jet tub for my disposa?l”. My 2 YO girl would love a bath like that as much as I would.

    Thanks for sharing moments of your vacation. It’s cold here (20 degrees) so your warmer shots go along way.

    -Jennifer from Annapolis

  184. I would love for my husband to have a steady job. Living in California and working in Construction has been difficult the last 3 years.

  185. where did you get your love shirt?

  186. I want a baby for Christmas! We want Luke–our 4 year old with Ds to have a sibling. Not sure if he is on board but he will be! :)
    Love your blog. I have a link on my website and have been meaning to ask you if I could have permission to use a pix or 2 (or 3 or 4) of Nella. She’s too adorable for words!
    The site is to encourage new parents and hopefully make anyone thinking of termination–reconsider.
    Thanks! Dayna

  187. OMG. Love the picture the lady took. I laughed out loud :)

  188. Love the hats! super cute :)

  189. I guess I missed this post back in December, but that blurry photo (and your comments) made me laugh so hard! Thanks for that!

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