Santa, I Know Him.

Things that make me happy, right here, right now:

Boot Keychain.


I’m not really the buy-the-LED-light-up-rose-at-the-gas-station-counter kind of girl. Or the paperback cookbooks/pencil toppers/slashed price CDs. But this boot? It was in a bowl with other little boots at a check-out today. And the lady said they were on clearance. I have a thing for miniatures. And boots. And things that make me think of Michigan in December. Dude, I had to have the boot. So I bought it and slipped it on our shared keychain. Two hours later, I ran out for an errand and noticed Brett removed the boot off the keys and left it in the center console. He has yet to realize I put it back on. I smell a Boot War. The boot stays. The End.

The Elf Went Home.

We’re not making a big deal of it, but turns out…this isn’t the year. The idea of an elf coming alive while she was sleeping was starting to freak her out, and we knew it. And I love that about parenting–the fact that loving your child comes with knowing your child. I know her, I sense her insecurities, I feel her heart beat in sync with mine. She kindly asked for Elfitty to go be with Santa and, um, let’s see…how was it she put it? Oh yeah, “Stay forever.” We smiled and hugged and said “of course.” Maybe we’ll try another year because, yes, it was fun. Until then, there are all sorts of hilarious elf texts and e-mails flying around our family.

Making Gifts.

A doll blanket to accompany one of Santa’s gifts.


And a brilliant idea from my friend, Rebecca. We made several jars of homemade laundry detergent the other day–telling stories and entertaining kids while we grated fragrant soap bars and mixed powder.


We found a few recipes online and ended up blending some of them together–one cup of Borax, one cup of washing soda, two cups of grated bar soap (several sites suggest Fels-Naptha or Ivory, but we used a variety of homemade scented bar soaps from Whole Foods). And the best part? Lavender essential oil (I shook at least a good 20 drops per jar).


We blended it in a blender until it was a well-mixed powder. It smells amazing, you only need one tablespoon per wash, and it’s very inexpensive to make.



I even tested it. Fresh, clean, stain-removed little baby clothes.


Yields 11-12 jars from one box of Borax, one box of washing soda and a little more than 12 bars of soap.

I never figured myself to be the make-your-own-laundry-soap kind of girl, but I’m two weeks shy of 33, and I’m realizing all sorts of things about myself in these beginning chapters to Thirties. I can make my own laundry soap. I like a nice boot on my keys.


That’s what Nella says when she wants to swing. She points outdoors and says, “Wheeeee.” Sister is communicating bananas lately, and we are eating it up. There is that moment when I figure out exactly what she means, and I’m beaming–shaking my head, smiling, responding with exuberant praise. “Yes! Yes! Nella! Good Girl!” We clap. We celebrate. More words. More knowing our child.



So she doesn’t like little elves that walk around your house at night. No biggie. There’s so much she does like. Friends, make believe, Daddy.





I combed their hair extra smooth today, wound tight buns, found new hair ribbon, and slipped black patent leather shoes over tights. I usually hate malls, but today we walked into the side hallway and were welcomed by the last chorus of “Frosty, the Snowman.” I smiled. It felt like Christmas–the contrasting monopolized one that, today, actually nicely “accessorized” the homey fireside one we love. I pushed the stroller while Brett held tightly to Lainey’s hand, and we walked past the food court and into the tunnel of kiosks toward the castle of Santa’s crew.
There was no line and, thankfully, this year’s Santa had a real beard and was over 30. He was real, thank you very much. We sat Nella down first.

That went well.


Once her sister mirrored her on Santa’s other leg, she was just fine. And I love that.


I couldn’t stop smiling. And my big girl? The one who now suffers from Elfanoia actually relaxed her shoulders, snuggled into that furry coat, and made captivating conversation.


Sometimes I still have to tell myself I’m a mom. I have two little girls who sit on Santa’s lap and, in a little over a week, I’m going to clutch my coffee cup and cry-smile while I wrap up the year feeling grateful in a moment of clarity–watching my family all huddled together.

That’s all that really matters.


Friday Photo Dump:

Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12×12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am “etst” on Instagram if you want to follow the feed.


Last minute Gift Suggestions:

Stock up on Body Care Product Stocking Stuffers from Michelle Timmons Arbonne or surprise a mama you love with a subscription to Mamalode magazine (I’m writing a piece for their next issue and excited about a friend’s article in the same issue.).


Your F.A.Q. questions are great–will answer several next week.

And now…also loving…Vince Guiraldi, fireplace fires, colored lights, planning next week’s holiday meals, knowing things will slow down come Monday, parties and ballet recital this weekend, wearing slippers, good neighbors, my little boot.

And memories of this day, last year.



It’s mid-December, almost the end of the year…what are you loving right now?



Leave a Comment
  1. AHHH, the first picture of Nella with Santa absolutely made my night! There’s nothing quite like a big sister to make everything in life less scary :)

  2. We have been doing the elf this year and it has worked well, I had my doubts though. Last year on St. Patty’s day the leprachuns (Sp) came and did crazy things to our house, including turning the toilet water green. This caused a melt down of massive proportions and screams of “Why, Why did they do that! Why did they turn the water GREEEEENNN” to this day we laugh about it.

  3. I’m giggling about the elf!

    And I totally started making my own laundry soap this year too! Love it :) I do a bit different blend that goes in a 5 gallon pail and is kind of a gloopy liquid but it’s pretty cool and makes me feel like I can do ANYTHING.
    I use Zotes pink soap and the scent is delicious.

    So cute about Nella saying “wheeee” my son is just a month older than your little one and he calls the swing set a “Whee” it confuses so many people when he asks to play with the Whee because they think “Wii”

  4. As always…LOVE!

  5. I am loving our home. And the traditions that we have made our own here (even here in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas). I am especially loving hearing the littlest belt out “Feliz Navidad” at the top of her lungs. She finishes it off with a great Ayah! at the end. Priceless.

    Wishing your family a very merry Christmas!


  6. Love that Nella calls a swing a whee… Stella does the same thing :)

    What I’m loving right now is the excitement Stella has for Christmas. She just turned two December 1st and this is the first year she’s really starting to “get” it. She’s obsessed with Santa (she actually cried because I tried to take her off his lap.. apparently she’d rather stay with Santa and be an elf than come back home with mommy) and knows instantly when a Christmas song begins playing. Seeing her excited makes me even more excited about the holidays.

  7. I am loving my 17 month old daughter, and the fact that she is in awe with Christmas <3

    P.S. I made the mitten garland/ advent and <3 it!

  8. Making your own laundry soap, you rock!!! That is an amazing neighbor gift!! I love Nella with Santa. That is exactly how my little man reacted till big brother came over and sat with Santa too. I am loving frost in the mornings and hot chocolate at night.

  9. So after writing *right here* about not having any elf episodes.. It happened. Ours Flopped off the top of my daughters bookshelf onto the floor. She came running (more like hyperventilating) to tell me that Eddie fell. I said it’s ok.. let’s just close your bedroom door– Maybe if it is dark in there, he will think it is night time and fly back up where he was. Thankfully he listened! Whew.. she didn’t even want to go in her room for fear he would move while she was in there– heaven for bid anyone were to touch him. HAA all is good now.. I hope he doesn’t fall again! Glad Nella and Lainey sat on Santa’s lap.. My girl still wants nothing to do with that!! xoxo Enjoy your weekend!

  10. Do you have one of those crocheted sweaters in every size?

  11. haha My husband and I have a key chain battle as well… over my totally cool dangly hippy chain. He takes it off. I put it on. He takes it off… We been married 27 years. And still the battle rages. (I think we are on keychain #5 of the ongoing battle)

  12. Oh gosh poor lainey. I love the “stay forever” so cute! I also love homemade laundry detergent. I’ve been making it for a few months now. Talk about a money saver.

  13. I make that homemade laundry soap too! I was going to make some for my husband’s Grandma who was inquring about it, but pretty sure hers will now come in a ball jar with some festive fabric and a twine bow. I am loving baking Christmas cookies with my girl, all while she’s up on her little stool dancing to Frosty the Snowman. Love this time of year.

  14. Uggh our elf is still in transit. Apparently USPS and NorthPole mail are not best friends anymore…or at least with Canada Post. I’m loving having 3 four year olds this year…waaaay more into Christmas then last year!

  15. A little selfishness… I am loving my new iphone and instagram lol

    as a mom, I am LOVING the excitement. I took me 3 kids, 11, 9, and 2 1/2 (my only girl) out to see the big Christmas displays. THEY ALL LOVED IT! I thought for sure I lost the 11 and 9 year old this year, but NOPE! I think that made me happier then the lights lol

  16. I am loving that I had my Holiday Party in my Kindergarten classroom today. It’s a brunch filled with treats, presents for the kids, and parents. I get filled with such a cheeriness as I play the great hostess to all my kinders and their families. I also love that numerous of my previously taught students take the relaxation of the day as an opportunity to come visit me. I really love my families and my community. And, starting a 17 day weekend ain’t bad either! 😉

  17. I totally thought you wrote that you TASTED the homemade laundry detergent and I thought, while you might have been born under a rainbow and frequently seek out unicorns, even that was a bit far. Thankfully you only TESTED it . . . the differnce one letter can make huh?

  18. Right now I am loving…..the excitement of Christmas, the snuggles of my sniffling littles, the idea of a movie night with hubby after they are in bed, and the thought of trying to do something nice for someone who needs it (haven’t figured out who or what yet). Love your girls, and your enthusiasm for mothering, makes me tear up every time, because I totally get it!

  19. PS being new to instagram I cant figure out how to search for people to follow lol

  20. the elf on the shelf is totally creeptastic! lol! that lainey is a dear one.

    the santa pics are amazing.

  21. Merry Christmas! We go on the Santa adventure tomorrow, we’ll see how that goes! Nellas sweet crumpled face was killing me, so glad her big sister was there to make her feel better.
    And, I am totally with Lainey – I don’t like that elf business, not one bit!

  22. I just met an elf named “Bob” today. His family was not ready to send him back to Santa. Kids were 8 & 11. Give it time.
    Cracked up with Nella on Santa’s lap. Not so much poor Nella but your “that went well” comment..LOL.
    Things I’m loving:
    1)Tree & candle lit living room.
    2)Hot chocolate w/cold whipped cream
    3)Scentsy “Festival of Trees” ~ brings me right back to my childhood home at Christmastime
    4)Countdown to Christmas Eve with surrouned by my family

  23. I’m totally with Lainey, I would have hated the Elf concept as a little one. Love the laundry soap idea. I turn 30 on Christmas and who knows, maybe I make detergent and household cleaning supplies in my 30’s!? I get the boot thing as well. I’m from Maine but now live down south and I covet anything that feels like true winter. I live for my LLBean catalog! :)

  24. sounds fun, i do believe i need to try to make my own laundry soap. love the photos … so cute at the mall. christmas time is grand. i love watching all the cute christmsa movies. watching the muppet christmas carol now. fun!! (:

  25. I had to laugh at Lainey being freaked out by the elf. My 3 year old totally freaked out the 2nd night so we just let the elf lay low for awhile. Now she’s ok with it. Love the picture of Nella with Santa, I hope we get a crying on santa’s lap picture this year…

  26. Elfanoia…literally laughed out loud!!

  27. I’m with you – love the boot! In fact, I just bought a pair (life sized!) just like it.

    I love that we’re going to have a white Christmas, that hot chocolate tastes amazing with Chai liqueur in it and and how my girls squeal practically every time I plug in the Christmas lights on our tree.

  28. I am loving this post and its gorgeous pictures. I’m loving that anytime I need a pick me up I can visit your blog and pick a thread and keep pulling and find myself an hour and a half and 7 posts later feeling inspired and content. I’m loving that I am less than a week away from my due date and know that I will be meeting my second little darling any day! Thanks for writing and inspiring!

  29. What a magical conversation between Lainey and Santa. Nella to seems rather interested in what she has to say:) Love those moments that hit the heart and remind us “I’m a Mama…to these beautiful children!”
    Happy ballet and other magical moments this weekend…


  30. oh my, poor lainey and her fears of elfity walking around while she sleeps. glad it was solved quickly and smoothly :)

    what a classic santa picture that nella has :) LOVE HER!

    have a great weekend!

  31. Love so many things about this and previous posts:

    1) Didn’t know that you couldn’t touch Elfitty or his counterparts in other homes until the last post – SOOO glad I learned that before I “killed” his magic in my sister’s house! (Our Nattie, who is Nella’s age, is nowhere near ready for that yet.)
    2) LOVE Nella’s initial reaction to Santa, as that is what I am anticipating with our N. And there’s no big sis to comfort her, so I am ready to be the other-leg-companion… we’ll see how that goes.
    3) “Sometimes I have to tell myself that I’m a mom.” I cannot believe how often I think that, nearly 2 years later. We are so lucky!

    I’d wish you a magical holiday, but I can see you are already making it thus. Thank you for sharing it!

  32. Uh I just love you among other things. So glad I stumbled here way back when. Can’t believe it’s been a year since the Utah trip. Wow time flies. I still have freak out moments where I can’t believe I’m a momma. What an awesome privilege.

  33. OMGosh~ Loving the photo of Nella on Santa’s lap… then love the one even more of Lainey w/Nella on Santa’s lap; priceless!!! Have a great weekend, Kelle~

  34. Thinking of you as I finally got my Christmas cards delivered today so I could write them out, and watched the Family Stone which I keep on the DVR all year long :) Happy Friday. And by the way. Lainey = mini-Kelle.


  35. I am loving the anticipation … the countdown to the big day. My boys are four and finally *get it.* My daughter is still a bit young, but she sure loves the lights, the stockings, the cookies … so there’s a part of her that gets it too. I love that I’m guiding them through this beautiful time of the year, etching their memories and creating my own at the same time.

    Cheers ~
    Reading with Joey

  36. “That went well.” I totally wasn’t expecting the picture that followed and it left me in stitches. I’m loving that in 7 more sleeps I get to load up my precious family to drive back home to Manitoba to be with the entire clan…to see my kids being loved on by them makes me swoon. I seem to cry more in my thirties…all these moments get to me much like those Hallmark holiday commercials. Those make me weep until I’m spraying snot. Tell me it’s not just me.
    ps. your homemade laundry detergent? Now you’re just showing off. I’m looking around my office for something to whip up…at best, I’ll crack open a bag of chips to whip up into my esophagus. Baby steps. xo

  37. I love that you followed big sister’s lead and sent Elfity back to Santa. You know her better than anyone else could, and it’s better to save some magic for later, or never, than to let it steal the true magic of Christmas. <3 And I love that all little sister needed was to have big sister nearby to make a visit with Santa less frightening. <3
    Way to go on making your own laundry soap! It’s amazing how shaking off some of the “modern conviences”, in favor of more simple and traditional ways, can make you feel more connected to generations of women, finding their way through motherhood, working, teaching, and guiding their children with a fierce, yet tender love.

  38. You always have the best photos in your Friday phone dump. Making your own laundry soap is such a great idea! Looks like the girls had fun making it too!

  39. Still have to bring the kids to see Santa and sooo glad we have a “real” santa at the mall near us… going tomorrow!
    3 down 4 across… LOVE your outfit :)

  40. I can’t begin to say home much I look forward to reading your posts. They make me smile, make me think, make me giggle, make me tear up and make me so thankful to have been sent a link to your blog from a friend.

    As the mom of two little girls (who we have to work each day on loving each other well) it absolutely warmed my heart to see the difference a sister can make. What a beautiful picture – one I will not forget as I continue to guide my little ones in becoming a blessing daily to each other.

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal life in such a personal way. I adore your writing, am enthralled by your photos and can’t wait for the next post!!

  41. Oh Kelle… you ask what I’m loving and I am loving you. And as weird as that sounds, I can’t help it. That picture… you know the one… of Nella on Santa’s lap. I laughed out loud. I read through the end of your post and then had to scroll back up just to read it again. I made my day. I made my week. Thank you for bring your blog to my world… I’ve been a reader for two years and I can’t quite imagine life without you! :) And my Christmas wishlist? For you to check out my blog…. pretty please?
    That way, when I came to FLA someday and request a playdate for my girls, you’ll know who’s coming! :)

  42. Sorry for all the typos above… that’s what I get when I type super fast when I’m nursing a baby. :)

  43. Just wanted to let you know how much you inspire me! I’m a college student, so way not ready for marriage and kids at this stage, but the love you have for your family and life, and your positivity, makes me excited for that stage of my life! I never saw myself closely following any blogs, but after reading Nella’s birth story (like many did), I was hooked on both your zest for life and your way with words (I honestly knew you were an English major before I found out you really were!). It’s obvious from your writing that you love your kids with everything you are, and just as importantly, they know, and that’s what I strive for when I am a mom one day, because that’s what makes a fabulous mom. Mistakes or not, if you love your kids and give them all you can, they’ll turn out great. Haha I’m awfully sure of myself for being 20 and childless, but it’s just what I’ve seen so far! Your outlook is so incredibly refreshing; there’s so many people who choose to focus on the sad or frustrating parts of life, but by focusing on what is so incredibly good about life (and there’s so much that is), we make life so much richer. You really have a gift for writing!

  44. I just wrote about what I’m loving these days too…

    Such a fan of your gorgeous family and your creative spirit:)

  45. I am loving the magic I see reflected in the dark eyes of my three year old every night when we add one more Christmas item to our list of all things Christmas.

  46. I love that Lainey made the decision about elffity. I just made a list on my blog of what summer is, and they’re mainly what I’m loving right now: long days, being on holiday, hanging out together at the hut, our crazy dogs, fixing up our fence so we can grow our own veggies. Happy weekend Kelle.

  47. Oh and one more thing. Sometimes I take for granted that I get to live in beautiful Utah. Thanks for reminding me. I will be spending next week in your favorite place “evah” and thinking of you.

  48. Okay, I’ve been wanting to make homemade laundry detergent since last year, but someone please tell me: where do you buy washing soda?? I can’t find it in Target, Wal-Mart, or grocery stores. Is it an online only type thing? How do other people seem to come by it so easily when I’m running around scratching my head? Please and thank you for the help.

  49. Reading this post in the dark. It is 7:30 am and the first day of our Christmas holidays. This morning we woke to the first real snow of the season! The kind that stays. The Christmas tree lights are on and I am just reading and watching the flakes fall. I’ve been waiting for the Christmas magic to come and well, I think…it’s here. I love your posts and think the pictures of Santa and your girls are amazing but my favourite picture is Nella stretching her lips up for a kiss in your Friday photo dump. You’ve inspired me to grab my camera…when the sun does come up a little and capture some of this snow magic today! Lx

  50. What a fun visit with Santa. So glad you could go together : ). Beautiful.

  51. I am obsessed with your “boot”. That just made my day! And laundry soap…such a good idea. I’ve been meaning to try this for so long so thanks for giving me that extra push of a reminder. :) Your girls are so beautiful with Santa, priceless photos! :)

  52. I love the cold and I love the picture of Nella on Santa’s lap.

  53. I’m with Lainey, the whole Elf thing freaks me out!!!

    He can visit Santa F-O-R-E-V-E-R! (said Sandlot movie style!) LOL

  54. I love right now – finding peace with this: comeing to the conclusion that Christmas will happen whether or not I get the baking done, whether or not I get all the decorating up, the house clean, the gifts wrapped, whether or not I am ready it will be here, and it will be good – good family, good friends, good food, a good time to be grateful!
    Smiles to you and yours! CB

  55. wonderful idea the home made laundry soap!!!! i want to try!amazing idea for some gifts for christmas! thank you!

  56. i look forward to your friday photo dump every week!

  57. the fact that my finals are over on monday and i can finally enjoy christmas-songs and baking galores with my girls.

    and that we’re going to buy our christma-tree like right now!



  58. well, on the bright side, if the elf ever returns to your home again, it’ll likely be a different elf… with a new name. Right?

    And by the way, Nella’s a smart girl… any other time of year, parents do NOT want their kids crawling into laps of strange men in disguise promising to give kids whatever they desire. It’s just wrong! 😉

  59. I’m hysterically laughing at Nella’s solo pic on Santa. There’s nothing funnier than bad Santa pics!

  60. you’re amazing!!!!

  61. loving Nella’s Santa pic (we’ll be seeing the Man today at our DS party), “Glee Christmas” on Pandora, date night last night for Vietnamese food, and snuggly babies.

  62. Wow…that santa face was CLASSIC! We were thinking of taking baby Noah to see santa this year…but I think we’ll wait. Although he did turn one year old a few days ago and since tomorrow we are having his birthday party…and since it’s penguin themed…and since I couldn’t talk the zoo into letting me have someone come over with a penguin for an hour (seriously!) I’m thinking of dressing up as a penguin and taking some pictures like that…we’ll see how that goes!

    By the way, I”m a HUGE hat fan also…people often ask me where I find Noah’s hats….(Jennie and Jack often have cute ones!)..but if you (or anyone else) every sees any awesome hats for cute boys please let me know! :)

    Keep rocking!

    (Noah’s Dad)

  63. I’m loving my first Christmas with my boyfriend. We are watching Christmas films every night – It’s a wonderful life, Scrooge, Elf, and snuggling down with mulled wine, our Christmas tree twinkling in the corner. It is a special, special time.

  64. Gorgeous post!
    The girls are mesmerizingly cute, really :-) and the idea to make detergent is brilliant – what a good idea!

    What I love most about right now is:
    The anticipation. My Boy is so excited and we all are, really.
    Bonus”-love-right-now”: I love the fact that my Winter-Stomach-Flu hit me with the realization that if we can just all be well come Christmas Eve (which is what we celebrate here), that’s all I want for Christmas :-)

    That’s very important, more so than gingerbread cookies freshly baked or anything else like that.

    I wish you and your beautiful family a wonderful Saturday!

  65. I look forward to our ski-vacation in the France Alps with Christmas. It’s the first one of my 7-months-old-daughter, so very special! Even more special, because we were supposed to go on ski-vacation two years ago with our son, but he died suddenly two months before. It will be mixed feelings of course, but also so wonderful to be with my (almost complete) family in the snow!

  66. Never knew we could make laundry detergent at home!
    I love the expression your daughter has looking at her daddy

  67. I have never thought of myself being a “make your own laundry soap” kind of girl also but I love your idea and am happy to hear it works well! Thanks for sharing…you have inspired me to go make some soap (oh, and put it in awesome jars also)!

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  69. I totally get the sisters and santa thing. My sister is a year younger than me. When I was Lainey’s age, my sister was afraid to sit with Santa until I explained that he couldn’t get her because he had his seatbelt on.

    I’m finishing up my first semester of teaching (high school English) and I’m loving the very real sense of community my classes have established. I’m looking forward to a much-needed break, and turning to peaceful early morning jogs to get through the stress in the meantime.

  70. I completely understand her Elf aversion. Have you seen Ashley at Little Blue Boo’s Elf posts?
    I’d send that Elf packing, too.

  71. Im a 32 year old mother to two girls (4 and 2) and I have to do the same thing….sometimes they are playing and I think they are mine, those are my girls, im the momma and their the baby- its wonderful nothing I would rather have in the whole world than two sweet sisters :)

  72. Sorry to hear that Elifity needed to take a trip back to Santa… but sounds like Lainey is comfortable with it. That’s all that matters. Love the Santa pictures. And as for your thirties, I am beginning to think they are the best decade so far. I’m a little past the half way point (36) and feeling like I’m just getting started :)
    And as for what I’m loving right now… my daughter’s first Christmas and all the joy that comes with it. And my normally “bah humbug” husband who’s dishing out the Christmas carols like they are going out of style and decking all the halls with boughs of holly. Seems that a child brings out the child in him! Have a great weekend, Kelle!

  73. FAQ – what ever happened to the tv series you filmed in utah last year?

  74. This year I’m loving planning my Mom’s 60th birthday. She’s a Christmas Eve baby and all her life her birthday has been lumped together with Christmas. Cool, but this year is going to be better. Tonight we celebrate 50’s style, with a sock hop, pink everything because apparently before Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias claimed it, Pink was my mom’s signature color, lots of food, family, friends and laughter. This year, I’m loving this gift of celebration for my Mom!

  75. Gorgeous pics. So cute that Nella was okay once Lainey got on there….

  76. I am LOVING my little girl right now. I had, what can only be described, as an eye-opening moment of clarity – I’m her Mama & our way is the right way. So, she doesn’t like her sippy cup – she’s 16 months old, not 16 years old. So, I snuggle her to sleep – who doesn’t feel all warm & cozy & hella loved when they are cuddled?? You wanna put your kid down to scream on a cold, hard mattress & judge ME!? Bring it, sista. I am loving the small, fleeting moments where Toy Story is playing & baby girl can’t help but drop it like it’s hot when You’ve Got a Friend in Me starts playing. If you blink, you miss her rump shakin’, but if you catch it, she is pumped when you smile at her. I am loving right where I’m at because it’s right where I’m supposed to be.

  77. If it makes you feel any better, my oldest daughter used to HATE the elf on the shelf. A friend bought it for her 3rd birthday and she was totally creeped out by it. So we got rid of it. She’s 7 now and is finally fine with it but it tooks 4 years for that to happen!

  78. I absolutely need to try making my own laundry soap! What a great idea.

    That little boot is darling.

  79. That is just precious, Nella being fine with Santa after her sis sits down! I love that photo!

    We had to ditch the elf our first year too. My daughter was also very concerned about him being in our house at night. “That’s just weird,” she said. haha!

  80. I love that first shot of Nella crying on Santa’s lap and then how calm she is once her sister is right there with her. Precious!

    You made laundry soap! What an awesome gift. Love how you inspire us.

    Sorry to hear that the elf has been put away on a dark shelf away from daylight. Funny, but I get it.

    Happy weekending!


  81. Nella’s Santa picture (crying) made me laugh. My nephew (now 3) has taken a pic like that every year since he was born. It’s pretty amusing. This year he even made the Chicago news stations “Scared of Santa” tribute page.

    Right now I’m loving knowing that Christmas is right around the corner. We’ve got all of our decorations up and Winter scented candles are lit daily. I love driving around and looking at everyone’s lights and I’m especially loving the radio station that broadcasts Christmas tunes 24/7. If only I could get my Christmas shopping done, I think I’d be good.

  82. I am LOVING being a mama to an almost 3 year old that is soaking in Christmas like a big ol’ holiday sponge. My eyes get misty just thinking about it. And of course I am loving this post, and all of them, really. Your blog makes me feel that I am normal for wanting to squeeze every last drop out of every day. Cheers!

  83. Precious little winter boot!

    Your girls are just so beautiful, and how do you find time to do anything but nibble on those Nella toes when her feet are bare?

    Gorgeous shot of Mama and baby Nella on the fence (in MI?)- what a glorious background!

  84. You quite often take words out of my mouth. Your wrapping-up paragraph (family matters) actually made tears come out of my eyes. Hard to do. We’re kin.

  85. Awww…those Santa pics with the girls are so good, I feel like I am right there in line seeing it all happen! We saw Santa Tuesday in the mall & that is all we went in for.
    Loving coffee, Christmas cards, Christmas pics, playing with the kids, and the cooler weather we are in right now.

  86. We didn’t start the whole elf thing ’til Sofia was 7. Once all the kids in school started having elves arrive, she was totally on board with it. But like Lainey, I too, think he has an incredibly creepy look to him — it’s the shifty eyes. Anyway, there’s enough magic going on in your house — with all those unicorns flying around, who needs a freakin’ elf? :)

  87. I laughed so hard over that elf having to leave the house. Loved the before Lainey and after Lainey joined her pictures of Nella with the big jolly guy. Thanks for a fun post.

  88. I just love your blog posts and the thought and stories you put into them. This one made me tear up. Seeing your little one cry on santa’s lap and your reminder that you’re going to have santa together and be huddling together next weekend. And secretly I’m selfishly thankful that you live in Florida, because I live here too and am not from here and resent the weatherman and the thermometer in my car when they tell me that it is 75 in December. But because I see that you’re able to have Christmas spirit and the joy of the holidays down here too it makes me smile because then i can as well…even though my family lives in a place where it is snowing. Thanks for that.

  89. Ha ha–that cracks me up about Lainey and the Elf b/c we had a similar situation! I brought him out after Thanksgiving, and my 4 year old told me she was scared. Why? Because, ‘what if he sees me do something bad to my brother!’ We bagged the little dude. :)

  90. I’m loving that I am *thisclose* to getting to donate $100,000 to my son’s school, a preschool for children with special needs!!

  91. what I’m loving right now are your pictures…you have a true gift my friend! You see things in a different lite than most people and i see that lite too. I recognize and adore good photography. Thanks for making my days more beautiful with your heart and your lens.
    Merry Christmas to your darling little family! xo Beth

  92. We took my 13 month old to see Santa and got a picture pretty similar to Nella’s. We ended up getting a great picture once he moved to a stool at Santa’s feet. I can’t lie, though…the hysterically crying photo is probably the one I’ll frame.

  93. I needed to read this today! Thank you for sharing your amazing thoughts as usual :) I will be calling my mom and sister in law soon to discuss your latest post. They are some of my favorite conversations…you bring out the “I could totally do that” in us. I have an almost identical pic of my sweet girl with santa from last week…priceless.

  94. I loved finishing up the last of our Christmas shopping with my mom in the snow while eating fudge, sitting in the dark with just Christmas lights, picking out stocking stuffers for my kids, snow, Christmas lights, hot chocolate and my family.

  95. Love your miniature boot! I, too, found myself making the homemade laundry detergent that I found on Pinterest that’s a recipe very similar to yours. I ended up with 2 quarts…and since I’m a party of one right now, I’m not gonna have to buy any for a LONG time. I’m thinking I’ll be giving some away as well! love the idea of the essential oil. Will have to try that on the next batch! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Allison

  96. I celebrated the solstice tonight (a few days early) with friends and right now I am digging on my tinsel wreath, my clothes smelling like smoke and sage, and a belly full of warm good eatables.

    I don’t blame Lainey for freaking out about the elf. The thought of an elf coming to life while I sleep? That freaks me out, too.

  97. That sweet picture of Nella and Santa just melts my heart. Thanks for sharing these moments. Your girls are so lovely.

  98. I’ve been wanting to make my own laundry soap for a while now, but I can’t seem to find any info on if it is okay in HE machines or not. Any thoughts?!?!

  99. Love your santa pictures! I couldn’t even get my little one to go near him for a picture. I have four adopted kids with special needs, and I can relate to the times of disbelief that I got so lucky to be their mommy.

  100. I am lovin’ seeing Christmas through the eyes of my one year old son!! I am already forcing holiday traditions on him. Oh well, he better get used to it!

  101. I work retail in a toy store. I am loving that xmas is almost here so I can get back to normal!

  102. Aw, so sorry Elfitty had to go home! Maybe next year he can make it through to Christmas. And you ROCK for making laundry soap! I consider myself pretty crafty but never thought to even attempt this. Brava!

  103. I am loving being home after 2 days of going, going, going. I am also enjoying time with my sister, and the thought of a week full of adventures (and no school work!) :)

  104. The picture tells a whole story in itself. Adorable.

  105. Aw, these little feet are sooo cute! :)

  106. Oh my gosh, I love that Nella was fine with Santa once Lainey sat with her. Sisters are amazing.

    Love this post!

  107. We did the elf this year for the first time and the first night did not go well! My 6 year old daughter was freaked out. “I just don’t like the idea of it.” “What?”, I asked. She replied, “Someone watching me ALL THE TIME.” haha. We compromised by telling Buddy (yes, Buddy the elf.) that he isn’t allowed to come upstairs at night. Especially not into their rooms. They are in love with him now and he is allowed upstairs. Phew.

  108. I have yet to try making homemade detergent but I guess as I near 30 I should try it. I almost read that you tasted it, instead of teste it kinda got me scared a minute there. Isn’t borax poison? Did you make it with your normal kitchen utensils?

  109. I own boots like that!!!! Used ’em to get our tree….in the snow!

    I’m learning to crochet! Can’t tell you how excited I am about this. My goal is to make a scarf out of yarn I’ve had picked out for 3 years, and to make garland adorned with buttons for our Christmas tree next year :)

    “OH, BABY!!!” I exclaimed as I saw Nella’s sad face on Santa :(. Our advent activity for tonight is to make popcorn and watch “Miracle on 34th Street”. Lainey reminded me of this movie when I saw her talking to and trusting him…..nice Santa :).

    ***And lately I am loving the smell of my husband’s cookie baking while listening to our old 1930’s radio program, The Cinnamon Bear. I am reminded, especially today, what a great guy I landed :) Today is our 12th anniversary… magical getting married in December.

    Rest in peace, dear Elfitty.
    Kelly :)

  110. What I am LOVING right now is that yesterday my beautiful, almond-eyed ten month old ate a cookie… all by herself! She grabbed that cookie with purpose and slowly but surely it found it’s way into her mouth, then as I stood there with happy tears rolling down my face, baby girl cracked the biggest toothless grin ever. She knew that she had just done something HUGE and momma was proud!! 😀

  111. That is a good idea to make the laundry detergent as gifts. Jon and I started making the powdered detergent a few years ago, and that was all well and good, until I decided we should try to make the liquid kind. Well, the recipe I found online made about 4 gallons of the stuff!!! I had it in this huge bucket in the laundry room and since you only need a tiny bit for each load it lasted FOREVER and started to get all lumpy and weird. When we FINALLY used it up, I went back to the powdered stuff – much more manageable!

  112. I’m almost 24, and I totally suffer from Elfanoia. Those elves on the shelves freak me out! Your daughters are so beautiful. Your posts never fail to make me smile!

  113. Wow, look how teeny tiny Nella looks this time last year! So amazing to see how much they grow in 1 year….she’s gorgeous!!
    I’m loving: being a Mummy of 2, morning coffees, pumping out Christmas tunes in the car with my kids, my girl dressed in ballet costumes, wrapping presents, doing Christmas craft & red wine :)

  114. Oh I just love your girls! Their faces, their expressions, your stories…the boot! 😉 I love watching Christmas unfold at the Hampton Home. xo

  115. I’m loving the summer weather and knowing I only have 3.5 days of work before our holiday begins! Bring on Christmas :)

  116. Always love how this season makes me feel, like there is hope and peace and joy throughout all the world!

  117. I love that the main madness of shopping is done for me and now I am wrapping and putting gifts under the tree- a few each night. My girls wake up and see them and their eyes get big and they say, “there’s more, Mom?”
    We are baking and tidying and reading stories and listening to carols. Planning the meals for the weekend for company and anticipating the restful time afterwards. I love everything about this time of year!

  118. “Sometimes I still have to tell myself I’m a mom”… too, I NEVER grow tired of it!

    What makes me happy right now? In 5 days and 9 hours I will be surrounded with love by my daughter, her husband & two darling granddaughters!!!!

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful little family!

    xoxo, Bug & Ruby’s Gram

  119. I’ve never been on a blog that has 118 comments! Lovely blog and beautiful girls. I have a special needs daughter. You might be interested in my blog post:
    I write for moms of preschoolers and kindergartners. Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS with your beautiful gifts from heaven.

  120. Much like Lainey my poor husband is totally freaked out by the elf. Our daughter LOVES it and totes it around everywhere (because we had to let her touch it). But he cant wait till the holidays are over and that scary freaky little elf is back in its box haha

  121. My Son had the same face that Nella did at first but his didn’t change when his sister was there, I think he has a great fear of Santa – every Santa we see he busts out his pouty lip and burst into tears. Got to love it.
    I am loving Horse drawn carriage rides on cool nights, Beautiful lights, new memories, Camels named Curly who are friends with a mini Donkey Who really know how to put on a comedy show and magic of Christmas.

  122. I’m loving that my family is together!!! This is the first Christmas in a while that Daddy isn’t spending in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is also our first Christmas as a family of four! I’m so over the moon happy that we are together, happy, healthy…I could go on forever! Oh, and I’m loving that my almost 3-year-old saw The Nutcracker for the first time and LOVED it! Everyone said she wouldn’t sit still and it was a bad idea…but they were WRONG. She was fascinated, thank goodness. I’m loving everything about this Christmas.

  123. Love it! (As always.) Can’t wait to try the soap recipe!

  124. love this. always great pictures. you capture everything beautifully.

  125. You know, very lovely post. Although I keep coming back only to look at the little cute boot. Have done it a few times. So odd. LOL. Merry Christmas!

  126. Kelle – I have to know, when you take your kids to the lake that you always show, arent you worried about alligators????

  127. Woah, I think that really is the real Santa! How awesome. The picture of Nella and Lainey on Santa’s lap after poor little sister almost in tears ended up bringing me to tears. I love seeing your life in pictures. Thank you for sharing!

  128. Don’t show Lainey of course, but thought you might find this amusing…

  129. I freakin’ love your blog. You capture everything in SUCH a neat way. You = the coolest momma eva’!!!!

  130. aw girl, you found a great looking Santa! I was shopping for maternity clothes last weekend and almost went to have MY picture taken with Santa. I never ever had and I am 27 years old. I didn’t.

    I also love the miniature Sorel boot :) I have a pair almost exactly like them! Me & my hubs are from MI and have been in Alaska for 5 years. We are driving back in just a few days (MOVING back!), and I haven’t told my mama yet. We’re going to surprise her. It’s going to be an awesome Christmas! I will say hell to Michigan for you.

    And it’s funny I have read several posts recently about Elf on the Shelf as Big Brother. So glad you sent him away when she hinted. You are such a good mama!

  131. Such brave girls snuggling up with Santa! My little ones still refuse…maybe one day!

  132. “Sometimes I have to tell myself I’m a mom” – I totally resonate with this. My kiddos are four and two and sometimes their growing up (yet still young and innocent) feels surreal.

  133. Love the pic of the girls with Santa :)

  134. I can totally identify with you saying that sometimes you still have to tell yourself your a mom. I do that, too. It took many shots and IVF to bring me my precious daughter. Because of that, I find myself becoming emotional, aka crying, at events only mom’s can, ballet recitals, doctor’s appointements, birthday parties…I can’t believe that I am finally a member of the Mom’s Club. Merry Christmas to you and your family. (P.S. I grew up in Naples and enjoy seeing all the pictures of the things you do around town.)

  135. Kelle your final thoughts perfectly expressed :’) I’m crying as I write this…
    Your beautiful pics of Park City, Utah… not this year my friend. NO SNOW!! It is strange. I have lived here my entire life and have never seen it like this. No skiing for Christmas.
    Merry Christmas & Happy Always! Hugs.

  136. I saw your picture of Park City from last year (where I live!) and thought about where I was last year; ready to pop with my first babe. So excited to spend Christmas with my precious girl!

  137. i LOVE gingerbread lattes at starbux. actually . soy. with 1 pump gingerbread.
    I LOVE my nephew and the way that he talks. he showed me a booger and told me to touch it. hes 2. nephews are the very best. he is the best thing i ever ever got. no more presents needed except more of that guy,.
    i LOVE my family. eating in the kitchen when we are all home. warm morning time stuff. i LOve my mom.
    i LOVE being in disguise. i am an artist but i work shifts at a bakery and i like thinking that people dont really know me. they have no idea who i am/ what i care about when they see me standing there at the bakery. some people are jerks when they order baked goods. and i like to smile. and they have no idea that im winning. soaking up their dumb… and actually rising above it.
    i LOVE my friends when they get together at my house and when they come in i literally LOVE to see them walk in and hug them seriously bc i am so thankful for friendships. bc i mean.that thing that happens when you “get” someone. its the best.
    i LOVE 1 billion things.
    oh. ill add on here that i currently look forward to reading Harry Potter nightly. yes. its a small love. but it makes me feel happier about getting in bed and seeing what happens to sweet little harry.

    also i love thinking about the possibilities for my future and remembering that i just have to ignore the people who make me feel like things are too hard or complicated.

    love YOU. xo.

    p.s. also i love ferris wheels. not riding them as much as looking at them/ eating a corndog by them.
    ( thats your favorite answer. sh. i know)

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