Weekend: She ate cake.

Want the satisfaction of feeling all adventurous-go-get-’em without really having to go get ’em? Make a bucket list of very doable things and then do them. Cross them off your list with a big fat red marker just for the heck of it.

Eat day-old birthday cake using my hands for a plate. Check.
Brush my teeth with Dora bubble gum toothpaste. Check.
Do a crappy job painting my toenails and don’t bother to clean up the smudges. Check, check.

Ooooh, look at me, I’m knockin’ off my bucket list.

‘Tis true, there are cake crumbs, a bubble gum after taste and a pedicure that looks like I painted my toes with a blindfold. I ran out of polish remover. Thankfully, I’m headed to a closed toe shoe region later this week.


Our weekend was quiet and homey, just the way it’s supposed to be.


Brett and I cleaned the house together yesterday, making trades like “I’ll do the kitchen if you do the bathroom.” It all came together swimmingly for a perfect evening of family and celebrating two very special years.


I didn’t even notice when 4:24 p.m. slipped by. We were busy, happy, making cake.


I started shoving candles into her cake and convinced myself that more candles represented more love. So I used the whole box and lit that muthah on fire.


Brett practiced blowing out candles with her all day yesterday so that by the time her moment was up, Sister took a bow.


Three out of four sets of grandparents (ah, the one bonus of divorce) allowed for a more harmonious chorus of “Happy Birthday,” and oh, did it feel wonderful to have a house full.

Right before bed, Heidi said “I love you” to Nella, and you know what my girl said back? “Love you.” We reacted appropriately. Like maybe we fell off the couch.


I am feeling content today. Exactly where I’m supposed to be–over my funk, productive, reflective, slow and steady.


For all the times I write about an imbalance–feeling too busy, uninspired, a creative bang, a high, a low, a when’s-it-going-to-iron-out–it’s assuring to know, there is a rhythm to all of it. Right now, in this tiny moment of time, work and family feel so appropriately melded. I feel both inspired and at peace; motivated and content; excited and calm; and even if that balance shifts tomorrow, its presence right now is enough to remind me, it works out. Ebb and Flow, Shift and Settle.


For the first time since before kids, I’m traveling alone this week. Two nights without babies. While I am expecting a smidge of chest-constricting angst as I board a plane solo, I am surprisingly at peace, knowing this is good for all of us, and my babies will be well taken care of.


Bucket List #148: Take a trip to the big city…alone.

Lainey’s Chinese Dragon tee, Happy Family


Our new sponsor has a very generous offer for us this week. I am delighted to introduce Happy Family, a shop you’ll find very useful if stylin’ it up with more color and character is on your bucket list.

I posted this picture on Instagram (@etst) this week and received several requests for the t-shirt source:


Word: Happy Family. Stocked with hand screen printed tees, messenger bags, potholders and totes, Happy Family has fun, conversation-sparking goods for men, women, children and babies.

Nella’s birthday tee:


..and my funky camera tee:


Happy Family is donating 20% of all their proceeds this week to Nella’s 2 for 2 Fund–an even better reason to shop! Please mention Nella’s 2 for 2 Fund in the seller notes.

Happy Shopping!


We are almost only $10,000 away from our goal of $200,000 raised for the NDSS for Nella’s second birthday. 2 for 2 will continue until Nella’s Tea for Two party next month. It’s not too late to share, to give, to continue the efforts of many…to make a difference. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to support our community.


Wednesday’s post might look a little something like this, sans sweet baby along for the ride.



Leave a Comment
  1. Happy birthday dear Nella! Glad to hear she had a great birthday with lots of people who love her. :)

  2. Have fun in the big apple! Time will fly, no worries.

    We’re moving to NY in the summer. Goodness. We visited last month to look at apartments and check out neighborhoods. I love Manhattan but living there doesn’t seem to be for us (think: rent, school…). We’re headed for the burbs!

    Happy Birthday to Nella once more and have a safe trip!

  3. Early commenter, yay!

    Love the pics, Kelle, looks like a special day…. who doesn’t love balloons on their birthday? ;o)

  4. Looks like the best birthday ever for such a beautiful girl. If God put her on this earth just so she could experience having you for a mother, and her for a daughter, from my view point, it would be reason enough.

  5. Beautiful and lovely. Enjoy your trip. You’ll do great.


  6. Love it all…as always!

  7. Happy Birthday Nella…”Tea for Two”…I can hardly wait to see the pics from this fantastic event. Too fun. Enjoy NY. I love it there. Definitely want to go back someday. As always, I so relate to your post. Cheers!

  8. Tea for Two! That’s the same theme I am doing for Aliza’s party! Which is appropriate since she’s met baby Nella 😉

  9. Happy Birthday Nella!!! :)

    …hope you have a fantastic trip on your own.

  10. Happy Birthday Sweet Nella!!! I do have to admit that Laney stole the show by putting your dog in the shopping cart. I couldn’t stop giggling! hehee! so cute!

    – jen
    walls.jennifer1 at gmail (d0t) com

  11. Kelle! I’d love to see you in NY!! Be in touch if you have time chanale@hotmail.com!

  12. Man, you are doing it, you know? You are such a fantastic mom, those girls are just gorgeous.

    And loved.

    Happy Birthday, Nella.

  13. Happy Birthday, Sweet Nella!! Looks like you had the perfect day!! The kind you all so much deserve!
    So proud of Nella for being able to say “Love you”! That’s awesome!
    Here’s to another happy, adventure and love filled year!!

  14. Happy birthday! So adorable. It looks like you all had a great time! I really like the shots with the gallons, it sort of look like Nella was going to lift off! :)

    Keep rocking!

  15. Have a great trip! :)

  16. What a wonderful b-day för gorgeous Nella! Lovely photos :-)

    I’ll have to read it later – have a hard meeting waiting today, that does make my tummy ache a little…
    Will have this as a treat after <3

  17. just beautiful! saying love you to heidi…aww..melt my heart!

  18. dude. totally diggin the camera tee! might have to get one now.

    happy birthday sweet nella! you and lily are growin up so fast…STOP! 😉

  19. Aaawww. Loved your night…especially the fact that 4:24 slipped sweetly by 😉

    I sense your peace and actually feel a bit of relief for you myself.

    Have a fun trip and I loooove (sang in opera voice) your camera tee!

    Blessings, blessings, & more blessings to you!

  20. those shirts are awesome and her birthday seemed sweet! and a precious “love you” is to die for!

  21. Hello Kelle! I am writing you from Italy and I am thinking to buy the “All good things are wild and free” tee, but I am not sure about the size.. I am quite thin.. how is this tee fitting? I mean, do you think a S size is really a S size?
    Thank you in advance! Silvy

  22. That cake is out of this world- loving the look of that frosting. How sweet of Nella to say that to Heidi. The look on her face is so cool, like yeah I know what to say! Can’t wait to see what NY has in store for you.

  23. Beautiful <3 I needed this today after a very difficult day here in Birmingham, AL. Much devastation after 4 am tornados ripped through the areas where I’ve spent my whole life. Many friends homeless tonight, but still whole and together. So much to be thankful for!

  24. Hi ! First, thank you for what you do !!
    After, did you know this: in Europe, the scientific research is moving also! And the Lejeune foundation (Dr Lejeune is the one who has discovered the 3rd chromosome) has found a family of molecules which inhibited the action of one gene that is at the origin of the intellectual retardation.
    (really hope you can understand a bit French…if not, let me know I’ll try to translate)
    A huge hope for our babies!
    I’m the mother of a little girl born with ds. Big surprise! She s 18 month now, she’s just beautiful and just as your little one she has a big sister who is almost 4 years. In my country, Belgium, nobody let you think that there is just a little hope for a baby born with such a illness (chosen words) . But we know now that Gladys, just as her big sister, will be happy and free! Thanks to share your story.

  25. Feeling the warm fuzzies for you all, Happy Bday Miss Nella xx All the way from (shouldbesunnybutitspouringwithrain) Australia xoxoxo

  26. Sweet Love :*
    I Love It!!!

  27. I know I would have anxiety about leaving my little people, but my bucket list simply includes a night alone in a hotel…heck, I don’t care if it’s down the street. Enjoy the Big Apple!!

  28. Happy Birthday, little Nella Bella. I can’t believe I’ve been reading about your adventures for two years already!

  29. Have a wonderful trip, live it up! LOVE Nella with the cake. Love. And I love the new sponsor… Might need to go shopping!

  30. How nice to start my morning with a post from you! I LOVE the red & cream sweater you wore in the driveway pics! So cool! Happy birthday, Sweet Nella (who now says “Love you”). Have a blast in the city!! So jealous!!

  31. I love your blog. I’ve told you that so many times. But today I realized one more reason I read it. So many times I feel so rejeuvanated (spelling is doubtful!) when I get ready to move on. I feel like there really is so much love in the world that all we need to do is reach out and grab a little. You’re the best!

  32. Looks like little Nella (and your entire family) had a fantastic 2nd birthday!!!! Good luck traveling in the big city!! Live it up and be fabulous!!

    -Simply Shelley

  33. Happy birthday to a beautiful little girl!!! It looked like she had a great day!

  34. So glad to hear that the ebb and flow has recentered again and that you had a perfect homey weekend to celebrate your girl.

    Have fun in NYC–we just moved here 3 weeks ago and still feel like tourists.

  35. If you mean “New york” by “Big City”, I will just have to come and meet you, please, may I?

  36. Enjoy your 1st trip alone! I had my 1st alone trip and it was spectacular! I missed them but most of all I loved my time just being me. And the best part is instead of the “I don’t want to leave my super sweet vacay” turns into dying to see your babies. Perfect mix.

  37. Happy Birthday to Nella!! It looked like the perfect birthday party!!

  38. Happy Birthday sweet Nella!!!!

  39. I had to let you know the minute I saw your camera t-shirt I knew I had to have it so I just ordered it! Happy birthday to Nella!

  40. I LOVE your bucket list. I must take a few minutes and make one that is similar and doable! :-)

    And, can I just share that I am so jealous of your NYC time coming up? I can’t wait to hear about it from a momma’s “alone” point of view. My mom is kidnapping my sister and I in May for an NYC trip sans children. It will be my first weekend alone in FIVE years. FIVE!!!! I really don’t know what I’m going to do with myself!

    And, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Nella girl!!! I am so in love with you and your family. You continue to inspire and amaze this burnt-out, wanting-to-be-more-and-better momma.

    Thank you.

  41. Those pigtails are coming right along. I love having seen their progression.

    Relax (as much as you can) in the city and enjoy. The hugs when you return will be so worth it.

  42. Just ordered a purple dinosaur t-shirt for my girl (who just turned 2 a few months ago)! She is going to love it! Happy to support Nella’s 2 for 2.

  43. She said “love you” on her birthday? How cute and special is that?

    I love her blowing out the candles. And this only reminds me that Brigham will be blowing out candles for his 2nd birthday in 3 short months. How does it happen? The time slipping away . . .

    p.s. Totally random . . . followed a link down below to an old post and realized we wore the same wedding dress!

  44. I had to laugh when I noticed that your windows are open. I would totally expect that from you! :) All the windows in our house are painted shut, so I’ve never been able to open them. I’m sure if YOU lived in our house, though, you would have long since figured out a way to get them open. 😉

  45. What a journey this has been. I met Nella two years ago, and I too have experienced such an enlightening change since then. After each post when you share your life with me, I see my children through new eyes. Thank you for bringing me along.

  46. Family parties are the best, less stress and more laid back. Your party looked great. Loved Nella blowing out the candles. Reminded me of the hours I spent teaching my kids how to blow with bubbles, candles, party horns, whistles……………

  47. I love you socks. I love how the boys are hovering over Nella in her highchair as she blows out her candle.

  48. A perfect way to celebrate an amazing lil tyke. I adore your kiddos. I adore you. Cheers to ebb and flow.

  49. happy belated birthday nella

  50. Kelle, I love your easy bucket list idea. Talk about instant gratification in a good way…

  51. sounds like the perfect way to celebrate a special girl’s second birthday :)

    have a safe trip to NYC, can’t wait to see your photos!!

  52. ~*Happy Birthday*~ Sweet Nella!

    My little one will be 2 next month and my little Chinese Emperor will be 5 on the 29th but sadly he’s still in China so this is the last birthday he has to celebrate alone! Hopefully, in a few months he’ll be in my arms!

    We’re working hard to bring our two Chinese blessings home and it certainly isn’t cheap to have children by birth or adoption!

    Many prayers that you make the fundraising goal! That is an awesome task!

  53. Happy Birthday, Nella! I am proud to be one of your momma’s fans so I get to be part of the rally behind Y-O-U and all the amazing people with deisgner genes. High-fives from NC! E

  54. I am a huge fan of writing things down just to check them off. Although, I’ve been calling it a to-do list, and Bucket List sounds so much more appealing and important, so I shall start labeling it that (and yes, I do label my lists…some call it anal, I call it satisfying).
    Happy Tuesday!

  55. Super duper cute! Her cake was beautiful with all of the candles :)

  56. i love that Brett practiced with Nella. that’s just awesome. and i was going to say how much i loved your camera shirt even before you mentioned the sponsoring!

  57. Happy Birthday sweet baby girl. I love to close intimate birthday w/ family and close friends you had.
    Love your shirt too..must get me one after baby #3 is born :o)

  58. Looks like a lovely weekend- just how mine was. And I love the Happy Family shirts, I just might have to do some shopping later :)

  59. How cute, and i wish her many healthy and happy birthdays to come. Richard

  60. safe travels…wish it was to virginia;) i could feel the love in that room – happy birthday sweet girl.

  61. Where did you get Nella’s dress with the crocheted (?) top???

    So cute – you can tell she’s sipping her tea!

    Have fun traveling solo! You’ll rock it.

  62. Hello! What a beautiful second birthday she had! If you haven’t seen this yet, you should take a look at this beautiful display of sibling love. I hope the link works!


  63. Happy Birthday Nella, and happy “birth” day to you Kelle. And thank you for posting to the site for your t-shirt, I was going to ask about that. I’m a photographer in California and for the months of February and March will be donating 15% of all proceeds to Nella’s 2for2.

  64. Happy Birthday sweet Nella!
    I hope your birthday was as wonderful as you make my heart feel! 😀 <3

  65. I’m trying to find the words to write this comment in my head w/out sounding like a creepo stalker so just take my word for it. I mean this in the best, non-stalkerish, kind of way. I’ve been reading your blog since I was pregnant w/my son, Bennett, who is also 2 now :) and feel as though I know your girls as well as my friends kiddos. I am so unbelievably happy for Nella at this moment. I literally started crying when I read she had said “love you!” My husband gave me a weird look like uh…you ok babe? Just wanted to let you know that us here in the Midwest are celebrating w/you too.

  66. As always, a great post. Happy birthday to your sweet baby girl. I can’t wait to read more. I’d love the chance to meet you one day on one of your trips to the Apple since I live here. (I’m gonna keep saying it because I’m not going to give up) :)

  67. Kelle, you inspire me. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself here. And happy birthday to sweet Nella!!

  68. What a sweet family party. Happy birthday Nella! Love the T-Shirts, must get myself some! Seems like we are switching places this week, while you fly to my NYC, I’ll be flying to Florida. Bring something warm girlfriend!

  69. Are you weaning Miss Nella? I see you’re leaving her for a week…I just weaned 15 month old Carter…has NOT been easy…10 days so far. Shoulda gone on a vacation!

    And your comment on how it always works out, ebb and flow, shift and settle….well, thank you. I needed that. Hubby has a “meeting” at work tomorrow-90% sure he will be terminated from his well providing job. But, it will work out, we will settle in to this new adjustment. Everything happens for a reason.

    And a very big happy birthday again to Nella! 2nd birthdays are my fav! xo

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. Feeling the family LOVE in those birthday celebration photos..what a blessing for ALL!!
    Loving little Ms. Nella’s BIG girl curly pony tails in the photo with her birthday tee on :)
    Gotta get myself one of those funky camera tees for moi!!
    And that look Nella is giving Heidi… “oh ya girlfriend, it’s no joke, I said it alright… ’cause i love ya!!” super cute!!
    Happy, safe travels to the BIG city sans your sweet babe!


  72. Happy 2nd Birthday Nella!!

    I just pre-ordered Bloom and can’t wait to get it in the mail! :) love you Kelle!

    Rosa :)

  73. I know it’s a bit late but HAPPY BIRTHDAY NELLA!!
    You can feel the love, it must have been a great birthday party:)
    Have a great trip Kelle!

  74. Did you take this directly from me? I swear that this was my weekend.
    “Eat day-old birthday cake using my hands for a plate. Check. Brush my teeth with Dora bubble gum toothpaste. Check.”

  75. The one where Nella is blowing out the candle is absolutely precious! :)

  76. Birthday wishes from us to you.

    Tammy and Parker
    @ParkerMama on Twitter

  77. Happy birthday TODDLER girl!!! :)

  78. Aww.. Happy Birthday! My daughter’s 2 yr. birthday was Friday. It looks from the pics that you guys kept it simple like us with close family/friends that love her best. Blessings!

  79. Happy Birthday to sweet, pure little Nella. Congrats on raising two such beautiful girls. Pat yourself on the back, friend. You deserve it.

  80. Love that last photo of Brett and Nella. He is such a good daddy and you can tell how content and safe Nella looks in his arms. So sweet! Safe travels to the big city!

  81. Happy Birthday Nella!
    I like your easy bucket list idea. So fulfilling to scratch things of a list, but there always seem to be more non-scratched off things. (maybe I should just start by shortening my lists).
    Enjoy your trip to the big city.

  82. Great picture of your daughter and the cell phone with her in it! I love it!!

  83. Happy Happy Birthday!! Love the picture of her blowing out the candle, the close up one!!!! So darn cute!~~

  84. AHHHHHHH I love the camera tee!!!!! Happy Birthday Nella Bella!!!!!

  85. I love Nella’s “nbd” expression in the photo with Heidi. Priceless!

  86. your girl is adorable and your life is inspiring! thank you for sharing so much of your family – celebrating Nella with you today!

  87. Have you checked out littleblueboo.com ? Another amazing mommy like yourself!

  88. Just put in a donation that set your goal to$10,000 more to go! Sorry I couldnt give more though. Happy Birthday Nella!

  89. I love that you put all the candles in the cake.

  90. Kelle,

    I so admire you and your strength. I truly look up to you.

    My family could use your prayers right now. My cousin was just diagnosed with stage 4
    cancer. If anyone wants to know a little more about Heather and her prayer request you can visit:


    Please keep Heather and her family in your prayers.

    God Bless

  91. So excited that your bucket list continues to get checked off : ) Beautiful.

  92. Happy Birthday to your gorgoeus Baby Girl, how time goes so quickly. She is growing to be the Perfect little Sweet heart. You are a beautiful writer and photographer and I hope one day I write a blog as gorgeous as yours.

  93. http://pinterest.com/pin/203647214369997958/

    thought you would like this image i found on pinterest dot com. “friends don’t count chrmosones”. :)

  94. Happy belated birthday, Nella! I am just catching up on my favourite blog after months of being away. Yeah–you are two!! :)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>