Mother’s Isle

Our beach at the Isles of Capri welcomed us yesterday, its skinny shore recently renovated with a line-up of new adirodacks in jelly bean hues that nicely compliment the kids’ swimsuits. Lime and lavender, melon and mint green, a great sea blue and my favorite–the yellow chairs, pulled to the front stage of knee-deep water.



Circling the colored chairs are red kayaks, walls painted yellow and trimmed in turquoise, a crayon box of colors represented in scattered beach toys, and a small community of sun-kissed children, darting from dock to shore in suits of blues and greens and loud purples. Together, it is quite a kaleidoscope of colors–an island buffet of happy hues, which happens to be exactly what I was craving for Mother’s Day.




Gulf water temperatures never drop as low as the Atlantic and, in Naples, you can damn near take a warm bath–a salty one–in August when swimming in the gulf offers little refreshment from hot and humid afternoons. But right now, the gulf is the perfect blend of inviting and adventurous. You can glide from knee-deep to waist-deep without holding your breath and yet, right when your brow is sweating and your legs are sticking to that lovely yellow chair, a trip to the water makes it all better.





Lainey and her Grandma Colleen

Because the beach is truly alive with the sound of music and Julie Andrews is one of a great many heroes, let me break it down for you Fraulein Maria style.

These are a Few of my Favorite Things (about our famous happy place):

By the way, I am singing this part. In a nightgown.

1. It’s a natural play pen. The beach is small, bordered by a dock, a cluster of mangroves, a stack of kayaks and Johnson’s Bay. There is no place for babies to wander off to but right here. No Nella chasing. No panicking because I can’t see blond pigtails in my peripheral vision.


2. Tide Changes. In the span of nine hours, the shore line will change–pushing forward while we pull chairs back and fetch floating shovels that have been swallowed up; and pulling back, revealing muddy puddles and dense sand that entertain the kids for hours. Nella flings wet sand.


3. Island Adventures. There’s one sidewalk that trails around the one main street on the Isles of Capri. When we’re feeling adventurous, we’ll leave the happy confines of our beach sanctuary and walk barefoot past the newspaper stands, past the marina, past the little bait shop with the live shrimp that jump out of their pool, past the vegetable stand with the rainbow umbrella–the one where the woman stands inside and says “ONLY VEGETABLES.” Even when you point out that there’s also fruit and a cooler of soda and a coffee pot in the back next to the inviting tables that, you swear, are for guests–she still firmly demands “ONLY VEGETABLES!” We found two treasures yesterday–well two if you count a graveyard of fly-ridden crab pots that reeked of dead fish a treasure. The other was a closed island mart–abandoned on a Sunday afternoon but practically rigged with a sign that said “Please Visit.” I mean, there were two chairs, a small table and a deck of cards just waiting for us. We Goldilocks-ed the place.


4. Island Initiations. For first-timers. (This includes newborns). I still haven’t perfected the initiation ritual in my mind which–not to get you excited–but involves some sort of chanting, a rain dance, some burning sage, a pelican feather, a shot of Jamaican rum, two conch shells, and the scales of a native fish. Until then, we say “Welcome to our happy place,” slap a dollar on a bar beam and take a picture for posterity’s sake.


Nella’s P.T. and O.T. and family joined us yesterday


‘Sup, Ivy? It’s your FIRST TIME to I.O.C.!


My friend Rebecca’s cutie husband, Ian (when a guy can hold a baby like that, I think we can all agree, he’s cute).

5. Heavy skies. They glide in like time lapse photography, sending us excitedly running to grab our bags and move camp to the tiki hut. On a perfect Sunday, this happens right after sunset, and the remainder of the evening is spent huddled around bar tables where we share drinks, wind down and brush sand off the babies.



There are more favorite things, of course, but I have to leave room in the song for when I jump off the bed, grab the curtains and decide to chop them up into little German rompers for my girls to wear next picnic.

The crazy part about Sundays at Isle of Capri? Going home is just as much a part of our enjoyable ritual as packing the car and getting there.


I usually hate endings. I’m a walking ad for Zoloft the day after Christmas holidays, and the last day of vacations might as well just be a wash because I’m so sad it’s over. But Sunday nights, after the perfect Isle of Capri day and right before the dreaded Monday? I’m actually cool with it. The wind-down is necessary and good. The drive home is quiet. We all process our memories in our own way, and as we arrive home and unpack, quickly bathing the kids and tucking their tan little bodies under sheets, I’m always ready to go to bed and start a new week. Maybe I’m just getting older–understanding that work and routine are just as important as fun and relaxation.



Either way, I appeciate them both. Fridays and Mondays…and all the in between.




Introducing new sponsor, Miss Mommy, an Australian shop offering a variety of handmade items, including antique necklaces, hand stamped jewelry, and leather wrap bracelets with a number of unique clasps to choose from.

I love the little elephant clasp on my Miss Mommy bracelet.


Shop owner, Nicole, is offering readers a 15% dicount off orders, using Code NELLA15.


I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day.



Leave a Comment
  1. We have a Sunday night dinner with friends and family. Backyard pizza oven, squirt gun fights, wine and home brews. It makes Monday almost bearable. The Rhodies and the lilacs are all going and makes Seattle look almost as colorful as Florida :)

  2. OK, how far is Isle of Capri from Naples? Because I think when we go to Naples, I really just want to go to IOC…

  3. Dude, both Nella’s and Lainey’s bathing suits are perfection. And i LOVE LOVE it when you use that pier in the background. High five!

  4. I would just love to spend a day on Isle of Capri. I picture it in my mind on days like today here in Norway when the rain poor down and it seems like a fall storm is hitting in May. Thank you for creating the image in my mind and I hope that one day I get to see Isle of Capri for real.

    Kristin Wenstob in Norway

  5. I miss living in Florida every time you post about the isles of capri. :)

  6. Aside from everything you wrote in this blog, what I noticed most–and maybe it’s only due to “where I’m at” in life–is how inviting you and your friends are. I love that. I hope that one day, when I’ve settled down and started to feel “home,” that I can be just as inviting to those that I love. By the way, your Isle of Capri posts are my favorite. Thank you for writing about nearly every visit! It’s as if I’m living vicariously through you [I need a vacation].

  7. All the years I lived in FL we didn’t visit the gulf… I’m totally thinking that we missed out big time!!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. I love that picture of you and Nella! Looks like a beach I’ll have to check out since I’m only about 45mins away from you :)

  9. Love the pops of colour, and those chairs! Perfect Mother’s Day. I admit I had a few moments of “I would have been” moments. But for the most part I was ok. I loved seeing Ivy’s 1st day at the beach on IG. You guys know how to celebrate and one day I will be sitting on a beach watching my own bub throwing sand and I’ll think of you and smile. Thanks Kelle

  10. Love those chairs and great to see an Aussie sponsor. Have a great week!

  11. These pictures really make me hope that we get stationed in FL at some point during this Air Force thing!

    This was my first sorta mothers day at 28 weeks pregnant! I can’t wait til next year! And I can’t wait to take my baby to a beach!

    And those curtains? The ones from the Sound of Music that she makes their clothes from? My parents have the exact same ones hanging in their house. They’ve been there since 1972ish. And they would be the most itchy and uncomfortable rompers ever!

  12. Wow — the older Nella gets the more I can see Lainey in her. Especially in that last picture. They are so freakin’ cute together I can hardly stand it!

  13. Oh, Dear Lord—those dimples and eyelashes.

  14. A perfect Mothers Day. The 2 close up’s of Nella Bean with her cowgirl hat….STUNNING!!! She truly is a little beauty!!!
    I’m loving the splashes of colour in this post & the magic that once again your IOC Posts bring :)
    Happy week Kelle.

  15. Those chairs!!! Absolutely perfect. They just say, “Hi, I’m the perfect beach chair. Come sit, dip your feet in the water, and read a good book. All day. While the sun beams down on you.” – Happy (belated) Mother’s Day! It looks like you had a great one. :)

  16. Just as I suspected. An absolutely perfect day.

  17. Like you, I had a fabulous Mother’s Day, surrounded by my kids and their kids. Love, love, LOVE the pictures of Nella in the little yellow straw hat! What a beauty she’s become!

  18. Oh that one of Nella asleep on you with her arm over yours? My 8 yr old “Little Bird” as we call her looks JUST LIKE THAT! Love that sleepy, ‘don’t-care-what-the-world-is-doing-right-now-I-just-want-to-sleep” look!

    Getting excited for our Skype session on the 22nd of this month!:) Can’t wait for my friends and me to ‘meet’ you!

    Glad you had a wonderful day — that place looks heavenly!

  19. Amazing photos Kelle, this really does seem like a lot of fun to me, great post.

  20. Kelle, I know that I will never be able to put into words as eloquently as you do, but your book had changed me – and I am only half way through it! My daughter, Kate, was born on August 9, 2007 at only 34 weeks and after a week long stay in LDR on bed rest. Needless to say her birth was scary and we were not sure what to expect. We were thrilled when she cried and was breathing on her own! They tool to the NICU and we enjoyed what we have come to call our “90 minutes of ignorant bliss”. After I had “recovered” enough to be moved we went immediately to the NICU to see our precious girl. We were relieved to see that she was breathing on her own and keeping her temp up – a big deal for a preemie! But we were about to be “hit by the bus” as you say. Doctors told us that she had some markers that were indicative of Down syndrome…and with that my world came tumbling down. Reading your account of Nella’s birth brought it all back like it was yesterday. My heart ached for you and your pain and brought my own pain back to the surface. You see I have been very good at pushing it down and not really dealing with it. Of course we have done everything that Kate has needed over the last 4 and 1/2 years – multiple therapies every week, orthotics, kinesio tape, glasses, blood tests, extra therapy after Early Intervention ended, even putting her on “the small bus” to go to school. But somehow I don’t think I have ever totally processed through it all. But the words that your sister so lovingly said to you in the hospital after Nella was born touched me in a way that nothing else has. Maybe I am in on the secret to true happiness and I just never knew it until now. I think that reading your book is going to help me change my outlook and not care so much what other people think or focus so much on how Kate is different than others. We are all different and that is what makes this world such a great adventure. I think that I am finally beginning to see that “perfeect” comes in all different forms…and my Kate is indeed perfect! Thank you so much for sharing your story and for helping to heal my heart!

    As an aside, Kate is drinking “tea” from her Beauty and the Beast Tea Set while dancing to the music from Wow Wow Wubbzy! Has anyone told you yet that the extra chromosome is the dancing chromosome? It sure is at our house!

    I so look forward to continuing to follow your blog and your beautiful family. And to finishing your book! Our Parent Support Group (a DS group) is doing a book club night in June on the book. Any time you find yourself in the Chicago area, come and visit with us…we would love to meet you!

    Amy Kaminski

  21. Wow, those close-up shots of Nella are amazing — she looks like she’s years older!

  22. Ever since i started reading your blog, i have been yearning to go to the i.o.c. Like, super-bad. Just to take pics of my kids there, too.

    I found out a few weeks ago that my hubs (who hasn’t really been on board for a trip to florida for who knows what reason) has been researching airplane ticket prices for us to go! Oh, how happy i will be to fly there, and i’m usually not thrilled to take the kids on planes (hello, trapped for hours with a potentially squirmy and screamy kid….).

    I love the new addition of the chairs on the beach… You are right, they do provide the perfect backdrop.

    As usual, i loved the post. Now i am yearning more intensely to go and slap my dollar bill down! :)

    Looks like you had a great weekend!! Happy belated mom’s day!

  23. Oh I really long for the day my husband holds our future babies the way Ian holds his baby.

    And I cannot believe how grown up Nella looks in those too close up pictures of her face! So so adorable and baby-like still, but also big girl-like!

  24. Happy Mother’s Day, Kelle! Looks like yours was perfect and relaxing like mine.

    Carrying sleeping babies is one of my favorite things! I love being the one to carry Arya in from the car and set her back to sleep in her crib. Feeling that heavy little head on my shoulder is the best!

    Yay for fun and routine. I’m right there with ya, sister! :)

  25. Love how limp and in perfect trust sweet Nella is in your arms. Looks like a magical place. And uh yeah that guy with the baby was too cute. I swear it was the baby accessory that made him hunkie;)

  26. Hi Kelle, Just wanted to wish you the best mother’s day ever. I received your book as a surprise gift from my two grown sons. They know I LOVE to read, write and I am a want to be photographer so they put those things together and came up with your book. I haven’t been able to put it down since. I am half way through it and I am in love with your story. What an amazing mother you are and what a beautiful family you have. I am in awe of your amazing circle of friends. May God bless everyone of you……..I guess he already has :) Many blessing :)

  27. Those pictures of you and Nella (smiling and sleeping) are to die for! So, so sweet.

    Where did you buy Nella’s swimsuit? I love it.

  28. Beautiful – looks like you had a ton of fun!

  29. So in love with the little corner dimples on the underside of Nella’s lips when she does her closed mouth smile!

    Isle of Capri. Must go on my bucket list.

    What’s our “Isle”? I know you didn’t ask, but I wanna tell ya anyway :). It would probably be Camp Spalding, 3 hours north from us. It only happens 2 times a year (family camp & women”s retreat), but I have the same feelings coming & going; exciting both ways. It’s located on a lake and tucked inside the mountains…..I swear, in the winter if there’s enough snow, it looks like the Swiss Alps! And family camp in August is packed with outdoor activities and a sandy beach & dock! Heaven (especially since I don’t have to cook or bring a single menu item!)

  30. I LOVE Nella’s bathing suit.

    Can I find one somewhere?

  31. This one made me excited for an upcoming weekend at the beach with our kids! This will be the first time I’m not chasing anyone (hopefully) and I’m looking forward to seeing the kids really play together. Love the pictures of Nella in that hat!!

  32. Okay, it’s like just in case I couldn’t love you anymore – you had to throw in my favorite musical of all time.

    I didn’t feel like smiling tonight (I have to get a root canal tomorrow and my mouth hurts) but now I’m smiling. Darn you and your yellow.

  33. I need a mini-holiday at the Isles of Capri. I hope my Zayn loves the Gulf this time! xx

  34. Your isle delivers…. gorgeous as always. And those close-ups of Nella?!? I see a glimpse of the young woman she will soon become.

  35. I have never been to Florida but I think the first time I do, it will have to be to the I.O.C.

  36. It’s not “infamous” if its your “happy place”…

  37. love this… feels like I’m there! :)

  38. Such sweet pictures and memories! I love the close-ups of Nella! She’s a beauty! :)

  39. i am going to put I. O. C. on my bucket list now- thanks to you :)

  40. Three things: I love your polka dot swim suit. I love nella’s cowboy hat. And this pregnant mama-to-be loved Bloom.. Good job! You are a fantastic mom and an inspiration.

  41. I still want to visit IOC one day! It just looks amazing! That picture of Nella flinging wet sand? The one one the right where her arm is straight? She’s is Lainey’s clone there! And girl can rock a cowgirl hat like no one’s business! Looks like you had a great Mama’s Day!

  42. Once again, glad to take a little vacay to the gulf with you as I sit and look at my mountain (inland) paradise. Happy Mother’s Day!!!

  43. Wow i wanna go now and love the last pix of you 3! Happy Mothers Day.

  44. I think your post just made it completely official everywhere…it’s SUMMER!!! WOO-HOOOOO! :) Nothing makes me happier than beach babies!

  45. Question about one of the pics in this post:

    In the picture where you’re looking under the dock at Lainey & a friend playing on the other side….what is that on the ground coming out of the water? Sort of looks like a big pipe of some kind, but I’m not sure. (And if it is a pipe, what is it for?? Being an east Texas girl who’s never lived near a beach, I’m clueless.)

  46. That close up picture of Nella in the straw hat…breathtaking! Her eyes are amazing!

  47. Nella looks SO grown up in the pictures with the straw hat on. Beautiful!

  48. Best. Post. Ever.

    Maybe you remember… I’m the girl whose bucket list includes BEING Maria in Salzburg with a friend who can handle that or who is willing to drink enough to be able to handle that.

    Thanks for the smiles!

  49. Oh, that Isle of Capri looks like a slice of Heaven. Love it.
    We are all set to settle into summer here. I love sand and water, popsicles, swim suits, baths and bed after a day in the sun and water. Don’t you love that dizzy feeling you get when you close your eyes after being out in it all day?
    The best!

  50. Lovely pictures!

  51. The little nap tent? Pure genius. Precious pic.

  52. Ali, Ha. thank you.

    Liz, it’s a fallen tree trunk, all covered in barnacles

    Teresa, yes! I do remember that–it made me laugh. :o) I would totally do that too.

  53. We had dinner at your fish house when we visited Marco Island in March. I totally wanted to stay too long and have one too many beers. What a cool place!

  54. Happy Mother’s Day Kelle! I can just imagine the sun and warm water :) Looking forward to our beach vacation in June in Delaware, but I know the water will still be cold!

  55. And the prize for best accessories goes to… Nella! She is looking so grown up. LOVE her in the cowboy hat and aviator sunnies!!

  56. love everything about this. i wish we could just hop on over to a beach — nearest one is about 6 hours away from us!

    I have to ask….where are your rings from? the ones in the same picture as the bracelet with the elephant charm? i absolutely love them!

    I am so encouraged by your words and can’t wait to read them throughout the week!


  57. I would just love to have a place like that to go to on Sundays! I mean, we have it good here, too. But that tiki hut, and the little beach, and the warm water and bright colours? Sigh. Just don’t have that here in this part of Ontario!
    Glad you had a lovely Mother’s Day, you deserve it!

  58. Hi !!!
    I love Your Web
    You Know
    You give me a Positive Energy …and
    emotions …
    I love Your Girls They’re So Nice …
    I’m Happy Find You …

    Have Great Days …

  59. Nella looks SO much like Lainey in the first of the two extreme close-ups near the end. WOW.

  60. Gorgeous! :)

  61. Happy Mothers Day to you, too!
    Never doubt that you’re a fabulous mama.

  62. Please, where o where did you find that beautiful colorful dress?????

  63. Beautiful pics….I love all the hats that your girls wear.

    Happy Mother’s Day!!


  64. That sounds like an absolutely wonderful Mother’s Day! Hope you have a great week.

  65. Looks like you had a wonderful Mother’s Day! Love Isle of Capri – wish I had my own near me:) So funny that you mention how you are growing to appreciate and accept work and routine instead of just relaxing and vacations, as I am going through that stage right now too. And, while I feel EXACTLY like you do the day after Christmas and on the last day of a vacation, I am starting to appreciate even the little things that are party of every day life. Guess that’s an integral part of becoming a contented person right? I just know that I want to appreciate every minute I’m given, as they are numbered!!! Thanks for sharing your Mothers Day with us. So lovely:)

  66. Good Lord Kelle~
    The “walking Ad for Zoloft the day after Christmas” has me giggling. what a perfect decription for me! I want you to know that your blog has inspired me to just stop and be in the moment with my kids or sometimes just myself. I am using my camera A LOT MORE to preserve those small things thatI sometimes forget to enjoy! Thank you!

  67. Kelle….LOVE the picture of Nella with the cowboy hat and shades! I enjoy reading your blog and see all the beautiful pictures you take! Have a GREAT week!

  68. Nella looks so grown up in the two pictures at the end! She is so beautiful. :)

  69. Love the book, love the post, and totally want to go to IOC! One tiny thing I have to point out though, as I’ve seen the Sound of Music a million times…the rompers would be Austrian, not German! Edelweiss, edelweiss…now I’ll have that song in my head all night!

  70. the vivid colors make the most! but I have to ask where the girls’ swimsuits came from…my two (4 and 2) are in desperate need of new for this year and the patterns/styles on your littles are adorable!

  71. Where did you get that adorable baby cowboy hat?

  72. Awwwww… this post. Makes me wanna hop a plane so damn bad! Love Nella slouchy sleeping ….my little guy does that to.

  73. I love the way you guys pull your chairs into the water, we just don’t do that in Australia ! Looks so civilised :-) And your water temps sound great, ours are freezing cold or pretty cold, but we still venture in…and I suspect we have more sharks too…
    And we are all covered in long sleeve rashies (you know UV swimmers) to protect from sun!
    Well it was our first cold winters day on Mothers day, and we spent it at the cafe at the beach, everyone looking longingly at the waves, thinking of going home and chopping wood for the fires.
    Looks like you had a lovely day, you deserve it Kelle.

  74. OH! I am going to be in the area in August, when we drop my son off at Eckerd in St. Petersburg…now I know where I shall spend the day when the rest of the family goes scuba diving.

  75. happy mother’s day to probably the most amazing mama I can think of, besides my own :) beautiful photos and both girls are growing up so fast and are so gorgeous! I can’t help but wonder if you’re famous enough for people to wander the IOC on sundays hoping to meet you…..? I think I might one day :) love to you~

  76. Happy Mother’s Day to the most inspirational Mom of the year…….Thank you for the constant encouragement to put some FUN in each day.


  77. Kelle,
    I have only been reading a short time, but am grateful to read your posts. My husband and I honeymooned in Naples 7 years ago, and often talk about going back. Now it seems we’ll need to add IOC to our travel plans! Thanks for giving glimpses of the times you spend in this place! :) and, btw, Nella and Lainey…those girls have stolen my heart! The pics of them together just oooze love and the obvious bond they share… stunningly beautiful, expressive, JOYFUL faces and personality that is literally tangible through your lens!

  78. Happy Mother’s Day!!! After reading your book I just had to get it for my mom and mother-in-law for Mother’s Day. I’m sure they will enjoy it as much as I did. Nella is looking like such a big girl in this post. Cute, cute!!

  79. Kelle~ I don’t often post…but I read and look forward to your posts with a hot cup of coffee in hand usually when noone else is home so I will be uninterrupted!!!
    Anyways, SOUND OF MUSIC in a post! Can life get any better? Two of my favourite things collided in this post;)
    Happy Belated Mother’s Day!!!

  80. Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!
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  81. Kelle,

    that first photo is lovely! I love the variety of colored chairs. Yesterday, I finished reading your book and was truly touched. I just haddddd to look up your blog and follow 😉

    I hope your Mother’s Day was lovely.

  82. I love the beach and miss it dearly. What a treat it was to feel like I went to the IOC with your post. Thanks! Love it and Nella was so cute in the hat and sunglasses.

  83. Ahh, as if the pictures of Isle of Capri could get any happier, but those brightly colored chairs sure do make my smile brigger as I view the pictures.
    and nella’s suit (and hat, OMG) how cute!

  84. I. WANT. YOUR. BATHING. SUIT. haha :)
    Happy Mothers Day! XOXO

  85. Oh my, that close-up photo of Nella in a hat… she looks so incredibly grown up! She is becoming a beautiful little girl <3

  86. I came back to this post to show my husband – just look at this IOC honey! The place looks so fabulous. Sure you don’t work for the tourist board or something ? (if you don’t then you should…)

  87. Hey Kelle, I just wanted to let you know, even though you probably already do, how stinkin’ adorable your little girls are. I mean at first I thought about how much they looked like you. But now that they are getting older they have those looks that look just like Brett. I’m just a big sister with little ideas, but ya, your girls are stinkin’ adorable!!

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