Raising Kids Together: Hallmark

This post is a Hallmark sponsored post. I am being paid by Hallmark to write it, but all writing, ideas and opinions are mine. Thankfully, Hallmark and I share the same idea–that little moments are to be celebrated and that good people, good efforts and good intentions deserve a spotlight. See Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion for more details, like them on Facebook, and/or sign up for their e-mail messages HERE.

We have this thing, Heidi and I. It’s a silly but needful ritual, and we both do it whenever we fly—a last minute phone call right before we take off, and it goes a little something like this:

“Plane leaves in five minutes, you know the drill, right?” I say.

Heidi reassures me. “Yes, yes, I know. You’ll be fine, you’ll have a safe flight, but if something happens, I have to run over to your house and clean it before any grievers show up. I know, I know.”

“And my kids?” I continue.

“Your kids are my kids,” she says. “They will forever be happy, and I will make sure of it. They will know how much you love them. You don’t ever have to worry about that. Now go order a Bloody Mary and read the Sky Mall catalogue. Call me when you land,” she’ll finish.

Your kids are my kids. It’s part of the village pact, an exaggerated statement perhaps because no one loves a baby like her own mama, but what an endearing phrase for a friend to hear. To know our most important job and our love for our most cherished gift in life—our kids—is shared with our friends and family.

As part of a group of contributing writers for Hallmark, we are often given helpful prompts and ideas for monthly themes. Many of these focus on the importance of correspondence—writing our friends and family and expressing our appreciation for what they bring to our lives (Have you seen the Tell Me commercial? Gets me every time).

These prompts are such good reminders, and considering the important role our friends and family assume by supporting us in loving our children, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make note of some of the most meaningful gestures our friends and family do—things they might not even notice—that make us stop and smile and thank our lucky stars that we’re doing this together. Mi casa su casa. Your kids are my kids.

Friends and Family,

You might not know how very much it means to us when you chase our kids down for hugs before you leave our house, but we notice.

How you create special nicknames for our girls—and they know these names are just between you and them. Like High Five for Lainey. Or Nelson Cornelius.

We love how when you play with our girls, you get right down on the floor with them even though your back will hurt the next day. You let them climb on your head and you pretend that picking shoes out for Polly Pocket is the most fun you’ve ever had.


Don’t think we didn’t notice when we came over your house that Nella’s birth announcement is still taped to your fridge next to that crayon drawing Lainey made you—the one with stick figures that says PGIPBBUKL. We think it means “I love you.”

When you come over for dinner, you probably don’t know that we talk about you when you leave. We noticed how you turned down a comfy seat at the adult table in exchange for squeezing in a pint size chair at the kid table. We saw your legs were turned all cock-eyed and your knees hit the edge, but we also saw how radiant Lainey’s smile beamed because you chose to share your dinner with her. You didn’t have to eat the macaroni, but you did.


We love the way you pick our kids up and squeeze them—how you’ve pulled them right from our own arms without even asking, since the day they were born, because you know we don’t care. You know we want them to love you and we’re thrilled to see them in your arms.


We smile when you grimace through Lainey’s hair brushing, and we love how you let her put your hair into fourteen ponytails. We think it’s even funnier when you forget to take them out.

When you ask Austyn how his classes are going, we hear you. When you come back a month later and remember that he’s interested in nutrition and you offer some connections to help him on his career path, we’re moved.

We see those notes you write for our kids on the chalkboard–even if we don’t notice them until a week after you were here.

And when we’re scared for the future or hesistant of the “what if,” truly you have no idea how loved we feel when you tell us that you will be there. That our kids will be okay. That no matter what we face in the coming years, we’re not alone.


It takes a village, and we are so glad you are a part of ours.

Because I am in love with rituals and ceremonies, my babies were welcomed to this earth with friends and family in a special beach celebration. Both girls were surrounded by their village when they were tiny and new, and I will never forget the feeling of community that encircled our family at those ceremonies. I recently found a printout of the words our friends and family said together at Nella’s celebration. Written by my dad and recited by those we love, they sum up the responsibility we all have in raising our children together:

As Nella’s family and friends, we accept our responsibility to assist her parents. As they provide Nella a loving home in which to grow, we will uphold her with our love and prayer, guide her with our counsel and example, and encourage her with our affirmation and embrace. We will be careful not to set limits for her dreams but always celebrate and applaud her every effort. Make us open to learn from Nella’s wonder while always reminding her of her worth.

We all have special things that stand out to us–little gestures our friends and family do for our kids that make us feel loved and special. What notable actions have you remembered that make you appreciate your village? Or do you do something that lets your friends and family know their kids are important? Hallmark and I would love to hear about more ways in which we can all fulfil our role in joining our friends and family to raise and love their children.

To see other Hallmark posts on this blog, click HERE.


Leave a Comment
  1. beautiful.

  2. so sweet. couldn’t have said it better myself!

  3. The picture in this post of Nella as an itty bitty baby made my heart smile!

  4. Oh, Kelle. As a village member to many, thank you. I am not yet blessed with munchkins of my own, but I love my friends’ kids hard. I am addicted to them–to their smells, to their dirty feet, to their laughter, to their hugs. I cherish that their parents, that my sweet friends, allow me to love them this way, allow me to be their Krissy.

    I was giving my dear friend and her husband their monthly date night (on me) last week. They came home while I was upstairs tucking their littles into bed. I came downstairs and we were chatting when their almost 4 year old came downstairs, walked right to me with his arms up and said, “I need cuddles.” I scooped him up and brought him upstairs where he stroked my hair and told me that he was going to dream about swimming with me that day.

    It is a gift to a baby and kid lover like me to have friends who say, “Our kids are your kids….”

  5. Well said. Both girls so little. Sweet baby Nella.

  6. One of these days I’m going to not cry while reading your blog. Thank you for sharing such beautiful comments.

  7. Today we finalized our adoption of our 6 year old son with 30 of our closest friends and family in the courtroom snapping photos, videos and crying happy tears. We celebrated at the park after with cupcakes, champagne, silly string, juice boxes and whoopee cushions(?) 😉 These friends have loved our boy with us since day one and we couldn’t be more thankful. This was the perfect day for me to read this post, thanks. Oh and I have a ritual with one of my best friends that includes the burning of our journals upon a sudden unexpected death, you may want to add that 😉

  8. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Thanks, Kelle. :)

  9. Lovely post. You know what I miss so much? Hallmark’s magazine that they used to put out… it was my absolute favourite! Maybe, since you have an “in”, you could pass along the message ;O)

  10. I could have written this verbatim. I love that my friends take mine on as their own. The hugs, snuggles, love, and parenting that they instill in my children…takes my breath away. I adore my friends, they *are* my family. Especially for an Army wife far away from family. Really helps!!

  11. Inspiring post as always! :) Love the pics! So thankful for the special people in our lives. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. I could always tell she was one of a kind. Always.

  13. Beautiful.

    As a nanny I sometimes want to say just want Heidi says to you before you take off. Though I am not their mom, I do care about them. And I love this because it describes all the things I love to do. When you are on the other end of these notes you really aren’t thinking one bit about how the parents will like what you do. You are just thinking about how much you love those gosh darn kids :)

  14. I love how you live and love…Is it really as good as you make it look?? I am trying to find balance in being a mother and being me too. You look like you just give all of you to your girls and your loves. I want to do that more with my two little loves. Why does the outside world and joneses in our lives have to put so many unsaid pressures on me. You inspire me. Thank you Kelle

  15. Kelle, this is lovely. But it makes me sad. I cannot think of one person in my children’s lives other than me and their dad who treats them like this. Their relatives remember their names (mostly) and usually send them birthday and Christmas presents, but as for loving them the way you write about – they have no one like that.
    And we so long for them to have that. But it’s not something you can force another person to do, even if they are a grandma.
    We don’t have a village to help raise our children. My husband and I are all there is.

  16. On of my favorite blog posts ever!! Beautiful :) You are very lucky to have such a wonderful village!!

  17. I am a mother of two adult kids now who no longer live at home. I have always loved children. I would babsit my nephew for weeks at a time when I first was married because I wanted to have a child so badly but my husband wasn’t ready. After my kids were grown, I made myself available for babysitting to young parents at my church. I never charged them because when my kids were young and we needed a sitter it was hard to come up with the money with only one income. I have since babysat for many children over the years. I am a grandmother now with 2 grandchildren of my own but I still am available for coworkers and friends with small children at no charge.

  18. tears. and ditto.

    love you. miss you.


  19. Awww great post. I wish I had even 1/4 of your village!

  20. Sob! I’m sending my bff over here to read this because it reminds me of us. She lives across the country but we have a daily phone ritual and we put our girls on to talk to “Auntie.” We’re flying to Maryland this fall so I can be there for the birth of my second god daughter and my husband can watch the big girls while Auntie’s in the hospital. My village is small but mighty : )

  21. This is so lovely. Thank you for sharing. My “village” consists of my family and my church family. I believe they would all drop anything to help me as I them.

  22. I never comment but I just had to after this post. So true, every word. I have a best friend who’s baby I love as my own too and would do anything for. And you’re right, anytime anyone spends with my son, I notice it all. Every little bit. Even when they think I don’t.
    Kelle- you put into words everything I think about. I love it!

  23. I never EVER EVER come away with anything but the most awesome inspiration and happiness from your site Miss Kelle — what a lot of goodness you put out into the world :)

  24. **tears**
    friends and family are the greatest of blessings.

  25. Oh I love this one! So grateful for friends who love my kid like their own… especially her godparents.

  26. You got me crying on this post!
    I need to thank my friends and family more for all the ways they embrace my girls.
    When anyone reads to my kids I’m delighted!

  27. I don’t have any children, but I’m the proudest aunt you’ve ever met, and I love the suggestion that all the love I give my niece means something to not only her, but also her mama. :)

  28. What a great post, I love it!
    This is my first time commenting….I found your blog via your book, which I bought, read, and enjoyed a few months ago now.
    Thanks for sharing your life with us!
    ~Shanda, wife & mom of 7


  29. so sweet 😀

  30. I’m all choked up after reading those sweet words. I appreciate so much the way our friends stop and listen to Adam talk as if the world was standing still, and although there is only time for chit-chat at each year’s Buddy Walk, just the presence of our village speaks volumes to me. Loved this post…love every post.

  31. <3 this post! My sister and I have the same agreement–anything happens to one of us, the other cleans house before anyone else shows up, and ditto for our kiddos.

    All those wonderful things you said about your friends….bless their hearts.

  32. I don’t have children, but this just brought tears to my eyes, thinking about what it will be like someday when all my friends and I make these promises to one another. Thanks, Kelle.

  33. absolutely beautiful post and absolutely beautiful that you know and appreciate how blessed you are to have the friends/family you have and how blessed they are to have you.

  34. Awesome post! I am lucky to have a village similar to yours (minus the beach location) that is there for the good times and bad. This post inspires me to write a blog for them, thanking them for being there thru the trials and joys of life. I love how grateful you are for your friends, your family, your beautiful girls, and the life you have been blessed with.

  35. Your Dad’s words did me in. Someone else commented on the goodness you give to the world, and it’s so true. I always come here with expectations to be uplifted and am never disappointed. Thank you, thank you for all your positive energy and honest reflections and for helping me stay tuned into this life.

  36. Totally crying right now…but in a good way. I really loved that.

  37. My teenage daughter has been volunteering at the zoo. She is passionate about animals and loves kids. As an elementary teacher, I love to hear her come home and talk about all her amazing students.
    On Monday, she was working with kindergartners. She came home talking about a little boy who knew so many facts about animals. She was reciting all his detailed facts, how excited he was to share and how much she loved working with him. At the end she added, “By the way, he has Down Syndrome.”
    I love that she was amazed by him and that the last fact she shared was DS.

  38. This comment is unrelated to today’s post, though the post was great. I can’t remember if it is in Bloom, or a blog post from a few months ago, but I recall a conversation you recounted with Brett talking about how he wanted Nella to be able to go out and walk around the neighbourhood by herself, and how it had been a big moment when the boys achieved that independence. Last night my husband and I were out for a walk in St. Paul, MN, and we stood waiting at a crosswalk. A young woman with downs syndrome joined us on the street corner and greeted us with a friendly “hello.” When the walk sign came on, I heard her tell herself she could go, and she happily continued walking by herself across the street and into the gas station on the other side of the street. I don’t know her story, but I immediately thought of you and wanted to share this little observation of independence and a simple but encouraging moment that I am sure you will enjoy some day in your future. I have been dragging out the last few pages of Bloom because I don’t want it to be over. I’m sure glad I have the blog to look forward to for a fun and upbeat view of the world.

  39. Thank you for the beautiful post today. I quite literally just finished posting on my own blog about what a crap day I was having. You help me remember what it means to be a good mom.

  40. This post literally made my heart burst with joy because I have a village of my own. My friends don’t have any children of their own, however they love and treat my son as one of theirs. Recently I had a friend track down an Elmo costume for my son’s birthday. Not only did she track it down, she picked it up and her boyfriend volunteered to be Elmo for the party so my husband didn’t miss anything. It was 100 degrees that day, but our friend never complained about the heat, just relished in his role of Elmo and all the happy smiles he brought to kids that day. I know that my friends love my son with all their hearts and one day I hope that I can repay them for all the wonderful love and joy they’ve brought to our lives by showering their future littles with all the love I have for them.

  41. Gorgeous, Kelle. You inspire in every way.

  42. kc,
    I love that Elmo story! Such a sweet sacrifice that man made for your family. Love that.

  43. Listen to the little people, you will learn a lot.
    Perfect post. Inspiring.

  44. As a parent of grown (and almost grown) daughters and aunt to many young nieces and a nephew, I “stalk” their facebooks and call parents attention to any “red flags,’ like underage drinking, boyfriends that might not be on the up and up, etc. My sisters and friends do the same for me and mine. lol It does take a village to spy on the teens. 😉

  45. This brought tears to my eyes. I feel the very same way about my best friends’ kids. I love them as is they are my own.

  46. Love this. And especially what your dad wrote for Nella’s blessing ceremony.

    My son was born premature at 25 weeks and every year on his birthday I feel the need to celebrate big, to invite the whole posse to come witness the miracle that is his life and vibrancy.

  47. Absolutely Beautiful!

  48. There is the family you are born with and the family you choose. Sometimes the one you get to choose is better than the one you were born into. When you find people you can love this fiercely don’t ever let go!! Another beautiful post! Thank you!

  49. great post!!! full of love!!!

  50. What an amazing friendship you have! Care to share any tricks of the trade to capturing such wonderful kinds of friends?

    I’m jealous of that Net of yours! : )

  51. Add me to the list of sobbers. I am a villager who isn’t yet married and doesn’t yet have children of her own. My best friend already knows to clean my house and throw out a specific box. I love her children more than I love anything, even her. :) I am an only child so I feel lucky to have such a wonderful “chosen family,” people who love me not because they have to but because they want to. How lucky am I to be able to give that back too? I cannot wait for the day that I will get to bring a new little one into the village.

  52. I hope that when I have kids, we can do some sort of ritual/ceremony commemorating their coming to this Earth and upholding their community. I find that to be completely lovely and meaningful…

  53. That picture of Heidi and Nella just brought tears to my eyes. Good tears.

  54. Hi kelle, what a lovely post….I am lucky too, I have a great village for my kids to grow up in. Everyone knows my daughter, she is so popular, everyone always calling out hello Matilda! And it was amazing when we adopted our little boy, the generosity and kindness of our community, and now everyone is monitoring his growth and milestones! Goodness he is getting bigger etc, everyone has something to say! How lucky we are to live in such good places with such good people, thanks for reminding me :-) (both my kids have DS so it is really special to me to have them so accepted by their communities) cheers, jenni

  55. thank you, from Italy, for you great words.

  56. beautiful, mama. i love how deeply you love.

  57. God bless, Kelle! How do you do it? You always move me to tears – good tears! Thank you for sharing. I want a circle of friends like you have . . . I need to start letting my girls know how much I love them.

  58. I live in a very small community where friends and family can sometimes be overbearing. But some friends and family were truly appreciated when I wasn’t well last month and just like that, they picked up my three boys, took them to their homes, played with them, fed them, bathed them, dressed them in their kids’ pyjamas and brought them to me ready for bed. To see your children being taken care of when you cannot do it yourself, makes life a lot less stressful. Lianna, Cyprus

  59. this made me cry this morning because i really don’t have that right now. i’ve had it before, but we’ve moved and that takes what seems like forever to rebuild. love your community and how you have a village…i hope you squeeze it tight girlie.

  60. I like to tell my sister that I know all of her stories…if something happens, her children will know her mothers because I know her. This is important to us becuase our dad died when we were 4 and 2, and we don’t remember him. The stories of his life are treasured, and knowing the stories of our lives will be told to our children eases something in our souls.

  61. What I gained most from this post is inspiration. I don’t have a village like you speak of, but I want to create one — for my daughter, for my husband and myself, and for other kids I hope we have.

    You are incredibly blessed to have an amazing village around you; to have people who love and care for you, unconditionally. I have no doubts that these people will contribute and already do contribute to helping you create an enriching, happy, and memorable childhood for your kids!

    Beautiful post, Kelle! I especially love the bond you share with Heidi. It’s so special and heartwarming. xo

  62. kelle ~ just precious…

  63. Love your blog! – I work for hallmark and just came back to my office after watching an emotional tribute to the folks at united way…another village. I have always felt that — My babies (12,9 & 7) are my heart and when you love them, you consequently find yourself a deeper place in my own heart. – Love those peeps!
    Thanks for sharing!

  64. This is beautiful.
    I am tearing up!

  65. I am one of seven kids and between us there are 19 (as of today – twin girls just about to arrive!) grandchildren, so we often refer to the clan as ‘the village’. I love that our boys have cousins that feel like brothers and sisters – they love each other to bits. Given I don’t have daughters, it’s lucky I have eight beautiful nieces. My favourite tradition is that one weekend a year, all the boys go away camping together and all the girls go and stay in a nice hotel 😉

    I love that photo of Heidi and Nella x

  66. Such a wonderful post and a beautiful reminder of how important our village is and how important it is to remind them of how much they are loved.

  67. Amen, sister. My bestie had my daughter for a sleepover last night with her girls and I didn’t bat an eye. She handed out the goodnight kisses all around and my daughter could not have felt more safe and loved. We love, share the triumphs and the challenges, we’re all in this together and that makes the ride so much better!

  68. so beautiful! and reading this makes me even more excited to welcome baby #1 in december and see him/her be loved by those that WE love!

  69. This post reminds me of a quote I recently came across by Mark Twain: “We–one and all–are merely what our training makes us; & in it all our world takes a hand.”

    I love that he said “our world,” not “the world” because we choose our children’s world for a long time, and that often makes all the difference. My husband and I have always said that our little William will change the people his siblings, cousins, and eventual nieces and nephews are going to be, for the better. So we need to set him up with a good world to begin with.

  70. I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy every time I read posts or see pics of you and Heidi. Makes my heart ache for a true “bestfriendship” like the two of you have. It’s so special and so precious. I literally got tears in my eyes seeing the pic of Heidi holding Nella. And the words recited by your friends and family for Nella gave me goosebumps. You have such an amazing circle. You are truly blessed. XO

  71. I haven’t been on your blog five minutes and I see you are an incredible beautiful person! LOVE!

  72. Kelle, Thought you might enjoy this article! Sending you blessings!


  73. THIS, to me, is one of the most beautiful, wonderful posts. Raising children knowing they’re surrounded by the love and support of more than just a parent or two is an enormous blessing, and it’s one I hope never to take for granted.

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