Together. Happy.

Some Friday evenings feel more deserved than others, and tonight feels good. I just pulled the elastic from the tight bun I’ve been wearing all day, and the week’s stresses fell with my hair. Soft waves, slightly damp but free. And since beer and coffee and the occasional refreshment of a Salty Dog are off the list (they all sound gross right now anyhow), I’ve restablished the art of the Cup of Tea. Yes, it’s capitalized because it’s very, very proper. Tonight it’s chamomile, piping hot, in a skinny tall mug that fits perfectly in the palm of my hand.

It was a text all call this morning for a let’s-blow-this-popsicle-stand. I didn’t feel fantastic, but I had to get out. And so did everyone else. So five mamas, a mini van, three cars, ten kids and one stroller set out for a day.

Nella’s really mad at Lainey for trying to headlock her in place for the photo

So she ran to Heidi and tattled (…and those “Positively Peaceful” windows…yeah, ya like that?)

Let me tell you what five mamas and ten kids out and about on a hot day looks like.

First, consider the location–Tin City, this electic, colorful collection of old tourist shops in tin-roofed buildings stretched along a boardwalk on the Naples Bay. There’s a narrow brick walkway inside and a nice smattering of shell shops, t-shirt joints, a fantastic homemade soap store, a candy shop with barrels of taffy and swirled rainbow lolipops and a few restaurants, one of which serves the best Greek salad this side of–well, Greece. And when you add our crew, it looks like a daycare stampede. It looks a little bit like a zoo without cages. Actually, it looks fantastic.


Lunch was awesome. Like eighty-six trips up to the cash register to order then add a water, add a fork, add some napkins, add an ice cream cone. And gawkers who stared in pity at the moms who wiped up messes and bent down to pick up the broken crayons and then stood back up to separate kids and put a lid on that drink and cut the food and wipe the ketchup off the bun.

Sprawled out across the tables were coloring books and cups, wadded napkins and a billion grains of salt that maybe spilled from a knocked-down shaker or perhaps–and more likely–were intentionally scattered for entertainment.


And while they ate and colored and discretely made salt snow storms, the mamas told stories and passed Ivy from one lap to another and declared these were the best Greek salads we’d ever eaten.



Perhaps numb from heat and a bit high on pungent feta, we made the decision to keep going. In the heat. With ice-cream wired kids. Twenty little feet scuffed their sandals and tripped on flip-flops across the wooden planks of the dock as mamas licked the salty sweat that beaded above our lips and drained our water bottles. Our kids were together and happy and, despite our discomfort, a unanimous satisfaction for those two qualities was unspoken yet present for all of us. Together. Happy.









The last of the ice cream buzz was worn off at the park where the parched woodchip floor was anything but comfortable but suitable for a place to finally sit down in the heat and watch the kids.



They chased each other in the spray of fountain mist, pushed each other on swings and yes, needed to be reminded of kindness and love. My friends and I talked about meltdowns and how we deal, what we’re good at in parenthood and how we struggle too. We have our moments, our kids have theirs.

It’s good that days aren’t perfect. It’s good that parenting is hard. Because it makes it even more important–this privilege of raising little human beings, of fiercely loving them, of learning more every day how to teach kindness, respect and responsibility.


Today wasn’t perfect by any means (although the salad was). But knowing this window of playdates and ice cream and coloring books on restaurant tables is small and fleeting makes me love it even more.

A little salt on tables? Pshaw.

We are together. And we are happy.



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 (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you care to follow the feed.

And your #enjoyingthesmallthings photos. (If you use Instagram and have a photo that makes you happy, share it by using the hashtag #enjoyingthesmallthings. Yours may be chosen to be shared in a Friday post.)



New sponsor, Allison MacPhail Photography, is offering a photography workshop in Montecito, California this November just for moms. If you’re interested in taking better photos of your children and learning more about your camera and editing, Allison’s 2-day workshop will cover all the basics.


The bonus? It all takes place at a beautiful beachfront home.


For more details or to register, visit Allison MacPhail Photography.


Leave a Comment
  1. Love all the pictures of the kids – good buddies and great mommies unite!!

  2. Looks like you all had fun! And your girls, too precious! How sweet.

  3. lOVE this! The first two photos, darling (except headlocks aren’t nice, poor Nella!) I can’t believe how big Ivy is getting! xx

  4. Oh my good heavens. I love that baby. LOVE her hair. What a sweetie! I also love Nella crying in the midst of all the happy children. That picture is fantastic.

    I didn’t know you couldn’t have coffee when you are pregnant. Oh my goodness. OH MY GOODNESS! Maybe I should rethink wanting a baby so badly. I don’t know how I could get through a day without it : (

  5. Such wonderful pics and memories to treasure always… for you mommies and for the kids. I love Lainey’s dress… just adorable.

  6. I have to say, you have the best writing I have ever read. Just beautiful in every way.

    My husband and I lived in Naples for 6 months.. you make me miss it daily :)

  7. Beautiful pics! My instagram pics look pitiful compared to yours, lol!

  8. those attempted group shots remind me of the ones we just tried at a camping birthday party. The attempts were better than our final picture LOL!! Poor Nella :)

  9. Dude. Your life, your friends-I love how you make the most out of it all.

  10. lol – I wish I had seen that “peaceful” window when we were there. That would have been the only thing “positively peaceful” about me!

    You look great, and I hope you feel a little bit better every day!

  11. My favorite photo is the one where Nella is tattling and Lainey looks like she is plugging her ears. Oh, I laughed out LOUD on that one!!!

    Mine are 21 and tomorrow my Brenna is 18.

    Shoot. Where did the days go when all 17 of the neighbor kids would line up at the ice cream man’s truck and then all sit on the curb and be covered in blue, green, red and orange??

    enjoy the days.

  12. There is strength in numbers…:) Nothing like spending the day with other mamas.:) Thank you for sharing. I love your pictures and honesty AND positivity.

  13. This post was Perfect… My sister and I do lots of things together. Two adults and 6 kids. I LOVE IT! Wouldnt change a thing. Kids just make me happy and at the end of the day all the struggels go away thinking about the smiles and happy faces.
    Thank you for the post, just made me feel great and happy.

  14. Lol I’m cracking up at the one where Nella is crying and everyone is looking at her like what the heck. Then she’s happy as a clam to be telling on Lainey. I so wish I could have been a spectator with all you and the kids there… adorable you all must have been!

  15. Lol I’m cracking up at the one where Nella is crying and everyone is looking at her like what the heck. Then she’s happy as a clam to be telling on Lainey. I so wish I could have been a spectator with all you and the kids there… adorable you all must have been!

  16. Your writing is poetry tonight. Your bump looks like my tummy on any given day. Wish I could blame it on a wee one;)

  17. Love those kinda days, making memories with friends. Hot, crazy, beautiful. Happy weekend x

  18. LOVE that picture of Nell and Heidi. So real life right there!

  19. Your life rocks.
    In my next life (if I believed in that kind of thing), I want you to me my mama. ♥ Your girls and that sweet new baby on its way are so blessed.

  20. Such cute pics!!
    We love Tin City! My husband is from Naples and we go back to visit once a year. We were just there during Tropical Storm Debby.

  21. Love all of these pics and memories you made today! :)

  22. looks like the perfect afternoon, friends, food, fun! love it!

  23. Well said.

  24. The photography workshop in Santa Barbara looks amazing. I am always on the look out for someone to teach me how to use my “big” camera! I’ve had it for almost 2 years and barely use it because it scares me!

  25. Glad to hear you’re feeling better– or at least had a small lapse closer to normalcy.

  26. aw what fun pictures! your girls have the cutest clothes!

  27. It would be great if you could post a weekly belly photo on your Friday phone dump i think we would all love to see your new little one growing!

  28. Your posts always calm me after a long day. Such fun pics of your little clan :) You make pregnant look AMAZING kelle. xoxo

  29. What a fun post this is! I love the pics!

  30. OK…So I’ve been gone from the technical world for three weeks and I come home to see you with a tiny baby bump! Congratulations! Have you ever thought about birthing at a birth center or going ala naturalle? Can’t explain it but there’s something pretty powerful about digging deep and getting through an unmedicated birth. There’s a great book called Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth that I recommend as well as the video The Business of Being Born…Love them both! Again, congrats on expecting a new little one!

  31. Thank you, thank you for this post.
    I just tried three times to write why these words were so important for me to read today, but can’t seem to express myself in writing this evening. :) Just know that you made my day better. :)
    It is so, so crucial that we mamas stick together and talk about the hard stuff, too.
    The first photo made me laugh out loud…poor Nella, and the other kids’ expressions crack me up. :)
    Thank you!

  32. Thanks for this post Kelle, and your wise words. Just what I needed this week, and I couldn’t agree more, parenting IS hard, but you’re right that’s what makes so important.

    Looks like a fun day out, and how great for all these kids to be growing up together and sharing childhood memories :-)


  33. I love Lainey’s expression and posture in the first photo. It’s just like, “Whatever. I tried, Mom.”

  34. Reading your posts cleans out my brain!

  35. Just, yes, lovely!

    I wish I lived near the beach.

  36. Great pics!!!!!


  37. Love those first two photos! Love them.

  38. Heidi’s little girl looks so much like her, it’s astounding!
    Also, I love seeing your little belly grow! I came around AFTER Nella was born, so I’m really excited to read along with this pregnancy’s journey.

  39. The headlocks happen at our house, too, and the result is pretty much the same. Tears, snot, boogies…the works. We have many headlock-face photos in our collection. Poor Nella :-P.

    Anyway, it looks like y’all had a good time! Lovin’ your baby bump too! Both you and your friend look like the pregnant I always wanted to be. Somehow I end up about as big around as I am tall, so I look like a beach ball everytime LOL. Lookin good, and keep having fun!

  40. Precious! :)

  41. Kelle, I don’t mean to sound preachy, but pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat feta cheese while pregnant. Wasn’t sure if you knew this or not.

  42. Please tell me in the second picture that Lainey is covering her ears bc “Nella’s crying is hurting them…” and it just so happens to be really convenient to not have to listen to mama correction. Please tell me….this is so clever and exactly what my smart lil 5 year old boy does. And it’s hilarious. Especially when it’s Lainey.

    And their dresses are awesome. And you and your bump look fabulous. Friendship gatherings are so important! Just moved to new town and trying to establish some of this here in a big city!

  43. I love how close you are with your friends. I have friends around here that I spend time with but my really good ones lives a couple of hours away. :-)

    Where did you get that dress you’re wearing? It’s gorgeous!

  44. I loved that you shared the truth of your outing, yet you still rocked it out!

  45. njce blog
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  46. I never know what I enjoy more about your posts – the gorgeous pictures, the eloquent writing, or the love for life you illuminate through each and every story you tell. LOVE THIS – what a fun, happy day!

    Delightfully Dunn

  47. lol love how lainey has her fingers in her ears not to hear nellas tatteling

  48. OH MY WORD!!! I am SO excited you have having a baby! I wanted you to have another…you have such cute kids people who have cute kids should have a dozen! YES! The girls will be the cutest little Mommas…just so happy for you all!!!

  49. What a fun day! And you look stunning… :)

  50. I love Lainey’s sandals:)

  51. Great pictures! I remember thinking that sometimes it felt like more work to drag the kids out than it was worth. But it was always worth it. Looks like a lovely day.

  52. I love these kinds of fun days! Question: do you make a concerted effort to always dress you and the girls cute?

  53. Looks and sounds like such a fun day with friends. I’m inspired by your spontaneity and the fact that your friends join in on a whim too. I need more of that! Hope you had a great weekend!

  54. All these photos were so adorable.. Also, I love your writing! Your words flow together so well.

  55. I love the top 2 photos soooo much!! They are perfect!

  56. What a wonderful day =)

    I absolutely love the top 2 pics also. Too cute!!


  57. I really love Nella!

  58. I’m with you on the hot tea! I am also expecting and drinking it every night (and pretending I’m in London while watching the Olympics). My husband has started calling it the “pregnant lady’s cocktail.” HA!

  59. What a fabulous post. And I must say, I needed to see this today. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed, so it’s nice to see someone else is in Crazyville with me. Thanks for that. So much.

  60. What an awesome post…you are so blessed to have such an amazing circle of friends!

  61. Just finished your book. Started it yesterday. I’m a teacher, so I only have a few weeks left before I’m bombarded with the busy days of school. I can’t even begin to tell you how many connections I had with the book, already loving that line from Mary Oliver, already loving Donald Miller and Sarah Groves, loving babies since I was tiny. I cried so many times while reading and made my husband listen to parts I’d read out loud through tears. Thanks for sharing your life and for being real. I loved the book. I would have read the book because I was interested in your story. I consumed the book because the way you told it was so creative, so thought-provoking, so moving. I’ll carry your words with me.

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