Writing posts at the end of the year, after precious days of close family moments, feels a bit like filling a time capsule with the last special things you want to remember before closing the cap. As Brett and I fulfilled our Christmas morning parent duties, satisfyingly smiling at their squeals of delight, there were seconds where we caught each other’s eyes.  We didn’t need to say anything; it was understood.  Did you see that?  Wasn’t that precious? How funny is she?  Oh God, she’s getting so big. 

My friend Colette expressed the perfect explanation to me earlier this year of why supporting Down syndrome cognition and memory research is so important to her for her son, Dex.  “All my memories–the things that make me laugh, moments with family, holidays, vacations–it’s a scrapbook in my brain, something I always have to go back to later in life,” she explained.  “If I’m ever sad or want to smile, I can remember all those times, like flipping through snapshots in a scrapbook.  I want Dex to have a scrapbook too.”

Yeah, that. 

That’s what these pictures are.  And what these stored images in my brain are that keep making me smile every time I think of them.

Those long swishy nightgowns that were perfectly too big enough to make my girls look smaller.


And crayon-drawn letters with big spaces between them.  High pitched “How do you spell Santa?” pleas because it’s probably the last year she’ll ask.  And another year of reindeer food and watching the sky and staring at two sisters sound asleep together on the night before Christmas.

Installing the Reindeer Runway
Nella steals some of Santa’s milk

Our Christmas Scrapbook:

Brandyn fed Nella blueberries at the rate of one blueberry  per milisecond.  Any slower, she’d go nuts.

Late Christmas Eve, my dad and Gary installed this amazing fairy garden in our front landscaping. It is just as much a gift for me as it was for my girls. There’s even a hand-painted castle with flags for each of my babies. 


And then morning. Being awakened by a soft little tap-tap-tap on my back. An excited whisper. Can we go see if Santa was here?  Lainey knows the Christmas drill now.  She waits patiently in bed with Daddy while I go turn on the tree lights and make a pot of coffee and turn on Nat King Cole and light candles and make just enough noise to wake Nella and Poppa, and the boys quickly follow.

North Pole money

Boots on dogs?  Very funny.  Lainey fell on the  floor laughing.  Latte gets weirded out and paddles her feet across the floor all frantic.  Thank you, Poppa.

I love how teenage brotherly entertainment means random wrestling matches.  They both laugh while they pretend to beat the crap out of each other, out of nowhere.  Apparently, it’s very funny.

She spots the fairy garden.

I’ll share deets on fairy garden later. Gary’s a horticulturist and has a nice list of plants that work good in fairy gardens as well as some resources where you can find materials to build your own.


My favorite part of Christmas? When the morning spills over into complete calm. Everyone finds a different corner of the house, kids play with new toys, adults rest on couches, the mess on the living room floor dissolves into the setting and everything is quiet and happy and good. I collapsed on the couch late morning, not intending to sleep, but I fell into one of those half awake naps where my eyes were closed and my brain was off duty but I was very aware that I was smiling and listening to the girls’ chatter while they tested out new toys. 


Likewise, the afternoon delivered with more grandparents and more love. More scrapbook pages.  And a honey baked ham.

Two people are texting.  Can you find them?


We’re still in vacation mode. And feeling so thankful for family and home.

To scrapbooks being filled with much love.  Chin-Chin.



Leave a Comment
  1. love it

  2. Adorable pictures. There are two Mocha doggies? Love the sleeping mama and poppy. I didn’t see him at first, hah. Looks like it was wonderful.

  3. I love these photos, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!!! Xo

  4. I LOVE the pic of you and your dad laying on different couches. You’re so blessed to have your dad so much in your life and I’m happy for you. :) Looks like a very magical Christmas!

  5. Merry Christmas! I love the Fairy Garden… there is a local shop by my house that sells those. I may have to start one soon. Its so magical.
    Have a great week and keep Christmas in your heart all year long! It truly is the best season!

  6. Love your pics as always. You make true magic for your girls….
    Wish you a merry x-mas and a happy new year. Greetings from north of Norway! (very close to the north Pole) :-)

  7. Seeing those loving photos brought to mind something Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said: “if you bungle raising your children nothing much else matters in life”. The love, memories and devotion you show to your children are so beautiful and inspiring and set an example for other mothers to follow. Thanks for sharing your wonderful family with us. Happy Holidays!

  8. My 7 (8 this week!) year old sister still believes in Santa Clause. This whole year I was wondering the same thing, is this gonna be the last year she says that? Hopefully Lainey’s got a few more years in her :)

  9. I love these photos especially the one of the letter to Santa about the cookies, they’re all just so cute and precious, it’s so good to know that you, Brett, your girls and the rest of your family had such a magical Christmas together.

  10. Just beautiful! I love the picture of the girls sleeping. So sweet!

  11. That looks like an absolutely perfect Christmas to me!

  12. A beautiful Christmas indeed! I can’t wait to enjoy these precious little moments with my little one!

  13. Scrapbook. Ahh, I love that. I am filling my scrapbook.

  14. I loved this post! And I can’t wait to hear about the fairy garden because I am going to make one soon.

  15. Christmas with you was magical–seeing the holiday through the eyes of children is so enchanting. And you did the holiday right–your gifts were thoughtful, creative and appropriate–connecting your children with your own cherished memories and providing them the platform for imaginative play. Too many trees are garishly piled with too much for a child to get their arms or minds around…especially in those homes where every day brings little gifts. I enjoyed the warm ease and cozy comfort of your home and family…the boys, the girls, the inlaws–all were wonderful!!!

  16. You two are such good parents for giving your girls such magical experiences and memories that they will cherish for a lifetime.

  17. What a happy day. Lovely photos as usual xx

  18. Looks like you had a great time; it will make lovely memories. And hey, guess what? My daughter gave me ‘Bloom’ for my Christmas gift (I wasn’t expecting it). I’ve read three chapters and already cried a bucket of tears. It’s beautiful, Kelle.

  19. I love your tree in the middle of the room. Perfect Christmas!

  20. Love the pic of you and your dad napping. So sweet! What a wonderful, magical Christmas you created for your family. Just beautiful.

  21. this year we didn’t decorate for christmas bc we thought we would be moving in december (now delayed a few weeks) and since we don’t have kids so we thought we’d just skip it. but in the days before: out came just one string of lights…then a little stuffed moose on the sideboard…then just a couple ikea candles…and a few clemetines…some scattered shiney-wrapped candies – voila mini Christmas magic. and what i realized (i think with the help of your blog): I’M responsible for creating this – kids or no kids i can choose to do it big or small for me…mini magic or going all out (maybe next year?!). i sort of kept waiting for christmasness to just magically appear bc it’s december…now i get it – it’s not up to the weather or what’s on the radio or how much money the city has for decorations – it’s what i ant make of it in my own home. a small christmas-as-an-adult revelation. :-)

  22. just beautiful!!

  23. Beautiful, Kelle! Love how you captured all the sweet in-between moments.

  24. Gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas to you and your dear family! I can feel the love and joy in these photos!

  25. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!

  26. Dear Kelle, You are so lucky to have so MUCH family to share your Christmas with! Blessings to all of you and thank you for sharing with all of us. Everything looks wonderful, the only thing “out of season” from my point of view is all the shorts and bare feet! I am sitting here – inside my house – in Minnesota with shoes, socks, jeans, sweater, down vest wishing it wasn’t 15 degrees outside! Your postings are a breath of calm, joy, honesty, delightfulness and WARMTH that always fill my heart. Thank you.

  27. Delightful! And that love? Universal. Contentment with family? Same thing. Thank you for sharing.

  28. I burst out laughing at the boys pounding each other and their random wrestling matches…hahaha! We are nearing that stage, and I have a feeling that little brother is going to win with the pin! Just yesterday I heard him yell, “You’re GOIN’ DOWN TOWN!” Not sure what that means, but I have a feeling it isn’t good news for the teasing big brother!

    Teary eyed seeing Lainey’s expression upon finding the fairy garden…what a thoughtful gift from your dad and Gary.

    Precious pages you’ve added to your scrapbook!

  29. I am so with you on the scrapbook memories. Having to deal with Multiple Sclerosis, I have my share of cognitive/memory issues. I am so glad that you are doing this for, not only your children, but yourself. Amazing Christmas, beautiful photos, and wonderful family you have.

  30. Oh!!! The Fairy Garden, and the Fairy Door are wonderful! What lovely ideas! Now my daughter and I are plotting and planning :-)

  31. Ugh, I miss Christmas. This was seriously the best one I’ve had in a while and it went so quick. I’m pretty sure it’s because our little man finally gets it this year.

    Looks like you had an amazing time too!

  32. Goodness….from Brett putting the reindeer runway lights out, Brandyn feeding Nella blueberries, the Fairy Garden, reindeer hoof prints, boots on Latte, magic door, brothers fighting, you on one sofa ~ Poppy on the other napping, and 2-people texting (ha!!) What a truely magical Christmas and many memories you made.


  33. Looks like you had a FANTASTIC Christmas. Love it!

  34. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas! The hoof prints on the driveway cracked me up! :)


  35. Oh, Kelle! You’ve done it again! Way to deliver another magical Christmas for your family! Love everything! :)

  36. It often isn’t the pile beneath the tree that makes the memories and fills the hearts with joy–it is the little moments and the tiny exchanges of love that make the holiday magic. I loved seeing an Instagram post from Austyn–the only one he posted about his Christmas. It was a photo of him holding the gift Lainey had chosen and bought for him at her Secret Santa shop–wrapping it in tissue and presenting it to him with such pride. It was a keychain–she knows he got his first car. The keychain said #1 Brother. And the only text Austyn added on his Instagram post was “Sometimes it isn’t the biggest gifts that are the best.” It made me cry…good tears. He gets it!

  37. What a beautifully tender post! Seems like it was a magical day for all. Belated Merry Christmas (visiting from instagram!)

    pattyx24 on IG

  38. Seriously there are not many families I wish I could be a part of. Mine is pretty darn great. But your family, both actual and those adopted in through friendship certainly make me wish I were your older sister! Thank you for sharing your memories with us, truly they are treasures and I am oh so grateful to be able to share in them one way or another!
    (this isnt too creepy stalkerish is it? LOL)
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  39. Oh Kelley, I loved every picture but the one that made me sigh with happiness for you was the one where you were cradling your baby belly. *Sigh* So, so happy for you!!!

  40. This year is what my hubby calls our “off year”. We both have children from prior marriages – 9 between us. But, as this was their year with their other families – spread out all over the country – I didn’t do up the big Christmas like last year…a ‘Gnome & Mushroom Christmas’ with 32 of our precious family members – my ‘scrapbook’ was so full! So, this year has been sadly quiet and had lost some of it’s magic sparkle – my sweet hubby tried to keep my spirits lifted with our own outings & special time. Your blog is so beautifully and wonderfully sweet & sincere – thank you so much for sharing a piece of your Christmas with us. How blessed we are!

  41. It looks like you all had a wonderful, magical time. Just think next year there will be a beautiful baby boy in those scrapbook pages! x

  42. LOVE that I can live vicariously through your instagram photos and blog posts this holiday season! Our family unfortunately woke up with the flu early Christmas morning. It has put a bit of a damper on our festivities! Hopefully we will get a bit of a redo tomorrow since hubby’s family is in town! LOVE the scrapbook analogy!

  43. I love this. Love all the photos. Love, love, love the fairy house.

    The boots on Latte cracks me up. My ex bought some for our dog for the same reason. How old is Latte? My vet said that as dogs age and they get arthritis in their hips, they start to flip out on hardwood floors and tile. Dogs in boots is hysterical though.

  44. so beautiful kelle, your words and images. we have three smalls, 5, 3.5 and nearly 2 and christmas has never been SO magical, or enjoyable since they arrived. next year when we spend christmas at home, there will definitely be a reindeer runway :) x

  45. Such beautiful pictures to scrapbook this memory.

  46. A breathtaking Christmas full of lovely memories!

  47. Love this line:

    “I fell into one of those half awake naps where my eyes were closed and my brain was off duty but I was very aware that I was smiling and listening to the girls’ chatter while they tested out new toys.”

    I can totally feel all of that.

  48. Your girls are gorgeous



  49. Looks like a lot of fun. I hope to have the same fortune one day: to build a family as strong and united as mine now.

    Happy holidays
    a 17-year-old girl from a merry Italy

  50. I’d love to know how you made the lights on your tree starburst like that. What kind of setting did you use?

  51. I’d love to know how you made the lights on your tree starburst like that. What kind of setting did you use?

  52. Everything looks lovely. I love the fairy garden and how much Lainey adores Latte.

  53. Can’t wait for the fairy garden post! I want to make one for my granddaughter, hopefully for her birthday.

  54. this is such a beautiful scrapbook. i love the way you document your every day life.

  55. Beautiful. Everything looked beautiful. Love the tree in the middle of the room. What was the note by the fairy door? Loved the baby bump and can’t wait for the post on the fairy garden. Happy New Year!

  56. I want you to adopt me….pretty please?? I want a reindeer runway,a night gown that’s too long, turtle slippers, Nat King Cole playing while we celebrate Christmas,and a mother who absolutely, positively radiates love.

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring…Merry Christmas :)

  57. The secret fairy door! Love it, our house needs one of those and a fairy garden. My imagination has just gone into overdrive – a 6 yr old birthday in our house soon – fairies – oh yes.

  58. So sweet! The magic fairy door is awesome & I totally love the paper tablecloth with stamped snowflakes! Happy Holidays!

  59. What Beautiful ‘Scrapbook Memories’ you are Creating for all of your Loved ones to Cherish! And your Awesome Photographic Journal is capturing it Beautifully through the Eye of the Lens for Visual Delights that can be Shared far into the Future too… to Enhance those Memories all the more! We are Custodial G-Parents of two of our G-Kids with Special Needs… one with Medical Issues and one with Mental Health and Medical Issues. Understanding, Educating the Public and Social Acceptance are improving over the years, which is a good thing.

    Happy New Year from the Arizona Desert… Dawn… The Bohemian

  60. I’m so curious… where did you get the North Pole money? Where can the kiddos spend it? So cute!!

  61. Where did you find the fairy door & little bottle? Love that!
    I need that!!

  62. You are such an amazing mommy. I hope I am half of the mother you are someday.

  63. One of my favorite things is that you don’t feel compelled to hide messes before you take pictures.

  64. Amazing pictures! And even better memories that you all will cherish for years to come :) Merry Christmas!

  65. Love your scrapbook memories…I especially love the girls’ new fairy garden and would LOVE to make one for my little one even though she’s still too little. I can’t wait to see the tutorial!

  66. Wonderful post Kelle. You shine a wonderful light on what matters most. Merry Christmas and New Year!

  67. wonderful photos; beautiful children; loved the nightgowns, loved the last picture particularly of your youngest with the doll, but loved all of it.

  68. Lovely pictures and awesome photography. Merry Christmas.

    Kids Games

  69. I love the Fairy Garden!! I purchased mine online from a shop called JJ Potts and it is adorable!! It gets so much love at my house, people who come over spend 10 minutes in my porch admiring it!

  70. Merry Christmas! One of my girlfriends gave me your book for the holiday and I’m so excited to finally read it. Wishing you a wonderful new year :)

  71. Oh my gosh! That fairy garden and the tiny door!! So adorable!

  72. Merry Christmas to you and yours :o)

  73. I’d forgotten about your blog until I was clicking through my RSS reader. It’s great to see your family’s smiling faces. :) Your blog always makes me smile back.

  74. any idea where santa found the cute house shoes in the stockings? love the fairy door and garden

  75. Kelle….
    I love the idea that you consider these pictures on your Blog as a scrapbook!! How neat!! Speaking of which, I received a dog scrapbook for Christmas, plus printed pictures of my Beautifully Unique mutt, Rose, to paste inside!! ;op
    Nella stole some of Santa’s milk? Naughty girl…. ;-D
    I love the “wrapping paper” you use for gifts!! Festive and old-fashioned!! ;-]
    I love the North Pole Money!! Santa Claus never looked more proud to grace a dollar bill!! Hee, hee, hee…. ;-}
    Lainey got to give Nella her long-anticipated doll? Fun!! And look at Nella’s surprised expression!! ;->
    I found the “two people texting” before even reading your query!! I am so good!! 😉

  76. This comment has been removed by the author.

  77. Love. Love. And now you remind me that I have a ton of pix to edit and also to get back to my photo books.

    The fairy village is just a wonderful, wonderful addition.


  78. I simply adore this collection of Christmas photos/memories! Absolutely beautiful… you are an extraordinary photographer!

    I’ve been wanting to make a fairy garden for my daughter… your pictures have motivated me to start working on it!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend!

  79. Looks like a wonderful family time! Love the girls’ Christmas nighties and the way they’re sleeping while “visions of sugar plums go through their heads”. Also love Lainey’s face as she sees the puppet show present. Nella’s new haistyle is gorgeous and dear Latte I hope Latte wasn’t worried hearing about boots on dogs!

  80. OMGosh… Please do share the deets on the fairy garden. My 4 year old asked Santa for one and I bought a small kit…this is really what I wanted to do and just could not find the stuff locally to do it (I am sure it is out there and I just don’t know where to look) Thanks for sharing. I am so inspired!

    I Love the pics of your family. Looks like you all had a very Merry Christmas! Wishing you a Happy New Year!!

  81. the picture of lainey and nella sleeping together brought tears to my eyes. so beautiful! loved every image and love-filled word in this post. xoxo

  82. What was at the end of the string?? I love that tradition!


  83. where did you get that awesome cloth doll?

  84. I love the fairy door and “north pole” money, where did you find the money? Looks like the family had a wonderful Christmas. Such a cute belly picture too looking down at toes. Have a happy and healthy new year! -Jessica

  85. beautiful post. beautiful girls.

  86. Oh my gosh….love the pic of you sleeping while holding your belly. So sweet…I miss and love being pregnant. It looks great on you, enjoy and happy New Year!

  87. Brilliant Pictures waauuuu :-)
    Hugt Tina/OddStyle

  88. Hi! Just wanted to say that I love, love, love your blog, and the awesome pics that you post always bring a smile to my face.
    :-) Thanks so much for sharing all that you do, you are an encouragement to others, and you bring sunshine and joy to areas of this world that you don’t even know about. :-) Have a blessed new year!

  89. loving your pictures and your blog. absolutely amazing.:)

  90. I just bought my girl a Rubens Barn doll… can’t wait to get her! How does Nella like hers? Looks like it was a magical day…

  91. What a beautiful post, as always. You have a lovely family– and I always look forward to reading your blog. You have a true gift for weaving words with pictures, as well as making your readers feel enveloped almost as if we are longtime friends. Thank you for your inspiration!

    …and just out of curiousity, how did you create the starburst effect with the Christmas lights? I LOVE that look but haven’t yet been able to create it with my DSLR camera.

  92. Man, I want to come to Christmas at YOUR house. :)

  93. I got choked up reading this blog. I love all the memories you are creating for your family. Absolutely beautiful.

  94. Looks like your family had an amazing Christmas this year! :)

  95. I’ve been reading your blog for years and I just feel that I need to tell you that you inspire me to be a better mother. I stay home with my two little loves and I am sooo grateful that I have the opportunity. But some days I’m just so overwhelmed that I hardly can get out of my pjs. I just hop on over to your blog and its always so happy and cheerful that it gets me going and an hour later we’ve got glitter and glue stuck to everything and smiles smeared on our faces. You do more than you know girl. Way more.

  96. Love the matching pajamas that the girls have!

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>