Enjoying: The State You’re In

I feel like it would be doing a disservice to my blog—or at least the archives of 2014—if I didn’t properly light my fall on fire in a post this year. Wouldn’t want those other years to feel superior or anything, so let it be said that the fall freak flag has been raised, clusters of shellacked gourds line the counters, “Warm Tobacco Pipe” candles flicker in the living room, and just yesterday I took the first Florida fall excursion. We don’t have apple orchards or pumpkin patches or streets lined with golden maples, but I’ll be damned we have a Homegoods that sells faux birch bark candles and fuzzy owl knickknacks and hand towels emblazoned with scarlet leaves. And yesterday, I pushed my cart between those aisles of autumn splendor just as I might, say, push a stroller down an acorn-scattered path, and I breathed in the air conditioning like it was an apple-scented breeze. “Hail to Fall!” I shouted as I swung from the rug racks and climbed to the peak of a toss pillow pile, raising a clearance cornucopia above my head as the store’s inhabitants repeated the fall chant and then joined me in the candle section for a synchronized flash mob cart dance to the tune of John Coltrane’s “Autumn Serenade.” It was beautiful, I tell you. And festive. And all in my imagination. But someday, if the world keeps on the upturned path (we’re headed toward better, right?), these imaginative dreams will happen all the time.

So there. Fall has been recognized for 2014.

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Nothing says cozy fall like rat decals and a make-believe spider infestation.

Every so often, I get an e-mail or comment from—well, let’s just call them blog fans—who, after reading some sort of “I miss something about the Midwest” rambling of mine, string together the most colorful of words in the English language to say something like, “Why do you hate Florida so much, you ungrateful b@*#!?” (that’s actually a real e-mail). Which always gives me a little chuckle, first because cussing can be really funny—especially when it’s typed in ALL CAPS and signed by anonymous screen names­­, but also because ­­­I find it humorous that these insightful people have managed to look past the fact that loving something—like, say, motherhood—while yet professing disappointment for its shadows—like, say, fits or hard days or seeing your children struggle—doesn’t so much mean that you hate that thing but rather that your love for it is well-seasoned with the reality that the best things in life come with a flipside. We say howdy to the flipsides in life, and usually that acknowledgment is enough to keep them from getting to us. If we didn’t acknowledge them, they might get mad and stick around until we did.

But really. Clearly, we hate Florida so much that we drag our kids to the beach and take pictures of the repulsive landscape.

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This blue sky actually pisses me off.

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To love where you live or what you do for a living or the people you spend your life with doesn’t mean you have to like everything about them. It just means that you see through the parts that you don’t love and know that there’s more than enough good to make up for them. That goes for states and jobs and parents and kids and husbands and wives and friends.

This scene? We’re good, Florida. We’re good.

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A little Enjoying post early this week as Wednesday starts Down syndrome awareness month, and we’ll kick it off right.


Finding frogs after the rain. 
And when we catch one, it always leads to us telling Lainey the story again about the time a frog jumped on her face when she was little, and how she lost her mind.

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The Boxcar Children.
Well maybe not a boxcar, but still–a box. The best toy money can’t buy. Brett bragged all night about how he rigged up a real doorknob and how the window he cut was way cooler than mine because his opens and shuts.

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Alright, I’ll give him the window. But the doorknob fell off this morning, thank you very much.

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Shared Loves.
One of my favorite things to do with her–draw side-by-side. I help her draw faces because she’s “not really good at eyes, Mom,” and she picks out all the colors for my pictures because choosing colors for anything–bridal bouquets, nursery walls, polka dot shirts on rough sketches of girls in a notebook–is one of the great perks in life, and I’ll let her have the pleasure. I love to watch how serious she gets over a Pacific Blue vs. Caribbean Green decision. I’m hoping that when hard things come our way, hitting the table with a sketch book, drawing manual and a pile of colored pencils is always a way out–or at least closer to each other.

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Seastar Wonder.
She’s breaking through her timidness for a lot of things in life right now. Scooching closer to centipedes on the ground to get a good look at their tiny legs. Joining crowds of friends without huddling so close to me. Climbing the big slide at the park and sailing down without a spotter. Stretching her hand out to hold a seastar–intrigued, not frightened, by the wiggly feet that tickle her palm. And just when I’m about to jump to some sentimental and super celebratory Down syndrome achievement proclamation, I remember that this is life and we are all the same. Constantly breaking through our timidness of the world, pulling back when we need more time, and reemerging when we feel safe and curious and brave. I see myself in her all the time.

But I’m still sentimental and super celebratory. So yay, Nella! Cartwheel. High five. Knuckles.

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Welcome, Barbie.
I never played with Barbies growing up, and Lainey didn’t seem interested in anything but baby dolls. Though I never officially opposed them, maybe I got a little uppity about our Barbielessness and made it our thing. I mean–their unrealistic body proportions, their plasticness, whatever. I went total elitist with it, and I admit it. Thing is, Nella has found the few forlorn Barbies that were passed down to us and, despite their boob-to-waist ratio and dreamhouse obsessions, she looked past all that to see dolls that needed love. Nella is to Barbie as Jesus was to Zaccheus. (That was just to meet my monthly Bible-trivia-from-the-past quota, a little thing I have goin’ with myself to prove I still got it.)

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Sometimes we hear her in her room,excitedly talking, voice raising, little phrases rolling off her tongue with such inflection: Oh, Okay! Hi! Thank you! Here it is! Brett’s usually first to the scene, and he whispers for me to come quick. And as we peek around the door frame, careful so she doesn’t see us, we find her with the Barbies. Two of them held up, one in each hand, to face each other. She swings their hair and makes them bob back and forth when she talks for them. She gives them a voice when they can’t speak for themselves. Which is exactly what we try to do for her.

So, Barbies? Bring ’em on. We took her to get a new one this weekend. Kid you not, she named the newest member Poop. Poop has the cutest polka-dot skinny jeans. Just sayin’.

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My Happy Place.
This scene. Restores, renews, straightens out and brings all the “I don’t knows” right home. This I know. This is home, peace, comfort and motivation all in one.

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This is pretty cute too.

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A Giving Opportunity for You
There are two days left to September, and though I joke about how fulfilling a good cup of cider or fall craft can be, I can’t think of a more meaningful way to close out this month than to help give families the basic human rights so many of us enjoy every day, without thought–safety and the freedom from violence. We’re talking 6-year-olds walking to school without being hurt. I’ve written about International Justice Mission and had a backstage pass to the incredible work they’re doing around the world when we visited their Rwanda field office in July. We met Jamie and heard her story and saw firsthand how the work of IJM saved her life. IJM is doing good, important work. They’re rescuing children and families who are being abused and enslaved, they’re enforcing justice and they’re teaching communities around the globe how to sustain these systems of justice on their own. We signed up to be Freedom Partners in July–a small $24/month donation that helps IJM continue their work in rescuing victims of violence across the globe–and we continue to follow the work of IJM, getting updates of rescues and justice victories we’re helping to support every week. Generous IJM donors have committed to doubling your monthly giving all year long when you sign up to become an IJM Freedom Partner in September. Your bill from one night out at a restaurant could make a double impact on protecting the poor if you sign up today.


And on that note, goodnight. Happy almost October. You know what that means?  The last quarter. Live it up, bring it home…from whatever state you’re loving. 

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Leave a Comment
  1. Love what you did with the Instagram pictures. Can you come decorate my house? Just askin’

  2. Kelle, I love this post so much. I always read and rarely comment, but today I wanted to let you know that we all have days where home doesn’t have everything that you wish for (trust me, New Zealand is missing a few things!), but it doesn’t mean that you love it any less. Screw the haters, you are amazing!

  3. Happy Fall!

    I find it strange that people send mean emails to you, why put in so much effort to be rude??

    Beautiful post & THANK YOU for always sharing!!

  4. I wish I would have grown up with you as my mom and in your cozy home. I just love the freedom and the love you give your cuties.
    Yeah, for you beng strong with the negative outspoken commenters. I would be upset about
    That blue sky, too. Lol
    So glad that things are improving in that little part of the world.

  5. Fall freak flag flying here too. Candle lit, pumpkins in place.

  6. You always make me smile! : ) I laughed out loud about the anonymous email with a screen name and all caps. YIKES! I love that you get to live in Florida with beautiful beaches and bountiful sunshine. What a blessing. Pennsylvania is pretty too. Although, last years snowstorms were insane in the membrane.

    I hope you continue to find joy this week with your three little munchkins and your fabulously beautiful barbie doll collection! Happy Monday!

  7. Poop! I read that line out loud to my husband and he said, “A little humility for Barbie…”

  8. Awesome post. Giving you 5 (video) stars.

    Sending smoke signals from a Seattle fireplace,

    Brookie Brooke

  9. (LOVE! Love.Love.Love.)

  10. I’m sorry your reader said that awful thing to you. No matter where our lives take us, home is always, well, home. While I very much love the state where my family currently resides, there is still no place like home. Some people should try to have a little more empathy for another person expressing a little homesickness.

  11. Giggled much too hard over the newest Barbie’s name. Thank you for that, and may Poop be the most popular girl in the group for once in her life

  12. Kelle, you rock. I’ve always enjoyed your Fall enthusiasm!

  13. I am from in Calif now….the blue sky here pisses me off too!

  14. So I am super intrigued by that 9 legged sea star…. I’ve never seen one with more than 5.

  15. Love all of this, so much. And while here in Michigan it is becoming full-on Fall, and every leaf that falls reminds me of how summer is over & done and soon it will be freezing (and I won’t even mention the dreaded ‘s’ word is around the corner!!) I’ll make sure to enjoy it all a little extra, just for you! :)

  16. Ahhhhhh you ungrateful B*?%#!!!!! You have made me anxious that my indoor pumpkin supply is not up to par! My porch is covered, as are my soaps and candles! I even have a well stocked apple beer collection. I already made an apple pie for the love of fall. I just saw your pics though and know in my heart I need more pumpkins. My fall freak flag is going higher! I hope you are happy with yourself. Hee hee

  17. Love that photo wall in the last picture. Hooray for fall! Crafting up some goodness here myself. Thanks for the post.

  18. i don’t like where I live, hate cold weather, anything below 60 degrees is BS!! But the fall leaves and then snow are so beautiful but I also hate them. But like with everything else, you take the good with the bad.

  19. Love the post. I’ve been imagining all the Fall decos in my head too. I’m 32 wks pregnant, so I won’t be doing any fall decoration shopping anytime soon. Maybe I’ll just let the dead leaves and such accumulate on my front porch, slap on a “Happy Fall!” sign, and call it done!

    And your beach pics are so nice! Weather still warm enough on some days to that there?

    But I love that last pic. Happiness. 😉

  20. This is one of the best blog posts you’ve done in a while. I love it when they’re of the “sick the marrow out of life” variety. Brings happiness with it, especially when it involves dolls named Poop.

  21. Kelle, I think you need to check out the Usborne dolly sticker dressing books (particularly the ‘fashion designer’ ones) for Lainey – our daughter loves them and I have a feeling yours would, too!

  22. I love the fact you can see such comments with so much humour. And: Yay, go Nella!

  23. Posted to FB – Ellie thought Nella was EVERY kid she knows with DS (except for Nella.) Made me smile – she’s seeing SOMETHING and getting something.

    It’ll be 80 here today. Where IS fall?

  24. Oh the anonymous reader. They can be so enlightening some times! Nope! I loved how you answered with sarcasm… LOVE that. Sarcasm is my defense mechanism! Anyway… just wanted to say that I’ve been reading your blog for a while and never said hi…. and us real people completely get the ups and downs and how they can mess with us!

  25. I sit here with my cup of coffee, at work, starting my day. But before I do, I read your blog. Lots of chuckles, a couple tears (when you speak of Nella, conquering her fears and what nots…) and I’m ready for the day! Love starting off the day reading your posts! Well done! Happy Fall to you and yours!

  26. I’ve also run into the “You’re complaining about one small aspect so you must hate it all” attitude and it drives me crazy! Why can’t people just keep their mouths shut a la Thumper’s Daddy if they don’t have something nice to say?

  27. I mean, I love living in KY and experiencing all 4 seasons but I HATE living so far from the beach so I totally get it! I don’t know where you found the unicorn cape Nella is wearing but that’s incredibly adorable.

  28. Ha. I moved away to a somewhat fall-less state myself, and while I do miss those pretty Midwest leaves, I say to my new home, “Yay, Texas! Cartwheel! High five! Knuckles!”

  29. Social media gives people an easy way out to be snarky. You rise above it – which you did and I love that. Tell me more about that tobacco candle. Does it really smell like pipe tobacco? I googled it but none of the sites said what it actually smelled like. And Nella naming her Barbie “poop?” I cracked up on that one! At work. People stared at me. I don’t care! That was priceless! – Karen

  30. Love! My daughter loves to draw also! Wish I was as good as you are to draw with her- I just give her ideas of what to draw :) I cannot wait to see/hear what the kids Halloween costumes are this year!! :)

  31. I literally laughed until I cried when you said Nella named her Barbie Poop! She is truly the best. I just adore you and your family! Thank you for always making me feel at home when I get to read your posts.

  32. I live in Michigan and was basically raised here. I can totally see why you would struggle with calling Florida home. There are major differences in the two states. Fall just isn’t the same when it’s hot as hell out. That being said, your attempts to make the best of it and create a “new normal” for Fall is admirable:) I totally get it.

  33. We can’t go to Barnes and Noble without my girls reminiscing about the one time Sheridan, got too close to the frog on the ground. “Daddy told her, it would jump on her,” they say… that kid, she still has to figure it out on her own. No learning from anyone else’s mistakes.
    I, like yourself, miss the Midwest terribly this time of year. You crack me up. I actually picked up a coffee Saturday morning and walked through the craft store, all by myself! I soaked it all up. The sights and smells. It was fabulous. No kids complaining, are you done yet? Hope you have a fantastic Florida fall. <3 dani

  34. I’m a Florida native and I long for other places all the times. I’m over the heat and desperate for all four seasons…

  35. Kelle, I think this is one of your best posts from lately. I sometimes feel like you are a real life friend and I can hear your voice, and I loved your voice in this one. Clear, strong, confident, and sometimes sarcastic. This was great!! Your sentiments about Florida really made me chuckle!

  36. Living in New York now and the gold, orange and red leaves with their…aroma and all that apple picking? Well, it’s almost as bad at the F*!$%ing irritating ocean I had to tolerate when I lived in FL for 11 years. Is there just no perfect place on this asshole of an Earth?

    Loving Nellas discovery of bravery.

  37. Hahaha!! Okay, three things make me laugh in this post. 1) That you get e-mails like that. Seriously?! It’s like telling someone they can’t say “I want to live here!” when they are on vacation… as if it means they HATE where the live, just because another place is beautiful too. Sheesh. 2) POOP. Kids say the best things! 3) That frog. It’s so SMUG. Look at it’s face!

    It goes without saying that your pictures are awesome. JUST spotted the instagram collage on your wall, and that’s SO COOL. Perfect spot for it. How in the world did you get it all so perfectly centered and straight?! You go, girl.

  38. 1) When I see Nella in the last picture, the song “Do the hustle” plays in my mind.
    2) Nothing says fall warm apple cider and fireball whiskey. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ll thank me later.


  39. You are so great and I love all your post! They are uplifting and always make me smile, cry, laugh and plain ol just feel good about everything. I feel sorry for people who feel like they have to feel perfect and happy all the time…shame on them! This is life and it’s not suppose to be roses all the time. Keep inspiring!

  40. This post has all the kelle goodness.

  41. I am with you on this one. I feel like wherever I live, there will be something missing at some point. I have lived for the passed 10 years in Montreal, and I feel the burning desire to change, to go to a warmer place, to discover something new, but I know that once there – wherever that is – I’ll be missing some things about Montreal. :)

  42. I think we all need to buy private airplanes, so can just go from state to state and enjoy what they have to offer – whenever we feel like it. :)

  43. Many years ago my 4 year old granddaughter worked through grief issues with her Barbies. Those little plastic icons were a godsend.

    Barbie on, Nella!

  44. I love your post. You can love Florida and love other places as well, it is all good. I love summer and I get very excited for the Fall too! We have enough love for all the seasons and states and can appreciate all their different kinds of beauty. Happy October-Down syndrome awareness month ��

  45. @CathyK I’ll go halvies. Let’s travel the world!

  46. i just wanted to say thank you for this post. your words about “the flipsides” resonated with me after a very tough day yesterday. they reminded me that although at times being a mom can feel like your heart is breaking when things are going well for your kid, all of the things that are going right more than make up for it. thank you for reminding me of that and to take some deep breaths and dive in for another day.

  47. It’s perfectly normal to love where you’re at and miss where you used to live. The grass is always greener :) I’m from SC’s coast and I sure do miss the ocean and those nice SC winters. But I do love autumn here in Chicago! Fall’s not a season here, it’s an event!

    But if only there were a state where you could have beautiful summer beaches, salty air, afternoon thunderstorms, crisp fall air and beautiful leaves and pumpkin patches, below freezing weather & snow ONLY in December leading up to Christmas, and then a mild winter with a nice warm spring that starts in early March. I want to move there!

  48. My face hurts from smiling so much while reading this post! I loved what you said about the flip side to places you love. We moved to Budapest a few years ago, and I feel like people want me to say I either love it or I hate it. But really, I both. Thanks for the beautiful words!

  49. This post made me snort. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be hit with sudden chuckles all day over the FL, beach, photo retort.

  50. Totally random, but I think this is the first picture I’ve seen that shows your TV. I can’t really explain why this is important to me, except just to say that it is. Thank you for posting a picture that included your TV. :-)

  51. i said this on ig, but sister needs to come for a visit! she would never want to leave. if i put our barbies head to toe they would wrap the globe lol!!! and big chick still plays when she gets a chance…she’s 14! oh and side note. i love your eclectic decorating style. you have the innate ability to pull of anything in fashion or design. not fair;)

  52. My fall freak flag is flying high too! I’m from Upstate NY, and we are in the full swing of things right now, and it was past time that my decor got caught up with the season already (geez!). I *just* took a step back last night and thought ‘finally, it’s done’. My pumpkins have been spray painted, my lights strung, my apple-scented candles are scattered about along with scattered bowls of apples (these have two-fold benefits as decorations and healthy eating options for my 6 year old!)

    In your writing, it’s obvious you miss Michigan and why wouldn’t you? It doesn’t mean you don’t also love Florida, and I’m sure you have gratitude for the blessings you have in your life to live in a nice place with nice weather, etc. The grass truly is always greener, and it’s human nature to always miss ‘the other thing’. There’s a reason for the saying ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’. But I believe the missing and wanting and wishing is also the stuff that fuels our dreams, and they are goals we can set our sights on reclaiming again one day.

    ps. that’s a great idea about shellacking the unpainted pumpkins – Inever thought of it, but I’m going to break out my clear spray paint for those puppies!

  53. You are so delightful!

  54. A barbie named Poop! We have a monster stuffed animal named Potty! They should meet. Also, my daughters play with barbie dolls and as a Feminist with a capital F, I am okay with it.

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  56. We recently moved back to Florida from Virginia and Fall is a season we love. We miss the fall activities we loved in VA but love Florida too. We haven’t gone yet but I did just find a pumpkin patch here in a Florida where you can pick pumpkins right off the vine as well as gourds. It is a bit far for us but we hope to go this month. Not sure how far it is for you.

    Love all the Halloween decorating.

  57. You know after a long time i feel that this article really touch my heart and i just simply want to say thanks for sharing from bottom of my heart.Stay bless dear

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