featured april

A Lesson from My Eyebrows

Something shifted this year. Perhaps it’s climbing closer to 40 or teetering the fine line of almost having to shop for all three kids outside the toddler department, or maybe it’s the fact that nobody ever asks for my license anymore when I’m buying beer. But I feel like I’m stepping into another world, out of the young mom of babies one and into the middle-aged world where kids grow in triple time and moms can’t get away with shopping at Forever 21. In fact, last time I shopped there, I was with Heidi and two feet into the store–right past the first rack of crop tops and behind the size negative 4 mannequin dripping in Coachella style–she stopped.

“Wait, what are we doing here? We have, like, no f@&*ing business shopping here, Kelle. It’s called Forever 21. 21, okay? Not 37. We have to face it eventually.” She pointed to the closest article of clothing–a butt cheek-grazing pair of fringe shorts. “I mean, seriously. Are we going to wear that to the girls’ ballet class?”

“What are you suggesting?” I asked in horror. “That we walk down to Sears? Because I’m not going. I just want to look at their hats real quick.”

“Fine, look at the hats, but then we’re out of here.”

I found a hat with wearability that extended beyond the driver’s training crowd, but on the way back to our car, through the maze of kiosks and department store sales, I stopped at a makeup counter, lured by my current obsession and what I really wanted–another brow pencil.

“Jesus–you and your eyebrows,” Heidi laughed.

“No seriously, you have no idea,” I explained as I picked up a tiny brow kit with doll-sized brushes that promised to take your brows to “Wow!”–whatever that means. “It makes the hugest difference when you take time to fill them in.”

This brow thing is fairly new, but I admit I’ve had issues with my eyebrows ever since I was fifteen–when my cousin who had just returned from a nannying stint in New York City and was thus fully qualified as Knows All Stylish Things convinced me and my sister to pluck the motherloving heck out of our pretty little brows that had just finally grown into their natural shape.

“Thin is IN,” she told us. So we closed our eyes and winced as she tweezed every last hair, leaving nothing but a tiny line that arched high and left us looking permanently surprised. They never did grow back right, so now they’re a little crooked with some sparse spots, and I swear the left one is just half hanging there. I didn’t ever care or notice much until this brow craze started taking over fashion–oh, and that one time an Instagram commenter took the time to create a fake account to leave these eloquent words: simply “Your brows are F@*KED.”

And then I was Frida Kahlo for Halloween which gave me the excuse to really exaggerate my brows and play with penciling the heck out of them. I made them fat and bushy and realized just how little they are as the eye pencil tip grew flatter and flatter with all that space I had to fill. I looked so completely different–an amusing realization that got me hooked on this new eyebrow craze–and I admit, I took it too far.

I read up on brow techniques, started playing with products, hit the brow bar in Ulta. There are wands and waxes, powders and pencils, and I’ve tried them all–not without failure, of course. Texting before and after pictures of pre-filled and post-makeup eyebrows became a thing. I sent them to my sister (“What the hell? Too dark,” she texted back. “You might as well just use a Sharpie marker.”). I sent them to Heidi (“Wait–so are you looking at my brows every time you talk to me, thinking they look like shit?”). I sent them all the way to California to my friend Claire (“Did you send me a brow kit?” she recently texted me, “because one arrived with no note, and all I could think was ‘Kelle’s so obsessed with her eyebrows, I bet this is her way of telling me mine need help.'” I did not send the brow kit, by the way. And Claire’s brows are beautiful, just as they are.).

So what has all this brow fuss taught me? A few things, actually.

1.) Nobody cares about your damn eyebrows/face/body/parenting style/etc. except you.
2.) Don’t let temporary crazes consume you. Because THIN might be IN again soon.
3.) Find your middle. I know for me that moderation is where I find my happy. Still playing with youthful fashion? Fine–run in Forever 21 real quick to get a hat, but don’t leave looking like you’re headed to the Teen Choice Awards. Want to play with filling in your brows? Great, have fun, but go light–a little shaping and shading. You’re not Cara Delevingne for crying out loud.
4.) Face the music. Every year, things are changing and aging. So what, brows are f@*ked. And bodies morph. And babies turn into toddlers turn into children turn into sassy teens turn into adults standing in your kitchen someday, holding your age spot-speckled hands, asking for your advice because if you’re lucky, you’ve lived long enough to give it. And they’re still calling you mom.

There’s a playground of brow pencils and red lipsticks and morning exercises and slimming skirts and new recipes and home trends and fashion magazines with fun articles on how to fill in your arches and add more yellow to your wardrobe. I love that playground and am glad it’s there to accessorize our days, but the real heart of life that beats and keeps me alive is much bigger than that.

I returned to one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems recently–Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches? It was like reading it for the first time, and I typed a few lines, printed them and taped them above my desk, a closer reminder to keep for a little while:

Well, there is time left. Fields everywhere invite you into them…

Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?

…Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.
I climb, I backtrack.
I float,
I ramble my way home.”

Some bits from that beating heart lately:

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*I get asked about these Magna Tiles every time they show up in a post. An investment, but one you won’t regret. By far, the favorite toy in our home over the years and one that everyone plays with, from the littlest to me and Brett.

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Now don’t go staring at my eyebrows in all my pictures now.

Happy Tuesday! Don’t breathe just a little and call it a life…inhale deeply all that is good.


Leave a Comment
  1. Leah Wright says:

    Forget the eyebrows. Where did you get those amazing felt and wood ice creams?

    • The felt ones are from Land of Nod. The wood ones are from a toy company called Le Toy Van. Hope that helps!

  2. Crystal massie says:

    Ok, I love your blog, your pics, your kids, your writing and style! You are beautiful in so many ways! This is my favorite post yet!! Thanks for the reminder of what really matters, but I like all the fun IN stuff too. 😃

  3. You are beautiful. The person who had time enough to create an account just to hurt you is f#cked. Happy Tuesday!

  4. Brown Eyed mama says:

    I say this from the bottom of my heart, not out of criticism–please, please, please get that sweet girl into ISR lessons and away from the water wings. They have scholarships available to lighten the financial load. Your family is around water often enough that it would be an amazing gift to give your girl.


    • Thank you for your concern (and I do understand it’s sincere!). We’re working on it, but it’s taking her a lot longer to learn to swim than the other kids–and that’s okay. We’ve been advised to do regular swim lessons in a group setting. We are very eager for her to learn and are continually working with her in the pool.

      • Blue eyed caretaker says:

        ISR lessons are a survival skill, not actually “swimming” and therefore is taught to very young babies. Nella could be taught the skills long before being able to swim. I think that’s actually the point and since it’s is taking her longer than the average, all the more reason for her to learn to save herself.

  5. Please please tell me where you got that play bonfire…my son is obsessed!!!


    • It was a gift several years ago from grandparents–they got it from an Etsy shop that doesn’t make them anymore, but Land of Nod makes an amazing plush campfire set!

  6. Eyebrows are the rage right now with the high school girls. My daughters spend as much on eyebrow stuff as they do on all of their other make up. “How do my eyebrows look?” I hear that question every morning lol.

  7. where are the ice cream treats from?!

  8. Goodness, that quote! This is everything I love about your writing … that you can talk about eyebrows and Forever21 and Mary Oliver and growing babies all in the same space. It’s all relevant and real. (ps. the eyebrow obsession is real for me too!)

  9. Liza chicon says:

    There you go again making my thoughts your words … the forever 21 had me dying , cause as a 41 yr old mom of five with kids ranging in the ages of 22,19,13,8 and 3 I struggle with all that you mentioned ! and oh boy do I struggle with my brows !!! lol Loved this post

  10. Lisacrafty says:

    Great post Kelle! All true! At the root, I hear be THANKFUL! Amen!

  11. I.LOVE.YOU

  12. Rock the bangs, and brows don’t matter as much :)

  13. Heidi. Oh, how I love that girl. Eyebrows, yes! Filling in for years and think it does make a difference. Come to think of it, I only started doing this around the time I turned 40. You’re a little early, but on track.

    I’ll let you obsess about your eyebrows now, but just know that the neck is where all the obsession is at at 45. Nora Ephron wasn’t kidding when she wrote about it. It’s a real thing.

    It’s been almost two years since I met you at Write Doe Bay and I love how clicking on a blog post brings you back into my life today. Thanks for the laugh, the words + telling it like it is. No matter what. XO!

  14. Where did you find the building panes the kids are playing with?

  15. Eyebrows. Yes to me, too. No, I will not fill them in. Less is more for me :)

  16. Your posts are so real, I just love it! Also, M22!!

  17. Have no cousin to blame for my eyebrows…..did it to myself! Ugh! Thanks for sharing your life with all of us. You are always so honest and inspiring.

  18. I really enjoyed reading this. I turned 32 this year and can see the wrinkles setting in and get confused about whether I’m dressing too old, or avoiding the frump. Who knows? Love your funny perspective xx

  19. Right there with you on the brow thing. My older sister practically sat on me when I was a teenager while she plucked the smithereens out of my eyebrows. I’ve never been the same since.

  20. I think your eyebrows look fine! And even if they didn’t, who cares about that mean comment? It never ceases to amaze me the unkind comments people make to people they don’t even know. I like to read about your family and your projects, and think your writing is witty, thoughtful, inspirational, funny, etc… lots of good things going on here.

  21. An entire post about eyebrows and not a single eyebrow picture—-such a tease! I recently got my eyebrows microbladed, it’s a semi-permanent tattoo, lasts two years, and I LOVE it! Very subtle, my husband still hasn’t noticed, but I no longer have to draw mine in each day and worry about rubbing them off throughout the day. hugs~ love the blog

  22. Kristina says:

    I really wasn’t going to go and stare at your eyebrows in all your pictures but then you went and said it, and really that’s like asking someone not to think of a unicorn. So now I must take time out of my day to scroll through pictures and look at your eyebrows. My apologies in advance.

  23. I was so looking forward to pictures of your eyebrows!

  24. It just goes to show that you always want what you don’t have. My brows have always been thick and bushy and I have always hated them, as I thought they looked like a cat’s tail stretched across my forehead. I’ve always adored thin eyebrows. Sigh…

  25. Funny … I’m turning 37 and just was thinking I should give forever 21 another try ..it’s been awhile :).

    Is there an old post on your girls shared room with bunk beds?

  26. Credence Clavival says:

    Is the link to the Magna Tiles an Amazon affiliated one that you should disclose to your readers?

    • Dear Credence at blooblahbleeblahblow@yahoo.com: Under Sponsors and Partners info you on the blog, you will find this:

      To help support this blog, I sometimes partner with brands that we love and companies that feature products and/or services that fit with our family’s lifestyle. While I may mention products or brands that I love without getting paid for it, I will always disclose if and when I am being paid.

      Amazon Affiliate links may appear when referencing Amazon products that we buy or use which means that our family makes a small commission from sales purchased through those links.

      – See more at: http://kellehampton.com/contact#sthash.wUq6v3I7.dpuf

  27. Ever post, I adore you more. “Every year things are changing”… That’s the good news and the hard news of motherhood. Staying flexible AND out of Forever21 (because who are we kidding, 21 is looooong gone) is the best advice ever. My sis gave me the best advice when I had to mourn the short shorts…”when your daughters start shopping here that’s when you stop shopping here”… :) thanks for the cute photos to brighten up my Tuesday!

  28. I had a period where I filled my already plump brows in with a brown shade far darker than I should have, and all the pictures from that period serve as a reminder never to do that again!

    My nephew has those Magna Tiles and they’re brilliant, investment for sure

  29. Crystal Vazquez says:

    Nella’s wavy hair is so darling!! How do you make that happen?

  30. Dawn Henry says:

    I have followed your blog for years. I stopped reading for quite awhile just because life gets in the way. I recently began following you again and while I enjoyed your posts very much in hte past, I LOVE your new style. Being you, raw and honest is the best you there is. I am a nana and my littles have the Magna Tiles and they too love them. You can find them in many stores.

  31. Oh, the eyebrows. They are either too big or too little, too straight or too curly, too light or too dark. I love the girls who just wear them like they are. This made me laugh all the way through the article. Thanks, Kelli. Your way with words is refreshing.

  32. Ugh! I hate filling in my eyebrows. I only do it, because I feel like I should have been born a brunette, but naturally am (dishwater…) blonde. My eyebrows and lashes as SO stinkin’ light it just looks goofy with my brown hair (it’s not even like that dark). Anyway… I go back and forth between brunette and blonde OFTEN, because I seriously get sick of brow filling and mascara. I try to embrace the blonde, but then don’t feel like my true self. I’m 38… you’d think I’d be over that identity crisis. Or Maybe it’s just more from here? Gah!

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