In Like a Lamb.

So the time has come. The countdown to Lainey’s Third Birthday Party (a proper noun around here), just two-and-a-half months away. And celebrations of life, in my opinion, are rare and beautiful opportunities to especially suck out the Lifecycle juice. And the way I like to pay tribute to that one, most precious day my babies entered the world…well, we start planning early. That and I’m just plain obsessed with children’s parties. I asked Lainey’s input this year, and she said she wants “a pink party” which I have elaborated into a pink, garden fairy party. So, my mind has begun to spiral into crazy fun project manager mode. My dad’s first suggestion: “I see a canopy. And tulle.” To which I agree. Along the course of the way, I’ll blog about ideas and how to affordably make things, where to purchase materials, etc. and post pictures of everything. So, I guess Project Birthday Party commences. Hoorah. Still can’t believe my little pixie is going to be a ripe three years, and I realized it today when she was talking on the phone with her friend Baylee and I saw her laughing, slapping her knee and saying, “that’s ‘ilarious.”

Her favorite daily ritual has become morning adventures to the lanai where she tends to her new little plants like a mama, shy-smiling proudly while she waters them, turns them and today…sang to them: The ippy ippy pider went up da wada pout.

I promised her a trip to the library today but found myself tied up with various tasks instead until tonight, forty minutes before the ‘libary’ closed, I gave in and was pleasantly surprised to find library night-trips are way more fun than day-trips. The children’s section was clean and quiet and mysteriously vacant. It felt like we had snuck in after closing and could have practically set up sleeping bags between illustrated fiction and biography if we so chose.

Which, now that I think of it, Library Sleepover has just been added to my bucket list.

I love this love affair with books she has and how chubby fingers clumsily turning thick pages of board books just short years ago has slowly metamorphosed into kid fingers carefully pointing to words, making up stories, asking ‘what ‘dat say?’ And the promise of this continued love. Of books and words and writing and late night tuck-ins where her heavy eyes will fall asleep to our reading great stories of legendary classics. And then someday, she won’t want us to read anymore but will instead huddle under blanket tents with flashlights, scouring books of her own interest. But, lucky for us…it’s just the beginning of that book journey and tonight, she was just my two-year old enthralled and happily overwhelmed by all the possibility a room with a sea full of books held for her (and for the poor librarian who had to redo the entire dewy decimal system of Aisle 6 after Lainey ransacked 501.3 through 587.42).

And, oh how I love watching my big girl read my little girl books.

She loves her something fierce but space between bodies is key as there’s a fine line between hugs and choke-holds…thus leading to poor little Nella’s “save-me” faces. I will admit, though, as two-year-olds will be two-year-olds, there’ve been a few times I’ve ticked Lainey off and to “get back,” she immediately heads toward Nella with an evil eye…like she knows my buttons, and there’s a split second where we meet eyes and I know what she’s thinking and she knows I know…and we both make a mad dash for the cradle trying to get there before the other, and it usually ends in the nick of time, her hand grazing the newborn just as I’m whisking the floppy babe out before she wrecks havoc. And I picture this all going down in slow-motion with the Bionic Man theme song in the background. Because every moment has a theme-song, you know.

But, mostly…she’s just sweet.

And, newborn is fleeting, as newborn does. I’m grasping and yet, at the same time, basking…in big, inquisitive eyes. Eyes that scan the room for my voice the moment she hears it.

We hold her – a lot. And it is now second nature to wipe counters, apply lipstick, wash hands, type, etc. with one hand whilst the other engulfs this perfect little body. And I am loving how this little body settles right into that hollow nook between my hip and the inside of my elbow, and when she gets sleepy, that body sinks a little heavier and her head burrows a little deeper and her shallow breathing settles into a deep “hmpppphhhhh” when she’s finally out. And the whole process accelerates my heart just a little more.

And, never mind the tipped over grocery cart, the wadded sock, the lone frog boot, or the ripped cushion on the folding chair that has replaced not one but both cool Craigslist wooden spindle chairs that split down the middle, splintered my butt and nearly caused a broken tailbone when it finally gave in and I crashed to the floor.

You know what’s funny…besides the shock of an unexpected birth and the pain of limitations and letting go of what you dreamed (okay, that’s kind of a lot), there’s just love…plain & simple. SO much love. And I told Brett the other day…You know, before all of this, at any point in my life, pregnant or not, if you would have shown me pictures of Nella and told me she was a baby with D.S. whose mama didn’t want her, I would’ve begged you to let us adopt her…literally begged you to let us take this child and love her ‘cuz I wouldn’t be able to stand that she didn’t have love.

Well, that’s not really a problem.

From a card someone gave us…and I cut it out and it’s propped up on a little shelf in the girls’ room.

My mama just sent us these new knits she made, and I am loving…

There’s a constant range of emotions, obviously, and some days I feel back at Square 1, but today? Today, I just felt so completely lucky to be her mama, proud to show her off at the library with no hesitation whatsoever…and like I’m proving to some cosmic force out there that I indeed can love this girl. I can love like no other.

(Side-swept hair is always referred to as Senator. As in Senator Nella. Did you ever know a senator that didn’t have a combed side-swept?)

This weekend we will be doing Spring mini shoots. And my assistant is preparing to help.

If you’re in the Naples area, we have two slots left if you’re interested (see here for details).

And after ravishing my pantry, scrounging for something sweet the other night only to land on a handful of stale honey nut cheerios and two hard marshmallows, I have replenished the candy jars with an Easter smorgasbord. While the Peeps properly stiffen, the pastel M&Ms call my name. And you know pastel ones taste way better.

We like sweet endings:

March will be good. March will be very good. I’m excited about picking up more work, potential blog sponsors, and writing Chapter 1. I’m really going to write this book.

Rockstars and such.

It has recently been brought to my attention that, two years ago, on this very blog, on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, I wrote the following in my post:

“I took all the twenties and kissed them good-bye tonight…tucked them away in boxes with all their sweet memories and sorrows…

…and once the twenties were safely stored and a proper farewell was said, I brought out the new box. I can’t see in it yet, but I can tell just by the outside that there is beauty inside. Sorrow too…yes, I’m sure. But there is in every box, and this one seems to come with more coping skills. More growth. More experiences. More challenges. More love.
I can’t wait.”

Little did I know…behind the flaps of that mysterious box was, indeed, love.

Quite prophetic, really.

I’m almost ready to cut my hospital bracelet off…almost. It’s just that it’s the last physical link to this entire experience and I still think about it like crazy…the shock still, I guess, and I’m wanting this thought process to die down because it is consuming.

The Power of the Mind.
It’s amazing what control we really do have over our thoughts and what tactics we use to control it. Like, seriously, envisioning myself as a rockstar really makes me think I am one. And I tell myself every day I am going to rock this day out. Even when I want to cry and stay in bed. It becomes such a challenge to myself to see exactly what I am capable of and usually, the more down & out I feel, the more I rock it out. And that doesn’t just pertain to this whole D.S. thing. It’s all the crap in life…just rock it out.

My sister says picture a person who models what you’re going through exactly how you’d want a role model to show it. Then become that person.

And that, I try to do.

With all that said, this blog has been the most necessary form of therapy for me and while I have had questionable views on various forms of socialization in the Internet before, I shan’t any longer. I may not update my Facebook status every two hours with what I’m eating or where I’m going, but I will give credit where credit is due…and that is the pure good in human kind and the soul balm you all have been in your comments and e-mails…even phone calls from ‘strangers’. I have come to ‘know’ so many of you and have been slowly healed by the photos and stories you have sent.

Do I read all the comments? You betcha. Every one of them. Often in the middle of the night from my phone while I am nursing the wee babe, but I have read them. And they are so incredibly touching. There’s just so many good people who really do care about others who are hurting. And so many good mamas and daddies out there who are all striving for the same thing. Who love their babies and want to suck every bit of popsicle juice out of this Lifecicle.

And who knows…the Facebook updates may come…

Kelle Hampton is going to the bathroom. Kelle Hampton is nursing her baby. Kelle Hampton is laughing because updating in third person is really funny.

I actually forgot, for a minute, what I used to write about on here because I’ve been using this as total therapy lately. I’m beginning to bore myself. We’ll get back to funny, random, beautiful moments eventually. And, for God’s sake, I’ll turn the sappy music to something more fun soon, but there’s so many clicks still being made to the birth story post and Play that Funky Music, White Boy doesn’t really jive with that kind of seriousness.

Needless to say, I’m craving that propeling force of Moving-on.

And let me make a tangent here for a moment to clarify the Holland thing. To all the beautiful Dutch readers, I would LOVE to visit Holland someday and my slander of wooden shoes was only referencing one of my crazy analogies brought on by this poem, a poem I actually think is beautiful…just a bit skewed as it likens having a special needs child to traveling to Holland as opposed to Italy. The only thing I have a problem with is the ending…that special needs’ parents will always grieve never getting to Italy…to which I say…GO THERE! No one said it was an imprisonment to one particular place. Perhaps it may take a little more effort to get there, but never say never.

In other news…

Our puzzle has been complete these past couple days because our much-loved Daddy is here, filling all the empties we’ve had while he’s been away.

And we’ve been talking a lot lately about how our family is fueled by togetherness, and I’ve needed that so much more lately…because nothing is more important than family. And, I guess the absence of that feeling has fueled it even more and caused us to dig deeper into what life is really about and what goals we will make efforts to strive toward. With us, it always leads to each other. To our kids. And to the little moments we make with them…moments that carve deeper impressions than money ever can.

I love our daddy.

This weekend was again somewhat chilly for Southwest Florida standards, so we cozied up inside enjoying cozy things like homemade lemon poppyseed scones (okay, I lied. They weren’t homemade. They were these from Cost Plus, but, with a smattering of butter, they were amazing), and long afternoon naps.

Nella is getting amazing with her neck muscles…something that’s apparently delayed with D.S. A little tummy time and the girl becomes a freaking rocking horse, froggy legs all hoisted behind her and that precious little head just a stretchin’. That’s because she’s a rockstar, you know.

And Miss Lainey. Her head cold gives her the cutest stuffy voice, but it comes at the expense of a very runny nose which, if you’re not watching, gets wiped on couch arms, dish towels and, um…Nella’s clothes. But she’s still a rockstar too.

And she hasn’t left Brett’s side since he’s been home.

And, perhaps this is the world’s most boring post…because I’m beating a dead horse here…but I had a bit more emotional blah-blah I had to spew before I get over the hump to more thought-out posts.

I did promise a few F.A.Q.’s. though.

A: Where do you get the knits?

My mom has made a lot of them and then people found out I’m in love with homemade baby knits, so they’ve bought them for me for gifts. But I have, over the course of taking newborn photos and obsessively scouring Etsy shops while pregnant, stocked up.

Some favorite Etsy shops:

The Bee’s Nest
Wanderlust Creations

B. Lainey’s Clothes

I get a lot from the coolest consignment shop here in Naples, Once Upon a Child, which is totally stocked with fantastic finds.
And then Baby Gap, Children’s Place, Costco (yes, Costco) and wherever else we might happen to find something on sale.

C. What does Brett do?

He sells software.

D. How do you find time to do everything?

I don’t. I can only juggle so many balls and, while I choose to keep one up, another falls. And when I pick that one up, another falls. And so on. However, I always make time for babies. For snuggling them, loving them, holding them…even if it’s while I’m doing something else.

Which brings me to bed time. The girls are jammied and ready and all the balls get dropped at this time of night while I cherish my favorite task of all. Inhaling their goodness…their littleness…and the opportunity of moments I can never get back years to come.

My littles await.

Tell Facebook Kelle Hampton is loving her girls.

Passport to Italy

I would have posted sooner, but I’ve been running in wooden shoes the last couple days. Cannot get out of Holland, and my in-a-funk posts are just not cool. I’ll spare you. Needless to say, this here totally blows. Like painful blisters.

But, as I told Heidi in my ten-minute tyrade on the phone this morning, there is no law that says I can’t get out of Holland and if the planes out are halted and I want to go to Italy, I’ll take these damn wooden shoes, smash them into splinters and use the wood to build a dingy on which I will paddle through the English Channel, so help me God, with Nella and Lainey strapped to my back until I land in Italy. And I will eat gelato and take pictures of the Roman Cathedrals and, by Golly, I will write the map of Italian tourism if I so choose.

End of tyrade. (standing ovation anyone?)

Well, hello there little tourist.

‘Tis with this passion I paddled out of Holland this morning and albeit a crazy day already (try shaving a leg with one hand while shaking a bouncy seat with the other…bloody cut-up ankles to say the least), I’m beginning to smell spaghetti and what’s that I hear? …ah, Pavarotti. Ain’t no one gunna tell me I’m banished to Holland. Nuh-uh.

And I asked myself what exactly would push me out of Dutch-town?

So, I began to make this little mental list of all the spontaneous things I’ve done over the years that make me happy…even if they are menial tasks like sipping a cup of hot tea in a real teacup or painting my nails a super sexy red.

And I, in a moment of bad decision making, chose the latter first. Needless to say, two seconds after spanning all ten fingers out in a moment of “damn, they look good” admiration for my manicure, I realized I’m a mom of two kids and Lainey’s begging me to peel the foil off her yogurt cup and Nella’s crying for her swaddle to be tightened and, well…three smudges and two polish remover-soaked cotton swabs later, my hands are…redless.

Minor setback. In fact my manicure failure only fueled my fire. I became the crazed tourist, madly making my way to Italy. Don’t get me wrong…I’m content with Holland, really. Windmills save energy and all, but, Dude, don’t tell me I can’t go to Italy. ‘Cuz now you ticked me off and I’m just gunna prove you wrong.

So, I went mad today. I took a bath with both my girls.

The Return of the Pouty Lip

I cleaned the house, I rearranged. I took a half hour to sit on the couch and look at our wedding album until I was crying happy tears and remembering just how awesome that day was (I’ve decided heaven is just going to be one big rewind of our wedding day…except our babies are with us too). I dug through my closet and found my favorite tweed linen pants I bought before I was pregnant and…voila, they fit. I curled my hair, curled my lashes, and then curled my lips into a big fat pout and told my mirror self convincingly that I was fabulous and bound for Italy. I took pictures and journaled and caught up on some editing. I read books to Lainey and sang songs to Nella. I listened to Ingrid Michaelson and pretended I was on stage with her…and I sang really loud…to outdo her, you know. I changed the sheets and sprayed forget-me-not linen spray to remind Brett when he comes home from Atlanta tonight that I indeed forgot him not. I texted him that he, just by being he, makes me so entirely happy. I read Lainey the story of when she was born…and made it through without crying. I did a cartwheel in the front lawn just to say I did and then watched Lainey as she attempted to copy me with the cutest up-legged crooked tumble.

…and somewhere between slipping on my linen pants and watching my little gymnast do a tumble, I heard the pilot…

…Welcome to Italy.


And now that I know I beat the odds and went to Italy and can go there anytime I please, I’m fine to settle back into the comforts of Holland.

And, for the record, look what shoes I’m wearing today…

See what those soles are made of? That’s right. Wood, my friends. If I’m wearin’ wood shoes, I’m gunna style ’em up and do it my way.

…and a few pics…

Reading Books to Little Sister in the Morning…

Playing Hide-and-go-Seek with friends…

Happy Friday.

P.S. I will answer some F.A.Q.’s in next post re: baby knits and such.