Kindness for Kellan

It's been one year since Kellan passed away, as his 'angelversary' was on Monday (12/19). I've been messaging with Lori (and have been attempting to meet up with her for a week now), and she told me that her family really wants everyone to be kind to people in his honor. Everyone seems to be asking Kellan's parents, 'How can we help?', and this is it! Acts of kindness towards others shouldn't be a forced thing, or something that we do just to hashtag and blast on social media for attention. But I do feel like spreading kindness, and the desire for Kellan's family to see the kindness, is important. So I'm posting about it in hopes that you'll want to do something in Kellan's honor, too. Big or little, cost or no cost, anything goes.

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I was talking to Truman about ideas for acts of kindness, and he wanted to know if we have to do them for strangers or if we can do them for people we know. I said of course we can do nice things for friends and family, but stepping outside of our comfort zone and being kind to a stranger that might really need it is also an excellent option. We try to raise our kids to be thoughtful and kind no matter what time of year, no matter who is watching, so this is just a little more specific. Truman was all over it and wanted to write his teacher a complimentary letter first, then wanted to drop off cookies to friends. Done and done.

The first day, he held open the door for someone at a pizza place. Then that night, I made little cards from Pinterest, which talk about how to be a superhero with kindness. Kellan LOVED Superheroes, so that has become a symbol used often for many of these events. I can't look at a Hulk toy without thinking about Kellan and how he'd yell, 'Hulk SMASH!' when you'd ask him a question. Now Kellan is a true superhero, as his parents gave the ultimate gift of his several of his organs to those in need. I like to think that his magical power has to be 'giving life to others'. Superhero, indeed.

Anyway, I put a little blurb on the back of the card, to explain Kellan's story, and then we rounded up some candy and put it all in a bag. On our way to Lois and Tony's house that night, we hunted for a stranger that seemed to need a little kindness. It was literally 0 degrees outside and we saw a man standing at a bus stop, looking very, very cold. Cecelia noticed him first, and so Nate pulled up to the bus stop and I hopped out with the bag.

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I asked him if he would like some candy, and he said, 'SURE'. When he reached for the bag I saw that he wasn't wearing gloves. I asked if he owned gloves and he said he did, but I got the feeling he was living under rough circumstances. I wanted to give him my gloves, but realized they are pink and fuzzy and probably way too small for this guy. So I trusted that the candy would be a good start for him and he thanked me, as we drove away. New idea: small goodie bags that include gloves and hand warmers, plus cash---that guy probably just needed a few bucks more than anything.

The next day I got a $10 gift card from Starbucks in the morning, and then after taking both Cecelia and Porter to the doctor (more on the wave of Strep throat hitting our family later), we went to Target. As we were finishing some shopping for Truman, I saw a mom in the train aisle with us, without any kids next to her. I am assuming she was a mom, as she was looking at the trains, but who knows? I whispered to Cecelia, 'Should we give her the card?' She nodded, and took it from me, hopping down from the cart and walking over to the lady.

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I told the woman that Cecelia wanted to give her something, and explained that it's a gift card for her to use on herself. She looked completely overwhelmed but happy, and I told her that it's in honor of Cecelia's friend who passed away last year. The woman looked at me in the eyes, and she started tearing up, which made me tear up. Unspoken words of heartbreak passed between our eyes, and she thanked us as she walked away. I certainly hope she used that card for herself as a nice treat, and it was a really satisfying feeling to tell someone about Kellan and share the heartbreak/feeling of gratitude for this life. All of that in a few seconds of interacting with a stranger. Pretty heavy.

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I have two more cards made up and want to do a few more things with the kids in the coming days. But I'm also trying to do really small things throughout the days, like making eye contact and smiling at strangers as we pass. Letting people go ahead of me in traffic. Striking up a conversation with a dad at Target (yep, there three times this week for last minute shopping, oops) about Shopkins, trying to help him decide what his daughter would like best. Donating some of the kids' old artwork to seniors who are receiving Meals on Wheels, and might need some colorful scribbles in their lives. Just kind things that take little to no effort but can make a difference in somebody's day.

During this insanely hectic season, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. I know I'm guilty of this, although my heart is extra heavy this year when thinking about Kellan. So many people are stressed out and in a rush and seem so sad right now, and I think a small act of kindness could be exactly what they need. Obviously this is not a new concept but something worth mentioning for a specific purpose: remembering Kellan and honoring his family during this difficult time.

Details: they want the acts of kindness to run from Sunday 12/18 through Christmas. They'd love to see these acts on Facebook and specifically on Kellan's Facebook page. The two hashtags Lori's picked are #KindnessForKellan and #HonoringOurSuperheroKellan. Anything goes. Just be kind!

I also think that hugging your loved ones a little tighter and taking a minute to reflect on all of our blessings, even in the midst of stress, would be absolutely wonderful. I know that Kellan's parents would appreciate it, too.

Stitch Fix #9 | Tops and Accessories Only

It's been awhile since I requested a Stitch Fix box, and I figured that since it's sufficiently winter here and going to be a looooong season, I could use a few new pieces to get me through. I also just peeked and have done a total of six fixes this year, but two of those were in January, so it feels like it hasn't been too often. I forget how quickly you have to decide on what to keep in your box and as I'm writing this, I have to check out by tomorrow. I'm hesitant about what to keep and could use your help!

This time I asked my stylist, Kelley, to focus on flowy tops, long necklaces and booties. And she totally nailed it, as usual.



1. Market & Spruce Henri Ruche Sides Knit Top | $68

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Market & Spruce Henri Ruche Sides Knit Top | $68

First thought: love the gray, love the drapey front, vneck, and the length.
Market & Spruce Henri Ruche Sides Knit Top | $68
At first I wasn't sure if I was supposed to keep the neck line as is, like this....
Market & Spruce Henri Ruche Sides Knit Top | $68

But I'm pretty sure you are supposed to fold it down a little, like this....right?
Market & Spruce Henri Ruche Sides Knit Top | $68

It's soft and casual but a little different. It's nearly $70 which is not cheap for a light weight shirt, but it might be special and long enough that I can overlook the higher price tag. It could be dressed up or down. I wore it with the pearls and tall brown boots above to show it dressed up, but I bet it could be cute with a pair of lighter wash jeans and flats, too. I think it's just very 'me' and the 3/4 sleeves don't bug me like they sometimes do. I mean, they ARE a nice cop out for getting sleeves that are long enough to pass my wrists!

Verdict: likely a keeper

2. RD Style Jessika Cowl Neck Poncho | $68

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RD Style Jessika Cowl Neck Poncho | $68

First thoughts: I like the chunky fabric, cool cowl neck and shorter sleeves, but the hemline seems odd on me. Maybe the shortest part is just to short on me?
RD Style Jessika Cowl Neck Poncho | $68

I mean, I know it's a poncho and this how how they are cut, but it just makes me laugh when I strike this amazing pose. You're welcome.
RD Style Jessika Cowl Neck Poncho | $68

I took a few other pictures that really showcased the questionable torso length on me but I started losing light RAPIDLY. Who knew that at 4:10pm, it would be nearly dark in December. Lord help us all. Anyway, feeling 'meh' about this one although it had potential and I wanted to like it.

Verdict: probably returning.

3. Romolo Genevieve Stacked Chevron Pendant Necklace | $28

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Romolo Genevieve Stacked Chevron Pendant Necklace | $28

I pinned this baby and Kelley said it's super popular and always sells out, so she grabbed me one while they had them. Chevrons are kind of 'out' but you know what? Long necklaces for me will always be in. This one is nice and heavy and the chevrons move a little against each other. I really love it.
Romolo Genevieve Stacked Chevron Pendant Necklace | $28

It will go with a lot of tops I already own. Sneak peek of the next one in the box, too:
Skies are Blue Caspian Scallop Trim Cardigan | $68

Verdict: Keeping

4. Skies are Blue Caspian Scallop Trim Cardigan | $68

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Q: Can a person ever have too many open front cardigans? A: Nope. (not in my opinion, at least).
Skies are Blue Caspian Scallop Trim Cardigan | $68

I especially love this merlot color and the different scallop/see-through pattern around the front. Also, it's pretty heavy and a great length.
Skies are Blue Caspian Scallop Trim Cardigan | $68

Pretty! Not too 'Mr. Rogers' for me, either. Sometimes my open front cardigans are too grandpa-ish but this one is definitely more feminine.
Skies are Blue Caspian Scallop Trim Cardigan | $68

I could see this going with a number of tank tops and jeans, booties or tall boots. I even think it could go with a button up shirt but is a little bulky with all of that material. I love this color for fall and winter and don't already have a sweater this color. It is nearly $70 which isn't cheap for a cardigan, but I don't think you can find similar weight, length, and extra frill at a place like Target. Also, I own about 5 of the Target cardigans that are similar and do like them, but has shrunk over time and is much thinner. I think I will just hand wash this like I do with most of my Stitch Fix items.

Verdict: keeper

5. Steve Madden Tobii Bootie | $90

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Steve Madden Tobii Bootie | $90

I requested a bootie almost exactly like this on my Pinterest board and was excited to put these on. I didn't expect a black suede, thinking they'd be a brown or gray. Black seems dressy but I didn't think they'd look good with my Just Black skinnies from Stitch fix (they are actually navy, pictured in the first few photos). So I paired them with a lighter wash and then felt like the booties made my feet look even bigger than my size 9.5s.
Steve Madden Tobii Bootie | $90
Really, really struggling to get pictures with the dwindling light here, as you can see. BUT the booties are comfortable, have a low heel which I always prefer, and feel fairly luxurious for $90.
Steve Madden Tobii Bootie | $90

At the very end of my shoot I tried on some black pants and a button up denim shirt and liked the booties a LOT more with darker pants. They would be cute with tights and a skirt or dress....if I ever did that sort of thing;)
Steve Madden Tobii Bootie | $90

Verdict: torn, I think I really like them, but need time to really ponder if I'll wear them much.

Opinions? Suggestions? I feel like my style is super predictable by now and I'm okay with that. :)

As always, if you haven't already tried Stitch Fix and you want to give it a try, I'd love it if you used my referral link found here. And thanks to those of you who have already used my link, I hope your fixes turned out well for you. Not so well that you are struggling to justify 5/5 boxes to your husband each time, but good enough for whatever you want in a fix. I personally like getting about 2 pieces in a box---feels like a reasonable amount of new items without going totally nuts.

Christmas Anticipation

I think the entire month of December is *almost* better than Christmas Day itself. The anticipation of Christmas and all of the excitement surrounding the big event is what I really love, because there are so many fun moments and traditions to be had. Christmas Day is great and all but I'm a sucker for the entire month of December. Except for when our temperatures drop into the single digits, but let's not go there right now. (So cold all of a sudden).

Christmas pajamas help.
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We even got about 4 inches of snow one day this month, but it's been gradually melting ever since. I forgot how pretty snow can be and how much I like December, at least. (Not in April).
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We've gotten a real tree for the past three years or so, since both Nate and I grew up with the real deal and we wanted to do the same for our kiddos (and also the smell is unbeatable). This was the first year we went to an actual tree farm, complete with the experience of Nate chopping down our chosen tree and dragging it to the van. It was the cutest little place and had free hot cocoa, hot cider, cookies, face painting, and a craft for the kids. ALSO, Santa made an appearance so between all of that madness we had some very pleased children hopped up on sugar.

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The Friday after Thanksgiving, I pulled down our three large Christmas containers from the attic. The kids helped me decorate the inside of the house that morning while Nate was at work. Then Saturday we got our tree and decorated that same day. Sunday Nate hung the outside lights. We were on FIRE with Christmas decorations. We aren't always this on top of things but the kids are at perfect ages for Christmas magic. They were giddy as they pulled out all of the decorations and ornaments. They helped me make a paper link chain countdown calendar. We've been hanging the Christmas cards we receive in the mail. And of course, our Elf on the Shelf came back on St. Nick's Day, so the kids are going nuts for Candy Cane Jane. I almost forgot to move her on the second night she was here, so that's a great start.



Not all of the ornaments, we have SO many and love them all.
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Truman took these next pictures and is seriously learning about manual mode on my camera! And Nate is just being Nate.


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Regarding St. Nick's Day---does anyone else do this besides Catholics (current, or recovering) in Wisconsin? After posting a picture on Instagram, many people were confused by this 'holiday' and asked if St. Nick is the same as Santa. He is not, in fact, the same guy. My cliff notes version, as someone who had never even heard of this holiday before living in Wisconsin and moving into a semi-Catholic family, is that St. Nick was a pretty generous guy. He is big in Europe and kids will put their shoes out at night, hoping St. Nick will bring candy and treats and small toys. In the US, it's specifically most German Catholics that live in the supper midwest that seem to celebrate St. Nick. Highly technical research proves this is the group that participates, a.k.a. Instagram. Nate grew up getting some candy and a small toy in his stocking on the morning of December 6th. We've been doing the same thing for our kids, except I also like to include their yearly ornament, some window clings, Christmas pajamas, a new winter hat and gloves, and anything really Christmas-y that needs to be used before the big day to get the most effect out of these weeks.

This year we admittedly went a little overboard. Cecelia has been begging for a 'blow up like on Candy Cane Lane,' and Nate found a seven foot Santa for $34. We knew it would be a mega hit so we set him up after the kids went to bed on December 5th. I also got several things from Target and jammed them into the stockings.

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The kids slept like crap the night before St. Nick came. Porter didn't know why he was amped up, but he sure was amped. He woke at 3:00am, 3:30am, and 4:00am asking if he could get up yet. He also told me at bedtime the night before, 'Mommy, tomorrow you all come and get me from my crib. Then I get cookies, candy, tootsie rolls, apple cider, a Thomas set, and cake.' Seriously this kid!

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The big kids were also awake super early, I heard them talking at 5am in their room. Nate had declared they could come downstairs at 6am, since he was leaving for work at 6:30am and he wanted to see their reactions. At 6:00 on the dot, I heard Truman tell Cecelia it was time. So we all went to get Porter, and came downstairs. They saw our Elf right away and also the blow up Santa outside. I tried to get a video of their reactions but I was too tired to keep recording for long. ;) Needless to say, their minds were blown. They were extremely happy with their stocking loot, and only asked to have candy about a million times before the 8:00 hour. St. Nick's coming made for an extremely long day for me and the kids, but hey----it's all in the Christmas spirit, yes?

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Some other happenings: the big kids had their annual Holiday Sing at school this week, and it was unbelievably adorable.
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They both dressed up for their concert and Nate and I both rushed home after seeing a few patients in the morning, to arrive at the 10am concert. Tony and Lois came with Porter, too, and saved us seats (thankfully!). Cecelia's class was crazy-good for a bunch of four year olds and Truman's class was super intense and focused on their message about not eating Poinsettias, and how they were going to be nice not naughty. I find it so interesting that all of these songs rarely even mention the word 'Christmas'. I mean, I know it's a public school and Christ is out, 'Holidays' are in, since everyone's beliefs need to be included. It's just such a sharp contrast to how I grew up singing about baby Jesus in the manger, although I did go to a Lutheran grade school. One song Cecelia sang was 'We Wish you a Merry Christmas' and that might have been it for the 'C' word. It was every bit worth it too, with awesome hand gestures.

We have our annual neighborhood 'house crawl' tomorrow night, which is always a fantastic time (adults only, obvi). Next week I am chairing the Teacher's Cookie Exchange at school, which is a lot of work on the front end but hopefully not too awful on the day itself. We encourage the families to bake and send in cookies, so that the teachers can fill tins with a few dozen cookies with lots of variety. This way each family doesn't have to feel the need to bake cookies for the teachers individually and those that can do it seem to enjoy it. Then the following week I am volunteering and helping to plan both Cecelia's and Truman's class party. Again, I freaking love this stuff but am starting to realize that there is just a LOT going on right now. I still need to buy plenty of presents for people, although we might be mostly set for the kids' gifts. My mom and dad, probably my brother, and Nate's brother and his wife are all coming to visit us the week after Christmas. It's going to be a grand old time!

Truman's Christmas list:
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Paper chain link:
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We also decorated a gingerbread house as a family, it was hilarious and then Porter couldn't take it anymore and had to eat a bunch of the candy. The end.
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This time of year is busy and hectic, and overwhelming if I let it become so, and yet? I just love it. Especially with kids, Christmas is just the best!

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