Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Tang.

Beware of the Christmas unicorns. They're flying all over this post, and you're going to have to bat them off with a big stick.

So get a bat; prepare to swing.

Evidence A:

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Christmas in the Park, Bonita Springs, Tuesday night

B:

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Snow! Snow! Even if it's mechanically shot out of a street light blower.

And C:

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Gary found the Naples version of Christmas Light Holy Grail

I can sniff a Christmas unicorn from, like, miles away. And I feel it is my duty to share.

*****

We snuck out of the house in our pajamas the other night to go searching for Christmas lights. Gary found the muthaload at Flesher Farms, not too far away from our house. It's so grand, they have a parking assistant flagging people in. And then you get out of your car and tour the property.

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Nice, eh?

And they have reindeer disguised as horses.

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I think this is Vixen, evident from the strong snout and chiseled jawline. His alias is Skip.

You like Christmas?

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How 'bout them Christmas apples?

Upon being smitten with Christmas wonder in the form of piped-in country Christmas tunes and a garage transformed into the biggest Christmas village ever (and watching my girls' eyes get all twinkly), I did what any good friend would do--I called Heidi and told her to throw her kids in the car, STAT, and meet us. She was on the way home from a Christmas preschool program and her responsible husband insisted they needed to go home; school night, and they had homework. So she put me on the phone with him and made me convince him (I'm good at this). I was this close to breaking into a warbly, theatrical performance of "Fahoo For-aze, Dahoo Dor-aze," but turns out I didn't have to. Ten minutes later, they showed up.

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I'm beatin' a dead unicorn here, but holiday memories rock. Cross stitch it on a pillow and never forget it.

*****

Christmas Unicorn, take two.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I cracked because everyone was doing it, and they're saying the kids are loving it...

Meet Elf on the Shelf who made his debut, swingin' in on a candle this morning.

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You're supposed to name him first. I wanted a cool name--like Frank. Or Winston. Or Cornelius the Third. This elf's going to be with us for years, and his name goes down in family history. But as I was reading the book last night, Lainey smiles and blurts out that she wants his name to be Elfitty. "Elfitty?" I smiled, validated her suggestion and began to cleverly steer her toward more names--other names. Brett was secretly listening though and he interjected from the kitchen, "Kelle, don't you dare!" I knew he was right. I knew he was right. Let go of the reins--it's her creative, not mine.

"Elfitty. That's beautiful. Perfect."
So his name is Elfitty. Alright, I confess, it was really Elfitty Happy Santa, but I cut the "happy Santa" and she hasn't noticed.

Fahoo For-aze, Baby.

*****

I catch moments like these and, literally, I get a rush.

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They make each other laugh in the wagon. Lainey squeezes Nella's cheeks to make them into a funny face, and they both start cracking up. I freaking love it.

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*****
We've been making plans to return to Bob & Judy's U-Pick Citrus, and they kept falling through. So, it was come hell or high water today, and the weather happened to lay out the red carpet.

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My friend Rebecca and I drove a little ways on I-75, then a lotta ways on a long country road, then a little more ways through a tangled grid of dirt roads until we landed in God's country. Horses, goats, cows--and Bob and Judy who open up their citrus haven home for public picking.

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It was all kinds of lovely.

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The orange "inhale."

We ate snacks under the shade of an orange tree, lured the resident cat into our laps (didn't take much work), participated in grove races, and stopped to eat our oranges right then, right there because that's when they taste the best.

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Lainey and Beckham loved the game of pull, snap and fall.

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And Nella was happy to be in the middle of it.

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This is Florida, at its best--sun spilling starbursts through pockets of leaves and oranges and branches, the air thick with the ripe scent of tangy citrus, blue skies and the December crispness--not too hot, not too humid. And friends and cats and Bob and Judy's charming grove.

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Toto, we're not in Naples anymore.

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On the way home, we found an off-the-beaten-path country store. And, by country, I mean Country. We bought water and lollipops and stayed for an hour. Country store happens to come with a little bonus--an open field, a friendly tree, a tire swing and a homemade wooden amphitheater where the kids performed and danced for an audience of two.

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At the end of the day, we were happy. I thought a lot about homeschooling today--how much we learned, what we experienced, how good it felt to be out, doing, seeing, learning and how good it felt to be with her while it happened. There are days I think it might not work out and days like today when I think...it could happen. There are pros, there are cons, there is a bit of time before we need to decide.

Until then, there are adventures. And a frickin' elf named Elfitty Happy Santa who needs to find a hiding spot.

*****

Congratulations to the I Dream of Toffee $30 gift certificate:
Comment #175, Baby by the Sea: I love the look of lights on a palm tree. As usual, quite a pleasure reading your post...

Baby by the Sea, please send your contact info to kellehamptonblog@comcast.net with the subject TOFFEE GIVEAWAY WINNER, and you'll soon be richer in the delicious caramel corn department.

*****

Ya'll (I had a country day, I'm in the mood) remember that awesome t-shirt company, Okllo, that offered those great historic American tees? There is so much I love about these shirts--their message, their quality (nice thick cotton), the colored sleeves and collar. They're back this month in sponsorship with those same great shirts and some new art products for kids.

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The Abe shirt--seriously. I love his face all front and center. And give it up for Mama with his quote: "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." Lainey's sweet purple-sleeved shirt: Sakakawea tee

And their art supplies? I have a new crayon obsession, and I know a good crayon when I see it (I'm usually still coloring long after Lainey's left her coloring book).

Hello Stocking Stuffer, Stockmar Beeswax Crayons (available in blocks--great for O.T. beginners--and regular sticks).

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Okllo has an additional selection of quality art supplies for kids (we love our new kid scissors!) as well as their one-of-a-kind Great American tees, and they are currently offering FREE SHIPPING! Plus, get an additional 10% off using code ENJOY10. One lucky commenter on this post will be randomly selected to win a $35 gift certificate, courtesy of Okllo. Happy Shopping!

*****

Oh, it is late. Happy Dreams!

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317 comments:

1 – 200 of 317   Newer›   Newest»
Patti said...

oh gosh I haven't been first to comment in months, yippee!! :)

Patti said...

I thought a lot about homeschooling today--how much we learned, what we experienced, how good it felt to be out, doing, seeing, learning and how good it felt to be with her while it happened.

YES. This is exactly why we homeschool. Some days I am just flat out MAXED, but it is always always worth it for this very reason!

Stef said...

Elifitty is awesome! love the name. In our house everything gets named "fluffy" so count your blessings, Kelle :)

Shel said...

We have been resisting the Elf on a Shelf thing too, but I can feel myself coming over to the dark side. Elfitty is a perfect name!

Alzbeta said...

Elfitty, I love it :). From someone knee deep in snow, I must admit to a little twitch of jealousy when I saw the orchard pictures. Snow is wonderful and generally I love it, but my sweet has been sick and we have been inside for a week.

Meg said...

I love your Christmas spirit...and I think Elfitty would be good friends with our elf on the shelf named Belf! :)

Riley and Tyler said...

I'm new on this whole Elf on the Shelf thing...and then I started to watch the videos...

Might I add, very jealous of your orange hunt. Here, close to the North Pole, it was -25C with a windchill of -42C. Might I add, that that's cold. Enjoy your sun!

LouBoo said...

How you like them Christmas apples?!! Love it; you are high on life Kelle, it's infectious when reading your posts! L x

Jenny said...

Elfitty Happy Santa is a great name! Maybe she'll forget it by next year... ;o)

nicole gabrielle said...

Oh, do I have some fun things for you, Ms. Kelle!! First, I hope you have Pinterest because there are OODLES of ideas for Elfitty. This is my all time favorite board for ideas and I. CANNOT. WAIT! until next year when my son is old even to understand EoaS a little better!

Second, your photos of the house lights remind me of Peacock Lane, which my family will be experiencing for the first time this Friday when they are all lit for the first time this season.! SQUEE!!!

everydaymomma said...

our elf...Richard marx????? dont know where the heck that came from i am trying to convince them otherwise:)

Mrs Mason said...

Those babies need a cat! Catitty?

MoodyAlly said...

I have been wanting to do "elf on the shelf" with my daughter. As much as I hate to jump o any bandwagon, I think I may go ahead and do it! I cant wait to see what Lilly names him.

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

When we visit the grandparents in Florida we go picking- citrus, strawberry and tomato!
Great give away- My boys would love the tee's.

Laura said...

Where is this great citrus farm? I must go!

Amba @ Team Mummy said...

I love you're words, you're photos and you're girls! All so wonderful, so enjoyable to see all the beautiful sparkly lights too. I love taking my kids out to see the lights, such a big - yet small joy in a childs life. :)
xx

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Oh Gosh! The one of Lainey squeezing Nella's cheeks made me cry. I shit you not!

Alicia said...
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Emma Kay said...

Who knows, perhaps you can convince Lainey Elfitty sounds better when it's pronounced El-Fitty, like if you were saying P-Diddy. Then he'd be a pretty rockin' elf.

I've heard, but haven't really tried too hard to find out for sure, that we can't get the real "elf on the shelf" over here in Australia, and I've had a look for a plain ol' elf but came up with nada, so so far our elf has only caused mischief but is yet to be caught! It's great cause it means he doesn't have to do something new each night {cause we never know when he's here} and so far it has cost me ZERO dollars! Mind you, I've only done it once, but hey, it's a start isn't it? Our cheeky elf switched all our jocks around, putting one of my sons' in my drawer, mine in one of the other's, his in my husband's and my husband's back in the original son's. What I do really love about this particular tradition, is that it really can cost you nothing.

Alicia said...

Lainey looks soooooo much like her dad it's uncanny. The older she gets, the more she's becoming Brett's mini-me. Nella is precious. Those blue eyes can melt hearts. I think I'm having oranges with my breakfast tomorrow. Thanks Kelle!

Stella said...

I'm a sucker for Christmassy unicorns too! In our city, there is a street in which almost every house decorates up large with Christmas lights and things - so pretty to drive down at night! Oh Christmas Christmas Christmas...

p.s. fell in love with your Christmas party - feeling very inspired to hold one of these next year, thank you!

Lesli Temple said...

We have an Elf that is new this year, and his name is "Arfur", as in Arthur:) By the way, the sibling pinching of the cheeks happens in our house too, and I can't help but almost cry when I hear the laughter it brings! Such sweetness!

melissa said...

Oh, yay! Hip-Hip-Hooray!! You mentioned homeschooling. So hope you will do it, try it. You will be good at it, especially with what matters. And a shout-out to Patti -- well said, thank you for what you wrote!

Crystal said...

I love how you just spontaneously do things with your girls and your friends. You inspire me! And those crayons looks awesome - must investigate more :)

~C~ said...

We will start Elf on a Shelf next year, I hope I can keep up with it. And my 21 month old would LOVE those crayons. So pick me! pick me! pick me!

tatì said...

I love your pictures and the Christmas atmosphere that you are shoting !!!! I am impressed how many things you girls do in a day!!!!!!!!

Chelle said...

Oh Lainey's hair in that last pic!!! DIvine!!!

Also homeschooling, tricky choice. I'm a teacher in Oz and i also am questioning.. Experiences with me vs Being able to not only 'cope' in the hustle and bustle of a not-so-perfect system, but to thrive and succeed within it with my help.

Loved the US country pics, our Oz country is WAY different!

Claire said...

I may start taking notes on these posts - you are my mama-spiration (for the kids I have yet to have!).

Cxx

Aleksandra said...

it looks so cool :) Im waiting for snow, here in UK but I would love to have a one in hot place.
Greetings from Yorkshire.

Team Lando said...

Love the reindeer in disguise! And you caved to the Elf... I keep saying I won't, but maybe I should pick one up after Christmas before my kid is the only one with no elf to visit!

Gina said...

Loving the unicorns! :-)

*Jess* said...

Just to let you know, sometimes those Elves forget to move. Just tell the girls that he was either too tired to move, or he really just liked the spot he was in, or they were SO good that day that he didn't have to go to the North Pole to report to Santa. You'll need something to say, I promise :)

Viviana said...

First time I comment, but I look daily to see if you posted! My oldest daughter (I have 2 like you :) who just turned 5 has Aspergers and the little one is 19 months old, so far NT... I love your blog, your attitude and your girls. You inspire me to be more patient, more creative and to just ENJOY my girls more... Thanks!

Hazel said...

Can!t wait to read this post on my computer, the iPad is misbehaving. But the pics I saw, leave me wanting to find an orange farm (not likely in chilly Tasmania). by the way, I forgot to say how much I loved seeing a beach "oh" in your last post., and Nella speaking just cracks me up!!

medina family said...

You're always an inspiration to help me be a fun mom. THank you!!

YeamieWaffles said...

Excellent photos, you guys are such good parents. Merry Christmas guys, you deserve it!

Kathleen said...

We boarded the Elf train this year too. I'm having so much fun with it Here's my pinterest board for ideas: http://pinterest.com/kathleenn/elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

Jamie said...

Those crayons make me swoon a little bit, as do your precious girls. Love me some Christmas unicorns...that's kind of what we've got going on in our house right now. And I do mean IN our house. No FL sunbursts up here in the cold, rainy KY! Enjoy!

Nf1andprek-whisper said...

love the fact it's december and your in an orchard... I love the fact your thinking about homeschooling and I really love that you got an elf......

Brandi said...

I love the adventures you have with your kids. It inspires me to hop in the car with jammies too.

Happiness is... said...

Christmas is oozing! Woohoo!

I had a feeling that you were going to homeschool route. It's a commitment for sure but can be really the right choice for you and your family. Take it a day at a time. OMG, another ball for you to juggle girly!!

Peace,

Jennifer

Claire @ Scissors Paper Rock said...

Loving your red boots Kelle! And all your Christmas Cheer :)
Oh, and of course, your unicorn filled posts are my favourite....this world sometimes lacks MAGIC...so I know I never have to look too far when I need a pick-me-up, coz your posts always deliver :)
x

Debbie said...

I always smile while reading your posts and the photo of Lainey pinching Nella's cheeks extended that smile from ear to ear. I think we will have to call in an elf to our home soon too! Elfitty rocks!

Mama Bear said...

Such a good post. We have to secretly love that we can be wearing sweaters one day here in Florida, and the next we're in short sleeves, pickin' oranges and ridin' tire swings. And p.s. homeschooling is so much cooler today than back when ;)

Susan said...

As a 60 year old Florida native, I loved the orange grove photos ... just like the old days. Btw, my granddaughter's Elf is named Lippmann, the name of her neonatologist.

Southern Gal said...

Kelle, that picture of you and Nella is my favorite. As my grandma used to say, "I could just eat her up!"

Mrs. Hawk said...

We don't have an elf yet ,but I am hoping to name ours Adam :)

Sasha Taylor said...

The Elf on a Shelf is great! I too questioned it, but one look in his diection when the girls are acting up & a quick "remember the elf goes back to tell Santa how you behaved today" & it's a quick turn around :)

Oh...and our elf is called Hildabrandt - husbands! So Elfitty is not so bad :)

Maria said...

OH, BE STILL MY HEART!!! The pic of Becks with his arm around Peyton & Lainey? How freakin' cute is that? They all look so grown up! Beautiful! Love plaid on kids at Christmas!
You: warm nights & Christmas lights? Me: Slick roads & soggy decorations. You: orange groves & sunshine? Me: Heavy clouds, swollen with rain & freezing temps...Me thinks you win!!!

Kimberly said...

Could you do a post about your sweet dog? what kind? how old? and how long have you had it? ADORABLE

If These Walls Spoke... said...

This post was a blast, thanks for sharing!

Summit of Glory said...

some serious marrow sucking in this here post! Lainey & Nella - you are both growing into adorable little darlings. Perhaps Ellfity can ride in on a unicorn one morning? Merry December. xoxo

Summit of Glory said...

some serious marrow sucking in this here post! Lainey & Nella - you are both growing into adorable little darlings. Perhaps Ellfity can ride in on a unicorn one morning? Merry December. xoxo

Erin said...

I envy your weather! It's freezing here, but the ground is too hot for snow to stick...so in my opinion, there is no point in the cold!
I enjoyed your Christmas unicorns! Goodness knows they're flying around my house, too.

kcolquitt said...

Our Elf's name is "Joey". =)

Jen said...

Love the Elf on the Shelf Effitty! Very nice! We too have an Elf on the Shelf and his name is Ollie!
Love your Christmas light pictures!

Jade said...

Bring on the unicorns Kelle! I love a good unicorn-filled post, 'specially when it's a Christmas one! Love your girls in the wagon. I need to sign off before I decide to have #2...oh man, those sweet sibling pictures!

Arnebya said...

Smiling Nella always makes me smile. Lainey's happiness is just so obvious. And Elfitty is cracking me up. You can call him Sir Eldridge French in your head.

dldhome said...

Rock On Christmas Unicorn!

magali said...

Awesome name for the elf!!! My son wants to name him Larry :) great pictures looks like so much fun. Those crayons do look great for OT, I need them!!!!

Kim said...

Homeschool? Yes, do it! I'm in year four, with two boys, and I love it! Not that it isn't hard on some days but I wouldn't trade it for anything! And you'd be a fantastic teacher!!

~Shari said...

Sounds like you all had a grand time. I so enjoy your blog and EVERY.SINGLE.PHOTO!!

sarah said...

Whoa, there is so much on that site my kids (ok, I) would love! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

jen said...

have you seen the blog post floating around about someone whose children named their elf, "dick".
ohmyhilarious.
also. i'm totally jealous of oranges. the lake superior sign! awesome ... we love love LOVE camping there.
your love of the holidays might actually be making me a bit more excited this year. i'm kind of having a bah humbug year.
so. thanks.

April Vernon said...

Lovely post as always. We finally got our tree up last night, and we started our first year of Elf on the Shelf. Adam named him Chip.

Tricia said...

I LOVE the Abe quote! SO cute! I'd love to win :)

Cammie Heflin said...

I'm always looking for different mediums for Addy to experience, never heard of Okllo!

~Sam said...

Loved your post- you summed up perfectly what drew me to homeschool.......it's a scary leap but has been SO worth it for so many reasons in our sweet little home.

I need to go eat an orange now:)

The Lady said...

KELLE! You made me smile and giggle through this entire post. You are a hoot. I also held back a tear when you talked about the interaction between the girls. So pure and adorable.
Fahoo For-aze for-sho!!!

Christine said...

I like those block crayons....how cool.

Katy said...

Hi Kelle! I'm your Flint native, Randels fellow classmate! Love your post. Our Elf's name is Snowy. He has been with us for 4 or 5 years! My boys are getting older and still seem to get excited every morning to see where he turns up. Plus, I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and they had a gift bag from your Elf. It was great. Had to get two! Just in case they are starting to think Snowy has lost his touch!

The Adams Family said...

Those girls are beautiful!!
As always great post! You always make me smile! :)

Courtney said...

I am so jealous of your coat-less December weather! But it wouldn't be a Chicago Christmas without the white stuff Christmas morning. Inspired by your Christmas spirit... I added extra snowflakes to my holiday decor. I'm pulling it from wherever I've got it!

Kellie said...

do the t's come in grown up sizes??? because my 15 year old son NEEDS that Abe Lincoln t!!! jus' sayin'...

cakebake said...

We've been doing elf on the shelf for about 6 years now with a vintage elf that was mine when I was a child. We never named ours though and this year the 8 and 9 yr old asked me if I was the one that was moving him. Enjoy these years and even the goofy elf name!

Wendy said...

the photo of the christmas lights... man, how do you do it? Are you hand holding, or do you have a tripod (or monopod) with you at all times, too?? You rock!

Ali's Mom said...

Santa's watch cracks me up!!
Thanks for sharing your day of adventure - you do get around! We can all FEEL your enthusiasm - it's palpable.

Lovely Mama said...

I am in LOVE with the elf idea! You have givenus inspiration to go out tonight seeking the christmas lights in our negihborhood!

Sarah said...

The shirts are great- as are the Christmas memories, especially the unicorns! :)

Krista said...

Love the Christmas unicorns, I see them too :)

The Annessa Family said...

We got our elf on the shelf this year to start practicing for when baby girl gets home :) My husband has been less than amused with my antics!

Brooke
www.TheAnnessaFamily.blogspot.com

Erin said...

I'd never heard of Elf on the Shelf until this year- lots of friends of mine w/ kiddos have been participating and taking pics. What a fun idea :) And I just love her creativity in naming him Elfitty-- too cute!

Sarah said...

Our elf is named Buddy, because my hubby LOVES "Elf"...LOL. I LOVE the sister pics, so beautiful!

Sarah said...

Going orange picking in a wonderful orchard reminds me of being a little girl in my grandmother's apple orchard, only picking up the one's that had fallen to the ground!

f7314458-8dde-11e0-a66b-000bcdcb5194 said...

This post makes me want to move to where it is still warm. Truth be known, I am in TN and it was 67 last week. This week, a few flurries have been spotted. Love those historical shirts...going to check out the site now!

f7314458-8dde-11e0-a66b-000bcdcb5194 said...

This post makes me want to move to where it is still warm. Truth be known, I am in TN and it was 67 last week. This week, a few flurries have been spotted. Love those historical shirts...going to check out the site now!

Katrina said...

I wish I could go citrus picking! That is something we don't get to do in my neck of the woods.

Erin said...

I had grand plans for the name of our elf as well. In fact, ones that are similar to your choices. Until our 5 year old decided his name would be AB. No, like 'look at those rock hard abs', but just like it's spelled Eh-Bee.

Why you ask? Because she can spell it. And that makes it all the better for her to write notes to the elf. How could I argue?

Raegan said...

Elf on a Shelf is frickin awesome...ours is named "Granville" i can just see my girls doing it with their children when they are older. I love Christmas traditions..new and old...and like you, I am freaking obsessed with Christmas...those crayons will for sure be in my girls' stocking!

Erin said...

When I look at the pictures of your girls together I can see the love. Nella will teach Lainey a great many things and you know Lainey will have Nella's back forever!

Charlee said...

Literally laughed out loud at the "pull, snap, and fall" of Lainey picking her citrus! Ha! I love it! :)
As always...could have read your post 10 times over and smiled every time!

Lisa Brown said...

Great post! We have the same elf, and actually DID name ours Frank... at my 3-year-old's insistence, of course! :)

Sarah Broadus said...

our Elf is "Fluffy Ice..." and its a boy. So I feel your pain

Jenn said...

I LOVE that you are thinking about homeschooling!! I am in my 2nd year of homeschooling my 5 kids, which include a set of 4.5 year old triplets. Is it challenging? Yes. But is it totally worth it?? YES!! I love the fact that you were homeschooled, and would love to hear more about your experience - from the student's perspective! No matter what you decide, your kids will grow up to be amazing member of society, because you are an AMAZING mom!! :)

Jess said...

Our elf is named Elfy. ELFY! I was so disappointed. But I had to let it be.

I also keep forgetting to move him each night. He's just REALLY REALLY comfortable hanging on the stair banister sweetie! Haha!

Danielle said...

I absolutly LOVE how you can just call your friend and she and her family come to join you! Such great memories you are making with your girls!!

CurlyQ said...

Our Elf on the Shelf was named by my 2.5 year old. His name is very creative "Elf" got to love a literal 2 year old.

pakosta said...

1. I LOVE that your hubby stepped in and let her keep the name for the Elf! My girls still want the Elf even though they are 10 & 11!

2. I keep recommending the book Big Sister Little Sister, my girls LOVED it when they were little and yours are the PERFECT age to read this book! and maybe re-enact the photos and make them their VERY OWN Big Sister Little Sister book! they would LOVE IT!

3. I homeschool my girls. My 6th grader just decided she wanted to go back to public. Homeschooling is NOT for every personality and it certainly was NOT for her! Maybe if she had done it from the beginning though, not sure about that since she only did it in 4th grade. She was not thriving like she should have at home! My younger one though LOVES it and says she never wants to go back! do your research on it NOW and decide so you can start early, better to do it from the start! (my opinion)
4. LOVE LOVE LOVE the orange grove idea & photos! similar to an apple orchard, only better really!~

5. LOVE your Christmas posts!
tara

Ani said...

This post is so full of magic and fun, I can't stand it! The orange grove looks beautiful... I can almost smell the citrus now.

Melissa said...

Our elf is named gnomie because the kids had just seen gnomio and juliet. Sigh. Oh well, you can't win them all!!

I am so buying those color block crayons for my little almond eyed angel !!!!!

Chris & Mandy said...

I absolutely LOVE reading your blog. You are such a talented writer. I really enjoy seeing pictures of your smiling beautiful girls. I commend you on making holiday memories with your girls and traditions that they will always remember. That's what the holidays are all about! You have really inspired me to make family traditions with my little girl. You are truly an inspiration. BTW - I absolutely love the block crayons! What a great idea!

The Macons said...

Love seeing those 2 sisters. Its amazing how sisters communicate. Enjoyed the post as always!

Lacy Hope said...

Our elf's name is "Freddy", and I know what you mean about wanting him to have a cool name. I threw out all kinds of ideas, and after it was all said and done I was still thinking of cooler names than Freddy. haha So far he has been in the tree, reading a Christmas book, eating the candy from the Christmas parades, coloring a Halloween picture, and a few other random shelves and hooks around the house. He has been a lot of fun, but my daughter touched him the other day. I had to put him back in the "special mailbox that would send him back to Santa" aka the box he came in. And then the next day after making salt dough ornaments and painting them, Freddy was feeling the Christmas cheer again and made it back it us. lol Have fun!

Jillian22 said...

I love the idea of homeschooling but have never known anyone who has done it before. I would love to read a post sometime on your opinions and experiences with homeschooling... and for the record, I think you would be great at it. You would give those kids an education they would never forget. But who am I kidding? You already do!

dig this chick said...

Orange grove!

We so love those crayons. All we use and they don't break! Ever. We've had ours for over a year and they pretty much look the same.

Alyssa said...

My baby is 3 this year and I'm loving everything about the Holidays more than I ever have before! It's magical to see it through there eyes!

I'm also considering homeschooling for that very reason. I think I'm convinced I'm doing it even for just a few years... those precious few years when all they really need to learn is that there is a big wonderful world they can be part of.

My husband also reminds me that these days there are so many more homeschooler's it's easy to find a support group/teaching co op, and then the burden is shared among like-minded parents.

Your girls are cute as always! I love getting my inspiration fix from your blog!!

Jess said...

If it helps at all, our elf is Ballz Fireplace TheElf. I mean really. ;-)

Stemple Family said...

Oooooeee! I love me some Okllo Goods!

Anne said...

Our Elf's name is Man. Yes, Man. Elfitty would be a vast improvement. :)

Jessica said...

I hear ya on the naming of the Elf. Our 6 year old son went with Ormint - "because he looks like an ornament." Like you, I was really hoping for a Walter or something befitting our hipster elf. When I protested the name and made other suggestions my husband shot me a glance in the same way that Brett yelled to you. They're right though, this is their moment. Let.It.Be.

MPR said...

Elffity? I like it! Ours is Max Jelly. "Max" was chosen by the 4 year old last Christmas..."Jelly" by the 2 year old. I love that it forever freezes that moment in time. Love me some Holiday memories...

Deborah said...

Great Post. I grew up in Florida and the property behind our house use to be an orange grove. Your pictures brought back happy memories. Thanks for sharing. I got "elf on a shelf" for my house and my grandkids houses this year. My husband named ours Benard "Barney". My grandson's is Zimbabwe and my granddaughter's is Jack. We think Elfitty is perfect.

Cheri said...

Lainey's orange-picking outfit.... LOVE!!!

Janelle said...

As always, beautiful!

Deborah said...

Oh by the way, one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't homeschool my kids.

carrster said...

Love it! I am a Northern Girl tried & true, but the idea of skipping through fresh citrus at this time of year fills me with a bit of longing for some Florida sun (& warmth!) Looks like an absolutely fantastic day!

Jessica said...

Love, love, love your blog. I am now trying to be in the moment and enjoy the small things. I love Christmas too.

jujubird said...

My parents have a place in Bonita Springs, they are here in Portland for Christmas this year but if we are there next year? I want to go to there.

Kellie said...

Love those crayons! They would be perfect for our one year old!

Love is all you need said...

My little boy (3) is so familiar with your pictures that every time he sees it up on my screen he says "you lookin at pretty girls mom?" Ha! he is as much in love with your girls as I am.

natalie said...

My then 2.5 year old son named our elf Walter. Not sure where it came from, but I love it.

I've never commented before, but I've been reading your blog for quite a while now. Thank you! It has brought such inspiration to so many parts of my life and some understanding to what my brother and sister-in-law experienced when their daughter was born with Down Syndrome. But mostly, I love your photographs and how you treasure every moment with your family.

jenniwaka said...

It looks like Nella is feeding her shirt frog that orange--cute!

Danyiel said...

I am going to buy those crayons now, although I have no doubt little Fin will still eat them. I think we also need the Abe shirt.
Just reading this post, I could smell the tangy scent of an orange bursting open.

Wolfe Family said...

Okay, I just HAVE to have the ABE shirt for my 14 month old girl- my husband's name is Abraham and I would love to win some $ to spend on it!!! That way she can have something representing her daddy and her "angel mother" on the same shirt! Ha! If not, I just might have to splurge on it anyway! Cheers!

Debby said...

Such cute pictures of all the kids together. You have so much fun. I'd love to win some crayons for all my kiddos.

The Swanson Family said...

Those crayons sound devine. I love how you make the most of everything with your children and how no matter what you do the love shines through!

Jennifer S said...

I love those shirts! I wish we had an orange grove around here. My kids would have so much fun!

KP said...

i LOVE those crayons! and i love your blog. inspiring, as always!

Hailey @ "Me & My Boys" said...

This is exactly why I'm leaning towards homeschool too. But we have a little longer to decide. I just like the idea of experiencing instead of fill-in-the-blank papers.
Looks like they had a blast!

Jamie said...

Love the Elf on the shelf and Home schooling is Awesome!!!

Jamie said...

Love the Elf on the shelf and Home schooling is Awesome!!!

Sandy W said...

When reading your posts, I always wish that I had been there with you.

Denise said...

I love the pic of Nella eyeing Lainey's ice cream...reminds me so much of my little ones.

Lucy said...

It's been so long since green and growing happened up here in the frozen tundra of SD...your oranges made me drool.

Molly said...

Oh, beautiful, Kelle. I love love love days like this with the kiddos. I don't get them very often. But I love when the weather and the kids' moods line up just so to equal a perfect day of nothing much.

I really need to practice more with my camera. I'm taking my first class tonight!

motherhoodandotheradventures said...

Your post may have just pushed me into getting Elf on the Shelf for my son. I never had one growing up, but I see them everywhere now. With how much Lainiey loved your Elf, we may just end up with one soon!

Quiana said...

I think I'll cave into Elf on the Shelf next year. My daughter's 15 months now so I think a bit too young!

Sarah said...

Elf on the Shelf... I'll have to remember for next year. I love the traditions and want my girls to experience all of them too :)

Michelle said...

I love Nella feeding her shirt! So cute!!

Melissa said...

I don't think orange picking has ever looked so fun.. maybe because it is so COLD here.

Hillary said...

Wait...are those PINK DOCS on Lainey's little feet?!?!?! Be still my heart. Looks like you had a fabulous day. So many unicorns, so little time.

Jennifer said...

This is our third year doing "Elf on the Shelf". Ours is "Herbie". The kiddos LOVE him. Even my youngest who is two runs from his room in the morning to find him! Glad you have joined in on the fun.

Christina said...

I love everything about this post :)

Erin said...

Where on Earth can you get a healthy dose of both Christmas spirit and orangey Florida sunshine? Here at EtST of course! :) I love it!

We have an Elf on the Shelf, too, and his name is Elfis Andus, named after Texas Rangers player Elvis Andrus. The first morning of his appearance, he was playing a game of baseball with the Toy Story gang. Woody hit a fly to center, and Elfis was found sliding into second. Baseball rules at our house!

mrsg said...

We got our first Christmas tree (free!!). So we are getting in the mood over here too.

Megan said...

Love that it looks like Nella is feeding her orange to the frog on the front of her shirt!

Nicole said...

We're doing Elf on a Shelf for my son and niece at Nanny's house. They named him Cocklebell, and he's currently perched on top of a table lamp, watching them play nicely together.

Annie said...

What a rich experience for all of those children (and their mama's!) in the citrus orchard.
Love those shirts, and now great crayons to boot! I'm the one playing play doh and coloring after the kids have lost interest too : )

Oklahoma Mohrs said...

Ha! My daughter named our Elf 'Ja-anna Christmas Santa':) Cracks me up.

Gretchen said...

Those crayons look like something MAYBE our 1 year old won't eat! :-P I am loving the Abe Lincoln shirt, too. The sun flare in the orchard? Bliss.

Nicole said...

I love Elfitty! lol And I love that Brett had to reign you in... that's something my hubby will have to do in the future, I'm sure.

Chad & Cassidy said...

Jealous of your sunshine and oranges! I'm feezin' my butt off in UT.
Our elf Timmy didn't move last night either... oops.
Love your blog, I read your 1st post ever the other day and it's fun to see how much your blog has changed. It's inspiring as a fellow blogger and as a mom.

Meagan Kenney said...

Elf on a Shelf rocks! Ours is named "Bernie," and the kids love him! Elfitty is a fabulous name! :) Anxious to hear what you decide on homeschooling. It has crossed my mind a couple time, but I don't know if I am cut out for it.

Chad & Cassidy said...

PS I really loved Lainey's North Pole party :)

Sarah said...

this post makes me wish i lived somewhere warmer. Yes, here in KY, things are very cold and Christmas like, but you all get to actually enjoy looking at lights without freezing!
BTW, we made the home school plunge this year, LOVIN IT

Rhonda said...

Thank you for a Christmas pick-me-up, unicorn style! And for reminding me that all the tough homeschool days are worth it. Going to take my homeschooled kiddos out unicorn hunting today. : )

Ryan's Mommy said...

Can I just say that Lainey's red boots are killing me? KILLING ME. They are just so stinkin' cute!

Melissa said...

I really love those historical shirts! Just darling.

Thank you for the Christmas Unicorns.
I promise to never grow up and to never stop loving Christmas.

Lindsey Wolfe said...

So fun! I bought my son the Ben Franklin shirt and I love when he asks, "Momma - where is my Ben Fwankin shirt?" So cute!

Tina said...

I love days when we can put a little gravel in our travel!! And that tire swing...Love it!! We live a few miles from an apple orchard and we are so there every September!! Such great fun for the kids!!

Tina J

Amy Parris said...

We're hitting the lights in town this weekend. Can't wait.

Katy said...

Love.

Kristen said...

You don't even know how much pleasure I get from reading your adventures while I am desk bound in a stuffy office! Thank you!

Julie said...

It's good to know that I'm not the only one that has to make a conscious effort not to need things to be just right and instead allow them to do it their way. I'd love to dress my girl my way but I let her put on what she likes because really, who does it hurt? I want her to be confident in herself and her choices. (letting her help me decorate is another good example of learning to let go!)

jolie said...

You always inspire! We are currently homeschooling one of our 4, it's a trial...and even though there are some days it's like pulling teeth. I have to admit...I love it!

Tina said...

A few things here...

Kill all the unicorns you want, if it means you'll keep bringing us Christmas cheer. I love it.

We started The Elf on the Shelf last year; ours is named Sammy. He appeared the other night. You should TOTALLY YouTube some videos... "Elf on the Shelf caught on tape" and other such searches yield crafty videos that people have caught of their elf moving around their house at night. Seriously, it's howls. We watched some with our girls last night and our 22 month old was freaking out (in a good way).

Lastly, where is this video of Nella walking that you promised us oh so long ago? Give it up! I wanna see sister strutting her stuff!

Sandy said...

Thank you for bringing some sunshine and light into my day. Two sick kids, cold weather (though today, finally, some sun), and it has felt like a dreary week. Seeing the sunshine pics and kids in orchards makes me long for spring--or for a trip down south. Thanks for sharing the light!

Amanda said...

I've never commented before but I just wanted to share that my brother is actually named Cornelius the third, haha!

Amanda Buck said...

your pics remind of summer as i sit here in 15 degree weather:)

The Halbert Home said...

I am so jealous that you can wear tank tops and summer dresses in december!

NeeNee said...

Elfitty is perfect! Ours is Johnny. Now I just have to remember every night to move and hide him in a different spot. By the way, I love, love your Christmas spirit.

Kellie said...

I love the name Elfitty. It's perfect. :) Also, love those block crayons! They'd be perfect for my just learning to color little girl!

Tara. said...

Your life is beautiful. ♥

Brenda G said...

Our Elf showed up this week, too. His name is, Sparky, and so far he's scribbled all over the bathroom mirror and borrowed my camera to take pictures of himself. ;) He's a big hit.

Angela Morin said...

Kelle-

Elf on A Shelf (aka Jingle Bells) made his grand debut in our home last year when my boys were 8 & 3. He was an instant hit. Both Nathaniel & Matthew really believe that Jingle Bells flies back and forth between the North Pole and our home to report whether they have been naughty or nice. They also love to wake up in the morning to find our where Jingle Bells is hiding in the house. I am sure Lainey and Nella will love the new tradition you have started. Happy Christmas!

Julie said...

You know what I love about reading your blog? First it was Christmas - lights, decorations, the Elf and I could almost imagine it was here...you know, the Midwest where people wear coats this time of year and it snows. They you take us to the fruit orchard and we see sun, short sleeves, warmth and citrus...I realize it's not the midwest. You almost had me taking off my coat! Love your blog and all the seasons, rolled into one post!

AMags said...

Elfitty... love it! And, oh la la! We love us some Stockmar crayons... what a treat!

Hilary said...

Your outlook on life in infectious and inspiring. My daughter's chunky little hands would love those crayons! Hmm, looks like a great stalking stuffer!

Jannice said...

Our elf is "Nick Sparkle" - we call him Nick :) I had the worst mom moment ever the other night,...forgot to move Nick...make sure you move him before you have a glass of wine! I have to say, you seem like the best friend a girl could have...your friends are lucky to have you! Fun memories!! I have always gone back and forth on homeschooling - I used to be a teacher - my girls are in first and K...but they love going to school and it makes me nervous to be their teacher - with their studies! I do have a lot of friends who do it and love it. Its always in the back of my mind. You'll make the right choice when the time comes!

Erica @ All About Aleigha said...

I love Elfitty :) You inspire me!

Erin said...

LOVE those block crayons...I've been looking for something to give to my fine-motor challenged son. Those will do the trick quite nicely! :) Thanks.

Mrs Scratch said...

Looks and sounds like such a fun day you all had picking fruit. Can't wait til my little is interested in these things.

Andrea said...

Christmas memories AND orange picking- too good to be true! Love the pics as always. You're inspiring new traditions over here!

Rachel said...

I have wondered if you might homeschool, I think about it too b/c I love the learning adventures we go on but I wonder about Sam(he has DS) and what is best for him, Still trying to figure it all out. Good luck in your decision. Our adventure this afternoon take all 4 kids under 5 with my friend and her 4 kids under five to see the Festival trees at a fancy hotel. GOOD LUCK to us!

Genia & Shaylon said...

Awesome post. I love Christmas lights and unicorns and such. Merry Christmas.

Rebecca said...

I wanted you to know that you are one of the reasons I home school!! I was sent Nella's birth story on one of the most terrible days of my mothering life, by a friend who had no idea what was happening. I looked at Nella's little face and your writing, "I am not what you expected, but love me.." and it changed me. I was struggling so much with my 3 year old son, we knew something was wrong, but what? After 18 months of tests we finally found out he has a rare metabolic disorder, but that is beside the point. You helped me so much, and Nella helped me see both of my children in a new light. I slowly began to change and now I am a proud unicorn happy, sucking the marrow out of life mommy who homeschools so I don't miss a minute of this amazing ride. Thank you so much!

Krystal said...

Our Elf's name is Norman. It started out as 'Fly Guy' but then it morphed into Norman. It is so much fun watching the kids find him each morning!
As always, your posts inspire me to be better and do better. Thanks!

Joelle said...

That abe shirt is wonderful!!

Jaclyn Hicks said...

Everything about this post makes my heart smile....you are creating such wonderful memories for your girls!

Slow.Mature.Responsible... said...

Love your post! I've captured some of my happy mama moments as a foster mom my blog at onhttp://tammylgerber.blogspot.com/2011/12/ive-got-look.html

Thanks for sharing!

Kimberly said...

Elfitty is a great name. Love these pictures! They make me long for warm weather.

Crystal said...

Oh my goodness, have to have that Abe tee! Genius!

Loralee said...

I love those chunky crayons...wish I had thought of that!

Erin said...

Those crayons are awesome!
I can't ever seem to get over seeing your gorgeous kiddos dressed in warm weather clothes in December! My Pennsylvanian brain just can't wrap itself around the concept. I think maybe I'm just envious!)

Emily said...

Fabulous...
Off to find that Lincoln shirt for my own little honest abe...love!

Janet said...

I think I want to be your kid! You have so much fun! I feel flawed :(

Lisa said...

You would be (and really already are) an excellent homeschooling mom.
Thanks for the info on Okllo too, there tin box of colors look perfect for little ones.

Rojas Family said...

When I first heard of Elf on The Shelf, I thought it was a crazy idea. Who would pay $30 for a little antique looking doll? Then I saw all the cool stuff people did with their elves. So I got crazy and bought one.

I wanted a cool name too. But knowing my son, I knew it was going to be either really simple or really wacky. He went with simple and named him "Presents". Both of my boys love looking for him and finding him every morning.

Jolene said...

Ohhh..shiver and shudder! That elf gives me the BIGGEST creeps! Seriously, my children would show him the door! Anyone else think he's a bit creepy?

N said...

LOVE those shirts. Hopefully I will win, but if not will definitely buy one!

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