Goodbye Red Caboose

It’s been said that the number 7 signifies a completion of some kind: a divine mandate has been fulfilled.

After 7 successful years of business, Red Caboose will be closing the doors this Sunday, May 20th.

The building/business was sold in 2016 so although I have known about this day for over a year, I still write this post with tears in my eyes as I have loved the Red Caboose as many of you have.

I’ll be completely honest. I didn’t want to move to Montana. I was living the dream [so I thought] in Nashville, Tennessee. I was singing/ writing/recording and learned much about photography from some of the best in the industry…..all the things that I’ve loved doing since I was little.

What changed my mind about Montana?

After my dad unexpectedly passed away, I was reminded how short our life is here on earth. I laid my career and dreams down…..& followed my husband’s lead……to Whitefish.

I had no idea what my days would hold for me here, I actually believed that I’d be working a 9-5 office job in a basement with no windows. For real. That’s what I initially envisioned would be waiting for me here.

Man, was I wrong. So wrong.

It didn’t take long for me to see that there was an obvious void in our community. This town needed a family-friendly, late night spot where people could gather, talk about life, and recharge for a new day without taking up a table at a restaurant [I waited tables for years, and I know the way to making money is turning those tables!]

From day one, the vision for the Red Caboose was to provide a warm and inviting place that offered late night hours and a change of pace. Even when our last customer came in at 8pm…..we would still close at 10pm. We never closed early. Eventually people caught on, trusted us and began to share their evenings with us, and it was so amazing to witness this happening.

The 5-year-olds are now turning 12! What an honor it has been to see the kids in our community grow up. We’ve been part of many birthday parties, anniversaries, date nights, family vacations, proms…..and it’s been a great privilege knowing that we’ve provided the space and electrical outlets for you to build your own careers and dreams!

I had no idea what to expect after I turned on the open sign on that grand opening day, other than I wasn’t sure who would come in for frozen yogurt on that cold February day. I didn’t know I’d fall in love so easily with Whitefish, our community and operating a cozy little coffee  + frozen yogurt shop. I can honestly say this adventure far exceeded my expectations in every way.

I’ve put my heart and soul into the Red Caboose and although this is an extremely bittersweet season for me, it’s time to re-direct my focus on raising my own sweet babies and tending to other creative ideas that have been put aside over the course of the past few years, yet burning in my soul. I am at peace with this season and I look to my future with great anticipation.

Thank you for opening your heart to a Nashville transplant who laid some roots down on Central Ave in Whitefish…..who went against the grain and brought in Stumptown Coffee from Portland, OR.

In the beginning, many people questioned whether frozen yogurt would make it in Montana, where we see more snowflakes than sunshine. It was never just about the frozen yogurt and I wholeheartedly believe our regulars, the ones who caught on to the bigger picture would agree.

As my team of baristas have heard me say at some point in every single staff meeting……

we are more than frozen yogurt & coffee.”

The Red Caboose was a vehicle to bring people together. It was a beautiful thing to be part of. I am forever thankful to have been entrusted with such an assignment. Life is truly enriched by service and loving well. We all have hopes, dreams, pains & joys.

I’d love to see you, hug you and hear how the Caboose has been part of your life. Feel free to shoot me a message &/or swing by this weekend. The kids and I will be around, soaking in every last bit of our time left at the shop.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thank you for supporting our family and business. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for doing life with us and loving us well.

As we navigate this season of change, please keep us all in your prayers. I truly believe the best of days are ahead of us……we’re just taking one step at a time right now.

Continue to follow along on our family adventure…..the Red Caboose Instagram & Facebook pages have always been a place where we’ve shared our lives. We’ll continue to do that! You can also follow my personal Instagram page as well…..for more day to day updates and future happenings.

Can’t wait to share what’s next……



photo by Jeremiah & Rachel

Camille P - May the Lord keep and Bless you on this new journey in your life! The Red Cabiose is my favorite place to meet with a friend that is quiet and homey atmosphere to sit and chat and have a cup of coffee or tea. It will be missed!
I wish I had known your were from Nashville! We moved here 5 yrs ago from Franklin! Your spit would have been a great little music spot! My daughter and husband and dad play Americana Bluegrass in the area and it would have been perfect for them and others we know! 🙁
Many blessings on your new journey!


Mike - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith. You finished well Keli.
Complete your journey


Brian F. - Can you tell us who bought the property, or what it is going to become?


Alex Perrier - Hey Kelli! While I’m saddened to see Red Caboose gone, I have great memories of visiting it and Montana. I wish I could’ve seen you there. I’ll second Brian in admiring the building. Are you selling the red caboose? I thought I could use the building for something special, like an arcade. Can it be taken apart and reassembled in Canada? I’m interested, as I saw locomotives in Winnipeg and Ottawa that are similar. In any event, I hope to hear back. God bless you.


She’s here! At long last…..I’d love to share our birth story with you! You’re about to read one of my most empowering moments I have ever experienced in my life. Here we go….xo


We prefer to not find out the gender of our babies at the ultrasound appointment. Instead, we have the tech [Thank you Jessy!] write it out for us and seal up the envelope. We pretty much torture ourselves all day…until our dinner date that same evening. It was just the two of us…..mommy and daddy….at Latitude48, where we opened up the envelope.


We were thrilled. And mama cried……happy tears, of course.

Fast forward to the morning of October 21, 2016 [our due date].
Waking up with a stuffy nose was pretty common for me during both pregnancies. It wasn’t a cold, but just extra congestion, I guess. I got up to blow my nose….and felt something else dislodging down south. I knew exactly what this was, but I still “googled” it…..and sure enough it was the mucus plug [go ahead and google it yourself- its amazing what people put up on the internet]. I felt fine, but excitement grew as I knew this was the beginning of a birth story!

It was a gloomy day out and Ezra had the day off from school… we called it a cozy day at home, watching movies….AFTER a drive to Krispy Kreme [which has just opened up about a week prior]. I had Ezra take a photo of me before we left the house, mainly because what I was wearing out was absolutely ridiculous [and I had to send my sisters this photo via text], but it’s special as it’s the last photo taken of me pregnant!

At this point I wasn’t sure how or when things would progress so I tried to just enjoy the day just the two of us……which we did!

These were so worth the drive….

From here on out…..there’s not many photos as you’ll soon read why….

Nothing more happened all day. We just rested on the couch and watched movies. I was seriously soaking in this day- just me and Ezra.

Reed brought dinner home and it just so happened to be Taco Del Sol. This was exactly what I craved at the beginning of this pregnancy so looking back on this last meal….we came full circle. Around 9:30pm Reed decided it was time for bed. Although I wasn’t tired, it crossed my mind that I should get sleep…..this baby was definitely going to be coming soon and I should be rested!

At exactly 10:20pm I experienced my first contraction.

OH MY GOODNESS! I knew this was it.

Every mom before me would say “you just know” whenever I would ask “How do you know you’re really going into labor?” They were right! And I KNEW this was it. I immediately grabbed for my phone and opened up my Baby Center app, which had a contraction counter. I recorded this first contraction and every single one thereafter, up until I left for the hospital.

I’ll just pause here and explain Reeds role in our birth plan. He was not going to be my birth coach. He wanted to support me, but in other ways… refilling my cups of ice at the hospital ect….he was pretty traumatized from Eras birth, mainly because we didn’t have any support and we had NO IDEA what we were doing. This time around….the Lord provided not only two new friendships during this season in my life, but two women [Brooke & Abigail] who are passionate about birth…who would become my birth coaches.

*Side note- Abigail is a mother of 6 beautiful daughters, all birthed at home and one was delivered by the legendary Ina Mae. I was in good hands, to say the least.

I never did wake Reed up while I began to have contractions. Not only was I committed to “sticking to the plan,” but it honestly never crossed my mind. As soon as this first contraction happened……a serious focus came over me. I never even took a breathing class, but breathing instantly became my focus…the very thing that got me through every single contraction….from the beginning to the end.

I labored in our bed from 10pm until 1am [yep, Reed is still fast asleep].My contractions started getting a little more intense and closer together so I thought it would be best if I moved downstairs.

Ok, so can we talk about the time in between contractions?!? I had no idea what a relief that time is. I mean, it was a few minutes of no pain and I either caught a quick 7 minute nap or I just enjoyed the  burst of energy. INCREDIBLE! I was not expecting this at all. To go from not being able to walk or speak to feeling like I could throw on a load of laundry is still so unbelievable to me.

I labored downstairs on my own from 1am-5am. So, thats about 7 hours of laboring on my own. Sounds like quite an experience to be on your own…..but I never felt alone. I felt the presence of the Lord very near to me. There was no fear. I never felt the need to call or text people- it just felt right to embrace this part of a sacred life experience on my own.

Never once was I scared. I wasn’t ever thinking of the actual delivery part at this point either. I just focused on the present and prepared myself for the next contraction. That’s it. I also just fell into the presence of the Lord.  There was a peace surrounding my mind and about trusting my body and ultimately trusting the Lord- that His eye was on me and He would see me through this. I believed with all my heart. My prayer during my entire pregnancy was that I would have a fearless labor and delivery. My birth plan was to trust my body. I was created to have babies…..I wanted to allow myself to walk in full faith and strength….into the unknown.

I experienced pain and there were definitely moments where I thought to myself….”I can’t do this.”

Around 5am Brooke and Abigail arrived at our home. It was dark outside. There was 1 light on in the house and I had lavender essential oil diffusing in the kitchen. I remember the environment well. It was peaceful. All I could hear was my breath. When the ladies arrived… contractions were definitely more on the intense side and closer together. As soon as they walked in the door…..they walked quietly over to the couch and sat on each side of me. When another wave came over me…..they breathed alongside of me. Their breath matched mine and I vividly remember thinking “I CAN DO THIS” right smack in the middle of that contraction. It’s AMAZING what support does for our heart and soul.

Around 5:45am I was having contractions about every 5-7 minutes. I had become nauseous at this point and eventually threw up once or twice. Abigail suggested that I call my OBGYN and let her know that we would be headed to the hospital soon. Like I mentioned earlier- I felt like a million bucks in between contractions….so much so that my Dr questioned how far along I really could be, while we were on the phone.

She said “Kelli, you seem really calm right now.”

I said “I know! But Im calling you in between a contraction, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to speak to you.”

She told me to head on in…..

If you’re still reading this……this is where it gets good, funny and just mind-blowing!

So, I needed to grab my hospital bag which was upstairs in our bedroom. There were toiletries that I had yet to pack because I was still using them daily. So…..up the stairs I went! As I began to take steps…..I could tell things were shifting. I had a contraction half way up the stairs and again while sitting at the foot of our bed. And in case you were wondering…..yes, Reed is still asleep. I remember thinking how peaceful this process has been as I was sitting on the bed and both Reed and now Ezra were fast asleep as I was breathing through very intense contractions.

I grabbed my things…..and began to head downstairs. Once again….not just one, but two contractions as I walked down the stairs. I barely made it to the leather chair in our living room….I needed to sit down and as soon as my contraction hit…..I not only need to thrown up, but I had to go to bathroom. Sure enough……I ran to the bathroom and peed all the way there! WHAT WAS MY BODY DOING?!? I felt so out of control, yet in control. It was strange. As I was kneeling over the toilet, Abigail offered to bring me a new pair of sweatpants before heading to the hospital. She asked if Reed would know where to find what I needed…..and I laughed. I wasn’t sure, but there was no way I could walk back up those stairs. I trusted that Reed would figure something out.

When Abigail returned….not only did she have the tiniest pair of Forever21 leggings in her hand, but she had THONG UNDERWEAR!!! ARE YOU JOKING ME, REED?!?! WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?! I definitely wasn’t laughing in the moment [although I have laughed for hours about it now], but my focus was so laser sharp there was no time for shenanigans. I picked myself up off the floor and bee-lined it back up the stairs and changed my clothes.

Although it seems crazy that I walked back up the stairs….Im so happy that I did. By this time, Reed had hopped in the shower and Ezra was awake. I stopped to hug and kiss my baby boy. I told him I was heading to the hospital and that I would see him there and that baby sister was coming. I still remember seeing him on the bed. He was my 4 year old. My baby. He still looked small to me. Having that one last look at him and moment with him…..just him and I….was super special.

Once again….contraction after contraction as I was heading up and down those stairs!

We got in the car and headed straight to the hospital. Brooke and Abigail were prepared! They had a towel folded in the front seat, along with a trash can! I probably had 3-4 contractions on the way to hospital, which is only about a 7 minute drive from our house. We were all just breathing together.

We parked. I got out…and walked quickly inside. I sat down on the bench in-between the two glass entry doors and breathed through another contraction. I walked up to the birthing center registration desk and experience what felt like a scene from Zootopia, you know….the Sloths! Oh my gosh!

I had 2 more contractions at the registration desk [almost threw up in the waiting room]……and another while walking down the hall towards the nurses desk.

These next moments here…..could have changed the course of my entire experience.

I looked up at the group of nurses standing at their station and I wondered who would be assigned to me.

“Lord, please appoint the perfect nurse for me” is what I prayed.

When the older nurse with the two braids and glasses walked towards me…..I knew immediately that she was the one. It was confirmed when another wave came over me and instead of raising her voice for help……she took a few steps towards us and smiled. I knew she knew what we were about. As Brooke and Abigail held me up and were breathing alongside of me…..this nurse [much love to you Jill] began to do the same and when it passed she said in the kindest voice “your baby is coming.”

We walked into my birthing room and as soon as I sat on the end of the bed…..another wave came over me, but this time I had the urge to push!!!!!


I still had no idea what this meant. As I said out loud that I had to push….I was pushing. I honestly wasn’t sure what was happening or how close I was to delivering my baby. Deep down inside I really believed my nurse was going to tell me that I was dilated to a 5. Never EVER did I think I’d walk into the hospital and be ready to deliver my baby within minutes! She asked if I had a healthy pregnancy… there was no time for IV’s to be placed. She asked about my birth plan and Abigail spoke on my behalf and answered “As natural as possible.”

When I heard those words come out of Abigails mouth I got a little nervous. I mean, would I REALLY be able to pull off a natural birth? I was definitely going to give it 100%, but I wasn’t fully sure of myself. This here is the reason us women need other women in our lives, especially during a time as this. They believed in me….more than I was believing in myself.

Well, I still had my pants on! And my sweet nurse just said “Well, if you’re pushing…we gotta get those pants off!” Once again, my nurse was so calm….and was just the most perfect addition to my birth team.

I pushed twice before my Dr even arrived. She was clearly shocked to see that I had progressed this far along- on my own- in the comfort of my own home. There was no time for talking at this point… baby girl was on her way!

I just have to say….even at this stage of labor…there was still a peace over me. I felt so calm and collected. I was very aware of my surroundings and what I needed to do.

As I pushed again…..I quickly glanced around the room and thought to myself “Reed isn’t here!”  I wondered if I could stop the process- just suck up the baby for a moment. NOPE! Not happening. I had to re-focus myself and stick to the plan. I was breathing deeply at this point, I actually needed to change my breath to short pants of breath. Our babies heart rate was beginning to drop so I really needed these final pushes to bring her earthside.

I started to question myself- thoughts were quickly coming and going….one of them being if I could just not push anymore and buy some time….or just hang out a bit. Obviously not an option. For a moment….I felt in between two worlds and a mountain in front me as I was faced with a choice. No one could do this for me. I had the best of help on both sides of me….even my Dr, who I was locked eyes with. I spoke to myself….”You can this, Kelli.”

Next, a low groan accompanied my final pushes. I had never heard this sound come out of me before. Once again, Brooke and Abigail were on each side of me…..matching my every breath and groan. I remember Abigail calling it the birthing groan. They were so in this with me….I was not on my own.

Im not sure how many more times I pushed, but what I do know is that I checked into the hospital 6:55am, my Dr broke my water at 7:14am and our sweet baby girl was born at 7:48am.

The first words out of my Dr’s mouth were “you have a red head!”


My Dr was handing her to me in mid air when in come walking Reed and Ezra! They were RIGHT ON TIME! It could not have been better timing and I love that Ezra was there too! The three of us were looking at the 4th member of our family, together. That moment is a forever one. So special.

She was 8.06 pounds and 19 1/2 inches long…..and perfectly healthy! Praise God!

The story behind her name // IMOGENE JOY
We have this thing…we want to see our baby before giving an official name. For 7 straight months the name on the top of our list was Esther. One week before she was born….I was talking with a friend that inspired the name IMOGENE. Reed had suggested a few times that my middle name [Jean] be part of our daughters name. My moms middle name was Jean and my grandmothers first name was Jean. So, although its not spelled the same…we refreshed it and made this into a family name. As soon as we saw her face and her wild ginger-y hair……we both looked at each other and agreed that IMOGENE was the perfect name for her. JOY was a word spoken over me during my pregnancy [thank you Cameron, Heather & Vanessa] so it seemed fitting to include this promise in her name.





For hours and days following….I was constantly reminiscing about my birth story. It was special to have Brooke and Abigail there to recount all the sweet details….as well as make phone calls telling my friends and family about what I had just done.


If you know me at all, you know how HUGE this is for me. There was a time when I thought about not having children, mainly because I didn’t want to face the pain of childbirth….or spending time in a hospital.

My birth experience is my experience. It doesn’t make me better than anyone or my story more powerful than another birth story. The fact that us women grow a baby in our bodies for 9 months and deliver them earthside, regardless of how it is done… a miracle! This birth has empowered me personally. What I set out to do and put my mind to…..has been a beautiful testimony to me that I [we] are capable of more than we think we are. And that God is a God of love and redemption. I needed this. This story is mine and was beautifully designed for me….for such a time as this.

Im proud of myself. Im proud to have faced years and years of fear. Im proud to have faced the unknown. Im proud to have pursued support for this pregnancy, labor and delivery. Imogene’s birth story is drastically different than Ezras…..I learned a lot from my first go around and I knew I wanted something different. More than that….I needed to experience something different and the Lord provided every step of the way. As my sweet nurse Jill said…..I wouldn’t have had this birth story without Ezras birth story. I love how life is so intertwined and God always works all things together for good.

I would have a million more babies the way Imogene was born.

Ezra is praying for another baby…..mainly because he misses my belly.

For now….we are enjoying and adjusting to being a family of four.

Thank you Jesus for this gift of LIFE. We so needed this.




Christine Owen - I bawled my eyes out reading this list. Thank you Jesus for this special gift of Imogene and for Kelli’s beautiful birth story. God you are so good!


Amy - I absolutely loved reading this!!!! So proud of you and very thankful God provided you w/ such a great experience. What a beautiful baby girl and family!!
Miss you friend.
❤️ Amy


Brittany Zadra - What a beautiful birthing story and great job Kelly💞💞 God bless your family of four❤️

Ezra’s First Field Trip!


Last week was an exciting one. Not only did Ezra go on his first field trip, but he got to ride “THE BUS!!!!”

Ezra has always been obsessed with school busses….and to this day, still sings and watches “The Wheels On The Bus.” Its a thing….and I love it! I know that before long, I won’t be hearing him sing songs like this anymore. He’ll move on….

His Pre-K class went to the adorable Sweet Pickin’s Pumpkin Patch. What made it even more special is that Reed and I both got to go too! Not very many dads get to take time off of work for things like this… we were super thankful to spend the morning with daddy.

It’s been fun seeing Ezra interact with his classmates, while making his own little friendships. Theres 8 kids in his class….and they are adorable.



Time For Bed, Sleepyhead


This month, we [kelli and vanessa] have the honor and privilege to review another great book by Zondervan. Time For Bed, Sleepyhead is written by New York Times bestselling author and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen. This cozy bedtime book uses visualization techniques in the storytelling to encourage a child to stretch and even exhaust their imaginations to help them drift off into peaceful sleep.

I have to be honest with you and start out by saying that my amazing husband does the nightly bedtime routine with our son, Ezra. So, I figured I should let the main bedtime storyteller, review this book! Rather than ask him a bunch of questions….and relay it all to you, it is my pleasure to introduce you to REED…..


Hello blog world! Yes, I love that Ezra and I get to share stories and prayers before bed every night.  I am really trying to soak in every moment and enjoy this time every evening.  Ezra has always been a night owl, like his Mom [ha!], so we have been working on getting him to bed earlier now that he is getting up for pre-k three days a week.


I have tried everything…..three books, four books, telling made-up stories, the list goes on.  He would still be awake…..Until….I started reading “Time For Bed, Sleepyhead.”.  He now requests this every night and it is the only book I need to read.  Ezra always wants to be “Aslan” the white german shepherd puppy in the story, and he assigns me to be the “Daddy” bear.  The story is great about repeating certain words, which helps to set the mood to safe, warm, and luckily for me, sleepy.


At the end of the story, Ezra will turn to me and say, “good night, Dad” then rolls over and closes his eyes.  I usually stay a few more minutes and say more prayers over him, thanking God for the little arrow he is, knowing all the good that’s in-store for him when tomorrow comes.

I would definitely recommend this book and you can find it here.
Thank you Zondervan for publishing such great children books. We’ve enjoyed building a library of great books for our son.



Photography by: Kelli Trontel
Bed Sheets: Land of Nod
Comforter: Pottery Barn Kids
Pajamas: Gap Kids
Stuffed Animal: Anthropologie

First Day of Pre-K

img_9466I went round and round in my head with this one.
Was I really ready to send my baby boy off to school? Was he ready for three full days of school? Was it a matter of mama not being ready, but Ezra bursting at the seams to enter into a new season?

I sent an email to Vanessa late one night….and her response [as always] was just what I needed to hear. Honest truth…..and her birds eye perspective looking into things from the outside in. While I read her heartfelt words, I cried. Everything she wrote was spot on. I knew it deep down in my heart. And in all honesty, I knew this was the right decision for this season……but theres something about kind, loving and encouraging confirmation. Motherhood is HARD! It’s a priceless friendship to have where there is no judgement, but a cheerleader in your corner…..who always has your back.

As expected, Ezra woke up before we had the chance to wake him ourselves. The first words out of his mouth were “Is my classroom ready for me?” Yea, he was ready…..and this mamas heart couldn’t argue with the fact that this was going to be such a great day for him. One for the books.

Of course, we took the infamous 1st Day of Pre-K photo out in front of the house. And shortly after that we drove around the corner to his school….where he walked in, without holding our hands, expectant for something AWESOME to happen.

I tried my hardest to hold back my tears, but they kept streaming down my face. I was boarder line ugly cry. As soon as I got into my car…..I let out the biggest cry and it felt SO dang good. The day felt long….as I couldn’t wait to pick him back up and hear all about his day. I reminisced about the past 4 years where we have spent EVERY SINGLE DAY together. What a blessing it was to be able to stay home, as well as raise our son in our brick and mortar shop these past few years. My heart is seriously filled with gratitude.

Allowing our babies to grow up….and spread their wings is not for the faint of heart.

Ezra, we are so proud of you and we look forward to seeing you grow in all area of life this year. What a privilege it is to have you attend Whitefish Christian Academy. We believe that this new season will be one that we remember forever- and we look forward to all the memories we will make and the stories you’ll tell each and every day after school. You are THE HEAD, NOT THE TAIL. You are a LEADER. You are SMART. You are BRAVE.
xoxo, mama & daddy