Archives for April 2011

The St. Louis Zoo

The amazing spring day yesterday made for spontanaity when the younger kiddos and I met up with a friend for a last minute trip to the Zoo.  I love our Zoo – it’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s free… In addition to seeing animals, we also got to soak in the Zoo’s beautiful landscaping.  I just love tulips, don’t you?




I love taking pictures of my kids looking at the animals.  I love how intent and excited they are when they see God’s creation.  This picture just makes me think of childhood.

It also makes me think of this post.  Oy…


Becke, this one is for you.


Have you ever tried to rangle four squirmy children into one small canoe and then sit and smile for the camera?  It’s not possible.  But check out my friend Bethany’s little boy.  How handsome is he?




Tune in tomorrow to hear about how I didn’t die in my race this past weekend.  It included a whole lot of prayer, a bit of will power and the entertainment of a couple of shocking sights.


Sneak Peek, #2

I am having a hard time focusing on blogging lately.  There are a few reasons for this: First, I am just really busy.  Between the kids activities, Lee being out of town, preparations for Easter at our church, the house on the market and general everyday things that pop up, I have little time to sit and think.

Second, my heart feels anxious right now.  It’s probably mostly magnified by Lee’s absence and all of the aforementioned craziness, but I am truly feeling restless inside.  I feel like I’m not doing enough and equally I’m doing too much.  This morning I got up early, while the house was still.  I opened my Bible and just began to read.  It was so refreshing.  You know when you walk outside on a warm summer morning and step into the cool grass and your whole body buzzes from the cool?  That’s what this morning felt like – stepping onto the cool grass.

Third, when I do have a few minutes to sit down and write, I want to work on The Novel.  I don’t want to edit pictures or video.  I just want to release the characters in my head.  In June, I have a trip planned with a dear friend and a couple of other writer’s.  For four days we will sit on a lake in Northern California and get lost in words.

I’m only mildly excited because it sounds like heaven.

Today I give you one more small sneak peek.  I won’t give too many of these, because I don’t want to give it all away, but a few here and there are fun for me to share…and I hope it’s fun for you to read!  This is, of course, the first draft and contains few edits.  It will change with time and re-reads, but it’s slowly beginning to take form.

This part of the story is told by Ivan Kyrilovich Petrochenko, a father of three teenage children and husband of Tanya.  They are living in Kiev.  This is June 22, 1941, the morning of the bombings, after the smoke has cleared.  Ivan and his son Sergei are headed out to survey the damage.  

The memory of that night will haunt me.  The whistle of the bombs and the thunder as they found their targets still move through my head, my heart, my soul.  Intertwined with the noise is the sound of screaming.  Masha, turning and crying, confused and afraid.  Tanya and Anna gripped in the corner, their cries mingling together to form a low wail.  In the midst of all the noise, I see Sergei, my son.  He is silent.  I watched him through the flashes and tremors.  Between dark and light, he became a man.

As the terror of the night slipped into a balmy, dusty morning, I watched them all closely.  Tanya and Anna, both delicate and small, wrapped in one another’s arms, their faces worn and strained.  Masha sat tucked beneath Sergei’s arm, her head nodding and falling, stubbornness alone keeping her from succumbing to the sleep that so clearly longed to take her away.

And the man Sergei, who sat with his back straight against the wall, protecting the sister he so deeply loved.  I knew the decision he made in those long, quiet hours.  I saw him wrestling, an inward battle flashing through his grey eyes.  And when the war was over, he looked at me resigned, brave, grown.  I nodded, a silent confirmation of what he needed most – my blessing.

Shuffling into the still street, I turned to my son and grabbed his shoulders with both hands.  I felt the muscles that rounded over the tops of his arms and for the first time noticed the sinewy nature of his frame.  My son had developed the taught muscles of a man without me even noticing.  Surely this did not happen overnight.

Looking straight in his eyes, I spoke to him not as a father to his son, but as a comrade.  “You will wait until your birthday.  When you are eighteen, you may enlist.”

My voice came out gruff, almost harsh and tears stung the corners of my eyes.  Sergei’s chin lifted slightly and he nodded calmly.  “Yes, Papa.”

Not caring who might look out and see, I pulled him into my arms and gripped him with the passion that only a father can feel for his son.  Sergei’s arms engulfed me in return and for a long while we held one another.  And in that embrace I bid farewell to the boy I had rocked, fed, played with and taught for nearly eighteen years.  And somehow I knew that when my son left, I wouldn’t see him again.

©Kelli Stuart April, 2011

Have a lovely spring Tuesday!

The Candy Shop and An Opportunity

When Lee and I first moved to St. Louis, the land in which I spent most of my formative years, we immediately set out to develop new relationships as a married couple.  I did not want to only think of St. Louis as my childhood home, though it felt that way since I spent six years in Texas learning the culture and laws of that strange land.

Big Hair. Big Accents. Big Belt Buckles. Big Hearts.

One of the first families we met was the Krosley family and we fell in love with them from the start.  They were fun, giving, kind and one life step ahead of us.  They had three young kids, we had a baby.  We looked up to the Krosley’s in every sense.

We worked closely with the Krosley’s to develop a new ministry in our church geared toward young married couples and in our time with them we learned of their heart for adoption.  We prayed with them as they waited to adopt from China and we rejoiced when God answered their prayer in a mighty way with their fourth child – a little boy they named Andrew.

In the eight years that we’ve known the Krosley’s, we’ve watched their children grow.  Their two oldest are young adults now, both impacting the world in different ways.  Their sixteen year old daughter, Lauren, was so moved by her brother’s adoption that she longed to return to China and work in an orphanage.  And this summer, her dream will come true when she and her mom, Pam, go to Choayang, China with Visiting Orphans to minister to the little ones so desperately in need of love.

The most exciting part about this trip is that we can all be involved in helping Lauren and her team raise money to build a new playground for the children in the orphanage.  Most of the children these students will be minstering to will likely grow up in their orphanage and a new playground would be such a delight for them.

Would you consider donating to Lauren’s team?

Here are the details.  Click this link and under Gift Designation put June 22-July 3.  Under the tab Designate to a Specific Team Member, put Lauren Krosley.

Thanks everyone!  I would love to see Lauren and her team raise all the funds they need to build the orphans of Choayang a place to dream, play and be kids.

Switching gears…

A few years ago, Lee asked me to not watch Oprah anymore.  “Why?” you ask.  Well I’ll tell you.  In general, I have never been a big Oprah watcher mainly because I just don’t have time to watch TV at 4:00 in the afternoon.  But every so often I was intrigued by her previews and tuned in. 

In the span of a couple of months I watched several Oprah specials on the plight of orphans worldwide, specifically orphan girls.  I heard horror story after horror story of the sex trafficking that these young ones were subjected to and I would dial Lee up in tears, bouncing an infant Sloan on my shoulder.

“We need to adopt a little girl or five from Romania,” I sobbed once.  “You should hear what happens to those girls!”  Another time I called him blubbering about the abandoned girls in Africa and begged him to consider adopting a few children from that country…in addition to the five from Romania and three or four from Russia.  It was at that point that Lee gently suggested I quit watching shows that upset me so much.

So I did.  But the stories didn’t leave.  I’m horrified at what little girls around the world are facing.  It’s nauseating and heart wrenching and it makes me physically ill when I dwell on it.  It horrifies me that any child would go through being sold into sexual slavery, but I was especially disheartened to find out about it happening in this very country.

I’m posting a video below that I saw on Shaun Groves’ site last week.  It’s long, so if you don’t have time to watch it right now, that’s fine, but I strongly urge you to watch it later when you’ve got 30 minutes. It’s extremely well done and is gut wrenching, both visually and in subject matter.

This is a short film from Whitstone Motion Pictures called The Candy Shop.  It was made to specifically highlight the issue of sex trafficking here in the States.  You can read more about it here.


The Candy Shop from Whitestone Motion Pictures on Vimeo.


You can also visit to find out more ways you can be involved in fighting sex trafficking in young children.

Thanks for taking the time to read and learn about these organizations and ways you can make a difference in the lives of little ones worldwide.

Magic Monkey on the Wall

We have a naughty little Monkey in our midst.  He’s mischevious and sneaky and you never really know where you’ll find him.  See for yourself:





Sometimes this mischevious little monkey convinces the stuffed bear to join in on the antics and we find them together on the shelf.


Thus far, however, he hasn’t been able to convince Old Monkey (aka, Steve) to climb with him.  Steve just doesn’t have it in him anymore.  He’s a little over three years old.  In Sock Monkey years that’s 104.  He also has a bum arm and leg…



There are squeals of delight multiple times a day as we discover where New Monkey has settled himself.  “I fink he must be awive!” they cry. 


We’ve tried to catch Monkey in the act of swinging and climbing, but he’s just too clever.  As you can see from some of the pictures above, we’ve almost caught him.  We’ve seen him mid-swing more than once, but he always manages to freeze before we can get to him.


Yesterday they were determined to keep Monkey in their sights all day in the hopes that they would see him move.  But wouldn’t you know, when they turned their backs for one second he managed to scamper up on top of the fridge!


Silly Monkey.

Random Facts You’ll Never Really Need to Know



I have several brilliant posts rolling through my head.  They are witty and thoughtful – or at least they could be.  You’ll never really know for sure because they are totally and completely stuck there, bouncing off the sides of my brain like pinballs.  Our house officially went on the market yesterday and keeping it in decent shape to show it is as close to a full time job as I’ve ever had.  Oh, and did I mention Lee is in New Jersey for two weeks?

Mama’s tired.

So today’s post is full of random facts you’ll never really need to know.  Facts about me.  Calm down, calm down…I know you’re excited.  Take a minute to catch your breath and maybe go grab a cup of coffee.  Ready?

– I have a secret crush on Hugh Grant.  I think he’s adorable and hilarious and no matter how silly the movie, if he’s in it, I’m almost certain to enjoy it.

– I have another secret crush on Will Ferrell who I am fairly certain might be the funniest person alive.

– Those are just my secret crushes, of course.  Not my out in the open celebrity crushes.

– I have always wanted to voice a cartoon character.  Back in the day when Disney movies were not soley voiced by already famous actors who bring their own star power to the movie, I was certain that my future would be as the voice of a Disney Princess.  *sigh*

– I hate running.

– I am training for a marathon relay that takes place this weekend.  I ran four miles last Saturday and in the process managed to destroy my left hamstring.  After running two miles this morning I can barely straighten out my leg.  I’m trying to decide if I’m truly a determined enough athlete to work through this pain and conquer the race.

– I haven’t showered in three days.  There hasn’t been time.  All you women who are single moms, my hat goes off to you.  You are heroes.  Now tell me, please, when do you manage to eat, sleep and shower?

– I get bored if life becomes too predictable.  I love a little excitement to keep things spicey.

– I have no idea what my natural hair color is.  I think the color likely falls somewhere in the palette of dishwater.

– I am definately more fun as a blonde than as a brunette.

– I feel like I stopped aging at 25 and can’t believe I’m creeping toward my mid-thirties.  Of course, my blown hamstring after one four mile run kind of gives away the fact that I’m no longer a spring chicken.

– Getting old kinda blows.

– I’m kind of a hot head.  Not real proud of that one.

– I really, truly, to the depth of my soul love being a mother.

– My favorite book growing up was Julie (Andrews) Edwards’ The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles.  I’ve read it no less than 100 times.  It’s a great, great story.

– I looked out the window this morning and saw Landon riding his Hot Wheel on the front sidewalk.  He was so content and having so much fun, his mouth moving constantly as he chattered to himself and I felt deep gratefulness and happiness bubble up inside.  It is a mental snapshot and a feeling I’ve filed away for all time.

– I’m nervous about selling my house. 

– I long to travel the world and want to show my kids the world.  I’m not sure how much of the world we’ll be able to afford to show them, but I hope to instill in them an appreciation for other cultures and a love for adventure and travel so that someday they will want to see new parts of the world on their own.  I don’t want to just take them on lavish vacations, though.  I want to expose them to the world through missions.  I want them to see the need around them, in their own communities and abroad, and to be ready and willing to respond.

– I’m not sure our family is complete yet.  Someone still feels like they’re missing.  But who?  We are praying over that one.

– I really need a shower today.

– I have never broken a bone.  At least not technically.  I developed a stress fracture in my back when I was fourteen from gymnastics, but I’ve never worn a cast.  Knock on wood…

– Part of me wishes I had more energy and drive to expand myself as a business woman, but I have recognized my capabilities and know how much I am able to handle and still maintain my priority as mom without stress.  I have found a lovely balance and contentment in both business and work.

– I will never, ever, ever get over my fear of crickets.

I can think of no more random, boring facts about myself to share.  Now it’s your turn.  Tell me a few random facts about you!

Olympic Gold 2024?


About a month ago, we received an email from Tia’s gymnastics facility inviting her to be a part of an advanced developmental team.  The idea is that for the next year and a half, she and several other advnaced 5-7 year olds will learn bigger and harder skills with the goal of entering into competitive gymnastics.

The decision for whether or not to do this turned into quite a big deal for Lee and I.  We stressed and prayed and talked to a lot of people about whether or not we should allow her to participate in this class.


The training schedule for this program is not overly strenuous.  It’s only 3.5 hours a week of gym time.  But Tia is also only 5 and we didn’t want to push her into something too early.  For over a year, Tia has been in a preschool aged class and she has been far too advanced for the group.  While most of the girls in that class were still trying to figure out what foot to put in front to successfully turn a cartwheel, Tia was performing running round off’s with almost perfect precision.

She’s kind of a natural.

Try not to be jealous of the art that is this photo. It's like you're there watching, isn't it?  Ah, who're we kidding - I stink at indoor photography.

Try not to be jealous of the art that is this photo. It's like you're there watching, isn't it? Ah, who're we kidding - I stink at indoor photography.

On the other hand, Lee and I are fairly certain that gymnastics is not a long term sport for Tia, mainly because she’s going to be too tall.  As a former competitive gymnast and gymnastics coach myself, I have a bit of experience with this sport.  I thought an opportunity like this for my daughter would thrill me, and it did.  But it also terrified me!  One of the questions Lee and I wrestled through was this:  Tia will likely outgrow this sport by the time she is a preteen, so do we need to waste the time and money on training for something that she won’t be able to do long term?

"Take my picture wike I won da gold medal, Mom!"

"Take my picture wike I won da gold medal, Mom!"

Ultimately we decided to give her the chance to try it out.  We’re trying it for two months.  The practices are twice weekly and yes, it means our schedule just got a little crazier given that baseball season has also recently begun.  Even if she doesn’t do gymnastics past the fifth grade, the skills she is learning will serve her in any sport she chooses.  She’s learning strength, coordination, flexibility and discipline.

Plus, she’s pretty excited that within a few months she’ll be doing back flips on the trampoline.

So we’ll see what happens.  At the end of May we’ll decide if we’re going to continue with this program or just put her in an advanced class without the goal of competition.  This may disappoint the boys who spent the evening last night doing what boys to best.

Watching girls.



Because they’re funny, that’s why

I heard a comment recently from someone who claimed to love reading “Mommy blogs” but hated when bloggers went on and on about their kids.

Um…I don’t think you like reading “Mommy Blogs” then.  (Not a fan of the “Mommy Blog” term…couldja tell?)  That’s like me saying I like fish but don’t like when it tastes fishy.  Riiight.  Let’s just call a spade a spade.  I don’t like fish.  Unless it’s thickly breaded and double dipped in a vat of oil then served with a side of ketchup.

That’s my kind of fish.

When I first heard this statement I found myself a little self conscious.  I mean, I talk about my kids all the blasted time here.  What if I’m boring people?  Because let’s face it, I can say that I’m only blogging to keep a record of the cute and funny things they do until I’m blue in the face, but we all know I want you to like me.

And I want to remember the cute and funny things they do so I can look back ten years later and smile…and humiliate them.  It’s a scrapbook that yields sweet revenge.

I’m only half way kidding.

So here it is: I am a blogger who happens to be a mom.  Write what you know, correct?  Well right now, I know Mom-ing.  (I could have written I know Motherhood but turning “Mom” into a verb sounded like more fun.)  So I’m going to write about Mom-ing, and all the other stuff that interests me that doesn’t involve my kids.  Which isn’t a lot because I’m kind of in the trenches of this Mom thing.

So today I’m writing about my kids, because dang it my kids are funny.  Maybe they’re only funny to me and their grandparents, but I don’t care.  This post might seem a little fishy, but I’ll try and deep fry something for you another day, okay?  Just indulge me, if you could be so kind.  Tomorrow I’ll write about something more riveting…like my house.  You’re on the edge of your seat – I just know it!

Lee left yesterday for a two week training in New Jersey.  Before the kids and I headed off to church, he buckled everyone in and doled out last minutes hugs and kisses.  He and Sloan managed to squeeze in an early round of basketball before we left.  I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled.

As Lee leaned in to kiss Sloan, my tender hearted man-child teared up a bit.  Lee smiled and touseled his hair and Sloan grinned, shaking his head.

“I’m not crying,” he said, all macho-like.  “My eyes are just sweating.”

My eyes are sweating a bit as I type this.  Happens to the best of us…

Sloan continued.  “Hey Dad, will you get us a present when you go to New York?”

“Sure,” Lee said.  I think his eyes were a little sweaty too.  “What do you want me to get you?”

“A girlfriend,” Sloan replied without missing a beat.  Aaaaand it comes back around.  I guess he thought he’d see if his dad would indulge his apparent need for a girlfriend since I told him a couple of weeks ago that No, I would not get him a girlfriend for his eighth birthday.  After sharing this I launched into a very sweet, deep and meaningful conversation with him about how God has already picked out and planned a wife for him someday and he doesn’t need to worry about dating right now.

Clearly my words had an impact.

Not to be outdone, Tia piped up from the backseat as we headed down the road to church.  “Hey Mom?  How old do I have to be to get mawwied?”

“Old enough to be able to say your ‘R’s,” I replied…

No, I didn’t.  I actually told her it would be a long time and she didn’t need to start thinking about that now.

“Well, I fink I should be 29 when I get mawwied.  Will I be a mom before I get mawwied?”

“Nope,” I said.  “You gotta get married first to be a mom.”  Yes, I know that’s not necessarily true, but she’s five and we’re keeping it simple.  She doesn’t need an explanation on when and how one can or should become a mom.

Tia has actually popped out a couple of funny one-liner’s lately.  I forgot how funny five year old’s can be.  When we ate lunch one day in Florida, I handed Sloan a ham sandwich. 

“Does that have Man Eyes on it?” Tia asked.  She meant Mayonaise.  And just like that, our family now has a new catch word.  We will forever call Mayonaise “Man Eyes.”

And then there’s Landon – the family clown, the kid who’s always good for a laugh, the boy with expressive eyes and a personality that far outweighs his tiny little bird frame.  He walks through the house daily singing the songs from High School Musical 3.  He sings them completely wrong, but that’s what makes it so fun.  My favorite goes like this:

I don’t know where to go, Whatsa right fing.  I want my oh dwee so Battleforce Strange.

If you know what song I’m talking about, you know why that’s cute and funny.  It also means that you, like me, know way too much about High School Musical 3.

It’s those little conversations that make me laugh out loud that give me reason to blog about my kids.  Well, that and the humiliation thing.

I’m kidding…sort of.