Archives for September 2012

Adoption Update

I’m having a baby. Not in the traditional way that I’ve done in the past. There is to be (hopefully) be no weight gain with this pregnancy, no migraines, no maternity clothes.


This pregnancy is peppered with hour long phone calls to the Board of Medicine for an obscure letter, mountains of paper work and nights spent wondering…how long will this take?

It’s a different kind of pregnancy, but the end result is the same – a child, a daughter, waiting for us. She was ordained for us from the beginning of time.


Yesterday we met with our home study agent. I sent my husband and children off to church without me and I spent the morning scouring the house from top to bottom. I cleaned window sills and baseboards. I mopped floors (even the laundry room!) and cleaned tubs. I swept and vaccuumed and placed cinnamon brooms strategically throughout the house.

Because a house that smells of cinnamon is clearly owned by a family fit to adopt.


I overdid it. I knew that as I prepared, but still it felt good to clean. It felt good to know that I was doing this for her – the little girl who is as much a Stuart as the rest of our children. It felt good to pour my energy into the process knowing that it was one more step forward.

A collage of all my pretties.

One of the most stressful parts of this journey was choosing the agency that would walk us through the process. I can say with certainty that we chose the right agency and I am so thankful for all their help. I send them roughly 57 emails a week and I get a response to every email almost immediately. I’m like that pregnant Mom who calls her OB every time she sits down to a meal to ask if the Cobb salad is good for her or if the steak needs to be well done and is it true blue cheese will make my baby grow a third ear on the back of his head?

That’s me – the crazy adoptive Mama.

In addition to our agency, I kind of fell in love with our home study agent yesterday…despite the fact that she didn’t bring her white gloves and run them along my sparkling baseboards and window sills. I briefly considered asking if she would like to eat her chocolate chip cookies off the freshly scrubbed floors, but thought better of it in the end.

I love how calm she is, how well she knows this process, how forthcoming she was with the information she felt we needed to gather. I’m just so thankful for how this is all coming together.

We’ve set up a specific page here on the blog to keep up with all that’s happening with the adoption. Do you see it? It’s right up top in the middle of the navigation bar and it says, oddly enough, Adoption. Because I am fraught with creativity.

There’s nothing on the page, yet, but it’s coming. We’ve got some things rolling around and coming together for fundraisers and I’m so excited to share them with you! Hopefully in the next week.

For now, I have a question for those of you who have been through this process, or perhaps know someone who’s been through the process. I need suggestions of good books we should read on adoption and the challenges and benefits of raising an adopted child. I don’t want horror stories! I want information. I want to be prepared.

I don’t want to be freaked out.

Now, I am off to pick kids up from school and headed home to eat lunch. Off the floor. Because danggit, the floor is clean AND my house smells like cinnamon AND I can see out the windows because I cleaned them.

It’s kind of awesome…

Dear Motivation, Please Come Back…

Once upon a time, exercise was a singular focus for me. I rarely went a day without participating in some kind of exercise. It was as needed for me as oxygen and staying active kept the demons away.

Then I started having babies and my focus changed.

After Landon was born, logistically getting to the gym on a daily basis was just too difficult. Still, I made the effort to get in multiple times a week and work my muscles into submission. I needed this time to keep my sanity…and I needed to keep the demons away.

I had to keep my mind in submission and I couldn’t allow my body to soften because doing so left me anxious and frustrated.

Then we moved to Florida and everything changed. I began homeschooling the kids and though I had a gym membership, I couldn’t find the time to get in and use it. The kids are past the point of being excited about nursery care, so I didn’t use the gym much.

Now they’re in school, but between writing obligations, adoption paperwork and volunteer needs at their schools, I can’t seem to find the time to get to the gym. For the first time in my life, I have zero motivation to exercise. This does not bode well for the wisp of a girl and I’m working to readjust the priorities because, let’s face it – I’m not a youngun’ anymore. I can’t eat whatever I want and be sedentary and expect to stay in shape.

Stupid aging…

I recently received some products in the mail from Empower Fitness, a company dedicated to helping the busy indivdual (like me!) stay motivated and active to maintain a healthy lifestyle. From the Empower Fitness Website:

Designed exclusively for women by women, Empower offers fitness products; world-renowned trainers; nutritional expertise; and online communities to help you reach your goals.

Empower is here to inspire and motivate you to be active, healthy, and strong. It’s your moment of truth, now MAKE YOUR MOVE to Empower.

Using the bands from their Total Body Toning System, I’ve managed to squeeze in workouts right here in my office. Sometimes even sitting at my desk. The resistance bands allow me to push my muscles to work a little bit harder and leave me feeling like I actually made an effort to do something.

While motivation is still lacking significantly, having workout bands laying at my feet at least gives me less of an excuse to do nothing at all. So I’m picking them up and using them each morning and slowly but surely I can feel that familiar desire to take care of myself returning.

I’ve also got a DuraBall Pro  from FitterFirst, a “one stop shop for functional fitness products and accessories” to challenge me to further to improve muscle tone and overall health. There are so many different exercises that can be done with these tools and I’m excited to start using them more without having to sacrifice the precious alone time that I have that is in so high demand these days.

If you’re interested in products that inspire fitness without taking up a significant amount of time or space in your home, visit the Empower Fitness website where you can connect with fitness experts, order products and read inspiring tales of real women who fought to regain control of their fitness goals and have see real results.

You can also visit FitterFirst and shop their extensive line of products that will help take your fitness to the next level.

Happy Friday, everyone! May your weekend be active and full of laughter and fun!

disclaimer: I received the Empower Total Body Toning System and the Duraball for my promotion of this company. I was not compensated. I am grateful for the opportunity.


Would you consider sponsoring a child from Compassion International today? Your small investement yields huge rewards and gives children freedom from extreme poverty and the confidence to dream.

Would you do me a favor and just take a peek at this page? Look at these children and pray for each one by name. As you pray, would you open your heart to being the one who steps out in faith and gives them a hope for a future?

It’s blogging month at Compassion International and bloggers across the internet have chosen to unite their voices to rally for hope. Extreme poverty is not the end for these children and those of us who are blessed with abundance have the opportunity to take part in miracles. Having travelled to Tanzania with Compassion just four short months ago, I feel like the words and the memories are still so fresh. The smiles and the laughter of the kids still rings in my ears.

I listed every post from my trip to Tanzania here so if you would like to learn more about how child sponsorhip can change a life, look through those posts and journey back through the dusty roads of Africa with me.

If you have any specific questions about Compassion International or how sponsorship works, feel free to ask them in the comments or to email me at kellistuart00 (at) hotmail (dot) com. Thanks, everyone!


Are you involved with Compassion International? How has child sponsorship impacted you?


All photos taken by Keely Scott

Meet the newest American Girl

Comments are now closed. Winner will be announced tomorrow. Thanks everyone!

You would be hard pressed to find another toy company that has come up with a more creative and lucrative idea than that of the American Girl doll. Blending history with all things girly, they have the market on quality toys for little girls. I mean, really – they put Cabbage Patch Dolls to shame.

Those dolls grew in the ground and had yarn for hair. The ’80’s were a strange time, folks…

Had American Girl been around when I was little, I would have been wildly in love with the dolls. Instead, I am just wildly in love with them as an adult, and thankfully I get to share them with my own daughter and watch her imagination bloom as she plays and learns through their vastly rich historical stories.

Well done, American Girl. Well done.

The newest American Girl historical figure is Caroline Abbott whose story takes place near Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. From the American Girl press release:

“Living with her family in Sacket Harbor, New York, Caroline loves sailing with her shipbuilder father, and she even dreams of captaining her own ship one day. But after British sailors capture her father and cousin, Caroline does her best to keep the promise she makes to her father to stay steady and ride storms through the better weather. In the end, Caroline finds – and proves – her own steadiness and strength as she navigates the challenges of wartime.”

Caroline launches with six historical books written by author and social historian Kathleen Ernst and they follow Caroline’s adventures through this rich moment in American history.

“Our newest historical character, Caroline, is a brave, independent girl who teaches girls today that they can navigate life’s challenges by staying strong, making good decisions, and taking action,” says Jean McKenzie, executive vice president of American Girl. “We know our fans will be inspired by the stories of Caroline, who shows girls that they can set their own course to help make changes for the future.”

With Christmas quickly approaching (I know, WHAT?!), Caroline Abbott would make a great addition to your American Girl’s collection. She has an array of historically accurate clothes and accessories that represent her time period and the books are sure to enthrall your daughters as they learn more about our country in a way that interests them.

Today, thanks to American Girl, I have the privilege of offering one lucky reader Caroline Abbott’s six book box set. You can share with your daughter (or granddaughter, or niece, or cousin, or neighbor, or sister-in-law’s Aunt’s second cousin’s daughter…) these fun and lively tales that bring American history to life in a way that they can all love and understand.

There are three ways to enter:


Leave a comment. Any comment will do.

– Send out a Tweet letting people know about the giveaway and come back and leave a second comment letting me know you tweeted and you will earn a second entry.

– Post this giveaway to Facebook and come back and leave a third comment, letting me know and you will receive a third entry.

This contest is open to US Residents only and will end on Monday, September 10, when I draw a random name from the list of comments. You will have twenty-four hours to respond to the email telling you you’ve won. If you do not respond, I will choose another winner. The winner will receive the box set directly from American Girl.

Ready to enter?




Oh, and please…have a lovely Tuesday. It’s September people! SEPTEMBER! Which can only mean one thing…pumpkin spice lattes and (hopefully soon for us Floridians) scarves and boots. That’s enough to make me unendingly happy today…

disclaimer: I am working in conjunction with American Girl to promote the launch of their new historical doll and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I received the Caroline Abbott doll in exchange for writing this post. I was not compensated.

Dear Mom, Mondays: Make ’em laugh

Do you remember those magical moments as a kid when the stars aligned and you said the perfect thing to send your parents into a fit of laughter? Do you remember how good it felt to know that your parents delighted in you?

Dear Mom,

Laugh a little…or a lot. The sound is magic and I will walk away knowing that you think I’m fun, that you delight in me, that I make you happy.

Raising children is a battle. Each morning I wake up, take a deep breath and prepare for the fight. Some days, the fight begins before my feet even hit the floor. By the time I get to the kitchen people are already arguing and crying and tattling and demanding food and drink.

(My children insist on being fed EVERY DAY! Multiple times, even…)

When I awaken to a battle already being waged, I do not smile much. I’m on edge, I’m frustrated, I’m tired, I just want coffee and thirty minutes of quiet. But I’m not afforded such luxeries, so I push through.

If I can find the strength to muster a smile and even a little laugh, it does wonders toward diffusing the battlefield. If I can throw in a little joke and get them laughing, and we all leap together into delight, suddenly brushing teeth and putting shoes on is no longer akin to torture and the waters smooth just a bit.

The other day, when the arguing was too much, the tattling too far, the smiles too hard to force, I pulled up this video and put it in front of the kids.


Hearty laughter abounds and what were we fighting about again?

Sometimes they’re so silly, and the jokes they tell are so bad that I must bite my lip and swallow the impatient sigh. If I can muster a smile, that’s a nice place to start, but if I can offer a chuckle or a genuine laugh, I’ve made the day of the silly clown of a child.

Because fifteen years from now, the children will remember me, their mother, in some form or another. Will I be remembered as one who delighted in them, who filled the rooms with laughter, or the sour puss who only wanted coffee and alone time?

Dear Mom. Delight in your children. Smile often and laugh every day and never forget that they will, potentially, some day be in charge of choosing your nursing home. You want them to choose wisely…

HAPPY LABOR DAY! Go sit on your tail and do nothing…