Archives for May 2013

When you wish upon a star

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

We are home from a magical, fantastical, exhaustical weekend. My pile of laundry rivals Mt. Everest and my head is full of ideas and thoughts as I try to process all I saw and heard. It was truly, truly an honor to be invited to this year’s celebration. It wasn’t anything like what I expected.

I don’t really know what I was expecting, honestly. But this exceeded whatever it was I thought I was going to experience. I learned a lot about business, entrepreneurship, blogging and Disney. From beginning to end, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

As a disclaimer, I will tell you that I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. As an invitee I received a discounted rate on my hotel room, some lovely swag (that’s a fun word to say, isn’t it? Especially when it’s prefaced with the words, “Here’s Your…”), amazing once in a lifetime experiences and 7 Day Park Hopper Passes for myself and all those who were registered to attend with me. 

There – now that I made the FTC happy, I will show you pictures. And while you browse, I will begin to tackle my laundry. It’s too bad Disney couldn’t have hooked me up with a couple of magic fairies to take care of these menial tasks for me…Where’s Tinkerbell when you need her?!



Front and center to watch as Merida is officially made a Princess.


Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas was there to help with the coronation. Tia (and I) were so excited by this surprise.


How adorable is this? This was right after Merida was crowned the newest Disney Princess. I mean, seriously…Girl heaven.


All the princesses together.


Even “Jessie” was on hand for the coronation. Um…is it just because I’m a mom, or does it seem like she’s wearing too much make up? I sound like an old lady, don’t I…Carry on.


Friday night we were treated to dinner on the set of Lights, Motors, Action! We got a little up close glimpse of a stunt man doing his thang…


We met the ever charming Minnie Mouse (as well as her husband, Mickey. *wink*)

We met the ever charming Minnie Mouse (as well as her husband, Mickey. *wink*)

One of the joys of the conference was seeing Tia's face light up when we'd return to our room at night and find surprises left by the Disney elves. The night before Merida's coronation we received a huge bag full of Merida goodies including this doll and wig. The hair kills me. It's as though Little Orphan Annie and Cher had a love child...

One of the joys of the conference was seeing Tia’s face light up when we’d return to our room at night and find surprises left by the Disney elves. The night before Merida’s coronation we received a huge bag full of Merida goodies including this doll and wig. The hair kills me. It’s as though Little Orphan Annie and Cher had a love child…


I'm gonna wreck it!

I’m gonna wreck it!


The boys, unfortunately, could not come over until Saturday night due to baseball, so my mom joined us for the first couple of days. It was so sweet to have this time with her on Mother's Day weekend.

The boys, unfortunately, could not come over until Saturday night due to baseball, so my mom joined us for the first couple of days. It was so sweet to have this time with her on Mother’s Day weekend.


It wouldn't be a Disney weekend without a little Star Wars involved. R2D2 also made an appearance.

It wouldn’t be a Disney weekend without a little Star Wars involved. R2D2 also made an appearance.


Me with the adorable (and super savvy) Shannon Miller. I can neither confirm, nor deny, chasing her down to get this picture…

A little Disney Magic fell in my favor when we were assigned a hotel room with a view of the castle. We sat on our balcony at night and enjoyed the fireworks without the crowds.
A little Disney Magic fell in my favor when we were assigned a hotel room with a view of the castle. We sat on our balcony at night and enjoyed the fireworks without the crowds.

Honestly, I never thought I would be one to enjoy Disney World so much. The crowds, the heat, the insane overstimulation…

But if you do it right, Disey really can be a magical place to build memories. And let’s face it, unless you’re a robot (or perhaps a male), you’re bound to get a little nostalgic and goose-bumpy when you look up at the Castle and hear Jimmeny Cricket urging you to wish upon a star.

That doesn’t move you? How about the song Baby Mine as images of Dumbo being rocked by his Mama float by?

No? What about Cinderella singing A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes as she gazes out the window at the castle?

Surely one of those things brings just a small sigh of sweet nostalgia to your heart.

Walt Disney may have been one of the greatest visionaries and imaginators (let’s say that’s a word for now, okay?) of all time. He believed in dreams and magic and his legacy still lives on in the form of both of those. Let us never stop dreaming.

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope your day is magical, blessed and filled with imagination and dreams. 


(I also hope it includes less laundry than my day.)

We decided to say Yes

We knew early on that Tia had a knack for gymnastics. Remember when I walked outside and found her like this at three years old?


Shortly after taking this photo, we signed her up for her first gymnastics class. Within a year she was selected for a special developmental team and we slowly tip-toed our way into competitive gymnastics.

This has been one of our tougher parenting decisions, honestly. It’s been hard to know how much to allow, how much to push, how much of her time to commit to a sport that she likely won’t be able to stick with long term. We held her back for a long time, not pushing or allowing her to move too quickly for fear it would be too much.

This year it finally came to the point where moving her up in the sport was inevitable. We either needed to make the commitment or pull her from the sport and guide her in a different direction.

We decided to say yes.

Tia is currently training three days a week for a total of 11.5 hours. It’s a big commitment for a seven year old and it isn’t one we made lightly. I still have worries and concerns about the time it’s taking, and yet…


She really loves the sport. She loves the challenge of it and the thrill of getting a new skill. She thinks the beam is fun, which is just crazy talk if you ask me. And she runs so hard down the vault runway that she scares everyone but herself.

There are times when I drop her off for one of the four hour practices that I wonder why on Earth we are doing this. Is it foolish? Should she be at home with her family? Are we stealing her childhood? Will this affect her relationship with her brothers?

Then I laugh and shake my head. I think the time apart improves her relationship with her brothers. Also, we live in an amazing neighborhood full of kids, half of which spend most of their afternoons playing in my backyard.

All of them are boys.

There aren’t a lot of little girls running around our neck of the woods beach, so gymnastics is, for Tia, a crucial time of socialization and girl time. It’s where she’s learning all those cute little girl chants and clapping games that every single girl has played since the beginning of ever.

Summer-09-179Gymnastics is not only making her stronger and more confident – it’s also giving her the perfect outlet to be a silly little girl and I really love that for her…even if the sassy hip pop makes me want to roll my eyes.

I have no idea how long she will want to stick with this sport. The time commitment is so intense and it makes for some really long days. But in the long run, we finally decided that whether she does it for a year or five, these hours in the gym won’t be wasted. She can take the skills, both physical and mental, that she’s learning on the blue mats and apply them to any other sport and experience in life.

Parenting is so hard. We are given these children for a short time and we begin to recognize talents and gifts and suddenly the pressure to develop those gifts, to point them in the direction that will best suit them, gets all heavy and freaky and you find yourself wondering if you’re really helping them or if you are forever screwing them up.

Then you breathe in. You watch a beautiful vault, hear the crack of the bat, scream as the ball soars into the net, shriek when he runs the ball in for a touch down, and you breathe out again.

And when she walks out of the gym and collapses in a heap of tears because the workout was so hard that night, you wipe her tears and tell her to stick with it, because you know it’s important to fight through the pain.

You also know that the day will come when she’ll turn and look at you, holding a ribbon high with a joyous grin plastered across her face and in return you’ll give a huge thumbs up and clap louder than anyone else at the accomplishment.

Those are the moments we wait for as parents. Those are the moments when we’re glad we said yes.


What about you? Have you made big extracurricular commitments with your kids? How did you make the decision to commit your child’s time to a single activity?

Zippety Doo Da!

I have a confession to make. When my mom called and told us last fall that she and dad wanted to take us all to Disney World as our Christmas gift, I wasn’t all that excited. It had been a long, long time since I’d been to Disney and honestly, the thought of navigating the parks with the kids sounded more hellish than magical.

Of course, we agreed to go because it was an awesome gift and because I wanted my kids to experience Disney at least once in their lifetimes. I figured it would be a little like ripping off a BandAid – get it over with quick and we would never have to do it again.

In my mind, I was sadly (and very mistakenly) comparing Disney to Six Flags in St. Louis. Dirty, sticky, hot, crowded, congested and in general not very enjoyable. I forgotten just how magical Disney makes the experience.

I had no idea how much fun it would be to spend time in the Magic Kingdom.


After our Christmas visit (and my parents double blessed us with season passes), I realized how truly amazing an experience Disney can be when it’s done right. We went when the weather was nice, during the holidays and on a weekend that wasn’t overly crowded and it was such an amazing trip for all of us.

We’ve since been to Disney three more times and I can honestly say that I love it every single time. I don’t think I will ever get tired of walking into the Magic Kingdom and seeing the Castle, especially at night when it’s all lit up. It really is…magical.



I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been invited by Disney to join them at this year’s annual Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I leave Thursday for another long weekend of Disney magic and I keep wondering how on Earth I could have ever dreaded spending time at Walt Disney World.

Unfortunately, this is the final weekend of baseball for the boys, so they won’t get to join us until Saturday, but Tia will be with me for the weekend as well as my mom, which will be a sweet little girl’s weekend away.

IMGP7478While I am excited to see the castle again and to experience Disney magic up close and personal, I am even more thrilled about the conference portion of the weekend. There will be amazing speakers, opportunities for networking with some of the top bloggers in the country and from what I hear, there will be some amazing parties to enjoy.

And food. People keep mentioning food. I like food. I really like it a lot…

One year ago, right at this time, I was in Tanzania being changed radically from the inside. That trip set off the series of events that led us to where we are today. It’s not where we thought we’d be and the disappointment is still raw and real, but in the last few months, the Lord has constantly reminded me that the is still Hope.

It’s slow, of course, but it’s there. I’m grateful for the friends I made in Tanzania who were there as God began to work His plan. Many of them will be there this weekend and I’m so looking forward to touching base again.

I wish I could take all of you with me as I experience the magic of Disney this weekend. I’ll do my best to give you a glimpse of it all here. I’ll also try to eat a Mickey treat in your honor.

It’s a sacrifice, but it’s one I’m willing to make for you all.

Zippety Aye!


Cinco de I’m Tired…

I distinctly remember leaving the hospital with Sloan and as the nurse wheeled me out, she patted me gently on the shoulder and said, “Good luck, honey and enjoy it. Motherhood is a thrill, but exhausting. You won’t sleep well again for the next 20 years.”

She then packed me into the car and waved with a bright smile as Lee and I pulled out of the parking lot, our eyes saucer-wide. I looked back at the sleeping baby in the back seat and thought, “Whatever. All those books I read said he should be on a sleep schedule within 8 weeks. Two months and we’ll be sleeping all night again.”

No, it’s fine. You can laugh. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

I have been at this motherhood thing for almost a decade now and I can say with certainty I haven’t gone a single month in the last 118 months where I have been permitted to sleep well every night. People…I am exhausted. E-X-HAUSTED!

I mean, it’s awesome. Don’t get me wrong. If we’re being honest, you should know that I was never a great sleeper to begin with. There are stories that my parents like to tell of me not sleeping at all when I was a baby. Oddly enough, they tell these stories with a tiny bit of glee whenever I mention the kids keeping me up all night….

Between bed wetting, nightmares, random fevers, falling out of bed, the dog barking at phantom shadows, the power tripping which sets off the alarm (C’MON!!!!) and down the list it goes, I am exhausted. Right now, I don’t want a month of uninterrupted sleep – I just want one week. Just a week!

Heck – I’d settle for a Saturday morning where I got to sleep until 8:00.

Or…you know what? I’ll just take another cup of coffee. It’s the best I can do for, well at least for the next 15 years, right?

While I sip my Cup ‘O Joe, you can enjoy these pictures. They make the sleepless nights totally mostly worth it. (You’ll notice Landon is missing from all these shots. He is the one with the fever who woke me up at 4:30. Tia is the one who fell out of bed. I’m going to need two more cups of coffee.)


Radical Friendship

Friends are important for so many reasons.


We were not created to be a solitary group of creatures. Companionship is necessary. We are made to live together. Friends fill in the cavernous spaces of the heart. They offer laughter when tears threaten. They fill the silences and keep life from ever growing dull. For all people, friends are incredibly important.

For women, friendship is a necessity. Without the blessing of friendship, we ladies would grow old too quickly. We would be shrewd and angry and sad and…lonely. Good friends call you just to say hi, they drop real life letters in the mail (the kind made of paper with honest to goodness writing on it) and they bring you a Green Tea straight up because they paid attention that last time you met at Starbucks.

Good friends know that when a friend is in need, even if she lives several states away, you get on a plane, grab a hotel room and cry cross legged on the floor together.

You know what else good friends do?

They read your novel and tell you what they loved, what they didn’t and prescribe a heavy dose of poetry to cure the rough patches of the books. Good friends take your desperate email with a plea for help in writing a bio for the book proposal because if they leave you to try and conquer this task on your own, the bio will read:

“Kelli is a little bit sweet and a whole lot sassy. She enjoys long, luxurious walks on the beach, a hot bath and reading her Bible every day. She is a Calypso Queen who spends her days frolicking in the clouds of her imagination. She loves hummingbirds, ice cream and daisies and believes that books make the world a better place.”

I’m kidding with that example, but just barely. I hate writing bios. I find few things more awkward and uncomfortable than trying to describe myself in the third person. So I dashed out a very basic outline of a bio (and no joke, I looked through a minimum of fifteen books, reading through every author’s bio so I could make myself sound super author-y and radical…).

Then I sent it off to my friends who quickly shaped it up, cleaned out the fluff, laughed at with me, and gave it back sounding much more author-y and radical. I also sent them a group of head shots and asked for help picking the right one because ACK! The pressure.

Not to worry, though. One of these friends? She’s an actress as well as a writer so she has some expertise in the area of head shots. She got me straightened out.

Yep, friends are important for a lot of reasons. Even if they live hundreds (or thousands) of miles away, they can still have a huge influence and impact. What’s even better about this story is I will be reunited with my two dear (and helpful) friends in just one short month when we make our annual trek out to California for our writer’s retreat.

I am blessed. So, so blessed.

So go hug a friend today, everyone! Send a letter, pick up the phone, share the love! I’m going to stop before this blog post ends up as ridiculous and cheesy as one of my bios…


What is Obvious is This: I Stink at Waiting

My sweet, sweet online friends. I am not in a happy, happy, joy, joy mood these days. I’m lost in introspection and I am, once again, fighting a wave of emotion that follows this path of shattered dreams. I convince myself that it’s not worth this amount of emotional energy – that compared to the problems people are facing all over the world, mine is small and miniscule and hardly worth the river of tears I seem prone to spill.

And yet…

I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking to God over this one. With the statistics rolling through my brain of the millions of orphaned children worldwide that are breathing the toxic air of feeling unwanted, unloved, unneeded and unseen, I question why this road has been so hard for us.

I’ve tried to wrap my mind around this situation from a theological standpoint. I know God to be Omniscient and Omnipotent. The Past and the Future all belong to His Present Now. He is not swayed or affected by time, nor is he a magician who must consult the cracked glass of a crystal ball to understand what will come tomorrow.

So when we began this process, He already knew. He knew we would not finish what we started – at least not in the manner in which we started it. As a balm, I’ve tried to convince myself that this means we were never supposed to have a child from Russia.


I tell myself that God didn’t want us to bring a Russian orphan home, because if He did, we would have been able to do so.


That’s a really nice way to try and weasel my way out of this predicament of heartache, but I must confess I am not doing a very good job at convincing myself of its truth. Because in the back of my mind I wonder What if?

What if we were supposed to and the sin of this world prevented it?

Ah, but that negates God’s Omniscience.

This is the point that smoke trickles from my ears and I sigh heavily.

I still pray for her, even though perhaps she was never meant to be. Because the fact of the matter is quite simply this: There is a little girl in an orphanage in St. Petersburg who could have had a home. She could have had a father to pick her up and tell her that she was loved and wanted and beautiful. She could have had a mother to shower her with kisses from morning until night.

She could have had two big brothers to protect her and a sister to show her the ropes.

I am praying for this little girl and I pray that she still gets those things – her and all of the others like her. I pray that someday the little girl who could have had…will have. Praying this prayer makes it easier for me, in a way. It makes the situation less ambiguous and overwhelming.

Because if I try to pray for the 750,000 orphaned children in Russia I can hardly breathe. But her – the girl that could have had? I can manage to pray for her.

And yet, I still have hope and a sense of wonder at what God is doing here in us? I read this quote by Jen Hatmaker today and it made me gasp because THIS – this is how I feel:

“When you say YES to adoption, you are saying YES to enter the suffering of the orphan, and that suffering includes WAITING FOR YOU TO GET TO THEM. I promise you, their suffering is worse than yours. We say YES to the tears, YES to the longing, YES to the maddening process, YES to the money, YES to hope, YES to the screaming frustration of it all, YES to going the distance through every unforeseen discouragement and delay. Do not imagine that something outside of “your perfect plan” means you heard God wrong. There is NO perfect adoption. EVERY adoption has snags. We Americans invented the “show me a sign” or “this is a sign” or “this must mean God is closing a door” or “God must not be in this because it is hard,” but all that is garbage. You know what’s hard? Being an orphan. They need us to be champions and heroes for them, fighting like hell to get them home. So we will. We may cry and rage and scream and wail in the process, but get them home we will.”
Jen Hatmaker

On Christmas day, when I sat alone in front of the tree, I had visions of a child dancing around it – a child whose face was not yet revealed to me. And I knew I needed to wait, but wait for what? I don’t know what I’m waiting for and I’m so tired of waiting. Were those visions merely projections of something that I just desperately want, or were they true visions of something to come?

I don’t know. I wish I could say for certain, but I just don’t know.

You know what is beautiful, though? God’s mercies in the waiting. On Monday, my newest nephew made his entrance into this world. (His Mom is Becke‘. You know Becke’, don’t you? You should know Becke’…)


Everyone, meet Asher:


I mean…how beautiful is he and how much do you want to kiss those squishy baby cheeks? And you know what? This precious baby is a picture of grace. He was prayed for and waited for and there were bumps in the road, and heartaches to be worked through but God was faithful to deliver what the heart desired.

Some days, when I’m feeling particularly dark, the only thing I can cling to is the knowledge that God is not cruel. I know that He isn’t, and so I repeat it.

But other days I find that I’m able to go a step further and say, He is so good. I look at Asher and I can say without reservation He Is So Good. 

I’m not good at the waiting, but I’m trying and I’m learning and I’m stumbling through it. That’s the best I can do right now and somehow…


I think it’s enough.