Don’t Worry Be Happy


The life of a grown up is not nearly as romantic and fun as I dreamed it would be when I was younger. I didn’t understand the responsibility that came with being an adult. I didn’t know that endless laundry, a constantly messy house, bills, fatigue, arguing children, and everything else that happens day in and day out would be such a drag.

I tend to get bogged down in it all from time to time.

I’m annoyed with my dirty house. It was clean two hours ago.

I’m annoyed with the laundry. It’s never done.

I’m annoyed with the bills. They never stop showing up.

I’m annoyed with the responsibility. It’s unending.

I’m annoyed with the arguing. Why are you fighting about an invisible piece of pie?!

On and on the list goes until I feel like the Grinch, my heart two sizes too small, and my patience stretched thin.

On Saturday we were preparing to host a dinner, and as I cleaned the house again, I felt an actual scowl forming. Blah, blah, blah. Grumble, grumble, grumble. As I set the table, Tia and Landon came racing through the kitchen squealing and laughing hysterically at who knows what.

“Slow down,” I called after them. They didn’t hear the sound of my advice over all their joy and laughter. The nerve. 

A few minutes later, they came racing through again, high pitched squeals and delighted laughter cutting into my grumbly heart. “Guys!” I called, a bit exasperated. “Slow down, please. You’re going to get hurt.”

“We can’t help it, Mom!” Landon called. “WE’RE JUST SO HAPPY!”

And off they ran, still laughing, still squealing, still slicing through my grown up bam humbugity. And just like that, my heart swelled, and I remembered that life is fun if you let it be fun.

Thank God for kids to remind me.

Happy Monday, friends. I pray that it’s JUST SO HAPPY!

The One Where I Brag on My Kids

Last night Lee and I took a little time to debrief. We haven’t really had time to talk this last month, to process all that was happening. It was sort of survival of the fittest around here, and since he went down hard with the flu, we’ve just passed each other in the house this past week with little more than a few mental high fives, and withered looks of fatigue.

2013 was a big year for us. Now that we’re on the other side of it and can look back and take stock, I’m amazed to see at all that happened in those 12 months. They were undoubtably the hardest months of our lives, and at the same time, with hind sight providing some clarity, I can see just how blessed last year really was.


And my kids? You guys, they were just amazing.



My kids saw and experienced more in the last year than they ever have before. They witnessed abject poverty when we went to Dominican Republic in June. They served many Saturdays at our church’s food pantry, and they helped serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in desperate need of assistance. They helped make shoes for children in Africa, and they delivered a car full of toys to children in the hospital.

And then, to top it off, we asked them to make the biggest sacrifice of all – we asked them to open their hearts to love a 17 year old girl from half way around the world, and they did it without hesitation.

roomSloan gave up his bedroom for a month, letting me turn it into a pink and grey girl room. He never complained, never asked why. He didn’t whine, and he didn’t once make us feel bad about the decision to put her in there. I could not be more grateful for his attitude. 

Tia sacrificed being the only princess girl in the house. She gave up a bit of her autonomy as the coveted female, and she willingly shared her daddy with K for four weeks. We had less time to spend watching her do gymnastics, and when it was time to play with makeup or paint nails, it was always three of us participating in the activities. She didn’t complain or react in jealousy, but freely gave up her coveted one on one time with us. I’m so, so proud of her.

Landon did what Landon always does. Pulled out a ball and asked K to play. The language barrier didn’t matter to him, and he willingly and daily asked her to play with him. Most days she said yes to his inquiries, but sometimes she said no, and when she did he moved on without complaint. He was so gracious and loving toward her. What a precious boy he is.

I’m bragging on my kids today because they deserve it. They aren’t perfect kids, and they have their moments, as any child does. But they gave up a lot this past year. We asked them to make sacrifices of comfort and time and material things to the benefit of others, and every time we placed a challenge in front of them, they met it.

When we began the adoption process a year and a half ago, we were warned more than once to be careful that our children weren’t sacrificed in the quest to bring someone new into our home. While such warnings are wise, and should be considered, the fact is this: our children (mine and yours) are a heckuva lot stronger than we often give them credit. Kids love to know they’re being helpfulthat they’re being used to make someone else’s life better.


I saw this not only in my own children, but also in their friends while K was here. So many of their friends wanted to be a part of blessing K, and they really, really did! They gave her rainbow loom bracelets and 1 Direction cards. They laughed with her, and shared smiles and waves that communicated so much love. K went home blessed by more than just my kids, without doubt.

If you’re looking at stepping outside your comfort zone this year and trying something different – something that might be hard – I encourage you to let your kids take the journey with you. And as you do, watch and observe how they respond.

I can almost guarantee they will surprise you.

Half a dozen years

My baby is six today. This child brings so much joy to our family, and I am grateful every single day for his smile, his humor, his giggles, his freckles, his energy, his sweetness.

He is so precious to me.


He’s currently keeping his hair longer because, in his words, “I wanna be able to flip it.” Um…okay.

He's always good for a laugh.

He’s always good for a laugh.

That face. I could cover it with smooches if he'd let me...

That face. I could cover it with smooches if he’d let me…




Goof take 2

Goof take 2

Perhaps his biggest flaw is that he knows he's cute, and he works it.

Perhaps his biggest flaw is that he knows he’s cute, and he works it.

Skinned knees and elbows are part of his every day wardrobe. "Play hard of Go Home." That's his motto.

Skinned knees and elbows are part of his every day wardrobe. “Play hard of Go Home.” That’s his motto.


He hates shoes so this is what his feet look like every moment of every day.

He hates shoes so this is what his feet look like every moment of every day.

He continues to grow taller, yet he has only gained about 4 pounds in the last three years. He's a scrawny little bugger...

He continues to grow taller, yet he has only gained about 4 pounds in the last three years. He’s a scrawny little bugger…


All the girls have crushes on him. What can I say? Chicks dig freckles...

All the girls have crushes on him. What can I say? Chicks dig freckles…

I’m constantly wishing I could freeze time with this kid, and yet each new season brings out a new aspect of his personality that is so much fun. I can’t wait to see what he becomes in the future.

Posts of birthdays past if you’re interested:

Someone’s One – December 16, 2008

To My Son on His Birthday – December 16, 2009

My Christmas Baby – December 16, 2010

Four is More – December 16, 2011

Delightfully Five – December 16, 2012

Ghosts of Christmases Past

I took my kids to see Santa yesterday. This is probably our last year with everyone believing, so I wanted to mark it well. As we walked away from the jolly man in red, I asked Landon how the encounter went.

“He smelled like beef and cheese,” he responded. “He sits on a throne of lies.”

And then I fell over laughing. Every family has a “funny one,” right?

And for those of you who are thoroughly confused as to why that’s so funny, I leave you with this clip from the movie ELF, and I order that you go watch the movie in it’s entirety today. Do not go another day without having seen the entire film.


Christmas 2004 – A traumatized Sloan


Sloan and Tia in 2009 with “Dyed Moroz,” the Russian Santa.

Christmas '08 033

Christmas 2008 – A traumatized Landon


Christmas 2013 – the last when they all believe. *sob*

Merry Christmas, everyone. Here’s to one more year of magic and laughter…

Scenes from a (crazy) (blessed) weekend

We packed last weekend full of as much activity as we possible could in order to fit everything in before Christmas. Birthday parties, an all day training for orphan hosting, and our annual Christmas party left us completely spent last night.

But it was all so fun!

I baked, cleaned, baked, cleaned some more, set up, tore down, set up, tore down again, and on and on it went, and when it was all said and done and the dust settled we were left with great memories, and sweet blessings shared.

Today I’m just going to share a few photos of our crazy weekend. I’ll be writing later this week about the impact our Christmas party had on us, and will hopefully have both locally and internationally.

We are blessed, indeed.

We kicked off the weekend by celebrating Landon’s upcoming 6th birthday.


I managed to control 15 kindergartners, a piñata, and a metal bat all by myself WITHOUT BEING BLUDGEONED TO DEATH! Someone give me a medal. Or a stiff drink. Either will do…


Don’t you love how much kids enjoy celebrating one another?!


A 6 year old opening gifts in front of his friends – the definition of claustrophobia…


On Sunday we hosted our annual Christmas party in which we gathered toys for The Ronald McDonald House, and this year we teamed up with Sole Hope to cut shoes for Ugandan children.


So many people we’re blessed to know.


Cutting out old jeans, which will be made into shoes for children. So simple. So effective.


Sweet friends working hard. We cut enough fabric to assemble 30 complete pairs of shoes. 


It’s not a party without a wicked game of soccer, football, baseball, tag…


Lee reading the story of the birth of Christ, and why we love to bless and give to others, because so much has already been done for us.


Tia and Landon helped me assemble the shoe kits Sunday night, which will now be sent to Uganda to be sewn together.


We have one week left to prepare for Christmas before our sweet “K” arrives to spend a month with us. I am admittedly a little overwhelmed, and also relieved to have last weekend under my belt. But what a blessing it is to be able to pour ourselves out to the greater benefit of others. It’s not easy, but the reward is worth the lack of sleep, the stress, and the work involved.

I can’t wait to share more with you all this week about the way the Lord has blessed us by giving us opportunities to bless others!

Happy Monday, friends!


Insta-Wednesday is BACK!

My dog ran off this morning and came home covered in crap – LITERALLY. She’s an old woman, but when she sees a pile of poo, the puppy in her comes out and she cannot resist. So I spent a solid fifteen minutes chasing her around the yard with the hose, and now I smell like a wet, crappy dog.

You’re jealous of my glamorous life…

Insta-Wednesday photos for you to view while I go clean up.


Tia’s cheering square at her meet Sunday. Sweetness.


We served a Thanksgiving meal to people in need at our church’s food pantry Saturday morning. 


You know…just monkeying around. And still loving’ our St. Louis Cardinals!


I just don’t even have words to describe this photo…


Lovin’ this Florida Fall Weather!

And last but not least – video evidence that my growing addiction and need for strong caffeine is warranted and justified. This was shot before 7:00 am, and before I’d completed my first cup of coffee. Their energy exceeds mine by miles….


The Greatest Version of The Star Spangled Banner You’ll Ever Hear


Prince Charming.

It’s all in there, folks.

You’ve never heard The Star Spangled Banner sung quite like this.




Throwback Thursday: A repost with added pictures to make it totally random

Between end of the year craziness (Yes, we’re still in school because apparently Florida hates children) and a tropical depression that has settled on top of us (it’s like a cruel joke to have to get up and out to school on a day when it’s dark and steadily raining – I think Mother Nature is mad at Florida…probably for hating kids), I just don’t have any decent blog posts in me. 

But I have pictures and I have an old blog post that still makes me laugh…and cringe. Pictures first:

Remember when Landon looked like this?


Yesterday I went to his end of the year preschool program where they had those babies in caps and gowns and I almost died from the cute. This is my Landon now:


At one point the preschool director got up and started talking about how we only have 13 years left with these kids at home and how quickly that time will go and I briefly envisioned throwing a shoe at her, but I refrained because that would be inappropriate.

But for real.

To make this post just a little more random and to not tie it together at all, I’m going to leave you with a post that I originally published in October 2010. I wrote this after a rather unfortunate incident that occurred upon cleaning out my minivan.

Not hot.


Saturday night found Lee and I in the minivan, kids in tow, heading out to the mattress store to purchase two new mattresses.  Never mind that the kids desperately needed them.  Never mind that Tia’s mattress was so cheap that is was literally falling apart and becoming a potential hazard.  Never mind  that both mattresses had been peed on so many times they could be deemed a health code violation.  Never mind any of those things.  The fact is simply this:

I went out on Saturday evening to buy mattresses and thought it was fun.

Hi, my name is Kelli and I am a  bona fide minivan mom.

Ah, but we haven’t even got to the best part of the story.  What?  Surely you know there would be more to this story than the fact that I had a hoot buying twin mattresses on a Saturday night, right?  A hoot!

It was the incident that occurred when we returned home that sent my world aspinnin’.  It started simple.  We came home so Lee could drop the kids and I off and return to the mattress store to pick up our most exciting purchases.  We had to remove the car seats and fold down the back seats and clean up a bit.  And it was during this event that I began to question my entire identity.

The title of my blog is Minivans Are Hot.  With the operative word being Hot.   I know, I know…Minivan and Hot together in a sentence is an oxymoron.  And most days I would beg to differ and would launch into a diatribe about how it’s sexy to be a mom and how minivan moms have it goin’ on and I would work my hardest to convince you that I was right.  Until Saturday night…

What I found in the back seat of my minivan was anything but Hot.  Let’s start with what I found under the seat, shall we?  It was sticky…it was brown…it had flecks of leaves and dirt stuck to it.  What was that?!

From there I removed the kids car seats to find enough dried, crumbled food to feed a small pack of wild baboons.  It was sealed into the lining of the seat fabric and had to be scraped out with my fingernail.  *heave*  Don’t even get me started on what  I found in their seats.

But the piece de resitance came when I crawled into the way back and looked inside the cup holder.  It is here that I gasped, looked at my husband and exclaimed, “Gross!  This is why minivans are NOT. HOT.”  Then I clutched my chest with the gravity of my statement and fell in dramatic Disney Princess fashion onto the seat, the back of my hand against my forehead…

No I didn’t.  That last part didn’t happen – mostly because I wouldn’t want to lay on those seats for $100.  Maybe for $1000, though.

In the cup holder sat dried, crusted, molded bread.  It appears my children are stock piling food in the back seat of our minivan in the event that a giant meteor should come crashing down to earth and we need to seek shelter inside the car for a significant amount of time.  It also appears that they have eaten portions of a sandwich and then shoved the remaining portion in the cup holder and have, every day for who knows how long, been looking at this rotting sandwich and ignoring it.

It’s like I’m raising little cave people!

I promptly dug out the rot and marched to the trash can.  My husband, sensing my impending melt down went dashing for the Shop Vac in the basement.  Being the super hero that he is, he spent the next half hour sucking the muck out of our minivan while I went inside and lectured my children on the importance of throwing away rotten food.  I also tried to talk myself out of changing my blog title from Minivans Are Hot to Minivans Are A Place Where Horrors grow Beneathe the Seats and in the Cupholders While You Yourself Obliviously Drive From Here to There Thinking You Are Looking Fine When Really You Are Controlling a Moving Science Experiment.

But in typical Hero fashion, my man came inside just as I was certain that my entire online identity was going to have to be realtered and yelled “Ta-Da!”  I walked outside to see the seats clean (hey look!  The fabric’s grey…) The cup holders clean…er.  They still have a sticky substance that I can only assume will need to be chisled out at some point (probably just before we decide to sell the car).  And it smelled much more pleasant too.  It was actually quite nice in there.

I smiled at him and jumped into his arms.  Small birds flitted about our heads as he spun me around and when we kissed little animated hearts floated up into the dusky sky.

Alright…that last part didn’t happen either.  Sometimes I wish I lived in a cartoon.

Despite the cleanliness of my car, however, I couldn’t shake the fact that I had outwardly acknowledged the un-hotness of my minivan.  And so I’m here to retrain my mind.  And if any of you are having a hard time believeing that Minivans Are Hot like I am, then why don’t you join in with me as we repeat the mantra over and over.

Minivans are hot, minivans are hot, minivans are hot, minivans are not, minivans are not…


Let’s try again.

Minivans are hot, minivans are hot, minivans are hot…

Do you believe it?

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.)



He wakes up every morning with one thing on his mind: When can I play/watch/talk about baseball? It is his life passion and I know without a shadow of a doubt that this kid was created to play sports.

As a sidenote, I also think he was created to be a Florida boy because he finds pants, shoes and shirts to be terribly cumbersome and restrictive.

Most mornings, this freckle-faced child of mine stumbles from his bed to the couch where he lays half awake, unable to function or move unless someone pulls out a ball and starts bouncing it. Then he goes from barely functional to crazy person in less than a second. In fact, when someone pulls out a ball, Landon usually reacts a bit like Buddy the Elf upon seeing Santa Clause:

Seriously. When someone pulls out a ball you can see his pulse quicken. It’s a game with a a ball?! A GAME WITH A BALL!!!!!!!

The sight of a baseball, or football, or basketball or anything round that can be tossed or caught sends him into such a frenzy of excitement it’s hard not to laugh out loud. When he plays ball, if the people he’s playing with lose interest in the game or begin messing around, he grows agitated and annoyed.

“Just play the game!” he can be heard yelling over and over. He has no patience for shenanigans when it comes to playing ball. This boy was created to play ball. How do I know this?

Because he has been enamored with balls since before he could walk. In fact, he was barely sitting independently the first time I set a ball in front of him and his face lit up as he rolled it from hand to hand. When he was 8 months old, we sat on the sidelines of Sloan’s soccer game and Landon crawled after a soccer ball for an hour, giggling and laughing as though he were frolicking with a long lost friend.

He’s been able to hit a baseball thrown to him since before he turned 2 and he was dribbling a basketball with near perfection by 2.5. Remember this video?

But by far, right now, his greatest affection lies with the game of baseball. He spends hours a day throwing the ball against the house outside. He practices catching it with his left hand, and then with his right hand. He narrates his own imaginary game and he is, of course, always the winner.

Perhaps one of the things I love most about this kid is his unabashed enjoyment of life. Every moment is a gift and he is fully engaged in the enjoyment of those moments – even the few moments that don’t include baseball. Yesterday I walked the dog around the block and he rode his bike alongside. As he pedaled hard, his training wheels keeping him firmly upright, he flew passed me, the wind pushing his white hair back off his forehead.

“WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” he screamed, lifting his legs off the pedals and grinning wide. “This. Is. AAAWWWWEEESSSSOOOOMMMEEE!”

Life is such a gift, isn’t it? I pray we all embrace the zeal of a five year old today and soak it in. Roll the windows down, let the wind whip through your hair and grin wide. And if you’re feeling brave, give a shout of joy. I think we could all use a little zeal, yes? In light of recent events, it’s refreshing to remember that life is an awesome gift and joy comes in the enjoyment of the present moment.


Happy Friday and happy weekend!