Cry Me a Freakin’ River: Part Two

“It’s only hair,” I keep whispering every time this small boy comes strolling by. He glances up at me out of the corner of his eye and gives me that mischevious grin and I blink back the tears. “It’s only hair. It’s only hair. It’s only hair.”

That is my mantra.

I got Landon’s hair cut this weekend and in doing so, I went ahead and ripped my heart out and handed it to him. He’s carrying it around in his back pocket now…

Geez, Kelli.  Get a grip.  It’s only a haircut.

You’re right.  It is only a haircut.  But it also is one more step forward out of babydom and I’ve told you before, I’m not ready for these toddler years to end.  Everytime I look at Landon, I still see this kid:

And this one:


But somewhere along the way, my baby with the Bieber hair turned into a boy with opinions.  He possesses clarity and wit and can connect events and moments together in a coherent manner.  He is one month from four and I am fighting off a minor panic attack.

“I wanna hab thpike haiwr,” he told me as we walked into the salon.  And I fought off tears as I watched the stylist shave off his long surfer dude locks and give him the big boy spiked haircut he desired.  I knew in doing so, we were officially saying goodbye to the baby.

I don’t know what it is about this kid, but he has had me wrapped, tied and sewn around his little finger since the day he came squalling into the world.  He is a delight and of the three, he is the one I most long to hold back…to slow down.  Sloan has always been so big and advanced that watching him grow and get older, while still emotional, has been exciting.  I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.

Tia has developed so many interesting and beautiful traits in the last year that I am delighting in her growth.

But Landon…

Maybe it’s because he’s the baby.  Perhaps it’s due to the fact that he’s such a munchkin that I sometime forget he’s almost four.  It could be that he’s the most affectionate of the three, still wanting to snuggle close throughout the day.

Whatever the case, he’s the one that makes me long for a pause button.  I wish I could just make time stop, so I could really, truly cherish the moments when he presses his soft cheek to mine.

Before his cheeks thin out and his torso lengthens, I want to just hold him and breathe him in.  Before his muscles are defined and he develops the sinewy body of a little man, I want to tickle his Buddha belly and feel the powdery soft flesh of his arms.  I want to hear his laugh and memorize his movements.  I want to kiss his nose and feel his tiny hand pressed in mine.  I want to feel the warmth of his weight snuggled against my chest in the darkness of the early morning.

I want every one of those moments to be doubled.

He wanted to stop taking pictures. I think he's giving me the bird...

I know there are delightful days to come.  I know without a doubt that the joy and light that this child brings to our family won’t be dimmed with age.  But for now, for today, I feel a mixture of emotions.

I am sad that he is growing so fast.  I’m sad that a simple haircut changed him from a baby to a boy in an instant.

I’m excited to see what the future holds.  Because he is my third born, I know there are milestones and joys that lie ahead.  There are changes to come that are natural and good and I am anxiously awaiting the process of watching not only Landon, but all three of my children grow up.  It’s beautiful and wonderful and thrilling and exhausting and I’m overjoyed that I get to be witness to their growth.

I just wish that it didn’t have to happen so fast.

Takin’ Care of Business

This post comes to you with a sheepish, yet polite, request for help.  I hate talkin’ shop, but wanted to just toss a few little things out there.  Don’t worry, though.  This post won’t be all dry.  I’ve got a gem of a story to tell you at the end.

It’s my dangling carrot.

So here’s the deal, friends.  I stink at self-promotion.  It makes me wildly uncomfortable.  As I told someone recently, it makes me feel a bit like the girl standing on top of a table in a crowded room and screaming LOOK AT ME!!  And I’ve never been much of a table top kind of girl.


But, my goal in the next few months is to beef up the readership and participation on my blog.  And to do that, I need your help.  If you read something on here that you like, would you mind forwarding it on?  You can hit the little Facebook button at the bottom of the page, or if you’re the Tweetin’ kind, you can give a little Tweet.

You know…if you want.

Also, well I don’t talk about it much and, to be quite honest, I don’t utilize it much, but I DO have a Minivans Are Hot Facebook page that you can like by clicking riiiiiiight…here.  You don’t have to drive a minivan to like the Facebook page, but I will warn you that should you choose to follow the blog AND the Facebook page, you will likely start to feel the pull of the minivan.

Because minivans are bringing sexy back.



If you do read something you like and have a second or two to respond, well, I’ll confess – I’m a bit of a comment whore.  I promise I will respond to you…or you can respond to one another.  I like community so let’s build a community of minivan lovin’ (or hatin’ – you know who you are) women…and men, too.  I know you guys are reading.

Finally in the manner of business, I would like to ask if there’s anything you guys would like me to specifically write about.  Is there are particular topic you like better?  Is there something you’d like me to avoid discussing (the frequency of my childrens bowel movements?  DONE! – Look how accommodating I am)?

Seriously – let me know.

Now, on to that carrot:

The Scene:

A beautiful, sunny Florida afternoon.  The kids are playing outside while I enjoy a few quiet moments alone to do whatever I want – which means I’m cleaning the kitchen…again. The windows are open and a beautiful, cool fall breeze is drifting in.  Nothing can break the perfection of this moment.  Nothing, that is, until I hear a scream that rattles the glass throughout the house.

The back door flings open aaaaaaaaand CUE DIALOGUE!

“Mooooooooommmmm!!!” Tia shrieks, running into the house all sweaty and red-faced.  Sloan comes running after her with a tormentuous (this is my blog – if I say that’s a word…it’s a word) grin on his face.

“What in the world?” I say as she throws her arms around my waist and cries.  “What’s going on?”

“Sloan stole my gun!” She cried.  Sloan throws his hands up in mock innocence. “What’d I do?” he yells.

“What gun, Tia?” I ask, detaching her from my leg.

“My pwetend gun!  I was fightin’ the bad guys with it and Sloan took it and now the bad guys are gonna kill me!”



“Tia, if it’s a pretend gun, can’t you just get another one?”  I try my best to say this without rolling my eyes.

“Nope, she can’t,” Sloan says with a smirk.  “Because I destroyed all the guns in the imaginary gun shop.”

“Yeah!” Tia cries again.  “And he ate the pie I made for Justin Bieber who was gonna come over for dinner at my pwetend house!  I don’t LIKE Sloan.”  She stomps her foot and runs to her room, slamming her door.

“Whatever!” Sloan yells in return, huffing to his room.

Landon walks in at this moment and strolls past me with string and a crowbar tucked under his arms.

And this folks is why I am slowly but surely losing. my. mind.

The End.

Utah, A Bomb and a Slithering Sea Snake

The first week of school is tucked firmly beneath my belt.  This is fancy talk for, I survived. So did the kids, by the way.  Landon barely.  Apparently I neglected to mention to him when we began that school occurs every. single. day.  So on day two, as he toddled into the kitchen, his morning Cup ‘a Joe nestled firmly between his teeth (read: sippy cup of juice), he asked me the same thing he asks me every morning.

“Mommy?  What we gonna do today?”

“We have school again today.”



Face crumbles, juice falls to the floor and a great deal of weeping doth commence.  “But we alweady did school yestewday!”

Um…yeah.  Apparently school every day isn’t his favorite.  By day five he started to come around, though he never met the news that school was about to begin with much glee.  You can’t please everyone, right?

Not that school was a wash for him.  We worked on learning the States last week.  We labeled them on a map and each day learned to identify a few more.  By the end of the week, Sloan was able to point to and label 30 States.  Tia could label about 15 and then needed a few prompts for the rest.  Landon can point to about 6 when asked where they are.  But all on his own, he can label one State.


For some reason Utah. Not Florida.  Not Missouri.  Utah.


There is no way for me to answer that question.  I don’t know why.  All I know is my three year old can point to Utah when shown a blank map.  I am so proud.


We are one with the fish


As a reward for a great first week of school, we finished lessons early on Friday and headed to the The Florida Aquarium in Tampa.  We got up close and personal with the sting rays, we growled at the sharks and we made silly faces at the alligators.  And we topped it all off with some good old fashioned water play.



As an impromptu history lesson, we walked next door to the American Victory Ship, one of only four operational World War II ships in the country.  It was the end of the day and they were preparing to close, but they let us have the run of the ship before shutting everything down.  We rang the bells, visited the captain’s quarters and fought mighty battles against the enemy warships and alien droids.

We won each battle with nary an injury.  It was truly a victorious ship.

Just before leaving, one of the sailors aboard the ship took us into the Engine Room and gave us a quick history lesson.  The ship was built 70 years ago (not 60 hundred as Landon guessed…by hey – he can identify Utah, right?).  And the massive vessel was built in only 55 days.  Not 25 years as Sloan guessed.  But hey…he can point to 30 States on a map, right?

“Can you take us out on a ride in this ship?” Sloan asked the Sailor-man.  I just wish my child wasn’t so shy, ya know?

“Well, no.  Not right now.  We’re dry docked right now.  There are a lot of things that need to be done to get a ship out to sea.”

“Oh,” Sloan said, not masking his disappointment at all.  This week’s homeschooling theme is “Tact and How To Use It.”

Seeing his crestfallen face, Sailor-man smiled.  “You know,” he said.  “Every once in awhile we do take this beautiful ship out for a spin on the water.  You have your mom find out when we’re going to do that again and make sure you all come out to take a ride with us, okay?”

Sloan grinned and clasped his hands together at his chest.  “Okay!” he cried, his eyes dancing.  “When we go out, can you shoot off a bomb? Please?” He did use lovely manners making his Mama brim with pride.

“Well,” Sailor-man said, his own eyes twinkling, “Now I’m afraid that’s frowned upon…”

Pause.  Silence.

“What do you mean?” Sloan asked.

And we all laughed.  Me with the “Oh I’m so embarrassed I will explain this to him later” Mom laugh, and Sailor-man with the “I used to be a little boy and I had a few little boys of my own so I totally understand what’s going on inside his head” laugh.  And off we went.

Sunday night brought beautiful, perfect Florida weather.  There was an ocean breeze perfect for fishing and we traipsed down to the dock at sunset where Sloan immediately snagged a beautiful, large blue crab.  After a bit of dancing and a whole lot of finagling, we got him in the bucket and gave him a pinfish to play with.  Lee pulled in a good sized catfish that we all ooed and aahed over until it came time to take him off the hook, then we all scattered and let Lee handle the honors alone.

We’re a brave bunch.

The night ended early, however, when Sloan’s line bent over and he struggled and fought and pulled up a…friggin’ snake. When we figured out that’s what was on his line, Tia sprouted wings and flew 50 feet in less than a second.  I danced and yelped while Lee held his arms straight out and yelled “STOP!  Do not pull that thing in.”  He grabbed the pole and shook it until the long (too long) sea monster finally fell off.  And with our hearts hammering in our throats, we packed it in and marched inside, cooking our crab for a little late night snack.

How was your holiday weekend?


Our bedtime snack, courtesy of Sloan.

What was important is now a necessity

Three weeks ago Landon wouldn’t put his face under water without a good deal of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  If water splashed even in the vicinity of his eyes, he wailed and stumbled around blindly until he was given a towel to wipe away the unwelcome and foreign liquid from his face.

Then one day he decided he wasn’t scared anymore.  And now I’m the one who is terrified.  Because my cautious baby with a healthy respect for the water has turned into this:

While in the ocean, he is required to leave his swim vest on.  As soon as we enter the pool, though, the vest comes off and he is ninety to nothin’, balls to the walls, kamikaze, I’m-gonna-cause-Mama-to-gray-early scary.  Twice we’ve had to tell him not to do front flips off the side. To which he replies with wide eyes, “Why, Mom?  It’s so fun!”

This is why, starting tomorrow, he will be in swim lessons every day for the next two weeks.  Fun for him, peace of mind for me – everybody wins.  I knew swim lessons were going to be important when we moved to Florida.  Now, however, they have become a necessity.

While the other two were brave in the water, neither were this…um…terrifying.  Here they all are (with my cousin Leslie’s little boy) jumping off the back of the boat together:

You’ll notice the older three are all wearing masks to prevent salt water up the nose.  Not Landon.  Nope.  Salt water doesn’t phase him a bit.  That kid’s gonna have the cleanest sinuses on the block.

He’s a brave one, my little guy.  I have no idea where he gets it from:

What about you?  Do you have a child who is aging you early?

Good Morning to You


He crawled up in bed next to me and laid his head on my pillow. I rolled over, caught in that fuzzy state between dreams and reality. His soft cheek pressed up against mine, satiny skin dotted with freckles.

I wrapped my arm around him and pulled him close, breathing in deep the smell of little boy. Summer is in his hair – dirt, sunscreen and sweat. My eyes have yet to open but I feel his eyes on me, his breath smelling of apple juice. I squeeze him close and I hear his mouth stretch into a smile. His tiny little arm wraps around me and he returns the early morning squeeze.

Pure bliss.

“Good morning, buddy,” I say, finally forcing my heavy lids to part. He looks up at me with wide, crystal blue eyes and his tiny little bow tie mouth leans in for a kiss.  It’s delicious and precious.

“I’m glad to see you,” I whisper in his ear. “How are you this morning?”

There is a quiet pause as his warm little body snuggles close to mine. Then he giggles – magic.

“I jus’ fawted.”


So how was your morning?


I am going to post some pictures, but before I do, I feel compelled to offer this warning:

The photos you are about to view contain images of extreme cuteness.  View with caution, particularly if you are sensitive to happiness, small children and unabashed joy.  These images should not be viewed by the faint of heart or anyone with an aversion to the following items: babies, puppies, rainbows, sunshine or happiness as they will not be emotionally equipped to handle the cute.  If you suffer from hard heartedness, view with caution and with full awareness that you may be forced to smile.  Proceed carefully and it is advisable to let out a hearty “Aaaawww” while viewing to prevent your heart from exploding.

Phew.  Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way, you’re free to look.  Does anything scream childhood more than this?  Tell me.  Anything at all?












Happy Birthday, Mom

So this video isn’t nearly as cool as I wanted it to be. But as we all learned yesterday, I’m not really that cool anyway, so this actually fits quite well.

Today is my awesome Mom’s birthday and she’s half way across the world. I so wanted to fly to England and surprise her for her birthday, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Instead I had the kids write down 60 reasons why they love their Byshka (short for Babyshka – Grandmother in Russian). And here they are, all 60 reasons.

Unfortunately you can’t understand a word Landon says due to his lisp and inability to say several letters but he’s painfully cute so it doesn’t matter.

(A small disclaimer: I promise I bathe my kids, although in this video they are visibly dirty. The bruise on Tia’s chin is the result of an unfortunate run in with a parked car as she sped down the hill on her bike. We’re still working on riding without training wheels. The mark on Landon’s nose is the result of me not clipping his nails soon enough. I have no idea what’s on Sloan’s face. Carry on…)

Mom, I love you and I hope you’re having a grand time in London today. We’re sending kisses from across the pond. I think we’ll even pick up a little birthday cake and eat it in your honor today. So thanks for having a birthday – it gives us an excuse to splurge on a cake. And cake is good.

Love you and see you in a few weeks!!!

Third Born


What is it about third borns that make them so…third bornish?

A free spirit, good for a laugh, the clown.


What is it about third borns that make them so irresistable?

So yummy,  so kissable and sweet?

Full of spunk and maybe just a smattering more cute than the ones who proceeded them?


I read once that a mother always cherishes her last baby just a little more.

I don’t know if this child is our last baby.  If you ask Lee and I both, you’ll get different answers.

I didn’t intend for Landon to be the last and I not so secretly hope he’s not.

But I have cherished the moments with him as if they were the last.


It’s not that I love him more, because I don’t. 

I just love him differently. 

Because he might be my last.

I love this kid differently, too.

Lee-Kelli 10 (2)

Because he’s my firstborn.

The one who first made me a Mom.

I love this one differently, too.


Because she’s my girl.  The splash of pink in a world of blue.

The sugar and spice to their frogs and snails.

I love them all the same.  But different.


But there is something about the third born…

The one who might be the last (but might not)…

It’s hard to put my finger on what it is that makes third borns so much fun.





That’s what it is about third borns.

They’re just fun.

On the wings of love


Before we get started, I’d like to give you a moment to let the cheesy ’80’s ballad wash over you.  Go on, sing it out.  You know you want to…

Feel better?’


There is no great way to transition from obscure ’80’s music to prayer, but I’m gonna give it a try.  Consider yourselves transitioned.

Once upon a time I was an early riser.  While the rest of my generation slept until noon, I could often be found at sunrise jogging through the streets of my neighborhood.  This was pre-baby when I still enjoyed jogging and my body moved in a more coordinated rhythm to make it possible, of course.

In college, I spent many an early morning watching the sunrise as I crammed knowledge into my over-functioning brain.  In early motherhood, when it was me and one tiny baby, I watched the sunrise as I whispered prayers into his ear.  I prayed he would grow into a man of character, a man of grace, a man of stature and wisdom and knowledge.  I prayed that he would be strong and courageous, filled with love and a desire to help those in need.

But something happened to me in the seven years since I three times became mom.  I lost my sense of wonder at the morning.  My bed grew warmer and more comfortable.  My children pitter pattered their way through the house at such an hour that in order to beat them up I really needed to rise while it was still night, just so I could welcome the morning.

With this unfortunate phenomena, I also lost my ability to passionately cry out on their behalf.  My prayers for them became kernels of popcorn, popped up here and there throughout the day and rarely scratched the surface of my true desires for them.

“Help him understand love.”  “Give her the courage to fail.”  “Show him who You are.”


A series of issues has brought me to a place of longing once again.  Longing for the morning.  The smell of life rising.  The glint of dew on green grass and the painted reds, oranges and yellows stretched across the sky.  Of darkness fading into morning light.  Of fatigue mixed together with anticipation, staving off the sleep that still lingers.   Longing stillness enough to hear.

To hear the wind blow.  To hear the birds sing.  To hear the Voice, still and small, waiting on the wings of love for my heart’s cry.

(How’s that for blending the ’80’s with prayer, eh?)

And my prayers are rising once again.  A new song, a new desire, a new longing.  I lay them down and wait.  Sometimes I fall asleep in the pool of desire and heartache that I’ve only just surrendered.  Sometimes I wait and listen.

For Sloan I pray Hebrews 10:19-24.  May he be free from the guilt that so often weighs him down and pulls him back, his tender heart torn over sin, yet wrestling with the flesh.  I pray Galations 5:22-23 and 1 Peter 1:5-6: self-control to make the right choices.  I pray for wisdom in mothering such a strong willed, lion hearted child.  I offer praise for being chosen for a clearly difficult task.

For Katya I pray 2 Timothy 2:10, that her heart would be turned toward the Savior and she would desire to know Him.  I pray Colossians 3:12, that she would be free from the apathy that her spirit seems bent toward and would be filled with compassion.  I pray 1 Thesselonians 5:15, that she would find more joy in kindness than she does in torturing her brothers.

I pray that I would have the belief that that last prayer could possibly someday be answered…

For Landon I also pray 2 Timothy 2:10.  I pray that even at a young age, he will know and understand how high and deep and wide and vast is the Father’s Love for him.  I pray Ephesians 6:1.  I pray that he will delight in obedience and that the mischief that brings that twinkle to his eye would be harnessed, but not snuffed out completely.  Because the mischief makes him oh so fun.

I pray verses over my husband that are sacred and are between me and God.

I don’t always give in to the call of the morning.  Though I desperately love it, sometimes the call of my bed is more tempting, more comfortable, easier and warmer.  But as spring is bringing change and decision, I find myself with a bit more urgency to reaquaint with the earliest hours of the day.  And to pour over my children in the quiet that comes so rarely.  I don’t whisper it in their ears anymore, as I am no longer cradling them in the rocking chair.  But I pray that as I release my pleas, they take off on the wings of love and settle within the hearts and spirits of the little ones I love so dearly.

When and how do you pray for your children?

Handstands in Heaven

Alternately titled: Car Ride of Random

We were heading home from Russian school, altogether as a family (in our smokin’ hot minivan that we now officially own, no less.  HAWT!).  It was raining.  Again.  We were tired and a little hungry since I failed in my mom duties and forgot to pack us dinners to go.  But we were together as a family and  that made everything a little bit better.

“Hey Mom,” Sloan piped up.  “Why do girls always pick on me and bully me?”

“Probably because they like you,” I replied.  I know the girls in question and I’m not entirely sure that’s why they’re picking on him.  I think they’re just ornery, but I felt compelled to give the standard issue Mom answer as clearly directed in Article 16, Section C of the Mom’s Bylaws for Dealing with Difficult Questions.

Lee turned around and grinned at Sloan.  “Told ya,” he said.  It’s the standard issue answer for Dad’s as well, apparently.

“But why do they like me?” he asked.

“Because you’re cute and you’re smart and funny.  Why wouldn’t they like you?” I answered.

“Hey Mom,” Tia yelled from the back seat.  It was raining hard, we had to yell.  “When I go to school and I wike some boys, I’m donna bully dem, okay?”

*This is the part where I desperately thumb through the Bylaws. There are no instructions.  No INSTRUCTIONS!*

“No, you shouldn’t pick on boys,” Lee answered quickly.

“Why?” Tia asked.  “You said dats what girls do when dey wike boys.”


“Just don’t pick on boys.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

WAM!  The Golden Rule.  Works every time…

“Hey Mom,” Tia yells again.


“Can we do handstands in heaven?”

Laughter ensues, but then I look in the rearview mirror and see a very serious face.  She wants an answer.

“Well, I don’t see why not,” I say.

“I think you’ll be able to do all the gymnastics you want in heaven,” Lee answered.

“Hey Mom, LOOK!” Landon screeches from his seat.


“I saw a kangaroo back dere by da road.”

You saw a kangaroo?!”

“Yeah!  Turn around.  Mom, turn around,” he’s quite serious.

Lee looks back at him.  “Did you see a kangaroo back there buddy?”

“Yeah!” He cries.

“Was it a real kangaroo?” Sloan asks craning his neck.

“No.  It was pwetend.  It was a pwetend one, Dad.”

And then we were home.

Who says riding in the car is boring?