The really important stuff

Join me today over at Together in 10 as we discuss really, really important stuff…namely, how a Little Black Dress will save date night every single time. I mean, really. That last statement simply screams for a winky face, wouldn’t you agree? 😉

Happy, Happy Weekend Everyone!

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.

Takin’ Care of Business

I haven’t slept well the last couple of weeks.  I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been walking around in a sleep deprived stupor.  By the end of last week I was barely functional by 2:00 every afternoon.  So this week I have made it my mission to get my behind in bed no later than 10:00 every night when the real fatigue strikes.  Usually I push through that fatigue and go to bed at midnight or later only to find I’ve got my second wind and I can’t sleep.

Apparently I’m getting old because that no longer works for me.

Dang it.

I am proud to announce, however, that for two nights in a row I have received 8 or more hours of sleep.  And the strangest thing has happened – the little red squiggly lines in my eyes have disappeared and I have been able to function in the afternoon hours.


This, however, means that it’s been a little more difficult to do my bloggin’ thang.  I like to write blog posts at night before bed and work on my book in the early morning hours.  But when I go to bed too late, I can’t get up early and it becomes this terrible catch 22…or something like that.  Mostly it means I’m a tired mess who’s only half accomplishing worthy tasks.

Alas, that was a terribly long lead up to telling you this:  I have nothing to write about today.  But I have some lovely links to throw your way!

Have you read Stuff Christian Like?  I have heard a lot about it and have read it here and there, but this post made me laugh so hard that I think I will have to officially add him to my blogroll.  I know…he doesn’t even know how lucky he is, does he?

Did you know I have a Facebook page?  Is it wrong to shamelessly promote myself in such a way?  Ahem…well, I do have a Facebook page and if you “Like” it I will make sure to send you a telepathic high five.

Did you know that Angie Smith has a new book coming out?  She is some kind of amazing.  I can’t wait to read it.

Speaking of books, this one isn’t new and the rest of you have probably already read it since I’m sure you’re all way more on top of these sorts of things, but I started Ann Voskamp’s book this week.  Uuuummmm…If you haven’t read it, you’re not my friend.  Wait!  That’s not right.  That’s a terrible thing to say!  What I meant was, you should read it – it’s spectacular.  Her writing makes mine look anemic and sad.  Which is okay. Now go buy her book, then visit her blog.

Okay.  That’s all for today.  I’m off to have a practice morning of school with the kids.  They’re going to be thrilled when they find out.  Surprises are just so much fun, aren’t they?



Sneak Peek

I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a novel.  In actuality I have been working on this book for a decade.  I have started and stopped more times than I can count.  I got 230 pages in the last time I worked on it, but it just didn’t feel right.  I was getting close, but I wasn’t there yet.

In the last few weeks, as I’ve stepped back a bit and gathered my thoughts, something exciting happened:

My characters found their voices.

I felt it all beginning to bubble shortly after the holidays.  Inspiration, confidence, desire and excitement.  All of these formed and gelled and moved into a rhythm that allowed me to sit down and type and suddenly things fell into place.  I’ve known these characters for a long time, but I haven’t truly discovered them.

This week, as I’ve stepped away from the computer, I’ve been inspired.  How could you not be inspired by these views:



I still have a long way to go on this little book of mine and it will be slow going as my opportunities to write often appear in short bursts.  But I feel like I’m finally on the right track (dare I say the “Write” track? *groan*).  Here is a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on while I was away.

The setting: It’s June 22, 1941.  The Soviet Union was just surprise attacked by the Germans.  Each of my characters is loosely based on a true story as I am compiling the stories I heard when I spent a month in Ukraine interviewing veterans.  This character, Luda, has elements of truth mixed with elements of imagination. 


I stood in my small bedroom and glanced into my mother’s hand mirror.  It was the only piece of her I had left.  My father had gotten rid of everything else when she died.  I don’t remember anything about her.  I don’t know what she looked like, or how she smelled.  I don’t know if her laugh sounded like a thousand bells or a babbling brook.  I have imagined her so many times.  I have no photographs to create her image.  There are no grandparents to tell me stories.  So I’m left to my imagination.  I see her as tall and pretty.  Her eyes dance when she talks and her delicate hands feel like silk when she holds me.  In my mind, she is the very picture of love.  In my mind, she sings softly to me each night as I drift to sleep.  In my mind, her voice is a melody and her movements a beat.

But it is only in my mind.

I was two when she died.  I don’t even know what happened.  Father won’t tell me.  The only time he mentions her name is when the vodka bottle is half empty.  My father, at half empty, is pleasant, relaxed, almost happy.  When the bottle is empty he is sad, mournful and wants only to be alone.  Most of my nights are spent wrapping a blanket around the shaking shoulders of my empty bottled father.

My father with a full bottle of vodka is frightening.  This means he’s sober and my full bottled father is filled with dashed dreams and self loathing.  He is the father I fear most.  The full bottled papa is why I keep pouring.


I jump and look in the mirror again.  Is this the same reflection she saw when she looked in it?  Large brown eyes, thick brown hair and a small red mouth?  Today I don’t have time to wonder.  I quickly hide my precious mirror, protecting it from a potential rage of the full bottled father.  Rushing out the door, I smooth my tattered skirt.  My father stands by the front door of our flat, his hand wrapped around a nearly empty bottle of cheap vodka.

I haven’t eaten for two days so he could have his poison.

©Kelli Stuart 2011

Thanks for taking this journey into my imagination with me.  I’m really excited to share it with you all.  Happy Monday!

2011 Goal – I did it

When I was a senior in college, a fire ignited inside me.  It was a love for the written word that I didn’t really know was in me.  It was lit by a few professors who saw something I didn’t and urged me to think bigger.  It was fanned by a fiancee who made me believe the sky was the limit and had bigger dreams for me than I ever dared to dream for myself.  It burst into flame when a man I barely knew took me under his wing and made me his co-author

The fire dulled a bit when I had my first real taste of the publishing world and the challenges that come with pursuing publication.  I had a big break, and I will forever be grateful for it, but there were some roadblocks along the way that made me question whether or not I really had any talent as a writer.  Comments were made that caused me to wonder if, perhaps, I had set too lofty a goal in my endeavors toward authorship. 

Then I had a baby.  And another one.  And another one.  And I just figured the dream of being a writer was over for me.  Until I discovered blogging and met other fabulous writers and wondered if maybe, juuuust maybe, I should give the whole writer thing a second chance.

The end of last year brought some big encouragements my way.  I met people who, despite the fact that they barely knew me, believed in me.  Strangers urged me to write more.*  And I began to wonder and think and ponder and pray.  Still those doubts nagged in the back of my mind.  What if I fail?  What if I’m no good?  What if I’ve set up this expectation that I’m some kind of spectacular communicator of the written word when really I stink?

If any of you read the Christmas letter I sent out that was fraught with typos, you know idea of me being a stellar communicator is laughable…

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe it was time for me to give my own writing a second chance.  So I made a goal for 2011.  I decided that this would be the year I finish my novel.  The same novel that took birth my senior year of college.  The same novel that I spent a month in Ukraine researching when I was pregnant with Sloan.  The same novel that is so stuck in my head it’s difficult for me to even think about writing another story.

I revisited my novel last night.  I liked some of what I read and some of it made me want to roll on broken glass.  But the characters were there waiting for me.  They are still fresh in my mind and their stories are primed for completion.  The trip Lee and I took overseas last fall gave me mighty inspiration for the novel.  Pictures formed in my head that weren’t there before and storylines that once seemed lifeless took breath.

It’s in there.  And I have to get it out.  Do you think I can convince Lee to take me on another European vacation to further my inspiration? 

I don’t know if this book will be any good.  I hope I at least do the characters and the story justice.  The truth is, I know full well I’m not the greatest writer out there.  But I also know that I have a story to tell and if I don’t get it out of my head, I might well explode.  And think of the mess that would make!

Ba-dum Ching!

Yes, the story is there.  And today?  Today I picked it back up again.  Wish me luck.  I really, really do want to finish it.

*To those who have encouraged me over the years, both past and present, I can’t thank you enough.  Most of you have no idea how well timed your words of encouragement were to me.  I am exceedingly grateful to all who have offered words of affirmation when my heart needed it most.

(Incidentally, I do not in any way, shape or form write this post to garner more praise or encouragement or to try and toot my own horn.  I am simply processing the emotions that are swirling inside. Just wanted to make that clear!)

Linky Loo’s

There will be no post here today.  I’m buried under a mountain of work.  You can read the post I wrote for STL Family Life, however, and I really hope that you do because I want as many local folks as possible to go see this show!  An organization called Variety the Children’s Charity has initiated a first of it’s kind theater experience merging children with disabilities with professionals to put on a Broadway style production.  Last year they did Tom Sawyer and this weekend they are doing OLIVER!  I spoke with some of the kids the other night and they are amazing.  I really hope that a lot of people have the chance to see the show because these kids will bless you!  Read more about it here.

I will be writing more in depth about this group and the kids I spoke with tomorrow on where I’ve been brought on as a contributor.  I will also have a post up tomorrow on Artistic where I’ve been contributing for the last several months.  Lots of work to do, which is good but makes for a tired mama.  I planned on getting up at 5 (in the MORNING) today to get some things done but apparently my body had other plans as I involuntarily shut the alarm off and no one woke up until after 7.  Yeesh!

A couple other links for your viewing enjoyment.  A friend of mine recently started a new church here in town called Broadcast.  Their button is on the sidebar.  Check out the website and I encourage you to visit one of their services if you’re looking for a new place to get plugged in.

Also, if you’re not reading Shaun Groves blog…you should be.  He is such a great writer, both funny and poignant, and he has a real depth to his writing.  I always finish his blog posts and walk away thinking a little more deeply.  So add him to your daily reader if you haven’t already.

Alright, I’m off!  I have pumpkin bread in the oven and it’s making my eyes water it smells so good.  I need to peel the kids away from that electronic babysitter called the television and get Tia to school.  Onward!

I learned something about myself today

It’s not totally outside of my capabilities to be organized!  I mean, I’m not a sloth, nor am I completely unorganized.  But in certain areas of my life, I’ve always assumed that I wasn’t created to be one of those “think ahead” kinda girls.  But today I totally thought ahead.

It, um, wasn’t that hard actually.

We leave in two days.  TWO DAYS!  And while I have a million things spinning through my head of what I need to do to get myself ready for a ten days adventure, I also have a gajillion things running through my head of what needs to be done for the little people I am responsible for on a daily basis.  Namely, feeding them while I’m gone.

I am not a bake meals and freeze them ahead of time gal.  In fact, I don’t know how to make a single casserole.  And if I did, I am most certain my children wouldn’t eat it because they’ve never wrapped their lips around a casserole in their lives.  So sorry to my parents and in-laws, but I’m not that organized. 

Baby steps.

But, take a gander at this:


That’s food, food, glorious food!  I shopped today and stocked the freezer so full I almost couldn’t close it.  There’s chicken, beef, fish, frozen vegetables, chicken nuggets, waffles and pancakes in there.  I even bought popsicles and ice cream – two things I never buy – so that you guys could come out on top and be the good guys.

How awesome am I?

Now, check this out:


Milk, juice, fruit, eggs, enough bread to feed the state of Rhode Island, yogurt, lettuce and pickles.  I even restocked the ketchup and barbeque sauce, which have been low/gone for weeks. 

Ah, but that fridge is but the icing on the gigantic cake of awesome!  Check. this. out.


That is an entire cabinet filled with no less than 75 snack baggies all individually filled with a variety of goodies from cereal to trail mix to the ever popular Cheez-Its.  Just grab and go.  No thought, no preparation.  If I were like this more often, folks, my life would be so much easier.

Of course, I would hate to deviate too far from the half crazy world I live in.  If I were really becoming organized I would survey my cabinets before heading to The Walmart.  If I did this I’m most certain I wouldn’t end up with this:



In case you’re wondering, that’s four bottles of Paul Newman salad dressing in the first picture and ten cans of tuna in the second.  Why so much tuna?  It’s hard to say given the fact that we don’t really like tuna.  Lee likes it and he will eat it…when he remembers to since it’s hidden in the cabinet next to the trash can.

Top of the list for our next house?  A Pantry!

The Paul Newman makes a little more sense.  It’s the only dressing we eat and we eat it on just about everything.  Wanna spice up the chicken? Paul Newman.  Wanna add some pop to your beef? Paul Newman.  Wanna fall in love with cucumbers? Paul Newman.  Four jars, though, is a bit excessive.  Again I blame it on the lack of pantry.  Two of those were hiding behind the tea cups and I only found them when I was moving things around to prepare the snack cabinet of awesome.

So parents?  I thought ahead just for you.  I prepared something just for you.  Not a meal, although I may make a pot of spagetti tomorrow for you to have on hand through the weekend.  (Mostly for you – the only kid who will touch spagetti around here is Landon.  Tell me, please, what kind of kid doesn’t like spagetti?!)

And now I’m going to rest my weary head upon a pillow because tomorrow’s project is to tackle the nasty surface called a floor in our home.  Don’t look too closely at that last picture, you might be repulsed at how we are living (but only for about 12 more hours!)

As luck would have it

Part of my Craig’s List money went toward a minor room redecoration.  I never liked the bedding I bought for our king size bed a couple of years ago and last year when we recevied our new furniture it just accented the ugliness of our bedding.  So I bought new bedding.

Here’s the thing – I don’t have a decorator’s bone in my body.  Which makes the fact that I recently started freelancing for a decorator’s blog slightly humorous, wouldn’t you say?  The fact is, I just don’t know how to put together a room.  I don’t know what looks good where, how to hang photos, what pieces to use for accents – it’s just not my strong suit.  So given that knowledge, I’m pretty proud of the minor changes I made to our bedroom.


Obviously, finding the right bedding was my first goal.  As soon as I saw this bedding online, I fell in love with it.  I ordered it two months ago and it just arrived yesterday due to back order issues.  Just in time for my birthday.  Yes, I am 29 AGAIN today.  Lee seems to luck out on birthday gifts wouldn’t you say?  Last year our furniture happened to arrive the day before my birthday as well. 

Remember this?

So here we are, one year later, and my bed is finally outfitted properly. 



I also bought new side table lamps since our old ones didn’t match and were not even remotely cute.  Behold, the glory of a cute side table lamp:


Many thanks to HomeGoods for being the perfect place for non-decorators like me to shop.  And naturally we needed a few accents in the room to pull it all together.  Naturally.


Lee’s not overly crazy about the urn.  “It’s weird,” he keeps saying.  “What’s the purpose?”  And I’m all, “Dude, you obviously know nothing about decorating a room…”

Weird urn aside, I like how things are coming together in there.  I still need to figure out what to do in one naked corner and I need to re-hang a few pictures that don’t look right and, eventually, I’d like to repaint the walls.  But what color?  Those are the types of decisions that stress me out.

For now, however, I’m going to rest my head on some cute pillows and let out a sigh of accomplishment because I conquered my fear of redecorating a room!

Now if I could only get my husband to take the suitcases down to the basement as they are totally messing with my Feng Shui.


I feel like I’m living in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.

All photos were taken with my new point and shoot, courtesy of my parents.  I love my Pentax and the quality of pictures it takes, but the thing is a mammoth and, to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about hauling it around the Zoo with me.  It made me nervous.  So I’m excited to have a smaller camera that I can stick in my pocket.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

We Interrupt This Broadcast

Life is so busy and crazy right now that I seriously feel like I am suffocating.  I can’t breathe.  We only have a few weeks of school left and it can’t come soon enough in my opinion.  I need a break.  I’m sure two weeks into summer I’ll be begging for school to start again…

All that to say – I got nothin’ today.  So I’m sending you over to Becke’s blog where you can read the post I wrote for her yesterday.  It’s a post that I need to read myself today and I hope you will be encouraged by it, as I have been.

Well waddaya know…

First, I must tell you that the prodigal dog hath returned.  Yes – there has been a great deal of celebrating today, complete with a killing of the fatted calf…

Okay, not really.  But we did give her a leftover pork chop, which is pretty much the same thing so…Aaaanyway, we’re torn now.  The kids are so happy and relieved to have Sadie home.  Lee and I are relieved to not have the guilt of abandonment follow us the rest of our lives, and we are truly happy that she’s safe.  But we still don’t know if we’re going to keep her.  The family that found her are big dog lovers.  They already have a dog of their own, but they thought that they might have family members interested in taking Sadie.  So Lee and I are going to have to make a decision.

But enough about that.  How about this?  I shamelessly promoted myself on Facebook today.  I was at 10,999 views on my blog and I begged, ahem, asked for one more hit to push me over the 11,000 mark.  And do you know what I got?

I got 42 hits in just a couple of hours.  Thank you everyone, thank you so much.  You love me!  You really love me!

I know that 11,000 hits in a few months is not that much in the grand scheme, and truly, it doesn’t mean anything, but when you pour time and energy into writing and you truly have a desire to entertain, it’s nice to know that there are actually a few people reading those words.

I also realize that I’m not the best blogger out there.  I’m not the funniest, the smartest, the most creative or original.  But I really enjoy what I am doing and am grateful for the new friendships I’ve made via the lovely internet and I’ve had a ball recording our lives in the hopes that someday my children will look back on these days with joy.

So thank you to all my readers, wherever you are and whoever you are.  I don’t know why you keep coming back, but I really am grateful to you and I do strive to make the few moments that you spend here worthwhile.

And that’s all she wrote.  Well, I mean, for tonight anyway…