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.

This Week

– This week I refinished Tia’s furniture with the help of my St. Louis neighbor turned Florida bestie, Carol.  It was brown, now it’s white.  I’ll share pictures once I have her room all put together.  All I can say is I had tons of fun decorating a little girl’s room for the very first time.

– This week I began a strict eating regiment in an effort to finally kick those last ten baby pounds to the curb.

– This week I drank lots of green tea.  Lots and lots of green tea.

– This week I spent less time on the computer and more time just being still.

– This week I prayed some very specific prayers and love the expectation as I await the outcome.

– This week I missed my friends in St. Louis.  A lot.

– This week I had dinner with new friends here in Tampa.

– This week I wrote a new post for 5 Minutes for Mom on parenting.

– This week I’ve fallen into more than one of the traps I wrote about in the aforementioned 5 Minutes for Mom post.  *sigh*

– This week I got really, really lost.

– This week I was grateful for the GPS on my fancy pants phone.

– This week I was glad I got lost because I passed some really lovely areas that I’d like to go back and visit…if I can find them.

– This week I got my 4 frillion pictures and frame semi-organized.  They’re not on the walls, yet, but at least they’re not in the middle of the floor, right?

– This week I realized just how much I love my CoffeeMate Peppermint Mocha creamer when I couldn’t use it in my coffee.

– This week I did not paint Landon’s room like I said I would.  It’s still just primed.  Poor kid.  Has a Mama who’s a craptastic painter.

– This week I cried once.

– This week I laughed a lot.

– This week I took pictures of the moon.

– This week I wished I was a better photographer so I could capture just how awesome the moon was as it rose over the trees.

– This week I also got a quick shot of a half moon.

– This week I wrote more on my novel.

– This week I asked for humility.  Less of me, more of Him.

– This week I have been really tired.

– This week I say good-bye to my parents as they fly off to London for another month.  Methinks they enjoy being empty-nesters.

– This week has been a good week.

And how is your week going?

Sneak Peek, #2

I am having a hard time focusing on blogging lately.  There are a few reasons for this: First, I am just really busy.  Between the kids activities, Lee being out of town, preparations for Easter at our church, the house on the market and general everyday things that pop up, I have little time to sit and think.

Second, my heart feels anxious right now.  It’s probably mostly magnified by Lee’s absence and all of the aforementioned craziness, but I am truly feeling restless inside.  I feel like I’m not doing enough and equally I’m doing too much.  This morning I got up early, while the house was still.  I opened my Bible and just began to read.  It was so refreshing.  You know when you walk outside on a warm summer morning and step into the cool grass and your whole body buzzes from the cool?  That’s what this morning felt like – stepping onto the cool grass.

Third, when I do have a few minutes to sit down and write, I want to work on The Novel.  I don’t want to edit pictures or video.  I just want to release the characters in my head.  In June, I have a trip planned with a dear friend and a couple of other writer’s.  For four days we will sit on a lake in Northern California and get lost in words.

I’m only mildly excited because it sounds like heaven.

Today I give you one more small sneak peek.  I won’t give too many of these, because I don’t want to give it all away, but a few here and there are fun for me to share…and I hope it’s fun for you to read!  This is, of course, the first draft and contains few edits.  It will change with time and re-reads, but it’s slowly beginning to take form.

This part of the story is told by Ivan Kyrilovich Petrochenko, a father of three teenage children and husband of Tanya.  They are living in Kiev.  This is June 22, 1941, the morning of the bombings, after the smoke has cleared.  Ivan and his son Sergei are headed out to survey the damage.  

The memory of that night will haunt me.  The whistle of the bombs and the thunder as they found their targets still move through my head, my heart, my soul.  Intertwined with the noise is the sound of screaming.  Masha, turning and crying, confused and afraid.  Tanya and Anna gripped in the corner, their cries mingling together to form a low wail.  In the midst of all the noise, I see Sergei, my son.  He is silent.  I watched him through the flashes and tremors.  Between dark and light, he became a man.

As the terror of the night slipped into a balmy, dusty morning, I watched them all closely.  Tanya and Anna, both delicate and small, wrapped in one another’s arms, their faces worn and strained.  Masha sat tucked beneath Sergei’s arm, her head nodding and falling, stubbornness alone keeping her from succumbing to the sleep that so clearly longed to take her away.

And the man Sergei, who sat with his back straight against the wall, protecting the sister he so deeply loved.  I knew the decision he made in those long, quiet hours.  I saw him wrestling, an inward battle flashing through his grey eyes.  And when the war was over, he looked at me resigned, brave, grown.  I nodded, a silent confirmation of what he needed most – my blessing.

Shuffling into the still street, I turned to my son and grabbed his shoulders with both hands.  I felt the muscles that rounded over the tops of his arms and for the first time noticed the sinewy nature of his frame.  My son had developed the taught muscles of a man without me even noticing.  Surely this did not happen overnight.

Looking straight in his eyes, I spoke to him not as a father to his son, but as a comrade.  “You will wait until your birthday.  When you are eighteen, you may enlist.”

My voice came out gruff, almost harsh and tears stung the corners of my eyes.  Sergei’s chin lifted slightly and he nodded calmly.  “Yes, Papa.”

Not caring who might look out and see, I pulled him into my arms and gripped him with the passion that only a father can feel for his son.  Sergei’s arms engulfed me in return and for a long while we held one another.  And in that embrace I bid farewell to the boy I had rocked, fed, played with and taught for nearly eighteen years.  And somehow I knew that when my son left, I wouldn’t see him again.

©Kelli Stuart April, 2011

Have a lovely spring Tuesday!

Because they’re funny, that’s why

I heard a comment recently from someone who claimed to love reading “Mommy blogs” but hated when bloggers went on and on about their kids.

Um…I don’t think you like reading “Mommy Blogs” then.  (Not a fan of the “Mommy Blog” term…couldja tell?)  That’s like me saying I like fish but don’t like when it tastes fishy.  Riiight.  Let’s just call a spade a spade.  I don’t like fish.  Unless it’s thickly breaded and double dipped in a vat of oil then served with a side of ketchup.

That’s my kind of fish.

When I first heard this statement I found myself a little self conscious.  I mean, I talk about my kids all the blasted time here.  What if I’m boring people?  Because let’s face it, I can say that I’m only blogging to keep a record of the cute and funny things they do until I’m blue in the face, but we all know I want you to like me.

And I want to remember the cute and funny things they do so I can look back ten years later and smile…and humiliate them.  It’s a scrapbook that yields sweet revenge.

I’m only half way kidding.

So here it is: I am a blogger who happens to be a mom.  Write what you know, correct?  Well right now, I know Mom-ing.  (I could have written I know Motherhood but turning “Mom” into a verb sounded like more fun.)  So I’m going to write about Mom-ing, and all the other stuff that interests me that doesn’t involve my kids.  Which isn’t a lot because I’m kind of in the trenches of this Mom thing.

So today I’m writing about my kids, because dang it my kids are funny.  Maybe they’re only funny to me and their grandparents, but I don’t care.  This post might seem a little fishy, but I’ll try and deep fry something for you another day, okay?  Just indulge me, if you could be so kind.  Tomorrow I’ll write about something more riveting…like my house.  You’re on the edge of your seat – I just know it!

Lee left yesterday for a two week training in New Jersey.  Before the kids and I headed off to church, he buckled everyone in and doled out last minutes hugs and kisses.  He and Sloan managed to squeeze in an early round of basketball before we left.  I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled.

As Lee leaned in to kiss Sloan, my tender hearted man-child teared up a bit.  Lee smiled and touseled his hair and Sloan grinned, shaking his head.

“I’m not crying,” he said, all macho-like.  “My eyes are just sweating.”

My eyes are sweating a bit as I type this.  Happens to the best of us…

Sloan continued.  “Hey Dad, will you get us a present when you go to New York?”

“Sure,” Lee said.  I think his eyes were a little sweaty too.  “What do you want me to get you?”

“A girlfriend,” Sloan replied without missing a beat.  Aaaaand it comes back around.  I guess he thought he’d see if his dad would indulge his apparent need for a girlfriend since I told him a couple of weeks ago that No, I would not get him a girlfriend for his eighth birthday.  After sharing this I launched into a very sweet, deep and meaningful conversation with him about how God has already picked out and planned a wife for him someday and he doesn’t need to worry about dating right now.

Clearly my words had an impact.

Not to be outdone, Tia piped up from the backseat as we headed down the road to church.  “Hey Mom?  How old do I have to be to get mawwied?”

“Old enough to be able to say your ‘R’s,” I replied…

No, I didn’t.  I actually told her it would be a long time and she didn’t need to start thinking about that now.

“Well, I fink I should be 29 when I get mawwied.  Will I be a mom before I get mawwied?”

“Nope,” I said.  “You gotta get married first to be a mom.”  Yes, I know that’s not necessarily true, but she’s five and we’re keeping it simple.  She doesn’t need an explanation on when and how one can or should become a mom.

Tia has actually popped out a couple of funny one-liner’s lately.  I forgot how funny five year old’s can be.  When we ate lunch one day in Florida, I handed Sloan a ham sandwich. 

“Does that have Man Eyes on it?” Tia asked.  She meant Mayonaise.  And just like that, our family now has a new catch word.  We will forever call Mayonaise “Man Eyes.”

And then there’s Landon – the family clown, the kid who’s always good for a laugh, the boy with expressive eyes and a personality that far outweighs his tiny little bird frame.  He walks through the house daily singing the songs from High School Musical 3.  He sings them completely wrong, but that’s what makes it so fun.  My favorite goes like this:

I don’t know where to go, Whatsa right fing.  I want my oh dwee so Battleforce Strange.

If you know what song I’m talking about, you know why that’s cute and funny.  It also means that you, like me, know way too much about High School Musical 3.

It’s those little conversations that make me laugh out loud that give me reason to blog about my kids.  Well, that and the humiliation thing.

I’m kidding…sort of.

To My Darling Husband

You need to come home. Look what’s happening to your son…

The Plague is Upon Us!

Good grief. We were back at the pediatrician yesterday, this time for Landon. That’s 80 bucks in co-pays in just five days! Poor little guy has a terrible cold. Of course, yesterday when I took him, he was just congested but his lungs were fine. Today his nose seems a little better, but he has the most awful sounding cough. We are just praying that this clears up soon and doesn’t worsen into the dreaded RSV. The only advice the dr. had for us at this point was to sit in a steamy bathroom with him, which I did for about 40 minutes at 3:00 this morning. I guess it helped a little but he still seems pretty miserable. As long as his breathing remains regulated and his color stays pink we should be okay. So far so good in those areas…
I’m learning a lot right now about God’s perfect will and His Providence in our lives. I’m reading a great book called With God in Russia about a priest who was falsely imprisoned in the Soviet Union during World War II. He was an American priest who went over there to share God’s love with the Russians, but was ultimately accused of espionage. He spent 15 years in a Siberian labor camp before he was finally released and sent back to the United States. His attitude and recollections toward that time are amazing and convicting. But one thing he says over and over is that he relied on the knowledge that God had a purpose and a plan and that he was in that place for a reason and that reason was to bring glory to God. Even when he spent an entire year in solitary confinement, he looked for every opportunity to glorify God and spent hours a day in prayer and meditation. In light of that, my momentary trials seem pale. I am trying to spend more time today thinking about how I can glorify God in this situation and less about how I can feel sorry for myself and how tired I am. It’s 8:43 right now and so far I’ve had a pretty good attitude. We’ll see how I do at 5:00. That’s the true test! Anyway, that’s me this morning…