Lost in Translation

IMGP9007I can’t even begin to describe how fun it is to have someone in my home who speaks the language that I love so deeply. I am thoroughly enjoying speaking Russian again, though it is just rusty enough that I stumble over just about everything I say.

For example, yesterday I told “K” that I was a writer and pointed to my desk. “That’s where I sit and pee all day,” I said.

“I write” and “I pee” are veeeeeery similar in the Russian language, just FYI. Mix up the tenses and you have yourself a bit of an awkward sentence. Luckily, I caught myself and corrected the dialogue quickly, but not before she and I had a good laugh.

Communicating the very basic things has become the most humorous. How to use the shower, what to do with toilet paper (our countries deal with this issue differently), personal hygiene situations. These are all conversations that I have never had in Russian before! Heck, I haven’t had to have some of these awkward conversations in English with my own child – now I’m communicating them in Russian with a teenager who barely knows me.

Thank goodness she has a good sense of humor, and she is extremely laid back.

I caught a glimpse of a few of the emotional wounds she’s experienced yesterday, and once again, I wished my language were better. I know enough to hear the heartache, but not enough to hold onto it. There is time, though. Time for her to develop a greater sense of trust. Time for me to listen more. Time for us to work together to place a balm on these emotional wounds.

We went to Super Target yesterday. Everyone should experience Super Target with a seventeen year old who’s never seen a supermarket in her life. She was silent, wide-eyed, and completely overwhelmed. I had her try on shoes, and she looked at all the selections, then looked at me completely flabbergasted.

Ah, Target – The International Love Language of Females.

Today we’ll go clothes shopping. She needs shorts – you know…because it’s going to be 80 degrees in Florida this weekend. I also plan on introducing her to Chick-fil-A, because I believe she needs to experience the blessed chicken sandwich, hand breaded on a bun with two pickles and a dash of the Holy Spirit.



rainbowloomShe’s experienced the Rainbow Loom kit already, and our boys subjected her to The Wobble last night. It’s a dance. There are really no descriptions for it – you should just look it up.

Tonight we’re going to watch a movie. I’m not sure which one yet. I’m trying to decide what would be a good, introductory movie for someone with limited language. Elf? Too crazy, too soon? We’ll see…

This sweet girl doesn’t quite know what to do with herself here, yet. We’re going to change that, one ridiculous dance and movie at a time.


How to dress like a mom without LOOKING like a mom

Yesterday, I made my way downtown to the County Clerk’s office to track down yet another elusive form needed for the adoption. When I entered the building, I decided to run into the bathroom before heading up to the sixteenth floor. Friends, what I saw upon glancing in the mirror both shocked and horrified me.

I looked like a mom.

But Kelli, you ARE a mom.

Yes, I know. I know I’m a mom. I’m a mom who drives a minivan, no less. BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE I LOOK LIKE IT!

I had put zero effort into my appearance before leaving the house yesterday. I hadn’t even brushed my hair!

(But I did brush my teeth. Go me.)

(For Real. GO! ME!)

I had simply pulled my dirty, greasy hair back into a ponytail, slapped on a little mascara and chapstick, threw on the first clothes I managed to grab out of the drawer (in the dark, no less, since I woke up before the sun) and I skipped into a very public place looking like I’d been hit by a truck.

Case in point:

A couple of months ago, I bought the above pictured shorts at GAP. I didn’t try them on when I bought them which means I came home with a pair of shorts that were one size too big (which is always more encouraging than coming home with shorts that are too small, mind you).

Because I am the most orgainzed scatterbrained person on the planet, I almost immediately lost the receipt and decided they weren’t really that bad as long as I belted them. They were kind of comfy, actually.

Lee came to me the second time I wore those pants and leaned in close. “You know those are Mom-Shorts, right? They totally give you Mom-Butt.”

I’m not entirely sure what Mom-Butt means, but the way he said it did not lead me to believe that it was something I should be striving for. I was a bit disappointed as I really loved the shorts, so I decided they would just be around the house comfy shorts from there on out.

Until yesterday, when I had a moment of terrible mombrainitis and decided to leave the house in said Mom-Shorts. I also had Tevas on my feet, which let’s face it, scream Mom-With-A-Minivan.

At least it wasn’t a skort and Keds! Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Upon seeing my unkempt appearance, however, I made a resolve to try juuuuust a scooch harder to put forth an effort in my appearance before heading out in public. Thus, I give you:

I generally tend to leave the house looking a bit frayed for a few different reasons. Sometimes it’s pure laziness. I don’t feel like washing my face, or brushing my hair, or putting on a semi-cute outfit.

Sometimes it’s because I’m running late. We moms generally have to attend to all the chicks in the flock before we can fluff our own feathers (how do you like that metaphor, eh?) which means we run out of time to do anything more than make sure we at least have the proper undergarments on before leaving the house.

(Um…there’s a chance I’ve left the house in the past without even getting to this step. Maybe. I mean, I won’t say for sure, but…)

Sometimes I have high and lofty expectations of getting to the gym after I drop children off where they need to be and I have no desire to try and look cute only to go work out. More often than not, though, I never make it to the gym so I walk around looking like a drowned gym rat without ever having worked a muscle.

*hangs head in shame*

So what is a busy mom to do? How do I dress like a mom without looking like a mom?

First things first. I will fix my hair!

Even if I’m throwing it into a ponytail, I can still brush it. And if it’s dirty? Well, that is the perfect excuse to invest in a couple of cute hats. Am I right?

Second – Never underestimate the power of accesories:

Yes, it’s only September, which in Florida means we are now enjoying temps in the mid to high ’80’s every day. Not exactly scarf weather, but how cute is this lovely? I have been dying to wear it, so yesterday I put it on over a tank top with a pair of jeans and voila! Cute outfit in less than ten minutes!

Third: Wear clothes that fit. I dunno, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Mom-Butt has something to do with shapeless formless clothing, giving one the appearance of a wide, saggy derriere. Just conjecture, but I’m pretty sure I’ve hit the nail on the head.

Fourth: Make up. I know some of you are so naturally beautiful that you simply don’t need make up. I salute you (and I’m secretly envious).

I am not one of those people. I mean, I’m not afraid to leave the house without make up, but I also feel MUCH more secure with a little bit of color on my cheeks and some mascara to give the old eyes a lift. Just me. Even if I’m going to the gym, I’m putting on a little make up.

Because I would rather not scare everyone in my path!

Finally – a pair of cute shoes goes an awfully long way. They can make or break an otherwise drab outfit. I mean, even a skort can be dressed up with the right pair of shoes.

Hmm? What’s that? Forget trying to make the skort sound good ’cause you’re not buying it? REALLY?!

Is it time to give up on the idea of the Skort? *sigh* Fine…back to the shoes.

Listen, just because I have three kids, am nestled somewhere in my thirties and drive a minivan doesn’t mean I have to abandon all hope of dressing sassy. Even if I’m headed to the gym, I can do so looking cute and put together. I can look like a mom without LOOKING like a mom.

Know what I mean?

Have any cute fashion tips for us frazzled, busy Moms? Do share!

*PS-Please know this is all written very tongue in cheek. It’s not meant to offend. Here’s the obligatory winky face emoticon so you know I’m only writing in jest:  😉

On the road again

The kids and I are off on a grand, road-tripping adventure on Friday wherein they will gorge themselves on processed foods and movies (and, don’t tell them this yet, but they will be doing Math on the road…because I don’t feel like eighteen hours in the car together is torturous enough…)

If all goes according to plan (and by plan I mean if we all make it from Point A to Point B in one piece) we should be in St. Louis on Saturday night. My smokin’ hot husband and aging, sweet as pie dog will be holding down the fort here in the Sunshine State, luckies.

While I am away, I plan to post new content when I feel inspired and I will be re-running a few of my favorite posts in the interim as well. I’m always here for ya, sweet friends. Heaven knows I wouldn’t want you to start resenting your minivans or shopping for an SUV simply because I couldn’t give you the frequent reminders needed that you are good enough, you are hot enough and doggon it, your van’s smokin’.

We have to stick together, us minivan rockin’ moms and dads. And to those of you who don’t drive a van, but have found a haven here for your van-shunning ways – we welcome you with open arms. And when the day comes that you are ready to step into the glorious light of double sliding doors, french fry crusted seats and a sound system that would make Snoop Doggy Dog cry, just know that we’ll be here for you. We’ll pat your back and hold your hand as you step away from the glamour of the SUV and we will usher you into the sweet light of the minivan.

Smokin’ hot minivan.

Glory Hallelujah!


Yes I’m a Natural Blonde

“A blonde went to buy a Pizza and after ordering, the assistant asked the blonde if she would like her pizza cut into six pieces or twelve.

“Six please” she said, “I could never eat twelve!”

I have blonde hair and I always have…well, except for a couple of misguided attempts to not have blonde hair.

As I’ve gotten older and had babies, I’ve had to work a little harder and pay a little more to maintain my blonde hair, which has now faded into a rather unfortunate dishwater color.

But I didn’t come here to talk about hair.

Why do we make fun of blondes?  What is it about the light hair that leads us to assume blondes have an inferior sense of common sense?  I mean, we fair headed types are the salt of the Earth, right?  We hide our intellect beneath a mask of gold.

Okay, let’s not judge every blonde on that sweet little girl. Bless her heart…

When I was 15, first learning to drive, my friend Aaron told me that all stop signs that were outlined in white were optional.

“As long as no one else is coming, you can drive right through,” he said with a smile.

Later that week, as my mom and I practiced driving, I buzzed through a stop sign after ensuring that no one else was coming. I was very safety conscious, you see.

“What are you doing?!” My mom screeched, to which I responded with a dramatic eye roll and the sigh that revealed my obvious superior knowledge.

“It’s optional, Mom,” I said. “It was outlined in white.”


“Kelli, all stop signs are outlined in white.”

Okay, so look – I could see where one might want to blame that error in judgment on my hair color, but I prefer to blame it on youth. And on the fact that my friend Aaron was a terrible practical joker.

That same year I went on my first trip to the former Soviet Union, to Minsk, Belarus. One day, while speaking with a classroom of students about American traditions, I tried to explain Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving,” I began, “is when Americans gather together to…um…you know…celebrate the pilgrims…uh…like, landing on Earth.”

And I moved on, completely unaware of the fact that our trip leaders were in the back of the room clutching their sides, they were laughing so hard.

Okay, so fifteen was a bad year for me. But it wasn’t my hair…I swear it!

I was in college, riding in the back of a friend’s car as she stopped for gas. “Cars are the strangest things,” I told her when she got back in the car. “I think the gas tank in my car must expand and shrink with the weather because sometimes it costs $25.00 to fill up my tank and other times it only costs $19 or $20.”


“Um,” she said politely, because she was very kind, “that’s probably because gas prices fluctuate, not the size of your tank.”

Okay, so I was older at the time, but my hair wasn’t a factor in that little faux pas.

We visited a church a couple of weeks ago. At the end of the service, the pastor brought up two people who would soon be leaving on short term mission trips. Pointing to the gentleman the pastor said, “And this young man will be leaving on Monday for the Amazon where he and a team of others will be traveling to a remote area to help hand-dig a brand, new well.”

I looked at Lee and whispered, “They’re going to dig a well with their hands? How is that possible?”


“Well, I assume they’ll probably have shovels,” he said, his eyes dancing.

“Oooohhh,” I whispered. “That makes more sense. I was picturing them on their hands and knees, scooping the dirt like dogs.”

And then we lost it. Inappropriate laughter through the pastor’s closing prayer and a quick and hasty exit so we wouldn’t have to look anyone in the eye.


Let’s not use the moniker “dumb blonde,” m’kay? I like to gently refer to those times as blonde moments…

How Baylor Football Changed Me Forever

It was 1999 and I was a senior walking beneath the cloud of new love.  I didn’t have a ring on it yet, but it was only a matter of time (weeks, to be exact).  We were headed to yet another Baylor Bears football game where we would talk and visit and only occasionally check the field to measure just how badly we were losing.

My time at Baylor will not be remembered for great football…

At some point during this particularly overcast and chilly day, the pace of the game changed.  Baylor was winning. It was a thrill almost entirely unknown to me since I had spent most of my four years at the school accepting defeat with grace.

The crowd was electric.  The score was 24-21 against UNLV and there were 20 seconds left in the game.  Baylor had the ball at the 8 yard line.  This was our time – the day to rejoice.  All they had to do was down the ball.  Just put down a knee.  So easy.  So very, very easy.


Wait.  What’s that?  Why are they? Wait…huh?

“A two point conversion!  What are they doing running a two point conversion!” My husband to be roared as the Rebels’ Kevin Thomas scooped up the fumbled ball and began making a dash down the field.

I had no idea what a two point conversion was or what on Earth had just gone down, but from the look on Lee’s face, I knew I needed to be horrified.  I wanted to shout at the field with him, make my protest known at this mysterious call.  But I could do no more than clutch my head in my hands, my mouth open in a horrified stare, no sound permitted to escape.

And as the clock ticked down to zero, the entire stadium watched in stunned silence as Thomas ran the ball into the end zone for a 99-yard touchdown to win the game.

I almost cried.  I don’t even care about football that much, but that day…I nearly cried.  And since then, I have never been the same.

I’m not a great sports fan to begin with.  Games make me a nervous wreck.  If I care about one of the teams in play, I find myself jumpy, fidgety and nervous.  But when my team does begin to win, I feel a sudden onslaught of sympathy for the opposing team and I want them to at least not lose badly.  But if my team starts to lose I get all jumpy and jittery and I start to talk loud and fast and…

Don’t get me started on how uptight I get when I don’t care about either one of the teams.  I alternate between total exhilaration for the winning team and utter sympathy for the losing team.  I’m like a sports crazed Sybil.

I’m not one of those cool girls who yells at the TV and high fives when the football dude runs the ball into the end zone.  Oh no.  I’m the chick in the corner nervously biting her nails and gorging herself on little hot dogs slathered in barbeque sauce straight from the crock pot.  I’m the girl pretending not to care because if she pays attention to the game too closely she might have a nervous breakdown.

The St. Louis Cardinals are currently playing Game 6 of the NLCS Championship against the Milwaukee Brewers.  I haven’t watched much of the series for two reasons:

1.) We don’t have cable so watching isn’t that easy.  Lee has taken the kids to Chili’s to watch several of the games.  I went with them once, but the rest of the time I declined because if given the option to be alone in my house for a couple of hours, I’m going to say yes.  Sorry Red Birds, I love ya, but…

2.) It makes me crazy.  C-to the-RAZY.  I want the Cardinals to win and I can’t stand the pressure.  I can’t stand it. As we speak, Lee has the game on the radio and we’re listening to the game on ESPN.  And this, friends, is next to torture.  TORTURE. Because the noise of the crowd is intensified over the radio and the announcer’s voices keep going up in decibels and sweet-mother-of-all-that’s-holy-I-NEED-A-DRINK.

So Cardinals, I hope you win.  I really do.  And if you make it to the Series, I will watch as often as I can mooch a TV screen.  But I will watch through my fingers, I will pace, I will likely chew off all my nails and I’ll probably leave the room now and again to take a deep breath.

By the end of the Series, I will probably have an ulcer.  Don’t worry, though, I won’t blame you.

I blame the Baylor Bears.

*Disclaimer: I love Baylor University.  My four years there were by far the best of my life and I would do them all again in a heartbeat.  Except that one game.  I would skip that game if I got a do-over…

Image Credit

You won’t judge me, right?


Alternately titled: I’m a big dork and now you know.

I have wonderful friends.  Really, really great friends who love me and look out for me.  Last Saturday when Sloan was so sick, I talked with my friend Elizabeth.  She immediately identified with my fatigue and pain and did what only a sweet friend would do.

She brought me Peppermint Mocha Coffeemate, because she knows I’m addicted to it, and she dropped off and stack of movies for the kids to watch. 

She saved me.

We piled up on the floor with blankets (and coffee) and had a movie marathon.  We watched High School Musical 2 and 3.  This is the part where I reveal how big of a dork I am.  I am ashamed and yet…I’m not.


I don’t hate the High School Musical trilogy.  In fact *looks around, leans in close and whispers* I actually like the movies in all their cheesy flare.  Had I seen these as a preteen I would have definately had posters and CD’s (okay, Cassette Tapes – I know, I know…) and maybe even a pin or two for my jean jacket.

Part of my enjoyment could be my soccer mom crush on Zac Efron.  Part of it stems from my life long love of obsession with musicals.  I have loved them since I was a kid.  I remember as a young girl wishing I could live in a musical.  How fun would it be to burst into song and have everyone join you both in song and in dance?  Think how sunny and fun life would be if we sang out our problems and dreams! 

Lee thinks I’m the only person who would find this fun.

So there you have it.  I like High School Musical.  All three of them.  I like them, okay?  Yes, they’re silly and overly dramatic and over the top, but they make me smile and I may or may not bob my head to the beat when the campy songs start up. 

So this morning, after Sloan got on the bus (yes, he’s finally going back to school), when Tia and Landon asked if they could watch it…well, I said yes.  Because I wanted to see Zac listen to the songs. 

Now you know.  I wanted to share this with you because you’re my friends and I know you won’t judge me.  Right?  I mean, we can still be friends, can’t we?  Please?

Try not to be jealous, everyone.  I’m not always this cool.