I could have danced all night

As the smells of dinner waft through the house and the sounds of love eminate from my iPad, I have to smile. Because Michael Buble singing “Fevermakes me smile. And melt a little. And sigh a lot.

And day dream.

Seriously sexy voice…

I’m sorry – where were we?

I walk to the sink with the intention of cleaning the dishes when he grabs me and spins me around into his arms. “Dance with me,” he whispers and so I do. You don’t say no to six foot two of pure brawn. Am I right?

Sorry.  I just had to take a moment to stop laughing at the pure brawn remark. Sometimes I really crack myself up. It’s terrible…

Seriously, though. I love it when he dances with me after dinner. And secretly, I think the three pairs of little eyes that watch us glide across the tile floor love it, too. I mean, I know they gag and roll their eyes and giggle uncontrollably, but mostly I know that they love to see him sweep me off my feet.

(I am refering to my husband when I say ‘he.’ You know that right? That was clear? Just wanted to make sure.)

“Dip her and kiss her,” the oldest and wisest usually yells and we are always willing to comply as they clap their hands over their eyes and squeal in mock horror.

“Dat’s soooooo gwoss!” the four year likes to yell just before he leaps off his chair and tries to steal me away from the man of my dreams by latching himself to my leg and grovelling for a dance. And what can I say…I agree. I’m a sucker for his freckles.

So I dance with Landon, and he gives me a twirl, then a dip and, if I’m lucky, a kiss.  I catch the eye of my first partner and an unspoken message crosses between us. This is kind of awesome.

Lee then grabs his one and only daughter and sets her on his toes and together they twirl – Cinderella and her Prince. I, being always in high demand (ahem), have a dance request from yet another partner, the dashing eight year old with eyes as blue as the ocean. We spin and dance to the soft music of Harry Connick Jr. crooning through the media, dinner cooling on the plates but joy warming our hearts.

And in a flash, Sloan spins me back in his arms. The arms of the one who swept me off my feet twelve years ago. The one I’ve been dancing with for more than a decade. The one who shares these small people with me. Together we dance as they watch.

They who are our love song.

And I look in his eyes and know that we have a lot of dancing left to do. May it be that we are still dancing fifty years from now, together and with them. And maybe there will be more young eyes watching?

I can’t think of anyone else with whom I’d rather dance through life.

Girl and Boy Climb a Mountain…Barely

Our wedding reception was a heck of a party.  If I had to do my wedding over again, there are only two things I’d change.  Number one – the videographer.  They edited a bunch of footage out (who edits out footage of someone’s WEDDING!) and included some seriously cheesy background effects.


When Lee and I kissed after cutting the cake, they freeze framed us and the background turns to fireworks with wonky elevater music playing.


Number two – I’d have an evening wedding.  We scheduled our wedding for 2:00, which means that people began leaving the reception way before I was ready to leave.  I wanted to keep dancing, keep partying, keep enjoying all of my very favorite people gathered in one place.

But as the crowd began to dwindle, Lee and I realized we needed to make our grand exit or there would be no one left to see us off.  Except, of course, for our wedding party of eighteen (who were contractually bound to do our bidding for however long we deemed it necessary).

So we prepared to leave.  But not, of course, before deciding to head outside to see what kind of damage had been done to our getaway car.  It was at that moment that my dad pulled us aside and told us to look outside the picture window at the Country Club grounds.

“That’s how you’ll be leaving today,” he said with a wicked little grin.  Our reaction?


Sitting 100 hundred yards out on the expansive green lawn was a helicopter waiting to whisk us around the Arch and drop us off downtown.  That…was a good surprise.

So we prepared to leave.  But I didn’t want to leave.  So instead of running through the crowd of bubble blowing guests, we slowly meandered our way down, hugging everyone along the way, me crying like an ugly gopher…again.  I was terribly, terribly emotional.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the helicopter ride.  Again because I was crying!  Sheesh.  Poor, sweet Lee.  I managed to pull myself together by the time we got to the Arch though and my new husband no longer had a look of panic on his face as my tears subsided.

We headed out to the San Juan islands the next day for our honeymoon where we kayaked, sailed and hiked for a week.  The hiking would prove to be one of our first memory moments together as man and wife.

Our resort was nestled roughly a mile from the base of Mt. Constitution.  Three days into our trip, we decided to hike Mt. Constitution.  So we called the concierge and set everything up.  They would drop us off at the base and we’d make the trek up the hill moutain.  Our driver asked us, before dropping us off, if we were sure we wanted to hike the mountain.  We smiled and thanked him for his concern and assured him that we were indeed able bodied adults who were capable of climbing a little moutain.

His concern should have been our first red flag.  The second red flag came about twenty minutes into the hike, when we were still making our way to the actual base of the mountain (turns out he dropped us off about a mile away…nice) and a camper asked us what our plans were for the day.

“Oh, we’re going to hike Mt. Constitution,” we replied, all bright eyed.

“Wow,” she said.  “That’s ambitious.”

We rolled our eyes and went on our merry way.  See?  Look how happy I was.


One hour into the hike, I started to get a little tired.  “I didn’t realize we’d be walking at a 90 degree angle the whole time,” I huffed to Lee. 

“It’s a mountain!” he responded.  “What did you think?”

“I dunno.  I guess I just thought it’s be a leisurely stroll.”

Two hours into the hike we ran out of water.  And pretzels.  Because we’d only packed one bottle and a small baggie.  Because we’re from the midwest.  It honestly never occurred to us that climbing a mountain would be difficult.  Not once.


Three hours into the hike we were starting to get angry.  Surely we had to be close to the top.  We finally saw more human life coming down the hill mountain – it was our first human contact since “ambitious” woman.

“Are we close to the top?” I asked, trying not to look like I was dying, though indeed, I was.

The guy laughed.  He laughed.

“You’ve got another mile and a half at least,” he said with a grin, drinking his bottle of Evian.  Punk hiker with his punk water…

And so on we hiked, and we hiked and we hiked.  And just when we didn’t think we could take another step there was a clearing in the trees.  With a surge of energy, we powered forward and burst through as if we were charging the gates of heaven itself.  And we found ourselves looking over a breathtaking scene.  We had done it.  We were 400 yards from the summit. 


We reveled in the beauty for a few minutes before turning and walking to the viewing area at the top of the mountain.  As we rounded the corner, I gasped.

“There is a parking lot up here!” I exclaimed.  “And cars are in it!”

“You can drive up here?” Lee asked.  “Why didn’t anyone tell us this?!”  It took several minutes for us to get over the fact that we could have just had the driver drop us off at the top rather than go through the pain and toil of hiking the 4.5 miles.  I imagine the driver laughed all the way back to the resort.

We looked over the edge of the viewing platform for a few minutes, then I turned to Lee and informed him that I would not be walking back down the hill mountain.  We had dinner plans in three hours and I knew there was no way we’d make it in time.  So Lee did what any respectable new husband would do.

He hitched us a ride.

We hopped in the back of a pick up filled with retirees who were beyond thrilled to help out a couple of naive newlyweds.  And we did indeed make our dinner reservation on time.

And that, my friends, was the last time Lee and I climbed a mountain.

To read the rest of our love story, click here.

Girl and Boy Become Man and Wife


It is time to tell you the rest of the story.  Grab a steaming cup of hot tea, will you.  Sit back, kick up your heels and prepare to swoon.  Get your lungs ready because you’re going to heave a sigh of utter contentment in a few moments…

Okay, this story isn’t that great.  I might be exaggerating slightly.  My wedding was hardly a fairy tale.  There were no fluffy white bunnies who tied bows in my hair.  Tiny sparrows did not flit about my head whistling in perfect harmony.  Clothes-wearing mice did not sew my glistening white wedding gown and my groom did not break out in song when I walked down the isle (just the thought of that makes me laugh).

All of that would have been cool (except the mice part; clothes or no clothes, I don’t like those furry little creatures), but that is not what the day held for me.  It was, however, in the immortal words of Mary Poppins herself, “Practically perfect in every way.”  I was ready to marry the boy.  For eight months I had been his fiancee.  I wanted to be his wife.  I was ready to be a Mrs.  I wanted to walk down the isle on my dad’s arm and say “I do.”

And I did.

I am blessed cursed with plenty of neuroses.  But one thing I am not is a girly girl or a perfectionist.  This makes planning a wedding very, very easy.  I bought the first dress I tried on, because I loved it.  I tried on a few more, but I knew right away that the first one was it.  It was me.  It was simple, elegant and comfortable.  I also knew from past experience that I wanted to look natural.  I’m not a heavy make up person, because I’m well aware of the fact that too much make up makes me look like a child who played in her mama’s bathroom cabinets.  If I attempt the smokey eye I don’t look elegant so much as I strongly resemble a two cent hooker. 

And I’d had enough up-do’s in my school dance days to know that my hair in a French Twist makes me look like an ’80’s era creature from Alienation.

I like Daisy’s and Lilies, and I like photographs…and lots of them.  So the photographer and the florist were easy decisions to nail down.  I didn’t want anything elaborate.  I just wanted comfort and familiarity because as much as I wanted to marry the boy and as excited as I was to become his wife, I also wanted to be surrounded by the comforts of simplicty.  It made the idea of marriage seem less daunting.

So I stuck with my simple hair, my simple make up and my simple dress.  My simple flowers, my lots of pictures, my simple hors de veurs and wedding cake (none of that nasty raspberry filling stuff – nope, white cake, white icing…the way the angels like it).  But I felt anything but simple and ordinary.  I felt as if I had been adorned by woodland creatures and singing cherubs.  I felt…like a Princess.

To be honest, I remember few details about the day of my wedding.  I know I was up early all jittery and happy.  I know I had my hair done and my bridesmaids (all nine of them) had breakfast with me.  I don’t know what time we headed to the church or where everyone got dressed.  I do remember my grandmother making me laugh out loud at some point.

“Kelli,” she said, “I heard that you and all of your bridesmaids are wearing thongs today.”

“Uh…Mimi!  What?!  I…maybe.  I haven’t asked them…”

She stared back at me completely confused.  And my mom burst out laughing.  “They don’t call them thongs anymore, Mom,” she said.  “And yes, all the girls are wearing flip flops.”

Sweet Mimi.

I was a bit of a traditionalist when it came to my wedding.  I didn’t want to see the boy before the ceremony, I wanted the Wedding March played when I walked in and I wanted hymns sung during the ceremony.  Somehow that just seemed right to me.  And it all went off without a hitch.

Well…except for the tears.  I’ve told you about my penchant toward crying.  I don’t get the cute little single tear drop that streams down the cheek like you see in the movies.  Oh no…I cry like an ugly gopher.  And if I try to hold the tears in I end up bursting like the Hoover Dam.

So mid-way through the minister asking who would give this woman to marry this man, I broke.  And I was mic’ed.  Then I tried to laugh to cover it up, which only made me sound a bit like a machine gun filled with snot balls.  A blushing bride, I was not.

But sobby sobberson’s aside, the ceremony itself was beautiful.  My uncle and my high school youth minister, two of the most unorthodox, craziest men in ministry I’ve ever known, led the service and they injected the right amount of humor and sweetness to balance out my crazy.  The music was sweet, the boy was sweet (and terribly, terribly handsome in his tux with tails. Oy!)  And it ended with me becoming Mrs. Lee Stuart.  A name I was happy to take on and I am even more proud to bear today, nearly ten years later.


After what seemed forever in photographs (We had a wedding party of eighteen!  We’re not good at narrowing down…) we hopped in our limo and headed off to the reception where we had one heck of a party and a huge surprise waiting for us.


To be continued…

Read the rest of the story here.

Boy Proposes (Girl Says Yes)


It was November, 1999 and Lee and I had plans to go visit my parents for the weekend.  We had been talking a lot about marriage, weddings, rings and so on, so I knew an engagement was soon in the making.  I had a sneaking suspicion that the weekend we went home, Lee was planning on talking to my dad and asking his permission.  And then I figured he would officially pop the question on Thanksgiving.

We were flying out of Austin, Texas that weekend and they had recently opened a new airport, which Lee and I had never been to.  The original Austin airport was small and easy to find.  The new one…wasn’t.

We left ourselves just enough time to get to the airport, park Lee’s sexy Grand Am and get to our gate with about thirty minutes to spare.  This was pre-9/11 days so we figured we could zip through security in no time.  What we did not plan on, however, was how long it would take us to get to the new airport.  It was significantly farther away than the original airport and as we drove and drove and drove and…droooove, we got increasingly nervous about missing our flight.  With an hour to go from departure, we were still roughly thirty minutes from the airport.  And I started to panic.

No worries though.  Lee floored the Grand Am and we broke the law to screech into the airport with no time to spare.  Lee dropped me and the bags off at the front and he raced to park the car.  I dashed inside to the ticket agent and asked him to call the flight and tell then we were coming.

“We?” he said, looking around me.

“My bo-erm…My friend is on his way.”  I stammered, still not comfortable with the term boyfriend.  The guy raised his eyebrows and looked me up and down then nodded and said, “Mmm-hmmm.  And where exactly is your ‘friend?‘” he asked, actually using air quotes at me.

And just then, like a knight in shining armor, Lee tore through the door all red faced and sweaty.  I motioned, the guy rolled his eyes and told us to hurry.  We made it moments before they shut the doors.

When we arrived in St. Louis, I found myself very nervous and jittery.  On Saturday morning, Lee and my dad were going flying.  My dad had his pilot’s license and he was taking Lee on a flight to Sikeston.  And the story I got from that morning goes something like this:

The guys were prepping the plane for take off and talking business.  Lee was busy trying to figure out where he was going to work after his two years with K-Life ended.  He had recently met with Drayton Mclane, owner of the Houston Astros, and he was exploring some options.  My dad, who was on one side of the plane, asked, “So, Lee, how did this meeting come about?”  He was asking Lee how he got connected with Drayton Mclane.

Lee, however, was so nervous about asking if he could marry me that he wasn’t really thinking of anything else.  So, thinking that my dad wanted to know how the meeting that morning came about, Lee blurted out, “Well Richard, IwantedtoknowifIcouldmarryyourdaughter.”

awkward pause

It took my dad a second to figure out what Lee was talking about and why he had so swiftly changed the subject.  Then he made Lee get in the plane and told him they’d talk more when they got to Sikeston.  So for an hour, Lee had to sit next to my dad, in a small plane, nervously awaiting his answer.

Cruel.  But funny too…

That night, Lee and I went to dinner with my parents.  I hadn’t had a chance to talk with Lee to see how the conversation went with my dad.  I knew my parents loved Lee so I wasn’t worried, but I was curious.  We went to a country club for dinner and as we waited on the salads to come, I ran to the bathroom, throwing my napkin down on my plate.

When I came back, I regaled my parents and friend with my fascination over the country club’s fancy bathroom, which had a light that came on automatically when I walked in.

I’m easily please, folks…

“I mean, how did it know I came in?” I asked.  “And how did it know how long I was in there?  How did the light know to stay on for me?  It’s crazy, huh?”

I looked around to see robotic stares in return.  My mom picked her napkin up off her lap and kind of flipped in around a couple of times before laying it back down.  But nobody said anything…they just stared at me.  It was weird.  Finally, the waitress came with our salads and I grabbed my napkin off my plate so she could lay my salad down.

And staring up at me from inside a red lined box was a beautiful diamond ring.  I gasped, laughed and looked at Lee who slid down onto one knee.  At this point, the whole restaurant was watching as Lee said a few nice things then popped the question.  I don’t remember at all what he said, but I know I said yes and I think I said it kind of loud.


Everyone clapped and moved one.  I, however, couldn’t stop staring at my hand, with the sparkler glaring at me from my finger.  It was so surreal and exciting and I don’t remember anything else about that night.

It was November 6, 1999.  We would be married 8 months later.

To read the more of the love story, go here.


Boy Says I Love You

Alternately titled, Girl Needs Pants.

Part One

Part Two

In June of 1999, I was working as an intern at First Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas and was slowly but surely wading into the waters of forever with Lee.  Toward the end of the month, he came for a visit and during this time we met up with my family in Branson (where I learned that my future husband, Mr. Super-Athlete-Who-Can-Play-Any-Sport-Like-A-Pro, cannot, in fact, water ski.  He looks like gumby when he water skis and I will confess that it brings sweet joy to my soul to know that there is one thing I can do better than him.)

As we drove back to Conway, we had the official moment when Lee laid out his intentions for our relationship.  I’ll never forget what he said as we twisted and turned through the dark hills.  “I just want you to know that I plan on pursuing this relationship to marriage.  Are you okay with that?”

Um, yeah.  I’m good with that.  Totally.  You’re hot. We’re good.

Some of the details of my summer in Conay are murkey.  For example, I can’t remember if Lee came once or twice to visit.  I know that at some point Fourth of July happened, you know – like it happens every year.  And my parents came to Conway to meet Lee’s family.  I can’t remember if this was the same trip as the Branson visit or a different one.  I do remember that the night of July 4th, Lee was goofing around and through a fire cracker at me and it popped right at my feet.  And my dad was standing right there watching.

Bad move, dude…

The other thing I remember is the obssession that Lee and I had back then with roller blading.  In fact, I’m fairly certain we roller bladed the entire town of Conway at 1:00 in the morning the night before he was to return to Waco.  From Texas, he would be leaving to Germany for a month to play basketball.  So the night before he left, we stayed up until the wee hours talking, laughing and enjoying the energy that comes with youth and new love.

Around 3:30 that morning, we said good night to each other and went to our separate rooms.  I climbed into bed exhausted but ecstatic.  And not five minutes after I laid down my head I heard a little knock on the door.  It should be noted that I was wearing nothing but a small t-shirt at this moment.

“Can I come in for a second?” Lee asked.

I pulled the covers up to my chin.  “Okay,” I said, assuming that he just wanted to say something quickly before heading back to bed.

He walked in the room and turned on the light.  Then he grabbed the desk chair and pulled it to the side of the bed and sat down, leaning forward to put his elbows on his knees.  And I did not move or sit up,  but stayed firmly planted beneath the covers with the blanket pulled up around my chin.

“I just wanted to tell you something before I leave tomorrow,” he began.  His eyes were all serious and I sincerely wished I had asked him to wait a minute so I could have gotten dressed before he came in.  “I have really been praying about this and I want you to know that I don’t take these words lightly.  I fully understand their meaning and I wouldn’t say them if I didn’t mean it with all my heart.”

At this point I’m thinking, Crap! But I’m not wearing any pants! 

“Kelli – I love you.”

*awkward pause*

For the few agonizing seconds that I made him sit there in silence, I ran through my options.  Stick out one arm for a brief hug and thank him?  Nah.  Sit up and pull the blankets around my waste and say it in return?  Nah – because not only was I not wearing pants, I wasn’t wearing undergarments…and the shirt was white.  I was ready for bed, people!

So I said the only thing that really made sense. “Um…could you go stand in the closet for a second?”

Lee’s eyebrows furrowed.  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the response he hoped for.  “What?” he asked.

“Just for a second.  Go stand in the closet.”

He stood up and walked slowly to the closet.  Poor guy.  I could see the worry in his eyes.  I leapt out of bed and got dressed as quickly as I could, then told him it was okay to come out now.  He opened the door and stepped out and I grinned.

“I love you too,” I said.  And we hugged.  We did not kiss – not yet.  I wrote about how long it took my chivalrous husband to kiss me here (and about how terribly I tempted him).

“What was with the closet?” Lee asked as we embraced.

“Well…” I said, “I wasn’t wearing any pants.”

And that, folks, is the day my husband told me he loved me for the first time…