He gets it all

Lee-Kelli 10 (2)-21

He came to me yesterday as I prepared myself for dress rehearsal.  The musical is set in 1947 so I had on dark eyeliner, a skirt, lips so red they glow in the dark and hair so curly that I vaguely resembled Simba.

He looked up at me with big eyes, then a slow smile spread across his face.

“You bootiful, Mom,” he said.

“Thank you, buddy,” I replied.  My heart sort of melted at that point.

Then he grabbed my hand and gave it a tug.  “Come down here,” he said, pulling me to my knees.  “I wanna give you a hug ‘tause you bootiful.”

We hugged. 

Then I promised everything he ever wanted and more.  Money.  Cars.  His brother and sister’s inheritance. 

He gets it all…

Photo courtesy of Lulu Photography

Sleeping in beds with boys

It was early 2002-ish and Lee and I, along with Lee’s brother Eric and his wife Becke’, attended a conference.  It was held…somewhere.  The details are really fuzzy.  Wherever the conference was held required us to get a hotel room.  Because we were young and poor, we decided to share a room and to secure it on Priceline.

It seemed like a really good idea when we got a hotel room just around the corner from the conference for only $50 a night.  Score!  Until…

We got to our room and found that it had only one bed.  What to do?  We couldn’t change the reservation without incurring much higher charges.  So we did what any respectable couples would do in such a situation.

We all piled into bed together.

Eric slept on one end, then Becke’ next to him.  I slept next to Becke’ and Lee laid on the other end.  So as not to make the situation any more weird and awkward than it already was, we all slept fully clothed.  Four people, fully clothed in one bed makes for a hot night’s sleep.  Sometime during the night, Becke’ slipped out of bed, unbeknownst to the rest of us, and attempted to get more sleep on the floor.  The rest of us were not aware of this transition.

When the early morning sunlight mercifully streamed into the room, I slowly opened my eyes.  I looked to my left at Lee and smiled.  He was on his back, straight as a board, arms stiff by his side, snoring.  He looked wildly uncomfortable in his jeans.  Then I looked to my right, expecting to find Becke’.

And there was Eric, sound a sleep.  For a brief moment I was horrified as I laid all snuggled up to my brother in law.  But after a few moments of wondering how on earth I ended up sandwiched between both Stuart men, I started to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.  I sat up and looked down at Becke’ who was curled up on the floor.  She looked up at me and we both laughed.

That’s the only time I have ever slept with my brother in law.

This weekend we went to Arkansas to be with Lee’s parents and brothers and friends.  So much fun.

Except for the sleeping part.  I’ve already told you my kids are systematically trying to ensure I never experience a full night’s sleep again.  They were in full form this weekend.  It all came to a head on Saturday night.  Landon wet the bed (we had run out of pull ups and wouldn’t you know every night before Saturday he woke up dry) around 1:30.  He bolted up and cried, “Mommy, I spilled!  I need a towel!”  I got him cleaned up and back down in time for Sloan to crawl in bed with us.  I woke up around 3:30 to see Tia in bed with us as well.  Around 4:00 Landon crawled into our bed.  I didn’t have the heart to fight him on it so I put him on the end next to me.

And for the second time in my life I found myself sandwiched between two Stuart men boys.  Sloan, being a fitful sleeper, kicked me in the kidneys all night long.  Landon had his face right in mine and breathed on me for a solid two hours.  It solidified my need to do a better job brushing his teeth at night.

Despite the lack of sleep, we had a great time eating, laughing, shopping and being together.  It was, indeed, a Happy Thanksgiving. 

The Stuart clan

The Stuart clan

Photo courtesy of Lulu Photography

To Arkansas and Back

We spent a lovely, relaxing week in Arkansas last week where we kicked off our time celebrating the graduation of Lee’s youngest brother from the University of Central Arkansas.  Zach was thirteen when I first met him.  He was fourteen when Lee and I got married.  And now he’s all grown up, has a job and is such a great guy.  I’m so proud of him.

I’m getting verklempt.  Talk amongst yaselves.  I’ll give you a topic.  The Partridge Family was neither a Partridge nor a family…discuss.


We heard rumors that Kris Allen (also a UCA alum) was at the graduation.  Actually, it wasn’t a rumor – Zach’s girlfriend got stuck behind the mob of young fans wanting his autograph.  I didn’t see him, though, and it’s too bad because I think he’s a doll.  I would have stared.  I’m not afraid to admit it.


My son is a goofball.  Seriously, where does this kid get his over the top personality?  Lee and I are so reserved and shy…


My sister-in-law, Becke’, photographer extraordinaire, sat down and gave me some great photo tips.  I learned about ISO (they’re like worker bees.  Trust me…), f-stop, shutter speed, and how the three work together to create the perfect exposure.  I learned how to shoot in Manual mode and, while I need a lot of practice (I still can’t take a decent picture indoors) I came away taking better pictures from just one session.  I’m telling you – Becke’s good.

(She is equally skilled, incidentally, at killing mutant Arkansas wasps that better resemble a hummingbird than a wasp using nothing but a Steno Pad and sheer force while others, who are less brave than she, look on.  Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Flowers are the best practice subject.  They have vibrant color, unique shape and they’re still while you take their picture.  Not like my kids who are apparently allergic to sitting still.


See that blurry background?  I set that!  I determined how much blur I wanted (the f-stop, if you will) and adjusted my shutter speed and ISO to match.  Me!  Let’s all do the happy dance together, shall we?


Now I just want an editing software.  I am hereby entering every contest I come across for Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I need Lightroom or Photoshop, but my want is riiiiight on the border of a need.

Besides photo lessons and graduation, we enjoyed an abundance of family time.  We ate out every night – and when I say every night, I mean every.single.night.  My stomach is in rebellion.  I’m on a bit of a detox today of dried fruit, water and green tea.

We watched the kids soak up as much cousin time as they possibly could.  From putt-putt to Wii, those kids relished every moment together.  I loved playing with my cousins growing up and have so many cousin memories, so I’m excited to see my kids building the same memories.


The lone girl.  She held her own with all those boys, even trying to convince her older cousin that she had boy parts.  We’re still trying to get her to understand that she is, indeed, actually a girl


The baby of the family was so thrilled to be invited along with all the big kids that I thought he might actually jump out of his skin on the way to play golf.


Sam – the concentrator.


Cade – the sports nut.  Feel the emotion.


Eli – the cut up.


Sloan – the one who’s here to have fun.


We are officially back to life, back to reality.  But – glory! – school is almost over.  Tia has three days left.  Sloan has ten.  I can’t wait for summer vacation. 

How long do you think it will take for me to wish school would start up again?

Happy Labor Day

We’ve been in Arkansas all weekend eating our way through my mother-in-law’s kitchen.  I’m pretty sure I’ve put on a few pounds in the last 5 days.  We are headed home this afternoon and will be back into the grind tomorrow – until Thursday when I go to Texas for a girl’s weekend away! 

My fabulously talented sister-in-law, Becke’, took some amazing pictures of us the other day.  You can see some of them here.

In the meantime, enjoy your day off, eating lots of meat, enjoy some much needed family time, watch some TV, be as lazy as you can possibly be.

Because you deserve it!