Barn Swinging at Kanakuk

Barn Swinging at Kanakuk

The K-Kountry bridge

The K-Kountry bridge


Happiest place on earth? I believe it!

Happiest place on earth? I believe it!

Nostalgic this week as we enjoy the city and people we love.

Nostalgic this week as we enjoy the city and people we love.


A wonderful, uncharacteristically cool, evening with friends.

A wonderful, uncharacteristically cool, evening with friends.


A beautiful afternoon spent at the St. Louis Zoo.

A beautiful afternoon spent at the St. Louis Zoo.

The enjoyment of watching siblings love one another well.

The enjoyment of watching siblings love one another well.


Swinging in hammocks with friends. Doesn't get much sweeter.

Swinging in hammocks with friends. Doesn’t get much sweeter.


A morning with three of my best friends and all 11 of our kids. It wasn't relaxing, but it was refreshing. This photo was taken by a 7 year old, can you tell?

A morning with three of my best friends and all 11 of our kids. It wasn’t relaxing, but it was refreshing. This photo was taken by a 7 year old, can you tell?


Puppies? Good. Babies? Great. Puppies and babies looking outside together? If that doesn't make your heart skip you might be a robot...

Puppies? Good. Babies? Great. Puppies and babies looking outside together? If that doesn’t make your heart skip you might be a robot…

Home Sweet Bittersweet



We’re in St Louis this week. It’s bittersweet to be back. As we drove into town, both Lee and I felt a strong sense of nostalgia and familiarity with this place that I think will always feel like home. It’s funny – he and I lived in Texas for two years and when I return, the memories are fond but it’s not…painful to visit. Perhaps this feeling will continue to dull over time.

When we visited last year it almost felt too soon to be back. The feelings of loss were still so fresh. This year we are in a much more healthy place in Florida. We have community and friends and events on the calendar that have us excited. We have the hope of some dear friends moving down to Florida in the coming months – they will be south of us, but they’ll be in the same state and that makes me near giddy with excitement.

We have a life in Florida now with some roots. The roots are shallow, but they’re there and with a little more time and a little more memory building perhaps Florida will develop that nostalgic feeling of home that feels so strong in this place.


We had such a wonderful day yesterday visiting our old church, hugging dear friends, laughing with people who feel more like family than friends. It was awesome. For me, it was another opportunity to hit the reset button – to touch home base and energize myself to head back home and keep planting, keeping cultivating the roots in Florida.

It’s good for me to come back, even if it hurts a little.

Have any of you ever moved from a place that holds such a special place in your heart that it will always bring a pang of joy and sadness to go back? Does that feeling go away? Ever?

(PS – Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a free copy of Disney’s Teen Beach Movie. I draw the winner tomorrow morning.)

On the horizon

It’s late and I am weary.  I have said my goodbyes and I have cried my tears.  A few weeks ago, I thought that this final night in the town that has long been my home would be filled with emotion and anxiety, but right now I feel neither of those things.  I think I am done.  I don’t have any more goodbyes left and my eyes are, for the moment, dry.  My throat isn’t burning and my stomach has finally settled.  I’m ready to move forward.

It’s still hard.  If I think too long about the people we are leaving behind, the emotion wells up again so I am choosing to not focus on that.  What’s the point?  It’s time to move forward and you know what?

I’m excited.

It took me a little while to feel comfortable admitting that.  To do so somehow felt like a betrayal to the city and the people I love so dearly.  But I also dearly love the state of Florida and I am thrilled to be able to call it my home.  I’ve always wanted to be a true Floridian (I was born there so somehow I think it’s in my blood).  I can’t wait to be close to my family.  And the beach.  In that order, of course.  I’m excited to meet new people and make new friends but, of course, keep the old – I hear that one’s silver and the other gold.

I’m nervous, too.

I wish we had a house to go to.  That’s been a bit of a struggle.  God has been so faithful in this entire process and every single detail has worked out smoothly and easily and perfectly.  Until we began house hunting and then suddenly the flow came to a screeching halt.  But one thing I know – He hasn’t forgotten that tiny little detail.  And the right house is out there waiting for us.

I’m trying to be patient as I wait for it.

So tomorrow we hit the road.  And it’s going to be an adventure.  We’ll go to Arkansas first to stay with family for a week.  From there we’ll head to the Sunshine State.  Just me, three kids and the dog.  Alone.  I can’t decide who will need to be sedated more – them or me.

I kid.


You’ll never know and I’ll never tell.

St. Louis will always be home.  I have duel citizenship.  I consider that a blessing.  We have been blessed abundantly beyond anything I could have ever asked or imagined in this town.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would so enjoy coming back here after Lee and I had lived in Dallas for two years.  We didn’t want to leave Texas either.

Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

Yes, I’m excited to see what comes next.  We’re going to be alright.  This process, more than any other, has shown me the value of clinging to one another.  We have each other.  It’s really all we need.

Friends are nice too, though.

I am saying see ya to most of my friends.  I value friendship deeply and I am not one to move on and not look back.  The people in my past have shaped who I am today.  And I value loyalty.  To me, friendships are not dispensable.  I’ve never fully understood how they could be such to others.  And so I look forward to continuing to grow and love the people God has placed in my life, both past and present.  I cling to those relationships.

It makes me grateful for Facebook.  The value of the internet is also very real to me now.

I do covet your prayers as we travel.  Safety, Sanity and other such necessities.  And we long to establish ourselves quickly into a new community.  A new church family to serve and be blessed by.  A new house to make our home and neighbors with whom to create memories.  Will you pray for us?  And every once in awhile shoot us an email if you’re so inclined.  It would bless us greatly to hear from you.

And now I’m off to sleep. Tomorrow a new chapter begins.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

The kiss of death for any relationship.  Can I see a show of hands, ladies?  How many of you actually used this cliche line when breaking a poor boy’s heart.  Relentless, we ladies are.  But I’m not here to talk about relationships.  I snagged my man a long time ago and have never once even considered breaking things off.  I know a good catch when I find one and me? I got a good catch.

I’m talking about parenting.  You know…’cause I’m a Mom Blog (Capital ‘M’ Capital ‘B’).   About 6 weeks ago I sat down with a friend to discuss the ins and outs of homeschooling.  Have I mentioned we’re considering that for next year?  I haven’t?  Ah…that’s another post for another day.  But, yes, we are.  I began considering it before we knew we were going to move and now I’m considering it because we’re going to move.  I’ll explain more later.

As I soaked in this veteran homeschool mom’s wisdom (her oldest just graduated high school) I relayed to her my fears.  My biggest fear was what if I can’t do it? What if it ruins my relationship with my child to be with him all day long?  What if a wall of bitterness comes between us?  What if I fail?

I didn’t like her answer.  I mean, I did.  But I didn’t.  *sigh*  I’m not making much sense, am I?

“I’ve found,” she said in her sweet and gentle way, “that whenever I am having personality conflicts with one of my kids, it’s usually my heart issue that needs to be dealt with.”

BAM! Right to the gut.  You mean I have to take responsibility for my own actions?  Parenting doesn’t give me a free BecauseISaidSo pass?!  No body mentioned this to me when I left the hospital with my bundles of joy, by the way.  There was no sign on the way out that read, “WARNING: Parenting is hard work and more than likely when you lose your patience it will be your fault and not the child’s.”

But the thing is, I know she’s right.  I’ve known that a long time, but I haven’t really sat and simmered with that understanding.  When I lose my temper with my kids, 9 times out of 10 the problem is mine.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll give you an example.

Yesterday I took the kids on a bit of a Tour de St. Louis.  We hit up the City Garden, the St. Louis Science Center and the Loop all in the span of about six hours.  And it required a lot of in and out of the (smokin’ hot) minivan.  I don’t know about your kids, but something happens to mine when they step inside a van.  Whatever it is is definately not hot.  The second they sit in their seats, it’s starts.

“Mom! Landon’s copying me!”

“Mom, Sloan called me a dodo-head!”

“Mom! Tia stuck her tongue out at me!”

“Mom! I’m being bullied!”

And on and on it goes until I’m blue in the face.  My grandmother, when her kids were making her crazy like this, used to get in their faces and say, “My name’s not Mom anymore.  It’s horses butt and you’re not allowed to say that so you can’t call me anymore.”  Can I tell you how tempted I’ve been to pull that line out of my back pocket?  I think her sister had a little bit of a spicer version of that line that she used on her kids…

So, riding in the car?  Not so fun.  Sloan tends to take the brunt of the pestering because he gives the biggest reaction.  Lee and I are constantly telling him to ignore them and let us be the parents.  He has a tendency to…ahem…step in and take matters into his own hands.  This usually winds up with him in trouble.  He’s slowly learning that lesson.

So yesterday we spent some time driving and by the third time in the van everyone was a little frayed.  We had been having a lot of fun and everyone had behaved marvelously, until they got in the van and it started immediately.

And I snapped.  I turned into that mom.  The one that looks all wild and huffy.  I pulled over on the side of the road and let loose – bad mommy style.  As I drove down the street again, oppression set into my chest.  I glanced in the rearview mirror at my kids faces.  They were quiet, Sloan had tears in his eyes and I felt terrible.

It wasn’t them.  It was me.  I was tired and a little fried from a long morning.  Tia and Landon had been merciless in their pestering of Sloan and he had snapped, but he was tired too.  And he’s only 7.  I’m old enough to supposedly know how to control myself.  So I pulled the car over again.  I asked them to forgive me for losing my temper and hugs went around to all.

Then we sang “Kumbaya.”  It was beautiful.

When I lose my patience with my kids, it’s my fault.  Because the kids are just acting like…kids.  Generally I lose my patience when I haven’t taken the time to really deal with an issue.  I brush it aside until it escalates out of control then I look at the kids like it’s their fault.  But if I would just take the time to deal with things instantly, we wouldn’t have the escalation. All it requires on my part is a little bit of time, energy and focus.  Lazy parenting is not allowed.

It’s not them…it’s me.  Can anyone else relate to this?

Give My Regards to Broadway

After some thought, I decided to take my earlier post down.  I was upset and hurt and processing, but decided that ultimately I didn’t need to have all of that out in the world wide web.  To those who commented, thank you and sorry I had to subject you to my crazy.  To those who missed it…lucky you.  And now, without further ado…I give you more of my life..


When I was a little girl, I had two goals in life: Grow up and become a gold medal winning gymnast and  become a famous movie star/singer.  Two things happened to squash those dreams – I wasn’t a very good gymnast due to my tall frame, inflexibility and terror of the high beam (do you know how narrow that things is?!).  I made it to level 7 where back handsprings on the beam were a requirement and thus ended my gymnastics career.  Well, that and a stress fracture in back.  I typically like to give people that as my excuse for quitting – it sounds cooler.

The famous actress thing died when I discovered that I stink at auditioning.  Seriously…stink at it.  Give me a room of 1,000 people and I will happily sing and ham it up all day.  Give me a room of two and I go mute.  Odd?  Yes, I would agree.  It took one semester in Baylor’s theater department for me to figure out that acting would eat me from the inside out.  So I waved goodbye to the dream and grew content with the occasional performance of the “for fun” variety.

In the last six months, however, I’ve had the opportunity to get a little stage time that I don’t usually get.  Singing in church doesn’t count.  I actually work really hard at NOT standing out on stage at church.  Because I naturally lean toward the, ahem, dramatic, I have to be very careful of my heart before I walk on stage to lead worship.  It’s not about me and it’s not about performing.

So when I got the opportunity to perform…well, let’s just say the little girl inside of me skipped a little.  And squealed and clapped her hands while jumping up and down.  Singing in this year’s VP Parade was a big slice of heaven for the little girl in me.  It was fun.  Lots and lots of fun.  I was backed by some of the greatest jazz and blues musicians in the business.  Men like Scott Alberici and “Red” Lehr, among others.

And I had fun.  It was sweltering and yes, my dress did look a bit like a muumuu, but I was on stage with a microphone in my hand singing Give My Regards to Broadway.


I hope the rest of you had as magical of a 4th as I did!  I’m off to squeeze in as much St. Louis fun as I can before we have to leave.  It’s all happening very fast now… (click on the pictures to see them a little closer up)


We’re moving to Florida

In February we met with a realtor to discuss putting our house on the market.  We were ready to upsize.  We wanted more space for ourselves, for our children and we wanted to be able to host out of town family when they came to visit.  That was our plan.

God had a different plan.

On April 6, our house officially went on the market and we began looking at new homes here in town.  A few weeks later, Lee got wind of a job opportunity in Tampa, Florida.  We’ve always wanted to live in Florida so whenever a job opened up down there we checked it out.  The thing is, we love St. Louis.  We’re so deeply blessed here that for us to pull the trigger on moving was difficult.  No job ever felt good enough for us to actually make that move.

Until this one.

Lee got really excited about this job potential.  More excited than I’ve seen him in a long time.  But I wasn’t sure.  There were other things playing out in my mind and heart and I was kind of at the point where I was ready to abandon the dream of living in Florida and stake our claim in St. Louis forever.  So I waited skeptically while Lee interviewed.

We decided to put our house hunt on hold until we found out more about the viability of the job.  About five weeks ago, we got the call from our realtor that we had an offer on our house.  At this point we’d heard little from the people in Tampa so we began looking again at homes locally.  But two days after the house went under contract, Lee was asked to fly to Tampa for an interview.

This is the part of the story where I began developing an ulcer.

I waited as my husband flew to Tampa for two days to interview.  And while I waited, I prayed.  I prayed that the Lord would give us wisdom to make the right decision.  Like I said, we’re terribly blessed here.  And a large part of that blessing stems from our amazing church family.  The thought of leaving our church home and the friends we have there makes my stomach tie into knots.  But I don’t ever want fear of change to hold my family back, so I determined to loosen my grip on the familiar and embrace what God might have for us.

I can’t go into all the details of how God showed us His plan, but I can say that He answered my prayer above and beyond what I imagined.  I asked Him to make it obvious if we should go and He really did.  From things like our house selling at exactly the same time the company needed to make the new hire, to our roof needing to be replaced and insurance covering it, to our furnace needing to be replaced and home warranty covering, and on and on the list goes…


God placed random strangers into our lives to speak such wisdom and peace into us that both of us began to shake our heads in awe.  From someone sitting by Lee on the airplane down to Tampa to a bartender, God used others to give us peace in this decision.  It’s truly been amazing.

We did not mention this to many people because we just weren’t sure what would happen.  It’s tricky when a lot of life plays itself out online.  These matters become much more delicate.  We didn’t want Lee’s current company to get wind of this, obviously.  Nor did we want anything said to our kids inadvertently.  But it’s been hard.  We have tried to answer questions honestly without giving too much information away.  It’s felt deceptive, but I sincerely hope that everyone understands that that was never our intention.  This has been a difficult process for us.

On Tuesday of this past week, Lee’s paperwork cleared and he was officially given the job that would move us from St. Louis to Tampa.  We closed on our house the next day.  Once again, God confirmed in our hearts His plan.

But this is hard.

This is really, really hard.  Painful.  Lee will leave in two weeks to begin working in Florida.  The kids and I will leave a few days after him.  And my heart is ripping in half.

My family moved to St. Louis when I was 12.  Though I lived in Texas for six years, St. Louis was always home base.  For 21 years, this has either been home, or home base.  Minus the wicked winters…and crazy tornadic springs, I love everything about this town.  Especially the people.  Lee and I moved here a year before Sloan was born.  This is the place we became a family.  We have friends who have poured into us for the last nine years, watching us grow, watching our children grow and giving us some of the sweetest years of our lives.

I’m sad to leave.

But I’m also excited.  Like I said, living in Florida has been a dream of ours since we got married.  We have family down there and we love everything about the beach.  Our kids have been begging us to move to Florida for years.  They’re thrilled.  And we are too.  But it’s tempered by the dread we feel to leave.

So that’s where we stand.  We are spending our last couple of weeks in St. Louis doing all the things we love to do, spending as much time with friends as we can, and shedding a lot of tears.  We are also rejoicing in the Lord’s provision and look forward expectantly as we await what He would have for us next.

I said it beforenew adventures await us.

Jennifer Aniston did my hair

It was early morning, the air sticky and hot.  I struggled with my dress, which originally bore the shape of a bad muumuu…made out of curtains.  Unfortunately during the tailoring process, the dress had been altered into a bit of a mini-skirt.  I found myself self consciously tugging at it, all the while singing the song I learned at junior high church camp many moons ago:



Oh you can’t get the heaven (Oh you can’t get to heaven)

In a mini-skirt (In a mini-skirt)

No you can’t get to heaven (No you can’t get to heaven)

In a mini-skiiiiirt.

No you can’t get to heaven in a min-skirt

‘Cause God don’t like no little flirt

All my sins are washed away, I’ve been redeemed

(I’ve been redeemed)


Much emphasis was placed on the need for me not to be late.  It was imperative that I show up on time, which meant I needed to leave extra early because I didn’t know where I was going.  It’s always best to plan a little extra time to get lost.  Especially if you’re me.  I’m fairly certain God forgot to install my inner compass when He put me together.

I ran down the steep hill (mountain?) from the cabin where I and the other participants slept, carrying my flip flops in one hand and holding my shortened dress down with the other.  I finally got to the community bathroom where my friend Melissa met me.  She came out of nowhere – I’m not even sure how she got there….she lives in Louisiana.

“What are you doing with your hair?” she asked as I frantically applied my make up.

“I don’t know!” I lamented.  “My hair looks like a mushroom!”

It really did.  Somehow the humidity had tousled it into a bouffant that resembled a portabella on top of my head.  Making matters worse, I held the hair dryer too close to my head and fried my bangs and they now frizzed out in a bubble of straw right in the middle of my forehead.

As I huffed, I heard laughter from the bathroom stall.  Melissa and I exchanged looks and waited.  The toilet flushed and the stall door opened.

It was Jennifer Aniston!  Perfect hair and all…

Walking up to me, Jennifer studied my hair closely.  “Hmmm…” she said.  “Your hair does need a little TLC.”  She sounded just like Rachel Green.

“Can you help me?” I asked shyly.

“Sure,” she answered with a smile.  She was so nice!  I always knew she and I would make good friends.  Jennifer grabbed a brush and turned me away from the mirror then went to work.  She pulled and tugged and twisted and sprayed my hair with some kind of magic potion from her oversize purse.  A few minutes later she whirled me around and Voila! MY hair was red carpet ready. It was even a little longer.  I’m not sure how she pulled that one off… I felt a surge of confidence and I turned to hug my friend.

“What time are you supposed to be there?” she asked.

“6:45,” I answered.  Her eyes grew wide.

“Kelli!  It’s already 8:21!”

“No!” I kissed her on the cheek and dashed out of the bathroom.  I needed to get back up to the cabin to retrieve my car keys and make my way to the meet up point.  I tore up the steep hill that had somehow  become covered in snow.  As I climbed I found a pair of my sandals buried in the snow and snatched them up.  They would go perfect with my unfortunate dress.

This is when I woke up in a panic and had to tell myself that none of that happened and I didn’t miss the VP Parade, which I am singing in tomorrow morning.  Jennifer Aniston did not do my hair and last I checked there were no snow covered mountains in St. Louis.


If you are in the area and want to come down and watch tomorrow morning, I will be on the Riverboat float singing dixieland.  Look for the girl in a muumuu made out of curtains.  Or in a min-skirt if my dream proves to be at all prophetic.  It starts at 10:00am (and yes, I have to be there no later than 6:45) and heads down 4th and Market.  It ends near Union Station.

Jennifer (can I call you Jen?) if you’re in town, meet me on 4th street at 6:00.  Me and my hair will probably need your help.

Image credit

The Zoo

Tia had school yesterday – Sloan did not.  So I went back and forth about whether or not we should go to the Zoo after Tia went to school or whether she should just skip school and we could go in the morning.

I decided that it wouldn’t kill her to miss a day of preschool, so we headed out to the Zoo around 8:30 yesterday morning.  Best. decision. ever.  The Zoo was virtually empty when we arrived, which is a good thing when you have three kids who all like to run in different directions. 

By 12:15 when we left, however, the Zoo was…well – a zoo!  I knew it was time to leave when every time I turned around to check on Landon (who insists on walking about 15 paces behind us at all freaking times) he was out of my line of sight due to being swept up in large groups of people.  After my third heart attack, I decided to call it a day.

So we bopped out of the park and jumped in our car, which was parked right up front and headed out past the endless line of cars waiting to park. 

New camera pics


There's nothing like pickingyour nose oon a train ride.  You should try it sometime...

There's nothing like picking your nose on a train ride. You should try it sometime...

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Becke', I tried to get a picture of his bootie for you but he wouldn't turn. :)

Becke', I tried to get a picture of his bootie for you but he wouldn't turn. 🙂