Tuesday, December 23, 2008


By Kelly

I chalk it up to hubris.

I had such an extraordinarily productive morning– cleaning the house, picking up toys, vacuuming the half-gallon of pine needles from under our Christmas tree – I thought I would bake cut-out cookies with all three children, right before dinner, all by myself.

Idiot. I say that fondly, but still. Idiot.

The older kids, ages 7 and 5, were helpful and excited. Maybe a little too excited. Connor couldn’t stop eating scraps of dough, and Natalie was a tad overzealous with the horse cookie cutters. (I guess the holy family will be traveling to Bethlehem on nobler steeds this year.) Teyla, at 11 months, stood in her high chair and loudly proclaimed her displeasure, both with her confinement and her lack of cookie-cutting involvement.

The oven smoldered as it preheated. Apparently, the chicken pot pie I made Sunday night had bubbled over more than I thought. The phone rang. My sister had a question about a Christmas present. Connor popped another quarter-sized piece of dough in his mouth. The phone rang again. It was someone from the animal rescue organization; would we want to come see one of their dogs tomorrow? The baby decided to get the heck out of Dodge by crawling out onto her high chair tray. I threw two trays of cookies into the oven. A black cloud billowed out at me. I opened the door to our deck, the better to keep the smoke detectors silent. Natalie decided to make another horse for Christmas.

Is it any wonder that half of the cookies ended up overdone? They weren’t burnt, exactly. But they weren’t golden and beautiful, either. They were a little too brown, a little too crunchy.

Just like me at Christmas.

I try to do too much. No matter how much I aim to simplify, I end up with a To Do List that rivals Santa’s. And I wind up overdone. Not burned all the way. Not in full-down Brittany Spears melt-down mode. Just crispy and hard and brittle around the edges.

It’s not worth it. I know that already, but tonight, two dozen molasses-colored cookies reminded me again. It’s not worth it. Better to bake one batch of cookies and enjoy it than to bake 12 varieties and be annoyed with my kids the whole time when they want to taste the dough. Better to leave the laundry unfolded on top of the dryer than to stay up until the wee hours of the morning so my house will be perfectly in order on December 25. Better to spend some time being quiet before the One who’s birth we celebrate than to have a holiday filled with all kinds of sentimentality but none of truth.

Unfortunately, there’s no real fix for overdone sugar cookies. (Although frosting helps.)

But for an overdone spirit? There’s relief every sunrise.

This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

May your Christmas shine golden with His love and faithfulness. Even if your cookies are overdone.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crazy Love

By Kelly

The holidays make people crazy.

Case in point: Me. I’m thinking about getting a dog for Christmas.

It’s not an impulsive decision. My husband and I have been thinking about this for years. We haven’t had a pet since our oldest was born. But during our double-income-no-kids years, we owned six dogs and one (spiteful) cat, so we know. We know. This is not a step into the abyss of the unknown.

But Natalie, our seven-year-old, came out of the womb asking for a pet. Her love for animals borderlines obsession. My youngest brother used to have a tiny pug named Trixie*. Whenever Trixie would come to our house for a visit, Natalie would focus in on that puppy with laser-beam concentration. Eventually, Trixie would end up hiding under a large piece of furniture – in an attempt to get away from all the togetherness – while Natalie laid on her stomach next to the furniture, peered into the darkness and cooed, “Hi Trixie. Hi. I see you under there. Yes I do. Did you think you could hide from me? I see you Trixie.”

Natalie was Bob to Trixie’s Dr. Leo Marvin.

Given that sort of pedigree, we’ve always known a pet was in our family future. It’s just a matter of timing.

And I can’t shake the feeling that the time is now. Even though we live in a townhouse without a yard. Even though it’s the middle of winter. (And our high yesterday was 4.) Even though we have a 11-month-old who’s walking and chattering and into trouble every waking moment of my day. Because when is life ever perfect? When do the stars ever align? If I keep putting off joy - for Natalie, for our family, maybe even for me - won't I regret it?

I'm ready. My husband is ready. Natalie is more than ready.

So I’ll ask. Am I crazy? Or is it love?

*Trixie was not the dog's real name. It was Booty. But if I told you that in the middle of my story, you would have been too distracted by all the snickering to continue.

**Also, I feel you should know that I successfully resisted the strong urge I had to title this post "Who Put The Dogs Out." You're welcome. Merry Christmas.

Kelly also blog at Love Well, although lately, she's been a bit too preoccupied with Petfinder to write much.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa Killer

By Kelly

"Santa isn’t real, you know."

So said my seven-year-old daughter to her six-year-old friend as I drove them home from school last week.

It’s funny; I never knew I could drive with my brain splattered on the inside of the windshield.

Trying desperately to stay on the road – I figured the double whammy of a dead Santa plus a car accident would end the new carpool for sure – I shot an alarmed look at the rearview mirror.

Thankfully, MacKenzie was nonchalant. “Oh, I know that,” she retorted, the weariness of the world tinging  her voice. “But we saw someone dressed up like him at that house last year.”

Another bullet dodged. But I tell you - I’m starting to feel like Neo at the end of “The Matrix.” At some point, one of those suckers is going to hit home.

After I escorted MacKenzie safely to her front door, I turned to Natalie and raised one eyebrow. “Honey, you know we’ve talked about telling about kids about Santa,” I started.

“I know, Mom,” she sighed. “But sometimes, it just comes out.”

You need to learn to lie, sweetie.

No, I didn’t say that. Not really. But it is a puzzle.

Santa has never been real in our family. From the get-go, we told our kids that Santa Claus is nothing more than a fun story. And for a while, that was that.

Then Natalie started going to school, where she found, to her horror, that some children thought Santa was alive and well. She is a helpful child, a factual child. She can’t rest with the deception.

So we’ve become the Santa killers.

I've tried to impress upon her that some families like to pretend Santa is real. I told her some parents might be very, very upset if she is the one to tell her friends the truth. And she gets that. She does.

But when you're seven, it's hard to navigate the world of white lies.

I think it might be easier if I just keep her in the house until January.

Besides, I have something to tell her about the Tooth Fairy.

All's fair in love and war. And mythological creatures fall under both categories.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well, although lately, she's too busy distracting unsuspecting children from her daughter's truthful missives to do much writing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


By Kelly

This post was originally published on my personal blog, Love Well, last May. In keeping with the theme, I'm running this encore essay because my kids are sick again, leaving me little energy -- mental or physical -- to write something you'd actually want to read. (I assume most of you don't want to hear the synonyms for snot.) Enjoy. And bless you. (Oh wait. You didn't sneeze? Sorry.)

1. My kids have been healthy all winter. Now that it's May and sunny and 70, they are sick. Natalie fell first. She got a medium-high fever last Friday with a side of sore throat. She was back to full strength by Tuesday. Which is when Connor turned ashen during his tumbling class. He threw up twice during dinner. Yesterday, he still had a fever, so he went to bed early. Natalie, meanwhile, sat in her bed until 9:00 PM, making up songs about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and generally being cuter than a basket of fuzzy puppies.

2. Which is why Natalie was the one who woke me at 2:00 AM with a sweet whisper. "Mom, I just threw up." My first response was, "No you didn't. You're not sick. Are you sure?" Then I leaned closer and smelled her breath. She wasn't joking. (I'm a bit of an idiot when woken from the sleep of the zombies.)

3. When Connor was sick, I could tell when he was getting ready to blow, because his moaning and writhing would increase in intensity. Therefore, I always had a bucket ready for him. Natalie, apparently, has no such Emergency Broadcast System. So there was no bucket waiting for her.

4. Since Connor had a bucket, he threw up things like apples and water. Since Natalie had no bucket, she threw up everything she had eaten in the last 12 hours (shrimp, pasta, green beans, milk, chocolate pudding and carrots -- lots of carrots). I am now on hour 8 of "Mega-Hazardous Waste Clean-Up" and the 18-inch stain by the side of her bed is finally starting to fade.

5. I gag the gag of a thousand hypochondriacs when faced with the smell of vomit. Yet God made me a mother.

6. Because of the illness, both kids stayed home from school today. Which meant the two sick kids had to accompany me to Teyla's four-month well-baby check-up. Which means I took my last remaining healthy child to the doctor so she could get shots, be cranky and run a fever.

7. After the doctor's appointment, the kids decided they felt good enough to eat lunch. They requested microwavable mac and cheese. Which smells like vomit to me.

8. I had all kinds of goals for this week. I've accomplished very few of them. Which is probably why God had me read this quote Sunday night: "I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly realized that my interruptions were my work." (Out of the Solitude, Henri Nouwen)

Kelly also blogs at Love Well -- when she isn't mothering sick children, that is.