Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Can't Believe I'm Having Triplets

By Kelly

I really want to write a crazy lead paragraph for this post -- I found a toenail in my Jamba Juice today! I'm moving to Morocco! I drove my car off the side of a mountain and was buried in snow for days! -- but I suspect you're aware of the date already.

Or if you weren't before, you are now.

April Fool's Day is something of a tradition in our house. It's a fun day, if not a day to watch your back (and not believe anything you hear on the telephone). When I was young, the day was marked by memorable meals, like the time my Mom made blue milk and green mashed potatoes. When I was in college, April Fool's legalized the pranks my friends and I were already plotting; the most interesting of which involved nails, super-glue, Saran Wrap, water and a fish. (Such are the days of our lives when one hangs out with those studying to become youth pastors.)

Now that I'm a mom myself, I'm looking forward to pulling a few innocent, no-harm-done type of pranks. Family Fun has a collection of brilliant fake food recipes. Personally, I'm hoping to try the Faux Fish Sticks (rectangular cookies smeared with PB then rolled in crushed corn flakes) with a side of Faux Peas (pieces of green taffy rolled into tiny balls) and Faux French Fries (bread sticks cleverly shaped and dusted with sugar instead of salt) served with Faux Ketchup (seedless strawberry jam stirred into a runny consistency). I might also try a few of these lunchbox gags.

If my kids were old enough to shower by themselves, I would sneak into the bathroom tonight and screw a tiny piece of plastic wrap under their shampoo lids. (And if they were old enough to clean the bathroom themselves, I might consider using some on the toilet. But something tells me, that one would backfire. The old lady bladder, she ain't what she used to be.) If I wanted to keep it clean, both figuratively and literally, I could write some potty humor quips ("What are poo doing?") on strips of toilet paper and float them in the bowl.

Or, I might try one of these other simple practical jokes:

  • Shake some baby powder in the hair dryer for a morning hair-do worthy of Barbara Bush.

  • Remove all the bags of cereal from their boxes and play switch-a-roo.

  • Paint some green spots on the inside of a sandwich bag to make a sandwich look moldy.

  • Use a small corer to drill a tiny hole in a whole apple, which can then be filled with a gummy worm.

  • Insert a small raisin into the end of the toothpaste tube for an eye-popping surprise.

  • Tuck this April Fool's Day word search into a lunchbox or schoolbag; the only word they'll be able to find is April Fool's.

  • An older child would appreciate the origami rock craft.

  • Or (my personal favorite) tell your victim that you recently watched a show on the Discovery Channel that salt, when sprinkled liberally on a stick of butter, can make the butter get hot. Grab a stick of room temperature butter, sprinkle on some salt, hold your hand over and act like it's starting to heat up. Encourage your friend to do the thing. As soon as their hand is over the butter, smash it down.

For more inspiration -- and some great laughs -- check out this list of the Top 100 April Fool's Day Pranks.

And have fun. You only get to be a parent for today.

April Fool's!

Kelly also blogs at Adventures in Babywearing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is There a Word for Phobia of Children?

By Kelly

Good gravy, yesterday was tough.

My brain is still numb, my shoulders still clenched in an upright and locked position. I just now realized I forgot to call my sister back last night. And I do believe I didn't go to the bathroom yesterday until I was getting ready for bed. (I developed a bladder with camel-like properties when I was working in the newsroom. Because if there's breaking news and you're in the control booth calling the shots, potty breaks are not an option.) (Too much information, perhaps? I can't tell anymore.)

But as grueling as my day was, it was worse for my good friend Mindy.

While I was sleeping in Saturday morning, Mindy was driving across Wisconsin, with the plan to spend a week visiting friends and family in Minnesota.

Then, life turned. Her tires snagged on an uneven shoulder. She over-corrected. Her car rolled like a tumbleweed, eventually coming to rest in the highway median as a tangle of shattered steel and glass.

Miraculously, neither she nor her kids sustained life-threatening injuries. Her two-year-old walked away without a scratch. Her six-year-old only had scratches and abrasions from her seat belt and flying glass.

Mindy escaped without any broken bones or internal injuries. But it took about 60 stitches to close the gashes in her face and arm, and she's sporting more bruises than a peach shipped from Georgia to Wyoming by USPS.

Her sweet husband, who wasn't accompanying his family on this trip, rushed to the scene. I first heard about the accident from him. Rightly horrified, I offered to help any way I could.

Thus, I found myself parenting five children yesterday.

Let the chaos begin.

First, I want to say that Mindy's kids are absolute delights. They are sweet, creative and compliant. Her six-year-old and my six-year-old would be best friends if they lived closer. And her two-year-old boy is like a towheaded package of love; he's just a snuggle-monster with a smile to melt your heart.

But having them here yesterday reminded me -- with startling clarity -- that I would be the worst child-care provider in the history of mankind. When I'm responsible for other people's children, I'm a nervous wreck. I'm jumpy. I can't focus. I feel completely out of my comfort zone. I find myself stalking the clock, willing it to move faster so I can discharge my charges.

It's the reason I never babysat, why I'd rather clean the church bathrooms with a toothbrush than work in children's ministry and why I adore my sister. (I would say worship, because it's close to that. But it seems sacrilegious, somehow.) Emily is like a Pied Piper of children. Ever since she was in middle school, kids have followed her around the church hallways, vying for her attention. Cries of "Emmy! Emmy" echo off the walls. When I was 15 and she was 9, I passed off all (read: two) of my babysitting jobs to her. And I think the parents involved in those situations were more than grateful. Today, Emily works in the children's ministry department at our dad's church, a job which perfectly fits her skill set and passion.

And then there's me -- the woman who has to fight the urge to hide in the laundry room while other kids play like angels with her own kids in her own home.


I've felt guilty about this for years, and the guilt only intensified when I had my own kids and was amazed to find that I actually enjoyed them and my new role as mother. Shouldn't I be able to deal with all kids now that I understand, on some level, what a gift they are?

But I've come to realize, we all have different gifts. Children aren't mine. I can certainly step up when I need to -- and watching Mindy's kids yesterday was a blessing to me, because it's what I could do to help her in a teeny-tiny way.

So I try not to dwell. But some days, I just can't fight the angst. Am I the only Mom in the history of the world who is kid-a-phobic?

Originally posted at Kelly's blog Love Well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My daughter, the snail

By Kelly

Teyla has a cold.

That is to say, she’s become a snail.

That’s the first stage of the rhinovirus in our house. The bubbling nose, the slimy trail of snot that leaves a silver streak on my jeans, my shirt, the couch, my basket of clean laundry. The river overwhelms all attempts to quell its flood.

You’d think it would curtail her mood. That much mucus would stop me a bit short. But Teyla is a toddler, drunk on discovery, so she simply smiles and laughs and runs her finger through the glistening path under her nose. The first stage of a cold can only damper; it cannot conquer.

The next stage is harder to fight off. It’s the walrus, when the goo begins to thicken and the nose is stuffed with rattles and snorts. I would guess that sometime tomorrow, when I hand Teyla a sippy cup or cuddle her in my arms to nurse, I’m going to hear a silent gulp, gulp and then a huge gasp for air as she realizes she can’t drink and breathe at the same time. She’ll try, but it will lead to all sorts of noises, and in the end, I’ll end up blowing my own nose on her behalf, because those wheezing snuffles make my olfactory nerves cranky.

It’s also possible I’ll get bitten in a place where no one should bite because Teyla the Walrus will be frustrated with the congestion. Can’t say that I blame her. But still. Ouch.

After the walrus comes the seal, when the virus enters the steamy sauna of the lungs and decides to hang out for a while. The barking and the coughing and the hacking and the gagging grow particularly painful at night.  Even a toddler’s lust for life is dimmed when sleep is elusive, and the daytime hours are tepid and dull.

The final stage of the cold is the parasite, when the sweet, exhausted, mending baby infects me with the virus I’ve helped her rebuffed.

It’s the slime trail of life when you’re a mom.

I should have invested in Kleenex stock years ago.

Kelly, who is just now realizing that Teyla's colds always appear two days after a morning spent in the church nursery, blogs at Love Well and wipes noses 24/7.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

That's Why They Call It The Present

By Kelly

I was kneeling next to the couch yesterday, reaching for Sonya Lee, who had somehow managed to escape the Little People Amusement Park, when I felt a tiny body grab my neck.

It was Teyla, my one-year-old daughter. She shrieked in laughter at my obvious surprise. She pushed herself flat against my back and bounced on the balls of her chubby feet. It was piggy back time.

I stood up, grabbed the squirming baby and took off around the room, delighting in the joy of my daughter. I wasn’t aware of the toys strewn hither and yon (much) or the piles of laundry in the next room. I was living in the moment,

I wish I did that more often.

Instead, I tend to live distracted.

It might be physical distraction – I Twitter as I eat lunch, I make dinner as I play Uno. Or it might be mental distraction – I write blog posts as I drive Natalie to school and think about the book I’m reading as I play Legos with Connor.

Whatever it is, it prevents me from living in the present. I take for granted this moment and blow past it to whatever I deem more important.

Teyla counters that tendency in me. She pulls me out of the reverie and into the now.

She needs me. I'm her Mom, her provider, her best friend and her most-faithful steed.

But sometimes, I think, I need her more.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Garden: A Half Parable

By Kelly

It was a beautiful spring day.

My husband was in our backyard, facing the lake, which was rippling blue-green in the sunlight. But he wasn’t watching the waves. He was ripping up the grass, beating back a hedge of overgrown bushes and pounding in stakes.

He was creating a garden.

For me.

Up to that point in my life, I had never gardened (unless you count the requisite lima-bean-with-spouts experiment I managed in kindergarten). But even I knew enough to gasp when he revved up the tiller and started turning over rich, midnight-black soil.

It was loam, the gardener’s holy grail.

That soil was so fertile, so packed with potential, I was sure anything would grow there.

I was right. Anything did. Everything did.

Just a week later, tiny green plantlets were raising fresh leaves to the heavens. Within days, those same plants were putting down deep roots. A few plants, perhaps relying on secrets passed down from their ancestors, grew faster than the others. They quickly sprouted flowers, and their leaves grew wide and dark, the better to shade out the competition.

I marveled at their rapid development.

And then I pulled out every little plant. They were all weeds.

The soil was so accepting, so pure, the weeds took off before I had a chance to plant what I purposed to grow: tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, zucchini.

Weeds are like that. Best watch your soil, especially if you’ve got loam. If you don’t plant what you want when the soil is receptive, you might not get the crop you expect.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well.