The Lactation Consultant from the Black Lagoon

There is nothing quite like breastfeeding to make a new mom feel like a complete failure at the most important job she will ever have. Scratch that. There is something else: a lactation consultant.

Now before anyone objects, let me say I am perfectly aware that nurturing and helpful lactation consultants exist and are likely the norm. I was lucky to have a good one after the birth of my first child. Unfortunately, despite all the help and understanding she provided, I struggled with little success to breastfeed my daughter. After latching problems, unsuccessful pumping sessions, a painful bout of thrush, and many tears, I gave up after a month. And man, did I feel the guilt. Hence my statement, “There is nothing quite like breastfeeding to make a new mom feel like a complete failure at the most important job she will ever have.” But guess what? Continue reading “The Lactation Consultant from the Black Lagoon”

The Gratitude Novella

I have heard that your level of happiness is directly correlated to how often you show gratitude. Well, I am bound and determined to start off 2015 happy. So much so that this very first post of the year is going to be slathered with gratitude.

Absolute Mayhem by Kelly SuellentropI have much to be thankful for in this past year, but I’m guessing you don’t want to read a novella-length post in which I profess my appreciation for everything from Korean-Mexican fusion food to The Monkees finally playing a gig in St. Louis. So I am going to focus on the biggest thing to happen to me in 2014: the release of my first children’s book, Absolute Mayhem. (Sorry, Monkees. You were a big deal, too. Promise.)

I am still giddy over how well-received the book has been, even in its fledgling first month. And while it does feel like a huge payoff for me and all the work I put into it, an incredible and unexpected byproduct of the book’s success became Continue reading “The Gratitude Novella”

The Archive Is Alive: Dangerous Names

Between recently attending a baby shower and visiting a friend and her newborn daughter, this post from a few years ago popped into my head this evening. And since I have devoted this week to finishing up illustrations for my upcoming book (woo hoo!!), I decided to call this one up again as my pinch hitter. And since most of my readers now weren’t around when I first posted this, it is very likely new to you.


So I kind of have baby on the brain lately. I think I probably made my husband stop breathing with that statement, but mostly it is just because I have quite a few friends who are pregnant right now. Bringing new life into the world is filled with all kinds of land mines of excitement and frustration. And picking a name for your new bundle is just one of them. Continue reading “The Archive Is Alive: Dangerous Names”

I Am A Different Mom Now

I am really excited to have Maggie Singleton guest posting today for the second time on this blog. (You can read her first guest post about being married to an enginerd here.) Maggie has a serious talent for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and writing about it so sincerely and in such a Continue reading “I Am A Different Mom Now”

This Is The One Where I Give Away Free Stuff…So You Probably Want to Read It

You may have noticed my blog looks a little different (it will likely evolve some more in the near future). I thought I’d change things up in celebration. Guess who is *this close* to hitting 1,000 followers? Heck yeah! I’m SO close that I may actually hit the milestone while I slumber, in between the time I scheduled this post to publish and it actually publishing. Unfortunately, I do think a chunk of those followers are spammer blogs who post in Croatian or redirect you to pyramid schemes promising financial Continue reading “This Is The One Where I Give Away Free Stuff…So You Probably Want to Read It”

The Pleasure Who’s Name May Not Be Spoken (Or “How I Learned to Stop Feeling Guilty and Love Reality TV”): A Guest Post from “Dances Like a White Girl”

I am happy to report that I am really super busy with no time for blogging at the moment. Why does that make me happy? Because it gives me a reason to have my buddy IrishWriterGirl75 guest post on my blog. She has some wicked talent ya’ll. Enjoy!!

The Pleasure Who’s Name May Not Be Spoken (Or “How I Learned to Stop Feeling Guilty and Love Reality TV”) by IrishWriterGirl75

Though it has been noted for centuries that those of the Catholic or Jewish faith have the market cornered on guilt, the notion of predestination in the Presbyterian doctrine evokes nothing short of crippling self-awareness and over-analyzation of every waking action. “Did I remember to tell everyone at the potluck that there are pistachios in the Watergate Salad?” “Did I sit rigidly enough on that hard pew during the sermon or did I kind of sway when we sang “The Church’s One Foundation?” “Will I ever learn all the words to “God Be With You” even though I heard it, like, 250,000 times? And will there be a quiz?” The most anxiety inducing facet is, of course, no matter what you do, or don’t, those who have been chosen to go to Heaven have been picked long before they were born, so… good luck with that. It would be just like a bunch of suspicious Scots from the Highlands (which are cold, I mean blustery cold, made even colder with no leggings to wear under kilts) to create this belief. With that said, I’m still proud of my heritage and have really fond memories of our sweet, small, limestone church in my tiny hometown. But that guilt…well, as they saw about polyester and insulated casserole carriers, it travels well.

I have the kind of life that really, I shouldn’t have to escape from, and that makes me feel guilty. I have a great family, terrific job, supportive friends, an education, a good place to live, and plenty (if not too much, as evidenced by my scale) to eat. But I am also blessed (cursed) with a vivid and overactive imagination. And, in all fairness, I have the kind of job that deals with human emotions and reactions, that it’s like having someone vomit all over your shoes, sometimes on multiple occasions over the course of one day. Though I love to read, sometimes I can’t focus on a story, no matter how good it is. That is when I turn to my vice. Reality TV.

O.K., here goes. My show, like me, is off kilter and, quite frankly, appeals to the 16-21 year old demographic for squealy, dramatic girls and immature, dateless 25-45 year old men. And I judge not, for apparently, for these are my people. My show, like “Urkel” in days of old, emerges on Friday night at primetime and provides cheesy entertainment, met with chortles and eye rolling. But, also like “Urkel” (yeah, I know, it’s “Family Matters” for any sticklers out there), it’s got heart. And eye candy (draw your own conclusions). Since I’m not getting paid to endorse the show, I won’t do it any favors by saying the name, but I will describe it thusly : Three guys of varying maturity levels are locked, on purpose, in places reputed to be haunted, or at least condemned, over night. Their mission: to prove the existence of ghosts, and their own equilibrium (they fall down sometimes because, well, it is dark). My admission: I never miss an episode and I own two seasons of the show. As in, they are part of my DVD collection. The classiness just won’t stop. I should not like this. But I do. Therein lies the guilt.

The lesson in all of this you ask? Our society is full of ways to self-destruct, as well as ways to positively rebuild what has been lost. There’s only room for feelings of guilt, loss, and shame in one these options. As for me, I will fight feeling bad for destroying my brain cells with sugar-coated shows. After all, I could run into someone from the show “on the other side” someday, and we would have to have something to talk about. Ahhh, justification…

IrishWriterGirl75 is new to the blogging world, and she muses over on Dances Like a White Girl. She is smart, funny, and has some mad writing skills…oh, and she does in fact dance like a white girl. I’ve seen it. True story. She also has pretty much the easiest and best laugh in the world. So head on over to her blog, and check her out! 

OH, and she (along with this other really cool blogger I know who happens to be me) is also featured in the best book on the market for nursing mothers, Milk Diaries, written by the talented Maggie Singleton. It is available on Amazon!

Let’s Make These Boobs Go VIRAL!

Great Day St. Louis
Me, Maggie, and Susan on the set

If you read my last post, you know I had a very important task to do yesterday. And despite being a tad on the side of super-duper-über nervous, I am happy to say that appearing on one of our local morning shows, Great Day St. Louis, actually went surprisingly well.

I have referred to myself in a previous post as being apparently really lame in person, and that I should only communicate my thoughts via my blog, where I can bypass the mockery my mouth always seems to make of the words that form in my head. History has proven that am more likely to flub up than appear cool and graceful in high pressure situations. Thankfully that was not the case yesterday; and I could not be more relieved. Because yesterday held much higher stakes than impressing some celebrity I adore. Yesterday I risked the unforgiving microscope of high def television to help promote Milk Diaries: a compilation of practical, encouraging advice from the “real” breastfeeding experts. You may have seen me mention it before. It is important to me to help get the word out about this book for few reasons:

1. The author, Maggie Singleton, is a very dear friend of mine. But she is also very talented, and I have watched in awe as she has traveled this journey of growing a seed of an idea into a real life book, doing most of the hard work herself. And doing it in a way that is full of wisdom, encouragement, humor, and even a bit of brilliance.

Milk Diaries by Maggie Singleton2. I believe in the message of the book. Milk Diaries is unlike any book I ever read as a new mother, and in the best way possible. Not only is it like getting really great advice from your girlfriends, sister, or mother, but it is a non-judgmental exploration in how mothers can succeed at breastfeeding in a myriad of ways. It is accepting of all breastfeeding viewpoints on the spectrum, whether you are a mom who wants to exclusively breastfeed, a mother who wants to nurse her children well past the year mark, a mom who wants to use a combination of breastfeeding and formula feeding, a working mother who pumps, or a struggling mother who is unsure of how long she wants to continue breastfeeding. There is a story in there for everyone, and a voice that will help each mother feel confident in whatever decision she chooses to make.

3. If Maggie becomes famous, I fully intend to ride her coattails seeing as how I contributed one of the stories in the book, “The Lactation Consultant from the Black Lagoon.” You know, I plan to be the Solange Knowles to her Beyoncé.

So considering the above reasons, I am glad I didn’t pull a “classic Kelly” moment, made famous by the great Micky Dolenz Debacle of 2011 and the Andy Cohen Catastrophe of 2012. I didn’t even make some ill-informed comment about “legitimate breastfeeding.” Whew. (I did use the word “zest” twice, as if that is a word used in natural conversation. Weird, but not damaging.) And I might add that Maggie was very graceful under pressure, appearing quite “authorly;” and Susan, another contributor to Milk Diaries, further proved that Maggie chose some great moms to share their stories in her book.

I also want to thank the people over at Great Day St. Louis who were very welcoming and not intimidating whatsoever. Their easy-going attitudes definitely put the three of us at ease, and it was nice to hear Virginia Kerr endorse the book as something she wishes she had when she was a new mother.

And now the moment you have all been waiting for…the roundtable discussion of the year. Please share this with anyone you know who is expecting a child, who is struggling with breastfeeding, or who wants to read a book that will make her feel great about being a mom. Let’s make Milk Diaries go VIRAL!!! Boobs do really well in the viral world.

(P.S. You can find Milk Diaries on Amazon. If you live in the St. Louis area, you can pick up a copy at the Ballwin or St. Peter’s locations of Once Upon a Child or at Main Street Books in St. Charles.)

Things That Make You Pee Your Pants

I know I JUST made a new post yesterday, but I simply wanted to share a couple random things with you. Hopefully you are not already tired of me.

peeing in your pants
A classic quote from “Billy Madison”

#1 So I have been thinking about the political candidates today and what election day must be like for them. For me, the hubbub is over. I have cast my ballot; the rest is out of my hands. And to be very frank, watching the returns will likely be anti-climatic for me since I am mostly of the opinion that my life probably will not drastically change with the election of any candidate. But that’s just me.

What I am REALLY wondering is if any of the candidates are peeing in their pants yet? That’s what I said: peeing in their pants. Particularly Romney and Obama. And I don’t mean peeing in their pants because they are so excited…I mean peeing in their pants like, holy-crap-I-could-be-hours-away-from-becoming-the-next-president-what-the-hell-did-I-get-myself-into-maybe-I-will-dodge-a-bullet-and-lose. Seriously, though. I know how I felt when someone nominated me to be on the school board, and I wasn’t so sure I wanted the pressure of making decisions that would affect the entire educational system in which I entrust my children. So I can only imagine when someone says, “Hey, man. You should be the next president.” No thank you. That’s a little too much responsibility as far as I’m concerned.

great day st. louis#2 Speaking of peeing in my pants, I will most surely be doing that tomorrow as I will be appearing on LIVE television to support my very good friend Maggie Singleton as she promotes her new book “Milk Diaries.” A few of us who contributed stories to the book will be there along with Maggie to discuss how insanely amazing it is, as well as touch on hot topics in breastfeeding. So if you want to hear me talk about boobs, are in the St. Louis area, and are near a television at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 7th, you can watch me and Maggie on Great Day St. Louis on KMOV Channel 4. The rest of you will have to wait to see me talk about boobs until I can post the link to the show afterwards.

Here’s to the boobs…political and otherwise!

“Caring for Your Enginerd”: A Guest Post by Maggie Singleton

I have decided it is time to diversify. Mix it up. Share the limelight. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the very first “Are You Finished Yet?’ Guest Blog Post, written by author Maggie Singleton. She is a very good friend of mine, so please don’t embarrass me. Mouths closed, “reading eyes” open, and give her your full attention.

Caring for Your Enginerd by Maggie Singleton

Kelly and I have been friends for nearly four years now. Sure, we have bonded through watching our mini-me firstborns move on from preschool to elementary school; and we have also bonded through slowly but surely finding our way as writers and bloggers; but there is something ever more central that bonds us like epoxy: our beloved enginerds.

image from

“Enginerd” is a term Kelly coined a few years back to describe her husband—a combination of intelligent person possessing nerd-like qualities who can still uphold a relatively decent conversation. That pretty much describes my enginerd, too. I’m sure you know the type…the guys who can be found reading Popular Science or working a Rubik’s cube challenge for fun at any given moment. You see, it’s more than a career for the enginerd; it’s a mindset.

Now some of the traits I’m about to describe may sound general to half the population; but forgive me for not knowing the difference. My dad was an enginerd; his dad was an enginerd; most of Andy’s close friends are enginerds; heck, even some of my friends are married to enginerds or are enginerds themselves. I’m surrounded!

In case you find yourself in my shoes, I thought I would provide you with some tips on how to properly care for the enginerd in your life:

Enginerds do not like surprises. You know that surprise birthday party you would love for your husband to throw for you and thought you’d give him the “hint” by throwing one for him? You may want to rethink that. Enginerds like to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, where they should be, how they are going to get there, and who they should know when they arrive. Simply put: they like plans. So don’t mess with them. Care for your enginerd by providing as much information about an event as possible, and then hope to God nothing changes.

Enginerds cannot take a hint. An enginerd’s mind is capable of understanding the most complex of systems and could create a machine bigger than the room you’re sitting in; but if you want that cute necklace on page 24, you’re going to have to get out a pen and paper and write it down. Take good care of your enginerd by letting your needs be known. On paper. No guesswork = far less drama in the long run.

You may get more than you asked for from an enginerd. If you ask an enginerd what time it is, you may or may not get the answer you’re looking for. Instead of simply telling you the time, he very well could launch into a dissertation about how a watch works instead. Sometimes enginerds have difficulty finding the forest in the trees. Help redirect your enginerd with gentle yet firm statements like, “I said WHAT TIME IS IT?!?”

Enginerds are efficiency experts. Why spend ten minutes talking about something that could be settled in two? Case in point: our texts to each other. More often than not, my texts would go over the 160 character limit every time I sent a message under our old plan (thankfully for me, the new one doesn’t have a limit). His reply would usually be under five words. Simple, direct, and to the point. That’s my enginerd! Perhaps you can care for your enginerd by making all of your communication in Haiku.

Enginerds are “pretty good.” I have come to realize that “pretty good” is my enginerd’s highest form of adulation. If I just knocked his socks off with a new recipe, he’ll be sure to tell me it was “pretty good.” And that flirty dress he likes is “pretty nice” looking, too. If he were to go on and on about my cooking, it would expend far too much emotion and communication for his taste (and his logic might add that I would expect that same amount of praise the next time. Smart fella.) If he keeps his cool in every situation and only ups the ante with the occasional “that’s really good,” then it takes longer to reach his drama threshold. Care for your enginerd by keeping drama to a minimum.

enginerd measuring height

Enginerds accept no substitutes. Enginerds work ceaselessly to achieve (near) perfect designs. Be it a remodeling project, a great rib recipe, or a work assignment, they want it done right—every time. And once an acceptable state of precision has been met, they do not mess with it. Ever. (Well, unless they know exactly how and why a change is necessary and statistically how much better something will be as a result, of course.) An enginerd would argue that this same consistency and standardization *should* apply to the entire household. For example, you should not substitute Kahlua for vanilla in a batch of tried and true chocolate chip cookies because your enginerd will probably sniff out the imposter ingredient like a Bloodhound. In the future, if you are unable to make something according to “exact design specifications,” do your enginerd a loving favor and make brownies instead.

I do hope that this list of tips helps you deal with your enginerd. It certainly helps me appreciate mine more just writing about him (blog therapy?). I want to thank Kelly for this fun opportunity to share about something near and dear to both of our hearts. If you enjoyed this blog, you might also enjoy an article called “Caring for Your Introvert” by Jonathan Rauch from which this blog was inspired. If you have one of those on your hands, take a look!

Maggie SingletonMaggie Singleton is an author, blogger, editor, and an advocate for women married to enginerds. And she’s always good for picking up your kid from preschool when you find yourself in a pinch because you are of course stuck in the only checkout lane open at Walmart, manned by their most inefficient employee, but I’ll be damned if you’re going to abandon ship only to come back to that hell hole later with your kid in tow to purchase the same stuff that is sitting in your basket at this very moment.

You can find her brilliant book Milk Diaries: a compilation of practical, encouraging advice from the “real” breastfeeding experts on Amazon.  Go read more of Maggie on her own blog at Perspective Writing and Editing.

And you (or the enginerd in your life) can check out what her enginerd husband is up to at Top-Down Engineering.

Dangerous Names

So I kind of have baby on the brain lately. I think I probably made my husband stop breathing with that statement, but mostly it is just because I have quite a few friends who are pregnant right now. Bringing new life into the world is filled with all kinds of land mines of excitement and frustration. And picking a name for your new bundle is just one of them.

You know how some names seem to have certain connotations to them? Come on, don’t act all I don’t judge a book by its cover on me. Whether name profiling is right or wrong (okay, it’s most definitely wrong), you know that if you hear of a kid named Bear Blu that his mother is most likely a celebrity, and also likely to chew up her child’s food for him and then spit it into his mouth.

That is why naming a child can be such a stressful thing. I was reminded of this during a conversation with a friend of mine who is expecting her third child. She and her husband seem to be at a standstill in the naming process, mostly because they have trouble agreeing on names that they both like. I can empathize. My husband and I had very few names we agreed upon. In fact, it’s a good thing we have one girl and one boy, because those two names were pretty much the only ones we both liked. If a baby #3 ever comes along, in short…we’re screwed.

In talking with my friend, I also realized that maybe part of the reason choosing a name is so hard is because men and women seem to have different tastes in names. Especially girl names. Let’s just say that both of our husbands had female name choices that hold those certain connotations I was talking about earlier.

When I became pregnant the first time, Kurt and I each made a list of names we liked, then compared. One of the names that he really liked was Brandy, and when I showed my immediate distaste for it, he just couldn’t understand why. Really? Seriously? What’s the

Which one is named Sr. Brandy?

first thing that comes to mind when you hear that name? My answer: dancer (and not the kind you pay a lot of money to go see…well, maybe you do. It’s just all in singles). Considering that Kurt has made it definitively clear that his ultimate goal for his daughter is that she enter the convent in her teens, I was flabbergasted that he would want to name her Brandy…and that he didn’t like my suggestion of Mary because it was “too plain.” Helloooooo…Mary practically begs to have a Sister placed before it and something like Frances put after it. Mary is a surefire nun name! But Kurt still defended Brandy, saying he liked the name because of the totally rockin’ song by Looking Glass:

I’ll give it to him. I love the song. However, even the song is about a girl who hangs around sailors all the time and thinks it is okay to stay with a guy who would rather get his jollies out at sea than give her the time of day. Needless to say, we found the very acceptable compromise of Grace. And it’s a good thing, because at the age of five, she once said something on the playground that could have been worrisome otherwise. She was sliding down the fireman’s pole and yelled, “Dad, I have really good pole moves! You should see them sometime. Really. I’m really good on the pole.” Knowing that her name means “blessing and virtue” helped me laugh off this comment. Had her name been Brandy, it could have been very ominous.

So, to all my round-bellied friends and anyone else with a bun in the oven, good luck dodging the land mines of dangerous names.

Milk Diaries by Maggie SingletonOh, and while you’re in the market for all things baby-related, check out a brand new book by my good friend and fantastic writer, Maggie Singleton. It’s called Milk Diaries: A Compilation of Practical, Encouraging Advice from the “Real” Breastfeeding Experts. She has gathered stories from many moms about their experiences breastfeeding, and it is better than any breastfeeding book I ever read as a new mom. And you can also check my own contribution in there, “The Lactation Consultant from the Black Lagoon.” Happy reading…and feeding!