This Mom Thought About Having a Third Kid. See What Changed Her Mind!

“Provided the test comes back fine, I’ll plan to see you back here in, let’s see…maybe June.” My OBGYN gave me a little smirk on his way towards the door.

“June? You mean next Feb– oh. You’re funny.”

It wouldn’t be an annual womanly checkup if Dr. H didn’t joke with me about trying for a third kid. I’d like to think it’s because I’m his favorite patient, and it’s just his way of saying he would like to hang out with me more often. (Is that a weird thing to say about your OBGYN? Because I feel like it might be weird. Even though I don’t mean it to be. It’s just that Dr. H is kind of the bomb – and a great conversationalist, considering the circumstances surrounding our interaction. Like, I’d totally go have a few beers with him…if he wasn’t checking up on the health and wellness of my lady bits.) However, as the father of seven or so children himself, I think his enthusiasm for me getting pregnant again simply comes from him being pro-baby…and pro-more income to pay for seven college tuitions. I also *may* have told him I would name the next kid after him. Continue reading “This Mom Thought About Having a Third Kid. See What Changed Her Mind!”

“Difficult” Is Not a Synonym for “Traumatizing”

Traumatize /ˈtrouməˌtīz,ˈtrôməˌtīz/ (verb): subject to lasting shock as a result of an emotionally disturbing experience or physical injury.

Last week, the TODAY Parenting Team featured an article I wrote called “A Tale of Two Kindergarteners,” as part of their community series on back-t0-school advice. I chose to share a story from two years ago about my son’s struggles starting kindergarten. He had a rough go of it, and it was hard for me to watch. But in time, he found his courage and confidence, and I wanted to give hope to other parents who might be going through this.

By in large, the response was positive. Yet, like disconcerting pieces of gristle that ruin an otherwise tasty piece of chicken, came voices of dissent, peppered throughout those responses of parents relating to the piece. It comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. What I thought was a fairly innocuous piece, I now saw in a different light, one that called my parenting skills into question for forcing my son to do something he clearly had fears about.

My husband’s aunt often jokes that all parents will inevitably do something for which their children will need therapy. Well, apparently the transgression that will land my son on the psychiatrist’s couch is sending him to kindergarten. It was a very difficult situation, after all. I sure felt like a horrible mother when I left him crying on the bus or tearful in his classroom morning after morning. Maybe he really was traumatized. Continue reading ““Difficult” Is Not a Synonym for “Traumatizing””

“Difficult” Is Not a Synonym for “Traumatic”

Traumatize /ˈtrouməˌtīz,ˈtrôməˌtīz/ (verb): subject to lasting shock as a result of an emotionally disturbing experience or physical injury.

Last week, the TODAY Parenting Team featured an article I wrote called “A Tale of Two Kindergarteners,” as part of their community series on back-t0-school advice. I chose to share a story from two years ago about my son’s struggles starting kindergarten. He had a rough go of it, and it was hard for me to watch. But in time, he found his courage and confidence, and I wanted to give hope to other parents who might be going through this.

By in large, the response was positive. Yet, like disconcerting pieces of gristle that ruin an otherwise tasty piece of chicken, came voices of dissent, peppered throughout those responses of parents relating to the piece. It comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. What I thought was a fairly innocuous piece, I now saw in a different light, one that called my parenting skills into question for forcing my son to do something he clearly had fears about.

My husband’s aunt often jokes that all parents will inevitably do something for which their children will need therapy. Well, apparently the transgression that will land my son on the psychiatrist’s couch is sending him to kindergarten. It was a very difficult situation, after all. I sure felt like a horrible mother when I left him crying on the bus or tearful in his classroom morning after morning. Maybe he really was traumatized. Continue reading ““Difficult” Is Not a Synonym for “Traumatic””

Our Summer Mantra: “Is It Worse Than Cholera?”

“They just don’t know how good they really have it.”

That was the consensus among my friends at the pool the other day, as we waded in the shallow end, keeping an eye on our swimming children while chatting. The conversation was one that happens between parents who have hit the wall when it comes to surviving June, July, and August…and whose children may or may not have just made the comment that swimming at the neighborhood pool was boring because it doesn’t have a slide.

We have come to that point in the summer when things start to wear. The novelty of being out of school is over. We’ve already taken our vacation. A moratorium was called on scheduling camps and activities every week when both the family minivan and wallet each made motions that they also get a summer respite. And with me working from home more hours than before, well, things have been a little slow for the children around our house.

When things are slow, my kids seem to fill their free time with finding things to complain about. Like pools with no slides. Really?

Articles about giving your kids a “70’s Summer” are everywhere, encouraging parents to promote more laid back days filled with unstructured play, television, friends, and apparently, Tang.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that sounds fabulous. I mean, that’s pretty much the way I spent all of my childhood summers (except for the Tang. I lived on Hi-C Ecto Cooler, because I was an 80’s kid). And it has pretty much been my general modus operandi as a parent as well (even before it was trendy). But let’s face it, trying to convince my children of how cushy their lives are by starting a sentence with, “When I was a kid…” is futile. Because things were awesome when I was a kid…and still quite cushy.

No, I needed to really drive home the “first-world-problem-ness” of their first world problems if I was going to make it to the start of a new school year with any shred of sanity. Something that would shut down their whining about Disney Channel never running new episodes of their shows, or that I don’t run to the store to immediately restock the bag of chips they just finished a day after I bought them.
Continue reading “Our Summer Mantra: “Is It Worse Than Cholera?””

The Mother’s Day Hierarchy

Mother’s Day. I recall being a kid and feeling a little jealous that moms got their very own holiday (because kids are too dumb to realize the national children’s holiday is just called “Life.”) I wanted to be a part of that club who got to go through the dinner line first and unwrap gifts on a day that wasn’t Christmas or my birthday. I just knew that once I became a mom, I would have it made in the shade every time the second Sunday of May rolled around.

Little did I know.

The advent of your first bumbling baby may give you the right to be celebrated on Mother’s Day. But what most new moms don’t realize is that there is a certain seniority at play. You aren’t immediately granted a free pass to a day of complete leisure and pampering. That has to be earned through the ranks of what I like to call “The Hierarchy of Mother’s Day.”icecream

Level 1: The New Mom

You will probably get some nice jewelry from your husband, but just don’t even think about putting “sleeping in” on your wish list, especially if you’re nursing. Babies can’t read the universal memo, RE: Mom is Off the Clock Today. And they usually pick Mother’s Day as one of those “special” times when the touch, voice, glance, or even presence of anyone but Mom induces whines, tantrums, and neck clawing. So I hope you like that birthstone necklace. It’s all you’re getting this year.

Level 2: The Mom of Little People

Pinterest was invented for you. Keepsake plates decorated with your children’s adorable artwork. Footprints immortalized in garden stones. Ornaments of your children’s silhouettes. Jewelry charms made from precious fingerprints. Except YOU won’t be the one getting these gifts, because, duh…dads don’t do Pinterest. GRANDMA is going to be the lucky recipient of all these thoughtful and sentimental goodies. YOU will be the one busting your ass to get them all made while your kids try to shove quick-dry cement up their noses and stick their tongues out every time you try to snap a photo of their profiles. Then you get to dress the kids in their Sunday best (because again, duh, dads don’t do fashion) and herd them all to church before heading over to the big extended family celebration with your pot luck side dish (because, you guessed it, dads and Pinterest).  But don’t worry. You are still going to have hella appreciation heaped upon you. Get ready for some pancakes with “secret” ingredients, construction paper cards with indecipherable writing, and glitter. Damn it.

Level 3: The Mom of Teens

During Level 2, you would have given your Target Redcard for everyone to leave the house for the day so you could have some uninterrupted peace and quiet. Now in Level 3, that’s all you get…because everyone is apparently hanging out at Taylor’s house breaking in her new pool table. Well, there was that text you got that says “HMD *heart emoticon, kissy face emoticon, taco emoticon.*

Level 4: The Mom of Adult Children

Mother’s Day is becoming a sweeter affair by now. Your kids make money of their own and can finally start giving you something that doesn’t have a handprint on it. You may even get to be doubly celebrated as a mom AND and grandma, so there are bonus presents. But since your kids are likely busy being parents of tiny tots, working long hours, or just being self-absorbed d-bags (because there’s always one), everyone still looks to you for “the plan.” And it’s just as well, since your own 83-year-old mother broke her hip when she tripped over a Lego castle the last time she was at your daughter’s house, and she might catch any number of communicable diseases if the celebration is held at your son’s bachelor pad.

Level 5: The Eldest Matriarch

You’ve made it to the only level of The Mother’s Day Hierarchy where you don’t have to lift one.damn.finger. Everyone owes YOU. The party’s not at your house. You don’t have to cook a freakin’ thing. You’re first in line to eat. Good news: you are the Queen Supreme of all the Mothers. Bad news: that means your mom is dead.

Son of b. Looks like Mother’s Day kind of sucks for everyone.

Do you like your Mother’s Day with just a hint of truthful snark? Then you are going to LOVE these new cards designed by myself and three other über talented ladies: Emily of The Waiting, Meredith of Pile of Babies, and Ashley, writer at Mommyish. Emily had this great idea to put our heads together to create a Mother’s Day collection of cards that speak to the “real” and often hilarious side of motherhood. You know, non-Hallmark approved. We even made it so you can purchase and download any of these cards at our Etsy store to give to all the mamas in your life. Even better, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to an organization called Every Mother Counts, an non-profit that works to provide safe pregnancies and childbirth for women all over the world who don’t have access to the care and resources they need. So not only do you get to have a laugh at these cards, but your purchase also helps to ensure other mothers get the chance to find the humor in motherhood.

Here’s a sneak peak at the three cards I contributed to the collection:

To see the rest of the collection, go check them out on Emily’s blog, The Waiting, or head over to the Etsy store and get your own copies!

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it!

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The Google Search History of a 6-Year-Old Boy

I’d like to kiss the person who invented internet parental controls.

Raising kids in this digital age usually terrifies me. The moment my tween daughter first asked me for her own iPhone without the slightest hint of joking in her voice was enough to make me regret not becoming Amish. But being the (fairly) modern people we are, we do allow our kids their technological romps, with all necessary precautions in place. Like internet parental controls. And thank God, because had we been Amish, or not able to trust internet filters, I would have missed out on one of the funniest things I have ever read: my 6-year-old son’s Google search history.

In addition to playing Angry Birds Star Wars and Dr. Panda’s Restaurant, my son loves utilizing the Google voice search function on my husband’s phone. He will sit there and just start saying crap as it comes to mind, seeing what results pop up on Google. (Hence, my extreme gratitude for parental controls.) The other night, my husband came into the bedroom laughing. He handed me his phone and told me to check out the search history.

What I read was pretty much the most glorious manifesto of attention deficit disorder meets Nickelodeon meets everything little boys think about. Like, everything. tweet-button(1)blog Continue reading “The Google Search History of a 6-Year-Old Boy”

3 Tips for Getting Kids To Eat Healthy (Hint: They All Involve Deception)

When it comes to eating healthy, kids talk a big talk. But they usually walk the walk that leads them straight to the sugar high.

Case in point: I was recently at an elementary school reading my book, Absolute Mayhem, to the kids. At one point in the story, my character Milo is struggling to choke down his vegetables in as many unsuccessful ways as possible. I always stop and ask the kids, “You guys like vegetables, right?” I usually get a pretty resounding “Yes!” drowning out those few, *ahem*…darling children who always insist on giving the answer they know you don’t want to hear. However, when I turn the page to reveal Milo and his sister Lulu feasting on a sweet buffet that is the stuff of doctor’s and dentists’ nightmares, a wide-eyed, covetous look creeps across the face of every single child sitting on the reading carpet. It’s a look that says, Screw you, vegetables.
Continue reading “3 Tips for Getting Kids To Eat Healthy (Hint: They All Involve Deception)”

Be a Beck: Parenting Advice from The Grammys

Perhaps the hardest part of parenting is figuring out how to ensure your children don’t grow up to be a-holes. Finding a hiding place to scarf down a bag of Cheetos before they sniff you out and ask you to share is a close second, but I digress. In our house, we follow the very simple yet effective motto of “don’t be a jackleg,” born from my father’s term for various plagues on society. We like to point out jackleg moves, then tell the kids to do the opposite: See that lady texting and driving? She’s a jackleg. If you ever do that, you’ll be a big fat jackleg. Don’t do that. So far, it has provided them with a pretty solid set of parameters for how not to act. But I worry we focus on the negative a little too much. My discipline repertoire could really use some positive reinforcement and a model my kids can strive to be, not avoid.

Then Kanye West went and acted like a jerkwad when Beck won Album of the Year at the Grammys. And I thought to myself, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Continue reading “Be a Beck: Parenting Advice from The Grammys”

A Re-Gift: I Am a Liar. And It’s All Santa’s Fault

It’s go time around here. And with our first (of about five) family Christmas celebrations happening this coming weekend, I’m going to pull an old post from two years ago out of my magic sack. But it’s not just any old post. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Besides, at least half of you readers weren’t even around when I posted this. So it’s new to most of you. And with one of my children knowing Santa isn’t real and the other firmly believing in Mr. Kringle without any doubts, I was reminiscing about the year when I had to work a little harder at keeping the faith alive. This is what sitcoms are made of, people. Now, off to address some Christmas cards…

•••

It can be stressful to have a seven-year-old at Christmastime. Why? Because there is questioning. A lot of questioning. You know, about that plump guy in the red suit.

I have to be honest; Grace’s prying questions about Santa make me more uncomfortable than the few questions she has already asked me about S-E-X. Questions about sex, while a little awkward, haven’t been that hard to answer. I am making sure she has accurate facts, giving her knowledge that not only makes her feel okay about her own body, but will hopefully lead to informed and responsible decisions in the future. I subscribe to the very wise motto of G.I. Joe: Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

But answering all these endless questions about Santa means I am doing the exact opposite: I am perpetrating a lie.

It all started at the very beginning of December. We were in the car, sitting at a stoplight. The car behind us caught my eye in the rearview mirror because it had those little reindeer antlers on either side. I glanced at the driver for a glimpse of this person with undoubted Christmas cheer, and lo and behold…it was an older gentleman, with a round face, a long, fuzzy white beard, and a red shirt. I couldn’t believe my luck! Last year we happened upon a reindeer in our backyard just before Christmas, and now this!

So I announced to the kids, “Look who is driving the car behind us!” They both quickly turned around, and Michael yelled, with an energy like the one that comes from eating too many pixie sticks, “SANTA!!!!!!”

Almost on cue, the man behind us smiled and waved at the kids. It was, for lack of a better word, precious. Just as I was feeling my own giant boost of yuletide glow, Grace said, a bit accusingly, “What would Santa be doing driving around here?” I explained that maybe he was making the rounds, checking up on kids, getting reports from all the Elves on the Shelves.

She was quiet for a second. “I kind of think Santa is real. But I kind of think he is a fairy tale.” Well, isn’t that just Grinchy. And then the questions began…

I know what she’s doing. I can tell she is conflicted. She wants to believe Santa is real, but that maturing brain of hers is feeding her more and more of this thing call “logic.” And she’s not so sure she likes the taste of it. Therefore, instead of coming straight out with the question of whether there is a Santa Claus, she is asking every possible question about his practicality to see how I respond.

Grace: What is Santa’s address?
Me: Just write “Santa Clause – North Pole. The post office will know where it goes because there is only one Santa.

Grace: But if no one has ever seen Santa and his workshop is secret, how does the mailman know where he lives?
Me: (crap)

What am I supposed to do? Tell her that I am incredibly impressed with her abilities in deduction, throw up my hands to the fact that I will likely soon be out-smarted, and say, “Congratulations! I think you have just about figured it out. I will spare you the last two zillion questions you were going to ask me and just confirm what you are hinting at. THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS. And your parents are liars. Merry Christmas.”

Nope. That is not what I do at all. Instead, I conspire with my husband to dig ourselves even deeper in this jolly old lie. Ladies and gentlemen, witness our deception:

Grace's Email from Santa
Grace’s Email from Santa

A few days ago, I was at the computer sending some emails when Grace asked me if the reason Santa knew all this stuff about her and Michael was because I emailed him. I confessed that I had absolutely no idea what Santa’s email address was. So Miss Smarty Pants said, “Just Google it.” I hesitantly typed in the words “Santa’s email address,” fearing that an entry would pop up saying something like “Trick your kids with this fake email address to Santa…because we all know Santa is not real.” Luckily, the first entry was an actual site where kids could send emails to Santa. And it was adorable.

Grace entered her information and her note to Santa, then hit send. A screen popped up with a message that the email was being sent…then it said Santa was reading the email…then it said he was writing one back to her. Within a few minutes, Santa’s email was ready for her to read. She was a bit skeptical that he had written it so quickly, but that doubt was soon squashed once she read the email. It was very personal and even somehow had picked up from what she had written in the free-form comment section the fact that she had a brother. I was relieved to see she seemed quite satisfied.

But apparently her wheels had been turning all afternoon, because at dinner time she informed us she had a sneaky idea. She wasn’t so sure Santa had actually written that email, or that there really was a Santa to even email. So she had devised an “experiment.” She wanted my husband to go back to the site and enter in his name, but say he was 6 years old and from Canada. By her reasoning, if Santa was real and really writing these emails, he would certainly know that Kurtis was actually an adult…and not living in Canada.

Well, *%$#@. But I have to admit, she is kind of a genius. And a little maniacal.

We knew we couldn’t talk our way out of this, so my husband agreed to do it. He went downstairs and started the email. All of a sudden, he came racing back upstairs, whipped into the family room and said in a hushed voice, “QUICK! Get on the Kindle, pretend you are Santa, and send an email to me saying that you know I was tricking you!”

OOOOOH! You handsome devil you!

But there was just one problem. I panicked, “But the site doesn’t send it to your email address! Santa’s email just pops up on the site after a minute or two!!!” But my enginerd had already taken care of that. He had unplugged the router so when they hit “send,” nothing would happen. Then when he plugged the router back in, he quickly opened his email to find this message waiting in his inbox:

Subject: Naughty, Naughty

HO HO HO! You tried to trick old Santa! I know you don’t live in Canada.

Love, Santa

P.S. Rudolph thought that was a funny joke!

I know. The tangled web of lies we weave. But I have to say, it was totally worth it to see the look on her face and hear her exclaim, “YES! The email was really from Santa!”

My Cutest Christmas Angel when she was 1 year old
My Cutest Christmas Angel when she was 1 year old

Maybe I am setting her up for a bigger disappointment when she finally does learn the truth. Maybe I am being selfish. I know that the elaborate lengths my husband and I have gone to in order to keep Grace believing are in part for us. We see her losing pieces of “little” every day. Sure, her innocence still outweighs her worldliness. But childhood starts to look different around this age. It isn’t necessarily better or worse, but change is always hard. Every parent knows that faint tug of longing that comes whenever you catch a glimpse of a photo of your child during younger years. Remember…that squeaky voice…the way that tiny hand felt around your finger…that unquestionable belief in anything that could be imagined…it was adorable.

But seven-year-olds can be pretty adorable, too. Grace reminded me of that when she took a bit of offense to Santa’s use of the word joke.

“It wasn’t a joke. It was an EXPERIMENT.”

Maybe I will remember that line when Grace finally does come to the real conclusion about Santa Claus. It was just an experiment. And to make up for her being the subject of that experiment, I will let her eat the cookies her little brother leaves for Old St. Nick. I might need a lot of cookies.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Believe
Believe

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The Mayhem is HERE: The Official Release of Absolute Mayhem

I am vibrating just a bit. Finally, here is the blog post four years in the making. If we want to be technical, it has really been more like twenty-five years in the making. But twenty-one of those years were just spent dreaming…the last four were the ones to see the actual work that made this dream a reality. So let’s stop putting this off any long and get right to it then:

ABSOLUTE MAYHEM IS HERE!

My very first children’s book, Absolute Mayhem, is officially available as of TODAY! And all I can say is that I am kind of excited to go someplace like a doctor’s office where I have to fill out a form, just so I can finally list my occupation as Author, after almost ten years of leaving that space blank. I mean, I can totally do that now. I have a business card that says so.

Absolute Mayhem by Kelly SuellentropIf the space on that form isn’t too small, I can also list myself as an Illustrator. In addition to writing Absolute Mayhem, I also did all of the illustrations, which was hands down THE most enjoyable part of this whole project. I have fallen in love with my characters, the sister and brother duo of Lulu and Milo, almost as much as I love my own children. And I sincerely hope they are able to charm you and your family as well, along with their tag-a-long dog Hippo.

Lulu, Milo, Hippo and I have spent a lot of time together getting them ready to go out on their own. I had a lot less time to prepare them to fly the nest than I do with my own children; then again, they aren’t half as stubborn and don’t distract me from my mission by leaving lots of messes to clean up. I can also erase their mouths if they get sassy. So they have now graduated from the desk of my comfy home office to the big world of KellySuellentrop.com and Amazon, just in time for the holidays!

Please help me spread the word about Absolute Mayhem. To sweeten the deal, I am having a GIVEAWAY! Two people will each win a free autographed copy of the book. You can be entered to win the following ways:

#1 – Visit my giveaway on Rafflecopter HERE for various ways to earn entries.

#2 – If you are a blogger, REBLOG this post.

#3 – Go to either my new AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE or the ARE YOU FINISHED YET FACEBOOK PAGE, find the post announcing Absolute Mayhem’s release on the timeline, and share it. (And go ahead and give those pages a “like” while you’re there, if you haven’t already.)

#4SHARE this blog post using the social media sharing buttons below, and let me know where you shared it in the comment section.

The giveaway will run today until midnight on Sunday, December 7th (Central Time). I will announce the winners on Tuesday, December 9th here on the blog and on my social media outlets.

Of course, you can always purchase your own copy of the book on KellySuellentrop.com and on Amazon. (And after you read the book, I would love for you to leave a customer review over on Amazon!)

In the coming weeks, Absolute Mayhem will be visiting lots of different and awesome places around the internet, and I am really excited about that. So stay tuned! In the meantime, let me just say thank you in advance to all of you who are going to share the book with your friends and families.

It will be pretty nice to have the last four years pay off.

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