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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April – it’s more than just Easter

By Karrie McAllister

Trust me, I’m a candy eater. I’m the one who picks through my children’s Easter baskets and says “oh, these candies look a little funny, I’d better taste them all just in case.”
The candy, coupled with the Spring flowers and chance to finally wear flip flops again makes me a big fan of April. (I’m purposely overlooking the fact that sometimes here in Ohio we’re trading our sandals for snowboots.)
But a little time on the Internet and you’ll find that there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the month of April. It seems that, over the years, people have somehow concocted obscure holidays that I didn’t even know about, giving us an excuse to party every day of the year.
A quick visit to www.holidayinsights.com and I’ve got an extremely packed schedule this month. There are just too many holidays to celebrate.
The 14th of April is Look Up At The Sky Day. I’m hoping it’s a nice day. I might just stand out there for a long time and feel a little poetic. Thankfully, the 15th is National Rubber Eraser Day, so while writing my poem if I make some mistakes, I can always erase them. And hopefully I’ll get it done by the 28th, Great Poetry Reading Day.
And if you’re a lover of fine foods, April might just be the month for you! There is Eggs Benedict Day on the 16th, Cheeseball Day on the 17th, Pretzel Day on the 26th, and National Prime Rib Day on the 27th. Just think – there were times when we thought all the Easter eggs and candy were bad for us. Those little chocolates have nothing on Cheeseball Day.
I know personally that I’ll have a hard time keeping up with the list of daily holidays. My busy schedule might not have time for things like celebrating Blah, Blah, Blah Day on the 17th, but I’m not worried because there are some fantastic reasons to celebrate the entire month of April.
That’s right, the ENTIRE month.
April is National Pecan month, giving us all a good, solid reason to be a little nutty and eat plenty of sweet pecan pie. It’s also National Welding month, giving some of us a reason to weld away to our hearts content. I know I myself will not be welding, not only because I don’t know how to do it, but also because I’ll be on such a sugar high from National Jelly Bean Day (22 April) that it probably wouldn’t be a wise activity.
April is also National Stress Awareness month, so I suppose we should all pay attention to our stress levels. And once we figure out that we should all lighten up a bit, April is also conveniently National Humor Month, which makes me happy because I love a good joke.
To help you celebrate Humor month, I’ll get you started. Knock Knock. Who’s there? Emerson. Emerson who? Emerson nice shoes you got on.
See? Stress levels down already.
I’m actually very glad to have found this list of bizarre holidays. Sometimes my family gets so bogged down with the daily rigors of life and all of the things that need to be done that we could use a little reminder to stop what we’re doing and rejoice in today. We need to remember to enjoy what we have today, because tomorrow it might be gone.
This list should serve as a reminder to us all to carpe diem a little bit, and whoop it up no matter what, even if it is 23 April, National Zucchini Bread Day. (Now there’s a vegetable with some major party potential…)
I would like to mention that 18 April is National Newspaper Columnists Day. Feel free to send gifts.
By the way, 30 April is National Honesty Day. And for that reason, I swear this column is all completely 100% true.

A Queen thanks Uncle Shelly for a speedy recovery

By Karrie McAllister

I guess technically it wasn’t a lie. It wasn’t even really avoiding the truth. It was just a simple statement that, while true, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
But it was all for the good of my family.
Today, my five-year old daughter had a tonsillectomy.
And trying not to scare the living daylights out of her, I told her all about what her hospital visit would be.
I told her that she would be treated like a real princess, because when she walked in they would dress her in a gown and give her jewelry—namely, a bracelet.
OK, so a rear-flapping cotton gown is hardly ball worthy, and a hospital ID bracelet is hardly jewelry, but you can see where I was going with this.
I also mentioned that while she got to lie in a bed and be treated like royalty, I had to sit in a chair next to her dad for five whole hours.
Needless to say it worked. The night before the operation she was actually dancing around singing “I get to have my tonsils out!” and taunting her brother with the fact that he couldn’t go to the hospital.
The morning of, her tune hadn’t changed much. Her gown was blue, just like Cinderella’s, even though it looked more like Cindy’s work clothes than her fairy godmother’s fashion. And she was the biggest little girl I have ever seen.
She didn’t cry in pre-op.
She didn’t cry in the operating room.
She didn’t laugh at her mother who put the scrubs on backwards.
And as I held her little hand and she drifted off to La La Land, I didn’t cry either. For that I am extremely proud because I would have bet money that I’d have been a blubbering idiot and a nurse would have had to escort me out.
But I sat tearless in the waiting room until the doctor came and told us that everything went well, and that her enormous tonsils were gone.
We rushed back to recovery where she was hysterical, partly from the anesthetic, and partly because a little person had just gone through a big ordeal.
Seeing her upset, a mother does the only thing she can think of, which is focus all her attention on comforting her child. So I held her close and told her how proud I was and, grasping for ways to calm her down, told her I’d brought Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”
“Want to hear a poem?”
Yes, she nodded.
And so I started in on page one.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, every time she came to, she mouthed the word “poem” or just made the sign language sign for “more” that she was taught as a baby.
In the course of her recovery, I read the entire book. And if you aren’t familiar with that particular book, it’s quite long.
I read everything from Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too to the Crocodile’s Dentist to the one at the end where the little naked guy wraps his extra long beard around his body and runs down the road.
In a way, the constant of my voice reciting those silly verses must have giving my kid the comfort she needed to rest and recover, maybe even more than the medicine flowing into her IV.
The funny thing is that when I was a little girl I read that book non-stop. I could recite most of the poems, and reading them all again today in the hospital brought back memories of my own childhood.
What’s even funnier is that reading them all again next to a princess, dressed in her gown and jewelry, made a new set of memories all its own.
And for those memories and for a healthy daughter, Uncle Shelly, wherever you are, I thank you.

A change of season brings a little dance to everyone

By Karrie McAllister

Being raised in the suburbs, I never really saw dancing cows. I had seen plenty of cows just standing around and doing what cows are famous for doing, but no dancing.
It wasn’t until I was driving from my first job through eastern Ohio farmland that I saw them. They were running and jumping and chasing each other, and I swear I saw one of them doing a bit of a hula.
Thinking that I had witnessed some natural miracle, I asked a farming co-worker if cows could really jump. I was all ready to drive back with a film crew when he spoiled it for me.
“Nah, what you saw is normal. They’re just happy it’s Spring. Spring fever, that’s all.”
Once I got over feeling stupid for not knowing cows could actually jump, I tucked that memory away in the corners of my mind, and I pull it out again every Spring.
Because no matter how old or young we are, come that first warm day in northeast Ohio, we’re all are out there dancing around like a bunch of cows.
After being cooped up inside all winter long, acclimating ourselves to the 20 degree temperatures, once the mercury rises above 50 we’re all putting on shorts and flip flops like we just stepped onto the beach instead of the muddy swamp that is our backyard. And on days in March where the mercury hits 65? We actually complain about the heat and sweat a little.
This past weekend was our time to dance like the cows. Sure, we’ve had sunny days before this, but we still had to figure out how to wear winter hats and bike helmets at the same time. This weekend was actually warm enough to go out and not dress in layers, and we took total advantage of it.
Like we were released from some indoor prison, we were wild. With just a hint of summer in the air, we opened up every single window in the house to let out the stink that had been building up all winter long, and then we sent dad to the store for the all-important hamburgers and hotdogs. What’s a summer day without a cookout, right?
And with the smell of charbroiled beef floating through the air, the kids ran around the backyard in t-shirts and bare feet. (Actually we were all barefoot because every pair of shoes we had were caked in mud.)
Nevertheless, it was wonderful to feel the sun on our skin and the bugs flying around our faces.
My children were ecstatic to be outside, and even if there had been a Scooby Doo marathon and I offered them all-you-can-eat candy, nothing would have kept them indoors.
We weren’t the only ones enjoying the day. It seemed that a neighborhood that was hibernating for the last five months suddenly sprang to life. There were people everywhere, walking, playing, grilling, and placing bets on which of the shrubs weren’t going to come back this year.
Come evening, my children’s eyes were glazed over with tiredness. Sun and fun weary, they collapsed in bed just in time for me to realize the mess of toys they scattered around the yard.
So with the warm evening air settling in, I went out to tidy up. And what was once a wild playful day had turned into a peaceful night.
Without the hum of laughter I could hear the spring peepers for the first time this year. I swear there must be 20 million gazillion of those tiny frogs living on my street, and at times during the summer, their night songs are deafening.
But that Spring night, their songs were excited and joyful. They were celebrating the warm weather and change of season, just like everyone else.
Because it was dark out and the frogs are so tiny, I couldn’t actually see them. But if I could, I’m sure they were running and jumping and playing, just like a bunch of spring cows.
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