This one was requested by "Doc". When I was little, we did family vacations once a year. We did not do many vacations as a family when the kids were little. "Doc" was a resident and then a new attending, starting his practice. There was not much down time for him, so if a vacation happened it was me and the kids. Anyway, I finally got a day with all of us together and wanted to take the kids to Sea World. You are probably asking, "What kind of nut takes four small children to an amusement park?" Yeah, me. I am not sure if "Doc" didn't like amusement parks before this day, but I know he wasn't a fan after.
"Mommy" loves horses. The Royal Lippizaner's were performing at the small SeaWorld near us. I convinced "Doc" that we should take his day off and relax with the kids at SeaWorld. It was a beautiful summer day, not too hot or humid until..... We pulled into the parking lot and started walking to the park. The kids were really excited, mostly "Mommy" and "Calvin", "Mini Me" was not even two and "The Blonde" was only eight weeks old. We no sooner got into the park, then the sky opened up on us! Rain poured, only for about ten or fifteen minutes but enough to soak us. I convinced "Doc" to stay anyway and dried off and enjoyed the Lippizaner's. It was worth every second and the rain just to watch "Mommy's" face light up!
After the show we walked around the park and enjoyed some other shows. Maybe this day was going to work! Not so soon. We had to stop for a bathroom break. We rested on a bench as we took the kids to the bathroom. "Doc" was holding "The Blonde" and keeping an eye on "Mini Me". I no sooner got back to the bench with "Calvin" and "Mommy", "Mini Me" toddled right off the bench! A lot of crying but no injury. We can handle this, we are a doctor and a nurse, right?! Don't worry, we can still salvage the day.
So, we walked around an enjoyed more of the park and of course the kids got hungry. First of all, the food at these parks is extremely expensive but that being said, everyone got a sandwich. "Calvin" really wanted a Philly Steak sandwich. I do not know why, because he had never had one before but he was getting one now. He was so excited and talkative and everything for him was in high speed. Did I mention that he was too excited to chew his food? The next thing we knew, "Calvin" was choking and "Doc" pulled a piece of meat out of his mouth that I swear was a foot long. I got "the look". Come on, there were just a few small incidences, everyone was fine. Let's just march on and enjoy a beautiful day with the kids!
It was finally time for the Shamu show. "Calvin" and "Mommy" were pumped! They wanted to get splashed, so we agreed to sit at the top of the "splash zone" so they could get splashed just a little. Why not, we had already been drenched by the rain earlier. "Doc" always liked to hold the babies facing forward with his arm around them and his hand between the legs. "The Blonde" was getting to watch Shamu too! Wouldn't you know it, she pooped. I took her to a nearby bathroom to change her diaper while the rest of the family watched the show. After four kids, you get pretty quick at diaper changes, even really bad ones and this was a bad one that required an outfit change.
"Doc" had a weird look on his face when I got back. What could possibly be wrong now?!! I sat down and he pointed to the man in front of us. He had what looked like mustard on his shoulder, but it wasn't mustard. I don't know, maybe some dripped on him when I left with "The Blonde"! What do we do? Do we tell him? How do we tell him? "Excuse me sir, our baby pooped on you. Sorry. Why are you upset? Birds do it to people!" No, that didn't seem like it would go well. If we don't say anything, maybe he won't notice. Of course he will notice, his family will notice. But he won't know it was from us. What do we do?! We did not have to decide after all. Shamu did a massive jump and water sprayed all the way up to our section and soaked the man in front of us! We got a little wet, but not much. There is a God!
"Doc" had enough. We were going home and there was no more convincing him that we were going to salvage this day. So we had several disasters and it is one of the stories we love to laugh about. This one's for you "Doc". I love you.
From the time our kids were born, we took them with us just about everywhere. Occasionally, we would get a sitter for a night without them and act like grownups, but for the most part they went with us. They quickly learned how to behave in a restaurant. With a little bit of "direction" from us, they knew that dinner meant sitting in your chair and not being disruptive, learning how to converse and be social. We did not plant our kids in front of our phones and mobile devices and games to entertain them. We talked to them and here is the surprise, they talked to us.
I can remember a trip to Disney World with my brother and his family. All totaled we had four adults and nine children in our group. The ages of the kids ranged from almost three to fourteen. We went everywhere in a group, all thirteen of us. Every evening we ate at a different restaurant. Every morning we had a "Character Breakfast". It was a great trip! There were moments of course. I snapped at least once over a whining child and made some type of idiotic threat like "If that happens again, I will leave you at Space Mountain forever; or I will make you a permanent decoration on the Pirates of the Caribbean." Overall though, it was a good trip! I can remember all of us going into a nice steak restaurant in Epcot one evening. Our group was seated. Shortly after we were situated at our table, a table of two older couples called the waiter over and asked to be moved. My sister in law and I both noticed what happened. The kids were on their best behavior! We had a great dinner, lots of conversation and no spills. The two couples were seated next to another adult table. They spent their evening miserable. The table next to them was drunk, loud and obnoxious. Yea for poetic justice!
Now that I have told that story, I would not be honest if I didn't tell you that all is not perfect. "Mommy" was about three at the time, as I recall. We were at a banquet honoring my mother for her years of service to the church choir. "Mommy" was being particularly demanding and throwing mini temper tantrums. Because of the setting, I was being a little more tolerant of the behavior than usual and allowed it to continue until ....you guessed it, I snapped. I informed her that I had enough and we were going to the bathroom for a little chat. The next thing I knew, she flew into a full blown temper tantrum and screamed "NO, NOT THE BATHROOM!!!!" I was slightly horrified and vaguely remember fumbling around saying, "We are just going to the bathroom, I don't know what she is screaming about." Kids have their own poetic justice.
My real point is, engage your children. Don't dismiss them and occupy them with technology as young children and then wonder why they don't talk to you as young teenagers and adults. It is how you build your relationship with them. Besides that, they are pretty cool to get to know and you end up with millions of stories like mine!
Finally, I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day. Somewhere in your life you had or have a mom, whether she is spiritual, biological, adoptive or even just a good friend. I hope you remembered to tell those special ladies in your life, thank you and I love you!
Been REALLY busy the past few days. We baptized both of our grandchildren this past weekend. So, with family in town and a huge celebration at our house, well let's just say I had to put my stories on the back burner. Of course, family stories and legends have been flying around all weekend. I really need to keep a piece of paper handy to remember them all. Seven kids, 31 years of marriage - there are a million of them. At any rate, I asked "Mommy/Sake" what story she wanted me to tell today - this is her choice.
I may have mentioned a few times that my children are pretty creative. When "Calvin" was evaluated for kindergarten, they did an IQ test on him. I am not going to lie - it made me a little nervous. Maybe if we combined my IQ with Doc's we could keep up with "Calvin". Listen, they did not have to tell me it was high. I had already spent five years with him. But they did and it changed my viewpoint a little; kind of like when they tell you the square footage of your house and you suddenly know how much cleaning you have been doing.
"Calvin" is/was a challenge. Very creative. Very active. Very intelligent. His first grade teacher was amazing. She knew immediately what she was dealing with and worked very hard to challenge him each day rather than letting him challenge her! I kept in touch with all of the kids' teachers throughout school and this particular teacher kept in close contact with me. Double teaming him seemed like a good plan. There was that one time though, when I let my guard down.
"Calvin" came home from school one day and informed me that he needed to take his bunny costume to school for a play that they were doing. When "Calvin" and "Mommy" were two and four respectively, I had gotten them to take naps by promising to sew Bugs Bunny Halloween costumes for them as they napped. ( Don't judge me, bribery often works.) No problem. I got into the box and got the costume out with the bunny ears rather than the Bugs Bunny head and the felt carrot that went with it. I bagged it up and sent it to school without a second thought. I did forget to communicate with the teacher. I also lost track of the fact that I had sent it.
So, about two weeks later I received a call from the teacher asking me to please come and get the bunny suit. I asked when the play was and told her I would take it home after I came to the play. Yep, "What play?" I had been bamboozled! Apparently there was no play. "Calvin" would simply put on his bunny suit periodically and wear it in class. She tolerated it for a while and tried to accommodate his creativity and energy. The straw that broke the camel's back was when she had to retrieve the carrot from the light fixtures where it had flown.
Note to self: communicate and verify before complying with a child's request. Kids teach us to be so smart! I love you "Calvin". You too, "Mommy" for reminding me of this story!
It was not very often that "Doc" and I could get away for an evening. Going overnight anywhere without the tribe was highly unusual. Let's face it, if you could find someone willing to watch six energetic and creative kids the cost of paying one to three babysitters would be astronomical. If I were to be honest, and I will, there were days when I did not want to watch them!
It may be one of the reasons "Ninja" and I became friends and why I love her. She was crazy enough to take on that task!!! You just have to hang on to a friend like that!
I truly do not remember where we went but I do remember that she had the kids alone with her during the evening. How do you entertain six kids? Parking them in front of a video game was not an option. I did not allow those in the house. They couldn't play outside because it was dark. Here's an idea! Hide and Seek in the Dark. Sounds good right?
First we establish the rules. Actually there was only one rule. This is good - not a lot to remember in the heat of the game. The rule is: NO RUNNING! An excellent rule, especially since we have a beam right in the middle of our kitchen. They had a ball. I can only imagine the giggles and screams as they scared each other in the dark!
Until...... The lights were turned on and blood was found. One look at the "Blonde" told the whole story. As soon as the game started, she took off running and ran smack dab in the center of that kitchen beam. Of course, she continued on so as not to interrupt the game and more importantly, she did not want to get in trouble for not following the rules. I am sure the "Ninja" went through a quick moment of panic. "How do I tell my friend that I broke her child?" No worries. Remember, I know what my kids are capable of.
I need a little break from the heavier discussions.
Interesting - both "Mommy" and "Mini-Me" decided to have pictures of my grandchildren done on Saturday. Because she lives closer, I went with "Mini-Me" to lend an extra pair of hands. The memories came flooding back. Now I know I am aging because when my children were born, their hospital photos consisted of a blue or pink blanket depending on whether they were male or female and a quick photo that made them look like little monkeys because the picture was taken right after they got drops in their eyes. I don't care what anyone says, those pictures were not cute. But we bought them anyway and handed them out proudly didn't we?!
First official pictures were never taken until around six weeks. At that time photographers just didn't do that. Now, we like to get pictures in two weeks or less. Babies are posed in cute things like bowls and baskets and are often naked. A newborn without a diaper is cute and potentially messy. I am amazed at how the photos come out - and a little jealous.
So I went with my daughter to help. Wait - no one ever helped me!!!. Imagine this scenario. Six small children ages 6 months to 11 years. The 11 year old is a perfectionist and needs to look perfect. Oh yes, she wants to hold the "Surprise". As "Mommy" it is her entitlement. But wait, "Calvin" who is all energy and motion wants to hold the "Surprise". The "Surprise" is a boy and should be held by his brother, not a girl! "Mini-Me" and the "Blonde" are indifferent to the whole thing and "Pook" is not interested in not being muddy or unable to play for that period of time. So, I finally handle the dispute by giving in. "You will both have pictures taken holding the "Surprise"."
To some degree, you want them to be dressed nicely for pictures. That can be accomplished without too much fanfare. The girls are of course anxious to be "dolled up" and very cooperative. "Calvin" and "Pook" are placed in nice clothes but promptly become half naked and/or sloppy multiple times enroute to the studio. Thankfully at this point, the "Surprise" is somewhat compliant due to age or lack thereof.
"Doc" has often said that those group photos are more a statement about me than how beautiful our family is. The ability to corral six children, get them into dress clothes, get them to a studio without a fight or a black eye and then have them smile in a perfectly photogenic way is no small feat. By the way, I gave up on the perfect picture when "Calvin" was born. He was rough and tumble and if I waited for bruises and scrapes to go away we would never have had a photo of him. I also gave in on facial expressions - if that's what they want to look like for posterity, so be it. It is what it is.
All in all, we have some stunning family photos that were taken throughout the years. I would like to think that the family love always shined through. Others would say, I should have been a drill sergeant if I was able As for me, the kids looked great but I was always disheveled and near tears and definitely ready for a relaxing glass of wine when all was said and done.
What is it about small children that can reduce a mature adult into a blithering idiot? Seriously. With babies, grown ups can start talking in nonsense syllables within seconds! Or they talk in a ridiculous sing song pattern. I don't know. I have caught myself doing it once in a while with my new granddaughter. I worked really hard when my children were small to talk to them like they were real live human beings. I think I did a pretty good job of it. We did not use a lot of baby words. Actually, our biggest problems came when I used terms that were from my past. They absolutely "lost it" the first time they heard me refer to a television as a "boob tube" and an "idiot box". They always accused me of making up words and I often had to prove my case with a dictionary.
That isn't to say that I did not make up words. I have also found that small children alone and in packs can cause an adult to "snap". It just takes a pair of rolled eyeballs, or a "whatever" or too much noise or them saying your name over and over and over..... I know that every mother in the world has threatened to change her name from "mom" or "mommy" to anything! At any rate, it just takes one thing and "snap" you find yourself angry enough that you cannot complete an intelligent sentence! Made up words come out of your mouth, you stutter, you call people by the wrong names and even occasionally forget who you are. Rest assured that every child will remember every single incident like this. Mine still talk about those "moments" and they find great humor in it as adults.
Don't worry moms. God has a great sense of humor. I have personally witnessed the same phenomena happen to "Mommy" and "Mini Me". And you know what? I thoroughly enjoy watching it happen. There is a lot to be said for poetic justice!
So, I spent the weekend in Maryland for my granddaugther's third birthday party. I traveled alone with a five year old ( a friend's little boy) and my other granddaughter (also three). I used to travel alone with my own children all of the time. This weekend reminded me that it was a lot tougher than I remember! The trip became longer than when I travel alone. Stops at rest areas are automatically doubled with respect to time when you have children with you. But then again, I didn't have the special bathrooms that are in rest areas now for families. I carted a "potty chair" in my vehicle so I didn't have to stop at every rest area. Somehow I was never able to coordinate their bladders. How in God's name did I do it?!
I was always so busy as the general of my little army that I wasn't always able to cut loose and get silly with them. We went to one of those places with inflatable slides and jumping areas. Yes, I did and there is photographic proof! It was so much fun to play! The lesson in this for all of us - don't wait to be a grandmother to play! Do it with your own children and do it now! I wish I had done more playing as a parent. Remember - you cannot go back in time. There must be some balance that you can find between having fun and being the lady in charge. Maybe I did alright and just don't remember.
I did find that I can still handle it all, which makes me feel pretty good. This old bird still has some life left! It was fun watching my daughter handle all of the party arrangements. She is a natural! So, please forgive me, while I will still tell the story of "Sake" , I really think I need to change her moniker to "Mommy". I love spending time with her mother to mother and I really miss having her closer. Love you "Mommy"
Church has not always been central in my life, but I must admit that I have found amazing help there as a mother. Church as a center for raising your family is so important! Besides the guidance that I get, I have used God as a model for parenting. He is a loving Father. He gives us boundaries and rules to follow. He gives us free will and He disciplines us when necessary. See, the perfect model.
I have also found that God has a sense of humor. We had three priests at our marriage ceremony. During the service and the sermon we were told to bring forth a family. God knows me and therefore knows that I am an overachiever. I guess I really took that blessing seriously. So, we had one child. How do you explain to a little one that you love her so much you are going to have another? Two year olds can do advanced math you know. When you have one mom and two kids, that to her is division of time and attention. Little ones have trouble with the idea that your love actually multiplies. It is a miracle, but it does.
Suffice to say that when "Calvin" arrived, "Sake" was not happy about it. Her first struggle was over another person getting my attention. Her second struggle was over who was the parent. I could not convince her that I was in charge. I had to be very careful not to leave her alone or I was likely to find that she had taken "Calvin” out of his seat. I also learned not to react with a gasp. My point, no matter how much you prepare your oldest for the birth of their first sibling, it is a shock. Your oldest could react in any number of ways. Be patient, be loving, and set those boundaries. If you don't get a handle on it right away, you have the potential to create a monster and make life miserable for yourself, your family and everyone around you. Discipline is loving too.
So today, after spending a week with a new granddaughter, I went back in time to when her mother, “Sake” was born. I remember being really excited to be pregnant and a little surprised when at the end of nine months it was time to go to the hospital. She was due on Christmas Day and was the perfect child, not arriving on Christmas yet beating the end of the year deadline as a tax exemption! Oh yes, she was absolutely perfect in every way.
I am still shocked that she was born without incident, but I guess that is why God made doctors. We did all of the childbirth classes. I am a nurse, I went to class and was still unprepared for what was going on. “Doc” failed miserably. In fact, I made him retake the class when “Calvin” was expected. Have I told you that I hate peanut butter? Well, in our “Go” bag he packed peanut butter cups for himself. He ate them and breathed them in my face during labor! Oh yes, the breathing part. We were doing stage one breathing during transition. Thank God for epidurals! All the medical training in the world did not prepare us for this moment!
Sometimes I have a hard time relating to what my girls have experienced with their pregnancies. There is a lot more testing done during the nine months now. We never had an ultrasound unless something might be wrong. I am sure my mother felt the same way about me. Back in the dark ages when I was born, moms were put into a “twilight” sleep and woke up with a baby and dads were in waiting rooms not delivery rooms. My girls were very nauseous throughout their pregnancies. I may have had a few episodes, but for the most part I felt great. My weight gain was reasonable. My girls made me look like I was carrying a basketball in front of me. My boys gave me a big butt and thunder thighs.
I wasn’t the greatest baby sitter as a teenager, I am not sure why I thought I might be qualified to be a mother, but as always I jumped in with everything I had. My best advice to brand new mothers is to relax. They are little but sturdy. I listened as my girls were given advice by nurses on breastfeeding, car seats, bathing, etc. All good information, but you need to sift through it and do what feels comfortable for you. Breastfeeding is not for everyone. I encourage you to give it a try. It does give you a closeness to your child that is very special. Believe me though, your child is able to thrive on formula too. It is more about your contact with the child than anything else. Don’t let people guilt you into what they think you ought to do.
Get your rest! Those night time feedings can mess with you. I am not a person who enjoys being awakened in the middle of the night. “Doc” will vouch for me on that. Make sure your husband participates in those night time moments. “Doc” was great about getting up, cuddling the babies, changing them and then bringing them to me. Both of you need to bond with your baby. My biggest advice: Put the baby to bed in his or her own crib in a separate room. If you don’t you will be the one waking up every time the baby moves!
I still smile when I think about how it felt to become a mom. Just remember, the best thing you can do for you and your new baby is to love.
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend
The above description seems pretty mundane when I look at it. But, I guess that is me in a nutshell – a mundane description of the best that life has to offer.
Fifty Six plus years ago, I decided to be born. My parents had a little to do with that too. My life journey has been boring, exciting, fulfilling, frustrating, and heartbreaking at times. Nothing special – I am not an Olympic Athlete or a movie star or a model. I am just me – I could be you. I was blessed to have the opportunity to be a “stay at home” mom. I gladly gave up (or wasted as some have told me) my short nursing career. Five years working towards a Bachelors Degree in Nursing ended with me being a full time mom. See, when I do things, I generally put everything I have into it.
I would like to think that I have raised six of the most amazing people in the world. They each challenged me in their own way. I have often thought of myself as a bit of a schizophrenic in raising them – I had to be six different people because they were six individuals with unique needs. The seventh child was “adopted” by our family as a teenager. If you think parenting adult children is easier than the little ones you could not be more wrong! I do more parenting now than I did when they were toddlers!
I started this blog with the hope that I can share stories, information, and support to anyone who is parenting. By telling you about my journey, past and present you may start to believe that you are not completely crazy! Being a mom is the toughest job in the world and one of the most important! It is also one job that is all “on the job” training, sleepless nights, no pay, no vacations. Who wouldn’t want the job?! It is also the most rewarding job you may ever have from start to finish!
Let the “momsense” begin…
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!