Thursday, February 20, 2014


I love that my husband takes the time to play with the kids.

I love that, right now, Jay is on the floor in the living room, playing Lincoln Logs.

I love that he does dishes, almost every night.

I love that we eat supper together as a family. Every night that we are in the same town.

I love that he has never once complained about having to get the kids ready for school the mornings I work.

I love that we have to tell three of our kids to put their books down.

I love that Lainie is reading 3rd and 4th grade level books.

I love that we have more than 1,100 books in our house. Truly. I counted.

I love that my kids know how to play together without fighting.

I love that Jay and I still can't look at each other while the kids are throwing fits, because we will start laughing if we make eye contact.

But I love that we keep our mean parent faces on, so the kids know we are serious. Even if their fits are ridiculous.

I love that, because of the crazy stuff our family has thrown at us, we appreciate every day we get with them.

I love that we know God will provide, because again and again He has given us just enough to get by.

I love that we have friends that are family to us.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pins and Needles


The first post seizure fever is the worst. At least for a kid with febrile seizures.

Or maybe just for her parents.

The fear is huge. Afraid to leave her alone. Wondering if, in the next second, she will stop talking and start shaking. Watching her eyes twitch. 

Must cool her off. But not too fast. Ibuprofen. Iced Gatorade. A tepid bath. "I'm sorry you are cold and I'm making you colder, but your body is too hot."

The lost independence, at least for now. The lost privacy. "No, I can't leave you alone in the bath." "Sorry, hon, you need to sleep in our room tonight."

The wondering. What's causing this fever? Do I take her in now? Can we keep the fever down, if we can get it down, throughout the night? Is it safe for me to still leave for an hour? Is my phone charged? Where is the Diastat?

Ah, no sleep tonight.

And trying to strike the balance between "God, it is in your hands." and doing my job to be her protector, all the while knowing He is the real Protector, of us both.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tricks of the Trade: Mama's Milk

We've almost made it. It's been a struggle, but we've almost made it twelve months of breastfeeding.

This is a big deal to me. With Katie we lasted six months. Maggie, not much more than that. Lainie and Natalie, I'm thinking it was maybe 9?

So what's the difference? Why were we able to nurse the full twelve-months as recommended by every pediatrician you'll meet? I have better tricks in my tool box this time around.

1. I have a better attitude. I didn't feel like as much of a failure when we had to start supplementing with formula. I didn't feel like it was an all-or-nothing situation. This time around, I realized that the babycould still benefit from the breastmilk while getting the quantity he needed with the formula.

2. I have better nutrition. When my supply started dwindling, the first thing I did was start eating and drinking more. (It would have been better if I would have rested more too, but that didn't happen.) I ate at least 300 calories more daily. I made sure those calories had calcium, protein and fat. As someone who struggles to take in 1200 calories in an average 24 hours, that was a big deal. And I saw the difference in not only the quantity but also the quality (fat content) of the milk.

I have to thank one of Jay's friends for this one. She's the one who mentioned not being able to eat a milkshake while breastfeeding because it would make her produce extra milk and feel so engorged. That's not a bad thing for someone who struggles with making enough.

3. I have better tools. I started the fenugreek and blessed thistle supplements as soon as I started back to work. I bought Mother's Milk tea, which really had an immediate boost on my milk supply.

4. I had better support. There were days, when I wasn't scheduled to work, that my number one priority was nursing John or pumping every two hours. And not only would Jay manage other stuff for me while I did that, but K, M, L, & N were great at being my go-fers while I sat and fed our little guy. While at work, I initially was pumping five times a shift, or about every two hours. It's since slowly dwindled to twice a shift, but that was more my doing and not a reflection on my employer. My co-workers have never once complained (that I've heard) about watching my patients while I go pump. And our hospital has multiple places we can go for privacy while pumping.

5. I had better hours. For my first five months back to work, I would pump while at work, and pretty much sleep-or-feed during my sleeping days. Still now, when I have a weekend shift, John plays downstairs with his siblings until he gets fussy or hungry or tired. Then, they bring him up to me, wake him up, I feed him, then someone comes up and gets him and he goes back downstairs to play. Yes, I feel like an open dairy bar on those days, but it's working.

I commend those who can breastfeed exclusively for twelve months or more. Hell, I'm even a bit jealous of that ability. But I'm very thankful for the tricks that have allowed me to nurse our little guy for this long.

Hopefully, I will get to pass on these tricks of the trade to other moms who are just starting out.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

11 months

This little guy is almost a year old.
Hard to believe.
I still love picking out the boy clothes. Especially the hats.
I love watching him experiencing the world around him. Like first snows.
I love watching his sisters love on him. Truly, he never lacks for attention.
I love his need for his mama. And his daddy.
I love our little family. And I love him.


Two years ago about this time, we miscarried.

There is a tiny part of me that thinks about what could have been.

But the rest of me knows, this was God's plan all along.

And what a glorious plan it was.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Raising the Bar

There is a family in our little town with five kids, the youngest of which is now 4th or 5th grade. A few years back, when we just had three, I commented how that mom just seems to really know what she is doing, commending the behavior of her kids and how happy they seem. The comment I heard back: "Oh, are you kdiding?! Those kids are just out of control! They can't manage five children!"

I was really shocked by this commentary, considering that these five little ones are hard-working, sweet, respectful, happy, smart, well-adjusted kids and young people. But, maybe the commentator knew something I didn't?

Then, more recently, I was part of a conversation celebrating the fifth addition to another family in our little town. The comment I heard that time was "I don't know why they thought they could have a fifth kid. That fourth one is just out of control. He can't even sit still during church or story hour. They need to stop having more until they learn how to parent." Now, that "fourth one" was a two-year-old boy at the time. What two-year-old boy do you know can sit still during an hour church service or a half-hour story hour?

So, comments like these get me to wondering, do people expect more from parents of big families? Are we supposed to keep our kids walking the straight-and-narrow at all times? Are we expected to keep a one-on-one level of supervision 24-7, more than say a mom of two or three kids?

Some days it seems that way. The looks I get in the stores are disheartening, when I'm crazy enough to just run in with five kids in tow. My children do not run rampant. If they do get a little stirred up, I try reeeeallly hard to set limits to their behavior and enforce those limits. But I still get the looks and the comments, as if I am the one who "can't manage five children" or need to "stop having more until they learn how to parent."

I get The Look if my four-year-old starts to fight with my seven-year-old. I get The Look if the four-year-old attempts to throw a fit to get what she wants. I get The Look if I tell my pre-teen starts to pout because I said no to a purchase. And, worst to me, I get The Look if I quietly, sternly verbally discipline my child or ignore the behavior to not reward it with attention or if I take them to the car and give up the excursion because I know my kid is about to melt. down.

In other words, I get The Look (and sometimes the comments) if I do anything. Or nothing.

I don't think my child is behaving any worse (or better) than any other kid her age. Her behavior is age-appropriate and shows that she is stretching her wings, testing her limits, developing her independence, and learning right from wrong. Kids are going to do this. And parents need to respond appropriately.

Should my kids be expected to behave better, should their bar be set higher, because there are five of them? Should I (and Jay and other parents of large families) be expected to CONTROL more than a parent with one or two kids to guide and supervise? I don't think that is fair. To them. Or to us.

But, I tell you this. I will put up with The Looks and comments and whatever derogatory poo slung our way regarding our brood of five. We may have the struggles of a larger family, but we also have the love, the friendship, the tight bonds, the sibling connects of a large family. Five times the giggles. Five times the hugs. Five times the love. And that's worth putting up with whatever ugly you-stranger-lady wants to dish out.