When the fourth baby arrives…

When your fourth baby arrives you think you know how to be a “good” mom and you think you are a “pro”.

kids in basket

When your fourth baby comes out a girl (after three boys), prepare yourself for some serious shock, surprise, denial, depression and acceptance.

When you have breastfed three other children for a total of 6 1/2 years you SHOULD know a lot of things about breastfeeding when your fourth baby comes.

When your fourth baby doesn’t cry or fuss you celebrate that you have the “perfect baby”, the fourth baby is a charm!

checkers

When your fourth baby is a “good sleeper” you celebrate.  You are happy to get a few consecutive hours of sleep.  You enjoy the quality time with your other children during those naptimes.

When your fourth baby doesn’t gain any weight you start to worry…

Nola Mae 1 wk weight

We knew something was wrong when Nola Mae was about five or six weeks old.  I was getting frequent weights checks at different places.  There were different weights on the scales at the clinic, with my midwives and at baby group.  We didn’t worry too much because there would be differences in those scales.   Sandy, my lactation consultant, was concerned because none of the scales were showing any weight gain.  Which led me to start seeing her regularly for about a month at the hospital.  (I wrote about Sandy & my struggles with breastfeeding my 1st baby, click here to read that story.)

Tandem breastfeeding

Since I was tandem nursing Henry and Nola Mae I was being careful not to breastfeed Henry for long periods of time or regularly.   I heard my family’s comments and concerns that if I tandem nursed Nola Mae wouldn’t get enough.

For a week I kept track of when both of them would breastfeed and I continued to distract Henry when he would request to “nuk” and I would make sure Nola Mae nursed on each side.  It was very interesting to see I was spending at least seven hours each day breastfeeding and very frequently and there was hardly any weight gained.

I did the weight test to see how much milk Nola Mae was getting in a typical feeding.  First you weigh the baby, nurse for a “normal” feeding, then weigh the baby again.  With the very accurate scale that my lactation consultant has we found out that Nola Mae’s total intake of breast milk was 1.8 ounces in a 15 minute latch.   This was very bad news!  Where did my milk go?

Sandy suggested I take fenugreek.  I went straight to the Nutrition Center in Waupaca and bought a bottle (without looking at the price), opened it in the car and took my first capsule at 11:30 AM.  At 4:30 PM my milk had arrived and I was feeling very “full”.

Side note:  I NEVER purchase anything EVER without looking at the price, until I had this bottle in my hand.  I didn’t really care how much this bottle would cost me.  I needed to make more milk for my baby!   I pay attention to everything I spend my money on.  I don’t always remember birth dates but I can tell you how much I paid, almost to the cent, for big and small purchases/expenses.   I purchased a total of three bottles of the fenugreek and one bottle of Motherlove:  More Milk Plus (one bottle of this was given to me).   I can’t tell you how much that cost.  Now that I am writing about this I was interested in knowing how much I spent to get my milk to return.  Total spent on the fenugreek and the More Milk Plus – $95.  The cost of weigh-in/consults with lactation consultant, I don’t know this amount.  Our insurance doesn’t pay for the consults, so whatever that cost us I have no idea! 

I wanted to compare my way of getting my milk back to the cost of formula feeding a baby.   I did a quick search on the estimated cost of formula feeding for one year, it’s somewhere around $1,138 – $1,188 plus bottle cost. Also, additional health care services cost the managed care health system between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant during the first year of life.

I learned there are two things in this world that I don’t care how much they cost – fenugreek and a skidsteer.   (I was able to convince Jack to stop looking and thinking about the price tags on skidsteers, because he bought me one this summer!)

Back to my story…

I spent the next four days worried, praying, and keeping track of everything.  I also was relived that we were figuring things out.

I had the fenugreek and it was starting to work.  I am very thankful because that isn’t always the case with mothers who are unable to produce enough milk for their baby.

I continued to keep track of her feedings.  I started to realize from my notes that shortly after I sat down to breastfeed Nola Mae all hell would break loose in our house with the older boys.  I would put down my “happy-sleepy” baby and take care of what was needed.  Sometimes it was one of the boys sneaking food out of the pantry (guess who!) just before a meal, or someone was hurt, or someone needed wiping, or fighting started between the boys, just to name a few events that interrupted Nola Mae’s feedings.  When I went back to my baby to finish feeding her, I would find her sleeping.  Never wake a sleeping baby, right?  I should have because I was loosing my milk.

sewing room ready to sew

All this time when she wasn’t getting much milk she wasn’t making that wonderful swallowing noise that babies do when they drink.  How did I miss that?  I started to realize that all this time when she would have a wet diaper it wasn’t full and her BMs weren’t so big.  How did I miss that?  I started to realized that all this time she was sleeping, being one of my happiest babies that maybe she is a very easy-going baby that rarely complained about being hungry.  I was starving her!

At one of my appointments with Sandy, she  said, “Nola Mae when you are the fourth baby you have to speak up!  That means you may have to cry a little.”

I feel blessed to have the four children in my family that I always dreamed of having.  I never expected it to be so difficult.  Four children really put me over the edge during that first year!  And there are many days where life isn’t “easy” for me.  Each of our children teach us many different things throughout our parenting journey.  I feel as though Nola Mae taught me a few things during her first year of life.  I often wonder what kinds of things my fourth baby will teach me in the future.

It has been over a year since I started writing this post, it has been a difficult topic to write and think about.  I will always wonder in my heart,  “what if I would have nursed Henry more often would I have lost my milk?”,  “would Nola Mae’s weight issues been blamed on Henry and our tandem nursing?”, and “would we have experienced this trouble if I nursed Henry and Nola Mae all the time?”  I have healed a little and come to terms with how rough our first year with four children really was.

I found this in my journal notes.   I know a lot of breastfeeding mothers have moments like this but it was really hard for me to accept these feelings and I am surprised I even wrote this down.  “A couple of weeks ago I was ready to quit breastfeeding.  I have a friend who formula feeds and she has such a chunky baby.  Formula fed babies aren’t the only ones that are chunky!   I have a cousin who exclusively breastfeeds her very beautiful chunky baby.   I want some of that chunk on mine!  The fenugreek that I started taking last Thursday is working.   Everyone I talk to about it was impressed that I got such quick results.   My milk is coming back and Nola Mae gained 5 oz. in four days (1 oz./day is “standard”).  I will get the next weight check next Thursday and it seems too long for me to wait. 

All I want to do is nurse her constantly and at the same time I don’t want to be tied down to nursing her and be the sole person responsible for her health and growth.  I have gone back to taking the postpartum supplements because I have been having a lot of moments of ups and downs and not much in the middle. 

It hit me this past weekend that I am in over my head with four kids. Henry was tired, impatient, unreasonable (like any normal tired 3 yr old) and crying, instead of being loving and kind and understanding I screamed at him.  It was horrible!  That was one of my worst moments as a mother.  The root cause I think is from me feeling like a horrible mother who can’t feed her baby my heart is not here.  I was still out of patience that night at bedtime.  Robbie may have been able to tell because he kind of took over with Henry by reading to him and asking him to cuddle with him.  Later I thanked Robbie for being a great big brother and helper to me and he said “well, you’re a great mom.” 

I saw my midwife on Wednesday night.  Jack came home and I left to pick up the postpartum supplements.  When I got to her office she had a lemonade iced tea waiting for me and asked me to stay and talk to her.   I stayed an hour! It was wonderful to talk to her. My week has gotten better. 

I spent the afternoon at the beach with my close friend, Kat.  I didn’t get much deep conversations done because of watching each other kids in the water and visiting with other moms.  But it was nice to be out in the fresh air, watching the boys having so much fun.” 

Nola Mae is still “smaller” than some children her age but she is just as healthy and smart as any 17 month old child.

Nola Mae Watermelon

A great read and a salute to all mothers who do their best every day:    http://ouradoptionfaithwalk.blogspot.com/2013/08/world-breastfeeding-week-salute.html

My empty nest

Empty nest refers to when the last child in the family leaves the home. I am feeling a little bit of those symptoms with the start of school right around the corner.

My almost 10-year-old will be going to 4th grade.

photos Robbie

My 8-year-old will be going to 2nd grade.

rain charlies

My 4-year-old will be going to 4-year-old Kindergarten, two full days/week.

henry sitting on fence post

We have been having a pretty good summer.  Better than I expected it to ever be.  The summer has gone by very quickly for me with a few bad/stressful days here and there.  (Exactly what you would expect if you lived in my house.)  This is the first summer that homeschooling has crossed my mind, for just a few minutes.

I thought of “empty nest” because everyone has been asking me, “What are you and Nola Mae going to do when Henry is in school?”   As if Henry was leaving us to go to college.   My first thought is, “I will miss him like crazy!  Thankfully, 4K is only two days a week!”

He is my shadow.  He is the most independent 4-year-old I have ever had.  He is my entertainment with his stories and ideas.  He is my helper in the kitchen and in the garden.  He is my ironing dude in my sewing room.  He is my spy/extra eyes on the older boys.  He is my biking partner and my skiing buddy.  He is Nola Mae’s best friend and her protector.  She is his shadow.  We will miss him!

 Henry on fence post

My friends that have gone through empty nest have talked about how rotten their teenagers were before they actually left.  In a way, making it a little easier to say good-bye.

Since I have been telling people I am not looking forward to the start of the school year because we have had such a good summer.  Henry has turned into a very mischievous and rotten boy.  He has got me thinking things like “I am going to be thankful for school start!” or “The chickens aren’t going to miss him, that is for sure!”  or “I hope he doesn’t say that word at school!” or “Should I warn his teacher about…?”  or “I am going to enjoy my clean house on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Lately, Henry is:

The snack sneaker – let’s just say, he stinks at hiding the evidence.

The neighborhood social butterfly – many times this summer he has gone to our neighbor’s house without me knowing.  One day, I thought he was in the wood shop with Jack.  When I went to see how that was going, he never made it to the wood shop, and I found him coming up the path in the woods.

henry blackberries

The money hoarder/thief – Jack was cleaning in the toy room and found my missing piano money and the video camera under the bed.   I am still on the look out for my zipper bag that I keep my checkbook in.  Henry found Charlie’s zipper money bag that had $15 of bills in it and some change.  I asked him to give it all to Charlie.  He did, but later took the bills out and put them in his pocket.  We didn’t know this happened until a couple of days later.  I had no clue what shorts he was wearing.  It took me about three days to find that money.

The boy who disappears – the scariest thing for me is I am wondering what kind of mess he has created or what kind of food is he eating.

Henry running

The boy who wants to always do it his way, always with the intention of being helpful –  First story:  I had Charlie’s birthday cake up high on a table that Nola Mae doesn’t usually climb on and I made that clear to everyone.  It just happened that she climbed on that table later on in the day and I freaked out because she could have knocked the cake off the table.  Later on, without me noticing, Henry carried the cake container into the toy room and put it on the bed.   When it was getting close to cake time Henry went to get the cake, bumped his hand on the door frame and dropped the cake container on its side.   Second story:  I found my 2014 license plate sticker sticking to my car door.  When I asked Henry why, his response was that he thought it needed to be moved where I could see it better.

The egg collector – After many many times of me telling him he is not allowed in the chicken coop without me, he still is going in there to collect eggs.  Sometimes I find eggs broken on the ground on the way to the chicken coop, sometimes eggs just appear in the kitchen and sometimes I notice him coming into the house with eggs.

The chicken bully – First story:   Henry’s most recent apology when we were closing the chicken coop up for the night…”Sorry chickens for being mean to you!”

Me:  Oh?  How were you doing that?

Henry:  I was hurting them with a bat.

Me:  I bet that really hurt them!

Henry:  I just wanted some meat from them.

Second story:  One day when I was looking for Henry (first places to look are the garage, garden, the chicken coop, and then the neighbor’s).  I found him in the chicken coop.  He was talking to someone.  I waited outside the door and listened.  He was saying, “You’re not smart.  You’re not smart.  You are smart.  You’re not smart.  You are smart!”  Then he tried to open the door.  The door knob sometimes sticks.  That is when I grabbed it and held it closed.  Secretly, I wanted him to get a little worried about getting trapped in the chicken coop, so he would be afraid to go in there without me.  Because me just telling him he can’t go in there without me doesn’t work!   He tried the door again and said, “I guess it’s locked.”  I heard him doing a little hard work kind of grunting, so I peaked through the window and saw that he was climbing the 3 foot rock wall to the chicken coop window – with three eggs in his shirt and hands.  He made it out the window without breaking any eggs.

The boy who doesn’t listen – see examples in all the above stories.

Henry really is my sweetheart and I will miss him and his teachers will love him.

Henry smile

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

My days with four kids are very busy and stressful for me right now.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed this summer.  Every week I am tempted to quit my weekly blog posts and a few other things.

I am not getting much sleep which causes me to be crabby and not motivated.   Nola Mae is not to blame, she is a great sleeper!  I stay up late because it is the only time I have some peace.  I don’t want to go to bed once our house is quiet.  I want to sew, work in the garden, blog or just sit at the computer and drink my water (wishing it was a cold dark beer).  I want to blog because it helps me sort out my thoughts and helps me come up with solutions to my troubles.  When I sit here at the computer with a blank blog post my mind is blank or I am only thinking of the stressful days and frustrating moments that no one wants to hear about.

Many people have asked me how my summer is going and I really don’t know how to answer this simple question without a complicated answer.  I have been honest with a few people (the ones who really care to know the real answer) and the others who are just asking for the sake of  “small talk” get the simple answer of “our summer is going well.”

The honest answers:

This summer is a rough one.

This is one of my worst summers.

The horrible things I have done:

I signed the boys up for the longest summer school sessions at the beginning and at the end of the summer.

I paid $25 to have  1/2 hour of peace for eight days, by signing Henry up for swimming lessons.  And I loved it.  Thankfully, Henry loved swimming lessons.

I almost starved my nursing baby. (I am working on a blog post about this.  I am not sure when and if it will ever get done.)

I continue to let the older boys rot their brains with computer games during the day.

I am in a food funk and let them have chips and cheese dip for lunch one day, smoothies another, and just fruit and peanut butter toast another day.  These are just the meals that I can remember that I slacked on.

We have gone out to eat way too often this summer.  And I have stopped caring how much a meal costs for our family to eat out.  And I can’t wait until the next time we eat out or Jack brings home dinner.

I have no patience and do a lot of screaming (and swearing).

I have told the boys that some parents hit their kids when they misbehave and some days I want to.

I wish we could go to the beach every day.  We don’t because it is too much work to get out of the yard.

I look forward to my few nights out this summer with my book club and the one night that has been planned for me to go out to eat with other moms.

There have been days we only went outside for less than an hour.  Maybe this is because it has been too hot outside.  I hate the heat and wish for snow to come soon.

I admitted to a friend recently that I am looking forward to school starting.  I haven’t started counting down the days until September 4th, yet.

None of these things I am proud of.  At the end of each day I feel like a horrible mother and hope that tomorrow will be a better day.  And next summer will be better.

Until things improve in my life I will be doing the bare minimum on my weekly blog posts.   My weekly posts may have a different layout to them.   I hope I will be able to capture some good photos to remember these days while my children are small and still at home.   I know these days should be cherished.

I am certain that some day when all my kids are living somewhere else and I have more peace and quiet than I will know what to do with.  I will wish for a day of Henry screaming, Charlie’s silliness, Robbie’s talk of robots & his inventions, fighting brothers, wrestling boys, boys climbing on the cupboards, spilled milk at every meal, random balls being thrown through the kitchen, sword fighting in my sewing room, pillow fights in my bedroom, Legos on the floor, flowers, corn and milo stalks being cut off because “me don’t like them”, star wars games blaring from the computer, Harry Potter books on CD blaring throughout the house and boys to hug.

Mother’s Day 2012

This year’s Mother’s Day was the best so far. I think I say this every year.

I slept in and needed to because I was recovering from the flu that started early Friday morning and lasted into the night on Saturday. Nothing like having two days wasted that you can’t get back. I shouldn’t complain too much about this because I just learned that a friend has been recovering from pneumonia and after 5 weeks she was able to go for her daily run on Mother’s day for the first time.  Nola Mae is five weeks old already!  Some days it feels like just yesterday she was born and some days it seems much longer.

When I finally woke up I found a very clean house, pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast. Jack and the boys did all the cooking and cleaning for the whole day.

Henry helped me plant three rows of onions. Robbie told me stories of inventions he wants to make and plans he has with his cousin Michael. Charlie had wonderful manners and behavior, he pointed out to me in the afternoon that he hasn’t been sent to his room all day long.

At school Charlie wrote this:

And Robbie wrote this:

In the afternoon we went to Keller Lake, one of my favorite spots. Usually we have this entire park all to ourselves. There were at least 20 other people there. I guess this park really isn’t our little secret.

The boys climbed on these rocks, watched the fish and tried to catch them with their hands.

I look at this picture and I am still having a hard time believing that I am a Mama to four children.  Could I still be dreaming?

25 Rules for mothers with sons

I found this list “25 Rules for Moms with Sons” post on someone’s blog and fell in love with it.  (click here to see orignal post)

I was touched and inspired by this list that I had to share it on my blog.  I hope that many moms with sons find this and read it (with a tissue).

Enjoy!

25 Rules for Moms with Sons

1. Teach him the words for how he feels. Your son will scream out of frustration and hide out of embarrassment.  He’ll cry from fear and bite out of excitement.  Let his body move by the emotion, but also explain to him what the emotion is and the appropriate response to that emotion for future reference.  Point out other people who are feeling the same thing and compare how they are showing that emotion.  Talk him through your emotions so that someday when he is grown, he will know the difference between angry and embarrassed; between disappointment and grief.

2. Be a cheerleader for his life There is no doubt that you are the loudest person in the stands at his t-ball games.  There is no doubt that he will tell you to “stop, mom” when you sing along to his garage band’s lyrics.  There is no doubt that he will get red-faced when you show his prom date his pictures from boy scouts.  There is no doubt that he is not telling his prom date about your blog where you’ve been bragging about his life from his first time on the potty to the citizenship award he won in ninth grade.  He will tell you to stop.  He will say he’s embarrassed.  But he will know that there is at least one person that is always rooting for him.

3. Teach him how to do laundry ..and load the dishwasher, and iron a shirt.  He may not always choose to do it.  He may not ever have to do it.  But someday his wife will thank you.

4. Read to him and read with him. Emilie Buchwald said, “Children become readers on the laps of their parents.”  Offer your son the opportunity to learn new things, believe in pretend places, and imagine bigger possibilities through books.  Let him see you reading…reading the paper, reading novels, reading magazine articles.  Help him understand that writing words down is a way to be present forever.  Writers are the transcribers of history and memories.  They keep a record of how we lived at that time; what we thought was interesting; how we spoke to each other; what was important.  And Readers help preserve and pass along those memories.

5. Encourage him to dance. Dance, rhythm, and music are cultural universals.  No matter where you go, no matter who you meet – they have some form of the three.  It doesn’t have to be good. Just encourage your son that when he feels it, it’s perfectly fine to go ahead and bust a move.

6. Make sure he has examples of good men who are powerful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity. The examples of men with big muscles and a uniform (like Batman and LaMarr Woodley) will surround your son from birth.  But make sure he also knows about men who kick a$s because of their brains (Albert Einstein), and their pen (Mark Twain), and their words (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and their determination (Team Hoyt), and their ideas (The Wright Brothers), and their integrity (Officer Frank Shankwitz), and fearlessness (Neil Armstrong), and their ability to keep their mouths closed when everyone else is screaming (Jackie Robinson).

7. Make sure he has examples of women who are beautiful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity The examples of traditionally beautiful women (like Daphne Blake, Princess Jasmine, and Britney Spears) will surround your son from birth.  But make sure he knows about women who are beautiful from the inside out because of their brains (Madame Marie Curie), and their pen (Harper Lee), and their words (Eleanor Roosevelt), and their determination (Anne Sullivan), and their ideas (Oprah Winfrey), and their integrity (Miep Gies), and fearlessness (Ameila Earhart), and their ability to open their mouths and take a stand when everyone else is silent (Aung San Suu Kyi).

8. Be an example of a beautiful woman with brains, determination, and integrity. You already are all of those things.  If you ever fear that you are somehow incapable of doing anything – remember this:  If you have done any of the following:  a) grew life b) impossibly and inconceivably got it out of your body c) taken care of a newborn d) made a pain go away with a kiss e) taught someone to read f) taught a toddler to eat with a utensil g) cleaned up diarrhea without gagging h) loved a child enough to be willing to give your life for them (regardless if they are your own) or i) found a way to be strong when that child is suffering...you are a superhero.  do not doubt yourself for one second.  Seriously.

9. Teach him to have manners because its nice.  and it will make the world a little better of a place.

10. Give him something to believe in Because someday he will be afraid, or nervous, or heartbroken, or lost, or just need you, and you won’t be able to be there.  Give him something to turn to when it feels like he is alone, so that he knows that he will never be alone; never, never, never.

11. Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentle like with babies, and flowers, and animals, and other people’s feelings.

12. Let him ruin his clothes Resolve to be cool about dirty and ruined clothes.  You’ll be fighting a losing battle if you get upset every time he ruins another piece of clothing. Don’t waste your energy being angry about something inevitable.  Boys tend to learn by destroying, jumping, spilling, falling, and making impossible messes.  Dirty, ruined clothes are just par for the course.

13. Learn how to throw a football or how to use a hockey stick, or read music, or draw panda bears (or in my case alpacas), or the names of different train engines, or learn to speak Elvish, or recognize the difference between Gryffindor and Slytherin, or the lyrics to his favorite song.  Be in his life, not as an observer but as an active participant.

14. Go outside with him turn off the television, unplug the video games, put your cellphone on the charger, even put your camera away.  Just go outside and follow him around.  Watch his face, explore his world, and let him ask questions.  It’s like magic.

15. Let him lose Losing sucks.  Everybody isn’t always a winner.  Even if you want to say, “You’re a winner because you tried,” don’t.  He doesn’t feel like a winner, he feels sad and crappy and disappointed. And that’s a good thing, because sometimes life also sucks, no matter how hard (as moms) we try to make it not suck for our kids.  This practice will do him good later when he loses again (and again, and again, and again, and again…..) Instead make sure he understands that – sometimes you win – sometimes you lose. But that doesn’t mean you ever give up.

Source: None via Emma on Pinterest

16. Give him opportunities to help others There is a big difference in giving someone the opportunity to help and forcing someone to help.  Giving the opportunity lights a flame in the heart and once the help is done the flame shines brighter and asks for more opportunities.  Be an example of helping others in your own actions and the way your family helps each other and helps others together.

17. Remind him that practice makes perfect. This doesn’t just apply to performance-based activities (like sports and music) but also applies to everything in life.  You become a better writer by writing.  You become a better listener by listening.  You become better speaker by speaking.  Show your son this when he is just young enough to understand (that means from birth, folks – they are making sense of the world as soon as they arrive), practice trick-or-treating at your own front door before the real thing.  Practice how you will walk through airport security before a trip.  Practice how you order your own food from the fast food cashier. Practice, practice, practice.

18. Answer him when he asks, “Why?” Answer him, or search for the answer together.  Show him the places to look for the answers (like his dad, or grandparents, or his aunts/uncles, or his books, or valid internet searches).  Pose the question to him so he can begin thinking about answers himself.  Someday, when he needs to ask questions he’s too embarrassed to ask you – he’ll know where to go to find the right answers.

19. Always carry band-aids and wipes on you. especially the wipes.

20. Let his dad teach him how to do things …without interrupting about how to do it the ‘right way.’  If you let his dad show and teach and discover with your son while he is growing up, some day down the road (after a short period of your son believing his dad knows nothing), he will come to the realization that his dad knows everything. You will always be his mother, but in his grown-up man heart and mind, his dad will know the answers.  And this will be how, when your son is too busy with life to call and chat with his mom,  you will stay connected to what is happening in his life.  Because he will call his dad for answers, and his dad will secretly come and ask you.

21. Give him something to release his energy drums, a pen, a punching bag, wide open space, water, a dog.  Give him something to go crazy with – or he will use your stuff.  and then you’ll be sorry.

22. Build him forts Forts have the ability to make everyday normal stuff into magic.  Throw the couch cushions, a couple blankets, and some clothespins and you can transform your living room into the cave of wonders.  For the rest of his life, he’ll be grateful to know that everyday normal stuff has the potential to be magical.

Source: None via Tabitha on Pinterest

23. Take him to new places Because it will make his brain and his heart open up wider, and the ideas and questions and memories will rush in.

Source: None via Anne on Pinterest

24. Kiss him Any mother of sons will tell you that little boys are so loving and sweet.  They can be harsh and wild and destructive during most of the day.  But there are these moments when they are so kind and sensitive and tender.  So much so that it can cause you to look around at the inward, reserved grown men in your life and think, ‘what happens in between that made you lose that?’  Let’s try to stop the cycle by kissing them when they’re loving and kissing them even more when they’re wild. Kissing them when they’re 2 months and kissing them when they’re 16 years old. You’re the mom – you can go ahead and kiss him no matter how big he gets – and make sure he knows it.   p.s. (this one is just as important for dad’s too).

25. Be home base You are home to him.  When he learns to walk, he will wobble a few feet away from you and then come back, then wobble away a little farther and then come back.  When he tries something new, he will look for your proud smile.  When he learns to read, he will repeat the same book to you twenty times in a row, because you’re the only one who will listen that many times.  When he plays his sport, he will search for your face in the stands.  When he is sick, he will call you.  When he really messes up, he will call you.  When he is grown and strong and tough and big and he feels like crying, he will come to you; because a man can cry in front of his mother without feeling self-conscious.  Even when he grows up and has a new woman in his life and gets a new home, you are still his mother; home base, the ever constant, like the sun.  Know that in your heart and everything else will fall into place.

Naughty People

Naughty People

Recently, Robbie asked if someone would steal a car with kids in it while the parents were paying for their gas.

I had to do some quick thinking on how to answer this.  Make it short and sweet?  Use this as a teachable moment and maybe give him too much to think about?

The mother in me thought:  They are strapped in the car and calm and it seemed like their ears and minds were open. So teachable moment it is!

So here is what I said,  “probably not and not many people out there would steal a car. But people do.

“You know how I read about all the naughty people in the newspaper? I have read about a few people who have stolen cars – a boy from his parents and a girl from her boyfriend.  These people got in big trouble for not asking to use the car.  Because they didn’t ask for permission the owners thought the car was stolen and they called the police.   Stealing cars is serious and people go to jail for it.   It stays on your name forever and whenever you want a job they will know what you did by looking it up on the computer.  And they may not hire you because they think you can’t be trusted.”

Robbie:  “There are some jobs you can do on your own, like sell juice.  But that doesn’t get you much money.”

Me:  “Right!  You will need to find a job to pay for your house and food!

People learn respect and good behavior when they are kids. That is why Papa and I always stress these things.  So you will learn them now and not when you are a grown up and you do something really bad.

Remember stealing that cupcake decoration in 4K?”

Robbie:  “Yes!”

Me:  “If I just ignored that and didn’t take you to talk to your teacher you may have stolen something else and kept stealing other things all your life and maybe end up stealing a car!”

I also explained:  Besides your family teaching you these things it is important that you have friends that make good choices, and your friends that you hang out with are kind and respectful to you and others.   You and your friends need to help each other to remember what is right and wrong.

Aunt Becca’s job is working with people who were in jail for doing something bad.  Part of her job is to help them learn respect and responsibility.  Some of them didn’t have a Mama or a Papa or an Aunt or Uncle to show them respect, kindness and love.  She also helps them to learn that it is important to show up to work every day and work hard.  You boys already know how to work hard!

Robbie:  I didn’t even know there is a job like that!

After my long babbling talk about naughty people,  Charlie corrected me about naughty people:   “Mama, there aren’t any naughty people. There are people who make bad choices. There aren’t any good people. There are people who make good choices.”

The Plan for Summer

Last week I posted Getting Ready for Summer Vacation (click here to read that post), and I have been doing a lot of thinking and planning since then.

When I worked for Head Start, many years ago, I got tired of my supervisor always saying, “What is your ‘Plan’?” or “What is the ‘Plan’?” or “Here is the ‘Plan’.”  Even though I got tired of that phrase I did learn that it always worked to have “A Plan”.  I have learned to use this method of problem solving in my parenting.

Now, back to THE PLAN for Summer!!

Today is our first day of summer vacation!  Let the fun begin!

I talked to each of the boys and asked them what they wanted us to do this summer this is the list we came up with…

Each day we will try to accomplish:

  1. Practice piano.
  2. Read books.
  3. Play outside.
  4. Keep the kitchen clean.
  5. Get exercise – 30-60 minutes.
  6. Eat healthy snacks.
  7. Henry will take a nap.
  8. Work in the garden.
  9. Pick up dirty socks and dirty clothes.

Each week we will try to accomplish:

  1. Keep up with our daily list.
  2. Write a letter to a family or a friend.
  3. Go to the library.
  4. Go to the beach.
  5. Go hiking with friends.
  6. Go fishing.
  7. Sew.
  8. Make a load of firewood.

Each month we will try to:

  1.  Invite friends over for a fun activity.
  2. Take a weekend trip to visit family.

We haven’t scheduled any dates for our family vacations.  The dates are still being worked out.

Locations we will visit this summer:

  1. Bay Beach – http://baybeach.org/
  2. Pictured Rocks National Park – http://www.nps.gov/piro/index.htm
  3. Liver Life Walk Milwaukee – http://go.liverfoundation.org/site/TR/LiverLifeWalk2011/LiverLifeWalk?pg=entry&fr_id=2490

The boys will continue taking piano lessons through the summer months, attend summer school for two weeks and take swimming lessons for two weeks.

I’m not feeling so frazzled and nervous about our transition into summer now that we have “A Plan” and our first date for meeting friends at the beach day and a play date for Robbie!

Related articles:

http://paulawhidden.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/6-steps-to-a-smooth-summer/

Getting ready for Summer Vacation

Yesterday after school was kind of wild and crazy.  Now that I think about it the whole evening was!  I am concerned this may be what our summer days will be like.

Milk was spilled at least three times onto the floor and a lot of spitting milk with encouragement from bigger brothers.

One boy went to his room until the rest of us finished dinner because of talking about inappropriate things at the table (poop & toots) and burping on purpose with his mouth open.

Henry was screaming because someone took something away from him.

Henry was screaming because he wanted something another boy had.

Henry was screaming because someone left the house and closed the door without letting him out.

Henry peed on the floor at least two times and once on a  bed he was playing on.  He takes off his diaper without any warning, there is no  pattern of this – sometimes it happens after his diaper is wet or before he pees.  I am sure these are signs that he is ready to be potty trained,  but I am not ready.

Maybe it is because:

  1. I don’t like change,
  2. I can’t stay focused on a task that isn’t fun,
  3. It means my baby is turning into a big boy.

I have got to get out of this funk and just focus on his bodily fluids!

After dinner one of the boys said something about “wanting” something.  By now I had enough and lost it.  I said  something  like “no one around here cares what I want.”  This got their attention and they asked “What do you want?”

My answer:

  • No spitting,
  • No milk on the floor,
  • No talk of poop and tooting (especially at dinner time),
  • No burping with your mouth open,
  • No silliness at  the table,
  • No teasing,
  • No egging Henry on, and
  • boys that listen to the rules!

Real positive, right?  Totally negative!   I know, the results of me “losing it”!

Then I went on to ramble about summer time and doing fun things.  I would like to think I don’t threaten to get what I want out of the boys, but I came very close.  I explained that I won’t take boys who are rude and naughty to the lake, park, let them have friends over or let them go to a friend’s house.  We can stay home and get a lot of work done because I have tons of jobs for us to do!  How do you think they want to spend their summer?  I know, I want to go to the lake!

There was still wildness at teeth brushing time, a huge drop of toothpaste was on the floor and I didn’t find it until I stepped in it!

I was busy from for four straight hours cleaning, cooking, doing my animal chores, taking clothes of the line and getting started on the night-time routine.  This list of things to do at night isn’t any different from other nights, I even got some help with cleaning the kitchen and part of the animal chores.  Tonight everything seemed to take longer.  I would have loved to sit down for longer than it took me to eat my dinner, or had time to weed in my garden, go for a walk/run or play kickball.

After the boys were sleeping, it didn’t end…Robbie woke up many times with night terrors and tossed and turned the rest of the night.  Charlie woke up in the middle of the night and came to sleep with us because he was having bad dreams.

I think these events are breaking me in for next week.  Summer vacation!  Whose vacation is it anyway?  It is ours!  I plan to have lots of fun with the boys this summer.  In a matter of just a few years we may not have a full summer together.  There will be summer jobs, I might have a job to go to and how many 15 year old boys are going to want to go to the beach with their mom?

Last night was a reminder to me that I don’t handle change and transitions very well.   And next week will be rough for me if I don’t have a plan!  Because at the moment I don’t have a plan!

Our upcoming transition from the school year to summer vacation is coming and I need to get my sh__ together and have some kind of plan by the start of our summer vacation!

I am looking for ideas, advice and suggestions, anyone?

My Reflections on Motherhood

 My Reflections on Motherhood

“The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”   — Jill Churchill

The most important part of who I am today is who I am as a mother and a wife.  So far, my most fulfilling and challenging job in my life has been raising our three boys.  I have been doing this for seven and a half years.  There have been many days I wished there was a workplace for me to go to and many more days that I am thankful for the wonderful husband I have who brings home the bacon so I can stay home full-time with our children!

One of my main goals is to help our boys to grow up to be loving, kind, gentle, considerate, compassionate, respectful, Christian, healthy, hardworking, confident and intelligent men.  Just like their Papa and their uncles!

My many ongoing tasks that take a lot of my energy:  we cook, eat, play, read, and work around the house/garden/farm.  I try to keep them safe and happy; while teaching them to be responsible, to make good choices, and to think before they speak and/or act.   Oh yes, how could I forget I do teach them manners!  If you have been around us you may not believe this.  Why do manners seem difficult for boys to learn?  Some days the constant talk of poop, toots, and burps make me want to pull out my hair.

When there are three boys in one house with different interests and attention spans it is difficult to keep up with all the activities, so things get a little trashed around here at times.  And it feels as though I am not getting anything accomplished.  My escape is to take them outside to ski or go to the beach or work in the garden.

Although mothering is an incredible job that I take seriously and in order for me to be the best mother I also have to remember who I am as a person, click here to see my post titled “I am…”

I have an ongoing conversation with one of my dear friends about how to be the best mom that we can be.  We have come to the conclusion that we are who we are because:  our own mother, our role models, experiences as a child, the books we have read, our friends who are also mothers and last but not least the lessons we have learned from our own mothering.

We have to accept that we are doing our best.  We have to trust that our children will take what we have taught them and make the right choices.  They may not always make the right choices and that is okay, too, because they will learn from their mistakes.   Part of being a good mom is allowing our children to make mistakes and not expect them to be perfect!  In return I hope that our children will grow up to be the best adults and parents they can be.

When I was in college my Dad told me once that one of my purposes in life was to do a better job in this world than my parents.  I have taken this very seriously in all areas of my life.  I also had very big shoes to fill.

I have an amazing mother who raised six children, five of whom are loving, kind, gentle, considerate, compassionate, respectful, hardworking, intelligent, and successful in all areas of their life.

I have the best step-mother in the world.  She loves my Dad and has always shown love, support, kindness and understanding to the three of us kids, even when we didn’t return that love.

I have an incredible mother-in-law besides the fact that she is the reason my husband is on this earth, she raised him to be a wonderful man and a great father to our boys.   She has helped me understand many things about marriage, communication, forgiveness, patience and peaceful parenting.

Mothering is a difficult job, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a mom who works outside of your home part-time or full-time.  We do the best we can with the resources we have.   I believe it is important to have a circle of moms who love, support and respect us for the mothering we do!

Thank you to all the moms in my life!

I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Added on October 25, 2012 when I found this quote: 

“God intended motherhood to be a relay race. Each generation would pass the baton on to the next.” ~Mary Pride

Added September 4, 2013 when I found this awesome blog post, titled, “Moms, When are you going to learn?  I’m not super mom. ”  Definitely worth reading!

http://www.sowonderfulsomarvelous.com/2013/06/moms-when-are-you-going-to-learn.html

Mental Note #1 – Soccer is important

Last night our family schedule was tight with soccer games and a board meeting.

I should make it clear here that we are not a family that encourages or discourages team sports.  I will speak only for myself  – I dislike team sports.

This is the second year for Robbie and first year for Charlie to play on a team sport.  Soccer is fun to play and my boys love kicking the ball around and  playing with friends.  The joy I get out of watching them play is worth the time and effort it takes to get them to a scheduled game.  I am thankful that our community has an easy and short schedule for their soccer league – Tuesday and Thursday evenings for 4-5 weeks, no extra days for practice and no Saturdays!

Here is what happened last night:

3:30 Bus drops Robbie off at home.

3:30 – 3:45 Robbie eats after school snack, winds down, and gets out his homework.

3:45 – 4:30 Robbie does his homework and practices his piano while I start dinner and help him with homework.

4:30 – 5:00 I am cooking dinner, trying to get the boys to gather their soccer clothes and setting the table.

5:00 – 5:15 We eat dinner.

5:15 – 5:25 I get Henry dressed, Charlie and Robbie get dressed into soccer clothes, put on soccer shin guards and socks and we determine that Robbie’s soccer shirt must be in the dirty clothes because we can’t find it.  Thankfully both boys have the same colored t-shirts and don’t play at the same time.

5:25 We leave for soccer games and Jack stays home a little longer to put away the food.

5:40 Charlie’s game – I am one of the coaches for Charlie’s team, not by choice. In order for Charlie to play soccer this year one of us needed to be a coach.   I know very little about soccer.

6:40 Robbie’s game – behind schedule tonight!   I thought I would be able to see half of Robbie’s game before leaving for my board meeting at Iola Winter Sports Club (IWSC).  The games were running a little behind.  And he was just starting to warm up with his team when it was time for me to leave for the board meeting.

7:00 My board meeting.

As I was walking to the car my gut/motherly instinct was telling me to stay and watch my son play soccer.

My brain, on auto-pilot, was telling me that I needed to go to the board meeting.   I feel very strongly about the commitment I made to being on the board for the IWSC.  I have only missed two board meeting in the few years that I have been on the board – the first time was when Henry was born the day of the meeting and the second time was when I forgot it was the first Tuesday of the month (shortly after becoming a mother of three).     It is very frustrating to me when there are people on a board and they rarely come to meetings.  Especially when I know there are people out there who are willing to take a position on the board, would be committed to showing up and taking on some extra responsibilities.

During breakfast this morning I was eager to hear how the soccer game went.  Instead my heart was broken by the tears I saw and the sweet little voice that asked, “why couldn’t you watch my game?”  I am sad that I disappointed my son last night and mad that my choice  was to go to the board meeting.  If it was a paying job that I had to go to, this story would be very different.   Thankfully, me going to a paid job isn’t a choice that I have to make right now.

I try not to take on any “mommy guilt” or have any regrets in my life.  This incident is one that is so close to making me feel guilty.  Instead of feeling guilty I am chosing to learn from this and move on.

Mental note #1 – Skip board meeting for soccer game!