Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If I Could Just Have a Word With Her

I wish I could sit down and write her a letter. I would if I knew that my time would be worth while knowing that she would receive it and read it. Not that I have been perfected as a wife and mother. Not that I get it right all the time. However, I have learned one secret in the journey of family and those most important relationships. I pray that someone else who knows the secret has maybe told her or will tell her.

I am not one to get wrapped up in the media world and the latest news on the stars in the spotlight. But for some reason I am highly disturbed by this whole situation going on in the Gosselin family. This is the family that stars in the highly rated TLC show,"Jon and Kate Plus Eight".

Most of you have probably been seeing the headlines and tabloids of a troubled marriage due to allegations that Jon was being unfaithful in the marriage. Instead of thinking of these people as a part of the "same ole same ole" gang of the celebrity world, I cannot help but think of this "real" family facing some "real" life issues.

Yes they are caught in the battle for moral stamina in a world where that very thing has to be fought for day in and day out. I am grieved at how the fame and attention has probably contributed to the problems in the family. However, the media is not to blame. It is the choices made by each spouse and the problems probably started way before the airing of the show.

In many marriages, including my own in different seasons, it is easy for the marriage to become a "child centered" marriage rather than a "spouse centered" marriage. When we are first married and before the kids come along, our husband or wife are the top priority. Then things easily shift after the first child is born.

We have nine children with two more on the way. I admit this has happened to us time and time again. However, we have had to come together many times to re-evaluate our relationship when it seems the well is running dry. It is amazing how many times I have heard people say this: "My children are the most important people in my life." What about the wife or the husband? Are they second? Third maybe after your job?

What happens is that the children become the focus and we think we are doing the best thing for them by putting them first. However, the lesson that I have learned is that the best thing I can do for my children is to love their father more than them. Sounds kind of ironic if you are not used to living that way since the kids came along. However, the greatest security that a child can have is a strong marriage between their parents. This means we have a lot to fight for in our marriages because number one, we are loving our spouse with our best and in turn our children get the best. So everyone wins.

So getting back to the Gosselins. I feel that this couple has lost this very thing along the way. Jon seems to care less if the show continues. However, Kate seems to think that there is no way of letting it go. My question to her would be, "Would you be willing to let all that money, attention and fame go in order to save your marriage?" Also, the family seems to have become more focused on the children than the marriage. In the new season premiere this past Monday, Jon and Kate both commented that their children are the most important thing to them. If so, then why not fight for your marriage?

Years ago, I heard about an interview James Dobson did with children from divorced parents. He asked them what was the most painful thing about watching their parents divorce. One child replied, "It hurt that they did not love me enough to try and work it out." When I heard this it stung my heart. If we really love our kids as much as we say we do, then why do husbands and wives not do everything they can to save their marriages?

I can say this with boldness because John and I have been in that very place in our relationship. At 7 years of marriage after the birth of our first son, we were separated and almost divorced. I was not thinking about anyone but my own happiness. I was not thinking about how a divorce would affect my child. I thought it was all about me and getting my needs met. We both hurt each other during that time. However, the choice was before us. We could go our separate ways and keep searching for whatever was out there to bring us personal happiness. Or we could choose to work hard with sweat and tears to make our relationship work. It looked way beyond repair. But 18 years later, we have reaped many blessings in marriage and family because we chose to fight for the sanctity of marriage and family not only for our children's sake but the sake of future generations. There are 7 of our children that would not have been born had we chosen to part. My heart breaks at the thought of "what if" we had chosen that other path.

My prayer is that the Gosselins will chose the right path....the best path. However, my heart sank the other night as I listened to the couple being interviewed separately. It could go either way. They may choose to go separate ways or they could make the sacrifice for the love of their children and choose to work on finding healing in their marriage. My prayer is for the later.

What are your thoughts? Don't you think we can all learn a lesson from the issues of this family who unfortunately are in the spotlight with every problem and issue exposed to the whole world? Our choices not only affect our own well being but more importantly the innocent by-standers that never asked for this kind of pain.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Two Hearts Beating Strong

We went for our appointment with the perinatologist yesterday. I admit I was nervous. Again, I did not want to look at the ultrasound screen. However, the technician immediately said, "There are the heartbeats!" And sure enough I looked up and there were our two little peanuts in their own little sacs wiggling their arms and legs. It is amazing how small an embryo is at 9 weeks. They are usually the length of two grains of rice....about the size of a kidney bean. However, their little limbs are forming.Even the eyelids and earlobes have developed.

Anyway, we received a good report but had to sit through a consultation of all the risks a woman my age with twins could encounter. However, the doctor just kept looking at me and saying things like, "Your history is impressive." "You should do really well." And she even said, "If you did this nine times, I know I can do it too !" She was a very young doctor.

So we continue to take each day at a time. Hopefully I will be out of the morning sickness phase soon. My family sure has been very sweet and helpful. I have the kindest husband. He washes the dishes and goes to the store. He even goes out and gets me things I might be craving and he does not complain one bit! He always asks how I am doing and lets me rest whenever I need to. The older children are helping cook, clean, and assisting with the younger children. They are all real troopers and I am so blessed.

So just 3 more weeks and I will be out of the first trimester. Even though I have lost 12 pounds from all the sickness I am already showing a little. I am going to be huge I am sure....but I do not mind a bit!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So many Questions!

In having a large family we are often faced with a lot of questions from strangers and even people we know. Some of those questions are:

How do you do it?
What about over population?
How can you afford it?
All they all yours?
Do you know what causes that?

I came across a really good web page (www.plomp,com) in which parents of large families were asked these questions and their answers are recorded. So I decided to post them. I think if people were educated and read some of these answers, there would not be such disdain held toward larger families. Today I posted answers to two of the questions. I added my answers at the end of the other replies.

Lots & Lots of Love, you have to have alot of love to give because that is where I think my patience comes from. If I didn't love my job (mom) I couldn't be a decent mom. I'm not the best by any means , I screw up more than my share but then I learn from my screw ups (sometimes!!) & move on to the next phase of life. Prayer plays a big part of my sanity as does this board. It means alot to have people that are in my life that understand my goals for parenting even if their goals vary from mine, all of you always at least TRY to understand, unfortunately we can't always say that for our real world friends & families.
I guess for me it just takes alot of mistakes & being willing to learn from them, & admitting to your family.... "hey, I messed up, forgive me?" then move on. Hope I didn't bore ya!! (bamachic)

I DON`T KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One day at a time, one skinned knee at a time,etc. (ellentracy)

My husband's favorite saying: God takes care of fools and children (which covers our whole family!) (7webbers)

What's to do? I have a lot less work to do than the family with only one or two kids. I don't have to entertain my children, they entertain each other. I don't have to jump every time one of my kids needs a drink or a cookie, they have an older (sometimes even younger) sibling to do that. I don't have to do homework with my kids, they have each other as tutors. Of course, I am the "Supervisor," "Judge," or "Referee" which ever you want to call me.
I work full-time and my husband has been a househusband for the past 16 years. (I have to confess I would trade places with him in a New York minute. If only he were willing.) Once again, I could talk your ear off about this subject. (motherof11)

I don't know...but it works! (jgonz)

Only through the grace of God. And I do have a lot of helpers! it is just getting them to help sometimes~ (happymomof8)

Don't ask me.......We're still trying to figure that one out still LOL (sparen)

1. The Lord's help and strength 2. Because we love our kids (luv5kids)

1. Because I love it! 2. I wouldn't feel our family was complete w/ just 2 or 3. (6kidsnow)

With a strong faith in God, knowing that he'll always provide if we believe in Him. (kclfarm)

On a wing and a prayer...and about $600 amonth for groceries. (teel)

I do it because I WANT to do it and LOVE to do it! (fetcher)

Very organized, follow routines and reduce clutter. (tead)

Take One Day At A Time...It All Has To Be LOVE (jerikay61)

Lots of love, patience, cooperation and communication (midawhar)

With lots of prayer and patience, and realizing that kids are more important than a spotless house, trendy clothes, new cars, and carribean vacations. Children are on loan to us from God, and it is our job to bring them up in a way pleasing to Him. They are my most valuable possession. (ckarmom)

First of all, I do not do it all. What does not get done in a day has to wait. Secondly, I depend on the Lord. I ask for His help, guidance and strength. Thirdly, I delegate responsibilites. Even the youngest have some chores. Lastly, I do not over speculate thinking I have to be all things to all of my children. This way they learn to have their own relationship with God too. (Ange)

How can you afford it?
I don't even know......hehe. You have to scrimp on some things but that is not to say that the kids miss anything. My hubby is military so of course, we live frugally.(yes all you civilians.......we are underpaid!!) We buy what is on sale, make what we can't buy & when in the USA grow the rest. Coupons are my friend & so are clearance sales, I start shoppping for Christmas the day after Christmas...etc. (bamachic )

Buy in bulk and hand-me downs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (ellentracy)

Bulk food, sewing, gardening, hand-me-downs, mostly being careful about needs vs. wants. Everyone gets a few things just for fun, but not every time we go out and usually inexpensive treats. (7webbers)

"I" don't buy brand name clothes. If my kids want them, they save their money and buy them. My oldest kids are the worst about name brand buying of Nike, Jordasche, etc. I accept hand me downs from people at work all the time (the clothes are usually like new, since the people giving them to me only have 1 or 2 kids).
I buy food in bulk - a can of ketsup, 25 lbs. of powdered sugar, anything that is a bargain. When something is on sale I stock up. I've had as many as 25 boxes of cereal at one time (I don't pay more than $1.50 for a box of cereal). I use a lot of coupons. I freeze flour, oatmeal, crackers, bread and much more when it's on sale. I have enough food in my house to last three to four months. I never pay full price for shampoo, bar soap, dish soap, laundry detergent and other staples. I use a coupon when these items are on sale.
We have never been without. God provides very well for my family. I'm sorry to admit I forget to thank Him each and every day for all my blessings. (motherof11)

It is true~ God will supply ALL of your needs! I have worked less and less with each child and now am just teaching Childbirth Classes. When we had 2 I was working 32 hours a week and we thought we were struggling! GOD provides! (happymomof8)

Buy in bulk, shop 2nd hand, live out in the country in a cheap house and do without a lot of things. I think you spend what you have and I'm happy about how I'm spending my money. After living as students with kids I feel like we have lots of money. We have enough to eat, roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and great medical care plus lots of extras. (mabear7)

Making home and family more important than things! I could double our income if I went to work tomorrow, NO WAY. No one else is raising my children. Also, I really don't need fancy homes, cars, furniture or clothes. We camp for our vacation and love it. I buy kids clothes at Thrift stores, (it's great when value village has 1/2 off day), consignment shops etc. They don't look like orphans in fact they wear alot of Osh Kosh, GAP and Gymboree. The difference is that I didn't go into debt to buy them. Our house is perfect for us and our mortgage is very affordable. All our cars are paid for and none of us is very materialistic. (6kidsnow)

Knowing the difference between "wants" and "needs"! Also, believing that God, our children, families and friends are the true "riches" of this earth. (kclfarm)

You always just seem to be able to afford it. (teel)

Garage sales,thrift stores and never turn down a hand-me-down. (mplschic)

My Aunt Always Told Me That if you wait until you 'can afford kids' you will never have any. Kind of tend to believe her!!! Can you ever REALLY afford them...they are always in need (or want) of something aren't they? (jerikay61)

Coupons, clearance sales, thrift shops, previously owned cars. (dimjo)

By deciding what's really important. Things are not as important as our children. (fetcher)

Whats one more mouth to feed (vlnm)

It doesn't matter how many kids you have, you spend whatever you make, so you may as well spend it on many. (cbrouse23)

defining wants vs needs, wise comparison shopping, new is not necessarily better..... Almost all our foods are generic brands or from grocery outlet stores. Never pay full price for anything, wait for a good sale. Thrift clothes and hand-me-downs can be great! Doesn't have to be brand new (furniture, car, house, etc) just clean and orderly. Enjoy inexpensive family times (rent videos, hiking, camping, ball games, park, etc.). Splurge occasionally together. Save up for big items, have whole family work on saving up for an item. Limit gift giving expenses (there are very creative things to do for gifts that don't cost a lot).
Create a budget as a family and live within that budget (not my strong point here!!). Teach your children to shop wisely also and about budgeting. Even my teenage daughter has learned she can find good finds at the local thrift shop when it comes to clothing. We don't make our children feel like "we can't afford that" but that we need to budget it in and work towards it. Can we find it a better deal elsehwere? Do we really need that item? Is it of good quality and is it a good investment to purchase it? It makes them more grateful for what they have.
Most importantly, define your NEEDS versus your WANTS. When in a pinch financially, we were shocked at how little we actually could live on when we got rid of wants (phone extensions, newspapers, cable tv, clubs, subscriptions, etc) and streamlined to only needs (food, clothing, and shelter come first, then other needs). (sevenin79)

Because I do't care that my furniture comes from Walmart and not Ethan Allen... I don't care about eating in fancy restaurants or going to Hawaii every year. Because my kids look just as good in hand-me-downs and clothes from the thrift store and because I am rich in LOVE. (tead)

I had to comment about the furniture not coming from Ethan Allan. Recently I needed MORE dressers, 3 more to be exact. Now we are christians and so I prayed about it since I could not figure out how we would ever get 3 dressers. With in a week we found 2 and a friend (mom of 5) called up and said that she had an extra! The 1 was perfect for my new baby girl w/ Daisy shaped drawer pulls and carved spirals on the side. 2 needed to be painted, I just finished painting the 1 and for my 5 dollar investment in paint a have an ADORABLE dresser! I painted the dresser blue, the drawers green, 3 handles yellow and 3 handles red. My friend (mom of 1) came over yesterday and was astounded at the sight of this dresser! It LOOKS like an Ethan Allan. Those are the best pieces of furniture of all, not the ones that you look at and wonder if you're ever going to pay it off before the kiddos destroy it. I'm also just about done reupholstering my couch. I saved $700.00! (xccow2)

Also prioritizing, but also not insisting that everything be new, not requiring that play clothes be "name brand" classy outfits (we save those for outings and church--and they usually come from a garage sale, store sale, thrift shop, or bag given to us). When we do buy something new we make sure it is made to last (4 boys-can hand everything down) and "classic" that is not dated by the picture on the outfit or style. We drive old cars, do simple things for fun, rent movies instead of going to the theater (tho occasionally we see a movie in the theater as a treat), camp instead of staying in fancy hotels, eat simply but healthy, don't worry if our furniture doesn't match as long as it's clean and neat, etc., etc., etc. (oh yea, we don't go out and buy all the latest toys either--and yes, our kids are HAPPY!!) (4boysrus)

By prioritizing. We look at every 'want' very closely to determine if it is a necessary thing that will improve our lives, or if it is more like something that will take up time and money that could better be spent somewhere else. Learning to be a wise consumer. the 'best' brands aren't necessarily the most durable, and you can find used clothing in new-like condition for a fraction of the cost. Also most brand name foods have a generic equivalent. What is time-saving in the way of foods isn't always the most nutritious or economical. (ckarmom)

We stick to our budget as closely as possible. We ask, "Is it necessary?" before we make a purchase. We shop sales and use coupons. We give our own haircuts most of the time and we have older cars. Most of all, we ask God to provide and He does. (Ange)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The News is Out!

Right around the time I put the ultrasound pictures up, we began the share the good news about the twins with the rest of our family and friends. It never ceases to amaze me how people respond to the arrival of a new family member. Usually if it is your first baby, EVERYONE is ecstatic for you. And even with baby number two, there are heartfelt congratulations and excitement that the first baby will have a sibling.

However, once you break the news you are expecting baby number three and beyond, it seems the excitement wears off and you begin to get funny looks, and crude comments. At least this is how it has been for us. Now we are expecting twins and we already have 9 children. Can you imagine what others are saying or their reaction? It always kind of touches a sensitive place in me.

Why is it that people are elated and proud if you get a raise, bought a new house, have position and stamina and other worldly accomplishments? But if you are having your 7th, 8th, or 9th baby you get responses of negativity. Did you know that back in the days the Bible was written, a man who had a lot of children were considered honored and favored by God. Therefore they had a lot of respect.

In this day and time, one is looked down upon by many and even disrespected for having a large brood as if we have no brains or are irresponsible. Well, let me tell you. Children are a gift from God. Houses will decay, positions and fame will crumble, degrees will only last a lifetime. But human life is eternal. And I am glad that I have invested in the eternal things of this life. I see it as a privilege to raise children, to spend time with them, to hold them, hug them and kiss their sweet cheeks. So for future's sake, if you come across a woman who is having a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth of beyond. Remember a mother's heart is tender and raw. Every life she has carried in her womb is very precious because she carries the heart of God for children.

Here are a few do's and dont's should you bump into someone with a blessed announcement like ours.

Do acknowledge the news and say "congratulations" and truly be happy for the family. Every single life is precious.

Do encourage her if you are connected closely with her or are a member of the family. Let her know you are proud that she is working hard to raise a strong generation.

Do email or call from time to time to see how she is doing or if you live close by, offer to help in some way. Remember the early weeks are sometimes just as difficult as the last weeks of the pregnancy.

Do have a positive perspective. Your attitude can either build up or tear down a precious heart.

Don't laugh, snicker, make cynical comments, or participate in worrisome talk such as , "How is she going to do it?" Remember if you are a person of faith, Walk in faith for the family knowing that God will provide. Even ask yourself, "What can I do?"

Don't be judgemental. If you have two children or three, that does not mean there is something weird or strange about someone who may have more children. We are not strange. We are normal people just like you. We just have a few more kids.

Don't talk about a baby who has died to a mother who just found out she is pregnant. Speak words of joy and life.

Don't be offended by my post. I know it seems harsh. I am just sharing a place in my heart that always is tender around this time in a pregnancy when the news first comes out. I will get over it. I always have.

Our first appointment with the specialist is in two days. I am nervous but I am counting on God to care for us all. I want to thank those of you who sincerely took time to acknowledge our good news. Some of you called, some emailed and sent text messages. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate those of you who were truly sincere in your wishes. You positive words will bless us for days to come. It is a kind person who does not withhold edifying words. Thank you and bless you.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nine Plus Two

Here are two images from Monday's ultrasound. If you look closely you can see there are two separate sacks. This means they are fraternal twins. So we could have a boy and girl (most common), two boys or two girls.
The babies are still so small (8 weeks) so you can barely see them. They are the size of little blueberries! What sweet little berries they are!

We are embarking on a new adventure. Boy what a ride so far! Easter Sunday we found out that I am expecting. Then the day after Mother's Day, there was another surprise in store. We saw two babies, two hearts beating strong on the ultrasound screen. We were speechless! Shock, excitement, fear, and joy all mixed together in my head and I know John's too. However, when we saw those two precious hearts fluttering away, I fell in love.

I am 8 weeks pregnant with twins. Twins! Twins? So incredible to me. And even though I have been throwing up and have not even been able to get a cracker down. I am thanking the Lord everyday for those two little lives growing inside of me.

So here begins the journey. I am a 44 year old woman with 9 children. And I am now a 44 year old mother of 11 because life begins in the womb.And to be perfectly exact I am a mom of 13 because there are two of our babies in heaven that I will never forget.

So yea, morning sickness. I have had it with all of them. But boy, this time it has been intense. Today is the first day I could eat something. I am about to finish an entire biscuit. WOO HOO!! Thank goodness the doctor prescribed some pretty strong nausea medication that would have cost us 237 dollars if we did not have insurance. Thank the Lord for insurance. We only paid 10 bucks for those little white miracle tablets.

Today I will be setting up an appointment with a specialist. I will be under their care the entire pregnancy because of the twins and this thing called AMA (Advanced Maternal Age). There are a lot more risks for me so that makes it a little more scary. However, I have been doing lots of reading and there are so many stories of women even older than me having healthy twins.

The due date for the babies is December 23rd. However, twins never make it to the due date.So depending on how everything goes, we could have them by Thanksgiving. We shall see.

Oh the thoughts that are running through my head. I am a pro at newborns....but not two of them at the same time!! Smile! Isn't it amazing how God keeps us teachable? There is always something new to learn.

Well stay tuned. I will be sharing more of this special trip with you on double babyhood. I would love to hear from you if you are following the journey. We need all the encouragement and prayers we can get! So share some love and be kind!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother You Are....

Mother you are a work of art meant to reflect many colors vibrant and exuberant, soft and pure.
You are gracious in touch and you hover so that the very breath of God can be felt on each cheek.

You are the kiss of heaven to a heart so tender and vulnerable.
You are the author of the moments meant to be captured and remembered.
You are the essence of strength upholding future generations.
You are the humble servant and you expect nothing in return.
You are God's portrait of elegance and grace.
You are the embrace that leaves an impression for eternity.
Mother you are beauty. You are priceless. You are more valuable than you realize. A voice is whispering as you are adorned with a crown, "Well done, lovely one. Well done."


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Meaningful Beauty Part 2

In my last blog I talked about meaningful beauty and how many times we as women are searching for the external solutions for remaining beautiful throughout our lives. As a younger woman size, weight, flawless skin, cute clothes and the like were very important to me. I may have worked hard to look good on the outside, but on the inside I was a very insecure person. I lived in insecurity. It was like a secret tormentor that came each day to steal joy and blessings from my life and my relationships.

Now that I am much older and have traveled the journey of life a bit further, I am finding that even though looking and feeling great on the outside is a good thing, cultivating beauty on the inside is the most important.

Just the other day, my children and I were walking home from the neighborhood park. It was late morning. However, it was hot. This is Arizona and we are hitting 100 degree days already. So as we came closer to the house I noticed all of us started picking up our pace. We could not wait to get inside for that cool glass of water.

How does this relate to cultivating meaningful beauty? Well it has to do with heat. In life we find ourselves in the heat many times in the form of trials and tribulation. Sometimes we can find our own way out of these circumstances. However, many times we find ourselves stuck in the heat, a least for a season. What do we do?

In looking back over times in my own life when I have felt deserted in the heat of hard times, I have not always handled the stress very well. But as I have become older, I find myself like the little child who runs to find water in the heat of the day. However that water in not liquid water, but it is the Living Water who is Jesus Christ. When I drink of His presence in heated times, I find myself yielding more and more to what life brings as more of a beauty treatment.

Like I mentioned earlier in my previous blog, beauty is something that is worked in the heart and flows from the inside out. This comes through learning to allow hard times to soften our hearts instead of harden them. Soft hearts manifest tender eyes and a gentle and understanding smile. Tough times make the heart more flexible and enlarges it to carry love for all people, not just a few. The best potion for beauty is taking the arduous seasons of our lives and having a healthy perspective. Then we become better and more beautiful, not bitter and hardened.

So as the summer is around the corner and things are heating up, think about how the fiery trials lead us to the Well of Living Water, the most beautiful Well, the most meaningful beauty! Drink plenty of water!