Monday, December 30, 2013

Dear Grown Children

I knew this day would come but I didn't anticipate how hard it would be to actually let you go. I do want to thank you for sticking with us as long as you could because being the two oldest of eight cannot be an easy thing. Knowing I am losing 25% of my kids at one time is hard on my heart so tread lightly.

There are so many things I hope I have taught you and maybe I'm a little scared that I didn't. Just in case I didn't cover something, here are a few reminders before you go:

1 - Pay with cash as often as possible. You need a house to live in, a vehicle to drive and an education. You don't need new couches, expensive clothing or dinner out a 12% interest rate. Pay your tithing. Everything we have came from the Lord, all he asks is 10%. Be wise and always pay your debts on time.

2 - Serve others. You are entering a period of your life where you only have to be responsible for one person - YOU. You may have to deal with roommates or co-workers but it will be nothing like the service you gave to your family. Reach out and find small ways to serve every single day. It will help you see that there are others out there who need you.

3 - Finish your education. Remember that time when I had eight kids at home and I was going to college? It was really super hard. I regret not doing it when I was younger. No matter what you want to do with your life, get an education. I promise you won't regret it. And by education, I mean graduate from a trade school if that's where your career takes you but a Batchelor's degree will never hurt you.

4 - Choose The Right. That one seems pretty clear. Even though you are an adult now, it doesn't mean that you are perfect at making the right choices. Make your own rules in regards to curfews, sleepovers and what you put into your body and then follow those rules. Take precuations to avoid compulsive decision making. For example, eating out is an easy fix when you are hungry but it will suck your food budget quicker than you could suck my budget eating at home. Adults eat Mac and Cheese and Ramen and peanut butter sandwiches sometimes too, especially when they have tight budgets. You can always come eat with us if you want to.

5 - Take pride in your new home. Scrub the toilet, mop the floor, vacuum the floors and wash your dishes. A clean home is a happy home.  A spray bottle full of water and a small amount of bleach will kill a ton of germs but only if you use it. What if you brought a potential spouse over while dating and they were completely turned off by your filth? Don't be "that" person. If you need to bring your laundry home that's fine, but a laundromat might be more efficient depending on how far away you live from me. Remember to wash your clothes with the hottest water possible for the fabric.

6  - Remember that while you are so happy to be on your own, there is a hole the size of the Grand Canyon in my heart knowing you will most likely never be back for an extended period of time.  I am going to miss you. A phone call, a visit, a lunch date will be needed as (your dad and) I  try to respect your space and desire to be independent. Your younger siblings want to be a part of your life too. Take the babies to the park if you have some free time, invite the others to go hiking with you or go shopping. Remember that your siblings will always be there for you long after your friends have moved on with their lives. Come home for holidays if you are able. Thanktivus is our special December holiday that shouldn't interfere with other holidays and future family commitments. At least shoot for that one every year.

I hope that about covers it. Remember that even though you are living on your own, you will always be a part of our family. I love you and I hope I have taught you what you need to be an independent thinker and a righteous follower of Christ.

Love, Mom

Monday, December 9, 2013

Potty Training and Modern Medicine

I'm a wimp. I'm not a fan of natural childbirth. I joke that with baby #8 my epidural didn't work and that's why I'm never having another child again, ha ha. The truth is that the epidural man was my best friend for many years. When I went into labor, he was the first person we called. (Not really, but close.) I'm a huge fan of modern medicine. But, when I have a headache, I try drinking water, I suck on peppermint, I close my eyes for 15 minutes or so, etc. But if that doesn't do the trick, tylenol here I come. When I got nausea during pregnancy, I tried  eating crackers, sipping ginger ale, sucking on ginger, I even bought sea bands to wear on my wrists, etc. When that didn't work, I turned to my trusty Zofran to get through my day.

I like to think I have a good balance between "natural" remedies and modern medicine. I'm thankful for both and this is why.

When my daughter turned three, we started potty training. It was rough but I chalked up her failure to train due to my five year stint with no potty trainers in the house. I figured I had lost my skills.

When it came time to go to preschool, I don't know why I thought that was a good idea not being potty trained but maybe in my head I figured peer pressure was the ticket. Why wouldn't it work? I had tried everything else. Unfortunately it didn't change anything. By September I had her in pull ups and by January I just finally pulled her out. I resolved that it was psychological. For one month I ignored it and when she had an "accident," I simply reminded her to go change. The next month I spanked her (don't judge me). Another month I tried rewards, etc. My efforts were futile. I was trying to do this "naturally." It wasn't working.

So, at age five when her peers are all going to kindergarten, I decided that the fact she was missing out was going to be the ticket; I tried shame. She would ask why she couldn't go to kindergarten and I would explain that only big girls could go to school when they could stop peeing their pants.

The worst was when I finally made an appointment with a pediatric urologist and then told her they were going to stick a tube up her pee hole to find out what was wrong. (I know, Mother of the Year right here.) She cried and cried and then fessed up she was doing it on purpose so she could stay home with me because her friends told her how hard school was...

You have to be kidding me. For real? I called and cancelled the appointment.

So, I started "training" her one last time and she was totally on board. We set the timer and sat on the potty every 15 minutes for the first week and had very few accidents. The next week I shifted it to about every 30 minutes. More accidents. I was dying. I waited a few more weeks before I finally gave up. Something was wrong.

I finally called the urologist and made that appoinment...again. They could see me in three weeks. I bought a large package of pullups and went on with my life.

All went well at the appointment. They did an ultrasound and couldn't find anything abnormal there but a little fluid left in one kidney after she used the toilet that could be something but most likely it wasn't anything. I was getting discouraged. I actually prayed that they would find something physical with her because I wasn't sure I could deal with something psychologically wrong.

After visiting with the nurse practitioner for what seemed like an hour, we still had no clue as to what the problem might be until she asked one simple question,

 "What does she look like when she has to go to the bathroom?" 

I responded, "you mean the potty dance?"

"Yes, what does she do?"

I must have sat there and stared at her for close to two minutes mulling that one over before I responded, "I've never seen her do a potty dance."

Oh. My. Gosh. How did I miss that? She has never felt the urge to urinate. I was dumbfounded, how did I miss it?  As I reflected on the last two years, my hindsight became quite clear. She would pee her pants while walking, while sitting at the dinner table, while playing with friends. She had been wet for so long she no longer even noticed she was wet and was actually bothered when I made her change her pants. 

We discussed it further and came to the conclusion that maybe, just possibly, she had an immature bladder. That was our best lead. The good news? There is a medicine for that and it has been around for over 60 years. Who knew? The fix is a simple one, try the medicine and see if it helps. I agreed.

We discussed the side effects and the potential outcomes and came to the conclusion that this was the best road for us. We started on the lowest dose possible and after four weeks saw considerable improvement but still at least one or two accidents a day instead of 8-10. We increased the dosage at the four week mark and her success is noted by the fact that we have maybe one accident a week now. It's a miracle. A modern medicine miracle that I'm happy to be a part of. And the potty training is more or less complete. It only took me almost two years to announce that I have finished potty training eight children. It only took me 19 years to get it done, I think I deserve a reward of some sort.

The end.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I Don't Miss It

Circa 1997 My hands were full 
"They grow up so fast, in the blink of an eye," they said. I still resent those people who said it would go by so fast and I should cherish them while they are still young. Really? I had six kids under the age of 11 at one point, there was very little about my life that I cherished except maybe date night without the kids.

Cherish the stinky diapers, the vomit, the bed wetting, the whining, the dirty laundry that truly never ended, the sticky kitchen floor and towels dropped on the linoleum in the bathroom? Let's not forget the nausea, sciatica and discomfort of being pregnant for so many years and then having a baby stuck to my boob 24/7 for sustenance. What about those comatose days because the baby didn't sleep well during the night but the toddler was up at 6am as usual. Yeah...I don't think so.
Circa 2003 Survival Mode
Life is now way more fast paced than I could have envisioned and I'm seeing that I missed out on hugging my children more and telling them how much I love them. I might not have read to them as much as I wanted to or even cuddled them and tucked them in at night as often as I should have.  My older children may think it strange to encounter so much hugging from me since the first 14+ years of motherhood were sparse in the hugging category. Let's face it, I'm not a touchy feely person and I didn't make a big enough effort. I think I did other things that showed my kids how much I loved them though so I don't have any guilt. Survival mode is just what it sounds like.

My kids do things I like to do now, like football and basketball games, movies and restaurants that don't have a drive-thru. We cook together at home without making serious messes that result in my frustration in having to clean it up by myself. Sitting at the dinner table is enjoyable since I don't have six plates of meat to cut up and portion out. We talk about our day and laugh and make memories. Even though we still have two "babies," I have older kids to help out when I need another set of hands or free babysitting.
We all survived. Photo taken April 2013, oldest son on a mission
Nope, I don't miss those days at all. But I am cherishing the ones right now because I am truly happy being a mom at this stage. That is of course, until next month when my babies leave the nest...