Thursday, November 29, 2007

Introduction

Hi! I'm just now coming on board to blog here, so I thought I'd introduce myself.

I'm Melanie. My DH and I have been married for 10 years. We've been blessed with 5 munchkins (GBBGB) ranging in age from 9 down to 1 year old. This past October we were heartbroken to learn at a routine prenatal appt that our 6th baby, who we were expecting to be born in February 2008, had died. I was induced, and our baby girl was stillborn at the hospital on October 5th.

I'm a SAHM, but in my former, pre-mom life I was a Christian elementary school teacher. I also currently provide childcare in our home for a 1 yr. old girl and 3 1/2 mo. old boy. In addition to that, during the football/volleyball and basketball season, I work part-time as a concessions manager at the Christian high school where my DH teaches. DH teaches computer classes and is the technology director there. Our 3 school-age children attend our church's elementary school.

Even before DH and I were married, we knew we wanted a large family. We didn't really have a set number other than "more than 3." I'm the oldest of 3, but my mom was the oldest of 7, and I always loved getting together with her family. When I was little I always wanted more siblings. DH only has a younger brother, but when he was in high school, he attended a school too far from his home to go back and forth everyday, so during the week he lived with a family that had 5 kids. He loved the large family dynamic! I'm sure our childhood experiences played a part in us both wanting a larger than average family of our own. Are we done yet? Who knows?!

I've been a member of LOK since way back in 2003 when I only had 3 children and didn't "qualify" as having lots of kids. Neverthless, Mirz and the others at LOK welcomed me with open arms! Even today when I'm here I often feel like my family is small because so many members have quite a few more children than I do!

Coughs and Sniffles

It’s nearly eleven p.m. and all of the children fell asleep by eight, tucked into sleeping bags at the foot of my bed. We transformed the bedroom into sick bay as one child after another came down with a hacking cough and an aching body. Charlie got sick on Sunday night and by Monday afternoon all five children and Stuart were coughing and shivering and aching. I alone remain healthy. Now it’s Thursday and the coughing continues.

The humidifier breathes out steam into the darkened room. The children inhale moisture and cough on the exhale. My last few days have been spent distributing lemon water, saline spray, and homemade chicken soup. The kids thank me for this by coughing into their dinners…and mine. Mountains of soggy tissues decorate the livingroom. Well, not exactly tissues. Toilet paper. They blew through the two family-sized boxes of tissues three days ago.

Stuart is curled into a ball on the bed beside me, alternately throwing off his covers and reaching for them again. His head pounds and he shifts restlessly trying to find a comfortable position. He stayed home from work today, a first this year, and Claire delighted in bringing him his meals and making him glasses of lemon water. I have been impressed to see how the kids still serve other family members even in the midst of their current discomfort.

We are in the golden years of parenting. I have not had to soothe a feverish baby or comfort a thrashing little one in the middle of the night. The children have been fairly self-sufficient. They huddle under blankets in the living room while I read to them. They drift off to sleep on and off during the day and they don’t cry. Now they sleep fitfully on my floor and I listen to them breathe and cough and I enjoy our togetherness in spite of the circumstances.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I don't cook turkey. I cook side dishes and pies. But, I don't cook turkey. Fortunately for me, my husband can cook a fabulous turkey. My father-in-law apparently was king of the turkey prep while my husband was growing up, and I guess it rubbed off on Scott during his youth. He actually LIKES to cook turkey. It is a whole production. All of the kids are involved somehow, from mixing and cooking the stuffing, to stuffing the bird and basting. Scott and the kiddos cook the turkey. Works for me.

I have to laugh about how different we are. I grew up with a mom who preferred that my dad made pork chops cooked on the grill to spending hours cooking a turkey; so my family usually had grilled pork chops for Thanksgiving. We lived 1000 miles from my extended relatives, so it was just my family of 5 around the table growing up. And, I didn't have homemade cranberry sauce until I was an adult and married. My first year and a half of marriage, I lived near my grandmother, aunt and uncle, and cousins (my mother's side of the family). My grandmother makes amazing cranberry sauce, and now I make it too.

My husband grew up with Thanksgiving meals of a huge turkey and all the fixings to go with it, and lots of extended family around to share it. I learned from my husband and my children that it is not about the end result that creates the quality family time. It is the entire family in and out of the kitchen all day, kids climbing over each other to help. The meal is always good, and the littlest kids pass a turkey leg between them like at a Renaissance Festival.

Last year we hosted a bunch of friends who were all in town for the holiday. This year it is just the six of us. And, over the weekend, after the turkey induced coma wears off, we will transform the house into a winter wonderland of Christmas cheer. That is our plan for the weekend. May your holiday be blessed with friends, family, and good food (turkey or not). God Bless.

Not truly alone

My parents divorced when I was in grade school. My mother became a single mother of 4 kids. She was from down south, so we didn't have any family here in Chicago. This meant our holidays were spent alone. Most people envision big family get-togethers around Thanksgiving. For our family, there was only 5 of us around the table every year. Funny thing, I have no sad memories of that, only happy. For various reasons, this year will be the first year that my family (meaning me, my husband and children) will be spending it alone. I am actually looking forward to it. There will be 11 of us around the table...a number some families feel is a crowd. There will be focus on food , fun, and holiday cheer. I find myself laughing at the word "alone" since all of us will be far from that. In a season where we focus on family, I am thankful for mine...laughter, tears, and all.

From Lotsofkids.com, I would like to wish all of our bloggers and our readers a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When Daddy's Away

My poor hubby. He doesn't travel as much as many husbands do, but he does go out of town for an overnight a couple of times a month. Problem is that we tend to have these "little emergencies" when he is gone. Two weeks ago one of the parakeets died while he was gone.

Tonight, Joseph had hives that caused his face and toungue to swell. He is ok now... I loaded him up with Benedryl, put all 4 kids in the car, and hauled them into the emergency room. By the time we got there the swelling had gone down, and they gave him a steroid to keep it down. The doctor and all the nurses said I did the right thing with the Benedryl before coming in, and we were in and out of the ER in under 2 hours.

But, my poor hubby was 4 hours away, wondering if he needed to be on his way home. Had things turned out differently than they did, I would have asked him to come home. But, everybody is fine now, we have more medicine on hand, and I will be checking in on Joseph all night long.

It is hard enough to be around when things go crazy. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for him to be gone and things go crazy.

Well g'nite all. It's time for me to go check on my boy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Going Home



Two suburbans rumble toward New York. One shivers its way down out of the Cascade Mountains. My sister is at the wheel. Four kids play “Cows in the Cemetary” and “Scavenger Hunt” in the back seat. The fifth rides shotgun with an atlas and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in her lap. They sing along to Willie Nelson and Taj Mahal as they drive among the western pines and out into the fields of brown grass under the wide open prarie sky.

My sister tossed a few changes of clothes, a cooler and some dishes behind the back seat. The kids grabbed a handful of books and toys to keep themselves on their forty hour trip eastward. They press across the country. Each night, for three nights, after the sun sets, nine-year-old Maddie thumbs through the Hitchhiker’s Guide in search of somewhere to lay six sleepy heads.

The second suburban is ours. We head north from Smallville through nearly empty countryside in an autumn just past it’s prime. Gold and red leaves, bare branches and evergreens brush against the blue, blue heavens. Our vehicle is not big enough for all the claptrap we might need so we haul along a trailer full of boots and winter coats. Five bikes are chained to the trailer in the event that our soft southern children want to brave the frosty New York air and peddle around in the grandparents’ driveways. The albuterol, heating pad and nebulizer are packed "just in case." The kids put together a laundry basket of library books and filled another with toys and cross stitch samplers their working on. The Lost Years of Merlin and The Prarie Home Companion take turns in the CD player. I read the directions Stuart printed out from Google Maps. We pull into the hotel in Cincinnati where we have had reservations for a week.

We’re so different, my sister and I, but best friends anyway. Tomorrow, in Cleveland, our children will greet each other as if only a day or two have passed since the last time they rode bikes and played Barbies together. In reality, it’s been two years. We’ll caravan to New York, the children all mixed up together between our two vehicles.

And then the brothers will come, all seven of them, from near and far and farther, with wives and girlfriends and children. We will delight in meeting the newest additions to the family. We siblings will laugh at the memories of who we were when we all lived together under one roof and we will share bits of the people that we have become and the lives that we live now amidst the chaos that comes when a family of eleven burgeons into a family of forty-one.

Hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving with your families.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Adoption...

We have done the pregnancy/labor/childbirth thing 4 times. I am pretty good at knowing what to expect, and how I will feel about the process. This world of adoption is a whirl-wind. I feel like I have been swept up in the center of a tornado, and I'm whipped about to and fro without a visual on where I will land. I know that the end result is my child, but the process is a ride. Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork; and I'm still not done with the home study! Top it all off with the list of waiting children, and my heart is torn (for all of them, but one in particular).

The mental image of my family that I had 12 years ago has shifted several times... and always for the better. It is shifting again, and I know that just like physical labor and childbirth, there is beauty in the end result but pain in the here and now. I am learning to let go of my control over the result and wait to see what God has intended for us. If it was up to me, I'd travel tomorrow and deal with the details later. Unfortunately, that is not how the process works and I have to deal with the details now, and see the results later.

There are so many "what if" and "maybe" questions to be answered. Maybe I was wrong in the mental image I had of my child. Maybe I need to let it go. If I was wrong, I can swallow my pride. Either way, I have to let the process work, and know that this precious little child will find a forever family, even if it is not mine.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's November! The holidays are quickly approaching. As most large families, I often get negative comments about how many kids I have. The one exception is around the holidays. At a time of the year when the focus is on family, many people muse about what it would be like with a household of children on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. It is a little encouraging that for even a few minutes, those people don't think I'm stark raving mad!

We are absolutely thrilled with how successful our blogging project has been so far. We are very fortunate to have this group of talented ladies sharing a bit of their lives with us. We've received a lot of positive feedback from you, our readers. As always, we thank you for your kind words and support.

We would like to announce our newest feature on the "4 or More" blog. Actually, you are looking at it right now (that is to the left). We will now be featuring blogger avatars. Several people have requested that we add some kind of graphic to the blog postings, to help our readers can know at a glance who's writing. So, over the next few weeks, you'll start to see images attached to each new posts. We hope you like them! We're also working on profiles of our ladies (apart from the Blogger ones--these will be directly for Lotsofkids), and will be premiering them in the near future.