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June 30, 2008

New Arrival!

We hope our Valuesparenting family is enjoying a fun summer, whether you’re sizzling hot or soaking wet!  We got a letter this week from a reader in England and one in Indonesia. It is so inspiring to know that good parents all over the world are "tuned in" to Valuesparenting. 


Richard and I have spent the week in New York City with three of our sons who live there, along with two wonderful daughters-in-law. We were joined by another son from Arizona and we had a grand party!  It was so fun to be together but our first project was that of "construction crew" to help our son Noah finish remodeling their bathroom which he was doing to surprise his wife Kristi, who desperately wanted their dismal bathroom in their upper east side 450 square foot apartment finished by the time their new baby, due July 18th, arrived.  She had been visiting her mother for eight days in Houston with their little 2 1/2 year old son and our whole crew were feverishly working to get it finished by the time she arrived home last Wednesday!  Not only did Noah pull off the surprise with the bathroom, much to Kristi’s delight, but they also got another surprise at 4 a.m. this morning when Kristi’s water broke.  Luckily Uncle Josh was sleeping on the hide-a-bed on his vacation to New York City and Noah and Kristi caught a cab at 4:30.  At 7:19 a.m. Flibitgibit (Richard’s pet name for her while she was still inside) burst into the world after three pushes! We are floating on air!


Nine hours later Uncle Josh sent this picture of our new 7 lb. 8 oz. new little granddaughter!  Thought you’d like to have a peak at our 17th grandchild (our oldest is 11) with the 18th due in November. JOY! 

Here she is (official name still pending):

Flibitigibit 9 hours old

June 15, 2008

Our “Number One”

There are so many fabulous Mothers in our Valuesparenting world. I have seen their resilience, their creativity, their undying devotion to the quest of helping their children become the very best they can be. I know their devotion to their cause and know that nothing deters them from thinking of inspiring ways to help struggling children and being Mother Bears when it comes to injustice and serving those who need it most.
BUT on this Father’s day may I suggest that sometimes I think we are better Mothers than we are wives. I may be the leader in this sin of omission as I remember clearly saying to Richard at the birth of our ninth child and he was still leaving his dishes around the house, “Richard, I have nine children and I really don’t think I can have ten children! You have got to take care of yourself! This was meant to be a wake-up call to let him know that he needed to take responsibility for his own things and that I needed help with the dishes as well as with the children. I must say that he was a champion in helping with the kids…telling stories, putting them to bed, entertaining them endlessly and helping them set goals. But I just felt that he had a long way to go in helping around the house and he needed to know that I couldn’t take care of him in addition to all the omnipresent, never ending needs of the kids.

I was right about his need to help but dead wrong in thinking that he had to take care of himself. My very first priority, even if it didn’t mean equal time, was loving my husband and nurturing that relationship through all the mayhem of living that was going on at our house. Through the years I have figured that the kids are only in our home for a finite number of years (for us that number seemed infinite) and after that, what you have left at the house is your relationship with your husband (as well as the continuing bigger, more urgent needs of the children as they spin off into their own worlds outside your home). By then your relationship with each other is even more important as you go forward together.

I know there are probably a lot of single moms reading this column and I salute you. Your job is the hardest job in the world. BUT those of you have husbands living and supporting you, this may be one of the most important things you will learn in the lessons of family life. Happily, our daughter has figured this out much sooner than I did! I love this little message that I lifted from her blog. I think you will see what I mean as you read her thoughts:
My “Number One”

“Sometimes I miss Dave. We live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, sit at the same table for dinner, raise the same kids. But sometimes, when things get really crazy, it’s like we’re strangers passing each other in the hallway with ringing headaches from screaming kids.

On a typical evening as we try to talk…me asking what he has on the agenda for the weekend and he telling me some story that happened at work, Grace is interrupting to tell me (in a very dramatic way) every detail from her field trip, Lucy’s screaming for who-knows-what since she’s so darn frustrated that she can’t tell us, Claire’s crying in the corner because she got her feelings hurt about something or other, Max is pounding on the piano, and Elle’s begging for a friend to stay for dinner.
Oh, and there are the friends causing commotion too…playing tag which involves running around the house either slamming the doors or leaving them wide open (great for the air conditioning bill), needing supervision while swimming, and yelling to be heard by each other over the roar of the waterfall, fighting over who gets which princess dress-up…you get the idea. Oh, and I can’t forget about that incessant ringing of that darn phone. (We don’t usually get our phone, but the ringing alone causes a little bit of head-ringing.)
I love being a mother with all my heart, commotion and all. Oh how I love to kiss off those kids’ cheeks and snuggle up to read bedtime stories together. But as much as I adore those kids, Dave is my Number One. My sweetheart. My lover. My best friend. And when I’m a shriveled up little old lady (as little as you can shrink to when you start out at six feet tall), I want to remember this: he was my first priority. He’s the one who lights up my heart with something as little as giving me a wink across the dinner table commotion. He’s the one I’d rather be with than anyone else in the world. I love you babe.”

The challenge to you Moms this Father’s Day season is to take stock of your relationship with your greatest asset, your partner, the Father of your children and your best friend, even if the things you love most about him are also the things that drive you crazy! How can you make that relationship richer, fuller, better, more meaningful? One night Richard and I decided to write on a piece of paper three things we thought we needed and three things we thought the other needed. Then we shared our lists. It was amazing! Some things we got right and some were dead wrong! We giggled about the fact that we always thought the other needed the things we ourselves needed which wasn’t always right! Just this simple little exercise taught us something about each other that changed our relationship for the better. Make this Father’s Day a great day by letting him know that he is your Number One!

June 1, 2008

Real Life

One of our daughters has an adored, beloved baby who isn’t progressing as fast as her other children.  Because smore and more parents have children with a wide array of learning delays and disabilities, we thought you might enjoy this mom’s thoughts!

Note: As you read on…know that little chubby foot was broken!

Real Life

Lucy’s not taking steps anymore. She did so great one day, then tried to build a tower with soup cans the next and one of the cans fell smack dab on her poor foot. (Yeah, I know, don’t let her play with soup cans..but you try taking cans away from a baby who is so incredibly delighted that she can build a tower with them. It’s tough!) Now she won’t put an ounce of weight on that foot. I took her to the doctor for an x-ray this week and they only saw a lot of swelling…no break. Now, is that due to the fact that she screamed bloody murder while I was trying to get her to hold her foot super still and the x-ray is just so darn blurry they can’t tell, or is she really ok? One step forward, two steps back.
I feel like I was introduced to "real life" as I was sitting there a few weeks ago waiting in line for my girls to get their ears checked and watching other parents deal with kids with much more significant issues than Lucy has. It suddenly hit me: I’ve been living in a dream world with my first four kids. Every one of them has been right on developmentally. One week they learned to play peek-a-boo. The next maybe they learned to give kisses. Then they started saying words which were added to one by one, then ten by ten. This was normal. This was life. Now suddenly I have to re-think development. Lucy will learn something and then forget it. I’ve never thought of needing to practice the new skill over and over again to make it something that lasts.
I watched those other parents in that waiting room and thought of what they’re going through. Are they ok? I think of all my totally healthy kids and realize I’m not thankful enough for health. For the quality of life we live because my kids can run and breathe and jump and talk as they should. We have no oxygen tank to lug around or emergency shots sitting by in case one of them eats a peanut, or inhalers or wheelchairs or walkers to deal with. My kids run to the bus, play tennis, eat junk food, do flips on the trampoline. That was my real life. But now things are a little different. I appreciate all those things a little more. Lucy is probably fine, but some of those kids in that waiting room probably aren’t. And my heart aches for them. And then what if Lucy isn’t fine? What if there’s more to it than a little delay? I called my sister-in-law who is a speech therapist for advice on my way home and left a message for her. As I said the words "Lucy has qualified for speech therapy" I couldn’t help getting a little choked up. This is my baby, and she needs more help than I can give her.
And now she qualified for physical therapy too, and I’ve had the toughest time trying to find an opening with developmental speech therapist…in and of itself worthy of another story for another day. Man it’s rough to get a spot even when qualified. But that is my new "real life" along with rice milk and gluten-free pretzels, and I’m telling you, it’s ok. Because it makes me love this little girl even more, if that is humanly possible. I love to concentrate on her and focus on really helping her any way we can. I love that these sweet ladies can come to our house and teach me how to teach my daughter in a way that I’ve never thought of before. It’s a whole new way of thinking. I love that I can then teach my kids how to teach our baby. I love to watch them dote over her and cheer her along.
This morning Lucy had her MRI. No parent should really have to watch their baby disappear down the hall with a random nurse to be put under anesthesia…twice. (We’ve already been through that once for her toe surgery when she was six months old.) That’s such a helpless feeling. But she did fine and we’ll see what our results are tomorrow. She’s a cherub. I can’t believe those humongous cheeks haven’t been kissed off yet. And I couldn’t be more thankful to share with her my new version of "real life."

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