What’s in a name?

Choosing a name for your soon-to-be-born child can be a daunting challenge.  It could take a full nine months.   Parents must cooperate and both be satisfied with the final selection.  Each partner may have differing ideas about how the name should be chosen.  Some wish to carry a family name.  Some desire a modern name, which may equate toa name that was popular 100 years ago.   For example, I have been hearing the name Mabel recently for infants.  My grandmother, Mabel, was born in 1908.   Some creative parents make up a “new” name.   We gave our children biblical names.

hello-my-name-is-660-x-660During the 1950’s through the 1980’s siblings often received names which all began with the same letter.  Twins had rhyming names such as Don and John.  There are theme names such as flowers like Rose, Lily, Violet, and Daisy; or months/seasons such as April, June, August, Spring and Autumn; and even gemstones such as Ruby and Pearl.   I have been partial to Faith, Hope, Grace, and Charity, but have been told these are “hippie names.”    Even last names can be used as first names.  Some strive for unique names only later to discover the name they choose is quiet popular.

No one will give their child the name of a kid they knew and disliked.  One must consider how a name could be shortened and even mutilated by other children.   Please pay attention to initials.  My brother had a third grade teacher who referred to students in this manner.  Unfortunately his initials were B.M.

We do not choose our own name.  It is given by loving parents who deliberate long and hard.   Some choose a name based on the name’s origin and meaning.   A few individuals will choose their favorite version of their name.  For example my name is Diane, but I often refer to myself as Di.   Most of us don’t even choose our nick names.    Our son Daniel, was called Danny as a child, but as an adult goes by Dan.

But every mother and father has the opportunity to choose what their children will call them.  Will it be mother, mom, momma, mama, or mum?  Will it be Father, Dad, Daddy, Poppa, Poppy, or Pop?    It is whatever you teach your child it is.  This too could change with time, and attitude.13076999_263584877342925_875694023625990266_n

When I became a grandmother, I chose to embrace my German heritage and named myself Oma.  Recently my granddaughters have shorted that already short name to just Oms.   Some grandparents do receive their name from a grandchild.  That is how my husband’s grandfather was called Bopo as was his father and now him.

I think it very nice when each grandparent has a slightly different name from other grandparents.   My grandparents were all called grandma and grandpa and all their last names started with the letter H.  It was often confusing.     I was 20 when my first child was born and my parents became grandparents at age 43.   My dad really felt too young to be called grandpa.  For more than a year we referred to my folks as Grandma and the Man.  Eventually our son named him Pa, and it stuck.

As you are considering names for your child, talk with your parents about their grandparent names, if they don’t already have them.    This Oma is awaiting the birth of her 12th grandchild in mid-Dec. 2016 and her parents are still working on her name. I am confident it will be as beautiful as she will be. 14440924_1204306552981429_8930950963544655844_n



Scary Scars

I am sometimes slow to understand the big picture.  I was focusing on a 4 inch scar on my lower abdomen.  It has distorted the shape of my belly.  Actually it has distorted the way the fat in my belly lies.  The fat is my fault.  I did not choose the scar.  It was chosen for me.  It was the best choice.

I had seizured in my eighth month of pregnancy from toxemia and was transported to the hospital by ambulance.  It was a frightful time for my family but I have only a tiny memory of it.  I was administered a dose of Valium to help calm my body, but I had an adverse reaction to it.  Thankfully a young, on-call physician knew how to medicinally counteract the affects.  Yet, it was several hours before I was stabilized enough to handle an emergency caesarean delivery of our fifth child.

I have not worn  a bikini since I was a teenager.  No one ever sees my belly. The scar still bothered me.

I have other scars on my body.  In fact, I have a scar on my face.  No one notices it now.  When I was 19, I broke a glass window, which I was cleaning.  I bent the metal frame and the glass shattered, falling on my face.  My glasses protected my eyes, but the underside of my lower lip and chin were sliced.  It was ketchup red for at least a year and continued to fade until it is barely visible now.

I bravely endured the face scar.  I said it added character and gave me a great story to tell.   This is true of most scars.  Almost everyone has a scar or two and a story to go along with the scar.  I can tell lots of stories of my children’s scars.  They are stories filled with adrenalin rushes, fear and sometimes adventure or just foolishness.

Many women have scars from caesarean deliveries.  They are very common.   Some of those scars are larger than mine.   It is my scar on my body, but the story is one I was told about me.  I have only two tiny memories from my son’s birth.  I remember being told I was going to have a spinal so that a c-section could be done, and I remember being told I had a son with red hair.  I awoke three days later.


All of this was very scary for my family. It was happening to me, but I was unaware and I was not scared.  Yet I bear the scar.

My son will soon by twenty one years old.  It was just a few years ago that I began to embrace and appreciate my belly scar.  That scar gave me life, my own and my son’s.  The only cure for toxemia is delivery.  My blood pressure was too high. I was not able to endure labor, not even induced labor.  A c-section was my only hope and I was not even conscience to say “yes, I want to live and want my baby to live.”

I am still not showing my belly scar to anyone, but my attitude has changed.  I am thankful for that scar. It is my trophy.   In addition to the scar, my belly is covered in faded stretch marks that came with my previous children.  There is no shame in these things, just a beautiful story of life.

Child Proofing

Is your home child-proofed?  Did you make lots of changes before your child was born or did you do it on an as needed basis?  Safety is not a big issue until baby becomes mobile.  Then it is a big issue.  The following are a few issues to consider.

Closets: In the ranch-style suburban home where we raised our children, we had ample closets.  One of the best closets was in the hall outside the main bathroom.  I called it the linen closet.  This closet reached from the floor to the ceiling.  It was only 10 inches deep, but was nearly five feet wide.   The top 2 shelves held 90% of all the household cleaners.  There were none under the bathroom sinks and only dish washer detergent under the kitchen sink.  There were some laundry products in the laundry room.

The third highest shelf, which was at my eye level, was where I stored the oral thermometer, medicines and all things first aid.  The lowest three shelves actually held linens such as bedsheets and towels.

The linen closet was the focus of my child proofing.  It was my hazard zone.  The linen closet was in the only hallway and could be seen from the main bathroom and two of the three bedrooms.  Posted on the back of the door of the linen closet were first aid articles, such as what to do for chocking, burns, cuts, or ingesting poison. 1024px-Poison_Help.svg

Poisons: I called poison control only once.  My daughter, at age two and a half, managed to open a child proof bottle and swallow about 20 children’s chewable Tylenol.  She survived without any lasting effects. My nerves were shot.  Many children do drink unsafe liquids.  Kids will swallow household cleaners, medicines, toiletries, and even air fresheners.  One of my grandchildren tried a couple of those.

When our youngest child was preschool age, we received a free package from a poison control center that included educational materials and lots of various size Mr. Yuk stickers.  He enjoyed helping me stick these in various places in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and the linen closet.  He never caused me to need to call poison control.  Did the stickers prevent poisoning or was he just not that curious? I don’t know.

Electrical Outlets: We did use outlet covers.  We still do.  We have a grandchild and a nephew, who were fascinated we putting things in outlets.

Helmets: Our first four children all survived childhood, as did we, without wearing bicycle helmets.  Our bonus child wore a helmet, when he was little.  My husband and I wear helmets when we ride our motor scooter, too.

As a child I was a climber.  It seemed to be my nature. I was climbing out of my crib before I was a year old. Later I loved to climb trees outside and furniture inside.  I was probably on the kitchen counter every day of my childhood.  I could even climb hallway walls.  This proved disastrous for my cousin, who tried to do the same.  His foot went through the plaster.   Only one of my children was an extreme climber like myself.  I used a special harness to keep him sitting safely in shopping carts.12661886_1028021680604519_5512961061780225872_n

Don’t Touch: We taught our children that not everything in the house was theirs.  They learned to respect others’ property.  They learned not to touch everything when they were guests in others’ homes.   When they were very little we never left priceless or irreplaceable items where they might be accidently harmed.    There were items they were not allowed to touch but were within their reach.   This is not only a respect issue; it is a safety and a courtesy issue.  Even preschoolers can and should learn these things.

Safety is important.  Precautions can and should be taken.  However parents cannot protect their children from everything.  One day I was sitting three feet away from my daughter and watched her suddenly fall down and break her arm.  She was two years old and was not doing anything except standing when she suddenly fell.  It was not a long distance fall, but the arm was broken.

Deb broken arm

cast on her right arm

Yes, she was a challenging child, but she was no match for her rambunctious brothers.  They caused each other countless breaks and stitches.   It is impossible to prevent all accidents and some children need more protection than do others, but children cannot thrive in bubbles either.  Find a balance.

What do you consider critical child proofing in your home?



Most women have, or know someone who has, experienced a miscarriage. Which one are you?  I am both.  How did you, or they, handle it?

My first miscarriage happened when I was 20 years old, had a 9 month old son, and we were out of state attending a family wedding. It was a difficult situation. Even though the second pregnancy was a surprise we were happy and then we were crushed.  I was about eight to nine weeks along and suddenly everything changed.  I began bleeding and even with no activity and rest I was cramping.  I went to an unfamiliar doctor at an unfamiliar hospital.  The worst part was that I was treated in the maternity wing and could hear other newborn babies being wheeled down the hall.  I hope hospitals have changed that policy.

It didn’t matter that I had only been pregnant a short time.  I still loved my unborn child and his passing was a loss.  Yes, I grieved.   Even years later, when I would think of him I would be sad and then think about how old he would be and what kind of personality he would have.  It is a grief I have kept to myself or talked about with just my husband, or maybe my sister, because others don’t want to discuss your unborn child.IMG_2060

Family and close friends express sympathy and that helps.  Time and life bring healing.  Focusing on others and family also brings healing.

When our daughter, child #4, was almost two years old I miscarried again before I even realized I was pregnant.    Eight months later we conceived again.  We were excited and convinced our daughter would finally have a sister and not just brothers.  With much relief I passed the eight – ten week mark.   At twelve weeks it reoccurred.  Even though I had four living children, this loss was the greatest.

Of course, my husband was with me through all of this and he grieved in his way. Again family and friends expressed sympathy.  But there were two people who did things which I still fondly remember.

My sister returned to the store some maternity clothes which I had just purchased.  That task was emotionally impossible for me to do.  Her doing this was a tremendous help to me. Thank you, Linda.

IMG_2062A week or two later a friend at church gave me a hug and said he was sorry.  He was the only male (besides closest family) who verbally acknowledged our loss and grief.  Thank you, Brian B. for your courage and tenderness.

The loss of a child is the loss of a dream and a future.  We are left only to imagine the possibilities.  I am thankful for the comfort of knowing that someday in heaven I will meet and know our other three children.

Expecting a bonus baby

I thought my family was complete.  My children were all in school and various activities.  They were maturing and becoming quite independent.  Life was simpler than it used to be.  One day I notice I was feeling rather nauseous.  I hadn’t felt that way for many years, but it was familiar.  Could it possibly be?

Yes, I was pregnant.  What?  Shocking.  Unbelievable.  Not the plan.  I have to start over, again?!  My children were 9, 11, 13, and 16 years old and we were expecting again.   I was going back to diapers and middle of the night feedings.   This was going to be a HUGE adjustment for all of us. How would we add another child to our family and our home?

I soon discovered we were not a young couple having a baby.  We were a family having a baby.  It was different this time.fam

Many things had changed since I was expecting #4, our only daughter.  Furthermore I had forgotten lots of the little details of being pregnant.  When I went to my first OB appointment I was informed that I was an “old” mom.   When our daughter was born I was 27 years old, now I was  . . . . . 36!  I was asked if I wanted to explore genetic testing of the baby.  No, I did not.

At my next appointment, the nurse handed me a little plastic container and asked for a urine sample. “I did that last month,” I said.   She replied, “Yes, and you will do it at every appointment.”   I really had forgotten soooooo much.   By my third month appointment, the baby’s siblings started taking turns attending the appointments so they could hear the baby’s heartbeat and hear about the progress.

fam5Hubby and I took a one day Lamaze refresher course. Most of the other couples there were very young.   We went on the tour of the hospital and its new Labor/Delivery/Recovery room.   The hospital where we had delivered three of our four children had made significant changes.   I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I am doing this again.”

I did not own any maternity clothes.   A few friends shared some with me and I shopped for more at rummage sales and garage sales.   What about all the baby equipment?  Where would the baby sleep?

We did some dry walling and painting in the basement and set up a room for #2 and #3 sons.  Daughter moved into the former boys’ room, which was painted purple for her.  Her former room was repainted for the baby.  Daughter and I made new curtains for 2 bedrooms.  #1 son carried the old crib from the attic to the new nursery.   The crib and a highchair were the only baby equipment we still had.  We shopped at more rummage and garage sales.

When I was expecting the other children ultrasounds were rarely used.  If they were used, they were not entirely dependable.  They were about 50% accurate at determining the baby’s gender.    Now every expectant mom had at least one ultrasound.  I had two this time.  The technician was 90% certain we were having a boy.ss

During the eighth month I developed pre-toxemia and was restricted to total bedrest.  Within a week I seizured and lost consciousness.   Our son was delivered hours later via caesarean section.  He weighed less than 6 pounds but was healthy.  I awoke three days later to a beautiful red headed baby, who has been an incredible joy and blessing to our family.

A bonus is defined as an unexpected extra, a dividend, a plus, an advantage.   I have met many families who had a bonus child.  They are all thankful for their bonuses despite many adjustments.  So are we.

How many children?

While I was in labor with our second son I told my husband, “You are absolutely right.  Two children are enough.”  Later we had two miscarriages and three more live births.  No major decision should be made in the midst of a crisis such as labor.   Never, never make important decisions in a HAT.  H.A.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Tired.  All of these could happen in labor.

What criteria does a couple use to decide how many children they should have?  For some, like my sister and husband it was reality.  Before having any children they thought they would have a dozen.  After having two children they stopped.   Parenting is very hard work.  Parenting has very big rewards.  Parenting is ever evolving and changing and continues for a lifetime.

There is the “how many can we afford” dogma.   It usually sounds something like this: We can only afford one or two children because we only make ____ amount of money or we are choosing a particular lifestyle or we have certain plans and goals.  This thinking tries to measure expenses and potential income.  Its focus is monetary.  It is an extremely realistic, but extremely narrow view of family.  Yes, raising a family is financially costly and requires self-sacrifice. Frequent evaluation of real needs versus wants is revealing. Most of us do not need much of what we think we need.  Fifty years ago bigger families fit in smaller houses because they had less stuff.

A guideline I often wrestled with is the “this is all I can manage well” argument.  I felt that I managed three boys really well and was ready for a fourth child.  But after the fourth child was born I felt I really had my hands full enough.   In fact, I clearly recall asking myself what in the world was I thinking.  I was homeschooling and wanted to be sure I was doing my very best at it.  I still think this argument has merit.  However I have since learned a few things and had a fifth child.
DSCN0141Some people follow what I call the blessing ideology.  I agree with them that all children are a blessing from the Lord.  They also believe they should not hinder conception.   These families usually have many children.  Hooray for them.

These are my own brief synopsizes of these principles of which books have been written.   The crux of the matter is that every couple must decide for themselves what is best.  They need to pray about this matter and seek God’s guidance for their family planning.   Equally important is the need to be totally in agreement.  If they are not in agreement there will be resentment and anger and other marital issues.

This is not a decision to be made once and never considered again.  I think the issue needs to be revisited every few years.  Couples need to continue to be in agreement or at least in a mutual compromise.   The issue needs to be reconsidered in view of major circumstances such as parental health changes.

Believe it or not I have met people who wished, too late, that they had had more children.  I have never met anyone who wished they had less.  Of course, there are those who are disappointed with their children’s lives.

I recently discovered comedian Jim Gaffigan who has five children.  He answered the why so many children question like this. “Well, why not? I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money?  A few more hours of sleep?  A more peaceful meal?  More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy.”

I like his perspective.  Yes, our children impact our lives in almost all positive ways.  Yes, they are a lot of work.  It is work worth doing.  It is work with an eternal impact.  As we do it we are learning and growing and becoming better people.   If two children can provide a lifetime of education and meaningful relationships, imagine what four or more will do.

Here is my crazy advice for your family.  Have two children close in age, then wait 3-5 years and have two more.  Repeat as often as you care or dare!  Even with this formula you will eventually not have anyone in diapers and you will eventually have an empty nest.  Don’t rush through your children’s childhood.  They will be grown and gone before you know it.

our kids1

This picture was taken on the last Easter that all our children lived at home.  3.31.97