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Table for 9 please

A Fathers perspective of a huge family, finally…..

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Family

October 23rd, National Holiday?

October 23rd is now officially a national holiday at our house.  It is the day that my best friend, soul mate, life buoy, rock, and wife came into this world and was destined to this family.  She is not only someone that amazed me daily, but also someone I love very deeply.  As we continue down this road of insanity, it sure is comforting knowing we are in this together, hand in hand.  It is safe to say I adore who I am because of her.

Well, here it is the 26th of October at 12:44 am and I am still trying to finish this post.  It’s now the eve of the four year olds birthday and the 23rd seems but a distant memory.  Life seems to fast forward lately and with the blink of an eye, three days zip by without notice.  There is a constant flow of diapers, feedings, projects, homework, practices, etc, and nothing seems to quite be organized.  Now I am not an overly organized person and flying by the seat of my pants, much to Superwoman’s dismay, is my modus operandi.  My systematic way of balancing out the controlled chaos that is our life and the decisions that must be made, mostly at the last minute, can be very disconcerting to my beautiful wife.  Thank God, yes with a capital G but we don’t discuss religion here, she is the Type A, can not stand the chaotic pace, worrier, that makes this family click.  Quite frankly, when she is not commanding this army of anarchy, it is a comical scene right from a Steve Martin film and every so often my military background comes roaring out, literally.  Everyone seems to fall into formation once Drill Sergeant Dad comes onto the scene, amazing how that happens so suddenly, when the last 30 minutes was spent trying to reason with three under 8 and two teenage boys.

Whew, ok, back to the subject of this ranting, the new National Holiday for our matriarch.  This woman singlehandedly runs a very successful pediatric dental practice with 25 staff members, graduated at the top of her class, was chief resident, is on numerous committees and advisory boards, and during all of those minuscule activities managed to birth 5 healthy young boys in 8 years.  If there are any objections to me declaring a holiday for the Twenty-third day of October, please voice your complaints and they will be taken under consideration.  I will have you know, we have no such mutiny on this ship and she is the queen of this kingdom, canonized with love and adoration.  There is no shortage of testosterone for her to have to navigate through on a daily basis, and she handles it with grace and nobility.

This definitely not an easy life and most people that don’t know us, look at this three ring circus with judgmental eyes.  We are not destined for the mental asylum and it is solely because of the classy lady that leads this family by my side.  We chose to have this big family, and not a moment passes that we are not thankful for what we have created.  It is a family with an overabundance of love and respect for every thing and person around us, and I wouldn’t change one speck of our life.  I love this woman immensely and hope she knows how humbled I am to travel this life with her by my side.  Happy Birthday from all of your boys!

Culinary bliss

One of my guilty pleasures is to be in the kitchen cooking.  Nothing could be more satisfying than to create a meal for your family and watch their bliss filled faces as they savor every bite.  In ancient times the man gathered and the woman prepared the meals.  This theme can also be seen in photographs or caricatures of the 50’s, but is it true today?  Lets take a look at the landscape of today culinary artists, most of which are men surprisingly.  Bobby Flay, Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello, Jean Georges, the list goes on and on, yet when we look at today’s society, has it really changed from times past.  Are there not more stay at home moms then dads?  Are not men supposed to love sports, hate the arts, and forge for monetary success, and not be stuck in the kitchen or at home with the kids?  One of my pet peeves for someone to ask me is if I babysat my kids this weekend.  The answer that I give, much to the surprise of the inquisitor is, no, I stayed home like a father and parented the house, after all it was 50/50 when those kids were created, right? There is no reason a father could not be just as nurturing and loving as a mother, in fact it should be an equal split.  We, as a society, are still very antiquated in our thought processes and are stuck, in most cases, in the 1950’s with the woman in the kitchen slaving and the man in the arm-chair reading the paper waiting for the dinner bell.  Sorry for the digression, but come on husbands and dads, let’s be the role models we know can be for our children and shape who they will become, times are changing all around, do not get trapped on the subway….participate!

Since we have returned home with Liev and August, our close community of friends have showered us with dinners nightly. I am genuinely amazed at the outpouring of support and love from the people we spend daily life around.  Needless to say, we have been very well fed and have had no need to even contemplate what to fix for dinner, until last night!  Thank you to all of you that have helped and continue to help us through the first few weeks of adjustment.  We love you all dearly and appreciate what you have done more than words can express.  I must admit though, I was very excited to plan a weekend menu and go to the grocery store, one of my favorite field trips.  There is much forethought that goes into what we will be eating and I don’t take shortcuts on food prep.  It all must be fresh, organic, and prepared to perfection!  Friday night the planning began…….

I start most days with a brown sugar latte that I make at the house.  Three shots of espresso (Nespresso), whole milk (why not), and some brown sugar, not a better way to begin.  Breakfast is not really my thing, although I love a good, flaky pastry…..And lunch, well it is a hodgepodge of things to fill the void till dinner.  Then the prep begins for the evening feast.  Always have a good glass of wine while preparing food, it clears the mind, sharpens your culinary senses and is excellent for heart health.  All the scents that are wafting in the air make that Pinot, which is the only true foodie wine, taste even better.  Friday night the menu consisted of:  Chardonnay braised chicken with a Crème fraîche mushroom sauce (classic French cooking always has sauces), sautéed haricot vert with shallots, rosemary and olive oil roasted potatoes and good crusty bread (with French salted butter).  It was fantastic, the chicken was falling off the bone (I do not cook with boneless chicken!) and all meals should have good bread and even better butter.  If you do nothing else in life, spend the money for good French salted butter, you will not have regrets.   Ahhhhh….to be back in the kitchen…..good therapy.IMG_2295

Sunday was an entirely different region of food, but somewhat of the same routine.  It was a twist on classic Osso Buco made with brisket instead of lamb shank, I have never been a huge lamb fan and thought it might be a great substitute.  The one thing I need to accomplish is to train one of the boys to be my Sous Chef.  The prep for a meal in this family can be quite extensive and very labor intensive.  So off we go with chopping the veggies, seasoning the grass-fed meat, and preparing the dutch oven for the searing and sautéing.   For those that do not know, Osso Buco consists of a braising process that intensifies the flavors and renders the meat extremely tender and flavorful.  Mine was made with Amarone wine and cooked for about 4 hours till the brisket was falling apart.  The meat was then laced on a bed of egg noodles with the cooking sauces and topped with fresh grated parmigiano reggiano, served with a salad and, of course, some good crusty bread for the sauce.  The dish was amazing and the whole house smelled fantastic.

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Food should be an amazing experience that thrills all the senses.  It can be sweet, yet bitter, with salt and spice which all leads to an explosion of sensuous flavors.  Culinary skill is truly an art form that can unleash ones full creative potential.  The challenge in life is to find something that makes us feel fulfilled and accomplished.  For me its my new-found love of writing, my beautiful family and the time we spend together, and creating culinary journeys as the Executive Chef for our Table for 9.  Who know what could be next…….stayed tuned.IMG_2317

Sleep Deprivation

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Best buddies

We have all had the feeling while in the hospital, sleeping on a make shift couch/bed, interrupted every hour though out the night for BP reading and various other check ups, I am ready to go home.  All of these nuisances are obviously necessary for the health of mother and child, or in our case children, but man they can be terribly interruptive to sleep.  Then you are so excited to go home and get back to normal life with dates and dinner parties and movie nights and ice cream runs, and all those things that make life satisfying.  Wait…..we just had twins and any sort of “normalcy” is pretty much gone for the next…oh….4 years or so!  Then, after you are home, you look back at how good it was in that cold postpartum room, when the nursery would offer to take the babies for the night to allow you to “get some sleep.”  Now we are home and the real parenting begins!IMG_2219

How is it the babies can be so sleepy and content in the hospital and when they get home, surprise, surprise, surprise, “Dad, we have lungs and I am really not that tired anymore.”  Most of the time that has been the case, but these boys have been dreamy so far (I will regret saying that!).  Now they still have their moments, during diaper changes, when they get “hangry,” or when one of their older brothers pokes them in the eye, you know, the normal stuff.  These boys should be bullet proof by the time they are old enough to walk.  I guess having 5 older brothers will do that!

They don't look naughty at all...
They don’t look naughty at all…

After 4 years of no babies, you tend to forget what it is like to not get continuous sleep.  It is sort of like taking a succession of tiny naps all night, which does nothing for you mental exhaustion.  Then the kids start playing tricks with your mind!  Here is the game, you decide to start changing their diapers before feeding, they start filling them up mid feeding.  Then when they are done you brighten their day by changing their diaper, again, which is always a calming event.  They are then wide awake at 3 am, which is spectacular!  Of course if you wait and start not change the diapers before the eat, they do nothing in them and you have woken them up for no reason, its a viscous game.  There is some joy with them being awake at 3 am when you have 5 other kids, you finally get some quiet one on one time.  They are so sweet and just look at you and coo and there are no other distractions or noise, it is utopia.  I think it is an amazing time to bond with the babies.  Even when you are tired seeing those big eyes and hearing the soft sounds, its quite fantastic!IMG_2240

I have shared with you previously how absolutely perfect my wife/supermom/best friend is and has been through all of this, well she continues to amaze.  I haven’t seen her this happy in quite sometime.  I can tell her heart is exploding with love and our family has definitely strengthened through this adventure.  My unbreakable bond with my best friend has grown in ways I didn’t feel were possible.  Even in the midst of sleep deprivation, which normally means short fuses, we continue to lead and transform this family with smiles and love.  I have never met a person quite like her, someone that completes and enhances everything about who I am.  She is my everything, and together I know that no peak is unreachable and every summit will be conquered.

Lets be honest, getting no sleep really stinks, but to have, not one, but two healthy babies, does it really get better?  I know most of you think we are absolutely crazy, 7 kids, and with the imbalance of work load to sleep, I tend to agree, but this thing called life is getting really good.  What if you got to always received two of everything, 2 Ferraris, or 2 houses in the French West Indies, or 2 signed original Babe Ruth bats, would that not be spectacular?  That is exactly what having multiples is like.  Remember that view from 10k feet, I have to tell you its looking pretty breathtaking right now.  Cherish the moments you have and don’t wish for the ones you never got, and remember only you make your own destiny.  Being a Dad is the greatest treasure given to man, seize it and make the most of these moments, even if you are sleep deprived, there are surprises in the most inopportune times and places.

5 am snuggle time.....
5 am snuggle time…..

What’s in a name? A whole lot, at least for me!

Naming the new member of a family is a really tough decision.  It is amazing how effortlessly we make huge purchases, decide where to live, make career paths, or pick out an engagement ring.  All those things can be altered and new decisions decided, but a name is forever.  It is a monumental responsibility that requires much deliberation and research.  I like things to have substance and history and heart felt personal meaning.  I like stories, history, names with the proper forethought, not whimsical decisions of such enormity made on the fly.  These are huge obligations that I take with the utmost seriousness.

All of our names have some sort of family connection.  The first boy, in my family, has the fathers first name as their middle name.  In comes Brenden Jeffrey, who is now 16, man I am getting old.  Then comes Colin Samuel, which is his Grandfathers middle name.  He is now 15 years old, I know they are close together, 15 months and 2 days apart.  Next is Beau Gregory after my father, and he is 8.  Beau means handsome in French, and this boy does not disappoint his name!  Bennett Gray is now 7, 15 months and 2 days apart from Beau.   His name has a great and touching story for me, my Grandmother named him only days before she passed.  Her and I held a special bond and I think of her every time I call his name, which is quite often!  Quinn William, which means 5th, is next and he is named after his Grandfather.  There was great care and thought that went into each name and we were very purposeful to not be too common, but not to out there as well.

We came into D day with one name solidly in the plan for baby A.  August Michael was going to be his name and for some reason we knew it would fit.  He has not disappointed in the three short days he has been with this family.  One of the trips we made during this pregnancy was to Napa.  We had the privilege of dining at the astounding Thomas Keller restaurant French Laundry.  Being the foodie I am, it was an unbelievable culinary experience.  Our waiter there was named August, and we immediately loved it.  Michael is my brothers middle name and he is one of my most favorite people on the planet.  We have become incredibly close and I wish he were closer.  Baby Bs name we spent 2 days discussing and contemplating.  The last of the Broermann children had to receive a powerful and compassionate name.  Liev Robert Broermann, this name has a ton of hidden meanings and some very apparent signifigances.  If you follow this blog you know we are intimately involved with the Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation and its mission for infant congenital heart defects.  Liev is an alternate spelling for Lev, which we thought would be mispronounced too often.  Lev in Hebrew means heart, how appropriate can a name be in honor of our amazing Oakes.  Another way to spell Lev is Leo, this is a name that has been used for years in my family.  It is my Grandfathers name and my dads middle name, two men that I hold in the highest regard and love dearly.  Robert is a long story with multiple layers.  Robert is my fathers brother and a man I look up to and respect a little more then words can describe.  A little over two months ago he lost his son, Nicholas Scott.  It was a tragic story and his family has been struggling to deal with the loss.  He left this world way too soon and I wanted to honor his memory by naming our last son after his dad.  Robert is also the first name of our dear friend and doctor that made all this happen.  As all things were playing out during Lievs birth, he was the one that rescued him from the womb. He is an amazing person with an amazing family and we are honored to have his namesake in our sons title.  The last, but most definitely not the least, connection to the name Robert comes from my dear Father in Law, affectionately known as Grandpa Dale.  He is a gentle, soft spoken, kind hearted Texan that we all love and are privileged to call Dad.  Robert was Dale’s Grandfathers first name, his fathers middle name, and Dales first name!  Quite a lineage for Liev, and a long line of great men for him to live up to.

So now we have all these boys with names:  Brenden, Colin, Beau, Gray, Quinn, August, and Liev.  What a mouthful and we are giddy to have this family complete.  We are home now and look forward to finding some sort of normalcy, although that seems like quite the farce of a statement.

They’re here…..life just got way sweeter!

The best words I can come up with to describe the last day and a half is, wow.  Ironically, that is the one response that probably perturbed me the most when people find out how many kids we have together.  I guess in this day and age it is quite an appropriate response.  This has truly been a whirlwind of emotions, from anxiety, to excitement, to fear, to nervous, to pure joy, to amazing content with what our life now looks like.  Where to possibly begin, well how about the beginning…….

Wednesday 10 am

Super mom heads to the doctor to see what is happening with this dilation thing.  Of course she is dilated to 6cm and he decides today is the day!  Well, the appointment was supposed to be at 1pm and is moved to 10am, and I have patients scheduled all morning, not ideal.  The morning is, well to preface it is a full moon and those are……um…..crazy days.  The prediction is something called a “blood” moon, which is a lunar eclipse, I think.  We mark these days on the calendar at the office, for obvious reasons, the kids are normally a little whacky on those days.  Sure enough, it was one of those nutty mornings and we fell a little behind.  Her doctor was heading into a cesarean and he wanted to break her water at noon.  Luckily we are attached to the hospital and there is a breezeway between the buildings that drops me off at Labor and Delivery.  So I got my best Carl Lewis or Usain Bolt impersonation going, age adjusted, and sprinted to L & D just in time.  It was slow going from there, with little contractions happening, even after water breakage.  So when you have twins they are born in an OR type setting, NICU attends, and lots of helpers.  Amazingly baby B flipped and moved head down as well, so both were in a great position for a regular vaginal delivery.  Now dilated to 9cm and the excitement began, we headed down the hall.

Wednesday 1 pm

 Now in the OR, the staff was getting all set up, the doc comes in and, a process that I have been through a few times before, begins!  This was already a weird day…..working all morning, running over the breezeway, OR delivery, twins, the list goes on and on.  It was about to get a little more interesting.  Lots of pushing, more then the last few kids, which again was a little strange for us.  My super woman is an amazing laborer and usually this goes really fast and easy.  I promptly received a proper education from our phenomenal OB, also a close friend, that because the uterus is wrapped around both babies, the contraction has limited force and is not as focused as with just a singlet.  This makes the “push” less effective and it requires a lot more effort, even though these babies were much smaller then our last couple.  Nonetheless, at 16:19 we had baby A delivered and walling away!  Now the tricky part, grab baby B and get him out as well.  This became quite the challenge because as his world became less crowded, he decided to go transverse.  This complicated the efforts to grab an appendage and bring down the birth canal.  Then he started to labor and his heart rate plummeted from the 150s to the 70s.  After, what seemed like 20 min of trying to grab him, a lot of phone calls were quickly made and all those staff that were just “in the room” went into action.  My friend had to do what he did not want to do, perform an emergent cesarean delivery.  Controlled chaos in sued, the room was a buzz, and for the first time, that I can remember, I saw a touch of panic and uncertainty in this woman that is always in control.  As expected, baby B was born without complication at 16:32, only 13 minutes after his brother.  I would have sworn there was 45 minutes in-between those two entering the world.  This was all very disconcerting and after making sure both the boys were doing well, I rushed back in to check on my amazing wife, she was not doing great.  Surgically, no problems, but mentally it appeared to be very difficult, and she was not sure what was going on during this change in plans.  After Oakes’ ordeal, we are all a little more aware of birth defects and complications, how can your thoughts not go there with what just happened?  But by the sweet grace of God, along with amazing doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff, the boys, mom, and everything turned out amazing!

Now here we are the night before discharge and we are elated.  Not only is everyone doing fantastic, but these two boys are pure nirvana.  There is nothing like watching your new born sons sleep while you are holding them.  Their little eyes flutter with dreams and the rhythmic movement of their mouths as they sleep.  Perfect little faces with unclouded innocence that only an infant can possess.  I am a proud father and even having done this 7 times,  I still has the same feeling of euphoria when I look upon these boys.  Your own flesh in blood that you created, does it really get more heavenly then this?  It feels like all the stresses leading up to this day have washed back out to sea, and the future is once again an amazing ray of light.  This is the final time I will have this feeling, the final chapters in this family.   We have now completed the seating for our Table for 9.

Now the fun of fatherhood really begins…….but I will stay in paradise for one more night!  Bonne nuit….carpe diem

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