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

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Sons

The Perfect Storm

As this time of the year approaches, we as parents get both excited and a bit frightened for the coming weeks.  It is the start of the school year, and with it comes a whole myriad of emotions, both on our part and the kids.  The other part of this tale is that working in the pediatric world of dentistry, the weeks leading up to the start of school equates to pure madness at the office.  Urgency ensues, and everyone wants to get that appointment done before the truancy officer comes knocking.  It seems as if school administrators have become entirely to harsh for missed school due to doctors appointments, but thats for another time.  Our very busy days, turn into sheer madness in the last week of July to the third week of August.  Some days we can barely catch our collective breath!  The slow down has hit, finally, and we can play catch up on the summer that was a complete blur, or so one would think.  Then this past week hit….brace yourself.

August 17th:

The last Monday of summer break for most of the local schools, which is the equivalent of panic to get that last appointment in before the first day of school.  The schedule is packed and that is not even counting the home front, oh and we started back to regular hours, 8-5.  No more summer hours, and everyone is a little grumpy!  We had a mutual separation from our long time (8 years strong) nanny and this was the first full week of the new nanny!  As one could envision, my best friend is beside herself with animosity about how all this will work out.  Can she hack life with SEVEN boys, not to mention twin 10 month olds?  Combine that with a schedule that has maybe one opening, which of course will be filled by some sort of emergency, and we have the makings of a manic Monday.  All things considered the day goes fairly smoothly and the week begins.  Over the weekend our 8 year old, Gray, has a recurring pain in the lower left quadrant of his abdomen that raised a little concern…should we make a visit to the doctor?  See, earlier this year, Beau the Maniac, has the same sort of thing only a bit more acute, the result was an appendectomy.  Anatomically speaking, about the only thing possible to be wrong in a males lower right quadrant is the appendix being enflamed.  So one of our team of family members that help at the house takes the little man to the doctors visit.  That visit turns into an appointment at the imaging center for an ultrasound of his belly, so momma leaves to head that way.  He has all the clinical hallmarks for an appendectomy.  The result…inconclusive…what do we do, or better yet what does the doc decide to do…Room 310, here we come, admitted for observation.  Bear in mind this is gauntlet week and its the middle of the day, but we are parents and one of us must go…ugh.  They spend the night in the hospital with no decision and I managed to get 6 kids in bed, but she had to sleep in the hospital….I  will take the 6 kids!

August 18th:

Same song and dance, as far as the routine of chaos that we call the end of summer.  Crazy schedule, tripping over each other, and the natives at home are restless for school to start.  Oh, and I have to get this done by myself, which is no small task. I have never once taken for granted how invaluable and irreplaceable my beautiful wife is and its days like these that make me even more appreciative for all she does.  The day flies by and there is not even any time to go and visit my son in the hospital.  Still no decision, but leaning towards no surgery!!  The only problem is there is another twist to this story.  We had our god daughter spend the night on Sunday and by Tuesday we find out she had Hand Foot and Mouth disease…things just got potentially worse.  So Gray gets discharged, which takes all but 8 hours, another day lost, but he doesn’t have to get his belly operated on and that makes us ecstatic.  The only problem is he misses the “meet the teacher” day, as does momma.  I think I mentioned once or twice we have a lot of kids and even when one is under the weather, the other 6 still need parenting. The good news is, thanks to the team that makes this family function, the day is saved!

August 19th:

Here we go, the first day of school…the office will slow down, the boys will get in bed early, and the house will see order.  Everyone gets off to school without a hitch; Brenden 11th grade, Colin 10th grade, Beau 3rd grade, Gray 2nd grade, and Quinn kindergarten, hard to believe time has gone by so fast.  Of course the morning consists of the normal lunacy of getting everyone ready.  Blair comes to help and take first day pictures, what a great day to see your kids grow up to become these young men in uniforms and ties, and its off to school.  Oh, and Gray is just a little stopped up….but the afore mentioned hand foot and mouth disease had reared its ugly head.  The twins start to run a fever…

August 20th:

The morning starts with Quinn running a fever, and the twins have more of the same, with a couple of lesions popping up on the lips.  The trouble with contagious diseases and having a big family is there is no such thing as containment, especially when the two youngest happen to be twins!  The mess ensues and it is going to get ugly, in more ways then one.  The thing about this disease is it is extremely painful and dehydration is very common.  My poor dreamboats do not know what is going on, other then they have a fever and are hurting.  So sad….

August 21st:

Ahh, its finally Friday, except that the third day of this virus is the peak and it did hit a high.  We are all working on very little sleep, agitated, yet epithetic to the struggle these little men are going through.  It is just not fun to have half the house struggle while the other half sit around with nothing to do but wait for the storm to pass.  The up side is school has started well and everyone is happy.  This is 15 year olds first year at a new school and is living full time at the house, finally all the boys reunite!  It will take some adjusting on all of our parts, but the is life in a family, right….

The weekend is more of the same, blisters on hands, feet, faces…we are a family of lepers at this point!  It is ugly and I am not so sure I have willed a week to be over as much as this one.  Would have been possible to squeeze and more suffering and stress into seven days…probably, but it would have been tough.  The upside is we bonded together, both at the office as a family and at home.  It is hard to keep a strong unit down with the love and determination that binds this one together.

Bottom line is this, struggles build character, adversity makes us realize how much we can conquer, and perseverance leads us to the new tomorrow.  The sun will rise and tomorrow will bring new surprises.  I heard someone say once that “this too shall pass”…words we could all live by, and low and behold it is passing.

Father’s Day

Ah, that beautifully warm and sunny day in June that we pay homage to the patriarch of the family household. There are no brunches, or jewelry sales, or flowers to buy, no dressing up to make that reservation you made a year in advance to dine overlooking the gardens.  It is, however, the final day of the U.S. Open golf tournament, a day of grilling, outdoor activities, and saying thanks to the one person that taught us the hard lessons in life, dear old dad.

So we might ask ourselves, why is a father so important anyway?  They do not provide infants with nourishment, they do not sustain life, and, for most of us, they don’t really provide us with those mushy moments of support when the tears are flowing.  We are, however, the absolute pillars of support for the American family structure.  There are some staggering statistics of sadness for fatherless youth.  I found a mind boggling blog titled, The Fatherless Generation.  The numbers contained in the”Statistics” section, paint a very grim future for todays youth that grow up without a father.  One could argue that a lot of our decaying society could be restored if the family structure of the days past was recreated.  What I mean by that is simply a two parent household, with both parents contributing equally to the upbringing of the children we bring into this world.  After all, were not both people involved in the creation?

My guide in life as a father was, and always will be my dad.  The blueprint that he laid out gave me all the insight I needed to be a great father to my children.  He came to every game, most of the time coaching the team, he listened to every crappy song I put on the radio and acted as if he liked it, he has always been an ear I could borrow in times when all I needed is a little advice.  In other words, he was present at every turn of my life, every bad decision I made, he caught me when I fell flat, then told me what I could do better, not criticize me for failing.  I would not be the man I am today without the tutelage of my dad, so to him on this day of the Father, thank you for being there and loving me unconditionally.  I love you Dad.

What is being a father though my eyes?  I have seven, yes 7, sons, which is a huge privilege, and a monstrous responsibility as a father.  These seven boys will be shaped into men under our watch.  A metamorphosis will occur, they will go from sweaty little boys that run and play, to young gentlemen that will know all of the social graces a good man should practice daily.  I will teach them to love, to throw a ball, to do algebra, to open the door for ladies, to give compliments, and most of all to be a dad.  Every day, they get to see a family that does all of those things, and it should become second nature to each of these boys.  Not a day goes by that I don’t tell my wife how beautiful she is and give her a kiss.  Children see and emulate everything we do, no matter how good or bad it may be.  Why not give them a role model, a hero to follow?  Now I would never suggest that I am a hero, by any stretch of the imagination, and neither would my father, but none the less he is my hero.  The point is, as a parent, we are our children’s hero’s, we are the ones they want to be like.  We should all take that responsibility more seriously then anything we do, this is our future we are shaping.

The point of this day in June is to become aware as fathers.  Let us all place what we do under our own microscope and re-examine the men we are and the fathers we want to be.  Be a great dad, be present in your children lives and most of all love unconditionally.  This is the greatest job in the world and I love nothing more, on this warm June day every year, then being dog piled by the boys I brought into this world.   To each of my sons, Brenden, Colin, Beau, Gray, Quinn, August, and Liev, I love each of you and would die to protect you.  Happy Father’s Day to all you dads that give so much of yourselves to create a better tomorrow.

8 months in the books…Can I blink now?

I woke up the other day and realized, one I had not posted to this blog in quite sometime, but also that my babies were now 8 months old.  I am not so sure I can remember any section of my life go by so quickly.  Why, as we get older, does life fly by in such a rapid fashion?  Not only that, but why can we not recall ANYTHING!  One would surmise with all the chaos that is contained in our lives, adding a couple of infant twins would be no big seismic event, but oh were we wrong.

The ultimate problem with time, as compared to life, is time has a finite end and life continues to tack on activities with no end.  Amazingly we accept all these extras and continue to thrive, survive, and persevere.  It may not always be a graceful acceptance of new responsibilities, but it always seems to just “work out” and life bounds onward.  Just when we think there is no earthly way to add another thing to our already overbooked calendar, we do and again life goes on.

This past 8 months has seen the addition of another practice to our already growing business, the birth of our first set of twins, and reuniting all of the 7 boys under one roof!  I will go out on a limb and say, that is pushing the limit of overload.  The funny thing is I do not feel like my life is spinning out of control, quite opposite, I have an overwhelming sense of completeness.  Weird concept to most people, considering we have 7 kids and 25 staff members we are responsible for, normal folks would likely run for the 7 seas!

Now the good stuff, the Dreamboats!  These boys have made our family so very spectacular.  What began with two little 6 lb 11 oz miracle boys, has evolved to two happy, very squishy, and amazingly fun additions to our already large family.  Every morning evolves around entering the nursery to find one of the boys, most of the time August, humming, until he sees you.  Then the smile explodes and pure excitement, with legs kicking like a hummingbird, the scene is similar to a freshly caught flounder flung on the dock. Then you pick him up, squeeze, and give tons of kisses.  There is no better start to your day then the pure love felt from your baby to their father.  Days when you “wake up on the wrong side of the bed”, are usually turned around rather swiftly.  These little guys are amazing, and having twins has been the highlight of parenting.  I truly believe having a singlet would be boring, almost a mundane series of schedules, twins bring a lot of beautiful twists and turns.  The rest of the day is filled with more of the same smiles, laughter and family fun times.

It is an amazing life, I feel blessed beyond belief each and every day I have the privilege of taking a breath.  Being a father to so many wonderful children and sharing every experience with my best friend, brings with it an overabundance of joy, pride, and love.  For seventeen years I have watched the matriculation of boys to men and babies to young men, it has been a spectacular ride, so far.  Most days I feel as if I have reversed the aging process, I feel young and energetic keeping up with this crew…well most of the time.

Well, its off to the races of nightly activities.  Carpe diem and bon appetit……

2014, I am sure glad to see you go……wait, it was pretty spectacular!

So I started writing this post about 2 weeks ago and realized it was all wrong.  The information was all correct, but my perspective was skewed.  After spending many years reading Malcolm Gladwell books, I have come to the hard truth that perspective is everything.  I was taking a retrospective look at 2014 and painting a dismal picture of how rough and horrible this past year was to me.  As I took a much closer inspection it was quite the opposite, it was pretty spectacular.

2014 has been filled with risk, reward, love, happiness, success, stress, and most of all family!  This past year has brought me a greater appreciation for the finer things that make us men who we are for our families. We are the disciplinarians, the fixers, the coaches, the pinewood derby car makers, basically we make sure all the loose pieces don’t get lost, because we have no clue how to put those pieces back together.  The superwoman makes the world correct again by organizing the pieces to the right spots.  I awoke in 2015 knowing that, not only would this be a great year, but that it is only going to be great because of what went down in 2014.

For all the stress and worry that went in to the last half of 2014, just like everything else in life, it was not all that bad.  We grew both professionally and personally, literally!  What could possibly be wrong with growth?

This morning I woke up, the alarm went off at 5:15, and I looked to my right….my amazing, beautiful, strong wife was there, fast asleep.  She is quite stunning while she sleeps, and all I could do is smile, because life is really good.  I then glanced to my left……..IMG_3393and I see the Dreamboats snuggled, fast asleep.  At that moment I know, this life is so incredibly perfect.  We went through the last few months of 2014 thinking, how difficult and testing this life is right now.  Now I know it was just that, a test, an examination of our intestinal fortitude, and once again I concluded that we can take more than our minds believe we can and, best of all, we can do it with style and grace.

So far in 2015 we have survived the influenza outbreak, the continued saga of a remodel, the holiday hangover, and the Dreamboats.  We have had 3 with the flu, and I have never seen one woman become such a germ destroyer, but have managed to keep the babies well, so far.  My oldest, who as you remember moved in, in September and started a new school, is doing amazing.  He is putting in the hard work and it is paying off!  The rest of these crazy boys are geared up for another fun year!

As with any new year people go through making resolutions, starting new diets, and joining various gyms in an attempt to slim down.  I have always thought this was a foolish endeavor that rarely resulted in a life changing metamorphosis.  Why can’t we just pick up where we left off and keep rolling?  Have our goals and lifelong aspirations really changed from year to year?  Mine has not and I see no reason to change what it is I am trying to accomplish in life.  I want to be a great husband, lover, father, cook, small business owner, boss, friend, clinician, and role model.  Nothing of that list will change whether it is January or October, 1999 or 2015, I still want the same lifetime achievements.  My goal is to live everyday like there is nothing tomorrow.  Carpe diem, seize the day, and fill every day with good food, friends, and most of all family.

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The New Normal…..at least for now

IMG_2524Life is such a paradox, normal or not so normal, right or wrong, good or bad…..is it not sometimes in the eye of the beholder?  Seems to me we, as a society, spend way too much time judging others and inserting our version of “normal” into places we should leave alone.  Who are we to say what is normal?  Is normal not an ever evolving snapshot of different time periods of our lives?  I know I can safely say that what I think is normal now, would not have been the norm for me 15 years ago.  As we grow older we get more and more cemented in this idea of a generalized normal behavior, or family, or look, and you know what happens, we subconsciously pass judgement on that person or situation.  Should we not be a little more forgiving for people’s different normals?  Why can we not envelop ourselves with just that, our own norm and families.   Who really cares what happens in the Jones house or how Sally dresses, those are all norms to them.  If we spent a touch more time looking within and stop worrying about what is happening all around us, this world would look incredibly different.  This is a glimpse at my new normal, because I have looked within to see that I like what I see and know that this will be an amazing ride, at least for me!

One year ago my normal daily routine was a little, well a lot, different from what it looks like today.  It looked even more different 5 years ago.  I have always been the one to wake up when the baby, or now babies, start to stir for a little sip of the liquid gold, aka breast milk.  For those who may have no kids or its been a while, the reaction for mom if you leave a little in the bottle or spill a splash of the milk, will give you the understanding on the term, “liquid gold.”  So I wake up first and start the diaper changing. Now being a veteran dad, I know the importance of regimented schedules and you should as well.  I am, however, a rookie multiples dad and its a little different.  If one gets up, the other is getting woke up for side by side feedings.  So diapers changed, bottles warming, and momma pumping the gold.  I feed the dreamboats and she helps burp and its back to bed.  All this is happening around 5 am, yes that means these boys are sleeping from 8 pm to 5 am, pretty darn consistently.  We are now convinced that there is something built into the psyche of the later babies in a big family, “I better be good, or I get no love,’  which of course is preposterous, but I will take it!  All in all, we are getting about 6 to 7 hours of continuous sleep!  Amazing, these little boys are spectacular!!  The rest of the day is a blur….

The bigs and middles, our little nicknames for the other boys, are adjusting as well to the new look of this family.  They tend to roll with the punches, but I think they are loving having these boys around as well.  There is a lot of love to go around and as this family has grown, so has the affection for life.  In the not so distant past I thought I would be a father to 2 boys and now when I look out on this landscape of my life I am ecstatic for the blessing of 7 sons.  I get to coach teams now until I am like 60, ok maybe not that long, but I won’t be a spring chicken when theses guys are teenagers.  I will be a mature and oh so wise father of 5 boys before who have made the mistakes and bad decisions that these boys will learn from.  So the new norm is, well pretty normal for this family and I would have my normal look no other way.  Carpe diem and enjoy whatever your normal consists of, and never compare what you have to what someone else’s normal looks like, you just never know who that someone may be.

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