Mommy Soup

How soup for 7 really works.

Back Labor

A friend of mine recently posted her birth story.  She had back labor and it got me thinking about all the times I had heard about other people who had back labor.  It’s supposed to be terrible, far worse than “regular” labor.  

Back labor is typically caused by 1 of 2 things:

1) a baby who is facing the wrong way (with the hard back of their head pressed against the mother’s tailbone instead of facing the other way)

or

2) the natural wiring of the mother’s nervous system.

An example of the second cause is where a woman feels menstrual cramps.  If they’re in the front, that’s how you’re wired.  If you feel them in your back, you’ll probably have back labor.  My whole life, my cramps have always been in my back.  Of my 5 children, all 5 had what can be described as back labor.  That means I don’t really have any understanding of what “regular” feels like.  Even then, I’ve felt a lot of different things.  Oh, and baby number 5 was born facing the wrong way.  Technically, that means my 5th labor was double back labor.

You know what?  I don’t see what all the fuss is about.  Pushing out a baby hurts.  No one who has had a natural childbirth will ever say that it felt like going to a spa.  It’s uncomfortable.  But the pain of back labor isn’t an impossible task to push through.  It’s just a literal pain in the ass instead of a pain in the gut.

End rant.

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My Sister, Lyra

Anyone who talks to me for more than 20 minutes knows that I have a sister.  She’s a common topic for me because I really really like her a lot.  Since I got to spend a day hanging out with her and remembering all the things I love about her, you get to read a blog about her.

My sister is amazing.  Growing up, I always admired her.  She’s gorgeous, for one.  Natural blond thick hair with a natural flick at the ends.  Eyes so blue they look like the water around Greece.  A smile that brightens every room and a laugh that is truly infectious.  Yeah, that’s my sister.  I used to call her Barbie with a better personality.  On top of the looks, she’s a really good person.  She donates her time to an amazing charity that helps kids with serious skin conditions.  And she has always made her little sister feel special.

I have brothers, too, though most people don’t know that.  Even those who do know often forget.  My brothers aren’t a part of my life.  Kumani, the brother I was closest to as a child, hasn’t spoken to me in 15 years or seen me in 17.  He has 2 sons and I’ve never met them. I only found out about the 2nd son because his girlfriend at the time was registered on Babies R Us.  I was pregnant with my 2nd son at the time and had a registry on the same website.  My maiden name was linked to it and when I searched for it, there was my brother’s name with a boy due the same month as me.

That type of distance will never happen with my sister.  She’s always been there for me.  Even more impressive, she’s never made me feel like I was the little sister tagging along.  There’s 11 years between us, but she always invited me to hang out with her.  We went to Hawaii together when I was 14.  Just me and her.  It was awesome!  The best part was that I was her buddy, not just her sister.  When I got older, we would go on snowboarding trips and random road trips.  Without a doubt, she was always my best friend.

When I was pregnant with Persephone, I was terrified that things would change with Lyra and I.  I mean, how was I going to run off and play with my sister when I had a baby to take care of?  (I admit, my husband wasn’t a concern.  I still would have gone off for weekends with my sister.  Sorry, Ant!)  Instead, my sister became the best aunt I’ve ever seen.  The more babies I had, the more involved she was.  Lyra was there for 4 of my births and only missed the 5th because everyone did (hell, I almost missed it!).  She calls my kids her little monkeys and makes them individual monkey quilts.  

I don’t remember my mom ever saying to Lyra, “And take your sister with you.”  I always remember my sister asking if I could come and I love her for that (and many other things).  I know have a gaggle of children, but she still hangs out with me.  She’s even brave enough to go out in public with me and all these kids.  She organizes the local Tour de Cure and caters the children’s section to my kids.  

When Calandra was born, I was really excited that she was fair like my sister.  Looking at the two of them together, you’d swear that Callie is Lyra’s daughter.  The rest of my kids are brunettes.  I’m taller than my big sister, so she bought me a lot of really cool sister stuff with a tall brunette and a short blonde.  Those same things are now being passed on to my girls.  Whenever I see them snuggling, I’m instantly transported back to all the times I cuddled with my sister.  My biggest hope is that Persephone will be as good of a big sister as Lyra has been.  And that she will have inside jokes with her sisters the way Lyra and I do…BOOGER CARDS!!!

And now, just for my sister, Spiderman!

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Adventures in Public

Over the past few days, our whole motley crew has been going out to stores.  For some reason, there tend to be a lot more comments from people when we go to stores.  It seems to freak people out that our big family does mundane things.  Going to the park: no big deal!  Going shopping: reason for open mouth gawking!

Anyway, the first big shopping trip was to Trader Joe’s.  The comments began before we even got in the store.  A woman was trying to get her 2 sons into some carts.  Her older child was rolling on the floor because the younger one was sitting in the cart.  Apparently the older one wanted to ride, too.  The poor mom ended up grabbing 2 different carts.  She looked like she was about to give up on the whole shopping thing…and then I walk up.  I’ve got a baby on my back, a toddler in my cart, and 3 kids holding hands around the cart.  She stared for second, and then said (with a straight face), “Gosh, you have your hands full.”  Seriously, lady?  Your 5 year old is rolling on the ground and I’m the one with her hands full?  I just smiled.  Actually, I think I tried to say something first but ended up doing my trout impersonation.  You know, open mouth, close mouth, open mouth…then I smiled and walked into the store.

If you’ve ever been to a Trader Joe’s, you know that the bananas are about 15 feet in the door.  That seems to be the standard set up.  Yeah, that’s how far we got before another comment.  We were picking out about 15 bananas (no, I’m not exaggerating) when I suddenly got a creepy feeling.  You know, like someone was watching me and invading my space bubble.  I turned and there is a little (like, under 5 feet tall) old lady reaching for Moose on my back.  Seriously, her hand was about 6 inches from my baby’s face.  Instead of apologizing for trying to touch my baby, she launches into the usual series of questions: are they all mine, how old are they, are any twins, are they all girls…she engaged me in a 10 minute conversation!  I’m pretty snarky and sarcastic by nature, but I can’t seem to be mean to strangers.  So there I am, trapped at the bananas while an old woman and her husband talk to me about their 2 grandchildren and my decision to procreate.  Ugh, this trip is not going well.

We were shopping for about an hour (because I’m a shopping ninja with 5 kids in tow) and were stopped by all 12 of the other people in the store.  We even got comments from the employees!  Is it really that strange to see a family at the store?  And why do people feel the need to comment?

Pregnancy seems to destroy people’s brain to mouth filters, but why does having more than 2 kids have the same effect?  None of the comments are new or witty.  Hell, in our trip to Home Depot today 75% of the people who commented asked if we had all girls.  And that’s not the most common question.  100% of all the people who said something to me about my family in the last 3 days asked if they were all mine.  Huh?  My answer is always a smile and a polite, “Yes.”  What really goes through my head is more along the lines of, “No, I just picked them up outside and thought it’d be fun to drag them along.”  Oi.

Why do people assume all my children are girls?  Sometimes I can kinda see it with Dimitrios, but Lucius is really masculine.  His hair is short (by my standards), he has a very strong jaw (for a 3 year old), and even gravitates toward more masculine clothes.  And yet, people still assume he’s a girl.  Why don’t they ever ask if I have all boys?  I don’t gender stamp the kids, so there are days when all 3 girls are in dark, masculine clothes.  Still, Persephone and Calandra seem to scream “girl.”  Theron, as a baby, is still in that squishy unisex age, so I can understand a little confusion with her.  But my boys look like boys to me.  When I answer the “all girls” comments by saying I have boys, people typically ask if the baby is a boy.  Wha?!?!  Um, no. Sigh.

I’m okay with questions when they’re real questions.  Asking me about the kids’ ages and genders is fine with me.  Go ahead and strike up a conversation about home school or my children’s personalities.  I’m really proud of them.  I like to talk about them.  But I hate those questions made as statements and I loathe assumptions. Don’t state that my hands are full. Honestly, they are no more full with 5 than they were with 1.  There are challenges to every family size and I certainly don’t need pity for mine.  I love my kids and I’m proud to have this many.  Blah!

The moral of this rant is don’t say dumb things!  🙂  If you see someone with a big family, don’t say the “witty” comments that come to mind.  I can promise you that you aren’t the first to say it.  You may not even be the first to say it THAT DAY!

Heck, one day, I might just snap at the strangers who come up to me.

You know, maybe I’ll frown or something.

Darn.  I really need to work on being mean.

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Sure, WordPress, give me inspiration

What was the one experience that completely changed your life? What happened? How did it change your life?

I’m sure that the expected answer to this would be somethings like “the day I met my husband” or “when I became a mom.”  Don’t get me wrong, those were pretty life changing.  It’s just that I have 5 kids and to say that 1 changed my life more than the other would be pretty messed up.  My life wouldn’t have led me to Ant if it weren’t for an event way back in my life…

The day that the Montessori school I went to lost another teacher.

Yeah, that was the day that set me on the path to meeting Ant.

4th grade.

Okay, let me explain.

The public school system in California is crappy.  Famously crappy.  I mean, we’re this big state with tons of people (and therefore a ton of taxable income to go to schools), but the schools are terrible.  And the teachers are burned out on horrible pay.

The one exception that I’ve found in the public school system was the public Montessori school I went to from kindergarten to the beginning of 4th grade.  Looking back, I know that it was because the school was pretty much run by parental participation.  Not the cute lip service parent help you get now (Oh, good for you, Mrs Smith.  You brought cupcakes and and can supervise coloring).  I mean serious parental help.  Like, parents who helped write lesson plans because there was no way to know if the class would have a teacher the next year.  Or parents who took it upon themselves to donate almost every book in the school library.  That was how the school survived.

The sad thing was that teachers didn’t stay long.  My teacher through K and 1st grade left after my 1st grade year.  Same with my 2nd/3rd grade teacher.  When I started 4th grade and the teacher announced that she would only be there a few months, it was the last straw for my mom.  And that was the moment that changed my life.

My mom pulled me from the school and had me tested to enter a private Christian school.  The results of that test were the first time I realized that I was smarter than other kids my age.  Arriving at that school was the first time I ever felt judged.  My mom affectionately says that being at that school taught me how to deal with idiots.

Traditional school (instead of Montessori) made me bored and forced my mom to unschool/homeschool me part time at home to keep me interested.  That, in turn, made me a self starter when it came to learning.  It taught me how to think instead of just memorize.  I’d say that’s pretty life changing.

It also put me on the path to meeting Michelle McGoon.  She was my best friend for over a decade and also introduced me to a girl named Erika.  I called her Erka.  Michelle was smart and gave me a link to the smart people world (though my experience at that school taught me to hide my intelligence) and Erka was…well, she was not.  Because she was in a different educational circle, she was also in a different social circle.  It opened up a whole new group of friends for me.  Most of them never left Pinole, so it gave me friends to hang out with when I was in town from college.

Hanging out with those friends led me to a 7-11 parking lot.  Don’t judge me; its a really small town.  Anyway, sitting in front of 7-11 with my friends after work is what led me to get into an “argument” with a friend’s co-worker over which was a better Honda: a ’88 Civic or a ’88 Accord.  I drove the Civic.  Ant drove the Accord.  The rest is my family soup.

The Campbell 5

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Making Old Crayons Newer (and Better)

My kids have broken about a million crayons in their time on this earth.  And with toddlers (as I always seem to have), those things are forever rolling across my floor.  So what should you do when your crayons are taking over your life?  Make them new and exciting!

broken crayons

1.  Pre heat your oven to 250 degrees.

2.  Take all the paper off of your old, broken crayons and put them in a plastic bag.  Beat on them with a hammer or tenderizer until they’re in smaller pieces.

3.  Using tin foil cups as a liner, fill a muffin tin with about 1 inch of crayons.  OR, you can do what I did for a little more fun and use some silicon molds.

(Optional)  For some extra sparkle, add some extra fine glitter to the crayon pieces.

4.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the wax is melted.

5.  Let the tin or mold cool.  Pop put the crayons and they’re ready to use.

Star Wars crayons

Enjoy!  And, yes, those are the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo in Carbonite, and R2-D2 crayons.

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A New Leaf

This is going to be a long, all over the place post.  We did a lot this week and it was all so much fun that I have to tell you about it.  Stick with me, people.  I’ve got some fun ideas.

I hate resolutions.  I think they’re crap.  If you aren’t willing to make those changes during the rest of the year, why do you think changing a calender is going to change your life?  I didn’t make any resolutions, but I decided to take advantage of all the planning sites that go up around this time of year to help refine the stuff I already do.

I found and modified a cleaning calender to help organize all the stuff I have to do.  7 days into the new year, and I already feel less overwhelmed by all the cleaning I do.  Being able to check it off makes me feel less like I’m not getting anything done.  It’s amazing just how much I do when I write it down.  I thought I was much lazier.

On a more fun note, my husband and I decided to make the first weekend of the new year a playful and productive one.  We found that our fire place generates more warmth than our heater (and is way more fun).  We found a tree cutter (from a big family) who gave us enough wood for the rest of the winter FOR FREE!!!  We don’t have an ax, so Ant spent a few hours with a skill saw splitting it.  Pretty amusing.  🙂

fireplace

We also invited Ant’s cousin (Grace) and my BFF (Andy) over for dinner and candy making.  Yeah, that was fun.  There were chocolate Darth Vaders and vanilla Storm Troopers everywhere.  I think I might start selling these things, because they’re awesome!  Oh, and thanks to my husband’s secret recipe turkey burgers and mac and cheese made with Star of David pasta I got on sale, feeding 9 people only cost us about $10.  Yeah, that’s how we roll.

Storm Trooper Chocolate Vader Chocolate

I also had the unfortunate experience of giving myself a mild chemical burn with some stuff that had expired.  Great inspiration for cleaning out my crap.  And clearing out all my make up and nail polish gave me and the kids a chance to do another fun art project.  About 2 years ago, Persephone and Dimitrios helped me “paint” a poster board with all my old make up.  Lots of red lipstick and blue eyeliner went into that.  This time, Lucius and Calandra got to do it, too.  Mascaras, eye shadows, and glitter in every color made it onto this one.  It now holds a place of honor next to the last one in our main room.  Excellent use of some crap I would have just thrown out.

art

I did the same thing with a bunch of nail polish that had split and couldn’t be used anymore.  I did some drip art with it and covered all the wet polish with nail shimmer.  It came out way better than I thought it would and, once again, it was an excellent use of some stuff I would have just thrown out.

Nail Polish Art

Clearing out all that stuff emptied out almost everything from under my sink and in my medicine cabinet (my husband and I have our own sinks and stuff) and now I have enough room to try something I saw on Pinterest.  Goddesses help me, I’m officially a Pinner.

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