Mega-Moms

December 31, 2009

Let the Ball Drop!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 10:27 pm

*** Cross-posted at all the Lotsofkids blogs. ***

It’s New Year’s Eve (at least in this part of the world). 2009 is almost gone and 2010 is standing before us. It was a difficult year for many people. Financial hardships and insecurity made the year a struggle for so many. That said, even though things were hard, the trials led so many back to focusing on what is important, such as family and friends, as well as simple living.

2009 was a difficult time for us over at Lotsofkids, as we had to focus our spare time on projects to help make money to pay the bills, including our server costs. Though things are not particularly better now, we are thankfully at a point where we can re-focus on the site and our blogs like we want to.

A big “thank you” to all of our followers here, as well as our wonderful Bloggers who have kept things going during this down time. We appreciate you all! We are looking forward to 2010 and hopes for better times. We are excited as the prospects and hopeful that in the coming weeks we’ll be getting things back to normal with regular blog posts and new content.

In the meantime (and while there is still a couple days left in the “holiday” season), we leave you with a little visual/musical gift created by me and my husband. We hope you like it…

May 12, 2009

Voluntary Population Reduction

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 7:33 pm

A couple of months ago, in the heat of the Octomom hype, there was a lot of buzz about a comment out of Great Britain where it was suggested that people should voluntarily stop having children. As owner of a large family site, Sky News contacted me for a comment on the piece. I don’t believe it was ever used, but while going through some of my notes, I found my quote. Since this is an issue that is still being debated heavily, I thought I would post my remarks to the idea here:

The idea of voluntary population control has been around for several decades. It picked up a lot of steam in the 1970s, when there were a lot of predictions of doom and gloom if people didn’t stop having children. So, people did stop having children, which is evidenced by a growing crisis in many countries that are finding their populations decreasing so rapidly, it is going to have disastrous results on their economies. The root of this issue is excess. People who have lived as if there is no tomorrow, indulging in grand lifestyles and consuming as much as they want. It’s easy to justify that lifestyle if you are not having children, because there is the argument that you are not creating a life that will consume more after you are gone. That’s an easy way out. Children are a resource too, one that needs to be replenished, just like the other resources of our world. The children of today are the workers and the inventors and the minds of the future which will tackle the issues of the next decades. It seems much more prudent for us to begin to change, to be more conscientious, and to pass on those qualities to our children. We need people, people solve problems. If we limit the number of people, that will not make the problems go away. Sure, some problems may eliminate themselves, but others will arise. We need the greatest resource…the human brain…to tackle those. Instead of fearing that there is no tomorrow, we need to stop living like there is no tomorrow and stop consuming so much. More importantly, we need to pass that on to the next generation. What good is there to save the earth if there will be no one to inherit it?

Oddly enough, this idea of voluntary reduction is more of a reality. Though it has nothing to do with being eco-friendly. People these days do not desire large families. 1-child families are the fastest growing family-size-of-choice in the U.S. and most other countries. There were no proclamations made to bring us to this point, just a focus on material living. I still think doom-and-gloom calls for action like the voluntary reduction proposal are meant more for the drama than anything. Most countries at this point are really worried about plummeting populations, not the opposite. My husband’s favorite saying is, “If we are trying to save the planet by not having more babies, who are we saving it FOR?”

May 5, 2009

As Our Mothers?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 6:16 pm

I was featured recently in an article in the Brazilian magazine IstoE Magazine. We did submit a photo, but it was not used. Here is a link to the article. I also have a translated version below. Note: I have to apologize since I don’t know Portugeuse and I don’t know anyone else who does. The translation was done using “Google Translate” and it is choppy in parts (if anyone would be willing to re-translate this for me, please let me know). Still, even with the sub-par translation, I still think you can get the gist. I have some commentary below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


As Our Mothers

Contrary to the statistics, some women have one child after another and are held with the house full.

Life in the house of Claudia Junqueira is lively and loud. At the time of eating, sleeping, doing duty at home or play, the excitement is guaranteed with four children. A “escadinha” composed by Arthur, 3 years, Clara, 7, Chloe, 10, and Max, 12, is sometimes encourged by school mates, to join the mess. “My four children were wanted and loved,” says the manager of 37 years. The family of Claudia contramão is in the statistics. While Brazil has fewer children, it is part of a minority who chose to have the house full.

Large families were the norm in a relatively close past. In the 70’s, the fertility rate was 5.7 children per woman. In 2000, dropped to 2.3 children, and among those with eight or more years of study, 1.6 children. According to the latest data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the numbers shrunk even more: 1.9 children per mother.

What motivates then some families to go against this trend? To Claudia and her husband, who come from homes full of brothers, is a natural choice. “Since I wanted a girl huge family,” explains Claudia. “The friends of my children love coming here because it is a house designed for children.” Businesswoman, it gives me a flexible schedule to monitor closely and dispensed small nanny and daycare.

For Marina Vasconcellos, couples and family therapist from the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), is essential to have financial planning and time when you decide to have a large offspring. “Having many children is a party, but they demand attention,” he says. The therapist says that, despite requiring dedication, children created with several siblings tend to develop with greater autonomy. From the biological point of view, the body of the woman with the winning maternity leaves.

Pregnancy reduces the risk of problems such as endometriosis, cancer of the breast and uterus. “In this sense, the more a pregnant woman, the better,” says gynecologist Nilce Donadio.

It is essential to have financial planning and time to dedicate when you decide to have a large offspring. The scriptwriter and writer Maria Mariana, 36 years, spent the last ten years alternating breastfeeding with pregnancy. Known by the book Confessions of Teenager, who became part of TV series and it is launching the book Confessions of a Mother, with the reflections during the pregnancies of cobbled Clara, 9 years, Laura, 7, Gabriel, 5, and Isabel, 2. “I always wanted to many, but I want one after the other,” says Mariana, who finds it easier to create more children than one. “They learn together.” After almost ten years living in the light of the children, she returns to work as a writer of Rede Record and says that getting out, despite the criticism. “I thought I was depressed, and had been abandoned,” says Mariana.

In countries with lower birth rates, having numerous offsprings, at least, looks suspicious. Michelle Lehmann, 38 years, secretary for a law firm in Chicago, is the mother of eight, aged between 13 and 2 years, and created the online community http://www.lotsofkids.com to help parents with many children to share experiences. “People think you’re irresponsible, or ignorant religious fanatic to have a larger family,” says Michelle. Slanting eyes are common when the Lehmanns leave the house.

CONFESSION OF MOTHER Maria Mariana was criticized by the break of ten years, which prioritized the children. From the fourth pregnancy, the secretary came to be treated differently. “I support the right of not having children or having small families,” says the secretary. “I only wish that I and my husband were more respected because we believe be wonderful to have more children.”

Besides the bias, these parents face the specter of not giving enough attention to all. “My children are very different, but I do a considerable effort to devote time to each of them,” says Michelle. Professor, Department of Psychology and Philosophy of Education, University of São Paulo (USP) Silvia Colella stated that the issue of attention is never resolved in conference. “Parents have to be critical,” teaches. “What you learn with a child not to apply to serve another.” It is this tireless dedication that makes true the saying: “In the heart mother, it is always one more.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While it’s not surprising, it is interesting to read about the challenges and negativity that large families get in other areas of the world. One thing in particular I found quite compelling is the birth statistics. Just as recently as the 70s, for Brazillian women there was a birth rate of nearly 5.7 children per woman. In just 40 years that has dropped to 1.9! I mean, even in the U.S. we saw the birth rates start decreasing in the 50s and 60s, and there was not nearly as steep of a drop.

Another thing I found particularly interesting in the article was this information:

Pregnancy reduces the risk of problems such as endometriosis, cancer of the breast and uterus. “In this sense, the more a pregnant woman, the better,” says gynecologist Nilce Donadio.

In a nutshell, multiple pregnancies can have positive benefits to a woman. This is an argument that many woman have used, but is widely dismissed by U.S. professionals as being anecdotal or unproven. Or, on the flipside, that the risks outweigh any possible benefits. So, who do you believe? Problem is, our country is very focused on the idea that women should be career-oriented and “responsible” in their child-rearing. It wouldn’t seem to fit in with that mentality to promote the benefits of having more than 1-2 children.

So, what are your thoughts? If you are reading from outside the U.S., how supportive are those around you of large families? We’d love to hear you weigh-in.

*** Cross-posted on the 4 or More blog. ***

April 30, 2009

A Tough Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 12:15 pm

When I heard that there was a new outbreak of the Swine Flu, I have to admit my response was more of weariness than concern. Now, I’m not downplaying the seriousness of the situation at all. It’s a dangerous flu and people have died–that’s not good at all. However, over the last couple of months my family has been wracked with one illness after another. Stomach bugs, flu bugs, and severe chest colds. There was one brutal week where literally everyone was so sick there was no one available to play nurse to the others. This culminated in me and 2 of my daughters getting pneumonia a few weeks ago. So, when the Swine Flu news hit, it was more of an “oh no, not more sickies” from me than anything else.

I am sharing this because I know this blog has been a bit slow over the last couple of months. It’s been a hard time for my family, as well as some of our other bloggers. Juggling a large crew is difficult enough. Throw in illness and general economic woes and things get even more harried. So, please forgive the quietness around here. It wasn’t intentional, and we don’t mean it to be permanent. I’m hopeful that this current flu will not turn into the horror story that it could and that soon everyone will be enjoying warm summer weather and be healthy…and blogging again.

I want to thank everyone who has been following this blog for your patience and continued support. We are working on getting things together and having more regular posts. We also hope to do a few interactive things with our readers–so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, remember to wash your hands and keep safe until this latest threat has passed.

***This message is cross-posted on the various LOK Blogs.***

March 8, 2009

Siblings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — kmomof12 @ 1:08 pm

I’m reposting an article I wrote in 2006. It’s archived over at Largerfamilies.com’s old blogger site. With the death of my brother in law, Tom’s younger brother, this weekend. This post seemed poignant So I’m sharing it here…. (this was written before Sean was born)

If my kids have nothing else in life, they’ll still have siblings. Someone to give them a hand up, someone to watch their back, and even someone to knock them down a peg when they need it. Growing up I was the oldest of three kids. I never wished for more siblings but I always knew I wanted lots of them for my kids…like my dad had.

My dad was one of thirteen children. His family is one of the closest tight knit groups I’ve ever met. I came to appreciate what it meant to have lots of siblings in Oct of ’97. My dad went in for by-pass and heart valve replacement surgery. He was convinced he wouldn’t survive. While my grandmother, mom, sister and I sat in the waiting room, my dad’s siblings came to visit. Some staying only a few minutes while on their lunch break, most staying with us all day. We took up a good deal of the waiting room and I felt a bit guilty. Not because I thought it was too much. But that others couldn’t have the support we had, especially when things got scary (he recovered and is doing well).

That day in the hospital reassured me I had made the right decision to have my then 8 children. There have been many times when I seriously doubted whether I was doing anyone a favor by giving them siblings. Some days it seems like all they do is bicker! It can get so bad that I’ve resorted to the…”With brothers/sisters like you….who needs enemies?” line. One time in particular when the bickering had been non-stop, I was down on myself about it. WHY can’t my kids get along? What am I doing wrong!?!

A friend pointed out that most siblings bicker. My kids just have more siblings to bicker with so it seems worse. When I looked at the individual instead of the group, I realized she was right. She also pointed out that they resolve the bickering and go back to being friends in no time. I must be doing something right. :o)

Having over 21yrs between my oldest and youngest I’ve been concerned with how they would relate. I’ve worried they’d become more aunt or uncle’ish to the little ones. So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening. I was pleasantly surprised on Monday night to find that everyone would be attending Olivia’s kindergarten graduation ceremony. They’ve attended so many in the past, I thought they’d “find” better things to do. Instead she had the biggest (and loudest) cheering section in the place! While people looked at us like we were uncivilized. I watched Olivia, standing on the stage, beaming from ear to ear, waving away while they cheered.

Something you hear spoken negatively about when a mega family is mentioned is…. “The younger kids are raised by the older ones.” I’ve tried my hardest to make sure this didn’t happen to my kids. Having kids was my choice, and is my responsibility! I did it for not only my older kids sake, but my younger ones as well. Afterall, who wants 10 parents…two are enough!

Nurturing is a totally different story. My kids can nurture each other all they want. It’s not only a big kids helping the little ones either. Yes, it’s great for a skinned knee to be able to get 10 extra kisses to make it feel better. But, the little ones have just as much to contribute in this department. A little sister climbing in a lap, wiping away tears and giving a bear hug can do way more then a mom’s shoulder can when a teen is dealing with heartbreak. Taking a break and snuggling with the baby is a great stress reliever for the college kids. Seeing your little brother admiring you with those…”Are you Superman?” eyes makes making the right decision a little bit easier.

I’m not sure how many siblings my kids will give their kids. As of now most say there’ll be many. I’ll take that as a sign that having a ton of siblings hasn’t harmed them too badly.


~~~~~~~~~~~
Kim is a mom to 12 kids ages 24yo to 18mos. She can also be found at her personal blog Musing Rambling and All Around Blathering, her food blog Growlies for the Gang and at LOK’s Large Family Cooking Blog

February 16, 2009

Now it’s personal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — kmomof12 @ 2:53 am

I’ve held off on posting over the Octuplet birth and ensuing large family geared stories, including one of the articles that talked about my family. Oh I started a post many many times, then I changed my mind. I read the comments from “my” article, and came running here ready to justify, defend and explain myself. Then I thought….why bother? I’ve never needed anyone’s approval before (otherwise I’d have only had 3 kids). I don’t know why I’m looking for it it now. Besides the people that are commenting there didn’t seem to have the capacity nor the desire to see the other side of anything.

Then I started seeing blogs around with opinions on this topic and I was surprised. There were the moms with “smaller” large families that thought having 14 kids was over the top. Or went beyond a mother’s limits. HUH? So YOU don’t like it when people with 2 or 3 kids criticize you or think you’re crazy. But because you’re part of the “club”, it’s ok for you to think the same thing about someone else? And there was those that thought the cleanliness of her house made her a less capable parent. In that case I shouldn’t have been able to parent any kids (I’ve been a messer all my life) Yet I still didn’t end up posting here about it.

Now I HAVE to, because it’s gotten personal. Where in the past comments and disapproval came in veiled or overheard conversation, tidbits being passed on by someone else or disapproving looks. Now it’s no holds barred. Everyone feels it’s ok to say what they’ve been thinking all these years. It’s like we’re walking around with “Kick Me Please” signs on our backside and everyone’s waiting in line for a turn. Tom won’t tell me everything that’s said at work but I guess it’s been brought up a few times. He has mentioned that they’ve said…No one should ever had that many kids. And that they should send her (octuplet mom) to China, they’ll bring her down to one kid really quick. (His first response to this idiot was….What kind of truck do you drive again?)

All along I’ve sarcastically said…Let’s give everyone a lifetime carbon allowance. When it’s gone, their life is over. Then we’d see who’s kids lived the longest. Now I’ve cut back the sarcasm and say…give us an allowance, when you (or your kids) go over…then you have to pay! Then we’d see how fast everyone starts backpedaling. What!?! Penalize me for being able to afford luxuries in life? Well, my children are my luxury, so what’s the difference? But I won’t be able to buy whatever I want, live in my too big for my needs house, travel or drive my 1 ton truck without being penalized! You got that right.

I can guarantee you that when one of my children reaches adulthood, the amount left in their allowance will be a lot greater then a child raised in an average family. I was once a part of group which aimed toward 90% reduction in carbon output. I can assure you that even before I joined the group, my family of 14 (all the kids were living home then) was AT the national average or below in almost all seven categories, except maybe food. Not 3x the average, not double the average…AT the average of an AVERAGE household of 4. So each of my kids get 1/14 of the household allowance, the kids in an average family get 1/4.

Yes, I know…everyone is going to start the…but then they grow up and become adults and create their own households. First off, most kids (I know, there’s always the exception) live according to how they’re raised. So they should continue their frugal (money and resource) ways. Secondly, I don’t know too many large family kids who move off and live on their own. It’s not in them to be alone. They’ll most likely find roommates and then eventually marry, maybe even to *gasp* someone from a small family. (after all those kids have to have a house and family too).

I don’ t know how many times I can say it to people. It’s not the kids that are the problem, it’s the lifestyles the kids are brought into. It’s consumerism. It’s corrupt government, rulers, etc that cause starvation in the world. It’s industry that creates double the emmissions of all living people in the US. We are .5% of all those people. Why are we being brought to the forefront in this dilemma? Why are any of my children any less important or precious then someone’s 1 or 2 children. Why are they less important then YOU?

I’ve been known to be my sarcastic self at times when dealing with over population people at Tom’s work. I tell Tom to tell them…if it’s so bad for the earth for us to be here. Then do your part…find a rope and use it. After all, you are breathing in precious oxygen, eating up resources and creating greenhouse gases. Funny how fast they decide the earth isn’t in THAT bad of shape. It’s always easy to hold a stance…when it only effects someone else.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Kim is a mom to 12 kids ages 24yo to 18mos. She can also be found at her personal blog Musing Rambling and All Around Blathering, her food blog Growlies for the Gang and at LOK’s Large Family Cooking Blog

February 14, 2009

Hugs, Kisses, and lots of chocolates today!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 4:39 pm

February 12, 2009

On a more positive note…

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 4:26 am

Despite my cranky reception to the New York Times article, I will have to admit the fruits have been quite nice. I have gotten so many nice emails and comments, praising the LOK sites in general, and embracing large families in particular. So, while the majority of the world may still bristle at the idea of families with more than 2 kids, there are a good number of people who feel it is a beautiful thing–or at the minimum that it’s a personal choice that shouldn’t be infringed on. “To each their own.”

One email in particular really struck me, from a 22 year old who was already thinking ahead to the future. The thought of raising any child in this world was a scary thought. However, after a lot of thought and reflection, he realized that raising a large family might be easier, since it would “provide emotional and moral support within itself much more so than a family with fewer children.” He then went on to note that Kurt Vonnegut suggested in his book, Slapstick, that a larger family could offer a great sense of belonging and identity.

It was kinda refreshing to hear the younger generation (yes, I sound so old at the ripe age of 38) viewing large families so objectively. Thing is, I *do* believe I have had an easier time with a large family. Now, I may not quite feel that way when I’m doing 10 loads of laundry over a weekend, but from the simple point of trying to raise kind, caring, and loving children –who will in turn take those qualities into adulthood–having a large family has been an amazing blessing.

I have been constantly told over and over that my kids show compassion far beyond that of their peers. They are said to be very thoughtful and polite. They do not bully others. In their classes, they are not only leaders, but helpers. One teacher was amazed that my 3 year old son was the first one in her preschool class to offer to assist another child with a task, on his own, without prompting. People will praise my parenting, but I almost always defer to the fact that being raised in a large family has taught my children how to be respectful, kind, and work with each other. Now, I’m not saying my kids are perfect. We have far too many “screaming and kicking” moments for me to delude myself on that. Not to mention, I don’t think large families have cornered the market on raising good kids. However, in general, I do believe this is one of the many benefits of a large family.

After reading this email, it got me to thinking of all the benefits that being in a large family have for children. That reminded me of one of my favorite articles. I think it better sums it up than I could and I think is worth a read: Advantages of a Large Family

***Cross-posted on the 4 or More blog***

February 10, 2009

Slow News Week?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 12:58 pm

As the news of the octuplets continues to monopolize the airwaves, I continue to scratch my head. Generally people jump on “non-issue” stories like this when there is nothing else to report. However, there is enough news to go around. Take the wildfires in Australia. I was shocked how long that took to really come into the public eye, particularly when it is such a terrible tragedy. In the U.S., we are continuing to struggle with a failing economy which as our president has now said is nearing mass critical levels. Our government is struggling to pass a stimulus package to somehow save the day. Yet, when you poke around the message boards and chatrooms, the main buzz is still those 8 babies and their “crazy mother.” Now, perhaps that is because this issue does hit home as people make connections to our economic woes. People are afraid 8 more children on the welfare rolls could break the system. Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but only a little. I do know that unemployment and foreclosure have been talked to death, and this adds fresh meat to the late night chatter, but still…it’s not really all that important in the grand scheme of things.

I suppose we will be hearing more about Nadya Suleman over the next few weeks as her children grow stronger. I must say, though, seeing the pictures of those babies in the hospital warmed my heart. No matter what you feel about the mother and her decision, you just have to look at one of those tiny souls to understand why someone might do something as crazy as having 8 at once. Not that you’ll see me doing something like that anytime soon, but still.

So, the spotlight will shine brightly, and the newscasters will pontificate and criticize. People will rant about Suleman’s mental health. Reporters like Matt Lauer will announce with certainty that parents with more than 2-3 kids can’t possibly take care of them. Everyone will point and “ooh” and “ahh” and chortle.

And then it will be over. The lights will go away, the reporters will go home. This mother who has had a constant wave of publicity, attention, and help (whether she asked for it or not) will suddenly be alone…and overwhelmed. Ask a mom who has twins or triplets how challenging that can be. I cannot even imagine handling 8 babies at once. Whether we agree with her choice or not, in the end Nadya and her family will have to care for these babies. Whether she gets welfare or not, the ultimate job of bringing up those children up will be the mother’s. Ironically, the most interesting time to report on this story will be when the news cameras go home. I suppose we’ll get a follow-up report a year from now when there is a string of articles declaring “The Octuplets Turn 1.” However, will it give us a true picture of the 12 months in-between?

I have to be quite honest and say that while many in the large family community are offering their support of this woman’s choice, I *am* critical of it. I am holding a lot of resentment because many of us are being judged by her standards. Me and my husband were always thoughtful when adding each child to my family, and it’s hard to have people disregard that fact because they can simply point to Suleman and argue otherwise. In the end, however, whatever my feelings for how these babies were conceived, I have a lot of sympathy for the octuplet mom. Caring for those 8 little ones is not going to be easy, even with outside help. Just ask any of the other famous parents of higher-order multiples. Often they are brought to tears in interviews when thinking of the challenges…even years later. There is a reason the vast majority of large families have kids spread out over many years. Simply put, it’s much easier–even though it’s not really easy at all for large families under normal circumstances.

I will admit, I’ll be thankful when the media coverage of this story is over and there is a new “flavor of the moment” to focus on, drawing attention away from large broods (that is until Brad and Angie have another kid). I will be quite happy for my family to return to normal “freak” status, rather than “freak of the moment” status. Still, I again have to say that as much as I want the limelight to fade, I feel a bit concerned for Nadya when it does, because reality is going to sink it far too soon.

Then, as much as I think about that inevitable day when the reporters will go home and Nadya will be all alone…and believe me there are lonely periods even in a large family…I have to remember one factor that we have now that we didn’t a decade ago. Reality may hit her in a much different way. Reality TV, that is. “Nadya with 14” would be a ratings monster, I imagine. Though I won’t be watching. I’ll be busy raising, and loving, and caring for my relatively tiny family of 8. And loving every minute of it.

February 8, 2009

Reflections…

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 5:51 pm

I will admit I feel a little bad about my negative rant below, particularly since I have had so many people tell us that we looked great in the article and they thought it was only slightly negative. As always, a lot of support from families of all sizes.

Reflecting on how smaller families perceive us, and misunderstand us, I think one of my friends put it best, talking about an outsider’s look into the large family lifestyle:

“The article has a slightly negative tenor. This is a bit of a stretch, but for analogy’s sake, I liken it almost to faith… or religion. Outsiders are not going to understand. They are going to send in their ‘analysts,’ who aren’t really trying to understand, either. They will report their findings which will be colored by their prejudged, preformed opinions. And call it ‘facts.’ Those of us who are practicing this life, this ‘faith,’ if you will, who are living it and know what the truth is can only smile & represent as best we can.”

Thanks to all of you who helped me put it into better perspective. I guess I was a prime example of what the article was trying to show…that large families can (and often do) feel like we are being attacked.

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