Bergman's Bruisers

A Look Into My Life Of Raising Four Rough
And Tumbly Boys

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Family Love

We were so excited when Godmother Bailey and Aunt Pat decided to take a break from the cold, Michigan weather and spend a week with us in lovely Texas.  Of course, Texas weather is extremely unpredictable, but most of the days were sunny enough to hang outside. 

The Bergman brothers, lock and loaded, for some two, three, and four-wheeled fun.  An adventure to the local playground is always on the agenda.

 The horrible summers in Texas are made bearable by the mild winters.  We took full advantage and enjoyed some frozen yogurt--outside!

Steve got us all hooked up to Skype with Grandma and Grandpa Pits--on the big screen, no less! The kids each stood on the bench and told them their most recent accomplishment.
Harrison- I stopped sucking my thumb!
Gavin- I'm riding my bike with only one training wheel!
Cannon- (as told by me, but he was able to stand and celebrate) I went pee on the potty for the first time today!!
Editor's note: amazing that during the entire skype session--about 30 minutes, there was maybe, and I am being generous here, maybe three seconds of Grandpa on the screen, but somehow that was the money shot!  Sorry, Grandma.

Harrison and G-Jo's favorite game is playing Scrabble.  After much coercion I sat down to play and I must admit, it's a really, really fun game.  It's the kind of game you can talk to the people around you when it's not your turn, you only really have to focus when you're up.  Perfect nerdy-party game.

Our days and nights were jam-packed with fun.  We went from cruising the local playground to a  night of bowling.   We had one and a half hours to experience all the bowling fun possible.  Towards the end Justin and Alex were going for the fastest ball, the best ball with the left hand, and I'm pretty sure there were even a few between-the-legs shots.

My boys loved all the special attention they received!  They were never left without a helping hand or a lap to snuggle into.   Here Aunt Pat and Cannon are experiencing a fun kids' game on Aunt Pat's new iPhone.  I'm not sure who was having more fun.  It's amazing the apps that are available for those darned iPhones....Tabata timer, zombie picture maker, not to mention the infamous Words With Friends app....but that's another Blog entirely.

We surprised Harrison at school one day for lunch. He had the cutest coy look on his face as he walked into the cafeteria seeing all the ladies waiting for him.  Harrison is an outcast in that he doesn't L-O-V-E Chick-a-Filet like the rest of us, so we even made a special trip to McDonald's for his favorite lunch.

Cannon couldn't get enough of his Godmother Bailey or "Baaa" as he calls her.  I would like to say Cannon tempered his meanness while in the presence of his Godmother, but that would be a lie. 

The Bergman boys are known for a lot of things and playing games is one of them.  Whether it's Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, Fibber,  or a heated game of Bingo, the Bergmans are IN.  Add Steve to the mix and the game (whatever it is) goes to a whole new level...point in case: Bingo.  A simple game, really.  But not when Steve is in charge of drawing the letters/ we have prize money involved.  Steve thought he was a shoo-in to get all his money back seeing that those playing were his wife and two sons.  Oh, but he hadn't figured in Aunt Pat's very competitive nature.  Guess who walked away with the winnings?

Case in point for the Bergman Boy's game-playing nature.  They convinced Aunt Pat to put on a silly pair of glasses and get caught "fibbing" in a game by it's own name: Fibber.
Cannon has decided he's ready to potty train.  Well, scratch that, he's ready to not wear a diaper.  As for peeing in the potty......oh, he's peeing alright-- on the floor, carpet, and anywhere else the mood strikes him--and then finds a willing adult to come "see" hit potty.   You know, just when you think you got this whole parenting thing down...

We had such a good time with Patti and Bailey.  It was sooo sad to see them go.  I mean, like emotionally need-to-pull-it-together sad.   Please hurry back; three boys are waiting at the door.  We love you guys!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Uncle Alex

I remember as a thirteen year-old hanging in my grandparents basement with my older cousin. She was cool, pretty, and I wanted to be just like her.  Unbeknownst to my parents, she was entertaining me in the basement showing me how to smoke.  Like, not smoke smoke, but she showed me how to tap a cigarette, hold it in my fingers, and even let me pretend to inhale.  Not harmful, but scandalous nonetheless.   I knew if my parents caught me I'd be dead, but that probably added to the excitement of it.  I think that's part of childhood--doing something you know your parents wouldn't approve of.  The key is for it to be something that's really not that harmful and also for them to not find out.

Skip to many years later, for my kids that older cousin has returned in the form of Uncle Alex.  And, instead of unlit cigarettes it was hours of watching 'The Walking Dead' and instead of trying to hide it from me they told me from day one and everyday there after how cool and amazing it was!

 Not only have they told me, they have told anyone who will listen that they watched this violent, foul-mouthed, adult-content show.  Gavin told me after school last week, "I told my teacher in chapel today I watched The Walking Dead."  Harrison told one of the carpool kids he's on season two, episode five!  What??

My conversation with Alex went like this:

No apologies, no remorse!  It was my young, impressionable son's fault!

So, was it harmful what Uncle Alex did? You be the judge--Steve and I have had maybe one night alone in bed without scared kids sleeping in between us.  I have had more then one side-eye look from other parents when my kids openly discuss their new favorite show. And, Gavin has become obsessed obsessed with zombies.  It's all he talks about.

He told me he saw over one hundred zombies in the back yard; he donned his most 'Walking Dead' lookalike costume and spent the next few hours outside slaying them all.

Go ahead and try convincing him zombies aren't real.  Your face will be blue and he'll still be insisting he saw one just the other day. 

I hope Alex has children one day if only so I can get my revenge.  I don't know that I could go so far as to show my young niece or nephew a movie that will haunt them for years.  But, what I can do is introduce them to a show like Barney and help them create an obsession--leaving Alex to spend all of his free time watching a fat, purple dinosaur sing songs. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Third Child

If I had a search engine on this blog and typed "mom guilt" a hundred posts would pop up.  The mom guilt is a recurring feeling I continuously am keeping at bay.  I know it's a feeling most mothers wrestle with, some just seem to cope better then others.  Me?  I suck at it.  I feel personally responsible for the "good, the bad, and the ugly" regarding my kids.  Of course, the good is good.  I love it.  It's the bad and the ugly I could live without.

So, here's the truth of it.  I have an aggressive kid.  Cannon pulls hair, pinches, scratches, and bites when he doesn't get his way.  Sometimes he does it just for kicks.  I have been a mother for seven years and for the first time recently I had to do the walk of shame and leave a playground because Cannon kept pulling kids hair.  I don't know why.  I can't give the reason for it.  What I can give is all the reasons everyone else has given me as to why he does it.  None of which I like.  I don't like the idea that my baby is aggressive because of his birth order, or because he has two older brothers, or most importantly, because he has to fight for my attention. 

It's the last reason that really stings the most.  Like, if only I could be more, do more, love more my child would be more Mother Theresa and less Ozzy Osbourne.

All that does is make me feel like I have somehow failed him.  It's that mom guilt creeping up on me.  Why does it always seem to come back to the mom as something she is or isn't doing? I have been doing a lot of deep-down Momma soul-searching lately and have come to a couple conclusions. 

I have worked as a neonatal nurse for twelve years.  I can, without-a-doubt, confirm that we are born with our personalities. Lady Gaga got it right when she said, "baby, you were born this way."  Yes, our environment will shape and bend us to fit our culture, family, and surroundings.  But, our temperament and disposition are God-given.  The good, the bad, and the ugly are all meant to be.  Does this mean I accept my baby bully and let him leave a trail of scratches and bite marks wherever he goes?  No.  But what it does mean I have to learn to accept that even on Cannon's nicest day he's maybe not going to give a round of hugs to our family.  It doesn't mean we've done something wrong as parents--he just is who he is. Like all of us he has a purpose here, I like to believe a God-given purpose. My prayer is his aggression will translate into determination which will turn into success.  In the meantime I'm left apologizing to children's parents, forcing hugs after bites, and accepting the bad and the ugly isn't always so bad.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thumb Addict

Harrison has been a thumb-sucker since he was four months old. Besides making him the best sleeper ever, it was cute to watch my baby suck his thumb with his little blankie.  So reminiscent of my own childhood that I didn't think of the long-term consequences. I sucked my thumb until I was twelve.  I know, cue the gasp, it was a l-o-n-g time!  Like most habits, what starts off very innocent turns into a full-blown addiction with serious side effects.  My first clue that this habit was going to turn ugly was during a dentist visit at age three when I was told his thumb-sucking was creating an already-high palate even higher.   My wake-up call was our most recent visit to the dentist when he told us Harrison's front top-teeth weren't coming down like they should creating a pinkie-width gap when his jaw closed. The dentist offered a solution of a $450 thumb guard to be placed in his mouth that would make the habit very uncomfortable.  We left the office with me searching the internet to find what I knew I had to find. 

 My sweet little thumb sucker.  So cute!

The dreaded nasty tasting nail polish that, when applied to your thumb nail, made your whole mouth burn.  I hated this stuff as a kid and hated even more the idea of doing it to my own kid.  But, Harrison said he was ready to quit and willing to try anything. He was willing to try anything because I promised him we'd all go to the Great Wolf Lodge if he was successful.  I said we'd rather spend money on a water park then a metal guard in his mouth.
Harrison had two more days of  blankie and thumb bliss before Amazon arrived with our tool.  I thought it would be far more traumatic then it actually was.  Harrison willingly allowed me to apply the nail polish and after Steve's encouragement he even tried to see how it tasted.  Harrison gagged and sputtered rolling on the floor in full-on drama telling us how "disgusting" it was.  

I have been pleasantly surprised with how easy this process has been.  Harrison said he wasn't going to suck his thumb anymore and he hasn't looked back. I thought he was tricking me on night four when he told us we didn't need to add the nail polish because he had already kicked the habit, but he even put his blanket on the floor so he wouldn't be tempted.
Point scored for me that we have made it to the other side with little to no tears shed and, hopefully, have left Harrison feeling empowered that he can succeed when he puts his mind to something.  I can't wait to go back to the dentist in six months and hear Harrison tell him he is no longer a thumb-sucker! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Decade

I'm certainly not an expert when it comes to marriage and how to make it blissfully happy. Early on in our marriage I would ask people who had been married much longer then me the secret to their longevity.  I thought I would discover the 'holy grail' of secrets that would ensure smooth sailing in my marriage.  I never found that answer and somewhere around year seven I stopped asking.  I have since learned marriage is much like anything else in life, it's what you make of it.  We choose to either relish in each others qualities or fester in the flaws. Luckily, Steve and I relish much more then we fester.

What seems to be the positive driving forces in our marriage are  the challenges that we create for one another--being that perfect balance between your biggest supporter and your hardest opponent. An example you need? "Hey, Gretch, I think we need to move across the country for a job opportunity.  I'll go on ahead, you stay behind and sell the house and take care of the kids, yes, I know that includes a newborn."

"Steve, I don't think I can handle all of this by myself, I can't do it,"  says I.

And then he spoke the words that made me want to punch him in the nose (yes, truly, punch him in the nose or maybe scratch his face, but definitely something that induced pain), Steve said, "how do you know what you can or can't handle until you try?"

He challenged me and I didn't want to fail.  He could've held my hand a little more, coddled me and whispered sweet nothings, but I wouldn't have emerged feeling the empowerment that I do.  

I think one of the best things we offer each other is the encouragement to be our best self.

On our honeymoon Steve and I got into a huge fight.  I really can't remember the details of it, just that it was BIG.  The night ended with us promising each other that if (at that moment it was a BIG if) we made it to ten years we would return to Montreal to celebrate our achievement.  An achievement because marriage is hard work.  It's not for the wimpy or faint of heart. While I never forgot about the promise we made on our honeymoon, I had long given up on the idea of returning to Montreal.  The promise was made long before kids, responsibilities and, frankly, life took over.  Steve completely shocked me when he told me two weeks before our anniversary that not only were we going back but the tickets and hotel had already been booked.  He's learned me well enough over the years to know that I would give a thousand reasons why we shouldn't take such a frivolous trip.  I can't argue with non-refundable tickets.  After much childcare planning and endless help from our parents and friends, we boarded a plane to celebrate.  We re-visited some of the old memories while creating some new ones.

Notre Dame Basilica 
February 2003 
 Praying for our marriage

We decided to light not one, but two, candles this time in dedication to our family and marriage.

Notre Dame Basilica 
February 2013

Sentimental Steve reserved our room at the same hotel we stayed at ten years ago.  
Ahhhhh, so sweet.

It was cold with a capital C. We had to stop and buy this quilted-blanket coat just to walk the streets.

 We stopped in for lunch at the famed Schwartz Deli.  The dining space was more then tight.  Needless to say, we made conversation with the strangers around us.

Steve thought he'd 'pop-in' for confessional.  Luckily for the priest, confession had just ended. That priest might have been there a while listening to Steve's long list of offenses.
 We made another deal: that if when we hit the twenty year mark will return for a third time and bring our children.  And.....we went ahead and agreed that spring or summer would still have the same sentimental effect without the bitter cold.