The 9.8 million viewers of TLC’s Jon and Kate Plus Eight recognize Kate Gosselin as the practical mom of eight who has come into their homes for over 100 episodes of her family’s hit reality show. In this I Just Want You to Know Ebook, Kate reveals a grateful and faith-filled mother who only wants the best for her children and is willing to sacrifice to make that happen. The story covers the three years her family lived in their Elizabethtown home, a period Kate considers one of the happiest of her life. In it she discusses the individuality of eight kids (all under the age of six) transitioning from the chaos of caring for infants to the structured days of a home filled with budding preschoolers, as well as her thoughts on communication, everyday miracles, and providing a safe home. During that time, Kate discusses her family’s unique challenges from daily schedules to traveling, her need for control to learning how to be flexible, the individuality of all eight kids, how God provided every day, and her faith that held it all together.
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I Just Want You to KnowLetters to My Kids on Love, Faith, and Family
By Kate Gosselin
ZondervanCopyright © 2010 Katie Irene Gosselin
All right reserved.
Chapter OneORDINARY IN AN EXTRAORDINARY WAY
We pulled into the parking lot at Friendly's restaurant for one of our rare dinners out. I got out of our Big Blue Bus and was reaching in for one of the kids when a black dog ran over and started licking my leg. Though he was obviously a fan of my leg, I wasn't a fan of the dog. I looked around and saw his owner, an older lady.
"Excuse me, could you please put him on a leash?" I asked.
"You want me to do what?"
"Could you put him on a leash? I have to get my kids out of the car and some of them are scared of dogs."
"I will not!" she said indignantly.
Another lady in a van parked nearby had watched the encounter. "What did she say?" she asked the woman with the dog.
"She told me to put him on a leash, and I said I wouldn't."
At that point, Jon and I just tried to do the best we could. We got all eight of the kids out of the bus and assembled in a line holding hands, steering clear of the dog still panting at my ankles.
"They were just on TV," the van lady said to the dog lady.
Jon and I started to lead the kids away from the bus.
"Hey, were you just on TV?" the dog lady asked. Suddenly she didn't have as much attitude.
"Yes," I said over my shoulder. I didn't want to look at her and her salivating dog. I just kept walking.
We took off across the parking lot with the woman following us. "I know who you are. I love that show!"
What do you do with that? I've had plenty of practice since that first fan encounter, but practice doesn't always make it easier. Most people are respectful. They know how to say, "Oh, how cute," and move on. My biggest concern is getting my children safely to our destination, but persistent fans want to keep the conversation going.
Some people think the show took away our privacy, and maybe our right to it; but before the show even began folks would approach us. They wanted to see the kids. Let's face it-they're cute! I get it that people are naturally drawn to their sweet little faces. I understand people's curiosity about a large family with sets of multiples and the attention it attracts in a small town. But even then I longed to be inconspicuous and do the things ordinary families did.
In those early days, people didn't approach us much; they would, for the most part, just stand back and stare. If I had paid attention, I would have seen them pointing and counting, but most of the time I didn't even notice. I was usually so hyper-focused on making sure the kids got safely to our destination that I didn't notice people's reactions unless they made it impossible for me to ignore them-like the lady with the dog. A lot of times I would say, "It's nice to meet you, but I'm sorry, I have to get my kids in the car."
The persistent fans were often more concerned about what they were getting out of me than having respect for my situation. That's probably where my perceived bad attitude toward the public started. Depending on the location, I tried to be cordial and kind, but I probably didn't always respond very well. Frankly, it bothered me that people wouldn't leave us alone. Sometimes they even wanted to touch the kids. I got very good about quickly stepping in between them before they could.
These types of encounters caused Jon and me to long for what we called a "normal" family life. For us, normal meant being able to travel outside of the house with just the ten of us-no chaperones. Normal meant my kids could get out and play freely, instead of being restrained in their strollers because we couldn't keep sixteen chubby little legs from running in eight different directions. In my fantasies about "normal," I craved a quiet life where my family and I could go out in public without people staring, pointing, and counting my kids. It was hard enough trying to be a mom of twins and sextuplets without feeling like the world was watching everything I did.
* * *
Safety is always a concern for parents of young children, but for Jon and me, any usual concern had to be multiplied by eight. For example, what if our house caught fire during the night? That was one of my greatest fears. Physically, how would two adults get eight kids out of a burning house? Every night before I went to sleep, I prayed to God to keep us safe from a fire.
When the six were infants, the best plan Jon and I could come up with was for me to get Cara and Mady. Jon would then pile the little kids into one big blanket and throw it over his shoulder like Santa as we all raced to the nearest exit. We knew that wasn't a perfect solution-the babies would roll all over each other, maybe even break a bone-but it was better than the alternative. We always kept a comforter under the cribs just in case of an emergency.
But once we were in a new house and the little kids were no longer infants, we had to come up with a new plan. Though they could walk, you can't tell six two-year-olds, "Yeah, I know it's hot and smoky, but go ahead and walk down the stairs." No, they'd be terrified. We had to come up with contingencies for every possibility. "What if the fire is at the bottom of the steps?" "What if one of them runs back upstairs to grab a comfort item?" "What if they're too scared to come to us when we call them?" Other families had fire drills; Jon and I had fire interrogations.
Another thought that kept us awake at night was who would take the kids if something happened to us. For many families, it's easy to find an aunt, grandmother, or close friend to take in a child or two.
But eight kids?
It was important to Jon and me that the kids stayed together. Who would be willing and capable of taking all of them? My brother and sister-in-law offered, but they already had four kids of their own. It would be too much to have twelve kids in one house. Their intentions were admirable, and we were grateful for the offer. But twelve kids would send even me over the edge.
We struggled to find a solution. Eventually, we named our friends as the first choice to take the kids. We chose them because their kids were older, and we felt it wouldn't be such a huge burden for them to take all eight. I trusted that they would make family visits a priority for our kids in the event that something happened to Jon and me.
House fires. Parents dying. Certainly those are extreme, unlikely events, but they are still normal concerns for most families. What wasn't normal was how complicated it was to address those concerns. We could twist ourselves in knots over the right thing to do. It was never easy. The decisions we had to make seemed harder than those made by typical families, and I longed for the simplicity of an ordinary-sized household. In my fantasies these people's lives seemed much less complicated than mine.
* * *
Ordinary parents cook pancakes, but most don't quadruple the recipe. Ordinary families buy bread at the grocery store, but few of them buy it by the flat (that's twelve loaves if you're counting). Ordinary moms of two-year-olds run out of energy during the day, but I'm guessing they don't usually feel entirely depleted. From the mundane (we ate four boxes of cereal or two dozen eggs for breakfast every day) to the unusual (on Christmas we put a baby gate around our tree to protect the ornaments from the kids and the kids from the ornaments) our normal was never ordinary.
Our culture just isn't set up for supersized families.
Take trash for example. No one ever thinks about their trash. They collect it from their house once or twice a week, set it by the curb, and forget it until the next week. Not us. We lived in an area where there were strict limits on the number of bags you could throw away each week, and we always exceeded those limits-especially when the kids were in diapers. We easily had two bags of trash on an ordinary day, more on birthdays and holidays. By the end of an average week, we'd have four huge cans filled with bags of garbage and diapers.
I remember so many Sundays nights when Jon would be in the garage rationing out what garbage he could put out and what he could hold back for the next week. It was like a game of schoolyard trading where we always got the bad deal. "I'll trade one bag of dirty diapers for two bags of kitchen refuse that maybe I can compress down into a single bag to put out next week." But each week, the same problem only got worse.
One solution was to call our neighbor and friend, Miss Beverly. She came over weekly to fold our laundry and was always willing to help us out. She and her husband never used all of their garbage allotment, so Sunday nights Jon would wheel a trash can down a few streets and up a hill to leave it at her house.
I know it seems crazy to worry about trash, but Jon and I spent a lot of time in those days thinking about it. We would fantasize about normal family-sized trash the way other people dream of white picket fences.
During that time, we exceeded our trash quota so often that we left presents on top of the trash cans in hopes the sanitation workers would take everything we put out. Sometimes we left little snacks, baked goods, or candy-anything we had.
But not every problem could be solved logistically; sometimes we just had to make do. For example, some parents worry about their kids watching too much TV; I worried that my kids couldn't see the TV. We moved an old TV into the babies' room so they could watch a movie before their nap. But because the TV was small, and the perimeter of the room was filled with cribs, there wasn't a central location that gave all of the kids a good view of the screen. Several of the kids, Hannah, Leah, and Alexis, especially, couldn't see it too well. But we had to make do. Again, this was an issue I was sure normal families never faced-but it was another small thing that added to the guilt I felt.
Trash logistics and six little faces trying to view a TV screen aren't life-shattering issues. But in our family, the most ordinary activities could feel extraordinary. That also meant that unexpected events, like a sick kid, could feel downright harrowing.
* * *
Sickness is serious business at our house. Colds and flu don't just travel through our family; they take up residence in each and every child. But sometimes it's not just the illness that brings us down. The ancillary things like doctor's visits, prescription refills, and health professionals who don't understand our needs further complicate daily life.
Lots of families with kids have stories about how all the kids got sick at once. As a nurse, that part isn't hard. I'm used to taking care of multiple patients at the same time. For me, the hardest part is trying to get each and every child to the doctor's office when (and only when) they need to be seen.
In December 2006, five of the six had been coughing for nearly a week. I'm not the kind of mom who runs her child to the doctor for every little sniffle, but their coughs had gone on for a long time and I was particularly worried about Leah. When I put her into her high chair one day, I thought I heard her wheezing. I decided to listen to her chest with my stethoscope, and when I did, I heard crackling and more wheezing.
I called the doctor's office and asked if Leah could be seen that day.
"Well, we don't really have any appointments available today."
"Can you just fit me in between appointments?"
"We don't usually do it that way."
"I know," I said, "but I'm a nurse and I've listened to her chest and it doesn't sound good. I think she should be seen by a doctor. I'll take whatever you've got; I just need my child to get in today." Finally, the assistant gave me an appointment and I hung up. Now I had to find a babysitter to stay with the rest of the kids.
Most moms know how hard it is to be seen by a doctor at the last minute. Imagine trying to coordinate the one appointment available in your physician's schedule with the schedule of a babysitter to watch your other seven kids. Taking them with me wasn't an option. I called everyone I could think of and no one was available. As it grew closer to the appointment time I only had one option left-call Jon home from work early. I hated to do that unless it was a real emergency.
Jon came home to stay with the kids, and I was a little late for the appointment, but I was so glad I followed my instinct. My tiny girl had pneumonia! Poor Leah! I was right to insist that she be seen. Had I waited a day, who knows how sick she might have become? The doctor had me start her on a nebulizer, and she prescribed an antibiotic-Zithromax.
I picked up the prescription on the way home and gave her the first dose shortly after we got back. Unfortunately, my poor baby threw up fifteen minutes later. She was hysterical. I was afraid she had thrown up the medicine and I wasn't sure whether or not to give her another dose. She needed to be on it, but I didn't want her to overdose, and it was too late to call the pediatrician by then. Day one of the illness was anything but smooth.
The next morning Aaden seemed to be doing worse so I listened to his lungs. They also sounded crackly. I called the pediatrician, but before they would put me through to the nurse, the front office staff wanted to know what I needed.
"Well, now Aaden's lungs sound crackly ... Yes, I had Leah in there yesterday and her lungs sounded the same way ... She has pneumonia. So I was wondering if the doctor could call in a prescription of Zithromax for Aaden too? Okay, I'll talk to the nurse ..."
When the nurse called back, I repeated all of the information and answered her questions too. But then the conversation got weird.
"The doctor would never do something like that!" she said suddenly.
"Like what?" I asked.
"Call in a prescription for a patient she hasn't seen."
To get my kids the medical care they needed, I had to work hard to convince the office staff that when one of my kids got sick, the others did too. Finding a last-minute babysitter for seven so I could take one sick child to the pediatrician was part of my job as a mom of eight little kids. And repeatedly calling the doctor for appointments, prescriptions, and refills had to be done no matter how much I annoyed the office staff.
I was quickly learning that we weren't normal by the world's standards, but I also found out that with enough persistence, we could make things work. In the end, Aaden was seen by the pediatrician and was also treated for pneumonia. I've learned to always trust my mommy instincts.
* * *
If I learned anything during our time in Elizabethtown, it was that our dreams of "normal" as defined by an average-sized family weren't possible. Our logistics and our way of doing things was never normal and never would be, but we learned to stop comparing ourselves to other families, and we redefined what normal meant to us.
Normal for us meant, in part, having mounds of trash and weeks of illness; but it also meant having large group fun we could never have had with a smaller family, like team sports and playing school.
Another difference in our family was that we put extra effort into giving the kids special, individual opportunities. We knew they didn't get much time alone, so being intentional about allowing them space and attention was more important for us than for other families.
Redefining normal helped us to accept that things for us would be different, and whether it was good or bad depended on what we made of each situation.
I think every family needs to understand what makes their household work-even if it doesn't function quite like other families. During our time in that house, we learned to make a new kind of ordinary, a Gosselin normal that worked for Jon and me and for our kids. We learned we could feel like a regular family when we went out and made it home safely without any major logistical issues. (When that happened Jon and I would high-five each other because we felt so, well, normal.)
We stopped comparing ourselves to other families and set about making our own path in the world. People still stared at us and counted us when we went out. Our safety and health issues were still magnified times eight. We still ate more boxes of cereal and more eggs at breakfast than other families did. But we began to see all of that as our normal.
Learning to redefine our expectations was a huge blessing because it was during those years that our show really took off. By the time we left Elizabethtown, we would once again have to redefine a new normal, one that included even more stares and pointing, as well as lights, cameras, and a whole lot of action.
Excerpted from I Just Want You to Know by Kate Gosselin Copyright © 2010 by Katie Irene Gosselin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Dear Kids 9
1 Ordinary in an Extraordinary Way 11
Letter to Cara 22
2 Scheduling Toddlers 27
Letter to Madelyn 41
3 Baby Steps 45
4 Dear Jesus 65
Letter to Alexis 75
5 Behind the Scenes 79
6 A Miracle a Day 87
Letter to Hannah 96
7 Tower of Babel 101
8 No Group Think 107
Letter to Aaden 115
9 Milestones 119
10 Blood, Band-Aids, and Baths in the Kitchen Sink 125
Letter to Collin 138
11 I Am Mom, Hear Me Roar 141
Letter of Leah 149
12 Playing Safe 153
Letter to Joel 161
13 Letters of Legacy 165
Photo Album 179
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If Kate felt the need to write private letters to her children, I would applaud her. However, not only did she make these letters available for public consumption, but she was very negative in what she wrote about her own children. This was another "poor me" book written by someone who does not appreciate her beautiful children who call her mom. A mommy dearest book will undoubtably be written by one of the kids when they get older. Save your money and buy that book. This one was worse than a waste of time, it was hurtful to the very children she claims to love.
I sat down and paged through this book at my local book store. I wouldn't buy this book if they had it in the nickle bin! As I read, I felt so sad for her children to have their Mother expose them in such a way. These letters should be private; the general public has no business reading these "letters". Kate you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a selfish mother and we should all be praying for those dear children.
I scanned this book in a bookstore thinking it would be a sweet mother's day type of book. What a snore. I'm not sure how this got published as the prose is atrocious and the organization is chaotic. The most dissapointing aspect, however, was that the "letters" and other notes did not convey the love of a mother toward her child(ren), but rather a very self-centered and invasive missive. The author is superficially supportive toward her children, but seems to be more interested in complaining about how "difficult" her children have made her life. Oddly, nothing she complains about is anything any mother hasn't had to gladly sacrifice. As a parent myself, I'm pretty sure my child would be embarrased and resentful of some of the things said.
What loving parent would dream of writing such harsh criticism of her children and then having it published, thus making it available in mass? What does she think her children will feel when they realize what has happened? Shock? Shame? Unable to understand why a parent would do this? I can't believe it either. Shame on the publishing company that agreed to touch this one with a ten-foot pole. And having it come out just in time for Mother's Day is the final irony. The author is another "Mommy Dearest." God help those innocent children.
This book is poorly written and edited--a rush job from a very weak author. It is filled with inconsistencies that can be easily checked against the show and her first book. More importantly, it is a very disturbing continuation of Gosselin's exploitation of her unusual family for profit. Profit that goes way behind the financial needs of this family. Self-pity, self-agrandizement, and badly disguised malignant narcissism well up between the sentences. Under the sugar-coating, she makes clear the exact ways in which each child has been a burden to her. Only inspiring in the sense of reminding normal parents with normal nurturing instincts how delightful our children are and how, in a profound sense, we need to understand them as separate beings, not extensions of our own egos. A much better and more enjoyable book about the trial and joys of mothering a large family is below.
Kate who? Oh, yes I know, that woman that seems to get herself on the cover of People magazine every other week. Gee, she seems so busy promoting herself- how in the world can she find the time to be the mother to her 8 kids. Oh, yes, that's what babysitters are for. Just because she used fertility drugs to have a multiple birth, doesn't make her an expert in child care. She is an expert in getting on the cover of tabloids.
Shame on the author for placing her eight children under the observation of millions, and using the profits and recognition to pursue her own celebrated life while, by the way, the kids are in therapy. Seems that the entire family, except Ms. Gosselin, is in need of psychological help. She, on the other hand, needs "credit", a break, fun, and an increasingly false and high-maintenance persona. Kate has lamented that she can not provide for her twins and sextuplets on a nurse's salary. She seems to be uninterested in a better education, however, content with capitalizing on her children and campaigning for a career in television. Kate is not the first mother who has lost the support of a husband, for one reason or another, but she is one of the worst examples of how one might cope. Her problems are, after all, largely her own doing; she married a man whom she sought to remake. In this book, Ms. Gosselin expresses the love she otherwise apparently has trouble communicating to her children. She also puts to rest, in advance, any questions they may someday have about her need to raise them in a fishbowl since she had, in advance, no way to provide for them. She assures that any feelings of loss they experienced as a result were worth it. Could a mother be any more grandiose? Less responsive to the feelings of her children? Other than that, there is nothing new. Audiences have already been privy to Kate's hysterics over dirty diapers and to the sextuplets (even those boys) being "taught" how to toilet. Viewers feasted their eyes on the exotic and sweet marriage-vow renewal, only a season before Kate neglected and ruined the most elaborate plot that she had ever cooked up. They already know about her compulsive behavior, AKA need for control, and about the kids being taken to Sunday school and then on to a bakery to decorate cupcakes (but by no means, to make a mess). Kate's fans already understand the value of self-promotion jaunts over relationships with individuals who presume to have limits and boundaries. And who could have missed the persistent manipulation of the public through the media - the images of Kate smiling radiantly and declaring a "fresh start" or of her wearing a cold mask to signal that she's unhappy? I advise readers to keep their hard-earned money until one of Gosselin children grows up, and writes a book.
Glad I didn't pay for this book. Read it at the local book store. If it's for real, this woman doesn't think much of her children. I don't get it. Was it her intention to tell the children they're basically a burden? Do yourself a favor and if you think you want to read it, just go to your local book store and you'll be able to read it relatively quick right in the store. It's only a couple of hundred pages that only require scanning. The woman doesn't seem to like being a Mother very much and seems to want her children to know that? Sad for the kids, but I guess if she dislikes her kids, they're very much aware of her feelings.
This woman has been exploiting her children for years to make money, has stopped seeing her family and has stopped going to church. She's a good Christian? Are we supposed to take advice from this woman from her ridiculous books? If I could I would have rated this book a -1. This woman is not qualified to give advice to anyone.
I read the entire book in the store. No need to purchase. It would be a waste of money. I found some of her stories contradictory. If you watched the show you will know what stories she is referring to. She cries about having to do this all on her own and then thanks everyone from her church, neighbors and family who helped. Was she alone or did she have help? She cries about never getting out and then talks about running to the store or local organic farmer whenever she got a chance. She constantly contradicts herself throughout the entire book. A real perfect example is she states she actually "allowed her children to play in the MUD". This from the woman who wouldn't allow her children to use markers in a Crayola factory and wouldn't let them use finger paints (pudding!). She praises the love of family and how important they are, yet she has kept both sides of the family away. How does this send a good message to her children? The most bothersome part of the book is the "love" letters she writes to each child. She talks about how hard it was to have the children and how it stresses her out to have so many and how it has basically uprooted her life, but then cuts and pastes these "individual" letters to each child, telling them how special they are. It is like she wrote a form letter and changed the name and sex to fit the child. She says the same thing eight different times! She could have saved some pages by just writing "Dear (insert name here)". The book chronicles Kates changes through the past few years beginning with her obsessive compulsive behavior and need for order and cleanliness (should not be a high priority with 8 kids) to why she deserves to be made up with new hair, clothes, etc. "who says you have to be frumpy just because you have kids?" In my opinion, this is not a book about loving her children. This is a book about Kate loving Kate Gosselin and why she deserves everything she has! Another point that really got me was she thanks four people for helping her with this book. Really? It took five people total to write this book?
PLAIN and SIMPLE.....me me me and MONEY MONEY MONEY....She SOLD her childrens private moments for MONEY ...nothing else...fake hair, fake tans, mansions, limos, big trips to leave those children.. nannys, babysitters..on and on...... AND TO USE "FATH AND LOVE" as the concept is the lowest thing shes done yet..... WHEN is the last time her children even WENT to church....or SHE attended...she cant remember or SHE'd be SURE there was a photo opp to record it..... THE most PITIFUL excuse for a MOTHER I've EVER seen played out in the media.... pUUUUUUU x 100 is my rank....it STINKS like her LIES do...
I dont understand why Ms Gosslin continues to come out with book upon book about her life and faith. She says the same things over and over. If you watched the show you know everything in the book, if you have ever seen an interview then you know what is in the book. Waste of money and time!
1. These letters to her children should be private.2. Selling out her children's personal lives is abhorrent to me.Kate should spend more time talking to her kids instead of writing to them.
Please, don't buy this book, it's a waste of your time and money.Kate Gosselin, best known for exploiting her eight children on reality TV, has to further embarrass them by sharing with us private details about how difficult and trying they've been, while painting herself as a wounded saint.It's poorly written, and holds no insight for those of us who have tried to understand her plight.Kate is going to be the next Mommy Dearest when her children are old enough to pen their own stories.I'm very disappointed that she didn't take the high road and write an inspirational (and private) book of letters to her children.
I am astonished at all the bad reviews which are mostly written by people who have decided they do not like Kate Gosselin, though they do not know her, I thought the book was redundant of the events that occurred on the show, and a little boring because of that but by no means was it a bad book. I also do not know her, so I do not feel right in judging her. I do know if I were a mom with that many children and TLC offered me millions of dollars to film us going to the zoo and living life, I would jump on it. I do not feel that makes me a bad person, or would exploit my child. They do not do anything bad on the show, and the book was sweet, but a tad boring for me since I have seen all the episodes.
I thought the book gave very good information that many might not know,but she shouldnt add personal letters to her children in a book that millions are going to read. If she wanted to write a letter so bad to each kid she should have just done that not put it in her book. And on top of that she slamed her own kids in her about them. I personal think that is terrible to do to you own kids
I highly enjoyed the book. If you are a fan of the show and saw most of the shows, you will better understand where Kate is coming from. Great read!
Yeah i play dirty.
I was reading several reviews on this book. Come to see people commenting saying that scanned through it at the local bookstore. I just don't get how people can say such negative things about the book, if they haven't read through the entire book. I will defiantly give this book a try despite the negative reviews.