September 29: Dazed and confused


This morning was unusual in that Hubby had to leave early for a meeting; so he had to also bring Red with him on the earlier side. This isn’t really much of a problem though since she is usually the first one up anyway.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Red and Big Bro are up, lounging in their beds. They set out clothes the night before so changes were fast. Big Bro asks me if I will be volunteering in his class today. I say to him that I filled out ALL the paperwork for me to volunteer, and they are asking parents of his class to do lunchroom duty for the month of October. I picked 4 days to do this for him (including Halloween — I will have a blast with this). I also mentioned to him that I will talk to his teacher about other ways I can help in his classroom. I will likely be working from home going forward so this will be completely doable for me. He is psyched. I tell Red that I will have the same conversations with her teachers if she wants me to volunteer in her class too. She does. So it will be done!!!
  • I go to the Twins’ room – and they are just waking up. Twin Husky jumps up immediately and wants to get out of the crib to start his day. Twin Crazy generally prefers to sleep later so she takes some time to roll around, look around, and then get up.
  • Twin Crazy seems cranky. I look down at her pajamas and her poor little legs can’t extend the full way. They are too small! I take them off and talk to her about it and as soon as I get them off of her she is smiling and looking at me like I saved the day. Cute!
  • Red decides to switch out of the dress she had on; I ask Twin Crazy if she would want to wear that dress. Everything is cool. So I put the dress on Twin Crazy and she looks so sweet, so demure – I ask her to show Hubby and her cute little face looking up at him asking for his response back was so adorable.
  • I go downstairs with the kids and everything generally went smooth. REd was ready for the earlier departure. Big Bro was fast with breakfast and very quick at getting changed.
  • The 3 kids were great getting into the van. Big Bro was busy holding his lunchbox and his folder with all the paperwork I completed the night before.
  • Quick drop off for the Twins. I hugged them extra long today.
  • Drop off for Big Bro was great. He was psyched about his folder of paperwork. His teacher gave him a high-five. She also appreciated my offer to help her in any way that she needs.

So now I’m on the ferry. It is gray outside. I also feel grey inside. I’m hurting and upset about a life that I feel is so out of reach for me and my children.

Work today will be very busy. I still have some last movements in one agenda, and I still have many presentations yet to receive. I will probably get them at the end of the day and will need to review and provide feedback over the weekend. On one hand I am very excited about being away for a week; but on the other the thought of being away from my kids is heartbreaking to me. I need to get over that feeling.

Highlights of my Working Day:

  • As expected, I was extremely busy finalizing an agenda, sending info out to attendees, reviewing presentations, providing feedback, etc. etc.      I feel like I’m doing things that are needed to be done but feel like I have four left feet.   It’s all a bit confusing thinking through all of the play-by-play details and I feel like I’m missing a alot…. I’m a bit confused and trying to get my act together, but falling behind.
  • We had a planning call with one of the Directors who will be attending one of the forums with me, to get him up to speed on the people there, the content to be discussed, and how our company provides value to the audience.
  • I also had a planning call for a separate forum — it looks like the potential speaker has content that actually looks and feels like competing content that we provide…. ugggh.   So now I either stick to an agenda with 3 speakers or I need to find another…. I’ll need to worry about that later.
  • HOWEVER THERE IS STILL A LOT MORE TO DO!!!!!!!!!!!!   Do I work on it tonight after the kids go to bed?   Or do I do it over the weekend?   My preference would be to knock it out tonight but I am so drained, for so many reasons.
  • On the commute home via Ferry I talked with a neighbor – a family who lives behind us with FOUR kids and also a set of Twins!   We were commiserating; I don’t feel as alone.   We promised to get our families together after all 8 of our kids are asleep.  That way we can drink and get to know each other better.  Funny – it’s been over a year and its taken us that long to connect.   People are just so busy out here in a big city to stop what they do and take in the surroundings; I feel like the sense of community is lacking, making it harder to expand beyond our own little part of the world.
Dinner and Bedtime:
  • Hubby is not going to make it home this evening; he’s spending time with his brother and sister-in-law who is ready to give birth any day now.  So I am with the kids solo – I know I can handle it.   In fact, I revel in it.
  • I picked up Big Bro and spent some time with him at after-care since he was in the middle of a “pom-pom” project.   I thought it was really interesting and SO EASY to make little pom-poms.  I’ll try to replicate it someday and then send out the instructions to the group.  I also wanted to go slow with pick up — mommy-time is on my mind for each of these kids.
  • We picked up Red – she was outside with this HUGE floppy pink hat on, looking absolutely adorable.   She immediately reports on the amount of lunch she ate that day.
  • We decide to go grab take-out food for dinner.   So we drive to our favorite BBQ place to pick up food, and then we pick up the Twins.   Twin Husky is upset because he wants to get in the front seat to drive the car.
  • At home, I get kids organized with eating right away.   Twin Husky is still in the van playing with the steering wheel.   I finally get all kids at the table eating.
  • After dinner Big Bro starts a movie (Friday nights are movie nights) and I play with Red (flying airplanes and general rough-housing) to the point of feeling sick.  I’m not sure if its the rough-housing or the stress I’m under.
  • Twin Crazy is busy wiping her mouth with a little napkin I gave her at dinner.  This was the first time I’ve given them napkins and she was so cute – she’d take a sip of milk, and then wipe her face.  Take another sip of milk, and wipe her face.   I was laughing and encouraging her cleanliness.   She also did some airplanes on me but got a little scared so went back to cleaning her face.
  • We all make it to the living room to be with Big Bro.  I get the Twins changed in PJs.   Twin Husky stands on the coffee table.  Twin Crazy is cleaning her face, and now also her feet.   Twin Husky is also brushing his teeth.
Four kids mesmerized by Toy Story

Four kids mesmerized by Toy Story

  • I bring up the Twins first — we read a picture book together.  It is amazing how intense Twin Husky is with this picture book.  He MUST point to everything to understand what it is and he repeats EVERYTHING extremely well – he is very understandable.   Twin Crazy however still is very vocal but mumbles everything…. but she is trying.   I encourage both and give them lots of hugs and kisses for reinforcement.  We sing and then they are ready for sleep.   They say “night night” and I also hear some “I love you”s — -I just can’t get over it.   Hearing that from them is a pinnacle moment.   I remember when I first learned I was having twins, seeing their two little spots and heartbeats, and feeling terrified and wondering how were we ever going to do this??!?!?!?!??!?!    And now these children are children…. they are speaking in words… they are active…. they are eager to learn…. and they are so affectionate; and the “I love you”s are beginning for them.   I really am so proud of them and feel lucky to have them in my life.
  • I head downstairs for some mommy-time with Red and Big Bro.  The three of us sit together on the couch bundled under a blanket, watching Toy Story and laughing at the funny parts.   By the time we head upstairs it is late; so I only read a FAST book and then they are both out.
Today was a day of ups and downs.   Parts of the day just left me dazed and confused.   It makes me want to just go to sleep.  But now I need to work.   So, let me go at it so I can enjoy the rest of my weekend.
Happy weekend to all –
– Mama K
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September 28: Feeling valued in all directions


New seasons. New beginnings. New starts.

This morning was about reconnecting with my eldest children since I did not spend much time with them last night. They even said that they didn’t get enough “mommy time” that night so I promised them if they woke up early, got dressed, and ate breakfast that I PROMISED that each of them would have special “mommy time” in the morning. They agreed and started to think about what activities they wanted to do with me. They also agreed that it was OK for the other to take part in each other’s selected “mommy time”. How cute.

Highlights of my Morning and Commute:

  • Surprisingly, BIG BRO is the first one awake. Unbelievable. He starts talking about how he wants me to read the book he has in his hands for his mommy time. I say, OK. We go in to get Red. She is excited about “mommy time” too.
  • Both kids get dressed SO FAST and the three of us head downstairs. The Twins are not even up yet!!
  • We have a guest bedroom downstairs so each of us cuddle in the bed and I read the book to the two of them.
  • Red decides that she wants me to put her kid make up on her for her “mommy time”. I suggest that we eat breakfast first. She agrees.
  • Twins are busy eating cereal with Hubby. They are so cute. Twin Husky is busy pointing at things and saying words. Twin Crazy is just busy trying to balance the cereal on her spoon. Both seem very happy. I can’t believe how big they are getting.
  • I fix Big Bro and Red their breakfast; Big Bro gets a trio of jelly on his bagel and Red eats TWO packages of oatmeal. “Oatmeal, oatmeal” repeat both Twins. So they get some oatmeal too.
  • Diaper changes with the Twins gives me a chance to connect with them too, albeit too briefly. Twin Husky is in such a good mood this morning. Crouching and jumping, crouching and jumping. So active. Twin Crazy is a bit cranky this morning for some reason.
  • I get changed, pack up the daycare bag, and we pack up the kids. Hubby and I are dividing and conquering again today. He’ll take Red, I take the Twins and Big Bro.
  • OK time to go!!!!!!!! Again, I feel like we’re running late, so I’m blasting music and hauling ass. The Doors are on. I’m feeling good. Twin drop off was great; Twin Crazy felt compelled to bring in ALL her stuffed animals from the van into daycare. She is needy today. Twin Husky is all smiles.
  • Drop off for Big Bro is so sweet. He is so big. He towers over most kids in his Kindergarten class – but I know he is so sensitive, reflective. He isn’t a “bully” kind of big boy.
  • I make the ferry in time.

Today for work I have more to do about the conferences for next week.   It’s coming up!

Highlights of my Working Day:
I was so busy today!!!! It was great – got lots done and getting ready for next week.

  • Reworked some agendas, reviewed presentations, provided presenter feedback, finalized one agenda and sent it out to all meeting attendees, etc. etc. etc.
  • Also started refining the two other meetings we will have; finalized presenters, set up meetings to refine content topics
  • Set up “sales” meeting for another initiative we were launching
  • Held an “off the cuff” strategy meeting over lunch with 2 Directors; thinking through who on our team could provide leadership capability and decided on a core group to create and drive strategy. I’m on that team!!!
  • I was in a relatively great mood; I actually belly laughed several times — one time so loudly that even though my office door was shut, and a Director’s office door was shut, the sound of my laughter found its way into his office.    It felt wonderful to laugh like that.

I’m coming from today’s work feeling very valued and appreciated. Folks internally are pulling together to work with me to make the meetings next week a success; I am the go-to person but we’re all pulling together and I feel very energized.

I’m on the ferry back and thinking of my children. I love coming home early to pick them up. I’ve discussed here on this blog over the last several weeks/months about going on a reduced work-week; well this will happen after I get through next week’s meetings. I am very much looking forward to that.

My kids really enjoyed their “mommy time” this morning. I want to think of more “mommy time” stuff for the evenings as well. I want to show them that they each matter individually. I can’t wait to see them now. Now more than ever. I can’t wait to see their faces and I HOPE I see smiles. I need smiles from them today. I want to help create those smiles. Smiles will keep me going.

Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Big Bro and he immediately said that he wanted more mommy-time.   Both of us drove over to pick up Red.
  • In the parking lot, I felt like I had a bug bite or something on my butt.   So of course I make a big deal of it – “I think I have a bug bite on my butt.  How silly.  Why on earth would a bug want to bite a butt?????”  Big Bro replies:   “I can check for you when we get home Mommy.”   How cute.
  • Red wanted to hold Big Bro’s hand across the parking lot (one of our rules is that to cross a street or in a parking lot, EVERYONE must hold a hand).
  • Both of them decide that they want us to go home first for a mommy-time activity before going to get the Twins.   How cute.   It was 5:30 so I gave in to them.
  • At home, they decided that their mommy-time activity would be water-color painting.   I really didn’t do much, so I’m not sure how they saw it as mommy-time, but I did help them with paper (Me:  “I’m on paper duty”.  Big Bro:  “I’m on color duty”).  I also helped them with the water changes, and encouraged their art.   They really are creative and I always make a big deal out of the stuff they make.

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  • We then go to pick up Twins.   I make it fun by saying they can get in the van WITHOUT ANY SHOES ON!!  How fun!!!!
  • Twins squeal when they see me – open arms, laughs, and “mommy!  mommy!  mommy!”
  • At home we have to trouble-shoot a bit with the kids.   Red is having a hard time; Big Bro is also teasing her a bit.  Twins are great.  I ask our mother’s helper to help entertain the Twins so Hubby and I can focus on the bigger ones; they seem more needy today.
  • Dinner is a hit; so much so that everyone had vanilla pudding afterwards.
  • All kids went completely crazy next.  There was a lot of jumping, falling on the floor, jumping over the Elmo chair…. I think this was prompted by me asking Twin Crazy to do his “crouch and jump”.   It just cracked me up so much.  Belly-laughs.    This little toddler doing crouch and jump and falling backwards and saying “crouch and jump” the whole time… and then the rest of the kids jumping and running and falling on the floor.   There was “look-it mommy!” going all over the place and I had to make sure I was watching everyone and making my laughs seem like they were for everyone too.
  • At bedtime we changed the Twins and talked about some pictures in a book and sang some songs and did kisses all around.   They go out like a charm.
  • Big Bro and Red were fast tonight too.   I think all the running around wore them out.  Red wanted me to help her with her PJs; she wanted me to look in backpacks to find her favorite yellow shirt; Big Bro wanted me to read the story to them, and he had his head on my lap the entire time.
I had a very, very, full day.   It was a good day.    Filled with people around me who showed their appreciation and how much I’m needed — both at work and with my little ones.   Honestly a working mother couldn’t ask for much more.
Til tomorrow –
– Mama K

Recipe: “Quick” Chicken Cacciatore


My mother makes this for us when she visits since it is something she can make in bulk and it freezes really well.   However, it usually is an all-day process since she makes enough for like 50 people (think Italian heritage), she lets it stew for a while, and also uses up all these different pans and huge pots.   I’ve adapted her recipe to be working-mom friendly — so this may be hit or miss (would like your opinion please).   Ideally you would like to get all the ingredients together and chop/slice the night before.   This takes some time and best for you to start with the prepared ingredients while your kids are screaming and hanging on your work clothes.   This recipe adapted from one submitted by Mama L from Bensalem, PA (thanks Mom).

“Quick” Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients:

  • boneless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • green peppers, red peppers — seeded and cut into strips [best to do night before]
  • onions – cut into strips [best to do night before]
  • garlic
  • tomato sauce
  • olive oil
  • seasonings to taste – basil, oregano, salt, pepper
  • grated parmesan or loccatelli cheese
  • tomatoes (optional)
We do this recipe by eye and don’t really use measurements — I guess a good rule of thumb is for every chicken breast use two peppers and one small onion.    Use enough tomato sauce to get the consistency that will work best for  your family
Cooking:
In a large high-walled skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are soft.  Add the boneless chicken breasts and seasonings and saute until chicken browns.   Add peppers and saute until soft.   Add tomatoes/tomato sauce last.   Turn down heat and let simmer together for 10 – 15 min.   Serve with grated cheese.  You can serve on its own or it also goes well over pasta or rice.
Prep time:   15 min
Cook time:  20 – 30 min

September 28: There’s nothing like a good Guinness


20110928-072544.jpg

It’s fall. There are leaves on the ground. And our family is new to elementary school since Big Bro is 5 and new at Kindergarten. There is something so exhilarating with change. The change of the leaves, the crunch on your feet, the hustle and bustle of families with their children and backpacks getting ready for a new day at a new school. It brings back memories. I am so proud of my son and looking forward to his ever growing independence.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:
* Red wakes up first, as expected. I sit with her for a while. We like it when I sit on the floor, her in my lap but facing me, cuddled into my body – her arms wrapped around me tight. If I’m wearing a pony-tail she playfully tugs at it or runs her fingers through my hair. We sit in silence as I rock her forward and back. This is our special time. This is her mommy time. And I give it to her every morning.
* Downstairs, Twins and Red are eating oatmeal. This is fun now for the Twins. They each get their own bowls and spoons and really enjoy eating what their big sister eats. Red eats two whole bowls. The Twins are not far behind. Twin Husky is laughing and having fun – looking into his spoon at his reflection and enjoying himself. Twin Crazy needs some help. She asks for more but she already has stuff in there. She needs help tilting her bowl to scoop up the rest. I teach her this and then she seems happy.
* Big Bro is having a hard time coming downstairs. He is just so tired in the morning. And this is true of this morning, despite his earlier bedtime. The lack of nap in Kindergarten is killing him. I need to find a way to get this kid to rest more, besides just earlier bedtime; the change in time will help, but it saddens me to think that my kids will be going to bed too early, after not interacting with them during the day. This is something I need to figure out.
* Diaper changes with the Twins are their “mommy-time”. I REALLY enjoy this time with them. We get to look into each others eyes, I get to play with them and tickle them and talk to them. Twin Husky is busy practicing his new words and I tickle him to encourage it. I love their bellies. I love how Twin Husky is ticklish under his neck, and how Twin Crazy is ticklish in her thighs. As I diaper them, Big Bro is laying down on the floor with me, with his head in my lap. He needs more of me. I hug him intermittently as I diaper the Twins.
* We are running REALLY late. I help to change Red and Big Bro. We get a bagel ready for Big Bro to eat in the car. I get their vitamins.
* I can’t find the day bag for daycare; I can’t find Red’s jacket. I can’t find my shoes. I try to make instant coffee. OMG it is past 8 AM we are so late……
* Hubby takes Red; I take Twins and Big Bro. I basically take the van and HAUL ASS to daycare. I mean, there were screeches from the tires of this minivan. I need to make up time! Twin Husky says “Bye Bye” to Big Bro on the way out. My heart melts.
* I head to school to drop of Big Bro. While parking I screech on the curb. “Uh oh”…… I look in the rear-view mirror and Big Bro is laughing and so am I.
* We head to the playground where the kids line up and it just looks so cute with all of these kids and their backpacks. Happy parents. I hug Big Bro and then run to the van so I can make the ferry on time.

So now I’m on the ferry – it is a pretty day. I will need to lead several meetings today – one to sell membership into one of our new conferences, and one to review all the presentations for our first conference next week. This will be a good day – the logistics and securing speakers is something that has to be done, but it doesn’t really excite me until we actually secure the spot. The content is much more interesting to me and thinking through the implications to the audience – what does it mean for them? I hope I can see the connections today – if not, I’ll have to circle back with the presenters and make sure they draw those connections clearly during their presentation to the group.

I will have a meeting tonight so Hubby is solo with the kids. These nights are hard for me since I miss out on the children and I get emotionally wiped out. But I need this meeting tonight.

Highlights of my Working Day:
I had one “sales” meeting for another forum we are launching. We received good feedback but need to re-evaluate the content for focus. I spent the rest of the day coordinating logistics, working on Agendas, reviewing presentations, and asking for more presentations. I’m looking forward to next week.

Dinner and Bedtime:
* Is a beer. I am mentally exhausted. The beer is cold, refreshing, and making me feel better. When I get home, hopefully the kids will be awake but I am not sure about this since they are getting tired earlier, and it is getting darker earlier.
* Given that, I’ll probably just go to bed when I get home.

Here’s to Guinness!

Til tomorrow,
– Mama K

September 27: Solo with the children and myself


Today is Chocolate Tuesday! Whew. This will make the morning easier!

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • I wake up to Red asking me if it is not wake up time since it is not 8 AM. I explain that yes, it is wake up time, 8 AM is only for the “home days” or weekends. So then she says, “OK so GET UP mommy!!!” She asks for a pony-tail and looks soooooooooooooooo sweet.
  • Twin Husky is clingy today. Needing Hubby. I also think he may be going through a growth spurt because it seems like he is hungry non-stop. Cereal. Oatmeal. Bread. MORE, MORE, MORE….
  • Twin Crazy is sweet. She squeals when I pick her up. We talk about what she wants for breakfast and I talk about cereal, bread, oatmeal…. this piqued her interest. Oatmeal it is. She loves it.
  • Big Bro is busy eating is bagel and chocolate.
  • I bring clothes down but Red already brought some down too. She wants to wear a yellow shirt. So now she has a choice between two sets of clothes. She is laughing at this.
  • Big Bro and Red finish their breakfasts – TIME TO GET DRESSED! Big Bro likes for me to help him even though he can do it all himself. I think it’s his way and manipulating more “mommy time”. I always give in since we have fun together.
  • Twins get diaper changes and are ready to go.
  • Hubby and I do split drop offs again today since it is past 8 AM. He drops of Red, I take the Twins and Big Bro.
  • Hubby drives in to work today and asks if I will join him. I opt for the Ferry instead.

I am feeling so down today. For personal reasons I feel frustrated, patronized, and am just flat out mad.

I will be busy at work today. I think if today goes well, I’ll feel much better about the upcoming conferences. Once the agendas are finalized and the guest speakers are all confirmed, I will feel less anxiety. And then I’ll be able to focus on the content part of the work, which is more interesting for me.

Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I thankfully secured one of two open speaker slots for the two conferences (whew).
  • I found out this morning that one speaker I thought was unconfirmed is actually about 90% confirmed; the problem is that we already have a replacement so if she actually winds up coming, the Agenda will be PACKED.
  • I started to read/review presentations and worked with our admin for final logistics.

I’m on the ferry now alone, Hubby is going out for dinner/drinks after work. I’m looking forward to the kids, but I’m also so emotionally drained. I’d like to go to sleep tonight right after the kids do and after I get these posts out.

Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I pick up Big Bro first and then we get Red. Then the Twins and we are all together.
  • I bring in an “activity” to keep the kids entertained while I make dinner.  Hubby is out with friends so I am solo.   The activity for this evening is “stamping”.    Big Bro and Red quickly get organized and start stamping away.  The Twins don’t know what the hell is going on and they have ink all over the place and they don’t know what to do with the stamps.   So they of course get frustrated.  And then Twin Crazy steps in a big pile of old oatmeal that was left on the floor from this morning’s breakfast.  I quickly bring out the markers for them.  Note to readership:  what other quick “activities” do you do with your kids to keep them occupied when you are preparing dinner?
  • Dinner prep is easy and fast; but the Twins are having issues.   Twin Husky wants to be held up high so he could look at things and point and ask questions about what these things are.   Twin Crazy is very particular about the cup she is drinking from.   I’m on the 3rd cup with her when I quit.
  • Kids settle down when they are at the table.  There is laughing and eating.   Twin Husky needs to see the pepper-mill so I give it to him.   I think he wants it because he sees Hubby with it all the time.
Twin Husky needs that pepper-mill

Twin Husky needs that pepper-mill

  • After dinner we start to clean up the kids.   Twin Husky has mysteriously found the pretend make up and put it all over his face — I don’t know HOW he did it so quickly from table to kitchen, but he did it.   Trying to get the stamp ink and marker ink off the Twins was a challenge and we didn’t do a good job at it.
  • Then they have a good time playing – Big Bro sets out the “car mat” for Twin Husky.  I pull out cars for him.
  • There is still more crankiness and tears so I decide to start PJs.   Big Bro and Red are so cute since they are trying hard to clean up Twin Crazy from the marker on her face and hands.   Big Bro just started doing this on his own, and Twin Crazy looked up at him and let him.   Then Red joined in.   She had two older siblings working on her at the same time.   How sweet.  Twins are in bed at 7 PM which is much earlier than usual.
  • Big Bro and Red just walk right into their rooms so we go through with bedtime routine with them too — earlier than normal, but honestly poor Big Bro is so exhausted all the time that I think he needs an early rest.
So now I’m alone and it is VERY early — trying to decide what to do with myself.  I think I’ll just go to sleep and call it a day.
Til tomorrow –
– Mama K

Random Thought: How well do you meet your Hierarchy of Needs? **POLL**


On Sunday I wrote a piece about the “Hierarchy of Needs”, that illustrates a hierarchy of needs that are essential for the emotional and psychological health and survival of humans.

In my post, I tried to draw implications to Working Mothers – and through this thinking and comments from others, it seems like there could be correlations between the fulfillment of these needs by “layer” and the life stage of your children.   For example, when they are first born, some Physiological needs may have been unmet (e.g., sleep), but as the kids get older and start to take care of themselves, your time frees up and allows you to meet more needs along the pyramid.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

I feel like my needs are not being met in two layers: Safety and Love/Belonging. I’m curious to poll the group:

I’m curious.   How are your needs being met along the following dimensions?  Note:   all responses are anonymous — I cannot even see who is participating in the poll let alone the answers that are given to that person.

Do you believe that any unmet needs impact the levels of your health and/or happiness?  Do you think you can isolate which parts are partially or not met? Are there things that you can control to help meet those needs?

I may continue to refer to this from time to time…. but for now, have a wonderful Tuesday and again, thanks for listening…

– Mama K

September 26: Pretty in Pink


I’m coming from a bad weekend. On a scale of 1-10, it was a 2. Today I’m groggy, hungry, have no coffee, and am feeling down.  I’m on the ferry now with all the kids at daycare/preschool/Kindergarten. Back to reality.

Highlights of the Morning:

  • All kids sleep late this morning. We have to peel them out of their beds.
  • Today is a cheerio cereal morning for 75% of the kids. The Twins are doing well with spoons but we had several occurences of spilled bowls and Cheerios/milk all over the place and all over them. Plus, Twin Crazy has a habit of taking her bowl and walking around the entire first floor when we are not looking. So there were also trails of cereal and wet milk all over the rugs.
  • Red is initially upset and yelling when I bring down her clothes. This is because she already picked out her underwear and socks. She is extremely mad at me for this. “No problem! I’ll just put this stuff away and we’ll pick out a pair of shorts together. No problem.” She is a breeze after that. She has 3 bowls of cereal.
  • Big Bro is a handful this morning. He does not want to come downstairs without holding my hand (he needs “mommy time”). But I am in the middle of diapering the Twins and also getting Red dressed (and hugging her for mommy time), so he has to wait. It wasn’t until 8 AM until we walked down together. We dress him quickly (mommy time) and I grab some things that he could eat in the car for breakfast.
  • Hubby and I split the drop offs since we are running late. He takes Red, I take the Twins and Big Bro. The daycare provider seems honestly happy and thrilled to see the Twins again. Lots of kisses.
  • I drive Big Bro to Kindergarten and we quickly force some applesauce down this throat in the van before leaving for the line-up. When we enter his class, he turns to me and gives me a huge hug — even though we are in front of his friends.  How sweet.
  • I just make it to the Ferry in time. They were closing the gate as I ran up. This was a close call.
  • So, it is obvious to me that my kids feel like they need more of me today. I feel bad about that. I’ll need to make it up to them in the evenings this week. Make sure I spend some 1-on-1 time with each of them.

Today at work will be the first day of a very busy week. I have guest speakers to still book, presentations to review, and final logistics to take care of. We have our two forums next week and this will be my first time doing this. I need to rock this so that I can position myself for a lighter work-week going forward.

Highlights of my Working Day:

  • I arrive in the office and have 10 minutes to look at email (some were quite important, dealing with potential presenters at upcoming forums)
  • I then have  a 1.5 hour presentation review; consultants presented to me findings of the data compilation of one of our forums; I give suggestions and probe for the “drivers” and why the data is trending the way it is. If we don’t have the answers, that’s OK.  These are the types of questions that will be PERFECT to the forum to get conversation going.
  • I attend another meeting related to a separate project. I’m not sure exactly why I was there. I didn’t add much to the conversation and I really had a lot of other stuff to do.
  • I arranged/secured two presenters for conferences; I received some presentation from guest speakers and will need to start to review them.

So, work is busy, but not extremely scary. Next week will be a BIG trip. I will be facilitating and presenting and winging it for TWO forums; I don’t mind getting in front of a crowd; I am looking forward to the networking and getting to know people. I get to get dressed up and maybe I’ll even wear some flashy shoes. 🙂

So now I’m on the ferry home, missing my kids. I’m also extremely tired today. Emotionally drained.
Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I pick up Big Bro and delay the time with him so he feels good “mommy time”.  Together we go to Red’s pre-school.   I decide to ask him to pick out a book and we lay down on one of the couches and I read to him, and only him.   That is his dose of “mommy time”.  I hope he remembers and appreciates it.   Question to readership:    What kinds of activities do you do 1:1 with your kids that are “quick” and can be done in the daily course of your day??
  • We then find Red.  She is so sweet.
  • Lastly, the Twins. They are back at daycare.  They seem to be happy.   They are eating apple fruit bars.
  • Once at home, I clean up a bit.   I set up all the kids with markers and paper so they can draw and do art.  I think its so much fun now to have the Twins “closer” in capability to the older siblings.   So now they can do art now too when their older siblings are.   This is getting to be fun.
  • As they are creating, I try to decide what to create for dinner.  I decide to cop-out and make pancakes.   And I slice some canned peaches.  Sounds good to me, and the kids think this is funny.  Question to readership:    Have you EVER served breakfast at dinner?   If  so, how often can you get away with it???
  • As I set the kids at the table, I realize that Twin Husky has gotten into Red’s pretend make up.   He is busy applying it all over his face.
Twin Husky - Pretty in Pink

Twin Husky - Pretty in Pink

  • Hubby gets home after kids have eaten.  I’m changing ATTROCIOUS diapers.
  • I throw out the diapers outside — that’s how bad they are — and then walk into the sliding door on my way in.  Great.
  • Twins seem a bit cranky so we start bedtime routine early; Twin Crazy is barely holding on.
  • Red and Big Bro decide to do dance routines and acrobatics in their room before going to bed.  They crack me up.
So now it is the end of my first day back at work after a week of vacation, and after a week of working from home.   It was a tough, tough morning but work itself was OK.  It felt good to be back.   I think I can manage this conference stuff without too much stress (I think — get back to me after NEXT week…..).
Til tomorrow –
– Mama K

Staying Sane: How well do you meet your “Hierarchy of Needs”?


I had a post already written to send out this evening, but something inside me felt that I needed to talk about the “Hierarchy of Needs” that was developed by Abraham Maslow.   I’m feeling particularly out of balance this evening – after having a VERY hard weekend where I was probably doing a bit too much self reflection.

First, let’s refresh ourselves on the hierarchy of needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Source: Nursing Crib

“A need is something that is essential to the emotional and psychological health and survival of humans. All people strive to meet basic needs at any given time and individual’s need may be met, partially met, or unmet. A person whose needs may be considered to be healthy and a person with one or more unmet needs is at increased risk of illness or health alterations in one or more of the human dimensions.

Maslow’s framework of basic needs is based on the theory that something is a basic need if:  its absence results in illness, its presence prevents or signals health, meeting an unmet need restores health.”

Source: Nursing Crib

Let’s talk about each level and the potential implications to working mothers.

I.    PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS

These needs are physical and essentially without them the continuation of human existence ceases.   Physiological needs such as food, water, oxygen, sleep, and bodily functions must be met for life to continue.

Implications to Working Mothers:

I know from personal experience that sleep becomes a challenge.  Hours get stretched so you may not have a choice but to cut into your sleeping hours to keep all the balls in the air.   Some working mothers are NEW moms – returning from maternity leave.   In many cases, these women are still being woken up by their babies in the middle of the night.  However, this likely gets better over time.

Sex is an interesting topic.   And one that is so written about that I probably don’t need to spend much time on this.   An exhausted mommy who is also working simply is exhausted.   And yes, this impacts sex with their partners.  Full stop.  Enough said.

II.   SAFETY NEEDS

Safety is both physiological and psychological.  How safe is your physical environment?   How safe do you feel psychologically?   Do you have people you can rely upon?  People that you trust?   People that you feel close to?

 Implications to Working Mothers:

I think that this is an area that can become very problematic for working mothers.   You may not be on your “A” game at work (which may be very new to them) and may feel that your job is less secure than it was in the past.    Being responsible for not only yourself but also for the new little beings that you’ve helped to enter into the world can also be a VERY powerful feeling and weight on your shoulders.   You may also be faced with the struggle over working for money to keep the family safe — and may feel like you are working now because you HAVE to for the economic interests of the family — even if this is not what you would choose to do if you had unlimited resources.

III.    LOVE & BELONGING NEEDS

The security gained from love and belonging enhances the feeling of safety. Our feeling of structure and security is reinforced when we know where we stand in relation to others, and who we are to them. We all need mutually meaningful relationships with other people.

 Implications to Working Mothers:

This could be another area in flux with working mothers.   The time that you devoted to cultivating friendships may become less frequent.   Some working mothers have the benefit of family close-by that they can rely on, but I know A LOT of families (like ourselves for instance) where extended family is far, far away — if this is you, you may feel like you are cheating yourself, your children, and your extended family the experiences of growing with your growing family.   Extended periods of time between visits can be painful.   The extra effort required may feel too un-natural.

And then there’s the topic of sex again.   Yes, the relationship you had with your husband will forever be different with the entrance of children.   However I think this is an evolution.   In the near term things are very strained but I think eventually couples can begin to accept their new relationships with each other — change, and evolve with it.    At least I hope this is the case.

IV.     SELF – ESTEEM NEEDS

This boils down to the feeling that you are valued by others.  People who are important to you tell you that you are important and valued.   However this feeling comes from within… “it is related to the assessments of our own adequacy, our performance and our capacity in the various arenas of lives, both personal and professional and that others hold one in high regard.”  Source: Nursing Crib

 Implications to Working Mothers:

This is an area where working mothers may have the “leg-up” on other women.   But I do think that it takes time to get there.   The smile on your child’s face, the squeal of your baby when he/she sees you and so on you can probably feel immediately.   But when re-entering the workforce (after maternity leave, after being a SAHM) you may not feel like you are on your “A” game, or may feel like you have two left feet.   It may take time to honestly FEEL that approval and support from your co-workers and superiors.   But when you get it, you feel on top of the world.   Yes, the feeling like you can have it all — the children, the family, and a feeling of purpose at work where you are doing well — leads to feeling of euphoria.   You become un-stoppable.

I have found in personal experience that these feelings do come, but they often do not stay.   It’s more of a roller-coaster for me, I have my up days, and also my down days when I feel like I can’t do anything right.    But I do think that this is an area where the Working Mother can derive a tremendous amount of fulfillment.

V.  SELF – ACTUALIZATION NEEDS

I’m finding it difficult to write about this one because it is still evasive to me.    Sometimes I feel like I lost the “me” to everyone else.   And I desperately want to find the “me” again – although I know deep in my heart that woman I was before marriage and kids is far, far away – I see glimpses of her every now and then, but they are fleeting.

“The need to reach one’s potential through development of one’s unique capabilities.  The process of self – actualization is on that continues throughout life. The following are qualities that indicate achievement of one’s potential:

• Acceptance of self and others as they are

• Focus of interest on problems outside of self

• Ability to be objective

• Feelings of happiness and affection for others

• Respect for all persons

• Ability to discriminate between good and evil

• Creativity as a guideline for solving problems and carrying out interests”

 Implications to Working Mothers:

I think you need to have the time to focus on self-caring of yourself for this need to be met.    And for working mothers this is difficult.   Again, time is a valuable resource that seems to be stretched in all directions except for yourself.   It is encouraging to at least know that this need is viewed as one that continues over time – gets cultivated, changes, is in motion.    So, maybe recognize that you will be able to get there once the dust settles.   Or try to devote pieces of your week for self-reflection and objectivity.

********
So why did I feel the need to post on this subject?   I feel like many of the above needs are in flux for working mothers.   But I do hope that it gets easier over time.   It also helps to explain the feelings of inadequacy, fear, and tension that you may be feeling when trying to juggle the needs of your children, the needs of your work, the needs of your partner, and the needs of yourself.
So tips for staying sane?   Maybe the first part is just recognizing that these needs are normal and apply to everyone.   They are fundamental to happiness and health.    So if you feel out of balance, extremely unhappy, or just feeling lost — try to isolate the basic need that may be unmet or partially met, and then try to take control and take action to make that situation better for yourself.    This is easier said than done, I know.
In my case, I have seriously unmet needs in terms of safety as well as love and belonging.   I also think this is true with self-actualization, but I do not expect those needs to be met at this particular point in my life.   I’ve recognized these imbalances and am trying to drive change but it has been a LONG process that has NOT been easy — and I still have a LONG way to go; but enough about me.
Hopefully this post will resonate with someone and help in some small way.   YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for listening –
– Mama K

September 23: The end of an era


This will probably be the last day where I have to work from home, while caring for Twin Crazy and Twin Husky.   It is a bittersweet moment.   We have all gotten used to each other, a new routine, and I’ve figured out how to manage work while having them around.  
 
Highlights of the Morning and Commute:
  • I don’t remember much different happening this morning, with the exception of Hubby springing on me (at the last minute) that he had to drive to Sacramento for work.  That meant that I had to take all kids to all drop offs, which normally wouldn’t be a problem except that the Twins didn’t HAVE  a drop off.   So this meant that I had to gather all of the kids together and drop of Big Bro at Kindergarten with EVERYONE.    That also meant that I actually had to dress the Twins in clothes.   It would be a little to much to walk around with kids in PJs.   So, we were running late.   We miraculously made it to his line-up before the last bell, and I can’t even begin to tell you all of the looks that we were getting from people.  “Are they ALL siblings??!??!?!??!”  “Yes, they are….”.     Big Bro and Red were AMAZING big siblings.   They were so proud.  Big Bro was actually excited to have everyone in line with him — and he was the leader with our gaggle.   We were all following him.   He was so proud.
Four kids
Four kids
  • Then we dropped of Red.   Daycare was giving us alot of attention becuase the Twins were dressed in “real” clothes.   When I said it was time to go to the Twins, Twin Husky promptly left the room and wandered into the lobby of the daycare center.   They are well known there so folks knew where to bring him back.
  • We then headed back for my day at “work”

Highlights of My Working Day:

  • In terms of work, I arranged and re-arranged several meetings, followed up to secure some presentations, and then was wounded when a Director said that several of our forums were “light” on speakers.   How do I secure speakers for a meeting that will happen in less than 2 weeks?    Ugggh!!!!    So we talked a bit and brainstormed some options.  I quickly had to jump on this to set ourselves up for Plan B, C, D to fill out our Agendas.
  • In terms of kids, we had fun.  We had snacks, played with cars, played with musical instruments, walked outside and talked about the flowers, the birds singing, and also picked some apples.   We had lots of apples for snacks, and bananas.  Kids took a long nap in the late morning which gave me time to work.   Lunch was cute.  Hot dogs, broccoli, and tortillas.  Then I took out some peaches and the kids went nuts.   I gave Twin Husky a haircut (he was so good…. he just sat there eating a graham cracker…. no problem at all).   They played with scooters, I read them books, we colored (finally I have some art to save for them).   Twin Crazy hurt her foot a couple of times and I kissed it to make it feel better.   I tried a pony-tail with her and it drove her mad.   Twin Husky climbed on top of the coffee table and stood up and laughed.   We sat on the rocking chair together and rested.   I loved this time with them.
  • Hubby arrived from Sacramento and he offered to pick up Big Bro and Red – and also pick up food.   🙂

Dinner and Bedtime:

  • Dinner was outrageously good — BBQ.  Everyone ate well.  Everyone wanted more mac-n-cheese but they needed to eat meat first.   All kids understood including the Twins.  Hubby and I drank wine.
  • Big Bro kept mentioning a puppet show.   He said it was happening tonight.  I called “after care” and they were closed.  I said I would check the website.  “Yeah mommy, check the website.” (weird how these kids know that kindof stuff).   Low and behold, there was a puppet show happening at the elementary school at 6:45.    But it was 7:00!!!!    QUICK GET YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS ON LET’S GO TO THE PUPPET SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    I ran with Big Bro and Red, while Hubby stayed back with the Twins.  We caught the last 10 minutes of the show but at least we got to see the puppeteer and her demonstration on how the puppets work.  That was an interesting and out-of-the-ordinary event for us.   Just to be cool, Big Bro said that the show was “boring”.   Does he have to become such a tough-guy so soon??!??!?!
  • All kids went to sleep easily.   Big Bro is so tired these days because of no nap.  Red gives me a HUGE hug and grabs my arms so tight.

Today was a great day, and this week was a great week.   I do hope though that our daycare provider is OK and that her husband is doing OK.   I feel bad for feeling so happy for being with the kids because of the circumstances.  This was a great week for us.   And next week will be a BEAR of a week — the last week that things need to be pulled together since the following week will be a trip to the East Coast for two big meetings.   Ones that I will be responsible for and need to facilitate, present, and make sure that everyone is happy.    Oh, and also try to scout out consulting opportunities too.   The reason why I took on this role was that it seemed like less stress, but also provided me the opportunity to be client facing and sell work.   So I need to make that happen or else this will make me bored after awhile.

Have a great weekend everyone; Till next week –

– Mama K

Recipe: Citrus-Garlic Roasted Chicken


This recipe was submitted by “Mama S” from Orinda, CA and she cites Claire Robinson, Food Network.   This is in her weekly rotation now and her kids love it.   She claims it is easy so don’t let the ingredients scare you.   The prep/cook time is a little longer so use this on a night when you have extra time and do not need to feed your kids immediately.   I’m thinking that you could also use this same marinade on boneless breasts that have been “flattened” and then cooked quickly on the stove.  Thank you Mama S!!!

Ingredients

  • 4 large bone-in, skin on chicken breasts, about 3 pounds (I use skinless & boneless thighs)
  • 4 large whole chicken thighs, about 2 pounds
  • 1/2 navel orange, zested, plus the juice of 1 whole orange (I zest whole orange)
  • 2 limes, 1 zested, both juiced (I zest both limes)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I use 1 TBSP)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (I use 6 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

Put the chicken in a large nonmetalic bowl. Put the orange and lime zests in a small bowl and add the fruit juices. Whisk in the olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and a generous grind of black pepper.  Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss until well coated.  Marinate for 20 to 30 minutes but no longer than 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put a rack on a rimmed baking sheet. With tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and arrange them on the rack leaving space between each piece. Drizzle a small spoonful of the marinade over the top of each chicken piece; season well with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when meat is pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.

Cooks well on grill too.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Cool slightly before serving or let stand until room temperature before refrigerating for later use.

Prep time – 10m + 30m to marinade

Cook time – 45m

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