November 10: My “first” day as a stay-at-home Mom

I feel like today starts a brand new chapter in my life. I stayed at home instead of going to the office, and DID NOT WORK while I was at home. I worked as a Mom. There are so many things going through my mind right now, after the end of this day. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Will the novelty wear off? Will I become a better worker because of this time with my children? How will this affect me professionally? How will this affect me as a person? As a mother? As a woman?

I am now a part-time worker. I’ve committed to working 20 hours per week, for 1/2 of my pay. I will be in the office on Monday and Tuesday, working from home on Wednesday as as a 1/2 day. This gives me quite a lot of time with my kids. The plan now is for me to have the Twins on Thursday and Fridays; and I will have the flexibility to “steal” any of the kids early on Wednesday, as well as Big Bro and Red on Thursday and Fridays as well. Its up to me. It depends on how I feel I’ve connected with each of the kids and if I think a particular child needs more of me. I will have flexibility with the Twins’ current daycare provider to bring them in on Thursday or Friday if I need to.

From a work perspective, I need to be in the office for two days so I can still be in front of the staff and be part of leadership of the office. I will still coordinate and manage some of our forums, but I am still expected to sell consulting projects and continue to develop/cultivate client relationships. In terms of project delivery, I will serve more of an “advisor” or “director” type role, but for some projects I may have to do some more heavy lifting depending upon our pipeline and workload of our team. We are going to see how this arrangement works over the next few weeks and re-adjust if needed.

So how did my first day go? There were lots of kisses, hugs, conflict resolution, cooking, playing, tears (not me thank goodness), running, laughing, puzzles, hide and seek, diapering, playing outside and pointing to trees, sneezes, little hands pulling at my legs, cutting fingernails, snacks and holding cups with two hands, coloring, reading, chasing, sleeping, and cleaning. Some aspects of my day were magical. Here are some of the more special moments:

  • I woke up to Red in our bed, singing to herself (or to an imaginary friend?) the ABCs, and then asking him/her if they knew the ABCs, and then her singing softly again. Her voice is like an angel. The way she sings is so sweet. The way she uses inflection when she asks her questions like a little mommy is just too sweet. I really need to capture this on video.
  • I dropped of Big Bro with all of the kids in tow. We parked the van and together crossed the street all holding hands. Once we got to the line I think Big Bro got a bit embarrassed so he came up to me and said that it was time for me to leave. My heart. He always gets a bit anxious when his school and family worlds collide – and I think his gaggle of siblings was a bit much for him. So I honored his request and we walked to the car.
  • I walked to the car with the kids slowly. I was holding Twin Crazy’s hand, and Twin Husky’s hand. Red had Twin Husky’s other hand. We walked slowly. We took our time. There was no rush. We took the crosswalk. I explained the concept of a cross walk to them. I looked up to the sky as I walked with these little hands in my own and I took deep, deep breaths as we walked along. I couldn’t help but smile. My babies are with me. I am not rushing for anybody or anything. We are together. I made a game out of the walk, stopping at each car parked along the road and asking “Is THIS our car??”, and the kids would say “Nooooooooooooo.” After two or three times they understood that I was joking and they all started laughing. We did this for 8 or so cars until we found ours. The kids all listened well, held hands, held still on the sidewalk as I was getting kids inside. I can handle this on my own. I felt strong and liberated at that moment.
  • At snacktime, Twin Crazy and Twin Husky each sat at their little table with their feet hanging down. I sat on the floor next to them, talking to them. Grabbing their feet. Commending them on their ability to drink from a REAL cup with both hands. At one point Twin Husky and I grabbed eye contact and he would not look away. I just sat there staring into his eyes. He still would not look away. He had a big grin on his face. He reached out and touched my eye, my nose. He smiled and laughed under his breath and leaned forward with his head so that his forehead touched mine. I thought this was so sweet. How this interaction happened between us without any words. Just loving looks, and gestures. I couldn’t help but cup his face in my hands and kiss the top of his head. It was a great moment between us.
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  • At about 10 AM both seemed a bit tired; I picked up Twin Husky and he immediately put his head down on my shoulder and his little strong arms engulfed me – his little hands grasping at my shoulders and shirt – holding tight. Cuddling in deep into my body. I swayed with him to the music for about 10 minutes, holding his head and neck like he was an infant, feeling the weight of his body on mine, feeling his cheek against mine, feeling him breathe. After 10 minutes of that he started to struggle away and was ready to play again.
  • When they were going down for their naps, I heard them playing and laughing and cracking up. They do this on weekends too but usually we are also dealing with the other kids so I never really stop to listen. This day I had the opportunity to listen to these twins. How they talk to each other. How they interact and crack each other up. How they misbehave by not going to sleep. I opened the door and both were standing up and immediately dove down into their individual cribs. It was too funny. I also caught a movie of it but am having trouble uploading it to this site.
  • After their naps I could tell that each was having a hard time and were not waking up easily – they did not seem refreshed. So I carried them downstairs and sat with each of them on my lap on a big leather rocking chair and cuddled with each of them, rocking back and forth, not saying a thing. I don’t think I’ve ever done this with both of them. It was awesome.
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  • In the afternoon I gave them some juice and after 5 minutes both of them were running around and I was chasing them and crawling after them and they were hiding and cracking up. It was so much fun. I would kiss their bellies after “getting” them and they would let me and then run away laughing. This went on for 15 minutes or so and I was exhausted afterwards from laughing and chasing.
  • There was so much more that happened during the day – and cute things that happened with Big Bro and Red too, but for now I just want to capture the more magical moments – those that were new to me, or those that just touched me in some way.

    It was a great day.

    Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and schools are closed. I’m planning on bringing all of them into the city, stopping by work to say hi, and maybe taking them to a museum. We’ll see how it goes. I’m looking forward to it.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    November 9: Busy as a bee

    Today we woke up very early, probably due to DST. Twin Husky was singing and woke us up.

    Highlights of the Morning:

    • Twin Husky was singing, along with Twin Crazy, but it was Red who came into our room first. She was talking about the wallet that I helped her make and the pretend money. She was explaining to Hubby that we made a wallet and money together and that Big Bro gave his home-made wallet to Red too, because I had my old wallet up for grabs. So Big Bro is pumped about my old wallet, and Red is thrilled that she has two wallets, one of which is a hand-me-down from Big Bro.
    • I grabbed the Twins from their room. They were busy playing in the cribs, doing dives and jumping and laughing. I changed Twin Crazy since she was soaked through with pee. I need to change the way we do her diapers since now she’s a 100% stomach-sleeper. We’re going through lots of PJs and bedsheets these days.
    • I take a quick shower and then help downstairs with breakfast. Oatmeal is such a hit at hour house that I need to think through a more economical way to do it. We’re going through 4-5 packets of instant per day, between 3 kids. On the weekends I make the homemade stuff which still is fast — the 1 minute cook stuff. And I add brown sugar and butter to make it delicious. I can buy that stuff in bulk at Costco. I want to start doing that during the week too so we can save money and not go through the food so fast.
    • I helped to change Big Bro and Red. Red picked out her clothes the night before which helped. The “carrot” of the childrens’ vitamins after the dressing also helps a bit to get them moving.
    • We were so early today that we all took our drop-offs together. First Red, then Twins, then Big Bro.

    I’m on the ferry now and this will be my last working day of the week. I will be off Thursday and Friday and am looking forward to the time I will be able to spend with the kids. But, today will be VERY busy for me at work. I think it will take some time to get used to this arrangement — for me, my kids, and my colleagues. I am willing to tweak here and there to make it work for everyone.

    I am particularly excited about spending more time with the Twins. Time that I never really had with Big Bro and Red. I want to do arts-and-crafts with them. I want to take them to museums. To “sing-a-longs” at the library. To the park. I mostly just want to sit and talk with them.

    Today at work I will need to work on several proposals — 3 in total. Plus find time to work on my project. Plus find time to close out some loose ends with the meetings that just wrapped up. Plus find time to refine our selling materials for our other service offering that we are developing. I will be working back-to-back all day today and hopefully my time will be efficient so I can feel good about taking off the rest of the week. I can’t drop any balls or else this arrangement will likely have to change…. Through my career I’ve learned to use my Outlook calendar religiously. There are blocks of times for meetings, but I also block out time for myself dedicated to specific work that I need to do. And I’m true to those “bookings” of time. If I need to re-arrange, I do – but I never cancel. If someone needs to schedule a meeting, then based on priority I will have them schedule around my calendar, and schedule something on the next day if needed. This system seems to work well for me.

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    OMG more discussions and I am officially a part-time employee! My day today was VERY compressed and efficient – I essentially was back to back with meetings; I think this will work well for my company, essentially they will get more out of me for each hour I spend…. here are the highlights

    • I read materials for my client project to get a better understanding of the proposed partnership opportunity we will be evaluating; reached out to subject-matter-experts and secured one interview, and am in process of securing at least 2 others. Primary interviews is research where you actually TALK to the market. You typically can learn SO MUCH MORE than you ever could just surfing the web. You need to be prepared for these discussions though…. you need to have your must-have questions fully organized but still be flexible enough to let the conversations flow – this is where you learn and pick up on other aspects of the business that you may not have otherwise. So I’m excited that we are in process of getting these set up. This was client “billable” time for me.
    • I lead a discussion with another relationship that I cultivated and we proposed for strategy consulting work. It was a great conversation and there are some MINOR modifications to the language of our proposal. They really liked what they saw. The only major thing I have left to do is price the effort – which can be tricky. We bid on fixed price projects but sometimes it is difficult to really estimate the level of effort for the project. I will need to focus on that so we can give him the revised proposal with the price estimate on Monday. This is the first of the proposals that resulted from the meetings I lead earlier last month.
    • Had more discussions with my Directors on my reduced work week. All are in support and we worked on a communication plan so that everyone is aware of my availability, reachability. I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS. They gave me hugs afterwards. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive firm to work for.
    • I had another business development meeting for a separate proposal we will prepare. I consolidated our list of questions and the Director submitted; the potential client will answer these questions and from here we will be able to craft a compelling proposal.
    • I refined/repositioned marketing materials for one of the initiatives I am leading. I will need to restart outreach to solicit potential members next week with these materials.
    • I met with a consultant who drafted a proposal for a lead that I brought in from another meeting from early last month. This is the 2nd proposal resulting from the meetings I lead earlier last month.
    • I worked with our technology team to get my iPhone set up to receive/send work email. Although I will not be working, if I see anything client-related that is urgent I will respond or forward to a colleague as appropriate.

    I AM SO EXCITED! I’m on the ferry now, thinking about what I will do with the Twins tomorrow. I’m planning on taking all four to the museum on Friday since it is Veteran’s Day and school/daycare is closed. My stress level is washing away from my shoulders and I am looking forward to being a mom to my kids.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • I picked up Red, then Big Bro, then the Twins.  All were in reasonably good moods.  Whew!
    • As I made dinner, the kids were all drawing.   I like giving them projects so that they are entertained as I am busy.
    • Dinner was pasta with sauce on the side.   Kids were helping me with the other kids.   For example, Red got Big Bro a bowl for his sauce, Big Bro was serving sauce in the bowls, and Red was helping with the Twins.  They really do look out for each other which warms my heart so much.
    • After dinner, there was a mad rush of activity around believe it or not, an Amazon box.   Out of ALL the toys we have in this house, ALL four kids decided that it was the best fun to play inside of this box.  They took turns individually, then as subsets of kids, then even all four of them at the same time.  It was hysterical.
    Four kids and an Amazon box

    Four kids and an Amazon box

    • Then they moved on to the parade:
    • I then got some chocolate milk for everyone to get them to calm down for the evening.  I had a “mommy chocolate milk” (AKA Guinness).  I got Big Bro started on his homework and Red started on a picture while I took the Twins upstairs.    They are so easy.
    • Then we did Big Bro homework and I helped Red color in some pictures.  She is so funny.  She draws squares, and then indicates with a dot within each square the ones that she wants me to color.   She is so decisive and delegates so easily – tells me exactly what I’m supposed to do.  So cute.
    Everyone is upstairs, I am happy with a Guinness already down, and also looking forward to my day tomorrow with the kids.  I’m definitely going to have the Twins – I’m not sure what I feel like doing with Red.   I may have her join the fun as well.
    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K




    November 8: So much happening!

    Chocolate Tuesday! That meant that Big Bro was up and ready. We woke up to all of the kids up at the same time.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • I gave big hugs and kisses to everyone in the morning. This is a little thing that I do without fail, for each of them, every day. I even used to sing a song for it, but now with so many kids it would take too long….
    • At one point in the morning before I got into the shower, I looked at the kids and it was the funniest thing. They were all standing shoulder to shoulder, just watching me as I got my things together to get ready to get to the shower. It was so strange yet so cute. 8 big eyeballs focused on my every movement. I felt like I was on stage. I thought a perfect picture opportunity but by the time I got the camera the older ones (wiser) were out of there and I only had the Twins left in position.
    • Breakfast was great for all; Chocolate Tuesdays are always a bit easier than the other days. Twin Crazy was already dressed but she had oatmeal all down herself. She is getting very particular about being dirty, especially her hands. So she was reasonably upset. I gathered another set of clothes for her and got her changed when she was ready.
    • I gathered clothes for Big Bro and Red and had such a hard time getting them dressed. They kept rejecting the outfits. I know we have better luck when they pick out their clothes, but we will need to do this the night before just for logistics. I’ll try that tonight. Get them to pick out their stuff and I’ll have everything ready downstairs for the next morning.
    • We were running a bit late so we divided the drop offs. Hubby did Big Bro and the Twins. I dropped off Red. We took our time. I had a alot of extra hairbands on my wrist so I had her pick out her hairband for today and also she wanted extras to be kept at school. We wet her hair in her school bathroom and she showed me all of the pottys. And the wall where you line up and wait. She had fun showing me these things. I wet her hair and then I sat her down and took my time putting her hair into a pony-tail. Probably too much time. But I enjoyed this time with her. She then picked out the hairband for me to wear today. She gave me lots of hugs on my way out. I told her I wanted to “bottle them up”. She wouldn’t stop. I then suggested she give her teacher some hugs. That was a good transition for me to leave her room.
    • Her school is closed this Friday so I am looking forward to spending more time with her. I will take the day off if my reduced work-week is not approved by then.

    Now I’m on the ferry, the sun is out but it is cold. I feel like I had sufficient time with Red today but felt rushed with the rest. I feel a bit empty on those mornings when I do not connect with each of them in some special way. I helped Twin Crazy get clean, and joked with Big Bro about how he doesn’t want to kiss or hug me in front of his friends, but poor Twin Husky was a bit out of my reach this morning. I helped him when his leg get stuck in a chair but that was basically it. I’ll want to spend extra time with him tonight.

    For work today, I have several meetings set up but I don’t remember what they are for. I will also need to start on project work, and I really need to close up loose ends with the meetings that just passed. It should be a busy day.

    HIghlights of My Working Day:
    OMG so much happened today that I am really not sure where to begin. I just walked onto the ferry for home with the biggest smile on my face.

    • I had a quick meeting today to plan for a client project that I will be delivering. We talked about potential sources of information and people in the industry that we need to talk to, to get the information we need to complete the project. My colleague also found an AMAZING source document that will be the basis from which to start the work. I was drooling over it. It was the kind of thing that I want to close my door and read and immediately create the working documents that will serve as our deliverable. It was terrific. I will have fun with this project.
    • I also lead a team meeting for a firm initiative that we are partnering with; essentially we need to rethink our approach to our service offering based upon conversations we’ve (I’ve) had with potential members/clients. We need to think through the target audience and also clearly define how our offering will be different from others based upon our new thinking of approach. I put myself on the line to modify our sales materials and distribute to the team so that we can secure more clients to participate in the effort. It was another successful call and I feel hopeful for this initiative. It would involve more meeting planning and travel – but more client facing and relationship building, which I am excited about. I would also get credit for the sales initiative and developing a service offering from scratch.
    • I spent some time looking through a “Request for Proposal” and thinking through our firm’s questions for clarification, which are due on Thursday. The Director has asked me to consolidate the questions and send off to the client by due date — so he is pointing to me to lead the client management for this proposal.
    • I had a discussion with two Directors about my proposal for reduced workweek. Both support what I want to do, but both raise risks/concerns about me being out of sight out of mind. They therefore want me to be in the office for 2 of the 3 working days. They also want me to continue being aggressive with sales – this will be important for my personal development as well as the growth of the office. They see me as part of our office/firm leadership and they want me to make sure that I am aggressive and use my time wisely to be client facing and team facing. They don’t want me to back down on my approach to sales. They think I have what it takes play a bigger role in office management – even with the reduction in work week! I am so psyched about how things are working out for me – they definitely value my contribution and they NEED ME and WANT ME to stay, to continue to grow, and continue to work with our clients to build a strong management presence in our office. So happy. Really. So happy.

    So I am on the ferry now with a huge weight lifted off of my chest. This has been a long time coming. My company has been so patient with me. I have devoted 8 1/2 years to them and had to prove myself in different ways but also prove that I am VALUED, versatile, and willing to work together as a team to think through a working arrangement that will benefit me, my family, my children, and the company. I FEEL LIKE CELEBRATING!!!!!!!!!!

    Hoooo-hummm. But now what do I do for dinner?!?!?!? My poor kiddos. I’ll get better at this, really. What do I do with my Twins this Thursday and Friday?!??!?!?! The zoo, visit to the city, aquarium, hmmmmmm – the possibilities are ENDLESS.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • I picked up Red first and for some reason she burst into tears. She must have had a hard day for some reason. The teachers couldn’t really explain it. Then was the pick up for Big Bro and the Twins.
    • I cooked a REALLY quick dinner of mac-n-cheese, frozen peas, and frozen shrimp. Big Bro made “name tags” for the family and set them at the table where each person would sit. Red helped mix the cheese powder with milk. Twin Crazy was busy drinking (and spilling) water out of a cup. Twin Husky was playing with a pot and had some water in it so he felt like he was cooking too. Before you knew it, the dinner was ready and the kids were done eating at 6:15!!!
    • Afterwards we colored (Twins!), did puzzles, ran around with soccer balls, danced, and drank chocolate milk.
    • The Twins love brushing their teeth.
    • Red got upset that I forgot to give her a second half of a banana. My heart broke because of HOW she said it. The anguish in her voice and her face just broke my heart. I had to explain to her that I forgot to give her the other half of the banana — it wasn’t HER, it was ME. I forgot by accident, not on purpose, and that I was so sorry. I held her in the kitchen as she ate a banana and she looked at me with such a smile on her face. I wanted that moment to last so I was slow as I walked her up the stairs.

    Now I’m on the couch thinking back on the day, thinking about tomorrow (I will be quite busy), and also thinking about Thursday and Friday — what to do with the kids?!?!?!?! I’m excited.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    November 7: Back together again!

    Back at work after a great weekend with Big Bro, Red, and my father. We woke up to the kids laughing and reuniting with one another, since the Twins came home late last night.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • We woke up to children’s  laughter. Big Bro kissing Twin Husky as Twin Husky rolling around on the floor. Giggles. Red running around laughing. Twin Crazy a bit sick so a bit cranky.
    • Everyone was hungry – Twins are now actively asking for what they want with their words, which is making things much easier.
    • Red gives Twin Crazy her new water bottle and Twin Crazy downs half of the water. Red gets upset but I quickly wash the bottle and get her new, fresh water to stem a tantrum from happening.
    • Twins are getting oatmeal all over themselves.
    • Big Bro and Red are busy eating.
    • I help 3 of the 4 to get dressed.
    • We are early so all leave together – 3 drop offs (Red, Twins, Big Bro) and then me an Hubby to the Ferry.

    Today at work I will be starting a new project, forming a plan for a new proposal, and also tying up loose ends from the meetings we recently had.

    Highlights of My Working Day:

    • Today was a day about business development. We had an internal meeting to plan our response to a Request for Proposal, I had a phone conversation with a potential client as a result of our meetings from last month, and I scheduled a phone conversation to discuss our proposal with another potential client as a result of our meetings last week. My goal out of this new role was not only to generate value for our company and the members for these meetings, but also to walk away with potential consulting projects. My goal was three proposals. Now we’re at 2. I have one more to go to reach my personal goal!
    • I also started to organize my thinking around a project we are starting this week – I had the lead contact so I’m feeling responsible for this one.
    • I also started to prepare for some meetings that I will have on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ve learned through my career to NEVER come to a meeting unprepared. Even having the documents quickly skimmed and some initial questions/reactions is better than nothing. In our company, people remember the meetings where someone does not add anything — then why were they there???!? Not only should you participate, but have your thoughts organized. Contributions should be concise and to the point, otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time. This gets noticed too.

    I’m now on the commute home – taking the ferry is not as fun when it is cold and gray. And it is cold and gray today. I have some “flat meat” that I bought over the weekend so dinner will be easy.

    Monday’s are always a bit rough for us as a family – and I think tonight will be worse since it will be darker earlier. I envision breakdowns earlier than normal, so am ready to start the bedtime routine earlier if we need to tonight.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • I picked up all kids quickly since it was cold and the sun was going down FAST!
    • Dinner took about 10 minutes from start to finish. Flat meat (pork), frozen string-beans zapped in the microwave, and cous-cous. Everyone was at the table eating within 15 minutes!
    • There was lots of fun tonight. I think all the kids were thrilled to be together again. Big Bro acting like a monster under a blanket crawling after his siblings, Red/Twins were doing “downward dog” positions as I cracked up, Twin Crazy didn’t mind me “bulbing” snot out of her nose (she kept laughing), kids were playing with balls all over the place (and then we made a game about working together to clean them up), and even puzzles.

    • There were only a few accidents. Red hit her head on an open drawer. Twin Husky took a swing at a bat and hit Red in the head by accident. Kids were tripping over Big Bro as he was pretending to be a monster under the blanket. And the Twins kept trying to do puzzles but really they were just running around with puzzle pieces getting everyone else anxious.
    • Twins had fun brushing their teeth and reading books. They gave each other kisses and went to bed quickly, saying “Nite nite” over and over again. Too cute.
    • Bedtime routine was terribly long for Big Bro and Red. A lot of time was devoted to “homework” which we probably should move up earlier in the evening.

    It was a fine Monday; I’m feeling pretty relaxed and enjoying my iPad and iPhone. It makes blogging and adding pictures much more fun and efficient.

    Till tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    Staying Sane: Ice-cream in the Rain

    What I enjoy most these days are those special moments when time almost stands still and your brain starts to actually think like a child’s.

    This happened over the weekend.    After lots of activities in the morning (buying new pajamas, hitting baseballs, kicking soccer balls), both Big Bro and Red had VERY long naps – this likely had to do with the cold weather and the pouring rain.  After they both got up we all decided to go out for dinner.   I wanted to start a tradition.   On weekends if it is raining and if the kids are good I want to take them out for ice-cream.

    We gathered our rain gear, headed out for dinner (kids still in pajamas), and then braved the weather with inside-out umbrellas on the way to get ice-cream.

    Thinking like a child.  Getting excited for the big treat.   The adventure in the rain.  Holding the umbrella.   Not realizing that it will go inside-out from the wind and getting a big surprise when it does.   Walking through the rivers of rain.   Feeling the chill in the air and not caring.   Getting picked up to see the ice-cream flavors.    Looking at all of the colors… wondering which one to pick.   Sitting next to Pop-Pop on a Saturday night with the ice-cream shop filled with people.   Knowing it is silly wearing pajamas outside of the house.  Wearing a cat raincoat and loving it.   Not minding sticky hands or a sticky face.     Being 3.  Being 5.    Reaching up to hold a hand as we cross the street – wind blowing the cold rain.   Home.   Sweetness.   Cuddles on the couch.  Kisses goodbye and sleep.

    This was one of the glimpses of childhood that I had the joy of experiencing over the weekend.   A memory I will likely replay to balance future days when I need to.

    November 4: Back home!

    This morning I wore a newly purchased outfit and finished up our meeting.   I had to leave a bit early to catch my flight home, but I made a point to personally say goodbye to each of the clients that I met on this trip.   All in all, it was a good trip.  I had time to myself to relax and soak in life.  I also had a good time with the meetings and things were relatively interesting.  I had amazing food and even came home with jackets and trousers to round out my wardrobe.

    I missed my children but I knew I would have some extra time with them today since I took an earlier flight back.   I met my dad at home and walked into a house that smelled of a roast cooking.   Together we walked to pick up the Twins.   It was so sweet reuniting with them.   Twin Crazy was jumping up and down and jumping on me and throwing her arms around my neck.  Twin Husky was excited, but he was playing “cool”.   My dad was with us so they also thought that was interesting.   They are not used to being picked up early.   Twin Crazy was busy scaling up the stroller to get in – Twin Husky was hesitant – it seemed like he wanted to stay there and play a bit.   I feel like both have changed somewhat in the 3 days I’ve been away.  Twin Husky looks bigger to me.   Twin Crazy seems more expressive. Both are adorable and my dad (a Twin himself) is so proud to be the grandfather of twins.

    We then went to pick up Big Bro.  He was happy to see Pop Pop and also happy to hear that his new bike lock came in the mail.   We all walked home together.  He held my hand and talked about the past few days to fill me in on what I missed.  Apparently Twin Crazy unwrapped a lollipop and ate it.   So cute.   It was a beautiful day.  We passed a playground but Big Bro wanted to get home quickly instead.

    Pop pop stayed back with the kids while I picked up Red.   Her face was beaming.  I love that child to pieces.   We walked in and she immediately ran to Pop pop.  He has a way with her.   They are always goofy together.    We had a great dinner, then all sat down to Shrek and some popcorn.

    The kids are all in bed now — I think sufficiently exhausted.  I think my dad’s exhausted too.   We’re going to sit back and relax for a bit now and will likely call it a night early.   My dad only has tomorrow and will leave very early on Sunday morning.    We will be with Big Bro and Red, while Hubby heads to his folks’ place with the Twins.

    I’m not sure what we’ll do tomorrow, but I bet there will be some time devoted to Big Bro’s bike and his new bike lock.

    Till next week –
    – Mama K

    November 3: Managing just fine being away, sometimes, well… not really.

    Today I am away from home for work.   I arrived yesterday, and will go back home tomorrow.   First of all, I need to describe to you the hotel I’m at – think water fountains everywhere, HUGE comfy bed, spa, pools, ocean view from my private balcony.    I am not used to living like this.   I am not used to the quiet.   I immediately signed up for spa services yesterday when I arrived, knowing that I would not have an opportunity to take advantage of them the rest of the trip.    The picture below briefly documents the type of experience – whirlpools, spa, massage.  Bliss.


    Today we had an all day meeting with several speakers and the audience were various clients.   I was not responsible for leading or facilitating this meeting, unlike the others where I had full responsibility.   So this was really a look and learn experience for me, as well as client management/ relationship building/ “making people feel comfortable” role.    I learned a lot, as usual.  I connected with old faces and new faces.   My force of personality makes me comfortable in these situations.   I like meeting new people.  I like connecting with them on some level.   And I particularly like doing this when not under pressure.

    During a break I reviewed and sent out a draft proposal for consulting services, for a lead that I cultivated.   Hopefully he will agree on the scope and approach so that we may price it accordingly – I hope we win this one.   I also arranged/accepted various meetings for the upcoming week.

    After the day long meeting I decided to go shopping.   I think I grabbed the last of the “must have” pieces for my new wardrobe.   Is the “Year of [Mama K]” shopping spree over?   I’m not sure yet….

    I had a  fabulous dinner and then finished the evening next to a fire-pit with s’mores, with our clients, talking about traveling, families, and tragedies like 9/11.

    This was not the best way to end my evening.   I’m already on shaking ground in terms of outlook and this just reinforced my feelings of unhappiness and anxiety.  I am so scared.  Scared for me, my family and my children.   Scared that I cannot provide the kind of life and opportunities that I should for them.   Scared to pull back from work, frightened that as a family we are not using good judgement for the choices that we should make for the sake of these children.  Scared that we are not living by the mantra of “family first”.   I need to feel like we are doing everything we should for these kids.  And now I just want to curl up and go to sleep, and stop thinking about these things, because so many of these choices are not within my control.

    On that note I will finish the day and hope that tomorrow is better; it has to be — I will be re-united with my kids.   🙂

    Til tomorrow

    -Mama K

    Recipes: Tacos with Leftovers

    This is another submission from Mama N from Austin TX — thank you Mama N!   This is a twist of an old favorite and very efficient with what you have leftover in your refrigerator – plus I can see the appeal with kids – anything “build your own” is a hit in our house.

    Note from Mama N:  “Another one that we use quite a bit is taco night — but it is completely dependent on what you have left over — then you just use that plus 1 pound of ground beef cooked with a BUNCH of chile powder and a can of wolf brand chili (beans or no beans). We use taco night to get rid of whatever veggie or other thing we have in the fridge ;). Or, if doing from scratch we put a bunch of iceberg lettuce tomatoes mixed with vinegrette and shredded cheese on top. Of course, good salsa always helps too!”


    • leftover ingredients in your fridge
    • ground beef (1 pound)
    • chili powder
    • can of chili
    • salsa
    • lettuce, tomatoes, cheese (if no leftovers from fridge)
    • taco shells


    • cook meat and warm leftovers, add chili and seasonings
    • warm shells
    • prepare / cut / shred other ingredients (as required)

    Prep time:   5 – 10 minutes (includes search time)

    Cook time:  10- 15 min

    November 2: Away and alone

    Today I packed up and left on a flight for a work trip. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad. I feel like I’m just going through the motions.

    My flight wasn’t scheduled until after 1:30 so I took the opportunity to work from home this am. It also allowed me to ride with Big Bro this am and stroll with the Twins. I said goodbye to Red and asked her if it was ok to pick her up early on Friday. She said yes with a smile. I will also have my dad with me since he’s flying in for a weekend visit. I’m looking forward to that.

    The ride with Big Bro was quiet. We went alone without the “pack” of riders from Monday. It was peaceful. He took his time without the need or pressure to keep up with the bigger kids. I was with him. The Twins were with him. We quietly made our way to the school. He asked for me to get him a lock for his bike, which I promptly ordered from amazon when I got home. The Twins enjoyed their stroll. Twin Husky was busy at the edge of his seat looking around at everything and saying words. Twin Crazy was quiet – the breeze flowing through her hair. She would sneak a look up towards me from time to time and grin like you wouldn’t believe. I would hold her face and look into her eyes and call her my “sweetie” each and every time.

    Once everyone was dropped off I just felt very alone. I walked home with the empty stroller and REALLY wanted the tears to come but for some reason they just couldn’t. Again the feeling of numbness. Crispness in the air. Brown leaves on the ground. Starting to feel connected to a community yet still feeling lost, unwound, broken. Almost glad to be leaving this for a couple of days.

    I got home and did some work. I headed to the airport. I had a call with two Directors about a reduced workweek. They support this idea for me. They need to discuss it with some others though first before it becomes official. I can wait for that. I have the patience of an elephant although it has been tested and pushed to the limit this past year and even years prior. I need this job. But I need more of me back. For myself and for my kids. I want to be a mom first above everything else. I’ve sacrificed too much and for too long. Now it’s my turn.

    I’m on the plane now and am feeling ok. A bit sad. Not as energized as I would like to be. Missing the kids already and aching for more clarity in my life. Wondering where the old me went and if I’ll be able to get her back. Wanting to laugh but feeling too tired.

    It will be good to be out tonight with colleagues and clients. I know I’ll be able to rustle up the energy I need for that. I’m thankful for having this outlet and small break to reflect on things and hopefully enjoy myself and squeeze in some laughs. Even if they are forced.

    Til tomorrow,
    – Mama K

    p.s. I’m now at the hotel and have had an amazing change of heart! Look at this place!!!! I’m going to see if there is room for me for a massage before dinner! At a minimum, I’m going to use the outside hot-tub and pool! And maybe get a frosty drink! Life does not suck now. 🙂


    November 1: Back to work, selling work, starting more work

    Back to the rush and bustle of a normal commute to work.   I was struggling, and the kids were really calling for Mommy this morning.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • For some reason, we woke up to Red in our bed this morning.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I didn’t mind.   I liked snuggling up to her and holding her.  She likes to play with my hair.   I missed her from her weekend away from me and things were so busy yesterday that I feel the need to spend extra time with her.
    • I got a message from our neighbor about this morning’s “ride” – Big Bro and I talked about it the night before and he prefers if I go and only me – he thinks the kids go too fast and he can’t keep up.  I think his bike just needs to be adjusted a bit.   I honored his request today but would love to see him fold in with the “pack”.
    • Twins were up so I helped to set them up with breakfast – they are both loving oatmeal these days.   I’m running out of my stash.  I’ll need to stock up.   Over the weekend I made the home-made stuff but during the week we need the luxury of quick packets – I can’t believe how much they are eating.   “Oatmeal.  Oatmeal.”
    • I shower and dress, quickly.  No make up.  Did nothing with my hair.
    • I helped to get Big Bro and Red dressed.   Red wanted to wear her Hello Kitty Halloween shirt.  So then Twin Crazy wanted hers too.
    • Twin Husky was running around getting into trouble.  Getting stuck in chairs, shoving his face into a pre-school magnifying glass (I wish I grabbed a picture of that), and just running around the place at break-neck pace.
    • Red had a hard time getting packed up.  Twin Crazy was upset in the van.  For some reason  my girls are having a tough time today.
    • I dropped off Twins and then Big Bro; Hubby took Red.   Big Bro took a picture of the kids into school today and wanted to show his teacher.   She may have him show and tell today.  She is wonderful.

    I’m on the ferry now.  I can’t remember the last time I took the ferry.   Work may be a bit hectic today.   They are questioning my request to take a 50% reduction in work.  I need this, and badly.   I’ll also be traveling from Wednesday through Friday and would like to get more balance in my life.   Looking back over the past year, the past 5 years is actually amazing.  I can’t believe all that I did, non-stop.  No-one should have to do this.  There is more to life than running for the sake of running.  I want to slow down and enjoy my children.

    Highlights of My Working Day:

    It felt good to be in the office, at first.  I heard about their Halloween and talked about mine.  I like being in an office environment.

    • I reviewed a proposal that we will submit on Thursday.  Made some suggestions on positioning, language, and project references to include.  I think it looks good.
    • I had a discussion with a key Director about my proposal to reduce my workweek.   He is generally OK, however is concerned about our pipeline of proposals and who could do the work.  I assured him that I could be flexible if needed.
    • I started a project today that I have been in the process of selling for months now. I do not think it will be too difficult.
    • I prepared for my trip – gathered marketing collateral and brought materials I will need for the meeting.

    On the commute home I felt wiped out.  Literally.   I put my head down and took a nap.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    I was on my own tonight; Hubby was working late.

    • I picked up Red first since I felt like I needed some alone time with her.  She was excited to show me all of the art that has been piled up in her folder.   I sat with her and we went through each piece and talked about each one together.  She was also thrilled about a little red dinosaur stamp set that you can stamp on paper – she was busy stamping her hands.
    • We picked up Big Bro next.   Red promptly asked him if he wanted a stamp on his hand.  He did.   She was so cute stamping his hand for him.   They played outside on the gate and acted like monkeys.
    • We picked up Twins next.  Twin Husky was all riled up like normal; Twin Crazy seemed a little sick.
    • When we got home we were stamping, sweeping, singing, and dancing while I made dinner.    Big Bro was doing a little bit of sulking since I did not let him have any candy.
    • After dinner the Twins were tired so I got them ready for bed; milk for all; puzzles with Big Bro and Red.
    • Red had a hard time going to bed tonight.   I sat with her a bit and held her, talked to her, and she taught me some sign language.   I asked her if I told her how much I loved her today – today I loved her so much that I squeezed her little finger.
    • I finished the night by packing for my trip.   It will be a short one with no time zone change so it should be easy for me.   I miss my kids already.   I’m already planning on a fun morning with them – walking Big Bro to school with the Twins in a stroller.   I’ll need to make it up to Red when I get back from my trip.Til tomorrow –
      — Mama K
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