December 19: Holiday Blues


I am reunited with the kids after a weekend of being away from them. I returned late last night and looked at each child sleeping – kissed them and covered them up and then went to sleep myself.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • This morning, Twin Crazy and Twin Husky came in – Twin Crazy was smiling and she ran over to me and gave me a hug; I said how I missed her and hugged her and how I wanted to see her face. She leaned back so I could see her face and she gave me a HUGE smile. Twin Husky was being coy. Red walked into the room and she smiled and sat in my lap. She showed me her new things that she got over the weekend. So sweet.
  • All kids downstairs were great; ate well. Talked about what they wanted. Got dressed/ready without a problem. It was a breeze….. until….
  • Red’s breakdown as we were leaving. She had a problem with her shoes…. which led to a problem with her jacket….. which led me to forget her lunch….. and we were running late. I dropped off Red and Big Bro at Red’s school (Big Bro’s public school is closed for 2 weeks so we are taking him to “camp” at Red’s school for several days each of the weeks). I had to pay for a hot lunch for Red today. I hope Big Bro packed his lunch in his backpack or else we will have to pay for him as well…..
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    Now on the ferry, it is quiet. I am wearing jeans. I will be busy today and am hoping the office is empty/quiet as well so I can get some work done. I’m looking forward to seeing my dad again at the end of the week. I needed a dose of family and feel lucky that I am getting a double-dose between my trip to celebrate his birthday and his trip out here to spend time with our family for Christmas. We will also need to celebrate his birthday again, since he is a Christmas Eve baby (and a twin, but that’s a separate point).

    Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I led our weekly staff meeting at lunch where we normally talk about workloads and what opportunities we need help proposing on or work we need help to execute – but because we are so close to the holidays, this was really time for us to shoot the shit. We talked about plans for the holidays, skiing, baby milestones, my kids holiday performances, etc.
  • I followed up on some admin-related items and billing for the forums I am managing.
  • I attempted to get the meeting minutes finished, and also my client deliverable finished, but I just did not have the initiative. I’m feeling down. I just couldn’t get myself started.
  • I talked with a Director about some non-work related stuff – things going on with me and things going on with another colleague – not the kinds of things that are uplifting. But it’s good to talk to people and gain others perspective. It also makes you realize that we all have issues that people are dealing with. Some of them quite heavy. It upsets me when I know that someone is hurting but I can’t really reach out to them – if it is inappropriate or they are just not ready to talk or the problem is too recent, too raw for them. So that is what is happening with a colleague. And that brought me down a bit further today.
  • Don’t tell anybody (laugh), but I spent the rest of the day on personal items. I helped a friend (actually, an ex-Boss of mine from the past) who is about to publish a survey and I took the survey and gave him feedback on the structure/content. I made doctor and dentist appointments for the kids. I did some Christmas shopping via Amazon.com for the kids. Can you believe this???? I score a reduced work-week and I had the audacity to use the time today to do non-work related things???!?!? I feel guilty now. A bit. But just knowing that the kids are shopped for makes me feel good. A bit. A tiny bit.
  • I worked on my calendar for the rest of this short week and blocked out time for me to actually do work. I have three deliverables I must finish by Wednesday night. So hopefully tomorrow I will have the fire back and will get my shit done.
  • Now I’m on a train, headed to my weekly appointment. I have a lot to discuss tonight. I have a headache, I am tired from my travel weekend, and I am not feeling like me. For the first time I am feeling the “holiday blues”. I don’t like it. Not at all. Note to my friends: It will be a miracle if you get a holiday card from me this year. And if you get anything, it will be digital and sent through email/facebook/etc. 🙂

    Hopefully 2012 will bring a better set of opportunities and circumstances.

    Tonight when I get back I will miss the Twins’ bedtime routine entirely. This is hard for me since I didn’t see them this weekend. I will steal some time with Big Bro and Red. I will hold them close. I will smell their hair. And then I will retreat. Will then check on them while they are sleeping and then slumber myself.

    I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow!!
    Til tomorrow,
    – Mama K

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    Staying Sane: Removing stains a womanly way


    On Friday, I was flying from the West Coast to Florida to attend my father’s 65th (surprise) birthday party. As far as the party, yes, he was surprised at the party itself, and the fact that both me and my brother flew there to celebrate it with him (my brother is from the Northeast).

    Friday’s flight was good for several reasons. I was able to relax, by myself, with no graham cracker dust on me or at my feet, with no other little people for me to entertain and keep well fed. No strollers to check. No bags to check. It was me, my handbag, and my carry-on bag. So sweet.

    Another good thing was that my ink pen exploded. You would normally think that this would be a drag, but because of this ill-fated explosion, I was able to meet someone on the flight and actually learn an amazing trick that I am hoping some of you have never heard of……

    So, thanks to Mama N from US Airways who taught me this trick about stain removal.

  • Club soda, seltzer water is the key ingredient. [I know you are thinking, I KNOW this already. What is so great about this secret???!?!??]
  • The trick to clean stain removal is POURING the club soda/ seltzer water (above) into a SANITARY NAPKIN.
  • scrub away, and reapply club soda/seltzer water as needed until the stain is removed
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    Now, are you thinking, “gross!!”? If I know this audience at all, you are working mothers. So no. You are not thinking “gross”. Why a sanitary napkin? If you were to use a regular napkin, paper towel, or rag, it would be likely that the napkin/towel/rag would leave pieces of itself behind as you were scrubbing. With a sanitary napkin however, the sanitary napkin absorbs the club soda/seltzer but the outside of the napkin is smooth and does not fall apart. Therefore, you can scrub to your heart’s content and feel comfortable that the article you are cleaning will not have a messy white mess on it after cleaning.

    Ingenious!!!

    Thank you Mama N from US Airways and somewhere above the mid-west at the time I learned this!!!! As a flight attendant and a mother herself, she has assured me that this little tip/trick has saved her on many occasions, as well as her kids and her passengers.

    Hopefully we’ll be learning more tips and tricks from her in the future!

    Have a great week everybody!!
    – Mama K

    December 16: Fighting stage fright


    Are you afraid of public speaking? Do you still get jitters if you have to address a large crowd???? Were you like this as a child? Big Bro is such a child. I would actually say that his shyness and fear of being in front of big crowds is a bit over-the-top.

    Let me give you some examples.

    • When he turned two, his daycare had a cake for him and two other children. His grandparents were there for the festivities. During his birthday song he completely lost it and could not bear to sit through the song without burying his head in his “teacher’s” embrace while sitting on her lap.
    • At Halloween his daycare would have a costume parade and he could not Participate in the parade without crying; when seeing me or hubby he would just burst out of line and run to us
    • Similar experience with Halloween and also Chinese new year parade at daycare just last year
    • various activities or events at daycare when his “class” would sing songs to the parents – he would know all the words and be fine at practice, but as soon as the day came in front of the parents, he would just fall to pieces
    • at pre-school graduation he was to embarrassed to walk across the room for his rolled up diploma. The teacher had to walk it over to him.
    • At birthday parties with activities like basketball lessons or bowling, it either takes him a long time to warm up to the event or he simply does not participate at all.

     

     

    Last year at his new daycare, he volunteered to be the starring role for a short holiday story. He practiced real hard and knew his lines and knew the acting he had to do and his teachers were so psyched about those practices. I still supported him wondering if he finally turned a corner and could be brave enough to follow through. Heart pounding, I arrived early and hid behind a separation in the room, completely out of sight in the stage area. The class came out. Big Bro took position. And then they just sat there for like 15 minutes or so until the parents arrived and the seats started to fill up. The poor little guy had to sit there with his heart pounding watch the audience build. Finally they started the program, with Big Bro in center stage – a position that he volunteered for…… His lips were being licked, his shoulders started to rise and head slump to the side like was trying to hide, and then he eventually broke down saying “I don’t want to do this anymore”. Laughter. Confusion. A stand-in jumps in where Big Bro left off. My heart sank. But I was expecting it. A part of me felt guilty for not stepping in to let the teachers know more forcefully. But I let him do it. I let him volunteer. And I let him fail. I was hopeful, but it turned out the way I knew it probably would. I went to him and told him how proud I was of him – how he worked hard at practicing and how he knew the play. How I knew that it must have been scary for him and how it’s OK to be scared. How I used to be scared too when I had those kinds of things when I was a kid. And I held him in my lap. And he watched the rest of the performance on my lap. And I held him and I was dying inside feeling like I needed to cry and wishing I could do more for him. And wishing it wasn’t so awkward when he ran off. Why do parents in the audience laugh at such things???????

    Anyway, back to today. I already informed his teacher that there might be a problem with today’s performance. All 3 kindergarten classes came tougher on a tiered stage to sing 20 excruciating minutes of delightful holiday songs. His class’ line came out. He was already twisting his arms and neck. Oh no this doesn’t look good. It took another 3 minutes to get the rest of the kids up there. He immediately started to cry, bury his face in his sleeves, head down and trying to hide.

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    But…. he stayed in position. They started the program quickly thank goodness. He did not at any point in time utter a word of song. He instead continued to cry in position. I sat there Frozen. Wanting to do something but also not wanting…. Wanting to see if he could pull it together. He wasn’t running off stage!!!!! He stayed in position!!!! He eventually stopped crying!!!!!! He didn’t sing, but he stayed up there with his classmates!!!!! He stood there with his head looking forward, just looking a bit zoned out and looking at the audience. Whenever he looked at me I gave him a huge smile and thumbs up and tried to mouth the words “you’re DOING it!!!!!!!!”.

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    Let me tell you it was hard listening to the parents (“did he have a rough morning at home or something?”) but I was beaming for him. I met him immediately off of the side of the stage and again told him how proud of him I was, how he did a great job of staying up there, and how he did a great job of “pulling it together.”

    He really has come a long way. And so have I. I am stronger for him and holding back trying to save him from these kinds of situations.

    And look at his beaming face afterwards

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    And look at his self portrait, brown hair with hints of red, mouth wide open and singing. 🙂

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    I love him so much it hurts. And this story had to be told in full over and above the other things that happened today.

    Have a great weekend Mamas!!!! Hold your little ones tight!!!!
    Until next week –
    – Mama K

    December 15: Creating memories with the kids


    Today was a great, great day. It couldn’t have gone better. I was at home with the Twins and not working. Our day was filled with school activities for both Big Bro and Red, so we ran around today spending time with the older kids. I loved the time today with them.

    The Twins and I had a great time today walking Big Bro to school, talking about basketball nets, kicking soccer balls inside our living room, eating snacks, counting to 10, tickling and giggling, chasing and squealing, and getting excited about our outings to the schools. Here are some highlights:

  • We walked Big Bro to school in the drizzly rain. Big Bro was on his scooter and we met up with the “Motley Crew” on our way – but they had umbrellas. It was so cute…
  • Twin Crazy wants to do everything by herself now. Walking down the stairs, putting on her shoes, buckling her stroller seat and top buckle on her car seat, and now wiping her nose. She is very independent and gets very upset if you try to help her without asking if you can, first.
  • We went back to Big Bro’s school shortly afterwards where they were decorating ginger bread houses… essentially graham cracker houses with candies all over it. The twins loved looking at all the colors and candy. Big Bro seemed excited to see us there. He was proud of his house. He looked like he was having fun and I’m glad we were able to experience this with him.
  • The twins were doing a lot of playing by themselves, talking, laughing, giggling. Playing by the play kitchen area, walking in circles around our play choo-choo train tracks while singing, etc. I have so many movies they are so cute. They also spent time taking wipes and wiping me off and cleaning me up. So cute.
  • I had a moment with Twin Crazy and danced with her softly in the kitchen for awhile. She was getting tired.
  • After naps, we went to see Red at her school for her performance. We arrived for a party beforehand and we provided the fruit. She was ready for her songs. She knew the words and she was wearing her string of pearls when she was a flower girl. She did so GREAT!!! She was up there singing the words…. not really doing the arm motions that they taught them, but at least she was up there, didn’t cry or run off stage, and she sang her words and I AM SO PROUD OF HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The twins were great and very well behaved, as usual.
  • The kids played in Red’s classroom afterwards – with big rubber animals and dinosaurs. And also helped to put all of the toys back where they belonged before we left.
  • At home, I was getting pizza toppings ready as all of the kids were “cooking” their own dinner.
  • We did a little bit of playing but then we whisked them upstairs — Big Bro has his performance tomorrow and I want to make sure he is well rested for it.
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    It was a great day since not only did I have the opportunity to spend quality time with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky, but as a Trio we adventured off to see Big Bro (and he was thrilled) and also adventured off to see Red in a performance! It was seriously too good to be true.

    The night did not turn out that great for other reasons, but that is a story for another time – or maybe even a separate blog??!??!?! 🙂

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    Recipe: Tandoori chicken with yogurt sauce


    This recipe was submitted from a Mama all the way in India!!!! So you know this one will be exotic… sounds great! Thank you so much Mama S!!! Keep them coming and post some pics on the Mama In Motion Facebook page!

    You can find this recipe at her own blog “What I Eat”. Check it out!

    “I first mentioned this recipe from Everyday Food a few weeks ago because it inspired the apple yogurt slaw I like to serve with other dishes. Sometimes though we like to do this complete recipe.”

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced

    [Mama K comment: I use jarred minced garlic, to save time]

    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

    [Mama K comment: you can also find ground ginger in small jars that keep in the refrigerator, to save time]

    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 4 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts halves (10 to 12 ounces each)
    • 2 Granny Smith apples
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro [Mama K comment: you can also try Trader Joe’s spice cubes of cilantro – they are in the freezer section of the store and essentially are little cubes of real spices already chopped up real fine – saves time]

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    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 475°. In a large bowl, mix together 1/2 cup yogurt, garlic, turmeric, ginger, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken; turn to coat.

    2. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (avoiding bone) registers 160°, 25 to 30 minutes.

    3. Meanwhile, peel apple; coarsely grate into a medium bowl. Add cilantro and remaining 1/2 cup yogurt; season with salt and pepper. Serve sauce alongside chicken, with rice, if desired.

    “I like to use 2 boneless chicken breasts instead, for faster, easier cooking. Also, I use whatever apples I have on-hand and I like to add lime juice to the apple slaw. And we always make rice for the side.”

    Prep time: 5 minutes, 10 minutes for slaw while chicken is cooking

    Cook time: 30 minutes

    THANK YOU MAMA S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Let us know how you are doing over in India! And post some pics!
    Mama K

     

    Update on 12/28/2011:   I made this dinner tonight.  It was sooooooooooooo simple, and simply amazing.  A good amount of flavor for the kids.  My boys loved it but the girls, not so much.  Me and Hubby were raving about it.   And seriously, very, very, very simple.  I used jarred garlic, dried turmeric and ginger, and also cubes of cilantro from Trader Joes.   It was FAST FAST FAST and YUMMY.

    Thank you again Mama S!!!!

    December 14: A lllllloooooonnnnnnngggggg Day


    Wednesday. I usually work a 1/2 day from home. This was not one of those days. A meeting with a potential client could only be scheduled for today at 4 PM (we’ve been trying to schedule it unsuccessfully up til this point) so since I had to have the meeting at 4 PM, I decided to keep all kids in daycare/after-care and simply put my head down and get work done. But it started early, and it ended late – it’s 9:30 PM right now as I try to pull this post together.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • Woke up extremely early since I had a 8 AM conference call scheduled with a client. I ran to the shower and tried to boogie to get myself together.
    • Red came into my room and was so cute how she was playing with her Christmas confetti from yesterday. She was treating each piece like it was gold. She spread all of the pieces out and then sorted them by color, then by shape, then made shapes out of the pieces…. all the while treating each piece carefully and not losing track of any of her treasure. It was so sweet how meticulous she was and how enraptured she became of the pieces and the games she was creating with the pieces. She’s getting savvy with me and my phone camera so refused to smile for a picture so I decided to capture her only her treasure in a photo, alone.
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    • I tried gently to get Big Bro up. He is not a morning person. The poor guy is always so tired in the morning; I’m convinced that this kid still needs an afternoon nap. In fact on weekends, he can nap for 4 hours without a problem (except getting him to fall asleep) on a Sat or Sun. The poor guy. I gathered clothes for Big Bro and Red, and then asked him to come downstairs with me and hold my hand. That seemed to work. I’m trying to be extra-sensitive to the “mommy-time” I give to each kid.
    • Once downstairs, the concept of a child’s “treasure” intrigued me. So I wanted to capture Twin Crazy’s treasure of thumb-sucking blankets and her bears that she needs for comfort, as well as Twin Husky’s “tiger” (he has two, one tiger and one white leopard). I was successful at capturing Twin Crazy, but she figured out her zippers so she is 1/2 clothed. As for Twin Husky, he started to unzip his PJs too but you can’t see it – the picture is awful because he was playing hard-to-get with me. But nonetheless, here are the Twins with their “treasures”.
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    • For Big Bro, I really didn’t capture any of his treasures but I can talk to them. He is very particular and an extremely opinionated and loyal child to his treasures. His Hess line of toy trucks, airplanes, race-car and digger are some of his favorites. He also treasures his scooter and the freedom it gives him to ride to school with him up ahead of me, but me close-by and following his lead. He likes to collect things and organize them. He also is into beads lately. He keeps his smaller treasures in an old diaper wipe container, the plastic kind with the push-top lid. He needs to sleep with a big pink teddy bear (that was given to us when Red was born) and Bullseye, the trusted horse in Toy Story (I call him “that horsie-guy). And now I know what images I can share with you:
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    • We were very rushed this morning. Running around like mad trying to get kids fed, dressed, and out of the door in a reasonable time so Hubby could do the three drop offs, I could make my 8 AM call, and he could get to the ferry by 8:30. Thankfully my phone was on and I noticed that my 8 AM call was pushed to 8:30; So I gathered Red, and Hubby gathered Big Bro and the Twins, and we were off. There was no way Hubby would have ever made it if my call was not pushed back. Tension was high particularly between Hubby and Big Bro — being rushed while tired is not a good combination for the little guy.
    • Red’s drop-off went great. Her performance at pre-school is tomorrow where they sing songs for the parents. I encouraged her to sing real loudly so that the back wall can hear her. I told her I was proud that she knows all of the words and am so excited for her – it will be a fun game for her and her friends to sing real loud and let the words just come out of their bodies. I hope she does OK….. this will be the first time for her in this sort of thing…..
    • I raced home and refilled my coffee, booted up my computer, and started to dial-in to the conference call that I was leading – hoping that my computer would get going already so I could access the key document that I need to have on hand….

    Highlights of My Working Day:

  • 8:30 conference call with a client to get feedback from our meetings; again, he offered good, practical suggestions to provide more value to him and likely the group at large.
  • 9:00 conference call with a potential partner who we may be working with to develop a new forum which we are pretty excited about. If it succeeds, it can be a game-changer in the industry. This person called me so we could talk about what the day could look like and what story needs to be communicated to get these potential participants to agree to collaborate and work together — if so, we create another forum for our firm, one which could actually get a lot of visibility in the market…. I really want and need this to happen. So will work hard to make this first meeting (hopefully in the Spring, aligned with our other forums) a success.
  • 10:30 conference call with a Director about logistics, hotel deposits, and how much we are willing to “invest” in the above mentioned effort should our participation rate be lower than expected. Sounds like we have a good plan.
  • In between meetings I started pulling meeting minutes together from our last forums – these really should have been done much, much earlier but I got side-tracked on the one-on-one debrief sessions with our clients. I get much more charged out of speaking with clients and getting frank feedback to make things better, versus putting boring meeting minutes together. But they are important. And must be done. Soon. So I started on them.
  • Had breakfast/lunch. Soup and leftover cous-cous from the night before.
  • 1:30 conference call with a client; he wants more specifics and detail in the deliverable I sent to him, which will require more time – I thought about the extra time and decided to make him happy. I’d rather have a happy client versus one that is disgruntled, especially if it is only going to take me 4-6 extra hours of work. I can deal with that. I mobilized an Analyst to help me with some of the tactical things of converting PowerPoint content to Excel and then I started fleshing out one area of the deliverable to send to the client to see if the further detail was what he was expecting. Hopefully he won’t require much more. If he is OK with it then I will finish of the work with him next week.
  • 2:30 conference call with a Director and an Analyst to talk about a proposal we are completing. We got the Analyst to start pulling the proposal together based upon prior work that we did for the client 2 years ago. Essentially they want the same work but “refreshed” so she can leverage that first proposal as a starting point for us to review early next week.
  • 4:00 conference call with a prospective member of one of our forums. So it was a debrief session as well as a “sales” meeting. He cannot commit just yet, but needs more information from us; I invited him to come to our next meeting again as a guest to hopefully push him over the line. I need to convert these “guests” into real clients!!!
  • I was tired from the day. I didn’t eat much. I was tired and starving. I got the kitchen ready for cooking for when I came home with the kids. A pot of water was sitting on the stove, chicken nuggets were waiting in the toaster oven, the frozen veggies were sitting in a bowl in the microwave. All ready to go for when I arrived with four little ones…

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Red. She was busy with her friends and they were “reading” books. She was holding a book like a teacher with the pages facing outward and “reading” to her friends. I heard her little, loud voice from across the room. I couldn’t get my camera ready in time to take a picture though… pity – it was too cute.
  • The ride with Red was beautiful since the sun was setting. We pulled over to enjoy the view.
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  • Pick ups for the rest of the kids went fine; we looked at the holiday lights on the houses. I gathered all the kids inside and powered up the stove, microwave, and toaster oven. I was solo tonight since Hubby was out after work and I wanted things to go smoothly. All kids ate an enormous amount of food – I couldn’t believe it. I had to tell them to listen to their bodies and stop eating when you feel full. They were just going nuts. They started eating off of my plate – Twin Crazy, Big Bro, and Red as a joke but they kept going. It was seriously out of control.
  • After dinner they played around a bit while I started clean up; I also started to put together a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda for chemical-free cleaning. The problem was that I didn’t know the correct measurement. So the bottle seriously started to expand and almost explode. The tension inside of the bottle was fierce. I loosened up the cap and it was a volcano. The stuff was exploding through every single crevice of the bottle. I thought a small piece like a nozzle or something was going to fly off. Me and Big Bro were mesmerized by it. He thought of the volcano experiments we did in the summertime and both of us started laughing. We had a few squirts left of the cleaning mixture when all was said and done, and we had a good time explaining the story to our mother’s helper when she (finally) arrived.
  • I played with the kids. We did horsie-back rides. The kids were waiting in line on a chair waiting for their turn. This is the only exercise I get. Running around the house with kids on my back. They were really cute though all screaming for horsie-back rides (even the Twins, saying all three words) and waiting their turn.
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  • We then cleaned up all of the toys – I put each kid on a “job”. Twin Crazy was on balls, Big Bro was on folding blanket, Red was on kitchen toys, and Twin Husky was just wandering and trying to help but taking things out instead. The “responsibility boards” are working REALLY well – “pick up toys” is one of the things that we are tracking so all kids were eager to do this activity, with my guidance and encouragement….
  • Bedtime was a breeze with everyone. I felt like I really spent good, quality of time with each of the kids which helps out a lot. I took my time with them, read stories and kept the routine on track. Twins were asleep in no time. Bigger kids were completely cooperating with me – no tantrums, no power-plays. Teeth brushed, PJs on, responsibility board discussed and magnets given out, and books being read when Hubby came in. I spent extra time with Big Bro’s book talking about the characters and situations and their feelings. I asked him to talk about situations when he had those same feelings. This is hard for him to do, as his teacher discussed in our parent/teacher conference. I need to pull more out of him through story-time so that he can practice more and build his self-confidence so he can better participate at school. I’m really working on this with him and am hoping that he’s not “on” to me too much; I don’t want to pressure him.
  • After the kids were all in bed I ran to a neighbors house and grabbed some clothes for Big Bro and Red (thanks Mama L!!!). By the time I was home it was 9 PM. And I started this at 9:30 PM. And now I’m off to sleep!

    So it was a very busy day, but I really enjoyed getting work done while at home, and also enjoyed my alone time with the kids tonight. They were great – ate like champs, listened, and we had minimal fights tonight. I think I’ll get a good night’s sleep, which I will need for tomorrow….. a big day. Red’s performance. Yikes!

    Until tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    Random Thought: How did you hear of Mama In Motion?


    Hi Ladies —

    The Mama In Motion audience has grown somewhat and I’d like to resend this poll to see if there are some channels that are working better than others to reach more people.

    If you’ve already participated in this poll, you will likely not be able to do so again — but for all of you newer Mamas out there, please participate!   Thank you so much!!    – Mama K

    Random Thought: How did you hear of Mama In Motion?.

    December 13: Reconnecting with my little ones


    Chocolate Tuesday! Last night I arrived late and was not able to spend much time with Big Bro and Red (and no time with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky). So this morning was great for me and I spent a lot of time re-connecting with the kids — I also feel like I have a lot more to say about my morning with them since I missed them last night.

    HIghlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • Twins got up, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!!” I gently kissed their heads, touched their faces, said good-morning to them and that I missed them last night – we didn’t get to see each other last night….. they both seemed to be in an EXCELLENT mood.
    • We all went into Big Bro and Red’s room — Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were having a great time running around while Big Bro and Red were still stretching and waking up. Somehow we got on the conversation of things the kids used to say when they were toddlers. For Big Bro, it was, “OK? OK.” and we were laughing. Then Big Bro got excited to tell me about a story. “Remember when [Red] used to say, “I love play, I love play.”? [She used to say it in a sing-song voice with inflection, so cute]. “Well remember that time when she was saying “I love play, I love play” and you said: “[Red], I know that you like to play. But it’s not time to play right now. Now it’s time to go to bed.” And he started laughing. Both were laughing. I guess it was amusing to him that night long ago as well. How does he remember that? I certainly don’t. But I do recognize how she would have said that, and how that would have been my response to her given that same situation. I had him record the story so I could post it here, but I’m having technical difficulty UGGGGH — I’d like to figure this out so he can start doing more voice recordings… I suspect it would help his story-telling and boost his self-confidence.
    • Big Bro and Red had their clothes all ready for the AM….

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    • Red made her bed and ran into my room to tell me. So of course I had to go and check her work and make a big deal about it….

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    • Downstairs, Big Bro and Red fought over the bar-stool at the corner of the counter. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Twin Husky and Twin Crazy were busy eating breakfast right on top of each other. They really are inseperable.

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    • I made a mistake about referring to Twin Crazy and Twin Husky as “the babies”. And then I immediately looked at everyone and said “wait a minute…. you are not BABIES…. why did I say that???!?!??! You [Twin Crazy] are a little GIRL….. and you [Twin Husky] are a little BOY. Why did I call you babies????!?!!? That is so silly.” And everyone was laughing and then Twin Crazy and Twin Husky in their own little way were participating in the story — Twin Husky by uttering one or two one-word phrases (baby, boy), and Twin Crazy by mumbling something and using inflection and long sentences that are not understandable by anyone (well, except maybe by her twin brother).
    • Twin Crazy told me that Twin Husky’s animal (tiger) had suffered a spill, in her own way….. mumbling, inflecting, “spill”, pointing. I understood and repeated what I thought she was saying and told them that “it’s OK, its just a spill, I will clean it up”…. and then “there, I’m cleaning it up, and that seems better. Is that better?” And both Twin Husky and Twin Crazy agreed. “Better” they both said. I love that we are having “conversations” at this point. I just have to be careful not to make it too easy for them to just mumble something. I want them to try to get the words out. But this stage is honestly a lot of fun. Their development as individuals and hearing and understanding what they are thinking about.
    • We decided to make the drop-offs all together today, but it was going to be tight. I dropped of Red and it went very smoothly. She knew I was in a rush so she went to her teacher with open arms very quickly. We hit traffic on the way to drop offs #2 and #3 so I decided to take Big Bro off at a stop sign and continue with the Big Bro drop off while Hubby took the Twins. Hubby then picked me up and we made it just in time to the ferry.

    The commute on the ferry was interesting today. I’m getting to know the people who make this trip daily. Today I sat with “Joe” who is probably in his 60s but is on his 3rd masters degree – he is a New Yorker who relocated to the West Coast in 1992. He was complaining about his class – something about applied mathematics in physics or astronomy or something – and how it was so over-the-top. I love people like this. Still with energy. Still going for his dreams. Talking with people and interacting and living life. I am automatically drawn to people like this. I love people who LIVE their lives versus those that just go day-by-day. You only get one life in my opinion and you have to make the most of it. It seems like Joe is.

    We couldn’t help but talk about New York City – and how I used to live there and miss it there and how I feel comfort in hearing his voice and hearing his accent. I told him my story about how I knew I would someday live where I am now – and how after my MBA I just picked up and moved cross-country by myself to fulfill that dream. But also how now, 10+ years and four children later, I believe this city is not the best place anymore for me or my family. Joe agrees. He says “Yes, well if you put your children first, there are a lot of other places that you should be looking at to live.” Yes. I agree. 100%. But some things I cannot change. No matter how much reason and logic and communication goes into the effort. Hoooooo hummm. What to do? Go to work and make the best of the situation.

    Highlights of my Working Day:

    • I had the bulk of my day as quiet time. No meetings scheduled. So I used this time to focus on completing / refining my client deliverable. It was good to get that part done. Once we get feedback from the client I will have an analyst complete the work based upon the structure that I developed today.
    • I also spent some time preparing for my day tomorrow (my work-from-home day). I gathered documents that I will need to reference for some work I plan to do.

    It was a quiet day. It was a relatively productive day. I am on the ferry home now and thinking about dinner. I think we’ll have flat-meat steak tonight. I miss the kids. I miss them from not being there with them last night. I hope to reconnect with EACH of them tonight. And maybe get some more voice recordings out of Big Bro.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • I had all pick-ups tonight and got Red first. She was excited to show me Christmas confetti. She told me all about it – how it is smooth, and shiny, and how the pieces are hard to pick up when they fall on the floor. She struck me as such a big girl then – how she was talking, the words she was using, and how she was teaching me something “new”.

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    • I then picked up Big Bro, and Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. There was one house on the cul-de-sac at the Twins’ daycare that was completely drenched in lights. So we went further down the road to check it out. I heard “ohhs” and “ahhhs” and we talked about all of the lights, the trees, the reindeer, how they ran the lights up the driveway, etc. On our way out Twin Husky started the song of “bye-bye lights”.
    • I cooked dinner while the kids entertained themselves. Red shared her confetti with Big Bro after Big Bro asked her politely (and with my guidance and prompting). I am proud of both of them.
    • Twin Crazy kept standing on the stool and turning on and off the kitchen lights.
    • Kids ate well – steak, string beans, cous-cous. Hubby came in and everyone was well behaved and eating great.
    • After dinner was bathtime. I had fun playing with Twin Crazy about “bath, book, night-night”. She was so excited for a bath. She was literally jumping up and down dancing. Imagine each week cutting 80 fingernails and toenails. Yes, I do it.
    • Bedtime was easy for the Twins, but was really rough for Red and Big Bro. Red was cranky when I got to her. I helped her brush her teeth but sat her in water. So we changed. Then I made the mistake of making her laugh while she was rinsing, so she spit the water all over herself. We both cracked up and then got changed again.
    • Now Big Bro is STILL crying outside of my door because of his “owie” skinned knee. I already went in there once to talk about his feelings and how its normal for owies to hurt like this, and that there really isn’t that much that I can do except to tell him that I understand, to tell him that I know it hurts, to tell him that I know he must be mad and frustrated, but to also know that his body is doing its work by healing itself — and the best thing he could do is to get some sleep so his body can be strong enough to heal itself better, faster. Now I know it hurts him, but there’s something more to this… I personally think he needs more “mommy time” – looking back on tonight, I spent a lot of time with the Twins and then with Red since she was cranky. The most he got out of me tonight was the time I had with him cutting his nails! He didn’t get booktime with me or individual time with me… I really need to fix this tomorrow. I’ll pick him up early tomorrow afternoon.

    So today was a long day; filled of things that I am reflecting on. I feel like Tuesdays in particular are intense for me since I’m trying to reconnect with everyone and sometimes I fall short on a child. In this case it’s Big Bro. I need to better figure out how to divide my time and make it seem more equitable – if at all possible…

    Till tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    December 12: Keeping up with the Joneses


    Another Monday. This one cold and gray. I’m coming off a great weekend with the kids. We went to the library (quite a treat, even for the 2 yr olds), toured closeby neighborhoods looking at lights, and went on another steam train ride.

    We started doing the “responsibility boards” with the kids again where you put little magnet “jobs” on the board and the kids and you evaluate their performance on those jobs – if they did well, they get a happy face magnet for that job on that day. Some of the jobs include making the bed, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. and we find that these boards really do make a difference in their behavior, at least in the short term while there is still novelty to it.

    So this morning the kids were way ahead of me:

    Highlights of the Morning and My Commute:

    • Big Bro and I were getting dressed and he came into our room and said he wanted to do a getting dressed race. We’re on! He won, of course.
    • He then came in and proudly said, “Mommy, I already woke up, went pee, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and even made my bed all by myself.” I made a big deal of this and then walked into the room to check his work. He was so proud. I looked over and then also saw that Red did the same with her bed – and also arranged her dolls and put her favorite sleep animal on her pillow. I made a big deal about this too and later when she decided she wanted the animal I walked up with her and noticed her proud smile creeping across her face with each step upwards. By the time we reached her room and her bed, her face was alight with pride and she had to cover her face in her bed with her smiles and her laughter. I both love and hate how these kids are getting so big so fast – on one hand I love to see the people they are becoming but on another hand they are growing out of the age of innocence.

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    • Twin Husky was busy downstairs rolling things. Luggage bags, shopping carts, play strollers. He was just busy busy busy strolling and rolling all over the place and around the downstairs.

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    • Twin Crazy was walking around looking mad. Her eyebrows were furrowed since Hubby reprimanded her for something. She holds a grudge. Her face looked so cute all mad. I talked with her about how she looked mad and how that feels. I’m talking a lot with these younger kids about their feelings and what they are feeling and how even I have those feelings. After spending so much time with the little ones, I think I need to be spending the same amount of time with the 3 and 5 year old too. Sometimes I just assume that they “get it” since they are older but it’s probably good to spend the time on this subject with them too.
    • I took Red to school today and sat with her while she traced a candy cane. I asked her to save it for me so I can see it tonight. She asked me to write her name on it and I said each letter as I wrote it. She also wanted my name on it so again, M, O, M, M, Y. She seemed satisfied with this so she continued her art and smiled at me as I walked away.

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    I’m feeling a bit down today. Folks on the ferry are talking about how this area is over-priced and how their going to buy for an investment but only stay 4 or so years until they have kids and find another place to live. This has been such an issue in our family and it is hard for me to accept. What started this funk that I’m in today?? I think I know what it is…

    Over the weekend we received a holiday card where the whole card was an array of pictures during a private-blimp tour of the city. Yes, a blimp.  Three generations of the family each with beaming smiles while they were on their own private blimp-ride.  Yes, there are pictures of the grandchildren wearing headphones and pictures of the windows overlooking the city and everyone with big smiles. Yes, it was just them, in the blimp. A blimp.   Did I say a blimp????!?!?!?

    The city where I live is essentially comprised of people that “have”, and “have not”. There really isn’t an in-between. And folks/families like ours have to work our asses off just to get by – and not even live lavishly. Mind you, I don’t need or want fancy clothes or a fancy car or decadent vacations. But I would like to be able to afford a house of my own to shelter my kids with a yard where they can play, and not have to feel like I have to work like mad to get there. At 41 and with an MBA, shouldn’t I be able to do this??? So I looked at that holiday card and became less hopeful of the area in which we live and my feeling of just “not belonging.” Mmmmm. That’s a bit deep for now. So not to dwell on things I cannot change, I should focus my energy on what I can change. I can play a pivotal role in how my children develop as people. So I guess it that is where I should focus my energy going forward, right??!!? Right.

    Today at work I have some clean up items to begin with my client deliverable but honestly the rest of the day is a bit scattered. I will take this time to clean up some loose ends from our last forums and set myself up to start the planning for the next forums happening in April.

    Highlights of My Working Day:

    • We had an hour team sales meeting; during this time I updated the team on the sales efforts I am leading. I spent time talking about how I am trying to generate incremental revenues from the forums I am managing — the two forums are very different in nature and I am using different strategies to generate sales for each (selling new services to existing members, versus gaining new clients to grow membership). I speak with authority during these discussions since I own the forums and associated sales efforts. What needs to happen in the next 4 – 6 months though is to actually CONVERT these efforts to revenue. I need to make this happen so that this reduced work arrangement can be safe.
    • We also had a team lunch meeting where we did a White Elephant holiday exchange. I wrapped up two big stuffed animal dolls that neither Red or Twin Crazy have EVER played with and it was selected by my firm’s CEO. Too funny. I walked away with a pair of comfy wool socks. Especially made for a left foot vs. right foot! I never owned a pair so am looking forward to busting into them tonight (its the simple pleasures in life, right?).
    • I had a conference call with an ex-colleague of mine from 10+ years ago. I’ve managed to stay in touch pretty well with the people I have personally worked with through the years. This has been paying off for me lately. I am able to leverage them to get closer to business opportunities and now this friend/ex-colleague has come to us with a very interesting idea for another forum we can possibly create. It is an interesting idea, and potentially one that could change the industry over time if it works and works well. My Director is pretty excited by it, and we have the right contacts at other organizations to help push this idea further. This could be something big… and something that came about for our Firm because of my network. I want to see this happen and if it does, it can be big for me and my credibility within the company and maybe even the industry. DREAM BIG!!!

    I spent the rest of the day doing admin-related items; tomorrow my day looks very free so I will be able to put my head down and actually do some work.

    The Rest of My Day:

    I’m on my way now to an appointment. So I’ll be late seeing the older kids tonight. Again, I’m not in a great mood. At any rate, I’ll close out this day with a Guinness for my dinner and hopefully will be able to talk to Big Bro and Red tonight before they go to bed. And then I’ll put on my new socks and join their slumber in my own room.

    Till tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    Staying Sane: Easy things to do with your kids during the Holidays


    OK, it’s Sunday. I usually post a “Staying Sane” piece but this week I’m going to cheat and “borrow” someone else’s terrific idea and add to it. I came across this blog entry and shared it on the Mama In Motion Facebook page. But I think it’s worthy of posting here as well – since we have 2 weeks to go until Christmas, and tensions at this point may be running high for you as a working mother. We all can use any ideas to help stay sane.

    Try to take it easy on yourself. Outsource the shopping to your computer and/or Amazon. Do your cards through USPS and they can put them in envelops and stamp and send them for you. If you are like me, we try too hard to do everything for everybody; BUT, I don’t think we need to put pressures on ourselves to be super-women when it comes to providing a good, memorable experience for our children.

    I saw the below list (Source: http://www.domesticsimplicity.com; http://wp.me/pfg42-N) and so much resonated with me — there a lots of fun things to do with the kids that aren’t huge projects but could create memorable traditions. Take a look and maybe you’ll see something new; I’ve added my thoughts at the bottom. Add yours too!

    Thanks for listening –

    – Mama K

    Source: http://www.domesticsimplicity.com; http://wp.me/pfg42-N

    50 Things To Do With Kids in December:

    1. Go out and look at Christmas lights
    2. Bake cookies
    3. Pick out and put up the Christmas Tree
    4. Decorate the Christmas Tree
    5. Make an Ice Wreath
    6. Make Cinnamon Applesauce and/or Salt Dough ornaments
    7. Make and decorate gingerbread houses
    8. Sing Christmas Songs
    9. Visit Santa
    10. Buy and donate toys for Toys For Tots
    11. Help to wrap presents for friends and family
    12. Act out the Christmas story
    13. Make Reindeer Food
    14. Make homemade Christmas color/glitter play dough (and scent it with peppermint) to give to friends
    15. Make and decorate gingerbread people
    16. Make popcorn and cranberry garland
    17. Go on a sleigh ride
    18. Make paper chains for the Christmas tree
    19. Write a letter to Santa
    20. Watch a holiday movie
    21. Check out holiday books at the library
    22. Leave out shoes for St. Nicholas
    23. Eat Candy Canes
    24. Hang stockings on the mantle or banister
    25. Put out the Nativity Scene
    26. Address and Mail holiday cards
    27. Pick a special family ornament for the year
    28. Make a special plate for Santa’s cookies and the reindeer’s carrots
    29. Go to see The Nutcracker
    30. Go to a holiday parade
    31. Go to a candy store for a holiday treat
    32. Tie bells with ribbons and hang them around the house
    33. Make cards and gifts for teachers
    34. Go to the dollar store and pick gifts for family
    35. Make special cards to send to cousins
    36. Have a Random Acts of Kindness Day(s)
    37. Make cards to send to troops or to bring to a nursing home
    38. Grocery shop just to take to a food bank or donation boxes
    39. Learn a Christmas song on the guitar or piano
    40. Make a present for Santa
    41. Celebrate the Winter Solstice
    42. Make Winter Tea
    43. Make/Put out food for birds and squirrels
    44. Make orange and clove pomanders
    45. Look through favorite Christmas Cards from friends and family from years past
    46. Start a garland or photo album with your own family holiday cards from years past
    47. Prep and freeze a special breakfast for Christmas morning
    48. Make hot chocolate balls
    49. Make snow globes
    50. Do research on holiday traditions around the world and choose one to add to family traditions

    Mama K’s additions:

    51. Have the kids draw a picture for Santa to leave out on Christmas Eve

    52. Have the kids dress in red and/or green on several days leading up to Christmas

    53. Make Christmas socks (simpler than shirts) — white socks with red and green dye; who cares what they’ll look like, the kids will probably love them anyway

    54. Have your kids draw the present they would like Santa to bring to them

    55. Have your kids make cards for their teachers

    56. Make home-made hot chocolate and put a candy-cane on the top for them

    57. Get red and green ice-cream — strawberry or vanilla (and add food colooring) and mint or vanilla with food coloring)

    58. Go to a downtown area where you live and visit office building lobbies and look at their decorations

    59. Go ice-skating

    60. Get Santa hats and wear yours after work until they go to bed…. while cooking, eating dinner, helping them get ready for bed, etc

    61. Get clown “red ball” noses and put them on so you all can be Rudolph; buy headband “antlers” and do the same…

    62. Find a picture of you as a child sitting on Santa’s lap and see what kind of reaction you get

    63. Get some string and some clips and have the kids help you string up the holiday cards you receive from others

    64. Buy some jingle bells and have your kids wear them in their jean pocket

    65. Dress up your pet

    66. Use those big Amazon boxes and let your kids decorate them as Santa’s sleigh

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    And what else can you think of to add to the list????

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