August 31: Waiting for Big Bro


Big Bro woke up EXTREMELY talkative… seems that the good sleep did him good.   He had a slight fever, not nearly as bad as yesterday…. so I decided it was time for him to go to school.   Red, Twin Crazy, and Twin Husky were home with me all day.
Highlights of the Morning:

  • Big Bro’s hair was enormous this morning – possibly from all of the laying around the day before.  I had to completely spray his hair down and suggested that he use my robe so he doesn’t get too cold.  He thought this was completely hysterical.   It took a lot of sprays and also hair gel to get it back under control.  He was still concerned about some pieces that were still sticking up.   So cute.   The peer pressure is getting more intense.
  • Big Bro noticed that my alarm clock and my T.V. both say “SONY”.   I love how the kids pick up on things like that.  So new yet obvious to them… so overlooked by me.
  • Twin Crazy woke up cranky and a bit warm.  I gave both her and Big Bro some more medicine.
  • We were running late; I made Big Bro’s  lunch quickly and warmed up some tortillas.  I grabbed some string cheese and off we went.
  • The drive was not that bad; but we were running late and I got him to his class just in time!
  • The rest of us headed back home.   It was cold outside and I did not plan enough in advance for an activity, so I just decided to get back to my place – as soon as we got in, we put on the fireplace and (the kids) ate some oatmeal to get warm.
  • Afterwards, we relaxed a little bit on the couch and under some blankets.   I had quiet cuddle time with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky as Red colored and also played with Cocoa.
  • I did laundry; kids played.  I cleaned up kitchen; kids played.   Red took care of Cocoa.  Cocoa is now licking Red, the way she has been licking me too over the past several days.  Red is in love with that guinea pig.
  • Twin Husky went pee-pee in the potty.   That meant more chocolate chips for everyone.  Red and Twin Husky were both concerned about Big Bro since he was not there.   I saved his chocolate chips in a baggie for later.
  • Twins were getting tired/cranky… time for lunch!   After lunch the kids were getting crazy; I had to get them to sit and be still on the couch to settle down.   They all did.  This worked great as I organized bags of stuff for our afternoon outing.
  • We were off!!!   Kids were excited for the ZOO.

Highlights of the Rest of the Afternoon, with Big Bro:

  • We picked up Big Bro – no traffic at all.  I got there and was able to meet his teacher and sign up for weekly volunteering on Wednesdays, when I work a 1/2 day and also go to pick up the kids.  That will be a great day to do something in Big Bro’s classroom.
  • We headed to the ZOO.   So many highlights…. first hanging out in a playground just outside the zoo, running in the play area, climbing on spider nets, running around in the field, seeing insects/tarantulas/ants/cockroaches, crocodiles, frogs, lizards, turtles, pigs, rabbits, bats, brushing goats.   At one point the kids saw the bats and we really loved it…. 10 seconds later Big Bro and Red were both hanging like bats on the handrail and I was cracking up yet asking them to get down.  I’m so glad I took a picture before I reprimanded them.   It is hysterical.   Then another kid started doing it and his parents got pissed.  “But they’re doing it…” the other kid replied.   “You don’t do what other kids are doing… it’s not OK”.   Uggggh.   I turned into having “the other kids”.   I agree, but it was funny.   🙂     Why didn’t this same family see the kids just seconds prior, all of them clustering together and looking out for each other, and pointing to the animals when they spotted them and showing the other siblings, and being wonderful little people?   Oh well.   I’m still glad I got the picture with them as “bats”.
  • We were the last ones to leave the petting area with the goats.   We ran around the field and I chased the kids.  It was so much fun.    Suddenly we were the only ones there besides one other child, who was actually running around with us too.    It was 4:30 and the zoo closed at 4:00 PM.   OMG.   The personnel were letting us have fun but we really pressed the limit of closing time.   We got tons of exercise in.
  • The kids wanted to go back to the playground so we did.  I had 1 1/2 hours to spend before drop off time.
  • We headed back to co-parent’s but were still really early for drop off so we went to Big Bro’s school to check out the new play structure.  It was freezing.  I happened to have a blanket with me, thank goodness.  Twin Husky was busy watching boys practice soccer.   Big Bro was on the new structure.  The girls were with me, cuddled in the blanket.   I loved it.
  • Drop off went fine.  I will see them again tomorrow afternoon.

After drop off I did some shopping for myself at Kohl’s, and got a landslide deal on end of summer shorts, shirts, and dresses for me.   I bought gas at Safeway and saved $0.80 per gallon from the food shopping I do there.   I then returned a huge ladder that I still never opened from Home Depot – and got a big credit to my account.   This will help with the balance I owe.  I am watching money so carefully these days.

I got home and went nuts attacking my room and the placement of furniture… it feels better now; a better flow.  I need to go through my closet, get rid of stuff I don’t use.  So I can get the new stuff there.   I’ve neglected my room during the move and I need to catch up on myself.   This will be my sanctuary and it is coming together much better now.   I’m tired though and will call it a night.

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Til next week –

– Mama K

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August 30: A sick kid


Big Bro stayed home today, along with the siblings (who did not have daycare today).   Big Bro stayed home because he was sick.

  • Everyone was eating breakfast, “Chocolate Thursday”, and Big Bro was still in his room, complaining of a stomach ache.
  • I got everyone together…. dressed, vitamins, shoes, tigers, blankets, etc.    Big Bro was still going in slow motion.  Still not eating.  I felt his head.  Warm.  But it was hot outside.   This is the benefit of having four kids:   I grabbed some other kids to compare temperatures.   Big Bro was definitely warm.   I grabbed two thermometers.   Both not working.  Trashed.   I looked at Big Bro.  Bloodshot eyes.   Refusing chocolate thursday.   I medicated him and sent him back to bed.  He actually slept.
  • So, its his first week of first grade, and he’s already missed one day of school.   This reminds me of his first week of daycare… he was kicked out by Thursday… his fourth day… for fever.  Seems like we are repeating history.
  • Big Bro lounged about the entire day.  He was feverish and needed alternating ibuprofen, Tylenol, ibuprofen, …. … all day long.  He ate little.   He fell asleep for the night at 6:30 PM, a first.
  • The rest of the kids did well today, and played quietly.   Lots of coloring, building Legos, taking care of Cocoa.   Red was SUPER helpful and cleaned up her entire room, put away her and her sister’s clean clothes, and even started vacuuming up the house.   She helped set and clear the table for dinner as well.  She was amazing today.  And I told her so.
  • So, right now Big Bro is isolated from the rest.   I set up a small sleep area for Twin Husky in the girls’ room.  And the girls let him in there since they all sort of bonded today.    Everyone was sound asleep by 8:15 PM.  Another first.

It was a relatively good day all things considering, but I really felt bad for Big Bro.  He seemed so out of it.  And I’m not sure what tonight will bring.  Hopefully nothing too eventful.

Wish us luck tomorrow.  Hopefully he sleeps this off, and did not pass it to anyone…

Til tomorrow –

– Mama K

August 29: Graduation


I love Wednesdays. I get to wake up later than usual, eliminate the commute, enjoy my home while working, take breaks in the sunshine, and wrap up early and see them in the early afternoon. Since Big Bro is in first grade now, and since his class didn’t let out until 1:50, around the same time the Twins would be napping, I took the opportunity to get more hours in at work. It was a great, full day.

Highlights of the Morning and Work:

  • Woke up, took a shower, made coffee, had a yogurt/granola/fruit breakfast, watered my garden, and set up for the day.
  • I worked on finalizing the Agenda for one of the forums for end of September and confirmed speaking spots with all speakers.
  • Had a “sales” meeting for a prospect. He was on the fence. I suggested him speaking directly to one of the members. I found a perfect client for him to speak to, they connected, and the prospect will be coming to the meeting! Yeah!
  • I coordinated with a consultant who is organizing a piece of the Agenda for me; she is new and is doing a great job. I enjoy working with her.
  • I set up some communication materials for another person helping me on this effort – I am delegating a lot of tasks to others so I can focus on client interaction, speaker interaction, and sales. I’m enjoying my work these days.
  • I packed up some snacks and water bottles for the kids and left the house at 1 PM. There was little/no traffic going to get them.
  • Highlights of the Afternoon:

  • Big Bro was smiling and shy when I saw him at the door to his classroom. He mentioned that his bike broke this morning so we went over to check it out. It was the front break handle. It snapped. It didn’t seem to be a big deal, but it did need to be fixed. It put him in an “off” mood.
  • We went to pick up Red. It was her last day in her “class” at pre-school/daycare. She will be moving up and graduation to Pre-K starting Monday. I love her teachers. I hugged the one that was there and thanked her for everything that she has done for Red and our family. They have gone out of their way for us this year.
  • The three of us went to the bike store to see if they could fix Big Bro’s bike. At first they said they were booked until TUESDAY. But poor Big Bro rides his bike to school when he is at co-parent’s. The look on our faces must have said it all. They stopped what they were doing and said they would fix it for him on the spot. We were elated. This gave us time to pick up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky while the bike was being fixed.
  • Twin Crazy and Twin Husky just seem to be bigger and bigger each Wednesday I see them. Or, maybe it was that there was a new child at their daycare, a baby about 5 months old. I couldn’t help but pick up this child and talk to him and hug him and smile with him. The Twins were very protective of the child. Both were going up to him, being gentle, and kissing him. There was no jealousy that I could see when I was playing with him. It was the last day for them as well at their daycare. She was just…. OK. She fed them and kept them warm and they napped, but there was always T.V. on and these kids really needed to be with other kids their age besides themselves. They will start daycare at Red’s daycare center on Monday. So this was their last day with this particular provider. I hugged her and thanked her for everything.
  • All of us went to pick up Big Bro’s bike. We thanked them for going out of their way for us. Big Bro was thrilled. Twin Husky started crying for a small, blue bike.
  • There was an issue between Red and Big Bro over a container of green playdough when we got in the car. I suggested that Red give back the green playdough to Big Bro, and that we would go to my house and see if the playdough there was good and clean and colors not mixed up. If not, I promised to take them to buy more, that way she could have purple, Twin Crazy could have pink, and Twin Husky could have blue. That seemed like a good deal. She gave the playdough up to Big Bro.
  • The boys slept on the way home.
  • Kids saw the new table and loved it.
  • Red reunited with Cocoa and Cocoa was purring for her.
  • Kids checked the playdough and yes it was disgusting and colors all mixed up.
  • I threw a chicken into the oven.
  • We hit the road to Target, for playdough. That was the only thing on our list. I kept mentioning that to the kids. They understood. Twin Husky got scared on the escalator and I had to have the people behind us pick him up since I was halfway up myself. Kids were great at Target. Running, laughing, and picked out a perfect $6 playdough set. All were good when they got distracted with other toys but I reminded them that it was only “playdough” that was on our list.
  • Big Bro started his homework, kids played with playdough.
  • We ate a fabulous dinner. The first meal at the new kitchen table.
  • Big Bro was making phone calls to family members and actually having good conversations.
  • Dessert time was smoothies with some old and new fruit. We had them on the top deck outside in our yard. It was awesome.
  • Twins and Red “helped” me take up the trash bins up the driveway. They were using their muscles and being very helpful.
  • I put on the water sprinkler for the front yard plants and everything is so screwed up. The pressure is completely out of whack and the hoses are spewing all over the place. Of course the kids had fun with the hoses and I was biting my tongue not to laugh with them too hard.
  • The boys though started to play with sand/mud along the driveway so I sent everyone inside for baths. The baths were quick but at least all four got clean.
  • Bedtime. I pleaded with them to go to sleep since we have a very early morning tomorrow.
  • The boys are sleeping in their “fort” again. Sheets hung up along the bunk bed so that they are sleeping inside the dark fort.
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    I finished the evening solo with laundry, a shower, and sending some emails for work. Tomorrow I will have Red and the Twins with me all day – I should be packing/getting ready for tomorrow but I don’t have it in me. Breakfast will be Chocolate Thursday but I’ll have to pack up food for the afternoon – I’d like to take the kids out somewhere while Big Bro is at school. I’m tired just thinking about it.

    It was a great, full day. I felt completely productive at work and also had lots of good time with the kids. We did a lot together today. I’m going to sleep well tonight.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    Random Thoughts: Breakfast on the go


    Now that school has started, I will be driving my four kids during the early AM commute to get Big Bro to public school in time — it will be a 45 minute trip.  I would like to have the kids get up, get dressed, and go… and serve them their breakfast in the car so they can each get some extra sleep, instead of doing the breakfast routine at home.  This will require more planning by me up front, but I think it will work out.   But I’d love some ideas from you!!!!

    Photo source:  Parenting.com
    This is what I’ve been thinking:

    • bowl of fruit, side of bread/tortilla
    • fruit smoothie
    • cheese sticks, sliced apples
    • pancakes (made in advance, then reheated in micro-wave) and then placed in a “tortilla” warmer container
    • chocolate Nutella roll ups in tortillas (e.g., our Chocolate Tuesday, Chocolate Thursday)
    • home-made granola bars
    • fresh made bread with my bread machine… I can program in advance and have the bread ready and baked for when the kids wake up
    • Yogurt, granola, nuts
    • bagel quarters with cream cheese/jelly

    There are also some great ideas I found at Parenting.com.  Some of them won’t work for picky kids or for REALLY needing to run out the door, but there are some good ideas in there.  Check it out.

    Any other thoughts?   What kinds of fast breakfasts do you do for your kids?   Which of these are “portable” to your car without too much mess? 

    Please share!

    Thanks for listening –

    – Mama K

    August 27: Big Bro’s first day of First grade!!!


    I wake up at 6:15 to quickly grab a shower before the kids wake up.  This is a BIG day.  For many reasons.  This is the first morning that I will be driving the children in early morning rush hour traffic to co-parent’s neighborhood for school and daycare.   This is the first day back after my mini “staycation” with the kids and my mom.   But most importantly, this is Big Bro’s FIRST day of school and FIRST day of FIRST grade!!!!

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • During my shower I faintly saw a 3 foot tall body through the textured glass.  It was Twin Husky, usually the first of the four kids to wake up.  He was standing there, smiling, thumb in mouth and Tiger tail in hand.  He was talking about how my closet door does not close (because there’s too much stuff in it) but how the bathroom door DOES close and he shows me.   How can kids be such conversationalists as soon as they wake up?
    • We whispered to each other so the other kids would be able to sleep as long as possible.  I had already set up the shoes for the kids the night before, and also organized Big Bro’s lunch, but this AM I also organized:  four piles of vitamins, an “on the road” breakfast (grapes and tortillas), four water bottles, Big Bro’s lunch in the lunchbox (along with a note from mommy), jackets.    I also promptly put on the kettle so I could brew my own luxury… Boden coffee.
    • The kids started to wake up.  Big Bro and Red were already dressed from the night before (they were very excited).  I just had to do diaper changes for the Twins since they would be dropped off to their old daycare in PJs.
    • The kids seemed ready to go and excited.  I prepared them for this morning.   They eagerly ate their vitamins.  Brushed teeth.   I helped zipper jackets.   I wet, combed, and put gel in Big Bro’s enormous head of hair.  And off we went.   I got the kids belted in the van, and then distributed their water bottles and breakfast.   We were off.   On the road.   In motion.   The kids not skipping a beat.
    • It took about 30  minutes of highway driving in rush hour traffic but it was moving and not bad at all.  We talked about the fog, how it hugged the trees ahead of us.   Twin Crazy was very talkative, as usual.   By the end of the ride, Red was asleep, and Twin Husky was close to it.   As we got closer Twin Husky started to cry.  He said he didn’t want to go to “school”.   He starts pre-school with Twin Crazy on Wednesday and we’ve been talking about that.  I guess he feels a little bit nervous.  How sweet.
    • Twin drop off was quick, efficient.
    • Red drop off was slower, a bit clingy.  She looked gorgeous in her new clothes and short hair.   I informed the teacher that she was having a hard morning so she took some extra time with Red as I was leaving.
    • Big Bro drop off.   I loved it.   We parked the car, and walked together to the school.  I talked about how proud I am of him.  How great First grade will be.  How pretty soon he will be reading so much more and learning so much about things.  How this is a big day for him.  How it might feel different compared to Kindergarten but he will have his friends there and his teacher will likely be very nice.   I told him that I was so happy to be walking there with him.  Just me and him – no one else.   And I asked him if I could hold his hand as we walked through the streets of a quiet neighborhood – since I knew he would not want to hold my hand as we got closer to the school.   I apologized for the long ride in the morning.  He said that he actually liked the long ride.    I was surprised by this and want to explore it further with him….  
    • We arrived and there were lots of families there with their kids.  Lots of smiles.   The pledge of allegiance was over and announcements were over, so it was time to go to the classrooms.   His teacher did not want the parents inside – so she greeted each child at the door and the parents said their goodbyes at the door.   Big Bro went in without a problem.  No tears.   I sneaked a peek into the classroom once he got seated, and caught him looking back towards the door to sneak a peek.   I did not want to cause a commotion and quickly left.  
    • I felt really good on the way to the car.   The kids were great this morning and the ride was manageable.  Now I just need to do some thinking of fast breakfasts that can be “on the go” that all will like.   This will be my new project.   Any suggestions Mamas?

     

    Highlights of My Working Day:

    • I drove back home instead of going into the city, since I needed to be there to accept a furniture delivery.  I received my kitchen table today!   Yeah!!!
    • On the way home, I received some calls from potential clients related to the forums I am organizing.   I am inviting “guests” in hopes that they will see the value of the meeting and convert to paying members.   The Agenda is working as a sales tool.  It’s generating interest and I received two phone calls on my way home.
    • At home, the table arrived shortly after I did.   It looks big.   But I think it will work (it has too).   I was just used to open space, and now it is filled.   It is very “barnlike” which I love – it feels comfortable, low key, and functional for the space.   I can’t wait for the kids to see it and to have our first meal together.

    • I spent the day a bit in a daze.   Organizing meetings for tomorrow, handling some logistics.   Delegating some tasks. 

    The Rest of the Day:

    • I decided to call a quits at 5-ish.
    • I pulled weeds, put the pool and slip-n-slide in the back of the house, and put some logs in my trash bin.
    • I left a message for Big Bro to call me when he got home.
    • I ate left over cheese and tomato salad for dinner.
    • I talked to Big Bro.  It was mostly me asking questions and him saying “yeah” but he sounded VERY happy.  I told him again how proud of him I was.  I asked him if he felt nervous at all and he said No.   We talked for more than 20 minutes which I thought good for a kid of six.   He was the most talkative about his lunch.  How I put in a napkin, a note, and chocolate cake.  I’ll pull more out of him when I see him.  I can’t wait.

    So now I’m chilling out feeling good about the day; I miss the kids but they need their time with co-parent.  It is so quiet here without them.  The sun is setting and the crickets are chirping.  I will have a busy day of meetings tomorrow, but I am glad about that since I feel like I was in a daze today.  

    My first born had his first day in First grade today.  And there were no tears.  And he was excited.  And he sounded so happy when I talked with him at the end of the day.    And this room is coming together – the kitchen table is finally here.  What a milestone.  Now it will really feel like a home.  

    I am looking forward to watching True Blood on the DVR.   And getting an early night’s sleep.   This is shaping up to being a really good week, so far.

    Til tomorrow –

    – Mama K

    Staying Sane: “Staycation” with kids and Nana


    My life and standard of living has changed pretty dramatically over the course of the year.   In years past, the term “vacation” would have meant an early AM drive to the airport, headed to a far-away place.   Even when the kids entered the world, they did not hold me back.   Now however, I am essentially living paycheck to paycheck, and I also do not have the luxury of having the kids’ time in big blocks.  Except for last week.   From Tuesday night, August 21 through tomorrow AM, Aug 27 it is my time with the kids.   And my mom came out for a visit.

    I’m feeling full now.  And happy.  The days were spent doing not that much of anything, but yet doing everything at the same time.   There were no destinations, no special restaurants, no special activities.  Just time together and gearing up for Big Bro’s first day of school, which is tomorrow.   I will be driving him in, and I am soooooo thankful for this change in routine to be able to share this day with him.

    Highlights of the past week with Nana:

    • Waiting for Nana in the “park and call” and talking with the kids about their excitement about Nana’s visit.
    • Introducing “Cocoa” to Nana and having the kids show her how they take care of her.
    • Watching a movie and air-popping pop-corn and exploding with excitement and laughter.
    • Early morning sounds of footsteps and Twin Husky coming into our bed at 7 AM, each morning, like clockwork.  No words.  Just him, his Tiger, and him scurrying up on the bed, getting  under the covers.   So sweet.
    • Looking at the bus come for the neighborhood kids for their school (they started this week).  The bus comes to my driveway.   I am hoping the kids have the opportunity to take this bus next year.  Twin Husky was upset that he was not able to go on the bus.
    • Taking “Cocoa” to the vet because of her dry ear.  Watching the examination.  All kids watching and learning, intently.   Looking at the big doggies in the waiting room.
    • Me going to a “lunch meeting” at work and Nana taking care of all kids on her own.
    • Opening a box that arrived that was actually sent by Nana – filled with supplies for each of the kids’ desks, clothes, playdough, and outdoor fun gear….
    • Lots of playdough…. every day.
    • Going to a haircut appointment and deciding to take “my girls” with me; it was so cute to divide and conquer.  And for me to go out and have them watch me get a haircut (which I desperately needed)
    • Filling up our bird-feeder, and then waiting for the birds to come back; hearing birds singing wildly each morning and then counting the bluejays in the back yard.
    • Completing my project of putting deer netting around the final section of my garden.  Maybe now I’ll be able to see/eat a strawberry.
    • Slip-n-slide, blow up pool in our front yard.  Twin Husky going crazy and diving through the water.  Shivering.   Looking like a football player, only 3 feet tall.   Twin Crazy and Twin Husky fighting over a little tiny water shooter, and then Twin Crazy stomping off mad only to return with a HUGE, “Rambo” looking like water semi-automatic.   It was outrageously funny.   A neighborhood friend coming over for a bit after seeing the water slip-n-slide in our front yard from the street as he drove by with his father.
    • Putting together the rest of my blinds in my kitchen.   They look great.
    • Picnics for lunch, outside.
    • Going to Target with Big Bro and Red to do “back to school” shopping.
    • Nana making “icebox cake” with the kids, their little routine together.
    • Cleaning out my storage shed and moving in some file cabinets to make room in the house.
    • We jointly decided that Sunday would be a special “Chocolate Sunday” since that was the last day of vacation and since Nana would be leaving on that day.  Twin Husky remembered this fact this morning when he woke up.  It was the first thing he was talking about.

    So, it really was many days of just “existing” but enjoying the time spent together and also apart.  It was a mixture of laughter, tantrums, and quiet time.  It was wonderful waking up to the kids for so many days in a row.  I will never tire of this.   I will never tire of the mornings waking up to the kids and their smiles and their funny words.  It was great to have my mom here.  To share this time with us in such a relaxed way; no plans, no schedules, just doing what we want to do.

    Highlights of the Rest of Today:

    • After dropping off Nana, I decided to take the kids to a science museum at a local university.  They loved it.  It was a totally spontaneous trip but they were great.   We played with air and beachballs, balls on ramps, the kids worked together to build foam building structures, … , …, …    They had so much fun.
    • We had lunch, the Twins took naps.
    • Big Bro and Red went next door to play with their friends.
    • I did some more cleaning up around the house.  I did laundry.
    • The Twins woke up and I put on loud music and the three of us danced in the kitchen.
    • A friend came over for dinner and we had a HUGE pasta dinner with chocolate mousse cake afterwards.  We sang “Happy First day of First Grade” to the birthday song tune; The kids were great.
    • We had a photo shoot of the kids to celebrate Big Bro’s first day of first grade.
    • Red wrote out her alphabet letters but kept having a problem with the letter “K”.  I showed her a trick and she wound up doing the “K” perfectly and was very proud of her accomplishment for the entire alphabet, as was I.   Her creation made it to the “art wall” in our kitchen.
    • The kids all went to sleep without a problem.
    • I got myself ready for tomorrow morning…. I will be driving Big Bro to his first day of 1st grade, and also the kids to their daycares.  We will need to leave VERY early to get there on time.  I got the shoes ready, lunch is already made for Big Bro, and the ride is ready for the kids breakfast in the van on the way there.    Wish me luck.

    I am sighing now because I feel like its the end but yet a new beginning.  Big Bro in first grade; I can’t believe it.  I wanted so much to be settled for our family for years before Big Bro made it to first grade… there was so much pressure leading up to this event…. and here we are.  Still in the same general location, but our family torn.   It really is amazing.

    I feel happy though.   I am settled, but still not really.  So much to do to actually get settled (fence, yard, garden, etc. etc. etc.) but all the rest will just unfold.  There is no rush for anything.   No timeline for anything.   Just living.   Each day.   And I feel good with where I am now.   There is no resistance with anything anymore.  I feel good with the time that I get to spend with the kids.   I feel lucky that I have the time to focus on them when I do have time with them.   I feel good that they listen to me as their mother – we laugh together, but they listen and they are fun for me to be around.   I enjoy being with them.  Talking with them.  Watching them learn.  Watching them care for each other and for other things, like their rooms, Cocoa, the house – our home.

    This was a great “staycation” and a vacation that has topped the charts in my mind.   I’m looking forward to many more to come.

    Have a great week everybody –

    – Mama K

    August 21: A working mother again!


    I spent the day in the office but bar-belled in the AM and in the PM with kid-related stuff – so for the first time in a very long time, I actually felt like a juggling, working mom today.

    Highlights of My Morning and Commute:

    • I woke up later than usual for some reason.  I’m usually leaving my house at 7:15 but this is when I was just getting up.  Oh well.  I have a conference call at 8 AM so I’ll just have to take it from home or on the way to the train.
    • At around 7:45, I heard kids.  This is unusual.  I usually don’t hear kids this early.   Wait a minute, it is the first day of school for the kids in my neighborhood.  Wait a minute, their bus-stop is right at the foot of my driveway!   I ran outside, dressed but without make up, and took pictures of my neighbors and their kids waiting for the bus on their first day of school.  It was “Q”‘s first day of 1st grade.  Big Bro’s friend.  And “L” is going into 3rd grade, I think.   They were so proud of their brand-new clothes – sneakers, pants, shirt, jacket, backpack…. haircuts….. so much fun.  I remember the first days of school.  How much excitement it brings and also the jitters.
    • THEN THE BUS CAME!!!!   Right at my driveway!   I can’t believe it.  I was excited for my neighbor’s family, but inside I ached for my kids.  I wish they were able to experience this.  Hopefully they will, someday.  Their school year starts next week in co-parent’s neighborhood.
    • I ran inside in enough time to take my conference call (on mute) while finishing getting ready.   I drove to the train and sat in the car in the parking lot until the call was over.   When it finished up, I headed up to my commute.
    • I listened to music on the way in on the train.  Another first for me.

    Highlights of the Working Day:

    • I continued to sell participation as Guests to many prospective members for the first forum coming up.
    • I had a conference call with a different prospective client for a different forum that I am trying to set up.  It was a great call.
    • I then got a text from co-parent saying that they were 2 hours away and on their way to my house.  Wait a minute!!!!   I did not know they were going to be that early.   I still have work to do!  I have some meetings I need to re-arrange!   I’m not quite ready to leave just yet!   Just another reminder to me at how bad the communication is between us.
    • I printed out materials quickly, packed up, and hauled ass out of the office — delegating some tasks on my way out, and connecting briefly with a Director on some points that we needed to talk about face-to-face.

    The Rest of the Day:

    • It was so good to see the kids.   They were all so happy and in great moods.  They were coming back from a vacation with co-parent, and starting a vacation with me.
    • They brought in extra food and a huge watermelon which I proceeded to quickly scoop into balls for their snack.   What a hit.  The kids were having a blast.
    • While they were eating the snack, co-parent helped me to put up the rack to my set of vertical blinds in the kitchen.   This was extremely helpful.  There was no way I would have been able to do this on my own.   The rack would have been too difficult for me to maneuver on my own while installing it.  So, thanks to co-parent.  We have our ups and downs.
    • The kids had a great time riding bikes, checking out the chickens, investigating in the shed, pulling out (big) tennis rackets, hitting balls all over the place, and then EXERCISING.   Big Bro cracks me up.  He is a leader with the kids all the time.  He instructed them with a whistle that “Now its time to run”.  And they ran around the house.  “Now its time to drink”.  And they drank water.  “Now its time to play tennis”.  And they hit balls with their rackets.  Over and over again there was this drill-sargant leading the pack of kids to activity to activity.   They were laughing so hard, having a ball.
    • They ate like champs.  All food was gone, and I made A LOT.
    • Afterwards they played outside some more.  I was getting ready for trash night.  This is the first time I’m doing this with the kids, I thought to myself.  I broke down card-board boxes and they were busy stamping on the bubble wrap.  I bought more step-stools for them, a light-weight vacuum cleaner, and other items; great timing!
    • I cleaned up from dinner as the kids brushed teeth with their new stools.   Twin Crazy was very clingy and she chose to be with me while the kids were playing.
    • We had more fruit for dessert and then the kids were cranky for bed.
    • They got changed without a problem, we read without a problem, I scratched their backs without a problem, and I talked to Twin Crazy about the foxes and the animals outside and she told me that they are outside and not coming inside.  I said that I was going to be in the kitchen and she would be able to hear me so for her not to feel like she was alone.   This worked.
    • I cut up the rest of the watermelon, fed my compost tumbler with the rinds, cleaned up the floor of sticky watermelon juice, used the new vacuum  on the dust, and hung up the blinds.   The place is coming together.  Each week it looks more and more like a home.  I will have the kitchen table delivered next week which I am PUMPED about.

    Now I’m at my home office desk, with the kids sound asleep.  I feel like I have work to do, but it is late.  I don’t know how I’m going to work my 4 hours tomorrow with 4 kids in the house.  We already lined up things to do.  See the neighbors off on the bus, feed the guinea pig lettuce, have the kids take turns using the vacuum, go food shopping, pick up Nana…..   whoa.  I might need to take the day off.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull off four hours of real work, unless I get a jump on it tonight.  Or, not.

    Til tomorrow,

    – Mama K

    Random Thoughts: Helping a child feel at home in a different house


    I am going to draw on my brother for inspiration for this post.  As my own family has been coming apart at its seams, his family is coming together.  He will soon be welcoming his son and the mother of this child into is home. I won’t go into details, but this reunion has been in the works for quite some time.  So long, that many, probably himself included, thought that this day would not happen.  But it is.   Their Visas are in-hand, and they will be traveling this upcoming weekend to join him in his home, for the very first time, and hopefully for good.

    So of course my brother is now freaking out.  He is used to living on his own.  But now there will be a woman there as well, and a 4-year old son.   Imagine this situation from this child’s perspective.  Leaving a country that he has known all of his life, and coming to a new environment and having a new home thrust upon him.

    My children actually experienced something similar to this, albeit much less severe.   But there were things I did to help them through the change.  Help them accept a new place as a new home.  Things to make them feel like they had their own space.  And some sense of control in a situation where they actually had no control.

    So of course, when I heard this news, I started spewing out all of these ideas for my brother to think about.   Just ideas.  Thinking from his son’s perspective.  And helping my brother through his “deer in the headlights” look.

    And these types of suggestions can actually relate to so many of our own audience… think about moving to a new house.  Or the arrival of a new sibling.   Or a new routine as a mother goes back to work.   Change can be scary for a child.  And there are things that we do as mothers to help children manage through these feelings of change and help them gain their sense of space and some control in their little lives.

    Here are some of my suggestions to my brother, based upon my recent experiences with my own kids.  I’m sure that you can think of other ideas as well:

    • Have one of the lower kitchen pull-out drawers cleared out, so he can put his cups, plates, bowls, utensils in there and organized in a way that he likes.

    • Develop a “small” / “manageable” shopping list, and go to a place like Target to have him pick out: toothbrush holder, toothbrush and paste, bedsheets, bathtowel, bathmat
    • Have a set of bookshelves/stackable bins/ baskets set up for him to organize and put his “stuff” (e.g., cars, Legos, play animals, etc.)

    • Have a plastic container or backpack or something for his art supplies – crayons, markers, some notebooks, paper, stencils, etc.
    • Have him decorate his room with wall stickers

    • Get a fun night-light in a character that he loves (e.g., Cars, etc.)
    • Have a step stool ready that way he can easily reach lights, the toilet, etc.

    • Have supplies ready for a jacket hook and shoe bin for the closet.  Ask him where he would like to put the hook (left side? right side?  how high?)

    And some of the things my brother can do in advance – get the gear ahead of time, and then have his son place the things in the home — things like step stools, plates, cups, etc.   Things where the “choice” is not in the look of the item, but really the placement of the item.   And again, I’m a big fan of Amazon.com so a lot of these things could be purchased in advance and simply delivered to his doorstep.  His son could open up the packages and have fun organizing his new things around the home.

    There are probably lots more to add.  I think the key here is to give him as much control and choice as is possible; and also show him that he has his own dedicated space in the new home.   That they are working together with him to help him set up his space, to the extent that he lets them.  They are together in this, he is not alone, he has his things, and he has choices.

    What are some other ideas that you can think of to help this child in his transition to his new home????  Please share…

    Thanks for listening –

    – Mama K

    Staying Sane: Rock out in the pit!!!


    I’ve missed several daily journals.  I apologize.    But something extraordinary happened last week.  I went to a concert.  A live concert.  With awesome, kick-ass bands.  And I made it down to the pit.  Real close.  At first, several rows away from the stage.  And then, I weasled my way into FIRST ROW.

    I RAGED!   It was wonderful.   I was all by myself, but I think that made it even more fun.  I don’t think I would have been able to get as close if I were with others.

    MOTLEY CRUE:

    They played cool stuff; Tommy Lee was great.  Lead singer was a bit tired, raspy, sounded like he was in pain.  The one guitarist looked like he was dead.

     

     

    KISS:

    Way out cool.  Check out how close I am.  You can see the photographers and also the security guard (he does not look terribly imposing I must say).   I was pointing to Gene Simmons and he pointed back.  The Ace Frehely replacement guy threw me a pick (I still have it).    I was so close that I was getting hot from the fire on stage.  These guys are professional, professional, performers.   Hands down.   AWESOME TIME!!!!

    So, I’ve decided that I must go to more concerts.  With great bands playing really loud music.   There is something about a live show.  There is something about the rush of being so close.   And being surrounded by people as jazzed up as you are.   I felt alive.  So worth the money!!!

    Have a great week everybody –

    – Mama K

    Gig Tips: Speak up at meetings


    I’m feeling tired tonight so I want to write something short, sweet, and to-the-point.

    Have you ever been invited to a meeting with a small group of people and witnessed one person who literally did not add ANYTHING to the meeting?   No comments, no thoughts, no feedback, no voice, no nothing.   Let me tell you, this makes me and others in my company CRINGE.   Why was that person there?   Why was that person taking up that seat?   That person should have been doing something else instead of being at that damn meeting.

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    image source:  http://jenniferfrahmcollaborations.x.iabc.com/files/2011/06/meeting.jpg

    When invited to a meeting with certain objectives, it is important to understand what your role is in that meeting.   Are you there to vet an idea?  Is the person leading the meeting trying to gain consensus for a decision to move forward in some way?  Is it to participate in a debate of an idea?  Brainstorm?  Be informed?  Contribute thought leadership that others can learn from?   WHY ARE YOU THERE???

    Once you know this, it is critical that you follow through and do your part.  Fulfill your end of the bargain.   You are an employee there because they see value in you.  They want your opinion, or at least your participation.   When I am in a meeting and I see a non-participant, I get seriously irritated.   Are they not paying attention?  Do they not care?   Is there nothing in that brain to help the cause?   Whatever the reason, it does not reflect well on that individual.

    So ladies, be confident.  Be concise.  Be thoughtful.  And come prepared.  And when it is you and a group of individuals coming together to share precious time during the working day, do your best to move that meeting forward.   Speak your mind.  Contribute.   Earn that paycheck.   Be objective, be accurate, and honest.  Sure, sometimes the meetings are boring.  Sometimes they suck.   But we are all strong and we know how to get through painful situations (right, remember 9 months of pregnancy??!?!?)

    But whatever you do, don’t text, don’t doodle, don’t look down, and don’t stay silent.

    Our time is too limited during the day to waste our own time or to waste other people’s time.

    That’s all for now –

    – Mama K

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