Staying Sane: Couch monster


This past week involved a lot of shifting around my little living room.   This was to make room for the Christmas tree.  I bought the cheapest, fake tree I could find.  So, it is actually quite long and skinny.  Which is AOK by me, since my little living room can’t really hold a lot of tree.   Anyway, dealing with the small space and trying to free up room by the windows to make room for a gorgeous, decorated, tall skinny tree was in order.  And guess what we found while moving the couch sectionals around the space…

  • 1 remote control
  • 1 piece of art from the kids – a picture of a hand-drawn fire truck that was beautifully drawn and colored
  • 5 bouncy balls, 1 golf ball, 1 other random ball
  • an assortment of Lego pieces
  • 1 pair of rabbit ears
  • the equivalent of a bowl full of popcorn and unpopped popcorn seeds
  • a hair clip
  • countless bits of crayons
  • some plastic toy bugs
  • about 5 marker caps
  • 1 empty bottle of children’s play nail-polish
  • some kids books
  • a few puzzle pieces
  • massive amounts of fuzz
  • likewise, lots of hardened coal-like guinea pig poop

IMG_8131

IMG_0414

IMG_8132

IMG_0457

So, if you are driving yourself crazy trying to find that little “do-dad” that either you are missing, or worse yet, your child is missing (and thus throwing a tantrum and falling to pieces), there could be a possibility that the couch monster that was at my place is now at yours.   It might be worth a look under the couch to see what kind of gold could be lurking…

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

Advertisements

Staying Sane: Not-so-Small Blessings


Let’s be honest. Holidays are stressful times. I’ve made it through this one – my first as a divorce, sharing my kids. What had started as an unbelievably frustrating experience with co-parent, wound up as a week+ of adventure, re-connections, and more focused time with the individual kids. I am ending an amazing Thanksgiving holiday, newly divorced, and feeling the fullest I have in years.

Some background: I had planned a trip back east to take part in my brother’s wedding celebration the weekend before Thanksgiving. As the time got closer, me and co-parent had to ask for the help of a child mediator to help us sort through the holidays (ridiculous, I know). I wound up with this first Thanksgiving. But at this point, it was too late for any of my family to fly out. Despite this, I was convinced that I could still make this a fun Thanksgiving for the kids so I agreed to this arrangement.

As time drew near, it hit me. Take Big Bro and Red with me, and keep Twin Crazy and Twin Husky behind with co-parent. We worked out a schedule where I stayed with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky (two on one) the time immediately before and immediately after our trip – And me, Big Bro, and Red had a full week away two-on-one. So each parent had two-on-one time with pairs of kids during the 10-day time span.

It was amazing.

*****

These are the things that I LOVED about this trip:

  • Big Bro’s defiance and self-assertion removing the jeans that I packed for him. He only likes wearing shorts now (West Coast, I know). He wound up a week in Philly with shorts on freezing his little ass off.
  • Big Bro and Red’s amazing enthusiasm for the trip, and helping every step of the way. I told them that travel days are difficult and that we have to help each other out when we need to. Big Bro was defiant in wanting to pull our one piece of luggage, and Red carried the toy roller bag that she and Big Bro packed together.
  • WE ALL SLEPT ON THE RED-EYE PLANE! We somehow arranged ourselves to all be horizontal and sleeping on each other and actually getting sleep. I loved cuddling with my little kiddos this way and feeling so close to them.
  • I know this is bad for me to say, but yes, I enjoyed sharing a bed with both of these kids for the ENTIRE week. Somehow traveling makes it sort of OK, but I know a hard habit to break.
  • Running at my Aunt’s house in her backyard with each of the kids. I wanted to get their bodies moving after our nap at her house. I wanted some exercise. We had a great time playing tag, chasing after each other, me running against Big Bro while having Red on my back… I loved it and they were giggling like you wouldn’t believe.
  • Seeing my brother and extended family and welcoming his wife and son officially into our family. I am so happy for them. It was also wonderful to see so many of my extended family in one setting – I so rarely am able to do this. So at least two of my kids got the opportunity to see my aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends of family. It is unbelievable to me that the Twins are almost 3 and have yet to meet so many of my family…
  • Dancing with Red and Big Bro at the wedding celebration.
  • Seeing Red and Big Bro interact so well with everyone at the wedding celebration.
  • Connecting with so many that are now so far away from me.
  • Cheesesteaks and pizza. The way they were meant to be.
  • Being able to do work and have productive days while at my mom’s house. She was able to entertain the kids and I was able to be productive and actually work remotely on those days. In fact, I talked to two prospective clients and they have decided to join our forums… so this was extra big for me this past week.
  • Playing “War” with Big Bro and Red.
  • Walking with Big Bro and Red and Nana and her dog and collecting leaves along the way. The leaves were gorgeous. Bright reds. Bright yellows.
  • Running with the kids up and down hills in my mom’s neighborhood.
  • Playing chase and hide and seek with the kids in my mom’s neighborhood.
  • Doing homework and daywork (he missed two days of school for this trip) with Big Bro. I love spending time with him and these activities. He really enjoys the work and learning. I love being there with him and encouraging him to learn.
  • Working with Red on her letters; she wants desperately to mimic her brother with his schoolwork. We wrote out the names of her classmates and used those letters to create words. We drew out a number line and Big Bro taught her how to use it for simple arithmetic. She was hooked. She kept craving more and more and more equations to work on and she did SOOOOOO amazingly well at them. I am so unbelievably proud of her.
  • My mom’s dog finally accepting these kids and letting them pet her gently and her kissing each of them and interacting with them; seeing Big Bro and Red every now and then simply reaching out to her when they were in the middle of doing something to pet her and acknowledge her existence and show their affection to her. I thank Cocoa for this and having them had some experience with a pet of their own.
  • Trying to see Santa but we were first too early and then too late. Big Bro’s response: “Great! Now we get to go home and have ice-cream!!”. He was not upset at all. We all laughed.
  • Big Bro’s response to my step-father’s pancreatic cancer: “He did not look as sick as I thought he would.” So I guess the little guy was preparing himself for the worst and thinking of my step-dad looking more sick (he is thinner, but does look great otherwise). Afterwards, we talked about cancer, what it is (cells that are growing too fast and they crowd out the good, healthy cells), and how you can’t really cure it. You can either take it out, or use medicine to help control the growth. Big Bro understood and said that Joe-Joe Pop was not going to get better, but the medicine he was taking would help to keep him feeling better longer. I wanted to reach out and squeeze this kid so badly then.
  • Red playing with her toy “pets” that Nana gave her and her sharing with Big Bro. Both of them caring for these “pets” during the trip and also drawing yards and even GARDENS for the pets to live in. I love the fact that the garden I am trying to build is making an impact on them. They drew the things in the garden that they wanted to grow that they thought would be good for the pets.
  • Spending Thanksgiving with family. It has always been my favorite holiday, before the kids arrived. It was such a better way to spend the day – with my mom, my uncle, my brother, his family, and Big Bro/Red. It felt right.
  • Seeing Big Bro and Red play so well with their cousin. The twins have yet to meet him.
  • During a conference call, I spent time cutting out hand-drawn “carrots” and “apples” for above mentioned pet gardens.
  • Ice-cream each night with Nana and the kids.
  • Big Bro taking a shower by himself.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and donuts.
  • Two plane rides back with absolutely no tears or breakdowns. These kids are seasoned travelers. Playing “war” with them while they enjoyed their drinks of apple and orange juice with two straws.

;

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

ImageImage

;

;

I absolutely loved the time I had with these kids. I did miss the Twins, but it was so amazing to spend so much one-on-one time with these older kids. When one kid would ask me to do something with them, I was actually able to respond with “Yes, I’d love to do that with you“. I saw the impact in their eyes and still feel so lucky to have shared this time with them.

*****

When we returned, I dropped Red and Big Bro off with co-parent and picked up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky for the weekend.

These are the things that I LOVED about this weekend:

  • Twin Husky saying “Let’s go!!!” when I picked them up.
  • Twin Crazy saying “I’m glad that you came back” when we drove home. Twin Husky repeating and agreeing with her.
  • Walking into my first home after my first personal travel trip away. It smelled good; different; I felt completely at ease. The rest of the weekend I enjoyed doing house projects and cleaning. I love this home.
  • Waking up late with only two of the kids. Waking up to Twin Husky (as usual) and then Twin Crazy in my bed. Them understanding that we would get up at 8 AM.
  • Twin Crazy looking at me and just smiling ear to ear.
  • Playing loud music and dancing along with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky for most of the weekend. At one point, I was only holding Twin Husky’s hands and he was holding back smiles (embarrassed) as I told him that I loved dancing with my son. He is so sweet. They both sang and danced most of the weekend.
  • Taking them to Cold Stone Creamery after their naps on Saturday, before dinner. This was a BIG hit.
  • Then going to Trader Joe’s and having them actually remember what was on the list of things to get.
  • Them singing “baby beluga” and swimming like fish in the bath
  • Puzzle time – Twin Crazy actually doing the puzzles by herself and BEAMING with pride. Twin Husky getting frustrated with his puzzle, but I was able to spend time with him to work through it and the look on his face when he was actually getting the pieces together.
  • Bedtime books with two. It makes a difference.
  • Waking up to their warm bodies again in the morning
  • Picking weeds and Twin Husky saying that he wanted me to do that with him. Working in the garden with them and discovering worms together.
  • Twin Crazy dancing like you wouldn’t believe. Shaking her little shoulders and head. Knowing that it completely cracked me up.
  • Twin Husky pulling me by my hand “Mommy, come with me.“….
  • Each of them wanting to cuddle with me on the couch. Each of them soaking in mommy-time.

ImageImageImageImage

*****

;

Tonight I drove them home, and picked up Red and Big Bro for one hour of together-time before I dropped them all off for good at co-parent’s. I took them ALL out for ice-cream. There is just something about holidays/vacations and ice-cream with me. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t get enough ice-cream during vacations. So this was my last hour of vacation/holiday time with all four of my kids together. They had a great time re-uniting with each other. I actually heard squeals and saw some hugs. And I had a brief time with all of them together before ending this holiday break. I couldn’t be happier.

ImageImage

;

So now I’m getting ready for the week, a normal week, and I’m not down that the holiday time is over. I’m OK with it. It feels good to be back home. I am glad that I was able to reconnect with my family on the east coast and also bring some kids with me. I’m glad that I was able to spend REAL time with the kids. I am glad that I was able to TALK to them and learn with them and celebrate their growth. And talk to them about missing people and how I know that it hurts and sometimes can be sad, but then you get a chance to see them again.

It breaks my heart when I leave them, but then I think of the next time I will see them and then it’s not that bad.

So it was the many, many, many small blessings that I had over the past 10 days that I am SOOOOOOOOOO grateful for. And I know that there are few people besides myself that can get this much of a charge out of each of these four little people. I know that these kids can light me up in such a special way that others simply cannot – and vice-versa. And this comforts me in some strange way when I am not with them.

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Give it a second chance


If you’ve been reading this regularly you know that I have thrown myself into a new hobby:  gardening.  This is understandable for many reasons.  I’ve been craving a home of my own, a place where I can establish myself and my family in a community, tearing out the old decay from a massive yard and the planning to rebuild and cultivate and grow.   This is also something completely within my control.  If I see a weed, I pick it from the root and it is gone.  If I want to design or plan or hatchet dead branches, I do it and I only have myself to answer to.    So, this new hobby is not too surprising to me – I am enjoying myself despite by pathetic summer crop.

Yes, I tried strawberries, blackberries, blueberries.   All eaten by varmin in the area.  Once I got smart enough to solve the problem with bamboo stakes and deer netting, the season had passed.    My neighbors came over with corn-stalk seedlings.   And these actually grew.  And grew BIG.  Each with several ears of corn.

I would water this corn religiously.   The kids also took part in this duty.   We picked the corn together.   It looked a little suspect, but I was still hopeful.

At dinner, we all bit into our bounty.   And…. it sucked.  Royally.  Even my 2 1/2 year old son who eats dirt, hated this corn.  I didn’t blame the kids.  It was pasty.  It tasted like nothing.   It looked like “Three-Mile-Island corn”.  I cursed at the price of corn in the supermarket (dirt cheap) and the fact that I spent so much time and hope on such a poor crop of anything.

But after dinner, instead of tossing into my compost pile, I decided to cut the corn from the cob and give it a second chance on my own.

Afterwards – I had 3 amazing meals:

  • a corn, black bean and cheese burrito for lunch (delicious)
  • a rice, black bean, and corn combo (used above) over a kale salad
  • brussel sprouts, corn, and kale sautéed with white wine

ALL OF THESE DISHES WERE AMAZING!   Could I have been imagining it?  Yes.  Could my hope been masking the pastiness of the corn?  Yes.  Is it the fact that I buried the corn in other more flavorful foods?   Possibly.   BUT:   Take note.  I ate the corn, and I honestly enjoyed it.

So is there a point to this story?

Give things a second chance.  Take a break and walk away for another day when you have a fresher perspective.  Be persistent but lenient when needed.  Be hopeful.   Or maybe, just drink a lot of white wine.

I hope you all have a terrific week –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: A hopeful next four years!!!!!


YEAH!!!!!! OBAMA!!!!!!!!!

Sigh of relief. Sigh of relief. Sigh of relief.

Staying Sane: Waiting is a bitch – be patient


I love my neighborhood.   It has a bunch of hard-working families with young kids like mine.  We tend to look out for each other.  We do care-packages for each other – for example, the family across the street received Twin Crazy’s hand-me down clothes.   And I receive hand-me-downs from a family down the street.   I’ve offloaded a flat-screen TV wall mount to a new family across the street – it didn’t work on my wall and I could not return it.   My next door neighbor gives us food from her garden and even gave us the corn seedlings that grew into the corn (that sucked).   This is just how it is here.

Last weekend, I received a care-package of bulbs for flowers that needed to be planted this month.  I was told how deep they were to go, and I picked out the flowers that I liked.  I’m really not a flower kind of person, but I thought they would actually look pretty good along the front hill of my property.  Plus, that would be a great spot for the neighbor who gave them to me to enjoy them herself.

So, I spent at LEAST 2 hours busy on Saturday morning figuring out where to plant them, pulling the mulch back, planting, sweating, planting, sweating, planting, sweating, roasting in the sun, planting, watering.    I must say that I felt pretty accomplished afterwards.

Later that day, the kids came over and the neighbors got together and all the kids playing in the street, riding bikes, kicking balls, etc.   I got to talking to the husband of the woman who gave me the bulbs.  I thanked him and told him I spent all day planting them, very proud of myself.

I asked him “so how long will it take for them to grow?”.  I was looking forward to seeing sprouts of green from my labor.   I was looking forward to having a front hill that looked GORGEOUS.   His reply shocked me.  Stunned me.  I think I almost shed a tear.  “Spring“.    Are you F*^(*&^ing kidding me??!??!??!?!?!?  SPRING?????!   HOW AM I GOING TO EVER BE ABLE TO WAIT THAT LONG FOR SPRING?   WHO PLANTS THINGS SO FAR IN ADVANCE ANYWAY?   DON’T YOU FORGET THAT THE STUFF IS THERE????????!

I really was not anticipating this answer.  I thought maybe 3 – 6 weeks.   Certainly not 6 months.   OMG.    UGGGGH!

I couldn’t help but see the parallels in being a working mother:

  • set expectations accordingly with your kids/coworkers.  This might stop a tantrum/conflict before it happens
  • don’t expect so much
  • don’t assume that your own expectations are the same as the other person’s (I need to see quick results, and cannot understand how anyone can enjoy bulbs that sprout six months later…)
  • have patience.   breathe in, breathe out.   Repeat.  breathe in, breathe out
  • Laugh it off; see the humor; laugh at yourself
  • still be thankful for what you receive
  • growing and nurturing take time; the seeds that you plant now (lessons with your children) may take time to manifest in their personalities.  Keep nurturing, teaching, believing even if it takes time to see the impact on the kids

Have any of you had experiences similar to this?  What other learnings can be observed from this or other situations you have encountered?

Thanks for listening; have a great week everyone

– Mama K

Staying Sane: More new friends


Saturday is a day that I get to wake up late and enjoy a day getting things done while I wait for the kids. They are with co-parent until I see them at 4 PM.  This Saturday AM I spent my time cleaning up my front yard and planting about 50 bulbs for the Spring – but that is a story for another time.

During this planting, I had the opportunity to meet some kids who were walking their dog Hershey. They usually don’t walk this way in front of my house, but they were on this day because their dog is new to their family. Rescued from a dog pound 2 days before he was about to be put to “rest”.

I learned that they were the neighbors at the end of the street whom I did not yet meet. Two boys, ages 11, 7, and a girl, age 6. I had fun with Hershey and talking with them. I guess I don’t mind talking to kids when I am solo since it is in my nature now to talk to kids since I have so many. Anyway, they asked about my kids and they asked why they weren’t around until 4 PM. I explained that they were with their Dad and that they have “two houses” and that they spend time with me, and they spend time with their dad. How they have two rooms, two sets of books, two sets of toys, etc. (my normal explanation about the separation).   Usually this story works out well since I end with “two sets of toys”. But this was the first time I was talking with a sort-of older kid – and that’s when the 11-year old told his siblings “yeah she’s talking about Divorce. When things don’t work out.”…..

Anyway, I told them that the kids would be at my house at 4 PM and ready to ride bikes. So for them to come back. They walked off with their dog and I continued with my yard.

*****

At 4:02, the new kids came back, with their bikes. They were waiting to meet my kids. The van pulled up. My kids came out and met the “new kids” (it’s so ironic since the “new kids” have actually lived on that block all of their lives, and WE are the family of the “new kids”). Big Bro got out immediately and started riding. Red was a little bit apprehensive, since these were older kids, who ride fast. Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were anxious to get their bikes and get going!  Twin Husky helped me put out the traffic cones in the street. The kids next door were calling out through the window that they were coming out too. The kids across the street were getting their bikes out and helmets on. The boys up the hill were coming down with their bikes with their mom who had a margarita in a cup. And then the 6-year old twins from way up the hill were seen to be coming down with their bikes and their shark and fish helmets. The fun began…

Kids on bikes. Kids running from house to house. Kids on the tree swing next door in the front yard.  Big Bro coming out with some balls to kick in the street. Big Bro wanting a snack so I went in and got Ritz Crackers and asked him to bring out the entire box for everyone to share. I asked him to ask everyone if they wanted any… and he did – such a good host and such a “giver”. The neighbors congregated on my stoop. Some had never met since there are new folks here. I met the parents from the corner house. Some disappeared and came back with bottles of wine. Boys were running from house to house. Red just wanted to be an acrobat on me. Twins were riding bikes. Big Bro hit it off with the “new kid” who is 7.   Everyone looking out for cars and having the kids pull over when one would drive by, very slowly, just looking at all of the people/kids in the street and maneuvering through the “kids at play” signs and my traffic cones with flags.

As far as we know, we have 21 children ages 11 and under on this block.  And we had 19 of them out this past Saturday night with their parents congregated on the stoop of my house.  The only ones that I have not yet met are a family with 2-year old twins (more twins!!) who are hosting a Halloween party for everyone on Halloween night.

All kids were going non-stop – and then the sun started to go down and families started to separate. I wound up with some stragglers at my place as I cooked dinner. I didn’t mind.

20121021-200421.jpg

20121021-200428.jpg

*****

The next day, Sunday, Big Bro went over to “the new kids'” house to play wall-ball. And then after lunch I had 4 extra neighborhood kids in my house along with the dog, Hershey. In the late afternoon, I took my kids back to co-parent’s house. And then when I was alone, there was a knock on the door and it was the “new” kids again, boy aged 7 and girl aged 6, and Hershey. Again it was hard for them I guess to understand that even though I was there, my kids were not. They are only at this house some of the time. But now at least they know that we live in this house and that the four kids are here every Saturday starting at 4 PM.

20121021-200440.jpg

****

I love how Big Bro just hit it off with these new kids – especially how in the past he was so shy. I love how welcoming in general children are. I love how they see fun in each other and how quickly the activities can change when so many kids are getting together. I remember nights like this as a kid. I am happy that I can give these experiences with my kids now and that we, together, get a chance to explore these new beginnings together.

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Home security botched my shower


I have so many ideas that I want to write about for “Staying Sane” for working mothers. Ideas are flooding me at completely random times. And with these thoughts, I can’t help but draw a connection to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I wrote about the Hierarchy of Needs and the implications to working mothers more than one year ago — see post here. It is amazing to me the difference of where I was emotionally and with my life between then and now… but the Hierarchy of Needs still applies to me now – even though my situation has changed so much. I can’t help but think that as I continuously evolve and grow as a person, as a mother, and now as a Head of Household where I must work to not only contribute for my family but also survive… that this Hierarchy of Needs will still apply to me with the different roles that I play. I can’t help but wonder how the levels and extent of my happiness will be correlated with this… this is a topic that I will continue to explore in the future.

****

Anyway, one of the needs closer to the foundation is in this model is Safety. “Security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property.”

When I first moved into my new house, my very FIRST house, as a newly separated mother of four young children, Safety was top on my mind. Safety of the neighborhood, safety of the structure of the house that I just purchased, keeping my family IN and potential trouble OUT. Of course there were other issues of safety as well (e.g., resources, health, etc.) but I want to focus on this house. Of this new home. Of being on my own again after 10 years but now also being solely responsible for the health and safety of four little ones when they were in my care. A house and a home was important to me. But I also wanted to make sure that I was doing everything in my power to keep this new home SAFE for me and my children.

So I caved into the many “new neighbor” flyers and advertisements that were sent to me and a bought a home security system. This does not come without a cost. Installation and set up was expensive. The monthly service fee is expensive for me since my resources are now so strained. But for me, the cost is worth the added piece of mind.

20121013-160036.jpg

20121013-160042.jpg

 

So far the system has worked quite well.  It not only helps me to feel secure, but the kids as well.   When they used to get “scared” at night from the “kitty cats” and the “alligators”, I was able to show them how I lock the doors and set the security alarm.   They watched me intently.  And then we would go back to their rooms and talk about being scared and how they were in fact very safe in this house.   Talking to them helped to make it easier.

Another benefit is the “chime” whenever the front door or back door is opened, even when the alarm is not activated.  This helps me to control my kids.   I know precisely if one of these little explorers is leaving the house.   Very handy indeed.

Regardless of this, I do feel very safe in the neighborhood and I often keep my car unlocked.  And even my doors unlocked during the day.  Today was no different…

*****

I was looking for my wallet (yes, I am forgetful and misplace things easily) and decided to look in my messy minivan.   I started to gather lots of things that needed to be taken out so that I could clean it up a bit (yes, I am messy and the minivan looks like a disaster).   I didn’t realize it but I hit the emergency button on the alarm key fob.   I thought I heard something, but wasn’t sure since I was in the car.    When I got out I realized it was the home alarm and quickly entered my password.  I did not receive a call-back so I thought I was within the normal amount of time that would not trigger a call to the police.  I was wrong.

After cleaning out the car I decided to take a shower since I felt grimy.    It is not often that I am able to enjoy a shower – particularly with four young kids.   So when I get the “alone” time, I relish in the long, hot showers that are uninterrupted.    That is when I heard a loud, deep, male voice.    And almost shit myself while I was in my own shower.   I turned off the water, in shock.   I screamed – who is this?  Who is there??!??!??!?!??!?!??!?!?!??!?!      Wondering what I had to arm myself – which was not much.   Maybe some tweezers or a toe-nail clipper.   Or some high-heeled shoes.    Again, the loud, deep voice.

“SHERIFF!!   ARE YOU OK???!!!?”

I jumped out of the shower and threw on my robe as fast as I could and there were these two huge guys in uniform and guns in my bedroom asking me if I live here (yes) and if I’m OK (yes) and if I was an intruder who decided to take a shower in the owner’s house (ha, not funny assholes, I almost shit myself in my shower just now).   Sure I fantasize about a husky man waiting for me on the other side of my shower, but two guys is a bit much, and certainly two guys from the police department under these circumstances was NOT what I had in mind.

So as these guys left my house, I was still saying to myself “oh shit, oh shit” and thankful for this security system.   And yes, there were neighbors on the street who were outside wondering if anything indeed was wrong at the single-mother of four kids’ house on their block.   I am thankful for their concern.

20121013-160048.jpg
So, now that the security system has been successfully “tested”, I can rest easier tonight and in the future.   And I think I’ll talk to the kids about it too, if I can figure out a way to do so that does not tempt them to “call” the police officers over to our house again on their own.

Hope you are having a great weekend everyone –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Offload a child!


It’s the end of a busy weekend with the neighborhood kids.  On Saturday night, we had our normal crew of 10 kiddos in the street with their bikes, and then we had the fun of welcoming a new family to the street – so make that 12!   The kids had a blast.  I had cones with flags in the street and everyone was cruising along looking out for cars.   Then, Big Bro decided to bring out various paddles and balls and then all kids were in my front yard trying to see how many times they could hit their own ball up in the air.  I absolutely loved it.  I’ve always been an entertainer… I love having people around and intermingling.  And I think it is so cute to see Big Bro following quietly in these footsteps… bringing out pitchers of water and cups for the kids, paddles, a wheel-barrel of balls… too cute.

Image
Then Sunday.  The kids know to wait until 10 AM until they knock on any doors.  But Big Bro was anxious.  He took a tricycle in the front lawn and stood on top of it announcing, “Do any kids want to come out and play?!?!?!??!?”.  Way too cute.

It was going to be hot out today.  So I decided it would be a slip-n-slide and blow up pool day.   I asked Big Bro and Red to go to each of the neighbors’ houses and invite them over for 11 AM if they wanted to play.   Everyone were takers except for the new kids on the street…. their family was way too busy unpacking.   But somehow I lost Big Bro in the mix.   He absolutely hit it off with the new kid – almost his age.

The new kid had Ninjago Legos.   Something that Big Bro does not.  So any new toy is a fantastic toy to a six year old.   When I went over there with the Twins to fetch Red and Big Bro, he did not want to leave.  And surprisingly, the new family did not want him to leave either.   He was quiet entertainment for their eldest.  Their quiet play gave their child something to do while each of the parents got productive at unpacking and sorting out their lives.   I exchanged phone numbers and we texted throughout the day.  Big Bro wound up staying there a whooping 5 hours and even having lunch there.    They assured me he was no problem and actually was great for their son.

Image

Meanwhile, I had the rest of the neighborhood kids along with some parents to enjoy the warm weather and laugh like kids.

Image

Image

I am happy there is another family in town, another two kids to join our community, and a connection formed between my sometimes-shy son and other kid who seems to be wonderful, at least at this point.

Have a great week everybody –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Take it in and celebrate the Now


How many times have you heard, “Enjoy it, it goes by so fast.”.   And at the time, it is usually when one of the kids is acting up, or maybe if you’re lucky, the kids are acting like angels and you have a quick chance to catch your breath.    With four kids over 6+ years, I’ve heard this more than I would like to admit.   And yes, I get it.   Of course the years go by fast.   I can see it in my skin, my body, my hands.   The way I get tired so easily.    The way I’m starting to forget simple, insignificant things like the names of bands or actresses/actors.  Yes, the years are going by quickly.   We can see it in ourselves and the way we, ourselves, are changing as people.

And it is even more extreme with children.  Yes, we know time is going by fast.  These little people are pushing that fact in our faces every single day.

*****

How is this supposed to make you feel better you ask?  How is this supposed to make you feel more at ease?  Doesn’t this kind of create an anxiety?

Not if you choose to look at it from another angle.   Time does not have to go by so quickly.   Instead of grasping at the past and the now, you can choose to let it unfold and celebrate the people your children are becoming.   Time will come and go, but enjoying the Now and celebrating the Now with them, at least for me, has become an amazing way to feel connected to them and proud and excited for what may lie ahead.

*****

My little girl was born over four years ago and she was a bald baby but had enough hair for me to know that she would be a red-head.   She was my first girl.  Her squeaks as a baby were different than those of her older brother.  She was softer.  She smelled sweeter.  She would point to her crib when I would sing to her at night to let me know that she was ready to go to sleep.   She started laughing early… and most of the time it was while looking up at her big brother, who was trying desperately to interact and play with this little baby.

She grew into her red hair quickly.   ..scaling fire escapes before she could even walk…  throwing her body over the bathtub wall fully clothed so she could jump in with her brother.   Growing into her laugh.  Growing into her excitement and her personality and her body.   Feeling thrilled by standing by herself.    And taking those first steps.

And now my little girl is over four years old.   And she still looks up to her big brother.  He teaches her to push herself, and her red hair, feisty personality fuels this desire.   She is so fragile yet so strong, at the same time.  She is caring, intuitive, empathetic, silly, and so so energetic.   She is an artist.   She feels deeply.   And she laughs loudly.   And she takes risks.   And now she rides a bike by herself…. years before her brother did.  This does not surprise me.   The glow in her eyes and the smile across her face is too good to be true.   She is my Red.

*****

So yes, time does go by quickly.   We hear it from everyone and of course this is something we already know.   We do not need to be told this simple truth.  We see it daily through our children.

I choose to spend the Now with the kids and celebrate with them.  Laugh with them.   And of course cry with them.  With the new skills our children learn come the scraped knees, the fear of the dark, the frustration of learning something different.   But it is FEELING this with them that is so, so good.   Such passion.  And how they grow, and how they learn, and how wonderful it is to be a part of it and to see it unfolding right before your eyes.

I choose to not fear that time will go by fast.  I choose not to let the craziness of four kids and work get the best of me, and what I believe are the best years of my life.   I choose to stop and feel the Now with the kids and appreciate the time that I have with them and make as much time as I can with them.   Knowing that I’m doing this makes me happier and excited for what is left to come.

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

 

 

Staying Sane: CHEAP creative arts


This past week I was thrilled/astonished/surprised/amazed to find a blow out sale happening at the daycare center where we take Red and now Twin Crazy and Twin Husky.  They are completely renovating the space, and they are going “room by room”, ridding themselves of old, battered toys by selling them at HUGE discounts to the parents.

I couldn’t stop myself all of this week.  If I would have been faster and earlier, I would have wound up with so much more… but alas…

Anyway, I’ve always been a big fan of creative arts activities for the kids.   I’ve done this ever since Big Bro was a baby.   There comes a point where kids just get bored and cranky and they need something to do.   The kids would walk around saying “activity”, “activity”, and I knew I had to grab something to occupy them for 30 minutes or so.  I’ve had bins and bins of all kinds of things for kids – mostly generated from ideas I’ve stolen from daycare centers.

Some ideas:

  • playdough, or even make playdough with the kids to save money and have a different kind of fun
  • stickers (I grab these whenever I see them on sale.  I even save return labels given to you from charitable organizations)
  • water color, finger paint, sponge paints
  • scissor fun, cutting, cutting out shapes or pictures in old magazines
  • planting seeds
  • puzzles
  • blocks
  • stamp sets
  • tattoos
  • glue sticks, glitter, confetti
  • painting t-shirts with fabric paints

But now I also have deep discount toys (e.g., $2 a bin!!!) to add to!!!!  This week I purchased:

  • bingo with “sight words” ($2)
  • pattern wooden puzzle — all of the shapes are the same and fit together, but the designs are different ($2)
  • Lego-like set ($2)
  • plastic shape sticky velcro thingie set ($2)
  • Plastic connector thingies to build ($2)
  • wooden jenga-looking like thingies ($2)
  • 1 felt board ($2).  I’m planning on using this as a big activity for the kids.   Cutting out shapes and objects from colored felt and letting them use their imaginations with the shapes and designs on the felt board

And there will be much more over the next several weeks….  🙂    Yes, the stuff is battered.  Yes, some of the pieces look like they have been chewed on or are missing parts.   But they are new to these kids.   And they are good toys to help them learn how to put things together, create something from nothing, work together, and yes…. negotiate with each other for the right pieces.
I guess the point is that these kinds of things are great for kids and parents alike.  You can sit down with your child and play, or take a break and watch them play with each other, or watch them parallel play.   It’s all good.   I spent time doing a bit of all three this weekend.

  • When the kids arrived for their visit last night, I had some of these new activities set out for them and away they went… immersed.   I played with Big Bro with “sight word” bingo while Twin Crazy and Twin Husky built things and played with puzzles.

  • This morning all of the kids were fully entertained by themselves.  They were building “roads” with the pattern puzzle and cars with the blocks and using other toy cars.   Big Bro was directing the play, of course.  But they were all playing together and there were lots of sounds of pretend cars zooming around the house.  And I got to sleep in a bit and hear them play from outside of my room.

  • And this afternoon, I do not kid you, I had the neighborhood kids over and I’m not kidding, but including mine there were 10 kids here.  All playing EXTREMELY well and using their imaginations and playing together.  And the little ones were learning from the big ones.   And as the kids played I cleaned up the kitchen and did laundry, just watching and laughing at their fun.

It was actually relaxing.  Yes, relaxing.  10 kids.   Believe it or not.   AND CHEAP.

So I guess the recommendations are to 1) buy in bulk when you see things on sale; 2) keep stuff stored away for those times when you need to pull out something new to entertain the kids, either on their own or with you; 3) take advantage of hand-me-downs — a different toy is a new toy to your child, whether it is opened from a new box or taken out of a recycled bag; and 4) take advantage of the daycare blow out renovation sales, when you are lucky enough to stumble upon them….  🙂

Where do you ladies find good deals on creative stuff for the kids to do?  

Have a great weekend everyone.

– Mama K

%d bloggers like this: