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

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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

Staying Sane: Reviving dead bananas


Let me pass on a trick that has saved me on many a hot afternoon… on many an after-dinner meltdown… on many times when the kids are bored, hungry, or all of the above.

Frozen bananas.

If your house is like mine, you buy bananas with the intension of eating them before they turn into black, wilting, melting messes on the countertop.  But ultimately, at least one winds up that way.   Yes, you have probably heard of making banana bread, or muffins, or something of the sort.

I am not much of a baker.   And I sometimes do not have patience to deal with the rotten mess and turn it into a Martha Stewart recipe.   But, I do have time to chuck the damn things into the freezer for a later day.

And then… when the kids are hot… when they are cranky and need a snack… or when you are thinking of an after-dinner healthy treat…. TAKE OUT THOSE BANANAS and make a smoothie out of them, OJ (or water, or milk) and any other fruit you are thinking.  Sometimes I add ice.  Sometimes I add other frozen fruit.   Simply delicious.

The best way I think is to peel the bananas first and then just put them in a ziplock bag for your freezer.  I’ve tried freezing them with skins (too difficult to peel when they are frozen) and also cutting them up before putting them in the bag (winds up with a big mashable frozen mess).

This weekend we had two kinds of smoothies:

  • frozen banana, ice, fresh strawberries, some water
  • “banana ice cream”:   frozen bananas, milk, ice — make thick so it has the consistency of soft-serve

And let me tell you.  What a hit.   And it was quiet in my house for at least 10 minutes while the kids enjoyed their black, wilting, smashable bananas in disguise.

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Neighbors as support and friends


No one knows the pains of a juggling, working mom like another working, juggling mom.   And it is a bonus when you have some of these closeby and in your neighborhood.

I left a neighbor and friend in my old neighborhood, with believe it or not… FOUR kids and two of them twins.   Yes, we had quite a bit in common.  And yes, we relied on each other for support or even to decompress with each other as eight kids ran amuck.

I lucked out like you would not believe in my new neighborhood.  I have a CPA mom right next door – with two great kids.  “L” is a girl aged 8; and “Q” is a boy aged 6.   Big Bro and Q hit it off immediately when they met each other and played wall ball within the first 5 minutes of meeting.  That really broke the ice quickly.   Although “L” is a bit older, she is amazing.  She is like a little mothers helper… she is a “child whisperer” and is SOOOOOOOO good with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky.   She is a natural.

And within the neighborhood are 3 other families with children in ages aligned well with my family.  I was surprised at the beginning of summer when all of them came over with cake to welcome me to the neighborhood.   I am lucky to have one of these neighbors as a General Contractor and he helped me out with my hot water heater, fence recommendations, and most recently…. fixing my lawn sprinkler system.   Last weekend another neighbor took my girls “shopping” in her daughter’s room for hand-me-down clothes.  Each of the girls had their bag and even now Red wants to wear only the “new” clothes.  We go to the local swim club as guests with these families.   The other next door neighbor (with all of the chickens) feeds my kids fresh tomatoes and blueberries straight off of her garden’s vines.   We have impromptu playmates with blow up pools in the yards and snack-time with 7+ kids.  We watched fourth of July fireworks from our front lawn as the GC neighbor lit fireworks in the street.  The kids make and sell lemonade with one another.  We get invited to last-minute birthday parties and dinner parties – unlike the “super planned in advance” events that I am used to.   The neighbors around here look out for each other and it is soooooo relaxed over here.

Just this past weekend, “Q” was home with his folks at a grown up dinner party without any friends.  So he came over to our house to play and also watch a Frosty the Snowman movie.   Today, Big Bro only wanted to play with Q.   But the rest of the kids wanted to go to the Wildlife Museum in town.   So I dropped off Big Bro at Q’s house for 2 hours while the rest of us went to the museum.   My CPA neighbor had to do some tax returns so “Q” was back over with the kids — who love playing with him — doing Legos and playing outside.

I really like the feel of this; the kids come and go.   I watch them as they walk down the street holding hands to a neighbor’s house.   It feels good for me to see them want to belong to this community… and they are flourishing here.   And the events and interactions just happen so naturally.  No planning.  It just unfolds.   And I love how everything is just unfolding for me here.  This is just the beginning.

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Complete a project


We know that stress is not good for you – emotionally, psychologically, and also physically.   And as working mothers we know stress.  Juggling all of our roles and responsibilities.  It’s a lot.   I’m not sure where I’ve read it or heard it, but I was surprised when I learned that it are the “silent stressors” that actually cause the most damage.  It are those things that you’ve “been meaning to do” but have not gotten around to it yet – that weigh you down and it is THIS stress that accumulates and causes you damage.

Just think of those things on your “to-do” list.   The things that you know you need to get to, but for some reason do not.   But you keep thinking of them.  And it weighs on you.  And you know in the back of your mind you have these unfinished tasks that need to get done.  It’s difficult to let go.

I’m trying to teach my children the importance of finishing what they start.  Go full circle.  Finish the puzzle, finish the story, you get it.  Perseverance and also focus.

The feeling of completion is great.  Think back on projects that you have done to completion.  Either yourself or with your kids.   It could be as simple as a photo-book project, the creativity of a fun Halloween costume, or even complex like the birth of a garden… moving to a new home… completing a degree.

Since my move, my office area was sort of the “dumping ground” for boxes in purgatory… and the set up that I originally had (big office table, two big filing cabinets) just was not working AT ALL.   Those that have been reading this know that I recently bought an entire office of furniture at IKEA – a computer workstation (for me), a double desk, 2 single desks, 2 sets of drawers, and 4 stools — read this post.

Well, Friday night after I dropped the kids off at co-parent’s, I decided to go to the Apple store and buy myself a new Apple computer.   I made the purchase in about 15 minutes total.  I then went home and proceeded to build the IKEA office furniture.   Drinking a Guinness, listening to music… until midnight or so.   Then I woke up on Saturday very early and immediately went to work on the same project.  I am an expert now at IKEA furniture assembly.    I was racing to complete the task before the kids were dropped of at my place at 4 PM.   I just made it in time.

And the looks on their faces when they each saw their own desk was priceless.  And there were NO fights over who was going to sit where.  They just gravitated to their own spaces and were so happy.  They pulled open their drawers and I told them that is where they can put their stuff.  Crayons, markers, paper, art, whatever they would like.   And Big Bro was so excited about doing his homework at his desk.  They loved it and spent time doing art projects in the room over the weekend.

And for me, the room is about 75% complete – I still want to get some things for their spaces.  I still need to hang curtains.  And also get the rest of the old stuff out.  But I’m almost there.  And the biggest part for me was completing the heavy lifting and transforming this room from what it was to what it is now.    A place where we can be together and “work” and create.  A place where a child can go and have their own space.   A place where we can be together.

What kinds of projects do you do that make you feel accomplished?

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Pamper yourself


This post will be QUICK since its from my phone, it is very late, and I’m just exhausted from a crazy couple of weeks

Anyway, I always find that a good home-spa treatment is a great way to decompress and feel more like yourself. Think mud mask, lotions, painting nails. A good haircut also helps since we are on the topic of personal care.

And yes, my kids got manicures today and some mommy-haircuts. They will look fabulous tomorrow, even twin husky who wanted his nails “blue”, his favorite color.

Great week all –
– mama k

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Staying Sane: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA IN MOTION


OMG I can’t believe it.   I JUST realized right now that Mama in Motion is 1 year old today!!!    July 15…..

I can’t believe it.   I knew it was sometime this month but did not realize it was TODAY!!!

I’m going to have to do some celebrating.  Not sure how.   So much as happened this last year and I actually feel so grateful for having this as a channel for me to help express how I’m feeling but hopefully this has also helped other working mothers out there along the way….

This is actually a bit bittersweet since this past year (and months before that) have been so difficult for me.  It’s painful for me to read prior posts of when I was trying to keep my head above water and in the midst of depression.  And seeing the kids so little and not realizing at that time that we would now have split homes and their lives forever changed.

But on a happier note, I am so happy that I’ve kept this project going.  And I do get a thrill each time I receive a comment.  Especially from someone brand-new who is introducing themselves to the group.   We are a diverse and STRONG set of women.

 

I’m looking forward to celebrating this milestone and continuing this journey with all of you.

 

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Drink your water!!


“Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.” Slovakian proverb

source: http://www.Quotegarden.com

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The human body has some basic needs. Sleep, food, air, water. I wrote about the Hierarchy of Needs and the implications to working mothers last year. Some are basic and some are complex. To be the best you can be to yourself and your family you need to take care of yourself. I decided to focus on one of these basic needs now since it was hot today. The need for water.

The body consists of 65% – 70% water to perform some pretty critical functions. Transporting nutrients and removing toxins to name the most obvious. The Importance of Water and Your Health does a great job of outlining the importance of water to your body, and the impact of dehydration (problems with short term memory, fatigue, others).

If you are anything like me, when you were pregnant or breastfeeding you were accutely aware of the need for water and diligent about getting enough to keep yourself and your baby healthy. But maybe since then you’re not as diligent? But we should be! Since all of you working mamas have busy schedules, and little ones to look after, you need to be on your best game. And you should teach the importance of water to your kids so that they stay hydrated (especially in the summer as they are busy running and exercising their bodies in the warmer weather).

Here’s a tool that I thought was reasonably simple to use to figure out what your body needs: Water Calculator

The best sign that you are not getting enough is the color of your urine. Clear/light yellow is perfect. Dark yellow is not so good. Once my kids started using the potty this is one of the things that we would talk about. If he/she was doing a good job drinking enough water. I fist-pump and high-five when their pee-pee comes out clear. If not, we go and get some water for them to drink. “Be good to your body”, “treat your body with respect”, “you only get one body, make sure you take care of it” are common phrases that I use with the kids.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer and keeping hydrated! Happy drinking all!

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Reuniting with friends


“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”   Albert Camus 

You can laugh with your friends in good times, and you can support each other in not-so-good times.   Sometimes you lose touch over the years and then they re-enter your life again without skipping a beat.   Reuniting with old friends is wonderful.  Knowing that your friends are there for you in tough times is priceless.   For working mothers, friendships with others helps to balance your life and you may be drawn into new friendships simply because you have so much in common with these working women.  It’s good to know that the person “gets it”.   It’s also good to reach out to friends when you need help.

Through the last year I’ve had different kinds of interactions with friends; this last year has been brutal for me.  I’ve gained new friends, reconnected with many old friends, and yes lost some friends along the way.   Now that I have more time on my hands I’ve wanted to open myself to my friends but so much is so difficult.  I’m reaching out but having discussions is tiring for me; reliving experiences sometimes too exhausing to explain.  So I have this time available to me, but I’ve also been retreating a bit.   Healing.   It’s kind of a dance with me.  I connect, then retreat.  Connect, then retreat.  But I know my friends are still there.

I reached out to some old college friends tonight after I dropped off the kids at co-parent’s, and caught up with their lives.  Everyone has their own issues.  I was reminded tonight that it is best to be happy with where you are at the moment; just take it in for all that its worth.   Thank you Lisa!   And this coming week, I have a lunch date with a friend who has honestly been my lifesaver this past year and more.

However I also retreated from some friends this weekend.   A birthday party for a friend’s son – the kids went with co-parent and I just couldn’t muster the energy to go.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to see couples who are starting families – it makes me think of myself at those stages – so hopeful.   Sorry Romina for missing this – I know it meant a lot to you.  Honestly the kids HAD A BLAST and I heard all about the pony and petting zoo.  The Dora pinata is proudly displayed in the “girls room”.

I also canceled on old friends from my NYC days – for good reason, I believe.   I was to meet them with all of the kids at her house but start early since I would have to leave early.  But my heart wasn’t in it.  The kids woke up with me this morning and they were having so much fun with each other and the chickens and just playing and being.   I was doing lots of laundry and the kids were keeping busy on their own.  And then it was 10 AM.  The time when I say that it’s appropriate to go to the next door neighbor’s house to see if they want to play.  The family next door was on vacation the past two weeks and the kids had not seen them during that time.  When the neighborhood kids came over, that is when the magic started.   Laughter.  Running.  Hugging.  Talking about “Cocoa”.  Playing ball.   Tickling.   And I just stayed back and watched it and laughed.   So, my heart just wasn’t into taking the kids away from their new friends and getting on yet another highway.  Big Bro is the worst now with the highways and he doesn’t want to go anywhere anymore.  I just wanted to stay at home with them and hear them laugh.  And see them run.   And see their happiness for each other since the neighbors are just as excited to see us as new neighbors now.

So I canceled on my friend.  So that the children could have fun and cultivate their own new friendships.  And it didn’t matter a bit to my friend.  I talked to her.  She completely grounded me.  “Of course don’t feel bad – you are doing exactly what you should be doing right now….”

So we stayed.  And the kids laughed.  And played.  And scared the guinea pig.  And ran.  And ate.  And fell down.  And kicked balls.  And hugged.  And giggled.   And made MORE lemonaide and tried to sell it to the neighborhood together (they each made $1.25 for their efforts today).

Two of my closest friends, friends who know EVERYTHING that has been going on in my life over the years, I made at work.   So there is the biggest benefit I suppose for being a working mother.   Being around other women who can relate to you like some people cannot.  They know the challenges, the struggles, the tensions.   And through this you can form the strongest of friendships.

So this is a big “thank you” to my friends.  Some closeby, some far away.   But still there.  And those that continuously reach out to me to check in and see how things are going.   And offer to help where they can.  And to listen if I have the energy to talk about things.  This means a lot to me.   

Hopefully you will agree that a big part of staying sane and staying grounded is keeping those friendships alive; supporting one another; and giving those big hugs to your friends whom you have not seen in a long time.

Have a great week everybody

– Mama K  

 

Staying Sane: Boob tube is back!


I don’t usually watch a lot of T.V. There’s just too much going on. But there have been some shows that I will admit I’ve been addicted to. True Blood. The Vampire Diaries. American Idol. HGTV. Hells Kitchen.

It’s an out. It goes on after the kids go to bed. Its a source of distraction.

And I’ve been without it for so long!!!

But over the weekend I had The Geek Squad out here to put my TV up and connect all my gear; it is about 75% there (some issues with the remote which they will come back and do) and it is WONDERFUL to be back.

I’ve been watching CNN and feel like a person again.

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What are you watching these days that is worth watching? Fill me in!!!

Have a great week everyone!
– Mama K

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