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

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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

Aug 9 and 10 recap: SAHM in the summer


It has been a busy two days for me so I collapsed into bed each night without a post.  I had the kids and wanted to take advantage of the summer time with them before school starts.   The school year for us will involve many highway trips in early morning rush-hour traffic so I wanted to enjoy this time with them on my days off before the school year begins.

Thursday, August 9:

  • We woke up to chickens.
  • Chocolate Thursday at Mommy’s house!   Red teased a chicken with her chocolate tortilla roll-up

  • We hit the road to get Big Bro’s backpack which we forgot a daycare the day prior.   I took the opportunity for us to introduce Twin Crazy and Twin Husky to their new daycare room when the “school year” starts.   Red showed Twin Crazy the potty (very small!  Very cute!) and they used it.   Red helped her wash her hands and showed her where the soap was and the paper towels and trash can.   Big Bro showed Twin Husky the kitchen set (Twin Husky loves playing kitchen) and they all experimented with the couches and the books.   They were having a great time.  We showed them the cubbies for their “stuff” as well as the hooks for their jackets.  Both indicated that they would like to come here for the day and play and learn.

  • From here, I was spontaneous and decided to take them on a train ride.  We talk about the trains all the time when we are commuting on the highway.  I talk about how I take that train to work and how it goes into the city to my office.   They have been asking about going on a train ride and going to my new office.  Big Bro and Red did not have the opportunity to see my new office and they wanted to see it.  So I called in advance and then we headed over.  IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!  The kids were great.  We all stayed together.   We parked and remembered the number of the parking space. We paid for parking together and then we went through the turnstile and up the escalator to wait for the train.  On the train we stood up and looked outside and also had some time underground.  They were very brave.  And the older kids looked after the little kids.   I told them how many stops and when to get ready for the next stop.  THey were excellent and followed directions so well.

  • Along the street we had a long 5 blocks to walk, but again, we stuck together, held hands, went slowly.   It was lunchtime and there were lots of people walking about but all were generally good / patient with us.  I got a lot of comments.  I love going places with all of these kids.   I love being able to do things with them in tow.    Especially when they are so good and are able to take in so much.   We talked about the city, the big buildings, how people move fast, how we used to live here, the streets where I used to move the stroller with Big Bro and Red.

  • In the office we were surprised to learn that there was a birthday that day.  So they brought lunch in, and better yet, cupcakes.  That was a huge hit with the kids.   They were extremely talkative with my co-workers and very lively and funny.  Big Bro was showing off his Lego plane.  Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were busy playing/talking/fighting like twins.   Red was quiet, but cute – we talked about her “sibling haircut”.   Twin Husky asked my boss “do you have a penis?”.    He is on the boy/girl thing and yes, they talk about penis and vagina body parts all the time.  My boss (who is kidless and in his 60’s, about to retire), indicated “Yes, I do have a penis.”.  OMG.

  • The kids made it back AOK on the 5 block walk to the train station and on the ride back.

  • When we got home it was dress up time.  I tried to get the Twins down for a nap but it was impossible.

  • We headed next door to see the neighbors and the kittens.  They invited us over to the pool.  We gladly accepted.
  • At the pool the kids were having an amazing time.  My other neighbor showed up at the pool with beers and pizza so we made a night of it.  We met more friends of neighbors and more kids that are Big Bro’s age.  Nice kids.  They hit it off.  I love it here.  I gave big hugs to all when I left.  The folks were great going into the big pool with Big Bro and Red while I kept my eyes on Twin Crazy and Twin Husky.  Big Bro wants me to get the phone number for the new kid he met so he can continue to play with him.  He had a great time with him tonight.

  • We saw deer as the kids were getting ready for bed.  A mother and her baby.  The baby has gotten much bigger since we’ve seen it last.

  • The kids slept well.   (As did I).  It was a full day.

Friday, August 10:

  • We again woke up to chickens.
  • The kids did art activities while I straightened up the house a bit.   I started a lot of laundry.

  • After snack I took the kids to the playground.  A part of the playground where there is sand and a structure with a water pump and spouts and pipes.  The kids had a great time.  Big Bro was in his Batman costume.  Twin Husky was completely immersed in his building, pounding, scraping, water activity.   He was in his own world.  Twin Crazy had fun playing a little more conservatively than her brother.  But she loved the sand and the water.   Red was very apprehensive about the sand at first.  She didn’t like the feeling on her hands.  But once she got into it she loved it.  She was making me sand meatballs.

  • We headed home for lunch and naps.  Again, the Twins refused to nap.
  • We played outside in the blow up pool since it was so hot outside.   They were enjoying it but Big Bro was having a hard time.  He dumped the pool upside down.   I don’t know what his problem was but I sent him inside.  I set up the kids again, and then I went in to get Big Bro.  We sat on the rocking chair together, with him on my lap.  He was cranky at first but we had a conversation.   How I thought his behavior was not that friendly and if there was something wrong.   He wouldn’t answer.   We then just talked.   Talked about school, about how much fun that will be, about math, and science… and he told me he didn’t want to go to aftercare since you can’t bring your toys out.  So I told him that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday there would be no aftercare.  I would pick him up from school and did he like that?   His face smiled.   And on Monday and Tuesday, we were going to see if he could go home with the Motley Crew (friends behind co-parent’s house).   He seemed much better then.  He was ready to play with his siblings again.

  • We played in the pool.   Red asked me to sit in the pool.   The kids were all pouring water on me and I was carrying on enjoying myself with them.  They were laughing.

  • I took the opportunity while Red’s hair was wet to actually try to cut it to even out the sibling haircut.   I think it looks OK.   She doesn’t seem to care.

Before you knew it, it was time to head to co-parent’s.   On the way, we drove by the parking lot where I park for my commute, and also the train station where I go on Mondays and Tuesdays.  The kids wanted to see that.

The kids were in good moods.  They had very active days and I had a lot of time to spend with them collectively and individually.

I went food shopping and bought gas and then headed home – doing these activities helps me to avoid the rush-hour commute traffic on the way back.   I was tired when I got back.  I played with Cocoa a bit.   Did some gardening/watering.   Did some work on my computer with photos.   Then called it a night.

I had an amazing two days with the kids.   I was able to get things done and also spend a lot of time with them.   They are feeling more and more comfortable here and I love it.

July 26 and 27: Stabilizing


This is going out totally late, but I’ve been SUPER busy the past few days but still wanted to share some highlights:

Thursday, July 26:

  • Woke up to the kids each pattering into my room one by one and landing in my bed.  I love this time with them in the AM.   We ate a great breakfast, played with the chicken (she gave Twin Husky a peck/kiss through the screen door), and Red taught me how to dim the lights.  I never knew the lights could do that here.  She figured it out and taught me how she did it.   We got dressed and out the door.
  • There was no traffic and we talked about food shopping for the day and what kind of food we needed from Trader Joe’s.  Drop off for Big Bro and Red was fine; all kids looked at art from their art show.  I told them I would pick them up super-early – after lunch, but before nap.
  • Twin Crazy and Twin Husky and I hit the town and ran some errands in my old neighborhood.  I bought gas, and then we headed to the Main Library, which was new to us.  I needed to work a bit so the kids “read” some books, played, colored… while I sent out numerous emails for work.   This trip was essentially a disaster.  I know we won’t be going back there again.  They were at first very well-behaved.  And then I’m not sure what happened.  Maybe the snack kicked in, but they were running, scrambling on the seats, and causing a huge scene because they were laughing so hard.  All of this happening of course while I was working.   We (me and Librarian) tried to divert their attention to coloring, which lasted for about 5 minutes, but then there were back on the scrambling seats again but this time with crayons in their hands, running around in circles and drawing on the seats.  I gave them a time-out while I frantically cleaned up the crayon from the cushions.   We then fled.
  • Afterwards, we went shopping at Trader Joe’s.   We talked about the list of what we needed.  I am amazed at the memory of these 2 1/2 year olds.  They recited the entire list and even reminded me of some things I missed!    I had fun shopping with them.
  • We then went to pick up Big Bro and Red.  We headed back in no traffic.
  • At home, me and Red did our fingernails.  All kids played with bubbles.   We then took a stroll around the corner from the house where there are wild blackberries; we picked a bunch but poor Twin Husky kept walking on top of the thorned vines and hurting himself.  After a lot of other complaints it was time to go home.
  • Dinner was uneventful – except that I’m getting the kids to load up on fruits and vegetables.   Do you know that you’re supposed to have that be like 50% of your daily intake of food??!??!!?
  • We experimented with the Twins with spitting out toothpaste.  They both know how to spit so we’re graduating to the flouride-kind used by Big Bro and Red.

Friday, July 27:

  • I had to wake up super-early.  I had a court date for child custody and child support.  Therefore, kids had to be up and ready too, and all of them were going to daycare.  The kids put up a fight at first, but after they got started they were actually in great moods when we got into the car.  The ride was not bad; early enough in the summertime so the traffic was manageable.  We talked about fog.
  • Drop offs were all fine.  I hugged the kids a bit harder that morning.
  • Went off to the courthouse and met up with my new lawyer.  This will be the day that I will see what she is made of.   She had great ideas to protect me in certain areas and we showed up very well prepared.  I presented co-parent with several options that would be acceptable for me for child support decisions.  So essentially it was left to him.  We struck an agreement that is reasonable and fair.   My lawyer is great.  I wish I found her sooner.  I burned up too much money with my old lawyer and all he wanted to do was go to court.  What a waste.
  • I picked up the kids immediately afterwards.  We headed back to my house even though I had to drop the kids off at co-parent’s later that night.  I wanted to be with them and relax at my home.
  • It was hot so we did water-play.  It was fun.  I loved it actually.   I honestly needed to sit back, relax, and feel the sun on my body.  I needed to lay down and hear the kids laugh and play.   I needed to sit and not think.   I felt so much better after just 10 minutes being outside in the warm air.
  • Big Bro was a bit of a “teaser” so I sent him inside.  I then noticed that the blankets were torn off of my bed and the girl’s bed and I talked to Big Bro about it.  He claimed it wasn’t him.  I didn’t believe him since the acts would have required muscle.   I left him alone to sulk inside and was hoping he would just tell me the truth that he was mad at me.  But he wouldn’t.  He kept his story straight the whole time.  So then I asked Twin Crazy and Twin Husky, and they admitted it.  They were a pair acting together and ripped the sheets off the bed.  I felt so bad.  I apologized to Big Bro.  I said that he must have felt so frustrated at me, when he was telling me the truth and I was not listening to him.  I felt so bad for the kid.  He did so good though, staying inside and not putting up a fight with me.  I was actually very proud of him.  He told me his side of the story, and then accepted my apology with grace.
  • The ride back was fine.   Friday’s are good since I know I’m going to see them on Saturday afternoon.

Afterwards, I drove back and went to the Apple store.  I bought a new computer.  I went home.  I proceeded to put together the IKEA desk furniture.  I drank one beer and ate 1/2 box of Life cereal.  I worked until midnight.  I fell into my bed, exhausted but strangely at peace.

There are now quite a bit of the divorce process behind us.   We’ve physically separated, the kids now have two homes, I bought a house and have managed to furnish it and put it together as best I can, we battled on child custody, mediated child custody, and had a child custody evaluation for the next school year.   We mediated child support and came to an agreement.  I had one lawyer, and then another (and am much happier now).   Although it would have been nice to have an extra stream of money over to me, I think the arrangement that we came up with is good.  The money is going to childcare.  And we’re now getting the best childcare for the kids.   And I still get to feel like I’m doing this on my own.  I am fiercely independent and the thought of child support paid over to me honestly felt funny.   I don’t think I like that arrangement.   With this, we each are invented to optimize what we can earn to do the best for the kids.   And I get my autonomy.   And independence.  And ability to work the way I need to, so I can be there for the kids and take care of myself in the process.

Have a great weekend everyone

– Mama K

Random Thoughts: How do you commute?


My commute has changed over time.

  • When I first started to work when I was single, I still lived with my dad and I drove to work each day.

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  • When I moved to the NYC metro area, my commute changed based upon the location of my job. When I worked downtown at the World Financial Center, I would mostly walk and then take the subway. On glorious spring and summer days, I would walk to the ferry station and take the ferry across the Hudson with a breathtaking view of the Trade Towers. I remember thinking to myself that my daily commute would never be as spectacular as that. I was right. When I changed jobs mid-town, I would either take the bus or the subway, depending on my mood at the time.
  • When I was working abroad in Frankfurt Germany, I walked exclusively.
  • When I was working abroad in Zurich Switzerland, I took a tram. It was lovely.
  • When back in NYC going to MBA school, I would take one subway and one bus.
  • When I moved to California, I first drove and then sometimes took a bus. Then I moved in with soon-to-be hubby and I walked. Then the kids came and I walked with a stroller, and then a double stroller. When we moved to burbs I was back on a ferry with a fast walk to/from the office.
  • Now I am in the burbs of the burbs. I drive to the train, take the train, and fast-walk to work.

To be honest, I like being on the train again. I like looking out the windows of the world passing by. I like the changes in the neighborhoods and the movement of the people… going places. I like that you have to be on your toes. Aware of your surroundings. It makes me feel alive again. I like the fact that when you get off of the train the fast-walking begins. I feel like a piece of me is back in NYC but at a much slower, nicer pace. It is funny the difference between west coast and east coast subway/train commuting. There is still a smell of urine, only sometimes is there music, but generally all of the time there is patience, and right of way. People line up at the train station which is really not the norm in NYC, unless things have changed over the past 10 years since I’ve been there (I think not).

Which has gotten me to thinking about commutes in general – humor me and participate in these polls:

 

Thanks for participating!
– Mama K

 

June 18 (late): A botched routine


I am writing this actually on Tuesday – last night I sat down after the day was over and wound up passing out on my couch – woke up at midnight and went to bed – so here I am, on public transportation, recapping from yesterday –

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Woke up early; I had the kids with me today; this would be my first commute into the city from my new house and ALSO having to drop off the kids. So I wanted to start the day early.
  • I put on the shower but there was no hot water… no hot water… still no hot water. Hmmm. I investigated the hot water heater outside and the machine was foreign to me. I started to read the directions but most were covered up from the restraining bars to keep it in place. I figured out how to see if the pilotlight was lit. The problem was that the window was at a strange angle. So I used an eyeshadow compact and placed the compact strategically to see the window. Yes, the pilot light was out. OK. I can do this. I followed directions to light the pilot light. Again, and again, and again. Hmmm. This is a problem. I’m not sure if my new washingmachine from yesterday blew out my hot water heater. OK. Let’s move on. I just won’t shower today and will worry about this later.
  • I got ready for work sans shower. Red greeted me in my room with a HUGE smile on her face. Then in walked Twin Crazy, with her hair all over the place and a HUGE hidden smile on her face. I suggested we sit on the couch together, under the fuzzy blanket. We sat there cuddled up. And then Twin Husky walked slowly into the living room, long hair sticking up, smiling as he put his thumb in his mouth with this Tiger. He came up on the couch with us. I had 3 of the kids cuddled up on the couch with me just sitting there holding and cuddling each other. And me with no shower. So much for starting early and getting out early.
  • We said “good morning” to the Chicken who greeted us at our back sliding door.
  • I fed the 3 kids and got them dressed. Big Bro appeared fully dressed by himself and I got him some breakfast. I instructed all to get their shoes on and they were so good getting to the door and getting ready. Also getting all of their stuff together (backpacks, important toys). Red was wearing Twin Husky’s sneakers since co-parent forgot her shoes during drop-off. She was OK with that.
  • We got into the van, I had my coffee, and I also brought some breakfast bars and dry cereal for the kids for the long ride just in case. They were great. We talked about the cars. We saw an Egret and talked about that.
  • I dropped off Twin Crazy and Twin Husky with no problems. I said I would see them on Wednesday. They left AOK and I was AOK too.
  • I then dropped off Big Bro and Red at daycare. It is Big Bro’s first day at “camp” at Red’s daycare. He saw a friend so I am thankful that he at least knows someone. He wanted to drop off Red first. We dropped her off, hung up her bag. Her daycare teachers are so great and know the situation. I said that Daddy would pick her up today and Tuesday, and that I would see her on Wednesday. She had pursed lips like she was holding in a smile or other emotion. Her teacher was great. We also talked about if she ever needs to talk to me there are phones and the teacher said there are phones at school so if she wants to talk to me they can just give me a call. I left and her face was still squinched up but there were no tears.
  • I dropped of Big Bro with his friend, and they were playing dinosaur legos. I gave him a fist-pump (no hugs) and asked him to have fun and that I would see him on Wednesday. He seemed fine.
  • I got into the van, drove to the public transportation. Took the train into work. I was a bit late but that was OK.
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    Highlights of my working day:

  • I changed the date for one of the forums
  • I organized sales tracking info for one of the forums
  • I reviewed output from a recent client project as a takeaway for the primary interviews and potential business development
  • I talked for a long time with a colleague that is leaving the firm. She is such a good friend to me and I will miss her.
  • I left at 4:45 PM to get to a doctor’s appointment. It was a hard session for me. There are things happening with this divorce that seem so out of line. And there is nothing that I can do but just sit back and accept it, and go through the process, which is difficult for me to do.
  • Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I got home and tried to tinker with the pilot light of my water heater. I eventually gave up and went across the street to a neighbor who is a general contractor. He was not there but his wife was. I thanked her again for the birthday party they had for their daughter. We were there all day yesterday and it was great to feel so welcomed and at ease with them and their friends. He was at work but stopped by my house later.
  • We looked at the hot water heater and believe it or not, that little window was burning bright orange! My attempts to light the pilot light actually worked!!! I laughed and he was fine with the inconvenience. I think he is great.
  • I ate some cookies for dinner and drank water. I folded some clothes. I sat on the couch and PASSED OUT. I woke up at midnight and that was the end of my day.
  • So now I’m commuting on Tuesday AM and am actually enjoying myself. This is a nice ride. Very different from a subway in New York City. I had no problem with parking this morning ($1) and I have my frequent-transit card so am feeling like a real commuter. I will be at work earlier than normal today so am feeling good so far.

    Have a great day everyone –
    – Mama K

    Staying Sane: Start your morning the night before


    This is something so obvious and already known to be true by all working mothers out there. So I really don’t know why I’m going to write about this. You already know it. But maybe it is a rule that is so important that it is I guess good to reinforce from time to time.

    Getting out of the door is not easy with kids. Hell, it isn’t easy by yourself sometimes (e.g., where did I leave my keys? I don’t like this outfit… maybe this one…. I didn’t charge up my phone…. ugh). Add kids to the mix, and add a busy commute, multiple drop offs to daycare/school, some crankiness (from you and/or the kids), runny noses, temper tantrums, milk spilt on the floor, lunches, and kids hanging onto your legs… now THAT’s a recipe for disaster.

    It is clear to every working mother that the most obvious thing to do when you are faced with situations that can so quickly go out of control, is control whatever you can in advance to hopefully streamline and make your life easier when you know you will need it.

    In our house, the LAST ferry leaves at 8:30. There are THREE drop-offs for our FOUR children. Not fun. Plain and simple. Actually, it sucks. That’s all there is to it. But, I’ve managed to put some structure in place the night before to make things easier for us in the scramble of the morning… .if you’ve been reading the daily journal here, you already be familiar with much of the routine. The list below is a full list and I certainly do not follow everything at all times…. although I probably should.

  • Sunday nights involve packing the daycare bag for the week. All clothes and socks that Twin Husky and Twin Crazy will need for the week are in there. Diapers, wipes, you name it. The bag is packed and in the hallway waiting by the garage door.
  • Similarly, Red’s linen bag for daycare is also ready to go the night before. It sits right near the daycare bag.
  • Older kids clothes are picked out by them, and placed in piles on their floor so they can get
    dressed themselves in the AM. When they were younger, just having the piles ready for us to change them were good enough.
  • When I was on lunch duty, I also started thinking about the lunch the night before; anything I could do in advance I did (e.g., juices in thermos cups).
  • All jackets and shoes are in their proper place. This has always been hard for us. No matter how hard I try to have the kids take off their shoes and keep them in one place, one child forgets and then the routine is hammered the next morning. This includes jackets. This has really caused beautifully smooth mornings unwind into stressful teary experiences for everyone involved…. all it takes is one damn lost shoe out of eight feet and your timing is totally messed up. So, all shoes and jackets need to be accounted for and immediately accessible. Our new, ingenious system was a suggestion from our child custody mediator. Put hooks up and bins and get the kids trained to use them. I went a step further and put pictures of them and also name tags in big letters. It is working great with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. Twin Crazy really enjoys putting things away and comes back to be with a huge, proud look on her face when she succeeds. Red is accustomed to this at school, as is Big Bro. But he, as usual, is always the one to say “where is my jacket? Where are my shoes??” Uggh. I do believe that we will get there though, eventually.
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  • I also make sure that my own bag is ready…. iPad, phone, wallet, and work computer if I brought it home. Keys are always in one place ready to go.
  • If I am having a big meeting the next day, I think through what I’m going to wear the night before. This is particularly important during PMS. This can REALLY throw you off.
  • I sometimes set the coffee machine on the night before on timer.
  • On good nights, I even think through the next day’s dinner and take out whatever I need from the freezer to defrost overnight.
  • All lunchbags, backpacks, etc. are in places that are easy to find (e.g., backpack by the back door near the garage).
  • When the Twins come downstairs, I make sure they also bring what they will need for daycare that day – Twin Crazy’s lovey blanket and Twin Husky’s “Tiger”. That way I know these items are somewhere on the first floor before we leave.
  • So, that is just a summary of the run-down that you may have read before in some form or another. This is the easiest rule as ANY parent knows when you are trying to leave the house with a child. Make sure that anything that can be organized and put together is done so the night before the morning rush with the child. You learn this very quickly. And I guess managing the diaper bag is the first part of training for any working parent.

    As a working mother, what other things do you take care of the night before to make your commute easier??? Or to make your morning with your kids run smoother and less stressful???

    Sorry for this cop-out of an entry. I know you did not learn anything new. This is Working Mother 101 here. But, maybe we can learn a few more tricks from other mamas out there….

    Thanks for listening –
    – Mama K

    January 5: My daughter sings me to sleep


    I usually have off on Thursdays, but the condition of my new working arrangement was “flexibility”. So, here I am on a ferry headed into the city to participate in a 1/2 internal strategy meeting. The morning was fine, up until the end:

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Twin Crazy, Red, and Twin Husky were busy eating cereal and bananas. They liked talking about the bananas and the little drops of milk that had spilled on the counter, and on their chairs. I said “No problem, we’ll just clean it up. No problem.” Then the parrots begin their sing-song repetition of “No problem, no problem.”
  • Big Bro was slumbering upstairs in his new sheets. It took some work to get him out of there.
  • Twin Husky had a huge milk accident – on counter, seats, and floor.
  • We had a bagel incident with Big Bro – it dropped into the pile of milk on the floor. Ooops. Need to start again.
  • Twin Crazy was acting silly, trying to make me laugh. It worked.
  • Red was perfect this morning. Ate, dressed, even got Twin Crazy ready with her coat. My little helper!!!
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  • We shuffled all kids in the van but we knew it would be tight with drop offs; No one had their shoes on (including myself). I choked down my instant coffee and someone’s leftover banana. Twins were fine; I had to put Big Bro’s shoes on and fly with him to his line in the kindergarten yard; then had to run to van for Red’s drop off. I ran her in there with no shoes on – so ghetto.
  • We raced to ferry parking lot. Very stressful. But all in all I think the kids went great this morning…. there were no real mishaps except for the bagel on the floor in the milk. If anything, the milk should have been picked up earlier. Getting ready in the morning is a string of events that all interlock together – if we mis-step on any one item (kids don’t like their shirt, don’t eat breakfast, etc.) it throws us all off. So I try to organize the clothes that THEY pick the night before. I try to pack the bags and get the stuff we need the night before. All in all I think Big Bro did great this morning. I wouldn’t want to eat a bagel if it fell onto a floor of milk either. The stress arises from THREE drop offs in the morning. On mornings where we divide and conquer, we are less pressed for time. Who ever heard of getting FOUR kids dressed and out the door, two lunches packed, three drop offs, and two parents commuting to work? With no help? Is this crazy? (yes).
  • So now I’m on the ferry thinking about work. I will have to work on a proposal in the AM and then will be tied up the rest of the day with the strategy meeting. I need to start thinking about what I think I group needs to do over the next year – we are such a small team now that we have to be very careful how we spend our time – we need to spend our time profitably (spend the right amount of time on the right client opportunities) and strengthen client relationships. That, I believe, should guide what we do in 2012.

    Highlights of My Working Day:

    I had a good, busy day. It felt good to be around my colleagues — where I feel heard and listened to. I feel “seen” there. My opinion matters and they actively seek it out. I know my role in the group and I am driving business in areas we have not been in. It feels empowering, risky, but fun.

  • I started the morning with a meeting with a Director and analyst about a proposal we will be submitting. I reworked it significantly compared to the version that was previously put together. I came to the table with thoughts on what to do, how to position our experience, and how to differentiate ourself from our known competitors for this piece of work. I made the changes to the proposal that we agreed to and had that complete before our strategy session started. I was going from meeting to meeting, without a break.
  • Immediately afterwards, I got together with our entire team to work on our strategy for the upcoming year. It feels good to participate in these meetings and have my voice heard. I say something, and people listen to me. They notice me. It was a good meeting and I feel good about the upcoming year with me and my role at the firm.
  • Now I’m on the ferry home to the kids. I’m not sure what to do about dinner. I’m thinking about ordering a pizza. I am physically drained. I think partly because I’m a bit sick and have not been getting much sleep. I also have a lot on my mind and am seeking closure but I know the process will take much longer than I would like.

    I just want to rest on my bed.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I ordered a pizza on my way off of the ferry. Pick ups for the kids were great.
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  • Unbelievably, the pizza got to the house just as we were putting away our coats at home. Just in time!!!
  • By the time Hubby got home, we were all fed and playing with Legos on the floor.
  • A series of children’s books arrived that talked about “feelings” — How do I feel when I feel scared? Angry? Scared? How do I feel when I miss you? The girls were really into the books. Twin Crazy immediately fell in love with the “scared” book. Red fell in love with the “miss you” book. Big Bro was curious about the “angry” book, but pretended not to care.
  • I ran around with the kids and chased them and tickled them with Red on my back.
  • Bedtime took a long time. I’m wiped out.
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    I’m typing now while I’ll listen to Red on the “kid monitor”. She’s singing “Santa Clause is coming to town” and messing up the words. They already went through their requests of “I’m scared” and “I want more mommy time” and “I want to come downstairs and give you a hug.”. Too cute. Her singing is making me sleepy.

    I think I’ll sign off now and let my little girl sing me to sleep for a change –
    – Mama K

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


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

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

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

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

    Highlights of My Working Day:

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

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

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

    Dinner and Bedtime:

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

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

    September 28: There’s nothing like a good Guinness


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    It’s fall. There are leaves on the ground. And our family is new to elementary school since Big Bro is 5 and new at Kindergarten. There is something so exhilarating with change. The change of the leaves, the crunch on your feet, the hustle and bustle of families with their children and backpacks getting ready for a new day at a new school. It brings back memories. I am so proud of my son and looking forward to his ever growing independence.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:
    * Red wakes up first, as expected. I sit with her for a while. We like it when I sit on the floor, her in my lap but facing me, cuddled into my body – her arms wrapped around me tight. If I’m wearing a pony-tail she playfully tugs at it or runs her fingers through my hair. We sit in silence as I rock her forward and back. This is our special time. This is her mommy time. And I give it to her every morning.
    * Downstairs, Twins and Red are eating oatmeal. This is fun now for the Twins. They each get their own bowls and spoons and really enjoy eating what their big sister eats. Red eats two whole bowls. The Twins are not far behind. Twin Husky is laughing and having fun – looking into his spoon at his reflection and enjoying himself. Twin Crazy needs some help. She asks for more but she already has stuff in there. She needs help tilting her bowl to scoop up the rest. I teach her this and then she seems happy.
    * Big Bro is having a hard time coming downstairs. He is just so tired in the morning. And this is true of this morning, despite his earlier bedtime. The lack of nap in Kindergarten is killing him. I need to find a way to get this kid to rest more, besides just earlier bedtime; the change in time will help, but it saddens me to think that my kids will be going to bed too early, after not interacting with them during the day. This is something I need to figure out.
    * Diaper changes with the Twins are their “mommy-time”. I REALLY enjoy this time with them. We get to look into each others eyes, I get to play with them and tickle them and talk to them. Twin Husky is busy practicing his new words and I tickle him to encourage it. I love their bellies. I love how Twin Husky is ticklish under his neck, and how Twin Crazy is ticklish in her thighs. As I diaper them, Big Bro is laying down on the floor with me, with his head in my lap. He needs more of me. I hug him intermittently as I diaper the Twins.
    * We are running REALLY late. I help to change Red and Big Bro. We get a bagel ready for Big Bro to eat in the car. I get their vitamins.
    * I can’t find the day bag for daycare; I can’t find Red’s jacket. I can’t find my shoes. I try to make instant coffee. OMG it is past 8 AM we are so late……
    * Hubby takes Red; I take Twins and Big Bro. I basically take the van and HAUL ASS to daycare. I mean, there were screeches from the tires of this minivan. I need to make up time! Twin Husky says “Bye Bye” to Big Bro on the way out. My heart melts.
    * I head to school to drop of Big Bro. While parking I screech on the curb. “Uh oh”…… I look in the rear-view mirror and Big Bro is laughing and so am I.
    * We head to the playground where the kids line up and it just looks so cute with all of these kids and their backpacks. Happy parents. I hug Big Bro and then run to the van so I can make the ferry on time.

    So now I’m on the ferry – it is a pretty day. I will need to lead several meetings today – one to sell membership into one of our new conferences, and one to review all the presentations for our first conference next week. This will be a good day – the logistics and securing speakers is something that has to be done, but it doesn’t really excite me until we actually secure the spot. The content is much more interesting to me and thinking through the implications to the audience – what does it mean for them? I hope I can see the connections today – if not, I’ll have to circle back with the presenters and make sure they draw those connections clearly during their presentation to the group.

    I will have a meeting tonight so Hubby is solo with the kids. These nights are hard for me since I miss out on the children and I get emotionally wiped out. But I need this meeting tonight.

    Highlights of my Working Day:
    I had one “sales” meeting for another forum we are launching. We received good feedback but need to re-evaluate the content for focus. I spent the rest of the day coordinating logistics, working on Agendas, reviewing presentations, and asking for more presentations. I’m looking forward to next week.

    Dinner and Bedtime:
    * Is a beer. I am mentally exhausted. The beer is cold, refreshing, and making me feel better. When I get home, hopefully the kids will be awake but I am not sure about this since they are getting tired earlier, and it is getting darker earlier.
    * Given that, I’ll probably just go to bed when I get home.

    Here’s to Guinness!

    Til tomorrow,
    – Mama K

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