Random Thoughts: Give and Take


Another season of giving is here.  This time of year always strikes me as a bit comical.   So much focused energy on give, give, give that the spirit of giving loses its meaning.    This notion of giving and taking intrigued me today because I was thinking about something to write about.  I was thinking about how these actions are at some level taught – or at least the recognition of these actions are taught at some level.  I’ve long believed that some people are just natural Givers, and some are natural Takers.   But thinking about it more, of course there is a balance between the two.   We give and we take.   I was thinking about this and how I, as a “newer” mom, would like to teach these concepts to my own kids or at least influence how they learn about giving and taking.   What a great time of year to do this… but yet, this time of year is so focused, so concentrated, so frenzied…. The “Giver and Taker” lesson is one that is so much larger – one that spans years, if not a lifetime.  How one gives, how one takes, how these roles change given certain situations and relationships, over time as you grow through experience.

I’ve also been thinking of “give and take” a lot during the breakdown of my marriage and this entire past year of the divorce.   But that is a different discussion and don’t wish to focus on that today.

We teach our children how to be polite when they are in the roles of Takers — “please“, “thank-you“… it starts early and at a very young age.   I guess it is much easier to learn how to take than to give.  As infants, all they do is really take take take, right?   But then as these little beings age we also teach the virtues of sharing and friendship.   We teach the importance of communication – of talking and listening.    To me, happiness is seeing empathy from my kids and seeing the interactions they have with one another.   Seeing the give and take of communication, sharing, problem solving, and yes of course fighting with each other.   Someone may need help – the other sibling is there to offer help.   I guess it is this balance between give and take that I see in my children that really, really, really, intrigues me.   I will want to explore this further at some point….

So, back to my point.  I was originally going to post something that in retrospect seems so trite… I was going to write about and understand how other parents are teaching their kids the virtue of giving during the holiday season.  For example, going to soup kitchens, giving away favorite toys to those in need, shopping for Toys for Tots, etc.    But when I started to really THINK about give and take – and the complexity of roles, and how there is give and take all around you – and the importance of give and take over the course of a lifetime (and NOT just for one month of a year) – my original thought of a posting just seemed so ridiculous.

And then I was looking through the web for images for Give and Take and found an artist that I think is incredible.  Lorenzo Quinn.   Please visit Lorenzo Quinn’s website, particularly his Give and Take III series.    He is a sculptor and his work Give and Take III caught my eye.   It is beautiful.   It is human.    It softened me from my original standpoint of Givers and Takers.   I see that we are all givers and takers.   We are all at some point in a position where we NEED to take – where we need help.   There are lines in these hands.   There are years of living in these hands.   At some point, you become a Taker.   You need to be a Taker and accept the help of the Giver.   The hands are so close.   There is a connection between the two even though they are not physically connected.   This piece is just simply beautiful to me.   I am now a big fan of this artist.   And he did change the way I originally thought about Giving and Taking.   This has softened me and I am thankful for this influence.

“It is vital to find a balance in life. Nature has been trying to teach us that lesson since the beginning of time. All opposites meet in their extremes.

You cannot fully enjoy receiving if you have never given, because you will not recognize the gift you have received if you value only what is difficult to obtain.”

source:   Lorenzo Quinn website

So I think what I would like to do is actually just talk about this picture with the kids.  And talk about the giving and receiving – and how each of us does both of those things every day in our lives.   And give them examples in day to day life (e.g., “you tell me you are hungry, I give you a snack“; “your sister wants to play with your toy, you let her play with it“; “you see your brother needs help to push in his chair, and you push his chair in for him“, etc.).    And I think I will ask them that at this time of year, people enjoy giving things to others and also receiving what others want to give.   And I think that’s all I want to write about right now.    And yes, I probably will still do something like go shopping for Toys for Tots, or a kid polyeana or something, but honestly this concept of Give and Take is so compelling to me that I feel the need to explore further in my own thoughts and in my own relationships with others, and think about how I teach this to the kids.

What are your thoughts on this?   How do you teach your kids the deeper meanings of Give and Take, particularly during this time of year when it is overly-commercialized?

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

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February 20: Ending the 3-day weekend


The end of a 3-day weekend – bittersweet in many ways. Weekends are hard for me these days so 3 days makes it tough to get excited about. Today was a good day though –

  • I woke up early and continued laundry; the kids were up so I grabbed all the sheets for the last load of the week. I love the smell of fabric softener. I find it comforting.
  • All kids were up and sitting across on the couch getting ready for some T.V. Thankfully, Big Bro did not buy any movies. I still can’t believe he knows how to do this now. Then 3 of the kids broke out the funny animal hats and started playing with each other and pretending they were birds, dogs, ducks…. so cute.
  • I made a huge pancake breakfast; got the kids dressed; played a bit.
  • I took Big Bro and Red out for the morning. We just did some shopping – Big Bro needed some shoes and I needed a laundry bag. Both kids were GREAT with these activities. Big Bro originally wanted shoes with pictures on them or ones that lit up, but he’s in a size now for bigger kids and the shoes don’t really have those styles. He picked out a decent pair of black and bright yellow sneakers. He likes them. They both helped me at Bed Bath and Beyond for a laundry bag, and even saved me money since they both picked the cheapest one. I’m watching what I’m spending like a hawk now since I have to. I never thought I would go backwards in my standard of living but now it is inevitable so I’m changing behaviors definitely now.
  • At home, all kids were re-united and Big Bro initiated an activity for them all. He brought out markers and stickers and paper and had everyone on the floor creating art. I loved watching them and thought it was great that Big Bro took the initiative like that and that they were all sharing stickers and helping each other with caps, pulling the stickers off the sheets, etc.
  • Made lunch at home; kids napped in clean sheets.
  • They woke up and I gave them baths and showers. I love the smell and feel of clean kids. I love how they cuddle up to you. I cut 80 fingernails and toenails, my weekly ritual.
  • I made home-made pizza for them for dinner – Trader Joe’s has pre-made doughs that I keep in the freezer. Afterwards we had ice-cream. And watched TV. Big Bro played a Spongebob 2x since I didn’t watch it with him appropriately the first time. He really notices if I am watching it with him. He likes to do things with me and if I am distracted even sitting next to him is not good enough. So I paid attention the second time around, and made sure to comment throughout the show so we were talking about what happened.
  • Bedtime for the Twins tonight. I get Big Bro and Red tomorrow night. This didn’t work out well for Big Bro and Red. They were both crying and clinging to me. Big Bro more so than Red. He is very attached and this forced separation while I am still in the house will be difficult for us. I need to talk to our Child Custody mediator about this. Maybe/hopefully it will get easier for him during the week. Even Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were consoling him tonight after he barged into their room while I was sitting with them reading a book.
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So, the 3-day weekend is over, I survived. We divided and I had good fun with both groups of kids; attended a birthday party, went to the zoo, and did normal day-to-day routine things with the kids.

Red is asking when she will be able to share a room with Twin Crazy – a “girl” room – I reply “someday soon” and cannot wait to be painting a room pink for my little girls. I have to be patient and know that soon that day will come. It will just be tough getting there.

Til tomorrow –

– Mama K

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November 21: A day of pure silliness


I’m feeling very relaxed from the four days with the kids. We had an active and lazy weekend which was nice balance. This will be an out-of-the-ordinary week for work because of Thanksgiving – one where I feel a bit under-the-gun to complete certain things at work.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • We all woke up very early this morning. Big Bro and Red set up their clothes the night before – many of which were “new”. We get a lot of hand-me-downs from other families and I took the time to bring out some of the bigger stuff for both Big Bro and Red. I made a big deal out of their “new clothes” and we looked at everything together as it all came out of the wash. Both kids were pumped. Both kids put piles together of things that they liked and didn’t like (the didn’t likes went back into the bin for the next generation of kids, Twin Crazy and Twin Husky). So, they were completely excited about picking out their outfits for today, laying them out on the floor, and getting dressed by themselves before we even went downstairs. It was great. I made a REALLY big deal out of it.
  • While I was getting ready I heard Twin Husky calling for “Mommy. Mommy.” All of the sudden he was upstairs and said “Hiya” and then there was Twin Crazy right behind him. Then I think Red came in. It is too funny. I love how they seek me out – even though sometimes it is nice for the quiet and my time alone. But then there is always a child, a set of hands reaching out to me, a conversation that must be started, or some tears that need to be attended to. I really can’t complain.
  • The rest of the morning was pretty standard – Twins climbing up on chairs to reach the counter, all kids eating, some fighting over toys, some tears. The only thing that was reasonably funny was when I gagged on my coffee (full mouthful) and tried to keep it in, but found it impossible and wound up spitting all of it all over Big Bro’s drawing. I laughed, told the kids about it, apologized to Big Bro, and they laughed about it. Thank goodness.
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  • We had only TWO drop offs today. We dropped the Twins off without a problem. They had fun looking at a garbage truck and saying goodbye to the garbage truck.
  • Our only other drop off was for Big Bro and Red, together. This is because Big Bro’s public school is CLOSED all week. We had to sign him up for “camp” for two days at Red’s school, Big Bro’s old school. I think he was nervous about a different routine / day, but excited at the same time. THey did great at drop off. I could tell that Big Bro was a bit anxious because of the different teacher and he didn’t know the only other kid there, but he quickly sat down and started playing dominos with them. No tears, no apprehension, no prolonged hugs or grasps at the hands. He’s really doing better at new experiences such as this.
  • I’m on the ferry now into the city, wearing some new courdoroy pants that are too long at the leg. They were on the pile at my new sewing machine [link] but I have not gotten to them yet. It is a short week and it is cold outside and I felt like wearing cords. So I just cuffed them and they look ridiculous. I will try to work on that over the upcoming break. So besides me feeling a bit self consious about the look of my pants, I am thinking about what I have to do today. I have too many meetings scheduled for me to feel like I’m going to get much done for the client deliverable I need to get done this week. I am over-booked for one hour with two different meetings so I need to get that fixed. I’m a bit nervous about getting this first draft of the client deliverable done. I find though that when I feel like this I focus beyond belief and I somehow plow through it. I’m hoping that kicks in for me today that way tomorrow and Wednesday I can scale back a bit.

    Highlights of my Working Day:

  • I started the day with my Admin to help me work through two conference calls that were booked at the same time. She handled it well, thank goodness.
  • I had a conference call for my client project where we interviewed a key market player. The call was EXTREMELY short, but extremely informative. They also pointed us to other sources of information which was helpful.
  • I had a follow up one-on-one phone call with a participant from one of our forums from our last meeting; we received good feedback and ideas for our next meeting.
  • I lead another staff meeting where we talked about what we are working on, the proposals we are working, and if there were any issues we needed to discuss as a team. I think these meetings are going really well and bringing our people together more.
  • Immediately afterward, we had a client conference call and organized a face to face meeting for early December. I think I’ll have my shit together before then — HOPEFULLY.
  • The rest of the day was devoted to my deliverable but somehow I didn’t make any progress on anything. I organized myself for meetings for the next day and did some admin items. It would have been great to get some of the client deliveralbe finished, but again I’m procrastinating for some reason……
  • Now I’m on the ferry home – the sun is still out and I’m looking forward to only two pickups for the kids. I miss them on Mondays. I wonder about their days. I always ask them if 1) they learned anything new today; 2) how did they excercise their bodies today; and 3) what they laughed about during the day…. laughing so hard where their bellies hurt. I mostly just like to catch up with them on Monday nights after being away from them during the day.

    Dinner and Bedtime:
    The kids were acting EXTREMELY silly tonight. There were lots of laughs and interactions between all of them. It was an unusual Monday since Monday’s they are usually cranky. That was not the case tonight. They were lively, adventurous, playful, interactive, and full of giggles… completely egging the others on…

  • While I was cooking our “real” dinner, I quickly warmed up some leftovers from the weekend to get them started on something. I’m not sure exactly what they were doing in there, but there was lots of laughter, and at one point Twin Husky was on top of the table and all of the plates were all over the place. I think there was some food consumed, but it was minimal.
  • At the “real” dinner, all kids ate really well. Carrots are a big hit in our house lately. And everyone for some reason wanted to drink from MY waterglass instead of getting their own water.
  • After dinner Hubby gave the kids cookies and ice-cream; that may explain some of the silliness from tonight.
  • There was puzzle time with Red, tickles with the Twins and Big Bro. Big Bro knows that the secret to get me to STOP tickling him is to say “You’re GREAT mommy!!!. So I started to teach the Twins that to get me to stop tickling them they have to say “I love you Mommy”. They caught on really quickly but after I was winded with tickling laughter.
  • Red I and bumped heads while doing puzzles. We also bumped heads when I got her in her car seat earlier in the evening, and later at night when I was reading her a book. My head hurts now.
  • I repremanded Twin Husky for hitting Red and he did the silliest, cutest thing. He stood there, then blew air through his pursed lips real fast, clapped his hands real wide once or twice, and then threw himself on the floor and started to roll around. This got everyone in hysterics. I started to mimic him and he was cracking up.
  • For bedtime, Big Bro and Red wanted to read to the Twins. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” is a favorite of theirs. Big Bro read the whole book through, but when it came for Red’s turn, the Twins were already bored so it was hard to keep them in the same spot. This again got everyone in hysterics and the kids were basically running all over the place and poor Red was trying real hard to get the kids back to her. The look on her face when the Twins were running away was too cute. It was kindof like, “What are they doing? I’m ready to give up here” kind of look. She is so sweet and she just started giggling with everyone too.
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  • Bedtime for Red and Big Bro was fine. Big Bro started talking about the words he knows how to spell — and then he started to string them into sentences. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted him to show me. The below is his attempt to write “I like my school.”. I am really looking forward to this next stage of his development. You can tell that he’s thinking and trying with his words and really gets into putting the words to paper. I love that about him. His energy at figuring it out.
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  • Another thing that impressed me tonight was when we were reading “No David.” There is a part of the story where David is in a time out and the kid does look sad with a tear going down his face. Big Bro went back to that page and said he gets sad too. I probed and wanted to know if he gets sad when he gets in a time out, or if he meant that he feels sad for David. He said the latter. I breathed a sigh of relief. He explained that looking at the picture, and looking at his face, and the tear on his face, makes David sad and Big Bro gets sad for David when he sees it. Big Bro is VERY tall for his age but he is very gentle. And I am soooooooo thankful and happy that I see so much empathy in him – how he looks out for his siblings and how he also expresses his feelings to books that are meaningful to him. It was a great way for me to end the day with the kids.
  • So, I’m a bit tired today, feeling a bit behind at work, but feeling very satisfied with the kids, their happiness, and personalities. And I truly believe its going to get better from here.

    Til tomorrow,
    – Mama K

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