Staying Sane: Not-so-Small Blessings


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

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

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

It was amazing.

*****

These are the things that I LOVED about this trip:

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

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

*****

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

These are the things that I LOVED about this weekend:

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

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*****

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

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

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

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

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

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Random Thoughts: Forget it! There is no way to stop time


A friend of mine sent me the below article link tonight and wanted me to share with you.  Thank you Mama G!  I agree that this is worth sharing – I believe it will strike a chord in you.   It’s something that we all know, something that we may wish away, and something that we may try in our own way to slow.   But you and I both know that you can’t stop time from passing us by.

Photo source:  inasinglestroke.com

I think of myself – how I try to document the kids’ milestones, how I take pictures endlessly, and how I do hope if I am lucky enough to live to an old age, that I can somehow, some way, remember what it is like now to be a mother to my children.

This post says it well:

http://www.blogher.com/letter-my-51-year-old-self?page=full

In my case I think I’m a bit older than this author 🙂   For me it might be a letter to my 65ish old self.   🙂   But still…. a good read and a good reminder to stop and simply enjoy your kids.

It’s hard as a working mother.  The weekends are not long enough.  And the weeknights are entirely too short.   But take in that time with your kids and leave the dishes aside.   Watch them interact and play.    Try to take that picture in your mind.  Or better yet, stop to think about the way these kids make you FEEL.   Because it’s probably not the minutia of the day that you will remember.  It won’t be the milestone of when the child lost that first tooth.  It will be the way you FEEL around your child that you will (hopefully) remember.   The fierceness of love, the never ending desire and dedication to do anything and everything that you can for that child.  The way that child could make you laugh from the deepest parts of your being.  The way you FEEL when you look into your child’s eyes.  The PRIDE you have for your child as you have a conversation with your little (or not so little anymore) one.

Take notice of those things.  Take mental notes — no “heart notes” of these FEELINGS.   Some will be good, crazed, anxious… but you will likely treasure those just as you do the pride, joy, admiration, connection, and undying love for each of your kids.

That’s all I will say for now –

I will have an emotional day tomorrow and I will likely need to write about it; so, until then;

– Mama K

Random Thoughts: Remembering the first kiss


You may know that it is going to come your way.   You may have anticipated it; fantasized about it.  There is an excitement.  An air of anticipation.   The experience is yet an unknown.   How will he feel?  How will he smell?  Taste?   How will this go?   Awkward?  Or natural?   Out of the blue?   How soft will he be?   What will it feel like to have his lips on yours?

And then each of you draw near.   The questions cease.  Your wonder comes to an end.  The mystery is over.  The fantasy has been realized, or maybe the experience has left you sadly disappointed?

Increased heart rate, the smell of his neck, the feel of his body, the closeness of the touch, the feel of his hair, the feel of his embrace.  Leaving wanting more.

Are you like me and do you remember that first kiss?

Photo source:  kidzworld.com

*****

Working mothers are also women.   Sometimes strong, sometimes vulnerable, sometimes utterly romantic, and sometimes sadly oblivious.

Perhaps one way to get through the juggling of work and kids is to take a step back and think of your partner and remember that first kiss.  Remember how he made you feel.  Remember the reactions in your body, remember the thoughts in your head, or just the bliss of thoughtless “non-thinking” and just “doing”.

Yes, the partnership may lose its luster over time and also with added stress and the physical demands of raising children.  But maybe there is a way to get that spark back by thinking back on that first moment.  That first physical connection.   The first physical connection which obviously lead to much more… a life together, a family together.  Your children.

In my opinion we should work hard to remember that first kiss.  So much leading up to it, so much coming after it….

Are you like me and is that first kiss etched in your memory??

Take these polls and share your thoughts!

THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!

– Mama K

June 27: Different kinds of Love


Wednesday!   I get to see the kids today!

1/2 day of work.   I banged out a lot of things – getting meetings organized, reaching out for “testimonials” to help bolster some sales materials, planning meetings for next week.   I worked from home so also got the wash done, got the trash bins organized, and did some general straightening up for my guests who flew in today – my dad and his wife – aka Pop-Pop and Emmy!

After work I hit the road and stopped at Home Depot to return some things.  $75 back in my pocket!  Yeah!   Also picked up some things at the old house and dropped off some borrowed things at a neighbor’s house.  Then picked up the kids!

Highlights:

  • Attended a “sea” puppet and dance show with Big Bro and Red.  Both were excited to see me.  Red sat on my lap.  Big Bro wanted to fill me in on all the funny things that I missed during the first half of the show.   They both were really enjoying themselves.  I was happy to be there with them and stayed with them until the show was over.  We were in no rush.
  • Picked up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky next.  Twin Husky’s first words to me were “Me missed you Mommy”.  OMG my heart melted and I could not stop hugging them and making a HUGE fuss over seeing them.  They were excited to come with me and knew that Pop-Pop and Emmy were coming today.  We all talked about that on the way home.
  • New plates arrived for the kids – helping with portions of fruits/veggies, breads/grains, and meats.   They ate like crazy tonight and really got into their new plates.
  • There was bonding time with the still-nameless guinnea pig.
  • We picked weeds while waiting for Pop-Pop and Emmy.   We filled up a wheelbarrel and then fed the chickens.

 

  • The kids were pysched to great our visitors and show them their rooms.   Everyone was acting very silly and then it was time for  bed.   Kids were great.
  • Tonight Red asked me if I loved everyone in the family.  I said yes that I loved Nana, Pop-pop, Emmy, …..  She said “Noooooo” and seemed frustrated.  She meant co-parent.  I told her that was a difficult question and explained to her that there are different kinds of “love”.  How the love she has for her blanket is different than that for her friends at school than that for her guinnea pig and that for Mommy or Daddy.  I said it was the same for me.  I love chocolate ice-cream, but the way I love each of the kids is different.  It FEELS different to me.  Like her different kinds of love must feel different to her.  There are different kinds of love.  I did not answer her question head on since that would be un-nessessary.  But I did want to hear her.  I did want to answser her someway.    She is trying to understand and I am just grateful that she feels comfortable enough to ask me those kinds of questions.   I want to keep them talking.  Keep them questioning.  Keep them engaged.

I’m so glad that my family is here.  I’m so glad that this house is full.   Full in many different ways.   Just like there’s different kinds of love.

Til tomorrow –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Life & Love Not 2 Be Taken 4 Granted


I’m settling in from a solo weekend where I pampered myself beyond belief. I tore myself out of this empty house and took a road-trip to a B&B spa. By myself. You don’t have to be lonely when you are alone. I indulged in massage, pool side relaxation, hydration baths, the sound of jazz, and talking about life with locals whom I just met.

Take Herbie for instance – a jazz musician who is known by all in this town. I met him during lunch on Saturday afternoon and he was getting ready for his music performance later that day. We sat next to each other at the counter, eating our lunches, and just started telling each other our stories. He told me of friends he had through his life….his family… his deceased wife… how he had to raise a 9 year old daughter by himself… how his sister helped him through that time… the decisions he made through life and the friends that he made and how his life, and life in general, just takes these twists and turns. And how when you look back you have these pockets of your life and you can see the decisions you make along the way and how they have impacted you and the people you love around you.

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I always enjoy speaking with older people like Herbie who have many years on me and who have stories to tell and who are still living life… He is known in his town. He still plays piano and does performances. He gets dressed up all of the time in a suit. He lives each day.

So – for working mothers. Days, weeks, months go by so quickly. We know this. Our lives are busy and each hour is precious. And we see this as our kids grow up too fast. I am going to try and be better to stop and notice and recognize that life and love should not be taken for granted. Through the craziness and mayhem and juggling, I am going to make the time – maybe first thing in the morning – to really think about this. Maybe write it down on a piece of paper and tape it on my mirror. Will you join me?

Thanks for listening –
– Mama K

January 2: My buddies and back to “normal”?


Today was the last day off and wraps up several weeks of holiday breaks, school closures, and the resulting extra time off with the kids. It was a quiet day today but still one with errands and activities with my older kids, Big Bro and Red. Hubby and I went our own ways today and he had the Twins.

I gladly embraced the day with Big Bro and Red. They were my little side-kicks. They were so good today – it felt a bit strange not having the full set of kids together – and we did miss Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. In fact, there were several points in the day when something would remind one of us of them and we would all talk about it. Separation of the kids — there’s something that I REALLY do not like about it, especially since they’ve really started to play all together. But, the change in dynamics is really quite incredible. I felt so close to Big Bro and Red today. I felt calm. I felt like I was having actual conversations…

Big Bro was able to ask me questions about how things work (picture frame hooks, factories, online shopping and delivery, delivery tracking, paper clips, light switch dials on cords, jet fighters …. …. …. …. ) and I had the time to focus on his question and follow through with the answers, or at least hypotheses. He has such an inquisitive mind. He really needs to understand how things work. And I enjoy teaching him. I enjoy talking things through with him. I enjoy seeing his expression as he soaks in the information – how his eyebrows furrow and even today he paused a bit, and then told me, “So now I understand what jet fighters do and why they call them that.” He is such a serious child but in a second later his face lights up like a five year old child and reassures me that he is balanced. We bought Star Wars sheets for him through Amazon and he was so excited about it that he jumped up and down on my lap, turned to me, and said “I love you mommy.” oh my heart stopped for a second. A set of sheets. Bedsheets. And I am his hero over bedsheets? Too cute.

Red and I kept talking about getting haircuts together but in the end they never happened – she didn’t want to go. But she was beaming with independence today. She helped me with bags, she can completely buckle herself in her carset, and she had no problems going potty in public restrooms. I think she enjoyed it so much we went a few times and then in mid seating she decided that she didn’t have to go. She had opinions during shopping and she had opinions going through hand-me-down clothes from a friend. She is growing up.

It was a day of errands; eating bagels together, returning some things at Macy’s, then checking out Kohls and Bed Bath and Beyond for bedsheets for the kids (NOTHING was there… hence the Amazon shopping trip in the evening), buying decorative wall hangings at Pier 1 (and the kids had their opinions on what to get and made some EXCELLENT choices), and going out to lunch at In and Out Burger – they were thrilled for chocolate milkshakes.

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Big Bro got extra alone time with me when the others were napping. He was helping to fill up a frame set that has clips on it to hang pictures or drawings – so he was busy writing all of our family members names and drawing pictures and finding photos to include in the set. We also did pre-shopping on Amazon for the bedsheets and picked out several options for Red to decide on when she woke up from her nap. We had fun together.

I reunited with the Twins and gave them baths. Dinner and bedtime ran by me like a storm.

So it was a normal sub-urban day, but it was extraordinary for the three of us. It was a nice way to end the long break. Tomorrow will be back to normal; all kids in childcare, 3 drop offs, a commute to the city for work. Things are twisting a bit in our household so there are other changes too – we are all getting used to the “new normal” and I myself am not used to any normal routine – this new routine is kindof unfolding and being refined day-by-day. I know I’m being cryptic but for good reason.

Hope everyone’s day on Tuesday goes well – the return to work, the return to the normal routine – but at least it will be a short week!

Til tomorrow –
– Mama K

December 29: A Day for the Siblings


Today was a day at home with the children. No work. I had all four of them since Big Bro’s public school is still closed, and since Red became VERY upset at the thought of everyone home except for her. So I gladly kept her home from pre-school today as well. You would think – 4 kids – all day – man that woman must be wiped out. Truth is, I’m not. I’m surprisingly very, very relaxed. No tension in my neck. No sadness. No aching. No worrying. I’m just, well, “being”. And it feels wonderful.

We spent the day eating, playing, building legos, playing doll-house, setting up LeapPads, having the kids teach me about their LeapPads, napping, going to the library, cooking….. some fighting, some biting/hitting/yelling. But it was mostly laughing. It was mostly excitement. The kids really enjoyed being together. And playing together. Big kids interacting with the little kids – in a good way and also not-so-good way. But they were together. And they were being kids, being siblings with each other. I loved it.

Some of the highlights that really grabbed me today:

  • Waking up to Red smiling next to my bed. She was in a great mood. Then suddenly, and out of nowhere, she turned crabby. I think it’s because she realized that she was not staying home ALONE with me – that the rest of the kids were going to be there too. So I sat with her. I rocked with her in silence. She needed to calm herself down and I needed to hold her.
  • Big Bro holding Twin Crazy – he asked her and she said “yes”. They were both really having fun – Twin Crazy with a HUGE grin on her face that she was being taken care of by her big brother. He did the same with Twin Husky but it did not grab me in the same way…
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  • It took an amazingly LONG time to get out the door today. I really don’t know why. Red was really a problem this morning. She was taking her time and changing her mind about pants. Pants. I must have touched and retouched 50 pairs of pants. I eventually told her that I was losing my patience and we were close to not going anywhere so she better decide and SOON. I think she needs more of my time but I don’t like giving it to her in this way — its too draining; no fun at all.
  • Walking into the library with my four munchkins in a line; the librarians all know our family. They are patient with us and our noise. Each of the Twins introduced the librarian with their comfort toys (a tiger for Twin Husky, a lovely blanket for Twin Crazy). Twin Crazy and Twin Husky wanted to spend most of their time drinking from the water fountain. They started fighting and I knew it was time to gather the kids quickly when I heard Twin Crazy screaming at the fountain and Twin Husky bending over to bite her. As we were checking out our books, I asked the librarian if she could make our check-out into several “transactions”. She “got it” immediately and was so good with the kids. The kids wanted to check out their own books with the one library card so she rung them each up separately (except for Twin Husky, who was wandering around with his thumb in his mouth, not interested in checking out books).
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  • Grabbing ice cream with the kids at 11 AM. We were the only ones there. Big Bro wanted to go there in daylight so we could eat in the outside courtyard. I usually get little cups for the Twins but they amazed me – they sat there and held their little cones and ate their cones without any major spills or losses of food. They sat on a bench that circled a HUGE tree and were so cute. Afterwards, the sugar started to kick in and they started to play follow-the-leader on top of the bench that encircled the tree. I sat there quietly and watched them. I was taking it all in. I took some movies. I captured how Big Bro was interacting with the little ones and how the little ones were having so much fun doing the same thing the older kids were doing. They are a pack of four now. It is now that REALLY feel like I have four, distinct, separate, individual, and lively children. I am very lucky that they are all happy, healthy, and honestly look out for each other.
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  • While Red was napping, her LeapPad arrived. I thing Big Bro was more excited about it than she was today. Anyway, Big Bro wanted to surprise her so he set it out by her bed so she could see it and be surprised when she woke up from her nap. I love how he can be so sweet. I love how he thinks of his siblings. I love how he just “gets” them. Knows what makes them happy. Knows what they need. He is really amazing.
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  • I wanted Big Bro to rest/nap – but he wanted to put his Lego space shuttle together first. Together we worked to get it finished, quickly. I looked at each instruction page and gathered the pieces needed, and handed them to Big Bro to stick them on. I know he enjoyed me helping him with his Lego set, just the two of us. But I think I enjoyed it more than him.
  • I made a roast today. I am having fun “nesting” with my babes. I sat on the floor and showed Twin Crazy and Twin Husky the peeler and taught them about the skin on the carrots and potato. I showed them how I peel the skin off and they felt the strips and laughed at the ones that went flying over the trash bucket I was using. Both were running to grab the strips and threw them in the trash bucket for me. I had them smell the peeled carrots and the peeled potato and explained that we could really smell the food now that the skins were off. I love spending time like this with them. I know that our daycare provider does not interact with them in this way. I love teaching them new things. And talking about the world around them. After dinner, Red was sitting on my lap and then leaning over, laughing and saying “ouch – mommy – my head is going into the hot lava”, pretending that the floor was a river of lava. She cracks me up.
  • We closed out the night watching a Sponge Bob show about Christmas and Santa. I had Twin Crazy on my lap. I then had Red laying next to me with a blanket. Then Red was on my knee, with a blanket, covering Twin Crazy and putting her arm around her, still on my lap. Then Twin Husky came over and sat on my other knee. So I had three kids in my lap, with my arms around them and talking with them about the show. Too cute.

    I had four kids today, got impatient with them yes, but had a different kind of fun with them. They were all together. I mostly sat back and watched the interaction. I was essentially a person shuffling them between different activities but really stood on the sidelines and just watched them. Watched them talk. Watched them laugh. Watched them care for each other. Watched them share.

    Where I could, I stole one-on-one time. But it was mostly a day for the siblings. And tomorrow will be another such day. I’m looking forward to it.

    It’s amazing how my life has changed — thinking back to my 20s, my 30s — one decade totally selfish while the next totally self-less. And now. How I revel in moments with my children whereas before it was a good dinner out, or dancing with friends, or doing shots in Hoboken, or… … … … I know that these days when my kids are very young will fly by. I’ve heard it soooo many times before. That’s why I’m choosing to be with them now and soak them in now while I have this time. While I can make them laugh. While three can sit in my lap. I’m soaking it in and smiling – knowing that I’m lucky.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    December 16: Fighting stage fright


    Are you afraid of public speaking? Do you still get jitters if you have to address a large crowd???? Were you like this as a child? Big Bro is such a child. I would actually say that his shyness and fear of being in front of big crowds is a bit over-the-top.

    Let me give you some examples.

    • When he turned two, his daycare had a cake for him and two other children. His grandparents were there for the festivities. During his birthday song he completely lost it and could not bear to sit through the song without burying his head in his “teacher’s” embrace while sitting on her lap.
    • At Halloween his daycare would have a costume parade and he could not Participate in the parade without crying; when seeing me or hubby he would just burst out of line and run to us
    • Similar experience with Halloween and also Chinese new year parade at daycare just last year
    • various activities or events at daycare when his “class” would sing songs to the parents – he would know all the words and be fine at practice, but as soon as the day came in front of the parents, he would just fall to pieces
    • at pre-school graduation he was to embarrassed to walk across the room for his rolled up diploma. The teacher had to walk it over to him.
    • At birthday parties with activities like basketball lessons or bowling, it either takes him a long time to warm up to the event or he simply does not participate at all.

     

     

    Last year at his new daycare, he volunteered to be the starring role for a short holiday story. He practiced real hard and knew his lines and knew the acting he had to do and his teachers were so psyched about those practices. I still supported him wondering if he finally turned a corner and could be brave enough to follow through. Heart pounding, I arrived early and hid behind a separation in the room, completely out of sight in the stage area. The class came out. Big Bro took position. And then they just sat there for like 15 minutes or so until the parents arrived and the seats started to fill up. The poor little guy had to sit there with his heart pounding watch the audience build. Finally they started the program, with Big Bro in center stage – a position that he volunteered for…… His lips were being licked, his shoulders started to rise and head slump to the side like was trying to hide, and then he eventually broke down saying “I don’t want to do this anymore”. Laughter. Confusion. A stand-in jumps in where Big Bro left off. My heart sank. But I was expecting it. A part of me felt guilty for not stepping in to let the teachers know more forcefully. But I let him do it. I let him volunteer. And I let him fail. I was hopeful, but it turned out the way I knew it probably would. I went to him and told him how proud I was of him – how he worked hard at practicing and how he knew the play. How I knew that it must have been scary for him and how it’s OK to be scared. How I used to be scared too when I had those kinds of things when I was a kid. And I held him in my lap. And he watched the rest of the performance on my lap. And I held him and I was dying inside feeling like I needed to cry and wishing I could do more for him. And wishing it wasn’t so awkward when he ran off. Why do parents in the audience laugh at such things???????

    Anyway, back to today. I already informed his teacher that there might be a problem with today’s performance. All 3 kindergarten classes came tougher on a tiered stage to sing 20 excruciating minutes of delightful holiday songs. His class’ line came out. He was already twisting his arms and neck. Oh no this doesn’t look good. It took another 3 minutes to get the rest of the kids up there. He immediately started to cry, bury his face in his sleeves, head down and trying to hide.

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    But…. he stayed in position. They started the program quickly thank goodness. He did not at any point in time utter a word of song. He instead continued to cry in position. I sat there Frozen. Wanting to do something but also not wanting…. Wanting to see if he could pull it together. He wasn’t running off stage!!!!! He stayed in position!!!! He eventually stopped crying!!!!!! He didn’t sing, but he stayed up there with his classmates!!!!! He stood there with his head looking forward, just looking a bit zoned out and looking at the audience. Whenever he looked at me I gave him a huge smile and thumbs up and tried to mouth the words “you’re DOING it!!!!!!!!”.

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    Let me tell you it was hard listening to the parents (“did he have a rough morning at home or something?”) but I was beaming for him. I met him immediately off of the side of the stage and again told him how proud of him I was, how he did a great job of staying up there, and how he did a great job of “pulling it together.”

    He really has come a long way. And so have I. I am stronger for him and holding back trying to save him from these kinds of situations.

    And look at his beaming face afterwards

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    And look at his self portrait, brown hair with hints of red, mouth wide open and singing. 🙂

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    I love him so much it hurts. And this story had to be told in full over and above the other things that happened today.

    Have a great weekend Mamas!!!! Hold your little ones tight!!!!
    Until next week –
    – Mama K

    November 29: A DAY TO REMEMBER!!!!


    Wow what a rough night, what a rough morning. Red woke up at 3 AM feeling clingy, needy, and refusing to let go of my hand. I broke my rule of “no kids in bed” and asked her to come with me. Big Bro heard this and he came too. So we all had a “comfy” night together in bed. I know, this is wrong. This is hard to break. But it was 3 AM and I needed sleep. And I missed my kids since I didn’t see them the night before. So it was selfish of me, too.

    I had to wake up early so I could take an 8 AM conference call in the city. I needed to take an earlier ferry. So this AM was unusual again today… and it got worse…

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • I woke up to Red and Big Bro. Red was in a great mood. Asking me about my clothes, my stockings, my skirt. And how she has tights, and skirts, and how her skirts have shorts underneath. And if my skirts have shorts too? How cute. She really was in a great, playful mood.
    • Then I saw the Twins bouncing and bounding into the bedroom…. “Mommy!! Mommy!” Twin Crazy was so excited that she was jumping up and down and jumping like a rabbit over to me. Big hugs and kisses. Twin Husky was equally excited, but in his own subdued way.
    • Chocolate Tuesday! Big kids head downstairs. I get their clothes together.
    • I tried to help getting the kids breakfast and then had to pack up to catch the earlier ferry. I had coffee automatically brewed so it was easy to get my fuel for the morning.

    My walk to the ferry was nice. I am going to have a busy day today. Back to back conference calls again. It is foggy. Very foggy. As I approach the dock I wonder if it is too foggy for the boat to leave. I can’t see the boat. Was it cancelled? I get there to find out that the ferry is there, but it is full. Shit. What do I do now? What do I do about the conference call, and what does my schedule look like for the rest of the day incase I take the call from home and then try to drive into the city?

    I arrive at home, kids are surprised to see me. I look at my schedule and decide to have my admin cancel the 8 AM call and reschedule. I will try again for the normal ferry time to make it to the office for the rest of my meetings.

    • I walk in to see Red sprawled across the benches and screaming crying. Big Bro is not dressed. Twins are upstairs with Hubby.
    • I try to work hard to Red. She is very upset about something. It doesn’t look like she ate breakfast. She is clinging to me. I get her down to get her dressed. She refuses the shirt I picked out. I ask her about a different shirt. I try shirt #2. She is still bawling. I decide to take her to school and hubby take Big Bro and Twins. This puts Big Bro in a fit. He wanted me to drop them off. I promise to pick him up later today and to do scooter to school tomorrow. He didn’t get any help from me during dress time [he doesn’t need my help but he likes the attention] since I was spending so much time with Red. All of this was happening while my Admin was on speakerphone working with me to cancel/reschedule the 8 AM call. Too funny. What a collision between work and home. These collisions I always find interesting but a bit stressful.
    • I try to leave with Red and it is hard with her shoes, her lunchbox, and now she is bawling about the little red reindeer stuffed animal. You’ve got to be kidding me. Big Bro is in the doorway crying about how I’m not dropping him off. I can’t do much about this now but I will try to make their evening special in some way. Plus I need to give the Twins some time too….. hmmmmm.
    • Red drop off at pre-school was not easy. Clinging. Pouting. I made her laugh on several occasions but it wasn’t enough to turn her mood around. I left with her being held by her teacher, her bawling and reaching out to me, and me prying her little fingers off of my jacket. Uggggh.

    So, now I’m on the ferry. It’s like groundhog day. I feel like I had two mornings. And it hasn’t gone particularly well so far. Plus I’m hungry. I had barely a dinner last night (beer and bread) so I guess I’m a bit sluggish too. Plus tired from being woken up in the middle of the night.

    Work will go well today. I will have several meetings and hopefully the consultant who I enlisted to help me with my client deliverable will turn around something EXCELLENT for me. I’ve heard a lot of great things about him and how dependable he is so hopefully he gives me back something good. It will make my new work arrangement that much easier if we finally have people we can rely upon to do the heavy lifting of project work. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    It was a sort-of productive day, and I felt good being in the office and interacting with people.

    • I had three different 1:1 debrief conference calls for the two forums I am managing. Again, great ideas and feedback from the participants.
    • I also started to think through the organization of the Spring meetings – I sent out “Save the Date” information to all of the participants from both forums…. i still need to close out loose ends from the last meeting though…. I will need to focus on that next week.
    • I spent some time thinking through the client deliverable and am looking forward to getting the work from the consultant who is helping me. I will work on that draft tomorrow at home during my half-day and **hopefully** I will feel good about that first draft.

    I’m on the ferry now headed home to pick up the kids. They almost feel like strangers to me since I didn’t see them last night and this morning was very fragmented and rushed. I’m looking forward to getting “re-acquainted” with them.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • Tonight went smoothly – I did the pickups and decided to pick up Red first to give her some extra alone time with me. Dinner prep was fine; the trick I find is to keep the kids occupied. Especially now that the younger ones are starting to fight with the older ones. I had Big Bro and Red put up stick-up decorations on our windows around the house. This worked well.

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    • I broke my rule about “one meal” at dinner tonight. Usually I have the kids eat whatever we are eating, but that meant left-over stew that I knew would not be a hit. So they had home-made mac-n-cheese. The funny part was when Twin Husky started to dive into the stew, “caveman” style.

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    • We then finished putting lights up along the banister which was fun but a bit daunting. It really is impossible to keep two 22 month olds away from little white lights, especially when the lights are within reach of their little hands.

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    • The biggest milestone of the evening was when TWIN CRAZY WENT PEE-PEE FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME IN A LITTLE POTTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG I cannot believe it. When I started to change her, I realized that her diaper was sort of dry so I figured there MUST be some pee-pee in there. I asked her if she wanted to try and she ran to the door. We all gathered in and sat with her. Red even held her hand. She switched from two different little potties and was “talking” the whole time and I didn’t even realize it but lo and behold…. I saw a bit of a discoloration… and upon further investigation I realized that YES, my little pumpkin girl, my little Twin who was born at 6 pounds 5 ounces nearly 22 months ago, ACTUALLY PUT A LITTLE TEENY TEENY bit of pee-pee in there. OMG it was great. She helped me dump it in the toilet, and she flushed herself, and we all sat there and said good-bye to it as it was flushed away. We were all cheering and clapping and excited and all of us got an ice-cream treat and also I gave her extra M&Ms for going to the potty. I told her that we are so proud of her and love her so much and if she continues to go, each time she will get a treat and an M&M. She was so proud of herself. The look on her face. She started laughing and jumping and she then DID NOT WANT ME to put a diaper on her for bedtime. OMG she is not a baby anymore. She is a girl. My little girl. Big Bro drew a picture for her because he was so proud of her.

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    So today was a bit dicey at first, but ended up great, and is certainly a day that I hope to never forget.

    Til tomorrow –

    – Mama K

    Staying Sane: Developing Traditions


    I’ve been writing about Chocolate Tuesdays in my daily journals and I also recently wrote about a rainy weekend when I took the kids out for ice-cream. I received a request from a fellow Mama to spend some time writing on this subject and also getting feedback from our Mama In Motion community on traditions that they do with their families, no matter how big or how small. This really does help keep sanity. It helps to promote stability and respect and positions the family as a unit, versus individuals “at odds” with one another. And this is perfect timing….

    Some of our day-to-day traditions:

  • I do “hugs and kisses in the morning” each and every morning with each of the kids. When Big Bro and Red were little babies, I used to make a song of it; but now at least its a round of hugs and kisses for each child and a big “good morning” for each of them.
  • I also play a “love” game with the kids – I try to do daily with Big Bro and REd, and would like to start it with the Twins now too since their old enough to get it. It goes like this: Me: “Did I tell you yet today how much I love you?!?!?”. Kid: “No” (or sometimes they say yes mommy…”. Me: “I love you so much that I am going to [kiss your ear], [pull your toe], [squeeze your nose], [mess up your hair], [tickle your belly] etc. etc. etc. And then as I do these things I say “THAT’s how much I love you, I love you, I love you so much…..”. It really is fun, because they know the game but don’t know how I’m going to express my love, whether its picking them up and spinning around, or chasing them, etc. They also do it back to me from time to time.
  • Each day and in relation to school/pre-school, I ask each kid to make sure that they 1) learn something new today; 2) exercise their bodies; and 3) laugh really hard about something. Then at the end of the day I ask them questions about what they did today to learn something new, exercise, and tell me a funny thing that made them laugh.
  • Chocolate Tuesdays – I found Nutella as another breakfast option that is really easy to put on bagels, toast, tortillas, etc. A good source of protein since it is made of hazelnut – and the kids love it because it really does taste like chocolately goodness. The problem was that they wanted it all the time. So we asked them to pick only ONE morning to have it – that day was a Tuesday so of course Big Bro suggested Tuesdays. So the tradition was borne.
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  • Movie Fridays – as a family we are a bit restrictive on the kids watching TV. Big Bro is the kind of kid that if he watches something in the day he will waste the day away (like me). So we have one night devoted to movies and popcorn: Friday nights. We love it as a family. Even the Twins now are getting into the popcorn even if they don’t have the attention span for the whole movie. I have lots of pictures of the four of them lined up on the couch eating popcorn and mesmerized by the movie – although this is fleeting and Red and the Twins tend to get bored and move on to other activities.
  • Saturday AM pancakes
  • Sunday AM waffles
  • Bathtime/ showertime is big in our house. We may not be able to do it as frequently as we would like, but all of the kids together is too much fun. The four kids used to bathe together in the one big HUGE tub in our room; now Big Bro takes a shower while the other 3 take a bath together. They LOVE it.
  • If the kids eat “two colors” at dinner, they get chocolate milk afterwards. I tell them that they have to listen to their body to know if they are full or not. I don’t force them to eat. But they must at least try two colors of food to get the milk at the other end.
  • Bigger traditions:

  • Christmas Eve: We make home-made pasta together. This is something my grandmother used to do whenever we would visit her, but I wanted to make it a tradition on Christmas eve. The thought is that we can make homemade linquinine or other shapes, and then diversify year by year with different sauces. It is hard work and takes time (even with a Kitchenaide mixer), but my thought is that as the kids get older, they will take over and with four of them they will be able to work together to get the job done faster, or at least switch off when they get tired.
  • Christmas eve: we also bake Chocolate Chip cookies during the day for Santa. We leave these out at night along with a cup of milk and carrots for the reindeer. We take baths and get into our chistmas pajamas, take pictures by the tree, and I have each of the kids draw a picture for Santa. It is the cutest thing to see each of them in their PJs busy at work, creating a special picture for Santa. In years past we’ve had pictures of airplanes, choo-choo trains, circles, and scribbles. I think it will be wonderful for them to have when they get older… so they get to see what meant so much to them when they were little and how they gifted their creativity to Santa each and every year while they believed.
  • Each year right before 9/11, we go to the store and buy gifts for the firefighters. We wrap them up and then on the day of 9/11 we visit the firestation and give them their gifts. Last year we got a crazy tour of the truck, they got to go inside the truck, and we all got a tour of the fire-house.
  • For Easter, the easter bunny not only gives them candy, but also TOOTHBRUSHES. The kids absolutely love getting them in their baskets.
  • We also do TOOTHBRUSHES in stocking stuffers at christmas time.
  • Things I’m thinking of:

  • With four kids, I’m thinking of having a poliana at Christmastime that the kids can do with each other.
  • Also with so many kids, I’m thinking of toning down Christmas (to one gift each) and spending the real celebration on their birthdays – which are more meaningful to me. The thought of celebrating a person’s life…. the fact that they are who they are…. and celebrating their uniqueness and what they mean to you, seems so much more worthy in my mind than the pile of presents at Christmastime for EACH child….
  • What are some of YOUR traditions? Big or small — share them all!!!!

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