Retreating again


It’s been all week since I’ve posted anything.   My mind is occupied with divorce proceedings.  I need to get this done quickly and fiercely.   I am so strained financially.   I was the one that left the house, I still have possessions inside of that old house, I caved and bought a different car, and my ex essentially is fighting me saying that certain investments of ours were his separate property before marriage – so I feel like I have no assets or safety net from which to protect me or my kids in the future.

I pay for their haircuts.  I pay for their new clothes for school.  My ex does not even respond to my requests for 50% reimbursement.   This is bad foreshadowing for what will come over the next 15+ years financially with him.

I feel very, very low right now.

I am retreating again.

Hopefully this will be over quickly so I can breathe fresh air again.

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October 26: VERY busy and happy with the kids


It’s Friday and now I am home alone after dropping off the kids at co-parent’s house.  Looking back, I cannot believe how much we did today.  I loved it.

Highlights of the Morning:

  • Twin Crazy was sick the night before with a high fever so I brought her into my room.   However, when I woke up this morning, not only did I have her in my bed, but I also had her twin laying across me as a pillow.   He usually wakes up earlier than the rest, but for some reason I think he came over in the middle of the night.  Strange.  I woke up to Red asking me to get Cocoa.   Climbing back in my bed I was saying to everyone that I will need to go out and get a bigger bed.  How am I going to fit me, 4 kids (older and bigger over time), a guinea pig and possibly a dog in my Full bed??!?!?!?   No way.    We were all laughing.
  • Breakfast was touch and go today.   Red requested pancakes (I made home-made pancakes last Friday) but I tricked her and pulled some out from the freezer.  She tried to eat them but noticed the difference immediately and was completely pissed off at me.   She sulked for most of the breakfast, until the end, when she caved out of hunger and ate what was given to her.  Then she was all smiles.
  • It was a nice ride dropping off Big Bro and Red.   The sun was shining.  I was feeling great.    Drop offs were uneventful.  Except that Red was happy (I brought Twin Crazy and Twin Husky with me).  I think bringing in the twins makes a difference for her during drop offs.
  • On the way home the Twins were talking about having grapes.  There was traffic.  They fell asleep.
  • Once we got back we had our grapes and then our activity.  I loved it.   We worked together in the back yard.  We were raking leaves, transporting leaves, picking “good” leaves from the weeds/sticks and putting them in our tumbler composter, then gathering more leaves around the back yard.  Twin Husky was TOTALLY into it.   He loves the outdoors.  I think this will be “our thing” together.   He is very much a wanderer; a seeker; he wandered off to see the chickens and he loves working in the yard.   I couldn’t tear him away from his little wheel barrel.  I think this garden that I want to build will be special for me and him alike.   Twin Crazy on the other hand had trouble walking up the hill, trouble raking leaves, and wanted to ride her tricycle down on the patio.  To each her own.  It’s just not her thing.  I’m OK with that.
  • After that hard work we had lunch and then naps.  I even took a nap as well.

 

 

Highlights of the Afternoon:

  • My phone alarm rang at 1:50 PM.  I jumped out of bed and gathered extra clothes, 4 water bottles, 3 fans (see Halloween gifts from Nana from  yesterday), and snacks to last 4 kids and one tired Mommy for 3 hours.  I scooped up the kids and told them to go back to sleep on the ride.   They did.
  • Pick up for Big Bro was great.  I got a chance to see their gardening project, with above-ground planting beds made out of wood.  I was totally  impressed.   I asked them how they made it and if they have plans.  The teacher said that boy-scouts made it for her.  A parent from Big Bro’s class asked me if I even have ROOM for a planter like that…. I said yes, we are divorced now… I live in [XXX] and have 1/2 acre of property and am starting a garden.  She grew up in that town.  She knows that I can grow things in the summer and in the winter.  She said she was jealous.  She does not have space for such a planter at her house.  I was beaming.
  • We picked up Red.  She is adorable.  Her smile lights up the room and my heart.   She put away her things and ran to me.   She held my hand tight as we ran to the van together.
  • Once we were all together I took out the snacks and drove to our first destination:  the airplane museum.  There is a part of the museum where you do not have to pay anything to enjoy.  So we stayed outside for free, and the kids had fun climbing into the airplanes and pretending that they were air traffic control.   Big Bro stole my phone camera and took some pictures of things that were important to him, like his hurt finger with a band-aide on it.  I read about the planes and gave the kids their snacks.  The owner came out and I explained my story, about living paycheck to paycheck and being divorced with four kids.   He gave me his card and told me to call in advance if I ever wanted to bring the kids inside.  He was very sweet.   We used the restroom and there was a water cooler outside with cone-paper cups.  The kids went crazy over this and I just couldn’t believe the joy and wonder that can be brought to a child without paying for anything.  It really is the simple things in life.
  • After the airplane museum we went to buy Red her shoes.  Her old sneakers were embarrassing.  She even mentioned that people in her class have been telling her to get new shoes.  I was appalled.  We went to Payless and even Big Bro was picking out some choices for her from sizes 11 and 11 1/2.   He was great.  They all knew that the only thing on the list was Red’s shoes.  So all in all they were very well behaved.  Except for Twin Husky.  He found a pair of blue rain boots that he fell in love with and was totally upset when I told him that they weren’t on the list.  We paid for Red’s sneakers and off we went.
  • Our next stop was a cove where you can see tide-pools, lots of birds, and huge rocks with sea-weed.  The kids had a great time.  Big Bro, Red, and Twin Husky kept scrambling up rocks, Big Bro and Red adventured out towards the bay and collected treasure (shells), Twin Crazy collected her treasure of rocks, and Twin Husky was so adventurous.  At one point he decided to take off his socks and shoes and start wading in some of the tide pools.  I was not thrilled with this but I loved his sense of adventure and he was safe.   I didn’t care if his pants got wet.   The kids were great when I said it was time to go.   I love giving them these kinds of experiences.  And it didn’t cost me a thing.
  • Drop off was fine.  I will see them tomorrow at 4 PM.

After dropping them off I went food shopping to prepare for next week.  I will have more time with them since co-parent will be traveling for work.   I only buy things that are fresh veggies / fruits, and other things on sale.  I do not buy anything (besides fresh fruits / veggies) if it is full price.  I just can’t these days.  There was a snag at the register that shorted me $2 and I am not proud to say that I waited for another transaction to get my $2 back.  That will pay for 2 days of parking next week at my train station.  I am living paycheck to paycheck these days, but still probably the happiest that I’ve ever been nonetheless.  I am making it on my own.  As a single mother of four kids, working part-time, in a god-awful expensive part of the country.  I have my own, beautiful (small) home with lots of land for me and these kids.   And I am making it.

Tonight I will need to do some work related to the divorce.  I cannot wait for this to be finalized and have this leech off of my back.  I was carrying him for too long in the past and he is still sucking whatever he can out of me and I need to rid myself of him legally and financially.   That is my priority now that my big meetings for work have passed.

Have a great weekend everyone –

– Mama K

Random Thoughts: Funding the Tooth Fairy for 80 teeth?!!?!?!?


About this time last year, I wrote about how Big Bro was on the verge of losing his first tooth and I wanted to understand what the going rate was for teeth for the Tooth Fairy.   See my original post.   

If you have been following this blog, you know I have four children.  That’s 80 teeth in total.  And if you’ve been following this blog recently, you are aware that Big Bro had his first adult tooth growing right behind his baby tooth —

Which led us to the Dentist, some laughing gas, hoses attached to his face, the other kids being swept away to a “play area” in the dentist office so they would not be scared about Big Bro, numbing swabs, several injections, a mallot, other small knife-looking instruments, what looked like plyers, and a very nervous mommy.     X-rays showed that his other adult tooth right next door was growing in the same way.   He was fearless.  He stayed still.  He was so brave.  I was shocked.  So, TWO extractions later, Big Bro’s mouth looked like this (self portrait):

So, the Tooth Fairy came to my house for the first time.  And, I was limited to what was in my wallet at the time.  I had normally envisioned brand-new silver dollars for each tooth for each kid… alas, those dreams swept away due to me not being prepared.    He received a $5 bill for the first tooth and a $1 bill for the second tooth.    All in all, 4 kids and less than $100 seems reasonable.    But that obviously does not include my stress level nor the cost of the Dentist visit, the majority out-of-pocket.  I guess that’s a subject for another post at another time.   🙂

I’d like to get your thoughts on what the Tooth Fairy is doing in your homes!    Take the poll!

Thanks for listening ladies and being there for this HUGE milestone for our family!

– Mama K

September 4: First days!


Today Twin Crazy and Twin Husky started “traditional” daycare, versus the “home” daycare that we’ve had them in since they were babies.   And it was Red’s first day in a new “classroom” at daycare – “Pre-K”.   I decided to drive down to co-parent’s neighborhood to see their first days in action…
Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • I woke up early and left the house at 7 AM, with my phone free of pictures and fully charged.
  • I got there way early – there was hardly any traffic.  So I went to co-parent’s at 7:45 AM.   Red was having problems with socks.   I offered to take her into school and meet the rest there.
  • Red and I waited for Twin Crazy and Twin Husky and I took lots of pictures of her.  For some reason I missed her like crazy yesterday.    I just kept thinking about the times she says “what can I do with you” and I’m always too stretched to really spend any time with her.   All I wanted to do yesterday is sit down and color with her.   I missed her so much; so this morning I grabbed extra hugs and kisses and tried to make her feel extra special.
  • Twin Crazy and Twin Husky came in, with their little backpacks.  Sooooooooo cute.  They were really excited.  They checked out their cubbies, the sofa, the potties, a crayon activity (and talked to each other about the colors), the play-kitchen, the doll house….   Twin Husky carried his Tiger non-stop and even took off his shoes when he sat on the little couch.   They had no problems with our leaving.  They looked like they were already having a blast.
  • Red’s drop off was fine.  She was shy at first, but then warmed up when she saw some friends.   Her face was glowing and she jumped right into activities with her friends.
  • I missed the ferry, so I decided to work from Starbucks.   The commute was literally 5 minutes.

 

Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I set up at Starbucks, got another coffee.   I was actually very productive.   I had several conference calls and got closer to firming up the Agenda and attendees to the forum we are having later this month.
  • I followed up on old invoices
  • I started to confirm the Agenda for the other forum we will have in October.
  • I did some admin items such as timesheets

 

The Rest of the Day:

  • I called a quits at 4 PM and went clothes shopping at Kohl’s with $3o Kohl’s Cash.  I spent an incremental $2 on 2 dresses and a pair of “skorts”.  I’m psyched about the killer deal and will wear one of the dresses tomorrow.
  • I did some food shopping – again with coupons.  Safeway’s deals are great and they give you discounts on gas which I really appreciate these days.   But, I saw that they double charged me for bread and believe it or not but I actually spent the time to go back to get the $5 returned to me.   Again, watching every dollar.   Oh how my life has changed.
  • I had the kids tonight since co-parent is on a business trip.   So this Tuesday night with them was a gift.
  • Pick ups were EXCELLENT!   Twin Crazy and Twin Husky looked tired, but very very happy.  Again, Twin Husky was carrying around his Tiger.   They were eating snacks.  They seemed really happy – each with their own seat right across from each other.  I asked if they were set up next to each other for naps and the teachers confirmed yes.   There were no tears.  I am thrilled.  They had a great first day.
  • Red was excited at pick up too; she had a great day and I came back with lots of art.
  • Pick up for Big Bro was fine; he goes with a neighbor who is a life-saver to me.
  • On the way home we reconnected and caught up with each other.  We talked about the past few days and the birthday party they went to and Big Bro’s owie and the first days of school.  I talked about the guinea pig and how I bought her different greens and how big she’s getting.   It was a great ride home, but we hit traffic.   The kids were happy despite this.
  • I started dinner as soon as we got in; the kids were playing with Cocoa.  And drawing.  And cutting pictures out of magazines.
  • I did homework with Big Bro.  He read some words, counted to 100, and wrote a sentence about the drawing of his family.  His sentence was “I have a new pet.”  He spelled out all the words and the sentence by himself.  I can’t get over it.
  • We ate well except for Big Bro.  He still has stomach issues.   This has been going on way too long… almost one week.  I think I need to take him to a doctor.
  • After dinner Big Bro took it easy on the couch while the rest of us took out the garbage.  I usually don’t have them on these nights so this was fun with them.  They “helped” me carry the bins down to the street.
  • We all picked out the clothes for the next morning so we can get a jump on that without hesitation tomorrow.
  • Bedtime was great; they got changed without a problem.  Books were no problem.  Getting them to sleep was a minor problem – the girls wanted to talk.   They talked about what scares them.  Red is scared of alligators but I assured her that the zoo is very far away and there is absolutely NO WAY that the alligator is going to escape his tank and walk all the way over here.   Twin Crazy agreed that the alligator does have a big mouth and could eat us.   And bugs.   And that the bugs would be mad if the alligator ate the other bugs.   Big Bro was busy looking at Cocoa eating her new dandelion greens.  We sat there for awhile looking at her eat.  I asked him if he likes having a pet and not only did he say “Yes” right away, but he immediately said that he wants to have a dog too.   Twin Husky was excited about the day and kept saying that he is a big boy.

It was a great day; I was actually a working mom again which feels good but also extremely exhausting since I am out of practice.   We are going to have a VERY early morning tomorrow so I need to get some things done tonight.   I will work from Starbucks again tomorrow but for only 1/2 day; I’m looking forward to getting home with the kids at a more reasonable time tomorrow so we can eat earlier, spend more time together, and not be stuck in commuting traffic…  I want to talk to them more since their conversations either crack me up, surprise me from the intelligence, or both.

It was a GREAT day.  One that I will remember because of the “first days”.

Til tomorrow –

– Mama K

June 20: Loss of my Virgin Mouth


I like Wednesdays. I get to work from home for 1/2 day:

Highlights of My Morning:

  • I woke up early and started my day at 8 AM. I started with an instant coffee while booting up my computer.
  • I have a brand new printer/fax/scanner/copier. I love it. It is soooooooooooo fast. And small. I faxed out Big Bro’s report card to co-parent and felt productive already. Then I had issues with the fax – the report said it didn’t send. It took me awhile to figure out I had to actually switch the phone line to the fax machine to get it to work. DUH.
  • I had a second instant coffee and checked email. Nothing major to respond to.
  • I followed up with some invoices.
  • I updated our sales pipeline for one of our forums.
  • I took a break and decided to walk to the back of my property. There are some trees back there that are turning orange. I am a bit concerned about them and I wanted to see where they were on the property lines. Then the fun started. I have a fence in the back that is completely pulled down – and a well-established trail, I believe from the deer (that ate the leaves off of my new fruit trees). The strange thing is that there is about 6 feet of “no man’s land” between my torn down fence and the fence from my back neighbor… and these trees are actually part of this no-man’s land. It is kindof cool back there…. it reminded me of the trails I used to walk and explore as a kid. But it scared me to think of my kids back here. There were big holes – not sure what from or what kinds of critters. And strange forts. Plus lots of debris. I have a lot of work to do. First, I need to figure out if these trees are mine – where does my property line end? Then I must do something about these trees – depending on if they are mine or not – regardless, their limbs have to come down and out of my space. Lastly, I will need to get a proper fence put up. It won’t take long to contain Twin Husky or Big Bro from this mess. I just see more $$$ coming out and I don’t know where it will come from. I decided to go back to work to earn some money.
  • I don’t really remember what else I did – I talked to my mom for a bit and I had a conference call to discuss a pricing strategy for one of our forums. We need to rethink pricing to get more members in – non-profits, start-ups, and smaller organizations. It is valuable to have them part of the forum but the price tag is a barrier to get them in. So we’re experimenting a bit to see if we can get some over the line. I have a number of sales calls coming up so am glad we came to conclusions on this.
  • I ate lunch. Got dressed. Headed out the door.

    Highlights of the Afternoon:

  • I headed into the city for a dentist appointment. You may not believe this, but I have all of my teeth – all wisdom teeth – and have NEVER had a cavity…. until NOW. I couldn’t believe it. I thought there was something funky going on in there. For years Dentists raved about my “virgin” mouth… all teeth in, and absolutely no work done on any of them. I prided myself in my cavity-free mouth. BUT ALAS NO MORE!!!! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!!!! A cavity. My mouth is no longer a virgin.
  • I headed in to pick up the kids. On my way I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some things. I shopped frugally and focused on sales. I got 3 containers of raspberries, buy 1 get 2 free. YEAH!
  • I picked up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. Daycare said that they kept talking about the big couch and big TV at Mommy’s house. Too funny. My couch is so small and the TV is tiny compared to our other one. It’s funny to me what they choose to talk about.
  • We picked up Red and Big Bro at Red’s school. It was great to see her. I asked how she was doing (fine…, whew). She ran in my arms and I couldn’t get enough of her. She seemed older to me. Very much a little girl. She had a pony-tail in from her teacher and I think that is what made her look different to me.
  • I was careful with Big Bro when I saw him. Fist pump. I caught him playing with Twin Husky. They are so cute together now.
  • We headed to PetCo to get a new guinea pig. Our other one officially had ringworm (poor thing) so we picked out another. This one is chocolate-brown and a female. She is so sweet. She is actually quite social and does not immediately hide. Maybe the other one did because he felt sick. Poor guy. I hope I don’t get too many questions about where he is now. Twin Crazy was concerned that a Chicken would hurt the guinea pig when we got home. I assured her that this would not happen since it would be safe in a cage.
  • We drove back and I had fun throwing Vanilla wafers back to Red and Big Bro during the ride back. I would hear little “got it”s the whole way back. It was fun; we talked about the commuter train and the radio and I even caught Twin Crazy dancing a bit in her car seat.
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    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • We got back home and disinfected the guinea pig cage. We all worked together; the kids were so cute doing this. Big Bro was holding the guinea pig as he was cleaning the cage. Such a little man.
  • We played ball and also a wheelbarrel of water.
  • We ate dinner. And lots of fruit afterwards. Strawberries, pears, blueberries, and one of the packages of raspberries.
  • We played with more water. I weeded.
  • I knew when it was time to come in – Twin Husky and Twin Crazy were pooped. I read to each of them and put Twin Husky down first. He had no problem laying in his bed with his Tigers. He asked me to rub his back. Then our whispers “I….. love….. you”.
  • I worked with Twin Crazy next, while Big Bro and Red were playing with the guinnea pig.
  • I thought everyone was brushed and down for the count when the girls just started acting silly. Pee pee, water, itchy vaginas. Everything that Red would say, Twin Crazy would say too. It is so sweet how they are sisters and so close in age. Also a bit frightening. Twin Crazy tried not to smile to me as she was repeating everything from Red. Too cute.
  • I showered which gave the girls time to actually go to sleep.
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    I’m sitting here now on my “big” couch listening to the crickets and enjoying a cool breeze. It’s fun to have the kids here again. And also a new little creature that really is so cute. Red wants to name her Isabelle – but that is the name of the birthday-girl neighbor from across the street so I don’t think that would be a proper name. We’ll have to work on that.

    I’m feeling reasonably good. Tired. Thinking about the yard. It would have been good to get out there a bit before it was dark but the girls were just to amped up. Maybe I’ll have some ice-cream instead. Screw it. I already have a cavity – my mouth is no longer a virgin so I guess just bring those cavities on!

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    Repost and Poll: Money vs. Quality of time with your kids????


    As some of you may be aware, I have struggled with the notion of “work” and “family” for quite some time now, and have recently made a signficant career transition based upon my energy levels, my happiness, and advice and pleading from many, many people.    I essentially took a 50% cut in hours and pay which also includes some flex-time and the ability to work from home on one of my three working days.   So this has been a monumental change for me and my family:

    • I am happier, less stressed, and able to connect on a more deeper level with my children.  I am able to participate in school events and spend special 1 on 1 time with the kids.  My relationships with my babies have flourished.   I am more effective at work and take my job much more seriously than I have in the past.
    • My kids seem happier, are coming up with ideas for their 1:1 time with Mommy, and hug me harder, longer, and with more intensity.  I feel like I’m being the kind of mother that they need / want me to be.

    But of course this has come at a cost.  A cost that I am willing to make at this point in my life.

    I thought I would redistribute a post/poll that I wrote several months ago when another Mama In Motion was in the middle of her transition.  It just seems right for me to send this out again since I am going through a transition of my own….

    Humor me and please follow the below link to my post, and also respond to the polls within.  If you have already particpated previously, it is possible that you will be unable to answer a second time (sorry).

    https://mamainmotion.com/2011/08/09/random-thought-when-evaluating-new-job-opportunities-would-you-sacrifice-quality-of-time-with-your-kids-for-more-money/

    Thanks so much for following me – have a great day

    Thanks for listening –

    – Mama K

    Random Thought: When evaluating new job opportunities, would you sacrifice “quality of time with your kids” for “more money”?


    It’s Tuesday and I have a Random Thought.

    I want to thank Mama Serenity for expressing her situation at Meet other Mamas In Motion.   Her description is extremely heartfelt and her tone expressions the confusion and internal conflict that she faces.   It does seem that her existing job treats her well and to some extent suits her balance with her children (but there is travel required and peaks of her business).  She is now presented with another opportunity — and although she has information from which to base a decision, there still is the large “unknown” factor.   I think the “unknown” is what causes stress and pressure in the decision-making process, particularly when these decisions impact not only you, but your entire family.   I believe it is much easier to be a risk taker when you only have to worry about yourself and it becomes harder to venture out into the unknown when these decisions impact your entire family and your little ones.  I feel like I’ve remained in my current job because of my kids – my company knows me, and I know how to navigate to make the most out of my situation with the kids.   There may be better options for me elsewhere – but the unknown does cause me stress particularly if I feel like my current job gives me and my family a sense of stability and security.

    This got  me to thinking.   I’m guessing that collectively, working Mamas In Motion are changing jobs all the time.  Job opportunities present themselves – or we proactively go looking for them.   Does the decision process become more difficult if you have little ones to consider?  Or, maybe its just the opposite — does the decision-making process become EASIER if you feel that the things that are most important to you are NOT being fulfilled in your current job situation?   There are considerations to be made when evaluating opportunities, and there are tradeoffs.  And it becomes more difficult when you are potentially leaving a “known” situation to an “unknown” situation, one that may not be able to fulfill on a bonus that you hope to count on, or one that may not be as family-friendly as you assume.

    Here are some considerations that I can think of – would the new opportunity provide more:

    • money, compensation, benefits?
    • quality time with the kids (e.g., shorter commute, more flexibility in hours, possibly being able to work from home on some days)?
    • responsibility?
    • stability, job security?
    • autonomy in getting the work done?
    • interesting / compelling work?
    • the ability to stretch your skills and grow in new areas?
    • synergies with people — culture, working style alignment?

    This now gets me to a series of polls for the group, for working Mamas:

    2 of 3:   If the choices are narrowed down to “more Money” vs. “more Quality time with the Kids”, which would be most important to you when deciding on whether or not to take a new job???

    3 of 3:   I’d like to understand the threshold where you would select “more Money” instead of “more Quality time with the Kids” when deciding to take a new job.   How much of a raise would you absolutely require to accept a position, where the tradeoff is less quality of time with your kids (recognize that increased income could still improve their quality of living, but, they would have less time with you).  Would the new job HAVE to give you at LEAST a raise of:

    Life is about tradeoffs – earning money for your family to have and do nice things is wonderful, but spending quality time with your children is obviously important as well.   I think the difficulty really sets in when you feel like your life is seriously out of balance; this balance threshold differs for each woman and given each different and distinct situation.   We are all unique Mamas In Motion and I’m sure we will see this in the poll results.   Thank you for participating!

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