Random Thoughts: Organizing, and Donating to Extended Family non-profit

Hi there.   Quick note to let ya’ll know that I am still here.  It has been a long time since I’ve posted anything.

Maybe it’s because there’s just a lot going on.   Maybe because I’m finding other outlets to feel good about myself.  Maybe because I’m emotionally drained thinking about the past few weeks of tragedy – that in CT as well as one that touched my daughter too closely (remember my post about her 4-year old “classmate” in her daycare center that fell ill and died).   She talks about this still, asks questions, and yes, she breaks down and sobs about death and loss.  She has felt loss this year in other ways as well.

So, I just have not been writing as much.

But I’ve been having fun with the kids.   I’ve given and received more hugs and kisses to/from them than I ever thought possible.   I’ve been excavating my backyard and building my winter garden.  I’ve been getting ready for Christmas and am looking forward to making it special for the kids this year.   I’ve been cooking.   I’ve been organizing and shedding.   Going through closets and purging.  It feels good.  Feels good to get organized and make room.

An organized closet

During this process I collected quite a bit of usable, good clothing that others could get use out of.  I wanted to find homes for old suits that have been hanging around in my closet for longer than I care to admit.  I started a search to find a non-profit that directly benefits working mothers – and I found exactly what I was looking for.

Check out Extended Family.   Essentially they are a non-profit that assists single, working parents who are in need.   Unlike many other non-profits, 100% of all donations go to the single working parents and families in need – the organization does not fund its overhead with your donation – it is operated by volunteers and lead by Mark Carmer who backs the organization with his own money.   Look at their site, they do a much better job at describing themselves than I can.

According to Mark Carmer, Founder and President of Extended Family,

“We assist single parents who are truly alone and have no assistance from the other parent. These single parents are employed and working hard for their families, but find it’s still not enough.

We have found that single parents who are employed, in an effort to improve the lives of their children, often fail to qualify for government or charitable assistance… because they are earning an income.  Extended Family believes these are the people who should be supported the most.  We believe in helping those who are working hard to help their family, but are alone in doing so… and need a little help from Extended Family.”

Quite impressive, huh??!?!?!??!?    I quickly packaged up my piles of suits and shipped them off to Mark at Extended Family.   I am confident that they will find good homes for them.


So, now I feel much better that I’ve written something.  And something that hopefully you can act on – if you are in search of a great non-profit to make a donation to before year-end, please consider Extended Family.

I may write another post before the end of the year, but I don’t want to promise anything.   In which case, be merry with your loved ones and gear up for 2013!!

Best to all –

– Mama K

December 4: Happy Birthday Coparent

Today was a good day at work.   I had a face-to-face meeting with a client so was dressed up to impress.  We had a good meeting.  I had a good, productive, rest of the day.

But it was emotional for a part of the day.  Today is co-parent’s birthday.  I remember when he turned 40, I gave him 40 gifts (seriously) over a span of 1 week.  This time last year however, he was preparing for divorce without my knowledge.  And today, I am living apart from  him in a different home and our four children are caught in the middle of so much.  Tonight was their night with him – so he had the opportunity to celebrate with his kids.

We have been fighting over custody, over schedules, over where these kids are going to school, community property, separate property, accounts, real estate, cars….. And I have been so angry feeling like a crusade that I started when Big Bro was born to live a simpler life in a community with great school districts has fallen on deaf ears and caused the downturn in our marriage.  But, what done is done.  The past is the past.  We have been through pain and I have cried too many tears over the past two years in particular.   We are still in the process of divorce and I just want this to be done with.  I’m done.  I’ve had it.  I want it over.  I want to move forward.  I want each of us to move forward and make sure that our kids are happy and have what they need, what they deserve.

So, happy birthday co-parent.  Let’s try to get this done with.   Please be reasonable and respectful of me and I will be the same to you.  Let’s move forward without too many more scars.  Our kids will be better off if we are able to do that with one another.

And now, a plug for a GREAT service that I used today:  TaskRabbit.com.    Think Craigslist but with a captive audience of pre-screened “rabbits” that will do your task for you.  I used them in the past to build a Home Depot shed for me.  I used them tonight to deliver 8 helium balloons to co-parent’s house (our old house) tonight for his birthday party with our four kids and a close friends/neighbor’s four kids as well.  I called there and the party seemed to be in full swing with the kids fighting over the colors of the balloons.   I should have ordered only one color.  Oh well.


PLEASE TRY OUT TASKRABBIT AND USE PROMO CODE:  PAL294191 FOR A DISCOUNT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, life goes on with ups and downs, with celebrations and scars, but also with help and support.   I guess the trick is to seize the happy moments knowing that there will be scars to come – but hoping nonetheless that you can get through them and come out on the other side stronger than where you started.

Til tomorrow –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Give it a second chance

If you’ve been reading this regularly you know that I have thrown myself into a new hobby:  gardening.  This is understandable for many reasons.  I’ve been craving a home of my own, a place where I can establish myself and my family in a community, tearing out the old decay from a massive yard and the planning to rebuild and cultivate and grow.   This is also something completely within my control.  If I see a weed, I pick it from the root and it is gone.  If I want to design or plan or hatchet dead branches, I do it and I only have myself to answer to.    So, this new hobby is not too surprising to me – I am enjoying myself despite by pathetic summer crop.

Yes, I tried strawberries, blackberries, blueberries.   All eaten by varmin in the area.  Once I got smart enough to solve the problem with bamboo stakes and deer netting, the season had passed.    My neighbors came over with corn-stalk seedlings.   And these actually grew.  And grew BIG.  Each with several ears of corn.

I would water this corn religiously.   The kids also took part in this duty.   We picked the corn together.   It looked a little suspect, but I was still hopeful.

At dinner, we all bit into our bounty.   And…. it sucked.  Royally.  Even my 2 1/2 year old son who eats dirt, hated this corn.  I didn’t blame the kids.  It was pasty.  It tasted like nothing.   It looked like “Three-Mile-Island corn”.  I cursed at the price of corn in the supermarket (dirt cheap) and the fact that I spent so much time and hope on such a poor crop of anything.

But after dinner, instead of tossing into my compost pile, I decided to cut the corn from the cob and give it a second chance on my own.

Afterwards – I had 3 amazing meals:

  • a corn, black bean and cheese burrito for lunch (delicious)
  • a rice, black bean, and corn combo (used above) over a kale salad
  • brussel sprouts, corn, and kale sautéed with white wine

ALL OF THESE DISHES WERE AMAZING!   Could I have been imagining it?  Yes.  Could my hope been masking the pastiness of the corn?  Yes.  Is it the fact that I buried the corn in other more flavorful foods?   Possibly.   BUT:   Take note.  I ate the corn, and I honestly enjoyed it.

So is there a point to this story?

Give things a second chance.  Take a break and walk away for another day when you have a fresher perspective.  Be persistent but lenient when needed.  Be hopeful.   Or maybe, just drink a lot of white wine.

I hope you all have a terrific week –

– Mama K

June 14 & 15: Settling in

June 14:

Thursday.  Big day.  Child custody evaluation, which was strange.  Outside of that, the day consisted of me with the kids but an evening alone, after dropping them off at co-parent’s house.


  • We woke up to a chicken at our back door.  I think it was looking for breakfast.  There is no way we are going to start giving away food to this chicken.  I have enough mouths to feed.
  • Custody evaluation… strange.   I was myself.  What more can I do?
  • Afterwards, Twin Crazy and Twin Husky napped.  Big Bro and Red were exploring and creating art with sidewalk chalk and water.   They REALLY got into this activity.
  • Twin Crazy and Twin Husky woke up from their naps and explored the water and “sidewalk chalk soup”.
  • The kids from next door came over and it was fun watching them play; then the chicken came over which added more life to the party.
  • I drove the kids back to their dad’s.  It was a long ride.   Twin Crazy hates her car seat.  Big Bro and Red both fell asleep on the ride.
  • I felt exhausted on the ride home.  I made myself dinner.  A grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a beer.  I sat on my front “porch” on my rocking chair.  I tried to relax.   I felt better after filling my belly.   I decided to start my evening watering routine and then started to pull out some weeds.  It felt good to pull them out.   I discovered I have crab-grass.  Lots of it.  It is tough and takes a long time to really get at it by the root.  I decided to get my gardening tools out and gloves and proceeded to attack my ground of the crab-grass.   It took so long just to cover one little plot.  So I decided to boost my esteem by weeding some of the easier weeds.  That made me feel a bit better.   I wound up weeding until the sun went down.   My neighbors (with the chickens) also garden at night so I kindof felt good with the company, hearing them talk on the other side of the fence.   I weeded until my hands were raw.  I filled an entire wheelbarrel of weeds.  Digging into the earth.   Pulling each one out with the root.   I can’t believe how many weeds I have and how this feels like a never-ending project.   But I don’t mind it….. yet.
  • I showered and had the best sleep ever.

June 15:

Friday.   My day off.  But I didn’t have the kids today.  Today was co-parent’s Child Custody evaluation.  I decided to work a bit to keep my mind off of the divorce and also to get some real work done since this entire week was consumed by personal things.   It was difficult for me to work.   I did, but accomplished just a tiny bit.   The ADT security guy came and now my house is secure.  That feels good and it also felt good to have some company in the house while he was working.   After he left I tried to work more, talked to my mom and dad; I felt a bit down so took a nap.

Afterwards I grabbed a snack and decided I needed to get out of the house and also accomplish something that needed to get done for the house.  I headed to Best Buy to set up Geek Squad installation of my TV and sound-system.  They will come on Sunday.   I don’t watch a lot of TV but am excited about getting it set up.  If everything is hooked up properly (which is why I outsourced it to Geeks), I will be able to hook up my iPod, iPhone, etc. and get my music through the system/surround sound too.  The TV is also Internet-enabled so I will be able to explore Pandora.  This is all new to me.  I’m excited about getting into music again.  It makes a big difference.

So, I headed home feeling good.  I drove through the neighborhood and felt happy.   I ate dinner – another ham and cheese sandwich and a beer.   I told myself that I wouldn’t weed because my hand still hurts but I did anyway.  I talked to my chicken neighbors and asked about my wild raspberry plants.   I learned that the chickens love to eat weeds and I feed them.   I’m looking forward to introducing the kids to this new routine.   They will love the idea of picking weeds and then feeding the chickens.  I think Twin Crazy will actually explode with excitement.

Afterwards I showered and decided to work on my Internet, and also my printer/fax/copier/scanner.   I realized I need a power surge strip.  I have too many cords.  That will be on my list for tomorrow, after the washer and dryer gets delivered and installed.

My home is coming together.  I’m getting to know the neighbors more.  I enjoy the evenings outside and the warm air.  I don’t mind the weeding (for now).   I’m looking forward to tomorrow to get more of the house together, run some errands, and be reunited with the kids.   For some reason co-parent has a “work” event on Sunday so I will have the kids then.  On Father’s Day.   I hope Big Bro and Red are not upset about this.  I think they are too young but sometimes they surprise me.  

Have a great weekend –

– Mama K

May 10: The start…

Thursday is normally a day off, but I had meetings scheduled in the morning and also my Tuesday this week was all messed up so I took the kids into daycare today.

Highlights of the Morning:

  • Big Bro made an awesome plane and car out of new Legos and he is totally improvising and creating new things out of the materials. I love that creativity in him.
  • I mentioned to Twin Husky that I needed to change his diaper and put on some socks, which I had ready in my hand. But he took off, ran upstairs, and picked out socks. That was the good part. The bad part is that he started to throw the socks over the balcony/banister of the house and thought that was a lot of fun. So he went back for more. And then Twin Crazy came over when she heard his laughter and started doing the same.
  • Twin Crazy wanted to wear stockings but had trouble putting them on over her pajamas pants.
  • Big Bro left on his bike and the other three were running around a bush in our front yard.
  • During the Twin drop off they were interested in seeing a flag so I spent some time with them outside, looking at it.
  • I forgot Twin Husky’s shoes so had to swing back to the house to pick up a pair for him. They go on a walk at 10 AM so she needed them by then.
  • Red’s drop off was great except we forgot her purse. I was running late at this point so I asked her to be strong.
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    Highlights of My Working Morning:

  • I had an internal team call about the follow up we need to do for the client presentation and work we just completed. There is some more work but not much.
  • We then had a call with our partners on an effort we are trying to sell to 7 potential clients on Tuesday. We needed this meeting to get on the same page as to what we were offering and what each party is bringing to the table. This effort has started so long ago that the people around the table now (including me) are uncertain what the overlay and committed effort is for our partner. This is a problem but hopefully something we can figure out after talking with the clients on Tuesday.
  • We immediately went into a debrief call with the client regarding the meeting we just had. We received some feedback that will require serious re-working of the document and I simply do not have time. We promised them a revised Executive Summary for Monday but I cannot do it; I offered up commentary on two pieces which I will need to work on over the weekend and then send off to them.
  • I then sent out a survey for our sales call on Tuesday to get more background and expectations from the participants.
  • I then called it a day….
  • The Rest of the Day:

  • I picked up my keys to my house at 1:30 PM this afternoon. The sales agents gave me big hugs. It is hot out there and the grass is already turning brown so we notched up the sprinkler system. I opened the door and the place actually seemed much bigger to me. We talked for awhile but I was anxious for them to leave. When they did, I peed in my toilet (it works) and walked around. I called my mom. I took pictures. I don’t know how exactly I feel. I think a bit scared. I want so badly for this to be home and I guess I’m fearing that I’m pushing myself too hard. I walked out back and climbed the stairs and walked the grounds. I walked over to my neighbor’s fence and counted 9 chickens. Two came over and squawked to me. I looked around at the weeds. I’m not sure what to do with this backyard. I have some ideas but all are a bit unorganized…. moonlights, pulling weeds, citrus trees, blackberry bushes… I went back inside the house and took measurements of the walls of all rooms (except for mine) since I will need to get furniture. The refrigerator space. The washer dryer space. I can buy these things now. And bar stools. I’d like for there to be bar stools at the counter for when the kids come to visit next weekend. Everything else will be unfurnished but that’s OK. I somehow thought I would be happier…. liberated…. but I didn’t really feel that way. It will be a home, I know, but I feel cheated that I can’t share this feeling with anyone. I should have brought a friend or something. I emptied out the mailbox which was STUFFED with mail. Some of it for me. The mailbox is metal and kindof gross. I looked around at the other mailboxes. I need to add “mailbox” to my list. I knocked on 3 houses and introduced myself to one of the neighbors – who also recently bought and is officially moving in tomorrow. The house next door to me has “children playing” signs outside so that was very encouraging. When I went to the door I saw a pair of girls shoes probably Big Bro’s age or slightly older. I found that I was paying so much attention to how the houses were set up on the outside to make them feel inviting. Again I have some ideas with my front space too but I’m not exactly sure how to pull it together. I felt strange not having cried or anything. I thought I would. Why didn’t I? I wish I was experiencing this feeling, this “first time homebuyer” feeling with someone. I feel cheated for having to do this by myself. Now it feels like just another set of activities that I need to get done and squared away. I’m hoping that as things settle, as I feel like I’m stretching into my new space, that it will feel like home and I will get that sense of elation that I am hoping for. Please?!??!?!? I backed out of the steep sloping driveway without ANY incidents…. that must be a good sign. I headed to my next destination.
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  • The elementary school is zoned to a town in the area known for its excellent schools. I called in advance so they knew I was coming. I brought the Closing Statement and my license so Big Bro is registered there for the Fall. Our child custody mediator suggested to register the kids in both locations since we don’t know where they will be going. I asked her about pre-schools and got a list. That will be one of my projects over the summer. Scoping them out, inquiring over price, and seeing if there is a way to get Red and the Twins in the same pre-school. The Twins deserve that kind of environment and having one drop off for the three of them would be ideal. I have time to work on that. But again, I felt a bit lonely on the winding streets in this new area. I had much higher hopes for this next phase in my life and I feel disappointed that things went the way they did. But I cannot change people and I tried my hardest to be understood. I feel excited and sad at the same time. At peace but thinking about the things to do. Excited for the opportunity for the children but crushed about the impact on their feelings and sense of security. We are going to talk to them on Saturday morning about this and come clean with them. There is a part of me that want very much for this to happen since it’s hard for me to keep this secret from them. I feel so close to them but feel like a liar most of the time. So it will be good to “come clean” but I am going to see their faces when their worlds fall apart. I can see Big Bro’s expression and Red’s expression. I can see Twin Crazy and Twin Husky not really getting it, but then looking at the older siblings and then getting upset too. I need to keep it together for them. I remember when my mom told me about my parent’s divorce and I remember it very clearly. I was nine at the time, so older, but I have a feeling that these kids will somehow remember their feelings from this upcoming Saturday morning for many years to come. Even if they don’t remember the words, they will remember how they make them feel. I’m dreading that part.
  • I picked up take out BBQ and went through the mail while I was waiting for the food. It felt really strange to see other people’s names on the address. I feel like there’s so much that I don’t know about that house but it is mine and it will be my home. It’s been there for 70 years. Who’s lived there? Who else has called this place home? Was it a happy home? Was it filled with laughter?
  • I picked up the kids and Red had to go pee. We went at Big Bro’s school and had fun running across the stage acting silly. It was a good time and completely out of our normal routine which was fun.
  • We played with Batman and fed him a carrot. Big Bro wants to give him a choice of an apple, carrot, and orange and see which food he goes to first. Sounds like a fun experiment. Twin Husky almost flooded the kitchen again but I was listening for him and got to him before he started to play with the refrigerator water spout.
  • We played upstairs together; it was hot so I dressed the Twins in short PJs which was fun. I read to all four of them at the same time which I love to do. The Twins both in my lap cuddling up to me and Red on one side and Big Bro on the other. The best is when it’s time for the kids to kiss each other which they all do. Even the boys.
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    So I’m in the hallway listening to them sleep. There’s a part of me that will miss this house even though it represents the failure of my marriage. I will miss watching over the kids and yes, I will mourn the feeling of hopefulness I felt when I first moved in. That was 2 years ago and it seems like yesterday yet also a lifetime ago. There is also the packing process that I have not written about – it’s very emotional. Things and “stuff” that you sift through and keep and then the stuff that you decide to toss. I’ve been doing a lot of tossing. I don’t know if it makes me feel better or worse. Like the 100 or so “tea lights” from our wedding ceremony. And all of the RSVP cards that I saved. And the wedding cards that I saved. All tossed. At one time it all meant so much to me and I guess they still do – but I needed to rid myself of it all and not bring it forward into this next step. The only part of that that I want to keep and cherish and celebrate are the kids. Someone the other day replied to me when I told them I was with him for 10 years and they said “what a waste” and I was so offended. How could it be a waste when I have these four amazing kids? And I am stronger now. And I know more now. And I trust myself more now. I’ve learned what I can do and what I desire. And I know what to fight for. And there is more that will come and I need to experience it in its fullest. Even though it may very well be the ugliest that I have been through. But I know that I will come through and hopefully be a stronger, better, wiser person because of it.

    And that’s probably the most I’ve dwelled on me in a long time. I have to save up energy and strength for this Saturday morning.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    April 9: Greeted by a chicken

    What a day! My work and personal lives just blended together today. As such, as soon as I post this, I will need to get some work done….

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Twin Crazy made it to the potty in the AM
  • I asked each kid where they wanted me to kiss them. Twin Crazy/Twin Husky pointed to specific parts of their heads so I kissed them gently “Good morning” where they asked me to.
  • Twin Crazy wanted a hard boiled egg for breakfast. So Twin Husky wanted one too. They both eventually rejected them saying they didn’t like them.
  • I had to cut up some remaining vitamins since there were only 2 left. Red observed how the inside of the vitamin looks a lot different than the outside of the vitamin – “slippery” is I think what she called it
  • Twin Crazy was playing with a flashlight
  • All kids were ready fast (note: Big Bro and Red pick out their clothes and then get changed into their clothes the night before so that they are ready in the AM faster). I finished getting ready and all kids were in my room, playing with my beads and decorations. They were good when I asked them to put them away.
  • Since we were way ahead of schedule, we all went in the same van. We dropped of twins first, then big bro, then co-parent, then Red.
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    Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I had a property inspection scheduled for 9 AM. So I cranked up the music and headed out east. Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock-n-Roll” came on and I couldn’t help but smile. I felt on top of the world.
  • While I was at the house so many things happened for me to write about. I met more contractors. They knew who I was and knew my story. That mine was the lowest offer but it was the one accepted by the sellers because they wanted a family there who would appreciate the house. They knew I would be a single mother of four and that I loved the work they did. My inspector came and we walked the property. We were greeted by a chicken from next door. I did some work while the inspector was doing his thing. I heard voices and thought it was a neighbor but it was one of the sellers…. I looked at him, and he at me, and I just reached out and hugged him and thanked him. I told him how happy I was and how excited I was for the house and for my family. I found out that the general contractor is the seller’s father. So this has been a family project. I found out that the GC made the fireplace mantel, piece by piece. They had another prospective client come over to look at the work and he was so impressed… and he shook my hand and said congratulations and that the work and the house was beautiful. And then the second investor/seller arrived. I again hugged him and thanked him. We talked about the open house day and how I just walked in off the street, not expecting to see that house at all (the house I was going to was across the street). They were all there, and I breezed in and out in about 10 minutes…. thinking whoa this place is small but as I kept walking through it, I kept thinking… and as I walked around the grounds, I thought some more. And as I climbed the backyard stairs to the sitting area looking down, I thought some more. And went through the house. And decided that it was perfect. It took 10 minutes for me to decide that this totally renovated house zoned to the top-rated schools in the area in my pricepoint with the chickens next door and the sitting area on top of the hill was it. And now I’m almost there. Meeting the sellers, they are glad that I’m happy and I am thrilled that the inspector did not find anything that would be a deal-breaker!
  • I worked on a presentation
  • I had a conference call.
  • I bid farewell to my “sellers” and house and drove into the city.
  • I addressed many emails
  • I had a planning conference call
  • I had a team meeting for the client project
  • I spent time gathering and sending more documents to my loan officer for my mortgage.
  • I gathered an office desk and boxes and loaded up my van… headed home with the loot which will be my office when I move into my new house….
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    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Big Bro, then Twins. Twin Husky immediately got into the front seat and started to push all of the buttons. He pretended to drive. I gave him my keys and he wanted to start the car. We laughed and then picked up Red.
  • We made a fast dinner.
  • Red had some issues tonight with Big Bro. I had to sit them down and have them talk about what happened and Big Bro always leaves out crucial information to the story. I eventually get all of the facts but it is a challenge for me to get there.
  • Twin Crazy went poop in the potty and she received 2 M&M’s because of it.
  • I did a lot of hugging and kissing Twin Husky tonight. He looked so cute in his little blue shirt. I also had a lot of consoling time with Red tonight. Big Bro was being mean to her.
  • We watched a movie and had popcorn.
  • I had the Twins tonight and they were fun. Laughing and kissing and taking off their clothes and whispering “I….. love….. you…… Sweet dreams…..” So cute.
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    So now I’m downstairs, with my computer on my side and a list of things that I MUST get done tonight. This is such a busy week – Two big conferences next week, one other meeting that I am responsible for, and then a client final presentation the following week. Oh, and a divorce to go through and a House closing to manage. BRING IT ON!!!!

    I am so happy right now. I’m thinking of the things that I would like to do with the house and it’s the very first time that I’m thinking to myself that there is no rush. I will have all the time in the world. There is no rush to get things done. Because it is mine. And I will have the time to enjoy it. Savor it. Root myself. And call it Home. And create a Home for my family. Even though I’m so busy at work right now, I know it’s all going to be OK because I feel like I have my priorities in-line. And I understand myself. And there is no-one to battle anymore. I can take a deep breath and breathe.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    April 6: Seeing the fork ahead in the road

    What a day. I mean, what a day. I honestly cannot express in words what has happened in my life today. Life takes its twists and turns, and mine took a sharp turn today. For the better, I hope. I believe. I’m starting to see the end of a long journey for me, but I ache for my kids who still do not know what will soon happen to their worlds.

    Highlights of the Morning:

  • Big Bro woke me up today. He thought for some reason that it was Saturday, and asked if he could watch a movie. I said no and that I had to get up. He thought that was strange since it wasn’t 8:00 AM yet (they’re trained to know that I don’t get up until after 8 AM, we get them to entertain themselves while we get an extra hour). When I said it was Friday, he said, “Ohhh. I forgot.”
  • Red and I talked about dust yesterday. We could see the little speckles in the rays of sunshine in our kitchen. Today we saw them again, and Red and Big Bro were reaching out and catching them.
  • Twin Crazy and Twin Husky’s hair were still all greasy from the A&D. Despite Twin Husky’s two shampooings, he still looked like a guy who puts too much hair care product on. Twin Crazy just looked like a complete mess.
  • Twin Husky decided to take a snooze with his Tigers by his side.
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    We did all the drop offs together. Then co-parent and I had mediation meetings. The meeting was going really well. We were making progress. Decisions were being made. This guy is great. The best use of my money since this whole divorce started. And towards the end I realized that I had a voicemail. I called them back. It had to do with a property. I feel strange disclosing such a big event in my life but I was told on the phone, on the spot, THAT THE SELLERS ACCEPTED MY OFFER FOR A HOME PURCHASE!!!!! I almost started to cry on the spot. This is a big move in the right direction for me and my family. I found a very affordable (but small) home that is zoned to schools that are the best in California. Rated 10/10. With four children, these kids HAVE to go to public school and I am going to be a single mom soon. I have NEVER purchased my own home before and have been ACHING for this for so long. It is small but I love it. It is completely renovated and beautiful. I believe I can make a beautiful home there for the children and feel confident that I have placed and given them the opportunity to be the best that they can be in terms of their education. So keep fingers crossed that all goes well, if so, I will be a home-owner by the end of the month.

    Highlights of the Rest of the Day:

  • I told co-parent about the news and we actually went over there to look at it together. He of course thinks its small but nice. I know we have different priorities and appreciated that he did not completely shit on decision.
  • We picked up the kids and let them each have chocolate chip cookies as a snack before dinner. We picked up the Twins and all kids were outside together talking about their eggs, eating cookies, and looking at jelly beans.
  • We played with bubbles in the backyard for a bit and they were having fun catching bubbles.
  • Twin Husky shoved a pile of pasta into his face for dinner. I guess the kid was really hungry.
  • Big Bro was playing with one of those cheap parachute toys that you throw up in the air and he decided to make it stronger by reinforcing the middle to keep the parachute open. He asked for straws and tape. This kid is quite an engineer already and I am already excited about the possibility of his attending this amazing High School that I was able to grab!
  • Big Bro went outside with co-parent to wash the car and Twin Husky got too cold. He came in and got bundled up. I carried him upstairs for another bath and he was so cute all bundled up like a big fluffy marshmallow.
  • I had Big Bro and Red for bedtime tonight. They were great. I’m typing now in the hallway outside of their room so Red can go to sleep easier.
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    I had such a crazy day today. There is so much going on right now. Three conferences to continue to plan, 2 client projects to end, one divorce to still go through, and a loan process and purchase process to close all in the next two weeks!!!!!! OMG how will I be able to do all of this? And four kids….

    This is what I thrive on. I find it exhilarating. Making change for the better. Finally finding a place to call Home. Scoping out places for a garden. For lemon and orange trees to plant. For blackberry bushes to thrive. A place for growth. And comfort. And safety. Warmth. Peace.

    Well, along with four kids fighting and throwing toys all over the place. And falling down the hill and crying over skinned knees. But I can’t wait to reach for a band-aide in my own bathroom when it happens.

    Although I’m upset for the kids, knowing that their lives are going to soon be turned upside-down, I am excited for this new beginning for us. I will do as much as I can to make their experiences easier.

    Have a great weekend all
    – Mama K

    February 28: The first of many skinned knees

    Nutella “Chocolate Tuesday”!!!! There were no breakdowns this morning. All kids were cooperative and EASY!!!! I missed out on most of them last night since I had an appointment. I walked into the house into an eruption of “Mommy’s home Mommy’s home!!!”. I kissed and hugged each of the twins goodnight. Sweet dreams. I…. love…. you!!!! Big Bro was already asleep. Red was up and hugging me hard and smiling that I was home. I helped her with her teeth, read a book to her, tucked her in. She was smiling from ear to ear. I felt bad that Big Bro was waiting for me but fell asleep before I got there.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Red and Big Bro were already dressed and ready. Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were ready for chocolate! All kids were singing Chocolate Tuesday Chocolate Tuesday Chocolate Tuesday…. even the twins. They’ve really taken to this weekly tradition. Twin Husky was acting goofy again and smiling with the chocolate and was acting so cute.
  • I talked with Big Bro about him being the “leader” during the Motley Crew ride into school. He told me the assignments of the kids and the days of the week. He will be leader each and every Monday. I asked him how it went and he said “fine”. I asked him if he liked being the leader and he nodded yes but didn’t talk much since his face was full of Nutella tortilla.
  • We also talked about his new book for school – their homework is to read one book a night and they are easy readers. There is a set of them that are so cute because they are small and square and the pictures just crack me up. So this morning we were looking at the book and all the kids wanted to see the book and the picture.
  • I packed up Big Bro’s lunch and had to hide what I pack. Otherwise he throws a fit over something if he doesn’t agree with it and I just don’t need that kind of argument in the morning.
  • We were all ahead of schedule. Big Bro was waiting for us to tell him it was OK to go over to the Motley Crew street. Red was putting on her shoes and jacket. The twins put on their shoes (and Red helped Twin Husky). I gathered jackets and blankets and Tigers. We were ready. He was calling for me and told me good bye Mommy! We drove the van around the other part of our street circle so we could follow Big Bro over to the Motley Crew. I wish I would have taken a picture of his face. He was riding so fast and keeping up with the van and laughing and smiling and having fun being on his own.
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    Now I’m on the ferry and thinking about work and thinking about lawyer bills and how the hell are we going to get through this divorce without going broke. We honestly cannot agree on anything. Something that should be so rational becomes a power-play. I’m glad that there is a mediator involved since we will soon reach the point where she has authority to make the decisions on our behalf. We need to do the same on the financial front. We need to get that process started ASAP.

    I will be busy at work. I need to refine the materials that we will review with our client today. I need to work on the questionnaire for the surveys we will be doing and presenting on in April [top priority for today]. I have a status call for another forum but I am not excited about it since we are not getting ANY traction. Lastly, I need to start reaching out to speakers for both forums since that takes lead time and I am concerned that I am running against the clock – we have two months to go and I need to get the draft agendas together ASAP.

    I’m looking forward to being in our new office. What’s for lunch today???!!?!?!?!?

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    OMG so busy!

  • The walk to the NEW office was great. Lots of people, walking by stores, restaurants, activity. And bars! Irish Bars!!! Yeah! I took a picture and later emailed it to the entire 15-person office.
  • I led a meeting with our partners on go-to-market activities for a potential new forum. I suggested just picking a date and a place for a “formation meeting” that way we can go forward more forcefully for participation. We could also go-to-market with the meeting date and place more prominent and talk about who has already committed to further prompt interest. I asked one of the newer people on the team to look at our existing materials to see if the message could be made more compelling.
  • I then switched gears and focused on deliverables for our client meeting today at 2 PM. I reviewed, edited the discussion document with our preliminary findings and also refined the interview guide (our first interview is tomorrow). They loved the work so far. We have to keep them liking our work….
  • I spent time doing outreach for another forum we are trying to launch.
  • I also spent time refining the survey instrument for one of our meetings in April. We need to get that done and fielded so we can have 2 presentations underway.
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    It was very busy, I felt very productive. And I am happy to be headed home. I have fish defrosting in the refrigerator and a lemon on hand so I am expecting a great dinner. Can’t wait to hug my kids and make up for lost time!

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Big Bro first. I stayed by the van as he ran down to the other side of the school to pick up his bike and ride it back. I watched him run away from me, but he stopped two or three times to look back in my direction. There was a period of one or two minutes where he was out of my sight. Getting his helmet on, getting on his bike, and riding through the playground (probably in loops) and through corridors on the outsides of buildings and weaving in and out…. and then he came into my sight. He is AOK and having fun. He was having so much fun that he wouldn’t stop riding. He just kept going and going despite my calls to him. So when he approached at full speed I jumped in his path (big mistake). We crashed and he wound up with a scraped knee.
  • It was a loud ride over to pick up the Twins. And still a loud ride when going over to get Red. We were quick so we could get him taken care of back at home.
  • At home, all kids got shoes and jackets off; I quickly threw on some rice and put the almost defrosted salmon in the microwave to thaw. Then I tended to Big Bro – cleaning his scraped knee, putting on ointment, and then helping him with a huge bandaid and tape around the edges. This is his war wound. We both apologized to each other.
  • Dinner was great. Red ate most of the salmon. Big Bro was able to eat. Twin Crazy was showing us her belly. Twin Husky is in his “throwing” stage and he just kept throwing food, to our dismay.
  • After dinner I cleaned up and then got Twin Crazy changed into PJs.
  • Then it was time to get upstairs…. I got Twin Husky changed while kissing his belly and having him jump into the air and giggle.
  • I then took care of Big Bro and Red, per their request. It was a good night. They were both cooperative. We talked a lot.
  • I’m in bed now, feeling tired – feeling like I have a lot to do on a personal front but feeling like I just don’t have the energy in me to attend to it. But I should. So I will. I’ll call it a night for now.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    February 21: The Little Blue Engine that could?!?!?!?

    Tuesday – after a long weekend – so this will be a super-short week for me. I don’t know if that is good or bad, since I am busy at work these days. It was a great morning until “the blow-out”….

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • I walked into the Twins room and they were just waking up; Twin Husky was sitting up sucking his thumb with his Tigers, and Twin Crazy was hidden in her crib underneath a pile of blankets (the house was freezing this AM). They were quietly talking and mumbling and being sweet. I went to Twin Husky first since he seemed more awake. He was talking about the pile of books and the choo-choo train. Then Twin Crazy started talking about the train that was “broken” and how the other trains needed to “help”. I’ve been reading “The Little Engine that Could” to them in an abbreviated format, talking about how the one train is broken, and how THIS train doesn’t help, and THAT train doesn’t help, and THAT train doesn’t help (he’s too tired), but the happy little blue train helps. Well, Twin Crazy while in her crib suddenly becomes so fixated on retelling that story to me and she was so concerned about the train that was broken and I re-assured her that eventually the little blue happy train helped. We spent the next 15 minutes talking about this, all through their diaper changes, and getting ready to go downstairs. It was so cute. So cute how they feed off of each other and so cute how focused she can be so early in the morning.
  • Chocolate Tuesday! Twin Crazy and Twin Husky ran into Big Bro and Red’s room, talking about Chocolate Tuesday and about the train that was broken.
  • Big Bro and Red both wanted me to carry down their piles of clothes for them. They were excited about chocolate.
  • All kids downstairs were thrilled for chocolate tuesday. Fingers in the chocolate, chocolate all over faces. (I’m talking about Nutella for those that do not know – don’t worry, I don’t feed Hershey’s to the kids in the morning).
  • All bags were already packed and ready – jackets ready to go. We just had to get kids fed and Big Bro/ Red dressed. It all seemed easy.
  • I instant messaged our neighbor to confirm that Big Bro could ride his bike with them this AM. He got mad at me because he wanted the message to read “today and everyday”. So I had to resend a message since he went on strike and would not eat his breakfast otherwise. He was mad at me but then got over it. He got dressed very easily.
  • Red was next. She was doing great until we got to her shirt. She picked out a short sleeved shirt the night before, but the house was freezing this AM so when she put the shirt on she rejected it. I picked out 3 different long-sleeved shirts but she wanted a shirt that was in the laundry. So she rejected the 3 long sleeved shirts. At this point, we only had TWO drop offs (since Big Bro was outsourced to the neighbors) but believe it or not we were running late. So we decided to divide the drop-offs. Red still refused to put on a shirt. I threatened for her to just wear her jacket. Then her shoes were not in the designated place so I had to run around and try to find her shoes. That is something that just shouldn’t happen. All of the shoes should be in their place. With eight feet to get ready, we can’t afford the time in the morning to look for ONE pair of shoes. She knew I was mad so cooperated the rest of the time. She got on a shirt, got on her jacket, got into the car without a problem. Her drop off was fine, but she was clingy.
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    I am so frustrated today. Frustrated that I had a partner that just accepted this kind of routine. Frustrated that I did not have the support from him. Frustrated that we couldn’t turn to each other when things with the kids were hard. Frustrated that as a couple we could not get to a better place because of inertia and fear. I can’t wait to get through the next few months in this house.

    I’m on the ferry right now and am still typing fast and hard at all of this. It is foggy. I don’t like that I have to rush for this ferry. I don’t like that I have to commute to the city away from the kids. I don’t like this situation right now. I need to get out of this “temporary” abyss that I am in. I need to re-start my life.

    Work will be busy today. We have a client touchpoint today on the project we just started so I’ll need to connect with the team and figure out what we can share with them. I also need to get out a planning survey for one of our forums so I can start to plan out the Agenda and secure speakers. I also need to reach out to secure primary interviews for another project I am assisting on. I also need to see survey results from the other forum I am planning to see what topics I should focus on. Finally, I need to pack up my office – our office is moving over the weekend and today will be the only day I can physically pack up my stuff. Looks like I need to re-calibrate my “to-do” list above. It will be difficult to execute against all of it today.

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    OMG I was so busy today. I almost did not stop for lunch, but this was the last day in the office for me so my “last lunch” was a bit of a momentus occasion – I got a huge turkey sandwich with REAL roasted turkey. YUM.

  • I was able to work with the research house we used before to get the old survey tools used for previous survey work we did in 2009 and 2010; we want to do the same customer surveys this year and feature the results during our meeting in April. So, I will need to work with these materials and modify to get the survey ready for this year.
  • I met with a team member to talk about the progress and initial results of his work related to our client project. I separately met with another team mate to understand available secondary research to help with the consumer preferences part of our work. I packed both sets of materials and sent to the client; we met with them in the afternoon to discuss progress and they seem really happy to-date. After the call, I talked with each of the team members about my expectations for the next Tuesday’s client call – what I wanted us to provide to them and if it was doable. They both have their marching orders so hopefully we will stay on track. I’ll check up on them on Friday and again on Monday to get the materials ready for the Tuesday client meeting.
  • I had a quick update meeting for the other initiative we are meeting for in April; I sent out some more invitations and also set up some conference calls to go over the purpose of the meeting and gauge interest.
  • I sent out the Zoomerang survey to help plan for one of the forums in April. This will help to identify which topics are of interest and how I can structure the Agenda into “tracks” so that we are presenting on topics that are of interest to the group(s).
  • I then spent several hours going through 8 years of files and packing. It was difficult for me. A part was extremely cathartic – getting rid and purging old work that I know I will no longer need. But there were many memories that flooded me — pictures that the kids drew over time, pictures of the kids as babies, spare diapers, old clothes, personal paperwork that brought me back in time. Maternity leave paperwork, health reimbursement paperwork, research of cities and their affordability and strength of public schools, copies of my marriage certificate, pictures of colleagues who passed away entirely too young. 8 years were compressed into 4 moving boxes. And these included “junk” of mine too…. rubber chickens, a favorite lamp for soft lighting, and lots and lots of photographs. I’m looking forward to a new office building. New faces. A new neighborhood. New lunch spots, new watering holes. A new breath. A new start.
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    So now I’m on the ferry with my normal shoulder bag but also with a roller bag of other personal paperwork. The sun is out. It’s beams are reflecting off of the waves and are flickering on my table. It is pretty, and relaxing. Maybe this is a sign that things will be better for me going forward. I’m hoping so.

    I have a pot-roast and chicken defrosting in the refrigerator. I think we’ll do the potroast tonight since it will be faster – with some pasta and veggies. I want to talk to Red tonight about this morning and how I felt mad but that we still love each other. Family members sometimes get mad at each other but it is OK to feel mad. It’s what we say, what we do, and how we communicate that is important – and that we all understand that we still love each other.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Big Bro and he was encircled by several girls, each writing the names of different boys on their notepads and putting “stars” next to each of the boys’ names. They said Big Bro has the most starts because he is such a good boy. A quiet boy. A nice boy. One of them even went over to him and hugged him. she was cute with long hair. He blushed.
  • He walked the long walk to get his bike and he rode it back to the van. I watched him as he walked and then ran away from me. He stopped once to look back to see if I was still there. I couldn’t help but feel a bit lonely then, but also proud of the person he is becoming.
  • We picked up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky next. They were both going on a walk and were very concerned that I was going to pick them up without their second sets of lovely blanket and Tiger. I assured them we would go back and pick everything up.
  • We all went to pick up Red next. Red had some issues on the way out. She refused to walk. So all of us were standing there and she wanted me to pick her up but I just wouldn’t do it. I can’t do it. I’m too old for this. We eventually made it out with her walking on her knees and crying the whole way out.
  • I made dinner – a Trader Joe’s pot-roast, shredded cheddar cheese, warmed tortillas, broccoli/string beans, and a can of black beans — while the kids played. They played with plastic balls and Legos and pots and pans.
  • Dinner was really good and really easy. The kids ate well. Afterwards there was an issue with Big Bro and Red – he pushed her so I sent him up to his room. He kept coming down so I told him firmly that he needed to stay in his room and play quietly with something – Legos, books, anything. He kept it up and eventually I sat with him upstairs and he read to me – his homework for the night. He was fine from then on out. He read me his book, and then we were greeted by Twin Husky. He played with some magnets and then also with Big Bro’s Legos. Then they both played Legos and were really cute together.
  • I called down to Red to have her come up. I was on for their bedtime tonight. She came up without a problem and bedtime routine with both of them was really very easy. We picked out the clothes they want to wear for tomorrow. However… Big Bro has refused to sleep in his bed and is now on my bedroom floor. And now, as I type, I hear Red crying through the monitor for “mommy”. I can’t take this. It’s too hard to see this right in front of me. Let me go and check in on her.
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    I sat with her and rocked her for 15 minutes. I tried to put her in bed. She rejected it. Demanded her pillow and her doll. We came downstairs and I attempted to set her up next to Big Bro on my bedroom floor. She rejected that. She is pissed. And rightfully so. She wants her own bed but she wants Big Bro there too. She doesn’t understand. I don’t know what to do for her, for our kids in this situation.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

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