November 8: Back to my new normal

Thursday is my day with the Twins and early pickups with Big Bro and Red.
Things I loved about today:

  • Waking up to Twin Crazy and his “Zebra” and having me kiss he Zebra on demand to his feet, ears, nose, etc. etc. etc.
  • Chocolate Thursday for breakfast, the kids happy, Cocoa sitting on the ottoman, and the fireplace on.  Two huge cups of coffee and feeling really good for the drive to Big Bro’s school
  • The soft rain outside, the smell of the trees, and the smell of someone’s fireplace. I feel like I am in a ski town now
  • How Big Bro and Twin Husky were doing great together today sharing balls; Big Bro was amazing with him today
  • Finding Red snuggled on the couch with Cocoa when I thought she was still sleeping in the van from the drive home
  • Dealing with Twin Husky after he found his rainboots; then Twin Crazy found hers. They were wearing them ALL DAY LONG and loving it
  • Having a little potty in my van; Twin Crazy needed it on our drive back to our house
  • Tickling Twin Husky and hearing his laugh
  • Pulling weeds and feeding the chickens with the Twins; feeling how soft the ground is and how easy the weeds come out with the root; the smell of the ground and the chill in the air and the clovers and green grass growing everywhere
  • Receiving unsolicited kisses from Twin Husky and then Twin Crazy when I tucked them in for their naps
  • Seeing Big Bro after school looking REALLY well rested; I had him sleep in as long as I could (7:30) so he got close to 12 hours of sleep last night. I could tell that it did him good today – he was so well behaved, fun, and so good with his brother/sisters
  • Doing homework with Big Bro after we got home
  • Playing kickball with a huge blue ball with the kids after getting home; Big Bro laughing and then gagging and then throwing up after the laughter. “I’m glad there were no other kids here”.
  • Having some neighborhood kids come over and kick the ball around, and then play Legos with the kids; watching Big Bro with his new best friend laughing on the top bunk of his bed as I took pictures of them
  • Seeing Twin Crazy and Twin Husky dancing non-stop when I turned the radio on in the van
  • How Big Bro is taking showers now in my room and is completely independent for this type of care
  • Seeing Red wash Twin Crazy’s hair; she is a wonderful big sister
  • Seeing Red’s beautiful ringlets of curls spiral around her face after her bath
  • Hearing Big Bro read the “book” that he created called “The Five Little Pumpkins”. How he created the book after dinner, and then offered to read it to everyone during bedtime routine
  • Flipping the girls each into bed and hearing their squeals
  • Having the kids go to sleep peacefully as soon as I tucked them in








The kids were WONDERFUL today; I am HAPPY and relaxed. I’m looking forward to the Fall in this new home with them.

– Mama K

Staying Sane: CHEAP creative arts

This past week I was thrilled/astonished/surprised/amazed to find a blow out sale happening at the daycare center where we take Red and now Twin Crazy and Twin Husky.  They are completely renovating the space, and they are going “room by room”, ridding themselves of old, battered toys by selling them at HUGE discounts to the parents.

I couldn’t stop myself all of this week.  If I would have been faster and earlier, I would have wound up with so much more… but alas…

Anyway, I’ve always been a big fan of creative arts activities for the kids.   I’ve done this ever since Big Bro was a baby.   There comes a point where kids just get bored and cranky and they need something to do.   The kids would walk around saying “activity”, “activity”, and I knew I had to grab something to occupy them for 30 minutes or so.  I’ve had bins and bins of all kinds of things for kids – mostly generated from ideas I’ve stolen from daycare centers.

Some ideas:

  • playdough, or even make playdough with the kids to save money and have a different kind of fun
  • stickers (I grab these whenever I see them on sale.  I even save return labels given to you from charitable organizations)
  • water color, finger paint, sponge paints
  • scissor fun, cutting, cutting out shapes or pictures in old magazines
  • planting seeds
  • puzzles
  • blocks
  • stamp sets
  • tattoos
  • glue sticks, glitter, confetti
  • painting t-shirts with fabric paints

But now I also have deep discount toys (e.g., $2 a bin!!!) to add to!!!!  This week I purchased:

  • bingo with “sight words” ($2)
  • pattern wooden puzzle — all of the shapes are the same and fit together, but the designs are different ($2)
  • Lego-like set ($2)
  • plastic shape sticky velcro thingie set ($2)
  • Plastic connector thingies to build ($2)
  • wooden jenga-looking like thingies ($2)
  • 1 felt board ($2).  I’m planning on using this as a big activity for the kids.   Cutting out shapes and objects from colored felt and letting them use their imaginations with the shapes and designs on the felt board

And there will be much more over the next several weeks….  🙂    Yes, the stuff is battered.  Yes, some of the pieces look like they have been chewed on or are missing parts.   But they are new to these kids.   And they are good toys to help them learn how to put things together, create something from nothing, work together, and yes…. negotiate with each other for the right pieces.
I guess the point is that these kinds of things are great for kids and parents alike.  You can sit down with your child and play, or take a break and watch them play with each other, or watch them parallel play.   It’s all good.   I spent time doing a bit of all three this weekend.

  • When the kids arrived for their visit last night, I had some of these new activities set out for them and away they went… immersed.   I played with Big Bro with “sight word” bingo while Twin Crazy and Twin Husky built things and played with puzzles.

  • This morning all of the kids were fully entertained by themselves.  They were building “roads” with the pattern puzzle and cars with the blocks and using other toy cars.   Big Bro was directing the play, of course.  But they were all playing together and there were lots of sounds of pretend cars zooming around the house.  And I got to sleep in a bit and hear them play from outside of my room.

  • And this afternoon, I do not kid you, I had the neighborhood kids over and I’m not kidding, but including mine there were 10 kids here.  All playing EXTREMELY well and using their imaginations and playing together.  And the little ones were learning from the big ones.   And as the kids played I cleaned up the kitchen and did laundry, just watching and laughing at their fun.

It was actually relaxing.  Yes, relaxing.  10 kids.   Believe it or not.   AND CHEAP.

So I guess the recommendations are to 1) buy in bulk when you see things on sale; 2) keep stuff stored away for those times when you need to pull out something new to entertain the kids, either on their own or with you; 3) take advantage of hand-me-downs — a different toy is a new toy to your child, whether it is opened from a new box or taken out of a recycled bag; and 4) take advantage of the daycare blow out renovation sales, when you are lucky enough to stumble upon them….  🙂

Where do you ladies find good deals on creative stuff for the kids to do?  

Have a great weekend everyone.

– Mama K

March 20: Feeling too old for horsie-back rides

I’m tired this morning and I know that I have PLENTY to do at work – a good thing, I suppose.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Red had a really hard time going to sleep last night. But despite this, she is still the first one to wake up in the AM. She woke up at 6:20 AM calling for me, and I went to get her and brought her downstairs since it was soon time to get up anyway. She sat in my room and we talked. She saw the empty bowl of ice-cream sitting on my bedstand from last night and she totally caught me. “Hey, what’s that bowl of ice-cream doing over there?!???!?!”. She giggled when I told her that not only did I have ONE bowl of ice-cream last night, but I had TWO bowls….. we were both laughing together at that.
  • I showered while she hung out in my room.
  • Chocolate Tuesday! Kids were loving it. Chocolate Nutella was everywhere. Twin Crazy and Red were sharing a butter knife and picking the chocolate goodness off of the knife together.
  • Big Bro was still sleeping, but when I told him it was Chocolate Tuesday he smiled and said he forgot about that. And, he was able to ride his bike today. So, he had lots of good reasons to get up this morning. He agreed and rolled out of bed.
  • I gathered the extra socks that daycare requested. I also made myself instant coffee. I styled my hair and put on make up.
  • I diapered the twins and kissed their faces. I consoled Twin Crazy for something that upset her. I helped Red get dressed. Big Bro was anxious about riding and I kept a careful eye on my watch to let him know when it was OK to get ready.
  • Twin Crazy and Twin Husky had fun in the front seat of the van while we were getting our things together. Twin Husky wanted to sit in Big Bro’s car seat to feel like a big kid so I let him.
  • All drop offs were fine. We were ahead of schedule.
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    So now I’m on the ferry and still a bit tired, and extremely hungry. I’m looking forward to a real big coffee and maybe a chocolate croissant. I love my new office. There are so many things nearby – banks, drug stores, lunch spots, people. Activity. Movement.

    I will have a lot of work to do today but honestly I have 4 hours of back-to-back meetings. How do you get work done when your time is spent like this? And I know that there are to-do’s that will come out of these meetings so that just adds on the work load. Our forums our exactly one month away so this is crunch time. I have 5 presentations to personally prepare for and deliver during these forums, speakers to still secure, speakers to coordinate logistics, presentations to review, and communications to make sure occur between the participants and the presenters. In addition to this, I also have a client project to manage, and the end of the project will occur AT THE SAME TIME. Seems like too much, right? I agree.

    I am feeling good, I think that putting on nice clothes and having hair and make up done help. I feel like a person. I’m looking over at the ex on the ferry and his eyes are closed. Typical. I’m not missing anything from that relationship. So much about him was so hard to reach. So unknown. So much unsaid. I’m sure he feels but does not express and avoids any kind of conflict. He’d rather just close his eyes and dream it away.

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    Busy! Back in the office which was great!

  • I got in and responded to some emails
  • Conference call for a potential business opportunity
  • Internal meeting regarding our sales pipeline and initiatives; I gave all updates on what I’m pursuing and the team seemed energized on the opportunities
  • Meeting to sync with conference planning on one of the forums
  • Team meeting regarding to client project and other data to gather; billing and invoicing
  • I spent time with outreach to speakers and potential members. Will likely have to do some work this evening.
  • I’m tired, but looking forward to the kids. I hope tonight’s bedtime routine is not as bad as last nights.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Red first, then Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. Twin Husky wanted to sit in Big Bro’s seat. Twin Crazy was crying for her baby, whom she was missing all day today. We then went to pick up Big Bro, and then followed him (5 mph, with hazard lights on) along the slow streets to our house.
  • I cooked dinner and the kids were playing really hard together. Lots of laughing and no crying! No-one being mean!!! They were just having a really good time with each other!
  • Together we all took a short walk to the mailbox to get the mail.
  • After dinner I did some horsie-back rides with all of the kids; also some airplane rides and flips.
  • I was with Big Bro and Red tonight; we picked out clothes, read our books, and they were in bed by 8 PM. So far Red is not crying. So far so good.
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    I am so tired today. I feel crushed, physically and mentally. I feel like I need to relax but it is almost impossible to do so. Between big work meetings coming up, and things with the divorce, it is extremely hard for me to just decompress and unwind.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    December 30: Siblings Playing House while at Home

    Friday. My last day alone with all four of the kids during this winter break. We adventured yesterday, but today we woke up to rain and fog. No one felt much like going out. The kids wanted to stay at home and play. And I didn’t feel like arguing. Again it was a day watching the siblings interact with one another. Most of the day revolved around their playing with each other. Playing make believe. Caring for each other. There were some (many) tears, and a bloody lip, but all in all it was a great day filled with warmth and laughter.

  • The kids enjoyed decorating the back sliding glass door. I asked that the pieces be put up high so Twin Husky could not reach them and eat them. They worked together. Big Bro cut out the pieces on the plastic (unnecessary but he enjoyed doing it), Red peeled them off, and Big Bro and Red put them on the door. Twin Crazy also helped a bit.
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  • Big Bro and Red were teaching both Twin Crazy and Twin Husky about their new LeapPads. Both seemed interested, I think.
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  • Twins were jumping up and down like jumping beans, testing out their mattresses in their cribs before naptime. They were cracking me up and I took a video of it, but here’s a photo for now.
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  • After naps it was sooooooooooooo cute but all four of them were playing “house”. They had pillows and blankets on the floor, and Big Bro was Daddy and Red was Mommy – the Twins were the kids. And the twins were loving it!!! The parents kept checking on the kids, telling them it was night night, asking them if they wanted water, and Red was patting each of them on the back. It was too cute. When I asked Twin Crazy about the game later that night and asked who the mommy was, she indicated [Red]. Same thing with Daddy [Big Bro].
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  • I cleaned a lot today. We have not had a mothers helper in two days now. I was busy in the kitchen and also doing laundry all day. Picking things up and organizing around the house during the kids naps.
  • We took it easy with pizza for dinner. The kids watched some tv afterwards. Big Bro threw several tantrums about ice-cream. We didn’t give in.
  • I had a busy, physical day – lots of lifting of kids and consoling. It seemed like Twin Husky was crying most of the time when the kids were all playing. Twin Crazy is very aggressive and I think the poor guy (Husky) might be a bit mistreated by them. I think that’s why he’s resorting to biting (which also happened, or almost happened, today).

    I’m tired. Physically and emotionally. I’m looking forward to the end of 2011 but I fear that 2012 will be much harder on me and my family. I need to make sure the kids are cared for and know that they are loved. Not just say the words to them, but do what takes to make each of them FEEL it. KNOW it. BELIEVE it. Unquestionably.

    Til next week – and 2012!
    – Mama K

    December 14: A lllllloooooonnnnnnngggggg Day

    Wednesday. I usually work a 1/2 day from home. This was not one of those days. A meeting with a potential client could only be scheduled for today at 4 PM (we’ve been trying to schedule it unsuccessfully up til this point) so since I had to have the meeting at 4 PM, I decided to keep all kids in daycare/after-care and simply put my head down and get work done. But it started early, and it ended late – it’s 9:30 PM right now as I try to pull this post together.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • Woke up extremely early since I had a 8 AM conference call scheduled with a client. I ran to the shower and tried to boogie to get myself together.
    • Red came into my room and was so cute how she was playing with her Christmas confetti from yesterday. She was treating each piece like it was gold. She spread all of the pieces out and then sorted them by color, then by shape, then made shapes out of the pieces…. all the while treating each piece carefully and not losing track of any of her treasure. It was so sweet how meticulous she was and how enraptured she became of the pieces and the games she was creating with the pieces. She’s getting savvy with me and my phone camera so refused to smile for a picture so I decided to capture her only her treasure in a photo, alone.
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    • I tried gently to get Big Bro up. He is not a morning person. The poor guy is always so tired in the morning; I’m convinced that this kid still needs an afternoon nap. In fact on weekends, he can nap for 4 hours without a problem (except getting him to fall asleep) on a Sat or Sun. The poor guy. I gathered clothes for Big Bro and Red, and then asked him to come downstairs with me and hold my hand. That seemed to work. I’m trying to be extra-sensitive to the “mommy-time” I give to each kid.
    • Once downstairs, the concept of a child’s “treasure” intrigued me. So I wanted to capture Twin Crazy’s treasure of thumb-sucking blankets and her bears that she needs for comfort, as well as Twin Husky’s “tiger” (he has two, one tiger and one white leopard). I was successful at capturing Twin Crazy, but she figured out her zippers so she is 1/2 clothed. As for Twin Husky, he started to unzip his PJs too but you can’t see it – the picture is awful because he was playing hard-to-get with me. But nonetheless, here are the Twins with their “treasures”.
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    • For Big Bro, I really didn’t capture any of his treasures but I can talk to them. He is very particular and an extremely opinionated and loyal child to his treasures. His Hess line of toy trucks, airplanes, race-car and digger are some of his favorites. He also treasures his scooter and the freedom it gives him to ride to school with him up ahead of me, but me close-by and following his lead. He likes to collect things and organize them. He also is into beads lately. He keeps his smaller treasures in an old diaper wipe container, the plastic kind with the push-top lid. He needs to sleep with a big pink teddy bear (that was given to us when Red was born) and Bullseye, the trusted horse in Toy Story (I call him “that horsie-guy). And now I know what images I can share with you:
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    • We were very rushed this morning. Running around like mad trying to get kids fed, dressed, and out of the door in a reasonable time so Hubby could do the three drop offs, I could make my 8 AM call, and he could get to the ferry by 8:30. Thankfully my phone was on and I noticed that my 8 AM call was pushed to 8:30; So I gathered Red, and Hubby gathered Big Bro and the Twins, and we were off. There was no way Hubby would have ever made it if my call was not pushed back. Tension was high particularly between Hubby and Big Bro — being rushed while tired is not a good combination for the little guy.
    • Red’s drop-off went great. Her performance at pre-school is tomorrow where they sing songs for the parents. I encouraged her to sing real loudly so that the back wall can hear her. I told her I was proud that she knows all of the words and am so excited for her – it will be a fun game for her and her friends to sing real loud and let the words just come out of their bodies. I hope she does OK….. this will be the first time for her in this sort of thing…..
    • I raced home and refilled my coffee, booted up my computer, and started to dial-in to the conference call that I was leading – hoping that my computer would get going already so I could access the key document that I need to have on hand….

    Highlights of My Working Day:

  • 8:30 conference call with a client to get feedback from our meetings; again, he offered good, practical suggestions to provide more value to him and likely the group at large.
  • 9:00 conference call with a potential partner who we may be working with to develop a new forum which we are pretty excited about. If it succeeds, it can be a game-changer in the industry. This person called me so we could talk about what the day could look like and what story needs to be communicated to get these potential participants to agree to collaborate and work together — if so, we create another forum for our firm, one which could actually get a lot of visibility in the market…. I really want and need this to happen. So will work hard to make this first meeting (hopefully in the Spring, aligned with our other forums) a success.
  • 10:30 conference call with a Director about logistics, hotel deposits, and how much we are willing to “invest” in the above mentioned effort should our participation rate be lower than expected. Sounds like we have a good plan.
  • In between meetings I started pulling meeting minutes together from our last forums – these really should have been done much, much earlier but I got side-tracked on the one-on-one debrief sessions with our clients. I get much more charged out of speaking with clients and getting frank feedback to make things better, versus putting boring meeting minutes together. But they are important. And must be done. Soon. So I started on them.
  • Had breakfast/lunch. Soup and leftover cous-cous from the night before.
  • 1:30 conference call with a client; he wants more specifics and detail in the deliverable I sent to him, which will require more time – I thought about the extra time and decided to make him happy. I’d rather have a happy client versus one that is disgruntled, especially if it is only going to take me 4-6 extra hours of work. I can deal with that. I mobilized an Analyst to help me with some of the tactical things of converting PowerPoint content to Excel and then I started fleshing out one area of the deliverable to send to the client to see if the further detail was what he was expecting. Hopefully he won’t require much more. If he is OK with it then I will finish of the work with him next week.
  • 2:30 conference call with a Director and an Analyst to talk about a proposal we are completing. We got the Analyst to start pulling the proposal together based upon prior work that we did for the client 2 years ago. Essentially they want the same work but “refreshed” so she can leverage that first proposal as a starting point for us to review early next week.
  • 4:00 conference call with a prospective member of one of our forums. So it was a debrief session as well as a “sales” meeting. He cannot commit just yet, but needs more information from us; I invited him to come to our next meeting again as a guest to hopefully push him over the line. I need to convert these “guests” into real clients!!!
  • I was tired from the day. I didn’t eat much. I was tired and starving. I got the kitchen ready for cooking for when I came home with the kids. A pot of water was sitting on the stove, chicken nuggets were waiting in the toaster oven, the frozen veggies were sitting in a bowl in the microwave. All ready to go for when I arrived with four little ones…

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Red. She was busy with her friends and they were “reading” books. She was holding a book like a teacher with the pages facing outward and “reading” to her friends. I heard her little, loud voice from across the room. I couldn’t get my camera ready in time to take a picture though… pity – it was too cute.
  • The ride with Red was beautiful since the sun was setting. We pulled over to enjoy the view.
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  • Pick ups for the rest of the kids went fine; we looked at the holiday lights on the houses. I gathered all the kids inside and powered up the stove, microwave, and toaster oven. I was solo tonight since Hubby was out after work and I wanted things to go smoothly. All kids ate an enormous amount of food – I couldn’t believe it. I had to tell them to listen to their bodies and stop eating when you feel full. They were just going nuts. They started eating off of my plate – Twin Crazy, Big Bro, and Red as a joke but they kept going. It was seriously out of control.
  • After dinner they played around a bit while I started clean up; I also started to put together a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda for chemical-free cleaning. The problem was that I didn’t know the correct measurement. So the bottle seriously started to expand and almost explode. The tension inside of the bottle was fierce. I loosened up the cap and it was a volcano. The stuff was exploding through every single crevice of the bottle. I thought a small piece like a nozzle or something was going to fly off. Me and Big Bro were mesmerized by it. He thought of the volcano experiments we did in the summertime and both of us started laughing. We had a few squirts left of the cleaning mixture when all was said and done, and we had a good time explaining the story to our mother’s helper when she (finally) arrived.
  • I played with the kids. We did horsie-back rides. The kids were waiting in line on a chair waiting for their turn. This is the only exercise I get. Running around the house with kids on my back. They were really cute though all screaming for horsie-back rides (even the Twins, saying all three words) and waiting their turn.
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  • We then cleaned up all of the toys – I put each kid on a “job”. Twin Crazy was on balls, Big Bro was on folding blanket, Red was on kitchen toys, and Twin Husky was just wandering and trying to help but taking things out instead. The “responsibility boards” are working REALLY well – “pick up toys” is one of the things that we are tracking so all kids were eager to do this activity, with my guidance and encouragement….
  • Bedtime was a breeze with everyone. I felt like I really spent good, quality of time with each of the kids which helps out a lot. I took my time with them, read stories and kept the routine on track. Twins were asleep in no time. Bigger kids were completely cooperating with me – no tantrums, no power-plays. Teeth brushed, PJs on, responsibility board discussed and magnets given out, and books being read when Hubby came in. I spent extra time with Big Bro’s book talking about the characters and situations and their feelings. I asked him to talk about situations when he had those same feelings. This is hard for him to do, as his teacher discussed in our parent/teacher conference. I need to pull more out of him through story-time so that he can practice more and build his self-confidence so he can better participate at school. I’m really working on this with him and am hoping that he’s not “on” to me too much; I don’t want to pressure him.
  • After the kids were all in bed I ran to a neighbors house and grabbed some clothes for Big Bro and Red (thanks Mama L!!!). By the time I was home it was 9 PM. And I started this at 9:30 PM. And now I’m off to sleep!

    So it was a very busy day, but I really enjoyed getting work done while at home, and also enjoyed my alone time with the kids tonight. They were great – ate like champs, listened, and we had minimal fights tonight. I think I’ll get a good night’s sleep, which I will need for tomorrow….. a big day. Red’s performance. Yikes!

    Until tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    November 15: A hard night for some

    Today was a day of extremes – either the kids were belly laughing or they were screaming in rage. I either felt in control at work or I felt under the gun. And our routine was out of whack because of an early morning conference call. So, I’m glad that the day is almost finished.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • The kids were all up at the same time, and at one point everyone was in Big Bro and Red’s room. The Twins were excited. Red was in a great mood. Big Bro was sluggish. But it was Chocolate Tuesday!
  • I showered quickly and ran downstairs. I was going to take a conference call from home after the kids were already dropped off, and then drive to work — so I didn’t need to do anything with myself in the AM.
  • I helped to get the bags ready, clean up the Twins from oatmeal, dress Red, etc. It all happened very quickly and they were all out of there before I knew it.
  • I took a conference call at 8 AM from home. After the call, I quickly got myself ready and drove into the city.
  • I loved my commute to the city this morning. I remember blasting AC/DC — Dirty Deeds, and Highway to Hell. I got pumped up for the day. It felt good to be mobile. It felt good to me listening to this music and at high volume.
  • Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I had several other conference calls related to the same topic as the call from the morning. Essentially, I am connecting one-on-one with each of the meeting participants to understand from their perspective what worked well, what could have been done differently, and what they want to see out of the next meeting to make that meeting the most valuable to the collective group and to their own organization. Our firm has not done these one-on-one discussions before and they are working out well. It’s also a great way to further and deepen our relationship with these individuals which is always a good thing.
  • I also spent time refining the go-to-market materials for another initiative. I’ll need to reach out to my contacts to describe the change in approach we are taking.
  • I also spent time organizing market interviews for the client project I am working on. We are in deliverable development mode now and I’ve been putting it off. It won’t be hard to do, it’s just hard to start. Once I sit down un-interupted, I should be able to get going on it. I just need the jump-start. This part of my job is always difficult for me – just getting started. Looking at the blank page and knowing that it has to be filled with something intelligent.
  • I spent the rest of the day doing admin items like my timesheet and expenses; and also looking at my workload and hoping that I can become more efficient.
  • Dinner and Bedtime:

  • Since I drove in this morning, I had to drive back from the city. This is what my commute was like (below). Needless to say, I was late getting back to pick up the kids and thank goodness Hubby made the ferry to start the pick-ups. I picked up Red but he got the rest.
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  • We had an “all-orange” dinner tonight. Mac-n-cheese, carrots, and goldfish crackers. The kids thought it was fun. I thought it was easy. I was amazed at the amount of carrots that were consumed.
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  • Twin Husky was climbing everywhere after dinner. Moving his little chair around and standing to grab at counters, turn on/off lights. He was also climbing on the dinner table and on the coffee table. We’ve reached that phase where discipline is necessary and stern “No. That’s not OK”.
  • Red wanted to do a puzzle and finish her mac-n-cheese at the kitchen counter. I helped her with the top of the puzzle as I was multi-tasking with other kids. We did the puzzle 3 or 4 times tonight.
  • I changed Twin Crazy and Twin Husky in PJs and we had a blast. Kissing bellies and playing games with the clothes and tickling them silly. We were laughing so hard that Big Bro asked us to quiet down.
  • Getting them to bed was so easy. They love brushing their teeth and they ABSOLUTELY LOVE their books. They pick out what they want to read and I love the time with them. They are both so interactive. Twin Husky repeats everything I say.
  • Big Bro was watching a movie and threw a tantrum when we said it was bedtime. It was so bad that I had to sit him down and tell him to stop, and look into my eyes and tell him to stop it and to listen and to walk up the stairs for bed. It was rough.
  • So now I sit here, with my throat hurting from laughter, but my nerves also on edge. Maybe I’ll grab a Guinness.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    November 9: Busy as a bee

    Today we woke up very early, probably due to DST. Twin Husky was singing and woke us up.

    Highlights of the Morning:

    • Twin Husky was singing, along with Twin Crazy, but it was Red who came into our room first. She was talking about the wallet that I helped her make and the pretend money. She was explaining to Hubby that we made a wallet and money together and that Big Bro gave his home-made wallet to Red too, because I had my old wallet up for grabs. So Big Bro is pumped about my old wallet, and Red is thrilled that she has two wallets, one of which is a hand-me-down from Big Bro.
    • I grabbed the Twins from their room. They were busy playing in the cribs, doing dives and jumping and laughing. I changed Twin Crazy since she was soaked through with pee. I need to change the way we do her diapers since now she’s a 100% stomach-sleeper. We’re going through lots of PJs and bedsheets these days.
    • I take a quick shower and then help downstairs with breakfast. Oatmeal is such a hit at hour house that I need to think through a more economical way to do it. We’re going through 4-5 packets of instant per day, between 3 kids. On the weekends I make the homemade stuff which still is fast — the 1 minute cook stuff. And I add brown sugar and butter to make it delicious. I can buy that stuff in bulk at Costco. I want to start doing that during the week too so we can save money and not go through the food so fast.
    • I helped to change Big Bro and Red. Red picked out her clothes the night before which helped. The “carrot” of the childrens’ vitamins after the dressing also helps a bit to get them moving.
    • We were so early today that we all took our drop-offs together. First Red, then Twins, then Big Bro.

    I’m on the ferry now and this will be my last working day of the week. I will be off Thursday and Friday and am looking forward to the time I will be able to spend with the kids. But, today will be VERY busy for me at work. I think it will take some time to get used to this arrangement — for me, my kids, and my colleagues. I am willing to tweak here and there to make it work for everyone.

    I am particularly excited about spending more time with the Twins. Time that I never really had with Big Bro and Red. I want to do arts-and-crafts with them. I want to take them to museums. To “sing-a-longs” at the library. To the park. I mostly just want to sit and talk with them.

    Today at work I will need to work on several proposals — 3 in total. Plus find time to work on my project. Plus find time to close out some loose ends with the meetings that just wrapped up. Plus find time to refine our selling materials for our other service offering that we are developing. I will be working back-to-back all day today and hopefully my time will be efficient so I can feel good about taking off the rest of the week. I can’t drop any balls or else this arrangement will likely have to change…. Through my career I’ve learned to use my Outlook calendar religiously. There are blocks of times for meetings, but I also block out time for myself dedicated to specific work that I need to do. And I’m true to those “bookings” of time. If I need to re-arrange, I do – but I never cancel. If someone needs to schedule a meeting, then based on priority I will have them schedule around my calendar, and schedule something on the next day if needed. This system seems to work well for me.

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    OMG more discussions and I am officially a part-time employee! My day today was VERY compressed and efficient – I essentially was back to back with meetings; I think this will work well for my company, essentially they will get more out of me for each hour I spend…. here are the highlights

    • I read materials for my client project to get a better understanding of the proposed partnership opportunity we will be evaluating; reached out to subject-matter-experts and secured one interview, and am in process of securing at least 2 others. Primary interviews is research where you actually TALK to the market. You typically can learn SO MUCH MORE than you ever could just surfing the web. You need to be prepared for these discussions though…. you need to have your must-have questions fully organized but still be flexible enough to let the conversations flow – this is where you learn and pick up on other aspects of the business that you may not have otherwise. So I’m excited that we are in process of getting these set up. This was client “billable” time for me.
    • I lead a discussion with another relationship that I cultivated and we proposed for strategy consulting work. It was a great conversation and there are some MINOR modifications to the language of our proposal. They really liked what they saw. The only major thing I have left to do is price the effort – which can be tricky. We bid on fixed price projects but sometimes it is difficult to really estimate the level of effort for the project. I will need to focus on that so we can give him the revised proposal with the price estimate on Monday. This is the first of the proposals that resulted from the meetings I lead earlier last month.
    • Had more discussions with my Directors on my reduced work week. All are in support and we worked on a communication plan so that everyone is aware of my availability, reachability. I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS. They gave me hugs afterwards. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive firm to work for.
    • I had another business development meeting for a separate proposal we will prepare. I consolidated our list of questions and the Director submitted; the potential client will answer these questions and from here we will be able to craft a compelling proposal.
    • I refined/repositioned marketing materials for one of the initiatives I am leading. I will need to restart outreach to solicit potential members next week with these materials.
    • I met with a consultant who drafted a proposal for a lead that I brought in from another meeting from early last month. This is the 2nd proposal resulting from the meetings I lead earlier last month.
    • I worked with our technology team to get my iPhone set up to receive/send work email. Although I will not be working, if I see anything client-related that is urgent I will respond or forward to a colleague as appropriate.

    I AM SO EXCITED! I’m on the ferry now, thinking about what I will do with the Twins tomorrow. I’m planning on taking all four to the museum on Friday since it is Veteran’s Day and school/daycare is closed. My stress level is washing away from my shoulders and I am looking forward to being a mom to my kids.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • I picked up Red, then Big Bro, then the Twins.  All were in reasonably good moods.  Whew!
    • As I made dinner, the kids were all drawing.   I like giving them projects so that they are entertained as I am busy.
    • Dinner was pasta with sauce on the side.   Kids were helping me with the other kids.   For example, Red got Big Bro a bowl for his sauce, Big Bro was serving sauce in the bowls, and Red was helping with the Twins.  They really do look out for each other which warms my heart so much.
    • After dinner, there was a mad rush of activity around believe it or not, an Amazon box.   Out of ALL the toys we have in this house, ALL four kids decided that it was the best fun to play inside of this box.  They took turns individually, then as subsets of kids, then even all four of them at the same time.  It was hysterical.
    Four kids and an Amazon box

    Four kids and an Amazon box

    • Then they moved on to the parade:
    • I then got some chocolate milk for everyone to get them to calm down for the evening.  I had a “mommy chocolate milk” (AKA Guinness).  I got Big Bro started on his homework and Red started on a picture while I took the Twins upstairs.    They are so easy.
    • Then we did Big Bro homework and I helped Red color in some pictures.  She is so funny.  She draws squares, and then indicates with a dot within each square the ones that she wants me to color.   She is so decisive and delegates so easily – tells me exactly what I’m supposed to do.  So cute.
    Everyone is upstairs, I am happy with a Guinness already down, and also looking forward to my day tomorrow with the kids.  I’m definitely going to have the Twins – I’m not sure what I feel like doing with Red.   I may have her join the fun as well.
    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K




    November 7: Back together again!

    Back at work after a great weekend with Big Bro, Red, and my father. We woke up to the kids laughing and reuniting with one another, since the Twins came home late last night.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • We woke up to children’s  laughter. Big Bro kissing Twin Husky as Twin Husky rolling around on the floor. Giggles. Red running around laughing. Twin Crazy a bit sick so a bit cranky.
    • Everyone was hungry – Twins are now actively asking for what they want with their words, which is making things much easier.
    • Red gives Twin Crazy her new water bottle and Twin Crazy downs half of the water. Red gets upset but I quickly wash the bottle and get her new, fresh water to stem a tantrum from happening.
    • Twins are getting oatmeal all over themselves.
    • Big Bro and Red are busy eating.
    • I help 3 of the 4 to get dressed.
    • We are early so all leave together – 3 drop offs (Red, Twins, Big Bro) and then me an Hubby to the Ferry.

    Today at work I will be starting a new project, forming a plan for a new proposal, and also tying up loose ends from the meetings we recently had.

    Highlights of My Working Day:

    • Today was a day about business development. We had an internal meeting to plan our response to a Request for Proposal, I had a phone conversation with a potential client as a result of our meetings from last month, and I scheduled a phone conversation to discuss our proposal with another potential client as a result of our meetings last week. My goal out of this new role was not only to generate value for our company and the members for these meetings, but also to walk away with potential consulting projects. My goal was three proposals. Now we’re at 2. I have one more to go to reach my personal goal!
    • I also started to organize my thinking around a project we are starting this week – I had the lead contact so I’m feeling responsible for this one.
    • I also started to prepare for some meetings that I will have on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ve learned through my career to NEVER come to a meeting unprepared. Even having the documents quickly skimmed and some initial questions/reactions is better than nothing. In our company, people remember the meetings where someone does not add anything — then why were they there???!? Not only should you participate, but have your thoughts organized. Contributions should be concise and to the point, otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time. This gets noticed too.

    I’m now on the commute home – taking the ferry is not as fun when it is cold and gray. And it is cold and gray today. I have some “flat meat” that I bought over the weekend so dinner will be easy.

    Monday’s are always a bit rough for us as a family – and I think tonight will be worse since it will be darker earlier. I envision breakdowns earlier than normal, so am ready to start the bedtime routine earlier if we need to tonight.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • I picked up all kids quickly since it was cold and the sun was going down FAST!
    • Dinner took about 10 minutes from start to finish. Flat meat (pork), frozen string-beans zapped in the microwave, and cous-cous. Everyone was at the table eating within 15 minutes!
    • There was lots of fun tonight. I think all the kids were thrilled to be together again. Big Bro acting like a monster under a blanket crawling after his siblings, Red/Twins were doing “downward dog” positions as I cracked up, Twin Crazy didn’t mind me “bulbing” snot out of her nose (she kept laughing), kids were playing with balls all over the place (and then we made a game about working together to clean them up), and even puzzles.

    • There were only a few accidents. Red hit her head on an open drawer. Twin Husky took a swing at a bat and hit Red in the head by accident. Kids were tripping over Big Bro as he was pretending to be a monster under the blanket. And the Twins kept trying to do puzzles but really they were just running around with puzzle pieces getting everyone else anxious.
    • Twins had fun brushing their teeth and reading books. They gave each other kisses and went to bed quickly, saying “Nite nite” over and over again. Too cute.
    • Bedtime routine was terribly long for Big Bro and Red. A lot of time was devoted to “homework” which we probably should move up earlier in the evening.

    It was a fine Monday; I’m feeling pretty relaxed and enjoying my iPad and iPhone. It makes blogging and adding pictures much more fun and efficient.

    Till tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    September 21: Can this REALLY be called working???

    OK, so day #2 with no daycare provider for the Twins.   So I am working from home, with two 18 month old Twins…. who are starting…. to fight…. about EVERYTHING….. most often its the toys…. but there is also alot of shoving, pushing, hitting, and BITING.   How much work can I really get done on a day like today????!??!

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • I wake up to Big Bro and Red, coming to my bed and hugging me.  Big Bro is no longer feverish!  YEAH!  Red is so sweet!   They are in my bed now, holding on to me, telling me that I CANNOT get up and take a shower.   They want to keep me there with them.  They start to negotiate.  “You don’t need to take a shower today mommy.”     Ehhhh emmm.. Um, yes I do.  I skipped yesterday.  I stink.  “You do not stink mommy.  You will stink if you go into that shower.”   How cute.  I think they are going through withdrawal of mommy time from our vacation.Twin
    • I get the Twins.  They are cranky.   Twin Husky is hot.   He demands to be held by Daddy.
    • While I am in the shower, Big Bro decides to give Red a “makeover” with the Barbie make up she received from her Nana last week.  So, Big Bro is asking Red which color she wants on her left foot nails, right foot nails, and different colors for her hands.  There is also “eyeshadow” that he is applying for her and lip gloss.  This is too funny.   They are both so interested in the makeup.   THankfully Big Bro is not applying anything on himself, but I would be OK with that if so, I think.
    Pre-school "makeover"

    Pre-school "makeover"

    • Kids eat breakfast, lunches get packed.  Kids get dressed.  We remember vitamins this morning.   I spend a lot of time holding Twin Husky.   I love the way he feels in my arms.  He holds on tight.  His head rests on my shoulder.  He is big and heavy and sick, but feels wonderful and I don’t want to let him go.
    • OK time to go!!!
    • 1st drop off:  Big Bro.  Hubby takes him in while the rest stay in the car.
    • 2nd drop off:   Hubby at ferry
    • 3rd drop off:  Red.  We go in together with the Twins.  Twins are wearing PJs still, and Twin Crazy is carrying all of her blankets and loveys.  It is so cute.   The place goes nuts over them.
    • Pit stop:  CVS to pick up some stuff.  I bring in the Twins.  I buy baby Advil for Twin Husky.
    • We head home and I think about what the heck am I going to do for a client conference call at 10 AM????

    Highlights of my Working Day:

    • Make a pot of coffee.   Eat leftover kid breakfast.  Nuke a Trader Joe’s breakfast for me.   Get my computer set up.   Twins are playing.
    • Sent out quite a few emails related to all the upcoming forums; I’m trying to get up to speed desperately since these meetings are happening in two weeks time.
    • Kids get a cracker snack.
    • I decide to throw them upstairs in their cribs for a “short nap” at 9:45 so I can be “ON” for the conference call.   The kids head upstairs and seem OK with this idea.
    • I review the materials I need to walk through for the conference call and think about what I need to talk about – it’s a sales meeting so I have this one shot with them.   Upstairs, I hear the Twins laughing and playing.   At least they’re not crying.
    • I get stood up for the call.  Now I need to reschedule.  I hate that.  Now it’s extra work for me.  I hate having to redo things.   It takes time to reschedule and I feel like offloading it to someone but cannot.  Ugggh.
    • I do some work while I have a chance and then get the kids.  They seem happy.
    • I get them changed into “real clothes” since they’ve been in the same PJs for days.   They are adorable.   I play with them a bit.  Laughing, kissing their bellies.   I love this.
    • Snack time is blueberries.  Twins are now able to get to the short table by themselves and sit in the stools.  They look so cute.  All dressed, and eating their blueberries in their little bowls together.
    • I work while they eat.   I also try to secure back up day care for Thursday and Friday — I’m searching through people who applied for the MOther’s Helper position and mentioned they would be available for babysitting or other help.  Hopefully someone comes through.
    • We play a bit; run around outside in the backyard.  Talk about things.   Twin Husky is singing “Happy Birthday” non-stop.
    • I make lunch while they play with pots and pans.  They eat like champs.  They head upstairs for bed immediately afterwards.
    Future chefs?

    Future chefs?

    • I work while they sleep – coordinate menus, follow-up with guest speakers, follow-up with the analytic team, etc.
    • Twins sleep late – they get up and I give them crackers and we pick up Big Bro and then Red.   All kids are in a great mood.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    • I am on my own tonight since Hubby has an appointment and our Mother’s Helper took the night off.
    • Kids are well behaved.  Some playing outside, some inside, Big Bro and Red putting on make up again.   Twins are outside with tricycles and scooters.
    • I’m making dinner.  Chicken I defrosted is rancid.  Plan B:  chicken nuggets, broccoli, and side pasta.   ALL KIDS EAT LIKE CHAMPS.  Even the broccoli!!!!!!!
    • Kids play well while I clean up; I didn’t have much time with them tonight – I feel bad for Big Bro and Red since they are craving mommy time and I didn’t have enough of it to give to them today.
    • Everyone heads upstairs for bed.   All kids in one room for PJ changes and songs.  Twins go down SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO easily.  Big Bro a bit harder – he is exhausted despite it being earlier for his bedtime.  Red is relatively good until it is time for me to leave the room.  She would not let go of my arm and she screamed until Hubby came home to soothe her.
    • After the kids were in bed, I worked for another 2 hours to catch up for today.

    Now I feel a bit better about the work I managed to do, but I’m still hoping I can find someone to help out tomorrow.   I had a wonderful day and feel like I’ve somehow captured the kind of life I want — OK, having someone watch the Twins would have been better, but still.   And also having the mothers’ helper would have been good so I could spend some more time with Big Bro and Red.    But I’m getting closer!!!!   Maybe tomorrow will be Nirvana with day help and night help.  And me working from home, dropping off my kids and picking them up, and taking breaks here and there to hug and squeeze my babies.    Bliss.

    Till tomorrow –

    – Mama K

    Random Thoughts: Excercising with your kids

    I recently came across the below article that I thought was extremely interesting and relevant for our group – it provides tricks and hints to keep your kids active, versus letting them get sucked into TV, video games and other butt numbing activities.   Big Bro is five and he is already pressuring us a lot more than I thought he would about using computers and watching TV.   We are probably more strict in our household when it comes to these things.   We do not have games on our phones and we limit “movie nights” to Friday nights only.   Our kids are allowed to pick either computer OR a movie on Saturday and Sunday mornings when Hubby and I are still slumbering (the kids know that mommy and daddy do NOT get out of our beds until 8 AM on weekends).

    I’m sure that this is a struggle that all families have — things have changed a lot since we were kids.  There are a lot more “sitting” activities to compete with now – the below may give you some ideas on how to limit this and get your kids MOVING….   and of course I want to poll the group at the end of the article….

    Fit as a Family

    Did you know that kids are more physically active when a parent encourages and supports that interest?

    Parental support boosts children’s positive attitude toward exercise as well as their interest in organized sports. And when you participate in free-time physical activity with your child, you increase his or her enjoyment of unstructured fitness fun. Try these ideas for playing and being active together:

    • Take a family bike ride or walk. Find nearby trails, tracks or safe routes for all ages in your group. On weekends, when you have more time, plan rides or walks at sites farther from home to keep up interest.
    • Reduce the time your kids spend inactive—watching TV and DVDs, playing computer games, even at the movies. Substitute active entertainments such as swimming, bowling, going to the roller or ice rink, visiting the zoo.
    • Play games outside with your kids—everything from hopscotch and jump rope to hide-and-seek, basketball or badminton. Don’t worry about what the neighbors will think.
    • Play physically active games indoors with your kids. Treasure hunts, dancing, hacky sack, ping pong, even yoga can keep the family moving when the weather makes staying inside necessary.
    • Consider getting a family membership at the local community center. These facilities give you opportunities for several kinds of play and often have special parent-child activity sessions.
    • If you belong to a health club or gym, find out if your adolescent or teenager is eligible to join. Then you can exercise side-by-side on various types of equipment. Be sure to have a trainer show your child how to use the machines and set up an appropriate workout program for him or her.

    Source:  Healthy Woman E-Newsletter, August 2011

    So I’d like to hear from the group about:

    Thank you so much for your participation!

    – Mama K

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