Staying Sane: Complete a project

We know that stress is not good for you – emotionally, psychologically, and also physically.   And as working mothers we know stress.  Juggling all of our roles and responsibilities.  It’s a lot.   I’m not sure where I’ve read it or heard it, but I was surprised when I learned that it are the “silent stressors” that actually cause the most damage.  It are those things that you’ve “been meaning to do” but have not gotten around to it yet – that weigh you down and it is THIS stress that accumulates and causes you damage.

Just think of those things on your “to-do” list.   The things that you know you need to get to, but for some reason do not.   But you keep thinking of them.  And it weighs on you.  And you know in the back of your mind you have these unfinished tasks that need to get done.  It’s difficult to let go.

I’m trying to teach my children the importance of finishing what they start.  Go full circle.  Finish the puzzle, finish the story, you get it.  Perseverance and also focus.

The feeling of completion is great.  Think back on projects that you have done to completion.  Either yourself or with your kids.   It could be as simple as a photo-book project, the creativity of a fun Halloween costume, or even complex like the birth of a garden… moving to a new home… completing a degree.

Since my move, my office area was sort of the “dumping ground” for boxes in purgatory… and the set up that I originally had (big office table, two big filing cabinets) just was not working AT ALL.   Those that have been reading this know that I recently bought an entire office of furniture at IKEA – a computer workstation (for me), a double desk, 2 single desks, 2 sets of drawers, and 4 stools — read this post.

Well, Friday night after I dropped the kids off at co-parent’s, I decided to go to the Apple store and buy myself a new Apple computer.   I made the purchase in about 15 minutes total.  I then went home and proceeded to build the IKEA office furniture.   Drinking a Guinness, listening to music… until midnight or so.   Then I woke up on Saturday very early and immediately went to work on the same project.  I am an expert now at IKEA furniture assembly.    I was racing to complete the task before the kids were dropped of at my place at 4 PM.   I just made it in time.

And the looks on their faces when they each saw their own desk was priceless.  And there were NO fights over who was going to sit where.  They just gravitated to their own spaces and were so happy.  They pulled open their drawers and I told them that is where they can put their stuff.  Crayons, markers, paper, art, whatever they would like.   And Big Bro was so excited about doing his homework at his desk.  They loved it and spent time doing art projects in the room over the weekend.

And for me, the room is about 75% complete – I still want to get some things for their spaces.  I still need to hang curtains.  And also get the rest of the old stuff out.  But I’m almost there.  And the biggest part for me was completing the heavy lifting and transforming this room from what it was to what it is now.    A place where we can be together and “work” and create.  A place where a child can go and have their own space.   A place where we can be together.

What kinds of projects do you do that make you feel accomplished?

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

April 4: Jelly beans and the potty

Wednesday – a work from home day. I love these days.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • I woke up to Red walking into my room with a huge smile just a few minutes before I was to get up at 6:30 AM. She is the early riser. I love it when she comes downstairs to greet me like this. She climbed into my bed, very talkative as usual. Today she was talking about eye dirt and how it is hard and sometimes hurts your eye.
  • She found a key chain rubber chicken in my room. Long story. It basically is a gag gift from one of my colleagues who retired. He was collecting rubber chickens through the years and when he retired he donated them to me since I have all these kids. Red found the key chain and started asking what a chicken was doing on a keychain and in my room. Good question.
  • She put some princess tattoos on a table in my room. So sweet.
  • We went upstairs to get Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. Twin Crazy went potty and we were proud of her.
  • I walked out of my room with some old ice-cream bowls and she completely caught me in the act. “Hey… what is that???!??!?! Were you eating ICE-CREAM?!?!?!??!?!” I was completely snagged. She’s too fast for me. I can’t get anything by these kids.
  • Twin Crazy somehow saw the chicken and adopted it from Red. She loved the chicken. She kept talking about the chicken. She wanted to bring the chicken to daycare.
  • Everyone packed up their stuff and both Red and Big Bro had huge backpacks. Cute.
  • Big Bro and Red wanted me to drop them off… this was going to cause a problem…
  • We were all early so had enough time to all go into the van and make the two different drop offs all together. First the twins, then Red/Big Bro.
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    Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I made it home in time for a conference call with a potential speaker for our forum. We scored big. This woman and organization are amazing. They will have a lot of value to add to this meeting and hopefully for future meetings as well.
  • We had a second call with a different potential speaker and scored there as well! YEAH!
  • I had a conversation with my Director about a client project we are finishing and then later we had a call with the client. They are happy with the work and will likely complete it early next week.
  • I sent out some other logistics for the forum planning.
  • We tried to have a conference call with our other client but had some phone issues. So I missed the call. There is work we need to do with our thinking and will need to get cracking on that quickly to regain the traction we had with them.
  • I did some other personal things and made a lot of phone calls. I also had the chance to talk to my dad, who is in India, through ooVoo. Truly amazing… check it out.
  • The Rest of the Day:

  • I called the quits at 3:30 PM and picked up Red and Big Bro. I promised to pick them up early and go shopping for jelly-beans for Red’s Easter party this Friday. They were both excited to do that.
  • I found out that Red packed a huge stuffed animal duck in her backpack this morning. Ridiculous.
  • We went shopping for jelly-beans which was fun.
  • Then picked up the Twins – they were spinning around an ottoman. I continuously crack up at how entertained they are at the most basic of things. You honestly don’t need to buy a lot of toys when you have a 2 year old. Especially twins. They entertain each other with EVERYTHING.
  • We got home and I dished out 2 jelly beans per child. That’s when I saw that a bag was already opened. It was Big Bro. I had a conversation about “trust” and how important trust is. How it’s important to have people trust in you and that if you lose that trust, it is very, very, very difficult to get it back. So it’s really important that you do things to make people have trust in you – and not do things to damage that trust. I talked to all kids about that.
  • Later, I was cooking. Big Bro was helping. Red was helping set the table.
  • One weird thing happened… Red went to the bathroom but didn’t make it in time… she had a pee-pee accident all over herself and the floor. That’s just strange. I closed the door quickly with her and said that its OK, that accidents happen, and that I closed the door so no-one has to know about it. Big Bro did knock and I fibbed and told him that I was going to the potty and needed privacy. I cleaned Red up, and we ran upstairs to find new clothes. She was happy.
  • Later still, I heard all kids laughing. They were giving themselves pedicures with Red’s toy nail polish.
  • We took a walk to the mailbox to get the mail.
  • Red was holding Twin Crazy and having her sit on her lap. Big Bro apparently wanted to have time with Twin Crazy too. There was some sort of fight and Red wound up crying. I got both kids to tell me their sides of the story. Big Bro told me the truth, that Red fell when she was holding Twin Crazy, but that Big Bro did push Red afterwards. I probed and it was because he wanted a turn with Twin Crazy too. I said that it was great that I heard the truth from both of them, asked Big Bro to apologize to Red (he did), and then asked Twin Crazy if she could take a turn with Big Bro. This all seemed to work.
  • Big Bro was amazingly cooperative with me the rest of the night. No whining, no temper tantrums. I think our discussion about “trust” helped and also the fact that I was sitting and listening to his side of the story and also that I had a chance to pick them up early and spend some time with the older kids by themselves. He was just so good tonight.
  • The kids ate great; after dinner we had 3 more jelly-beans each (Big Bro helped Twin Crazy and Twin Husky with theirs – they picked the colors and he gave them to them), did Tickle Monster, went to the potty (like 5 times – each time Twin Crazy asking for a chocolate chip), and also played hide and seek. It was great being the tickle-monster, with all of the kids hanging on me and running in circles around me and everywhere I reached there was a child and a good tickle.
  • I had Big Bro and Red tonight. They were wonderful. Each picked out one book, and cuddled down with me to read.
  • Big Bro had some bad poops tonight and his butt hurt. I put A&D and now he is sleeping 1/2 naked with a towel between him and his sheets so he doesn’t get the medicine on his sheets. He can be very particular.
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    Now I’m typing in the hallway outside of Big Bro/Red’s door. Big Bro is already sleeping. Red is wide awake, drinking water, changing her pajamas, etc. But she is not crying. She knows that I am here, she hears me typing away. I feel good doing this. I am out of sight, she can rest her body and fall asleep, but she knows that I am nearby and not downstairs. There is just too much distance there. It causes problems that I think are un-necessary. So I will continue to do this for as long as I have to, for as long as I’m still in this house.

    I honestly cannot wait to get out of this house. I am looking forward to finally moving on. It will be so much better for me – and hopefully indirectly for the kids – after we move on to the next step in this process. I am already thinking of ways to bring “fun” into the process for them and make it easier for them – an adventure in so many ways – an adventure that I want them to share with me to the extent they are able.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    February 29: Airplane rides

    Whew! Made the ferry! It was close. I’m headed into the city today to work 1/2 day and run an errand — my iPhone broke!!! I never realized how much I rely on it until it got “taken away” from me!

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Red woke up, got herself changed, and was a complete chatterbox this morning. I couldn’t believe it. She was talking, talking, talking, talking non-stop. About everything. About Twin Husky’s toy snake, about her outfit, about how she slept in her bed by herself all night, etc. etc.
  • All kids were eating out of new BPA-free bowls I purchased for them. They were excited since they are a bit bigger. I am excited since they are dishwasher-safe.
  • We investigated Big Bro’s owie this morning. The kids were looking closely at it. It looks big (and deep in some areas) but it looks clean. Big Bro was milking it a bit this AM but was finally able to walk around and said he would be OK to ride his bike today. He was back on track, and I gave him a spare big band-aid in case he needed it during the day. I REALLY need to sew patches on his jeans. It is downright embarrassing.
  • We gathered our things to go, twins got their shoes on by themselves and were easy. Red was also easy, once she learned that I was also going to drop her off today. Big Bro had some issues when he was told “no bike” by daddy since it looked like rain. Big Bro threw a fit. Daddy said the Motley Crew wouldn’t be riding today. Big Bro refuted with “but you don’t KNOW that…. you don’t KNOW what they’re doing…..”. I was at a loss without my iPhone but I got the iPad out (thank you iCloud!!!) where I was able to text one of the mothers. They were not driving, not biking, but walking instead. We gave Big Bro the option to walk with them and he decided just to drive in with us.
  • Due to back up in traffic we were running behind. Twin drop off was fast, Big Bro drop off was fast, but we were stuck in school drop off traffic. Red drop off was fast. We made it to the ferry parking lot in enough time.
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    I’m on the ferry now feeling pretty relaxed and thinking about personal things and also what I need to do for work today. I NEED to get to the Apple store to get my phone fixed. For work, we have our first primary interview for our project, and I have to complete my review of the questionnaire for one of our forums. I need to spend time with outreach to the one forum, which I’ve been neglecting….

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    Man was I jammed!

  • I had a sales call for a potential participant for our meeting in April. He believes in the concept and is forwarding our invitation to Marketing STrategy who is more senior and a decision-maker. It was great news for us.
  • I then led our first primary interview for our client project. These kinds of meetings are always good since you really get a sense of the market — it’s not just reading an article or doing web research…. you’re actually talking with someone live who knows about the business and you LEARN so much in such a short amount of time. It was a great first call.
  • I then worked on the survey for one of our forums. There’s a lot more that needs to be done. I will be delegating this to someone who is coming back from maternity leave on Monday – so am thankful that I am getting this off my plate.
  • I also organized my thoughts around topics and agenda layout for each of the forums I will be leading in April. I’ve narrowed the focus and now have a sense on who to reach out to for speakers.
  • I debriefed my Partner on all of the above…. made great progress with him; he vetted the analytical approach we are using for our client project, and also gave feedback on direction for speakers and specific people. He is wonderful to work with.
  • I also stepped out at lunch to go to the Apple store to fix my phone. It was like turning on the “on” button. It needed a “hard reboot” which means hold down the circle button and the on/off button together, at the same time, for 10 seconds…. a FULL 10 seconds. That was it. Easy schmeasy. Saved me money today!
  • I’m on the ferry now, feeling a bit overwhelmed but happy to be headed home. I have some chicken defrosting in the refrigerator and am excited about seeing the kids. I heard from my mom today and she booked a flight out here for March 14 for several days and I’m REALLY looking forward to her visit.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Red first. She was busy with her teacher counting legos. She stopped counting when she saw me because she got shy. We then went to pick up Big Bro together. I wanted to know about his owie and how he did today. Then we picked up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. We talked in the car about owies, dinner, and balls.
  • I went right to work as soon as we got in, defrosting chicken and thinking about what I was going to do with it. Twin Crazy and Twin Husky had socks on their hands (I couldn’t believe it but Big Bro used to do this all the time and so did Red…. what about you guys??? Did your kids do this too???). Kids were busy sharing a couple pieces of bread. Then it hit me. Homemade breadcrumbs! Chicken cutlets! OMG it was so good – very easy. I’ll use the recipe for tomorrow to share.
  • After dinner, I played airplane ride with the kids and Big Bro was laying down beside me with my camera taking videos and pictures of the kids while they were in mid-air. I love the fact that he did that for me – I wanted to capture the look on their faces as they look down at me as they’re flying. And Big Bro felt special, my little Director. He’s actually very good at capturing the moment and video-taping. We then went through the photos together and talked about which ones to delete and why (fuzzy, can’t see the face, etc.). It feels great to have my iPhone back in working order!
  • It was my turn with the Twins tonight. Big Bro is tired of taking turns and he keeps saying it. I suggested that maybe we keep a log of whose turn it is and he be the keeper of the log-book, and tell us who is on who. He didn’t like that idea. He said that he would just say that he was with Mommy each night. This broke my heart.
  • Twins were very easy going to bed. Quick teeth brushing, each got a book, then hugs & kisses goodnight. I whisper “I……. love……. YOU” over and over and they return it. It is our little game. So after the “I….. love….. YOU” we also say “sweet dreams” and “night night” until I close the door – and then I open it quickly for a few more and then close it for good. That’s it!!
  • I cleaned up from dinner, put away clean dishes, and started to get loads of laundry together.
  • Red had a hard time tonight. Daddy left her on the top of the stairs screaming for Mommy. I couldn’t take it since he just walked away from her so I went upstairs, sat with her and hugged her for a few minutes, and then held her hand as she quickly drifted off to sleep.
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    I’m in my bed now, tired from the day and exhausted thinking about the next steps of the divorce. I just want this over. I want my own space. I want the kids to be happy. I want to feel like my life is on the right track.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    November 1: Back to work, selling work, starting more work

    Back to the rush and bustle of a normal commute to work.   I was struggling, and the kids were really calling for Mommy this morning.

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • For some reason, we woke up to Red in our bed this morning.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I didn’t mind.   I liked snuggling up to her and holding her.  She likes to play with my hair.   I missed her from her weekend away from me and things were so busy yesterday that I feel the need to spend extra time with her.
    • I got a message from our neighbor about this morning’s “ride” – Big Bro and I talked about it the night before and he prefers if I go and only me – he thinks the kids go too fast and he can’t keep up.  I think his bike just needs to be adjusted a bit.   I honored his request today but would love to see him fold in with the “pack”.
    • Twins were up so I helped to set them up with breakfast – they are both loving oatmeal these days.   I’m running out of my stash.  I’ll need to stock up.   Over the weekend I made the home-made stuff but during the week we need the luxury of quick packets – I can’t believe how much they are eating.   “Oatmeal.  Oatmeal.”
    • I shower and dress, quickly.  No make up.  Did nothing with my hair.
    • I helped to get Big Bro and Red dressed.   Red wanted to wear her Hello Kitty Halloween shirt.  So then Twin Crazy wanted hers too.
    • Twin Husky was running around getting into trouble.  Getting stuck in chairs, shoving his face into a pre-school magnifying glass (I wish I grabbed a picture of that), and just running around the place at break-neck pace.
    • Red had a hard time getting packed up.  Twin Crazy was upset in the van.  For some reason  my girls are having a tough time today.
    • I dropped off Twins and then Big Bro; Hubby took Red.   Big Bro took a picture of the kids into school today and wanted to show his teacher.   She may have him show and tell today.  She is wonderful.

    I’m on the ferry now.  I can’t remember the last time I took the ferry.   Work may be a bit hectic today.   They are questioning my request to take a 50% reduction in work.  I need this, and badly.   I’ll also be traveling from Wednesday through Friday and would like to get more balance in my life.   Looking back over the past year, the past 5 years is actually amazing.  I can’t believe all that I did, non-stop.  No-one should have to do this.  There is more to life than running for the sake of running.  I want to slow down and enjoy my children.

    Highlights of My Working Day:

    It felt good to be in the office, at first.  I heard about their Halloween and talked about mine.  I like being in an office environment.

    • I reviewed a proposal that we will submit on Thursday.  Made some suggestions on positioning, language, and project references to include.  I think it looks good.
    • I had a discussion with a key Director about my proposal to reduce my workweek.   He is generally OK, however is concerned about our pipeline of proposals and who could do the work.  I assured him that I could be flexible if needed.
    • I started a project today that I have been in the process of selling for months now. I do not think it will be too difficult.
    • I prepared for my trip – gathered marketing collateral and brought materials I will need for the meeting.

    On the commute home I felt wiped out.  Literally.   I put my head down and took a nap.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

    I was on my own tonight; Hubby was working late.

    • I picked up Red first since I felt like I needed some alone time with her.  She was excited to show me all of the art that has been piled up in her folder.   I sat with her and we went through each piece and talked about each one together.  She was also thrilled about a little red dinosaur stamp set that you can stamp on paper – she was busy stamping her hands.
    • We picked up Big Bro next.   Red promptly asked him if he wanted a stamp on his hand.  He did.   She was so cute stamping his hand for him.   They played outside on the gate and acted like monkeys.
    • We picked up Twins next.  Twin Husky was all riled up like normal; Twin Crazy seemed a little sick.
    • When we got home we were stamping, sweeping, singing, and dancing while I made dinner.    Big Bro was doing a little bit of sulking since I did not let him have any candy.
    • After dinner the Twins were tired so I got them ready for bed; milk for all; puzzles with Big Bro and Red.
    • Red had a hard time going to bed tonight.   I sat with her a bit and held her, talked to her, and she taught me some sign language.   I asked her if I told her how much I loved her today – today I loved her so much that I squeezed her little finger.
    • I finished the night by packing for my trip.   It will be a short one with no time zone change so it should be easy for me.   I miss my kids already.   I’m already planning on a fun morning with them – walking Big Bro to school with the Twins in a stroller.   I’ll need to make it up to Red when I get back from my trip.Til tomorrow –
      — Mama K
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