Staying Sane: Not-so-Small Blessings


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

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

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

It was amazing.

*****

These are the things that I LOVED about this trip:

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

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

*****

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

These are the things that I LOVED about this weekend:

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

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*****

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

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

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

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

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

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October 24: A recap of the last few days


I came home tonight after leading and facilitating a series of meetings for one of the forums that I manage for my company – I left on Monday AM and returned at 7 PM Wednesday night – picking up the kids from co-parent’s on the way from the airport and to my house. They are in bed now and I missed them so much;
Highlights of the past few days:

  • Eating a big breakfast at the airport; sleeping on the plane the entire way cross-country.
  • Seeing the GORGEOUS leaves turning colors during my drive from the airport. Lots of yellows and bright reds. I attempted to take a picture from the taxi but the pictures does the scene absolutely no justice whatsoever.
  • Getting assigned to a room that did not exist and getting lost on the floor (not) finding it.  Getting set up in my real room – a suite. Lots of chairs and rooms and space for me to lose my things.
  • FABULOUS dinner and drinks with clients on Monday night. I joked with my clients about my “garden” and the “corn” that we grew which was terrible; they were laughing with (at) me.
  • First day of meetings was amazing. I presented data and analyses to the group and it went very well. The group overall was very engaged the entire day and there was a lot of interaction and discussion – that is how I know that the meeting is going well.
  • ANOTHER FABULOUS DINNER WHERE I DRANK TOO MUCH WINE – THE FOOD WAS AMAZING AND I HUGGED THE CHEF. Afterwards, I took out prospective members to some Irish bars and we had way too much fun.
  • Next day of meetings went great. I lead the day solo and facilitated the end of the meeting getting their ideas on subject matter and topics for the next meeting in six months. We’ll be heading to Miami in the Spring!
  • Took a town car to the airport.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.   Too good to be true.  I miss that.
  • I had plenty of time – had some lunch/wine, and worked on sales for the other forum I manage. I sold three new memberships today and will work on others through the rest of the week where I can.
  • Plane ride back was fine; I slept and also listened to a lot of music.

 

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Getting the Kids:

  • AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME
  • They ran to me. Red jumped in my lap. Twin Husky was jumping up and down saying “Mommy Mommy Mommy”. Twin Crazy came out laughing and hugging and smiling. Big Bro came out and was gathering his things. I guess he’s past the hugging stage of his life. 😦
  • Twin Husky had on new sneakers and he was showing me how they work and light up when he slams his foot down. They are Buzz Lightyear sneakers. Twin Crazy then started saying how she can do that too and had to show me. Then Red too. So I had 3 kids around me stomping their feet and making their shoes light up. It was like fireworks.
  • I learned that Twin Crazy has been sick the past 3 days – up at night with high fevers and puking. Great.
  • On the ride back, Big Bro and Red were playing games with their LeapPads together; laughing. Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were singing together and laughing. I was quiet and just let them entertain themselves. I wanted to hear them in their natural states without forcing conversation. I loved the ride home.
  • We quickly did bedtime routine and read books, scratched backs. Twin Crazy complained a bit that she was cold (slight fever) so I gave her medicine. I hope she sleeps through the night. I need the sleep and am exhausted from the day and also time difference.

 

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I had an amazing 3 days. Work is going so well for me and I’m really enjoying what I do. I have fun with it during the meetings and afterwards. I like bringing on new clients/members. I like the entertaining aspect and making sure that everyone is happy. It is fun and easy work for me. Coming home to the kids was also amazing. Their hugs, their excitement, their laughter. All of us sitting together on the couch with the fireplace on reading books together and laughing and talking about the books. It was a great moment for me.

Til tomorrow –

– Mama K

Random Thoughts: What does Labor Day mean to you?


I must confess.  I still get confused between Memorial Day and Labor Day.   I guess the “Ms” stick together, Memorial Day happens in May.   So today is Labor Day.  Hopefully this trick will stick for me going forward.

Historically, the holiday came about and was initiated by labor unions.  There is no real substantive underlying “movements” or monumental meaning for the holiday.  But in modern times it does signify, at least informally, the end of summer, parties, BBQs, being with family, taking it easy, shopping….

It seems like for working mothers there is a twist on words – laboring to bring our children into the world and also playing a role in the workforce.    It seems like this should be an extra-special day for us working mothers.  A day where we get to take a break from the juggling act and spend extra time with the family in a relaxed way.   A way for us to celebrate another year of working hard and surviving another year of the “grind”.   Yet also celebrating family, your kids… possibly the main reason you work so hard now to begin with.

Photo source:  milagrosboutique.com

For me… well what did I do?   I did not have the children today.   So I celebrated solo – not bad though.  I’m not complaining.   I woke up late.   I cleaned Cocoa’s cage.  I went food shopping.   I bought a patio set (taking advantage of 50% off end of summer clearance!!!!  I am psyched!).   I ate a lot of vegetables, but the smell of BBQ in the air made me think of cheeseburgers for most of the day.   I hacked down more dead raspberry bush vines to prepare for garbage pick up.   I am going to open up a Guinness and begin my “clean out my closet” project.    So, I think I had a pretty good variety of activity today – the only thing I missed was BBQ and the kids.    But I will see them tomorrow.

What does Labor Day mean to you?   How did you spend the Labor Day holiday?

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Celebrate the keepsakes of who you are


Sometimes with work the years go by and you don’t realize how many have passed. The same thing with being a mom… so busy, so little time, giving so much and feeling “selfless” you lose yourself. At least I know I did.

I think it’s important to think back of the experiences you’ve had prior to being a mother. It’s all of these experiences that have brought you to who you are today. I’m a visual person. I am like this with work, with home… I think that’s why I love lists. Anyway, I digress….

Being a visual person has also lead to a small collection of items from my travels over the years. I don’t mean rooms of stuff. I mean certain pieces of things that make memories flood back and make me feel like me. Like a photograph (which I also take a lot of, as you know), just looking at these things bring me back in time – and having the chance to pick them up and hold them and display them for all to see – what liberation.

I’m in the process of divorce and recently moved into my own space. So, the memories are flooding back as I unpack my life that has been boxed up for so many years (different story, for another time… let’s just say that I’ve boxed up pieces of my life in storage and in a garage for the past 8+ years). It feels good to have these things in my hands again. It feels good to have these things on display again. It feels good to look around and see ME. It feels good to have parts of me out in the open again – not closed away, not shoved aside, out for all to see.

  • A mask from South Africa
  • A carving of a sun from Mexico
  • A steel bottle opener from Prague
  • A pottery vase from Portugal
  • A rug from Morocco which is now being used in my living room for the very first time! It is amazing! The colors all blend with what I have and it is PERFECT for this room!!!!
  • A small, small oil painting (2 inch by 3 inch) that I’ve had since a child – probably one of my oldest artifacts from my life
  • A teapot from London
  • A little toy from Switzerland that sounds like a cow’s moo when you turn it upside-down
  • Lots of prints/reproductions that I have yet to get back – I’m looking forward to their return
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    I’m feeling more myself. It is a terrible feeling to feel like your life has been swept away. I believe many working moms probably feel swept away many times. Like you’ve lost yourself. So maybe it’s the simple things you can do to remind yourself of who you are and what you’ve done to bring you to this point today. Hopefully you have small mementos from your past out in the open… not stuffed away in boxes somewhere. Celebrate who you are!!!

    What kinds of things represent parts of your life, parts of your past? Are they visible for you to see and enjoy?

    Have a great week everyone –
    – Mama K

    October 12: Too busy, getting ready for vacation


    I’m sick and had little sleep last night – very, very tired and worn out. Running at work, packing/doing laundry, and getting ready for the vacation is tiring me out!

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

    • I have alone time with Red this morning. She sits in my lap and we talk about me going to her school all day and her picking me up. She thinks this is funny; we keep going back and forth with this. She seems in a really good mood. I hold her, rock her, talk to her, hug & kiss her.
    • I scurry around after my shower trying to grab more of the kids clothes from their rooms to pack — bathing suits, dress shirts, socks, etc.
    • Downstairs the kids are eating; Twin Crazy and Twin Husky are both eating cereral with milk and yes they are spilling all over the place. I spend some time cleaning up milk and refilling their bowls.
    • I gather clothes for Red and Big Bro while they are eating.
    • Diaper changes with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky — he is moving around and wants to play with choo-choo trains so we need to do a “stand up” diaper change. He also says he “hurts” so I scurry looking around for diaper cream. I come back and Twin Crazy is busy cleaning Twin Husky with wipes. Her change is great; she reads a DVD cover and is still.
    • I help to change Red and Big Bro. We are running late. I still do not have any coffee or any breakfast – and am very groggy from the cold medicine I had last night.
    • OK time to go! We’re behind schedule! We gather their shoes, jackets, lunches, our bags. I change the last load of laundry. From this we have what we need to finish our packing tonight. Drop offs are going to be very hectic.
    • 1st drop off: Twins. They wave goodbye to us.
    • 2nd drop off: Big Bro. A huge problem. This switch in drop off messes him up; there are no teachers out there and just parents – but I don’t have time to wait for the teacher… there are some moms there that I know but he didn’t feel comfortable with them – he chased after me, crying. Finally another mom arrived with his REALLY close friend – we’ve been over to their house for playmates and dinner so he feels really comfortable with her – she saves me and grabs Big Bro’s hand. My heart hurts as I run back to the van.
    • 3rd drop off: Red. It goes fine. We find the kids in her class looking at books from the book fair. She has her own book with her that we bought yesterday and she is happy.

    Today is the last day of work before vacation. I need a vacation desperately. Today will be busy. I really need to focus on getting materials out from the meetings last week, and starting preparations for the meeting we will have after I return from vacation — Getting the Agenda nailed down and distributed. I also have some business development items that I need to follow up with and also admin items like time sheets and expenses. Plus some various meetings in my calendar today so hopefully I can focus around these meetings.

    I was running like an idiot all morning, with no coffee, no breakfast, 3 drop offs, and work — all after traveling last week and not having our mother’s helper around. I feel like I’ve regressed a bit. Once this last meeting is finished I need to scale back to a 3 or 4 day work week. This must happen. Please encourage me with this – it is scary for me to take a step back!

    Highlights of My Working Day:

     

    It was crazy busy today.

    • Two debrief meetings post-event from the meetings from last week; we discussed how things went and things to do differently, and also specific follow up things we can do as a result of the meeting
    • I had a business development call with a potential member of a new forum we are launching. It went well but we need to think through how to position/frame this particular forum
    • Sent off materials for the conference I will be missing next week while I’m on vacation.
    • Spoke with a guest speaker for an upcoming meeting to help her frame her presentation

    I am also walking away with a TON more work to do tonight – I have to send out meeting materials from last week, complete and submit my timesheet, organize sales meetings for a new forum we are trying to sell, and make introductions to specific forum members on behalf of another Director. I will need to do all of this tonight when I get home, and before finishing packing.

    I am on a train now headed to a meeting. So Hubby is home with the kids (and hopefully the mother’s helper). I will miss them tonight. I might be able to see Big Bro and Red before they go to sleep. But tonight is honestly going to be crazy with the work I have to finish and the packing I have left to do….

    Dinner and Bedtime:
     

    • I drank a Guiness.  Did some work at the bar.
    • Got home and read some books to Big Bro and Red.
    • Did some more work.  Finsihed up work at 9:30 PM.
    • I will post this by 10 PM.
    • I will then need to pack — the rest of the kids stuff and also my own.

    My dinner consisted of a Guiness.  I might eat some Cheerios before I go to bed tonight.  I am exhausted.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.

    I plan to send infrequent posts during vacation, but I can’t make any promises!!!!

     

    Until later,

    – Mama K

    My first entry — week in Review


    I had a rather hectic week on both a work and personal front.  Returned from a long-weekend vacation in Florida (I only took “Twin Crazy”) on Monday — I had to rush her to daycare; unfortunately I could not witness her reunion with “Twin Husky”.  It was the first time they were separated.   Daycare provider later told me there was LOTS of hugging and kissing.   Ran home for conference call with client, made changes to executive presentation.   Played with kids ALOT on Monday evening to catch up with their lives.

    Tuesday woke up early, as did hubby.   Both had to leave early.   Got all kids fed and dressed and all were out of the house by 7 Am.   I head to airport — client presentation later that day.   Went very well.    It is the culmination of the strategy  project however we will need to go back for an executive presentation in 2 weeks time.   Caught earlier flight home; able to play with kids before bedtime.    Sing “twinkle twinkle little star” with sign language to Twins; I’d love for them to learn to participate.

    Wednesday did some business development.  Relatively uneventful.  Dinner was great with kids.   “Big Bro” ate at least 5 servings of carrots (YEAH!!!).   Twins had great time using forks.  They were very proud of themselves.   Received bad news from our “mothers helper” that she found full time employment and next Friday will be her last day.   UGGGGGGGGGGGH.  She is wonderful.   We will all miss her.   She is our sanity life saver.   I will need to post something on Craigslist.    Went on date night and formalized thinking on website name and branding for this project.  Drank beer.  Ate sushi.

    Thursday did more business development.  Secured client commitments for big meeting later this year.    YEAH!   Pack up my bag with my laptop and also some organic fruits/veggies for the kids.   I’m worried that each kid is not getting their required two servings of veggies per day!   Headed out for Girls Night for my belated birthday celebration.   I can’t believe I’m 41 (but I act like I’m 20 something).   Great time!   Thank you girlfriends!!!!

    Early morning conference call so am working home today.   Another business development / proposal to prepare.   Need to also work on Executive Presentation from last project.   I was thinking about roasting a chicken tonight for dinner but it’s still in the freezer.   What are the chances it will thaw within 3 hours??????    Now what?????

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