Sunday, January 31, 2010

While they were sleeping...

Much to my own disbelief, as I type this, there are five kids, one husband and one large dog peacefully snoozing -- and snoring -- away.  Truth be told, there's a part of me that's just a bit bitter that all around me are the sounds of peaceful slumber since I too would welcome a well-deserved nap.  That said, there's another part of me that's overjoyed to have a rare quiet moment and the opportunity to get things done without tripping over babies or promising for the hundredth time, "just a minute Liam and Ciara!!!"

As silence envelops the Lyons Den, I've crossed a fair amount off our (ok, really it's MY) ambitious weekend to-do list.  Balance checkbook and pay bills.  Check!  Update calendar for February.  Check!  File bills and organize 2009 tax folder.  Check!  Buy gifts for next weekend's birthday parties and baby shower.  Check!  Start laundry.  Check! Locate Netflix movies for return mail tomorrow.  Check!  This one, by the way, gives me great pleasure in checking off the list because, as my Netflix queue just confirmed, we've had The Incredibles since July 17th!  And, the worst part, of course, is that we didn't even watch it since Liam deemed it too scary after the first five minutes.  Incredible, indeed!

I suppose what I should do next is start dinner... although, I'm quite tempted to just settle in and settle down for a few moments myself.  As always, it was a whirlwind weekend, kicked off by the "Cubs" 15-month visit to the pediatrician on Friday.  The doctor's visit reminded me once again of how quickly the time flies by.  It reminded me of how much I will miss about these baby years... and, how much I won't!  In a nutshell, I will NOT miss cutting grapes into six pieces and blueberries into fours.  I will NOT miss spit up, baby cereal or my constant state of snot-covered shoulders. I will NOT miss the sobs of teething or the "age of peril" as the babies attempt to swim in toilet boils, ignite themselves on the stove and swing from the bookshelves.  But, I will miss the irresistable appeal of a little tot saying "Uppie".  I will miss those awkward open-mouthed wet kisses.  And I will definitely miss the thump-thumps of speed-crawlers and the pitter-patters of little feet.  And, although I have missed a lot of sleep, well, I know it's all just part of this fleeting phase and I wonder if next Sunday, I just might join in as my pretty ones sleep. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amazing Things

In the past week, I've twice encountered the notion of "amazing things can happen" and it's really resonated with me.  First, it was Conan's last show -- which, for the record, I didn't watch live despite my best efforts to stay awake, but did TIVO and boy, am I ever glad I did.  Rather than dazzle us with his comedic talent and ascerbic wit, Conan decided to deliver an inspirational and seeminlgy genuine message. It was time he could have used at NBC's expense, delivering one last shot before he rode off into the Hollywood sunset.  But instead, Conan used his moment to inspire today's youth by imploring them (dare I say us?) that if you are "kind and work hard, amazing things will happen."  I was impressed that he took the high road and thought to myself that these are truly good words to live by.

My second encounter with a phrase involving "amazing things" occurred today as I went to NY Presbyterian for my annual exam.  There was a big banner above the door with the hospital's logo "Amazing things are happening here."  I remembered when the triplets were born and they had just unveiled this new corporate slogan. I thought to myself "Wow, three amazing things really did just happen here!"  Walking in the door today was a very different sensation though... without a big belly in front of me or a bunch of kids and babies next to me, well, I was just like everyone else.  Gone was the sense that I was a part of the amazing things happening there.  It was replaced with a sad feeling that my amazing thing had already happened -- against all odds, and with many thanks to the great doctors at NY Pres, I gave birth to three healthy babies.  So, now what? 

I don't know if it's age or hormones or what but I find myself really contemplating if my amazing thing has already happened or, if I'm kind and work hard, are there yet more amazing things ahead of me?  Ever the optimist, I suppose I'm in the camp of the latter.  Most certainly, amazing things have happened in my life -- and the babies are really just one example.  When I think about it, my life in general is fairly amazing -- I've got healthy kids, a great husband, a job I like, incredible friends, a supportive family and hobbies that I'm passionate about.  With this in mind, I'm now convinced that amazing things in my life aren't simply in the past tense -- there surely must be more to come... especially when I remember that amazing things need not be life-changing events but can be even the smallest of accomplishments in any given day... a baby taking his first steps, a 3 year old taking her first gymnastics class, a 5 year old learning to read -- these are the amazing things in my life and I'm now confident that if I'm kind and work hard, there will be many more. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Game Day

Somewhat against my will, we (ALL) headed to the Fordham basketball game this afternoon.  I had a bunch of reasons I believed to be good ones NOT to go -- it was nap time for the babies, there was laundry to be done, sheets to be changed and a handful of other household chores that I might have accomplished on this chilly Saturday afternoon.  But, Des was keen to go... "It's Collegiate Day!" he proclaiemed as he extolled the virtues of seeing Division I basketball up close and personal and just a half hour away from home.

So, my sense of adventure overruled my sense of responsibility and we hit the road.  We arrived just after half-time to a cheering crowd and blasting band that confirmed it would be a nap-free afternoon.  While I grumbled about over-tired tots who were overheating in their coats, something rather remarkable happened... Liam was transfixed by the players, Ciara was awed by the cheerleaders, Declan started waving his fist in time with the music, Kevin seemed to be humming and Cormac was just as jolly as can be.  And Des, well, he was charming a security guard and before I knew it, we had front row seats!

Just as I was thinking things couldn't be better (unless, of course, Fordham won the game -- which sadly, they didn't), one of the security guards informed us that the Yankee's World Series trophy was in the building. You must understand, ours is a family that takes great pride in "pinstripes."  As Des put when Liam was born, "there are two things that are non-negotiable -- he will be Catholic and he will be a Yankee fan."  So, when the game ended, we had the good fortune to have a photo-op with the very trophy that Jeter and the rest of the Bronx Bombers had worked so hard for.  And, it was a good reminder to pause in the pleasure of "Game Day." The naps, as it turned out, weren't needed and the laundry and sheets can wait until tomorrow.  And, I've learned once again, that there is most certainly no harm -- and most likely a lot of fun to be had -- in indulging your sense of adventure!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Perfectionist no more?

Those who know me would probably agree that I've got a perfectionist streak. In fact, they'd likely say that it's much more than a streak! It's exemplified in a variety of ways, big and small -- from making sure the bed is made before I'm barely out of it to dressing in a way that's admittedly a bit too matchy-matchy. These perfectionist tendencies started when I was just a kid -- I took great pride in the 5th grade when my socks matched my undies matched my sweater matched my bermuda bag matched my watch band matched my headband. Very cute indeed.

Since having kids, I've tried hard to be true to my perfectionist self. Although now, with five under six, I've come to realize that sometimes I just have to let go. Like last Thanksgiving... the triplets were 6 weeks old, Ciara just turned 2, Liam was not yet 4, I had bronchitis and we were hosting the family dinner. As it turned out, Whole Foods actually made a tasty turkey for us and everything tasted great without our fancy china or a tablecloth on the table. Stunning, I know! Turns out, you don't actually need fancy china, an ironed tablecloth and a homecooked meal to celebrate Thanksgiving... all you really need is to be surrounded by family and friends in good health and you realize there's a LOT to be thankful for! What a revelation!

More recently, my slipping perfectionism has revealed itself more often than I'd like... just this week, I was pulled over. Twice. Once on the way to the pediatrician with two tots in tow and once en route to visit my grandparents with the whole circus along for the ride. Was I speeding? No. Talking or texting? No. Turns out my inspection expired. In December. Who knew?! The pre-kid me definitely would have known but now, well, clearly not! And, even after the first eagle-eyed cop noticed my inspection sticker and pulled me over, I still couldn't find time to remedy the situation before being pulled over again! Now, whenever the kids see flashing lights, they ask, "are they coming for you, Mom?" Gotta love it.

Another shining example of perfectionism passed is when I called to cancel my haircut (again!) yesterday and said "Oh sorry, could you repeat that? I just stepped on a baby and totally missed what you said." I just stepped on baby! Can you imagine?! Not only doing it but saying it?! Oops! Truth be told, I do step on a baby at least once a day... if they're lucky, I don't have shoes on and, lest you're wondering, it's not deliberate -- there are just literally babies underfoot here!

The things that fly out of my mouth these days are really just astounding... I can't imagine my former Polly Perfectionist self saying things like: "Delcan, please don't bite your brother's head." "Kev, was it really a good idea to eat that dirt covered grape off the floor?" "Cormac, that was NOT an uh-oh!" "Ciara, stop smothering your brothers!" "Liam, if you do that again, I'm going to... oh geez, I don't know what I'm going to do! Just STOP IT!!!!"

Where oh where did Polly Perfectionsit go?! Some days she makes an appearance but I see less and less of her as the days go by. Sometimes I miss her. I'd be lying if I pretended not to be upset when I can't find my red scarf to go with my red bag! But, most days, I'm glad she's moved on. Letting Polly Perfectionist go has been good for me -- and better for my family, I'm sure! That said, if anyone finds her out there, could you just send her back with my matching red gloves?!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Like many of us, I start each new year with new resolutions. Many of my past resolutions have been vague and rather common: exercise more, eat breakfast, save more, spend less.

Not surprisingly, these resolutions have rarely been achieved. And this year, I think I finally figured out why. They have indeed been far too vague! It's difficult to measure success against a goal like "exercise more". What does this mean exactly? If, say, in 2008 I went to the gym twice and in 2009 I went three times, well, is that success? It is indeed more but really, it doesn't seem to legitimately accomplish the goal I set out.

So, this year I decided to set more concrete goals. This way, I figure, I can accurately assess my achievement -- or lack thereof! Even as I type this, i wonder, why oh why have I done this to myself? Like I really need to place more demands on my already demanding life?! But, having had a good first week of keeping true to my resolutions, I thought I'd share the method of my madness with you.

My goals for 2010 are good goals. They are focused on things I enjoy, things that make me feel good, things that will better my life and my family. A few examples:

  • Exercise twice a week. So far, so good... thanks to a hardcore gal pal who met me two mornings this week at 6AM, even in slick, snowy darkness! The exercise thing is really a bit selfish because truth be told, I love it. I love the feeling it gives me. The endorphin rush and the sense that I've accomplished something just for me before the tots even awake... which, is the only opportunity I have in any given day to do something just for me!

  • Save a set amount monthly. Well, it's too early in the month to see how I'll fare on this one but I think the intention is good -- it ought to be much easier to save a set amount that we've agreed to rather than hold ourselves to some loosey-goosey goal of "save more." I'll let you know how I'm measuring up on this one as time goes by...

  • Do yoga twice a month. Ok, again, too early to tell. However, I did take my first yoga class of the year today. It's the first time I've done yoga since I wrote about the great experience I had this past summer. Once again, the class didn't disappoint. You should know that I am NOT good at yoga and I struggle to see the benefits of lying on the floor tuning in to my own breath. Especially since I'm typically congested and end up snorting but, I suppose that's a personal problem! In any case, yoga is something that I see the value of and strive to appreciate more. It's also something that I always approach with trepidation but always appreciate afterwards. Today, I enjoyed a great class with a stunning view of the ice flows bobbing down the Hudson. I did my best and didn't beat myself up for not necessarily posing with perfection. I took away a key message: Challenge yourself to be still.

Challenge yourself to be still. This makes sense to me. And, it is a HUGE challenge for me. "Still" is not part of my vernacular. It doesn't come naturally to me. But, as with the practice of yoga itself, the ability to just be still makes good sense. So, after achieving most of my resolutions here in this first full week of 2010, I now have one more to add to the list.

Be still. I'm going to try. And, I wish that my five tots five and under would try too... that would make it a whole heck of a lot easier!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Silent Night

"Silence is golden." It's a phrase I've heard time and again but never really internalized or appreciated until this past Christmas. As you might imagine, silence in our home is a rarity. At any given moment there might be a dog barking, babies babbling, kids brawling, friends bantering or all of the above. The noise is so constant that it has become the backdrop of our lives.

I liken it to when I lived in a second floor apartment on Lexington Avenue -- it was above a busy intersection where trucks bounced over potholes, taxis screeched by, firetrucks and amubulances provided a symphony of sirens, garbage trucks clanked in the wee hours of the morning and buses exhaled loudly as they dropped off their passengers. For the first few weeks, it was almost impossible to sleep through the noise but then, all of a sudden, I stopped noticing it. I no longer heard the sirens that alarmed my friends as we talked on the phone or the garbage trucks that woke out of town visitors.

It's now much the same in my house. During the day, anyway. I don't hear the persistent noise or the constant din. And for the most part, it's a happy noise -- during the day, anyway. At night, it's a completely different story. Unlike the apartment at 71st and Lex, I can no longer sleep through the din... and, as we took the Lyons Family Circus on the road this Christmas and New Year's, I fear that my family and friends couldn't either!

On Christmas night, I slept in the bed I grew up in with three tots in pack & plays as my roommates. If you've ever shared a room with three stuffed-up, teething one year olds who howl when they lose their blankies, you too would have a keen new appreication for silence.

On New Year's Eve, I was fortunate to be at a good friend's house with the whole crew in tow... including Finnegan, the family dog... who was restless in his new surroundings and kept running in and out of our room, hopping on and off of our bed and, as if I needed it, alerting me to the fact that there were three screaming babies in the room next door. It started just after midnight and I admit, had me rather bitterly lamenting that there must be a better way to usher in a new year! In any case, the only thing worse than three screaming babies at midnight is, well, three screaming babies at midnight in someone else's house! In our house, it's fine -- I might even try to let them cry it out. But, at someone else's house, that would be just plain rude. So, Des and I did our best to quiet our distraught babes without disturbing the entire house. And, somewhere just before 2AM, we all settled in for what would then be a silent night.

Thanks to our holiday adventures (trust me, it is indeed an adventure to mobilize the Lyons Den for an overnight visit!), I have a newfound appreciation for that old adage "Silence is golden." While my first reaction to silence is to panic -- are the babies breathing? why are the kids sleeping so late? did we leave the dog outside?! -- I am now keenly aware of the beauty of the sound of silence. As this new year unfolds, I hope that your days are filled with many of the same happy noises that fill our home and I hope that your nights are filled with the sounds of silence.