Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Successful "Staycation"

Last week, for the first time since my own childhood, I officially experienced the sensation of “school’s out for summer” – that euphoric feeling associated with long days at the pool and hot nights spent catching fireflies. Since our little guy just finished kindergarten (a fact which still seems hard to believe!), “summer” is now defined by the ten weeks until Labor Day when I won’t need to hustle him out of bed and onto the bus with a peanut-free lunch by 7:30. This alone is cause for celebration and prompted us to look into a last-minute getaway to kick off Summer 2010 in the “Lyons Den.”

We were disappointed to find the numerous beach getaways we explored cost-prohibitive but found ourselves pleasantly surprised by a “staycation” weekend at home. “We are officially on vacation!” we told the kids on Friday morning as we lounged in bed with all five of them. We never get to do that – just stay in our pajamas and snuggle and tickle and do our best to keep the triplets from falling to the floor. We’re usually rushing out the door, nagging the “big kids” to eat their breakfast and telling the babies crying in their cribs that we’ll be there “in a minute.” So, this simple act of bouncing on the bed signaled a shift in spirit. “Yay! Vacation! We LOVE vacation!”

After finally getting dressed, we went to the grocery store, where we filled the cart with items from aisles we typically avoid – a ten-pack of sugar cereals featuring Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam, Doritos, lemonade, iced tea, ice cream, freezer pops, Cool Whip – it’s quite possible that the only items with any true nutritional value were the strawberries (purchased with the sole intent of making strawberry shortcake) and milk (which, with a trio of one year olds in the house is still a requirement!).

With our fridge adequately stocked with treats, we headed to the pool – and found it be a rather resort-like atmosphere at noon on a Friday… especially since I’d opted to leave the cooler at home so that we could indulge in the offerings from the snack bar for lunch. Water-logged and sun-kissed a few hours later, we headed home for happy hour because really, what is vacation without a happy hour?! While the kids enjoyed lemonade and Doritos, we had a beer and, um, Doritos. Yum!

Next up: Dinner. While we do often cook on vacation, we decided to head out instead. As you might imagine, we don’t often dine out with our five kids five and under. As one of our fellow diners observed the other night, “this can not be a very relaxing meal for you.” Indeed, it was not. However, I didn’t cook it and I didn’t clean it up. When we asked who had fun at dinner, five little hands went up in the air – sticky, ice cream covered little hands with matching sticky ice cream smiles. This was really starting to feel like vacation.

We walked home as the sun set and the fireflies lit the way. It was well past bedtime and my daughter asked if she could watch a movie. I said yes. Then our kindergartner – oops, I mean 1st grader! – asked if he could watch the Yankee game. And I said yes. They looked at me at the same time and said “but Mom, you NEVER say yes!!!” I’m not sure that I “NEVER” say yes but I do know that when we’re on vacation, the rules change. So, after we tucked the triplets in for the night, Liam got cozy on the couch with his Dad to cheer on his favorite team while Ciara and I settled in to watch Peter Pan; we were both asleep long before they reached Neverland – quite possibly dreaming of pirates and pixie dust and the fun to be had before you grow up. In all, it was a most excellent way to kick off Summer 2010 and proved to us that a “staycation” just might be as good as a vacation.

(This post originally appeared at www.parentsask.com)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Ode to Dad(s)

With Father’s Day fresh on my mind, I can’t help but reflect upon how I really lucked out in the Dad lottery – both in the Dad I’m fortunate to have and the Dad that my husband has become. Let’s start out with my Dad. Simply put, he’s a good guy. He’s the kind of guy who is fair but certainly not a pushover; he can be tough but certainly not mean. He’s the kind of guy you really want to do well by. He’s the kind of guy who is as likely to spend a Sunday puttering in his own garden as he is to be tending to the flowers at church… or my grandparents… or anywhere else where the flowers -- or the people --need some tending to.

He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t give up and who demands the same type of stick-to-it-ness in those around him. Perfect example, the poor guy recently tore his rotator cuff – and I’m ashamed to admit that it happened while watching my kids. In any case, it’s his right shoulder and he’s right-handed. It really stinks. Especially since my Dad is the kind of guy who loves to play tennis and tennis season is literally just getting into full swing. But, rather than miss out on the fun, the competition and the camaraderie, rather than sit on the sidelines for a season, what does my Dad decide to do? He decides to learn to play lefty! Lefty! After sixty-plus years as a righty, rather than be kept down, my Dad decides to start swinging on the left. That’s the kind of guy my Dad is.

 He’s also the only guy who I’ll really listen to. During the course of my extremely high-risk and unanticipated triplet pregnancy, I was told by the world’s best doctors, best friends and best husband that I needed to chill out. That I had to slow down, take it easy, and put the lives of these babies before my own ambition to be the hard-charging career gal and SuperMom I wanted to be. Even after a pre-term labor scare at 26 weeks, I found it hard to sit still. I was itching to get back to work, back to play, back to life as I knew it. I was frustrated at the notion of missing out, of being benched. Until my Dad just looked at me, subtly shook his head and said something like “It’s not forever Ker. It’s just a few months. A few months that will make a huge difference for these babies. And, for you.” That’s it. He hadn’t said anything more or less than the experts and pals who’d been urging me to take a timeout. He hadn’t raised his voice or copped an attitude. He was just being my Dad. And I knew he was right. And I didn’t want to disappoint him. So, I started working from home, doing the grocery shopping online and napping in the afternoon – which led to delivering three big, bouncing baby boys at 36 weeks.

Which brings me to my husband. He’s the guy who bears the brunt of it all – an overtired, stressed out wife and five kids five and under. He’s the guy who adeptly juggled his job, household chores and our two toddlers while I was preggo with the triplets. The guy who used to be afraid of changing diapers and can now do it with his eyes closed… even though he’ll still opt out every chance he gets! He’s the guy who cooks up a tasty dinner each and every night when I would toss in the towel and serve “Dinner Eggs” again. He’s the guy who coaches T-Ball, picks up at preschool and insists we go to church on Sunday. He’s the guy who reminds me not to sweat the small stuff – it’s ok if the onesie is on backwards; it’s ok if the dishes wait ‘til later; it’s ok if the laundry doesn’t get put away right now. He’s the guy who reminds me that a day in the park or at the pool trumps a clean house or that Sunday afternoons are better for napping than fretting. He’s the fun guy – the one that riles the kids up before bedtime and will read them a story no matter how late it is. At the same time though, he is the guy who lays down the law – no dessert unless you finish your dinner and no talking back! In a lot ways, he’s a lot like my Dad. Which means that our kids just won the Dad lottery too.

(Originally posted at http://www.parentsask.com/)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I’m not exactly proud to admit this but, we used to be afraid of the triplets. Very afraid. Come to think of it, in those early infant days, we were afraid of Liam and Ciara too. Very afraid. I think the sleeplessness that plagues parents of newborns awakens a primitive survival instinct – DO NOT WAKE A SLEEPING BABY!!!!!!!!!!! Do not go near them! Do not walk, tread, breathe, sneeze or utter a word in their slumbering presence… for if you do, you just may wake the monster within. You just might find yourself up all night yet again -- endlessly shushing, rocking, feeding, strolling, bouncing, swaying, possibly swearing and fiercely fighting fatigue until your precious little one gives up the fight and starts sweetly snoozing just as the sun comes up.

We’ve all be there, right? Well, imagine being there times THREE! Imagine the panic of THREE tiny wonders waking up in the middle of the night, demanding God knows what – are they hungry? Hot? Cold? Overtired? Restless? Gassy? Need a new diaper? Onesie too tight? Whatever could it be?! Those first months home with the triplets were a total blur. I honestly don’t know how we did it. Sure we had a baby nurse helping with the night shift for three weeks but let’s face it, these kids didn’t sleep through the night for at least six months! And ever since, well, we’re always up for one thing or another – between the five kids in total, there’s typically someone who is teething, someone who lost their “wawa”, someone with a dirty diaper, someone with a nasty cold or stomach virus, someone who wet their bed, someone who made it to the potty just in time without wetting the bed and thinks 3 AM is a good time to tell us about it… you get the picture. So, perhaps you will understand why we pretty much lived in fear of our trio of tots for a while. We were sleep deprived. In a big, bad way.

But, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve officially turned a corner. While we used to tiptoe by the closed door of the babies’ room holding our breath, we now take a peek inside. We’re increasingly likely to venture in, unable to resist the cute factor of three little rumps up in the air as the triplets peacefully slumber. We might even loiter just a bit, hoping that one of them will wake up and reward us with a big toothy grin. And if he does, we might even pick that little fella up and give him a great big hug because we just can’t resist. We are officially smitten.

Smitten! Our little guys exude oodles of charm and we’re suddenly under their spell as we watch them toddle around like a true band of brothers – constantly into mischief and yet so innocent at the same time. They live in the inevitable limbo-land of a growing vocabulary, increasing mobility and daily progression toward becoming real rough and tumble little boys. Our snuggle time is growing sparse and It won’t be long now until they no longer want an “uppie.” And, while I’d like to believe that it won’t be long until the biting and hair pulling stops, I suspect we may be in for a lifetime of testosterone induced scuffles. Whatever comes next, I’m going to do my best to enjoy this magical melee that is life as we know it now. My mornings begin with a trio of 20-month olds who greet each day joyfully bouncing in their cribs as they sing “Mama! Mama! Mama!!!” It’s hard to imagine it can get better than that. Although, something tells me it just might. By the way, did I mention that I’m smitten?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Something in the air?!

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s something in the air. Perhaps it’s the pollen that’s been floating around; maybe the yellow dust it leaves on the porch has permeated my brain. Maybe it’s a hormonal flux. Or some sort of lunar phase. Whatever it is, it has moved me to tears more times than I care to admit over the past week.

My daughter Ciara had her last day of gymnastics on Wednesday and when I arrived to observe, she leapt up out of her pike pose, squealed “MaMA!!!!!!!!” with delight and scampered into my lap like a snuggle-bunny. And I started sniffling like a ninny -- which almost turned into sobbing like a fool when she got her year-end trophy. A trophy! Not only can my girl do a somersault, she has a trophy to prove it! Sob!

On Thursday, it was her last day of preschool … well, technically, it was just the end of her “3 day 3s” program – she’ll be going back in the fall for the “5 day 4s”… which makes it all the more ridiculous that I was once again moved to tears. Looking at the sweet little photo album she received as a memento of the year was just too much. Similar to the caterpillar to butterfly transformation she has told me so much about, my own little lady has morphed into a real little girl. A real kid. And, from what they told me, a kid who is as fast on the playground as she is in the classroom. It’s admittedly with a fair amount of pride that I thought “yep, that’s my girl!” Sob!

Then there’s my oldest son, Liam, whose last day of kindergarten is rapidly approaching. I had to pick up his first grade school supplies this week – an event that already had me on the verge but, as I strolled through his elementary school, taking in the pictures and poetry that adorned the walls, I just couldn’t help myself. Sniffle. Sniffle. SOB! My little boy is growing up! He’s going to be a FIRST GRADER!!!!!! Oh where oh where does the time go?!

Speaking of time, I found myself cleaning out the triplets’ dresser AGAIN this week. Given that I’ve got three toddlers sharing one dresser, it’s no wonder that rapid turnover is required. I guess I just wasn’t ready for them to outgrow all the 12-18 month stuff so soon! I was overcome with nostalgia as I put the too small onesies in hand-me-down piles for my sister and friends. This is really the end of the onesie for them. At 20 months, frankly, I’d be hard pressed to find a onesie that fits – on their bodies or in their drawers! Even so, saying good bye to the onesies really represents saying good-bye to the baby days… for them and for me. They’ll have no more onesies and I’ll have no more babies. SOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s over. The gymnastics, the “3 day 3s”, kindergarten and onesies. It’s all over and I must say, good byes have never been my strong point. In fact, my husband always starts to hustle me out of any social setting a good half hour before we need to leave because he knows it will take at least that long for me to bid my farewells.

So, in this past week that’s been full of endings, I’ve been full of tears. And while I’d like to chalk it up to something in the air, I suppose I must confess that’s it’s really something in me. Something that simply needs a moment to be nostalgic about the endings before I can embrace the new beginnings. Fortunately, experience has already shown me that as quickly as time does fly by, it just keeps getting better and better. And, come to think of it, I probably won’t miss wrestling three squirmy babies into onesies anyway!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do!

It’s pretty common for younger siblings to mimic everything the “big” ones say or do. And there’s a certain amount of adoration that I think, if you’re lucky, comes naturally among brothers and sisters. It’s a phenomenon I witness daily when Ciara (now 3) wakes up and groggily utters “Where’s Liam?” These are her very first words seven days a week. Not “I’m hungry” or “Good morning.” Not “Hi Mom,” “I have to pee” or “I don’t want to get up.” Just a sincere, concerned and eager “Where is Liam?!”

She worships him. Her big brother is two years older and has introduced her to everything from Santa Claus to silly bands. In fact, one of her first words was indeed “Santa.” In any case, she is prone to eat what he eats, repeat what he says, follow him wherever he goes and hang on his every word.

Now that our triplets are 19 months old, they have heroes of their own as they follow Liam and Ciara around like little ducks in a row. My “big” kids definitely appreciate the attentive audience that a trio of one year olds provide and are prone to put on a good show for them. Occasionally however, the triplets just want to do their own thing. As one might have predicted, these little fellas have a language of their own and take the “monkey see, monkey do” dynamic that Liam and Ciara have mastered to a whole new level.
A few weeks ago, we were visiting friends for dinner. They had a massive swing set in their backyard that I was sure the “babies” wouldn’t go near. As I relaxed with a glass of wine, I looked up to see Declan climbing up the slide -- a seven foot slide! Quicker than I could cross the lawn, Kevin and Cormac were climbing right up behind him; the Crocs they were wearing must have had some sort of super non-slip grip because all three of them somehow made it to the top. And then, all three of them started clapping and chanting some sort of a self-congratulatory cheer – because, whatever one of them does, the other two can’t help but follow.

Having just one toddler has its challenges but with three of them tripping over each other and at times literally tripping me up, I have dubbed Summer 2010 the "Summer of Peril." Since Memorial Day (which I believe was only a week ago?!), I’ve already pulled slippery babes out of the kiddie pool, yanked obstinate tots out oncoming traffic, and put a stop to the jolly good time they had dancing on the picnic table in the backyard. I’ve said “no, no, no” more times than I wish to admit as they tore freshly planted flowers from the ground and tossed clean sippy cups on the dirty floor. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a killjoy. But, with toddler group-think ruling our roost, I don’t see any other choice!

There are upsides to this constant parrot-like mimicry. When one brushes his teeth, the others follow. When one heads in for a bath, the others follow. When one sits down for a snack, the other two plop down next to him in a neat little line. Now, if I can only figure out how to get one to load the dishwasher or fold the laundry, well, I’d be all the more willing to embrace this “Monkey see, Monkey do” mentality!

Note: this post originally appeared on http://www.parentsask.com/

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bad Mommy?

I had to go away for work last week. Again. A part of me was dreading leaving all my “Cubs” behind for three nights. A part of me was exhausted from a hectic weekend at home and the prep work involved in leaving for a few days – dinner plans, lunch box options, laundry, play dates, notes to the sitter, notes to my husband , even notes to self! And then, as we attempted to enjoy a civilized Sunday supper and I had to reprimand Ciara for spitting in Liam’s milk and the triplets for feeding the dog, I realized that a part of me was also kind of, well, psyched.

While I would have long days full of meetings, clients and demands, I was virtually guaranteed that I could eat a meal without flying food or leaving the table to enforce a time out. As I looked around at the mayhem I was about to leave behind and thought about the relative peace that a business trip would provide, I had to wonder yet again, am I a Bad Mommy?

A few phone calls during the week would suggest that I am. To share just a few examples:

• We had no cold cuts for Liam’s lunch. I had left cooked chicken nuggets (made at 7AM Monday morning!), thinking that might make me a Good Mommy. But it didn’t. I’m told that as my husband cleared the chicken nuggets out of the backpack, my sincere kindergartener whined, “I told Mom I didn’t want chicken nuggets!” Which is true, but I couldn’t come up with an alternative before I raced to the airport. Which makes me not only a Bad Mommy but a Bad Listener and clearly, a Bad Grocery Shopper!

• The next two days, Liam arrived home from kindergarten with wet pants. The kid hasn’t peed in his pants in a while. When asked why, he announced without hesitation “because I miss Mommy.” Enough said, right?

• Last but not least, I forgot about an early closing and that the poor kid would be arriving home on the bus at 11:30 instead of 2:30. Man, if I ended up alone at the bus stop, I just might wet my pants too!

There were a few other minor issues… I ran out of time over the weekend to get our triplet stroller repaired, leaving my sitter in a lurch. I hadn’t anticipated the sudden (early!) arrival of summer and ninety degree temperatures so all the kids sweltered in too-heavy pjs and scrambled for shorts and t-shirts.

Despite it all though, when I finally got home, weary from an intense work week, I was greeted by smiles, hugs, and if I do say so myself, even a few jumps for joy. My tots most certainly weren’t holding a grudge about my absence or the things I forgot… which made me think maybe I’m not such a Bad Mommy after all. Just don’t tell them how much I enjoyed my fancy client dinners!

This post originally appeared on http://www.parentsask.com/

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

All Mine

Strangers say the darndest things.  One that I hear quite frequently is "Are they all yours?!"  Sometimes it's asked with awe, sometimes with simple astonishment and I swear that sometimes, it comes with more than a hint of horror... as in "they couldn't possibly ALL be yours, could they?!" 

No matter how the question is posed, it strikes me as a bit odd.  I mean really, why would I go through the hassle of lugging so many kids around if they didn't all belong to me?  And where praytell might I find a bunch of babies who look curiously alike to one I already have?  I mean really people, the triplets are identical!  Of course they all belong to me!

Despite the number of times I've fielded this rather obtrusive and bizarre query, I found myself suddenly struck by a similar thought as we took all the kids to the pool for the first time last weekend.  As I observed their jolly splishing and splashing, I couldn't help but think something like this...

YIKES!!! ALL these kids belong to me! And all five of them are near/in the water!  And only one of them can swim!  We need swim lessons!  We need life jackets!  I need octopus arms!  Oh where oh where did my husband go?! 

My panic subsides as he returns and together we watch our brood frolic poolside.  With a certain smug satisfaction, we look at each other and smile.  Because they are indeed ours.  All ours.  And that makes us pretty darn lucky.