Monday, January 31, 2011

A "Poo Poo" Poem

This is the tale of three tots who were all tucked in
But then started to make quite a loud din
To the room I rushed as they giggled with glee
And what to my wondering eyes did I see?

Three little fellas bouncing up and down
No longer wearing pjs and acting like clowns
Their clothes were off, thrown to the floor
Little did I know what was in store.

On the ground with their pajamas were their blankies and their toys
Chattering and laughing were my little boys
"I have POO POO!" exclaimed one and then another
As each pointed a finger at another brother.

They were still wearing onesies so I wasn't too alarmed
In fact they were cute, working their boyish charms.
I took the first guy out and changed his diaper quickly
When suddenly I noticed something that looked rather sickly.

It was another little fella with a smudge under his eye
"What do we have here?" I thought as I picked up the little guy.
"Poo poo!" he said as he grinned from ear to ear
And I let out a howl that I'm surprised you didn't hear.

"POO POO!" he once more shouted, quite proud of what he'd done
As I wondered once again "who ever said motherhood was fun?!"
"Oh SH*T!" I thought to myself as I took a closer look...
It was under his nails, on his arms and legs and stuck in every nook.

It was on the crib, on the sheets, on the changing table too,
This was not the night I had in mind, I don't mind telling you!
After a bath and a stern little chat back to bed my boy did go,
I think he was bragging to his brothers but I suppose I'll never know.

I do know this and I'm not afraid to admit it,
These guys are really funny -- even when covered in sh*t!  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Recipe for a snow day

Is it just me or has this January had more snow days than school days?!  I know that there are some solid meterological explanations for the record-setting snowfalls but, after eavesdropping on some kids at the bus stop yesterday, I think there may be more to it.  Namely, I think our local grammar schoolers have come up with a fool-proof recipe for a snow day.  There are four simple steps:
  1. Flush an ice cube down the toilet
  2. Put a spoon under your pillow
  3. Wear your pajamas inside out
  4. Do a snow dance (Note:  this is a free form dance event; no scripted steps.  I know because I asked the six year old in charge for specifics!)
Based on last night's snow dance performance and dutiful following of the recipe above, I can attest that it seems to work!  We got the call today at 5:30AM:  School is cancelled!  SNOW DAY!!!!!!!!!!  Hurray!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No "typical" day in the Lyons Den

Last week I had the good fortune to organize a girls night out with a bunch of local moms. Some I knew, some I didn’t and all seemed to have the same question: “Tell us about a typical day. What is it really like with all of those kids?”

One reply would be that there is nothing “typical” about any day in the Lyons Den. While routine reigns supreme, much like our rules, our routines are quite often broken. We do our best to just roll with it -- something that does not come naturally to me! With that in mind, here’s a glimpse into a recent day… let’s call it Tuesday… a Tuesday when the sitter and I both had the day off from work and I was the full-time LyonsDenMOM that I love to be!
 5:45AM Wake up. Reluctantly drag sluggish self out of bed, bundle up for run, stagger to turn on coffee pot on way out.

6:00 AM Meet friends for cold, dark, icy morning run.

6:45 AM Return home feeling great and ready for the day ahead. Unload dishwasher, consume large cup of coffee.

7:00 AM Drag 1st grader out of bed. Poke, prod, prompt him to get dressed, eat breakfast , brush teeth, comb hair and bolt for bus.

7:30 AM Put boy on bus; take dog for walk.

8:10 AM Return from dog walk. Peek in at Princess PreSchooler; urge her to get up and get dressed

8:15 AM Greet boys bouncing in cribs. Literally. Two year old triplets are catching air as they greet me enthusiastically and in unison alternating between “How are you today?!” and “GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!”

8:30 AM Husband leaves. Early. Thought he was going to drop off Princess PreSchool but he can’t. Panic. Only have a half hour to get four kids fed and dressed and out the door!

9:15 AM Missed the deadline. Drop the Princess off. Late. Again.

9:30 AM Back home. Cubs still need breakfast and are due at “Stepping Stones” in fifteen minutes. Devise a quick game of “Pass the Banana” to get some nutrition in them before bolting out the door again.

9:45 AM Cubs class starts.

10:00 AM We arrive. Hang three coats, gather three hats and six mittens. Wash six hands. I depart amid sweet protests of “No Go Mama!"

10:10 AM Home. House looks like a tornado went through it. Time to make beds, tidy cribs, clean kitchen, thrown in laundry and take a shower.

11:35 AM No time for shower. Again. Arrive to pick up Cubs (5 minutes late); wrestle them into hats, coats and mittens; begin walk to pick up Princess PreSchool. Realize we will never make there on time. Again.

11:55 AM Shortcut turns into long-cut due to ice and snow. Barely survive nature’s slip & slide as I make three trips to get triplets up and over snow bank. Thankfully, Princess PreSchool and her teachers are forgiving as we literally slide in the door. Late. Again.

12:00 PM Sun is shining, kids are bundled up, this Mom is feeling game and decides for some outside playtime before stopping for pizza on way home.

12:30 PM Pizza and juice boxes followed by the resistance and rebelliousness one might expect from a trio of tired two year olds and their feisty four year old sister.

1:15 PM Head home. Ten minute walk turns into 45 minute crawl with avid attention given to Con Ed workers, snow plows, dump trucks, even delivery trucks. My curious Cubs stop to take it all in. Tedious, yes, but so far this still beats a day in the office!

2:00 PM Home at last. Already well past nap time. Need to quickly bathe triplets and tuck them in so I can bolt back to bus stop for 2:30 pick up. I can’t be late; if I’m not there, they will return my 1st grader to school and that would really screw up my afternoon!

2:35 PM 1st grader flies off bus and into my arms with a huge grin. I love this day.

2:45 PM 1st grader and Princess PreSchooler brawling as triplets scream from cribs. I hate this day.

3:00 PM Snack time for “big kids” as I sort mail and consider what to do for dinner. Roast chickens (yep, we need two of ‘em!) sound good. Plan to put them in at 4:00.

3:15 PM Can’t stand the bickering anymore. Turn TV on and sort through hurricane of hand-me-downs as big kids absorb mindless drivel courtesy of Yo Gabba Gabba and Wow Wow Wubzy. Who comes up with this stuff?!

4:30 PM OMG! How is it 4:30?! Why are there piles of clothes (2T, 3T, 5T Girls!) covering every surface of my living room?! What about the chickens? We’re supposed to eat at 6:00! Must put chickens in oven NOW!!

5:18 PM Chickens are in. Took longer than expected. Big kids finishing another snack. Little kids up from nap; angry and demanding “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” They no longer ask “How are you today?!” 

5:20 PM Bath time for big kids; diaper change for little guys. All are singing and jolly now. I love this day.

6:00 PM Chickens not done, five kids hungry and screaming. I am exhausted, aching and ready to tear my hair out. I hate this day!

7:00 PM Feed kids cooked bits of chicken as they polish off another gallon of milk. They tell Dad about playing “Pass the Banana”, going out for pizza and how cool it was to see me at the bus stop. I love this day.

So, that’s it! Nothing "typical" about it beyond the prevailing chaos and frequent ups and downs that I’m sure are familiar to most moms. As for me, well, I admit that sometimes it's a break to go to work but, I relish my time at home and truly do love these days.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nothing beats a happy kid

Today I thought I’d share a simple little picture; it's a Liam Lyons original and as far as I’m concerned, it says it all:

As parents, we feel so much pressure to push our children to achieve, to do, to excel… and if you ask me, it starts at a frightfully early age. Liam is only six and we’re feeling it already… the pressure to sign up for every sport under the sun, to take music lessons, to get good grades, and so on and so forth. For crying out loud, he just turned six!
 Does it really matter if he masters dribbling, plays the violin and gets “4s” (that's the best you can get in first grade) in everything?  I feel like we've lost sight of what’s really important.  Generally speaking, we've forgotten that all we really need – or should hope – for our kids is for them to be happy. As far as I can recall, childhood is supposed to be a happy time, right? Because if not then, when? If you can't summon up some simple joie de vivre when you're a kid -- perhaps because you're too busy being shuttled from playdate to music lessons to sports practice -- how ever will you find happiness when you're faced with a mortgage and bills to pay?!  I say happiness starts early and it's up to us as parents to nurture it and keep it growing.

Right now, I’m feeling pretty good that at least one of my kids has made the declarative statement (and accompanying self portrait!) that he is indeed happy. I hope he stays that way; it’s what I hope for all of our little Lyons Cubs. Happiness. Plain and simple.

I also hope that I don’t get swept up in the madness, as I know I’m prone to do; I hope that when my kids are feeling the pressure and being pushed and pulled and shuttled about,  that I remember to pause, take stock, and assess how they are really feeling. That I remember at the end of the day, the most any of us can hope to achieve, to do, to excel in is happiness. Plain and simple.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Slow Saturday = A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Last Saturday we did something we rarely do: nothing. There were no birthday parties, no sporting events, no family obligations and no errands that couldn’t wait for another day. As we lounged around our living room, something high up on the bookshelf caught my eye. It was my baby album and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share it with my kids.

They had a hard time believing I was ever so small and I had a hard time believing my Mom had committed so much time and energy to putting this album together. In addition to all the expected inputs (locks from my first haircut, pictures of my first bath, first Christmas and, alarmingly enough, at ten months, my first beer!), it also has some unexpected inclusions.

For starters, this album commemorates far more than my first year, or even my first few years; it chronicles the meaningful moments of my life until “September 1984: 13 years old: 5 feet, 1 ½ inches; 86 pounds.” I imagine the documentation stops after this because I was driving my mother crazy and my antics were better not memorialized! In any case, my Mom meticulously tracked my birthdays, Christmases, my growth and my “medical history” with some interesting notations including “January 1978: the flu, I think!” and “November 1978: Impetigo (UGH!).”

The majority of my accomplishments are captured, ranging from “January 31, 1972: Kerry rolled from her stomach to her back, and was very pleased with herself” to “June 10, 1976: Kerry graduated from kindergarten. It was so enjoyable for us to see — she had the only feature part in the ceremony.” Of note, I was the valedictorian of my kindergarten class; sadly, I peaked too early as that was an honor never to be repeated!

As we strolled down the memory lane of my childhood, my kids were fascinated… the matching outfits and funny hair-dos left all of our little Lyons Cubs longing for more. And so it was that another hour passed swiftly by as I showed them our wedding album, my husband supplied the narrative for our honeymoon album and last but not least, we stumbled upon an album entitled “Ireland: Summer 2000.”

This was the year that Des and I met and this was our first big vacation together. I’d flown to Dublin to meet him after he completed a continuing legal education class at Trinity. In the course of just five days and four nights, we hit a handful of pubs in Dublin, strolled the beach in Bray, made a pit stop in Wexford, visited the Lyons family origins in Cork, watched the sunset in Kinsale, kissed the Blarney Stone and, needless to say, each other! It was a fairy tale trip during a fairy tale time in our lives… young and in love, with no worries, few obligations, boundless energy and no idea that ten years later, we’d have five little Lyons of our own.

Reliving those memories as our kids rolled around the couch like the little Cubs they are was the best possible way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It also renewed my commitment to keep up with photo albums and memorializing the moments that matter most… like when Liam leaps into my arms on the rare day I can actually be home to meet him at the school bus. Or the way that Ciara will crawl into my lap and tell ME that everything will be ok on the days I have my doubts. Or the way that Declan jumps up and down in his crib, Cormac asks “how ARE you today?!” or Kevin sweetly requests an “Uppie Mama.”

I might not – ok, I definitely won’t! – chronicle each of my five kids height and weight and, truth be told, I’ve had to fudge the answer to when Liam and Ciara first walked and rolled over on their pre-school forms because I honestly don’t have a clue! But, thanks to the tradition my Mom started, I have a newfound appreciation for these little moments that matter most -- like simply doing nothing at all on an occasional Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tales from San Franciso: Part 3: Road Trips!

After traveling across the country to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's with my sister and her family in San Francisco, we might have been content to just stick close to (their) home and take in all the city has to offer... because, let's face it, there is a lot to offer!  From cable cars and farmers markets to Golden Gate Park and the Academy of Sciences, San Francisco offers more than any family could possibly absorb in less than a week's time.  Why then, would we venture beyond city limits?  Perhaps to see this...

Or this...

Or this:

Bodega Bay, Healdsburg and Half Moon Bay were highlights of our trip and would have missed if we didn't pile into our Swagger Wagon and hit the road. 

We were able to hit Bodega Bay and Healdsburg in a day.  The drive north from San Francisco to Bodega Bay takes about an hour and we timed it well with a post-lunch departure that had four of our five tykes lulled into a nap just as the Golden Gate Bridge disappeared in the distance.  Before we knew it, the six lane highway became a two-lane road lined with cows, sheeps, green pastures and more striking landscape beyond each corner.  It was a stunning drive that landed us on the edge of the Pacific with dramatic cliffs and plenty of places for the kids to play.

We left the beach to head for wine country -- admittedly, not a destination that most folks would consider with baby on board... or, in our case, with a total of six kids six and under (counting my one year old nephew!)... but, we were so close that we just couldn't resist.  The hour's drive inland to Healdsburg offered another napping opportunity for the majority of our half-pint passengers.  While we didn't take in the tours and tastings one associates with Sonoma, we did do a bit of window-shopping and have a great dinner at the Healdsburg Bar & Grill (  The waitstaff was visibly alarmed when we requested a table for ten that required four high-chairs and had only four adults but, thanks to their generous supply of crayons and french fries and our ample supply of clementines, goldfish and sippy cups, a good time was had by all.

Our next road trip took us about an hour south of the city to Half Moon Bay -- another dramatic drive that was motivated by the desire to spend a portion of the day strolling along the beach.  Given the gale force winds, it didn't quite work out that way...

It was all we could do to keep the triplets from blowing off the cliffs as we fought our way along the scenic path and against the 60 mph winds.  Needless to say, our walk was cut short but our day was far from a loss as we enjoyed one of the best meals we had at the famous Sam's Chowder House (  I admit, it was kind of weird to be enjoying an "Authentic New England style seafood experience with Pacific Ocean views" given that we're quite accustomed to such an experience with Atlantic Ocean views but, it was great nonetheless, as this smiling face will attest:

As I look back at the pictures, it's hard to believe that we lugged all our "Cubs" so far from home, had such fun-filled, action-packed days, and spent six nights with six kids and four adults in my sister's two-bedroom apartment!   We did it though.  Despite the many nay-sayers and skeptics, we made it there, had a stellar time and made it safely back home.  And, I'd do it again in a hearbeat.  If my sister is reading this, please don't panic -- though I'd love to, we're not making an imminent return trip.  That said, if you happen to live in Ireland or Scotland, consider yourself warned... you just might be the next stop for the Lyons Family Circus circa Summer 2011...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tales from San Francisco: Part 2: Kid-Friendly City Outings

Our oversized sense of adventure took us to San Francisco to visit my sister and her family for the week between Christmas and New Year's.  After roughly 36 hours of celebrating Christmas, we popped our five kids on a plane for six day stay in my sister's two bedroom apartment.  As my Dad so eloquently put it, "Well Ker, I'm sure it will be quite an experience."  And indeed it was!

We survived the six hour flight with very few hiccups; we sailed through security (who else would be traveling at 8:00 on Christmas night?), changed the kids into their PJs before boarding (much to the horror of our fellow travelers in the Continental lounge that night - sorry folks and really, I swear, there was nothing but pee in those diapers I tossed in the pail on my way out!), caught a few z's while inflight (thank you to our Christmas angel who let Ciara sleep on her lap!) and even found our luggage when we landed (God knows they better get your bag there if they're going to charge you $25 for it!). 

With our bags and sense of adventure in tact, we were ready to see all San Francisco had to offer and, while we most certainly didn't do it all, I thought I'd share a few highlights that anyone heading to San Francisco with tots on board shouldn't miss:

Fisherman's Wharf.  Sure it's cheesy and touristy but hell, when you're making the rounds with five kids in a city that's not your own, why not be a cheesy tourist?!  When we woke up to the shining sun on Day One, we hit the streets -- quite possibly looking more like a Stroller Strides class than a family on vacation!  In any case, we had a great morning that included a walk through Fort Mason and a romp on the beach.  We had a great lunch at Boudin Bakery ( followed by a personal necessity pitstop... you guessed it, potty break!  As I've mentioned in prior posts, hotels make for the perfect rest area and should you ever find yourself in the area and needing to change a diaper (or two or three!), visit The Argonaut Hotel ( -- we took turns on diaper duty and warming our hands by the fire, all the while pretening to be guests... which I one day aspire to be! 

With the potty break behind us, we did what any tourist in close proximity would do and walked over to Pier 39, where the sea lions did not disappoint and held the tots rapt attention for longer than any Baby Einstein video ever could! 

The San Francisco Zoo ( is sure to be a crowd pleaser and is a great way to spend a day... or half a day, at least! Located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, you can hear the waves crashing from the parking lot and feel the ocean breeze (or, gale force winds, depending on the day!) as you wander past Madagascar-worthy lemurs and kid-pleasing penguins, giraffes and lions -- try to catch the feedings if you can!
 Stay tuned for Part 3:  Road Trips!  Yes, it's true... after a 3,000 mile flight and with only five true days in San Francisco, we did spend two of them on the road... I mentioned our sense of adventure, right?  More to follow! 

The Discovery Musuem (, located in Fort Baker just over the Golden Gate Bridge, was another day out that did not disappoint.  There was an interactive, hands-on playroom for the toddler set while the "big kids" were happy outside on the pirate playground.  There were more exhibits than we had time to take in but you could spend a whole day here if you wanted to... especially since the cafe had moderately priced, majorly tasty organic entrees for lunch and the views were simply stunning.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tales from San Francisco: Part One -- Travel & Trunki

Much to the disbelief of family, friends and several strangers who watched us somewhat aghast, on Christmas night, the Lyons Family Circus took our act on the road and went to visit my sister in San Francisco. Why you ask? Because my sister, brother-in-law and one-year old nephew have made at least three cross-country trips over the past nine months and frankly, couldn't bear the thought of doing it again. And, we were game for adventure and eager to drag our little Lyons Cubs out to California before my sister and her family return to New York this fall.

The logistics of it all were admittedly staggering. When I first tried to purchase tickets, the online booking system essentially blew a gasket and advised us all to stay home. When I finally gave in and called Continental to book the flights, the kind gentlemen on the phone kept asking just how many minors we'd be travelling with, as if he couldn't quite believe that any sane folks would drag five kids six and under on a cross-country flight on Christmas... needless to say, I've been called many things and "sane" has never been one of them!

After confirming flights, the next step was configuring our seating arrangement; it was an especially complex task to accommodate our family of seven on a plane with only two three-seat aisles.  The nice man on the phone suggested we take one complete row and then a single seat. "Really,sir?!" I couldn't help but exclaim, "Let's just be realistic about what you're suggesting here, which would be ME in a row with FIVE over-tired, over-Christmased tots while my husband peacefully snoozes elsewhere on the plane? I don't think so!"   We settled on four of us in one row (middle/aisle, aisle/middle for those who like the details!) and three of us in another (window/middle/aisle) and I must say, our trip went pretty much according to plan.

We were all fairly exhausted when we got to the airport for our 8:30PM flight thanks to the events of the prior 24 hours: Christmas Eve dinner for 18 at our house, Christmas morning/present frenzy at home and then an early Christmas dinner at my parents in NJ... who wouldn't be tired?!

As we got in the security line with the triplets comfortably reclined in a single and double stroller, four-year old Ciara was left to wonder why we didn't bring our second double stroller because "I need somewhere to sit!" Enter the saving grace of our trip -- a nifty little piece of luggage called a Trunki:

This little ladybug of a (carry-on!) suitcase easily held Ciara's clothes for the week, a few new toys that couldn't be left behind and, not only served as a seat for her weary little legs as we waited to get through security but, best of all, provided a ride as we made our way to the departure gate.

The one thing I hadn't planned for was landing in San Francisco (at midnight PST/3:00 AM EST!) with five kids sound asleep.  I mean, it was my hope that they'd sleep for most of the flight and, thank goodness they did but, what I failed to account for was how to get five sleeping tykes, two strollers and five carry-ons OFF the plane.  When we boarded, each tiny tot carried something (even if only their fleece!) and each marched on in eager anticipation of going "up up and away!"  As we touched down and I looked at the sweetly snoozing faces surrounding me (including, of course, my husband!), I panicked.  Fortunately, as we taxied to the gate, the little ones (and Des!) slowly awakened from their slumber;  unfortunately, Ciara immediately began to protest that she simply could not/would not walk off the plane because she was "more tired than ANYONE EVER WAS!"  Fortunately, the Trunki once again saved the day (and night!).

With Christmas outfits changed to comfy new PJs and the time zone changed from East Coast to West Coast, we all made it off the plane -- a bit bleary-eyed but excited to see my sister and relieved to have had an uneventful trip... especially since we just barely dogded the "Blizzard of 2010"!

And so our adventures began.  Stay tuned for Tales from San Francisco: Part Two and, if you've got an upcoming trip with tots onboard, I'd highly suggest investing in a Trunki!  (

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A "Pretty Neat" way to get organized and let go of perfection this year

Last Friday was the first official snow day of the year and I have to say, I was as excited to hear the news as the kids were... until I realized the implications for me.  My day began by digging under the (dried out, dead!) Christmas tree, in the closets, basement bins and front hall bench desperately searching for five snow jackets, five pairs of snow pants, five pairs of winter boots and ten water-proof mittens.  You'd think that by January 7th, I would have located all of these items but, since we were visiting my sister in San Francisco and missed the Christmas blizzard, well, I haven't!  It's daunting really, getting five tykes outfitted for a frolic in the snow.  Just as it's daunting to take down our now decrepit tree and get all the Christmas decorations away.  Sometimes I find it easier to ignore these types of tasks until they demand to be tackled.  Like on Friday, thanks to the snow.  Or this weekend, when we finally had to say farewell to Christmas and all of it's merry adornments.

As much as I pride myself on being organized and buttoned-up, the missing gloves and sagging tree reminded me that there's always room for improvement and it was with this in mind that I recently read a great book full of practical, useful tips -- Pretty Neat, the buttoned-up way to get organized & let go of perfection (by Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch) is a must-read for any who shares my new year's ambition to be more present for my family -- to spend less time stressing the small stuff and more time enjoying the little things that really matter.  Pretty Neat is full of tactics, tales and tips that will help you (and me!) to do just that. 

Letting go of perfection is a theme that you'll see repeated time and again in Pretty Neat; I have to say, this has always been a challenge for me but, it's yet one more thing that I plan to strive for in 2011.  The book is full of suggestions on how to accept that more often than not, pretty good is good enough and, as I tackled the kids snow gear and packed away the Christmas stuff, I did my best to embrace the chaos and lose my perfectionist tendencies.  For example, when I only found four pairs of snow boots, I sent one little guy out to play in rain boots with two pairs of socks on... good enough!  And, when I found our dog napping on the Christmas tree skirt that I had just washed and folded, well, I decided to just let him snooze and later packed it away with a bit of dog hair on it... I'm sure I can brush it off next Christmas... or, not, as the case may be!

With short chapters devoted to everyday challenges we can all relate to ("Wrangle those family schedules!"; "Temper those toy tsunamis!"), Pretty Neat is an easy read that will surely leave you with some practical ways to live a less-stressful, more buttoned up life.  As for me, well, I've got to go finish packing away the Christmas ornaments but I can tell you this -- unlike last year, I am NOT going to freak out if each ornament isn't perfectly snuggled in it's own box before it's put away for next year.  Come to think of it, with all of the "help" my kids have been giving me, that's never going to happen anyway!  And, that's fine by me. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Resolutions or Life-long Ambitions? Turning 40 Makes this Mom Wonder, What’s the Difference?!

2011 has officially arrived. Much to my own disbelief, this is the year that Liam will turn seven (yikes!), our princess Ciara will turn 5 (and go to KINDERGARTEN!!!) and the triplets will turn three (however can that be?!). This is also the year that I will turn 40. I have to say, I’m kind of looking forward to it. Maybe we’ll have a big party. Or perhaps find a way to finagle a weekend away from all of these kids… a girl’s gotta dream, right? For me, hope springs eternal about what the future will hold and, never more so than at this time of year.

This year, as I teeter on the edge of 40 and ponder what 2011 may hold, I’ve decided to rethink my resolutions. I’ve decided that since there’s an undeniable pattern in my annual goals (exercise more, save more money, find time for date nights!), why limit them to a calendar year? Why not think of resolutions as long term ambitions? Maybe it’s a cop out. Maybe I’m letting myself off the hook by lifting the 12.31.11 deadline but, on the other hand, maybe I’m giving myself the chance to truly be a better person and lead a better life. It is with this hope, intention and optimism in mind that I share with you my goals for 2011… and beyond.

 I would like to yell less and listen more. I’d like to really listen, to actually hear what my children and my husband have to say. To take the time to digest and respond to their comments, thoughts and requests with more than my typically breezy “yup, uh-huh, sure” or “what’d ya say, hon?”

I’d like to be more present and less distracted. To live in the moment. To savor the moment. To recognize that it’s not always necessary (or productive!) to fold the laundry while helping with homework and assisting with puzzles and Lego creations. To realize that the homework, puzzles and Legos matter far more than neatly folded towels! To remember that multi-tasking has its limits and ultimately, gets in the way of really listening, being present and living in the moment.

I’d like to be more grateful for what I do have rather than longing for what I do not. I’d like to truly appreciate the little things that matter and stop yearning for the big things that don't. I’d like to start each day with a smile and end it the same way. I’d like to be a better wife and more patient parent. I’d like to instill my children with a sense of confidence in themselves and respect for others.

I’d like to set a good example – something I’m not always prone to do, especially toward the end of the day when I’m as tired and hungry as my five little “Cubs”; I’ve been known to try to outshout them just to be heard and trust me, this doesn’t work. Not to mention, it does nothing for your esteem to know that you’ve stooped to the level of a pre-schooler!

Come to think of it, perhaps I’m resolving to simply stop acting like the many pre-schoolers who inhabit our home. All I need to do is be a better listener, focus on the task at hand and take time to appreciate (rather than sweat!) the small stuff… including, for example, all the arts & crafts projects our little Cubs create.  If I’m lucky, this year’s projects will include a few nice birthday cards wishing me a Happy 40th and I'll be perfectly happy with just that. Although, of course, the party and weekend away would be nice too!  :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolutions Revisited

Ok, it's January 2nd.  Time to stop basking in the warm memories of the holiday season and start thinking about the year ahead.  2011.  Can it really be 2011?  Wasn't it just yesterday that it was Y2K?  Remember that?!  Wow.  Tme really flies.

With the dawn of a new year upon us, it seems fitting to look back at my resolutions from last year before making any new ones... in short, my goals for 2010 were to exercise more (check!), save a set amount monthly (check!) and do yoga twice a month (still working on that one).  For my complete musings on last year's goals, you can check out:

The Lyons Den: The Adventures and Absurdity of Life with Five Little "Cubs": Resolutions

As for this year, I think what I'd like to do most is simply be present.  Be there.  Be aware.  Be tuned in to those around me and tuned out to the things that just don't matter.  I want to turn off the blackberry and spend more time really being there for my family.  Really listening to and really hearing what they have to say. Which is why I must now cut this post short... there are three little Cubs in their cribs saying "I want to get out of here.  I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!!!"  Having occasionally felt that way myself, I know exactly what they mean!  So, so long for now and may your new year be filled with ample opportunities to tune in to those around you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Reflections

I know that it's New Year's Day and I should be sharing some musings on the year ahead but, since the merriment of the season is still so top of mind, I thought I'd share some thoughts (and pictures!) from our church's recent Christmas Pageant instead...

They often say that art imitates life and our Christmas Pageant was no exception. Liam, at six years old is the oldest of our five “Lyons Cubs”; he played the part of a shepherd and, much like any other day, he was faithfully followed by our four other kids – kids who on this day were dressed as extremely furry little lambs. Needless to say, the sight of my small shepherd leading his flock was priceless. Liam was as earnest as could be as he stood on the altar and mumbled along to the music. Ciara, my four year old lamb, had practiced her hymns at home and proudly belted out the first verse to “Away in A Manger”; the highlights for her were the high notes… as in “the litTLE Lord JeSUS lay down his sweet HEAD!”

While Liam and Ciara seemed to at least partially understand the sanctity of the Pageant, the same can not be said of our trio of two-year olds. Dressed as lambs, they acted a bit more like monkeys -- curious little monkeys -- the kind that like to pick things out of each other’s fur or, in this case, fuzzy lamb’s wool. They were also the kind that like to frolick in the aisle, climb over the pews and make a run for the border.

 With headband ears, socks for paws and a cotton-ball adorned t-shirts for “fur”, the triplet lambs might have stolen the show. Except for that, of course, they were part of a larger flock – each more precious than the next and most attached to a big brother/shepherd in one way or another. The shepherds did a great job of tending to their herd… especially since my little lambs have been known to steal more than the show. Just a few weeks ago, Cormac sauntered up the altar and came back with a $20 from the collection basket; thankfully, our priest (and our parish!) has a sense of humor and while I admit that I was momentarily tempted (all those diapers are expensive!), I did make him return it. Even so, the pattern of lifting things from the altar has been established and the Toys for Tots collection was just too good for my little guys to resist!

All in, I think our five little “Cubs” – now also known as a shepherd and his lambs – learned something from our Christmas pageant. They now know the words to some Christmas carols beyond Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (which our aforementioned priest is quick to remind us are not actually Christmas carols since there’s no mention of Christ!). They know that however tempting the gifts on the altar may be -- whether they are gold, frankincense and myhrr , a crisp twenty dollar bill, or Toys for Tots -- they are not meant for them. I’d like to think they learned that there really is a “reason for the season” and it’s not Legos or Crayons or Dolls or Choo Choos. It’s something far more important and far more sacred. As Ciara so eloquently put it as we left a Christmas party a few weeks ago, “ so Mom, Jesus gives the presents to Santa and Santa gives them to the children.” Well, little one, it’s something like that.