Friday, July 29, 2011

The end of highchairs, the end of an era

We recently crossed a significant milestone.  The three highchairs that have been cluttering our kitchen for two years have officially been kicked to the curb; two of them, in fact were literally put on the curb because they were beyond redemption with the stench and stains of caked on mac and cheese and mushed grapes and who knows what else.  The third chair is now tucked away in our basement, patiently awaiting visits from the offspring of my sister and cousins, all of whom now have tykes tinier than mine.

Saying so long to these kitchen mainstays leaves me with mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I appreciate our newly streamlined and less cluttered living area. I'm impressed that Kevin, Declan and Cormac will sit in chairs and more often than not, stay there through the course of a meal. On the other hand, I'm having some emotional angst.  Saying so long to high chairs is part of saying good bye, once more, to our baby days.

I've survived other small rites of passage with less emotional fallout.  I was thrilled when they traded the bottle for the sippy cup. While I lamented the loss of the snuggle time that accompanies breast or bottle feeding, I was glad to no longer face the dilemma of how to snuggle and juggle three babies at once. I was fine when we traded up from those bucket car seats to the "big boy" car seats -- especially since making three trips in and out of the car with the combined weight of tots plus seats was no easy task.  I will admit I was bummed out the day the wheels literally fell off their triplet stroller but, it really was getting tough for me to push almost a hundred pounds of kid and stroller up the steep hills where we live so, we put that stroller on the curb and never looked back.

No more bottles, no more baby seats, no more strollers and now, no more high chairs. All reminders that there are no more babies for me; that part of my life is now over. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking to add another "cub" to our already full "Lyons Den" however, I'm struck by the finality of crossing these seemingly minor milestones.  

In the midst of our busy days and sleepless nights, I've crossed a threshold; my reproductive years are now officially behind me.  Rather than bemoan this rite of passage, I suppose I should just be grateful for how remarkably "productive" those years really were and how blessed we are to have all these healthy, happy kids.  Kids that now drink from cups, climb into the car themselves, trot down the street and up the hill and sit at the dining room table.  Now, if I only had a table with seven chairs, I'd be all set!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tuesday Tip: How to get away with the gals

Maybe it's because I'm turning forty this year. Or perhaps I just need a change of scene after spending far too much time potty training triplets and entertaining the never-ending requests of their big brother and sister.  Whatever the reason, I've got girls weekends on my mind and every intention of getting away with the gals for more than the 36 hours in Newport I so thoroughly enjoyed this spring.

When I mention my getaway goals, people look at me like I'm crazy.  "Really?" they say with a look of utter disbelief.  "With ALL of those kids you're REALLY going to go away with the girls."  My answer?  Yes. Absolutely. Definitively. No doubt in my mind.  Where to?  I'm not sure yet... there's been talk of Paris with my sister and the Bahamas with some of my best friends from high school.  If all else fails, there's always the promise of a weekend in the city... beggars can't be choosers! How will I do it?  Well, simply put, I will pack my bag and go.  But, since nothing is ever simple when you're the Mom (it doesn't matter if you have one kid or five, it's not simple!), here are a few guidelines.

1.  Give yourself permission to go.  Think about it.  Who contained a human (or two or three) in their belly for nine months?  Who fed that tiny human from her breast?  Who typically bears the brunt of the care, feeding, shopping and laundry for these little beings?  You do.  And who do you to turn to to bitch, moan, laugh, commiserate, empathize and ask for help?  Your girlfriends.  They have always been there for you and you deserve to go have some fun.  Giving yourself the permission to do so is the first step.
2.  Accept that while your way may be the "right" way, it is not the only way.  Put another way, trust that your husband will care for your offspring and have faith that you will return from your brief sojourn to find them all alive.  They may be wearing dirty clothes or backward onesies (the children, hopefully not your husband!).  They may be overtired or underfed or overwhelmed or watching Underdog. But they will be fine. Letting go of your worries is the next step toward your well-deserved girl time.
3.  Know that you will be be a better Mom and wife when you return. It's trite but true, absence really does make the heart grow fonder.  While I enjoyed every moment of my brief Girls Weekend in Newport, I was SO happy to get home.  I cherished my girl time -- the freedom to get a pedicure, do a bit of shopping, linger over dinner, have that one last drink and gossip for hours over coffee.  It was a true gift to reconnect with my girlfriends but it left me with gifts of another sort... a newfound appreciation for my husband (even if the laundry had piled up!), a renewed adoration for my children (boogie kisses and all!) and the comfort in knowing that the challenges we face are universal (money, sex, work-life balance, aging parents and so on!) 

Once you've made up your mind to go, you may want to create a mealplan, call in the grandparents and arrange a few playdates.  After that, it's officially time to pack your bag and go.  Trust me, if I can do it you can too and, I can assure you you'll be glad that you did!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My life in PottyLand

Here it is, Sunday night once more.  Once again, the weekend has flown by in a flurry of activity.  As I look back on the past few days at the pool, Liam's first swim meet, a trip out for ice cream, our obligatory Sunday mass and a great grilled dinner, there is one unifying theme.  The heat and humidity that has the nation talking?  Nope.  What I will recall most from this weekend is the inordinate amount of time I spent in the bathroom with our two year old triplets.  I don't think I'd be exaggerating to say that it adds up to hours.  

We are deep in the throes of potty training. It's reached the point where Kevin, Declan and Cormac are far more enthusiastic about it than I am.  The initial excitement of "PooPoo on potty!" has pretty much waned for me.  The cries of "Gotta pee Mom! Gotta pee NOW!" have me callously responding "NOW?! But you just went!"  Or, worse yet, "Can't you just hold it, little buddy?"  Needless to say, my weary responses are not to be found in any potty training manuals.  I don't have time to read them anyway but, it just feels wrong to tell a two-year old in PullUps whose personal pride is currently wrapped up the "Three P's" (pee, poo, potty) to take a chill pill because Mama would like a view of something other than a porcelain (or in this case, plastic) bowl!

While I would have preferred to spend less time crouching on the bathroom floor and more time enjoying the great outdoors (believe me when I tell you that 100 degrees in the pool beats 100 degrees in the potty!), there were (as there always are) a few bright spots during our shared potty time...

  • There was Cormac kindly encouraging me.  "Good Girl Mama!" he joyfully exclaimed as he barged in on what was to be my private moment on the potty.
  • There was Kevin, completely enamored with the "Magic Potty!" at the pool... that self-flushing variety is apparently a lot more exciting than what we have at home.
  • There was Declan, who can pee more than any kid I've ever seen.  He spent more time at the potty than in the pool... leading me to believe that perhaps he was drinking a lot of kiddie pool water... a thought I really don't want to linger on.
  • There was their shared joy at wearing "big boy underwear!"  My, how we've progressed... just a few months ago, they thought Ciara's old Princess Pull Ups were big boy underwear.  Now they are in Liam's hand-me-down tighty whities and just as thrilled.  Geez, the bar for these little guys is really set low!
  • Last but not least, was our adventure at church today, where I spent more time praying to the porcelain god than the big guy upstairs. 
I think it's starting to pay off though. Just think of all the money we'll save when we officially bid adieu to diapers! Just considering life without repeat orders from is all it takes for  me to muster up enough enthusiasm to take three little fellas out of their cribs for one last trip to the potty... after all, I don't want to disappoint their image of this "Good Girl Mama."  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dear Summer, Thank you for the gift of time

How many times have you said “if only there were more hours in the day?”  And how many times have you vividly imagined all you might accomplish with those precious few extra hours?  It recently dawned on me that the summer season gives us this gift of time.  By its very virtue, summer provides extra hours of daylight – a few hours in the morning to get a jumpstart on the day and a few more in the evening to relax and unwind.

As one who is constantly juggling work, kids, fitness, writing, an outrageous to-do list and a strong desire to connect with my husband on matters more substantive than potty training and dog walking, these extra hours which summer so effortlessly bestows are a true gift and one that I’m utilizing to its fullest extent. 

With sunrise at 5:30 and birds chirping long before, I’m all too happy to routinely get out of bed at 5:45.  Mind you, this is the same time I set the alarm the rest of the year but, during the summer, I’m far less likely to hit snooze; I’m eager to get up and get the day started.  The early light allows me to squeeze a lot in before the tots get up at 7:30ish.  Of course, there are all the daily requirements – the dishwasher, the dog, making lunches and getting in my morning run a few days a week.  But these things are part of the LyonsDen routine in any season.  The additional benefits I reap from the early sunrise include reading the paper on the front porch or, in the case of an early riser, reading Dr. Suess on the porch while the dew is fresh and the air is clean and clear.  Should I choose to leave the comfort of the porch, I might run for a few more miles, water the plants, clip a few flowers to brighten the kitchen or possibly settle in the yard with my laptop and work on my writing… it’s so easy to be inspired with a large cup of coffee and the soft sunlight glistening through the trees.  I am so grateful for these moments and will miss them when the days grow shorter.

As the sun shifts from East to West, it has a soothing effect on our typical end of day chaos.  The fact that school is out also lessens the pressure; we’re not hustling to get homework done and the clan in bed by 8:00.  Even so, dinner still needs to be served and the bedtime routine still reigns supreme.  What’s different then?  It’s the attitude, I think.  It’s more laid back.  We’re not literally racing against darkness when we use the grill.  We make plans to make the most the evening time we have together. We squeeze in a post-work trip to the pool, possibly with friends.  We relax our standards a bit.  Dinner just might be grilled chicken with peaches and watermelon served on a beach towel.  Popsicles might melt on the same porch where we started our day as fireflies float by… actually, I think they now bolt by for fear of being caught by one of our little Lyons Cubs; gentle though they try to be, they’ve squeezed the lights out of more of our flying friends than I care to admit.  But I digress. 

Perhaps best of all, summer’s extra daylight hours give my husband and I something we truly cherish – more time with our kids and each other.  Des and I rarely have a quiet moment but find that summertime affords ample opportunities for a shared cup of coffee or glass of wine on the porch (Again! That porch! How we love that porch!) We actually get the chance to talk about more than the kids and to-do lists.   We also relish the morning Suess time and evening swims with the kids.  The “family fun time” in the midst of our manic weeks is a rare pleasure.  We know this time is precious.  And, like summer itself, is fleeting.  Which is exactly why we’re committed to making the most of it.  Thank you summer, for answering my wish for more hours in the day.  Now Old Man Winter, if you're listening, could you please lighten up a bit?  And yes, I do mean that literally!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Packing for the weekend roadtrip

The week has only just begun and already I'm longing for the weekend.  While the Friday countdowns occur on an ongoing basis, the anticipation seems all the greater during the summer, when weekends are often filled with little getaways... short road trips that recharge your battery and refresh your soul. Even with five tykes in tow, the weekend shift in scenery is one that we wholeheartedly embrace. I've gotten the packing down to a science simply by relying on the same go-to list that I will share with you here.  Naturally, you'll need to adjust it based on the numbers and ages of your children but, with this go-to list of weekend essentials, you too will be looking at your driveway (and the work week!) in the rearview mirror before you know it!  

For Bedtime...
  • 3 pack & plays (with sheets)
  • 5 WaWas (a.k.a. loveys, blankies, etc.) 
  • 5 pairs of pajamas (I just assume that the weekend won't pass without doing laundry so if there's an incident or accident, I can always wash them!) 
  • Kid toiletry kit: 5 toothbrushes, toothpaste, Head-to-Toe shampoo/body wash (gotta love multi-tasking prodcuts for tots!), Children's Tylenol/Advil, Benadryl and BandAids (the kinds of things that you'll never need if you bring them but inevitably will if you leave them at home!)

For Beachtime (or pool time or just strolling out and about)...
  • Sunblock, sunhats, sand toys
  • Baby powder for sand removal
  • 5 swimsuits & swimshirts  (same theory applies as pajamas... the notion of packing 10 of each is just too much!)
  • 7 beach towels (just in case Mom and Dad get to sit down and/or go for a swim!)
  • 4 life jackets (which provide peace of mind when visiting pals with pools!  And, not to worry, we do have one strong swimmer, not a Titanic-like approach to life saving!)
  • Sippy cups, water bottles, snacks... endless snacks! 
  • 2 Strollers (just in case our three 2-year olds need to be strapped down and contained for their own safety... and, our sanity!)
 For the rest of the time...
  • Ample assortment of diapers, wipes, pull ups and undies
  • Shorts/t-shirts (2 each per kid)
  • Sweatshirt (1 per kid)
  • Favorite book or toy (1 per kid on a Carry In/Carry Out policy!)
  • Finny, Finn food, leash, collar, blanket and toy (for the occasion that our fun family pet is on the traveling team, we need to ensure he and all his must-haves are on the list or, well, you just never know!)
One other thing to remember is a big box of cereal... that way you'll always have breakfast at the ready for your early risers... just in case they miss the memo that a weekend away is an opportunity to sleep in.  Somehow, that's one thing we just haven't mastered.  Not yet, anyway!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What do you get for $500 at Costco?

This week it happened again.  Our groceries disappeared.  Just like that, POOF! They were gone.  The emergency reserves of peanut butter and jelly?  Gone.  The only bread left in the house?  Those nasty end pieces that no one one will eat.  The only fruit?  A lemon. Slightly moldy.  The only snacks left for camp?  A few measly fruit roll-ups... the ones we'd deliberately passed over for weeks because the humidity leaves them so tightly rolled they inevitably incite a toddler tantrum.  

With a possible LyonsDen famine bearing down on us, I did what I had to do.  I went to Costco.  At 4:00 on Friday while the sun was shining and the pool was calling.  As I crammed my protesting kids into the car (not all five of them, just the "big ones" while the "little ones" were napping), I could feel my temperature rise, my pulse quicken, my temperature shorten.  I hate Costco.  I love the pool.  What in God's name was I doing?!  

Well, if men are hunters and women are gatherers, I suppose I was gathering. Providing.  That's what I was doing.  At least that's what I told myself.  I had to go to Costco and as it turns out, I had to spend $500 to stock our shelves, fill our pantry and ensure a good rotation of satisfactory snacks for my little campers.  The dollar amount still shocks me.  What did I get for $500, you may wonder?  Well, quite a lot.  I think it's fair to say we won't need snacks until September.  And, we'll have some basic provisions for oh, perhaps a week or so.  Since I've been told it's of interest, here's a quick glimpse of how we filled our cart... 

Milk, Eggs, and juice boxes galore,
Saline solution, cereal bars, granola bars and more,
Cheerios, Chobani, chicken and cheddar too, 
Gogurt, Fruit Snacks and boxes of goldfish (two!).
Laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and a box of Bounce,
Toilet paper, paper towels and apple juice (size: 64 ounce!).
A watermelon, blueberries, bananas and pears,
Bread, broccoli and a couple of Swiss au pairs!

Ok, gotcha.  I didn't really get any Swiss au pairs.  But seriously, for $500, you'd think maybe they'd throw one in!  Especially since the sticker shock left me in such a bitter mood.  The kind of bitter mood that caused me to drop a quiet F-Bomb when someone nicked me in the ankle with their cart.  And again when I banged my head on my cart while unloading some stuff from the bottom shelf.  And once more when it rolled over my toes, administering the final blow to the the pedicure I got in April.

I should also mention that I got six pairs of footie pajamas.  And some books for an upcoming birthday party.  While these items were admittedly impulsive and won't fill our pantry, they were necessities in their own way and truly, they were a bargain.  I think there's some merit to my role as a gatherer.  And typically, I embrace it.  However, given the surly mood and battered bod this trip to Costco left me with, the moral of the story is this:  When the sun is shining and the pool is calling, GO!  For heaven's sake, the pool has a snack bar and the kids won't starve!  Once again, a lesson I learned the hard way.  Although, on the upside, there won't be any tantrums over sticky fruit roll-ups next week!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Favorite Things

As you know if you happen to be a regular reader (and by the way, thank you if you are a regular visitor here at the Lyons Den!), this week marked the one year anniversary of my brother-in-law Conor's death.  The memories of the horror of last year are so vivid, so visceral.  My heart starts racing when I think of Conor's suffering; my heart aches in the way that I miss him.  The loss is still so raw that the very sound of the music that gave him such joy now makes me nauseous.  He was a master of the jazz guitar and I've spent the last year avoiding it all costs.  I would turn off the radio and beg my husband Des to play something else; jazz music gave him great comfort but literally made me sick.  Until Wednesday.  July 13, 2011.  One year to the day that we lost Conor to heaven and, apparently also the day that I was able to open my heart back up to the music he loved.

It happened when I got back into the minivan (really, it is more of a Swagger Wagon, I swear!) after dropping the kids at camp.  Des had driven it the night before and left the radio on WGBO, our local jazz station -- one of the offenders that had frankly been pissing me off for the past year.  But on this morning, before I had the chance to hastily replace the mellow tones with something more upbeat, like Lady Gaga, for instance, something caught my ear.  Something familiar.  Something I liked.  Something that Conor liked.  Even loved.  It was John Coltrane's classic version of "My Favorite Things" which, for the record, happens to come from one of my favorite movies.  It's spectacular.  And I'm not just talking about "The Sound of Music" but the sound of the music from Coltrane. Check it out.

Awesome, right?  It got me thinking about my favorite things and how lucky I am to live this life and enjoy them.  It reminded me of how much Conor loved the life he lived, despite the fact that it was cut short.  It made me all the more grateful for sunny days, sweaty hugs, sloppy kisses and sweet dreams.  I think I still prefer today's Top 40 hits to the great jazz classics but thanks to the passing of time and Conor's passion for jazz, I now have the sound of his music back in my heart.  And, for the record, Conor will forever be one of my "favorite things."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tip: A few must-haves for a trip to the ER

Last Thursday night, Ciara gave us a major fright.  Her fever spiked and she had a febrile seizure.  Fortunately, I was on the phone with the pediatrician when it happened; it didn't last long, the paramedics arrived within minutes and my little lady was pretty much back to her spunky self on Friday morning.  Unfortunately, I was home alone (well, as alone as you can be with five kids and a dog!) and had never really considered the "must haves" for an emergency room visit.  

As most Moms know, when you're expecting a baby, you're instructed to have your bag packed from about 37 weeks on.  You're told what to put in that bag and you dutifully pack it and have it ready for when the time comes.  I'm not suggesting that you leave an ER-ready bag by the front door or in the back seat but, I do think it would be helpful to run through this little checklist so that if you one day find yourself en route to the ER with one of your tots in tow, you'll have everything you need when you get there.

  1. The basics.  Bring your phone, drivers license, insurance card, FSA card if you have one and some cash -- not a lot, just enough for perhaps a bottle of water, a magazine and possibly even a cab ride home... as I learned the hard way, an ambulance ride is not a round-trip ticket! Ideally, you should also have your child's social security number.  Some of you may be more clever than I and have it memorized but, with five kids, they're lucky I remember their birthdays let alone their social security numbers!
  2. The comforts of home.  Or, at the very least, a few little items to help you and your little one make the most of this unexpected and likely unpleasant trip.  For us, the "WaWa" was critical.  You may call it a lovey or a blankie or perhaps there's a favorite stuffed animal.  Whatever it is, bring it with you.  Also, I don't know if it's because my sweet lady was burning up with fever or that they really crank the AC in the summertime but we found the hospital to be a very cold place, in the most literal sense.  If you think of it and have time to grab it, bring a sweatshirt... in addition to providing some warmth, it can also double as a pillow which, if you find yourself there from 10PM-4AM like I was, you will be glad to have!
  3. Emergency contacts.  How many times have you filled out those forms for school or camp and listed the emergency contacts for your kids?  Well, what about some folks for you to call when the times get tough?  We're lucky to live among not just neighbors but true friends.  The kind of friends who are already on your front porch when you make that call for help.  The kind who offer to come the hospital with you.  The kind who offer to drive your husband to the hospital when he gets home.  Make a call list with your go-to contacts and don't be afraid to use it. Oh, and if they offer to follow your husband to the hospital so he can leave a car for you in the chance of an overnight discharge, just say yes!  If you don't, you'll need to refer to point #1 and hope you have enough cash in your wallet for a cab ride home! 
One last thing, trust your maternal (or paternal) instinct.  No one knows your kid better than you do and if you think a trip to the ER is in order, it probably is.  If you get there and they send you home, well, it probably wouldn't be the first time you had that proverbial bag packed and were told to come back another time --  at least you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that your little one is ok and, a trial run so you'll be ready for the next time.  Although I don't like to think about it, one of the nurses parting words to me were "with five kids, there's bound to be a next time!"  If there is, I just hope it's another quick trip with a happy ending... and, I can assure you that the next time, I'll have that sweatshirt with me!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gone but not forgotten: my way of explaining death to kids

This week marks the one year anniversary of the death of my brother-in-law, Conor Lyons.  He died on July 13, 2010 at just 47 years old.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer last February and left us for heaven just five months later.  He suffered tremendously.  And in watching his pain and his struggle, we suffered too.  In fact, while his suffering is now over, ours continues.

He was a major presence in our lives.  For years, he lived right around the corner and walked our dog every morning.  EVERY morning.  He started this routine when our daughter Ciara was born in October 2006 and continued until he could walk no more last spring.  In addition to walking our dog, he was always around to take a tot to preschool or help feed the triplets. Conor's hands never held a baby of his own, but often held one of ours when help was needed most -- for that 11PM or 6AM bottle, when we were exhausted and in desperate need of extra hands. We never asked; he just appeared like an angel, which is the way so many people remember him. 

Conor was gentle, loving and kind.  He was a gifted musician and a patient, talented teacher.  He promised to teach our oldest son Liam, now six, to play the guitar.  A few months ago, Liam just started bawling out of the blue.  "What's the matter?" we asked. "Uncle Conor promised to teach me the guitar and now he can't," he sobbed. Such sadness. Such loss.  And so deeply understood by this little guy -- a child struggling to understand death and its permanence, much in the same way we struggle ourselves.

When Conor died, I decided I would find a book to explain it to the kids. To fix it.  To make us all feel better. I really thought that such a book existed -- a soothing tale to explain it all and take away our hurt and pain and sadness.  I searched high and low and settled on "The Dead Bird", by Margaret Wise Brown, figuring that the woman who gave us "Goodnight Moon" as our go-to manual for sweet dreams could certainly do the same for life and death... right?
WRONG!  This book, like most I read with child-like parables on life and death doesn't even come close to getting it right.  Maybe because there is no "right" when you lose someone so close to you at such a young age.  It's hard to find the "right" in a life cut short; and it's especially hard when the book you were counting on to explain it all ends by noting that the children "forgot" that dead bird and just moved on with their lives.  That wasn't the message I wanted to give to my kids. 

Death isn't permission to forget but rather, a demand to remember.  To remember the love, the laughter, the music, the holidays, the Sunday night suppers, the early morning coffee chats, the days at the boat club and the nights drinking wine in the yard.  For our kids, there are memories in the music, the pictures, and maybe even a dim recollection of being held by those strong, comforting arms.  That's the way to remember Conor, and I think that's the way he'd want to be remembered... as an all-around good guy who we were privileged to have known and hope to one day meet again.  We love you (Uncle) Conor and, unlike that bird, you will never, ever be forgotten.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Sick Kid Snafu

One of the things that struck me this week was the inordinate amount of sick kid snafus we experienced here in the Lyons Den.  What is a "Sick Kid Snafu"?  It's when a sick kid necessitates a swift change in your well-laid plans, often causing disappointment, occasionally causing disagreement and rarely if ever causing delight.  Here's a quick rundown of our Sick Kid Snafus in just the past four days...
  • Monday: July 4th fireworks viewing canceled for Lyons Den tots due to Declan having a raging fever and Ciara having a tummy ache.  I did my best to disregard both minor maladies but when Declan's eyes glazed over and Ciara had a "burp plus", I knew it wasn't meant to be... a maternal instinct that did cause a brief marital disagreement and resulted in a very disappointed 6 year old!
  • Monday/Tuesday: A massive midnight barf-o-rama caused a major snafu for a much-needed night of uninterrupted sleep!  Additional casualties included one comforter, one bedroom rug, one hallway rug and one very upset little lady covered in bright pink vomit.  Lessons learned?  First, do not dismiss the burp plus; it is clearly an omen of a barf plus plus plus!  Secondly, encourage wee ones to approach the endless July 4th barbecue bounty with caution; regurgitated watermelon, fruit punch and hot dogs do not make for an easy clean up!
  • Wednesday:  Another, even more desperately needed night of sleep disturbed by a nose bleed.  A massive horror show of a nose bleed at 3AM.  The kind of nose bleed that resulted in another comforter casualty; thankfully the rug was spared since it was still in recovery from the bright pink barf-o-rama.
  • Thursday:  A day that started with a bleary-eyed me and proved to be  a doozy of a day at work.  Lots to do, lots of meetings and then? You guessed it!  Sick Kid Snafu!  A tiny tot with a fever that insisted on rising despite ample, frequent doses of Motrin and Tylenol.  This working gal turned SuperMom donned my cape, fled the office and raced my minivan to the pediatrician pronto!  Key challenges aside from moaning tyke in backseat?  No wallet and no gas in car!  Talk about a snafu!
Looking ahead to tomorrow, I already had to cancel a playdate, once again leaving disappointment in the wake of a sick kid snafu.  Looking back on the past week, I realize there's even more in the way of plan-bashing, kid-caused upsets... there was the night Kevin fell off the couch and split his head open on the coffee table and the recent bee sting that had us all in a panic.  Heck, even the dog foiled some plans when he had diarrhea for days and required an emergency trip to the vet.  Hundreds of dollars and several postponed plans later, he emerged with a spring in his step and a wag in his tail.  The moral of the story?  As long as there are kids (and I suppose dogs!), there will be snafus.  And, much to my own surprise, I've learned to roll with them... usually with only the slightest trace of disappointment!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Summer survival tactics for beach & pool

Heading to your local pool or beach with tots in tow can be a daunting task, to say the very least!  The worries of managing your tribe multiply as you factor in sun, sand, and easy access to open water for tykes that are barely toddling, let alone swimming.  Here are a few simple suggestions to guarantee that you and your little ones have fun in the sun this summer...
  1. Apply sunblock at home.  This goes for you and the kiddos.  Once they set foot on sand or sight on that kiddie pool, the battle of the sunblock will officially be lost.  Save yourself the struggle by applying sunblock with the last diaper change or trip to the potty before you leave home.  This way, by the time you reach your destination, the lotion will be absorbed and you can start your day with one battle won.
  2. Set boundaries and stick to them.  Want your kids to stay in the kiddie pool?  Then don't introduce them to the big one.  Not with Dad, not with big brother, not with you, not at all.  Once they get a taste of what lies beyond, the kiddie pool will forever be, well, child's play.  Like any discipline or rules you follow at home, consistency is king at the pool or beach.  If your wee one knows that the big pool is off limits or shoes must be worn on the playground or they can only wander to the water's edge with a grown-up by their side, they will get it... and it's up to you to ensure that they do!
  3. Lead by example.  This may sound obvious but I often need to be reminded that my actions have a causal effect on my little ones reactions!  Want them to wear a hat?  Then you should wear one too.  The same holds true for sunblock, seat belts, healthy eating habits, you name it.  This is one tip that will take you to the pool and beyond.  Little ones learn by example and look to you first and foremost to show them the way. Which is why you will see me in a big-brimmed blue hat for most of the summer.  Is it cute?  Probably not.  But is it worth it if my five fair-skinned offspring wear their hats too?  Absolutely!
  4. Keep baby powder in your bag.  Why?  We call it the "powder treatment".  Powder can remove the most stubborn of sand from fingers, toes and all places in between.  And, if you get home and find your tots (or yourself!) too tired for the post-swim bath, you can tuck them in knowing that if nothing else, they will smell (and feel!) powder fresh! 
Wishing you a happy, safe summer where you win the battle of the sunblock and most of the others the tots throw your way!

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 4th Festivities & Memories

I couldn't be more excited about the upcoming 4th of July festivities... the parade, the fireworks, the hamburgers and hotdogs, the swimming, the day off from work and, of course, the deeper underlying symbolism of the day -- freedom and independence. 

For me, July 4th typically represents freedom and independence from the daily grind.  It's a journey back in time to my childhood and a day to create memories for my own children.  Based on a quick glance at last year's pictures, they're not yet as enamored with it all as I am:

Lyons Cubs: 7.4.10: NOT enthralled by parade

Littlest Lyons Cubs: 7.4.10: wanting a nap more than another firetruck viewing!
To provide you with a bit more context for my 4th of July nostalgia, I grew up in a town that has a stellar parade.  The type of parade that draws a crowd from all over the great Garden State but features floats from each of our small-town elementary schools.  The type of parade that is SO good that the locals line the streets with their chairs the night (even two nights) before to secure a good viewing.  It's a parade filled with marching bands, floats and firetrucks.  It's a parade that I marched in as a kid and insist on dragging my kids to even as they whine that it's too hot, too loud or even too boring -- am I the only one with a 6 year old who is constantly bored?!

In any case, my Dad loves the day as much as i do.  I kind of the think of it as his day.  For he too grew up in the charming village of Ridgewood, NJ where I was raised and he shares many of the same memories I now have.  When I was a kid, I remember my uncles coming over with donuts for the kids and big coolers of beer for the post-parade party.  They would come at around 8AM for a party that started early and ended late.  My Dad would man the grill for hours and in fact, he still does.  After the parade, there is swimming and lunch and watermelon...

"Thank God that loud scary parade is over!  Finally, something to eat!"
After lunch, there's a lull in the action that might be filled with another swim, a nap by the pool or preparing for the evening's grand event -- the fireworks.  My parents have the perfect location for the day -- and the night.  Their house sits at the end of the parade route and caddy-corner to the field where the fireworks display takes place.  It is the Shangri-La of the 4th of July.  Family, friends and neighbors fill the front lawn and backyard to take it all in. My Dad dons an apron with stars and stripes while flipping burgers and dogs 'til the sun sets.  The 4th of July for me is like Christmas, but better because there's no pressure to buy gifts, bake cookies or dress up.  It is low-key, laid back and a day that I eagerly look forward to.

As I write this, I've asked my husband what he thinks of it all.  His response? "Wow, your perspective is really inflated and delusional."  Fair enough! I admit to living in a "happy bubble" but it typically serves me well.   This is how I remember July 4th, how I experience it today, and how I hope my kids will one day recall it themselves.  I hope they will look back and think "Wow.  What fun we had. How awesome it was to be there with Mom and Dad and Mima and Pop-Pop and aunts and uncles and cousins with the flags and fireworks and fun."  I hope they come to appreciate freedom and independence in all of its forms.  Perhaps most of all, I hope they will put a chair out for me so I will always have a good spot to watch the parade!