Monday, September 26, 2011

Tuesday Tip: The Birthday Reality Check

It's hard to believe that October is almost upon us.  It's even harder to believe that that in the next two weeks, our princess will turn five, our triplets will turn three and friendly Finnegan, our loyal lab has a birthday too.  

Our October is jam-packed.  To add to the insanity (oops, did I say that?  I meant festivity!), we also celebrate our anniversary in October and this year, will be spending a portion of these notable days in Ireland.  I know it's crazy but we are taking our five fair-skinned, freckle-faced tykes to the land of our origins in the midst of all this birthday bedlam and back to school mayhem.

So, what's a gal to do?  Truth be told, I do kind of feel like my head is spinning and I'm not quite sure how to pack a family of seven for ten days overseas... when I did the math and arrived at 70 pairs of underwear, I mentally shut down and decided to focus on birthdays instead.  

Four of our five tots share a birthday week and since three of them share not only their date of birth but also have identical DNA, making everyone feel special is always a bit of a trick.  This year, I've decided to follow the advice of one of my friend's Moms.  She recently told me that her Mom approached birthdays with common sense and candor -- according to her Mom, a birthday is an important date on the calendar but not the only date to make a fuss, to let someone be a prince or princess for a day.  From what I gather, her Mom was a pragmatist with a great sense of humor and a grounded sense of reality... all traits that I fear we sometime lose in today's quest for creating those perfect birthday memories.

All too often we seem to fret about where to hold the party, what to put in the goody bag, how many kids to invite, how to bake the perfect cake... the list goes on and on.  Unless, of course, you decide to just say no.  To decide that goody bags are unnecessary, kids aren't cake critics and the only thing that matters is a hearty dose of fun, love and sure, a gift or two as well.

I recently found myself getting caught up in all of this; after all, it's easier for me to make lists and strive for perfection than it is to pack all that underwear!  But really, who needs all this pressure for birthday? Isn't it supposed to be fun?  With this in mind, I ordered a few gifts from Amazon that I have wrapped and ready to take to Ireland for our princess and I have a few more ready for the triplets when we return.  I haven't sent invitations or planned parties... and I'm not sure that I will.  At five years old, Ciara would like to celebrate with her friends but at three, the triplets are still making friends and certainly won't hold it against me (I hope!) if we don't ring in their third year with a bonanza at Tumblebugs.

The moral of the story?  Birthdays are special days and should absolutely be celebrated in a big way.  But, what's big to a tiny tot may not be big to you... some time together, some stuff to unwrap and a messy cupcake will probably do the trick.  I'll give it a whirl and let you know how it works out... and, stay tuned for a recap of our adventures in Ireland... birthday and all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Food as reward for tots -- good idea or not?

I recently came across the following video from Momversation which shares several moms' views on using food as a reward -- which seems to be among the latest controversial topics.

I grew up in a house where you didn't get dessert if you didn't finish your dinner.  The same is true now that I have children of my own.   And, just like when I was a kid, finishing your dinner doesn't necessarily guarantee dessert; dessert is served at the discretion of Mom and Dad based on numerous factors including behavior at the table, whether or not the homework is complete and, to be honest, if we have any goodies in the house!

Though I kind of wish I didn't, I do occasionally use food as a reward.  Our recent trials with potty training come instantly to mind... our two year old triplets get one M&M for #1 and two M&Ms for #2.  For us, this is a sensible system that works and we're amazed at how long our little guys will sit on the pot just for an M&M or two!

A few years ago, we were faced with bedtime battles every night.  After too many feeble threats about consequences, we decided to try the reward route instead; the promise of a few Froot Loops sprinkled on top of a hearty bowl of Cheerios was all it took to turn our nighttime tyrants into sleeping angels.
We aim for all things in moderation and if a treat here and there makes our lives easier, well, I'm all for it... after all, why not make life easier (and a bit sweeter!) when you can? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lessons learned from back to school night(s)

This week was a doozy.  Monday was the 2nd grade back to school night.  Tuesday was the kindergarten back to school night.  Wednesday night was the parent orientation for CCD and for me, a wake-up call for just how much of my Catholic education I’ve forgotten. 

I’m told that as a kid, I used to sing church hymns in the tub but, it seems with the passing of the years, I’ve forgotten not only many of those hymns but some of the Catholic basics as well – like the fact that the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Communion both apparently take place in the second grade. This was just one eye-opening takeaway from our back to back evenings back at school; here are a few more.

1.     Second grade is tough.  Especially the spelling homework -- not the words themselves but the routine of how they must be written, then alphabetized, then used in a sentence. There is also some very specific page folding and numbering involved; it seems a lot more complicated than the good old spelling bees I recall from my youth.   What I learned from one night in second grade is that following directions is key to success... with spelling and the rest of the curriculum!
2.     Kindergarten is lovely.  There are songs, coloring, snacks, blocks and nap time. All of this appeals to me, especially the nap time.  I learned here that I would like to go back to kindergarten and I still like to color. 
3.     Our second grader is a conniver.  Of course we knew he could be mischievous at home but we thought he was an angel-child when we let him spread his wings.  Not so. His teacher very kindly told us that he likes to push the boundaries, see what he can get away with – like trading baseball cards between reading and arithmetic for example.  That is not allowed.  And so I was reminded once again that it's important to follow the rules and breaking them has consequences... in this case, there will be no more baseball cards for our budding little trader!
4.     Our kindergartner has a great voice.  And she’s not afraid to use it.  This I knew.  At home she's been known to shriek and scream like she's possessed.  However, in school, she uses the power of her apparently well-tuned pitch quite differently.  She confidently stands in front of her classmates and sings her name in the attendance song,  softly crooning like a pro. Who knew?! I learned I should listen more closely and that there is a positive way to channel that voice!
5.      We have to purchase a navy suit and white tie.  Seriously.  This is a requirement for those aforementioned Sacraments.  On the upside, when you consider the hand-me-down possibilities with our up and coming Catholic triplets, it will surely be worn more than once.  But really?  A suit?  A white tie?!  I suppose I learned that sometimes you just have to smile and play the part.  In this case, my sweet (can you be both sweet and conniving?  I think so.) second grader will be assuming the role of a more fully-fledged member of our church community and I will be the proud mama. 

That, perhaps, is my biggest takeaway from three nights in the classroom; I am indeed a proud mama.  And, I still have a lot to learn!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Tip: The Babysitter Checklist

Last night was our Back to School night for second grade.  Although the date was on our calendar for weeks, we found ourselves suddenly in need of a sitter.  All of our "regulars" had been snapped up by the moms who planned ahead.  I typically include myself with these uber-organized folks but somehow this time I dropped the ball.

At the last minute, we lucked out and got a lovely local high school junior. I don't think it's exaggerating to say she looked panic-stricken when she arrived on our doorstep at 6:30, wondering how she'd wrangle five tots to bed by 8:00.  I don't blame her; I think I often look the same way! 

It turned out to be a blessing that the triplets skipped their nap and were ready for bed earlier than usual;  the poor girl visibly brightened when I told her I'd tuck our trio of toddlers in before leaving so her only charges would be two tired grammar schoolers.  It struck me on the way out that we rarely leave our brood with people they don't know and even my own parents have been known to mix up the triplets and put them in the wrong crib.  With this in mind, I developed a Babysitter Checklist to ensure that sweet dreams are had by all -- and, perhaps just as importantly, that this nice new babysitter will one day return!

  1. Set the Ground Rules.  Make sure your sitter knows (and follows!) your rules about bedtime, screen time and time outs.  For us, bedtime for the grammar school gang is between 7:30 and 8:00, they are allowed 30 minutes of TV (but no Angry Birds) and a time out is in order if they don't follow the ground rules!
  2. Share your bedtime routine.  Is there a special blankie (or in our case, "WaWa") that Junior can't sleep without?  Is Goodnight Moon a bedtime mandatory?  Do teeth get brushed before or after the last trip to the potty?  These little details will help your wide-eyed sitter get your tots down for shut-eye right on schedule.
  3. Leave emergency contact info.  This one may be obvious (and I'm pretty sure someone once gave me a nifty notepad with this info on it!) but don't forget to leave the details that will matter most if things take a turn for the worse -- your cell phone number, your husband's cell, the pediatrician's number and ideally the number of a trusty neighbor -- someone in walking or yelling distance that can come in a jiffy.
  4. Share your expectations.  Do you want to come home from a nice night out (or a few hours at the local school, which is also quite nice but not exactly a romantic date!) to clean up mac and cheese and load the sippy cups into the dishwasher? If not, make sure your sitter knows the job requirements -- if they include cleaning up the kitchen or taking out the dirty diapers, you need to let her know.  If you don't, you can't blame her for ignoring them, just like you would occasionally like to do!
  5. Sitters need ground rules too.  How do you feel about your sitter talking on the phone while the kids are up?  Can she (or he) use your computer?  Have access to your wireless code?  If your sitter is over 21, are you comfortable with her having a drink after the kids are tucked in?  Is it ok if the boyfriend or girlfriend comes over?  Addressing these issues before you head out for the night is sure way to ensure that a good time is had by all.  After all, you're finally in the position to say "As long as you're in MY house, you'll live by MY rules" -- although, I wouldn't recommend actually saying it out loud if you'd like your nice babysitter to come back!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Goodnight Moon, so long my sweet babies

Tonight I read Goodnight Moon for the one millionth time.  Give or take a few.  It feels like a million times but, I still love it.  I love the rapt attention it holds -- over our two year old triplets today and our four and six year old before them.  One of my favorite things is reading one page and letting them fill in what follows... 

ME:  Goodnight comb, goodnight brush...

THEM:  Goodnight old lady whispering HUSHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Try as we might, none of our kids ever really got the hang of the "hush." As we were reading tonight, I had three little guys sprawled across my legs, finishing the sentences and looking up at me in wide-eyed wonder.  I realized then that it won't be long before they move on.  Before our tattered copy of Goodnight Moon ends up on the back of the bookshelf with other "baby" books like Guess How Much I Love YouThe Very Hungry Caterpillar and other kiddie classics. 

I love the sweet innocence of these family favorites.  They will forever represent a time in our lives that is flying by far too fast.  

Tonight as I tucked my little fellas and "big kids" in, I thought about the many minor milestones we've passed -- the little things that may not be in a baby book but are etched forever in my heart.  Things like...
  •  The sweet, funny, mixed-up things they say, like "Is me going to work with you Mommy?" or "I love the sunset moon!"
  • Squeezing all five kids in the tub together -- this actually has been captured on film and typically elicits the response, "You need a bigger tub!"
  • The way they all used to sleep with their rumps up in the air; now they lie sprawled out like drunken frat boys.
  • Pot bellies.  Those big, round, post-meal bellies that provide a visual display confirming their tummies are full.  (If only this stayed cute as we grew older... like 40 years older!)
  • Fascination with dump trucks, garbage trucks, firetrucks, any sort of construction equipment and "worker guys." 
I was once in a car with my boss and commented on a cool front-end loader; I couldn't resist, I am now just wired to notice the things my kids adore. While that incident was admittedly a bit embarrassing, it's amazing how these little people change the way we view the world.  I am so grateful for the ability to see things through their eyes.  And, I am equally grateful that all those little eyes are now closed... lulled to sleep by the melodic ending of Goodnight Moon -- in their words "Goodnight stars, goodnight air, good night noises all over the place."  Sweet dreams indeed.

A moment in time... our 5 "cubs" no longer fit in this tub!

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    "I'm Blue": a major mishap of raising identical triplets

    There are a few phrases I never expected to hear in this lifetime, among them "You're having triplets" and "They're identical."  Given that I had two toddlers at home when I received this news, it was especially unsettling... and all the more so when the disturbing facts and frightening statistics about birth defects and premature labor finally settled in.

    The pregnancy was a long haul -- 36 weeks of ups and downs, worrying and fretting, and sleepless nights with an alarmingly large belly, as noted for posterity here:

    Freakishly large belly with 17+ lbs. of bouncing baby boys inside
    When the little fellas finally arrived, we had a plan for telling them apart.  While my husband Des wanted to tattoo them, I decided that just a bit of nail polish on the big toe would be a better way to go -- red for Kevin, blue for Declan and green for Cormac.  For the better part of their first two years, these little guys had a better pedicure than I ever did... typically with a coordinating outfit to eliminate any possibility of a mix-up.

    Onesies with their names helped in the beginning... could you tell these guys apart?!

    As time passed, we all comfortably relied on the color coding system.  It has helped me and Des, Liam and Ciara, my parents, neighbors and friends and extended family to know who's who here in the Lyons Den.

    Color-coded kids from the very beginning -- circa May 2009

    That said, I'm not so sure it has helped the very fellas it was intended to benefit: Kevin, Declan and Cormac.  Since the day they were born, these poor guys have had their toe nails painted and their hand-me-downs organized by color.  When we don't have red, Kevin may get orange or yellow.  When we don't have green, Cormac may get gray or white.  But we never seem to run out of blue... which I suppose is why when strangers ask Declan what his name is, he responds with great sincerity "I'm blue."  

    Yikes, now is that a motherhood mishap, or what?  The poor kid thinks his name is Blue!  Not to worry, this is an issue we're actively working to address, first and foremost by letting them each choose their own clothes.  The problem?  Now they all want blue.  To make matters even more challenging, on many days they all want "Yankee uniforms" and Declan (a.k.a. "Blue") now mutters to himself as he stumbles down the hall "Derek Jeter!  Derek Jeter!"  I suppose in terms of aspirations, it's better to be Jeter than be Blue but, my hope is that one day, he'll be happy just being Declan... and until then, I hope that we -- and everyone else -- will find a way to tell who's who!

    Cranky Yankees circa June 2010 in color coded crocs & clearly not too happy about it!

    Tuesday Tip: How to fit in fitness

     It’s 5:47AM.  It is dark outside and warm under the covers.  The alarm clock goes off.  I hate it.  I’d like to hit snooze until tomorrow.  But I don’t. I get up, put on my shorts, sneakers and a shirt that just might be backwards because I’m so tired.  Then I head out the door.  Why?  To run.
    Why?  Because it’s good for me.  It keeps me in shape, let’s me eat cake and is as good for my head as it is for my body.  But really why?  Why don’t I hit snooze and plan to go for a run at lunch or maybe after work?   Two reasons.  First, I know if I don’t go now, I won’t go at all.  Second and more importantly, because my friends are waiting.  And they are tired too.  And while I might leave them hanging for a bit when I’m late for book club or the occasional girls night out, I will not leave them hanging in dark at 6AM.  
    Over time, I've learned how – and when – to fit in fitness and since I was just recently asked how I do it, here are five simple tips that will hopefully have you lacing up your sneakers and heading out the door… ideally with your shirt on the right way!
    1.    Set a goal.  I’m sure you’ve heard this before but I’m here to tell you that it works.  Having a goal to work toward is a great motivator.  Maybe you’d like to run a 5K or lose five pounds or fit into your favorite pair of old jeans.  Whatever it is, pick your goal and get started.  For me, it was running a half-marathon this past March.  Training wasn’t easy during a winter of record-setting snow and ice storms but I did it; knowing that I had 13 miles to contend with kept me going.  It wasn’t always fun but, the sense of pride when I crossed the finish line was well worth it… as was fitting into my old jeans!
    2.    Grab a buddie.  With a kindergartener, 2nd grader and three pre-schoolers at home, the notion of a buddy system is near and dear to me. When you have a buddy by your side, you’re less likely to give up, more likely to show up and have a built-in support system.  Whether it’s running, Zumba, walking, weights, Step or Spinning, it will be more fun with a friend by your side. So go grab a gal pal and if you’re as lucky as I am, you can combo your exercise with some girl talk and just might find that you have “solutions before sunrise” – something we recently realized is an added perk of our early morning runs.
    3.    Mix it up.  I used to belong to a gym.  I used to take classes at lunchtime and on Saturday mornings.  Now I usually eat lunch at my desk so I can dash home in time to make dinner and Saturday mornings are for soccer practice.  When I had the luxury of a gym membership, I’d take different classes all the time; it was challenging and rewarding, mentally and physically.  Now that I’ve lost the luxury of time (and the money I spent at the gym is now spent on PullUps and soccer cleats), I have to find other ways to keep it fresh, to prevent the burnout that can lurk around the next corner.  This fall, I hope to find time for a weekly yoga class (wish me luck!) and I’ve started to explore new terrain with new tunes when I’m running solo.  Small changes can keep a workout interesting and ensure that when fitness fatigue sets in, you resist the urge to hit that snooze button!
    4.    Put it on your calendar.  Ideally with one of those annoying 15 minute reminders you can’t ignore.  You wouldn’t miss a dentist appointment, pre-school conference, soccer practice or ballet lesson, would you?  Well, treat your newfound commitment to fitness the same way – as an important obligation that’s not to be missed.  After all, that’s exactly what it is. 
    5.    Just do it.  I hate to say it, but the good folks at Nike had it right when they came up with this one.  Stop making excuses, get off your rump, get up and go! No matter how tired you are, you’ll always feel better, never regret it and will undoubtedly be pleased with the results!

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Remembering 9/11

    Where was I ten years ago?  I had just gotten engaged.  Just turned 30.  I had a man I loved, a job I loved and all was well with the world.  I was probably kind of smug that September morning as I sauntered out the door thinking about how lucky I was.  What a beautiful day it was.  Then, what a shame it was that a small Cessna hit one of the Towers.  That's what the doorman told me.  A small Cessna.  Terrible, I thought.  Surely someone must have died. No way you could survive a crash into the World Trade Center.  

    I got on the subway.  People were talking. Sad. Tragic.  Little plane.  Big tower.  Awful.

    I got off the subway.  Smoke. Screaming.  Running.  Big plane.  Two towers.  Run!

    And so I did.  I ran with my faithful, fluffy golden retriever Murphy, who I routinely "snuck" onto the subway and into my office at 19th and Broadway.   It wasn't "downtown" per se.  I wasn't that close.  I watched the tragedy unfold on TV, relatively safe and completely spellbound in a conference room, about a mile north of the horror.

    Surrounded by co-workers who were truly friends, I watched the towers fall, the Pentagon get hit.   The reporters stunned.  The world shocked.  The city suddenly silent.  Eerie.  Smoky.  Sad.  So sad.

    Like so many others, Murphy and I walked to Grand Central and took a MetroNorth train out of the city.  We were headed to Des' apartment in Westchester.  I ran to the man I now call my husband and the place I now call home.  I was on a packed train full of frightened masses.  Men were crying.  People were covered in dust, soot, and who knows what else.  Murphy seemed to give them comfort.  I know I was glad to have him with me, to have his soft fur to silence my sobs.

    Murphy: a comforting, fluffy furball
    It was unthinkable.  We were under attack.  New York City.  The US of A.  It was unthinkable.  I had to go back.  No sooner did I get off the train then I wanted to go back.  To the city. To home.  To help.  

    We went the next morning.  We brought old sweatshirts, socks, t-shirts with us.  That's what they said to do.  They said they needed volunteers at the triage center they set up at Chelsea Piers.  They said they needed clean, comfortable clothes.  We brought them.  We went to help. 

    But there was no one to help.  They were in the rubble.  The pile.  They called it "The Pile."  It used to be the World Trade Center.  They used to be people's parents, friends, children, loves.  They were gone.  It was awful.

    I remember thinking then "I hope the world never forgets.  I hope we don't forget the people who lost their lives, the people who saved lives and those who died trying." I also recall that in the weeks that followed, the world was a kinder, gentler place in many ways.  People bonded, especially in New York but far beyond as well.  Families got closer.  Relationships grew stronger.  People seemed to be nicer.  To remember what matters most -- family, friendship, civility, respect.  

    In the aftermath of 9/11, these values seemed to thrive.  As we approach the ten-year anniversary of one of the most horrid days in our nation's history, I hope we can remember.  I hope we truly honor those we lost and those who are still among us.  

    I haven't quite figured out how to explain all this to our kids but I know I'm going to hold them tighter, hug them closer and then, when the tears inevitably well up, I may just bury them in some fluffy fur, just as I did ten years ago.  

    Granted, that fur now belongs to Finnegan since Murphy has departed to the great dog park in the sky but, I suppose in some ways, that's fitting.  Life goes on.  And it's up to us to ensure that as it does, we remember and we pay our respects.

    Finn: Not as fluffy but just as sweet

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Tuesday Tip: Take it in Stride

    The past few days have been full of firsts... and lasts.  Labor Day marked the unofficial last day of summer... and the first day of my fortieth year.  As we lamented the unfortunate end of the long days, carefree nights and relaxed routine we've grown happily accustomed to, we celebrated my birthday -- and anticipated the important upcoming firsts for our kids... specifically, Ciara's first day of kindergarten and Liam's first day of second grade, both of which were today. 

    As you might imagine, there is a lot of emotion, anxiety and hope tied to these landmark events... turning the big 4-0, sending your only little lady off to kindergarten and watching your firstborn hop on the bus to second grade.  I can't help but wonder where the time has gone, how it passed so fast, and what the future will bring. 

    As it turns out, my not-yet-five year old put it best when she hopped out of bed this morning and announced in a most matter-of-fact way "I'm a kindergartener now Mom."  The rainy day and fact that her "back to school outfit" never arrived in the mail didn't dampen her spirit; she just took it all in stride, inspiring today's Tuesday Tip. 

    Take it easy.  Have faith in the what the future holds, for your children, your family and yourself.  It is so easy to get caught up in the hoopla of life's milestones, be they turning forty or the first day of school.  It's so easy to let external pressures invade your inner-most thoughts. "Am I really turning 40?  Can I really be this old?  Will there be a great big party?  Shouldn't there be ?!"  Or "Can I really put my peanut on a school bus?  Is she really ready to go?  Will she make friends?  Will she miss me?"  These and many other thoughts cluttered my mind for much of the long Labor Day weekend.  

    Rather than enjoying the moment, (there were many enjoyable moments that included swimming, ice cream and pizza, just to name a few!) I was too busy fretting about what might come next.  Perhaps, at the end of the day, that's why they fly by so quickly.  Because we're all too busy worrying about what comes next.

    Thanks to my brave, confident, sassy kindergartener, as I begin this next decade, I'm going to try to be more like her.  To enjoy the moment.  To take it in stride.  And yes, to even skip through the raindrops rather than let it rain on my parade.

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    The great debate: Can working moms ever win?

    Yesterday I shared some thoughts on my life as a working mom on the New York Times parenting blog, Motherlode.  Under the headline of How She Does It, I sought to answer the question that I -- and many other Moms -- are constantly asked: how do you do it? I answered from my perspective which apparently led some readers to believe that I am either A. a single Mom or B. a self-centered wife who gives my amazing husband Des no credit.  Neither is true.  And the mixed commentary caused me to wonder once again if working moms can ever really win. 

    Like most moms, I struggle with the juggle and admit to occasionally dropping the ball, as Lisa Belkin noted in her lead-in to my piece.  There are days -- in fact, even weeks and months -- when I feel like I'm stretched too thin and not doing any of "it" well.  If I'm thriving at work, I'm not spending enough time at home and if my home-life is thriving, then something at work may be sacrificed. While I strive for perfection at home and at work, I've learned let go a little bit, to let things slide, to overlook the Legos in the living room or show up for a meeting in a wrinkled, snot-stained shirt.  Most simply put, I do the best I can, at work and at home, each and every day. 

    It's not easy.  We worry about money.  We worry about raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids.  We worry about our marriage, about finding time for each other in the whirlwind of our lives. We're aware that our role as parents will get tougher as the kids get older.  We hope when that day comes, I'll have more flexible hours so I can help with homework, shuttle to sports, and truly tune-in to the teenage angst that surely awaits.

    But that is then.  This is now.  I work because I have to and feel fortunate that I actually like to.  I can't spend too much time worrying about tomorrow because frankly, it takes all the energy I have just to get through today.  As many Motherlode readers rightly noticed, I don't get through the days on my own.  Des and I are a team.  And a good one at that. Much to our own dismay, we sometimes find ourselves humming that annoying Wonder Pets jingle..."How's it gonna work?  TEAMWORK!" He vacuums, I do the laundry.  I do the grocery shopping, he cooks.  We share childcare duties and are both experts at changing diapers, giving baths, packing snacks, making lunches… the list goes on and on.

    Our kids know that they're part of a team too -- and that being on a team requires teamWORK.  They may be young but we want to instill in them a sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic.  That's why at four and six years old respectively, Ciara and Liam make their beds. And although they are not yet three, Kevin, Declan and Cormac know to clear their plates and put books back on the shelves.  It's all about teamwork.  As a husband and wife, Des and I make a great team.  As parents, we have great pride in the little team of Lyons Cubs that we get the pleasure of raising.

    It should also be noted that we don't take ourselves too seriously.  We laugh.  A lot.  I often say that life in the Lyons Den is like that old fable... when it's good, it's really really good and when it's bad, it's horrid.  We have really bad, wicked, screaming, crying, temper tantrum, totally losing it, horrid moments.  Doesn't everyone have them?  Given the number of kids we have, we probably have more meltdowns more often than most.  But they pass.  And then we laugh.  And we remind ourselves that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how tired we are, we are lucky to have each other and our five kids are a blessing.

    They remind us daily of what's most important. And I know it's not the time in the office but rather, the time we spend together.  I cherish that time.  And I cherish a break from it as well.  And I suppose that's why, for now, I am A-OK with being a working mom.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Confessions of a(n almost) 40 year old child

    It’s coming.  In just a few days, I will turn the big 4-0.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.  I’m not sure why everyone makes such a big deal about it.  I am sure that I can’t possibly be this “old” given the many ways I still act like a child myself.  Here are 40 of them, in no particular order -- just a few observations, confessions and aspirations in homage to my past 40 fabulous years and God-willing, at least 40 more!

    1. For starters, I love birthdays. And birthday parties and birthday cake. 
    2. I don’t like fancy cakes.  I will always choose an old-fashioned yellow cake with chocolate icing over a fancy gallette or anything with fruit filling.
    3. I am cranky when I don’t get enough sleep.
    4. I am really cranky when I am hungry.  
    5. I don’t like to be kept waiting.  I want what I want and I want it NOW.   
    6. I love snow. 
    7. I wish for snow days.
    8. I like building snowmen, making snow angels and even catching snowflakes on the tip of my tongue.
    9. I also like hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows; in fact, I expect it after a good romp in the snow.
    10. Sometimes I want my Mommy.  Or my Dad.  Thank God they still come running when I call.   
    11. I like the Backyardigans.  Ok, I love the Backyardigans.  I've been known to comment (positively) on the choreography.  This should embarrass me.  It doesn't.
    12. I like most, if not all, Disney and Pixar movies.  Always have.  Even before I had five kids of my own.
    13. I love Mary Poppins and like to say (and sing) Supercalifragiliciousexpialidocious! 
    14. If I could wear footie pajamas, I would.  
    15. If I could still sleep with "Abearham", an Irish-knit clad teddy bear my "Mom-Mom" gave me from the now defunct Abraham & Straus, I would. 
    16. I hate putting on sunblock.
    17. Sometimes I don’t want to eat my veggies and I do want to eat dessert.
    18. Sometimes I wish I could have Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and other forbidden cereals for breakfast.
    19. Sometimes I want to stir my ice cream into a soup.  Possibly a soup with chocolate chips and/or sprinkles floating in it.
    20. My perfect day would include a trip to a zoo... 
    21. … or an aquarium.  I love a good aquarium!  I especially like the "touch pools" with starfish and eels.  (I also like those traditional petting zoos with billy goats you can feed by hand!)
    22. When I wear high heels, I feel like I’m playing dress up.  I like to play dress up. 
    23.  I say “like” too much.
    24. Sometimes I’m too excited to sleep – typically on Christmas Eve or the night before vacation.
    25. A small part of me still believes in Santa.  In the magic of Christmas.  I love to run down the stairs and see what's under the tree -- even though these days, I've put most of the gifts there myself. 
    26. I like presents.  I like getting them and giving them.  I really like getting them.
    27. I like bubble baths.  I wish I could take them more often.
    28. I must touch all dogs.  Especially big fluffy ones.  I just can’t resist. 
    29.  I occasionally throw a wicked tantrum.  It’s not pretty. I’m not proud of it but, it’s true.
    30. I really like Mac & Cheese. And grilled cheese. While I'm at it, chicken nuggets aren't so bad either.
    31. I have a fondness for McNuggets thanks to a fond memory of my first trip to McDonald's with my Pop-Pop.
    32. I love a place called Sundae School, again thanks to Pop-Pop.  Mint chip sundaes with hot fudge, homemade whipped cream and a real cherry will always be one of my favorite things.
    33. I love to sing "My Favorite Things."  I love The Sound of Music.  I still get scared at parts. 
    34. Sometimes I don’t like sharing.  Especially blueberries.  I love blueberries.
    35. Sometimes I want to play hooky.   
    36. Sometimes I don't want to make my bed, wash my face or brush my teeth.
    37. I actually like milk with dinner.  Especially with meatballs and spaghetti.  Weird, right? 
    38. I tend to trust people.  I believe most people are inherently good.
    39. I believe that dreams can come true.
    40. I still make a wish when the clock turns 11:11, when I throw a penny in a fountain, when a stray eyelash is blown away and of course,  when I blow out my birthday candles. I believe these wishes will come true. In fact, many already have.

    So, with 40 just around the corner and this list in hand, I am truly grateful for my family and friends. They humor my childlike whims and  tolerate my occasional tantrums; they have shaped who I am today and will influence who I become tomorrow.  I hope they surround me as I blow out the candles for the years to come; if they do, that will be just one more wish come true.