I was once told by a well-meaning doctor that the “human body isn’t meant to carry a litter." Given that I somehow carried our triplets for 36 weeks and a collective birth weight over 17 pounds, I absolutely agree. My midsection looks like a deflated party tent. On a good day, it conjures up that childhood favorite “The Saggy Baggy Elephant” ; on a bad day, it is more reminiscent of Freddie from “Nightmare on Elm Street.” In both cases, it is wrinkly and wiggly – wrinkly thanks to being stretched to accommodate the three bouncing baby boys who once resided within (not to mention their preceding big brother and sister!) and wiggly thanks to my intestines, which are now closer to the surface than they should be. The “litter” that I carried for far longer than anyone would have anticipated left me with severe diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles) and an umbilical hernia, essentially a weak spot that bulges in a most unsightly way, causing the kids to ask “why is your belly button growing Mama?”
So, while wiggly, wrinkly skin can be overlooked or least cleverly concealed, an umbilical hernia can not. It must be fixed. As my doctor so gracefully put it, “you can get it fixed on your schedule, in an outpatient procedure OR you can wait until one of your intestines gets strangulated and you find yourself in an ambulance facing emergency surgery, possibly in a life-threatening situation.” Um, ok, got it Doc. Sign me up. I scheduled the surgery for May 10th. Then I found out I had a new boss starting on May 9th and it just didn’t seem prudent to disappear the next day so, I cancelled it. Why my nice doctor called again, he gently reminded me that left untreated, my hernia could cause a lot more trouble than out-patient surgery and a few days out of work. So, this time I’m doing it. For real. And I am FREAKING out.
Aside from my fear of the surgery itself and a lot of anxiety about the aftermath of pain and recovery, there is the daunting fact that I will not be able to lift anything more than 20 pounds for six weeks. SIX weeks! To put things in perspective, each triplet now weighs about 28 pounds. I’m pretty sure that with my laptop, reading materials, files, wallet, and motley collection of lip balm, eye drops, and the occasional Lego, my work bag weighs about 30 pounds. So, as I consider the next six weeks, I’m not sure how I will put my little guys in their cribs, high chairs or car seats and it’s unclear how I can get my job done if I can’t lift up my bag! As I prepare myself and the rest of the Lyons Den for MaMa Lyons being benched, I know I’ve gone a bit overboard.
We now have enough groceries to survive a nuclear winter. I figure that if I can’t lift the kids, at least I can feed them. On the work front, I’ve bombarded that new boss with a status report a mile long. I figure that if I can’t be in the office, at least I've left copious notes and detailed instructions. This weekend, I jumped into the icy cold pool and caught the kids as they gleefully jumped to me. I figured I’d better do it now because six weeks is a really long time to just say no to those sweet smilng faces. I also suggested that Des stay at a Memorial Day Barbeque and have another beer while I took the five kids home, bathed them and put them to bed. Because I could. And as long as I can, I will. I need to. I am the Queen of Control. As you might imagine, this is not always a good thing. In some ways, it serves me well. It allows me the organizational expertise and just enough perfectionist prowess to keep the kids in line and the house in shape. On the flip side, it makes me, well, a control freak. And, on top of the multi-faceted fear and anxiety this surgery presents, it also presents a total loss of control. From surrendering to the anesthesia to suspending my responsibilities at home and work for the next week, the loss of control is looming and I don’t like it. Not one little bit. But, I have no choice. As Doc so kindly mentioned, at least I’m controlling when and where this is going down. Beyond that though, it’s out of my hands. I will have to trust the good doctors to take me apart and put me together again, just as I have to trust that my husband, family and friends will keep keep things on track at home. Wish us all luck and stay tuned to see how it all turns out...
Monday, May 30, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Heading out of town for Memorial Day weekend? Here are a few road trip tips to ensure that your getaway gets off to a good start!
- Pack wipes – and lots of ‘em! Any time we spend more than an hour in the car, someone is bound to barf. Those wipes are good for more than just diaper changes. They work wonders when the projectile vomit hits the back of the front seat and do double duty cleaning car seats and kids too. Stockpile them before you hit the road!
- Bring plenty of Purell. We keep a full-size bottle in the door pocket in the front of the car. Why? See #1! We like to have it handy at all times… especially since the kids seem to so easily transition from puke-time to snack-time. Gross, but true. TGFP! (Thank Goodness for Purell!)
- Don’t forget the sunblock. Ours resides next to the Purell in the front seat because for our fair-skinned clan, even a stop for lunch is an opportunity for sunburn… and really, it would be a shame to sport a sunburn before you even hit the beach, wouldn’t it?
- Time your trip well. Take into account rush hour and the witching hour. Consider meal times, nap times and bed time. Then determine the best time for you and your family to hit the road. Kids hate to be strapped down for hours on end? Maybe a post-dinner departure is best for you; just pop the kids in pjs and tuck them into car seats so they can snooze while you can groove. Kids love adventure? Then perhaps it’s up early with breakfast on the road and a solid rotation of “I Spy” and the “License Plate game.” Either way, plan accordingly and the trip will fly by.
- Keep your go-to items accessible. Do not lock them in the trunk or stow them away in the Thule box on top of the car. Believe me, when you are on the side of the road with a spit-spewing child in hysterics, you don’t want to scramble for clean clothes. Or wipes. Or Purell. You’ll be glad to have these necessities at arm’s reach. The items that we always have handy include:
- Sippy cups/water bottles/snacks and more snacks!
- Books/Legos/favorite blankies (known in our house as "WaWas", don't ask!)
- First Aid kit –a few BandAids, Children’s Motrin and Tylenol, Benadryl and that’s pretty much it. Just the basics!
- Change of clothes – for the tykes and for me. Somehow Des/Dad/Driver seems to survive most trips unscathed while I may find myself wearing vomit, pee, poop, apple juice, rotten milk, smushed cereal bars or any combination of the above. I realized when I smelled worse than the nasty rest stops along the way that it was time to take action and include a change of clothes for me too!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Last weekend I had the good fortune to get away with four great girlfriends. While I was only away from home for 36 hours (and I spent six of them in the car!), I returned feeling refreshed, recharged and reminded of just how lucky I am to call these amazing women friends. The last time we all went away, two of us were pregnant for the very first time. While the rest of the gang partied it up, we went home early and whispered in the dark about belly butters and the awe (and horror!) of pregnancy. Now, with our babies born and our lives forever changed, it was a true treat to reconnect, decompress and yes, even relax for a short while as we left our husbands, children, jobs and obligations behind for a brief time... time that was so well spent, we're convinced it should be an annual event. Here's why:
- Only your girlfriends will tell you that you need to lose the Mom jeans. Or khaki pants. Or sensible shoes. Maybe not all the time, but certainly some of the time. Your girlfriends will remind you of your life pre-kids and reassure you that you are just as cute/smart/great now as you were back then -- and, that you should at least occasionally dress that way! They will also help you find the right jeans and, having suffered through the hunt, will wisely tell you that when you find the magic pair, you should buy two of them. Listen to this advice. It is good advice!
- Your girlfriends will make you realize how much you've changed. For the better. Sure you may now have saggy boobs, a few gray hairs and a mid-section best not exposed but, you also have the wisdom of years and a new-found confidence that you may have lacked in your 20s. You've advanced your career or perhaps left it behind for the full time job called motherhood. Either way, you believe the decisions you've made are the right ones. And that deserves a pat on the back -- a pat that your girlfriends are all too willing to give.
- Your girlfriends make you realize that your problems are, for the most part, universal. Everyone occasionally struggles with their kids, their husband, their finances, even their sex life. Who wouldn't as the years pass by, the babies arrive, the sleep disappears and the the daily responsibilities grow. The days may be long but the years go by quickly; enduring friendships are a great way to commiserate about the the challenges you face now -- and the ones you faced before and now can laugh about... which leads me to...
- Girlfriends are great to laugh with. And be silly with. And be yourself with. They accept you for who you really are and love you for the person you are today -- even as they laugh out loud at the person you were back in the day. The one in the daisy dress, drunk as a loon, dancing like a rockstar. Or, perhaps more like Elaine on Seinfeld. They don't care. They love you for you and you love them back. Even when they are laughing at you. Or with you. It really doesn't matter; either way, they are there for you now, were there for you then and will be there for you tomorrow.
- A getaway with girlfriends is like a "get out of jail free card." I don't mean to imply that the Lyons Den is a jail but rather that a brief getaway is a joy-filled freedom to have a break from it all -- no laundry, no dirty diapers, no cooking and no cleaning up. To the contrary, a short escape with the girls provides he opportunity to do a bit of shopping (see #1!), maybe get a manicure, linger over coffee in your pjs and have that one last drink because you know the little people who typically wake you up at night are safely tucked in a few hours away.
Girlfriends, and girls weekends, are good for the soul. They are vital reminders that we are so much more than moms, wives and workers. We are funny, we are fun and we deserve to have a good time every now and again. Believe me, I have fun with my family. In fact, we have a LOT of fun but, a weekend with the gals is good for everyone. In addition to painted toes and some new clothes, I came home with renewed appreciation for my great husband and incredible kids. I have my girlfriends to thank for that, and for so much more. Including next year's getaway, which is already in the works!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Given that today started with 6-year old Liam telling me I was his servant (not to worry, we've fixed that grave misconception!), it's no wonder that it should end with a fair amount of eyebrow raising moments. I'm fairly used to the routine swings from good, to bad to ugly and back again here in the Lyons Den but what surprised me tonight is just how many of these moments were squeezed into roughly 6:15-8:15!
- I got home from work at 6:12. The sitter left at 6:13. By 6:14, I was literally under attack. Liam took a running leap to greet me that knocked me over, causing me to land on Ciara who let out a scream so loud you might have heard it. This incited a small riot among Kevin, Declan and Cormac, each of whom doesn't quite seem to get the time-honored tradition of "don't kick a man (or Mom!) when he's (or she's!) down." Starting the evening from a "down" position is never a good sign!
- 6:30: Tilapia, broccoli and some leftover pasta with a hefty side order of moaning, groaning, whining and fighting. Is it really possible that I've been home for less than a half hour?! Calgon take me away!
- 7:00 Lollipop bribery works. Dinner is consumed. Things are looking up.
- 7:01. Lollipop bribery breaks down. Fighting over flavors ensues among sticky fingers. Things are looking down. Again.
- 7:10 Highchairs are clean. Kids are not. Lolli's are now in hair. Time to jump ship!
- 7:25 Quick walk with five kids and one large dog. Fresh air does us all a world of good. Rain has stopped. Sun is setting. Kids are smiling. I am too. Life is good.
- 7:45 Back home for the bedtime scramble. There are more bare bottoms than I care to count. Big kids are fighting. Little guys are fighting for potty time. Losers pee on floor. What happened to my so-called life?!
- 7:55 Liam has a tooth ache?! Was it the lollipop? The tooth that fell out? Are too many lollipops causing his teeth to fall out?! Not knowing what to do, I opt for Tylenol. They say it's for aches and pains and my kid has aches and pains. Now, if only those geniuses at the pharma companies could create a cup with measurments I can acutally READ! What's up with that?! Not sure if I gave him two tablespoons or a half of tablespoon. God only knows how I've misdosed them in the middle of the night! Please, big Pharma companies, if you are reading this, FIX THOSE LITTLE CUPS YOU INCLUDE WITH TYLENOL, MOTRIN, ADVIL AND OTHER KIDS MEDS!
- 8:05 Triplets are tucked in; Liam and Ciara are quietly reading in bed. Things are looking up. Again.
- 8:15 "I have poo poo!" "I have POO POO!" So goes the gleeful exclamation of ALL THREE triplets. Why oh why do they pee on the floor and poo in their pants? And where is that Calgon to take me away?!
Monday, May 16, 2011
|Happy little "princess" after some quality time with Dad|
Quality time with your tots need not involve elaborate planning, great expense or even a huge time commitment. I’ve seen the faces of my own little tykes light up like a Christmas tree by suggestions as simple as “who wants to come walk the dog?” or “I’m going out to get milk, anyone want to join me?” or even “I need to move the car – want to go for a ride?” These minor moments offer the opportunity to share some quality time and the kids always appreciate it, even if it’s as simple as a walk to the corner -- which, sadly, on some days, is all our poor dog gets (his one to one time is pretty much gone!).
One day last summer, I took one of the triplets (who was 18 months at the time) with me to get a present for an upcoming birthday party. Truth be told, it was (and still is!) rare that I get one of the triplets out on his own but, it is so gratifying whenever I do that I am committed to doing so more often. On this particular day, as I walked up Main Street with Declan, I couldn’t help but marvel at what a funny little guy he is; I found that there are few things more endearing than the stream of consciousness observations that only a one and a half year old can provide: “Flower. Plane. Bye Bye! Hello! Bug. Bee. BUS! Big bus! Hello! Sky? Moon? HELLO!” And then, when we entered the toy store and he set his eyes upon a stuffed bear the size of his Dad, “Wow! WOW, WOW, WOW!”
The reality is that I enjoy our “alone time” as much as the kids do. My husband Des and I do our best to create quality time out of routine tasks… picking up Friday night take-out has become my daughter’s date night with Dad; all it takes is fifteen minutes and a Shirley temple and my feisty four year old returns a new little lady. We also try to plan a special day out for each our kids – it might be an annual trip to Yankee Stadium for my six year old, a trip to the zoo with my daughter and time will tell what we come up with for the triplets. For now, they are content when their one to one time is a trip to the pediatrician for an ear infection; given how low their standards are, we have nowhere to go but up! Or, perhaps, we have nowhere to go at all… a recent Sunday afternoon with just one little fella in a bubble bath proved to be, well, in his mind, a real splash!
So, if you struggle like I do with finding time to squeeze it all in, just remember that the little things matter most. Your kids will be grateful for any window of time you give them… and, hopefully, your husband, sister, Mom and best friend will realize that for now, they just may have to wait!
Sunday, May 15, 2011
As a follow up to last week's "Tuesday Tips", here are a few quick, easy, kid-friendly meals for the week ahead. This sample weeknight menu consistently gets rave results here in the Lyons Den... hopefully you'll agree that a minimum of whining and maximum of consumption is a rave result! Bon appetit!
· Monday: Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Carrots and onions: I prep it before work, which is quick and easy since I usually chop all the veggies on Sunday. I ask the sitter to pop the one-dish wonder into the oven at 4:00 and by 6:15 we have a crowd-pleasing, healthy meal. Excellent way to start the week!
· Tuesday: Turkey Taco Night! Tuesday’s are often turkey taco night in our house. We’ve even made up a little song… It’s Turkey Taco night, It’s Turkey Taco night, Oh what a great delight, It’s Turkey Taco night! This is a 20 minute meal that’s sure to get smiles. I add frozen corn while I’m cooking the meat to get in some extra veggies and then serve it up in soft tortillas with cheese and sliced grape tomatoes. Muy bueno!
· Wednesday: Quiche with broccoli, asparagus, salad or fresh fruit. This is my cop-out night. I buy store-made quiche, tell the kids it’s “Egg pie”, quickly roast or sauté a veggie and top it off with some fresh fruit. Quick, easy, nutritious and delicious!
· Thursday: Salmon, roasted potatoes and roasted string beans with cherry tomatoes. Are you getting the theme here? “Roasted.” Roasting is my friend and should be yours too. Anything that I can pop in the oven and can cook itself is a winner in my book. Salmon with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper in aluminum foil is a quick, yummy way to go. And, since most fish is tasty this way, just pick something affordable that your family will eat – and remember, frozen fish is ok… in fact, much of the “fresh” stuff you see in fancy places was previously frozen so why not just cut to the chase and save yourself a few bucks? Just remember to defrost it earlier in the week.
Hope a bit of planning helps your week get off to a great start and a strong finish... just like dinnertime does when you prep and plan in advance!
Hope a bit of planning helps your week get off to a great start and a strong finish... just like dinnertime does when you prep and plan in advance!
Friday, May 13, 2011
With a 2 ½ year old triplet boys, potty training is constantly top of mind for a number of reasons. For starters, it will feel like we won the lottery when we stop sending a significant portion of our paycheck to diapers.com each month. Then, of course, there’s the fact that we’d like our boys to be normal functioning members of society and that necessarily requires saying adieu to Pampers and Huggies before they hit the double digits. Ideally, and hopefully, sooner… much sooner!
I don’t have time to read up on the latest do’s and don’ts of potty training -- even with our first two kids, I never got too hung up on all the literature and “rules”. I always figured that our kids would eventually get the hang of it and sure enough, they did. Not without a fair amount of wetting the bed and just about everything else but still, by the time they were about three, Liam and Ciara had fully embraced the glories of the porcelain bowl.
With Kevin, Declan and Cormac, I suspect that our current approach contains more “don’ts” than “do’s” and I’ve decided to share them so you can learn from our mistakes… and perhaps have a chuckle as you think about three bare-bottomed two year-olds vying for one little plastic potty. With that visual to keep you amused, here are a few lessons learned from our recent adventures in potty training…
- I’m pretty sure that when your kid asks to sit on the potty, you should say yes. DO encourage interest in the potty. Do NOT say as I do, “Um, sorry sport, but I just changed your diaper and, for that matter, your brothers' diapers too and I don’t have the time or the money to change all three of you again and lose the next half hour of my life while you hold me hostage in our dirty bathroom.” That feels like a definite DON’T, right?
- DO offer little treats as incentive for potty performance. In our house, little treats are really little – as in one M&M for #1 and two M&Ms for #2. It is amazing what these kids will do for an M&M or two! That said, do NOT expect your toddler to understand deferred gratification – e.g. if your kid poops on the potty at night after brushing his teeth, he will still expect those two M&Ms right away. Telling him that he can have them with breakfast (while admittedly questionable in its own right!) will only lead a nasty tantrum that just might cause a potty training setback. Remember Pavlov’s dog and reward your potty training tyke immediately after that coveted drop or two lands in the potty. Oh, and DO have him wash his hands before administering that treat!
- Consistency is king. I'm sure that a major "DO" is is to put your tot on the pot at routine intervals... first thing in the morning, after breakfast, before the park, before and after lunch, before and after nap, you get the idea. But when you multiply all that on again/off again, PullUp/pull down, diapers on/off times three, well, it's just plain exhausting! And I can't keep up with it. Which is why I know I am committing a major DON'T when I tell my guys to "Just hold it. You can go on the potty later." Really? A two year old is going to hold it? Here's a newsflash. They won't. Trust me.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
People often ask me “how do you do it?” What I think they mean is how do I juggle a full-time job, five kids and a dog and manage to usually (note: not always!) leave the house looking fairly put together and somewhat awake. Part of the answer, of course is a huge cup of coffee every morning. Another significant part of the answer is my husband Des; he holds his own around the house and with the kids and then some. Another element of my so-called success (if that’s what we’re calling leaving the house with lipstick on and my eyes open!), is that I’m really organized. Almost to a fault. But, since people keep asking me “how do you do it?” I’ve decided to devote one post a week to just that. How we do it. Sharing my tips and tactics for surviving (and occasionally thriving) the typical chaos that accompanies five kids six and under. From now on, you can look forward to “Tuesday Tips” which I hope will contain some useful tools and tactics to help you juggle it all… and hopefully only occasionally drop a ball or two, as I admit, I do!
For this inaugural “Tuesday Tips”, let’s tackle weeknight dinners. Our dinners, like our days, tend to be very very good or very very bad. I find there is little middle ground. Either we have a plan and all goes well or we don’t and well, it doesn’t! So, I try to spend some time each Sunday (not a lot, an hour tops!) planning out the menu for the week ahead. I take into account evenings that Des or I may have to work late and nights where baseball, book club or ballet might throw a kink in our system. Then I plan what we’ll eat Monday through Thursday so the guesswork and frantic panic of “what’s for dinner?!” can wait until Friday -- when I’m quite comfortable answering “Pizza!” (which, for the record, may be frozen depending on how the family budget looks that week!) Here are my top tips for you to take away:
- Make your weeknight meal plan on Sunday
- Take stock of what groceries you have and what you might need
- Order what you need online and have it delivered on Monday or Tuesday – while you’re at it, check to see if any staples are on sale and add those to your order too
- Pre-chop anything you can (broccoli, peppers, salad, etc.) and defrost any meats or frozen leftovers (sauces, soups, etc. that you won’t have time to defrost at 6:30 on Wednesday night!)
- Look at the calendar and remind yourself that chicken nuggets are ok for the night that your husband will be out late, Junior has t-ball and you’re hosting book club
- Affirm that you are not a short-order cook. Make one dinner and one dinner only. As my 90-year old Granny still says, “If they don’t like it, they can lump it.” What this means, I think, is tough luck kiddos! Mama’s only making one dinner and if you don’t like it, breakfast is right around the corner. Tough love but it works.
- Keep it simple. Go with the tried and true. When you plan that menu, don’t test new recipes or attempt something time-consuming. Do your experimental/fancy cooking over the weekend when the pressure to get the meal on the table, homework done and lights out by eight isn’t bearing down on you.
That’s it! Does it always work? Yes. Do I always stick to it? No. I’m only human and sometimes I don’t want to spend Sunday afternoon planning the week ahead; I just want to savor the moment. But, when I do follow these tips, we get the opportunity to savor tasty weeknight dinners that are on the table before the sun sets, allowing us the time to enjoy each other’s company rather than racing the clock. And that's time well spent!
Saturday, May 7, 2011
|Me and my awesome mom, who proved that she rules once again this week. Thanks Mom.|
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think “Wow, Moms rule.” It first struck me about a year ago when I attended a local Mothers of Multiples meeting. I really didn’t want to go. In fact, I’ve only made it to a handful of meetings in the past two years; my own hesitance aside, I’m sure that having five kids six and under probably has something to do with my poor attendance record. In any case, I was worn out from a long day at work and the typical chaos of our dinner and bedtime routine. I was wearing old leggings and a crappy t-shirt and would have been more content settling in for the night than driving twenty minutes away to mingle with a group of women who I barely knew and wasn’t sure if I’d have much more in common with than the admittedly bizarre fact that our uteruses (uteri?!) happened to host more than one baby at a time.
But, I figured, as I often do, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, I slapped on some lipstick, threw on a cute pair of flats (courtesy of my sister, as with most cute things I own!), tossed on a sweater and headed out the door. And boy, am I ever glad I did. After just a few short hours with a bunch of women I hardly knew, my faith was affirmed once again: Moms Rule.
Not just those “Moms of Multiples” who I had the pleasure of spending that evening with, but all Moms. We are united by far more than our expanding and contracting uteruses – or, for that matter, by our saggy boobs, baggy bellies and bags under our eyes. We are united in that we truly tend to be warm, welcoming people – whether it’s a knowing smile to a nervous expectant Mom or a reassuring hug before the school bus comes, we are wired to make those around us feel better. To feel confident. To know they can tackle the task at hand – whether it’s surviving the first year with a newborn (or two, or three!) or surviving the first day of school, we support everyone around us. We tend to be funny and real and often, the combination of the two is when we’re at our best.
We are the consummate multi-taskers – we buy groceries, cook meals, clean houses, change diapers, plan parties, organize play dates, pay bills, upload photos, plan vacations, write thank you notes and remember the in-law’s birthdays. We help with homework, do the laundry, kiss the boo-boos, cheer at soccer games, drive to ballet class and return library books. We wrap Christmas presents, make lunches, pack snacks, hand over hand-me-downs, organize closets, make doctor’s appointments, walk the dog, feed the cat, replace the goldfish, water the plants and have been known to sport spit-up, snot or both as an accessory.
We pride ourselves and artfully juggle our roles as mothers, daughters, friends, sisters, neighbors and colleagues. We support each other, laugh together, cry together, bitch together and intuitively pick each other up just when we need it most. We do all this for one – or two, or three or four, or in my case, five reasons. We do all this because we love the little people that our oversized uterus delivered into this world; we do all this because we want them to have a happy childhood and we want the world they grow up in to be a better place. We want to inspire our children to make it a greater place. And we’re wise enough to know that we can’t do it alone. We need the help and support of other Moms and thankfully, we find that they are there for us just when we need them most. Just like our own Moms always were. And thankfully, mine still is. So, if you haven’t done so recently, take a moment to pass this on to the many Moms in your life and remind them of this simple truth: Moms Rule. Happy Mother’s Day.