Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Dance, Grill, Love

For this week's tip, I don't have a cohesive theme but rather, a hodge podge of insights and lessons learned from the last week in the Lyons Den. I hope you find them helpful and if not, well, at the very least, I hope you will be amused!
  • You know that old saying "Dance like no one is watching."  Well, on Saturday night, I did.  And I have to say, I had a blast.  For better or worse, most of my small town was watching since I chose the annual school fundraiser as my venue to "Busta Move."  You know what though? It was great fun. I'd like to dance more often.  Although, I admit it might be better for all involved if no one was watching! 
  • There's a reason they sell salty and sweet together at the movies.  Friday night was movie night at our elementary school.  We went for it and got the kids popcorn AND Swedish fish.  When our little lady started moaning that she had popcorn kernels stuck in her teeth, we suggested chewing on a Swedish fish to solve the problem.  And it did. Who needs dental floss?!
  • I'm an avid fan of Real Simple and enjoy their column on new uses for old things.  I've enthusiastically adopted their suggestion to use an old tissue box to hold plastic baggies.  I know plastic bags are totally yesterday but, we use them to pick up copious amounts of dog poop so I somehow feel ok when I ask for plastic at the grocery store check-out.  This is not my point though. My point is about baking soda; it's not just for baking anymore! If you have a tot of potty training age and find that your house and even your washing machine stink of urine, baking soda will be your new best friend.  Sprinkle it on the rug before you vacuum and in the machine before washing those training pants for the umpteenth time. I swear, it works. Times three.
  • Order your groceries online. I usually do but the past few weeks have been so hectic that I've fallen out of the routine. As a result, we've spent several Sundays grocery shopping. Not fun.  From now on, I'm going back to my original plan and letting my fingers do the walking while my rear rests on the couch!
  • Cook for a crowd and reap the rewards of leftovers. This can be hard to do for a family of seven but last week, we aced it.  On Sunday night, we make flank steaks and sausage on the grill and while it made for a super Sunday supper, it was even better the next few nights as we enjoyed steak sandwiches, steak salad and pasta with sausage... yum!  
  • Use the grill in the winter. See above.  This week we plan to add grilled chicken to the rotation... this can be easily turned into chicken fajitas, chicken and pasta, chicken and broccoli, any number of kid-pleasing, quick weeknight options!
  • Make the time for the things that matter most. As you may have gathered, the new year is off to a galloping start. My job is busier than ever, my kids are busier than ever, I have great aspirations to be more active in our community, to lead a Girl Scout troop, to write more frequently and run another half marathon.  Then a few things happened last week -- our close friend and dear neighbor passed away and my best friend and only sister moved back to San Francisco with her family.  What do these things have in common?  They are bold reminders that no matter how busy your calendar or lofty your to-do list, you must put the people you love in life first. And, that my friends, I think is the best tip of all... on Tuesday or any other day of the week!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Sisters

The O'Connor Sisters, circa 1979

My sister and I have a storied past.  I was five years old when she was born and quite accustomed to my spot as queen of the roost. I was the first child, first grandchild and a first class brat by the time she was born in June of 1976. I hated her.  All I knew about babies being born is that they were "delivered."  So, for the latter part of 1976, every time we passed a mailbox, I asked if we could send her back.  Back to wherever she came from before she arrived on the scene, all precious and cute and attracting all sorts of attention that had previously been devoted to me, me, ME!

I tortured her for years.  I set her up time and again in ways that were at times mischievous, cruel or downright dangerous.  A few examples include the time I painted her and the bathroom in Bain de Soleil (remember that greasy orange "gelee" that turned your skin to a crisp?!) and then washed my hands, called my Mom and blamed her for the mess; or the time I took her out of the crib and perched her at the top of the stairs.  Or the time I poured all my Bonnie Bell eau de toilette right down the "toilette" and then started crying and blamed her for the tragedy of it all. Kind of crazy, right?  I really didn't like her.

I spent much of grammar school dragging her around by her pigtails -- and then I went to junior high, left her behind and never looked back.  When I left for college, she was in the throes of her Beverly Hills 90210 obsession and a true loser in my book.  But then, somewhere along the way, things changed.  I think it was when I went to visit during her freshmen or sophomore year at Boston College.  We tailgated before a football game and all of sudden, my baby sister was no longer a baby.  No longer a loser.  In fact, she seemed more and more like me.  In fact, she even looked more and more like me as we were both featuring the fashion of the day --  a flannel shirt complimented by the "freshman fifteen."

With the passing of years, we had more shared experiences and of course, the collective memories that only siblings can share.  We offered each other advice on jobs, boys, New York nightlife and life in general.  Somewhere along the way, she became more than my sister, she became my best friend. She was my maid-of-honor and several years later, I was hers.   She babysat for my firstborn and my second as well.  She told me she was moving to San Francisco the week I discovered I was pregnant with triplets.  I was devastated.  I didn't know how I'd get through the juggle of a high-risk pregnancy with two toddlers and a career without her constantly by my side.  But I did.  And for three years, we kept close despite the miles as I counted the days until her return to the East Coast.

She came back in September, with her husband and two year old fella by her side and a baby in her belly.  This time, I got to be by her side the day Maeve was born in November.  I was thrilled.  My sister was back.  I was an Auntie once again and we were all going to live happily ever after.  

Except for one little detail.  My sister wasn't happy to be back in New York; as it turns out, she left her heart in San Francisco.  And as it turns out, she is there once again.  This week, she and her family packed up and moved back to the place she now calls home.  A place that is 3,000 miles away.  A place she went once before and I believed would temporary.  As it turns out, I was wrong.  How is it that when this tiny little person arrived on the scene in 1976, I would have given anything to "send her back" and now she occupies such a huge part of my heart that I'd give anything to have her back.  If I had to do it all over again, maybe I'd lay off the Bain de Soleil.  Or better yet, I'd stick her back in that crib so I could keep her close to home forever.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tip: The ultimate baby checklist: things you REALLY need

As a follow up to last week's post about the superfluous items a newborn can live without, here are a few things that you and your little one really do need:
  • Coffee.  It may seem odd that this tops the list and if you're not a coffee drinker, well, after having a newborn, you may be!  Either way, I'd suggest stocking up on coffee beans, coffee filters and whatever you use to create the perfect cuppa -- milk, cream, sugar, etc.  As you may have heard, newborns often get their days and nights mixed up. What you may not realize is with a baby in the house, you might too.  This is why coffee is at the top of the list.
  • Absorbency items.  "Absorbency items. Now what's that?" you may be wondering.  Well, wonder no more and brace yourself because this ain't pretty. I'm sure it's occurred to you that your wee one will be routinely weeing in his or her diaper.  So, if you haven't already, stock up on diapers.  A word of caution though -- don't buy a year's supply of those cute little newborn ones that would fit a doll; assuming all goes according to plan, your baby's bottom will outgrow them in no time at all. When that time comes,  don't rush out to buy more, log on to Diapers.com and let them deliver right to your door!  As for the rest of the absorbency items, well, they are for you.  Let's just say that after childbirth, you may need a diaper of your own. In fact, I had a coworker who told me to stock up on Depends -- which I didn't because frankly, I just couldn't go there.  But, the traditional maxi-pad will be your pal those first few weeks home and, just when you thought it couldn't get worse, your breasts will start leaking.  Never fear though, they have a product for that too -- breast pads.  Also available at diapers.com and quite handy for those awkward, leaky moments!
  • The get up and go basics.  For the first few days (possibly even weeks), the notion of leaving the house will be daunting.  And packing your peanut up for an hour or a day (or for that matter, a weekend!), pretty much requires the same amount of stuff.  And lots of it.  But, the moment will come when you realize you must leave the house or you will go insane.  Ideally this moment arrives at a lucid, caffeinated point in time when your days and nights are no longer mixed up.  And then you will need a few things so you can hit the road in safety and style:
    • A car seat -- this one is required by law and most hospitals won't let you go home without it so, unless you plan to leave your bundle in the nursery for a late check-out, this should be at the top of your list. After coffee.
    • A stroller -- possibly the Snap n' Go which, as the name suggests, makes it very easy to just snap in the car seat and go.  Highly recommended for those first few months, especially if you will be in and out of the car a lot.  Of note, this stroller is not good for rugged terrain so if off-roading is more your style, you'll want something with bigger, better wheels to ensure a smooth ride for your little bundle -- my sister swears by the Bob stroller and I trust her opinion on virtually everything so, this is a great option if you plan to head for the hills vs. pounding the pavement in the concrete jungle.
    • A diaper bag -- really, any bag will do, it's what in it that counts:
      • Diapers (and other absorbency items, as noted above!)
      • Wipes
      • Change of clothes (you never know when an unexpected "ass-plosion" will strike; if you don't know what I'm talking about, you will the day your sweet angel blasts yellow poop out the back and sides of her precious onesie.)
      • Purell -- for obvious reasons. See above.
      • Don't forget the things you used to need -- and still do!  Wallet, cell phone, keys, lip balm, water bottle, etc. The postpartum "Mommy Brain" is prone to forgetfulness so, it's worth pointing out that you still need a few things just for you!
I'd like to think that I offer a certain Lyons Den sensibility with these suggestions but, there's no denying you need a more comprehensive checklist for your bundle-to-be, like this one from Parents.com or this one from  Real Simple.

Be forewarned, these all-inclusive lists can be overwhelming and should be approached with caution and common sense -- they will include things like a Diaper Genie, which I swear you don't need but, suspect our local sanitation workers would recommend after several years of picking up our trash with dozens of dirty diapers!  In any case, you'll find that one of the perks of parenthood is a new-found set of instincts -- an internal barometer that guides you through the sleepy days and sleepless nights, encouraging you to listen to the voice within and not be swayed by all the well-wishing wisdom-slingers you will encounter along the way.  Make sure this inner voice is heard as you navigate the newborn checklist; if you do, you will have exactly what you need and none of the things that you don't!

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    The Battlecry of the Lyons Den: Read Kiddo Read!

    Now that my oldest is seven, I frequently find myself engaging in the Battle of the Books.  Sometimes it’s Books vs. Screen Time and others it’s Wimpy Kid vs. more substantive reads.  As for me, I’ve always loved reading.  I have such fond memories of the summer book club at our library while I was growing up.  One year the theme was “The Wizard of Oz” and for each book you read, you got a piece for a mobile that naturally included the yellow brick road, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy and those amazing red shoes. By the end of August, it was complete -- a construction paper homage to my summer reading accomplishments; I was so proud of it that it hung in my room until the colors faded and the next summer rolled around. 
    I devoured books that summer and many more; in fact, I still do.  And I want my children to share my passion for reading.  With so many competing forces though, (the Wii, the DS, the homework, the four noisy younger siblings that my seven year old has!), it’s not always easy.  That’s why I just signed up for Read Kiddo Read and suggest you do too.   
    You get lots of goodies for signing up for a four book subscription -- including a t-shirt, a surprise book or two and, what I think is the ultimate goodie – the opportunity to engender a love of reading and share new books with your kids.  As an added bonus, the first 16 Lyon Den subscribers will also get a free James Patterson book – either The Dangerous Days of Daniel X... 
    Or, Maximum Ride - Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports:
    You’re budding reader will  also have the chance to vote for his or her favorite books -- what kid doesn't like to be involved in picking a winner?!
    Now, hurry up, sign up and start reading… the voting for best books ends on February 15th… just after Valentine’s Day, which is nice way of summing up how I feel about all this.  In a nutshell, I Heart Books! 
    Here are few more of the details and, as you may have noticed if you're a regular Lyons Den reader, I don't often promote products or offer giveaways but this is one that I think is truly worthwhile and, hope you will agree!
    ReadKiddoRead subscriptions are available from ReadKiddoRead for $14.99 per week or month. Once each week (or month) your child will receive a new book chosen specifically for him or her based on reading level and individual interests from the recommended book list at ReadKiddoRead. Enter this code (RKRTSHIRT) when you check out to get your t-shirt and extra goodies and don't forget to get your kids involved and let their voices be heard when they (and you) vote for their favorite books. View the Kiddo Award nominees for this year at http://www.readkiddoread.com/uploads/kiddos2012.php and vote for the ones your kids just can’t put down!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Tuesday Tip: The ultimate baby checklist: things you DON'T need

    When I found out I was pregnant with Liam, I panicked. I was clueless.  I was good at taking care of our dog, but a baby?! I had no idea what to do with a baby.  So, I did what any neurotic, Type A, first-time mom would do; I bought every book I could, signed up for babycenter emails and started making lists... a list of things to do in our apartment, a list of general things to do before the baby was born, a list of foods to avoid and, of course, the inevitable new baby checklist -- that comprehensive overview of everything you need to bring a new little life into this world, neatly organized by category and frightfully long.

    If you walk into Buy Buy Baby or any other baby "super store,"  you will find yourself believing you need everything on that super-sized registry list.  I am here to tell you that you don't.  Sure, you'll naturally get swept up in the frenzy of it all but believe me when I tell you that your bundle of joy will survive without a wipe warmer and if you really want to know, we survived five newborns, including triplets, without a Diaper Genie.  Here are a few other things that should be on your list of things you don't need...

    • Dreft.  Never heard of it, no worries, you don't need it!  Dreft is the overpriced baby detergent that I washed all of Liam's onesie's in until the day I discovered it was totally unnecessary -- it turns out that any brand free of scents and dyes will do the trick just fine.  A few good suggestions?  Seventh Generation or, for a more affordable option, All Free Clear
    • Shopping Cart/Highchair covers.  Repeat after me: I don't need this. I don't need this.  I'm no expert but, I do have five kids seven and under and we do get out a fair bit.  To places filled with germs and dirt -- places like Costco and restaurants.  My kids have sampled lots of local flavors and not just the ones on their plates.  They have sucked on shopping carts and licked nasty highchairs.  And, we all lived to tell about it.  Not proudly of course but really, save your pennies and spend them on a yummy meal out instead.
    • Anything with snaps or a zipper in the back.  This might apply to an adorable outfit, snuggly snow suit or some irresistably soft newborn pjs.  Do yourself a favor though and just say no -- you can find something just as cute with an easy front-entry that will save you -- and your baby -- a lot of unnecessary tears. 
    • Pants. This sounds strange, right? Why won't your kid need pants?!  Here's the deal:  your kid will, your newborn won't.  Want to know why? Because pants are a nuisance to put on and they require the addition of socks, which are also a nuisance to put on -- and will very likely be kicked off before you can blink an eye!  So skip the pants and go for those cozy onesies while you can!
    • A video monitor.  When Liam was born, we lived in a 700 square foot apartment -- and I'm pretty sure that's a generous recollection.  We fell victim to the registry checklist and got a baby monitor even though you could hear someone peeing from the kitchen and a sneeze could be heard in the hallway.  We did not need that monitor and we didn't need a video monitor either.  Think about it. If you're lucky, you might sleep for three hours at a time in the first few weeks and possibly work your way up to five or six hours in the first few months.  If you have some downtime to call your own, do you really want to spend it watching your wee one sleep?  Have a little faith, let them snooze and catch up on some TV if you really feel like watching something!
    For all the things you don't need, there's plenty that you do and I'll plan to cover them in next Tuesday's Tip.  As a sneak preview, you can't have too many burp cloths and bibs... I suppose this was especially true for me since I had triplets the last time around but, as a general rule, more is better in these areas... and, those burp cloths will make nice dust rags when the spit up days are behind you... and they will be behind you before you know it! 

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    A 3 day weekend with 5 tots 7 & under

    Tomorrow is a national holiday and I for one am thrilled.  For starters, our five and seven year old actually seem to understand a bit about Martin Luther King and the importance of his role in our society; to see these little people we created start to have some cognizance of the world around them is really pretty cool. Beyond that, like many folks, I'm glad for a day off of work and time to spend with my family.  Although, truth be told, we're only two days in to this three day weekend and I have to say, I'm more tired -- and more broke! -- than ever.

    Here's a quick rundown of the events of the past 48 hours...
    • Breakfast, breakfast and more breakfast.  Yesterday there was an appetizer course of two boxes of cereal followed by a main course of about a dozen eggs and six bagels, washed down with a half gallon of juice and almost as much milk. What did I get out of the deal?  Coffee and a lot of dirty dishes.  Thank God for coffee!  Today's breakfast was pretty much a repeat, but the eggs and bagels were replaced by dozens of pancakes.  Good news though, I got one before they were gone!  Score one for Mom!
    • Costco & Wine.  Our cupboards -- and wine supply -- hit an all-time low this weekend.  So yesterday, my dear hubby took two tykes to the wine store while I took three to Costco.  I didn't realize what a bad deal I got until two of the triplets started crying that the clementines I loaded on top of them were too heavy and I realized I could no longer see my five year old, Ciara, over the top of the cart.  For all I knew, she could have been lingering near the lady giving out PopChips but thankfully, she was still hanging off the end of the cart, doing her best to keep a month's worth of snacks from falling overboard.  Things got worse when I had to navigate the parking lot with a cart that weighed more than I did, three howling kids and gale force winds that were decidedly not at my back.  The upside? An ample supply of wine awaited at home. The downside? A massive dent in our bank account, a back that still aches, four broken nails, a case of possible frostbite and, to add insult to injury, the fact that I arrived home without any milk or paper towels.  And had to go to the grocery store today. Grrrr.
    • Accidents.  The triplets, who turned three in October, have been doing pretty well with potty training.  They flaunt their big boy underwear and will show them off whether invited to or not. They are generous in the sharing of their undergarments and the morning chatter often includes things like "Hey KooKoo, wanna wear my Spiderman underwear today?" "Ok MacMac, you can have my red boxers!" I assure you I never thought I'd have a band of brothers swapping skivvies -- just as I never thought my house would be a urinal.  As good as these little fellas are, when they are tired, they get a bit lazy.  So lazy in fact that they forget to go to the potty and free willy -- and all of willy's contents -- wherever they may be. So far this weekend, that has been on the couch, under the table and ON OUR BED! Not good.  Especially since the caffeine has worn off, the wine at this point is unappealing and the reality of several more loads of laundry seems especially daunting given my aching back! 
    Looking ahead to tomorrow, the day that we honor this amazing man who had a dream, I realize I have a dream too -- it is nowhere near as noble and is admittedly self serving.  By comparison, it's a downright selfish, small little dream but I bet it's a dream I share with many busy, juggling moms; I dream of a night of uninterrupted sleep that lasts for at least eight hours; I dream of the day the kids will bring me breakfast... or at least share a bit more of theirs; I dream of the day I'm not scrubbing urine, snot, and other bodily fluids out of clothes, furniture and rugs; and, I dream that when those days arrive, I will look back on these days fondly.  Because as long as each day can be, the years most certainly fly by far too fast.  And, aching, tired bod and all, I am so psyched for one more day to play with our little clan. And, when I get to work on Tuesday, I will be grateful for a yogurt to call my own and a chair to sit down on!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Tuesday Tip: A Dose of "Granny Wisdom"

    Note: this is NOT my Granny, although the "I told you so" look is recognizable!
    After spending some quality time with my grandparents last weekend, I realized that there's a bit of what I like to call "Granny Wisdom" I'd like to share with you for this Tuesday's tip.  While we're talking about my Granny, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers today as she undergoes heart surgery... Granny, if you happen to read this, I "heart" you! Now, onto those priceless nuggets...

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  This little gem is one I keep bucking at but really need to take to, well, heart!  For starters, consider our three 3-year olds, who are still in cribs. My husband and I have a healthy debate about when to move them to beds.  People have commented (more than once) "They still fit in cribs?!" But, here's the thing, they are HAPPY in their cribs.  Why take three happily contained tots and set them free to wreak havoc around the house -- morning, noon and night?! The solution? Don't. Leave them in the crib!

    Another recent relevant example is our minivan.  The lease was up in December and in the midst of end of year mayhem at work, holiday mayhem at home and the typical chaos of our crazy lives, we decided to spend some time car shopping.  We seriously spent hours attempting to jam our family of seven (and 90-lb dog!) into a Ford Flex, Honda Pilot and several other mid-size cars.  You know what we ended up getting? Yep. Another mini-van.  The moral of the story?  Stick with what works and you'll save yourself a lot of time and headaches!

    Tissues are like Amex -- don't leave home without them! Ever. You know what's neat about Granny?  She can be dressed to the nines -- silk blouse, sparkling jewels, pretty flats and a matching handbag and you know what's stuffed up that silk sleeve?  Tissues!  And you know who didn't have any on Sunday while several tots battled a winter cold? Me.  And you know who came to the rescue?  Granny! This is an easy one.  Keep tissues everywhere -- in your car, your bag, heck, even your sleeve!  If you don't, you'll end up as my kids often do -- using their sleeve (or worse yet, mine!) AS a tissue. Ew. Don't do this.  Buy stock in Kleenex and stock up for the season!

    Say yes to treats.  So, there we were in church on Sunday.  It was me, my 90-year old grandparents (ok, Granny will be 90 in April but close enough!) and the triplets, who were behaving quite nicely.  Not a peep out of them.  I really wished that Des and the other kids were there to witness this angelic behavior but they were busy with another obligation. Suddenly I noticed a minty scent and upon closer inspection, realized that all three little fellas were happily sucking a way on a Lifesaver.  Granny had slipped them a sweet right under my nose... which couldn't help but notice the pleasant scent of peppermint wafting through the aisles.  She gave me a wink and mouthed "Why not?"  Why not indeed?

    Some other tried and true Granny tips:
    • Once your tot is off the bottle and into a sippy cup of milk, save it for the END of the meal.  That way they will eat the real food when they are actually hungry rather than being force fed when they're not.
    • Speaking of which, don't force feed your kids.  I learned this lesson the hard way when I got a pile of regurgitated string beans in my lap.  They may not say it with words but trust me (and Granny), your kids know when to say when and it's up to you to pick up on their cues.
    • Teach your kids their "Ps and Qs" (please and thank yous!)  at an early age. Really early. Before they can even talk.  Manners matter and it's never too early to start.
    I'm not sure what other tricks my Granny has up her sleeve but, after raising six kids (five boys and one girl!), I know she has must have more. I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will share them with me when she's out of the hospital and back home where she belongs. And if she does, I will share them with you.  After all, that would only be polite. :)

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Silly Nicknames for kids: endearing, damaging or totally insane?

    Do you have nicknames for your kids?  We do.  Lots of 'em.  So many that I fear they may be causing some issues with our identical triplet boys.  But, to be fair, let me start at the beginning. 

    When Liam, now seven, was born, he was a real snuggle bug.  It was the winter of 2004/5 and during those long, cold, dark months, he spent a lot of time snuggling in and scootching up my shoulder in that way only a newborn can.  You know about schootching, right?  It's that wiggly way babies nuzzle in, up and over your shoulder; it's really quite pleasant to experience, especially when the wind is howling and the temperature is falling.  This sweet baby maneuver earned Liam the nickname of "Scootie" in addition to an original little ditty we'd sing to him that went something like this: "Ooh, ooh, Scootie, ooh Scootie-Loo.  Ooh ooh Scootie.  Ooh Ooh, we love you!"  Sleep deprivation can do strange things to you and this was definitely one of ours.  I'm sure Liam is grateful to have outgrown the Scootie nickname but, the standard was set and his four other siblings are now suffering the consequences. 

    For Ciara, it's not that bad.  When she was first born, we called her "Bitsy" because she seemed so itsy-bitsy compared to her big brother Liam, who was almost two at the time.  As the months passed, she turned into "Little Bitsy Burps A Lot" because, well, she burped a lot and it sounded like a cute doll name and she seemed like a cute little doll.  When she started to talk, she couldn't say "Ciara" and it came out like this "Ciaga" -- pronounced like this: "Key-Ga." Somehow, that one stuck.  We all call her Ciaga.  Which has line extensions including: Ciaga-Loo, C.Loo, Lucy Loo, and LuLuLemon.  Don't ask.  It just happened.  Sleep deprivation still reigns supreme. The bad news is that as this five year old hops on the bus and heads to kindergarten, we are waving good-bye to our sweet Ciaga-Loo.  The good news is that the kids at school all call her Ciara; she can say it, spell it and knows without a shadow of a doubt that Mom and Dad's silly nicknames stay at home.

    Unfortunately, the same can not be said of our identical triplets who, at three years old seem to already have some identity issues brewing.  We consistently dress Kevin, Declan and Cormac in red, blue and green to help folks tell them apart; this backfired rather dramatically when Declan started to tell people his name is "Blue" .  You would think given the challenges that these guys face, walking around town with identical little faces, we would stay true to the names we gave them.  But alas, that is not the case.  I find nicknames just too irresistible and as such, Kevin has become KooKoo Bear, Declan is Duckling and Cormac is MacMac.  But wait, it doesn't end there, there's more!  

    For Kevin, KooKoo Bear has several iterations, our favorite of which includes pretending to page him, like those announcements you hear in the airport.  "Mr. Bear?  Is there a Mr. Koo Koo Bear in the house?"  He thinks it's hilarious and so do we.  Our little Duckling (formerly known as "Blue") tends to take things relatively in stride, including the occasions when we quack at him, assuming that he must speak Duck. For the record, he does not and seems to find our antics and quacking less amusing by the day.  Last but not least, there is MacMac.  He was born last and came into the world as "Baby Mac."  Not to be outdone by his identical siblings, he was a chow hound from day one and clearly committed to becoming "Big Mac" on the fast track... which of course led us to all sorts of fun including the occasional "Mac Snack Attack", "Mac & Cheese" and the final grand evolution to "Macaroni" which, of course, culminated in our admittedly absurd paging game: "Mr. Roni?  Is there a Mr. Mac A. Roni in the house?"

    Is it sleep deprivation? Are we insane? Do all parents have numerous strange nicknames for their kids?  I don't know.  All I know is that yesterday, Kevin came home from preschool with some “artwork” that said "KooKoo" on the back.  Apparently the teacher tried to write "Kevin" and he indignantly insisted "my name is NOT Kevin.  I am Koo Koo Bear!"  Um, Houston, I think we have a problem.  I hope it's one he outgrows.  But if not, I beg you not to make fun of my Koo Koo Bear.  If you do, prepare for the wrath of his loyal back-up unit because if there's one thing I can say about Scootie, Ciaga, Duckling and MacMac and KooKoo, it's that they stick up for each other... which, I suppose, is at least one thing we’ve gotten right in this hazardous, sleep deprived world of parenting!

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Tuesday Tip: Spring Cleaning in January

    Today it's back to school, back to work, back to reality.  We had a fantastic week full of fun between Christmas and New Year's; we had enough downtime to play with the puzzles and games that Santa so kindly delivered and enough energy to take on a local hike, a trip to the city and a New Year's Eve visit to the Bronx Zoo.  Our week was both busy and relaxing... well, as relaxing as life can be with five kids seven and under.  It was so nice to have a break from the daily stresses of work, school, homework and schedules.  And, in the midst of it all, we found time to get organized and ready for the year ahead.  How?  By starting our spring cleaning in January -- which is a great way to not only clear out your cabinets, but clear your mind for the year ahead.  Here's how we did it.

    1. Bathroom and linen closet:  One day, while the triplets were in the tub and the other two were busy playing with Christmas presents, I aggressively attacked our medicine cabinet and linen closet.  Out with the old, in with the new.  Out went the expired (and possibly recalled!) bottles of Infant Tylenol and tubes of Neosporin. Out went the old prescriptions -- including some leftover painkillers from when I had the triplets in 2008... if I haven't succumbed to them by now, I think it's safe to say I don't need them! Unfortunately, in my haste, I also threw out one of my husband's current prescriptions but, that's a minor price to pay for the newly cleaned and streamlined shelves.  Next item on the agenda: a visit to drugstore.com for some replacements!
    2. Kitchen Cabinets:  I was very lucky to receive a slow cooker for Christmas.  I imagine that this magical device will somehow solve my ongoing dinner dilemmas... and if it does, I promise to share the magic with you!  In the meantime, this hefty new appliance needed a shelf to call home and that precipitated a whirlwind overhaul of our kitchen cabinets.  Out went about 50 bibs.  (I swear we used them all, sometimes in the span of one day;  teething, drooling triplets go through a LOT of bibs!). Out went sippy cups and tupperware with missing lids.  Out went random napkins and forks from takeout dinners in addition to broken crayons, dried up markers and playdough and used up sticker books.  Yes, all of these things were in our kitchen cabinets.  And now they are not.  So, my slow cooker now has a place to call home, I know where everything is and, the kids have a newly organized arts & crafts cabinet where coloring books and crayons live in harmony, rather than battling the salad spinner as they were before.
    3. Toys and Bookshelves.  During the fall, it seems like Toys R Us opens a satellite store here in the Lyons Den.  All five kids have birthdays in October and November and the presents really peak in December, with the arrival of Christmas and Santa's annual bounty.  Try as we might to keep things to a minimum, there's still an influx of stuff -- books, toys and puzzles that the kids naturally love but we really don't have the space for.  That's why I also attacked our bookshelves and toy chests to cull the clutter and make room for the shiny new things.  I enlisted the kids in this task, encouraging them to part ways with the things they've outgrown and create piles -- books for the school's used book sale, toys for a local charity and a big trash bag for the motley collection of trucks without wheels, puzzles without pieces, etc.
    In all, it was a monster task but, if you bite it off in little pieces - one room at a time --  it can be done.  And I have to say, there is considerable peace of mind that comes with a newly organized linen closet, kitchen and toy chests.  It is my hope that this peace of mind will ease my reentry to the chaos of our busy lives and ideally, bring peace and joy all the year through... or, at least until Spring when we will undoubtedly need to do it again!