Sunday, April 29, 2012

Girls Weekend: Good for Heart & Soul... and laughs

This weekend I’m going away with three of my best girlfriends.  We are celebrating the fact that forty is upon us and an amazing friendship still exists between us.  Rather than rue the day we turned 40, we are relishing the excuse to get away, to catch up and reconnect.  We will travel from New York, New Jersey, Boston and Atlanta for 72 hours in Florida where we will surely laugh a lot, possibly cry a little and most certainly realize how lucky we are for the friendship we have.  As I embark on this journey, I can’t help but recall my musings of a brief girls getaway last year – 36 hours in Newport with a different group of gal pals which reminded me that…
  1. 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. 
  2. 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 have gained the wisdom of years and a newfound confidence that perhaps was missing in your younger days.  Perhaps you've advanced your career or 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.
  3. 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 daily responsibilities grow?  The days may be long but the years go by quickly; enduring friendships are a great way to commiserate about the challenges you face now -- and the ones you faced before and now can laugh about -- which leads me to...
  4. Girlfriends are great to laugh with.  And be silly with.  And just be yourself with.  They accept you for who you really are and love you for the person you are today -- even as they laugh aloud 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.
  5. A getaway with girlfriends is like a "get out of jail free card."  I don't mean to imply that the “Lyons Den” or motherhood in general is a jail but rather, that a brief getaway provides joy-filled freedom to have a break from it all – all the laundry, all the cooking, all the cleaning up and all the obligations of our busy, grown up lives. 
I truly believe that girlfriends, and girl’s weekends, are good for the soul.  In a brief exchange with one of my pals on the way to the airport, I mentioned that I forgot to pack sunblock.  Without hesitation she responded, “I’ve got you covered.” I had to smile as I responded, “You always have.”  After all, that’s what friends are for.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Bringing Sexy Back

We have five children. The oldest is seven.  Clearly, we’ve had a fair amount of sex – although, perhaps not quite as much as you’d suspect given that A. I’m pretty much Fertile Myrtle and B. our last three came as a package deal. When identical triplets were revealed on an early sonogram, I nearly fell off the table.  And pretty much swore to never have sex again.

As they say, “never say never” but it took me a really long time to “get my sexy back.”  Truth be told, I’m not 100% sure it is back.  Or that I ever really had it at all.  I have curly hair, freckly skin and a big smile.  On a good day, I might be cute.  But sexy?  I’m not so sure.  Sexy women usually have sleek hair, smooth skin and a sultry stare.  Or maybe that’s just what the media would have us believe.  Maybe sexy really does come in all shapes and sizes.  And maybe, just maybe, cute is my kind of sexy. 

Knowing as I do from a whole lot of candid girl-talk, I’m not the only one who has struggled to “get my sexy back” after having children so, having been inspired by the good folks at ParentsConnect and, in the spirit of sharing, here are a few things that actually do make me feel sexy – in a confident, sassy, cute kind of a way.  And, a few that most definitely don’t.

·      Exercise.  If you ask me, looking good is all about feeling good and feeling good – physically and emotionally – is all about exercise.  If I feel fit and trim, I feel great, inside and out.  And if I’m feeling great, there’s a much better chance that I’ll be interested in getting some sexy on.  Let’s face it, no one feels good putting on their “Mom jeans”; we all have those days when nothing else will fit but, if you ask me, a good run or challenging yoga class is the perfect start to getting your sexy back and putting your Mom jeans away. Forever.
·      Shave your legs.  Frankly, nothing kills the mood more than your leg hair entangled with his. Need I say more?  I didn’t think so but, since I’m prone to ramble, I will add that moisturizer is a plus and, lest I put too fine a point on it, stubble is a real buzz kill in the sexy lane.
·      Wear nice underwear.  And be comfortable in it.  I had my days in thongs. Those days are gone.  Today a thong doesn’t make me feel sexy; it makes me feel fat and like I have a wedgie.  Push up bras don’t work either; they are an awkward, uncomfortable reminder that I have nothing to push up!  The moral of this underwear tale? Find what works for you -- what makes you feel good, comfortable, confident and yes, perhaps even sexy.  And then buy it, wear it and flaunt it.  While you're at it, throw away those super-sized granny panties you bought when you were pregnant. You’ll be glad you did.
·      Drink wine.  Ok, this may not be for everyone but it works for me.  One glass of wine relieves the tension of the day and creates possibilities for the night.  Of note, beer does not have the same effect for me; beer equals bloat and bloat tends to lead to the bathroom, not the bedroom. For the record, most cocktails are a no-go for me too.  Sure they are yummy but just one seductively delicious Cosmo and I am one drunk skunk.  Not so sexy. 
·      Sleep.  Being well rested is probably the ultimate tip for getting your sexy back… and, daily proof that I’m not quite there yet!  Many moms operate in a state of sleep deprivation for months, if not years.  Given the choice, I suspect many would choose sleep over sex in a heartbeat. Sleep is all powerful and, once you get enough of it, you will be too.  And that my friends is very sexy indeed. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Nields "Full Catastrophe" is parenting set to music. In a good way.

Love this album cover... just add three more pairs of tiny tot shoes and it could be the Lyons Den!
This week I am feeling lucky once again thanks to a sneak preview of The Nield’s new album, The Full Catastrophe.  The thirteen songs swing from soulful ballads to upbeat, catchy tunes as The Nield’s, led by the powerful vocals of Nerissa and Katryna, share the trials and tribulations of motherhood and parenting in general.  Listening to this album is like having your favorite mommy blogs set to music – great music with a hint of folk, a smidge of country twang and a whole lot of honesty in lyrics you can’t help but sing along to.

I have to say, they had me at song one.  “Ten Year Tin” hits close to home since my husband and I will celebrate our ten year anniversary this October.  There are parts of this song that I – and in fact, most of us – might have written ourselves… “Things do not always go according to our plans” for instance or “We’ll save up for a trip across the sea; leave the kids, it’ll be just you and me.”  Isn’t that we all think on the day we say “I do”?  We think we’ve got it all figured out; we think, as the title track notes, “When I met you, I thought the journey was over.”  But, as we all know in retrospect, the journey had only just begun – and, there is nothing like motherhood to remind you that things often don’t go according to plan! 

Our plan was to have two or three kids; we ended up with five thanks to #3 arriving as a trio of identical little fellas who will forever be our babies; our precious miracles who beat the odds and arrived at almost full term, in perfect health, and cute to boot!  When I look at our sweet angels snoozing in their cribs and then check in on their brother and sister down the hall, I have a burning desire to savor these times, to keep them close, keep them safe, keep the world at bay.  It is this emotion that comes through loud and clear in “Choose this Era” – yet another song on this album that comes from the heart and touches the heart.  “There’s danger in the paper, on the radio; I want to put my arms around you, will not let you go.”  What mom hasn’t felt this way?  I know I do.  Every day.

Last but not least, there is the fantastically funny last tune that you will play again and again.  It’s called “#1 Reason Parents are Cranky.”  Want to venture a guess?  Yep, you got it – they don’t get enough sleep!  It’s not the teething or the tantrums; it is the sleep deprivation that gets us every time.  I for one have long been advocating that the “world would be a better place if we all took naps and got eight hours of sleep!” 

Parenting just might be a “full catastrophe” but you’ll get through it with your toes tapping and fingers snapping if you let The Nield’s be your guide.  To buy their new album, visit:   You’ll be glad you did!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mom's Red Carpet Moment: I am "The Lucky One"

LyonsDenMom on the "Red Carpet"

My hair was done.  My makeup was done.  I was wearing a brand new dress with beautiful shoes and fancy jewels borrowed from my sister.  Why?  To attend the movie premiere of The Lucky One based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.  With a woman I never met before.

Her name is Julia Rose and it was work that brought us together.  I work for  House Party, a social media marketing company that drives consumer recommendations to build brands and drive sales.  In this case, the “brand” was Nicholas Sparks and the conversations and recommendations that our social media campaigns generate will result in movie ticket and book sales.

Julia is one of House Party’s most passionate brand advocates.  She created a six minute music video to demonstrate her enthusiastic adoration of all things Nicholas Sparks.  She wrote a catchy tune that weaves together the romantic twists and turns of all seventeen Sparks novels and her sister, Deborah Crawford, captured it all on film.  The House Party team rewarded their efforts by ensuring Julia Rose was one of the 1,000 lucky consumers (from a pool of tens of thousands applicants) selected to host a Nicholas Sparks Potluck House Party.

When the Sparks team at Grand Central Publishing (Nick’s publisher) and Warner Brothers (which produced the movie) heard the word, they did us one better.  They gave Julia two tickets to the premiere.  House Party responded in kind by providing airfare and hotel.  And that is how I ended up on the red carpet (to be accurate, it was a faux green lawn!) next to Julia Rose at a big-time Hollywood movie premiere. 

I didn’t know what to expect of Julia, who hails from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is known around town as one half of the busking duo Gladys and Maybelle.  The other half is her sister Deb, who joined us on the red carpet/green lawn. “Would they be weird?  Would we get along? Were they crazed Nicholas Sparks stalkers?” I wondered as I travelled to LA and pondered my 24 hours with Julia Rose and her sister Deb.
Julia and Deb (aka Gladys & Maybelle) at The Lucky One Premiere with Nicholas Sparks
As I returned to New York, I knew the answers were “No. Yes. Absolutely not.”  As it turns out, I have more in common than I would have thought with these two lovely Texan blondes.  As we got to know each other, I shared stories of the five feisty children and one semi-frazzled husband I left behind; this is one of my constant struggles as a working mom – leaving my family behind.  Not between the usual hours of 9 to 5 but when work spills over into family time, as business travel occasionally necessitates, I really struggle with the juggle.

I want to be a good mom. A present mom.  A mom who rules the roost but inspires her children to follow their dreams, know their limits and be true to themselves.  Well, as it turns out, Julia and Deb, a.k.a. Gladys and Maybelle, share my sentiments.  As it turns out, they named their band Gladys and Maybelle for Gladys Presley (perhaps you’ve heard of her son, Elvis?) and Mother Maybelle, the maternal in-law powerhouse behind a certain Johnny Cash.  These two women who joined me in a fairy tale evening of Hollywood glam were actually a lot like me.  We share dreams for our children; we were dazzled by the stars; and we shared a true Cinderella moment as the light bulbs flashed, the theater lights dimmed, and the story of The Lucky One swept us away.

Now that the proverbial clock has struck midnight, it’s back to reality.  My sleekly styled hair has returned to its typically curly locks.  The dress is in the closet and the sexy heels have been replaced by my signature flats. The kids are screaming, my inbox is overflowing and my to-do list is growing.  But I am content.  I am home. 

I will forever cherish the memory of the night I walked the green grass carpet with two amazing women who reminded me of the power of a great Mom and inspired me to try harder to be one each and every day.  Thank you Gladys and Maybelle.  Thank you for reminding me that every day I return home to five smiling (and potentially snot-nosed) kids and one sweet, patient husband, I am “the lucky one.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Sometimes Daddy knows best

I've been away for a few days now, living out my own "Lucky One" adventure while my dear husband has been manning the fort -- quite literally, I suppose -- since I left on Friday afternoon, artfully juggling five kids, their weekend activities and his responsibilities at work.  Here's what I've learned as I've kept in touch from afar:  sometimes, Daddy knows best. And oftentimes, Mommy makes things more complicated than they need to be.  Here are three great examples:
  1. Let them wear what they want.  The weather in the Northeast has hit unseasonable, record highs in the days I've been gone.  And from the photos I've seen, the kids have been thrilled to wear shorts and flip-flops.  And pajamas without tops. Knowing myself as I do, I suspect I would have started a battle about the flip-flops, making the rational argument that it's hard to run/play soccer/get from Point A to Point B when you're a three-year old in flip flops.  And, I would have urged them to wear shirts with their pajamas, for fear they'd catch a chill in the middle of the night. As it turns out, in both cases, I would have been wrong, causing yet another unnecessary fuss.  As it turns out, they wore their flip-flops and lived to tell about it and slept as snug as bugs in a rug, with or without shirts.  Score one for Dad.
  2. Leave the luggage at home.  Here's what I usually take a for a typical Saturday involving soccer, baseball and birthday parties:  5 juice boxes, 5 water bottles, about 25 snacks, a change of clothes in case a three-year old triplet piddles in his pants, sunblock, wipes, tissues, Purell and a few BandAids, just in case.  Here's what the Dad packed for his weekend adventures with our tykes: nothing.  Nothing!  Ok, maybe a water bottle for the kid playing soccer but that's pretty much it.  And you know what? They all survived! Score two for Dad. 
  3. Roll with it.  Before the breakfast is cleared away, I start to fret about what we'll have for lunch and dinner. Before my coffee is consumed, my mind has planned the minutes of our day -- every day.  The Dad does not work this way.  This can sometimes infuriate this Mom.  But, with some distance between us, I see once again the magic of his ways, the delight of a few unscripted days.  There was impromptu pizza for lunch and a late nap at 4:00.  There was no dinner plan but somehow it all came together.  The kids were happy, clean and fed.  Perhaps not on "my" schedule or in "my" way but, at the end of the day, well, they had a great day.  Several of them in fact. Score three for Dad!
I've learned once again that "my" way isn't necessarily the only way or at times even the "right" way.  This Dad really knows what he's doing.  So much so that this Mom just might start planning her next trip!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I don't know how he'll do it

I am leaving my husband and five children (aged seven and under!) behind for five days; five days and nights that will combine work and pleasure as I combine a business trip to LA with a visit to my sister and her family in San Francisco.  I am nervous about leaving my family behind.  And that fact that I’m leaving on Friday the 13th isn’t helping matters!

As I drove to the airport, I thought about the weekend ahead – the weekend at home, not the weekend that awaited me in San Francisco.  I thought about the responsibilities I was leaving behind -- dinner times, bath times, soccer practice, baseball practice, birthday parties -- all the weekend activities you’d expect from a busy family with five kids, topped off by several showings of our house, which is on the market.

Our weekends provide little down-time and are virtually devoid of R&R; if anything, I relish the return to work on Monday mornings because it gives me a chance to sit down!  So, as I embark on the flight that will take me 3,000 miles away from the mayhem of a typical weekend at home, I can’t help but think about the dear man I am leaving behind and wonder how he will do it.  It is the question I am constantly asked “How do you do it?! “ And my answer often relies heavily on “my other half” -- the supportive, funny, level-headed fella who is now home alone with five feisty tykes.

He’s been fretting my pending departure for weeks, telling neighbors, family, friends and pretty much anyone who will listen that I’m leaving him -- that I’m leaving him “all alone” with our five kids for five full days.  Honestly, his stress was seriously stressing me out.  So, I did what any Type A, aspirational SuperMom suffering from a bad case of guilt would do, I offered up a slew of solutions.  “I’ll create a daily meal plan.  I’ll organize rides for the birthday parties and car pools for soccer practice.  I’ll tell the realtor we can’t show the house while I’m away.  I’ll pre-pack the backpacks and lunches for Monday and Tuesday. “ And so on.  Initially, he was all for my organizational gusto.  “Yep, let’s not show the house while you’re away, it will be a mess,” he admitted.  “And a meal plan sounds great,” he concurred. 

And then, in the 48 hours leading up to my departure, something incredible happened.  My stressed out other half turned into an uber-confident SuperDad.  I, for one, always knew he had it in him but even so, was shocked when he said something to effect of “Screw the meal plan! I can feed our kids.  And if they’re hungry, they can just have a glass of milk!”  He went on to say, “And, let’s show the house.  I may not make the beds like you, but I can make a bed. I’ll even plant some pansies to increase the ‘curb appeal’.”  What?  Pansies?  Really?  Wow!

As I write this, I am hovering at 30,000 feet, barreling toward the West Coast and the adventures that await.  It was hard to say good-bye to the sweet, smiling faces that slobbered me with wet, snotty kisses; for the record, they came from my children, not my husband.  His kiss was sweeter, and seemed to linger longer than the usual perfunctory peck.  As hard as it was for me to leave, I know it will be much harder for him over the next few days.  And, I am reminded once again that I am one lucky gal -- which seems especially fitting given that the work portion of my trip will include a walk on the red carpet for the premiere of the movie  The Lucky One. I am very lucky indeed. 

As for the kids, well, if all they get is milk for the next few days, they may not be quite so lucky.  But, I have a feeling that Dad is going to pull this off with flying colors when he does, I will be the first in line to ask how he did it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Let them eat cake!

Our sweet Kevin enjoying a sweet treat at an early age
With the confluence of Easter and Passover last weekend, the sugar level of our nation's children must have hit an unprecedented high.  Between the Easter baskets and Passover treats, goodies were everywhere.  In our house, we had three rounds of sugar highs. 

The first occurred on Saturday morning, during our neighborhood egg hunt.  In what has become an annual tradition, my friend Cate magically transforms her yard into an Easter wonderland that is inevitably pillaged by a dozen egg-seeking children on a sugar mission.  These lovely children, all the best of friends, turn into egg-crazed enemies as they scramble to see who can gather the most. Of course, it's not all bad -- in fact, it's really not back at all.  The big kids help the little kids; the grown ups mix and mingle over coffee and a few treats of our own; and on a sunny spring Saturday, it's a Norman Rockwellian kick-off to our Easter weekend.

The second sugar-fueled frenzy occurred at a family affair on Saturday evening.  This time, cousins turned against each other in an effort to find the most yellow eggs -- ah yes, the yellow eggs had the most coveted treasure of all.  Each of them contained that rarest of treats that can only be found once a year -- the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Egg.  This, and this alone, was enough to turn our tiny tots into mighty warriors as they wrestled each other to the ground in search of this seasonal delight.

Last but not least, there was the Easter morning scramble as our kids jumped out of beds, climbed out of cribs, raced down the stairs and squealed with delight upon discovering that the Easter Bunny had indeed made a visit to the Lyons Den, delivering five baskets filled to the brim with more tasty treats -- jelly beans, chocolate eggs, Peeps, and of course, a chocolate bunny. As ten shining eyes looked up at me and one tiny voice asked "Ma, can I have one?  Can I have a jelly bean?"  I said yes. 

I said yes to jelly beans before breakfast.  Just as the day before I'd said yes to lollipops before lunch and M&Ms before dinner.  I figure that if I keep saying yes, maybe next year, the sugar-fueled frenzy will be well, just slightly, less frenzied.  If I keep saying yes, maybe they will learn to enjoy all things in moderation; maybe they will learn it's not necessary to eat their weight in sweet treats during Easter weekend.  Or Halloween.  Or Christmas.  Or birthdays... which leads me to cake, and the moral of this story.  Let them eat candy; let them eat cake.  Let them be kids and enjoy the simple pleasure of a savory sweet.  And ideally, teach them not to mow down their friends and cousins during next year's egg hunt! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Lower standards = happier mom

Last week we had to get all five kids out of the house by 7:45 not once, but twice.  I realize that for some folks, this wouldn't be a big deal but around here, we're used to operating in shifts, especially in the morning.  The first shift belongs to Liam and Ciara and lasts from roughly 6:45-7:30; during this time, they are roused from bed, hastily fed and hustled out the door for the school day ahead.  Shift Two starts at roughly 7:31, when Kevin, Declan and Cormac bounce down the stairs, into their chairs, and demand some cereal with a lot of fanfare.

This two-shift approach works extremely well for us -- it's our solution to managing morning chaos -- but last week, on the days we had to get them all up and out for an early school play and class breakfast, all bets were off.  Despite our bad habit of routinely arriving places at least 15 minutes late (see my recent post about the 10:45 mass!), we actually got to the school on time.  In fact, we were even a few minutes early!  As folks straggled in, one after another said something like "OMG! I can't believe you beat us here! We barely made it out of the house and we only have two kids.  How did you ever get out the door so early with FIVE of them?!"  The answer?

We didn't feed them.  Well, we fed Liam and Ciara, that seemed only right -- especially on the day of the school play.  But our trio of three-year olds didn't have breakfast.  Sounds crazy, right?  But really, it's not.  We fed them eventually.  We knew that the 8:00 play would be over by 8:30 and indeed it was.  And our little fellas were at the kitchen counter with a bowl of cereal by 8:45.  Were they hungry?  Sure.  But,I assure you they were no worse for the wear by eating an hour later than usual and, on the upside, we were on time for Liam and Ciara's big days -- a rare occurance which didn't go unnoticed!

It was these experiences that led me to realize that I've lowered my standards.  Just a bit.  I have strong perfectionist tendencies that I actively battle on a daily basis but I think this admission of not feeding our kids breakfast is not only evidence, but potentially good shareable advice.  Relaxing your standards a bit just might make for a happier mom and I think will definitely make for happier kids.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for having your kids skip meals, I'm pretty sure there's another mom in the press these days whose cornered the market on that one! (Here's a bit about that in case you missed it: Mom puts 7-yr. old daugher on diet).  In any case, now that I'm juggling so much at home and at work, I find that I'm accepting things I might not have before and going with the flow a bit more; maybe it's going too far to say that I've truly lowered my standards but, in the spirit of sharing, here are a few more examples I think you'll relate to and hope will give you a chuckle.
  • Snot on sleeves: ok.  Snot on walls, not so much. To elaborate just a bit, I used to yell at the kids for wiping their noses on their sleeves.  Then they started wiping them on the walls.  Our house doesn't have a hall of fame; it has a wall of snot.  In retrospect, using a sleeve as tissue seems a pretty good alternative.
  • Better late than never.  This applies to church, most social gatherings and thank you notes.  Speaking of which, I just found a pile of notes Liam wrote after his birthday in November.  If you're waiting for one of these, well, I'm sorry, you may be waiting a bit longer but I promise to make it to the post office before his next birthday.
  • There are more than four (or five?) basic food groups.  The new one that we've embraced (though pre-kids swore we wouldn't!) is the group that includes chicken nuggets and Mac&Cheese.  This is a staple now and that is a-ok.
  • Bathing is overrated. I'll give you that on some days, a bath is a requirement -- if there is mud, blood or an abundance of the aforementioned snot, a bath is a very good idea.  If not, well, there's always tomorrow.  And in our house, there's an excellent chance tomorrow might include mud, blood or snot!
  • Life is not a fashion show. Though it pains me at times, I've stopped fighting with the kids over what they wear. So, if you see the triplets in shorts on a cold, blustery day or wonder if Ciara has gone color-blind or Liam only owns Yankee shirts, well, you'll know that they dressed themselves and I am giving myself a pat on the back for not sweating the small stuff.  Which is probably the best tip of all!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Keeping the faith with five fiesty tykes

“How was your Palm Sunday?” asked good friends we had dinner with last night.  Truth be told, it was not so great.  Not that Palm Sunday is a historically a great day anyway, but their question was motivated, I think, by a curiosity about how we juggle five children under seven during mass -- especially mass on Palm Sunday which, by my estimation, is the longest mass ever. 

We take our children to church every Sunday.  We always have.  I was raised Catholic and even attended Catholic school for several years  (until an unfortunate incident involving a certain Sister Mary Lynch made me go public!).  I went to church every Sunday until I was 18 and then took about a decade off, spending Sunday mornings either sleeping off the effects of the night before or running a race in Central Park.  I suppose I’ve always been a gal of extremes; it was either up for a healthy morning run or down and out after a few too many the night before; up and out for mass or a decade of religious abstinence.

Then I met Des, who is now my husband.  I was stunned that a cute, fun, single guy actually went to church every Sunday.  And, since I was instantly madly in love, I started to go with him.  We got married, had children and I accepted Des’ proclamation that they “will be Catholic and Yankee fans.”  To this day, I still wonder about the equal weight of this mandate of religion and sports fanaticism, but frankly, I’ve got bigger fish to fry so, I just go along with it.

As our children arrived, we took one, then two, then five children to church every Sunday.  What a sight we were just a few years ago as we rolled in ten minutes late with five tiny tots strapped into a double and triple stroller.  Even today, we joke that the 10:30 mass is really the 10:45.  We may be late, we may be slightly more sloppy than I’d like but, we show up.  Every Sunday.  Including Palm Sunday, which, in addition to being one of the longest masses ever, is also the only day in the liturgical year that everyone is given a slight, wispy weapon upon entry to church. You guessed it:  palms!

Imagine if you will, what one seven year old, one five year old and three three-year olds can do with a fistful of palms.  If sword fights, fishing, tickling, tackling and tug-of-war come to mind, then you guessed it right. It’s hard enough for us to control our clan at church on any given Sunday but on Palm Sunday, it is downright impossible. It’s no easy task to try to listen to the gospel while intermediating the increasingly violent escapades of the palms of our pew.  It’s not easy to keep our cool in the front row (yes, we sit in the front row!) while the kids are clobbering each other, climbing over us and creating weapons from a religious symbol.  At one point yesterday, I took a palm to the eyeball and could have sworn I tore my retina.  Thankfully, I didn’t.  Although, I'm pretty sure I did swear under my breath. 

So, in considering the question "How was your Palm Sunday?" I can only recall the power struggle in our pew as the palms waved and the kids whined.  And, I think about how I prayed for peace. And patience.  This is my wish for Easter, for my family and for all of you.  Peace and patience and perhaps even a pretty palm or two to adorn our home until next Palm Sunday -- when the battle of the palms will almost surely start anew!