Lyons Den Momby Kerry Lyons
- Simple tips for super snacking - healthy and delicious bites for kids on the go and at home
- Getting organized for back to school - how to get a handle on your little darlings paperwork
- Making the transition from crib to bed - helping your babies make the big leap
- Summer packing essential for a family getaway - getting all the essentials in for a gaggle of children
- Summer road trip survival tips - words of advice from a Mom of five
Last but not least, buy on sale and buy in bulk. Hopefully this gives you a few new ideas for how ensure your snackers are happy ones -- and, if you have yummy, healthy snacks that are your go-to favorites, let me know!
The last piece of the process is no doubt the hardest – it’s making a lasting commitment to control the paper beast. To tackle it daily. To keep only what is critical and to recycle or trash what’s not. To actually use your file folders and memory boxes. To keep the paper beast under control -- before it grows big and scary and requires a bonfire to tame it. Although, if all else fails, a bonfire isn’t a bad idea… it is, after all, a sure (and welcome!) sign of Fall.
“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.
I relished giving all five of our children bottles on the front porch. Watching them play in the backyard. Helping them climb up the stairs, out of cribs and into my arms. In the seven years we’ve lived here, our babies have become children and we’ve all grown older and wiser. It’s time to move on. But it’s so hard to go. Especially when I don’t know where the road will lead us. I can only hope that when we find our second house, it too will quickly become a home as sweet as this.
We finally arrived on the steps of St. Pat’s where we met my husband, Liam and Ciara and were eventually joined by my parents, brother, sister-in-laws, niece, nephews and friends old and new. As the pipers played and drummers drummed, I said a silent thank you to St. Patrick. Not just for chasing the snakes out of Ireland but, for giving us one day a year to honor our heritage, tap our toes to the music, wear our green with pride and truly cherish our family; St. Patrick’s Day is a reminder of just how blessed I am to look into smiling little Irish eyes and see the wonder of the world from their point of view – for it is a very nice view indeed.
Twas the week before St. Patty's Day
I am a zoo-lover. To me, one of the gratifications of having children is the ability to share my love of animals and wildlife and create little zoo-lovers to follow in my footsteps. With five tykes seven and under, we've been quite busy exploring every zoo within reasonable -- and not so reasonable --distance from our home in the suburbs of New York City. To date, we've been lucky enough to visit the National Zoo in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Zoo ...
Parents need to eat too. This may sound obvious but, it is a simple little fact that is often forgotten in the blur of baby days and toddler tantrums. My husband is actually great at remembering this little tidbit and frequently recalls the airline advice that urges adults to put on their oxygen masks before tending to the children around them. He thinks of food (three full square meals a day) like that oxygen... it is absolutely essential and copious amounts are required for his base level of functioning.
The same can not be said of me. Don't get me wrong. I love to eat. Really. I love love love food. But, the notion of putting together a plate for myself while a little one is howling never even occurred to me. I just assumed that in the natural order of all things food-related, the kids come first. Well, guess what? I was wrong. And, in a moment more rare than a solar eclipse, I'm going to admit something else -- my husband was right!
And, he's not alone. Debbie Koenig, who you may know from the blog Words to Eat By has a fab new book that will help parents everywhere master the struggle of the juggle -- in particular, the juggle of a jiggly newborn or tuggy toddler and the dinnertime dilemma.
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.
To provide a bit of context, the New York metro area had it's first significant snowfall of the year this past weekend. My heart still leaps when I see those first flakes fall -- and then it sinks just a bit when it's time to wrestle five little "cubs" into snow boots, snow pants, jackets, hats and mittens before heading out to enjoy (or perhaps brave) the elements. Truth be told, snow is no fun for kids. At least not for very little ones. Their mittens fall off, their sleds tip over but still we drag them out in the name of fun. And, in some ways, it is. Our experience this weekend went something like this...
Five little cubs went out one day
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 must have more... and I, for one, intend to find out! God knows I could use all the help I can get as I juggle the ins and outs and ups and downs of parenthood -- and I'm truly grateful to have my Granny and her doses of wisdom to help show me the way.
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 scootching, 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.
Like many of us, as a New Year dawns, I am prone to make resolutions – promises, both small and grand, that I make to myself to be better, do better, do more. As I look ahead to 2012, I decided to look back to this time last year and share what I wrote at the dawn of 2011. It makes just as much sense now as it did then. And for the record, I survived turning 40 but still long for a weekend away… all of which will make sense after you read this…
This year, as I teeter on the edge of 40 and ponder what 2011 may hold, I’ve decided to rethink my resolutions. I’ve decided that since there’s an undeniable pattern in my annual goals (exercise more, save more money, find time for date nights!), why limit them to a calendar year? Why not think of resolutions as long-term ambitions? Maybe it’s a cop out. Maybe I’m letting myself off the hook by lifting the 12.31.11 deadline but, on the other hand, maybe I’m giving myself the chance to truly be a better person and lead a better life. It is with this hope, intention and optimism in mind that I share with you my goals for 2011… and beyond.
I would like to yell less and listen more. I’d like to really listen, to actually hear what my children and my husband have to say. To take the time to digest and respond to their comments, thoughts and requests with more than my typically breezy “yup, uh-huh, sure” or “what’d ya say, hon?”
In the days leading up to Christmas, people often said things like "It must be great to have all those kids on Christmas!" Or, "Wow, Christmas in your house must really be something!" It is great to have "all those kids" on Christmas (and the other 364 days of the year!) and this year, our Christmas really was something. Something like this.
It started at 5:15AM because little Mac couldn't find his "Wawa" and was wailing like a madman. That smelly, soggy "Wawa", as it turns out, was right underneath him the whole time. With that crisis solved, we sighed, rolled over and said a prayer that we would fall back asleep until sunrise. No such luck.
At 5:30, Liam appeared in our room. You might think he was there because of the excitement of Christmas and anticipation of opening his gifts but alas, that was not the case. As it turned out, the reason for his pre-dawn appearance was a bloody nose. A very bloody nose.
There were several moments this week when I knew the Christmas spirit had officially entered the Lyons Den.
Granted, if you were to go by the store windows, the Christmas season actually started the day after Halloween but, we like to take things a bit more slowly around here... or, perhaps better put, we have to take things a bit more slowly. Between birthdays and work days and play dates and sick days, it's hard to even find the time to trim the tree.
My oldest just turned seven last week, the next in line is five and the triplets are now three-years-old. They all have a healthy curiosity about pretty much everything and, while the bigger two can be skeptical at times, more often than not, they believe what I tell them - especially as it relates to things they want to believe in, like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and, of course Santa Claus.
Keeping the magic alive gets harder when the grammar school years arrive. If your child is still a sweet, innocent believer, there is an excellent chance he will meet a kid on the bus or playground or classroom who will tell him that "Santa isn't real" or "only babies believe in Santa." When your wee one comes home with this news, it will break your heart; the notion of losing that innocence is just too much to bear. So, here are a few tips to get (or keep) things back on track -- to keep the faith in Santa Claus this Christmas season and hopefully, for many more to come!
More Christmas stories on IrishCentral
Last week was a doozy. Monday was the 2nd grade back to school night. Tuesday was the kindergarten back to school night. Wednesday night was the parent orientation for CCD and for me, a wake-up call for just how much of my Catholic education I’ve forgotten.
I’m told that as a kid, I used to sing church hymns in the tub but, it seems with the passing of the years, I’ve forgotten not only many of those hymns but some of the Catholic basics as well – like the fact that the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Communion both apparently take place in the second grade. This was just one eye-opening takeaway from our back to back evenings back at school; here are a few more.
The tooth fairy has officially visited our home five times. Our six-year-old has officially lost six teeth. As you may have noticed, there is a discrepancy here. As far as I can tell, the issue was the loss of tooth #5.
I can’t recall where or when it fell out and neither can Liam, the aforementioned gap-toothed six year old. The fact he can’t even remember the details of this little tooth makes me feel a bit better about my own vague recollection. I do recall that when it came out, it eventually ended up in a little “treasure chest” – one of those little hand-painted projects which, for some reason, ended up on top of our entertainment center (yep, we still have one of those!) several weeks back. That’s when my mind goes blank.
Now it's back to reality. Before dinnertime on day one, I had unpacked everything, done about five loads of laundry and reorganized the basement; the basement wasn't on the agenda for the day but, since I spent so much time down there with the laundry, I couldn't stand tripping over the bins of hand-me-downs and had to do something about it. As I reached the height of my organizational frenzy, my six year old, Liam, wandered down and asked me to play with him. When I said I was busy, he whined "But Mom, why don't you ever play with me at home?!" Which made me realize that I learned a lot over the course of our week away and first day home.
1. My kids like to play with me. And I like to play with them too. And I really need to do it more often, not just when we're on vacation. While we were away, I made sand castles, went on walks (without my phone!), and totally tuned in to the five tots that I'm too often tuning out. It's so easy to use the "busy" excuse but it's amazing how appreciative they are when I slow down, pay attention and really focus on these amazing little people we're so blessed to have. There was one night when Ciara just wanted me to sit and snuggle and watch Peter Pan. And I did. And she was thrilled.
Saying so long to these kitchen mainstays leaves me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I appreciate our newly streamlined and less cluttered living area. I'm impressed that Kevin, Declan and Cormac will sit in chairs and more often than not, stay there through the course of a meal. On the other hand, I'm having some emotional angst. Saying so long to high chairs is part of saying good bye, once more, to our baby days.
I've survived other small rites of passage with less emotional fallout. I was thrilled when they traded the bottle for the sippy cup. While I lamented the loss of the snuggle time that accompanies breast or bottle feeding, I was glad to no longer face the dilemma of how to snuggle and juggle three babies at once. I was fine when we traded up from those bucket car seats to the "big boy" car seats -- especially since making three trips in and out of the car with the combined weight of tots plus seats was no easy task. I will admit I was bummed out the day the wheels literally fell off their triplet stroller but, it really was getting tough for me to push almost a hundred pounds of kid and stroller up the steep hills where we live so, we put that stroller on the curb and never looked back.
How many times have you said “if only there were more hours in the day?” And how many times have you vividly imagined all you might accomplish with those precious few extra hours? It recently dawned on me that the summer season gives us this gift of time. By its very virtue, summer provides extra hours of daylight – a few hours in the morning to get a jumpstart on the day and a few more in the evening to relax and unwind.
With a possible Lyons Den famine bearing down on us, I did what I had to do. I went to Costco. At 4:00 on Friday while the sun was shining and the pool was calling. As I crammed my protesting kids into the car (not all five of them, just the "big ones" while the "little ones" were napping), I could feel my temperature rise, my pulse quicken, my temperature shorten. I hate Costco. I love the pool. What in God's name was I doing?!
Well, if men are hunters and women are gatherers, I suppose I was gathering. Providing. That's what I was doing. At least that's what I told myself. I had to go to Costco and as it turns out, I had to spend $500 to stock our shelves, fill our pantry and ensure a good rotation of satisfactory snacks for my little campers. The dollar amount still shocks me. What did I get for $500, you may wonder? Well, quite a lot. I think it's fair to say we won't need snacks until September. And, we'll have some basic provisions for oh, perhaps a week or so. Since I've been told it's of interest, here's a quick glimpse of how we filled our cart...
- 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 (especially when your husband is working late!) 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!
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!