This week it happened again.  Our groceries disappeared.  Just like that, POOF! They were gone.  The emergency reserves of peanut butter and jelly?  Gone.  The only bread left in the house?  Those nasty end pieces that no one one will eat.  The only fruit?  A lemon. Slightly moldy.  The only snacks left for camp?  A few measly fruit roll-ups… the ones we’d deliberately passed over for weeks because the humidity leaves them so tightly rolled they inevitably incite a toddler tantrum.  

With a possible LyonsDen 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… 

Milk, Eggs, and juice boxes galore,
Saline solution, cereal bars, granola bars and more,
Cheerios, Chobani, chicken and cheddar too, 
Gogurt, Fruit Snacks and boxes of goldfish (two!).
Laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and a box of Bounce,
Toilet paper, paper towels and apple juice (size: 64 ounce!).
A watermelon, blueberries, bananas and pears,
Bread, broccoli and a couple of Swiss au pairs!

Ok, gotcha.  I didn’t really get any Swiss au pairs.  But seriously, for $500, you’d think maybe they’d throw one in!  Especially since the sticker shock left me in such a bitter mood.  The kind of bitter mood that caused me to drop a quiet F-Bomb when someone nicked me in the ankle with their cart.  And again when I banged my head on my cart while unloading some stuff from the bottom shelf.  And once more when it rolled over my toes, administering the final blow to the the pedicure I got in April.

I should also mention that I got six pairs of footie pajamas.  And some books for an upcoming birthday party.  While these items were admittedly impulsive and won’t fill our pantry, they were necessities in their own way and truly, they were a bargain.  I think there’s some merit to my role as a gatherer.  And typically, I embrace it.  However, given the surly mood and battered bod this trip to Costco left me with, the moral of the story is this:  When the sun is shining and the pool is calling, GO!  For heaven’s sake, the pool has a snack bar and the kids won’t starve!  Once again, a lesson I learned the hard way.  Although, on the upside, there won’t be any tantrums over sticky fruit roll-ups next week!

One of the things that struck me this week was the inordinate amount of sick kid snafus we experienced here in the Lyons Den.  What is a “Sick Kid Snafu”?  It’s when a sick kid necessitates a swift change in your well-laid plans, often causing disappointment, occasionally causing disagreement and rarely if ever causing delight.  Here’s a quick rundown of our Sick Kid Snafus in just the past four days…

  • Monday: July 4th fireworks viewing canceled for Lyons Den tots due to Declan having a raging fever and Ciara having a tummy ache.  I did my best to disregard both minor maladies but when Declan’s eyes glazed over and Ciara had a “burp plus”, I knew it wasn’t meant to be… a maternal instinct that did cause a brief marital disagreement and resulted in a very disappointed 6 year old!
  • Monday/Tuesday: A massive midnight barf-o-rama caused a major snafu for a much-needed night of uninterrupted sleep!  Additional casualties included one comforter, one bedroom rug, one hallway rug and one very upset little lady covered in bright pink vomit.  Lessons learned?  First, do not dismiss the burp plus; it is clearly an omen of a barf plus plus plus!  Secondly, encourage wee ones to approach the endless July 4th barbecue bounty with caution; regurgitated watermelon, fruit punch and hot dogs do not make for an easy clean up!
  • Wednesday:  Another, even more desperately needed night of sleep disturbed by a nose bleed.  A massive horror show of a nose bleed at 3AM.  The kind of nose bleed that resulted in another comforter casualty; thankfully the rug was spared since it was still in recovery from the bright pink barf-o-rama.
  • Thursday:  A day that started with a bleary-eyed me and proved to be  a doozy of a day at work.  Lots to do, lots of meetings and then? You guessed it!  Sick Kid Snafu!  A tiny tot with a fever that insisted on rising despite ample, frequent doses of Motrin and Tylenol.  This working gal turned SuperMom donned my cape, fled the office and raced my minivan to the pediatrician pronto!  Key challenges aside from moaning tyke in backseat?  No wallet and no gas in car!  Talk about a snafu!

Looking ahead to tomorrow, I already had to cancel a playdate, once again leaving disappointment in the wake of a sick kid snafu.  Looking back on the past week, I realize there’s even more in the way of plan-bashing, kid-caused upsets… there was the night Kevin fell off the couch and split his head open on the coffee table and the recent bee sting that had us all in a panic.  Heck, even the dog foiled some plans when he had diarrhea for days and required an emergency trip to the vet.  Hundreds of dollars and several postponed plans later, he emerged with a spring in his step and a wag in his tail.  The moral of the story?  As long as there are kids (and I suppose dogs!), there will be snafus.  And, much to my own surprise, I’ve learned to roll with them… usually with only the slightest trace of disappointment!

A few weeks ago we were headed to “opening day” at our pool.  I pulled the beach towels out of the basement, located swim suits and swim shirts that still fit the kids and checked the sunblock for expiration dates.  We seemed to be in pretty good shape until I realized we didn’t have any swimmies (a.k.a. swim diapers, water pants, you get the idea) for the triplets. 

I decided we had two choices — let them go bare bottom, which seemed reasonable enough given that they are 2 1/2 and dabbling in potty training OR put them in pull-ups given that they are just dabbling in potty training and it would be poor form to provide a pool-clearing “floater” or two (or three!) on opening day.  Our choices sparked an interesting conversation between me and Des, a real introspective of the type you might expect to see on 60 Minutes or 20/20.

“What’s the difference between a Pull Up and a Swimmie?”  “Is it just the packaging and clever marketing?”  “Are those CPG giants P&G and Kimberly-Clarke out to get us yet again?  Convincing us that we need day diapers and night diapers and pull ups AND swimmies?!”  “Yep.  It’s a conspiracy.  They are just preying on the vulnerability of parenthood and have tricked us into thinking we need all this stuff.”  “Well, not us!  Screw it!  This summer we’re not buying those Swimmies!  At $10 a pack, we’ll be bankrupt by Labor Day anyway.  Little guys, go for it… put on your pull ups and hit the pool!”  And so they did.  And this is what happened:

Close up of exploding post-swim swimmie

It may be hard to fully appreciate the impact of the water-logged pull up; this picture doesn’t quite do justice to the fluid-filled interior that erupted up and out of the little guys swimsuits, leaving an almost snowy-like trail from the kiddie pool back to our chairs.  As they waddled by, weighted down, confused and embarassed, onlookers couldn’t help but laugh.  Ok, I couldn’t help but laugh myself.  In fact, Des and I almost wet our pants we were laughing so hard.  The poor little fellas didn’t think it was funny though…

“It’s not funny.  Could you just buy me some Swimmies?!”

The morale of the story?  There is indeed a difference between a pull-up and a swimmie and good corporate citizens and reasonably competent parents will indulge their children with both! 

Tonight was another one of those nights. I left work a few minutes early so I would be home for an important call at 5:30.  I walked in to the typical throngs of little ones looking for an uppie and chattering about their day.  Unfortunately, I promptly dismissed them, ignored their chatter and hid in the bathroom until my call was over at 5:45.  I then reentered the kitchen, kissed them all hello and acted like it was normal to have a mom who is hiding in the bathroom one minute and all love and kisses the next.  My fleeting attention was not lost on them as an unusual evening unfolded.

I had just gotten dinner on the table at 6:00 (gotta love leftover night!) when a few of our neighbors started to filter into the yard.  Then a few more.  “We’re here for the concert,” they announced.  I had to admit that I had no clue what they were talking about.  Then a few more filtered in.  Then I noticed about ten sippy cups full of water lined up by our back gate and a blue bucket newly and neatly labeled in Liam’s handwriting “Money.”  I excused myself to go back into the kitchen and ask my five mischievous kids what was brewing.  They erupted into an excited explanation — “We’re having a concert!” “I play drums!” “We made tickets!” “They gave us dollars!” “Gonna sing songs!” “Is dinner over?!”  And so it was that I learned that in the brief window between the last day of school and first day of camp, my five tykes turned into both budding performers and junior extortionists.  

Unsure of how to proceed, I decided that the show must go on.  Dinner could wait.  None of us wanted to disappoint the gathering crowd, each of whom had apparently paid a dollar and was now holding a sippy cup of water.  One of them was wise enough to remark to another “You might not want to drink this, I think it might have come from the hose earlier today.”  As Ciara circulated and made sure everyone had “refreshments”, Liam was collecting more money while the triplets tottered to and fro.  With an authoritative bang on a pre-school sized drum, the “concert” began — a cacophony of percussions that included that drum, some maracas, some bells and a good old-fashioned spoon on a Lego box.  It was just the type of “concert” you’d expect from a junior set quintet; it was more noise than music and I was kind of horrified that they had charged folks for the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have made them return those dollars even if the performance had been stellar but, I think the kids have a few lessons to learn from their performance art endeavors…

  1. Don’t take money from friends and neighbors.
  2. Practice makes perfect.  
  3. Water does not a refreshment make.
  4. A mom that hides in the bathroom instead of saying hello when she gets home from work isn’t all bad.
In fact, that very same Mom might let you leave your dinner on the table, chuckle at your concert, and then offer up a stroll to town for ice cream.  All because these days between school and camp and summer days in general are far too fleeting and deserve to be enjoyed.  God only knows what tomorrow will bring but for now, I think I’ve nipped my petite extortionists in the bud. I’d keep your dollars in your pocket though, just to be sure… 

I have to thank our neighbor for coining the term “rolling vomitorium.”  This is what our minvan (a.k.a. “Swagger Wagon”) turned into last Friday afternoon as we traveled to Long Island to spend the weekend with my aunt.  

We got off to a pretty good start.  We were able to leave work a few hours early and had the car packed and ready to roll at 3:00.  By the time we cruised around town borrowing pack & plays, gassing up and stopping for iced coffee, it was closer to 3:30 by the time we actually left.  About two minutes later, the skies opened up, the thunder boomed and the lightening started a stellar performance that would last for hours.  As the weather roared outside, the kids roared inside. “I want a snack! I want a drink! Can we watch a movie? He’s kicking me! She pinched me!  Why can’t I have a snack?  How long does it take to get there?!” Mind you, this all erupted before we even hit the highway so I should have known it was going to be a long trip.

Our first snafu?  A certain young man who obviously disregarded his mother’s strong urging to pee before we left the house.  As we crawled along in the Friday traffic, slowly navigating the flooded roads, poor Liam started squirming in the third row… “I REALLY have to go!” he pleaded with such urgency there were tears in his eyes.  Unfortunately, we were on a highway with no rest stops and not even a shoulder to safely and sneakily pee upon.  Additionally, he was so crammed in the back that exiting the car required climbing over one pack & play, one large dog and his sister.  Since it seemed to be a legitimate emergency and the notion of spending the next few hours in a car full of urine was unappealing, we risked life and limb to let the little man out to relieve himself.  We got back in the car soaked by the rain but, figured it beat being soaked in pee and away we went! 

Shortly thereafter, the fun really started.  Declan was sitting behind the driver’s seat in the car seat previously known as the “Barf Chair.”  We’d gone through a period last summer when whatever kid sat there inevitably hurled.  We thought we’d fixed that problem by adjusting the seat.  We thought wrong.  “I’m not feeling very well,” Declan announced in a matter of fact manner.  Then his sweet face turned from rosy pink to ghostly white to a frightening shade of grey/green.  Then he threw up what appeared to be about ten pounds of watermelon.  Pink fruit-strewn stinky barf was all over him, all over that car seat and, ready for this?  All over our DOG!  Poor Finnegan gave me a look as if to say “Really?  First you jam me in this car between kids and pack & plays and bags and now this?!”  

Our next move was pulling over for the second time to strip Declan down, clean out the seat and do our best to remove the watermelon chunks from Finny’s fur.  This was no easy task on the side of the LIE with the rain pouring down and the lightening continuing its show — especially since when I opened the trunk, I was nearly killed by the bags that tumbled out, bouncing off my head on the way to the ground.  Not good.  On the upside though, we were prepared — a quick change of clothes, a swift cleansing with wipes and a hearty dose of Purell and we were on our way once more.

Until he threw up again.  On Finny.  Again.  This time we had the good fortune to pull over under a bridge so at least we weren’t pummeled by the rain as we stripped the kid down.  This time I could feel the eyes of onlookers as they crawled by in the miserable rush hour traffic.  I suspect the other Swagger Wagon drivers understood; they had a sense of “been there, done that.”  The swank sports cars seemed to scoff, as if to suggest “I would never allow that to happen is this sleek performance machine!”  And then there were the sympathetic old folks in oversized sedans, one of whom actually pulled over to say “is everything ok?  I saw the naked baby on the side of the road and was worried.”  Well, kind sir, thank you.  To tell you the truth, we were worried too but, once again, all’s well that ends well.  

We put Declan in his PJs, put on a movie, passed out some pretzels and continued on our journey.  As the kids laughed at something clever from the Clifford video, Des and I laughed in the front seat… we knew we had hours to go, the car smelled like puke and the dog looked like hell but really, what else could we do?  Our traveling family circus keeps us entertained in all kinds of weather and when we woke up to a blue sky and bright sun the next morning, we knew it was well worth the trip. Even if it was the trip from hell! 

Motherhood is full of surprises. From those first flutters of pregnancy to the wonder of falling in love with a bald-headed baby, the only thing you can really expect is the unexpected.  I’ve grown immune to some of the unanticipated side effects of parenting… sleep deprivation, driving a minivan and the ongoing battle against kid-clutter have all become part of my new norm. Something that continues to surprise me however, is all that’s underfoot, in the most literal sense.  Here’s my Top 10 list of barefoot surprises… along with a renewed commitment to treading lightly and wearing my shoes!

  1. Legos. Ever step barefoot on a Lego? If so, you can probably relate to the expletives that explode from my mouth each time it happens. I do occasionally apply a child-friendly filter, which now has our 2 1/2 year old triplets using the word “freakin’!” in a most charming way. My barefoot encounters with wayward Legos are so frequent that if I ever get around to writing my memoir, I think I will call it “My Life in (Freakin’!) LegoLand.”
  2. WaWas. You may call it a lovey or woobie or blankie but those beloved soft comfort items are known in our house as “WaWas”. Actually, for Liam it was a “WeeWee” but then Ciara came along and we didn’t want her to be the only little girl on the block with a “WeeWee” so, she mercifully called hers a “WaWa” and this term of endearment is here to stay. As are the Wawas… all five kids have them but the triplets in particular get great joy from sucking on them. When they are in their cribs making those sweet sucking sounds, it is absolutely endearing; when one falls out of the crib and you step on it barefoot in the middle of the night, it is absolutely gross. Soggy, wet, nasty and gross. Enough said!
  3. Soggy Cheerios. I admit it. We rely on our dog Finnegan to do a lot of the post-meal clean up. So much so, in fact, that he’s gained well over ten pounds since the triplets were born. He is so efficient in his efforts that he sometimes even starts the clean up while the little guys are still in their high chairs; the sight of the chairs being nudged around the kitchen by a ninety pound dog is an especially good one if you ever get a chance to see it. In any case, I suppose we’ve become overly reliant on Finnegan and under-reliant on the broom because I now find myself muttering each morning as I dislodge yet another Cheerio from between my toes.
  4. Our dog, Finnegan. He does pretty well for himself at mealtime but any other time of day he’s prone to be tripped over, stepped on or plowed over. This never used to happen but now, it’s fairly routine. He might get knocked out of the way as I chase down a kid or worse yet, stepped on overnight as I go to find one of those darn misplaced Wawas. Either way, that poor dog really takes his blows. 
  5. A bike helmet. Ever wake up in the morning and trip over a kid’ bike helmet next to your bed? Me too! I thought this was a rather unusual occurrence but have since heard from other Moms that it’s happened to them too. Not sure why the bike helmets end up in the bedroom instead of on the porch in the neat little basket I’ve put there for the very purpose of bike helmet storage. I guess it’s probably the same reason why my neatly labeled baskets for “Cars”, “Trains”, and “Dolls” now flow over with books, random puzzle pieces and yes, even an occasional Lego.
  6. Big Wheels… and little ones too. Matchbox cars, firetrucks, dump trucks and the like never seem to find their way into those neatly labeled baskets and bins. And, they just may be the death of me one day. I’ve been known to sail half way across the house on a moderately sized “shake and go” car and trust me, the sight of me shaking and going in this way is not one you want to see. Especially since it may also include another inappropriate freakin’ expletive!
  7. Play Dough. Fresh out of the jar, this stuff is squishy and soft. Not something I enjoy between the toes but, it’s preferable to those gummy, soggy Cheerios. Leave it out for a while though and suddenly that Play Dough isn’t so playful. It hardens to teeny, rainbow colored pebbles that I find scattered throughout the house and between my toes. Let me go on record and make it official: I hate Play Dough!
  8. Crayons/Markers: While you may not naturally equate these childhood tools of the trade to the aforementioned big wheels and matchbox cars, they can just as easily propel you across a room if you step on them just so. These are yet another shining example of defiant toys that refuse to reside in their neatly labeled bins. Why, oh why, do I even bother?
  9. The laundry basket. There are two places in my house that I would expect to find the laundry basket – in the basement by the washer/dryer or in my closet brimming over with the days soiled wears. Unfortunately, there are probably 22 places that I might stumble across, over or into that basket. Ok, maybe not quite 22 since our house isn’t that big but, suffice it to say, ever since the triplets decided the laundry basket is their “boat”, I’ve found it docked in the kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms and everywhere in-between.
  10. Sticks and stones. They say that sticks and stone may break your bones and I am here to tell you this is true! While I haven’t actually broken a bone (yet!), I have stepped on and tripped over many of these “collections” courtesy of any of our five kids. What’s surprising about this isn’t the notion of kids collecting them but rather, using the dining/living/bedroom/kitchen floors as display cases. If only they’d leave their wares outside, I’d be more alert, more apt to watch underfoot for sharp rocks and jagged sticks; I just don’t have that kind of radar up when I’m blindly fumbling for my morning coffee!

So, there you have it. Ten items large and small that I’m still surprised to find underfoot. I suppose the only other thing I should mention is, well, my kids. With so many of them in such a relatively small space, I have been known to literally trip over my own children. Especially when the triplets were in that cute crawling/pull up on your legs phase. I’ve apologized countless times for stepping on tiny fingers and toes; just imagine their shock and surprise when they are repeatedly stepped on by their own Mom! Now that I think about it, maybe all those Legos, Cheerios, Play Dough, sticks and stones I find myself stepping on and tripping over aren’t accidentally left behind. Maybe it’s just my kids trying to tell me in a not-so-subtle way, “Hey Mom, watch where you’re freakin’ going.  And while you’re at it, put on a pair of freakin’ shoes!!!”

Here’s the text I sent Des on Monday night at 7:54 PM when he was presumably dodging fly balls as the go-to pitcher and assistant coach for Liam’s first grade baseball team:

“Macmac barfed. Decker barfed. Quiche has mold. Help!!! BTW, don’t think mold & barfing are related. Think barf & strep are related & quiche is just bad luck!”

For those of you interested the events that preceded and followed, here’s a rundown of Monday, May 2nd in the Lyons Den:
5:57 Wake up. Finish blog post. Unload dishwasher. Make lunch. Pack snacks. Start laundry.

7:00 Drag Liam from bed, make breakfast, send him off on bus.

7:30 Moaning from triplets room prompts me to look inside. Discover MacMac (aka Cormac) in a feverish fit with green snot pouring from his nose. Literally pouring. Temp is 101.9

7:40 Debate w/ Des re: need to take MacMac to doctor. Des says no, I say yes. I win.

7:45 Shower, dress, change MacMac, wake Ciara, pack lunch and bag for work.

8:15 To the pediatrician we go – thank goodness for the walk-in hour!

8:45 Home we go – that walk-in hour sucks! Waiting room is overflowing with pink-eye, allergies, stomach bugs and generally sick kids. We make an appointment to return at 11:30.

9:00 Dump MacMac at home, head to work.

11:15 A bundle of nerves and stress, I leave my piled-high desk to retrieve my boy and return to doctor.

11:45 Discover MacMac has strep. Panic sets in. How long ‘til the rest of them fall?!

12:00 Quick trip to CVS to fill prescription.

12:45 Return to office, dig in to sandwich and emails that await. Work, work, work.

5:45 Home sweet home. Feverish boy slumbers on couch while other kids run wild and Des and Liam take off for baseball.

5:50 Closer look at couch reveals that feverish boy on couch is not MacMac. It’s Declan. Sh*t!!

6:00 Dinner is served. “Egg pie” (aka quiche!) and broccoli, typically a crowd pleaser is unanimously dismissed with a chorus of “no like it”

6:30 Backyardigans video provides 23 minutes of kid-entertainment and mom-relief. I shed my work clothes, locate thermometer and put on Florence Nightingale uniform. Ok, not really. 
7:00  Mac and Declan have rising fevers.  I put on their PJs and pop them in their cribs.  A suspicious gurgling precedes Mac’s massive vomit. Ciara, playing the role of physician’s assistant, continually chimes in “it’s really bad Mom. REALLY bad” while Declan moans from crib and Kevin jumps up and down singing “MacMac throw up! MacMac throw up!”

7:30 Mac is changed, crib is changed, Declan has been given Tylenol, MacMac has had his antibiotic and a solid dose of Advil to keep the fever at bay. Ciara is brushing her teeth. The four kids I have at home are now ready for bed.  I think the worse is behind me.

7:45 Nope. The worst is still coming. As I discover mold on the quiche Des and I were going to have for dinner, there is a blood curdling scream from upstairs followed by Ciara’s call, “MOM! Come quick! It’s REALLY bad!!!”  Sound familiar?

7:46 Declan is covered in barf. His crib is covered in barf. I am covered in barf. Kevin’s enthusiasm for his brother’s barf has worn off; Cormac has nodded off.

7:54 Text to Des as per above. I stink like vomit, we have no dinner (though I’m no longer hungry!), there are piles of laundry to be done, work to catch up on and for the record, I’m exhausted, having only had about 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep the night before thanks to an itchy dog, a big boy with bad dreams, la ittle girl who woke us to tell us she went to the potty and a rotation of triplets with lost blankies, high fevers and general malaise!

Suffice it to say that in the hours that followed, there was more vomit, alternating doses of meds to keep MacMac and Declan’s fever at bay and less consecutive sleep than the night before. When the sun rose, I rose with it to get in a run. And boy, am I ever glad I did because today might as well have been Groundhog Day. Just hit the repeat button (or reread button?!) and you’ll know what my day was like. Even the pediatrician feigned surprise when I appeared once again at 11:30 with a little fella red with fever and ripe with strep. When I mentioned that I’d probably see her again tomorrow with my third little guy, she laughed and said she has the day off. Which leaves me to wonder… when will I get a day off? As MacMac has been known to say — albeit under very different circumstances, as in when asked to apologize for biting his brother – “Not today!”

Today is Easter Monday. The day after the big event. Easter is one of our most significant religious holidays and, in the eyes of babes, it’s second only to Christmas. The Easter Bunny can’t hold a candle to Santa but, the anticipation of what he may bring is enough to wake the tots well before sunrise… and, in our house, literally put the fear of God in them before they tucked into bed.

We spent Saturday night dying Easter eggs and reflecting on what the Bunny might bring, when the Bunny might come and why he might skip over our house if they didn’t go upstairs to bed right NOW! With a trio of two year olds, a feisty four year old and a six year old who is at times seriously sensible, the evening provided a few moments worth recalling and sharing.

 For starters, we struggled with the set-up. Since we don’t have enough stools at our counter for all five of our kids, we decided we’d put the triplets in their high-chairs for the annual decorating of the eggs. They were extremely excited and for some reason, we just assumed that at the tender age of two, they had a clue about what to do. We assumed they would instinctively know NOT to drink the egg dye. This, as it turns out, was a mistake — the kind of mistake that fortunately did not require a call to poison control but did require a bit of bleach in the next batch of laundry.

We also assumed they would know NOT to eat their newly decorated hard-boiled eggs. This too was a mistake — the type of egregious error that resulted in a half dozen pastel colored eggs being consumed rather than gracing their Easter baskets. If only you could have seen their gleeful faces as they smashed their newly dyed eggs on their high chair trays… I’ve seen that look before and it just might have been on Christmas morning. It was that good.

While the “Cubs” smashed and ate their eggs, Liam and Ciara were engaged in some healthy sibling bickering. “That’s my egg.” “No, it’s MINE!” “Mom, why did she get more than me?” “Dad, it’s not fair!” And so on. Then Liam asked, “How does the Easter Bunny get in the house? Does he come down the chimney?” I have to say, we were stumped by this one. How does the Easter Bunny get in the house? Does he walk (or hop?) in the front door? Climb through a window?

Well, perhaps not surprisingly, it was this line of speculation that ended up putting the fear of God — or perhaps more aptly put, the fear of the Easter Bunny — into all our kids. The notion of a six-foot bunny climbing through their bedroom window or thumpety-thumping on the roof above their heads was enough to send all of them scampering up to bed. It also led them to wonder “Does the Easter Bunny bite?” “Will he come into our room?” “Can we keep the Easter Bunny?” and, of course, from our little fella who “no like Santa”, “NO LIKE THE EASTER BUNNY!”

The upside of the bunny hysteria is that unlike most kids six and under, ours slept until 7:30 on Easter morning. And, they were pleasantly surprised to wake up without rabbit bites but rather, to discover baskets brimming with jelly beans and chocolate eggs (the aforementioned hard-boiled ones having been demolished and digested the night before!).
Today, it’s back to school. The baskets have been picked over, the church clothes are washed and the egg dying outfits now resemble funky new tie-dyes. I’ve always wished we celebrated Easter Monday here in the States but truly, I think it might have been just too much for the kids to take. Not to mention, if Easter Monday follows Easter Sunday, I’d just be left to explain why Easter Tuesday and Wednesday don’t come next. And, well, since I’m still trying to figure out how the Easter bunny gets in the house, I’m done with answering questions. For now, anyway!

When you have five kids and the oldest is only six, you realize that kids say a LOT of funny things. You also realize that as a parent, YOU say a lot of funny things. One of the things I will always remember saying is “Liam, please don’t drive your tractor through the feta cheese”. This is when I knew I had most certainly crossed a line and was most definitely not in Kansas anymore. I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the most silly, absurd, incongruous things that my kids and I have said in just the past few weeks and, invite you to share a few random remarks of your own. I’m sure that you and your tots are just as insane at times as me and mine… I hope you are anyway. If you’re not, it proves that I just might be insane! But, since I am willing to take that risk, here are a few of my recent favorites:

Last week, we took the kids out to celebrate Liam’s good report card. Mind you, Liam is only in first grade but he seems to be on the right track and that seemed to be worth celebrating so, last Thursday we went out to dinner and that event yielded a handful of colorful commentary:

  • As we loaded the kids into the car, explaining that we were headed out for a celebratory meal, Ciara whined from the backseat “But what about MEEEEE? Can we also celebrate that I wished upon a star?!” Really, this is true. If only I could get someone to take me out to dinner every time I wished upon a star!
  • After he begged, kicked and screamed for chocolate milk, we finally caved in and ordered it for our little man Cormac. Upon delivery, he took one look at it, pushed it away and loudly proclaimed: “NO LIKE IT! This milk is DIRTY!!!”
  • When Liam’s plate of mini-burgers and major fries arrived, he gobbled down the burgers and just picked at his fries, prompting me to ask “What’s the matter buddy, you don’t like them”? His response? “I do Mom but don’t you know that fries aren’t good for you?” So much for celebrating!

Last Saturday, we were taking the kid for haircuts and noticed a helicopter hovering overhead. I’d heard on the news that there had been a bank robbery a few towns away and commented that perhaps they were doing an aerial search for the bad guys. This prompted some priceless remarks, including:

  • From Ciara: “So Mom, do bad guys usually run on the right side or the left side of the street?”
  • From Liam: “I don’t think they usually run, do they Mom? Ciara, I think they will be the guys you see tip-toeing down the street all hunched over. They’ll probably be wearing black tights and masks.” Thank you, classic cartoons, for providing this timeless image of bad guys!
  • From the triplets in the third row of the mini-van: “Bad guys! Bad guys! I see bad guys! Over there! Bad guys over there!” I should have known. The pint-sized police are always on high alert!

This weekend prompted a classic. After 36 hours of tripping over Legos, blocks, trains and rocks (yes, the rock collection somehow made it inside!), we’d had it. The “clean up song” has lost its allure, the notion of teamwork wasn’t working and we were at our wits end. Des, who never loses his cool actually yelled at them. He yelled “IF YOU DON’T CLEAN THESE TOYS UP, I AM GETTING A TRASH BAG AND THROWING THEM ALL OUT!” Liam, unable to contain a giggle and a smirk was put on the hot seat. “You think it’s funny?!” , Des asked. “No Dad,” he responded with a grin. “I’m just thinking you’ve never done it before so you’re not going to do it now.”

Yikes. Where is the owner’s manual for these little people when you really need it?! Since I don’t have one, we’re just doing the best we can and trying to laugh as much as possible. If we don’t, I’m quite certain we will in fact go insane. Until then, I’ll keep sharing the crazy things our kids (and we!) say and hope that you will do the same.

As I mentioned in one of last week’s post, life with a trio of two-year olds tots most certainly has its ups and downs. Kevin, Declan and Cormac are as jolly as the day is long but, sometimes the day can be very long – and those are the days that tend to be the toughest. In the spirit of honoring my promise to share the “horrid” and dispel any myths that I’ve been brainwashed or medicated into believing that my children are truly cherubs, here are a few glimpses into the darker side of life in the Lyons Den.

You may recall the cherished moments I went on about last week… the sweet snuggles, the fantastic firsts, the belly laughs and how amazing it is to experience them all times three. Well, the same rationale applies to the downsides that you’d rather not recall – the spit up, runny noses, exploding diapers, temper tantrums and tiny tyrants – we’ve got all of those times three too! I get through the day by focusing on the positive – the smiles, the hugs and yes, even those snot-nosed sloppy kisses. But, I’d be remiss – -and downright dishonest – if I didn’t reveal some of the more trying times that our triplets provide.

For starters, there is the noise. The cacophony of three screaming toddlers (often amplified by their arguing siblings in the background) is sometimes just too much to bear. It gets insanely loud. There is just no more articulate way to put it. It is deafeningly, horrifyingly, maddeningly LOUD! And naturally, when the trio gets going, I’m not usually in my best form. I might be hungry or tired or ornery or stressed out (who wouldn’t be?!) and to my own dismay, often find myself screaming above the din just to be heard. Needless to say, that doesn’t work. You know what worked? The night I took the trash out and didn’t come back. Truth be told, I just didn’t come back as quickly as they expected. I deliberately took out the trash to get away from the noise, to clear my head, to get some fresh air. And I stayed outside long enough to do just that. Long enough to take a few deep breaths, look at the stars, pray for patience and brace myself to address the din inside. It was just a few minutes, less than five, I’d say. But you know what? When I walked in, it was quiet. You could hear a pin drop. This is a strategy that I’d highly recommend – I think it’s why they say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” – they just forgot to mention that it’s good to go back again!

Then there’s the mess. The “mess” can fall into any number of categories – food (in the form of literally “mashed” potatoes, flying hot dogs, spaghetti face and numerous other iterations), bodily functions (including but not limited to boogies as hair gel, poop as an art form and our home as a “Vomitorium”), toys (ranging from the piercing pain of Legos underfoot to the “wall as canvas” approach to arts and crafts). All of these “messes” are a natural part of having kids – or at least that’s what I tell myself to remain at least partially sane. But, when they are multiplied by three, well, let’s just say that even a Magic Eraser can’t help. Trust me, I’ve tried! Here’s the thing about the messes though – when we first thought about having kids, I had some real reservations – a fair amount of them rooted in the fear of the mess – sticky hands, runny noses, constant drooling – I really didn’t think I was up for any of it. But, it turns out, I am. There have been many things about parenting I didn’t think I was up for (most of it, in fact!) but, the many messes have shown me that learning to roll with it, to accept things as they are, is one of the best things about having kids… whether they arrive one at a time or in a bundle of three!

So, while it’s true that when they are good, they are very very good and when they are bad, they are horrid, Kevin, Declan and Cormac have taught me a lot about myself and that, I have to say, is very very good.