Last week it happened, my stay at home sabbatical came to a close. With mixed emotions I said good-bye to my tots and hello to the next phase of my so-called career. While I was (and still am!) excited for the opportunity, it was harder than expected to bid adieu to the more relaxed pace I’d become accustomed to over the past few weeks. Yes, that’s right, I said it was “relaxed” – staying home with my five little “Cubs” was somewhat relaxing as compared to the mad dash back to the rat race.

For starters, there’s the personal upkeep that I now must, well, upkeep! During my days at home, there were occasions when I jumped out of bed, into my running clothes, and stayed that way — regardless of whether or not I actually ran more than errands. Then there were the days I did actually run a few miles and still stayed in my workout wear. Both scenarios were shower-free and most days were makeup free. Not that I’m proud of it but, it really simplifies the morning routine when showers and mascara are optional!

While the morning exit strategy can be a bit of a challenge, the return to the Lyons Den is often far more dramatic and tonight was about as bad as it gets. Des got home at 5:30, having picked up both groceries and Liam from a playdate. The sitter left at 5:45. I got home at 6:00 to a scene that went something like this…. “Helloooo! I’m home!” followed by “Bye hon, sorry, gotta run, meeting tonight, started to put the groceries away but… ok, see you later!” “I HATE MY DINNER!!” “More milk please!” “I DON”T WANT this dinner!” “No like this dinner!” “I want Daddy!” “Where Daddy go?!” “I WANT DADDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Confused? Perhaps wondering who said what? Well, I was too. I was also wondering if these were the same sweet cherubs that I’d been so distraught to leave as I went back to work just last week. “Good God!” I thought, “These kids are a NIGHTMARE!!!!!”

Honestly, it was just one of those nights and it went even further downhill after the disaster that was dinner. I always put out the kids’ clothes the night before; it really simplifies our morning routine. However, now that Ciara has such strong opinions about what she wears, it really complicates the evening routine. I think I visibly cringed while envisioning the teenage years as she scowled at me tonight “I just DON’T LIKE fancy things and anything that looks good to YOU!” Anything?! Yikes! I was simply suggesting she wear a pair of jeans! Help!

Then, after Liam was tucked in, he got up proclaiming that he needed to change his PJs because he was just too hot. Too hot? It’s like twenty degrees outside and as the resident heat miser, I keep the heat at 64 when I’m feeling charitable so trust me, it was not too hot. As he changed his PJs, he asked me to “put Kirby’s pants on – with the hole in back for his tail, not in front for his pee-pee.” Really, like I thought his bear had a hole for that purpose?! What next? Well, of course, Ciara was now too hot in her PJs even though just the other night she literally went to bed wearing four pairs. FOUR pairs! I kid you not!

Meanwhile, down the hall, the triplets were in their cribs whooping it up. The little fellas who just moments before had taken turns on the potty (admittedly with limited success) had now filled their diapers with such a stench that it literally stopped me in my tracks. After changing three nasty poops, helping Ciara put PJs on her doll and convincing Liam that Kirby’s pants were indeed on properly, I wearily headed downstairs to get myself some dinner.

It was about 9:00 when I wandered back up, expecting to find five sweetly snoozing Lyons Cubs. Alas, it was not to be. While Liam and Ciara were in the Land of Nod, Kevin, Declan and Cormac had taken their kickin’ crib party to the next level. I found them wearing nothing but unsnapped onesies with a mountain of discarded items in the middle of the room — pjs, blankies, books, toys… and DIAPERS!!!!! Wow. Did I ever lose it. Especially when I noticed that two of three cribs were soaked with pee. Not a good way to end the day although, nights like these do make it a bit easier to kiss them good-bye in the morning!

This is the tale of three tots who were all tucked in
But then started to make quite a loud din
To the room I rushed as they giggled with glee
And what to my wondering eyes did I see?

Three little fellas bouncing up and down
No longer wearing pjs and acting like clowns
Their clothes were off, thrown to the floor
Little did I know what was in store.

On the ground with their pajamas were their blankies and their toys
Chattering and laughing were my little boys
“I have POO POO!” exclaimed one and then another
As each pointed a finger at another brother.

They were still wearing onesies so I wasn’t too alarmed
In fact they were cute, working their boyish charms.
I took the first guy out and changed his diaper quickly
When suddenly I noticed something that looked rather sickly.

It was another little fella with a smudge under his eye
“What do we have here?” I thought as I picked up the little guy.
“Poo poo!” he said as he grinned from ear to ear
And I let out a howl that I’m surprised you didn’t hear.

“POO POO!” he once more shouted, quite proud of what he’d done
As I wondered once again “who ever said motherhood was fun?!”
“Oh SH*T!” I thought to myself as I took a closer look…
It was under his nails, on his arms and legs and stuck in every nook.

It was on the crib, on the sheets, on the changing table too,
This was not the night I had in mind, I don’t mind telling you!
After a bath and a stern little chat back to bed my boy did go,
I think he was bragging to his brothers but I suppose I’ll never know.

I do know this and I’m not afraid to admit it,
These guys are really funny — even when covered in sh*t!  

Last week I had the good fortune to organize a girls night out with a bunch of local moms. Some I knew, some I didn’t and all seemed to have the same question: “Tell us about a typical day. What is it really like with all of those kids?”

One reply would be that there is nothing “typical” about any day in the Lyons Den. While routine reigns supreme, much like our rules, our routines are quite often broken. We do our best to just roll with it — something that does not come naturally to me! With that in mind, here’s a glimpse into a recent day… let’s call it Tuesday… a Tuesday when the sitter and I both had the day off from work and I was the full-time LyonsDenMOM that I love to be!
 5:45AM Wake up. Reluctantly drag sluggish self out of bed, bundle up for run, stagger to turn on coffee pot on way out.

6:00 AM Meet friends for cold, dark, icy morning run.

6:45 AM Return home feeling great and ready for the day ahead. Unload dishwasher, consume large cup of coffee.

7:00 AM Drag 1st grader out of bed. Poke, prod, prompt him to get dressed, eat breakfast , brush teeth, comb hair and bolt for bus.

7:30 AM Put boy on bus; take dog for walk.

8:10 AM Return from dog walk. Peek in at Princess PreSchooler; urge her to get up and get dressed

8:15 AM Greet boys bouncing in cribs. Literally. Two year old triplets are catching air as they greet me enthusiastically and in unison alternating between “How are you today?!” and “GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!”

8:30 AM Husband leaves. Early. Thought he was going to drop off Princess PreSchool but he can’t. Panic. Only have a half hour to get four kids fed and dressed and out the door!

9:15 AM Missed the deadline. Drop the Princess off. Late. Again.

9:30 AM Back home. Cubs still need breakfast and are due at “Stepping Stones” in fifteen minutes. Devise a quick game of “Pass the Banana” to get some nutrition in them before bolting out the door again.

9:45 AM Cubs class starts.

10:00 AM We arrive. Hang three coats, gather three hats and six mittens. Wash six hands. I depart amid sweet protests of “No Go Mama!”

10:10 AM Home. House looks like a tornado went through it. Time to make beds, tidy cribs, clean kitchen, thrown in laundry and take a shower.

11:35 AM No time for shower. Again. Arrive to pick up Cubs (5 minutes late); wrestle them into hats, coats and mittens; begin walk to pick up Princess PreSchool. Realize we will never make there on time. Again.

11:55 AM Shortcut turns into long-cut due to ice and snow. Barely survive nature’s slip & slide as I make three trips to get triplets up and over snow bank. Thankfully, Princess PreSchool and her teachers are forgiving as we literally slide in the door. Late. Again.

12:00 PM Sun is shining, kids are bundled up, this Mom is feeling game and decides for some outside playtime before stopping for pizza on way home.

12:30 PM Pizza and juice boxes followed by the resistance and rebelliousness one might expect from a trio of tired two year olds and their feisty four year old sister.

1:15 PM Head home. Ten minute walk turns into 45 minute crawl with avid attention given to Con Ed workers, snow plows, dump trucks, even delivery trucks. My curious Cubs stop to take it all in. Tedious, yes, but so far this still beats a day in the office!

2:00 PM Home at last. Already well past nap time. Need to quickly bathe triplets and tuck them in so I can bolt back to bus stop for 2:30 pick up. I can’t be late; if I’m not there, they will return my 1st grader to school and that would really screw up my afternoon!

2:35 PM 1st grader flies off bus and into my arms with a huge grin. I love this day.

2:45 PM 1st grader and Princess PreSchooler brawling as triplets scream from cribs. I hate this day.

3:00 PM Snack time for “big kids” as I sort mail and consider what to do for dinner. Roast chickens (yep, we need two of ‘em!) sound good. Plan to put them in at 4:00.

3:15 PM Can’t stand the bickering anymore. Turn TV on and sort through hurricane of hand-me-downs as big kids absorb mindless drivel courtesy of Yo Gabba Gabba and Wow Wow Wubzy. Who comes up with this stuff?!

4:30 PM OMG! How is it 4:30?! Why are there piles of clothes (2T, 3T, 5T Girls!) covering every surface of my living room?! What about the chickens? We’re supposed to eat at 6:00! Must put chickens in oven NOW!!

5:18 PM Chickens are in. Took longer than expected. Big kids finishing another snack. Little kids up from nap; angry and demanding “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” They no longer ask “How are you today?!” 

5:20 PM Bath time for big kids; diaper change for little guys. All are singing and jolly now. I love this day.

6:00 PM Chickens not done, five kids hungry and screaming. I am exhausted, aching and ready to tear my hair out. I hate this day!

7:00 PM Feed kids cooked bits of chicken as they polish off another gallon of milk. They tell Dad about playing “Pass the Banana”, going out for pizza and how cool it was to see me at the bus stop. I love this day.

So, that’s it! Nothing “typical” about it beyond the prevailing chaos and frequent ups and downs that I’m sure are familiar to most moms. As for me, well, I admit that sometimes it’s a break to go to work but, I relish my time at home and truly do love these days.

It came, it lingered, it kind of kicked our ass, and now it’s just a memory. The 2010 ING New York Marathon. Sunday was the big day. My husband Des ran like a rock star. Well, maybe that’s not quite the right analogy but, you get the gist of it. He ran 26.2 miles and crossed the coveted finish line with a smile. Not that I saw it, mind you — I was running down Central Park West, bobbing and weaving my way through weary marathoners and their families in a desperate attempt to see my man cross the finish line. My day was a marathon of sorts in its own right and it went something like this…

5:30AM: Husband wakes me from snuggly slumber; informs me it’s time to drive him to the bus that will deliver him to the starting line in Staten Island

6:15 AM: Kids wake up.  All five of them. Thanks Daylight Savings time, that’s just what I needed!

6:30-9:30AM: Feed kids, dress kids, make beds, tidy rooms, empty dishwasher, walk dog, pack provisions… LOTS of provisions… granola bars, cereal bars, cheese sticks, yogurts, apples, PB&J sandwiches, water bottles, juice boxes, goldfish, fruit snacks and more!

9:30-10:00: Load tots and provisions into car. Double check for five hats, five pairs of mittens, two double strollers, blankets, camera, posters, change of clothes (and Advil!) for Des post-marathon, change of clothes for kids in case of unforeseen vomit/crap-out/rainstorm or other potential disaster

10:00-10:15: Repeat the Hail Mary as I leave kids double-parked in running car while obtaining three green balloons (our visual marker for Des to locate us on the sidelines)

10:15 – 11:00: Drive into city while trying to explain to five kids under six why they will still see their Dad even though they saw the marathon start on TV and are convinced they already saw him run by; the notion of distance, time, and staggered starts is not making an impression on them; simultaneously explain why I can’t drive on the West Side Highway while administering their typical in-transit snack and beverage service

11:00-11:30 Locate parking garage, ditch car, unload contents as described above, say more Hail Mary’s that my parents arrive before I lose a triplet on Amsterdam Ave.

11:30-12:00: My parents arrived! Load all kids and assorted sundries into two cabs across town, unload once again, assemble strollers, load with supplies and proceed to our first viewing spot: 92nd and 1st

12:15: Panic. “Athlete Alert” informs me that Des is running a 19 minute mile and has an estimated 8 hour/53 minute finish time. Initial thoughts: “OMG, he’s hurt” followed by “Sh*t! I didn’t bring enough to keep them busy for almost 9 hours!”

12:30-1:15: Juggle, struggle, muddle, cuddle, bounce, bop. Anything to keep the kids contained and entertained while we wait for Des to run by. Optimism prevails as murmurs on 1st Ave. confirm that “Athlete Alerts” have gone AWOL.  Faith is restored. My man is on his way.

1:20: He arrives! He looks great!  He’s run over 17 miles! As planned, I hop in to run a few with him in hopes of keeping him from “hitting the wall”. I abandon my parents on 92nd and 1st with five kids, two strollers, all the crap we’ve lugged in for the day and instructions to meet me at the finish — 67th and Central Park West. I look back, see the fear on their faces, wish them luck and then I run. I don’t look back again.

1:20-2:20: I run six glorious miles with Des. What fun! Up First Ave., over the Willis Avenue bridge, into the Bronx, out of the Bronx, through Harlem and down Fifth Avenue to Central Park. There are bands, choirs, a cheering crowd and refreshments along the way… this is great! Then it dawns on me.  My mile six is everyone else’s mile 24… and it sucks to be them. And I am imposter!  I chirp to Des that he’s done it, the worst is behind him, that from here on it’s literally just a walk in the park and then, with promises to see him at the finish line, I jump out of the race and into the Park.

2:30 I know it will take Des about 20 minutes to reach the finish line.  The clock is ticking as I battle the crowds. I don’t know where my parents or kids are. I am freezing cold. I realize that in the frenzy of the day, I haven’t had breakfast or lunch and I start to regret that I didn’t take a banana or Goo when the nice people on 5th Ave. offered it!

2:35 I literally stumble across my family while cutting across the Great Lawn. A triplet is gagging and turning blue in his stroller. No one knows why. My four year old mentions he may have been given a gumball. I freak out, pull him out, and pound it out of him. Then I rather curtly inform those closest to my heart that they won’t make it to see Des at the finish but I must try so, once again, good bye!

2:36-2:56 I am alternatively stuck/climbing fences/dodging weary runners and racing down Central Park West to get to the finish. I finally arrive to see a text from a friend “Congrats Des, you did it!” I am too late. I am crushed.

3:00-3:45 I get pushed into the post-marathon runners corrale. I can’t find Des, I can’t get in touch with my parents. I am still cold, tired , hungry and suddenly surrounded by like-minded folks with one teeny exception… they just ran 26.2 miles and have a medal and a warming blanket. I have nothing but a bunch of texts congratulating the husband I can’t find.

4:00 I find him! I hug him. I kiss him. I cry. A lot. It’s over. And, while I missed his photo-finish, I realize that I also missed the point. The point is that he did it. He made it. He achieved his goals – physically, emotionally, even financially. He raised thousands of dollars to fight lung cancer, ran through the five boroughs and crossed the finish line with a smile on his face.

As for me, well, next year I just might make t-shirts that say Run Mom Run because truth be told, I too covered a lot of miles on marathon day!

I’m not convinced that my little Lyons Cubs had a happy Halloween. And, the more I think about it, the more I realize that until kids are three or four, Halloween is really more for the parents than for them. Personally, I’ve taken great joy in dressing mine up in ways that I find amusing and entertaining because, hey, they really can’t talk back yet and it makes for a good (FUNNY!) photo op.

This year, while my five-year old fluctuated between being Derek Jeter and an astronaut, it was easy enough to humor him and let him be both; he had a strong opinion, there were no dollars attached to creating the Jeter uniform and he made a good argument – he didn’t want to preview his “real” Halloween costume at school on Friday. Fair enough.

Our four year old decided to be a dragon. We found ourselves in TJ Maxx a few weeks ago and were drawn to the costumes near checkout. I was proud of her for switching up the princess theme from last year, for shunning the stereotypical costume for something a bit more unexpected. Although, I’d be remiss to not mention that at times, her behavior would peg her as a dragon – no costume required! To her credit, she was a very nice, very cute dragon; as she put it, “I am Puff the Magic Dragon and my fire will only kill you if you’re mean to me.” Yep. Lesson learned – don’t be mean to this little lady!

Then there are the triplets. They just turned two a few weeks ago and as far as I’m concerned, have no say in Halloween. Which is why I turned them into the Lyons Cubs. Just one look tells you that they weren’t thrilled with my choice – especially since I turned their day upside down in my attempts to have everyone well rested for the town parade, which started at 2:15, right in the middle of naptime!  A smarter, kinder mom may have skipped the parade. Perhaps she would have suggested that Dad take the two big kids while I stay home with our napping Cubs. Nope, not me. Here’s what I did:

I stuck them in their cribs after church, just a bit past noon. Though they were confused and saying “Lunch mama, need lunch mama”, I said “Nope, you need a nap! You need a nap NOW so that you’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the big parade!” In fairness, they had a large, late breakfast and I don’t think they were starving but still, as they murmured something about cheese and crackers, I slammed the door and went to dig out the lion costumes. When I went to get them up at 1:30, it was clear that they never slept and were now quite drowsy and quite possibly hungry as well. So, I did what any sane Mom trying to be punctual to the parade would do, I stuffed them in their costumes, told them they could have a snack later and hurried them out the door.

From what I can tell, my tiny trio of Lyons must think that Halloween is a day when you get put in your crib without lunch, taken out when you’re on the verge of sleep and extreme hunger, stuffed into a too small, scratchy outfit, are subjected to ridicule, bright flashes and the oohs and aahs of an endless stream of strangers and then, just when you’ve gotten the hang of a bizarre ritual called “trick or treat” — when you’re finally allowed to climb the neighbor’s stairs and, better yet, there is a lollipop waiting at the top — Mom whisks you away, takes your pop, force feeds you some dinner and plunks you back into your crib. And we wonder that little kids are scared by Halloween?!

Boys Will Be Boys

September 25th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in boys | family | kids sports | Laughter and Disaster - (0 Comments)

My poor daughter and I are surrounded by boys in every sense of the word. Even our dog is a boy. And even our dog seems to revel in the primal pleasure of burping and farting in a way that I’m certain I will never understand.

In our house, while I’d like to think that I rule the roost, I am woefully outnumbered and consistently amazed and slightly horrified by just how much boys will be boys and how young it all starts. I remember when our firstborn was about one and a half, he looked at me with outright glee and said ‘FART!”. I instantly shot my husband a stern look that clearly said “where the hell did he learn that and do you really think it’s appropriate for a kid under two to be joyfully exclaiming FART?!” and then I sweetly looked at my little lad and said “No, no. Not fart. Toot.” And then he and my husband roared with laughter as if to say “is she serious?! What a loser! Guys don’t TOOT, we FART!” And so it began.

Our triplets are just about the age our first guy was when he discovered the joy of flatulation. And they are equally exuberant. I sometimes feel like a poo-poo prisoner because though they are not yet two, they have figured out the one way to get Mom’s undivided attention is to shout with all their might “Poo Poo Potty!!! POO POO POTTY!!!!!” So, I take them, one by one to sit on the potty. They hold me hostage as I rub their back, sing them songs, tell stories and urge them to poop or pee or do something other than hold me against my will in our dirty bathroom. And you know what my reward is? The occasional fart! The stinky fart (most certainly NOT a tender toot!) has become the first inking of potential success with the poo-poo potty training. Ah, the irony of it all.

And then there are the sports. Our oldest is in first grade and just started soccer. In addition to the identity issues this creates for me (am I now a “soccer mom”? what does that even mean?!), it frankly destroys our weekends. Practice on Saturday, games on Sunday. My five year old races energetically down the field while my husband plays the role of assistant coach and I tear up the field in my own way while trying to corral our other four kids and keep them off the field/out of the goal/away from the ball. It’s the same kind of fun I had when T-ball started in the spring except that now my kids are bigger and faster and it’s harder to catch them!

The triplets love to get in the game – any game. They are obsessed with balls. … soccer balls, soft balls, baseballs, tennis balls, footballs, beach balls, golf balls, lacrosse balls, you name it, they love it. They’re even starting to enjoy their own personal sets, if you know what I mean. Their limited vocabulary is fairly fluent in the language of sport – “pass”, “catch”, “out”, “my turn” are a part of their daily vernacular. And regrettably “NO BALLS IN THE HOUSE” has become part of mine.

Of course, beyond playing sports, watching them has become a favorite pastime. While the triplets are already chanting “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, JETS!,” our five year old cries when bedtime arrives before the Yankee game ends and then demands to watch Sports Center when he wakes up. Heaven help me and my little lady… especially since, much to my dismay, all my little fellas seem to enjoy watching any sort of ball game while clutching their own. My husband assures me this is all normal (as he asks me to move so he can see the score of the game) and utters with an admittance and acceptance that I’m starting to understand, “Boys will be boys.”

“The babies are coming, the babies are coming!” The urgent call from Liam and Ciara is as sincere and urgent as Paul Revere’s famous warning… because they know that if the babies are coming, destruction can’t be far behind. Our “babies” are now truly toddlers and with 19 month old triplets freely roaming around the house, it is officially a demolition derby around here.

As the “babies” race down the hall, Liam and Ciara run to their room and slam the door to protect their Lego creations and dollhouse from disaster. As I yell “Don’t slam the door! Someone will get hurt!” the three tots who’ve been stopped in their tracks erupt into tears. Perhaps their feelings are hurt or possibly they are startled by the loud slam of the door… and then there’s always the chance that someone is missing a finger from the whole incident –it’s hard to tell in the general melee that ensues!

This type of chaos is the new “normal” as we adjust to life with our three man destruction crew. They fill their days by climbing on benches, window sills, chairs and book cases, taking great pride and glee in their newfound abilities. Though I’ve never been to a rainforest, I imagine that the monkeys swinging from the trees are much like my little men swinging from the curtains… cute, but a bit perilous at the same time. One of their greatest joys is dancing on the coffee table. They help each other up – one, two, three – and then, when they’re amply settled, they start waving their hands in the air like they just don’t care. Kind of reminds me of a very late night in a bar many years ago… a scene that I never thought I’d see reenacted by a trio of one year olds… all of whom belong to me!

Obviously, the time has come to take our baby-proofing a bit more seriously. With our first two kids, some simple rules accompanied by outlet plugs and a gate at the top of the stairs pretty much did the trick but these guys seem to need some more stringent baby barriers. They swing on the gate, have been known to remove (and then teeth on) the outlet covers and have unfortunately discovered the joy of playing in the toilet bowl and twirling the knobs on the stove. Sending them out to the yard doesn’t help – at any given moment, they may be teetering on top of the slide, picnic table or steps.

A few months ago, we had a bunch of friends over for dinner and upon noticing our numerous book cases and lack of obvious baby barricades, one of them remarked “Aren’t you brave?! I can’t imagine having so many kids around so many books and breakables!” Well, we would have been wise to heed the hint back then and take this baby-proofing stuff a bit more seriously. In retrospect, we’re most certainly not brave, just a bit naïve and perhaps even foolish! With the “terrible twos” looming in our future, I just hope we all survive that long. I suspect we will, likely with the help of a bit more baby-proofing and hopefully without a trip to the emergency room!

Last Friday, I took our triplets for their 18-month check up. It was to be a routine appointment… height, weight, maybe a shot or two… or three… all the standard stuff. On the ride over though, it occurred to me there is really no such thing as a “routine” trip to the pediatrician.

I can’t help but recall one of our most eventful visits, when I had all three babies by myself – as I often do. It was last fall and we were going for flu shots. I can’t remember if it was swine flu or seasonal flu or the first dose or second… with so many kids getting so many shots, I kind of lost track… yet another parenting reality that I’m not so proud of but, there it is. In any case, I had raced home from work, thrown the kids in the car and sped away without so much as a wipe along for the ride. Big mistake.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I heard a strange, gurgling noise coming from the back seat and just as I put the car into park, Kevin puked all over himself. No problem, I thought, this is easy. I just whipped him out of the fleece he was fortunately wearing, wiped him down with the inside of a clean sleeve and popped him into the stroller. The double stroller. I have to take the double stroller vs. the triple to the doctor’s office because the triple doesn’t fit in the elevator or through the doors. Which left me single-handedly pushing a double-stroller while lugging along my third one year old. I must say, they didn’t look too happy to see us when we walked through the door fifteen minutes late and smelling like puke.

“How’s everyone feeling today?” the nurse asked with a forced smile. “Oh, fine! Just fine!” I replied. I’d gone down this track before – this was at least our fifth visit for flu shots. We kept going and kept getting denied because someone had a cold or an ear infection or a fever and they refused to give us the damn shot. Vomit hadn’t come up before so, I thought it best to keep it to myself lest be denied the coveted flu vaccine once again. As I rolled the double stroller and dragged my kids into the tight exam room, a different nurse approached us with a thermometer and a glint in her eye. “So, they’re all fine, you say?” “Um, yeah, I think so. I mean, Kevin might have spit up a bit on the way over but I think he’s ok.” And that was it. Out came the thermometer and down went my hopes for ever leaving with three vaccinated kids.

Sure enough, two of three had fevers – and yes, one was Kevin, King of the Back Seat Hurl. So, despite my best efforts, just one kid got just one shot because of course, they were now out of the swine flu vaccine. As I sighed and tried to keep my cool, I realized that I now had several return trips in my future – and the associated scheduling nightmare that goes along with a trio of tots who needs lots of shots.

As I juggled my babies and blackberry to check available dates, someone in the waiting room gasped, a kid screamed “EW! GROSS!” and a kind woman gently pointed and said “One of them just threw up. A lot. Oh you poor dear, you really have your hands full.” Huh. Now what to do? It was Kevin again. And he’d already been stripped of his fleece. And he was soaked to the skin and my only available supplies were the tissues the nice lady kept handing to me. That’s when I noticed the pumpkin costume in the bottom of the stroller and couldn’t help but smile. While the waiting room watched in horror and I kept Cormac and Declan entertained with my wallet and car keys, I stripped Kev down to his diaper, popped him in the pumpkin costume, bid them all adieu and rolled us all out.

So, while last Friday’s visit was certainly no walk in the park and I did have to juggle three babies with three shots each all by myself, it was a relatively routine trip by comparison. I remembered my diaper bag (although I forgot the sippy cups which might have stopped the post-shot screaming) and the nurse with the glint in her eye seemed to have a newfound respect for us. The way I see it, there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a little ingenuity and good humor – even if it means leaving the pediatrician in a pumpkin costume.

This may come as a surprise to you… in fact, it still comes as kind of a surprise to us but, my husband and I really aren’t baby people. Given that there was a short window where we had five kids under four, you’d think we’d be those schmoopie types that just melt at the sight of a newborn and can’t enough of that new baby scent. The reality is we’ve never gone to extremes to ooh and aah over someone else’s precious new babe and it took us a while to warm up to each of our own. Furthermore, we still don’t know what people mean when they bring up the glory of that new baby smell; all our babies always smelled like spit up and dirty diapers, perhaps with a whiff of sweet potatoes thrown in. Not something to get all nostalgic about, if you ask us!

Although we tend to tolerate more than celebrate the first year of life, we can’t help but admit that the old cliché is true and time flies by far too fast. Our triplets officially turn 18 months this week and can hardly be called babies. They are independent, interesting and at times intolerant little individuals. Their onesies don’t fit and their toes are busting out of their footie pajamas. They’ve taunted us by climbing up and unfortunately, falling down the stairs. While fingers are still their favorite utensils, they’ve experimented (with limited success) with spoons and forks and seem to be trying their best to cultivate some table manners. Their bottles have been history for months – a sure sign that the baby days are behind us and the toddler years have arrived. As I watch them babble, banter, toddle and tumble, I can’t help but reflect that these guys are in the midst of a somewhat awkward age that no one really talks about. Let me share some observations…

They are expert walkers but look like they have two left feet when they try to run. They are not bald yet they still don’t have much hair to speak of; what they do have resides on top of their rather large heads in free-form wisps – at times resembling the comb-over look associated with desperate old men and at times cascading down to the rat-tail look that thankfully went out in the 80s. They have very big bellies that sometimes turn the corner before the rest of their little bods. They have some teeth, but not all of them – a look which was adorable with the first few but now looks like the Tooth Fairy is playing a trick on them. They try to talk but are constantly misunderstood… or so they would lead me to believe!

When it comes to teenagers, we expect and anticipate the “awkward age” but when it comes to babies, well, I for one sure didn’t! And, after seeing how quickly our baby days became simply fodder for photo albums, I know that this funny, strange and endearing phase will pass all too quickly. Before we know it, they’ll be out of their highchairs, deciding to wear what they want to wear and running so fast that I can’t keep up. Which is exactly why I’m going to do my best to just take a deep breath and enjoy this time that I know is both precious and fleeting. Not to mention, as soon as these guys can talk, they just might point out that I’m in an awkward phase too… with my fading highlights, rapidly reproducing grays, a few extra pounds and a severely outdated wardrobe, who am I to pass judgement?!

Note: This post originally appeared on www.parentsask.com on April 12, 2010.

Let me give you a rundown of the past ten days or so… and, I apologize that this is a bit lengthy but I implore you to hang in there and read to the end… this is a good one!

On March 26th, I had major abdominal surgery — the details of which I just may share another time but for now, suffice it to say, this operation made the three c-sections I had look like a walk in the park. Things were going relatively well (thanks to Vicodin and my family taking the kids for a few days) until Wednesday, the 31st. That’s when the puking began. It was Declan, Ciara, and Cormac, each of whom seemed to take a 6 hour shift of almost continuous hurling. Declan had the 4PM-10PM shift; Ciara took 9PM – 3AM and Cormac followed up from 1AM-7AM… leading us into Thursday, April 1st. Though it was April Fools Day, it turns out that Des wasn’t kidding when he asked me where we keep the crib sheets. You see, due to that aforementioned surgery, I’m on the disabled list. I’m supposed to be benched — sitting on the sidelines peacefully recovering from having my insides rearranged. As such, I wasn’t much help with kids overnight or in cleaning up the aftermath… and, not that I’d wish it on him, but a part of me thinks that after 18 months of not knowing where we keep the crib sheets, Des was long overdue to find out!

In any case, much of Thursday passed without much ado. It was just the occasional hurl accompanied by a lot of dirty diapers and sadly, my last little pain pill. As the sitter strode off into the sunset, Des strolled in complaining that his stomach hurt. Rather than any sort of empathetic, kind or loving response, I gave him the “Buck up, Big Boy” speech. It went something like “No it doesn’t. Your stomach doesn’t hurt. It can’t hurt. We need you! We can’t afford to have another man down around here!” Then, he made an odd gurgling sound, ran for the bathroom and slammed the door… proving once again that I am not always right!

Thus began a solid 72 hours of violent vomiting and its equivalent from the other end. I’ve never seen my poor husband so sick in my life and personally, I’ve never experienced such pain! The only thing worse than puking your brains out for days on end is doing it less than a week after abdominal surgery! Ouch!

For the first time in my life, I had to wave the white flag of surrender. I called my parents at 11:00 that night and had to confess that I needed them. Bad. Bless their souls for showing up at 8:30 Friday morning to a putrid stench and horrific scene… Des and I sprawled in bed in a semi-comatose state. Three babies in saggy, leaky overnight diapers filled with diarrhea. A five year old literally asleep on the vomit-covered bathroom floor. And a spunky three year old on the rebound, trying to make herself breakfast.

Over the next few days (including Easter), my parents, sister, brother-in-law and aunt tended to our injured troops like battle-weary commandos. They did laundry, changed sheets, changed diapers and administered doses of Pedialyte, Gatorade and ginger ale. And then, they went down too. First my Dad, followed by my brother-in-law. They went down one by one, running to the bathroom and groaning with a pain I knew all too well.

On Monday, just as we thought the worst was behind us, another valued family member bit the dust. Yes my friends, our mighty Maytag. It might have survived the Swine Flu but the Lyons Virus was just too much. After days upon days of continuous service with no rest and no gratitude for the pounds of nasty puke and crap encrusted garments it dutifully cleaned, the poor thing finally just blew a gasket. Literally.

It happened just as my aunt happened to be passing by and decided to check in on us. As she put it, “timing is everything”… for just as she arrived, a thick black smoke started billowing out of our basement prompting her to call 911 quicker than I could say “Hi Auntie Pat! What are you doing here?!” I slowly made my way downstairs just as the entire fire department, including the fire chief and two police cars pulled in front of the house and started gearing up.

Always one to look on the bright side, here are my key takeaways from our ten days in hell:

1. Avoid puking after abdominal surgery at all costs

2. Give daily thanks for family members who will rescue you when you need it most

3. Try on “skinny pants” as they will surely now fit

4. Thank fire department for providing child-friendly entertainment

5. Appreciate opportunity to buy new energy-efficient washer; I’m told we will save zillions!

So, there you go… though the Lyons Den was briefly renamed the Vomitorium, we are back on track and look forward to meeting our new washing machine one day soon!