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I suppose this post is less of a “tip” and more of a “‘quip”… or perhaps, more aptly put, simply the latest in my musings on motherhood….

Last month, the “baby” of one of my good friends turned five.  “Hey,” she said to me, “we made it!  We did it! We don’t have babies anymore.”  Her tone was a bit more sad than celebratory as we both reflected on her words. It was true.  We made it.  We did it! We survived sleepless nights, “terrible twos”, potty training and preschool.   And somehow, that made us both just a little bit sad as we looked at the frolicking five-year olds in front of us.

Two weeks ago, a woman I work with was talking about her son.  Her “baby” is enjoying his first year of college.  In so many ways, she felt like she did it.  She made it.  She survived 18 years of motherhood, the last few punctuated by band practices and college applications.  She raised a responsible young man who is studying at the school of his dreams.  Finally, she can sleep at night.  Until that night when the phone rang.  The road was icy.  The car spun out.  Thank God everyone was ok.  But sleepless nights have returned.  The worry is back.

A few days ago, we took our clan out to dinner. It was the first day of spring, my husband just finished a huge project for work and last but not least, we had five (FIVE!) good report cards to celebrate.  As we ambled into the restaurant, we bumped into friends dining solo – just the parents; no kids.  “They didn’t want to come with us,” he said.  “One is babysitting, one is at a friend’s house and one just doesn’t like to be seen with us,” she said.  This got me thinking.  Yikes.  That could be us one day.  One day much sooner than I expect.  Or am ready for.

Last Monday, I met my parents, my brother and his girlfriend for St. Patrick’s Day – a holiday near and dear to our Irish roots.  We met for lunch, took in the parade and then went to warm up over a cold pint and clever conversation.  When my brother and his girlfriend left, I noticed my mom’s eyes well up with tears.  “What is it Mom?”   “He’s happy,” she said.  “I’m just so glad he’s happy.”   And that’s when I realized, this parenthood thing never ends.

Until, perhaps, the unthinkable happens and it does.  They say no parent should outlive a child, but it happens.  And from what I can tell, there’s nothing worse.

Yesterday, we went to a memorial service.  He was 50; Mom was 80.  Give or take a few years.  It doesn’t matter.  It was heart-wrenching.  Gut wrenching. Tragic.  Wrong. Incomprehensible.  I suppose you might say he was a grown man.  But that doesn’t change the fact that he was a son, her son.  The sad sad scene reminded me of a favorite bedtime story we read when our children were younger, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch, which has a line that repeats again and again:

I’ll love you forever,
 I’ll like you for always, 
As long as I’m living, 
my baby you’ll be.

These words brought tears to my eyes each time we read it, as they do now.  As they did last night, when I watched a mother say a final good-bye to her son.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed other mother’s milestones on this journey we call parenthood –  rites of passage: turning five;  going to college; seeking independence; finding happiness. It’s what we wish for our children.  And then it struck me, at some point all of our wishes are for our children.  For their health and happiness.  For their longevity.

It doesn’t always work out that way.  And so, with another mother’s pain etched firmly in my memory, all I can do is try harder to live in the moment as I prepare for the rocky road ahead, for the inevitable twists and turns of motherhood.  Knowing, as I do, that always and forever, my babies they’ll be.

labels for organizing hand me downsI’ve always been a bit of a frugal fannie… keeping (and eating) leftovers a few days past their prime, squeezing every last bit out of the toothpaste tube and collecting coupons and discount offers like it’s a sport (one of the few I’m actually good at!).  It should come as no surprise then, that I am quite handy with hand-me-downs.

I saved our firstborn’s clothes for our second and even though #1 was a boy and #2 was a girl, she wore his pajamas, snow pants and other gender-neutral essentials.  When we found out that #3 was going to be triplets, my hand-me-down instinct kicked into high gear and that’s where it’s been ever since.  Here’s how I handle the bins, bags, and boxes that keep our clan of five covered, clothed and warm.

  • Ask.  Yep, you heard me.  Don’t be afraid to ask your friends, cousins and playground pals if they want to swap, share or hand things down.  Many moms will offer but if they don’t, don’t hesitate to ask.  Most people are thrilled to see their tiny favorites worn again by someone else’s little tot and even gladder to see bigger ticket items like highchairs and cribs get “recycled” by people they know.
  • Sort.  I have a good friend—several in fact – who routinely drop off a bag or two of clothes for our clan.  I am grateful for all of it.  But I can’t keep ALL of it.  My daughter just won’t wear frilly dresses (which I’ve finally come to accept!) and thrifty l as I am, I’m not sending my kids to school in torn t.shirts or putting them to bed in stained pajamas (unless they actually created that tear or stain in which case, it’s fine!).  As a general rule, I go through items as they come in and put the “keepers” in clear labeled bins (BOYS 5T SUMMER or  GIRLS SIZE 7 WINTER or COATS/BOOTS – a catch all for seasonal items) and put the “gifts that keep on giving” into a bag for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, who I then call to schedule a pick up.
  • Store.  With a house that’s over a hundred years old, closet space is minimal while basement dampness isn’t.  What’s a gal to do?  Put shelves in the basement, run a dehumidifier always, label with care, and put a moisture-wicking packet in each and every bin.  It works, I swear. Oh, and two ideas for labeling — try these adorable free downloadables from ButtonedUp or invest in a label maker and let your inner Type A shine.
  • Just say no.  There will come a point when you may realize, as I recently have, that there can be too much of a good thing.  Remember all those people you asked?  Well, they do too.  Which is lovely.  But there is just no way I will ever need eight pairs of size 5T snow pants or boots.  So, there’s come a time when you may have to just say no.  Don’t be afraid to – I can assure you there’s a mom down the block who would be happy to just say yes!

Last but not least, enjoy… and occasionally splurge!  You know how those cute catalogs arrive in your mailbox each spring and fall?  The ones featuring happy smiling kids with the latest swimwear or snow suits?  Well, they put me in a panic.  “Crap!” I think as I do the mental math on how much it will cost to buy five new bathing suits (and swim shirts to cover their fair skin) or winter coats, boots and gloves times five.  Then I pause, sigh, and head downstairs to the hand me down bins.  More often than not, everything I need is in them.  And if it’s not, well, it feels great to open up one of those catalogs and get everyone something new. With all the money we’ve saved over the years, we deserve it.  They deserve it.  And when they’ve outgrown it, I will be more than happy to hand it down!

Since one of my resolutions was to post weekly (at least for the month of January!), it seems sensible to make one of these posts about keeping resolutions — especially as mid-January and the temptation to call it quits approaches.  Here are a few common commitments we tend to make as the New Year dawns, along with my two cents (or “Tuesday Tips”, however you want to look at it!) for how to keep them:

  • Want to save more? Me too! At work, we recently had a Financially Fearless House Party which was well timed and full of good advice, including these three simple ways to save:
    • Put every $5 bill you get in an envelope.  It’s like turbo-charging that jar full of spare change.  One of my colleagues saved over $250 in just a few months!
    • Participate in your company’s 401k plan.  Max it out if you can. Contributing as much pre-tax money as possible not only increases your retirement savings but it decreases your taxable income.
    • College savings keeping you up at night?  Find a 529 plan and get started.  You can contribute as much or as little as you like but knowing your kids will have something to get their schooling started should give you some sweet dreams.
  • Want to exercise more?
    • Find a friend and hold each other accountable.  Meet at the gym, the park, the mall or wherever it is that you plan to work out, run, walk and get that body moving.  If you know a friend is waiting for, you’re much more likely to leave the remote and leap out of the house.
    • Set a goal.  Not one of those “lose five pounds” kind of a goal but one that focuses on fitness – on not just looking better, but feeling better – feeling accomplished.  Maybe it’s a local charity walk or a 5k run.  Maybe it’s a long-distance bike ride or simply showing up for spin class for four consecutive weeks.  Whatever it is, grab your pal, do it together and then go out and celebrate the new healthier you.
  • Want to be more present?  I do.  And a quick look back through this blog shows that I’ve been striving for this for a while now.  In our multi-tasking, always-on culture, it’s not easy but I’m hoping these tips will help… me and you!
    • Tune out the tech and tune in to what’s around you.  When you get home from work (or wherever your day takes you), put your phone away.  Far far away.  And try not to peek until the kids are tucked in.  Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind, as I can attest but it is harder to constantly check your email and texts when your phone is either buried at the bottom of your bag or charging upstairs.
    • Remember you’re not that important.  OK, maybe you are.  To your kids, your spouse, your friends and family.  But not to that beeping, buzzing device that you’re betrothed too… and I am too.  Unless it’s that aforementioned kid, spouse, friend or family member, ignore the buzzing of your phone and be aware of the people in front of you; be with them, really with them.  Give them your full attention.  They are the most important – and the reason why we make resolutions to begin with. Not to mention, it’s hard to tell your kid to put down his phone/iPad/Leapster/whatever he has when you can’t do it yourself!

As for me, I plan to tackle my writing by setting aside time each week.  I scheduled it on my calendar and barring a barfing kid, overload at work or some other unforeseen crisis (Leaky pipe? Dog with an ear infection? Any of these things are possibilities!), I will get it done.  And I hope you’ll tune back in next Tuesday for a topic near and dear to me:  how to YELL less at our children. And my husband.  And… well, you get it.  The following week, I’ll tackle hand-me-downs, a key to our survival and a special request from Britta at Hudson and Hill.

Something you’d like me to share?  Please let me know.  And good luck with those resolutions. I’m signing off and going to tune in to the tots at home!

 

If you look and feel like this, you probably need a time out!

This is what it means to be a mom -- and why you may need a time out!

It’s no coincidence that this, my first Tuesday Tip in quite some time, is being written and posted on Wednesday — a day late and a dollar short, as my grandfather would say.  But actually, the day late is pretty much the point because as summer sadly starts to wind down, the best tip I have to offer is to take a time out.

This summer, as you may have noticed if you’re a frequent reader, I’ve given myself permission to take a time out. Time off.  Time away.  Why?  Well, if I didn’t, I might have lost my mind.  Completely.

Between a fast-paced, high-pressure job, five fast-paced kids, and moving (which is apparently one of life’s greatest stressors), something had to give.  For me, although I love it, the thing that had to give was writing.  The time I typically devote to typing and sharing was reallocated to packing and unpacking.  But that’s not all.  I realized this week, the first week of the summer that we haven’t been prepping for or recovering from our move and, the first week the kids aren’t racing out the door to camp, we all need a time out.

The past few mornings have been blissful.  As too have the evenings.  We all ate together in our new backyard; we let bedtimes slide so fireflies could be caught. I changed the alarm to wake me up at 6:27 instead of 5:42 (yes, I wake up at odd times!) because I finally admitted it: I am tired.

Tired of the rat race. Tired of packing and unpacking. Tired of saying  “ the new house is great!” even though there are cracks in the ceiling, leaks in the plumbing and boxes, boxes everywhere.  I’m tired of shuttling sick kids to the pediatrician; we’ve been making weekly visits for the past six weeks thanks to sinus infections, strep, ear infections, swimmers ear, an emergency root canal and several nasty cases of poison ivy – from head to toe and everywhere in between!  I’m also tired of making lunches, applying sunscreen, and hustling half-asleep kids out the door to camp.  As it turns out, they are tired too.  This lull between camp ending and school starting is just the antidote we all needed.  Because when I am tired, I’m not nice.  And neither are the kids.  Just in case you’re wondering, here are three signs you need a “time out.”  And, a “Tuesday tip” to encourage you to take it.  You’ll be glad you did.  And so will everyone around you.

If you look and feel like this, you probably need a time out!

Top 3 Signs Mom needs A Time Out

  1. You answer “no” routinely before the kids can even get the question out of their mouths.   This is a really bummer when the question, much to your surprise was “Can I help?”  To this you should always just say yes.  Even if it’s coming from a four-year old likely to make a bigger mess of things!
  2. You look in the mirror and are frightened by the crazy woman staring back at you. She has bags under her eyes, grays in her hair and a sallow skin tone.  Take that lady out for some fresh air, give her a good night’s sleep and before you know it, she just may be smiling at you in the mirror. Especially if as part of her time out you treat her to a long overdue mani-pedi.
  3. You ask your husband when your sweet charming children turned into “evil f*ckers.”   Enough said, right? It’s time for a time out!

 

 

The people I work with often marvel that when I travel for business, my husband isn’t completely overrun by our children when he gets home from work.  They can’t help but wonder how anyone could manage the mayhem of five kids at the witching hour — that charming time from roughly 5 or 6 until 7 or 8 when stomachs rumble, tempers flare and exhaustion ensues.  While it’s not easy, it can be done –even with five kids eight and under.  Even when you’re “home alone.”  How?

  1. Have a plan and stick to it.  Know what’s for dinner before you walk in the door.  In fact, you would ideally know what’s for dinner before you walked out of the door in the morning; that way, you can have much of it prepped and, if the sitter can simply pop it in the oven, that’s all the better!  Tonight I was home alone with all five kids and have to admit, I was the worst offender as it relates to the rumbling belly, short temper and overall exhaustion.  What saved the day?  Knowing that dinner was as easy as warming up left-over pork chops, microwaving some rice and serving up some pepper sticks and carrots.  Was it gourmet?  No. But it did the trick.  It went down in a jiffy and we all made it ’til Tuesday without falling back on mac & cheese or chicken nuggets.  Yay us!
  2. Have a routine and stick to it.  In our house, it’s a quick dash from dinner to pjs.  The quicker they hustle out of their clothes and into their pajamas, the more time we have for reading and snuggling, which is a favorite part of everyone’s day. Here’s our routine:  eat dinner; kids clear their plates; kids with clean plates get dessert; after dessert, kids put on pajamas, put dirty clothes in hamper, brush teeth, pee, read books, pee again and then it’s lights out.  Typically by 8:00.  Is our routine flawless?  Absolutely not!  But, everyone knows what is expected of them and, we all are motivated by the reward of a few extra minutes snuggled up with heads on shoulders and feet entwined as stories are read and tales of the day are shared — which, thankfully are part of the routine!
  3. Put the kids to work.  See bullet #2.  They clear the table. They put the dirty laundry where it goes.  And yes, I nag them.  A lot.  Too much some might say.  But, eventually they get it – a few plates will get broken and clean clothes might end up in the hamper but, it’s a small price to pay for a bunch of kids who pitch in, understand their roles and responsibilities and, perhaps most importantly, take a few things off of your list!

Is it a perfect system? Nope.  But is there anything about parenting — or for that matter, children — that’s perfect?  I don’t think so.  I think we all just do the best we can each and every day.  A plan helps. A routine helps.  Having kids help helps.  When all is said and done, I just hope mine remember the extra moments we spent snuggling more than those angry rants when I first walk in the door from work!  See?  I told you.  Far from perfect.  But, a-ok.  And that’s good enough!


One of the first things I thought upon discovering I was pregnant with triplets was, “OMG! What will we drive?!”  At the time, we had a one and three year old and I just couldn’t envision a vehicle that would accomodate their two car seats plus three more unless it looked like this:

When the triplets were born, we had an Acura MDX — the nicest car I will ever own.  That car was a decision we toiled over for months before we bid adieu to our beloved Jetta and bonjour to Bebe #2 so, saying good-bye was a bit traumatic.  But, six brutal weeks of putting our toddlers in through the trunk while our triplets were jammed into a too-tight second row and our strollers were left on the curb forced our hand.  Bon voyage lovely Acura and bonjour… what? What would we drive?  How would we transport our brood from Point A to Point B with five car seats safely anchored and enough room in the trunk for a double and triple stroller… not to mention the other stuff that often filled our trunk — the pack and plays, portable high chairs, diaper bags, blankies and other assorted necessities of those first few years?

(more…)

Last Thursday night I walk talking to my parents and boasted, “I think this is the week!  Five for five!  I think we may actually have all five kids in school for ALL five days for the first time since before Thanksgiving!”  Then on Friday morning, our pale eight year old appeared in the kitchen, dropped to the floor, grabbed his stomach and moaned in pain. “It hurts Mom! It really hurts!”

I took his temperature. Nothing. He tried to throw up. Nothing. His tummy just hurt.  A lot.  But, given the lack of fever and vomit and my hellbent ambition to fulfill my “five for five” week (not to mention my desire to show up to work on time for a change!), I sent him off to school with toast in hand and the reassurance that if it really really hurt, he should go to the nurse and I’d be there to pick him up in a heartbeat. So, at 10:15 the nurse called and I was. So much for “five for five!”  And so began yet another weekend where the Lyons Den took on the air of an infirmary.

I’m not one to run to the doctor but even I had to admit defeat last week when my pals at work told me how crappy I looked (even on the day I got all fancy and used tinted moisturizer!) and started to call me “the Germ.”  The poor guy who sits down the hall from me was blasting his music just to drown out my  sniffling and nose-blowing — which is admittedly un-ladylike and loud. Really loud. Like a foghorn.  I finally decided enough was enough and sought medical treatment. It turns out that with a sinus infection, my hardcore “this too shall pass” mentality doesn’t work.  Thankfully, antibiotics do!

I share this because it dawned on me on Saturday that one of the triplets has been asking me to take him to the doctor for weeks.  Weeks!  He does lean toward the dramatic but, when I think back, I realize he was the ONLY kid who didn’t make it to the pediatrician during the long, sick month between Thanksgiving and Christmas –  those frenzied four weeks when we had at least two kids home sick from school daily. For real.  It was awful.  And this poor kid got lost in the fray. Has his nose been running? Sure. Thick green boogers? Sure. Fever? Well, not persistently but perhaps on again, off again.  “PLEASE Ma,” he pleaded on Saturday, “please can I go to the doctor?!”  And as we ran from errand to errand, to practices and parties, I told him “yes, tomorrow.”

That night, he was a real pest. A major whiner. And he refused to eat his dinner so, like any good parents, we forced him to.  As we tucked him that night — his very first night with his  brand new “big boy comforter,” he asked again, “tomorrow will you take me the doctor?” And I said yes. Then I got all sappy and sentimental as I looked at our triplets, tucked into their big-boy bunk beds with brand new comforters they could feasibly bring to college.  I went to bed pining for the baby days that have passed us by and not quite ready for the wonder years that lie ahead.  At some point in my slumber, I heard a muffled sound. “I think someone barfed,” I told my husband who was pretending to sleep.

I listened more closely. There was a cough, a snuffling nose, a quick cry. Then silence. So I rolled over and returned to the Land of Nod. Big mistake.  As the sun rose on Sunday morning, I discovered my top-bunk boy bedded down in barf, literally covered with the remains of the dinner we forced him to eat. Unfortunately, it was pasta and meat sauce.  Unfortunately, it was all over him and that brand new big boy comforter.  I don’t need to describe in detail the odor or how gross it was to clean up the mess in the top bunk; I will suffice it say that I had to shake the sheets out in the yard before washing them. It was that bad.

So, who knows.  Maybe those comforters won’t make it to college after all.  But, that boy sure did make it to the doctor. At long last!  In considering the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time at the pediatrician than in my bed and more money on doctor’s visits and prescriptions than groceries.  My pals at work have wondered aloud, “how do you do it?!”  And I resort to my standard answer, my North Star, “one day at a time.”  And then I remind myself that this too shall pass. And quickly.  This winter is long but this year, like those before it, will undoubtedly pass far too fast.  And when it does, I won’t miss the barf-covered bunks or sobbing sick children but, I’m sure the day will come when I do miss feeling so needed, so necessary and so vital to their well-being.  That’s a feeling I’d like to hold on to — one that I hope will never pass.

 

 

It’s been about two weeks since last I wrote.  For me, that’s a really long time.  If you’re a regular reader and I’ve disappointed you with my lack of Tuesday Tips and typical light-hearted fare, I apologize.  The reality is, it’s been a rough few weeks.  In the past three weeks, I went to Chicago on business (good, but stressful), moved (very stressful), experienced the wrath and ensuing chaos of Hurricane Sandy (very bad and very stressful!), and went to Vegas on business (good, but stressful — and, exhausting!).  My good friends know that if I don’t have anything positive to say, I often won’t say anything at all.  I go silent.  Lately, I’ve been so overwhelmed that I’ve gone silent.  And, since some readers say they wish I’d share more of the hardships and challenges I face, well, here they are.  I am breaking my silence with a confession.  And here it is.

Motherhood is hard.  I tend to be a glass half full kind of a person but the reality is that this whole mommy thing is just really freakin’ hard.  No one said it would be easy, but I never expected it to be quite so challenging — in every way imaginable.

Physically, motherhood is grueling.  It starts at the very beginning, with the morning sickness when egg meets sperm. I thought it ended with the final push and first cry but, I was wrong.  With a son who is almost eight, a daughter who just turned six and four year old triplets, motherhood is as physically challenging as ever.  The triplets still need to be buckled into the back of the minivan – a daily task that includes twists and turns and seems to require a level of flexibility I no longer have. Not to mention, my pre-partum ass would have been a much easier fit into the third row!  My oldest son expects me to wrestle, rough house and play soccer, football, lacrosse, and baseball.  I grew up taking ballet classes and never played a team sport. Last summer he told me with more of a hint of disappointment, “Mom, you just weren’t meant to play baseball.” And he was right.

My daughter tends to challenge me more emotionally, though all the kids do in some way.  The emotional challenges of motherhood were also unanticipated.  I wasn’t prepared for how lonely it can be when you’re never actually alone but your constant companion is a newborn – often, a screaming newborn that you have no clue how to calm.  I was completely unprepared for how early the mother-daughter drama begins; the battle of wills over things I know don’t matter (for instance, the removal of every barrette/headband/elastic I’ve ever put in her hair!), yet still I engage in battle.  Then there’s the heartache – the gut-wrenching heartache – you experience when one of  your children is made fun of or another is chosen last for a team.  And once a year, there are those sharp needles that pierce their tender skin at the annual physicals. Ouch.  It’s physical for them, emotional for me.  And the emotional roller-coaster is ongoing.

Then there are the financial challenges of raising children.  Our grocery bills are outrageous.  I mean I’m thrilled they like fresh fruit but at this rate, it would be cheaper to buy an orchard. Or two!  Clothes aren’t cheap either. I tend to buy on sale and welcome hand-me-downs but when five kids need new shoes, well, let’s just say this mama’s not getting a brand new bag!  Another thing no one ever warned me about is extracurricular activities – they really add up! Just think about all the aforementioned sports plus hip-hop classes – and, all the equipment /outfits/uniforms they require!  I suppose it’s a good thing the kids are well-outfitted because at this point, I am not… and at this rate, I’m not sure I ever will be… though I’m grateful I once was – I suspect it was my formerly cute, sassy self that attracted a nice man and got me into this marvelous mess called motherhood in the first place!

There’s much more of course… in my life, there’s the struggle of the juggle as a working mom; the strain on a marriage with so many kids and so little time for each other; the challenge of maintaining friendships, finding time to exercise or, for that matter, finding time to sleep!

Nope, it’s not easy.  And sometimes it helps just to admit it.  So I’ll say it again.  It’s not easy. It’s really really hard.  But, being that glass half-full kind of a gal, I can’t linger on the hardships for long.  The reality is, no matter how hard it is, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Although, if anyone has an “easy button” that can be applied to the mega-job called motherhood, please let me know.  And Santa, if you’re out there, consider that “easy button” on the top of my list!

This week we are moving. The countdown is on. Just three days to go.  Rather than packing and organizing and preparing for our new life in a new home, I’m at a conference in Chicago as the clock ticks down our last days in our first home.  Crazy, right?

Well, in fairness, this is business travel, not a frivolous getaway and, Marketing to Moms is a really good conference.  Although the notion of moving has me totally FREAKED OUT, I have convinced myself that getting away for a few days will help me be better prepared to enter the fray when I return.  Even though my days here are long and filled with working and networking, it’s still a break from the chaos, stress and pressure of juggling a job, five kids and a pending move.  I’ve decided that there are some distinct advantages to this admittedly untimely trip…

I feel appreciated.  In the 8 hours since I’ve left home, I’ve fielded texts and calls seeking the whereabouts of:

  • CCD homework (my oldest son)
  • Thank you notes (my daughter)
  • Dinner (my husband! Even though I left food in the fridge and a message on the white board in the kitchen!)

I feel accomplished.  Not only did I advise (accurately!) on the whereabouts of the aforementioned items but I also found a few minutes to make a few calls that are mission critical to our move…

  • The movers (no doubt we need them!)
  • The mortgage company (one of the more important details for a closing, I now understand!)
  • The school bus company (which will be a key requirement for my grammar schoolers on Monday morning at 7:30!)

I’ve had a few opportunities I rarely get at home…

  • The chance to have dinner with a great friend who lives in Chicago and I haven’t seen in far too long – as evidenced by her greeting: “Wow!  Look how much lighter your hair is!”  By “lighter”, she meant “grey.”  Note to self: must see her more often and/or do a better job with hair color!
  • Shopping! My 7 year old has been walking around in pants that suggest he has either A. Survived or is B. Anticipating the great flood.  This kid’s pants are so short, he’s at risk for frostbite on his ankles.  And shins. The boy needs pants.  And, since I had the good fortune of walking by Old Navy (which would never happen at home!), now he has them.  And can look forward to warm ankles. And shins. Amen.
  • Sleep! No middle of the night visitors — no one who has to pee, feels compelled to tell me they peed in the potty or alert me to the unfortunate fact that their bed is wet.  And, though I love him, there is no furry four-legged friend trying to jump on the bed in the middle of the night… his own way of telling me that he has to pee!

Before signing off to indulge in some of that rare and elusive shut-eye, I have to mention one other benefit of this trip – and of business travel in general.  It is a chance to mix and mingle and be motivated and inspired by other working moms.  You know who you are.  You too have left sweet, needy children and husbands who can’t find their dinner at home.  You too have struggled with the juggle, the pressure, the quest for balance.  And, from what I’ve seen, you have succeeded.  And, given me the confidence that I will too!  Now, sweet dreams – this mama needs to get some rest so I return home ready for this move!

It’s hard to believe it’s already October.  Summer is over, school is in full swing and the busiest month of the year is upon us.  Why is October the busiest month of the year? Well, four of our five children were born in October.  And it’s our anniversary.  And then, just when you think it’s over, there’s Halloween!  All of these things require thoughtfulness and planning above and beyond the already challenging task of juggling an active family of seven and a full-time job.

Oh, and just to spice things up a bit, this October, we’re MOVING… which means that in addition to everything else, there is packing and cleaning and phone calls and planning to add to my daily routine.  Lest I should forget, there is also a 3-day conference in Chicago that will take me away from that routine just two days before our move.  Are you stressed out yet?  I sure am!

As I look at the calendar, I am reminded that our triplets turn four on Wednesday (tomorrow!) and our 10th Anniversary is on Friday.  The triplets are in pretty good shape; there is no party planned (yet!) but there are gifts to be wrapped and a cake to be baked.  My husband, on the other hand, is not so lucky; there is a card to be written but thus far, no gifts to be had.  Which leads me to the point.

As I look at the calendar, I am completely overwhelmed.  Completely and utterly overwhelmed.  How will I get it all done?!  There aren’t enough hours in the day!  So, to avoid a total mental meltdown (my family and friends might say that a partial meltdown is already progress), I have decided to take it just one day at a time and so far, it’s working pretty well.   Take a look at last weekend as an example…

Our daughter turned six on Saturday so, we made cupcakes Friday night and Saturday truly was “all about her” – she had her first big party, complete with dancing and goodie bags.  She had her first sleepover, complete with popcorn and a movie.  And we went to bed that night delighted that our only little lady had “the best birthday ever.”

On Sunday, we were up at the crack of dawn, lugging out our wares for our neighborhood’s multi-family tag sale.  We set up toys, books, housewares and the relics of our baby days on the curb, displaying it just so to maximize the appeal for would-be buyers.  Then the rain started.  So we lugged it all on the porch.  Then the hours passed.  And no one came.  So finally, we loaded our gently used items and memorabilia into the minivan… and had a big glass of wine.

The moral of the story?  Take it one day at a time.  If you’d asked me last Friday how I was going to bake cupcakes, wrap gifts, throw a birthday party, have a slumber party and organize a yard sale over the weekend, I would have told you that I had no clue, that it was too overwhelming to even consider! But now it’s Tuesday and despite the rain, our missions were accomplished and we somehow pulled it all off.  One day at a time.  That’s really the only way.

So, when I look at the month of October on the calendar, there is no denying that it is daunting.  But, we made it through the first nine days and will surely survive the next 22 – birthdays, anniversary, work, move and all!   Before I know it, it will be November.  Before I know it, my three year olds will be four, my husband and I will have celebrated a decade together and our family will be in a new house.  And then I’ll be wondering how to juggle unpacking and settling us in, planning our oldest son’s 8th birthday and preparing for the holidays.  When I start to feel overwhelmed (that’s assuming I ever stop!), I think I’ll reread this and remind myself: one day at a time. Everything is possible if you take it just one day at a time.  And have that occasional glass of wine!