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Today it’s back to school, back to work, back to reality.  We had a fantastic week full of fun between Christmas and New Year’s; we had enough downtime to play with the puzzles and games that Santa so kindly delivered and enough energy to take on a local hike, a trip to the city and a New Year’s Eve visit to the Bronx Zoo.  Our week was both busy and relaxing… well, as relaxing as life can be with five kids seven and under.  It was so nice to have a break from the daily stresses of work, school, homework and schedules.  And, in the midst of it all, we found time to get organized and ready for the year ahead.  How?  By starting our spring cleaning in January — which is a great way to not only clear out your cabinets, but clear your mind for the year ahead.  Here’s how we did it.
  1. Bathroom and linen closet:  One day, while the triplets were in the tub and the other two were busy playing with Christmas presents, I aggressively attacked our medicine cabinet and linen closet.  Out with the old, in with the new.  Out went the expired (and possibly recalled!) bottles of Infant Tylenol and tubes of Neosporin. Out went the old prescriptions — including some leftover painkillers from when I had the triplets in 2008… if I haven’t succumbed to them by now, I think it’s safe to say I don’t need them! Unfortunately, in my haste, I also threw out one of my husband’s current prescriptions but, that’s a minor price to pay for the newly cleaned and streamlined shelves.  Next item on the agenda: a visit to drugstore.com for some replacements!
  2. Kitchen Cabinets:  I was very lucky to receive a slow cooker for Christmas.  I imagine that this magical device will somehow solve my ongoing dinner dilemmas… and if it does, I promise to share the magic with you!  In the meantime, this hefty new appliance needed a shelf to call home and that precipitated a whirlwind overhaul of our kitchen cabinets.  Out went about 50 bibs.  (I swear we used them all, sometimes in the span of one day;  teething, drooling triplets go through a LOT of bibs!). Out went sippy cups and tupperware with missing lids.  Out went random napkins and forks from takeout dinners in addition to broken crayons, dried up markers and playdough and used up sticker books.  Yes, all of these things were in our kitchen cabinets.  And now they are not.  So, my slow cooker now has a place to call home, I know where everything is and, the kids have a newly organized arts & crafts cabinet where coloring books and crayons live in harmony, rather than battling the salad spinner as they were before.
  3. Toys and Bookshelves.  During the fall, it seems like Toys R Us opens a satellite store here in the Lyons Den.  All five kids have birthdays in October and November and the presents really peak in December, with the arrival of Christmas and Santa’s annual bounty.  Try as we might to keep things to a minimum, there’s still an influx of stuff — books, toys and puzzles that the kids naturally love but we really don’t have the space for.  That’s why I also attacked our bookshelves and toy chests to cull the clutter and make room for the shiny new things.  I enlisted the kids in this task, encouraging them to part ways with the things they’ve outgrown and create piles — books for the school’s used book sale, toys for a local charity and a big trash bag for the motley collection of trucks without wheels, puzzles without pieces, etc.

In all, it was a monster task but, if you bite it off in little pieces – one room at a time –  it can be done.  And I have to say, there is considerable peace of mind that comes with a newly organized linen closet, kitchen and toy chests.  It is my hope that this peace of mind will ease my reentry to the chaos of our busy lives and ideally, bring peace and joy all the year through… or, at least until Spring when we will undoubtedly need to do it again!

 Like many of us, as a New Year dawns, I am prone to make resolutions – promises, both small and grand, that I make to myself to be better, do better, do more.  As I look ahead to 2012, I decided to look back to this time last year and share what I wrote at the dawn of 2011.  It makes just as much sense now as it did then.  And for the record, I survived turning 40 but still long for a weekend away… all of which will make sense after you read this…

This year, as I teeter on the edge of 40 and ponder what 2011 may hold, I’ve decided to rethink my resolutions. I’ve decided that since there’s an undeniable pattern in my annual goals (exercise more, save more money, find time for date nights!), why limit them to a calendar year? Why not think of resolutions as long-term ambitions? Maybe it’s a cop out. Maybe I’m letting myself off the hook by lifting the 12.31.11 deadline but, on the other hand, maybe I’m giving myself the chance to truly be a better person and lead a better life. It is with this hope, intention and optimism in mind that I share with you my goals for 2011… and beyond.

 I would like to yell less and listen more. I’d like to really listen, to actually hear what my children and my husband have to say. To take the time to digest and respond to their comments, thoughts and requests with more than my typically breezy “yup, uh-huh, sure” or “what’d ya say, hon?”

I’d like to be more present and less distracted. To live in the moment. To savor the moment. To recognize that it’s not always necessary (or productive!) to fold the laundry while helping with homework and assisting with puzzles and Lego creations. To realize that the homework, puzzles and Legos matter far more than neatly folded towels! To remember that multi-tasking has its limits and ultimately, gets in the way of really listening, being present and living in the moment.

I’d like to be more grateful for what I do have rather than longing for what I do not. I’d like to truly appreciate the little things that matter and stop yearning for the big things that don’t. I’d like to start each day with a smile and end it the same way. I’d like to be a better wife and more patient parent. I’d like to instill my children with a sense of confidence in themselves and respect for others.

I’d like to set a good example – something I’m not always prone to do, especially toward the end of the day when I’m as tired and hungry as my five little “Cubs”; I’ve been known to try to outshout them just to be heard and trust me, this doesn’t work. Not to mention, it does nothing for your esteem to know that you’ve stooped to the level of a pre-schooler!

Come to think of it, perhaps I’m resolving to simply stop acting like the many pre-schoolers who inhabit our home. All I need to do is be a better listener, focus on the task at hand and take time to appreciate (rather than sweat!) the small stuff… including, for example, all the arts & crafts projects our little Cubs create.  If I’m lucky, this year’s projects will include a few nice birthday cards wishing me a Happy 40th and I’ll be perfectly happy with just that. Although, of course, the party and weekend away would be nice too!  :)



2011 has officially arrived. Much to my own disbelief, this is the year that Liam will turn seven (yikes!), our princess Ciara will turn 5 (and go to KINDERGARTEN!!!) and the triplets will turn three (however can that be?!). This is also the year that I will turn 40. I have to say, I’m kind of looking forward to it. Maybe we’ll have a big party. Or perhaps find a way to finagle a weekend away from all of these kids… a girl’s gotta dream, right? For me, hope springs eternal about what the future will hold and, never more so than at this time of year.

This year, as I teeter on the edge of 40 and ponder what 2011 may hold, I’ve decided to rethink my resolutions. I’ve decided that since there’s an undeniable pattern in my annual goals (exercise more, save more money, find time for date nights!), why limit them to a calendar year? Why not think of resolutions as long term ambitions? Maybe it’s a cop out. Maybe I’m letting myself off the hook by lifting the 12.31.11 deadline but, on the other hand, maybe I’m giving myself the chance to truly be a better person and lead a better life. It is with this hope, intention and optimism in mind that I share with you my goals for 2011… and beyond.

 I would like to yell less and listen more. I’d like to really listen, to actually hear what my children and my husband have to say. To take the time to digest and respond to their comments, thoughts and requests with more than my typically breezy “yup, uh-huh, sure” or “what’d ya say, hon?”

I’d like to be more present and less distracted. To live in the moment. To savor the moment. To recognize that it’s not always necessary (or productive!) to fold the laundry while helping with homework and assisting with puzzles and Lego creations. To realize that the homework, puzzles and Legos matter far more than neatly folded towels! To remember that multi-tasking has its limits and ultimately, gets in the way of really listening, being present and living in the moment.

I’d like to be more grateful for what I do have rather than longing for what I do not. I’d like to truly appreciate the little things that matter and stop yearning for the big things that don’t. I’d like to start each day with a smile and end it the same way. I’d like to be a better wife and more patient parent. I’d like to instill my children with a sense of confidence in themselves and respect for others.

I’d like to set a good example – something I’m not always prone to do, especially toward the end of the day when I’m as tired and hungry as my five little “Cubs”; I’ve been known to try to outshout them just to be heard and trust me, this doesn’t work. Not to mention, it does nothing for your esteem to know that you’ve stooped to the level of a pre-schooler!

Come to think of it, perhaps I’m resolving to simply stop acting like the many pre-schoolers who inhabit our home. All I need to do is be a better listener, focus on the task at hand and take time to appreciate (rather than sweat!) the small stuff… including, for example, all the arts & crafts projects our little Cubs create.  If I’m lucky, this year’s projects will include a few nice birthday cards wishing me a Happy 40th and I’ll be perfectly happy with just that. Although, of course, the party and weekend away would be nice too!  :)

Ok, it’s January 2nd.  Time to stop basking in the warm memories of the holiday season and start thinking about the year ahead.  2011.  Can it really be 2011?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that it was Y2K?  Remember that?!  Wow.  Tme really flies.

With the dawn of a new year upon us, it seems fitting to look back at my resolutions from last year before making any new ones… in short, my goals for 2010 were to exercise more (check!), save a set amount monthly (check!) and do yoga twice a month (still working on that one).  For my complete musings on last year’s goals, you can check out:

The Lyons Den: The Adventures and Absurdity of Life with Five Little “Cubs”: Resolutions

As for this year, I think what I’d like to do most is simply be present.  Be there.  Be aware.  Be tuned in to those around me and tuned out to the things that just don’t matter.  I want to turn off the blackberry and spend more time really being there for my family.  Really listening to and really hearing what they have to say. Which is why I must now cut this post short… there are three little Cubs in their cribs saying “I want to get out of here.  I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!!!”  Having occasionally felt that way myself, I know exactly what they mean!  So, so long for now and may your new year be filled with ample opportunities to tune in to those around you!