Our oversized sense of adventure took us to San Francisco to visit my sister and her family for the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  After roughly 36 hours of celebrating Christmas, we popped our five kids on a plane for six day stay in my sister’s two bedroom apartment.  As my Dad so eloquently put it, “Well Ker, I’m sure it will be quite an experience.”  And indeed it was!

We survived the six hour flight with very few hiccups; we sailed through security (who else would be traveling at 8:00 on Christmas night?), changed the kids into their PJs before boarding (much to the horror of our fellow travelers in the Continental lounge that night – sorry folks and really, I swear, there was nothing but pee in those diapers I tossed in the pail on my way out!), caught a few z’s while inflight (thank you to our Christmas angel who let Ciara sleep on her lap!) and even found our luggage when we landed (God knows they better get your bag there if they’re going to charge you $25 for it!). 

With our bags and sense of adventure in tact, we were ready to see all San Francisco had to offer and, while we most certainly didn’t do it all, I thought I’d share a few highlights that anyone heading to San Francisco with tots on board shouldn’t miss:

Fisherman’s Wharf.  Sure it’s cheesy and touristy but hell, when you’re making the rounds with five kids in a city that’s not your own, why not be a cheesy tourist?!  When we woke up to the shining sun on Day One, we hit the streets — quite possibly looking more like a Stroller Strides class than a family on vacation!  In any case, we had a great morning that included a walk through Fort Mason and a romp on the beach.  We had a great lunch at Boudin Bakery (http://www.boudinbakery.com/) followed by a personal necessity pitstop… you guessed it, potty break!  As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, hotels make for the perfect rest area and should you ever find yourself in the area and needing to change a diaper (or two or three!), visit The Argonaut Hotel (http://www.argonauthotel.com/) — we took turns on diaper duty and warming our hands by the fire, all the while pretening to be guests… which I one day aspire to be! 
With the potty break behind us, we did what any tourist in close proximity would do and walked over to Pier 39, where the sea lions did not disappoint and held the tots rapt attention for longer than any Baby Einstein video ever could! 
The San Francisco Zoo (www.sfzoo.org) is sure to be a crowd pleaser and is a great way to spend a day… or half a day, at least! Located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, you can hear the waves crashing from the parking lot and feel the ocean breeze (or, gale force winds, depending on the day!) as you wander past Madagascar-worthy lemurs and kid-pleasing penguins, giraffes and lions — try to catch the feedings if you can!
 Stay tuned for Part 3:  Road Trips!  Yes, it’s true… after a 3,000 mile flight and with only five true days in San Francisco, we did spend two of them on the road… I mentioned our sense of adventure, right?  More to follow! 

The Discovery Musuem (http://www.baykidsmuseum.org/), located in Fort Baker just over the Golden Gate Bridge, was another day out that did not disappoint.  There was an interactive, hands-on playroom for the toddler set while the “big kids” were happy outside on the pirate playground.  There were more exhibits than we had time to take in but you could spend a whole day here if you wanted to… especially since the cafe had moderately priced, majorly tasty organic entrees for lunch and the views were simply stunning.

Much to the disbelief of family, friends and several strangers who watched us somewhat aghast, on Christmas night, the Lyons Family Circus took our act on the road and went to visit my sister in San Francisco. Why you ask? Because my sister, brother-in-law and one-year old nephew have made at least three cross-country trips over the past nine months and frankly, couldn’t bear the thought of doing it again. And, we were game for adventure and eager to drag our little Lyons Cubs out to California before my sister and her family return to New York this fall.

The logistics of it all were admittedly staggering. When I first tried to purchase tickets, the online booking system essentially blew a gasket and advised us all to stay home. When I finally gave in and called Continental to book the flights, the kind gentlemen on the phone kept asking just how many minors we’d be travelling with, as if he couldn’t quite believe that any sane folks would drag five kids six and under on a cross-country flight on Christmas… needless to say, I’ve been called many things and “sane” has never been one of them!

After confirming flights, the next step was configuring our seating arrangement; it was an especially complex task to accommodate our family of seven on a plane with only two three-seat aisles.  The nice man on the phone suggested we take one complete row and then a single seat. “Really,sir?!” I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Let’s just be realistic about what you’re suggesting here, which would be ME in a row with FIVE over-tired, over-Christmased tots while my husband peacefully snoozes elsewhere on the plane? I don’t think so!”   We settled on four of us in one row (middle/aisle, aisle/middle for those who like the details!) and three of us in another (window/middle/aisle) and I must say, our trip went pretty much according to plan.

We were all fairly exhausted when we got to the airport for our 8:30PM flight thanks to the events of the prior 24 hours: Christmas Eve dinner for 18 at our house, Christmas morning/present frenzy at home and then an early Christmas dinner at my parents in NJ… who wouldn’t be tired?!

As we got in the security line with the triplets comfortably reclined in a single and double stroller, four-year old Ciara was left to wonder why we didn’t bring our second double stroller because “I need somewhere to sit!” Enter the saving grace of our trip – a nifty little piece of luggage called a Trunki:

This little ladybug of a (carry-on!) suitcase easily held Ciara’s clothes for the week, a few new toys that couldn’t be left behind and, not only served as a seat for her weary little legs as we waited to get through security but, best of all, provided a ride as we made our way to the departure gate.

The one thing I hadn’t planned for was landing in San Francisco (at midnight PST/3:00 AM EST!) with five kids sound asleep.  I mean, it was my hope that they’d sleep for most of the flight and, thank goodness they did but, what I failed to account for was how to get five sleeping tykes, two strollers and five carry-ons OFF the plane.  When we boarded, each tiny tot carried something (even if only their fleece!) and each marched on in eager anticipation of going “up up and away!”  As we touched down and I looked at the sweetly snoozing faces surrounding me (including, of course, my husband!), I panicked.  Fortunately, as we taxied to the gate, the little ones (and Des!) slowly awakened from their slumber;  unfortunately, Ciara immediately began to protest that she simply could not/would not walk off the plane because she was “more tired than ANYONE EVER WAS!”  Fortunately, the Trunki once again saved the day (and night!).

With Christmas outfits changed to comfy new PJs and the time zone changed from East Coast to West Coast, we all made it off the plane — a bit bleary-eyed but excited to see my sister and relieved to have had an uneventful trip… especially since we just barely dogded the “Blizzard of 2010″!

And so our adventures began.  Stay tuned for Tales from San Francisco: Part Two and, if you’ve got an upcoming trip with tots onboard, I’d highly suggest investing in a Trunki!  (http://www.trunki.co.uk/contact.php)

Girls Day Out

December 17th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in aunts | family | MaMa Moments | motherhood | Out and About - (0 Comments)

Today was a delight of a day.  I managed to take it off and spend it exclusively with my little lady and one of my favorite aunts.  Just the girls.  No big brother, no little brothers, no one to steal the spotlight from my four year-old princess (or alternatively, drama queen!) in training.  Today was just for us and I must say, it was stellar. 

We took the train to the city and walked over to Lord & Taylor to see the windows and meet my aunt.  This aunt is the kind of aunt you wish for — she’s the one who let me play with her makeup, helped me through my teenage angst,  and got me a CB jacket for Christmas circa 1984.  If you were in eighth grade in the 80s and leaned toward the Preppy Hand Book side of life, you know just how cool that CB jacket was… it was the perfect complement my matching Bermuda bag and headband.  But, I digress… 

Today we marveled at the windows, strolled through the windy city streets and bonded over lunch.  If you were to ask Ciara about her favorite part of the day, it wasn’t the train ride or the Rockefeller Center tree or the windows at Saks or the huge plate of cookies she devoured with hot chocolate; it was “having lunch with Auntie Pat when she gave me my special bracelet.”

Just as we sat down, Auntie Pat presented Ciara with what can only be called big-girl bling… a silver charm bracelet with a little angel because, as she put it, Ciara is her angel.  While my little lady seemed rather unimpressed with the beautiful gift upon tearing it open (instantly remarking “why isn’t the pizza ready yet?”), just a few hours later, it stood out in her mind as the highlight of a day filled with highlights.  It’s the first thing she told her Dad about and the last thing she took off before bed.  It has a special place in her room just as the memories of this day will forever have a special place in my heart. 

Today was an excellent reminder of just how good (and perhaps even necessary!) it is to take a day off to bond with your little ones… as I’m told repeatedly and am starting to see firsthand, they really do grow up so fast.  So, why not treat yourself to some quality time with them and enjoy it while it lasts?!

It’s official. Our little Lyons Cubs are ready for take-off. The tickets are purchased, the excitement is mounting and my four-year old has already packed her bag — she seems to have inherited my genes for advance planning!

On Christmas night, we will be flying the friendly skies from New York to San Francisco to visit my sister and her family. The only thing is, as you may have noticed, the “friendly” skies are gone. The have been replaced by hostile skies filled with haughty flight attendants, hungry passengers and, from what I hear is the worst case scenario, BABIES! Yep, you got it, just when you thought air travel couldn’t get any worse, it did. You’ve gotten used to standing in long security lines and paying to check a bag, but children? Messy, noisy, tantrum-prone children?! They apparently represent the next wave of indignity.

Don’t believe me? Just check out this article from last weekend’s New York Times Travel section (http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/travel/14babies-journeys.html): Passengers Push for Child-Free Flights. If these ornery folks have anything to with it, you probably never will see a “Cub” fly… unless, of course, you happen to be on our flight this Christmas… in which case, consider yourself warned!
 Are you an advocate or opponent of tot-free air travel? All thoughts welcome!

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!

Run Dad Run

November 6th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Lung Cancer | Marathon | Out and About - (0 Comments)

On Sunday, my husband will be running the New York Marathon. While I can kind of take credit for getting him into running, for urging him to accompany me on the routine 5 or 10Ks that we’d run in the city pre-kids, I most certainly can’t take credit for the 26.2 miles he will complete this weekend.

It is with wonder and awe that I’ve watched him train over the past few months. While many start marathon-training in the spring or sooner, Des didn’t start until late this summer, after his brother passed away. We lost Conor to lung cancer at the age of 47; he was diagnosed in February and was gone in July. We watched him suffer and, I can’t help but note that we suffered too. We intimately experienced the horror of this disease and, not surprisingly, it hit Des especially hard.

Conor was his big brother, his best friend, his confidante, his rock. He taught Des how to throw a fastball and field a ground ball; how to throw a football and drive a stick shift. More recently, he was the guy we relied on to walk our dog, help feed the triplets and always appear with a smile on his face and a helping hand.

Des also lost his Dad to lung cancer. His Dad was a genius of a man who, ironically enough, devoted his life to researching the disease. They are now both gone, both far too soon. But, rather than sit around and mope about how unfair life is, rather than wallow in sorrow, rather than turning into a bitter, angry man, my guy has channeled his energy into something positive. He decided to run the marathon to raise money for lung cancer research and, while he’s not yet run the race, he’s already exceeded his finanical goal.

He has literally pounded pavement and trails near and far, in darkness and light. He’s given up the second glass of wine, late night TV, Saturday morning Ultimate Frisbee and much more, all in the name of reaching this goal. While the spoken goal is completing 26.2 miles and crossing the finish line in Central Park, I think there are unspoken goals as well; I think there is a desire to find some good in the evil of this disease and to find peace after an especially tumultuous time in our lives. With all my heart, I hope he reaches all his goals – those spoken and unsaid. I will be cheering him on and, with five kids in tow, suspect I too will feel like I have run a marathon by the end of the day!

If you wish to make a donation to help fight lung cancer – to help fund research that will fuel early prevention and perhaps one day even find a cure, please visit:


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?!

Collegiate Day

October 26th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in football | Out and About | tailgating | triplets - (0 Comments)

Last Saturday was our annual “Collegiate Day”. Collegiate Day is my husband’s opportunity to drag us all down memory lane, to his glory days at Fordham and to experience whatever sporting event may be in progress as we stroll the campus with tots in tow. Previous Collegiate Days have been only minimally successful… one time it was raining, one time there was nowhere to park, almost all the time the Fordham Rams have been brutally defeated in the game du jour. But this time was different.

The sun was shining brightly as we pulled into the lot just after 2:00. The parking lot appeared to be full but after the security guard looked somewhat aghast into our overly-stuffed minivan, he kindly ushered us in. As we rolled out of the car and I went to get the strollers (yes, strollers, plural – we typically hit the road with either a double and a single or two doubles) out of the back, I realized we had a made a rookie mistake. The only stroller we had was a single – a single stroller for 2 year-old triplets at naptime and a barely four year old who had nodded off in the car. Not good. But, as it turned out, not so bad either. They all rose to the occasion and the triplets in particular appeared to feel like Big Men on Campus as they strutted their stuff over to the football stadium.

Upon our arrival sometime during the third quarter, the Rams were losing to the Lafayette Leopards but most of our crew could have cared less about the action on the field; they were far more interested in the “big teddy bears”… the mascots of each team who were in turn terrifying and fascinating to all five of our kids. As they made a game of high-fiving the Leopard and the Ram and then hiding behind my legs, things on the field took a turn for the better; Fordham actually won the game in the last thirty seconds (the first such victory during my almost decade-long participation in Collegiate Day!). As the band played on and the players proudly paraded off the field, it was a real Americana moment… there was a crisp breeze rustling the prime fall foliage, just a few wispy clouds in an otherwise azure sky and a prevailing sense of camaraderie and accomplishment as the crowd pushed its way out of the stadium.

We headed over the quad where the bouncy castle had unfortunately been deflated and packed away but the kids were happy enough to toss a ball around and have a few snacks. As we headed back to the car, we remarked that it was “the best Collegiate Day ever.” And then it got even better.

As we dodged and weaved our way through the dusky lot with our stroller-free roamers trying their best to lose us among the parked cars, we happened upon a tailgate in full swing. This was no ordinary tailgate and it was conveniently located just a few spots away from our car. We paused to take it all in while the kids helped themselves to the beanbag toss.  Then we met Mike and Nicole – the hosts with the most. The first time they asked us if we wanted a beer we refused, “A beer? Now? With all these kids?! Ha! No, no, that wouldn’t be wise. Nope. No way. No thank you.” I mean, it’s not like we were just lamenting all the keg parties on campus that we hadn’t been invited to that night. It’s not like we were almost desperate to top off our nearly perfect day with a perfectly poured pint or anything. Except for that, of course, we were. So we eventually said yes. And much to our amazement, this amazing group of Fordham alum, spouses and kids included us in their formerly private party.

Before I could say “that’s ok, you don’t need to feed all five of our kids dinner”, they had totally set us up… juice boxes and hot dogs for the kids, beer and chili dogs (Chili Dogs! Yummy yummy chili dogs!) for me and Des. They insisted I sit down (There were chairs at this tailgate! And I did sit down!) and, as the kids played in front of the fire (not too close and don’t worry, Mike is one of New York’s bravest), Des and I enjoyed a beer and a memorable moment… the crackling glow of the fire and the pine-scented smoke, the Fordham flag and the American flag, side by side,  slowing waving in the early evening light, the Direct TV (yep, you got it!  They had TV at this tailgate!)that had broadcast the game for this group of avid fans who may or may not have made it into the stadium (a sign of a really good tailgate!), the super-sized grill which boasted a big pot of expertly spiced chili in addition to enough hot dogs to feed the whole football team, and this group of pals who were bound by such memories and were kind enough to include us in their festivities. They even went so far as to honor us with the “Best Newcomers” award – an honor that would indicate that we just may be invited back next year. This Collegiate Day will be hard to beat but, I’d venture to guess that these folks just might be able to do it.

One of the questions I constantly get asked is “how do you do it?” There seems to be particular fascination, wonder and awe as it relates to ever getting out of the house with so many tiny tots and their associated paraphernalia. Now that my tots are all toddling and bottles have been replaced by sippy cups and water bottles, one answer to the “How do you do it” question is “My Pocket Rocket.”

What is a Pocket Rocket, you say? Ah, it is a nifty wonder of a water-proof, well designed tote that comes in an array of cute colors and patterns. And, it is aptly named because the Pocket Rocket has SIX pockets – and that’s not even counting the ones on the inside, which create the perfect home for my cell phone, lip balm and the snot-soaked tissues that I don’t want free-floating among the array of snacks I must constantly pack.  So…

Diapers and sunblock and plentiful wipes,
Surprises to soothe all sorts of gripes.
Raisins and Goldfish and Cheerios galore,
My fab Pocket Rocket holds all of it and more!
So my dear pals should you need a bag to get about,
I’d highly recommend a Pocket Rocket from Scout!

To get a Pocket Rocket of your own, visit:

I suffer a bit from being a perfectionist. Ok, a lot. Or, perhaps it’s not me, but the people around me who suffer most. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that even though I know it’s insane, I will reorganize the dishwasher so that it’s done my way, which, of course, is the right way and therefore, the only way. On the odd occasion that my husband puts the kids’ laundry away, instead of simply saying thank you, I’m prone to point out where things should have gone. I encourage all five kids to line up their shoes in perfect pairs and at times, can’t resist laying out matching socks and underwear with their outfits — just as I liked to wear mine when I was a kid… perhaps that’s where this all began.

I thought that having triplets would cause me to loosen up, to let go a little, to lower my standards or perhaps more aptly put, become a lot less anal!  But, alas, it’s not to be. The triplets and the daily challenge of juggling five kids five and under have really just upped the ante on my naturally perfectionist streak. I aspire to be like Mary Poppins – “practically perfect in every way.” I’ve even been known to sing “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!” and say “Spit spot!” with a kind (although admittedly forced!) Mary Poppins smile as I hurry my kids along.

All that said, I know my yearning for perfection is extreme and has a fair share of downsides. I didn’t quite realize it until we went on our annual quest for the perfect pumpkin last weekend … an annual quest that is the traditional warm-up for the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. As we ambled about the pumpkin patch with the camera clicking on a crisp fall day, I overheard some other insane Mom say to her kid “Put that one back. It’s all dented and dirty.” To which the kid whined back “but Mom, it doesn’t have to be perfect!”

So perfectly said and so absolutely true. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Whatever “it” may be. I let my Imperfect Poppins relax a bit after hearing that and, while I know it won’t last, I want to remember that kid’s voice in my ear because it could well be the voice of one of my own children. “Mom, it doesn’t need to be perfect.”

It was with this in mind that I went to bed last night before straightening the rug on the living room floor and with Legos still strewn on the coffee table. This morning, I tried not to flinch when my daughter rejected the matchy-matchy outfit I laid out and went with a funky look of her own. And when my oldest pleaded, “but Mom, I don’t WANT A shirt with a collar”, I said ok. Ok.

While my perfectionist, uptight ways are good for keeping everyone on a schedule, clothes in the right drawers and getting us out the door on time (most of the time!), I also know they can be overwhelming and overly controlling. And, I know that I really don’t want to hear my kids making public pleas for imperfection. So, I’m going to resolve to be better about accepting “good enough” versus  uncompromising perfection and, as a starting point, I have several very lop-sided pumpkins on the porch to prove it!

(NOTE: We picked our pumpkins at Stuart’s Farm in Granite Springs, NY, about an hour north of NYC and highly recommended for family fun and, great donuts! http://www.stuartsfarm.com/index.html)