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The good news is that you survived the “terrible twos.”  The bad news is that no one really tells you about the “trying threes” — the age from roughly 36-48 months when your toddler makes the official transition to a full-blown kid and in the process, tries everything — especially your patience!  He will try potty-training… and keep trying until he finally gets it right.  He will try to climb out of the crib… and keep trying until you get him a big boy bed.  He will try dumping water out of the bathtub, coloring on walls, throwing food, resisting the car seat and insisting on having virtually everything his way. Through all of this, you will be trying very hard not to lose your mind and, if you’re at all like me, you will find your gray hairs multiplying at an alarming pace!
Fret not though, this too shall pass. Since I currently am dealing with a trio of three year-olds and have two other tykes that have survived and made it to five and seven years old respectively, here are a few tips that help me maintain my so-called sanity during this “trying” time.
  • Stoop to their level.  Literally. Get down on the floor and look your three year old in the eye when they are misbehaving. Whether they are screaming, crying, yelling, kicking or whatever it may be, they seem to respond well to people on their own level.  They seem to appreciate the effort it takes for a “big” person to look them in the face and treat them as an equal, if only for a moment.  So get down there, look them in the eye, speak in soft tones and try to have an “adult” conversation.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly they quiet down and then eventually climb into your lap.  This is your moment. Seize it. Explain what was wrong with the outburst and then hug, cuddle, snuggle and enjoy having this small person in your lap while they still fit there!
  • Make ‘em laugh.  Whether you’re dealing with a three year old or not, laughter is often the best medicine.  Be silly.  Show them how to make light of a tough situation.  Maybe they are frustrated by a puzzle. Perhaps their Lego tower just crumbled to the ground, taking their sense of achievement down with it.  Whatever it may be, silliness and laughter is a great way to create a diversion, to literally turn that frown upside down. Get a giggle out of your tot and before you know it, they’ll be happily on to the next thing.
  • Be consistent. I feel like I say this a lot but I truly believe that consistency is the key to success and harmony in a house full of tots!  They like to know what to expect and they need to be taught consequences.  My guys expect 2 M&Ms every time they poop on the potty and they hold me to it. A few M&Ms seems like a small price to pay to avoid changing poopy diapers!  
  • Take a break.  I am truly blessed because even with five kids and a full time job, I do get to take a break now and again; I think it’s critically important.  As the saying goes, a happy mom makes a happy family.  Be sure to take time for you and find the time to do what makes you happy — whether it’s a morning run, evening bath, glass of wine, the latest issue of People or a Girls Night Out, just do it.  You deserve to take a break and you’ll be a better Mom for it… for the “trying threes” and all the parenting adventures that follow!

Our firstborn Liam turned seven years old this week.  As my husband and I wrapped his gifts the night before, we recalled that night seven years ago… the night we left our apartment on the Upper East Side in New York City.  I was clutching my pillow, he was clutching my hand.  We were both petrified.  We were about to become parents.  We weren’t ready.  We didn’t know what to do.  We got into a cab and got out at Lenox Hill Hospital, knowing we would leave a few days later with a baby.  Our baby.
As it turns out, our baby wasn’t all that eager to meet us.  He didn’t want to come out.  He went into distress.  The nurses and doctors went into distress. I was distressed! Before I knew what hit me, I was swept out of the lovely labor and delivery suite and into the blinding lights of an operating room for an emergency C-section.  In mere moments, I was handed a baby boy.  A big baby boy.  Liam weighed  9 pounds, 1 ounce and I swear he smiled up at me as I looked down, wondering what to do this brand new, rosy bundle of joy.
Seven years later, I still find myself wondering what to do.  And he still smiles up at me.  As  I think about the past seven years, I realize that we’ve learned a lot — as parents and as people.  When Liam was born, my husband Des had two wishes for him:
  1. That he be Catholic
  2. That he be a Yankee Fan

 

These wishes have come true.  Our little guy goes to church every Sunday and like his Dad, thinks of Yankee Stadium as a cathedral in its own right.  His seventh birthday gave me pause to think about my wishes for our little boy. For our firstborn… and, in fact for the four that followed him as well…
  • I want them to be happy, well-adjusted, confident.  To accept who they are.  To leverage their strengths and acknowledge their weakness.  To smile. A lot. From the inside out.
  • I want them to be humble and helpful. To be grateful for what they have and to help those who have not.
  • I want them to do all the things those cheesy posters say — to laugh loud and laugh often, to dance with abandon, to love with all their hearts.
  • I want them to be honest, with me and with others. I want them to treat others with respect and kindness, do the right thing, set a good example.

 

I think one of the hardest parts of being a parent is realizing that in having these wishes for our children — these lofty ambitions and big dreams — we need to set the right example ourselves. And it’s not always easy.  In fact, when faced with sleep deprivation, cranky toddlers, stressful jobs and everything else that life throws your way, it can be really hard.  But, when those little faces smile up at you, it is so worth it.  And really, they have no clue you don’t know what you’re doing.  They believe in you… and they have from that very first moment they gazed into your eyes.  Personally, I’m not quite sure why but, I’m going to go with it.  All in all, our little Liam has given us an amazing seven years and a lot to look forward to in the years to come. Happy Birthday to my sweet sweet seven year old!
Tiny Believers in Santa
As a mom of many, keeping the mystique of Santa alive and well is a priority for me this Christmas season.  My oldest turns seven today (stay tuned for some thoughts on how those years flew by so quickly!), the next in line is five and the three little fellas pictured above are now three years old.  They all have a healthy curiosity about pretty much everything and, while the bigger two can be skeptical at times, they more often than not believe what I tell them — especially as it relates to the things they want to believe in, like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and, of course Santa Claus.

Keeping the magic alive gets harder when the grammar school years arrive.  If your kid isn’t a skeptic, they will meet a kid on the bus or playground or classroom who will tell them that “Santa isn’t real” or “only babies believe in Santa.”  When your wee one comes home with this news, it will break your heart.  Here are a few tips to get (or keep) things back on track — to keep the faith in Santa this year and hopefully, for many more to come!

  1. Santa has a LOT of helpers.  Once they hit a certain age (somewhere between three and six for my little clan of elves), kids will start to question how Santa can be at the mall AND the Christmas tree lot AND on every street corner ringing a bell AND on TV.  This tricky line of toddler interrogation can be easily navigated by introducing the notion of Santa’s helpers.  I mean really, how is ONE guy supposed to make and deliver all those toys? Read all those letters?  Pose for all those pictures?  It’s just not possible.  Santa has been in business for ages and, like any good businessman, has learned the fine art of delegation.  All those pseudo-Santas roaming the streets are his A-team, the front line, the guys who assist him as he makes his list and checks it twice.  Given how literal kids of this age can be, they seem to accept that Santa needs helpers.  And, may even understand that not all helpers can grow a good beard, which is why some of them are saggy!
  2. If disbelief continues after the conversation about Santa’s Helpers, it’s time to talk about believing… as in, “if you believe in Santa, he will bring you gifts and if you don’t, he won’t.” It sounds harsh but it’s simple and straight-forward; it’s also remarkably effective because the fear of waking up on Christmas with no gifts under the tree is enough to spur most skeptical tykes into at least a modicum of belief… and that’s all it takes for the magic of Santa to seep back into a doubting heart.
  3. Show that you believe in Santa too.  Write him a letter. Talk about what kind of cookies you liked to leave him when you were a kid. Share the story about the time you tried so hard to stay up all night to see him, only to nod off just as you were sure you heard reindeer on the roof.  Kids thrive on these tales… and, they are fun to share.  In fact, sharing them could just be a new family tradition that could be as magical as Santa himself.

Truth be told, there’s a small part of me that still believes… not necessarily in a guy with a white beard and a red suit but, in the magic of Christmas, the joy of the season, and the gift of sharing old traditions while creating new ones… like leaving half-eaten carrots on the front porch to convince any would-be naysayers that not only did Santa come and nibble on a few cookies on Christmas Eve but, his reindeer enjoyed a snack as well! 

 It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again.  The “holiday season” has arrived. It snuck in under the cover of darkness, taking over radio stations with “holiday classics” and replacing pumpkin-strewn windows with twinkly lights and mistletoe.  It seems to me that we have a retail-driven tendency to fast forward through the month of November in favor of the merriment and frenzied consumption of December. 
The problem (in my humble opinion) is that we gloss over one of the days that matters most.  A day that isn’t mired in trick or treating or gift-giving or even religious obligation but rather, a day that is all about gratitude.  About giving thanks. About taking a moment to pause with family and friends and reflect upon all we have to be grateful for.  As a parent, it’s tough to hit the pause button between Halloween and Christmas and teach our kids to truly give thanks on Thanksgiving.  It’s far too easy to get caught up in the Black Friday mania, in making a list and checking it twice, in the cookie-baking, Christmas-card making and general shopping-centric hysteria of the season. 
My hope is that I — that we — don’t get too caught up in it all.  That I find a way to impress upon our five kids just how lucky we are.  A recent poll of the Lyons Den would suggest I still have work to do.  Upon asking one of our three-year old triplets what we celebrate on Thursday and why it’s important, he replied enthusiastically “Chicken!”  Yep, it would appear I have a LOT of work to do with that one!
Liam and Ciara, now in kindergarten and second grade had better answers.  One said “On Thanksgiving it’s important to be thankful for our family,” and the other noted “Thanksgiving is a day to be grateful for the roof over our head and food on our plate.”  As lovely as these answers are, they sounded fairly well rehearsed; while I am grateful our local grammar school is doing such a good job instilling these lessons, I think we can do even better as a family.
I don’t actually have a set of prescriptive tips for teaching gratitude at home; if I did, I’m pretty sure that one little fella wouldn’t have mentioned chicken.  Although, who knows, the kid is a huge fan of chicken nuggets so perhaps he has coined his own unique way of giving thanks.  As for the rest of them, I think the best we can do is lead by example. To show gratitude each and every day. To express how we are feeling in clear, simple terms the kids can understand.  To let them know how eternally grateful we are for healthy happy children, a supportive family, amazing friends, rewarding jobs and yes, of course, the roof over our head and the food on our plates. 
In addition to talking about gratitude throughout the year (not just on the third Thursday of November), there are a few other things I think go a long way toward helping our children realize just how fortunate we are.  We can donate toys and clothes to the needy; bake brownies for a local shelter; make cards for nursing home residents.  These are all things we can do now and I hope to do before Santa comes down our chimney.
When our kids are older, I hope to volunteer in a soup kitchen as a family; to deliver food to the sick and elderly as a family.  If we start now, while they’re young, they just might think it’s cool to spend a day with Mom and Dad helping those who really need it.  As for me, I will always be grateful for the time we spend together as a family — for those days are truly the best days of my life.

This week I spent two nights away from home for business.  I only travel occasionally for work so, on the rare occasions I do, it’s a bit of a respite.  The preparation is brutal – leaving five kids, a dog and a sweet, tired husband behind for 48 hours is no easy task.  There are meals to be planned, playdates to be confirmed, backpack notes to be written and lists to be made.  But, when all is done and I find myself at 30,000 feet, I have to admit, it’s kind of nice to get away.  And the number one reason why is SLEEP.  Hours and hours of uninterrupted sleep.

The way I see it, I’ve been sleep deprived since I first found out I was pregnant in March 2004.  Back then I couldn’t sleep because my (extremely small, in fact, completely flat-chested!) boobs hurt.  A habitual stomach-sleeper, I was in total agony and truly stunned that at just a few weeks preggo, I was being robbed of one of my favorite pastimes.  Sleep.  As weeks turned to months, my formerly peaceful slumber was routinely interrupted by trips to the bathroom and extreme discomfort — between my sore boobs, full bladder and swollen belly, there was no rest for the weary.  And that, of course, was just the beginning.
Having Liam really threw me for a loop.  I’m not a night owl; I’m a morning person.  Liam was the opposite.  Like many newborns, he had his days and nights mixed up… and before I knew it, I did too.  I was a basket case, a walking zombie.  And it only got worse when Ciara was born.  I remember one morning, I went to pick up the dry cleaning and they asked for my phone number.  I stood there, racking my brain, searching in the deepest corners of my mind and could not for the life of me remember my phone number.  When I finally blurted something out, I had to rescind it as I proclaimed with embarrassment, “Oh wait, that’s my friend Steph’s number!”  
Then came the triplets. Believe me when I tell you, sleep is elusive when you have three babies growing in your belly and a one and three year old still routinely howling in the middle of the night.  As my belly grew bigger, the nights grew longer.  I would wait for sunrise, only to nod off as Liam and Ciara, active toddlers at the time, started clamoring for breakfast.  Perhaps not surprisingly, when the triplets were born, it only got worse.  We were feeding three babies every three hours around the clock while doing our best to provide Liam and Ciara with three square meals a day.  I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that I didn’t get more than 2-3 hours of sleep at a pop for at least three months.

That was three years ago.  Now the triplets are three, Ciara just turned five and Liam is on the verge of turning seven.  They are great kids.  They are great sleepers. But they are still kids.  And there are five of them.  The odds of at least two waking up in the night because “I have to pee,” “I lost my WaWa,” “My tummy hurts,” “I’m thirsty,” or “I had a bad dream.” is about 100%.  This is why my husband and I now play a little game in the middle of the night.  A little game called “Playing Dead.” We are both wide awake, listening to the cries, the sniffles, the coughing, the whining, whatever it may be.  And we lie very very still.  Pretending to sleep.  Keeping our breath shallow and low.  Hoping, praying, yearning for the other one to get up and tend to the tots.  Is this wrong?  This game of Playing Dead? I don’t know.  I suspect there are other overtired parents out there who play dead too.  Because they are tired.  Really, really tired.  And that is why, every once in a while, it is really nice to travel for work.  Because I don’t need to play dead in the middle of the night.  I am dead. Dead asleep! 

In the past two weeks, I’ve taken four of our five kids for their annual physicals; our daughter Ciara turned five four days before the triplets turned three.  How’s that for funky math and a stunning family statistic?!
The month of October is always a hectic one for us and the flurry of physicals can be challenging not only in terms of scheduling logistics (we send the poor pediatrician’s office into a tailspin this time each year!) but also in terms of managing the kids, their expectations and their fears.  Here are some of our tactics for tackling the annual trek to the doctor… and the many visits that will surely come in-between…
1.  Be honest.  Even when our kids were newborns, I’d talk to them and let them know what to expect.  They may have been only months old and not had a clue what I was saying but I’d like to think that mama’s words are soothing, whether they are understood or not. These days, my kids are old enough to understand what’s going on and I’m not going to sugarcoat it — shots hurt!  But, they don’t hurt for long and they are followed by a trip to the treasure chest… not to mention the added perk of a flu-free winter and freedom from a host of nasty diseases.  This is what I tell them.  It is simple and it is true.  Kids like things to be simple and true.  
2.  Be prepared.   I’m not sure if this is sanctioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics or not, but I have a dim recollection of giving our newborns Tylenol as a preemptive strike against the potential nasty side effects of shots. While this may not be recommended, it certainly can’t hurt… well, I don’t think it can… you may want to check with your pediatrician on that!  Something that certainly won’t hurt and most definitely will help is to bring a few of your tot’s favorite things to the annual exam — a blankie, a stuffed animal, a lovey, anything that provides comfort.  Put it in your bag.  You should also be sure to include a bottle or sippy cup since these are sure ways to soothe small sobbing souls. A favorite book can be a good distraction and favorite toy can be a great way to turn their frowns upside down. A few other reminders:  bring diapers, wipes, a change of clothes and all your usual basics.  I once fled the doctor’s office with a kid in a pumpkin costume (it was October!) and nothing else; don’t let this happen to you! 
3.  Be Proud.  You survived another year of motherhood.  As you note the milestones — the pounds gained, inches grown, head circumference charting just right, the transition from breast to bottle, from bottle to sippy cup, from crawling to walking, from cooing to talking — take a moment to consider all YOU have accomplished in the weeks, months, years that have gone by far too fast.  Give yourself a great big hug, a pat on the back, a glass of wine (not ’til you get home though!), whatever makes you feel good.  Because really, raising kids is hard work and the annual physical is as good a time as any to celebrate not only your children’s growth, but yours as well.  You did it.  They did it.  And another year will fly by before you know it so, you might as well take a moment to relish in the joy and wonder of it all now.                                 

It’s hard to believe that October is almost upon us.  It’s even harder to believe that that in the next two weeks, our princess will turn five, our triplets will turn three and friendly Finnegan, our loyal lab has a birthday too.  

Our October is jam-packed.  To add to the insanity (oops, did I say that?  I meant festivity!), we also celebrate our anniversary in October and this year, will be spending a portion of these notable days in Ireland.  I know it’s crazy but we are taking our five fair-skinned, freckle-faced tykes to the land of our origins in the midst of all this birthday bedlam and back to school mayhem.

So, what’s a gal to do?  Truth be told, I do kind of feel like my head is spinning and I’m not quite sure how to pack a family of seven for ten days overseas… when I did the math and arrived at 70 pairs of underwear, I mentally shut down and decided to focus on birthdays instead.  

Four of our five tots share a birthday week and since three of them share not only their date of birth but also have identical DNA, making everyone feel special is always a bit of a trick.  This year, I’ve decided to follow the advice of one of my friend’s Moms.  She recently told me that her Mom approached birthdays with common sense and candor — according to her Mom, a birthday is an important date on the calendar but not the only date to make a fuss, to let someone be a prince or princess for a day.  From what I gather, her Mom was a pragmatist with a great sense of humor and a grounded sense of reality… all traits that I fear we sometime lose in today’s quest for creating those perfect birthday memories.

All too often we seem to fret about where to hold the party, what to put in the goody bag, how many kids to invite, how to bake the perfect cake… the list goes on and on.  Unless, of course, you decide to just say no.  To decide that goody bags are unnecessary, kids aren’t cake critics and the only thing that matters is a hearty dose of fun, love and sure, a gift or two as well.

I recently found myself getting caught up in all of this; after all, it’s easier for me to make lists and strive for perfection than it is to pack all that underwear!  But really, who needs all this pressure for birthday? Isn’t it supposed to be fun?  With this in mind, I ordered a few gifts from Amazon that I have wrapped and ready to take to Ireland for our princess and I have a few more ready for the triplets when we return.  I haven’t sent invitations or planned parties… and I’m not sure that I will.  At five years old, Ciara would like to celebrate with her friends but at three, the triplets are still making friends and certainly won’t hold it against me (I hope!) if we don’t ring in their third year with a bonanza at Tumblebugs.

The moral of the story?  Birthdays are special days and should absolutely be celebrated in a big way.  But, what’s big to a tiny tot may not be big to you… some time together, some stuff to unwrap and a messy cupcake will probably do the trick.  I’ll give it a whirl and let you know how it works out… and, stay tuned for a recap of our adventures in Ireland… birthday and all!

I sense that summer is coming to an end and I have mixed emotions about it.  On the one hand, day camp and swim team have ended, the kids are eternally “bored” and the heat and humidity have pretty much lost their charm. On the other hand, I really love the beach, the pool, our more relaxed summer routine and the longer days that allow me to cram more into my busy life. 


As you may know, last week we were on vacation; our annual trek to Cape Cod included building sand castles, collecting hermit crabs and eating lots of donuts, ice cream and pizza. It occurred to me while we were away that these last weeks of summer are a bit like the last days of disco — reckless, carefree and full of overindulgence.  As we get back into the swing of things this week, I’ve created some Lyons Den ground rules for surviving these lingering summer days while maximizing the enjoyment they bring. 

  1. Back to Basics:  Some simple rules that were suspended for summertime are now back in session.  Bedtime is at 8:00, reading time is mandatory and snack time has to include a “healthy” option — some yogurt, a piece of fruit or maybe some cheese and crackers.  It’s been grand playing with the kids long past their bedtime and looking the other way as they stuffed themselves with “fruit” snacks and chocolate chip granola bars but with the start of the school year a month away, now is the time to start the good, healthy habits that will start the year off right.
  2. No More Nos:  I’m at the point where the shrill shriek of my own voice is annoying.  I’m sick of saying NO!  “No running in the house.  No biting. No, that poop did not “just fall out” on the floor!”  Ok, well, that last example may have been oversharing but sometimes potty training triplets has some nasty side effects.  In any case, I’m sure I’m not alone in the overuse of the “NO”, especially as summer marches on and the kids seem ever more committed to push us to our limits.  But, with just a few weeks left, I’m doing my best to practice what parenting experts have been preaching for ages and turn these negatives into positives.  As in “Outside would be a great place to run if you want to!”  or “If you feel like biting, here’s an apple!” (This is a great way to work in that aforementioned healthy snack!) and “That’s great, I’m so glad you didn’t poop in your pants!  Next time let’s try to make it to the potty though, ok?”
  3. Have fun. I literally wrote this down on our family calendar.  I also wrote down the bedtime reminders, snacking rules and a prompt to locate and read the library books that have gone MIA.  That said, summer isn’t over yet and I’m all for sneaking in a few more ice pops, offering lemonade instead of milk with dinner and milking every ounce of enjoyment we can out of the summer of 2011 before it becomes a fond memory.


Happy little “princess” after some quality time with Dad

If more than one munchkin is calling you Mom, you know how hard it can be to fit in quality one to one time. This is true as it relates to your husband, your sister, your Mom or your best friend. It is especially true when it comes to your kids and naturally, this is the area that tends to give us all the most guilt and anxiety. As a working mom of five kids six and under (including identical two-year old triplets), I really feel the squeeze but over time, have found that little things really do mean a lot. Thankfully, finding a few moments to share with each of my children individually is easier than I thought.


Quality time with your tots need not involve elaborate planning, great expense or even a huge time commitment. I’ve seen the faces of my own little tykes light up like a Christmas tree by suggestions as simple as “who wants to come walk the dog?” or “I’m going out to get milk, anyone want to join me?” or even “I need to move the car – want to go for a ride?” These minor moments offer the opportunity to share some quality time and the kids always appreciate it, even if it’s as simple as a walk to the corner — which, sadly, on some days, is all our poor dog gets (his one to one time is pretty much gone!).


One day last summer, I took one of the triplets (who was 18 months at the time) with me to get a present for an upcoming birthday party. Truth be told, it was (and still is!) rare that I get one of the triplets out on his own but, it is so gratifying whenever I do that I am committed to doing so more often. On this particular day, as I walked up Main Street with Declan, I couldn’t help but marvel at what a funny little guy he is; I found that there are few things more endearing than the stream of consciousness observations that only a one and a half year old can provide: “Flower. Plane. Bye Bye! Hello! Bug. Bee. BUS! Big bus! Hello! Sky? Moon? HELLO!” And then, when we entered the toy store and he set his eyes upon a stuffed bear the size of his Dad, “Wow! WOW, WOW, WOW!”


The reality is that I enjoy our “alone time” as much as the kids do. My husband Des and I do our best to create quality time out of routine tasks… picking up Friday night take-out has become my daughter’s date night with Dad; all it takes is fifteen minutes and a Shirley temple and my feisty four year old returns a new little lady. We also try to plan a special day out for each our kids – it might be an annual trip to Yankee Stadium for my six year old, a trip to the zoo with my daughter and time will tell what we come up with for the triplets. For now, they are content when their one to one time is a trip to the pediatrician for an ear infection; given how low their standards are, we have nowhere to go but up! Or, perhaps, we have nowhere to go at all… a recent Sunday afternoon with just one little fella in a bubble bath proved to be, well, in his mind, a real splash!


So, if you struggle like I do with finding time to squeeze it all in, just remember that the little things matter most. Your kids will be grateful for any window of time you give them… and, hopefully, your husband, sister, Mom and best friend will realize that for now, they just may have to wait!


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!  :)