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A new year, a new plan

January 4th, 2013 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

A few weeks have flown by with nary a post from me and I hope you’ll forgive me for that.  Last year, I was full of tips for holiday sanity savers and this year, I almost lost my sanity!  As you may know, we moved at the end of October — and, it really threw me for a loop!  Then there was Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy that thankfully had minimal impact on us but nonetheless, caused some major disruptions and additional chaos.   Then I had a few business trips which, while a welcome excuse for a full night’s sleep, always seem to put things in a tailspin at home.  Suddenly, it was the week before Christmas and not a present was purchased, not a gift was wrapped and the cookies that had been baked had all been eaten!  To top things off, between Thanksgiving and, well, yesterday, we consistently had at least one of our five children home sick from school.  It hasn’t been easy.  But I’m not sharing this to create a pity party, I’m sharing so you understand why in the midst of it all, I had to focus more on our family and less on my writing and sharing our escapades.  And, needless to say, there were few escapades worth sharing during the past few snot-infused weeks!

Ok, so, now what?  I have to say, things are looking up.  We had a wonderful Christmas and a new year always reboots my engine.  I’m filled with hope and optimism for the year that lies ahead.  I’m relishing the warm, fuzzy memories of my time off with the kids over the holidays and I’m (somewhat!) rested after a break from work. So what’s the plan now?  I hope to get back into the routine of sharing Tuesday Tips (or Quips!) on a weekly basis and look forward to continuing to contribute routinely to The Huffington Post and Moonfrye — I hope you’ll come visit me there if you haven’t already!

If you have ideas on “tips and quips” you’d like me to share, please let me know and in the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to follow the adventures of the Lyons Den and hopefully, look forward to a weekly post from yours truly.  I also hope your new year is off to a good start and filled with love, laughter, hope, health, happiness and humor!

 

 Mom's basic needs: Sleep, exercise & nutrition!

Mom's basic needs: Sleep, nutrition & exercise!

Do you remember what it was like being pregnant? Whether you loved it or hated it, you probably treated your body like the temple it is.  You probably made sure you ate properly, exercised routinely and got plenty of rest.  And then your bouncing baby was born and in all likelihood, your dedication to nutrition, exercise and ample sleep went out the window just as your bundle of joy came through the front door.  Why is this? Why can’t we continue to give ourselves the care we deserve once motherhood arrives?

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are extremely valid reasons for why we put our own needs on the back burner; we do this, of course, because there is a small new life that requires love, feeding and attention, 24/7.  Those first few days, weeks, months are a blur.  Your baby mixes up days and nights and, at times, you might too.  Sleep as you knew it becomes just a dim, fond memory.  Exercise is impossible when energy is low and time is sparse.  As for nutrition, well, if you’re anything like me, you start to think that a few cookies and some coffee suffice as a meal.  Not good, right?

Then suddenly those months become years.  Your kids are sleeping through the night and so are you; although given your daily demands, eight hours of shut-eye are probably a rarity and six hours or less may be the new norm.  Why?   Because your days – and nights – are busier then ever; there are school conferences, soccer practices, ballet lessons, playdates and bake sales.  There’s homework to check, emails to return and forms to fill out.  Dinner is often on the go; despite your best efforts, a few nuggets before the game may suffice for what was once a sit-down meal.  As for exercise, well, does running to the car count?  Honest answer: no.  This is all just no good.  And recently, the pressure of juggling these ongoing obligations along with an intense job, frequent writing, five feisty (and frequently sick!) kids and the pressure of the holidays really got me down.

I was sick.  Physically, I had a nasty upper respiratory infection that migrated to what I think was a strain of the flu; that’s the only explanation I have for why I spent most of Monday in the fetal position battling chills and nausea while my hacking cough prevailed. Emotionally, I was a wreck.  Angry. Sad. Overwhelmed. Nasty to my husband. Short-tempered with my kids.  Isn’t this supposed to be the “happiest time of the year?”  Well, it should be. And, I believe it can be.  If we all give ourselves the gift of rest.  The permission to say no. The latitude to tuck in early or sleep in late. To skip the bake sale because you’re going to the gym.  To just say no to nuggets and make sit-down meals a staple once again.  You deserve it. We deserve it.  And, just like that time your newborn first slept through the night,  you will realize how much better the world looks when you’ve had a full night’s sleep!

Tuesday Tip: Tell the Truth

August 29th, 2012 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Last weekend, I realized once again how important it is to always tell the truth. And to teach our kids to do the same.

The trouble began on Saturday morning.  I put a dozen eggs on the counter and when I emerged from the bathroom, a  dozen eggs were smashed on the floor.  Want to know the truth?  I freaked out. I yelled and demanded to know whodunit.  And then, much to my surprise, a little voice said “Sorry Ma, it was an accident.”  And I smiled and thought smug thoughts about what a swell job we’re doing raising honest kids who take responsibility for their actions.  And then Sunday morning happened.

This time I was actually scrambling a dozen eggs (yes, we buy a LOT of eggs!) when I heard a howl from above.  I ran upstairs to discover one sad little boy whose WaWa (our endearing term for a lovely blanket), pillow, bed and wall had been slathered in A&D Ointment.  Are you familiar with A&D Ointment?  It has a distinctly medicinal scent and the consistency of Vaseline. And it was everywhere. And I was pissed.  So I yelled again.  I really yelled.

“WHO DID THIS?!” I shrieked. And four sets of unblinking eyes looked back at me in defiance, each seeming to say, “Not me.” “You’ll never know.” Or “you’d like to know, wouldn’t you?”  They never fessed up.  So much for raising honest kids who take responsibility for their actions!  What to do?

I decided to tell them the truth.  To remind them how proud I’d been the day before when a guilty little fella fessed up.  And how disappointed I was that they didn’t.  I told them that I make mistakes.  Lots of them. Like yelling at them like a crazy woman.  I explained that nothing is more important than the truth.  I believe this.  And I hope my actions will teach them to believe it too.  So that one day, when our worries are larger than broken eggs or “ointment art”, they will confide in me.  Until then, I will try to yell less and just be grateful that everyone still wants to eat eggs together on the weekend!

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken yesterday:

Newborn triplets: Kev, Dec and Mac snuggle up together   

But, it wasn’t.  As it turns out, this picture was taken over three and a half years ago, when Kevin, Declan and Cormac first came home from the hospital.  They were four days old.  They shared a crib.  For months.  And, in what feels like the blink of the eye, they now sleep here:

“Big Boy Beds” aka crib mattresses on floor!

They made the big move last weekend and I have to say, it was a long time coming.  Not in the literal sense — it’s not like I spent months prepping them for the big move, reading books about the transition or frankly, designing the ideal sleep space or investing in the perfect bedroom set (as the picture will clearly attest!). When I say it was “a long time coming”, I mean that our little fellas have been climbing out of their beds for a long time.  They have been asking for beds. They told us they were ready and finally, we listened.

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I just realized that I haven’t posted in two weeks. TWO WEEKS!  Why?  Well, I suppose one week was so chock full of end of school activities that I hardly had time to breathe (let alone write!) and the following week, our family took a much needed and totally unplugged week off.  Totally unplugged. I was so unplugged that when I returned to work today, the universal greeting seemed to be, “Wow, you really took the week off!  You weren’t even on email!” Comments like these completely validated my need for a vacation — and just might inspire me to start planning the next one.  But, before I do, I thought I’d share some packing tips to help you bring what you need — and leave behind what you don’t — on your family’s summer getaway.

As you might have read, I have officially declared this summer The Summer of Independence.  It’s time that our kids started pulling their weight in the most literal sense.  If they want it, they have to carry it.  That’s why for our summer vacation, each kid got one bag and one bag only.  One small bag that contained all they needed (and could carry themselves!) for a week at the beach.  In case you’re wondering exactly what a kid needs for a week filled with sun and surf, well, it’s not much.  This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way over many years of overpacking.  Another thing I’ve learned is that Mother Nature is unpredictable and it’s best to have a sweatshirt and jeans or sweatpants (affectionately called “cozy pants” in our house) in addition to the swim basics.  So, in short, here’s all you need to know as you plan to pack up and hit the road this summer:

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The Food Yenta's new tote bag is awesome - just like her.

The Food Yenta's new tote bag is awesome - just like her.

I mentioned earlier in the year that I might be doing less blogging in an effort to be spending more time with my family.  If you noticed I’ve been MIA the past few weeks, that’s probably why — although, it’s also been a busy few weeks at work and I recently had the privilege of writing for the Huffington Post so, needless to say, there hasn’t been a lot of spare time!

In the midst of it all the working, writing and wrangling of wily children, I had the good fortune to enjoy a fun night out with some local bloggers and, as always, I was so impressed and flattered to be in their company.  I’m going to start routinely sharing some of these gal pals with you because, frankly, if you don’t know them, you should.  The first is The Food Yenta. She is funny, she is awesome and she is just like you and me — well, depending on your cooking skills, she may be more like you!  In any case, she is incredible and she shares tasty, quick, easy, family-friendly recipes on her site several days a week.  If I wanted to keep this Tuesday’s Tip really short and sweet, I’d simply say “Follow The Food Yenta!” But, since she has some great parenting tips of her own, I thought I’d share them with you here…

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I am an animal lover.  I adore animals and have since I was a child.  Which is why last week was a truly superb week here in the Lyons Den.  For starters, we had three small chicks sleep over as part of a second grade science project — little balls of fluffy cuteness that elicited smiles and squeals of delight.  And I’m not just talking about the kids!

 

Does it get cuter than this? FYI, chick three was camera-shy.

Does it get cuter than this? FYI, chick three was camera-shy.

As if the chick visitation wasn’t enough, we also had Liam’s class trip to the Bronx Zoo — one of my favorite places and, always a joy to see through the eyes of a child… even in the pouring rain.  Here’s a brief recap…

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When I mentioned to people that we were headed to Boston to visit friends for Memorial Day weekend, I was met with a consistent chorus of “All of you?!”  I’m not sure if the stunned responses were aimed at us for being brave enough to battle holiday weekend traffic with five kids in a minivan or our friends, for being brave enough to invite the Lyons Family Circus to town.  Again.

These are very very good friends.  We have been visiting them once or twice a year for as long as I can remember — including those dicey days when we had five kids under five and would roll in with a car full of pack and plays, strollers, high chairs and, more often than not, at least one smelly child who had been sitting in his or her own stink (from either a diaper or projectile vomit or both) for hours in the aforementioned traffic.

How do we do it?  Well, for starters, we’ve gotten pretty good at planning and packing — and, we’ve learned over the years that rarely do we leave when we plan to, arrive when we hope to or survive any extended road trip without pulling over at least once for a roadside bathroom or vomit break. That’s just the way we roll.  Here are a few tips to help you roll to wherever the road takes you in Summer 2012. (more…)

I tend to find myself feeling a bit, well, schmoopy, this time of year.   As the seasons change and class picnics and school concerts fill the calendar, I am reminded daily of how fleeting this time with our children is; of how today’s hardships provide tomorrow’s humor and how, in the blink of an eye, these little ones who needed us move on, move up and move out.

One of life's simple pleasures: Puddle Jumping!

One of life's simple pleasures: Puddle Jumping!

Ok, technically, with our oldest only seven, I know that no one is moving out any time soon but, I can’t help but be struck by the fact that our seven and five year old are pretty much over me.  Sure, they still need me in some ways but, I’m no longer the center of their world.  Whereas they once thought I could do no wrong, they now know that I can and do.  They are smart, independent and savvy.  And that’s the way it should be.

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Lesson One: Insects have six legs

Lesson One: Insects have six legs

This week I had the pleasure of accompanying my daughter’s Kindergarten class on a field trip to our local Audubon Society. I’m pretty sure it was all the more pleasurable because I got to ride in my own car (aka Swagger Wagon) drinking coffee rather than bouncing along in the school bus belching up breakfast.

Transportation issues aside, I learned a lot in my few hours at the Audubon with twenty five-year olds. For starters, I really learned a lot about bugs. While I might have preferred to focus more on flora and fauna, insects were the topic du jour. Did you know, for instance, that an insect by definition has six legs? Or that monarch butterflies (technically not insects!) only lay eggs on milkweed? Or that treasure troves of creepy, crawly bugs live under rocks and fallen branches? That one wasn’t a total newsflash to me but some of the other tidbits most certainly were.

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