I recently wrote about Finnegan, our friendly family pet.  I mentioned that when Finn was a pup, I lost more sleep than when Liam was a newborn.  What I didn’t mention, but now feel compelled to, is that dear Finnegan STILL keeps us up at night. 

Our kids are amazing — they were ALL sleeping through the night between three and six months.  Of course, between the five of them, we are always up for something — a lost “WaWa”, a trip to the bathroom, a bad dream, a bad cold or a teething tot.  Even so, on most nights, we get a solid 6-8 hours of uninterupted sleep.  Unless Finnegan happens to be in our room — in which case, it’s more like 6-8 hours of constantly interupted sleep!

Take last night, for instance.  I nodded off just before midnight.  At 3 AM I was awakened by what can only be described as a loud flapping noise that seemed to be getting closer and closer… and frankly, had an accompanying odor, whine and whimper.  As Des rolled over and hid under the covers, I found myself face to face with Finn.  As he nuzzled his head next to my pillow I realized what the problem was, Finn had yet another ear infection.  Amazing, isn’t it, that with three kids in the house of ear-infection age, it’s the DOG that has one and is waking me up!

For a few minutes, I tried to ignore him.  For a few minutes, I tried rubbing his head.  At a loss by 3:30, I invited him to hop up on the bed.  No sooner had he jumped up though, when he had an ear flapping, ear itching self-imposed attack that created an effect I’ve only seen in the movies –it was that Vacation movie when Chevy Chase puts a quarter in the bed and it starts to gyrate and shake… who knew that kind of fun could be had for free if only you invited a 96 pound dog with an ear infection to join you in the middle of the night?!

Poor Finn flapped his ears to and fro with such vigor that he actually FELL OFF THE BED.  Needless to say, when 96 pounds of dog hits the floor it, it pretty much makes the whole house shake and roused me out of bed as well.  I took Finn downstairs and as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I found the stuff to flush his ears along with the meds from his last ear infection, which fortunately hadn’t expired.  After a rousing game of hide and seek — which is oh so fun to play with a dog dodging ear drops at 3:45AM — I finally cornered him and administered what I hoped would be some relief.

As the town bells chimed 4AM, I bid adieu to Finny… leaving him with a kiss on the nose and an apology as I slammed the door that would keep him downstairs so that I might finally get upstairs to log in a few zzz’s before sunrise… which I did.  When I got up this morning and admired the dark circles under my eyes, it dawned on me that yes, Finny may be man’s best friend but he’s really also just one of the kids… and he’s lucky that he’s their best friend as well or I wouldn’t have been nearly as sympathetic to his night-time antics!

Out to Lunch

March 16th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Dining out with kids | Out and About - (0 Comments)
It is rare that we venture out to lunch or dinner with five tots in tow but over the course of the past month, we’ve actually done both. We went out to lunch for Valentine’s Day – and oh yes, trying to eat a burrito while ducking the flying sippy cups and picking crayons up off the floor was very romantic indeed! Even so, it beat cooking and cleaning up for a change – especially since, let’s face it, burritos are not typically on the lunch menu here at the Lyons Den!

Our dinner outing proved to be even more of an adventure. On a recent Sunday night, we decided to check out a new restaurant in town after we dragged the kids to the 5:00 mass. That’s right, we dragged all five kids to mass. And then, after shushing the big ones and wrestling the little ones for the better part of an hour, we thought it would be a swell idea to take them out in their Sunday best for a fine meal. Um, yeah, right. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fine meal indeed – but good grief, what a MESS we left behind! And, given the amount of time I once again spent on the floor – this time picking up Cheerios, oyster crackers, goldfish, fish sticks, French fries, sippy cups, napkins, sticker books, spoons, etc.! – I started to wonder if it’s worth the hassle of dining out with so many kids.

Our fellow diners couldn’t help but make comments like “Wow, you’re very brave. We only had TWO kids and we NEVER ate out!” To which I’d perkily reply “Well, I suppose we are very brave… or possibly just insane… time will tell!” Because, of course, when dining out with kids, it’s really all about the timing… how fast can we order, how quickly can the kitchen whip up (or in the case of the kids, deep fry!) our meal, and how quickly can we shove it in before there is a meltdown of sorts.

Admittedly, this race against the clock doesn’t necessarily sound like a recipe for a fun night out. In retrospect though, we did have a good time. We left with our bellies full and, for better or worse, with someone else to clean up the mess we left behind. And the more I think about it, the more I can’t help but feel sorry for those TWO kids who NEVER ate out. What a shame it would be to simply stay home for fear of that aforementioned meltdown or flying sippy cup. And really, what is dining out if not a lesson for kids in how to behave? To practice their “Ps & Qs” (as in Please and ThankQs) and be justly rewarded for good behavior with a brownie sundae or some other such delight that would never be served at home. At the end of the day, I’m not sure if I am/we are very brave or perhaps slightly insane. But, I do know that the sidelong glances I get whenever we eat out with our five little “cubs” would suggest there are many out there who think that I truly am “out to lunch”… in more ways than one!

I thought I would share a few highlights (truly lowlights!) from my morning yesterday… lest you should think it’s all laughs and giggles in the Lyons Den… which it often is, but on this particular morning, was not!

 I think, perhaps, it all went awry when I broke routine by opting to hit snooze instead of dragging my butt out of bed for a run. Without my “me” moment secured prior to the rise of five little “cubs”, I found myself irritable and angry before the kids were even out of bed. So much for the benefit of the snooze button!

 Liam bore the brunt of it before he gratefully departed for the school bus… “Get up! Get dressed! Faster! Eat your toast! Over your plate! Drink your juice! I don’t care if you don’t want a turkey sandwich for lunch, that’s what you’re getting! Where are your shoes? You DO need a coat! Eat! Faster! You’re going to be late!” Poor kid… I bet he thought it was the morning from hell too.

 Then Ciara arrived on the scene… never in my wildest dreams would I imagine I’d say “You are NOT wearing THAT to school!” to a THREE year old! Let’s face it, I need to lighten up!

 As I barked at Des to get Ciara breakfast, finish unloading the dishwasher and feed the dog, I raced up the stairs for a quick shower knowing that I was going to barely make my train to the city. I flew by the babies’ room and was stunned by the stench wafting out the door. That and the cries probably would have stopped most Moms but I was a manic Mom on a mission and my mission was to get to work on time!

 I knew it was bad when I could hear the waiing from the shower. Swearing to myself, I once again skipped shaving my legs, didn’t use conditioner and didn’t even consider moisturizer. It was 8:14; my train was at 8:41. I was wet, naked, angry and knew I had to face my poor screaming, smelly kids. As I entered their room, I literally had to gasp for air. The odor of overnight drenched diapers filled with some horrid excrement was almost too much to bear. Doing my best to put on a happy face, I stripped them all down and disposed of some the nastiest diapers I’ve ever seen… and trust me, I’ve seen a LOT of nasty diapers. Time check: 8:24. That left me just about 9 minutes to get dressed, do my hair and slap on some mascara. Not good.

 Not surprisingly, my “go to” outfit was at the cleaners and nothing else was clean. I had to settle for a snot-stained cardigan with too tight pants that were covered with dog hair. Not a confidence-building look, to say the very least. Time check: 8:33. I popped my mascara in my bag, blew air kisses to the kids, barked a few more orders at Des and RAN for the train. I arrived at the station a sweaty mess just as the train rolled in. I sat down, sent Des a text apologizing for my bad behavior and promised not to skip my morning run again… meaning the run that takes me for a few serene miles rather than a mad bolt for the train!

 Today, as I expected, got off to a better start. I got my mileage in before the tots woke up and I made the train with my makeup on my face instead of in my bag. As I overheard a woman whine to the conductor, “I can’t find my ticket but really, I’m lucky I even made it out of the house, I’ve got TWO kids at home.” I just smiled and sighed. A morning from hell is a morning from hell – and we all have them whether you’ve got two kids or five!

 PS Please note that the lack of a photo accompanying this post is quite deliberate. I’m sure you’ll understand that the morning from hell needs no pictorial evidence!

Man’s Best Friend

March 5th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Meet Finnegan.  Finnegan is a “Glab”… that would be a Golden Retriever/Lab mix, for those of you who were wondering.  Probably much in the same way I was wondering what the hell a “glab” was when I returned home from work one day about six years ago to find this message on our answering machine:  “Hello, this is the Guiding Eyes for the Blind calling to let you know that your Glab is ready for pick up this weekend.”

Seriously?!  We had put our name on the Guiding Eyes waiting list for “released” dogs just a few months before with the understanding that it typically took years before the perfectly trained dog of our dreams failed the final test and became our ideal second pet.  That’s right, our second pet.  At the time, we lived in a one bedroom apartment in the city with Murphy, an 85-lb. fluffy golden retriever with a heart of gold.  We thought it would be nice for Murph to have a pal around as he entered his golden years but at the same time, we were thinking of starting a family and couldn’t see how we were going to fit Murphy, our baby-to-be and this “Glab” in our overly cozy living quarters.

When I returned the call, I learned that this Glab was not, in fact, fully trained with the impeccable manners one associates with a guide dog but rather, was an 8 week old clumsy pup that had essentially failed his entrance exam.  He “lacked confidence” they said as they assured me he’d be a great family pet.  Never one to resist the allure of a pudgy pup, I convinced Des that the right thing to do was to go get this Glab. It was meant to be, I said.  There will never be a good time to get a second dog so, why not now?  Plus, if we didn’t rescue this timid creature who was already a failure at only 8 weeks old, who knew what kind of a fate would await him?!

I’ve often said that I lost more sleep when Finn was a pup than when Liam was a newborn.  He was the puppy from hell.  Once he met us, he became one of the most confident dogs around and we’ve always been convinced that he flunked that Guiding Eyes test on purpose because he didn’t want to work for a living.  He drove poor old Murphy crazy and drove our neighbors crazy too.  When we’d crate him for the night, he’d cry and howl until we set him free.  Once free, he feast on non-edibles that included a pair of brand new  glasses, refrigerator magnets and a ballpoint pen — the pen incident was especially tragic since he left a blue ink trail across our brand new rug and, rather astonishingly, had blue poop for about a week.

Fast forward to today… Finn is still a bit of a spaz but you couldn’t wish for a better family pet.  When Liam was born, Finn would rest his head on the bassinette watching over him.  When Ciara was born, he’d spend his afternoons snoozing protectively in front of her crib.  And when the triplets were born, well, I think he finally met his match!  These babies have spent last year drooling on him, biting him, pulling his fur out, climbing over him, yanking his tail, “patting” him and trying to ride him.  Finnegan takes it all in stride, calmly accepting the “attention” that’s bestowed upon him. I suppose the babies have a symbiotic relationship with Finn; he tolerates their somewhat abusive behavior they let him eat off their high chairs.  A fact that I’m not necessarily proud of but what can I say, it helps with the clean up!

Finn seems to have a special kinship with Declan but all five kids adore him.  Liam likes to walk him, Ciara likes to feed him, the babies think he’s one of them and it all just reinforces how lucky we are to have given this “Glab” a home — he has truly lived up to the billing of “man’s best friend” in our little Lyons Den.

Many of you are probably familiar with the story of the “5 Little Ducks”… if so, you may know that the story has an accompanying song. It’s kind of a catchy tune (I’m ashamed to admit!) and if you know it, you should feel free to hum along as you read the following.

As we bundled up for snowbound adventures this past weekend, I couldn’t help but hum to myself…

Five little cubs went out one day
Out in the snow and into their sleigh,
The biggest one said “I want to pull”
And four little cubs were left there still.

Four little cubs went out one day
Into the sled and far away
The little girl cub said “GET OFF ME”
She hopped out and then there were three.

Three little cubs went out one day
Bouncing along in their blue sleigh
The one in back cried boo hoo hoo,
We took him out and then there were two.

Two little cubs went out one day
Slipping and sliding in their sleigh,
They were having so much fun,
‘Til we hit a big bump and then there was one!

One little cub went out one day,
Feeling all alone in his big sleigh,
He waved his arms and he smiled a big grin,
And the four other cubs went running back to him.

Last week marked a notable “first” for the Lyons Den. Our first kid lost his first tooth. It shouldn’t have come as a big surprise – he’s been wiggling it for weeks and many of his friends have been proudly boasting toothless smiles for months. However, when that little tooth finally popped out and Liam called my dad to announce “I lost my toof Pop-Pop! I LOST MY TOOF!” I had tears in my eyes. This, I thought, is the end of an era.

There have been many signs along the way that might have alerted me to the fact that the five year old before me is no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, but a real kid — “all boy” as his teacher told me last week. This kid, this boisterous little boy, goes to school, makes his bed, puts his dishes in the dishwasher, gets himself dressed and is (far too!) frequently charged with supervising his siblings. We often treat him like a little adult and he responds in kind – sometimes even sauntering with his hands in pockets like a wise little man far beyond his five years. Why then, I wonder, have I been so moved, so caught off guard by the loss of his first tooth? I suppose it’s because this tooth seems like a beacon of things to come — of other notable firsts. First grade, for instance, looms right around the corner!

As Des and I talked over dinner that night, he said “You know, he’ll make a good husband one day.” WHAT?!! A husband?! But he’s only five! Somehow this tooth has us marrying the kid off! While we’re at it, I asked “What we do with the tooth?” Of course, Liam was expecting the tooth fairy to whisk it away… and so she did. But now what? Des said “Just throw it away.” Throw it away?! This perfectly formed little piece porcelain? How could we?!

And then it came to me – we can give it to his wife on their wedding day! There. Now I feel better. I will hold on to that tooth and it will be a gift for the lucky Mrs. Liam Lyons to be. Maybe. Or realistically, maybe not. Either way, I’m not letting go of this first tooth for a long long time. And, just as Liam continues to believe in the Tooth Fairy and eagerly awaits the telltale wiggling of the next tooth, I have to believe that this is a kid who will happily ever after. After all, isn’t that what fairy tales are for?

Although they are only a year old, our little Cubs are making their presence known and it is already painfully clear that there are far too many cooks in our kitchen! Dinner at our house, like dinner in most houses, is a chaotic time of the day… especially during the week. Here’s a typical weeknight scenario:

5:45 I get home from work

5:46 The babysitter runs for the train… like a bat out of hell, if I do say so myself!

5:47 I find myself literally pulled to the floor, under attack by five snot-nosed kids, all of whom are tired, hungry and in desperate need of attention. As I try to squeeze all of them onto my lap, they are knocked off by Finny, our very own big red dog, who then plunks his 80-lb rear right onto my dry-clean-only pants. I know I should be completely focused on the tykes before me but, I can’t help but wonder how much it will cost to get the snot, drool and dog hair removed from my work clothes.

5:55 I shake myself loose from the pile-up leaving a trail of angry, needy tots in my wake. I head to the kitchen in search of the leftovers I plan to reheat for dinner. Much to my dismay, they have disappeared and while I dig around hopefully searching for Plan B to appear in the Netherlands of the fridge, I feel several small bodies pressing against me, pushing the door open wider. Before anyone can say “what’s for dinner?!”, Kevin, Declan and Cormac have removed the motley collection of jams, mustards, dressings and sauces from the refrigerator door and have begun a jolly game of “Condiment Bowling”.

6:05 With the refrigerator door stripped bare, my eyes are drawn to the only remaining option for dinner tonight… Dinner Eggs! Again! The kids start whooping with joy at the time-honored family favorite of “breakfast for dinner.” It is at this point that Des gets home from work… wondering, once again, how it is that he ended up with a wife whose only specialty is Dinner Eggs.

6:15 Dinner is served! Scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast (with the jam I have now reclaimed from the babies), bananas and OJ… Bon Appetit!

As Finny diligently cleans up the crumbs on the floor, I finally exhale. It is now 6:45 and we’ve survived another weeknight dinner. It may not have been a gourmet meal but, in my book, it met all the basic nutritional requirements — with the added bonus of only ten minutes of prep time and the satisfaction of five contenders for the “clean plate club.”

In our house, dessert is the just reward for a clean plate… and, though it’s rare, the best of all possible desserts is cake! Assuming that you like to have your cake and eat it too, please visit http://www.kelly-confidential.com/ to vote in the Cake OffElectrolux is donating $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for every vote so, GO VOTE and urge your pals to do the same! As an FYI, if you log on and send a virtual cake, you will be automatically entered to win an Electrolux Induction Range – which I bet will make dinner simpler, no matter how many cooks you have in your kitchen!


Simple Pleasures

February 13th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Today I took Liam and Ciara to see “Elmo Grows Up” at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.  It was our first foray into the world of live kid’s shows… and, it just might be our last.  Here’s the deal — that fluffy red monster has a voice that could peel paint off walls.  I swear that even Ciara was rolling her eyes through most of it while Liam was just feigning interest so as not to disappoint me as I asked if he was having a great time.  He wasn’t.  She wasn’t.  But even so, they wanted all the trinkets and tchockes that were for sale… cotton candy, popcorn, Elmo ballons, Elmo activity books, Elmo water bottles — you get the picture.  And, it’s not pretty!

Here’s what I learned from today’s outing:  I learned what my kids really love — they love train rides.  They love adventure — even if the form it takes is ducking through the turnstiles on the subway or holding hands while racing through Grand Central at rush hour.  One of the highlights of the day was following Liam’s suggestion to ride the escalators in the Grand Hyatt.  Why were we in the Grand Hyatt you wonder?  To use the bathroom, of course!  This is actually a great tip for any city-bound day out with the kids… do NOT seek out the restrooms in train stations, gas stations or Starbucks.  DO seek out bathrooms in the pristinely clean and very nice hotels that can be found on virtually any street corner in New York… a few of our favs are at the Waldorf, the Mandarin Oriental and now, thanks to the escalators, the Grand Hyatt.

In any case, I think what made riding the escalators such an exhilerating experience for them was simply this – it was their idea and I listened to them.  For a change, I followed their suggestion instead of dismissing it with an authoritative “not now, maybe later, no, can’t do it, babies are crying, it’s time for bed, I have to go, you have to go, just can’t do it!” Words can’t do justice to the lovely, simple pleasure it was just to hold their hands and watch them squeal with a combination of joy and nervousness each time we hopped on and off the “magic stairs”.  I think the last time we had such a carefree moment was when I gave in to an ice cream request one day this summer despite the fact that it was “close to dinnertime/going to melt/a bad idea/you’ll get a bellyache,” etc.

So, should your tots ever see a commerical for “Elmo Grows Up”, “Disney on Ice” or whatever the show du jour is, I suggest you “just say no” — and then hop on a train and see where the day takes you. While you’re at it, listen to what your kids have to say — I’m going to try to do so more often myself.

Snow Day!

February 11th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
I’m not sure it would be fair to say that our little Cubs truly enjoyed their first major snowstorm.  Truth be told, I’m not sure it would be fair to say that I enjoyed it either!  It took us at least three times as long to get ready as the total amount of time we spent outside. There were more than a few tears shed as I wrestled them into bulky boots, cumbersome coats and mittens that only stayed on for minutes. 
It’s kind of cute — and let’s just admit it — pretty funny when you see a bundled up baby toddling along in the snow until he inevitably hits the point where he “falls and can’t get up.”  The thing is, while it’s funny at first with three of them, it immediately becomes a rather significant logistical issue when there are three tots flailing face-down in the snow while their big brother and sister are sailing down the street in an unsupervised sled!
All in though, it was a great day and the memories will be of the goofy toothy smiles, first tastes of snowflakes and Liam and Ciara pulling the babies in a sled. 
However, another more ironic memory that I can’t help but share will be this… as the snow swirled, the wind blew and the temperature dropped into the 20s, the US Postal Service stayed true to their mission and delivered the mail despite the severe weather… I suppose our mailman knew that he was delivering a very special package that would warm the hearts within our humble home.  You got it folks — the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue!  Fortunately, Liam and his pal from down the street were too busy creating signs that said “No grrls alud” to notice but, Des couldn’t help but be taken by the scantily clad babes.  I can’t say I blame him given that I spent the day looking like the Abominable Snowman… and, just might spend the night that way too.  In any case, for now I’m just grateful that there’s only one guy in the house who cares about this esteemed annual issue… just imagine the fights that will break out when Des, Liam, Kevin, Declan and Cormac all want to get their hands on it!  They’ll probably need an arctic blast like the one we got today to settle them down… until then, well, back to the blissful memories of babes in sleds.

Where’s WaWa?

February 4th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Last night, we were defeated once again by an unwanted game of “Where’s WaWa” that our little cubs take great joy in torturing us with. To understand the logistics of “Where’s WaWa”, you first need a brief history of the WaWa.

When Liam (now 5) was just weeks old, one of my friend’s sent us little blue dog-shaped blankie — you might call it a lovey or a security blanket or, as we called it, a “woobie.”  Liam instantly took to his “woobie” and we violated every rule in the book as we peered into his basinette, watching him sleep… with his beloved woobie OVER HIS FACE.  We knew that we weren’t supposed to put anything in our newborn’s bed.  We knew the SIDS police would have us arrested… and probably should have!  However, since we hadn’t slept for more than three hours at a stretch for at least six weeks, we were exhausted and we were desperate.  So, we left Liam with his woobie and we all slept through the night. 

Liam slept with that woobie on his head for years — and, when he started to talk, one of his first words was “WeeWee.”  We were confused at first but quickly figured out that “WeeWee” was “woobie” and before we knew it, the name stuck.

Then along came Ciara… who, after many sleepless nights, finally got a WeeWee of her own.  Hers was a little pink lamb and she took to it instantly… like Liam, she put the thing on her head and effortlessly went off to the land of nod.  It worked like a charm and we chuckled for months over the admittely bad joke that Ciara was the only girl on the block with a WeeWee… until, of course, she started to talk and one of her first words was “WaWa.”  No WeeWees for this young lady! 

Everytime we left the house, instead of last minute checks like “is the oven off? did you lock the door? do you have the diaper bag?”  Des and I always asked “do you have WeeWee and WaWa?!” … because we knew that wherever we went, we would be doomed if WeeWee and WaWa weren’t along for the ride.

Fast forward to the birth of triplets.  Frankly, I’ve always been pacifier-averse because selfishly, I don’t want to be getting up ten times a night to pop the binky back in the baby’s — or in this case, babies’ — mouth!  As you might imagine, to us WaWa’s equal sleep and as such, they were on the top of our wish list when the cubs were born.  Thankfully, this wish was granted.  Kevin took to his “Puppy WaWa”, Declan to “Monkey WaWa” and Cormac to “Lion WaWa.”  All three of them blissfully suc,k snuggle, chew and cuddle their WaWas as they drift off to sleep.  It was all going really well until a few months ago when they started to play “Where’s WaWa?” well after the midnight hour. 

As they toss and turn and flail about as only a baby can, their WaWa’s get “lost” — maybe it’s at the top of the crib while they’re at the bottom.  Maybe it’s fallen — or, more likely, been pushed — through the crib slats.  Maybe it’s tucked between the crib slats and the wall.  Wherever WaWa may be, if it’s not safely ensconced beneath a snoozing cub, that cub is wide awake and wailing… and will not rest until WaWa has been returned. 

Much to my dismay, we’re now up at various points in the night goin’ on a WaWa hunt. Des has been known to mumble in sleep-deprived stupor “Can’t they find their own f-ing WaWAs?!!”  while I shamefully pretend to be sleeping.  Bottom line, perhaps a paci would have been eaiser but, more often than not, the WaWas still equal sleep… for at least a few hours.  And, while I certainly don’t enjoy our games of “Where’s WaWa” at 3AM, I have a funny feeling that it just might be one of the things I end up missing.  Until then, I look forward to the day these guys start to talk and come up with a name of their own for their sweet bedtime buddies.  

In case you’d like to introduce your little one to the joys of the WaWa, you can buy one at: