What were you doing today at 7AM?  I had just gotten home from a run.  It was a hard run.  I was tired.  I thought that perhaps the kids would still be asleep and I could have a few quiet moments with my coffee on the porch to wake up — and armor up — for the day ahead.  I was wrong.  This is what was going on in our house at 7AM.  And, if you’re wondering where our fifth kid is, he had an early departure for a special day out with Dad.  Leaving me home alone with this:



I’m now on my third cup of coffee and I still don’t have the energy they have.  Which, I suppose, may not be such a bad thing… after all, I wouldn’t look nearly as cute bouncing off the walls and, it might be kind of inappropriate once I get to the office.  Wherever your day takes you, I hope it includes a bit of the energy and a lot of the joy that kids bring into our lives… even if they bring it a little earlier and a lot louder than we might hope for!

It’s official.  I can no longer ignore the piles of backpack catalogs and back to school coupons that arrive daily to remind me that fall is right around the corner – a season where paper of all sorts enters our home more swiftly than the leaves fall from the trees.  There are class lists and calendars. Cafeteria menus and permission slips. “Artwork” and homework.  You get the idea.  But what to do with it all?  With a third-grader, first-grader and three pre-schoolers, I have to have a plan to tame the paper beast.  And I do.  And today I’m going to share it with you.

For starters, get yourself some basic supplies. This is the easy part.  Clip some of those coupons, go to your store of choice and get yourself:

  • A label maker
  • A desktop file organizer
  • File folders in various colors
  • A small storage box for each of your children (note: these can be made rather than bought but I’m not that crafty!)

With supplies in hand, give yourself an hour to:

  • Weed through any lingering remnants from the last school year — in my case, these included a birthday invitation we never RSVP’d to, an expired coupon to a local aquarium and a class list from when our third-grader was a preschooler… proving that I’m not always good at following my own advice!
  • Put that label maker to good use.  I create a folder for each child in addition to a few extras to corral the mail, menus and miscellaneous papers that arrive via mail, backpacks and, as far as I can tell, by carrier pigeon too!
  • Set up a “memory box” for each child – once you do this, you will (hopefully) reuse this box for years to come.  In our house, each kid has a box (neatly labeled with his or her name, of course!) and each year we cull through what we’ve collected, keeping only the most precious of memories – first handprints, first report cards, etc.  It’s important to recall the items that are NOT worthy of the memory box:  random scribbles, spelling tests (even if s/he gets 100!) and ceramics which will break before you even get the lid on.  I have several good friends who assure me that when our children are grown and we are gone, they won’t be looking for these lost treasures… and needless to say, neither will we!

The last piece of the process is no doubt the hardest – it’s making a lasting commitment to control the paper beast. To tackle it daily.  To keep only what is critical and to recycle or trash what’s not. To actually use your file folders and memory boxes.  To keep the paper beast under control — before it grows big and scary and requires a bonfire to tame it.  Although, if all else fails, a bonfire isn’t a bad idea… it is, after all, a sure (and welcome!) sign of Fall.

You may have noticed that this post has a new look to it.  That’s because I recently bid Blogger a fond farewell and officially made the move to WordPress.  I hope you’ll bear with me as I learn how to navigate this new platform, continue to pull my old content over here and ideally, get back into a groove of more routinely sharing my musings on motherhood — along with some weekly tips and quips that I hope you find helpful and at the very least, hope give you a chuckle!

I am often asked why I write this blog and, for that matter, why I write at all.  The short answer is I love to write.  That’s why I’m thrilled you can now find me on The Huffington Post, Moonfrye and Irish Central in addition to some occasional stints on Parents.com.  The long answer is that for me, writing is a great way to capture the memories as the days drag on but the years fly by.  It is my way of preserving the minor moments, major triumphs and everything in between.  With that in mind, my “tip” for this Tuesday, is to keep a journal and jot down the funny, crazy, endearing things your kids say.  It need not be fancy (a simple notebook will do) but it should always be handy (in your purse, on the counter, etc.).  And if it is, you too will soon have a collection of gems just like these — all of which our clan has proclaimed in the past few weeks…

  • Overheard from the back seat — and delivered with compelling confidence: “Don’t you know that reindeer don’t live in the rain?!  They live in the forest dummy!”
  • An exasperated cry emitted far too often from our only little lady: “Ma, ____ peed on me!  AGAIN!!!!!”  (Such is the hazard of one little girl sharing a bathroom with three three-year olds with bad aim!)
  • From an uninvited three-year observer as I got out of the shower: “Hey Ma, your boobs got bigger!”  “Really?!” I responded rather gaily. “Nope, they just got longer.”  And then my heart sank. Apparently just like my boobs.
  • At the vet as one inquisitive fella interrogated the owner of a guinea pig:  “What is that? Why is it in a towel? What does it eat? Hay? Hay isn’t food! Is he sick? What is his name? Where does he live? Why is it in a towel?”  This is just a small glimpse into a long and priceless interrogation that only ended when the vet mercifully appeared to care for this shell-shocked animal… and equally shell shocked owner!
  • An unfortunate observation from our 7 year old “Ma, are you having another baby? Your belly looks big!”  Short answer: no. Long answer: your belly would look big too if had held five children, the last three at once and with a birth weight of over 17 pounds! So there!
  • A poignant observation from that same 7 year old: “Why is that man asking for money? We should help him.”
  • And, perhaps my all time favorite thus far: “Wow Mom, I love that skirt! You look like a princess!”  So what if he’s only three?  I now wear that skirt every other day.  Well, almost…

Let me know if you have some personal faves — my understanding is that commenting should be a lot easier here than it was before.  With that in mind, I’d love to hear from you and hope that in addition to sharing the funny things your kids say, you’ll give me inspiration for other “Tuesday Tips!”

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.


We recently spent a glorious week on the beach.  Was it relaxing?  No.  But, given that we have five kids seven and under and were away with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew and aunt, relaxation was never one of my expectations.  And, neither were any of the following observations and insights that just happened along the way –  in the midst of lazy, hazy days filled with sand, sun and newly hatched freckles on our fair-skinned flock…


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:


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…


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…


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.