A few weeks ago, with resolutions top of mind and a renewed zeal to be a better me this year, I came across a great article on the Huffington Post about yelling.    About why we yell, the negative impact it has on our kids and how to stop yelling so much.  You should check it out.  The author, Rachel Macy Stafford, has a lot more street cred than I do.  She has a Masters in education, is a certified special-ed teacher, an author and I’m sure a whole lot more.  But like me, she is a Mom.  Unlike me, she is a Mom who has found a way to stop yelling.  I’m not there yet.  But I’d like to think that I’m on my way.  It seems that Rachel has crossed the finish line to a yell-free victory party and I’m just approaching the starting line.  But really, what better place to start?

Her article got me seriously thinking.  Why do I yell so much?  Many of the reasons are the ones she cites — we’re about to miss the bus or we’re late for soccer/baseball/basketball/lacrosse/church/the dentist,/the doctor/etc.  Or perhaps the kids opened a gift meant for a birthday party (which happened just last weekend).  Maybe they splashed water out of the tub or spilled a glass of milk/water/juice.  In short, like Rachel, I often yell when our kids are just being kids, doing the goofy, inevitable things kids do.  This is a huge realization for me.  They are just being kids!  And I’m sure yours are too.  Maybe you don’t yell as much as I do, but the next time the eggs hit the floor when a budding baker is just trying to help, I’m going to think twice and remember, “he’s just a kid.”

Of course, it’s not that easy.  If I think about why I really yell, it’s not because I’m mad about the box of Cheerios on the floor or the sopping wet bathroom.  It’s because I am tired.  Exhausted.  Frustrated.  Overwhelmed.  At my wits end.  I’ve been known to stoop down to their level, the level where on a good day, I look them in the eye with empathy and understanding and provide an encouraging word or a hug. But on a bad day, well, it’s really bad.  And I’m not proud of it.  I’m not proud of looking a little person in the eye and yelling with all my might.  It’s not pretty.  It’s ugly.  And it’s scary. And I don’t want my kids to be scared of me.

That was Rachel’s ah-hah moment – the moment she realized she was scaring her daughter.  I know I’ve scared mine.  And my four sons too.  But still I yell.  I do think there are different types of yelling — quite frankly, sometimes I have to yell to simply be heard above the din of our clamoring clan. Although, I’m sure an expert would say that’s no excuse.  And it doesn’t change the fact that I’d like to yell less.

Going cold turkey is unrealistic but a little (and hopefully one day a lot) less yelling is my goal.  I want to stop, for so many reasons.  For starters, it’s mean.  Rotten, mean and nasty.  And generally speaking, I’m not.  Or at least I’d like to think I’m not.   Then, there’s the aftermath of the “Big Yell”.  It’s not over when it’s over.  They remember. I remember.  And we all feel crappy.  I don’t want us to all feel crappy.  Happy beats crappy any day, right?  And last but not least, while the snow blows and wind howls today, in just a few short months, those windows will be open.  And I don’t want to scare the neighbor’s kids either!

So, before winter turns to spring, I’m going to do my best to yell less.  To take a breath. To walk away.  To remember they are just kids.  And they won’t be forever…


chicken soup with rice

There’s a whole series of books devoted to “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”  I’ve never read them but I buy into the hearty goodness of chicken soup.  My grandfather delivered a vat of it when our triplets were born, assuring me that it would not only “wet my whistle” but fill my tummy too.  My husband fetched it for me when I had strep last year and it was like the elixir of the Gods.  The warm steam from the broth alone seems to have healing powers, conjuring up feelings of comfort and joy.  These are the feelings I want to create for my family when I make chicken soup.  Comfort and joy.

We really need it.  It’s been a rough few weeks.  Our triplets just started kindergarten and have been separated for the first time.  Our daughter just started second grade and has been reduced to tears over her math homework.  Our oldest son, a fourth grader, started a new school and is feeling the pressure.  In the midst of it all, I’ve been traveling for work, working long hours when I’m home and struggling with the onslaught of folders and paperwork.  We need comfort and joy.  We need chicken soup.

And so it was that last Sunday, we decided to roast two chickens.  One for dinner, one for soup.  As my husband was prepping the birds, he asked if we should “toss in the giblets” for the broth.  We’ve made soup a dozen times but never with giblets.  I thought my grandfather used the giblets for his famously good soup so I responded “Sure, toss them in the pot!”  And he did.  As we cleaned up the dinner, I added the bones and other remains, filled that pot with water and put it on a slow simmer.  I turned it off before going to bed that night, deciding to finish up the soup on Monday.  Which turned to Tuesday, and then to Wednesday. (more…)

The week including Passover and Easter was spring break for many of us here in the Northeast. Our family didn’t have any extravagant plans but, I always relish a simple break from the routine…. especially the respite from making lunches!  The days flew by quickly — too quickly — and suddenly it was back to school, back to business, back to reality.  Just a few days in, I was  TIRED.  Ten days later, I don’t how I’m going to make it to Memorial Day, our next day off which feels eons away.  That week the kids were off from school was simple, easy, more relaxed and oddly enough, even more productive in some ways — I was able to sort through hand-me-downs and pay bills in the pre-dawn hours while the little ones snoozed.  I realize that doesn’t quite sound like a vacation but there was a sense of self-satisfaction that came with making a dent in my monumental to-do list; there was mental clarity in knowing things were organized and tidy; there was a sense of relief when the clock struck 7:00 and I didn’t have grab grumbly kids out of their warm cozy beds.

Here are my Top 5 signs you’re not on vacation anymore — any you’d add?

  • I never thought I’d be glad for a school break because it meant I’d have time to put the laundry away but, it’s true.  Then, our clean clothes were in drawers; now they are in baskets.  And there they will likely stay until they get worn, washed and put back in the basket.  If they get washed at all.  There’s a good chance our clothes  won’t see the inside of a drawer until the next school break.  Good thing for all those hand-me-downs!
  • Dinner is planned before breakfast is consumed.  During the vacation week, we just rolled with it.  One night we had pizza and “make your own sundae” night.  Another, we made a last minute decision to take the crew out for Mexican.  Now, it’s back to defrosting meat before the coffee pot even perks up for the day. It’s hard enough to face my own thighs some mornings but chicken thighs before sunrise can be a tough way to start the day!
  • Bedtime is at 8:00. Sharp!  While the kids were off from school, we hung out well past their usual bedtimes.  There was extra “kid TV”, movie night and a strong likelihood to honor the requests for “one more book!”  Now, it’s a 50 yard dash to the bunk beds as soon as the sun starts to drop in the warm spring sky.  “Brush your teeth! Go to the bathroom! Go to bed! NOW! Good night!!”  And the door is shut, the lights are out, and the work begins — house work, office work, all the things that we let slide while they were on vacation. I have to say, I’m missing the “kid TV” and “one more book!”
  • Activities and Sports and Playdates oh my!  It feels like someone shot the starting gun at about 6AM on April 1st, which was their first day back in school.  It was also the day that lacrosse, baseball, soccer and everything other spring activity you can imagine started in full swing, leaving me to wonder if perhaps I am the April Fool?  What are we doing?!  Racing here, racing there, grab your helmet, where are your cleats, get your water bottle, and on and on.  Truth be told, they seem to thrive on it but I am already ready for a vacation!
  • Rise and Shine has reverted to Rise and Whine.  Need I say more?

We spent the greater part of that week off close to home (and 48 hours in Philly, which I will share highlights of at a later date!) and still the transition back to our regular routine was a tough one.  I imagine it would have been even tougher had we actually really taken a vacation and returned with piles of laundry — see?  With five kids, it’s really all about the laundry!  Speaking of which, I need to go do some!

Our boy is growing up and I’m not sure I like it.  Maybe I do. In fact, I might.  But the reality is I’m not sure I’m ready for it.  Is anyone ever really ready for it?  Ready to say good-bye to the unfaltering adoration of infancy? To the sweet discoveries and fantastic firsts of toddlerhood? To the wonderful wide-eyed innocence of elementary school?

Well, I’m watching it all fade away and, as most parents would agree, it’s happening way too fast. Our firstborn recently turned eight.  We’ve long kidded around when his pants are too short or his shoes are too tight that “I told you stop growing!  Geez, don’t you ever listen?!”  Thankfully, in this case, he doesn’t.  He is bigger, smarter and sending some strong signals that he is officially a big kid now.  Here are a few of those signals from the past few weeks:


Last week, our daughter turned six and the triplets turned four.  Needless to say, it was quite a week!  My quest to create the “perfect” birthday had me wrapping gifts and baking cupcakes late into the night; my desire to create happy memories had me whipped into a frenzy.  I was afraid I hadn’t gotten enough gifts, that I hadn’t gotten the “right” gifts.  I was afraid of those bright eager eyes displaying even a hint of disappointment on their birthdays.  And you know what?  I had nothing at all to be afraid of.  Except, perhaps, for the fact that they are all growing up way too fast.  It sounds so trite but if I had a tip to share this Tuesday, it would be to live in the moment, to cherish the moment because the moments — and years — pass quickly.  If I were to share another nugget of supposed wisdom, it would be a repeat of a tip of a Tuesday past — write things down. Write down the sweet, silly things they say.  They will make you laugh and make you realize just how “perfect” the small, everyday moments are.  In that spirit, I hope you’ll read the post I wrote for the Huffington Post last week… and I hope it gives you a few chuckles and inspires you to capture the wonder of it all.