Back To School And The Joy Of Shopping Alone

It’s back to school time for my four kids. I did a happy dance on the first day of kindergarten for my triplets.  The joy, the freedom, the peace between my two ears – there are no words to describe this glorious feeling.

My haphazard, scattered, hit-and-miss, summer blogging schedule has officially come to an end.  With four kids at school all excuses for not writing are finished, kaput, dead, no more, and will not be tolerated in this neck of the woods!!!!

 

 

“Summer blogging, had me a blast,

Summer blogging, didn’t happen so fast

Four kids home – one crazy me,

Fun and games – all there could be.

Summer days have drifted away,

So back to those blog writing nights.

(Uh Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!)……

 

The one thing I learned this summer is that 10-weeks of summer holidays, plus four young kids, sun, pools, camps, parties, vacations, games, and zoo trips results in one frazzled, crazy Mom.

It’s going to take a little time to get back to the real world.  On the second day of school, my alarm clock failed to go off.  Thankfully my little early bird woke me up at 7 am before we really had to shift into third gear to get our school show on the road.

Four kids washed, dressed, fed and watered, lunches made, back-packs filled, car-loaded, kids transported and deposited outside the school door, all happened in a 30-minute flurry of activity.  I was so pleased with myself once I got home to savor the peace of my quiet home.  I daydreamed as I filled the kettle, then turned around to see Luke Skywalker, light saber in hand, staring at me from the counter top.  I had forgotten to pack one lunch box.

Never Forget Luke Skywalker

So off I set again for school, where I chatted with the assistant principal.  I asked her how my grandmother managed to get 13 children ready for school, or wherever it was they had to go each day.  The key, she reminded me, is that my granny never had three children all at once.  The older kids always took care of the younger ones.  I felt a little better then, accepting I am not a complete failure altogether.

I consoled myself with a trip to the supermarket.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, but after enduring 10-weeks of grocery shopping with four kids in tow, I savored every moment.  When I pulled my cart into the check-out line, I was astonished at how empty it looked without those extra boxes of unwanted, sugary, breakfast cereals, no contraband hot wheels cars or Lego figurines, and no unnecessary cookies or juice boxes.

Each time we took a trip to the store this summer, I said a little prayer before I unleashed the hounds.

 

“Please God, help them be good this time.”

 

But God’s idea of good for a child in a grocery store, seems to be a little different to mine.

Try as I might to be that calm, shopping-list toting, ever-so-organized mother of four perfectly behaved, cart-escorting children, I never succeeded.  Before we wound our way through two aisles, the boys were inevitably running at break-neck speed, crashing into architecturally beautiful, but precariously balanced displays, or scaring little old ladies to death with their pleading entreaties for the best thing ever since sliced bread.  Before long I transformed into the order-issuing, barking mother I tried so hard not to be.

And so, now that my four kiddos are at school, and I am afforded the incredible pleasure of shopping ALONE, I won’t mind it one little bit if I am mowed down by a toddler begging his mother for one more box of cookies.  I’ll smile and say to myself:

 

“Those were the days!”

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

Thanks America For An Abundance Of Clean Toilets

Potty training triplets involved developing an astute awareness of the nearest location of public restrooms.  During those first few months of independent toileting the words “I got to go” echoed through my brain.

Wherever we went I seemed to spend my time running to and from the bathroom, escorting one of my trio to their throne.  As I responded to all those urgent tinkling needs, I developed an appreciation for America’s abundance of toilets, bathrooms, rest rooms, loos, or whatever you choose to call the facilities.

Yes, I am going to christen America, the ‘Land of Toilets’.  Every time my sister visits from Ireland, she praises America for its numerous, clean bathrooms. So, here are my reasons for loving American toilets.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/elleyo/5239579277/Image Credit

Rest stops line the highway system, at well-paced intervals. You never have to drive for miles on end, in search of a clean loo. There is always a toilet at a gas station, a restaurant, or a rest stop.

Ireland has built some beautiful new motorways in the past ten years, but unfortunately the rest area plan was not completed at the same time as the roadways.

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/72213316@N00/3062414489/sizes/z/in/photostream/Image Credit

Toilets in America are free. One of my pet peeves in Dublin, is when I am absolutely dying to use the facilities – you know, when you think your eyeballs are turning a light, shade of primrose – and you discover you have to pay a euro to go. There is nothing worse than standing cross-legged, as you rummage through your purse for change.  Spending a penny has been adversely affected by inflation.  The privilege now requires a whole euro.

This year when we were in Ireland, I finally found the toilets on the tip-top floor of the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Center in Dublin.  I rummaged through my purse trying to find my wallet for the requisite euro, while my four little ones crossed their legs and waited with a worried frown on each little face.  The attendant looked at them, then at me, before ushering us in quickly without payment.  Their frantic four-year old dancing did the trick.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/huldero/1423284135/sizes/z/in/photostream/Image Credit

In America toilets are simply called ‘toilet’ or ‘rest room’, and not by the most confusing European term of all – ‘water closet’ or ‘WC’.

Many Irish directional signs, just display a big ‘WC ‘and an arrow. American tourists must be bewildered by where Irish toilets are hidden.

And trust me, public rest rooms are few and far between in Ireland when you get out of the large cities.  A  pub is your best bet in a small town, but usually you are expected to buy something, not just waltz in to use the ‘WC’.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaechler/2417947760/Image Credit

Thankfully, the toilet will not be a hole in the ground in America.   What more can I say on this topic?  I think the picture says it all!

Toilets are clean, and 99% of the time there will be soft toilet paper, not the crinkly, scraping, nonabsorbent, cheapo kind, sometimes provided in Ireland.

http://vintagerio.com/vintage_clip_art_g52-black_white_clipart_p2429.htmlImage Credit

No self-cleaning, cubicle-spraying device is going to ambush you, if you fail to leave the premises in a timely fashion. Paris is proud of the availability of self-cleaning toilets throughout the city. In Paris I used the facilities in a state of sheer anxiety, staring at the spray nozzles, in deadly fear one would spit even the tiniest of warning drops.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/psd/284053338/sizes/z/in/photostream/Image Credit

The sign to the left reads:  “These toilets are automatically washed, disinfected and dried.”  Whatever you do, don’t open the door, change your mind, then close it again without exiting.

A handle, a pull chain, a button or a remote-control, tooshy detector creates a flush of formidable force in the good old USA. I visited India many moons ago. No automatic flushes guaranteed there. Most of the time a bucket or pail stood beneath a faucet. You filled the bucket with water, then emptied it down the hole-in-the-ground toilet to take care of business. A non-splash, pouring technique took many attempts to master.

http://vintagerio.com/details.php?gid=52&pid=2512Image Credit

American toilet cubicles are spacious, unlike some of their European counterparts. In Ireland toilets have been added to some extremely old buildings, in very tight quarters. It’s a breath-holding, butt-squeezing, tummy-tucking maneuver, to re-zip a pair of jeans in some Irish public restrooms. There’s no resting in there, if you plan to return to public view looking anyway respectable.

And so I say thank you to America, for an abundance of toilets.  During the trying months of potty training three children, you made my life a little easier.

 

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

To School On Time – Enrolling Triplets In Pre-School

Here is a little advice for mothers of multiples when choosing a pre-school.  I always thought I would enroll my triplets in an early morning class, but when I was given the option of a noontime class, I jumped at the idea.

Why would a mother do such a thing? Would it not be easier to get all four kids out the door together in the morning?

Not in our house!!!! I learned my lesson last year. Four kids, seven and under, to school by 8 am, two mornings a week is not a feat for the faint-hearted.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/picken/5927466817/in/photostream/Image Credit

I tossed around the time choices in my head:

morning …. afternoon …. morning ….. afternoon…..

I envisioned the potential early morning mayhem of our rise and shine routine. All four kids washed, fed, and dressed, is just the beginning of our saga.  So many miniscule jobs need attending to, it takes a miracle for us to make it out the door, with all vital bits and bobs in the appropriate backpacks. No corners can be cut. Attention to detail is paramount.  Some of these details, if forgotten, can cause a melt down of unforeseen proportions.

Let me elaborate a little further and paint an appropriate picture of  our sunrise chaos.  Here is a sample early morning task list if all four kids are to be ready on time:

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/john_mcclumpha/4304562135/in/photostream/Image Credit

  • Make eight slices of toast. As they pop out two at a time, remember all special requests of the intended eater. Two slices cut into four triangles, two slices in four squares, two slices crustless, and two with cream cheese, rather than butter
  • Complete the school trip paperwork for seven year old son, which should have been done yesterday. Somehow, that sheet of questions, and fill in the blank spaces, felt like a calculus exam at midnight.
  • Find a pen that actually writes to fill out form.
  • Write the check to pay for said school trip, so your poor child is not the only one left behind on the appointed day.
  • Find an envelope, somewhere in the mess that is the office, to hold said form and check.
  • Find the missing toy train which has rolled under the couch or the coffee table, before a tantrum starts. Suddenly it is the most important posession in the whole wide world.
  • After finding said train, make a mental note to check four-year old son’s backpack in a few minutes for such pre-school contraband.
  • Remind four-year olds not to rub their noses on the back of their hands, but to use tissues instead.
  • Apply a liberal dose of ointment under son’s lower lip. Skin is red raw from a new habit of constantly biting and licking said lower lip.
  • Make lunch for seven-year old, praying nobody grabs your buttered slice of bread, while you search the back of the fridge for cheese.
  • Do not forget to fill a small container of honey mustard sauce, to accompany said sandwich. The teacher does not want to listen to how ketchup just does not taste the same as honey mustard sauce.
  • Identify the superhero backpack that is cool enough for a seven year old, and insert lunch bag.

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33852688@N08/4385234366/in/photostream/Image Credit

 

  • Grab a handful of tissues, blow all three triplet noses, and remind them once again to use tissues.
  • Apply toothpaste to four toothbrushes, as the four musketeers argue over who is going to spit out first.
  • Line up three pairs of feet, apply six socks, and six shoes, and pray that number one has not removed said shoes, by the time you are finished with number three. My boys go ballistic if there is even the slightest wrinkle in one of their socks.
  • Listen to seven year old whine that he failed to get the wrinkles out of his socks, then proceed to remove his shoes, straighten socks, and re-donn shoes.
  • Apply hand sanitizer to help fight those germy germs, only to witness noses being wiped on the back of hands. Be thankful mittens have not yet been applied.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/breibeest/1756982403/Image Credit

  • Pop on coats, hats and mittens, and try to explain why it does not matter if you wear a blue mitt and a red mitt together.
  • Remove toy train from four-year old’s backpack.
  • Decide whose turn it is to press the button to open the garage door, all the while explaining, if we open and close it three times in a row, said door might fly off the rails and collapse on the unsuspecting van.
  • When all are clicked and strapped in to their car seats, attempt to evacuate the garage before someone remembers something so important, it cannot be left behind.
  • Return to house to retrieve all items forgotten.
  • While reversing out the driveway, try to remember whose favorite song is which track on the CD.
  • Try to get to school before four-year old daughter’s favorite song “Delilah” is played, since if you listen to even one line of it, you will be singing it in your head all day long.

 

Sorry about the length of this post.  Now you know, in no uncertain terms, why I opted for afternoon pre-school sessions for my trio. Three less messy minors to fuss over first thing in the morning, is the best choice for this Irish-American Mom.

My advice for all mothers of pre-school triplets – seek an afternoon class.

Wishing you years of happy schooling.

 

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

 

My Cookie Monsters

In my teenage years I loved sitting down to a cup of afternoon tea and a few biscuits with my Mom, when I got back from school. Such a perfect time to connect. Mom always listened, as I recounted my tales. I am so thankful she spent a short while chatting with me everyday. I think it made my teenage years less volatile. Little does my Mom realize how much her small investment in time paid off. That ability to let off steam and gain her invaluable insight, kept me balanced as I matured.  At least, I think I am fairly balanced!!!

Anyway, I digress. The point of my post today is to discuss biscuits. My American readers now have a vision of me sitting down to a cup of tea and an American biscuit – you know, the hot, buttered, soft bread type, shaped like a small cake.

I am actually referring to cookies. In Ireland and England a cookie is called a biscuit, and a biscuit is called a scone.

When I first came to America I found cookies very sweet, so I just learned to do without, as I sipped my afternoon cuppa.

Then, everything changed, once I had children. I made the mistake of purchasing a packet of Golden Oreos. Now, there is a constant creak of the pantry door, a tell-tale rustling of crinkly wrapping, buzzing around in my ears.

“What are you up to?” I question, knowing full-well, the lure of the pantry.

“I just need one cookie for energy.”

“Just one, then.”

But you know they can never have just one.

My day has been taken over by never-ending cookie appeals. We live in a constant state of cookie mayhem. My diligent provision of raisins, dried mango, and trail mix has gone unrewarded. Initially, I let a few packets of Fig Newtons into the cupboards. You know figs are good for you. But once we relented and opened our first packet of Oreos, they infiltrated the house. The poor raisins lie dried up and shriveled in the back corner of the shelf.

The cookie chaos starts in the morning. Five, possibly ten minutes after breakfast, I hear a well-mannered request.

“Mom, can I have a cookie, please?”

“No. It’s too early for cookies.

Ten minutes later the begging reaches a new level.

“Mom, I’m staaaarving. Can I have a snack?” (Snack is my kid’s code word for cookie, but I speak a different snack language, and interpret it as fruit.)

“Sure, help yourself to an apple or a banana.”

“I don’t feel like fruit. I’d like a cookie.”

Just before lunch, the appeals get desperate.

“How long more will lunch be? Can I have a cookie while I am waiting?”

“No, you’ll ruin your appetite.”

“What’s an appetite?????”

I usually feel a little guilty when I deny their requests for an immediate after-lunch cookie. You see, in the last few years I am indebted to cookies.  My taste buds have adapted.  I now love American cookies.

Cookies have cheered me up when feeling down, and kindled sweet memories of my childhood, becoming the perfect partner to my cup of tea. My midnight munchies have been satiated by a cookie. My joy has been overwhelming upon discovering a solitary, chipped and rejected Oreo, hidden in the back corner of a presumed empty packet. Oh, what joy!!!

And so, I am a little less harsh when my trio employ their phone strategy. When Mom is distracted, usually talking a mile a minute to someone in Ireland, the covert operation commences. Triplets are canny operatives. One is the lookout. One maneuvers the chair, while the daring one climbs to the cookie shelf to retrieve the packet. I pretend not to hear the crinkly, tear-back of the new, re-sealing packaging. I give in, and let them indulge. Just one, maybe two cookies, or three or four …..

By the time I finish talking on the phone, I have to put the kettle on for a cuppa, and just like Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything but temptation. And so, history repeats itself. We all sit down together for an afternoon cup of tea, or glass of milk, and a cookie. But best of all, cookies are the greatest accompaniment to a chat.

So I can forgive a few cookies each afternoon, if they help keep the air waves open, and the dialogue flowing between Mommy and her four little cookie monsters.

 

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

P.S.  Nabisco and McVites have no idea who I am, and have not sponsored this post in any way.  I only buy their cookies to indulge my ever so sweet tooth.