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WESTON, Ohio - Whew.
It's no wonder Lee Ann Cox deserves a crown.
She has her hands full with six children, including 6-year-old triplets, and the busy mom has a full-time job and part-time commitments to several outside activities.
Ms. Cox recently was named the 2009 Mother of the Year by the Toledo Mothers of Twins Club, a support group for mothers of multiples, and the honor was awarded to her not just because she has six kids.
The Mother of the Year honor goes each year to one club member based on how active she is in the organization, her community, and her place of worship; with her children, and for going above and beyond in a variety of circumstances.
As her six children chattered about 4-H projects, their morning routine, and their birth order, Ms. Cox kept up with the conversations that spilled happily about the room in their home in Weston where the family moved two years ago from Haskins.
Triplets Elizabeth, Abigail, and Michael were born June 14, 2002. "I'm a lucky ducky," proclaims Abigail because she shares her birthday with Flag Day.
The triplets play well together, Ms. Cox said, and they get along fine with their older siblings: Olivia who is the oldest at age 11; Austin, 10, and Sarah, 8. They attend Grand Rapids Elementary School.
They're pleased about their mom's honor, and proud of her, too.
"I think it is really great. I like to see our Mom have a happy time," said Sarah.
Austin said he hopes his mom wins the Mother of the Year award for all of Ohio. "I think it's awesome," he yelled, exclamation points ringing in the air.
Olivia said, "It is great to be the daughter of the Mother of the Year. I am proud to know I have a great mom."
Ms. Cox is moved to tears by her children's comments and by the recognition from the club she joined when she was pregnant with the triplets.
"I'm really ," she begins, and blinks back emotion. "A lot of the time, when I am running around like crazy, it is hard to think that there are others who would nominate me. I am just a mom. I love my life."
Her life, she admits, changed drastically when she gave birth to triplets. "You have to give up control over the little things," she said. The focus, instead, turns to the bigger picture when you have three babies in the home, Ms. Cox said, and when the triplets were born, Sarah was young enough that there were four little ones in diapers.
"I used to make nine bottles at a time," Ms. Cox said. Volunteers from their church would come in shifts. "They would help feed the babies, and rock them, and hold them. They were really excited to help."
As first-grade students, the triplets have "adjusted so wonderfully" from kindergarten, Ms. Cox said.
As her kids share stories about Jack Black the cat, Dexter the white rat, and other pets in the home, it would seem the entire family has adjusted well.
The kids take great delight in telling about their adventures in the Saddles and Surreys 4-H Club and about their favorite horses, such as Bows and Mr. Bubba Blue, or their prized chickens, such as Jake and Jessy and Jamie.
"Jake and Jessy are chickens that are love birds," Austin says, and Jamie is the jealous one in the roost. Michael, who makes a game of spelling his name as fast as possible, had a chicken named Fluffy.
The family's day during the week begins at 5:45 a.m. with Olivia the first one up and at 'em. There are chores to do, beds to make, hair - lots and lots of very long hair - to brush. Olivia's hair flows past her waist, and when it reaches her knees she will cut it and donate it to an organization that makes human-hair wigs for children with cancer.
At 7:55 a.m., it's off to school, and when the kids return, a babysitter is there until Ms. Cox gets home from work. Olivia often takes charge of the kitchen, making shells and cheese, spaghetti, chicken fingers and fries, soup and sandwiches.
Recently divorced, Ms. Cox works full time at Brink's Inc. in Toledo where she is a guard.
In announcing her Mother of the Year title, the club noted In announcing her Mother of the Year title, the club noted that Ms. Cox has volunteered at a nursing home, has collected for the American Cancer Society, and is active in her church.
The club pointed out that "As a result of being born 2 1/2 months premature, Lee Ann is physically challenged and has gone through many surgeries throughout her life. Despite the hardships she has endured throughout her troubled childhood and her health issues, she never complains, but instead has channeled her energy in a positive way by helping others cope with their life struggles."
Her resume, along with other local club's Mothers of the Year resumes, will be submitted to the Ohio Federation Mothers of Twins Club for consideration for State Mother of the Year. That title will be awarded during the organization's annual convention June 26-27 in Canton.
The Toledo Mothers of Twins Club, a nonprofit organization established in 1953 by Marge Ainsworth, provides support, advice, and empowerment to mothers of multiples and their families. The club has about 100 members, nine of whom are mothers of triplets.
"There are so many wonderful people in the club," said Ms. Cox. "It is just humbling to be part of that group."
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