Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm Moving!

Adventures with Three Girls is moving to my very own, self-hosted site (I'm like a grown-up and stuff). It was part of my Mother's Day present. (The other part was surfing lessons, which I will blog about on my new site, maybe even pictures.) You can find me right here.


I can't figure out how to take my followers with me, but I would love if you would subscribe to my new site (pretty please) or follow me on Twitter @advenwith3girls

I'd love to hear what you think of my new site. I'll be changing things around in the next few weeks, and I'd love some suggestions. Do you like my theme? I have another I can't decide. I'll try this one for a couple weeks then switch and see what everyone likes better. Let me know, because I love comments.

Same blog, new address. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

And so it begins

Thursday Penny was cranky and clingy and having a hard time sleeping. She woke up four times that night. Not to eat, she just wanted to be held. Very unlike her. She's a mellow, easy going baby who rarely cries and sleeps like a dream (probably like most third children). She was also really congested. In fact, she seemed to be getting worse instead of better from the virus that has infected our house. So, off to the pediatrician for the third time in a week. (By we, I mean all three girls and me, since Sean was working.)

I was expecting that it had become pneumonia like the other two girls. She even had a low grade fever. So, I was surprised to find out she has her first ear infection. Why I was surprised is beyond me. I should have known. You see, my kids get ear infections. Lots of ear infections.

Samantha got her first at 9 months old. Then 6 more in the next 9 months. The ear infection cycle, if you're lucky enough to be unfamiliar with it, goes like this. Cranky baby who had a cold three to five days ago, to doctor, ear infection, antibiotics for ten days, back for recheck, half the time it's clear, the other half it's ten more days on pink stuff, another recheck. Two weeks later, another cold and repeat. If you do your math, we're visiting the doctor three times in a six week period for nine months. Then, at 18 months, they stop getting ear infections.

Ella got her first at one month old. She had seven in a year, sending us to the ENT for a consult about tubes. Since the infections were clearing with antibiotics, no tubes. She also stopped getting them at 18 months.

So, why I was surprised that Penny has one is a mystery. Of course she does. She's overdue really. I don't understand why my kids get ear infections so easily. There are a lot of "Facts" out there about ear infections that just don't hold true for my kids.

Fact 1: Breastfed babies get far fewer or no ear infections.

Really? I can't imagine how my kids could possibly get any more ear infections, unless they just didn't clear at all. And my kids are breastfed, not formula fed, not bottle fed, breastfed, for an entire year.

Fact 2: Teething has nothing to do with ear infections.

Hmm. Other than Ella's first ear infection that she got as a result Samantha's first act of sharing (her cold), all my kids' ear infections correspond strongly with teething. Pretty much guaranteed we'll have ear infections when they're teething. And the infections miraculously stop as soon as their one year molars and canine teeth are in. Suspicious to me. Oh, did I mention Penny is getting her first teeth right now?

So, if you're keeping score of my kids' health this week (I'm sure you have nothing better to do), the stats for the week are: 3 fevers, 3 trips to the doctor, 2 pneumonias, 1 ear infection, 1 nebulizer for Penny's wheezing (did I mention she's wheezing, too?), 3 amoxicillin prescriptions, and 3 trips to the pharmacy.

If you're having a hard time finding me I'm probably at the doctor. I'm considering getting my own extension.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I have come to the conclusion that my children are heathens. There is just no other explanation.

Today, we came home from our walk and, as usual, I let them into the backyard with the dog. I brought the stroller with sleeping Penny into the house. The baby woke up, I got her out of the stroller, and went to feed her on the couch. Our couch is near the sliding glass door to the backyard, giving me a place to watch the girls.

I looked out and saw two, stark naked children, sitting in the sandbox, rubbing sand onto themselves and into each other's hair. I'm trying not to stress about every thing and just let them be kids sometimes, so I let it be. Nothing a bath couldn't fix.

Penny finished eating and needed a diaper change. When I returned to go into the yard with the girls (and after 3 kids, I change diapers fast) I found they had scaled the lattice supports to the gazebo over the patio and were batting a decorative glass lantern back and forth, about six feet off the ground, still naked.

I couldn't let that one go as it was clearly unsafe. So I yelled at my naked heathen children to get their little booties down before they broke their necks. I was then informed that Samantha had decided to pee in the sandbox. Heathens.

My only hope is that bath tonight taught them why one shouldn't go naked in a sandbox.

Conversations with my children: Butterfly Thingy

I had this conversation with Samantha today.

Sam: Mommy, where is my butterfly thingy?

Me: What butterfly thingy?

Sam: The butterfly thingy with the thingy and the thingies!

Me: Sam, I have no idea what you're talking about. What thingy?

Sam: The thingy! You know, the thingy for the horse.

Me: What horse thing?

Sam: No! Not the horse, the butterfly thingy! For the horse thing with the motorcycle thingy.

Me: You mean the remote control for the pony motorcycle?

Sam: No! The butterfly thingy!

Me: The butterfly shaped remote control for the little motorcycle?

Sam: Yea! Where is it?

Me: I don't know. It was on the table this morning, is it still there?

Sam: No! Keep looking, Mom! I want it!

Me: Uh, no, you keep looking.

Sam: (rolling eyes and storming away) Ack.

Green Thursdays: Green Cleaning

You probably think carefully about what you eat, reading labels to avoid trans fat, hydrogenated oils, high sugar content, and high fructose corn syrup. When given a choice, you probably opt for products with ingredient lists we can pronounce. Maybe you even buy organic foods to limit the chemicals you put in your body.

But do you think about all the chemicals you use to clean your house? Think about all the places you spray or wipe chemicals every day: kitchen tables and counters, bathrooms, mirrors, wood furniture, probably even your kids' toys. Then you touch them, put food on them, your kids put them in their mouths. The thought of it definitely made me think about what I choose to clean my house with.

There are a variety of greener products you can use to clean your house that are non-toxic, biodegradable, and widely available. These are every bit as convenient and ready made as conventional cleaners, but won't leave the chemical residue around your house.

You can also make your own cleaners cheaply with household ingredients. Water and white vinegar can clean just about everything. You can find recipes here and here.

The newest option I'm intrigued with is Activeion's ionator. This rechargeable battery powered spray bottle uses only water. It basically charges the water molecules which, according to the company, is as effective as other cleaners at killing bacteria and viruses.

Skeptics of the device say water alone is actually an effective cleaner, that the charge doesn't last long enough to actually hit the surface being sprayed, and that plain water would test the same. We really don't need to use anything else to clean with, we've been conditioned to think we need more that just water to get things clean.

I'm working on getting one of these things to try out. I'm fascinated by it. I'll let you know if I do how it seems to work. Plus, it's like a gadgety power tool, so maybe my husband would get in on the cleaning.

What do you use to clean? Do you have any great homemade cleaning recipes? Anyone try or have an ionator?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Thought I'd share the cuteness that is my children today. Enjoy.




Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Super Breastmilk

Samantha, Ella, and Penny all got sick this week. As usual, Typhoid Sammy brought some funk home with her from preschool. She had a 102-103 degree fever starting last Tuesday night until Friday night. I took her to the doctor Friday and was told she had mild pneumonia. On antibiotics she went. She's on the mend and acting her old self again.

I've been waiting for the other two to get sick all weekend. Finally, Sunday night they both spiked a fever. We went to the doctor with both yesterday, and Ella has mild pneumonia. Not Penny. Ella needs antibiotics too, not Penny. Today, Ella still has a 99-100 degree fever, Penny does not.

I have to ask myself why the four month old, with arguably the weakest immune system, managed to get the least sick. I've decided it must be the breastmilk. Go antibodies! Too bad the one making the milk doesn't reap the benefits as well. I'm nursing a nice phlegm-y cough, too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What are they thinking? Soap

I told Ella to go wash her hands. A few minutes later, this was the result. I wiped the soap out of her eyes prior to the picture.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baby socks

The girls are always pulling off Penny's socks. They think it's hilarious. Penny likes it too. She squeals whenever they do it. It drives me nuts because they run and throw them somewhere and then can never remember where they are. I have a lot of single socks waiting for their match to come home.

Today, I decided to outsmart them and not put socks on her. They can't take them off if they aren't there.

As I was hanging up clothes in their room, I heard Penny squealing and the girls laughing. As I went to investigate, Samantha yelled, "Run, Ella! Run!"

I was passed in the hall by Ella, carrying a pair of little pants and a diaper. Penny was lying on the carpet, kicking and smiling, naked from the waist down.

I am currently missing one pair of pants and one dirty diaper. Tomorrow, Penny will be wearing socks.

Photo via Flickr: Baby socks, originally uploaded by Ak4suna.


There are two kinds of people in the world: those who hit the snooze button on their alarm and those who do not. My husband is a snoozer. I am not.

When we moved in together I brought with me the alarm clock I'd had since seventh grade. It got me where I needed to go, on time, through junior high, high school, college, and veterinary school. All without ever having hit the snooze button. Not once. I honestly had no idea if it worked. I found out the first morning Sean had to go to work. It did indeed work. And, did you know, you can repeatedly hit the snooze button? Every nine minutes. Over and over and over. I didn't then, but I do now.

Sean sets the alarm for a half hour early so he can hit the snooze button at least twice, and up to four times and still get to work on time. I can now go back to sleep after the first snooze, but when the second one goes off, I turn off the alarm and hit him. Otherwise, I won't be able to sleep again.

This week, Samantha has been in our bed because she's been feverish. Turns out she has pneumonia. Antibiotics seem to be helping. She is now so big and spreads out so much that our little queen size bed is uncomfortable for all three of us. She prefers her daddy when she's sick, so I've been sleeping in Sammy's bed or on the couch.

Without me there to prod him, Sean has been late to work everyday this week. This morning, I found him asleep with the clock buried under a pillow. Apparently, it wouldn't quit going off.

How about you, are you a snoozer or a non-snoozer?

*Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver

Friday, April 30, 2010

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek is serious business in our house. The girls can't get enough of it. Whenever they are asked to find something to do, hide and seek is sure to be suggested.

While they love it, their execution needs a little work. They are no longer just sitting somewhere, covering their eyes with their hands to hide, but there is still room for improvement. Today, they hid from me on the far side of the bed. Not bad, except for the giggling and fake snoring (Ella likes to fake sleep now). Oh, and the four hands hanging on the top of the bed.

What games do your kids play? How do you like the photo? I've been playing with Flickr.

*Photo courtesy of Robert, originally uploaded by moriza.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Missy's Lunch

Like most dogs, Missy really enjoys mealtime around here. She parks herself next to Ella's chair and is usually rewarded with dropped food and hand outs from Ella. Lunch today was no exception. She enjoyed some quesadilla, cheese, and banana courtesy of Ella.

While I was cleaning up the mess, I noticed she was licking a wet spot on my jeans near my knee. I usually have something on my clothes, so I generally just ignore it. I looked down to see why she was so interested in my leg. There was a good sized amount of spit up there. Guess she needed some milk to wash down the cheese.

Still Sick

Samantha's still sick today. Her fever was 103 last night and she didn't sleep well. I know this because she was in our bed. She's entered the whining stage where she doesn't feel well so she whines about everything and sometimes just starts crying for no reason. I'm pushing Tylenol and Ibuprofen to keep her fever down, popsicles, frozen blueberries, and water with ice. And, she's now getting old enough to be taught the correct way to be sick: on the couch, in front of the t.v., in some comfy clothes or jammies, a warm sweatshirt, hair in a ponytail, socks, and under a blanket.

I can deal with the sick child. The worst part for me is the anticipation. I'm waiting to see if anyone else is going to get sick. I figure I have about a week before I'm in the clear. Sick Ella I can handle. She gets really clingy and whiny, but she's manageable. Penny has never been sick. She's the one I worry about the most. She's only four months old, so I dread the thought of her having a high fever and feeling bad. So, I'm trying to keep Sammy away from her and am holding my breath.

Hopefully, they'll not get sick. Probably, the only one who will get sick is me.

Green Thursdays: Simple Things

I thought this week I would write about the simple little things I do to try to minimize the impact I have on the environment. Obviously, I turn off lights when I'm not using them, turn off the water when I'm brushing my teeth, and I recycle everything possible, but there are other things I try to do that I believe help. I'm really into reducing my consumption of resources. The less I buy, the less needs to be produced, saving all the waste and energy that manufacturing things requires.

Use Reusuable Bags: This is easy. I just bought a few recyclable bags and I take them into stores with me when I shop. I like One Bag At A Time, but these bags are easy to come buy, and don't cost a lot. It decreases my consumption of plastic bags, decreases the number of non-degradable bags in landfills, and decreases the need to make more bags. In fact, I use reusable everything if I can: cloth lunch bags, tupperware containers instead of ziploc bags, etc.

Compost: I have two compost bins in my backyard. I add my compostable waste to one while I let the other turn into compost. There are lots of bins available, there are worm bins, tumblers, you can create a pile in your yard, or just use a plastic storage bin and turn it with a shovel. I personally use the Urban Compost Tumbler, it has a rod in the middle so it separates and aerates the compost when you spin it, helping it to compost faster. But there are lots available.

Buy Organic: I buy organic produce, meat, and dairy products whenever possible. Are they healthier? Maybe, maybe not, the official jury's still out on that one, although I tend to think not ingesting pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics is probably the healthier option. They are healthier for the environment. Organic farmers do not put chemicals into the earth, they have to practice crop rotation, preventing leaching of certain nutrients out of the soil, the animals are fed more natural, grass based diets, and they can't use hormones and antibiotics. I also think organic food tastes better, maybe that's just me, but if you've never had organic bananas, buy a bunch and see what you think.

Buy Local: I also try to buy local. I go to farmer's markets when I can. When I can't, I try to look where my produce is grown, and buy the stuff that's grown closest to me geographically. Buying local not only supports the local economy, you get fresher produce and reduce the waste associated with shipping the produce over long distances.

Wash Cars Less: Ok, this one is a lot of laziness on my part, and maybe I'm just trying to justify our dirty cars. Really, though, our cars don't need to be washed every week. A little dirt isn't going to hurt your car. Now, if you live somewhere where the roads are salted in the winter, you probably do need to wash that junk off your car to prevent corosion. But, in sunny California, and other mild climates, and in warm weather months, it really isn't necessary and just wastes water. Sure, my cars aren't all shiny all the time, but they run just fine, and it doesn't really matter that they're not super pretty.

Use Non-Toxic Cleaners: I have started using cleaning supplies that are made with ingredients I can pronounce and are biodegradable. I really like Mrs. Meyer's products, Seventh Generation, and Planet. I also use microfiber rags with just water and have been known to make my own cleaners. I'll probably get back to that when Penny is a little older and I have a tad more time.

So, those are a few of the easy things I do to try to reduce my carbon footprint. What do you do?

** Disclaimer: I did not get paid or receive any promotional items from the companies I linked to above. I really do use them and like them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It Never Fails To Surprise Me

Samantha woke up last night, barking like a seal. Actually, she coughing really hard that she was almost puking. Actually, she did puke. And, she wet her bed. And, she had an 102 degree fever. And, I was surprised.

I don't know why. All the warning signs that she was getting sick were there. She had been coughing a little yesterday. She had an accident at school. The last time she did that, she got sick later that day. She took a nap yesterday, something she sadly gave up completely six months ago. And, then she didn't fight bedtime. A two hour nap and easy down for bed? I should have known. I should have remembered.

I think it's a mommy trait to forget all the bad stuff and all the warning signs of bad stuff that involves our kids. Labor would be the best example. People always say they don't remember the pain. I don't remember the pain. In fact, all I really remember was the excitement of realizing I was about to have a baby, then holding a little, squirmy, squish-faced baby. There were hours of laboring, pushing, a broken tailbone

It apparently doesn't stop with childbirth. It extends to every bad thing associated with our children. I've forgotten all the times I've had to yell at them because they weren't listening, or about to hurt themselves, or were screaming for no good reason. And I forget all their illnesses. It's like it's the first time every time. I do remember, however, that it's no fun having a sick little girl curled up in front of the television all day.

Maybe I Should Allow a Little More Sugar

I usually try to limit the girls' sugar intake. It's not necessary and it makes them hyper. They get some, on occasion, but not often.

Today, in honor of Samantha's illness, I gave them popsicles. Ella grabbed the frozen part and tried to eat the stick. Twice. I had to show her how to eat it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making Time For Mommy

I've been a little stir crazy lately. I don't know if it's that I'm starting to come out of the fog that surrounds me when I have a newborn, or because it's springtime and that's giving me a creative itch in need of serious scratching, or because I'm needing a little break from 24/7 children. Whatever the reason, there's something that I need to do, that's just for me, and I can't quite figure it out. I was talking to a friend yesterday, and the feeling seems to be going around.

I've been losing myself in my momminess lately, and I find I'm missing something. I do a lot around the house, and I enjoy some of it. I cook most nights, and I enjoy it mostly. I have a new Manicotti recipe to try this week that I'm excited about. I have a garden that I'm constantly trying to get things to grow in. I have compost bins to tend. I have an interest in living green, and I have some things I plan to try in that area in the near future (more on that later). I like to write, and I'm pursuing that right now mostly through this blog, as that's what I have time for, but I have some fiction pieces in the editing process right now that I plan to start sending out. I'm also planning an epic shopping trip in the near future when I lose the rest of this baby weight (7 lbs to go!). I'm getting back into working out a lot right now, which I love, and really helps me unwind.

But there's something missing. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but I know it involves me getting out of the house for a couple hours by myself. I took a creative writing seminar in the fall at the local college that was great. I got out of the house for three-ish hours, including the commute, once a week. I wrote, got writing prompts, listened to other's pieces, read things I had written. It was a truly creative and supportive atmosphere, very intimate and anonymous at the same time. A small group of strangers, reading a lot of memoir type pieces, sharing their thoughts, and then all going back to our regular lives where we had no interaction with each other. It was personal and impersonal. Perfect for me. I plan to take that class again when Penny can be put to sleep without nursing. In the meantime, I'm looking for something. Something to remind me that I'm me, and not just Mommy.

Any suggestions? What do you do just for you, or what would you like to do?


Sean goes to Trader Joe's every week for frozen food to take for work lunches. Last week he bought gnocchi. Ella tried and liked it.

This week, when he opened the bag to put in the microwave, she said, "Me gnocchi! Me gnocchi!" until she got some.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Grocery Store Mayham

We went to the grocery store again today at our usual late morning time. Sean brought in the two older girls while I Bjorned (yes, I did just make up that verb) Penny and grabbed a shopping cart.

When I got into the store, the girls said, "Mango, Mommy!"

I assumed they had just snagged a mango sample and so proceeded to shop.

I was wrong. They wanted mangoes.

Ella demonstrated this by running away from Sean toward the mangoes. I followed, trying to coral her. A grandfatherly type man stopped to watch, smiling and laughing as my little bean ran toward her goal. When we rounded the display, I noticed there were no samples.

"No, Ella, No!" I yelled, trying to maneuver with the cart and Bjorn.

Too late. Ella snatched a mango off the display and took a big bite, skin and all, then dropped the mango and ran around the display to avoid me. The man laughed and laughed and commented that I had my hands full.

We bought mangoes today. Ella seemed to enjoy her bite, even with the skin. At least she chose a healthy snack.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birthday Party Fun

Last night we went to a birthday party for one of our friend's four year old daughter at The Little Gym. We had never been to one before. It's a little gymnastics studio with uneven bars, parallel bars, balance beams, a little vault, and big mat space. They hold classes their, but for birthday parties the kids have free play for awhile and then they do a little program with dancing and gymnastics moves geared to little kids. It was great fun, I definitely recommend it.

For me, as a parent, it was a great to see my kids interact with other kids. It still amazes me that they have such different personalities. When Ella came along, I kind of expected an exact duplicate of Samantha. Well, that didn't happen.

Their personalities really came through during the planned program. Sammy's my shy little girl. She would run around in a circle with the other kids (who were mostly her age), but when they stopped to twirl or dance or kick or whatever, she ran to her daddy and waited until the next round of running began (she really likes to run). Ella, my bold one, on the other hand, muscled her way to the front, past kids two to three years older than she is, and tried to do whatever the instructor was doing. When she couldn't do something, she just twirled in a circle. It was really funny. She stayed in the middle of things the whole time.

Ella starts preschool in September, and I know I'm not going to have four months of tears like I did with Samantha. She'll be just fine. The teachers may want to be careful, though.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Grasshopper

Today we were in the backyard. Samantha had her pink sun umbrella she got at the Cherry Blossom Festival last weekend, and has been carrying around to shield herself from the sun ever since. Suddenly, she screamed and threw her umbrella. A three inch long grasshopper had landed on it, apparently confusing the umbrella for the biggest flower ever.

I have to admit. I do not like grasshoppers. They fall into my arbitrary category of crunchy bugs. I do not like bugs that crunch when you step on them. (It's a childhood trauma from a firefly.) But, being Mommy, I had to take care of the situation. So I bravely shook that umbrella, carefully pointing it away from me. And shook it, and shook it. Those things can hang on tight. (Exactly like that firefly on my finger.) Finally, it flew off, over my head and into my leg. I jumped three feet in the air, threw the umbrella, and screamed like a little girl. (Not my proudest mommy moment. I really don't want three little girls who are scared of bugs.)

The grasshopper landed in front of us. The girls were fascinated by it. I thought it was injured from having an umbrella thrown on it. Eventually, we found a long bubble wand to poke it with. I prodded it's behind to try to get it to fly out of the yard. It flew a few feet. Ella took over the prodding. The darn thing wouldn't leave the yard. It just kept flying a few feet and landing.

That's when Tabby got in on the action. She pounced. The grasshopper flew straight up. Tabby jumped straight up, snaring it in her claws and began nibbling on it. I thought it was a goner, but then it jumped away. Tabby pounced. It jumped. Tabby pounced, playing with it. Ella chased Tabby away. It lay on the ground, I assumed mortally wounded.

The girls and I talked about predators and prey and why Tabby had attacked the grasshopper, and why we were going to let her kill it. Samantha planned how she would deliver the notification to the sisters, brothers, and babies of the grasshopper that she said would soon be arriving.

They egged on Tabby, cajoling her to finish the deed. She wouldn't. The grasshopper, not moving, was not any fun. Finally, Ella poked it again with the bubble wand. And lo! it flew a few feet, apparently unharmed by the cat.

Unfortunately, Missy had been watching us and decided to get in on the action. She pounced on the grasshopper, biting and jumping away repeatedly like it was a rattlesnake. When it tried to fly, she jumped, snatched it out of the air, and tossed it to the ground. At this point, Tabby rejoined the fray, batting the grasshopper. She and Missy tag teamed the grasshopper. When it was lying still, Missy would throw herself on top of it and roll to see if it would move. Watching the two of them cooperate was like watching the velicoraptors in Jurassic Park hunt, fascinating and scary. I now know what happened to my neighbor's bird.

Finally, the grasshopper stopped moving and they tired of playing with it. Ella, again went to prod it. The darn thing was alive! It grabbed onto the bubble wand like a drowning person grabs a life preserver. I quickly took the bubble wand and launched it over our side fence to the front yard, where I knew no one would bother it. As I watched it sail over the fence, I thought, that is one lucky grasshopper. Then I heard a crunch as it hit the side of our house.

What are they thinking? Three More Babies

I was trying to gage if Samantha feels like she's getting enough attention since Penny's arrival, so I asked her today if she was happy that we had Penny.

Her response, "Uh-huh. I like her."

Great. Then she continued, "We should have three more babies!"

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Green Thursdays: Getting Back to Green

I've been thinking about adding some regular posts on living green, and thanks to some of the ladies at the Lady's Blogger Circle, I've decided to do it. And, what better day to start than Earth Day.

Basically, I try to be conscious of the environmental impact of things I do: what we eat, what I use to clean my house, how I garden, everything. My mantra is reduce, reuse, recycle. I don' t always go with the green alternative, but I at least think about it and try new things. I'm a busy mom of three, so if it's adds too much work, I'm just not going to do it. I feel being green is an important value to teach my children. If everyone makes small changes, we can make a difference and keep our planet healthy. I've made some easy changes, and have done things that haven't worked, and I'd like to share them. I also plan on trying some new things, and I'll let you know how they work for me and if it's worth the change. Who knows, maybe you'll find something you can do to help keep the world a little cleaner.

This week I've decided to go back to doing something I used to do before Penny was born: cloth diapering. I'll admit, I've been lazy since she's been born. Plastic diapers can be more convenient, but cloth really aren't that hard and they make a huge difference.

The impact of plastic diapers on the Earth is huge. You can find statistics everywhere, with the same numbers being given. I went to Carbon Balanced Baby to get mine this time. Here's what they said about the production of plastic diapers.

To create this modern wonder of technology (since about 1961) and make it available to mothers and babies everywhere, we use a lot of oil, trees and plastics. Through this production process we create films, polymers and gels that take a very, very long time to decompose. Some basic statistics:

  • It takes over 10 full sized trees to produce the number of diapers your baby will use in its first few years. Studies say that over 250,000 trees per year are felled to satisfy the USA's disposable diaper demand.
  • Production of a single disposable diaper requires 2/3 of a cup of petroleum. This adds up to over 3 billion gallons of oil (per year!)dedicated to disposable diaper production.
  • Every year 82,000 tons of plastic is concocted and spun with combinations of the above ingredients to create the high-tech, breathable films which keep our baby and home comfortable. This production process burns through energy and creates hazardous by-products.

The process alone to produce disposable diapers creates significant quantities of greenhouse emissions which can last for decades.

And then, all these diapers go into the landfills, where they sit, not decomposing and leaching chemicals and human waste into the ground. Here's the statistics, again from Carbon Balanced Baby, on the impact on landfills:

  • In the United States alone, 16 billion soiled diapers are deposited into landfills every year. The weight of this mess is over 3.5 billion pounds.

  • According to studies it can take from 200 to 500 years for these diapers to decompose. “Biodegradable” diapers don’t fare much better because although some elements of the diaper do degrade faster, many of the core elements which make it mother and baby friendly (i.e. the absorbent materials and polymer linings) are made of the same materials as standard disposables.
  • The nasty goop that pools at the bottom of a landfill, which is a place you probably do not want to visit, is called “leachate”. It is possible that viruses excreted in human feces could end up in the leachate and, particularly in older landfill sites, could leak into local water supplies. In most places it is illegal to dump human bodily wastes into a landfill. Diapers are generally excluded from enforcement of this rule.
  • Diapers are the third most common item, by volume and weight, in American, UK, European, Japanese and Australian landfills.
  • In developing countries the problem is particularly bad as they generally do not have modern landfill technologies installed or available. This is a global environmental problem.

After Ella was born, Sean and I grimaced two to three times a week as we lugged full plastic bags of plastic diapers out to our garbage can. When you have two in diapers, it's really easy to see the impact your'e making. I decided to go the cloth diaper route. Ella was in cloth diapers from 4 months old to nineteen months old, when Penny was born. I decided to take a break when Penny was born because the extra laundry was a little much for me to handle while adjusting to three kids. I've adjusted, and now it's time to decrease the environmental impact my diapers cause.

Now, if you're like I was, you heard horror stories of nasty diapers and nasty diaper pails from your parents generation, and are none too keen on the idea of cleaning those things. Cloth diapering has come a long way since the '70's. It's really not that bad. I use my regular Diaper Champ with a mesh bag inside for my used diapers. If there's poo, I just dump as much as I can in the toilet, on rare occasion I have to get out the rubber gloves and hold the diaper while I flush to suck off some sticky poo (make sure you don't let go or you will clog your toilet). Then, every 3-4 days (twice a week), I take the bag, start the washing machine, and dump everything in the machine, no digging out diapers. I throw the mesh bag in too.

When I was first starting, I tried a multi-pack sampler of reusable all-in-ones and pocket diapers including Bum Genius, Happy Heinys, Swaddlebees, and Fuzzibunz. All-in-ones are cloth diapers that look pretty much like a plastic diaper. After using one, you simply wash and dry it. Pocket diapers have a pocket between the outer, waterproof shell and the inner, soft liner where you put an absorbent insert of some kind, either fleece or hemp, or a combo, or multiple, depending on what you want. You remove the insert before washing everything.

I wound up liking Happy Heinys one-size the best for my kids. I like the way they fasten, and they kept my chubby, heavy wetters dry. I have heard Bum Genius work great on thinner babies, though. I bought twenty one-size diapers and have used them on Ella from four months to nineteen months, and they still fit her at twenty-three months. However, some of the diaper's outer shells are starting to lose their waterproofing, so I will likely have to buy new one-size diapers for Penny. If you buy sized diapers, you can use them for multiple children, but you have to buy 20 or so of each size. For me, I would have wound up buying more diapers that way.

Cost wise, there is an initial start-up cost. If you go the pre-fold way, which are more like the diapers my parents used on me (although they're still better), the cost is pretty low. However, even with the fancy ones, in the long run you actually save money using reusable cloth diapers over the diaper wearing life of your child. I I've heard estimates anywhere from $500 to $1500 in savings depending on which cloth diapers you use and your diapering habits. Not too bad.

Like I said though, I won't do anything that makes my life a lot harder, so I still use disposable diapers at night. I was changing sheets twice a night, even with two hemp liners, because my kids are heavy wetters. No thank you. I know people that don't have that problem, however. I also use disposable when we're going out for a long time. I don't want to deal with leaks (my cloth will leak if I don't change them every 2-3 hours) and sometimes when we're out, I forget to change them. I also don't want to lug dirty diapers home with me, even in a wet bag. They take up too much space.

When I use cloth diapers I am both reusing and reducing. I have twenty diapers that will need to be thrown out instead of hundreds, and my cloth diapers will decompose faster and not fill the landfills with tons of chemical goo. So, that's how and why I use cloth diapers. What about you? Do you use cloth or are you considering them?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What are they thinking? Movie Night

Ella apparently really likes Friday Night Movie Night. Lately, whenever she's asked what time it is or any other question, her response is Friday Night Movie Night. Sometimes it's posed as a hopeful question, like after breakfast, sometimes she's trying to avoid something.


At nap time (and she knows it's nap time)

Me: Ella, what time is it?

Ella: Fiday Night Moobie Night?

Me: No, it's nap time.

Ella: (in full tantrum, kicking and pounding fists on ground)
No, nap time! Fiday Night Moobie Night! Fiday Night Moobie Night!

Dirty Tut

As you may be aware, we have recently adopted a Sphynx cat we have named Tut (King Tutankhamun actually, but the girls can't say that. Really, I can't either.)

Since he joined us, we have learned quite a few things about the breed. Did you know that the breed is a natural mutation? That means every so often a regular cat will have a hairless baby and someone got the idea to breed the hairless ones to create the breed. That also means, they have various degrees of hairlessness. Ours has a patch of hair right down his nose. Did you also know, the breed originated relatively recently in the U.S. and is not Egyptian as the name would suggest? It makes sense really, only in America would someone have a hairless kitten and think to themselves, I bet I can make money off of this. :)

We have also learned they are friendly, gregarious, heat seeking little creatures. He is often found basking in the sun. If you sit in our house, there's a good chance he will curl up in your lap. If you have a blanket, expect to share.

They are also dirty. Their skin gets greasy and picks up dirt from the environment. My personal theory is because they come from haired cats, their skin still produces all the oils a regular cat does. With hair, the oils keep their coats shiny and clean. With no hair, they're greasy and dirty. So, Tut gets a sponge bath weekly (because I'm not crazy enough to put a cat in the tub). I thought I'd share a picture of the dirty towel. I know it's gross, but I still thought I'd share. That's one week of grease Ella is modeling for you, one week. Yuck.

How often do you bathe your pets? Any one else have to bathe their cat?

Saying Sorry

Today I was doing some gardening and Samantha was helping. She helped head the petunias and I gave her a large flower stem that had broken off in the wind last night. She collected them in her umbrella and I heard her say something about making hats for her dolls. I have to fess, I wasn't paying attention. I was weeding and planting and in a hurry to get it done before the girls lost patience or it started raining.

We finished and I ushered everyone inside. Samantha proceeded to dump her collection, flowers, petals, dandelion fluff, and some dirt, on the couch. I believe the exact words that came out of my mouth were, "AAACCKK! No, no, no! We don't dump junk on the couch!"

Samantha's face dropped and she went to her room and closed the door. I cleaned up the mess and then went to find her. She was in her closet stuffed behind the stackable shelves we have in there. She looked at me with sad puppy eyes. All I could think to say was, "Sorry".

She came out and we hugged. I told her I forgot she wanted to make hats for her dolls. We're going out after lunch for some roses to put in a vase.

Sometimes we all make mistakes. I think it's important for our kids to know that, not to think Mommy and Daddy are infallible. I also feel it's important to model how to fix a mistake, and to acknowledge my girls' feelings . It's really an important life lesson I hope to impart on my kids. I just wish I didn't have to make mistakes and hurt their feelings to teach it.

What mistakes have you apologized to your kids for?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Time to Eat

My arm hurts. I think it might be bruised.

I was exhausted yesterday. Went to bed at ten thirty. At midnight, Penny woke to eat. She's been eating for longer than her typical five to ten minutes lately. I was up for twenty minutes feeding her. I felt like I was going to fall off the rocking chair the whole time, I was so tired.

I went back to sleep and had this dream where Ella was whining at me about something (I can't escape the whining even when I'm asleep.) Then, I felt a repeated pain in my arm and realized I was not dreaming. Sean was hitting my arm to let me know Ella was crying for me. It was one in the morning. She wanted to try to use the potty. She tried while I fumbled around the house trying to find a diaper that wasn't in the baby's room. No luck on either effort. She went back to bed, miraculously in her own room.

At four, I was awoken again by Penny for her second twenty minute feeding of the night. Again, I could barely stay on the rocking chair. Ella woke at six thirty this morning. Not a lot of sleep for me. I'm pretty sure my brain didn't bother turning on this morning in protest.

I've been noticing Penny has been wanting to eat more often and for longer periods of time. I've been trying to hold off on the solids because I read this article and she really doesn't seem that interested in food. But, after last night's antics, I realized I am not getting enough sleep. I learned, after having terrible sleep issues for the first nine months of Samantha's life, if I'm not sleeping well, something needs to change. For everyone's sake.

Penny's been eating like that for a couple weeks. She's telling me she's hungry. So, today she got baby oatmeal for the first time. Hopefully, we'll all sleep better tonight.

First taste of food. Not really sure about this.

I'm pretty sure some of it when in her mouth, and not just on her bib.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Packin' Away the Pack-n-Play

Penny, my baby, is growing fast. She's already four months old. Although four months may not seem very old, we've already passed a few major milestones. First smile, check, first laugh, check, rolling, check (both ways as of today). She's awake during the day for long stretches and sleeps at night 12 hours, eating only once during that time. She's social and engaging, talking as much as her sisters (God, help me). She likes to play with toys and watch her sisters play. She's not interested in food, but insists on being held when we eat, so she can interact with everyone and watch the action. Her emerging first teeth are evident as little swellings on her gums. She's getting close to being able to sit by herself. She's left the newborn stage behind and is firmly in infanthood.

These first four months with three little girls has flown by. I've been excited by all of Penny's firsts, and captured pictures of them (okay, maybe not the exact first time, but close). Since Penny is my last baby, all of these firsts are the last firsts I'll ever have. But the thing that is really getting to me, the thing that makes me wistful and a little sad, is putting away the baby gear.

A few weeks ago, we transitioned her from our room in the Pack-n-Play bassinet to her own room with her own crib. We packed up the Pack-n-Play, wrapped it in plastic bags, and tucked it away in a relatively unaccessible spot in the garage. We still need it when we travel, which isn't often, but, for the most part, that piece of baby gear is no longer useful. All three of our girls slept in it for the first ten weeks of their lives, safe and secure close to us. Now, it sits collecting dust in the garage.

I know there are many more items not too far away from the same fate. The baby tub, the aquarium bouncy seat with its bubbling, kissing fish, even the baby Bjorn, that I have schlepped all the girls around in, will soon be packed away forever, to be given to charity if they're not too ratty. And it makes me a little sad (not sad enough to try for #4, but sad nonetheless).

Today, we had a changing of the guards of sorts. I pulled out the highchair and exersaucer from the garage and cleaned them up. My little Penny will be using those as soon as the covers are finished drying. Looking around, straining to move on her own, trying to keep up with her sisters, she's hurrying to grow up already. And I'll help her, that's my job, but it still makes me sad to watch her leave one stage of her life behind.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Putting My Foot Down

I'm fed up. I'm tired of having to walk over land mines of toys all day long. I'm tired of the girls not help me put away their toys. I'm tired of putting away their toys myself, while they take toys out at the same time. I'm tired of crap all over the house.

My girls are very fortunate. They have a lot of toys. We buy them things, and for holidays and birthdays (and I mean every holiday--Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Girls' Day, you name it), they get gifts from not only us and grandparents, but aunts, Sean's aunts and uncles, friends from college, other friends. It's truly crazy and disgusting really. There is no end in site to the gifts, so we cram more stuff into our house virtually every month. After Christmas I went through their things and threw out or gave away about a third of it. Stuff they weren't playing with, crappy Happy Meal toys, and broken things. It's April, and we are already back to the same quantity.

The kids' toys are in the main living area because that's the only place for them. The bottom four shelves of three bookshelves are kids' toys. There is a dollhouse taking up one corner of the room. There is a toy rack and play kitchen taking up another corner. When you walk into my house, the first thing you see are two toy shopping carts, and two baby doll strollers in front of our aquarium. They are all filled with toys and dolls. Most of the time, they are in the way and you have to walk around them.

That's when everything is put away. Once the girls wake up in the morning, the toys come out and they are ALL over the floor. I find myself tripping and slipping on things all day long. Every day each girl falls because she tripped over something.

Last night was the breaking point for me. They both told me no when asked to put their toys away. The timer didn't work, yelling didn't work, taking a break and coming back to it later didn't work, telling them to put their toys in time out didn't work, threatening to throw things out didn't work, actually throwing out a box of Dora band-aids didn't work. Nothing works. They just say no and know eventually Sean and I will put the toys away.

Well, no more. I'm tired. I'm busy. Penny wants to be held all the time right now, making it physically hard to keep bending over to get things off the floor. I don't have time to clean up after them all day long and I shouldn't have to. They both know where the toys belong. They are both capable of putting them away. And now, I'm going to have to be tough about it.

I've been trying to figure what consequence will be effective. I've really tried all the tricks I've read or heard about. My girls just don't care about any of it enough to clean up if they don't feel like it.

The one thing I haven't done is take away television and food. Taking away food when they're hungry kind of seems mean. We have one television in the house in the main living area. If I take t.v. from one, unless I ban the other to their room, I have to take it away from the other. That doesn't seem fair unless they're both not helping.

Well, I've decided that is exactly what I need to do to get some help around here. Before television and snack time that happens twice a day, they will help clean up and put everything away. If they don't, no snack and no television. If that means one is banished to their room while the other has snack and t.v., so be it.

I tried it this morning. I told them the new policy. I told them to help clean up. Ella did, Samantha didn't. In fact, she took things out as Ella and I were cleaning. I reminded Samantha twice of the consequences. She still refused.

So, after we finished, I told her to go to her room. She screamed, she ran away from me. She told me she was hungry. When I finally caught her, she kicked me, hard, in the stomach and legs and pounded her little fists against my shoulders. I dumped her in her room. Calmly told her why she was there. She could play in her room, but no snack this morning and no television.

I closed the door. For twenty minutes she screamed, pounded on the floor, and threw things against the door. I went in. She had thrown her sister's toys. I told her if she needed to throw something, she needs to throw her own toys. If she breaks her sister's toys, I will be taking away one of her princess barbies. She crawled into her bed and pouted.

I hate having to do this. I'm nauseous from it. But I can't stand it any more. I'm the mother, and they need to help clean up just because I said so. Telling me no is unacceptable. I think I made my point with Samantha today. Doing this with Ella will be harder. I'll probably have to put up the baby gate to keep her in the room. But I will if I have to. It's past time for them to listen when I ask them to do something.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? How do you get your kids to listen?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cool Stuff: Mind Blowing Science

I like to show cool things I find for my kids to do, because, if you're like me, you're always trying to find something for the kids to do that doesn't involve television. Nap time for the my two youngest is my biggest problem. Samantha doesn't nap anymore, so I need to find something to keep her occupied quietly for a couple hours in the afternoon.

We finally got this kit I've been wanting. It's called Mind Blowing Science and it's essentially a basic chemistry set for kids four and up.

The Kit

We opened it today and it was so much fun. There is an instruction book with twenty or so experiments to do along with explanations. Today, Samantha and I worked with acids and bases (i.e. citric acid and baking soda).

We watched them fizz like sodapop when mixed together and cause color changes using an indicator (red cabbage powder). And we tested the pH of various household items, like vinegar, my Diet Coke, and soap.

Samantha performing an experiment. She pipettes like a pro.

The explanations were a little over Samantha's head, but she was able to guess correctly (hypothesize since we were being scientists), that soap is a base. She was able to perform the experiments herself after I read her the instructions.

Pondering her results.

She really enjoyed it and is already bugging me to do more.

One happy, almost 4 year old.

**Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for this post. I bought the kit with my own money, and no one paid me to review it. (I'd review stuff though, if anyone asked, but they haven't.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

It Finally Happened

Today, I had the ultimate mommy moment in the grocery store. Sean and I decided to go grocery shopping before dinner with all three girls because we needed to go grocery shopping as there was nothing to eat or cook in the house, and I love our store's prepared food section, it's delicious and relatively healthy. The girls get mac n cheese, the home made kind with actual cheese and big shell noodles, Sean gets a yummy deli sandwich, and I get the caprese pasta salad-- pasta, basil, a light oil and vinegar dressing, fresh chopped tomatoes, and fresh mozarella. We also get some fresh cut fruit and a piece of chocolate cake to eat (ok, that's not healthy, but it's good)

The plan was to get the groceries, along with dinner, and get home right at dinner time. I know many would say not a good idea to go grocery shopping with hungry children, but we usually go right before lunch with no problems.

On the way to the store, Samantha started in with "I'm hungry" whining, it continued, and worsened. I told her we were going to get dinner and I didn't bring a snack because it was too close to dinner. She continued, the whole way there, on the way out of the car, into the store.

Once at the store, we found a shopping cart with a car in the front. The big blue one I hate because it's gigantic, but we took it. Both girls can fit in the car together, although Samantha sometimes gets out and walks with Sean to grab things while I push the cart with Ella. (Penny is in the Bjorn being carried by one of us. Don't worry, we don't leave her in the car.)

As soon as we get in the store, the girls start fighting over who gets the steering wheel first. And I mean fighting--hitting, yelling, pushing, and that terrible screaming that little kids do when they're really angry.

I was already extremely irritated by the whining, so I went to the front and very firmly told them if they didn't stop fighting we were leaving the store with no food. Well, they didn't stop fighting, so I hauled their little butts out of that cart, kicking and screaming, and pulled them to the car. I strapped the little heathens into their carseats, closed the door, and stood outside in the windy parking lot, next to the car, so I wouldn't have to listen to the continued screaming. Luckily, our car is pretty sound proof when the doors are closed.

I have certainly heard advice before to just leave the store if the kids get unruly, but I never thought I would have to do it. Sure, sometimes they cry or run around more than I would like, but they're generally pretty well behaved when we're out. And, if I am doing anything that requires the twenty to thirty minutes of prep time at home to get all three kids into the car, I'm determined to accomplish whatever small errand needs to be accomplished. Today, I learned there really is a point where it's just not worth it. We'll go grocery shopping tomorrow, after Sam's at school and after Penny's doctor's appointment (she's 4 months already!).

Oh, while I was wrestling the kids, Sean took Penny to go get dinner, since we really didn't have anything to eat in the house.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Library Books Rock!

We take the girls to the library every three weeks. They pick out about five books and we read them ad nauseum until its time to return them and the cycle repeats itself. I don't generally read the books first. The girls each pick a couple and I just scan them to make sure they're an age appropriate length and throw them in my bag. I usually add one or two I think look good as well. I think it's fun to come home and see what we've chosen, plus it gets us out of the library faster before the kids become unruly and disruptive.

We have found some really good books that the girls love, like The Gardener and Don't Touch My Hat. We have also come across some not so good books, like the Henny Penny book I thought would be great but was illustrated with what looked like magazine cut outs pasted in the book, ransom note style. It was a little creepy.

Sometimes, we come across a treasure in disguise, like we did last week. We got the book Time Out Buzzy. It was one I choose, thinking Ella may relate as she is frequently in time out for biting or hitting. I was, at first, disappointed. It was overly simple, even for a two year old, with no real plot, and few words. It's about a boy zebra named Buzzy who refuses to do things his mother asks and is put in time out. While in time out, he puts his toys in time out, thereby cleaning his room and comes out and does what he was asked to do before going to bed. I wasn't overly impressed, nor were the girls.

However, it did lead to the idea of putting toys in time out to put them away. We often struggle to get the girls to help put their toys away, although Samantha is way too old to not help, and Ella is old enough to do some. Generally, we beg and plead, yell and threaten to throw things out, and are met with whining, crying, and laying on the ground not helping. We wind up putting the toys away ourselves, and the girls win the battle.

Today, I decided to have them put their blocks in time out because they had been naughty and were lying all over the floor (where the girls had thrown them). It worked! They scurried about, tossing the blocks in the block bucket and scolding them for being so naughty. It worked again after dinner where every toy and scrap of paper on the floor was put in time out in the appropriate spot.

It taught me a few things: 1. A little creativity can go a long way in getting kids to do what you want. 2. My kids are more than capable of cleaning up everything they take out on their own, and they know where everything is supposed to go. and 3. Library books rock!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Hardwood Floors Are a Necessity

Today after lunch I was feeding Penny and Ella stopped in her tracks and announced, "Poop!". She has become interested in potty training, and usually realizes she has to poo right before or during the event, so this was nothing unusual. She usually stops, squats a little, goes in her diaper, then removes the diaper.

Being on top of things today, I told her to not take off the diaper. I would do it after finishing feeding Penny. To add impact, I told her if she took off her diaper, it would get on her dress and smear on her legs. She was impressed, I could tell.

She finished, then said, "(gasp) Poop!"

"I know, I'll change you after I finish with Penny," I said.

Samantha chimed in, "Mommy! Poop!" while she pointed to the floor.

'Did it fall out of her diaper onto the floor?" I asked, unable to see from my vantage point on the couch.

"No," Samantha answered. "She wasn't wearing a diaper."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We Are The Incredibles

Today, I realized that our family is very much like The Incredibles (you know, that cartoon movie about a super hero family). I realized this when playing with Penny today.

Sean is Mr. Incredible. He isn't a gigantic mass of rippling muscles who can throw cars around, but he does single handedly financially support our family. He is the slient rock around which we all revolve. He can also fix just about everything we need fixed around here: leaky faucet, broken screen door, dishwasher that leaves junk on the dishes, and even those sippy cups with the straws that don't line up right, clearly a superpower.

I am Elastigirl. I can't actually stretch my arms under a table and pull my kids apart, or stand in one place and vacuum the entire house, it only seems like it. I run around, chasing kids, stretching myself between them. I am wife, mother, blogger, aspiring fiction writer, I'm taking an online class right now and will start another next week. I'd say I stretch a lot.

Samantha is like Violet, the oldest daughter who can disappear and form force fields. She wears her hair partially covering her face, like Violet. She is my shy girl and regularly disappears to play in her room alone and will stop her pretending if she sees someone watching her, pausing her multi-character conversations until it is safe.

Ella is like Dash, the middle child. He is more outgoing, just like Ella and very active. While I'm happy Ella can't move so fast that she can't be seen, I do often wonder how she managed to climb something or get into something in the two seconds I looked away. And she is always on the move, never tiring, my very physical child.

That leaves Penny, who is like the baby, Jack Jack. Mostly, just like Jack Jack, she sits in a chair or on her gymini, cooing and babbling happily away while the rest of us run around like we have the world to save. Jack Jack never really does anything, the whole movie, you're just waiting to see what superpower he has, just like we're waiting to see who Penny is. Today, while playing with Penny, I lifted her up, holding her suspended a few inches from my face, her whole body became stiff and tense. In my mind, I saw her turn into a flaming fireball, then a lead weight, then a little devil baby, just like Jack Jack does at the end, finally revealing his superpowers. She didn't, of course, she just threw her head back and squealed in delight with a big, toothless smile. Good enough for me.