Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Taking Care of Grandpa

When my parents came to visit a couple of weeks ago, Helen was delighted to work on her caregiving skills.

First, she snuggled up next to Grandpa, so he could take a nice rest, while Grandma read a story to them both.

Helen was a little worried that Grandpa could see her getting into trouble, so she gave him a quick shot in the eye, in an attempt to blind him.

Lest he be bothered by the malady she had tried to inflict on him, she gave him a quick kiss to make sure he was OK.

Thanks for being such a good sport, Grandpa!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monkey Bars

The day before I turned 37, I swear Connor grew up. The monkey bars at the park near our home were the final obstacles for the little dude, and those have now been checked off.

At least I still have one baby, I suppose.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Do you like 'em puking or crying?

Helen's obsession with babies continues. Last weekend, we visited a farm to pick strawberries and Helen literally shrieked when she saw a baby. She put her hands on her cheeks and shouted "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! There's a baby!" as she jumped around and acted as if she'd just won the lottery. It makes me laugh just to think about it, because neither Ed nor I act this way when we see a baby. Which is not to say I'm not excited to see a baby, it's just that I remember how much Connor craved people noticing him when Helen was born, so I try really hard to focus on the older children in the family when I'm around a baby.

Because Helen loves babies, we end up talking about them a lot at this house. For example, Connor asked me a few weeks ago about how a baby gets into a mommy's tummy. I told him that it starts out very tiny, just like the seeds we plant in the garden.

It also leads to lots of conversations about what the two of them were like as babies. Connor knows he was my "crying baby". Which is not to say that he cried nonstop as a baby, just when I set him down, or left the room, or walked through the room when he was playing with someone else, or got in the car. Helen, on the other hand, was my "puking baby". Because for about a year, she had pretty severe reflux. Unlike Connor, who probably never puked more than a tablespoon his entire babyhood, it wasn't a day with Helen if clothing wasn't changed at least a few times. (Although, I should point out the sage advice of my friend Ellen, who told me that when Helen started to hurl, I should let her hurl all over me because it's easier to change my clothes than the baby's. True, true, I learned, since changing Helen meant she would be on her back, which could induce a new round of puking.)

These conversations are generally in the context of why a mommy might not want to let Helen hold her baby. Setting aside the fact, of course, that Helen's short time on this Earth might possibly mean she's not completely prepared to hold a baby.

Of course, these conversations often devolve into whether a crying baby or a puking baby is better. Connor thinks a crying baby is better because it doesn't need to be cleaned up. Helen thinks a puking baby is better because it's happier.

Frankly, I liked them both. But not because they cried or puked a lot.


Friday, May 21, 2010

You, and me, and the environment

My kids and I are killing the Earth. Seriously. And if you are a parent, I bet you do many of the same things. I about cry when I think about it sometimes.

I wrote about how Connor started my War on the Environment.

And then when Helen was born, I doubled down.

And here are my thoughts on all the little things I do, and I wonder some days whether it is even worth it!

But I promise environment, once my life is back to just me and Ed living in the same house, I will make it up to you. If you're still around, that is.


DCMM: Declaring War on the Earth: Part 3, Should We Sweat the Small Stuff?

First came the baby in the baby carriage, and the warmer house. That’s the day we declared war on the Earth. Next came another baby in a baby carriage that could haul two kids around, and a bigger house—The Big Move. Now, I have to figure out how to at least control this war on the Earth so that some day, I might live in harmony once more. Please, please, let this conflict not escalate any further.

I could do something extreme and sell my home, downsize, and instantly reduce my carbon footprint. The trouble is, housing transaction costs are high. It’s not something you just do overnight. Plus, a move would threaten my sanity, and that’s something I don’t like to tinker with. It prompted the initial move.

So here’s what I do – which follows all those posts on DCMetroMoms that got me thinking about this topic in the first place. And that’s when I realize that I, too, am missing the forest for the trees.

My children wear almost exclusively used clothes. I buy and then later sell them at a local consignment sale. Doing this provides efficiencies in at least two ways. First, in only two trips each year, I’m able to purchase nearly all the clothes they’ll need for the coming two seasons. That’s collectively a lot of gas saved in errands I avoid. Second, I delay the eventual entry of these items into the trash heap. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to do this. My own son recently showed me his trick of sliding down a slipper slide on his knees. My thought? “Oh my goodness that’s hard on those jeans! No wonder I’m having such a hard time finding his size at the consignment sale.” I have a feeling he’ll be putting his share of holes in clothing in these next years.
Few of the toys in my home have a battery. As a friend of mine and I were agonizing over all of the environmental damage wreaked upon the Earth in the name of our children she practically cried “and the batteries”. Yahoo Answers assures me that tossing batteries out is bad, bad, bad. After all, lead, mercury, and cadmium from batteries not disposed of properly eventually find its way to the environment. I need to get a box for the few dead batteries generated in my house and at least make sure they get disposed of properly.

I visited a friend in my daughter’s playgroup not too long ago and learned that she never uses a plastic trash bag. Instead, she saves bags from items like carrots and celery, sorts her trash so that anything that is “yucky” gets placed in these bags, and then she tosses them out. I thought this represented some pretty fine resource usage. When I marveled at this over dessert one evening, another friend chimed in that she did the same thing. Luckily, Arlington provides incredible recycling resources, taking nearly everything I can think of in the recycling bin each week. I like that. I remember when I lived in DC over a decade ago and I had to drive my recycling (except for cans and glass bottles) to a parking lot every other week. What a pain. Please tell me this has improved by now.

I never, never, never get a bag when I purchase lunch. But I admit, it's because I work in DC and it costs a nickel for a bag. A NICKEL! I’m way too cheap to pay that, and it provides enough incentive for me to bring my own reusable bag. My husband is champion of all champions when it comes to bringing his reusable bags to the supermarket. I’m still working on that.

My children and I maintain a vegetarian lifestyle, as does my husband much of the time.

About a month after my family moved into our current house, we had all of the old windows replaced and we had some of it insulated. (And note, I did not say reinsulated as my husband and I learned when we had AC installed that parts of the house had no insulation. Zilch.) More of this is on the way. Earlier this year, Arlington ran a very generous program that I am participating in where my home energy audit was subsidized and now I have up to $2,000 to redeem for energy improvements in my home. On the flip side, Arlington designates some homes as "green home choices" and I think this program is shockingly bad. After all, the house across the street from mine carries this designation (which I challenged). The house across the street is a newly constructed mini-mansion that was built only after knocking down a perfectly beautiful and functional home. Apparently, the act of tearing down a usable structure and hauling it to a dumpster doesn't count against installing energy efficient appliances. Uh, seriously? You tell me which impacts the environment in the long-run more. Even the short run!

I grow some veggies in my garden, belong to a CSA - something that is relatively easy for people in Arlington, and probably the whole metro area, given the large number of excellent farms around here. I'll be picking strawberries at this farm this weekend.

I once had a Thai au pair who would hop into the shower, get wet, turn the water off, do all her washing, and then turn the water back on to rinse. I have to admit, I'm not that dedicated. I like to stand under the hot water first thing in the morning. But I bet the entire year she lived with us she used less water on showering than my family does in a week.

But are these the things I should focus on? What’s the environmental smoking gun out there that, if everyone followed, would have a huge positive impact on our planet? Is there one? Is anyone looking for it? Does it even make sense to do the things I do on a regular basis or is it just a lost cause until my kids are older and I move into a small villa on the French countryside?

My friend Denise, always the environmental optimist, pointed out to me that if solar energy or other alternate energy sources were available, I’d convert. And certainly my parents did back in the 1970s with the Carter energy tax credits. Anyone know if this is a realistic possibility for future financing? Is the technology getting good enough that it ought to be widespread?

As I sit typing this post, my rain barrel is filling up, the lights have been lowered for the evening, and I’m eagerly awaiting your tips.

This is an original DCMetroMoms post. When Elaine isn’t fretting over her carbon footprint, she likes to immerse her kids in nature. She writes about it at Connor and Helen!

Digg This! • Share on Facebook • Stumble It! • Add to • Sphere: Related Content • kirtsy this

Posted by ElaineMM on May 21, 2010 at 09:00 AM in Elaine | Permalink

Environment, children, conservation tips Comments

Sue @ Laundry for Six said...
I have loved this series! Honestly, I'm still trying to get over all the disposable diapers I have contributed to landfills over 10 years. MY environmental guilt is huge.

I don't have the answers, but I agree that little changes, when taken on by multitudes, DO make a big difference. Even CFL lightbulbs - if every household in America switched just one incandescent to a CFL is would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to those of 800,000 cars. (Of course there is the mercury issue... nothing is ever cut and dry, is it?)

I was reading the paper with my husband this morning and lamenting that there never seems to be enough money to invest in alternative energy sources to really get us far enough down the road to making them practical for most of America, and yet, how many BILLIONS of dollars is it going to take to clean up this oil spill in the Gulf? Imagine if all that money had gone into research for alternative fuels instead. (sigh)

Reply May 22, 2010 at 07:19 AM ElaineMM said in reply to Sue @ Laundry for Six...
Substantial investments in alternative energy could go far. My parents were among the relatively small number of people who benefited from the Carter-era tax credits for solar homes. As soon as Reagan came into office, he decided that all alternative energy investments would be in nuclear power, and there went the possibility for most home-owners to ever be able to afford solar. Ugh.

And I just want to cry at the oil spill. Cry.

Reply May 22, 2010 at 03:13 PM Thrift Store Mama said...
The idea that the house across the street from you can be designated as green absolutely incenses and angers me to no end. "Apparently, the act of tearing down a usable structure and hauling it to a dumpster doesn't count against installing energy efficient appliances." This is clearly a case where local government is missing the forest for the trees. or just stupid policies and regulations - maybe both !

Reply May 24, 2010 at 05:05 AM Steph @ Consignment Sale Queen said...
Wow, seasonal consignment sales saving Gas.... I never thought of that! :D

Reply May 24, 2010 at 08:40 PM

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Last Friday night was date night for Ed and me. While we were out, it started raining, accompanied by a bit of thunder. Apparently it freaked Helen out. At some point, Connor went and told our au pair that Helen was scared and she was going to sleep with him. She did, and all was well. And Connor earned a whole bunch of "nice points" in my book. Possibly enough to offset his attempts to claim everything that comes into this house as his own, rather than Helen's.

Every night since then, Helen has asked whomever puts her to bed if it is a "funder night" and then requested reassurance that on "funder" nights she may sleep in my bed or Connor's bed.

Yes Helen, you may. So long as you sleep.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Month 31, Helen.


You bring a smile and great energy to everything you do, and that lights up the whole house. Your dad commented this past month that it was impossible to not be happy in your presence. And I agree! On his recent visit, Grandpa "Rod-o-nee" pointed out that rarely do you walk somewhere. Instead, you prefer a sort of hybrid running, skipping method of locomotion.

You continue to LOVE babies, so much so that many people comment to me how you look ready to be a big sister. But I quickly point out that you are definitely the baby of the family, and being displaced would not be a good thing in your mind. Almost always, they nod agreement. (And the saying "it takes one to know one" definitely applies here!)

You have tremendous upper body strength. The only time Mrs. Perine, my gym teacher throughout elementary school, ever took note of me was the day we had to climb the peg board. The peg board is a wooden board with about 40 peg holes, and you climb it by hanging from pegs and moving them up one notch at a time. I could climb up and down the peg board faster than anyone in the class. She had me demonstrate this ridiculously useless skill to the older grades one day. Perhaps you are planning on being a peg board star yourself. I have to say, not once in my life has this skill been useful, but I still remember feeling pretty good in gym class, if only for a day.

For Mother's Day, you and Grandma built me a planter. This photograph is the only proof that it once had four legs. Now, it sports three, as it has since being placed on the windowsill.

You love all things fancy, including plastic champagne glasses. Looking back at this picture, it's not clear to me you were drinking the non-alcoholic stuff. KIDDING. I am not that lax of a parent!

You still talk non-stop. I remind you regularly that I can only listen to one person at a time, so everyone has to take turns. You have another solution. Wear everyone around you down until no one else tries to interrupt your verbal hegemony. Whatever works, I suppose.

The most impressive thing you have accomplished this month is that you can go the occasional afternoon without a nap. You make up for it by sleeping late the next day. I find this awesome on both counts. This ability allowed us to attend the Washington National Cathedral's Flower Mart one Friday afternoon. I'm sure it was less crowded then than it would have been on Saturday. It had a ferris wheel. That was child-sized. So you and Connor could ride it without me. Yay! You and Connor enjoyed switching seats when it was at the peak. Your mischievous grins made me laugh. We also got to go sailing one afternoon. I feel like we have turned a corner in the world of parenting and scheduling. Thank you.

You remain a master at saying "cheese" whenever a camera approaches. Oh, Helen, if I could bottle your joy and sell it I would be a rich lady.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

He hasn't missed a beat

Yesterday was the official opening of our (former) neighborhood pool. Our current neighborhood doesn't have a pool, and we are so lucky that we got off the wait list for our old neighborhood pool before we moved, because the out-of-district wait for this pool is 10 years. Few things in life are worth waiting 10 years for, and that includes a pool membership. But, because we were members before we moved, we were able to leave the neighborhood, without also leaving the pool. (And since our move was only a mile, while we can no longer walk to the pool, it's still easy to get there.)

Sadly, the neighborhood pool uses the sun as its only heat source, so while it opens quite early, it can be cold. But the string of really hot days around here made for a pretty comfortable little pool, so we played there. Connor and Ed headed over to the big pool briefly, but Connor decided it was too cold. I don't think Ed even got his swim trunks wet.

As we were ending our visit, Connor mentioned he'd like to go off the diving board. And he did. So I bring you, the first jumps of the season. This was a huge deal last year.

Connor mounted the board confidently. Thankfully, last year's pool manager returned, so Connor didn't need to complete the swim test. Sam, the pool manager, has seen Connor jump off the board 100 times, and didn't even walk to the deep end to serve as back-up lifeguard when he saw Connor heading to the diving board. (Perhaps because he didn't want to have to jump in the cold pool!)

Connor paused to say a quick prayer (which I would've done too, had I not been snapping away on my camera).

And then he jumped right in.

Helen mentioned wanting to go off the board, but she knows she needs to be able to swim without a life jacket before she can do that. My money is on her coming pretty close to performing the task by the end of the year.

She did decide she wanted to dive off the side of the pool, which requires either Ed or I to get in the pool to catch her. Ed took one for the team on this one.

But as soon as Ed hopped into the pool and nearly froze to death, Helen turned around and announced she had changed her mind. She decided she'd rather "bask in the sun".

Score? Ed 0, Helen 1.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Connor, Month 57

Dear Connor,

You keep growing, and growing, and growing and all of it amazes me. You run to greet your friends on the playground each morning, you run to show me new things you have discovered, and always, always, you seem to be in a hurry. Except at dinner time. There, you are usually s.l.o.w. Sometimes though, you amaze everyone by hopping up to the table, gobbling down the evening's offering and then running off to do something else.

You have decided that you would like to have a "really different birthday party". You want one where children can look at a big tank of lobsters...and crabs. And then eat them. We will be in Cape May to celebrate your birthday, so we might actually be able to make this happen. If not, I'm sure you'll come up with another good idea.

When Grandma and Grandpa were here last weekend, you kept them on their toes. You always appreciate a visit from them because Grandma always agrees to carry you long distances, something I gave up long ago. You enjoyed a game a golf with just you and the two of them while Helen was at a birthday party and I was at a baby shower. You came home pretty happy.

You enjoyed heading out to Burke Lake Park where you waded in to retrieve an abandoned bobber. All of the adults were fairly certain you would end up completely soaked, but somehow you managed to keep your clothes dry.

You also enjoyed the carousel and train at this park. And you are solidly reliable enough to be put on a carousel and I don't have to worry about you jumping or falling off. This is important for two reasons. First, I do not actually like riding carousels. I love how they look, and I love the idea, but I'm old these days. I get dizzy. Having you be independent on a carousel is the first step towards me not having to ride one again. Secondly, Helen likes to choose her own animal these days, and it's not always near the animal you choose. She's not quite as reliable as you, so I need to be able to go to her without worrying that you will fall off.

We hosted a "natural dyeing day" for friends at your school one afternoon, and you created this silk playcloth, which quickly became a hair adornment. It rocks. I'm already planning the next dyeing day.

One very wonderful thing about your grandparents coming to visit is that always, always, we get a few projects done. This time? We added a rope swing to the backyard. Soon, we'll replace it with a disk swing, but until it comes, you can enjoy the rope. You insisted it have a loop in it for your foot just like the one in my Aunt Dorothy's barn - a swing you last saw about a year ago when we were at her farm for a family reunion.

My one beef with you is that when your friends come over you seem to have a tough time playing with Helen. In some cases, I think it's because you know how to play with them, and you know how to play with Helen, but you haven't figured out how to play with them both. In other cases, you enjoy seeing if you can torture her by doing something she doesn't like. I'm less fond of this than the first case where you tend to just ignore her.

All in all, Connor, I have to say that it doesn't get much better than this.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh yes we did...Build-A-Bear Take Two!

When my parents were in town last weekend, I knew Connor would want to go back to Build-A-Bear. After all, any time I mention family date night, he automatically begins asking to go back to Build-A-Bear. And Helen is happy to chime in right along with him.

Ed and I, however, have deemed that we must go to different places for family date night, and though I have yet to upload the photos, the second family date night was at a paint-your-own pottery studio and the third was a quick trip to a local cupcake shop.

Lucky for Connor, my parents were willing to take the adventure. We arrived at the mall, and Connor was a man with a mission.

Helen was cruising along herself, but she paused to take a quick peek at the jewelry counter.

Ed says a quick prayer as he approaches the store. See how relaxed my parents look though? That's the look of a rookie. They've been to Build-A-Bear with my neices, but clearly that was a loooong time ago.

This is totally going to surprise you, but Helen decided to make a cat.

And she dressed it in pink. Seriously. I can't make this stuff up.

She also scored hair/ear bows, shoes, and a baby carrier. I don't think she took the baby carrier off for the remainder of my parent's visit.

Connor had is eye on the prize from the moment we entered. He wanted the dog carrier that he had been denied the last time we went. He chose dog bed over carrier on that adventure. He is now the proud owner of another dog and puppy, a shiny, new silver dog bowl, and a tool belt. I have no idea why a dog needs a tool belt, but Connor was fairly insistent. He has already planned what he wants to get next time. Grandma Lynn?

The best thing about the dog carrier? It has wheels!

Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!

DCMM: Declaring War on the Earth: Part 2, The Big Move

As noted in the first post in this series, having children was akin to declaring war on the environment in my house. And adding a second child threw my somewhat simple life out of balance even more than the birth of the first. My hairdresser quipped while I was in her care one time that the second child can’t be as big a deal as the first. After all, you only lose your freedom once. But oh, how I beg to differ with her now. My second child has freed me to become an environmental disaster. And here’s why.

Up until my daughter was born, I lived in a 962 square foot house with my husband and then later, our son. It was a rambler with three bedrooms upstairs and another tucked away in the finished basement. The kitchen in that old house was what our realtor once termed a “one-butt kitchen”, for it was nearly impossible for more than one person to be in it at a time. Heck, we couldn’t even open the refrigerator and dishwasher at the same time, and it was impossible to get to our basement when the oven door was open. Problems abounded, but we made it work. It wasn’t that hard when there were only two adults in the house, and adding one child didn’t upset the balance that much.

And then came my daughter, and with her, the decision to get an au pair. Now all three bedrooms upstairs had a resident—my husband and I in one, my son in one, and my daughter in the third (because the thought of my daughter potentially waking my son—who has not always been the best of sleepers—at night was more than I could bear), the downstairs bedroom went to the au pair, and eventually, as we sat surrounded in baby and now toddler items, we decided to move. Now we live in a house that an energy auditor recently calculated has 3400 square foot of space. Our au pair has a great mini-apartment in our home, I rarely trip over toys because everything has a designated space, I can work from home whenever I want (that 5th bedroom is my office / guest room), the kids can actually join me in the kitchen cooking on their wooden stove while I prep dinner on my stove, and a sixth bedroom serves as a craft room (which I realize is not essential, but it does mean that I NEVER see craft detritus scattered throughout the house or worry about paint getting on someone’s bedroom walls…I love it).

Along the way, my son started attending pre-school five mornings each week, which prompted the purchase of a second car that my au pair uses to ferry my daughter about town and to pick-up my son from pre-school on days she’s with the kids. My husband takes the other car into work most days as he drops our son off on his way.

It’s a convenient life, for sure, designed to pack in as much time to just hang out together rather than being stressed out over misplaced items or extending anyone's individual commute. For possibly the first time in my life, everything around me feels organized, and it really puts me in a good frame of mind. But dear Mother Earth, forgive me my carbon footprint.

I love my house. I could get by with a smaller one, but it would mean I’d give up some of the spaces that have ultimately alleviated stress. I do, however, dream of being so efficient some day that I can live like Gary Chang! But don’t think I’ve totally thrown in the towel on this one even now. I know there’s lots more I can do. Next up: Declaring War on the Earth: Part 3, Should We Sweat the Small Stuff? And let’s talk about how we can minimize our footprint! (And no, solutions do not include getting rid of my daughter, because for as much carbon as I have used in her name, she brings more joy to this Earth than anyone who hasn't met her could possibly imagine.)

When Elaine is not pondering how she can reduce her carbon footprint, she records her children's lives at Connor and Helen!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crack Marble Run Builders

On Saturday, we attended Acorn Hill's Spring Fair. Among the favorite activities was this marble run that had been constructed using pieces of wood, a large dirt hill, a bell, and a plate of water. Connor and Helen both enjoyed watching their marbles splash at the end.

We went home and tried our hand at making our own marble runs. The first attempt was mine.

On Sunday, Ed followed up with this ditty.

Clearly, we have a bit of work to do, but summer is long.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day, 2010

Tomorrow, I get to celebrate Mother's Day, as a mother, for the 5th time. Here's the 4 year wrap-up.

Year 1: Connor sleeps in on Mother's Day, possibly the only day he ever slept in that whole year. I think he made it to around 7:00. I still remember how well-rested I felt.

Year 2: Connor gave me a tea kettle to replace one that had been broken. We also enjoyed lots of treats.

Year 3: Helen came along and woke up bright and early to spend the day with me. Connor slept in Ed's arms at the Nat's game which was quite enjoyable.

Year 4: I'm pretty sure I slept in and enjoyed a leisurely day, after a big weekend of excitement (Friday, Big Trucks Day in Herndon and Saturday, Natioanl Train Day).

This year? I'm planning on waking up early so that when the kids come downstairs at 6:30 or so, I'm showered and ready to have fun. We're going to romp in the yard, go to the park, and start a tradition of having a "just us" morning.

And at noon? I'm ditching the crew and going shopping with my girlfriends!


Friday, May 7, 2010

DCMM: Declaring War on the Earth: Part 1, The Baby Arrives

A friend of mine put it pretty succinctly a few weeks ago. The day my first child was born was the day I declared war on the Earth. And I doubled down when my second came along. True, that first child who is now four wouldn’t consider tossing a piece of paper in the garbage, nor would he ever throw away a plastic recycle-able. He knows that the water he can use for his outdoor projects comes from our rain barrel, not the regular hose. And he’s certainly not afraid to tell his two-year old sibling “Helen! You can’t leave the water running. We might run out someday!”. Ok, it was a simplistic explanation of why it makes me insane to see water running in the house when it’s not being used, but it works. At least for my son. I’ve even seen him tell my husband, our au pair, and visitors about what can and cannot be recycled, referring to the pictures on our refrigerator. He’s not afraid to go fishing in the trashcan if he finds a misplaced object.

Kudos to all the Earth friendly moms out there. As witnessed by all the Earth Day posts, it's clear many parents are doing a lot to live earth-friendly lives - and teaching their kids to do the same, daily. But I can't help but wonder, are we missing the forest for the trees? Prior to having children, my husband and I kept the furnace low, and when it got cold, we reminded ourselves that Jimmy Carter had advised folks to put on another sweater. If he could do it in the White House, we could surely do it too. Likewise, in the summer we rarely used our AC, preferring instead to hang out in our basement and sleep in a bedroom tucked away down there, affectionately termed our “summer bedroom”. My husband and I biked to work almost daily, had one car that didn’t do much more than take us on weekend trips and to the grocery store. When gas prices started rising, we didn’t have cause to take notice. For the life of us, we couldn’t understand why Arlington County issued such large trash bins. If ours was filled more than one-third, it surprised us.

But oh, how life has changed with kids.

True we started out with our son in our bedroom downstairs, but eventually, we decided to put our son in his own room. On went the AC as we moved to the main floor of the house where we could sleep in the room across from my son. Good-bye, summer bedroom. We turned up the heat in the winter, because we were advised by multiple sources that we shouldn’t be piling a bunch of blankets on our infant who could barely move. Oh, it was comfortable in that house, the whole year round, it was comfortable! Friends who before would be offered a blanket and sweatshirt from my husband and I suddenly felt like a trip to our house was a vacation.

That car that used to sit in the driveway? Now it went to the pediatrician, the Reston Zoo, the National Zoo, the very cool waterpark. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places We Went! And did you see the trashcan? We received so many items from friends and family after the birth of our son that the UPS guy actually got to know me well enough that he would just bring the packages right inside my house. And frankly, I was grateful not only for all the gifts but for the opportunity to exchange a few words with an adult. I’m praying that I will be forgiven my four years of tossing out of so many disposable diapers – two for each of my children. (We considered the cloth scene, but then we’d be using the washing machine nonstop.)

Ultimately, we found ourselves with a lot more money than time after our son was born. And this led to a lot more packaging and energy use than existed in our child-free years. True, we were able to make most of our baby food, but eventually sleep deprivation set in, and we succumbed to those ever-so-convenient pre-packaged foods. When I started working again, I needed to be home on time for the nanny, which ultimately meant more car trips into the office, rather than worry about the metro. And biking? Well, until recently, I just didn’t have the energy.

It’s been a big change in our life, and the addition of a second child and an au pair have exaggerated these not so earth-friendly changes. Next up: Declaring War on the Earth: Part 2, The Big Move.

This is an original DC Metro Moms blog post. When Elaine is not feeling guilty about her impact on the environment, she records her children’s lives at Connor and Helen!

Digg This! • Share on Facebook • Stumble It! • Add to • Sphere: Related Content • kirtsy this

Posted by ElaineMM on May 07, 2010 at 02:00 AM in Elaine | Permalink

Children and the Environment, recycling, children's impact on Earth Comments

Vickie said...
Haha. We didn't have a dishwasher in DC, so when Teo was born we used up a LOT of paper plates and plastic cups. I am not quite sure our being carless (since we moved here 8 years ago) is enough to make up for how much our 2 kids have added to landfills.
Reply May 07, 2010 at 08:44 AM Sue @ Laundry for Six said...
Enemies of the Environment... I know! The same thing happens here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Project Completed: The Sandbox

Last fall, Ed and Connor built a sandbox. Shortly after that, we intended to fill it with sand. Only, because there was new grass growing beside the sandbox, the truck could not deliver the sand, because the driver was fairly certain his truck would sink into the mud and get stuck.

Over the winter, we could have had the sand delivered when the ground was frozen, but we were never inspired to do so, given that we had shoveled more snow than we ever thought possible in Northern Virginia. The thought of shoveling sand overwhelmed us.

This Spring, I called the quarry. Naturally, our order was no longer "in the queue" and it would take them a couple of days to locate the piece of paper indicating we had paid and were owed a massive amount of sand. We arranged a drop-off day. Only it rained, so we had to cancel. And I think both our neighbors and us were beginning to doubt there would ever be sand out back. Diligently, we sat studying weather reports and when we saw a window approaching (hot days to dry out the ground and dry days to keep the ground from getting wet again). Much to our delight, the truck was able to deliver our sand on the appointed day. Unlucky for us, it was a lot more than we needed.

Isn't Connor such a trooper? He literally dug right in to level the sand.

Even Helen pitched in!

Ed and I removed a large wheelbarrow full and a big box full, and still, the sandbox overfloweth. So Ed and Connor built a taller sandbox, which is actually a good thing all around because it's more fun to dig in deep sand than shallow sand.

The painting crew arrived on Sunday.

And finally, finally, we have an awesome sandbox that should provide many hours of fun. Oh the outside projects I will finish this year.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tylenol and Motrin Recall

I consider myself lucky. Rarely, do I have sick kids. Helen can count herself amongst the few children who, at the age of 2.5, has never had an ear infection. And that makes her the luckiest girl in the world, given that she spent the first year of her life with fluid in her ear obscuring her hearing, but never getting infected.

Last Thursday, I kept Connor home from school. He felt like he had a fever, but my thermometer sucks, and Connor hates to get his temperature taken with it, and blah, blah, blah, a fever did not register, but I gave him a dose of Tylenol before I left for work anyway. He had, after all, abstained from eating his favorite breakfast of the week - cinnamon rolls. He had another does four hours later when he still didn't look right, and I believe he got a third dose after his nap.

Turns out, the medicine I gave him would be recalled the next day. That's what I call awesome. I found out about it from Susan/WhyMommy over at Toddler Planet, who reported strange looking Tylenol to Johnson & Johnson. My Tylenol didn't look odd, but it is most definitely on the list. Thank you, Susan, for alerting me now so I at least won't continue feeding it my children.

Click here for the info. So far, Connor has not yet grown two heads, but I'm keeping my eye on him.