Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

N-man was moving very slowly, so I jokingly said to him, "You're being a gigantic slowpoke!"

He answered, "only when I'm close to you. When I'm far away, I'm a tiny slowpoke. But really, I'm always my own size."

For the record, we were talking about perspective when drawing recently. He just chose to expand it to slowpoke-ness.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Zero-Waste lunches

Have you checked out the Reduce Footprints blog? Every Wednesday is "Change the World Wednesday". Though I don't often participate, I love the idea of it as I'm big into making small changes. It's too much to try to be "perfect" or to change everything about the way I live. It's too overwhelming to expect that, and then it's too easy to give up entirely. So I've been trying to make small changes to the way we live our lives, in the hopes that over time, it will add up to big changes.

Anyway, enough about why I love the idea of "Change the World Wednesday". Let's get on to this week's challenge:

This week we're all about kids ... after all, they will take the "green torch" and become environmental "Olympians". So this week, your challenge is to do an environmentally friendly activity with your kids (or grand kids or neighbor kids or nieces/nephews, cousins, etc). Get them involved. Need some ideas? Here you go:

Awesome Activities


Kids Links (Teaching Green)

Gardening for Kids

Once you've done the activity, we want to know about it ... so come back here and leave a comment (either with the activity or a link to a post) ... or if they did something fun during the summer like an Eco-Camp, tell us about that. We'd also be interested in little Eco-Stars ... kids who have taken it upon themselves to come up with green living ideas.

Or ...

If you don't have any accessible kids to have "green" fun with, then write an article about ways that we can get kids involved in an Eco-friendly lifestyle.


So that's the challenge for the week, and it dovetailed perfectly to something I was already working on with N-man and B-man: zero-waste lunches. Friday was their very first day that they were eating lunch at school. Working in schools in the past, it was kind of appalling to see the vast amount of garbage generated at lunch time. And I'm not talking about the food thrown out (that's a separate topic, though I did briefly sub at a school that had the kids compost all their compost-able food so it is possible!). I'm talking about the juice boxes, single-serve packets, water bottles, ziplock baggies, paper bags, aluminum foil, disposable silverware and napkins, etc, etc, etc. Kids' lunches just seem to generate huge amounts of trash, and most of it can't be recycled, or just plain doesn't get to a recycling bin.

That's where a zero-waste lunch comes in. The idea is to pack the lunch in reusable containers, with reusable silverware and napkins. If all goes well, the child shouldn't have anything to throw away after lunch (besides those pesky sandwich crusts!).

The boys and I brainstormed some ideas of things that would be good to include in the lunch, and things that wouldn't be good. That was a bigger hit for the boys...they were very good at listing things that come in single-serve packaging (i.e., nutrigrain bars, yogurt tubes, etc...things I get for treats but have been trying to wean myself off even in our own house!)

You can get official bento boxes, but I just used a regular lunch box with tupperware I had around the house. And the Rubbermaid Litterless Juice Boxes that some readers recommended last year are still going strong (love these!).

Here's what the boys had for their first school lunch:

Apple cider for a drink

Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches (cut into the shape of dinosaurs! I have a cool sandwich cutter that cuts one sandwich into two dinosaurs with only a little crust waste.)

Cut up strawberries and kiwi

A scoop of hummus and some bagel chips

And for dessert, a soybean butter and honey oatmeal ball. I (kind of) followed this recipe, but with some changes to make it nut-safe:


1/2 cup soybean butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips (if you're not dealing with allergies, I'd use mini-chips. I just can't find any nut-safe mini-chips. Though heck, if you're not dealing with allergies, I'd go to the original recipe and use peanut butter and nuts in these!)
1/2 cup raisins


Mix soybean butter and honey until blended. Add all the other ingredients and stir until mixed and thoroughly coated.

Roll into balls (I made them from about 1 heaping tablespoon each). Freeze or refrigerate until firm.

N-man ate almost everything in his lunch! B-man didn't do quite as well, but said he liked everything.


So here's why I like the idea of zero-waste lunches:

  • The obvious, of no trash for the kids at school
  • More economical in that I can buy large containers and apportion them into smaller servings.
  • The packaging from the products can be recycled at home, while there might not be recycling available at school (or the kids may forget to use it).
  • Buying large containers means less packaging than the single-serving packets.
  • Any leftover lunch comes home, and if appropriate, can become an afternoon snack so there's less food waste. B-man ate his leftover bagel chips and hummus yesterday after school!
  • Gets kids involved in reducing the amount of garbage they generate.
  • Opportunity to make healthier lunches by not relying on prepackaged individual serving (and often highly processed) "convenience" foods.
And as I said, this is a small step. There's always room for are some future "small steps" I may try to take to make this idea even more effective.
  • I'm not sure what kind of non-plastic options there are for containers, but as the tupperware becomes lost or worn out, I'd prefer to replace it with something that isn't made of plastic.
  • Okay, my zero-waste lunch wasn't ZERO-waste, because I had to include a disposable napkin. I have fabric to make into cloth napkins...I just need to do it!
  • I could do a much better job making local choices for their lunches. For example, I got them strawberries and kiwi, their favorite fruits, as a special treat for their first school lunch. But come on! It's apple (and peach) season here. That would be a much better choice for future lunches this fall.
  • What other ideas do you have for me?

Overall, a very fun, and easy activity. As I said, this was my boys' first school lunch, so we're not in the habit of relying on convenience packaging. Hopefully it will remain just as easy to continue with zero (or very little) waste lunches!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Discrimination against new moms

I love the new town we've moved to, but they are guilty of the most heinous act of discrimination against new moms. They don't allow drive-thrus. None. Really.

So that means if I'm out running errands and I want a cup of coffee, a doughnut, a bagel, an egg mcmuffin, a COFFEE, I have to park the car, get all three kids out, hike into the restaurant, order, hike back out to the car, now carrying food, too, strap all three kids back into their seat, then finally get going again. It turns what should be a 5 minute stop into a 20 minute expedition.

Too much work. So I skip it, then get grumpier as my blood sugar level (and caffeine level) get lower and lower.

I'd plan ahead and have food and coffee with me, except, you know, I lack the ability or energy to plan ahead. Severe sleep deprivation will do that to you. Plus, half the time my errand is to the grocery store because we're out of food anyway.

And the town has a perfect set up here. I'd organize a group of new moms to protest this obvious discrimination against the people who most need a drive-thru, except we're all too tired and need coffee...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

She Giveth, He Taketh Away

I took Z-man out grocery shopping yesterday, and the cashier was talking to me as she rung up my purchases. She asked if Z-man was my first, and when I told her he was my third, she looked shocked and said, "Wow, you look so young to have three!"

I'm not. I'm 34. But it was nice of her to say!

So I came home and told TK. He asked, "how old was she?" I told him she was a grandmother herself, so probably around 60. He said, "yeah, well you know how once you're older, you can't judge younger people's ages anymore."

Oh. I guess that was TK's way of saying that I *do* look my age. Good thing I'm not overly vain or worried about looking young!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One vs Two

So, my regular readers probably know by now that I don't write much about twins. I mean, I write about *my* twins, but not about the general experience of having twins. I very much take the "making lasagna" view of having twins: if you're going to go to all the work of making a lasagna, you may as well make two trays. Sure, it's more work, but if you're already doing it anyway...

I've always said that I don't think having twins is *that* much more difficult than having a singleton. In fact, I think it's easier in some ways! But now I have a singleton as well, and can compare the two experiences. So here goes:


Twins: You get enormous much earlier, and end up completely gigantic, leading ob's (or at least Dr. Tact) to famously comment "you're HUGE!". Far more stretch marks. Entirely too many people feel the need to tell you horror stories that go something like, "my friend was pregnant with twins and then she lost them. Then she died. Then everyone in the whole town died. All because of her twin pregnancy." Seriously, folks, it's not a good idea to tell any pregnant lady horror stories, but it seems especially cruel to tell someone who already has a high-risk pregnancy.

Singleton: Far less sympathy/thinking you're a superstar. People treat you just like you're some normal pregnant woman! Getting comments from strangers that go something like, "You MUST be pregnant with twins" is far less amusing when you are in fact NOT pregnant with twins.

Advantage: Singleton. You know, so long as you don't end up having Braxton-Hicks contractions 9 zillion times a day for the last two months of your singleton pregnancy. And so long as you don't move 4 days before your due date. And so long as you're not kept busy chasing active 4 year old twins. Aw heck, let's call this one a draw.


Twins: They give you the big room at the hospital. All kinds of special treatment and people cooing over your twins. They loaded us up with freebies when we left: 4 diaper bags filled with formula samples, bottles, diaper rash ointments, baby shampoos, tons of diapers, etc.

Singleton: They do NOT give you the big room. No freebies.

Advantage: Twins, by a long shot!

Going out in public post-birth:

Twins: Requires ridiculous amounts of planning. Creates a scene everywhere you go. People constantly stopping you to ask "are they twins?" Must use large twin stroller pretty much everywhere since it's not easy carrying two babies (let alone doing anything else like shopping at the same time!)

Singleton: Must constantly remind self to do any planning before going out, though have found that as long as we throw a few diapers, wipes and an extra outfit or two in a bag, we're golden for a whole day out. Still garners some attention, though not on such an epic scale as with twins.

Advantage: Singleton, all the way. Though I suspect a good portion of this is really "third child" rather than singleton. I'm sure if our singleton came first, we wouldn't be quite so cavalier about toting him around everywhere!

Stupid comments from the general public:

Twins: "Are they twins?" "God bless you" (okay, it's not the comment so much as the tone of "poor you" that normally accompanies this one!) "Better you than me!" "My grandmother's best friend's cousin's neighbor had twins" (or something equally insane...I don't need to know about every person you've ever met who had twins!) "Do you watch Jon and Kate plus Eight?" "Two boys? Too bad one wasn't a girl, then you'd be done" "Double trouble!" "Do twins run in your family?" Etc, etc, etc (Moms of twins, feel free to add your favorites! There are so many!)

Singleton: Almost none! People don't stop you nearly as often, and usually they just say something like "how cute" or "how old is he?"

Advantage: Singleton.

However, as a mom of three boys, I have some bonus stupid comments: "My three sons!" "Three boys? God bless you!" (Once again, it's the tone of "poor you" that is troubling). "You'll have to try again for the girl" "Too bad number three wasn't a girl" "My grandmother's best friend's cousin's neighbor had three boys, tried one more time for a girl, and had a fourth boy" (or something equally insane, though sometimes they'll switch it up and the person will finally get their coveted girl after x number of boys).

Okay, to be honest, thus far a singleton has been easier than twins. But, I suspect that has a lot more to do with us being experienced parents than one baby vs. two. So I'm still sticking by my belief that twins aren't *that* much more work than a singleton!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Champion Worrier, plus a bonus Who's On First story

B-man is, shall we say, able to imagine potential negative future events. I mean, I wouldn't call him a worry-wart. At least not to his face! Today reached epic proportions, though. Here is an actual conversation we had today.

B-man: We shouldn't go camping in Africa.

Me: Okay. [pause] Why not?

B-man: It would be silly. Elephants might come and step on your tent, and then you'd be squashed.

I should note that this came COMPLETELY out of nowhere. We were in no way, at any point in the recent past, discussing Africa, camping, or elephants, let alone the potential to be trampled to death by combining these three elements. B-man continued this conversation of death-via-camping-related-elephant-mishaps for another few minutes.

Then N-man joined the conversation. "We'd need a blow-upper." Long pause as we all stare blankly at him. "To unsquish everything the elephants stepped on."

Which leads me to believe those Tom and Jerry cartoons we let them watch a few weeks ago were probably a bad idea.


Now here's a bonus N-man story from earlier today.

TK was making lunch for the boys. "Do you want a pear?" he asked.

"YES!" N-man answered excitedly. He paused, then asked, "a pair of what?"

"No, not a PAIR," TK said. "A piece of fruit. You know, a pear."

"A pair of what kind of fruit?" N-man asked. This was throwing TK (and me, on the sidelines) for a loop since it's not like a pear is some exotic fruit they've never had before. In fact, pears are one of N-man's favorite fruits, and he picked it at the grocery store just yesterday.

TK took the pear out of the fridge and showed it to N-man, which did clear up the confusion. But sometimes I just have to wonder if N-man doesn't have a far more highly developed sense of humor than we give him credit for. I can imagine N-man going into his room and cracking up, saying "OOO boy! Did you see me fool mom and dad into thinking I didn't know what a PEAR is? Those dopes!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Perhaps this explains why they are so impatient...

Little Z-man was fussing as I was getting ready to feed him. B-man walked over and said, "Z-man, patience is a hurt-you".

VIRTUE, darlin'! Virtue! Though from your perspective, I'd guess being asked to be patient does sometimes seem to hurt you :)

It was kind of funny how B-man exactly matched my inflection. I guess I do tell them fairly frequently when they are being demanding that patience is a virtue...

Oh great, N-man jut streaked by, completely nekkid. I suspect they're going to take advantage of these times when I'm tied to the breastfeeding chair! Of course, what they don't know is that this is so easy with one baby instead of two that before long, I'll probably be wandering around during feedings (and forcing children to wear clothing!)