5/3 at the grocery store

As a family of five (five!  yikes!), we eat a lot and therefore, out of necessity, are frequent grocery shoppers.  Even though Charlotte is new to the world of people food, she still eats her fair share in egg yolks and frozen peas.  She had baked beans last night.  Logic would dictate that I should arrange to shop alone while Mr. AFT stays home with the kidberts.  But we’d rather spend his time off from work as a whole family, so I brave the store with the three goob-keteers.

Dear World, Please help me with this.  Dear Other Supermarket Patrons, Unless you have small children (i.e. under 7 years old), don’t use the multiseat carts (the ones with the play car that seats two in the front and a regular cart attached with a seat for one or even two more kidberts).  I need those carts desperately.  Dear Supermarket Management, Get more multiseat carts!

So we forged ahead, me and M and D and C.  The particular supermarket we patronized yesterday doesn’t have in-lot cart corrals, so I had to brave the parking lot with three wee ones– C in my arms, M holding my hand and D holding her other hand.  I had spied the necessary 4-seater cart at the store’s entrance as we arrived, so I knew I had only a short journey before the saving grace of containment for all.

But no!  Denied!  The cart had been absconded by another shopper.  I was left with only a shallow cart with a single seat that I couldn’t even use until another shopper pulled the cart out for me.  In the meantime, D set out to investigate the basil plants.  I vainly called his name while I tried to corral M and strap in C at the same time.  Some patrons tsk-ed and thankfully one woman guided D back to me.

Dear Supposed Village It Takes to Raise a Child, Sometimes I need your help.  Please feel free to gently spare my child from dashing out into traffic.  Thank you.

Let’s not even discuss the broken restraint strap on the cart.  Char kind of listed to the right the whole trip.

The first section when we enter the store is produce.  M and D see this as  smorgasbord.   They both sink their teeth into unripe peaches before I can stop them.  We ended up eating peaches at dinner– had to use ’em up.

It entertains me, how the simplest of tasks can become an epic in my world.  A serialized epic, because the 5/3 Mama can only write briefly each day!  Stay tuned for the adventures of free range preschoolers in the meat and dairy departments, the patrons using the multi-seat carts and the joys of fastidious cashiers.

Over and out.


K and the gang at AFTHOTW HQ


Resolution Update, a little late

Here’s the June-ish update.

  1. Reduce overall monthly expenses by 10%.  We don’t qualify for Making Home Affordable, so now we’re looking at a standard refi.  I should know more this week.    We’re generally doing okay on this, but I’m still trying to tighten up a little more.
  2. Move forward with our adoption. As you know, Daniel is here!  For the next six months, we will have monthly visits with his social worker and our social worker and will likely legalize the adoption next spring.  We are settling in pretty well.  Daniel seems to be getting attached to us, we’re improving at managing three kids at once (luckily, they rarely all need me simultaneously) and Madeline and Daniel behave just as you would expect siblings to– that is, they are best friends one moment, wrestling like baby bears the next and tattling on each other the next (“Daniel took my bucket!  Madeline touched me!”)
  3. Make more things from scratch. I am slacking here.  I bought bread.  Purchased bread does, however, make a much better peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It has been sooooo hot in our area that I haven’t had the motivation to turn on the oven.
  4. Landscape. Need more woodchips.  Front yard looks better since the removal of overgrown bushes.  Picture soon.
  5. Reduce our paper towel habit. The greatest evidence of our success is John’s recent statement, “You know, I don’t even miss paper towels.” 

And, dear readers (all 11 of you), we still want to go viral.  Admittedly, this particular post is more for Mr. AFT’s and my benefit, but if you know someone who might appreciate my pith (perhaps another exhausted parent of 3 under 5?), please forward!  Since we’ve pretty well succeeded on #5,  I may have to add a new goal– PUBLISH.



k and the AFTHOTW crew

The Three Under Five Road Trip

We took Daniel (and the rest of the fam) down to “Gram and Papa’s Preschool Paradise Camp” to meets his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Following our the highlights of our return trip.

Loading the 8-passenger vehicle (that only holds 2 adults, three car seats with accompanying children and the dog) and the cargo box takes about 45 minutes.  Golf clubs and overnight bags go into the cargo box.  Children go in car seats (Daniel and Charlotte in the second row, Madeline in the third row.)  Dog goes into the back, next to Madeline.  Dog goes in early because she gets anxious that we might leave her behind.  Bag with diapers, wipes and car snacks (copious) goes in the second row as well, but out of reach of Action Man lest he eat all the snacks or do something like find the bottle of sunscreen and squirt it all over the window.

Charlotte now hates her car seat.  She schreeches when we load her in, settles in after a few minutes but that only lasts for 45 minutes, maximum.  When faced with a three hour return trip, that 45 minutes of calm is just a tease.

When her crying starts, it seems to coincide with Action Man’s limit of being in his seat.  So I vault over the seat to wedge myself between them to better distract them.  Unfortunately, the only distraction that C is remotely interested in is nursing, a big no-no in a moving vehicle.  So I try shaking toys, feeding her cheerios, giving her water. . .then Action Man wants the toys, the cheerios and the water.  His greatest comfort is to cling to my arm, which I need to distract Cha Cha.

D does have another favorite distractor– an endless stream of questions.  “Mom, we go in tunnel now?  We go up a hill?  We go down a hill?  Go later?  Go home?  Go to the park?  Where’s Uncle Mike?  Where’s Gram?  Where’s Madeline?”  I try to answer, but the questions keep coming. . . . tunnel? hill? Gram?  I try to ignore him and then my life seems like that oft-quoted (at least on FB) episode of “Family Guy”:  “mom, mom, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy. . . . ”  I want D to know how language works and that he can use language to acquire information, so I’m reluctant to shut him down but sometimes, wow, I can only answer the same freakin’ questions so many times!  But when I ask/tell him to stop, he cries.  Good times.

So now Cha is crying, Daniel is crying (and he’s exhausted too, having slept poorly the night before because of fireworks and the overstimulation of Preschool Paradise Camp) and traffic is building.

At the end of my rope, with another 90 minutes to go, I hang my head, prompting Mads to say, “It’s okay,  Mama!”  I find something for Daniel to color, which is a bad idea for two reasons– first, I didn’t bring crayons so all I can offer him is a spotty ballpoint pen and I don’t have another coloring page for Madeline. 

89 minutes to go.

All are placated, some sleep, we stop for a snack at Dunkin Donuts, because Mama needs coffee just to keep on going.

Did I mention that C had been up since 5:30 and therefore I had been up since 5:30?

“Daniel, would a snack make you feel more happy?”  The kid recognizes the DD logo at 100 paces, so I was pretty sure that I could satisfy his anticipated request for a chocolate doughnut.

“I want french fries!”


“Madeline, do you want a snack?”


I know this is a lie, so we order a chocolate doughnut and hash browns (the closest facsimile to fries.)

I divide out the snacks and amazingly, everyone is happy.  Happy-ish.

20 minutes to go.

The project manager in me insists on a post-mortem.  What did we learn?

Plan a route with multiple tunnels.  Bring crayons.  And sedatives.

5/3 (that’s “3 under 5”)

As in three kids, under the age of 5.

In the abstract, it seemed hunky-dory.  And in reality, it actually is.  M’s first words in the morning are generally, “Where’s my brother?” and D’s are, “Where’s Madeline?”  The greatest sound in the world is when the two of them are laughing and chasing each other or singing “Twinkle, Twinkle” to Baby Charlotte.  My greatest daily accomplishment is getting three small children dressed, fed, out the door and buckled into their car seats.

The most common reaction to when we say that we have three kids– and then tell their ages– is wide-eyed amazement and head-shaking.  People clearly think that we are crazy and I can’t say that we aren’t.    The amount of work I have to do at home has increased, but so has the amount of laughter. 

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. It takes a minimum of two hours to get ready to go anywhere. 
  2. D can sense if there is cake anywhere in the house and wants to eat it immediately.
  3. Somehow, M and D can use every single sippy cup in the house every single day.  I run my dishwasher every night.
  4. I should buy stock in Pepperidge Farm for the quantity of goldfish crackers consumed by my children. (C eats them  now.  Naturally, she digs ’em.)
  5. My double stroller can, in fact, accommodate three kidberts.  This delights every little old lady at the grocery store.
  6. Preschoolers are impervious to rain.  As long as it’s not a biblical flood, we’re out there.
  7. My personal savior is still Curious George, but a close runner-up is the genius that fenced in the playground, thereby preventing escape.  I also worship George Carlin for his narration on “Thomas the Tank Engine.”
  8. Baths are a greater entertainment than any movie ever made.
  9. I eschewed toilet locks before but thanks to Action Man’s delight with flushing and two missing toothbrushes, I have them now.

                 Me:  What happened to your toothbrush, Daniel?

                 Daniel:  It’s gone.

                 Me:  Gone where?

                 Daniel:  (with disdain for having to explain something so fundamental)  Gone in the toilet!

                  Me:  Do I even need to ask what happened to your sister’s toothbrush?

                 Daniel:  NO! (maniacal laughter)

Daniel is Here!

Look at that face!  I assure you that he was laughing as I took this picture, because that’s what he does most of the time.

Daniel came to live with us full-time as of June 17.  We did back-and-forth transition visits for the week prior to that.  Now, we’re settling into our new normal, just like after I had Charlotte.  No raging hormones for me this time, but maybe that’s why I’m so tired.  Or maybe it’s having three kids under 5.  Just sayin’.

Daniel picked us on February 27, walking right up to John at an adoption event and asking for juice.  Our social worker said that he wasn’t the right little boy for us.  Daniel’s social worker wanted him to be the youngest child in a family.  John and I thought we were going for siblings, a little bit older. . . but Daniel is our boy.  I have great satisfaction in my soul when they are all playing together or when M and D are singing in the car or when they are all asleep in their beds or when Daniel pats my face before he falls asleep.

I’m not saying that having three little dudes is easy.  But it has its perks, too.

M and C are thrilled.  Well, M is.  C is reserving judgement until she can speak, but she seems to think Daniel is mighty swell.

The brain trust hard at work at HQ

Do you know how hard it is to get all four of them looking at the camera?

And this one, because M is so pretty. . .

. . when she’s not covered in mud.

More soon– two more days of work and then I’m all yours, all summer long. . . .

Resolution Update – Super Duper *Three* Month Edition

Haven’t updated you since early March, so there’s three months worth of progress (or not-progress, as the case may be.)

  1. Reduce overall monthly expenses by 10%.  I’m still doing battle with the mortgage company– which is to say, the new mortgage company (the third one since I started this adventure.)  If you are reading this and have successfully refi’ed with Ocwen or anyone else through the Making Home Affordable program, please let me know your secret!  Gas keeps going up, so that’s getting harder to reduce (I also keep driving more, with more regular sojourns to visit family in the aftermath of my SIL’s death.)  I’m trying *really* hard (at least I think I am), but I think I need a good kick in the butt to save a teeny bit more.
  2. Move forward with our adoption. Separate exciting update to come soon.
  3. Make more things from scratch. Still making all of our bread and yogurt.  Have adding making our own spray cleaner.
  4. Landscape. Big success here!  We gave up on grass in the backyard and now have reasonably neatly maintained wood chips.  There were potted plants for color, but M unpotted them.  She’s so industrious!  We’re looking into heavier shrubs.  We also removed the overgrown bushes in front of the house and Mr. AFTHOTW re-edged the lawn and put matching edging on the bed near the house.  It’s all nicely mulched and awaiting some plantings.  This is more progress than we have had on making the outside of our house look nice in the five years that we have lived here.
  5. Reduce our paper towel habit. Much better.  Jack’s sad demise means no more cleaning up doggy accidents and John is getting into the cloth habit. 

I count this as two clear successes with some other moments worthy of pride.  I’m going to have myself a cookie to celebrate.

Evolving and resolving

Someone recently told me that no one cares about my paper towel usage.  I’m fine with that.  If you are reading this, great.  If you don’t want to know about my paper towel usage (which, by the way, has been drastically reduced since John is now on the bandwagon), skip that part (and any other parts that don’t interest you.)  If you are just here for the pictures (none today), click on the tag in the cloud that says “photos”.

I haven’t been posting recently.  I’ve been putting all of my time and attention into working full time and being a mom and a wife.  By necessity, other things have been falling by the wayside.  But LOTS of things have happened.  I could write eleven-teen posts about it all.  I’ll start with this one.

A while back I blogged about all of the “stuff” I had going on right now. Some of it is no longer an issue.  We’ll go down the list.

Two dogs– not any more.  Jack left us May 24, after 17 or 18 years.  He died lying in the sun in his backyard, which he loved.  He was an old boy and a good boy, my longest successful adult relationship and arguably, the reason I am sane.  Jack and I lived through a lot together and I only hope that he knew on some level how much he was loved.  Holly is still with us, seemingly unphased by her new status as an only dog.

Housemate.  Shawn moved out.  I already blogged about this.

My sister-in-law, sadly, passed away last week.  She had breast cancer, one of the most beat-able cancers.  Unfortunately, Ann never really responded to treatment and the cancer spread to her liver, lymph nodes and brain.  She leaves her devastated husband (still in remission from prostate cancer), two in-denial kids and a stepdaughter who is now the de facto maternal figure down there.  I’m grateful that Ann is no longer in pain but consumed with worry about her husband and kids.  More on this another day.  Shanti shanti shanti.

Our adoption.  Closer and closer!  Things are happening. There are people that I want to talk to in person who may or may not be reading this blog, so this update will have to wait.

My jobless brother got what amounts to close to his dream job– working for the US Tennis Association in some high up executive capacity. 

Stayed tune for upcoming posts with monthly resolution updates (super duper two-month edition), the return of Food Waste Friday (the accountability does help), Menu Planning Monday (but we’re eating the same things over and over, so the plans are boring) antics of the goobies and all the other fantasticness you’ve come to expect from all of us here at AFTHOTW HQ.

And the winner is . . .

(Fade in to home interior, early evening.  Our lovely heroine lies face down in bed, with a snoring toddler to her left and a menagerie of stuffed animals to her right.  Heroine stirs and says. . . )

I give up!  Day with only 24 hours, you win!  No matter how hard I try, there are, in fact, only 24 hours in each day and I can’t get everything done!  Alas!

(Fade to black.)

Sounds like a great movie, right?  I should be a screenwriter, right?  Yah, right.

So, I’ve been away for a while.  It’s the whole back-to-work thing.  It really isn’t that bad, but I’m finding it difficult to accomplish all of the stuff I was used to accomplishing while I was home on maternity leave.  Like line drying my laundry.  My dryer is running right now.  I used it last night, too.  I’m still line drying occassionally but not every load, like I did last month at this time.

And meal planning.  I haven’t posted a meal plan in two weeks.  I had a plan in mind last week and this week, I’ve just been winging it.  If you miss my thrilling meal plan, check out any of the 400 or so linked on www.orgjunkie.com.

And Food Waste Friday.  For the last three weeks, I’ve just been freezing my wasted food.  No pictures, no posting.

And my daily chats with you all and of course, Vishnu, the God of Death (anyone get that literary reference?  Anyone?  Tell me in the comments.)

But tomorrow is the first day of spring.  Time for renewal.  Time to get back in  he saddle, go viral and make the book deal HAPPEN, right?  Riiiiiiiiiight.

We have more light so I can take pictures, which I need to do.  Poor Charlotte’s infancy is zipping away undocumented.

She eats cereal now.  She digs it.

I’d love to chat more, but I have to do laundry and pack for a weekend sojourn to Connecticut for Will-i-am’s fourth birthday.  Two parties– and two cakes!

Meal plan on Monday.  Really.  Well, at least I hope so.

Addicted to Access

I’m back to work and, oddly, have very limited computer access there.  My district gave all teachers laptops last spring.  You had to go to a tedious two-hour training to get one.  I had a decent desktop in my office, no childcare for the blocks of time when the trainings were and a pink slip.  So I didn’t bother.  My pink slip was rescinded and my job changed so that I no longer have an office.  I still don’t have child care for the training times (4-6 pm– John doesn’t get home until 6 and day care closes at 5.)   The classroom I’m teaching in now has a clunky old PC that I have to crawl on the ground to hook up, if I choose to use it.  I’s also out in the thick of the classroom, so I can’t set the students to work and then screw around on the internet use that time to work on future lessons and send personal email respond to important administrative messages.  Oh, and there are no scheduled trainings, so it seems that I *can’t* get a laptop now, even if I want one.

Without a computer, I’m behind, disorganized and disconnected.  I hate it.

Am I addicted to access?  Is it too much of a good thing?  Is it even a good thing?  I’ve really been thinking about this all week, since Sunday’s sermon included the idea of “too much of a good thing” (and some other stuff that  I can’t remember four days later.)   At the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses, I think my computer time is reasonable and actually enhances my life– at least my work life.  The piles of scraps of paper that I’m currently carting around are making me CRAZY and I have no idea where anything is and no record of what I’ve done.

There’s also my sad failure to post in a timely fashion– which I am sure is an overwhelming hardship to you, my vast readership.

Short story– I need more computer time and I want a laptop to get it.  Then I can find good cupcakes recipes and post more pics of my kids.

Food Waste Friday tomorrow!  The little things make me so happy.

Menu Planning Monday – Week of March 8 (five work days– yikes!)

Here’s what we’re having for supper this week.

Monday – John’s going to a talk, so M and I are having scrambled eggs with cheese and ketchup (which we love!)

Tuesday – chicken fajitas, spanish rice (our pastor is coming over for dinner to discuss the baptism and the adoption), chocolate cupcakes if I’m feeling super ambitious

Wednesday – spaghetti and turkey meatballs (Wednesday is, remember, Prince Spaghetti Day, but we’ll be eating Barilla that I buy in bulk at Costco.)

Thursday – chicken pot pie (from freezer stash)

Friday – pizza picnic! (I’m really, really, REALLY going to make the dough this time.)

Saturday – we’ve got family in from out of town for Charlotte’s christening so we’ll all be going out somewhere child friendly and cheap.

Sunday – roast turkey breast with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and all of the Thanksgiving classics (a holdover from last week.)

To follow this plan, I need to go out and buy tortillas for Tuesday and nothing else– which is good, because on the eighth day of the month (i.e. today), I’ve already spent more than half of our food budget. It’s the diapers: I finally had to break down and buy some.

I plan seven suppers every week and inevitably, one night we end up eating something else. This week, I’m guessing Thursday’s plan will end up migrating to next week. Anyone else want to wager?