Tag Archives: kids

Why I Blog

Some bloggers claim that their blog exists to serve its readers, which may be so, but I’m not entirely sure that this blog serves anyone at all!  I try to be on topic but I can’t always be bothered.  Some days, I just want to ask you silly questions, like can I shave the back of my head like I did when I was 19, because it would be so much cooler in this humidity.  Some days, I just want to post links to other places, partially because I want to share and partially because I hope eventually someone will post a link to my page (thereby driving the viral-osity I so crave.  People, I gotta get a book deal.  Then I’ll never get dressed and my children will be glued to Curious George forever.)  Some days, I just need to clear out my memory card on my camera.

It’s one of those days today, Cha Cha centric version.

She’s so cute. . . photogenic children are such a curse. . .

The bow kills me– it’s her Abuelita’s doing.  She wants the girls to be. . you know. . . girly. . . which is, weirdly, not my forte.

Happiest child ever.

Now I need to come up with a d centric post and a m centric one. . .

It’s the weekend, time to roll.  Have a good one.


K et al at AFTHOTW HQ



We promised the kidberts a walk to the park. Despite the photo below, M and D don’t always want to be doing the same thing, so Mr. AFT and I packed ’em all up and went to play.

While we were out, we figured that we’d get D’s haircut.  It was his first haircut with us (and we think, perhaps, his first time in a barber shop– his foster dad had always cut his hair.)  We weren’t sure how he would do, so we decided both parents being there was the best bet.  That meant all of us in the barber shop.

D did great!  I saved a bit of hair.  Barber shop had frosty AC. Here’s my question: what is barber shop etiquette?  Because after Daniel’s haircut, he watched Mr. AFT get shorn for a while, but he got bored (as, I guess, most 4 year olds would) and decamped to the mirrored wall with Mads.  You know what the major entertainment for 3 and 4 year olds at a mirrored wall is?  Babbling at their reflections in an attempt to make each other laugh.  They were also eating the ubiquitous goldfish.  Everyone there was tolerant. But I wonder– should I have been more insistent in my shushing? I tried to get them to sit down and eat the crackers, but no dice.  On the one hand, it’s not church (and it’s not like we do that well at staying quiet in church.)  On the other hand, barber shops seem like pretty staid and grown up places, certainly not pre-schooler friendly.  But not pre-schooler unfriendly either.  What say you?

I’m giving myself a bye on ending with a question in this case.  Comment away and let me know your stance — muzzle ’em in the barber shop and let their cuteness fly?

God’s Vacation

We haven’t been to church in a month.  I went 6/27 with the kids but I was the childcare volunteer that day.  The following week we were in Connecticut and the week after, the human alarm clocks slept until 9.  This past Sunday, my folks were in town for M’s birthday.  The pastor and organist have called to make sure that we are okay, which is so reassuring and. . . I don’t know. . . quaint? 

As a kid, missing church was a joy. But I feel kind of unsettled now.  The Congos have summer scheduling (an hour earlier) and no coffee hour, which is making it more difficult to get everyone up, dressed, out the door and remotely on time.  But I’m telling you now, vast multitudes of readership, I really want to try and make it this week.  I will bring my own snacks, but I need to go.

And it’s not that I haven’t been contemplative for the past month.  I have.  I’ve been having my personal chats with God, He’s letting me know that we’re on the right path.  But I need to go to the physical building (which will be beastly hot) and sit there for an hour (really more like 45 minutes– the Congos tend to go for shorter in the warmer months too.) Why is it different to go and pray in the church?

I just hope there is childcare.  The goob-keteers don’t go in for sitting.

But both Mr. AFT and I have been feeling unsettled.  There’s been some changes afoot at HQ (an understatement.)  We have no plans whatsoever to reverse any of those changes but we need the balance of contemplation.

Do you?

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. . . .

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.

I Went to Work and It Was Okay

It is the tail end of day 2 in my back-to-work saga.  M and C seem quite thrilled with their new day care provider and already my Spanish is improving!  Today I even understood a joke in Spanish about Charlotte’s lack of teeth.  Teeth and day care are big topic in Massachusetts lately (I’m sure that sounds very odd to anyone who isn’t the parent of a young child who attends day care in MA.)  Mads, apparently, does a lot of bailando during the day.

Astonishingly, work hasn’t been as awful as I feared.  It seems very clear to me now that being pregnant absolutely drained me last fall.  John is actually coming to work with me for a few days to do some observations for school. He is working with some of the students that I taught in the fall and they’ve asked him if I was as mean at home.  Good husband, he’s been lying and saying that I was a dream to live with, even in the moments before the induction.

I do wish the day was about three hours longer.  I’m madly typing this at 10:43 p.m and I didn’t prep the writing samples that I really wanted to for class tomorrow.  And if I was staying on top of things, I’d also fold a load of laundry before I went to bed.  Not happening.  I’m holding off on broad comments like “this is impossible” or “this is totally doable” until we settle into an actual routine– and John isn’t around to help with day care drop off and pick up.

My ability to be pithy here seems to have fallen off in the last few days.  I’m sorry.  Hang in there with me folks– snark will return as equilibrium is reached!

To make up for my lack of insight, I’ll throw in some gratuitous photos of Team AFTHOTW.  Because I know you’re just reading for the pics anyway. . .

A man outnumbered

Notice that Mads is paying attention neither to me nor to her father.  I suspect she is riveted by Curious George.  Girl’s got priorities.

Think of me at 7:35 a.m., molding young minds.