Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Poor kitty

Yes, Joey, packing is hard work.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Yesterday we had a birthday party for Meimei. It's been one year already (if you have a strong stomach, take a look back at the birth).

So, we got a little toy that we already had, so I returned it last night after the girls went to bed and got this little play table. Figured it would encourage Meimei's standing, have fun stuff right at her height, yada yada. So I put the table together while Pants and I watched a Firefly episode. We went to bed and I forgot about it.

When we got up this morning, we dragged the girls out into the livingroom to change them and get them dressed. Meimei immediately turns and tries to wriggle away from me. Almost at the same time, Kitten looks over Pants's shoulder and yells, "Toy! Toy Meimei! Yook, toy!"

Saturday, August 18, 2007

BPA Update

Going through my kitchen I have discovered the following:

Ikea cups and bowls
Take n' Toss cups
High Chair Tray
Weight Watcher's water cup

Pampered Chef Pitchers
Pampered Chef Chopper
Crappy cup from church bazaar
All remaining small sippy cups
2 larger sippy cups
Sippy that came with Ikea meal set

So all in all, we didn't fare too badly, although we have to get off bottles ASAP. I might buy 1, just to get us through. I have a few items to return from my mad purchase the other night, but it shouldn't be too big a deal. I'm curious about some of my tupperware, but most of it's pliable, so I doubt it. The Rock N' Serve might have to go, though.

Starts to make you take stock of just how much plastic you really own...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy Birthday! We're going to stop poisoning you!

So, yesterday, the Baby Bargains and Baby 411 people put out a notice that the scientists pulled together to study the leaching of BPA from polycarbonate plastic raised "some concerns." Polycarbonate is the hard, clear plastic (#7) that the vast majority of baby bottles and some sippy cups are made of.

So I spent much of my evening yesterday reading websites and ordering replacement cups for the children. We're going to get Meimei off the bottle post-haste and just use cups going forward. I am debating if I want to start moving Kitten from sippy cups to regular cups, but we'll see.

I'm also concerned about the nuks, as they have a clear plastic shield that is most likely polycarbonate. We may have to ditch those too, not that it isn't already time anyway. And some of the spoons appear to be the bad plastic too.

Please, if you are using Avent, Dr. Brown's, Second Nature, Soothie, or any other clear, hard plastic bottle or cup, throw them out and buy new ones. If you're going for bottles, try Born Free, a new polyamide plastic with no BPA. As for cups, the Born Free are a bit expensive, but try Nalgene (which I understand is ok), Avent Magic, Sigg aluminum bottles - there are a couple more options, keep looking. Any plastic with a recycle number of 1, 2, 4, or 5 is ok. Avoid 3, 6, and of course 7, the polycarbonate plastic.

This is Meimei's birthday present this year.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The return of infant leprosy

Some of you may recall, from my other (now defunct) website, that Kitten went through a few days about a year and a half ago where she developed a very funky rash - so bad it was the only time we were ever called to come pick her up from daycare. And if we hadn't taken her to the clinic that night, I certainly would have rushed her in the next morning - it got even worse.

This rash was what is know as a "fever rash", which apparently is a way for a virus to be expelled through the body. But it looks diseased. Illin'. Leprous.

Meimei had a fever over 101 Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and today, when we picked her up - there they were. The beginnings of the leprosy that panicked me last year. On the back of her neck, her forehead, starting on her arms. My kid will look plague-ridden for days.

I'm so getting pictures this time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's the capital of Somalia?

Don't give it away, just raise your hand if you know the answer (without looking it up). This is an informal poll.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Greening the Bathroom

It's time for the next installment of how to green your life without spending a killing. Today, we'll take a stroll through the john.

The nice thing about the bathroom is that you don't even have to remodel to make it more efficient. In fact, when people remodel this room, it usually becomes phenomenally less efficient (huge, jetted tubs, multiple shower heads). The higher the luxury factor, the lower the efficiency rating. So, to make myself feel somewhat better about my horrendously 70s bathroom, here goes.

  • Change out your toilet so it's low-flow, or fill plastic bottles (reuse!) with water and rocks to displace some of the water in your tank. A high-efficiency bowl and tank can cost less than $200, or just replace the tank portion for $75. 2-3 hours for tank replacement, 4-5 for full replacement.
  • Place aerators on your sink and shower head. For your shower head, consider a chlorine remover as well. For both, a shut-off switch can save even more. Shower head: $88, 30 minutes. Faucet aerator w/ switch: $4.99, 10 minutes.
  • If replacing shower fixtures, put in a faucet that has temperature adjustment separate from the on and off function. This allows you to turn on the water and have it ready without extra time wasted on getting the water to the right temp. Approximately $150, 1 weekend installation.
  • Take shorter showers. If taking a bath, don't fill the tub so full.
  • When replacing bathroom accessories, towel racks, etc., buy antique, used, or try recycled iron.
  • Use bar soap instead of liquid soap - there is far less packaging and usually no plastic. Try the soap rock next to your sink.
  • When buying towels, check out alternatives to cotton - organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and linen. They might be more expensive, but they will last longer than regular cotton and take less of a toll on the earth. Often, they will also be quite a bit more luxurious. They also make alternative rugs, robes, shower curtains, and shower scrubs.
  • If you have a shower rod instead of doors, opt for a fabric shower curtain instead of plastic, which may contain dangerous PVCs anyway. Hemp is naturally anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and does not require a liner - the curtain will get wet, but the water won't spray through the curtain. As with every shower curtain, pull it closed after the shower to ensure it dries out between uses.
  • Clean with natural products that are earth-friendly. There is a great Minnesota company called Restore that actually allows you to refill your empty bottles at specified sites in the area. They make toilet bowl cleaner, lime scale remover, glass cleaner, and general cleaners too. They even make a safer cleaner for kids with asthma and allergies.
  • Use more natural personal products - soaps, toothpaste, hair products, anti-perspirant - and use products with less packaging. Don't use anti-bacterial product, they aren't necessary. Tom's of Maine actually makes floss that's naturally waxed. Look for hair and body products online, or try Daisy Blue Naturals, a home-based sales product (like Pampered Chef). Or use Minnesota's own Aveda products.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Random Thoughts

One day, 15 years from now, this house will actually be what we want.

I will be building a master bedroom suite above my garage. Probably years from now, but it will be done. Oh yes, it will be done.

I pulled up Kitten's hair today into a top-pony - the cute little Pebbles thing. And now I know why every mother in history has done this to her daughter. There is no other way to keep the hair out of their eyes. Cute, though.

We brought the water table out front today while we were painting, but Kitten took the bucket and dumped water all over herself in a disturbing Flashdance facsimile. She was wet from head to toe, but only in the front. Her back was completely dry.

We got the remainder of the house primed today. The color of the garage isn't exactly what we thought, but it's not different enough to go buy another color and do it again. It's probably just such a change that we're not used to it yet.

By the way, I hate the previous owners. While we spent time meticulously taping before painting, it became clear that they hadn't.

I didn't get done nearly what I wanted to this weekend - I wanted to fix my closet and clear off the table, but neither of those things got done. We did get through massive amounts of laundry though, enough so that we're out of hangers until I can fix my closet. I think the remaining hangars are buried in the debris in my closet.

I'm pretty sure that the urban legend that you can get STDs from toilet seats came from people assuring their partners that it must be true, how else could they have gotten it?

Friday, August 10, 2007

My stroller problem

I have three strollers and none of them work for me.

I have my large stroller that was part of my travel system (an older version of this one). Pants insisted on the larger system, thinking it looked sturdier. The stroller is now much too heavy and large to keep hauling around. It takes up the entire hatch area in the Scion. It weighs, like, 26 lbs. Comfort-wise, it's the one Meimei is most comfortable in and it drives the best.

My second stroller was a lighter umbrella-type stroller made by Silver Cross (sorta like this one), the people who make the fancy prams for the British Royal family. I think I really got caught up in the British thing, and it was on sale, and I actually wanted the higher model, but then it was sold out after I ordered it, and I shouldn't have taken the smaller model when they called, but I did. It's light and folds up pretty small, but it drives like crap and the kids have both hated it.

I also have a double stroller. It's an older Peg Perego side-by-side that I have replaced the trays and one seatbelt on [it was used]. My problem with this is not just that it's a bit large for many trips, making it also a bit unwieldy to drive, but Kitten is growing out of it all too quickly. It's also much to large for my car, resulting in frighteningly limited visibility out the back window of my car when it's in there.

So now what? I have three strollers that I use as little as possible, and which represent hundreds of dollars sitting in my garage that have already been spent on items that worked for short periods of time, or not at all. I don't like traditional umbrella strollers - the kids sink into them and they want to sit up, it seems to make them very uncomfortable. So the cheap replacements are out. Here are my current options:

Joovy Caboose - Has a place for one to sit and one (Kitten) to sit facing me or stand, and she's probably old enough to do it at this point. Much smaller than traditional tandem strollers with seats for both kids, nice size basket, actually quite lightweight, folds up well, I think it would fit in my car (although with little room left), and allows Kitten to feel like the "big kid". I can get it for $150, but this won't really work for our trip to Maine.

Combi Urban - Stroller for one only, but drives well, only weighs 10 lbs., and is taller than other Combis, which is always the major complaint with this brand. Drove one in the store today (not this model) and it was even a bit too short for me. Perfect for travel, except for the pins and needles I will be perched atop while we are in-flight and I am imagining what they did to my $120 stroller when I gate-checked it. Downside? $120 to cover only one kid. Upside? Folds up pretty small, has a carry strap, will easily fit in my car and allow other items in cargo area as well.

Craig's List - There are often strollers on here, although they are usually older models that either don't fold down very small, or I can't get specs on them to find out, or they look like the really uncomfortable kind the kids won't like. I haven't had a lot of luck here. A lot of the postings are for doubles or joggers. And it really annoys me when people spell it, "unbrella."

Salvation Army - finding a good stroller here that will work is rare - and my requests are pretty specific. I doubt this will work either.

So I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to jump into another large purchase that will end up sucking if there is a cheaper, better alternative available.

Thoughts in Home Depot

"None of these lights match the ones I got from Target on clearance last year, when I miscounted and thought there were only two on the outside. Damn. No love."

"Would it be wrong to design a bathroom around the tile?"

"I know Pants doesn't think we're spending this much on cabinets when we redo the kitchen, but we are so spending this much."

"Sectioned lazy-susan corner cabinets where the sections each pull out for closer viewing? Brilliant!" [Truly, check it out.]

"Maybe Pants needs a compressor kit for Christmas this year. I have some projects I need to get done..."

"Do we need more paint roller-heads?"

"Alas, pretty kitchens, I must go. One day you will be mine..."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sleep, damn you!

I have finally, reluctantly, come to the conclusion that my second child is not nearly the sleeper my first one is. Kitten? In bed, soundly, for over an hour. Meimei? Happily tromping around the livingroom.

In order to sleep through the night, however, we have discovered, after many agonizing months, that this one needs to go to bed later. Kitten needed to go to bed by 6 p.m. to sleep through at this age. Meimei needs to stay up until 8:30 or so to sleep through. I guess it's a full night through, but I kinda miss my evening after 7:30 when both kids were sleeping.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Making headway

We primed the garage this evening. We will attempt to paint tomorrow. All in all, it actually took less time than we thought to prime the entire front. Less than 2 hours, even while tending kids, retrieving toys, putting one to bed, etc. We figure at this rate, since we only have the front of the house to paint, we will have the house painted in a week or so. If the weather holds out.

We also have nearly completed our front garden bed. The retaining wall is in and we have about half the dirt we need to fill it. All that's left is about 2 more loads of dirt, planting, and mulch. Of course, the bed looks completely different than any of my drawings - it took on a more organic shape when we actually built it, as I figured it might. And half my plants will die if I put them where I planned, so I have to recalculate that too. But the bed is nearly done, even if it will be a bit bare until next year.

I will post pics in a few weeks when we actually finish.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I hope puke is the new black

My children have developed an annoying habit - they've both started gagging and puking.

Kitten is now holding food in her mouth - we think she puts too much in her mouth and then doesn't know what to do with it. She holds it in there until she gags. She was just puking, but now we've gotten her to try to spit out the food, although she still ended up puking this evening.

Meimei is gagging and puking because we're still testing out what we can safely feed her and let her eat on her own. Clearly, we have not been entirely successful. Also, I thought she was okay on the lawn this evening until Pants spotted her chowing a chunk of dirt - which she promptly yakked back up on the lawn.

What to do? I hope this little phase ends soon for the two of them. I don't really remember - what does one feed a kid when they want to eat by themselves but still choke on everything? I gave Meimei egg and french toast yesterday morning and she chowed it - she's definitely needing something more substantial than baby food.

And have any of you ever heard of this holding food in your mouth thing?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bumper Stickers Seen

This is NOT an abandoned vehicle.

That's okay, I guess I wasn't using those civil liberties anyhow.

Start seeing Roller Derby.

Stewart/Colbert '08

Honk if my kid falls out.

Come to the dark side. We have cookies.

If God wanted you to speak for him, he would have made you smart.

My kids are in this car. BACK OFF - or I'll make you ride with them.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Why, Delilah.

Forgive me, Delilah, I just couldn't take anymore. I heard your song and now I miss Kashka to pieces.

Lo, we were walking through Menards this evening and who should start howling over the speakers but Tom Jones. And I couldn't mistake the song. And I was immediately back in our little corner dorm room with Kashka, singing like fools at the top of our lungs.

Kashka once wrote about me and I think it's time to return the compliment. You see, Kashka is my hero and this is long overdue.

Kashka introduced me to Tom Jones. She looked at me like a rube when I wondered if she liked Meat Loaf. Or if I could hang up my "All I really need to know I learned from Star Trek" poster. Everything I would have been ridiculed for in my school, Kashka was cool with. And that was day 1.

One day I came home from the library in the middle of winter, in a very bad mood, only to find Kashka sitting in shorts and a T-shirt, reading a book for class, and holding a fruity drink. "Luau! The heater is stuck on!"

Occasionally, Kashka would come in from breakfast and wake me up, very concerned that she had shut off the alarm, and let me know I had 5 minutes to get to class.

Kashka and I had an understanding - neither of us spoke until after the first round of classes. This worked well for the entire time we lived together.

I don't even know what else to say. Living with Kashka was like living with the best part of myself. We were simpatico in ways I can't explain and never expected. She could always make me laugh. She's smarter than I could ever hope to be. She likes way better and way worse music than me.

So that's why, Delilah, I'm just sick over Kashka's incommunicado status. I have grown used to regular doses of Kashka in my life, and I don't like giving it up.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

For the Out-of-Towners

For my readers who aren't in state:

Yes, the bridge collapsed on I35W yesterday, and yes, we're fine. No, we don't drive that stretch, in fact, we chose a suburb specifically to avoid 35W.

Yes, the bridge was being resurfaced and was down to one lane in both directions. It does not appear that the resurfacing could have been involved in the collapse, but we won't know for months or years. They aren't ruling anything in or out at this point. Although there is nothing to suggest sabotage, they are treating the area at a crime scene for now.

As of midnight last night, the rescue operation became a recovery operation. There are definitely people in cars above the water that they know are dead, but couldn't extract because they couldn't get to them or because it wasn't safe for the rescuers. I have heard reports of anywhere from 20-50 cars lying just below the surface of the river, most certainly containing people who couldn't escape or were killed in the collapse. As of this afternoon, the official death toll was still at 4 because the recovery operation could not begin until engineers could judge the safety of the collapsed bridge and build locks to lower the level of the river and slow the current around the wreckage.

79 people were injured, but stories of incredible heroism are already emerging. People who were climbing out of their own cars after the fall raced to the school bus full of children - all of whom made it out alive after the bus miraculously landed on its wheels after the sudden drop.

The bridge was officially rated as "structurally deficient". There almost 80,000 bridges in the US with the same rating, 1100 in Minnesota. MnDOT has rated 42 bridges in worse shape than the one that collapsed yesterday. Three bridges of the same design were inspected today.

I don't know anyone (yet) who was lost yesterday, or who was even on the bridge when it happened. Several stories of near misses. All at work were accounted for this morning. My friends have mostly reported in.

It will take years to rebuild this major artery into the city. MetroTransit is running extra buses to try to ease traffic into downtown and another road has been reclassified as a freeway to compensate (they turned off the stoplights and blocked entry and exit to the road from most intersections).

MnDOT turned off the traffic cameras pointing at the bridge today, or at least stopped streaming them on their website. I can only imagine it is to protect the public and the families from images of the recovery effort currently underway. We may not know the final death toll for days or weeks - the current is strong in the river and the twisted metal is blocking many of the submerged vehicles.

Give blood if you can. I will be donating next week at our regular donation day at work to help replenish the blood supplies.