First off, the person that invented the car seat was a genius. I can't imagine driving with the cell phone at my ear, a latte in one hand, and beating the little ones off as they creep up from behind. Those wonderful seats keep them contained, just the way I imagined parenthood to be. However, I loathe the committee that approved the original model and did not press for a self-cleaning option. The presence of a well-seasoned mother was obviously missing from their dialogue.
For a few weeks now our van has been smelling less than fresh, oh I guess I'll just be really honest and say that it had that nasty rotten milk smell to it. I'm fastidious about my house but the kid-traveling vehicle is another story, I keep it clean enough that it is acceptable yet I don't go crazy every week with the vacuum and car cleaning stuff.
I was especially motivated to find the offensive smell as plans for an actual vacation for myself were in the works. Yes, a "vacation" which means taking no children or just those children that will be less of a burden, as opposed to a "trip" which involves traveling a long distance with children that will demand every ounce of energy I possess.
It didn't take long to find the "problem". Child 4 that does not like to eat due to some fairly substantial mouth trauma as a baby and his natural genetic disposition to sensory processing disorder has spent much of the past year drinking liquids instead. The soymilk was tolerable but I wasn't thrilled about the studies that suggest the phyto-estrogen in it can mimic estrogen in the body. Once I was sure he could handle cow milk we switched to that in the lactose free form. One big difference between soy and cow is that when soy spills it doesn't stink when it is dry while we all know what rotten milk smells like!
Anyway, although I hated to do it, I pulled the damn seat out and let the dog eat all the crumbs left on the real seat in the van. On a side note the dog loves van cleaning day, in fact I've gotten so smart about it that I let her in there first to clean up the initial large chunks of dog-edible goodness. After I pulled the seat out I proceeded to do the unmentionable and dismantled the car seat cover from the plastic seat. Any parent that has done this knows what a pain it is and why someone would drive around in a rotten smelling van before admitting that yes, it is the van that smells and not the dirty kids clammoring in and out of it. At first I wasn't convinced that the smell was coming from the seat itself but once the cover was removed there was no denying it. Child 4 was attemting to make cottage cheese on all those long drives to art and violin lessons. He would show us for dragging him around day after day to activites that had nothing to do with making him well-rounded and culturally sensitive!
We now have a "fresh" smelling van and Child 4 is only allowed water while traveling. In my frenzy I even cleaned the coffee stains in the carpet (don't even think that I am only allowed water while traveling, dried coffee has a delectable smell!). I even made it to the hidden rear compartment where I store extra clothes for each child and the sling for the "baby" that is now almost two...