Tuesday, December 30, 2008

3 presents each for Christmas.

For many years my daughter was an only child. Christmas was an opportunity to spoil a great child. It is safe to say that she received too many gifts more than once. One year she even asked if she could take a break from opening gifts and come back to it later.
This year was a very different Christmas. She is not an only child any more and we are a one income family now. With 3 children to think of and almost no money to spend on gifts we had to seriously rethink our approach.
The twins are only 1, this is their first Christmas. While we wanted it to be special we didn't think they would care too much. My daughter wanted kind of a big ticket item, but that was not going to happen this year. So we decided on the rule of 3. Each child would receive 3 presents from us. No ifs, ands or buts. We informed the girl of our new rule and she was less than thrilled. When she looked at me and asked "Why?" in a surprised tone, I said "Because that's what Jesus got. If you complain, one of your gifts will be myrrh."
She ended up with a scrapbook kit, earrings and a book that she really wanted. Hardly Paris Hilton's Christmas but she was grateful. She even squealed when she opened the book.
Thanks to the generosity of some friends the boys had toys to open and could not have cared less. They wanted the wrapping paper.
I am hoping we are able to stick with this new rule of 3. Even down the road, when hopefully there will be a little more money to spend on gifts. I want Christmas to be about what we do as a family, not about what the kids get. I want their best Christmas memories to be of the time we spent together and for them to share those memories with each other and their children.

Life, love and laughter-what priceless gifts to give our children.
-Phylis Campbell Dryden

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hey Mamas! Chrunchy Christmas Giveaways!

Head over to Super Mommy and check out the incredible giveaways she is having for the holidays. I just entered to win:

-A coupon for some cool hybrid cloth diapers

-A super soft mama cloth pantyliner (my new obsession)

-A treat basket full of fruit candy, truffles, cheese, crackers, NY cheesecake and other goodies

-2 crayon rolls

She says there is more to come, so check back often.

I am keeping my eye out for excellent giveaways for the holidays. I will add more as I find them

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homemade Laundry Soap

As a stay at home Mom (SAHM) I try to take care of my family in the healthiest and cheapest way possible. If I can avoid unnecessary chemicals and fragrances and pinch a penny at the same time, I am a happy woman.
When the twins came along, I was faced with doing laundry for 5 people instead of 3, 2 of them being infants in cloth diapers.
I started looking for the right detergent to wash cloth diapers with. I was not interested in wasting the time or money (especially the money) or experimenting on my babies to find the right thing. After joining the cloth diapering forums on diaperswappers.com I learned quite a bit about the different ways parents wash their cloth diapers. I also earned that the wrong detergent can leave buildup on cloth diapers. Detergent buildup can lead to repelling of moisture, stinky diapers and worst of all, diaper rash.
So following the advice of other "Crunchy" Moms I decided to make my own detergent for our cloth diapers. As long as I was at it, I may as well make laundry soap for our clothes too. I needed to find something natural, non-irritating, effective and cheap.
There are lots of recipes out there and lots of different options. The primary difference in choice is whether you want to go liquid or powder. The liquid is much more cost effective. But it kind of seems like a PITA to make. So I stuck with powdered formulas.
People have very different results with these recipes depending on their water quality and the type of machine they have. I have a top loading machine and a water softener. The water softener allows me to use much less soap per load.

Powdered Laundry Soap
Use 1-2 Tbs for a small load 3-4Tbs for a large load.
1 batch lasts me about a month. I do 3 loads of laundry a day. (not including diapers)

2 Cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
2 Bars of Ivory Soap

Put the ivory bars in a food processor and run for about a min. As the soap starts to break down I add 1 cup of either one of the powders. When the soap is completely broken down add the rest of your powders and process for another 30 seconds. Viola! Now add your laundry soap into an airtight container. I use plastic shoe boxes.

Cloth Diaper Detergent
2 cups of Oxygen Bleach product such as OxyClean
2 Cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)

I pour all the ingredients directly into a plastic shoe box. Snap the lid on tight and shake, shake, shake. After it is all mixed I sometimes sprinkle a yummy smelling essential oil on top then mix with a fork.
I use 2Tbs for 1 load of diapers. My pail is pretty small and I have soft water. So your experience may be different.

To soften our fabrics and help fight bacteria I add about 1/3 of a cup of plain white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Works like a charm and leaves no smell.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Win a Free Ergo Baby Carrier!

What a great contest! Win a free Ergo baby carrier and a matching back pack and front pouch.

Click here to enter.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We Have a Winner!

We have a winner for the Cloth Diaper Giveaway!

Here is the winner's post:
Alinga said...

My little one is due in April and I have decided to use cloth because after reading what is in sposies, I can't dare put them on my baby. Cloth is not only good for babies, but for the enviroment, my pockets(since I was recently laid off) and well... they look so darn cute! Please enter my little Easter Peep.

Congrats Alinga and thanks for entering!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Great Give Aways I found today

Choo Choo!
I love wooden toys for our little ones.
Frugal Mommy of 2 Girls has an incredible giveaway here of some beautiful wooden trains from Santa's Wood Shop. Definitely worth entering!

Baby Shoes!
STL Mommy is holding a drawing for a free pair of shoes from See Kai Run. Check it here.
See Kai Run makes adorable shoes and has a great program called Share a Pair. For every pair of shoes sold in November and Decemeber, See Kai Run will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cloth Diaper Free for Shipping Lotto

This is a starter package I put together for a family who wants to switch to cloth but needs help getting started or is already cloth diapering but in need of some help. There are 4 brand new still in the package Large Dappi Diaper covers and 4 premium bleached prefold diapers and a Snappi. The prefolds are not new, but they are in excellent condition.
To enter just leave a comment here and tell me why you like cloth diapers or why you are making the switch from disposables. The winner only has to cover the cost of shipping. I will use a random number generator to pick the winner on Saturday November 15th. Thanks for entering and thanks for cloth diapering!
I extended the date out a week on this because of slow response. Thanks! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Friends vs. Opportunity

Another school?
We have been given a tough choice this week. My daughter has the option of switching to the local public school from the one she attends now. The one she attends now is fine, but the local one is great.
Originally, we registered her at our local school. We were surprised when they told us there was no room in the 5th grade for her there. Each of the schools only goes to the 5th grade. No matter where she ends up, she would be funneled into the same middle school. If she moves that will be 4 schools in 2 years.
We received the name of her new school and teacher the night before school started. Since we were disappointed already, we were dubious of this new school. Things have gone better than we thought they might. She is doing very well there. She has made friends and is excelling academically.
The concern is that she is not being challenged.Will she miss opportunities if we don't jump over to the 'better' school. If she switches, and there are benefits, will they outweigh the losses in the switching?
In an attempt to give her some sense of control in the situation I told her she could decide. I am regretting that now. I look at her and I see the stress from the weight of what should be an adult decision.
She is only 10 years old. I think this is too much pressure for her. When the subject comes up, her eyes well up. When I ask her why she says 'I don't know."
I will need to decide this for her. I am the Mother after all.
If it were me, I would move. I like new places and I am not a 10 year old girl trying to build friendships.
I truthfully just don't know what the right thing to do is.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today's Snack: Popcorn.

I am a popcorn fiend. It has been my favorite snack for as long as I can remember.
As a little kid, I remember watching my Mom make popcorn in an electric oil popper. She would plug it in and I would try and get my face as close the big yellow dome as I could to watch the action.
Sometimes we would get brave and try a Jiffy pop. Those were never as exciting as the commercial.
Later we got an air popper. It was loud as heck. The popcorn was different since there was no oil. It still tasted good, but it would squeak on my teeth like Styrofoam. I loved the little metal butter dish that slid into the side like an easy bake oven.
Then came microwave popcorn. I ate a lot of that. Ultimately though, I am not a fan. It's too salty and just doesn't taste real to me.
When I moved out on my own I decided to learn to make popcorn in the stove top. This is the only to make popcorn. It's so easy! Why doesn't everyone do it this way?
Homemade popcorn, with real butter and the topping of your choice. Throw on a movie and pour your favorite drink over ice. What a great way to spend an afternoon!
If you have a nice heavy pan with a good lid, some cooking oil and a bag of popcorn kernels you are ready to go! The only hard part is deciding what topping to use.
Always start with real butter. I have known some people to skip the butter for health reasons. I am not one of them.
Purists will say real melted butter with just a pinch of salt is the only way to go. During my time in Oregon I learned about nutritional yeast as a topping. I had never heard of it. It was great! Now I keep a shaker of it in my cabinet.
A friend of mine clued me in on her her secret topping. She uses real butter then sprinkles it with ranch dressing mix. Delicious!
What about you? Does your family make popcorn together? Do you wait until you have the place to yourself and make a big bowl that you don't have to share?
Share with me! What is your favorite way to eat popcorn? Post some recipes. :)