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.