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Friday, April 30, 2010

"I Can't Afford That!"...When I Really Can

I am afraid that often times those who are frugal are considered "poor". Some people are frugal out of necessity but many are frugal because they choose to be. I think I have been both, as when we were first married we were dirt poor and lived paycheck to paycheck. We saved and scrimped in order to just make ends meet. Now, we still live off a small income but instead of spending that extra $50 or $100 at the end of a pay period we put it into savings or pay extra on our house payments. We don't eat out less or not buy that brand new purse because we can't afford it but rather because we choose not to.

I need to rethink the phrase "I can't afford it." My husband and I have been known to say that we don't have cable because we can't afford it. But we could afford it. Even for a basic package at around $40 a month we could swing it. But we choose not to, as we don't feel paying $480 a year on television is worth it, for us. We don't have a typical cell phone package but instead use a pay as you go phone which costs us about $25 every three months. We could afford a real cell phone plan but choose not to as we have a land line and see no need to have the perks of texting or unlimited minutes. The thing is, we could afford to buy these things that we do without, but after paying $40 for cable, maybe another $50 or more for a cell phone plan, $40 or more for eating out, and so on we would be broke at the end of the month. We don't feel that those things are worth a financial insecurity.

Choosing to forgo things that the typical American purchases can make one seem poor. I don't want frugal to be thought of as something only born out of necessity.

An example is when we went to a dealership to look for a van last year. We found one that we wanted but was a bit more than we had the cash for. Knowing that it was about to go to auction I knew that we had some bargaining room. We tried getting the price lower and they went down $500 but it was still more than we wanted to pay. They asked why didn't we just take out financing if we didn't have enough cash for it. We said that we wanted to pay cash. The men looked at each other as though they thought "They can only pay cash, they must have bad credit." They wouldn't budge on the price. I saw then that in their eyes financing was worth more to them (maybe they get a part of the interest?!) than the cash, so I asked if they would go lower if we did it all on financing (which I knew we could pay off in a few short months). They grinned and said "IF the financing goes through we could get it for the price I mentioned" (which was $2,000 off their original asking price). So we went into the dealership and waited and one of the salesmen came over a little later with papers in his hand and said "Your credit is perfect; you got a great deal on this van!"

Because we wanted to pay cash and not deal with a loan (we steer clear of debt at all cost) they thought that we couldn't get a loan. This is the perfect example of how frugality is too often viewed as a necessity for the poor instead of a smart financial decision.

From now on I am nixing the term "We can't afford it" and substituting "We choose not to purchase it". Because being frugal is a choice and one we chose. This phrase sums it all up for me:

"Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants." ~Esther De Waal

Don't forget to sign up for the drawing which ends tomorrow!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Snail Mail & A Giveaway

On Saturday my mom and I stopped at a garage sale that had "stationery" listed. We both gravitated towards a bin that held cards and little notebooks and each grabbed what we wanted, all the while kicking ourselves that we didn't notice that listing the day before and wondering how much of "the good stuff" we had missed.

Yes, we both consider stationery to be up there on the list of great finds at a garage sale, right alongside the Coach purse. Why? Because stationery, and good stationery at that, is hard to find. Walk into a Hallmark store and you would be surprised to find that there are just a few boxes of stationery - if you are lucky. Not even stuff with cute designs but rather drab paper that even a novice letter writer like myself wouldn't consider buying. Where has all the stationery gone?

Probably the same place that all the letter writers have gone - they have all but vanished. With e-mails, texting, and the increased use of cell phones (with free minutes!) letter writing has become almost non-existent. When we asked the ladies running the sale if they, too, enjoy writing letters since they had so much paper they mumbled "Ahh...well, that's just odds and ends that we've collected." I take that as a "no". It is rare to find people who truly do take the time to sit down and write a real, handwritten letter.

I've always loved to receive mail. Maybe it was growing up in a home where my mom had oodles of stationery, baskets of stickers, and cool pens to write with. Maybe it was watching her have so much fun when the mail arrived that prompted me to follow in the same foot steps. I got my first real penpal the summer that I began homeschooling and my name was published in a homeschooling magazine - so 17 years ago. Can you believe that I still have that same penpal? Our letters are less frequent as I have become busy with my children and she has gone to college and is busy with her nursing career...but we still manage to keep in touch every now and then. She is exactly like me in the fact that she uses colorful stationery and adorable stickers. I wonder if she even goes as far as to ask the postal worker (like I do!) at the window for some exciting stamps, as the flags and bell stamps get a little boring after awhile.

And then there is another friend that I have written to since I was 14 years old. We lost touch for a few years after we both got married and then reconnected when she was close to giving birth to her first and I was close to giving birth to my second child...which was 5 years ago. We now write almost weekly and while we are both busy with each of our three children we manage to find the time to sit down and write. We not only manage to find the time but we make sure we find the time to write. Our letters are almost like therapy sessions where we can rant and rave, or share and learn, or just ramble and chatter about one thing or another. It is almost as nice as sitting down in person over a hot cup of tea. We've met each other once and I hope that we will have several more face to face encounters throughout our lifetime. It truly is possible to have a kindred spirit even though they are miles and miles away.

Even if you don't write out thick, newsy letters there are always thank you notes (these seem to becoming things of the past as well), get well notes, or thinking of you notes. Who doesn't enjoy receiving something in the mail that is something besides a bill?

Apparently receiving a letter and writing one is entirely different. The post office is losing so much business that they are considering (or maybe have already decided on?) doing away with Saturday delivery!

I encourage you to write a little note to someone special to you today. Whether that be a parent, sibling, grandparent, someone you know who is feeling down or ill, or a long lost friend. You can be guaranteed that it will come as a complete surprise and leave them feeling special. And to make sure that you have something cute to write on, one of you have the chance to win a box of these cute notecards:

Just leave a comment below telling me about your writing habits: are you a real letter writer? Have you not picked up a pen and paper in ages? Do you enjoy e-mail or phone calls more than real letters?

One winner will be picked on Saturday, May 1st.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Not Me! Monday

Our city did not have their city-wide garage sales this week. I did not go to even more garage sales and spend two days driving to at least half of the 100 garage sales listed.

Most of the sales were not full of overpriced junk. No way, no how did people think that old baby clothes from the 90's were worth $1+ each. I also did not notice that it is the bigger, fancy houses that tend to have the junkiest sales.

One sale did not have a whole rack of brand new Gymboree clothing for girls and I did not pick up four things for Becca just because they were too cute to pass up!

On Saturday near closing time when my mom and I were out we did not go back to one of the church sales down the street and ask them if they were doing $1 a bag to clear things out like the other church sale was. They did not answer sure and I did not rush to the boy's table where I was able to fill a whole bag with quality Gap things for Jacob and Joe. I then did not find a bunch of Gap t-shirts for myself and a nice Pottery Barn shower curtain. 3 bags of nice things for $3? Can't beat that!

I am not addicted to garage sales....nope, not me!

So tell me dear readers, what has been your most spectacular garage sale find to date?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frugal Friday: Need Free Diapers & $10?

A few years ago I did a review of diapers on my daughter for a company called Arquest. They manufacture diapers and occasionally need mothers to test out their products. I was sent three to four packages of diapers to use on my daughter and had to review the product on whether they leaked, how they fit, etc. Every week I would receive a phone call to let them know how that week's package of diapers preformed (the phone call lasted about 2 minutes...very quick). At the end of the study I received a check for $10.

I recently saw that they were looking for children in size 4 diapers for a study. I called and left a message and just yesterday received a phone call back. I qualified and so will be receiving more diapers in the mail (it could be anywhere from 1 package to 4 packages) and will be testing them on Joe. This is an excellent way for mothers with small children to receive some diapers for free, be able to test out different brands, and get paid to do so.

While they may not have an open study at the moment, you can call and ask if they do and if not they can put you on their list and will call you when they have an open study for a size that your child wears. Anywhere from newborn to pull-up sizes work. So if you have a child in diapers give them a call and ask if they have an open study or if you can be put on their list. And let me us know in the comments section if you get accepted for a study!

If you have a girl call: 1-888-342-7372 ex.646

If you have a boy call: 1-888-342-7372 ex.634

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine!

Happy Earth Day! I think the best way to celebrate Earth Day is to enjoy what our earth has to offer today. Bask in the sunshine, stop to smell the roses, and enjoy the wonders that God has created.

We have been enjoying our little part of this earth lately. Here in the midwest we often miss spring...we jump from cold wet weather to hot scorching weather. This year is different. This year we have had an absolutely gorgeous spring with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. I honestly couldn't ask for anything better. These springs only tend to happen once every five years or so around here so we are enjoying it to the fullest.

My favorite season is spring. The newness of life - whether it be animal or plant - amazes me. It also amazes me to realize that even if I live to be 100 years old I will only be able to experience the miracle of spring 100 times in my life. I think every day is a blessing but spring adds a little something extra.

Take a bike ride. (And if you're name is Becca and you are 6 years old, rejoice that you can now ride without training wheels!)
Play in the sand.

Or just smile and soak up the rays.

It's all good. Happy an earthy day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Air It Out

The other day I was at a garage sale and the woman was sweeping her garage and chatting with another woman. One woman asked why it was so dusty and dirty in there when she had just swept yesterday and the reponse was that the wind was stirring everything up. The other woman replied that was exactly why she never opens her windows in her home and hasn't once since she bought the house 12 years ago. It made me stop in my tracks. Never open your windows?! I guess I never considered the possibilty that some people don't open windows.

Well, wait, I take that back. Years ago when one of my aunts bought a house she exclaimed that the windows had all been painted shut. We all wondered who would paint windows shut, as it was just a given that in nice weather you open the windows. Only a physcopath would close themselves off from the fresh air, right?

Okay, when I now actually think about it I get the reasoning that some people wouldn't want dust/dirt to get into their house. But studies have shown that the air inside our house is up to 70% more polluted than the air outside. One of the ways to offset the polluted air in the house is to air it out...just 15 minutes a day of fresh air entering the house can reduce that pollution in the air by 50%. Everything around you in your house can produce off-gassing; from your furniture and carpet to the paint on your walls. Add to that the chemicals that you clean with and fragrance sprays and plug ins and your house is swarming with unhealthy things in which you breathe in. We also spend almost 90% of our time indoors, breathing in these contaminates. Isn't that enough reason to open the windows?

The fact is, I don't open the windows in order to cut down on the indoor air pollution. It was only in the past couple years that I learned how unhealthy our air indoors is. I would do it for that sole reason if I wasn't already opening my windows but I've always opened my windows. From early spring when the weather reaches around 65 degrees to late fall, I have my windows open. I love to hear the birds chirping, the car tires on the street, the smell of rain, and to feel a warm breeze wafting through the window. There is nothing like when the neighbor's tree (I don't know what kind), which is right outside my bedroom window, is in bloom with thousands of little flowers that smell heavenly. The smell drifts into the bedroom window and makes the whole room smell like a bouquet of flowers. No need for artificial room sprays when you can have the real thing. When the weather is hot, but not hot enough for the air conditioner, I love to cool the bedrooms off in the evening by sticking a fan in the window and drawing in the cool air. Even on a summer night the fan bringing in that fresh, cool air can make it downright chilly in the room - and there is nothing better than snuggling further into your blanket and sleeping like a rock and waking to the sounds of birds chirping.

Yes, there are health benefits to airing your house out. But I think this is one of those things that benefits the soul even more.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eco-Friendly Toy Winner

I had Jacob draw a winner from a basket today and the winner is....Dee! Contact me at babys_mama1@yahoo.com with your address and phone number and the toy of your choice and I'll have that sent out. Thanks to everyone who entered - there will be a few more giveaways in the next several weeks!

The Right To Dry

I'm a little late in posting this but I wanted to make you aware that yesterday was "Right to Dry" day. People across the country are trying to make it possible so that everyone has a right to use a clothesline in their own yard. It seems silly, really, that this is even an issue but many communities have made it the rule that clotheslines are not permitted. In an effort to become more "green" and environmentally friendly I hope to see this movement work. I'm so relieved that we don't have to deal with that issue here (though some of the subdivisions may indeed have different rules). You can read a recent post of mine about clotheslines and my thoughts on them.

There is also a whole website devoted to clotheslines, their use, and this movement. The Laundry List is a wealth of information!

In honor of "The Right To Dry Day" (one day late!) I wanted to post this poem that I love.

The Clothesline

A clothesline was a news forecast

To neighbors passing by.

There were no secrets you could keep

When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link,
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the fancy sheets
and towels on the line;
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could
So readily be known;
By watching how the sizes changed,
You'd know how much they'd grown.

It also told when illness struck
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It said, "Gone on vacation now!"
When lines were limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full
With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon
If their wash were dingy gray;
As neighbors raised their brows
And looked disgustedly away.

But clothesline now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Today what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life...
It was a friendly sign;
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung up on the line!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Not Me! Monday

Last week we did not go out somewhere three days in a row. Since I was too busy to cook we did not stop at McDonald's three days in a row. By the third day the lady at the window did not seem to recognize me and tell me that my mother had just been through the drive through. How she knew who I was (or who my mother is!) is beyond me!

At one of the very first garage sales that I stopped at I did not see a bin of purses and ask how much they were. $5 for any purse in the bin. I did not see a purse that I liked that I dug out and realize that it was a lovely Coach purse.

I am now not the proud new owner of a Coach purse that only cost me $5. :)

Don't forget to sign up for the Eco-Friendly Toy Giveaway which ends tomorrow!

Happy Not Me! Monday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grocery Update

We all went shopping today so there were a few things put into the cart that I had no control over!

Menu for the week:

Breakfast for supper

Homemade Pizza

Enchilada Casserole


Taco Salad

Sausage/sauerkraut sandwiches

All are served with sides, vegetables, and fruit.

Shopping List:

Butterfinger 74 cents

Great Value something or other (it doesn't say what) $1.50

Eggs $1.38

candy bar 74 cents

pepperoni $2.44

candy bar 50 cents

poptarts $1.86

gogurt yogurt $2.25 (minus $1.10 coupon I had)

String cheese $4

baked ham slices $2.98

zesty twirls french fries $2.52

buns $2

Rimmel Bronzer $4.48 (free with coupon from All You Magazine)

Mini Ravaoli $1.88

spaghetti $1.67

spaghetti sauce $1.33

7up $1

onion 96 cents

doritos $1.98

tortilas $1.76

twinkies $2

Beef ramon noodles $1.98

turkey and gravy $2.28 (minus $1.50 coupon)

bologna $1.27

parmesan $2,78

pizza sauce $1

bubble bath $2.47

toothpaste $1.97

banana pudding $1

tin foil $1.12

meat sticks $2.98 (minus $1 coupon)

sauerkraut $1.24

cookie $1.24

Total was $56.09. All I have left to pick up is some ground beef (I hate the ground beef at Wal-mart), the salad that I forgot, and some milk. So way under budget this week! I will pick up more fresh fruit at the grocery store too. Lately we have been craving grapes and watermelon and luckily they were both on sale last week so we had them several times. Becca and I love fresh green beans sauteed with onions and bacon and the green beans were also on sale so we have been eating a lot of those. I'm glad I am getting back into the habit of writing out a list and menu as I went two weeks without doing so and we ate too much junk food and spent too much at the store.

I'm off to work some more in the garden (planted carrots, spinach, turnips, cabbage, cucumbers, and kohlrabi today) and to take my laundry off the line. It is a beautiful day and I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday!

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Favorite Find

I apologize for how lame my blog has been this week. Things have been so busy that I haven't gotten around to posting. I hope for things to get back to normal next week.

Yesterday hubby took the day off from work and we went to some city wide garage sales. I forgot how exhausting it is to take an almost two year old to garage sales. Putting him in and out of the vehicle countless times, watching him while also trying to shop, trying to detract his attention from the toy that he whines for at each sale. It is tiring! Even hubby admitted that after two hours of that he felt as though he had just worked an eight hour shift at work.

The sales were not as good as last year. I did manage to find the summer pajamas for the boys that I was hoping to find but I am still on the lookout for shorts for all three kiddos. One of my favorite finds were these: I love making cookies but have a terribly dull collection of cookie cutters. I found three bags of vintage cookies cutters that were divided into categories: shapes, animals, Christmas/Misc. The bags were just 25 cents each so I grabbed all three. The bags also included a lot of plastic cutters that I will use but don't like as much as the dough often seems to stick to them. These metal cookie cutters excite me to no end! Look at that itty bitty cat cookie cutter at the bottom...how adorable is that?! I see a lot of cookie making in my future.

More about garage sales and my finds later on!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Camera Play

It's been a rough start to the week and I'm tired so I'm skipping Wholesome Wednesday and instead posting a few photos I snapped yesterday while I was playing around with my camera. I find it interesting how just changing the color setting can bring a whole new depth to a photo.

Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway on the post below!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eco-Friendly Toy Giveaway!

As a parent I can attest to the fact that it is extremely difficult to find high quality earth friendly toys for my children. All the stores in our area only carry the cheap plastic junk that breaks within a week (sometimes it doesn't even last an hour!) and that is no where near eco-friendly.

I am thrilled at this opportunity to host this giveaway of an eco-friendly toy from a company that offers everything from bar furniture to baby gear. An online company is a girls best friend, as we can shop from home in our pajamas if we so choose to. If your shopping trips go anything like mine, you rush up and down the aisles at the store grabbing everything you need and run to the checkout so that you are out of the store before your child has a meltdown or knocks down a display of paper towels built like a pyramid. Shopping at home gives me the luxury to browse and find that perfect thing that I didn't even know I was looking for. CSN is the perfect place to start as they host over 200 stores and sell anything and everything that your heart desires.

Shopping for toys for your child, whether as a treat or a gift, it is impossible when trying to navigate those toy aisles without having your children screaming for everything within their reach. Not only that, eco-friendly toys are hard to find in most stores. Now is your chance to win a nice set of quality eco-friendly toys.

One reader will win their choice of:

ABC Touchy Block Set

Sliding Town Building Blocks

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment with the toy name which you wish to win. One winner will be randomly drawn on Tuesday, April 20th.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not Me! Monday

Last Monday morning I did not come down the steps to find a bloody mess all over the kitchen floor:

I did not freak out until I realized that it wasn't blood and instead was grape juice.

I did not freak out again when I opened the fridge and realized that a full container of grape juice tipped over and spilled all over the fridge and then leaked out onto the floor.

It wasn't I who used up a whole roll of paper towels in order to clean up the mess. I did not have to take out the bottom shelf and drawers from the refrigerator and clean them up in the bathtub. I didn't have to mop the floor. Nope, not me!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Garage Sale Tally

I finally have the energy to write a post about how our garage sale went. It is an exhausting task setting up and taking down all that stuff everyday (the pitfalls of having a too small garage and needing to have a yard sale). But it was well worth it.

We were swamped with customers an hour before opening time on Thursday so we were setting up and waiting on customers so at least two hours. I forgot to snap a picture of the before but luckily my sister didn't and got the two photos below.

They were both snapped within the first hour of opening so you can see the shear amount of stuff that we had (this was a multi-family garage sale). There are also tables extending out along the sidewalk that you aren't able to see and a hanging rack with clothing as well.

Thursday we started setting up at 8:00am and by 9:30 there were several customers. Our "open hours" for the day was 11:00 to 6:00 and we had a rush of people all day. Only once was there a lull where no one was at the sale and that probably lasted five minutes at the most. At times we had cars parked up and down the street so there had to be 15 or more people shopping at once. There were lines of people waiting to be checked out, people grabbing boxes to hold what they were buying, and we were still trying to set up! My mom managed the checking out while my aunt and I continued to unload boxes and try to find room on tables and shelves to put items. The first day I made a grand total of $107.15 and Becca made $1.50 and Jacob made $6.30 on toys that they sold. The bad thing about Thursday is that the wind picked up as the day went on and it was COLD. We had blankets out there and our hands turned numb. I would say it was around 40 degrees by the end of the day so not an enjoyable experience but it didn't keep the crowds away.

Friday was slower paced but still busy. Again, we rarely had a lull when no one was shopping at the sale. It was sunny and warm so that probably helped out. Friday hours was 8am to 5pm. I made $39.55 and Jacob made $3 and Becca $1.50.

Saturday was 8am to noon. Again, another beautiful day and we had a steady stream of customers. We priced all clothing and books at half price to move items and got rid of a lot. Almost all the clothing sold and there wasn't a whole lot left at the end of the sale. Yesterday I made $38.65 and Becca made $5.05 and Jacob $5.80. My grand total for the three days was $182.35. For all the families involved we raked in a total of over $1,700 in this three day sale. Pretty impressive!

Final picture of the tables before closing time:
That was all that was left, along with another small bookcase with paperbacks on that is out of shot. I had brought nine huge boxes, one large bag, a coffee table, small desk, high chair, rug, and children's activity push cart and left with just one box items.
The kids are going to save their money for this coming weekend when there are city wide sales so that they can buy any item they may come across that they just have to have. I will use some of the money I made for buying clothing that the children need at these upcoming garage sales.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Frugal Friday: Garage Sales

Considering that I will be hosting my own garage sale today and the fact that getting rid of things that you no longer need to bring in a little cash is totally thrifty, what better post today than one on how to host your own garage sale?

If you have never had a garage sale before it is fairly simple when you follow a few rules of the game. The best way for a mother of young children to host a sale is to get together with other moms or people that you know and host a multi-family sale. Not only will your sale look more appealing by having more merchandise but you will have extra hands in taking cash, watching to make sure nothing is stolen (yes, there are thiefs even at garage sales!), and people there to help watch your children. It is hard to watch a sale alone and try to deal with a child or two at the same time. Many hands make for light work...or something like that!

The most important thing is to advertise. I always look to the newspaper to plan my garage sale shopping and that is the best way to draw attention to your sale for others like me who do the same thing. Bright signs posted at the end of your road advertising your sale is also a must. They will direct people to your sale that may have not seen your advertisement in the paper or are bad at directions. Take them down when your sale is over as many towns will fine you if left up for too long.

Make sure your prices are fair and make sure everything is clearly marked. When I go to a sale with high prices or no prices at all I don't even bother to continue looking. I love sales where kids clothing is marked $1 and under, though I will pay a little more for a name brand outfit or brand new clothing item.

Make sure your items are displayed nicely. Digging through bins and boxes will detract customers so try to place the majority of your items on shelves, tables, or hang them up. Something simple as a board or old door placed on two saw horses and covered with a tablecloth is enough to make it look attractive. This is also creating curb appeal; more people stop at sales that look good from the road. I know I have driven past my fair share of sales the look dumpy from the road...those just aren't worth my stopping at, even though they may have had really nice items but not the space to display them. Dirty and broken things should not be for sale, but may be placed in a free box which plenty of people like to dig in.

Have plenty of change and plastic bags. It is bad when you run out of either!

Choose a day/days that are typical of garage sales in your town. Many sales run from Thursday to Saturday here so that is when we typically have ours. The busiest day is Thursday, a steady stream is on Friday, and some wheelers and dealers come about Saturday when we are willing to lower prices in order not to have to haul the stuff back home. You may decide to have just a one day sale or a one and a half day sale. It's up to you!

It's really as easy as that. I will be posting pictures of our sale once it is over and give you the grand totals!

Have you had a successful garage sale? What tips do you have?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why Do You Blog?

Blog is a word that used to be unknown but is slowly gaining popularity. Almost everyone knows what a blog is now. For some it is an online journal. For others it could be a way for them to keep in touch with family and friends. Others use it for a source of income. The reasons why one blogs can be vast and varied. I started this blog as an outlet for my writing. It has turned into so much more.

I have started a community of sorts for myself. I have learned a lot through comments left from my readers. I have learned when to speak up and when to keep my mouth shut. I have learned that maybe my life or thoughts are at least a bit interesting, as my readers come back looking for more. So thank you dear readers! I know some of you, know of some of you through your own personal blogs, and realize that there are several lurkers who must find one thing or another helpful or entertaining that I write.

I don't blog for money. I do have a few advertisements on here of course, but haven't even cashed in on one of them yet. That is not the purpose of this blog. I don't blog about controversial things just to get clicks, I don't make things up in order to draw in more readers. I feel that it is my responsibility as a mother to keep it real. I will blog about my good days as well as the bad. I'm not a supermom and will never pretend to be. I'm just a real person sharing real things about my life.

I can tell you that blogging is fun. I love receiving comments and I suppose it is a bit of an ego boost to realize that people actually choose to come back day after day to read my daily drivel. I started this blog back in August not sure what direction I would be taking it in. I have changed layouts several times. I have learned a lot of computer design work just by messing around on my blog. I've been using it as an online journal and love going back through the older posts and see what I was working on back then. It's been an adventure and I just wish I had started one sooner!

If you have a blog, what enticed you to start it? If you read certain blogs, what keeps you coming back to them again and again?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Alternative Menstrual Products, Reviewed

My post a few weeks back about alternatives to traditional pads and tampons received quite a bit of attention. Many women expressed the desire to switch over to something more natural but didn't know where to start or didn't know if they could handle the alternatives. I was in the same boat.

Then I had the opportunity to review cloth menstrual pads from three companies. I was impressed with all the products when they arrived in the mail. All were so nicely made and the fabric was so soft. This was one month that I was excited to get my "monthly visitor".

I had three different stlyes of pads to test. Panty liners, normal flow, and heavy flow cloth pads. From all three companies combined I received seven pads: two pantyliners, three regular flow, and two heavy flow pads. So this was not enough to last throughout my whole cycle, even with washing them several times, but they gave me an excellent idea of what these cloth pads are about.

I have to be honest upfront and say that I did not like them for my heavy flow days. I think that they worked just as well as the traditional store bought chemical laden counterparts, but I did have one leak and didn't like them much for those days. I do think that with time I will get used to them for even the heavy days but right now I do not plan on using cloth menstrual pads on the especially heavy days. That may change in time.

Other than that, for the several lighter days I was impressed by them. The ick factor wasn't much of a big deal...when I changed them I just rinsed quickly in cold water and then put them in an empty baby wipe container with cold water to soak in. Changing the water daily and washing every other day was fine and while changing the rinse water was a little gross it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and even as the week progressed it was less and less gross to me.

The pads are comfortable. All of them have wings that snap around the panties so everything stays in place. The material ranges from fleece to cotton and they are all so soft. Nothing like the sticky diaper like material that store bought disposable pads are made from. I rate them a 10 out of 10 when it comes to the feel of wearing them. They are no bulkier than store bought pads either.

I love how cloth pads prevent waste going into the landfill. It is estimated that in America alone, women throw away 20 billion disposable pads and tampons a year. That is an astounding number and shows how much waste is ending up in the landfills. Cloth pads can prevent that. Cloth pads are also made to last around 5 years, so they are certainly cost effective. Good for the earth and your pocketbook!

My conclusion after testing these products out for a week is that I will use cloth pantyliners exclusively and that for at least half my cycle I will be using cloth menstrual pads. I think some day I will go to full-time but I need a bit more experience before making that jump. It really is easier than I thought so if you are even thinking about making a switch I encourage you to do so. Please visit the three companies below to check out their products!

Wee Essentials has such a variety of designs and styles. I liked the heavy flow pad especially as it really worked for my heavy flow days. The panty liner is thin enough that you don't even notice you are wearing anything. I also recommend you check out their "Soap Bits", which are tiny squares of soap that are a 99% natural way to make cloth wipe solution, cleaning solution, travel wash, or forming hand soap. What an innovative idea!

Moon Pads have the neatest fabric designs, they remind me of something retro. Made from organic cotton they are hand dyed with beautiful colors, dyes that are professional quality but made from the safest environmental dyes out there. They pair the brightly dyed cotton flannel with eccentric quilters cotton flaps. These are not only useful, but fun too! Oh so soft and absorbent.

Moon Loon pads are different from any of the other pads I tested as they have the pads with wings but also have inserts that you can buy so instead of changing the whole pad you can change just the insert. Which means you don't have to invest in as many pads at one time, but just purchase more inserts. I found the inserts, while thin, were absorbent enough that nothing leaked through to the pad underneath. These would make for extra protection at night too. Such soft flannel material and while the tops of the pads and inserts are a natural color and I worried about ugly stains, so far they have come out bright and clean in the wash.

I hope that you will support these small businesses and try an environmentally friendly product at the same time!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fun At the Park

While the kiddos had fun at the park, can I admit that I hate it there?! With the two oldest it would be fine, but the parks around here are not built for a toddler. Slides that are too high, a merry-go-round, a climbing apparatus that entices little ones but is much too dangerous. It is not fun for mommy to constantly have to chase down a toddler in a park where the only adequate thing for him to play on is the baby swing. We need a baby park around here!


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