Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fabulous Finger Foods

CMOTC member Kathleen P. shares this great article she found on first finger foods. Thank you Kathleen!

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Fabulous Finger Foods

By Sally Kuzemchak, R.D.

When introducing finger food they can be a nutritious bite. Remember: cut everything into small pieces (try pea size at first), and try a few at a time. Begin with softer foods between 6-9 months, and once they get use to finger grasping you can try firmer foods at 9-12 months. Stay away from choking hazards like hot dogs, popcorn, raisins, nuts, seeds, and hard raw vegetables. And as always, consult your doctor with any questions.

Here are 50 Nutritious Delicious foods!
(Note that the below should be cut up into very small size pieces for little fingers.)
  • Small bites of cherry tomato
  • Sliced blueberries or raspberries
  • Whole-wheat rotini pasta
  • Corn niblets
  • Avocado (small cubes)
  • Whole-grain couscous
  • Small, low-sugar O shaped cereal
  • Ripe mango or papaya
  • Whole wheat french toast
  • Cooked green beans
  • Cooked (and peeled) white or sweet potato cubes
  • Chopped hard boiled egg (after 12 months)
  • Cooked zucchini or squash
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Well –cooked asparagus tips
  • Sliced grapes (chopped)
  • Mini rice cakes
  • Grilled-cheese sandwich, cut into strips or cubes
  • Brown rice
  • Ripe apricot
  • Whole grain pancakes
  • Tiny, well cooked broccoli floret pieces
  • Whole wheat macaroni & cheese
  • Kiwi
  • Well –cooked diced carrots
  • Teething biscuit or Zwieback crackers
  • Whole-grain toast with all-fruit spread
  • Fruit cocktail (slice cherries and grapes well)
  • Whole-grain waffle
  • Grated or shaved apple
  • Shredded cheese or cheese crumbles
  • Fork-smashed canned beans or chickpea or Hummus on a small tiny piece of pita
  • Graham crackers (avoid honey varieties until 12 months)
  • Ripe honeydew, cantaloupe, or watermelon (seeds removed)
  • Tofu
  • Bites of whole-grain muffin
  • Pineapple
  • Ripe peaches
  • Cooked pearl barley

Bon App├ętit!

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We also have a few other posts on this topic if you are interested in reading more:

Starter Food Advice (from CMOTC moms)

Transitioning to finger foods (favorite finger foods CMOTC moms have used)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kelly's Art Easel - Egg Carton Creepy Eyes (and pinecone spider)

This is a fun Halloween inspired project for many different age groups. I actually completed my project with my 2 year old twins and a friend’s 3 year-old.

Enjoy!

Egg Carton Creepy Eyes:

Materials:
  • Egg Carton (cardboard works best, as some paint may crack off the Styrofoam, but either will work)
  • Assorted pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic (or similar) project paint
  • Paint shirts/smocksFeathers, paper, or anything else to add to your “eyes”

I cut the egg carton to form 6 pairs of “eyes"


Next, I cut holes for the “eyes” so the kids could look through them like goggles.


Then, I set the kids loose with some paint and paint brushes. (I love using old plates to hold the paint.

They painted their “eyes”. For the age group I did it with (2 and 3 year olds), it works best if you help hold the "eyes" while they paint. But the older the child, the more they can do and the more intricate and creative they can be.

Jack made zombie eyes, I made cat eyes, and my friend Lauren made Egyptian eyes.

There are tons of possibilities as each carton makes 6, make a few pairs!


Pine Cone Spiders:

We had a bunch of left over pipe cleaners from the “creepy eyes” project, and we have lots of pine cones in our yard, so we also made this very easy and very clean project!

All you need for each spider is four pipe cleaners and a pine cone.

We wrapped a pipe cleaner around the middle of the pine cone, twisted it to hold it in place and then bent the ends to create a pair of “legs”. We then repeated that three more times to form all eight legs.

I used them to make a centerpiece, but they’d also make a great mobile or even hanging from a tree!

Happy Halloween!

If you have any suggestions or requests for future Kelly's Art Easel columns, please comment below or email (columbusmultiples@gmail.com). As well, if you have any art questions for yourself or your little ones, let me know!

~Kelly

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Potty Training Advice

This potty training advice was posted on the Multiples and More blog this week.

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Expert Interview: Janeen Hayward on Potty Training

Tackling the issue of potty-training anytime soon? Today's expert interview will give you some helpful tips! We talked with Janeen Hayward of Swellbeing, an innovative company which provides parents with support via webinars, private consultation, and discussion groups.

L: There are many websites that say children can be potty trained at early ages- even younger than 12 months of age! Do you believe this is possible?

J: Yes, I do believe this is possible though it takes an early dedication to learning a baby's potty cues and taking a baby to a potty every time they indicate that they need to eliminate.

L: What do you consider the most important signs of “readiness” for potty-training? Do they all need to be present before starting the process?

J: I really think readiness is as much about the parents as it is the child. As with all new learning, the process goes most smoothly when the message is consistent.

My approach to potty training tends to be more child-directed, meaning that I prefer the idea that you teaching a child to use the potty when they show an interest (i.e. questions about parents' toileting). I also find that noticing longer periods of dryness between diaper change is a great sign to cue in to as it reflects greater bladder control.

As important as when to try is knowing when NOT to try. If there is a big change in the family (new caregiver, new baby, new job, new home, starting school), it is best to hold off on starting potty training. One of the way children respond to stressful situations is to regress in their behavior.

L: Do you think it makes sense to try to potty train multiples at the same time, or different times?

J: Clearly every child is different, but I think it is hard to train one and not the other, unless one twin shows NO interest and runs the other way. If that were to happen, fine. What if one child is definitely ready, and another is only semi-ready? The interesting thing about siblings is that they often help one another along, and doing the training simultaneously often seems more natural and preferred. Plus, with twins, you have the risk of splitting them into "the one who is potty trained" and "the one who isn't" and it's always good to avoid labels. Sure, one will get to the finish line first, but unless there are clear reasons to avoid training them at the same time, I'm all for it!

L: Once the decision to begin training has been made, what are the next steps?

J: 1. Let your child observe mom/dad using the potty and explain what is happening

2. Purchase a comfy floor potty and books and invite your child to participate

3. Take your child for regular visits to the potty to practice

4. Keep them interested and relaxed while on the potty (deep breathing exercises, games, books, bubbles, art, etc)

5. Praise your child's efforts and their particular stage in the process (that was good sitting! or you got the peepee in the potty, great! or good job remembering to wash your hands!)

L: If potty training is not going well, at what point should a parent give up, and just try again later?

J: Whenever there feels like there is a power struggle parents need to back off. Pick it up again in a week or two, unless your child re-engages the process first.

It seems to be rather common that kids might be ready to potty train, but it’s the parents who are not ready. Is there any harm in waiting a little longer if you are not ready to undertake the process? Well, there is research to support that the longer a child is in diaper, the greater their risk for urinary tract infections in the near and long term. Additionally, unless you change a child immediately after elimination, it isn't terribly hygienic to keep them in their diapers. Moreover, the longer children are used to using diapers to eliminate, the harder it can be for them to give them up.

And, of course, there is always the cost of the diapers as well as the cost to the environment.

L: Do you recommend the use of rewards, such as treats or stickers as positive reinforcement?

J: Only if you are struggling to get the process jump-started. Internal motivation (feeling proud) is MUCH longer lasting and motivating than external rewards. That said, many families have great success using something small. What I strongly advise against is holding a present a child really wants over them as a reward for using the potty. It is manipulative and doesn't feel good to the child and often backfires.

L: Are setbacks (accidents) common once a child has been accident-free for a few weeks or months?

J: Certainly! Children often get lost in play and either forget to go to the potty or refuse to. How should parents handle these? Parents should be calm and comforting. "It's ok sweetie. Accidents happen. Let's get cleaned up and you can get back to your trains. Next time remember to use the potty when you get that potty feeling."

L: Do you have any other advice regarding potty training, that is specific to parents of multiples?

J: Be very careful not to compare them to one another. As you've liked experienced many times, one will reach a milestone before the other, but they both ultimately get there.

L: What do you think are the most common mistakes that parents make when attempting to potty-train their children?

J: They insist that children sit on the potty for lengthy periods of time, or until they produce something. This is a great way to create an aversion to the potty. The process can be lengthy for many children and it is often wrought with many frustrations twists and turns, but it is important for parents to continue to view themselves as a teacher and continue to encourage children so they don't decide to quit trying.

L: What resources would you recommend for parents who need more support and information regarding potty training?

J: swellbeing.com! We offer webinars on toilet training, as well as private consultations.

Janeen Hayward is a licensed clinical mental health counselor in the states of New York and Illinois and certified Gottman Educator. She graduated from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology with a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology. In graduate school, Janeen counseled children and adolescent survivors of sexual abuse, many of whom were teen parents. Upon graduating, she directed a training program for graduate students in clinical psychology at a grade school in Chicago, offering play therapy and group counseling to school-aged children. This is where the seeds of swellbeing were sown; the idea being the best way to help children is to help their parents. After working in that school-based program for three years, she moved to New York City and has been working with new and expecting parents on infant and toddler sleep issues and adjusting to new parenthood, ever since. She is the proud mother of a daughter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Art Project: Recycled Jar Jack O'Lanterns and Glowing Monsters Jars!

A super cool art project for making Jar Jack O'Lanterns and glowing monster jars out of used jars (spaghetti sauce, jelly, mayo, pickles, salsa, or whatever!). A great way to recycle those jars, decorate for Halloween and have a fun activity for you and your child of any age!

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Instructions and photos found at instructables.com

By kellybasinger

Recycled Jar Jack O'Lanterns!

I love to reuse my spaghetti sauce jars to create these beautiful pumpkin lights for All Hallow's Eve! You can use different size jars to make a spooktacular display!

Ingredients:
  • Glass jar
  • Orange tissue paper
  • Black construction paper
  • Green acrylic paint
  • Decoupage glue
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
Optional: other things to decorate, a hammer and nail to punch holes in the lid if you want to use the lid but light the candle inside.

Recipe:
Tear orange tissue paper and place glue in an easy to use container. You will be applying the tissue and glue with one hand and the other will be inside the jar.

If your hand is small enough, insert your non-dominant hand inside the jar and then use the other hand to coat the jar with decoupage glue. Lay the strips of orange paper over the jar. Glue and place the paper until the entire surface is covered. Go over the entire surface of the jar with one more thin layer of glue.

Allow to dry for a few hours. In the mean time, create your face with the black paper. When the orange layer is completely dry, glue the black paper on and decorate as you wish.
If you want, you can either paint the lip of the jar green for the stem or punch holes in the jar lid and paint that green. Either works fine!
When the jack o'lantern is completely dry (give it 24 hours after the last coat of glue) place a candle inside and light or place electric lights inside and plug in! Either one gives the pumpkin a lovely glow!

There are great step by step instuctions on notsoidlehands.com using this "recipe".

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Glowing Monster Jars

A variation of the Jar Jack O'Lanterns, these monsters are super fun. They can be found at notsoidlehands.com. She also included, in that post, an image of the faces which you can cut out and use.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Advice and Tips for sellers and shoppers at the upcoming CMOTC sale



CMOTC member and veteran seller and shopper, Laure J., provides really detailed and priceless advice for the successful sale of your product. If you are selling, you will benefit from reading this. She also offers some advice to shoppers, which is also worth the read!

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When the sale is over, we all want to be looking forward to receiving a nice check, not sorting through a bin filled with unsold items. Here are some suggestions from a sale veteran to maximize your check and minimize your unsold items:

1) Read the official sale guidelines.

2) Carefully inspect the items you’re thinking of selling. Don’t assume an item is in saleable condition just because your child wore or played with it a few months ago. We don’t always notice the wear and tear to items we see all the time. Make sure you have good lighting when inspecting clothing – it’s hard to see spit-up and grease stains in a dimly lit basement or guest room. Clip dangling threads that will unravel a hem or cause the loss of a button.

3) Sort items to separate unsalable items before tagging them, not after the sale. Discard or donate clothing and bedding with obvious stains, major wear, rips, broken zippers, blown-out knees, and the like. Buyers usually are willing to tolerate a certain amount of wear in play clothes, jeans, and jackets but many find it hard to overlook stains or other damage to dressy, special occasion wear.

  • Discard or donate shoes – especially ordinary play shoes – that have worn soles or heels, scuffed toes, stains, or overall soiling. Snow boots can have a bit more wear than shoes. Make sure items are clean, especially the lug soles on boots and cleats. Pin or tie shoes together (use string or cord through the eyelets or buckles; don’t just tie shoelaces together or fasten one strap to the other). It’s also OK to put shoes in plastic bags.

  • Check to see that games, puzzles, building sets, and toys that are missing essential pieces. No one wants to buy a game without enough pieces to play or a puzzle with missing pieces. If a missing piece isn’t critical, tag the item to let buyers know what is included and what is not. Did you find the charger or the case that goes with handheld toy you’re selling? After you’ve checked them, tape boxes or bags closed so pieces aren’t lost in transit or during the sale. It sounds obvious, but untaped boxes show up at every sale.

  • Check items that plug in or run on batteries to ensure they are in working condition.

  • Think twice about selling “free” and promotional items such as fast food toys and camp T-shirts – demand for these tends to be low.

  • Also think twice about anything you’re planning to tag at 50 cents. If the item is in good condition consider whether it can be combined with one or more other items and sold as a group (several onesies or t-shirts or a bag of small toys). If you’re pricing the item low because it’s worn or faded, consider donating it instead.

  • Choose similar items when combining items to package together for sale. I always wonder when I see a bag with board books and chapter books mixed together – buyers looking for books in only one of those categories are likely to pass.

4) If it’s saleable but dirty, clean it. Wipe off sticky fingerprints, dust or cobwebs from storage, and accumulated grime. Some small items can be placed in the dishwasher or washing machine. Magic eraser type cleaners are great at removing marks from plastic toys to give them that like-new look. Buyers are especially sensitive to dirt on feeding related items (e.g., high chairs, boosters, and bottles), diaper pails, potty gear, and infant toys.

5) Price your items in view of condition, quality, demand – and the all-important “Do I ever want to see this again?”

  • Condition and quality are easy. Items in better condition will sell for more than items that are worn, faded – or just not as clean as the item next to it; items that are or are perceived to be of high quality will sell for more than items of lower quality.
    * Name brands such as Nike, Gymboree, Hanna Andersson, and Justice usually sell for better prices than medium-range brands (e.g., Kohl’s, Sears, and JCPenney) which in turn sell for better prices than discount brands. If you have a boutique brand item that might not be readily recognized, consider attaching a catalog or internet description with price.
    * If you have space, save the boxes from item that require assembly, are floppy (such as infant carriers), or have a lot of pieces and repackage these items at sale time. Boxes help buyers to see what the item looks like and make it feel more like new. If you don’t have the box, consider attaching a photo or a picture from a catalog.
    * Attach directions, accessories, and spare parts if you have them to make items feel more like new and make buyers more confident that they can build or operate the item they are buying.
    * If you have a pricey item such as a Pottery Barn furniture piece or high-end stroller, consider attaching a catalog description or Internet printout that shows the price of a new item to help buyers appreciate the great deal they’d be getting by buying your item.
  • Supply and demand, generally and at sales like ours, affect the price buyers are willing to pay. Here are some factors to consider:
    * Demand for Infant clothing in small sizes is generally lower than for larger sizes (e.g., 9 months and up) – small sizes often are received as gifts and are not worn long enough to show wear. Price onesies, stretchy sleepers and other everyday wear low if you want them to sell – buyers will have lots of these to choose from. On the other end of the spectrum, teen girl clothing can be hard to sell than smaller sizes because many girls this age like to choose their own clothes but won’t be at the sale. Unless you’re selling the most popular brands, consider pricing these items a bit lower than clothing for elementary school-aged children.
    * Shirts with college, pro sports, or musical groups logos are popular but demand for other school and team shirts and souvenir shirts is low. Unless your child is a pro soccer player, there won’t be much interest in his or her team shirts. Ditto the shirt grandma brought your child from Myrtle Beach. If you decide to sell these, price them low. Better yet, donate them.
    * Shoes are trickier to fit than t-shirts and PJs so buyers tend to look for bargains here, if they look at all. Even reasonably priced new shoes sometimes remain unsold. Price shoes low unless you want to see them in your unsold pile.
    * Bedding ensembles generally don’t sell well. Expectant moms often are looking for a particular pattern or theme, it can be hard to appreciate what an ensemble looks like when it’s bundled together or stuffed into a bag, and bedding can be awkward to carry if the buyer has more shopping to do. Tape a photo of your nursery or a picture cut from a catalog to the bag to help buyers visualize what the bedding looks like. An attractive price can motivate a buyer to lug that bundle.
    * Fewer and fewer families have VHS tape players and many of our members still have large collections of tapes to sell. Buyers will have a huge selection of VHS tapes to choose from. Price them low if you want buyers to choose yours.
    * There will be many copies of the “standard” pregnancy and parenting books for sale. Price them low so buyers choose yours.
    * Items in high demand can command a better price. Large items like climbing structures, tricycles, wagons, and strollers almost always sell well. Clothing items that sell well include jeans and play pants in good condition (especially boys), outerwear, OSU items, holiday/party dresses, name- brand outfits, PJs in the fall, and swimsuits in the spring. Building sets such as Legos, K’Nex, and Lincoln Logs, quality infant toys, and preschool DVDs are great sellers.

  • If you’re selling items that you absolutely will NOT be taking home, try to price them at or under what other sellers will be charging. Consider printing out some extra tags for the higher dollar items so you can adjust your prices during set-out or if the items do not sell Friday evening. Prices can be changed only by swapping one preprinted tag for another – the bar code scanners can’t recognize handwritten markdowns.

6) Tagging:

  • Everyone has a different strategy for entering tags. Some bring a bin of items to the computer (or take a laptop to the bin) and enter each item individually. Some enter tags based on a list. I think it’s faster to handle most items only when affixing the printed tags so I create “generic” tags at several price points in each category I’m working on. For example, if I’m tagging boys play clothes I know I’ll price most of them between $1 and $3 so I'll select boys clothing as the category, type in CLOTHING as the description, and then print a dozen (or two) tags at $1, $2 and $3. I remove an item from my bin, decide which price tag I’ll use, mark the size on the tag by hand, affix the tag to the item, and more it to the tagged items bin. I make a special tag for any item I want to price at an amount that’s not on my generic tags.

  • School-age kids can help by cutting tags. Or put a few sheets in the car with a pair of scissors for school car line or waiting during after-school lessons or sports practices.

  • Print tags early. Access to the tagging site generally is cut off at midnight the day before the sale.

  • Print some extra tags for items you remember at the last minute or it you decide to change any prices.

7) Organizing items for set-out:

  • Organize clothing items by size and by gender. This allows you to pick up a stack and go down a row of sale table, putting size 8 boys shirts on one table, size 10 shirts on the next, and size 12 shirts on the one after that. I put one piece items and PJs in separate stacks from shirts and tops because these are usually located on the opposite ends of the tables from tops and it’s easier to go straight down the other end of the tables to drop of PJs than to walk between the tables. For bigger items I separate sizes by alternating the direction of the clothes in the stack (e.g., for one size I stack with the fold toward me and for the next I stack with the fold to one side), for smaller items I use plastic bags to keep items separate.
  • Keep special category items (Jack & Jill outfits, sports logo items, Halloween costumes) separate from regular clothing.

  • Organize non-clothing items by category – board games with board games, infant toys with infant toys. I use plastic bags to separate categories if needed.

  • Organize special category items

8) Setting out:

  • If you arrive early, stage your items along a hallway wall as space permits until the sale area is ready. Don’t block doors or aisles.

  • Set out your own items or arrange for a friend to help. Don’t dump and run. “Dumped” items will be moved aside (for example, under a sale table) and could remain there for the entire sale if no one else has time to set them out.

  • Set out your largest items first. This clears hallway space for those arriving later and helps the sale committee and set-out assistants adjust the space needed for various categories of items.

  • Put items in the appropriate space. Wooden trains are more likely to sell if they’re in the area marked “trains” rather than tossed on the first table you or your helper(s) pass. If you’re not sure, ask a set-out assistant.

  • Check for tagless items as you set out your items.

  • Larger items such as Lego and train tables are sometimes placed at the end of the regular sale tables. Set your items on the sale table, not an item another member is trying to sell.

  • Bring a dolly or hand cart if you have one. Tape one of your sale tags to the frame to make it easy to track down if you let someone else use it.

  • Tuck a “seller’s emergency kit” in your vehicle just in case – extra preprinted tags, tape, pins, a pen or marker, and anything else you might need.

  • Leave at least one large bin with your sale number marked on it (for sorting unsold times on Saturday) in the area designated.

9) Shopping:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and a lightweight shirt. The sale rooms get hot no matter what the weather. Leave your coat in the car. If you can live without a purse, leave it in the car too and stock your pockets with tissues, lip balm, a check or two, and some cash.

  • Bring a large shopping bag. If you’re pretty sure you want an item, add it to your bag. You won’t be able to find it later if you pass it by and then change your mind. If you do change your mind, please return the item to the area where you found it promptly so it’s available for purchase by others. Don’t leave a pile of rejected items for another member to clean up.

  • Bring a tape measure if you have a hard-to-fit child. Forgot your tape measure and want to measure something? A dollar bill is about 6 inches long.

  • Head for the items on your list that are in high demand, for example, big ticket items and building kits. It’s fair game to scope out what others are setting out while you’re setting out your items but it’s not fair more or hide items you’re interested in.

  • If your budget permits and you see a great deal, don’t be a afraid to buy ahead. A child wearing size 4 jeans will almost certainly need size 6 jeans someday – probably sooner than you think. Stock up and save.

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Thank you Laurie!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Column: Amanda's Saving Money the Homemade Way

We are very excited to announce yet another great monthly column addition to the blog: Amanda's Saving Money the Homemade Way. In these monthly posts, Amanda B. (one of our own CMOTC moms) will share with us homemade cleaners, recipes, children's items and more! Saving money, going green, healthier product for your family... it's all good! Thank you Amanda!

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As a stay-at-home mom with 4 children, a husband (who I consider a 5th child sometimes! ha!), a dog and two cats, life gets crazy as it does for everyone. We are a one income family so money is always short. I frequently look for ways to save money, be more economical and even a little more earth friendly. I do just about all baking from scratch and most of my basic cooking as well (though I am like anyone else and buy my share of frozen chicken nuggets, pizzas and such!). I find if I keep a few basic ingredients on hand, I always have what I need to whip up some pretty yummy treats! I feel this in itself saves a lot of money off my grocery bill. For example, I no longer buy brownie mixes, cookie mixes, pancake mix, Bisquick, pre-made rolls or pizza dough. I always have what I need on hand to make them! I have also been looking for other things I can make myself to save money and reduce my dependency on expensive store bought items. For this reason, I will occasionally post here on topics involving making homemade items. Today, I want to tell you about my most recent discovery!

I recently attended a women's night at my church. One woman did a demonstration on homemade laundry detergent. I had heard of it before, but was never really interested- I figured it would be too time consuming or difficult, not cost efficient or not work as well as store bought laundry detergent. I was shocked at how easy and incredibly cheap it is! And, it works at least as well as my regular laundry detergent! Here is how to make it:

Ingredients needed:
  • Borax

  • Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (NOT Baking soda- there is a slight chemical difference...)

  • Soap- either Ivory or Fells Naptha
  • and a large bucket with lid.

To make:

Grate 1 bar of Ivory Soap or 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap into a small saucepan. Add 6 cups of water and heat until soap is melted. Add 1/2 cup EACH of the Borax and Washing soda to saucepan and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and add 4 cups of HOT water to your bucket. Add soap mixture and stir. (I find one of the large paint stir sticks you get for free at the hardware store works great for stirring it!). Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups water and stir. Put the lid on it and let it sit for 24 hours and it will gel. Before using, stir. It will be sort of semi-gelled and gloppy- this is normal! Use 1/2 cup per load just as you would use your regular detergent! The whole process took about 5-10 minutes to make it!

This will work well for high efficiency as well as normal washers. It is low sudsing- in fact, you will find it doesn't really make any suds. That is okay! It isn't the bubbles that cleans your clothes- it is the components involved!

For step by step instructions with pictures, refer to the post on my personal blog here.

Other than the soap, it is unscented, but if you wanted you could add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to scent it.

Now, I am sure you have two questions: how well does it work in comparison AND is it really cheaper?

I find it works just as well as my regular detergent. I do still pre-treat stains as usual and between pre-treating and washing the stains come out as they did before.

So... Let's talk money. Is it really worth it?? You be the judge.....

With a family of 6, I find I do about 12-13 loads a week. I would usually buy one of those large vats of laundry detergent from Sam's Club for $20 that would last for about a month- sometimes a little longer. I figure I was spending at least $200/year on laundry detergent.

For the above homemade version- here is the cost layout:

The box of Borax costs approximately $4. The Washing Soda was about $2.50. The bar of soap, less than a dollar. Using only a 1/2 cup of the Borax and Soda with the soap, it costs about 75 cents to make the whole recipe which makes about 2 gallons! It will do about 64 loads at 1/2 cup per load. That works out to about 1 cent per load!!! (note- I found both at Kroger, I have also heard Meijer has them. I did not find them at Walmart. One person said she found the borax and Walmart but not the soda. You can find them in the laundry detergent aisles of the store.)

My total investment between the soap, borax, soda and my bucket was about $10. Other than buying more soap, the borax and soda will last about a year! So, for about one cent per load, or about $10-$15 a YEAR, I can do my own laundry detergent! That is a HUGE savings from $200/year! And, as I said, it only takes 5-10 min to make a batch! So, even the busiest among us could pull that off.

Want to add to that savings? Would you like money saving fabric softener alternatives? Did you know that dryer sheets are made from petroleum by-products (as are many things we use)?

Here are a couple options:

  1. Vinegar! Use 1/2 cup vinegar in your rinse cycle and your clothes will be very soft and your towels so much more absorbent! And no, it won't make your clothes smell like vinegar. Combined with the above detergent, your clothes will be unscented. If you would like a scent, I know a friend of mine uses "dryer pillow sheets" that she bought of someone on etsy.com. You just need to be cautious not to use vinegar EVERY time because over time, it can break down elastics. But, the effect of the vinegar should last a while. A large jug of vinegar costs about $2!
  2. You can also get a small bucket. Buy a small jug of downy and pour into bucket. Refill the downy jug with water twice, and dump into bucket. Add a couple cheep sponges. When you put your clothes in the dryer, squeeze out a downy filled sponge and toss into dryer. Your clothes will smell great and be soft! However, the trick with this one is that it doesn't work well with whites- it can dull the whiteness. But, it works great on colors!

Good luck in trying these out! Look for future posts on homemade cooking topics, homemade cleaners and even making your own hair bows for your little girls and more!! You can learn along with me as I am learning that we do NOT have to do as we have been told by the commercials- we do not need all these expensive, prepacked Earth damaging products!

If you have any questions or have some helpful tips yourself on homemade laundry soap, please send me an email or comment below.

~Amanda

Sunday, October 3, 2010

CEDAR POINT Trips and Tips



Despite the weather today, it's not too late to hit up Cedar Point!  Their HalloWeekends are a blast and quite child friendly during the day.  Below are some tips from fellow multiple moms.  Most are aimed at Summer trips but don't forget CP is open for a few more weekends of chilly fun!


Hi. CP is huge...I mean really big (maybe twice the size of KI) so it is hard to do everything in 1 day. We have been to Soak City and it is very fun...lots to do the boys will be entertained there all day (or as long as you are there). There is a 0 entry at the splash pad (big bucket) and also another area where there is sand for the kids to play with (may be good for Claire). The park has 2 kids area...1 in front part of park, other is back of park - the boys will enjoy more rides in the back of the park (you can also park around back and go in back entrance - it is same parking lot as water park.
We have stayed at Cedar Point hotel - Castaway Bay - and it is very nice...has a restaurant inside and also a nice indoor water park (very, very fun). And it is part of your stay to go to the water park. They have 1-2 restaurants on site that are good (normal) but very nice and convenient and the hotel room was really nice. I think they have transportation to the park...but not sure. We didnt use it when we were there. The hotel I am referring to is not beside the park, but on other side of causeway....http://www.castawaybay.com/
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You will have lots of fun!!! The kids love it there. They also do a great job during Halloween and it is fun for the kids (and a little cooler) we do that every year.
We have 10yr. old twins and a 6yr. old. And have been going to cedar point for years.  Not sure how much time you want to spend…we always go up on Friday and  go to the park Friday evening.  We spend the night and go to the park first thing in the am(and spend all day) on Saturday also.  Cedar point has great package deals too.  The cabins at lighthouse point are very nice with a separate bedroom and a loft area that the kids think is a great adventure area for sleeping.  They have a shuttle also to take all the exhausted people from the park to the campground/lighthouse point area.  We have never done soak city as we always go for the “halloweekends”  it is usually a little cooler and a little less crowded.  Young ones will have a great time too as they have great areas devoted to the very little ones as well.
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We LOVE Cedar Point. It's great for kids. Have not tried Soak City yet - it's an additional expense and there is always so much to do in the amusement park. Last summer we stayed at the Hotel Breakers - so overpriced for what it is ... a very small, dated hotel room - but you can't beat the location! We got twilight passes included with our stay, not sure if they still have that promotion. It's got a great beach and indoor/outdoor swimming pools. Nice little weekend getaway for us.
 
Height makes a big difference as 48" is the magic number. Given their age, I think you will spend most of your time in Kiddie Kingdom, Camp Snoopy and Planet Snoopy. Family rides include paddle boat, sky box, train (can do entire loop, or get off halfway around - w/ strollers being left at the depot we usually go all the way around).
 
Even if your twins aren't used to being in a stroller or wagon, I highly recommend renting them. I know for a double + single it's only $26 for the day. Stroller rental is just inside the gates to the far right side. It's a lot of walking and even though there's a nice breeze from the water it can still be really hot on the blacktop. Hopefully your little one can manage a nap in the stroller or wagon - you'll see kids crashed out all over the place! Also - the beauty of staying at Hotel Breakers would be to walk back to your room for a real nap.
 
If you enjoy roller coasters, esp. if your boys are 46 or 48 inches +, get a Parent Swap pass at the park operations office in Kiddie Kingdom. This means that only 1 parent needs to stand in long lines, then the other parent can go through the exit and get right on w/o waiting after the first parent rides. This is particularly handy when going w/ other families, we don't use it much when it's just us. I can handle the kids by myself while my husband rides some of the crazy ones!
 
Several times in my life, including when our trio was 2 years old (free), I've had a season pass to Cedar Point. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do - feel free to ask any other questions or specifics - I'm happy to help!
 

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