On Goals And Good Intentions

Goodness it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything!
We had an extra busy holiday season, with my Mother-in-Law visiting us for three weeks over Christmas & the New Year; then soon after she left all of us came down with a yucky cold, and then just as we were all starting to feel better I threw my back out last Friday and am just starting to feel better. Whew! I keep waiting for life to slow down, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to have to make it slow down, because as I wait it just keeps getting more hectic!

I have had a New Year’s Goals post running around my head since Christmas, but as things kept happening I kept not getting it posted, and now it’s almost February! In past years that would have totally stopped me, & I would have felt like a failure or like I was playing catch up for the whole year. I tend to have grand ideas and love lists and planning, but I am not so good at the follow through. If I miss a day (or in this case, weeks), I feel like I am not good enough (again) and throw in the towel, because in my dreams and planning I don’t leave margin or allow that life is going to happen! And with three children three and under, LOTS of life is happening in our house! So this year? I am giving myself grace & embracing our chaos. It is okay to be writing my New Year post three weeks late. It is okay that I haven’t implemented our new routine yet because we’ve all been sick. It’s okay that we’ve been eating meals in the living room again because my back can’t handle the dining room chairs.  Those, and a million other things that were going to be different *this* year are all okay, because tomorrow is another new day, and by the grace of God His mercies are new every morning!!
I have read a great, brand new book on getting out of survival mode (which I think I’ve been in since my oldest, Hayden, was born almost four years ago!), and I will be writing a review post soon. I have completely overhauled my homemaking notebook (which is something else I felt like a failure about until I read the book in question), and am going to post about that, along with my 2014 goals, soon as well. But I wanted to say a quick “hi”, & to hopefully encourage any others of you who have felt like me in the past-that it is okay if you are behind where you wanted to be already this year, give yourself grace and start again tomorrow! Or the next hour, or the next minute, because it is never too late to start over again!

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5 Things I Do to Save Money (That I’d Do Even If I Were Rich)

First, an apology šŸ™‚ I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for most of October. My 15 month old is getting all.four.molars. at once, & my 3 month old is fighting his first cold. Lylah can’t understand why she’s in so much pain, & Nathan can’t understand why breathing is so much harder than normal, which means I do a lot of holding my sick babies, & not a lot of anything else! But I am so priveleged to be have them to hold and it is so amazing that I have little people who seek me (me!) for comfort, so I don’t mind, most of the time. Sometimes I am ready to cry right along with them, but with God’s grace I am getting better about that.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, Matt (my husband) and I were talking the other day about how high the Power Ball was getting and how different whoever wins it’s life was going to be, and I started thinking about what I would do differently if I were rich, & what I would keep the same. So here are five things I do that save us so much money; that I would still do no matter what! (Some of these I started to save money, some because I wanted to reduce our use of chemicals, & some I just wanted to do.)

1.Cloth Diaper
I have cloth diapered our children since our 3 & 1/2 year old daughter Hayden had just turned one. (I say I cloth diaper, & not “we” cloth diaper, because the diapers Matt changes are few and far between, but that was our deal when I convinced him to try switching from disposables. Although he dunked many a poopy diaper in the toilet for me when I was so sick from morning sickness just the thought would make me sick!)
Modern cloth diapering is nothing like cloth diapering of the past, unless you want it to be. I am fortunate enough that right before Nathan was born a dear (& very generous) friend gave us all of her sons’ old diapers, which are all Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers and Green Mountain Diapers prefold diapers. For those of you who don’t know, both of these brands are top of the line diapers, & I could never have afforded them if they hadn’t been given to us. But before that I used Just Simply Baby,Ā  pocket diapers which are also high quality but much cheaper than the aforementioned brands. I used the same diapers with both girls (they were size adjustable so they could fit both girls) and while the investment was a lot of money for us (in full disclosure, I bought them with money given to us from Hayden’s first birthday) from February of 2010 to June of 2013 the broken down cost only ended up being about $2.00 a month. (And the savings were even more than that because they were used on both girls.) Pocket diapers use snaps or velcro to fasten (ours use snaps) and have a pocket in the back that you stuff with absorbent inserts. Our prefolds look like “old fashioned” cloth diapers, and you fold them around the baby and fasten with either a snappi (really cool plastic grippy thing) or diaper pins and then put a diaper cover over top. These are just the two types of diapers I use; I’m not going to go into all the different types of diapers or how to care for them in this post, if anyone is interested in knowing just exactly what we do, then please let me know and I will write a separate post! šŸ™‚ I would continue to cloth diaper our children even if we had more money because I love that there’s no waste, they can be used on all of our children at once (Hayden only wears one at night now), and according to Hayden they are much more comfortable. (I can imagine! How would you like to wear plastic underwear?). Also, I LOVE knowing that there are no chemicals against my children’s skin!

2.Make my own laundry detergent
I use a mix of a few different methods I’ve seen (and am going to do a tutorial soon, I am almost out and want to take pictures as I make more), and have only spent roughly $30 on it since October of 2011. That breaks down to only $1.25 a month! It takes about 5 minutes to make and lasts roughly a month (& I do a load of laundry every day, plus a load of diapers every other day).I have had a slight problem with our whites not getting bright white. I do not use bleach, & oxi-clean can get expensive, so I found I can use about 1/2 C of Super Washing Soda (which I always have on hand because I use it in our detergent) & 1/2 C hydrogen peroxide and soak for several hours to overnight & it really whitens things up again. I also always use white vinegar in the rinse. The vinegar helps to whiten, & also means you don’t have to use commercial fabric softener. (And none of our clothes smell like vinegar, ever!) I will always continue to make our own detergent, because I am not putting harsh dyes & chemicals onto our clothing. Plus I just love making things myself :).

3. Make my own cleaning products
There are countless recipes for cleaning products on Pinterest, (many of which I have pinned and rarely if ever used), and about as many books/ebooks (which I own several of). However, many of them call for expensive essential oils. I know that, just like cloth diapers, there is really only a “start up” cost to buying essential oils, (because you use such a small amount per recipe) but right now I cannot justify that expense when what I am doing works just as well. (Although you better believe, if we did suddenly have more expendable income eo’s are one of the first things I’d buy!) So what do I use the most? White vinegar, & baking soda (together and separately). I have a spray bottle of 50/50 white vinegar and water that I use for 99% of my cleaning. It cleans, disinfects, works on just about every surface, & is super cheap! I stock up on several gallons at a time and start to get antsy when my supply dwindles, because I use it for almost everything! Baking soda works great for scouring (mixed with a small amount of water) while being non-abrasive to surfaces (always check first though, because I would hate for you to try it on a surface type I don’t have in my home & have it scratch!), & I always have it on hand because I love to bake. Mix it with white vinegar and you have a powerful foamy cleaner that will clean your toilet or unclog your drain with almost no elbow grease from you. I love letting my three year old help me clean and knowing that nothing will be harsh to her skin if she touches it, & that no fumes will get into my children’sĀ  lungs!

4.Nurse my babies
This is one I would have done no matter what, because the health & bonding benefits for baby & mommy both are amazing. With that being said, both of my girls had formula as well, and they both are healthy, happy, & thriving, so I am not here to vilify formula, or to vilify you if you choose to/have to use it. I nursed Hayden for 7 months, while supplementing with formula here & there. However, I damaged my supply in the beginning by trying to put her on a schedule inmediately (honestly, from my experience, I urge you to please consider feeding on demand for the first few months if you can-it is more work but I have had more content babies with my second & third doing that, & plentiful milk) and by the time she was seven months my milk just wasn’t sufficient enough anymore and I switched her to full formula. With Lylah I exclusively nursed her for 5 months, (she had never even had a bottle with breastmilk in it), but when I got pregnant with Nathan my milk started drying up and I had to switch her to formula as well. So, having nursed and used formula both, I can attest that breastfeeding is infinitely less expensive! (Just in case you are wondering, I am currently exclusively nursing our three month old son Nathan on demand, & am hoping that I will not have to ever switch him to formula.)

5.Use my Kindle
You probably won’t see this last one on many “how I save money” lists, but I LOVE to read. As in, the first thing I used to do every single paycheck was buy books. Lots of them. But God has been working with me alot on being a better steward of our resources, & of our limited space. I have purged so many books that in our last move I only had 11 boxes of books. That may seem like a massive amount to some of you, but it’s less than half that I had in our move last year! I bought my Kindle two Christmases ago with a gift card, & it may be my favorite thing I have ever bought for myself. I still love holding a paper book in my hand, but there are thousands of free books for your kindle. You read that right-thousands. And they don’t take up a bit of space in our tiny apartment. *happy dance*! You don’t even need a Kindle, you can download an app for your phone or your computer, for free! Now, I do buy some books for mine, but most of my hundreds of books on there were free. You can go on Amazon and search (classic books are most prevalent), or there are a few companies that do the legwork for you! I subscribe to Inspired Reads, eReader Girl, & Free Homeschool Deals, and I get an email every day with free and discounted books listed. It is fantastic! Now all of these are Christian based sites, but if that’s not your cup of tea I’m sure a quick search on Google would give you other sites with your genre in mind! šŸ™‚

So, those are just a few of my favorite ways to save money, what are some of yours?