15 reasons my clothes are hanging around

Spring is in the air and that means it is time to begin hanging my laundry outside to dry again.  Here are my favorite reasons for relying on my clothesline all spring, summer, and fall-long.

  1. Everything hung outside smells like fresh air and sunshine.
  2. Gets me (and often the boys with me) outside for more time.
  3. I get to enjoy early morning sounds like birds singing to start the day.
  4. More sustainable because it uses zero electricity.
  5. Saves me about 40 cents per load.
  6. Saves some wear and tear on my clothes because they don’t shed all that lint.
  7. Sheets hung to dry outside feel amazing to sleep on.
  8. Sunshine removes stains and odors from cloth diapers.
  9. Makes towels feel more absorbent.
  10. Socks are matched in the hanging process.
  11. Causes me to be more aware of the weather and when it will rain.
  12. Often gives me a chance to see my neighbor on her way to work and have a chat.
  13. Hanging clothes is a very relaxing chore for me.
  14. I quickly notice if the washing machine did not remove some dirt or stain.
  15. Hanging laundry reminds me of my grandmother.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite reason for hanging laundry inside or outside?

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NapaneeGal via Compfight cc

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Bike Trailer Time!!

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!

So, I have been waiting and waiting to be able write this post:  The weather is finally nice enough to break out the bike trailer!  I’ve mentioned before how much I love commuting to work on a bicycle, and Jen has mentioned why we love being a one-car family, so my enthusiasm for the bike trailer should come as no surprise.  This weekend, the weather in central PA was beautiful, and as if that weren’t enough, Jen took the one car on a trip to visit a friend in VA for the weekend, so if Pete and I wanted to go anywhere, we were going to have to either walk or go by bike.  (We don’t have a second child’s helmet for John yet, so it was also convenient that it was just me and Pete this weekend).

So, after working in the garden on Saturday morning and eating an early lunch, Pete and I got suited up and performed the necessary safety checks: filled the bike and trailer tires, checked for corrosion in the trailer frame over the past year, and ensured all the straps and harnesses were likewise intact.  It always takes me a little bit longer to assemble the trailer when I haven’t done it in a while, so Pete had to wait a little longer than he wanted, but he was excited to hop in and get his helmet on when the time came.  Naturally, when we headed out, our destinations were all free sources of fun: first, the giant playground, then on to the banks of the scenic Susquehanna River where we shared a snack of cookie bars (home-made, of course) and clementines (bought on sale, of course), and finally over to a smaller playground near our home.  It was a full, exciting day and it didn’t cost anything but time and snack supplies.

But wait–what about the cost of the bike trailer and the bike?  To be fair, the bike did cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s also basically my primary vehicle, and thus at least an order of magnitude cheaper than most other Americans’ primary vehicle.  The bike trailer also was not free; it cost 30 bucks.  I bought it a few years ago from a coworker who was selling it for her neighbor, and I’m pretty sure I haggled it down by 5 or 10 bucks.  Brand new, such trailers can cost at least $100-200 (much more for high-end models), and this one was in great shape (though a bit dusty from being in someone’s basement for a few years).  I have also used it (though not as often as I’d like) to carry things in addition to a child, like groceries from the store.  If I did this more often, I would make the bike and trailer investment stretch even farther, and save even more on gas and insurance.

Hopefully we’ll get that second helmet asap, and I can look forward to cruising around with the boys all summer long!

Imperfect outdoors

It was a cold but sunny Sunday in mid-February.  Although our weather forecast called for highs only in the upper 20s, when I opened the door to stand in the sun, I felt energized.

“Honey, let’s go for a walk to campus!” I said. I could pick up my supermarket inserts and we would get our 15 minutes outside and then some.

We bundled up the children and ourselves, put the littlest guy in the wagon and set off.  Pete with his sunglasses because they helped him avoid seeing our neighbors’ “scary chimney.”  Somehow with the sunglasses, it is less scary.

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But I had made a miscalculation.  It was colder than it had seemed.  The boys were not wearing mittens.  The sun went behind the clouds and the wind starting blowing.  Snow started swirling around us.  I gave Pete one of my gloves to wear, while he put the other one in his “hand pocket.”  By this point, we were closer to our destination than to home, but everyone was frigid and little guy was crying.  We urged Pete onward and began to run.

Finally, we reached the over-warmth of the library.  But the supermarket circulars and other newspaper inserts were mysteriously missing.  Dejectedly, I nursed John in the student lounge, where the comfort and warmth knocked him out into a deep, deep sleep. Going back into the wagon for the return trip would enrage him, so he would have to be carried home and I hadn’t brought a sling or other carrier.

Although I debated sending Matt back on foot to rescue me and the kids with our car, we started this ill-fated walk together, so we would finish it together as a family.  Pete was bundled into the wagon this time and John was zipped into my coat.  Once again, as we began our walk, the sun shone, only to quickly disappear as the wind and snow buffeted us cruelly. Finally, we staggered home: cold, but victorious.

But we got our 15 minutes outside!

Snowed on, but sleeping peacefully.

Snowed on, but sleeping peacefully.

This Crunchy Pooch

My husband and I are admittedly those people who treat their dog as one of their children.  But why shouldn’t we?  She has rewarded us in so many ways, by being the most amazing companion to our family and believe it or not, helping us live a more crunchy lifestyle.  As we are on a mission to live more naturally, is it possible to have a pet help you do the same?  I believe so.

Sadie is a vibrant 6 year old English Springer Spaniel, who my husband and I picked out from a litter of puppies a family member had.  (Think no dogs from a puppy mill, and if you can adopt, to obtain your pet in an even more crunchy way)  She admittedly was a little bit of a wild puppy, living with Aaron and I in a small townhouse, she chewed everything in sight.  But we were strict with training her and she turned out to be an amazing animal.  I’m convinced she’s the perfect family dog, she’s very mellow and quiet in the house, but when you get her outside, she lets loose!  Most people refer to her as a human rather than a dog, as she’d rather sit next to you, then play with other fellow members of her species.  Since the birth of our daughter she has become very protective of myself and the baby, another added bonus of free security.  So how is she helping us be crunchy?

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Sadie at Home

-Gets Us Outside

Sadie is a hunting/working breed, so it’s important for her to run and be outside when we can.  This being said, she drives us to get outside at all times of the year.  Whether it’s walking around the block, going for a hike in the woods, attending outdoor events, going swimming (she loves any body of water), and even kayaking (yes Sadie will swim along the side of our kayaks!), she keeps us active and enjoying the outdoors.  After the recent birth of our daughter, in the dead of winter, Sadie was our excuse to get out for a walk, even when it was cold, we bundled up Sophia at 2 or 3 months, put her on our chests in her Ergobaby or in her stroller, and took the dog for a walk.  Sadie makes outdoor activities all that more enjoyable.  I am so excited to see how she plays outside with our daughter Sophia when she gets older.  All these activities are obviously at little to no added cost for our family.

Sadie hiking with us at Rickett's Glenn State Park this past summer

Sadie hiking with us at Rickett’s Glenn State Park this past summer

-She “Works”

As I stated above, our pooch is that of the hunting breed.  Her original purpose was to “flush”, or push birds and other small game, out of bushes and brush while hunting, so their owners could then shoot the game freely.  Sadie, although very domesticated and very much a house dog, enjoys hunting with my husband like you wouldn’t believe.  She literally knows what  camouflage clothing means and what a gun/bow represents.  She acts like a kid at Christmas when these items appear.  That being said, she accompanies my husband hunting and instinctively assists him.  She does what she’s meant to do, my husband thoroughly enjoys her company, and sometimes they even come home with some local game.

Sadie has also gone through training to be a therapy dog.  Her breed is known for this, being able to volunteer to visit sick children, elderly, or handicapped.  Although I have yet to bring her to do so, I hope to in the future once my newborn has grown a bit.  I think it will be an important way to give back, and to teach my daughter the importance of acts of kindness and volunteering your time.

-Stress Relief

Our dog has become very intuitive over the time we’ve had her, I’m convinced she can read emotions before I can.  She always wants to be near you or touching one of us when we’re at home.  After a hard day of work, or an emotional time, Sadie is always there, quietly sitting next to you, placing her head on your lap.  Stroking her soft fur, I swear lowers my blood pressure.  When I’m upset, she literally tries to sit on top of me, give me a kiss, or nuzzle my hand.  When I was laboring at home before the birth of my daughter 3 months ago, Sadie became so upset every time I had a contraction, she was literally sitting on top of me and wouldn’t leave my side.  When I was in pain, she would whine uncontrollably.  My husband had to have his parents come pick her up when things got tougher, since she was so upset and a distraction.  The dog senses things, and tries to be there for you.  There have been numerous studies that show the health benefits of having a pet in this way.

-Free Heat Source

This sounds silly, yes, but just last night my husband commented that we didn’t need heat in our bedroom at night because we have extra blankets and…the dog.  We allow her to sleep on a blanket at the foot of our bed in the winter, and let me tell you, she keeps my feet extra toasty.  As Jennifer has posted about, we also try our best to keep our heat lower in the winter, especially at night, and the dog helps us achieve that by keeping us toasty warm.  She also is always up for a cuddle under a blanket on the couch.

Is our dog herself living a crunchy lifestyle?  Well we strive for that, but easier said then done.  Although I do purchase commercial dog food, I do so from a locally run store, rather then a big box chain, and her food is made from whole ingredients.  Everything on the label of her food are things I can pronounce and know of, in fact most are things I eat….lamb, carrots, spinach, etc.   Yes this food comes at a little bit of an extra cost, but aside from making my own dog food (something maybe I’d try in the future!), it’s the best thing available for her.  I’m willing to spend a little extra knowing my dog isn’t eating chicken beaks and sawdust (yep that’s in a lot of dog food), just as I’m willing to spend a little more on buying fresh veggies and fruit for myself.  She often eats veggies and fruit, just as we do as well.  She loves broccoli and carrots!  When Sadie has a issue, we try to cure it the same way we would for ourselves, with home remedie or naturally.  Sadie struggled with issues of what we like to call stinky butt, and rather then running to the vet every month to have it taken care of and wasting money, we experimented with her diet.  Turned out all she needed was a little extra fiber and nutrition, so every day we sprinkle a dry flaky supplement on her food, mostly comprised of seaweed and other whole ingredients and surprise, problem solved.  We also do our best to not run to the vet with her, and stretch out her grooming in order to save money, or do it ourselves. She is a small added expense, but in my mind, a well worth one.  She gives back to us much more then I could ever give to her.

Sadie & our daughter Sophia

Sadie & our daughter Sophia

Next time you are considering a pet, or a friend for your children, remember they can be a great enhancement to your natural life.  Do your research and find one that works for you.

Do you have a pet that helps you live a crunchy lifestyle, or is the pet itself crunchy?

Getting them out the door

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If I were to list the top 5 reasons I try to get my boys outside, they would be:

  1. Parenting is easier outdoors.  
  2. I feel happier and more easy-going when I spend time outside everyday. 
  3. Fresh air and exercise are good for growing bodies and help the boys sleep and eat well.
  4. So much learning happens based on the things we encounter in our yard, in our neighborhood, or out in nature.
  5. I want to raise children who enjoy being outdoors.

But, just because I know a thing is good for everyone doesn’t mean that I make it happen.  There are many factors that would deter spending time outside, like I don’t like the cold, my children have an embarrassing yen for eating sand and dirt, sometimes it is difficult to shepherd 2 mobile toddler-aged children on a walk. Nevertheless, I have a huge interest in increasing my family’s time outdoors, so one of my goals is to spend 15 minutes outside every day this year.

Before you think it is a clever idea, let me acknowledge, that I took it straight from Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids which I read last year. And before you think that 15 minutes is a terrible idea because it is too short, let me assure you that the beauty of a goal like this one is that it is small enough that it seems manageable, but once you get that 15 minutes started, you will often find yourself outside for an hour or more.

So, how am I doing with my goal?  Well, it is the coldest part of the year, but I’ve had many successful days.  We’ve been out in the snow, the rain, and the cold, cold wind.  Sometimes we’ve counted down the minutes until we can go in and other times we’ve enjoyed wonderful neighborhood walks that lasted for an hour or more.  We’ve shoveled snow together and eaten snow together and built several mini-snowmen.

Just identifying such a concrete, measurable goal has been the most important change to our amount of time spent outside because now I know what I’m trying to achieve.  But another practical effort has really made a difference.  Before starting my year-long project, I assembled a bin of all of our outdoor gear.  All of the parents’ and kids’ boots, gloves, hats, mittens, scarves, and snowpants, now reside in this bin by the back door.  Instead of hunting around in my room and digging around in the boys’ drawers when it snows or is extra cold, I can dive into this bin and we are ready, lickety split.

What have you found to make getting outdoors easier?

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