Nitty Gritty

Now I’m typically not one to air my dirty laundry, and particularly not our nitty laundry. But  I’m willing to share my story, because it shouldn’t be a stigma to catch head lice. Sure it’s a major hassle, but it’s a likely ordeal of parenthood.

My saga includes some sweet serendipity, which started back when I bought a old fashioned fainting couch at a neighborhood yard sale that had been on my  home wish list . Then when Hubby was leaving for his backpacking trip, he ran into the same neighbor and it turned out that her daughter was more than happy to take care of our doggy for some cash. So, then I got the call that our Big Guy caught head lice (1 of about 8 kids). When our neighbor called me back to remind that I still hadn’t picked up my chase sofa, I told her that I had simply been booked and now dealing with lice. Then a miracle happened. My neighbor called back to offer her “expert nit-picker” skills, as she could sympathize with the challenge. I was overjoyed by her gracious offer.

Now you may wonder about the connection to finances or sustainability here, and my reply is that when your quality of life is down there is simply no way to focus on either. Plus, if you’ve been diligent about washing on cold and air drying to reduce your footprint, all that effort goes out the window once you have to do a month’s worth of laundry in a few days!

There is also an intriguing connection to class-ism. Admittedly when I told Hubby, one of his first reactions was that he was surprised that so many kids in expensive child care would catch lice. Another friend told me that in her son’s t-ball team head lice had gotten out of control because none of the parents were willing to tell each other. 

I’m the first to agree that the very thought of head lice makes my scalp crawl, but it shouldn’t be taboo and we should learn how to support each other. Here are a few very helpful tips from my neighbor/guardian angel:

  • Prepare yourself, head lice never comes at a convenient time!
  • Get a good metal comb, the plastic ones do NOT work.
  • Focus your energy on combing thoroughly and repeatedly.
  • Cleaning is important, but nowhere near as important as vigilant combing.
  • Comb every day until there is nothing for 3 days in a row, then comb every few days, then every week for about a month.
  • Comb at the first the sign of suspicion. Always better to stop it early on. 

If you need some basic education, this brochure says it all simply.

Have you had to put your life on hold for head lice? 
What advice to do you have for other families?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Solo Vacations

We chose to take solo vacations this summer for a few reasons. First off Hubby had a few weeks more vacation, since I sucked up mine through maternity leave. Secondly, backpacking is something we simply can’t do together with young kids, although we are planning on a short backpacking trip together.

Hubby is gone backpacking this week in the Wallowa Mountains, mentoring through Big City Mountaineers . He is no doubt high on fresh mountain air and freedom from fatherly responsibilities.

Although I was admittedly enjoying myself at the Oregon Country Fair, I’m definitely missing him now that I’m home. I’ve been mentally counting down his return, and attempting to keep some chaordic balance. 

I naively thought that I would be super-Mama, and have the house tidy and all the to-dos tackled when he returns. B ut I got quite the surprise when our Big Guy was sent home with dreaded lice, which has been running rampant. Needless to say, I’ve washed a mountain of laundry and am ever grateful for our extra capacity energy efficient LG washer/dryer.

It’s been a lesson in patience and humbleness, and I sure hope Hubby is having more fun than me this week!  Sometimes absence does make you appreciate the abundance you take for granted.  

Do you ever take separate vacations?
How do you make them equitable and manageable?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Online Sales

Do you feel guilt about online shopping? As long as you are thoughtful about your purchases, and sticking to your family budget, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Actually, a Carnegie Mellon study showed that  online shopping uses a third less energy than traditional retail.

I’m really a fan of online shopping simply because I find shopping more stressful than soothing. I also try to be very mindful when shopping online so that I feel more satisfied than suckered into a deal.

My favorite place to shop for kids clothes is Children’s Place. Each season they discount 40%, and you can usually find all the basics for $3-5. Sales are better online and you’ll have the pick of the warehouse rather than one local retailer.

I have a few money-saving habits. 

  • Sign up for sales email from your favorite stores, set them to deliver directly into an online shopping folder so you won’t be bothered constantly.
  • Only shop seasonally as-needed.
  • Know your limits – make a list and budget before you shop and stick to it.
  • Make sure you have cash, but use credit. You’ll earned miles or cash back, plus you’ll  be reminded of how much you spent when you pay your monthly credit tab.
  • Search for promo-codes. I usually save 10-15% or get free shipping. It adds up and is worth the two minutes.

What are your favorite places to shop online?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.


I got a kick out of my recent neighborhood yard sale, and I’ve been thinking about bartering. Don’t get me wrong, cash is nice. But it sure would be nice to simply swap our stuff.

Bartering is like recycling your way to abundance: sharing what you have and received what you need.   By definition bartering is a win-win. You’re also likely build some social capital in the process.

I found some green ideas for bartering for all sorts of goods and services. Canada has a sleek online bartering site called SwapSity. I haven’t tried it yet, but U-Exchange barters in several countries!

Interestingly, I found a story about an  eco-barter  project exchanging goods and services for environmental preservation. Before you jump to judgments, let me share a brief perspective. I stayed on a small island in Fiji, and know that locals will simply go hungry without fishing for sustenance, so an exchange is necessary for survival. I find this arrangement quite different than a mitigation scheme that allows polluters “rights” to certain pollution levels.

Even though it doesn’t add to the GDP, bartering sure makes economical sense and has become popular for good reason.

Does your family barter?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Weekly Ebb and Flow

With the summer in full swing, I’m longing to unplug more often and blog less. So, my Twin Sis suggested that I take a cue from the bulk of bloggers who recap the week on Fridays. This should make easier on you, since you’ll be able to catch up on posts you’ve missed too 😉

Poop composter – Cheap steps to being a more sustainable pet owner

Yard Sale Savvy – Make the most of your next yard sale adventure

Milking It – How breastfeeding could save the planet!

Oregon Country Fairness – Creating an annual counter-culture

How was the ebb and flow of your week?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.