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They Don’t Know Better

I was walking right behind them in the school. I wasn’t eavesdropping, but they were really loud.

“She’s so annoying. Why does she even sit at our table?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because she thinks I am her best friend.”

“She’s so NOT, thought. She’s so annoying.”

They all laughed and the six of them piled on the insults, making fun of whomever that poor kid is — until they saw me listening, that is. Then they quieted down but I still fell back so I wouldn’t have to hear it anymore.

It’s 2:47 a.m. and I can’t sleep. Partially because I dozed off on the couch around 11, waking up around 1:45 a.m. It’s the guilt, however, that’s keeping me awake. I should have said something. I should have, as an adult, interrupted and told them how mean they all sounded. How wrong it is to pretend to be someone’s friend and talk and laugh about them behind their back. I should have used it as a teachable moment.

I didn’t, though. Instead, I waited until I got into the car and asked my daughter if she knew who sits with those girls at lunch. She didn’t know. She sticks with her own friends, she said, staying away from that group of kids.

And so here I am. Awake at 2:52 a.m. Thinking. Feeling bad for the girl they think is SO annoying. That child who is sitting with the wrong group, trusting them. Second guessing myself, but really, I have no idea what I could or should have said. Do you?

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Our food diary -- hopefully not to bad!

Our food diary — hopefully not to bad!

A few weeks ago Little Girl started complaining that her belly hurt. Always at night. She’s not a complainer so I took her seriously, especially after the night she cried for two hours. That Monday I called the pediatrician. When we talked to her she said she wanted us to start keeping a food diary for Little Girl and add probiotics to her diet. We’re going back to see her this afternoon.

While I am anxious to see what the cause of our tummy troubles are, I have to say: Writing a food diary for a kid is nerve-wracking and guilt-inducing. I found myself cringing as I dutifully marked down that she had been to three birthday parties between Friday and Monday, eating pizza and cake at each one. Or the fact that she had sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch two days in a row. I also found that it was a great motivator. “Little Girl, do you really want the doctor to see that you ate six Girl Scout cookies.” Apparently, she did not, and was appropriately guilty after swiping said cookies!

On the other hand, I don’t feel too bad about what my kids eat. Our list is filled with fresh, organic fruit, vegetables and healthier snacks. Sure, maybe the organic toaster pastry she ate for Friday wasn’t the BEST option, but she was running late and there wasn’t time to make her eggs.

And so I present this challenge to you: Take a piece of paper and start recording everything that goes in your kid’s mouth. Every snack, nibble, and unsanctioned cookie. Every veggie you put on their plate that ends up in their mouth. (No, you can’t count it if it doesn’t get ingested!) Every piece of chicken or chicken nugget. Just looking at your list at the end of the week may inspire you to make changes, and it will certainly be a great conversation starter for you and your kids. I know it has been for me and my family.

Have you ever kept a food diary for yourself? How about your kids? I’d like to hear about it!

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Unsteady on the Mat

There’s something in yoga called chitta vritti. Simply put, it’s mind chatter. Some call it monkey mind. As a monkey jumps from tree to tree, with chitta vritti, your thoughts move from place to place. It makes it hard to balance and stay centered in your practice. Tonight, my mind was in full-on monkey mode.

This afternoon I found out that another young mother in my town died. She left behind kids. One of the kids is a little girl who is the same age as Big Girl. I see her once a week during an activity. I cried when I got the email about her passing. I cried for her and for her daughter. This is the third relatively young person who has died from cancer over the past few months. A few others — one right down the block from me — have been recently diagnosed. I honestly think there’s something wrong down here in my little neighborhood by the water. Yes, it’s quiet, friendly and serene, but is it also harboring something sinister, too?

I have checked out my local newspaper’s interactive map that shows the incidence of breast cancer (that’s what we’re dealing with a lot down here) on Long Island. Then I clicked through to the New York State website. My town, it says, has an incidence that’s 19 to 49 percent higher than the average. The numbers, according to the accompanying text, “represent people who developed the specific type of cancer while living in that ZIP code between 2005 and 2009.” It’s 2014. I wonder what that map would look like if you factored in all the people who have been diagnosed and died over the past five years?

I thought about that when I got onto the mat tonight. My practice suffered. I fell out of tree. I couldn’t get up into Warrior 3. Even my beloved pigeon posture felt like agony. My mind racing, my heart broken for the little girl who faces growing up without a mom. I stayed with it because that’s what you do in yoga. You stay on the mat and try and quiet the chitta vritti. Ten minutes before the end of the class I realized that sometimes there’s no quieting the mind. Sometimes, you just need to face your fears.

My biggest fear is that I am putting my daughters at risk by living in our town. What happens if they are being exposed to something toxic? Something that will affect them as adults. Something that will rob their own children — my grandchildren — of their mothers? I tell my husband about my fears. He calls me crazy. I send him angry, rambling instant messages and texts teeming with curse words that reflect my fear and anger over what’s going on down here. He tells me that we are of the age where the people around us get cancer. And that we don’t know what other factors are in play. Did they smoke? Did they tan excessively? Did they work in a job where they came into contact with carcinogens? Were they just doomed by their genes?

I yell at him more at that point. (Meaning I turn my caps lock on and punctuate every sentence with a cuss.) My brother had bone cancer at 29. My grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. His own mother had uterine cancer. His grandma had colon cancer. He tells me stuff happens. Get over it. I’m crazy, he says. I’m making too much of it. And then he tells me how wonderful our neighborhood is. He expounds on our neighbors and friends. He talks about our beautiful beach club and the marina where we keep our boat. He goes on about our great schools and pretty homes. And at that point I usually get so frustrated that I call him names, close out the chat and start crying. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not doing this on a daily basis, but every time someone else dies or there’s another diagnosis we have this same conversation.

If it was up to me we would move. Far away. Even though I love my friends and neighbors. Even though I love the lifestyle. I’m not sure where, but somewhere that has a cancer incidence that is “within 15 percent of expected” or — even better — “15 to 50 percent below expected.” There are places like that even on Long Island. But marriages are a partnership and in this case, he wins. For now, at least.

I left the class tonight, walking out into the rain. I texted two friends, asking if they wanted to chip in for flowers. The wake is Friday and I want to order them tomorrow. Tonight, the chitta vritti won, just like the cancer won the battle that young mother fought so valiantly. I hope that’s the last time I’ll be ordering flowers for a wake for a long time. But I’m not hopeful.

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I was standing at the counter of my local CVS waiting to ask a contact lens solution question. (Was the generic solution I was holding comparable to the AOSept I normally buy?) A young mother was asking the pharmacist to check her daughter’s prescription. The doctor had spent a lot of time calculating the dose and she was nervous. She explained that it was for “the start of an ear infection.” When the pharmacist moved away to get a book, I swooped in. I couldn’t help it.

“You know the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using antibiotics for an emerging ear infection, right? My pediatrician follows those guidelines and takes a wait-and-see approach,” I said. The woman looked at me like I was a bug and told me that her daughter was in so much pain. “She just cries.” That’s what numbing drops and Tylenol is for, I told her. And then I gave up. I didn’t try and explain that antibiotics take 24 hours to work — and that’s if the ear infection was bacterial, which is may not be. That the antibiotics couldn’t take the pain away immediately.

Regular readers of my blog may be sick of me beating this drum. I have blogged (see this one and this one) about this issue — overuse of antibiotics — for a while now. Except now I know someone who is dealing with the fallout. It’s a kid who has a bone infection he can’t shake. He’s had several operations and multiple courses of drugs, but the bacteria, so far, is resistant to everything that medical science throws at it. Is it because we’ve been dosing our food supply (cows and pigs, for instance) with antibiotics? Is it because of doctors who give out antibiotics like they are candy? Is it simply a fluke? I don’t know, but I will take the opportunity again to remind people that, as I told that random woman at CVS, the AAP is asking doctors to take a wait-and-see approach with ear infections. They don’t want most kids with ear infections to get antibiotics.

Why not? One recent study says it best: “However, unlike other bacterial infections, the vast majority of children with [acute otitis media or ear infections] recover within a week without antibiotics. Antibiotics also have known harms and antibiotic resistance is increasing worldwide.”

You can read a simple story about the AAP’s guidelines here, but in a nutshell parents should be willing to let their children’s immune systems do a little work and try and clear the infection on their own. You can try some numbing drops or some Tylenol or Motrin if the pain is too much. Of course, it goes without saying that every child is different and you should consult with your doctor before choosing a treatment path. I’d suggest asking your doctor about the AAP’s guidelines. If they don’t know about them? I think it’s time to find a new doctor, but that’s just me.

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Sometimes I work late. Really late. Like 3 or 4 a.m. late. I like writing at night. I pay for it the next day, though. Sure, I feel tired, but I am also starving. It’s like I can’t eat enough during the day. I always thought it was a coincidence, but I recently found a study that proves it’s not in my head. In fact, there’s science behind my uptick in caloric intake. According to a recent study out of the University of Colorado at Boulder, less sleep leads to more eating — and weight gain. According to Kenneth Wright, director of Colorado University at Boulder’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory who is also the study lead, “Just getting less sleep, by itself, is not going to lead to weight gain,” Wright said. “But when people get insufficient sleep, it leads them to eat more than they actually need.”

Wright and his team set up a study that asked participants to sleep up to nine hours each night for three nights in a row. Then they split the people into two groups: “…one that spent five days with only five hours to sleep in and one that spent five days with nine hours of sleep opportunity. In both groups, participants were offered larger meals and had access to snack options throughout the day ranging from fruit and yogurt to ice cream and potato chips. After the five-day period, the groups switched.”

Anyone who was sleep deprived ended up eating a ton of after-dinner snacks, taking in about 6 percent more calories overall. Everyone, when they were tired, gained weight, say the study authors.

While it would be good to sleep eight hours a night, I know that’s not realistic for me or everyone else. The study authors didn’t provide any tips to beat the tired munchies, but I’d think that just knowing that you’re hungry because you’re tired may mean that it will be easier to skip the chips and ice cream and drink a glass of water or grab a piece of fruit instead.

Have you ever had the hunger munchies? What did you do to avoid over-eating? I’d like to know.

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Hard Work Trumps Talent

My little one's bookcase.

My little one’s bookcase.

Big Girl popped out reading — or nearly so. She was reading picture books at 2 and chapter books by the time she turned four. She was a natural reader, and I augmented her talent with flashcards and classes and lots of mommy-and-me reading time. We praised her and lauded her accomplishments. A lot, I might add. Strangers and family members reinforced our messaging. I still remember vividly the shocked look of a Macy’s cashier when — after she asked for my phone number and address for a postcard — my then-two-year-old Big Girl piped up with the entire thing, right down to the Zip code.

This wasn’t the right way to go, though. I know now that emphasizing how smart she was instead of the fact that, really, she practiced reading a lot was the wrong thing to do. By telling her she was smart, we set unrealistic expectations for her. It’s something we have been undoing for the past six to ten months. It really hurt her because she is now very critical of herself and she gets frustrated and feels stupid when she can’t get something right away. She’s also been really reticent to try anything she’s not naturally good at.

Little Girl came out running. She is smart like her sister, but since Daddy was her primary caregiver from a year until she was about 29 months she didn’t get the careful attention or mommy help that Big Girl got. (Daddy preferred the park to a structured class.) By the time I was able to teach her to read, she decided she would rather jump and swing. She also decided she just couldn’t read, saying her sister was a great reader and she was a great soccer player. I have a feeling she may have heard us say that, too.

Anyway, I am a persuasive person and I told her that no, she could read and we would make it happen. But after seeing the damage that my “you’re really smart” strategy inflicted on her sister I didn’t say she would read because she is smart. Instead, I told her that she would read because she was going to work hard and practice. Nothing worth doing comes without practice, I said. I reminded her that she already knew her letters and letter sounds. I would help her put them all together. Last spring and summer we spent at least ten minutes every day working on reading. This fall we kept up with it, learning more sight words and learning key things like silent “e” and how it covers its mouth and tells the vowel it has to be hard because E is going to stay soft. At the end of every lesson I told her that I was so proud of her practicing and working and sticking with it. That yes, it was great to be a reader, but I was more proud of the way she didn’t give up, even when she got frustrated.

The lessons worked. Today Little Girl is a reader, and a good one. This morning I woke up to her cute little face in mine. I told her to get dressed and she could watch a few minutes of TV. No, she said. “Mommy, I am going to get dressed and read this Junie B. book instead! I’m going to practice reading all by myself!” Still groggy with sleep I couldn’t help but smile. Yes, because she is finally following in her sister’s footsteps, but mostly because she’s learned the most valuable lesson I could have taught her: Practice makes perfect — and it takes a lot of practice to do anything well. I know the big one is watching and learning, too, which eases my guilt a bit about the misstep I made telling her how smart she is. She’s getting the message, too.

About a month ago she was having trouble with a math concept. This is new for Big Girl, who has up until now sailed through school without putting in much work. I told her she was going to extra help. She was horrified. She told me that people would think…and then she stopped. Think what, I asked her. “Think that you need help with something? How is that a bad thing? Everyone needs help and everyone needs to practice.” She went to extra help, and got a 91 on the test. She came home smiling. “Why did you do well,” I asked her. “Because I practiced and worked hard,” she said.

As a mother still practicing and working hard on this parenting thing, I was so proud of her and of myself for making a change that’s starting to pay off. In Junie Bs — and As.

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Some of the many options available from NatraCare.

Some of the many options available from NatraCare.

Pros: Organic cotton components. Contains no dioxide, pesticides, dyes, or other toxins; absorbent and comfortable.
Cons: Can be more expensive than traditional “bargain” brands, depending on where you buy them. Not available in most conventional grocery or drug stores.

Ever watch a husband buy period-related paraphernalia? I have, and it’s a hoot. They’re all embarrassed and weird. It’s like they want to fall through the floor. It’s not surprising. Few people want to talk periods, and almost no one wants to talk about menstrual pads and tampons. The subject is simply taboo. Even women are a little weird about the topic. We share suggestions for makeup, hair products, and creams, but few of us are giving each other tips on the best pads to buy — at least in my circles. That’s why I was excited to get an email from the Natracare company spokeswoman asking if I’d like to review a few of their products. While I have used some of the company’s product line for a while now, I haven’t tried them all. Plus, I figured it’s time for women to start looking out for each other, especially when it comes to stuff that touches mucus membranes! My review helps me do my part.

Why does your choice of monthly protection matter? Tampons and pads are classified as medical devices by the FDA, which means the manufacturers don’t have to disclose the ingredients on the packaging. And what’s inside? There’s no way to tell, but most contain dioxins — which can cause cancer — that are created during the bleaching process. There’s a great EPA report about dioxins here, but here’s an excerpt: “Studies have shown that exposure to dioxins at high enough levels may cause a number of adverse health effects, including cancer. The health effects associated with dioxins depend on a variety of factors including: the level of exposure, when someone was exposed, and for how long and how often someone is exposed.” Since women get their period for upwards of 40 years, think about how much exposure you have when — if you use tampons — you’ve got dioxin-containing material squished up inside of you for three to seven days straight!

There are other reasons to look for more natural feminine products, too. Most traditional products contain plastic, dyes, and other not-so-environmentally-friendly ingredients as well. It’s a real problem, especially for young girls and women who are looking to avoid chemicals and synthetic materials.

Anyway, I was already pretty familiar with Natracare’s Ultra Pads and Natural Panty Liners. I’ve loved them for a while because they are made of certified organic non-GMO cotton, are very comfortable, and seem to work pretty well. I never tried the pads made for overnight or heavy days, though. I was afraid that they wouldn’t work. I figured no plastic meant less protection. Well, I was absolutely wrong! I tried the Super with Wings pads on the second night of my period, which is always the heaviest day. It worked like a charm! No leakage, no mess! As someone who is used to one of the most popular mainstream pads Infinity line, I was really surprised that the Natracare offering was just as good.

The options with wings — a must-have in my book — are just as nice and easy to use as the traditional offerings out there. I also really, really liked that they are wrapped in plain white packaging. Nothing screams, “I have my period,” like a bright green or yellow packaged pad sitting in your purse. In terms of thinness: I absolutely love the Ultra Thin liners because they are longer and slightly thicker than the majority of what you can find in CVS so they are great for the first or last day of your period. Overall, there was a pad for every day of my period. Plus, when it was time to throw them away I felt good that they were biodegradable and compostable. (Although I was not putting them into my compost bin. Natural as possible and all, but that seemed a little much for me.)

The company also sent me wipes, which I tucked into my purse. My little one, especially, is constantly getting dirty. Between sticky fingers and markered-on palms (and the time she decided to draw a bracelet on her wrist!), we are constantly washing our hands. The Natracare wipes are marketed as organic cotton with organic apricot oil, camomile, and linden. They contain no parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, preservatives, or chlorine and are biodegradable and compostable, according to the company.  They smelled really good and were large enough and thick enough to wash the messiest hands. (They measure 8-inches by 7-inches.)

The main problem with both the pads and the wipes is that I have to make a trip over to either Whole Foods to get them — or order them on Amazon. Over the years I’ve kept them on hand by hitting Whole Foods and buying in bulk. Lately, however, I have been buying them on Amazon because they are cheaper. In fact, on Amazon the Ultra with wings Natracare pads actually cost less than the Always Infinity I was using ($.31 per pad as compared to $.39 per pad). The liners are about the same price.

Unfortunately, I didn’t try the tampons the company sent because I am not a tampon kinda gal. I have distributed samples to some friends and will let you all know what the consensus is when I can. Overall, I was very happy with my Natracare experience, and will be handing them to my girls in the hopefully far off future when they need them.

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Ganeydo Is in the House

A long time ago before Little Girl was born there were two imaginary friends who lived in our house, Natro and Jessica. They slept in the dining room and ate dinner at the kitchen table. They disappeared once Big Girl’s sister arrived. I assumed they were a product of age and desire. Recently, however, a new imaginary visitor arrived. His name is Ganeydo. He came from under the bed, explained Little Girl. He is her pretend friend. I was honestly a little taken aback when she told me. This is a kid who has more friends than we can handle and a sister who plays with her all the time. And yet he’s here. Ganeydo is here.

Little Girl says that he arrived when she was four. They were watching a DVD and it was scratched. Big Girl asked who scratched the video. Little Girl said Ganeydo did it. He was their enemy at first, they tell me. But then he became their friend.

Now Ganeydo shows up whenever we find something amiss. Did you <insert misdeed>. No, she tells us. It was Ganeydo. It reminds me of when I was little. My sister and I would drive my mom nuts telling her that we weren’t the ones who spilled the milk. Our imaginary friend was the one who did it. We’d laugh and laugh. I can actually remember one time where our insistence about our “friend” drove my mother over the edge. She left the table in tears.

So far, Ganeydo isn’t all that naughty, and the little one will fess up when questioned. She admits freely that she’s the one who ate the yogurt tube and stuffed its wrapper into the subwoofer, for instance. It’s sort of nice that the girls are bonding over this. One day, I know, Ganeydo will leave the house never to return. And I will be sad to see him go because it will mean a departure into a new stage. I truly love this age and stage. Little Girl is still huggy and smushy and cuddly. She still calls me Mama. She believes everything we tell her and thinks we are awesome. And her sister? That kid is a rockstar in Little Girl’s eyes. So that’s why I’m hoping Ganeydo sticks around. At least for a little while.

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A December to Remember

Another year over. One that saw my baby go off to kindergarten and those last five pounds I’ve always tried to get rid of have finally left my belly due to food poisoning. (In retrospect, I’d rather have the five pounds. Hell, I’d take ten if I could eat dairy again.)

It was a year I grew professionally and personally. For the first time since I started freelancing I took large chunks of vacation over the summer. You know what? It didn’t hurt me or my business, which reinforces the message that it’s okay to take risks. My husband started a new job in January and turned 40 in August. How did that happen? I still remember meeting him the summer he graduated high school. My big girl turned 10! After a rocky summer, she started thriving at school, making a great group of friends and enjoying all her extracurricular activities such as band and chorus. Speaking of music: I got to see one of my favorite musicians in a teeny, tiny venue. (Billy Joel at the Paramount.) And with great friends, too!

But 2013 was a year of suffering for so many friends and relatives. We lost my aunt and my cousin within the span of only five months. Made me wonder if my aunt thought she could take better care of her daughter than anyone here on earth. (Also made me renew my hatred of flu vaccines since that’s what killed my cousin. Yes, it’s rare, but yes it can happen.) Cancer hit so many people — for the first time and relapsing. While it’s nothing compared to what others have been through, I broke my finger slamming it in my front door. (Reminded me of this post.) The feeling still hasn’t returned. Overall, it was a weird, funky year. Not exactly my best, but not my worst, either.

So, as we head into 2014, I wish all of my readers a year with fewer lows and lots of highs. Happy New Year!

Soap nuts and the soap nuts bag sitting in my little soaking dish.

Soap nuts and the soap nuts bag sitting in my little soaking dish.

Pros: Inexpensive; no petro chemicals or chemicals of any kind, actually; biodegradable; hypoallergenic

Cons: Slightly messy; some prep work; no suds

A few weeks ago I posted on a Facebook thread about soap nuts. In the post I said I’ve wanted to try them for a while, but haven’t had the chance to sit down and purchase any. I got an email a little while later from Ken McGowan, the owner of Sinfully Wholesome asking if he could send me a package to try. I was thrilled and agreed. I got a package in the mail about a week ago, and have been doing my laundry with them since then.

What are soap nuts, you ask? Here’s a quick Q&A based on an email interview I did with McGowan.

KB: What are soap nuts?

McGowan: Soap nuts are not nuts at all, they are a fruit. A berry that grows on shrubs and small trees and are related the lychee –they even look a little alike. While you can eat soap nuts, they are not sweet like lychees and are used as a tonic in Chinese medicine. [When used as laundry detergent] they are de-seeded and dried in the sun and because of that they have an indefinite shelf-life.

KB: How do you use them?

McGowan: When using soap nuts in your laundry, put six soap nuts in the [included] washer bag and throw it in the wash. You can reuse the same six soap nuts for up to six loads of laundry. You can tell when they’re used up by squeezing the wet soap nuts. If soap comes out you can still use them for your laundry.

When…you’re done using them for laundry, you can boil the nuts — gently boil for 1/2 hour and then let them steep over night — and you’ll have a household cleaner you can wash your windows with (no streaks), floors, doors, dishes, cars, dogs and even your kids. There is nothing you can not wash with them. You can even make a natural shampoo with them and many of our customers do.  We even have home health care professionals who bathe their elderly patients in soap nut liquid.

KB: Are they as good as the detergent you’d buy at a store?

McGowan: Yes and no. For everyday laundry they are as good. For heavily soiled clothes you should add some baking soda or even vinegar to the wash. Cleaning aside, soap nuts have excellent anti-microbial, antifugal, and anti-louse (head lice) profiles. It kills germs! And they compare favorably against industrial cleaners for just plain cleaning power. To put it in terms Americans like: In the war on dirty clothes soap nuts are conventional weapons, while commercial detergents are nuclear weapons with all of their nasty side effects. Conventional weapons will do the job without destroying everything in their path. Including the planet. Because when you’re done with soap nuts (doing the laundry and making household cleaners etc), you put them in the compost bin and return their nutrients to the soil.

So…I tried them and I have to admit: I am a convert! The first load I did was a towel wash. I had one towel that I was supposed to spot treat. I cut and broke my index finger of my right hand. (That’s another story!) I got blood on the towel, so I assumed I would have to pretreat; I have to pretreat blood with my current detergent. I was shocked when the towel came out clean after washing with soap nuts– no pretreating necessary.

Since then I have been pleasantly surprised at how well soap nuts work! I did do a little reading before using them so I took the advice of countless bloggers who suggested those with hard water should soak them (inside their little cloth bag) in warm water before using them in the wash. I have a little cup that I fill with warm water and soak them in. Then I toss them — and the soaking water — in the wash.

Using that technique I’ve seen poster paint disappear, ground-in knee dirt vanish, and pizza stains evaporate. I haven’t done a white wash yet, so we’ll see how that goes, but I plan on using a little baking soda to give the soap nuts a little extra power. I’ll probably do the same with my gym clothes. I am not allowed to work out until my finger heals so it will be interesting to see how it tackles my post-spin class workout stuff. One quick word of warning: Since soap nuts don’t contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), they aren’t going to make suds. That threw me off for a bit. No suds? How could it work? But it did. You just have to wait for the big post-wash reveal!

And then there’s the money side of things. A 250 gram bag has enough soap nuts to fill the little cloth bag about 12 times give or take a bag or two. Each bag does about five or six washes. That’s 72 loads of laundry. Right now, that bag sells for $9.72. That’s $.13 per load. Not bad! Definitely less than a conventional product with no allergens, chemicals, or fragrances. I think I will be sticking with the stuff!

Have you ever tried soap nuts? How did it work out for you? I’d like to know.

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