Friday, November 8, 2013

Socks and underwear, or something better?

So how many of us really like giving and/or receiving socks and underwear?  This quirky holiday tradition that finds stockings worldwide brimming with 'skivies' may have found its roots when there was higher need for essentials, perhaps a few less available styles, and gave many a well meaning mom to stock up her kids' drawers with unmentionables.... oh, and socks.

Last Christmas I took the opportunity to stuff my family's stockings with a general purpose ecloth.  Sure, it's pretty plain, but the reaction has been better than I could have imagined.  They are all bugging me know for a glass and polishing cloth.  A simple introduction such as a stocking stuffer won them over to chemical free cleaning.

This world has a higher need for environmental action, and the gift of ecloth lets you inject that into people's lives for an affordable price.  Your biggest decision:  which product for whom?  e-auto for dad or brother?  Stainless steel cloths for the sister who complains about fingerprints on her fridge?  A mop for mom?  A welcome home kit for the newly married or engaged couple?  A dusting wand for the OCD sister-in-law who needs to have the underside of her fridge spotless?  Or just an ecloth?  Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to find out what they hate cleaning, and to solve that with some Christmas stocking shopping!

Simple, beautiful, inspiring, and #notsocksorunderwear !

Now, what to put with it.... fair trade coffee?  beeswax candles?  a reusable shopping bag?  (I'm getting inspired already!!)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

an eco-dad's declaration of independence.....

With apologies to the real Declaration - this is worth stating, nonetheless....
July 2, 2013 (awaiting your ratification)
The unanimous Declaration of this Dad, and all personalities he may or may not exhibit, depending on the day,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one person to dissolve the commercial bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Health, Liberty and the pursuit of eco-friendliness.--That to secure these rights, Men are instituted among families, deriving their just powers from the consent of their spouses, --That whenever any Form of commercial control becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of those Dads to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new methods, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that commercial products long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that families are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Profit evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Commercial reliances, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of this Father; and such is now the necessity which constrains him to alter his former Method of Cleaning. The history of the present manufacturers of cleaning products is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute commercial reliance by these families. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
They have submitted products for our purchase that do not disclose toxic ingredients.
They have manufactured products for use in our homes that are proven carcinogens.
They have sold us numerous products that encourage us to return to purchase more.
They have developed all manner of loss-leaders to require that we come back to purchase their patent-pending refills.
They have lauded the empty benefits of disposable items in the name of convenience and cleanliness.
They have overused the terms 'New' and 'Improved' to the extent that I'm not even sure what they mean any longer..
They have endangered our families by placing some of the most risky chemicals in our homes under our kitchen sinks.
They have replaced common sense methods of cleaning with the feeling of inadequacy lest we use their most recent formula for quashing dirt and grime.
They have enticed us with empty promises of power, control, and effortless cleaning in exchange for our very understanding of cleanliness and our promise to return to purchase more.
They have convinced us that our home's smell and shine mean more than the water system we flush their chemicals down into.
They have introduced chemicals without our knowledge which disrupt normal hormone levels.
They have packaged their product in beautifully seductive shiny containers bearing the likeness of either super heroes or well-proportioned 'normal' people whom we long to solve our cleaning problems.
They have hid behind the rationale that informing consumers would reveal precious trade secrets and proprietary formulas at the expense of our health and that of the environment.
They have 'guilted' us into use their products to make our homes more clean for our CHILDREN.
They have misinformed us and let us to believe that our homes would be cleaner for longer.
They have used cutesy mascots who leap to our defense against the evils of a spilled drink or a clogged drain, a dirty floor, or a greasy counter.
They have planned obsolescence for their loss-leaders, requiring that we upgrade to their even newer and better and more effective models.
They have green-washed their products, claiming eco-friendliness in the absence of evidence thereto.
They have introduced neuro-toxins into the mainstream of household cleaning.
They have made 'anti-bacterial' the new standard for clean living despite the long term dangers of indiscriminately fighting bacteria of all kinds.
They have introduced chemicals to be 'friendly' to our children (no more tears!) that actually harm them more.
They have polluted our air, our water, our landfills, our homes, our workplaces, our public places, and yes, our bodies, so much that even the newborn baby comes pre-loaded with chemicals.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated requests for disclosure, for accurate marketing, for a cleansing of the cleaning products industry have been answered only by repeated insult and injury. An industry whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our cleaning product companies. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their markets to mislead us. We have reminded them of the circumstances by which they have harmed us and our families. We have appealed to their sense justice and conscience, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common objectives to disavow these usurpations.  They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, as Representatives of our homes and our families, do, in the Name, and by Authority of our spouses and of the good People under our roofs and those bonded in our quest, solemnly publish and declare, That we ought to be Free and Independent to pursue clean homes, our own health, and eco-friendly methods of cleaning. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to share our chemical free cleaning methods, our toxin free cleaning recipes, our allergy-friendly methods, and above all, our ability to pursue our freedom from the tyranny of the disposable, the dangerous, the unknown chemical offender.
to my family, Love Dad.
Join me in my (albeit irreverant) declaration of independence... 
Post your name or response in the comments below..

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Enjoyment washing my windows.....

Just one way I've come to love cleaning in our home - it's fast, it's easy, it saves us a tonne of money, and it's chemical free.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I'm a Dad - Here's to their Mother, and Mine!

The days leading up to mother's day - lots of preparation for gifts for mom, arrangements to go to mom's house, picking up flowers, saying 'I love you' to our moms......  Here we are again.... and it's good.

A little secret about mothers day, though.  I must say that I never really appreciated my mother as much as when I became a dad.  My mother is fantastic.  I've always known it, and I've always been appreciative (although I've not always shown it, and yes, I've taken her for granted.... and okay, I'll be honest - I'm a kid.....  I lied to her, I cheated, I made her embarrassed, I yelled at her, I did not consider her, I took advantage of her...... all in a day's work.)  But, I've always known to come around and say thank you at least once a year for the thankless job that a mother has to her children, and reveled in the marvel that my mom, like most moms, find the role of mother to be a gift.

Enter my wife.  We had 5 great years together before having children, and then waded into parenthood scared.  Who am I kidding?  We were scared, but there was no wading - we jumped in with both feet, and 6 years later, we had 4 children.  It's the night before mother's day, and we've been busy being parents and trying to hold our lives together:  work (yes, we do this too), laundry, cleaning, driving to karate / gymnastics / hockey / soccer / swimming lessons, fixing bikes, fixing beds, hanging pictures, bandaging scrapes, breaking up fights, calming fears and tears, picking up toys, yelling, making meals, packing school bags and lunches, waking, picking out clothes, etc etc etc etc.....  Life is nuts...  but a fun kind of nuts.  I'm privileged now to be looking through photos of the last year of our kids to put together the annual photo mosaic for my wife as mom and recent pics of the kids for her breakfast spot tomorrow morning.

I'm refreshed by the number of posts that are circulating the Facebook / social media / blogosphere this year that have to do with the fact that most moms are real.  They yell, they don't always like to do what they do, and yes, it is a thankless job where some days, you just can't wait to get the kids into bed (kicking and screaming), so you can try to catch your 10 pm show that you haven't watched in weeks because the kids were going to bed kicking and screaming.  BUT, it is possible to love your kids, not despite this, but BECAUSE of this.  We are broken, imperfect, just-trying-to-get-it-right parents.  And kids get it... usually.

My favourite mom?  Well, there are two.  I have always loved my mother.  I now also love my children's mom.  And you know what?  I think I love my mother even more because of my wife and who I see she is to our kids.  Being a mom is tough work - thankless work - relentless work - awesome work.  Today, she spent a good part of the day not cleaning and arranging and 'laundrying' like she wanted to (and likely  feels guilty because she hasn't).  No, she spent some frustrating hours at the kitchen table making cards for their grandmothers.  Being a kid with our kids, caring that they love and express love.....

To my Mom - Happy Mothers Day!  To my Wife - Happy Mothers Day!  I love you as my life partner, and as the mother of our children.  Mom, I love you even more because I love my wife - and now know all the more what it is to be a mom.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How do I get my husband to clean around the house? (4 ways to get him hooked)

Let's begin with true confessions here.  I don't like to clean, and it took some work for my wife to get me to clean.  And by clean, I mean by my own choice.  I've always helped out around the house, cleaning bathrooms and such, but by now you are all wondering what caused me to flip to the point where I wanted to clean.

I wasn't always this way, and many out there are asking this same question for their teens:  How do I get my teenager to clean the bathroom?  How do I get my husband to mop the floor?  How do I get my kids to wipe up in the bathroom?  I think I have the recipe to get them all 'in the mood' to clean... (it worked for me!!)

1.  Make it easy.  If the job is unappealing already (who wants to clean the sink/tub/floor?), if it seems in any way complicated, you've got a recipe for a hubby who is prone to run the other way.  Overwhelming him with multiple types of cleaners, methods, and specific tasks can be overwhelming.  Keeping the task simple will convince him that it's do-able, removing the intimidation factor.  Stick with a good microfiber cloth or two, and set him to work!  (He'll see the instant results.)

2.  Make it fast.  If the job is perceived to be a long and laborious one, it will be put off as a matter of priority, or as a lack of time.  If you demonstrate that cleaning the bathroom should take an hour, it will carry the connotation of being a monumental task.  Think of how clean your bathroom will stay if it gets a quick, yet thorough wipe each or every other day.  All it takes is 3-5 minutes to get things spotless and shiny.  Your children can have it as a part of their regular routine to grab the cloth and make sure things are wiped up when they are done.  The alternative is to offer them the huge task of a massive cleanup of two weeks of filth.  Yuck.  I'll take the quick wipe any day!!!

3.  Make it fun/ interesting.  As a family, crank the tunes, have a race or competition for cleanliness, or just rotate the jobs around.  A fun atmosphere rather than one that dwells on the negative ("Why don't  you clean the bathroom for once!!!") will invite your family into a celebration of clean.  Friends of ours put all of the tasks in a jar, and on Saturday morning, they all grabbed blindly from the jar to reveal their task.  If they didn't like the one they picked, they were able to trade with their brothers/ sisters / parents for one they preferred.  Anything to take out the mundane or drudgery.

4.  Make it rewarding.  Celebrate a clean house with a dessert, a snack, heaps of praise, or expressions of gratitude for their help.  Verbal praise is far more effective than any other form of compensation, and the knowledge that they did a good job provides motivation to do it again.  (Remember Pavlov?)

But what if they don't do a good enough job?  There are ways to increase your peace of mind.  Remember that this is a journey and they are on their way to effective cleaning slowly but surely.  Point out the ways in which they can 'up their game' next time without the judgement.  Providing an effective cleaning tool is also half the battle.  A man knows the value of a good tool versus a half-rate one.  (This was the ultimate tipping point for me!!)  Showing him the value and effectiveness of a great cloth compared to a cotton rag will enhance the 'geek' or 'cool tool' factor.  It will also have you sleeping better at night knowing that the bacteria, dirt, and griminess is locked and rinsed away.

Your kids are safe when you use a cleaning method using just water rather than the harsh chemicals.  Developing good cleaning habits at an early age will make sure that your kids won't be the adult that is needing some extra training in the house cleaning department!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cleaning technology, feminism, and gadgets

OK, a bit of a rant.  I just read the rather interesting article "Cleaning: The final feminist frontier".

The article does have some stats, has some truth, (my favourite, which I agree with BTW: "women will be the first to be judged for a messy home and the first to be commended for an orderly one").

In the end, though, the article still ends up sounding a bit sucky.  I do wonder why a feminist rant needs to yet again paint men into a filthy corner, simply underscoring the very stereotype she is trying to undo.  The author laments that she doesn't see men in cleaning ads, that the media encourages the idea that it's okay to joke about and have fun being a man and filthy, but then whines all along that men don't clean, or don't clean as well as women, or don't even like to be clean.   So now that all men who read this either feel guilty, or helpless to their gender deficiencies.  Or a roll of the eyes.

Let's get real here.  Men can and do clean.  My wife hates vacuuming, so I'm the vacuum-er.  We also know that she is more thorough than I am.  Check that - I choose to get the job done quickly where it is more difficult for her to do the same.  A cleaning chore becomes a huge can of worms that takes much longer than it would had I tackled it.  I feel great when the house is clean.  She feels great when I clean the house.  It's win-win.  But let's not forget - division of duty is not an affront to one's gender.  It's hopefully a function of actually discussing what we prefer to do, what we are good at, and what is simply practical.  It's not a gender thing - it's a personal thing.

The most interesting part of this article was the recommendation in the last paragraph from Magary, "who so emphatically declared that cleaning sucks: make cleaning more fun. He says that when the Swiffer first came on the market, it was sort of enticing. (Swiffer reps said they had no information to share with me about men and cleaning.) “We like gadgets and stuff,”  .....

Two things:  1) I shiver to think that people enjoy cleaning more with a 'gadget' like Swiffer.  Swiffer is an abomination - a cheap plastic contraption loss-leader that sucks you in to purchasing throw away products and a cycle of dependence on consumables.  (as an aside, here's an affordable eco alternative)
2) Fun and technology can happen, but let's look at a micro-technology!  I have a lot more fun seeing a cloth pick up and effortlessly lock in dirt because it saves me money and it goes twice as fast as any other method of cleaning.  Now that is fun - and it makes cleaning a job that is less overwhelming than it otherwise might be.

So, how about we stop the whining about how men don't clean, purchase some real technology like a high quality microfiber cloth, make cleaning fun by making it easy, quick, and thorough.  Perhaps the final frontier will become just that - final.  And then we can quit whining and get cleaning already.  Buy a cloth that you will both love to use, clean environmentally and economically, and join together in the necessary task of cleaning. You'll both take part, you'll both be happy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review - ebody® exfoliating body mitt

I'm a bit uneasy about using spa products.  It seems to challenge my 'manhood' in some odd way.  I recall an interesting discussion in university about whether any of the guys in our house would use a 'puff' scrubber in the shower - it just seemed a bit feminine.  Fast forward a 'few' years, an ability to be comfortable with my masculinity and I have used a number of different shower 'scrub' products.
My beef with the other mitts?
All a bit scratchy.  Flimsy.  Bits of puff or mitt falling apart over time.  Exfoliating mitts always seemed to be just a cotton mitt with some plastic-y bits on them to make if feel like they scrub and get your skin clean.
So what's so special about ebody®?
Enter the ebody® exfoliating body mitt.  Yes, I was cynical.  Another mitt to scratch my skin, right?  Wrong.  Even at first touch, the body mitt is not like others.  It is soft to the touch, and true to other ecloth® products, the secret is at the micro level.  Make no mistake, this soft mitt packs a scrub!  Using its patented micro-brush technology, the body mitt delivers a refreshing, vigorous clean not possible with other exfoliating products.  The ebody® exfoliating body mitt has overwhelmed my minimal expectations and is now a part of my regular wake-up.  The tingly clean feeling lasts long into the morning.
The best part?  No harsh soaps or substances to iritate your skin, or scratchy harsh fabric.
Do I still feel a little funny using it?  Perhaps I can't make that go away, but it's worth it!!! ;)