Archive | Just for Dad

DIY Toothpaste & Oil Pulling

You know those moments in your life where you try something new and think “why haven’t I been doing this for years?” Well that’s going to happen after you try making your own toothpaste and oil pulling. There are lots of homemade toothpaste recipes on the Internet but recently I saw a post from Homestead Wannabes and the frothy finished result encouraged me to whip up a batch! It’s been slightly modified which you need to do in the essential oil world…it’s very difficult to source food grade essential oils which kept me back from making my own toothpaste for quite a while. I didn’t want to order expensive oils online when I didn’t know what the result would be.  But when I purchased organic vanilla for baking recently,  I noticed a peppermint flavor in the baking section with only two ingredients: organic sunflower oil and organic peppermint oil so I purchased a bottle to flavor my toothpaste. This recipe combined with oil pulling made my teeth feel very slippery and clean – much more than using traditional toothpaste or store bought organic brands.

Homemade Toothpaste Recipe modified from Homestead Wannabes:

Ingredients:

4 tsp Bronners liquid peppermint
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp xylitol
1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavor

Directions:

Boil water and add 2 tablespoons into a blender. Add Bronners, coconut oil, xylitol, and peppermint flavour and blend until frothy (few minutes). Store in air tight container.

So there you have a very easy homemade toothpaste recipe. Kids will not mind the taste of this recipe and the cost savings is monster. I can’t tell you how happy I am to not purchase $6-7 organic toothpaste brands on a regular basis anymore. Why do I insist on organic toothpaste for the kids? Two years ago I pulled all fluoride from their dental routine. You can read why here.  And since it’s been two years I can address the issue parents and grandparents worry about the most with not giving kids fluoride – do we experience more cavities? We have seen a decrease in cavities so for our family – there is not a link with tooth wellness and fluoride for us. And if we got into a routine of flossing I think we could have near perfect success at our routine appointments.

Now I can talk about my own dental health. It’s not great because I didn’t have a cavity before starting to have kids in my late 20s. So for the past 10 years I really had a false sense that not going to the dentist I would be okay. Well that’s not the case..I have cavities and a root canal that need to be looked at. But before I re-book my appointment to talk to a dentist – I’m going to spend a few months trying restorative measures with my own teeth and oil pulling is something that really interests me. ** And I’d like to thank my friend Susan for posting oil pulling information to the Mommy Footprint Fan Page – it has been very encouraging!! **  Here are some benefits of oil pulling in my own words and I’ve also linked to a Dr. Mercola video that goes into more depth.

Oil pulling with sunflower or coconut oil changes the PH balance in your mouth and bacteria prefers an acid environment, therefore minimizing tooth decay..
Oil pulling with coconut oil seems to have the most health benefits and helps fight cavities and gingivitis – sunflower or sesame oil is also used for oil pulling but it increases your Omega-6 oils which isn’t needed.
Coconut oil also helps heart health, skin, and gut health.
Oil pulling limits germs that cause plaque accumulation and tooth decay before they spread through your bloodstream to the rest of your body.

How do you oil pull?  It makes me wish it was called oil swishing or something less mysterious than ‘pulling’ because it’s SO EASY!  And it’s not gross tasting either…a very easy process. You take a tablespoon (or less to start) of compressed, unrefined coconut oil and put it inside your mouth. I keep mine stored in my cheek until it melts. Then you start ‘pulling’ or swishing the liquid (combined with your saliva) through your mouth. I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned the floor while oil pulling (do anything that doesn’t require talking) for approx. 20 mins. I was worried about gagging on the oil but it was not an issue. It’s important not to swallow the oil  just keep swishing it around until you are ready to spit. When it’s sufficiently ‘pulled’ the oil will appear a milky white and should be spat into the toilet or garbage. I’m finding with using so many personal care recipes that contain coconut oil, my bathroom sink is getting plugged quite often so better not to cause further blockage by spitting in the sink.

Making your own toothpaste and oil pulling are two personal care products that really live up to the hype of DIY!  I will make another homemade toothpaste recipe that contains baking soda now that I have the main ingredients on hand and will post back. But the frothy recipe within this article is a fantastic introduction to DIY toothpaste because of the great taste! And that’s important when introducing to kids.  And I’m excited to see how long the frothy texture lasts so I can take a batch to my dentist. He totally supports all my requests to only x-ray if needed (not routinely), not to give the kids fluoride treatments, discussions on dental sealant and cavities. And when I mentioned that I’d be trying to make my own recipe he thought it was very cool!  Nothing like finding holistic support in the middle of a traditional pediatric dentist office that give me the support to feel like I’m making the right decisions with dental care for my kids.

To read all the articles on my journey to more holistic dental care for my family – check out:

Holistic Dentistry & Mercury

Holistic Dentistry & Greener Toothbrushes

Xylitol and Natural Dental Care

 

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Teachers Gifts for Christmas

Every year I put a lot of thought into teacher’s gifts. Why? How else do you thank a person that takes care of your children for the majority of the year? All teachers have strengths and impact our children in more ways than just teaching them abcs. Here are the gifts that are going out my door this week for the special teachers in my children’s lives. Not pictured are gift cards that we’ve already done thoughtful gifts for over the last few years. My favourite thing is to get a number of parents together and collect for a group gift. Even if everyone contributes $10 – you quickly get past the $100 mark and can get them something substantial. This means there is much less waste with little knick knack gifts that they don’t really need. Baking from the kitchen and homemade cards are also special.

Practical:

I think green minded people love practical gifts and most teachers are environmentally focused in their own lives which I love!  If you want to incorporate the symbolic apple in your gift to a favorite teacher – pickup this apple parer, slicer, and corer from Lee Valley Tools. It has a suction base and both kids & adults love using this machine.

Here is how the machine works.

Talk about making apple sauce a snap! You take an apple, place in on the prongs of the machine, turn the handle and are left with apple rings that can be baked, eaten right away, or made into apple sauce/pie filling/desserts, etc. All teachers would love this gift!  And include a jar of apple sauce with the machine with a custom mason jar lid insert for a special touch! The options with a gift like this are practical and endless. Thank you to Lee Valley Tools for working together on this gift idea!

Personalized:

This gift takes a bit of time to coordinate because it’s personalized. We’ve ordered necklaces before from Moo and the Bear Jewelry and although her store is closed for the holidays – you’ll want to bookmark her Fan Page on Facebook for next Mother’s Day or end of year teacher’s gifts. I love the necklace for my girls’ teacher made by Moo and the Bear owner Eleanor this year – thank you so much!

Group Gift:

No it’s not too late – trust me on this one. We’ve been at home with snow days and sick kid days all week so I still haven’t collected contributions to teacher’s gifts yet. But it always comes together – even if it’s last minute. Gift cards that capture an interest in the teachers’ life are perfect. If you don’t know the teacher well enough to know their interests – ask other teachers or the principal. . . they will love to help you!

 

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Talk Body Science Before Heading Back To School

Not something you expected to be covered in a back-to-school series, but I’ve been thinking of ways to talk more openly about sex with my kids over the summer with new questions arriving and finding I didn’t have the answers I wanted or the right words in that moment. Funny how you can be so close to your children and get to the point of discussions about your body, sex, body parts, etc. and not be able to communicate properly. Something that surprised me because I’m very comfortable talking about most things with my kids. After checking out Meg Hickling’s book called Boys, Girls, & Body Science and also her SUPER helpful DVD where you watch Meg give her presentation about body science to parents/teachers and then a difference presentation to children – I learned a different approach that I honestly wish I had learned 7 years ago when my oldest started preschool. Because as Meg says multiple times, preschool aged children are the easiest to discuss these topics with and I totally agree. If you tackle the topic of sex and stick to treating it like body science, rather than an uncomfortable topic….you are on the path to open, honest, and must easier dialogue with your children.

 

What has taken me so long to initiate more conversations on this topic? My children don’t get sex education in their school, unlike most of their peers, which is really too bad. A lot of parents I’ve talked with rely on their children receiving sex education at school, because the topic has been avoided at home. After learning my body science from Meg, even if you’re children do get the talk at school, you should be asking questions and keeping the dialogue open. I was really surprised to learn that children as young as Grade 2 and 3 can start having nocturnal emissions or start menstrual cycle. If you are like me and will be handling sex education at home, I urge you to check out Meg’s lecture & books via your library or the websites listed at the bottom of this article. She empowers you with the ability to find the words to properly express body science. Do you still think children of a certain age are ‘too young’ to learn about body science?  Here are some facts I learned from Meg that convinced me that younger children are ready and a great audience for sex education:

– sexual abusers admit that they target children that are uneducated about body parts because it proves a gap in communication between child and parent increasing the chances of abusers not being ‘told on’ .

– children as young as 7 years old can experience a period (girls & scientific name menstruation) or wet dream (boys although the scientific name is nocturnal emission) and worry that something is wrong with them.

– dispel myths that friends or cousins have taught the child. If they aren’t learning body science at home or school…where do you think they are getting information?

– give children the opportunity to understand mechanical curiosity.

– whoever says ‘no’ rules.

What is my recommendation on speaking about sex? Gather a group of like-minded moms together and order the DVD as a group. It’s a really great launching pad and I’ll be sharing my copy with many of my friends who have expressed discomfort. Having a copy of the DVD among a few families is cost effective and a great resource.  The relief you feel at understanding this can be explained as ‘science’ is really liberating and the stories and tips from Meg with have you laughing out loud wondering what the big deal is! And why you weren’t saying “the penis goes into the vagina to deliver the sperm to the ovum” from the time your kids were in preschool. And if you are like me and all your children are older than preschool, don’t worry – there are many chapters in the book “Speaking of Sex Book” that can help with speaking to older children. Meg gives you the body science tools to initiate body science discussions with kids of all ages and I’m already thinking of questions I can ask my kids to test their body science. The only people experiencing discomfort are adults and when you are given the tools to provide factual information with easy-to-understand words, the discussions get so much easier!

To find a copy of the book called Boys, Girls & Body Science you can simply click here or it’s available in many bookstores across Canada via www.chapters.indigo.ca, www.amazon.ca and via the website www.harbourpublishing.com

Meg Hickling on DVD, The New Speaking of Sex can be found by clicking here or visiting www.woodlakebooks.com

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Summer Activity ‘To Do’ List

With the end of our school year coming to a close, I thought there might be other parents experiencing anxiety about the upcoming summer months. This is what I’ve gone through with having four kids very close in age at the end of June and the best way to calm myself is to make a summer ‘to do’ list with the kids. After making these lists as a family – I find myself less stressed about keeping 4 busy kids (that have very different personalities) happy during July and August.  First you need to decide that it’s going to be the best summer ever!

Great summer vacations don’t mean expensive!

No matter what vacation plans, camp, or classes you have planned for your children, you control your own destiny during the summer months. Decide that it’s going to be the best summer yet and include lots of budget friendly, free activities. Heading into a forest, hiking, swimming at the beach, exploring, bike riding, organizing a park day to play soccer or games is free. We all know kids are happy doing anything with friends so spread the word to other parents on the last day of school to organize some ‘meet ups’ over the summer. I haven’t booked my kids in a single class this summer.  Normally I have a few things lined up but we are taking things as they come this year. I love trying new things with the kids during the summer so tennis, circus school or horseback riding lessons were a re-occurring request from all my kids so worth researching for lessons.

Here is what our lists looks like this year!

Get something accomplished!

Families are busy during the school year. Our kids are in school, sports, attending birthday parties during the school year. Take advantage of some down time over the summer months and cross something off your own ‘to do’ list while you’re spending more time at home. A few of theses items on my own list are get to the dermatologist, dentist, and de-clutter clothes and old toys.

Mix Things Up!

On our summer list each family member (including mom and dad) got to pick 4 main activities/vacation dream/events they would like to accomplish this summer. We put down whatever pops into the kids’ heads but they understand that the request to Disneyland (for example) is only a wish — not a guaranteed vacation. We’ve never left the Province of BC with our kids, opting for local vacations each summer. All the kids want to go to Disneyland or Whistler. I really want to travel to Tofino and watch the whales jump in the ocean. It’s something I’ve always wanted to see, but after seeing the young Humpback that died on a local beach this month (read here) I really want to show my children how they can be healthy and thriving in our BC oceans and teach them the importance of keeping our oceans healthy for these beautiful animals. Another dream on my list is to go on a farm-cation. No I don’t think working on a farm is a vacation – but I’d love the experience with my family of seeing all the hard work behind a farm to gain more appreciation for such an under appreciated profession. Hopefully that is changing as we’ve learned the value of farming and supporting local food this year.

So we have ‘dream’ items on the list but also activities that are easy for me to make happen – visiting an outdoor pool, visiting a farm, picking berries, etc.  This also helps me throughout the summer when I’m feeling frazzled and need to take the kids out. I’ll remember to take them to the local pottery store, pick fresh berries, visit a local farm to see the animals, go swimming outdoors. These are all possible for me and by the end of the summer you can look back and remember all the fun activities and time spent together. Whew – I’m already feeling a little tired <smile> but very excited for summer to get here!

 

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DIY Stainless Steel Polish

My only cleaning products at the moment are baking soda, Dr. Bronners Liquid Soap, and olive oil.  In my efforts to remove any toxic cleaners from my home, I’ve totally streamlined my cleaners and it’s more cost effective than having multiple traditional cleaning products (there’s a myth out there that it’s expensive to go green). This DIY method for cleaning stainless steel appliances is the perfect example of how we can clean our house by simply opening the pantry door – rather than heading to the store.

I decided to try my beloved Dr. Bronners vs. olive oil on my stainless steel fridge to see which would make a better stainless steel polish. To be fair to Dr. Bronners – I’ve never seen cleaning steel marketed as one of it’s uses, but since I wash my clothes, clean my counters, floors, bathroom, etc. with it – I wanted to try. It didn’t do a bad job…it was WAY better than the traditional fridge wipes I still have from a bad purchase years ago. Dr. Bronners liquid soap required a bit more elbow grease and wasn’t as smooth as the olive oil to rub with the grain of the steel. The olive oil was easy, effective, and no streaks – the perfect polish for steel!  Here is the completed results from my fridge!

And the ‘wipes’ on the market you can use to clean steel?  I call them the traditional toxies and I mentioned my husband bought a container a few years ago. To be fair to him, the packaging states ” non-toxic ” and there actually isn’t an ingredient list on the product. The smell and headache I get when opening the wipes is enough to tell me what’s inside. The wipes also didn’t work. I’ve also pointed out in the below image that there is a blue ribbon for Ovarian Cancer Awareness. This is what upsets a lot of green advocates with companies manufacturing products with chemicals and then marketing them as benefiting cancer agencies.

I love a great DIY recipe for cleaning and this is my favorite because you only need cooking oil and a rag. It’s important to rub along the grain of the steel and it might sweat after you’ve cleaned it. Go back later and rub along the grain again without adding more oil.  I recently cleaned the dashboard of my van with olive oil and the results have been fantastic! Click here to learn how to clean your vehicle without chemicals.

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