Teaching Your Kids To Clean Up In The Bathroom

Teaching Your Kids To Clean Up In The Bathroom

As a mother and as a person, I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a clean and welcoming bathroom. Thanks to indoor plumbing and all the trappings of modernity, the experience of showering, washing your hands, or doing your business is a far more pleasant one than at any other point in human history. But we set our standards relative to our experiences – not to what we read in a textbook – meaning that a dirty bathroom will always be highly unappealing. The fact that it has running water does little to placate the issue.

Really, bathroom cleanliness should be a simple affair: leave it how you found it. Don’t make it painfully clear that you were there.

Creative Commons License photo credit: BobPetUK

This is obviously far easier said than done. In reality, there are two main factors that explain why it’s so easy for a bathroom to get dirty:

1. By its very nature, the bathroom is a place where water, hair, and dirt all mix. Add in the fact that we’re far more likely to get grossed out by an unclean bathroom than, say, pantry or mudroom, and it’s understandable that the place gets messy – and, when it does, that we immediately recognize this.

2. Cleaning the bathroom requires individual responsibility. My children do chores and help around the house in a variety of capacities, but ultimately I will insure that the kitchen or living room is clean if they don’t take proper initiative. But the mess made in a bathroom is made by an individual outside of the communal family setting. Therefore each person needs to do their part to leave it just as clean as they found it.

So how am I teaching my kids to be more responsible with their bathroom cleaning? My approach isn’t groundbreaking, but I’ve found it to be effective. Here’s what I do:

-Provide constant reminders. I don’t consider myself a nudge and I don’t care to push the issue, but if the bathroom is unclean, I won’t hesitate to remind my children that they have a responsibility to ensure otherwise.

-Make the medicine closet a “catch-all.” I can’t stand when toothpaste, floss, tweezers, and my jar of lavender essential oil are all sitting out on the sink countertop and cluttering the bathroom. To make sure that this doesn’t happen and that things get put away, I tell my children that the medicine closet is their one-stop-shop for bathroom cleanup. Anything that they use – or anything that they find sitting out – can simply be put on any shelf in that closet. It doesn’t matter where so long as it’s not next to the sink.

-Keep water in the tub. Bathrooms can get disgusting quickly when people start spreading water into all recesses of the room. So my house has a simple rule to counter this issue: after a shower or a bath, we all dry ourselves off in the tub before stepping out onto the bathroom mat. This ensures that most of the water goes where it’s supposed to go – into the drain.

-Incorporate hair removal into the bathroom process. Nobody in my family enjoys finding hair in the sink or shower drain, so it wasn’t difficult to teach my children to remove any hair as part of their regular bathroom routine. After showering, pick hair out of the drain before drying off. After combing hair in front of the mirror, wipe away any hair before putting the comb away.

These are a few tips that my family and I follow in an effort to keep the bathroom clean. Teaching children clean bathroom skills can be a difficult proposition, especially since it’s one of the few places in the house where they do their business unsupervised. But teaching them the importance of such cleanliness will stay with them for the rest of their life. They might as well start learning now.


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Bringing Up Bebe

If you’ve been online at all in the past several weeks, you’ve probably come across a review or piece on the new book Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. It seemed that many of my favorite bloggers were offering their opinions, and I had to get a copy.

When I first heard about the book, I was immediately intrigued. How parenting habits and customs differ across cultures is a topic that is fascinating to me. Also, I had read several negative things about the book, especially from natural/attachment parenting types, and yet others were singing the book’s praises. The controversy also got my curiosity up. I ordered a copy and the day it arrived in the mail, I had finished it by late afternoon. I simply couldn’t put it down.

Firstly, I was struck with how much of the book’s content I wholeheartedly agreed with. As I mentioned, some bloggers had mentioned the book in negative terms. But now I wonder whether they had actually taken the time to read it. To be fair, according to the author Pamela Druckerman, practices such as natural childbirth, cosleeping and long term breastfeeding are generally not practiced in France. I think that’s why many attachment parenting proponents would be turned off, tout de suite, and not give the rest of the book open-minded consideration.

It may sound offensive to some, but one of the guiding principles in my own parenting is my desire not to raise a “typical American child”. In my mind that meant a spoiled, narrow minded, disrespectful, media addicted kid with a very small worldview. This is precisely the kind of child that French parents probably wouldn’t tolerate either. Some of my favorite parts of the book:

* French parents place great emphasis on teaching respect for others (manners)

To be specific, French children are taught to always speak to adults. A child who doesn’t greet an adult in their presence is said to have “no upbringing”, and may be considered a bad influence. This training is something that seems sadly lacking in a lot of families.

As an example, the other day an older gentleman came to my home to pick up the 3 children that were staying with us. When he walked in the door, my oldest warmly and enthusiastically bade him Good Morning, and my next oldest offered him coffee. (The other children were not up yet.) Two of the visiting kids never bothered to speak to him or really acknowledge his presence until they needed his help with something. That was appalling to me. I was a very shy child, and it was almost painful for me to speak to people I didn’t know well, especially adults. But I was expected to do so, and I did it. As a result, my friend’s parents didn’t think I was a snob, or rude. When children come to my home and speak to me and acknowledge my presence, they are welcome to come back, even if their behavior isn’t perfect.

French children are taught to wait patiently for things, and not to interrupt others. Why isn’t this something all parents value? I do not allow my children (past the toddler years) to interrupt me when I’m talking to my husband.

Another aspect of the good manners that French parents teach their children is proper behavior at the table.

(The book’s title in England is French Children Don’t Throw Food.) With 6 kids eating and conversing at the table in my home, it’s easy for things to get a little too boisterous. But I do not allow playing with food, saying rudely negative things about food (they may tell me they don’t prefer that food, but only after saying something positive), making faces, playing/reading while eating, or other behaviors I deem inappropriate at the table.

And although I have one picky child, she is expected to eat one bite of foods she doesn’t prefer. There are no children that eat only chicken nuggets and fries at my table either. Tonight, we had scallops in a lemon butter sauce, cauliflower with tomatoes and feta cheese, and a 3 bean salad with greens.

French toddlers and young children are expected to eat a wide variety of foods (not a monotonous “white diet”) and to behave themselves appropriately at table, and so they do!

Another thing about food: French children eat 3 meals a day, and one snack at around 4:30. Because they come to the table hungry, they’re less likely to play with or turn up their nose at food. Since becoming a mom, I’ve always thought it was odd the way most women around me carried snacks in their purses and diaper bags for their children to nosh on constantly. When I leave the house, I don’t carry anything except perhaps some water in summertime. If the kids get hungry, they can wait until we get home (if I leave and know I’ll be out during a mealtime, I’ll spring for food out).

I do wish my children didn’t snack when they were at home (even though they’re eating fruit, cheese, nuts, and healthy things and not Cheerios or other junk) because I have read so much about snacking causing tooth decay. But I personally cannot go without food for more than 3 hours, so I feel hypocritical asking them to. Any thoughts on this? (Do French people not experience low blood sugar?)

* French mothers don’t forget that they are woman first, mom second.

This is something that has evolved in my own mothering journey over time. It’s very easy to lose yourself in mothering with your first child. But at this stage in my life, I’m keenly aware that motherhood is a temp gig. It won’t last forever, and if children are the only thing you live for, what will you do when they leave your home to pursue their own lives? The entire point of parenthood is to prepare children for this eventuality: that they will become adults with separate lives.

For French women, this balance means several things. It means not using pregnancy as an excuse to gain tons of weight (and keep it), giving up one’s interests and passions, or neglecting adult time.

I have often noted that it’s a shame the way so many American moms let themselves go after having a child. They use the baby as an excuse to leave the house with dirty hair, sweatpants, and jogging shoes. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a pair of sweatpants, and if I did I certainly wouldn’t wear them to the grocery store. The ponytail/ill fitting pants/athletic shoe seems to be the standard mom uniform around here, and it’s a shame. French women will show up at the playground with skinny jeans and pumps, and I say more power to them!

When it comes to combining a career and motherhood, there are many social services in France that are unavailable here in the US that make it FAR easier for a woman to pursue paid work if she wishes to. (For instance, extremely high quality, government subsidized child care.) I have written in the past about the dangers of economic dependence for women. Even though I have chosen to be a stay at home mom since my first child was born, I do not believe that it is wise for a woman to depend entirely on a man for financial support.

* French moms avoid “over mothering”.

This was one of my favorite themes in the book. The smother mother/helicopter parenting trend is so annoying to me. Hubby and I always share a private giggle when we go to the playground and observe the parents who cannot let their children play because they are so busy providing a running commentary of Johnny’s every.single.move. I call them “the self esteem police” because it’s as if the parent thinks that by praising their child every moment for the most ordinary of activities (like playing!?) they will “build” their self image. That’s patently false, for one. It simply doesn’t work. It’s something some American parents do because they heard somewhere that praise was good. (So constant, ridiculous praise must be really good!) Secondly, it’s pathetic and obnoxious as hell.

French parents don’t engage in this type of parenting. They allow their children to have their own inner world without constantly interfering. I call this Benign Neglect. And it keeps you from hating parenting. Which is something many parents do, if they’re honest. And in fact in many studies, parents are less happy than childless people. (The stats are reversed in France – big surprise!)

* French parents are comfortable with their authority

I’ve noticed that many parents are uncomfortable with being in authority. They are almost apologetic about it. In my observation, this is especially a problem among attachment parenting proponents. They have a hard time practicing gentle discipline without abdicating their authority. By contrast, Christian parents generally aren’t, because they view themselves as having been given authority by God to teach and train their kids.

French parents refer to something called the “cadre”, or framework. In a nutshell it refers to proper boundaries.  The cadre is firm and non-negotiable, but inside the frame the child has lots of freedom. This sounds like a perfect balance to me. “Non” means no, which means a child doesn’t have to constantly test and push the boundary, saving both the parent and child emotional wear and tear. Children who know this have more time and energy to devote to the important business of childhood. They’re less stressed, and happier.

The only problem with this book? It made me want to move to France. Of course, with my homeschooling, homebirthing, long term breastfeeding ways, I would probably be seen as a freak of nature and it would likely be difficult to make friends. But the cafes!


Have you read Bringing Up Bebe? What were your thoughts?

Posted in Mothering | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Dead Battery

Stress is a dangerous thing. It makes you forgetful and accidents tend to happen. You also engage in subconscious self sabotage type behaviors.

For instance, today. I feel totally exhausted. Limp. My battery is completely drained.

The last few days have been very stressful and I really didn’t want to go anywhere today. It just so happens that I have a prenatal appointment, but when I got in the truck I realized that it wasn’t going to start. I had left the key in the ignition in the “accessory” position, all night long. Dead battery.

Funny how that works.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what about the last few days was so difficult. The obvious answer is that we took care of 3 extra children for 4 days, one of whom has special needs and is mostly wheelchair bound. But I didn’t have a ton of extra work to do, really. Other than making sure everyone was comfortable and entertained and had a place to sleep, it wasn’t physically difficult. I think the main thing was the emotionally stressful experience of not knowing when the children were leaving, or what was expected of me while they were here.

We weren’t prepared, in other words. An older friend of ours, a single woman who had adopted her 3 grandchildren, ended up in the hospital having major surgery. We didn’t know they were coming until right before they were dropped off at our home. We didn’t know how long they were staying. And I had no instructions or guidance from their mother on how to care for the handicapped child. I am not the kind of person who does well when I don’t know how to behave in a particular situation.

(Later on we found out that there was a 4 page letter with instructions at the children’s home, noone had told me about it.)

Another issue may have been the children’s behavior. For the most part they were no trouble and got along well with the other kids. But there were a few very obnoxious exceptions. My husband was stressed from the get-go because as soon as he picked them up, they began complaining about a) our vehicle (huh?) b) having to leave their house to spend the night at ours c) how the other people who had stayed with them were horrible, etc.

It put a bad taste in his mouth that never left. We were never once thanked for our hospitality, for putting our own kids on the floor so they could have the beds, for eating our food, for readjusting our lives. They never offered to help out around the house and barely acknowledged us in the morning or when my husband came home from work. The manners of the boys were definitely lacking. I realize they were in a bad situation and were no doubt uncomfortable having to stay away from home, but some behaviors (like interrupting me, talking about too personal topics, backseat driving, being critical, not obeying, etc) are unacceptable in my own children and intolerable in someone else’s child.

I kept reminding myself that I was doing this for their mother, whose self sacrifice in caring for them I admired very much (she is an older, retired lady and it can’t be easy for her to care for 3 tweens, not to mention one with handicaps). And it wasn’t as if anyone else was stepping up to the plate to stay with them. I didn’t want them to be at their house overnight without adult supervision. I thought about what I would want someone to do if I were in the hospital with noone to care for my children.

Not to mention we may have, our our desire to be good Christians and help widows and orphans, stepped into a mess. Apparently a friend of the family was given a large sum of cash to distribute to people who stepped up to help the children. He offered us some money initially and we refused it. But then two trusted people advised us that we needed to accept the money because this individual was doing nothing yet keeping the money for himself. So we called him and told him we would accept something after all.

All the while our intention was to give it back to the mother as soon as she was home from the hospital. We just wanted to get at least some of it out of the hands of a questionable individual. This person began attacking my husband’s motive and the character of a mutual friend and got extremely defensive. Then he had the nerve to ask for my husband’s bank account information (we’re total strangers, by the way). The whole thing immediately smelled fishy and we were sure the two friends who advised us to take the money were spot on in their assessment – this guy had already spent the cash, despite doing almost nothing personally to assist in the children’s care.

Whew. After typing that out I suppose I have good reason to be exhausted.

Sadie has put a lovely tea party on the table. I think I’ll go enjoy some brownies and Earl Grey. :-)




Posted in Misc | 2 Comments

Thrift Stores Have Ruined Me

Do you find find, as I do, that after years of buying good quality stuff at thrift stores, you cannot bring yourself to pay retail?

Honestly. Thrift stores have ruined me.

Creative Commons License photo credit: helenadagmar

Today I ventured into Target.

I do this about 3 times a year, to pick up socks, undies, printer paper, and other items that I can’t (or won’t) buy secondhand. I start a list on my phone (in Evernote) and go when it’s long enough to justify the hassle.

I had to get Caleb a new pair of sneakers. I often find great shoes for the younger kids and myself secondhand, but Caleb’s feet are as big as a man’s, and I’ve discovered that there isn’t nearly as much good stuff for men in the used clothing market. I think it’s because men shop/own less, and throw stuff away once it’s threadbare.

I also had two Target coupons for $3 off Liz Lange maternity tops. I used both of them to buy two shirts on clearance. Total price: $2 for two preggo tops. I was very stoked about that!

But other than that deal, I was unsettled by how crappy and cheap the quality of much of the merchandise is and yet how high the prices are. I kept picking things up, experiencing sticker shock and putting them back down.

Why in the world would I pay $20 for a pair of really cheap sandals that are man made and will make my feet stink and look like crap after a few weeks, when I’m currently wearing Blowfish Malibu flats that were $45 new but cost me $2?


The last time I went to half price day at my current favorite secondhand shop, I got 3 cute name brand maternity tops for around $2 each, several pairs of nice maternity slacks and jeans for $3 each. No way am I paying $19.99 for a tee shirt that will fall apart after a few washes.

And it’s not just clothing. I also find cute stuff for the house, kitchen items, awesome books (including homeschool curriculum) and a lot more.

A side funny: while we were driving home, a song by Radiohead came on the radio. I told Caleb that they were one of the greatest alternative rock bands ever.

Julien piped up.

“Mom, what’s a maternity rock band?”

Caleb and I had a good laugh about that one. I envisioned hipster women with hair dyed purple, guitars propped on top of their huge pregnant bellies. (They should be called Labor Pains. Or The Placentas!) Apparently “alternative” and “maternity” sound alike when you’re cranking the radio. :-)

What about you? Have years of frugal, yard sale and thrift store shopping ruined you on retail?

Posted in Frugality | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Just Go With It

I woke up this morning feel super nauseous and tired and yucky, so I decided to couch out for a bit and drink tea until it went away.

Sometimes you just decide not to fight it too much and just go with it, y’know?

Yesterday was a super busy day. I had a picnic with the kids, walked a lot, took Caleb to his piano lesson, exercised, worked in the garden spreading compost and breaking up chunky mounds of dirt with a shovel (my shoulders will be telling on me tomorrow, no doubt), carried Ruby most of the day (she was having one of those days), and sold a car.

I listed my beloved but outgrown 2002 Toyota Sienna van on Craigslist and it sold in TEN MINUTES. I’m not kidding. Carrie is now considering a career change at this point. Used car saleswoman.

Have I mentioned that sometimes my kids are really weird?

Sadie has become fixated with “poor people”. I think what she actually means is homeless people, because she asked me the other day if people really lived in a box under the bridge and I said yes, some do. Then she decided to try to recreate the experience, only she didn’t have a large cardboard box, only a large Rubbermaid container. She taped on a sign that said “Give me Money”.

Then she wrote a short essay about how she wants to give food to the poor people. Perhaps I have been Googling images of hungry Somalians a little too much lately? (Not so much for her benefit, but for her older sister who is the only picky eater in the family.)

I’m really, really serious about making the garden work this year. We planted several things for two years in a row. The first year in containers, the second year in a small ground plot. Both attempts were miserable failures. But with the rising cost and lowered quality of grocery store pickin’s, it’s time to get serious about it. (Not to mention, the kids seem to love working in the garden and it’s a fun/educational project for them.) I ordered a soil sample kit from the University of Georgia so I could get more familiar with what my soil needs.

Have you had success after failed attempts at gardening? What made the difference for you?


Posted in Mothering | 2 Comments

Simple Easy Black Bean Soup

One of the things I struggle with when it comes to meal planning is lunches. Lunches shouldn’t be that complicated, right? But for some reason I always draw a blank at lunchtime. Yesterday I had a mom friend over and when the topic of lunch came up, she said she struggled to figure out what to cook, and often forgot to buy “stuff for lunch” when she went grocery shopping (me too!). I was surprised. I thought I was the only one. :)

I think it’s a little bit of laziness on my part, truthfully. I cook a hot breakfast and dinner every day, but I don’t always want to “cook” lunch. I’d be in the kitchen either preparing or cleaning up after a meal all day long if I did (at least, that’s my perception) ;)

The problem is, I don’t like to go the sandwich route. Sadie and I are wheat free and I try to limit the amount of grains the other kids eat. And I never have leftovers because dinner is wolfed down by hungry chillins within 10 minutes of them sitting to the table.

One of my goals this year is to be more prepared for lunchtime. I keep reading that truthfully lunchtime is the most important meal of the day. In terms of calories, we should eat our biggest meal in the middle of the day, when we’re most active.

Soup is a great lunchtime option.

Soup is:

  • Generally quick and easy to get started, then it can cook while you attend to other things
  • It can be made in large batches and reheated for a few days
  • Healthy and often quite inexpensive

Here is one of our favorite soup recipes. I love black beans, but I never liked black bean soup until I made this recipe! It’s healthy, easy, fast, cheap and the kids like it. Win!

I offer proof:

Simple Easy Black Bean Soup

(for people who don’t like black bean soup)

Serves 4. Double if you’re feeding a crowd like me.

  • 4 cups black beans, cooked (this is 2 cans, but I always use dried because it’s so much cheaper!)
  • 2 cups broth (I use homemade chicken broth)
  • 1 c salsa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  1.  In a blender or food processor, combine the broth, salsa, cumin and half the beans. (I think this is why I like this recipe – it’s the texture).
  2. Pour mixture into saucepan and add remaining beans.
  3. Cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve in bowls topped with sour cream.

Also yummy with cheese and tortilla chips.

* This recipe is an adaptation of the black bean soup recipe in The One Armed Cook, one of my favorite cookbooks. I’ve mentioned it many times here over the years.

What are some of your favorite lunch ideas, soup or otherwise?

I’ve started a list of our favorite lunches in my planner and would love some unique ideas.



Posted in Food | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Stripping Fuzzi Bunz

(Earlier today I wrote about pregnancy depression, a much deeper topic than stanky diapers.)

Lately Ruby has been putting the fun in her Fuzzi Bunz, and they stink BADLY. In the warmer months I don’t have a problem with this issue, because I hang the diapers to dry, and the sun seems to work well to kill any funkadelic germs that cause lingering odors.

Today I couldn’t stand it anymore so I decided to “strip” them. I had to do this once before when my Fuzzi Bunz began leaking after I used some Burt’s Bees diaper rash cream on the baby.

Genevieve of MamaNatural has a helpful video at her site on stripping cloth diapers (she uses BumGenius, very similar to Fuzzi Bunz).

It’s easy enough. The diapers have to be washed in a solution of 1 T Dawn dish soap and 1/2 cup bleach, with multiple rinses to get rid of any residual soap.

I typically don’t espouse the use of chlorine bleach, preferring an oxygen based bleach. But I find that once or twice a year it’s a necessity on dish towels to get rid of that odd sour milk smell that will linger on them.

What do you do when your diapers, Fuzzi Bunz or other, get funky?


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Pregnancy Depression

Two odd things to talk about in one afternoon, right? But, I don’t want to be all negative and stuff. So I thought I would combine a serious topic with a totally frivolous one. If you want to skip this one and go straight to stripping Fuzzi Bunz, go ahead ;)

Isn’t it interesting how you don’t really realize you’re in a depression until it begins to lift a little? That’s how it is for me lately. And I wrote about the issue of pregnancy depression last time I was in this boat. After some pondering I realize that I’ve had this issue in EVERY pregnancy, no matter what the circumstances. Whether the baby was a surprise or totally planned, it didn’t matter.

I feel that pregnancy depression is a huge taboo, and probably under-diagnosed. Women are probably ashamed to admit they’re depressed, especially if they’re happy about the baby! (And I am very happy about the baby :-) Pregnant women are “supposed” to glow, be bastions of bliss and all that. But for some – and the reasons are likely as varied as the woman herself – something I talked about in my earlier post on the subject, pregnancy is difficult emotionally.

I’m very, very fortunate in that I’ve never experienced Postpartum Depression. But if I had, I would know the signs to look for, there would be more awareness on the part of my loved ones and health care practitioner, and I would know how to treat it naturally. There isn’t as much knowledge about pregnancy depression.

After pondering this for a long time I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, the cause mainly comes down to two things:

  1. Seasonal mood changes (because I’ve usually spent the first trimester of pregnancy during the winter when my mood is lower anyway) plus
  2. Chronic sickness (severe, prolonged pregnancy nausea)

With perhaps a little vitamin or mineral deficiency thrown in (probably as a result of thing 2).

These two things together pack a double whammy. When I’m so sick, and when it’s cold and grey and rainy out, I won’t be doing the things I normally do to manage my mood. Things like: daily walking/exercise, daily outdoor time, having a monthly outing with my “girls”, taking my supplements (cod liver oil and such that feed the brain).

The combination of: social isolation, a messier house, a lower standard of personal productivity, and just feeling so sick for months on end is just plain depressing!

Have you dealt with this issue? Were the causes similar to mine, or totally different? How did you manage it? (Just the passage of time, or something more aggressive?)


Posted in Health | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Natural Moms Podcast #150

My guest on this show is Melinda Friedman of The Dental Essentials.

The Dental Essentials is the first and only nutritional supplement specifically formulated to promote cavity resistance.

The ingredients in The Dental Essentials have been clinical proven to reduce the incidence of cavities by up to 95%. When taken daily, The Dental Essentials can also “re-mineralize” or heal tooth decay that may have already started.

Topics discussed on the show:

  • Why parents who feed their kids a healthy diet find that they still have tooth decay
  • The role of supplements in preventing cavities
  • How the research and work of Dr. May Mellanby and Dr. Weston A. Price align with the science behind Dental Essentials

You can listen to this show by clicking on the mp3 link below. A transcription of this show is below if you prefer to read rather than listen.

Speaker 1:  You’re here with Carrie at Natural Moms talk radio and my guest on the show today is Melinda Freedman of Dental Essentials.  Welcome Melinda.

Speaker 2:  Welcome, thank you.  Thank you.  It’s nice to be here.

Speaker 1:  Yeah, I’m excited to talk about this subject because since becoming a parent, it’s something I’ve done a lot of research about and kind of had a lot of emotional distress about it, so I’m thrilled to find your company and your website and your products. I’m really looking forward to our discussion, but first of all tell us a little more about Dental Essentials.

Speaker 2:  Sure, the Dental Essentials is a small company.  It’s only been around for just under two years.  We create a very small line of nutritional supplements, specifically designed to help reduce the instance of cavities and it is basically following in the nutritional approach.  So we have looked at sort of the history of research that has been done sort of attempting to limit the number of cavities that children get or completely eradicate them through a nutritional approach and we’ve taken the key ingredients, identified the key ingredients, the minerals, the vitamins that were used and distilled them down into a product that’s very simple for people to use.  We have a liquid formulation for younger kids and a tablets formulation for kids who are able to take pills.

Speaker 1:  Right, well I mentioned that a lot of parents like myself, have had kind of an emotional distress when it comes to dental decay and I think that’s because we are trying so hard to feed our kids “healthy diets.”  There is so many different ideas about  what that means and it’s really a topic I have researched for years and years since I was a teenager, really.

And when I became a parent I assumed my children would have the same experience I had, which is that I never had a cavity.   I’m 36.  I’ve never had a cavity. My friends kind of made fun of me growing up, they said you ate “bird seed” at your house.  My parents were really health nuts, you know and I just knew that was going to be the way it was going to be with my kids.  And so when they developed cavities, it made me feel like a failure.

Speaker 2:   Yeah.

Speaker 1:  So a lot of parents find that, even if they are trying to feed their kids a whole food diet, their children still develop decay.  What is contributing to that even in an otherwise healthy diet?

Speaker 2:  Good question and I just want to say that the people that I have encountered and also my personal experience mirror yours dramatically.  I mean, I also expected my children to have the, you know, just the stellar examples of cavity free living and I was shocked, but the thing that shocked me even more then my child getting a cavity, when I thought OK, my diet growing up even though I would have thought it would have been New York City in the 70′s and had flouridated water.  Yeah, my background wasn’t great.  Lots of cavities year after year and I thought, OK, I don’t want my kids to have that sort of experience so I made sure that I was completely different and organic and just you know, 100 mile diet and stuff and just really, really paid attention to it.  So when my daughter developed cavities I was surprised, but what was even more surprising was when I asked the dentist well how can I make sure that this doesn’t happen again, she basically just said floss, brush and like we never do that and…

Speaker 1:  Isn’t that frustrating?

Speaker 2:  “…other than that, there is not much…” and I’m like what is that?

Speaker 1:  Yeah and then you feel like this horrible person, like you don’t have good dental hygiene.

Speaker 2:  Exactly, exactly I’m thinking if it’s as simple as just brushing and flossing we would all have perfect teeth because we had gotten that message loud and clear.

Speaker 1:  Yes.

Speaker 2:  So, but in terms of your question about diet and I think there is really two things that get called into play and this is for people who have fantastic diets and they can eat you know, super healthy and organic eating families, but one of the things that people may not realize is that especially with the big push toward whole grains and things like that, that the grain products that people eat largely have something in it called Phytic Acid, which is naturally occurring and it binds to calcium.

So if you’re making sure that your child is getting enough calcium, but you’re also getting your child delicious whole grain bread chances are good that they are now going to be deficient in calcium because it’s leaching it directly out of the body.  So as much calcium that you’re putting in, it’s just coming right out with the phytic acid.  So that is something to keep in mind, I mean this is if you have cavities, if you’re family doesn’t have cavities then it’s not really an issue, but you know if you’re struggling with cavities one thing to look at is whether they are losing a lot of their calcium through phytic acid intake.

Speaker 1:  OK, so if your child is a carb addict or if you are, be watching for that.  If they eat a lot of crackers and grain based foods.

Speaker 2:  Exactly, exactly.  While carbs are great for energy, but not a whole lot else.  So if that’s something you can get on top of then great.  Another thing that’s doable is soak the grains or to ferment them.  There is a lot of information on a lot of different websites as well as in different books including one that you might have talked about on your website Nouriousing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Speaker 1:  Yeah.

Speaker 2:  Great, great  resource about soaking and fermenting grains and that is through soaking the grain to minimize the fitic acid in the food itself, but it’s still you know, delicious and good for you and all that stuff.  I think the flood people used to soak their oatmeal every night or still do sometimes, but that sort of tradition of soaking your oatmeal every night would help to mitigate the phytic acid.

When I was introducing our products, what I failed to mention was that we’re looking at tooth decay as a result of nutritional deficiencies and this is very clear in research that it’s calcium and vitamin D and vitamin K2 and a couple of other minerals that combine together to create the most highly mineralized teeth and so if you’re lacking in any of those, chances are good you’re at a higher risk of developing cavities.

And so when we’re talking about nutrition, the nutritional talk, the things that I’m mentioning here are having to do with making sure that you don’t have deficiencies and those particular ingredients.  And so the calcium you would likely be calcium deficient if you had too much phytic acid in your diet.  And the other thing I was going to mention because it’s really true is there is a big push for low fat diets, pushing this great idea that low fat is the way to go and you know there maybe some merit there, I’m not going to debate that, but certainly the key vitamins for healthy teeth, vitamin D and vitamin K2 are fat soluable vitamins. So you need to have sufficient fat in the body in order to make them do their job.  So you combine high carb intake with low fat diet and it sounds kind of like hearing what you should do, but ultimately it can be taking a toll especially on all these poor kids who are developing so many cavities.

Speaker 1:  Yeah, something that drives me crazy about the whole low fat craze is that from my own personal research, I believe that low fat doesn’t have a place in a child’s diet when they are developing growing brains, spinal cords that kind of thing.  It drives me nuts that my step daughter is in public school and all they have available in the lunch room is skim milk.  That just drives me crazy.

Speaker 2:  Yup.  I agree, I agree.  Actually my kids friends come over and they see that we’ve got full fat milk and they are like whoo hoo!

Speaker 1:  Yeah, it’s an “evil” thing now, fat.  Well, you mentioned deficiencies.   Now some of these don’t really show up in terms of some big health issue.  You know sometimes it’s hard to know if we have a deficiency.  It’s showing up in the cavity, but we don’t make that connection, so what role does supplementation play in helping to prevent tooth decay?

Speaker 2:  Well, as usual because it’s so easy not to get enough of these key vitamins and minerals.  I mean just vitamin D, I mean there is a lot of information fortunately at the moment about vitamin D in the last couple of years, but you think about, you send your kids out to play, even if you live in a sunny place like Atlanta, but for the most part we are going to slather them in sunscreen for a lot of reasons.  And we cover them up, so the chances of kids getting the kind of vitamin D intake they would’ve had 100 years ago is pretty unusual, very unusual.  And I think you would probably be picked on by friends and neighbors for letting your child out for too long in the sun without being protected.

And then even also just kind of thinking about a kind of more obscure vitamin, like vitamin K2, which is key and really difficult to get enough of in our North American diet, but traditionally for meat eaters, you know if you were eating cow 100 years ago they would be grass fed and now they are grain fed.  So K2 is developed through eating grass, the spring grass that grows yearly and then we consume the cow and you know it’s all a part of that cycle.  But if your cows are now longer providing the kinds of nutrients they would have had 100 years ago, it’s very easy, in fact I think it is pretty epidemic that there is a deficiency of calcium and certainly a deficiency in vitamin D and not is much as known about K2, but certainly through the work of Price and other people it’s comes to the forefront.  It’s been identified of how important it really is and where it comes from.

Speaker 1:  Now K2, is that the nutrient that Dr. Price referred to as activator X?

Speaker 2:  That is correct.

Speaker 1:  OK.  He didn’t know really what it was, but he gave some of his patients grass fed butter.

Speaker 2:  Right and then he just distilled it down to that high vitamin butter oil when he was using it.  Yeah, that is in fact what it is.

Speaker 1:  Well, when you’re talking about getting enough calcium, it made me think of another thing that has been kind of vilified other then fat is just milk.  You know a lot of people have kind of vilified milk because so many people have issues adjusting it perhaps and also the fat issue, but think of the way it was with our grandparents.  The only thing that my dad ever drank growing up was either water of milk.  That was it.  There was no juice.  There was certainly no soda.  Water or milk and it was pretty much the milk was at the table with the meal, so I wonder if that has something to do with the calcium issue.

Speaker 2:  So funny you should say that, my neighbor had two kids and we were talking about tooth decay and stuff like that and neither of her children ever had cavities and I said “oh that’s fantastic” and I had dinner at her house and I had noticed that there was a big bottle of milk on her table during the meal and her kids just helped themselves through the whole meal.  I thought wow, that’s really unusual, but really enlightening as well.  I though no wonder your kids are out completely cavity free and tall too!  I don’t know if that’s a consequence, but I kind of noticed that as well.  But yeah, I mean I agree.  100 years ago, I even remember vaguely my grandparents just kind of looking down their nose at all the orange juice my sister used to drink and certainly and pop or soda that would have been around.

Speaker 1:  Yeah, I remember being a little girl (and I’m telling my age here), but having the little glass bottles, you know on the door step early in the morning.  Ice cold and I believe it was raw at that point in time.  At least it was not homogenized because the cream would rise to the top.

Speaker 2:  Right, right.

Speaker 1:  Yeah, so we mentioned Westin A. Price and your website has information about Dr. Mellonbee and Dr. Pottenger.  So how does their work align with the research behind your products at Dental Essentials?

Speaker 2:  Sure, well I’m going to talk  mainly about Dr. Mellanby’s work just because I find her fascinating.  When we started investigating sort of the link between nutrition and cavities or nutritional deficiencies I should say and cavities.  We quickly came upon Dr. Price because he is fairly well known, but then we came up with Dr. Mellanby, who is this sort of unsung hero in this field.  And she originally started doing her work with her husband who is Dr. Edward Mellanby and he way key in determining that a vitamin D deficiency is what causes rickets in children, which is that sad bone disease where you legs are bow legged and things like that which is prevalent in Europe in the early 1900′s, 1910, 1920′s.

But anyway, she was helping him with his research and noticed that when he was treating children for rickets with vitamin D therapy, their tooth decay miraculously seemed to go away as well.   And she thought that’s very strange so she took it upon herself to create her own trials and sort of make it her life’s work to see the link between vitamin deficiencies and tooth decay.  And so she treated children with vitamin D and calcium and was able to have miraculous results and was able to do things we could never recreate now like taking groups of children, like in an orphanage situation that we wouldn’t have any more and be in complete control of their diet.  So she would have a control group that would eat a good meal, good food by our standards and then she would have another group that she would give exactly the same food, but would also supplement with a little more calcium and I think it was 2000 IU’s of vitamin D a day and just watch them.

Everything else was the same and you know at the end of her study period, there was like a 93, I think it was a 93% decrease in the number of cavities that the kids getting vitamin D and extra calcium were getting.  It was fascinating and fascinating and so what we have done with our products is sort of distill all of her research as well as the research that Westin Price did as well and locate exactly what it was they were giving their children and what proportions and then tried to recreate that in a very easy to use **** because I know there are other products out there.  Certainly people can give their children cod liver oil, they can give them the high vitamin butter oil we were just talking about and those are all great options, but it’s not necessarily for everybody.  I mean I’ve tried that cod liver oil, that cod liver oil and although I think it’s a good product it was difficult and if I had a finicky toddler then it would be extremely difficult.  So we realized that there is a niche for people who don’t necessarily have the finances as well or the reach to find these products.

Speaker 1:  Yeah, my children are a little weird because they like cod liver oil, which I find odd, but right now I’m 16 weeks pregnant and I can tell you my diet has gone in the toilet thanks to unending nausea and vomiting.  I need to be eating better right now more than any other period of my life, but it’s very difficult.  I mean cod liver oil right now, there is absolutely no way.  So I’m very thankful.  I’m taking your capsule product, so I don’t feel quite as guilty about doing what I have to do.

Speaker 2:  Well, that’s good and that’s a lot about what we were thinking about when we started this product is the certain amount of piece of mind.  Especially at home, not saying you or me necessarily, but there are families at home that have a very, very strict control over what their children eat.  You know, minimum sugar and things like that, but then when they go out into the world, they go to school, they go to parties, they go to sporting events and you know everywhere you turn around it’s here you know we’re having a bake sale, it’s somebodies birthday or here let’s have a coke after hockey practice or whatever and they are going to, kids are going to be kids and this is the way to sort of have a little bit of piece of mind that you have at least covering your bases with what you can, with what you can get your kids to take and rest assured that they are at least not going to be deficient in these minerals.   They may be taking in things you don’t love, but at least they are not going to be deficient in these mineralizing vitamins and minerals.

Speaker 1:  Yeah and two we don’t want to create a child that is kind of a social, you know an awkward social thing where the kid doesn’t eat anything, you know that emotional component is important too.  So yeah, my children are taking the drops and my teenage son and myself are using the capsules.  So, it’s great.  I’m really thrilled with what you guys are doing and it’s really nice to feel you know as a parent that you’re empowered and you can do something, you know.  I’m excited to find out what will happen the next time my children have a cleaning because at this last one, they each had a cavity and again, you feel like oh it’s as hard as we try, it’s just very, very difficult.  So I’m really thrilled.

Speaker 2:  Yeah, there is something special about going to the dentist for that check up where you are almost sort of holding your breath to see what happens and if you do find you child has a cavity, it is sort of like shameful kind of how did I let this happen, as opposed to if they had broken an arm or if they got a cold, you don’t necessarily feel that way.  This is something, yeah something about cavities really does hit home and it’s a shame.  It’s a shame.

Speaker 1:  Well, your website is thedentalessentials.com and you’ve some great information here, articles and things that I definitely encourage parents to take a look at and the blog as well with some really neat articles and yeah thank you so much for contacting me and for what you’re doing.  I appreciate it very much.

Speaker 2:  Well, no problem.  Thanks for having me and it’s great to talk about this with you today.

Posted in Podcast, Show Notes | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Simple, Homemade Skin Care

I’ve had so much fun making my own skin care and cleaning products lately. Does that make me a big dork? Maybe. But I don’t care! It’s fun to be a kitchen alchemist, and to save money on these items. Not to mention my biggest motivation: healthier, safer products on my skin and in my home.

Here are a few examples of some simple homemade skin care products.

Facial Cleansing Oil

I had used oil based cleansers before a time or two and found they were really effective at removing makeup, but it was reading Simple Mom’s 52 Bites ebook (where she provides recipes) that motivated me to make my own Oil Cleanser. Oh my goodness it was easy.

I love the way this cleanser makes my skin look and feel. You might imagine it leaving a greasy residue, but it doesn’t at all. I washes away cleanly and just leaves your face feeling really clean, not tight. It’s awesome at removing makeup. (How many times do you “wash” your face and find bits of mascara left behind, or foundation still on your nose?) I don’t even need a moisturizer after using it. I use my Oil only once a day, in the evening. I find that in the mornings I simply need to splash my face with warm water.

Recipes vary, but mine is simply one part castor oil (for cleansing) and one part olive oil (for moisturizing).

Baking Soda Deodorant

This one is the simplest of all. Years ago after experimenting with various “natural” brands of deodorant, my Dad told me he had begun using just baking soda, straight up, as a deodorant. He never stinks, and he works very hard outdoors for a living. So I knew it probably worked well, but for some reason never tried it.

I’m so glad I decided to take the plunge. All I do is apply a little baking soda to my underarms after bathing. They’re still damp so the baking soda immediately “sinks” in and doesn’t leave a white residue. It works extremely well, in fact better than the Tom’s of Maine I used for years. The best part? The painful shaving bumps I suffered from for years disappeared. I always assumed that they were caused by shaving… but it turns out they were caused by applying deodorant after shaving! What a nice side effect!

Sugar and Salt Scrubs

I made a big batch of Brown Sugar Vanilla Body Scrub (recipe here) to give away as gifts for my mom and sister, but I had to make some for myself! It leaves my skin feeling so soft and moisturized. One day my dad called me up and asked me if it would work to soften his hands and I said of course! He stole my mom’s supply. ;)

I also made a Lemon Kitchen Hand Scrub (recipe here) for freshening up my hands after cooking. (To remove onion smells and to soften them.) My husband used some and found it removed paint from his hands beautifully so I made him a jar of his very own too.

What kind of simple ingredients do you mix together to create skin care products?


Posted in Beauty | Tagged , , | 2 Comments