My Favorite Natural Products For Your Healthy Family

One thing that many Waldorf families have in common is a love of things that support  total health. Many families choose Waldorf Education and Waldorf homeschooling because they feel this supports the development of the whole child in an appropriate way. Many families who choose Waldorf Education are also interested in a healthy, organic lifestyle and products that support family health, self-care, cleaning, and more.

I have been buying and eating organic food for the past 25 years. In this time, I have also embraced the use of herbs and the making of herbal infusions, essential oils, alternative health care systems, organic personal care products and cleaning products and more. Many, many people are futher along on this path than I am, but today I wanted to share some of my favorite family care, personal care, and cleaning products. I know many of these kinds of products could be easily made by hand, especially things such as laundry detergent and deodorant, and sometimes I have, but I also wanted to share my favorite brands with you (no affiliation, just happy using the product) so if you are short on time or just getting started on this path, you will have some tested recommendations!  Please do feel free to add your own recommendations in the comment box, share your favorite product lines, and more.

I have asthma, and we are headed into flu/cold season here in North America as well, which is always cause for concern for my lungs.  Therefore I  use the Environmental Working Group guides for products to often help discern which products have a higher risk of respiratory effects.

Family Care

I have used both homeopathics from  Boiron and  many of the herbal tincture products from Herb Pharm for both adults and children. My favorite general things to have on hand include arnica gel, collodial silver, and oregano essential oil.  I also like to have a selection of something similar to a Thieves Oil  as we head into flu/cold season.  You can find recipes on-line as to how to make a version of Thieves Oil out of basic essential oils.

My favorite supplements and probiotics so far are from the Jarrow line.

To make herbal infusions, I typically order directly  from either  Frontier Co-op or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Water Filters – I am currently looking for both in-house filters and shower filters.   If you have a recommendation, please leave it in the comment box!

(We also use allopathic preventative medicine and chiropractic medicine for general health as well, but this post is mainly about products!)

Personal Self-Care

For deodorant,I like Purelygreat and the Bergamot and Lime Schmidt’s. I have tried Primal Pit Paste without good success due to senstitive skin, but that seems to be what most people I know use.  I have also heard good things about Piperwai deodorant from several people now. Deodorant is fairly easy to make as well.

For lotion, I tend to use just straight oils instead or a combination of oils mixed with a facial lotion or body cream.

Facial cleanser/anti-aging products.  My dermatologist remarked to me that she felt cleanser in general wasn’t as important because it is on your face such a short amount of time compared to creams, serums, eye cream, etc.  so to invest in better quality brands for those things.  Derma E has some products that are rated highly in the Environmental Working Group SkinDeep Database (and some are not).  I don’t really have any tried and true favorites in this category yet.  I keep trying new things!  Please leave me your recommendations!

For shampoo and conditioner, I have not found ANY natural shampoo that I have liked for my hair type and texture. I have on my list to try Carina Organics Shampoo and Conditioner and see if I like those.

Soaps/body wash –  I like shea butter soaps and those generally score well on the EWG database. I find olive oil based soaps drying for my skin.  This one is a little hard for me since I was raised on Dove soap, LOL.

ToothpasteDavid’s Natural Whitening Toothpaste in peppermint is supposed to be good; does anyone use it?  It is flouride-free.  For  small children, we used flouride-free toothpaste and Kiss My Face toothpaste for the older children.  Our teens now prefer a regular brand of whitening toothpaste (yup, I know).

Hand soap – I like to try to find things at Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for products such as these, but Amazon doesn’t seem to carry any of the products marked with the green gold standard or a “1” , the next level down,  in the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.  Miessence and Beautycounter both get high marks in this category; perhaps you can find a person who sells those products, or order from the ATTITUDE line directly from their  website.  ATTITUDE is one brand that seems to get consistently high marks in the EWG Database for both personal care products and cleaning products.

For sunscreen, (which I don’t wear a lot except on my face/neck and the backs of my hands due to the blocking of Vitamin D, probably much to the horror of some medical professionals),  I try to choose from the EWG Best Sunscreen list.

For all of the above items, I try to check the Environmental Working Group database several times a year since recommendations change due to manufacturer’s changes in formulation.

Cleaning Products

Laundry Detergent – is super easy to make; however, if you are in a pinch and want laundry detergent you can try BioKleen powder; Seventh Generation Free and Clear, or ATTITUDE laundry detergent.  Or, many folks use soap nuts.

All purpose cleanser is also easy to make and you can add essential oils to make everything smell lovely.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner – many natural substitutions here, but  Green Shield or Seventh Generation scores high on the EWG list for a premade one.

Dishwasher Detergent/Powder and Detergent for Hand-Washing Liquids – I like ATTITUDE for both the dishwasher and hand washing of dishes.    I have also used Seventh Generation and Ecover in the past; I think Seventh Generation scores higher in the EWG database though.

Share with me your favorite tried and true natural and organic products! I always love to hear people’s recommendations!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

 

 

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Conversations With My Daughter

A long time ago, when my oldest daughter who will be sixteen in a few weeks was around ten (!!!), I wrote a blog post about some of the things I hoped to impart to her.  In this post, I talked about how since my mother died when I was young, she never had a chance to talk to me about any of the things about navigating being a  teenager or young adult, so I felt as if this conversations were really important and how I hoped to layer in discussion over time.

Since then, my surprise is that many women whose mothers were or are alive also didn’t receive ANY direction or guidance about navigating being a young adult!  There were no discussions on how to navigate choosing a career, finances, living on one’s own, choosing a partner for life, raising children, creating a family.  It was almost as if the child or teen would pick it up by osmosis, or figure it out for him or herself.  It rather floors me!

I had a little list in the blog post I linked above, and like to think I have imparted some guidance on each of these areas at this point.  This is very personal to our family since it includes living as an Episcopalian and in accordance with our baptismal vows since this is our family’s faith and often influences our politics as well; the foundation of Christian life; talks about marriage and children; serving others; boundaries; respecting oneself; healthy communication; the facets of health including whole food nutrition, homeopathy , herbs, movement and chiropractic care and how a woman changes throughout the life span;  money and finances.  You can come up with your own list based on your own family’s values, and that is really much of the fun! What do you think is super important that your teen needs to know to thrive in our world as a young adult?

Lately, we have been focusing on finance and insurance. Personal finance can be an area that is difficult for parents to discuss with teens. Sometimes it comes up when a  teen gets a job and opens a bank account or has to save for a large purchase such as a car.  However, it is also wonderful to talk about saving and types of saving, contributing to charities, and types of insurance that one has to carry, and how finances change over the life span. One thing I have recently pointed out to my oldest is that many people my age (47) don’t have much in the way of savings for retirement because either they weren’t interested in that in their 20s and 30s or life happened and much of the savings is now gone or that they really went out and bought too large a house and too many new things when they were starting out.  Some people my age are also still saddled under large student loans from college.  So, I have stressed that is important to start saving even in your teens and throughout the 20s and 30s and ways to free up enough money to do this (one: don’t live above your means!).  One resource some homeschooling moms of teens  use to discuss finance are the free materials from  The Actuarial Foundation.   Such things as developing a budget and the use of credit (or not) can also be discussed.  Credit ratings for buying a home is another area of interest.   The other point we have been talking about includes all types of insurance.  Many parents discuss car insurance with their teen drivers, but often don’t talk about homeowners insurance, medical insurance, life insurance ( and the difference between whole and term insurance), disability insurance, and long-term care insurance.  We plan to use the personal finance things in eleventh grade, so that should be interesting.

In the last few years my teen will be home, I also want to talk more about choosing a partner in life and the course of marriage. I find this is one area in which many women say they received absolutely no guidance other than they would date and fall in love…and from there, things were rather nebulous.  What traits should one look for in a spouse?  Why do some marital relationships fail over time and why do others thrive?   What boundaries should one have in intimate relationships?  What really does  make  a marriage thrive?  How do marriages change  if you have children?  Some resources I have found include the “Boundaries” book series, (this is  Christian, and I am certain there most be secular versions of this type of material).  The Gottman Institute also has a number of good articles on their blog and in their books regarding this subject.  I also have plans to discuss some of the concepts in this article and some things about narcissism  as many women my age are telling me they are married to narissists or have identified their own fathers as one.

The other area of focus I am also thinking about recently  includes child development, developing a family culture, taking care of a home, and how to guide children by developmental stage.  This is, of course, something that has been modeled all of these years, but I think it is important to say it in words and to really talk about it.  We will be doing health this year, so  some of these facets  will be part of our health class.

I would love to hear what you are talking about to your teen lately!  If you have found any great articles or resources that would be a terrific springboard for discussion with daughters, I would love to hear about it!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Celebrating August

I love August; not only is it my birthday month, but it is a month of beautiful shooting stars (and this year a solar eclipse!).  It is a time of blue skies,  pebbly beaches, starry nights and campfires, lake days, sunflower, lavender, and bees and honey.  I can sit outside and watch the hummingbirds and dragonflies and enjoy the loud sounds of many frogs and toads, and find grasshoppers and giant praying mantises.  Summer is at its peak around here! Continue reading

Homeschooling From Rest: The Morning Routine

One of the biggest challenges in homeschooling multiple children is coming to homeschooling from a place of rest, and holding rest as a value throughout the school year.  I wrote post about this subject with some suggestions, and today I would like to focus on the morning routine and having a beautiful morning

I think if you want peace in your home, then you have to think about the morning routine.  It is hard to get up and have children or other household members bombarding you with things they need before you are barely awake and not ready to face the day!  Many homeschooling parents do not consider themselves morning people, so I think the morning routine could be even more important in these cases because it is much easier to be more of a morning person if the morning goes well.

So, the creation of a beautiful morning requires some reflection. Many of my readers co-sleep with children, so everyone is up at the same time, but if you have the luxury, it is nice to think about what time you would like to be with your children and start the day.  What would peace in the morning look like for you – does it mean you need to prepare things the night before? get up before others in your family?  start your day with exercise or meditation or prayer and then deal with people?  take a family walk first thing?  Only you, as the architect of your family, can decide these things. Every family is different,and I think it is important to explore what works for you personally.

 

Here are possibilities to consider for the morning outside of care for others:

Spiritual tasks – prayer, meditation, yoga, gratitude journaling

Physical tasks – exercise, drinking lemon water, eating a nourishing meal

Mental tasks – looking at the day ahead,  setting forth ideas and intentions about the day that is beginning, list top one to three priorities to accomplish for the day

I would love to hear about your morning wake-up times and how you structure your morning routine!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

The Amazing Birthday

Above my head the stars do shine

Each star is like a flame,

And one is mine, that o’er me shone

When to this earth I came.

Upon this Earth my step is firm,

The stones are ‘neath my feet

I see the birds and beasts and flowers,

And loving people greet.

And every year the day returns

When my star shineth bright,

And I receive within my heart

The glory of its light.

-from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide”, page 130

Birthdays  in the Waldorf tradition for small children often involve a cape and a crown, lovely homemade cupcakes that are not too sugary, wishes from others for the development of character traits or the simple things in life, simple gifts of unusual stones, shells, flower petals.  It may involve a story of the child’s birth.  As the years go by, the cape and crown and simple gifts may recede, but the sentiments remain the same.

Today is my birthday, and I find it is an amazing day full of gratitude.  I am so grateful for all the things I learned in the last year, even the hard things!  I am grateful to be here for yet another birthday (47 today!), and grateful my husband has celebrated 29 birthdays with me.

Being in the late 40’s is empowering.  The crisis of 35-42 is gone, and I find these late 40s  on the cusp of a new cycle to be one of imagination, newness, warmth, and confidence.  I am so looking forward to this year and to 49 next year – the beginning of a new seven year cycle of 49-56 which I hope will bring more fun, more adaptability and humor.  My husband expressed to me this morning that life is a journey and how we enjoy the ride together.  This may sound like a cliche, but not at our age.  There are so many new possibilities to be open to, and the ability to grow and change together.  I have ideas just flowing into my head lately, and hope to be able to make at least a small part of them reality!

I hope when you have your birthday, you remind yourself of your own special energy, your own special thing that you bring to this short walk on earth, the wonderful gifts that you bring, and all the possibilities that life has for you.  It should be no less special to have  birthday when we are fifty  than when we are four.  Let us not forget!

Many blessings to you, my friends, and thank you for reading here.

Carrie

Creating A Waldorf Home

Today I submitted our Declaration of Intent to our state to homeschool for another year.  Tenth, seventh, and second grade here we come!  Eleven years of homeschooling! Eleven years of Waldorf at home!

What really makes a Waldorf home or a Waldorf homeschooling experience? Many families who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling and in creating a Waldorf home post on Facebook groups and in forums about creating a Waldorf environment in the home and seem much more interested in adding wooden toys and silks and such to their homes in an effort to make a Waldorf environment.  I have written about this numerous times before on this blog, and I call this the “hands stage” of Waldorf homeschooling.  It is the making of things, and the toys,  that attract many without understanding much depth about Waldorf Education in general.  This is not a bad thing, as this can morph into a greater feeling and thoughtfulness in understand the “why’s” of Waldorf Education in the future.

However, I believe that whilst wooden toys and silks are wonderful and good, it doesn’t take a lot of money to have a Waldorf home focused on simplicity and love.  This is especially true as children age and the days of wooden toys and silks, (although still loved, because who doesn’t love beauty?), are gone.  The basis of rhythm and some of the fundamentals of the Waldorf home still remain.

Some of the favorite things that I identify with a Waldorf home include:

Connection.  If the heart of Waldorf Education in a school is about the social organism that the class becomes, Waldorf homeschooling is about the connection between family members and between family members and the community in which we live. It means developing compassion and kindness for all people; this extends throughout all ages and is a constant source of inner work for adults.

Rhythm.  If one plans rhythm from your family values and according to the needs of all family members, rhythm is something that sustains you throughout all the years. Many of us still have baking day with teens in the house that we held when our children were tiny.  The rhythm doesn’t have to change too much throughout the years, so long as you keep to…

Simplicity.   In terms of time, this means making time for what matters.  Simplicity is a key of Waldorf homemaking, so we can say no to things, even good things, and have time for the things that mean the most to us as a family.  With the  issue of things, it means valuing re-using, recycling, upcycling, and hand making things.

Boundaries. Rhythm and simplicity is also about boundaries, which is an important part of Waldorf Education that many parents overlook. Boundaries help our tiny children grow into self-assured young men and women who are differentiated from us and who can live life purposefully.  Boundaries are not arbitrary, but based upon the understanding of the human being.

Low to no media, and I would add for older teens (high school), being able to see a computer or other tech for what it is – a tool.   Again, this doesn’t have to change a lot with teens in the house.  Tech can still be used and loved but also limited for time or content for the sake of balance, because even adults can have a hard time getting their footing with tech and phones.  Again, working with these things requires a knowledge of the development of the human being.

Nature.  Whilst many children become more sedentary the older they become, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Providing opportunities to be outside many hours a day, working hard and playing hard, is something totally adaptable from tinies up through teenagers.

Work.  Waldorf education not only values practicality and hand-making, but an experiential, working approach to life.  Instead of just sitting and watching, the Waldorf home is about doing.  We all take care of our home, each other, and our animals and plants because we are all connected.

Flexibility and problem-solving, being able to do positive, purposeful things for ourselves and others, clear thinking, creativity, kindness, compassion and connectedness are just a few things that become the foundation of character of children raised in Waldorf homes. This, to me, is the heart of the Waldorf home.

Much love to you all,

Carrie

 

 

 

Rhythm Is Peace

Rhythm can sound like that elusive thing.  Sure, other families can have a rhythm and routine to their day, but it seems so unattainable, some parents say.  Yet most parents I know desperately WANT a rhythm and routine in their household.  They want things to run peaceably and they know rhythm is a key to that; it is indeed a key to the functioning of the human body!  Just imagine if our heart decided to beat irregularly or our lungs just decided to not breath for a few minutes. Rhythm is the well spring of life, for the body and the soul.

The top five reasons some mothers have told me they just cannot get a rhythm for their family going, even though they want to:

  1. “I hate rigidity” – A rhythm can be flexible; it can have a flow to it without times attached to it. Rhythm actually helps you be MORE flexible because what is essential to getting done will get done and you will have more time for sponaneous helping of neighbors and for having fun!
  2. “I am unorganized” – All the more reason to have a rhythm; rhythm is a great collector of the soul. A rhythm will help you and your family feel safe, secure, and grounded.
  3. “I am so stressed out” – Rhythm helps take away much of your stress because it acts as an aid to rest and sleep, an aid to gentle discipline, an aid to getting the essential things done, and an aid to helping you take care of yourself.
  4. “I can’t get a rhythm until X, Y,Z changes” – Rhythm is for where you are right here and right now!  Things may not be perfect in your life or in your home environment, but having a rhythm come first can be a big help in taking baby steps toward other goals because you can build time toward these goals in your rhythm.
  5. “I am always behind and can’t get ahead”- Rhythm is a great help in order to break things up into small bits and pieces that feel mother-sized, rather than overwhelming.

I find an easy place to start is often with rising times and going to bed times, and then build rhythm from there.  Some families find it easier to start with meal times.  Whatever the case, you can start small and tailor it to your own family.  Baby steps!

May this be the season of rhythm and renewal for you!

Blessings,
Carrie