It’s not too late to decide to homeschool…

I saw this in the Miami Herald, and had to post a link. It makes a mommy want to cry…

We’re starting classes Monday–beginning our 8th official year of homeschooling. I’m working on our kick-off, the annual treasure hunt clues that will lead my girls to their new curriculum and literature books for 2010-11. How thankful I am, for these ‘thousands of hours’ with my sweet kids! I shudder to think of all we might have lost if not for homeschooling!

For instance, homeschooling is the perfect healing ground for family relationships. It’s a *must-adapt-and-get-along* atmosphere. If you were to pull your children out of public school today, would all the cats hit the fan? If so, it reveals the sad state of the relationships and habits  in and of the family.  Siblings can get along and even more, be best friends.  Children can love and respect their parents and genuinely seek to further God’s glory along with the family unit.  I might even go a step further and say that the Biblical model for educating our families looks a lot like homeschooling!

Maybe homeschooling is an option for you?

Favorite Healthy Toothpastes

Quick post on this subject…because I do believe oral health is directly related to overall general health.  Bacteria in the mouth, can lead to infections in the body.

When shopping for hygiene products, there are three COMMON ingredients we avoid where possible:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate–this is a main ingredient in most commercial shampoos, cosmetics, and toothpastes. In toothpastes, it’s been shown to cause a higher incidence of canker sores and that’s minor. Do your research!
  • Propylene Glycol–found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid, industrial antifreeze, paint, degreasers, wallpaper strippers and more… can cause liver dysfunction and kidney problems and more!
  • Fluoride–according to the Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, fluoride is more poisonous than lead, and just slightly less poisonous than arsenic. It is a cumulative poison that accumulates in bone over time. After hearing about young children dying from accidentally swallowing their fluoride treatments in the dentist’s chair, we request no fluoride at our appointments.I won’t even comment about it being in our water supply!

So in light of the above, it’s been important to me to find healthy alternatives to what is typically available at Wal-mart. Wal-mart does carry Tom’s of Maine brand toothpaste, which is a “natural” toothpaste with no fluoride…but it does contain propylene glycol.

We’ve found that our favorite commercial toothpaste is JASON Cosmetics brand Powersmile toothpaste, available through the Frontier co-op site and some health food stores. Vanilla Mint is the BEST tasting toothpaste I’ve had in all my 35 years. It’s amazing, for the whole family. This toothpaste boasts the following:

  • Certified organic ingredients
  • Natural flavor
  • Exclusive natural whiteners
  • Bacteria-blaster promotes healthy gums
  • Long lasting breath freshener
  • No fluoride
  • No saccharin
  • No preservatives
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • No animal by-products
  • No animal testing
  • no lauryl sulfates
  • No propylene glycol

Sounds perfect, huh. It’s the good stuff.

Make your own. :O) Now there’s a fresh idea!

However much we like and recommend JASON brand toothpastes…recently, we’ve been using plain ole baking soda to clean our pearly whites. It’s cheap, easy, and on hand. Wet the toothbrush, add a little baking soda (Bob’s Red Mill brand–aluminum free!), a single drop of wintergreen or peppermint essential oil (more than a drop will make your mouth burn!) and wow, your teeth look and feel like you’ve just been to the dentist for a cleaning. We’re hooked.

There are some great recipes online for homemade “tooth soaps”, kept in soap dispensers, which sound like a great way to contain the mess and squirt out however much you need w/o sharing germs.

So there you go, a few alternatives to name-brand toothpastes and all their potentially toxic ingredients!

More than you wanted to know? ;O)

Homemade Pizza Sauce

Here is my friend’s famous pizza sauce recipe, as per yesterday’s  request by “fellow midwesterner”!

First of all, to make pizza sauce, we start with tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce (taken from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving)

  • 45 lbs of tomatoes (paste tomatoes thicken up the best)
  • bottled lemon juice

Wash tomatoes; drain. Remove core and blossom. Cut into quarters; simmer 20 minutes in a large sauce pot, stirring occasionally. Puree tomatoes in a food processor or food mill.  Strain puree to remove seeds and peels.  Cook pulp in a large, uncovered sauce pot over med-high heat until sauce thickens, stirring to prevent sticking. Reduce volume by one-half. Add 1 TB bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, 2 TB to each quart jar. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 35 minutes, quarts 40 minutes, in a boiling water canner.

Okay. Once you have your tomato sauce, you can use it to make pizza sauce for the freezer! That recipe follows, but first:

***Be sure to read this paragraph!***

Notice that this pizza sauce recipe can be made with either store-bought tomato sauce plus tomato paste, or home-canned tomato sauce. If you use home-canned, make sure your home-canned sauce is thick by using paste tomatoes, and/or lengthening the time you cook your tomatoes before canning. The longer they cook, the thicker it gets, but your volume is also reduced.  So the following recipe assumes you will use store-bought sauce and tomato paste. If you use home-canned, thicker sauce, then you can eliminate buying tomato paste from the grocery store and use approx. 41 oz of home-canned sauce. If your home-canned sauce is not very thick, you may add the 12 oz can of tomato paste to it to thicken it, and keep to the 29 oz of tomato sauce. Hopefully that was clearer than mud.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

  • 1 can (29 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 TB Italian seasoning
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seed, crushed (optional–fennel seed has a unique taste, we don’t like it much)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sugar to taste (start tasting at 1-2 tsp)

We also add a little marjoram, basil, thyme–all of these taste good in Italian dishes. Play around with the spices that your family appreciates, and leave out the ones they don’t.  You may also leave the sugar out. We think it plays down the tangy-ness of the sauce.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine tomato sauce and paste. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cool. Pour into freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Freeze for up to 12 months.

This recipe also may be canned following the Ball’s Blue Book of Preserving directions for “seasoned tomato sauce” which says to add 1 TB bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, 2 TB bottled lemon juice to each quart jar. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 35 minutes, quarts 40 minutes in a boiling water canner.

This super yummy pizza sauce is extremely good with the following recipes:

Homemade Pizza Pockets

Homemade Pizza Dough

Where is God in this Mess?

Q: My family is going through a ‘bankrupt time’ physically and financially. Everything I used to think assured about our future—my children’s future—is now uncertain. My older teens are making choices that are taking them away from the church. I know this is just another pothole in life’s road, but I’m stuck, and every way out seems to take too much out of me. Where is God in this mess?

A: He’s there. You are not alone. This is a story I am hearing more and more as I talk to people. I’ve been through aspects of it myself. True, you are going through many challenges at once. True, you’ve had the breath knocked out of you. But even at the bottom, there’s light if you look up.

For the rest of this article, take a virtual trip over to Word Explain’s Parenting Q&A website!