The Antibacterial Movement: Are We Destroying Our Immune Systems?

Here’s a confession for you: I HATE washing my hands. Don’t worry, I do it after I go to the bathroom, or when I’m cooking, but I’m just generally not an avid hand-washer. I don’t carry around hand sanitizer- I do have a small bottle of all-natural sanitizer from CleanWell, but it’s lasted me about 3 years. Places that I do wash my hands often (home, kitchen, office) I only use all-natural, preferably homemade or small-batch soaps that don’t contain weird ingredients. I don’t know what it is, but generic, chemical-laden hand soap and sanitizers just are NOT my thing!

Given this little quirk, when a friend suggested writing about hand-washing and antibacterial stuff, I jumped on the subject. Maybe there’s something behind my personal vendetta against germ killers? Turns out, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be…

The first thing I came across was this FDA page about Triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial hand soaps and sanitizers. The page states that “the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.” Hmm. Okay, so the FDA says there’s not really a benefit. Interesting.

Then, there’s this troubling recent article that actually details the history of triclosan as an antimicrobial ingredient. The article references “recent animal studies of triclosan [that] have led scientists to worry that it could case hormone-related problems in humans including an increase the risk of infertility and early puberty”. Additionally, the article discusses the original draft of ingredients allowed in soaps and cleaners, which “stated that triclosan was ‘not generally recognized as safe and effective,’ because regulators could not find enough scientific research demonstrating its safety and effectiveness.The FDA published several drafts of the guidelines over the years, but the agency never finalized the results. So, companies have not had to remove triclosan from their products.” This is a little worrisome to me.

While the FDA is expected to begin definitive studies on triclosan any time now, they have already missed their target start date several timers, so…I’ll read it when I see it.

Next, I found this minutes report from an the 2000 American Medical Association Annual Meeting.  At this meeting, the AMA reccommended that “the use of common antimicrobials [triclosan being named as one in the previous paragraph]for which acquired resistance has been demonstrated in bacteria as ingredients in consumer products should be discontinued”. Clearly, nobody listened to the AMA, but here it is- they express their concern that we are creating different strands of microbes that will then be resistant to antibiotics.  Essentially, that antibacterials/microbials are causing more harm in the long run than they are good.

I don’t know about you, but the FDA and the AMA are pretty big sources to be actually speaking out against making something- usually, if they lean a certain way, it’s unfortunately towards a money-making product. Needless to say, these articles got my attention.

As I continued researching, I found some more interesting articles. This one, from Mother Earth News, discusses another popular antimicrobial agent, triclocarbon or TCC, which is also a pesticide- which, thanks to it’s prevalence in hand soaps, is now contaminating our water systems and, therefore, much of large-scale agriculture. The article also discusses how triclosan “known to promote the growth of resistant bacteria, including E. coli”. Okay, no. Gross.

The kicker, for me, is this study from 2006 of mice and rats- some kept in a dirty sewer, and some kept in a sterile laboratory. The study showed that “the wild mice and rats had as much as four times higher levels of immunoglobulins, yet weren’t sick, showing an immune system tuned to fight crucial germs, but not minor irritants…what happened in the lab rats is what likely occurs in humans: their immune systems have got it so cushy they overreact to smallest of problems.” Essentially, the study concluded that the mice and rats that were continually exposed to different microbes were able to fight off sicknesses when stimulated, while the lab-kept mice and rats got much more sick when stimulated, because their immune systems weren’t used to having to do any work.

So, where do we go from here? This recent ABC news article discusses the importance of germs, and how normal, “older cleansers such as soap and hot water, alcohol, chlorine bleach and hydrogen peroxide are sufficient for most purposes…strong antibacterial cleaners are needed only when someone in a household is seriously ill or has low immunity.” Furthermore, the article discusses the importance of bacterial exposure in children, citing an Italian study that concluded that “exposure to bacteria is essential for development of an infant’s immune system. He says a baby must be exposed to germs during its first year in order to develop antibodies needed to fight infection later in life”. So, germs are not just good, they are essential for preparing our children for their future health.

My Bottom Line: We use homemade soaps and cleaners, or soaps and cleaners that we know the ingredients of, whenever possible. Yes, I bring my own soap to my office. When in a public restroom, I opt to use my all-natural hand sanitizer rather than the generic anti-microbial soap offered from the dispenser. I’ve even been known to carry around a tiny tupperware container with a sliver of soap from home. Am I going to be a germaphobe mom? Probably not, because honestly, I’m not afraid of germs- I recognize their importance to our immune systems and want my children to be strong and healthy. I know that regular exposure to common germs, in addition to a diet that supports their bodies rather than breaking them down, is pivotal for my children’s health. If someone is very ill or immunocompromised, of course there are precautions to take. I’m just not convinced that they need to include triclosan or TCC…

Rivaling Philosophies: Do Infants EVER Sleep, Anyway?

Sleep Solutions: Which to Choose? via Feed Me MamaPerhaps one of the most aggressive arguments between passionate parents is that surrounding the sleep schedules of an infant.  Is it best to allow the baby to nurse on demand, or co-sleep, each night? Or is it best to have the child cry themselves to sleep, teaching them to self-soothe?  As a soon-to-be mama, it didn’t take me long to figure out that people who align themselves with one side usually think that those on the other side are psycho or, at the very least, not making the best decision for their child.  Not wanting to end up on anyone’s wrong side from the get-go, I decided to read both books associated with this dilemma: On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.

First, we will start with Babywise, as it is known in parenting circles. This book details the first weeks and months of a baby’s life, and teaches the parents how to “sleep train” their babe, with an end goal of sleeping through the night. “Crying it out”, as the other side would affectionately call it, is the main method of training here: teaching the infant to self soothe, learning their place in the family and becoming a routined individual.

Next, we have The No Cry Sleep Solution (we’ll call it NCSS). While NCSS does allow for some crying (given that the infant may just be colicky or trying to express a need), for the most part this is a much more gentle, time-consuming way of teaching the infant to sleep soundly. Most of the techniques are “baby specific”, meaning, you analyze how your baby is naturally soothed (be it touch, sound, nursing, co-sleeping, etc) and cater to those needs, while teaching baby that being alone and falling asleep without those cues is ok. This philosophy aligns itself with what is known as “attachment parenting”.

So, what’s the difference?

First of all, sleeping through the night is defined differently. While Babywise never gives an actual hour amount, it’s assumed that 8-12 hours is what most people are aiming for, and Babywise all but guarantees this result within the first 4-ish months of baby’s life. NCSS, on the other hand, defines sleeping through the night as 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is also how the AAP defines it. This is a much shorter time frame, shorter than many parents are aiming for. However, NCSS shows that many babies will sleep longer using their techniques.

Secondly, the focus of each philosophy is different. While NCSS puts the baby and their comfort in the center, Babywise instead seeks to teach the baby their role in the family structure and their place in the routine. Especially in Christian circles, I have seen Babywise favored, because it inherently teaches submission and that the world does not revolve around the child. While I am not sure that such an idea is really grasped by the infant, I do understand that ‘the child always getting what they want’ can lead to a slippery slope in parenting.

Thirdly, and perhaps most obviously, the techniques for getting baby to sleep are really quite different. While Babywise focuses almost exclusively on allowing the child to self-soothe in whatever manner they choose, NCSS allows the parent to actively identify what works best with their baby and individualize their plan according to those cues.

Okay, then what’s the same about these guys?

Maybe more than you realize. Both philosophies stress having grace with both yourself and the baby, knowing that they plan doesn’t work every night and sometimes you have to abandon it for your own sanity and rest. Both books also emphasize making sure that all of the baby’s needs are met– crying, after all, is the baby’s only method of communication, so it’s important to make sure that the baby is full, dry, etc before putting to bed, as well as make sure that the baby’s sleeping area is completely safe.

Both books also give a lot of practical advice that isn’t necessarily exclusive to their philosophy. For example, Babywise teaches that, the best you can manage, you should try to nurse your baby as soon as they wake (rather than to sleep) so that they don’t form a sucking habit to get themselves to sleep. Similarly, NCSS includes many safety measures to look for in the baby’s area, including a great section on safe co-sleeping.

So, what do I think?

Truth be told, I really can’t align myself with “a side” until I meet my baby. I don’t really want to align myself with a side anyway! I think it’s a little petty, but if something works for your family, then hey, go for it! While I do tend to align myself more with many attachment parenting philosophies, I have known wonderful families that abide by each of these schools of thought, and nobody has damaged their children or ruined bonding or made selfish individuals because of it. I think there are both drawbacks and benefits to each book, as well as ways that each school of thought could be abused. So, I’m waiting it out. We’ll see how our little girl is and we’ll take it from there.

Did you follow either of these methods with your baby? Are you now? Would you keep it the same or do things differently?

Can you REALLY get enough protein without consuming meat?

protein postOne of the main tenants of the Bradley Method, and really pregnancy as a whole, is the importance of nutrition. The Bradley Method recommends that expectant mothers consume at least 80-100 grams of protein per day! Now, I am not much of a meat eater (except for our family’s venison and some grass-fed cow we were gifted with this year, and that only on occasion) so this task seemed completely daunting to me. But, of course, this was my homework for the week- to calculate my average protein consumption. Boy, was I surprised with the results!

Here’s my journal for the day:

4:00 AM (yes, seriously, every night around this time I wake up ravenous)
Bowl of gluten-free cereal: 4 grams
Organic milk: 8 grams

8:30 AM
One slice whole grain bread: 5 grams
2 Tablespoons sunflower seed butter: 5 grams
2 tablespoons chia seeds: 6 grams

12:00 PM
One can organic tomato soup: 4 grams
Two slices of whole grain bread: 10 grams
Three slices pepperjack cheese: 15 grams

3:30 PM
One SERVING Popcorn: 4 grams
1.5 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast: 8 Grams

6:00 PM
Baked Quinoa- estimating, but by quinoa consumption alone at least 12 grams
more if including cheese consumption as well
Stir-fried yellow squash- 1 gram

7:30 PM
Pumpkin muffin from panera during Bible Study (oops): 7 grams! surprise!

9:30 PM
Large glass of milk- 8 grams

TOTAL FOR THE DAY: 97+ grams of protein- and NO meat!

Avoiding meat is not my goal- I just wanted to challenge myself and see if I could eat nutritiously all day and still maintain the levels that I need. It was much easier than I thought! Snacking and eating more frequent, smaller meals is encouraged during pregnancy, so this definitely helps.

One thing I did notice is that much of the protein came from carbs- whole grain bread, gluten free cereal- while this is alright in moderation, having a carb-heavy diet can sometimes lead to gestational diabetes, so it should be avoided when possible. This is where meat, dairy, and veggies come into play.

Still unsure about getting adequate protein without eating meat? Think about this: pound-for-pound, the strongest mammal on earth is the Gorilla- which is an herbivore 🙂

The Diapering Decision: Why We Are Choosing Cloth

diapersOver the past few months, I have developed a serious diaper obsession. Call me crazy, becauseI know that’s what most parents dread about having a newborn, but I can’t stop thinking about diapers! Maybe not the diapers you’re used to, though. Cute ones. Reusable, good for the planet, will last until potty training ones. Cloth Diapers!

I have to be honest, this was a pretty easy decision for us. I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago who has two children and she told me how convicted she was feeling about using disposable diapers, and how she wanted to make the switch to cloth. I completely understand! Financially, thinking about spending $3,000+ on diapers for one child that would just get thrown in a landfill and would surround that precious bottom in chemicals makes me feel sick (see this article on chemicals in diapers). Even spending a bit more to get a responsible brand of diapers with less chemicals still didn’t seem environmentally responsible to us. We try to create the least amount of waste that we can in our home already, and we don’t want to change that once our baby girl arrives! Most importantly, we believe that each dollar given to us is one that we should spend to build the Kingdom, and I just can’t spend those dollars on things doing straight into a landfill. This is a conviction that the Lord has placed strongly on my heart to be part of my role as a graceful homemaker.

At the onset, cloth diapering is completely overwhelming. There are SO MANY different kinds of diapers you can choose from- different styles, from prefolds (the old-fashioned thing your mom and grandma think of while reading this) to pockets to all-in-ones (AIOs). Within each style there are countless brands at all different price points and made of different materials. It’s easy to get super confused and want to run for the nearest pack of pampers!

Here’s some suggestions: read up! Here’s a few blogs that were helpful to me in the beginning:
CLOTH DIAPERING 101 via View Along The Way
10 REASONS TO CLOTH DIAPER via Nourishing Joy
6 REASONS THAT CLOTH IS BETTER via Mama Natural
CLOTH DIAPER ESSENTIALS via Modern Alternative Mama
WHY WE CLOTH DIAPER via Wellness Mama

The other intimidating factor with cloth diapering is the price point. Cloth diapering is an investment! For pocket diapers (what we have chosen to stock up on), you will spend anywhere from $8-30 for a brand new diaper. One diaper. That’s crazy, right? Maybe so…but we have found ways around it and built ourself a nice stash that will last us all the way through potty training.

Find discount websites. Zulily runs great specials on cloth diapers! The BEST ones that we have bought new have been from there, and they are routinely half the retail price (so, around $10), come with all the accessories, and are completely adorable. Ebay can also get you great deals, as can overseas distributors- though, we choose to stay away from those because of labor standard concerns (full disclosure, I did buy a cheap pack of Chinese ones in the beginning, and I feel really bad about it now).

Don’t be afraid of used diapers! This was a game changer for me. Cloth diapers have to be taken care of very well, washed with specific detergents and almost always line (or at least gentle) dried. Moms know the investment that goes into these diapers, and they are good stewards of their possessions! Diapers also get put through a sterilization process called “stripping”, which many moms do before selling. Therefore, I have built a significant portion of my diaper stash by purchasing used diapers that are in very good or excellent condition- often only worn a few times. Craigslist can provide some of these for you, but the most reputable site I have used is DiaperSwappers. Moms are very honest about the condition of diapers and you can get great deals! Here’s just some of the brands I now have in my stash, thanks to Diaper Swappers:

Green Mountain Diapers
Little Bee Co
Bum Genius
Charlie Banana
Thirsties Duo
Rumparooz
Happy Heiny
Awesome Blossom

Many of these retail for $20+, but I never paid more than $10 for one diaper (and that was only one), and that was with shipping. All in all, I have about 25 diapers ready to go, and I have invested about $175 in a stash that will diaper at least 2 children through potty training. Much better than the cost of disposables, no matter how many kids we have! While this number will definitely last us, I have still registered for some more diapers- the more you have, the longer they will last, as they will be in a bigger rotation.

The best part about these diapers (ok, maybe not the best, but you get the idea) is that they can be resold AGAIN when we are done with them for about 50-75% of what I paid for them, making the investment even more worthwhile. Keep the cuteness while you need it, then make some money back!

Lastly, you could make your own!  If you are crafty, making your own diapers and accessories might be very easy for you, lowering your costs even more AND letting you create exactly the diaper you want! Prefolds are easy enough to sew, but there’s patterns even for the most intricate all-in-one or pocket styles. I can’t sew worth a lick but I hope to learn this fall, and at least make some good flannel wipes and some insert/doublers. Here’s some good sites to get started:

DIY Diaper Inserts via Rusty Cookie Cutter

DIY Diaper Detergent via The Eco Friendly Family

DIY Diaper Patterns via Keeper of the Home and via Northern Baby

Have you tried cloth? Are you interested? What questions do you have?

Happy Diapering,

Karli

Pregnancy & The Beauty of Grace

Hello again, friends!

As you can see clearly by scrolling down for about 5 seconds, I haven’t blogged at all since before I was pregnant.  The past six months have been a roller coaster for me health-wise, beginning with a scary month of medical testing that ended with my right ovary and fallopian tube being removed, continuing on to miraculously getting pregnant less than a month later, and…well, here we are, almost 22 weeks along with our sweet baby girl!

ULTRASOUND

When I found out I was pregnant, I had grand plans of continuing my health and exercise plans all the way through my pregnancy- juicing each morning, whole foods at each meal, yoga three times a week, basically chaturanga-ing my way to the birth of my child.  Boy, was I in for a surprise! While I felt excellent for the first few weeks, around 5.5 weeks I woke up with nausea and vomiting and literally didn’t stop until 13 weeks- no matter what hour of the day. If I so much as thought about juice, vegetables, or exercise I would throw up.  All my body could handle was carbohydrates and dairy, normal “nausea killers” made my nausea worse, and it was really all I could do to get out of bed in the morning.  It was honestly hard not to feel depressed or tell myself that I was a bad mother– I wanted so desperately to be giving my baby the active, healthy mom that she deserved, but my body quite literally couldn’t handle it.

I think that’s the first big lesson I learned through pregnancy- grace abounds! It didn’t matter that I laid on the couch all day and more or less subsisted on organic spaghetti-o’s (I promise I only ate organic ones!), my baby was still growing strong and healthy, and my nutrient levels remained optimal. When I was too tired to even stand through one song during Sunday morning worship, the Lord met me as I journaled, seated in the back of the sanctuary where I could run to the bathroom if needed.  And by the time I was able to return to my yoga practice in the second trimester, I found that much of my strength and flexibility remained.  Grace.

BANANA

Throughout my pregnancy, I have really struggled with trusting the Lord to provide for Matt and I, particularly as we look forward to next year when our sweet girl arrives.  Many of the decisions that we have made regarding care for our daughter, or things that we want to strive for, are not the cheapest options, though we are confident in our choices and that the Lord will bless them.  But I really can’t pretend that I haven’t been plagued with the thought that maybe I can’t be the mother that I feel I should be because I don’t have the money to buy the quality of things I think are best for her.  This has led to all kinds of sin in my heart- jealousy, bitterness, frustration, not trusting the Lord. And yet, as the weeks have gone by, I have seen time and time again where the Lord has provided these things for us- many things I thought I would never be able to have, like a wooden high chair, baby carriers, or cloth diapers.  He has eased my mind along with this, revealing my sins and showing me that His grace and love is the best standard for what a mother should be, and that I will rob myself of joy if I hold myself to any other standard, no matter how rational it may seem.  He has taught me to be honest in my weaknesses, that His strength may be made perfect instead.

All of this to say- I have learned, and am certainly still learning, a lot about myself, the Lord, and motherhood! There are SO MANY decisions to make, and sometimes trying to navigate all of the options is overwhelming and scary, particularly when trying to make sound, Christlike decisions that reflect a respect for the body and for creation.  I hope to walk through my pregnancy health experience, book reading,  and decision-making on this blog in the next few months as I continue to learn through the Lord’s grace.  I welcome your advice, opinions, and experiences, as I pray that you welcome mine.  I hope that you, or maybe someone you know, will be encouraged, challenged, or enlightened.  Above all, I pray that you see the Love that is the standard for all I am striving for, and that we might point one another to His likeness!

Humbly Yours,
Karli

Help Me! Detox

One of the most important tools of a health regimen is the knowledge and time to detoxify. I do think that this is important in all aspects of life, but doing a cleanse for your body is something that can’t be approached lightly or without planning. I’ve found some great resources and have been through detoxes a few times now, and I want to share my experiences with you today!

These days, we are completely bombarded with toxins and things that don’t belong in our bodies- from the food we eat to pollution in the air to what we use to clean our homes, its virtually inescapable. Especially during the holidays, its so attractive to try to ‘get away from it all’- well, with a cleanse, you can give your body the break that it has been craving.

While you can go into virtually any store and buy a boxed ‘detox’ or ‘cleanse’ these days, I am a firm believer that the most effective way to cleanse and rebuild your body is by carefully choosing food and placing exercise over a controlled amount of time. My detoxes usually consist of juicing whole fruits and vegetables for one or two meals per day and eating freshly prepared meals for the rest of the day- avoiding dense carbs (breads and pastas), dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and meat. It seems like a lot, but it is amazing how quickly the body adjusts and heals itself in just 3-5 days. It resets the digestive system, cleanses the lymph system and clears mucous membranes, increases energy, and boosts the immune system.

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If you are new to juicing, be sure to read up on how to juice certain fruits and vegetables, and what tastes good together. For example- anything with grapefruit will be very sour! For just starting out, stick with a mostly vegetable based mix, with a fruit or two to your taste. One of my favorites is Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Spinach, Apple, and Orange. If you don’t have a juicer, you can buy frozen fruits and puree them in a blender or food processor, and throw some spinach in there for good measure (don’t worry, you can’t taste it). As for your other food, stay simple, but remember: spices are a great tool, as many spices have great health benefits. Try to avoid salting food if possible.

This is what a typical day looks like for me during cleanse:

On Rising: Hot water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne (I do this daily- alkalizes the body, stimulates digestion, and aids in detoxification, among other benefits)

Breakfast: Fresh juice, sometimes mixed into a smoothie. Juice what you can, then add in whole things that are hard or unnecessary to juice to a blender- bananas, berries, avocadoes, spinach. I also add in supplemental whole foods- whole raw oats, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, and powdered cinnamon and ginger. Puree it all together and you have yourself a powershouse!

Exercise: yoga, swimming, pilates, or light running (helps continue cleansing)

Immediately after workout: homemade protein ball for muscle recovery (or, sub banana and natural nut butter- avoid commercial protein bars)

Lunch: Another juice smoothie, or a green salad with fresh vegetables and oil/vinegar dressing, or a homemade vegetable soup

Dinner: Roasted or steamed veggies, fruit salad, vegetable soup, quinoa with veggies, homemade chickpea curry with quinoa, brown rice with spices

Evening: Detox Bath

Before bed: Caffeine-free tea, such as lavender, chamomile, or senna leaf

Throughout the day, I make sure to drink lots of water and several cups of herbal tea. There are special detoxification blends of tea that can further your process. Some people like to use a gentle laxative tea before bed each night to help with cleansing the digestive system the next day. Traditional Medicinals makes a readily available Senna Leaf tea that doesn’t taste terrible and gets the job done- they also have a good Everyday Detox blend.

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My favorite part of the day is bathtime! I have a beautiful, ancient clawfoot tub that I put to good work in this apartment. Here’s my recipe for the best detox bath, swish it all around and stay in as long as possible:

2 cups Epsom salts

At least 1 cup baking soda (more if you want!)

10 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender oil

A teaspoon of powdered ginger

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When exiting the tub, be slow and careful- the detox bath can (and does) make you a wee bit lightheaded if you get out too fast. But, that’s how you know its working!

Another thing I like to add in daily are some quick but effective yoga poses. The best and easiest for detoxification are seated spinal twists– sitting on the floor, turn your head over your shoulder and continue to twist your body as far as comfortable, using the opposite hand to the knee to further the stretch. This causes a sort of ‘wring-out’ effect on the major organs- much like you wring out a dishrag- and allows for fresh blood flow. I also like to end my days with a simple, relaxing inversion– lay on the floor, hips to the wall with legs going up the wall, so that your body makes a 90 degree angle. Stay as long as comfortable and enjoy the relaxing effect!

Repeat this, or a personal variation, each day for 3-7 days. Don’t be surprised if, for the first few days, you feel some ill effects– sluggishness, headaches, a touch of nausea, indecisive bowels. This is very normal, and will be heightened depending on how drastic a change the cleanse is from your everyday diet. Cleanses draw out and remove toxins from our bodies- toxins that will make us feel icky until they are gone. By day 3 you will start feeling much, much better! But, remember that even if you can only cleanse for one day, your body will still be healthier than it was if you weren’t cleansing at all!

Make-Up Musts

You guys, let’s get real here: The stuff make-up is made of these days is straight up scary. Crazy synthetic chemicals, bug parts, animal byproducts, plastics, carcinogens, petroleum- no thank you. I’d rather face the world the way I was born than slather myself in those harmful things! Thankfully, there are many companies doing a great job making eco-friendly, healthy, sustainable cosmetics for us to enjoy. Today, I want to share my own collection with you. Hopefully you’ll get some good ideas of what is out there!

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Facial wash– I recently started doing oil and water cleansing, which has done wonders for my skin. Admittedly, I don’t really struggle with acne, and because I have used natural products for a long time, I don’t deal with too much skin irritation either. Usually I just wash my face with warm water, and massage in coconut oil while I’m in the shower, which gently pulls out impurities, moisturizer, and kills bacteria. Is type of cleansing can be adapted based on your skin type, too- different oil blends, different frequencies, etc. Here is a great article on oil cleansing.

FoundationPhysicians Formula Organics Tinted Moisturizer. I love this stuff because it’s very light, completely natural, and contains a healthy amount of SPF which is ESSENTIAL for your face. It comes in several shades and blends easily because of it’s lightweight, lotion like formula.

EyeshadowsNature Girlz. These are actually hand-me-downs from my mother, who didn’t care for the cream base. I, on the other hand, prefer to use my fingers to do my eye makeup, so I love these little pots! Made with natural dyes and a nourishing cream base, I love how these blend together. Best of all, they are really inexpensive!

MascaraLush Eyes Right. I absolutely love this stuff. Made with the least amount of preservatives on the market, it’s pretty pigment comes from a wheatgrass base that is actually nourishing for your lashes! Though the bottle is not the traditional shape, it contains much more mascara than the normal tube you’ve been buying. A bit on the pricey side, but worth it for the quality of product. It will last forever!

Lips– I have several favorites here. For Chapstick, I am loving my new Aubrey Organics Peppermint and Tea Tree stick, which is especially healing for the winter time. For lipstick, I frequently use Lush’s A Million Kisses, a gorgeous ruby red that has the same scent my toothpaste and is made with all natural pigments. Favorite gloss has to go to Mentha Organics, though I confess that there is probably a more natural, responsible option out there (Mentha is sold at Bath and Body Works, which doesn’t have the greatest rap for being socially responsible).

I have to admit that I am still searching for a good liquid eyeliner alternative, though I have high hopes for Lush’s emotional brilliance line when I get the money! For now, I am using Elf, which is cheap cheap cheap and probably a terribly irresponsible purchase, but hey, I have to be honest with you. I also am using Elf bronzer, until I can get home to make my own!

Over the winter, I am excited to be off the road and start crafting my own homemade cosmetics. What kinds of things would you like to be able to make yourself? May I can take the guesswork out of it for you!

Until then,
Karli

Solid Toothpaste?

One of the last things that I converted to “natural” branding was toothpaste. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m using all of these natural shampoos, lotions, soaps, but then I’m using conventional toothpaste? Is there even an option?”. For a while, there really weren’t any great options that were readily available to the public. Now, however, a trip to the nearest grocery store will often present you with a plethora of “natural” toothpaste options. Tom’s, Trader Joe’s, even Burt’s Bees are all producing their own lines of natural toothpaste in all the usual flavors. Add in the fluoride or no fluoride debate and picking a toothpaste can get a little overwhelming! Today, however, I want to introduce you to one product that is revolutionizing the toothpaste industry: the Toothy Tab.

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Lush products, having worked for the company and used their products for quite some time now. I have to admit, though- I was skeptical about these guys. Toothy Tabs are the world’s first solid toothpaste- comprised of baking soda, essential oils, and flavors, the tabs foam up as you chew them, giving you a great lather to brush your teeth with. I actually find that I can bite a tab in half and it’s plenty for me- and they last twice as long.

The abrasive nature of the baking soda makes this a safe and natural way to whiten teeth but remain gentle enough for sensitive smiles. The absence of water allows these tabs to be made preservative free, so you can be sure that you aren’t ingesting anything funky when you’re trying to get clean. Even better, Toothy Tabs come in a tiny, compostable box that allows for virtually no waste!

The best part of Toothy Tabs is the impressive and creative litany of flavors:

Sparkle- vanilla, lemon, and grapefruit
Chou Chou I Love You- rose and lemon
Dirty-spearmint and neroli
Atomic- coffee, cinnamon, and clove
Breath of God- sandalwood, vanilla, fennel
Ultrablast- mint and wasabi
Aquatic- earl grey, lime, and jasmine

While some of these may be too adventurous for your taste-literally!-Dirty is a great mint flavor that will please anyone (I can personally attest to this). While wasabi flavored toothpaste scares me to death, I am currently using rose and lemon flavored Chou Chou and it is incredible! I love the taste. I have also read testimonies of pregnant women who would get sick from minty toothpaste but tried these alternative flavors and were able to curb the morning sickness. Of course, any Lush store will be happy to give you a sample so you don’t buy one you hate. I want to try Sparkle next!

Sending fresh breath and pretty smiles your way,
Karli

Thoughts on Global vs. Local Trade

I have an inner dilemma that I have been battling for a while now: the question of whether to support global economies or focus on local economies. Brands like American Apparel have brought “made in the USA” to the forefront of our shopping brains, particularly in a season when sweatshops and child labor run rampant in most parts of the world. But shouldn’t we try to provide for our brothers and sisters overseas if we can, too?

This debate reached a head for me when I discovered that a shirt that my organization sells is manufactured in Haiti. My initial reaction was negative- we have been active in Haiti and have seen the conditions of work there, and the thought of promoting those environments sickened me. When I raised my concern, however, I was gently reminded that the company that we work with was committed to high ethical standards and that, because the shirts were made in Haiti, we were providing jobs and income to those people that we love, and helping their economy in perhaps the only way we could from a distance. My mind was eased.

My thoughts are further compounded when it comes to food- while I love eating with the seasons, purchasing local foods, and building relationships with farmers and craftsmen, I also really appreciate many foods that don’t grow locally and items that are manufactured in other parts of the company, or even the world. Things like coffee, chocolate, spices, and tea are cultivated well in certain parts of the world that I just don’t live in. As a responsible consumer, do I forgo these things, therefore saving carbon emissions due to shipping and dedicate myself to eating what my local community has to offer, or do I support these global markets, while perhaps putting the global economy on the back burner?

I don’t know what the answer is, but here are a few things that I am confident in:

-If you can buy something local, do it. Especially when it comes to food. Local farmers and culinary artisans depend on their local economy because, for the most part, they can’t export. Plus, you are getting a better quality food that you can be confident in- less preservatives, easier to check on gardening and farming operations, and good relationships with the people you are buying from.

-Fair trade is a beautiful thing. If you can’t get something locally, fair trade is a great way to ensure that your purchase from the global economy is something that you can be confident is building up global individuals and not causing any injustice along the way. There are many fair trade stores popping up now, such as the 10,000 Villages network, that make fair trade shopping feel like a breeze.

-Sweat shops are terrible. If you can’t guarantee that an item you are buying was made without blood on someone’s hands, you just shouldn’t buy it- at least not with a clear conscience. At times, this requires research not only into a store, but also a specific brand- but it is well worth it to know that you are using your money responsibly, and not to cause injustice.

-If there isn’t a good alternative, try making your own. This is especially helpful when it come to things that are really hard to research, such as cleaning products or cosmetics. There are so many ingredients in these items that its hard to say with confidence if a product is manufactured and sourced responsibly. However, there are countless way to replicate these items at home, where you can source the items yourself and be confident n the products you are using.

-Support your friends. Why buy a grocery store card made in who-knows-where when you have a friend that makes them for a living? Why buy a headband at Target when your friend is upcycling pieces and selling them on Etsy? Maybe you have friends that are photographers, or event planners, coffee roasters, stuffed animal makers, or jewelry designers. Show them love, and be loved in return.

-It is better to bow out of an economy than to stimulate a unjust one for lack of a better option. Thrift stores provide a way to purchase (many times with proceeds to a good cause) without giving any money back to the manufacturers. This can be a great place to find things that are difficult to source well, such as shoes, dressy clothes, or furniture.

While I wish that the answers were more cut and dry, I recognize that these thoughts are just part of the journey in being a Christlike consumer, and I certainly have not arrived at full understanding yet. We have to educate ourselves in order to use our money well- each dollar is a tool we are given to build the Kingdom, and we must take that seriously.

Film Review: The Business of Being Born

I think that, if I take an honest look into what sparked my interest in natural health, I can point to Matt and I’s decision to use The Fertility Awareness Method as a means of “birth control” when we first got married. I was fascinated with how I could be in tune with my body and how capable we can become with the right knowledge. This led into an interest in natural childbirth, which led me to….The Business of Being Born.

Now a cult favorite among crunchy moms everywhere, this documentary by Ricki Lake and friends was revolutionary in educating women on the healthcare industry’s claims on pregnant women and the options available to them should they choose to look. Many women (as Ricki did with her first pregnancy) go through their pregnancy assuming that induction, c-section, episiotomies, epidurals, and not eating during birth are completely necessary and unavoidable- but this documentary will show even the most skeptical woman that it simply isn’t true.

Ricki advocates for home-birth, birth centers, midwives, doulas, birthing pools, and a strict absence of medication and intervention. During the documentary, you will witness all of these things, so be prepared, it can be graphic at times. She uncovers many truths about the standard birthing industry, uses strong statistics to back her claims, and even documents her own home-birth experience for viewers. In addition, she shares the story of a colleague who attempted home-birth but had to be moved to a hospitalized in the end- a refreshingly honest look at the birth process.

This past year, Ricki and friends released a four-part follow-up series that delves deeper into the natural childbirth realm, entitled More Business of Being Born. Each episode takes an aspect of natural childbirth and breaks it down into more detail- should the first documentary leave you with questions, keep watching! These women are excited about their research and it comes through in the quality of their work.

While I don’t think that home-birth is for everyone (I am not sure that it’s even for me when that time comes), I do think that it’s good to consider every option when closing what is best for you and your child, and to be fully informed. These documentaries are great for helping women (and even men- Matt watched it, too!) ask questions that they might not think to ask, and rethink things that we have taken for granted about the process of growing a family. The best part- all of these documentaries can be viewed instantly on Netflix! Enjoy!