Friday, January 30, 2015

8 Things I Learned in 8 Years of Marriage

Guess what, my lovely readers? I celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary this week. That's right, 8 incredible years of marriage. 8 incredible years. 8 years.

My regular readers may notice I don't write about my marriage too much on this blog. I keep it pretty hush hush....for good reason. My marriage is....hmmm, how do you say it....the most challenging aspect of my life. 

You might remember from my post, Crazy Hooker to Crazy....Homemaker?, my husband and I didn't meet the "traditional" way. We didn't take things slow. We didn't get to know each other by dating and maintaining a long engagement. Our relationship fired like a bullet from a gun and we ran with it. 

And we have, since the beginning of our marriage, dealt with the kickback. Each and every day.

We've had your standard arguments. 

You need to get up with the baby. Why did you leave the lint trap full? We have too much crap going on. We never do anything! I'll fix it when I get a minute. I thought you were paying on that loan? That is really, really loud. Calm down. I hate sour cream. 

Haha, can you guess who said what?

But we've also had very serious arguments....arguments most marriages try like hell to avoid. 

Are you drunk? I've realized you're just a negative person. You slept with someone else! Can you stop trying to change me? I don't want you to die. I thought you quit smoking? You'd be better off without me. Our child is afraid of you. Do you want to leave? I'm leaving. 

Yikes, right? It's not even fun to try guessing who said what with those statements.

I thought it was important to name names here and lay it all out as a preface to my lessons list. You just read the reality of my marriage. It is far, very far, from perfect. We didn't take a traditional route to get to love and we're not taking the traditional route to get to peace. But we're trying. And isn't that all any of us can ever do when faced with challenges? Try and learn as much as you can, then use it for the greater good?

So here's what I've gathered so far:

1. Marriage is compromise on steroids. 
One of the greatest life skills we'll ever learn is how to identify which battles to fight and how to negotiate during moments of war. Coffee rings on the table? Fine. Coffee grounds all over the wall? Not cool. Clean that stuff, man. If you clean the coffee grounds, I'll clean the coffee rings, ok? Yea. Simple, trivial example, but this is my life. Battle-picking and compromise. I'm not proficient yet...but I'm getting there.

2. The power of forgiveness is underestimated. 
Telling someone you forgive them does not weaken you, or make you a pushover, or signify an acceptance of abuse. Forgiveness is a gift to bestow upon those who harm you. It is a freedom you grant yourself. Don't let the opinions of others sway you from doing what you know is right.

3. People will judge your marriage more than they judge your home, clothes, job, or parenting.
I cannot tell you some of the things I've heard, both to my face and behind my back, about my marriage. It's natural for those who care about you to want nothing but the best for you. But the other fools? The ones who talk just to talk? The ones who form opinions without getting all the information? Those people have a name - ignorance. 

4. Marriage requires (and I mean absolutely requires) both participants to become experts in determining what they need....and then become fully capable of communicating it.
When bad things happen everyone wants to know why. How. What could I have done. It's my personal belief that every relationship, no matter how happy, how introverted, how stable, and how subtle, should go in for regular "need check-ups." Sometimes simply stopping and thinking about what you need in your relationship is enough to prevent tragedy.

5. You will encounter friends of the relationship and enemies of the relationship. 
My closest friends support my marriage. They don't need to like my husband, or agree with the things we fight about, or even enjoy being there for me when I cry, but they need to respect me. I'm a grown woman, a smart one at that, and unless I'm high off my ass or doing nothing to rectify my problems, they will stand by me. I've learned I need to hang with friends of my marriage if I want to maintain marital health.

6. If the biggest problem in your relationship is a toilet seat in the upright position, there is no problem. 
Perspective is everything. Just look at the toilet seat, Neo. There is no toilet seat. I mean really, people. If a toilet seat is what you fight about, I'm happy for you. It means you've officially got one of the most blessed relationships on earth. Congratulations. 

7. Just because you're married doesn't mean you won't get lonely. 
This one is so hard for me. I am a "quality time" love language (oh yea, I've read it. I've read them allllll, people). I want to spend genuine, heartfelt time with my spouse. If he spends his free time doing something without me, I feel I'm missing out. I've had to learn how to find my own moments of happiness without him. I joined a mom group. I joined a choir. I wrote a book. These are my intentional things. And wouldn't you know it? I'm happier because of is my husband.

8. Ultimatums can change...and even.....disappear.
When I was in college, I knew exactly what the man I would marry was going to be like. I knew what my marriage would look like each morning. I knew where my lines in the sand stood and what I would or would not allow. It's not wrong to have these expectations or ultimatums. Just be aware that once real life happens, it will kick those ultimatums right in the vagina. Nobody can predict what her final decision will be before actually experiencing the sequence of events leading up to the choice. Nobody. Not even me. Not even you. Not even Gandhi.

8 years. It may not sound like much to you, but to me, it's an accomplishment. 

Now I know my story is not the same as yours. Maybe you can relate to the arguments I wrote about up there in the beginning. Maybe you're disgusted by this whole post. Maybe you're worried. Maybe you're relieved. Regardless of how you feel about my admissions and hard-earned lessons, I truly hope this list will inspire some sort of resolution, comfort, or perspective in your life. If nothing else, at least promise me you'll have a glass of wine or a beer later in my honor. 

As always, my lovely, wonderful readers, thank you so much for reading.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why Replacing Facebook with Failbook Needs to Be a Thing

I joined this mom/woman/church group a while back. It meets twice a month. There's free food and childcare (translation: worth my time). At our most recent meeting, another mom spoke up about Facebook posts and it went something like this:

"Does everyone really need to know about every single milestone your baby reaches? I mean, I feel like every time I go on, my news feed is filled with achievements, like this baby rolled over, this one said another word, this one can read a dictionary. Moms of older kids, has this gotten worse over the past few years? I feel like it's getting worse! Is it getting worse? What is going on?"

Now this particular mom is one of my favorites. She is the sweetest, most articulate little thing this world's ever seen. Coming from her, this was somewhat of an outburst. I'd never heard her sound irritated. My heart ached for her. I knew what she was feeling.

She'd been sucked into the Facebook pit of doom.

We've all been there. Annoyed, irritated, and feeling like deactivating our accounts...tired of people and posts and pictures. On the surface, we say it's because we're just "tired of seeing it!"...but why are we truly tired of seeing anything our supposed "friends" post? What is it that's really driving us nuts and making us want to block people? Sometimes it's because friends and family don't always share our belief system (I can name at least 3 people who continually make me scream "MORON!" at the top of my lungs).

But I don't think my mom friend was talking about that. She wasn't bothered by the beliefs of the other moms. She wasn't saying they were idiots for hitting milestones. No, she was bothered by the perceived boasting....the in-your-face attitude....the "look at me, look at me" behavior.

I've come to the conclusion that Facebook can absolutely break down self-esteem and turn perfectly normal people like me into stalkers. I'd say 50-60% of the time, I leave my Facebook page feeling awful.

Whoa, how is she still so skinny?!
Alright who is this hooker my ex is dating...
Um, crazy that they can afford that?

And to take it one step further, when you're in charge of directing and guiding and creating another person, the potential for Facebook damage is taken to a whole new level. Yes, I'm suggesting Facebook harm can be even more daunting, even darker, even more harmful for those trying to raise little people.

Her kid willingly eats vegetables?
Huh. I wish my husband would do that with our kids.
Another family vacation??

Now this topic has been beaten to death by bloggers all over the country. Stop comparing yourself to others - the New Years resolution for millions of us. But how many of us actually do anything about these feelings? How many of us willingly put ourselves out there, flaws and all, and let people see the reality of our lives? Is it really all that gross? Is it really all that terrible? Would it really hurt to only keep people in our life who accept us, crazy faces, misbehaving kids, and all? Could we potentially change the face of social media comparison by posting less pictures of perfection...and more pictures of imperfection?

Yep. That is exactly what I'm suggesting. Instead of posting only the good, the beautiful, and the perfect, let's flip the switch and post our epic fails, our uggo moments, and the imperfection that encases every one of our lives. I'm not saying no pretty pics, or successes, or fun times.....but how 'bout less Photoshop, more insane face pictures? I think there's a thing called Snapchat for that.....but why only a few seconds of funny? How about saving that moment for all time? How about making someone laugh? How about making ourselves laugh?

If you scroll through the contacts on my phone you'll see all assigned contact pictures are INsane. My girlfriend went running and was hit on by some dude so she snapped a picture of herself looking all sweaty and said, "Really?" Bam. It's now her contact picture. I think she looked gorgeous. My buddy used one of those crazy photo editors to make his nose abnormally long and freaky looking. BAM. His contact picture. He is totally handsome, partially because he can make me laugh at my saddest moments. My sister sent me a picture of herself in front of a gym mirror, no makeup, making a totally crazy face. Contact picture. My sister, the little kiddo I grew up with, does not need makeup to be one of the most stunning, kindhearted persons on this planet.

Are you catching my drift?

These pictures light up my life. They are the real people I've come to love and know and treasure with all my heart. They are the imperfect, flaw-filled loves of my life. I don't mind seeing professional pics and updates on how great your kid is doing....but when push comes to shove, those moments don't remind me of the reasons why I love you.

I have one Facebook friend who talks about getting her period and dying under a plate of nachos all the time. Another friend purposely closes her eyes in every picture she posts. Hilarious. This is what I'm talkin' about, people. Turn Facebook into Failbook. Believe me, everyone wants to see your mistakes. And no, I'm not talking about those emo, moody posts with some creepy song lyrics and an open-ended phrase that leaves everyone wondering if you're somehow mad at them. I'm talking about real, honest-to-goodness life fails. Reality.

Like when you're doing a rare workout and your little one stacks her ice-cream-lookin' legos next to you and you instantly want to eat them even though you know they are plastic.

And when you buy your daughter sparkle powder and then realize it's a poison pink cloud of shimmer and shame that wont come off your skin and gets literally everywhere.

Or when you try and schedule time to read to your kid but you take so long at the computer that she ends up reading books without you.

These are the real stories of my life. And we all have them. The woes my brave mom friend shared that day during our meeting resonated with everyone in the group. We now have a thread dedicated to posting our fails. Some of them are hilarious. Others are gut-wrenching. All are relatable. Knowing you aren't alone is the best feeling in the world.

And you know what else? You have the power to remove yourself from situations that you feel are non-conducive to positive self-image. I chose to narrow down my friend list dramatically, keeping primarily those people who add value to my feed (I'm still working up the guts to delete all those who add no value....I'm sucha sissy). I also choose to follow bloggers who celebrate imperfection and write about interesting, thought-provoking topics. I am slowly weeding out the "perfect mommy" blogs from my feed and instead dedicating my online reading time to improving myself and my flaws.

Life isn't a one-size-fits-all garment, nor should it be portrayed as such. We are each so unique and so powerful in our own way. We all struggle, even the moms with the perfectly-advanced kids. Who knows, maybe her marriage is in shambles. Maybe her kid can read a novel but still wets the bed. These are the things Facebook doesn't tell us...and we sometimes need to remind ourselves that regardless of how perfect it looks, everyone is struggling. Everyone. So add some comfort to the Facebook feed and toss out your latest fail. I guarantee it will make somebody's day.

Have any of my readers experienced problems with Facebook comparisons (or Pinterest, or Twitter...)? I know I've got some strong souls out there but let me have it - how many of you sign into your social media and feel awful when you're done checking your feeds? Tell me about it in the comments down below. As always, thank you so, so much for reading :)


Friday, January 16, 2015

Is the Crunchy Life Worth It?

The beauty product crunchy life experiment is over, dear readers. I made face wash, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and lotion, and I must admit, I'm a complete convert.

I LOVE making my own crap. I thought I'd be stressed by it....another thing I need to do with my time? But no. No, I actually really enjoy it. I feel good about the ingredients and the product I create. I get a little excited about trying a new recipe. I love hearing from friends who've tried it and found their own success. It is awesome.

But I know what you're thinking. 

Great Jen, glad about your feel-good crunchy feelings...but what about some tangible benefits? 

Has it impacted my health? Have I noticed any significant changes in my bank account? How do I feel physically? Do I sleep better? Do I have more energy? Do the products actually work? What do my doctors think? ANY positive effects other than, "Ooo, goodie, look at me! I'm crunchy!"

Well, in one word, kinda.

Feel Healthier?
I have to admit, aside from feeling mentally calm and more emotionally stable, I feel, physically, much the same. My new toothpaste doesn't make my teeth any cleaner or whiter. It cleans them really well and my mouth tastes and feels great, just like when I used regular toothpaste. My face wash has impacted my skin health - my skin has never been more blemish-free and smooth. My hair bounces between terrible and great. Right now it's having a great moment, but that could change tomorrow. My armpits can't tell the difference. I rarely, if ever, use the lotion.
Basically, I feel pretty much the same. I don't regularly get blood work and I can't test my internal toxicity. I did get that terrible respiratory flu, so take that for what it's worth. I haven't needed to go to the doctor, but then again, I rarely go to the doctor for anything. My weight hasn't changed at all. Basically, I feel, physically, pretty much the same as I did before I tried the crunchy products.

More Money?
I have not seen a significant difference in my bank account. Granted, I have yet to go through one full container of anything I've created yet....I might end up seeing some changes down the road. But right now, no - I am not raking in the dough from making my own products. I haven't felt a difference at all. 
Sleep and Energy?
No difference here. I am not jumping up and down with bountiful amounts of energy and I'm sleeping like I always do...about 7 hours a night, waking up maybe once in the middle of the night, no real problems falling asleep, and I always, always wake up groggy. I have never woken up like the Folgers wife. Ever. 

Do the Products WORK?
Check out the individual posts for more details...but in a nutshell, yes. The products do what they are supposed to do. My toothpaste cleans, my face wash cleanses and softens and controls acne, my deodorant leaves me stink-free, my shampoo cleans my hair, and my lotion moisturizes. They do what they're supposed to - in some cases, they work better than the commercial products I was once using....but in most cases, they work the same. Nothing crazy to note.

What do Doctors Say?
I have only seen one medical professional since starting my experiment...and to be honest, I wasn't even the patient...the patient was my older daughter. She's been using the toothpaste. She saw the dentist. Perfect teeth, needs to floss more. These are the same dental visit results she's always had. No cavities. Same.
So there you have it. If you ask me in terms of tangible, scientific, measurable results, I can honestly tell you I haven't seen much of a difference.

But if you ask me how I feel about it all? How does my heart feel? How happy do these things make me? Is there a difference in my overall life?

Huge. Enormous. Significant uptick in personal satisfaction and emotional well-being. I feel wonderful about it. I feel safe. I feel secure. I feel self-reliant and independent. I feel smart. I feel like I'm doing something good for my kids. I feel like I'm standing up for what I believe in. 
In that regard, the emotional one, commercial products don't stand a chance against the crunchy life. I am hooked. I am actually pumped about growing my own herbs this spring and creating my own infusions for next year's cold and flu season. I feel like I'm teaching myself something I can pass to my own kids, and maybe grandkids. I'm learning new things and feeling wonderful about it. I am not afraid of putting lotion on my kids anymore. 

It's freeing....and all other reasons aside, that feeling of freedom deems the crunchy life absolutely worth it to me. It's worth the time and effort and research to feel this good about the things I put on my body everyday. I may not have lab results and dollar signs to prove it....but I've got a lighter heart, a more knowledge-seeking soul, and a happier spirit. 
So, I hereby conclude Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment, Personal Care Edition. I hope you've enjoyed yourself as much as I have. I will post updates as I continue to tweak recipes and formulas. Thank you so much for learning along with me! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment: Homemade Lotion

You may have figured this out already....but I'm a bit of a homebody. One of the main reasons I like winter is because I relish the excuse to stay home.  I like being inside my house, with my family and my animals, doing things, or doing nothing. And as much as I hate to admit it, plans are normally met with a knee-jerk, "panicked" reaction.

It's not that I don't want to see people. I'd just rather do the things my heart tells me I need to take a full hour to sit with my kids without looking at my phone. Or remember what life is like when you scrub away the constant attempts to be the perfect daughter, sister, wife, and friend. Or making time to cook a meal that takes close to 3 hours simply because I've always wanted to. I like these things. I love the freedom of a wide open day. Makes me feel calm. And so for me, winter is perfect.

Snowstorm, sorry, can't hang. Frozen temps, sorry, can't come to your meeting. Power outage, my bad, can't send that email.

Yep, beauty aside, I treasure winter for offering me a break...especially after the holidays. It's like releasing the pressure valve...if only for a few months.

But amid all the bliss of the winter season, there are two things I do not enjoy, two things that really "chap" my ass, if you will....

1. Dry skin
2. Lotion

Funny, isn't it? Try as I may I cannot stand the feeling of lotion. So why would I have a homemade lotion recipe? Well, because the rest of my family is obsessed.

My kiddos use lotion in various forms, from baby lotion, to diaper rash cream, to windburn prevention, and sunburn treatment.

My husband uses lotion every single day to take care of dry, flaky skin on his face and to calm his frequent razor burn.

Both my man and my kids have uber-sensitive skin that is prone to redness and irritation. Winter is what you might call the Skinpocalypse of our home. Despite using a number of lotion brands, strengths, and therapies, they needed something different. And so I thought I'd make 'em their own.

The Procedure
1. Decide your application preference. I was looking for a lotion I could use anywhere - hands, feet, booty, lips, you name it. This is the recipe I ended up working with, courtesy of the Wellness Mama.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I buy the California Olive Company olive oil from Target)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (I use the organic kind from Target)
  • 1/4 cup beeswax (I purchased some pellets from Amazon)
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil (got mine from Amazon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Shea Butter (another Amazon purchase)
  • **I did NOT add any essential oils to my batch - I wanted it to be fragrance free. It smells like wax! Next time I will add lavender oil!

2. Stick everything into a large mason jar.

3. Put a few inches of water into a saucepan and stick it on the stove over medium-high heat. 

4. Cap your mason jar (not too tight) and stick it in the saucepan. Congratulations, you've just made yourself a makeshift double boiler. 

5. Stir every now and then as everything melts. This took a while for me - the beeswax took to liquefy. 

6. Once everything has melted, pour the jar contents into containers of your choosing. I chose two medium-sized jelly jars. They work awesome. 

This is a creme lotion, not a pump lotion, so keep that in mind. No pumpin', people. You can use this for up to 6 months...if it will last that long in your house!

The Cost
I only did a cost analysis against my husband's most recent lotion brand. The homemade lotion, however, also takes the place of diaper rash cream and cocoa has many uses that are not included in the following breakdown.

Here are the lotions we were using before:

Now the Organix lotion cost $6.29 for 13 ounces, or $0.48 per ounce.

The total for all lotion ingredients is high - $47.64. Break it down further by dividing the price by what the recipe calls for and the ingredients cost $4.59. The recipe makes 8 ounces, so the total cost is $0.57 per ounce, or $0.09 more per ounce. Negligible, but an increase in cost nonetheless.

Health Factors
I checked up on the ingredients of all 3 products shown above. Ready? Here's some highlights from EWG.

  • Fragrance: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • DMDM Hydantoin (Formaldehyde Releaser): Cancer, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (FORMALDEHYDE), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
  • Idopropynyl Butylcarbamate: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions
  • Phenoxyethanol: Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Use restrictions
  • Triethanolamine: Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (NITROSAMINES-in the presence of nitrosating agents), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions
Butt Paste:
  • Fragrance: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • Boric Acid: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Endocrine disruption, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions
  • PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate: Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (ETHYLENE OXIDE, 1,4-DIOXANE, ETHYLENE OXIDE, 1,4-DIOXANE), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
Palmer's Cocoa Butter (Fragrance Free):
  • Methylisothiazolinone: Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Neurotoxicity, Use restrictions
  • Propylene Glycol: Enhanced skin absorption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions
  • Tocopheryl Acetate: Cancer, Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (HYDROQUINONE)
So glad I smothered my pregnant belly and baby's booty with chemicals that are known to cause cancer, allergies, and developmental/endocrine disruption! Mind you, those are just a FEW of the ingredients in each product. Check out the rest if you feel like crying.

What about the side-effects of the ingredients in our handmade lotion?

  • Olive oil: hypoallergenic, shown to protect against sun damage and cancer
  • Coconut oil: helps skin retain moisture, disinfectant/antimicrobial, repairs tissues/cells
  • Beeswax: protects against irritants, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral, smooths skin
  • Vitamin E oil: antioxidant, fights free radicals, protects against cell mutation, moisturizes
  • Shea Butter: moisturizes, heals, aids in treating blemishes, eczema, and burns, anti-inflammatory
My family loves this lotion. I use it on diaper rashes and to protect faces when we need to go outside in the cold. My husband uses it every day and says for the first time ever, his dry skin has cleared up. 

The texture is at first very off-putting, perhaps because I hate lotion to begin is thick, almost waxy. I think it's that beeswax forming the barrier or whatever. Give it a few minutes, though, and your skin absorbs the ingredients. The waxiness does disappear. 

This is a thick, protective lotion, not some wamby-pamby pump bottle filled with watered-down hydrochemicals. Think emu oil, or udder balm...not milky in the least. I get the worst gardeners hands ever so come this spring, I may be using this stuff a whole lot more than I am now. But until then, I will continue putting it on my kiddos bum and packaging it up as a gift for new mommies. This one is a keeper!

Do you have a favorite lotion? Would you consider giving a homemade recipe a try? Why or why not? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below! Thank you so very much for reading :)

And in case you missed the other subjects of my experiment:


Friday, January 2, 2015

Jen's Crunchy Life Experiment: Homemade Toothpaste

I'm very excited to share this particular portion of the experiment with you guys. I love teeth.

Now before I get started, I want to disclose a few things about myself, mainly for the benefit of anyone who might read this post and think "WHAT A QUACK!" I had no idea toothpaste and dental care could ignite such a debate between bloggers and dental professionals and as such, I feel compelled to inform anyone reading this of my experience and qualification level.

1. I am not a dentist, nor do I hold a medical degree of any kind.

2. I was a dental assistant to the best pediatric dentist in the Chicagoland area for many years. I also assisted in general family practice dentistry for a number of years shortly after having my first child. I was required to take classes for assisting, coronal polishing, and sealants, at an accredited community college. I was also mandated to complete yearly refresher courses and as one of the leading providers in his area, my pediatric dentist was constantly implementing new technology and sharing new information with his team.

3. I love teeth, and health, and anything having to do with the human body. I am very open minded and welcome debates, although I must insist they are respectful and considerate. Any assholish comments will be deleted.

All right! So let's move on to the fun stuff :)

We all need to brush our teeth. It's kinda imperative. After finding out Crest embeds plastic in our gums last September, I started to wonder whether or not it was really all that intelligent of me to research the crap out of my food, but blindly purchase my beauty products. Toothpaste was the very first thing I switched out when deciding to take the plunge into the crunchy life experiment. So let's do this.

The Procedure
1. Pick your recipe. My aim was to create something my kids (ages 2 and 8) and husband would like, a very tall order considering each one is inherently picky about tastes and textures. I ended up slightly tweaking a recipe I found online from Wellness MamaLive Simply also has a great recipe.

  • 2 Tablespoons xylitol (this is to sweeten it - be sure to check labels - get the real, 100% birch stuff!)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (I get the organic kind from Target. *Bonus* - you can use the jars later!)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons bentonite clay 
  • About 5 drops of peppermint essential oil 

2. Mix all the ingredients up. Wellness Mama gets all fancy and incorporates stuff and uses a food processor and only plastic spoons blah blah blah but I just threw that crap into an old glass honey jar and stirred. I had great consistency without adding water, but they say you can add water if it's too chalky.

Some folks get a little nervous using metal spoons to stir because they say bentonite clay shouldn't come into contact with metal as metal diminishes potency. After reading and reading and reading some more, I've found mixing the clay with stainless steel is perfectly fine - in fact, they use stainless steel instruments to remove the clay from the earth for our consumption. All good. Also, bentonite clay is safe on amalgam (metal) fillings, as these fillings are designed to withstand pretty much everything. Awesome.

3. Store your toothpaste. I bought some travel tubes (first picture, above) made of silicone (less leaching = more good). I wash them out between uses so I don't have some old stuff just sitting in there. One travel-size GoToob will last about 3 weeks if you brush twice a day.

Here's a picture of the mixing jar after I filled up my tubes - I wanted to show you for texture reasons. It's really easy to scoop out...very paste-like consistency.

The Cost
I was using this paste for year and years and years:

The cost of this toothpaste per ounce is $0.51.

My kiddos were using this toothpaste:

The cost of this toothpaste per ounce is $0.83.

I added up the ingredients for our homemade toothpaste, divided by recipe usage, and came out to a price of $0.93 per ounce. So when comparing to my old whitening adult paste, I am paying $0.42 more for my homemade product, and when comparing to my kids' old paste, I am paying $0.10 more per ounce for my homemade product. Paying more any way you slice it.

Health Factors
So here's where it gets messy for me, the dental assistant who was taught fluoride and toothpaste are critical for health. I went on my favorite website, EWG's SkinDeep database, and was pretty shocked to see some hefty charges against my favorite toothpaste.

  • Triclosan: Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Contamination concerns (CHLOROFORM, DIOXINS), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bioaccumulation
  • Sodium Fluoride: Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Use restrictions
  • Sodium Hydroxide: Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions
  • Propylene Glycol: Enhanced skin absorption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions

Wait wait wait....what? Fluoride? The same stuff I would smear on little kids teeth and make them sit with, holding it in their mouth so it could effectively be absorbed?? There are actual studies showing this may not be safe for our bodies? For our developmental progress? Our allergies? Our endocrine systems? As someone who's consistently battled hormone imbalances her entire life, and has two kids I'm just trying to raise right in this world, this makes me furious. I worked with dentists. I believed in what I was doing. The stuff is in our water, for crying out loud. It can't be toxic!

Oh, but it is. Not only is it responsible for causing fluorosis (which I unfortunately suffer from), but it's also shown as having no positive affect on cavity reduction...none. Honestly blew my, the dental professional. We laughed at the parents who refused fluoride. "Irresponsible," we called them. "Easily-frightened women who refuse to look at science." How the tables have turned. Flaws, forgiven indeed.

And our ingredients? Aside from no crazy chemical toxicity, they have the following benefits:

  • Coconut oil: antibacterial, shown to prevent tooth decay, incredible for your immune system
  • Bentonite clay: absorbs toxins, repairs gums, remineralizes teeth
  • Xylitol: protects teeth, kills sticky, cavity-causing bacteria, promotes growth of healthy bacteria
  • Baking soda: eliminates surface stains, whitens teeth
  • Peppermint oil: freshens breath, reduces plaque bacteria, whitens teeth

Of all the products I've tried and experimented with, this one was by far the most widely-accepted by my kids and husband. My entire family loves this stuff. The flavor is very mild - only a hint of mint. When I make it again I am going to add more peppermint oil.

I pay a little more for it. It's a pain in the butt to stuff tubes and clean green dots off my white sink, but I do it all, and will continue to do so, gladly.

I feel duped, maybe more so with this particular product than any others because this was my profession, my expertise. I taught others the right way to do things and those little cuties trusted me, as did their parents. Am I glad I found a toothpaste my whole family can enjoy, toxin-free? You betcha. But what impacts me the heaviest, what gives me more reason to pause, is the possibility that you, the reader, will learn something. This post won't make up for the hundreds of lives I contaminated with my ignorance, but it might make a difference for one of you. Oysters in the ocean and what have by matters to that one.

Overjoyed to have you with me, and as always, thank you so much for reading. Tune in next week to read about homemade lotion - perfect for these cold, dry winter months!

Miss my other Crunchy Life Experiment Posts? No worries. Check them out in the links below.