Guest Post: 5 ideas to get us out of a lunchbox rutOct. 12th

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When we think of school lunches normally food items such as a sandwich, mini pizza, cookies, a pack of juice come to mind. These are what usually form the lunch box of a child. Why is that so? Mainly because they are convenient and children like them too. No preparation time is required, saving you time and effort, and all you have to do is pop them in your child’s bag. Children also love you for that. But are parents really doing a favor to their kids by giving them such items for school lunch? Not really. Not only are these highly processed but they also contain high levels of sodium, preservatives and sugar, making them unhealthy. School canteens also do not always have a variety of healthy options available. Besides, it is better for you to pack homemade lunch for your children rather than giving them money to buy something from school. Not only will that ensure that the food is hygienic and nutritious but it will also save loads of money over time. Since most kids are unaware of the health hazards of unhealthy food, it is up to you to provide them with nutritious meals and help them eat healthy.

Last night’s leftovers

No, there is no hard and fast rule that school lunches can only include chips and cookies. Last night’s leftovers will work just fine. Did your child love the meatballs from last night? You could make some extra and maybe add some rice with it. There you have a healthy lunch ready and something that your child would be eager to have. You could prepare chicken chunks, make chicken and egg spread for a sandwich, fry or bake boneless fish. There are plenty of options for you to consider. Just make sure to pack everything properly to ensure freshness and safety. You could use a thermos for warm food. Include reusable utensils and cloth napkin for ease.

Fruits and vegetables

Pack them such that they can be eaten easily. A child would prefer sliced apples and oranges rather than a whole one. The downside is that they would turn brown by lunch time and your child would rather skip them. Use lemon juice on them to avoid that. Bananas could be given as they are. A bag of grapes is also a good idea. Rather than buying jams and jellies from the stores, you could prepare these at home. The ones available in the supermarket contain very high sugar levels plus preservatives. Some children tend to prefer smoothies over eating fruits. If your child is one of them, you could skip on whole fruits and instead prepare a fruit smoothie, with maybe just a small portion of some vegetable, like spinach. Believe me they would not be able to spot the difference. The best part is that this could be prepared the night before and frozen.

Dairy products

Smoothies are a good way for your child to consume dairy. If not, you could give them the small tetra packs of milk available in the market. Another option is yogurt that you could freeze at night and it would be ready to be eaten by lunchtime. You could add fruits to the yogurt to make it more appealing to a child’s palate. But while you are working on adding dairy to your kids’ diet, think about choosing organic dairy products. You will be doing a favor not only to your children but also to the environment. Factory farms are still injecting artificially produced hormones into cows that make them give more milk. This is not natural and definitely not healthy for you, your children, or the cows. Opt for organic milk even if it costs slightly more.

Grains

How can you incorporate grains in your child’s lunch? Whole grain or whole wheat bread should be preferred over white bread. Prepare rice cakes at home and sprinkle them with fruit syrup or maybe peanut butter to make them more appealing. Whole grain crackers are also a good idea and you could also include cheese in the lunch box to go with them. Making cookies at home of whole grains, such as oatmeal raisin cookies instead of the usual chocolate chip, will add nutritional value to their desserts. 

Proteins

Meat does not necessarily have to be a part of your child’s diet to get them to take in protein. If they do not like it, do not fret. There are alternatives. Egg is a great source of protein, and packaged perfectly for on the go. Hard boiled eggs are easy to prepare and eat. Nuts are also good for lunch or snack time. You could prepare chicken salad or a tuna sandwich if they are into these.

Final thoughts

Children who have healthy, well balanced lunches are better able to concentrate in their class than those who go for the less variations. So there is another reason you should ensure that your children are being supplied with a healthy lunch box. There is also the issue of food allergy to consider. If a certain kind of food does not suit your child, it is best to have their lunch packed from home. Kids may not be as careful about their food choices even if you have instructed them about it beforehand. It is better to be safe.

Author Bio:

Batool Ali is an international blogger who loves to write on different disciplines such as Health, lifestyle, fashion, finance and education.

Natural Ways to Cure Kids’ Coughs and ColdsApr. 1st

As Winter melts into Spring, the sniffles and allergies are sure to bloom in your family. Here are some natural ways to cure your family’s illnesses…

When your child falls ill with a cough or cold, it may be tempting to reach for over-the-counter remedies to relieve their symptoms. But whilst these can offer some relief, they can’t prevent colds or shorten their duration, and many have side effects. Used for anything more than a few days, they can make your child’s symptoms worse, and some government experts have questioned their safety. So what are the natural alternatives?

Rest

When your child falls ill, make sure they get plenty of rest as this helps their body to focus its energy on fighting the virus. Give your child an extra pillow as this will help the nasal passages to drain so that they can breathe more easily.

Fluids

Your child’s body will be producing more mucus than normal, and this uses up moisture. By drinking plenty of fluids, not only will they stay hydrated but the mucus will be thinner, making it easier for them to blow it out or cough it up. Make sure that they avoid any caffeinated drinks as these can make dehydration worse.

Resource: Fun kid-friendly soft drink recipes

Warm drinks

Warm drinks help to ease your child’s symptoms by loosening the mucus as the warmth passes down their throat. This makes it easier for them to cough and soothes the inflamed membranes. Offer your child soups, hot chocolate, warm lemon water with honey or decaffeinated tea and coffee to relieve their discomfort.  

Chicken soup is an old-fashioned cold remedy that you might have heard of and there is some research that suggests that it does actually work. It is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory, inhibiting the movement of the most common type of white blood cell that defends against the infection. Although some are sceptical, it is fair to say that giving your child warm chicken soup will certainly help to loosen their mucus, if nothing else.

Resource:  Cold fighting soup recipes that are children friendly – from Eating Well Magazine

Steam

Steam works like warm drinks, loosening the mucus and relieving stuffy noses. Sit your child in the bathroom with a hot shower running, or give them a warm bath for instant blocked nose relief. Placing hot water in a bowl and allowing them to inhale it can also be very effective but be careful that they do not scald themselves on the water or steam.

Nose blowing

Encourage your child to blow their nose regularly and not to sniff up the mucus. It’s also important that they don’t blow their nose too hard as this can cause earache. The best way for them to blow their nose is to press a finger over one of their nostrils whilst they blow gently to clear the other.

Saltwater

For older children with a sore throat, a salt-water gargle can offer short term relief. You can make this by mixing up a teaspoon of salt with a small glass of warm water. 

Moisturizing Balm

Colds are always associated with red, sore noses from constant blowing and this can add to the discomfort. The solution is to use just a dab of a moisturizing balm (such as Alba Botanicals Un-Petroleum Jelly) on the sore areas. You can also help prevent the soreness by offering your child baby wipes or facial tissues with lotion to blow their nose on as these keep the skin soft and moist. To make your own try this recipe.

Echinacea

For children aged 12 and over, Echinacea is thought to be a highly effective supplement in fighting coughs and colds. It is thought to stimulate the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and boosting the activity of other immune cells. However, Echinacea is not recommended for children under the age of 12 as there is an increased risk of allergic reaction which may include skin swelling, hives, rashes, shrinking of the airways in the lungs, asthma and anaphylactic shock.  You can find Echinacea in most high street stores, pharmacies, health food shops and online (though if you’re going to buy online, ensure it’s the real dealer by sticking with a reputable seller like Nature’s Best for example.)

Food

You may have heard the old saying ‘feed a fever, starve a cold’. In fact, this is nonsense. When your child’s body is fighting a virus, it needs all the help it can get, and starving is never the answer. Offer your child healthy nutritious food and try to work in as many immune system boosters as you can: button mushrooms, acai berries, watermelons, cabbage, almonds, grapefruit, wheatgerm, low fat yogurt with active cultures, garlic, spinach, decaffeinated tea, sweet potato and broccoli have all been marked as having immune-enhancing effects.

Resource: 12 immunity boosting snacks from Parenting.com

Vitamin C

Many people reach for Vitamin C at the first sign of a snuffle but does it really work? Many swear by it but some research suggests that Vitamin C may help to shorten the duration of a cold by only a small amount if taken regularly. However, Vitamin C is an important vitamin and antioxidant that your child needs to keep their body strong and healthy and it certainly won’t hurt giving them extra Vitamin C whilst they are poorly so offer them strawberries, blackberries and oranges to snack on for a Vitamin C boost.

Resource: Yummy “Soper C Smoothie” recipe from Annabel Karmel

 

This article was contributed by Carly, a keen  blogger from the UK.  When not writing, Carly LOVES scouring Pinterest for home decorating inspiration, and walking her two doggies in the local park.

Photo credits:

Sneezing child:  <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/46589312@N08/4505231328/”>SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/“>cc</a>

Berries:  <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/31817493@N08/5414933178/”>kPluto</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/“>cc</a>

5 Ways Traveling Can Bring Your Family TogetherMar. 15th

5 Ways Traveling Can Bring Your Family Together

 

There are many benefits of traveling, regardless of your stage in life: making new friends, experiencing different cultures, learning about history and current events, savoring unique cuisines and more. Traveling as a family enables you to experience some additional benefits that can help you all come together. It might surprise you to find out that children see the benefits of vacationing together just like their parents, and grandparents, do.

 

1. Bonding over New, Shared Experiences

There’s nothing like having an adventure to bring your family together. Whether you’re headed across the state, the country, or the world, seeing something for the first time together is a feeling unlike any other. You’ll be able to do research into what it is you want to see and do at your chosen location, and build up the anticipation, generating excitement in everyone involved. When it finally comes into fruition, your family will be there will you to share the joy that you’re feeling, and you’ll feel more connected than ever.

 

2. Embracing the Bad Along With the Good

Life is full of mishaps, and smart travelers strive to take such blips in their travel plans in stride. From unexpected weather occurrences that make it impossible to stick to your itinerary as planned, to delayed flights and lost luggage, staying flexible and maintaining a sense of humor helps turn such blunders into memorable events. Whether it involves snuggling together in your hotel while waiting for a break in the weather or playing a rousing game of I Spy and eating an ice cream sundae together while waiting for your delayed flight, these unplanned experiences can help create lasting memories and great stories.

 

3. Learning More About Each Other

Though children often seem to be caught up in their own lives and friends, especially as they reach their teen years, this does not mean that they never want to spend time with their families. In fact, according to a Travel Effect fact sheet, nearly eight out of ten children surveyed learned new things about their grandparents when they traveled together. When you’re planning what you want to do each day, ask each member of the family what it is they want to do and see. You’ll learn new things about one another every time.

 

4. Spending One-on-One Time

It can be hard to do, but if you can, it’s fun to split up and enjoy time with just one other member of your family. If you have multiple children, maybe you and your partner or another adult can plan different things to do with them on a designated day. When you’re at home, it’s easy to get caught up in a routine, but on vacation, you can customize your experiences for those who you’re with. Whether you manage to carve out an entire afternoon to spend with one child, or you can only manage an hour or two, this time that is focused solely on one person can be some of the most valuable of the vacation.

 

5. Reconnecting With Adults

Don’t forget to allow for a little bit of grown-up time. Even on family vacations, it’s important for everyone to get the experience they desire, so that they feel rested and ready when it’s time to get back to the daily grind. If you’re traveling with your parents, for instance, maybe they can watch the kids one night while you and your partner have some time to relax and reconnect with each other. The next day, you’ll feel revitalized, and ready to spend more time with your children, and the kids will have had a chance to grow closer to their grandparents.

 

Author Bio:

Sandra Mills is a freelance health and travel writer. She enjoys coming up with topics that benefit people’s health. She plans on doing a lot more traveling this year with her friends, family, and by herself.

Unique Valentines Day Crafts ~ Guest PostFeb. 11th

Unique Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas

Valentine’s Day isn’t only for couples and romance. Even if you don’t have a significant other, you can still give a gift to show someone you care—especially if it has a handmade touch. Kids love Valentine’s Day, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to get them thinking creatively about projects they can make and share with their friends, classmates, and teachers. Instead of trading basic cards this Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas for creative and unique crafts to make and share.

Handmade Flowers

Giving flowers is traditional for Valentine’s Day, but you can put a twist on that with fun, funky handmade flowers to give to someone special. Tissue paper is a great material with which to make flowers, especially for children. Adults can also have fun by selecting and arranging the paper to make traditional blossoms or outrageous, vivid fantasy flowers. Cut rectangles of tissue paper and trim around the end with pinking shears to ruffle the edges. Accordion-fold each rectangle, bunch them at the center and twist a pipe cleaner around the end to hold it together. You can even add a Hershey’s Kiss to the center for a special sweet treat.

Another way to give that special someone a bouquet of flowers is by crocheting. To make these flowers more unique, they can be attached to a schoolbag, tote or other wearable items. You can sew them on, use glue or even hook and loop fasteners, which would allow the wearer to remove the flower and swap it for another. You can use different kinds of yarn, embroidery floss, or other material to make your flowers, depending on the size and what you want to attach them to. Many free patterns for crocheted flowers are available online, and once you have the basics you can create your own.

Handmade Cards

Cards are a traditional item to give for Valentine’s Day, but you don’t have to look for them on greeting card shelves. You can make your own for a special someone, or help kids make personalized cards for classmates or teachers.

One easy idea for kids is to draw a picture, photocopy it, and then color in and add personal touches. To make these cards really stand out, create your own 3D embellishments with craft foam. Hearts—the most popular of all Valentine’s Day shapes—can be created many different ways. For kids, animals like elephants, owls, puppies, fish and more can be shaped into hearts with a little creative combination. These foam shapes can be glued down or, for a more interactive card, attached with hook and loop fasteners. This way, the recipient can rearrange the items on the card and have fun with it.

For a sweet treat, you can attach two candy canes in the shape of a heart or other candy like lollipops using double-sided tape or small hook and loop fasteners.

More Ideas

To give your kids a way to carry home the Valentine’s cards or candy they receive, you can make a fun treat carrier by adding cardstock to a gift bag or fabric bag in the shape of a special Valentine friend. Kids can draw faces on a large heart and fill out the rest of their Valentine friend by adding a body and accordion-folded arms and legs. Kids can also draw on and decorate treat bags for themselves, attaching rhinestone or foam hearts and other decorations. Instead of using glue, these embellishments can be easily added with adhesive-backed hook and loop fasteners, giving kids the chance to redecorate their treat carrier over and over.

Taking a tip from Alice in Wonderland, playing cards also make fun card friends for Valentine’s Day. Using the heart cards from a deck of playing cards and templates cut out from cardstock, the playing cards become the Queen of Heart’s soldiers. Even better, all the additions are temporary, so after Valentine’s Day you can return the cards to the deck unharmed.

Pipe cleaners can also be used to make three-dimensional hearts of many kinds. Twist pipe cleaners into a heart shape and add beads, wrap them in fabric and link them together, or attach them to cards or other items with glue or hook and loop fasteners for easy rearrangement. You can make a whole bundle of these hearts, big and small, to use for decorating or to embellish other Valentine’s Day crafts.

About the Author:

Stephen Ira worked as an inventor for a small manufacturing company where he developed several patents that included Velcro® brand products which led to his founding of Hook and Loop in 1989, distributing Velcro® brand fasteners across the country. Stephen’s company has grown into a business that specializes in manufacturing hook and loop products that are used in the final products in many industries around the world. Stephen is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a BS degree in mechanical engineering and specialized in machine design and solar engineering. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida where he enjoys an avid outdoor lifestyle and spending time with his two daughters.

 

Creating Your Family CultureJan. 1st

Thank you to Jenny Bischoff from my children’s school blog for this great post~ I hope it inspires you as well. And please share with us your family’s traditions!   Happy New Year!

As we begin another year (can it really be 2014 already?!? It sounds so futuristic…), many people are drawn to making resolutions of one kind or another. Making healthy changes is certainly worthwhile, but rather than talk about resolutions per se, today I (Jenny) want to share in a more personal voice some ideas I’ve been encouraged by lately.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about family traditions, and creating an inviting family culture. Just as we desire to captivate our children through a rich, classical education, we also want to capture their hearts and strengthen family bonds through a rich and connected home life. You are probably doing this now in many ways, so let today’s post affirm the family culture you are already creating. Your family is incredible in many unique ways!

I recently read a blog post that addressed this topic. The article is written by Sally Clarkson and contains Christian content, but many of her ideas are universal and inspiring for all families. Regarding keeping kids connected to the family as they grow, she writes:

“We make our own family culture and traditions and community and home pleasure stronger, more powerful and more fun, and more satisfying, than that of the world culture that is calling out to them. Personal relationship must be cultivated through all the traditions–not dependency on time-filling media at the center, but focused, deep relationships that say, “I love you. I know you. I validate you. I am listening to you and I care for your thoughts and dreams… “

Sally talks about how a family culture is comprised of all the little rhythms of life that make up our days and years together. Here are a few examples of elements from her family culture that might resonate with you, inspire you to start a new tradition, or just make you smile:

  • daily afternoon tea, coffee or hot chocolate
  • candlelight dinners together 

  • piles of book baskets and magazine everywhere
  • loud daily discussions on every topic
  • back scratches
  • homemade treats for kids and their friends
  • saturday night pizza and movie
  • sunday morning feast
  • reading aloud in the evenings
  • game nights
  • seasonal parties and treasure hunts (car and scavenger hunts for teens)
  • birthday morning cinnamon rolls

  • pouring words of life and appreciation on birthdays
  • family hikes every month
  • whole family support for recitals, tournaments, awards ceremonies, sports activities
  • rite of passage teen dinner

We all have these special “things we do in our family.” In our home we do some of the above as well as silly things like Daddy Playground, where the younger kids climb and play on dad almost every night, or Family Roll Call which we do when we all get in the car together and usually someone answers “not here” or “in Hawaii” or they make up additional members of our family, etc.

As Sally put it, all of these elements of family culture create “invisible threads from our hearts to our children’s.” I love that. 

– See more at: http://sloclassicalacademy.com/downhome/post/li/FamilyCulture#sthash.pHiGDHWW.dpuf

Guest Post: The Gift of Laughter and LevityJun. 11th

I am sure we have all seen those commercials where the kids are making a horrendous mess in the kitchen and mom laughingly comes along and joins in. This can happen but is not the norm in most homes. Most of us are too tired to make a game out of chaos and mess; quite frankly we do not have the energy to clean it up. Immediately upon seeing a mess of this magnitude (at least the majority of us) and our brains signal a melt down because we know exactly who will be cleaning it up. And because we are all overworked and tired even if the mess is not of gargantuan proportions it triggers our anxiety level and we end up overreacting.

 

As my children were growing up I found myself in this situation. I am normally a light hearted individual who loves to have fun. I hated when I got upset and irritable and found myself taking all the fun out of life. All because there was too much work! As I watched my children I found that they too were losing their lightheartedness and I decided I did not want that to happen. One of my children was a serious child by nature and needed my help in overcoming introversion anyway. The other child did not take anything too seriously but was becoming negative and grumpy. This was no good and had to change.

 

There is a balance between the commercials that show mom getting into a food fight with the kids and the mom who comes apart at the seams because of it. I was determined to find this middle ground. One way I tried to find this was to not sweat the small things. I was determined not to overreact when it came to accidents. All children spill their drinks, drop their food, or make a mess in the tub. I decided not to take these things so seriously and to be light hearted when these things happened. The kids and I would clean up the mess together and be done with it.

 

I made a decision to try and not take all the responsibility on myself. The kids and I started sharing chores, not only sharing but doing them at the same time, together, as a team. This made it easier on all of us. During the week days we just did the necessary, every day things that needed doing like picking up, feeding the pets, cooking, setting the table, dishes, a couple loads of laundry, baths, and homework. On Saturdays we made a chore bowl. I would write down all the things that needed done around the house like vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, mopping, more laundry, changing out the bedding, etc., and put them in a bowl. I tried to make an even amount of chores between my two kids and I, like twelve. We would then draw four chores apiece. My daughter was seven years older than my son so we made an agreement; if he drew a chore too hard for him he could swap out one with either of us. And if someone drew a chore they particularly hated then they could ask if someone would swap, if they could trade it out it was fine, if not it was theirs.Many times when I or my oldest got done with our chores we would come along and help the younger one finish up (unless they were just dawdling waiting for help).

 

We made a game out of chores, all of us working at the same time. Sometimes we would sing a happy working tune like on Cinderella or dance about the house with our dust rags. It is so much easier, just the Cinderella says when you sing a happy tune and make it fun.

 

Having fun picking up toys is another way I tried to lighten it up with my kids. The stuffed animals became animated and started talking to each other which was perfect for both my kids. My daughter has a great imagination and she would look at the animals as if they were talking to her, she never even looked at me, as if I was not in control. My son on the other hand hated it when you tried to hide the fact that you were the “puppeteer” and stated quite clearly that he knew it was you talking. But as long as he knew that you knew that he knew then we were good. Makes me laugh thinking about it now. The stuffed animals would talk about how they wanted a nap and they needed to get into the toy chest now. The cars and trucks would ask to go to the garage for repairs, etc, and a whole scenario of other toys becoming animated.

 

Because I was a working mother that was another added stress that caused me to get a bit too serious with my children. I was blessed to have my mom as a sitter for the kids. This allowed me a little leeway in that I could take a fifteen to twenty minute nap when I got home. That one short little cat nap did a world of good for everyone. I felt rejuvenated and I was able to draw from the lighthearted side of my brain again! If I did not have this short little nap I would not be able to make it through the evening, at least not pleasantly.

 

The evenings meant cooking, dishes, homework, and baths. I did not want to make my children’s lives miserable in the small amount of time I actually got to spend with them. If I did not have to work I sure would not, but many of us, especially single mothers have no other choice. For those of us who do work it is so important to keep those times with our kids happy. During the evening meal preparation my children would be helping or playing close by so we could talk about the day. We talked all through the meal as well. Meal time is a time to talk about positive things that happened all day and not bring up the more serious issues that can cause a meal to sour. I would share my day with them as well. I am a bit of a type A personality and I would embellish just a bit to make everything a little funnier, the kids loved to hear my stories from work. It helps them to know what you are doing during your day as well as sharing theirs with you.

 

Homework time is a good time to bond with the children as well. Many days the kids would sit at the table while I was cooking dinner working on their homework. My oldest would help my youngest because she was smarter than I was but sometimes we ran into a brick wall with my son because he refused to do his work at all. He would slide down into his chair and moan, what should have taken ten minutes turned into an hour. This is where my patience wore thin as well as everyone else in the house. When it got too much for us we asked for help. We did not have a lot of money to hire tutors but we asked for prayer at church and told our Sunday school class our need. There was a wonderful teacher at our church that offered to tutor for what we could afford. She was actually a reading specialist which was what my son needed! God is so good and met our need. As you can imagine I was so relieved and this helped so much with the stress at home. Do not be afraid to ask for help, if you are involved in church that is a great place to get help. If you are not there are so many great agencies and programs, the United Way can lead you to someone that can help. Sometimes struggling with a child who needs extra help can get too much for any family, don’t do it to yourself and your family, get extra help, it is so worth it.

 

Look for ways in your life that you can lighten it up a little; it will help you and your kids. If something is too hard then sit down and look at your schedule and see if you can cut something out. If you do not have time to have fun with your kids and get some peace and laughter together things will only get worse. You have to stop the cycle before it ends up ruining your happy home. You children will only be yours for just a little while. They are worth making changes for.

 

Author Bio:

 

Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.

Guest Writer-How To Holistically Prevent Cavities by Jennifer VishnevskyJan. 16th

(Image courtesy of naturaldentistry.us)

If you’ve read or heard about preventing cavities, you’ve likely heard the buzzword “fluoride.” The American Dental Association endorses fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay. There is also fluoride in many toothpastes and mouthwashes. Many dentists also recommend fluoride treatments for children. However, many practitioners believe that fluoride is toxic and does not decrease tooth decay.

In recent years, holistic dentistry has gained popularity as an alternative to traditional, mainstream dentistry. While regular dental checkups and maintenance are supremely important to your health, you do have some natural options for dental care. If you’ve made the choice for holistic dentistry, you can still prevent cavities and protect your oral health.

The easiest way to prevent cavities is by brushing your teeth and removing plaque at least three times a day, especially after eating and before bed. Fluoride-free natural toothpaste is available at natural stores, as well as many major store chains. You can also make your own toothpaste by mixing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Make sure that you do not swallow this mixture. Dry brushing is another option to clean your teeth. Remember to floss in order to remove plaque.

After a lifetime of brushing, you’ve probably become accustomed to the taste of minty toothpaste. If so, you can mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and add a few drops of wintergreen or peppermint oil. Mix the solution and store it in a sealed container for about three weeks.

If you’re over the age of 21, you can also try this unique mouthwash recipe. This will also help prevent and reduce the spread of cavities. Boil water and vodka, adding 12 drops of peppermint essential oil and five drops of myrrh essential oil once the liquid has cooled. The vodka will kill cavity-causing germs and bacteria, while the myrrh protects your gums.

Finally, here’s one more simple mouthwash idea. Mix one teaspoon each of rosemary, peppermint and lavender. Mix the herbs well and then place one teaspoon of the mixture in a cup of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes and then strain. Cool and use as a mouthwash.

If you were never a huge fan of mouthwash, turn on the teapot. Green tea has been used for years as an all-natural alternative to typical mouthwashes. The tea’s natural antioxidants create an effective oral rinse that’s completely safe and all natural. Studies have shown that drinking green tea greatly reduces plague formation, which leads to cavities and gum disease.

To freshen your breath, try chewing on parsley, mint leaves or anise seeds. You can also mix clove oil and olive oil to naturally freshen your breath. If you like the sensation of chewing gum, look for one that contains xylitol, which is a naturally occurring sweetener that does not affect insulin levels in diabetics. Xylitol actively repairs cavities and prevents future tooth decay.

Concerned about removing tartar? Take lemon rind and rub your teeth and gums. This is one step you can take to remove plaque and tartar.

Your diet can also do a lot to maintain your oral hygiene. Reducing the amount of sugary foods you eat can reduce the risk of cavities. Vitamin C is also a powerful tool for oral health. Cheese contains natural cavity-fighting agents, as well as vitamins, to strength the teeth and enamel. Also, try to eat natural unsweetened yogurt on a daily basis. Yogurt has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties that can rid the mouth of harmful yeast, germs and bacteria that cause cavities. Fermented vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut contain beneficial bacteria that promotes a healthy mouth. For healthy teeth, keep your diet rich in minerals and fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K2). Avoid grains and whole grains, unless soaked, sprouted or fermented.

Guest blogger Jennifer Vishnevsky is a writer for Top Dentists, an Everyday Health website, as well as other lifestyle media sites.

Guest Writer-Going Green for the Holiday-Inspiration and Advice for Setting New Eco-Friendly TraditionsDec. 7th

Going Green for the Holidays Inspiration and Advice for Setting New Eco-Friendly Traditions By Sandra Ann Harris Contributing Writer / ECOlunchbox Founder

LAFAYETTE, Calif. – When it comes celebrating the holidays sustainably this season, the old adage “waste not, want not” offers great guidance.

“There are lots of great ways to go green for the holidays,” says ECOlunchbox Founder Sandra Ann Harris, whose company specializes in no-waste lunchware. “With some eco-friendly thinking, it’s easy to come up with ways to avoid wasting money and resources around the holidays.”

A few sobering statistics about holiday waste are helpful when it comes to getting motivated to go green for the holidays.

More than 30 million living Fir trees are cut in U.S. for Christmas each year. There’s no eco relief, however, in choosing a fake trees instead, because these plastic trees often contain non-biodegradable PVC and possible metal toxins, such as lead.

When it comes to paper waste over the holidays, keep in mind that a whopping half of the paper consumed in the U.S. annually is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. Adding to the paper waste, enough Christmas cards are sold each year (about 2.65 billion) in the United States to fill a football field 10 stories high.

“We can try to hang on to the status quo-living a Wal-Mart life so we can buy cheaply enough to keep the stream of stuff coming. Or we can say uncle,” says author Bill McKibben, a contributing writer to Mother Jones and co-founder of 350org.

To help families hone their eco-friendly thinking around the holidays, ECOlunchbox is offering green holiday tips on Facebook and Pinterest all month.

“Let’s say goodbye to wasteful holiday celebrations,” says Harris. “When it comes to green gifts, there’s nothing better than making choices that result in less trash, less toxins, less carbon footprint, less expense and less impact on Mother Earth. Less is definitely more when it comes to giving green.”

To get started, here are a few green gift and holiday ideas:

– Agree with family and friends to skip gifts – and spend time together doing something you both enjoy! A walk? A cup of tea?

– Come up with a list of your personal favorites when it comes to tools for eco-friendly living. Inspire your friends to go green with you all year long by giving them practical reusable items, like a stainless steel bento ECOlunchbox, machine washable artisan napkins or a plastic-free stainless steel water bottle.

-Go to you local Christmas tree lot. Don’t buy a tree- instead buy inexpensively or possibly pick up for free extra branch trimmings. Use indoors for decorations or in vase.

– Dust off a present you received but didn’t need or want – and re-gift it!

– Buy a potted Christmas tree – and either plant it in your own yard after the holidays or find a home for it at a friend’s house or local park.

– Bake double your favorite holiday desserts – and give the extra dessert away!

“Selecting green gifts is a gentle way to encourage friends and family to consider adopting new sustainable living habits,” Harris explains. “Did you know a typical family throw away 4,320 pieces of trash during lunchtime and spends more than $400 on plastic baggies and other packaging waste? Our stainless bentos and artisan lunchbags make awesome green gifts!”

ECOlunchboxes specializes in waste-free, plastic-free, lead-free, BPA-free, PVC-free and vinyl-free lunchware that’s healthy for people and the planet.

ECOlunchbox is sold through The Container Store, select Whole Foods, independent natural groceries, children’s boutiques and at www.ecolunchboxes.com

Sandra Ann Harris lives in Lafayette, Calif. with her husband, two school-age children, three chickens and terrier Hobow. She is the founder of ECOlunchbox, which specializes in eco-friendly, no-plastic lunchware.

How Dads Can Encourage Kids to Love Nature-by Guest Writer, Ken MyersNov. 19th

How Dads Can Encourage Kids to Love Nature

(photo by Rani Shah)

Dads are typically known as the parent that instills a love of sports into their children, and are frequently seen with a happy child on their shoulders, both wearing matching hats and jerseys. They also are usually the ones you can find underneath the hood of a car with a bright-eyed child in tow, eagerly soaking up all the knowledge of tools and engines that only a dad is able to offer. But what about nature? Dads are also able to impart a great love of nature on their children, and here are a few ways they can do so:

1. Designate a few weekends a year to go camping, just you and the kids. There’s something about sitting next to a crackling fire roasting marshmallows for s’mores, rolling out sleeping bags under the vast, starry night sky, and swapping stories as the frogs croak and the crickets chirp that can make anyone appreciate all that nature has to offer. Having a few trips each year where just Dad takes the kids camping can help instill a love of nature and an appreciation for the time spent together.

2. Take up hobbies that involve nature. From early morning fishing trips to starting a rock collection to weekend hiking trips, there are several different hobbies that dads can take up with their children to help them understand and appreciate all that nature has to offer. While out enjoying these hobbies, be sure to point out different things that you can only find in nature, such as the cool fog over the lake in the early morning or the self-sufficiency that plants and animals have learned to rely on.

3. Be enthusiastic and passionate about nature, and don’t be afraid to share those feelings with your kids. While you don’t ever want to try to force your child to love the same things that you do, you do want to be open with your appreciation for nature. Let your kids know why you love the outdoors like you do. A parent’s passions can be infectious to kids, so don’t be afraid to share your love of nature and the great outdoors with your little ones.

4. Plan active, outdoorsy vacations. Instead of going to theme parks or spending your days lazing on the beach during your vacations, plan vacations to natural landmarks instead. Visit the Grand Canyon, take a big camping trip in Yellowstone National Park, and find other outdoors-inspired vacations that you can take your family on. Being around such awe-inspiring natural beauty can help your kids learn to appreciate nature in a whole new way.

5. Make being outdoors a way of life. From the time your kids are born be sure to spend plenty of time outdoors, engaging in different outdoor activities. When being outdoors and appreciating nature are just a normal way of life, your kids are much more likely to harbor the same love for it as you do.
Encouraging your kids to appreciate and love nature is as easy as simply making it a way of life, which you can do by taking outdoorsy vacations, having outdoor hobbies, and sharing your passions in as many other ways as possible.

Author Byline:
Ken Myers the editor in chief is a frequent contributor of http://www.gonannies.com/

Ken helps acquiring knowledge on the duties & responsibilities of nannies to society. You can reach him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

Raising Fit Kids Starts in the Kitchen-from Guest Writer Kindy PeasleeOct. 25th

When was the last time your family experienced a memorable mealtime? These days, we eat fast and frenzied, and we rarely eat with our families. Cooking has been sacrificed for convenience. What about those rare times when we do eat at home? Old-fashioned memories, rituals such as saying grace, sit-down dinners and family conversations have all but disappeared. The late Julia Child believed food was much more than sustenance and children must be taught that cooking is akin to art. As a parent, you may get inspired to see cooking through the eyes of Julia Child, who said, “…cooking is as creative and as imaginative an activity as drawing, woodcarving, or music.”

Let’s take family cooking and mealtimes back! Families can learn to enjoy healthy foods and be selective about food choices. Parents can give their children access to healthy foods, encourage regular physical activity and demonstrate good habits themselves. The investment payoff is huge and translates into creating memorable mealtimes—like making smiley-face pancakes on a Saturday morning, picking fresh produce from a local garden, or adding beauty to the table by letting your children find backyard flowers for the table centerpiece. Eating well can also include a creative table setting, good conversation and a grateful heart for sharing time with family.

The process of cooking stimulates creative family time and passes a legacy to the next generation through teaching the art of eating. Cooking activities allow food to become a powerful learning tool, empower kids and produce positive changes in the overall health and wellness of a family.

As a parent, you can create a healthy nutrition culture in your home and teach your children to love food. Don’t be afraid to let kids experiment in the kitchen. Kids need to experience foods ‘hands on’—taste, touch, smell and listen to the sizzling, bubbling, crunching as they go.

FamilyCook Productions based in New York City is on a mission to bring families together around delicious, fresh food while helping parents find creative ways to balance time constraints in a modern family life. Lynn Fredericks, a mother and founder of FamilyCook, says the first two stages of including children in the process of making a meal are simply, “don’t worry about the mess and don’t worry about how long it will take to cook.”

Over the years, FamilyCook’s field testing confirms that children do love to cook; if they prepare the food, they will try it. As families learn about food and preparing it, they feel empowered to take positive control over their diet and a multicultural meal is celebratory and promotes overall well-being. Lastly, as a parent, consider keeping the family mealtime legacy alive by getting involved with your local community and school system to make food literacy a priority in education. Bon Appétit!

Guest Post by Kindy Peaslee, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach for EverydayHealth.com and its calorie counter tool. She also loves creating family-friendly recipes at her personal nutrition site healthy-kid-recipes.com.