Category Archives: Uncategorized

Homemade toothpaste?

I’m not a hippie. But I could be. My wife used to work for Dr. Joseph Mercola, who, at the time, I thought was a little batty. Dr. Mercola is completely, 100% for natural remedies for common ailments and diseases. I’m beginning to catch on to the wisdom he espouses through his blog and daily newsletter.

One day not long ago, the topic of the day was oral care. I’ve known for a while now that fluoride is a toxin and have asked not to have the standard fluoride treatment for our kids when we’ve taken them to the dentist. But we haven’t done anything about the fluoride that we buy.

I found a great website with a simple recipe for homemade, natural toothpaste. So we gave it a shot.

Here are the ingredients.

This is what my girls did after tasting it for the first time.

So we added more mint, more mint, and more mint until it tasted somewhat close to store-bought toothpaste (I shouldn’t have added the salt.). What resulted gained mixed reviews from a normally liberal panel when it comes to approving the taste of things.

We’ll see if the kids get used to it. It’s worth a shot! Maybe I am a hippie…



National Trails Day

Salem Lake Trail

I used to think there wasn’t a difference between dirt trails and paved trails. Actually, I preferred paved trails because my shoes stayed clean. Over time, though, I’ve grown to love the sound of rocks and leaves under foot. Or under tire, as it was today.

It’s National Trails Day so I thought I’d celebrate by heading to a local trail that loops around a lake. Seven miles later, I’m sore but feel great. I hope you can get out this weekend and hear the crunch of loose rock as you hit the trail.

You can find great hikes near you at


Can’t Stop It


“The days are long but the years are short.” said an older man whose kids had grown and left the house. “Yeah, that’s what I hear.” was my I’ll-take-your-word-for-it reply. My baby was just a few months old at the time. Now? She’s seven. Seven?

Life has a nice habit of reminding you of important stuff now and then. The only catch is that you have to pay attention. My not-so-baby girl and I were walking the other day when she put her hand in mine. That little act was like a punch in the gut. Why? Her hand wasn’t so little anymore. I don’t have bear paw hands like my dad but her hand took up a good amount of real estate in mine.

I honestly don’t know how that happened. I know she’s grown these past 7 years – I’ve seen her pretty much every day of her life. But I swear she wasn’t this big yesterday.

She (and her sister and brother) is the reason why we don’t have TV. If she’s grown up this quickly, how much faster would it have gone with my attention given to television?

We can’t stop our kids from growing up. But we can make our time with them purposeful.


TV STiNKS in any language

My brother picked up this su-weet mug for me in Valparaiso, Chile when he went a few months ago. I think I’d like to meet the person who made this splendid design! Turn off the TV – Live Your Life.

And you can check out Valparaiso’s sanctioned graffiti here.


Screen-Free Week 2011

You can do it!

Screen-Free Week starts TOMORROW and I think we’re ready. Are you up to the challenge? You’ll find you have so much more time to do the stuff and hang out with the people you say you don’t have time for.

Let us know how things are going as you move through your own Screen-Free Week. Best wishes!


My Feet Taught a Lesson

One Day Without Shoes

As a teacher, I like to find ways to make my students think I’m weird. I shave my head to raise money for St.Baldrick’s And today, I went barefoot. My feet hurt. That’s the point.

Today was TOMS shoes annual One Day Without Shoes. If you haven’t heard, TOMS has successfully combined business and giving by providing a new pair of shoes to kids without footwear when someone buys a pair.

It was a great chance to get the students at my school to look at me like I was crazy. It was even better to have them realize how fortunate they are to have their basic needs met. I teach in a high-poverty school. But none of the students there face the level of poverty much of the world deals with.

Hopefully by being crazy and a little weird, I can get my charges to think about ways they can solve a problem they see in their communities.

Lamborghini Kids

I won’t be buying a Lamborghini. Ever. They’re (obviously) expensive. But why?

It takes 150 hours to build a Lamborghini. I once read that it takes 24 man hours just to stitch the leather on the seats. In contrast, somewhere between 50-75 lesser cars can be built in an hour on an assembly line. Why are Lamborghinis so expensive? Because of the work and quality of materials put into them.

I want my kids to be the Lamborghinis of the world. Kias are probably nice cars and can get you from here to there but they’re not renowned for their quality. I don’t want Kia kids.

If you want highly-valued, high-character children, you have to put in the man hours. Put the stupid remote down and get involved in the day-to-day lives of the little people that matter.


Do we need more male teachers?

I’m a rare bird – a male elementary school teacher. At trainings and education conferences I’ve been to, men are outnumbered at least 10:1. So it comes as no surprise when some well-meaning woman comes up to me and says, “Bless your heart. You know, we need more male teachers.” I always agreed with them.

Until recently.

The underlying reason for their statement is the fact that so few children have male role models in their daily lives. A male teacher would provide that model for at least 180 days. While I relish being a role model for my students, I’ve realized something.

It’s not my job.

David Popenoe wrote in his book Life Without Father:

But the decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague American society: crime; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock births to teenagers; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse and alienation among adolescents; and the growing number of women and children in poverty.

I’m supposed to make up for that?!?

Listen, there is no way that I can fill the father-sized hole in my students in 180 days. In my current class of 15, six students have their fathers in their homes. This is the highest total in my eight years teaching at my present school. I can almost always tell if Dad is around after being around my students for a few days.

More male teachers certainly wouldn’t hurt anything, but it’s not the solution.

The solution is stronger families. Stronger men. Stronger leaders. We need men who will step up and do the difficult job of raising a family. I know it’s not easy. It would be so much easier for me to check out on my three children. But that’s not what they need.

Kids don’t need more male teachers. They need their daddy to be Daddy.


Merry Christmas!

Four Boys on a Sled - 1919

Wishing you a great day full of family time, too many treats, and more family time.

Merry Christmas!


A Blast from the Past

You can probably tell by the subtle name of this blog that I don’t care too much for television. At first, I found this ad to be hilarious in its rosiness. Then I read the copy under the heading “Will television strengthen family ties?” Through my squinty eyes I read that “parents can select their children’s ‘TV diet’ from a wide variety of wholesome programming.” While a casual flip through the channels today reveals anything but a ‘wide variety of wholesome programming’, parents have the duty to monitor their kids’ viewing choices.

The Parents’ Television Council has a lovely color-coded chart that is limited in that it only covers the old-guard networks. But it does give you an idea about what other shows may contain.

There’s really not much that is wholesome and even beneficial on television today. But if your kids are going to watch something, you’d best be aware of what is in their “TV diet”.