We've spent the last year reading through our Herb Fairies books and the kids still love them! It's been such a cool way for them to learn about different herbs and really internalize their medicinal uses. Sam was even able to use an herb once when we were out hiking. It was such a proud moment for him.
We've had such a wonderful experience with the kids' preschool Waldorf teacher. When I used to think of Waldorf I thought of pretty wooden toys, play silks and imaginitive, fairytale-inspired play. While I still have a LOT to learn, this is what I now know about Waldorf and here are a few resources to get you started if you're interested too:)
You guys, I'm super excited about this Herb Fairies Book Club I just signed up for, but I feel so bad because the sign up period has already closed! I found out about it just before it closed and only barely got in in time, otherwise I totally would've mentioned it on here earlier. But it will open up again next April, so bookmark it, or pin it, or whatever, because it looks awesome!
The plan has always been to homeschool the kids. But recently we thought it would be fun for Sam to go to preschool, not so much for academics, but just to have a chance to run around and play with some other kids. And let's be honest, Mom thought a little break a few times a week wouldn't be too shabby either:) So, we visited a local preschool that we'd heard good things about. We visited a class and spent about an hour just hanging out and observing. Sam did circle time and even participated in show-and-tell (he had randomly brought in a leaf from outside- cute!). He loved it and was excited to go.
But on his first day he came home crying. This was normal, we thought, and so we talked about it and decided to see it through for at least two weeks. He didn't cry anymore for the next week and a half, but he did tell me, quite eloquently, about what he didn't like about it and that he really wanted to do homeschool instead. I also caught him and Viv plotting how to sneak her into class with him one moring, which was very sweet.
He finally had another sad day, after which I told him, "Next time will be the two week mark, let's do one more day and see if you feel any different." But even after a Valentine's party, he was still positive that preschool was not for him. On the last day I picked him up and he was smiling, I thought maybe he'd decided he loved it after all. I said, "You look happy, did you have a good day?" He said, "I am happy... because today's my last day!"
So, we learned a few things with this little experiment.
So, what are we doing for homeschooling? Lots of little things, but mostly a lot of play and a tiny bit of more structured time.
How have you decided what educational route to take with your kids?
PS Here are a few posts you might have missed:
You can stay up to date with the latest posts (and giveaways happening soon!) and announcements HERE. Also, since Clayton just brought home three (!!) occasional tables that are now in my living room, we're doing a bit more clearing out, so here's an $800 table for almost half the price for you locals:)
I've been really excited to share this book with you. The first night we had it I sat up reading through all the projects. We're definitely incorporating it into this year's homeschooling routine.
This guest post comes from Kirsten of HATCHEDit.com, created to assist the chief executive officer of every family: MOM.
The long haul.
Winter Holiday Break may seem like the middle of the year, but in fact it’s more like the 10-mile marker in a marathon. Still ahead? 16.2 more miles…which translates to approximately 735 hours of school until summer vacation. Yikes!
My daughter always does better in the second half of the New Year when we refresh her school supplies. Crisp new folders, fresh loose leaf paper, and new pencils may sound simplistic, but it reinvigorates her to stay organized for the foreseeable future. Of course, for parents whether your children are educated in or out of the home, in diapers or reaching for that diploma, the job of educating a child is constant. And sometimes we need more than just new pencils to refocus our efforts!
Sam didn't exactly set his own goal for 2011, but I'd been wanting to try out that Rosetta Stone software for quite some time and we finally got it. I noticed that Sam picked up the Spanish words in this book I was reading him (an English picture book with a few Spanish words) and I would catch him repeating them throughout the day. I've often lamented that we don't have bilingual friends or a Spanish playgroup for him to go to or something like that because his little brain is so wired for language acquisition right now. Our library offers a language learning course, but the style seems too "teach-y" and not enough like the way we naturally learn. Of all the programs I checked out, I like this one the best because it seems similar to the way babies learn language. There's no English instruction, everything is in Spanish and is very visual. You see pictures, hear the words in Spanish, then you hear the word and pick the right picture. As you go along you build on what you know, just the way little kids learn their native language. The program isn't designed for little kids, but when Sam and I do it together it works really well. You can choose what emphasis you want (grammar, vocab, speaking etc.) and I've set ours to speaking and listening for Sam. He sits on my lap and wears the headphones with the microphone. I can see the words on the screen and hear his headphones a bit so I operate the mouse and he repeats everything he hears; it works great. It's so interesting to watch him learn. He started out kind of butchering the Spanish sounds that we don't use in English, but already he's smoother and learning the new sounds and rhythms of a different languge. Sometimes we go back and do the pronunciation part again. Our appraoch is pretty loosey-goosey and low pressure so it's fun for him. He enjoys just sitting on my lap and and having some mama time, and I think if we do it regularly, even if it's only a few minutes at a time, that he'll really pick it up. It's pretty exciting to watch. I've had fun brushing up on my Spanish too. Some day, when the kids are older, I'd love to set a goal as a family to learn a language to a certain level of proficiency and then reward ourselves with a trip somewhere we could speak the new language.
This book has been on my to-read list for quite awhile. When we formed our learning co-op we were originally going to have a moms' reading group to go along with it where we read books on education from various perspectives, but it never quite got off the ground. I finally brought it home from the library and have really been enjoying it. I so appreciate when an author can distill ideas down such that they're accessible to anyone. This book really gives you a feel for what Montessori is all about and how you could incorporate those principles into your home.
I got so excited once I was a chapter or two in because the philosophy really resonated with me. Observations and ideas that Maria Montessori had about how children learn and about how best to facilitate that learning fall right in line with my own observations and inclinations about Sam. I've definitely noticed "sensitive periods" where he's particularly open to absorbing new information; it was really interesting to read the descriptions of these various stages. And I LOVE the ideas about creating a more child-friendly home. I was already a fan of For Small Hands, but am even more excited about getting Sam some mini-versions of adult tools and implements now that I've read more about the reasoning behind it.
I felt like this was a great "tip of the iceberg" book if you're interested in learning more about the Montessori method. I got some of Maria Montessori's books to read next, now that I have a feel for the overarching ideas. Anyone have any recommendations about other great resources to learn about Montessori? Or other educational philosophies worth looking into?
Every time I've attempted 100% whole wheat tortillas in the past, I've ended up with whole wheat crackers instead. Tasty, but not exactly what I was aiming for. These tortillas were the first thing I've made with my new sourdough starter, which I've had so much fun raising. Is that the right term? Brewing? Cultivating? It is sort of like a pet; I do have to feed it twice a day after all, so I suppose raising is an appropriate term. Anyway, I built it up the night before and then started on my tortillas the next morning!
One thing that will take some getting used to is that you can't just whip something up when the mood strikes. I had to build up my starter the previous day, mix the ingredients in the morning and then let it sit all day so it would be ready to cook up by dinner time. But it was worth the wait.
The thing about whole wheat tortillas is that they make the meal so much heartier. I usually eat several burritos when we use store bought ones, but with these just one fills me right up. And the taste is so much more complex. Usually I hardly notice the wrapping; when you eat a burrito, it's all about the filling. But with these the tortilla carried its own against the tasty beans and salsa.
But the thing that really won me over was the wrapability! That's right, the ability to wrap. These tortillas are actually soft and pliable, unlike others I've made that crumble or crack when you try to roll anything up in them. They were best hot off the grill, but have even stayed quite tasty and soft after a couple days in the fridge. I'm completely sold and so happy to have found a recipe for tortillas that's worth repeating!
After the tortillas, encouraged by the smashing success, I tried a chocolate sourdough cake. Hooray! More culinary triumph! I'm not one to enjoy overly sweet desserts. Pretty much anything pre-made is too sweet for me. This cake was perfect. It only had 1/2 cup of sucanat in the cake and some maple syrup in the frosting. With only a modest amount of sweetener, the other flavors were able to shine through: the nutty wheat, the tang of the sourdough, the bite of the chocolate... Oh, and the chocolate coconut frosting!! Yum! It was just coconut cream, chocolate powder and maple syrup and it was so divine! I love simple frostings like this. Another favorite is cream cheese and honey. There's a recipe for spice cake on the site I haven't tried yet; it just might be the perfect vehicle for some cream cheese frosting...
I can't believe how excited I am about this bubbly goo on my counter. I'm in awe that I made this, or at least created the right environment for it to grow. I feel like some sort of mad scientist. Somehow it's just the most exciting thing to be nurturing a colony of little friendly yeasts and bacteria. I love how each time it's ready for its feeding (just like a real pet!) it's doubled in size and is riddled with bubbles.
I tried making my own starter once before and I'm not sure what went wrong, but it just never took off and then I got discouraged and tossed it. Somehow I thought it was this long, laborious process. But this is seriously the easiest thing. I even feel a little sheepish for my prior hesitancy. You just do the same thing twice a day (take out half the starter and then feed it water and flour) for a few weeks until it gets nice and strong.
Being able to watch someone go through the process and explain it in detail was just the perfect thing for me though. The previous time I read the instructions in a book. And there's just nothing like learning from someone as they do something. Granted, the perfect situation would be if they were right there in your kitchen, but watching a short video really is the next best thing. I wasn't sure I would like learning in that format, but I think it really suits me. Now I can hardly wait for it to mature enough that I can try it out on some pancakes!
Erin writes about the intersection of frugality and green living at The Green Phone Booth and The Sustainable Triangle. She lives in Raleigh, NC with her four favorite fellows (her husband and three sons). I love this post for multiple reasons; I have stacks and stacks of journals chronically every stage of my life and have found them such a valuable resource both in sorting through issues as I encounter them and in reflecting later on, I love family traditions and this sounds like such a fun and valuable one, I also love all the inherent benefits like increased literacy, family time and sharing thoughts and feelings together, learning to stick with something etc. etc. This reminds me that I need to bust out my journal and start recording some of the important things that have been happening around here lately!
"Journal time!" I call to my husband and three kids.
My husband gathers up paper and pens while I gather the the boys around the table.
"What day is it?" one kid asks. "What did I do this week?" says another.
And then the quiet of concentration settles upon us as we each record the events of the week - some in drawings, some in words, some with more words than others. When everyone is done, I'll gather up the papers and store them away in a three ring binder, our family journal that the boys can flip through at will to relive the events of the past year.
This is our Sunday night ritual, a tradition my own parents started when I was little and that I revived with my family nearly a year ago. My parents did it a little differently, providing each of us with our own hardcover journal to write or draw in each week, and to this day, I love to look back at the silly drawings and simple stories from my childhood. And although my parents abandoned the journal ritual after just a few years, I had developed a personal journaling habit that I kept up into adulthood.
I love the thoughts Sara shares here about trusting our children and helping them grow into capable, confident adults. Even though my kids are still small, I'm always thinking about the homeschooling years ahead and contemplating how best to encourage their learning and growth. I've always been impressed with the sorts of kids that emerge from Montessori programs (and isn't that the best indicator of the success of a teaching model?) and plan on incorporating some of the ideas in our own home.
I teach 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade at a public Montessori school in Houston. I am a Montessori teacher because I believe that if we change the way we educate children, we can change the world. I experienced one of my most memorable teaching moments of all time: I stood back while my third graders planned and executed their very own field trip.
First, they collected and developed ideas (just like we do in writing and research!) about where they wanted to go. They brainstormed lots of ideas, including going back to the Houston Arboretum or the zoo, to our pen pals' school across town, to Rice University, downtown Houston to see the "highest" and "lowest," etc. They ended up picking the latter option, and they set out to plan the entire trip. For example, they had to figured out how to get from our school to their first destination on the city bus. They also had to create an itinerary for the day, decide how much money to bring, debate between a picnic or a restaurant lunch, keep an ongoing "To Bring" list, and call the bus company to confirm the schedule.During the field trip, they had to use a compass and a map to navigate the streets of downtown Houston, pay cashiers, ask security guards for directions, hold doors for people, and solve issues that came up along the way.
Some girlfriends and I have started a weekly learning co-op for our two and three year olds. So far I'm loving it, and so are the kiddos. The moms take turns teaching and being the support mom (we discovered that two moms worked best), so we end up teaching about once a month.
We try to structure it loosely so the kids know what to expect and so there's some continuity. Each month we pick a theme (last month's was nature, this month's is cultures) and use that to dictate what we teach. The kids bring a little pillow to sit on and we start each class in a circle, singing a welcome song and reading a story or two. Then, while their attention spans are still somewhat intact we do a craft and from there it just kind of goes how it goes. We do songs and games, have a snack about halfway through, have some unstructured outdoor time and then the moms come to gather everyone up.
The kids really look forward to it and it's been a great way to get them together for a little socialization and learning about how to be in a group. And it's fun to see that they are learning too; I hear them singing songs they've learned at co-op, or relating random facts about bugs or gardens. In the picture above Sam is displaying his sun catcher from a class on weather. And in the picture below the kids are decorating dragonfly wings for their class on bugs.
I love co-ops in all forms; it's such a brilliant way to maximize your resources and build community. I especially love the idea of utilizing other moms to help teach my kids, especially as I plan on home schooling, I think this will be a great way to not burn out and to fill in areas where I'm weaker. Plus, having a little mid-week break where I can run errands kid-free is a nice perk too.
I'm so in love with this new website my girlfriend recommended. You input all the titles of books you own, but would be happy to trade, and then create a wish list of all the books you'd like and the computer gets to work matching you up with people to trade books with! We've been getting a steady stream of new books in the mail ever since I signed up; Sam thinks it's his birthday every day! There's something so satisfying about connecting with other people for a mutually beneficial endeavor. I somehow feel like I'm pulling one over on life, getting great stuff for free. I once attended this really fabulous conference on teaching economics and they did a wonderful activity that demonstrated how free trade increases wealth, which can be a hard concept to grasp since the amount of actual stuff doesn't change, only its value changes (am I boring you? Sorry, I think economics is really fascinating!). I just keep thinking about that principle when I'm trading books I don't really value for books that have a lot of value to me and then, all of a sudden, we're all richer! I own more goodies that are worth more to me, and so does the person who got my books. It's brilliant! And if grooving on economic principles in action doesn't turn you on, how about just getting random surprises in the mail? Everyone loves getting treats in the mail. I've gotten a few books for myself and quite a few picture books for Sam. There are a few books that I repeatedly check out of the library, but have been too stingy to just go out and buy, but I've been able to get them on Swap Tree. Check it out; I think you'll love it!
Is anyone else really excited about the Babies movie opening this weekend? I may be geeking out a bit because I was an anthropology major in college and happen to be six months pregnant at the moment. But I can't think of a movie I'd want to see more than this one!
This is what I loved about anthropology; life on the micro-level, learning how people live their day-to-day to lives, how they cook, their relationships etc. How we raise babies is such an integral part of who we are as individuals and who we are as a larger society. My sister-in-laws and I are having a little girls' afternoon out tomorrow to catch the movie. I think I'll make kettle corn...
PS I had a professor in college that lived with the Himba (the African people in the movie) and wrote a wonderful book about it. It's enjoyable even if you're not a anthro geek like me:)
PPS Sam LOVES watching the trailer on my computer. He asks to watch "the baby movie" all the time. I might have to get the DVD when it comes out...
Last weekend I went to this wonderful class (from the same woman that did Herbs 101 and is organizing the Holistic Living Conference) about how to make your own herbal remedies. It was so empowering to learn about doing something that I've previously relied on other people to do for me. I'll use single herbs here and there, and certainly essential oils. But I've never gone full out and made my own salves or tinctures. It just seemed a bit too involved and overwhelming. But watching the teacher demonstrate as she talked about the process, it just seemed so doable!
She first demonstrated making a salve. She used a Dr. Christopher (a Utah herbalist that practiced in the 50s) formula called Bone, Flesh and Cartilage that's for all sorts of problems with any of those things; sprains, burns, breaks, rashes, bruises etc. She'd had the combination of herbs soaking in olive oil for two weeks. Then she just strained it, squeezing out the extra oil, and mixed it with some beeswax in a crock pot and poured it into cute little tubs. She added a few drops of lavender essential oil at the end too. So easy though, right? She sent us each home with a little jar of the BF&C salve, which I've been using on a scar on Sam's hand (he got a chemical burn from a faulty IV at the hospital and still has quite the scar). But as soon as it's gone I think I'll try my hand at mixing some up myself!
She also showed us how to make tinctures and encapsulate dried herbs. Encapsulation was also amazingly simple, so much so that you wonder why you would ever buy herbal supplements when it's so easy and cheap to make them yourself and you can know exactly what goes into them. You basically just have this little box with the capsules in it, pack in the powdered herbs, snap on the top and then pop out your perfect little herb pills- genius! And making tinctures was about the same as making a salve, except that you soak the herbs in glycerin, alcohol or vinegar for two weeks instead of olive oil, then strain it and put it in little dropper jars. She sent us home with a blend of herbs designed to balance your hormones, perfect for the pregnant mama! I'd totally recommend taking her classes (they're free!) if you're local, or finding someone to teach you if you're not. You could also just get some books at the library if you learn well that way. I just love seeing someone demonstrate, it's so easy for me to absorb the information that way. Keep your eyes out for some homemade remedies showing up here in the next few months as I try my hand at my own lotions and potions!
I must admit, I LOVE learning! I'll learn about anything; dinosaurs, black holes, crochet patterns, mating habits of moths, grammar, the science behind rising bread dough- anything! So, I'm extra excited to home school Sam and help feed that insatiable curiosity that I know he has as well. He's finally getting old enough that the things he's interested in are interesting to me as well. We love visiting the natural history museum, where he keeps me busy with a constant stream of "What's that? What are those? What's this?"
It rekindles my own curiosity and enthusiasm to be around someone who's so excited about learning about the world around him. I love this post about home schooling; it gets me so excited about all the wonderful things we can learn and create together with no limits on how, where or what we learn.
Sam has recently discovered a love of bugs. He will run up to me with a hapless beetle clutched between his tiny fingers shouting, "a Box Elder Beetle!" I love that he knows what that is and is so thrilled to examine it, ask questions and learn all about it. He is a fearless explorer and an absolute sponge for knowledge about his latest interests. I picked up a cheap field guide to insects and it's his new favorite book (he's reading it to piggy in the picture below). He can name so many of the bugs now and I've learned a ton too! I now know how to tell the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly (it's in the wings), and between crickets and grasshoppers (it's in the antennae) and have been introduced to a whole world of fascinating and beautiful (okay, and some gross) bugs that I didn't even know existed! Thank goodness for curious little ones that remind me to be curious too.
I'm so excited about this conference coming up in June! Remember the great Herbs 101 class I went to? The woman who taught the class is the mastermind behind the conference and it promises to be amazing and inspiring. The mission of the conference is "to help all people draw
closer to Christ by discovering His hidden treasures of knowledge for
the health and healing of the mind, body and spirit." I absolutely love thinking about how our bodies are designed to be healthy, how we are built to be happy and how the paths to those things are often the simplest routes; so inspiring!
There are six hour-long sessions throughout the day where you can choose from a whole range of lectures and classes to attend. There's also time for a lunch break and time to peruse all the vendors that will be there. Here's what I think I'll be taking (it's so hard to choose, though!):
Pain Relief without Medication
Pain is almost always a sign of inflammation, which is the body’s primary response to tissue damage. In this class, I’ll cover what happens when tissues get injured and how inflammation can be rapidly reversed. I’ll demonstrate basic techniques for completely relieving pain in minor injuries in 5 to 20 minutes. I’ll also talk about how to apply these same principles to ease chronic aches and pains.
Sharing the triumphs and errors in mothering that have taught valuable lessons. Simple ideas to incorporate into our lives to strengthen ourselves and our families and bring more harmony to our hearts and homes.
God has designed families. A mother’s purpose is divinely given. Inspiration is available to guide us. Pregnancy and labor are natural, normal processes with both physical and spiritual benefits. You can have a natural birth—I’ll share tips on how to prepare.
Pass the Sugar, Please!
On average each American eats 30lbs of sugar per year. Come learn how to eat sweet healthily. Discover alternative sweeteners found in nature. Learn the facts about High Fructose Corn Syrup and processed sugars. Balance your palate to make naturally sweet foods sweeter. Over 100 recipes have been gathered and will be shared, including Green Drinks and naturally sweetened treats! GREAT class for diabetics.You can read about the various speakers and what they'll be teaching here (scroll down) and more details on the conference blog. If you'll be in Utah this coming June I hope to see you there!!
Some days I'm looking for anything, anything at all, to keep Sam busy. Luckily he's really quite good at focusing on one thing and actually has a pretty great attention span for an almost-two year old. So, with a little creativity, I can usually find something that will entertain him for maybe a solid twenty minutes. That's like a whole hour in mom time!
He really like tiny things, and things with lots of pieces, so he was thrilled when I dumped a bunch of beans and lentils in various lids and let him glue them onto paper. Turns out he wasn't so good at squeezing the glue out, it takes some serious hand strength. So, I squiggled glue all over the paper and let him go at it with the beans. He was so meticulous and concentrated. I love seeing him experience new things, and the dedication and focus that he gives projects.
Even though the point was to give me a few minutes peace while he worked on a project, the piles of beans and adorable little guy were too appealing to walk away from. So, I stayed and watched him create his art, bean by bean, even adding a few of my own. I love that he's getting old enough for projects I enjoy as well. Not that I'd make bean art myself, given a block of free time, but it's still fun to get down on my knees next to him and share in the creative process.
Sometimes the thrifting gods are just on your side. I was complaining to Clay that I wanted to get Sam an easel, but I couldn't find any solid wooden ones for less than $60. "I think I saw one at D.I." he said. So, we hurried over there, and lo and behold, it was still there! That, in and of itself, was a miracle of a semi-religious nature. The thrifting golden rule is "Buy it When You See it!" But it was still there a couple days later and we happily snatched it up.
With a little soap and water I was able to removed the old paint and marker stains and get it looking brand new. Of course, Sam quickly decorated it with his own marker and paint splotches. But, I like the looks of his much better than the other ones. It's a really sturdy one, the kind you'd find in a school, that can stand up to lots of wear and tear. I was so thrilled to find it!
Sam has been equally enthusiastic about using it several times a day. It thrills me to see him exploring color and texture, layering paint, trying new brush techniques, rejoicing at the cacophony of color he creates and telling me elaborate stories about what he's painting. The painting above is of a hippo splashing in the water; do you see it?
Naturally, we think Sam is quite gifted; we ooh and aah over each brush stroke and each completed masterpiece. But I'm already wondering, where will I put all these precious masterpieces... ?
When I went to that great Herbs 101 class, the teacher also handed out a list of the super-bad personal care villains, the stuff you really want to avoid. I don't think she'd mind me sharing, so here's the list (I've linked each to more in-depth information). You can skip to the bottom for a list of healthy alternatives.
DEA, MEA, TEA: These can cause allergic reactions, irritate eyes, dry hair and skin and they're a liver and kidney carcinogen.
Petrolatum (aka mineral oil, vaseline, paraffinum, liquidum and baby oil): Causes photosensitivity, strips the natural oils from your body and hair, causes premature aging, causes acne and prevents the elimination of toxins from the body.
Imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin: preservatives that can cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, insomnia and asthma. They also weaken the immune system and are carcinogenic. You'll find them in body and hair care products, antiperspirants and nail polish.Alcohol or isopropyl: This is a denaturant, meaning it alters the structure of other chemicals. It causes nausea, vomiting, headaches, flushing, depression, dries skin and hair, creates cracks and fissures in the skin and encourages bacterial growth.
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS): This is found in shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, and body washes. It's a detergent that causes eye irritation and can cause permanent damage to the eyes, skin rashes, hair loss, flaking mouth and mouth ulcers. In combination with other ingredients it can form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. It easily penetrates the skin and can lodge itself in the heart, lungs, liver and brain.
Padimate-O (aka octyl dimethyl, PABA): This is found mostly in sunscreens and is a nitrosamine-forming agent.
Methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl paraben: This is used to extend product shelf life and inhibit microbial growth. It's highly toxic. It can cause rashes and other allergic reaction and is also a gender bender- yikes! It's highly estrogenic.
Synthetic colors: Coal tar dyes are generally labeled as FDC7 or D4C followed by a number. They are very carcinogenic!
Talc: It's found in baby powders, face powders, and body powders, as well as on some contraceptives such as condoms. It is a known carcinogen and a major source of ovarian cancer when used in the genital area. It can also lodge in the lungs, causing respiratory disorders.
Fragrance: These are usually petroleum-based. They can cause headaches, dizziness,rashes, respiratory problems, vomiting, skin irritations and multiple chemical sensitivity.
Okay, whew! That was a lot of scary stuff. But don't despair, there are good products out there! Here are a few sources for products without all that yucky stuff. Once you get used to reading labels and find a few brands you can trust, it's not nearly so overwhelming to steer clear of the bad stuff.
Aubrey Organics for hair and body care.
Baby Bear Shop for baby and mama products.
LuSa Organics for clean, delicious-smelling soaps.
Vegan (casein-free) condoms (not sure if they have talc or not, but I think Durex doesn't.)Dr. Bronner
Badger Balm for healthy sunscreen