Seventh Generation’s Stand Against Toxins

I have been purchasing Seventh Generation products for years now. It started when we lived in San Francisco and I found a little book that listed the most eco friendly companies in the United States. Seeing Seventh Generation at the top of the list made me determined to spend my money on a brand who is thoughtful about their impact on the environment. 

Over the years, I’ve become very loyal to their products. It is their products that cleaned the floors my children learned to crawl on. It is their diapers and wipes that my children wore when we need disposables. It is their detergents and soaps that washed our clothes and our dishes. 

I trust them because I know their products are safe and I choose them because I want to support companies that care about more than just making money. 

When Seventh Generation reached out to me and asked if I’d like to partner with them, I expected that like most sponsors, they wanted me to help promote their products, but they actually wanted something even better.

They wanted my help in spreading the word about a bigger message- One that goes far beyond their company and their products. Seventh Generation recently launched a petition to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen the Toxic Substance Control Act. The TSCA was last updated by the EPA 38 years ago. The act essentially grandfathers in the approval of thousands and thousands of chemicals used to make products that we all use in our homes everyday. Very few of these approved chemicals have been tested and proven safe for human exposure and yet we are cleaning our counters and wiping our door handles and washing our dishes with products containing these chemicals. 

Seventh Generation wants Congress to strengthen the rules around what chemicals can be used in household products. As it stands now, more than 50% of the chemicals in many of the household cleaning products we all use every day have never been tested for potential human toxicity. 

Seventh Generations’ goal is to take 100,00 signatures to congress next month and they need our help. They are very close to their goal and I’d love to help them reach it! 

You can stand up for safer chemicals just by signing their petition

One of Everly’s responsibilities in our family is cleaning all of the windows within her reach every Saturday. It brings me a lot of peace of mind to know that the Seventh Generation products in our home are safe for her and anyone else under our roof. 

Let’s help Seventh Generation ensure the same can be said for the chemicals used in all household products in the US!

Love,

M

It Bloomed.

Last year, I shared a little about my Grandma Doris, in the weeks that she took ill and her passing.  I spoke at her funeral and shared a story with everyone who knew and loved her:

"As many of you know, Grandma Doris had a gift for growing the most gorgeous African Violets. She had them in varying colors - some with dark green, fuzz covered leaves. Others with white and green trimmed leaves. Some with deep purple blooms, others the softest shade of lavender. Some she had even grown until they were as large as a dinner plate. 
Nearly 10 years ago, when I was 23, Grandma Doris sent me home from a visit with one of her prized violets. I tried to convince her that I was not responsible enough to care for it but she promised me that I would do just fine. Violets are such delicate plants and I had killed every green thing I’d ever cared for including a cactus. But not one to tell my grandmother no, I took it from with her instructions to keep it watered and give it plenty of sun and treat it to a little plant food every now and then.

When Brent and I moved to San Francisco, that small violet caused me a great deal of worry. How was I supposed to transport it across the country when everything we owned would be on a hot moving truck for 7 days? I decided to wrap it carefully in layer upon layer of bubble wrap, mark it all over with FRAGILE and overnight it to our new address the day before our plane left. 

When it arrived, I opened the box to find the planter had broken and almost all of the the stems had been crushed. I was distraught. It was at this same time that Grandma was going through a difficult time health wise.  I re-potted that little violet and did my best, with Grandma’s words ringing in my ears, to nurse it back to health. 

It bloomed a year later and I shared the news with grandma over the phone. In that same conversation, she told me that she was well and happy.  It sounds silly, I know - but I became convinced that there was a greater connection between my grandmother and that violet. It felt as if I was responsible for the care of a tiny piece of her. 

That violet now lives next to the sink in my kitchen. It has not bloomed in several years but the day I learned she had passed, I found myself standing in the local garden center with tears in my eyes, asking one of the workers there to help me find the right pot and food for it. I smile,  knowing that grandma is in full bloom in heaven, and here on earth, I guess I cant help but wish to see that small piece she left to me burst open again with the bright purple flowers she loved so much. 

It’s always the little things that we find peace in. And I have great peace in knowing that my grandmother, a woman of integrity, gentleness and a great love for her Heavenly father, is there with Him now. She is rejoicing in a healed body and sound mind and I know she wishes for us to do the same in her honor.

This morning, I made her famous homemade biscuit recipe for my family. I took great pleasure in making my children “funny biscuits” - little odd shaped biscuits out of the leftover dough cutouts that she always made for me and my cousins growing up. We ate them on the beautiful china adored with pink roses that she passed down to me when I got married.  It was the first time I have ever used them, as I have felt they were too precious and fancy to bring out. 

But this morning, I could think of no occasion more fitting for their use than the day we were to celebrate her life. 
As I washed my plate at the sink after breakfast, I looked over at that violet, sitting tall and green in its new pot. All those years ago, she had faith in me to love and care for that little flower, even when I was so sure I couldn’t do it. And now it lives on, a reminder of her love, her patience, and the beauty that is her eternal life in heaven.

Rest well grandma, I love you.”
Next week marks the one year anniversary of her passing. 
I have diligently fed and watered her violet for ten years now. It last bloomed five years ago. A few months back, I brought grandma’s violet to my office so that I could have some little living thing there to enjoy during my work days. The violet thrived under the flourescent lamp on my desk. 
I walked into my office last Wednesday to discover that the wish I shared at her funeral had come true. A single purple bloom had burst open between the velvety leaves. In the days since, ten more buds have started to grow and three more flowers have opened. 
When I was little, Grandma Doris would send me a card for every holiday: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, even St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t care if it sounds crazy to anyone else, but in my heart, I know it’s her way of sending her love to me as we come upon the anniversary of an entire year without her in the world. 
It bloomed.
And in the quiet, slow opening of its petals, I experienced one more gesture of her love. 
M
A picture of a boy out of my kitchen window in our first apartment in San Francisco. I found this while digging around on my old blog the other night and showed it to Brent. For all the growing up that we thought we had done when we got married, it was nothing compared to the past few years of our lives. This was from a time when only we existed.  When there was an abundance of sleep and a lack of commitments. When all there was to do was love one another. Now there are days and weeks when it takes very purposeful effort to make each other feel loved. Sometimes after the children’s needs at met, there is little left over for each other. But we try, oh how we work, to feed that fire that used to blaze untamed. The days of a wild Romeo at my window are gone. There are lines in his brow and gray in his hair. But I covet him in a way now that I never could then. Because we have loved through the mundane, the sleepless, the stress filled, the predictable and the very unfairytale moments of our lives together. And to me, that is worth more than a wistful story book sort of love.

A picture of a boy out of my kitchen window in our first apartment in San Francisco. I found this while digging around on my old blog the other night and showed it to Brent. For all the growing up that we thought we had done when we got married, it was nothing compared to the past few years of our lives. This was from a time when only we existed. When there was an abundance of sleep and a lack of commitments. When all there was to do was love one another. Now there are days and weeks when it takes very purposeful effort to make each other feel loved. Sometimes after the children’s needs at met, there is little left over for each other. But we try, oh how we work, to feed that fire that used to blaze untamed. The days of a wild Romeo at my window are gone. There are lines in his brow and gray in his hair. But I covet him in a way now that I never could then. Because we have loved through the mundane, the sleepless, the stress filled, the predictable and the very unfairytale moments of our lives together. And to me, that is worth more than a wistful story book sort of love.

RIP my old blog theme

I just discovered that some terrible fate has befallen my blog theme. I think it died of old age as I’ve changed nothing but my header for the past five years. I logged into tumblr today and was told some funny business had been going on under my account and was asked to change my password.

I have been saying for several years now that I need to have a new look and feel and it appears that my blog or some bad guy blog saboteur  has decided it was tired of my lazy, empty promises and forced my hand to make a change.

I asked around on twitter for help, but if you know a guy who knows a girl who knows how to create pretty, fresh tumblr themes - send ‘em my way! (dearbabyblog@gmail.com)

Love,

M

Five Awesome Things…

Five Awesome Things About Arlo at 2 years, 11 months. 

1. You are the most affectionate kid. Over and over all day long you love to say, “Mommy, I love you” or “You the best mommy!” and you tell daddy and Everly the same thing too. You will stop playing, run over and hug us, and then hurry back to whatever you were doing. 

2. You have become completely obsessed with super heroes. After a solid year of a cars and trucks love affair, you’ve traded them all for action figures.  You love Iron Man the most, followed by Spider Man, The Incredible Hulk and Bat Man. You just discovered Captain America so there has been a lot of talk about him lately too. You can’t get enough and love watching the young superheros shows on Netflix or running around our house in a cape, fighting crime and saving us all from bad guys. Daddy reads you superhero comics from the library and you sit there, enthralled with all of the details of each character. 

3. I find this hilarious, but you can not stand for your hands to be dirty. Your face can be covered in food but you will ask for a napkin almost immediately when we start eating and insist on wiping your hands whenever you get anything on them. I find you in the bathroom all of the time, standing on the toilet lid, playing in the water. You will often look up when caught and say, “I washin’ my hands!”. You literally could be covered head to toe in mud, but as long as your hands are clean, you are good to go. 

4. You are really into singing Old MacDonald right now. Except you like to freestyle and come up with new lyrics. According to you, Old MacDonald had some friend, had to poop, and ate a chicken on his farm recently. You love to laugh hysterically at your silly lyrics. 

5. A few months ago, you went through a stage where you were stuttering a lot. You would get really frustrated when you were hung up on the first word in a sentence. I called your pediatrician and she suspected that you were just working through a big verbal milestone. Sure enough, a few weeks later your stuttering lessened significantly and you started using bigger words and sharing more complex ideas with us. I have really loved watching you develop your language skills, Arlo. It hasn’t always come easy to you but you work so hard and always wow us with your determination.

 5 Awesome Things about Everly at 4 years, 3 months

1. You are the best dancer ever. I am not saying that because I am your mother, even though I fully admit to being biased. You just move in this incredibly weird, amazing, soulful way. I could sit and watch you move to music for hours and I often do. We have you in ballet right now, but I don’t care if you ever decide you want to go the classically trained route. I just hope you never ever stop listening to whatever it is inside you that takes over when you are dancing. It is so pure and true and wonderful. 

2. You are growing into such a wonderful companion. We spend a lot of time together each week just running errands and bopping around town. You are so easy to be with and I love having you along because you listen well and behave yourself. You are four years old and to this day, I can say that you have never had a public tantrum. Never once. You’ve definitely had some monster meltdowns in the car or at home, but bless your heart, you’ve spared me in public. I never hesitate to bring you along because I always enjoy having you there with me. 

3. You are really absorbing so much around you. We have intentionally waited to start any kind of formal education with you and have focused on exposing you to creative, free play as long as possible. Despite that, you’ve learned to write your name, your brothers name, and many letters and words on your own. You love to use words like “similar” and “hilarious” when you describe things. Last week you asked me a question and I answered with “potentially”. You asked what that meant and I explained. That night I asked you to please join us for dinner and you responded, “I will potentially be there after I’m done playing with my babies.” I had a good laugh, even if I didn’t like your answer. 

4. You are obsessed with your birthday. It’s a joke between your father and I now, because you bring it up several times a day. Usually you like to tell us what your next birthday party is going to be like, but sometimes you tell us who you want us to invite or what kind of cake you plan to have. You always know whose birthday is coming next in our family and you remind them for weeks leading up to it. 

5. You are still my fierce and fiery girl, but as you have transitioned into four, that crazy emotion of three feels like it is lessening with each passing day. Good gracious three was crazy! But I can really see you maturing emotionally and you’re ability to recognize your feelings and express yourself continues to grow. It’s hard sometimes, when it feels like you are running head first into the boundaries we set - but you make choices and do little things all of the time that remind us that you are growing up to be a phenomenal girl. 

A Birthday

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We threw together a little last minute dinner party to celebrate my birthday last Saturday. (It was kind of a miracle that babysitters and an uncommitted Saturday night happened on 2 days notice.) I had hoped to have dinner in our front yard with lights in the trees, but the forecast called for a night of rain and storms, so we pushed back furniture, pinned the lights to the walls and squeezed 20 people into our small living and dining room.

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Natasha spent an afternoon procuring the ingredients to make my favorite cocktail, a Pimms Cup- she even made a ginger based simple syrup from scratch. She loaded it with mint and cucumbers and lemons - and Oh man, were they good. 

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Among our closest friends, we are fortunate enough to have a slew of amazing cooks. Our potluck spread included a ridiculous charcuterie board, mussels in white wine sauce, a thai soba noodle dish, kale salad with raisins and pine nuts, grilled citrus rubbed chicken, roasted broccoli, stuffed peppers and a homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert. It was just incredible!

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Our party was interrupted momentarily after dinner when all of our phones went off with a tornado warning. Suddenly everyone was on the phone to grandparents and baby sitters making sure all of our little ones were safe. 

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After dinner we moved the long table in the living room and we had a mini house concert with friends playing djembe, violin, banjo and guitar. There was a distinct moment when I was sitting crossed legged in a chair, listening to everyone sing Van Morrison and I just looked around the room felt so happy and satisfied. 

In my 33 years, I have managed to find an incredible, hilarious, and supportive group of people to go through this life with me. The “stuff” of life isn’t where I measure my success, it’s in the people who show up when there is good to be celebrate or hardships to be faced. And in that department, my riches are many. 

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I welcome 33. Every day I ask God for another day, another year, and a lifetime to see my children grow up…. to have the chance to love my husband as a very old man. 

I want to enjoy growing older. To laugh a lot along the way. To build my wealth in people. And to live purposefully and with intention.  My twenties were tumultuous- a roller coaster of discovering myself, often fun and mostly unstable. But here, in my thirties, I have found a treasure I spent most of the last decade wishing for. I don’t know what trials and lessons lie ahead, but today, I am savoring the warmth and comfort of feeling content. 

Love,

M

Get Happy with Boden!

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Today is International Happiness Day! To celebrate, Boden is offering 20% off of everything online with the promo code: HPY1 (for UK customers) & HPY2 (for US folks)

Brent snapped a few pics of me and my happy little babes a few weeks ago in some of our favorite Boden pieces. Their spring line is packed full of bright hues and fun patterns.

Check it out at Boden.com and happy shopping!

Love,

M

(Some of the clothing featured in this post was provided care of Boden)

Tags: Boden

It’s time for another episode of Everly’s cooking show! We shot this a month ago, but I’ve been swamped at work and haven’t had a chance to edit it. Since a lot of the North East was hit with snow again this week, this may be your last chance to make a delicious wintery treat. (let’s hope so - good gracious longest winter ever!)

I let Everly watch the finished video this morning and she said, “Whoa! I am really good on this show.” ha! Always humble, that one.

Enjoy!

Work Clothes/Play Clothes

Oh man! How long has it been since I did a fashion post? I went back and looked and it’s been nearly four months! I used to do these monthly and hope that with the warmer weather on the way and a slow down in my schedule that I’ll be able to document more of the clothes I wear to work and to play. 

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Play Clothes. 

I wore this so long ago, I’m not entirely sure where I wore it- but this is my kind of outfit. I love this cropped, long sleeve top because it allows me to wear my maxi dresses during winter. Also, these black boots are a wardrobe staple - they go with EVERYTHING! 

Banded Crop Top: c/o Minx Boutique (Bonus- it’s only $26!)

Maxi Dress: Forever21

Boots: c/o Minx Boutique

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Work Clothes.

This is pushing it in terms of work appropriate but I’ve definitely been guilty of wearing things to the office every now and then that were probably more suited for the weekend. I love how layering a sweater with a sleeveless dress created an entirely new look. I was self concious and tugged at the bottom of this dress all day!  I think I wouldn’t have worried if my hemline was about two inches longer. Even if I did like the outfit, I don’t think I’ll be wearing this particular dress again any time soon!

Sweater: Old Navy

Dress: Stitch Fix

Tights: Target

Necklace: c/o Minx Boutique

Tabitha Tie Wedges: c/o Minx Boutique

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Work Clothes. 

I wore this right before the holidays and joked that I looked like Santa clause with my red shirt and big brass belt buckle! You can’t tell it in this photo, but this shirt has a pretty brass colored sequined color that made it really fun to wear. Also, I have been wearing these black heels TO DEATH!

Button down top: Target

Belt: Vintage

Jeans: Kensie

Shoes: DSW

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Play Clothes. 

I totally love this photo of me and my silly kids! I got really into this sweater/dress layer technique over the winter and so I did it A LOT. Here I’ve layered my favorite fisherman sweater underneath a really fun little graphic dress. I felt great in this!

Sweater: Kensie

Dress: Stitch Fix

Tights: H&M

Boots Vintage

On Everly

Pink coat: Crewcuts

Dress: Vintage

Leggings: (A little DIY I made with a bleach pen)

Shoes: Carters

On Arlo:

Pants: Zulily

Plaid button down: Old Navy

Tshirt: Zulily

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Work Clothes.

Ooof. This is a bit of a rough photo (Arlo hasn’t been sleeping well lately, so neither have we!) and the state of my roots is just beyond at this point (Those unexpected household expenses keep pushing “get my hair done” further and further down on the things to pay for list) But despite all of it, I loved this outfit, so I’ve decided to post it anyway. We were having a little Valentine’s day themed event at work and so I wanted to wear something to fit the day. I never fail to get one million compliments when I wear this skirt. And also —- I loved the shoes the Minx sent me so much in black that I bought myself the taupe pair too. They are definitely the most versatile shoes in my closet. 

Top: Stitch Fix

Show Stopper Tulle Skirt: c/o Minx Boutique

Tabitha Tie Wedges: Minx Asheville 

So that’s what I’ve been wearing lately! I promise not to wait so long to post my next Work Clothes/Play Clothes post. 

Love,

M

This Thing Called Yoga…

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen my head first dive into the world of yoga this year. It started innocently enough. A few girlfriends of mine participated in a yoga challenge where each day you try a different post. 

After seeing them stand on their hands and balance on their arms, I thought - I want to try! It all looked gymnasticky in a way that the 6 year old inside me always longs for. I did a few of the daily poses and quickly realized I was going to hurt myself if I just jumped into doing challenging poses without any kind of background or foundation in yoga. 

I have always hated to work out. I don’t have the time or money to go to a gym. Despite the fact that Brent and a large chunk of my friends love to run, I have always hated it. I did a 6 week workout class offered in the late afternoon by my company last fall - but even that didn’t keep me motivated to continue once it ended.

Like most people, motivation has always been my greatest challenge. Beyond that, after working 8 hours, and then jumping into making dinner and soaking in what little time I have with the kids before they go to sleep, I had pretty much convinced myself that I was out of options when it came to exercise. 

I needed something quiet, that I could do on my own, with little to no equipment, without ever having to leave my home at 11 o’clock at night.

That silly instagram yoga challenge lit a spark and very quickly I realized that yoga could meet all of my needs with the added bonus of helping to relieve some stress.

I started doing basic yoga routines that I could find on youtube. I didn’t know a Vinyasa from an Ashtanga so in the beginning I was just looking for anything that seemed doable. At the same time, I started to follow a ton of yoga focused instagram accounts where people would post videos that showed how they go into posts & what considerations you needed to make. 

I found myself excited every day to throw on something comfortable and do one of the yoga practices I was learning after the kids were in bed. I think what also really kept me engaged with the challenge of doing what looked impossible to me. I am so competitive with myself. If I discover something I can’t do, I can get a little obsessive about trying it over and over again until I figure it out. This has proven to be a good and bad trait when it comes to yoga. 

I’ll admit right now, I know sometimes I am doing poses that are way too advanced for someone who has only been practicing for two months. But it is those technical, challenging poses that have kept me hungry to keep at it. So every night, I’ll do a 45 minute vinyasa flow practice (hello sun salutations!) and once I’m warmed up, I’ll work on one or two of the advanced poses that I’ve seen others do and want to learn myself. 

I am covered in bruises from falling out of headstand. I have fallen on my face dozens of times practicing crow or flying pigeon. But honestly, I just love it so much, I don’t even care. Fall down, try again, repeat. Eventually, it starts to come together and the thrill of holding a difficult pose is a bit addictive!

A lot of people have told me that while all the enthusiasm is great - what I really need is a class where I can learn proper placement and breathing. And they are right - but the reality is that I can’t afford to take a regular class and the free ones offered at work are at times that my schedule doesn’t allow me to go. So the alternative for me is watching videos of workouts, studying placement and breathing, reading magazine articles and googling how-tos on technique and correcting when I discovered that what I was doing something incorrectly. Often, I will video record my practice and then watch it back so that I can see what my feet or arms or posture looks like.  I ask anyone I know who practices regularly to show me things. I am so hungry to learn but trying to make the best of the resources I have. 

A few weeks back, I discovered yogaglo.com and it has taken my practice to the next level. It’s $15 a month (or about the cost of one class at my local studio!) and gives me access to hundreds of videos that I can break down based on style, length of class, complexity, theme, etc. 

The classes are really good, with a realistic camera angle in a REAL yoga studio in LA. People taking the class in the video are sometimes a little wobbly, just like me, which I like. The teachers talk about hand and foot placements, and have taught me a lot about proper breathing. I love that they offer 5 minute videos that I can do at my desk at work and hour long videos on how to work into scorpion or specifically focused on arm balances. I’m not affiliated with them in anyway - but I’m really so happy to have discovered this online resource. 

It has turned my practice from a series of moves into what is starting to feel like a real practice. Fluid and purposeful. And still, after every class, I will take some time to work on holding flying pigeon longer and longer. Or bending slowly into forearm scorpion. I laugh at myself when I discover I’ve been getting into a pose all wrong and love discovering that the right way feels easier and more sturdy. 

I am watching my body change. I am becoming stronger than I have ever been before, which is so exciting to me. I have always been a bit scrappy and weak so getting tone in my arms and being able to bend up into a headstand and then hold it for several minutes is so rewarding. It’s just so exciting to finally feel like I’ve found that “thing” that I was looking for when it came to exercise and mind/body wellness. I am so new to all of this, but I am so eager to learn and I can’t wait to really know what I am doing one day. 

I just thought I’d share a little about my experience as I think there are probably a lot of other women out there feeling just as frustrated with the whole idea of exercise as I have been. Yoga is so much more than just a work out - the hardest parts for me have been how much it tests my mental focus and forces me to slow down and be purposeful. But it also provides a lot of opportunity to have fun and get creative. I am absolutely loving it and just wanted to share a little bit about my experience here. 

Love,  Namaste!

M

Tags: yoga

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