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Calvin’s Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party


Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party

If you know Calvin, either in real life or from my IG feed, you know garbage trucks are his favorite thing in life. And you also know he’s had a rough couple of months with a health scare and physical therapy for his toe walking. He also hasn’t had a birthday party since he turned one, and last year we were in the process of a cross country move and weren’t even in our house yet on his birthday. So I thought he deserved a super special garbage truck birthday party at our home and I was determined to make it as awesome as he is.

Unfortunately, minutes after we snapped this photo and guests had only been there for about 10 minutes, the sky went black and it started pouring. The forecast had shown no rain and even as it was raining the radar was clear. So, everyone rushed inside and the party was soaked. The canopy blew over, the garbage in our “dumpster” was sopping wet, and the backyard was a disaster. We saved the food, brought the cooler inside, and 20+ kids proceeded to run wild all over my house. It was basically my worst birthday party nightmare come true. Despite kids eating apple sauce pouches and cookies while jumping on my furniture with shoes on (true story) we survived and Calvin had a ball. After about 40 minutes the sun came back out and we all went back outside and made the best of it. The cake and piñata that I had slaved over were both hits and Calvin was beaming. I didn’t get many photos before the rain unfortunately, but I thought I would share the few that I did get.

Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday PartyCalvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday PartyCalvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday PartyCalvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party
I’m not really a themey person when it comes to birthday parties, but I think you can have a focus or theme that runs through your party without it being too cheesy. I made the garbage truck piñata (I’ll be sharing a full DIY next week!), collected our dry recycling for a couple of weeks and filled our baby pool with it to make a dumpster. I planned to have the kids play a game where they sorted paper and plastic into the bins and I also set up our big cardboard boxes into jenga-like stacks. I had printed coloring pages and bought a roll of white paper and a roll of chalkboard paper for a big art table with chalk and crayons. None of that got played with or used at all due to the rain. But the kids jumped on the trampoline and played in the sandbox and they even started their own game of musical chairs after they ate birthday cake. The piñata was a huge hit and was a great way to end the party. The kids were able to put their candy loot into their goody bags (just green paper bags from the dollar store with a couple of favors inside (poppers, bouncy balls, and bubbles) with a tag that I made held on with a zip tie (also from the dollar store). I printed some Waste Management logos and recycling symbols and pasted them to mailing labels and put them on little trash bins that held favors, popsicles, etc. I used tin cans for the flatware and black plastic table cloths on the tables and turned them into a road with a little masking tape. The party was from 3-5 so we just served snacks and nibbles and desserts like dirt cups (pudding + oreos + a gummy worm and Swedish fish). My mom and mother-in-law helped a ton with making fruit salad and veggie trays and dips and salsa. Oh, and I made “Toxic Waste” for the adults, which is my go-to party beverage: peach sangria rum punch (I’ll be sharing the recipe soon). I think I might have drank most of it myself while the kids were running all over my house 😉

Calvin's Garbage Truck 4th Birthday Party

I’ll share the couple of sources below for things I didn’t make myself or that I’ve been asked about on Instagram. All in all, a lot of rain and a little hail couldn’t bring us down 🙂 And I’m feeling all the feels today on Calvin’s actual birthday reminiscing about what is probably the most magical experience of my life with Calvin’s birth. Out of my three, his was such a dreamy labor and delivery (where as the other two were tough and had complications). I shared his birth story here if you are into that sort of thing. I know I’ll be reading it like 10 times today.

Happy 4th birthday my sweet sweet baby boy. You make this world and our home a better place with your kindness and joy. You are a ray of pure light and are just good at life and you handle everything that is thrown your way better than I ever could. You’re the best!

{Sources} Cake: DIY (with this as a topper and toy — it is cheaper in store at Target, FYI) / Balloon garland & YAY balloon: Glamfetti / Gold 4 balloon: Amazon / Garbage Truck shirt: Amazon / Piñata: DIY (full post on this coming soon)

Los Angeles to Columbus: One Year Since Our Move

Family Trip to Lake Erie

I can hardly believe a whole year has gone by since we said goodbye to Los Angeles and moved to Columbus. It went by so fast, even with what felt like the longest winter in the history of winters. I have had quite a few readers tell me they were thinking of making a similar move and wondered how it went for us, whether we’re glad we did it, and what the best and hardest parts were in our transition. So I thought I would share a little update on the one year mark since we moved and look back at our first year in Ohio.

One Year Update From our LA to Columbus Move

The Transition

Those first few months were exciting, new, and there was a lot of novelty that kept us going through the harder transitions. The boys loved how green everything was, how we had birds and squirrels and bunnies in our yard and could watch them through the window. They were obsessed with all of the new bugs and critters Ohio has to offer 🙂 And fall was magical. Starting a new school was hard for my sensitive and anxiety-prone son and we’re still working through that. If you asked him if he has made any new friends here he would say no. But I think he is really afraid of rejection and gets the sense that he is different (in that he moved here from California and also because he is more of an emotional, artistic type and not a sporty, game playing type of boy). Things are defined much more along gender lines here (or maybe it is also the age that coincided with our move here). I understand how hard it can be to make new friends — I’m doing it right along side him. We all are. I’ve met a couple of sweet moms through school events and have found a neighborhood group to do occasional girls’ nights with. And I’m lucky to have my college best friend and her husband and kids who we love on the other side of town. We’ve made progress — we don’t feel as “fish out of water” as we did in the beginning. But have we found our village here yet? Not quite, but we’re working on it.

Cold Weather Essentials for Kids | oh lovelyday.comThe Challenges

Well, winter is the obvious one right? And it was hard. Really REALLY hard. At first it was exciting, especially for the kids. And watching them light up at seeing snow was magical. But by mid-January we were kind of over it, and we had two more months of snow. Our health also went through a transition period being exposed to new germs in a new climate. We were all sick for weeks and weeks — I think we passed around a stomach bug several times over and had respiratory stuff the entire winter. We needed a break from germs so we stopped taking the kids to the child watch at our YMCA, stopped going to our local indoor playground, and basically became shut-ins. Between all of the viruses, cabin fever, and seasonal affective disorder we started to seriously doubt our decision to move. It was definitely a hard period. On top of it my husband went back to LA for work from late January to mid-March, so I was on my own with three small children in the dead of winter while my husband was somewhere warm.

My oldest son has also struggled. While he was happy and excited about the move and loved our new home, he closed himself off from the new kids and didn’t make friends easily. He’s a worrier and he’s super smart and his little brain basically told him kids can’t reject him if he chooses not to make friends with them. He would play alone at recess and didn’t want to do playdates. We also had a hard time with the new school curriculum. Ohio schools do state standardized testing starting in kindergarten and the school where we were in LA was more progressive and didn’t start testing until third grade (which is the national standard). The pressure on Charlie’s teacher to prepare the kids for testing and to test 25 students while also trying to teach 25 students (with no full time assistant to help her) was hard. Charlie was a little behind, especially in reading, and there was so much more homework than we were used to. Combine that with the new social setting and a sensitive/emotional kiddo and you’ve got a tricky situation to navigate. He cried everyday on the walk to school for months and still gets anxious before going to school or camp or birthday parties. He has asked me to homeschool him. But I will not enable him to retreat from his anxiety and live his life avoiding hard things. Also, I’m so not a homeschool mom. I just know my limits and that is definitely not in my wheelhouse. We did find another boy in his class who is more artistic than athletic and into dinosaurs and Minecraft and drawing like Charlie is. And his mom and I have become friends. We just need to keep working on Charlie’s confidence and worries.

The job search was (and still is) stressful. My husband is working on his second novel for Audible (you can find his first here and if you like crime fiction I highly recommend it from a totally non-biased perspective 😉 ), but that and my blog work isn’t enough to keep us afloat and he is looking for work outside of his writing as well. We turned down his returning to LA for his old job (he worked on a seasonal show that films in the summer and is on hiatus 7 months of the year) because he would have had to be gone from June through October and we decided it was just too long for our family to do again. But that was our main source of income and would have gone a long way here in Ohio. And there isn’t much work here in Columbus that fits his entertainment industry experience (maybe Atlanta would have been a better choice than Columbus for job purposes…) He took a sales job but we can tell it isn’t sustainable and we’re giving it a chance through the fall as he finishes his novel and then we will reevaluate. I wasn’t prepared to return to work outside of the home quite yet, and I don’t have a license to practice law here in Ohio nor do I have the brain capacity to take a bar exam at this stage in my life. So we’re just keeping the faith that he’ll find a job that fits with his background and experience or that my blog will continue to grow and the income it generates will too. I would like to use my legal knowledge in some capacity that isn’t practicing law (teaching, consulting, finally launching Blogger Law — my dream of the last four years that combines my legal experience with my blogging experience and  advises my fellow bloggers and creatives on the legal and ethical aspects of blogging and influencer micro marketing. It’s hard to chase dreams and be an adult at the same time, but I firmly believe that quality of life makes it worth it in the long run.

Our First Six Months In ColumbusThe Highlights

Oh man, there were so many. Some of our favorite highlights from this year: real seasons, more time with grandparents, getting real time with my best friend for the first time in five years, buying a home, having a backyard, taking steps to get out of debt that comes with being a regular person who lives in Los Angeles, being able to be at my nephew’s birthday party for the first time, getting a trampoline, adopting kitties, suburban conveniences, catching lightning bugs, planting our first garden, styling and decorating a home that was finally MINE, walking to school, no traffic, teaching Charlie to ride a bike, exploring an awesome new city, and living a simpler life. And those are just a few off the top of my head. As hard as our first year has been, the highlights have outnumbered the challenges tenfold. Only in the dead of winter in the middle of a really sick season did we ask ourselves “did we make a mistake?” But we know it was the right choice for us. And we know like all things worthwhile, it takes time for things to feel like home and to make friends and to feel settled.

From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year UpdateFrom LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update

Oh, and more dates with my husband was a big highlight! Now that we are in a less expensive city and things are simpler we have found it easier to prioritize our marriage, to book a sitter and go on dates, and to explore a new city together. I mean, when your sitter is $12/hr for all three of your kids instead of $15/hr for only one it is easier to prioritize those dates. Plus, sometimes we get free babysitting when my mom comes to visit since she is only two hours away. And when Calvin had a health scare and had to spend a few days in the hospital, having her that close made a scary situation far less stressful.


From LA to Columbus: Our One Year Update

Don’t think for a second that we don’t miss LA and that it won’t always be a second home to us in our hearts, but this move has been life-giving. It has also been exhausting and draining and challenging and scary and sad and overwhelming. But we know that the payoff as time goes on will only grow bigger and bigger. It was right for us. So if you are thinking of a similar move and aren’t sure if it is the right choice or if you are having a hard time taking the leap,  let me leave you with this: if you are thinking about it and it scares you, there’s a reason. Take the leap! You can always move back if it doesn’t work out 😉

I’ll be doing a Q&A session on my IG stories and saving them in my highlights. So head over there and DM me some questions about moving or whatever else you are wondering about! Anyone need moving tips or have questions about relocating cross country or Columbus specific questions I can answer? Or maybe a nugget of wisdom to share? I’d love to hear and I’m sure other readers would too.

PS- You can find our 6 month update here, our home tour so far here and on IG under #casafredrick, and you can shop many of the things we have in our home or plan to add eventually here and here. And if you are interested in future updates on Blogger Law sign up for my newsletter! And if you are a lawyer or former lawyer with good work-from-home or part-time ideas for using my law degree, I’m all ears 🙂

Our First Summer As Homeowners

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Lennox. All opinions are 100% mine.

Our First Summer As Homeowners We moved to Ohio in late summer last year, just before fall weather arrived. This is our first real summer in our new home and our first summer as homeowners. Being homeowners means lots of new fun things like planting a garden, getting a trampoline in our backyard and being able to decorate our home however we want for holidays. But it also means being introduced to and responsible for a whole new collection of things that as renters we never had to think about. Like mowing the lawn 😉 There is so much to being a homeowner that is new to us. We’ve learned how to repair basic things, how to seed our lawn, how to tackle some DIY projects around the house, and how to hire help when our needs are beyond our skill level. Moving to Ohio from Los Angeles, we’ve also had to learn how to prepare our home for real seasons. With this being the first summer in our home, we had to learn how to prepare our home for the summer season, and we had to learn fast since we basically went straight from Ohio winter to LA summer. Here are a few things we’ve learned about how to prep our home for the summer months. Our First Summer As Homeowners

Check Your Air Conditioner

The last thing you want is your central A/C dying in the middle of July, right? Check and make sure your A/C system is working properly. before summer hits. Change the air filter, clean your vents, and clear the area around the unit of grass clippings, leaves, or shrubbery. It is a good idea to call in a professional who can clean your unit and can test it to make sure your system is summer ready. You might also consider replacing your thermostat, especially if you don’t have a programmable thermostat. If you are looking to replace your thermostat, consider a smart thermostat like the like the iComfort® ultra smart thermostat from Lennox. The smart technology allows you to override your programming while on Smart Away Mode with a single touch to help you save energy. It is even compatible with smart home systems, such as Amazon Alexa, so you can use your voice to control your HVAC system.

Ensure High Air Quality

Old and poorly maintained HVAC units can do more than fail to keep you cool — they can make you sick. Inspect your air ducts to make sure there is no visible mold or dust build-up. Making sure you change your air filters more frequently during hot months when your HVAC is working overtime is super important. Adding a good air purification system also helps tremendously, because it isn’t just pollutants, but also ventilation and humidity levels that effects a home’s air quality. The PureAir™ Air Purification System from Lennox cleans the air in your home better than any other single system you can buy. Single-area air cleaners may help the air in one room, but they don’t address pollutants that can circulate throughout your entire home. PureAir™ is a whole-home solution that means cleaner air in every room. Many air cleaning systems filter out particles. Some combat germs, and some fight odors. But only the PureAir™ Air Purification System addresses all three types of indoor air pollutants: Airborne particles, germs & bacteria, and chemical odors & vapors.

Change Ceiling Fan Direction

Did you know that your ceiling fan is designed to rotate in different directions depending on the season? I didn’t! In summer you should make sure your fans are running counter-clockwise to cool and create a breeze, while in winter it should rotate clockwise to distribute the heat that has risen properly.

Prevent Potential Water Damage

Rainy months and a hot and humid climate can be a recipe for disaster when you’re a homeowner. We had to figure out where our sump pump is and what to do if our power goes out and it fails (the con of having a basement among many pros). We also had to get a dehumidifier for the basement and have to empty it frequently during the humid summer season. We had to check our gutter and downspouts to make sure rain will drain off our home and away from our home’s perimeter properly. Since we had our home inspected when we purchased it, we knew the roof and foundation were in good condition but if you haven’t had a recent inspection it is a good idea to have those checked as well. We had our chimney inspected in the winter before we used our fireplace and learned that we needed a new rain pan. Had we not caught that it could have collapsed during a heavy rain and allowed water to flood our home through our chimney and fireplace. Our First Summer As Homeowners Having a healthy and safe home is the most important thing to us, and these are a few ways we have protected and prepared our home for the hot and humid summer months. Stay tuned for a follow-up post when winter rolls back around, which I’m in denial about already. Are you a homeowner? If so, what steps do you take to protect your family and prepare your home for the changing seasons?

Click here to Learn more about how you can get your home ready and here to Find a dealer near you.

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How Well Are You Sleeping?

This post is sponsored by ORB Wellness, but the opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who help me bring content to you on Oh Lovely Day.


Our First Summer As Homeowners

How well are you sleeping? How much sleep do you get each night? Do you wake up feeling rested? Up until recently my answers to these questions were: “not well at all, not nearly enough, and what is rested?” Since having babies I have not been a good sleeper. Even once they started sleeping through the night, I had a very hard time getting a full night’s sleep myself. I don’t really have trouble falling asleep — I’m usually exhausted by about 6 pm. But I couldn’t stay asleep. I am a light sleeper anyways and once something woke me up (husband, child, a noise, pain) I struggled to get back to sleep. That has deteriorated even further to always waking up a couple of hours after I go to bed and being awake for hours. Even trying things like going to bed earlier, diet changes, meditation before sleep, and reading before bed didn’t work anymore. I was waking up every night between 2 and 4 am and felt terrible in the morning.

I felt like I needed something to help me sleep beyond the usual things. I tried ibuprofen pm but am really trying not to take ibuprofen unless absolutely necessary. I tried melatonin but that alone didn’t work and I still often woke up at 4 am unable to fall back to sleep or would feel groggy the next day. I didn’t want to take anything stronger because I need to be able to wake up and be a mom if one of the kids needs me. Then I discovered ORB Wellness and their Sleep Complex. It helps me sleep like I did before I became a mom and it is all because of the combination of ingredients and their delayed release. ORB Sleep Complex contains melatonin and valerian to help promote sleep and relaxation. L-Theanine, a natural antioxidant, helps to give you a sense of calm and well-being. They use a relaxation oil blend of lavender and ylang ylang to help you wind down and improve the quality of your sleep. And their delayed release of B-12 helps you to wake up energized. All I know is, I feel like a new person who can actually sleep again. Read More

How to Begin Your Transition to Clean Living + 3 Easy Swaps to Help Eliminate Toxins From Your Body + Home

3 Easy Swaps for Removing Toxins from Your Body and Home

“Clean” living is all the rage right now, but just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it is being done correctly or should be done at all. But it also doesn’t mean we should be skeptical of it and roll our eyes at all of those crunchy essential oil users out there. I think everything in moderation is great. Natural products and clean living makes for a healthier home and family and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or crazy expensive. I think when you decide you are ready to detox your home you can break it down to three main areas: cleaning products, what we put in our bodies (food, drink, vitamins, supplements, and even medicines, as well as feminine hygiene products), and what we put on our bodies (skincare – including deodorant-, beauty products, and hair care).

Just because something says “all-natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean it is free of toxins or considered clean and safe. Learn to read your labels and the ingredients of the things you put in and on your body. Let me repeat that: educate yourself on the ingredients of what you are using and what some of those ingredients mean. For example, Propolyne Glycol is another name for what we call antifreeze. You know, the toxic poison that can kill you if ingested that we use in our cars! It is included in SO many products we use on our bodies, which is really shocking. It is always better to check the ingredients. Better yet, look for an EWG verified product or check it at the EWG database (a non-profit that rates products’ toxicity based on their ingredients).

As I’ve talked about before, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis (and later went full hypothyroid) after the birth of my first son. I didn’t understand my diagnosis and I just did what my doctor told me: take levothyroxine for probably the rest of my life. There was no advice on diet changes or supplements, no talk of environmental factors, no real explanation of autoimmune disease. My treatment was only for my thyroid — there was no discussion on treating the Hashimotos. It’s basically “you have Hashimotos which caused Hypothyroidism. You have to take medication to replace the hormone your thyroid is no longer making.” It worked for a while. I felt a bit better after a few months of medication. I didn’t feel like I was dying anymore, but I was still fatigued, couldn’t lose weight, had irregular moods and bouts with anxiety and depression. And then when we tried to get pregnant with baby 2 I had a miscarriage and struggled for a year with infertility. I believe now that was due to my Hashimotos. It took having two more babies and getting really sick again (another bout with PPD, inability to lose any baby weight, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, and now panic attacks for me to finally start to realize that I was not well despite my thyroid levels being within “normal range.” By this time there was a lot more awareness about Hashimotos and other autoimmune diseases as well as talk of root causes, gut health, diet changes, etc. So I started educating myself and realized that I had only been treating and masking my thyroid symptoms over the last 6 years but not making any progress on improving my health for the long term. And that is when I started making changes in my daily life that has made a difference (though I am still on the road to good health).

All that to say that there is a reason I started this wellness journey. I didn’t quit gluten because it is “trendy” and I don’t use essential oils because all bloggers do. Making changes to detox my body and home were done out of necessity in an attempt to feel better and to be able to be the mom, wife, daughter, friend, and self I want to be instead of feeling like an exhausted, achy, moody, swollen, anxious and depressed person. If you want to make similar changes but are overwhelmed by where to start, here are three simple things to swap out to begin your wellness journey (after the obvious diet changes of removing processed foods, sugary drinks, etc. and eating whole foods.)* I do vaccinate my kids, we take antibiotics when necessary, we eat microwavable meals sometimes. My kids get sugar. I don’t monitor every single thing that goes on or in their bodies. But I try my best to do the best I can to limit harmful things.

3 Easy Swaps to Detox Your Body and HomeMake Your Own Home Cleaning Solution

I barely buy any cleaning products for my home anymore. I have ditched dryer sheets for wool laundry balls. I do use laundry detergent but I use one from companies like Seventh Generation or Honest. At the very least you should purchase one that is “Free & Clear.” I make my own cleaning solution in a big spray bottle. It consists of white vinegar, water, and a few drops of essential oil like lemon and tangerine. I use this to clean pretty much everything: my kitchen, bathrooms, for dusting surfaces, and even my floors. The only cleaners I still buy are dishwashing detergent (if you’ve found a more natural one that you love and that works, please share!) and toilet bowl cleaner.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make your own cleaning products either. A few big spray bottles (I got the Up brand ones from Target), the biggest jug of white vinegar you can find (which is still under $5!), and water are all super cheap. You can even find good essential oils for reasonable prices — just make sure the ones you choose are pure and high quality. I love Simply Earth oils because they source their oils from farms all around the world, wherever the oil grows best. They bottle them in-house, to control quality. They double test everything to make sure it is pesticide free and pure, and they do so without charging a fortune like big oil companies do. Oh, and they donate a percentage of sales to fight human trafficking.

Detox Your Personal Products

Swap Out Your Most “Personal” Products

Have you ever stopped to research how safe your personal products are? When my health took a dive and I was advised to remove toxins and chemicals from my environment. Many are known to be cancer causing and others like parabens and phthalates are hormone and endocrine disruptors. The two personal products I swapped out first — because of the high content of chemicals as well as the location of their use on and in my body — were deodorant and tampons.

Why Swap to Clean Deodorant?

Conventional deodorants and anti-perspirants contain a variety of chemicals and additives.  un-natural to block the body’s natural ability to sweat and cool itself (it’s actually really important that your body be allowed to sweat!), and the chemical list in some deodorants is downright shocking:

  • Aluminum (linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s)
  • Parabens (hormone disruptor and found in biopsied tissue with breast cancer)
  • Formaldahyde (a known carcinogen)
  • Phthalates (endocrine disruptors that can cause hormone imbalance and infertility)
  • Propolyne Glycol (also known as antifreeze)

When you think about where you put deodorant and anti-perspirants — so close to your breast tissue and lymph nodes — it is easy to see why this is a product to swap out first. I was super skeptical about trying natural deodorants. I mean, I’m semi-crunchy, but frankly I’d rather not walk around with body odor and weird pasty pits. Luckily there are some great natural deodorants out there that do the job without the chemicals and without leaving you feeling like a hippie on a commune. Here are two that I have tried and can recommend:

  1. Primally Pure Deodorant: This is the first natural deodorant I tried and I was extremely surprised by how much I loved it. I started with the charcoal one and loved it. I did go through a bit of an adjustment process at first — your pits are used to all of those chemicals and not being allowed to sweat so sometimes there is a detox period (or you can detox them yourself — just google “detox your pits” to learn how). I was a little sweaty and had a few razor-burn type bumps in those first few weeks. But I’ve been using natural deodorant for almost 6 months now and I really don’t sweat much anymore, the bumps are gone, and I’ve never smelled bad even on the hottest of days. I love that it comes in a deodorant stick vs. the paste-type of natural deodorants. I am now using the lemongrass and love that scent for summer (bonus if it keeps the mosquitos away!).
  2. Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant: I was so happy with Primally Pure I wasn’t really looking for another natural deodorant, but I did want to be able to answer questions and compare it to others. I’ve heard a lot of people recommend Schmidt’s and I happened to see it at Costco (a 3 pack was $12!) so I swiped it and gave it a try. I have the Rose Vanilla one and I love love love the scent! I did notice a bit more breaking out with this one (usually its from the baking soda) but after about a week it went away. It works great as well and is a good option that is a bit more budget-friendly for a natural deodorant. I think I prefer the Primally Pure overall but both do a great job without the toxins and chemicals.

Why You Need to Ditch Your Tampons

Much like mainstream antiperspirants and deodorants, tampons are filled with chemicals. Many contain bleach, dioxins, GMOs, and the chemicals listed above for deodorant. Would you ever intentionally insert those chemicals into your body? Into a place that is so connected to hormonal balance and where you might want to grow another human? Would you ever eat foods with those chemicals? Then why would you insert a device into your vagina that is filled with those toxins? If you are thinking “there’s no way it would be legal to use those chemicals in products we put on or in our bodies!” then think again. In the US, they are absolutely legal and don’t necessarily even have to be included on the packaging and in the ingredient list (“fragrance” in the ingredient list often means these toxins are included without having to name them specifically, for example).

Instead of using mainstream tampons or sanitary pads, consider a menstrual cup. I have used this one for a while and find that they are safer, more affordable in the long run, and more convenient than tampons (you need to wash/rinse it, but that’s about it). They also help you to track your flow (how much, what consistency, any abnormalities). I will say that they do have a slight learning curve, so it is best to try one out when you’ll be home in case of a leak or other issue as you figure out how it works. Sometimes though, dealing with a cup takes more time than the 30 solo bathroom seconds I’m allotted by my kids, in which case I always have a safe organic cotton tampon on hand to use. I like the L brand (I usually get them at Target) and the Cora brand from Amazon. I’ve also heard great things about the ones from Honest and Lola. Regardless, make sure they are organic cotton, bleach and chlorine free, fragrance free, and don’t use adhesives.

My Journey To Clean Up My Beauty Routine: Clean Beauty Skincare Favorites

Clean Up Your Beauty Routine

Your skin is your largest organ and is also the thinnest, which means anything you put on your skin can make its way into your bloodstream. Why do we think we can use products full of toxins and chemicals on that organ without suffering consequences that can seriously impact our health? I started doing even more research about what is allowed and is used in many of the most popular brands and common beauty products and the information was very eye opening, So I started researching clean brands and slowly trying new products. I have been doing it gradually so as to not overwhelm myself (or my bank account). I wasn’t expecting to find many clean ingredient products that I loved and found to be as effective as the stuff I was already using. To my surprise, I have not only found things I like as well or that work as well, I have found things that I love even more! I even fell hard for one of these brands (Beautycounter) and ended up joining the company since I loved how effective the products were on my skin and wanted to share my honest experience. I also love helping other women who may not realize how seriously the lotions and makeup and sunscreen we use can affect our health in such negative ways.

I started with skincare and have since started using their makeup and hair care as well. I’ll do a more in-depth post on which products are my favorite (you can find my favorite skincare ones here) but for now I just wanted to talk about how important it is that you start swapping out that big brand shampoo or drugstore brand moisturizer for products that are safer and free of toxic chemicals.If the expense is overwhelming, start small. Choose mascara and eye makeup remover (I’m obsessed with both from Beautycounter) or a cleanser and moisturizer. If you want to start swapping but aren’t sure where to start or what products are best for you, I’d love to help! Shoot me an email and I’ll answer any questions you have.

*A note on food, supplements, and medications

This deserves a post all its own, but eating whole foods and removing processed foods from your diet is huge. If it comes in a box, bag, or can it has been processed. I make boxed mac n cheese for my kids way more often than I care to admit — I’m not perfect on this myself. But it is something to be aware of if you are going through the effort of removing toxins from your environment. We try to eat only grass-fed beef. My kids drink regular milk but I choose organic, grass-fed, etc. if I can find it. Or they drink kefir milk a lot (they call it their “smoothie”). Regular dairy and meat often contains hormones from the animals being given hormones, antibiotics, and feed laden with chemicals. Consuming products from those animals can disrupt your own hormones. Dairy can also cause inflammation in your body, but that’s a whole other issue, especially for people like me with autoimmune (gluten triggers the same response for me, which is why I try to avoid it as well.)

You might think you’re doing yourself or your family a favor by taking supplements, a probiotic, or a multi-vitamin, but be sure to read the label first. Many contain dairy, soy, gluten, and other things you want to avoid in your supplements. Also, many kids vitamins (especially gummies) have corn syrup and artificial colors. So check the label and ingredient list before you buy. Avoid gluten and soy especially.

If you are taking thyroid medication (or other medications, especially in a generic form) be aware that many have fillers and additives that often contain gluten. I was taking (and still am) levothyroixine for my hypothyroidism for 7 years before I learned that Synthroid sometimes and generic brands usually contain gluten. GLUTEN! The thing I’m supposed to avoid because it makes my Hashimotos (which is what caused my hypothyroidism) WORSE. And it is in the medication that I take daily to treat that condition. It makes no sense, but it is true. And you might not find it in a list of ingredients because filler ingredients don’t have to be disclosed and can change month to month in generic meds. Tirosint is a cleaner brand of levothyroxine medication with only 4 ingredients and I’ve heard wonderful things about the bovine version of thyroid medication (like Armour) but have never tried them personally. Talk to your doctor but go armed with knowledge. If your DR rolls his or her eyes at you or becomes annoyed by your asking questions, it is time for a new doctor.

Girl's trip to Ojai: Where to stay, eat, shop, and relax in Ojai, CA

Have you made the switch to non-toxic living yet? Why or why not? Do you want to but just feel overwhelmed by it all? That is where I was a year ago and I’ve come so far since then and it didn’t stress me out. I still have a ways to go but if I can help you in any way or be a resource to you, please let me know. In the end we are all better off when we eliminate whatever we can. There are so many toxins, chemicals, and pollutants that we encounter that we have no control over, so getting rid of the ones we can really makes a difference for our long-term health. Our families deserve that — and so do we.

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Home Update: Our Deck Makeover

A Home Update: Our Deck Makeover

When we first moved into our new home last year we were thrilled with the big yard and had big dreams for finishing our deck (we had a platform but no railing). But we decided to wait for spring because we wanted to add to the stairs, add railing, and build a storage bench. My uncle is a carpentry wizard and offered to help us. And once that was done, we teamed up with IKEA to design and style it. I just love the way it all turned out and can’t wait to host our first outdoor party.Read More