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.
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
“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.
Make 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.
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:
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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
This post is sponsored by Lake Erie Shores & Islands, but the experiences, opinions, and vacation hangover are mine alone.
We took our first official road trip as Ohioans and packed up the boys and headed north — Lake Erie, to be specific. I grew up in Southern Ohio but had never visited Cedar Point or the surrounding area, so the trip was a first for all of us. Charlie has been begging to visit Cedar Point since we moved here, so we thought it would be a great start to kick off the first weekend in summer. I was lucky enough to partner with Lake Erie Shores & Islands, who planned a whole weekend filled with family fun. It was fantastic because they knew all of the best places to go — where to get ice cream, activities the kids would love, family-friendly places to eat — and it truly made the trip easier and more enjoyable. Let’s face it, when you’re traveling with small kids you could use all the help you can get to help things go more smoothly. So I hope maybe this post can be that for any of you looking for some family fun, travel tips, specific things we loved about Lake Erie, or just a funny story or two to commiserate with on your own family travels 🙂 But really, overall we had such a great time and only did a fraction of the activities available in the area. So we’re already planning a trip back!Read More
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It’s summer adventure season and all the fun (and a few not-so-fun) things that go with that. From backyard play and catching lightening bugs in the evenings to nature hikes and lake swims and all that summer goodness — the two things you really can’t live without is sunscreen and bug spray (especially here in the Midwest). I’ve got a great, clean sunscreen covered but I was still hunting for a good bug spray that is all natural and works well. I wanted one without chemicals, DEET-free, and that didn’t cost a fortune. And then it hit me — I could easily make my own, and for cheap! So naturally I had to share it.Read More
This post is sponsored by UrbanHello but the opinions and experiences are my own. #helloREMI
After having two babies who were good sleepers I was bound to get one who was a bit more challenging. Enter Quincy 🙂 For the first two years of his life he woke up around 5 am. It didn’t matter what I tried or how tired he was, he just woke up with the sun. And while I had some success at sleep training and getting him to sleep through the night, I could never seem to get him to sleep later in the morning. But I needed to sleep past 5:30 am! Not only did he wake up at the crack of dawn, but he would scream until I went in to get him out of bed. And because I have two other kids that I don’t want awake that early, I would always have to get up with him as soon as he would scream for me. He was totally working me and there was nothing I could do about it.
We talked to a sleep consultant who did help me to get him to sleep until 6 am by putting him to bed earlier. We basically reset his sleep cycle so he wasn’t waking up for good because he shifted into his lighter sleep cycle too close to morning. It also helped that he wasn’t overtired. But he still wasn’t consistently sleeping past 5:30-6 am. I knew we needed to try something else and an ok to wake clock had worked with our other kids (although we had used them once they were a bit older and in a bed). But we decided to give one a try with Quincy and went with REMI.
REMI is a smart 5-in-1 bedside clock that is a baby monitor, sleep trainer and tracker, alarm clock, nightlight and speaker — all in one. I wish I had one earlier — I think starting really early with your little one so they are familiar with the clock, the light, and and what it means will help when the time is right to teach them how to be good sleepers. It can sit by the bed and offer your kiddo a bit of comfort at night with its soft glow and provide parents with more information about your child’s sleep habits and patterns at the same time. Parents can program REMI’s face to show closed eyes or open eyes and a smile at specific times, giving children a simple indicator of when it is time to go to bed in the evening, and when it is ok to wake up or get out of bed in the morning.
You control the REMI with an app through your smartphone and connect via Bluetooth. The app is how you monitor their sleep patterns and get an idea as to what happens throughout the night so you know if there is an issue you need to address or can help with — similar to Quincy’s early morning wakeup issues we used to have. You can also use the app to control wake and sleep times, play music, set and change the REMI’s faces and use the walkie-talkie feature. And it let’s you do all of this from your phone without actually going into your child’s room (because we all know that once you go in, you may not come out for a loooong time…)
With Quincy, my favorite feature is that I can set the REMI to a happy face at the time that it is ok for him to wake up. So if he wakes and doesn’t see it — and instead sees a sleeping face — he will (hopefully) go back to sleep. And for older kiddos, you can use REMI as an alarm clock and play music through it via Bluetooth. So it is basically a clock that you can use from 0-10 years and beyond.
Quincy has been sleeping until 7 am most mornings lately, and a couple times as late as 8 am! Who knows why or what has worked, but I’m just going to keep doing all of the same things and hope it sticks. But the REMI seems to have clicked with him and I know it is at least part of our progress. If you are having sleep issues with your little one or if you want to be ready for when you do, the REMI is a great tool for your mom arsenal. It is available for purchase on Amazon here.
This post is sponsored by UrbanHello but the opinions and experiences are my own.