A few days after Super Bowl 50’s Lisa Frank colored halftime show message of “Believe in Love” emblazoned across Levi’s Stadium, and a mere 5 days before Valentine’s Day, my thoughts turn toward gratitude. It’s my first year as a mother on Valentine’s Day. February 14th (and sometimes July 6th) is originally a wholly Christian holiday observed by the Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheran Church in honor of Saint Valentine. Again, in the vein of unlabeled (raceless, genderless, areligious) love, I can get behind a holiday whose express purpose is now to celebrate displays of affection. Some of my favorite memories of the Hallmark holiday are not from dates, boyfriends, my husband or schoolmates. My best memories are from my Dad. He would always delight in picking the perfect card, a cute stuffed animals, or a specific treat for me. Whether it was a school night or a weekend, he would excitedly wake me up and usher me to the kitchen where a surprise would await me next to me breakfast. A small, yearly tradition that I hope to pass on to my son.
The day isn’t about lavish spending (even though about $180,000,000 will be spent) nor is it about flowers (198,000,000 roses cultivated) , it’s a day dedicated to small acts of adoration – platonic and familial included.
Multiple studies, including one that tracks Facebook breakup statuses, have shown that couples are more likely to break up in the weeks before and after Valentine’s Day. Yikes. Other research supports that couples who give more credence to the holiday are less healthy than their counterparts who celebrate “just because” throughout the years. Apparently, the feeling of obligation or forced romance can lead to dysfunction!
So, instead of making this day about love for our partners, let’s give in to some self-love and parental-love retail therapy.
1 Voluspa’s Yuzu Rose Stonecrop 2 Wick Candle
/ 2 Oh Joy! for Target’s Heart LED Neon Light / 3 Carey All Over Hearts Sweater / 4 Dolce & Gabbana Silk Cotton Floral Printed Skirt / 5 Jade by Zoya (Nontoxic and Big 5 Free) / 6 The World Book of Love / 7 High Seas Romper in Red from Winter Water Factory / 8 Piece of My Heart Valentine’s Day Postcard, Set of 10 / 9 Persimmon Ink Blot Medium Cube by Pehr / 10 Red Baby High Tops from H&M
It’s been 49 days since my last post. I would apologize for the long drought, but I have a totally valid excuse! In that time I’ve had a baby (birth story to come later). Believe it or not, my newborn is now 1 month and 2 weeks old. Yet, I cannot seem to remember a time before baby! His name is Josiah, and for short we call him Joss. He was named after his late grandmother Jo Ann who was known to everyone as Josie. Joss is curious, alert, patient and generally content. He absolutely adores the sensation of bath time splashing and the comfort of warm water. I used to take roughly two epsom salt baths a week while I was pregnant (my respite from aches), so I wonder if any of that carries post womb?
In celebration of Joss’ huge one month milestone, we took him to Hazel Village’s new Gowanus, Brooklyn workshop which is a short 20 minute walk from our house. Founded by Jane Van Cleef, Hazel Village is like an organic, hipster Build-a-Bear. Van Cleef was inspired to create these wonderful woodland creatures in homage to favorite childhood stories like Brambly Hedge, Uncle Wiggly, and the Little House tales. Her dolls are heirloom quality at a reasonable prices. They also have a retro whimsical affect to them that is ineffable; making them feel like treasured keepsakes from bygone days. As an added bonus, the brand upholds the tenets of fair trade and paid labor. Many of the stuffed animal’s clothing prints are collaborations from other famed children’s shops and printmakers such as Winter Water Factory or Liberty of London. The cute cast of stuffed animals ranges from Reginald Fox to Ella Toad to Phoebe Fawn to Lucas Rabbit and counting!
We chose Jeremy Owl as Joss’ first ever bespoke toy. And we even hand stitched his name on the animal’s chest inside a heart. Jeremy is about 14″ tall, Joss was 19.5″. He is made of gray organic cotton fleece, with natural wing tips and face, green legs and beak. He is stuffed with washable polyfill and his eyes are embroidered with cotton embroidery floss. Jeremy Owl loves to paint portraits of his friends. Since he’s a creature of the forest, he uses smooth pieces of bark or wood instead of paper.
Please pardon mom’s tired eyes, unsupportive nursing bra, and general malaise. Focus on the babe. May Joss play with Jeremy Owl for many years to come and may it be a real HOOT! Get it? Groan. Now back to childcare.
As soon as I verified (and re-confirmed with several ClearBlue tests and a Ob/Gyn appointment) that I was pregnant, I became acutely aware that I needed to make a lifestyle shift. It’s not that I was so “unhealthy” before pregnancy, but I guess I never really paid much attention to the ingredients in the world around me. Suddenly, my favorite cold cuts (potentially) harbored listeria, runny eggs were a no-no, spicy tuna rolls were a mercury hazard, and many soft cheeses were deemed un-safe. My daily five cups of coffee was a real hazard. Everything seemed toxic and slightly scary! Why hadn’t I ever really paid attention to the lurking bacteria before?
Changing my diet also extended to changing my beauty routine. Subscribed to Birchbox, a Sephora Beauty Insider, and a drugstore makeup addict, my options for slathering on lotions and glossing my lips seemed limitless. Yet, my night creme, filled with retinol was now potentially harmful to my unborn child. That hydrocortisone cream I used occasionally for seasonal eczema? Off-limits in high amounts. My favorite high-gloss topcoat for nails? Filled with formaldehyde! Because some topical ingredients get absorbed into the bloodstream, expectant moms needs to be cautious. This is especially true because we are not entirely sure what could affect a fetus. Studies are lacking, methodologies are weak, and pre-emptive testing on momma-and-child is often amoral. So, lots of conclusions are from after-the-fact reported issues. Pretty biased.
Deciding to not even engage in the “is it safe or not” game, I went almost entirely organic, vegan and herbal with my entire regiment! There are plenty of watchdog sites out there that help consumers to make informed decisions like Environmental Working Group (EWG), SafeCosmetics, Good Guide.
P.S. I owe so much of my ability to unique during pregnancy to baths complete with epsom salts, oils and a soy candle. However, stay AWAY from Sweet Basil essential oils. I had an extreme adverse reaction complete with bright red skin, rashes and burning!