Ethical Mother's Day Gifts for the Mamas in Your Life (or, For Yourself)

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This is my sixth Mother’s Day and it still feels surreal. For many people, Mother’s Day is a difficult day when facing loss, broken relationships or difficulty, and a list celebrating Mother’s may not be relevant or needed. For many others, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the female role models in their lives, or for others, the single dads who raised them. Whether you’re approaching Mother’s Day from a place of excitement — maybe it’s your first Mother’s Day after the birth of your child, or you have traditions with your own Mother you look forward to each year — or a place of hurt or difficulty, I hope you feel seen and valued on this day. This list, although I’ve specifically chosen gifts for moms, is meant to be unspecific. Buy these gifts for your step-mom, your best friend’s mom, your friend, your grandma, or of course, yourself if you need an extra boost of self-care this season.

I love celebrating mothers. The soon-to-be mothers, the mothers who are still waiting to conceive, the mothers who have dealt with loss, the mothers who have grown children and the ones who have been a mother to someone else’s child. We’d be nowhere without these women in our lives and they deserve all of the celebration.

Here are a few gifts I picked out from some of my favorite ethical shops (some of the links are affiliate) in hopes that you would shower a mother figure in your life with the same love she’s showered on you.

Ten Thousand Villages Harmony Bell Necklace

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This necklace, although perfect for anyone, is designed with expectant mothers in mind. It’s traditionally worn in many cultures by pregnant mothers, with the chain just long enough to skim the belly, and send soft chimes in for your baby to hear and be soothed by.

Shop here: Harmony Bell Necklace ($125)

LA Relaxed Loungewear

Loungewear is the gift that keeps on giving (for real life). LA Relaxed is one of my favorite resource for insanely comfortable garments that are made with plant-based materials. Their recently introduced hemp and organic cotton pieces are to die for.

Shop LA Relaxed (use the code SIMPLY25 for 25% off!)

Sela Designs “Known Necklace”

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Another one of my most worn pieces this year, my Known Necklace from Sela Designs is especially perfect for mothers. You can select letters to symbolize people she loves — I have one for each of my littles and wear the necklace everyday. It’s an understated, non-cheesy piece with just the right amount of symbolism.

Shop here: Known Necklace ($28 starting with one charm — hurry though, shipping in time for Mother’s Day ends 5/2!)

Do Good Shop

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A beautifully curated one-stop shop of fair trade home goods, jewelry, clothes, and more, Do Good Shop is owned and operated by a mother herself, and proceeds of the 501c(3) non-profit go towards supporting organizations that fight trafficking and provide dignified employment to women all over the world.

Shop Do Good Shop: Use the code SIMPLYLIVANDCO for 20% off!

The Little Homeplace Care Package

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I just stumbled on this sweet mama-owned company a few weeks ago and have fallen in love with how thoughtful and practical each box is. The shop offers three selections right now, the Original Homeplace Box, A Kitchen box, and a Bath box, all packed with homemade, eco-friendly goods.

Shop the Little Homeplace Box

Bohemian Reves Skincare

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Because every mother figure needs an extra excuse to care for herself too, skincare and body products make the perfect gifts. Bohemian Reves is one of my most recent favorites — I love their zero waste packaging and plant-based, organic ingredients.

Shop here: Bohemian Reves collections

ABLE

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From denim to leather bags to footwear to apparel to jewelry, ABLE is truly a one-stop shop with ethics that are hard to beat. They’re having a Mother’s Day sale too, use the code MAMA15 for 15% off at checkout!

Shop ABLE

ROUND + SQUARE

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For organic pieces that make a statement, look no further than ROUND + SQUARE. This brand is on a mission to empower women and girls through their collection of organic cotton tees and gorgeous silk scarves. Any piece from their shop would be a meaningful Mother’s Day gift.

Shop ROUND + SQUARE


*This post, while not sponsored by one brand, contains affiliate links which means I may make a (small) commission off of items purchased from these links. It is also part of a long-term collaboration with Sela Designs. LA Relaxed, ROUND + SQUARE, and Do Good Shop. Thank you for supporting these amazing brands!*

Meet the Practically Perfect Encircled T-Shirt Dress

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You all know my love for Encircled. I’ve shared about them in at least five separate blog posts over the years and, more recently, have loved partnering with them the past few months to share some of their new releases and versatile classics.

If you need a quick refresher, here’s what I love about Encircled:

  • They’re based in Canada. (I’m not, but for all of my Canadian readers who ask me where to shop, here you go!) All of their production and sourcing happens as locally as possible (100% in Canada, which is amazing) and everything is cut and sewn in their studio in Toronto.

  • They’re B Corp Certified.

  • They focus on versatility and sustainability. As someone who lives in a tiny space with a tiny closet, I can’t say firmly enough that versatility MATTERS. Encircled’s pieces are designed with travel in mind, so almost all of them are able to be worn in multiple ways (we’re talking 5 or more for some of the most innovative garments like the Chrysalis Cardi and the Evolve Top).

  • They’re transparent about the struggles of owning an ethically minded business. I wrote in my Ethical Basics Guide that Kristi, the brand’s CEO and designer, shared with me a bit about how tricky it is to source fabrics that meet their high quality and longevity standards — if you’ve ever felt an Encircled garment before, you know what I’m talking about — and is gentle on the environment. They’re honest about when small compromises (like blending their fabrics with spandex) are necessary to achieve the final product they know will last women years and years.

  • They’re size inclusive. Their pieces fit sizes 00-20, which is a vast step above most brands who claim to include sizes for all.

  • Their pieces fit WITH your evolving body. Along with my Natural Edition tees, my Encircled tops and dresses were the only ones that comfortably fit me throughout my entire pregnancy. I know it’s unrealistic to expect the same piece to fit me when I’m my “normal” size and when I have a tiny human inside my torso, but I’ve been so pleasantly surprised that I can stretch my wardrobe with their help.

Which brings me to the real reason you’re all here…Encircled’s newly released Everyday T-Shirt Dress.

I was able to test the dress out a few weeks before it was released and, if I’m being completely honest here, I’ve already lost track of the amount of times I’ve worn it. The dress is intentionally oversized, so even at 9 months pregnant, it still fits with room to spare.

It’s another winner in the versatility department, which is why I’ve styled it several different ways in this post. My preference currently is to pair it with a pair of sneakers and a jacket, but it’s just as easy to dress it up with a pair of heels or clogs and some statement jewelry.

The Everyday T-Shirt Dress

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Features:

The dress is reversible — one neckline is a lower scoopneck and the other is a higher boatneck. It has two pockets with a mesh lining, so the pockets can easily reverse as well. It falls just above the knee and is meant to “skim your curves” and not hug them too tightly.

Fabric:

Made from Bamboo based Rayon which has lots of pros and cons sustainably-speaking, but on the pro side, it’s incredibly soft, stretchy, easy to care for, and long-lasting. It’s made without the use of pesticides in a closed loop-process (that you can read more about here). There are also drawbacks to using bamboo-based fabrics (which you can read about here), so I try to limit the amount of rayon that I own.

Fit:

I’m wearing a size Small in the Everyday T-Shirt Dress, which is the standard size I wear in Encircled. I could have sized down likely, for a tighter fit, but opted for this size so I was sure it would fit my baby bump and be comfortable postpartum.

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It’s truly a closet super hero and can multi-task right along with you and your lifestyle.

Shop the Everyday T-Shirt Dress in three colorways here (I’m obsessed with the Vintage Rose color!).

Use the code SIMPLYENCIRCLED for FREE SHIPPING and for all US/Canada orders from now until May 31, 2019!


*This post is part of a long term collaboration with Encircled. All opinions, photos, and creative direction is my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep SL&Co. running!*

Conversations on Confidence & Raising Daughters

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One of the most common questions I’m asked as a mama of multiple girls is “are you going to try for a boy"? Well meaning strangers see AJ with his daughters and jokingly suggest that he’s “going to have his hands full” when they’re teenagers, or that it’s a shame he’s so outnumbered.

Although we’ve never been discontent with our girl gang, the idea of instilling self-confidence and individuality at a young age in my girls weighs heavy on my mind. Raising boys, which of course I have no experience with but know through chatting with friends, research, and watching my own brothers grow up into men, is naturally a different experience and being a mom of only girls is a mental adjustment I’m still working on.

I’m keenly aware of just how closely my five and three year old watch me. Everyday when I get dressed, put on makeup, size up my ever changing body in the mirror, or make snide comments about my body that I don’t think they’ll understand, I’m aware (usually after the fact) of their little brown and blue eyes watching me and their growing minds processing how I see myself. Will they resent me when they’re older for getting eyelash extensions? Am I letting them try out my lipstick too early? Is their wardrobe too “girly”? Am I modeling a balanced perspective of femininity? Did they see me scrolling Instagram admiring the wardrobe/lifestyle/body type/life phase of someone else? How do I, a young mom still very much figuring this whole self-confidence thing out for myself, instill these vital traits in my daughters?

This post is less of a “how to” guide (because in the realm of parenting, those don’t really exist) and more of a conversation around the subject of self-confidence and a few ways I’m working on modeling it in my day to day life in front of the girls. Of course, the same concepts can apply to raising boys too, and whether you’re raising boys or girls, I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions on the subject!

Let them do “big” things

All kids love “helping” their parents do adult-y things and, despite the fact that their efforts to help or join in usually aren’t all that helpful, I think it’s vital for kids to try their hand at the things mom and dad are doing AND feel reinforced in their efforts. For us, it’s usually letting the girls “get ready” with me in the morning, even if they smear lipstick all over their faces or pick out mismatching outfits. It’s letting them stir the cookie batter, even though you know it will be messier and take longer. It’s letting them help clean up and giving them the time to scoop snow with daddy, even if the snow all ends up back in the pathway. These simple (slightly inconvenient) gestures instill confidence in my girls through simply giving them a safe space to experiment, help, and learn new things.

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Don’t classify their appearance

I’ve made this mistake SO MANY TIMES and I’m sure I’ll make it a lot more, but I think especially with girls, it’s so important to let them take the lead when it comes to what they love to wear, how they like their hair done, and even what kind of toys they play with. A few months ago, I was helping Evie get ready for preschool and she walked in with an entirely pink outfit on; from head to toe, bright pink. I mentioned something about that outfit being really “girly” and asked if maybe she wanted to change her pants or something, and for a few weeks afterward she was obsessed with making sure her outfits were “girly enough” and didn’t become “too girly”.

Regardless of my personal taste (which tends to be super neutral, especially for kids), I’m working on letting them pick clothes/toys/hair styles just because they love them, and not necessarily because it fits a certain aesthetic or stereotype.

My girls love beautiful things, as most girls do, and little surprises like their You & Me Tassel Necklaces from Sela Designs are the perfect little accents to start conversations around inner beauty and highlighting it with beautifully made things that they truly love.

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Model self-care

For the first few years of my motherhood journey I rarely made myself a priority. Of course, it’s not easy when you’re raising babies or toddlers or multiples, but as my girls have gotten older and as I’ve done the same, I’ve learned that in order for me to raise them well and lead by example I’ve got to give myself time to recharge.

Self-care may be trendy at the moment, but in practice, it isn’t always easy or glamorous. Sometimes it means forcing a naptime because I can’t function without sleeping. Sometimes it means letting my husband take over bedtime so I can squeeze a shower in after he gets home from work. However it looks each day, I’ve been working on modeling language around caring for myself (especially easy for them to understand while I’m pregnant) and separating it from them. For example, I’m trying not to say things like “mommy needs alone time because you’ve been wearing me out today”. ;)

As they grow up though, I hope they’ll be able to look back and see that self-care is an act of courage sometimes, and that I modeled it well most of the time.

Take the focus off of their appearance early on

Girls grow up with conversations centered on their appearance from such a young age. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with telling a girl she’s beautiful (that’s important too!), I’m working on mentally rewriting my own script for when it comes to talking to my girls and complimenting them.

I’ll try to focus equally on their character, their choices, or their talents, instead of their appearance only. Pieces like my Round + Square silk scarves or t-shirts (which my girls have been known to steal from time to time) have empowering phrases on them that help spark conversation. Instead of saying how “pretty” their hair looks, I can talk about what being “brave and kind” means or what “#equality” looks like early on, or why “Girl Power” isn’t just a catch phrase.

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I’m still very much a work in progress as a mother, especially as I think about my girls getting older and requiring more and more intentional modeling and behavior.

My job is on the internet, requires me to take photos of myself all the time, get new things, and seems very externally focused on the surface, so I have ample room for improvement and conversation around self-confidence and inner beauty.

How are you having these hard conversations with your kiddos? I’d love to hear your experiences.


*This post is part of a long term collaboration with Sela Designs and ROUND + SQUARE. All content ideas, creative direction, photos, and children are my own ;) Please do not use my photos without permission.*

Jackalo || Strong Enough for Kids, Gentle on the Planet

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Ah, children’s clothes. Although the vast majority of my kids’ clothing is secondhand or hand-me-downs, on the rare occasion that we buy a new piece for our girls, it usually lasts about as long as it takes for them to outgrow it or for them to rip a hole in it. Children’s apparel isn’t designed to last, because at the rate kids grow, why would it be? When you’re continually having to size up, wash away the ketchup stains, patch ripped knees, and wish for better options, it’s no wonder that shopping sustainably for your kids (at least for me) is one of the first things to go.

Aside from there being shockingly few options for ethically made kids clothes, when I have come across brands in the past I have a hard time justifying the price tag for the amount of wears my kids will get out of the item. If a piece lasts only one season before E & M outgrow or destroy it, what’s the point?

Luckily, "hard to find” doesn’t mean impossible and today’s brand goes above and beyond in terms of sustainability AND practicality for kids.

Marianna, the owner, designer, one-woman-show behind Jackalo, knows a thing or two about the struggle most parents face while looking for clothes that will last for children. A mother of two herself, she grew frustrated with the lack of sustainable options that wouldn’t cost her an arm and a leg, especially since her sons would play their way through each pair in no time.

She decided to take matters into her own hands and design a kid’s pant that could withstand normal rough and tumble and check all of the boxes in the sustainability field. Thus, Jackalo was born.

Their pants, the brand’s first product along with a coverall, are made from organic, fair trade cotton. The knees are doubled with a reinforced layer, to make them extra durable and rip free. To sweeten the deal, each pair comes in gender neutral colors and is able to be rolled up to save a bit of length until your child grows into them.

In this post, Evie is wearing the Ash Lined Engineer Stripe pant (paired with leopard print, of course) and Mara is wearing the Jax Berry pant, both in size 4 (they’re 3 and 5 but roughly the same size, so I went in the middle).

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Circular Consumerism

One of my favorite things about Jackalo is their Trade Up program. Marianna knows how quickly kids grow and even though her pants are meant to accommodate a wider range than most, her Trade Up program takes over when time has done it’s work and the pants no longer fit. They will take back any Jackalo pant, to repair and resell at a discount, and give you a 20% discount towards your next pair. It keeps their pants out of landfill and ensures that each pair is truly getting the maximum wear.

Jackalo is refreshingly transparent about where and how their organic cotton is grown, and even share links for customers to learn more about the milling, weaving, and assembly process.

In my chats with Marianna (I also work with her on a freelance basis, so I’ve gotten a more in-depth look into her brand than most), she’s mentioned how much of a labor of love growing Jackalo has been. Sourcing organic and fair trade materials isn’t the convenient route by any means, and neither is accepting old product back for resale, but she’s so committed to bettering the world (and our children’s quality of play) through her pieces that each extra step is worth it.

Keep an eye out for new pieces from Jackalo soon — they’re truly doing their part to create conscious and practical clothes for kids who play hard.


*This piece was sponsored by Jackalo — thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible.*

Beating the Winter Blues || “The Jar” Method + 21 Ideas to Stay Busy

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I purposefully live in a place where it’s winter for the better part of the year. I also purposefully live in a 37 foot RV. These two “purposely’s” can lead to some wonderful adventures, but, in our four months in this tiny home, I’ve also come to expect the stir-crazies as well.

Regardless of where you live, winter can be long and depressing and, especially when there are children involved, leave you counting the days till the sun shines again. Whether you struggle with seasonal anxiety or depression or are just looking for a few ways to keep your family busy this winter, I thought I’d share a few of the ways I’m proactively staying busy with my girls to ward off excessive winter blues.

The Jar

After seeing this post from Erin Lochner, I decided to do my own take on “the Jar” for winter (and likely each season afterwards). I simply wrote down every activity I could think of on a strip of paper, folded it up and placed it inside an empty jar. Each day, or whenever the winter blues hits especially hard, I have my girls draw one piece of paper. Regardless of what the activity is, we have to do it that day.

The Jar forces me to get beyond my home-body nature and ensures that my five and three year old children are getting the activity they need to stay healthy and engaged in a small space.

It seems rigid, or maybe overly simplified, but when given the choice to go out or do nothing, I usually choose doing nothing. This option forces me to do things that my girls will love and not default to letting them play on their own or, honestly, just throwing a movie on when I get overwhelmed.

My list isn’t exhaustive, but so far, it’s been so helpful for getting us out (or at least doing something new inside) each day.

  1. Build a snowman

  2. Make a fort inside and watch a movie together or read books

  3. Write a letter to grandma (or a friend)

  4. Pick 2-3 toys/clothes/items to donate and go thrifting for a new treasure

  5. Get bundled up and go for an adventure walk outside

  6. Go swimming at the local rec center

  7. Schedule a play date

  8. Bake cookies

  9. Have a picnic on the kitchen floor

  10. Have an at-home spa day (complete with manicures from Handmade Beauty, of course).

  11. Make hot cocoa and watch a movie together

  12. Go to the park and play in the snow

  13. Take the pup on a walk

  14. Play Eye Spy

  15. Draw a picture of…

  16. Play a board game

  17. Make homemade play-dough

  18. Play restaurant

  19. Go to the library

  20. Do 15 jumping jacks

  21. Go sledding

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WInter can drag on, espeically when you've got kiddos to entertain. Here are 21 of our favorite things to do when the winter "stir-crazies" hit.

What would you add to your own Jar? How are you warding off the Winter Blues?