Organic skin care & cosmetics from Miessence – review & giveaway

Note: Giveaway is now closed to new entries.

When I was first introduced to the Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database, I was reluctant to do a search for the products I was currently using. I had a feeling the results would be bad news and, while I’m not usually one to turn a blind eye, I just didn’t want to think about it right then. Eventually, however, I came around, especially when my daughter Ava wanted to start playing with my makeup too. If I wasn’t going to be concerned about the safety of my cosmetics for my own health, I was going to be for the sake of my daughter.

As I looked up my products, I was disappointed, though not surprised to see several fell into the “moderate hazard” category, and a couple (like my mascara) fell into the “high hazard” category. Although I wasn’t letting Ava experiment with mascara, it still made me feel icky to think of the toxins I was applying to my eyelashes on a regular basis.

When Erin Ely from Ely Organics, distributor for Miessence Certified Organic products, asked if I wanted to try out some samples, I was more than excited.

Jaffa lip balmFirst of all, I love that Miessence products are certified organic and are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Many of the ingredients sound like things you could eat. Like the Jaffa Lip Balm (which goes on soooo smooth and you’ll have a chance to win below), contains things like sunflower and avocado oils, fruit butter and rosemary leaf extract. With ingredients like these, it makes you feel like it’s more than OK to lick your lips!

I also tried the Mascara and was no longer using a product that scored in the “high hazard” category, but in the “low hazard” category. That made me feel a lot better about applying mascara. In fact, all of the Miessence products score in the low hazard category on Skin Deep!

Some of my personal favorites were the Moisturizer and the Balancing Skin Care Set (which you will have a chance to win below). And although I didn’t get a chance to try them, I also like that they have a full line of Baby Care products.

Overall I am very pleased with Miessence products. They are skin care products and cosmetics you can feel safe and good about using, even when your 3- or 4-year-old wants to try them out! :)

WIN IT!

shampooSkin careYou can win a “Miessence Sample Kit” from Ely Organics which will include:

Retail Value is: $65

All you need to do to for a chance to win is leave a comment below letting me know which Miessence product you would like to try. You aren’t required to post about it or Twitter it, but if you do either, I’d be most appreciative. :) (Be sure you to let me know in the comments if you do either post or Tweet it so I can be sure and send you a pony, or at least a virtual hug.) The deadline to enter is midnight Sunday, Oct. 19. The winner will be selected using Random.org and contacted via email on Oct. 20. Please make sure you include a valid e-mail address. Thanks and good luck!

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Overwhelmed moms confess

If one of the names you answer to is “mom,” chances are good that you live a decent portion of your life feeling overwhelmed. As if the responsibility of caring for another person’s (or people’s) every need isn’t enough, you most likely also have a house to maintain, bills to pay, perhaps a job to go to or a business to run, a blog (or two or three) to keep up, a partner to cheer on, organizations to volunteer for, classes, activities or meetings to attend or to schlep kids to, and the list goes on and on and on. If you don’t feel overwhelmed, then I call shenanigans and want to know what your secret is!

Photo courtesy of krystynana
Photo courtesy of krystynana

After reading a blurb on 5 Minutes for Mom last week announcing that a blogger who’s name I recognized – Anissa Mayhew – was on an episode of Oprah, I checked my TIVO and was happy to find the show was still there. I didn’t heed Janice’s advice to keep tissues nearby as I turned it on, but I should have. The episode was called “An Overwhelmed Mom’s Deadly Mistake” and focused on a woman named Brenda Slaby, a mom of two daughters and assistant principal who tried her best to be “supermom.” Her world came crashing down when, on a hot afternoon in August 2007, Slaby accidentally left her sleeping 2-year-old daughter in the car when she went into work. Her daughter died of heatstroke. Slaby “went from being a good role model for children, a good administrator and a good parent to being the most hated mom in America.”

I can only imagine what this mom must have gone through and continues to go through every day of her life. But as many others said on the show, this could happen to any of us. We’ve all done things (or not done things) without thinking about it. And like many moms on Oprah admitted, I’ve made my mistakes too. I’ve forgotten on a couple of occasions to buckle my daughter into her carseat. In my case and in Slaby’s case, it was a break in routine that brought about the mistake. In her case, she wasn’t the one who usually took her kids to school and daycare in the morning, but her husband had a dentist appointment which required her to do it that day and break her routine. And in my case, I didn’t buckle Ava right when I put her in her seat which I usually do, but went into the front seat to assemble a toy I’d just bought for her. Thankfully in my case Ava was fine, and in most cases these mistakes don’t prove to be anything more than a wake-up call for the parents, but they are always followed with thoughts of “what if.”

The topic of moms being overwhelmed is really nothing new. I wrote Confessions of a less than perfect mommy just three months ago when I confessed that I was having anxiety attacks from biting off more than I could chew. I just recently found myself in that place again and, thanks to a reminder from Julie at Chez Artz who said, “recent events have lead me to believe that I’m juggling so much that I’m truly at risk of serious injury,” (and boy, do I hear that!) I am forcing myself to slow down and reevaluate. But I digress.

Anissa, during her brief Oprah appearance, did a great job speaking about the unattainable bar that we’ve set for moms. She said we put pressure on ourselves to do more and be more and we lose focus of what is supposed to be the most important thing, our children. To which Oprah replied, “Yeah, being able to be present for your children,” which ironically is the theme of a blog carnival over at API Speaks this month.

The recurring theme of the show was that we as moms need. to. slow. down. Jodie at jodified designs. the blog. watched the episode of Oprah and confessed to leaving her kids in the car on several occasions. “Yes I leave the car running with the air on and yes I’m always just running in somewhere, but that’s just it. I’m always RUNNING.” She decided to share Slaby’s story on her blog “because what happened to her could have happened to any one of us. We’re all overwhelmed. Emotionally, physically, financially, mentally. Exhausted.” She encourages all moms to slow down.

Sharon at Whoa, Momma! confessed “one time while I had a break in my routine I was driving to work on autopilot and I had a momentary lapse where I was heading to work and forgot to take a turn into the neighborhood to drop off my baby at day care. I have since had terrible thoughts of ‘What if?'” Ever since that day she started putting her purse in the backseat so that she will always look in the backseat before leaving her car. She also refers to a scientific study “about how our efforts to keep kids safe has put them in the back seat where Momma is more likely to forget they are there.”

Natalie at BitchBuzz recently wrote a great post called Why Mothers Can’t Always Be Superwoman. She said, “I’ve never believed that women can have it all. I’ve rarely, if ever, seen a solid example of it and Lord knows many of us try our hardest to be and do everything, but somewhere along the line, something suffers.” She reminds us that it’s so important to take care of ourselves.

I speak to my many ‘mama friends’ and almost all are going through the same thing. We’re like zombified sheep on the trail to multitasking mecca where we expect to find nirvana and have everything slot into place. It doesn’t matter whether we’re working or not working; it’s a real challenge to get that balance of being mother, partner, employee/business owner, and ‘you’.

If any unexpected things get thrown your way, which is highly likely when you’re a parent, you can be sure you’re dropping balls in one of those areas, and the likeliest casualty is you. As women, we almost expect not to treat ourselves well, but we’ll work hard to be and do everything as a parent, partner, and worker.

She admits there’s no perfect answer, but notes, “I put too much pressure on myself, too much expectations, and don’t say ‘no’ often enough.”

I think, unfortunately in this day and age, being a mom and being overwhelmed just go hand in hand. The trick to handling it all is knowing when you need to slow down and reevaluate your priorities. Or as Janelle from Heathy Child, Healthy World told me on Twitter, “I think if you’re not an overwhelmed mom, you’re not doing your job, but when it gets real tough – stop and cuddle… and when cuddles don’t do the trick, find a dark, isolated spot and scream. It’s very cathartic. Always breathe deep.”

Posts from other overwhelmed moms:

Cross-posted on BlogHer

Back from the zoo

Call me crazy, but yesterday I took the two kiddos to the zoo – by myself. It was free admission and seemed like the perfect excuse to get my homebody butt out of the house and give the kids something fun to see. After hearing Ava’s reaction when I asked if she’d be interested in going to the zoo, there was no turning back.

I wasn’t sure how Julian would do with walking the whole time, but I didn’t want to cart a stroller around either since I knew I’d just have to hold him up to see the animals anyway, so I put him on my back in the Ergo for about the first 30 minutes and he was totally fine with that. After I took him down to change his diaper, I let him walk, and, surprisingly, he held hands with Ava and/or stayed by us most of the time. He only took off running once or twice and was easily corralled.

The only time there were tears during the outing was when I told Ava she could not have cotton candy (despite the fact that other kids were having it). We did, however, all share a couple of ice cream cones before we headed back home and that, she told me in the car, was her favorite part! Who needs exotic animals when you’ve got ice cream? ;oP She later told me that seeing all of the animals AND the ice cream were all her favorite parts. I guess she wanted to make sure there will be future visits to the zoo. ;)

A&J walking around at the zoo - 10/07/08 Posing with our elephant friend 10/7/08 J doing some animal watching 10/7/08 Feeding time for the penguins 10/7/08

Off to the zoo

I’m hoping to ditch all responsibilities, get out in the crisp fall air, and take the kids to a free day at the zoo today.

I just asked Ava if she wanted to go.

Ava: “Today?”
Me: “Yes.”
Ava: “I’d LOVE to!”
She’s still carrying on and saying, “I would really, really, REALLY LOVE to! That’s the happiest thing I ever heard!”

How can I argue with that? :)

Is home schooling right for us?


When I started down my crunchy parenting path over four years ago, I think several people assumed that when the time came, I would home school my kids. I figured then that I would consider it, but it seemed like ages away and I never really gave it much thought. Well, that time is now rapidly approaching.

At age 3, I started sending Ava to an amazing Waldorf-inspired in-home preschool. It wasn’t a surprise at all to me that she thrived there and, despite the cost, I didn’t hesitate for a second before signing her up for her second year this year. She’s had a great experience there with a wonderful teacher. In fact it’s been so good that I’ve even considered sending her to a Waldorf school for kindergarten through eighth grade. I think if it weren’t for the money involved (think college tuition), she’d be going there in a heartbeat. But since we are not independently wealthy, nor do I feel are we financially-hurting enough to qualify for massive financial aid, that doesn’t seem to be a viable option.

That has lead me to exploring our public school options. There are a few public charter schools in our district, a public International Baccalaureate school, as well as many traditional public schools. Because we live in an area with open enrollment, we could potentially send Ava to any one of those schools come next fall. The question is – which one is right for her?

I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the options (I do better with limited choices) and, while I haven’t actually visited any of the schools in person yet (I have talked with some moms about where they are sending their kids), I haven’t felt peaceful about the whole process.

That leads me to a conversation I had with another mom while at Ava’s friend’s birthday party last weekend. She intends to home school her kids, at least initially. She told me about a local home schooling co-op and gave me the name of a Yahoo! Group of local home school support group. And that’s when it suddenly started to seem (again) like something that could potentially be an option for us.

I’ve kind of been of the mindset lately that I couldn’t handle home schooling. That I wouldn’t be any good at it and that Ava needs to be with other kids all of the time. After all, she is a very social kid. But then I joined the Yahoo! Group and discovered that they meet regularly for play dates and have many activities together and that there are a lot of other ways for home schooled kids to be a part of social activities. The more I read, the more I think this might be right for us, at least on a trial basis. We could try it for kindergarten and if it works well, great! If not, then it’s back to square one and finding the right school.

We have been talking about kindergarten a little bit here and there lately, especially because one of Ava’s friends from preschool last year goes to the “big” Waldorf school now and we just saw her over the weekend at the Harvest Faire. So, in an effort to gauge Ava’s thoughts on the matter, I mentioned to her that I have been thinking about home schooling next year. I asked her if she knew what it meant and who her teacher would be and she did. And she said it was a “great idea.” I actually expected her to be more reluctant, but it’s good to know that she (at least in theory) is on board.

I’m not sure what I’ll ultimately end up deciding. I still want to visit at least a couple of the elementary schools that are  on the top of my list, but I have to admit since I started considering home schooling, I feel so much more peaceful and even a little excited. I know there’s still a lot I need to research, but I’m confident we’ll find our way.

Are there any home schoolers out there that want to share any resources, links to curriculum, etc. with me? Thanks in advance. :)

Photo credit: Flickr: brandijordan

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