We are getting back on the birch + pine book club train this month with a fun summer read, American Royals by Katharine McGee. I love a good beach read and I feel certain this book is going to deliver.
What if America had a royal family? When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince's heart. This is the story of the American royals.
So, I'm pumped to dive into this fun read! Who is reading with us this month? Grab your book here or at your local bookstore!
The last few weeks have been full of play with my kids.
foxtail (remember this?!)
and so much more
Their imagination never fails to amaze me. Sometimes they need coaxing to start but we've found we can make a game out of pretty much everything.
And regardless of what we are doing, we find the fun.
After a spring of no (no school, no parks, no friends, no stores, etc.) I promised myself this summer, I'd be quicker to say yes.
And in saying yes, I've found myself putting down my phone more. And wading into chilly water to swim when I normally would have chosen to stay on shore. And biking just a little bit further into town, and needing to be rescued because someone's little legs just couldn't make it back. And loading up the car to drive an hour to see a new-to-us state park to seek out an adventure. And staying up thirty minutes later because we're playing tennis in the culdesac and the laughs won't stop. And saying yes to one more rice krispie bar, one more minute in the pool, one more bedtime story.
The play and saying yes has been so good for my soul.
Before the pandemic took over, I was burned out at work. Then, like so many of you, my burnout and stress was increased by having my kids home, while trying to stay healthy and safe, and deal with a changing work landscape, and honestly, I lost myself a bit.
I've spent the last month trying to combat my burnout. To become more engaged in my life, and by focusing on play and saying yes, I've slowly realigned my priorities with my who I want to be in life.
I want to be the mom who says yes, who enjoys play, I also want to be the woman who finds time to play - just for me. What brings me joy? What can I do to find the fun and relish in those moments of unbridled joy? That's what I'm seeking out this month: ways to incorporate play into my daily life.
Because after the last few months, I know we could all use a little more play time in our lives.
This month in birch + pine, we'll be sharing tricks and tips to combat stress and burnout, ways to find rest and relaxation, and see how play time can benefit our health and wellness!
If you are feeling stressed and burned out too, you might like my guide to pamper yourself at home. Check it out here!
Last week, I came across the the concept of windows and mirrors and sliding glass doors as it pertains to literature. Rudine Sims Bishop pioneered the concept and wrote:
"Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be read or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books." More
As a white family, many of our books are mirrors. My children see themselves and families like ours more often than not in the books we read. So it's really important to me that we find books that are windows and show families and backgrounds that are different than ours. We get a lot of our books from the library but I do keep a running list of books that I want to share as gifts for my boys, our niece, or friends that create a diverse and inclusive bookshelf.
Here's our reading list for little ones, full of book ideas for you to bring mirrors AND windows into your home.
I also wanted to share two of our favorites that are classics and belong in every home:
A Snowy Day - My boys love this book. We read it once a week or so and it's a good one because we can talk similarities (we love winter, sticks, and sledding too!) and differences (Peter is black, he lives in an apartment, etc.).
Last Stop on Market Street - This book is so beautiful. It showcases an intergenerational relationship with a young boy and his grandmother while they ride the bus together. "The urban setting is truly reflective, showing people with different skin colors, body types, abilities, ages, and classes in a natural and authentic manner." - School Library Journal
If you are wondering what these types of conversations can look like as you read with your children, this is A MUST READ: 100 Race Conscious Things to Say To Your Child to Advance Racial Justice.
Additional Book Lists
Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners
A Mighty Girl
Here Wee Read Diverse Books List
1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide
Your Kids Aren't Too Young To Talk about Race
Instagram Accounts for more book recommendations
It’s been hard to find the words this week. My heart is hurting - a man is dead, the investigation is ongoing, the people are trying to peacefully protest, and my city is being looted and burned. It's been heavy.
Here are a few resources I've found impactful this week would like to encourage you to read this weekend:
A Guide to Allyship
5 Racist Anti-Racism Responses "Good" White Women Give to Viral Posts
Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Racism
It's Bigger than Buildings. America is Burning.
From Christian Cooper to George Floyd: A Letter to White Parents
My friend Kristin put together a list of additional resources sourced from friends on Instagram. Lots of extra reading material there if you are interested.
Stay well, friends.
Hi friends! We're kicking off a 21-day spring cleaning challenge over in the birch + pine facebook community this weekend.
Fill a 16oz glass spray bottle with the following:
Well if March taught us anything is that we must nourish our souls as well as our bodies to help us sustain in uncertain times.
This month in birch + pine, we'll be sharing a few recipes that will fuel your body and your heart, and the stories behind them; ways to face each day with joy; and other heart-filling way to nourish our souls.
I am calling an audible on our previously shared book club list. We were supposed to read All The Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth but I know it's a heavy memoir and honestly, I need less heavy right now. So, we're going to pivot. I'm currently reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle and honestly, I can't wait to discuss it with you. So that's our read this month. I'll share a reading plan tomorrow.
Another fun thing we're doing this month is a 21-day cleaning challenge! I'm stuck at home (as most of you are too!) so it's the perfect time to kick-off our spring cleaning. We'll start Saturday!
I also have a Girls Night In event in the works so stay tuned for details on that! We'll also be continuing our virtual coffee dates on Saturday mornings as well as a wine night coming up.
And last but not least, Young Living has some amazing things happening this month with amazing promos and a revamped (and better!) compensation plan. I'm cooking up a way to put cash in your hand this month, even if you aren't a YL member! This business of mine has been life-giving in so many ways over the years and this community is everything to me.
You are in
the wilderness now,
but even here,
you are guided.
for your life
and your heavy,
-- Morgan Harper Nichols
diffusing | an autumn diffuser blend for those chilly days: 4 drops Thieves, 4 drops Idaho Balsam Fir, 2 drops Cinnamon Bark.
reading | burned through the fun rom-com, Red White and Royal Blue before coming up for air. for a quick motivational read, try Jordan Lee Dooley's Own Your Everyday.
listening | The Highwomen. On repeat. Every single day. A new supergroup we don't deserve (Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires) - I cannot wait for their album to come out and shower us with more goodness. Fun fact - the original songwriter of The Highwaymen song (i.e. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson) helped this female supergroup rewrite the lyrics to create this haunting version. "and I'll take that ride again and again and again and again and again..."
rolling | valor roll-on. I'm facilitating a lot of classes this fall and this roller is my fave to apply before public speaking.
quote | "I can't put down my straight, white, middle-aged female lens and just snap on his lens to see what he sees, but I can ask, "Tell me more - what are you thinking?" and respect his truth as a full truth, not just an off version of my truth. This is exactly why every study we see confirms the positive correlation between inclusivity, innovation, and performance. Again, it's only when diverse perspectives are included, respected, and valued that we can start to get a full picture of the world, who we serve, what they need, and how to successfully meet people where they are." - Brene Brown, Dare to Lead
Ok. Here’s the deal. I love what I do. Do you? Because statistically, the majority of us are dissatisfied with our jobs and our workplaces. I run a successful business that fuels a part of me I don’t get anywhere else. I love sharing about natural living, clean beauty, and the power of plants. I love empowering you with the information you need to make good decisions about what we bring into our homes. I love building up a team of badass women to boldly chase their dreams. I love a compensation plan that rewards you for your hard work and doesn’t worry about office politics, how long you’ve been there or whether you’re a member of the boys club. 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼
And while this is not my full time job YET, it will be one day. That you can count on. ✨
Are you clinging to these summer nights? It's the time of the year that I want to spend every minute outside. But each night, there is a that dreaded hour when the mosquitos come out and threaten to ruin our fun. But there's a wonderful natural option that keeps the fun going and the bugs away: DIY Insect Repellent!
The toxic bug spray is a thing of the past now that we use essential oils for just about everything! Our main summer essentials: citronella and lemongrass oils!
DIY Insect Repellent
In a 2oz glass bottle, combine:
5 drops citronella,
5 drops lemongrass,
5 drops purification, and
5 drops peppermint oils.
1/4 part witch hazel
3/4 part water, preferably distilled
*For little ones, use 2 drops each of citronella, purification, and lavender instead.
Boom! Bugs be gone! Looking forward to enjoying those summer nights while not having to be eaten alive!
If you prefer pre-made insect repellent, check out our DEET-free, plant-based repellent that protects against ticks and mosquitos! It smells amazing and works incredibly! Plus it also comes in wipe form so it's super easy when on the go or wrangling the kids!