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23andMe taught me more about myself—and my family—than I ever expected

We all look to our moms with gratitude for everything they do at this time of year. But it's more than that—we quite literally wouldn't be here without them. This Mother's Day, in partnership with our friends at 23andMe, four of our Motherly team members—daughters, moms and mamas-to-be—explored their backgrounds as a way to pay homage to all the moms who came before them, to show how deeply we are connected as women, and to tell a part of their story.


Whether you're seeking answers about your genes, researching your heritage or tracing your matrilineal line back through human history, we promise that you will see your mom, yourself and motherhood in a whole new light. There's never been a cooler time to be a mama and a link in this ongoing story.

Here's what we found out:


I unlocked my family's past—and it was such an emotional experience

Liz Tenety, Co-Founder

Liz Tenety and her mother and father, October 2008

I always felt connected to my recent ancestors, especially my two strong, working mother grandmothers who supported their families. But like many other Americans, my knowledge of our family history really ended at our family's migration to the United States.

My DNA report gave me a view into our family's past that was lost to history. I felt a swell of pride and emotion reading about where my people came from (mostly Ireland and Great Britain), and including some surprises (I'm 1% Italian!—never knew that!). I was also thrilled to find connections with 1000+ DNA relatives who have also taken the 23andMe test. It humbled me and made me realize the degree to which I am a part of a much larger story that traces back across continents and generations.

There were also some hilarious surprises. For example, I have more Neanderthal variants than most 23andMe customers (which has already led to great family fodder for teasing). And I discovered that my coffee obsession isn't just a personal preference— and based on my genetics I'm likely to drink more than average.

It was absolutely fascinating to see so many parts of myself that I thought were just personal preferences or quirks are actually influenced by my genetics. It's just who I am! Having access to this level of data about my body, health and ancestry has been profoundly meaningful and empowering.


Finding out my family's history was so empowering—and surprising

Rachel Gorton, Business Development Director

Rachel Gorton with her two sisters

When I was younger I loved hearing the stories my mom and grandmother had to tell about our ancestry and our family traits. I always learned something new from each story, and I remember always feeling excited to hear about our history and background.

I still ask my grandma to this day about our family history, but I always knew there were pieces that were missing (she is 94 after all!). When I had the opportunity to take the 23andMe test, I couldn't wait to participate and receive the results.

I read through the reports instantly and felt inspired and empowered by what I read. There were so many surprises! There is something really special about realizing you have so much more to learn about yourself through your DNA. Details that can influence who we are, why we are the way we are, and traits we will pass on to our children.


My Ancestry Composition Report confirmed who I've been all along

Karell Roxas, Editorial Director

Karell Roxas, with her mother Amor Roxas and sister Zyril Roxas Green

I've always wanted to know more about myself. What I'm made of. Not in an egotistical way, but in an exploratory way. Like astronauts exploring a moon they've seen everyday of their lives. I know who I am but don't know the full extent of what that means, what my genes have to do with it, and whether or not I will look as good as my mother does when I'm her age. (Let's say I'm hoping that one is a big yes.)

I was eager to see what 23andMe would reveal to me. What secrets I might unlock, and what ah-ha's might happen as I sift through the data revealed through a vial of my spit (science!). One stat stood out in how it made me feel—I am 99.4% East Asian and Native American with 98.6% of that being Southeast Asian. Not surprising since both my mother and father were born in the Philippines, as was I. But validating all the same.

The cultural heritage I identify with is right there in black and white. This may not sound like much, but growing up as an immigrant in Southern California where I wasn't quite American enough to be "American" (I ate "weird" food for lunch, I didn't pronounce words right sometimes, I didn't understand some old pop culture references) and not quite Filipino enough to be considered a "real" Filipino (I can understand but don't speak our language, I don't have an accent like my parents, I love hamburgers as much as I love rice), I felt a little in between all the time. Straddling two worlds and not fully belonging to either. My mother would always reassure me: You are both. "You are Filipino-American" she would say, "the best of both worlds." And she was right.

It's empowering to think that my genes don't lie. I am Filipino, and I come from a long line of Filipino women. While Filipino culture can be "machismo" at times, it's also largely matriarchal, with mothers and grandmothers being the family leaders, rule makers and disciplinarians.

So I guess even when you go exploring for secrets, you find out things you've known all along. You realize that your story is already told right there in what you see in your family. In your mom's laugh and your grandmother's hug. I share my mother's dark eyes and brown skin, as my mother shared with her mother, and her mother shared with hers. We'll be forever connected through our DNA and our culture.


I discovered more insights into my own traits and now have an idea about what I may pass on to my baby

Stefania Sainato, Audience Development Manager

Stefania Sainato with her family in Europe

After my husband and I received the joyous news that we were finally going to become parents, we couldn't stop wondering what our baby would be like—specifically, which traits we would pass down to him or her from our relatives.

Our 23andMe reports confirmed that our genetic makeup was mostly Italian (our percentages were 76% and 40%, respectively) but only dating back to the early 1900s. However, there were some fascinating findings. I determined that I am 5.6% Western Asian (which is made up of Arabic countries like Armenia, Lebanon, and Iran). No wonder I had inherited my mom's thick, jet-black hair and almond-shaped eyes. A few months before conceiving, we traveled to Spain and became enamored with the culture. In a twist of fate, our reports showed Iberian ancestry and now we know that our little one will likely be part Iberian too!

Piecing together my child's ancestral background was an empowering experience. My ultimate goal as a mama is to help my son or daughter flourish and thrive, developing their own unique identity. The first step to that is teaching them about their family roots, which are laid in a solid foundation of love and support.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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