Today: Bet on Better with me.

Shocking news: Grace will be five months old this weekend.  She celebrated early with 6 consecutive hours of sleep last night.  Meanwhile, I got up every 6 minutes to check on her, starring in disbelief as the baby who rarely slept more than 3 hours in a row continued to sleep soundly in her crib.  Is this what the next 20 years will be like?  Me peeking around corners, tiptoeing in the darkness, and spying on my own child to ensure everything’s okay?  I should probably invest in a periscope.  Or maybe some Spy-Tech (coolest 80’s toys, hands down).

Now that Grace’s schedule is starting to level off, I’ve got some catching up to do.

I don’t know why, but I had this ridiculous idea that once I went back to work (12 weeks after Grace was born), I would be sleeping through the night, eating something other than a handful of Fritos and an entire quart of raspberries for dinner (i.e. my sixteenth one-handed meal of the day), working out regularly at the gym, and oh, I don’t know, fitting into non-stretchy pants.  Needless to say: not happening.  Not yet.  Or at least, not all in the same day.

The combination of sheer exhaustion and a desire to spend every second (that I am not working, or like, showering) with our little family has made working out… challenging.  Throw in the broken toe (which is nearly healed, and almost looks like a regular toe again), and you’ve got a recipe for disaster the perfect excuse.  I eat reasonably well and have fit in daily walks and some great spinning and yoga classes over the past few months, but I feel like it’s time to really make a commitment to my health and wellness.  Life is not going to get less busy.  As the months pass, it may not be any easier to eat thoughtful meals, or sleep longer than a few hours in a row, or balance work and family time.  It may not get easier, but judging by how our lives continue to change, especially recently, it will get better and better.  

In an effort to stay accountable and motivated, and to build community around making the best possible choices for ourselves and those we love, I am hosting my first DietBet.  I’ve named it “Bet On Better” because, for me, it’s not simply about losing a few pounds (though I do look forward to fitting into real pants).  It’s about making better choices for myself across the board, choices that will help me honor my commitment to a healthy, happy, and well-lived life.

If you’re new to DietBet, you can read my full run-down here, but essentially each 4-week game includes an initial bet (in this case, $35) which goes into the pot.  Participants who successfully (and safely, please!) lose 4% of their weight during the game split the pot.  You also have the option to donate your winnings to charity, which I find to be great motivation.  I have participated in games before, and really enjoyed the community fostered among players.  As a host, I will be providing a little extra motivation, support, and helpful resources throughout the 4 weeks.  The game begins on July 8th.  I hope you will join me and consider bringing a few friends along (this is definitely one of those the more, the bigger pot merrier cases)!

Click here to join (or learn more about) the Bet On Better DietBet!

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your best source of motivation when it comes to making better choices?

Today: FenwaYoga and taking my OM outdoors.

Shortly after writing up my little Summer Bucket List, I got an incredible invitation from KIND.  Did I want to join them for yoga with Mandy Ingber at Fenway Park?  A thousand percent yes (it didn’t hurt that I read their email while snacking on a Healthy Grains bar in between meetings).  KIND sponsored the 2nd annual FenwaYoga event, which benefitted the Red Sox Foundation’s Red Sox Scholars and RBI Youth Baseball and Softball programs.

I was looking forward to checking off “practice yoga outside” from my bucket list, but never expected to have the chance to roll out my mat on the warning track along the Green Monster.

It was such an awesome experience.  Mandy lead a fun but challenging class (made slightly more challenging by the mid-morning sun) from the pitcher’s mound, while yoga teachers from the area provided additional guidance from the outfield.  I made fast friends with the woman next to me, as we swapped iPhones to grab photos of one another goofing off inside the park.

The yoga community in Boston was out in full force and everyone, especially the folks from KIND, made me feel so welcome and grateful to be a part of such an incredible day.

I really thought I’d be itching to get back to CrossFit once Grace was born, but lately I’ve been craving yoga even more.  I appreciate balance of gentleness and strength that yoga gives me, and love that Grace can squirm around beside me on her activity mat while I practice at the beginning or end of the day.  Now that she’s discovered her toes and is holding onto them for dear life, I can’t help but fit in happy baby pose whenever possible.

If you’re looking to take your om outdoors, here are a few ongoing opportunities in the area:

Also On Tap for Today:

What sort of workout have you been craving lately?

 

Today: Feeding the giraffes and stalking the sloths.

Shortly after Nick and I started dating, we made plans to visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  He’s always loved animals, whereas I’ve always been a little whatever.  (This was after a feral cat specifically chose the underside of my car as its final resting place… but years before I met Clark.  I think that timeline goes a long way in explaining my ambivalence towards non-humans.)

I think I was probably Googling something like, “Great… but do you have any baby hippos?” a few days before our trip to the zoo when I came across an announcement for a giraffe naming contest.  We spent the better part of a week going back and forth with name suggestions before submitting our top choices.  Nick tried to get the little leggy fellow named after one of his clients from Romania (I just made my husband sound way more mysterious than he actually he is), while I was certain I had hit it out of the park with Thomas Girafferson.  I mean, come on! USA! USA! Likely not a spoiler alert: neither of us won the contest.

The visit to the zoo, however, was lovely.  I’m not an animal communicator (despite trying to read my dog’s mind on the daily), but they all seemed well cared for and maybe even happy.

When I was trying to come up with something fun to do for Father’s Day (something more fun than breaking a toe, which is how I celebrated my first Mother’s Day), I came up with some pretty bad ideas.  One involved buying a used kite surfing board from one of our old neighbors.  I love surprises (for other people, not so much for me), so the key was finding something unexpected… but ideally, not super dangerous.

And then I found out you can sign up to feed the giraffes at Roger Williams (for a small donation, which is a nice way of saying straight cash, homey).

Question:  What new dad wakes up on Father’s Day thinking, Hey!  I wonder if I will get to feed a giraffe today? Answer: A very psychic one.  In other words, it was the perfect surprise.

Nick got to get up close and personal with Jaffa (who will always be Thomas Girafferson to me) while I snapped photos from the other side of the fence.  It was really fun to watch.  From a safe distance.  Which is how I like my animal encounters.

Actually… there is one animal I would like very much to be dangerously close to.  The sloths.  I can’t get enough of them.  When I was little, I though my sister (an infant at the time) looked like the baby sloth in my National Geographic Zoo Babies book (which was published in 1978 and is currently available for a mere one cent on Amazon… act now!).  In hindsight, I could see how that comparison could be misinterpreted (what, with the gnarly nails and overwhelming body odor), but I thought sloths were cute and I knew my sister was cute, end of story.

After Nick fed Thomas G., we started making our way back to the car (Grace was about 30 seconds away from a melt down and also, I wanted snacks) when we were about to pass the rain forest exhibit.  Strollers weren’t allowed in building, but I saw a sign for sloths, so I quicky abandoned my family took Nick up on his offer to stay outside with the baby while I checked things out.  I was about to make my way back to them, when a woman pointed above me.  I nearly fainted with joy.  A real, live sloth was hanging from a branch directly over my head.  I don’t think sloths fall from things very often (or ever?) but if he did, he would have totally landed in my handbag.  And I would have kept him.

I have no idea where this post is going… but I just admitted to wanting to steal a sloth, so my guess is: nowhere good. I’ll stop myself here.

Also On Tap for Today:

If you could steal, but then responsibly care for (obvi) any zoo creature, which would you choose?

Today: Summer Bucket List and some sweet shades.

Let’s start with a question: Where did the expression bucket list come from? (Please pause while I Google…)  Hmm.  Not a fruitful search.  Ohhhhh….. it must have something to do with kicking the bucket, and like… things you want to do before that fateful day.  One thing that is not on my summer bucket list: kicking the bucket.

Morbidity (and flaky inner monologue) aside, here are a few things I am hoping to accomplish before Labor Day rolls around.

The coolest bro ever.

Summer Bucket List

  1. A little road trip with my little family - I’m toying with Montreal, would love to see Niagra Falls again, and have also been keeping an eye on the new Nova Star.  Oh, and I read about a library in Vermont that sits directly on the border and does not yet have a copy of Bobby Orr’s autobiography.  I feel like that’s a problem I can remedy with my dogeared copy.   Apparently, I’m feeling the call of Canada.
  2. Hiking in the Blue Hills - and by hiking, I likely mean the family friendly paved path… and a peek at the otters at the Trailside Museum.
  3. Yoga outside - and lots of it.
  4. SUP – Bonus points for SUP yoga.  Side bar:  I am convinced my sister, our cousin and I invented SUP.  We used to take our families’ ocean kayaks out on the Cape, stand up, and think we were incredibly cool (we were).  We called it “stand upon kayaking”… but maybe if we had abbreviated it to SUK it would have caught on?  No.
  5. See Wait Wait in person – Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is going to be at Tanglewood in late August.  I want to be there. Badly.
  6. Run a new race – my broken toe is nearly unbroken, so I think it’s time to set my sights on a new goal and get training.  Also, can I just say, broken toes are no joke.  I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance (hello, labor and delivery), but maaaaaaan.  You know when you stub your toe, and you get that feeling of I might throw up or I might pee?  And then the feeling goes away and you’re fine (and hopefully you neither threw up nor peed)?  It doesn’t go away when your toe is broken.  And you have to wear an ugly boot.  And suddenly this bucket list became a pity party.
  7. Tackle unfinished (or in some cases, un-started) home projects – I have grand plans for our pantry and a few art projects in mind for Grace’s nursery.  I’m looking forward to spending a few Summer Fridays getting crafty.
  8. Go to a hot air balloon festival - according to the Internet, there are a bunch in New England this summer.  This might be a reach, but I think it would be so cool to see a sky full of balloons.  There used to be a few that would float over our house when I was growing up.  It always felt like we were witnessing something magical (real magic… not the creepy, weird magician kind..).
  9. Volunteer - Clark and I took some time off from our pet therapy visits in the weeks leading up to, and following, Grace’s arrival.  I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things at the hospital, and finding other ways to support our community.
  10. Track 12 weeks of food and fitness – I’ve only ever successfully tracked my food intake for more than a day, like, once.  It was back in my food allergy/elimination diet/what is wrong with my stomach days, and honestly… it was not fun.  At the same time, it helped me see the choices I was making and the patterns I had fallen into, and how food affects my overall wellbeing.  I think a bit of accountability and self-awareness will go a long way, especially as I try to make the best possible choices for me and Grace.

Welp, there you have it folks: my I hope I go to a ballon festival before kicking the bucket list.

P.S. I recently received a complimentary pair of Nectar sunnies.  They’re fun and a bit flashy and very reasonably priced ($30 for a polarized pair, $20 for non-polarized).  In other words, they’re the perfect accessory for checking off summer bucket list items.  They were a bit big on Clark, but fit me perfectly. Looking for a pair of your own?  Click here and use the code ‘lovenectar’ for 10% off

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Planting a few more herbs for our little deck garden
  • My new obsession: produce bouquets
  • Packing for a day trip to DC

What’s on your summer bucket list?

 

Today: How to spoil your dog and a giveaway from Milk-Bone

GIVEAWAY CLOSED — Congratulations Kim, and many thanks to Wish Bone and all who entered.

When we first brought Clark home, I had no idea what I was doing.  He was my first non-hamster pet, and the first dog I wasn’t mostly terrified of.  I probably should have read a book about dogs, or something… but instead our relationship was forged by a lot of trial and error, several panicked calls to the vet (they all started with “Is it normal for dogs to…”) and lots of Googling.  And the fun stuff, like playing “Can you find me if I am hidden beneath all your half-destroyed stuffed animals?”

You get comfy, I’ll track down the meat flavored toothpaste.

When Clark didn’t eat right away, I would sit on the floor with him, garnishing his dry food with organic apple sauce, sliced carrots and shredded cheese, and attempt to feed him by hand.   When he didn’t, like, do his business… I’d stay outside with him for hours, making up encouraging songs about bodily functions.  I bought him a little toothbrush and meat flavored toothpaste (which smelled like a dead squirrel and made me want to cry) and tried my best to keep his K-9 canines nice and clean.  He was more interested in eating the toothbrush.  I thought he needed a bath before bed time each night (that was short lived, turns out that’s really not a good nor healthy idea), and wondered if there was some sort of Frenchie cuticle oil I should invest in.

During those first few weeks, Nick would often come home to find dog toys strewn about our condo, and me and Clark covered in food, bathing supplies, and fur.  Five years later, I’ve learned a few lessons (a monthly bath will suffice; if he’s hungry, he’ll eat), but I’ve yet to master the tooth brushing thing.

I think he’s trying to show you his molars.

When Milk-Bone offered to send me their new Brushing Chews, I thought…. finally.  No more dead squirrel paste. Clark seems to think they’re treats, which works for me.

Bonus points for the stand-up, resealable bag! #easilyimpressed

Milk-Bone Brushing Chews have been clinically proven to reduce tartar build-up and freshen dog’s breath.  They look like sweet little bones, but their brushing nubs and 75 degree twist were designed to reach down to the dog’s gum line, and those hard-to-reach back teeth.  They’ve earned the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s seal of approval, and the highly sought after “two paws up” from Clark.

Just casually brushing his own chompers.

The Frenchie is hooked, and I am happy to put away our little toothbrush.

A giveaway from Milk-Bone

The lovely folks at Milk-Bone have offered to give one On Tap for Today reader (US residents only, please… sorry, Canadians!  And French people.) their own Milk-Bone Brushing Chews kit, along with a $25 VISA gift card.  To enter, please comment below.

While your dog is busy cleaning his own teeth, you might think about how you’ll put that gift card to good use, spoiling your fur ball.

Little dude is famous. Kind of.

How to spoil your dog for $25 or less:

  • Do a little research about dog-friendly locations in your area.  I’m partial to the newly released Ruff Guide to the United States (pictured above)… and not just because Clark made his modeling debut in the Massachusetts section.  One of the best ways I can think of to spoil your dog is to spend good ol’ fashioned quality time with him or her.  C-A-R is one of Clark’s favorite words.  He loves adventures, but more than anything, I think he just likes to be along for the ride.  With summer approaching, we’re looking forward to a few dog-friendly weekends away.
  • Treat your pal to a new collar or leash.  A new collar or leash is an inexpensive but practical treat for your little guy.  We have a great waterproof, stink-proof collar from Dublin Dog that is perfect for summer.  Clark’s able to jump in the ocean (or the Swan Pond…) without getting his collar soggy.
  • Speaking of swimming, you might invest in some water safety gear.  Safety first, summer fun second.
  • Pamper those paws.  For less than $25, we can get Clark nice and clean (read: not smelling like Fritos… why does that happen?!) at our local groomer.  We also love B.Y.O.D., a local dog spa and retail shop where we can drop Clark into one of their industrial sinks and bathe him ourselves.  It’s a lot of fun… and a lot less messy than bathing him at home.  You could also stock up on your pup’s favorite grooming supplies.  We use Bag-Balm for Clark’s nose, oatmeal and aloe shampoo in the tub, a Zoom Groom for brushing (perfect for his short coat), and Musher’s Secret for paw protection in the winter.
  • Make a contribution to your local dog park. Living in the city, we really appreciate having a safe, enclosed space to let Clark roam free and stretch his short legs a bit.  We’re lucky to live close to the South Boston Bark Park, which is always really well maintained.  I noticed the other day that you can become a member and support volunteer efforts to keep the park clean and safe.  Seems like  good way to ensure our little guy can continue to enjoy his trips to the park!

Disclaimer: The Milk Bone dog products, information, and VISA gift cards (for this post and giveaway) have been provided by the Milk-Bone brand.  I received a complimentary Brushing Chews kit and a $25 gift card.  All opinions shared are my own (welp, and Clark’s… sort of), and I grateful to be sharing this giveaway with you and your pups.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to spoil your dog?  Share below for a chance to win your own Milk-Bone Brushing Chews and a $25 VISA giftcard.  Entries will be accepted until the end of the day on Wednesday, May 28th.  A random winner will be selected and notified by email.

 

Today: Watermelon agua fresca on the deck.

When we moved into our condo last year, the weather was just starting to turn cool.  I’d slip out onto the deck in the morning with a hot cup of tea, grateful to have a little outdoor space of our own.  On winter days when I was feeling especially brave, I’d take my coffee out there, watching the snow fall along the water.  Now that warmer days have (finally) arrived, it’s time to switch up our deck drinks.

Watermelon agua fresca

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Optional: agave nectar, tacky purple string lights

Super obvious directions:

  1. Add watermelon, water and lime juice to the blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Sweeten with agave, if desired (I prefer it without, but… different strokes for different folks).
  4. Garnish with a lime slice and your favorite straw.
  5. Hit the deck.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your weekend?

 

Today: Blog Tour – My Writing Process

My pal Molly recently invited me to join the My Writing Process blog tour.  It’s sort of like a blogger’s chain letter (speaking of, did anyone ever participate in a middle school chain letter that actually worked?), where we talk about… well, our writing process, but also shine a light on some of our favorite blogs.  I’ve never done something like this before, so when Molly shared her post, I found myself clicking through to read posts from others on the tour, fascinated by reading about what inspires other bloggers, how their styles and content varies, and what they most enjoy writing about.

Sometimes I pay Clark to edit for me. So, um, if you catch a typo… blame him.

I first started blogging in 2006-ish when I felt like I desperately needed a creative outlet.  I was still having flashbacks from my senior year drawing class and the time our professor served as a live model, so sketching didn’t seem like a safe option.  I barely knew how to knit (hence the collection of 1/4 scarves I tried to pass off as potholders).  I probably could have taken up cooking, but I lived with my parents and welp… I liked eating what they made.  Having always loved to write, a free blogspot address seemed like a natural fit for a recently graduated, rather poor, semi-bored non-profit employee such as myself.  Because blogging has always been somewhere in the neighborhood of third or fourth or eleventh on my list of priorities, I’ve posted when inspiration struck, and rarely a minute sooner.

Those are sparks of inspiration… or whatever.

Lately, however, I feel like I’ve been posting even when that inspiration has gone on strike, I’ve been posting more sponsored content than usual, and I’ve even been tempted to outright delete content I’ve shared.  Having the chance to reflect on and answer the questions posed and answered by Molly (and our chain letter predecessors, like Bianca and Meghan) has been tremendously helpful.  It’s sort of like when you go to leadership camp and on the ride home you’re all, “I love student council! This is going to be the best year evvvvaaarrrr!”  Oh.  You didn’t go to leadership camp because you were doing normal things?  Right.  Well.

I’m grateful to Molly for including me in this tour, and for the great content she shares week after week.  We first met at a Whole Foods event, but I had been reading her restaurant picks (you can find her full list of Dining Out reviews here – from Boston to LA, Las Vegas to Miami, and seemingly everywhere in between, this is the place to go if you’re looking for a solid restaurant recommendation), shopping tips, local event coverage and book reviews for quite some time before that.  She has impeccable taste (supporting evidence: her Instagram account) and after seeing her Oscar party photos, I decided I need her to plan every party and event in my life hence forward.

I rarely talk blog shop here, but I am hoping you might find this peek behind the curtain even a little interesting, and perhaps it will get you thinking about your creative process, as well.  Here goes.

My Writing Process

Haaaaaaay.

What am I working on?

For the first time (maybe ever?) I am craving some sort of established process or plan for On Tap for Today.  I have quite the list of posts I want to start (or finish… or translate from a late night iPhone note to something actually readable, and not written entirely in emoji), but find myself spread a bit thin lately.  My old “when inspiration strikes” method isn’t working quite as well now that I am trying to navigate being a wife, a mother, a career person, and a cool/sort of interesting/regular person.  When I do have free time, I am sure you can understand that I’d rather spend it with Nick and Grace and Clark and not my MacBook.  And yet, there’s a reason I keep paying my hosting fee each month.  I love this little corner of the Internet I’ve carved out for myself.

So I guess you could say I am working on time management and transitioning to something a bit more organized and a bit less spontaneous.  I’ve been kicking around a few ideas about fostering creativity, and have a few projects I’ve been working on around the condo (as the saying goes, Sleep Craft when the baby sleeps) that I am excited to share.  I’m also planning to share more wellness focused posts, as I feel like how I care for my body (and brain, and spirit) is especially important these days.  Did I mention I broke my toe this weekend?  I’ll probably tell you about that too. (Cliffhanger!)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

They’re not like other bananas. They’re marathon bananas.

Every “how to” I’ve ever read about blogging has said this: Find a niche and stick to it.  Normally I’m a rule follower, but I like the freedom to write about finding shells in Mexico one day, and seeing a fart on my dog’s x-ray the next.  I am as passionate about fitness and I am about spending the day in bed reading.  Two of my most popular (it feels sort of Mean Girls to use that word, but hey) posts are about marathon running and why you shouldn’t get your eyebrows waxed when you’re sad.  Breaking the niche rule works for me, and so I am not sure On Tap for Today fits into any one category or genre.  Lifestyle, maybe?  Healthy Living, sort of?

The posts I’m most proud of, and I suppose the ones that differentiate me even a tiny bit, are those where I’ve taken a risk and been more personal and vulnerable.  Writing about being afraid is more difficult than sharing a chili recipe, but it’s also more rewarding for me (trust me, though, the chili is worth making) and, I hope, maybe more helpful for others.

Why do I write what I do?

Writing is often how I do my best processing (I’d choose writing over talking about a challenge any day.).  So when I’m sharing something more substantial than, say, a Frenchie photo montage, my motivation is often selfish.  I always appreciate, though, when a post resonates with someone else.  It’s a privilege to be part of this community and be able to build connections with words.

Who needs school when you have a fence?

More often, though, I write because something strange or funny (both funny haha and funny um… okay) has happened and I think it warrants documenting (like the time there was a skunk trapped in a stairwell near my office, and someone took the time to print up a sign, but didn’t bother to call animal control).  Or because I just enjoyed the most amazing agua fresca on the deck and I feel it would be unjust to deny my mom humanity the recipe.  Or because I feel like I’m back in the running game (that was before the broken toe, obvi) and I want to hold myself accountable.

Above all, I try to be genuine and authentic in my writing.  I’m not an expert at much (I think I’m a semi-expert at my real job, but no one wants to hear about that stuff), and hope my vibe comes across as accessible, approachable, and thoughtful.  No one needs a lecture.  Except for people that need a lecture.  Also, why did I just talk about “my vibe?”  

How does my writing process work?

I was that kid who never bothered with outlines (they drove me mental).  In fact, I often wrote my outline after the fact, so as to not lose points on pre-writing exercises.  Were I presently 11 instead of 32, I don’t think I would fare well on the MCAS exams.  Or in middle school, in general.

In this case, the word “daily” is pronounced “erratic.” But thank you, Whole Foods!

When it comes to posts, I almost always write and publish them in one sitting.  Sometimes this takes 10 minutes, other times 60.  Despite lacking in the bowhunting photography skills department, images are an important component for me.  It’s often a photo that drives or inspires the narrative, but sometimes I dig through the 9.3 million unorganized photos in my DropBox for something that fits after writing.

I often read my posts aloud before clicking publish in an effort to catch typos and other embarrassing things… like references to leadership camp (I use this trick at work, too).

And that’s that.  Nothing exciting.

And now for the next round of the My Writing Process blog tour…

I do. It’s true.

I’m thrilled that the following three ladies have agreed to share their writing process with us next Monday.  I consider each to be the Diana Barry to my Anne Shirley (which is to say, we’re kindred spirits, duh).  Please be sure to keep an eye out for their posts, which will be live next Monday, May 19th.

Michelle of Hit the Bricks We technically first met at a blogging event in Boston, but I was a total boob (shocking) and super socially awkward.  Fortunately, Michelle is charitable, and didn’t write me off altogether.  When we had our first real friend date, I think both of our husbands put lo-jack in our handbags, worried about what happens when one meets an “internet friend” for tea.  In the years since, she’s become a true and trusted friend.  She likes Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart and office supplies as much as I do, so basically, our friendship was written in the stars (with a mint green fine point Sharpie).

Heather of Then Heather Said I’ve learned a great deal from Heather during the years I’ve been lucky enough to know her.  From practical information (the best apps, tips for staying organized, random Presidential facts) to even more important things (specifically, how to be a good friend), I’m so grateful our paths have crossed.  Aaaand I get excited every Tuesday, because I love her Twosday posts.

Kristi of Life Sprinkles  I first met Kristi at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit cocktail party in Philadelphia.  I’ve loved catching up with her at this annual event, but wish I got to see her in person more often (no offense to all the states in between Arizona and Massachusetts, but, like… you’re all kind of in the way).  I love her honest, inspiring, and joyful posts.  Oh, and if you haven’t already, sign up for her Sprinkle a Day in May series.  There are still plenty of May days left to be inspired by this lovely lady.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you working on?  Got any exciting projects on the horizon?

Today: Happy Mother’s Day.

In celebration of Mother’s Day, here’s a photo of the last time it was socially acceptable for me to wear a crop top and hot shorts at the same time.  These days, it’s one or the other.  Just kidding… it’s very much neither.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you.  And I owe you the world.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the best advice your mom, or an important lady in your life, has given you?

Today: 100 days of Grace.

It’s been exactly 100 days since Grace was born.

There are moments when it feels like she has just arrived, and others when I can’t believe she hasn’t been with us all along.  Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation, but there are times when I cannot imagine life before that instant when she was placed on my chest in the delivery room and everything changed.

Left: Grace is 6 hours old. Right: Grace is 100 days and 6 hours old. Both: I am overjoyed, overtired, and in need of a hairbrush.

We started going to a new moms’ group when Grace was almost three weeks old.  I am so grateful for that community.  And I want all eight of our babies to grow up and be college roommates.  Or live on an organic farm together.  Or something.

At our last formal meeting, the group’s facilitator asked us to share something that is going well, something that is challenging, and something that has changed.  What stood out to me was the confidence I had gained over those first weeks.  And how much we’ve grown and developed and changed together.  And how I love her more than I could ever adequately express.

In honor of Grace’s first 100 days, 50 thoughts and reflections on life with our beautiful baby… I would have given you 100, but let’s be serious:

  1. I think the first thing I noticed about Grace was her nose.  It is so tiny and sweet, I kiss it all the time.
  2. I’ve found so much love and support in both expected and unexpected places.
  3. More so than ever, I need other people.  I need help.  I need support.  I need to be told that my crazy hair and (unintentionally) tight pants look good.
  4. It’s all very humbling, especially for someone who has always preferred to just do it myself.
  5. I am more grateful than ever for Nick, for our families and friends, and everyone who has been so kind and gentle and supportive to us.
  6. Having a community of new moms, sharing similar experiences, has been invaluable.  (If you live in the Boston area and are expecting or have children, I highly recommend Mama and Me in JP.)
  7. We were discharged from the hospital on a Friday evening, but had to see our pediatrician early the next morning (I love that they’re open on weekends) for a weight check and some testing.  The only thing more overwhelming than being sent home with a very new, very small, very needy baby… is packing her up and taking her back out in the world less than a day later.
  8.  … but because we needed to, we figured it out.  There wasn’t much time for panic or worry, and eventually necessity lead to competence (sort of… once I had the child locks on, got in the back seat to move Grace from her car seat to the Ergo… and then got trapped inside my own car).
  9. After I made a few solo trips to the doctor without, like, losing our child, Grace and I started going to more fun places, too.
  10. I made it my goal to get out of the condo at least once a day while on maternity leave.
  11. We spent Thursdays at my parents’ house, walked to Castle Island when it was warm enough, spent a shameful amount of both time and money in the stationary aisle at Target, and even got our first library card.  Start ‘em young.
  12. I am so grateful to have good health care.
  13. Same goes for a wonderful pediatrician and group practice.  They have been so helpful and supportive.  And they don’t make me feel like a nutty first time parent.  Even though I am a nutty first time parent.
  14. Breastfeeding is hard.  Pumping at work isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either.  But, for me, it’s worth it.
  15. I say, “Let’s take this one day at a time” to myself a lot lately.
  16. I am convinced the face babies make after they eat is the secret to world peace.
  17. I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept for more than 2-3 hours at once.  I do remember the first time I slept long enough to have a dream after Grace was born though.  I dreamt that President Obama was making a very important speech about Olympic figure skating.
  18. I don’t know why I thought this, but I was certain both Grace and I would be sleeping through the night before I returned to work.  She wakes to be fed 2-3 times each night, meanwhile I have friends whose babies were sleeping through the night after a couple of weeks.  It’s all very mysterious.
  19. I ‘m embracing our middle-of-the-night wakings as our time.
  20. Grace’s smile can stop me in my tracks.  Even (or especially) at 3 AM.
  21. It’s the best gift.
  22. When I was pregnant, it was obvious (except at the beginning, when it was a little more like… maybe she’s pregnant, maybe she ate six pizzas).  Especially towards the end, even complete strangers were nicer to me.  People wanted to know when I was due, if I was having a girl or boy, how I was feeling.  I appreciate that more now than I did a the time.
  23. I attract similarly well-intentioned attention when I am out with Grace, but when I’m by myself, I sort of feel a bit adrift.  Like that I want to tell the mailman I have a baby, or I nearly tell the lady in line ahead of me that I am a mom, too.
  24. I guess I hadn’t given much thought to what navigating a new identity would be like, and in that way, I sort of miss being pregnant.  Sort of.
  25. I like that we are creating new rituals and traditions with our sweet girl and our family.
  26. Children’s books either totally awesome, or totally weird.  I’ve yet to find anything in between.
  27. Aaaaand I have yet to make it through Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You without crying.
  28. It feels like I’m softer (and I’m not just talking about my mid-section) than before.
  29. And at the same time, becoming a mother has definitely made me tougher.  I feel a stronger instinct to protect and defend.  I guess that’s what happens when you’ve got more to lose.
  30. I sing to Grace all the time, but the only songs I seem to actually know the words to are Christmas songs.
  31. Clark has been so good.  We’re really lucky.
  32. He has started trying to play with Grace, bringing toys and dropping them beside her, or gently nudging her when she’s on her activity mat.
  33. There is no sense in getting dressed until Grace is safely strapped into her car seat and we’re just about to head out the door.  Any sooner is just asking to be, welp, puked on.
  34. I do not miss my maternity clothes.
  35. I consigned them all the first chance I had.
  36. Uh… except for my maternity jeans.  I am saving those for Thanksgiving (or any other day when eating my body weight in potatoes seems like a real possibility).
  37. I wish I had Grace’s wardrobe.  Cotton everything.  Stretchy pants.  Cuffins and built-in socks.  Kimono tops.  Please.
  38. The underwear you get at the hospital is, like, the best underwear ever.
  39. My favorite thing to wear, though: my baby.  Babywearing is the best.
  40. Same goes for skin-to-skin contact.
  41. I could stare at Grace all day long.
  42. Being away from her during the day has been challenging (but not nearly as challenging as I imagined), and I find myself wanting to hold her all night, even if it means I risk waking her up.
  43. I am thankful that I have both a family and a career.
  44. But I struggle a bit, wondering if I am doing enough as a wife, a mother and a worker.
  45. I’ve always been in awe of my parents, but even more so now that I am one.
  46. Nick is an incredible father.  It’s like he’s known what to do right from the start.
  47. Labor and delivery was amazing.  I’ve heard people compare the experience to all sorts of things (marathons and WODs and whitewater rafting, for example) and I can firmly say this: nothing compares.
  48. It was painful and long and, at times, a bit scary (and I am pretty sure I had it relatively easy after hearing others’ birth stories), but all of that fell away the second Grace was born.
  49. Some day I’ll tell you what it was like to ride an elevator with a bunch of dudes in suits on their way to work while my water was breaking.  Maybe.
  50. After three months, I love that we’re starting to see and know Grace’s personality.  She’s curious and busy, and definitely a morning person.

I wouldn’t trade a minute of any of these past 100 days for anything in the world.

Life with Grace just keeps getting better.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you celebrating today?

Today: Be a pansy.

If you had a foul mouthed P.E. teacher, perhaps you’ve been advised to “stop being such a pansy” during dodgeball games.  If you had my P.E. teacher, you learned that you can wear high heels with tear-away pants.  So there’s that.

pansy

Anyway, if you’ve ever been called a pansy before, I’ve got two messages for you:

  1. I love you.  You are perfect.  Never change.
  2. Pansies are actually pretty amazing.

In fact, pansies are one of the few plants that can survive outdoors in early spring.  Their vibrantly hued flowers sort of look like little faces, and that makes people (specifically, me) smile.  There’s no shame in being a pansy.  I’ve touched on this (and the time a man called me a pit bull) before, but words are important – both how they’re said or delivered, and how they’re felt or received.

I very well may get my tires slashed for sharing this, but someone has taken to leaving handwritten notes on the windshields of cars parked in our neighborhood.  Because I always dreamed of being a detective, naturally I’ve all but citizen’s arrested the person who I am certain is writing these notes.

I get that parking can be a challenge, especially in Southie, but I can’t imagine having the time and energy to notice that someone took up two spots, then go into our condo, find a notepad and a pen, think up the most insane swear words to include, write these words down, go back outside, stick the note under the offending car’s wiper blades, go back inside, and then try and feel good about myself and what I’ve just done.

(Heck, if I had even a fraction of that time and energy, I’d take a nap.  Or, you know, spend it with my family.  Possibly, like… napping.)

This is what strikes me:  It takes the same (maybe more?) energy to be mean and make a point, as it does to be civil and make that same point.  And had it been my car (I noticed it on someone else’s car and grabbed it because I felt the need to guard the driver’s spirit… and also because I thought the words were so shocking, I couldn’t stop laughing and had to show Nick), I think I would have focused more on the anger imparted, and less on my faulty parking job.   Who knows what kind of day either person was having, but I can’t imagine a note like that would do much good for either its author or the intended recipient.

It’s totally okay to be a pansy (in fact, I encourage it), and it’s okay to be annoyed when your neighbor parks like a boob.  But it’s not okay to be mean.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite swear? How’s your Monday going?