Tag Archives: giveaway

Get Messy Art Journal membership giveaway

If you find yourself looking for a new creative outlet and a supportive community (not to mention, a really healthy alternative to cable news) lately, you know I’ll be the first to encourage you to pick up a pen, paintbrush, pair of scissors or box of crayons.  

dont quit before the miracle

Materials used: Magazine scraps, matte medium, sharp/dangerous scissors, Jane Davenport canvas art journal.

As a member of the 2017 Creative Team, I am thrilled to be hosting a Get Messy Art Journal giveaway for a full year membership ($195 value).  I am so grateful for this community and encourage anyone (really, anyone) to check it out.  You don’t need to have an art background nor a closet full of supplies, just the desire to create.  To make.  To explore.  To play.  

An annual membership to this community includes:

  • Immediate access to the current season and entire archives of Get Messy
  • Four new art journal prompts every Monday during the season (delivered by email) to encourage and guide you in your art making
  • Link ups to share your art, build community and gain encouragement
  • Ten targeted tutorials per season
  • Inspiration to create from Guest Artists, Member Spotlights, Contributors, and the Creative Team
  • Access to the Messy Forums to share and receive wisdom + ask questions
  • Opportunities to build friendships and connect with art accountability partners 
  • Access to our private Facebook community 
  • First access to new classes

Each season lasts two months and has a dedicated theme (past seasons have included Dreams, Love, Music + Gifts).  You can do as much or as little as you like, but I personally attribute so much creative growth to this program.  

You can learn more here:

There are monthly ($20) and season ($35) memberships available as well.  If you have specific questions about the program, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.  I also recommend scrolling through the #getmessyartjournal feed on Instagram to see what members are making.

GET MESSY ART JOURNAL GIVEAWAY

To enter the giveaway for a year-long Get Messy Art Journal membership, please leave a comment below.  This giveaway is open to all (there are Get Messy members all over the world) and closes at 6PM EST on January 31st. One winner will be randomly selected and notified after the giveaway closes.

This post contains affiliate links.

Also On Tap for Today:

What creative goal(s) would you like to accomplish this year? (And how can I help you get there?!)

 

Make your mornings amazing.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think we’re finally at a point where I can wake up and start the day at a reasonable time (say, 6 AM), on my own terms (i.e. not to feed a small babe), at least a few days a week.  On those days, I do my best to embrace a few quiet moments, be even a tiny bit more productive than usual, and set the tone for an amazing day.  

Or, like… maybe just an average, mostly normal one.  But why not aim for amazing?

MAKE YOUR MORNING AMAZING

make your mornings amazing

Step 1: Do not look at your phone.  I repeat: Do not look at your phone.  This is your chance to start your day with your thoughts, your ideas, your plans.  The easiest way to derail these thoughts, ideas and plans… is to be consumed by someone else’s thoughts, ideas and plans.  Or, like, emails and tweets and news stories.  You might sneak in a quick meditation, read your favorite poem, start a morning pages habit, or simply say to yourself, “Today’s gonna be a good day.”  I like think over the Dalai Lama’s morning prayer… but sometimes, I just simply say, “Be good.”  Here are a few more morning reading recommendations.

making your mornings amazing

Step 2: Make a quick, easy and nourishing breakfast.  I used to be a breakfast skipper, mostly because I “didn’t have time.”  I’ve learned to prioritize my morning meal, though, and find myself feeling way less hungry (read: cranky) and way more energized.  My go-to lately: A bowl of fruit, a rice cake and a Protein Superfood smoothie using Amazing Grass’ new chocolate peanut butter powder, some ice and skim milk.  The plant-based powder is a mix of peas, chia, quinoa and hemp, along with 7 alkalizing greens and 9 nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

Step 3: Move a little.  You might go for a run, you might do some gentle stretching (I love this 10 minute sequence from MindBodyGreen).  Either way, there are definite perks (and research to back them up) to working out in the morning.

make your mornings amazing

Step 4: Match your manicure to your marble countertops.  Step 4 is purely optional.

Want to win some Amazing Grass Protein Superfood powder (your choice of Original, Vanilla or Peanut Butter Chocolate)? Leave a comment below!  One winner will be chosen on Saturday, August 6th. (Giveaway is open to US residents.)

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I am happy to partner with Amazing Grass on this sponsored post.  

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you make your mornings amazing?

Today: Last week’s workouts + a SLS3 running belt giveaway

What is it about spring that makes me want to be a runner again?  

That year I ran two marathons (the Walt Disney World Marathon and the NYC marathon <– click though for recaps, if you’d like to read about very mediocre running, but above average emotional expression) seems like ancient history, but give me a new pair of kicks and a 60 degree day and you’d think I was heading for the starting line (more likely: I’m heading to Target because I forgot to buy hand soap… but remembered to buy chocolate chips…).

last week's workouts

Regardless, I’m looking forward to several spring races (the Marine Corps Honor Run in Southie and the Corrib 5k in West Roxbury for starts) and sort of feel my running mojo coming back.  Whatever that means.  If you’re getting back outside to train, I’ve got a great giveaway below that might make your (running) life a little better.

Last week’s workouts

last week's workouts

Monday: Mama Beasts — I’m always a little giddy when the deck of cards comes out (and I’m impressed at how many ways Antoinette puts those cards to use!).

Tuesday: Mama Beasts spring challenge workout (at home) and a long walk with the little people.  Grace went on a two week nap strike (and attempted to eat a crayon while I changed Nick’s diaper), so escaping getting out of the house felt very necessary.  It’s amazing what a little fresh air (and ocean views) can do.

Wednesday: Mama Beasts and BeFit abs + arms

Thursday: Push-up playdate with my sister-in-law, Colleen– we earned a point for our MB team for every push-up we completed in an hour.  I’m still working on being able to do regular push-ups on my toes (hello, two children… and a temporary goodbye to core/back strength), but got 163 good form push-ups done on my knees.   I rounded out the day with a gentle flow from OneOEight yoga.  

Friday: Mama Beasts (followed by an adorable egg hunt for the little ones!)

Saturday: Mileage day for the MB challenge — a morning walk and an afternoon trip to the track for a total of 5 miles.

Sunday: Rest.  Any by rest, I mean… Easter candy.

SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt Giveaway

SLS3 giveaway

I recently received a dual pocket run belt from SLS3 and have used it on several outdoor runs and walks, and loaned it to Nick for a rowing workout.  I’ve used other running belts in the past, and this one is far more comfortable (it doesn’t bounce around and has a wide, fully adjustable belt) and it can hold an iPhone 6+ (and comparably giant phones), keys, IDs, gels, snacks, and heavens knows what else. I look forward to continuing to use it for spring runs and races and am thrilled to host a giveaway today.

sls3 giveaway 

The giveaway is open for a week, and a random winner will be chosen and contacted by SLS3.  Please enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The dual pocket run belt is currently on sale at Amazon for $16.90 (more than 40% off the retail price).  Additionally, you can receive 40% off the entire SLSTRI website using the code BLOG40.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary running belt in exchange for my review and hosting this giveaway. 

Also On Tap for Today:

Upcoming races?  Or belated Easter egg hunts?

Today: Last week’s workouts + a BeFit giveaway

Consider this post a two-for-one special… two weeks, one post.  Or, a three-for-one if you count the BeFit giveaway.  I’m all for rounding up.

last weeks workouts be fit giveaway

Last week’s workouts

Monday: Class with the Mama Beasts (a new session just started, and Saturday classes will be starting soon — check out the Quiet Beasts website for more info), BeFit Cardio Extreme (12 minutes)

Tuesday: BeFit Dynamic Strength (12 minutes), yoga (Mellow Me Out with One0Eight.tv — I am obsessed with this slow stretch)

Wednesday: Class with the Mama Beasts 

Thursday: Rest day (and lots of stretching… my birth week had me feeling especially old and creaky)

Friday: Class with the Mama Beasts, BeFit Lower Body Blast (10.5 minutes)

Saturday: Special challenge class with the Mama Beasts (aaaand it was a tough one)

Sunday: Rest

last weeks workouts befit giveaway

BeFit Toned Abs + Arms

…and the week before last week’s workouts

Monday: Class with the Mama Beasts 

Tuesday: BeFit Toned Abs and Arms (13 minutes)

Wednesday: Class with the Mama Beasts

Thursday: Make-up class with the Mama Beasts — 12 Days of Christmas!  I’m really glad I made it to this class, as I missed this workout when Antoinette ran it in December, just after Nick was born.  I had to scale back some of the running (indoor laps instead of outdoor) half-way through… I pretended I needed to be close to the babes, but in reality, my lungs and legs were burning).  Merry Christmas, body!

Friday: Class with the Mama Beasts, BeFit Toned Abs and Arms — class three days in a row was no joke, but I really liked the abs/arms workout from earlier in the week, so I snuck that in, too.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Yoga (Mellow Me Out… again, and a yin yoga class)

BeFit Giveaway

last weeks workouts befit giveaway

In addition to making it to class four times both weeks (there was an extra class held both weeks), I managed to sneak in a few short at-home workouts, too.  I’m really enjoying BeFit’s 30 Day Workout Calendar, which corresponds to this YouTube playlist.  The program is free to access — I definitely recommend checking it out.

Each workout is short, but intense (check out this intro video to learn more) — perfect for fitting in between appointments, during nap time, or whenever your schedule allows.  You could work through the 30 day calendar as it is laid out, or pick and choose, as I have been doing.  This program is both really well organized and manageable (especially when you consider how little time you need to carve out) — and the variety of workouts has kept me feeling engaged and motivated.  

befit giveaway

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I was given the chance to review BeFit’s 30 Day Fat Burn program and received a generous gift of BeFit nutritional products from the company.  

Because I’m breastfeeding Nick, I am not taking any supplements (just a prenatal vitamin and my good ol’ Floridix for anemia), but I’ve heard great things about the products we received from my fellow ambassadors and look forward to trying them in the future.  I’m especially excited to try the pre-workout formula, as well as a few of the whey protein recipes that BeFit has shared on Instagram.  If you’d like to win your own gift set from BeFit, please see details below.

You can use any of the following methods to enter (each option will earn you an entry; please leave a separate comment below for each entry): 

Giveaway restrictions:

  • U.S. only
  • One prize per person. If you win this giveaway, and have already won another prize from BeFit through another blog, please disclose that you have already won so we can choose another winner. 

One winner will be randomly chosen on Thursday, March 10th.

This post is sponsored by BeFit, in partnership with Sweat Pink.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Really helpful… and kind of cool: 36 Pictures To See Which Muscle You’re Stretching via Be Young Be Green 
  • Listening to Grace repeatedly talk about how she is going to pick up the Easter Bunny and take him for a walk (???)
  • Catching up on #makeyourmarkMARCH

What’s your favorite work out these days?

Today: Ready for Action! (a preview and giveaway)

One of the many advantages to being home these days is the opportunity to take my workouts outside.  In addition to long walks and short runs at Castle Island (who can beat that view?), Grace and I recently started joining my sister-in-law and friends for a stroller-friendly bootcamp a few mornings a week. 

I am absolutely loving it.  It’s exactly the structure and community I’ve been craving.  I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun working out, and it certainly helps having a cute little spectator cheering me on.  After having spent most of the winter cooped up inside, though, it’s taken me a while to get my act together in prepping for these workouts.  From sunscreen and plenty of water, to diaper stuff, toys and snacks (Grace snacks while I work out… I think she has the right idea), to a yoga mat and resistance bands, I’m bound to forget something.

After falling for nearly every product inside the Hello, Beauty! bag from Whole Foods Market, I was so excited to hear that they would be releasing a second bag, filled with Whole Body products, just in time for summer…. and just in time for me to stop making a second or third trip back inside our condo before bootcamp.  

My lovely friends at Whole Foods Market River Street in Cambridge hooked me up with a complimentary Ready for Action bag to preview before they are available in stores on Saturday… aaaand I’ve got one for you, too!

Each Ready for Action bag contains a carefully curated collection: sunscreen, aloe, Toms of Maine deodorant, arnica gel, Nuun electrolyte tablets and superfood shake mixes, along with coupons for other great products.  And the bag itself is really cheery.  It is hand-printed bag by RIJI Green, a company committed to ending human trafficking.  It’s perfect for storing sunscreen and snacks (clearly, we are all about the snacks) in your beach or gym bag.

When it comes to active living, our local Whole Foods Market really is a one-stop shop.  I know the products and ingredients on the shelves are going to be safe and family-friendly, which I can’t necessarily say about so-called nutrition and supplement stores.  

I couldn’t wait to put the Goddess Garden Organics Natural Sunscreen and Boiron Arnicare Gel to good use during this week’s workouts, and I’m looking forward to mixing the Amazing Grass vanilla chai Amazing Meal into my next shake.

You can pick up a Ready for Action bag for just $12 (it is valued at $50) tomorrow, Saturday June 27th at 10 AM at your local U.S. Whole Foods Market store, in the Whole Body department.

Ready for Action giveaway

I’m excited to share a Ready for Action bag with one U.S. reader.  To enter, please comment below.  A winner (though… you’re, like, all winners… and don’t you forget it) will be randomly selected on Tuesday, June 30th.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your list of summer essentials?

Today: One tough mother and a Ziploc® brand giveaway.

 

This post is sponsored by Ziploc® brand. I received product and compensation, but as always, the opinions shared here are my own. I truly appreciate your support of the brands that, you know, support On Tap for Today.

While I couldn’t be more happy and proud to be a mom, motherhood can be tough. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by tough mothers who serve as role models, advisors and middle-of-the-night “Is anyone else awake?” text-mates. I would be lost without the close-knit community of mothers we’ve formed since Grace was born. 

We benefit from the fact that we’ve grown up differently, have our own parenting styles, and our little ones are at various stages of walking, running, climbing, talking and, yes… biting. One mom’s tough day might be someone else’s proverbial walk in the park, but we’re all in this together. In that spirit, I’ve partnered with Ziploc® brand to share a few lessons I’ve learned over the past 16 months (some from friends, others from trial and error…there’s been a lot of that).

Whenever possible, plan ahead

It only takes running out of diapers on the road once before over-planning and over-packing becomes second nature for even the most disorganized crew. Though it takes a bit of energy (which can be tough to find at the end of the day), I swear by this rule: Clean out, re-pack and re-stock before going to bed. This works wonders for a diaper bag, but it can be applied to your gym bag or handbag (Side bar: Is it true that fanny packs are making a comeback?).

 

Ziploc® brand Freezer Bags Quart with Easy Open Tabs are the perfect size to hold 3-4 of Grace’s tiny diapers and a few wipes. I can quickly stash this bag in any handbag or tote to run errands or take a quick trip. The new Easy Open Tabs make Ziploc® brand bags really easy to grip and open, which helps because so much of parenthood is spent with one hand full.

Available in freezer, storage, sandwich and snack varieties (in a number of sizes), the new Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs can store food, art supplies and other household items. These are great for keeping an extra change of clothes (one for me, one for the baby) and keeping dirty laundry separate in the event of spill, spit-up or other excitement.  All Ziploc® brand bags can be recycled at your local grocery store.

 

At 33, not only did I just discover the merits of our freezer, I’ve also (finally) started putting some real effort into meal planning. Nothing beats waking up to a pre-prepped breakfast, or coming home to an effortless dinner. Tossing ingredients for fresh juice in a Ziploc® brand bag with Easy Open Tabs at night makes sticking with a juicing routine so much easier. The same goes for chopped vegetables for a salad or for roasting, soup that can be frozen and reheated, and a cool summer treat.

Take notes

Lately, if you tell me something (especially if I am in the midst of multi-tasking), there’s a chance I may forget it. But, what if I write that same thing down (or see it written down)? It’s trapped in my brain forever. With multiple schedules and social security numbers to memorize (seriously, I still can’t remember my child’s number… is that normal?), I think we could all use a break. Figure out your learning style (you likely know this already, you’re a grown-up after all), and do what works for you.  For visual learners like myself, we’ve got to take notes.

Other times to take notes:

  • At the pediatrician’s office: Both before and during visits. Our doctor encourages us to come with a list of questions.
  • Future plans: I keep a running list of books I want to read, movies I want to watch, and museums I want to check out (the Eric Carle Museum is at the top of the list for a summer visit). I also take notes for paintings or art projects while I am out on the go (because this is when inspiration most often strikes… not when I am actually sitting down with a blank page). 
  • The daily routine: Sure, it’s routine for us, but having notes on your little one’s “schedule” (whatever that means, these days) is really helpful if you need someone to step in for the day. It’s also pretty amazing to look back and see how this routine has changed. I have an iPhone note from when Grace was 3 or 4 months old that details every waking and feeding…we’ve come a long way, baby.

In the spirit of staying organized, I attempted to pack light for a recent work trip and realized I could keep my flight info and plane-friendly toiletries (I had electronic boarding passes and wanted to be covered just in case I lost my phone or whatever other imaginary scenario I had dreamed up) stored in a Ziploc® brand bag with Easy Open Tabs. I thought I was a genius.

Take care of yourself

I think it’s possible to balance both the importance of self-care, and the realities of life.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I got a massage or manicure.  My “me” time often consists of a quick trip to the grocery store.  And that’s okay.  But it’s important to do something for yourself.  It’s important to make time for the things that you love to do.  And it’s important, above all, to take care of yourself.

For me, that means having a little sketchbook on hand, traveling with little luxuries like cuticle oil (it’s easy to apply in the car before you start a trip and so good for your nails) and light, natural roll-on fragrance in a Ziploc® brand Snack bag with Easy Open Tabs, always having a great playlist ready to go, and keeping a stash of magazines to enjoy during Grace’s nap time.

The best way I can think of to take care of yourself, though, is by asking for help when you need it. Lean on your family, friends and fellow tough mothers for support. We need each other, and that’s a good thing.

“Team Tough Mother” at Tough Mudder events

To celebrate the launch of their new bags, Ziploc® brand is partnering with one of the most challenging events around, Tough Mudder, in celebration of moms who are taking on a whole new level of strength. They’re creating Ziploc® Team Tough Mother to compete at Tough Mudder events across the country to honor tough mothers everywhere. By the way, I love this Ziploc® Tough Mother YouTube video created to mimic real-life motherhood; some days I really do feel like I am completing an obstacle course!

New England friends: It’s not too late to sign up for this year’s Tough Mudder on June 6-7 at Mount Snow. You’ll find Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs at bag drops to store your gear during and after the event.

You can find more inspiration from Ziploc® brand and other Tough Mothers by visiting www.Ziploc.com.

Giveaway

To win your own set of Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs, please leave a comment below. This giveaway is open to US residents and will close on Friday, June 12th.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Another great use for your plastic bags: printmaking with Alisa Burke
  • Working on our summer bucket list
  • Potting this year’s first tomatoes!

When the going gets tough… let’s hear your best tips!

Today: Lighting a candle (and an Old Factory Candles giveaway)

While I imagine candles were invented out of necessity (you know, like, before an old person invented the Clapper to clap on all the lights in the house), these days, they do more than help us read once the sun’s gone down.  For me, lighting a candle is the perfect daily ritual.

lighting a candle

We light candles atop cakes to celebrate birthdays.  We light a candle in the window for those far away.  We light pine scented candles in our first apartments when there’s no room for a real Christmas tree (just me?).  We light candles to offer prayers.  We light candles to set the mood (for the record, I was thinking of dinnertime and the “it’s time to eat” mood, not the other kind of mood… though I supposed that counts, too). We light candles at weddings, at baptisms and at funerals.

Lighting a candle is such an easy way to bring some of that celebration or ritual into a regular Tuesday.  Or Wednesday.  (You catch my drift.)  That small, simple act marks the start of something.  It could be the beginning of a great meal, or five minutes of prayer or meditation, or time to get lost in your thoughts.

Lighting a candle is how I come back to Earth, so to speak, on wild days.  Once the match is carefully discarded (safety first, mindfulness second, people!) and I see that brightly burning wick, the rest of my day seems to come into focus.  Few small rituals enable me to turn my thoughts off, while at the same time, turning my attention on, so effectively.  Bonus points for the added benefits of aromatherapy (and let’s be real: what smells better than a Christmas tree?).

Old Factory Candles giveaway

I recently received a complimentary gift set of Old Factory Candles and am thrilled to be hosting a giveaway today.  Each set includes three 2 oz. scented, natural soy candles in a range of themes.  I chose Spa Day (you know how people have those “I’d rather be golfing” bumper stickers? I want one that says “I’d rather be getting a manicure”), and have been enjoying scents of cucumber, green tea and (my favorite) lemongrass.  I like that these candles are small and come in unobtrusive packaging (the labels peeled easily off each jar); the scents are subtle and not at all overpowering.

One randomly chosen reader will receive a gift set of their choice (you can find all 11 themed sets online) courtesy of Old Factory Candles.  Here are a few of my recommendations for the lucky winner:

  • Winter Wonderland (hot cocoa, roasted chestnut, first snow)
  • Fresh and Clean (lemongrass, olive blossom, fresh linen)
  • Newborn Baby (baby powder, first blanket, baby shampoo)
  • Man Cave (straight razor, leather, mahogany… very Ron Burgandy)
  • Coffee Shop (coffee bean, hazelnut, chai tea)

To enter, please leave a comment below.  A winner will be chosen and notified on Friday, December 19th. Many thanks for entering!  The winner (Kim R.) has been notified.

Also On Tap for Today:

What daily (or occasional) ritual helps you wind down?

Today: A slow and quiet Christmas (and a David’s Tea giveaway!)

If I had it my way, we would have a (childproof) Christmas tree up all year long and we’d live next door to the kind of people who leave a plastic Santa on the roof well into the Spring.  There would be an Advent calendar for every month (which, I know, doesn’t vibe with the story of Christmas… but, um, God wants us to be happy).  We’d listen to O, Holy Night every night.  We would say “Happy Holidays” to strangers (and mean it).  We’d always be on the hunt for the perfect gift and everything would smell like peppermint.  On cinnamon.  Oh, and we’d can our nasty ‘tudes (something that seems to magically happen this time of year, albeit temporarily).

More simply put: If I had it my way, it would always be December.  Because, you know, this is the most wonderful time of the year.

A slow and quiet Christmas

With all the energy that goes into baking and shopping, wrapping presents and decking the halls, finding that one broken bulb and hanging up the mistletoe… this can also be an overwhelming time of year.  I leave Thanksgiving dinner with grand Pinterest-fueled plans for the month of December, but by mid-month, what I really need is a nap.

Follow Elizabeth’s board Christmas On Tap on Pinterest.

This year, all I want is a slow and quiet Christmas.

I’m dialing back the decorations (generally speaking, neither lit candles nor glitter are baby-friendly), laying low, and soaking up as much of that Christmas spirit as possible.  Oh, and I’m drinking lots of tea.

a slow and quiet Christmas and a David's Tea giveaway

Growing up, we always had an advent calendar hanging in our kitchen.  It’s a tradition Nick and I have adopted — one I look forward to sharing with Grace.  In the meantime, she’s happy to be crawling here, there, and everywhere with one of the Wise Men from her Little People Nativity. This year, in addition to our traditional advent calendar, I picked up one of the coveted David’s Tea 24 Days of Tea sets.

I can’t wait to open the day’s tea and share a cup with Nick and take stock of the day.  I can see why this set sells out year after year (I lucked out in the Chestnut Hill store) and has become a tradition for so many families.  It’s exactly the quiet and slow I’ve been craving.

While on the hunt for the set, I went on a bit of a shopping tea spree (can we make that a thing, or at the very least, a hashtag?).  I picked up a few gifts for family and friends, some loose tea for yours truly aaaaand I also bought something for one of you, too.

David’s Tea giveaway (closed)

One lovely On Tap for Today reader will receive the Healthy Collection from David’s Tea.  Why?  Because I like you all a lot, and want you to stay healthy and enjoy your own slow and quiet holiday season.  This set includes three teas/infusions and ten filters for steeping your loose tea.  To enter, simply leave a comment below and share your favorite holiday tradition.  A random winner will be chosen and notified on Saturday, December 13th.  Thanks for entering!  Megan B. was chosen and has been notified.

Disclaimer: Don’t get it twisted.  This is not a sponsored post.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • New to the calm and serene world of tea drinking?  Here’s a little Tea 101
  • 21 homemade gift ideas from The Kitchn
  • Stay tuned for two more giveaways this week #tistheseason #partyonwayne

What is your favorite holiday tradition?  Are you having a wild or mild December?

Today: Feeding baby, Part I (and a Delta Labs giveaway)

Sort of obvious disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding.  If Google brought you here because you searched for “breasts” and now you’re sorely disappointed and regret clicking through, that’s okay.  You do you, boo… no judgement.  

Slightly less obvious disclaimer: I am not, like, a breastfeeding specialist.  I am grateful to be able to breastfeed my daughter.  It is what I hoped for, and it is what works for our family.  With that said, it is not the only way people care for and feed their children.  And I feel like that’s important to acknowledge.  Something I think all parents need to hear more of: You are doing a good job.  You are making good choices. In other words: You do you, boo… no judgement.  

Real talk of the day: Being a parent means being on a permanent learning curve.  (I guess that’s true for all humans, though, right? Life is one long learning curve.)  Now that we’re past the newborn phase, I figured I’m semi-qualified to share a bit about what I’ve learned along the curve.

I was very fortunate to have access to great lactation consultants when Grace was born.  Expectant mother friends, if you have access to lactation consultants while you’re in the hospital, I think it’s totally worth meeting with them.  I was hesitant, I thought it would be weird, and I kind of just wanted to stay in my Craftmatic adjustable hospital bed.  It wasn’t weird.  It was actually quite, well, normal.  They taught me very helpful things like how to hold my tiny baby like a football (but first, I needed to learn how to hold a football), how to tell if she was actually eating, and what hunger cues might look or sound like.

Someone’s ready for their 22nd meal of the day.

It didn’t long for us to establish a BF relationship (in this case, I like to think BF stands for both breastfeeding and best friends… but I guess that last part is sort of up to Grace).  Because Grace was born with jaundice (I initially thought she was just super Portuguese…) and lost weight rather quickly, our pediatrician encouraged us to feed Grace at least every 2 hours during those first weeks.   Needless to say, by the time she was a month old, I felt like a seasoned BF pro.  I also felt like my bum was permanently attached to the rocker in Grace’s nursery, but hey.

I rarely had time to pump when I was on maternity leave, so when I went back to work, I felt acutely aware of being on that learning curve again.  I stared at the woman on the package of my pumping bra and wondered, Who the H looks that casual and yet perfectly put together while pumping?  Why is there no spit up in her hair?  Why does she look so well rested?  When did she have time to get a manicure?  And those were just my questions about a bra.  You can only imagine the inner monologue about the actual pumping process.

If this is what it looks like to pump “in style,” I can only imagine what the pumping while frumpy version looks like. Also: Thank you, Obamacare.

Eventually, I figured out how often I needed to pump in order to have enough milk for Grace while she is at daycare.  I (mostly) learned how to avoid spilling milk all over myself five minutes before a meeting.  I even managed to pump in an airport bathroom while a work colleague tried to engage in conversation (I have a strict no talking in the ladies’ room policy).

And so, of course, just as soon as started to feel comfortable pumping, it was time to introduce solids.  I think solids warrant a post of their own (Cliffhanger! Just kidding… but seriously… stay tuned.), but I will say this: I was terrified of feeding Grace anything that didn’t, like, come out of my boobs.  Everything new is scary.  It’s been about two months now, though, and our little lady loves to eat.  And we’re having quite a bit of fun with it too.  OK.  But back to best friends breastfeeding.
I am really happy that I was able to exclusively breastfeed Grace until she started solids at approximately 6 months.  (I am still nursing her, but we started supplementing with one bottle of formula a day at 8 months, just a few weeks ago.) I was worried I wouldn’t make it to 3 months, so when we made it 8 months I nearly erected a breast-shaped statue in my own honor.  For the most part, I’ve had a very good supply.  There have been days, though, where I’ve had to pump at home in the early morning or late evening (when I’d much rather be doing, well… anything) in order to have enough milk to send to day care.  Without fail, those have been days when I’ve slacked on water, eaten like a bird, stressed too much, or slept too little.

I am obsessed with Ball jars. Like, I would live in one. If I could fit in there.

Which brings me to this:

How I’ve kept my supply up

  • Drink water.  And then drink some more.: It’s so important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding.  Your body needs fluids to, you know, make fluids… plus it needs fluids to perform its normal functions. In other words, you need to drink more.  I keep a giant mason jar on my desk (complete with an adorable drinking straw #targetdoesitagain) and refill it every time I pump and every time I get up from my desk.  At home, I make sure to drink up after nursing Grace.  It’s helped to associate the two (feed the baby, hydrate thyself).
  • Eat more, not less.: While I’ve felt the same pressure I am sure most new moms have felt to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, restricting calories seems like a surefire way to decrease milk supply.  I’ve tried to focus on eating healthy, quality food, but I am still eating more rather than less.  One day, I’ll fit into my skinnies again.  But in the meantime, I’m busy taking care of my girl.
  • Nurse often.:  We’re fairly scheduled on week days.  We’re like a cellphone plan during nights and weekends, however: unlimited texting and minutes breast milk!  It’s the best.  Come Monday, I definitely see an increase in how much I am able to pump.
  • Think positively.: I find that when I focus on Grace and the health benefits we both receive from breastfeeding, that milk flows like water.  (Or is it wine? How does that saying go?)  When I worry about having enough milk, however, not so much.  I’m no scientist, but I don’t think this is a coincidence.
  • Supplement with herbs.: This may sound a little hippy-dippy, but several people recommended herbal supplements when I first started breastfeeding (the facilitator of our moms’ group swears by fenugreek).  I worried that my supply would drop off when I went back to work and stumbled upon Delta Labs Postnatal formula during some late night Instagramming.

In addition to fenugreek, their postnatal formula also contains glucomannan, white kidney bean, and marshmallow extract (herbs proven to help enhance lactation, and in a combination safe for babies and mothers as determined by the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines). An added bonus: The capsules also contain decaffeinated green tea, CLA, L-Carnitine and vitamin B6 to safely and naturally increase energy and promote weight loss (though it’s not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise… if only obvi).

I’ve used this product for several months (and was running low when Delta Labs kindly sent me a complimentary bottle) and would definitely recommend it for mothers looking to increase or sustain their supply.

Giveaway: Delta Labs Postnatal formula 

Fellow new moms: Would you like to try Delta Labs Postnatal formula for yourself? I’m happy to be hosting a giveaway, thanks to Delta Labs and FitFluential.  One winner will receive a bottle of Delta Labs Postnatal formula.  This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry, neighbors to the North). To enter, please leave a comment below AND Like @DeltaLabsUSA on Instagram.  A random winner will be chosen and contacted on October 20th.

Delta Labs Discount Code 

Use code FitFluential to save $5 on any item from Delta Labs (one time discount; no expiration date).
Also On Tap for Today:

Got BF (best friend or breastfeeding, depending on your area of expertise) advice to share?

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.