Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GMC Terrain Miami Event

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to an event to learn more about child safety, particularly car safety, and the new GMC cross-over vehicle, the Terrain. I was interested in attending because I am very passionate about car safety. I live in South Florida, where we really have a car culture. Mass transit is unreliable and runs on a limited schedule and most people have long commutes to work, riding solo in the car. In addition to that, because of our climate, we have some extra concerns when it comes to keeping our kids safe. We have to worry about pool (and ocean, canal, etc) safety all year round. And the number of kids who die every year in Florida because they’ve been left in the car is mind boggling.

That’s why I was so pleased to learn more about how to keep my toddler safe in the car. The representatives from Safe Kids USA gave us so much information on what kind of car seat to buy (expensive is not better; they all meet the same federal guidelines and standards), how tight the straps should be (forget two fingers worth of space, you shouldn’t be able to get a finger in) and how long you should keep your child rear-facing (as long as possible, people! Up to the max height/weight of your car seat).

We also talked about toy safety, which is timely with the holidays coming up. We learned a neat trick to test whether or not a toy will be a choking hazard for your toddler. If the toy fits through the hole of an empty toilet paper roll, it’s a choking hazard and shouldn’t be given to a child under the age of 3.

As a strong believer in attachment parenting, I was grateful that the Safe Kids reps stressed that you should never use your car seat as a baby-sitter or bed for your baby. Your baby should spend 60 minutes per day, MAX, in the car seat. Of course there are times when you won’t be able to meet that ideal standard, say on road trips, but your baby shouldn’t be left in the car seat for extended periods of time. Babies need to be held and they also need time on the floor to crawl and explore.

After the information session, the ladies from SafeKids checked our car seat, and like most of the population, ours was installed incorrectly. Oops! Thankfully they walked us through proper installation and now our car seat is at one with the car.

We also had the chance to test drive the new GMC Terrain. It’s a nice little cross-over that comes with lots of cool features, like a rear vision camera, standard. It has a ton of room in the back and comes fully loaded for $30,000, including double TV/DVD players built into the headrests. Since we only have one kid, it’s probably more car than we need right now, but would make a great vehicle for a family of four, especially once the kids are older and need to be shuttled off to soccer practice, ballet, etc. The hugest selling point for me, though, was that the car gets 32 MPG. That rivals my compact car! My mom was so impressed she is thinking of leasing one of her own when her current lease is up. Yes, GMC has brought back leasing programs, too!

I had a great time at this event and learned a lot and shared a lot of it with you via my tweets that day. You can search for the Twitter hash tag #GMCTerrainMiami for more information.

Full disclosure: I was not paid to attend this event or to write about it, but I did receive a Sony Webbie as a free gift. Thanks, Sony!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baby Star Nursing Blanket Review/Giveaway

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know how I've felt about nursing covers. For a very long time, I was very against the use of nursing covers. I didn't like the message they sent and I felt like in order to normalize breastfeeding, moms needed to ditch the covers. However, I do understand that many moms are more modest than I am and for some, nursing in public would not be possible without some sort of cover up. I want moms to be comfortable and I want them to breastfeed, so if you need a cover to do that, by all means cover up! Whatever it takes to get moms and babies nursing, I'm all for it!

I'll be honest, though, I still find those apron-like nursing covers to be hideous. I considered using a blanket to cover up while latching my son on, but living in South Florida, I never wanted to be under a blanket, let alone put my baby under one! That's why when Baby Star sent me their Star Nursing Blanket to review, I was thrilled at how lightweight it was.

The blanket is 27.5" x 27.5" so it's quite large, perfect for post-partum moms or those who are plus size. The outer shell is 100% cotton and the fuzzy lining is soft polyester. That star up in the corner helps to weight the blanket. Throw it over your shoulder and it helps anchor the blanket in place. This comes in handy with the baby who likes to pull at the blanket and will do his or her best to expose mom while breastfeeding(like my son did)! The star could also be given to the baby to chew on or play with.

Even if you're not breastfeeding, it's always nice to have a lightweight blanket that you can throw over a car seat to block out the sun, use as a changing pad for impromptu diaper changes, cover baby in a cold restaurant, etc. This blanket folds up easily into a compact little square that can be tossed in a diaper bag and not take up much room. I think this blanket is an ideal solution for the modest nursing mom who prefers to be covered when breastfeeding in public. I love that it's machine washable and comes in a variety of patterns and colors to fit every taste. I really like this blanket and think it would make a great gift this holiday season for the new mom or mom-to-be in your life.

Want to buy one for yourself? Use code 20twinkle09 to save 30% off any purchase at Baby Star until 12/31/09.

Want to win one? Baby Star was kind enough to offer a nursing blanket to one of my readers, in the fabric of your choice. For a chance to win, simply visit Baby Star and leave a comment with your favorite Baby Star item.

You can get extra entries by doing the following (please leave a SEPARATE comment for each):

  • Sign up for the Baby Star newsletter (leave your email address in the comment)
  • Follow @babystars on Twitter
  • Follow @blacktating on Twitter
  • Join the Baby Star fan club on Facebook
  • Twitter about this giveaway (leave a link to your tweet)
  • Blog about this giveaway (leave a link to your blog post)
That is 7 possible entries per person! This giveaway is open to residents of the US age 18 and over only. The contest will run until Friday, December 11th at 11:59 PM. Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good luck!

CLOSED- Congratulations, Xenia!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?


How did you feel when you were pregnant? Did you have "the glow" and feel sexy and powerful and more womanly than ever? Or did you feel like you were huge, a fat, unattractive blob, a whale, a submarine, etc? I had a very easy pregnancy and for the most part, I enjoyed being pregnant. The first time I went into my closet and didn't fit into any of my clothes, I had a mini breakdown and crumbled to the floor crying. I knew I would gain weight and I thought I was mentally prepared, but to no longer be able to wear anything in my wardrobe WEEKS before the books said this would happen was demoralizing. I felt like I was a pig and already "letting myself go" before the baby even got here. As the weeks went on and I got bigger and bigger, I did embrace my pregnant body....until I got stretch marks at week 39. I was so disappointed in myself. I had managed to get through almost the entire pregnancy without them and now I was scarred for life. And since my pregnancy went to 42 weeks plus, they only got worse as the days went by.

Of course my experience and the range of emotions that came with it are not unique to me. Pregnant women the world over (and particularly in the US, I'm sure) experience body & self-esteem issues. These don't end with the pregnancy, when women are then expected to drop the baby weight quickly and look like they never were pregnant at all. There's so much unrealistic pressure on women to always look good and be thin and it seems to get even worse after pregnancy.

That's why I loved the new book Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? by Claire Mysko and Magali Amadei (full disclosure: I was interviewed by Claire and my quotes appear in the book and my blog, Blacktating, is listed as a resource for breastfeeding information). Claire, a beauty activist, and Magali, a former model and ED sufferer) interviewed over 400 women and men about the effects of pregnancy and motherhood on a woman's body and self-esteem. The book aims to show:

- How you can learn to trust your changing body, appreciate it, and yes…even work it!
- Why you should be wary of the Hollywood "bump watch" and post-baby weight loss stories– and how to take the focus off the scale
- How to deal with your raging hormones—in the bedroom and beyond
- How to recognize when your body issues get extreme—and how to get help

I was sent an Advanced Readers Copy to review and I really enjoyed the book. I saw myself in so much of the anecdotes in the book, particularly with regard to weight gain. I'm still working on losing the baby weight and my self-esteem and this book was a welcome reality check for me.

I'm pleased to offer a copy of the book to one of my readers. Simply leave me a comment telling me why you'd like the book.

I'll draw a winner using next Wednesday, November 18th at 11:59 PM EST. Contest is open to residents of US & Canada. The winner will be emailed and posted here and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Please be sure to leave me a way to contact you.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yummie Tummie Review/ $100 GC Giveaway!


Back in July, I was watching the #blogher09 Twitter stream with a mix of interest and jealousy. I was kicking myself for not getting it together in time to attend BlogHer, the blogging conference for women. I noticed that tons of bloggers were raving about a brand of shapewear called Yummie Tummie. I had heard of the brand before and had actually entered a giveaway to win one. I really wanted to try it out, but I’m a bit leery of buying shapewear. Since giving birth to my son in ’07, I’ve tried tons of brands of girdles and body shapers and all of them were so uncomfortable. I’ve never managed to make it more than a couple of hours in one and so saved them for occasions when I wanted to look pulled in and was willing to suffer. However, all of the women bloggers were saying Yummie Tummie isn’t like that, it’s actually comfortable! I was dubious, but then when they tweeted a coupon code good for 50% off any purchase, I knew I needed to jump on that deal, so I ordered two strappy tanks, in black and brown leopard. (Full disclosure: Although I bought two Yummie Tummies with my own money, I did receive one for free at Blogalicious).

I am thrilled to report that the Yummie Tummie really does hold you in, give you a nice smooth silhouette and it’s NOT PAINFUL. I ordered a size L and a size M and both are comfortable, although the M is a bit more snug and I have to work a little harder to shimmy into it. I wear my Yummie Tummies every day to work and sometimes I’ll even run errands in my tank and a pair of jeans. The Yummie Tummie comes in plus size and long length. Although I’m short, I like the longer length because it goes down over my butt and the tank can be tucked into my pants. That way, I don’t have to worry about the Yummie Tummie creeping up.

I am so excited to be able to offer my readers a $100 gift card to Yummie Tummie to spend on whatever you’d like! Yummie Tummie does offer a tank specifically designed for post-partum nursing moms. This tank features a top that wicks away moisture to keep you dry and snaps down for easy access. While I’ve never tried the nursing tank, I have been assured that Heather Thomson designed this top specifically to be supportive, comfortable and appropriate for nursing moms. That means a soft cotton bra top, no underwire, and snap down bra panels designed for comfort and modesty. The nursing tank was designed to be used immediately post-partum. It's up to every woman to decide what feels comfortable, but my guess would be you may want to order a size up if you’re between sizes so the top is not too constricting across your breasts.

Now here are the giveaway rules: To enter, please leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win the Yummie Tummie. Since this is a biggie, I’m going to offer FOUR extra entries. You get an extra entry for

*Following me on Twitter (I’m @blacktating)

*Tweeting about the giveaway

*Blogging about the giveaway

*Becoming a fan of Blacktating on Facebook

So that is up to FIVE entries per person. Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each of your entries and a link when applicable. Also, please be sure to leave me a valid email address in your comment if it’s not public on your Google profile. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pick a second winner because I had no way to contact the first person.

Giveaway ends on November 3 at 11:59 PM eastern time. Winner will be contacted via email and posted on the blog and will have 48 hours to respond before forfeiting the prize to another winner. Good luck!

Congratulations, Dee! You won the $100 gift card to Yummie Tummie!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Giveaway: $25 giftcard to Tiny Prints

As you may know, I recently attended Blogalicious, the first conference for women of color bloggers. I had an amazing time and met some great women and received some great gifts. I got more swag than I could ever make use of myself, so I am pleased to be able to give away some fun stuff to my wonderful readers. First up is a $25 gift card to TinyPrints, the company that creates those adorable birth announcements, chic invitations for all occasions and now business cards, courtesy of the Clever Girls Collective! No matter what you're celebrating (a wedding, graduation, new baby, engagement, anniversary, Bar Mitzvah, etc) Tiny Prints has a card or invitation that is perfect for the occasion.

To win the gift certificate, simply leave me a comment here with the type of card you'd order with the $25 if you win. Want some extra entries? Follow me on Twitter, tweet about this contest, or become a fan of the Blacktating Blog on Facebook. That's a total of 4 entries per person, so please be sure to leave a separate comment for each of your entries.

Contest is open to residents of the US & Canada, 18 and older. Contest ends on Friday, October 23rd at midnight EST. Winner will be contacted via email and posted on the blog and will have 48 hours to respond before forfeiting the prize to another winner. Good luck!

Congratulations to entry #25, Xenia! You are the winner of the gift card!

Review: Tummy Tankz

I was recently sent a Tummy Tank maternity belly band to review on the blog. No, I don't have anything to tell you guys. I'm not expecting. But that's what makes this company and this product so unique: it's a belly band that can be used by pregnant women, nursing moms and those confident enough to rock a tube top. It's just a small bit of fabric, but it's so versatile. It's a nylon, spandex blend so it feels silky and stretches by 75% of its original size.

Photo by Lynn Dao

So how many different ways can you use Tummy Tankz? While pregnant, you can wear it at the hips to hide your unbuttoned pants or use for layering with tops. It's great for nursing. Wear it under your breasts and you can lift your shirt up, latch your baby on, and your tummy will be covered by the Tummy Tank while your baby covers your breast. Voila, no need for a silly nursing cover! And if you're bold enough, you can wear it as a tube top for a sexy look, or under a blazer with jeans. I personally wouldn't go around exposing my belly, but if you're a hot mama with the confidence, go for it!

What I Liked About The Product
First, this is a product created by a mom, for moms, and I love supporting women who've started their own businesses. I also love that the product can be used for years for many purposes, and that it can help women feel more confident nursing in public. The fact that this product is marketed as an alternative to impersonal nursing covers makes me giddy. AND it comes in plus sizes, so it can work for moms of all shapes and sizes. And you really can't beat the price: for $16.95 you're getting 3 products in one!

What I Didn't Like
There's not much to dislike about the Tummy Tank. Although I'm not pregnant, my Tummy Tank stretched nicely when I put it on, so I imagine it would grow with you during pregnancy. It was WAY too sexy for me to wear as a top alone, but I have pretty conservative taste in clothing. The size chart was accurate and I was pleased with the fit. The only thing I wasn't crazy about were the patterns available. I'd probably choose a neutral color like white or black, but I was sent the "patchwork" and wasn't crazy about the way the fabric looked when it arrived. I'd stick to the plain colors.

Want your own Tummy Tank? Order one here today for $16.95. Look out for deals on Tummy Tankz by following them on Twitter.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review: Capri Nursing PJs

Judy from A Mother's Boutique was kind enough to send me a pair of capri pant nursing PJs to review on the blog. The pajamas are made by Annee Matthew and retail for $65 at A Mother's Boutique.

As you can see, the pajamas come with a tank style top that has adjustable bra-like straps and a clasp that unhooks like a regular nursing bra. There is no underwire, but there is an elastic built-in shelf that provides some support. The bottoms are capri-length pants with an elastic waistband. When I looked at the sizing of the PJs, I wasn't sure what to order. I wear a size 12 so I was torn between ordering a Medium and a Large. I decided to go with the Large because I figured since these are pajamas (and knowing me, they would end up doubling as lounge wear), I'd rather have them be roomy than snug. When the pajamas arrived and I slipped them on, I found the top was a bit too big. Although I am at DD status due to nursing, there was still plenty of room for extra boobage, although it fit fine across my ample tummy. I adjusted the straps to as tight as they would go and I still had room. However, the pants fit well. I am curvy so I have wider hips and a big behind, so I think a Medium would have been tight on my tush and squished my stomach. No one wants a waistband that's so tight it leaves marks on your skin, particularly post-partum when your stomach is still mushy or you have a sensitive C-section scar.

What I Liked
  • These PJs are super comfy! The cotton spandex blend was very soft against my skin and had plenty of stretch to move with me.
  • Stylish. These pajamas easily double as lounge wear so mom won't feel like a total schlub if she lives in them for a couple of days while caring for a new baby.
  • Thickness. These PJs are nice and thick and not see-thru. I find a lot of times pajamas are so thin you feel indecent wearing them in front of other people. New moms get a lot of visitors, sometimes unannounced and unexpected. You wouldn't feel too exposed in these PJs.
  • Easy to open clasp on the straps! I was able to unhook one-handed and while half-asleep.

What I Didn't Like
  • Sizing. There was no size chart available to give me a hint as to what size to order and since these are two separate pieces, it would've been nice to be able to order them mix & match. I probably could've used a Medium in the top and definitely needed a Large in the bottoms.
  • These are only available in black and navy. It would be nice if they were available in some other colors and prints.
The Verdict

At $65 the pajamas are pricey, but if you wear them through pregnancy and while nursing and use them for more than one baby, they are well worth the price. They are extremely comfortable and soft and I felt they were flattering. I wore them several times and they came out of the wash even softer. I am finding myself reaching for these pajamas every single night. Although my son now sleeps through the night, I wear these to nurse him before bed and in the morning.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Review & Sweepstakes: Bravado Nursing Bra

Can I be honest with you guys and let you in on a secret? Sometimes I am a really big cheapskate. Now, I think I'm a generous person and I like to splurge from time to time, but I find it hard to justify spending a lot on certain items, like shoes, purses, bras, manicures. I will drop $100 on a sushi dinner without batting an eyelash, but never invested in quality nursing bras. I know, it makes no sense, and maybe if I'd known how long I'd be nursing or just how much time I'd be spending in nursing bras, I wouldn't have been so cheap about it.

Luckily for me, Bravado Designs offered to send me a nursing bra to review on the blog. When I told them that I'd love to because I STILL live in my nursing bras 19 months after having my son, they suggested I try out their Body Silk Seamless nursing bra.

What can I say about this bra? I put it on and was immediately in heaven. I think it is no exaggeration to say that this bra is life changing. It's silky, smooth and soft. It's the most comfortable bra I've ever worn, period. It offers support and shaping, without digging. There is no hard, painful under wire, yet the bra lifts your breasts perfectly back to their pre-pregnancy location. I wore it to sleep and it didn't even feel like I had a bra on at all. I strutted around the house with it on and kept admiring myself in the mirror so much that my husband was laughing at me! It's just that my breasts have never looked so good in a bra and it totally changed my silhouette in my clothes as well. I ordered a size Large and it fits perfectly, yet there is enough room that I know that when I have Baby No. 2 and my breasts are once again engorged and much fuller with milk, that the bra will still fit great. The bra also came with two foam cups that can be used to hide your breast pads, but that are removable for when you no longer need them.

I am kicking myself in the butt for not getting a Bravado bra from day one. If you are pregnant or nursing, treat yourself to one NOW. You deserve and need this bra. If you have a girlfriend who is pregnant, this bra would make a wonderful shower gift (the sizing method makes it really easy to guess what size she'd need).

For a limited time, use coupon code CSR-155 for 20% off your order at Bravado. Bravado has also set up a Sweepstakes for my readers! Enter here for the opportunity to win an entire wardrobe by Bravado Designs (my Canada peeps should click here). The Sweepstakes bounty includes an Original Nursing Bra, a Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra, a Lifestyle Microfiber Nursing Bra and an Essential Nursing Bra Tank, a $160 value, yours for free!

OK, this cheapskate is off to order more bras! Whoulda thunk it?

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