Fitness Achievement Unlocked

Happy Friday, folks!

I hope everyone had a great week! This week has been a bit of a mixed bag since Penny is teething like crazy and it’s been really, really tough, but I’m still ending the week feeling really proud of myself. Why? Because for the first time, um, let’s go ahead and say literally ever, I worked out every single day this week! 

Clearly what I need to work on now is not making the same dumb face every time I take a gym selfie hahahahaha

Well, okay, I didn’t go to the gym today as I’m insanely sore (I had my final session with my personal trainer yesterday, and we definitely made sure I went out with a bang, haha!) and definitely need to rest. And I know that for some, 4 days in a row isn’t really anything to write home about. But it is for me! And I’m feeling good about my efforts, as well as about the simple fact that I’ve been prioritizing fitness and turning it into a real part of my life.

From the beginning of my (most recent) health journey, one of my goals has been to make working out part of my weekday routine. I figured that being able to work out every morning would help me in my attempts to create more of a routine, in addition to all of the obvious health benefits. Clearly I’m not quite there yet as right now I still need time to rest and recover (especially when lifting heavy things, like my trainer has taught me to do), but this week gave me a lot of hope that I will be able to get there in the near future!

 

And once I’ve hit that goal and see how it feels, I’ll be able to refine it and determine what really feels best for my body and the lifestyle that I want. Whether that means going to the gym 5 every weekday, switching to every other day (including weekends), mixing in other forms of activity, whatever!

Honestly, I’d love to magically turn into the kind of person who truly loves fitness and looks forward to working out every day, but I’m only halfway there currently, and may never be there fully. I can say I like the way it makes me feel, and some days I even genuinely look forward to working out, but most of the time it’s still a bit of a mental battle. And that’s okay, because I’m coming off of an entire lifetime of loathing exercise. So, I don’t want this all to seem like a big ol’ self-congratulatory shoulder-pat, but honestly I feel like I’m doing pretty well.

 

Anyway, in other news, poor Penny had a really, really tough day yesterday. I think she’s got her first MOLAR coming in (all of her teeth are like, sprouting up in her mouth all at once!), and was absolutely inconsolable when she woke up from her post-daycare nap yesterday afternoon.

Like, screaming, crying, sobbing, arching her back, throwing herself out of my arms… and nothing seemed to comfort her. Not holding her, not putting her down, not giving her pacifier to her, not singing to her, not even giving her a bottle. I just felt SO terrible for her. She was really resistant to taking medicine but I was eventually able to get her to take some Motrin and after it kicked in she did calm down a bit, but it was really rough for a while there.

I didn’t have very high hopes for how the night would go either, but thankfully she seemed to do pretty well. She took over an hour to fall asleep, which is very unlike her, but she seemed to sleep reasonably well and didn’t wake up screaming until like 5 AM — way better than I was expecting! She was able to fall back asleep and dozed on and off until around 7:30 this morning (again, thankfully.)

 

And she seems to be doing better today! Still a little, er, temperamental mood-wise, and her teeth are definitely still bugging her, but she hasn’t had another screaming-crying fit (yet…) so hopefully that means she’s not in as much pain, at least? Guess we’ll see how the rest of today goes…!

And with that, I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 3 (Baptism & Beyond!)

I bet you thought that the neverending tale of Penny’s Birthday Weekend had ended with the conclusion of her birthday party, didn’t ya? Well, you thought WRONG. Because this weekend had one final special family event to give before it would be over, and a doubly-special one at that: Penny’s and her new baby cousin Marjorie’s baptisms!

Hot dang, these family photos just get harder and harder to nail, don’t they? Ahahahahaha.

 

We took full advantage of the fact that my sister and her family were in town for the long weekend and had both babies baptized while they were here. Quite necessary, actually, since my sister and brother-in-law are both Penny’s AND Marnie’s godparents! We couldn’t let the fact that Marjorie and my sister share their birthday pass us by, after all!

I was lucky enough to have an old friend from middle school and a family friend catch some action shots of Penny’s baptism. She was a super wiggly squirmy worm during the church service (which took place exactly during when she would have normally been having her morning nap), but was a total champ as soon as we got up there for her actual christening. You can see me getting choked up (surprise, surprise) in the third picture below, haha:

  

After the service concluded, we headed with some family friends to a different part of the church for a really nice post-baptism brunch that my mom put together. The church even had set up a kid’s table with kid-sized chairs and everything! It was super cute, and Penny looooooved feeling like a big girl next to her cousins (with some bracing from Grandpa for security, hahaha.)

 

There was a spread of mediterranean food, a ham, some mom also got cakes for both Marnie and Penny from Whole Foods — they were so good! Marnie’s was vanilla with strawberries in between the layers of cake, and Penny’s was chocolate. We were able to repurpose a few of the leftover cookies from Penny’s party at the brunch as well, hehe.

 

My family all went back to my parents’ house after brunch and just hung out for the rest of the day (Penny & Alex took some seriously epic naps) and then Sean cooked us all a big Korean feast for dinner that night.

 

I was certainly glad to be able to just chill out and decompress for the rest of the day — all of the emotional and significant events of weekend definitely depleted some of my energy stores. But I rallied enough to head back to Falls Church the following day, since my sister and her family were flying home Monday evening.

  

Rolling 5 adults, 2 kids, and 2 babies deep, we descended upon our favorite sushi restaurant and was finally able to introduce Penny to my favorite food! Even better, she loved it! She ate like 4 entire pieces out of a variety of rolls, tasting a bunch of brand new flavors and textures. I was absolutely thrilled! I know that it’s entirely likely she will end up becoming super picky like most toddlers, but I’m definitely going to take advantage of what a great eater she is for as long as I can!

 

It was so much fun eating out with all the kiddos, but admittedly pretty stressful, too. I was glad that A) we were at a family-friendly place, B) they know us well (we are frequent patrons of Koi Koi, heh) and C) we ate so early that nobody else was there when we got there, because we brought with us not a small amount of chaos. I was totally that mom sweeping up piles of rice and smooshed avocado with my napkin, lol.

 

Finally, after we said goodbye to my sister’s contingent of the family (sniff!), Penny and I headed back home where I finally had to start organizing and cleaning up all of the post-party pandemonium. My entire house had just become like a landing zone for semi-deflated balloons and donut-shaped party paraphernalia. One fun thing we got to do, however, was open up all of Penny’s birthday presents! Our friends were definitely all waaaaaay too generous, and she now has a huge collection of new books, clothes, and toys that will bring her (and her mommy, lol) lots of enjoyment for a loooong time.

 

Multiple folks have advised not to open all of her new toys right away, so as to stretch them out (swapping out toys for new ones to maintain interest and excitement, etc.) So I was actually able to exercise a modicum of uncharacteristic self-restraint here, and have put aside a pile of her new goodies to bring out in the future. Couldn’t resist ripping open a few though, including the Little People Disney Princess Wheelies Castle set that Penny’s Grandma got her though — she loves them and has already figured out that the little cars are supposed to go at the top of the castle! My smart little cookie.

And that really does bring us up to the end of our fantastic, crazy, amazing Labor Day Weekend! And as you can see, labor there was, haha. But it was all 1000% worth it to celebrate our equally fantastic, crazy, amazing little Penny.

Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 2 (Her Party!)

All right, and we’re back! Last we left off, my family and I all had a fun, busy day together for Penny’s birthday last Thursday, and then Friday was spent deep in prep mode for her big birthday bash. Now, most of you are aware, I think, that my job with Yelp involves not a small amount of event planning and hosting. So it should come as no surprise to you that I wanted to put in a, er, bit of effort for Penny’s big bash.

Which, fine, I fully admit was really more of a party for Sean and myself than for her, as she the memory of an canary. And okay, okay, the party wasn’t even really that much for Sean, since he would have probably been happy if we’d hung out in our pajamas, given her a cupcake, and watched Mother Good Club with her for an hour to celebrate. BUT I DIGRESS.

The theme for Penny’s birthday was “Donut Grow Up,” which was incredibly fun and made it entirely too easy for me to go overboard with. Donuts are the new cupcakes, what can I say!?

I tried to infuse some special Penny-related touches wherever I could, including having photos from her donut smash photoshoot on each table, a photo mosaic of all the Outfit of the Day photos I’ve taken of her over the past year as her guestbook, and a fun little game that honored our “Lucky Penny” where guests could take a guess at how many pennies were stuffed inside a big ol’ mason jar (the winner won a donut-shaped pool float).

 

The party was from 3 – 5, so we didn’t serve up a full meal, but had a big spread of various snacks: veggies, popcorn, Pirate’s Booty, watermelon, chicken nuggets (dino shaped ones, natch), spanakopita, cheese & crackers, chips & salsa, and, of course, a kazillion donuts!

I got these cute milk bottles from Oriental Trading Company and dipped the tops in frosting and sprinkles — this was one party prep task that was actually really fun, and that my 5-year-old niece Mia was able to help with, too. 🙂

I ordered savory Everything Bagel donuts from a local company, B Doughnut, and they were absolutely one of the biggest hits of the party! They come stuffed with lox, chives, or bacon, and are amaaaazing.

 

For the sweet donuts & donut holes I just hit up our local Dunkin Donuts, and to complete our offering of “hole foods” (get it?), I also set out some plain Cheerios as well as Kellogg’s Donut Shoppe cereals.

Penny’s smash cake was done by the same lovely bakery that made Sean’s and my wedding cake, Simply Desserts! It was adorable and really tasty — as you’ll see further down in this post, Penny was an extremely dainty cake eater, haha, so I definitely still got to enjoy a slice later.

And finally, I ordered cookies from this fantastic local cookie decorator, Tiny Tudor Cookies, who did the most INCREDIBLE job. She made cookies that said “Penny” and “Donut Grow Up” in a beautiful calligraphy, “1” cookies with icing and sprinkles at the top, donut cookies, and a totally amazing cake-shaped cookie that had a banner on top that said “One.” They were seriously SO beautiful, it was almost a shame to eat them. These were also the favors for guests to take home as they left the party (and luckily I still have several leftover sitting in their packaging for me to lovingly stare at every time I go into the kitchen.)

We held the party at the community center located near my house, so it wasn’t too terrible carting everything over for the party. One of my more brilliant ideas was bringing Penny’s Crawl Around Car and inflatable pool, the latter of which I turned into a small ball pit for the party.

 

It was the best thing EVER! There were a ton of babies and young kids in attendance — this party really highlighted how many mommy friends I have, for which I’m insanely grateful! Between local Facebook groups, the Peanut app (it’s like Tinder for moms!), and just the fact that I’m 30 and am squarely in this season of life, Penny has so many little friends out there. The kiddos all pretty much hung out near the ball pit area, playing and socializing for most of the party. It made me so happy!

 

 

Another fun element was the digital photobooth that my brother was able to set up for us.

And, of course, the main event for the party was our little Princess Penny digging into her cake. Well, okay, she didn’t really dig in as much as kind of, er, delicately nibble. I had to get in there and break a piece of the cake off for her before she really started nomming away, haha.

I also got a little emotional right beforehand (who, me?), as this whole party really did feel like the culmination of what has been the most beautiful and most disruptive year of our lives. Penny turning a year old just felt, you know, significant. And I was really floored by all the love and support I received from all our wonderful friends and family members — throughout the entire year, of course, but in particular during the party.

 

So, yes, Penny’s birthday party was indeed a rousing success! It was really fun and really special and really memorable… and really a LOT of work, haha. There are so many people to thank for helping it all come together, especially my brother-in-law Dan for being the MVP who helped me set up all of the tables and chairs, my siblings and my friend Courtney for helping me decorate, my mom and my friend Ratanak for helping cook and replenish food throughout the party, and all the people who helped clean up, including my Uncle Allan, his girlfriend Lyuba, my cousin Sidney, and our friends Bre & Lance.

I’m really, really glad I did it up big and bold for our gorgeous girl’s first bash, but it’s not something I’m terribly eager to repeat next year, I must admit. We’ll see how I feel a year from now, but at this moment I’m thinking that paying for a play place to let a gaggle of crazy 2-year-olds run around for a couple hours sounds just about right, hahaha.

I know she won’t remember any of this, but I will carry around the memories of this day for the rest of my life. And I like to think about how one day Penny will be able to look back on these great photos that Ben & Taylor took, see how much fun and happiness she inspired, and see how very loved she has always been.

Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 1 (Her Birthday!)

HOLY MOLY. What a weekend!

Between all the fun we had on Penny’s actual birthday, her party, and her baptism the day after that, we really packed a LOT into this Labor Day Weekend, I tell you what. And yes, it probably goes without saying that I am absolutely, thoroughly, completely exhausted. But, it should also go without saying that, yes, it was worth it. My sister and her whole family came into town for the weekend festivities, and we just had a whole lot of awesome family togetherness in celebration of our little Princess Penny.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

On Thursday morning, Sean and I both went in to greet the birthday girl with balloons and lots of cheer. She was definitely thrown off a bit by the morning greeting (normally, Sean has already left at work by the time she wakes up), but got into the spirit very quickly!

I’m so ridiculous, I even made a conscious effort to ensure I was wearing my own donut jammies to match hers. And I’m going to go ahead and say I was approximately 1084% more excited about the fact that it was her birthday than she was… she did like playing with the balloons tho.

 

Sean left for work, and I fed Penny breakfast, got her changed, and then we headed into Falls Church to meet up with the rest of my family (minus my brother-in-law and Mia, who flew in Friday evening because Mia’s in — gasp! — real school now.)

 

Then my dad, my sister, and I (plus Penny, Kira, and Alex) all hopped on the Metro and took a jaunt into the city to visit the National Building Museum! They had a really cool exhibit called Fun House going on this summer (sadly its last day was September 3rd), and it was a total kiddo paradise.

 

Penny and Alex were definitely on the young side to be able to appreciate all of the element of Fun House, but they still had a great time — and Kira had the time of her life!

 

The whole exhibit was kind of like a cool, architectural, playhouse twist on the idea of house and home, with different rooms and different fun spins on the things that exist in a house.

One of the biggest draws of the Fun House exhibit was the giant pool in the “backyard,” which was like 5 feet deep and filled with thousands and thousands of ball pit balls. I tried not to think about all of the thousands of people who had been in that ball pit prior to us, and jumped in with both feet (literally).

 
Instagram vs. Reality

And there’s some kind of metaphor for motherhood here, I can feel it:

 

After our time at the Fun House (which already left me feeling pretty wiped — getting out of an adult-sized ballpit is no small feat!), we had a quick lunch nearby at Bantam King and then headed home.

We got the babies down for an epic nap (and even Kira fell asleep!), hung out for a bit, and eventually saddled everyone up to head back out. This time, to the mall!

Build-A-Bear Workshops has a promotion where if you bring your child in during the month of their birthday, you can pay their age (!) for a special birthday bear! Hey, a $1 bear? Sign me up! My whole family and I (including Ben, Taylor, and Marjorie this time) met up with Sean at Tysons Corner, and then all went together to get Penny’s first Build-A-Bear together! (I think when the whole Powell-Robinson-Fox clan rolled up into the BAB, three strollers deep, I think the girls behind the register got a little panicked, hahahaha.)

 

I was planning on just getting her the plain $1 birthday bear, but Penny’s PoPo (the Chinese term for Maternal Grandmother, pronounced “Paw Paw”) wanted to trick out her bear, so this bear went home with some unicorn jammies and a song inside! Thanks PoPo!

  

Finally, we ended the already epic day with a family dinner at the Nordstrom Cafe, where Penny feasted on a birthday dinner of grilled salmon, green beans, roasted potatoes, and the fluffy insides of all my bread rolls. And we all slept hard that night!

Much of Friday was spent running errands and prepping for the party that would be happening the next day. I was feeling pretty anxious about all the things I wanted to get done, but managed to sneak in a very quick (and lazy, lol) workout at the gym and also slipped away to enjoy a ladies’ night out with my sister and our friends Anne & Lara!

I’d been looking for an occasion to check out Cheesetique’s newest location in Mosaic, and this was the perfect night for it! Four baby-free mamas out on the town? Hot diggity dog! My cocktail & the food we shared (which was like, twice as much as what’s even pictured below, hahahaha) was all excellent — if you’re local and looking for a great spot, I definitely recommend. Get the tot poutine and thank me later!

 

And that brings us up to Saturday which, of course, was party day! But since Penny’s birthday party comes with a whole truckload of photos and details in and of itself, and this post has already turned into quite a lengthy one, I think I’ll save it for tomorrow. Hope everyone has had a somewhat smooth transition back into the week after the long weekend! See you on the flipside!

Starting Solids!

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a great weekend — mine fell 100% into the productive vs. relaxing weekend category, and I’m not mad about it. My lifted mood from last week is still going strong, and is helping me stay motivated in continuing to declutter our home, figure out my schedule, and generally just get my life in order! I feel like I accomplished a ton, from cleaning to childcare to cooking (I’m making a big concentrated effort to plan meals more and eat out less as part of both my weight-related and finance-related goals, lol), and I’m feeling pretty good going into this week.

I was able to check another area off of my KonMari to-do list: my office! As you know, I work from home, which up until this point has meant working from my coffee table because my desk had just become one giant catch-all for random crap. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case anymore, and I can look at my workspace as a place to actually get work done now. Huzzah! Penny is clearly very excited about it:

Okay, okay, maybe her excitement isn’t stemming so much from my recently decluttered office, but the fact that she started solids yesterday!! Upon her pediatrician’s recommendation, she had her very first taste of baby oatmeal yesterday. We followed instructions to mix 1 tbsp of oatmeal with 4 tbsp pumped breastmilk for a super runny consistency since it was her very first time.

And while she was a but confused upon first bite…

 
She ended up getting really into it! She took to the spoon very quickly, didn’t push it out or turn away, and certainly didn’t seem to have any trouble taking her food down.

 
She ate the whole bowl! She really is my child.

Lol, she just looks so satisfied with herself! I’m sensing we’ll also be seeing more baths in her future now that we’ve hit this particular milestone… and not gonna lie, I’m not looking forward to how this is going to change what comes out from the other end now, hahahaha.

But I AM excited to be able to get into making other foods for her now that this went so well! I’ve already got some sweet potatoes, so I think that’ll probably be her first “real” food, as we continue having fun with the baby oatmeal as well (and lowering the ratio of oatmeal:milk as she gets better with the texture.) And from there? Sky’s the limit! It’s a whole new world of flavor and texture out there for Penny now!

What was your baby’s (or your!) first food?

I think mine was bananas. My parents tell me that it was my first word, too! Baby Gretchen must’ve loved her some ‘naners.