Penny Takes Flight: Flying with an Infant

Hi there, folks! Penny and I just got back from Atlanta after great visit with my sister, her hubs, and their littles!

 
 
I gotta say, nothing really puts the struggles of mothering one baby into perspective like visiting a household with a baby PLUS a four-year-old AND two-year-old. My sister = #supermom for REAL.

Mia and Kira were soooo sweet with Penny, and I loved getting to see my new nephew Alex again — he’s already changed so much since he was up here with Jenny last month! He’s just three and a half weeks older than Penny, so it’s really cool getting to see a little glimpse into her developmental future.

 
I had a wonderful time visiting, as I always do (if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you probably know that my sister and I visit each other A LOT), but this trip obviously was a smidgen more stressful this time due to it being the first time I was traveling with, y’know, my new baby. Sean had to work as he sadly used up most of his PTO when Penny was born, so I was also flying solo (pun intended).

But I’m happy to report that we successfully survived both the flight there and back! We flew Southwest from DCA to ATL, and the process was pretty painless all the way through. Getting Penelope on my itinerary was super easy, I just called Southwest a couple days before our flight and they added her to my ticket as a lap infant.

Then, at the airport I just had to go to the ticket counter where they issued her a Boarding Verification Document — kind of like her very own boarding pass, hehe.

Everything from there on out was business as normal! Those of you who have flown Southwest before know that there are no assigned seats, just a boarding group order (A, B, or C) that’s determined when you check-in for your flight. I didn’t want to worry about having to check in exactly 24 hours before my flight, so I paid for Early Bird checkin (guarantees you an A group spot). In retrospect, however, I realize that I’m now able to do family boarding (in between A & B groups) so I won’t have to worry about checking in on time again for like the next 6 years! Gahahaha.

We sat in the window and lucked out with an empty middle seat on both flights (funny how holding up your baby makes people less inclined to sit with you, hahahaha. Penny did ooookay on the flight down to Atlanta — she didn’t fall asleep until a little after halfway through the flight and was a smidgen fussy, so I tried to nurse her on the plane but got really flustered (I still haven’t really mastered nursing in public and planes make for especially tight quarters.) But once she fell asleep she was out for the count (huzzah!), and fortunately even when she was fussing, her little cries were drowned out by the plane noise. The people seated behind us said they didn’t even realize there was a baby in front of them when we landed, hehe.

On the flight back home, she slept pretty much the entire time which was awesome. All in all, two successful flights — one slightly more successful than the other, hehe.

And now that I’ve gone through the process of traveling with an infant, I definitely feel way more confident about doing it more in the future. Sean and I are going to Texas to see his family for Thanksgiving, and even though the flight will be twice as long, it’s going to be twice as easy because just having an extra set of hands is going to be sooooooo helpful. The hardest part about flying with Penny by myself really wasn’t the actual flight, it was more getting through the airport and security and whatnot. It was kind of a challenge juggling her while breaking down the stroller + carseat at security and then again on the gangplank (to gate check them.)

I did bring my Baby K’Tan carrier and found it super helpful. It’s kind of like the cheater’s version of a baby sling/wrap — it’s made of two loops and you can kind of wear it like an infinity scarf when you’re not using it, making it incredibly convenient to travel with! I was able to pop her into it while waiting in line on the gangplank, which freed up my hands to deal with the stroller and carseat once I got to the plane door. Also if you don’t already have a backpack style diaper bag, I highly recommend getting one (I have the Ju-Ju-Be BFF, a gift from my amazing friend Jackie), as just having your hands free as much as possible is what you wanna go for if you’re traveling alone.

My other rather obvious tip is that you’re going to want to give yourself plenty of extra time at the airport. Depending on which airports you’re flying in/out of, you might be able to use the stroller lane to get through security more quickly (ATL offers this), but time still goes by crazy fast when you’re taking your baby in and out of her carseat, changing diapers, and waiting for the big stall to open up in the bathroom — not to mention if you’ve got to feed baby before takeoff!

 

Some of my other travel tips include:

  • Bring extra pacifiers — In a hilarious turn of events that would probably only happen to me, I dropped two of her pacifiers on the airplane floor in the span of like 3 minutes. Airplane floor + baby’s mouth = not gonna happen so I was really glad that I had so many extras.

  • Bring one or two little bottles of ready-made formula for emergencies. As mentioned, I nursed her on the flight there and nursed her in the airport before flying home, but snagged a couple 2oz bottles of ready-to-go formula just in case things had gotten hairy while on the plane. I ended up using one when she got hangry as we were waiting for Sean to pick us up from the airport.
  • Wear something with pockets – I can’t tell you how many times my phone slid off of my legs when I shifted Penny on my lap. Luckily I had very understanding people sitting in the aisle seat that kept picking it up for me, but just one flipping pocket would have made a world of difference, hahaha.
  • Get a PopSocket for your phone. Not only will it make your phone easier to hold (thus lessening the likelihood of dropping said phone on your child NOT THAT I’VE EVER DONE THAT) but you’ll be able to take all the unabashed sleeping-baby-plane-selfies your heart desires.
  • Bring a portable phone charger as well, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll put your diaper bag juuuuuust far enough under the seat that you’re unable to reach it once baby falls asleep, and all you’ll have within reach is your phone. So your only entertainment options during the flight are to browse social media thanks to Southwest’s $8 wifi, or stare at the back of the seat in front of you.

So yeah, I’d say that Penny’s jetsetting life is off to a good start! If you have any questions about my experience traveling with a baby, lay ’em on me — I’m sure I left tons out, heh. And until next time…!

Foxlet: Week 28

Why hello there, third trimester — officially! I am now in week 28, and Sean and I got to spend this past weekend enjoying our little family of 2.5 out on our babymoon!

We drove out to the Shenandoah Valley and spent a long weekend at a gorgeous B&B, Glen Gordon Manor. The manor and grounds were so idyllic, with sprawling fields and gorgeous greenery, plus lots of animals living on the land. There were horses, as well as chickens who were right outside our room — it made me so happy seeing them chase bugs through the grass and roam around all fancy-free.

Glen Gordon is only about a 1.5 hour drive from where we live, so it was a super easy trip there and back. We wanted to stay relatively close to home since A) I am really uncomfortable flying these days, and B) so Sean wouldn’t have to take too much PTO, as he’s saving it for when Foxlet get here (he only gets 3 days of actual paternity leave from his company — womp womp). It worked out to be the perfect, relaxing mini-vacation we needed!

Glen Gordon Manor is owned and run by Chef Dayn Smith, and we got to enjoy an incredible feast each morning at breakfast, as well as dinner on the first evening. Everything was super seasonal, hyper-local (they harvest honey from their own honeybees, grow their own herbs, and use the eggs laid by their own chickens!), and crazy delicious. The chef even took the time to make a few adjustments to my dinner (it’s a prix fixe menu) because I’m preggo.

After we got to enjoy more deliciousness for breakfast the next morning, we got a couple’s massage, and then hopped in the car and drove down Skyline Drive into Shenandoah National Park. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, considering I went to JMU for college right in the Shenandoah Valley, but I had never actually driven down Skyline Drive. Crazy, right?

I thought it was going to be rainy all weekend, but the weather ended up being amazing — the overlook views were so gorgeous!

I’m admittedly not much of a “nature” gal, but I can appreciate a great view. And hey, getting to take in the sights in between jaunts in the comfort of an air-conditioned car was juuuust fine with me.

Can you believe they’re just letting these two weirdos be parents? 😉

Foxlet’s Size: At 28 weeks, Foxlet weighs around 2 1/4 pounds and is the size of an eggplant!

Weight: Holding steady this week at around the same weight as last week.

Symptoms: Ahhh, the lovely physical ailments I’m dealing with this week include my ever-persistent and ever-pleasant heartburn and SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction), as well as breast pain, tailbone pain, and headaches. Hurrah! But, lest it sound like I’m always complaining (which, I know, I am), there really is good stuff too. I feel her kick and move around aaaaaall the time, and am feeling bonded with this little life inside of me. I’ve got that nesting switch flipped for sure, and am certainly happy a lot. It’s just sometimes hard to focus on the good stuff amongst the bad, more painful stuff, that’s all.

Emotions: Guess who cries 2-8 times daily? This gal! Guess who is surprised by this news? Nobody! Aside from constantly having to redo my eye makeup though, my spirits have been pretty high! I’m getting really excited for all the “real” stuff we’ll get to do now that we’re in the third trimester — birth class, hospital tour, baby shower, nursery completion, and more.

Cravings/Aversions: I’ve been continuing to crave veggies, big salads, and fresh fruit — even more than usual, even. Asparagus, romaine lettuce, grapes, mango, and mandarin oranges in particular are my jam. No aversions, other than my lack-of-nighttime-appetite showing up again this week and making me super indecisive about what I want to eat.

Sleep: Sleeping at the B&B was a little bit challenging because I wasn’t armed with my arsenal of pillows that I surround myself with each night (I brought my little wedge pillow with me, but that was it.) Sleep continues to be challenging just because it takes me so long to get comfortable each night… only to finally get settled and then have to get back up because I need to go to the bathroom, or I forgot to put in my retainer, or what have you.

Purchases: Ummmm sooooooo, despite what I said about trying to be really good about not buying new stuff for myself before my baby shower, I toooooootally picked up more stuff for the nursery. I just couldn’t help it! I went into Target for some Zantac and walked out with a new comforter for the guest bed, a cloud bookshelf, and stuffed unicorn head. Hehe.

Looking forward to… my baby shower this weekend!!

NOT looking forward to… my 3-hour glucose test, which is probably well-underway as you read this. Bleh. Send good thoughts my way, and keep your fingers crossed that the phlebotomist doesn’t leave me looking like a heroin addict after all my blood draws… and also that I don’t have gestational diabetes if, y’know, at all possible.

Where to Start?

Wow, you know it’s been a minute since you’ve contributed to your blog when you have to remember the URL to get to the login page because it doesn’t pop up in your browser history’s autocomplete bar. To be honest, I don’t think I even cognitively realized just how long it had really been, you know? I mean, with the loss of my friend, and then my grandmother, blogging just didn’t seem “right” for a while. And then life just kept truckin’ along, and before you know it, here we are! December. Crazy.

So the reality is, I don’t even know where to begin with this post. It doesn’t really feel productive to spend a ton of time covering what’s been going on during last 6 months of my life because A) there’s not really all that much to report, B) if you follow me on social media in some form or another, you probably already know a lot of it, and C) I am too lazy to try to remember it all. But, it would feel weird not at least touching on where I’m at in, like, my life, sooooooo… I’ll try to make it brief.

Work: Yelp stuff is still going awesomely. I’m a little bit past 3.5 years at Yelp, and in July I was promoted to the role of Community Director. I am, it might go without saying, still loving my job, having a great time hosting events, working with local businesses, and championing my community. I also have the best #worksquad a girl could ask for. In August, I threw my 3rd huge Yelper Party event, and also attended CM Week at Yelp’s HQ in San Francisco for the 3rd year.

 

Family: Even though 2016 has been the year of some seriously crappy stuff, it will still be remembered as an amazing year in the grand scheme of my life, since it started off with me gettin’ hitched! Sean and my first year as newlyweds has been wonderful, and we haven’t threatened to divorce each other even once.

 

My nieces are still awesome, and my family and I are just as weirdly close as ever. In early November, my sister, my parents, and I went to New York and my dreams came true because I finally got to see HAMILTON (in short: I cried like six…ty times, it was NOT overhyped despite how much I built it up in my head, it was everything and more):

 

And later in November (lol), the whole fam (minus Sean, who had to work), went to Orlando for a big family vaycay. Which meant I got to return to the Happiest Place on Earth (for Gretchen), Harry Potter World, and also, the Happiest Place on Earth (for Other People), Disneyworld:

 

My trip back to Diagon Alley went really well with my latest tattoo, too:

And, finally, my dogs are still my wonderful, weird, bearded children:

Does that pretty much cover all the bases? I think so, right? Eh, if there’s anything I’m forgetting… I probably will never remember it. But! It should at least bring us up to the present, wherein I am actually trying to get back to updating this thing on the reg. But, for once, I’m not going to make any grand, sweeping declarations like, “I’m returning to my roots!” and “I’m getting back on the blog wagon!” because those will surely backfire and leave me eating my words. Instead, I’ll just be honest and say this:

My life has gotten pretty great. I have a loving husband, a home of my own, furchildren, an awesome family, a job that I am legitimately still obsessed with, and the freedom to continue to dye my hair any color I want with impunity (it even recently got featured in a Buzzfeed listicle, so, y’know, #lifegoalscomplete). I’m also, obviously, extremely humble.

But I must admit, if anything has been missing over the past, I dunno, few months… a year… or two… it’s that I’ve stopped writing.

I’ve basically stopped writing here on this blog, I’ve stopped writing creatively, and I think that I’ve been keeping myself busy enough that I haven’t had to think about it. It’s just so easy to put family, friends, work, holidays, trips, obsessively singing the soundtrack to Moana, binge-watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and playing Final Fantasy XV nonstop for 3 straight days first. But I miss writing, I do, and I want to… stop… missing it. (Hmm, my skills may have already deteriorated.)

So, whether I start posting here regularly again, or whether I find the motivation to finally frickin’ finish the sequel to Terra (I know, I know…), or whether I just find myself coming back to my words a little more often, I’d like to write more. And I’m going to try to do just that.

And with that said, hopefully, you’ll see me back here in these parts very soon. Although, based on recent precedence, if I make it back for another post before… uh… April… I’ll already have outdone myself. I do love setting that bar loooooow. 😉

 

Adios, Playa Mujeres! (Weigh-in #4)

I’m back from Mexico, and, miraculously, I managed to get a significant (for me) tan and an insignificant (also for me) number of mosquito bites. Huzzah!

As I think I mentioned, Sean and I headed to Playa Mujeres this past weekend to celebrate two of my wonderful friends getting married. This was my first destination wedding, and it was a ton of fun! It also helped that my brother and sister-in-law were the wedding photographers, so it was like a family vacation wrapped up in a friend vacation wrapped up in a wedding celebration. So, pretty much all of my favorite things combination!

My friendship journey with Kim and Jon has been such a testament to how many wonderful changes came about from me changing careers and starting to work at Yelp. See, I met Kim at one of my very first Yelp events. You know that feeling of just straight-up clicking with someone when you first meet them? Well, that was how it was. Kim has such a warm, friendly, and welcoming spirit, I knew I wanted to be friends IRL right away. And when I met Jon a few weeks later, it was the same thing. They’re such fantastic people, both individually and together, and it was such a delight to get to see these two lovebirds tie the knot.

Speaking of tying the knot, attending this wedding also did great things for my own post-wedding sanity. It showed me that whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Mexico or a winter wedding in Alexandria, Mother Nature’s gonna show up to crap all over you and things are going to go wrong. So while I feel for Kimmy that it poured cats and dogs on her wedding day, it really did provide me with a little bit of peace with regard to my own blizzard wedding, hahaha.

Either way, we still had a great time celebrating with the bride and groom. This was the first destination wedding that I’ve ever attended, and I gotta say, I definitely get the appeal. In addition to the vacation life that attending a destination wedding pretty much comes with, it was also just really nice to be able to meet and get to know so many of the wedding guests before the big day!

The resort that we stayed at (Finest Playa Mujeres) probably deserves an entire post to describe my, well, complicated feelings towards it, and I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on all-inclusive resorts after this (my first) experience. The short version of the story is that the resort was beautiful and very clean and the staff was like 95% wonderful, but the food was legitimately terrible and Taylor and I both came home to find out that staff stole money from our wallets in our rooms. But! Overall we still had a good time celebrating with friends (and making new ones!) and genuinely could not be more thrilled for the new Mr. & Mrs. 🙂

I guess the good thing about the food being awful is that, despite being at an all-inclusive (and, therefore, all-you-can-eat) resort, I barely gained weight while being away! So, I’m still pretty much sitting at my pre-Savannah weight, but here’s my official post-vacation weigh-in for those of you who are keeping track.

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.8 lbs
Current Weight: 241.9
Difference: +.1 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.3 lbs

Between all the traveling and vacationing and ignoring MyFitnessPal over the past few weeks, I’m honestly not feeling discouraged right now. In the past, a few weeks of non-losses like this would have likely sent me into a shame spiral about not doing enough, not doing it fast enough, etc. But if anything, it’s actually been encouraging that all I’m dealing with is a couple of ounces here or there (which, frankly, if it’s less than half a pound, I’m barely counting it anyway.) Either way, now that I’ve returned home, I’ll be getting back into a regular schedule and be able to start whittling myself down again. Onward!

Georgia on my Mind

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Where to begin? I definitely didn’t mean to take such a long hiatus so soon after making my triumphant blogging return, but, hey, what can I say? Life happens, yo. And has it ever been happening over the past couple of weeks!

For a large chunk of the time I’ve been away from you guys, I was back in Georgia for a dual-purposed trip. The main purpose was work-related, as my duties with Yelp called me back to beautiful Savannah (my life is so hard, I know.) I was there for an event organized by the Community Ambassador there (whom I advise as part of my role here in Northern VA.)

The other purpose, as you can see, was to see my sister, brother-in-law and super cute nieces, who all currently live in Macon (but who are moving north of Atlanta in just a few weeks.) Macon is essentially on the way from Atlanta to Savannah, so it really works out that my job sends me that way a few times each year. It was particularly great fun that this event was family-friendly, so I got to drag the whole family along, hehe.

Mia was our unofficial Yelp brand ambassador for the day. 😉

We got to see the Savannah sights as part of the event, which involved a pedicab (rickshaw) tour around the historic downtown area, and then lunch at an awesome local restaurant. Actually, the trip in generally involved not a small amount of food at various awesome local restaurants. Savannah really is a food-lover’s paradise… though, granted, it does make a pesky thing like losing weight just a tad challenging, heh.

Okay, so I didn’t eat “well” while I was there, but damn did I eat gooooooood. Alas, I feared this did not bold well for my return to the scale upon my, er, return to my house. So imagine my shock when said scale revealed I did not gain any weight during my trip! Miracle!

Sure, I also didn’t lose any weight, but hey, when there are waffle fry nachos in the mix, you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll take what I can get.

I pretty much credit this to Jenny’s healthy influence whenever I visit her. We may have all indulged a bit while in Savannah, but during the Macon-portion of the trip, I was relatively self-controlled AND my fitness instructor sister also dragged my lazy butt to the gym 3 out of the 4 days I was there.

 
Alas, if only Jenny lived up here and could physically force me to sweat on the daily. I’d be hitting my goals like ka-POW! Oh well, guess I’ll just have to keep whining about how much I hate working out to you guys instead. 😉

Anyway, along with all the eating and sweating and plotting to kidnap cuddling with my nieces, I also got just enough pool time in to take my new ‘kini for a test drive (it’s from Swimsuits For All), as well as get a nice light dusting of sunburn.

  
Sadly, no matter how much sunscreen I apply nor how religiously I reapply it, I always seem to get at least a little bit burnt. I guess I’m just that white, sigh. Luckily (?), my burn always fades into a tan, so I look slightly less ghost-like than I did before I headed to Georgia. This is important, since I’m headed to Mexicooooooo on Friday! And I don’t know about you, but I’d really prefer not to get burnt to a total lobster-like crisp on my first day.

Although, given what the weather report is indicating right now, I might not end up getting much sun at all! Current forecasts are calling for a lot of rain in Cancun this weekend, which would be no bueno… mostly for my wonderful friend who is getting married in Playa Mujeres on Sunday, but also, you know, for my selfish, vacationing self.

I’ve never been to Cancun/Playa Mujeres before, but those of you who may be more familiar with it — what does rain tend to be like there? Do the storms tend to be short, or are we likely to be relegated to indoor activities for the whole day? I know it’s still early, so things could change, but after my recent experience with Mother Nature putting a damper on things… well, can you blame me for being anxious?

Well, c’est la vie, right? You can’t control the weather, and I’m just super excited to have some time away with Sean, to celebrate my two wonderful friends getting married, and spend some time chillin’ with my brother and sister-in-law (Ben & Taylor are photographing the wedding). It’s not Friday yet, though! After a super chill, laid-back Memorial Day weekend (we didn’t go anywhere or do, like, anything… hahaha), I’ve got a full docket for the rest of this week — meetings, calls, and appointments galore! So with that, I bid you adieu for now. Adios!