Atlanta: The Return of Aunt Pookie

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, it’s been quite a couple of weeks ’round these parts! Just a few weeks after our last visit, Penny and I made a return trip to my sister’s in Atlanta to participate in a whole slew of big honkin’ life events. As if the fact that Penny is 11 months old weren’t enough of a reminder of what a cruel thief time is, try throwing my nephew Alex’s first birthday AND my eldest niece Mia’s first day of Kindergarten into the mix!

WHEN DID SHE GET SO GROWN?! ::sob::

 
 
Penny had a grand ol’ time helping Alex with his smash cake after he started slowing down, hehe. And it also really helped whet her appetite — literally — for the donut smash photos that I took of her in preparation of her own upcoming big day!

More of those will be comin’ at you later — I am chomping at the bit to share them all right now but trying my darndest to save them for her actual birthday (just 2.5 weeks away!!!!).

Other great things that happened during this trip included plenty of quality time with my best gal (obvs), quality time with my best sister, working out 7/9 days I was visiting (ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?!), and even getting to spend a day at the pool!

 
 
Oh, right, and also that little thing where me and my 50,000 besties saw Taylor Swift perform. The show was PHENOMENAL — such insanely high production value! Whatever you might think about her or her music (obviously, I’m a big fan, but I know she is somewhat polarizing, lol), you cannot deny that she is a stellar performer.

 
And as a bonus? My Fitbit logged over 18,000 steps and more than 8 miles on the day of the concert! Gahahaha.

It was a great trip, and thankfully at the end of it I didn’t have to say goodbye for too long — my sister and her family will be coming up here in just a few weeks for Penny’s birthday party & baptism! I admit that I’m kind of glad to have all that solo air travel behind me… for the time being at least. Penny is a great flyer so far, and she very rarely gets fussy, but she is just sooooo busy and nosey and energetic that it’s pretty hard to keep her contained on flights nowadays. She doesn’t fall asleep too easily these days anymore either — except, of course, for during the final 10 minutes as we’re descending, lol. Thankfully, we had our row to ourselves on both flights!

 
Anyway, after so many weeks of being up, on the go, and busy as all get out, I was looking forward to at least a modicum of calm before Penny’s birthday but, as always, life has other plans. Alas, after successfully avoiding it for 30 long years of blissful, wise, toothy bliss, I finally have to have my wisdom teeth removed. Two of my wisdom teeth have erupted (turns out I only have 3 of them — #soevolved) but they are all impacted, and one started giving me some serious jaw pain last week. So my surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

So if you’re not already following me on Instagram, I imagine that my Stories will probably be pretty entertaining that day, lol. See you on the flipside!

Time Marches On

Man, time just keeps marching on, doesn’t it? Even though it feels like I just posted Penny’s 10 Month update, it’s already been weeks! And a lot’s happened since then! Though she didn’t stay up to see the fireworks, we celebrated her first Fourth of July:

 
And the day after, she and I flew down to Atlanta for another visit with my sister, brother-in-law, and their three little munchkins!

Penny is becoming quite the seasoned traveler, and while she is really a very good baby on the plane, it just keeps getting more and more challenging for me. She is just soooooo busy, and soooooo nosy! She wants to be in everyone’s business, and I’m just trying my darnest to get her to stay with me. I mean, maybe just a tiny bit of stranger danger wouldn’t be such a bad thing, eh? At least on our flight back home she miraculously fell asleep for a portion of the flight. My arm went totally numb but it was worth it.

 
I had a great time visiting my sister, as I always do, but I gotta admit, coming back has been a bit of a bear this time around. Since traveling always makes time fly even quicker, and between our San Francisco trip & this one, I haven’t been able to really get settled back into a routine. So the days are kinda just whooshing past, and I’m just here like, okay, suddenly it’s mid-July. Penny is now ten and a HALF months old. I’ve got a huge slate of stuff to tackle for work before my next trip, for which Penny & I are heading back to Atlanta in a just few weeks for Alex’s first birthday (squee!)… and to see Taylor Swift (all my local DMV friends may have seen her show this week, but I bought the tickets for Atlanta a zillion years ago so my sister and I could go together.)

Whew. It’s just a lot, especially considering summers for my job tend to rocket past anyway. Plus, thinking about Alex’s first birthday being just around the corner makes me oh-so-very aware that Penny’s is as well (they’re only 3 weeks apart). Which means I need to start turning all of my many vast and unrealistic ideas for Penny’s first birthday party (just seven weeks away!) into an actually manageable checklist, lol.

Call it the burden of hosting events on the regular for my job, or just the fact that I am, indeed, a crazy Instagram mom, but I want this party to be the bomb-diggity! After all, it’s really the only one I get to do up completely and totally to my own whims, as something tells me that by next year, Penny will have opinions about what kind of party she’ll want, hahaha.

The other thing that’s been on my mind is that I haven’t been feeling very positive about myself lately. I’ve been feeling emotionally drained (Penny has almost completely weaned from nursing, and it hit me pretty hard last week especially), and have not been feeling confident or happy with regard to my body, my weight, and my health.

The hard truth is that I’ve let myself get out of control with some truly terrible eating habits (fast food in particular, sigh), and despite all of my best intentions and former proclamations (“I wanna get healthy for Penny! I want to be able to keep up with her forever! I want to set a good example for her!”), I hadn’t made any effort or taken any actual action to back up those claims. In fact, despite “knowing better,” I kind of kept doing, well, the opposite.

So, I just kinda stopped talking about it, and slinked quietly back into the shadows with my waffle fries. Which, I mean, hey, that’s fine, being fat is not a crime, it’s not really even an issue as long as you’re happy and feel good about yourself. Which I guess I kind of was, for a time? But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t cracks in my self-confidence, and slowly but surely, I started feeling less and less healthy, less and less good about myself, and less and less happy.

So, I finally hit my tipping point a couple of weeks ago. Sick of agonizing over my closet because my clothes don’t fit well anymore and being upset over how I look in candid photos and just generally not feeling good, I decided I don’t want to — and that I don’t have to — feel like this anymore.

So, I finally dragged My Fitness Pal back up from the depths of my iPhone’s app folders and hodgepodged together a plan. I’m cutting way down on sugar, trying my best to limit simple carbs (at least for this initial period — there is no power on Earth capable of keeping pasta from my life permanently), tracking everything, and, of course, eat mindfully & healthfully. And it’s working! I’m down 10 pounds already, which feels nice to say, though, the seasoned dieters among you know that’s mostly water weight. Plus, when you’re as heavy as I am, 10 pounds is also like, barely anything. But regardless, I’m feeling optimistic and motivated.

I do intend on adding fitness back in, as that’s obviously an important part of the health equation (though, as we also know, when it comes to weight loss specifically, it’s a much smaller part than what we eat), but I went to the gym for a step class with my sister while I was in Georgia and left feeling defeated and sad because I’m just so uncomfortable with my body right now. Also, I didn’t actually bring any real workout clothes with me, and I don’t think it helped that I was exercising in one of my regular tops, with two doubled-up nursing bras in lieu of a sports bra, hahahahaha.

So, baby steps. Literally. Carrying a wriggly, always-on-the-move, twenty-pound bundle of energy is my strength training right now, and chasing after her as she terrorizes the dogs is my cardio, lol.

And speaking of our little mischief-maker, we have an exciting new development… Penny finally (FINALLY!) cut her first tooth!

 
She is the Toothless Wonder no more! Which explains why she was shoving the local Georgia flora into her mouth incessantly during our backyard photoshoot, why she has been drooling up a storm lately, and also why she had a temperature the day prior to that little thing pokin’ on through. She’s got a real little chomper in there! (It’s her bottom left.)

And I think that just about catches us up. Here’s to looking at a brighter, lighter, happier, & healthier tomorrow (and the day after that, and the day after that) — as well as to getting these cutie pie cousins back together very, very soon! <3

Hotel Life with a 10 Month Old

If you missed it, you can catch up on my first post about my li’l family’s recent trip to San Francisco here!

Soooo, living in a hotel for a week with a baby was… interesting, to say the least. We stayed at the InterContinental San Francisco, which was a very nice hotel and provided a real crib for us, as well as a mini-fridge for me to keep my milk and whatnot. But, despite having a spot for her to sleep, we were still living in one single room… when we’re used to putting her to bed in her own room, on her own, every night at home. This, naturally, made putting her to bed each night — and for naps — a bit of a challenge.

Because she’s not used to dealing with us being in her room when she goes to sleep normally, our very presence was a big distraction for her, even if we were willing to shut off all the lights and basically tried to go to sleep at the same time as her (lol.)

That said, it’s not like the two of us wanted to go to bed at 7 PM each night anyway, so we had to make a lot of in-the-moment decisions as to how to get her to sleep. In the end, we wound up getting her to go to sleep initially by strapping her into her infant carseat + stroller, and then wheeling her into the bathroom once she finally dozed off, lol. HARDLY ideal, but it at least gave us a little bit of time to unwind, order in food, and watch a show or something before we were ready to hit the sack ourselves. She’d usually snooze for a couple hours, after which point I’d try to transfer her to her crib… or I’d just bring her into bed with us.

We tried wheeling the whole crib into the bathroom and putting her down that way, but it was all still just too stimulating for her. At least by having her in the infant bucket, her vision was somewhat limited and she was also secured so she couldn’t sit up, stand up, and play around (which is what she kept every time she was in the crib).

Of course, this isn’t really a solution if A) your baby can’t fit in their infant carseat anymore (which, honestly I think that this might have been our last trip with it, since she’s just about outgrown the height limit), or B) your hotel bathroom isn’t big enough to put anything in. It’s literally just what happened to work for this singular trip, lol. It’s also worth noting that you should fully buckle your kid, with straps tightened, whenever they’re in their carseat — for Penny, it’s mainly because she could easily launch herself out of it were she so inclined, but also there’s always a chance of them slipping down in their seats, which isn’t safe.

Anyway, the sleep thing aside, everything else went pretty smoothly as far as hotel life can go. Since hotel rooms are relatively bare-bones, it was a pretty easy, sparse space for her to crawl around without me fearing her death. I read a tip online that said to bring a thing of scotch tape with you for easy baby-proofing — you can tape washcloths over corners, put tape over outlets, tape up wires, etc. So I did bring some, but we actually didn’t end up using any of it.

Some other things I packed for the trip that we did end up using included an inflatable bathtub (<– this one from Munchkin is $12 on Amazon) which was great because there were no grippies in the bathtub.

I also packed our portable high chair, which we had previously purchased so we had a place to put Penny when visiting Sean’s parents, but turned out to be great for giving Penny her breakfasts and snacks in-room.

Overall, though, the experience mostly made me thankful that normally when I travel, it’s to someone’s house (my sister’s, for example, where I’m actually headed with Penny next week) where I have access to a lot of extra amenities, room, and freedom for the bebe. And also that going with an AirBNB or springing for a multi-room suite is probably the way to go for future vacations when a home isn’t an option, lol.

At least I can say that we successfully tackled a cross-country flight (two of them, technically!) as well as a week-long hotel stay and the only damage that seems to have been done is to my milk supply (womp womp, but that’s a story for another post.) And most importantly, of course, is recognizing that while I’m sure I’ll never stop getting anxious and somewhat stressed when it comes to traveling with Penny (at least not until she can be easily bribed with candy and an iPad, lol), everything does tend to work out. After all: have love, will travel!

I Brought My Heart to San Francisco (CM Week 2018)

Ahoy-hoy!

I’m back from a week in uncharacteristically-sunny San Francisco! Every year, they bring together all of Yelp’s Community Managers (99% of us work remotely) for a work summit at Yelp HQ, and this year’s was our best yet!

Of course, that statement isn’t exactly unbiased, considering that I was 1) on the planning committee for this year’s CM Week, and 2) I brought these two suckers along for the ride this year:

Yes, I did, in fact, drag my husband and baby 2,800 miles across the country with me on this work trip. Some of you may not be particularly surprised by this — I mean, I’ve barely spent like, 8 hours at a time away from Penny since she’s been alive. You think I was going to be able to handle being apart from her for an entire week?! I was having anxiety just thinking about the separation anxiety… that I, myself, would have experienced. Penny, on the other hand, probably would have barely noticed I was gone — much to the delight of my coworkers, stranger danger just doesn’t really seem to be her thing.

It was an awesome, if admittedly exhausting, conference. My amazing coworker who was also on the planning committee with me managed to score Andrew WK as the guest speaker, so that was freaking epic, and it’s always just such a treat to see my coworkers whom I normally only get to follow from afar.

 
Aside from a hiccup at the beginning of the week, the whole trip felt like a win-win on most fronts, really. Sean and Penny got lots of special bonding time exploring the city together, and I got to reunite with them at the end of each day. And since I wasn’t super distracted fully missing them the whole time, I was better able to focus on the conference, so I came away from the week with lots of new ideas and invigoration that I want to implement back into my role as Yelp Community Manager here in Northern VA.

 
AND it finally gave me a reason to do all the fun touristy stuff that I’ve always intended on doing out in SF, but just never got around to. Can you believe I’ve been out here FIVE times for this annual conference, and yet this was my FIRST trip to see the Golden Gate Bridge?!

That aforementioned hiccup though? Involved Sean taking our poor little Penny-poo to the frickin’ HOSPITAL on the first day of my conference! I woke up that morning and noticed her eyes were really red and puffy, which was alarming but we were like, okay, maybe she’s really tired, she didn’t sleep that well, there’s a big time difference, etc (this was at like 4 AM San Francisco-time.) But then I unzipped her sleeper and saw that she had a crazy rash ALL over her poor little body. And that’s when I really freaked.

 
Since it was the very first day of the conference, I had Sean rush her over to the children’s hospital right away and tried to hold it together while awaiting an update with baited breath. Honestly, having to keep my ish together because I was literally part of the team leading this conference, while my poor baby was being taken to the hospital without me was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Apologies to my two coworkers who almost certainly were not expecting me to break down in tears when they asked me how Penny was doing, lol.

Luckily, the doctors said that despite it looking quite shocking to us, it actually wasn’t a huge deal. PHEW! Official diagnosis was a viral rash — a reaction to either a cold she had previously developed, or something she picked up on the flight. It had pretty much resolved on its own 24 hours later, and also luckily, this all happened so early in the morning that I received the update before Day 1 of our conference had even officially kicked off.

So yeah, I can definitely say that while I learned a lot job-wise on this trip, I learned even more parenting-wise. Because holy mackerel, between crazy early morning rash eruptions,nd just the flights there and back in the first place, I definitely felt like I was put through my paces.

The flights, man. I mean, I knew that flying with Penny as an almost-10-month-old would be different from every other time I’ve flown with her (the most recent being back in March), but I still don’t quite think I was prepared. It certainly cemented the fact that the golden window to travel with your baby really is when they’re still a sleepy little lump, that’s for sure.

This time around Penny was just a little energizer baby — she was so interested in everyone on the plane, so uninterested in staying still, and got so bored. Which I mean, okay, sure, that’s fair. These were the longest flights she’s ever done by quite a bit, and being trapped in a metal box for 5 hours is boring!

But regardless how much I understand why she was hard to manage, it still didn’t make dealing with it in the moment that much easier. There’s the fact that it also took quite a bit of effort to get her to sleep on the plane — she straight up refused to rest or stop moving or basically quiet herself in any way when Sean had her, so getting our little nugget to close her eyes fell solely on me. And unlike in trips past, when popping her on the boob was a surefire way to get her to go to sleep, she is just far too busy and distracted these days to nurse pretty much at all during the day (which is its own issue that I’m dealing with, but that’s for another post methinks.)

Anyway, on the way out to SF, we had an empty seat in our row (HEAVEN!) so I was able to lay back at an angle and drape her over my torso. So despite the fact that we had to get the airport at like 5 AM that day (0_0), the trip out to California wasn’t actually that bad.

Our return flight, however, was completely full, much later in the day, and, of course, happened after a loooong week, so it was a little bit of a different story. Thankfully our row-mate was a super skinny 12-year-old boy, so he really didn’t take up much space and had very large headphones because Penny was a literal handful the entire flight. She didn’t cry all that much or anything, but was just, well, a baby.

Climbing all over us, trying to go back and forth between Sean and me incessantly, and just not. wanting. to. sleep. The only way I was finally able to get her to pass out was by strapping her into her carrier and bouncing in my seat for like half an hour. Ever bounced a 20-lb weight for thirty minutes straight?

Every single muscle in my body is sore today, lol. I’m guessing it also has something to do with all the walking, holding her, and general stress/craziness that the week as a whole entailed, but I feel like I did back-to-back Crossfit sessions. I really need to get back into better shape if I’m going to be able to continue keeping up with her!

Anyway, with that, I actually think I’m going to sign off here. I usually write my blog posts the night before they go up, and miraculously, Penny went to bed at 7 PM EAST COAST TIME, despite sleeping in until at 11:45 AM yesterday. So basically, she might actually be some kind of magic baby who can get back on schedule after just one night?! Which means even though my jetlagged body thinks it’s only 9 PM right now, it’s actually midnight and I should already be sleeping (as my wakeup call is sure to come sooner than I’d like.)

I fully intend to chat about what it’s like living in a hotel with a baby in my next post though, so let’s just consider this post Part 1 of our San Franciscan adventure. See you back here soon!

Whirlwind March

Holy frijoles, I can’t believe it’s almost been an entire MONTH since I blogged last! Hot diggity dog, the time really does fly. Penny will be celebrating SEVEN months this weekend!!

Needless to say, the past month has been a doozy. I’ve been keeping super busy with work, and then last week Penny & I flew down to visit my sister in Atlanta! Penny did great on the plane there and back (her 5th and 6th flights since she was born!), although I was definitely even more nervous about flying with her this time than I was last time (when she was still just a little lump). It’s just that she requires a lot more entertainment and is more difficult to coax to sleep now — the world is just far too interesting! I still managed to get her to nap for at least a little bit on both flights by stickin’ her on the boob, though, heh.

It was BEYOND worth the slight stress of flying solo with a baby again, though, since we got to be there for my niece Mia’s 5th birthday! I’m still in denial that she’s FIVE years old. That’s like, a real little kid, man! I mean, she starts KINDERGARTEN this Fall! Gah!!!!

She had a Brave themed birthday party that was a ton of fun to help my sister prep for (if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my Story documenting the epic fail that was our first attempt at the Bear Claw Brownies ::insert crying laughing emoji::).

 
 
And just look at all the STINKIN’ ADORABLE photos I got to take of Penny with her cousins. I mean, just, like, can you EVEN?!

 
And honestly this is just a fraction of the photos I took while I was down there, hahahaha.

Aaaanyway, I’ll give a full update on how Penny’s been doing, what milestones she’s been crushing, and all that good stuff for her 7 month post, but things have been pretty great with all things regarding her lately. Sleep was obviously impacted by our trip, but she didn’t do toooooo badly all things considered, and she’s generally back to mostly sleeping through from her bedtime around 7, 7:30 until 5 or 6 AM (whereupon I usually just nurse her back to sleep so I can coax a couple more hours out of her, haha.)

And I’ve also been planning a big bash for my upcoming birthday: The Big 3-0! I’m having a 90s-themed house party to celebrate my entrance into the next decade, and it’s honestly sooooo much fun (not to mention wicked nostalgic) to plan out. We’re talking choker necklaces, neon & cheetah print EVERYTHING, butterfly clips, slap bracelets, bagel bites, pixie sticks, oversized Zack Morris-style cell phones, and YES I absolutely did buy jelly sandals in my current, adult shoe size. Here’s a throwback to this sexy trio rocking some seriously sweet early-nineties fashion — is it weird that I would 100% still wear those saddle shoes?

Here’s where I need your help though: the music! No 90s party could possibly be complete without an EPIC party playlist to get funky to, amiright?

What’s your must-have 90s song for me to put on the party playlist?