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?

 

Happy Week of Thanksgiving!

As the title of this post says, Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends!

As a special Thanksgiving treat, this little turkey decided to sleep for almost SIX (!!) hours straight IN HER CRIB last night, so I feel like a brand new woman!

Last we spoke, I was regaling you with tales of sleeplessness and wanting to continue getting Penny used to her crib. And so, in desperation, I ordered the Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit on Amazon and while this thing may make her look like an actual human marshmallow, dang, does it work!

 
I’ll definitely review it in more detail soon, but so far I am extremely happy with having purchased this baby snowsuit. Penny’s slept in her crib for four nights now, and is sleeping for increasingly long stretches of time. Last night’s six hours was certainly a record… praise be!

Anyway, all of this great sleeping and almost getting her on an actual bedtime schedule comes just in time to wreck it completely by traveling, hehe. Sean, Penny, and I are doing up Turkey Day with the Fox Family in Texas this year, and we’re so excited! Having already flown with Penny once, it’s nice not to be worried about the trip itself, and it’s going to be so great to introduce Penny to so many members of her family, including her great-grandmother!

This truly has been a week packed with family fun, since Penny got to spend some extra time with my parents during the week while I ran around to various post-car accident doctor’s appointments, and then this past weekend we also jaunted down to Williamsburg for a day to introduce Penny to her other great-grandmother on Sean’s side. 🙂

Sean’s mom prepared a huge Thanksgiving lunch for the occasion, so I got to stuff my gullet full of turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, potatoes au gratin, and cranberry sauce. I loooooove Thanksgiving food, so I was a veeeeeery happy camper. And I’m even more excited now to repeat the culinary experience on actual Thanksgiving, hehe.

My college bestie, Bethany, also lives in Williamsburg with her hubby and their littles, so we stopped in to see them as well and did some baby swappin’ hehe.

And then we also stopped by Sean’s parents’ house house on our way back home too for a quick visit with his dad (who wasn’t able to join us in Williamsburg.)

The family fun didn’t stop with that, of course, since I convinced my brother and sister-in-law to come out and take some family photos of us the next day, hehe. I definitely learned a lot about what to do and not to do when it comes to taking professional photos with an infant, lol, but despite the windy weather and the fact that I woke her up from her nap for it, I’m confident we got at least a couple of good shots!

I’m so excited to get the photos back and put together our holiday card this year, since we have an especially wonderful reason to celebrate the season! We’re already entering my favorite time of the year, and it really is all the more special and exciting now that we get to share the holidays with Penny. I’m so thankful for this little nugget! I know I pretty much complained every single second of my pregnancy, but hot damn, was it worth it.

Okay, okay, I’m ceasing with the sappiness. I’ve just got lots to be thankful for this year, that’s all. 🙂

Anyway, with the traveling and craziness of the holiday, I probably won’t be checking back in on here until next week, so until then, happy, happy Thanksgiving!

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.