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!

Day in the Life: Office Mom Edition

Aloha! So, the last time I wrote up a Day in the Life post, Penny was only 2 months old and I was still on maternity leave. It kind of feels like I just wrote that post up, but clearly it’s been a while! And since I’ve returned to work and Penny is now almost 6 months old, I’d say that more than a few things have changed, haha. Because I work from home 4/5 days a week, things still look pretty different from one to the next. There are just so many factors that inform my daily schedule: who I have helping out with Penny (our part-time nanny, my mother-in-law, or my parents), if I have in-person meetings or calls scheduled, if I have an Elite Event that evening, etc.

So I’m thinking I’ll be doing another day in the life post sooner rather than later to try and give a picture of what things are like for me when I’m at home vs. going into DC, but since yesterday was an office day, you get the latter first!

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4 AM: Our day starts bright & early (or, more accurately, dark & drearily), as Penny wakes up happily in her crib at 4 AM after having gone to bed at 7 PM the previous night. She’s just chat, chat, chatting away, petting her unicorn, and being adorably AWAKE. After a little while, I go down to her room and replace her pacifier with foolish optimism, but she has absolutely nooooo interest in going back to sleep. Oh well! I go back upstairs and watch the monitor hoping in vain that she’ll fall asleep again eventually… spoiler alert: she doesn’t.

4:45 AM: She finally starts to fuss, so Sean goes down and brings her upstairs to me so I can nurse her. She nurses for like 20 minutes per side and we both fall back asleep when she’s on the second side — whoops! We snooze until almost 7:30.

 
7:30 AM: Time to get up! I nurse Penny again (just for 5 minutes), change her wet diaper, and then go downstairs to let the dogs out. I also pick out her outfit for the day and get her dressed, since her room is on our downstairs level.

I also toss a load of laundry in the machine while we’re downstairs, as I’m trying to make a habit of doing small loads of laundry more often. Y’know, instead of my previous way of doing it, which was to wait until I’m literally wearing my last pair of clean underwear and then spend two days doing like 6 separate loads, lol.

When I come back upstairs, I feed the dogs their breakfast and supplements, Penny and I play a little bit, and I take her daily #OOTD photos, hehe. She’s sitting up SO well these days — self-correcting when she starts to teeter to one side, and even pulled herself into an upright sitting position when I placed her leaning back on the pillow! So proud of my strong little girl. <3

8 AM: I place Penny in her new Bumper Jumper for some self-play and sit down at my desk to go through my emails.

JUST KIDDING! My computer has decided to update itself all on its own because Skynet is nigh.

So I fill out my Panda Planner for the day, check my email on my phone, and get myself ready… giving a little extra attention to my hair & makeup since I have the time, lol. I am going into the office today anyway, I guess I should make myself presentable?

 
Penny lasts a good half hour in her jumper (!!), but when she gets tired of it, I give her favorite teether to her and hold her in my lap while I put my newly-perfected one-handed typing skills to use and respond to a few emails.

9 AM: Penny is showing signs of tiredness, so I go try to put her down for her first nap of the day.

She is pretty fussy once I lay her down (she has been fighting this morning nap pretty hard for the past couple of days), so it takes some extra time and some extra nursing (3 minutes) to get her calmed down. I lay her back in her crib and she finally falls asleep at 9:30.

9:50 AM: My mother-in-law arrives, so it’s time for me to head out! Typically, I’d have taken Penny over to my parents’ house before going into the office, and Sean’s mom comes and helps out on a different day. My parents are out of town visiting my sister and their other grandchildren this week, however, so Kim to the rescue! She texts me while I’m en route to work to let me know that Penny woke up at 10:15 — her classic short 45-minute nap.

10:45 AM: There was an accident or something causing a ton of traffic, so it takes almost an hour to get to the office even though rush hour was supposed to have been over by the time I left. Womp womp. Oh well, eventually I do make it to Yelp’s brand spankin’ new Chinatown office! H/T to my coworker Kimberly for the rad pic of our reception area below:

10:50 AM: I dump my stuff at my desk and head right to the Mother’s Room and pump first thing.

 
Somehow, I managed to remember to shove my pumping bra into my bag but forgot pretty much everything else, including extra containers to hold my milk. Thankfully Yelp is awesome and the Mother’s Room is not only stocked with the pump itself (every pumping mama gets their own set of flanges, tubing, and milk storage bottles), but also has spare parts for exactly this type of situation. I make a note in my planner to bring some storage bags to keep here at the office next week, though.

11 AM: I make a quick trip to the kitchen to grab some coffee and hodgepodge together a super late breakfast, since I haven’t eaten anything yet today. Definitely not a good habit… something I’m definitely trying to work on! I make myself a piece of toast with nutella and banana, and grab a strawberry Chobani, a hard-boiled egg, and some coffee. Yeah, our office kitchen is pretty boss.

I finally have a few minutes to bang out some actual work — responding to messages, queueing up emails, setting appointments, doing backend work, etc.

 
11:30 AM: Time for my weekly 1:1 with my boss. This used to be done on the phone, but now we can meet in person whenever possible and it’s so nice to get time to catch up and discuss what I have going on work-wise. Our meeting lasts half an hour, and afterwards I head back to my desk and keep plugging away at my to-do list!

Having Penny around has definitely taught me to be much more efficient with my time when I have work to do. A few hours of uninterrupted time at my computer probably doesn’t seem like much to most people, but I’m able to fly through my task list because I’m so focused on making the most of my time in the office.

I do have two more calls on my agenda today — our weekly team call at 1 PM, and a call related to a special project I’m working on at 2:30.

2:45 PM: After my last call of the day, I enjoy a late lunch with my coworkers in the office. This is my favorite part of having an office to go into — getting to see my colleagues on a regular basis! I’m already one of the lucky ones in the Community Manager program at Yelp, since my coworkers in DC and the MD Burbs are so close by (plus our boss, who also lives in DC), and we’ve been able to get together relatively regularly over the years. But having the office now means we see each other on an even more frequent basis! Forget the Coke Freestyle machine — getting to spend time with my work fam is 100% my favorite office perk.

Anyway, after we finish eating, I go back to my desk to wrap up a few more things with the intention of going to pump again, but my laptop’s mystical powers suck me in and I totally lose track of time. Womp. My mother-in-law lives in Stafford (an hour away without traffic), I want her to be able to head home before she gets stuck in the worst part of rush hour, so I decide to skip pumping and head out.

4 PM: I leave the office to go relieve my MIL from Penny duty! Alas, traffic is already pretty heavy, but that’s DC for ya…

4:50 PM: Reunited and it feels so good! My mother-in-law tells me all about Penny’s day: she napped twice, pooped twice, drank her bottles (hooray!!), and had baby oatmeal and carrots. She unfortunately threw up some of the carrots, but I think otherwise she was pretty good for Grandma! It’s a big relief to know she wasn’t too fussy, and also that she drank her milk since she’s occasionally weird about drinking frozen milk / from bottles (not sure which part is the issue). And of course, it’s also just a huge relief for me to get to snuggle mah baybeh again!

As if watching our little Lucky Penny wasn’t already enough, my wonderful mother-in-law also finished up the laundry that I started this AM. We say bye-bye to Grandma Foxy and I nurse Penny pretty much immediately — it’s been 6 hours since I pumped! She nurses for 11 minutes.

 
5:30 PM: We play together for a bit, before I try to put Penny down in our room for her last catnap of the day. She’s a little distracted though. Hmm, wonder why? 😉

I shoo her brothers away but the DockATot still isn’t cutting it. I can tell she’s really tired though, and if she doesn’t nap soon it’s going to mess with bedtime. So I snuggle up with her and she falls asleep pretty much instantly curled up against me. ::heart eyes emoji:: I certainly ain’t mad about it. Penny cuddles are pretty much the best thing in the entire world, after all.

 
Sean comes home while she’s napping, and because miracles do exist, I’m able to extricate myself from the bed without waking her to say hi to my husband.

6:20 PM: Penny naps for about 40 minutes (the last nap of the day is always a short one), and when she wakes up she is so excited to see her Daddy! It’s the most heartwarming thing ever.

6:45 PM: Sean plays with her a little bit while and then goes to prepare her bath. Penny is a total water baby and looooves the bath! She’s starting to get pretty big for our Schnuggle tub, though — when she splish-splashes, it goes everywhere now! Might have to move on up to the real bathtub soon ::sniff::

We wrap her up in a little bunny robe that her nanny gifted us — is she not the cutest little somebunny you ever did see? <3

 
7 PM: We normally try to get our little bunny in bed between 7 and 7:30, so we’re still doing pretty well on time. I nurse her one last time (just 5 minutes), and we get her into her jammies. I’m crazy for this unicorn footie sleeper that we recently picked up at Target (it’s Carter’s Just One You brand). My squeaky clean li’l unicorn!

 
7:15 PM: It’s bedtime! Sean and I have been trying to alternate nights putting her to bed, and tonight it’s my turn. Our bedtime routine is simply to put her in her magic sleepsuit, give her paci & her Zoe to her, and walk out of the room. Half the time she’ll fall asleep within a minute or two, and the other half of the time she needs a little bit of extra TLC. Tonight it’s the latter, but she’s not too bad. She fusses on and off a little bit and loses her paci twice, but I plug it back in and she’s down for the count by 7:30!

7:30 PM: I let the dogs back outside and it’s dinnertime for Sean and me. We eat and watch an episode of Altered Carbon on Netflix — we’ve been really digging it! I definitely recommend if you like sci-fi, murder mysteries, or futuristic thrillers.

8:45 PM: We clean up a bit after dinner and it’s time for some meeeee time! Sean plays a video game, and I throw a face mask on, toss some Friends up on the TV, cuddle up with Daxter by my side and Harry at my feet, and start writing this post!

 
12:00 AM: Sean went to bed at 10:45, but I really wanted to finish this post so it’s looking like a late night for me. Which, honestly, is basically business as usual for me. When you’re trying to balance work & blog & household & self-care, something’s gotta give, and for me, that thing is usually sleep, haha. So anyway, if you see me posting about decluttering my house and momming it up and working and still finding time to do my makeup, just know that being productive, for me, does not come without at least this sacrifice, haha. But whatever man, I’m sure I’ll more than catch up on my sleep when Penny’s a teenager and sleeping until 2 PM every weekend like I did. 😛

One last thing to do before I get ready for bed: pump, as I’ve been trying to build my freezer stash back up (and since I only pumped the one time at work today.) I pump for 9 minutes and get 6 ounces, so I’m really glad that I did!

12:45 AM: Daxter wants to go out one last time, so I wake Old Man Harry up and let both dogs outside while I quickly go through my own bedtime routine: wash my face, put on moisturizer, brush my teeth (accidentally putting facewash on my toothbrush… so maybe this whole sleep thing is taking more of a toll than I thought, eh?) and put my PJs on. Then I bring the dogs back in and crawl into bed a little after 1 AM.

Now we get to wait and see if Penny makes it straight through ’til morning (it’s happened before!) or if we’re in for another 4 AM wakeup call.

Cheers, everyone!

(Morning update: She did not, in fact, wake me up at 4 AM! She woke me up at 3 instead, hahahahacry. Thank goodness for coffee! 😅)

Cleaning House (Literally & Figuratively)

Happy February. AHHH IT’S FEBRUARY. How is it February?! Okay, so, yeah, the fact that the first month of the year has absolutely FLOWN by is kind of throwing me for a loop. But! I’m actually feeling really good going into this new month — my spirits are high, I’m feeling optimistic, uplifted, and enthusiastic about tackling the next 28 (well, 27 now) days with purpose and passion.

Why am I in such high spirits, you ask? Well, a multitude of reasons, really! The obvious answer is that Penny is just such a joy right now! I mean, not that she isn’t always, duh, but just in particular right now. She’s so engaged and animated, she “talks” all the time, and is so responsive to your interactions with her… 5 months is just such a fun age!

 
We’ve also made some forward strides in our childcare search: we’ve actually found a daycare that I’m really excited about! I was previously leaning more towards a nanny/nannyshare, and I have met with a couple of people that I really liked, but ultimately we decided that enrolling Penny in daycare part-time is a better fit for my work needs, and for our budget.

 
A spot for Penny won’t be available until this summer (not that this was surprising to us — daycares in Northern VA are very competitive. I inquired into one that doesn’t have an opening until January 2019!), so we are still looking at bringing in a part-time nanny to help bridge the gap until then, particularly because my parents will be doing a ton of traveling this spring. I made sure to be upfront about these plans to our top two nanny candidates, and they both said they’d be willing to take the position on a temporary basis. So hopefully we’ll be moving forward with that soon too. Stay tuned!

 
Another big reason I’m feeling so upbeat is because I’ve been doing a lot of physical and mental decluttering lately. In a revelation that likely surprises no one, I own a lot of crap. I mean, you point me in the direction of basically anything with sequins, faux-fur, polka dots, Harry Potter, schnauzers, foxes, or unicorns, and I will want to purchase it. So, as you can imagine, our house was already on the cluttered side before Penny came into the picture… along with the myriad of baby-related paraphernalia that tends to come with procreating, lol. We just have so much stuff, you know?

Enter the KonMari Method. I plan on going into this in more detail later in a separate post (when I’m closer to being done, lol), but the essence of this project is very simple: your belongings and surroundings should spark joy in you. So I’m trying to get rid of all (or at least, most of) the unnecessary things we’ve (okay, okay, I’ve) accrued over the years, and breathe joy, calm, and purpose back into our home.

Hahaha, I feel so pretentious typing that last part of the previous sentence, but the thing is… it really is working! Things are very much still a work-in-progress (I swear, I’m being ruthless in getting rid of stuff, but we still have so much crap!), but I really do feel happy walking through our kitchen and actually seeing clear counterspace. And filling bag after bag with things to toss or items to donate/sell feels very cleansing. (I do wish I’d taken more “before” photos tho.)

 
And so along with the physical act of organizing our home and simplifying my life, I’m being proactive with regard to getting my mental and emotional clutter cleared out as well. I won’t lie to you guys, I hit a pretty rough spot emotionally a few weeks ago. I was feeling extremely overwhelmed about finding time for work, motherhood, my marriage, my pups, my family, my friends, my health, and myself. The lack of control I was feeling quickly had me spiraling out, making me feel like I was never going to be able to achieve the kind of balance I wanted in my life. It was leading to blowups between my husband and me, tension in my other relationships, and a general sense of unhappiness and discontentment.

Something needed to change. And in a total surprise twist that absolutely nobody saw coming </sarcasm>, turns out that thing was me!

Now, I’ve never really been the kind of person who’s super into, like, the power of positivity and having mantras and putting good vibes into the universe and all that kind of stuff. I mean, if I’m honest, I used to think that sort of thing was just a whole lot of hooey. But. I can’t lie. This ish works.

 
It sounds so cheesy, but I’ve been adopting a mentality of daily gratitude, focusing on personal affirmations, and being proactive about creating — and knocking out — daily to-do lists and it’s done WONDERS for me. I feel like I’ve been able to maintain such a positive attitude these days, even as I take on new work projects like large-scale events and promotions, as well as personal projects like KonMari-ing the house. And a huge part of what has helped me achieve this attitude is my Panda Planner.

The Panda Planner is a planner, gratitude journal, goal-setter, and habit-encourager all in one. It’s got monthly, weekly, and daily sections, the last of which being where it really shines, IMO. There’s space to reflect on what you’re grateful for and excited about each day, what your daily projects are, list out your schedule and tasks, and a space to reflect on how your day went (and how you can improve the next one) at the bottom.

I know it probably sounds silly, but this one little notebook is has been instrumental in helping me reshape my priorities, focus on the positive, and stay on top of my responsibilities — both work- and Penny-related. I’m only a couple of weeks into using it, but it’s given me the tools to maintain such a great outlook that I actually look forward to filling it out each morning, referencing it throughout the day, and having my little period of reflection each night. And I swear, this isn’t a post sponsored by Panda Planner or anything, I just genuinely love it and feel like it’s helping me cultivate so much happiness and contentment in my life.

The hardest parts for me to get on board with initially were the spaces for a daily focus and affirmation, because it just made the whole thing seem a little too hokey for me. But truth be told, filling out those squares each day has actually been one of the most effective things in helping me figure out my new normal without getting overwhelmed.

For example, I’m a people pleaser and have a really hard time saying no to people — both in terms of my job and in my personal life. So my schedule always ends up packed really tightly, and I get stressed out thinking about all the places I need to go or the people I need to see in a day. And so some of the ideas I’ve been trying to remind myself of lately include:

It’s okay to say no.

You don’t have to (and can’t) please everyone.

Everything is temporary.

One step at a time.

Now is not forever.

And, like I said, it really is working! Whether or not these count as actual “affirmations” or if they’re just really good things to remind myself of, I like that the planner reminds me to go back to it every time I open it up. And as for my daily focus, they’ve thus far been things like gratitude, perspective, professionalism, appreciation, productivity, and serenity.

  
Anyway, I know this might sound silly to some of you (it did to me!), but I just feel like I can’t even properly express how light and uplifted I’ve been feeling lately. Even with a long list of to-dos on my task list everyday, I feel so much better equipped to deal with things these days. And I feel like it’ll just keep getting better and better, as I continue to simplify and declutter my life.

Of course, that being said, Penny could have a bad night where I get like three hours of sleep, and then I could get overwhelmed trying to KonMari the monstrosities that are my desk and bookshelves, and some new crisis might surface at work, and everything could totally fall apart. Who knows? One day at a time, right? 🙂

The Great Part-Time Child Care Search

Happy Friday!

This weather has been playing hot and cold with us here in Northern VA lately — literally! Temps in the high-sixties one day, the low-thirties the next… it’s crazy! January in the DMV has always been really unpredictable though. Sean’s and my wedding anniversary was a few days ago, and it was 66 degrees! For contrast, this was our actual wedding two years ago…

At least the nicer days have given me the chance to get out of the house with Penny, you know, give her some mental stimulation, show her the sights…

Lulz. It seriously never fails: put her in her carseat or stroller and she’s out like a light, and can sleep for hours! Try to get her to nap at home, of course, and she is apparently incapable of sleeping longer than 40 minutes at a time. Go figure.

Speaking of Penny’s sleep, we have, alas, backslid a bit after her incredible week of sleeping through the night, as she has been waking up multiple times at night again, wanting to nurse at night again, etc. It’s not really that terrible, I’m just evidently terrible at dealing with it since we were teased with those five wonderful, wonderful nights, lol.

I think this is just Penny’s way of making sure I don’t take anything for granted when it comes to her. I’ve been finding that with the uncertainly and lack of schedule that comes with a new baby, you really end up glomming onto any glimmer of regularity you can identify. Penny does something two days in a row? It’s a pattern! So imagine how attached I got to the fact that she actually did sleep 11 – 12 hours five nights in a row. That sixth night was… well, yeah.

Anywayyyyy, outside of the continued unpredictability that the nights tend to bring, we are also still trying to get into a good routine when it comes to our days. Things have been going pretty smoothly on Penny’s “Grandparents Days,” when she’s with either my parents or my mother-in-law for most of the day. I’m really grateful to have both Sean’s and my parents close by so they can spend regular quality time with our little Foxlet.

 
And, of course, those days work out particularly well for me on the work front, since I’m actually able to get all of my work done, lol. I can pop in and out, run out to meetings, make phone calls, and tackle my inbox without incident. On days when it’s just her and me, I have to say it can be very tough to tackle my to-do list. (Even if I don’t have any tasks that involve meeting with or talking to other people.) Which is hard to admit, really, because I absolutely love getting to spend as much time with Penny as I do (I mean, obviously! She’s the best!), and I feel so lucky to be in a job situation where I’ve been able to at least attempt to balance working full-time and being a full-time mommy simultaneously.

Buuuuut, I also can’t deny the obvious, which is that it’s just going to continue getting increasingly more and more difficult to allocate my time and attention to both things as she gets more mobile, more alert, and more interested in the world around her. After all, there’s only so much patience you can expect a 21 week old baby to have! And truly only so much guilt one mama can handle before she’s no longer being a good employee or a good mom, lol.

I mean, it’s like, okay, sure, there’s still plenty of time to get work done sporadically, because the baby’s playing quietly alone or napping or because your husband is home, or whatever. But even though you know you have work to do, you still feel like you should be (and want to be!) paying attention to your baby. (Momguilt.) But then you feel guilty whenever you are playing with or entertaining or just spending precious time with your little one, because you also always feel like you should still be working! You just don’t feel like you can win either way — which is why I finally (much belatedly) came to the realization that we need a little extra help.

SO, all this is to say, I’m finally looking into some part-time childcare options. I know this is probably long overdue, as I do realize most people don’t have the luxury to wait until their baby is almost 5 months old to figure out their childcare needs, lol, but hey, whaddya gonna do? I was naive and overly optimistic about what I could handle, and I thought that because of how flexible my job is and how supportive my family is, that I really could do it all. And while my job IS flexible and my parents and mother-in-law ARE amazing for helping us out as much as they do, I obviously still want to be able to perform well at my job. And even moreso, I would never want Penny’s grandparents to get to the a point where she feels like a burden or obligation. Plus, my parents are set to do quite a bit of traveling this Spring, so that’s just another reason we need to start getting our ducks in a row now.

Anyway, hopefully this doesn’t feel too out of touch. I’m very aware that my life doesn’t reflect the reality of what many working moms have to deal with, (going back to work much sooner than I did, having to enroll their child in full-time daycare, etc.) and I feel very fortunate that I do have the time and freedom to explore part-time options. The ideal would be for Penny to be able to keep her Grandparent Days, and for me to still be able to spend lots of quality time with my favorite little person, but to just get some more stability and support. So we’re on the waitlist for a nearby daycare center that offers partial week enrollment (a rare find in this area!) and I’ve got some nanny interviews set up over the next few days as well. A part-time nanny/nannyshare is what I think we’re leaning towards right now, but I’ll keep you posted on how things go! First step: narrowing down my list of literally fifty questions that I have for these poor, unsuspecting potential nannies, hehhhhh.

‘Til next time!

Crushing Milestones and that Working Mom Life

I gotta tell ya, four months of babyhood is a real roller coaster. Penny has made so many incredible leaps and bounds in her development, but it definitely came at a price. For a few weeks there I was seriously wondering if we’d ever get our happy little baby back! She was inconsolable being held by anyone but me (even Sean!), fussy even when I was holding her, and was back to waking up every two, three hours at night (one terrible night, it was every single hour). And every time she did wake up, she fought going back to sleep so hard (screaming, crying, thrashing) that the only way I could get her to calm down was by nursing her back to sleep every single time.

To say I was exhausted would be seriously understating it. But underneath all that fussiness and sleeplessness, clearly a lot was happening inside her tiny little baby brain! Because as of this past week, she is not only seemingly back to her old happy self, but has been crushing milestone after milestone to boot!

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She can now roll from tummy to back like a pro — hooray! We also officially transitioned her to her crib last week (this development came as a direct result of the aforementioned terrible, waking-every-hour night, lol), and on that very first night she slept for ELEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT.

It’s only been like five nights so far, but except for one sad 2 AM wakeup on night #2, she has slept all night long with almost zero intervention from us! No more night feeding, no rocking — all we’ve done is pop her pacifier back in like, one time each night. She’s been able to get herself back to sleep every other time she’s stirred! The night before last, she slept 8:30 PM to 8:20 AM. Last night, she went in her crib at 8:30, fell asleep a little before 9, and is still snoozing away as I type this. Can you even BELIEVE IT?!

So you see? MIRACLES ARE REAL, PEOPLE! I mean, I know that things can — and probably will — change, and so I’m definitely not relying on this being our new normal just yet, but I’m certainly going to relish it while I can! And if rolling + sleeping through the night both weren’t enough, Penny has also started being able to sit up on her own!

She can only maintain it for a maximum of, like, 90 seconds before toppling over, and only if she’s not too tired (but also not too distracted and looking all over the place, lol), but I’m still so proud of our little chunk nugget! She’s growing up so faaaaasst.

 
And like I said, she definitely seems to be much more generally content, and more like her old self as well. I guess that’s what almost 12 hours of sleep every night will do! The real test to see if she’s truly over this hump, however, will be how she acts at Grampy & PoPo Daycare (aka my parents’ house) today while I’m in the office. Last week when she was there, she barely ate anything the entire time, and my dad had to walk her around the house in her stroller for an hour just to get her to take a nap. -_- (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my parents?)

I still work from home the majority of the time and usually have my parents or my mother-in-law come over and watch Penny while I work. However, Yelp recently opened up a DC office, and so once a week I load the kids — human and dog — into the car, drop them off with my parents, and head into the city for the day.

There are many reasons that I love working for Yelp, but having an office here is giving me all sorts of new reasons to love this company (that go beyond even the cereal bar in the office kitchen!) It’s probably not too surprising, what with Yelp being a young tech company and all, but I’ve found they are really progressive and supportive of new & nursing moms. They have nice “mother’s rooms” in all of their offices for pumping, and this office is no exception!

It’s not done yet, but there’s a comfy chair with a built-in desk/ledge, a mini-fridge, and a sink (plus some super cute wallpaper.) And once the mother’s room is fully set up, there will actually be a permanent, hospital-grade pump inside the room at all times. Each pumping mama will have their own set of parts (flanges and bottles, etc.) to go along with it, which means no more dragging my pump back and forth. Amazing!

Alas, the office is still being finished out, and the mother’s room won’t be complete until later this year. So until then, I still get the full #workingmom experience of lugging my pump along. Fortunately for me, however, I have two excellent options to help make that process so much easier!

Aeroflow recently reached out to ask if I was interested in testing out two different pumping products — The Motif Duo, a super lightweight, portable, battery-powered breast pump, and the Ju-Ju-Be Be Supplied pumping bag. (Aeroflow did send me these products to try for free, but they didn’t sponsor this post or anything, so these are my own honest opinions.)

I originally ordered the Spectra S2 breastpump through Aeroflow while I was pregnant, and had a great experience going through them (they have a simple form on their site and contact your insurance for you — super easy!). I really do love my Spectra, as it’s quiet, powerful, and user-friendly. However, my one regret is that I didn’t get the battery-powered version (my insurance fully covered the S2, but I would’ve had to pay extra to upgrade to the S1) as I find it very limiting to be stuck in one spot while pumping.

So when Aeroflow asked if I was interested in trying out the Motif Duo, I was super jazzed. And I became even more excited upon opening the box and seeing how truly tiny this thing is! It literally fits in the palm of my hand — and in the back pocket of my jeans!

It’s got a rechargeable battery built right in, and is a double-electric pump so you have the option to pump one or both breasts (it’s set up for one in the photos above.) It’s a little bit louder than the Spectra once it gets going, but it operates similarly: there are two modes, one for stimulating your let-down, and one for milk expression. It’s crazy convenient that I can get up, walk around, and do whatever I need to do while pumping — the first time I tried it out, I was able to go and pick up Penny after she woke up from her nap, while still actively pumping! It’s also great for pumping one side while Penny nurses on the other — since it doesn’t need to be plugged in, I can easily move it around to avoid her wiggly legs. However, I will say that I haven’t found it to be quite as efficient or powerful as my Spectra — I have to pump for longer and at a much higher power level to get the same amount of milk.

So although the Motif is super convenient — both while at home, and to toss into my diaper bag and take with me wherever — sometimes I still want to pull out the big dog. Especially when I’m at the office and want my pumping session to be as quick but efficient as possible. Which is why I’m also really glad that Aeroflow gave me the chance to try out the Be Supplied breastpump bag as well!

This bag is great — it is really nice to have a bag made specifically for carrying a breast pump! I was previously just dumping all of my pump stuff into an extra diaper bag that I had, but needed to remove everything from the bag in order to get things set up. The Be Supplied is great because it has a totally separate pocket for your pump that zips open from the side, which means you can access the pump without having to remove it from the bag! There’s room to keep the power adapter inside this compartment as well, so you literally just have to pull out the wall plug and you’re good to go!

It also has additional exterior and interior pockets to keep your bottles/bags, flanges, tubing, and everything. There’s also a “mommy pocket” on the front, where you can keep your keys, wallet, etc, if you wanted to use this as your only bag. Alas, I still need to bring a separate bag when I go into the office, as the Be Supplied isn’t big enough for my laptop, but it’s still way more lightweight and compact than the other bag I was hauling around. Plus, it’s machine-washable which is a HUGE plus given the extreme likelihood of milk getting in or on it somewhere, and the print happens to perfectly match my Ju-Ju-Be BFF diaper bag!

Aaaanyway, that’s enough pumping talk for now, promise. I know how thrilling this topic must be for the majority of you, lol.  Honestly, going into the office once a week and having to do the pumping thing really just makes me even more aware of how lucky I am for my work situation! Pumping ’round the clock is definitely time consuming, and I am so grateful to have the flexibility to continue nursing Penny much of the time when I am working from home.

I shall leave you with this one final, non-baby-related milestone of my own: I’m down 9 pounds! Huzzah! 🙂

‘Til next time!