Penny: Ten Months Old

We’ve hit double digits!!!!!

Happy 10 months, Penelope! Okay, well, technically your 10-month birthday is tomorrow, but we’ll go ahead and count this one a day early. You love to clap, can officially cruise along the furniture, and you’re still our little chatterbox. You mostly still babble incoherently, but you can say “mama,” “dada,” “hi,” “bye,” and “more” when you want to! And you’ve just recently started saying “da” while pointing at Daxter, so I’m pretty sure that’s you either trying to say “dog” or even call him by his name!

You are just the happiest, most wonderful, most sociable bundle of energy these days. Somehow, you seem to have skipped straight over the very idea of stranger danger, and seem to make new friends wherever we go! Always on the move, you’re crawling everywhere, pulling up on anything, and cruising along everything. The whole world is just so interesting to you, and you’ve just got to explore it all!

Being such a busy little bee, you don’t really have the patience to breastfeed much during the day anymore. You’re still nursing first thing in the morning, but most days that’s just about all I can get with you these days. You’re just too distracted and way too busy to bother with the boob anymore! You simply refuse to be contained, hehe — exhibit A:

 
Anyway, while I’m still pumping to try and keep up with your milk needs, it’s been a bit of a challenge these past few weeks. Between the decrease in nursing, my tendency to lose track of time between pumps (my own fault, I know), and the way that traveling to San Francisco messed with our stress and rhythm, my supply has unfortunately tanked again. It’s looking like we might be headed towards the end of our breastfeeding journey together, and I admit, I have very mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I still cherish our nursing time together so much, even if it is only once, maaaaaybe twice, a day now. And I want to keep that going as long as possible. On the other, I have grown so resentful of pumping and I’m so over stressing over my milk supply and just all of the anxiety that goes along with that. And logically I’m totally aware of the fact that formula is nutritionally great, you do fine on it, and it’s sooo easy to prepare. (I even shell out extra dough for the fancy organic stuff, haha!) But for whatever reason, I am still really attached to the idea that I’m “supposed” to breastfeed — or at least give you breastmilk — for a full year. I think it’s mostly social pressure that’s made me so fixated on this relatively arbitrary length of time, though. I mean, you’re already the size of most one-year-olds, so I’m not really sure what has me so worried about switching to formula. Ah well, I’m not sure whether I’m going to have much control over how things play out soon anyway, so I’m trying to maintain a c’est la vie attitude about it. It’s just still a bit emotional.

While we’re on the topic of eating, though, it bears mentioning that we certainly don’t seem to have any problems when it comes to the real stuff! You must be your mama & papa’s girl, because you loooove to eat. You’re amazing at feeding yourself now, and can take down anything from chicken to pasta to veggies with ease. Eggs, peas, and naturally, bread, remain particular favorites of yours, and lately yogurt, cheese, and chicken have been topping the list too.

You actually haven’t gained any weight since your checkup last month, so I guess all your rapidfire growing has finally — officially — slowed down. But as much as I might protest against you growing up too fast, I definitely still want you to keep getting big & strong, baby girl, so eat up!

I can’t believe we’re just two short months away from celebrating your birthday! Good thing I’ve already been planning your party for 4 months, eh? Hahahahaha. You are the very best thing that has ever happened to anyone, ever. I call you my Lucky Penny, but goodness knows that we’re the lucky ones!

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!

Unicorns Are Real

Back in March, a friend let me know that a traveling photographer was coming relatively close (Fredericksburg, VA) and was doing unicorn photoshoots. Yep, you read that correctly. UNICORN. PHOTOSHOOTS. A PHOTOSHOOT. WITH. A UNICORN.

Okay, fine, so it’s a horse with a fabric horn on top of its bridle. Still, I’m not sure if I’d ever gone from hearing about something to purchasing something faster. I booked a session with my own little unicorn for May, planned out our outfits, and anxiously awaited the day of our shoot.

Fast-forward a couple of months, and the day was finally here! I piled Penny and our outfits into the car and drove the hour+ to the photoshoot site (with me being super thankful that Penny is such a good car-sleeper, lol.) Once we arrived at the farm where the shoot was taking place, Penny and I got dressed and ready for our closeup with Teapot the Unicorn (I did my hair & makeup before we left the house.) And it went pretty smoothly, considering I was dealing with an eight-month-old baby who had no idea what was happening or why I was making her wear a hundred thousand yards of tulle.

There’s a lot of people that actually end up in and around your photos, especially you’re dealing with a live animal, babies/kids, and the kind of rapid-fire mini-sessions that this whole photoshoot entailed. So, of course, I knew that most of the real magic was going to happen thanks to some editing software, but above and below are examples of unedited photos (horse lead, assistant’s hands, and giant horse penis included hahahahaha):

Penny was SUCH a good sport, really, only getting fussy and upset at the very end when she got tired (our actual shooting time was only like 15 minutes, but there was a good bit of waiting around.) Things were so go-go-go right when we arrived that I realized I hadn’t taken a photo of her solo in her dress, so I tried to take one of the crumpled mess of tulle it had become before taking it off to go home, lol, but she was D-O-N-E.

 
We went home and awaited the results of our photoshoot with even MORE anticipation. I knew that we had to have gotten SOME good shots, even with Penny looking all over the place. Alas, it would be another solid month before I’d get to see the proofs from the shoot, and another 6 weeks before I got the final photos in hand (and that’s after paying for rush delivery, lol). I tell ya, having a pair of professional photographers for a brother and sister-in-law has really spoiled me! 😉

Anyway, all that waiting was well-worth it, as I finally received the finished photos last night and I JUST– I DON’T– I CAN’T EVEN– I– I– I– I mean, just see for yourself:

The package I purchased from the photographer included 4 fully edited photos and 5 additional, unedited shots. I had to parse through every single shot taken at the shoot (over FOUR HUNDRED OF THEM for us alone!) to decide which ones I wanted, and ended up choosing the above four for the full editing treatment. Then below are two more of the unedited shots they handed over to me, that I edited on my own. I may not know how to photoshop things out of a picture, but it’s pretty amazing what some well-intentioned cropping can do!

I have to admit, the particular photography company that offers these shoots isn’t the best at handling their communication, and all the waiting with no updates did kinda blow, but I’m obviously very happy with the final result. And believe me, I know how extra it is to have a unicorn photoshoot with your baby… but I mean, c’mon guys. It’s me. ARE YOU EVEN SURPRISED?

I can’t wait to get a really nice canvas print of one of the shots of Penny for her room. But which one do I even choose? Magical Unicorn Teaparty or Cavalry Penny?!

Penny: Nine Months Old

Today you are NINE MONTHS OLD, Penelope Spencer!

I can’t believe we’re 3/4 of the way through your first year of life! Nine months just sounds so… monumental! It’s bittersweet, but that there really is no stopping you growing up, sweet pea. You weigh nineteen pounds, ten ounces and are 28.5″ long (75th and 84th percentiles!). You’re stretching out and starting to lose some of your sweet, squishy rolls. Thankfully, your delicious cheeks remain!

As my last humblebrag post detailed, you’ve reached some seriously incredible achievements this past month. This period between your 8-month and 9-month birthdays has honestly been jaw-dropping! You’re now crawling for-reals-for-reals, you’re pulling yourself up to standing, trying to cruise (!!), pushing yourself up from laying down, reaching for toys, trying to kill yourself by rolling off of every surface I try to change your diaper on… you’re just always on the move! Which certainly made trying to get these photos a bit of a challenge. This was my view most of the time:

My milk supply has gotten back to normal after the severe dip I struggled with last month, and you’re back to nursing & eating like a total champ. We’re working on self-feeding techniques — you’ve got your pincer grasp down, and even get your food into her mouth like a solid 75% percent of the time! You’re a meat-lover like your daddy right now. Protein!

Napping has gotten much longer and more predictable (when you’re at home, that is; it’s a total roll of the dice at daycare, lol). You’ve been giving us pretty solid 1.5 – 2 hour naps more often than not! You also do a very solid 11 – 12 hours overnight, so I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m Googling “is my baby sleeping too much?”. I know some babies just need more sleep than others though, and that a lot of other parents would kill for a baby that sleeps as much as you do right now, lol. I’m chalking it up to the fact that your little brain is doing SO MUCH right now, and that it’ll probably lessen as you master all of these brand new skills.

It’s really fun to see you play with toys so much more purposefully and intently. Your current favorite toys are your Sit-to-Stand Walker and your Rock ‘n’ Glow Unicorn, and your favorite way to play with every other toy you own is to pull them out of your toy bins and throw them all across the living room, hehe.

You also finally (FINALLY!) seem to really like the dogs. And since you keep tossing your food down to them when you’re done eating, not to mention just straight up feeding them your teething crackers, they’re finally starting to really like you too. 😉

We love you so incredibly much, you funny, sweet, wonderful little thing, you!