Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 1 (Her Birthday!)

HOLY MOLY. What a weekend!

Between all the fun we had on Penny’s actual birthday, her party, and her baptism the day after that, we really packed a LOT into this Labor Day Weekend, I tell you what. And yes, it probably goes without saying that I am absolutely, thoroughly, completely exhausted. But, it should also go without saying that, yes, it was worth it. My sister and her whole family came into town for the weekend festivities, and we just had a whole lot of awesome family togetherness in celebration of our little Princess Penny.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

On Thursday morning, Sean and I both went in to greet the birthday girl with balloons and lots of cheer. She was definitely thrown off a bit by the morning greeting (normally, Sean has already left at work by the time she wakes up), but got into the spirit very quickly!

I’m so ridiculous, I even made a conscious effort to ensure I was wearing my own donut jammies to match hers. And I’m going to go ahead and say I was approximately 1084% more excited about the fact that it was her birthday than she was… she did like playing with the balloons tho.

 

Sean left for work, and I fed Penny breakfast, got her changed, and then we headed into Falls Church to meet up with the rest of my family (minus my brother-in-law and Mia, who flew in Friday evening because Mia’s in — gasp! — real school now.)

 

Then my dad, my sister, and I (plus Penny, Kira, and Alex) all hopped on the Metro and took a jaunt into the city to visit the National Building Museum! They had a really cool exhibit called Fun House going on this summer (sadly its last day was September 3rd), and it was a total kiddo paradise.

 

Penny and Alex were definitely on the young side to be able to appreciate all of the element of Fun House, but they still had a great time — and Kira had the time of her life!

 

The whole exhibit was kind of like a cool, architectural, playhouse twist on the idea of house and home, with different rooms and different fun spins on the things that exist in a house.

One of the biggest draws of the Fun House exhibit was the giant pool in the “backyard,” which was like 5 feet deep and filled with thousands and thousands of ball pit balls. I tried not to think about all of the thousands of people who had been in that ball pit prior to us, and jumped in with both feet (literally).

 
Instagram vs. Reality

And there’s some kind of metaphor for motherhood here, I can feel it:

 

After our time at the Fun House (which already left me feeling pretty wiped — getting out of an adult-sized ballpit is no small feat!), we had a quick lunch nearby at Bantam King and then headed home.

We got the babies down for an epic nap (and even Kira fell asleep!), hung out for a bit, and eventually saddled everyone up to head back out. This time, to the mall!

Build-A-Bear Workshops has a promotion where if you bring your child in during the month of their birthday, you can pay their age (!) for a special birthday bear! Hey, a $1 bear? Sign me up! My whole family and I (including Ben, Taylor, and Marjorie this time) met up with Sean at Tysons Corner, and then all went together to get Penny’s first Build-A-Bear together! (I think when the whole Powell-Robinson-Fox clan rolled up into the BAB, three strollers deep, I think the girls behind the register got a little panicked, hahahaha.)

 

I was planning on just getting her the plain $1 birthday bear, but Penny’s PoPo (the Chinese term for Maternal Grandmother, pronounced “Paw Paw”) wanted to trick out her bear, so this bear went home with some unicorn jammies and a song inside! Thanks PoPo!

  

Finally, we ended the already epic day with a family dinner at the Nordstrom Cafe, where Penny feasted on a birthday dinner of grilled salmon, green beans, roasted potatoes, and the fluffy insides of all my bread rolls. And we all slept hard that night!

Much of Friday was spent running errands and prepping for the party that would be happening the next day. I was feeling pretty anxious about all the things I wanted to get done, but managed to sneak in a very quick (and lazy, lol) workout at the gym and also slipped away to enjoy a ladies’ night out with my sister and our friends Anne & Lara!

I’d been looking for an occasion to check out Cheesetique’s newest location in Mosaic, and this was the perfect night for it! Four baby-free mamas out on the town? Hot diggity dog! My cocktail & the food we shared (which was like, twice as much as what’s even pictured below, hahahaha) was all excellent — if you’re local and looking for a great spot, I definitely recommend. Get the tot poutine and thank me later!

 

And that brings us up to Saturday which, of course, was party day! But since Penny’s birthday party comes with a whole truckload of photos and details in and of itself, and this post has already turned into quite a lengthy one, I think I’ll save it for tomorrow. Hope everyone has had a somewhat smooth transition back into the week after the long weekend! See you on the flipside!

Penny: Twelve Months Old

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the sappy emotional post out of the way, I think it’s time we round off one amazing year of Penny updates, don’t you?

Today, my little bean is twelve months old. This is sometimes referred to as ONE YEAR OLD! Gah!!!!

That’s right, kiddo. Throw those hands in the air like you just don’t care. We have successfully kept an actual human child alive for 365 days. 365 sunrises and 365 sunsets and 365 sleeps and 365 wakes and holy crap, if that isn’t just the coolest, craziest thing!

I know, kid. Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you.

Penny stands 30″ tall and weighs 21 lbs, 14 oz. That puts here in the 86th and 82nd percentiles for height and weight, respectively. She’s in 12-18 month clothing, size 4 diapers, and is just about to grow out of a size 3 shoe. Looks like I’m gonna be allowed to buy more baby shoes soon! Hehe.

While she has taken her first unassisted step (!!), she’s not really walking yet, but she certainly doesn’t let that stop her from getting into all sorts of trouble! 😉 I thought our friendly nugget would be a Hufflepuff like mama, but this little daredevil definitely has a Gryffindor spirit. Climbing up sofa backs, cruising and crawling into and under and around every piece of furniture, descending from armchairs without hesitation… she’s fearless!

We have officially transitioned her from formula to whole cow’s milk, and she hasn’t had any issues with the change, so we remain as lucky as ever when it comes to our great little eater! She’s still got just the two teeth, and her current favorite foods are french toast, bananas, meatballs, tomatoes, and, to no one’s surprise, DONUTS!

She’ll finally pay attention to the TV for a hot second, but really only if Mother Goose Club is playing, hehe. Her favorite songs are “Wheels on the Bus,” “Hey, Mister Sun,” “Baby Shark,” and “Freight Train,” which of course means I am slowly being driven insane because once these songs enter your ear, THEY NEVER LEAVE. My brain’s lullaby to me every night is “Mommy SHARK DOO DOO DOO-DOO DOO-DOO.” -_-

Regardless, I think it’s pretty clear that Penny continues to thrive, and we just couldn’t be prouder or happier with the beautiful, sociable, happy, kind, smart little TODDLER she is becoming. Happy birthday, Princess! We love you!!!

Feeling nostalgic? You can see all her previous growth updates here: 1 week, 4 weeks1 month2 months11 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, and 11 months. Whew!

Dear Penny: Happy First Birthday

Dear Penny,

I lived for 29 years before I knew you. 29 years as a daughter, sister, friend. 29 years learning and growing and trying to be a mostly good person… at least as much as a self-focused, immensely self-absorbed person can be.

29 years before you took your first breath.

The breath that changed everything. Turned my whole world on its axis. Suddenly and swiftly cut my entire life into two very distinct, very separate parts: before you, and after you. And I can barely even remember what it was like before. Not to say that my life prior to becoming your mother didn’t matter, or wasn’t important, of course it was. But it’s just memories and feelings, and you’re here, real, vibrant, and alive.

Your existence brings every moment of my life into sharper focus (aside from all the foggy, forgotten things that have been lost due to mom brain, that is.) I see the joy in our daily lives with so much more clarity, and I feel the sadnesses of the world much more heavily. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you have made me a better person. After 29 years of laziness, inaction, and lots of talk but little follow-through, you make me want to better our world. To implement change — in myself, in our lives together, in the world as a whole.

You opened my heart in a way I never knew was possible, and you cut the very ties that bound me to my selfish way of thinking.

Your birth changed me in the most incredible, most unpredictable, best possible way. I know, I know, it’s all just so cheesy. This next bit possibly being the worst offender. It’s ridiculous to say aloud, let alone type and chronicle forever in the hallowed halls of the internet. But you will come to learn very quickly (if you don’t already know) that your mama is one of the most ridiculous people you’ll ever meet. And I dunno, I just kind of… own it.

August 30th, 2017 was the day you were born, but it was the day I was reborn.

This has been the absolute best year of my entire life. Yes, it’s also been the craziest, most challenging, humbling, overwhelming, frustrating, all-in-all incredible year, but I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. Seeing you change, grow, learn… it’s the most beautiful thing, and I’ve had the extreme blessing of being able to witness almost every single second of it with you.

You are so, so, so incredibly loved. Happy birthday, baby.

 

 

Day in the Life – 1st Birthday Week

Hi friends!

It’s been a minute since I’ve popped in with a Day in the Life post (despite all my intentions and promises to do them more frequently — they’re surprisingly time-consuming and also time is like, this insane, ridiculously fast, totally cruel thing right now and somehow it’s already been 6 months since my last one of these?!??!?

A-hem, anyway…

6:30 AM: I hear Penny start to stir via the baby monitor, but she’s just happily chattering and playing in her crib when I check the video feed, so I promptly throw a pillow over my head and try to go back to sleep. “Try” is the operative word, since I’ve been having a very difficult time falling and staying asleep lately, so while I don’t end up going back to sleep, I do lay there cursing and contemplating my existence for a while, lol.

7:10 AM: Penny, on the other hand, does fall back asleep because I leave her in there too long, HA! I finally drag my butt out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face (I use LATHER’s Ultra Mild Face Wash in the AM), throw on some moisturizer, and get dressed.

I got a new sports bra and leggings set from Torrid’s Harry Potter line, and I. AM. OBSESSED. They have the Marauder’s Map print all over them, but are dark, and they’re really flattering. Score!

I also take my daily vitamins and pack up a bag with my laptop, planner, and water bottle, and then settle down to do a quick morning meditation on the Calm app.

7:30 AM: I finally go downstairs to get Penny, and she wakes back up when I enter the room. She’s so happy to see me! I give her a bottle, change her diaper, and get her dressed. I also let the dogs out and give them breakfast.

8:00 AM: Off to daycare! Penny goes to daycare twice a week, and I try to get her there by 8:30 because that’s when they serve breakfast. Attendance is a lot lighter during the summer (though I’m sure that will change starting very soon, since it’s back to school week in VA!) so there are only four other babies in there right now — three of whom are named Charlotte, I kid you not.

8:30 AM: I stop at Starbucks to grab a bite & some caffeine and get a little bit of work done. Usually I head straight to the gym after dropping her off (or I bring her with me if it’s a non-daycare day), but I have a few work things that I’d like to get out of the way first thing. Plus, you know, coffee. And food.

 

I grab a Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich and an Iced Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte, as well as a protein box to snack on later. I tackle my inbox, respond to messages on Yelp, schedule some calls, work some behind-the-scenes magic, submit my weekly newsletter, and check the reviews from the event I hosted last week.

I also pick up a gift card for one of Penny’s daycare teachers, since it’s her birthday tomorrow! We normally don’t attend on Wednesdays, but I asked if we could switch days so that I can keep her with me on her actual birthday this week.

10:30 AM: Gym time! I was supposed to have a session with a personal trainer yesterday, but he had to cancel at the last-minute. I’ve been trying to connect with him to reschedule, but we haven’t been successful in finding a new time, so I stop by the personal training desk to see if I can get scheduled. They slate me in for next week with a new trainer, so I’m still on my own for a little while!

 

I do a little under 20 minutes on the lateral elliptical (which I only discovered yesterday but is, like, weirdly fun?!) to warm up, then it’s over to the weights area. I do the following set 3 times:

– 20 seconds high-resistance rope pulls
– 8 front-side-back lunges
– 10 ventral & lateral raises (with calf raises)
– 12 side dips
– 12 tricep dips
– 8 donkey kicks on each side
– a 2-minute knee-plank

 

It doesn’t actually seem like that much when it’s written down, but I am basically just a puddle by the time I’m halfway through my second set. WHEW.

 

11:30 AM: I head home, snacking on some of the protein box I got at Starbucks earlier on the way. As soon as I get home, I let the dogs out, and then jump in the shower to rinse off.

 

I also take the opportunity to refresh my hair color by adding some dye to my conditioner. It’s a tricky balance, because I want my color to look fresh for the party on Saturday, but the fresher it is, the more it bleeds when it gets wet. And since the chances of me not being at least a little bit sweaty during the party are basically zil (I’m a really sweaty person, lol), I need to make sure I have a few buffer days / showers beforehand.

12:00 PM: I settle in to do some more work, and also start drafting up this blog post (it’s much easier if I jot things down as I go through my day, rather than try to remember everything later.)

When I check my phone, I see that daycare has sent me some photos! They use an app to keep me apprised of all her diapers, food, and naps (rare and fleeting though they are), and can also send me photos! Depending on how busy they are, sometimes I get one photo, sometimes I get a whole bunch.

Luckily, today looks like the latter — I get a little photo recap of the fun outdoor adventure they went on this morning! I guess it tired her out, because according to the app she’s also currently napping — miracle! (Although, it ends up only being a 30 minute nap… so not really so miraculous. But I’ll take it because sometimes she doesn’t nap at daycare AT ALL.)

2:00 PM: Lunchtime! I really should have eaten something before now, but I got totally caught up in work. I’m starrrrving! I’m trying to clear out our fridge to make space for the birthday party food I’m going to have to pick up before Saturday, so it’s a big ol’ hodgepodge lunch of leftovers: braised pork, spaghetti squash carbonara, steamed broccoli, noodles with spaghetti sauce, and a keto cheesecake cup that my MIL made.

I also unload clean dishes from the dishwasher while everything’s heating up. Bonus: my Fitbit lets me know that I’ve hit my step goal! Whoop!

2:30 PM: I sit back down at my desk and eat while doing more work / semi-watching The Office for the 1923487th time. I also take a quick break from eating for a phone call with a restaurant I’m working with for an upcoming event.

3:00 PM: The dog groomer arrives (we use a mobile groomer that comes to our house), and thank Heaven, because these shaggy pups really need a shave! Old man Harry is up first!

  

4:00 PM: While the groomer is still busy with Harry, I quickly run out to pick Penny up from daycare. (I let the groomer know.) In an attempt to try and keep her from falling asleep on the 5 minute drive home, I chat with her super animatedly and look suuuuper crazy (windows are also down, ha!). She’s soooooo exhausted!

I put her down in her crib as soon as we get back, and she passes out immediately.

4:20 PM: And right on cue, Harry is done, looking dapper as all get-out, and it’s Daxter’s turn!

While Penny (and Harry, heh) are napping, I wrap up the rest of my work to-do list for today, then decide to tackle a few of my birthday party projects! First up, her party guestbook. I made a big photo mosaic out of all of Penny’s Outfit of the Day photos and got it printed as a poster that I’m hoping folks will sign! I also got a second poster printed with her monthly photos in case we need extra room. I use double-sided tape to mount them both on some foam board to keep them sturdy and flat. I also finish a task I started yesterday: punching out the donuts from some free printables that I found online for table scatter.

 

I also try (for the fourteenth thousandth time) to organize my thoughts enough to write my “Dear Penny” birthday blog post, but I get too emotional (again) and don’t make a ton of progress. I’m not emotionally stable enough for this! Only two more days…

5:30 PM: Sean’s home! It’s so nice to have some in-person adult conversation finally — since I didn’t have any meetings today, it’s actually been a bit of an isolating day. One downside of working from home, I guess! (And a very small downside in the grand scheme — I love working from home.) We hang out for a bit and we go through the whole “How was your day, honey?” married-people thing, hehe.

6:05 PM: Penny is STILL asleep! I finally have to go wake her up, and she makes it VERY clear that she was not done sleeping, lol.

 

We spend some time cuddling and she cheers up pretty quickly though. 🙂

 

6:15 PM: Dinnertime! For Penny, at any rate, and it’s BRINNER! Lately, I’ve been seeing everyone and their mom feasting on Kodiak Cakes — a high-protein pancake mix — so I picked some up when I was at Target yesterday. Penny goes BANANAS for the pancakes, and also for the actual bananas we give her alongside them. She can now say the word “Nana!”

6:20 PM: Daxter is finally done. Whew! This shaggy pup took a really long time. But hey, it’s like we got a brand new dog! I feed the dogs — my mom made them some special mix-ins (with chicken and carrots and stuff) that they go craaaazy for, so unlike their breakfast kibble which sat untouched for most of the morning, they gobble their dinner up.

  

6:30 PM: It’s playtime! I know she’s been playing all day at daycare, but finally I can get in on some of the action! She is so much fun these days — really into playing with toys, really interactive, and really smart! She figures out how to put a smaller cup into a larger cup, proving that she is basically a genius. (I get entirely too excited when I realize she’s learned this new skill — hence her expression in the third photo above ahahahaha.)

  

7:20 PM: Alas, all good things must come to an end, and eventually it’s time for bed! Since she napped so late, we push bedtime a bit later (it’s usually at 7), and honestly I would be fine with keeping her up even later, but she’s already showing signs of being tired! Girl’s got a strong internal bedtime clock, what can I say?

 

I change her into her jammies, give her a bottle, and we read a book.

Then Sean brings her down to her room, turns on her sound machine, zips up her sleep sack, and puts her to bed! She quietly plays with her stuffies for about half an hour (she loves stroking her stuffed unicorn’s mane, it’s the cutest thing ever), and then is down for the count.

7:45 PM: After she goes down, Sean and I get to eat some dinner ourselves at last! I just heat up the rest of the pasta & broccoli leftovers — it’s not a very exciting day, eats-wise, but at least it’s productive. Now we actually have some space in the fridge! Sean makes some udon noodle soup.

We tend to operate pretty autonomously at home, so I have dinner while working on this blog post (and watching more Netflix, naturally), and he plays some computer games.

10:20 PM: Whew, I’m beat! Man, I used to be able to stay up so late… but with my Penny alarm clock, those days are definitely behind me. I start the dishwasher, let the dogs out one last time, schedule this post to run in the morning, and go through my nighttime routine: skincare (lately I’m using BeautyCounter’s Countermatch cleansing milk and am really loving it! I’ve also been experimenting with various essential oils), brush my teeth, pop on my pjs, and hit the sack.

10:40 PM: Well, I try to hit the sack. As I mentioned above, sleep has been a bit elusive for me lately, so I put on a guided sleep meditation session through the Calm app with the hopes that it’ll help quell the tossing & turning. And that’s a wrap on today! Goodnight!

Donut Grow Up!

It’s here! It’s finally here! It’s Penny’s birthday week! And to kick things off, I thought I’d finally share the Donut Smash photoshoot that I did for her when we were in Atlanta visiting my sister. You may have already seen most of these photos if you follow me on Instagram (and, uh, all of them if we’re friends on Facebook, since I just couldn’t wait, hehe), but my totally unbiased opinion is that they’re great enough to warrant a second look, hehe.

I was nervous about being able to pull off this photoshoot, and contemplated hiring a professional photographer several times because I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the feel, look, and shots that I was hoping for. I figured as long as I just got one good picture of her digging into a donut, though, it would be fine.

 

(Tip: I got the donuts for her shoot from Dunkin’ Donuts, and the amount of sprinkles was laughably sparse. So I used a spray bottle to re-wet the icing and dumped a truckload of extra sprinkles on top — made for a much more photogenic donut spread!)

Anyway, as I think you can see, it turned out all that worry was for naught! Penny was a total photoshoot ROCKSTAR. She was so well-behaved, in such a good mood, I actually ended up with way too many perfect shots! Girl just really loves donuts, I guess. 😉

 

 

Yep, totally worth the intense sugar crash we all experienced after the photoshoot, hehe. (What, like I’m supposed to buy 2 dozen donuts and 50 munchkins and just not eat any of them? HA!) And the perfect way to commemorate our own little munchkin nearing the end of her turn ’round the sun! (And I’m only like 35% in denial right now, so, y’know, progress!)

Donut grow up, Penny — it’s a trap!