Mouse in the House!

Halloween is almost here! For Penny’s first Halloween last year, I was so excited to get her all dressed up and show her off, but let’s be honest: she was basically just a lump in a unicorn costume. So THIS year, as she’s old enough to walk around, enjoy the attention and take in all the hubbub, I’m really having fun with it!

 

Yesterday we got our first taste of Halloween goodness, as the Yelp DC office was hosting a kid’s Halloween party! So I got my little mouse all dressed up and we drove into the city so she could have her first taste of office life (and candy, hehe.)

 

Sean’s working on a new construction site that’s downtown as well, not too far from the Yelp offices, so he was even able to join us!

Yelp’s employee demographic skews preeeeetty young, so there actually aren’t a ton of parents working out of this office. Which means there were really only like, five kids at the party, haha. But luckily one of them was my work bestie‘s adorable daughter, so they got to bond over shared Goldfish from the snack station in the kitchen, and then went trick or treating around the office. Penny loved all the attention! She’s such a people person (wonder where she gets that from?)

 

Not a bad way to kick off the Halloween season, that’s for sure! I’m really looking forward to taking in more fun Halloween activities as we get closer to the actual holiday, too. Her daycare is having a little trick or treating festival tomorrow evening, and then in the weeks to come there are Mall-o-weens and Ghost Trains and all kinds of fun. I love this time of year!!!

Slytherin Hair, Hufflepuff Spirit

Those of you who have been longtime readers of this blog know that at one point in time, I was a daily blogger. Yes, every single weekday, and even some weekends if there was anything particularly exciting to report, I would open up a fresh post page in WordPress and type, type, type my heart out. I would detail everything from my latest weigh-in what I made for dinner the night before, to what I had been up to that weekend, to just all of the random thoughts that ran through my noggin.

Of course, part of the reason for that daily blogging was the accountability I so desperately needed to keep myself on track with weight loss, but another (rather sizeable) contributing factor was the fact that my job, well, let’s just say it didn’t exactly keep me busy 100% of the time. And during the rare times when I was busy, I was doing things I wasn’t exactly jazzed about having to do. So what better way to keep myself from going cuckoo behind a cubicle than to take to the magic of the world wide interwebs, right?

Well, as it turns out, me running to this very blog on an almost-daily basis was the very thing that honed my writing and social media skills to the point where I was able to land a full-time job that took advantage of those very things. A job that honestly felt tailor-made for me. My dream job. (I know how obnoxious it is that I still say stuff like that, but, hey, honest is as honest does!)

But, of course, suddenly having a job that not only required more of my time, but that I also wanted to devote time to, meant that I found myself starkly lacking in that ho-hum, what-to-do-what-to-do downtime where I was able to do a lot of my blogging. And so, those daily posts suddenly dropped to a few times a week. Then maybe once a week. And now… well, I think we all know I’m not the greatest at updating frequently.

And the funny thing about blogging, for me, at least, is that the longer you stay away, the harder it is to jump back. Logically, you’d think it’d be the opposite scenario. I mean, I have so much to report on, so many things to tell you about, so many photos to embed, I should be cranking out post after post, right? But it’s actually more like, there’s so much to say, I don’t really know where to start.

Funny, right? When I was writing at least 5 times a week, I rarely struggled to come up with content, and yet here I am with a multi-part dream vacation, a very stressful and frightening hospital stay for my dog Harry (don’t worry, he’s okay now, thank goodness), a friend’s wedding, and tons of events, cooking expeditions, and restaurant recaps stirring around in my brain, and I hardly even know where to start.

Well, I guess I should follow Fraulein Maria’s advice and start at the very beginning, eh?

A couple of weeks ago, Sean and I headed down to sunny Florida for a vacation that basically consisted of all the best possible things in life: my niece Mia, Harry Potter, Disney, a cruise, Sean’s birthday, the Kennedy Space Center, and, of course, more Harry Potter. (Duh.)

It was a pretty long trip and as you can see, we did quite a few different things, so I’ll try to tackle this chronologically. The trip can essentially be broken up into thirds. Part I consisted of being together with my sister, brother-in-law, and Mia, who drove over from Georgia to visit Universal Studios and Disney’s Magic Kingdom with us!

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Mia’s first trip to Disney, though she will not in any way, shape, or form remember it, was so much fun! I’m sure I would have still had fun even if it was just us “grown ups” touring Magic Kingdom, but I have to admit that it’s all the more special with a little princess in tow.

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And even though I’m sure parts of it were really overwhelming, I think Mia really had a great time! We basically had to pry her off of the teacups, and she was so excited to meet Belle, well, see for yourself. She was literally head over heels for her. 😉

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I will, of course, do a much, much (much much much much) more detailed post on Diagon Alley, the newest part of the Universal Studios Theme Park and literally the most magical place on Earth, but for now, suffice it to say that it was absolutely amazing and perfect and wonderful and I almost cried but didn’t quite so be proud of me.

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Just a couple of gals hanging out on Sirius Black’s flying motorbike, nbd.
Sean absolutely gets full marks for being so wonderful through all my insane fangirling, of course. For someone who has only read the first three Harry Potter books, has only seen like movies 1, 2, and 8 (or something equally as ridiculous), and doesn’t exactly have the Disney-obsessed gene that tends to run in my bloodline, he was an incredibly good sport.

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I did not actually end up buying him the “Best Boyfriend” award pictured above, but those of you fearing for Sean’s sanity after what he went through on this trip, don’t worry. Part 2 of our trip was a lot more fun for him, I promise. 🙂

After we said goodbye to Jenny, Dan, and Mia, it was time for Part II of our trip! Sean and I took the world’s most expensive Uber ride about an hour east from Orlando to Port Canaveral — we were going on a cruise! See, my old man’s 30th birthday just happened to coincide with this trip, so I figured that a nice, relaxing 3-day Bahamian cruise was just the ticket to make sure he got a chance to really enjoy this vacation too.

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PS: Traveling as a couple and trying to get pictures together = having to choose between taking yet another selfie OR awkwardly asking other couples if they’ll take a picture of you, since only they truly know your plight.
We were on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, and the cruise was very nice — lots of downtime, relaxing, and, of course, eating! Oh boy, so much food… it’s really a good thing the cruise was only three days, I tell you what. We left from Port Canaveral and stopped in Nassau, Bahamas, and then we were also set to stop at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s “private island,” but unfortunately some really bad winds meant we had to skip it, as the water was too choppy to risk taking tender boats to the shore.

Oh well, being on the boat is where most of the fun in cruising is at, anyway, right? I mean, I managed to win $20 in the casino off of a $5 initial investment, so I’m thinking things went preeeeetty well for us. 😉

We actually ended up returning to Florida ON Sean’s birthday, so we headed just a few miles out from Port Canaveral to the Kennedy Space Center’s Vistor Complex and spent most of the day nerding out about space. (Sidenote: we also just saw Interstellar over this past weekend and I tell ya, it was a good combination to have just visited the Space Center, heh.)

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Sean’s a big space nut, so he had a great time checking out the old rockets, the space shuttle Atlantis, and all other sorts of nifty space-race history stuff while we were there. And as for me? Well, I may be as much of a space enthusiast as Sean, but I definitely learned a lot…

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Finally, we ended the day with Sean’s birthday dinner at Luma on Park, a fantastic restaurant that came recommended by my coworker and the Orlando Community Manager for Yelp (she does what I do here, only there.)

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And that successfully wraps up both Parts I and II of our trip! Whew! For those of you still reading, I’m pretty impressed that you made it. And fear not, I shall save Part III for another day, since it pretty much just consists of going back to Harry Potter World, shamelessly geeking out, and totally, utterly, completely loving my life.

Slytherin hair, Hufflepuff spirit.

Hopefully at least getting a significant chunk of my big trip down on paper (so to speak) will help me funnel my blogging mojo back into some semblance of normalcy. I definitely have more to report on, so stay tuned! Especially those of you who are looking for more of an in-depth look at the new Diagon Alley part of Universal Studios, hehe. Oh man, there are so many more ridiculous pictures to come…

‘Til next time!

A Frozen Birthday

I know that this update is woooooefully overdue, but hey, better late than never, right? My birthday weekend… week… let’s be honest I’m still celebrating… was absolutely wonderful, and a huge part of what made it oh-so-magical was, indeed, the Frozen-themed birthday party that I had!

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I’ll primarily let the photos do the talking, but as you will see, it was most definitely a good (and super delicious!) time.

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Do you wanna build a snowman?

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Hi, I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs!

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We are not so into the warm hugs.

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Well, okay, Harry’s not totally opposed.

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You can’t have a Frozen-themed party without a few touches of Spring. 🙂

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The spread!

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“I mean, it’s crazy, we finish each other’s–”
“–sandwiches.”
“That’s what I was gonna say!”

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“And maybe it’s the party talking, or the chocolate fondue…”

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These amaaaaazing, adorable, and totally, totally delicious miniature cakes (as well as the finger sammies!) were made by my friend Jessica (who I actually met thanks to this very blog! #fullcircle) They are insanely awesome flavors like “Blueberry Elderflower” and “Raspberry Lavender” — and I still have like three extra ones in my fridge, bwahahaha.

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Daxter singing along to “Let It Go” 😉

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Caketime!

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My friend Megan may or may not have also brought ACTUALLY frozen cake, hehe:

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SUGAR IS THE BEST.

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We also threw a little bit of Tangled into the mix and sent off a wish lantern at the end of the night! Warning to the wise, these things are a huge pain in the butt to light, haha.

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Also, FIRE IS TERRIFYING.

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Make a wish!

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Another wonderful way to usher in my latest turn around the sun! Any suggestions for next year’s theme? Right now I’m leaning towards a Pokemon theme, but that may be fairly heavily influenced by the fact that I attended AwesomeCon over the weekend here in DC, ahahaha.

Reflection

First, and foremost:

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea how much your kind words of support and encouragement in response to my bare all (literally!) progress pics page mean to me. You guys really are the best, and I am so grateful to have your continued enthusiasm and support as I continue this journey (and hello? So wouldn’t have made it this far without you!)

Secondly, you shall observe:

A little Mulan love, please? I promise that this will be relevant…ish. Yesterday was a big day of self-reflection for me, for obvious reasons. Celebrating my blogiversary was (is?) a really exciting thing, and a milestone I’m thrilled to achieve, but I spent most of the day freaking out about the other page that went up in conjunction and didn’t really get to enjoy it.

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Guess it really is a good thing we had a preemptive family celebration on Sunday, eh?

I mean, it’s understandable, right? I did post pictures of myself at my most vulnerable. I was 246 lbs, forcing myself to take a photo of myself in a bikini for posterity. You probably can’t tell in the picture itself, but I was bawling mere moments before taking it. And probably for several hours after.

Don’t get me wrong! I am glad I took the photos, and have this physical record of the changes that I’ve made over the past year. Even though I know I look different — I see pictures, and I do hear what people say, sometimes it’s still hard to see. Living in my body, seeing myself in the mirror every day, it’s not as easy for me to accept that I don’t look like that anymore. That I’m not really even that person anymore. But I have changed. I am changed.

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December 2009

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The family with my cousin Christine this past Saturday

Logically, I know this: I see the numbers on the scale and I am cognizant of the fact that they are lower than they used to be. This is a fact.

Mentally, I know this: I feel the fit of my pants. I witness the piles of clothes stacking up outside my bedroom door that are too big to wear. I see the number on the tag and I realize it is lower than it used to be. These are facts.

But emotionally? It’s still hard to really see myself. As I am. All that I am. Here, now. To see my new reflection: as the girl I’ve always been inside, hiding behind the wall and under the fat.

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Oh, Caribbean cruise… so wise. I think I need to go back. Stat.

See? I told you it’d end up being relevant, hehe. You gotta have a little faith in me, folks — I always bring it full circle!

So yes, Mulan is obviously my favorite Disney princess because, uh, duh? She’s A…wesome. C’mon, what did you think I was gonna say? Bahaha.

Okay, seriously. Disney movies will always be loved and adored because they remind us of the things we most want to see in ourselves. The ability to stand up for what’s right. To stand up for ourselves. For good to always, always conquer evil.

So taking a tip from my homegirl from my homeland (well, half of it anyway), I’m going to try harder to really see myself. As vain as that may sound, heh.

Before I let you go, can we please just acknowledge that the best song in that movie is obviously this one:

As you’ve gone along in your weight loss or fitness journey, have you ever found it hard to accept or recognize the progress you’ve made for yourself?

Don’t worry if you have, Mister. I’ll make a man out of you.