Thanksgiving Recap & Christmas Ahoy!

Happy December, everyone!

I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving holiday (though I know I’m already like, 2 weeks late on the well-wishes for that… it’s been busy around here!). Sean, Penny, my parents, and I all joined Sean’s family for Thanksgiving this year, and it was epic. Penny enjoyed turkey but really went wild for the homemade mac ‘n’ cheese that I contributed to dinner, which made me swell with pride.

We also had a mini-second-Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house with Ben, Taylor, and Marnie (who spent actual Turkey Day with Tay’s family) and because of course my mom randomly happened to have an entire second turkey that she needed to cook. Oh well, any excuse for more tryptophan-induced food comas is A-OK by me!

Going back to my parents’ house this week also gave us the opportunity to help my dad pull out some holiday decorations, and had me tripping down memory lane when I found an old photo album filled with baby pictures of yours truly! Which confirmed what lots of strangers stop to tell me anytime I’m out with Penny, which is that she really is my mini!!

 

Well, my strawberry-blonde, blue-eyed mini. ūüėČ

And actually, turns out I got quite a bit of extra time in with my parents over Thanksgiving week, since the weekend after I went with them to the Kennedy Center to see the National Symphony Orchestra’s Decade of Disney concert.

 

Sadly, my Thanksgiving weekend did not end on a tremendously high note, as Sunday I came down with some kind of crazy stomach bug / food poisoning / some kinda something that had me hugging the porcelain throne all night long. UGH. Not sure what happened there, but it had me pretty much out of commission for most of Sunday and Monday. Blech.

I’m feeling much better now, but between getting sick after returning from Atlanta, Thanksgiving, and then that lovely ’bout of illness, it had been a seriously hot minute since I’d been to the gym or worked out at all. I also made the potentially grave error of agreeing to a Christmas Eve 5K with my sister and some friends, however, so I knew that I needed to get back on the horse soon.

I felt better on Tuesday, so I managed to drag myself to the gym and put in a half-hearted workout. Not great, but it was something. And then on Wednesday and Friday, I managed to do some real running and real lifting. Training-wise, even on the mend from being sick, I managed to make it to 1.6 miles, so hopefully by the time 12/24 rolls around I’ll actually be able to do the full 5K.

  

Anyway, that pretty much catches us up to today! And as today is, y’know, December, this officially means we are BRINGING ON THE CHRISTMAS CHEER!!

You can find me (and Penny… and the dogs…) dressed festively for the next 22 days and I’m not even a little bit sorry.

 

On the work-front, I’ve got my regional summit the first half of this upcoming week, so I’ll be camping out at Yelp’s DC office pretty much nonstop for the next couple of days. We all had dinner together last night, and it was great — I love getting to see so many of my coworkers (we all work remotely, so it’s one of the few opportunities each year for all of us to get together), but as I’m sure anyone who’s ever had a work conference derail your daily duties a bit, it’s also for sure going to make for a bit of a crazy week.

And even though I so treasure this time spent with my regional team, it is a teeeeny bit bittersweet. I mean, it’s really only because I’m so spoiled, but even though Penny goes to daycare twice a week, I’ve never had to worry about stuff like traffic and commuting during rush hour — this morning will be my first taste of that. So I’m dropping her off extra early and will just have make peace with the fact that the 20 minutes I spent with her first thing in the morning is the only time I’m gonna get with my girl over the next couple of days (since I’ll be getting home loooooong after she’s gone to bed.) I know, I know, this is the daily reality for tons of parents so I should probably just shut my face. It’s just not my¬†daily reality, so it makes me a little wistful. Also, she hardly eeeeeever naps at daycare so, you know, pray for Sean.

Anyway, on that optimistic note, I’ll bid you adieu for now! Hope everyone has a super fun, festive week as we really start getting into the holiday spirit, and Happy Hanukkah to my friends who are celebrating!

 

Happy Powellween!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween yesterday!

This little owl finally delivered my Hogwarts letter — although she’s pretty terrible at her job, tbh, since it arrived about 19 years late. Good thing she’s so cute!

While it wasn’t technically Penny’s 1st Halloween, we did take her trick or treating for the first time, and it was so much fun! Even if she still didn’t really have any idea what was going on, or why I kept putting the hood of her costume back up every time she ripped it off.

We made it to six whole houses around the neighborhood, and by the last couple she was starting to get the idea of walking up to the door and holding out her bucket, so I’d call it a rousing success!

And while it wasn’t Penny’s first Halloween, it was her cousin Marnie’s!

So we got some more use out of Penny’s unicorn costume from last year, and the two of them together was honestly almost too much cuteness to handle.

The weather yesterday was also pretty much perfect. After so many days of wet, chilly, dreary weather, the warm, sunny, and beautiful Autumn day was such a welcome surprise!

My parents and I took advantage pre-trick-or-treating by taking Penny, Harry the lion, and Daxter the Monkey out for a nice leisurely walk.

Between Halloween, regular work stuff, and my coworker’s big event that I’m helping out at today, this week has been crazy busy. Actually, the weekend was jam-packed, too! My dad’s birthday was on Saturday, and then on Sunday, Sean and I tried to take in more Halloweeny goodness with Penny (though the event we went to was so crazy packed, we barely spent any time there at all, lol.)

 

Throw in a couple playdates, and things have actually been non-stop for a while! Which, of course, explains why I haven’t been back here to blog in a while, and also sadly why thus far this week I’ve only been able to work out once.

Luckily (?) the workout was a barre class taught by my friend on Monday, and it kicked my butt so hard that I’m still pathetically sore today. And these big Yelper Party events like the one I’m off to shortly tend to easily make me double my daily steps (and then some), so at least I’ll still be shaking out some of this soreness?

This weekend brings more fun and craziness with it, with Sean’s birthday, a friend’s birthday party, brunch, and then my own event on Monday night. But next week Penny and I are headed back to visit my sister, so just powering on through ’til then!

Happy November, everyone!

A Great Weekend

Soooooo yeah. Last week was a bit of a bear. We had a crazy, sad, sniffly, sick-tastic week, wherein not only did our poor precious Penny fight off her own dual sicknesses (hand, foot, and mouth disease AND an ear infection), but Sean also caught HFM and I got sick with an undetermined illness of my own (lol cry sob).

Anyway, I am ecstatic to announce that despite last weekend and the first part of the week being sad and sick, we ended up having a really great weekend!

Everyone was feeling so much better by Friday, thank Goodness! We had a playdate with my friend Sami (Penny’s old nanny) and her daughter. We returned home so that Penny could nap, and when she got up I discovered that I CAN FINALLY PUT PENNY’S HAIR INTO A WHALESPOUT AND PIGTAILS!!!!!!

 

They are incredibly thin and tiny and you can barely even see them but they’re totally adorable and I love them. ::star eyes emoji::

So alas, Sean had to work for the first part of Saturday, but Penny and I had plenty to keep us busy! We started out¬† by heading to the gym for the first time in over a week — yipes. It may not have been my wisest decision to take my first BodyPump class after being sick and sedentary for a week, but I did it! Aaaaaaand I’m ridonkulously sore now but hey, I survived!

 

I’ve been wanting to try BodyPump for a while, since I’ve really been liking lifting weights, and it’s kind of like a cardio weightlifting class? But hot damn, it was hard! Even though you’re lifting relatively light, you’re doing tons of reps and it all moves really quickly. I’m sure it gets easier as you do more classes because you learn what to expect (like with any fitness classes, I’ve found), I just need to make sure I don’t sacrifice proper(ish) form when trying to keep up, because my neck was a little tweaky the next day. I’ll definitely do it again! One of my mama friends belongs to the same gym as me, and does this Saturday morning class a lot, so hopefully having a friend there will help keep me motivated to go, hehe.

Anyway, we had a bit of downtime at home afterwards, then headed to the first birthday for another one of Penny’s little friends, Julianna! It was mermaid themed, and my friend Laura put together a seriously amazing, Pinterest-worthy party. So fun and creative — the clamshell photobooth is something I’m totally filing away for one day when I hopefully get to throw a mermaid-themed party of my own.

 

 

And the partying didn’t end there! That evening we headed to a party with some of Sean’s old college friends. We weren’t sure how long we’d be able to stay what with Penny’s bedtime and all, but she was so chill and happy to play that we ended up staying 2 hours past her bedtime — and she never melted down or anything!¬†She just really didn’t seem tired — she didn’t even fall asleep in the car on the way home until like, 5 minutes before we got back (of course.) And then she slept in until 8:30 Saturday. I mean, miracle kid or what?

 

Finally, we capped off our very nice weekend by heading into DC for brunch Sunday morning. The weather was absolutely gorgeous here yesterday (after literally weeks and weeks of rain) so we also went for a nice walk to enjoy the sunshine. Then finally, our little trio had dinner out at an awesome new Korean BBQ restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for a while! Not a bad weekend at all.

 

In other news, we also had Penny’s 12 month wellness checkup — juuuust a few weeks late, since I didn’t make her appointment in time, lol. Well, actually, I tried to make it like a month before her birthday, but between all the back-to-school physicals and the fact that September is the most popular birth month, a month was not long enough, haha. So, hey, it was more like a 13 month checkup, and since she had been sick, she didn’t even get her shots (she’s going to get them when we go back next week to follow up on her ear infection.)

 

But the good news is that she’s doing great, hitting all her milestones and continuing to dominate the percentile charts! She weighs 22 lbs, 11.3 oz, and is 32 inches tall, which puts her in the 99th percentile for height! (She’s 83rd for weight.) We love our giant girl!

Happy Monday everyone!¬†Here’s hoping we have lots more great weekends like this one on the horizon, because this week is gonna be a doozy. Lots and lots to do, tons of work (including two events), I gotta take my car in to be serviced (something’s wonky with my brake fluid sensor… hopefully… otherwise something’s wrong with my brakes and that would be worse), and I’m trying to start the month off strong fitness wise (I’m doing barre today and have personal training tomorrow.) Plus, therapy tomorrow, two playdates for Penny, and we’re having my parents over for dinner too because, you know, I’m a crazy person. Whew! Better get started!

Atlanta: The Return of Aunt Pookie

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, it’s been quite a couple of weeks ’round these parts! Just a few weeks after our last visit, Penny and I made a return trip to my sister’s in Atlanta to participate in a whole slew of big honkin’ life events. As if the fact that Penny is 11 months old weren’t enough of a reminder of what a cruel thief time is, try throwing my nephew Alex’s first birthday AND my eldest niece Mia’s first day of Kindergarten into the mix!

WHEN DID SHE GET SO GROWN?! ::sob::

 
 
Penny had a grand ol’ time helping Alex with his smash cake after he started slowing down, hehe. And it also really helped whet her appetite — literally — for the donut smash photos that I took of her in preparation of her own upcoming big day!

More of those will be comin’ at you later — I am¬†chomping at the bit¬†to share them all right now but trying my darndest to save them for her actual birthday (just 2.5 weeks away!!!!).

Other great things that happened during this trip included plenty of quality time with my best gal (obvs), quality time with my best sister, working out 7/9 days I was visiting (ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?!), and even getting to spend a day at the pool!

 
 
Oh, right, and also that little thing where me and my 50,000 besties saw Taylor Swift perform. The show was PHENOMENAL — such insanely high production value! Whatever you might think about her or her music (obviously, I’m a big fan, but I know she is somewhat polarizing, lol), you cannot deny that she is a stellar performer.

 
And as a bonus? My Fitbit logged over 18,000 steps and more than 8 miles on the day of the concert! Gahahaha.

It was a great trip, and thankfully at the end of it I didn’t have to say goodbye for too long — my sister and her family will be coming up here in just a few weeks for Penny’s birthday party & baptism! I admit that I’m kind of glad to have all that solo air travel behind me… for the time being at least. Penny is a great flyer so far, and she very rarely gets fussy, but she is just sooooo busy and nosey and energetic that it’s pretty hard to keep her contained on flights nowadays. She doesn’t fall asleep too easily these days anymore either — except, of course, for during the final 10 minutes as we’re descending, lol. Thankfully, we had our row to ourselves on both flights!

 
Anyway, after so many weeks of being up, on the go, and busy as all get out, I was looking forward to at least a modicum of calm before Penny’s birthday but, as always, life has other plans. Alas, after successfully avoiding it for 30 long years of blissful, wise, toothy bliss, I finally have to have my wisdom teeth removed. Two of my wisdom teeth have erupted (turns out I only have 3 of them — #soevolved) but they are all impacted, and one started giving me some serious jaw pain last week. So my surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

So if you’re not already following me on Instagram, I imagine that my Stories will probably be pretty entertaining that day, lol. See you on the flipside!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy Monday, folks!

‘Tis a great Monday indeed, since it’s the very last Monday before…¬†CHRISTMAS!!!!!!1!!!11!!!!!!!!!!1!!

If¬†you’re thinking, “Gretchen, ease up on the exclamation points and formatting, it’s just a holiday…” then you obviously don’t know me at all. Christmas is my FAVORITE holiday, my favorite time of year, my favorite everything. I’m totally¬†that girl when it comes to Christmas. And this year, my whole fam is heading down to Atlanta to ring in Christmas morn at my sister Jen’s house.

It actually feels like the Christmas festivities have kind of already started, though, because even though we’re all going to her house for Christmas in just a few days, my sister and my nieces were actually up here¬†this past weekend!

 
This may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also certainly the busiest! This past week¬†has held my¬†work holiday celebration, my brother’s birthday, a photoshoot, and a baby shower —¬†as well as plenty of time spent with the best kiddos in the world, of course. ūüôā

Wednesday night, I went out to dinner with my coworkers to celebrate 2016 and the upcoming holidays. We don’t have an actual office here in the DC area (I work from home), but I’m luckier than a lot of other remote Yelp employees in that there are actually quite a few of us in the same area! This gives us the luxury of getting me out from behind my computer screen every once in a while to love on each other in person (and gives me an excuse to get¬†dolled up, too!)

 
I know I probably humblebrag about my job far too much already, but I just¬†have the best¬†coworkers. We went to this new-ish restaurant in DC called Mythology that I¬†loooooved, and ate, drank, and chatted the night away. I don’t go into the city all that often, but this place already has me thinking about my next trip, it was so good! The deets are all on–you guessed it–Yelp, so take a gander if you’re interested:

Read Gretchen F.‘s review of Mythology on Yelp

Thursday was my brother’s birthday,¬†and was also the day that Jenny and the girls came into town. We had a family dinner at my parents’ house, and then went to see Rogue One on opening night (no spoilers, but it was awesome.)

 
Saturday morning was spent twiddling my thumbs waiting for the insane ice that had taken over the Metro Area to melt. It was insanely icy that morning — I almost fell flat on my butt just stepping¬†out my front door, and there were literally dozens and dozens of terrible traffic accidents throughout the morning (including a THIRTY CAR PILEUP on the beltway. :()

Luckily (and weirdly), it warmed up and the ice was all but melted by noon, so I still got to fill the majority of the day with fun stuff… and even had¬†a special guest star that some of you may recognize:

Anne! My brother and sister-in-law¬†were shooting some photos for Anne’s business, so I played the role of makeup artist for the day. I can’t wait to see the finished shots!

 
Getting to test out my makeup skills is always fun for me, especially as my interest in makeup artistry has continued¬†to grow. I’ve been getting more experimental with my own makeup lately (perhaps I’ve been getting bolder as a side effect of chopping off my hair, hehe), and, much to Sean’s chagrin, have been investing in a broader range and breadth of products.

Maybe one day I’ll get confident enough to start a side hustle beautifying folks, but for now, it’s enough to showcase¬†my extreme vanity all over Instagram. And here, too, I guess. ūüėČ

Finally, my weekend capped off with my beautiful friend Lara’s baby shower! This was the main reason Jen¬†was back in town, as she was co-hosting it, and¬†it just worked out really well that it was around the same time as Ben’s birthday.

Lara is a big Crossfit nut, so the shower was actually Crossfit themed! I helped Jen out by trying to replicate some of the things that she found on Pinterest. Some were a big win (the barbell diaper cake!), some were passable (the kettle bell cake balls), and some were a huge, time-wasting fail (WHY ARE SUGAR COOKIES SO HARD TO DECORATE?!?!). Regardless, I had a ton of fun prepping with Jen and, of course, loving on Lara and her soon-to-be baby girl!

So, that just about catches us up! Jen and the girls head back to Atlanta today with my parents, and the rest of us¬†will be following suit later this week. So the next few days are sure¬†be super busy as I try to wrap up work stuff, personal stuff, and try to keep my raging Christmas spirit in check ’til I¬†make it to the ATL! And if I don’t make it back for another post before the end of the week, we wish you the happiest of holidays and merriest of Christmases!