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!

Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 2 (Her Party!)

All right, and we’re back! Last we left off, my family and I all had a fun, busy day together for Penny’s birthday last Thursday, and then Friday was spent deep in prep mode for her big birthday bash. Now, most of you are aware, I think, that my job with Yelp involves not a small amount of event planning and hosting. So it should come as no surprise to you that I wanted to put in a, er, bit of effort for Penny’s big bash.

Which, fine, I fully admit was really more of a party for Sean and myself than for her, as she the memory of an canary. And okay, okay, the party wasn’t even really that much for Sean, since he would have probably been happy if we’d hung out in our pajamas, given her a cupcake, and watched Mother Good Club with her for an hour to celebrate. BUT I DIGRESS.

The theme for Penny’s birthday was “Donut Grow Up,” which was incredibly fun and made it entirely too easy for me to go overboard with. Donuts are the new cupcakes, what can I say!?

I tried to infuse some special Penny-related touches wherever I could, including having photos from her donut smash photoshoot on each table, a photo mosaic of all the Outfit of the Day photos I’ve taken of her over the past year as her guestbook, and a fun little game that honored our “Lucky Penny” where guests could take a guess at how many pennies were stuffed inside a big ol’ mason jar (the winner won a donut-shaped pool float).

 

The party was from 3 – 5, so we didn’t serve up a full meal, but had a big spread of various snacks: veggies, popcorn, Pirate’s Booty, watermelon, chicken nuggets (dino shaped ones, natch), spanakopita, cheese & crackers, chips & salsa, and, of course, a kazillion donuts!

I got these cute milk bottles from Oriental Trading Company and dipped the tops in frosting and sprinkles — this was one party prep task that was actually really fun, and that my 5-year-old niece Mia was able to help with, too. 🙂

I ordered savory Everything Bagel donuts from a local company, B Doughnut, and they were absolutely one of the biggest hits of the party! They come stuffed with lox, chives, or bacon, and are amaaaazing.

 

For the sweet donuts & donut holes I just hit up our local Dunkin Donuts, and to complete our offering of “hole foods” (get it?), I also set out some plain Cheerios as well as Kellogg’s Donut Shoppe cereals.

Penny’s smash cake was done by the same lovely bakery that made Sean’s and my wedding cake, Simply Desserts! It was adorable and really tasty — as you’ll see further down in this post, Penny was an extremely dainty cake eater, haha, so I definitely still got to enjoy a slice later.

And finally, I ordered cookies from this fantastic local cookie decorator, Tiny Tudor Cookies, who did the most INCREDIBLE job. She made cookies that said “Penny” and “Donut Grow Up” in a beautiful calligraphy, “1” cookies with icing and sprinkles at the top, donut cookies, and a totally amazing cake-shaped cookie that had a banner on top that said “One.” They were seriously SO beautiful, it was almost a shame to eat them. These were also the favors for guests to take home as they left the party (and luckily I still have several leftover sitting in their packaging for me to lovingly stare at every time I go into the kitchen.)

We held the party at the community center located near my house, so it wasn’t too terrible carting everything over for the party. One of my more brilliant ideas was bringing Penny’s Crawl Around Car and inflatable pool, the latter of which I turned into a small ball pit for the party.

 

It was the best thing EVER! There were a ton of babies and young kids in attendance — this party really highlighted how many mommy friends I have, for which I’m insanely grateful! Between local Facebook groups, the Peanut app (it’s like Tinder for moms!), and just the fact that I’m 30 and am squarely in this season of life, Penny has so many little friends out there. The kiddos all pretty much hung out near the ball pit area, playing and socializing for most of the party. It made me so happy!

 

 

Another fun element was the digital photobooth that my brother was able to set up for us.

And, of course, the main event for the party was our little Princess Penny digging into her cake. Well, okay, she didn’t really dig in as much as kind of, er, delicately nibble. I had to get in there and break a piece of the cake off for her before she really started nomming away, haha.

I also got a little emotional right beforehand (who, me?), as this whole party really did feel like the culmination of what has been the most beautiful and most disruptive year of our lives. Penny turning a year old just felt, you know, significant. And I was really floored by all the love and support I received from all our wonderful friends and family members — throughout the entire year, of course, but in particular during the party.

 

So, yes, Penny’s birthday party was indeed a rousing success! It was really fun and really special and really memorable… and really a LOT of work, haha. There are so many people to thank for helping it all come together, especially my brother-in-law Dan for being the MVP who helped me set up all of the tables and chairs, my siblings and my friend Courtney for helping me decorate, my mom and my friend Ratanak for helping cook and replenish food throughout the party, and all the people who helped clean up, including my Uncle Allan, his girlfriend Lyuba, my cousin Sidney, and our friends Bre & Lance.

I’m really, really glad I did it up big and bold for our gorgeous girl’s first bash, but it’s not something I’m terribly eager to repeat next year, I must admit. We’ll see how I feel a year from now, but at this moment I’m thinking that paying for a play place to let a gaggle of crazy 2-year-olds run around for a couple hours sounds just about right, hahaha.

I know she won’t remember any of this, but I will carry around the memories of this day for the rest of my life. And I like to think about how one day Penny will be able to look back on these great photos that Ben & Taylor took, see how much fun and happiness she inspired, and see how very loved she has always been.

One in a Melon

Happy Monday, guys, and happy third birthday to my niece Kira!!!

Yep, between Kira, Alex, and Penny, August has become quite the birthday month in the PoRoFo family (that’s Powell-Robinson-Fox, hehe. Oh man, we’re nerds.) And that’s not even counting my new niece Marjorie + my sister’s, my sister-in-law’s, nor my brother-in-law’s, late-July birthdays!

Anyway, thanks for letting me doldrum-dwell and whine incessantly about my wisdom teeth removal surgery last week. Not gonna lie, I got pretty bummed out about it over the weekend — the pain & soreness, the bruising, the processed, mushy, soft-food diet, the stir-craziness from being stuck in my house… it was all definitely starting to wear on me.

 
Most of you know that my online & public persona is pretty happy & bubbly, but what you may not realize is that so is my er, personal, persona. I am generally a happy, appreciative person — definitely not the Debbie Downer I was channeling for most of the weekend. Which just bummed me out even more, because of course being in that mindset creates kind of vicious cycle. You’re bummed out, and then you’re bummed out for being bummed out, which just bums you out even more… and so on, and so forth.

Thankfully, by Sunday the pain in my jaw and swelling in my cheeks had become somewhat less biting (ba-doom-ching!), to the point where I was able to stop taking my opioid painkiller and just get by on (still quite high, lol) doses of ibuprofen instead. Which meant I could actually drive my car and leave the house — timely, because Penny had a very pressing social engagement to attend!

Her friend Ellie’s first birthday party! My friend Alyson gave birth to Eliana just 10 days before I had Penny, so it’s been super fun getting to see these two grow up at the same time. The theme of Ellie’s birthday party was “One in a Melon,” which was seriously adorable and definitely gave me lots to live up to with Penny’s upcoming party!

 
Penny was the perfect little party guest, too. Super interested in everything that was going on, but content to observe for most of the party and just generally was really chill. I really am lucky that she still hasn’t gone through any kind of stranger danger phase, because it allows for things stepping away to get a soda or asking a friend to watch her while I use the restroom.

Getting out of the house and socializing myself did wonders for my mood as well. I guess it just goes to show that Penny comes by her sociability honestly — I didn’t realize how low my social meter had gotten after recuperating at home for so many days. Having an excuse to change out of my pajamas, throw on a little makeup (though I still couldn’t manage to cover my bruises, sigh), and see friends definitely helped pull me out of my funk. I’ve still got some pain and discomfort, but it’s definitely much more bearable, and hopefully it’ll just continue to improve (even though I’m pretty sure we have not yet seen the peak of the spreading bruise on my cheek & jaw, sigh.)

An upswing in my mood couldn’t have come at a more crucial time, either, since I have an incredible amount of work to get through this week. After traveling and being out of town so much this summer, plus the wrench that my wisdom tooth surgery threw into the gears, I’m feeling all kinds of out of whack work-wise. I’m looking forward to hitting my to-do list hard this week and being super productive… before I get all distracted again with Penny’s own birthday next week (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S NEXT WEEK?!??!).

So with that, I’m going to sign off so I can get to gettin’. See you on the flipside!

Busy, Busy, Happy, Happy

Well, I think it’s safe to say that Winter has come to Northern Virginia. Despite the fact that it was 75-degrees and sunny a week ago, the past few days and have felt like they’re of Winterfell-level proportions. Lows of 29 and 30 – brrrrr! The upside?

 
I’ve been able to make use of these stinkin’ cute fleece bodysuits that make Penny look extra-strength adorable.

 
We’ve certainly been keeping busy since last we checked in with you guys! Lots of time spent with family (that’s Uncle Ben hanging out with Penny in the photo above) and friends, old & new, plus Penny went to her first party and had a grand old time!

So, Wednesday night I finally got fed up with what was going on with my roots, and tried to re-dye my hair under the VERY MISTAKEN ASSUMPTION that Penny had gone down for the night and I had at least, like, 90 minutes before she woke up again. Well, I was unsurprisingly very wrong, and with Sean already asleep and me not wanting to disturb him (he has to get up very early for work), I had to pull my very best Tim Gunn and make it work.

 
Sooooo yeah, this resulted in a nice bleachy nursing session and lots of prayers that all of my hair wouldn’t fall out from bleaching too long, lol. Thankfully, I managed to get her to go back down pretty much right away after she was done, and thus escaped with hair unscathed and repurplefied!

And so I was able to look presentably vibrant (and very easy to spot) for my #momsquad coffee date the next morning! Now that Penelope and I are nice and comfy with each other, I’ve been really eager to meet other mamas in the area with similarly-aged kiddos. So being the totally level-headed and not-in-any-way-overzealous person that I am, I joined like, four different new mom Facebook groups and also downloaded the Peanut app (which is literally Tinder for moms, lol). I’ve been fortunate to connect with some lovely ladies and their even lovelier bebes!

It’s so nice to have other ladies with whom to get together and commiserate over developmental milestones, spit up, blowouts, and sleepless nights, hehe. Most of my friends’ babies are at least 8 – 10 months older than Penny, and right now the age difference of even a few months makes a huge difference in the whole parenthood experience. So while by this time next year, Penny and my friends’ babes all might be able to play together, it’s especially wonderful to have found some new mama friends with birthdays close to Penny’s — since they’re going through literally the exact same things as us. 🙂

On Friday, I met up with my friend Vicky for coffee in the morning. Mayhaps you are starting to see a pattern here: COFFEE. IS. LIFE. I’ve always enjoyed coffee, but was never really a habitual drinker. Didn’t need my daily cup of joe to get through the morning or anything like that. But now? HAAAAA! You should see the amount of stars I’ve racked up on my Starbucks rewards account. Lorelai Gilmore would be so proud.

And after yet another successful coffee date, Sean’s mom came by for a visit! Not only did she bring a delicious spread for lunch (homemade chicken pot pies!), but she also watched Penny for a stretch while I took a glorious and much-needed nap. Fri-yay indeed!

Which brings us to Saturday! We were invited to my coworker’s daughter’s first birthday party and were super excited to have Penny experience her first party! Naturally, she slept terribly the night before (go figure), so we got a pretty late start to the day. When I eventually had to jump in the shower, I asked Sean to get Penny dressed and returned to this bit of fashion-forwardness:

Bahahahahahaha. He gets major points for matching, but she is 100% missing the actual dress that’s supposed to go under the cardigan and over the bloomers. ::laughing crying emoji::

  
Much better. 😉

The party was so much fun! There were sooooo many kiddos and babies there, and it was really fun for Sean and me to see what our future holds, hehe. My fab coworker Kimberly did an amazing job with the theme, decor, and food (there was a Chipotle bar!!), and gave me serious goals for next August when we’ll be going through the same thing, hehe. Oh man, I’m getting emotional just thinking about that. I know that sounds ridiculous since it’s so far away, but I mean, I already can’t believe Penny will be 11 weeks on Wednesday! ::sniff::

 
Kimberly also arranged to have a Tunes 4 Tots session at the party, so Penny also got to experience her first music class! I can’t wait ’til she is, y’know, able to like, sit up and clap her hands and actually do stuff. But even though she was literally just sitting up in my lap watching it all unfold, I like to think she was having a grand ol’ time, hehe.

Later that night, Penny and I met up with one of my oldest friends, Megan. We’ve been friends since meeting in Taiwan in 2001, where we both attended high school! 16 years of friendship and counting…! Not that that makes me feel old or anything, heh.

After dinner, I dropped by my parents’ house, as another one of my uncles was visiting and wanted to meet Penny (she is far more popular that I could ever be!). This turned out to be a great thing, because while I was also supposed to see my parents again the next day, my mom came down with something so it didn’t work out.

They had originally offered to babysit for Sean and me while we went to a show, but since that didn’t happen we ended up having a nice lazy Sunday at home. TBH, it was really nice. I love having a reason to get out of the house (and I still did end up taking Penny on an errand run… and to get more coffee, hehe), but all the social engagements, coupled with the fact that Penny’s sleep has continued to be very unpredictable, did leave me feeling pretty drained.

So Sean, Penny, the dogs, and I all got to enjoy being home together — cooking (Sean), playing (Penny and the dogs), napping (everyone but me ::laugh/cry::), and taking care of stuff around the house (meeeeeee, heh.)

 
Which catches us back up to today! We’ve got lots of additional plans for fun this week, including our first Crybaby Matinee, more mommy dates, and a trip this weekend — whew! I’m also hoping that I’ll be able to get another one of the (many) parenthood posts I would like to write up this week, but guff, finding time to blog really is a challenge these days. I don’t know how actual mommy bloggers do it!

‘Til next time!

Mia Turns One!

Howdy neighbors!

I’m back from Macon, GA after a wonderful few days with my sister, brother-in-law, and baby niece, Mia (short for Amelia). I even got to see my mom for like two hours on Sunday (we overlapped with her flying into town and me flying out, haha) and, most importantly, got to ring in Mia’s FIRST YEAR OF LIVING with an amazing party that my sister and I put together for her. Apologies in advance for the proud Auntie Gretchen photo overload that’s about to happen, hehe.

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I’ll let the photos primarily speak for themselves, but since you guys already know my penchant for throwing big birthday parties, it should come as no surprise that this was themed out the wazoo… owl-style!

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Owls

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The smash cake in particular I really am quite proud of, hehe.

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My sister, Jenny, did all the planning and I think Miss Amelia ended up with quite the Pinterest-worthy first birthday party! Owls, owls, everywhere, plus cake and cakepops and cookies and chocolate and, well, just lots and lots of sugar. I think that this may have been the sugar OVERbinge I needed to set me back on the right path, diet-wise, because I honestly cannot even THINK of eating another dessert item until Mia’s second birthday, hahaha.

Noms

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Jenny made Mia a SUPER adorable tutu to wear around on her special day and we got an iron-on patch to put a big ol’ “1” on her butt. She was most certainly the belle of the ball in my toooootally unbiased opinion.

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Pretty Mia

And girl can EAT (she *is* part-Powell, after all), so the smash cake part was really fun. She had noooo trouble digging into that thing!

CAKE!

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Clearly, ’twas a most excellent party. I just love this little nugget!

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Her actual birthday isn’t until Thursday, so hopefully this is the start of her carrying on my longstanding tradition of celebrating my birthday AAAAALL week long.

Mia Hug & Run

Speaking of which, my birthday’s coming up! What the heck am I gonna do for it?! I usually have it all planned out by now, but since my job is pretty much planning epic parties all year round, I haven’t had time to give it much thought. Hmmm…

In other news, my CM Week plague has ALMOST left my sister, just a few sniffles and coughs left over. But daaaang, I haven’t been sick like that in a looooong time. I tend to get stomach/digestive sick over head/sinus/chest sick, so I actually was pretty miserable. Who’d have ever thought there’d be a day where I’d rather be throwing up if it meant I didn’t have to sneeze another 80,000 times in a row?

Anyway, being (almost) back to full health, and FINALLY back in one place (no more traveling pleeeeeease) means that hopefully things will be a lot smoother with my diet and exercise routine now. See you on the flip!