Toddler in the House!

WHY, HELLO THERE!

YOU MAY BE WONDERING WHY I AM SHOUTING AT YOU THROUGH YOUR COMPUTER (OR MOBILE BROWSER).

WELL SOMETHING EXTREMELY AMAZING AND EXCITING AND INCREDIBLE AND AWE-INSPIRING HAPPENED BETWEEN THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU ALL AND NOW, AND I STILL HAVE NOT RECOVERED EMOTIONALLY.

Ugh, Mom, you’re so embarrassing.

Do you find yourself asking, Hmm, Gretchen, what could that thing possibly be? Weeeeeeeell, no big deal or anything, it was just PENNY’S FIRST STEPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hopefully the video collage thingy I tried to make works, but if not, you can see the proof on my Instagram feed as well, haha. But yes! It’s happened! It’s happening! Gahhhh! I’m not sure if she already qualified after turning one, but there’s definitely no denying that we have a TODDLER in the house now! I’m just a tiny bit excited.

Sean and I have been trying to practice walking with her more, by sitting across from each other and guiding her to each other, and then out of the blue on Monday she just stood up out of Sean’s lap and toddled right on over to me! And I know it wasn’t a fluke because I made her do it like eight more times so that I could capture it on camera, hahahahaha.

Man, it really has been a big week for our little nugget. Two brand new teeth AND her first steps? No wonder nights have been a little on the, er, difficult side lately. She certainly slept like a rock that night though!

And if it weren’t enough for her to take her first steps a zillion times Monday night, I was most definitely not prepared for what happened yesterday when I dropped her off at daycare. She was standing against my legs as I was putting her backpack in the closet, when her daycare teacher came over to greet her. And suddenly, she just lets go of me and waltzes on over to Miss O. like she’s been walking her whole life. Whaaaaat???

 

In other fun developmental news, she also started doing this thing yesterday where she waves SUPER excitedly at herself anytime she sees herself in the mirror. She did it in the morning when I was getting her ready, and at daycare they told me she kept doing it throughout the day there too. Babies are so much fun!

Anywho, all that excitement aside, today’s gonna be a busy one. I’ve got a full slate of calls, a lengthy to-do list, and a work event tonight. Definitely the kind of day that can easily make me feel overwhelmed, so I’m off to the gym with my little toddling bean to work out a little bit of my anxiety. Cross your fingers for me that I’m able to make today productive!

Weekend Update: Old Friends, Yelp, & Fitness

Oh hai there! I meant to get this posted this morning, but you know, Mondays.

This past weekend was a perfect blend of super busy and super chill — my favorite kind! Sunday we basically did nothing and that happens so rarely, I really soaked up all of the laziness. Saturday, on the other hand, was an awesome blur of meeting up with old friends, working a local festival for Yelp, all with my favorite little sidekick in tow!

Penny and I headed to one of my favorite Korean restaurants to meet up with my friends Megan and Steph — we all went to high school together in Taiwan! Steph lives in NYC and was in town for a friend’s wedding (Megan is local so we see each other more often), and it was such a pleasure catching up. Though, I dunno, I don’t really think we’ve changed that must since high school, do you?

After our delicious meatsweat-inducing lunch (wherein Penny ate ALL of the sesame beansprout banchan), we headed to a local festival where we had a special Yelp area set up inside of an empty storefront. Unfortunately, the glum and rainy weather made the festival a bit of a dud, but our room was pretty hoppin’ at least! And Penny was very popular as our unofficial Yelp mascot.

And before any of that even happened, we had a bit of an exciting morning (well, exciting for me, at least), as Penny seems to really be mastering being able to stand independently!

It takes all of my willpower not to scream with delight every time she stands, because when I do so it scares her and she immediately sits down. Hopefully (?) walking is right around the corner!

 

In other news, I had my first official personal training session at the gym last week, and she ran me through the ringer. She taught me some new moves that I’ve never done before, like goblet squats, and also gave me variations on old moves, like dumbbell curls and presses with one leg up, deadbug crunches, and stuff like that. She also encouraged me to use heavier weights than I ever do on my own, and I was surprised by the weights I was able to use!

I did the workout again this morning and somehow managed to push myself even harder than I did when working with my trainer (probably because she was taking the time to teach me the moves, versus me just running straight through the set), and I’m almost ashamed to admit how sore I already am. Maybe I really was lifting too heavy? I usually am most sore on the 2nd day, so I don’t even want to think about how I’m going to feel tomorrow… and the day after. -_-

I wanted to get in a couple more days of working out in before the hurricane potentially hits us later this week, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to much more than wince and stretch, lol.

Speaking of the weather, it’s been rainy, wet, and gloomy for the past several days, and it certainly doesn’t look like that’ll be letting up anytime soon thanks to impending Hurricane Florence. I went to the store ahead of the crowds and stocked up on some staples — I used to make fun of the people buying up milk before big storms because I just didn’t get why you would prioritize milk! But now I get it. Those people have kids. Penny goes through milk SO quickly now that we’ve transitioned her to whole milk, it’s insane. Saving money on formula but at the cost of our fridge space, haha.

 

Natural disasters aside, Autumn is my favorite season, so I’m definitely not upset with the cooler temps. I am just a little wistful that I still have so many cute summer outfits for Penny that she has yet to wear! I’ve still been putting her in them and then just throwing a hoodie over top, hahaha.

And that pretty much catches us up! I’ve been feeling really tired lately, so I’m worried that I’m on the verge of getting sick, which is not something I can afford right now. Between all my travel, and then Penny’s birthday and party, I really feel like I’ve been slipping work-wise, and so I’m trying very hard to put my nose to the grindstone and reprioritize that. Life as a working mom is a constant balancing act, and there really never do seem to be enough hours in the day! There’s probably a whole other blog post in that single sentence though, which if I’m already complaining about not having enough time, I certainly don’t have the time to dig into it right now. So I’ll save that for another time and, for now, bid you adieu!

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!

Leaps & Bounds

So since Penny was born, I’ve been following her progress in an app called The Wonder Weeks (it’s also a book.) The basic gist of it is that all babies follow the same pattern and timeline of mental development, and they go through very specific “Leaps” when they reach certain ages. This timeline is also helpful because it helps predict (to a certain degree) when your baby will be going through a fussy phase.

I’ve found that the Wonder Weeks has tracked relatively well for Penny in terms of predicting when times might be a little tougher with regards to sleep, fussiness, etc, but I never really saw the total transformation that it touted your baby would go through after conquering certain leaps. The app made it sometimes seem like all of the sudden my baby would be able to do X, Y, and Z. Sure, Penny was developmentally on track, but hitting her milestones and gaining new skills always seemed to happen incrementally — one thing at a time, bit by bit, over time.

That is, until this past week.

In the past week alone (honestly, over a period of like, 4 days), suddenly Penny can:

Crawl!

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Wave!

Sit herself up from laying down (and vice versa)!

 
Pick up tiny bits of food and feed herself accurately! (She can also sign “more” and “please”!)

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Share food! (Lol)

Pull herself up to standing!

And as if ALL OF THAT wasn’t enough…

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…she also said her first purposeful word!

WHERE DID THIS GENIUS BABY COME FROM?!?! Leap 6 is awesome man, that’s all I gotta say. 100% worth the sleep-regression and nap-fighting that has come with it (and I mean that non-sarcastically!). The night before last was admittedly a little tough, with her waking up 3x, totally ready to be up, at ’em, and ready to party, lol. And as she’s now figured out how to sit up in her crib, going down for naps is pretty much just a continuous cycle that looks like this:

I know I’ve said this with like, every age she’s reached so far, but Penny at 8.5 months really is my favorite (I know, I know, so far at least!). She is so much FUN, and it’s so amazing to watch her acquire and practice new skills! She’s just this smiley, happy, giggly, crawly, roly-poly ball of joy. Ugh, I just love her so much!

Anyway, I think that’s probably enough gushing for now. This mama’s got a busy, busy week with an event tonight, planning for my big annual Yelper Party bash (pssssst to my local readers — it’s free and open to anybody!) in two weeks, and getting ready for CM Week in San Francisco in mid-June (which I’m on the planning committee for this year.) Whew!

So, as Penny can now say… bye!

Crushing Milestones and that Working Mom Life

I gotta tell ya, four months of babyhood is a real roller coaster. Penny has made so many incredible leaps and bounds in her development, but it definitely came at a price. For a few weeks there I was seriously wondering if we’d ever get our happy little baby back! She was inconsolable being held by anyone but me (even Sean!), fussy even when I was holding her, and was back to waking up every two, three hours at night (one terrible night, it was every single hour). And every time she did wake up, she fought going back to sleep so hard (screaming, crying, thrashing) that the only way I could get her to calm down was by nursing her back to sleep every single time.

To say I was exhausted would be seriously understating it. But underneath all that fussiness and sleeplessness, clearly a lot was happening inside her tiny little baby brain! Because as of this past week, she is not only seemingly back to her old happy self, but has been crushing milestone after milestone to boot!

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She can now roll from tummy to back like a pro — hooray! We also officially transitioned her to her crib last week (this development came as a direct result of the aforementioned terrible, waking-every-hour night, lol), and on that very first night she slept for ELEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT.

It’s only been like five nights so far, but except for one sad 2 AM wakeup on night #2, she has slept all night long with almost zero intervention from us! No more night feeding, no rocking — all we’ve done is pop her pacifier back in like, one time each night. She’s been able to get herself back to sleep every other time she’s stirred! The night before last, she slept 8:30 PM to 8:20 AM. Last night, she went in her crib at 8:30, fell asleep a little before 9, and is still snoozing away as I type this. Can you even BELIEVE IT?!

So you see? MIRACLES ARE REAL, PEOPLE! I mean, I know that things can — and probably will — change, and so I’m definitely not relying on this being our new normal just yet, but I’m certainly going to relish it while I can! And if rolling + sleeping through the night both weren’t enough, Penny has also started being able to sit up on her own!

She can only maintain it for a maximum of, like, 90 seconds before toppling over, and only if she’s not too tired (but also not too distracted and looking all over the place, lol), but I’m still so proud of our little chunk nugget! She’s growing up so faaaaasst.

 
And like I said, she definitely seems to be much more generally content, and more like her old self as well. I guess that’s what almost 12 hours of sleep every night will do! The real test to see if she’s truly over this hump, however, will be how she acts at Grampy & PoPo Daycare (aka my parents’ house) today while I’m in the office. Last week when she was there, she barely ate anything the entire time, and my dad had to walk her around the house in her stroller for an hour just to get her to take a nap. -_- (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my parents?)

I still work from home the majority of the time and usually have my parents or my mother-in-law come over and watch Penny while I work. However, Yelp recently opened up a DC office, and so once a week I load the kids — human and dog — into the car, drop them off with my parents, and head into the city for the day.

There are many reasons that I love working for Yelp, but having an office here is giving me all sorts of new reasons to love this company (that go beyond even the cereal bar in the office kitchen!) It’s probably not too surprising, what with Yelp being a young tech company and all, but I’ve found they are really progressive and supportive of new & nursing moms. They have nice “mother’s rooms” in all of their offices for pumping, and this office is no exception!

It’s not done yet, but there’s a comfy chair with a built-in desk/ledge, a mini-fridge, and a sink (plus some super cute wallpaper.) And once the mother’s room is fully set up, there will actually be a permanent, hospital-grade pump inside the room at all times. Each pumping mama will have their own set of parts (flanges and bottles, etc.) to go along with it, which means no more dragging my pump back and forth. Amazing!

Alas, the office is still being finished out, and the mother’s room won’t be complete until later this year. So until then, I still get the full #workingmom experience of lugging my pump along. Fortunately for me, however, I have two excellent options to help make that process so much easier!

Aeroflow recently reached out to ask if I was interested in testing out two different pumping products — The Motif Duo, a super lightweight, portable, battery-powered breast pump, and the Ju-Ju-Be Be Supplied pumping bag. (Aeroflow did send me these products to try for free, but they didn’t sponsor this post or anything, so these are my own honest opinions.)

I originally ordered the Spectra S2 breastpump through Aeroflow while I was pregnant, and had a great experience going through them (they have a simple form on their site and contact your insurance for you — super easy!). I really do love my Spectra, as it’s quiet, powerful, and user-friendly. However, my one regret is that I didn’t get the battery-powered version (my insurance fully covered the S2, but I would’ve had to pay extra to upgrade to the S1) as I find it very limiting to be stuck in one spot while pumping.

So when Aeroflow asked if I was interested in trying out the Motif Duo, I was super jazzed. And I became even more excited upon opening the box and seeing how truly tiny this thing is! It literally fits in the palm of my hand — and in the back pocket of my jeans!

It’s got a rechargeable battery built right in, and is a double-electric pump so you have the option to pump one or both breasts (it’s set up for one in the photos above.) It’s a little bit louder than the Spectra once it gets going, but it operates similarly: there are two modes, one for stimulating your let-down, and one for milk expression. It’s crazy convenient that I can get up, walk around, and do whatever I need to do while pumping — the first time I tried it out, I was able to go and pick up Penny after she woke up from her nap, while still actively pumping! It’s also great for pumping one side while Penny nurses on the other — since it doesn’t need to be plugged in, I can easily move it around to avoid her wiggly legs. However, I will say that I haven’t found it to be quite as efficient or powerful as my Spectra — I have to pump for longer and at a much higher power level to get the same amount of milk.

So although the Motif is super convenient — both while at home, and to toss into my diaper bag and take with me wherever — sometimes I still want to pull out the big dog. Especially when I’m at the office and want my pumping session to be as quick but efficient as possible. Which is why I’m also really glad that Aeroflow gave me the chance to try out the Be Supplied breastpump bag as well!

This bag is great — it is really nice to have a bag made specifically for carrying a breast pump! I was previously just dumping all of my pump stuff into an extra diaper bag that I had, but needed to remove everything from the bag in order to get things set up. The Be Supplied is great because it has a totally separate pocket for your pump that zips open from the side, which means you can access the pump without having to remove it from the bag! There’s room to keep the power adapter inside this compartment as well, so you literally just have to pull out the wall plug and you’re good to go!

It also has additional exterior and interior pockets to keep your bottles/bags, flanges, tubing, and everything. There’s also a “mommy pocket” on the front, where you can keep your keys, wallet, etc, if you wanted to use this as your only bag. Alas, I still need to bring a separate bag when I go into the office, as the Be Supplied isn’t big enough for my laptop, but it’s still way more lightweight and compact than the other bag I was hauling around. Plus, it’s machine-washable which is a HUGE plus given the extreme likelihood of milk getting in or on it somewhere, and the print happens to perfectly match my Ju-Ju-Be BFF diaper bag!

Aaaanyway, that’s enough pumping talk for now, promise. I know how thrilling this topic must be for the majority of you, lol.  Honestly, going into the office once a week and having to do the pumping thing really just makes me even more aware of how lucky I am for my work situation! Pumping ’round the clock is definitely time consuming, and I am so grateful to have the flexibility to continue nursing Penny much of the time when I am working from home.

I shall leave you with this one final, non-baby-related milestone of my own: I’m down 9 pounds! Huzzah! 🙂

‘Til next time!