Of Mice and Pen

Aloha! Hope everyone is having a great week so far! Ours has been really busy, pretty stressful, but overall still good. Guess those good weekend vibes have kept going into the week, because I’ve been able to mostly maintain a sense of calmness despite the fact that this week is going by suuuper quickly, and I still have lots to get done. (And in spite of the fact that my car maintenance appointment ended up turning into a $700 brake pad replacement. Wheeeeee…)

It does help that I’ve gotten to spend lots of time with the most adorable people in my life, of course!

 

Tuesday was a crazy busy day — work, personal training, and therapy! — but my parents and my sister-in-law came over for dinner, so I got to cuddle up with baby Marnie which was a very nice way to end the day! She’s getting so big and alert! I mean, “big” being a relative term next to our giant toddler, of course, but it’s still really fun to see her growing up. Especially now that we know firsthand how fun she’s going to become!

I had a work event last night (Wednesday), so I had planned on taking the morning off to take Penny to Cox Farms for a mommy meetup at the Fall Festival, but, alas, she had other plans…

Lol. And since she doesn’t nap when she’s at daycare, I try my best to let her catch up when she’s at home. But I still wanted to take advantage of having her with me for the day, so after she woke up (and after a snack that she shared with Daxter, of course), we packed up and headed out!

Our first stop was to Caboose Commons, the new brewery/coffee house next to Mosaic where my friend works — it’s an awesome spot that I definitely can see myself working from often in the future!

 

They have a super cute little seating lounge with a kid’s rocking chair that Penny was super into. Notice how much happier she is sitting in the chair than sitting in her own mother’s lap. -_-

 

And after our stop there, we headed to our favorite play place, nook! They have an awesome little dress up nook set up now with various costumes, and I had a lot of fun dressing Penny up like a little mouse (and a raccoon, but she didn’t like that costume as much, lol.) She loved the slide this time too, and was going down all by herself (backwards, on her stomach)!

 

Our fun adventures totally wiped her out, too, she was snoring in the car within minutes of me strapping her in to go home. Unfortunately, I have not in any way mastered transferring her from her carseat to her crib without waking her up, so it was a short lived nap… which made me feel justified about her long morning nap, at least.

 

We came home, she played for a bit on her own while I got things ready for the evening, and I got to watch her DESTROY some spaghetti & meatballs before I had to skidaddle off to my event (leaving her daddy with bath duty, gahaha.)

 

Today she’s back at daycare and I’m off to work at my coworker’s big party in DC for most of the day. The sad news is that means I only got about 40 minutes with her in total today, since she’ll have long been in bed by the time I get home late tonight. The good news is, according to my daycare app, she’s actually taking a nap right now! So hopefully she should be in a really good mood for her daddy when he picks her up. And, of course, I feel extremely blessed that the days when I don’t get to see much of Penny are so few and far between.

Anyway, all that being said, it’s time to get cracking with the rest of my to-do list, since I’ll be heading into DC shortly. See you guys on the flipside!

129 Days and Counting!

Howdy, folks! It’s been yet another while since my last update, I know, but things have been moving along pretty swimmingly! Between work, wedding planning, and family stuff, I’ve definitely been keeping busy. In fact, I just came back from spending some time down in Macon getting to meet (and take photos of) my new niece, Kira!

Coming back home after spending some time with my adorable nieces meant jumping right back into wedding planning and work stuff. I’m actually hosting an Elite Event tonight, another one on Monday, and another one on the 27th. Whew! And next month brings another three events, three weddings (one of which I’m shooting with Ben & Taylor!), AND a trip up to Pittsburgh to help out at my coworker’s Yelper Party. WHEW.

But, hey, no rest for the wicked, right? And all this work craziness does come at a pretty good time, since I’m sure that as soon as I enter November, the wedding insanity will start to REALLY set in. November brings my bridal shower (squee!), a trip to Houston to visit my grandmother (she won’t be able to attend my wedding, so we’re going to perform the traditional Chinese tea ceremony for her), and, then, of course, the beginning of the Holiday Season! Double whew.

Luckily, I think I’m in pretty good shape with things right now. As far as most of the wedding planning timelines and to-do lists that I’m able to find online, it looks like we’re pretty much on target! Here’s where things stand:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers:☑

Centerpieces:☑

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☑

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☐

Wait a second… are you seeing what I’m seeing? That’s a lot of checked boxes! Like, almost all of them! And while some of the checks are really more like, half-checks, since I can’t actually complete them juuuust yet, the decisions have been made. So I’m counting it!

After all, we’ve figured out the exact configuration of the centerpieces, the flower count is being calculated, the invitations are being designed, and, best of all, my real, ACTUAL dress came in!

No spoilers for you (that isn’t even my real veil!) BUT, I’m pretty darn excited. And miracle of miracles, it actually fits really well! It will still need some alterations, of course, but those don’t need to start until November.

All of which means that, um, the big things on my wedding checklist are basically complete! CRAZY!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the planning is over by a long shot.the majority of what I have left to work on right now falls under the whole Death by DIY heading that I’ve already mentioned. You know, making the ceremony backdrop, painting the rest of the centerpiece items, finishing up the dessert bar decor (turns out that making cake stands from thrift store plates and glasses is pretty much the easiest thing ever!), and getting my bridal accessories. And I know that as we get closer to the date of the wedding I’m sure more and more things are sure to pop up.

In fact, here are just a few additional things that weren’t originally included on the “main” list that I think I should probably start keeping track of, even if the deadlines are still a ways off:

Bridesmaid Dresses: ☑

Bridal Accessories: ☐

Wedding Rings: ☐

Groomsmen Tuxes: ☐

Registry: ☑ (Thanks to everyone who told me about Zola, it’s really cool!)

Hotel room blocks: ☑

Shuttle/Transportation: ☐ (The hotels are technically walkable to the GW Masonic Memorial, but it’s January, so I’m trying to figure out is providing transportation is still a good idea.)

Welcome Bags: ☐

Wedding Signage: ☐

Program & Menu: ☐

Seating Chart: ☐ (Obviously this won’t be doable until after the invitations have gone out and RSVPs have come back, but it’s still good to keep in mind, as it’s a pretty important to-do.)

Alcohol: ☐ (We are able to purchase our own for the wedding — yay! — so I need to figure out amounts/types.)

Honeymoon: ☑ (Wheeeee!)

Oh boy. The list just keeps on growing. Heh. Oh well, whatever, you guys know I love this ish.

Speaking of the honeymoon, we finally decided on escaping the winter weather on a cruise out of Miami! It’s a 7-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Escape! I’ve never cruised Norwegian before, but am a big fan of cruising in general, and am super excited about the prospect of a brand spankin’ new boat (seriously, the ship hasn’t even started sailing yet. Eee!)

We are also going to spend a few days beforehand touring the Florida Keys, which neither Sean nor I have been to before. So if any of you have any tips about which cities in the Keys to visit, where to stay, or honeymoon-y things to do, please let me know!

Okay, I think that just about catches us up. I’m sure that the secondary list will just keep growing and growing, but I am super excited! We are 129 days out, and I am definitely already getting antsy, hehe. Onward we go!

I Found the Gown

Soooo, quite a bit of exciting stuff has been happening in the Powell household over the past few days. First off, Sunday night was Yelp’s Fire & Ice Ball, the HUGE 1000+ person event that I’ve been planning for the past couple of months!

It was, in a word, AWESOME. So many amazing businesses were there offering delicious food, sips, hair styling, massages, tarot card readings, painting classes, and more. Entertainment ranged from a string quartet to a rockin’ DJ to parkour performances to a FIRE DANCER (true story!), and it was just an awesome, awesome time.

Yelp-Fire-and-Ice-Ball-2015(151of192) Yelp-Fire-and-Ice-Ball-2015(180of192)

Did I mention it was awesome? 😉

Plus, in addition to getting to promote awesome businesses from all across Northern VA, we raised almost $3500 for the SPCA of Northern Virginia!

And as if surviving throwing Yelp Northern VA’s biggest event of the year wasn’t enough excitement for one week, a couple of other fun things have been happening around the Powell household. For example…

mia big sis

I am super happy to announce that my sister, Jen, is pregnant again! My beautiful niece Mia is going to be a big sister (to another little girl, yayyyyy!) come the end of August/early September, and our family could not be more thrilled.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen that Jen and Mia are in town visiting, so we were finally were able to snap a photo of this adorable pregnancy announcement. And by “we,” I mean, Ben, our brother and actual professional photographer. I call the above photo, “Skeptical Mia.”

A picture from tea on Thursday that Jenny wouldn’t let me post on social media because she hadn’t officially announced yet, haha.

I’ve actually been trying (and probably failing) to keep this news under wraps since DECEMBER, if you can believe it. My family all found out about Jen’s new bun in the oven when we were down in Macon for Christmas. I KNOW. Clearly my sister does not share my desperate need to put my entire life up on the interwebs in realtime, haha.

Speaking of which… the third piece of exciting news from the past few days is that… I purchased my wedding dress!

Spoiler alert: this is NOT my dress, hahaha. Fit & Flare = not my friend.

Unflattering silhouettes did not stop me from finding The One, and I totally said yes to the dress. And my credit card statement next month will remind me of it dearly, I’m sure.

Now, let it be said that I did not PLAN to have my dress be the first thing that I’d be crossing off my wedding checklist. After all, I haven’t even chosen my wedding venue yet (I’m pretty close to making a decision though), which means I technically don’t even have a date yet (although I’m pretty sure what it’s going to be.)

So, yes, I know that venue/date is usually the first (and, um, most important) step in wedding planning. But I really wanted to go dress shopping while my sister was in town, given that she’s my Matron (ha!) of Honor and general goodtime bestie.

My dress shopping entourage: Taylor, Jen, Anne, and my fabulously hatted mom!

So, we crammed in various bridal appointments over a few days before the Fire & Ice Ball took place, and I tried on a LOT of dresses. Turns out that while I do have a particular style I gravitate towards, within that style I basically like everything. So making a decision was actually very challening for me! Anyway, after I was able to try on all the dresses I was interested in (and I was interested in a lot of them, bahaha), I agonizingly narrowed it down to a couple of top contenders. Then, after the madness of my Yelper Party had died down, I went back to the bridal salon to finalize my decision!

I plan on going into more detail about my whole dress shopping experience later (I have some tidbits to share on what it’s like to go dress shopping as a plus-size bride, how my embarassing love for all things wedding kept me from having what I’d considering a “traditional” dress shopping experience, and how I didn’t have a “this is the one” ugly crying moment… well, not at first, anyway) but for now, let us just rejoice in the first official wedding decision having been made!

It works out that I took care of this early, anyway, since my dress is going to take up to six (SIX!) months to come in. Womp womp. At least I have lots of beautiful photos of it to keep me warm at night, right?

So, there you have it! Quite some exciting happenings, um, happening around these parts lately! And they’re just going to keep, er, happening, because this weekend I’m off to Texas for Sean’s cousin’s wedding in Dripping Springs (between Austin and San Antonio, as I understand it). The first wedding I’ll be attending as an engaged lady!

The rehearsal dinner is taking place at The Salt Lick, which is a famous BBQ place that Sean has literally been telling me about since we started dating. Needless to say, I am PSYCHED about that (pre-wedding diet, what?), oh yeah, and I guess there’s also the whole meeting the rest of Sean’s family and going to a celebration of love thing. 😉

Hopefully I’ll get to check in here again before I leave for the Lonestar State, but either way, I’ll see you soon!

Mia-cation and the Evolution of Balance

I’m back, baby!

Well, actually, I’m back from visiting the baby!

I returned yesterday from my trip to Macon wherein I spent a crapton of time with my wonderful 17-month-old niece, Mia.

It was awesome. What did we do while I was there, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

We played…

IMG_7790.JPG

We read books…

IMG_7760.JPG

We were extremely fashionable…

IMG_7737.JPG IMG_7765.JPG
IMG_7850.JPG IMG_7856.JPG

Her, not me, obviously.

We also snuggled…

IMG_7806.JPG

And celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with Mia’s first moon cake…

IMG_7853.JPG

And we watched Frozen.

IMG_7845.JPG

Every day.

Sometimes twice a day.

I mean, I fall asleep and wake up with “Love is an Open Door” stuck in my head.

But those of you who know me also know that I am totally, 100% okay with that. 😀

Of course, since my sister teaches fitness classes, I also ended up doing a few other things. Most of which can be summed up by these extremely attractive pictures:

IMG_7837-1.JPG

She. Destroyed. Me.

In a very positive way, of course.

I went to the gym and was thoroughly worked not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES IN A ROW during my so-called “vacation.” Given how ridiculously lazy I am, you should be pretty proud of me. And on the second day, she taught back-to-back classes, and I DID THEM BOTH. Who am I?!

Actually, if I’m being honest (and aren’t I always?), getting my work out on with Jenny really was a bit of a wake-up call in terms of my fitness. I know that in the (many) months since I quit running and working out regularly, my fitness level has really tanked. And nothing brought that to my immediate attention more than the outrageous pain my muscles were in the morning after I attended Jenny’s first Ab Crunch class. Oy.

IMG_7794-1.JPGOne of these things is not like the other…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, staying active is a real struggle of mine. If given the choice between going to the gym or going on a hike or going for a swim OR watching a Gilmore Girls marathon on TV (DID YOU HEAR THAT THEY’RE RELEASING THE ENTIRE SERIES ON NETFLIX?!?!), it’s not hard to guess what I’m always going to pick.

I mean, even when I was on the rockin’ weight-loss train, it was still really hard to motivate myself just to be active. I had to bribe myself with races just so I had some reason to go to the gym, to hit the pavement, to get moving. And, really, even though I was running and racing and talking a lot about my health and fitness levels (which were, obviously, much improved over what they are now), the main reason I was doing all those things was to aid in my weight loss.

So it’s not too much of a stretch to understand that when I stopped actively focusing on losing weight, my sole motivation for being active pretty much went out the window, too. It is just so, so, so easy to live a sedentary lifestyle. Between my computer, TV, PlayStation, and books, I spend a lot more time sitting than anything else. And while I really do enjoy taking Harry and Daxter out for walks, those fluffernutters are even lazier than I am.

  

Seriously, try going more than a mile with them and see what happens. (Spoiler alert: it involves carrying Daxter home.)

So yes, anyway, the wakeup call. It comes as no shock to you, I’m sure, that I am suuuuper out of shape right now. Even if you take the whole weight factor out of the equation (and I am not truly that oblivious, I do realize they’re associated to a certain extent, but let’s just put that conversation off for another day), I simply recognize that I’m not currently at my most energetic or my peppiest or my most well-rested…est. I’m sure that on some level I’ve known these things for a while, but I haven’t been motivated to do anything about it because, well, I didn’t want to. Simple as that.

As you know, I’ve been taking some time to try and separate myself from my former identity as Someone Who Is Losing Weight, as Someone Who Needs To Be Thin, as Someone Who Is At War With Her Body. Instead, I’ve been honestly trying to embrace and love myself as-is. And that truly means embracing everything — from my large frame, height, and thighs that will always, always touch, to my tiny ears, widow’s peak hairline, and double-jointed elbows.

But life is all about give and take. And as my focus shifted away from the number on the scale, giving me the confidence to feel better about myself, it also was taking a lot (okay, all) of my motivation for maintaining the healthy habits that I had originally cultivated to help me lose weight. Which led to a serious backslide in terms of my overall fitness level.

So, yes, unsurprisingly, when I actually did find myself back at the gym, I got my ass handed to me. But you know what the surprising part was? I really felt so accomplished for getting through those workouts. For going back the next day. For working hard enough to really get sore. I mean, the soreness wasn’t great in that it was a literally painful indicator of how out of shape I’ve gotten (it seriously feels like a totally different person ran Reach the Beach back in 2012), but it still felt good in a weird, semi-masochistic way.

So I started to think about why that was — after all, it’s not like I’ve never worked out before. I’ve done plenty of challenging classes, I’ve been CRAZY sore after a workout before (my brief stint with CrossFit in particular comes to mind). But I’ve never been, like, happy about feeling like I got schooled by a workout. And I realized, sad as this sounds, that’s probably because I’ve never really known what it’s like to go to the gym or try a class or take up a exertion-based activity without the question constantly stirring in the back of mind, “How will this help me lose weight?”

Which I guess actually probably isn’t shocking given that I’ve been basically obsessed with my weight for most of my life, and it’s admittedly really hard to break free of that kind of thinking. But… I think I’m starting to get there. Just maybe. I think I might just be getting to a place where I can see myself taking steps to be active and fit because of how it makes me feel, not because of how I want to look.

So that’s pretty neat. We just have to hope that this feeling will last long enough for me to get into the rhythm of things even without my super fit, crazy active sister here to drag me to class with her, haha. This is new territory for me, after all! I mean, exercise for the sake of… exercise?! Not just with the aim of losing weight?! Egads!

Let’s see how this goes, shall we? I think the main thing I want to bear in mind moving forward is this: embracing my body and loving myself shouldn’t be an excuse for me to be lazy. Loving myself should mean taking care of myself, right? Just because I’m not trying to be thin doesn’t mean I get a pass on making an effort to be healthy, happy, whole, and balanced.

So, all this is really just to say that next time I get a craving to binge-watch back-to-back-to-back-to-back episodes of Revenge, I’ll most definitely still be doing so. I’ll just try to make sure I’m gasping aloud from major plot twist shock from atop a treadmill instead of my couch. #balance

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.

332A9786

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!

332A9799

Owls

332A9810

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

332A9778

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

332A9794

332A9808

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.

332A9824

332A9836

332A9860

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!

332A9924

332A9941

332A9977

332A0005

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

332A0063

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!