Just Read a Flippin’ Book, Gretchen!

Well, turns out I may just have a touch of the gift of foresight after all, because two of the things I predicted in my last post have indeed come true. First off, I am just as sore as I thought I would be after my mega workout on Monday. Yesterday, my legs felt like they weigh 100 pounds each, and my obliques were quick to remind me that they do, in fact, exist. Y’know. Because they hurt.

Ba-doom ching!

So I took yesterday off from the gym, and did a stretching routine at home instead. It actually worked out that I was too sore to work out, since Penny and I did not exactly have a night conducive to expending lots of energy at the gym. She slept terribly Monday night: tossing, turning, waking up, and crying out a lot more than usual. And then she just casually popped up and was SUPER AWAKE from 4 – 5:30 AM — chatting, playing, crying, and just generally keeping me (and only me -_-) up.

She did eventually fall back asleep (after several failed interventions of my own), and then proceeded to sleep in until 8:30! And on a daycare day no less (I usually try to drop her off around 8 so she can eat breakfast there.) After the night we had, though, I wasn’t about to dare try and wake the Kraken before she was ready. So I texted daycare that we’d be a little late, and after a hastily-fed, super healthy breakfast that consisted of two cherry tomatos and half of a tortilla, I finally got her there and hastened off to get some work done.

I met up with two of my coworkers, Mike & Kimberly, at Rare Bird Coffee Roasters in Falls Church, and between sips of my honey lavender latte and bites of proscuitto-gruyere quiche (sooooo good), I managed to put my nose to the grindstone and bang out quite a bit of work! Though it really shouldn’t, it still surprises me how productive and focused I can be when I get out of the house and work with intention. Even when Penny’s not there, it’s just so easy to get pulled away by different things at home — the dogs, laundry, dishes, etc. Another good reminder as to why I’m continuing to work towards figuring out a routine and carving out specific time (and apparently, space) for work.

After the three of us had put in a few hours of work, we headed to nearby Yayla Bistro for some lunch. We split a few appetizers, their mixed grill platter, and some salmon. It was all super delicious, and the portions were very generous (as were my coworkers for giving me the leftovers to take home, hehe.)

Mike had to hit the road after lunch, but Kimberly and I decided to get just a smidgen more done before daycare pickup called both of us away. We took a quick pitstop to pop into the independent bookstore across the street, and it was like a total breath of fresh air. I’d forgotten how much I love bookstores, love browsing, and, hello, love BOOKS!

It’s pretty shameful for me to admit, but aside from The Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and Guide to Your Child’s First Year, I haven’t read an entire book in almost two years. Words are my lifeblood, so taking a step back to realize that’s the case is seriously sad. So I did my due diligence in supporting a local business and picked up a couple novels that I’ve been meaning to read since long before the movies came out (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Crazy Rich Asians), a parenting book that I’ve had bookmarked for a little while (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk — though a follower actually pointed out there’s a Little Kids version of this book that I think I’ll want to read first), and another one that caught my eye in the store (How to be a Happier Parent). And I’ve decided that the next item on the evidently unending list pertaining to Gretchen’s Total Life Renovation™ (lol) is to just start flipping reading again.

It sounds really simple, right? I mean, really it should be. I just need to unplug a little earlier each night. Instead of whittling my final moments before bed browsing the internet, scrolling through Instagram, or rewatching The Office YET AGAIN, I can read a chapter or two. But, of course, I think we all know that while something may sound easy in theory, it doesn’t always work out so smoothly in practice. Maybe the baby’s having trouble sleeping, or there are chores to finish, or maybe we just really, really want to finish writing a blog post (cough cough) instead. But hey, the point is to try, no? Hence why it’s called practice.

To help me with my goal of getting to the titles that I’ve long been piling onto my “To-Read” pile, a friend also suggested I dip my toe into audiobooks. I’ve never been a voracious consume of audiobooks (I used to feel like it was kind of pointless since I can read faster than they can speak, haha), but now that my life is basically just one constant frenzy of multitasking, the concept is very appealing. After all, I am now commuting into the city once a week(ish), and listening to an audiobook does allow me to do things like fold laundry or put away dishes while still allowing me to consume all those wonderful, beautiful words! So I’m taking Audible for a spin with a couple of free audiobooks I’m able to try out. I’m starting with Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, as well as Sophie Kinsella’s My Not So Perfect Life. (I feel like I really relate to both of these based on title alone.

So I’d say that yesterday was quite a productive day, all things considered. Let’s see if I’ll be able to successfully add another positive habit into the mix — I gotta admit, while I’m still going surprisingly strong with working out and taking my vitamins, my attempts to start my days with mindfulness and calm via guided meditation have been less successful. Ah well, tomorrow’s just another opportunity to practice again, right?

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’s Birthday Weekend: Part 3 (Baptism & Beyond!)

I bet you thought that the neverending tale of Penny’s Birthday Weekend had ended with the conclusion of her birthday party, didn’t ya? Well, you thought WRONG. Because this weekend had one final special family event to give before it would be over, and a doubly-special one at that: Penny’s and her new baby cousin Marjorie’s baptisms!

Hot dang, these family photos just get harder and harder to nail, don’t they? Ahahahahaha.

 

We took full advantage of the fact that my sister and her family were in town for the long weekend and had both babies baptized while they were here. Quite necessary, actually, since my sister and brother-in-law are both Penny’s AND Marnie’s godparents! We couldn’t let the fact that Marjorie and my sister share their birthday pass us by, after all!

I was lucky enough to have an old friend from middle school and a family friend catch some action shots of Penny’s baptism. She was a super wiggly squirmy worm during the church service (which took place exactly during when she would have normally been having her morning nap), but was a total champ as soon as we got up there for her actual christening. You can see me getting choked up (surprise, surprise) in the third picture below, haha:

  

After the service concluded, we headed with some family friends to a different part of the church for a really nice post-baptism brunch that my mom put together. The church even had set up a kid’s table with kid-sized chairs and everything! It was super cute, and Penny looooooved feeling like a big girl next to her cousins (with some bracing from Grandpa for security, hahaha.)

 

There was a spread of mediterranean food, a ham, some mom also got cakes for both Marnie and Penny from Whole Foods — they were so good! Marnie’s was vanilla with strawberries in between the layers of cake, and Penny’s was chocolate. We were able to repurpose a few of the leftover cookies from Penny’s party at the brunch as well, hehe.

 

My family all went back to my parents’ house after brunch and just hung out for the rest of the day (Penny & Alex took some seriously epic naps) and then Sean cooked us all a big Korean feast for dinner that night.

 

I was certainly glad to be able to just chill out and decompress for the rest of the day — all of the emotional and significant events of weekend definitely depleted some of my energy stores. But I rallied enough to head back to Falls Church the following day, since my sister and her family were flying home Monday evening.

  

Rolling 5 adults, 2 kids, and 2 babies deep, we descended upon our favorite sushi restaurant and was finally able to introduce Penny to my favorite food! Even better, she loved it! She ate like 4 entire pieces out of a variety of rolls, tasting a bunch of brand new flavors and textures. I was absolutely thrilled! I know that it’s entirely likely she will end up becoming super picky like most toddlers, but I’m definitely going to take advantage of what a great eater she is for as long as I can!

 

It was so much fun eating out with all the kiddos, but admittedly pretty stressful, too. I was glad that A) we were at a family-friendly place, B) they know us well (we are frequent patrons of Koi Koi, heh) and C) we ate so early that nobody else was there when we got there, because we brought with us not a small amount of chaos. I was totally that mom sweeping up piles of rice and smooshed avocado with my napkin, lol.

 

Finally, after we said goodbye to my sister’s contingent of the family (sniff!), Penny and I headed back home where I finally had to start organizing and cleaning up all of the post-party pandemonium. My entire house had just become like a landing zone for semi-deflated balloons and donut-shaped party paraphernalia. One fun thing we got to do, however, was open up all of Penny’s birthday presents! Our friends were definitely all waaaaaay too generous, and she now has a huge collection of new books, clothes, and toys that will bring her (and her mommy, lol) lots of enjoyment for a loooong time.

 

Multiple folks have advised not to open all of her new toys right away, so as to stretch them out (swapping out toys for new ones to maintain interest and excitement, etc.) So I was actually able to exercise a modicum of uncharacteristic self-restraint here, and have put aside a pile of her new goodies to bring out in the future. Couldn’t resist ripping open a few though, including the Little People Disney Princess Wheelies Castle set that Penny’s Grandma got her though — she loves them and has already figured out that the little cars are supposed to go at the top of the castle! My smart little cookie.

And that really does bring us up to the end of our fantastic, crazy, amazing Labor Day Weekend! And as you can see, labor there was, haha. But it was all 1000% worth it to celebrate our equally fantastic, crazy, amazing little Penny.

Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 1 (Her Birthday!)

HOLY MOLY. What a weekend!

Between all the fun we had on Penny’s actual birthday, her party, and her baptism the day after that, we really packed a LOT into this Labor Day Weekend, I tell you what. And yes, it probably goes without saying that I am absolutely, thoroughly, completely exhausted. But, it should also go without saying that, yes, it was worth it. My sister and her whole family came into town for the weekend festivities, and we just had a whole lot of awesome family togetherness in celebration of our little Princess Penny.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

On Thursday morning, Sean and I both went in to greet the birthday girl with balloons and lots of cheer. She was definitely thrown off a bit by the morning greeting (normally, Sean has already left at work by the time she wakes up), but got into the spirit very quickly!

I’m so ridiculous, I even made a conscious effort to ensure I was wearing my own donut jammies to match hers. And I’m going to go ahead and say I was approximately 1084% more excited about the fact that it was her birthday than she was… she did like playing with the balloons tho.

 

Sean left for work, and I fed Penny breakfast, got her changed, and then we headed into Falls Church to meet up with the rest of my family (minus my brother-in-law and Mia, who flew in Friday evening because Mia’s in — gasp! — real school now.)

 

Then my dad, my sister, and I (plus Penny, Kira, and Alex) all hopped on the Metro and took a jaunt into the city to visit the National Building Museum! They had a really cool exhibit called Fun House going on this summer (sadly its last day was September 3rd), and it was a total kiddo paradise.

 

Penny and Alex were definitely on the young side to be able to appreciate all of the element of Fun House, but they still had a great time — and Kira had the time of her life!

 

The whole exhibit was kind of like a cool, architectural, playhouse twist on the idea of house and home, with different rooms and different fun spins on the things that exist in a house.

One of the biggest draws of the Fun House exhibit was the giant pool in the “backyard,” which was like 5 feet deep and filled with thousands and thousands of ball pit balls. I tried not to think about all of the thousands of people who had been in that ball pit prior to us, and jumped in with both feet (literally).

 
Instagram vs. Reality

And there’s some kind of metaphor for motherhood here, I can feel it:

 

After our time at the Fun House (which already left me feeling pretty wiped — getting out of an adult-sized ballpit is no small feat!), we had a quick lunch nearby at Bantam King and then headed home.

We got the babies down for an epic nap (and even Kira fell asleep!), hung out for a bit, and eventually saddled everyone up to head back out. This time, to the mall!

Build-A-Bear Workshops has a promotion where if you bring your child in during the month of their birthday, you can pay their age (!) for a special birthday bear! Hey, a $1 bear? Sign me up! My whole family and I (including Ben, Taylor, and Marjorie this time) met up with Sean at Tysons Corner, and then all went together to get Penny’s first Build-A-Bear together! (I think when the whole Powell-Robinson-Fox clan rolled up into the BAB, three strollers deep, I think the girls behind the register got a little panicked, hahahaha.)

 

I was planning on just getting her the plain $1 birthday bear, but Penny’s PoPo (the Chinese term for Maternal Grandmother, pronounced “Paw Paw”) wanted to trick out her bear, so this bear went home with some unicorn jammies and a song inside! Thanks PoPo!

  

Finally, we ended the already epic day with a family dinner at the Nordstrom Cafe, where Penny feasted on a birthday dinner of grilled salmon, green beans, roasted potatoes, and the fluffy insides of all my bread rolls. And we all slept hard that night!

Much of Friday was spent running errands and prepping for the party that would be happening the next day. I was feeling pretty anxious about all the things I wanted to get done, but managed to sneak in a very quick (and lazy, lol) workout at the gym and also slipped away to enjoy a ladies’ night out with my sister and our friends Anne & Lara!

I’d been looking for an occasion to check out Cheesetique’s newest location in Mosaic, and this was the perfect night for it! Four baby-free mamas out on the town? Hot diggity dog! My cocktail & the food we shared (which was like, twice as much as what’s even pictured below, hahahaha) was all excellent — if you’re local and looking for a great spot, I definitely recommend. Get the tot poutine and thank me later!

 

And that brings us up to Saturday which, of course, was party day! But since Penny’s birthday party comes with a whole truckload of photos and details in and of itself, and this post has already turned into quite a lengthy one, I think I’ll save it for tomorrow. Hope everyone has had a somewhat smooth transition back into the week after the long weekend! See you on the flipside!

Penny: Twelve Months Old

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the sappy emotional post out of the way, I think it’s time we round off one amazing year of Penny updates, don’t you?

Today, my little bean is twelve months old. This is sometimes referred to as ONE YEAR OLD! Gah!!!!

That’s right, kiddo. Throw those hands in the air like you just don’t care. We have successfully kept an actual human child alive for 365 days. 365 sunrises and 365 sunsets and 365 sleeps and 365 wakes and holy crap, if that isn’t just the coolest, craziest thing!

I know, kid. Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you.

Penny stands 30″ tall and weighs 21 lbs, 14 oz. That puts here in the 86th and 82nd percentiles for height and weight, respectively. She’s in 12-18 month clothing, size 4 diapers, and is just about to grow out of a size 3 shoe. Looks like I’m gonna be allowed to buy more baby shoes soon! Hehe.

While she has taken her first unassisted step (!!), she’s not really walking yet, but she certainly doesn’t let that stop her from getting into all sorts of trouble! 😉 I thought our friendly nugget would be a Hufflepuff like mama, but this little daredevil definitely has a Gryffindor spirit. Climbing up sofa backs, cruising and crawling into and under and around every piece of furniture, descending from armchairs without hesitation… she’s fearless!

We have officially transitioned her from formula to whole cow’s milk, and she hasn’t had any issues with the change, so we remain as lucky as ever when it comes to our great little eater! She’s still got just the two teeth, and her current favorite foods are french toast, bananas, meatballs, tomatoes, and, to no one’s surprise, DONUTS!

She’ll finally pay attention to the TV for a hot second, but really only if Mother Goose Club is playing, hehe. Her favorite songs are “Wheels on the Bus,” “Hey, Mister Sun,” “Baby Shark,” and “Freight Train,” which of course means I am slowly being driven insane because once these songs enter your ear, THEY NEVER LEAVE. My brain’s lullaby to me every night is “Mommy SHARK DOO DOO DOO-DOO DOO-DOO.” -_-

Regardless, I think it’s pretty clear that Penny continues to thrive, and we just couldn’t be prouder or happier with the beautiful, sociable, happy, kind, smart little TODDLER she is becoming. Happy birthday, Princess! We love you!!!

Feeling nostalgic? You can see all her previous growth updates here: 1 week, 4 weeks1 month2 months11 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, and 11 months. Whew!