Time Marches On

Man, time just keeps marching on, doesn’t it? Even though it feels like I just posted Penny’s 10 Month update, it’s already been weeks! And a lot’s happened since then! Though she didn’t stay up to see the fireworks, we celebrated her first Fourth of July:

 
And the day after, she and I flew down to Atlanta for another visit with my sister, brother-in-law, and their three little munchkins!

Penny is becoming quite the seasoned traveler, and while she is really a very good baby on the plane, it just keeps getting more and more challenging for me. She is just soooooo busy, and soooooo nosy! She wants to be in everyone’s business, and I’m just trying my darnest to get her to stay with me. I mean, maybe just a tiny bit of stranger danger wouldn’t be such a bad thing, eh? At least on our flight back home she miraculously fell asleep for a portion of the flight. My arm went totally numb but it was worth it.

 
I had a great time visiting my sister, as I always do, but I gotta admit, coming back has been a bit of a bear this time around. Since traveling always makes time fly even quicker, and between our San Francisco trip & this one, I haven’t been able to really get settled back into a routine. So the days are kinda just whooshing past, and I’m just here like, okay, suddenly it’s mid-July. Penny is now ten and a HALF months old. I’ve got a huge slate of stuff to tackle for work before my next trip, for which Penny & I are heading back to Atlanta in a just few weeks for Alex’s first birthday (squee!)… and to see Taylor Swift (all my local DMV friends may have seen her show this week, but I bought the tickets for Atlanta a zillion years ago so my sister and I could go together.)

Whew. It’s just a lot, especially considering summers for my job tend to rocket past anyway. Plus, thinking about Alex’s first birthday being just around the corner makes me oh-so-very aware that Penny’s is as well (they’re only 3 weeks apart). Which means I need to start turning all of my many vast and unrealistic ideas for Penny’s first birthday party (just seven weeks away!) into an actually manageable checklist, lol.

Call it the burden of hosting events on the regular for my job, or just the fact that I am, indeed, a crazy Instagram mom, but I want this party to be the bomb-diggity! After all, it’s really the only one I get to do up completely and totally to my own whims, as something tells me that by next year, Penny will have opinions about what kind of party she’ll want, hahaha.

The other thing that’s been on my mind is that I haven’t been feeling very positive about myself lately. I’ve been feeling emotionally drained (Penny has almost completely weaned from nursing, and it hit me pretty hard last week especially), and have not been feeling confident or happy with regard to my body, my weight, and my health.

The hard truth is that I’ve let myself get out of control with some truly terrible eating habits (fast food in particular, sigh), and despite all of my best intentions and former proclamations (“I wanna get healthy for Penny! I want to be able to keep up with her forever! I want to set a good example for her!”), I hadn’t made any effort or taken any actual action to back up those claims. In fact, despite “knowing better,” I kind of kept doing, well, the opposite.

So, I just kinda stopped talking about it, and slinked quietly back into the shadows with my waffle fries. Which, I mean, hey, that’s fine, being fat is not a crime, it’s not really even an issue as long as you’re happy and feel good about yourself. Which I guess I kind of was, for a time? But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t cracks in my self-confidence, and slowly but surely, I started feeling less and less healthy, less and less good about myself, and less and less happy.

So, I finally hit my tipping point a couple of weeks ago. Sick of agonizing over my closet because my clothes don’t fit well anymore and being upset over how I look in candid photos and just generally not feeling good, I decided I don’t want to — and that I don’t have to — feel like this anymore.

So, I finally dragged My Fitness Pal back up from the depths of my iPhone’s app folders and hodgepodged together a plan. I’m cutting way down on sugar, trying my best to limit simple carbs (at least for this initial period — there is no power on Earth capable of keeping pasta from my life permanently), tracking everything, and, of course, eat mindfully & healthfully. And it’s working! I’m down 10 pounds already, which feels nice to say, though, the seasoned dieters among you know that’s mostly water weight. Plus, when you’re as heavy as I am, 10 pounds is also like, barely anything. But regardless, I’m feeling optimistic and motivated.

I do intend on adding fitness back in, as that’s obviously an important part of the health equation (though, as we also know, when it comes to weight loss specifically, it’s a much smaller part than what we eat), but I went to the gym for a step class with my sister while I was in Georgia and left feeling defeated and sad because I’m just so uncomfortable with my body right now. Also, I didn’t actually bring any real workout clothes with me, and I don’t think it helped that I was exercising in one of my regular tops, with two doubled-up nursing bras in lieu of a sports bra, hahahahaha.

So, baby steps. Literally. Carrying a wriggly, always-on-the-move, twenty-pound bundle of energy is my strength training right now, and chasing after her as she terrorizes the dogs is my cardio, lol.

And speaking of our little mischief-maker, we have an exciting new development… Penny finally (FINALLY!) cut her first tooth!

 
She is the Toothless Wonder no more! Which explains why she was shoving the local Georgia flora into her mouth incessantly during our backyard photoshoot, why she has been drooling up a storm lately, and also why she had a temperature the day prior to that little thing pokin’ on through. She’s got a real little chomper in there! (It’s her bottom left.)

And I think that just about catches us up. Here’s to looking at a brighter, lighter, happier, & healthier tomorrow (and the day after that, and the day after that) — as well as to getting these cutie pie cousins back together very, very soon! <3

Hotel Life with a 10 Month Old

If you missed it, you can catch up on my first post about my li’l family’s recent trip to San Francisco here!

Soooo, living in a hotel for a week with a baby was… interesting, to say the least. We stayed at the InterContinental San Francisco, which was a very nice hotel and provided a real crib for us, as well as a mini-fridge for me to keep my milk and whatnot. But, despite having a spot for her to sleep, we were still living in one single room… when we’re used to putting her to bed in her own room, on her own, every night at home. This, naturally, made putting her to bed each night — and for naps — a bit of a challenge.

Because she’s not used to dealing with us being in her room when she goes to sleep normally, our very presence was a big distraction for her, even if we were willing to shut off all the lights and basically tried to go to sleep at the same time as her (lol.)

That said, it’s not like the two of us wanted to go to bed at 7 PM each night anyway, so we had to make a lot of in-the-moment decisions as to how to get her to sleep. In the end, we wound up getting her to go to sleep initially by strapping her into her infant carseat + stroller, and then wheeling her into the bathroom once she finally dozed off, lol. HARDLY ideal, but it at least gave us a little bit of time to unwind, order in food, and watch a show or something before we were ready to hit the sack ourselves. She’d usually snooze for a couple hours, after which point I’d try to transfer her to her crib… or I’d just bring her into bed with us.

We tried wheeling the whole crib into the bathroom and putting her down that way, but it was all still just too stimulating for her. At least by having her in the infant bucket, her vision was somewhat limited and she was also secured so she couldn’t sit up, stand up, and play around (which is what she kept every time she was in the crib).

Of course, this isn’t really a solution if A) your baby can’t fit in their infant carseat anymore (which, honestly I think that this might have been our last trip with it, since she’s just about outgrown the height limit), or B) your hotel bathroom isn’t big enough to put anything in. It’s literally just what happened to work for this singular trip, lol. It’s also worth noting that you should fully buckle your kid, with straps tightened, whenever they’re in their carseat — for Penny, it’s mainly because she could easily launch herself out of it were she so inclined, but also there’s always a chance of them slipping down in their seats, which isn’t safe.

Anyway, the sleep thing aside, everything else went pretty smoothly as far as hotel life can go. Since hotel rooms are relatively bare-bones, it was a pretty easy, sparse space for her to crawl around without me fearing her death. I read a tip online that said to bring a thing of scotch tape with you for easy baby-proofing — you can tape washcloths over corners, put tape over outlets, tape up wires, etc. So I did bring some, but we actually didn’t end up using any of it.

Some other things I packed for the trip that we did end up using included an inflatable bathtub (<– this one from Munchkin is $12 on Amazon) which was great because there were no grippies in the bathtub.

I also packed our portable high chair, which we had previously purchased so we had a place to put Penny when visiting Sean’s parents, but turned out to be great for giving Penny her breakfasts and snacks in-room.

Overall, though, the experience mostly made me thankful that normally when I travel, it’s to someone’s house (my sister’s, for example, where I’m actually headed with Penny next week) where I have access to a lot of extra amenities, room, and freedom for the bebe. And also that going with an AirBNB or springing for a multi-room suite is probably the way to go for future vacations when a home isn’t an option, lol.

At least I can say that we successfully tackled a cross-country flight (two of them, technically!) as well as a week-long hotel stay and the only damage that seems to have been done is to my milk supply (womp womp, but that’s a story for another post.) And most importantly, of course, is recognizing that while I’m sure I’ll never stop getting anxious and somewhat stressed when it comes to traveling with Penny (at least not until she can be easily bribed with candy and an iPad, lol), everything does tend to work out. After all: have love, will travel!

I Brought My Heart to San Francisco (CM Week 2018)

Ahoy-hoy!

I’m back from a week in uncharacteristically-sunny San Francisco! Every year, they bring together all of Yelp’s Community Managers (99% of us work remotely) for a work summit at Yelp HQ, and this year’s was our best yet!

Of course, that statement isn’t exactly unbiased, considering that I was 1) on the planning committee for this year’s CM Week, and 2) I brought these two suckers along for the ride this year:

Yes, I did, in fact, drag my husband and baby 2,800 miles across the country with me on this work trip. Some of you may not be particularly surprised by this — I mean, I’ve barely spent like, 8 hours at a time away from Penny since she’s been alive. You think I was going to be able to handle being apart from her for an entire week?! I was having anxiety just thinking about the separation anxiety… that I, myself, would have experienced. Penny, on the other hand, probably would have barely noticed I was gone — much to the delight of my coworkers, stranger danger just doesn’t really seem to be her thing.

It was an awesome, if admittedly exhausting, conference. My amazing coworker who was also on the planning committee with me managed to score Andrew WK as the guest speaker, so that was freaking epic, and it’s always just such a treat to see my coworkers whom I normally only get to follow from afar.

 
Aside from a hiccup at the beginning of the week, the whole trip felt like a win-win on most fronts, really. Sean and Penny got lots of special bonding time exploring the city together, and I got to reunite with them at the end of each day. And since I wasn’t super distracted fully missing them the whole time, I was better able to focus on the conference, so I came away from the week with lots of new ideas and invigoration that I want to implement back into my role as Yelp Community Manager here in Northern VA.

 
AND it finally gave me a reason to do all the fun touristy stuff that I’ve always intended on doing out in SF, but just never got around to. Can you believe I’ve been out here FIVE times for this annual conference, and yet this was my FIRST trip to see the Golden Gate Bridge?!

That aforementioned hiccup though? Involved Sean taking our poor little Penny-poo to the frickin’ HOSPITAL on the first day of my conference! I woke up that morning and noticed her eyes were really red and puffy, which was alarming but we were like, okay, maybe she’s really tired, she didn’t sleep that well, there’s a big time difference, etc (this was at like 4 AM San Francisco-time.) But then I unzipped her sleeper and saw that she had a crazy rash ALL over her poor little body. And that’s when I really freaked.

 
Since it was the very first day of the conference, I had Sean rush her over to the children’s hospital right away and tried to hold it together while awaiting an update with baited breath. Honestly, having to keep my ish together because I was literally part of the team leading this conference, while my poor baby was being taken to the hospital without me was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Apologies to my two coworkers who almost certainly were not expecting me to break down in tears when they asked me how Penny was doing, lol.

Luckily, the doctors said that despite it looking quite shocking to us, it actually wasn’t a huge deal. PHEW! Official diagnosis was a viral rash — a reaction to either a cold she had previously developed, or something she picked up on the flight. It had pretty much resolved on its own 24 hours later, and also luckily, this all happened so early in the morning that I received the update before Day 1 of our conference had even officially kicked off.

So yeah, I can definitely say that while I learned a lot job-wise on this trip, I learned even more parenting-wise. Because holy mackerel, between crazy early morning rash eruptions,nd just the flights there and back in the first place, I definitely felt like I was put through my paces.

The flights, man. I mean, I knew that flying with Penny as an almost-10-month-old would be different from every other time I’ve flown with her (the most recent being back in March), but I still don’t quite think I was prepared. It certainly cemented the fact that the golden window to travel with your baby really is when they’re still a sleepy little lump, that’s for sure.

This time around Penny was just a little energizer baby — she was so interested in everyone on the plane, so uninterested in staying still, and got so bored. Which I mean, okay, sure, that’s fair. These were the longest flights she’s ever done by quite a bit, and being trapped in a metal box for 5 hours is boring!

But regardless how much I understand why she was hard to manage, it still didn’t make dealing with it in the moment that much easier. There’s the fact that it also took quite a bit of effort to get her to sleep on the plane — she straight up refused to rest or stop moving or basically quiet herself in any way when Sean had her, so getting our little nugget to close her eyes fell solely on me. And unlike in trips past, when popping her on the boob was a surefire way to get her to go to sleep, she is just far too busy and distracted these days to nurse pretty much at all during the day (which is its own issue that I’m dealing with, but that’s for another post methinks.)

Anyway, on the way out to SF, we had an empty seat in our row (HEAVEN!) so I was able to lay back at an angle and drape her over my torso. So despite the fact that we had to get the airport at like 5 AM that day (0_0), the trip out to California wasn’t actually that bad.

Our return flight, however, was completely full, much later in the day, and, of course, happened after a loooong week, so it was a little bit of a different story. Thankfully our row-mate was a super skinny 12-year-old boy, so he really didn’t take up much space and had very large headphones because Penny was a literal handful the entire flight. She didn’t cry all that much or anything, but was just, well, a baby.

Climbing all over us, trying to go back and forth between Sean and me incessantly, and just not. wanting. to. sleep. The only way I was finally able to get her to pass out was by strapping her into her carrier and bouncing in my seat for like half an hour. Ever bounced a 20-lb weight for thirty minutes straight?

Every single muscle in my body is sore today, lol. I’m guessing it also has something to do with all the walking, holding her, and general stress/craziness that the week as a whole entailed, but I feel like I did back-to-back Crossfit sessions. I really need to get back into better shape if I’m going to be able to continue keeping up with her!

Anyway, with that, I actually think I’m going to sign off here. I usually write my blog posts the night before they go up, and miraculously, Penny went to bed at 7 PM EAST COAST TIME, despite sleeping in until at 11:45 AM yesterday. So basically, she might actually be some kind of magic baby who can get back on schedule after just one night?! Which means even though my jetlagged body thinks it’s only 9 PM right now, it’s actually midnight and I should already be sleeping (as my wakeup call is sure to come sooner than I’d like.)

I fully intend to chat about what it’s like living in a hotel with a baby in my next post though, so let’s just consider this post Part 1 of our San Franciscan adventure. See you back here soon!

Happy Week of Thanksgiving!

As the title of this post says, Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends!

As a special Thanksgiving treat, this little turkey decided to sleep for almost SIX (!!) hours straight IN HER CRIB last night, so I feel like a brand new woman!

Last we spoke, I was regaling you with tales of sleeplessness and wanting to continue getting Penny used to her crib. And so, in desperation, I ordered the Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit on Amazon and while this thing may make her look like an actual human marshmallow, dang, does it work!

 
I’ll definitely review it in more detail soon, but so far I am extremely happy with having purchased this baby snowsuit. Penny’s slept in her crib for four nights now, and is sleeping for increasingly long stretches of time. Last night’s six hours was certainly a record… praise be!

Anyway, all of this great sleeping and almost getting her on an actual bedtime schedule comes just in time to wreck it completely by traveling, hehe. Sean, Penny, and I are doing up Turkey Day with the Fox Family in Texas this year, and we’re so excited! Having already flown with Penny once, it’s nice not to be worried about the trip itself, and it’s going to be so great to introduce Penny to so many members of her family, including her great-grandmother!

This truly has been a week packed with family fun, since Penny got to spend some extra time with my parents during the week while I ran around to various post-car accident doctor’s appointments, and then this past weekend we also jaunted down to Williamsburg for a day to introduce Penny to her other great-grandmother on Sean’s side. 🙂

Sean’s mom prepared a huge Thanksgiving lunch for the occasion, so I got to stuff my gullet full of turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, potatoes au gratin, and cranberry sauce. I loooooove Thanksgiving food, so I was a veeeeeery happy camper. And I’m even more excited now to repeat the culinary experience on actual Thanksgiving, hehe.

My college bestie, Bethany, also lives in Williamsburg with her hubby and their littles, so we stopped in to see them as well and did some baby swappin’ hehe.

And then we also stopped by Sean’s parents’ house house on our way back home too for a quick visit with his dad (who wasn’t able to join us in Williamsburg.)

The family fun didn’t stop with that, of course, since I convinced my brother and sister-in-law to come out and take some family photos of us the next day, hehe. I definitely learned a lot about what to do and not to do when it comes to taking professional photos with an infant, lol, but despite the windy weather and the fact that I woke her up from her nap for it, I’m confident we got at least a couple of good shots!

I’m so excited to get the photos back and put together our holiday card this year, since we have an especially wonderful reason to celebrate the season! We’re already entering my favorite time of the year, and it really is all the more special and exciting now that we get to share the holidays with Penny. I’m so thankful for this little nugget! I know I pretty much complained every single second of my pregnancy, but hot damn, was it worth it.

Okay, okay, I’m ceasing with the sappiness. I’ve just got lots to be thankful for this year, that’s all. 🙂

Anyway, with the traveling and craziness of the holiday, I probably won’t be checking back in on here until next week, so until then, happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Penny Takes Flight: Flying with an Infant

Hi there, folks! Penny and I just got back from Atlanta after great visit with my sister, her hubs, and their littles!

 
 
I gotta say, nothing really puts the struggles of mothering one baby into perspective like visiting a household with a baby PLUS a four-year-old AND two-year-old. My sister = #supermom for REAL.

Mia and Kira were soooo sweet with Penny, and I loved getting to see my new nephew Alex again — he’s already changed so much since he was up here with Jenny last month! He’s just three and a half weeks older than Penny, so it’s really cool getting to see a little glimpse into her developmental future.

 
I had a wonderful time visiting, as I always do (if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you probably know that my sister and I visit each other A LOT), but this trip obviously was a smidgen more stressful this time due to it being the first time I was traveling with, y’know, my new baby. Sean had to work as he sadly used up most of his PTO when Penny was born, so I was also flying solo (pun intended).

But I’m happy to report that we successfully survived both the flight there and back! We flew Southwest from DCA to ATL, and the process was pretty painless all the way through. Getting Penelope on my itinerary was super easy, I just called Southwest a couple days before our flight and they added her to my ticket as a lap infant.

Then, at the airport I just had to go to the ticket counter where they issued her a Boarding Verification Document — kind of like her very own boarding pass, hehe.

Everything from there on out was business as normal! Those of you who have flown Southwest before know that there are no assigned seats, just a boarding group order (A, B, or C) that’s determined when you check-in for your flight. I didn’t want to worry about having to check in exactly 24 hours before my flight, so I paid for Early Bird checkin (guarantees you an A group spot). In retrospect, however, I realize that I’m now able to do family boarding (in between A & B groups) so I won’t have to worry about checking in on time again for like the next 6 years! Gahahaha.

We sat in the window and lucked out with an empty middle seat on both flights (funny how holding up your baby makes people less inclined to sit with you, hahahaha. Penny did ooookay on the flight down to Atlanta — she didn’t fall asleep until a little after halfway through the flight and was a smidgen fussy, so I tried to nurse her on the plane but got really flustered (I still haven’t really mastered nursing in public and planes make for especially tight quarters.) But once she fell asleep she was out for the count (huzzah!), and fortunately even when she was fussing, her little cries were drowned out by the plane noise. The people seated behind us said they didn’t even realize there was a baby in front of them when we landed, hehe.

On the flight back home, she slept pretty much the entire time which was awesome. All in all, two successful flights — one slightly more successful than the other, hehe.

And now that I’ve gone through the process of traveling with an infant, I definitely feel way more confident about doing it more in the future. Sean and I are going to Texas to see his family for Thanksgiving, and even though the flight will be twice as long, it’s going to be twice as easy because just having an extra set of hands is going to be sooooooo helpful. The hardest part about flying with Penny by myself really wasn’t the actual flight, it was more getting through the airport and security and whatnot. It was kind of a challenge juggling her while breaking down the stroller + carseat at security and then again on the gangplank (to gate check them.)

I did bring my Baby K’Tan carrier and found it super helpful. It’s kind of like the cheater’s version of a baby sling/wrap — it’s made of two loops and you can kind of wear it like an infinity scarf when you’re not using it, making it incredibly convenient to travel with! I was able to pop her into it while waiting in line on the gangplank, which freed up my hands to deal with the stroller and carseat once I got to the plane door. Also if you don’t already have a backpack style diaper bag, I highly recommend getting one (I have the Ju-Ju-Be BFF, a gift from my amazing friend Jackie), as just having your hands free as much as possible is what you wanna go for if you’re traveling alone.

My other rather obvious tip is that you’re going to want to give yourself plenty of extra time at the airport. Depending on which airports you’re flying in/out of, you might be able to use the stroller lane to get through security more quickly (ATL offers this), but time still goes by crazy fast when you’re taking your baby in and out of her carseat, changing diapers, and waiting for the big stall to open up in the bathroom — not to mention if you’ve got to feed baby before takeoff!

 

Some of my other travel tips include:

  • Bring extra pacifiers — In a hilarious turn of events that would probably only happen to me, I dropped two of her pacifiers on the airplane floor in the span of like 3 minutes. Airplane floor + baby’s mouth = not gonna happen so I was really glad that I had so many extras.

  • Bring one or two little bottles of ready-made formula for emergencies. As mentioned, I nursed her on the flight there and nursed her in the airport before flying home, but snagged a couple 2oz bottles of ready-to-go formula just in case things had gotten hairy while on the plane. I ended up using one when she got hangry as we were waiting for Sean to pick us up from the airport.
  • Wear something with pockets – I can’t tell you how many times my phone slid off of my legs when I shifted Penny on my lap. Luckily I had very understanding people sitting in the aisle seat that kept picking it up for me, but just one flipping pocket would have made a world of difference, hahaha.
  • Get a PopSocket for your phone. Not only will it make your phone easier to hold (thus lessening the likelihood of dropping said phone on your child NOT THAT I’VE EVER DONE THAT) but you’ll be able to take all the unabashed sleeping-baby-plane-selfies your heart desires.
  • Bring a portable phone charger as well, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll put your diaper bag juuuuuust far enough under the seat that you’re unable to reach it once baby falls asleep, and all you’ll have within reach is your phone. So your only entertainment options during the flight are to browse social media thanks to Southwest’s $8 wifi, or stare at the back of the seat in front of you.

So yeah, I’d say that Penny’s jetsetting life is off to a good start! If you have any questions about my experience traveling with a baby, lay ’em on me — I’m sure I left tons out, heh. And until next time…!