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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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…!

Adios, Playa Mujeres! (Weigh-in #4)

I’m back from Mexico, and, miraculously, I managed to get a significant (for me) tan and an insignificant (also for me) number of mosquito bites. Huzzah!

As I think I mentioned, Sean and I headed to Playa Mujeres this past weekend to celebrate two of my wonderful friends getting married. This was my first destination wedding, and it was a ton of fun! It also helped that my brother and sister-in-law were the wedding photographers, so it was like a family vacation wrapped up in a friend vacation wrapped up in a wedding celebration. So, pretty much all of my favorite things combination!

My friendship journey with Kim and Jon has been such a testament to how many wonderful changes came about from me changing careers and starting to work at Yelp. See, I met Kim at one of my very first Yelp events. You know that feeling of just straight-up clicking with someone when you first meet them? Well, that was how it was. Kim has¬†such a warm, friendly, and welcoming spirit, I knew I wanted to be friends IRL right away. And when I met Jon a few weeks later, it was the same thing. They’re such fantastic people, both individually and together, and it was such a delight to get to see these two lovebirds tie the knot.

Speaking of tying the knot, attending this wedding also did great things for my own¬†post-wedding sanity. It showed me that whether you’re¬†planning a destination wedding in Mexico or a winter wedding in Alexandria, Mother Nature’s gonna show up to crap all over you and things are going to go wrong. So while I feel for Kimmy that it poured cats and dogs on her wedding day, it really did provide me with a little bit of peace with regard to¬†my own blizzard wedding, hahaha.

Either way,¬†we still had a great time celebrating with the bride and groom. This was the first destination wedding that I’ve ever attended, and I gotta say, I definitely get the appeal. In addition to the vacation life that attending¬†a destination wedding pretty much comes with, it was also just really nice to be able to meet and get to know so many of the wedding guests before the big day!

The resort that we stayed at (Finest Playa Mujeres) probably deserves an entire post to describe my, well, complicated feelings towards it, and I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on all-inclusive resorts after this (my first) experience. The short version of the story is that the resort was beautiful and very clean and the staff was like 95% wonderful, but the food was legitimately terrible and Taylor and I both came home to find out that staff stole money from¬†our wallets in our rooms.¬†But! Overall we still had a good¬†time celebrating with friends (and making new ones!) and genuinely could not be more thrilled for the new Mr. & Mrs.¬†ūüôā

I guess¬†the good thing about the food being awful is that, despite being at an all-inclusive (and, therefore, all-you-can-eat) resort, I barely gained¬†weight while being away! So, I’m still pretty much sitting at my pre-Savannah weight, but here’s my¬†official post-vacation weigh-in for those of you who are keeping track.

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.8 lbs
Current Weight: 241.9
Difference: +.1 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.3 lbs

Between all the¬†traveling and vacationing and ignoring MyFitnessPal over the past few weeks, I’m honestly not feeling discouraged right now. In the past, a few weeks of non-losses like this would have likely sent me into a shame spiral about not doing enough, not doing it fast enough, etc. But if anything, it’s actually been encouraging that all I’m dealing with is a couple of ounces here or there (which, frankly, if it’s less than half a pound, I’m barely counting it anyway.)¬†Either way, now that I’ve returned home, I’ll be getting back into a regular schedule and be able to start whittling myself down again. Onward!

28 Years Young

So, I know it‚Äôs been a minute since I‚Äôve been back in these parts, and I don‚Äôt even have a single excuse (other than, well, y‚Äôknow, life). I truly, honestly, genuinely meant to get back to blogging much sooner than this, what with all the wedding DIY projects I want to share, various trips I’ve taken, and additional hair colors I’ve gone¬†through.

So I apologize for taking so long to get back to my blogging roots. But today I make my triumphant return to the interwebs and we begin again!

First off, some updates:

  • I chopped off my hair basically the minute I returned from my honeymoon, and have proceeded to dye it varying¬†shades of purple and also shave designs into the back of my head. I’m kind of loving it.

  • I got a new tattoo about a month ago. It’s a vial of Felix Felicis, the liquid luck potion from Harry Potter, and I think it’s pretty rad. I got it done at Patriots Tattoo in Fairfax.

  • Sean’s grandfather sadly¬†passed away at the end of February, so we took a quick trip down to San Antonio to be with his family. We are so grateful that¬†he was able to be at the wedding and that we got as much time with him as we did. <3

  • We had our annual Yelp regional conference a few weeks ago, which not only gave¬†me the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by my¬†coworkers (our team spans from PA to NC), but¬†also to bust out my trusty Pikachu onesie. (#bestjobever)

  • My niece/goddaughter Mia also turned 3 at the end of March! Unghhhh,¬†look how little she used to be…

  • And finally, speaking of birthdays…

Today is mine! Huzzah! I am 28 years young today which means it‚Äôs time to update my bio and start thinking about what to put on my before-I-turn-30 bucket list, heh. Fun fact: I don’t know if I’ve already shared this, but Sean’s mom and I actually have the same birthday! So did he luck out or what? He only has to remember the one date for both of us! ūüėČ

I spent this past weekend in Macon, GA with my family for my baby¬†niece Kira’s baptism, but we also snuck in an early birthday celebration while we were all together. We went to Dovetail, this awesome hyper-local farm-to-table concept — my kinda place.

I know I probably say this every year, but I think that 28 is shaping up to be my best year yet! I mean, I’ve¬†already¬†got a blizzard wedding under my belt, so pretty much everything in life seems easy breezy in comparison. I’m still loving my kickass job with Yelp, I’ve got a rad family, a home into which I can¬†pour all my post-wedding extracurricular energy (a post on my obsession with my new bar cart is forthcoming), and my awesome grumpy old man pups (plus I basically timeshare my brother’s dog Pixel).

And as a perfect birthday present, I just received my wedding video! So please, feast your eyes on the wonderful video that the wonderful Doug Stanford created, which really showcases just how awesome and crazy and sentimental and special our wedding day really was.

Those last shots at the end are my favorite. ūüôā

With that, I leave you for now — with the promise that much more is to come soon. (Although, I realize that my promises mean essentially nothing to you, since I’ve been promising to blog more for like, a year. Hahahaha…haha…ha.) I fly back to DC tonight (still in Macon for the day), so I’ll catch you on the flip!

From Muggle to Mrs

Hiiiiiiii!

Another month has passed which means I’m still pretty much the worst blogger ever. But! I have lots to update you on, so let’s just breeze right on past all the standard contrition and jump right into the good stuff.

My November kicked off with an epic bridal shower which was, much to my delight, Harry Potter-themed!

I had no idea it was Harry Potter-themed, but was obviously VERY happy when I walked in the door. My awesome bridesmaids also pulled off a second surprise when my bridesmaid Holly surprised me by coming for the bridal shower… from Canada! It was all kinds of perfect.

 

The bridal shower was wonderful — having a whole bunch of my friends all together in one place, sharing memories and, of course, getting to open presents (bahaha). They really went all out with the decorations and special touches — there was a “pensieve” where folks could write down their favorite Gretchen memory, and they made a batch of Felix Felicis as a¬†(super delicious) specialty drink.

We also played a game where I had to answer a bunch of questions that my sister had previously asked Sean. You know, stuff like “What’s Gretchen’s favorite color?” (He got it right) and “What’s the theme of your wedding?” (He got it wrong, hahahahaha.) Then, if I guessed what he answered correctly, I got a doller, and if I got it wrong, I had to stick a piece of Bubble Yum in my mouth.

It was hilarious and terrible. My sister was a ruthless game host¬†— Sean misread one of the¬†questions (the question was “What was your first date?” but he answered it as if it was¬†“When was your first date?”), Jenny still asked me the question, which of course I got wrong because he didn’t even answer it correctly!

So by the end I had 14 pieces of gum in my mouth and 15 dollers. So I still came out ahead!

The only problem I had with my bridal shower was how short it felt! The two-hours literally FLEW by. My friends said that it’ll seem¬†even faster on the actual wedding day, so I guess it was good preparation, but still! It was just that much fun. I’m a really lucky gal to have such wonderful friends and family. ūüôā

And speaking of family, the wedding festivities didn’t end there! One week after the bridal shower, my entire family headed down to Houston to see my grandmother.

As most of you know, I am half-Chinese, and for both of my siblings’ weddings, we’ve performed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at the rehearsal dinner. We’ll be doing the same thing at my own rehearsal dinner, but since my grandmother’s health isn’t too great and she can’t travel, we went down to Houston to do the tea ceremony with¬†her early.

It was really special, and some of Sean’s family who live in Texas were also able to come out and join in!

Everything else that’s been going on over the past month has been just one giant mix of wedding planning and work stuff. I’ve actually got an Elite Event tonight — our annual Yelp Northern Virginia holiday party! So tonight should be full of fun and festiveness — two of my favorite things!

I also finally checked off two of the remaining big ticket items on my wedding to-do list. I finished all of the centerpiece bottles I’ve been working on (my nightmares are nothing but glitter and Mod Podge), and I finally placed my floral order!

Dude, I know that a lot of you think I am certifiably insane for wanting to do¬†my own wedding flowers, but this is what I have to say about that:¬†I’m spending less than $500 on my wedding flowers. And after several multi-thousand dollar quotes from florists, I am perfectly happy to put in the legwork (with the help of a couple of my¬†crafty bridesmaids!) and put this stuff together at home.

At Potomac Floral Wholesale, that amount got me 125 Milky Way roses, 50 Emely roses, 20 White Akito roses, 40 hydrangeas, 6 bunches of stock, 2 bunches of dusty miller, 1 bunch of silver brunia, 1 bunch of wax flowers, 4 bunches of glittered birch branches, and some additional floral supplies. Flowers everywhere!

Also, there are WAY TOO MANY different kinds of roses. Part of the reason it took me so long to place the order was just because¬†I was overwhelmed with how many different kinds of roses there are! I know most brides would never risk doing their flowers on their own in the first place, and even for brides¬†that are into that, they probably¬†don’t have time to research all the different varieties (or they probably just don’t care as much as I apparently do!) But, that being said, if you are one in that small percentage¬†of extra-crazy brides like moi and want to¬†learn more, there are rose comparison studies on the website Flirty Fleurs that I found ridiculously¬†helpful.

Okay, I’ll wrap it up for now, but we’re really getting into the home stretch here! Now that it’s officially Decemeber, I can actually say that my¬†wedding is NEXT MONTH and not be lying.

Unghhhhghghh wait that’s too real I’m not ready ahhhhhhhhhhhh