Thanksgiving Recap & Christmas Ahoy!

Happy December, everyone!

I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving holiday (though I know I’m already like, 2 weeks late on the well-wishes for that… it’s been busy around here!). Sean, Penny, my parents, and I all joined Sean’s family for Thanksgiving this year, and it was epic. Penny enjoyed turkey but really went wild for the homemade mac ‘n’ cheese that I contributed to dinner, which made me swell with pride.

We also had a mini-second-Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house with Ben, Taylor, and Marnie (who spent actual Turkey Day with Tay’s family) and because of course my mom randomly happened to have an entire second turkey that she needed to cook. Oh well, any excuse for more tryptophan-induced food comas is A-OK by me!

Going back to my parents’ house this week also gave us the opportunity to help my dad pull out some holiday decorations, and had me tripping down memory lane when I found an old photo album filled with baby pictures of yours truly! Which confirmed what lots of strangers stop to tell me anytime I’m out with Penny, which is that she really is my mini!!

 

Well, my strawberry-blonde, blue-eyed mini. ūüėČ

And actually, turns out I got quite a bit of extra time in with my parents over Thanksgiving week, since the weekend after I went with them to the Kennedy Center to see the National Symphony Orchestra’s Decade of Disney concert.

 

Sadly, my Thanksgiving weekend did not end on a tremendously high note, as Sunday I came down with some kind of crazy stomach bug / food poisoning / some kinda something that had me hugging the porcelain throne all night long. UGH. Not sure what happened there, but it had me pretty much out of commission for most of Sunday and Monday. Blech.

I’m feeling much better now, but between getting sick after returning from Atlanta, Thanksgiving, and then that lovely ’bout of illness, it had been a seriously hot minute since I’d been to the gym or worked out at all. I also made the potentially grave error of agreeing to a Christmas Eve 5K with my sister and some friends, however, so I knew that I needed to get back on the horse soon.

I felt better on Tuesday, so I managed to drag myself to the gym and put in a half-hearted workout. Not great, but it was something. And then on Wednesday and Friday, I managed to do some real running and real lifting. Training-wise, even on the mend from being sick, I managed to make it to 1.6 miles, so hopefully by the time 12/24 rolls around I’ll actually be able to do the full 5K.

  

Anyway, that pretty much catches us up to today! And as today is, y’know, December, this officially means we are BRINGING ON THE CHRISTMAS CHEER!!

You can find me (and Penny… and the dogs…) dressed festively for the next 22 days and I’m not even a little bit sorry.

 

On the work-front, I’ve got my regional summit the first half of this upcoming week, so I’ll be camping out at Yelp’s DC office pretty much nonstop for the next couple of days. We all had dinner together last night, and it was great — I love getting to see so many of my coworkers (we all work remotely, so it’s one of the few opportunities each year for all of us to get together), but as I’m sure anyone who’s ever had a work conference derail your daily duties a bit, it’s also for sure going to make for a bit of a crazy week.

And even though I so treasure this time spent with my regional team, it is a teeeeny bit bittersweet. I mean, it’s really only because I’m so spoiled, but even though Penny goes to daycare twice a week, I’ve never had to worry about stuff like traffic and commuting during rush hour — this morning will be my first taste of that. So I’m dropping her off extra early and will just have make peace with the fact that the 20 minutes I spent with her first thing in the morning is the only time I’m gonna get with my girl over the next couple of days (since I’ll be getting home loooooong after she’s gone to bed.) I know, I know, this is the daily reality for tons of parents so I should probably just shut my face. It’s just not my¬†daily reality, so it makes me a little wistful. Also, she hardly eeeeeever naps at daycare so, you know, pray for Sean.

Anyway, on that optimistic note, I’ll bid you adieu for now! Hope everyone has a super fun, festive week as we really start getting into the holiday spirit, and Happy Hanukkah to my friends who are celebrating!

 

A Routine Life

So, those of you who have been longtime readers or followers of mine have gleaned at least a little bit about my job. I work for Yelp as a Community Manager right here on the ground in Northern VA.

While it generally speaking falls under the umbrella of “marketing”, this role is pretty unique, even amongst jobs at Yelp. It’s a full-time job (sometimes more than full-time, if I’m being honest), but I work remotely (even with the recent opening of Yelp’s DC office¬†since I only go in once a week…ish, hehe) which means I have the incredible luxury of making my work situation pretty much whatever I want it to be.

Am I going into the office? Do I want to squat in a coffee shop all day? Put my desk at home to actual use? Or work from my couch with Parks & Rec playing through in the background for the 40th time? (YES, NETFLIX, I AM STILL WATCHING.) This freedom also extends to my schedule — I am not beholden to the same 9-5 situation to which many others have to adhere. And every day looks very different.

I might pop open my laptop first thing in the morning, head out for an in-person meeting, meet a friend for lunch, have back-to-back conference calls, and then have to go prep for an evening event. Maybe it is a day when I need to go into the actual office. Or I might sleep in, go out for coffee, run some errands, and then settle back in at my computer and work until late into the evening.

Anyway, I say all this not to brag about my job (which is admittedly awesome and I know I am very lucky to have it), nor did I intend for this post to be a deep-dive into what my daily life looks like (though this does remind me that I’ve been promising to write up another Day in the Life post for a long while now, lol.) I just thought that explaining what I do in a little more detail would help illustrate the point that I¬†am trying to get at, which is this:

Because my life has so much flexibility, it also lacks any semblance of routine.

For over five years, I have rarely had to set an alarm clock. I don’t have a specific bedtime. I don’t eat meals at the same time each day. I don’t have a laundry day, or a meal prep day, or a date night. Save for a few rare regularly scheduled calls, my calendar never looks the same from one week to the next.

And for the better part of five years, it’s been pretty great. There have been tons of benefits that I have heartily taken advantage of — taking care of errands and appointments during the day, sleeping in, regularly getting to see my friends, and, of course, getting to be around my daughter so much more than the typical full-time working mom.

But it’s a double-edged sword, right? Because with all of those perks also comes the burden of not being able to predict how a given day might go, not being able to slide into the familiarity or comfort of “your old routine.” Which, granted, hasn’t really been an issue until lately.

But lately,¬†I’ve been feeling pretty down, and thanks to the prodding of some of friends, I finally took the initiative to find a therapist to talk to — something I honestly should have been doing for a long time now. I have only just started therapy, but already in our short time together she has helped me realize how frazzled and frantic and overwhelmed I am. And while I’m sure it’s really, really common, especially for new moms, it’s still not something I like to admit. I mean, who loves admitting that they no longer know how to handle just like, life? Especially given all of the advantages that I have — a perfect baby, a husband, close family, a decent salary, all that aforementioned flexibility… I know I have a really good situation overall. Which is why it was kind of hard for me to admit that I’ve been feeling depressed & overwhelmed in the first place — because it’s like, with all the privileges I am afforded, I should have no reason not to be happy.

(Sidenote: My therapist did tell me to stop “shoulding on myself” (heh.) Like, to stop saying things like “I feel like I shouldn’t even feel this way because I have it so good!”or “I should just be happy because there are other people who have it so much worse,” since my struggles are my struggles and my feelings are still valid. This is actually a rather difficult concept for me to digest, and one I think I’m going to need to let percolate a little more before I really try and dig into it, but I digress.)

I know I’m not the first woman to feel like she is being pulled in a thousand different directions and finding it hard to cope. I think we’re all trying to find some way to balance all of the various roles we have to play: mother, wife, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, manager, employee — and that doesn’t even touch the roles we form around our hobbies and interests: writer, blogger, photographer, advocate, bookworm, crafter, gamer… and ten zillion more.

I’ve been able to identify that the loosey-goosey, whatever, whenever approach I’ve had towards work (and towards my life in general) is currently adding to my feelings of overwhelm…ed…ness? And that I’m actually craving some structure, predictability, and routine.

Penny has actually already helped in this arena, quite a lot. I mean, sure, in the beginning, she made things even more frantic and crazy and unpredictable. But both Sean and I recognize that we are supremely lucky to have such a good baby. She sleeps well, she eats well, and she has a strong internal clock that has given me at least a modicum of a routine when it comes to her.

But I have a lot further to go. I need to create boundaries — my work & home & social lives all kind of blend and bleed together, and even though I have what’s considered a “lifestyle job,” I need to realize that it’s okay for those things to be a little more separate. I need to figure out how to focus on one thing at a time, be mindful of my current task, and then allow myself to move onto the next one. When it’s time to work, I want to be able to focus on work. When I’m catching up with a friend, I want to be able to focus on my friend. When it’s time to be with Penny, I really want to be able to focus on feeding/snuggling/playing with Penny.

Basically, I just want to do less of what I currently do, which is hard to even articulate properly but is a little more like… this:

*opens laptop* Okay, time to answer these emails about the event I have happening tomorrow, and then I’ll do the ones having to do with next week’s event, oh, next week I’m also going back to Atlanta, I need to call Southwest and add Penny as a lap infant to my ticket *opens tab to Southwest.com* Hmm, do I have time to get a pedicure before I go, oh crap, by the time I come back my car registration will have expired, I need to get my emissions test done *opens tab to Google gas station’s inspection hours* okay, scrap the pedicure, I don’t need to spend the money on that anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve checked Mint, better see where we’re at with this month’s budget *opens tab to Mint.com* oh man, there’s the tab to my Nordstrom cart, the Anniversary Sale is ending soon and this is SUCH good deal on Baby Bling Bows, maybe I should check out — no! I told myself no more baby bows *closes out of tab* *finally sends one email*

Ahem. So, you know, that’s not great.

Anyway, my “homework” from my initial therapy session is a two-parter: 1) to start thinking of ways that I can create structure and routine for my daily life, and 2) to try (tryyyyyy) to be more mindful, focused, and in-the-moment as I go through the day. I definitely have my work cut out for me with the latter part, but I feel like I’ve already been laying the groundwork for the former. Especially as my recent health initiative¬†has me embracing a kind of morning to-do list, made up of things I should have been doing ALL ALONG FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE like eating breakfast & taking vitamins.

 
Plus, like I mentioned, Penny has me following at least some kind of loose structure at the beginning of each day — it’s just get a smidgen more complicated because while we have a steady childcare schedule, it’s not consistent from day to day. So the mornings when she goes to daycare are different than the mornings when she’s with my parents or mother-in-law.

My idea to help overcome this is to officially integrate fitness into my routine (I almost said “back into my routine” but who are we kidding? I’ve never had a true fitness routine hahaha.) For like, the first time in my entire life, I’m actually feeling a kind of… dare I say…¬†desire to exercise. (Ew.) I don’t know if it’s coming from my weight loss, or because my therapist suggested or out of my postulations that I want to get healthy for Penny (I’m particularly concerned about my longterm heart health right now — but mayhaps I’ll delve into that at another time), but whatever the exact reason, I figure I need to capitalize on this rare, completely-out-of-character motivation.

So I went online and signed up for a free pass to a nearby gym this morning, and am doing the same at another one on Friday. Both facilities have kid’s clubs and are close by, so my hope is that I’ll be able to create a morning routine where I go to the gym at around the same time every morning — on the days when Penny is in daycare, I’ll drop her off first, and on the days when she isn’t, I’ll bring her with me. The rest of my day might still end up looking like a trash panda straight-up ripped into the garbage bag of my life, but at least I’ll be starting each off day with consistency and on the right foot.

This sounds great in theory, of course, but my visit to the first gym today (Gold’s) unfortunately didn’t leave me with a great impression. Partly because their kid’s club was insane — there was 1 adult and like 25 kids in there — and partly because of my own insecurities and discomfort over a) working out at all, and b) working out in public. But while that gym would have been my first choice based on location (it’s suuuuuper close to Penny’s daycare), I have high hopes for the second one. And I’m also looking into non-gym alternatives like boutique fitness places that offer childcare and Fit4Mom Stroller Strides. As long as I can hodgepodge them together into some kind of cohesive, regular routine.

Anyway, so that’s the latest in Gretchen’s Journey to Self-Improvement & Sanity™. I’m still feeling pretty positive and optimistic about being able to make lasting changes, but I’m trying to remain relatively guarded about it as well. Knowing my tendency to jump headfirst into things, only to abandon them later, I want to make sure I’m making manageable changes, and for the right reasons this time. That way, I hopefully really will be able to say I’m making positive changes to last me a lifetime.

Go forth!

Day in the Life: Office Mom Edition

Aloha! So, the last time I wrote up a Day in the Life post, Penny was only 2 months old and¬†I was still on maternity leave. It kind of feels like I just wrote that post up, but clearly it’s been a while!¬†And since I’ve returned to work and Penny is now almost 6 months old, I’d say that more than a few things have changed, haha. Because I work from home 4/5 days a week, things still look pretty different from one to the next. There are just so many factors that inform my daily schedule: who I have helping out with Penny (our part-time nanny, my mother-in-law, or my parents), if I have in-person meetings or calls scheduled, if I have an Elite Event that evening, etc.

So I’m thinking I’ll be doing another day in the life post sooner rather than later to try and give a picture of what things are like for me when I’m at home vs. going into DC, but since yesterday was an office day, you get the latter first!

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4 AM:¬†Our day starts bright & early (or, more accurately, dark & drearily), as Penny wakes up happily in her crib at 4 AM after having gone to bed at 7 PM the previous night. She’s just chat, chat, chatting away, petting her unicorn, and being adorably AWAKE. After a little while, I go down to her room and replace her pacifier with foolish optimism, but she has absolutely nooooo interest in going back to sleep. Oh well! I go back upstairs and watch the monitor hoping in vain that she’ll fall asleep again eventually… spoiler alert: she doesn’t.

4:45 AM: She finally starts to fuss, so Sean goes down and brings her upstairs to me so I can nurse her. She nurses for like 20 minutes per side and we both fall back asleep when she’s on the second side — whoops! We snooze until almost 7:30.

 
7:30 AM: Time to get up! I nurse Penny again (just for 5 minutes), change her wet diaper, and then go downstairs to let the dogs out. I also pick out her outfit for the day and get her dressed, since her room is on our downstairs level.

I also toss a load of laundry in the machine while we’re downstairs, as I’m trying to make a habit of doing small loads of laundry more often. Y’know, instead of my previous way of doing it, which was to wait until I’m literally wearing my last pair of clean underwear and then spend two days doing like 6 separate loads, lol.

When I come back upstairs, I feed the dogs their breakfast and supplements, Penny and I play a little bit, and I take her daily #OOTD photos, hehe. She’s sitting up SO well these days — self-correcting when she starts to teeter to one side, and even pulled herself into an upright sitting position when I placed her leaning back on the pillow! So proud of my strong little girl. <3

8 AM: I place Penny in her new Bumper Jumper for some self-play and sit down at my desk to go through my emails.

JUST KIDDING! My computer has decided to update itself all on its own because Skynet is nigh.

So I fill out my Panda Planner for the day, check my email on my phone, and get myself ready… giving a little extra attention to my hair & makeup since I have the time, lol. I am going into the office today anyway, I guess I should make myself presentable?

 
Penny lasts a good half hour in her jumper (!!), but when she gets tired of it, I give her favorite teether to her and hold her in my lap while I put my newly-perfected one-handed typing skills to use and respond to a few emails.

9 AM: Penny is showing signs of tiredness, so I go try to put her down for her first nap of the day.

She is pretty fussy once I lay her down (she has been fighting this morning nap pretty hard for the past couple of days), so it takes some extra time and some extra nursing (3 minutes) to get her calmed down. I lay her back in her crib and she finally falls asleep at 9:30.

9:50 AM: My mother-in-law arrives, so it’s time for me to head out! Typically, I’d have taken Penny over to my parents’ house before going into the office, and Sean’s mom comes and helps out on a different day. My parents are out of town visiting my sister and their other grandchildren this week, however, so Kim to the rescue! She texts me while I’m en route to work to let me know that Penny woke up at 10:15 — her classic short 45-minute nap.

10:45 AM: There was an accident or something causing a ton of traffic, so it takes almost an hour to get to the office even though rush hour was supposed to have been over by the time I left. Womp womp. Oh well, eventually I do make it to Yelp’s brand spankin’ new Chinatown office! H/T to my coworker Kimberly for the rad pic of our reception area below:

10:50 AM: I dump my stuff at my desk and head right to the Mother’s Room and pump first thing.

 
Somehow, I managed to remember to shove my pumping bra into my bag but forgot pretty much everything else, including extra containers to hold my milk. Thankfully Yelp is awesome and the Mother’s Room is not only stocked with the pump itself (every pumping mama gets their own set of flanges, tubing, and milk storage bottles), but also has spare parts for exactly this type of situation. I make a note in my planner to bring some storage bags to keep here at the office next week, though.

11 AM: I make a quick trip to the kitchen to grab some coffee and hodgepodge together a super late breakfast, since I haven’t eaten anything yet today. Definitely not a good habit… something I’m definitely trying to work on! I make myself a piece of toast with nutella and banana, and grab a strawberry Chobani, a hard-boiled egg, and some coffee. Yeah, our office kitchen is pretty boss.

I finally have a few minutes to bang out some actual work — responding to messages, queueing up emails, setting appointments, doing backend work, etc.

 
11:30 AM: Time for my weekly 1:1 with my boss. This used to be done on the phone, but now we can meet in person whenever possible and it’s so nice to get time to catch up and discuss what I have going on work-wise. Our meeting lasts half an hour, and afterwards I head back to my desk and keep plugging away at my to-do list!

Having Penny around has definitely taught me to be much more efficient with my time when I have work to do. A few hours of uninterrupted time at my computer probably doesn’t seem like much to most people, but I’m able to fly through my task list because I’m so focused on making the most of my time in the office.

I do have two more calls on my agenda today — our weekly team call at 1 PM, and a call related to a special project I’m working on at 2:30.

2:45 PM: After my last call of the day, I enjoy a late lunch with my coworkers in the office. This is my favorite part of having an office to go into — getting to see my colleagues on a regular basis! I’m already one of the lucky ones in the Community Manager program at Yelp, since my coworkers in DC and the MD Burbs are so close by (plus our boss, who also lives in DC), and we’ve been able to get together relatively regularly over the years. But having the office now means we see each other on an even more frequent basis! Forget the Coke Freestyle machine — getting to spend time with my work fam is 100% my favorite office perk.

Anyway, after we finish eating, I go back to my desk to wrap up a few more things with the intention of going to pump again, but my laptop’s mystical powers suck me in and I totally lose track of time. Womp. My mother-in-law lives in Stafford (an hour away without traffic), I want her to be able to head home before she gets stuck in the worst part of rush hour, so I decide to skip pumping and head out.

4 PM: I leave the office to go relieve my MIL from Penny duty! Alas, traffic is already pretty heavy, but that’s DC for ya…

4:50 PM: Reunited and it feels so good! My mother-in-law tells me all about Penny’s day: she napped twice, pooped twice, drank her bottles (hooray!!), and had baby oatmeal and carrots. She unfortunately threw up some of the carrots, but I think otherwise she was pretty good for Grandma! It’s a big relief to know she wasn’t too fussy, and also that she drank her milk since she’s occasionally weird about drinking frozen milk / from bottles (not sure which part is the issue). And of course, it’s also just a huge relief for me to get to snuggle mah baybeh again!

As if watching our little Lucky Penny wasn’t already enough, my wonderful mother-in-law also finished up the laundry that I started this AM. We say bye-bye to Grandma Foxy and I nurse Penny pretty much immediately — it’s been 6 hours since I pumped! She nurses for 11 minutes.

 
5:30 PM:¬†We play together for a bit, before I try to put Penny down in our room for her last catnap of the day. She’s a little distracted though. Hmm, wonder why? ūüėČ

I shoo her brothers away but the DockATot still isn’t cutting it. I can tell she’s really tired though, and if she doesn’t nap soon it’s going to mess with bedtime. So I snuggle up with her and she falls asleep pretty much instantly curled up against me. ::heart eyes emoji:: I certainly ain’t mad about it. Penny cuddles are pretty much the best thing in the entire world, after all.

 
Sean comes home while she’s napping, and because miracles do exist, I’m able to extricate myself from the bed without waking her to say hi to my husband.

6:20 PM: Penny naps for about 40 minutes (the last nap of the day is always a short one), and when she wakes up she is so excited to see her Daddy! It’s the most heartwarming thing ever.

6:45 PM: Sean plays with her a little bit while and then goes to prepare her bath. Penny is a total water baby and looooves the bath! She’s starting to get pretty big for our Schnuggle tub, though — when she splish-splashes, it goes everywhere now! Might have to move on up to the real bathtub soon ::sniff::

We wrap her up in a little bunny robe that her nanny gifted us — is she not the cutest little somebunny you ever did see? <3

 
7 PM: We normally try to get our little bunny in bed between 7 and 7:30, so we’re still doing pretty well on time. I nurse her one last time (just 5 minutes), and we get her into her jammies. I’m crazy for this unicorn footie sleeper that we recently picked up at Target (it’s Carter’s Just One You brand). My squeaky clean li’l unicorn!

 
7:15 PM: It’s bedtime! Sean and I have been trying to alternate nights putting her to bed, and tonight it’s my turn. Our bedtime routine is simply to put her in her magic sleepsuit, give her paci & her Zoe to her, and walk out of the room. Half the time she’ll fall asleep within a minute or two, and the other half of the time she needs a little bit of extra TLC. Tonight it’s the latter, but she’s not too bad. She fusses on and off a little bit and loses her paci twice, but I plug it back in and she’s down for the count by 7:30!

7:30 PM: I let the dogs back outside and it’s dinnertime for Sean and me. We eat and watch an episode of Altered Carbon on Netflix — we’ve been really digging it! I definitely recommend if you like sci-fi, murder mysteries, or futuristic thrillers.

8:45 PM: We clean up a bit after dinner and it’s time for some meeeee time! Sean plays a video game, and I throw a face mask on, toss some Friends up on the TV, cuddle up with Daxter by my side and Harry at my feet, and start writing this post!

 
12:00 AM:¬†Sean went to bed at 10:45, but I really wanted to finish this post so it’s looking like a late night for me. Which, honestly, is basically business as usual for me. When you’re trying to balance work & blog & household & self-care, something’s gotta give, and for me, that thing is usually sleep, haha. So anyway, if you see me posting about decluttering my house and momming it up and working and still finding time to do my makeup, just know that being productive, for me, does not come without at least this sacrifice, haha. But whatever man, I’m sure I’ll more than catch up on my sleep when Penny’s a teenager and sleeping until 2 PM every weekend like I did. ūüėõ

One last thing to do before I get ready for bed: pump, as I’ve been trying to build my freezer stash back up (and since I only pumped the one time at work today.) I pump for 9 minutes and get 6 ounces, so I’m really glad that I did!

12:45 AM: Daxter wants to go out one last time, so I wake Old Man Harry up and let both dogs outside while I quickly go through my own bedtime routine: wash my face, put on moisturizer, brush my teeth (accidentally putting facewash on my toothbrush… so maybe this whole sleep thing is taking more of a toll than I thought, eh?) and put my PJs on. Then I bring the dogs back in and crawl into bed a little after 1 AM.

Now we get to wait and see if Penny makes it straight through ’til morning (it’s happened before!) or if we’re in for another 4 AM wakeup call.

Cheers, everyone!

(Morning update: She did not, in fact, wake me up at 4 AM! She woke me up at 3 instead, hahahahacry. Thank goodness for coffee! 😅)

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!

Exciting Announcements

Hi there, amigos! I hope you all have had a great weekend/week so far. I had yesterday off from work in honor of our brave veterans, and today I have a couple of exciting pieces of news for you all!

So first off, I have some relatively exciting (day)job related stuff. Part of the reason I’ve been so busy, and not blogging as regularly/in as timely a manner lately (er, beyond the whole “I’m publishing a book thing“, hehe) is that I’m actually transitioning into a new position at work! I’m not 100% in my new job yet, I’m in kind of a dual-job limbo right now, but that means there’s a lot of running back and forth (my new position is in a different building a couple blocks away from my old one) and a lot of training and whatnot. Still, a lot of changes and things to keep me busy, which is kind of a good thing!

My second piece of news may actually be a little upsetting to some of you. See, for years now, I have been a devoted Apple fangirl. Early adopter of each new iPhone model I’ve been eligible for, I’ve also been in love with the Macbook I got my senior year of college (even after I accidentally cracked the glass display with the heel of my foot… oops), Apple has never let me down. And yet, this weekend, something happened…

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Whoops?

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Yep, I am now the proud owner of an Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook. 13.3″ screen, white and aluminum, and like, 3 pounds. Sa-weet.

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Complete with Windows 8, I tested this puppy out for the first time a week or so prior, and was immediately smitten. I thought I’d had my heart really set on getting a Macbook Air, as my old Macbook has been increasingly slow (and, you know, cracked…) but was going to wait a while before doing so. As it turns out, however, my old laptop had other intentions. Recently, the wifi stopped working on my laptop, so I knew it was time to start the replacement process.

Sean and I stopped in the Microsoft Store at Tysons a week or so ago, to check out their new Surface tablets. While we were there, I started looking at the new laptops, all fitted with Windows 8, and was seriously blown away. The new system is really intuitive, looks GREAT, and was just a lot of fun. Plus, the aesthetics of some of their new machines (especially my new Acer), really give Apple a run for its money. I know that for some of you, looks are the least important part of a computer, but c’mon, nobody’s immune to a really sleek-looking comp. We left the store that day and the cogs were already turning, trying to weigh what I already knew about Macbooks (sleek, fast, great design, reliable) with what I liked about the new PC Ultrabooks.

We went back to the store this past weekend to check them out some more, and after spending over an hour in the store (and watching a Windows 8 demo, etc), I knew what I wanted. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the best part!

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Yep, my new ultrabook has a TOUCHSCREEN. A super responsive and awesome one, too. They say that Windows 8 really was made for touchscreen, and I believe it. I love getting to scroll through things with a swipe of my hand, and it really feels seamless. That said, if you are considering getting Windows 8 installed on your non-touch computer, I’ve heard that it’s a fairly disappointing experience because all those buttons just scream “TOUCH ME!” (Um, in a non-sexual way, obvi.)

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I painted this WITH MY HANDS. Well, and with a ridicuslouly overpriced touchscreen paintbrush that I couldn’t NOT get. I mean, c’mon. I know I’m no fine artist, but dang it if touchscreen doesn’t make it fun to try.

So, there you have it. A couple of exciting snippets for you. Oh, I had a third one, too. Slightly less exciting to normal people, but to people like me who are obsessed with food, this one is a good’n. I’ve officially started testing out new Thanksgiving recipes, which means it is GOOD EATIN’ TIME in my casa.

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Last night’s dinner extraordinatire involved a new recipe for mashed potatoes that I’m trying out (I determined that my Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes recipe is still the reigning champ though).

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I paired the ‘taters with a side of maple and bacon brussels sprouts (amazeballs as always!).

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And a pork chop with a cinnamon apple and onion chutney (or something). Which was effing delicious.

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NOMs all around!

Are you a Mac or a PC? I like to think at this point, I’m a bit of both! I’ve got my PC desktop, my old Macbook, my new ultrabook, and my iPhone 5. Not to mention my brother has his PC dekstop, plus an 11-inch Macbook Air, plus an iPad (and an iPhone 5 as well). Our house is not only biracial, but bicomputersal as well.

Okay, that was lame. I’m done.