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?

Day in the Life – 1st Birthday Week

Hi friends!

It’s been a minute since I’ve popped in with a Day in the Life post (despite all my intentions and promises to do them more frequently — they’re surprisingly time-consuming and also time is like, this insane, ridiculously fast, totally cruel thing right now and somehow it’s already been 6 months since my last one of these?!??!?

A-hem, anyway…

6:30 AM: I hear Penny start to stir via the baby monitor, but she’s just happily chattering and playing in her crib when I check the video feed, so I promptly throw a pillow over my head and try to go back to sleep. “Try” is the operative word, since I’ve been having a very difficult time falling and staying asleep lately, so while I don’t end up going back to sleep, I do lay there cursing and contemplating my existence for a while, lol.

7:10 AM: Penny, on the other hand, does fall back asleep because I leave her in there too long, HA! I finally drag my butt out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face (I use LATHER’s Ultra Mild Face Wash in the AM), throw on some moisturizer, and get dressed.

I got a new sports bra and leggings set from Torrid’s Harry Potter line, and I. AM. OBSESSED. They have the Marauder’s Map print all over them, but are dark, and they’re really flattering. Score!

I also take my daily vitamins and pack up a bag with my laptop, planner, and water bottle, and then settle down to do a quick morning meditation on the Calm app.

7:30 AM: I finally go downstairs to get Penny, and she wakes back up when I enter the room. She’s so happy to see me! I give her a bottle, change her diaper, and get her dressed. I also let the dogs out and give them breakfast.

8:00 AM: Off to daycare! Penny goes to daycare twice a week, and I try to get her there by 8:30 because that’s when they serve breakfast. Attendance is a lot lighter during the summer (though I’m sure that will change starting very soon, since it’s back to school week in VA!) so there are only four other babies in there right now — three of whom are named Charlotte, I kid you not.

8:30 AM: I stop at Starbucks to grab a bite & some caffeine and get a little bit of work done. Usually I head straight to the gym after dropping her off (or I bring her with me if it’s a non-daycare day), but I have a few work things that I’d like to get out of the way first thing. Plus, you know, coffee. And food.

 

I grab a Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich and an Iced Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte, as well as a protein box to snack on later. I tackle my inbox, respond to messages on Yelp, schedule some calls, work some behind-the-scenes magic, submit my weekly newsletter, and check the reviews from the event I hosted last week.

I also pick up a gift card for one of Penny’s daycare teachers, since it’s her birthday tomorrow! We normally don’t attend on Wednesdays, but I asked if we could switch days so that I can keep her with me on her actual birthday this week.

10:30 AM: Gym time! I was supposed to have a session with a personal trainer yesterday, but he had to cancel at the last-minute. I’ve been trying to connect with him to reschedule, but we haven’t been successful in finding a new time, so I stop by the personal training desk to see if I can get scheduled. They slate me in for next week with a new trainer, so I’m still on my own for a little while!

 

I do a little under 20 minutes on the lateral elliptical (which I only discovered yesterday but is, like, weirdly fun?!) to warm up, then it’s over to the weights area. I do the following set 3 times:

– 20 seconds high-resistance rope pulls
– 8 front-side-back lunges
– 10 ventral & lateral raises (with calf raises)
– 12 side dips
– 12 tricep dips
– 8 donkey kicks on each side
– a 2-minute knee-plank

 

It doesn’t actually seem like that much when it’s written down, but I am basically just a puddle by the time I’m halfway through my second set. WHEW.

 

11:30 AM: I head home, snacking on some of the protein box I got at Starbucks earlier on the way. As soon as I get home, I let the dogs out, and then jump in the shower to rinse off.

 

I also take the opportunity to refresh my hair color by adding some dye to my conditioner. It’s a tricky balance, because I want my color to look fresh for the party on Saturday, but the fresher it is, the more it bleeds when it gets wet. And since the chances of me not being at least a little bit sweaty during the party are basically zil (I’m a really sweaty person, lol), I need to make sure I have a few buffer days / showers beforehand.

12:00 PM: I settle in to do some more work, and also start drafting up this blog post (it’s much easier if I jot things down as I go through my day, rather than try to remember everything later.)

When I check my phone, I see that daycare has sent me some photos! They use an app to keep me apprised of all her diapers, food, and naps (rare and fleeting though they are), and can also send me photos! Depending on how busy they are, sometimes I get one photo, sometimes I get a whole bunch.

Luckily, today looks like the latter — I get a little photo recap of the fun outdoor adventure they went on this morning! I guess it tired her out, because according to the app she’s also currently napping — miracle! (Although, it ends up only being a 30 minute nap… so not really so miraculous. But I’ll take it because sometimes she doesn’t nap at daycare AT ALL.)

2:00 PM: Lunchtime! I really should have eaten something before now, but I got totally caught up in work. I’m starrrrving! I’m trying to clear out our fridge to make space for the birthday party food I’m going to have to pick up before Saturday, so it’s a big ol’ hodgepodge lunch of leftovers: braised pork, spaghetti squash carbonara, steamed broccoli, noodles with spaghetti sauce, and a keto cheesecake cup that my MIL made.

I also unload clean dishes from the dishwasher while everything’s heating up. Bonus: my Fitbit lets me know that I’ve hit my step goal! Whoop!

2:30 PM: I sit back down at my desk and eat while doing more work / semi-watching The Office for the 1923487th time. I also take a quick break from eating for a phone call with a restaurant I’m working with for an upcoming event.

3:00 PM: The dog groomer arrives (we use a mobile groomer that comes to our house), and thank Heaven, because these shaggy pups really need a shave! Old man Harry is up first!

  

4:00 PM: While the groomer is still busy with Harry, I quickly run out to pick Penny up from daycare. (I let the groomer know.) In an attempt to try and keep her from falling asleep on the 5 minute drive home, I chat with her super animatedly and look suuuuper crazy (windows are also down, ha!). She’s soooooo exhausted!

I put her down in her crib as soon as we get back, and she passes out immediately.

4:20 PM: And right on cue, Harry is done, looking dapper as all get-out, and it’s Daxter’s turn!

While Penny (and Harry, heh) are napping, I wrap up the rest of my work to-do list for today, then decide to tackle a few of my birthday party projects! First up, her party guestbook. I made a big photo mosaic out of all of Penny’s Outfit of the Day photos and got it printed as a poster that I’m hoping folks will sign! I also got a second poster printed with her monthly photos in case we need extra room. I use double-sided tape to mount them both on some foam board to keep them sturdy and flat. I also finish a task I started yesterday: punching out the donuts from some free printables that I found online for table scatter.

 

I also try (for the fourteenth thousandth time) to organize my thoughts enough to write my “Dear Penny” birthday blog post, but I get too emotional (again) and don’t make a ton of progress. I’m not emotionally stable enough for this! Only two more days…

5:30 PM: Sean’s home! It’s so nice to have some in-person adult conversation finally — since I didn’t have any meetings today, it’s actually been a bit of an isolating day. One downside of working from home, I guess! (And a very small downside in the grand scheme — I love working from home.) We hang out for a bit and we go through the whole “How was your day, honey?” married-people thing, hehe.

6:05 PM: Penny is STILL asleep! I finally have to go wake her up, and she makes it VERY clear that she was not done sleeping, lol.

 

We spend some time cuddling and she cheers up pretty quickly though. 🙂

 

6:15 PM: Dinnertime! For Penny, at any rate, and it’s BRINNER! Lately, I’ve been seeing everyone and their mom feasting on Kodiak Cakes — a high-protein pancake mix — so I picked some up when I was at Target yesterday. Penny goes BANANAS for the pancakes, and also for the actual bananas we give her alongside them. She can now say the word “Nana!”

6:20 PM: Daxter is finally done. Whew! This shaggy pup took a really long time. But hey, it’s like we got a brand new dog! I feed the dogs — my mom made them some special mix-ins (with chicken and carrots and stuff) that they go craaaazy for, so unlike their breakfast kibble which sat untouched for most of the morning, they gobble their dinner up.

  

6:30 PM: It’s playtime! I know she’s been playing all day at daycare, but finally I can get in on some of the action! She is so much fun these days — really into playing with toys, really interactive, and really smart! She figures out how to put a smaller cup into a larger cup, proving that she is basically a genius. (I get entirely too excited when I realize she’s learned this new skill — hence her expression in the third photo above ahahahaha.)

  

7:20 PM: Alas, all good things must come to an end, and eventually it’s time for bed! Since she napped so late, we push bedtime a bit later (it’s usually at 7), and honestly I would be fine with keeping her up even later, but she’s already showing signs of being tired! Girl’s got a strong internal bedtime clock, what can I say?

 

I change her into her jammies, give her a bottle, and we read a book.

Then Sean brings her down to her room, turns on her sound machine, zips up her sleep sack, and puts her to bed! She quietly plays with her stuffies for about half an hour (she loves stroking her stuffed unicorn’s mane, it’s the cutest thing ever), and then is down for the count.

7:45 PM: After she goes down, Sean and I get to eat some dinner ourselves at last! I just heat up the rest of the pasta & broccoli leftovers — it’s not a very exciting day, eats-wise, but at least it’s productive. Now we actually have some space in the fridge! Sean makes some udon noodle soup.

We tend to operate pretty autonomously at home, so I have dinner while working on this blog post (and watching more Netflix, naturally), and he plays some computer games.

10:20 PM: Whew, I’m beat! Man, I used to be able to stay up so late… but with my Penny alarm clock, those days are definitely behind me. I start the dishwasher, let the dogs out one last time, schedule this post to run in the morning, and go through my nighttime routine: skincare (lately I’m using BeautyCounter’s Countermatch cleansing milk and am really loving it! I’ve also been experimenting with various essential oils), brush my teeth, pop on my pjs, and hit the sack.

10:40 PM: Well, I try to hit the sack. As I mentioned above, sleep has been a bit elusive for me lately, so I put on a guided sleep meditation session through the Calm app with the hopes that it’ll help quell the tossing & turning. And that’s a wrap on today! Goodnight!

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? 😉

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. 😛

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! 😅)

Crushing Milestones and that Working Mom Life

I gotta tell ya, four months of babyhood is a real roller coaster. Penny has made so many incredible leaps and bounds in her development, but it definitely came at a price. For a few weeks there I was seriously wondering if we’d ever get our happy little baby back! She was inconsolable being held by anyone but me (even Sean!), fussy even when I was holding her, and was back to waking up every two, three hours at night (one terrible night, it was every single hour). And every time she did wake up, she fought going back to sleep so hard (screaming, crying, thrashing) that the only way I could get her to calm down was by nursing her back to sleep every single time.

To say I was exhausted would be seriously understating it. But underneath all that fussiness and sleeplessness, clearly a lot was happening inside her tiny little baby brain! Because as of this past week, she is not only seemingly back to her old happy self, but has been crushing milestone after milestone to boot!

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She can now roll from tummy to back like a pro — hooray! We also officially transitioned her to her crib last week (this development came as a direct result of the aforementioned terrible, waking-every-hour night, lol), and on that very first night she slept for ELEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT.

It’s only been like five nights so far, but except for one sad 2 AM wakeup on night #2, she has slept all night long with almost zero intervention from us! No more night feeding, no rocking — all we’ve done is pop her pacifier back in like, one time each night. She’s been able to get herself back to sleep every other time she’s stirred! The night before last, she slept 8:30 PM to 8:20 AM. Last night, she went in her crib at 8:30, fell asleep a little before 9, and is still snoozing away as I type this. Can you even BELIEVE IT?!

So you see? MIRACLES ARE REAL, PEOPLE! I mean, I know that things can — and probably will — change, and so I’m definitely not relying on this being our new normal just yet, but I’m certainly going to relish it while I can! And if rolling + sleeping through the night both weren’t enough, Penny has also started being able to sit up on her own!

She can only maintain it for a maximum of, like, 90 seconds before toppling over, and only if she’s not too tired (but also not too distracted and looking all over the place, lol), but I’m still so proud of our little chunk nugget! She’s growing up so faaaaasst.

 
And like I said, she definitely seems to be much more generally content, and more like her old self as well. I guess that’s what almost 12 hours of sleep every night will do! The real test to see if she’s truly over this hump, however, will be how she acts at Grampy & PoPo Daycare (aka my parents’ house) today while I’m in the office. Last week when she was there, she barely ate anything the entire time, and my dad had to walk her around the house in her stroller for an hour just to get her to take a nap. -_- (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my parents?)

I still work from home the majority of the time and usually have my parents or my mother-in-law come over and watch Penny while I work. However, Yelp recently opened up a DC office, and so once a week I load the kids — human and dog — into the car, drop them off with my parents, and head into the city for the day.

There are many reasons that I love working for Yelp, but having an office here is giving me all sorts of new reasons to love this company (that go beyond even the cereal bar in the office kitchen!) It’s probably not too surprising, what with Yelp being a young tech company and all, but I’ve found they are really progressive and supportive of new & nursing moms. They have nice “mother’s rooms” in all of their offices for pumping, and this office is no exception!

It’s not done yet, but there’s a comfy chair with a built-in desk/ledge, a mini-fridge, and a sink (plus some super cute wallpaper.) And once the mother’s room is fully set up, there will actually be a permanent, hospital-grade pump inside the room at all times. Each pumping mama will have their own set of parts (flanges and bottles, etc.) to go along with it, which means no more dragging my pump back and forth. Amazing!

Alas, the office is still being finished out, and the mother’s room won’t be complete until later this year. So until then, I still get the full #workingmom experience of lugging my pump along. Fortunately for me, however, I have two excellent options to help make that process so much easier!

Aeroflow recently reached out to ask if I was interested in testing out two different pumping products — The Motif Duo, a super lightweight, portable, battery-powered breast pump, and the Ju-Ju-Be Be Supplied pumping bag. (Aeroflow did send me these products to try for free, but they didn’t sponsor this post or anything, so these are my own honest opinions.)

I originally ordered the Spectra S2 breastpump through Aeroflow while I was pregnant, and had a great experience going through them (they have a simple form on their site and contact your insurance for you — super easy!). I really do love my Spectra, as it’s quiet, powerful, and user-friendly. However, my one regret is that I didn’t get the battery-powered version (my insurance fully covered the S2, but I would’ve had to pay extra to upgrade to the S1) as I find it very limiting to be stuck in one spot while pumping.

So when Aeroflow asked if I was interested in trying out the Motif Duo, I was super jazzed. And I became even more excited upon opening the box and seeing how truly tiny this thing is! It literally fits in the palm of my hand — and in the back pocket of my jeans!

It’s got a rechargeable battery built right in, and is a double-electric pump so you have the option to pump one or both breasts (it’s set up for one in the photos above.) It’s a little bit louder than the Spectra once it gets going, but it operates similarly: there are two modes, one for stimulating your let-down, and one for milk expression. It’s crazy convenient that I can get up, walk around, and do whatever I need to do while pumping — the first time I tried it out, I was able to go and pick up Penny after she woke up from her nap, while still actively pumping! It’s also great for pumping one side while Penny nurses on the other — since it doesn’t need to be plugged in, I can easily move it around to avoid her wiggly legs. However, I will say that I haven’t found it to be quite as efficient or powerful as my Spectra — I have to pump for longer and at a much higher power level to get the same amount of milk.

So although the Motif is super convenient — both while at home, and to toss into my diaper bag and take with me wherever — sometimes I still want to pull out the big dog. Especially when I’m at the office and want my pumping session to be as quick but efficient as possible. Which is why I’m also really glad that Aeroflow gave me the chance to try out the Be Supplied breastpump bag as well!

This bag is great — it is really nice to have a bag made specifically for carrying a breast pump! I was previously just dumping all of my pump stuff into an extra diaper bag that I had, but needed to remove everything from the bag in order to get things set up. The Be Supplied is great because it has a totally separate pocket for your pump that zips open from the side, which means you can access the pump without having to remove it from the bag! There’s room to keep the power adapter inside this compartment as well, so you literally just have to pull out the wall plug and you’re good to go!

It also has additional exterior and interior pockets to keep your bottles/bags, flanges, tubing, and everything. There’s also a “mommy pocket” on the front, where you can keep your keys, wallet, etc, if you wanted to use this as your only bag. Alas, I still need to bring a separate bag when I go into the office, as the Be Supplied isn’t big enough for my laptop, but it’s still way more lightweight and compact than the other bag I was hauling around. Plus, it’s machine-washable which is a HUGE plus given the extreme likelihood of milk getting in or on it somewhere, and the print happens to perfectly match my Ju-Ju-Be BFF diaper bag!

Aaaanyway, that’s enough pumping talk for now, promise. I know how thrilling this topic must be for the majority of you, lol.  Honestly, going into the office once a week and having to do the pumping thing really just makes me even more aware of how lucky I am for my work situation! Pumping ’round the clock is definitely time consuming, and I am so grateful to have the flexibility to continue nursing Penny much of the time when I am working from home.

I shall leave you with this one final, non-baby-related milestone of my own: I’m down 9 pounds! Huzzah! 🙂

‘Til next time!