let go, and let God

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d-18 until penny’s party! i think it’s safe to say that the majority of 2016 was spent agonizing over the details of penny’s first birthday. for the most part, i’ve completed the dol towers – all 3 of them – but i still need to do the tops. i need a break from those for now, and there are other pressing matters that i need to attend to.

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for instance, this saturday my friend, mouy, and i were going to make a day trip up to boston to drop some decor off at my parents’ house. dennis and i already have so much to bring up (i.e pack and play, stroller, etc.) the day before the party so we wanted to make sure we have enough room in the car. i had to postpone this trip because i realized that my idea for a backdrop isn’t going to work because it’ll be too big to transport even in an suv. so, i was left scrambling for alternative ideas. genie assisted in helping narrow down the options, and saturday will be spent (hopefully) starting and completing the backdrop with the help of two friends!

a lot has happened since the last post. penny’s first tooth is finally trying to break through! we can see, and feel, the top of a tooth on her bottom gum. she’s been fussy during the daytime lately but usually during mealtimes. she’d rather play than sit in a high chair… she’s still sleeping very well at night so we haven’t noticed any changes (thank goodness).

penny had also outgrown her car seat a while ago but we kept putting off purchasing a convertible seat because we figured she would be okay until her first birthday. but then we noticed her feet were sticking out from the car seat more than they had been, and we read an article that a fellow parent had shared in a parenthood group on facebook about switching to convertible seats sooner rather than later. dennis had taken a picture from the newest edition of the baby bargains book and the britax boulevard clicktight was the best-rated of the bunch, so we went with that. it arrived yesterday and we can tell penny is already much more comfortable in it. we already took her to the pool for a family swim, cheesecake factory for dinner, and to the grocery store.


our friends, esther and william, came down from massachusetts with baby olivia (aka ollie) to visit us a few weeks ago. this is olivia k., not olivia g. (genie’s “olivia.” 😀 – a very popular name this year!) it was super sweet of them to make that drive to come see us and we all had a wonderful time. we joked that the boys seemed to enjoy the play date the most but in all seriousness i think they did. they played table tennis, ps4, and basketball while esther and i … played with the babies -_- no, but still, i’m glad dennis had fun because he doesn’t really get to “play” much and i enjoyed my time with esther just having girl talk.

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dennis’ 31st birthday was on the 17th and he spent the day golfing with his buddies. he ended up being late for a family dinner but he had had a great day, so that’s all that matters.

after an enjoyable weekend with friends, dennis and i realized how we need to take more time to take care of ourselves, and have fun too. as much as penny is the light of our lives, we can’t forgot to “treat” ourselves and go out once in a while without her. yes, we’ve been on a few vacations since penny was born but a date night needs to happen more often. being home with penny all day, i sometimes forget how deprived i am of adult interaction. thankfully, my in-laws live nearby so usually they can take care of penny if i have dates with friends.

i was able to catch up with two friends that i worked with a few years ago. one recently got married and the other is getting married in july. we went out for happy hour and just laughed and laughed about our teaching experiences.. while also griping about the education system.

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i guess i’ll make light of it even though it’s a heavy topic but i got laid off recently. connecticut, like all of the other states, has had a major cut in their budgets for schools so teachers are getting laid off and schools are closing. the town that i’m working in laid off 17 teachers (it actually became 15 because 2 resigned) and may even close one elementary school. it’s all by seniority and i missed the cut-off date by two months. truthfully, i was upset (and shocked) and even cried although i had been feeling ambivalent about returning in the fall. it’s more of a pride thing, you know?

so many friends, and of course dennis above all, have been sending love and offered encouraging words like how i get to spend even more time with penny. plus, i can always work somewhere else. two teachers have been rehired in the meantime and i’m actually third in line to be called back so there’s a possibility. i fervently believe everything happens for a reason so i’m letting go, and letting God.

oh! another important event occurred that weekend: penny’s cake smash! i’ll actually not go into too much detail here because it’ll end up being a l o n g post with a plethora of pictures.. so i’ll save that for the next post, but.. it went well and i’m glad it’s done and over with! i’ll share a few pictures here for those that were not able to view them on facebook. again, i’ll go into specifics in the next post and share how i created a “home studio” and made a giant cupcake. we saved a lot of money this way!

until then, enjoy these adorable pictures 🙂

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diy play kitchen

finally. here’s the post on how to spruce up a play kitchen for your little one. it doesn’t have to be the ikea kitchen; it can be any play kitchen. i’m just going to show you what improvements i made to penny’s kitchen so you can incorporate some (or all!) of these ideas into whichever kitchen set you end up getting for your child.

we decided to get the duktig kitchen from ikea. it’s only $99 and is a blank canvas because it features blonde wood (a swedish staple) and minimalist details. we knew that we didn’t want to get something too girly or pink because penny’s future sibling(s) could be brother(s). plus, we wanted something that would go well with her play room and not clash.

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here’s what the duktig kitchen looks like. it’s not bad, but definitely a little boring!

before i decided what i wanted to do, the amazing pinterest offered a lot of ideas. so again, i am not taking credit on how well the final product turned out.. although it did take quite a lot of patience. i was hoping to whip out the big reveal in 2, 3 days tops but i didn’t take into account how much spray paint would be needed.. or how long things would take to dry completely.

materials needed

duktig kitchen (or any kitchen!)

spray paint: white and gold (i used krylon)

big pieces of cardboard

white foam board

marble contact paper (found on amazon or home depot, loews, etc.)

lever, ruler, pencil & eraser, and a black sharpie

all-purpose glue and/or packaging tape

gloves (latex or cloth)

scissors and a cutting tool (box cutter)

the first thing i did was to spray all the of the hardware, gold. at first i used craft paper to rest the pieces on but i found out the hard way that it sticks onto the paint. i had to respray multiple times to mask the spots where the paint lifted from being stuck onto the paper. use cardboard!!! also, you want to get, at least, 2 cans of white spray paint. i went through 3, and that’s because i used some for the ikea chairs (although i only sprayed 2 small boards). to save time, and spray paint, i didn’t paint the side of the boards that would face inwards, if you get my drift. these would be hidden when assembled so you wouldn’t see the white paint.

again, use cardboard!

then, i used the ikea manual to figure out which boards go where when assembled so i could avoid spraying certain sides if necessary.

spray painting these boards white took the longest… days.. it took many coats of white spray paint to get an even look because the boards soaked up the paint. it also didn’t help that it rained often and was really windy during this time, making it difficult to get any work done. i would spray paint out on the back patio (thankfully the sunroom above provides a roof) but the wind would just blow the spray paint everywhere. this is where i figured out gloves would come in handy because i got a lot of spray paint on my fingertips from moving pieces around, and also when the wind would decide to blow while i was spraying.

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notice how i only sprayed the legs for one of the boards because that’s the side that faces inwards when assembled.

after the boards were complete, i made the faux subway tile backsplash using a white foam board, sharpie, and a ruler. i recommend having a lever or anything longer than a ruler, like a yardstick for straight, even lines. i didn’t have one so i had to erase frequently.

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i laid the foam board above the countertop to get an idea of how well it would fit. i ended up trimming the edges so they wouldn’t stick out from behind the kitchen walls.

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i forget what i did here, but i think i measured every 2.5 inches so i could get even lines.

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here’s where a yardstick would come in handy. i used a ruler to draw lines all the way across the board and i had to keep shifting the ruler.

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i measured three inches across to make the individual tiles. remember to alternate every row.

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here’s what it looks like after retracing the pencil lines with a black sharpie.

next was the faux marble countertop! i unrolled the marble contact paper and peeled off the protective paper. then, i placed the countertop face down on top of the paper and pressed firmly.

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after folding up the sides of the contact paper, cut an ‘x’ across the openings for the stove and sink. then you wrap the pieces around so they stick to the underside of the countertop. the corners proved to be very tricky. i had to keep unpeeling the paper and snipping here and there to try and get smooth, rounded corners.

finally, i started assembling the kitchen. i did this while penny was playing in the same room. you do want to be very careful as there are a lot of screws. i placed everything on a table and made sure i didn’t drop anything. penny is also really great at entertaining herself so she would crawl over sometimes to touch the furniture but then crawl away to play. i also had dennis with me most of the time so that helped immensely.

the last bit was to attach the backsplash to the kitchen. i held it behind the kitchen and saw that the edges peeked out on either side. i marked both sides and trimmed the edges. i applied all-purpose glue to the board but it still fell off.. what kept the board from staying put was taping it down with packaging tape. it’s not noticeable and you can always peel it off after the glue dries, though i kept the tape on.

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ta-da! the finished kitchen!! it’s much more glamorous and eye-catching than the original model, isn’t it? it was definitely a labor of love, but well worth it!

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penny keeping herself busy by reading.. she loves to read books, like her mama!

now that the diy furniture stuff is out of the way, i’ve been focusing full-time on planning for penny’s birthday: it’s in a month!!! i’ve had a lot of help from my sister and genie on decorations, and dennis has provided assistance with the big items. i’m halfway done with the second dol tower but i still have another one left after that…

penny’s smash cake photo session is this friday so we’ve been prepping for that as well. she will be wearing a hanbok that my mom gave us for one of the outfit changes, and she will wear a different hanbok for the actual party. it’s neat that she will get to wear both a traditional and a modern one. all that’s left for friday’s photo shoot is her cake: i’ll be making a giant cupcake friday morning so fingers crossed that it turns out well! ah, we also have to figure out what the parents are going to wear… that’s always a dilemma.

birthdays & bachelor(ettes)

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she loves crawling into the ball pit

welcome to april! although in new england, not much has changed. actually, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. we were teased with a few days hovering near the high-60s last week. then it rained on saturday which turned to snow on sunday and finally ceased yesterday. i look forward to taking walks with penny and yuri to get fresh air and break up the monotony of being indoors, but it looks like we won’t be able to do that this week.

it was a nonstop weekend: since dennis was away for a bachelor weekend in colorado from wednesday through saturday, i was mostly alone with penny and yuri during that time. my mil doesn’t work on wednesdays so she kept me company that day and my fil stopped by on thursday and friday to take yuri outside. my friend, katie, came around penny’s dinnertime to spend the night and helped me feed her dinner. we also went out for a walk which was nice for everyone. 🙂 after penny went to bed, we chowed down on pizza, wings, and fried mozzarella while drinking wine and watching gilmore girls. katie’s boyfriend was also in colorado with dennis and the gang so it was great to keep each other company and also have girl talk 😉

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penny really likes katie’s blond hair

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saturday was olivia’s big day: it was her first birthday party!

traditionally at a korean first birthday, there is a 돌잡이 (doljabi), where an assortment of objects is laid out in front of the baby. the child then chooses one object and this determines their future occupation. usual objects include money (wealth), spool of thread (long life), stethoscope (medical), pencil or book (scholar), and so on.

olivia chose money (genie said she trained her to!) but chose a spool of thread later so maybe that was the “actual” prediction… 😛

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proud parents with the birthday girl

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look who’s one!

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돌상, or the dol table

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closer look at the tissue paper flowers that genie made!

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after the party, i rushed home to pump and my sister played with penny. my in-laws were already there because my fil took care of penny while i went to the party and then my mil came over after work. and then, we drove up to boston to attend our friend, yuge’s night out in town for her bachelorette.  unfortunately i didn’t take many pictures (photos below are from the bride and matron of honor)… but we did share pictures that we had with yuge over the years and relived memories.

post-dinner, we went back to the hotel where i pumped (what else?) while we chatted, and the girls put on face masks and watched how to lose a guy in 10 days. by then it was nearly midnight and it had been a long weekend already so i went to my parents’ house to sleep.

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we used traci’s selfie stick before heading out to dinner

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dinner at gaslight

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i love bone marrow!

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moules et frites!

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wore same outfit to olivia’s birthday and the bachelorette hangout

and, sleep i did! besides waking up once in the morning to – you guessed it – pump, i fell back asleep until 11:30am! i don’t think i have slept in that late for a few years, at least! even before penny was born, i was usually awake and functioning before that time. it was a good thing i woke up then too because i had to help get the house ready for my grandma’s 95th birthday luncheon!

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my parents recently “downsized” and the formal living room is my favorite room.

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jen’s dog, charlie

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it was a jam-packed weekend and i enjoyed catching up with friends and family, but in the end… home is the best (집이 최고 지). dennis had returned from colorado late saturday night so he took care of penny all day sunday. i came home with a ton of food and was finally able to relax.

penny’s birthday party is 5 weeks away and we are scrambling to have everything ready in time. grateful to have a lot of help from my sister, genie, and dennis. i’m nearly finished with one of the dol tower, but i still have two left: one for her korean name and one for the sheep (her zodiac). after i finish those, i’ll be sure to blog a post about that.. and i’m still overdue to do one on penny’s now-finished kitchen! it turned out great~ dennis just put in batteries for the stove this morning so the burners light up when the buttons are pushed.

penny had a great stretch where she was sleeping 11-12 hours at night and would wake up between 6:30-7am.. the past few days she’s been waking up at 5:30-5:45am.. ahhh, so i have to push her naps earlier. i read at this age babies go through so much developmentally since they’re full-on crawling, standing, and trying to walk. plus, her awake time has increased while her nap lengths have decreased so it’s kind of hard to stretch out the day so she isn’t going to bed around 6pm. we are still having to wake her up, at least once, from her naps so it doesn’t affect her other nap and/or nighttime sleep. i know eventually her nap total will be anywhere from 2~2.5 hours as she gets closer to her 1-year mark, and this’ll mean an early bedtime for a while. so many changes during the baby’s first year!

it looks as if i’ll have to wake penny from her first nap so i need to quickly wash up and get ready before doing so. next post will be about the kitchen!