aruba

dennis and i returned from a destination wedding in aruba two weeks ago. (has it already been two weeks?) we had such an amazing time: the weather was perfect – sunny and in the lower 90s every day. it hardly ever rains in aruba, but the winds are fierce! they help to cool you down under the blistering sun but it is annoying to have towels and other things fly away. particularly the sand stinging our bodies while we relaxed by the beach was irritating, but a small price to pay to be in paradise!

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the gorgeous riu palace

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the riu palace recently underwent renovations and is easily the most beautiful hotel in the area

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we absolutely loved aruba and would love to go back. what was even better was that it was our 3rd vacation without penny. we love her dearly but we need to have time for ourselves too! being able to sleep in, going to bed whenever, and doing what we wanted to do was heavenly… more trips in the future, please!

my main goal was to lay out by the beach and get tan! mission accomplished, although dennis and i had horrendous burn marks on the first day from the sun’s strong rays (even though i had reapplied twice). thankfully they faded into a tan.

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every day, the staff at riu toss out water balloons and guests go nuts throwing them at each other. so bad for the environment šŸ˜¦

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view from our balcony

besides laying out by the pool or the ocean and going into the water, we went on one excursion: the jolly pirate! it’s basically a booze cruise with a rope swing. we had a blast, and i also took pictures of (almost) everyone there with my selfie stick. ever since penny was born, and even before that, i had cut way back on alcohol. so even though this was an all-inclusive vacation, i didn’t drink Ā much and i didn’t feel the pressure to have to just because it was included.

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about to swing!

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dennis was the best one

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gorgeous caribbean sunset

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IMG_8441IMG_8440the main reason for going to aruba, of course, was to see our friends, danielle and ryan, get married! it was a beautiful, low-key wedding by the beach complete with paparazzi – the beach-goers surrounded us and we are saved on people’s phones and tablets all over the world probably. dinner was indoors but in an open-air setting. after the cake, we moved to an outdoor area by the pool to get our dance on!

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groom and his groomsmen!

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the radiant bride!

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a kiss at sunset

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although we were on vacation i didn’t go too crazy with the partying. i was tired, and i really wanted to cherish the time i could sleep long hours without interruption. even so, when i went back to the room i would get lost in a book that was i reading: euphoria by lily king. i really enjoyed having quiet time to myself, and even though most of our party was still out drinking or mingling i chose to end the night early almost every night we were there. i don’t regret it all!

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taking in the nightly entertainment at the hotel

penny was fabulous, as always, while we were gone.. and she didn’t have separation anxiety at all. she never really has. sometimes she’ll get clingy during leaps or when she’s teething, but we don’t have to worry about her waking up or crying because she misses us. it may happen later on but it hasn’t so far..

to conclude, i’ve included some photos that i took from the couple’s “trash the dress” photo shoot! danielle bought a $200 dress to trash; she didn’t destroy her actual dress!

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aruba, you were so good to us. where are we off to next?

 

freedom

after 13 months, my breastfeeding journey has come to an end! i used the last bag of frozen breast milk two days ago and i haven’t pumped to actually get milk since tuesday morning. i did pump for a few minutes yesterday to relieve some discomfort but haven’t since. no more pumping while eating; no more pumping during penny’s naps; no more setting the alarm so i can pump before penny wakes up for the day; no more lugging the pump (and the milk ) to and from vacations; no more pumping in random bathrooms, hotel rooms, other people’s homes, and airplanes.. no more!!!

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last bag!

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newark airport in new jersey recently acquired these pods for nursing and pumping moms!

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pumping before our flight to aruba!

before penny was born, i set my goal of exclusively breastfeeding at one year not realizing how difficult it would be. for those of you that have been following my blog since penny’s birth, you’ll recall the trauma my body endured and the many tears that were shed. i went through severe nipple damage, made multiple visits to the lactation consultant, had a tongue tie procedure for penny to help with her latch, suffered through two bouts of mastitis, had a drastic supply drop around 3.5 months due to taking mucinex for my cough (and then pumped every 2 hours for days to bring the supply back up), began exclusively pumping around the sixth month due to distracted nursing, went through three different pumps, suffered from acid reflux and allergies because i didn’t want to take medication for fear of it affecting my supply, and also had countless clogged ducts.

even during every “setback”, i still would not consider formula. dennis bought a few cans just in case but we never touched them. i understand breastfeeding is not for everyone particularly when moms have to return to work but it was a choice that i made, and i truly wanted to stick by it. i did start supplementingĀ with hemp milk around 10.5 months because i wanted to start the weaning process as i was so tired of pumping. thankfully, penny loves hemp milk and has no allergic reactions to it.

if i haven’t mentioned it before, the reason why i chose hemp milk is for political, personal, and environmental reasons. i don’t drink cow’s milk because of lactose intolerance and personal preference but i didn’t want those to be the reasonsĀ for penny. the main reasons for her were because i’m not a fan of the dairy industry nor the carbon footprint it leaves behind. humans are the only species to continue drinking milk after infancy, and they’re the only ones to drink milk fromĀ another species. plus, it takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of cow’s milk! after doing more research i found that almond milk actually usesĀ more water than cow’s milk so now i’m considering switching over to hemp milk too. of all the milk and milk alternatives, hemp milk is the most environmentally-friendly.. and it tastes great too! the only downside is that it’s expensive: it costs $4 to get a quart of hemp milk!

at penny’s 12-month checkup we got our pediatrician’s approval to give her hemp milk but was told that she needs to limit her milk intake to 16 oz. max daily once she fully transitions. she loves milk so much but it’s important that she eats a variety of food for nutrition and growth. she’s going through a picky stage right now so i give her smoothies to provide fruits and veggies in an alternative way. today is actually her first day fully being on hemp milk so i’m not going to obsess her going over 16 oz. for a week or two.. i’ll see how it goes.

just before i started this post, i finished washing all of my pump parts and got sad about putting them away. that was 13 months of my life right there.. i eagerly looked forward to not pumping anymore and now i’m wistful about it! but, i really am ecstatic that i don’t have to do it anymore… that is, until the next baby comes!

weekend in boston

dennis and i arrived safely back from aruba last wednesday night around 10:30pm. we had thursday to relax at home.. and then we drove up to boston friday morning and stayed at my parents’ house until sunday evening.

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the above photos are soon after we arrived at my parents’ house. penny had lunch and then we went outside for a walk. she LOVES going outside.. sometimes she throws a tantrum when we come back in -_-

lately all she wants to do is walk and she’s getting better at it every day. we purchased her sneakers recently too to help encourage her walking šŸ™‚

our main reason for visiting massachusetts was to see my grandmother who is recovering from a recent spinal surgery. being 95 years old, she has brittle bones so even just moving a certain way can cause those fragile bones to fracture. she’s in a rehabilitation home for the time being and we really want penny to see my grandma as much as possible because, honestly, who knows how much time we all really have..?

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she loves playing with the selfie stick

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remarking over penny’s feet and sneakers

my grandma was so surprised to see us! we made her very happy, and we are thrilled that we were able to see her too. we came back to visit her the next evening and she was, again, surprised to see us because she thought we had already gone back home.

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she was thankful to eat korean food for dinner two nights in a row

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penny did not like being held!

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my grandma was shocked at how strong penny is…

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avery & penny

hopefully we can arrange more play dates (and parent dates) with our friends in boston too. we met up with a group of friends for lunch on saturday, and it was chaotic with 3 little girls. olivia k. was napping so we couldn’t get in a picture of all 3 of them.

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bringing the walker along helped save our backs!

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one of her favorite things to do is point.. at everything!

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cute little bunny in the backyard on sunday morning

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penny pretending to mow the lawn like aunt jen!

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on our way to the ice cream shop!

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penny loved her vanilla soft serve!

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she signed for “milk” after we came home

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eating dinner at my parents’ restaurant in boston before we head home

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an employee gave her a $20 bill…

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it’s tough because dennis works every other weekend and some of those weekends are already accounted for, such as weddings and other events.. but we are definitely going to go up again this summer to spend more time with my parents, siblings, and grandma. summer in boston should be a lot of fun!

after we got back from aruba, we barely had time to unwind. we spent most of the day at home on thursday but we decided to buy penny her first pair of walking sneakers so we went to the mall and met up with the gardners.

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trying out see kai run sneakers

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ended up getting nikes

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they look miserable but they had fun!

we wanted to purchase stride rite sneakers after hearing great feedback from many people but found out that nordstrom is slowly phasing them out in favor of their own brand: see kai run. this is also a highly rated brand as well. after trying on toms, see kai run, and nike free we ended up getting penny the nike sneakers because the soles were lighter and had more cushion. i still want to get her see kai run and stride rite too but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. the nike ones were $48! :-O

the aruba trip was amazing… i’ll have to write a post on that destination wedding/vacation alone! i can’t wait to share all of the pictures. as always, it was awesome to get a break away from penny because we got to sleep in and do what we wanted to do.. but, of course, we missed her… and it was also nice coming back home.

 

keep on keepin’ on

dennis and i are going to aruba this saturday so we have also been busy preparing for the trip. we purchased sunscreen and some clothes (well, i did) and we have to make a trip to babies ‘r us to make sure we have plenty of diapers and wipes. penny is still being super fussy about food so i’ve been making purees and stuffing food into her pouches. i still purchase ready-made food pouches too since there is a wide variety to choose from. i’m really not worried about leaving penny because this’ll be our third vacation without her and she’s been sleeping all night without waking up since she was 7 months old. she’s in great hands and i know my mil is going to make a ton of korean food to feed penny too.

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penny’s footprints from birth to one year old

summer has officially started. ( in our book, anyway.) the first day of summer is june 20th – hey, yuri’s 6th birthday! – but dennis remarked that it feels like summer after memorial day ends, and i agree. plus, we’ve been in the midst of a heat wave in connecticut. now that the weather is nice, i try to go out for walks 3x a day: usually around 8:30/9am, 1/1:30pm, and 6/6:30pm, or depending when penny is done with dinner. with the temperature being in the high 80s~low 90s along with high humidity, it’s been tough trying to take a lunchtime stroll. even though we gave yuri a short haircut, it’s still much too hot for her. normally penny loves being outdoors but she’s been whining (partly due to the heat and partly because she wants to) because it’s still stiflingly hot even with a sun hat and a stroller shade. i bring out a water cup for her now. for our lunchtime walk today, yuri barely made it around our neighborhood before i put her back in the house and let her look outside through the storm door while penny and i kept walking.

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we’ve also been taking trips to the mall to walk around with the cool ac blasting. thankfully we have central air at home and our basement is refreshing without having to turn the air on, but alas, there is no cool air blowing down on us when we walk outside.. only the occasional breeze, and sometimes it’s hot air.

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so stinking cute

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she loves to look at my parents’ wedding photo

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drinking smoothies

our family had a wonderful long weekend. we didn’t go on vacation or go to a beach but we loved spending time together. dennis was lucky enough to have a four-day weekend without requesting any days off so we spent our time taking penny swimming and hanging out with the grandparents.

on saturday night, i also had a gno with mouy and katie. we went to the claypen, a paint-your-own pottery studio. it’s byob so we drank red wine and ate italian cookies while painting. afterwards, we had dinner at rizzuto’s.

i was also able to catch up with some of my former coworkers at kathryn’s surprise bridal shower. i went to school a little early so i could catch some of the students as well.

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the bride-to-be with the apron i got her from anthro


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kathryn and heather


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made by kelly

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we bought penny a baby float for $9.99 from tj maxx


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painting pottery pieces at the claypen

penny’s 12-month appointment was last friday. she got 3 vaccines: varicella (chicken pox), hepatitis a, and mmr. she cried so much and was inconsolable until we gave her milk. even then she would stop drinking to cry. what finally helped was when i sat her on my lap and sang her songs while giving her more milk.

Penny is now 30 1/4 inches tall and 20.2 lb! She’s in the 75th percentile for her height! After a lag between 6 to 9 months, she went through a growth spurt.

i’ve been trying to wean penny from breast milk since she was 10.5 months old. i am down to 2 pumps a day but she’s drinking even more milk lately! i got the thumbs-up to give penny hemp milk as it has plenty of vitamin d, fat, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. thing is, she is supposed to get 16 oz. max a day once she fully transitions but right now she is drinking anywhere from 23-28 oz. a day! hemp milk is not cheap and we are flying through the boxes… i hope her phase of refusing food stops soon -__- i hear it’s common at this age, and it can actually last for several months so we still have to keep offering a variety of food and be patient. i have also been making smoothies for penny to drink to see if she drinks less milk but it’s not the case.. she’ll still drink both.

on tuesday, we met up with the gardners at jack & allie’s for story hour. it looks like we’re going to make it a weekly thing so that’s fun! penny still loves the green rocking chair. we were the last ones to leave the book store because she kept wanting to sit on it and touch the picture of the frog.

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thanks to genie for taking these pictures!

the pictures from penny’s first birthday have slowly been uploaded to her album via our photographer (and cousin’s husband) but they’re not all there yet. we’re eagerly anticipating the family photos and then we’ll choose which photos to develop and frame. in the meantime, i’ve also been sending out thank-you cards in small batches. i hope to be done with those tonight.

well, after penny wakes up we are making a trip to the mall to return some items and also get more exercise in! i got a fitbit recently so i’ve been trying to reach 10,000 steps every day. i have a competitive nature and i like to win.. so i hope having my fitbit motivates me to keep moving. i’ve also been going to the gym lately and i’m eager to get back into shape!

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