thanksgiving & birthday weekend

[12:30pm] i love my birthday because it usually falls around thanksgiving weekend so the festive mood from the holiday continues on to my birthday. sometimes my birthday falls on thanksgiving day which makes it even more special.

this year, thanksgiving got off to a rocky start. i got into a car accident on wednesday evening. i was craving pasta so i ordered dinner for the family (including in-laws) from cheesecake factory and i drove by myself to pick it up. i wanted to drive because i looked forward to the quiet time i could get in the car. dennis was working until 10 that evening so i decided to drop off food for him.

what should have been a half hour ride turned into an hour because of the holiday traffic. i don’t think it would’ve been that bad had there not been two accidents on the highway. at one point, three out of four lanes were closed which caused much of the delay. by the time i picked up the food and was on my way to dennis’ pharmacy it was already 5:30. i texted my mil to tell her to feed penny whatever food we had at home for now since i was going to be late.

as i drove down the local roads of west hartford i felt annoyed that i was running behind because of the accidents on the highway. i noticed a man pushing a stroller up his front walk, and then i looked forward just in time to see a minivan had stopped in front of me. i cursed and slammed on the brakes, but i plowed into the car anyway. the man with the stroller whipped around at the noise of the impact but i was busy trying to salvage the containers of pasta that had flown out of the bag. thankfully no food had spilled onto the car floor but the damage was done to my car. the grill was snapped in half and broken bits were scattered everywhere.

i knew it was my fault and i braced myself for the other driver’s reaction. a young woman stepped out and walked over to my car. then she asked worriedly, “are you okay?” i hadn’t been crying before because i was in shock but her kindness and genuine concern started a waterfall of tears. i kept blubbering on about how i was sorry and that i’ve been so tired lately that i zoned out. she kept reassuring me that as long as we were both okay, that it was fine.

it was only after i stepped out to inspect the damage to both cars and took photos with my iphone that i realized i was nearly 5 months pregnant! i wasn’t in any physical pain and i wasn’t going fast enough for the air bags to be deployed, but i was still concerned for the baby and i shared this with the other woman. she was troubled by it and even told the police officer that had arrived to report the accident.

it took quite a while for the officer to do the paperwork, and while the woman and i stood out in the cold we talked about where we are from (she’s originally from west hartford but has been living in baltimore) and what our plans had been that evening. i told her how my family had recently visited maryland to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. i even recommended the restaurant founding farmers to her. clearly, it isn’t ever ideal to get into a car accident but i am so grateful that the other person involved had been so understanding and gracious. she was on her way to meet a friend for dinner and i had ruined those plans, but she was still so positive about everything. she explained that she had been in my shoes a few months ago and knew what it was like to have to worry about dealing with insurance and the other driver. i had been in accidents where the other person was at fault and though i certainly never screamed or lost my temper, i don’t think i was really that understanding.

after almost an hour after the collision, i continued on to dennis’ work. he was only a half mile away! he knew what had happened because during all of the chaos i had called him to let him know. after talking to him and dropping off the food i was finally on my way home where the entire family – including crystal and dan – greeted me anxiously. i was fine, i was fine, thank the lord; just relieved to be home with the family.

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thanksgiving day was spent cooking all day but it was worth it. initially we had planned on driving up to massachusetts to celebrate with my side of the family since we had not been able to do that last year. however, we reconsidered after thinking of the traffic (two years ago, it took us 3 hours to arrive at my cousin’s house) and how we would only spend two hours there and then have to drive back again for penny’s bedtime.

it was eight of us including penny and yuri – a relaxing evening in the comforts of our own home. i tried to be festive by making a thanksgiving banner and hanging up fall-themed artwork created by penny. although the food was delicious – crystal contributed by making mac & cheese and helping me with other tasks like flower arranging – it was really time spent with the family that i appreciated. we never get to see crystal and dan this often and it was great being able to see them in maryland and then here for three days the week after. we will see them next at our pastor’s wedding in february.

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the boys playing mortal combat x

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the spread!

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homemade pumpkin cheesecake pie

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macarons and mini cupcakes from baked by melissa

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praying for the meal

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we got chicken instead of turkey

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penny dancing while everyone cheers – this picture was from two days before thanksgiving

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having fun playing ping pong

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we went to a tree farm on saturday morning to get our christmas tree. it was easier when penny was 6 months old which is when we got our tree last year! since penny is mobile, she just wanted to walk and do her own thing. it took an hour to get a tree! i spent most of the time chasing penny and reining her in while dennis searched for a tree and cut it down. i did choose the final tree though!

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my birthday celebration on saturday evening was relatively low-key with dinner with close friends at a burger joint. i forgot to take a group photo  😦 alice, john, and grace couldn’t make it to the games portion of the night but most of us moved on to dave and buster’s. i had forgotten how fun that place can be although saturday nights are not the best day to go since there can be a wait for certain games. i even played pump (korean version of ddr) with my pregnant belly and all. i used to play with my brother when he was younger – he is like a pro – so i can dance to some of the harder modes but boy was i out of breath at the end!

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my sister brought a lovely assortment of cupcakes from boston

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raspberry mousse birthday cake from giuseppe’s in south windsor

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my brother (james) compared to my sister (jen)

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the highlight of that evening was definitely my sister and brother driving down from boston to spend the night. my brother actually lives in la now but flew home for thanksgiving weekend. it had been quite some time since the three of us had done something together so i was extremely happy that they had both made it. plus, they were able to see how much penny had grown and spent time with her as well.

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sunday morning before church – penny liked the small basketball we got for her from d & b’s

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penny likes watching us cook

on my actual birthday, i was scheduled for a 10am ultrasound and anatomy scan. dennis and i found out we are having a B O Y! the technician asked us if we wanted to know and dennis blurted out that he could see the penis so there was no denying it! thanks to genie, we had decided on popping a balloon filled with appropriately-colored confetti to reveal the sex. i even brought scissors, tissue paper and ziploc bags with me so i could continue cutting the confetti. of course i stopped cutting pink ones after we found out the results. by the way, i had done research about the confetti-balloon reveal and many women recommended cutting up confetti using tissue paper because it’s light enough that it’ll float nicely for the photos. the store-bought ones are too heavy and would probably just fall instead of flying around for a greater effect.

after the appointment we stopped by party city and the employees stuffed two black 24-inch balloons with sky blue and royal blue confetti; then they filled them with helium. we also got a regular white balloon for penny to play with. when we arrived home, penny was napping and we ate lunch with my mil. we were going to do the reveal after penny woke up so mil went home for a few hours and we rested. a little before 3pm, both parents came over and we went onto the field to take a the first round of photos. we filled two balloons in case the first photo shoot didn’t come out well. we also had mil practice taking pictures by holding down the shutter button on the iphone so she could take consecutive pictures rapidly.

the pictures on the field came out nice enough – especially our reactions – but it was too bright so the color of the confetti was difficult to see. we changed locations to our driveway where the shade and the white doors of the garage made for better photos. i ended up holding penny because it’s difficult to get a toddler to participate in photo shoots, really.

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the photo collage we used for our announcement

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we really would not have minded if we were going to have another girl but having a boy is wonderful too! so many of our friends and family commented that we are lucky to have one of each – which i suppose we are – but we all know health is #1. when i met with my ob after the ultrasound she said everything looked great which is not something she gets to say often (usually only once a day). she said nowadays that any little thing can be considered a “high-risk pregnancy” so to give us good news was great for her as well.

that evening, dennis and i enjoyed a quiet dinner at market grille. we ordered a bunch of apps from the happy hour menu and i indulged in a blackberry-pomegranate-ginger soda. we had planned on going to the movies afterwards to watch arrival but we were both tired (and wanted to watch the missed episode of the walking dead) and felt bad that we would be coming home late since mil was watching penny as usual. we ended up stopping by dave & buster’s to play a few games ( we ended up with over 1,000 tickets) and kept the tickets so we can save up to get a really good prize for penny. 🙂

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sorry for the terrible quality – snapchat photo

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it’s no wonder after that eventful week that i’ve been tired… tired enough where i can actually fall asleep during penny’s nap like i did yesterday. i thought i would close my eyes for a half hour and i ended up falling asleep for an hour! i sat upright immediately after realizing it was 3:30 and penny was still sleeping (almost 3 hours!) so i got up to wake her. let’s see if i can squeeze in some shut-eye now…

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maryland & dc

penny’s hit another milestone – 18 months! this means in six months she’ll already be two years old. what?! this also means that in six short months she’ll already be a big sister to a one-month-old. oh boy.

this post will be about our family vacation to maryland & dc; and i will also share tips and advice on how to make traveling with a toddler a little bit easier on everyone. we came back home around noon on monday and put penny down for her nap right away. we planned everything around penny’s nap schedule and it worked out perfectly. our days went like this: wake, quick continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, morning activity, lunch/nap, afternoon~evening activity, dinner, penny’s bedtime, and adult time.

we really looked forward to penny’s nap time because that meant we could nap too! what made this trip so much easier on everyone was that we booked a 2-bedroom suite. penny got her own room, mil stayed in the other room, and dennis and i slept on the pull-out couch. the hotel provided a pack-and-play and we brought our own mattress and sheet for it after finding out the hotel doesn’t provide that. initially we were going to buy another one and have it shipped to crystal and dan’s apartment but dennis found that we could fold the mattress in half, stuff it into a dry cleaning bag, and check it in as luggage. we flew southwest which provides two free check-in bags for each individual.

of course, we made sure to bring along the baby monitor and the white noise machine. we also made sure to pack her favorite books, cars & trucks, tons of snacks, pens, paper, and the ipad. it was a short 45-minute plane ride from hartford to baltimore. she did great during take-off and landing because we had her either drink milk or eat a fruit & veggie pouch. the ipad was a lifesaver – since we hadn’t been giving her screen time on the ipad ever since her 15-month checkup it was like she was using it for the first time. she was entranced and had even forgotten how to use it until dennis touched the screen with his fingers.

another thing that helped was that mil was randomly selected to go in the pre-check line going to and returning from baltimore, and she was able to bring penny through the quicker line. while she waited for us, she entertained penny by having her look out at the windows to watch the planes take off and also fed her snacks. much better than having to deal with a feisty toddler in a slow-moving line!

when we arrived in baltimore, our luggage was already waiting for us so we didn’t have to waste precious time waiting and sifting through the baggage claim. it was also an 8-minute shuttle ride to the car rental place. the only thing that took a little bit of time was installing the car seat. it was pretty beat up and dingy (word of advice: bring lots of wipes – not baby wipes but sanitizing ones. we used wet ones to clean the baby seat). penny also sits in a rear-facing convertible seat back home (connecticut law is until 2 years of age) so she really enjoyed facing forward during the car rides on our trip.

one thing i really wanted to see during our trip was the national mall: the lincoln memorial, the washington monument, and the white house. we thought about it and decided to nix it because it’s a lot of walking and it would most likely be difficult to find parking on a weekend particularly veterans day weekend. hopefully i can cross these off my bucket list in the near future. it’ll be much easier sight-seeing when penny’s sibling is, at least, three years old.

most of the activities were catered towards penny but we had just as much fun seeing her experience new sights and sounds. best of all, we were able to meet up with crystal and dan (despite their busy schedule); we also enjoyed our adult time after penny went down for the night by playing games, eating ice cream, and talking. we’ll be able to see them again next monday when they drive up from maryland for five days!

on one of the days we met up with my childhood friend, clara, and her son, barrett, for breakfast at founding farmers. i hadn’t seen clara in well over a decade! it was so great to catch up with her and meet barrett. i completely forgot to get a group photo of us especially a few snaps of penny and barrett together. it’ll be some time before we see each other again but hopefully i don’t forget next time.

day 1: travel/playseum/dinner/sleep/adult time

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she loved watching the planes


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goodbye, connecticut!

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on our way to the hotel!

be with me, a playseum in bethesda

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touching various herbs and spices at the chinese market

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this was a neat room – “grandma and grandpa’s house.” it was full of vintage items


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a tin box featuring a young queen elizabeth II

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princess room

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dinner & after-hours:

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dinner at a nearby korean restaurant

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ice cream for the adults! dan and i got toasted sesame brittle and crystal and dennis got caramel coffee. vanilla for mil!


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teaching crystal, dan, and mil how to play blokus

every night we went to bed around 10:30~11pm. we were tired way before that but wanted to spend time with crystal and dan since they were busy during the daytime. and, of course, we tried to sleep as much as we could since we had to wake up when penny did. aforementioned she did very well sleeping in the hotel though.

day 2: wake/breakfast/brunch with clara & barrett/nap/port discovery children’s museum/dinner/penny’s bedtime/adult time

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playing basketball at the hotel after breakfast

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stuffed french toast at founding farmers

port discovery children’s museum in baltimore

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she liked climbing on top of the drum


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toddler room

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interactive floor

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she enjoyed cooking at the diner

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she loves cars and trucks


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spinning display of dancers during chu’seok (korean thanksgiving)

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souvenir: fire engine

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we got back to the hotel around 6pm where crystal and dan were waiting with italian food for dinner. after penny’s bedtime routine, crystal and dan taught us a card game called bang and we played until 10:30.

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praying before penny’s bedtime

day 3: wake/breakfast/smithsonian national zoo/lunch & nap/playground at silver spring/dinner at 옛골 (yett gol  – korean restaurant)/penny’s bedtime/pack & adult time

note: going to the zoo right when it opened was a great decision. there were very few people there until we were getting ready to leave around 10:45 – then it started getting packed with groups of school children and families.

the zoo is free. we spent 2.5 hours there and it was well worth it. parking is $22… they have to make money somehow.

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right when we parked we saw two squirrels fighting


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looking at the zebras in the way back

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we were very excited to see the pandas!

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this panda is getting treats out of the ball

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family of wild deer making their way through the grounds


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turtles and lemurs (not pictured)


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tiger


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casually observing the llamas

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cute goats perched on stumps

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penny was having a meltdown here


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much-needed family photo

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the only downside to coming early was that we weren’t able to see all of the animals. some of the enclosures were being cleaned so the animals weren’t there like the lions.

in the evening, we took penny to a park that had a huge playground. there were really tall slides and after going all the way up to the top to slide down, i chickened out. that’s how tall it was!

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dennis and dan walking up the rubber hill

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bedtime routine


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reading with uncle dan

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we didn’t get to hang out with crystal that day because she had a lot of assignments for grad school. we only saw her briefly when she came to pick up dan at the hotel. after penny went to bed, we played blokus and went to bed.

day 4: wake/breakfast/travel/home/lunch & nap

i didn’t take any pictures of us making our way back home.. i guess i was just too tired. after coming home around noon and putting penny immediately down for a nap we quickly ate pizza and napped as well.

it’s always great getting away but there’s nothing like home!

before i close, here are some helpful tips for traveling with a little one(s):

  1. start packing two days in advance. i packed all of penny’s clothes, accessories, and pajamas two days before we left and left things like her lovey, sleep sack, and baby monitor until the end.
  2. book flights first thing in the morning. (or red-eye if it’s a long flight.) our flight from hartford -> baltimore departed at 8:45am. we loaded up the car and waited until 6:30am to wake penny up, changed her, and left. we wanted to make sure she still got enough sleep. thankfully our flight was short so we made it to the hotel in time for her nap.
  3. find out what the hotel provides and doesn’t provide. the mattress pad for the pack and play was a lifesaver because she definitely would not have slept well on a thin pad that comes with the pack and play. the continental breakfast was also a HUGE plus! we had one less meal to worry about and it was so convenient. also, find out if the hotel is near restaurants and stores. ours had babies ‘r us and target across the street. we made a trip to target twice to buy snacks, milk, water, and cheap toys from the dollar section for penny.
  4. plan an itinerary and keep in mind of the distance to/from hotel, the hours, and admission. while researching for baby-friendly activities i came upon “be with me” a playseum for children in bethesda. it was about a 20-minute ride from our hotel and we brought her here our first day in maryland.
  5. be realistic. you won’t get to do everything you want to do and you have to be okay with that. little ones get tired really easily and is it worth dealing with their meltdowns because you absolutely had to check out a certain museum?the trip was definitely a lot easier on us too because we had an extra pair of hands from my mil. at the smithsonian zoo, she didn’t want to stay in the stroller at one point so we took turns carrying her and letting her walk. see if you can get your parents or in-laws (or other family members) to join you on your vacation. the extra help helps!

celebrate good times

there have been many things to celebrate recently – two weddings and a first birthday party. although both weddings occurred in october i haven’t had the time nor energy (mostly energy) to organize and edit photos for a blog post.

the so family leaves for maryland tomorrow for a family vacation and that’ll be another post in itself when we return; so if i don’t post the wedding and birthday pictures i’ll never get around to them.

on october 15, we attended our friends’, alice and john’s, wedding. dennis was the best man and penny was the flower girl. we were nervous about penny walking down the aisle since she still is so young. i brought her lovey and lots of snacks to help coax her down the aisle, but in the end all it took was one cracker. i did try having her walk down by herself but she was understandably nervous with everyone’s eyes on her. in hindsight i wish i had walked ahead of her so i wasn’t in any of the photos. but we are just relieved she didn’t cry or run away.

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my friend, katie, captured us walking down the aisle

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matron of honor and best man 🙂

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traditional korean ceremony “paebaek”

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what’s a wedding without some photobooth fun?

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alice & john’s rehearsal dinner / ethan’s 100th day

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family photo

penny also only attended the ceremony. my mil took her back for her nap and dennis and i moved on to the reception. we were able to enjoy ourselves more not having to chase penny around, keep her entertained, and trying to feed her at the table. eternally grateful to have dennis’ parents nearby.

the next wedding was for esther and tony on october 29. they are our friends from church so john was in attendance too (two weeks after his own wedding!) but alice had to work. interestingly enough, both weddings we attended were morning weddings. i’m fairly certain i have never been to a morning wedding before. the best part about a morning wedding is you still have time to relax when you get home. in both cases actually dennis and i ended up passing out earlier than usual.

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16 weeks pregnant in this photo

it was lovely having an excuse to get dressed up and go out. dennis and i had been long overdue for a night out so those two weddings were a great way for us to enjoy time with friends without worrying about a baby. although we had fun, we were so tired that we just looked forward to going home!

many of my friends had babies in 2015 so there were a lot of first birthday parties this year. i attended the final one for this year this past sunday in massachusetts. thankfully, my mil was able to watch penny and i made the 1.5 hour drive each way to celebrate bowdin’s first year of life.

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cute touches by the crafty mama

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min MADE these forever cacti favors..

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she chose the stethoscope!

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dr. gianforti

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homemade cake along with felt flower toppers min made herself

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such a good idea to use pearls!

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yes, homemade cupcakes too

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the birthday party was fun and it was so cute to see all the of the special details my friend, min, put into it. best of all, it’s over! it’s always a relief when the first birthday is done and over with… all those months of planning..

min lives in maine so i rarely see her. the last time i saw her was at penny’s first birthday back in may. i hope someday we can make it work where our little girls can play while the mommies catch up. someday soon.

 

 

 

playdates & playmates

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every day i wrack my brain on things penny and i can do for the day. lately it’s been too cold in the mornings to go out for a walk; and penny has actually been refusing to go out too. i don’t blame her – we interrupt her morning play by trying to force her in a stroller. (this morning however she asked to go outside which was great since the temperature was in the 50s. gotta take advantage!)

when i come up with different activities such as a trip to the library, mall, or arts & crafts i do my best to spread them out during the week so we have something to do every day to pass the time. not only that but if i know for sure my mil is coming over that day or dennis has the day off, i’ll plan an activity such as going to the museum so i have an extra person to help me with penny. penny’s nap time is spent getting her snacks, drinks, and diaper bag ready so when she wakes up we can just go.

here’s our itinerary for the week of 10/30~11/5:

sunday: playdate with olivia l. (kidcity museum)

monday: halloween! family photos in the morning and trick-or-treating in the evening with grandparents

tuesday: create a fall picture using felt and glitter stickers of pumpkins, leaves, and flowers.

wednesday: paint a pumpkin

thursday: toddler sense class (9:30~10am) & the library in the afternoon

friday: introduce new activity – putting colored bean bags in a homemade sorter

saturday: my friend, katie, is visiting for the day

as you can see, these are fairly simple activities. you don’t have to go all out for a toddler since their attention span is so short anyway. think of things that your little one likes to do and create activities around their interests.

i mentioned in another post that penny really likes to color and play with stickers. what better way to get her artistic side out and have fun than creating collages and pictures? i finally ordered a long-sleeve smock for penny last night. every day she asks to use the paint and i say “no” because of the mess. she doesn’t ask after i say “no” the first time but i feel bad because i know she likes to feel the paint between her fingers. even though i don’t have the smock yet, i set aside a button-down shirt that i rarely wear for penny to use today when we paint a pumpkin. i also have rolls of craft paper that i will spread out on the wood floor to catch most of the paint.

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this was tuesday’s activity. penny placed stickers on card stock and i drew a fall scene afterwards.

penny also really enjoys her toddler sense class. last week she played with jello! there were other things for her to do but she spent the majority of the time squishing jello between her fingers. she didn’t put any in her mouth but, then again, she usually doesn’t put things in her mouth. tomorrow is the last class which i’m really bummed about. there is supposed to be another session starting soon that includes older kids so hopefully that’s an option.

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dot-painting is offered every class and penny really likes it. i’ve been holding off on purchasing them so they can be one of her stocking stuffers 🙂

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this past weekend was daddy’s weekend off, so we kept busy! on friday we met up with our friends mouy, cali, and tristan at the connecticut science center. we are all members and it’s so worth it! this was our family’s 4th time going.

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penny loves cars!

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she also likes sliding down this ramp

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tristan braving the hurricane room

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and the snake =X

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she loves to drive

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penny’s driving and tristan is shifting gears. it’s called teamwork!

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popping balloons

having fun with the 360 camera

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having fun with the 360 camera

 

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dennis and i went to a wedding on saturday (i’ll have to share photos from that day as well as alice and john’s wedding too!) so we were gone all day while mil watched penny.

on sunday, we had a playdate with a friend from our neighborhood, olivia l. (penny has 3 friends named olivia and this one is 21 months.) it was our second time going to kidcity museum and olivia’s first time! olivia’s family enjoyed it so much they purchased a membership!

we actually arrived there an hour before olivia and her family so we had checked most of the rooms out by the time they arrived but they still spent an hour together, and we went back to the medieval room to show them how cool it is.

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some scenes in penny’s life:

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first snow of the season: 0ctober 27, 2016

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trying out the potty

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she likes to give the lamb rocker kisses and climbs on it by herself to rock back and forth

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for the longest time, this truck scared her because of the loud noises it makes when the red button is pushed. she took it out on her own one day and started playing with it. she still hates the button though.

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she loves to eat gim (toasted kelp)

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tummy time 🙂

penny’s been having bad dreams lately and she’ll cry out at night. she was fine last night but a few nights ago she was crying every hour from 2am on. we haven’t had to go in to soothe her because she’ll fall back asleep after crying for a few minutes; but it does make us sad, and tired! i know she isn’t having night terrors because the first time she’ll cry is usually around 2am and night terrors occur a few hours after bedtime (and usually because they’re overtired).

her naps are usually good ~ about 2.5-3 hours but sometimes they’re 1.5 hours on a “bad day.” this is when her second sleep cycle ends so sometimes she’ll wake up especially if there were loud noises outside like a lawn mower. she actually just woke up after napping for 1.5 hours a few minutes ago. this loud truck kept rumbling by and it drove by again right at the end of her sleep cycle so i’m guessing it roused her from her sleep. i know she won’t go back to sleep but i’m going to leave her in there for another half hour so i can close my eyes. it’s only 1:30pm and i’m alone all day so the second half of the day is going to be another long one 😦