step right up and enjoy the ride

“carnivals bring out the child in everyone” ~ unknown

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every summer, our town holds a carnival during the last week of july from wednesday through saturday. i had wanted to bring penny last year but we didn’t end up going because it was really hot and humid on that saturday. why didn’t i try bringing her on the other days? well, the carnival opens at 6pm wednesday – friday and at 5pm on saturday. considering penny was 14 months then and her bedtime around 7/7:30, there wouldn’t have been much time to spend at the carnival if i had gone on the other days. for those of you that know me and/or have been following my blog for some time, i have my children on a somewhat rigid schedule. we all know that tired and miserable children means that the adults are tired and miserable, too.

even though penny is 26 months now, her bedtime mostly depends on when her nap ended. it’s not until children start dropping their nap altogether (usually around age 3~4) that a strict bedtime is necessary, typically around 7:30. even if she’s gotten a good 2.5 hour nap in, sometimes she’ll still want to go to sleep about 4 hours after her nap ended. we just go by her cues because every day is different. she’s learning something new all the time and it can be exhausting (for all).

but, back to the carnival. we were able to take both penny and ezra to the carnival yesterday! the weather was perfect: sunny with a cool breeze. we waited until ezra’s last ended. (actually i had to wake him up at 4:50pm!) we decided it would be easier to feed him at home since it would be chaotic at the carnival. this meant that we didn’t arrive there until around 5:40pm.

dennis’ parents were waiting for us in the parking lot, and we met up with parker, karen, and patrick near the carousel. i was worried about how penny would do on the rides but since she and parker sat together for some of the rides, she was fine! i think she was a little shocked still (and paralyzed with fear, haha) but she was good. no tears until she wanted to sit on a solo car. by the time we tried to find something else for her to sit on, all the double cars were taken so we got our 3 tickets back and just watched parker ride solo. baby steps… i’m still proud that she went on some rides. i mean, she is still only 2 years old.

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the adults were all a little skeptical about how the kids would react to the giant slide but they wanted to go on! the dads took parker and penny while the rest of us took videos and photos. penny absolutely loved it and wanted to go on again. this time, karen and i took the kids and i think we enjoyed it even more than the little ones! i used to love going to carnivals. i still do, but now i have to focus more on taking care of the kids. it’s not like i can run off to enjoy a ride solo. i guess i could if i really wanted to but there’s the waiting-in-line bit.

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anyway, i got a bit wistful as i looked around at all the rides. so many things these days seem to be “when the kids get older, we can do this”, and it gets me a little impatient. however, i know when they’re in their teenage years i’ll miss how small they used to be. plus, my goal was to be able to bring the kids to a carnival and we did! mission: accomplished.

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penny tried fried dough for the first time. despite her expression in pictures, she liked it

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grandma holding grandpa so he won’t fall


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rushing home for bedtime

this is off-topic but we have been potty training penny using the oh crap! potty training book for almost a week now. i really wish i had purchased the book sooner especially since we had attempted potty training back when penny was 19/20 months old. she had had successful pees/poops in the potty then but was still anxious and scared. thinking she wasn’t ready, we held off until recently.

this book is so amazing! it has wonderful tips and advice on how to know when your child is ready and what steps to take. one of the biggest mistakes parents make (and why kids get nervous) is because we tend to overprompt even when we think we aren’t! we might try to bribe, beg, or force them on the potty and those methods usually don’t work. that makes them more resistant.

the author states the best age to start is between 20-30 months. the closer the child gets to age 3, it’ll be more difficult because they’re more aware and independent (which could mean more power struggles). also, it is a myth that boys are ready later than girls. this kind of thinking is detrimental to boys in general. i know i have heard this myth plenty of times and even believed it to be true so i’m glad to be rid of this misconception.

parents want to clear their schedule and focus on the child (keep them close by!) during the first few days. the kid should also be naked from the waist down, at least. this gives them faster access to the potty but also makes them more aware of their body. plus, not having a snug diaper is a feeling they have to get used to! even underwear isn’t suggested because it feels too much like a diaper. once the child gets a good pee on the potty, the author suggests putting pants on the child, commando, and going out for a short walk or errand to hand your child success.

since penny had peed just before we were about to leave the house for the carnival (part floor/ part potty), we figured she was good to go. upon arrival, we saw that she had peed in her car seat and hadn’t told us! we really didn’t want to put a diaper on her, but felt like we had no choice since we risked her having an accident on a ride! it was just as well, i suppose, because while we stood in line to go on the carousel, i saw penny go suddenly still and knew she was peeing in her diaper. maybe she felt safe because she had a diaper on, or maybe she still would’ve peed without it… but it happened. i’m really hoping that one diaper didn’t set her backward since she’s only been wearing a diaper during naptime and bedtime.

the key is to not overprompt and pressure her (i need to step back more and look at what kind of message i’m sending with my words and tone of voice). it’s also tough to get everyone on the same page because i have to repeat the steps to my in-laws to remind them what we are supposed to be doing. they haven’t read the book so they can’t remember everything i tell them. sometimes they’ll ask her if she has to go or overprompt – both things not to do. but dennis and i catch ourselves doing that too so we attempt to back off when we find ourselves doing that the first time.

one thing that we’re glad for is that it’s summer. the warm days make it easy for penny to run around half-naked at home without us worrying about her being cold. hopefully she starts recognizing the sensation of having to go pee sooner than when it’s already coming out! i’ve seen some improvement though. for instance, she told me she had to go potty while we were walking down the stairs this morning. i held her and rushed her down, and she pooped entirely in the potty! (small victory!) in the afternoon, while she was playing with grandma she announced, “똥 나온다” (poop is coming out) and my mil quickly sat her on the potty just in time. ten minutes later, she said she had to pee and she peed entirely in the potty! that was her second time peeing in the potty with grandma today. needless to say, we were all in a celebratory mood today.

these are some hard times, for sure… i can’t believe we have to go through this with ezra in a few years.. and not to mention night-train both kids. but, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

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she got her nails painted for the first time while sitting on the potty

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grandpa bought penny the bubble gun from the carnival

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ezra’s tutti frutti party

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it was hard getting him to smile for this photo

ezra’s 100th day party has come and gone; now we can all relax. the night before, dennis and i stayed up until 2am cleaning and organizing the house (him) and putting together last-minute details & decor (me). we knew we still had a lot to do in the morning (and still take care of two kids) so we tried to get as much as done as we could before heading off to bed. what helped was that ezra didn’t wake up until 6:30am! he slept his longest stretch yet: 11 hours straight. what a wonderful gift! even penny ended up being tired enough to sleep in until 8am. that was a great way to start the day.

 

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initially i had a different theme in mind for ezra’s party but the details and decor were turning out to be too elaborate so i saved it for his first birthday! (you will have to wait until then to see what it is.) plus, i had chosen a bright yellow lemon invitation from paperless post for ezra’s party so i wanted to stick with a fruit theme. while i love the trendy minimalistic / modern look that is so popular these days, the bright color scheme for the ‘tutti frutti’ was perfect for a mid-summer party.

it’s been two years since penny’s 100th day party so i will share briefly on the history of the 100th day celebration. back in the olden days when infant mortality rate was high, if babies lived to be 100 days it was thought that they had a very good rate for survival into adulthood. of course this doesn’t apply anymore as korea has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world (especially the women) but the celebration still continues partly due to tradition but mostly for enjoyment purposes.

dennis was in charge of ordering the food. he decided to have restaurant bricco in west hartford cater, and we were very pleased with the decision. guests raved about the food and came back for seconds and thirds. my parents also brought tang soo yook (deep-fried sweet & sour pork) and beef bulgogi from their restaurant, and everyone loved those as well.

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a big staple in korean cuisine is ddeok, rice cakes, and these are important in celebratory events such as birthdays and weddings. it is known as “the food of the gods” and is usually a food that is shared. for the 100th day celebration, it is believed that if 100 pieces of ddeok are consumed by the guests, the baby will have bountiful luck. my mil brought homemade ddeok, lovingly prepared by a grandma from our church.

(the ddeok cake with raisins spelling out “baek il”, or “100 days” along with the 3 different kinds of round ddeok can be seen in the table display photos.)

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as for dessert, i had planned on ordering cupcakes from nora cupcake company in west hartford. as is the case for many bakeries, their “regular” cupcakes are huge. i wanted to minimize waste and also make the cupcakes kid-friendly so i chose the mini cupcakes (which actually aren’t really that small). the price for 40 mini cupcakes came out to over $106! i understand these are gourmet cupcakes but that price is ridiculous. i decided to bake my own cupcakes as well as a cake. inspired by one of nora’s cupcake flavors, i settled on fruit loops cupcakes and cake. perfect, right? the actual cake part was funfetti cake mix for the festive colors.

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for the decorations, i turned to trusty pinterest for inspirational ideas. one pin led to a blog that had a fruit garland available for download. the creator suggested printing the fruit on ‘photo paper’ option (even though you will actually print them on card stock) so the colors would be bold and bright. as suggested, they printed beautifully. after cutting out each fruit carefully, i taped each piece onto twine.

*note: the pieces of fruit may flip over if there isn’t enough weight to the card stock. i had to tape some of the fruit pieces onto the tablecloth to prevent this.

i noticed on an event planning website that brightly colored poms in various sizes were used for a backdrop so i decided to incorporate those as well. i was stuck on what to do for the wall. i thought about using the window & shade in our kitchen for the backdrop but the sun sets in that direction causing light to filter in through the shade. i didn’t want to just use our wall either because the paint is an off-white color and wouldn’t look as nice as a bright white background. then i remembered we had a roll of faux wood bulletin board paper that we had used for penny’s cake smash so we opted to use that instead.

one detail that was spontaneous was the letterboard. this has made a comeback in recent days and is no longer just for churches and businesses. many people use these in their homes to write funny and/or inspirational messages as part of their home decor. while i was at joann fabrics to buy other materials, i stumbled upon a letterboard display and decided to purchase one with a white background along with large mint letters for a splash of color. it added such a nice touch to our 100th day table display, and i know we will continue to use it in our home.

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a detail that took up too much of my time were the “fruit” plates. to make the plates appear like fruit, i cut out seeds from black and white adhesive vinyl. there was a listing on etsy that sold 96 seeds in either black or white but i wouldn’t receive them in time. plus, they were $9.00. i would have to purchase about 4 (two in each color) to make sure there were enough. in the end, i stacked the plates so that every other one had the seeds on them. even though it was a lot of work, i still enjoyed making them and they turned out really cute.

my only regret, and there is always one, is that we didn’t take more pictures during the party. i had wanted to take more family photos with ezra but we didn’t get the chance. i don’t even have pictures of most of the guests! i also felt bad about pulling people away to take pictures but i still should have tried! he was sleeping for the first half of the party and then took another nap towards the end. he was passed around like a doll but he did so well! penny started getting more nervous with each arriving guest, so my mil took her down to the playroom to play and she ended up warming up to everyone later on.

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grandma lee feeding ezra

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dennis encouraging will to splash ryan with the hose

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poor will caught in the crossfire!

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lucky penny got to open up ezra’s gifts. she had one, too!

we took pictures with the grandparents the following day

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for ezra’s first birthday, i plan on having a friend take pictures so i don’t miss out on the actual party. usually i don’t mind taking pictures, but i miss out on a lot of opportunities to be in them because i’m the one behind the camera. i’d like to be in the pictures with my children, too. we still have some time before we have to think about planning for ezra’s birthday (much to dennis’ relief) so i won’t worry about that for now.

 

 

100 days of ezra

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i recall planning for penny’s 100th day celebration two years ago, and now ezra is already 100 days old. it really has been an adventure so far raising two little ones. i’ve said it before but ezra is so much easier than penny right now. the ‘terrible twos’ are no joke. i had heard horror stories about it but you know nothing until you go through it with your child! the meltdowns are monumental: they make me want to run away and hide. when penny starts throwing a fit, dennis and i will glance at each other with wide eyes.

although penny is very good with languages and has excellent speaking skills she is still learning how to express herself. she doesn’t understand that she can’t always get what she wants especially at that exact moment. toddlers also go through a power struggle with their parents, and i feel like penny tests us a lot because she’ll do something and then quickly look at us for a reaction.

my patience has been very thin for a while since i’m sleeping maybe 4-5 hours at night. it’s my choice though. dennis usually goes to bed around 10 but i stay up until midnight or even 1am sometimes because i’ve been crafting for ezra’s 100th day party. not only that, i just really enjoy my alone time… but it’s taking a toll on my mood the next day. every day i tell myself i’ll go to bed sooner but i don’t. just yesterday i told myself i’ll start sleeping earlier once ezra’s party is over but i don’t know if i actually will. i always find something to do that keeps me up. (and yet, it’s still difficult to find time and energy to update my blog.)

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penny testing our her custom disney umbrella that katie bought for her from disney world

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we started potty training penny again, and it hasn’t been easy. she’s well aware that she has to go but she will hold it because she doesn’t want to sit on the potty. she will tell us she has to go but then will refuse to sit down. two days ago, she finally pooped on the potty. she was about to go in her underwear and i caught her just in time. yesterday she said she had to go pee after bathtime but kept holding it. finally just before bed, she sat down on the potty while i played ‘elmo potty’ songs on youtube and she went!! it’s a slow process so i’m trying to be encouraging and patient with that. it’ll be wonderful to only have one child in diapers.

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getting fresh air after a rainstorm

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it rained so much in so little time that some areas were flooded

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the birthday boy

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it has been one humid and wet summer here in new england. if it isn’t raining, it’s been muggy which has limited our outside time. right now we are in the midst of a heat wave. yesterday we took the kids to crystal lake and penny had a blast swimming in the water. we had first taken her there last summer when she was just beginning to walk. i was a bit worried about ezra because his afternoon naps had been so short but he enjoyed himself too. we sat in the shade and the cool breeze calmed him down. i dipped his feet in the water but he didn’t like that too much; it was probably not warm enough for him.

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it’s that magical time where both kids are snoozing. i’m going to sign off here and hopefully i can lie down (even if i can’t fall asleep) for 15 minutes before ezra wakes up.

happy birthday, america.. and grandpa so

summer days are flying by. the weather has finally been appropriate swim & tan weather though sadly i have yet to do either. (i do have awkward tan lines on my feet from favoring my mossimo sandals from target so i need to switch up my footwear.)

speaking of target, i recently purchased adorable cat & jack sandals for penny and strappy flats for myself. i snapped a shoefie (selfie + shoes) of our feet and posted it on instagram. to my surprise, target asked to share the image and, of course, i agreed! the image was shared on their ‘awesome shop’ page.

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the chosen image

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another shot of our feet

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feature on target’s ‘awesome shop’ page

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another look

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stamping at coventry library

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the location where i took the feet photos

fyi cat & jack shoes run big. i ordered a size 6 for penny and they were falling off her feet. i returned them for a size 5 and they fit perfectly.

june 29th was my 4th wedding anniversary. hard to believe it has only been four years. and in those four years, we already have two children! we waited until saturday, july 1st, to celebrate… and by celebrate, we went out to eat dinner and came straight home. it was already 10pm by the time we left the restaurant so there wasn’t much to do afterwards anyway.

i have slowly been planning for ezra’s 100th day party which is on july 22nd. s l o w l y. i browse pinterest for ideas but none have really caught my eye. granted the 100th day celebration is not as important as the first birthday but i do want to settle on a theme so i can get started on decorations.

the party is going to be held at our home and weather permitting we will have lawn games and water play outdoors. our back yard connects to a huge field that is part of an elementary school so we plan on setting up a badminton net back there along with cornhole, horseshoes, and other activities.

there are a lot of summer birthdays between dennis’ family and mine. my brother (6/15), my dad (6/25), my fil (7/8), my sil (7/25), and my sister (8/6). we went up to massachusetts the last weekend of june to celebrate my dad’s birthday. penny had so much fun with the water hose that i ended up purchasing a melissa & doug sprinkler attachment from tj maxx to use at home. we also purchased a 5-in-1 game set that includes badminton. i hadn’t played in years and i regaled dennis and my sister with a memorable account of when my friend and i beat all the other teams at badminton during p.e. class in high school.

ezra is 2.5 months and he’s already wearing size 6 month clothes! it seems like a waste of money to buy more summer clothes when fall will be here in a few months but the 3-month bodysuits are tight on him. as it is ezra was only able to wear his size 3-month shorts once (the elastic waistband is too tight).

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tolerating tummy time

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yogurt

she LOVES the korean yogurt drinks

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both girls were tentative about going in the sprinkler

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they enjoyed the water table more

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time to hydrate

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daddy brought ice cream home 

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trying on her new shades

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looking cool, ez

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these three

these days ezra is the easy one… he eats and sleeps well. ezra is on a great schedule and is continuing to only wake up once at night typically around 4-5am. i used to worry that he was sleeping too much during the day but i leave him alone because he will wake up when he’s hungry. his day sleep hasn’t affected his night sleep at all. additionally, he’s going through a lot of developmental leaps and growth spurts so some days he’ll be extra sleepy.

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ezra’s not a big fan of tummy time but he tolerates it on the boppy lounger

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ezra laughed out loud for the first time shortly after this picture was taken

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arts & crafts

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painting the american flag

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i made the star stamp on the spot: cut out a star on felt and used a glue gun to glue it onto a dowel

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penny’s still going through her 2-year sleep regression with who knows what else? although three of her canines have broken through they are taking their sweet time growing in. i don’t believe the fourth one has broken through yet.

we solved her fear of the dark by buying a night light that either glows blue or green. it really comforts her. we also leave the camera night light on and turn it off when she’s asleep. the evening that we returned from massachusetts, penny started crying hysterically at bedtime. i went to her room three times to comfort her and even left the camera light on (which had worked previously) but she still kept crying. finally, i looked online for advice and read that some parents left the hallway light on while leaving the child’s bedroom door ajar. it worked. penny stopped crying right away, played for a little bit, and fell asleep. now that we have the night light, we don’t have to keep the hallway light on.

although penny had been getting better with ezra being around, her bouts of jealousy have since returned. coupled with being hangry and tired from waking up at night, she’s just a hot mess lately. she’s actually fine when i am with ezra; penny goes ballistic when grandma suddenly tends to ezra when she had been playing with her.

and the ‘stranger danger’ issue continues. even with people she knows. on sunday, genie and olivia came over for a morning play date, and penny pinched me so hard from being nervous that she left a bruise on my thigh. she also scratched her own cheek from flipping out and her nail broke through her skin! we don’t know what else to do other than keep telling her that it’s okay and attempt to calm and soothe her. we even let her know in advance that friends are coming over so it won’t be a surprise. i just hope her fear subsides soon. it makes me sad to see her so genuinely nervous and scared, but it also frustrates me because there’s not much we can do to make her feel better.

dennis’ brother, dan, and his wife, crystal, arrived late sunday night and are leaving around noon today. we celebrated the 4th of july with a family cookout and an early birthday celebration for grandpa so. penny was a nervous wreck and uncle dan and aunt crystal came to visit monday afternoon. she was loads better on tuesday morning when they came to hang out for the entire day.

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playing with her ‘new’ toy, a vacuum. i purchased it for $5 off of facebook marketplace

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munching on goldfish crackers while watching sesame street

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finishing up breakfast in the sunroom

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love this impromptu photo shoot

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time to eat~

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pinterest-inspired fruit & pretzel platter

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kebabs & corn

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playing with aunt crystal

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yay, we got a group photo

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i was trying to capture dennis and uncle dan playing football but penny steals the show

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purposely looking away

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happy birthday, grandpa so!

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it’s always great when the kids go down for the night as we can all catch up and relax. last night, we were deciding on what movie to watch and settled on a netflix original ‘okja.’ it’s a korean film by famed director, bong joon-ho, about a young girl who goes through great lengths to save her pet super pig from a fate in the slaughterhouse.

we likely will not be able to see dan and crystal again until thanksgiving. even that will be tricky though because i do want to go up to massachusetts to celebrate with my family since we have not gone the past two years. we will just have to see what happens then. we all enjoyed the movie, and were moved, and disturbed, by the ongoing, inhumane actions of the meat industry. although some scenes were heartbreaking i’m not quite sure i’d be able to give up pork because i love it so much.

since i wasn’t able to write about, or acknowledge, grandpa lee’s birthday i will do that for my next post.