summer daze

although fall doesn’t officially begin until september 22nd, it feels like summer is slowly coming to an end with the start of the school year around the corner. i certainly am relishing the long days and soaking up the last rays of the summer sun. as much as i like snow, i dread being stuck indoors and the sun setting at 4pm. i spent this summer planning activities and trying to coordinate them with my kids’ schedules. we didn’t travel anywhere exotic – even with the kids sleeping well, i wouldn’t quite consider traveling far with a toddler and an infant a “vacation” – nor do anything out of the ordinary, but we shared many laughs and created lasting memories.

one place that i’ve been dying to bring penny to is the dinosaur place in oakdale, ct. it is a 60-acre outdoor adventure park that includes new england’s largest splash pad, a jurassic-themed moon bounce, a maze, and a huge playground. there is also a 1.5 mile trail complete with 40 life-sized dinosaurs! the main reason we waited so long to bring her is the distance: it is nearly an hour away. since the dinosaur place opens at 10am, we would not be able to go in the morning and have enough time for penny to eat lunch, drive back, and take a nap. naturally, we planned for the afternoon. we pushed penny’s nap up so she would wake up earlier in the afternoon. (she still woke up around 2:30pm.)

there is so much to do, and you can easily spend the entire day there in order to properly experience everything. this is why admission is so expensive. i was surprised to learn admission for 2 and up is $24 during the peak season! there is no “kid’s price”: they pay the same as adults! for that reason alone, i really wouldn’t bring children unless they’re older.. maybe, at least 5 years old, to make the price worthwhile.

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we took a family photo before we explored the park

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penny enjoyed the splash pad the most!

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dad is regretting not bringing a change of clothes although he did wear swim trunks

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ezra did not like the jet spray of cold water

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can’t expect a toddler to look at the camera in the midst of water play

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this thing was awesome – half the time, kids were waiting for the huge bucket of water to fill up so it could tip over and come down the slide

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splash!

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waiting…

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walking the dinosaur trail

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dinosaur vertebrae

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ezra always has something in his mouth these days

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dinosaur maze

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our annual stop at dave’s place in oakdale, ct… it’s so good and always busy!

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my go-to: fried clam strips

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new england clam chowder and a cheeseburger

the day before, on saturday, august 12th, my mil and i took the kids to the tolland 4-h fair that was held across the street from where we live. we had taken penny there before when she was an infant but going on saturday made me realize just how small it is. i believe it was $3 for a walk-in fee.. not each person so that was fine.

there were a few vendors and food stands but the only thing that was of interest were the animals.  we looked at the llamas, cows, sheep, goats, chickens & roosters, and the rabbits (although the latter were closed off so we had to view from a distance). penny also liked looking at the row of tractors, old and new. she wanted to go on them but we told her they were only for looking.

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i don’t want to knock a fair, but it was just okay. i wouldn’t go back though, honestly. it was just something to do and all we had to do was walk over from our neighborhood.

dennis and i are really looking forward to taking the kids to farm day at the fish family farm in bolton. it’s on sept 2nd this year and it’s from 9am-5pm. we took penny last year but since she was so small she couldn’t participate in the children’s activities like the obstacle course. she did enjoy eating ice cream though (and it’s all-you-can-eat!) my friend, karen, and i found out from a vendor that there is a spin art station so i’ll be sure to look for that. hopefully this year we can make a tie-dye shirt too because we didn’t get a chance to last year.

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always smiling

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hair today, gone tomorrow

i was hoping it wouldn’t happen, but it has.

during pregnancy, my hair became thicker and more lush. i had a lot of hair to begin with but pregnancy hormones caused less of my hair to fall out. naturally, we shed hair every day but this process stalls during pregnancy making it seem like you’re growing more when in fact you’re just losing less. my normally paper-thin fingernails were also stronger and seemed to be growing at an alarming rate. (i felt like i was clipping my nails all the time!)

now that i’m 3.5 months postpartum, the hair-shedding process has begun. i began noticing strands of hair on my arm, on my clothes, and in penny’s clenched fists! while rocking penny to sleep, i noticed how stray hairs kept tickling my forehead prompting me to repeatedly, but ineffectively, brush them away. these, i saw, were baby hairs. what’s interesting is that penny has been losing hair as well. however, i feel like she’s losing it more so because she’s been grabbing at her own hair. now that she’s more environmentally and physically aware, she’s always staring at her hands and using them to feel and grasp. she’s been tugging at her hair mainly on her left side so it’s noticeably thinner on the left side of her head.

there’s really not much you can do to prevent hair loss. i still take my prenatal vitamins every day and it still happens. the good news is your hair eventually grows back. same with the baby’s.

a more serious problem that i’ve been recently experiencing is the gradual loss of my milk supply. every summer around this time i develop a chronic cough that is caused by an excess of mucus. i’m not sure if it has to do with allergies or the weather, but it keeps me up at night… and has also awoken penny many times while holding her because i haven’t been able to suppress it. i began taking mucinex dm last monday and i noticed that i was producing less breast milk. i couldn’t feel my milk come in and penny began fussing while nursing because, i assume, there wasn’t enough milk. prior to this incident i never had to switch breasts while nursing because penny had been satiated from nursing on one side. now, she would begin fussing around the 5-minute mark and she would unlatch/relatch for another 5 or so minutes before getting hysterical. after i switched her to the other side, the same thing would happen.

besides the mucinex, i believe that my supply has been decreasing because penny has been distracted. during the 3-4 month mark, babies become hyper-aware of their surroundings and stare at objects in an almost trance-like state. no matter where i nurse, penny unlatches to look at something, be it a lamp, a blanket, or artwork. i even nurse in penny’s room with only a small table lamp on but something always manages to catch her eye! because she has been consuming less, her sleep has been impacted as well.  she used to sleep a good stretch of 6+ hours a night and then she began waking up only a few hours after going down for the night. three days ago it was 11:30pm, and two nights ago she woke up at 9:30pm! she didn’t just wake up needing to be rocked back to sleep; she was guzzling 4 ounces of milk! since she was consuming less in the day, she was making up for it at night. not fun.

*edit: last night she slept from 7pm-4am! i didn’t set my alarm to pump because i thought she’d wake up a lot sooner. just as i finished pumping she woke up so i couldn’t nurse her, but dennis bottle fed her 5 oz (to make up for the long stretch of sleep). she drank it all and slept for another 2.5 hours.

unfortunately, i think the nighttime wakings have been exacerbated by the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. though named for the fourth month, this sleep regression can happen anytime between a baby’s third-fifth month. this usually occurs because the baby is developmentally growing at a rapid rate (like rolling!), and with all the stimulation they are getting during the day it becomes difficult to sleep at night. furthermore, the baby’s sleep cycle starts to mature. this is where rem sleep comes in and babies find it tough to switch from one sleep cycle to the next. ever wonder why your baby repeatedly wakes up around the 45-minute mark? this is why. since penny’s nighttime sleep has been getting interrupted, she’s also trying to make up for it during the daytime.. and then she’s not tired enough at night to sleep in longer stretches.. it’s a vicious cycle. supposedly, you shouldn’t introduce any new sleeping methods (i.e if you don’t use a pacifier, don’t introduce a new crutch now.) because it should all go back to “normal” eventually. the question: how long will this last? it’s different for every baby. some claim their baby only goes through it for a week but others can last as long as six! i sincerely hope it’s not the latter for me.

penny doing tummy time on her pororo mat

penny doing tummy time on her pororo mat

penny on her new pororo mat

recently, we purchased a pororo mat (korean company) for penny. they retail for a little over $100 on amazon for the large mat. a little pricey (and this is the sale price), but totally worth it. penny does most of her tummy time and play time on here. since i’ve been consistent with tummy time, penny has started to roll over! dennis was the first to witness it during penny’s 14th week and i was finally able to see it for myself at her 15th week. since then she has been rolling from tummy to back nearly every day.

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the first thing i have penny do when she wakes up for the day is tummy time either in her crib or on the floor on top of a blanket. a great way to encourage your baby to like or, at least, endure tummy time is to provide things for her to look at. i usually get on the floor with her and talk to her, and i also lay out toys in a half circle so she’s turning to the side to look at them.

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here she is looking at her mobile. she’s still got a lot of hair! that “bedhead” is actually what her hair looks like every day because of two cowlicks on the back of her head. i liken her hair to donald trump’s -_- for some reason, double cowlicks have a bad reputation: anything from being left-handed (why is this bad?) to autism! these are all myths, of course… and penny is already showing preference for her right hand so that theory is incorrect. as penny’s hair grows longer and thicker, it should lay flat… but for now she always looks like she got caught in a windstorm.

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a mirror is a great way to encourage baby during tummy time.. and it also raises self-awareness.

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i just noticed that all the toys i laid out were all gifts 🙂 the lamb chop puppet that penny is fixated on was given to me by one of my former students.

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for babies that hate tummy time, putting them on your tummy counts! the wonder weeks app also suggests games like “airplane.”

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sweet father-daughter moments. i’ll be able to witness more of these on any given day because i’m taking a year off from work to be a sahm (stay-at-home mom). i’m so excited to be able to witness penny’s milestones and just being able to BE with her all day… before penny was born, i thought 4 months was enough time to bond with her but clearly not as i found myself in tears the first few months, dreading the day i would have to return to work.

dennis encouraged me to stay home not only to ease my distress but he truly believes that the best person for penny is me. no one else has that -bond- with a baby quite like the mother. this is one reason why i am so devastated by my supply issue. i’ve been pumping every 3-4 hours to bring it back up, nursing whenever i can, drinking mother’s milk tea, and eating, eating, eating. i’ve already started to see an increase but it’s still not enough particularly in the evening before bedtime. it’s quite disheartening to hear penny cry because she’s not satisfied.  at least i am able to (hopefully) rectify the problem without having to worry about work as well. i love teaching but it can’t top being penny’s #1 teacher. she’s growing and learning so much every day, and i don’t want to miss anything.