night changes

my favorite holiday used to be thanksgiving for as long as i could remember. i always looked forward to our huge family gathering, the endless amounts of traditional thanksgiving and korean food, and, of course, my birthday. the years that my birthday fell during thanksgiving weekend, or on thanksgiving day, were the best since i didn’t have to go to school, and, later on, work.

but now that i am married with two children, and also live a state away from most of my family members and relatives i feel christmas has usurped thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. for one thing, i’ve always loved christmas music. i could honestly listen to it all year long. as an adult, there’s something so nostalgic and cheerful about it… as if listening to the music alone will melt away the troubles of the world.

although christmas can be stressful (as most holidays can be) because of the expenses that come with purchasing gifts, thanksgiving became a source of anxiety once i had children. thanksgivings 2015 and 2016 were spent here in connecticut with my in-laws, my brother-in-law and his wife. dennis and i didn’t want to get stuck in crazy holiday traffic with a baby and dennis also had to work on friday.

this year, however, we were able to make it work (more details on the next post). although it was great catching up with cousins i hadn’t spoken to in a while (in person, that is) and seeing my grandma, it just wasn’t the same as it was even five years ago. for one thing, about ten family members didn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts or a personal issue within the family. also, my eldest aunt had passed away earlier in the year so her absence was palpable.

the title of this post is from a one direction song – yes, i’m a directioner. night changes discusses how things can change so quickly, and we notice this more as we grow older. i’m not as close to my cousins as i once was – and, distance can be one reason – so the family gatherings that i am able to attend can be awkward as we try to make small talk. i also wasn’t able to enjoy the food as much because i was helping to take care of the children, and making sure that they eat. this, of course, means that i can’t properly eat. i was still hungry even after devouring most of the food on my plate.

still, i’m glad that dennis and i made it work. bringing children anywhere is a challenge but we rose to the occasion!

did you know home depot hosts a kids’ workshop the first saturday of every month? my friend had told me about it but i had forgotten about it until i was notified through a weekly events page through hulafrog. this past saturday, home depot had a ‘make your own gingerbread house’ workshop where kids use a hammer and nails to construct their own gingerbread house.

it was a huge hit! people were spread out everywhere to assemble the houses, and a woman next to us commented how this was the biggest crowd she had seen for the kids’ workshop. i guess the holiday spirit had the people out in droves.

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eating a cracker while posing

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setting the nail in place

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looking over the instructions

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first time using a hammer!

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people kept coming!

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finding a spot

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the finished masterpiece

as for christmas, it will only get more enjoyable as the children get older. penny’s favorite christmas song is “jingle bells” and she loves to laugh during the “laughing all the way” line as well as shouting out “hey!” during the song. she also hung up a few ornaments on the tree as ezra watched.

now that we finally have our tree up, i am just waiting for our new family stockings to arrive. i ordered personalized ones from pottery barn kids and they are on their way. another thing that is in transit are our family pajamas. i’m not sure we’ll be able to create and send out a christmas card in time this year. i’ve been wanting to take pictures of the kids in front of the fireplace but i have been waiting on the stockings. if anything, we won’t be able to have christmas cards made in nice cardstock because express shipping will be so expensive. i do want to commemorate ezra’s first christmas so i will have to have something made!

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one of the elementary schools in my town is teamed up with frc (family resource center), and they host a playgroup on friday mornings. i recently began bringing penny so now we have an activity every weekday to keep us preoccupied. it’s very similar to the library playgroup where there is a storytime, extension activities, and free play. what’s different is that snack is also offered and the children sit together at the end of the playgroup to eat.

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making a snow-covered tree using q-tips and white paint

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decorating mittens

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night changes

We’re only getting older, baby
And I’ve been thinking about it lately
Does it ever drive you crazy
Just how fast the night changes?
Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of
Disappearing when you wake up
But there’s nothing to be afraid of
Even when the night changes
It will never change, me and you

 

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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those busy toddler days

miss penny is 20 months old now – closer and closer to becoming a 2-year-old. every day, penny goes back and forth from being a fiercely independent toddler to a clingy one. most of the time she will want to do things on her own — placing different shapes in the correct cutouts, putting animals in a truck, etc. — and even knock our hands out of the way if we try to help. and then, out of nowhere, she will climb onto my lap or ask to be picked up. she’s been like a baby sloth lately – i’ll try to put her down and she’ll curl her legs right back up.

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i actually don’t mind the extra comfort that penny is seeking nowadays because i know i won’t be able to cuddle her as much when ezra arrives, but it’s getting more difficult to pick her up and carry her around as my belly continually expands. i wonder if it’s a phase she is going through or if she senses her baby brother – i’m thinking both. she doesn’t ask anyone else – not even her dad – to pick her up and hold her like she does to me. when dennis works the day shift, he does bath time. all he has to say is “bath time” or “bubbles” and penny will run into his arms. lately, she’s been twisting in his arms and extending her arms to me so i’ve been bringing her upstairs to give her a bath. even yesterday when grandma so tried to bring her upstairs, penny insisted i do it instead.

within the past month, penny has also had 6 teeth come in! she had 4 for the longest time and now she has all of her first molars (top and bottom) and two of the lateral incisors (one on top and one on bottom). they never really affected her sleep (lucky us) but probably had an effect on her daytime mood and eating habits.

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penny has been at the late end of the tooth eruption stage for all her teeth thus far

now we are just waiting for her canines, the rest of her lateral incisors, and later on, her second molars.

penny definitely acts clingy when i’m around; she doesn’t really look for me if i’m not there. last wednesday, grace and i went to new jersey for the day. i was a little worried that penny would look for me and get upset that i wasn’t there, but she was fine. dennis woke up in the morning to take care of her since i had to leave around 8am to get to grace’s house so we could carpool. dennis even made me an egg, cheese, and sausage breakfast sandwich to eat on the road! his mom came a few hours later to take over and penny was great, as usual, for the rest of the day as well.

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avocado toast at kuppi cafe

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i’d been to this cafe once before but i had no idea the owner and i had mutual friends. we ended up getting our orders on the house!

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lunch at mitsuwa

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nuna pipa car seat

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dream shade

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gam mi-ok before heading home

grace and i had a wonderful time in jersey. it felt so odd to be away from home for an entire day. i’m trying to think of the last time i did that and i really can’t remember. sure, i’ve been gone a few hours here and there recently but not a whole day. i just thought about penny the entire time (of course) and how much i missed her.

when we went shopping at garden state plaza mall, i vowed i’d buy something for myself because i rarely do these days. i ended up buying a lot of clothes from zara for penny (all on sale), a few items for dennis and jeggings for myself from uniqlo. grace and i also tried out strollers and car seats at nordstrom – uppababy vista for her and the nuna pipa car seat for me. i’ve been looking to replace the mesa car seat with a nuna pipa so i was glad i was able to try it out in person. the feature that i like the best is the dream drape – the extra sun shade extends to the baby’s feet. it also weighs about 7.7 lb: one of the lightest car seats out there. i’m still stuck on the color – the classic black is always nice especially since the infant insert is a cream color, but i am also partial to indigo.

my friend, grace, also had her mickey mouse-themed baby shower on the 15th. i made a banner for the shower and i’m really pleased with how it turned out. i made the mickey mouse cutouts and the letters without using any templates. the korean characters proved to be the hardest because i wanted the font to look authentic and the size had to fit inside the bunting.

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since the shower was at 3:30pm, i was able to bring penny. i’m glad i brought her so i can get her accustomed to attending more social gatherings since she tends to be shy; but also in a few months i’ll have to learn how to tote two (!) around so i should take advantage of only having to do one for now. it still did prove to be difficult because she wanted to be held for the first half hour (my arms were killing me) but she did eventually warm up and walked around and played with the other children.

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penny & ethan

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with the mommy-to-be

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i thought it was an actual cake

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i wish i had brought food from home though because she couldn’t really eat any of the food provided. she snacked on sun chips, a few crackers, pineapple and strawberries; refused cheese and, not surprisingly, the olives and roasted veggies. i thought she would, at least, eat a few bites of the creamy pasta but she didn’t. she wanted the salad – she likes lettuce even though it’s hard for her to eat it – but ended up munching on the raw onions! she also ended up eating a cupcake sans frosting and drinking juice from a juice box for the first time ever. when we got home, i made sure to feed her a little bit more before starting the bedtime routine.

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a highlight was that i won one of the games – something that i’ve never done at a baby or bridal shower, i believe. i got a starbucks gift card with a “year of the rooster” illustration on it – yay!

recently, a few mommy friends and i met up for a group play date. we were excited to visit imagine nation, a children’s museum in bristol, for the first time. i was wary of the distance though (a 40-minute drive) since the museum opens at 9:30am and penny and i would need to leave around 11am to come back home in time for lunch.

penny actually ended up doing really well on the car ride (credit goes to the forward-facing seat) so that wasn’t an issue. we all discovered when we arrived there that the museum is closed on mondays and tuesdays! one of the mommies suggested we go to the public library a half mile down the road and we all hoped they would have a decent children’s section. they do! in fact, they have one of the best children’s rooms in a library that i’ve ever seen: spacious, filled with toys and tablet stations (!), and a sensory board on a wall. it ended up working out because penny and i had gotten to the museum around 10 so we would’ve only had about an hour to play. (admission is $10/person.)

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penny enjoying strawberries while parker munches on veggie sticks

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penny and serina checking out the sensory board

dennis and i ended up bringing penny to imagine nation later on in the week. the exhibits are spread out and capacious but we felt that the museum geared towards older kids – at least, 4~5 years old and up. penny is still young enough where she wasn’t engrossed in many of the exhibits like the wellness center where you can pretend to be a dentist. personally, i liked the giant bubble and the art room. penny did paint for a short while in the art studio but even the tables and stools were made for older children. she liked the interactive floor, glow sticks (they have these at other kids’ museums), and the musical instruments the best. i was debating whether we should have penny’s birthday at kid city or imagine nation but we decided on kid city after our visit to imagine nation that day.

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air blowing up a balloon

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pushing the table so the marker can make lines

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interactive floor

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she liked the magnatiles and especially the color-changing table

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she likes playing with different musical instruments at home so she enjoyed herself

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squashing aliens

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not a fan of the sportscenter broadcasting station

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the water was too cold for her liking

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giant bubble maker

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check out the snake skin

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she just wanted to play with the markers

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painting buddies

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i made snowflakes as the duo painted

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it’s fascinating to see penny develop an interest in toys that she had not cared for in past months. now that she’s older, she likes to play with the pegs and peg board that i had gotten for her back when she was 16 months. when i had first introduced them to her, she only liked the place the pegs upside down and put them in cups. now she actually puts them on the board and also stacks them on top of each other.

one of our neighbors works for lego and she gave penny a minnie mouse duplo set this past summer. all penny liked to do was dump out the pieces and methodically put each one back in the box. she would point at the airplane and say “bi” (short for “bihenggi”, airplane in korean) but was still too young then to really build with them. our friends, katie and mike, gave penny a farm duplo set as a baptism gift and she plays with it all the time! she particularly likes the people that came with the set – calling the boy “dad” and the girl “grandma.”

penny still loves cars and trucks, and she has a bunch of them. we don’t really get her cars that are pink and “girly”  because we don’t want to pigeonhole her into the category where girls only like/have things that are pink and purple. penny has a good amount of pink clothes but so much more are gray and navy. personally, i like those colors better because they match with other items of clothing.

as a former teacher, i figure it’s never too early to introduce the alphabet. we read books about letters and numbers, but i also wanted penny to be able to play with magnet letters. after much research, i settled on a jug of roscoe learning magnetic letters. i wanted large, foam letters and these have magnets on the entire backside. plus, they have multiple letters for each one so you can actually spells words and make sentences. the softer colors were also appealing to me. i’m not sure if this company makes numbers but i hope they do.

we are continually encouraging penny to be aware of her body and her bowel movements. she has been telling us “응가” (eung-gah, kind of like a grunt in korean when kids poop) when she has to poop but will refuse to sit on the potty. the past few days we’ve caught her mid-poop so took off her diaper/pull-up and sat her on the potty. she resisted but i sang a song and the last bit made it into the potty. when dennis took care of penny in the morning yesterday he was able to have her go in the potty as well. it takes a lot of praise, patience, and encouragement.

hurray to finally updating another blog post. i started this last night but was able to finish it this morning because grandma so is over this morning to help out with penny. *thankful*

penny’s selfies

penny having fun with daddy’s 27-year-old cray pas crayons from korea!