5 years and counting

june 29, 2013. five years ago, dennis and i were married in hamden, connecticut. how has it only been five years? so much has happened since our wedding that it feels more like it has been a decade. one factor is the bit with the emergence of two little ones. at times, i’m still in disbelief that i am a mother. i still feel like a 17-year-old at heart, and I’m still googling ways to solve toddler problems. don’t all parents?

but, there was a time before children. back when dennis and I enjoyed spontaneous date nights and could wake up whenever we wanted to on the weekends. dennis and I began dating in late 2009, but we actually knew of each other since high school circa 2000. dennis is a few years younger than I am so although we shared some mutual friends, we ran in different circles. oh, and he lived in Connecticut while I resided in Massachusetts. how did two teenagers who lived in two different states come to know one another? we both attended Korean churches that are part of a New England Korean community-type of association. this group organizes yearly retreats, and Dennis and I had attended the summer ones.

it wasn’t until 2009, post-college, that Dennis and I became reacquainted at a friend’s house party (a kegger, to be exact. ah, the joys of a kid-free life!) Dennis claims he arrived at the party in time to see me doing a keg stand. I ended up doing four of them that night so, needless to say, I don’t remember much of the party. however, Dennis reached out to me via facebook messenger to get together for a group snowboarding trip to sugar bush in vermont. I’m thinking he thought it was safer to have a casual group hangout rather than a date for the first get-together 🙂

five years ago, we could only imagine what parenthood would be like. we were so excited to become husband and wife, and the prospect of raising children was considered to be in the distant future. fast forward to 2018, and a life with a 3-year-old and a 14-month-old makes it hard to envision one without them.

though the children mean the world to me, I’ve heard, and read, so many times (most often from my mom) that we should put our spouses first, and not the children. of course, this does not mean to neglect or abandon them but to not focus most of our energy in trying to please and win over these tykes. perhaps, even more so with this generation, parents let their children dictate our lives even when we think we are being strict and disciplined. most of us just placate their demands because we want to avoid confrontation and arguing with unreasonable beings. I am totally guilty of this.

also, it’s worth mentioning that I’m fairly certain I’ve talked about this in past post(s) but its importance and validity is a reason why I’m bringing it up again. as I marvel over the past five years, I’m thinking of how dennis and I can focus more on our relationship without it being lost in our children’s world.

date nights are absolutely key in keeping communication and intimacy alive without the distraction of children, but these only occur a few times a month. it’s something as simple as being “unplugged” for an hour to truly prioritize the other person: listen and be engaged in what the other has to say. currently, we do our dance of asking how each other’s day was and sharing any issues that have arisen while offering support for the other. there, done. we eat dinner, tidy up the house, and pass out on the couch while watching Netflix. (these days, it’s dexter and america’s got talent.)

my goal is to have us take the time to have more in-depth conversations – serious and not-so-serious – about anything on our minds. I know being with the kids all day, every day, I have a lot of thoughts and ideas I’d like to share with another adult (and not necessarily with my in-laws all the time). it’s interesting how alone we can feel in this big, big world, isn’t it? we all just want to be heard, and who better to share my innermost thoughts and feelings than with the person I’m married to?

like so many things, it’s a lot easier than done. take for example, this blog post. I’ve been working on publishing this post for nearly two weekstwo! every time I had time (after the kids are in bed for the night), I would start typing and then I would doze off! (I’m actually nodding off as I type this.) or, I would put it off for another day because I had other things to do like read for my book club. certainly it’s my fault for staying up so late every night even though I tell myself every day that today is the day I’ll go to bed before 11. nope.

still, I can keep trying to accomplish small goals. I can also be kinder to myself instead of beating myself up over not completing my never-ending to-do list. love yourself. love those around you.

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my family

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snow days & birthdays

2017 is already turning out to be a busy year: yet another one filled with babies, weddings, and birthdays. many of my friends and acquaintances had babies in 2015 (the year i had penny) and most of them are having their second this year. this includes my friend, and neighbor, yan, who kicked off the year with a baby boy named lucas on january 1st. he was the first 2017 baby to be born at st francis so he was featured on the news! her firstborn, olivia, is 3.5 months older than penny and now ezra’s first playmate has already arrived!

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lucas li, 1/1/2017 @ 5:18am. 6lb. 9oz.

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i’ve been spending my free time trying to get things done. my friend, grace’s shower is this upcoming sunday so i spent last night making a banner for her mickey-mouse themed shower. i’m bringing penny with me to the shower and i purchased her a minnie mouse outfit from babygap to wear to the event.

even though penny’s 2nd birthday is four months away i already finalized the details. it’s actually too early to book the venue so i need to get back in touch with them next month. also, we are close to booking our family newborn photo session. we will be going with the photographer who did penny’s session: remi kate photography

penny is also a flower girl for our friends’ wedding in april so i’ve been looking for a dress. the wedding colors are lavender, sage, and white; after browsing through some options i feel a lavender dress will look really sweet on penny for a spring wedding. since ezra is due on easter sunday (4/16) and the wedding is on 4/30 i probably will not be able to attend but i would still like to try. we shall see when baby boy arrives.

i’m looking forward to next wednesday because mommy-to-be grace and i are going to new jersey for the day to stuff our pregnant bellies. we settled on japanese food but we will probably also stop by korean bakeries, eat ice cream, and maybe squeeze some shopping in. it’ll be fun to do my own thing for an entire day.

i already feel so accomplished today because my mil came early this morning. on days that dennis works the afternoon shift, she comes after penny’s nap and on days (like today) where dennis works the morning shift she comes in the morning. while mom watched penny, i was able to…

  • take yuri out
  • shower (still a luxury)
  • do laundry
  • eat peacefully
  • prep for dinner

now that penny’s napping i’m trying to whip out this blog post so i can get a few other things out of the way before i attempt to rest.

we had about 5-6 inches of snow last saturday. it was still snowing in the evening so we didn’t take penny outdoors until sunday. after getting all bundled up and going outdoors, we only lasted about ten minutes because it was too darn cold! the temperature said 18 degrees but the weather app said “feels like 6.” at least penny had her first experience of tubing down the hill!

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our first attempt to go out: she started crying shortly after this picture. we found out her brand-new boots are too small for her! we took out the lining when we went out the second time but we will have to return the boots.

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tubing with grandma

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off we go!

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there goes daddy and penny! yuri is trying furiously to keep up.

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fun with grandpa

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like i said in previous posts, i can’t keep up with penny’s expanding vocabulary. since my last post, she’s been saying “딸기” (strawberry), 뜨거 뜨거 (hot, hot), and 추워 추워 (cold, cold). the latter two she hears us saying when the stove is on so when she pretends to cook, is about to eat hot food or the stove/fireplace is on, she says “hot, hot!” sometimes she will want to go in the sunroom and if the space heater isn’t on we will tell her it’s too cold, so now she says that as well.

yesterday she tried to say “i love you” when i said it to her as i put her down for a nap. it was more like “i lay” but she’s trying! she loves her colors and i’ve probably said this before but now she also says “brown” and “green.” “orange” is more like “jee” (that’s a tough one).

with my baby shower approaching, i keep meaning to write posts on useful baby items and toys that penny likes so i can share with other parents/future parents. i promise to write separate posts on baby items and baby toys & books this month!

fourth of july weekend

happy birthday, usa!

the us celebrated its 240th birthday on monday.  july 4, 1776 – when the united states achieved independence from the tea-sipping brits. it’s actually quite surprising how relatively young our country is (although it really has been around for many, many years). i’m proud to be raising penny in the states where it is still seen as the land of opportunity and the land of hope. the world is moving at at even faster pace with life-changing inventions and innovations. it’s an amazing time to be alive, and i can’t wait for penny to take full advantage of what life has to offer us.

with that said, i was eagerly anticipating this year’s 4th of july because we had planned a family outing to elizabeth park in hartford. the rose garden, a very popular spot for pictures and picnics, is still very much in bloom, and penny is currently loving to touch everything particularly flowers, leaves, and pine needles.

after penny’s last nap, we drove down to hartford with the in-laws to have dinner at ichiban, a korean-japanese restaurant. penny did well (for a while) sitting in the high chair because she was busy looking around to check out other people and the restaurant itself. when she got fidgety, my mil took her to look at the fish in the fish tank and that kept her preoccupied while the rest of us finished our dinner. it takes a village!

afterwards, we went to elizabeth park to walk around and take pictures. we tried to recreate a picture of dennis and his brother, dan, (when they were around 2 and 4 years old)  sitting in front of the flowers by placing penny in the same spot but she wasn’t in the mood to take pictures. we had to sing a few songs to get her attention but she didn’t really smile. oh well.

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she did, however, enjoy walking around (with our assistance) and even ran a few times. she also surprised us by standing on her own for about ten seconds or more on a few occasions. she was afraid though so we helped her sit down. xD after walking around the rose garden, we enjoyed watermelon and cantaloupe before checking out the ducks in the pond. penny started getting fussy so we knew she was tired.

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after we got home and penny was in bed, the rest of us enjoyed cake that i made for my fil’s birthday. his actual birthday is on the 8th but we decided to celebrate it early since my mil works that day until 6pm. in korean culture, the 70th birthday is a huge milestone. (it used to be 60 but since life expectancy is longer than ever before, the age changed to 70.) my fil is more of a private person and keeps to himself so he definitely didn’t want a fancy gala – he just wanted a low-key dinner with us. we are hoping dan and crystal will be able to come up from maryland this upcoming weekend to help celebrate his actual birthday together. we know it’s tough for them to take time out of their schedule to come visit (even though they wish they could!) since crystal is taking two summer classes and dan is busy with church, but we hope we see them, at least, once this summer!

*edit – dan and crystal ARE coming up this weekend~ hooray!

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a former colleague shared a recipe for blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream (from a blog) and i decided to make that. i LOVE lemon and it sounded like a perfect summer cake. it turned out even better than i had expected – the recipe is definitely a keeper! i hope you enjoy it as much as we did 🙂

 

busy, busy, busy!

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney Co.

penny is so alert and curious these days. as she becomes more and more aware of the world, she just wants to be in the moment, exploring and experiencing… it’s hard for babies around this age to relax their minds before naps/bedtime hence the infamous 8~10 month sleep regression.

i believe we’ve slowly been going through it for the past two weeks. usually 1 out of 2 naps have been affected – 45 minutes or less. sometimes she wakes up happy and is chattering away whereas others she wakes up, crying because she’s tired. for the past two and a half months, penny’s awake time had been 2/3/4 but her awake time has slowly increased as she’s getting older. part of the reason her naps are all over the place is because she wants to be up and playing; she’s having difficulty putting her brain on pause. another reason is that we are still trying to figure out her awake time. sometimes she’s overtired and other times she’s undertired.

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playing with the mobile this morning. we have to lower the crib bottom!


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trying to stand on her own!

right now, for instance, she’s still on her first nap and it’s almost 11am! she woke up at 7am today (having slept 12 hours straight last night) and went down for her first nap around 10. it seems like her schedule is 3/3.5/4 now but we are still tweaking it because usually her first nap has been great while the second one suffers. it’s more important that the second one is longer for two reasons: 1) this is the nap babies keep when they transition down to one nap usually around 14~18 months, and 2) the awake time from the second nap to bedtime is the longest so they need to be well-rested for that.

well, yesterday, penny had a half-hour nap for the second one and she still stayed up for 4 hours before bedtime..without a meltdown, but perhaps we were lucky. she’s still been sleeping 11 hours straight every night, and last night she slept 12 hours, maybe, because of her short last nap. i’m hoping her night sleep doesn’t get interrupted, but it may once she really starts crawling and standing up. she’s been trying to do both (even in the bathtub!), and has been crawling forward a little. it’s not full-on crawling but she will go forward a few steps and fall back on her tummy, get back up, fall down, and repeat.

in order for penny to sleep well, we’ve been bringing her up to the nursery to wind down before her naps. about a half hour before we want her to sleep, we go upstairs to her room with her bottle. we have only table lamp on so it’s dim in the room and we also have the white noise on. we’ve also been using the boppy lounger (and a pillow) to give her her bottle so she can relax and play with toys while we feed her. she’s so easily distracted so we have to have a bunch of objects nearby for her to play with otherwise she’ll push the bottle out of her mouth. after she’s done with the bottle, we might read a few books, check her diaper and then put her in the sleep sack. then, she’ll take anywhere from 5~15 minutes to pass out. it’s a hit-or-miss lately but mostly because we’ve been trying to figure out a good time to put her down. (a few days ago she played for an hour in her crib before finally falling asleep!)

penny is also talking! her first word was 맘마, or mam-ma which means “food” in korean. she says this when she’s really hungry and impatient! she also says 엄마, or umma (mom) 아빠, or abba (dad)! when we say 도리도리 (do-ri, do-ri) she shakes her head back and forth. she also recently learned how to turn on the tv -_- we don’t let her watch tv but she plays with the remote sometimes so she’s figured it out. she will press the red button and look up at the tv to watch it turn on…

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penny trying to knock down the camera -_-

i guess we scored with penny’s first nap today because she’s still sleeping. i hate waking her up but i’m going to have to in 5 minutes to preserve her afternoon nap. hoping she gets two good naps in today. i’ll have to update later this afternoon.

3:23pm ~

penny finally went down for her afternoon nap. it took her 25 minutes because she kept fighting it and managed to knock over the camera again; i had to go in there to place it on the higher part of the crib. we’ll see what time she wakes up…

we had gotten back from a home goods outing with my mil and we met up with genie and olivia there. there are so many adorable things there that it’s incredibly difficult to hold back from buying out the whole store. both olivia and penny were chatting up a storm and snacking the entire time. 🙂

here’s a quick recap of some of the activities that the so family has been up to since the last post!

we had a play date with dana and avery two weeks ago. they also brought seollung-tang (설렁탕), or ox bone broth, from new jersey for lunch!

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penny & avery


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penny (9 months) & avery (14 months)

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avery chilling with yuri while the mommies eat

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we also had a play date with genie and olivia the next day! dennis stopped by after work to hang out and brought penny for bedtime routine while genie and i crafted.

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at least, 3 out of 4 are looking at the camera

notice the matching outfits? totally unplanned 😀

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olivia will be 11 months this week and probably walking before her first birthday, haha

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she really liked the piano!


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dinner time!


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winston (the dog) keeping us company


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creating artwork for alice & john’s upcoming baby shower

family swim day ~~

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love her expression here!

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getting ready to go home


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collage made on dennis’ phone


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she loves to “read” this book

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fun with bubbles!

this past sunday, i went to my friend abby’s baby shower. it’s always nice to get out of the house without a baby…

abby is expecting a girl on 4/19 – another gal pal for penny 🙂

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the favors included crocheted flower bookmarks handmade by abby’s mil’s sister

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bridget (standing) toasting her sister, abby (black tank)


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yes, the walking dead!


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great view

and finally, my outfit to the shower, hehe.. before i was pregnant with penny, i had a fashion blog on tumblr but now it’s all about penny on wordpress. i try to do fashion and lifestyle-related posts but they all take a backseat next to the baby. so, i’m trying to squeeze one in here.

about a month ago, i purchased a light gray coat from h&m but hadn’t had the chance to wear it yet due to the weather. this past weekend was in the 50s so i finally was able to wear it!

since i normally wear neutrals, i thought it’d be fun to add a splash of color with my lilac skinny jeans from j.crew. it’s march now so hopefully spring-like weather will keep occurring.

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update on penny’s nap: she woke up after a half hour, crying…. bahh.. she’s in the playroom with grandma so off i go to join them.