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!

happy holidays

i had my 24-week checkup this morning. it was brief and everything went well. i’ve been keeping track of my weight gain like i did for penny, and i’ve gained 6.3 lb. so far. at this point with penny, i had gained 10.7 lb. and 18 lb. overall, right up until penny was born. i thought i would gain more during my second pregnancy but it’s not over yet so we will see how big this little boy grows.

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the ob measured my fundus (part of the uterus) to determine growth rate. it measured at 23cm which is fine because i’m at week 24. you want the measurements to be around the same as the number of weeks you’re pregnant, so i’m about a week behind which is still great. i have a long torso so i know the baby has a lot of room in there. this is also the reason why i haven’t shown until about a few weeks ago.

my next appointment will be the 28-week checkup where i have to take a glucose test to check for gestational diabetes. i’m not worried about this one at all since my blood pressure is excellent and my weight gain has been minimal. plus, i was fine with penny. the only annoying thing is drinking this sugary orange drink in under 5 minutes.

with that said, these weeks are flying by; much more faster than when i was pregnant with penny. my friend and neighbor, yan, is expecting her second (also a boy!) on january 12th but she said she is already 4cm dilated so the baby could come any day now. it’s exciting and comforting to be going through my second pregnancy with friends who are also expecting their second around the same time. now we have to learn how to adjust to taking care of a newborn while also having a rambunctious toddler around. i’m eager to receive valuable tips from friends that are due before me, but i’m also grateful knowing that i will have lots of help from family members as well.

it was a busy christmas this year: we traveled to boston to celebrate with my family and then came back christmas eve so we could go to church on christmas morning. penny got baptized along with our friends’ son, ethan, and then we opened gifts in the early evening with dennis’ parents.

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homemade meal upon our arrival!

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penny’s baptism

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opening gifts

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she also received another baby doll for christmas (from my mom). this one i picked out: baby says “mama” when you squeeze her hand and she sucks on the magnetic pacifier when you place it on her mouth. penny knows how to do both.

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i forgot i bought her two wooden puzzles and a pizza kit so i gave them to her the following day

to top it off, i won fantasy football this year! i limped into the playoffs as the #8 seed (out of 12) and basically had no hope of even advancing into the next round. my first and second picks this year were rob gronkowski and dez bryant – both were huge disappointments this year although dez sealed the win for me in the end with a great game. most of my lineup were waiver wire pickups as well so it was amazing how i came back to win it all. this is my first victory after having been a runner-up a few times (most recently, last year) so i feel even more triumphant.

it has been hard to keep track of all the of the things penny has been learning because it’s at such a faster pace now. she’s saying more and more words. a few weeks ago she had added 뽀뽀 (kiss), 멍멍 (puppy), ball, wow, and 이모 (aunt) to her vocabulary, and most recently she has added “no more”, “one more”, “all done” (she only used to gesture), and 지지 (dirty). she is also sorting her colors by putting matching colors together. as one of her christmas gifts, i got her do-a-dot markers and she likes to screw the caps back on to the markers by herself. she correctly places the matching colored cap on the marker and twists it on! during bath time, she also places the colorful dolphin toys into their matching colored tubes.

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new straw cup

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braving the cold to get some fresh air!

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on my way home from my ob appointment today, a house had free toys set out on the curb so i took a coffee maker and this big rig auto transport.

penny’s top molars have broken through! i only noticed them a few days ago when i was changing her diaper and she was yelling/talking. currently she has 5 teeth but her top lateral incisors have been trying to poke their way through for almost a month now! she is a very slow teether. xD at 19 months it looks like she will soon have 9 teeth; but it seems that she’ll be closer to 20 months by the time they fully come in.

i can’t believe it’ll already be 2017 (year of the rooster) in a few short days. i’m excited to see what the new year brings (besides a baby boy!

  • i plan on adding more photos (52 total!) little by little. i just really want to post this entry before penny’s nap is up and the pictures take forever!

 

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 🙂

 

weekend in boston

dennis and i arrived safely back from aruba last wednesday night around 10:30pm. we had thursday to relax at home.. and then we drove up to boston friday morning and stayed at my parents’ house until sunday evening.

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the above photos are soon after we arrived at my parents’ house. penny had lunch and then we went outside for a walk. she LOVES going outside.. sometimes she throws a tantrum when we come back in -_-

lately all she wants to do is walk and she’s getting better at it every day. we purchased her sneakers recently too to help encourage her walking 🙂

our main reason for visiting massachusetts was to see my grandmother who is recovering from a recent spinal surgery. being 95 years old, she has brittle bones so even just moving a certain way can cause those fragile bones to fracture. she’s in a rehabilitation home for the time being and we really want penny to see my grandma as much as possible because, honestly, who knows how much time we all really have..?

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she loves playing with the selfie stick

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remarking over penny’s feet and sneakers

my grandma was so surprised to see us! we made her very happy, and we are thrilled that we were able to see her too. we came back to visit her the next evening and she was, again, surprised to see us because she thought we had already gone back home.

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she was thankful to eat korean food for dinner two nights in a row

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penny did not like being held!

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my grandma was shocked at how strong penny is…

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avery & penny

hopefully we can arrange more play dates (and parent dates) with our friends in boston too. we met up with a group of friends for lunch on saturday, and it was chaotic with 3 little girls. olivia k. was napping so we couldn’t get in a picture of all 3 of them.

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bringing the walker along helped save our backs!

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one of her favorite things to do is point.. at everything!

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cute little bunny in the backyard on sunday morning

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penny pretending to mow the lawn like aunt jen!

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on our way to the ice cream shop!

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penny loved her vanilla soft serve!

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she signed for “milk” after we came home

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eating dinner at my parents’ restaurant in boston before we head home

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an employee gave her a $20 bill…

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it’s tough because dennis works every other weekend and some of those weekends are already accounted for, such as weddings and other events.. but we are definitely going to go up again this summer to spend more time with my parents, siblings, and grandma. summer in boston should be a lot of fun!

after we got back from aruba, we barely had time to unwind. we spent most of the day at home on thursday but we decided to buy penny her first pair of walking sneakers so we went to the mall and met up with the gardners.

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trying out see kai run sneakers

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ended up getting nikes

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they look miserable but they had fun!

we wanted to purchase stride rite sneakers after hearing great feedback from many people but found out that nordstrom is slowly phasing them out in favor of their own brand: see kai run. this is also a highly rated brand as well. after trying on toms, see kai run, and nike free we ended up getting penny the nike sneakers because the soles were lighter and had more cushion. i still want to get her see kai run and stride rite too but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. the nike ones were $48! :-O

the aruba trip was amazing… i’ll have to write a post on that destination wedding/vacation alone! i can’t wait to share all of the pictures. as always, it was awesome to get a break away from penny because we got to sleep in and do what we wanted to do.. but, of course, we missed her… and it was also nice coming back home.

 

happy (?) 4 months

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i had a rough first month of motherhood – latching issues, nipple pain, and an oversupply of milk leading to mastitis. i kept hearing “it gets better” and “the first month is the hardest.” well, i’m four months in and i find that every month brings with it a new set of challenges.

penny is 4 months old as of yesterday. with each passing day, i still get amazed at how much she’s learning. for the past few weeks, penny has been laughing out loud, observing everything more intently, and looking around to see where dennis and i are. she has also been trying to roll from back to tummy but hasn’t been successful yet. she uses her legs – they are so strong! – to lift her back up and teeters back and forth before landing on her back again. i’ve been encouraging her by laying toys on either side for her to look at. i also slowly roll her onto her side so she can fall onto her stomach via gravity.

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a very happy baby

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staring at the mobile over her crib

penny has been going through the 4-month sleep regression for the past two weeks. it started off slowly with penny making random night wakings instead of the usual 2-3am. then, she started to wake up at midnight, then 11:30, and 9:30, and two nights ago at 6:40 – thirty minutes after she went down (kicking and screaming, of course). we knew she was exhausted because she had skipped her last nap and had been awake since 2:30pm. but, she was also hungry. for the past few weeks, penny’s been way too distracted during the daytime to nurse longer than 7 minutes so i’ve been having to bottle-feed and pump so she can look around and still get her daytime calories in. since i’m usually alone with her most of the day this is not an easy feat.

babies go through the so-called “sleep regression” around this time because their sleep cycle is beginning to mature and mimic that of an adult’s. babies have difficulty transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next and may wake up early from naps or repeatedly during the night because they don’t know how to fall back asleep on their own. so, they look for us to help them. monday night, at least, penny woke up because she was hungry and ended up falling asleep while dennis bottle-fed her. she slept for the next (almost) 9 hours and woke up at 3:30, nursed, fell asleep and woke up around 7. last night she woke up at 2:30 and i sat outside her door for 20 minutes to see if she would fall back asleep on her own. i ended up going in because it seemed like she was hungry (her cries were slowly increasing in volume and intensity.)

during this time, babies are also dropping their last nap – they go from 4 to 3. there still have been days where penny is taking 4 naps but she recently has been refusing the last one so we’ve been trying to put her to bed sooner than the usual 6:30-7pm if her last nap ends in early afternoon; otherwise her awake time from her last nap until bedtime would be 3+ hours = overtired, cranky baby. contrary to popular belief, babies won’t wake up sooner because you put them down sooner. sleep begets sleep so the more quality naps your baby takes, the better she’ll sleep at night. penny has been taking 1 short nap in the morning, then a long 2-3 hour nap, and then another short nap before bedtime.

with the sleep regression, we don’t know when she’ll wake up so i’m always fearfully staring at the monitor. she has been crying out and flopping her legs around at random times during the night but falls back asleep usually – whew. hoping this all subsides soon because then we have teething to look forward to.. AND she’s getting her 4-month vaccines on friday.. :*(

we’ve had a busy weekend. after meeting with my ob last week for an annual check-up, he advised me to go out more with and without penny so i can socialize and not go stir-crazy. i got really emotional when i shared what i’ve been feeling and being at home all day with a baby and a dog. i feel more and more confident the more i take penny out so i need to keep doing it.

friday night was a short date night. dennis and i put penny down for the night and went to go eat dinner at barcelona in west hartford. i was falling asleep on the way there! although penny was on my mind the entire time, i still enjoyed having a nice dinner with dennis. 🙂

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on saturday, i met up with genie and mouy and their little ones at the mall. we ended up buying baby clothes from babygap and not a thing for ourselves, but we are going to schedule a shopping trip for US soon.

as mouy said it

as mouy said it “we roll 3 strollers deep.”

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i brought penny to church again last sunday. i was a little late because i waited for penny to wake up from her nap. she was in a great mood until we got to church… for one thing, she needed a diaper change, and she was also hungry. but my mil was excited that she came and whisked her off to see her friends despite me warning her that penny would cry. and cry she did! it must’ve been overwhelming to have 15 (i kid you not) jibber-jabbering middle-aged women sticking their faces in the stroller to look at you.

my mil meant well: she was just excited.. but next time, feed and a diaper change first because after i did both penny was in a much better mood and even let others (some whom she’d met for the first time) hold her. this is AFTER i was forced to nurse her in a supply closet because all the rooms, and the nursery, were occupied…

about to leave for church

about to leave for church

ben & olivia

ben & olivia

my friends, the gardners, came to church too. there was bibimbap for lunch that day and olivia is looking at the omelets being made. 🙂

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we celebrated my mil’s birthday that evening at our house with korean food and a cake. dennis bought this hazelnut cake from a ukrainian bakery near where he works.

happy 65th birthday :)

happy 65th birthday 🙂

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playing with penny before her bedtime

playing with penny before her bedtime

before i go, here are some pictures from penny’s 4-month “photo shoot.” i have a lot more but let’s not get too carried away…

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dennis thinks it looks like she’s waving ^^

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she loves putting her fist in her mouth

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yuri wanted to be with her

yuri wanted to be with her