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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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!

6-month growth spurt

when is there not a growth spurt? babies grow so much, developmentally and physically, during the first year that it seems like they’re on a never-ending growth spurt. while this is true, there are common growth spurt times for most babies and 6 months is one of them.

a lot happens at 6 months. babies are starting to master skills such as rolling both ways and sitting up unassisted, if they haven’t already done so in previous months. this is also the month where many babies start solids for the first time – a huge adventure in itself! – because of stronger neck control and ability to sit on own or with little help.

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after she wakes up, i always help her sit up to practice

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she recently started rolling over from her back to belly

she recently started rolling over from her back to belly

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practicing rolling

often times growth spurts and leaps coincide making this time even more challenging. penny’s current leap ends in about a week so i’m really looking forward to that. penny is still such a happy baby when she’s awake but has serious mood swings during her leaps so we try our best to accommodate her and switch activities when she shows signs of agitation.

big smile!

big smile!

yesterday was a rough day. penny’s wake-up time used to be consistent but ever since her current leap she’s been waking up anywhere between 6-8am. this all depends how long she’d been up during her night feedings. for instance, yesterday i had put penny down for her last nap. i felt a cough coming on so i tried to quickly leave the nursery with yuri but i didn’t make it out in time. i coughed ONCE and her eyes flew open. i rocked her for 40 minutes trying to get her to fall asleep again!!!! i was so upset at myself and worried over penny’s awake time that i put her down in the crib and started bawling. everything is so much harder when you’re alone because you can’t tag-team. thankfully, my mil came over with homemade 김치찌게 and helped with penny’s bedtime routine.

i can only imagine how exhausting it must be for penny who is still trying to adjust to this big, big world. it’s obvious she’s tired but keeps waking up early from naps and bedtime due to her brain constantly whirring with all the new things she’s been learning. but it’s also incredibly hard to remember all this when you’re trying to take care of a baby (and a dog) while trying to pump, eat, and tackle some household tasks in a zombified state.

today, on the other hand, penny slept a lot during the day. her first nap was 1.5 hours, her second was the usual 30-minute, and her last was 3 hours! right now dennis is feeding her and putting her down for bed. here’s hoping she sleeps well tonight. *fingers crossed*

something i hadn’t mentioned in previous posts is that we had decided to start penny on solids a few days after 5 months. she had been showing great interest in food and would stop playing to watch me eat. we decided to start her on avocado and see how she did. i mashed a very ripe avocado and mixed in breast milk to make it more watery. we fed her, maybe, a half-teaspoon total the first time. she grimaced as if she didn’t like it… she wasn’t used to the texture. she did open her mouth a few times when we held her spoon up. we tried it out for two more days and stopped. not because she wasn’t taking to it but i decided to wait until she was, at least, 6 months.

a website i refer to often is http://www.kellymom.com. it’s a pro-breastfeeding website but also offers insight and support on many topics such as growth spurts, solids, and pumping. i have done a lot of research on when to start solids and many up-do-date sources recommend the minimum age of 6 months. the nurse at our pediatrician’s office gave us the go-ahead at penny’s 4-month check-up but we waited until 5 months. she also suggested rice cereal to start out and make her more full. (i actually think this is outdated advice – rice cereal does not make babies sleep longer at night and it also does not have any nutritional value which is why we opted to start with avocado instead.)

breaking in her new chair!

breaking in her new chair!

recently we purchased an inglesina chair to get ready for penny to start solids again. it was a request item that was languishing on our baby registry so we bought it ourselves. we like that it’s portable because it attaches to the edge of a table. to get penny used to it, we have her sit in it once in a while while we eat or do the dishes. it also helps her sit upright and she keeps herself preoccupied with toys or observing us.

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on a recent trip to target, i purchased a darth vader bubble container. i’ve been trying to think of more activities to do with penny and have been meaning to get bubbles. turns out, she LOVES bubbles! she is so fascinated when i pull out the red bubble wand and blow ~~ magically all these shimmering bubbles fly out. she tries to grab them so i catch a few on the wand for her to observe and pop.

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i’ve noticed that penny is very hands-on. she loves to feel different textures and fabrics especially things that are soft and fuzzy.  (i.e couch cushions, blankets, clothes)

speaking of soft and fuzzy, we put penny in a bear suit before going out on walks to keep her warm. it still hasn’t been nearly as cold as it usually is in november but the nights have begun to have a bit of a bite.

just before our evening stroll tonight

just before our evening stroll tonight

today was day 6 of penny’s growth spurt. it normally lasts about a week (on the long side) so i’m hoping it ends soon. i noticed that her footed pj bottoms are already getting a little tight on her! her 6-month check-up is on the 23rd so i’m excited to find out how much she weighs and how
much she’s grown in length. not thrilled about the vaccines because i hate seeing her cry but if it’s like last time,the tears will only last a few seconds.