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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happy birthday, america.. and grandpa so

summer days are flying by. the weather has finally been appropriate swim & tan weather though sadly i have yet to do either. (i do have awkward tan lines on my feet from favoring my mossimo sandals from target so i need to switch up my footwear.)

speaking of target, i recently purchased adorable cat & jack sandals for penny and strappy flats for myself. i snapped a shoefie (selfie + shoes) of our feet and posted it on instagram. to my surprise, target asked to share the image and, of course, i agreed! the image was shared on their ‘awesome shop’ page.

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the chosen image

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another shot of our feet

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feature on target’s ‘awesome shop’ page

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another look

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stamping at coventry library

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the location where i took the feet photos

fyi cat & jack shoes run big. i ordered a size 6 for penny and they were falling off her feet. i returned them for a size 5 and they fit perfectly.

june 29th was my 4th wedding anniversary. hard to believe it has only been four years. and in those four years, we already have two children! we waited until saturday, july 1st, to celebrate… and by celebrate, we went out to eat dinner and came straight home. it was already 10pm by the time we left the restaurant so there wasn’t much to do afterwards anyway.

i have slowly been planning for ezra’s 100th day party which is on july 22nd. s l o w l y. i browse pinterest for ideas but none have really caught my eye. granted the 100th day celebration is not as important as the first birthday but i do want to settle on a theme so i can get started on decorations.

the party is going to be held at our home and weather permitting we will have lawn games and water play outdoors. our back yard connects to a huge field that is part of an elementary school so we plan on setting up a badminton net back there along with cornhole, horseshoes, and other activities.

there are a lot of summer birthdays between dennis’ family and mine. my brother (6/15), my dad (6/25), my fil (7/8), my sil (7/25), and my sister (8/6). we went up to massachusetts the last weekend of june to celebrate my dad’s birthday. penny had so much fun with the water hose that i ended up purchasing a melissa & doug sprinkler attachment from tj maxx to use at home. we also purchased a 5-in-1 game set that includes badminton. i hadn’t played in years and i regaled dennis and my sister with a memorable account of when my friend and i beat all the other teams at badminton during p.e. class in high school.

ezra is 2.5 months and he’s already wearing size 6 month clothes! it seems like a waste of money to buy more summer clothes when fall will be here in a few months but the 3-month bodysuits are tight on him. as it is ezra was only able to wear his size 3-month shorts once (the elastic waistband is too tight).

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tolerating tummy time

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yogurt

she LOVES the korean yogurt drinks

playdate with olivia g.

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both girls were tentative about going in the sprinkler

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they enjoyed the water table more

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snacks

time to hydrate

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daddy brought ice cream home 

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trying on her new shades

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looking cool, ez

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these three

these days ezra is the easy one… he eats and sleeps well. ezra is on a great schedule and is continuing to only wake up once at night typically around 4-5am. i used to worry that he was sleeping too much during the day but i leave him alone because he will wake up when he’s hungry. his day sleep hasn’t affected his night sleep at all. additionally, he’s going through a lot of developmental leaps and growth spurts so some days he’ll be extra sleepy.

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ezra’s not a big fan of tummy time but he tolerates it on the boppy lounger

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ezra laughed out loud for the first time shortly after this picture was taken

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arts & crafts

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painting the american flag

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i made the star stamp on the spot: cut out a star on felt and used a glue gun to glue it onto a dowel

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penny’s still going through her 2-year sleep regression with who knows what else? although three of her canines have broken through they are taking their sweet time growing in. i don’t believe the fourth one has broken through yet.

we solved her fear of the dark by buying a night light that either glows blue or green. it really comforts her. we also leave the camera night light on and turn it off when she’s asleep. the evening that we returned from massachusetts, penny started crying hysterically at bedtime. i went to her room three times to comfort her and even left the camera light on (which had worked previously) but she still kept crying. finally, i looked online for advice and read that some parents left the hallway light on while leaving the child’s bedroom door ajar. it worked. penny stopped crying right away, played for a little bit, and fell asleep. now that we have the night light, we don’t have to keep the hallway light on.

although penny had been getting better with ezra being around, her bouts of jealousy have since returned. coupled with being hangry and tired from waking up at night, she’s just a hot mess lately. she’s actually fine when i am with ezra; penny goes ballistic when grandma suddenly tends to ezra when she had been playing with her.

and the ‘stranger danger’ issue continues. even with people she knows. on sunday, genie and olivia came over for a morning play date, and penny pinched me so hard from being nervous that she left a bruise on my thigh. she also scratched her own cheek from flipping out and her nail broke through her skin! we don’t know what else to do other than keep telling her that it’s okay and attempt to calm and soothe her. we even let her know in advance that friends are coming over so it won’t be a surprise. i just hope her fear subsides soon. it makes me sad to see her so genuinely nervous and scared, but it also frustrates me because there’s not much we can do to make her feel better.

dennis’ brother, dan, and his wife, crystal, arrived late sunday night and are leaving around noon today. we celebrated the 4th of july with a family cookout and an early birthday celebration for grandpa so. penny was a nervous wreck and uncle dan and aunt crystal came to visit monday afternoon. she was loads better on tuesday morning when they came to hang out for the entire day.

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playing with her ‘new’ toy, a vacuum. i purchased it for $5 off of facebook marketplace

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munching on goldfish crackers while watching sesame street

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finishing up breakfast in the sunroom

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love this impromptu photo shoot

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time to eat~

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pinterest-inspired fruit & pretzel platter

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kebabs & corn

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playing with aunt crystal

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yay, we got a group photo

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i was trying to capture dennis and uncle dan playing football but penny steals the show

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purposely looking away

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happy birthday, grandpa so!

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it’s always great when the kids go down for the night as we can all catch up and relax. last night, we were deciding on what movie to watch and settled on a netflix original ‘okja.’ it’s a korean film by famed director, bong joon-ho, about a young girl who goes through great lengths to save her pet super pig from a fate in the slaughterhouse.

we likely will not be able to see dan and crystal again until thanksgiving. even that will be tricky though because i do want to go up to massachusetts to celebrate with my family since we have not gone the past two years. we will just have to see what happens then. we all enjoyed the movie, and were moved, and disturbed, by the ongoing, inhumane actions of the meat industry. although some scenes were heartbreaking i’m not quite sure i’d be able to give up pork because i love it so much.

since i wasn’t able to write about, or acknowledge, grandpa lee’s birthday i will do that for my next post.

milestones

in my last post, the tone and mood was that of despair and frustration. one of the hardest things a first-time mom can experience is breastfeeding. we hear how wonderful and natural it is, but don’t realize how painful and difficult it can actually be until we have a baby of our own.

so much has changed since that fateful entry. to ease the suffering and quicken up the healing process i took a break from breastfeeding – this lasted from sunday evening to early friday morning. in the meantime, i pumped and penny was bottle-fed. during this short period of time, i was happier than i had been since penny was born! it really goes to show how much of a toll breastfeeding had taken on me. “my girls” were also able to heal effectively and i slept much better at night (without pain, i might add).

also during this time, penny began consuming 4 oz. of breast milk. i could never tell how much she ate when i breast fed her but i was able to see that she was eating more (up from 3 oz.) initially, i was worried because i thought she may be overeating. the downsides of bottle feeding is that babies can overeat since the flow is faster from the bottle than from the breast, and the milk can pour down their throat. we try to fill the nipple halfway with milk (per the lactation consultant) to mimic breastfeeding. a sign of overeating is spit-up.  babies tend to spit up after feedings, but copious amounts can signal that a baby ate too much. penny has also been really gassy lately (another downside of bottle feeding) even though we give her gas drops and hold her upright for at least 15 minutes after feedings. still, we have seen improvement and her appetite is as strong as ever.

currently, penny is 5 weeks and at her 1 month check-up she weighed 9 lb. 11 oz! She most likely has surpassed the 10 pound mark by now.

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this boppy lounger has resulted in less spit-ups because she isn’t laying flat on her back. i know that babies aren’t supposed to sleep on them for safety reasons but she is usually about 4~5 feet away from me and we constantly watch her like a hawk.

as for breastfeeding, i decided in the wee hours of friday morning that i would give it another go. i eased into it using a nipple shield and was extremely relieved that it didn’t hurt as much as before. it was still sore afterwards but there wasn’t any excruciating pain, and there hasn’t been since. now, i’ve been using a shield every time because it’s much easier for penny to latch (saves me the pain too!) using a shield can cause discomfort for the baby because they take in more air when breastfeeding. this just means i have to be more vigilant about burping her often.

penny has been fighting sleep lately so i’m still very much sleep-deprived but i am absolutely grateful to be free of pain from breastfeeding. i honestly thought i would have to give up breastfeeding. there’s nothing wrong with bottle feeding (we still give her the occasional bottle to give me a break) but i don’t like the hassle of having to warm up a bottle and pumping constantly to have the supply ready. i still pump so i can add to my stash for when i return to work, but less frequently than before. really, there are upsides and downsides to both bf and bottle-feeding; i’m just happy to have the option of doing both again.

another milestone that penny has reached is that she social smiles! newborns smile in their early days but it’s really a reflex and not a genuine smile. however, we noticed that penny has been truly smiling since about week 3. we can see the expression in her eyes and her smiles are a response to ours. she also smiles a lot while bf when she’s half asleep. a few times, i have heard her laugh and my heart swelled.

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i caught her smiling in her sleep!

penny has also begun focusing more on objects. in her pack ‘n play, there are 3 plush stars that hang down and she tends to look at them when she’s laying down in it. she also took notice of the chandelier in her room early this morning when i was putting her down for a nap. as i walked around, her gaze kept following the chandelier. a few hours later, i was holding her in the sun room and her attention was on the ceiling fan; so, i turned it on for her so she could see it in motion.

she has also been more alert (as noted by the decrease in naps). she still needs to nap frequently since she’s still a newborn but when she is awake, she’s more active lately. i take advantage of that by playing with her. as soon as i see her giving me cues that she’s tired (i.e eyes slowly closing, rubbing eyes, less focused) i stop play immediately and start putting her down for a nap – this is usually me rocking her while playing white noise in the background. lately, i’ve also swaddled her and held her to encourage sleep.

yesterday was father’s day and i made sure the first one was special for dennis. i ordered a onesie from etsy for penny to wear. unfortunately, dennis was already on his way to work when i was changing penny so i just took a pic of her and sent it to him. i think it made his work day that much better!

isn't it cute?

isn’t it cute?

we received two handprint kits as gifts, and dennis and i had made imprints of penny’s hand and feet about a week ago. without his knowledge, i painted the handprint one and wrote a message on it for father’s day.

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it was tough pressing her little hand into the mold since she has her hands clenched into fists most of the time. this was the best we could do!

another gift i made for dennis was 3 portraits of penny holding up letters to spell ‘dad’.

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i did everything myself on saturday. she was in a good mood after a feeding so i quickly put a headband on her and arranged the letters.

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dennis' reaction

dennis’ reaction

the last milestone has to do with our dog, yuri. saturday, 6/20, was her fifth birthday and we wanted to make sure we didn’t forget it.. especially since all the attention we used to lavish on her has gone over to the baby… it’s obvious that yuri is more despondent and needy lately. she follows me around everywhere even when i’m feeding penny (although late at night, she stays in bed with dennis).

yuri with her scrumptious dinner

yuri with her scrumptious dinner

we used to get her special treats and a cake from a dog bakery but she doesn’t really like them. she’s more of a meat girl.

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lastly, this is what we had for dinner last night! dennis’ parents came over, and my mil made bibimbap for us. it’s a korean dish with a variety of vegetables mixed with white rice and sweet chili paste. it’s also great topped with a fried egg. we didn’t have a gift for my fil but we are going to present one to him later on today. we got him a really nice bicycle. since he’s been retired, he’s been mostly homebound save for the occasional bike ride. we hope that this will encourage him to get outdoors more often 🙂

speaking of outdoors, today is dennis’ day off and we are going to meet up with the gardners later on. the boys plan to go bike-riding at west hartford reservoir while the girls take a stroll either at the same place or blue back square, a shopping plaza. we’re really on our babies’ schedules so hopefully we can work this out!