freedom

after 13 months, my breastfeeding journey has come to an end! i used the last bag of frozen breast milk two days ago and i haven’t pumped to actually get milk since tuesday morning. i did pump for a few minutes yesterday to relieve some discomfort but haven’t since. no more pumping while eating; no more pumping during penny’s naps; no more setting the alarm so i can pump before penny wakes up for the day; no more lugging the pump (and the milk ) to and from vacations; no more pumping in random bathrooms, hotel rooms, other people’s homes, and airplanes.. no more!!!

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last bag!

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newark airport in new jersey recently acquired these pods for nursing and pumping moms!

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pumping before our flight to aruba!

before penny was born, i set my goal of exclusively breastfeeding at one year not realizing how difficult it would be. for those of you that have been following my blog since penny’s birth, you’ll recall the trauma my body endured and the many tears that were shed. i went through severe nipple damage, made multiple visits to the lactation consultant, had a tongue tie procedure for penny to help with her latch, suffered through two bouts of mastitis, had a drastic supply drop around 3.5 months due to taking mucinex for my cough (and then pumped every 2 hours for days to bring the supply back up), began exclusively pumping around the sixth month due to distracted nursing, went through three different pumps, suffered from acid reflux and allergies because i didn’t want to take medication for fear of it affecting my supply, and also had countless clogged ducts.

even during every “setback”, i still would not consider formula. dennis bought a few cans just in case but we never touched them. i understand breastfeeding is not for everyone particularly when moms have to return to work but it was a choice that i made, and i truly wanted to stick by it. i did start supplementing with hemp milk around 10.5 months because i wanted to start the weaning process as i was so tired of pumping. thankfully, penny loves hemp milk and has no allergic reactions to it.

if i haven’t mentioned it before, the reason why i chose hemp milk is for political, personal, and environmental reasons. i don’t drink cow’s milk because of lactose intolerance and personal preference but i didn’t want those to be the reasons for penny. the main reasons for her were because i’m not a fan of the dairy industry nor the carbon footprint it leaves behind. humans are the only species to continue drinking milk after infancy, and they’re the only ones to drink milk from another species. plus, it takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of cow’s milk! after doing more research i found that almond milk actually uses more water than cow’s milk so now i’m considering switching over to hemp milk too. of all the milk and milk alternatives, hemp milk is the most environmentally-friendly.. and it tastes great too! the only downside is that it’s expensive: it costs $4 to get a quart of hemp milk!

at penny’s 12-month checkup we got our pediatrician’s approval to give her hemp milk but was told that she needs to limit her milk intake to 16 oz. max daily once she fully transitions. she loves milk so much but it’s important that she eats a variety of food for nutrition and growth. she’s going through a picky stage right now so i give her smoothies to provide fruits and veggies in an alternative way. today is actually her first day fully being on hemp milk so i’m not going to obsess her going over 16 oz. for a week or two.. i’ll see how it goes.

just before i started this post, i finished washing all of my pump parts and got sad about putting them away. that was 13 months of my life right there.. i eagerly looked forward to not pumping anymore and now i’m wistful about it! but, i really am ecstatic that i don’t have to do it anymore… that is, until the next baby comes!

baby food

penny loves food!

we had a bit of a rough start at 5 months but she wasn’t ready for solids then. and her first food was avocado which is a hit-or-miss because of its texture. since she didn’t take too well with solids we opted to wait until she was 6 months to try again.

she was more curious and receptive this time. before we reintroduced solids, i would have penny sit in her inglesina chair and play with a spoon to have her get used to mealtimes. some babies really hate being spoonfed but penny loves it. she also likes to feed herself and i put a little yogurt on the spoon and have her try it out.

she loves food so much that she yells with impatience sometimes when we don’t feed her fast enough! recently, she began saying, “맘마!” (or, mam-ma) which is a cute korean term for saying “food.”

she also makes noises and flails her hands when she wants water from her sippy cup.

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nuk sippy cup 

i’m glad she takes well to a sippy cup but she isn’t drinking on her own yet. she’ll hold the handles and lift the cup up to her mouth but doesn’t yet know that she has to tilt her head back to help get the water out.

since she likes to feed herself, we also give her a variety of crackers and yogurt melts to munch on as 간식, or snack.

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we get the happybaby brand but they’re all similar

penny initially didn’t like the yogurt melts because the freeze-dried snacks have a distinct texture. i tried them and when they brush against my teeth, i get a small shiver like i’d get from nails on a chalkboard. i’m sure my analogy really doesn’t help the case for the yogurt snacks but they are good!

here are some other snacks that penny likes to eat on her own:

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she used to LOVE the puffs (and the star shape makes it easy for babies to pick them up) but ever since she began snacking on lil crunchies and the teething wafers, she doesn’t like the puffs as much anymore. she’ll eat them if you place them in her mouth but she won’t pick them up on her own usually.

the lil crunchies and the wafers, she’ll grab without hesitation and stick them in her mouth! the wafers are big so i break them up into smaller pieces.

here’s a comprehensive list of all the foods penny has tried so far:

fruits

  • pears (anjou and korean)
  • apple
  • apricot
  • banana
  • avocado
  • honeydew melon
  • peach
  • pineapple
  • prunes

vegetables

  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • butternut squash
  • sweet potato (korean and american)
  • peas
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • green beans

meats

  • beef
  • chicken

grains

  • macaroni and cheese
  • bread
  • apple cinnamon cheerios
  • rice, 누룽지 (scorched rice), and 닭죽 (chicken rice porridge)
  • oatmeal cereal

other

  • egg
  • cheese
  • peanut butter
  • yogurt: banana, mango, apple, blueberry, and apple/sweet potato
  • prune juice diluted with water or breast milk

penny is a very good eater but even she has favorites. her all-time favorite for fruits is pear especially anjou pear, and apple (golden delicious) is a close second. i mix pear or apple with new veggies so she’ll get used to the taste since babies tend to like fruit more than veggies as they’re sweeter.

she also has a great appetite for yogurt – all flavors!

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yogurt!

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yum! annie’s mac & cheese!

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she tried broccoli for the first time yesterday and i mixed in a little pear puree. for her second serving at dinner later that day, i gave it to her straight up and she devoured it. one food she doesn’t really like, besides the avocado, is green beans because it has a strong taste. i definitely mix in fruit when i give her green beans as she will only take a few bites by itself. another is bananas but, again, it could’ve been the texture. i followed a recipe from a baby recipe book and it said to mash the banana and saute it in butter. since penny doesn’t have teeth yet it was hard for her to eat and she didn’t seem too fond of it.

since penny is eating more solids, she gets constipated now and then even with breast milk and water. i aim to give penny, at least, 24 oz of breast milk a day along with 3-4 oz water. it seems as if she’s been going through a growth spurt lately (hunger + sleepiness) so she’s eating a lot more solids and milk. for constipation per a friend’s advice i mix in about half an ounce to an ounce of prune juice with her milk. i tried mixing juice with her water and she hated it. other that that, i don’t offer juice at all – too much sugar.

this is the baby food maker that i use, and i love it! i got it as a gift from one of my showers.

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you can have both sides steaming food at the same time, but only the right side can puree. you can see the blade in the above photo.

it’s so convenient! i chop up food, pour water into the reservoir, press the steam button (cloud), and it’s done in 15-20 minutes! then i use the spatula to lift up the food basket, dump the contents into the pitcher and turn the silver button to the right (note the arrow) to puree. the water from the steaming process drips out into the bottom of the pitcher so you can leave as much as needed for your food when you blend.

slide the spatula through the slots of the basket to lift it up. this helps so the steam doesn’t burn you! tilt the basket to empty the contents into the pitcher to blend.

notice the hole on the food maker? that’s the reservoir. the pitcher has markings 1, 2, and 3. you pour water up to 1 to reheat food, 2 is for fruits, and 3 is for veggies. (i heat up baby food using the microwave as it’s faster.) then you pour the water into the reservoir for the steaming process.

meal times are a long process – it basically takes up her entire wake time when she first awakes in the morning, but it’s also fun seeing her reaction when she eats. she’s so happy!! also, it gives me a chance to eat alongside her at a normal pace instead of shoving food into my mouth any chance i get (which i recall doing for the first half of her life).

currently, i offer 5 oz. of breast milk when she wakes up but she doesn’t usually drink it all in one sitting. then, she eats 2 cubes of fruit + veggie, 2 T of yogurt, and 1 T of oatmeal cereal. i don’t offer the yogurt or cereal every day now because of constipation; i substitute yogurt and/or cereal with helpings of other fruits + veggies. i also offer finger snacks so she can keep practicing her fine motor skills (and because she’s so ravenous first thing in the morning).

before her first nap, i offer 4 oz. of breast milk with whatever milk was left over from the previous feed. she doesn’t drink the same amount every day so i offer her milk throughout the day.

after the first nap, she’s offered 5 oz again. then an hour later she’ll have lunch: 2 cubes of fruit + veggies and snacks. before her last nap, she’s offered 4 oz. of milk.

after her last nap, she’s offered 4 oz. of milk. sometimes she isn’t hungry right after waking up so we keep offering it to her during playtime. about two hours after wake-up we offer about 3-4 oz and then have dinner (2T of meat + veggies or 2 T of veggies, 1 T of fruit, and snacks. depending on hunger cues, we’ll up her servings by a tablespoon.)

before bedtime, she will have 5-6 oz of milk and then it’s lights out.

i just try to keep her full by attempting to reach the minimum daily intake of 24 oz of milk along with solids. this, i think, helps her sleep well too for naps and bedtime.

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penny’s reaction when she’s about to eat

vegas getaway

first of all, happy 1st birthday to avery!

i had the privilege of attending avery’s first birthday party yesterday in andover, massachusetts. initially, dennis and i were both going to go with penny but we knew it’d be easier if only one of us went sans baby. dennis elected to stay home and i brought my pump with me.

it was great seeing, and catching up with, old friends. i even kept my friend company while she pumped, haha. how things have changed.

the first birthday is a huge deal in korean culture. per tradition, the baby is also placed in front of a variety of objects that is supposed to predict their future: money or rice = wealth; pencil = artistic; book = scholar, etc.

avery chose money much to her mother’s dismay. (she was hoping avery would choose a pencil.) a lot of work goes into the first birthday especially with pinterest and social media putting the pressure on parents! i can’t wait to do penny’s first birthday. she will be 7 months on tuesday so it’s rapidly approaching!

back to vegas..our trip was a success! we had a relaxing, baby-free time with our friends and penny also did very well with my in-laws for four days.

although my mil texted a photo of penny along with reassuring words, i still worried during the entire flight. our flight departed at 2:10pm from hartford and flew nonstop to vegas. we landed at 4pm pst which meant it was 7pm back east. when i checked my phone, i saw that mil had texted saying penny went down for the night at 6:30pm. i felt a little better knowing penny slept at her usual time.

the biggest hassle was having to pump. i believe i pumped in six different locations. i also pumped twice on the flight to vegas and back home. we also carried my pump in dennis’ backpack and whenever it was time, i just took the bag and went to the nearest restroom. thankfully, hotel bathrooms are spacious and immaculate. i also made sure to pump in the handicapped stall so i could use the counter space or the baby changing table to set up my pump. honestly, it was inconvenient having to interrupt daily activities to pump; but i brought home over 100 oz which will be useful for when dennis and i go to punta cana in january!

be sure to request a fridge (free of charge) so you can keep the pumped milk cold. we also brought coolers and ice packs to keep the milk cold during the flight home.

i’ve also had a chronic cough since august (!) and my coughing fits have significantly decreased since coming home. maybe the dry desert air helped clear my passages. whatever the reason, i hope it’s permanent.

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flying over the rockies..?

we had a gorgeous view of the landscape just before making a descent to las vegas.

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aria

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i really liked the lovely christmas decorations at aria hotel. it was interesting to see various decorations at every hotel we visited such as caesars palace, the venetian, and bellagio. so much effort and money is put into the aesthetics. they truly were a visual feast.

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aria has a waterfall wall on one side of the building. water slowly trickles over the side and then a small gush of water cascades over the side in intermittent spurts.

the last time dennis and i went to vegas was two years ago for our bachelor/bachelorette party and we had stayed at the hard rock hotel. while nice, it wasn’t on the strip; this time we didn’t want to be too far from the action.

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the courtyard

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the weather was in the upper 60s to low 70s during our stay. the pool was heated but we didn’t go in. some of us did lounge on the chairs after breakfast to relax and get some sun.

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flaky almond croissant and croque monsieur sandwich from jean-philippe

we ate a lot of delicious food including a buffet dinner at bachannal, the #1 rated buffet joint in vegas, on the first night. i didn’t take a picture then because i was so intent on eating.. plus, i was falling asleep! i never got used to the time difference but i didn’t want to try because i knew it’d be tough when we returned home.

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pretty treats from jean-phillippe

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adorable cupcakes from bachannal

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on our way to bachannal

we walked around the strip and dined at bachannal the first night. we didn’t do too much but get settled in and rest up for the next three days.

this trip was much more different than two years ago. no clubs, no partying ’til dawn, and no crazy antics. after having a baby and being tired all the time, i just craved being able to sleep without having to worry about taking care of penny.

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the basics for a day walking around town

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visiting “paris”

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the girls before our dinner at javier’s

our group consisted of three couples. when we explored the sights, we all hung out together but we split up for certain activities – shopping for the ladies and gambling for the men. most meals we dined together as well especially dinner (and us girls wanted an excuse to dress up).

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we came to the venetian because it was kelly and mike’s first time in vegas, and kelly wanted to go on the gondola.

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we went on the giant ferris wheel that takes riders up 550 feet. it cost us $20 ($7 discount when purchased online) for a half hour ride. each pod fits about 40 people but there weren’t many people waiting to go on when we went so we had the entire car to ourselves.

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our last night, we explored old vegas on fremont street. we stopped by the pawn shop that is featured on the show “pawn stars”and also the golden nugget where the guys gambled briefly.

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later that night, we ate dinner at lemongrass, a thai restaurant, and saw “zarkana”, a cirque du soleil show. it sounds lame but i fell asleep a few times! even though it was our last night in vegas i still couldn’t stay awake. i just wanted to stay in bed… it took enormous effort to crawl out and get ready for dinner.

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zarkana

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it was only a week ago that we departed for vegas but it seems like it was last year. we missed penny but it was so sublime being baby-free for four days. penny usually sleeps most of the night but we get woken up to her short cries and movements. after being woken up, it’s difficult for me to fall back asleep because i lay there wondering if she’s going to fully wake up or drift back into slumber.

we nearly forgot what it felt like doing things for us as almost every aspect of our daily routine is catered towards penny. we could wake up whenever we wanted, eat to our heart’s content, and be spontaneous.

i’m glad our trip was a success because now i don’t have to stress over leaving her again in a month. actually, i’m just worried about this upcoming week because my in-laws left today to go on a caribbean cruise for 10 days. this means i’ll be alone the majority of the time and it’s dennis’ long work week. my mom is supposed to come down for the day on wednesday and i have a play date on saturday so that helps but i so wish i had company all the time…

 

 

 

hearty chicken corn chowder

goodness, another snow day. connecticut got walloped by another storm. the accumulations varied by towns and mine supposedly received 7.5 inches but it looks like a lot more… one town even had 16 inches! waiting for word on whether there is a delay or cancellation tomorrow.

luckily, my snow day coincided with dennis’s day off so our family of 3 got some great quality time today 🙂 i remarked the other day to dennis that i should make corn chowder soon and i made it for dinner tonight. this recipe contains green chiles which gives it a nice kick – perfect for those cold, wintry nights. i paired the soup with french bread. I gotta have my carbs.

doesn't it look delicious?

            doesn’t it look delicious?

chicken corn chowder recipe
{source: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com}

(makes 6-8 servings)

*6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 medium onion, diced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
**3 cups milk
1 (16 ounce) bag frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (4 ounce) can green chiles
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste

*I only made 4 bacon strips but I think they were sufficient
**Since I don’t drink milk, I used almond milk instead. Still delicious, but regular milk will probably make it creamier

Directions:
In a large pot, add all ingredients (except the bacon) and bring to a boil.  Let simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle crumbled bacon pieces on top. Serve and enjoy!

chicken tenderloin strips

chicken tenderloin strips

diced potatoes and onions

      diced potatoes and onions

cooked chicken

             cooked chicken

ready to cook!

            ready to cook

le creuset cast iron pot

            le creuset cast iron pot 

oh, happy day

new england, new york, and new jersey were bracing for the onslaught of snow from blizzard juno, but for many states the outcome was underwhelming to say the least. having grown up in massachusetts and living in connecticut for the past four years, i have become used to blizzards and snow storms with accumulation totals measured in feet, not inches. so i was slightly disappointed when i woke up this morning to find that the snow amounted closer to 15 inches rather than 30 but i really couldn’t complain since i had a snow day today. i also found out an hour earlier than i have a snow day tomorrow too!

typically for breakfast, i either have a breakfast sandwich or oatmeal since i can eat it on the go but i usually treat myself to pancakes or waffles when i don’t have work. today was no exception. since i made chocolate chip pancakes last saturday, i made waffles with strawberry sauce this morning.

delicious and simple to make
                               delicious and simple to make

the recipe i use can be found here – all you need are strawberries, sugar, vanilla extract, and corn starch. easy peasy 🙂

yum!
                                                yum! 

to make the pancakes or waffles a little bit sweeter and prettier for presentation, i sprinkle powdered sugar on top using a sieve and a spoon. enjoy!

i also took advantage of the extra time i had today to organize part of my side of the master closet. as my belly grows, there are more clothes that i can’t fit into anymore. going through my clothes allowed me to also put away summer and fall items that i hadn’t bothered to put away. i also have one trash bag of clothes that i am going to bring to a consignment store.

before

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after
                                       after        

it doesn’t look like much, but organizing the four shelves took me about an hour and a half as i refolded clothes and also put many away in storage containers. i feel really liberated and know i am going to feel less anxious when figuring out what to wear in the morning. again, i only tackled part of the closet but baby steps…

speaking of baby, i am nearing seven months! accomplishing small tasks such as these makes me feel a wee bit more ready for when the baby comes.. just a little bit. now i’m off to update the registry (yet again) and spend quality time with my husband and dog.