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.

thanksgiving & birthday weekend

[12:30pm] i love my birthday because it usually falls around thanksgiving weekend so the festive mood from the holiday continues on to my birthday. sometimes my birthday falls on thanksgiving day which makes it even more special.

this year, thanksgiving got off to a rocky start. i got into a car accident on wednesday evening. i was craving pasta so i ordered dinner for the family (including in-laws) from cheesecake factory and i drove by myself to pick it up. i wanted to drive because i looked forward to the quiet time i could get in the car. dennis was working until 10 that evening so i decided to drop off food for him.

what should have been a half hour ride turned into an hour because of the holiday traffic. i don’t think it would’ve been that bad had there not been two accidents on the highway. at one point, three out of four lanes were closed which caused much of the delay. by the time i picked up the food and was on my way to dennis’ pharmacy it was already 5:30. i texted my mil to tell her to feed penny whatever food we had at home for now since i was going to be late.

as i drove down the local roads of west hartford i felt annoyed that i was running behind because of the accidents on the highway. i noticed a man pushing a stroller up his front walk, and then i looked forward just in time to see a minivan had stopped in front of me. i cursed and slammed on the brakes, but i plowed into the car anyway. the man with the stroller whipped around at the noise of the impact but i was busy trying to salvage the containers of pasta that had flown out of the bag. thankfully no food had spilled onto the car floor but the damage was done to my car. the grill was snapped in half and broken bits were scattered everywhere.

i knew it was my fault and i braced myself for the other driver’s reaction. a young woman stepped out and walked over to my car. then she asked worriedly, “are you okay?” i hadn’t been crying before because i was in shock but her kindness and genuine concern started a waterfall of tears. i kept blubbering on about how i was sorry and that i’ve been so tired lately that i zoned out. she kept reassuring me that as long as we were both okay, that it was fine.

it was only after i stepped out to inspect the damage to both cars and took photos with my iphone that i realized i was nearly 5 months pregnant! i wasn’t in any physical pain and i wasn’t going fast enough for the air bags to be deployed, but i was still concerned for the baby and i shared this with the other woman. she was troubled by it and even told the police officer that had arrived to report the accident.

it took quite a while for the officer to do the paperwork, and while the woman and i stood out in the cold we talked about where we are from (she’s originally from west hartford but has been living in baltimore) and what our plans had been that evening. i told her how my family had recently visited maryland to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. i even recommended the restaurant founding farmers to her. clearly, it isn’t ever ideal to get into a car accident but i am so grateful that the other person involved had been so understanding and gracious. she was on her way to meet a friend for dinner and i had ruined those plans, but she was still so positive about everything. she explained that she had been in my shoes a few months ago and knew what it was like to have to worry about dealing with insurance and the other driver. i had been in accidents where the other person was at fault and though i certainly never screamed or lost my temper, i don’t think i was really that understanding.

after almost an hour after the collision, i continued on to dennis’ work. he was only a half mile away! he knew what had happened because during all of the chaos i had called him to let him know. after talking to him and dropping off the food i was finally on my way home where the entire family – including crystal and dan – greeted me anxiously. i was fine, i was fine, thank the lord; just relieved to be home with the family.

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thanksgiving day was spent cooking all day but it was worth it. initially we had planned on driving up to massachusetts to celebrate with my side of the family since we had not been able to do that last year. however, we reconsidered after thinking of the traffic (two years ago, it took us 3 hours to arrive at my cousin’s house) and how we would only spend two hours there and then have to drive back again for penny’s bedtime.

it was eight of us including penny and yuri – a relaxing evening in the comforts of our own home. i tried to be festive by making a thanksgiving banner and hanging up fall-themed artwork created by penny. although the food was delicious – crystal contributed by making mac & cheese and helping me with other tasks like flower arranging – it was really time spent with the family that i appreciated. we never get to see crystal and dan this often and it was great being able to see them in maryland and then here for three days the week after. we will see them next at our pastor’s wedding in february.

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the boys playing mortal combat x

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the spread!

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homemade pumpkin cheesecake pie

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macarons and mini cupcakes from baked by melissa

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praying for the meal

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we got chicken instead of turkey

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penny dancing while everyone cheers – this picture was from two days before thanksgiving

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having fun playing ping pong

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we went to a tree farm on saturday morning to get our christmas tree. it was easier when penny was 6 months old which is when we got our tree last year! since penny is mobile, she just wanted to walk and do her own thing. it took an hour to get a tree! i spent most of the time chasing penny and reining her in while dennis searched for a tree and cut it down. i did choose the final tree though!

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my birthday celebration on saturday evening was relatively low-key with dinner with close friends at a burger joint. i forgot to take a group photo  😦 alice, john, and grace couldn’t make it to the games portion of the night but most of us moved on to dave and buster’s. i had forgotten how fun that place can be although saturday nights are not the best day to go since there can be a wait for certain games. i even played pump (korean version of ddr) with my pregnant belly and all. i used to play with my brother when he was younger – he is like a pro – so i can dance to some of the harder modes but boy was i out of breath at the end!

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my sister brought a lovely assortment of cupcakes from boston

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raspberry mousse birthday cake from giuseppe’s in south windsor

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my brother (james) compared to my sister (jen)

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the highlight of that evening was definitely my sister and brother driving down from boston to spend the night. my brother actually lives in la now but flew home for thanksgiving weekend. it had been quite some time since the three of us had done something together so i was extremely happy that they had both made it. plus, they were able to see how much penny had grown and spent time with her as well.

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sunday morning before church – penny liked the small basketball we got for her from d & b’s

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penny likes watching us cook

on my actual birthday, i was scheduled for a 10am ultrasound and anatomy scan. dennis and i found out we are having a B O Y! the technician asked us if we wanted to know and dennis blurted out that he could see the penis so there was no denying it! thanks to genie, we had decided on popping a balloon filled with appropriately-colored confetti to reveal the sex. i even brought scissors, tissue paper and ziploc bags with me so i could continue cutting the confetti. of course i stopped cutting pink ones after we found out the results. by the way, i had done research about the confetti-balloon reveal and many women recommended cutting up confetti using tissue paper because it’s light enough that it’ll float nicely for the photos. the store-bought ones are too heavy and would probably just fall instead of flying around for a greater effect.

after the appointment we stopped by party city and the employees stuffed two black 24-inch balloons with sky blue and royal blue confetti; then they filled them with helium. we also got a regular white balloon for penny to play with. when we arrived home, penny was napping and we ate lunch with my mil. we were going to do the reveal after penny woke up so mil went home for a few hours and we rested. a little before 3pm, both parents came over and we went onto the field to take a the first round of photos. we filled two balloons in case the first photo shoot didn’t come out well. we also had mil practice taking pictures by holding down the shutter button on the iphone so she could take consecutive pictures rapidly.

the pictures on the field came out nice enough – especially our reactions – but it was too bright so the color of the confetti was difficult to see. we changed locations to our driveway where the shade and the white doors of the garage made for better photos. i ended up holding penny because it’s difficult to get a toddler to participate in photo shoots, really.

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the photo collage we used for our announcement

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we really would not have minded if we were going to have another girl but having a boy is wonderful too! so many of our friends and family commented that we are lucky to have one of each – which i suppose we are – but we all know health is #1. when i met with my ob after the ultrasound she said everything looked great which is not something she gets to say often (usually only once a day). she said nowadays that any little thing can be considered a “high-risk pregnancy” so to give us good news was great for her as well.

that evening, dennis and i enjoyed a quiet dinner at market grille. we ordered a bunch of apps from the happy hour menu and i indulged in a blackberry-pomegranate-ginger soda. we had planned on going to the movies afterwards to watch arrival but we were both tired (and wanted to watch the missed episode of the walking dead) and felt bad that we would be coming home late since mil was watching penny as usual. we ended up stopping by dave & buster’s to play a few games ( we ended up with over 1,000 tickets) and kept the tickets so we can save up to get a really good prize for penny. 🙂

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sorry for the terrible quality – snapchat photo

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it’s no wonder after that eventful week that i’ve been tired… tired enough where i can actually fall asleep during penny’s nap like i did yesterday. i thought i would close my eyes for a half hour and i ended up falling asleep for an hour! i sat upright immediately after realizing it was 3:30 and penny was still sleeping (almost 3 hours!) so i got up to wake her. let’s see if i can squeeze in some shut-eye now…

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#AboutThatLife

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gotta love nap time. penny’s on her second nap so i’m trying to whip out a blog post while pumping (-_-) and hopefully will be able to grab a bite to eat.

there is a cute children’s book store called jack & allie’s in my town, and it’s about a 5-minute drive from our house. they have camps, classes, and a lot of fun activities for babies, toddlers, children, and parents. genie told me last night that she planned on bringing olivia to story time today. the time is perfect: 11:15-12:15 because penny usually wakes up from her first nap between 10:30-11:30am. i had to wake her up from her nap as usual and then drove us over to the bookstore.

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after hearing a story about martha, the talking dog (a funny story that i’ve read before), the children participated in a coloring activity. it was penny and olivia’s first attempt at coloring. penny didn’t color but i’m glad she didn’t stick the crayons in her mouth. olivia, however, did color a bit!

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she loved this rocking chair!

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penny was really excited to see other babies – she kept smiling and looking around – and she also loved exploring jack & allie’s. we had been there a few times before to purchase books but that was before she was mobile.

now that penny is nearing the toddler stage, life has become even more eventful and exhausting! she loves trying to walk but it’s hard on our backs since we have to hunch over to support her. stair-climbing is also another assisted activity that she loves. thankfully we have carpeted stairs and we stand behind her. since she’s moving around a lot more she actually gets tired faster. sometimes she wants to nap after only being awake for 2 hours or so and i stretch it out so she can make it close to the 3-hour mark.

penny’s schedule: 5/24/16

6:30am:  wake up/milk/play/eat/take a walk

9:30am – 10:58am: first nap (had to wake her)

11:15am-12:15pm: story hour @ jack & allie’s

12:30-1pm: lunch

1pm-1:30pm: walk outside

2pm-3:30pm: second nap (hopefully)

3:30-6:30pm: milk/play/take a walk/dinner/bath time

7:30pm: bedtime

this is what our typical day looks like. of course, the daily activities differ depending what we’re doing or where we’re going, but it’s great knowing what to expect. i hope she takes two naps for a while! usually babies transition from two naps to one anywhere between 14~18 months with a rare amount transitioning earlier.

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mealtimes have been tough as penny hates sitting still so we have to offer a variety of food. some days she’ll want to chomp on a banana and other days she won’t even take a bite! the temper tantrums are fierce! she wants everything her way…

these reusable pouches that i ordered from amazon are amazing. you can put basically anything in there. yogurt used to be our go-to food but she doesn’t really like it anymore. who knows why? i still offer it to her in the pouch and she’ll eat it that way, if at all. i also put in fruit and veggie purees… she doesn’t like being spoon-fed too much anymore so having her hold on to the pouches helps us too.

she also really loves pizza. we had pizza for dinner last night and didn’t pick up the pie until penny had already eaten dinner. then she saw us eating pizza and naturally wanted some. she ended up eating an entire slice sans the crust. o.O

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last saturday, i attended my childhood friend, christina’s wedding in providence, rhode island. it was held at roger williams botanical garden and the venue was gorgeous! dennis had to work last weekend so i drove up solo and my sister met me at the hotel. it was fun going as sisters and getting some bonding time in.

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we used to hang out often in middle school and high school because we grew up in the same church. it became few and far between once all of us were in college but we still usually got together during the holidays especially for a christmas eve dinner at christina’s, or yuge (her korean name is yujin), mom’s house. finally, she moved out to los angeles to pursue a career in the television industry. she’s made cameos and worked on shows like pretty little liars and night shift, and is currently an associate producer on the middle.

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yuge’s brother, justin

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yuge’s brother, justin

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congratulations to yuge & abi!

 

 

birthdays & bachelor(ettes)

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she loves crawling into the ball pit

welcome to april! although in new england, not much has changed. actually, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. we were teased with a few days hovering near the high-60s last week. then it rained on saturday which turned to snow on sunday and finally ceased yesterday. i look forward to taking walks with penny and yuri to get fresh air and break up the monotony of being indoors, but it looks like we won’t be able to do that this week.

it was a nonstop weekend: since dennis was away for a bachelor weekend in colorado from wednesday through saturday, i was mostly alone with penny and yuri during that time. my mil doesn’t work on wednesdays so she kept me company that day and my fil stopped by on thursday and friday to take yuri outside. my friend, katie, came around penny’s dinnertime to spend the night and helped me feed her dinner. we also went out for a walk which was nice for everyone. 🙂 after penny went to bed, we chowed down on pizza, wings, and fried mozzarella while drinking wine and watching gilmore girls. katie’s boyfriend was also in colorado with dennis and the gang so it was great to keep each other company and also have girl talk 😉

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penny really likes katie’s blond hair

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saturday was olivia’s big day: it was her first birthday party!

traditionally at a korean first birthday, there is a 돌잡이 (doljabi), where an assortment of objects is laid out in front of the baby. the child then chooses one object and this determines their future occupation. usual objects include money (wealth), spool of thread (long life), stethoscope (medical), pencil or book (scholar), and so on.

olivia chose money (genie said she trained her to!) but chose a spool of thread later so maybe that was the “actual” prediction… 😛

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proud parents with the birthday girl

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look who’s one!

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돌상, or the dol table

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closer look at the tissue paper flowers that genie made!

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after the party, i rushed home to pump and my sister played with penny. my in-laws were already there because my fil took care of penny while i went to the party and then my mil came over after work. and then, we drove up to boston to attend our friend, yuge’s night out in town for her bachelorette.  unfortunately i didn’t take many pictures (photos below are from the bride and matron of honor)… but we did share pictures that we had with yuge over the years and relived memories.

post-dinner, we went back to the hotel where i pumped (what else?) while we chatted, and the girls put on face masks and watched how to lose a guy in 10 days. by then it was nearly midnight and it had been a long weekend already so i went to my parents’ house to sleep.

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we used traci’s selfie stick before heading out to dinner

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dinner at gaslight

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i love bone marrow!

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moules et frites!

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wore same outfit to olivia’s birthday and the bachelorette hangout

and, sleep i did! besides waking up once in the morning to – you guessed it – pump, i fell back asleep until 11:30am! i don’t think i have slept in that late for a few years, at least! even before penny was born, i was usually awake and functioning before that time. it was a good thing i woke up then too because i had to help get the house ready for my grandma’s 95th birthday luncheon!

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my parents recently “downsized” and the formal living room is my favorite room.

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jen’s dog, charlie

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it was a jam-packed weekend and i enjoyed catching up with friends and family, but in the end… home is the best (집이 최고 지). dennis had returned from colorado late saturday night so he took care of penny all day sunday. i came home with a ton of food and was finally able to relax.

penny’s birthday party is 5 weeks away and we are scrambling to have everything ready in time. grateful to have a lot of help from my sister, genie, and dennis. i’m nearly finished with one of the dol tower, but i still have two left: one for her korean name and one for the sheep (her zodiac). after i finish those, i’ll be sure to blog a post about that.. and i’m still overdue to do one on penny’s now-finished kitchen! it turned out great~ dennis just put in batteries for the stove this morning so the burners light up when the buttons are pushed.

penny had a great stretch where she was sleeping 11-12 hours at night and would wake up between 6:30-7am.. the past few days she’s been waking up at 5:30-5:45am.. ahhh, so i have to push her naps earlier. i read at this age babies go through so much developmentally since they’re full-on crawling, standing, and trying to walk. plus, her awake time has increased while her nap lengths have decreased so it’s kind of hard to stretch out the day so she isn’t going to bed around 6pm. we are still having to wake her up, at least once, from her naps so it doesn’t affect her other nap and/or nighttime sleep. i know eventually her nap total will be anywhere from 2~2.5 hours as she gets closer to her 1-year mark, and this’ll mean an early bedtime for a while. so many changes during the baby’s first year!

it looks as if i’ll have to wake penny from her first nap so i need to quickly wash up and get ready before doing so. next post will be about the kitchen!

10 months and counting!

IMG_5295we’ve reached the double digits for months – just two more and she’ll be a year old :-O

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it hasn’t yet been a week since my last post but so much has happened since then. and, i don’t want the following entry to be super long because it’s crammed with everything that has been going on. i’m trying to whip this post out while penny naps because after she wakes up, i’m taking her to michael’s crafts store to buy more spray paint and other items for sprucing up her new ikea furniture.

we took a family outing (grandparents included) to ikea on monday to buy “a few items” for penny’s playroom and ended up spending over $500.. how…?! it’s so easy to spend money… my gosh, but these are all things we need for her playroom.. for the most part. as a first birthday gift, the so grandparents got penny a play kitchen along with pots/pans/colander and plush produce. the kitchen comes in a standard white-and-wood color but i wanted to spruce it up. same with the latt table and chair set. i already began glamming it up by spray painting the kitchen fixtures gold. one of the chairs i spray painted a petal pink color, and i want to buy 4 more colors today. (i ran out of the gold, too.) i have painter’s tape all over the furniture because i am going to do color-blocking for the tables and chairs.

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instead of getting started on the dol towers, i’m putting my energy into her furniture.. well, i still have 2 months left to do those and i don’t want the unassembled furniture sitting around in the boxes because penny will keep trying to play with them. we are also aiming to paint the walls so we’ll have to get started before hanging things like shelves, penny’s growth chart, and artwork.

thankfully penny’s playroom is our walk-out basement so even if i’m alone i manage to work on these projects. i step outside for a few minutes to spray paint while penny and yuri peer through the glass door. then i leave the pieces out on craft paper to dry and i keep painting as needed. i also have her nap times and bedtime to work on them as well.

i’ll be sure to show the finished products in a future post!

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neil’s donuts!

random doughnut picture, but neil’s donuts in wallingford, ct has the best doughnuts.. and my friend, grace, drove there to get a box for her and got some for dennis and me as well! ❤

it’s amazing how much language penny acquires on any given day. although we speak a mixture of english and korean to her, we use a lot of korean phrases so it’s not a surprise that her first words are all in korean! and, she can say a total of 4 of them: 맘마 (food), 엄마 (mom), 아빠 (dad), and 까까 (crackers). the last one is fairly recent and she doesn’t really enunciate it as well as the other 3 words but we know what she means.

some other cute things she does is to give us kisses when we say 뽀뽀 (kiss). we lean in and she puts her wet mouth on our cheeks, haha. she also shakes her head back and forth when we say 도리도리. i’m not quite sure of the meaning on that one but it sounds similar to 돌다 which means “to turn around.” however the other phrase is spelled differently and my mil thinks it has a japanese origin from back when korea was under japanese rule.

when you go back and forth between languages, things get lost in translation. sometimes there aren’t words to adequately describe or define what it is you’re talking. this is so true of the korean language. for instance, the word 애교. simply put, it means to act in a cute manner but even that doesn’t capture the true meaning of the word. however, it applies to girls acting all cutesy mostly for attention. penny definitely knows how to put on a show because when we say 아이고~ 이뻐라! (oh, so pretty!) she tilts her head to the side. it’s so adorable and we all get a kick out of it. when my parents saw it for the first time they couldn’t stop laughing.

speaking of my parents, i was so happy that they drove down from boston – with a ton of korean food nonetheless – last friday. even though they only live a little less than two hours away, we don’t get to see them often because of the restaurant business. in my last post i mentioned how my parents had sold one of their restaurants. they had 3 and now they’re down to 1 which means more free time! my parents are looking forward to taking a long-overdue and well-deserved vacation this summer. and hopefully that means more visits as well.

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it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

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brewing homemade jujube tea

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삼계탕, or cornish hen stew

olivia g.’s 1st birthday is in two-and-a-half weeks!! genie has been spending most of her free time finishing up decor and finalizing all the details for her party. it’s sheer madness how much emphasis, money and time is spent on the first birthday especially since it’s a huge ordeal in the asian culture. obviously it’s for the parents and pictures than for the little one, but..particularly as first-time parents we can’t really help but go all out. plus, with social media and pinterest displaying all the latest trends and cute details it’s easy to go overboard.

last saturday, genie and i drove down to new jersey for the day. although it was a baby-free day, nearly everything we did was for the babies. i set my alarm for 5am so i could get dressed and pump just before leaving the house. genie and i hit the road a few minutes before 7am and got to new jersey around 9. first stop: hmart (a korean supermarket). we expected it to be busy on a saturday morning but it seems as if they had just opened because it was fairly quiet and everyone else had a few decades on us. 😛

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the cooler was filled to the top

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view from kuppi cafe

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first birthday rice cake

although i mostly got snacks and a few necessities, genie’s sole purpose was to buy ingredients for olivia’s birthday lunch since she and her mom are making korean food for the party! as we stood in the check-out line, a 할머니 (grandma) placed her hands on our cart and started leaning on it. startled, we looked at her and she said that she was using it to help her stand up. we let her, of course, but we wondered if she was going to take it; we had a lot of bags to carry to the car along with a bag of ice. as we were paying, i tentatively made a move to get the cart and she asked if we needed it, and we said, “yes…” but then i quickly told her it was okay and genie ran out of the supermarket to find another cart. we didn’t mind helping her out but it was so bizarre that she zeroed in on our cart when there were so many around. maybe she thought we didn’t need it because we’re young..?

other stops we made were paris baguette where we each left with a giant bag of pastries and milk bread. then, yedang (a korean rice cake shop) to inquire about ordering a rice cake for a first birthday party, and then…pumping in the car -__- the main reason we took dennis’ suv down to jersey is because it has tinted windows, shades, and an outlet in the back row. we still had to take turns pumping (and the engine was running for a half hour) so i’m sure passers-by were wondering what was going on…

we met up with our friends, rob and almex, for lunch at a ramen shop. it was good but the sodium made me feel nauseous later on and i was hanging my head out the window like a dog :-X afterwards, we went to a coffee shop on the waterfront. it was funny because almex remarked how the name of the shop is weird (he pronounced it: coo-pee), and then i saw the sign: kuppi. right away i told him “it’s cup-pee” (which is how you say “coffee” in korean).;-)

lastly, we went to rose bedding & interiors to check out hanbok, a traditional korean clothing. there were so many pretty designs and they all cost over $100 for the baby ones. an outfit they will only wear once… eesh. we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the specialty ones – these are the ones that are made in-house- but genie stealthily snapped a photo while the shop owner assisted me with the water cooler. 😛

despite an early start to the day, it flew by quickly. we couldn’t believe it was already time to go home. we took turns driving so the other could pump in the front seat – oh man, we are so looking forward to weaning!!! – and made a pit stop at a diner in southern connecticut. as we made our way to the bathroom, we both exclaimed, “oh my god!” at the sound of britney belting out “baby, one more time…” turns out, there was a high school dance party going on in one of the banquet rooms and we wondered aloud if we would be able to get away with crashing it. alas, we were wearing jeans and the kids were dressed up.

i’m happy with my life right now, but sometimes… sometimes i get wistful and think how if i had the chance to go back and relive from 17 on, i’d “live it up” a little more. i was always so insecure and shy, and it took me until my 30s to truly start to embrace myself. but, hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? just because i have a baby now doesn’t mean i can’t have fun.. it’s just a different kind of fun, i suppose. it’s not too late to check off all the things on my ever-growing bucket list, and i need to slowly get a move on that. i’m a different person today than when i was in high school, and i really am grateful about that.

 

penny’s first christmas

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penny in her playroom


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she loves yogurt!

’twas a very merry christmas!

i was so excited to celebrate our first christmas as a family because it’s such an important, and festive, holiday.

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playing with the gift the so grandparents got her


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one of her many gifts: a ball pit!


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thank you, jennie and kaylee, for the adorable headband!


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looks so much cuter with hair!

christmas is also my mom’s birthday. it’s rough having your birthday fall on the biggest holiday of the year and sharing it with jesus so we try to make it special for my mom. my parents came down for dinner on christmas eve, and we went out to eat with dennis’ parents as well. my mom is very selfless and doesn’t ask for much so i know she was overjoyed when we surprised her with a cake – strawberry cheesecake from vernon diner to be specific.

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i love you, mom! happy birthday ❤

taking advantage of being able to spend time with us, my mom practically held penny the entire time. she and my mil took turns feeding penny her bottle and butternut squash with pear.

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entertaining herself during dinner


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before we left for dinner

so much good happens in my life, and as every year draws to a close i wonder how next year can even possibly be on the same level, or even better, than this one. but every year has been better than the last.

2015 was no exception and is probably the most important year of my life since i became a mommy to a healthy, vivacious, happy, and beautiful baby girl. it’s hard to believe penny’s already 7.5 months. with each passing day, i’m in awe of what she knows and can do. for example, today she began saying “da da da.” she had been saying, “ba ba ba” for some time now but has been more vocal the past few days. she also has been screeching and yelling (while smiling) because she can.

penny also gave us a wonderful gift: sleeping on her own. we’ve been rocking penny to sleep since she was born. as she got heavier and heavier we have been wondering how long we would have to do this for. we knew we would have to start sleep training but i, in particular, was nervous about this daunting task. do we try the “cry it out” method? what do we do? it turns out we didn’t have to do anything except put her down.

when researching on sleep training i kept reading “put baby down ‘drowsy but awake'” and thought, “yeah, right.. penny will never sleep like that.” we were too afraid to risk it, and honestly penny probably wasn’t ready. until three days ago.

around 6 months, penny transitioned to a 2-nap day and her awake time has been slowly increasing. currently, penny’s on track to being on the 2-3-4 schedule. if you don’t know what that is, it means your baby’s awake period is 2 hours before first nap, 3 hours before second nap, and 4 hours before bedtime. for quite some time, penny’s awake time was 2 hours before each nap and then, maybe, 3 until bedtime. we have been slowly increasing the increments in her awake time while still following her sleepy cues.

we also noticed that if her second nap was a half hour and gave her a third nap, she wouldn’t fall asleep as easily for bedtime. therefore if she ever had a “disaster nap” for the second nap we would put her to bed a little earlier.

this website was so helpful in helping me figure out penny’s schedule. yes, all babies are different but the “sleep lady” was on point for penny’s needs. we don’t let penny sleep longer than 2 hours for any nap and we are mindful of her awake time.

back in november, penny was sleeping 10-hour stretches which were wonderful but also driving us crazy because she would be awake and ready to go at 4am. she would play for an hour or even more and finally end up falling asleep again. thankfully, she had learned how to self-soothe by then so she wasn’t crying for us but i would lie awake wondering if i would have to tend to her or not. on one of the nights penny would not fall asleep i told dennis to turn off the night light on the video monitor. we were skeptical, but it worked! with the room pitch-black, penny soon fell asleep! now we knew why she had had a hard time falling back asleep: as she became more aware of her surroundings, the night light distracted her and kept her from sleeping even though she was tired.

one of the other reasons for her early-morning wake-ups was that penny had started waking up around 6am or earlier so by the end of the day she would want to go to bed around 5:30! it was stressful trying to make her stay up until, at least, 6pm so she wouldn’t wake up so early the next day. (now that penny has a set schedule i see that she was trying to fully transition to 2 naps and we had to fiddle with her awake time.)

some days she slept even longer, until 5am, but then would not fall back asleep because.. face it, 11 hours straight is pretty dang good. that’s a well-rested baby. but again, with time, and with the increase in her awake time penny has been waking up after 6am and sleeping after 6pm.

i was pretty satisfied with penny’s progress until she threw me for a loop three nights ago. even though penny was tired, she would not sleep. i rocked her for 3 hours.. is that crazy or what?! every time i put her in the crib, her eyes would fly open. it was obvious she was ready to pass out because every time i picked her back up her eyes would immediately close. finally, out of frustration, exhaustion, and hunger i placed her in the crib around 9:40pm and walked downstairs.

as i ate a very late dinner and watched the monitor, penny fussed and played for ten minutes and then fell asleep. i couldn’t believe it. first of all, she had been on her side in the merlin suit and fell asleep like that! and second, there was no pacifier and no one to soothe her.. she just.. fell asleep.

thinking it was just a fluke and that she had just been exhausted from being up so long, dennis tried rocking her for her morning nap the next day. but, penny would wake up whenever he put her down. finally he came downstairs to see if she would fall asleep on her own AND SHE DID! penny has been telling us she’s ready to fall asleep by herself.. and we are ECSTATIC that we don’t have to rock her anymore.

sleep is such a beautiful, beautiful thing… and penny has been sleeping 11 straight hours without us having to tend to her. we still can’t believe it. of course, all will change when her teeth finally come in.. and the 8-month sleep regression is quickly approaching but we are SO enjoying this right now! and we are so proud that penny has been able to figure out how to sleep on her own. we are finally feeling more rested, and happier because of it too.

sweet dreams, penny.

thankful

it’s already december! one more month and it’ll be 2016. i have gone through so many firsts with penny and soon it’ll be her first christmas 🙂

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we cut down penny’s first christmas tree!

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last week was thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, and we had been planning to go up to boston to celebrate it with my side of the family. for those who know, my family is huge (about 50 members or so) and it’s always a good time: tons of food (korean and american); gambling (poker for the younger generations and hwa-to, 화토 korean cards for the older adults); and football to name a few activities.

our family even has a facebook group to update each other on events. on november 1st, someone starts a post on who will bring what to thanksgiving. we always have to have 2 turkeys just because of the sheer size of our family. there’s usually ham as well, and we also have sullung-tang, 설러탕 or gook-bab, 국밥 for dinner in addition to the leftovers.

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my family, sans us, at this year’s thanksgiving!

dennis and i had been fretting (mostly me) on enduring 3-hour traffic; dealing with an overtired baby; and having her spend the night in an unfamiliar place. we had a list on what to pack and it was practically everything baby-related item we own including a pack ‘n play and her monitor.

in the end, we opted to stay home. i was really sad about missing out on my family’s thanksgiving (i cried!) but it was truly for the best, and i don’t regret our decision. plus, dennis’ brother, dan, and his wife, crystal, drove up from washington d.c. to spend thanksgiving here and we would not have been able to spend time with them had we gone up to boston. we also had not seen them since july when penny was about 7 weeks old! it was a relaxing, intimate get-together with both korean and american food – thanks to crystal and our mil.

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the so family

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obligatory ‘funny face’ photo

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it was also my 32nd birthday on the 28th. i didn’t have the motivation to go out and celebrate but dennis was sweet enough to plan and organize a birthday dinner for me. at the end of the day, all i really look forward to is lounging on the couch and passing out in front of the tv. but i’m glad dennis made sure i take time to enjoy life as well.

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delicious strawberry-peach cake

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as a birthday gift, dennis is also treating me to 4 days in las vegas! we are leaving this coming sunday and i’m incredibly nervous about the trip. it’s not just the hassle of pumping, saving milk and transporting it back but i’m so anxious to leave penny home for 4 days. although penny is comfortable with my mil she goes through ‘mommy phases’ where she can only be soothed by me. i just worry about her crying for me at night especially since she’s been sleeping 9~12 hours straight as of last week. i know babies are unpredictable and just when you think you have their schedule figured out, it goes belly-up but i worry how much  it will be affected when i’m gone.

mil was over yesterday and she took the initiative to jot down notes on penny’s awake time, how much to feed and how often, and nap length. she’s really great with penny and very loving and patient so i know she’ll do a great job.. i just need to reassure myself. and anyway, the trip is happening so there’s nothing i can do but try to enjoy myself! we are going with four of our friends and it’ll be nice to get away and treat myself… right?

well anyway, i need to get my mind off the trip because i’ll drive myself crazy with unnecessary stress.

today is penny’s first swim lesson! she absolutely loves bath time so we figured she’ll take to swimming but it’s in a whole different environment so who knows, really? her bathing suit arrived a few days ago and though it’s size 6-12 months it’ll be too small for her in a month or so. her lesson is from 4:30-5pm which is perfect because then we can come home and do her bedtime routine. i’m nervous because i’ll be taking her by myself (and going in the water too!) so i hope all goes well.

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important update on penny’s supposed milk allergy: she is not allergic to dairy.. hooray! at her 6-month visit, our pediatrician changed penny’s poopy diaper and noted that it looks normal for a breastfed baby. he advised us to get probiotics to help with her bowel movements. we give penny 5 drops a day by spoon and now she’s down to 1-2 bowel movements a day! i’m so relieved because a dairy-free diet is unbelievably difficult and i didn’t want have to deal with that… of course, i would have had to if penny really was allergic, but she’s not!

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all in all, i have a lot to be thankful about… and during times of trial, i hope i can think of moments like these to spur me on.