penny’s 3rd birthday

I promised myself I wouldn’t go all out for penny’s 3rd birthday, especially since I had spent so much time, energy, and money on Ezra’s 1st birthday. but, it just isn’t me to not find an excuse to stay up late party planning and making decorations.

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penny doesn’t really love anything else as much as minnie mouse; but since she had already used that theme for her 2nd birthday party, I didn’t want her to reuse it. I settled on the unicorn theme which is really whimsical and quite popular.

to make the backdrop, I purchased a package of diy paper flowers from Michaels. this particular brand is recollections, and I had read bad reviews – difficult to follow illustrations, no written directions, requires a lot of tape/adhesive – but as they were the only kind Michaels sold, I purchased them anyway. they ended up being 60% off (regular price $19.99 for four flowers) maybe because they’re being discontinued? I couldn’t find any other diy paper flowers at Michaels – online or in store.

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the flowers were… time-consuming. I thought I would be able to whip them up but I spent quite a bit of time staring at the illustrations to make sure I had the correct size petals and that I was assembling them properly. in the end, I winged it because I really couldn’t figure out some of the steps! (recently, I also began rewatching random episodes of one of my all-time favorite shows, the office, so that’s a huge reason why I took so long in getting things done!)

I purchased green, black, lavender, and gold glitter card stock to make the leaves, eyelashes, ears, and horn respectively. I just traced them freehand and cut them out. I used a thick gold calligraphy pen to draw in the leaves’ veins to make them look more realistic. for the unicorn’s ears, I had white card stock at home that I used for the inner part of the ears.

the party room’s walls are bright shades of highlighter orange and lime green so I bought two plastic white tablecloths for a white backdrop. unfortunately, the tablecloths weren’t thick enough to hide the colors and designs underneath but, at least, most of it was covered. (I had looked up the party rooms online in advance to see how they looked.)

the party favors were diy unicorn horns made of funmallows (mini flavored marshmallows). I purchased the styrofoam cups and 5 bags of funmallows from target. (I only ended up using 3 bags for 21 unicorn horns.) the cone shaped plastic bags were purchased from Michaels.

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I also purchased the unicorn tablecloth, straws, and napkins from target. good ol’ target – I also found penny’s unicorn t-shirt in the girl’s section (size xs). the unicorn headband along with the unicorn cake topper were purchased as a set from amazon. the pink tutu was a gift and the polka dot pants are from carter’s.

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for those of you that know penny, she LOVES to jump so having her birthday party at jump off trampoline park was a no-brainer. lunch was included in the cost – pizza and pink lemonade – however, I wanted the kids to have other options in case they didn’t want pizza or wanted snacks. the trampoline park has a strict policy regarding outside food besides cake and cupcakes, but an employee informed me that if snacks are included in the goody bags, they can’t say anything. perfect! my husband assembled separate goody bags – this time, in gold and white paper bags – with an applesauce pouch, goldfish crackers, and a sticker packet in each one. thank goodness because penny barely ate the pizza (like we knew she wouldn’t. she only had a few bites of the crust.)

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the unicorn cutouts are from Michaels

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the cakes were almost a disaster. I had one cake ordered from big y, a small New England  supermarket chain, because I didn’t want to spend almost $100 on a fancy cake like I did for penny’s second birthday and for Ezra’s first birthday. well, supermarket bakeries have their limitations as we know. I just asked for a simple, 10-inch white cake with lavender, teal, and pink flowers cascading down the back for the unicorn-themed party. the cake wasn’t tall enough in my mind for the unicorn decorations. plus, it was my fault in asking for “happy birthday, Penelope” to be written on the cake. the baker didn’t know where to write that since I had told them I was going to use a cake topper; so it was written on the side where I needed to put on the eyelashes.

after Dennis told them we weren’t pleased with the cake, we just got a smaller (and taller) one from the display and the baker quickly piped on the flowers. the manager told Dennis they normally wouldn’t accept our request because it’s too detailed for them. we ended up getting the other cake for free. it was actually great that we had two cakes because we needed both to feed 18 children and some of the adults!

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although I stayed up until 5am (and laid wide-awake in bed for an hour and a half) finishing up the party decorations, I had a really wonderful time making them. I don’t know if it’s because I was watching the office but I wasn’t feeling stressed or anxious. Dennis did wake up around 4am wondering why I was still up. he ended up coming downstairs to help me finish the details. ❤ Dennis and my mil also were kind enough to watch the kids while I took a nap on the couch for 2.5 hours later that evening.

I received a lot of kind words from the guests that day regarding the decorations and the party itself. the kids really enjoyed jumping on the trampolines and eating cake together. many of the parents thanked me afterwards for inviting them and we all remarked how the kids would have a great nap when they got home. (they did.)

the party’s over and done with, and I’m glad. but I did enjoy putting it together for penny. I hope she remembers how much fun she had that day.

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days go by

they say it gets easier as the children grow older… and it’s true. ezra is already 8 months old and he rarely gives me trouble. penny, on the other hand… she has been having better days lately and it may be because she’s well-rested. penny had been going through a weird phase a few months ago where she began waking up between 5-5:30am every morning. sometimes she would yell out but other times she was mostly quiet as she tried to go back to sleep.

at first, i thought it was because she had to use the potty but she kept waking up early for about a month. i brought it up to her pediatrician at penny’s 2.5 year visit, and he advised that she only nap for 1.5 hours. while researching online for help with toddler sleep, i did find an article where the sleep expert, kim west aka the sleep lady said toddlers between 2-3 years old should only be napping for 1.5 hours to protect night sleep.

our pediatrician warned us that it would take a week or so for results to show. it was tough at first because penny would be cranky whenever we woke her up from her nap since she was trying to make up for the early morning wake-up. she still can be cranky when we wake her up but it has been working because she is now waking up between 6:30-7… or sometimes even after 7am! she went from sleeping 9-9.5 hours during that month of hell to 10.5-11 hours!

maple street playgroup

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painting a pouch

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recent snow day

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like penny, i transitioned ezra to two naps a little earlier than the norm. both kids were ready for two naps because their last nap (a catnap) made their bedtime too late and resulted in less nighttime sleep overall.  plus, their first two naps were long (1.5 hours each) and i would have to wake them up from each one! a 2-nap schedule means we can do more during the evening hours, too.

i’ve been brave lately by bringing both kids out and about. recently, the mom’s group had a chuck e. cheese playdate so i brought both kids after they woke up from their nap. (another great thing is that ezra’s 2nd nap is usually around the same time as penny’s nap so i get to rest, too!)

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Penny couldn’t figure out how to go up this. the platforms were too high for her.

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nice action shot

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i don’t think i had ever been to a chuck e. cheese, even as a child. i always hear horror stories such as the viral videos of parents having a full-on brawl while their children watch. i decided to give the place a shot since we had never been there. the one in manchester is actually the 2nd-largest in new england! what’s neat is that there is a separate toddler section so you don’t have to worry about your little ones getting overrun by the older kids.

the rides moved a little too slowly (even for toddlers) in my opinion, and the hot chocolate one was weird, but penny seemed to enjoy herself. her favorite ride was the train. the children also climbed up padded platforms to go into tunnels and slide down a spiral slide. penny really wanted to go down the slide but couldn’t figure out how to climb up the platforms. other kids were being creative by using the netting to hoist themselves up, but penny didn’t even want to try. i wish she wasn’t so tentative at trying new things, but pushing her will only make it worse.

i also brought the kids to a holiday party held at one of the mom’s homes. the location being only 7 minutes from our home definitely made it easier to attend. still, i was a half hour late because of penny, stalling. it’s so hard to get her to go anywhere right after her nap and she shuts down when we try to rush her. i had to entice her by saying there would be “new toys” at the place we were going to.

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K combing Ezra’s hair 🙂

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penny enjoyed playing with the new toys, and also sat down with some of the other children to snack on fruit and crackers. she actually does better with sitting and eating (and feeding herself) when we are out! it really does help when she is sitting with her peers to eat. learn by example, right? ezra, as usual, was his own chill self. one of the moms offered to watch him so i could eat, and another mom put his shoes on when we were getting ready to leave. it takes a village!

i’ve been saying this for quite some time but i need to start taking better care of myself. i used to skip lunch and try to nap but forgoing meals aren’t good for my body and overall energy either. in fact, i used to eat so little during the day that my stomach chronically hurt. when i did eat, i was never satisfied because i could have always eaten more but i didn’t because i wanted to try to get some shut-eye.

my stomach hasn’t been bothering me lately so i guess i’m on the right path. i just need to start working out again… especially since we are planning a tropical getaway in march. i like having four seasons and i like snow but winters drag on in new england.  for sure, by march, we will be sick of being cooped up indoors. (i’m already tired of it now.) although nervous to be traveling with two little ones, i also am excited to share this experience as a family of four.

i took both kids to the playgroup at our town’s library.

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the size of ezra’s hands are catching up to his big sister’s!

michaels sells art projects by creatology. some are 3+ but most are 6+. this christmas sign was 6+ but i purchased it anyway thinking penny could do it anyway. now i know why they upped the age for seemingly simple project: their attention span! it seemed easy enough to just to put stickers on the sign but penny got bored of putting the little stickers like the individual letters on it. she liked working on the penguin the best (the part we tackled first.)

 

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after 14 months without a haircut, i finally got one last week. it was a big change: i had over 12 inches chopped off! i feel so much lighter and don’t have to battle tangled hair on a daily basis. i did have hair remorse soon after the new ‘do was unveiled but it went

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night changes

my favorite holiday used to be thanksgiving for as long as i could remember. i always looked forward to our huge family gathering, the endless amounts of traditional thanksgiving and korean food, and, of course, my birthday. the years that my birthday fell during thanksgiving weekend, or on thanksgiving day, were the best since i didn’t have to go to school, and, later on, work.

but now that i am married with two children, and also live a state away from most of my family members and relatives i feel christmas has usurped thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. for one thing, i’ve always loved christmas music. i could honestly listen to it all year long. as an adult, there’s something so nostalgic and cheerful about it… as if listening to the music alone will melt away the troubles of the world.

although christmas can be stressful (as most holidays can be) because of the expenses that come with purchasing gifts, thanksgiving became a source of anxiety once i had children. thanksgivings 2015 and 2016 were spent here in connecticut with my in-laws, my brother-in-law and his wife. dennis and i didn’t want to get stuck in crazy holiday traffic with a baby and dennis also had to work on friday.

this year, however, we were able to make it work (more details on the next post). although it was great catching up with cousins i hadn’t spoken to in a while (in person, that is) and seeing my grandma, it just wasn’t the same as it was even five years ago. for one thing, about ten family members didn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts or a personal issue within the family. also, my eldest aunt had passed away earlier in the year so her absence was palpable.

the title of this post is from a one direction song – yes, i’m a directioner. night changes discusses how things can change so quickly, and we notice this more as we grow older. i’m not as close to my cousins as i once was – and, distance can be one reason – so the family gatherings that i am able to attend can be awkward as we try to make small talk. i also wasn’t able to enjoy the food as much because i was helping to take care of the children, and making sure that they eat. this, of course, means that i can’t properly eat. i was still hungry even after devouring most of the food on my plate.

still, i’m glad that dennis and i made it work. bringing children anywhere is a challenge but we rose to the occasion!

did you know home depot hosts a kids’ workshop the first saturday of every month? my friend had told me about it but i had forgotten about it until i was notified through a weekly events page through hulafrog. this past saturday, home depot had a ‘make your own gingerbread house’ workshop where kids use a hammer and nails to construct their own gingerbread house.

it was a huge hit! people were spread out everywhere to assemble the houses, and a woman next to us commented how this was the biggest crowd she had seen for the kids’ workshop. i guess the holiday spirit had the people out in droves.

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eating a cracker while posing

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setting the nail in place

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looking over the instructions

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first time using a hammer!

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people kept coming!

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finding a spot

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the finished masterpiece

as for christmas, it will only get more enjoyable as the children get older. penny’s favorite christmas song is “jingle bells” and she loves to laugh during the “laughing all the way” line as well as shouting out “hey!” during the song. she also hung up a few ornaments on the tree as ezra watched.

now that we finally have our tree up, i am just waiting for our new family stockings to arrive. i ordered personalized ones from pottery barn kids and they are on their way. another thing that is in transit are our family pajamas. i’m not sure we’ll be able to create and send out a christmas card in time this year. i’ve been wanting to take pictures of the kids in front of the fireplace but i have been waiting on the stockings. if anything, we won’t be able to have christmas cards made in nice cardstock because express shipping will be so expensive. i do want to commemorate ezra’s first christmas so i will have to have something made!

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one of the elementary schools in my town is teamed up with frc (family resource center), and they host a playgroup on friday mornings. i recently began bringing penny so now we have an activity every weekday to keep us preoccupied. it’s very similar to the library playgroup where there is a storytime, extension activities, and free play. what’s different is that snack is also offered and the children sit together at the end of the playgroup to eat.

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making a snow-covered tree using q-tips and white paint

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decorating mittens

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night changes

We’re only getting older, baby
And I’ve been thinking about it lately
Does it ever drive you crazy
Just how fast the night changes?
Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of
Disappearing when you wake up
But there’s nothing to be afraid of
Even when the night changes
It will never change, me and you

 

ezra’s tutti frutti party

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it was hard getting him to smile for this photo

ezra’s 100th day party has come and gone; now we can all relax. the night before, dennis and i stayed up until 2am cleaning and organizing the house (him) and putting together last-minute details & decor (me). we knew we still had a lot to do in the morning (and still take care of two kids) so we tried to get as much as done as we could before heading off to bed. what helped was that ezra didn’t wake up until 6:30am! he slept his longest stretch yet: 11 hours straight. what a wonderful gift! even penny ended up being tired enough to sleep in until 8am. that was a great way to start the day.

 

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initially i had a different theme in mind for ezra’s party but the details and decor were turning out to be too elaborate so i saved it for his first birthday! (you will have to wait until then to see what it is.) plus, i had chosen a bright yellow lemon invitation from paperless post for ezra’s party so i wanted to stick with a fruit theme. while i love the trendy minimalistic / modern look that is so popular these days, the bright color scheme for the ‘tutti frutti’ was perfect for a mid-summer party.

it’s been two years since penny’s 100th day party so i will share briefly on the history of the 100th day celebration. back in the olden days when infant mortality rate was high, if babies lived to be 100 days it was thought that they had a very good rate for survival into adulthood. of course this doesn’t apply anymore as korea has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world (especially the women) but the celebration still continues partly due to tradition but mostly for enjoyment purposes.

dennis was in charge of ordering the food. he decided to have restaurant bricco in west hartford cater, and we were very pleased with the decision. guests raved about the food and came back for seconds and thirds. my parents also brought tang soo yook (deep-fried sweet & sour pork) and beef bulgogi from their restaurant, and everyone loved those as well.

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a big staple in korean cuisine is ddeok, rice cakes, and these are important in celebratory events such as birthdays and weddings. it is known as “the food of the gods” and is usually a food that is shared. for the 100th day celebration, it is believed that if 100 pieces of ddeok are consumed by the guests, the baby will have bountiful luck. my mil brought homemade ddeok, lovingly prepared by a grandma from our church.

(the ddeok cake with raisins spelling out “baek il”, or “100 days” along with the 3 different kinds of round ddeok can be seen in the table display photos.)

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as for dessert, i had planned on ordering cupcakes from nora cupcake company in west hartford. as is the case for many bakeries, their “regular” cupcakes are huge. i wanted to minimize waste and also make the cupcakes kid-friendly so i chose the mini cupcakes (which actually aren’t really that small). the price for 40 mini cupcakes came out to over $106! i understand these are gourmet cupcakes but that price is ridiculous. i decided to bake my own cupcakes as well as a cake. inspired by one of nora’s cupcake flavors, i settled on fruit loops cupcakes and cake. perfect, right? the actual cake part was funfetti cake mix for the festive colors.

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for the decorations, i turned to trusty pinterest for inspirational ideas. one pin led to a blog that had a fruit garland available for download. the creator suggested printing the fruit on ‘photo paper’ option (even though you will actually print them on card stock) so the colors would be bold and bright. as suggested, they printed beautifully. after cutting out each fruit carefully, i taped each piece onto twine.

*note: the pieces of fruit may flip over if there isn’t enough weight to the card stock. i had to tape some of the fruit pieces onto the tablecloth to prevent this.

i noticed on an event planning website that brightly colored poms in various sizes were used for a backdrop so i decided to incorporate those as well. i was stuck on what to do for the wall. i thought about using the window & shade in our kitchen for the backdrop but the sun sets in that direction causing light to filter in through the shade. i didn’t want to just use our wall either because the paint is an off-white color and wouldn’t look as nice as a bright white background. then i remembered we had a roll of faux wood bulletin board paper that we had used for penny’s cake smash so we opted to use that instead.

one detail that was spontaneous was the letterboard. this has made a comeback in recent days and is no longer just for churches and businesses. many people use these in their homes to write funny and/or inspirational messages as part of their home decor. while i was at joann fabrics to buy other materials, i stumbled upon a letterboard display and decided to purchase one with a white background along with large mint letters for a splash of color. it added such a nice touch to our 100th day table display, and i know we will continue to use it in our home.

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a detail that took up too much of my time were the “fruit” plates. to make the plates appear like fruit, i cut out seeds from black and white adhesive vinyl. there was a listing on etsy that sold 96 seeds in either black or white but i wouldn’t receive them in time. plus, they were $9.00. i would have to purchase about 4 (two in each color) to make sure there were enough. in the end, i stacked the plates so that every other one had the seeds on them. even though it was a lot of work, i still enjoyed making them and they turned out really cute.

my only regret, and there is always one, is that we didn’t take more pictures during the party. i had wanted to take more family photos with ezra but we didn’t get the chance. i don’t even have pictures of most of the guests! i also felt bad about pulling people away to take pictures but i still should have tried! he was sleeping for the first half of the party and then took another nap towards the end. he was passed around like a doll but he did so well! penny started getting more nervous with each arriving guest, so my mil took her down to the playroom to play and she ended up warming up to everyone later on.

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grandma lee feeding ezra

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dennis encouraging will to splash ryan with the hose

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poor will caught in the crossfire!

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lucky penny got to open up ezra’s gifts. she had one, too!

we took pictures with the grandparents the following day

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for ezra’s first birthday, i plan on having a friend take pictures so i don’t miss out on the actual party. usually i don’t mind taking pictures, but i miss out on a lot of opportunities to be in them because i’m the one behind the camera. i’d like to be in the pictures with my children, too. we still have some time before we have to think about planning for ezra’s birthday (much to dennis’ relief) so i won’t worry about that for now.

 

 

christmas tree canvas art

for one of our holiday-themed activities, penny and i created a christmas tree using washable paint on canvas.

penny loves to paint (mostly to feel the squishy paint between her fingers). i hid her paint set because she would ask every day for me to open them. i felt bad about hiding them but it can be a hassle setting everything up for her to only have her paint for a few minutes and then wander off with paint all over her body.

when i do come up with projects, i mostly do them after dinner so when we are finished she can go right into the bath tub. it also helps if someone else is around like dennis or my mil.

i came up with the christmas tree art myself. i have leftover contact paper from when i made a faux marble countertop for penny’s play kitchen so i figured i could use that to create a christmas tree template.

first, i unrolled the contact paper over the canvas to see how much i would need. after cutting the paper, i placed it over the canvas so i could draw an outline of a christmas tree. i also used a sharpie.

then, i carefully cut out the tree (save it for later!) and then peeled off the adhesive backing from the “scrap paper” (or the white space of the tree). i lined up the contact paper with the canvas. i pressed the paper down, smoothed it out, and wrapped the edges around the canvas.

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penny had fun smearing green paint all over the canvas. it didn’t matter that it got on the contact paper because the paint didn’t get underneath it. while my mil gave penny a bath, i carefully peeled off the contact paper and viola – an evergreen tree! i let it dry overnight and placed it on the windowsill out of penny’s reach.

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for the next part of the project, i peeled off the adhesive backing from the tree cutout that i had saved and placed it right over the tree. using sky blue paint, penny painted the background. again, the contact paper helped preserve the picture. thankfully dennis was around to help me with this part.

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then i had penny glue on colorful poms to represent christmas lights. initially i had white glue on a plate and gave penny a paintbrush to randomly paint glue on the tree. this didn’t work because penny was just dabbing glue on and the poms wouldn’t stick. i ended up helping her paint glue on and place the poms on the tree. (i have poms with adhesive backings that would’ve been perfect but i let penny play with them months ago so they’re not sticky anymore. if you can find poms like those, that would be ideal. i had gotten them from target around easter so the downside was that they’re pastel-colored – not exactly christmas light-material.)

for the final touch, i cut out the gold glitter star and glued that on.

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using contact paper on canvas inspired me to do more art projects with penny using these two materials. dennis and i decided on a woodland theme for our baby boy’s nursery and sprinkle so i’m going to create artwork depicting woodland creatures. i can have penny help by having her paint on the body of the animals (with the help of cutouts) and i can do the finer details like the facial features.

the goal is to have four animal canvases and maybe i’ll make some others with just evergreen trees. i really liked how the christmas tree looked before having all the decorations put on it – it was simple and had more of a rustic feel.the sprinkle is about two months away and i know it’ll approach quickly so i hope to get a start on these next art projects soon!

for a more low-key art activity, penny painted white snow onto blue paper to create a landscape. then she placed holiday-themed stickers on the paper. in hindsight i would’ve used dark blue paper for the white paint to show up more.

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we’ve had 3 snow days so far but have yet to venture out in it. one of the reasons is because all of penny’s snow gear is wrapped up under the tree, but it’s also too cold! i’m sure there will be more snow once christmas is over so we will get to play outdoors. we also live near an elementary school and our backyard faces the hilly field so we will have to buy a sled soon.

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i had to take yuri out for a walk while penny napped

penny had fun playing with fake snow at her toddler class last week. it’s a material called “insta-snow” that the instructor purchased on amazon. it’s cold (though not as ice cold as real snow) and fluffy. it was amazing to see it transform into snow once water was poured onto it.

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snowman collage using glue and cutouts

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first time playing with shaving cream!

i had penny touch snow for the first time when she was about 8 months old and she hated it – too cold! it’ll be interesting to see her reaction this winter.

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23 weeks!

celebrate good times

there have been many things to celebrate recently – two weddings and a first birthday party. although both weddings occurred in october i haven’t had the time nor energy (mostly energy) to organize and edit photos for a blog post.

the so family leaves for maryland tomorrow for a family vacation and that’ll be another post in itself when we return; so if i don’t post the wedding and birthday pictures i’ll never get around to them.

on october 15, we attended our friends’, alice and john’s, wedding. dennis was the best man and penny was the flower girl. we were nervous about penny walking down the aisle since she still is so young. i brought her lovey and lots of snacks to help coax her down the aisle, but in the end all it took was one cracker. i did try having her walk down by herself but she was understandably nervous with everyone’s eyes on her. in hindsight i wish i had walked ahead of her so i wasn’t in any of the photos. but we are just relieved she didn’t cry or run away.

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my friend, katie, captured us walking down the aisle

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matron of honor and best man 🙂

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traditional korean ceremony “paebaek”

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what’s a wedding without some photobooth fun?

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alice & john’s rehearsal dinner / ethan’s 100th day

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family photo

penny also only attended the ceremony. my mil took her back for her nap and dennis and i moved on to the reception. we were able to enjoy ourselves more not having to chase penny around, keep her entertained, and trying to feed her at the table. eternally grateful to have dennis’ parents nearby.

the next wedding was for esther and tony on october 29. they are our friends from church so john was in attendance too (two weeks after his own wedding!) but alice had to work. interestingly enough, both weddings we attended were morning weddings. i’m fairly certain i have never been to a morning wedding before. the best part about a morning wedding is you still have time to relax when you get home. in both cases actually dennis and i ended up passing out earlier than usual.

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16 weeks pregnant in this photo

it was lovely having an excuse to get dressed up and go out. dennis and i had been long overdue for a night out so those two weddings were a great way for us to enjoy time with friends without worrying about a baby. although we had fun, we were so tired that we just looked forward to going home!

many of my friends had babies in 2015 so there were a lot of first birthday parties this year. i attended the final one for this year this past sunday in massachusetts. thankfully, my mil was able to watch penny and i made the 1.5 hour drive each way to celebrate bowdin’s first year of life.

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cute touches by the crafty mama

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min MADE these forever cacti favors..

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she chose the stethoscope!

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dr. gianforti

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homemade cake along with felt flower toppers min made herself

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such a good idea to use pearls!

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yes, homemade cupcakes too

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the birthday party was fun and it was so cute to see all the of the special details my friend, min, put into it. best of all, it’s over! it’s always a relief when the first birthday is done and over with… all those months of planning..

min lives in maine so i rarely see her. the last time i saw her was at penny’s first birthday back in may. i hope someday we can make it work where our little girls can play while the mommies catch up. someday soon.

 

 

 

fourth of july weekend

happy birthday, usa!

the us celebrated its 240th birthday on monday.  july 4, 1776 – when the united states achieved independence from the tea-sipping brits. it’s actually quite surprising how relatively young our country is (although it really has been around for many, many years). i’m proud to be raising penny in the states where it is still seen as the land of opportunity and the land of hope. the world is moving at at even faster pace with life-changing inventions and innovations. it’s an amazing time to be alive, and i can’t wait for penny to take full advantage of what life has to offer us.

with that said, i was eagerly anticipating this year’s 4th of july because we had planned a family outing to elizabeth park in hartford. the rose garden, a very popular spot for pictures and picnics, is still very much in bloom, and penny is currently loving to touch everything particularly flowers, leaves, and pine needles.

after penny’s last nap, we drove down to hartford with the in-laws to have dinner at ichiban, a korean-japanese restaurant. penny did well (for a while) sitting in the high chair because she was busy looking around to check out other people and the restaurant itself. when she got fidgety, my mil took her to look at the fish in the fish tank and that kept her preoccupied while the rest of us finished our dinner. it takes a village!

afterwards, we went to elizabeth park to walk around and take pictures. we tried to recreate a picture of dennis and his brother, dan, (when they were around 2 and 4 years old)  sitting in front of the flowers by placing penny in the same spot but she wasn’t in the mood to take pictures. we had to sing a few songs to get her attention but she didn’t really smile. oh well.

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she did, however, enjoy walking around (with our assistance) and even ran a few times. she also surprised us by standing on her own for about ten seconds or more on a few occasions. she was afraid though so we helped her sit down. xD after walking around the rose garden, we enjoyed watermelon and cantaloupe before checking out the ducks in the pond. penny started getting fussy so we knew she was tired.

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after we got home and penny was in bed, the rest of us enjoyed cake that i made for my fil’s birthday. his actual birthday is on the 8th but we decided to celebrate it early since my mil works that day until 6pm. in korean culture, the 70th birthday is a huge milestone. (it used to be 60 but since life expectancy is longer than ever before, the age changed to 70.) my fil is more of a private person and keeps to himself so he definitely didn’t want a fancy gala – he just wanted a low-key dinner with us. we are hoping dan and crystal will be able to come up from maryland this upcoming weekend to help celebrate his actual birthday together. we know it’s tough for them to take time out of their schedule to come visit (even though they wish they could!) since crystal is taking two summer classes and dan is busy with church, but we hope we see them, at least, once this summer!

*edit – dan and crystal ARE coming up this weekend~ hooray!

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a former colleague shared a recipe for blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream (from a blog) and i decided to make that. i LOVE lemon and it sounded like a perfect summer cake. it turned out even better than i had expected – the recipe is definitely a keeper! i hope you enjoy it as much as we did 🙂