the merry month of may

we spent part of mother’s day weekend in boston. (we as in penny, ezra, and me. dennis had to work 9-1 on saturday so he didn’t join us.) the kids and I left connecticut friday morning shortly after breakfast – thankfully, there wasn’t any traffic. i admit, i was anxious about having the kids to myself almost the entire weekend. but, i really wasn’t alone because my parents were around until 3pm on friday, and then I was alone with the kids from post-nap until my bedtime.

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Ezra actually blew a few bubbles on his own!

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penny loves running in my parents’ back yard

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Ezra likes playing with anything that makes noise: in this case, pistachios

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he was amused by what was on tv

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enjoying some ice cream

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the main reason for going up was to attend a dohl, a Korean first birthday, on saturday. i figured my parents would be busy with the restaurant but i’m really happy the kids and i were able to spend some time with them that weekend.

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he chose the sharpie!

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birthday boy with the proud parents

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praying before the meal

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mesmerized by the balloon artist

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the bedtime routine was kind of a struggle since I had to bathe both kids and do separate bedtime routines. it wouldn’t be so bad if penny cooperated a little bit more. lately, ezra wants to get out of the bathtub after about 5 minutes or so while penny has always loved bath time. since I was alone, I had to coax penny out of there since I can’t leave her alone in the tub.

my mom offered to watch ezra while penny and I went to the dohl on saturday. right as we were about to leave, penny had a massive nosebleed. she really doesn’t get nosebleeds that often but I did notice her picking at nose while she was using the iPad. I think she was more scared of the reaction my mom and I had when we saw her face. it was like a scene from the movie, carrie: her face was just dripping blood; the lower half of her face was bright red.

we tried to stop the bleeding by pinching her nose but she kept screaming and crying, most likely because she didn’t know to breathe through her mouth. I was really getting worried about the flow, and my mom was looking up the nearest hospital when it finally ceased. penny had spat out a glob of blood and that had stopped the bleeding.

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she was really scared and upset.

I considered not going to the party since I felt bad my mom would have to watch both children, but mom insisted I attend. however, penny piped up saying she wanted to go (birthdays = cake), so I ended up bringing her since she had recovered from the bloodbath (yikes!)

penny had a really great time especially since there were was a face painting artist and a balloon artist. she didn’t get her face painted (I didn’t ask if she wanted to because I figured it would smudge during nap time) but she did get a balloon princess wand. she also didn’t eat much of the food -sigh- but she had a bunch of fruit, green tea ice cream, cake, and a package of salted seaweed that I had brought.

penny actually ended up napping when we got home even though it was after 2pm. thankfully, Ezra napped too (he’s been fighting his second nap hardcore for the past month) so I was able to sleep!

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Ezra loves giving high-fives!

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picking flowers in the rain with auntie

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favorite toy: any ball

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eating tang soo yook: deep-fried sweet & sour pork

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the wonder of bubbles

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we drove back home after Ezra’s first nap on Sunday morning. we got home just after noon (time for lunch!) and Dennis had made French toast cannoli rolls for us to eat. they were sweet and savory – penny liked them too because of the mini chocolate chips. i also received a bouquet of flowers, a cake stand from Joanna & Chip’s brand, Hearth & Hand, and Joanna Gaines’ new cookbook, magnolia kitchen. all of the recipes sound tempting so I am excited to attempt to make every single dish.

for Mother’s Day, we took my in-laws out to dinner at a Korean bbq restaurant. we like going there because the kids love Korean food, and we get to sit in a room so we don’t have to worry about the little ones running around in the restaurant if they want to get out of their seats.

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so much is happening these days – I still have the book club that I had started back in January but I’ve been putting that on the back burner with all the family birthdays that have been going on! luckily, after penny’s birthday, it’ll be quiet for some time. my dad’s birthday is in June but I’m assuming I won’t be (fully) be in charge of planning a party.

I’ve also been trying to rebrand my instagram, but I’m still at a loss on what I want to focus on. I did want to do affordable mom fashion, but it’s pretty tough figuring out outfits in advance and having someone there to take photos. Dennis takes 99% of my instagram photos but it’s hard to get pictures taken during the weekdays since he’s at work. I would still like to share photos of my kids from time to time, too. I’m still trying to  figure it all out while also creating a specific “look” to my pictures so my feed is more cohesive.

what is exciting is that I have been in touch with a few companies that have reached out to collaborate. I’m waiting on a top to come so I can try it on and share it on Instagram. in the next few weeks, I hope to be sharing some of these collaborations with my followers.

goals for next post(s): penny’s birthday and nyc trip.

life with two

two kids: two years old & two months old.

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people usually have their children close in age to one another so that they can be friends. they also have multiple children with the notion that it will be fun. but… when does the fun begin? okay, i guess i’m being dramatic but it sure is hard when your little ones are… just that, little. raising two kids is slowly becoming more enjoyable as dennis and i have gotten into the groove by tag-teaming and implementing consistent yet still flexible schedules.

ezra is still too young to have a set schedule like penny’s but, like i’ve said countless times before, it’s never too early to start. i already see a big difference in his daily routine because i follow the eat/play/sleep schedule and feed him enough calories during the day to have longer night sleep.  like penny, we incorporate bath time into ezra’s nightly bedtime routine. they both love water so being immersed in its warmth helps them relax (although penny is as energetic as ever) as well as signal to them that bedtime is near.

ezra has been consistent with doing a good 5~5.5 hour stretch of sleep before waking up again to feed. then, he will usually sleep for another 4~5 hours. he has been going to bed between 8~9pm lately. two nights ago, he slept for 7.5 hours straight! most babies his age have a later “bedtime” of closer to 10 or even 11pm. we like putting him down earlier so we can have time to ourselves and also so that we don’t have to gradually push his bedtime to what it is now later on when he’s older. plus, his evening naps aren’t so great so by that time he’s overtired and ready to pass out.

penny usually takes a bath around 7pm (6:30 if her nap ended earlier) so ezra usually takes a bath around then or a half hour later. it’s just easier to get both kids down at the same time – i normally do penny’s bedtime routine while dennis does ezra’s. then we will briefly gather to give the kids a chance to say good night to another (and us) and give kisses.

because of the two year sleep regression, penny’s been fighting her nap and bedtime. she will eventually fall asleep for her nap but sometimes she will play for an hour! this results in a late bedtime, sometimes close to 9pm! i religiously refer to babysleepsite.com for advice and it says to keep up with the daily bedtime routine – don’t change the times or drop the nap because this, too, shall pass. it really is obvious that penny is exhausted.. even with her falling asleep so late at night, she will wake up a few times during the night  and  have an early wake-up. last night she fell asleep close to 9pm and woke up this morning at 6:30am! you bet she was a hot mess around 11am! she passed out almost right away during her 12:30pm naptime.

i’m just really grateful that penny is a rather agreeable toddler in the sense that she may try to delay sleep lately but she doesn’t put up a fight with us (e.g climbing out of her crib or running away when we announce it’s nap/bedtime.) she does try to get us to read “one more book” so we won’t have to leave the room but if we tell her “that’s enough” she walks over to us. it seems as if she’s starting to get afraid of the dark – something that toddlers develop around this age even if they previously weren’t afraid – because she’ll cry until we go into her room. we turned the night light on her camera and she stopped crying right away. she’s asleep now (thankfully before 9pm!)

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now that penny’s 100% better, her appetite has returned somewhat. she did have 3 canines break through around the same time so they, along with her illness, most likely affected her eating habits. i find myself being much more patient and tolerant around penny now. this may be because her behavior has markedly improved – again, now that her teeth broke through. there are times where she can still be clingy, whiny, and disagreeable but there are much less instances now, and that’s typical toddler behavior anyway. she has so much charm that it’s difficult to stay upset at her for long. my mil even laughs and says, “how can you stay mad when she acts so cute?” it’s so true.. but it’s so bad because i feel like we enable her naughty behavior if we laugh. i still try my hardest to be firm with her and have consequences for her poor choices.

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she loves onions and brussels sprouts

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adorable juicy couture outfit from alice + john

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she knows how to pose!

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cooling down during the heat wave

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ethan’s 1st birthday party

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birthday boy with ezra

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too much excitement

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can’t say no to cupcakes

out for a walk with grandpa – 6/15

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i used the glink for the first time – what an amazing double stroller!! can’t say enough good things about it!

this week, i started working on getting back in shape. i didn’t exercise once during my pregnancy besides taking walks so attempting to go for a jog on monday night was torturous. my legs felt like lead and my lungs were straining to take in air. i kept at it however by doing a brisk pace/jog combo and eventually built up a bit of endurance. last night i ran ten laps on the indoor track at the gym. since i arrived around 9:15pm, there was only one other person at the track and he was shooting hoops.

being consistent and motivated to work out is a struggle… which i’m sure so many people deal with on a daily basis. of course i would much rather sleep.. or veg out on the couch but i am always going to be tired so i can’t use that as an excuse. my goal is to lose 10 lb because i never lose the last 5 with penny and i still have 5 from ezra as well. additionally, i want to be tone and gain muscle back. i’m considering buying free weights on days i don’t go to the gym. ahhhhhh, i don’t wannaaaa……

excuse my little outburst there.. there’s always so much to do and so little time. ezra’s 100th day is quickly approaching so i need to start planning for that! he officially is 100 days old on july 20th so we chose the 22nd as the celebration date. now we need to work on the guest list and food.

but for now.. sleep.

and.. a happy 27th (!) birthday s/o to my not-so-little brother, james. he’s living in cali now so i can’t see him but some of his friends flew out to celebrate with him. have a blast!

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.

 

 

 

happy 1st birthday, penny

it’s done! it’s over! all those months of endless planning… finding ideas on pinterest… crafting during penny’s naps and bedtime… fretting over the tiniest details… they are no more. and honestly, it makes me kind of sad. my friend, jennie, celebrated her daughter’s first birthday this past sunday. her baby girl, kaylee, and penny, were born on the same day: 5/15/15. unfortunately since they reside on the west coast we weren’t able to attend each other’s parties. but we discussed them in full length last night after we had somewhat recovered from the weekend festivities. we both agreed that we were enormously relieved that it was all over… but we felt a piece of us was missing.. what is our purpose now? haha.. jennie said we are crazy, and i guess i would have to agree.

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before the party, two things that had worried us the most were the weather and how penny would sleep in an unfamiliar place. there was no rain date and we absolutely would not have been able to comfortably accommodate all the guests indoors especially since we had rented a photo booth. the event was held at my parents’ house and everything was set up in the backyard. turns out, the weather and penny’s sleep were the least of our worries. saturday ended up being in the mid-to-high 70s and sunny and penny slept on her own, no problem.

what we didn’t take into account was that penny would get sick. she started showing symptoms around wednesday afternoon after her last nap. she woke up with flushed cheeks and was fussy. later, she started feeling really warm and had a fever of 102.2. her fever went up and down the next several days and she also had diarrhea. tylenol seemed to help her immensely and she continued to sleep well albeit in pain (we could hear her moaning and crying a little in her sleep.)

we packed up most of the car on thursday night since we were going to head up to boston on friday after her morning nap. she did great on the 1.5 hour drive – all smiles – so we were hopeful that she was getting better. the tylenol wore off and she still didn’t have much of an appetite – we kept trying to make her drink milk, water, and pedialyte. we had to wake her up from her first nap away from home and she was not happy. she hadn’t improved by saturday so we let her sleep as long as she wanted for her first nap – it ended up being 3 hours – while we started setting up for the party.

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even though she wasn’t feeling well, she enjoyed taking walks outside.

a positive note from that morning was that dennis received a very special surprise: his brother, dan, and wife, crystal, flew in from maryland that morning just to attend penny’s birthday. dan, crystal, and i had known for 2 months that they were flying up for the day. i ended up telling dennis’s mom so that she and my fil could come up to boston a little early to spend time with dan and crystal too. she’s good at keeping secrets.. dennis’ dad, not so much. xP

we definitely needed their presence too because we all seriously underestimated how much time we would need to set up for the party. we began around 10am when penny fell asleep for her nap and were still scrambling to finish as guests began to arrive a few minutes before 3pm. even though my sister and her boyfriend, brendan, had arrived around 11 to help we were still backed up! we are talking 8 adults here…(dennis’ parents arrived around noon.) after penny woke up at 1pm, dennis’ mom took care of her while the rest of us ran around like chickens with our heads cut off..eesh. i hate the feeling of not being ready so my stress level was on high that day.

since we were so concerned about penny’s well-being i feel like we didn’t get to mingle with the guests as much. dennis and i also forgot to do some of the things we had planned because we were trying to rush everything like photos, doljabi, and the cake while she was in a good mood. granted, she probably would’ve been overwhelmed even if she was 100% because of how many people were there but being sick made it worse. she did a total 180 when dennis and i took her inside so she could eat dinner away from the crowd. we also just let her sit in her diaper and she was much happier… the hanbok that she was wearing was stiff and hot and that had made her even crankier. her mood improved drastically after a full belly and we were able to take her outdoors for the “happy birthday” song and she even took a few swipes at the cake and ate the frosting.

we are waiting for the photographs to be ready… in the meantime we were looking at the photo booth pictures and photos that people took with their phones. in hindsight, yeah, we could have always made it better… but i am grateful that the weather was perfect, everyone had a great time, and penny ended up feeling better near the end.

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we waited to open the gifts the next day

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spending some time with grandpa lee before going home

now that my life isn’t consumed with planning penny’s birthday,  i can catch up on eating (i hadn’t been eating well, or enough the last month or so.. basically just shoving food in my mouth or skipping meals altogether so i could focus on penny’s birthday projects) and taking care of myself because i let all that go out the window. dennis and i are going to aruba for a destination wedding in a few weeks and i haven’t been to the gym since i went ONCE in punta cana back in january. is a beach body even feasible in two weeks’ time? probably not.. but i could, at least, start going so i can be “ready” for this summer. maybe tonight…

in any case, dennis and i are looking forward to making weekend trips to boston this summer. now that we know penny’s a good sleeper even when she’s not at home (hopefully, it wasn’t a fluke) we are even more excited for the summer! i think it helped that she was in her own room on the third floor while the rest of us slept on the second. plus, we brought everything from home that she’s used to like her white noise, bedtime books, and this fisher price puppy that plays lullabies. we did the same routine during naps and bedtime and she did fabulously. it was her first time sleeping in the pack ‘n play as well. we bought a mattress for it so she’d be comfortable as the thin pad that comes with it isn’t really suitable for sleep. she goes in the pack ‘n play now and then while we prep food in the kitchen but she had never slept in it before. we couldn’t be happier with our sleeping beauty!

diy cake smash photo shoot

when you have a baby, the costs keep adding up. there are the necessary everyday items like diapers, but then there are also optional luxuries such as having professional photos done for your child. like many parents, we opted to do the newborn photo shoot because 1) we wanted high-quality images of penny, and 2) we didn’t mind splurging for our first child. (i’d like to think we’d be as generous with our subsequent children.)

dennis and i didn’t truly appreciate the work that photographers go through for the newborn photo shoot until we were at the studio. i mean, how hard could it be taking pictures of a sleeping newborn? thing is, newborns don’t sleep all the time and they have to be asleep for certain poses. our photographer cranked the heat up in the studio and was constantly feeding penny so she’d be sleepy and full. also, babies are diaperless during these photos so you can imagine what a lot of milk and no diapers can do during picture time!

as much as we love the newborn photos and now know how much work goes into baby photo shoots, we still couldn’t justify paying upwards of $700+ for the cake smash session. a baby’s first birthday is a significant occasion in general but in the korean culture, it is a huge deal. with the big guest list, traditional tie-ins such as the doljabi and hanbok, entertainment for the younger crowd, favors, and food the final total can go into the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands (eek!) in the end, we asked our friend, john, who has a really nice canon to take family photos and pictures of penny for her cake smash. that left dennis and i to arrange the “home studio.”

we chose the basement aka penny’s playroom for the space because it’s spacious and has a lot of natural light. fyi, natural light is your best friend. it’s okay to use both natural and artificial light but, if possible, you want to take photos near big picture windows to ensure the photos come out their absolute best. we chose to have penny’s photo session take place around 3:30pm (after her last nap so she has a long window of awake time). we also decided to use the wall facing the windows for optimal light since the sun sets in that direction.

word of advice: have, at least, one other person present during the photo shoot. i recommend two people though. while the photographer (could be you) is taking pictures of the baby, there needs to be someone distracting the baby by making noises and trying to make them smile and face the camera. also, when you’re doing multiple outfit changes it helps to have extra hands to do the job super quick. while john took the photos, his wife, alice, helped set up the different backdrops. remember: your baby will get agitated sooner or later so you have to make sure you allow plenty of time, but also give yourselves a break! we stopped for a short while so penny could have some milk – don’t forget, they’ll be hungry so have snacks and milk ready!

also, the photo shoot could take more than one day. i ended up taking pictures of penny with my iphone 6 a few days later so i could have more pictures of her, smiling. during the original photo shoot whenever dennis and i made noises for her to smile, she’d end up looking at us. thankfully, dennis’ mom came over to help with wardrobe changes and using props to get penny’s attention. these pictures turned out great too! i was worried about the quality of the iphone photos but i think the natural light helped immensely. all of the photos of her smiling were taken with my iphone!

okay, onto to the preparation of the home studio. i did a lot of research and saw that people purchased a big roll of bulletin board paper or craft paper for the backdrop. some used white (blank canvas and makes the photos super bright) while others opted for colored backgrounds. dennis and i went to jo-ann fabrics to see what we could find and we were pumped to see that they had a faux wood bulletin board paper! the ones that some people were using were 52 inches wide and ours was 48. just a few inches short but the width does make a difference because it determines how close/far you can take your pictures since you don’t want the wall to show. try to make sure you can find a width that’s 48 inches or more.

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make sure you tape the backdrop up high and without cutting it, roll it out so the floor is covered too.

i made the ‘one’ banner and hung it low so it would show in the picture. have a few decorations and/or banners on hand so you can have a variety of “looks.” i saved a fringe banner from last year’s baby shower, made the ‘one’ banner, bought balloons, and saved paper fans from my baby shower and penny’s 100th day celebration.

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how it looks close-up

 

for the smash cake, i decided to make a giant cupcake. i purchased a giant cupcake pan from amazon and it’s around $15.

i referred to this blog post, and it was really helpful. the only thing i have to gripe about is how much cake batter was left over. the ingredients ask for 2 boxes of yellow cake mix and you end up using about half, maybe a little more. i suppose you could just make more cake or cupcakes with it but after spending all morning making and prepping the smash cake i didn’t even want to eat the remnants.

anyway, if you don’t feel like opening up another link i’ll post the ingredients here:

ingredients and supplies

  • 2 Boxes of Yellow Cake Mix
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Package Jello-O Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 c. oil
  • 2 c. water
  • giant cupcake mold
  • cooking spray
  • glass bowl
  • hand mixer
  • 1 lb. candy melts
  • long knife
  • 2 cans of frosting or homemade buttercream frosting (i opted to make frosting – recipe in included in post.)
  • *food coloring (only if you’re making the frosting – i used wilton)

i poured 2.5 cups of batter in the cone portion (left side) and 3.5 cups in the bottom part of the cupcake (right side).

when it’s done, let them cool in pan for 15 minutes and transfer over to a wire rack to cool completely.

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after they cool, level the raised parts of both the cone and the bottom portion of the cupcake. the bottom photo was taken before i did that. notice how the cone isn’t perfect? i used frosting later on to cover it up and faced that part away from the camera.

with the knife, you also want to slice off the ridges of the bottom part so that it fits into the candy mold later on. you will see what i’m talking about in the next picture.

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this candy mold for the bottom part of the cupcake is optional but it has a much better presentation than if the cupcake was just shown with the cake bottom.

the blog post says to put the candy melts (most of the bag) in a microwaveable bowl and melt the candy for 30 seconds in 3 intervals. i found that two times sufficed for me because the candy was too watery the third time around and wouldn’t coat the sides of the pan to create a thick shell.

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i purchased these from party city

after the candy is melted, pour it into the bottom part of the cupcake mold and make sure to coat the sides. if it looks too thin, you may need to harden the candy and try melting it again. i learned that the hard way. after refrigerating the shell for 40 minutes, i saw that it was way too thin to even take out of the mold so i had to scrape the shell off and redo it.

okay, so after the melted candy is in the mold put it in the fridge for, at least, 40 minutes so that it’s solid. then, turn the mold upside down and gently tap it… it should slide out easily!

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see how the candy walls are thick?

then, gently place the bottom part of the cupcake (with the ridges sliced off) into the mold. i had to keep taking the cupcake out to trim it even more because it was too big to fit into the mold. keep playing around with it.

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ta-da! it finally fit! see how much better the cupcake looks with a candy mold???

after i finished making the frosting, i put in one drop of the pink food coloring. the color i desired was a light pink so i wanted to start off slowly. be aware that food coloring can deepen over time so you want to start with one drop and then slowly add more. you can always make the frosting darker but you would need to add (and then make more) frosting to make it lighter. i only ended up using two drops!

here is the recipe for the frosting, borders & writing (if you’re into all that). i got it from my baking instructor.

icing

  • 1/2 c. crisco
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 4 tb. warm water
  • 1 lb. domino 10x confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbs. corn starch

mix everything but sugar and corn starch.

add sugar slowly, and then corn starch. mix until smooth.

add food coloring drop by drop.

 

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IMG_6036and, viola! i took a cake decorating class at jo-ann fabrics a few years ago. sadly, i forget most of the techniques but the rosette is not hard to do at all. i just practiced a few of them on the plastic pad that i got with my decorating kit.

*note: if you want bigger rosettes, you want to use a bigger tip. mine took a while to do and the frosting was hard to squeeze out because i had used a lot of powdered sugar. more sugar, more stiffness.

please give yourself plenty of time to bake the cake, make the frosting, and set it up. ideally, it would be best to do the photo shoot in the afternoon so your child is well-rested and you have more time to get ready. dennis took care of penny in the morning but i still got up around 7am to prep and bake the cake. i was still working on it three hours later! i also didn’t put the frosting on until a half hour before the shoot, and we took pictures of it during penny’s nap.

it’s kind of sad to see your hard work get destroyed, but hey, it’s a cake smash! i admit, it was fun to see penny get mystified by the cake and then hesitantly touch it. she didn’t go all out as we had hoped but we still got some good pictures!

remember to have fun… and relax!

enjoy the pictures!

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let go, and let God

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d-18 until penny’s party! i think it’s safe to say that the majority of 2016 was spent agonizing over the details of penny’s first birthday. for the most part, i’ve completed the dol towers – all 3 of them – but i still need to do the tops. i need a break from those for now, and there are other pressing matters that i need to attend to.

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for instance, this saturday my friend, mouy, and i were going to make a day trip up to boston to drop some decor off at my parents’ house. dennis and i already have so much to bring up (i.e pack and play, stroller, etc.) the day before the party so we wanted to make sure we have enough room in the car. i had to postpone this trip because i realized that my idea for a backdrop isn’t going to work because it’ll be too big to transport even in an suv. so, i was left scrambling for alternative ideas. genie assisted in helping narrow down the options, and saturday will be spent (hopefully) starting and completing the backdrop with the help of two friends!

a lot has happened since the last post. penny’s first tooth is finally trying to break through! we can see, and feel, the top of a tooth on her bottom gum. she’s been fussy during the daytime lately but usually during mealtimes. she’d rather play than sit in a high chair… she’s still sleeping very well at night so we haven’t noticed any changes (thank goodness).

penny had also outgrown her car seat a while ago but we kept putting off purchasing a convertible seat because we figured she would be okay until her first birthday. but then we noticed her feet were sticking out from the car seat more than they had been, and we read an article that a fellow parent had shared in a parenthood group on facebook about switching to convertible seats sooner rather than later. dennis had taken a picture from the newest edition of the baby bargains book and the britax boulevard clicktight was the best-rated of the bunch, so we went with that. it arrived yesterday and we can tell penny is already much more comfortable in it. we already took her to the pool for a family swim, cheesecake factory for dinner, and to the grocery store.


our friends, esther and william, came down from massachusetts with baby olivia (aka ollie) to visit us a few weeks ago. this is olivia k., not olivia g. (genie’s “olivia.” 😀 – a very popular name this year!) it was super sweet of them to make that drive to come see us and we all had a wonderful time. we joked that the boys seemed to enjoy the play date the most but in all seriousness i think they did. they played table tennis, ps4, and basketball while esther and i … played with the babies -_- no, but still, i’m glad dennis had fun because he doesn’t really get to “play” much and i enjoyed my time with esther just having girl talk.

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dennis’ 31st birthday was on the 17th and he spent the day golfing with his buddies. he ended up being late for a family dinner but he had had a great day, so that’s all that matters.

after an enjoyable weekend with friends, dennis and i realized how we need to take more time to take care of ourselves, and have fun too. as much as penny is the light of our lives, we can’t forgot to “treat” ourselves and go out once in a while without her. yes, we’ve been on a few vacations since penny was born but a date night needs to happen more often. being home with penny all day, i sometimes forget how deprived i am of adult interaction. thankfully, my in-laws live nearby so usually they can take care of penny if i have dates with friends.

i was able to catch up with two friends that i worked with a few years ago. one recently got married and the other is getting married in july. we went out for happy hour and just laughed and laughed about our teaching experiences.. while also griping about the education system.

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i guess i’ll make light of it even though it’s a heavy topic but i got laid off recently. connecticut, like all of the other states, has had a major cut in their budgets for schools so teachers are getting laid off and schools are closing. the town that i’m working in laid off 17 teachers (it actually became 15 because 2 resigned) and may even close one elementary school. it’s all by seniority and i missed the cut-off date by two months. truthfully, i was upset (and shocked) and even cried although i had been feeling ambivalent about returning in the fall. it’s more of a pride thing, you know?

so many friends, and of course dennis above all, have been sending love and offered encouraging words like how i get to spend even more time with penny. plus, i can always work somewhere else. two teachers have been rehired in the meantime and i’m actually third in line to be called back so there’s a possibility. i fervently believe everything happens for a reason so i’m letting go, and letting God.

oh! another important event occurred that weekend: penny’s cake smash! i’ll actually not go into too much detail here because it’ll end up being a l o n g post with a plethora of pictures.. so i’ll save that for the next post, but.. it went well and i’m glad it’s done and over with! i’ll share a few pictures here for those that were not able to view them on facebook. again, i’ll go into specifics in the next post and share how i created a “home studio” and made a giant cupcake. we saved a lot of money this way!

until then, enjoy these adorable pictures 🙂

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diy play kitchen

finally. here’s the post on how to spruce up a play kitchen for your little one. it doesn’t have to be the ikea kitchen; it can be any play kitchen. i’m just going to show you what improvements i made to penny’s kitchen so you can incorporate some (or all!) of these ideas into whichever kitchen set you end up getting for your child.

we decided to get the duktig kitchen from ikea. it’s only $99 and is a blank canvas because it features blonde wood (a swedish staple) and minimalist details. we knew that we didn’t want to get something too girly or pink because penny’s future sibling(s) could be brother(s). plus, we wanted something that would go well with her play room and not clash.

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here’s what the duktig kitchen looks like. it’s not bad, but definitely a little boring!

before i decided what i wanted to do, the amazing pinterest offered a lot of ideas. so again, i am not taking credit on how well the final product turned out.. although it did take quite a lot of patience. i was hoping to whip out the big reveal in 2, 3 days tops but i didn’t take into account how much spray paint would be needed.. or how long things would take to dry completely.

materials needed

duktig kitchen (or any kitchen!)

spray paint: white and gold (i used krylon)

big pieces of cardboard

white foam board

marble contact paper (found on amazon or home depot, loews, etc.)

lever, ruler, pencil & eraser, and a black sharpie

all-purpose glue and/or packaging tape

gloves (latex or cloth)

scissors and a cutting tool (box cutter)

the first thing i did was to spray all the of the hardware, gold. at first i used craft paper to rest the pieces on but i found out the hard way that it sticks onto the paint. i had to respray multiple times to mask the spots where the paint lifted from being stuck onto the paper. use cardboard!!! also, you want to get, at least, 2 cans of white spray paint. i went through 3, and that’s because i used some for the ikea chairs (although i only sprayed 2 small boards). to save time, and spray paint, i didn’t paint the side of the boards that would face inwards, if you get my drift. these would be hidden when assembled so you wouldn’t see the white paint.

again, use cardboard!

then, i used the ikea manual to figure out which boards go where when assembled so i could avoid spraying certain sides if necessary.

spray painting these boards white took the longest… days.. it took many coats of white spray paint to get an even look because the boards soaked up the paint. it also didn’t help that it rained often and was really windy during this time, making it difficult to get any work done. i would spray paint out on the back patio (thankfully the sunroom above provides a roof) but the wind would just blow the spray paint everywhere. this is where i figured out gloves would come in handy because i got a lot of spray paint on my fingertips from moving pieces around, and also when the wind would decide to blow while i was spraying.

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notice how i only sprayed the legs for one of the boards because that’s the side that faces inwards when assembled.

after the boards were complete, i made the faux subway tile backsplash using a white foam board, sharpie, and a ruler. i recommend having a lever or anything longer than a ruler, like a yardstick for straight, even lines. i didn’t have one so i had to erase frequently.

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i laid the foam board above the countertop to get an idea of how well it would fit. i ended up trimming the edges so they wouldn’t stick out from behind the kitchen walls.

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i forget what i did here, but i think i measured every 2.5 inches so i could get even lines.

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here’s where a yardstick would come in handy. i used a ruler to draw lines all the way across the board and i had to keep shifting the ruler.

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i measured three inches across to make the individual tiles. remember to alternate every row.

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here’s what it looks like after retracing the pencil lines with a black sharpie.

next was the faux marble countertop! i unrolled the marble contact paper and peeled off the protective paper. then, i placed the countertop face down on top of the paper and pressed firmly.

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after folding up the sides of the contact paper, cut an ‘x’ across the openings for the stove and sink. then you wrap the pieces around so they stick to the underside of the countertop. the corners proved to be very tricky. i had to keep unpeeling the paper and snipping here and there to try and get smooth, rounded corners.

finally, i started assembling the kitchen. i did this while penny was playing in the same room. you do want to be very careful as there are a lot of screws. i placed everything on a table and made sure i didn’t drop anything. penny is also really great at entertaining herself so she would crawl over sometimes to touch the furniture but then crawl away to play. i also had dennis with me most of the time so that helped immensely.

the last bit was to attach the backsplash to the kitchen. i held it behind the kitchen and saw that the edges peeked out on either side. i marked both sides and trimmed the edges. i applied all-purpose glue to the board but it still fell off.. what kept the board from staying put was taping it down with packaging tape. it’s not noticeable and you can always peel it off after the glue dries, though i kept the tape on.

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ta-da! the finished kitchen!! it’s much more glamorous and eye-catching than the original model, isn’t it? it was definitely a labor of love, but well worth it!

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penny keeping herself busy by reading.. she loves to read books, like her mama!

now that the diy furniture stuff is out of the way, i’ve been focusing full-time on planning for penny’s birthday: it’s in a month!!! i’ve had a lot of help from my sister and genie on decorations, and dennis has provided assistance with the big items. i’m halfway done with the second dol tower but i still have another one left after that…

penny’s smash cake photo session is this friday so we’ve been prepping for that as well. she will be wearing a hanbok that my mom gave us for one of the outfit changes, and she will wear a different hanbok for the actual party. it’s neat that she will get to wear both a traditional and a modern one. all that’s left for friday’s photo shoot is her cake: i’ll be making a giant cupcake friday morning so fingers crossed that it turns out well! ah, we also have to figure out what the parents are going to wear… that’s always a dilemma.