#MomGuilt

mom guilt. most of us moms have it. in fact, I’ll even go as far to claim that 99.9% of us do. working moms may experience it due to balancing the demands of their job as well as parenthood; they also may feel guilty for not spending “enough time” with their children and missing out on their developmental milestones. we SAHMs get it too: hey, since we’re home all day, don’t we have time to maintain an orderly house, cook elaborate meals, and make sure the kids are fed and watered? dear lord, if only.

comparing ourselves to other parents as well as wrestling with feelings of inadequacy and failure probably have been around since adam and eve. of course, adam and eve were the only parents at the time so they didn’t have anyone else to compare themselves to; but they probably felt like pretty crappy parents (for lack of a better word) when their son, cain, killed his older brother, abel. i understand that this is a rather severe example but imagine eve’s anguish, shock, and sorrow upon realizing that one of her sons extinguished the life of another. in the meantime, i get worked up if penny ends up having a shorter-than-usual nap: i should’ve fed her more; i should’ve put her down earlier; i should’ve, i should’ve, i should’ve.

i beat myself up over any, and every little thing, that may go “wrong” in our day-to-day life, and i know many moms do too. the thing is, we know we are being unreasonable and overreacting but we can’t help it. there’s a little voice that nags me saying i could’ve done a better job handling a meltdown, preventing penny from tripping over a toy and hitting her head, and so on.. and yeah, maybe i could have.. but take a mental note and try to move on, right? instead i let it steep and the feelings of regret and shame gnaw at me. whether we are first-time moms or are wrangling five kids, we are always going to struggle because that’s what life is about. we think we got this parenting thing down one day and then it throws a curveball at us and says, “gotcha!” nothing is ever easy, and maybe that’s a good thing… at least, in parenting, because it’ll motivate us to put our best effort into it instead of being complacent or negligent.

boy, does penny keep me on my toes and test my boundaries every single day particularly as she gets closer and closer to the “terrible twos.” i don’t want to just throw her under a label and dismiss her behavior and actions because of what may be expected at a certain age. that’s why i try to hard to redirect her behavior, shower her with positivity and encouragement, and attempt to curb my own frustrations and anger.but hey, i’m only human too.. i lose my cool, i admit it. and it’s something i pray about constantly: learning to be patient but also remembering that penny is not yet two years old and still becoming aware of how amazing and vast this world is; it’s a lot for a toddler to take in and i’ve got to be poised and level-headed to guide her in being a patient and loving person.

just remember that this parenting thing will never really get easy. our generation may have it harder than the past ones because of social media. everywhere we turn, we are force-fed images of people appearing to be “the perfect parents.” but we need to remember that everyone struggles, even the rich and famous. my friend shared an article the other day about chrissy teigen opening up about her struggle with postpartum depression. and she feels guilty because she knows she has it good: money and help (her mom lives with her and she has a nanny) so she was mentally preparing herself for the backlash she will unfortunately experience from those who think that celebrities are above us and shouldn’t complain about anything. i readily admit that celebs and the uber-wealthy do seem to have it easier than us normal folk for many things but that doesn’t dismiss the fact that they’re human too. postpartum depression doesn’t handpick who it wants to affect; everyone’s susceptible.

many women are their own worst enemies.. and each other’s enemies. we should all be helping one another instead of bringing each other down. ever since i became a mom, i quickly saw how lonely and scary being a mother really was. your entire life shifts to accommodate this tiny human and it’s a huge adjustment. friends who don’t have kids can’t truly understand until they have one of their own, and when they do, i can’t help but think, “ha!”

i organized and planned a gno tonight with 10 other women. most of them are mom’s and many of them also don’t know one another; in fact, i am the only one that knows every single person because i put the event together. knowing what it feels like to be a first-time mom (or a mom, in general), i wanted to create a fun girls’ night out where we can not only relax but network as well. maybe it can turn into some sort of mommy’s group and we can do monthly gno as well as reaching out to each other for events and play dates. as much as i am excited to go out, i am experiencing the tiniest twinge of guilt for leaving penny at home. heaven forbid, i miss her bathtime and bedtime routine – i’ll only be gone for a few hours, but there it is.. that little voice.. “aw, you’re leaving penny at home? but she’s been so attached to you lately.. and you won’t get to kiss her good night.” i’d like to think that what i’m feeling at this moment is more that i’ll miss her instead of feeling guilty that i’m going out. yes, she can drive me nuts but i do miss her even when i step out to run an errand solo.

so, i’ll go out tonight – 34 weeks pregnant and all – and enjoy being around other women while relishing a still-hot meal and taking the time to truly relax because, you know what? i deserve it. hey little voice, what now?

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my little helper hands me the eggs

 

fun with family & friends

having visitors never gets old… especially when they’re family, and it’s unexpected! we had celebrated my fil’s 70th birthday on july 4th.. but as the 70th birthday is an important occasion we received word from crystal and dan (dennis’ brother and our sister-in-law) that they would drive up from maryland on friday and leave on saturday!

the last time we saw them was for penny’s 1st birthday, and they had flown in for the day. it’s especially times like these when i wish they lived much closer, but at least they aren’t too far enough where they can’t make day (or two) trips.

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snapchatting


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face swap

unfortunately, we didn’t take a group photo of us.. but dan did take candids of us. our family “tradition” is to watch american ninja warrior when we wind down for the night. we also introduced our parents to snapchat and we had a lot of laughs over the various selfie lenses.

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i really like the above and below photos because they’re from two different perspectives.

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on friday, we had a low-key dinner at home with italian food and just hung out watching anw, using snapchat, and enjoying each other’s company. we went to blue back square and ate at cheesecake factory for lunch on saturday. afterwards, we came back to the house and the brothers played ping pong while the rest of us talked. as always, the visit ended way too soon 😦 but we are so thankful that they were able to come up! they should be coming up next for thanksgiving, and we hope to make it out to maryland/dc area soon.. perhaps in april when i have spring break.

the only downside from the weekend was that penny caught some sort of virus. she woke up with a fever of 102 after her second nap on saturday. usually her second naps are 1.5 hours and we have to wake her up but this time she slept for an hour and woke up on her own. the poor thing — she was so warm.. initially she was smiling and being playful, but then she started becoming fussy and crying because she didn’t feel well. we think she may have caught something from playing at a bounce house on friday. dennis and i were looking for an activity to do with penny since it can get mundane being at the house all day. we took her to jumpin’ jonny’s, a bounce house, in our town. she had a great time but it’s easy to see how germ-ridden a place like that can get with sweaty kids running around in socks on vinyl bounce houses that are probably not cleaned often (or at all). needless to say, we won’t be going back there (or any other bounce house) until she’s a bit older…

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penny met this cute girl, savannah, who’s 1.5 years old and they took turns pushing each other on cars.. so adorable!

i’ve been trying to find different activities to do with penny since we can’t always take a walk because the july heat prevents us from going outdoors during lunchtime. sometimes i’ll take her to my in-laws’ place because their condo neighborhood has a pool. it’s going to be in the upper-80s/low 90s this week so i’m thinking of taking her on wednesday.

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she prefers being in the water than being in a float

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yet another rabbit in our backyard!

on one particularl day, dennis suggested the mall and they have an indoor children’s playground so i decided to take her there. lo and behold, the playground is being moved and renovated so it wasn’t at its usual spot 😦 i ended up taking her to barnes & noble since the children’s section usually has a play area. penny liked just being able to get out of the stroller and walking around — she doesn’t find the gluxe as comfortable as the vista. she also played with the trains at the thomas the tank engine train table. a toddler joined her and they shared the trains.

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one of her all-time favorite books: the going to bed book by sandra boynton


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her current favorite: goodnight, moon

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we ate lunch at the food court – pizza and baked ziti – but penny was more interested in the carousel. i didn’t let her go on it this time (she had gone before) but i did let her “drive” the coin-operated cars… minus the coins. she enjoyed turning the steering wheels 🙂 to adults, it may not seem like much but the stimulation from being at the mall alone is a lot for a toddler. she passed out quickly for her afternoon nap after we got back and, yes, i had to wake her up.

speaking of “waking her up”, penny’s been having erratic naps lately.. and taking a long time to fall asleep. i think she’s trying in earnest to drop a nap. i know i mentioned this a few times in previous posts but the signs are coming up again. she has been fighting her morning nap like she’s not tired enough to take one. her awake time from morning wake-up to first nap had been 3 hours, and lately she’s sitting up in her crib and playing. if she isn’t playing, she nods off but fights sleep while sitting up!

yesterday, she fought both morning and afternoon nap. granted, she had slept for 12 hours straight the night before so maybe she wasn’t tired enough.. we took her out of her crib at 11am and kept her up until 12:30pm to see how a one-nap day would work. nightmare… she was overtired.. i think we kept her up too long.. reading about 2-to-1 nap transitions, it says to gradually push back the morning nap in 15-minute increments and i just shot towards a 12:30pm time.. yikes. i figured, we had to squeeze in lunch so we would have to do a later time.. well, now i know. she cried on/off and was nodding off for her second nap. she finally fell asleep and woke up after 50 minutes.

she was off for the rest of the evening. i left the house around 4pm to meet up with friends for a gno and dennis said that penny cried basically non-stop after i left. she has been experiencing some separation anxiety / attachment to me lately so that didn’t help with her being overtired. she flat-out refused dinner and milk (whoa) so she went to bed at 6pm on an empty stomach. for those that know penny or read my blog regularly, you know that penny loves her baths.. but she even cried during bath time!  poor dennis… he actually rocked her for a while to soothe her and she ended up falling asleep in his arms.. only to wake up when he placed her in the crib. but..she ended up sleeping from 6pm to 6:45am — that’s nearly 13 hours! so much for waking up at night because she’s hungry..

i still use the babytracker app religiously, and thank god for that because i can see her sleeping patterns and figure out when/how to transition her to one nap. this one’s a doozy, i hear.. and i just want to make it as least painful as i can for all of us. i’ll keep you posted!

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i still had a lovely time with these ladies despite being worried about penny

the girls and i tried out bar louie, a new restaurant that opened up recently in blue back square. initially we sat indoors because all of the outdoor seating was taken, but we spied an empty table and ran outside to claim it! 4/5 of us are married and 3/5 of us are baby mamas so this was a much-needed night out. much thanks to the baby daddies taking care of the little ones so us ladies could relish time together. ❤

and last.. but not least.. for this post.. our dear friends, alice and john, welcomed their baby boy, ethan 진명 choi, on june 30, 2016. he was 19.5 inches long and weighed 6 lb. 14 oz. the pictures john took of us holding ethan make it seem like we are the proud parents of a baby boy, haha. seriously though, we are overjoyed for our friends. we love you!

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keep on keepin’ on

dennis and i are going to aruba this saturday so we have also been busy preparing for the trip. we purchased sunscreen and some clothes (well, i did) and we have to make a trip to babies ‘r us to make sure we have plenty of diapers and wipes. penny is still being super fussy about food so i’ve been making purees and stuffing food into her pouches. i still purchase ready-made food pouches too since there is a wide variety to choose from. i’m really not worried about leaving penny because this’ll be our third vacation without her and she’s been sleeping all night without waking up since she was 7 months old. she’s in great hands and i know my mil is going to make a ton of korean food to feed penny too.

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penny’s footprints from birth to one year old

summer has officially started. ( in our book, anyway.) the first day of summer is june 20th – hey, yuri’s 6th birthday! – but dennis remarked that it feels like summer after memorial day ends, and i agree. plus, we’ve been in the midst of a heat wave in connecticut. now that the weather is nice, i try to go out for walks 3x a day: usually around 8:30/9am, 1/1:30pm, and 6/6:30pm, or depending when penny is done with dinner. with the temperature being in the high 80s~low 90s along with high humidity, it’s been tough trying to take a lunchtime stroll. even though we gave yuri a short haircut, it’s still much too hot for her. normally penny loves being outdoors but she’s been whining (partly due to the heat and partly because she wants to) because it’s still stiflingly hot even with a sun hat and a stroller shade. i bring out a water cup for her now. for our lunchtime walk today, yuri barely made it around our neighborhood before i put her back in the house and let her look outside through the storm door while penny and i kept walking.

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we’ve also been taking trips to the mall to walk around with the cool ac blasting. thankfully we have central air at home and our basement is refreshing without having to turn the air on, but alas, there is no cool air blowing down on us when we walk outside.. only the occasional breeze, and sometimes it’s hot air.

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so stinking cute

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she loves to look at my parents’ wedding photo

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drinking smoothies

our family had a wonderful long weekend. we didn’t go on vacation or go to a beach but we loved spending time together. dennis was lucky enough to have a four-day weekend without requesting any days off so we spent our time taking penny swimming and hanging out with the grandparents.

on saturday night, i also had a gno with mouy and katie. we went to the claypen, a paint-your-own pottery studio. it’s byob so we drank red wine and ate italian cookies while painting. afterwards, we had dinner at rizzuto’s.

i was also able to catch up with some of my former coworkers at kathryn’s surprise bridal shower. i went to school a little early so i could catch some of the students as well.

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the bride-to-be with the apron i got her from anthro


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kathryn and heather


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made by kelly

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we bought penny a baby float for $9.99 from tj maxx


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painting pottery pieces at the claypen

penny’s 12-month appointment was last friday. she got 3 vaccines: varicella (chicken pox), hepatitis a, and mmr. she cried so much and was inconsolable until we gave her milk. even then she would stop drinking to cry. what finally helped was when i sat her on my lap and sang her songs while giving her more milk.

Penny is now 30 1/4 inches tall and 20.2 lb! She’s in the 75th percentile for her height! After a lag between 6 to 9 months, she went through a growth spurt.

i’ve been trying to wean penny from breast milk since she was 10.5 months old. i am down to 2 pumps a day but she’s drinking even more milk lately! i got the thumbs-up to give penny hemp milk as it has plenty of vitamin d, fat, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. thing is, she is supposed to get 16 oz. max a day once she fully transitions but right now she is drinking anywhere from 23-28 oz. a day! hemp milk is not cheap and we are flying through the boxes… i hope her phase of refusing food stops soon -__- i hear it’s common at this age, and it can actually last for several months so we still have to keep offering a variety of food and be patient. i have also been making smoothies for penny to drink to see if she drinks less milk but it’s not the case.. she’ll still drink both.

on tuesday, we met up with the gardners at jack & allie’s for story hour. it looks like we’re going to make it a weekly thing so that’s fun! penny still loves the green rocking chair. we were the last ones to leave the book store because she kept wanting to sit on it and touch the picture of the frog.

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thanks to genie for taking these pictures!

the pictures from penny’s first birthday have slowly been uploaded to her album via our photographer (and cousin’s husband) but they’re not all there yet. we’re eagerly anticipating the family photos and then we’ll choose which photos to develop and frame. in the meantime, i’ve also been sending out thank-you cards in small batches. i hope to be done with those tonight.

well, after penny wakes up we are making a trip to the mall to return some items and also get more exercise in! i got a fitbit recently so i’ve been trying to reach 10,000 steps every day. i have a competitive nature and i like to win.. so i hope having my fitbit motivates me to keep moving. i’ve also been going to the gym lately and i’m eager to get back into shape!

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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!