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.

penelope’s newborn photo shoot

like any first-time parents, dennis and i were beyond excited for the arrival of our little one as soon as we learned of the good news. as we anxiously spent the next nine months preparing to welcome a baby into our lives, we made many decisions. some were major like finalizing my birth plan and choosing a name while others were decidedly less significant such as the nursery paint colors.

one of the important choices included whether or not we should do a newborn photo shoot. while researching photographers we quickly realized that it was quite a costly commitment. after discussing it with one another we decided that it would be well worth spending our hard-earned money to have high quality photos of our first born child.. especially with the charming props and adorable poses.

it’s recommended to have the shoot held during the first 14 days of life because that’s when newborns have the deepest sleep. this will make it possible to put them in the adorable poses that we see on pinterest and facebook. because of conflicting schedules, we scheduled penny’s shoot right on day 14. even then she was being stubborn as she woke up a few times and in one photo her leg dangled over a stool despite the photographer repeatedly attempting to tuck it underneath her chest.

we hope you enjoy penny’s photos 🙂

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our little angel

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she looks like a little potato

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here’s another bit of her stubbornness peeking through!

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at peace

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adorable tush

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it kind of looks like she’s read for a workout sesh 🙂

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love the rustic look

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proud daddy

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if you are considering a newborn photo shoot for your lo, here are two things to keep in mind:

* your budget – what are you willing to spend? remember that the session cost is separate from whatever package of photos you purchase. our session alone was $250 before tax for a 3-4 hour shoot. then we had to decide which package we wanted (hard copies, CD of images, canvases, etc.) the shoot takes a while because you want the baby to be asleep for certain poses. if the baby is awake, she needs to be fed to make her sleepy. the studio is also very toasty to help the baby stay warm during the shoot since many require the baby to be naked. in addition, there’s a high chance of the baby peeing and pooping (on you!) so time is spent on the clean-up.

* time frame – since newborn photo shoots have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, many photographers are finding themselves booked months in advance. it is advised to book a session 2-3 months before your due date so you can secure a date. once the baby arrives, you will need to contact your photographer to set up the actual date.

now that we have the hard copies as well as the digital images, we just need to have wrapped canvases made and regular photos framed to display on our spartan walls. i’m also itching to create a scrapbook but oh, to find the time…

penelope, where art thou?

d+5 – penelope was due may 8th, and here we are five days later still waiting for her arrival. in all honesty, i had a feeling she wouldn’t arrive before the 12th. why the 12th? i had been keeping track of my cycle using an app called ‘pink pad’ since may 2014 and discovered that i have a longer cycle than the average woman. when doctors guess the baby’s due date, it really is just guessing since it’s quite difficult to know when exactly a woman conceived. knowing that i have a longer cycle, i also knew that i ovulated later so i calculated that my due date is actually may 12th. well, today is the 13th and she’s late anyway but that’s fairly typical of first babies.

i know she’ll come out when she’s ready but it’s been difficult sleeping at night these past several days wondering if she’ll finally make her grand debut. in the meantime, i have been relishing my time alone with dennis, and yuri. pretty soon, yuri won’t be an only “child” so the three of us have been busying ourselves with activities. staying active is a great way to not only get your mind off the baby but to also keep your body in shape for labor and delivery.

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yesterday, dennis and i went to the gym. i walked on the treadmill for half an hour at varying degrees of incline and speed. when i’m home, i also walk yuri often and use a step tracker via iphone to encourage physical activity. after the treadmill, i used light weights to tone my arms. i’m very much looking forward to getting back in shape for the summer and i have slowly been buying new pieces to add to my wardrobe as motivation.

i’m also looking forward to pairing my outfits with these lovely flats i received for my first mother’s day gift:

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these white tory burch flats are perfect for summer, and the perforated material allows circulation as well. i recently purchased white espadrille wedges and white chuck taylors as well.. going through a shoe binge right now.

after the gym, we took yuri for a walk at the rails to trails hiking trail in our town. she enjoyed being off-leash and exploring the grounds.

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another recent outing was to bigelow state park. until today, the weather had been hot and in the upper 70s to 80s so we took great advantage of that. unfortunately, the pollen has been unforgiving to dennis (i have only suffered having itchy eyes now and then) but he’s been a trouper.

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if you have the opportunity to start maternity leave before the baby’s due date, take advantage of quality time that you have with your significant other because once the baby arrives, everything will be about the baby. of course as the baby gets older and a schedule is somewhat established (or the semblance of one), it’ll be easier to make dates with friends and have date nights but the first few weeks will be about adjusting to a new lifestyle.

one suggestion is to pamper yourself with a manicure & pedicure. i’m not one of those girls that gets a manicure every week; in fact, i’m fairly certain i haven’t had one all winter. and it was a l-o-n-g winter. ladies, you’ll probably be in the delivery room for a while and i, for one, don’t want to be embarrassed of my calloused and rough feet that had been in hibernation mode (although dignity flies out the window once you’re in a hospital gown, screaming and sweating) all winter. just a simple mani/pedi helped preoccupy my mind and made me feel better about myself – your body goes through so many changes and it’s easy to feel unattractive and undesirable.

disappointingly enough, i wasn’t satisfied with the mani/pedi service i received at korean-owned nail salon in downtown west hartford. the massage and exfoliation was great (to the point that i was being lulled to sleep) but the workmanship was shoddy. last night, i repainted my nails using two colors that my sister gifted me: good as gold & eternal optimism. blush & gold, a trendy combo at the moment and also part of penelope’s nursery scheme.

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even though i’m very anxious for penelope to be here i am still grateful that i can have the energy and time to do ordinary tasks like updating my blog and watching tv without worrying about a baby quite yet.

ct baby shower

baby P is currently 4.4 lb. which puts her in the 36th percentile – a little smaller than average but she’s healthy. My 32-week check-up was two days ago and I was told to come back today for an ultrasound because she seemed small. That was two long days filled with unease for me… thrilled and relieved about the good news.

All her other measurements such as her torso and leg were above average though so maybe she has a calling to be a model..? ha~

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it was tough getting a good picture of her because she kept moving and the placenta was just above her head

it has been a month since my last post. every day i thought of posting an update but i couldn’t bring myself to do it because of exhaustion from carrying a growing baby around on top of being on my feet all day with kindergarteners. all i ever want to do is just curl up on the couch, snack, and zone out while watching tv. it’s.so.hard to get myself out of bed in the morning especially since it’s dark when i wake up now due to daylight savings.

report card conferences are also next week so i’ve been scrambling to get work done and be prepared for that. just one thing after another… ok, enough ranting… i really wanted to share the lovely details from my ct baby shower that was held at my house on march 7th.

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i hadn’t pampered myself since… well, since my pre-pregnancy days. i wanted to feel good and look nice for photos so i got eyelash extensions and airbrush makeup for the shower. ladies, remember to treat yourself once in a while…

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group photo 🙂 missing is my friend, lauren, who had to leave early to check out a wedding venue

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it’s a tradition to do a “funny face photo” when i participate in group photos

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super cute easel that dennis purchased from ikea – only $15! the other side is a dry-erase board

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genie, liz, me, and mouy

this adorable shower would not have been possible without much assistance from my dear friends. btw, genie (on left) is 38 weeks along and mouy (on right) is 21 weeks 🙂

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dennis and me

and, of course… my amazing husband was so hands-on with the details and delegating tasks. he had food catered from black eyed sally’s in hartford which was mouthwateringly delicious – i am pretty certain everyone went back for second and third helpings. he also organized the rentals and purchased necessities like sparkling juice, wine, and tablecloths being a few.

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the set-up

i purchased scrapbooking paper from michaels and used those as placemats – a great idea that i got from pinterest.

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this cake might have been the star of the show. mouy’s friend bakes on the side and she whipped up this gorgeous cake. not only did it look wonderful, but it tasted fantastic as well. i saved the adorable fondant shoes.. they were too cute to eat.

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genie baked the cupcakes among other treats. the pink buttercream frosting is homemade and tasted like it came from a high-end cupcake shop. i thought peeps would be a cute touch.

all the little details were made by genie including the pink paper flower next to the cupcake stand and the paper fans next to the cake.

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phenomenal cake pops made by the cake baker as well… everything was perfect

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it’s all in the details. the first three onesies (l to r) are from my sister and the elephant dress is from liz – a souvenir from her trip to thailand.

i found these cute blocks on etsy (what don’t they have?) and had it custom made for my baby girl. the ones that say ’31 weeks’ will last a long time because wording can change from weeks, days, months, and years. they’ll be used in back-to-school and birthday photos for years to come.

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a fun activity for guests to partake in is the headband-making station. headband kits can be purchased online. make sure you provide directions and glue guns for guests. tags are also helpful so parents know the size of the headband and who made it. there were materials left over and i also purchased another kit for my boston shower this weekend.

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another great activity for guests to do is guess which date your baby will be born ~ my friend, liz, made the calendar and i’m also going to use the same one at my boston shower but guests will use a pink inkpad.

IMG_8481if you want, you can also award a prize to the person with the closest date. of course, you need to follow up on that and send it out after your baby is born 😉

IMG_8555last, but not least, custom made wish cards for penelope. after the guests leave and everything is cleaned up, it’s heartwarming to read these while relaxing on the couch which is exactly what i did. they’re wonderful keepsakes that i will put in a scrapbook and i can’t wait for penelope to be able to read them.

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always nice to see different groups of friends mingling and having a great time 🙂

IMG_8497my friend’s daughter, charlotte, enjoyed playing with gift wrap and tissue paper.

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a lamb rocker from pottery barn kids. you can choose to personalize these but i want penny’s future siblings to use them too

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with my mother-in-law and husband

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expecting ladies! from l to r: 21 weeks, 22 weeks, 33 weeks, and 38 weeks.

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this gorgeous two-tone dress is from asos’ maternity line. i purchased it online without trying it on but it fit like a glove.. the sleeves are a little long and loose but i love the dress! the thick material kept me warm as well. i love the two-tone look because it gives the illusion of a slimmer silhouette. at first glance, i thought it was see-through on the sides.

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can’t get enough of the cake ❤

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i had such a lovely time.. thanks to my husband and friends for organizing it, and i am very grateful for everyone that attended or sent gifts our way even though they couldn’t make it. looking forward to the boston shower this saturday!

diy decor

i hope everyone had a lovely weekend. today is my last day of a 4-day weekend. normally, i would’ve had a week-long february break but it was shortened to two days due to our district having 9 snow days last year. i’m pretty bummed to be returning to work tomorrow but  at least it’s three more days until the weekend again.

valentine’s day was very low-key for us this year. first of all, we got hit with another snowstorm albeit a much minor one compared to the ones we’ve had but still not ideal to be out driving. dennis had to work this past weekend anyway and we just wanted to hunker down at home where it’s warm and comfortable. we told each other we wouldn’t give each other presents so we can save money for the baby, but dennis surprised me with a beautiful bouquet and a much-coveted patriots pom hat.

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i’ve been trying to purchase this hat since december but it was out of stock everywhere. (unless you count the exorbitant marked-up prices on ebay.)

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close-up of the bouquet. i love how the roses are placed in the center of the hydrangeas.

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with two baby showers coming up in march (ct and boston), i’ve been preoccupied assisting with details especially since one of my friends organizing the ct one is 33 weeks pregnant. we hung out on sunday to make tissue paper garlands and flowers. both looked easy enough on pinterest but we found out just how time-consuming the projects are, particularly the garlands. i was cutting each tissue paper by hand and painstakingly rolling them to make the garland.

i ended up purchasing a garland cutter from michaels so i could slice 4 tissue papers at once. using the device is a little tricky at first because tissue paper is so delicate and rips easily. the directions recommend not using less than 4 sheets of tissue paper and also putting a piece of copy paper on top to help prevent the papers from snagging on the blades. i also stood up to apply even pressure when moving the blades and instead of slicing them in one go, i made little cutting movements to prevent tearing. they were okay for the most part but some did tear in places.

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the adorable gray-and-white dewey decimal organizing drawers are from land of nod. i love that store – they have a lot of cute toys and accessories for babies, children and even adults. i plan on using the drawers to store things like diaper rash cream, q-tips and other things for the nursery.

here are the directions

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lastly, these two are great finds from homegoods. we can’t wait to hang these up above the changing table in penelope’s nursery. they go with our color theme and fit our vision for a modern-elegant nursery. the one on the left is a canvas and the chandelier one is a mirror.

dream big, sweet pea.

our daughter’s name will be penelope.

we had a girl and boy name picked out a few weeks into my pregnancy so it was either one or the other when we found out the gender. ^_^

I hit the 6 month mark this past Friday. ALREADY. I thought the nine months would drag but it has been flying by. with each passing day, Dennis and I experience feelings of joy and anxiousness. naturally, we are thrilled to be parents but sometimes the prospect of becoming parents terrifies us. I suppose we had a little practice raising a vociferous, energetic pomeranian mix the past four years but a human baby is a different story. never mind worrying if we’re ready because the baby is coming in three months!

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six months!

what’s been helpful during this time is being able to share pregnancy symptoms and my hopes and fears with other expecting moms. one of my good girlfriends is due in early april and she’s been able to give me a heads-up of what to look forward to (or not) in the coming weeks. and it’s also fun to be able to plan things like baby showers and decorating the nursery together. if you ever plan on having a child, try to find a community of moms (and even dads) to share the journey with – being able to swap stories with my friend among others has been greatly beneficial since it’s tough for the father-to-be to truly empathize with the woman’s changing body and what she’s going through no matter how supportive he is. that said, dennis has been so hands-on since day one. these past few months have given me a glimpse of the loving dad that he will be when our baby girl makes her entrance.

dennis and i had long chosen our nursery colors before we knew of the gender. i had been scouring pinterest for inspiration since the day i found out i was pregnant so i’ve had plenty of time to see what colors i wanted. i knew i wanted gray walls – a nice neutral that is modern and chic – and dennis immediately agreed. i also wanted something to make the nursery stand out and was deciding between having an accent wall via a different color or patterned wallpaper or painting stripes on the ceiling. dennis and i settled on the latter because we thought it was such a unique touch. i chose gold which dennis was hesitant about until he painted the ceiling. it is the perfect shade of gold – rich and elegant.

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 we converted the third bedroom into the nursery. the chandelier has been there since we moved in three years ago so we kept it for the nursery, and it’ll be perfect for “princess penelope” as a former colleague put it 🙂

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another panoramic view of the room

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close-up of the chandelier and the gold stripes

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for those of you interested in the colors, here are the paint chips for behr: natural gray and classic gold

before i close, i would like to share one last piece of advice for future parents: remember to relax and still make time for yourselves. not only will you not have the luxury of peace and quiet once the baby arrives but being active helps keep the stress level down for the baby mama and also can help make delivery easier when the time comes. so go out there and have fun when you can… although it’s easier said than done since all i want to do nowadays is veg on the couch…

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yesterday, we went to the uconn vs. cincinnati game in hartford with our friends john and alice. it was an exciting game because it was close the entire time, and uconn won their third game in a row. afterwards, we went to dave & buster’s to eat and play. sad to say, but my arms are sore from an intense sesh of a 4-way air hockey game.

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dennis & me                                                           john & alice