5 years and counting

june 29, 2013. five years ago, dennis and i were married in hamden, connecticut. how has it only been five years? so much has happened since our wedding that it feels more like it has been a decade. one factor is the bit with the emergence of two little ones. at times, i’m still in disbelief that i am a mother. i still feel like a 17-year-old at heart, and I’m still googling ways to solve toddler problems. don’t all parents?

but, there was a time before children. back when dennis and I enjoyed spontaneous date nights and could wake up whenever we wanted to on the weekends. dennis and I began dating in late 2009, but we actually knew of each other since high school circa 2000. dennis is a few years younger than I am so although we shared some mutual friends, we ran in different circles. oh, and he lived in Connecticut while I resided in Massachusetts. how did two teenagers who lived in two different states come to know one another? we both attended Korean churches that are part of a New England Korean community-type of association. this group organizes yearly retreats, and Dennis and I had attended the summer ones.

it wasn’t until 2009, post-college, that Dennis and I became reacquainted at a friend’s house party (a kegger, to be exact. ah, the joys of a kid-free life!) Dennis claims he arrived at the party in time to see me doing a keg stand. I ended up doing four of them that night so, needless to say, I don’t remember much of the party. however, Dennis reached out to me via facebook messenger to get together for a group snowboarding trip to sugar bush in vermont. I’m thinking he thought it was safer to have a casual group hangout rather than a date for the first get-together 🙂

five years ago, we could only imagine what parenthood would be like. we were so excited to become husband and wife, and the prospect of raising children was considered to be in the distant future. fast forward to 2018, and a life with a 3-year-old and a 14-month-old makes it hard to envision one without them.

though the children mean the world to me, I’ve heard, and read, so many times (most often from my mom) that we should put our spouses first, and not the children. of course, this does not mean to neglect or abandon them but to not focus most of our energy in trying to please and win over these tykes. perhaps, even more so with this generation, parents let their children dictate our lives even when we think we are being strict and disciplined. most of us just placate their demands because we want to avoid confrontation and arguing with unreasonable beings. I am totally guilty of this.

also, it’s worth mentioning that I’m fairly certain I’ve talked about this in past post(s) but its importance and validity is a reason why I’m bringing it up again. as I marvel over the past five years, I’m thinking of how dennis and I can focus more on our relationship without it being lost in our children’s world.

date nights are absolutely key in keeping communication and intimacy alive without the distraction of children, but these only occur a few times a month. it’s something as simple as being “unplugged” for an hour to truly prioritize the other person: listen and be engaged in what the other has to say. currently, we do our dance of asking how each other’s day was and sharing any issues that have arisen while offering support for the other. there, done. we eat dinner, tidy up the house, and pass out on the couch while watching Netflix. (these days, it’s dexter and america’s got talent.)

my goal is to have us take the time to have more in-depth conversations – serious and not-so-serious – about anything on our minds. I know being with the kids all day, every day, I have a lot of thoughts and ideas I’d like to share with another adult (and not necessarily with my in-laws all the time). it’s interesting how alone we can feel in this big, big world, isn’t it? we all just want to be heard, and who better to share my innermost thoughts and feelings than with the person I’m married to?

like so many things, it’s a lot easier than done. take for example, this blog post. I’ve been working on publishing this post for nearly two weekstwo! every time I had time (after the kids are in bed for the night), I would start typing and then I would doze off! (I’m actually nodding off as I type this.) or, I would put it off for another day because I had other things to do like read for my book club. certainly it’s my fault for staying up so late every night even though I tell myself every day that today is the day I’ll go to bed before 11. nope.

still, I can keep trying to accomplish small goals. I can also be kinder to myself instead of beating myself up over not completing my never-ending to-do list. love yourself. love those around you.

IMG_0410

IMG_0411

IMG_0412

IMG_0413

IMG_0414

IMG_0415

IMG_0416

IMG_0404

IMG_0405

IMG_0403

IMG_0406

IMG_0417

IMG_0408IMG_0407IMG_0420IMG_0421IMG_0419

IMG_0418

my family

IMG_0433

IMG_0434

IMG_0435

IMG_0436

IMG_0437

IMG_0438

IMG_0423

IMG_0424

IMG_0425

IMG_0426

IMG_0427

IMG_0428

IMG_0429

IMG_0430

IMG_0431

IMG_0432

IMG_0409

aruba

dennis and i returned from a destination wedding in aruba two weeks ago. (has it already been two weeks?) we had such an amazing time: the weather was perfect – sunny and in the lower 90s every day. it hardly ever rains in aruba, but the winds are fierce! they help to cool you down under the blistering sun but it is annoying to have towels and other things fly away. particularly the sand stinging our bodies while we relaxed by the beach was irritating, but a small price to pay to be in paradise!

IMG_7323

the gorgeous riu palace

IMG_8504

the riu palace recently underwent renovations and is easily the most beautiful hotel in the area

IMG_8498

we absolutely loved aruba and would love to go back. what was even better was that it was our 3rd vacation without penny. we love her dearly but we need to have time for ourselves too! being able to sleep in, going to bed whenever, and doing what we wanted to do was heavenly… more trips in the future, please!

my main goal was to lay out by the beach and get tan! mission accomplished, although dennis and i had horrendous burn marks on the first day from the sun’s strong rays (even though i had reapplied twice). thankfully they faded into a tan.

IMG_7232IMG_7236IMG_7304

IMG_8235

every day, the staff at riu toss out water balloons and guests go nuts throwing them at each other. so bad for the environment 😦

IMG_8233

view from our balcony

besides laying out by the pool or the ocean and going into the water, we went on one excursion: the jolly pirate! it’s basically a booze cruise with a rope swing. we had a blast, and i also took pictures of (almost) everyone there with my selfie stick. ever since penny was born, and even before that, i had cut way back on alcohol. so even though this was an all-inclusive vacation, i didn’t drink  much and i didn’t feel the pressure to have to just because it was included.

IMG_8600IMG_8601IMG_8602IMG_8603IMG_8604IMG_8605IMG_8500

IMG_8340

about to swing!

IMG_8341

IMG_8330

IMG_8331

dennis was the best one

IMG_8378IMG_8599

IMG_8501

gorgeous caribbean sunset

IMG_8380

IMG_8441IMG_8440the main reason for going to aruba, of course, was to see our friends, danielle and ryan, get married! it was a beautiful, low-key wedding by the beach complete with paparazzi – the beach-goers surrounded us and we are saved on people’s phones and tablets all over the world probably. dinner was indoors but in an open-air setting. after the cake, we moved to an outdoor area by the pool to get our dance on!

IMG_7333

groom and his groomsmen!

IMG_8503IMG_7337

IMG_7346

the radiant bride!

IMG_7377

a kiss at sunset

IMG_7359IMG_7374IMG_7371

IMG_8495

IMG_7381IMG_7385IMG_7755IMG_8499

although we were on vacation i didn’t go too crazy with the partying. i was tired, and i really wanted to cherish the time i could sleep long hours without interruption. even so, when i went back to the room i would get lost in a book that was i reading: euphoria by lily king. i really enjoyed having quiet time to myself, and even though most of our party was still out drinking or mingling i chose to end the night early almost every night we were there. i don’t regret it all!

IMG_7226IMG_8506IMG_8505

IMG_7224

IMG_8490IMG_8502IMG_7225

IMG_7227

taking in the nightly entertainment at the hotel

penny was fabulous, as always, while we were gone.. and she didn’t have separation anxiety at all. she never really has. sometimes she’ll get clingy during leaps or when she’s teething, but we don’t have to worry about her waking up or crying because she misses us. it may happen later on but it hasn’t so far..

to conclude, i’ve included some photos that i took from the couple’s “trash the dress” photo shoot! danielle bought a $200 dress to trash; she didn’t destroy her actual dress!

IMG_8488IMG_8492IMG_8493

aruba, you were so good to us. where are we off to next?

 

#AboutThatLife

IMG_6937

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

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

IMG_7069

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

IMG_7082

she loved this rocking chair!

IMG_7077IMG_7074IMG_7084IMG_7080IMG_7071IMG_7088

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

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

penny’s schedule: 5/24/16

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

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

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

12:30-1pm: lunch

1pm-1:30pm: walk outside

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

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

7:30pm: bedtime

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

IMG_7037IMG_7036IMG_6945IMG_6943IMG_6938

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

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

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

IMG_6934IMG_6929

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

IMG_7021IMG_6999IMG_6981IMG_7014IMG_7015IMG_7017IMG_7020IMG_7011

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

IMG_6951IMG_6952IMG_6962

yuge’s brother, justin

IMG_6967

yuge’s brother, justin

IMG_7049IMG_7007IMG_7027

congratulations to yuge & abi!

 

 

punta cana – destination wedding

we returned last week from vacation #2 without penny. our friends, mayra and evan, held their wedding in punta cana and, of course, we had to go!

IMG_3696

the beautiful bride and groom!

IMG_3691

IMG_3701

IMG_3672

Enter a caption

IMG_3674

the adorable flower girl – the bride’s niece

IMG_3687

IMG_3688

IMG_3948

the lovely bride and her father

IMG_3649

the bouquets

IMG_3708

IMG_3709

IMG_3711

dennis and i were much less worried about penny this time around due to the success of the vegas trip.. mil reassured us with lots of photos and updates via kakaotalk (a korean messaging app). however, this trip still wasn’t without a lot of headaches…

we were supposed to depart at 6am on friday, january 15th, and arrived at bradley airport a little after 4. after getting our boarding passes, we should have stood in the security line but we kept our friends company because one had left his passport in his mom’s car and was waiting for her to come back to the airport with it. we were with them, maybe, ten minutes tops but that time could have been spent waiting in the security line… because by the time we got there we realized just how insanely long that line was: it reached all the way to the other side of the airport! needless to say we missed our flight by MINUTES… the plane was still at the gate but they wouldn’t let us board the plane 😡 dennis and i debated driving down to newark, nj because that’s where our connecting flight was but with morning traffic and dennis’s dad having to come back to get us, we knew we wouldn’t make it. our luggage got on the flight so we had to hope that they wouldn’t get misplaced in newark since we now had to fly out a day later.

initially, i was angry about missing our flight but i got over it fairly quickly. dennis wasn’t that upset either. i guess it’s because there wasn’t anything else we could do, and it was just nice having that extra day spending it with penny. if this had happened even a year ago, i would have probably thrown a tantrum but after having a baby, i suppose i grew up a little, no? since dennis and i had been awake since 3:40am dennis’s mom stayed for the day and took care of penny while we napped.

after a lot of phone calls and being put on hold, orbitz agreed to let us stay an extra day in punta cana to make up for the day that we had lost. we also got the ‘okay’ from hard rock hotel to stay another night with no additional fees. success! 

everything was fine now, right? it was until we got to our hotel. upon checking in, the front desk said we would be charged for friday night because the room was “empty” and we were a “no-show”.. and no, we could not stay until wednesday. after explaining that this had been dealt with and getting orbitz on the phone, we finally got to our room and had an hour to get ready before the welcome dinner at 6pm.

we had a very enjoyable time in punta cana but the changes to our trip didn’t get resolved until monday – two days later – so until then we kept worrying that we would have to leave on tuesday. not something you want hanging over your heads.

pumping, this time, was less of a hassle than it was in vegas. i’ve been pumping every 4-5 hours lately so that gave me plenty of time to be on the beach and do other activities before heading back to the hotel room to pump. i’ve been renting the medela symphony pump (hospital-grade) because my ameda purely yours has been losing suction. i get a lot more output with the hospital pump. the only downside is that it’s so heavy and cumbersome, but i did bring it with me to punta cana. i brought back over 150 oz., or 9.3 lb., of milk! the milk was mostly the reason my luggage was over the weight limit by 10 lb so i had to put the milk into a different carry-on.

IMG_3854

pumping in the security room at the airport in punta cana

IMG_3855

our layover was in dc on the way home and that airport has nursing rooms!

it was so wonderful to get away from the cold and be able to relax. we got a tan from lounging on the beach, celebrated our friends’ beautiful wedding on the beach, and even swam with sharks and sting rays!

IMG_3940IMG_3782IMG_3781IMG_3784

IMG_3817

i took this shot of people walking on the dock during our excursion

IMG_3842

last day in paradise

IMG_3851

sun and wine

IMG_3822

we’re on a boat!

FullSizeRender

cerveza!

IMG_3852

cabana life

IMG_3853

dennis relaxing on a hammock

IMG_3835

dennis enjoying some meat at a brazilian joint

 

 

still, nothing beats home.. especially if you’re under the weather. most of the wedding party and guests caught a viral infection, and many were sick during the trip too – mostly diarrhea.. maybe from the ice in the drinks and brushing their teeth with tap water. i drank mostly beer so i wasn’t affected until i came home. dennis has had a really bad sore throat for over a week now. he got it checked out and it’s not strep so that’s a relief.

dennis goes back to work on thursday so we’ve been spending time together as a family, and taking turns sleeping in while the other tends to penny first thing in the morning. i wish every day was like this. i love my family!

IMG_3620

sunset during our first night

IMG_3621

our room was less than a minute’s walk to the beach

IMG_3619

IMG_3597

the rooms have a spacious 2-person jacuzzi in the middle of the room. it was hard to get out of the tub, let me tell you!

IMG_3648

this arden b jumpsuit is perfect for the beach

IMG_3807

IMG_3819

IMG_3643

IMG_3809

outfit for the wedding

IMG_3944

IMG_3943

like many women, i fretted over what to wear to the wedding and ended up going to the mall twice to find an ensemble. i bought an off-the-shoulder forest green top from forever 21 for $12.90 and paired it with a gold maxi that i had already had!

IMG_3658

danielle, roberta & me

IMG_3717

IMG_3726

the reception was held on the terrace – straight up gorgeous

IMG_3814

IMG_3725IMG_3947IMG_3941

IMG_3767

mother-and-son dance

IMG_3762

father-and-daughter dance

IMG_3769

cake cutting

IMG_3748

the flower girl and her daddy

IMG_3945IMG_3946